<I>Guys, those two scythes are connected to each other, just like you are.”</I> Okay, that's interesting.
<I>“Red is raw, fiery. Untamed, unfocused. It stands alone in a barren world. Green is life, connectedness, stability. A tree of two trunks, twisted together for greater strength.” </I> Oooh, I love that.
<I>'Spike has been a good influence on Buffy. She's much less annoying now.'”</I> Yeah, I can see Anya saying that. *grin*
<I>“Harris, I was wondering if I might ask a favor.”</I> Now I'm curious.
The scythe explanation is a favorite of a few readers, it seems. I don't go on poetic tangents often, so I'm always a little surprised when they are well received.
And the Anya quote was just tactless, honest, and funny enough to be completely believeable as a direct quote.
on re-read I think I finally got where the name "sparky" comes from (his soul, the spark?). Are we going to get more back story as to when she started calling him that?
You will eventually see (in a flashback sort of way) the first time she called him Sparky. Four or five chapters after that, she explains her full reasoning for giving him that nickname. It's slightly more in depth than the obvious, but you've got the top layer figured out.
It's going to absolutely kill me if you Joyce dies. I can see where Buffy gets her sarcasm. Buffy and Spikes bickering is amusing, its amazing they get anything done. You write their banter so well. I was surprised but pleased that Buffy acknowledged that Spike got his soul for her. That is a huge thing, very wig worthy. Its nice to see her come out the other side of the freak out and not view it as him trying to manipulate her, but acknowledging that he did it to be someone who could be in her world, even if she never decided to love him. The fact she doesn't like the soul, shows how much Buffy as a person has grown. She judges not based a preset formula of what is right or wrong, but the person themselves.
Matching sycthes! Its like his and hers towels....but way cooler. I'm so excited to see them work together.
Becoming immortal is a huge step. The gaurdian is right in their fears. Who wants to live forever and watch everyone you know and love die. Who wants to fight wars for eternity?
Its good to see Dawn and Spike's relationship back on track. S7 nearly gutted me. I bet Spike is chuffed to have his girl back.
Buffy acting like a grown up should not be so foriegn to us. It's a shame that it is. But I like to think she was getting there. Season 7 Buffy + time to work stuff out (hopefully) = Echoes Buffy. That's what I was going for, anyway.
There's a lot of 'broken relationship' baggage that came back in time with them, and every one of them is being handled a little differently. With Dawn, they went back to a time before any of the breaks even happened. It's like a clean slate. Both Buffy and Spike are taking advantage of that, and you know they're happy to have the chance. Personally, I'm just happy to have a chance to see how much less annoying Dawn is when she's not being treated like a little kid. They're taking Spike's advice from chapter one. Basically, 'treat her like she's almost an adult, and that's how she'll act.' The pay off is already starting to show, and will show much more in future chapters.
So many things made me smile this chapter.
“Let's keep it limited to a 'concept' for a little longer, please,” Joyce murmured, still staring at the paper.
“This line, right here.” She pointed. “I seem to have developed the amazing ability to make large deposits from my hospital bed.”
“Congratulations. There are worse superpowers to have.” He dropped his gaze back to his book.
Spike shrugged. “You can accept it graciously, or I'll take your first born in trade.”
She said -and I quote- 'Spike has been a good influence on Buffy. She's much less annoying now.'”
The question of Spike's soul is an interesting one, and I just don't know where you're going with it (which is a good thing btw). Buffy was so proud of him by the end, and I think that definitely fed into his own sense of self worth after his resurrection in canon, but here of course they haven't had that revelatory moment in the cavern. In a way, I feel like Buffy is inadvertently devaluing what Spike went through to get it when she acts ambivalent about him losing it, and I wonder if Spike resents that on some level (unconsciously?). Canon is more than a little confused on this point but I personally feel that Spike's soul is more than a simple conscience. That's the most obvious thing, given the immediate and overwhelming guilt, but to me it seems to also temper his demonic instincts in a way he tried when soulless but often got wrong. It gives him balance in a way, and I think he came to appreciate that later on (in Angel S5), though of course we won't see that either :).
It also gives him an insight into Buffy and the way that her guilt shapes her that was catastrophically absent previously. Your Buffy is, I feel, a little more emotionally honest than canon, and this is perhaps the product of having had those extra months in the new timeline to think about things, but I wonder if either of them really knows how to make things work between them without Spike's soul. Right now, the way I'm leaning is, I think you're trying to give him the chance to do it for himself rather than for Buffy. But that's nothing but speculation at this point, obvs ;)
One thing I am hoping very much to see is a little bit of an insight into the insides of Buffy & Spike's heads. I very much appreciate the show- not-tell approach, but at the same time I think that Spike in particular must be having some major internal conflict, and I'll confess that I'd love a peak into it. For example, getting to be a part of Buffy's life, provide for her, help her family, care for her in the way he's always wanted, must be making him incredibly happy, but at the same time, Buffy still won't say to him the one thing he longs for. With his soul still new and raw, there's probably all kinds of disbelieving gratitude and feelings of unworthiness mixed in with moments of anger and resentment. The arguments are fun, but I'm starting to yearn for more of their internal life as well :)
The two green scythes is just fascinating. So many layers to this story, fabulous
ETA: Oh AND, I love the tree with two trunks imagery, but I wanted to tell you, the analogy that immediately sprung to my mind (before they saw the guardian) was of a single tree, with Buffy as the trunk/branches/above ground part, and Spike as the roots/below ground part. You know, light and dark, but part of a whole abd absolutely necessary to each other. No point to this, just wanted to share :)
I'm thrilled so many people are noticing my favorite lines in this chapter. I love Tree Trunks for a lot of reasons, but one of the big ones is that character voices really flowed well, and I got some great lines and moments out of them.
My approach with the soul is that Buffy thinks it should be his choice, that she doesn't want it to be about her. I think she knows he can never completely divorce her from the reasoning for having it, but she'd prefer it be at least mostly about him, choosing it for himself.
Angel losing his soul was about her. How Angel acted with it was about her (at least during his Sunnydale years). None of that turned out to be all that great for Buffy. Then Spike got his soul back for her. She's *got* to still be uncomfortable with the direct association, given the Angel history. It would be weird if she weren't. That's all based on my personal interpretations of canon, and Buffy's repreated 'he has a soul now' lines in season 7, which never sounded like she thought it was good news, just a card to play to make people understand why she was staying close to him. There was never a single moment that even hinted Buffy thought the soul was a potentially happy thing, that I can recall.
In Echoes, she's finally admitted she still doesn't know what to do about it, about such a self-destructive, yet incredibly admirable act being done in her name. It's both a burden and a gift. So she's doing the only thing she can think of: encouraging him to rethink his reasoning, make it less about her. I think everyone is hoping he'll keep it, even if it means taking another trip to Africa in the summer of '02, Buffy is likely among them, but she doesn't want to be the reason. Not only does her history make it an uncomfortable position, but this line of encouragement is a sign of respect for Spike as a person, independent of her. His mind, his choice. Given the issues with the chip and the trigger (still fresh in their minds), Spike's free will is an issue worth addressing. That they traveled back to a pre-soul era gave me an opportunity to put that issue on the table. I couldn't pass it up.
As for getting into their heads, we're coming up on a major turn in the story, where the relationship itself gets center stage -off and on- for a little while. Some of it is really heavy, semi-angsty, plot stuff, some of it is just plain fun and borderline fluffy, (yeah, I swing for the fences once in a while) and in between, there's some 'where we stand' and 'what I'm thinking' stuff. It's likely a little less internal viewpoint than you'd like, but I think it might satisfy your craving.
Ooh! I like your image of the tree! Once again (totally a recurring theme with Echoes), the significance of the tree is something I didn't plan. I put the tree out behind the winery to give them a reference point for the location discussion, and let the scene develop around it. My initial reasoning for the tree not being there in their memories is that if there was nothing but stone down below, the tree wouldn't have made it past being a sapling, having nowhere for the roots to grow. When they got to the Guardian, her explanation of the color ended up also explaining the tree in a better way. More poetic, more meaningful, and far, far less practical than my 'I need a point of reference for this little field they're standing in.' *shrug* It just happened. I didn't even know the tree mattered until the Guardian said it did. :P But I liked it, liked the imagery and the implications, so I kept it and named the entire chapter after it.
Of course, like an idiot, I kept trying to rewrite the color/tree explanation later, to no avail. I couldn't improve it. I should have just left it alone to start wit.
~I think she knows he can never completely divorce her from the reasoning for having it, but she'd prefer it be at least mostly about him, choosing it for himself.
This is what I mean about a more emotionally mature Buffy :) That she's able to see beyond her own needs and wants, especially when it comes to Spike, is quite a lot of growth.
~Angel losing his soul was about her. How Angel acted with it was about her (at least during his Sunnydale years). None of that turned out to be all that great for Buffy. Then Spike got his soul back for her. She's *got* to still be uncomfortable with the direct association, given the Angel history. It would be weird if she weren't.
I agree, and these are great points. I hope to see them incorporated in the story at some point in the future :)
~There was never a single moment that even hinted Buffy thought the soul was a potentially happy thing, that I can recall.
Yeah, this is interesting, and another good point. My interpretation is something along the lines of Buffy treating the soul as an excuse to not have to deal with all the difficult shit they went through before Spike's departure. To me, she seemed more relieved than outright happy, like it gave her a reprieve. And of course that makes it all about her, but I think that's characteristic for her *g*
~this line of encouragement is a sign of respect for Spike as a person, independent of her.
I just wonder if he completely sees it that way? It seems like something ripe for misunderstanding, especially given their patchy ability to communicate the meaningful stuff to each other.
~His mind, his choice. Given the issues with the chip and the trigger (still fresh in their minds), Spike's free will is an issue worth addressing. That they traveled back to a pre-soul era gave me an opportunity to put that issue on the table. I couldn't pass it up.
I'm glad. I'm not sure I've seen this explored in this way before. It's bringing up all sorts of interesting questions, as my wittering no doubt demonstrates ;)
~I think it might satisfy your craving.
Looking forward to it!
~the significance of the tree is something I didn't plan.
I love it when that happens, so cool.
On a slightly different track, are you on livejournal at all? There's still a strong, if small, spuffy community over there, and there've been some good discussions in recent months, along with providing another platform for people to read your work. Some of the oldbies don't really check out the archives like this one anymore. I'd recommend it!
I'm usually pretty terrible about remembering to review, but this is fantastic. I'm enthralled and eager for more. I hope you're enjoying writing it as much as I am reading it!
I've been living and breathing this 'ginormous' story for um, about 7 or 8 months now? (I spent more than six months on it before I began posting and I'm still tweaking things.) My only hope is that you will all like this project as much as I do when it's over. We still have a ways to go.
Geeze , you are putting me to shame pumping out this much work this quickly lol. I am definitely continuing with this story because i love it and Willow may be going away (lol, not on the Willow bandwagon) also love how central you have made Tara. She is my second fave character , tied with Faith. Can't wait to read more.
Don't feel bad. What you're seeing is the result of over six months of work put in before posting even began. And I'm STILL finding things to edit and fine-tune, as I review the content that hasn't yet posted.
The story is about to start taking some significant turns and focus shifts. My nerves are already on edge about how they'll be received. Hopefully, I've built up enough trust with the readers by this point that they'll stay with me. Crossing my fingers that your eagerness for more continues.
I really like how this story is shaping up. It is a much kinder, gentler story (toward Buffy & Spike at least), yet still Buffy. The characters are still themselves, while in many other AU stories, they are barely the same. You have kept the characters pretty true to canon, while toning them down just a bit. Very well done. Thank you for sharing your talent with the rest of us.
There are points in this story where I really struggled with matching the characters to those we know. It was especially difficult with Buffy and Spike, as so many elements are in play: season 7 experiences, season 5 setting, the relationship evolving far beyond what we saw, and the emotional maturity they didn't have time to develop and/or express on screen. Spike is starting to settle in with his ensouled state and living mostly in the human world. Buffy is starting to settle in with herself and accepting the various facets of her life as they are, demon-ish aspects and all.
Canon doesn't give us a blueprint for how they act in a semi-functional relationship, or as people who are finding peace with who they are. It's a guessing game for those of us who are trying to explore that out here in the fanfic world. The hardest part is finding the balance between 'improved' characters and 'perfect' characters. I never want to lose sight of the fact that these are flawed people, who say and do stupid stuff, who make mistakes, and for whom 'meaning well' isn't always enough.
The line "Buffy! mom's doing stuff again", for some reason I really liked that, and of course the "I'll take your first born in trade" and the "I think you already have her" conversation. That argument Buffy and Spike had while seaching fotr the scyte was also good to read. It felt like a "good" argument, no real anger, some frustrations though. Interesting to see two weapons, and I like what the Guardien said about the colour. It show us that this time Buffy and Spike are equals, they are together in this. I'm a bit worried about what the Guardian said to Tara. It could have been about when she dies again, or turning into a higher being, or something. Many possibilities but at least Tara seemed to understand the meaning. Another good talking with Xander, I liie when he's like this. That's how he's supposed to be.
Has Dawn studied hand writing? How could she see it was a "young" females handwriting
Hitting the high points, yet again <3 magnus!
What the Guardian said to Tara could have a lot of different meanings in the long term. But I think Tara's personal take away is the short term angle: The current partnership with Buffy and Spike may not become *the* defining event in her life, but it will be important, and also an era of her life she looks back on fondly.
I'm no handwriting expert. I've never had even informal training. But by the time I was Dawn's age, I could guess -with at least 80%- the general age range of of a woman by her writing. There are frequently noticeable stylistic differences, that shift with age. I just assumed that if I was observant enough to notice such things by age 14, Dawn -who is being written as a smart cookie- would, too.
* 80% accuracy. Funny word to miss, huh?
Well, I don't kkow anything about handwriting, mso I take your word for it.
Joyce is going to lose. If she won't take the money Spike will probably just start sending the money out to her creditors behind her back. They each get a scythe? Cool! At least the arguing is entertaining! So Xander hasn't flipped yet. I still feel sorry for Anya. He doesn't really deserve her. Or love her.
Thanks for the review, ginar!
Oooooh! Different weapons. How intriguing.
Looking forward to seeing Joyce's reaction to the cheque.
Still worried about what Willow might be planning....
Everyone is talking about the potential Joyce-Spike fight about the money. Personally, I find the eagerness funny. You guys have noticed that these characters are occasionally wrong, right? Especially with regard to how other characters will respond to something? ;)
I wrote more, but I deleted it. I've already said too much. Thanks for the review!
better and better,, love the idea that they each get a weapon and thought the color explaination was really cool.
The reasoning offered for the color change was another one of those lines I didn't think flowed quite right, so I edited, rewrote, edited some more... and kept deleting those changes in favor of the original version. Nothing else I came up with worked better. The posted version of that line is the rough draft version, or at least very nearly... but I probably spent over an hour (over the course of a few sessions) trying to improve it. You wouldn't believe how much time was literally wasted in the process of putting this story together.
Xander confronts Buffy!! Sort of....
I ver much enjoy Xander and Spike friendships and desperately hope you work on building one!
Also wondering if that comment about Aurelians loving Sunnydale could be possible foreshadowing, if enough changing it might cause for Cordelia or Dru to have visions~
It was about time him catching her walking downtown came back to haunt her, wasn't it? ;)
There are so many things going on in this story, so many threads -large and small- that keep being added, some building up to things, or some just sitting on the loom for a while before they become relevant again. But everything eventually becomes a part of the tapestry. Everything is relevant. The X/B walking downtown conversation is one of those things that was both. That line in particular (and his questions about her having a 'side piece' who was living downtown) didn't come back until now, but that conversation began Xander's journey toward understanding this new version of Buffy, and has thus been important throughout.
This chapter was a BOUNTY of witty dialog. I laughed at the bickering and the comedy drawn right from the characters starting with :
“How is your arm, dear?”
“Itchy. How's your brain?”
Brillliant and perfect with character voices.
Absolutely love the dynamics between the characters. This is highly entertaining but not fluffy in any respect. You've mixed drama with lightness perfectly.
So there is already one big difference and it connects to their bond...there are two scythes (appropriate) and I love the explanation for the color difference too. They are not merely in a different time but a different place at least regarding one another.
Tree Trunks is one of my favorite chapters in the entire story. Everything just sort of 'clicked' for me on this one. It's packed to the rafters with great lines and moments, includes one of those 'surprisingly productive' Spuffy arguments (easily the most fun part of this relationship is them yelling at each other until one of them strikes a chord), touches base with some background stories (Joyce's health, Willow's decision), starts a couple of new threads for the larger story, and pushes along a couple more existing stories. This one little chapter has it all.
The readers seemed to think Lost Pupil was a home run, but this chapter is far superior, in my opinion. If I had my way, every chapter would be as wide-ranging and packed with great moments as Tree Trunks. Unfortunately, that isn't the case. Echoes is a roller coaster, going up, down, and occasionally sideways. The story flow just isn't as consistently tight throughout as it is here.
“You can accept it graciously, or I'll take your first born in trade.”
Oh god... sometimes you give us some of the most lovely lines *laugh* That Joyce admits that she suspects he already has her is just icing on the cake.
The seperate yet equal scythes are kinda a cool concept (although how they became 2 from 1 if the 1 was created long ago and houses the power of the slayer line and how Buffy and Spike will access the power if Buffy is no longer part of the Slayer line and well, Spike is a Vamp obviously... and well nevermind, my mind is just rambling around on the your happy weapons so I will make is stop).
I also really liked the dialogue with Xander. It is impressive that Buffy seems to have been able to bypass her negative feelings for her Xander-shaped friend which in turn seems to be making their interactions less volatile than the ones between Buffy and Willow and the Slayer and her now fired Watcher. That Anya has been working independently to improve Xander's feelings and interactions in regards to his hatred of all things Spike is a great boon for the time travelers. It makes me wonder if Anya has an inkling of what is going on compared to the others. I wonder if she might have observed enough given her long life that she might be a bit more in the know than we have been led to believe or if she is just being a good demon solidarity type self here.
Thank you so much for the update and for giving me fun things to think about (and I really hope we get to see the fight between Joyce and Spike... or at least to hear about the fall out... will there be broken knickknacks involved?).
I'm glad I'm not the only one who loves the 'first born' line. It STILL cracks me up, months after I wrote it. There's a good bit of humor scattered about in Tree Trunks, but 'first born' and 'I'm so glad I was dead for all of this' are the highlights for me. They both just seemed to fall out of the characters' mouths and fit the situations perfectly.
I took the approach (and touched on it in a Buffy-Guardian exchange) that the scythes are conduits to the power, not the source itself, as that angle always made more sense to me. As for the canon mythology of that single red scythe... I *did* say I'd be just a smidge outside of canon. For the canon scythe exposition/info dump vs. the Echoes story, you really only need to know one thing, something you might have already figured out in Echoes: Not everyone is telling everything, and some information is 'tweaked' for the supposed benefit of those receiving it.
Buffy's still carrying her war baggage, and big, late things like the mutiny are still on her mind. But if I were Buffy, I'd find it easier to forgive the slights of a pro-mutiny, freshly maimed Xander than, say a pro- Spike-killing, sneaking around behind her back Giles, or an endlessly dangerous and reckless Willow who yanked her out of heaven and (thus) nearly ended the world... plus that *other* time she nearly ended the world. She's struggling to hide all the baggage from the 'not in the know' Scoobies, with varying levels of success. After 'in the know' Giles had the baggage *thrown* at him, trying to hold back is probably a good thing.
We haven't seen much of Anya. She's staying pretty much in the background. What we are seeing is someone who likes having Buffy off the market, doesn't really mind Spike, and thus has no reason not to support that relationship. With regard to Xander, she's taking care of her own interests, and it just so happens to be helping the travelers. Also, if you haven't noticed, the S/B relationship keeps rippling into the X/A relationship. Spike and Buffy keep indirectly triggering points of conversation between Xan and Anya, and making Xander put some thought into his words and actions with Anya, by simply being open about being together. It's subtle, but it's there.
What do you think inspired the shift between canon Xander's Into the Woods 'I love you, Anya' speech and the Echoes version? Why add the 'moving in' bit? Because he's been watching the Spuffy relationship, and *they're* cohabitating. They may be dysfunctional and strange, but something is definitely working in that mixed species, mixed history relationship. Xander sees it, and -possibly not even consciously- is taking notes (in addition to other situations our travelers have triggered accidentally creating certain moments/ influences for X/A).
I love their argument it was so awesome. Talk about ear to ear grin.
But then you had to go and give a cliff hanger dum de dum. What favor is Spike asking of Xander. Hmmmm
And I love that you love the argument. I thoroughly enjoy them doing that 'yell at each other until something gets resolved' dance. And I never had to force it. Let those two go for long enough, they'll solve *something*, even if it isn't remotely related to how the argument began. And I don't think I'd know what to do with those characters if I made them get along consistently. It wouldn't feel right. :P