Bwah-ha-ha. Adoring Spike's message to Lydia. And I love that you're using the last name from <a href="http://www.teaattheford.net/conversation.php?id=844">her thesis</a>.
Very cool link. I've actually never seen that before. Chalmers was just the name I had stuck in my head for Lydia. I don't know if I read it somewhere, or if it was an off-hand mention in canon. But if it came from that thesis page, it wasn't directly.
“Cooking noises,” she whispered. “Something about roasting tomatillos... And a guy in her art. He's giving her advice on talking to the boy.”
I might have teared up a little in this section.
Buffy and Spike working the council promises to be interesting, I can't wait to see where that's going. And even though they've changed the future, Willow's legacy lingers on - after Tara's conversation with Whistler, certain things make a lot more sense, but it raises a whole bunch of new questions. I'm excited for these new arcs beginning :D
The Tara/Whistler scene was one of those abhorrent exposition scenes, the kind you edit the hell out of, trying to make it less so, but really can't do much with, because the info dump is necessary. We needed those questions answered, in as clear a way as possible. Chapter 21 answers even more of them, including a question from the early chapters you've probably forgotten you had by now. I'm super excited about the arc that builds from this, because it provides such a great way to explore the evolution of the relationship.
Interesting letters. Travers didn't surprise me. Love the Tara sleeping over and Dawn's shock at Buffy being okay with it. I don't know if I would have felt so even with Tara being gay. And Joyce knowing her death was especially gripping. Very well handled, joyce is a lot smarter than they sometimes made her out to be. But the bonding that well that surprised me.
I had fun with the letters, as I got to tell that particular story arc almost entirely through them. The "Tara in bed with Spike" bit wasn't done to highlight her sexuality, so much as to highlight how comfortable the three time travelers are becoming with each other, as well as the growing security in the Spuffy relationship. And Dawn as the fourth party observer, obviously.
Joyce is smarter than even me, I'm afraid. I typed out her "my girls won't starve" line before I even realized where that conversation was going. The character put two and two together before I even caught on that she's been given too many clues not to.
Loved the long chapter!! So Joyce figured it out. I hope they can change it. She might not have started off supportive of Buffy in the beginning of this slayer business but she has come around since and it would be a shame to lose her now. At least now she'll probably take that check!!! Spuffy have bonded! Buffy thinks if they make the claim and she dies fighting Glory Spike will die too. Okay i can understand that thinking. Shw wouldn't want him to die when Dawn will still need one of them to take care of her. Especially if Joyce doesn't make it. One of the main reasons for the marriage (other than the sappy romantic stuff!) was potential custody issues of Dawn. So having Spike dust because Buffy has died fighting Glory....
The funny thing about Connective Issues is that it isn't actually an especially long chapter by Echoes standards. It just feels like it, because so many different events are rolled into it. Connective Issues also stretched over about a week and a half, rather than the 'single day' or 'nearly single day' chapters you've been seeing a lot of lately. We're slipping back toward the mission at hand, as (by the calendar), canon events are on our heels. The honeymoon of Christmas break is over, and we're finally getting back to work, only with more character issues (mainly Spuffy issues) in the mix.
I love that everyone is focused on the Joyce scene, and most reviewers are letting the "last day before she leaves" Willow stuff slide into the background of the chapter. It really shows me what characters you care about. The vibe is mostly "Yeah, yeah. Scooby fun. Willow's gone. Buffy's trying -with Spike's nudging- to make it like a real friendship again. Blah, Blah. But OMG!!! Joyce!!!" I never planned to make Joyce such a prominent character, but the setting (focused heavily on home, as is unavoidable with season 5 stuff) made it happen. And she ended up being a far more developed character than I think even canon made her. That really wasn't the goal, I swear.
In chapter 21, Buffy tells us more of her thinking about the risk of Spike dying with her, which she's been gradually getting closer to saying for a while, but I think I made a mistake there. She distills her line of thought into a couple of very straight, very clear sentences on that issue, but not right away. Hopefully, chapter 21 provides enough clarity that the later line isn't necessary, and I haven't left any confusion sitting on the table in the meantime.
I can't speak for anyone else but I was extremely grateful Willow is gone without finding out about the wedding! Because if she had found out before she left?! Holy Crap bad news end the world and I don't think a yellow crayon speech would cut it! So it was more of a whew! she's gone and didn't find out moment! So yeah once I knew Willow had left I was okay with ignoring her!! LOL
Some questions answered, good. Loved this chappie and the last. Willow & Spike's convo, and Buffy & Giles. Interested to see how things go with the Council.
I probably disappointed some people by practically skipping the wedding, but there are lines in chapters 20 and 21 that clarify what I've been going for since I brough the marriage thing into this: It's important in the sense of what it contributes to the larger story (otherwise, I wouldn't have included it), but for the big picture, it isn't a huge deal. Skipping it in favor of important conversations with the departing characters serves the story better in many ways, while also helping to hammer home that point. I'm so, so grateful those scenes were well-liked.
Echoes isn't very sexy, and it isn't very fluffy, so it skips two popular angles of fanfic, in favor of straight character interaction/development and layers of story. It was a risk, and we're currently in the section of the story that puts that risk on the table in a big way. I bulit up to wedding fluff, but skipped it for character development. I repeatedly skip sex scenes in favor of the conversations had before and after, that contribute more to the overall story than anything explicit ever could.
This is risky stuff within the fandom, and I breathe a sigh of relief every time I read reviews like yours. I know you'd love more mushy stuff, and maybe some more sexy stuff, but you're getting something out of the characters and their stories. THANK YOU for saying so.
Please fogive any typos as I write with a kitty laying halway on my lap and half on my keyboard... I don'tt mind llack of sexy stuff, though I do like it. I'v seen some writers do it without being explicit, in fact one of the hottest scenes I ever read didn't even mention certain body parts... but that probably is pretty harfd to do. Regardless, I do enjoy a well-though out story over fluff most days. Fluff serves it's purpose in helping to heal the woundds after a lot of angst, so a little bit sometimes is necessary, but not necessarily a loit. Thsat's solely my opinion.
My kitty Radar does not apologize for all those typos, he's shameless. And since he needs extra love today so I only apologize on the surface. lol
Feline-related typos are always forgiven, by default. But bonus points if your kitty's name was inspired by Walter O'Reilly.
Each chapter provides something new to consider, a new vantage point, or renewed appreciation for each character's complexities and dilemmas. Actually: all of those at the same time. Also, I really enjoy how very much is built through dialog and interactions. As a reader, I enjoy how it pulls me in, giving me a chance to figure out their mental states through their words and actions, the same way they all have to figure things out. As a writer, I enjoy seeing the technique wielded so deftly, and how the characters, scenes, and story itself is built this way. Beyond that, of course: it's just a great story. Thank you!
As I've said, my thespian roots are on full display. It's very nearly all dialogue, all the time. For the story itself, every scene serves a purpose (most serve two or more), which means there is zero filler. Setting that standard for myself means that even scenes and chapters that appear to be "just for fun" push the story along, one way or another. In addition to giving you something about the characters themselves, I'm always filling in an information gap, giving you the next event, or dropping hints. Basically, the structure of this story doesn't give me a choice. I never let up on you, keeping the story moving and keeping you thinking simply because I never let up on *myself*. I won't allow myself to sit idle for a scene or a chapter, so you get dragged along with me.
Thrilled to know you're still enjoying it! Thanks!
This... this seems like it could go very badly. Not just on the telling Buffy she has a prophecy front either.
“Make it two batches, and we could get a golf ball launcher.” I love this bit. Gives me all kinds of fun combat visuals.
The prophecy reference was to one of Whistler's 'might have been' future scenarios. There isn't one in play here, But, given that the chosen mate situation is not one over which the demons in question really have a lot of control, I guess it may as well be. But don't worry about Buffy. She knows what's up. That conversation she's been avoiding having since Eternal Monkey (chapter 14)? This is what it's about. And avoiding time is over, as of now.
There's a ton of stuff going on in this chapter, but the two parts I always focus on are the last scene (because I edited it 30,000 or so times, trying to make it more clear, as it's the set up for the entire next chapter) and the "warming up our battle plans" exchange right before it (because it was so freakin' fun). And poor Dawn is sitting there between them, probably wondering what kind of drugs they're on. hehe
Hooray for Spike urging Buffy to talk to Willow, and by association, Xander!
Love the family bonding with Joyce. She's not always as oblivious as Buffy would like! I'm still wondering whether her death is one of those things that can't be changed...
Hopefully, her training will help Willow be less self-centred and more balanced. Why on earth should Buffy have told her right at the beginning about her and Spike, when Buffy wasn't sure of Willow's supportive reaction? Did Willow tell Buffy right at the beginning about her and Tara? No, she didn't, and for exactly the same reason!
Travers has a point about Buffy not working to the Council's direction so not qualifying for a stipend. Hopefully, the letter to Lydia will end up making her the resident watcher. She seemed nice and might be swayed, the way Giles was, to allow Buffy to follow her slayer instincts rather than Council dogma...
And Whistler explains what's going on with the Spuffy connection. Love it!Yay for Tara's common sense.
Love the complex plot you're weaving...
I kind of stumbled onto Joyce predicting her own death. I wrote that "At least I know my girls won't starve" line, and then I stopped typing and stared at it. "Really? Has she figured it out? ...Hmm, considering everything I've put on the table where Joyce and the running of the household are concerned, I guess she has. Damn. That's depressing." Shrug. "Ok, let's go with that." As for whether she's right, that remains to be seen. Sometimes these characters are wrong.
I've walked a fine line with Willow throughout this story. I've put on full display her personality flaws, but I never wanted to make her a villain, either in the Big Bad or interpersonal relationships ways. The problem I kept running into was that on the relationships side, her personality flaws are a HUGE issue in the scenario our time travelers have created. From canon, we know that Willow puts a little too much emphasis on the "best" part of the "best friend" title. It's just another aspect of her overall "everything revolves around Willow" mentality. Being Buffy's friend isn't good enough, especially if it feels like a downgrade to her. She wants to be the BEST friend, the primary confidante, even if it means a total logical disconnect is required to whine about not being in that role. I think even Willow knows she wouldn't have handled a girl talk about Buffy's interest in Spike very well. And we know that her "possible thrall" and "I should shove a soul into him" ideas would have been far more agressive if that girl talk had taken place.
The three personality flaws with Willow that I've put out there are: (1) using magic without an eye to the consequences. (2) the tendancy to view everything in a "how does it effect Willow" self-centered way. And (3) Willow doesn't handle change very well, frequently responding in immature ways. These are all pulled from my interpretation of canon, and all three came into play with Echoes, simply because of the situation. I didn't go into this expecting to have Willow conflicts be a big deal, but my understanding of the character forced it to happen.
The catch? Those witches in Devon might be able to shove some magical ethics into Willow, to mitigate the risk of her misusing magic to achieve her personal goals. They'll make her a better witch, but they can't change who she is as a person. Points 2 and 3 aren't likely to fall out of play.
The letter exchange with Travers isn't over. In the first round, you can clearly tell by the tone and phrasing Buffy had help writing the final draft, likely from Spike. But what happens when she writes a letter to him unaided? And what other information did Buffy dig out of Giles' office when she and Tara broke in? Hmm... this could get fun.
I absolutely hated the exposition dump of the Tara/Whistler conversation, and edited it countless times. But it was needed. I've been building up to this for a long time, but it's been mostly super subtle stuff, and I needed to put it all out there. More clarity is coming, and it's going to bring some other stuff with it. I hope you enjoy it!
wow! did not see the demon bond coming! this makes so much sense as to what Tara saw between their auras. I only notice a little foreshadowing to their telepathy for the first time in this chapter - if it was there before, I missed it! Like that you give your readers a bit of a chance to feel prepared/proud of their guesses, though! ;) Thanks for another really entertaining read that keeps me on my toes - I have to read your chapters extra carefully to make sure I don't miss anything!
Re foreshadowing the telepathy: Um, sort of? To a degree, it's been going on for long time, but not as directly as it now. A lot more of the pieces to that particular puzzle will fall into place in chapter 21, so I should probably shut up before I ruin your enjoyment of it.
I maintain that Echoes will be one of those stories that drives the "as it posts" readers absolutely bonkers, the post-completion binge readers will enjoy it more, and the second read-through, post-completion readers will love it. There's a lot of layers of stuff going on, and I think a lot of the foreshadowing was a touch too subtle. Whether that was a mistake on my part or not remains to be seen.
This is my first completed long work, and not only am I incredibly nervous about how it will be received as a whole, I'm also second guessing myself about the chapter by chapter details. So far, I'm just clinging to the fact that you've trusted me this far, and letting that little assurance carry me through.
I liked how Spike pushed Buffy to see Willow. It's like he said, he can understand her situation. Tara did say some good things to Buffy. The talk with Willow was a good beginning and it seems like they will talk more on the phone. Good, then they can build up a friendship again, as long as Buffy also is trying.
The family moment felt nice. Spike and Dawn in the kitchen and Buffy and Joyce talking. A good talk, Joyce did figure it out then, just as I thought her leaving the letter ment.
I like the letter Buffy sent to Travers. She's building a good case, but Travers has a point in what he answered, Buffy doesn't work for the Council. If she does there is of course no reason for him not to pay her. I do wonder how they would do that, a stipendium, a fake employment or something else? I like that Spike did sent a letter to Lydia, she will be in the group arriving of course. The little we saw of her on the show, I did like.
I liked the conversation buffy had with Dawn when she said that the bed downstairs wasn't big enough for the three of them. I like how Dawn think, Buffy, Spike and Tara in a bed. Dawn had a good pair of lines there. We also learned that this situation hasn't been so easy for Tara as it seemed. Then we had some good battle planning.
The talk between Whistler and Tara gave us some interesting information. A gave a lot of information away, but it's probably easier to talk with someone who wants to talk. It was interesting to know what could have happened in the future. How Buffy would change if she used the amulet sounded like how she would have been if she had accepted the Shadow mens offer. It was also good to hear about the bond between Buffy and Spike. That the Slayer demon is related to vampire demons does make sense. It's probably why the idea is used in other stories.
Re the reason Joyce wrote that letter: Now I can say what I wanted to say to your previous review. Nice catch, magnus! Her "I'm going to die soon" theory is at least half the reason she wrote it. As for what is actually in that letter, we'll have to wait and see.
The letter exchange with Travers isn't over. Buffy has a goal in mind, and isn't likely to back down without a fight.
I've been neglecting Dawn a lot up to this point in the story, as there's been so much stuff going on with so many other characters. But when I manage to get her in the mix, she's so fun to write. Smart and funny, and just enougn years younger than them to give a perspective that isn't pure outsider, but also very curious. I'm just glad they aren't treating her like a dumb, sheltered little kid. Give Dawnie room to grow, and she'll take it. Far less annoying than in canon.
I've been talking about the bond between them for a long time, and dropping hints about their connection even longer than that. This is another point where I've been playing the long game with you poor readers. Tara saw the magic wrapped around their bond back in chapter 8, and we're just now finding out why it matters. And coming up, some other questions from way back at the beginning of this insanely long story are going to be answered... on this topic, anyway. ;)
It's so good to finally get all the bond-related stuff out in the open, even if I detest that exposition dump scene between Whistler and Tara. As for getting it out in the open with Buffy and Spike, given her established reluctance to even discuss it, chapter 21 is coming soon.
AHA so that's what happened! Willow and a short cut. Yes, training is such a good idea there. So Buffy knows at least? Good.
Yep, Willow screwed up by taking a shortcut. I think every reader's reaction to that news will match Buffy's when she learns that tidbit, almost verbatim.
Buffy's known this since before the time jump. In their first non-conversation about this, all the way back in chapter 14, she said she'd done some reading. But now the non-conversations have to stop, and a real one has to happen. The results of that could get interesting. :)
I love to go through the reviews and read your responses. I did notice that Willow seemed to realize Spike had his soul. I wasn't sure if I was reading too much into it though. Thanks for confirming.
Yep. But what is she going to do with that information? And when?
You're right about the chapter by chapter readers and the post completion readers and etc. I fully plan to reread this once it's finished. It'll be a completely different view cause I will be actively looking for things I missed and understanding things I didn't quite get the first time around. I love second reads of a great story...and you my dear are writing one.
Wow. Willow seems a little whiny still like Buffy HAD to tell her about being interested in Spike etc etc. It's interesting reading about the bond.. poor Joyce...
Willow wants to be treated like "the best friend," even if she and everyone else knows she wouldn't have handled the role well in that situation. So, so frustrating.
And finally, after spending tons of time dropping hints, we're finding out exactly what happened when Buffy and Spike got sent back in time. Way to go, Willow. Again. Did I mention frustration?
Poor Joyce, indeed. First, she thinks she's going to die. Then the doctors fix her up. Then she figures out she's not actually out of the woods because she's living with time travelers who have a clear track record of sucking at pretending they're the former versions of themselves and aren't carrying around a bunch of foreknowledge. But wait, one of them is still planning to try to prevent her death. *scream* Yo-yo of life and death, much? That poor woman...