“I-- I couldn't stop it,” Buffy whispered. “I was right there. And I couldn't stop it.” Oh, good! ...Am I alone in wanting death to be death, and not everything to be fixable? That's life. I know I'm supposed to want things to be perfect and all, but... people die. It happens. Dealing with it is the important part. (I actually don't like the HUGE number of resurrections in the Buffyverse.)
I ADORE that final scene. Really, really, adore.
These are hard chapters to read, so heartbreaking. Glad that the Scoobies aren't having a major Wiggins over the marriage issue.
Knows how hard it is to think out chapters like these fully, let alone get written as well as you have, but you're doing it beautifully!
Goodbye Joyce 😢 😔 💔 💐.
Funny that you say that about this chapter, this being among the handful that closely paralleled canon in frameworkand execution. Usually, I'm further off canon, and left more to my own devices than I was with Right There, as the first half of this chapter was focused heavily on showing the Echoes 'verse version of the events of The Body.
Still, it's sad to see Joyce go. I think a lot of readers are going to miss her. <3
Wonderful chapter in spite of Joyce having to die. Very tender and touching.
Xander was a real brick. Willow is doing so much better than I had feared. I can't help but want them to level with the group. I think it would be a relief for everyone even Buffy, Spike and Tara. At least the rest would understand why Buffy and Spike are acting so differently and so quickly drew close.
The scene where Buffy stood by her coffin was heart rending and utterly perfect for the story. It really made things real to Giles IMHO.
LOVE this story.
*HUGS* on the RL situation. I"ve been there many, many times. Take your time replying (heck, for me you don't have to I'd rather you use the little keyboard time you have giving us treasure like this chapter).
I really think Xan and (especially) Wils would have been a little confrontational if they had gotten the marriage info under different circumstances. Balancing the grief with this revelation forced them to take it in quietly, *made* them take time to think through their reactions. It was probably the best way for it to come out, in the long run. As for letting the Scoobs in on the BIG secret, they'll eventually be told, one way or another.
The display coffin scene practically wrote itself. I wrote out the prior scene (that opens with Dawn reading the tags on the flower arrangements) with the idea that Buffy, Giles, and Lydia had gone to the funeral home stuck in my head, but with no plans for the funeral home scene itself. The next thing I knew, Buffy was telling Giles she had crawled out of her own coffin like a vamp, and I had no idea how I'd gotten there. But it stayed. After seeing that scene on the page, I suddenly couldn't imagine Buffy seeing empty coffins and *not* thinking of the time she emptied her own, especially considering the era they're currently in. Also, you called it exactly right. The coffen conversation brought it all home to Giles, made this version of Buffy more understandable, her history more real.
Personally, I doubt she recognized the right coffin. It's not like she got a good look at it. The one she thought she recognized may not have even been close. But it doesn't matter how inaccurate the memory is, what matters is that when that coffin triggered it, she shared it with the closest thing to a parent she still has... The person who most likely chose and placed her in the coffin the first time around, coincidentally.
As for the crazy work stuff, I seriously need to be independently wealthy so I can spend all my time writing. But then, don't we all?
Thanks for another kind review, Kathleen!
So evocative. Getting to know Joyce through these chapters made it hard to experience her sudden death as a reader, giving us a glimmer into how hard it would be for Buffy to try and fail to stop it. It reminds us, too, that other things may be unchangeable. Also, that making Joyce's life full is the gift they gave; the same gift they have this time around. Thank you for that thought.
I loved the way Joyce developed in Echoes. She was way more than I'd expected, but was such a joy, I never even considered trimming back her presence. I was sad to see her go, too. But it wasn't a death the time travelers could prevent. They all accepted it, although Buffy (naturally) fought that reality as much as she reasonably could. They *did* do everything possible to make the last days good ones. Obstensibly, it was for Dawn's benefit, but I think it was good for all of them, particularly Buffy. She needed to see the time travel do *something* good for her mom, even if it wasn't the thing that mattered most.
So many things to cry about but at least the Scooby know a lot more about what's going on. Buffy's attempt to change her mom's death I fear may have her believing that they won't be able to stop her own.
I don't know if the Scoobies finding out about the marriage under any other cicrumstances could have gone so peacefully. No one wanted to start a fight in the middle of that, so they were sort of forced into taking the time to absorb the news quietly, giving them time to accept it.
I wouldn't jump to that conclusion about Buffy. Look back at what we already know.
Joyce's death: Whistler told her it had to happen. She tried to move up the Dr. appointments. It didn't work. She thought being there would help. It didn't. Tara pointed out that a natural death might be outside the purview of the travelers. And really, that makes sense.
Buffy's possible death: Whistler hasn't been specific about it, basically saying the events of the tower could go either way (luck, not fate). A lot of plans -large and small- have been built up to deal with the Glory situation in a different way, and thus far, none of them have collapsed or shown definitive signs that they will. Dru seems optimistic that Buffy will survive.
I fail to see the similarities, and don't see how Buffy could reasonably imagine them into existence.
Sorry about inventory season, and glad to hear it wasn't something serious that kept you away!
Interesting choice to put the Spike/Joyce flashback at the beginning of this chapter. So sad to hear his view so clearly on the elopement.
Loved the growth that Willow seems to have achieved - now I can actually root for her to find her place with Buffy again!
Inventory season is evil, but it's passing. My sleep schedule, my freight schedule (inventory messes that up, too), and my Echoes posting/review response schedule are all slowly getting back on track.
I followed the canon framework for Joyce's death. End of previous episode/chapter teases Joyce's death. 911 call is immediately followed by a flashback, Giles is called, etc.
But for the flashback itself, context is everything. At the time Spike and Joyce had that conversation, the claim was heavy on Spike's mind, but (as far as they knew) the bond hadn't reached a critical point yet, and Buffy was still refusing to even talk about it. Spike was looking toward the future, with Buffy as his potential mate. Joyce, not knowing anything at all about that story thread, looked at a human marriage as the pinnacle of commitment. Spike's aspirations were higher.
Willow is definitely acting more mature, but not totally. There's a strong tone of poutiness undercutting her conversation with Buffy. The coven may be helping her quite a bit, but they can't change who she is. And the Willow we know has always wanted to be -even expected to be- at the center of the Scooby world with her bestie, the slayer. That dynamic has shifted. The friendship has cooled, and things in Scoobyland are going just fine without her. The "left out" feelings from before she left for Devon have no gone away, and have deepened to the point of almost directly confronting Buffy about bailing on the friendship. Honestly, if her visit weren't in the context of Joyce's death, Willow's reactions to the abandoned friendship and the marriage might have been far more confrontational. Make that probably.
Spike snickered. “Mr. and Mrs. Big Pile of Dust,” he murmured.
Love the structure, with this flashback and the short, sharp scenes, the different POVs. Deftly crafted.
“She wasn't supposed to die. I was there! I was right there. It isn't right. I should have been able to stop it!” Buffy sank down to the ground, and Spike knelt with her, gathering her in his arms.
“I know the feeling, love. I know the feeling.”
Ack. He does, at that.
So the secret about the marriage is out, and it makes me wonder how much longer they can keep the other stuff under wraps, esp with Dawn. We're starting to close in on the business end of the "season" too, hmm... Can't wait to see what's next!
I mirrored the structure of the original episode, to a certain extent. The April story ended with the "OMG, there goes Joyce" teaser. The 911 call was immediately followed by a flashback. I used the bare minimum of words to build the Echoes version of the rest of that same day, highlighting both the sameness and the differences, under the implied weight of all the shocked silence in between.
My favorite part of that entire section is the one-line scene of Tara calling the coven. In that one line, we see that Tara is upset, that she's unclear on if she's calling in Willow for herself or for everyone else, and we get Willow home (temporarily). We also get the significant use of the word family from Tara, without being told if that's how the message was relayed to Willow. That phone call is the second shortest scene in all of Echoes, but it says a lot.
The shifting POVs wasn't a plan. It just happened as I was gathering the characters and following the structure provided by the episode I was replacing. Later in Echoes, there's a (much longer) gathering scene that does similar shifting of perspective, but that one is written as a matter of showing everything happening at once, the lack of time between. This one is a very different type of tension and transition, built on the very foundation of the time between the POV shifts.
Once we get past the end of "The Body," I slowly bring it back into the feeling of the Echoes we know: People sitting around talking, sharing thoughts and silences. By the following morning, we're right back in story/character development mode, although surrounded by the weight of Joyce's death.
The backyard exchange between Buffy and Spike was one of those instances where I stopped, stared at the cursor for a minute, and declared the line untouchable (no edits). While the original intent was to show Buffy's frustration that having been "right there" was futile, the phrasing came out as a perfect mirror to Buffy's season 5 death, from Spike's perspective. I couldn't improve on that exchange if I tried.
We're definitely nearing the "business end" of season 5, and thus the biggest points of the the original mission. It's about to get interesting. :)
A nice conversation between Spike and Joyce, there was a hint of sadness in it though. Then it's time to take care of everything when Joyce is gone. Some of the secrets are becoming non secrets now. Xander is taking that really well. In this chapter it felt like he really was a friend to Spike, they aren't just hanging out. Willow took it wellctoo, she had more thikgs to be surpriced about though.
They talk between Buffy and Willowhad this sad feeling. They both know things never will be the same again, but there is hope for something different but also good to be there.
Buffy seeing "her" coffin brought some bad feelings, as it should. Then last in the chapter we can see Bufry really letting her pain and sorrow come out, with Spike of course.
The Spike and Joyce flashback (the second half of their conversation from Steps Behind) covers a lot of ground: It adds to the mirror-of-canon framework I used for Joyce's death, with a flashback right after the 911 call. It explains when and how Spike started calling her "Mum." It shows us Joyce accepting not just the engagement, but Buffy herself as she is now, in a more direct way than previously done. We also get the feeling that during this portion of the conversation (right after she was told they were travelers), she started putting the pieces together, figuring out that she probably didn't have long to live. Meanwhile, we see that Spike had the claim on his mind pretty heavily (shown in the last lines) before the bonding situation came to its crisis point. But those are all details. The main point is the knife-twisting moment of flashing back to a mostly happy Joyce-centric scene when you already know her body is on the living room floor. 'Cause I'm evil.
You're very right about Xander. This is another sort of subtle, defining moment with him. He uses the term "drinking buddy," but he shows that -at some point- that relationship passed that point into the beginnings of a real friendship. He's close enough to Spike now to casually threaten 'a good chewing out,' and not follow through out of kindness. It's a quiet moment, but it's kind of huge.
But Xander and Willow were both put in a pretty tight bind. Even if they were genuinely mad about being left in the dark (and they probably were, at least a little), even if Willow instictively wanted to throw a fit about the marriage (and she probably did), the day of Joyce's death is not the time to start a fight with her daughter. So they were forced to keep calm, giving them time to review the situation before any tantrum could occur, whether they wanted that time or not.
I doubt Willow is as accepting of the change in her friendship with Buffy as you give her credit for. She's definitely sad about it, but there's an undertone of poutiness. *shrug* At least it's not an undertone of "I'm going to wave my hand and fix this." That's an improvement, at least.
So heartbreaking. I can't imagine what Buffy is going through. Loosing her mother all over again, and still with the same outcome regardless if she was there or not.
I don't know if you'll call it good news or bad, but they'll all be a little distracted from grieving soon.
I really wanted Joyce to survive, but I guess some things are meant to be. Excellent chapter.
I think everyone wanted me to save this version of Joyce. She was so fun to have around. But I'm a horrible, heartless person, so Joyce had to go. I think Joss has been a terrible influence on me.
Shoes falling. Ow. So many shoes. And I can tell they're not done yet.
Inventory season sucks. Been there, done that, do not have t shirt, do not want it. Oh god it sucks. It's ok to get sleep! You don't owe me chapters on a particular schedule. Or any chapters really. I'm not paying!
Nope. More shoes to come. *Thunk!*
I'd hate to completely break my posting schedule, especially this far into the story, but it might take me longer than expected to get back on track with my editing. The problem with this business (retail) is that there is no stretch of down time long enough to fit in a project as big as Echoes. There's always some big energy hog popping up, leaving me tired and useless. The next big thing is schematic season. 4 of my 5 departments will get their semi-annual resets in the space of a couple of weeks, with the 5th a couple of weeks behind. Just before all that will be new seasonal set ups, which will include the first wave of my departments' new fall product. Ugh. Why am I not independently wealthy and spending all my time writing?
Sounds like department store of some sort. So familiar. Tho the fall merchandise squeeze was never too bad. The run up to Christmas is hell.
And yes, there's always something. Tho I'm not sure any job really has down time built in for novel writing.
Buffy recognising her coffin was pretty scary. I've always kind of hated her epitaph though, I felt like the scoobies could have written something a liitle more heartfelt.
Agreed, wholeheartedly. The epitaph should not have had a punchline.
I just love all these characters in this story, Zander expecially, most people write him mean and not understandng at all.
Maybe we can coast for a while.
Enjoying the ride!!!
...and yes you did get me in the beginning, I kept thinking...maybe it wasn't Joyce. Then I saw the flashback warning and thought "nope".
Coast? You're a sweet, optimistic soul, aren't you?
But wasn't the knife twisting worth getting the second half of that Spike and Joyce scene from Steps Behind? No? Maybe a little?
As for Xan, his is the most understated of the Scooby adjustment arcs (Willow and Giles really take center stage in that regard), and its my favorite. He was observant, trying to get a feel for situations before he stuck his foot in his mouth, and was mostly successful. Along the way, he learned a lot- about Buffy, about Spike, and about his own relationship with a demon. It was slow and subtle, but the pay offs, when they started coming in at Christmas (Echoes time) were huge. We ended up with a very cool Xander who truly is a friend to both Buffy and Spike.
It's horrible that a tragedy had to happen to air out most of their secrets without any backlash. But maybe Joyce would be glad to know that Buffy and Spike weren't keeping as many secrets from everyone and it would help their friendships. Something good has to come from this doesn't it? Willow's time at the coven seems to have helped tremendously. The conversation wasn't all about her and what she feels. She was actually kind and understanding for a change.
Willow is such a mixed bag. She's accepting of the situation as it's being presented to her, but likely in part because she doesn't want to start a fight with Buffy under the present circumstances. She's being kind and understanding, yes, but there's a strong undertone of whiny "But *I'm* supposed to be your best friend" pouting. I'd like to think she's beginning to accept that the friendship has changed, and handle it like a grown up. We'll see...