Kinda worried about Willow's reactions here. She is not someone who will abide not knowing everything, she's probably thinks it makes her look foolish. "Pearly White Fangs the Younger" was hilarious. Can you clarify something for me?
"He narrowed his eyes at her hesitation. “What did I put in that envelope, Buffy?”
“Um... Let's just call it extra motivation for her to want to use you as slayer bait.”- I'm so confused and I don't know what chapter to reference to figure it out. Why is Spike asking Buffy what he put in the envelope? Shouldn't he know?
Looking forward to the action next chapter! Also, I read this chapter late so that I wouldn't have to wait as long for #39, and here I am about to read it as soon as you post it. Then an excruciating 2 days until #40! Woe is me. I hope you'll take it as a compliment that I am truly addicted to this story.
The envelope reference is from chapter one. No, seriously. It's THAT far back. The envelopes haven't been talked about much, maybe one reference since they were placed in the lock box in True Stories. Quick refresher: 4 letters, 3 envelopes. 2 letters to Willow (each in a separate envelope) that we got to read. 2 letters to Year 2000 Buffy folded together and placed in a single envelope, that we didn't read... And neither did Spike.
Everyone seems to be getting a kick out of the dental care bit. I guess Hunkered Down really needed that shot of random silliness.
#39 went up, had serious formatting issues, went down, and came back up again in the space of half an hour. Hopefully, you didn't try to struggle through reading it when it first posted!
More specifically, Buffy wrote all the letters. Spike put them all in the envelopes. But he didn't open the pre-folded pair she addressed to herself, and she didn't read them off to him.
I am so happy that the three are a united front and that the rest of the scoobies are figuring that out. (or at least Giles and Willow) are getting a taste. the general was out of commission and the second in commands were taking charge. Willow just better watch out. I hope that Dawn and Tara both stay safe.
The Time Scoobies are a pretty tight group, and they work together like pros. And the lieutenant did pretty well running the show for a little while, didn't he?
Been busy in RL so I only just caught up. Ugh this fic ks so great, cheered me right up I and I got sucked in instantly - waiting for updates is torture hahaha.
Welcome back to Echoes! I guess you came back to a few surprises, huh? More soon!
Oh my. I love how there are so many endearing moments, like the hilarious dental talk and the obvious caring between the Time Scoobies, mixed in with the drama. It makes the danger and potential for loss matter so much more. And at the end of each chapter lately, I find myself on the edge of my seat and slightly out of breath.
Breathless, edge of your seat, and a little worried? Good. My work here is done.
Oh. You want me to finish the story, don't you? *shrug* I guess I can do that.
I'm glad you're enjoying the character moments. Even when the action takes the spotlight, I'm still all about the characters. Echoes never stops building, both in story arcs and characterization. It's still building toward its ending, and the building for the sequel started long ago. Most of the structure for Echoes 2 (doesn't have a title yet) is already in place, for both characters and story.
I realize that Willow is 'out of the loop', time travel-wise, but I really wanted to smack her for telling Spike that she isn't used to taking orders from HIM. If memory serves, she took orders from Angel once or twice, with no problem I'm aware of! It almost seems like she is waiting for Spike to betray Buffy, or harm her, just so she could prove herself to be Buffy's BEST FRIEND EVER. It feels like she resents how close Buffy, Spike, Dawn and Tara are now and she want things back the way they were. Or am I reading too much into this?? Willow has always been the one to try to 'fix' whatever she didn't like about the others, and I feel like it will happen again very soon. I really hope I am wrong!!! Thanks for the update!!
I don't remember for sure, but I'm willing to bet you're right about her following Angel's lead once or twice. And you're exactly right that she wants things back to the way they were, which included Willow -as the primary Scooby witch and Buffy's BFF- right in the middle of things. She's on the outside right now, and doesn't know how to handle it. Her place with Buffy/the Scoobies has been filled by a vampire and her own girlfriend. That's got to burn a little, especially to a control freak. And she's on her own on the outer edges. Even old reliable Xander is buds with Spike and closer to the inner circle than she is. There isn't time for anyone to coddle her right now, in the middle of all this Glory/knights madness, so we'll have to wait for the others to try to smooth out the rough edges with her.
Oh ho........is our Buffy contemplating killing Willow? Or am I reading it wrong? Great chapter,as always. Can't wait to read the next installment.I really love this story.
I think she's saying that it's crossed her mind, but we've known that since she wrote that letter in chapter one. She put killing Willow on the table as an option to prevent the resurrection, if it came to that, with Spike assigned to the job. Mostly what she's saying to Anya in Hunkered Down is that she recognizes that some humans are more dangerous than a lot of demons, and she's looking at Willow because that's who she's thinking of (future Willow, technically) when she says that. Willow is the case in point, but she's didn't want to (and sort of can't, because of the time travel stuff) say so out loud.
But time travel storytelling is going to have to happen soon. Some secrets are leaking out, already.
Thanks for reviewing! I'm glad you're still enjoying it.
Soooo good. Next chapter, please
Hungry for more? More is coming. Soon.
And I just read in the comments that there is a sequel ....whoo hoo!!!
Don't get too excited. The sequel is nowhere near completion, and I could really use a short Echoes break when the first one is finished posting, besides. It will be a while before the second one starts posting, probably months. But it's definitely going to happen. I already have a lot of material written for it, and more stewing around in my brain. (If I'm being honest, I'm not sure the Echoes 'verse break I promised myself is actually going to happen. I might start digging into more of the writing of the sequel as soon as I'm done with posting the first one. With so many ideas stuck in my head, I may not have much of a choice.)
They had it down perfectly safe. Batton down the hatches and now this an expedition to the surface to secure information that should have been secured before. I'm worried that their journey to the surface will end with more battle and issues of safety for all.
Too bad Willow can't just magic the stuff to them without leaving their safety nest,
Enjoy the clothes comment how Spike didn't allow any white tops in his clothing arsenal.
The lock box is hidden, and "crack the code" raid on the house wasn't expected, so I'm willing to give Spike a pass on that. But Giles left his watcher diaries sitting on a shelf, even after finding one fo Glory's minions sneaking around his shop. Way to go, Giles. Of course, that wouldn't have even been an issue if our time travelers hadn't screwed up back in Pivot Point, and led to the counter needing to be rebuilt. The diaries USED TO have a safe, hidden location, even more hidden than Spike and Buffy's box spring, really. That screw up in Pivot Point was an unexpected stone in the pond. Here come the ripples.
Given Willow's current frame of mind, I'd be hesitant to ask her to get too close to their secrets with her magic. But then, she's going to have to be told soon. Everyone is. It's becoming too obvious that something is up.
You're the first to mention the clothes. Yay! Someone noticed! It just seemed so appropriate that he would remember what she wore for the final days against Glory, but would make sure he didn't see her in the outfit she died in again.
Great job ratcheting up the tension in this chapter. And I can't help but feel like poor Willow, left out of the loop, is a ticking time bomb...
On the edge of my seat waiting for the next installment!
Oh, and I have to say this is one of the most skillfully written fics I've read. I love that you trust the readers enough to pick up on subtle clues and references, and that you can convey so much in little things. Makes this a true joy to read.
Willow is definitely on the outer edges, and definitely not comfortable there. Even Tara isn't acting "right," to Willow's perspective. What's bothering Willow the most is the interpersonal stuff, even if the magic around Spike and Buffy has piqued her interest. Too much has changed, too fast, but a few good conversations can still salvage something from it. The questions are, how is she going to handle the information she gets? And how is she going to handle feeling like an outsider between now and then (since no one really has time to coddle her right now)? Cross your fingers and hope Althenea taught her some restraint.
It's a huge compliment for you to call this story "skillful." Probably even more so that you realize.
Echoes is loaded with details, subtle clues, and foreshadowing, true. But it was also written without an outline, very much a "seat of my pants" venture. I wrote most of it sequentially, building from the story's own history as I went. A lot of the foreshadowing was accidental, so *I* got to have "Oh! That's why that happened!" moments as I wrote it. I'm also very much a "let the characters drive" writer, frequently letting them talk until I knew what they were getting at, and editing later. In a sense, my journey through this tale was closer to that of a reader than an author.
I didn't even know how it would end until I got close enough for the pieces to fall into place on their own. **I said something way more clear there, but had to delete it because I was in danger of dropping a big, ugly, spoilery hint.** As for the final scene itself? That was an accident, too. I was editing what was intended to be one of the final chapters (probably 3rd to last) when the characters threw me a perfect set of ending lines. So I stopped there. The roughly 15,000 words that were to follow got kicked into the sequel folder, to be used to open the next installment. The structure for the sequel was built in in much the same way as everything else: organically and before I had even realized what I'd done.
Echoes isn't skill so much as it is instincts, trust in the characters as well as in the readers, and mostly organic story development. That, and a boatload of good luck.
Still, I thank you for the kind words.
Good chapter, glad to have Willow in the mix it adds to the friendship and trust dynamics in an interesting way. Thanks so much for the update, it's always nice to see that in my inbox.
It's never static for long. The dynamics, the setting, the pace of the action. Whenever you start to get comfortable, I throw in another shift. This time, we're getting big time action AND the return of Willow at the same time. It's a dangerous combination. Also, I have most of our characters living in a single subterranean room right now, just to make it a little less comfortable.
And the excitement continues apace!
Putting secrets in writing and leaving them behind when you're going into hiding = Bad Idea.
Making Needy Willow feel like an outsider = Bad Idea. That makes her a loose canon and someone is going to have to tell her something soon or she's going to start doing spells, either to 'make things right' or to find out what is being kept from her. She's not going to be a happy bunny (apologies to Anya) either way. She's really unhappy at the idea of Spike giving (specifically, her) orders. I haven't forgotten that after Buffy died, she was the one who stepped eagerly into the 'boss of you' shoes....
Really glad that Dawn is well out of the way. As long as with Angel et. al. absent in Pylea, she stays out of the way...
Secrets in writing: The mistake the travelers made in Pivot Point has finally shown its ripples. Giles' watcher diaries aren't hidden. At least the lock box is. Unless Glory's minions flipped the bed in the basement and saw the 10 inch hole in the bottom of the box spring, the lock box is safe. We'll soon find out how that went. At least Dawn took her journal with her. That definitely wasn't hidden.
Needy is totally the word for Willow right now. She wants to be needed, and as more than hired help. (Way to go Diplomacy-Fail Spike! ) She's suddenly finding herself an outsider in a group she used to be near the center of. Even Tara isn't leaning on her, or even focusing on her.
And the Scoobies are cool with Spike taking charge while Buffy's out of commission?!?! That's making her head spin. The thing is, the others understand how much Buffy trusts him, and know and trust him themselves enough at this point to feel ok with him stepping in as a commander. Willow has been gone a while, and wasn't really giving the whole Spike and Buffy thing much of a chance before she left, so she doesn't get it, doesn't understand that Buffy calls him 'Lieutenant,' and for good reason: He's the slayer's left hand guy, and can be counted on to do what Buffy would do, which is to try to keep everyone alive. The other Scoobies simply know and understand more than Willow. It's half circumstance and half Willow's own fault (the latter being her poutiness about the changes before she left). She's not a bad guy, just in a bad position, with no one willing/able to make time to fix it right now.
The need for some time travel storytelling is definitely increasing. Rapidly. We're getting there.
Bunny: You're a chapter ahead of an Anya Bunny Issues joke. I couldn't go through this entire story without throwing one in. If Anya appears in a story, at least one bunny joke is required, right?
loved the bit about the dental hygeine. The rest I will ignore as it is all terrifying! Also I'm still feeling Willow is a loose cannon in all of this...
I got pretty deep into discussing my thoughts on the dental care bit in my reply to Torrilin's review of this chapter, if you want to read it. It's substantially longer than the bit itself. Yes, I talk too much.
Things are definitely a little tense and scary right now. Willow is feeling some serious burn at how disconnected she is from everything. Tara doesn't act like she needs her, and is focused more on her adoptive family. Spike acts like she was brought back to be a soldier, not for a friendly reunion (which is the case, but he's not making any attempt to couch that truth in diplomacy). The other Scoobies are comfortable enough with and trust Spike enough to be ok with him filling in for Buffy as a commander, but Willow doesn't have the background they have with him (or experience with how he and Buffy work together) to be as readily on board. She's out in the cold, and no one is making time to bring her a blanket, not even her own girlfriend.
The vampires and toothbrushes thing is adorable. It had me giggling. And dear god I needed it after all the other messes in this chapter.
The "proper dental care" bit was an accident that happened during one of the last editing cycles for this section of the story. I was going back through Underground Travelers and Hunkered Down to adjust and fine-tune the various references to Spike packing Buffy and Tara's luggage, and editing the shared toothbrush comment spun out of control, turning into a bizarre comedy/backstory bit that serves as the only real humor in the entire chapter (and this is a long one). I almost deleted it, thinking it was just too silly and random to fit in, but it was needed for tension relief, so it stayed.
I managed to get some good points out of it: That Buffy still carries some not-heart-breakingly-melodramatic memories about her time with Angel, that -if she hadn't been 16 and hunting for/expecting serious romance- there could have some fun and funny times between them. It's a vague implication that they could have been friends at some point, if they'd actually wanted to be. 16 year old Buffy should have laughed in his face at that speech, and coaxed him into laughing at himself about it. She didn't. She didn't take the opportunity to learn to laugh with her boyfriend, because she was young, inexperienced, and thought "love" was supposed to be serious all the time. (I dig into this a little bit in a litte WIP I'm hoping to finish and post after Echoes, so it's been on my mind some.)
Part of why she was all about the "serious, grown up romance" and not pursuing a fun friendship to tangle up with it was Willow's influence. Back then, Willow was feeding on the romance story, revelling in the serious, dramatic angles of it, unwittingly supporting Buffy's unstated "love isn't fun" attitude while she begged for more "vicarious smoochies" details. Neither of them was mature enough to see that they were actually thwarting the Buffy/Angel relationship. If there hadn't been a happiness clause to the soul curse, it wouldn't have mattered. In the long run, it was doomed, anyway. Because season 3 Spike was right: They weren't friends. The younger Buffy didn't see how vital that was, and her best friend didn't know enough to tell her that. Her old enemy did.
This older Buffy is best buds with her vamp, and you just KNOW she gave Spike hell about it when he started on HIS dental care rant. At the very least, she rolled her eyes at him and intentionally pissed him off by making an Angel comparison. Spike and Buffy aren't afraid to laugh with and at each other. Their "serious romance" is laced with jokes, verbal jabs, and head shaking at each other's quirks.
There's a whole lot of implied growing up in a few short paragraphs of oral hygiene jokes.
Shit. Double Shit. It's a risk. Going after the journal and safe. A huge risk. Even if Glory figures out that Dawn is the key she has no way of finding her. They never figured out who Angel was. The only demon they sent Angel killed. And he isn't even in this dimension right now. So Dawn and Lydia are safe. From Glory at least. But I guess unless they are going to start calling Tara Dawn in public they need to get that info to keep up the ruse.
Wow Willow really didn't like taking orders from Spike. I'm hoping that Buffy makes it through this so they can tell Willow what is going on. Because I don't think she'll wait two years to find out like Buffy and Spike planned. Coven training or not she'll do something to get the truth because she hates being left out. That much is perfectly clear. And right now that would be a bad thing. She's already pissed about Tara being a decoy and no one telling her.
If forgot to mention it in the last review but Giles really doesn't give Spike the benefit of the doubt even with all he knows. He automatically assumed that Spike sired Eddie. Even when he and Spike were talking here he grabbed onto the sword like Spike was going to leap up and rip out this throat. I know Buffy told Giles that Spike has a very forgiving nature but did Giles honestly think that Spike didn't come back with some emotional baggage? Buffy told Giles that he tried to kill Spike. Did Giles honestly think Spike just forgot about that? It should have occurred to him that Spike might have some issues like Buffy does.
They're all pretty sure Dawn's location can't be determined from the box or the watcher's diaries, but the information that the Key is Buffy's kid sister -not her 'new best friend'- would definitely be more than enough to send things into a tailspin. And now the mistake our time travelers made back in Pivot Point (that led to the Magic Box counter needing to be rebuilt) has finally shown its ripples: Giles' diaries aren't hidden.
Willow is pissed off and seriously disenfranchised. Mostly, she doesn't feel needed anymore. Spike -who kind of sucks at diplomacy- is making her feel like hired help. Tara is keeping secrets and not leaning on her at all, in addition to giving far more of her attention to Buffy and Spike than to Willow.
As for taking orders, the other Scoobies have had more time and experience with the shifting dynamics to trust Spike to step in as a commander, to do what Buffy would do. He got them all to the safety of the bunker smoothly and efficiently, and -aside from the obvious worrying about Buffy- he's focused on keeping everyone safe, just like Buffy would be. He stopped looking for her when he thought the people in the bunker could be in danger if he weren't there. It's what Buffy would have done if the situation were reversed. He knows because she's done it. When he was being held by a Turok-Han, she had to prioritize the safety of the Potentials, and left him there until everyone else was safe. While the other Scoobies don't have those season seven memories, they do have enough information to know they can follow his lead, that Buffy wouldn't call him Lieutenant if she couldn't count on him. Willow doesn't even have that. Like most other aspects of Willow's 'disconnected from the Scoobies' situation, it's not entirely her fault. Circumstances are a large part of it. But that fact doesn't change anything. She's still out in the cold, and doesn't "get" how things are now.
Some time travel storytelling is definitely going to have to happen soon, no doubt about it. We'll get there.
*Big deep breath* The Giles and Spike stuff: I think, for Giles, instincts and training are still holding him back from building a real relationship with Spike. The grip on the sword seemed instinctive. The assumption about Eddie's sire was likely based on what he was taught about vampire minions. I think his intentions are good, but in the back his brain, there's a voice saying "That's a master vampire, you git! Expect the worst!" He hasn't yet managed to drown out that voice. He really does seem to be trying, though.
As for the baggage, remember that all of the Spike and Giles one-on-one conversations up to this point have focused on Buffy and her needs. Spike's kept his mouth shut about his own thoughts and memories, for the most part. Maybe Giles assumed Spike was taking a philosophical "it's the natural order of things for us to be in opposition" attitude about the "crosses on the walls" incident. *shrug* It's possible. But what is far more likely is that Giles hasn't given Spike's side of that situation -of any of Spike's future memory baggage, actually- ANY THOUGHT AT ALL. Buffy's perspective was shoved in Giles' face, and he's been focused on repairing the troubled relationship with HER, only considering Spike as he relates to HER, not as a person in his own right, with just as many grudges and trust gaps as she has. Big screw up on Giles' part, for sure. But probably not malicious. Just narrowly focused to the point of near blindness. Sometimes, Willow is right. "You don't see anything." (Something Blue)
In canon they all did that. They didn't see Spike as a person. Okay council training and all that, big bad vampire yadda yadda ya. But here at least Xander, Anya and Tara have come to see him as a person. Giles can be slightly excused because he hasn't been around much. But not completely. The interactions he has had with Spike should have made that clear to him. But if he really wants to repair things with Buffy he will have to work on that. Treating her husband/Lieutenant like he is just an extension of her won't win him any brownie points with Buffy.
As for Willow? She needs a team of therapists. Seriously. Just because you are friends with someone. Even best friends doesn't automatically mean you get to know every single thing there is to know. People have the right to keep things private. Yeah sure in a previous chapter she used a lot of "i" words. Good for her. Doesn't change the fact that if Buffy wanted her to know why she broke up with Riley or why she dumped her watcher. Or even why she started dating Spike she would have told her. It isn't her right as a BF to know. And that is what gets Willow into trouble every damn time. This sense of entitlement she has. That she should know everything. That she knows better than everyone. And that she has the right to make it how she wants it.
Tara nailed it perfectly before. Willow had her pout on about Tara being family to Buffy, Spike and Dawn. Did Willow want Tara lonely, pining away for her while she was in England? Did she really want that for her girlfriend? Cause it sure sounded that way. It sounded like Tara was supposed to make Willow the center of her world and have no other relationships without her. But Willow was free to have close friends other than her. She even sounded negative about it at the Thai place when she derided Tara having non-Scooby friends.
Even the thing about making the kids possible for Buffy and Spike in the future. Whistler didn't expressly say but it sounded like something Willow just did without asking first. How do you do that to someone? Zap! Oh by the way you could get pregnant now. Willow wants. And the problem is she can make people give her what she wants with her power. And no amount of coven training is ever going to change her personality. It might give her pause but I doubt it would really stop her.
And by the way I love this story!!!
Yes, yes, and yes. Giles is still not totally "there" with the necessary steps to be right with Buffy, because understanding/respecting Spike as a person is one of those steps. But I truly believe he's trying. Every "adjustment to the new dynamic" arc within the Scoobies has been slightly different, and moved at a different pace:
For Anya, it was beyond simple. She's not carrying Angelus baggage, and has spent some time hanging out with vamps in her own past. Spike's not really an issue. And Buffy's pretty cool now. She stopped being annoying. Extra bonus- Whether Anya knows it or not, some of what Xander has seen and heard from Buffy and Spike has changed Xander's approach to her and their relationship.
For Xander, it was a lot of observing and listening, bringing him to a point of respecting this suddenly changed Buffy and the person she's chosen to be with. He took the opportunities they gave him and ran with them, until he's the closest non-Time Scooby friend they have.
For Tara, the time travel work and cohabitation took her from acquaintance to close friend to family at a rapid pace. They've brought out her strength, she's encouraged them to stop and think. It's a great dynamic in every direction. Dawn nailed it when she said working together is how Scoobies become best friends.
For Giles, who has had Buffy's time travel baggage thrown at him far more than anyone else, he found himself forced into accepting distance and then (when he saw an opportunity) shifted into repair mode. It's still a work in progress, though the biggest steps have been taken. Yes, he should be seeing Spike for himself by now. He's been given more than enough information. He's even the only person to whom Buffy has explained her reasoning for "Sparky." He needs to widen his focus as he works on these relationship repairs, to look at Buffy's big picture, not just Buffy herself. The old watcher isn't perfect, but he's trying.
As an aside, Spike needed to bring the hammer down on Giles in a sincerely meant threat at some point, didn't he? It turned out to be a moment when he was forcing Giles to face that Buffy wasn't the only person his future self hurt, which is great from a narrative point of view, but it had to happen eventually, had to be said under SOME circumstance or another. The framing of the conversation also throws in a "protective chosen mate" undertone into the threat, which I like. But it's just an undertone. The main message is "Betray us and you'll die screaming. Your future self already burned your free pass." To Giles' credit -instinctive grip on the sword aside- he accepts the threat as it stands, and reiterates his intention of loyalty.
Your expression of Willow's feelings of entitlement is dead on, but that's only a symptom of the core issue. Willow is a control freak who doesn't handle change well. I never mean to bash or demean a character, but those (in addition to her abuse of magic, which is closely tied to the former) are her major flaws as a person throughout canon. The situation that was created by the time travel has brought those flaws to the forefront in a big way.
She was Buffy's BFF and at the center of all the Scooby action. And now she's neither. Big changes and no control over the situation. If Willow isn't at the center, Willow takes offense, and thinks she's being intentionally shut out. With Buffy, she's partially right about the shutting out, but she has no understanding of why (not her fault) and it's really starting to annoy her. Buffy changed a lot, and quickly over the course of the fall semester. Now, after Willow's been gone for months, the "we're all soldiers" comment from Old Friends has become some sort of mantra, to Willow's perspective. General and Lieutenant Pratt are strangers she doesn't know how to deal with.
And so is their housemate. Willow was the center of Tara's world and her gatekeeper to Scooby friendships. And now she's neither. Again, big changes, and Willow has no control over it. Tara has really found herself in recent months. She's strong and capable, and finally aware of it. She's got great relationships with people that are completely separate from her former role as 'just Willow's girlfriend.' She still loves Willow, but doesn't need her as much as she used to. Willow has no idea how to take this.
The future baby-making possibility: Yeah, that was the implication Whistler was dropping. Willow's ethics are always going to be flexible, as he said. And why? Because Willow seeks control over situations. Magic helps her achieve that. And no, no training is going to fix her personality flaws. In Slipped Words, we see that even the PTB doesn't think it can, or expect it to.
Willow should be celebrating Tara's new found confidence but she isn't. Because it doesn't fit with her world view of how all these interpersonal relationships should be. Being the gatekeeper of Tara's friendship with the Scooby's or anyone else is so very wrong. It's the beginning steps of an abusive relationship. And in canon the Willow/Tara relationship did become abusive. Some might disagree with me but what else can you call it when you have an argument with your significant other and they wipe your memory of it? Numerous times? That is very controlling behavior. Keeping her separate from everyone else. Letting her have limited interactions with other people. Controlling her mind and her thoughts. Even Xander's canon crimes pale in comparision to what Willow has done. She takes control of people like they are puppets for her to play with and thinks nothing of it. She's never really sorry for anything she has done. Only sorry that she got caught. Her parents should be shot for raising her that way.
You're right. There was a growing abuse angle to the Willow/Tara canon relationship. I'd never thought to put it in those terms, but that's accurate. Again, we come back to the 'need for control' flaw in Willow's character. She honestly has zero mental/emotional tools for dealing with being in a position where she isn't in control of the situation, and we're seeing some of that now. Pretty awful when you consider her parents were therapists.
Fortunately the canon Tara has changed quite a bit in the Echoes 'verse, and is unlikely to sit back and take it as long as canon Tara did, especially since she remembers it all.
We can see the trouble for Willow to fit in after being gone so long. The others are used to how things are running. Willow has never liked being told what to do and Spike doing it is such a big difference from what she's used to. We also have the fact that she feels like she is hired help or something. Hearing the conversation between Spike and Tara, and as it seems, between Buffy and Anya will also strenghten the feeling that she doesn't belong here. Willow need some gesture of trust, something to show that she is one of them, but there's no time for that now.
A good little talk between Spike and Giles about some of their issues. Crosses on the wall has a good ringing to it, a well formulated phrase. Giles telling Spike that his family is safe with him, all of them, felt like a big peace offering, a show of trust from Giles. We could also see that Spike has some troubles dealing with the past/future, something we also saw in that he didn't went into the "wrong" bathroom to get Tara's stuff.
It was good to see the friendly moment between Buffy and Anya, but for Willow seeing that Anya is more of a friend to Buffy then her, not good. At least I thought that Buffy was noticing Willow was listening, but she could just had a thought about her, I suppose.
Anothet chapter in war mode, being in the bunker, orders being given, all good.
Part of the reason I decided to let Buffy get injured at the start of this "wartime" section of the story was to give Spike a chance to run things. I wasn't going to do the catatonia bit from canon, but I wanted our constant second fiddle, Lieutenant Pratt, to take the reins for a bit. Having General Pratt be absent and then unconscious for a while put him in that position. From the time he hangs up the phone after receiving the code in Underground Travelers to the conversation in the bathroom in Hunkered Down is over 24 hours, and Spike's in charge the whole time.
He's built up relationships with the Scoobies in the nine months since the time travel. They know he's filling in for Buffy, and know they can trust him. Willow is the only exception. She doesn't have that trust, still doesn't really have a relationship with him, even though they've had a couple of good moments (namely the dance in Dance Partners). Between her instinctive mistrust in the fall, and her absence for nearly five months after, the background that would let HER trust him in command simply isn't there. She also hasn't been around Spike and Buffy enough to recognize that they have a defined "war mode," and that the "we're all soldiers" comment Buffy made back in Old Friends wasn't a passing thought. It's how she treats her job now, and Spike is right there with her. The rest of the Scoobies have had more exposure to this. They get it a little better. Willow just doesn't know who these people are. She didn't take the chance to find out when she had it, and then she left town. Like most of the gaps in relationships Willow is experiencing, it's not totally her fault. It's at least 50% circumstance.
Speaking of gaps, the one Willow is feeling with Tara right now is huge. Overhearing the end of Spike and Tara's 4am conversation, followed by Tara's "goodnight" being about her worries about Buffy and not showing warmth to her recently returned girlfriend only worsened it. The residents of the Summers house aren't just super close now, they're also keeping secrets and prioritizing each other over all else. Willow feels completely disconnected from them all- her girlfriend, especially. You're right that there isn't time to fix that right now. Attempts will need to be made soon, though.
We don't know if Willow was awake to hear the Buffy and Anya conversation. She probably wasn't. Buffy was looking at Willow because that's who she was thinking about when she was talking about some humans being more dangerous than demons. Not this Willow, though. Future memories Willow, who nearly ended the world. Twice. Once on accident, and once on purpose.
"Crosses on the walls" is a phrase that's scattered throughout this story, though it's most often referenced as something in Spike and Buffy's memories. It gets said aloud a few times, though. I think Buffy's tirade to Giles in Lost Pupil was the first time it was spoken. Spike's got just as much time travel baggage as Buffy, he's just better at hiding it. His one on one conversations with Giles up to this point have focused almost entirely on Buffy and her needs. This is the first time Spike addresses his own issues with Giles directly. Long overdue, if you ask me.
Things are getting really tense there. I'm glad Spike promised an explanation to Willow at least for many reasons one of which is she can get kind of itchy when kept totally out of the loop.
Love the new relationship between Anya and Buffy. I always hated how they all acted so annoyed with her, well actually how Anya was treated in general.
Man...leaving anything in writing ... bad idea.
Yes, Angel and company are in Pylea at this point in time. Sort of wish Dawn and Lydia had arrived a bit sooner, they could have gone with him!
The thought of Dawn and Lydia running around Pylea with the AI gang really cracks me up. That would be so fun. Can't you just imagine Dawn's opinion of Cave-Crazy Fred and ugly demon Angel? She'd have given Fred's "handome man comes to save me" attitude a swift kick in the pants in about thirty seconds flat. Lydia and Wes would be bickering about proper sword form and battle tactics until Gunn yells at them both and the ex-slaves threaten to kill them all.... again. When they all met up with Cordy, it would have taken her about two seconds to ID Lydia as a Watcher and start rolling her eyes at Dawn's approach to things, calling her "Mini-Buffy without the whining." Now I wish they'd gotten to LA soon enough to get dragged onto that adventure. It would have been a hilarious side story.
Back to the reality I ACTUALLY created: Yeah, we're in some serious tension. Hunkered Down takes place over the course of 24 hours, mostly in a single room, and there isn't much going on, but it's all very tense. Buffy spends the vast majority of those 24 hours asleep and healing. Everyone else is talking, waiting, and trying not to be freaked out about pretty much everything, particularly Willow. There's going to be some Time Scooby storytelling soon. There's going to have to be.
I love that this Buffy appreciates Anya for who she is, and this end scene is a great display of that. She gets that Anya would love to be making some money right now, and doesn't begrudge her that wish. She also talks about Anya's work as a vengeance demon casually, even showing that she sees the practical value of it... while giving us a chilling view into General Buffy's harder edges.
Buffy apparently regrets not killing that crazy knight in the middle of Main Street in Patience Lessons, and (in retrospect) considers that having Willow killed to prevent the future she came from as something that might have been worthwhile. Of course, she's not done these things, and would probably have backed down on doing her own "pre-emptive murders" if she'd found herself about to do it, but the idea of taking a simple, bloody route to a better ending is appealing. Buffy thinks Anya's gone soft on humans, and she's probably right. But Buffy lost some of her "softness." Under that cool general/slayer exterior beats the heart of a woman who is willing to do anything to make things right.
Anya just seems like the appropriate person to let these half-expressed thoughts out with. She's not a Time Scooby, but she's not going to judge. Basically, "So you would love to go back in time a couple of weeks and kill that brain-sucked human? I get that. It's suprising, but it makes sense" is Anya's attitude.
Re writing things down: So the Magic Box counter being destroyed back in Pivot Point is coming back to haunt us. This could get interesting.
I sent Dawn to Pylea with them in one of my stories (Seven stages to clarity) but didn't do much telling about her experiences there...it was my way to save her from Glory and continue with my main plot. It would be fun to revisit that idea though!