Oh god you just kill me…but in the best way possible! That last chapter was a perfect ending to an amazing story.
Goodness gracious! Thank you so much. It means a lot to hear that.
Wow, this leaves me spent. But happy and hopeful and a bit tearful because I love Dru, but I LOVE Spuffy.
This was not easy. But it was beautiful. Thank you!
"Not easy but beautiful" is a tremendously touching thing to hear. Thank you, so much.
One of the things I love about winter is its ability to bring civilization to a grinding halt. The way a good blizzard is like Mother Nature besting mankind and putting us back in our place for a little while. When there’s a snowstorm in the forecast, the other adults around me are worried and stressed about potential power outages and property damage (understandably, as they should be - as I should be, too). Meanwhile, my eyes light up with excitement and I’m quietly going, “YES!! Kick our asses, nature!”
Phrases here that made me smile:
- suspicious all-night laundromat managers
- susurrations of murmurations of starlings at dusk
Photobooth! Spike now has James’s hair. Hee!
“Life.” He nudged a can aside with his foot, then kicked it to make it go sailing down an alley and over a wall. “Listenin’ to it happen around you, never really getting inside it, not even close enough to it to realize it’s passing you by.” - This and the following conversation highlight how Spike’s never fully in either of the worlds he inhabits. Poor Spikey. Can't be a human, can't be a vampire. Where the hell do you fit in? Of course, my thinking is that the surviving denizens of Sunnydale are their own little Island of Misfit Toys at this point, a dysfunctional family who only truly fit in with each other.
Drusilla putting flowers on empty graves.
“Not so much, the rest of them. All restless, all too ready to crack themselves apart, none of them prepared for the body to burn.” She nodded. “Burn, and cinder, and grow anew. Grow better, grow stronger, grow for the sake of what will come instead of what used to be.” & “Time,” she said again. “Time as we know it, as we measure it, time as I held it once. A new way’s nearly arrived in the world. In hiding, like us, waiting to announce itself. It’s nearly gone, the last of the old, and the first of the new only know it well enough to know it won’t be missed.” - This is how I feel about the world right now. Nothing will be the same whenever we make it through this pandemic and social unrest, and I think most people still assume things will eventually get “back to normal.”
Late night diners ARE a good place to calm the soul.
I always liked the trope that Spike used to sing Dru to sleep. And I like these lyrics.
And then there was the newspaper headline and I couldn’t stop to comment until I read to the end! So, going back to that...
Idk why, but I really liked the detail of Spike standing there so long his knees went numb. And that Lorne was one of the people who commented to reporters. I teared up.
But the best, BEST part of the whole press conference, for me, that said just what I was trying to figure out how to say at the end of the last chapter, was this:
And – not but, and, always and, always.
This captures and consolidates so many thoughts I’ve tried to tether about SO MANY things. I may quote you, out of context, in many future conversations. It’s a good starting point for a lot of viewpoints I’ve struggled with explaining to people.
And I almost want to stop there because I’m having as hard a time working out my thoughts and feelings about Spike and Dru’s final conversation as I did with their postcoital conversation (which, I know, I still haven’t gone back to comment on). It’s hard, in both cases, to sort things out in my head because I have thoughts, I have feelings, and I have both of those that conflict with each other. It might be easier to explain the why than the what, here. Apologies in advance for the portmanteaus, I just don’t have the patience to keep typing it all out and still get my thoughts down. A lot of Spuffy fans don’t like to think about Sprusilla, or look back on their relationship as being not really love, especially on Dru’s part. While I’ve enjoyed some stories that played on that trope on their own merits, it’s not what I think. When I first watched S2, I fell in love with them as a couple IMMEDIATELY, and with both of them individually. (I mean - eyeballs to entrails? What better declaration of devotion has there ever been?) When Angel and then Angelus showed up, I wanted to kill him with my bare hands for the way he made Spike feel, but I never had any bad feelings towards Dru at all. They had 80 years together, and there’s nothing that ever indicated to me they were anything less than happy. Ultimately, I love Spuffy, and in my heart they are the endgame. So, I never have any trouble loving them both unreservedly during their respective time frames in canon. It’s when there’s overlap that things get messy in my head. It’s not easy for me to sort out in the way that Bangel overlapping is easy for me to sort out. Because I hate Bangel, and it just makes me angry to think about lingering feelings there, unfair and as much of a double standard as that may be. I DON’T hate Sprusilla, so I’m forced to try to actually process through the idea that you can still feel love for your first love while being in love with the person you want to be with for the rest of your lives. (Except in this case, it’s the rest of her life, not necessarily his, which was one of the hooks that snagged me in this final conversation. Thinking about what might happen when Buffy dies and Dru’s still here. Which isn’t really devastating because people do find love again when spouses die, and Buffy’s not a placeholder for Dru, and Spike would have Buffy forever if he could. But, for a minute, I wasn’t thinking through any of that and was really uncomfortable.) There wasn’t actually anything I didn’t like about their final scene, I think I just had to get all of that out, and explain why I’m still sorting out my feelings and thoughts from that other conversation. The paragraphs explaining, in both cases, why “hers” was the only word that worked, were touching. I especially liked all the tactile descriptions in the paragraph about Buffy. And Sprusilla saying they loved each other and sharing a goodbye kiss was a sweet and mature closure they’ve never been in a place to have when they’ve parted in the past. (I admit that my brain is trying to gloss over the tongues part, I can’t help it.) And I guess that’s the reconciling of my thoughts, right there: Spuffy is the throughline and endgame, and the story itself is the grown up Sprusilla retracing the steps of their youth through Europe as the people they are now and coming to terms with their pasts and futures.
2009-2010 was one of the coldest winters in Europe on modern record. When I found that out, very late into the drafting process, I had to laugh - it was one of those things which confirmed I was doing it right.
I love the trope of Spike getting Marsters' curls after he gives up on products. I love it so much. Utterly shamelessly. He'd look so good with curls!
The trope of "someone who gets you deeply, who's one of - and maybe the only - person you can talk to about where you're coming from and where you've been", whether romantic or friendship, gets me every time. I think you're right on the money about the former Sunnydale residents being like that for each other. The camaraderie they'd feel at high school reunions would be amazing to witness: it'd feel so good just being around people who get it.
I got "always and, never but" from tags to a Tumblr gifset, of all things. But hey, it works.
I want to high-five that paragraph and buy it ice cream. Not only because your comment of the fic being about a grown-up Spike/Dru coming to terms with their shared past with Spike/Buffy as the endgame pairing - which is so true and it's exactly what this fic is but that hadn't occurred to me until you told me, writing is so funny that way. It's also from that yes, Spike and Dru did love each other, once upon a time. And they still do! But not in the same way. They were so happy together, in all those decades of traveling the world, and just because they grew apart doesn't mean there wasn't real happiness and love there.
Dru is such a tragic character in the Buffyverse. It's a shame we never got an episode from her POV - it'd have been fascinating. Can you imagine an "Objects in Space" like scenario? I can, and it makes me shiver.
Thank you, as ever and always, for your rich comment.
Wow. What an enticing, unique, beautifully crafted story, and with moral questions beside. Thank you for posting this.
Goodness! What high compliments you've just given me. 'Crafted' is what I always want to do, and that you enjoyed the moral questions besides - I'm happy to post. Thank you, for enjoying it so much, and letting me know that you had a good time reading this. It means a lot to me.
I liked Spike's thought about the winter how it made everything clean. I say it every time but it is so good following Spike and Drusilla. Their observations, what they do and how they think, all of it is so good. A melancholy feeling is following them but there is the beauty too. The melancholy got really strong at the end when it was time for them to split up.
So now they got news about the Slayers. The news in itself sounds good but the new name gives me a very bad feeling. I don't have anything to back it up with but as soon as I saw it I had this thought, " oh no that doesn't look good " Well, we will see how it goes.
I know I say it every time myself, and it's always true: thank you, for letting me know how much you enjoyed this. I'm happy you had a good time reading it, and that you liked the way I wrote Spike and Dru observing the world.
The Council changing into the League is something which sustains itself for a good while - it's named that in both "Autumn's Advancing" and "Stranger, Take My Helping Hand." Going from the former to the latter doesn't fix all the problems with the organization, but it helps get them to a place of being able to fix them.
I don't know why but as soon as I saw the name I got a bad feeling. I have never been a fan of the slayers in the other stories, perhaps it has something to do with that? Sort of fascinating actually getting a bad or good reaction from something without knowing why🙂
It might be, yes. Slayers establishing themselves as a group isn't something I tend to give a lot of thought to - either it's Buffy in Sunnydale, or it's a well-run organization that's jettisoned the Council's bad policies and philosophies. The work Buffy would've gotten to get from the former to the latter would make for a good story, and I'm not the one to tell it right now.
ARGH!!!!!!! Here is the whole comment thread I just accidentally deleted, including your response to me (I was trying to delete a duplicate response but accidentally deleted the whole thread instead).
I had to Google “ice wine” - now I think I need to try some.
“I just…” She shook her head. “It’d be easier if – the work they do’s important. We need Slayers in the world the way we need firefighters and paramedics. But you don’t see paramedics driving around trying to get people into car crashes just to save them.”
- ohhhhhh, THIS! And everything Patricia says in the part before - so good, even a baby Slayer recognizing this isn’t for the best.
I was reading the next part in the U-Bahn (have I mentioned my subway fetish yet? Consider it mentioned.), trying to formulate my thoughts on the ominous feeling that’s been building, on the Council falling apart (I liked the part about the Watchers trying to choose sides), when this paragraph did it for me, once again bringing to mind the Niemoller quote:
And who could say if they’d stop what they were doing when they finished off the vampires and found themselves still hungry.
I love this imagery: A little town, instead, something that’d let itself sprawl out without growing up, crawling over the landscape like ivy on a wall.
(Also, the chapter title has “Prayers for Rain” by The Cure stuck in my head.)
The factory, the thinking of possible fates, the thinking of Buffy, the purposeful not thinking of Buffy. Touch, reassuring to them, and also to the reader when that’s all the further touching goes.
LET’S DO THE TIME WARP AGAIN
This. So good.:
Spike knew that tone of voice through the coffee shop, that kind of easy laughing happening all around him and Dru. Time was, he’d laughed like that with Darla and Angelus. Time was, he and Dawn and Buffy had laughed like that. Last spring, they’d laughed like that, the days growing longer and brighter, the air full ofspringtime promise. The Council had been shaking and quivering, but nothing that wasn’t another spurt of growing pains. Less in the way of chaos agents trying to crack the heavens and more in the way of old friends finally learning their lessons and, if not heading onto the straight and narrow, at least the firmly crooked.
And the whole next paragraph full of all the mundane details that make a couple’s life together. Especially the pangs I got from this: and the next day, leaving his coat in her apartment to give the right impression. The scene in the coffee shop captured the things you miss most and the feeling of missing them so well. I loved Dru’s reassurance. Also, “fecund” is such a good word!
I like the recurring themes of time passing being indicated by their hair and playing with the idea of reflections. The horse’s eye was a strong visual.
VAMP FIGHT - Spike wistfully imagining the sleeping couple is the couple from the coffee shop being dramatically interrupted by Dru banging on the window insisting on the wrongness of the situation - “It’s not their house!” - was great! I mean, A. Good segue to the confrontation with the other vampire, but B. That it was Dru trying to prevent the people from being eaten was a nice example of how much she’s changed and grown over the years (and without a soul, even, imagine that). Not that she’d never eat someone, but that the wrongness of this bothers her. The confrontation and fight were pretty badass - Dru tossing him the stake made me smile! Spike’s conversation with the other vamp sort of encapsulated the blend of changing morality combined with pragmatism that’s been an undercurrent, and his anger at the other vamp is a burst of feeling that made me think about our emotional gut reaction to things on an individual basis, as opposed to our conscious thinking on things as a whole, which I try to explain my thoughts on more at the end of my comment. I loved his classic Spike show for the crowd and his calculated snark at the Council. And the continued success at keeping Dru under the radar.
And this made me smile softly and hope it’s true: All the humans, all fifteen of them, including the two who’d been picked for tonight’s main course, a man and a woman who weren’t old and weren’t young and had been drinking mulled wine last time he’d seen them, the world did love to rhyme and echo.
All those arguments with Harris about Clark Kent and Superman, proven right by living through them. - LOL
Dawn being robbed of normalcy nearly breaking him, protectiveness for his Niblet - pangs! Also, it seems like the reminders of the Summers women are coming more frequently.
All of the then and now comparisons between the squatting kids in NYC and Poland and Spike then and now have me again wrapping my brain around the cognitive dissonance of both things being on opposite sides of the moral compass, but both considered what was appropriate at the time without regrets in either direction. It’s something that, earlier on, I kept thinking of as a vampiric thing, especially for souled Spike, but then I thought about all the conversations that have been had about Spike’s arc really being about growing up and changing and evolving, and how many things any of us can look back on from our pasts with fondness that we would never do now, and it all came together in my head. Also, I have so much gut-level love and appreciation for this sentence:
On another, he missed the spirit of those little crusty punks, the screaming little kids who knew the softer they were, the deadlier their poisons had to be.
I liked the Frank Sinatra/Mia Farrow contrasted with Mel Gibson to show their relative age gap in pop culture references.
Re: the Anaba demon reminding Spike of a lost friend - is that a reference to previous stories, not a specific reference at all, or am I just being dense about it? Also, I can just feel the softness of her pelt!
The idea of “And I think we both understand what’s meant when I say, good luck to you, and good luck to the Slayers.” is harder to reconcile in my head, and the many different, sometimes conflicting feelings expressed throughout the story by different characters about demons integrating into human society at the expense of the vampires. Dru says,“Seeing you out, seeing what you being out means for all those I know are still yet hiding, still yet skulking and creeping among the shadows. Vincent and I, it can’t happen for us, not with what we’ve done and who we are and what we are, he and I. But to look at you and see, really see what the world has in store that no one yet dreamed of believing, something so new, so grand, oh, seeing you is wonderful.” And she means it, I think, despite she and Spike’s earlier conversation about being disgusted by demons out in the daylight acting like people. So part of me thinks about how easy and hard and universal it is to have different feelings about people and situations on a case by case basis while still having a worldview that’s much more black and white in theory and doesn’t leave room for all those gray areas that come out in practice. Another part of me has vague notions about surface tension and how opposing forces have to exist to keep a balance. I think that’s the best I can smooth out my thoughts on that at this point.Author's Response on September 01, 2020 11:17am
You should give ice cider a try, too. There's one I tried with put eight pounds of apples into a 305ml bottle for the richest, sweetest, strongest apple flavor you could imagine drinking. Knocked me off my feet. Ice wine's much the same: it tastes of grapes the way wine never does. Save up, because you understand why it's worth every penny.
No, you haven't mentioned your subway fetish, so I wouldn't have told you about the time I saw a guy smoke a cigarette on the uptown 2/3 express train from in between the cars from 72nd to 96th. It was quite the badass feat.
There's a lot of not-thinking about Buffy, a lot of thinking about her gently, a lot of deliberately avoiding the topic. She's with Spike every step of the way, and only rarely does he fully put her out of his mind. While she's rarely on camera, I wanted her presence to be felt throughout every possible moment.
I loved putting together the ordinary details of their last good night together, much as I loved writing Spike's protection and love for Dawn, even if it's expressed at a far removal from the actions causing him to get angry.
The horse's eye and the reflections was a joy to play with. I have all these thoughts about how vampires blend into their environment in ways other beings with full conscious intelligence can't manage, because of the lack of reflections and body heat, but I can't quite formulate them into sentences yet. I'll keep working on it. I did like working on Spike and Dru being a good team: sneaking into places together, driving getaway cars, helping each other in battles. They're both pretty badass.
I want to high five you for getting that Spike's arc is about change and growth. His soul makes him feel a regret that wasn't there before, and his core character means he still feels all the joy from those regretful actions. So he tries to vow he'll never do such a thing again, and not deny the happiness, either. It's a weird mix of things. It's more a "person" thing than either human or vampire.
She doesn't remind Spike of anyone he knew personally. Just the idea of another demon he could talk to instead of more humans.
Big thoughts like that are good to hear I've made. I don't know if the sixth and final chapter will answer them, but in the meantime, I'm happy to keep talking.Allison42 Replied on September 03, 2020 10:39pm
Ok, now I need to try ice cider URGENTLY.
And you know that this - No, you haven't mentioned your subway fetish, so I wouldn't have told you about the time I saw a guy smoke a cigarette on the uptown 2/3 express train from in between the cars from 72nd to 96th. It was quite the badass feat. - will forever be Spike having done this in my headcanon. And is fucking AWESOME!
The blending: I totally forgot to mention them blending with the snow and cold and nature until I saw someone else comment on it. And then your comment, above, about them being unique in being able to do so while still being separate sentient beings. This is one of the things I love most about your writing - you make me think about concepts and angles that never occurred to me, while making them feel like such natural thoughts to come to. Which is an awesome talent to have.
AND THEY ARE BOTH SO BADASS!!!
A personal note on the joy/regret thing. A coworker asked me a question about my past at lunch one day, and, as I related the long story behind the answer, I listened to the words coming out of my mouth and looked at my coworkers’ faces, and thought, “Oh, shit, this sounds BLOODY AWFUL now that I’m saying it out loud for the first time in twenty years!” And even though I probably would have had the same look on my face if one of them had related the story, and I wouldn’t do the same things now, the ridiculousness of it still made me laugh at the memories.
Is there really only one more chapter?
The ride between those stations takes about five minutes. Not only badass, but efficient, too. Good time management.
You've got me stunned to hear that. To hear I managed to get those thoughts and concepts across is wonderful, and to hear that they feel natural - that's tremendously gratifying, as a writer. Thank you.
Just one more, yes. I wrote it until I got to the end, and that's where it's going.
Badass AND efficient! *swoon*
It’s a special blend of skills to both bring new ideas to the table and be able to write them naturally, as opposed to authors who write them in such a way that it’s clear they want the reader to notice how clever they are, which takes me right out of the story.
I’m sad and excited at the same time!
One trick I have - which isn't a big trick, really - is to ask, "What's this character's normal?" Wondering what they see as normal and ordinary, and what they take for granted, usually lets me slip in the ideas I like without drawing attention to them. Spike and Dru fading into the surrounding environment is worth mentioning the way stopping at a red light's worth mentioning, if someone's driving a car. I don't need to stop and talk about traffic laws or how the brakes work. I don't need to get far into the philosophy of vampires. They just fade into their environment.
Sometimes it's unavoidable and I have to have the characters stop and tell the audience things. Usually, though - if it's what's in their world, as a normal thing, I can keep on going with the story.
That’s a great explanation and makes perfect sense.
I'm feeling kind of depressed. Cold makes me sad. I HATE winter so much. One of these days I really need to move. The lack of color in winter landscapes depressed me every year. Yes, I have SAD and the name is 100% accurate. The only thing that keeps me from spiraling is my light lamp and exercise.
OK, so none of that was about your fic, except that the desolation you describe brings to mind sadness.
The description of the horse eye was wonderful!
I feel like Dru is actually sane now. Which is weird, but not in a bad way.
Now, I want to know what an Anaba looks like!
Desolation and sadness were what I was going for, so it's weirdly pleasing to hear I got those emotions stirred up in you. I hear you on the lack of color in winter: the sky falls down to just above the treetops, and all the shadows are stripped away. At its best, it makes the world small enough to fit all of it inside your head, and with bright starlight and moonlight on snow, it can be beautiful. And at its worst, yeah. Spiraling.
I'm so happy you liked the horse eye! Playing with the lack of reflection and body heat and how vampires utterly blend into their environments because they don't put anything out into them was something I played with, and I have some vague thoughts about it I still need to give attention to so I can get them into the right words to explain.
Dru's saner than she used to be, but not all there yet. She's got her feet under her, and she's learning how to walk on her own. She'll get there in time.
An Anaba looks like a Minotaur, basically. Solid, strong, with cloven hooves, a nice, wet snout and terrifically expressive ears.
It's just so good following Spike and Drusilla, see what they do and meet these people. As usual this is written in a beautiful style but through their eyes we can see the corruption. I especially like how Spike thought about what the Slayers may do if they wipe out the vampires, who is next?
Thank you! I always look forward to your comments.
I spent some time thinking about that, and quickly stopped, because if I kept down that path, I know I'd end up depressing myself.
Pre-comment comment from midway through chapter five:
Photo booths, subterranean transport, train stations, shades of WWII and Cold War-era Eastern Europe, the dangers of unchecked institutions, and persecuted underdogs on the run through this darkly gorgeous dystopia - you’re hitting all my fiction buttons in one story!
And I'm thrilled to be doing so! You've got me grinning and humming happily. Thank you.
It wasn’t the soul. It wasn’t trying not to leave a trail of bodies. It wasn’t knowing people he’d come to love wouldn’t like it. It was all of those together, in ways he couldn’t pick apart and didn’t much want to. - I like how this explicitly acknowledges that there are complexities to this, and that the soul wasn’t some magical purifying agent.
All the gorgeous dualities of winter
Now to the tricky part to express my thoughts and feelings on, the subject of the warning. I read this section multiple times, trying to figure out what I wanted to say, or how to say it. I wrote bits of thoughts to come back and edit later, once they coalesced into words that made sense. I’m not sure how good a job I’ve done. I appreciated the subtlety of it (in fact, it took me a minute to realize what was happening, lol) and that the focus was on the feelings and how they talked about it afterwards. That said, the two paragraphs themselves describing what sex was like with Buffy and with Dru were really well-written and the contrast was something that’s been noted before, but not in this way - the feeling of constant awareness of two contrasting bodies vs. bodies so similar you become unable to distinguish who’s who. It was an interesting feeling to be imagining the acts solely through sense of touch without visuals. Emotionally, I quailed at this happening, but that was an anticipated and inevitable reaction from me as a Spuffy shipper, and had nothing to do with how you handled it or the fact that it was part of the story. They’re in a desolate place right now, and it didn’t feel forced or done for shock value in any way. It felt realistic in the context of the situation.
I had to give up on commenting on their conversation afterwards for now because I still haven’t quite formulated my thoughts on that. But there WILL be a follow up comment about it after I read that part a couple more times. Maybe in a day or two.
The feeding off the former suckhouse addicts was interesting for a lot of reasons, not the least of which was how Dru stayed the rational one when Spike lost it a bit because it hit him so hard after so long.
ALL OF THIS: They drifted between crowds and down long streets, the pulse of the humans around them never possible to ignore and now almost too much to dismiss. The hectic stink of so many bodies together, all the movement and work of living right around them with the taste of it still fresh in his memory making him want to howl. It made him want to disavow half-measures and abandon his old oaths and return to being a feral beast. Tear through the city, rip it down if that pleased him, eat his fill and never mind the mess. It made him want to find someone who’d happily drive a stake through him and keep him from ever looking into Buffy’s eyes again and make sure she’d never see him - BUT ESPECIALLY THIS: raised back down after having been cast so far up.
And Dru being his voice of reason again is counterintuitive but somehow completely fitting.
OH, THIS: and their train slid in, none of the great belching smoke and fire that they’d had once. Just pure mechanical wonder, smooth and elegant, absolutely nothing living about it.
- did you ever read Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett?
“You – I mean, you’re British, you’re from around here, you ever been there before?”
- Bahahahaaaaaaaaaaa! Quintessential American tourist.
& Spike couldn’t stop smiling at the blatantly American manifest destiny attitude towards personal space.
The entire show Spike put on to get through the checkpoint at the train station by pulling up all his memories of posh British entitlement was FANTASTIC, but a freaking standing ovation for THIS: “Oh no. Oh no,” Spike let his eyes go wide, pulling his voice even farther back in history, calling on centuries of yelling at the world slow and loud to get the unruly, unwashed masses to fall in line. “Not in this country, not in this city, you’re not saying that here, are you?” She stopped, suddenly aware of what she’d almost let fall out of her mouth. - Fucking. Brilliant.
And Dru’s comment when he says his mother spoke that way - lol!
It’d have been a relief to stop running. Not a welcome one, and a release, nonetheless. And who could say, maybe they’d have been kind enough to let him see her one last time.
The bathtub, playing the theme of losing sense of himself at room temperature again.
OMG, MABEL! I l loved every detail of her lair (place of business?), from the entrance, to the post-it notes, to the Imperial Russian tea set. And Mabel herself was wonderful. Her plumes were so expressive - and the second eyelids. And I loved that Dru’s name was like the magic password. And Spike’s realization that maybe there were fates worse than death that the council had in mind for him. I actually just cried this time when Mabel talked about the vamps bowing. There’s something completely gut wrenching about it. It’s awful.
Ok, now I’m all teary again, so I’ll take my leave. I’m not sure if I’m awake enough to go back and edit like I usually do, so please disregard any typos or blatant autocorrect fails.
You always make waking up worthwhile with your comments.
I never see the soul as a purifying agent; with Spike, for whom the circumstances of ensoulment were very different from Angel and Darla, I read it as a way for him to become more himself. To both stay truthful to who he is, and keep growing and changing. Which is something I hoped to bear out through his moment in bed with Dru - and I think it did, which pleases me as a writer. I was going for subtle, and aiming for sensual, and trying to hit sorrowful, too. A soulless Spike would have felt regret easily, and would've struggled to get sorrow - an emotion that Spike with a soul can more easily grasp. More deeply and resonantly than anyone else, because it's Spike we're talking about, who never half-asses any emotion that comes his way, and still: sorrow.
I'm happy it worked as a realistic moment for you. Fantastic vampires are all well and good, but if I can't get the reader to see they're lonely - nothing else is going to work.
I have read that one, yes, but it wasn't until after I did a lot of drafting on this fic.
It was an absolute hoot to write Spike channeling the entire British empire to get past the checkpoint, on so many levels.
I checked, and I couldn't find any piece of fiction that puts a vampire in a hall of mirrors. Then it occurred to me: Spike would be exactly the kind of person to think seeing to infinity gets boring halfway through. So I had to put it in here.
Teary is high praise. Thank you, once again.
You have an amazing writing style. I’m particularly fond of the way Spike normalises Drusilla’s ramblings. Makes me think he would be hell on wheels with cryptic crosswords!!
Thank you! I've put a lot of thought to Drusilla's thought process and capacity for communication, and how Spike would be used to it after being with her for over a century - but I'd never thought about that carrying over into a knack for crossword puzzles! It's brilliant. I love it.
So I read this story and by the 4th chapter I’m thinking, dammit-what author am I thinking of... and it comes to me-Vernon Lee, please take as a compliment! I love this story. The detail in every chapter in every area-makes me think. It’s not a simple read, but involves thought.
I hope I make sense. But I can say with clarity I cannot wait to continue reading, thank you for your thoughtful writing.
Goodness gracious! I'd never heard of her before, and now having looked her up, I absolutely do take it as a compliment! Thank you. Yes, it makes sense. It's got me smiling, and hopeful that you enjoy the rest of what I've got here to share.
I love how you describe things! The way Spike smells liquor was amazing. I never thought of earthy to describe vodka.
The whole narrative is giving me a bit of the Wiggins to be honest. I'm frightened for Spike and Dru. They are hunted ar a time in their lives when they should be able to relax.
I almost get the feeling that Jackie knew they were vampitea, but she accepted them and would never rat them out. Of course the Gestapo is in Berlin hunting and trying to exterminate an entire race. *shudder*
The infidelity wasn't as bad to read as I thought it would be, but I still hate it. I get it though. See is sex and it does not equate to the love Spike has for Buffy. I simply adore Dru recognizing his heart and deciding not to wound it further. Because,, let's be honest, she could and has. That shows a maturity she never had in canon.
Thank you! I spent a lot of time thinking about vampire perceptions in this story - reflections and the lack thereof, what it'd be like to not produce any body heat - and I'm pleased you enjoyed it.
Writing the moment in bed together where they're both lost, lonely, and scared, and desperate for some connection, and them feeling guilty without letting the narrative vilify either participant was something that took a few drafts to get right. That your reactions are what they are tells me the work paid off, in showing that the two of them have grown up from when we first saw them blast into Sunnydale.
Dru's also spent a lot of time alone here - her last on-screen canon appearance was her leaving in "Crush" and in between that and this, she wasn't around any of her family anymore. She's capable of taking care of herself, but she never had to do it for so long. It helped her grow up in ways she never had to before. I'm glad you like it.
The beauty and sadness of this story is done so well. It's great following through this story. The way Spike and Dru has to handle this and the people they are meeting, all is described in such a good way.
It is so very disturbing with vampires bowing down for their enemy to be killed. Speaking about disturbing, this genocide feels extra wrong in Germany.
Thank you! The descriptions were a lot of fun to work on, and I'm pleased you like them. And yes, that it's reached Germany...Spike does use it to his advantage, as best he can, and it's still bad it's come to that.
This is an intricate, impressive, and intriguing bit of writing, and I'm a little bit in awe of your ability to spin paragraphs that are achingly beautiful and yet also hold a bit of menace. I feel like I'm reading waiting for something to spring out at me, all in the best way.
I started to look back through to find lines to pull out and gush over, but honestly, I would just have to copy and paste this whole thing back at you. This is the type of language you savor. I loved the detail of them figuring out what's going on by waiting for the woman to read the newspaper and then Dru peeking in on her mind. Also the whole dynamic between Spike and Dru is lovely--loving but also kind of innocent despite the people they keep thralling and tying up.
Can't wait to read more and learn exactly what's brought Spike and Dru to this, and to learn a little bit more about the separation from Buffy and Dawn.
Knock me over with a feather and leave me to moan quietly for a while - hearing my writing being praised like this has me pretty much dumbstruck. I read it, and reread it, and I want to shake your hand and buy you an ice cream cone.
I can thank you without geography getting in the way, unlike the ice cream cone, so: thank you. Thank you, so much. I love writing Dru and Spike as sort of siblings, in a vampire way, and I'm happy you also liked the moment of Dru reading the paper secondhand. There will be more about what happened to bring the world to this, what set them on the run, and there's going to be a little springing later. Don't worry; it'll come in due time. I hope you enjoy it when it arrives.
Gorgeous, gorgeous writing and an intriguing plot.
Thank you so much! I'm happy you enjoyed the beginning, and I hope the rest continues to satisfy and please.
There is definitely an apocalyptic vibe going on here that reflects the current climate of the world. It's very eerie and isolating.
Loved the feeling that came through with the bike ride. It was like a sea of peaceful beauty in a silent, wicked storm. (does that make sense?)
I was glad to see Buffy and Dru finally speak of Buffy. Was starting to worry. haha
You hit this right on the head, and your observations are all correct and make perfect sense. Those were the tones I was going for and the atmosphere I wanted - the isolation, the struggle to get that small patch of beauty in the silent storm. Yes! Thank you.
It took a while for them to be able to mention Buffy because until now, it hurt too much. Now they're used to the hurt.
The scenes with them on the road are interesting because some things are timeless and feel like this could have been them in the same places sixty years ago, but other things show that even vampires change, age, and grow over time.
Spike blending in with coffeehouse hipsters and thinking about his soaps made me grin. His description of Faith, her body language and him knowing her and knowing how to interpret it, that made me tear up - that, along with the sense of how time had passed and things had changed. Also, that it wasn’t just a matter of moving past tradition, but of going against instinct - the main thing that kept slayers alive - was an angle I hadn’t considered before.
They seemed to figure, demons had their moment rising up, now they were all moving back to how things had been a few years ago, back to normal only now everyone was aware of what was on the other side of things. - This was painfully applicable to how a lot of people seem to feel things will work out right now.
Oh, I liked this! - a world that’s as big and wonderful as we thought it was when we were kids, trying to do magic in the backyard
It makes me sad that it’s only practicality that keeps him from draining humans at this point. How long does it take for any of us to return to our survival instincts, and how much does it take for us not to care?
The changes in the trains and stations reflecting the changing socioeconomic status of their passengers & Spike and Dru looking out the windows through their cupped hands like human children were such awesome details.
the brambles - I love the way Dru’s words aren’t the ones most people would think to use, but are just right once we realize what she was talking about. Sometimes that reminds me of my daughter.
somewhere between Sinead O’Connor and Henry Rollins - SNORT!
Re: the paragraph about the homeless woman, which I’m only not quoting because I’m trying not to make all my comments ten screens long with pull quotes. Maybe I was too hasty in my assumptions earlier about reasons for not eating people. Or maybe thoughts are changeable and lines blur and move.
eating in the bathroom, drinking the pigs’ blood slowly, hoovering up every bit from the polyethylene. Like Dawn with ice cream, they ripped the bags open and licked the insides, getting every last drop they could. Spike saw a tiny bit dribbled on the floor; he wiped his finger against the hard ceramic and licked it clean. - Dawn mention and that’s so exactly what she’d do if a drop fell.
I could totally hear this piece of internal monologue in Spike’s voice: No one they knew got an interview, thank every skulking beast from all known and conquered hells. The diurnal demon world - what disturbs me isn’t its existence, but that it’s a tactical move by the Council to shift the demonic social structure to a place vamps can’t access. Make it sound like integration instead of assimilation designed to wipe out a race.
“Still don’t know,” she said. “Was it her, all this time? That she was always inside you from the very start? I saw it, all the way back, saw her around you, but what you said – I saw her as you said it, and you only saw me as you said it, and could it have been I made what I saw?”
-I’ve wondered if Dru saw it all along and if she just accepted it like other things she saw or if it really upset her, but I hadn’t thought about her thinking it might be a self-fulfilling prophecy. This section was touching, both of them showing vulnerability and acknowledging the Buffy-size elephant in the room.
Your comments always make my days wonderful. Thank you so much for all the kind words. I keep trying to find things to respond to, and I just nod and say, yes, she got it, yes, that's a good point, yes, thank you, thank you, thank you.
Some of the diurnal aspects are demons being able to be out in the open, and not thinking beyond that; the Council-pushing aspect didn't occur to me, but I like it now that you've said it.
I always wonder that about Dru. She's a powerfully tragic character, and both TV shows enjoyed their self-fulfilling prophecies. It's not a question that'll ever be answered to anyone's satisfaction - the characters, the fans, no one. So I tried to find a way for the characters, at least, to make peace with the way their world is, and move on and keep going.
“Yes, she got it,” is a pretty awesome response to receive
I love Dru, and I love it when fanfics address things I see as unresolved in a satisfying way that gives me some closure.
Aww, you've got me smiling again.
I've read a not-insignificant number of fanfics that are pretty much just written for a sense of closure for a character or a story. It's a very distinctive genre, though it's also hard to define. You just know it when you see it. I'm happy to hear this is one such fic for you.
There is a sort of beauty in this text, in following Spike and Dru through a slowly dying world. We have seen that the world won't die so it can be stopped. There is this constant feeling of corruption of destructive people working to destroy everyone who doesn't share their view of "goodness " of what is "correct ".
Thank you! And you're spot-on with the feelings of corruption and targeted destruction - they've been on my mind for a long time now, and this fic was the best place I could find to put them.
This imagery: the world’s hungry mouths with all their itching teeth.
The storm clouds in his head, the completely perfect Dru-ness of her polite, nonchalant inquiring after Willow. You write an excellent Dru voice.
This: Honestly, at first glance, I’d thought, let them have at the whole entire body of you corpses. What’s the skin off my nose? A few lost Euros, I can make that up with demon customers now that they’re not afraid to drink here. At first glance. Then I think, good as it was to walk out in public without any shame or fear, grand as it is to be safe to be what I am, what went into making all of you disappear like that?” She poured herself a shot and knocked it back. “I wouldn’t mourn to see you all disappear in a great puff of smoke and ash, but that they’re going after you, one by one, that doesn’t sit well in my head or either of my hearts.”
Made me think of this: First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.*****
Seeing the world change was easy enough, you looked around and there it was, but hearing the forgotten noises of the world was a different piece of business.- It’s so strange to be able to relate to this when I’m just in my forties - it doesn’t seem like enough decades to get this feeling when I hear the ring of an actual telephone or the clicking of typewriter keys.
The old cash register and the security feed - I like the way this story blends a clear sense of now with remnants of decades gone by, like the modern world washed in sepia.
Try not to hear shrieking violins when he caught sight of a certain kind of blonde hair. -
“That sounds terrific,” Drusilla breathed, and Spike knew she meant it to mean to beget terror. - NICE!!!
The vampires bowing thing and Dru and Spike’s reactions gave me chills. And the Slayers without papers.
The fight scene in the demon bar with such obnoxious novice Slayers and such classic Spike fighting and banter! Downing all their drinks at the end and tossing money on the bar was quintessential badass Spike.
Their giggly Lady Macbeth exchange in the hotel room
I spent four hours in Liechtenstein when I was seventeen. There was nowhere open to get my passport stamped.
This was a beauty and joy to wake up to.
Spike's consistently poetic command of language - someone wrote some meta about it here - combined with his unique perspective made for an enjoyable challenge to write properly. I'm pleased it worked for you, in ringing true for the character and the images themselves.
You're not that far off with the comparison there. Casting demons and vampires and magicians and Slayers as metaphoric representations of ways the real world is collapsing and crumbling shook itself out during the drafting phase, and I worked to tighten it up during the editing. I'm pleased it came off so vividly.
Spike knows the reputation he's built, and how he has to live up to it now. Writing him downing the drinks was an absolute blast.
Putting Spike and Dru in a sibling-like relationship here was similarly fun. They're sort of brother and sister. And sort of mother and son. And sort of wife and husband. Vampires: there's no easy way to translate it.
Thank you, again, for the rich comment.
Was skimming to refresh before chapter 2 and realized I had forgotten something in my initial comment:
I love the idea of Spike and Dru playing around with photobooths ever since they were invented. I'm happy you like it, too.
The entry point of this story is so good! The cold open of Spike and Dru cropping off each other’s hair is such an intimate scene. It utilizes their history (and the built-in significance the intended audience attaches to that hair) to convey the severity of their situation with a shorthand that’s scarily efficient in achieving an emotional impact.
I’m jumping into the middle of the series by starting off reading this, so I don’t know if the Polish setting was an existing part of the story or if you chose it specifically for this piece, but its inherent echoes of a previous era of terror, roundups, and genocide combined with the notes at the top of the chapter give an ominous weight right away to the atmosphere of the story.
He’d known things were going south, rumblings and discontentments, but he’d been foolish enough, grown relaxed enough, given sufficient enough privileges that he’d let himself leave old instincts and lessons at the door.
And then this:
He hadn’t even been a creature or a beast in their eyes. The three of them – all girls barely Buffy’s age the second time she’d died. After he’d taken down the first of them, the other two had fallen fast, one right after another, and what really stank about it, the most petty and rank part of the mess, was that they’d honestly needed him that first part of the night. That they’d planned on making use of him for a proper mission, seeing to it that the Eldrazin was contained and not trampling through the countryside picking off little children anymore, three Slayers and one vampire enough muscle to take her down and send her off.
And then what came after that. So many real and fictional moments of nakedly unfair systemic betrayal layered on top of each other in my head, and I could feel the tears start from somewhere in my torso and pull themselves all the way up through and out onto my face.
I loved the radio/music in the car. The way you used it to show Spike’s relationship with Dawn, his hollowness without Buffy, moments of his history with Dru by themselves and with their family, and also let them have a perfectly in character discussion about the music itself was just awesome. And the fluctuating languages as stations went in and out was a nice touch that added to the sense of time and place. Also, I loved these sentences: Not so much love, in this song, as loneliness, and loss, which was a way to sing about love, in its own way. The empty space around where love was meant to be.
Dru with the fireflies was magical, such a good fit.
And the accuracy and contrast of these:
“Darkness is always first to go, fighting against the modern world,” Dru said. “What they fear the most, little soft humans, is what they try to kill right away, soon as they’ve found themselves the proper tools for its murder.”
“Always happy to give ’em reason to be afraid of the dark,” he admitted, picking out familiar stars. “You know they got little nighttime sanctuaries? For astronomers and suchlike. Places they don’t let electric lights go. Like darkness is some rare bird and it’s gotta be kept safe.”
There was so much I loved about this, it was a challenge not to just pull quote half the chapter.
Thank you so much for all these rich words. I know I'll be rolling around in them for weeks to come. Tears are always high praise.
I'm happy you liked the cold open; it took me a while to figure out how to begin the story, and I'm pleased it works. As for Poland, I picked it a few stories ago because of the Białowieża Forest, which I figured would be a good spot for Dru to hide from the world. Then when I got the idea for this fic, I figured, I mentioned Poland already, so I might as well keep with that.
The radio scene took a while to get right, for tone and hand choreography. Using music, and silence, to let Spike's feelings come to the surface - and who doesn't let their mind wander when they're listening to music in a car? - was a fun thing to work through. I'm happy you liked it.
Again, thank you for all the kind words.
And that, children..? is the difference between a wanna-be slayer and the Real Thing! (It's also the difference between a run-of-the-mill fledge..? and a REAL F***ING MASTER VAMPIRE..!! ) There's only One Slayer () that has The Big Bad's Number - and it ain't any of you, brats! Go back to kiddie pool!
I've said this before, & I say it again, any fic where we get to see Spike retain (or in this case USE) his Bad Ass credentials (and boy, did he! 5 slayers, admittedly noobs, but still..! 5! and he put 'em ALL in the Hurt Locker!) is a sure winner.
Cannot wait to see how this plays out. 100/100
What a comment! Thank you so much. And yes, pretty much all you've said here - even if these five women are trained Slayers, they don't have the experience needed to take on someone like Spike, especially a Spike dedicated to a goal of eventually seeing Buffy again.