aadler: (MutantEnemy)
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When I entered [livejournal.com profile] deird1’s buffy-remix, I persuaded [livejournal.com profile] sroni to do the same. Then comes the deadline, and neither of us is ready to post. I’m not finished with my own story (it grew in the telling, and still requires some work), and she wasn’t really satisfied yet with hers. Being family and near enough to pull it off, we did a temporary trade-off: she turned out a quick pinch-hit for my assigned author ([livejournal.com profile] nothorse), and I did the same for hers (LookingForOctober). As soon as we’re done/satisfied, we’ll each post our own stories, and each of our authors will have two remixes by way of apology.

Her pinch-hit (here) is, in my opinion, the better one. Mine follows.


Bitter From the Sweet
(the ‘I’ve Been to Paradise’ Remix)
Copyright June 2013

Disclaimer: Characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel: the Series are property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, Kuzui Enterprises, Sandollar Television, the WB, and UPN.

This story is a remix, done for Round 1 of the buffy-remix, of “Imperfect Happiness”, by LookingForOctober.


 
The call had come. As soon as she was able to think, she had known she couldn’t avoid this. He had been told of her death, had come to see her grave; her friends (tormentors) let her know all the details. It would have been too cruel not to let him know she was back again (and they hated to be cruel, they really did), and once he knew, the two of them would of course have to meet, and that was something she was determined to have happen away from her home (her hell).

So they picked a place. Neutral ground, halfway between Sunnydale and Los Angeles. A motel, in a little town off the Interstate called Cromwell. She gets there first, because she can travel in the daytime. He arrives an hour after sunset. And minutes after that, she has him onto the cheap bed, the two of them tearing at one another’s clothes and at one another like Kosh’tscho demons in rut.

It isn’t as good as the first time. She was so much younger then, so full of desire and belief and crazy, lost, tragic passion. Now she’s dead, empty, going through the motions and feeling nothing inside.

So ironic that the dead man lying next to her still has all the hope and belief and love that are ashes for her. Both of them died and rose again: he to a demon (first free, then chained to a soul), she to a living body and a soul that might as well be dead and shriveled. He used to claim she had given him life for the first time in a pair of centuries. If so, he kept that life after it was torn away from her.

She’s had two lovers since him (and actually cared for one of them, though the other hurt her more). Neither of them, however, gave her as much ecstasy or pain as he has. She doubts there’s been anyone else for him since then; he couldn’t risk it, wouldn’t risk it, wouldn’t be able to face her if he had.

That first time, she woke afterward to a nothing that turned out to be a nightmare. This time, she doesn’t fall asleep, simply lies waiting to see what will come. Will he be the demon once more? Will she have to kill him again? Will he kill her this time?

Will she try to resist if he does?

His breathing was as fast as hers during their frenzied coupling, while she worked doggedly toward orgasm in the hope that the physical sensation could, at least for awhile, blank away the fact that she can’t feel anything else. Once it was done, however, he returned more quickly to normal … although, of course, for him ‘normal’ means drawing breath only when he needs it to speak, or when he is deliberately mimicking human attributes to keep anyone from marking him (consciously or intuitively) as other-than-normal. She is only now feeling her heartbeat settle back into its customary rhythm, her breath likewise slowing to match it, and it is in this moment that he places his hand on her shoulder and turns her to where they are once again face to face.

(As soon as they were done, she went onto her side, her back to him. He could have sunk his teeth into her neck from behind before she ever had a chance to react. Horrible lapse in her instincts, unless her instinct is now to suicide, which is all too possible.)

“I’m sorry,” he says.

“Don’t be,” she answers evenly. “I got there. I know you felt it.”

“That isn’t what I meant.” His eyes are steady, his voice equally so, but she can sense the emotion he so carefully keeps under control. “You’re hurting. I could feel that. Feel that you needed this to … to fill something in you. And I can tell that it didn’t. I just don’t know why.”

“There’s always a why,” she says, the words meaningless to her. On the other hand, don’t they, in their own way, communicate that absence of meaning? “It just doesn’t necessarily matter.”

“You were taking a chance,” he says, in what might be faint reproach if his own concern wasn’t so clear.

“Is that what I was doing?” Her eyes are on his, to see (she thought) if it’s still him or if the demon is in charge now … but, suddenly, it seems just as likely that he’s the one looking through the windows to the soul and seeing nothing. “Did I rush in where you feared to tread?”

“There wasn’t much danger of me getting any happiness out of what we just did.” The words could carry a whiplash sneer, but he means only what he says, nothing more. “I did hope it could help you, though. I wish I believed it had.”

“Why are you here?” she demands of him in abrupt anger. “What did you want to see?”

Now she’s the one trying to deliver pain. Not too well, since she can’t summon the will to give it her best. He takes it without showing any effect. “I wanted to see for myself that it was true. That you were alive.” He waits one heartbeat, two, three. (Hers, not his.) Then: “Are you?”

He hasn’t asked anything she hasn’t wondered. She doesn’t reply because she doesn’t know the answer. At last she says, “What was Hell like? When you were there?”

Now something shows in his eyes: alarm, even horror. “Is that what it is? Did you fall into a hell dimension?” His hand is on her shoulder, attempting gentleness. “How … how long was it? for you?”

She looks back to him with every bit of the nothing that is in her. “So there was Time where you were? Because I don’t remember any time. It was all … All.”

He flinches at what he sees (or thinks he sees). “You didn’t deserve that,” he says, disbelieving. “I don’t understand. You’re a champion. You’re good. Why would the … the Powers That Be, send you to any of the hells?”

And a part of her wants to laugh at that, but she can’t find even the kind of laughter that comes with bitterness. “I don’t know,” she says in answer. “Why have they?”


end
 


And there you are. Don’t hesitate to offer commentary.

Date: 2013-06-30 07:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] velvetwhip.livejournal.com
Wow. This is really good. You perfectly evoked resurrected Buffy - cold and lost and blank and numb with pain. So much despair and futility here. You may not think much of your effort, but I have to disagree with you, because I am very impressed with this.


Gabrielle

P.S. You linked to the wrong story in your header.
Edited Date: 2013-06-30 07:11 am (UTC)

Date: 2013-06-30 05:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aadler.livejournal.com
Okay, sorry about the wrong link (it’s been fixed). I was helping [livejournal.com profile] sroni do her posts, too, first since she finished hers first, and then adapting what we’d done for hers to accommodate mine, and I missed that part. (Caught it on my actual buffy-remix post, but missed it here.)

I had actually been thinking for years on doing the Buffy-meets-Angel missing-scene story. When I looked at what LookingForOctober had done with “Imperfect Happiness”, though, this was what immediately came out. I’m pleased that it seems to have worked to some extent.
Edited Date: 2013-06-30 05:29 pm (UTC)

Date: 2013-06-30 03:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] slaymesoftly.livejournal.com
Ah, sadly so believable. The last line says it all, doesn't it? Well done.

Date: 2013-06-30 05:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aadler.livejournal.com
Thank you.

Date: 2013-06-30 03:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] snogged.livejournal.com
I think you captured Buffy, post-heaven, in a great way. Don't sell yourself short on this story because it's good!

Date: 2013-06-30 05:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aadler.livejournal.com
But [livejournal.com profile] sroni’s is still better. Thanks anyhow.

Date: 2013-06-30 08:17 pm (UTC)
deird1: Fred looking pretty and thoughful (Default)
From: [personal profile] deird1
WOW. This is excellent!

Date: 2013-06-30 09:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aadler.livejournal.com
It came a little too easily to me for me to take it entirely seriously. It doesn’t offend me that you like it, though. Once I finish my regular remix (because, as stated above, this was a trade-off with [livejournal.com profile] sroni, each of us doing a temporary pinch-hit for the other), I’ll be going through the other stories — yours included — to leave appropriate feedback.

Date: 2013-06-30 11:14 pm (UTC)
lookingforoctober: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lookingforoctober (from livejournal.com)
Ooo, very much in tune with season 6, and the ending really works.

Date: 2013-06-30 11:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aadler.livejournal.com
I’m pleased that you found it effective. I carried it to an ending different from yours, not because I disagreed with your treatment but because that was what came to me when I started in on the story. The situation itself simply seemed just that bleak to me.

When [livejournal.com profile] sroni finishes and posts her actual remix for you, you’ll be even more pleased, I think. But then, I may be prejudiced here.

Date: 2013-07-01 10:10 pm (UTC)
lookingforoctober: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lookingforoctober (from livejournal.com)
I find your story very persuasive, actually, and...it's really interesting for me to think back to what I was trying to do and compare it with what I think you were trying to do. I guess that's the fun of the remix :)

I'll be on the lookout for it.

Date: 2013-07-02 03:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] texanfan.livejournal.com
I did very much enjoy your twist that Angel knew it wouldn't be perfect, and in his own ham handed way was trying to help. The "You didn't deserve that" packs a punch he didn't intend.

Date: 2013-07-02 03:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aadler.livejournal.com
You know, I hadn’t actually thought of his ‘unintended’ meaning until you put it in those terms. That IS awful.

Date: 2013-10-16 06:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] red-satin-doll.livejournal.com
Here from the SunnyD awards nominee list and - this is perhaps one of the best fics I've read in terms of capturing Buffy's numbness, depression and despair. Both Angel and Buffy are so well-characterized here I can almost hear the silent spaces, the "in-betweens" where they they try to communicate and grasp for words that don't exist.

Fantastic final line.

Date: 2013-10-17 02:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aadler.livejournal.com
It’s funny, I ran this story out (quickly) because I knew I wouldn’t meet a deadline, and it’s received far more recognition than I ever anticipated. That doesn’t at all displease me, but it does surprise me a bit.

To the extent that I thought about it, I was doing what I could to capture the … indefiniteness … of the reunion as not-depicted on BtVS/A:tS. Two people doing something that needed to be done (the meeting, not the reckless sex), but finding nothing like the connection that used to exist between them. I’m reasonably satisfied that I met that goal, and if the rest works for other readers, what can I say but “Thank you”?

Date: 2013-10-17 07:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] red-satin-doll.livejournal.com
Two people doing something that needed to be done (the meeting, not the reckless sex), but finding nothing like the connection that used to exist between them.

You definitely succeeded. This fits Buffy's one-word description of the meeting, "intense", very well.

Date: 2014-01-17 07:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kikimay.livejournal.com
Amazing fic. I really like Bangel when it's dark and depressing. You captured the tragic side of the romance and portrayed a very - and painfully - believable post-resurrection Buffy. I like how quiet Angel seems beside her.

Date: 2014-01-20 01:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aadler.livejournal.com
Yes, they’re very different now from their first time together (or even their second, though Buffy won’t remember that once since, for her, it never happened). But he, like everyone else, still leaps to the wrong conclusion …

Thank you. It still surprises me that I’m getting so much approval on what was, for me, a quick effort.

Here from buffyversetop5

Date: 2014-01-17 07:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] yourlibrarian.livejournal.com
Now she’s the one trying to deliver pain. Not too well, since she can’t summon the will to give it her best. He takes it without showing any effect. “I wanted to see for myself that it was true. That you were alive.” He waits one heartbeat, two, three. (Hers, not his.) Then: “Are you?”

Wow, wonderfully done.

Date: 2014-01-20 01:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aadler.livejournal.com
Your approval heartens me. Thank you.

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