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So, I asked for fic commentary requests. (I’m still happy to do more, if anyone’s wants to suggest one.)

This was written for lavastar, who requested a commentary for The Very Secret Diary Of Andrew Wells. You should probably read that before looking at this commentary.

The original fic still looks like it did, and my notes are the bits in blockquotes.

The Very Secret Diary Of Andrew Wells, Watcher, Day 724

There’s a fairly famous set of fanfics, known as The Very Secret Diaries. They’re basically the diary entries of various Lord of the Rings characters, as the movies (not the books) take place.
I figured Andrew, being a geek, would almost certainly know about them.

Today marks our twelfth day in Munich.

Whenever I have any characters going to a random part of Europe, they almost invariably end up in Munich. That’s because I lived there for three months, so I actually have some idea of what the city’s actually like.

Our quarters are still comfortable, but rapidly becoming messy. I really must devise some sort of cleaning roster.
We continue our endeavours to retrieve the Eye. Such a small artefact – and yet, without it any further action will be impossible. Fortuitously, we have obtained intelligence concerning its probable location. I have sent two members of our party on reconnaissance.
Morale is fairly high, especially now that we’ve found a store that imports Twinkies.

(Twinkies: the junk-food version of “Munich”, as far as my writing is concerned. It’s pretty much the only American junk-food that I actually know something about.)

As our quest stretches into its second week, our main challenge is staving off despair. Or possibly boredom.

“Nothing? Not even a pair of sixes?”
“Nope. You?”
“An ace.”
“Fantastic. You win.”
“Congratulations. You are now the proud owner of… two pairs of socks, and the last packet of gummi bears.”

Absolutely the best thing about Munich? Gummi bears. Seriously. They’re awesome.

Suzanne sighs, and starts shuffling the deck again.
“Can’t believe I’m missing a Skids concert for this.”

(A completely fictional band.)

* * * * *

To hasten the long hours, we have resumed our ongoing discussion comparing the merits of various warriors.

“Okay. I’ve got one. Who would win: Spiderman or Batman?”

Pay attention, for we have reached a metaphor…

“What? No way! Spidey would so kick his butt.”
“The Dark Knight?” Andrew scoffs. “He defeats everyone in the end. Spiderman wouldn’t stand a chance.”
“Spiderman has superpowers!” argues Suzanne. “All Batman has is an entirely lame costume.”
“But he’s the master planner! He can come up with a way to defeat anyone! And his costume isn’t lame.”
“Lamer than Spidey’s.”
“And Spiderman wouldn’t give him time to formulate a plan. He’d corner him in an alley, and take him down right there.”

Personally, I’m on Suzanne’s side.

This reasoning displayed a lamentable lack of strategic experience that is all too common amongst our recruits. On my return, I plan to petition for the stories of the greats (especially DC) to be made required reading for all new Slayers.

What? It’s the sort of thing Andrew would consider important…
(DC, by the way, are the people who produce Batman comics. While Spiderman is owned by Marvel. Just in case there are people reading this who know nothing about comics.)

* * * * *

They’re beginning a fifth game of Scrabble when the others finally get back.
Mella rushes in, and kneels dramatically. “We return, my liege! Our quest was taxing, but ultimately successful.”
Andrew nods, sagely. “Well done, brave and noble warrior.”
“After an arduous journey, we reached our destination, and discovered-”
Jules rolls her eyes. “Stop acting like a moron, Mella. Just give him the amulet already.”
Suzanne is rolling her eyes too, but she steps in. “Jules, they’re having fun. You really have a problem with that?”

These are my absolute favourite three OCs that I’ve ever written.
In my head, Suzanne is the oldest, Mella is the youngest, and Jules is just awesome. (Some day I’m going to give in, and write The Amazing Adventures Of Suzanne, Jules, Mella, and Andrew. It’ll be sort of like Charlie’s Angels, only much better.)

Some people see the world as an interesting and remarkable place, full of possibility. Some people just don’t get it.
Our youngest member, at least, understands how to get into the spirit of things.

Andrew’s grown up (a bit) since the show. He’s now well aware that “acting” bits of life, and turning the world into a story, is, well, kinda silly. But he’s having fun, so he really doesn’t care…

“I hereby award you the highest honour in the kingdom, and grant you a gift of twelve horses from my royal stables.”
“My thanks, sire. I will treasure them always, and feed them the finest hay my menservants can procure.”
Jules rolls her eyes again.

* * * * *

Back to business. “So, did you get it?”
She grins. “Got it.”

Communiqué From The Front Line, March13, 1800 hours
Item acquired.

(Andrew regularly changes the title of his Watcher’s Diary. This is mostly because it’s fun, but also because he kinda enjoys the expression on Giles’ face when he has to read it.)

“Too easy. It was sitting right where they said it would be. Gold case. Velvet lining. Big sign saying The Eye of Oregano – and what kind of nuts name their mystical treasure after a herb, anyway?”
“It wasn’t! It was named after the warrior queen Orega, who destroyed-”
“Whatever. It’s still a crap name.”

As I mentioned in an essay a while back, this bit is purely because I couldn’t get the name “Eye of Oregano” out of my head. It just… seemed to fit.

* * * * *

The Eye has been secured, and is safe on base.
Next item on the agenda: discussing strategy.

“So we don’t get to kill any vamps?”
“Of course you can kill some-” Suzanne says, patiently.
“That’s good, cause I’m not leaving them all for our backup. They take down a small army while we prance around with an amulet? No thanks.”
“Jules, there will be plenty of vampires to deal with, after we’ve gotten the amulet to the central chamber. Until then, leave them to the others. Okay?”

Watch closely, as I try very hard to point out what’s going to happen without actually giving away what’s going to happen.
The Slayers, you might notice, have been told that there are two teams going into this: them (to do various mystical amulety stuff) and another lot (to kill vampires, and protect our three amulet users). This is a bald-faced lie.

Suzanne starts again. “So. Team B stops the vampires from blocking our exit-”
“Lucky bitches.”
“What was that?”
“That was Mella, not me.”
“Was not.”
“Oh, it so was!”
As I was saying, team B takes the vamps, while we of team A, moving with all the power and elegance of Spiderman beating up the Dark Knight, take the Eye through to the central-”

(Re-emergence of the metaphor…)

Suzanne turns, and tries to look innocent. “What?”
Andrew glares. “You can’t just say stuff like that, and expect me not to notice.”
“Come on. You know I’m right. Spiderman would so win.”
“Spiderman would never win. He’s just not smart enough. And his powers aren’t everything – Batman’s pretty strong too.”
“Peter Parker is incredibly smart! He invented web-fluid! In high school!”
“Yeah, but Batman’s smarter.”
“Yeah, and Spiderman has powers. And if you scale up to allow for the power level discrepancy between Marvel and DC, there’s no way that- wait.”
Which Spiderman are you thinking of? Amazing, Ultimate, or movie?”
“Uh… guys?”
They turn. Mella’s standing there. “Could we maybe get back to the real battle? You know, the one happening on Wednesday?” she suggests.
Jules smirks. “Oh, so now you want to talk about reality?”

Again, for those who do not pay attention to the world of comics: Amazing Spiderman is the original comicbook hero. Ultimate Spiderman is the new, improved, so-much-cooler-than-the-one-your-parents-liked comicbook hero. And movie Spiderman is the one played by Tobey Maguire.

It was a useful diversion. It took the focus off some pretty obvious questions. Normally, this kind of slack attitude would have me writing them up on charges – or at least pointing it out.
Now, though, I’m somewhat relieved.

And this is where I start giving hints that All Is Not What It Seems…
(It’s all very dramatic.)

* * * * *

“Do you think this’ll be wrapped up in time for me to be home on Saturday? It’s my cousin’s birthday.”
He nods, thoughtfully. “Sure. I’d say we’ll be done by then.”

The way the Slayers work, in my head?
They live at home, are expected to patrol regularly, meet up for post-slayage coffee (and for training) with Slayers in their area, and go on occasional missions – like the one they’re on right now.
So, they’re a team, but they’re not always doing team stuff. And family birthday parties can still be given high priority.

I have no idea which of them he’s talking to, by the way. It didn’t seem to matter.
The point of this section was, once again, to point out that something is slightly off – and having this little excerpt in there for absolutely no reason at all seemed to work.

* * * * *

Fighting For Freedom: The Batcave Chronicles, 03/14
A hush has fallen across Gotham City. According to the bat-detector supplied by the Scarlet Fury, the level of mystical energy is still on the increase. Most of the local vampires have responded by fleeing the town – making last night’s bat-patrol extremely uneventful.
We have now returned to base, where we will ready ourselves for the fight. Hopefully there won’t be too many interruptions.

“Scarlet Fury”, in this case, being Willow.

* * * * *

“Hey, Andrew.”
Suzanne holds out the phone to him. “It’s for you. Paris. It’s Dawn.”

Mamselle Gateway called from Paris with a message from our intrepid leader.

As I’m sure most of you know by now, I’m a big fan of the Andrew/Dawn dynamic.
So, almost the first thing I wrote for this entire fic was the name “Mamselle Gateway” – which is, of course, a reference to the Key.

Dawn wants to check that he understands the specifics of the plan.
“If the seal isn’t in place within two minutes of the Eye entering the chamber-”
“-the world ends. Yeah, I know.”
“I know. But Giles wanted me to make sure.”
“Well I’m sure.”
“I know.”

Giles has asked Dawn to ring Andrew, not to check that he understands the plan, but to make sure that he’s going to go through with the plan.

This bit is also here to let readers know why Andrew needs to do what he’s going to do…

They chat about movies, skiing, and the latest issue of Green Lantern Extreme. And then-

Green Lantern – another comicbook superhero. “Green Lantern Extreme”, though, is me making up a title.

“How’re you doing, anyway?”
“I’m fine.”
“I’ve double-crossed people before – I’m practically a pro. I’ll be fine.”
“It’s not exactly double-crossing.”
“Feels like it.”
“Yeah, well, pro or not… I don’t envy you.”
“Who does?”
“So – bought any souvenirs?”

(More ominous forebodings – and also Andrew and Dawn being all friendly and understanding each other.)

* * * * *

Captain Wells’ Log, Stardate 2930314.61
We spent today making preparations for tomorrow’s mission.

Star Trek style of title. Although the Stardate is completely nonsensical. I’m sure Andrew would have done a better job of coming up with one.

“Hey, Mella?”
She drops the dagger she’s polishing, jumps to attention, and rips off a flawless salute. “O Captain, my Captain.”
Andrew frowns. “I don’t think they salute him in the movie.”

(He’s talking about The Dead Poets’ Society.)

Today marks a year since Mella joined our voyages. She has become a skilful worker, and a credit to her training.
Team Wells are an exemplary crew, and I enjoy every minute of our time together. Mostly, anyway.
I just wish we could have longer.

And yet more ominous forebodings…

* * * * *

What starts as lunchtime ends as a food-fight. Everyone is soon covered in ketchup and bits of onion – especially Andrew, who doesn’t have the quick reflexes. He pouts, and they tickle him mercilessly until he laughs and begs for freedom.

I wanted to make it clear that they’re basically a family.
Andrew really does care about these girls, and they care about him, too.

* * * * *

Morale, of course, is a concern. I make myself available to all the crew, should they wish to discuss any problems.

“-he never tells me, you know?”
“Yeah. I get it.” He gives Jules another tissue.
“Yeah.” She wipes her eyes dry, and glares at him. “If you tell anyone about this, I’m gonna go to town with my axe.”

This was the first thing I wrote.
In season 7, Andrew gets Spike talking about onion blossoms, and the conversation ends with Spike saying, “Tell anyone we had this conversation, and I’ll bite you.”
And then, a few episodes later, he gets Anya to talk about why she’s sticking around, and it ends with this: “You love humans!” “No I don’t!” “You love them!” “No I don’t! And I’ll kill you if you tell anyone!”
He’s remarkably good at getting people to open up to him – and tends to get a lot of threats about it. So this scene seemed to fit.

* * * * *

Having surveyed our equipment, I can say with confidence that we are ready to go. There are just a few minor details to clear up first.

“But they’re from different universes!” Suzanne argues. “How is he supposed to plan for someone he’s never heard of?”
“Au contraire, grasshopper. They teamed up in Disordered Minds, and New Age Dawning. And Batman plans for everything.”
“Like he’d really plan for-”
“Batman has plans for taking down every member of the JLA! That’s how Ra’s al Ghul defeated them!”
She closes her eyes, and sighs tragically. “You know what? I give in. You’re obviously the expert – Batman would defeat Spiderman.”

Easiest story research I’ve ever done.
I went to little_details, typed in “Batman vs Spiderman – who would win?”, and sat back and watched the debate. Pretty much everything that Andrew and Suzanne say about Batman and Spiderman in this fic comes almost verbatim from the comments to that post.

Andrew stares at her. “You can’t do that.”
“What? You win, okay?”
“But you can’t just give up! Come on – you had a good argument. After all, Spiderman’s an awesome superhero. He’d be brilliant at fighting Batman.”
Suzanne grins. “So you’re saying Spidey would win?”
“Of course not – but that doesn’t mean you should just give in!”

Okay. Given that I keep mentioning this “metaphor”, I’d probably better explain what I was trying to do…
Batman (for those of you who’ve never heard of him) is a guy without any superpowers, who runs around the city fighting people by using his enormous intellect, and his incredible collection of supersciencey weapons. In other words… he’s basically Andrew, as Andrew would like to see himself.
Spiderman, on the other hand, has many superpowers, including super strength, speed, agility, healing, perception, and brilliant punning ability. Sound familiar?

You might have noticed Suzanne talking about the Slayers “moving with all the power and elegance of Spiderman”. You also might have noticed that one of Andrew’s ever-changing diary headings was called “The Batcave Chronicles”.
They are majorly being compared to the superheroes they’re arguing about. And Andrew knows that Batman will win, but he wants Suzanne to really want Spiderman to win

They’ve got to stay confident. They’ve got to. Otherwise they won’t fight with the enthusiasm and recklessness that they’ll need.

She opens a packet of chips, and gives him a smile. “Sorry, Wells. As much as I’d love to debate this, I just… don’t care. Not tonight. I’m far too excited about tomorrow morning. So yeah – this round goes to you. Batman would win.”
He sits on the couch, and digs into her chips. “You really think a battle is more interesting than imaginary superhero fights?”

(Andrew really doesn’t. After all, what’s better than imaginary superhero fights?)

“Don’t you? I mean… we get to save the world.” Another smile. “Us! That’s one hell of a responsibility.”

Is it possible to betray someone if you’re both trying to achieve the same thing?

I loved writing this bit. Especially because Andrew’s next line is about to answer Suzanne’s comment, and his own question…

“Yeah. It is.”

“Especially this time. We’re not supporting the crack teams – we are the crack team! The three of us will swoop in, save the day, and leave our backup to do the clean up while we celebrate with beers and pizza. And we’ll get commendations at this year’s conference. This is the life. Definitely.”
Suzanne can smile like she’s never known pain. And her smiles always gleam.

Andrew eats some chips. And then eats a few more. And then he asks quietly: “So… Suzanne, what would you do if you weren’t going to get a reward?”
She regards him quizzically. “That depends on what you mean.”
“What if there were no rewards? No after-battle drinks? What if no-one congratulated you for it? Would you still go and fight, just to save the world?”

He shouldn’t be asking. But he needs to know.
Needs to at least try.

“I suppose if-”
“Or what if you died? What if you were going to die saving the world, and you knew it? Would you go and fight anyway?”
“What are you…” Suzanne frowns uncertainly. “It’s all been arranged, right? We’ve got plenty of backup?”
He grins. “Of course. You really think I’d send you in there without backup?”

A pause.

(From now on, Suzanne knows precisely what’s going on.)

And then she relaxes, and laughs softly. “Of course you wouldn’t. Sorry. Stupid question.”
But that pause lasted a second too long. She knows.
She doesn’t say anything, though. She just hands him a coke, and starts listing all the reasons why Spiderman would hand Batman his manhood on a platter, no questions asked.

Another Spiderman=Slayer reference, if a tiny one: notice the use of the word “hands”, and who is compared to who.

* * * * *

If you’re doing the right thing, you’re supposed to know that it’s right. You can just tell. And I know this is the right thing to do.
But I wish I was sure.

One thing about Andrew. Sometimes he’s good, sometimes he’s evil. But whatever he is, he’ll be willing to do anything for the side he’s on.

* * * * *

Mella always goes into fights with way too many weapons – and this time is no exception. She’s got two swords, a crossbow, and a selection of smaller weapons.
What with all of that, and the amulet, it’s a wonder she can keep her balance. But she makes it look effortless.
Jules, being Jules, has her lucky axe and nothing else. She’s already champing at the bit waiting for the others to be ready.
Suzanne ignores all of Jules’ hints, and keeps strapping on stakes.

(Did I mention I love these characters?)

Andrew is giving Mella a few last instructions.
“Remember, the shrine looks like a big hexagon made of stone. And the Eye has to be placed in its centre to work properly. Right in its centre.”
Jules looks exasperated. “Yep. Big stone hexagon. Central chamber. We know all this, Drew. Stop stressing.”
“I’m not stressing.”
“Oh, you’re so stressing. Just ‘cause we get to go and fight while you’re stuck here waiting for our backup, that’s no reason to be all jealous, alright? Chill out.”
“Just… get her to the shrine alive, okay?”
She nods. “Sure. Ready, Mella?”
Mella sheaths a sixth dagger, and stands up. “Ready.”
They pull the door open, and step through.
Mella grins back at him. “See you afterwards.”
Then the two of them are gone.

Suzanne just stands there, and glares at him.
He raises his eyebrows. “What?”
She glares some more. “Spiderman would so kick Batman’s ass.”
“You’re sure?”
“Dead sure.” She picks up her sword, and shrugs. “But hey – with great power comes great responsibility, right?” And she gives him another one of those gleaming smiles, and then she runs inside, screaming for blood.

“With great power comes great responsibility” – that’s about the most famous Spiderman quote ever.

Suzanne, as I said, is well aware of what’s happening. And this is where the metaphor starts fading away, to a certain extent. Just do a simple word substitution:
She glares some more. “I would SO kick your ass.”
“You’re sure?”
“Dead sure.” She picks up her sword, and shrugs. “But hey – with great power comes great responsibility, right?”

…it’s pretty much the same thing. Just a tad less geeky.

* * * * *

Andrew waits nearly the full two minutes before he seals the door.
Stupid, really. He knows exactly what’s going to happen – what has to happen – but he can’t help thinking just maybe…

But finally he does his job.
With four seconds to spare, the door is closed. Mystically closed. And it’ll never open again.
With the Eye of Oregano absorbing the dangerous mojo, and the door’s seal preventing the universe from being turned inside out just to compensate, his work is done.
World saved. Just like that.

I really wish I’d been able to phrase this better.
It’s just rather hard trying to clarify that their mission involves all three of the Slayers having to die to save the world, when I have no idea what the mission is.

He could leave – after all, the job’s done, and the world will now go on turning – but he stays. And listens to the sounds of battle, the muffled cries, and finally the silence. And then he stands up and walks away.

Watcher’s Diary, A Wells, March 15th
Mission accomplished.

The reason I had all those fun and completely insane diary headings?
So that I could have Andrew write the blandest, most stock-standard heading imaginable.

He really can break my heart.


The Mezzanine

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