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The WIP That Wasn’t

You might have noticed me posting the occasional fic commentary – mostly for lavastar, who is insatiable.

But I got stuck. Because she requested a commentary for Not, Now, which… well, it’d probably end up being 5% fic and 95% commentary, and most of it would have very little to do with what I’ve written. Mainly because the actual story I’ve got in my head is novel-length. So, instead of writing a commentary, I just decided to post a rambly discussion of the hugely epic fic I never quite got around to writing…

I wrote Not, Now on a whim, when still_grrr asked for fic about Who Are You. I ended up looking at the episode, and wondering: what if they never switched back?

The premise for my fic starts with the Watchers who have captured Buffy (in Faith’s body). In the show, they realise they can’t get passage back to England, and decide to execute Buffy-in-Faith – at which point she escapes.

In my fic, they can get passage. And Buffy goes back to England with them.

This instantly has a few results:
1) Faith still goes back to the church to help, but then ends up leaving town, still in Buffy’s body.
2) The Scoobies can’t stop Adam the way they did in the show.
3) The monks can’t send Dawn to Buffy for protection.

So I started thinking.

What if Faith is still all repenty, but on the run? She can’t go to Angel (not like this), she can’t go to jail (the cops would think she was crazy), and she can’t go back to Sunnydale.

There is an epic fic in my head, that will never be written. It’s called Halfway There, and it begins with

Book One: Faith
…in which Faith hates herself, burns down a Brazilian nightclub, beats up lots of people, and is very screwed up. And then she meets this 17 year old runaway, called Dawn Watson.

The monks, after all, can’t send the Key to Buffy. But they can send her to the Slayer. Faith might not be particularly stable or happy, but she’s not murdering people anymore, and she’s not in jail…

There’s a change, though. Buffy will do anything for a helpless little sister. Faith won’t. So instead, the monks make the Key her lover.

In Not, Now, I explained it like this:
She’d do anything for Dawn.

Maybe it’s because Dawn is the only person who’s never given up on her.
Or maybe it’s because the way she talks, the way she smiles, the way she is… it all reminds her of B. She can’t let go of that – not now.

“The only person who’s never given up on her” was originally something Faith said about Angel – as the reason she’d do anything for him. And she still has a fair amount of guilt over Buffy. I decided that seeing Dawn as a combination of these two things would be the best way to motivate her. Put those traits in someone Faith’s in love with? Who’s in love with her? She’ll do anything to keep them alive. Which is exactly what the monks need.

Book One would mainly be the story of Faith realising that she was still the Slayer, and still wanted to help people – even if she was still on the run.

Not, Now is set somewhere towards the end of it.

Then comes

Book Two: Hope
…in which Dawn discovers that she’s the Key, decides to be real anyway, and then gets kidnapped.

Glory, after all, is still out there. Only this time, she’s in Europe.

This is where the whole situation gets complicated. Because there’s a whole bunch of stuff in the background that was only hinted at during the first Book. Such as:

1) The Watchers who kidnapped Buffy? Not actually working under the Council’s orders. They’ve disappeared. And so has she.
2) Adam? Got his demon army. Including Riley.
3) The Scoobies have, as you can imagine, been having a really tough time of things lately. They’re trying to fight Adam, the body count is growing, and they keep on trying to convince the Council that Buffy is really Buffy. The Council, meanwhile, keep stalling them – not because they’re not happy to help (after all, they want to stop Adam as much as anyone) but because they don’t want to admit that, actually, they lost Buffy months ago…
4) The people who actually have Buffy? They’re a splinter group of Watchers. Who are evil. And now they want Dawn.

I have some great scenes for this Book in my head – like the part where Dawn takes a box full of souvenirs (one from every town, she’s been collecting them the whole time) and drops them, one by one, in the river. And the bit where she realises that, even if Faith only loves her because of magic, she doesn’t know that – and Dawn decides to stay with her anyway, because it would break Faith’s heart if she left.

There’s also a really cool bit where the club they’re at gets attacked by a huge dog-monster – because the Key is susceptible to “necromanced animal detection” of snakes or dogs, remember – and the guy Glory buys the magic supplies off tells the rogue Watchers group, which is how they find Dawn.

And the Book ends with Dawn standing in front of her kidnappers, where they say this:
“You’re not human.”
“No, I’m not. But she doesn’t know that.”

…because Faith is such a part of Dawn’s life that it’s what makes her make the decision that, yes, she is real. Regardless.

And finally, there’s

Book Three: Charity
…in which Willow becomes a main character.

One thing that I’ve always seen as essential to Willow’s character is that, at some point, she’s going to go dark. And clearly, in the “Swapverse”, it’s not going to happen at the end of season 6. So, when’s it going to happen?

Right about now, actually.

The Scoobies have been battling Adam’s army for months, now. They’ve been pushing the boundaries, making ends-or-means decisions… Willow, in particular, has been doing some pretty dubious stuff. And mostly, they’ve all let her – because with Buffy gone, she’s definitely the most powerful weapon they’ve got.

Tara has been getting worried.

And the person who Willow hates, more than anything in the world? Faith. Faith, that horrible horrible person who stole her best friend, left them high and dry, and let Adam take over half of California. Faith, who is the reason Xander’s in a coma with only one leg left. Faith, who destroyed it all.

…then she gets a phonecall. From Faith.

Dawn, if you remember, has been kidnapped – and Faith will do anything to protect Dawn. Even calling Willow and (somehow) convincing her to help.

It’s a hard sell. But Dawn is technically an innocent, and is kind of on the good side, and the stormy, argumentative phonecall ends with Willow hanging up the phone and saying to Tara:
“I think I just agreed to help my worst enemy live happily ever after.”

And off goes Book Three, on a wild ride to save Dawn, stop Glory, find Buffy, prevent Willow from going off the edge, and somehow save the world…

I just wish I’d been able to actually write the thing.

I’ll leave you with one last bit. The story, you see, would be mainly a single POV per book (Faith in Faith, Dawn in Hope, and Willow in Charity) – but parts of it would have a separate narrator: a Watcher, looking back on the whole thing.

This is how the story begins:

The first-time reader, coming to this story without a great deal of knowledge concerning the context, will probably reach a few firm conclusions quite rapidly.
One of those conclusions being that it is all the Council’s fault.

“Ah,” the reader will think. “Clearly, if the Council would simply return the Slayer to Sunnydale, rather than pompously refusing to listen, the situation would have resolved itself by now, and Adam’s army would not be running amok. The Council are to blame.”

This viewpoint – while understandable – is incorrect. It is not our fault.

In fact, we would have been happy to assist Mr Giles, and to determine whether we had the incorrect Slayer in our custody… if we’d been able to locate her.

We are not barbarians, nor fools, and ensuring that Miss Summers continued to guard the Hellmouth was certainly important, even if she did continue to ignore our counsel. Had we been able, our help would have been provided.

As it was, Miss Lehane had vanished, the retrieval team was denying all knowledge, the paperwork was incomprehensible, the department was in chaos, and the whole sorry mess was laid at my door.

Or, more precisely, laid on my desk. All the files, everything we’d been able to determine, was given to me to sort out as best I could.

Whether I was expected to stop Mr Giles’ constant badgering, or produce the Slayer from the nearest filing cabinet, or simply wave my arms and create a Utopia out of thin air, I’m not sure. But I did my best with what I had – as did we all.

Please – do not blame us. This was not our fault.

Questions? Comments?


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