StephenT (stormwreath) wrote,

(Meta) Director's Commentary on 'One Day In The Life Of Buffy Summers'

Recently, I wrote the fic 'One Day In The Life of Buffy Summers' in which Buffy wakes up one morning to discover she's changed sex overnight. This was a follow-up to a discussion post talking about genderswap fics in general, here. Between them the story and the meta sparked off a lot of comment and discussion, so I thought there'd be some interest in a director's commentary explaining the background to my fic.

Plus I just enjoy writing director's commentaries. :-)

Note: I've used a @ symbol to show where text has been omitted from the original story in the interests of brevity and word-count. My commentary is in blue.

One Day In The Life Of Buffy Summers

>> My original working title for this fic was "Metamorphosis", but I decided that too many Kafka references would be going too far, especially since this story doesn't end with Buffy starving to death in her bedroom. So I went with an Alexander Solzhenitsyn reference instead. :-) 

>> I liked the idea of a very mundane title - which is also mirrored in the equally mundane chapter titles. After all, Buffy is having a very weird experience - but she's also just going about her daily routine, and the point of the story, such as it is, is simply to show what it would be like for her if she suddenly turned male.

Chapter 1: In which Buffy wakes up

As Buffy Summers awoke one morning from uneasy dreams, she found herself transformed in her bed into a man.

>> As at least two of my readers noticed straight away, the opening line is modelled on the first line of Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis: "As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a monstrous vermin." I'm not meaning to imply that men are monstrous vermin, I hasten to add. :-)

>> This wasn't my original opening line, but I knew straight away that I didn't want to waste a lot of storytelling time explaining how Buffy was transformed, and leading up to it. So after a while I thought "Why not just have her wake up one morning and discover she turned male overnight?" So we jump straight into the action without pausing for introductions or exposition, much in the style of Joss Whedon in Season 8. That also means that the mystery and suspense of the plot comes from wondering how it all happened, which I reveal in stages as the fic goes on. Once I had my concept, copying Kafka came naturally.

@The buzzing of her alarm clock woke her again. She shot out her hand to turn it off, and recoiled in pain as her knuckles bashed into it and sent it crashing to the ground. Ow. What on earth? Her arm seemed somehow longer than normal.

>> Male!Buffy is now taller, and her limbs are correspondingly longer. But she's used to judging distances with her shorter female arms, so she overshoots. However, being the Slayer means she only makes this mistake once.

@So she gingerly pulled up the sheet and peeked down the length of her body. No boobs restricted her view. Pulling open the neck of her baggy PJs revealed two tiny, shrunken nipples almost lost in curls of golden fuzz.

>> I originally wrote "blocked" her view, decided that didn't reflect reality and changed it to "restricted". I was since informed that even that probably overstates the case. :-)

>> Is Buffy a natural blonde? I've gone both ways with this in the past, but lean towards the answer "Yes, but naturally she's a fairly dark blonde and after Season 1 she started using bleach to lighten her hair more."

She stifled a shriek, let go of her nightwear as if it burned her and pulled the blanket right up over her eyes, which she closed tightly.

>> I loved the idea that Buffy's immediate reaction would be to pull the blanket over her head.

@"Leave me alone!" She was shocked at how deep her voice sounded.

>> Some people may speculate that I had a mental checklist of male attributes in my mind as I was writing this, and at this point I ticked "deeper voice" off the list and went on. They'd be entirely correct.

@And before Buffy knew what was happening her bedroom door was opening.

>> Personally I think it would be really rude to barge in like this - you'll notice that in a later chapter Buffy waits until Willow replies before entering her room. But Dawn is worried about Buffy, and also is her sister so has less respect for her privacy. :-)

@Her brain was working properly now though, and she began to think through the possible causes for her affliction. This was obviously a spell of some kind... or a curse.

>> The fundamental concept behind this fic is that this sort of thing is almost routine for the Scoobies. Potentially distressing and confusing, yes, but not exactly unheard of. "Buffy's a man. Must be Tuesday."

@Had some witch's spell gone wrong...?

Twenty seconds later Buffy was marching down the corridor and throwing open the door of Willow's room

>> Buffy has jumped to the hardly unreasonable conclusion that if a magic spell has gone wrong, Willow would be the first person to talk to. Remember, this is only a few weeks after 'Same Time, Same Place'.

@Her friend's tousled head lifted from the pillow, she opened bleary eyes and focussed them in Buffy's direction...

>> Buffy just assured Dawn that she wasn't hung over. Willow, on the other hand, most definitely is hung over. She and Buffy were out drinking last night and Willow doesn't have a Slayer's constitution.

@...Then shrieked and jerked upright in the bed, pulling the bedclothes defensively around her.

>> Wouldn't you if a strange man just burst into your bedroom and woke you up?

@"G-get out of my room or I'll call Buffy! She's the Slayer, she'll..."

>> Early Season 7 Willow is insecure and reluctant to use her magic, which is why she's threatening to call Buffy rather than blast the intruder with a spell.

@"What? Uh, no you're not. Buffy's a girl."

"Yeah. I used to think so too.

>> I liked this exchange.

@As they were speaking Willow threw back the covers and was now advancing towards Buffy, a look of frank curiosity and even fascination shining in her eyes. She walked a complete circle around the Slayer, who felt distinctly uncomfortable under the scrutiny.

>> As I said before: all the Scoobies are pretty much used to this sort of thing happening now.

@You're the first man to see me in my night-things in about three years."

>> She's thinking "since Oz left" there, although technically Xander and Giles probably saw her in pyjamas in 'Goodbye Iowa', also in S4.

@taking in her friend's really rather cute nightie, the long sweep of her legs below it, the plunging neckline, the light dusting of freckles on her chest that drew her eyes enticingly downwards towards swelling curves; and as Willow leant forward slightly to peer more closely at her friend's mysterious tranformation, Buffy's eyes became fixed on the slight jiggle of her boobs, the way her nightie fell open for one tantalising moment at the neck to reveal them; and a warm flush spread up through her, and then...

>> The idea here, of course, is "show, not tell". Buffy is getting sexually aroused by Willow but doesn't actually recognise that's what is happening to her, because the concept is so foreign - bearing in mind that she's known Willow for seven years and never felt this way about her before. That we know of.
Rather than a flat statement "Buffy became turned on by looking at Willow in her current state of déshabille", therefore, I wanted to show how it seemed from Buffy's point of view.

>> There's probably an interesting discussion to be had about male and female responses to visual stimulation like this; since for (gynophile) men it's often as simple as /see breasts::become horny/ while for women I've heard conflicting acounts, but the majority opinion seems to be "it's more complicated and subtle than that and involves feelings and expectations and so forth, not just looking at body parts." But I didn't raise such issues in the fic much since it felt too much of a minefield.

"Oh my God, it's moving!" She shrieked, springing back bodily in her alarm."It's come alive!"

>> A penis becoming erect will not only "uncurl", so to speak, but slide across the material of the clothing surrounding it. Add to that the extra sensitivity caused by increased bloodflow and it can feel like a living thing moving around. (/TMI) This, of course, comes as a huge shock to Buffy.

@ Willow followed her gesture, then burst out in an absolutely helpless fit of giggles.

>> An all too common female reaction, so I'm told. :-)

@But there's no denying that something just made you horny." She looked at Buffy impishly. "So was it me?"

>> We'll come back to this moment in the final scene of the fic. Willow is clearly rather pleased and flattered by the idea that Buffy is turned on by looking at her - although at this stage she wouldn't dream of doing anything about it. In fact, she's so firmly convinced that Buffy could never feel that way about her unless she were under a spell, that it gives her the idea that Buffy has become a heterosexual man.

"It can't be! You're my best friend. As in, "platonic" friend.

>> Buffy is still in denial; she knows she's never been sexually attracted to Willow, so the fact that looking at her in a skimpy nightie gives her a raging erection must have some other explanation.

"Nature versus nurture, of course! See, you've spent your entire life as a straight woman so if the focus of your sexuality is down to your upbringing and social conditioning, you'd still be attracted to men now, right? Because nothing in your past has changed. But if it's something physical from your genes that determines your sexuality, well then, your brain - which used to be female and heterosexual, therefore man-attracted - has obviously just become male, but still heterosexual and as such female-attracted. Like reversing the polarity."

>> Willow is a science geek, with a personal interest in questions of human sexuality. It shows. :-) Most genderswap fics have the person's body change, but their mind remains exactly the same. However, I wanted to depict Buffy having not only the body, but the brain and the hormones of a man... only with her own memories and 22 years of socialisation as a female behind her. So instead of being a heterosexual woman with a small, latent bi-curious streak, she's now become a heterosexual man with a small, latent bi-curious streak.

When Buffy still looked puzzled, she clarified, "You're still straight, but now you like girls instead of guys." 

>> That clarification, of course, was for the benefit of the readers as well as Buffy, if they couldn't follow the Willow-babble.

Then Willow pouted, and added, "Which is just my luck, seeing as how your body is now male. Mutter mutter grumble."

>> It's not the first time that Willow has actually said "grumble" when she's pretending to be annoyed.

>> My basic assumption here is that Willow has pretty much always been sexually attracted to Buffy, at least in a fairly abstract way: "If I weren't completely in love with someone else, and if Buffy had even a single lesbian instinct in her body, then maybe, just maybe..." But as far as Willow is concerned, she's convinced that Buffy is totally straight and would never reciprocate her feelings; and Willow would do nothing to jeopardise their friendship. However, at least by Season 7 I think the two of them are relaxed and comfortable enough with each other that they can make jokes like that one.

>> You may also have noticed that I've cunningly set this fic during the one time period in the show after Willow discovered she's gay when she's actually single and unattached. :-) (And yet enough time has passed since Tara's death - about eight months - that she's over the worst of the grief and ready to move on.)

@Then she froze in a fresh burst of horror as Willow's laughing voice called out behind her, "Don't forget to put the seat down again after you've finished!"

>> Surely everybody knows about the "putting the toilet seat down" controversy? Poor Buffy; her friend is not taking her condition at all seriously.

Chapter Two

@But there were certain activities where ignoring the new shape of her body was not actually possible.

>> As I remarked in the comments to the original post, there are some subjects you don't normally talk about in fic... but when you're writing genderswap, then you really can't avoid them. I did re-write this section of the story a couple of times, trying to get the amount of detail at the right level to be funny and interesting rather than embarrassing.

@So at last she walked back over, gingerly reached out her hand and lifted the toilet seat a little way... hesitated, then firmly swung it to the upright position.

>> There's actually an interesting point here about social conditioning. Buffy is assuming that as a man, she now must pee standing up, when in fact there's - obviously - no actual physical requirement to do that. Several of the women who commented on the fic likewise mentioned "peeing standing up" as being pretty much the quintessential male activity in their eyes. :-)

@men's pants had a flyhole at the front. Her pyjamas didn't.

>> *Ticks another item off the checklist* :-)

@Which, of course, was when she actually saw it for the first time. Her - she didn't really want to say the word, even in the privacy of her own mind. Her thing. At least it wasn't erect any longer; it just kind of dangled there, all limp and ugly.

>> Buffy's reaction to the first sight of her brand new penis was re-written slightly in the light of the comments made to Chapter One. :-) 

@She just needed to get a grip.

>> Yes I know, cheesy innuendo alert.

@and Spike locked up in the basement, but don't think about him

>> As I explained in the original comments, I moved Spike out of Xander's closet into Buffy's basement a little earlier than he went in canon, so she could later go and borrow some clothes from him. Buffy's feelings for Spike are currently in the conflicted stage; she's still processing the fact of his new soul and isn't quite ready to be comfortable with him again.

@And so before her courage could fail her again, she reached out and took firm hold of her... her.. her.. (say it!) her dick.

>> I confess to re-using that particular form of words from an earlier fic, where Buffy was likewise reluctant to actually say the word to herself (although in that fic it was "pussy", not "dick", that she wasn't saying.) Also, I'm going with my usual principle that the words I use to describe body parts are the ones the main protagonist character herself would use, rather than necessarily the words I'd use myself in conversation.

>> Going to the toilet... check. Masturbation... check.

>> Because the fic is from Buffy's point of view, and she still thinks of herself as a woman who's temporarily under a spell, I'm still using female pronouns to describe her. Even when it leads to strangeness like "her dick".

@she felt a series of powerful clench-and-release sensations deep down, like normal orgasmic contractions but somehow more focussed and sharply defined. And then she collapsed back limp into the water, eyes closed and barely able to move a single muscle.

>> Trying to describe how a male orgasm would feel from the perspective of someone who's only ever had the female kind before is, of course, pure guesswork. Assuming there actually are any differences. Mind you, as a man Buffy now has a refractory period, which she's never had before.

@ Oh God. What if she became pregnant?

>> Well, wouldn't you be concerned too?

@Curiosity overcoming revulsion, she peered over into the bath and swept the suds away with her hand, looking to see if she could spot any trace of her recent activity in the water. She couldn't.

>> I suspect that some women in this situation would be freaked out and disgusted, some would just not be interested, and others would be really fascinated to see what their own sperm looked like. Given Buffy's random curiosity about the strangest things, and her general lack of squeamishness, I suspect she'd fall into category three.

@The person who stared back at her in the mirror seemed almost a stranger, but not quite.

>> You'll note that several people in the story don't recognise Buffy immediately.

@trim with well-defined muscles - if a little more thin and bony than she really liked her men.

>> Yes, that's a meta-comment on Sarah Michelle Gellar's figure in Season 7. :-)

Buffy looked with approval and then wondered why she didn't feel any twinge of lust.

>> It still hasn't sunk in properly that she's now a heterosexual man.

@The flatness of her chest didn't really bother her that much; but she still thought those tiny nipples were creepy.

>> Interestingly, a few women commented on the original fic that "not having boobs any more" would be the oddest part of the experience if it happened to them. I actually think Buffy not caring much about that but being freaked out by her smaller nipples is an interesting variation.

@Oh great. Thanks a lot, universe. First you hand me the small boobs, and now the little dick?

>> Possibly not a concidence, given how the magic worked. :-)

@Then it clicked; she wasn't circumcised.

>> Apparently, 79% of American men are circumcised - so I included Riley and Parker in this category - but only 16% of British men are (which is why I assumed Spike isn't - especially given that the 16% would include Jews and Muslims for whom this is a religious requirement, and I assume William Pratt fell into neither of those categories).

@And she also discovered that as a man, she was tall enough that the bathroom sink came to her thighs instead of her waist.

>> Hopefully I don't have to explain that line...

Ch. 3: In which Buffy has breakfast

When she finally emerged from the bathroom, she peered cautiously around the door, half-scared that Willow would be standing there with a big grin chanting "I know what you're do-ing!"

>> Willow is more subtle than that. :-) Are other cultures familiar with that chant, or is it an English thing?

Her underwear drawer was open and she was already putting her arms through the straps of her bra before she realised the pointlessness of that garment.
>> We've all done things on autopilot before realising we didn't mean to do them, haven't we?

She dropped it back and gazed dubiously at her knickers. She liked them small and sexy, filmy little wisps of material

>> "Yes, it was in Buffy's underwear drawer. She has nice things....Well, I didn't take 'em, but there were thongs and regular underpants." - Andrew, 'First Date'

@for the moment she'd have to go commando...  which, she thought, was a stupid expression. She'd shared a bed with Riley for a year and he'd never dream of not putting his underwear on every morning. She'd even asked him once if there was some special rule about not wearing underpants in the Marines, and he'd assured her there wasn't.
>> I can just hear SMG's voice as Buffy asks that. "Why do they call it 'going commando' anyway? Is there a rule in the Marines that you can't wear underpants?" And Riley would smile tolerantly and shake his head. Of course, my flist went away and did research on the actual origin of the expression. :-)

@Skirts were out of the question.
>> Because she's a man now and men don't wear skirts, apparently.

@But none of her shoes fitted anymore. Buffy almost screamed in frustration
>> She can cope with all the other changes, but being deprived of her shoes? For Buffy, that's the definition of Hell.

@"Uh-huh." Buffy looked at her repressively, but felt a grin lift the corner of her mouth. "Get them back for me and you can perv over them all you like as far as I'm concerned. " Then, as a hasty afterthought, "Tastefully and discreetly and from a safe distance, of course."

"Don't I always? Uh, don't answer that.

>> Another example of what I mentioned before; by S7 Buffy and Willow I think are comfortable enough with each other's sexuality to be able to joke about things like this. I'm also assuming that Willow does occasionally look at Buffy that way - Buffy being hot and Willow being not blind - and Buffy's opinion is more or less "I don't mind, but I don't want to know about it".

@She suited actions to words, finished the bowl quickly, and was then curious to discover she still felt hungry. So she filled a second bowl and ate that up just as fast.

>> Possibly a slight exaggeration on the difference between male and female appetites here. :-)

@"Hey, if it were me, don't you think I'd have been doing exactly the same? I'm actually dying to ask you all about what it's like, but I thought we'd better save that until after I've turned you back."

>> Willow being considerate and helpful, and also wanting to "learn stuff".

@What do you normally do on a Saturday? Watch cartoons. Fight evil. Go to the mall."

>> That's an echo of "date and shop and hang out and go to school and save the world from unspeakable demons. You know, I wanna do girlie stuff!"

@Why not go buy some proper man clothes?"

>> There's a slight problem with the fic here, in that if Buffy is hoping this is only going to be temporary why would she waste money on clothes she'll only wear once? Still, the retail therapy probably helps her calm down, so it's good from that point of view. I assume the jeans she bought would be passed on to Spike or Xander afterwards.

@Buffy's instinctive rejection of that idea died in her throat as the words "taller than him" sank in. 

>> Winding up Spike can still make Buffy happy. 

Ch.4 - in which Buffy borrows some clothes

"Spike! Where are you? I need to borrow some of your clothes... and also look down on you, in the literal sense! Spike?"

>> This is Buffy in her mischevious mode, as demonstrated in 'Gone'. "In the literal sense", of course, is a reference to the fact that she's now taller than him.

@"Who do you think I am? What happened to that creepy vampire smelling thing of yours? I'm Buffy."

>> Buffy's right, in that Spike - as a vampire - is one person who should have had no trouble at all recognising her in her new shape. Except that he leaps (literally) to the wrong conclusion.

@Buffy reacted with pure Slayer instinct, dodging to one side and whipping out her arm to slam him into the nearest wall. He rebounded with a yell of pain and anger,

>> Confession time: at first I had Spike try to hit Buffy then scream in pain as the chip fired, which is how he would realise that she wasn't a shapechanging demon after all. Then I remembered that this is Season 7 and the chip hasn't worked on Buffy in over a year. Still, it's all good as I got to write this fight scene instead; and Spike's line about recognising the way Buffy beat him up went down well with a lot of readers.

@"Shapechanging demon. Here to take the Slayer's form, except you forgot one little detail."

>> I'm imagining Spike saying that in the same voice he used to describe the demon "making like Yma Sumac" in 'OMWF'. This whole conversation was fun to right; snarkiness must be my forté. :-)

@"Depends on the vampire, pet. Some of us are bigger poofs than others, mentioning no names

>> We all know which particular "big poof" he's referring to here, don't we? :-)

@All she saw was the sympathetic face of a friend (and when the hell did Spike move into that category?).

>> I like that line for the way it sums up Buffy's mid-season-7 feelings about Spike.

@How could Spike still turn her on even when she was a straight man? Did that make her.... what? Bi-curious? And when she was a woman again, would she still be... no. Of course not; how ridiculous!

>> Buffy hasn't read the comics so she doesn't know about Satsu yet. :-)

@She caught them and held them gingerly.

"Are these clean?"

>> So how many people here would be willing to wear another man's underpants, even if they were clean and you had no alternatives? Would it make a difference if they were James Marsters' underpants?

@"Got a pair of old trainers here

>> Americans would call them sneakers.

@Do you shave? Vampires, I mean?"

"Not as a rule, no. Our hair tends to revert to however it was when we died, so unless you had a beard when you were turned, you never need to shave. Be difficult without a reflection, anyway."

>> Yes, this was my opportunity to slip in my personal bit of fanon on how vampire hair growth really works. I originally posted this in a discussion on Angel:After the Fall but it seemed appropriate here too, put into Buffy and Spike's words.

>> Incidentally, I shave perfectly well each morning without looking in a mirror (using an electric razor) but Spike's probably more used to cut-throat razors, and seeing what you're doing is probably more useful there.

@"But I had a dream once - a Slayer dream, one of the true ones. It was about Angel, in the past, and he had a moustache. How was that possible?"

>> That's from 'Amends', and this line is me hanging a lantern on the one problem with my wonderful Vampire Hair Growth Theorum.

@"Sorry, pet. Last time I needed to shave, I went to a barber shop in Marylebone and the barber did it for me with a straight razor for three ha'pennies."

"I... think I understood that.
>> It's the words 'Marylebone' and 'three ha'pennies' that she's having trouble with.

Ch.5 - In which Buffy goes shopping

She'd shaved; the idea of touching her face with the same razor she used on her legs and, um, other bits didn't really appeal, so she raided Dawn's supply for a new one.

>> This passage was the result of me asking my flist for advice on women and leg-shaving, since I was unsure whether Dawn at 16 would be shaving her legs (I was assured she almost certainly would be) and whether Buffy would be uncomfortable with the idea of her baby sister being old enough to do that (the consensus was probably not) and what she'd be using to do it - safety razor, electric razor, whatever.

Her sister wouldn't mind.

>> This, of course, is wishful thinking on Buffy's part.

(And her female houseguest had apparently given up shaving her legs after almost ending the world then joining a coven last year. Buffy hadn't liked to press the matter with her to find out exactly why, but it meant she couldn't borrow her supplies.)

>> This came out of the same discussion. The idea is that Willow (the 'houseguest' in question, in case that was unclear) stopped shaving her legs for the same reason she started wearing drab and conventional clothes and wearing her hair long, as compared to her almost-radioactive self-confidence fashionwise in season 6. She's withdrawn and insecure and greving and uninterested in a relationship with anyone; and there may also be an element of embracing the Wiccan religion and its emphasis on nature and being natural.

@Hardly anyone noticed her; if anything, people paid her even less attention than they used to when she was a woman. She wasn't sure whether to be pleased or insulted at that.

>> The 'male gaze: a force of evil? Discuss.

Being taller was great, though. She could actually reach the higher shelves without stretching! And as she made her way through the crowd of Saturday-morning shoppers clustering around the main aisle, she realised that she could see right to the other side of the crowd. Seriously!

>> A friend of mine was once trying to reach something on the top shelf in my kitchen, failing, and complaining at me for putting it in such a stupid place. I reached over and got it for her. She looked at me, blinked, and said "Oh, I forgot you were tall."

@Anya. It was Anya doing her own shopping, and Buffy fought the sudden urge to crouch down and hide. Not that she didn't like Anya, honestly; it was just... how could she begin to explain what had happened?

>> This takes place not too long after 'Selfless' when Buffy tried to kill Anya, just to put it in context. I'm also going with the idea that for Buffy (and Willow), Anya will always be "Xander's (ex-)girlfriend" rather than fully one of the group.

@and then a bubble of glee formed in her heart and brought a wicked grin to her face. Deliberately, she walked over towards Anya, casting her a glance as she passed, and began looking at a display of caps and sunglasses on the rack next to her.

>> Again, this is Buffy's classic reaction to something unusual happening to her; at least part of her wants to have fun with it, and maybe use it to play jokes on people. See 'Earshot', 'Gone', etc.

@No! Bad Buffy! That would have been way too weird and awkward, and unfair to Anya, and possibly unfair to Xander too (Buffy was still a bit hazy on that part).
>> Buffy's not sure if Xander and Anya's relationship is off again or on again at the moment.

@So clutching the jeans she'd picked out she dashed into the changing room...

...And was met by a barrage of shocked gasps and mutters and frowns of disapproval. Blushing and stammering an apology, she backed out and headed into the men's changing room instead.

>> Again, she's acting out of habit. I'm not sure quite how realistic this is - I mean, charging into the changing room in many shops would only reveal lots of little curtained alcoves, hardly something shocking. But I've been told by female friends that at least in Britain, sometimes the women's changing room in a clothes shop is just one big room - and there would be half-dressed people around to get shocked by male!Buffy barging in. So assume it's like that. :-)

@Now she studied the labels... and the colour drained from her face. 28? 30? 32? She couldn't wear a size 32! This was horrible, a nightmare! No human should ever have to wear clothing whose size started with the number 3!

>> Again I had to research this, as US women's clothing sizes are a closed book to me. I understand that Buffy would normally buy clothes in - depending on whom I asked - about a size 2; while men's jeans have a waist measurement in inches. (When I was Buffy's age I could fit into a 32 or squeeze into a 30; sadly no longer...)

@She trembled so hard she dropped the jeans and sat down on the bench with a thump, tears blinding her. It was too much. She wanted to crawl into a hole and pull the world in over her. It was too much.

>> The idea here is that, rather like an otherwise innocuous event can act as a trigger for a PTSD episode, seeing the label on the jeans has brought out all the pent-up stress and tension Buffy's been bottling up all day - hence her extreme reaction.

@gripped the material firmly in one hand then ripped the label clean off with the other. Then stomped it underfoot for good measure.

>> Slayer strength: not just for fighting vampires.

@Then gathering up the scattered clothes and fixing a smile on her face she walked out of the cubicle - and only someone who knew her extremely well would ever have suspected there'd been anything the matter with her.

>> She's a hero, you see.

@"Pfft. You know I don't have my vengeance powers any more. And turning you into a man doesn't seem like much of a punishment anyway. You're very nicely shaped and extremely sexy."

>> Anya had once heard of subtlety but decided she wanted nothing to do with it. This was pretty much the first time I've ever written Anya, so I borrowed a lot of her actual dialogue from the show rather than trying to extemporise her voice.

@"What?! No way! Never way! A complete absence of way!"

>> I thought this sounded very Buffyesque as soon as I thought of it.

@Then squeaked in horror as the rack tilted in her hand and all the clothing slid slowly and gracefully out onto the floor.

>> Slapstick humour is something that often gets neglected in fic, I think, but BtVS actually had quite a lot of it. On the other hand, something the show rarely did either was show Buffy or the other superstrong characters using their abilities in non-combat situations. The only example I can think of offhand was Harmony lifting a chest of drawers with one hand to retrieve her clothing from under it. I suspect that setting up the special effects for a stunt like that wasn't considered worth the money.


Continue on to Part Two - chapters 6 - 10.
Tags: buffy, commentary, meta
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