ETA: Since part one apparently isn't showing up on people's friends lists, here is a link to it.
Ch. 6 - in which Buffy has lunch
@"If she's just going to make excuses to avoid going out with me, then she can keep her stupid..."
>> That's perhaps a more Season 6-Dawn attitude but it seemed appropriate for the situation.
"Dawnie, no! It's not like that at all. There is something wrong with your sister. It's just not... the normal kind of wrong."
"That's not news.
>> Whereas being-snarky-about-Buffy Dawn is perfectly appropriate at any time. :-)
@"God, is that all? I thought you might have become some scaley demon or a giant insect or something. So you're a man. Big deal. What's for lunch?"
>> And again, Buffy's friends and family take all this completely in their stride. Dawn's priorities here are clear: lunch is more important than some silly spell on Buffy. Incidentally, the "giant insect" bit was another call-back to Kafka.. and Dawn's probably the only one of the Scoobies who'd actually get the reference.
@I've bought some beef and some potatoes; I fancy a fry-up."
"For lunch? Buffy, what's gotten into you?"
>> I think it's actually a Joss quote that being a man involves "eating of the beef". As we'll see later, Dawn's idea of lunch involves a girly little salad. :-) (Stereotyping? Me?!)
>> I forced myself to use American grammar in that sentence, seeing as how it's direct speech by an American character. :-)
@"Uh, Dawnie, card-carrying lesbian feminist here
>> If Buffy were more herself at the moment, she'd probably be asking Willow if she really carries a card for that, and can she see it?
"So? They're both men now, aren't they? Hey, maybe they could do that Greek wrestling stuff together. Y'know, with oil?"
>> Dawn really was made out of Buffy; they share the same kinds of sexual fantasies about men.
"Dawn! Shut up, you unnatural child!" Buffy tried hard to suppress the image her sister just conjured in her mind. She couldn't quite manage it. "There'll be no wrestling and definitely no oil of any kind!
>> Obvously, that's a reference to 'Chosen'. It seems that once she was a heterosexual woman again Buffy remembered that concept with more fondness.
@ "Of course!" She looked at the screen again... and suddenly her face seemed to crumple. All the light drained out of her eyes... and then without another word she got up and bolted out of the room.
>> She's just realised that it was her fault after all.
Buffy stared after her, then turned to look at Dawn. Dawn stared back at her, equally dumbfounded - then both sisters got up at once and rushed over to look at Willow's computer. The screen was filled with windows, at least four tabs open on her browser and three separate document files open with what looked like cut-and-pasted text and images. Buffy felt nervous even looking at it, but Dawn slid into the chair in front of her and began confidently clicking on the various windows.
>> Willow is researching dozens of spell-books, both online and from her own digitised collection, and cutting-and-pasting anything that seems relevant into a separate file. Notice that Dawn is much more comfortable around computers than Buffy.
Then she began reading out loud:
"O - uh, insert goddess name here - I call on you;
I humbly ask your will be done.
Hear my request, a simple change;
Create a daughter from a son."
>> That's the same spell that Willow was reciting in 'Him', if you didn't recognise it. Dawn deliberately missed out the name 'Hecate' just in case reading it out loud triggered the spell.
"Willow, it's me. What's the matter? Can I come in?"
>> Originally this chapter included the next scene as well, but that left Chapter 7 way too short so I broke on a cliff-hanger instead.
Ch.7 - in which Buffy discovers some things
Buffy knocked again, and was about to give up when she heard a faint, barely audible "Yeah?" from inside the room.
>> Unlike her sister Buffy doesn't just barge in. (Of course, if it were Dawn's room she probably would barge in...)
@"Is there trouble? Are we in danger?"
>> Willow thinks that her uncontrollable use of magic is making her a danger to her friends again.
@Was it, uh, one of those subconscious magic spells, like before when none of us could see you?"
>> Reference to 'Same Time, Same Place'.
"Do you remember a couple of weeks ago, that friend of Dawnie's? The guy with the jacket, what was his name...?"
>> Reference to 'Him'.
@"Apparently that doesn't matter. I invoked Hecate. And I even told Xan at the time that she hates being interrupted like that! She obviously decided to take it out on you instead, and it's all my fault."
>> I worked this out as the 'solution' to how Buffy became a man part way through writing the story. I think it worked quite well. Originally I was going to be more elaborate, and have Buffy walk through the room where Willow originally cast the spell and get zapped by the unfocussed magical energy still floating around, but dropped that idea at about the time I decided to just have her wake up as the opposite sex. It's still possible that Hecate chose Buffy because she was physically the closest to where the spell was cast, or because this would cause most trouble for Willow.
@"It wasn't your fault. You were under a spell yourself. All three of you were: you, Dawn, even Anya.
>> Yes, Buffy is still in denial that the spell affected her too.
@"Yes I am, Buff. I have to be, always and everywhere. The magic's in me, and if I don't learn to control it, keep it safe... it's better if I were dead."
"No!" Buffy's denial was firm, but then she cast around worriedly for what to say next.
>> I once said that it's a rule that every post-'Grave' fic I write with Willow in it has to include a scene where she agonises over her fall into darkness. Happily I've not stuck with that - it would get tedious, given how many of my fics are about her - but it's still a major part of her character.
>> Buffy instinctively and violently rejects the idea that Willow would be better off dead, but then has to try and think of a convincing reason to support her immediate reaction.
@She sat up straight, closed her eyes and extended both arms, palms outwards.
"...Let the spell be ended!"
>> That's from 'The Replacement', but Willow implied there that's it's a common way of ending 'unnatural transformation' magics. It seems logical that it's the first thing anyone would try - although presumably you have to know what the specific spell you're trying to end was for it to work. Having just re-watched Season 2, incidentally, I realise I should also have had her trying "Hecate, I hereby licence thee to depart."
@Willow looked stricken, and Buffy was more than half afraid she'd retreat back into her shell again at the disappointment. But then she frowned, and Buffy could practically hear the cogs whirring in her brain.
>> Thankfully, Willow now sees this as an intellectual challenge, and she's not going to let it beat her.
@So she sat restlessly on the settee next to Dawn for a while trying to watch a movie - and enduring Dawn's curious staring. When her sister started trying to poke her in the chest in fascination, Buffy gave up and made her way down to the basement instead.
>> Dawn reacted in a similar way when Willow changed into a man in 'The Killer In Me'.
She'd planned to take out some of her nervous energy on the punchbag down there - and she actually didn't mean Spike by that, but the real one.
>> That was me writing "the punchbag", and only then realising some people might assume I was referring to Spike. :-)
@He'd never fought a male Slayer before, he said, and now he was curious to try it.
>> "Now" he was curious, because earlier he'd said he didn't want to fight her as a man.
@First things first: she didn't seem to be any stronger than before after all. Well, no, actually that wasn't quite true. When she focussed her mind, let it flow with the rhythms of the combat around her, then her strength seemed to be exactly the same as always.
>> The idea that as a man, Buffy would become stronger seemed to me to completely contradict the basic female empowerment message of the show... but then I had to think of a way to rationalise my instinctive rejection of the idea. What I came up with is that the Slayer strength, being supernatural in origin, replaces her normal strength rather than adding to it. That means that all Slayers are equally strong, whether they're tiny size-0 waifs or Soviet Olympic weightlifters.
>>But why, in that case, does Buffy spend so much time working out and training? Partly because fighting is about reactions and muscle memory rather than just physical strength - but also, I'm assuming, because the Slayer strength is not "always on". After all, Buffy can be quite clumsy at times and yet she doesn't go around accidentally knocking holes in walls and crushing things in her hands. Instead, it's something she can draw on when she needs it and focusses on it - which also helps to explain why she gets stronger when she's angry or really, really determined and weaker when she loses confidence.
But that one time, Spike had hit her from behind when she'd relaxed for a moment and let her guard down, and she'd still managed to catch his hand and hurl him around.
>> And here, Buffy was not focussed on the fight in that moment so her strength when Spike hit her was simply her normal human strength, not her Slayer strength. That's another reason why she needs to work out.
@She'd felt angry about what he'd done too, enough to shock her a little. They were only sparring, not fighting to the death - but when he scored that low blow, she'd wanted to mash his face to pulp. For revenge, to prove he could never get the better of her.
>> Buffy isn't used to having her brain soaked in testosterone all the time.
@Spike looked at her speculatively, then down at the ground again, and she wondered what was on his mind.
>> Hot m/m Spuffy action, possibly.
@ God, she'd not even thought about Faith in years, so why now?
>> Because her subconscious is shying away from the homoerotic implications of Spike and seeking refuge in safer territory. And possibly because Buffy has had pent-up unrequited lust for Faith burning in her chest all these years, though I'm not entirely convinced on that score.
@In fact, when Buffy came back upstairs, she found her in the middle of trying to get rid of Dawn.
>> For some reason I feel the need to qualify that by adding "but not by feeding her body into the garbage disposal".
@"Like she ever does... anyway, shouldn't we be calling him my brother now?"
Willow looked thoughtful for a moment, then heard Buffy's strangled gasp of outrage from the doorway, looked up, met her eyes and smoothly changed what she was about to say.
"I, uh, think Buffy still identifies as a woman, so it's more respectful to acknowledge that and call her "she".
>> This exchange was added to the fic following some discussion in the comments to earlier chapters. Willow speaks for me in this.
@"Well, uh..." Willow thought desperately. "How about going to Xander's then? Uh, or maybe he could take you to the Bronze?"
>> I needed to get rid of Dawn and I also wanted to involve Xander in the fic somehow, so this was the result. I do think it's probably a little skeevy for a 16-year old girl and a 22-year old man to go to a nightclub together, but probably Dawn will spend the evening dancing while Xander sits to one side and keeps an eye on her.
"It's a live music night! I'm sure there's someone good playing; it's incredible how many famous indie groups pass through Sunnydale.
>> Yes, that's a breaking-the-fourth-wall kind of comment.
@"Xander? What are the odds?"
"Depends... any giant bug ladies in town lately?"
>> Can you work out which of those comments was said by Dawn and which by Willow? I can't :-) (I think the first was Dawn, the second Willow; though it works the other way around too).
@ Buffy intercepted and recaptured her favourite skirt, firmly overruling Dawn's argument that she "Didn't need it any more 'cause of the whole maleness thing." There was a brief outbreak of open warfare when Dawn discovered "disgusting man stubble" all over her razor, and Buffy had to promise to buy her some more. (Razors, not stubble.)
>> Another passage that was inspired by comments to earlier chapters. Also, Buffy is a slob for not cleaning her (/Dawn's) razor after she shaved.
@"Uh, when you hear this you'll definitely want to stay a man. And by the way, did I mention already that I'm really, really sorry?"
>> I love the different ways Willow keeps on repeating that she's sorry all through this conversation.
"You soon will be. Come on. Who do I have to fuck to get off this boat?"
>> That's a quote from 'Alien:Resurrection' where Ripley says it (and the reply is "I can get you off. Maybe not the boat..."). Buffy has clearly watched the film, which therefore exists in this version of the Buffyverse. (Unlike the version where my story 'We Just Declared War' takes place.) Which also leads to the possibility that at some point I'll have to have Buffy saying "Joss Whedon? Isn't he the guy who wrote 'Alien:Resurrection' and 'Toy Story'?"
Willow blinked in astonishment. "How did you know?"
>> It is, of course, a convention of genderswap fics that the final chapter involves sex.
@Willow didn't answer that directly, just blushed and flashed a smile that vanished as soon as it appeared.
>> I can perfectly picture Aly Hannigan doing that. I hope my readers could too.
@ I cast the spell on him to change his sex so I could go to bed with him, and so that was the objective of the spell, and when Hecate twisted it onto you it still had the same condition, so I can't break the spell until I've had sex, with you
>> As I said before, I'm quite pleased with how logically this all worked out. The idea that Willow has to have sex with Buffy to break the spell almost doesn't seem forced at all. ;-)
@"Buffy! Please don't make my decisions for me. You can turn me down, but you can't tell me not to even offer. I've chosen to do this and you don't have to if you don't wanna but I do."
>> There was some debate over how likely Willow's reactions were in the comments. so to quote myself from there:
>> 1. The fic is set shortly before Willow meets Kennedy; so yes, she's still in mourning for Tara, but over the worst of it and ready for something to come along and push her back into living her life.
>> 2. This is something they have to do, so she's going to make the best of it. Which is something Willow is really good at: it's resolve face, basically. She's actually having to steel herself to do this; she's not as relaxed as the front she's trying to put on for Buffy's benefit might suggest.
>> 3. On the other hand... this is something of an unreal, fantasy situation for her. She's curious, and tomorrow Buffy will (hopefully) be female again and the whole thing might as well never have happened. It's an excuse to act outside her normal behaviour.
>> 4. It's Buffy. Someone she's had a crush on ever since the cool new girl in school decided to hang out with *her* instead of with Cordelia. Sure, she's temporarily a man, but Willow can work around that.
@"How does that even work? What happened to Willow the gay woman?"
"She's still here. But I have had a boyfriend before, remember? I won't burst into flames if I see a naked man.
>> And the infamous "Is Willow bisexual or lesbian?" debate rears its head once again. I might have more to say on that in a separate post some time. But for the record - she's a lesbian. With...
@Willow blushed. "Um, curiosity?
>> Bi-curiosity, to be specific. I don't see why the phrase can't apply to gay people as easily as straight. Incidentally, I'm pleased with the expression "straight womanitude" in the same paragraph.
@Buffy had decided that decisive action was best.
>> Like I said before: she's a hero. :-)
@And that was weird because normally she'd have hardly noticed it but now it was the entire focus of her attention
>> Do (straight) women particularly notice if another woman's breast is accidentally pressed against them? I can honestly say it's a question I've never asked or heard discussed, so I had to assume...
@ the heat spreading through both their bodies, each to each
>> Very obscure, but there's a T S Eliot reference buried in there (about singing mermaids).
Chapter 9: In which Buffy goes to bed
@Uh, can we skip the rest of the talking and move to the kissing part now?"
>> She probably doesn't realise she's quoting Tara there, thankfully.
@It actually looked a bit intimidating even to her, and she felt Willow hesitate at the sight.
>> One of the signs that, as I mentioned before, Willow is doing her best to be enthusiastic about something she'd really rather not be doing. I'm also assuming that from Buffy's point of view, a penis looks a lot larger and more intimidating when it's sprouting out of your own body where there never used to be one, than if you're simply in bed with your boyfriend and looking at his.
@But Willow shook her head. "You sound like a man, Buffy
>> Because her voice is deeper, and so in the dark Willow would have a harder time reminding herself that the man she's in bed with is still Buffy.
@"Have sex. Think you've gotta come, 'causa me. Inside me, prob'ly. You wanna?" She giggled.
>> I hope I got across the fact that Willow is all breathless as she says that. :-) I mean, this is a very conversational sex scene all told, and I wanted to make sure people remember they're in bed together rather than sitting on the sofa chatting...
@"Contraception? I'm a guy now, remember? And I'm pretty sure you're not on the Pill."
>> I'll admit, it wasn't until I was halfway into writing this scene that I realised that with Buffy being a man now, they're going to need birth control. (Well probably. It's remotely possible that when Buffy changes back into a woman in the last chapter all her expended sperm will also change into ova. But that would be weird, and if you were Willow would you risk it?)
@"Right, so when was the last time I needed that stuff? I can go check to see if Riley left any condoms in my drawer, they'd only be about two years past their sell-by date..."
>> That being the last time Buffy needed contraceptives in her own sex life. Willow hasn't needed them for about a year longer than that.
>> And I have to say I don't know what the sell-by date on a condom would be... *Googles* Aha! So apparently the international standard ISO 4074 says they have to last five years when stored in a cool dry place, so actually any left over when Riley left should still be fine. Presumably Buffy didn't keep them, though, or maybe they got thrown out when she was dead.
@ "Actually, you know, spells to prevent pregnancy - or help it along - are pretty much the basics of witchcraft. Like, spellcasting 101.
>> That's traditional witchcraft she's talking about, and fertility in all its manfestations is obviously a big part of that.
@In fact, I think..." She bounced off the bed and ran over to her wardrobe, pulled a carved wooden box off the top. Inside were several chambers filled with different herbs, small vials and other less identifiable substances.
> A gift from the Coven. Or maybe it used to be Tara's. (Willow's own magical supplies got thrown out in mid-S6).
@Then Willow turned to Buffy with a mischievous grin, asking her to hold out her hand.
>> The grin is mischevious because she knows where the magical oil will need to be applied, and thinks it will be more fun if Buffy does it than if she does. I know Willow's imminent reference to this spell "working perfectly" made at least one reader nervous, but I'm really not planning a sequel in which Willow discovers she's having Buffy's baby. It's just that the spell worked without any hitches, and she sensed that.
@"You've just got the wrong end of the sti-, uh, the wrong end of the Willow."
>> I actually wrote "the wrong end of the- uh, of the Willow" first, then worried that people might not recognise the reference to the expression "wrong end of the stick" . Note the willow tree/wooden stick thing. It's a play on words.
@Willow responded eagerly to her touch, clearly loving the sensations of Buffy's searching fingers and lips and tongue. If Buffy sensed a certain lack of passion in Willow's own matching explorations of Buffy's body, she certainly couldn't fault her earnest desire to make sure her friend enjoyed herself just as much as she did.
>> Again with the insight into Willow's attitude to this situation. Also, note that Buffy really is doing her best to make sure Willow enjoys this.
@She'd been aware, in the general "things we know about each other without ever actually discussing them" kind of way, that her friend had sometimes used a vibrator... but she'd never have guessed that now she owned three of them. Including one that was a peculiar wand-like shape with a bulbous end that had Buffy craning her neck trying to work out the angles and dimensions of it, until she grew hot and firmly told herself to concentrate.
>> Again, some people might recognise that this comes from my earlier meta post about the Scooby Gang's attitude to sex toys; I was already planning out this chapter when I wrote that. Mind you, I'm not sure whether it's true that in my version of the Buffyverse, this is something Buffy and Willow "know about each other without ever actually discussing", or whether they've actually had several long, giggly late-night conversations about it.
@also massively turned on by the thought of Willow and her "really quiet" vibrators just down the corridor from her own bedroom.
>> I actually first wrote "just on the other side of the wall" then realised that in Season 7, Dawn's room is between Willow's and Buffy's.
@"I'm trying! This is harder than I thought!"
Willow giggled, then reached her hand down and took hold of Buffy, guided her in the right direction.
>> She's giggling at the double entendre, of course. Also, I'd just like to say that this scene is in no way based on any real-life situations that may ever have happened to anyone I know.
@Buffy could feel her own breath coming shorter, catching in her throat, waves of ecstasy building up inside her, the faint musk of Willow's scent filling her senses as she moved her hips faster and faster, in and out, until the waves peaked and crashed and every muscle in her body locked
>> Buffy's been quite good so far about being considerate and making sure Willow has fun too, but the idea is that at this point she's lost herself to her own body's sensations.
Chapter 10 - in which Buffy goes through some changes
@she fluttered open her eyes to see her friend grinning at her. Grinning mischievously.
>> Of course Willow is planning to end the spell while Buffy is still lying naked on top of her. Wouldn't you?
@Buffy's sex-befuddled brain had only just begun to process the words when she felt herself twisting and WARPING and shrinking and CHANGING and stretching and compressing and turning inside out and turning outside in, and it was indescribable like birth and death and pain and pleasure all combined and all at once, and just when she could take no more... it ended.
>> Just as well she was asleep the first time that happened, eh?
"Sure. I wouldn't want to stop you." And with that ohmygodagain she just ran her fingers down Buffy's spine and it felt so good, and Buffy told herself firmly that it was just a few lingering traces of maleness from the spell, and it would wear off soon. Any minute now.
>> Sure, Buffy. You keep telling yourself that.
Then Willow cocked her head to one side and quirked a smile. "So what was it like being a man? Has it made you a better person 'cause you've seen how the other half live their lives? Are you all insightful and wisdomy now?"
>> After reading some of the discussion about genderswap fics I did wonder if I should have had some sort of political message to put across. Well okay, most of my fics have some sort of subtext, but an obvious message. But then I decided to add this exchange of dialogue to the last chapter instead, to make fun of the idea. :-)
@ "You'll never be the star of your own TV show if you can't come up with some trite moral lesson from that week's adventure in the final scene."
>> The idea of Willow telling Buffy she'll never be the star of her own TV show amuses me to an unreasonable degree.
@Then she looked more serious, and brought up her hand to touch Buffy's face. Her fingers gently traced along her cheek, which was now smooth and feminine and totally non-stubbly. "It's nice to have you back, Buff. And I'm sorry for putting you though all this. Are you okay, really?"
>> I enjoy writing Buffy~Willow dialogue, because they're always teasing and bantering with each other, but there's also the underlying deep affection and trust between them.
@ I could do without the, uh, ooziness factor,
>> I once heard a friend describe how she'd been to stay at her boyfriend's parents' house for the first time. She and him had been given a room together, but at first they'd felt too awkward to have sex because it was his parents' house. And his mother would wash their sheets. Eventually they'd given way, but in her own words "Afterwards I stood on my head on the bed while he went to the bathroom to fetch a towel". At which point, the three heterosexual people listening to the story smiled and nodded sagely, and the lesbian among us looked around in utter bafflement saying "I don't understand"... That anecdote lay behind that little interlude in my fic. :-)
@Buffy felt stricken and guilty. "I was distracted! It was confusing and strange and I wasn't sure what I was really doing, and I..."
>> In fairness to Buffy, it was "his" first time.
@At least, she firmly told herself that the only reason she wanted to see and feel and hear and taste Willow have an orgasm of her own was because it would be fair exchange.
>> I should probably have included 'smell' in there as well to complete the five senses, but thought it might seem strange. :-)
Willow looked confused, stammered out a few attempts at a reply, then finally managed, "You do remember you're straight, right?"
>> Just to clarify, if it's necessary: Willow was quite happy to lift the spell early so she could sneak some illicit naked smoochies from Buffy, and she was confident Buffy wouldn't object, because it was just a bit of fun (and, yes, fair exchange). But she was also sure Buffy would soon get up and get dressed; she certainly wasn't expecting her to suggest this.
@ I, uh, might not want to talk about it ever again, ever. This has been a really strange day. I'm thinking total denial, and forgetting it ever happened sounds really good.
>> My feeble attempt to allow this to fit into canon. :-)
@"Uh, Will? I've never done this before. Talk me through it?">> Undercutting the big romantic ending with some funny Buffy/Willow banter is one of my favourite things. And that particular line is kind of a reference to 'Wolves At The Gate'. ("I'm flying blind here. It's not like they make instruction manuals for these sorts of things." "Actually, they do." "Okay, but I haven't read them.")
And that's it! Questions? Comments?