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(Commentary) That Kiss

14th June 2009 (01:10)

So, lavastarasked me for an author's commentary on my 'Kisses' trilogy of stories. Which means I'm going to have to talk about sex, because the last of those three fics was basically PWP, the middle one was highly smutty, and the first - well, the first was quite innocent apart from the odd innuendo. So I'll start with that one... 'That Kiss' written in July 2007.

That Kiss

>> This was written soon after issue 8.03 of the comic was published, and everybody was talking about "that kiss". For those who don't remember or don't read Season 8, Amy cast a spell on Buffy sending her into a deep, permanent sleep. Willow worked out that the only way to lift the spell was if someone who loved Buffy - as in sexual love, not sisterly or friendship love - kissed her. Fortunately, such a person happened to be in the room - Willow ordered everyone to close their eyes while that person kissed Buffy and so broke the spell.

>> Also, note that just like the last fic I did a commentary on, this one is also (almost) all-dialogue, features Willow, and involves (non-explicit) femslash. Yes, I'm predictable.

"You're saying I was woken by a kiss of true love? But that's so... so Sleeping Beauty."

>> "Fairy tales are real", as Giles tells Buffy in 'Hush'.

"Yep. But also Amy's modus operandi: that spell she cast on me back in Sunnydale got broken the same way, remember? Some dogs just never learn new tricks."

>> When Amy cast the 'penance malediction' on Willlow that turned her into Warren in 'The Killer In Me', the spell was eventually broken when Kennedy kissed Willow. The spell Amy casts on Buffy in 'The Long Way Home' is broken the same way. Whether you view this as "unimaginative and repetitive" or "consistent and demonstrating a realistic limitation of her magic' is a matter of choice.

"Hmm. So you're telling me somebody in this castle loves me? As in, loves me loves me? Who is it?"

>>"As in, loves me loves me?" sounds better when spoken out loud, so you can hear the different tone of voice on the repetition of the words...

Willow looked embarrassed. "Um, I don't think - I mean, I can't - "

"It was Xander. Oh God. It was Xander, wasn't it? He's been acting strange ever since we - erm, we had that conversation about, about, um, hypothetically..." Buffy's sentence trailed off in the face of her friend's quirked eyebrow.

>> There are hints in 'The Long Way Home' that Buffy and Xander had at least flirted with the possibility of sleeping together during the gap between S7 and S8, but decided it would be a really bad idea. Which doesn't stop Buffy's subconscious presenting her with dreams of her seducing him, much to her horror.

"Really? You and Xan?"

"No! No, of course not. That would be horrible and incestuous and wrong and OH GOD you don't know what it's like being stuck here with a hundred women and no other men for miles!"

>> Bear in mind that at this point in S8, Willow didn't live at the castle - she'd been gallivanting off astral-travelling and having sex with snake demons and stuff for six months, and had only recently got back in touch with Buffy.

"Dunno. Sounds like heaven to me."

Despite her self-pity Buffy couldn't stop herself smiling at Willow's wry tone. "I suppose it would be for you. Well, except that I don't know if any of the girls here are actually gay..."

>> Satsu is. Just so you know. :-)

"Oh, I think it's pretty safe to say that they're not all 100% hetero."

>> If there are a hundred Slayers in the castle in Scotland then by the law of averages at least two of them must be lesbians, maybe as many as ten depending on how you interpret the statistics. (And even more would be bi to some extent or another.) But Willow has a more sure-fire way of knowing.

"What? You haven't been - oh! You mean that it was one of them who kissed me?"

"I'm not sayin'."

"It must have been. Since I'm actually sitting here hoping really hard that it wasn't Xander, even though it would be horribly complicated and embarrassing if one of the other Slayers had a crush on me..."


>> Willow has a worried moment that Buffy is secretly homophobic and would disapprove if one of her Slayers was gay/attracted to her. That's why Buffy is so hasty to apologise that she didn't mean it like that, in the next line.

"What- oh! No, I don't mean it like that. It's just that, you know, I'm their leader. I'm the one who has to order them into battle. Maybe send them to their deaths. And how awful would it be if I knew that they were in love with me? Would it make me make the wrong decisions? I mean-"

>> Which is exactly what she tried to do with Satsu in 'Wolves At The Gate', until Satsu told her where to stick her orders.

"Buffy, really: no. I know you, you'll always do what you think is right, y'know?"

"Not always. I try. So anyway-" she made a conscious effort to shake off her downturned mood with an upbeat grin, "Will you tell me I'm right if I guess her name correctly? Twenty questions?"

"Nope. Wouldn't be fair. I promised I wouldn't tell anyone who she-"

> To quote the episode: "They might not even have realised it, and they probably don't want anyone to know about it. So everybody's gonna shurt their eyes - and keep 'em shut if they wanna keep 'em - and that person will step forward and give Buffy a kiss. Okay?" And if you're wondering "How does Willow even know that? Can she read minds, or something?" the answer is obviously "Yes, of course she can, don't you remember 'Showtime', 'Two To Go', 'Bargaining' and 'The Gift'?

"Aha! "She"! It was one of the Slayers!"

"Damn! Er, I mean, I was going to say 'she or he'..."

"No you weren't. Ner ner ner. I'm just pleased it wasn't Xander. So come on, you may as well tell me who it was now."

"No, I really can't. I promised. Um, anyway, how do you know it wasn't me?"

>> Willow is mostly being defensive and trying to protect the identity of the Slayer who did kiss Buffy, but there might be an element of her being hurt that Buffy never even considered the possibility it might be her...

"What? Willow! You don't want to kiss me like that! Do you? You don't, do you?"

>> And as we see, this possibility alarms Buffy. :-) I think it's more that Buffy is afraid Willow would be hurt because she couldn't return her feelings, rather than that she's horrified by the idea or anything like that. Once she's got over her initial shock in 'New Moon Rising' and 'The Yoko Factor' Buffy seems to take Willow's gayness entirely in her stride.

Willow giggled at the look on Buffy's face. "Well... not lately. Not since Anya's birthday party three years ago..."

"That was entirely the fault of that bottle of tequila and didn't I threaten to kill you horribly if you ever mentioned it ever again?"

>> And these were the lines that inspired the sequel to this fic. I put them in more as a jokey side-comment; I imagined college-student Buffy wondering idly what it would be like to make out with a girl, then getting very drunk one evening and deciding "Well, why not ask Willow to help me find out?" But beer_good_foamy asked me for more of the back-story, and so 'That Other Kiss' was born. Incidentally, I threw in the reference to Anya's party fairly casually; it was BGF who reminded me that Anya claimed her birthday was on 4 July (in 'Checkpoint') which gave me a precise timing and occasion that I needed to work into the fic.

"You can't kill me, 'cause I'm a human. Currently non-evil, too: evil-free for 28 months and counting!"

>> That puts this story sixteen months after 'Chosen', or 28 months after 'Grave'. I think it's in character for Willow to still be hyper-conscious of when she nearly killed everyone to the extent that she still counts the months.

"Every rule has an exception." Buffy tried to glare threateningly, but the grin quirking the corners of her mouth rather spoiled the effect. "No, I know it wasn't you. And you say it wasn't Xander. So, hmm - let me think..."

"Are you sure you really want to know? I mean, what are you gonna do if you do? After all these years I really can't see you hoppin' the gay train, so it's not like she has a shot with you. So wouldn't it be kinder if you just, y'know, treated her the same as all the other girls?

>> Willow is probably quite right here, but unfortunately Buffy won't take her advice... But we didn't know that when I wrote this story. Also, note that after all the teasing and frivolity Willow is being deadly serious now. She promised to keep a secret, and that's what she's going to do. It's up to Satsu - um, I mean "the anonymous Slayer who kissed Buffy" to decide whether or not to be open about her sexuality and feelings for Buffy, not for Willow to out her.

"When did you become so wise?"

"It's kinda in the job description now. Wisewoman, y'know? And it beats the alternative."

"And you're really not going to tell me, are you?"

"I'm really not."

Buffy sighed. "I suppose you're right. As usual." She gave Willow a jaundiced look. "But you don't have to look quite so smug about it."

>> Willow is grinning to herself because she just realised something; Buffy misinterprets this as smugness.

"Huh? No, no smug. I just had a thought." She giggled, and Buffy's eyes turned suspicious. "What?"

"Oh nothing. It's just that this time, Amy's spell needed someone to kiss you to break it, right?"


"So what if next time, she casts a, y'know, stronger spell on you?"

And she doubled over laughing as a dawning look of horror lit in Buffy's face...

>> Best Comment Ever prize goes to spuffyduds who posted "Stronger spell, Amy! Stronger spell!". (And then went on to speculate what it would be like living in a castle with a hundred super-powered women when their periods synchronised and they all got PMT the same week...) Unfortunately, I doubt Joss or Scott would dare to publish anything like that. :-)

So that's the first in the trilogy. More to follow soon...


(Deleted comment)
Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 14th June 2009 21:13 (UTC)

After living in the castle for a few months, Xander volunteered to Buffy that he'd make a shopping expedition to the nearest big city once a month to buy in provisions. And yeah, he might have to stay there for a few days to make sure he got everything...


Posted by: Lily (lavastar)
Posted at: 14th June 2009 23:42 (UTC)

Yay! *does five dances*

And, holy crap, never thought about synced periods, which was a bit dense of me, I s'pose.

...and is PMT what you freaky ol' Brits call PMS? What's the T for?

Anyhow - great commentary! I liked muchly, and am excited for more.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 15th June 2009 01:30 (UTC)

Glad you enjoyed it. :-)

PMT = pre-menstrual tension. The way I first heard it, pre-menstrual syndrome was a much more serious version; PMT is something you (and your long-suffering loved ones) just have to put up with, but PMS is something you go and see your doctor about. Plus, calling it a syndrome includes the various physical symptoms as well, while PMT only refers to the emotional effects, mood swings and general crankiness. But whether that's how the phrase is used nowadays, I'm less sure.

What makes this scary is that a Slayer is a demonic-powered killing machine fuelled by bloodlust and rage even when she's not premenstrual. :-)

Posted by: Lily (lavastar)
Posted at: 15th June 2009 15:28 (UTC)

...huh. Yeah, never heard that before - people generally use the word "PMS" as both "the thing that happens to every chick before she gets her period where she wants to shank you" and "the thing that happens to some chicks before she gets her period where she wants to die". At least over in my parts. Having two acronyms makes way more sense, though.

And, yeah. SCARY.

Although, it really is quite variable - I'm pretty lucky in that while I am generally a bit moody beforehand, and might have a slight case of cramps, there's not much goin' on. Whereas some of my friends will be like "AAAGH DYINGGGG" and have to stay home and moan.

Posted by: erimthar (erimthar)
Posted at: 15th June 2009 02:13 (UTC)

Heh, synced periods. "Slayers? every one of us. Make your choice. Are you ready to be strong? And crampy and irritable?"

Also, how many bathrooms did medieval Scottish castles typically come equipped with? Enough for a hundred women? With synced periods?

I wouldn't want to be the Big Bad who tried attacking at that particular time of the month.

Just out of curiosity... where was the evidence that Buffy and Xander had contemplated a romantic or sexual involvement?

Reminds me... I must write a fic about what Buffy and Willow were talking about in their "girl talk about girl parts" conversation that they refused to clue Xan in on.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 15th June 2009 09:54 (UTC)

You know the money Buffy stole from that Swiss bank? She was driven to it out of desperation, because she needed the cash to pay for renovating the castle and installing extra bathrooms...

where was the evidence that Buffy and Xander had contemplated a romantic or sexual involvement?

When she dreams about asking Xander to bed with her in 'The Long Way Home':

1) Her comment "I'll be gentle this time. I can be gentle" implies that they both remember a previous occasion when she wasn't so gentle. (Although, random thought: maybe Buffy is actually experiencing Faith's memory of sleeping with Xander here??)

2) The initial part of the dream, where sh's walking through the corridor talking to Xander, appears to be a genuine memory. Obviously the stuff with his head falling off is a pure dream; but at what point did the memory give way to fantasy? Was "Are you coming to bed?" invented by Buffy's subconscious, or did she really end the conversation with Xander that way? Given the turn of the page and the marked change in artwork styles, I'm inclined to believe she really did say that, and in reality he told her "We both know what a horrible mistake that is" - but in reality Buffy accepted that, but in her dream she pulled him into her room anyway.

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