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Crickets in the Mayonnaise, Bodies in the Fridge: Thoughts on Teacher's Pet

Teacher's Pet has the unfortunate distinction of being one of my least favorite episodes of the series, somewhere alongside The Pack, Where the Wild Things Are, Superstar (sorry, Jane Espenson), and Him (despite the bazooka). I think this has a lot to do with how strange and unbelievable its plot is – not just for how hard Xander and everyone else crushes on Natalie French (plus the ick factor of high school boys being invited to her house for sex and a martini), but also because it always read as off to me that the Nice Guy science teacher was apparently a virgin up until his death (given Mantis Chick's MO – I mean, really? The guy was like 50, and he screams “dad.”). Maybe it's just the 90s coming up against the Now, but part of me always wondered why the statutory rape issue never came up. The episode almost plays out as if Xander's crush on the teacher would've been fine if she didn't happen to be a giant, shapeshifting bug, but this isn't something I've ever been comfortable accepting. (though, to be fair, this show never really seemed to care much about everyone's ages, given Buffy's relationships with Angel and Spike, and Xander with Anya)

But moving past the gripes, I'd like to pursue how the episode folds into Buffy's arc, both canonically and in my fic.

One of the things that struck me when outlining this episode was the fact that Dr. Gregory was one of the first and only adults early season who expressed any sort of confidence in Buffy's abilities as a person, not just a Slayer, and was then immediately killed off. Buffy Summers (the person) is viewed by most as a delinquent with a short fuse. The entire school seems to know what caused her expulsion from Hemery (the gym fire), and by The Pack even the morons of the school (Kyle and his buds) are aware that she's no stranger to physical violence. I used to think that Buffy's feelings of isolation are only really highlighted down the line, around s3+, but it's become fairly obvious to me now that they were there from day one. Teacher's Pet helps to expose this with Dr. Gregory, in the Peanuts world of s1, because of how surprising it is both to her and to the viewer to see an adult who isn't aware of her unique condition be kind to her. And while his death isn't in any way Buffy's fault, in my arc he's yet another dead (potential) father-ish figure, closely following her parents' divorce and Merrick's death (and only narrowly preceding Principal Flutie, one of the only other men in her life who was kind to her).



This makes Giles the only stable, dependable male figure in her life, and I think the fact that he's really the only one to fill that void is yet another factor cementing their early relationship. As far as I can remember, after Gregory and Flutie, Buffy's tenure at Sunnydale High is mostly marked by hostility (see: Snyder) and indifference between her and other adults. One incident that always stuck with me to that end is in Homecoming, when Buffy's favorite teacher (Ms. Moran) doesn't even remember who she is. This lack of connection between Buffy and other adult figures, as well as with other students, is what I think drives her early depression so heavily. Willow, who's been a social pariah all her life and so I think doesn't think about it so much, often seems to diagnose Buffy's depressive moods as being a result of her lack of a guy (as in “Angel”), but I think this is incorrect, since she's clearly projecting (because that's what's so often bothering Willow before Oz). I'd venture to speculate that it's the isolation that's getting to Buffy, who is currently occupying one of the lowest rungs on the social totem pole even though less than a year ago she was Cordelia. I'd imagine having to learn to accept her social isolation is almost as difficult as having to learn to be the Slayer, and because of this I think Dr. Gregory's death is more important than it's given credit. Would it have eased some of her pain to know there was at least one adult in her normal life who believed in her (as opposed to just in her Slayer life), and would it maybe have given her school life a bit more purpose if she didn't want to disappoint him? I'd be tempted to think yes. Yet he died, and so once again the only person Buffy can turn to is Giles, whose support is very rapidly moving from any semblance of professionalism to something like a father, a shift which both him and Buffy facilitate actively (and we see this very strongly by the next episode, NKaBotFD).

And perhaps I'm pointing out the obvious by saying that, but I think before I started this project I'd never really understood where precisely their relationship came from, and why it was able to develop as quickly as it did. But now I realize that even Teacher's Pet played an important part in driving them together, when Buffy's first impulse on finding Dr. Gregory's body is to run to Giles, not to call one of her parents.

Switching gears, I think this episode also very clearly illustrates a point I was stressing on Witch before: the role Buffy that occupies both strategically and intellectually as a Slayer, not just physically. It's Buffy who figures out what Natalie French is, and not just vaguely (as in “a demon”), but specifically (a giant preying mantis), and it's Buffy who devises how to weaken (bat sonar) and kill her (bug spray and a machete). Buffy also figures out how to find her when the Natalie French they locate turns out to be a grandmother – jumping into the sewers without hesitation to find and tie up the Claw Guy that shredded Angel, to use him as a sort of bug-sniffing radar – all while Giles stands there helplessly and theoryless (in fact, he managed to screw up one of his only jobs, to record the bat sonar, by not bothering to make sure the player was on the right tape). Buffy is on the ball the entire episode, both intellectually and physically, effortlessly striding beyond Giles and Angel's difficulties. To be honest, if anyone ever had any doubts on Buffy's ability to think, plan, and act quickly and accurately, they'd only have to revisit Teacher's Pet (or, indeed, pretty much any s1 episode) to get all the proof they needed otherwise.

I don't have a segue (maybe the picture's the segue), but there is one little moment with Xander that I found myself rewatching a few times, and I figure since I'm wrapping up anyway I'd just go ahead and give it a mention. During the fight with Mantis Chick (and I say “fight” pretty loosely, but I can forgive because, you know, budget and monster suit), Xander steps up and, for just a moment, tries joining the fight, which throws Buffy into jeopardy when she shoves him back in an effort to protect him. I'm not entirely sure why this stuck with me enough that I feel I have to mention it, but I think it's because it's a moment that very nicely illustrates the situation the Scoobies are in whenever they happen to trip and fall into the most dangerous aspects of Buffy's life (early on, but, to a lesser extent, even to the end) – that they literally can't do anything for her, and an attempt at aid may only end up getting her injured or killed. And given Xander had just professed his feelings for Buffy only a few hours before, I can't help but wonder if he didn't walk away that night remembering what he'd almost been responsible for, and if that's part of the reason he made no move at all to come to her aid in the following episode. What's also interesting (to me, anyway) is that just before this scene, Giles and Willow are presented with a similar situation, when Buffy is floored by Claw Guy, and all they can do is look on with horror, neither making any move to save her because they can't. And while this isn't exactly a mind-blowing revelation (like, at all), it seems significant to me just because of how early on in the series it is, because I think to some degree it very heavily reinforces that Buffy may be their friend, but she's also the Slayer – that no matter what she will always be removed from them by her power. And while it makes me feel weird for suggesting it, I'd wonder if part of the reason Xander is able to justify his (attempted) assault on Buffy in The Pack is because of how hyper-aware he is of her separateness. It's the “Slayer” he attacks (he only refers to her as “Slayer” in that scene), not Buffy, his friend, and when he later talks to Willow about Buffy while contained in his cage, he's once again talking about the Slayer, and not necessarily Buffy. Obviously, I'll be talking a lot more about this when (if?) I make it to The Pack, but I think it's interesting that some of the seeds that sprouted in that episode may have in fact been planted in a little moment in Teacher's Pet.

That's all I've got.

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Comments

Love this meta. Your thoughts on the episode's contribution to the evolution of the Buffy/Giles relationship, as well as to Xander's behavior in The Pack are really insightful.

I think it's because it's a moment that very nicely illustrates the situation the Scoobies are in whenever they happen to trip and fall into the most dangerous aspects of Buffy's life (early on, but, to a lesser extent, even to the end) – that they literally can't do anything for her, and an attempt at aid may only end up getting her injured or killed.

Yes, this is very true. The inherent and unavoidable imbalance of power eventually drives both Willow and Xander to behave in reprehensible ways. They both feel powerless and resent it, I think. Buffy is very young and doesn't have the skills needed to negotiate the situation. Further, she is ambivalent about her power, and desperately wants to be one of the gang. I think this explains some of her passive acceptance of their censure whenever she steps across the behavioral lines they draw for her. Giles is no help, as he was brought up to believe that Slayers don't have friends without superpowers.

Thanks!

Further, she is ambivalent about her power, and desperately wants to be one of the gang. I think this explains some of her passive acceptance of their censure whenever she steps across the behavioral lines they draw for her.

I've always thought that was really interesting, especially when you travel down the line from s1/2 to s7, and you see how much she's changed in that respect, when she's long since abandoned the high school girl who just wants to fit in and be normal and safe.
I think this explains some of her passive acceptance of their censure whenever she steps across the behavioral lines they draw for her.

And Buffy's confidence will continue to dwindle over the course of the series, to the point that even in Touched she's saying "people try to connect with me and I just slip away". Which of course is Buffy being an unreliable narrator, and I think Spike's response in that scene emphasizes that, but I'm not sure how much we're supposed to see that as truth? Its heartbreaking though because over and over again Buffy has connected, has reached out, is the one who broke the rules by letting friends into her life.

Unfortunately the Slayer package did not come with improved communication or relational skills.

Giles is no help, as he was brought up to believe that Slayers don't have friends without superpowers.

He's still very traditional even when he would like to think later on that he isn't; and I think he never quite crosses that divide or makes the leap all the way to the other side the way Buffy does. And he and Buffy are so much alike in many ways, in terms of the way they hold things in emotionally. Giles cuts himself off physically and emotionally from her and the SG (granted after she died in the Gift and "cut herself off" in what should have been a permanent way). And I don't think he makes the leap all the way to the other side in the same way Buffy does, who opens herself up completely to Spike and learns to incorporate her "shadow self" rather than fear it.

Unfortunately there is no one in Buffy's life who can model healthy relationships, which is also true of Xander, Willow and later Tara, and probably Cordy. They're just kids trying to survive in a war zone with precious little supervision. In a sense, these kids already lived in "war zones" in terms of their home lives. Xander's is the most obvious but the flashback in Becoming reminds us that the problems in the Summers household were there long before Buffy's calling.
I've always assumed that Dr. Gregory was killed to give her convenient access to possible virgins, and getting him to do her eggs was just to avoid waste. I also thought the inappropriateness of the Ms. French seducing students was pointed out by Willow and Buffy, but it's true they didn't take it seriously - it was left at inappropriate, not dangerous predation. Then they mostly abandon the idea of young people with much older ones, aside from stray comments in Angel (the episode, not the series.) I can fanwank character behavior in that Spike, Angel, and Anya aren't in a human socially established position that relates to their age and power over younger people.(Though they could pass in specific situations I guess? The logistics of how exactly they interact with the human world are fuzzy to me.) Anya is after Sunnydale High, but only as much as the other human Buffy characters are at the same time. Meanwhile, Mrs. French is at first a predator they can understand as deriving her power from her status in human society. That society both gives her a chance to abuse her power and gives a rule that certain behavior from her is wrong. It's harder for them to apply the rules to supernatural lovers. The same is true for viewers in general, I think.

Your story has helped me understand Buffy/Giles more too in that end. He really is the only adult Buffy can trust besides her mother, and she can't entirely count on her mother because of the secrets and how they make her look.

Yeah, Buffy's high school arc was all about her longing and trying to connect with the normal part of the high school world. She fails consistently, except for those two moments in season three when the high school decides to reach out to her as the Slayer, in The Prom and Graduation Day. The following seasons have her even less connected to the normal human world and its people.

The Slayer is always cutoff. It makes Buffy lonely. It makes her friends sometimes resent her and act as if it was mainly her fault and happened partly out of a sense of unearned superiority.



I've always assumed that Dr. Gregory was killed to give her convenient access to possible virgins, and getting him to do her eggs was just to avoid waste.

That was pretty much what I had to conclude, but I couldn't figure what made her target him specifically, given there are a ton of men in Sunnydale High (I mean, I know why from the 4th wall perspective -- Gregory is killed off to establish an emotional tether for Buffy when he dies -- but sometimes I find myself getting caught up in the little details, trying to make them fit even when they don't). He almost certainly wasn't a virgin, but part of me wonders at the casting choice.

It's harder for them to apply the rules to supernatural lovers.

Totally true. And the actors for the 200+ year-old people only look like they're in their 20s, which is why it doesn't create a squick factor, but there are times where I'd wonder if it should. Then again, it might just be one of those Western biases, when a twenty year age difference feels...off, let alone several hundred (or a thousand). The fact that Angel is Buffy's first always makes me feel weird though, since they're just not on the same plane sexually at all (he's a little...too experienced, and god knows what he did sexually when he was soulless).

She fails consistently, except for those two moments in season three when the high school decides to reach out to her as the Slayer, in The Prom and Graduation Day.

Which I always thought was interesting, that so, so many people knew who she was, yet she was still largely shunned. I think when (if) I make it to s3 I'll probably end up trying to weave in how some of her daily interactions went, given how much her fellow students either knew or had guessed about her. I bet the student body was completely weird around Giles, maybe even moreso than around her.
He almost certainly wasn't a virgin, but part of me wonders at the casting choice.

I can't think of an in-character reason for choosing him specifically, unless the bug really wanted to talk about herself in class. But the casting choice might be for that same 4th wall reason and what you mention about kindly adult men. The age helps with the father figure image. Especially with the tough/looks-like-he'll-lay-into-you-but-he-truly-cares element they gave him, which is probably what Buffy hopes is going on with Hank.

Re: age, I don't think it's that much of a Western bias, since younger woman/older man is still acceptable. There can be some scorn for a twenty+ plus difference, but even then, I don't think we've completely internalized the idea of wrongness in a power imbalance. Though the degree of internalization differs.

I'm never sure how much the age differences should bother me. But yes, there's always something weird when I think about a young inexperienced woman with a much more knowledgeable man, even when I ship them.

Which I always thought was interesting, that so, so many people knew who she was, yet she was still largely shunned.

I'd guess it has to do with her status. Her Slayerness isn't celebrated aside from that Prom moment they chose to give her, and it's a secret, violent thing connected to aspects of the town they don't want to have to think about. From the secretiveness and how much it prevents her from having a normal existence like theirs, they pick up that she's not someone to be publicly recognized as a hero most of the time. But they know they need her, and at least Jonathan in his depression doesn't think the lack of acknowledgment is painful to her. The Prom is maybe like Mother's Day. Buffy does the dirty work they can't or don't want to deal with, and her role is to keep the problems away so they don't have to deal with them.
There can be some scorn for a twenty+ plus difference, but even then, I don't think we've completely internalized the idea of wrongness in a power imbalance.

I think for me it's mostly just the idea that the older person was probably having sex in college before the other was even born. And in Buffy's case (and Xander's), the other party in question was having sex before their parents' parents' parents (etc.) were born. It's just...weird to me. I feel like there should be equalness in the bedroom, but that doesn't seem achievable with that much of an age (hell, a generational) gap. Especially when it came to Buffy and Angel, since she had no prior experience. I don't feel squickyness with Buffy/Spike, but I think that's because they feel equal to me sexually at that point -- she's had enough to experience to have control over what's going on.
But clearly that's me, and I'm going to have to figure out what Buffy herself thought without my input before I start dealing with them.

The Prom is maybe like Mother's Day. Buffy does the dirty work they can't or don't want to deal with, and her role is to keep the problems away so they don't have to deal with them.

That's an excellent metaphor. And, yeah, I totally agree with what you said. I'd have to wonder if after awhile all the Bronze staff knew who she was and maybe allowed her to quietly make her sweep, and maybe the cemetery workers and some other people knew too. I always thought it'd be kind of interesting if she was patrolling one of her usual spots on some sort of holiday and a shopkeeper came out to give her a little gift or something. Or maybe like...Raoul the Cemetery Guy sees her sitting on a tombstone twice a week and eventually, occasionally gives her a doughnut.

The verse leaves so much open as to how Buffy and the Scoobies and the vamps interacted with the rest of the Sunnydale community... I think that's part of what's nice about this fic, that I can explore those sorts of questions, not just the big ones.
I'm glad you like the metaphor!

There's a fic titled "Those Whom Moses Forgot" about a policement - I think even a small group - who was on Buffy's side for the entire show. Can't remember how good it was, but I did love it. He'd teach new cops to pretend Buffy was doing normal things.

I've read the idea before, mostly in fic, that Buffy protects innocence as well as lives. It's to 'catch' them before they 'fall out of Eden.' Willow's innocence catalyzed Buffy at the beginning and end of the first season. First Buffy needed to save her life, and then Buffy needed to make Willow feel secure, like the world was still hers and she wasn't powerless.

The Prom makes that explicit again: Buffy asserts that she will kill everything on the planet in order for her friends and Sunnydale High to have a normal, special Prom; she drags off hellhounds literally right at the gym doors before changing to enter it. She participates in safeguarding the world she still wants to take part in. It's the innocence she's lost and doesn't want to lose any more of.

Thanks for the ficlet recommendation! I really loved it. Short, sweet, interesting, and poignant.

And I think in the beginning Buffy may've been concerned with innocence preservation, but I'd argue after her second resurrection she pretty much gave up on it. She's downright grim s7. But that's hardly surprising, given by then it was just yet another apocalypse only she could prevent. I wonder if to her, it felt like a Slayer really shouldn't have to learn the plural of "apocalypse"...
You're welcome!

I agree. I think she doesn't have the energy or interest to keep worrying about something she gets farther and farther from, and is lost by the people close to her anyway. (She can't even rest in peace.) With the last vestiges forming a part - but not all - of why she wanted to keep anyone from knowing how not okay she was in season six.

It's honestly a wonder to me how little everyone seemed to notice. (or maybe they just didn't want to talk to her about it, for fear of what she'd say...)
but I'd argue after her second resurrection she pretty much gave up on it. She's downright grim s7.

During S6 yes, but in early S7 she seems to be finding her footing again as "protector" but her ideas about who she is meant to or can protect has broadened quite a bit to include the vampire she had a mutually abusive relationship with & the best friend who murdered two men and nearly killed her, as well as the Potentials she sees in her nightmares and students like Cassie.

One of my favorite images in all of S7 and maybe the show, is that of Buffy leaning against the windowpane at the beginning of BY, after Dawn wakes her up, worrying that she can't help or save them; and it's matched almost exactly by the image of Spike leaning on the cross at the end of the ep. Those two images sum up the "crosses" they will both have to bear that season: Buffy's, as always, involves looking out for other people (outer-directed, as women are expected to be), while Spike's is about his own personal torment (inner-directed).

I wonder if to her, it felt like a Slayer really shouldn't have to learn the plural of "apocalypse"

Indeed.
to include the vampire she had a mutually abusive relationship with & the best friend who murdered two men and nearly killed her, as well as the Potentials she sees in her nightmares and students like Cassie.

Hot damn, but that's grim.

...that of Buffy leaning against the windowpane at the beginning of BY...it's matched almost exactly by the image of Spike leaning on the cross at the end of the ep.

Huh, that's a really interesting observation. I feel like I should have something equally as deep, but to be frank, you've outdone me. XD
Hot damn, but that's grim.

Right?

but to be frank, you've outdone me.

*blushes* I'd tell you to stop stroking my ego like that but I think I'm starting to like it *lol*

Anyhow, here's Exhibit A (the proof of the pudding is under the crust):





Edited at 2013-09-25 05:16 pm (UTC)
I watched the episode again after you said that, and I definitely agree (and I had forgotten how intense that church scene was).

It's just sort of interesting, because I tend to conceptualize Buffy as a "doer" yet in this episode we see her sort of helplessly waiting and watching as things fall apart. Since I've been almost exclusively rerunning s1 for the fic, I can't help but think of her mindframe back then in contrast to what it was in s7. I feel like s1 Buffy would've strode forth in confrontative wroth, while s7 Buffy seems almost...tired.
That probably feeds back to the confidence thing you keep talking about.
That probably feeds back to the confidence thing you keep talking about.

Yes, exactly. (And by "keep talking about" I hope you don't mean "beating a dead horse". I don't always remember what I've said before but you CAN tell me to shut up if need be!)

I feel like s1 Buffy would've strode forth in confrontative wroth, while s7 Buffy seems almost...tired.

Yes, and she's utterly at a loss - she has NO conception for this in her worldview. At all. Spike just turned everything she thought she knew on its head. (And makes Angel's inability to love her after losing his soul that much more damning.) There's nothing anyone can teach her or offer her that covers this and once again Buffy is left to her own devices. She starts the show seeing things in black and white because that's what's drummed into her head, and ends in shades of grey because that's what she's experienced. On one level it was actually a good thing, ironically, that Giles left, although his timing sucked and I think he was rationalizing to a large degree.

I rewatched the episode recently because of something spuffy_luvr said, how in the fight scene in the Bronze she hesitates there as well when Spike and Anya start fighting; I kept waiting for Buffy to step in and in early seasons she would have been in it right away. Then he makes cutting remarks and she hesitates yet again. And the only way she can hit him is in full Slayer mode, as opposed to when she flinched earlier (or in the opening scene in Him.) It's not only as if she's tired but it takes longer for her to steel herself to even enter the fray, to push aside the very personal baggage and trauma. It probably does NOT help that she was horrified by her violence towards him in DT or that the show subtly implies that the AR was partially her fault for "leading him on" months earlier.

But that actually works on a sick, grim level - even if Buffy says "YOU tried to rape me" S7 shows that she takes on a lot of responsibility in trying to repair S6's damages.

I love that turn of phrase "confrontative wroth" btw. Yet another sadly underused word!
(And by "keep talking about" I hope you don't mean "beating a dead horse".

Ha, no. I just know that that's one of the themes you're caught on (just as I'm caught on grief).

Spike just turned everything she thought she knew on its head. (And makes Angel's inability to love her after losing his soul that much more damning.)

Yeah, seriously.

It's not only as if she's tired but it takes longer for her to steel herself to even enter the fray, to push aside the very personal baggage and trauma.

Oh my god, so true. I think this is a big example of why I always see s7 Buffy as being tired. I was struck by that scene when I rewatched it, how long it took her to involve herself. It's like she just can't take it anymore, like she's struggling to even care anymore, because the shit-fest just never ends and the hurts just keep piling up. Her position as a Slayer basically means she has to involve herself eventually -- she doesn't have the luxury of just standing on the sidelines and watching as the trains collide -- but after eight years she must just be so exhausted with it.

Yet another sadly underused word!

It's so hard to find a situation that's appropriate!

(by the by, gonna respond to your other message, but I'm running late for class at this point)
just as I'm caught on grief).

Grief was a HUGE theme I was caught on ten years ago - and I was using the films of Nicole Kidman - and Virginia Woolf's writing - to work through my issues with my dad having died when I was three that had just never been dealt with.

right now I'm dealing with the issue on a different level - not past grief of "what might have been but never was" but current trauma related to something I did, and the immediate losses that come from that.

But the self-esteem thing? I don't think I realize how much I connected to Buffy on that level until I started talking to you and infinitewhale about it.

I think this is a big example of why I always see s7 Buffy as being tired.

and the fact that Sarah gets so thin that year (or thinner than previously) and is sick in a few episodes (her voice is raspy) adds to that tremendously. She's exhausted on every level. Another example of her "hesitating" is in not taking down Anya right away. She puts a big knife on the table and implies Anya will be in trouble in BY, but at that point it's just a threat; when she actually has to do something in Selfless she's so fucking grim. There's no joy in it - it's very similar to when she had to kill Angel with a sword in Becoming. Every year it just gets so much harder. She means it when she tells Xander to find an alternative because she DOES NOT want to do this.

It's like she just can't take it anymore, like she's struggling to even care anymore, because the shit-fest just never ends and the hurts just keep piling up.

Honestly, I don't know how anyone could go through all that and not end up in a permanent fetal position. I just sent you another reply, and mentioned an idea that struck me this morning, Buffy post-Chosen being approached by one of the new Slayers who says "I don't want to be a warrior" and Buffy saying "You don't have to." that's all she really wants half the time; that's what she's saying to Xander in Selfless "it's always going to be me." Not that she feels superior like Holden claims but there is NO ONE else who can do it or will do it. Spike is the one person who ever said "You don't have to do this" in DT, but she couldn't hear him at that point.

I mean the only way she could get any rest was by sacrificing herself in the gift? Christ.





and the fact that Sarah gets so thin that year (or thinner than previously) and is sick in a few episodes (her voice is raspy) adds to that tremendously.

Yeah, really. She almost looks like her life has made her ill, like it's just eating away at her.

There's no joy in it - it's very similar to when she had to kill Angel with a sword in Becoming.

Which is probably why she mentions it. Because she's right... She can't escape her duty, and she's really the only one who's capable of making the hard choices (and it gets harder and harder to live with those choices, even as it gets easier to just retract).

I mean the only way she could get any rest was by sacrificing herself in the gift? Christ.

Oh my god, I know. And even that she couldn't keep. And it's totally weird that you're almost put into this position where you're in support of her being dead (as Xander pointed out), but sometimes it just seems like life isn't offering her much else.
She almost looks like her life has made her ill, like it's just eating away at her.

rahirah mentioned on kikimay's journal recently, re: kiki's question "Did Buffy have an eating disorder?" (Which is pure speculation) that Sarah was required to lose additional weight for the movie Scooby Doo, which is INSANE. The first time I noticed how thin Sarah had gotten was the long shot of her at the front door in The Body and holy cow her legs were thin then. She had no more weight left to lose. (Amber Benson said in an interview that people have told her she'd get more work if only she'd lose 20 pounds and she replied "What am I supposed to do, cut my head off?" I love that woman.)

But the irony of course is, as we were saying, her being so thin that year aids the performance tremendously. I think of her in EP in that thin white top, looking so isolated and so tremendously fragile. The center cannot hold, as it were. It wouldn't have been the same at all if she still looked like she did in S1. And when I started watching S1 there was the total shock of "OMG she looks like a baby", and that makes the early seasons that much harder to go back to, knowing that she has no idea what's in store and how much she'll get broken down and worn away.

She can't escape her duty, and she's really the only one who's capable of making the hard choices (and it gets harder and harder to live with those choices

I love Selfless so much but I think you already know that; it's as much about Buffy and Xander as Buffy and Anya, and the harm Xander has done to the women he's loved.

It was hard enough in S2 and she hesitated to kill Angel - she wasn't ready in Passions, and Jenny was killed as a consequence. But I think, also that at that point she really didn't know Angel very well; she was attracted to him and there was the romantic fantasy but she hadn't "been with him" very long. She's known Anya far longer; Willow was her best friend; and she's very aware of her part in Spike's soulquest and his pain, and trying not to repeat that. She DOES NOT want to hurt her friends. She doesn't want the additional losses; but I've seen the haters describe her as cold-hearted in going after Anya, as if she wanted to do it. She has to steel herself to do it; it's foreshadowing how she cuts herself off as the season goes on. another "are we watching the same show?" moments of cognitive dissonance when I read that.

And even that she couldn't keep.

The moment she finds herself in her own coffin is one of the most horrifying things I've ever seen in my life. And other than Giles(?) the two people in her life who know what her wishes would have been on that point are excluded from the decision - Dawn and Spike.
that Sarah was required to lose additional weight for the movie Scooby Doo, which is INSANE...But the irony of course is, as we were saying, her being so thin that year aids the performance tremendously. I think of her in EP in that thin white top, looking so isolated and so tremendously fragile.

Jesus. No wonder she looked like such a stick.
I mean, I don't like the fact that it DOES aid so much, because it's easy for actors to become nothing more than mannequins to us (I know I struggle with feeling rage toward actresses who get pregnant during the season, and no matter how much I tell myself they're real human beings, I can't help but be like "But what about [CHARACTER]???"), but you're right that it wouldn't have been the same if Buffy didn't look so fragile and wispy. She almost looked half a ghost herself, especially the way her clothes only barely clung to her.

(Amber Benson said in an interview that people have told her she'd get more work if only she'd lose 20 pounds and she replied "What am I supposed to do, cut my head off?" I love that woman.)

Amber Benson is seriously hilarious and I love her. I wish she'd land a lead role in something, or, at the least, a recurring one.

I love Selfless so much but I think you already know that

I actually just watched it again today. I LOVE that episode. And I totally agree with what you're saying about it. I can't understand why anyone would think her cold-hearted for what she did... Even Anya seemed to get it. And there's something profoundly unsettling about how Willow opts to stay in the house, the same way someone might when the rest of the family is taking the dog to be put down.
And, while we're on that episode, I just have to mention how amazing that smash cut is between the OMWF call-back song and Anya skewered to the wall. I can't think of too many other editing moments in the history of ever that were half as effective.

The moment she finds herself in her own coffin is one of the most horrifying things I've ever seen in my life.

I think I've written probably twenty random nightmare sequences stemming from that. It's one of my favorite things about s6 to think about, how it must've felt for her waking up like that, how it must've felt when she pulled herself from her grave. Her hand piercing the dirt always makes my heart stop. I know it's like a cheesy zombie call back, but there's something so profoundly awful about how she punched up so violently that her hand came out of the ground like that.
No wonder she thought she was in hell. Can you imagine what it must've felt like for her, being funneled from the warmth and safety and comfort of the Big Nothing into some pitch dark, earthen pit?
Ugh...gives me the creeps just thinking about it, especially since being buried alive is one of the most nightmarish death possible to me.
The Prom makes that explicit again: Buffy asserts that she will kill everything on the planet in order for her friends and Sunnydale High to have a normal, special Prom;

That is probably one of my favorite moments in S3, and maybe the entire series. She is just so damned and determined that to make sure everyone else will have a prom even if she can't. that's one of those moments I want to point to when people say she's "self-absorbed" or "lacks compassion", etc.
I think for me it's mostly just the idea that the older person was probably having sex in college before the other was even born.

I'm not sure I should cut in here, but my partner was freaked out for the longest time that she graduated high school the same year as I was born. Of course the only media images of much older/younger lesbians pairings are pre-1980's where it was depicted as a depraved lesbian preying on an innocent girl, so the baggage there is huge.

But for heterosexual relationships it's an entirely different thing. There are plenty of very successful men who date or marry women young enough to be their daughters, and it's rarely thought of in a negative light unless the girl is underage (as with JD Salinger's fixation on young teenage girls), or the man is terribly old. A great man movies feature middle-aged or older male stars paired with increasingly younger female co-stars. And few people remark on it.

Whereas an older woman with a younger man is called a "cougar" - ie a predator, or at best a joke; which I loathe with the fury of a thousand suns.

I don't feel squickyness with Buffy/Spike, but I think that's because they feel equal to me sexually at that point -- she's had enough to experience to have control over what's going on.

But not that much sexual experience, really, compared to nearly 100 years with Dru (or at least several decades; I don;t know about when she's "sick" and weak prior to What's My Line). One time with Angel (twice if you count IWRY but she doesn't remember it), once with Parker, and less than one year with Riley. That's not tons of sexual experience. If anything I suppose we can say that she is acting out with Spike the things she never got to do before with another partner.

For me the squick in the Bangel factor besides the thing you name is the fact that Sarah (as Buffy) looks SO young in S1-2, even though IRL Sarah was five years older. And that's emphasized by the great difference in their heights and relative builds.

What mitigates that with Spike, in part, is the fact that Buffy's appearance changed in S5 to make her appear more womanly, elegant; she looks closer to Sarah's actual age, which works for a character who has such a hard life and so many trials. And then the fact that she and James are closer in height and build, they are so well-matched in comparison to Sarah and David that they look like contemporaries. It doesn't hurt that Spike acts a bit stunted a lot of times, like an adolescent

He's a lot like Xander in his emotional development even with 100 years of experience. (which makes it interesting that Xander stops slut-shaming Buffy and other women and becomes more mature in the same season Spike deals with having a soul. there are parallel tracks in their development.)
And few people remark on it.

I dunno, I find it kind of creepy, but... I suppose it's easy to pass opinions as an outsider.

That's not tons of sexual experience...What mitigates that with Spike, in part, is the fact that Buffy's appearance changed in S5 to make her appear more womanly, elegant

Well, not tons. But she's at least had experience period, and she seems to have confidence in that arena. With Angel it's not only that he's so much older (and LOOKS so much older, as you point out), it's that he's her first and it's...just uncomfortable for me, I guess. I think the fact that she looks older in s5+ really helps make the Spuffy not creep-worthy (in that context, at least), but I think it's also that we see her as a confident, sexual being at that point, given how much screentime was devoted to Buffy/Riley sexcapades.
It doesn't necessarily make Buffy/Spike equal, but they kind of feel equal, whereas Angel felt too dominate and Riley just felt beneath her. That's just how I feel though.
It doesn't necessarily make Buffy/Spike equal, but they kind of feel equal, whereas Angel felt too dominate and Riley just felt beneath her. That's just how I feel though.

Good points all.
The Prom is maybe like Mother's Day. Buffy does the dirty work they can't or don't want to deal with, and her role is to keep the problems away so they don't have to deal with them.

That is a superb metaphor - and it works beautifully if you see Buffy as ultimately The Mother to the Slayers (with Faith) as well as Dawn's surrogate mother. (Everyone calls Tara that but I see Tara as more the favorite aunt-figure. the mother's day metaphor is actually relevant here: the fact that Buffy does actually serve the role of Dawn's surrogate mother, the work she does and burden she carries, is somewhat overlooked, I think, or minimized.)

We see in S1 & 2 Buffy that the roles of parent and child are fluid re: Buffy and Joyce as they often are in dysfunctional families, where the children are caretakers at a very young age. Buffy protects her mother when as a child we would ideally expect her to be protected by the adults; and this is repeated in S5 when Joyce is in the hospital and can't deal with the Doctor "Oh you deal with him Buffy". It's actually a rather disturbing moment and undermines the image once again of Joyce as the "perfect mom".
Gregory is killed off to establish an emotional tether for Buffy when he dies -- but sometimes I find myself getting caught up in the little details

Yeah that was fairly bizarre watching it because the script goes out of it's way to emphasize virginity in males re: the mantis. At the same time it was extremely touching that he reaches out to Buffy and she is really surprised by that; it was probably the first time in the series when I really felt for Buffy emotionally. That's repeated in Beauty and the Beast when the counselor connects to her before being killed; and then to a lesser degree when she tells the poetry professor in S5 that she has to drop out of college but she really enjoyed his class. There's such a sense of regret there on her part, because once again her world is closing down and options and choices are closed off, esp in the fact that it's something she enjoys. "Pleasure" is something that becomes increasingly unfamiliar to her as time goes on (the disappearance of the trips to the ice capades); which probably explains a lot about S6.

And the Prom just makes me fucking cry my eyes out - it is the ONLY time in the series that Buffy receives any public recognition or reward.

and then to a lesser degree when she tells the poetry professor in S5 that she has to drop out of college but she really enjoyed his class.

That scene always broke my heart, more so, actually, than the other scenes you mentioned. Something about the fact that she feels the need to explain to him, and the things she says. It's moments like that that remind me that Buffy isn't just the Slayer; that she can also just... appreciate poetry, or experience something in an uncomplicated way. There's something oddly weighty for me in imagining her reading a couple poems and being able to find the time and the brain-space to find them beautiful. And the fact that she has to give up something so small, and then to lose the opportunity to have it back (given her rejection letter in s6)...

"Pleasure" is something that becomes increasingly unfamiliar to her

Feels. In the heart places.
And the fact that she has to give up something so small, and then to lose the opportunity to have it back (given her rejection letter in s6)...

Right? I wonder post-series what she would find pleasure in; I'm more interested in how she would re-establish a life for herself than who'd she end up with at this point. Just to feel comfortable within her own skin again.

I just heart Buffy so fucking much.

FYI - I know there are some lovely fanfics out there in which Buffy takes a poetry class from a resurrected Spike/William post-series; but it never really hit me until the other day that the connection is made on the show in S5 (Spike used to write poetry, Buffy enjoys reading poetry) but it never went any further than that in canon. that would have been an interesting thing to explore.

I wonder post-series what she would find pleasure in; I'm more interested in how she would re-establish a life for herself than who'd she end up with at this point.

Yeah, me too. I bet she probably tried to pursue comfort more than pleasure at first, settling into her more solitary life. I can see her savoring a gelato in Rome, staring out at some ancient building, thinking distantly about history and the sorts of things that time affects. We know she dated the Immortal (was it dating?), and I can see her taking solace from some ageless being, maybe listening to some story of some faraway place as they laid in her little European bed, her head on his chest. And I can see her walking down a Venetian street or something, window shopping, maybe taking a coffee out on a patio and people-watching.

Not really happy, necessarily, but...moving toward contentment. I'd wonder if the fact that her life was as cruel as it was would sort of make the simple things seem that much simpler, and thus that much more comforting.

(Spike used to write poetry, Buffy enjoys reading poetry)

I sometimes like to imagine a post-series Spuffy in which they're laying in bed together and they're both really tired but neither of them are sleeping because of some upset, and then for some reason he quotes some old poem at the air, and she sort of looks at him, and even though she thinks it's kind of pretty she doesn't say anything, and after a beat he apologizes.
Not sure why I like that so much.

I just heart Buffy so fucking much.

Me. Too.

I'll try to control the length of this reply but no promises here

I bet she probably tried to pursue comfort more than pleasure at first, settling into her more solitary life. I can see her savoring a gelato in Rome, staring out at some ancient building, thinking distantly about history and the sorts of things that time affects.

This? Is almost a drabble or ficlet right here. It's lovely and I can envision every bit of it (and appreciate on a personal level now more than ever.) Really savoring that gelato, the golden light on ruined temples, etc. I'd want that for her, for anyone of course, for her own sake; but it seems to me that your description is also a fitting way to honor Spike's gift.

Not to get shippy here, but if her gift to him was an honorable heroic death ("death is your gift" taking on new meaning) his gift to her is life, or rather the permission to live fully ("so one of us is living".) Which is why I'm perplexed when she's criticized for dancing in Rome or supposedly dating again - and even more perplexed that the comics completely retcon this. In fact I hate it so much because it implies that Joss agrees with the critics that dating the Immortal implies that Buffy is a disrespectful whore. SRSLY?

I used to have a bookmark for a lovely post-series story that fits your idea: Buffy is in a Roman museum comes across a centuries-old portrait of a woman whom she knows is Darla; she realizes that she can't outrun her "ghosts" but makes peace with that. (yet again I bemoan my lost bookmarks but if I come across it...)

Not really happy, necessarily, but...moving toward contentment.

YES. I think "happiness" is an emotion, temporary as any other but finding a sense of peace or contentment as a foundation for one's emotions is deeper, more important. I think we confuse this with "happiness". Post-series I can imagine Buffy's friends still stuck in the habit of wanting her to be happy when what she wants is to be fully herself. Not to "perform happiness" for others' sake.

I don't know why the fic I'm writing right now puts her in London rather than Rome. *shrugs* I've thought about what you said about her being in Russia, being restless and constantly on the move and I can see that to some degree: having been "bound" to the Hellmouth for so many years I can imagine her wanting to roam about and see the world, even under the excuse of "Council business".

An idea came to me the other day about this, re: Buffy traveling about and connecting with other Slayers around the world, for personal reasons rather than (or more than) any official capacity. Wanting to let these girls know they're not alone. Reaching out in ways she wasn't supposed to before, even making friends that have nothing to do with slaying.

This makes so much sense to me because if anyone can sense/seek out and find Slayers it would be Buffy, Willow and Faith. I guess it's "canon" post-series (is that mentioned in AtS or just the comics?) that Xander goes to Africa to find Slayers but I'm not sure HOW he could except by reports and observation. The same connection isn't there. Only Buffy, Faith and Willow (or other Slayers) would have that I imagine.

Clearly I think about this shit way too much.

even though she thinks it's kind of pretty she doesn't say anything, and after a beat he apologizes.

I've probably seen something like that, but I'm not sure. (At sb_fag_ends perhaps?) Foxinator's "These Three" is a B/S/A fic but it's not about sex but the interrelationships of the three of them, and there's a great scene where Dawn comes across one of Spike's notebooks and Spike is so terrified he can't ask for it back. (Angel tears it out of her hand.) I can also see him having albums hidden in his collection (you know he has albums) that he'd never admit to having, like the Carpenters; Dawn or Buffy would discover it. Buffy wouldn't mention it like you say, but Dawn might tease him (and then feel bad about it).

Me. Too.

I started reading a post-series story off a rec from a friend here on LJ and the prose was extremely good but the characters went on about a bitch Buffy was and I JUST CAN'T ANYMORE. It used to irritate me but now it's just painful.

Re: I'll try to control the length of this reply but no promises here

It's lovely and I can envision every bit of it

Glad you like it! I've envisioned it a hundred times. For some reason, that is post-series Buffy for me, at least in part. Maybe because I feel like that would be a perfect retirement for her, something quiet and beautiful and simple.

Not to get shippy here, but if her gift to him was an honorable heroic death ("death is your gift" taking on new meaning) his gift to her is life, or rather the permission to live fully ("so one of us is living".)

I kind of like that, even if I don't necessarily think she'd be doing it for him (so much as just...for herself). But I feel like there's a reason he didn't visit her after his resurrection in AtS, because he did want her to move on, and I kind of definitely think she did too (want to move on). I mean, Rome is a land of a million ghosts, so maybe it's ironic she'd be going there to escape some of her own, but I really feel like she went there to get a clean(ish) slate. And I'd wonder if being in a place so timeless feeling didn't help her with her grief a bit (because she was almost certainly in mourning when she moved there), and I bet there was something comforting about the Immortal.

(yet again I bemoan my lost bookmarks but if I come across it...)

Totally interested, if you can find it.

Post-series I can imagine Buffy's friends still stuck in the habit of wanting her to be happy when what she wants is to be fully herself.

I generally imagine them separating for many years, only eventually and randomly and briefly coming back together. I always liked lostboy's characterization, of them exchanging "passive aggressive emails" "threatening" to hook up in Paris or something, though for the most part it never comes to pass.
But I feel like when they finally would get together, it would almost be to them like they were meeting a different person, since in all that time they'd've constructed a memory Buffy of all the best and the worst of her. I always imagine like, Xander, say, meeting her again after a few years and being surprised by how quiet and tired and fiercely elegant she's become -- even though she'd been that in Sunnydale -- since in his mind by then she had probably become this mythic, high-energy, chaotic being of misery and violence and strength, and being faced with her in the flesh again would be almost jarring. I wonder if to some degree, in the minds of her friends after many years she'd become godlike to them, and meeting her again would have this startling reality to it, as they're reminded she's a person just like they are.
(I'm not sure if what I'm saying makes sense, but I think it's just that I know how normal people construct their perceptions of other normal people, but I imagine for Buffy the memory they'd construct would be something far more epic and terrifying and wonderful and...godlike)

having been "bound" to the Hellmouth for so many years I can imagine her wanting to roam about and see the world, even under the excuse of "Council business".

It's honestly hard for me to imagine her choosing to settle in one place for long. I feel like once that tether broke she'd be loathe to ever be tied down again. And as much as I agree she'd probably have gone around visiting other Slayers, I also just see her...not visiting other Slayers. Just falling off the face of the Earth for weeks or months, resurfacing here and there with a random emails (or texts, as time progresses), maybe stopping in one place for a week or a month before moving on. The world is a huge place, and she likes to walk.

Clearly I think about this shit way too much.

Well, then I must think about it way, way too much.

(is that mentioned in AtS or just the comics?) that Xander goes to Africa,/i>

AtS.

(At sb_fag_ends perhaps?)

Possibly. I know that place has a lot of stuff like that (I may even have written something like that, can't remember). But I just like simple images and small moments.

I started reading a post-series story off a rec from a friend here on LJ and the prose was extremely good but

How many times have I felt your pain? I can't even think of all the times I was like "Oh, I'd love this fic BUT..."
Ugh.

Re: I'll try to control the length of this reply but no promises here

FYI: Your "drabble" about Buffy listening to Spike recite a bit of poetry? my brain read it as circa S6. But it works either way. And me and my dead horse of Buffy's self-esteem here but I decided that part of the reason she doesn't say anything is because she doesn't feel confident in giving an opinion. The whole "college-dropout I'm only good at one thing and I'm not paid or recognized for it, so it doesn't really matter" inferiority complex. I know that one REALLY well. (What, me, working out personal issues through Buffy?)

I remember a few years back Michelle Pfieffer turned down a lead role in the biopic "Lorenzo's Oil" (which went to Susan Sarandon) because she still saw herself as "just a high school dropout" and the woman being portrayed was more educated than she herself was. The fact that one of the most famous, sought-after movie actress in the world at that time still had that layer of inferiority about herself is sobering.

he did want her to move on, and I kind of definitely think she did too ,/i>

Intellectually I get that, and I can actually imagine them not ending up together or just being friends again. But I love this bit of dialogue from one of my favorite post-series fics, Stultiloquentia's "Self-Indulgent Post-NFA Spuffy Ramble": http://archiveofourown.org/works/2624
"I grieved, Spike, for a year! It hurt! I thought that was something you knew about? You needed time? Fine. You wanted space? OK, I could have given you that. That, I'd have understood, respected. But you left me hurting. Friends—don't do that. All I needed was a letter, a phone call, hell, I'd have settled for a postcard. But silence. Fuck you, Spike."

When she was in Heaven she believed her friends would be ok; I can imagine her thinking that she and Spike need time away from one another, but not being told he's back, when the men in her life have a constant history of doing things like that? Spike was different than the other men; he may have done some shitty things but he never abandoned Buffy. So it puts him in the column with every other male character on the show: "Men who lie to Buffy and do shit behind her back for her own good". When that was what made him different.That has to hurt, big time; it's not unlike Buffy being dead and then resurrected; you're hurting, mourning and then suddenly the person you mourned is back, so how do you even process that?

if being in a place so timeless feeling didn't help her with her grief a bit...and I bet there was something comforting about the Immortal.</>

Definitely.

I generally imagine them separating for many years, only eventually and randomly and briefly coming back together.

Another type of fic that puzzles me are the ones trying to "repair" the SG relationships post-Chosen to resemble something closer to what they imagine them to have been in the earlier seasons; but that usually ignores the darkness that was there all the time that you're exploring in your fic, and regresses them. Who stays frozen in exactly in the same relationships with childhood friends as adults?

how...fiercely elegant she's become

YES

she had probably become this mythic, high-energy, chaotic being of misery and violence and strength,

fabulous description. that sounds more the way I imagine the potentials/new Slayers imagine her before they meet her. But we do have a tendency as humans to burnish memories so people and times are either better or worse in memory than they really were. It depends on which is easier to deal with. Or just seeing that she's aged, just like them, would no doubt be a shock.

I feel like once that tether broke she'd be loathe to ever be tied down again.

The issue of choice/ free will would be huge here, whether she was involved in Slayer business or not. I like the idea that after Chosen one of the new Slayers might say that she doesn't want to do this anymore, doesn't feel she's a warrior and Buffy gets to say "You don't have to". That's something she's longed to hear herself since she was called. (Actually Spike did say it once, but she couldn't listen.)

I can't even think of all the times I was like "Oh, I'd love this fic BUT..."

"...but I can't believe you just went there." Tell me about it.

Re: I'll try to control the length of this reply but no promises here

(What, me, working out personal issues through Buffy?)

Ha. Choir, preaching to.
And I more imagine her not replying because she doesn't really know what to say, because she still has trouble conceptualizing his human-ness and his being-there-ness. And in a post-series verse, I can just imagine it as her wondering at the simple fact that he even exists, that he's there, that they're able to do something like that, and clearly he's feeling at least somewhat as sentimental as she is, since he decided to wax feeling through a poem. And maybe it's just so surprising and cheesy she's temporarily dumbfounded by it (like, how could the man she once thought of as a soulless creature be the same one laying there, and how did they both get there?).

The fact that one of the most famous, sought-after movie actress in the world at that time still had that layer of inferiority about herself is sobering.

Huh, wow. I didn't know that. I've never really had that issue (more just a struggle with feeling "deserving" sometimes, which I don't think is the same thing), so I can't relate, but I didn't realize something like that could be so pervasive.
Then again, I didn't think grief could be either, so...

Stultiloquentia's "Self-Indulgent Post-NFA Spuffy Ramble":

That was fucking awesome! Thanks for sharing!

Spike was different than the other men; he may have done some shitty things but he never abandoned Buffy.

I'd never thought of it that way before, but it's true. There is that "for your own good" thing, but that just isn't a great excuse, especially when he could've just called...or done something. (especially since "for your own good" decisions are pretty much always terrible decisions)
I can just imagine how angry she'd be if he were to show up and admit he's been around since she thought he died.

...trying to "repair" the SG relationships post-Chosen to resemble something closer to what they imagine them to have been in the earlier seasons

Ugh. I mean, the reality is that they were always messed up, that there was never this of happy sunshine and rainbows time for the SG (I mean, just look at DMP). And I know you know that, so I'm just basically repeating what we know, but, gah, it's so frustrating sometimes how a lot of fans seem to view s1-3 next to later seasons...

Or just seeing that she's aged, just like them, would no doubt be a shock.

And I think also there may even be this crushing sense of relieved joy at being able to just see her again period. I know part of me always imagines post-series Buffy going off and dying somewhere, of the Scoobies all being informed separately because none of them are together anymore, and so the next time they see each other it's for her funeral (round two, but for real this time). And I always imagine this moment when Xander and Willow see Dawn for the first time in like four or five years, and she's grown into a woman who wears professional clothes and has her long hair pulled back into a severish bun, and Willow's started to look like the sort of hipster-ish, young woman you might find teaching a yoga class in San Francisco, and Xander looks hundreds of years old, grizzled, with several new scars and his eye patch besides. And then just as they're all staring at each other, Giles would come in looking ancient, even under his crisp, tailored suit and his Rolex.
And then there would be this long moment of protracted silence, and then Xander would start to cry, crushed under the weight of the years and the loss and all the things he never tried to fix.
It wouldn't even be a church or anything. Just some soulless old office building, somewhere a few miles from where she died. And I like to think she'd've died in some epic fight against twentyscore demons, killing them all and saving like a hundred people before finally succumbing. But at the same time I imagine her death being a lot more simple and a lot more ugly: maybe she just got between a woman and a demon, and it just got the upperhand and killed her somehow.
(not sure why I went there, but it might be because to me there's Buffy post-series, and Buffy's death post-series)

...Buffy gets to say "You don't have to".

Wow, I like that idea a lot.
The following seasons have her even less connected to the normal human world and its people.

Yes. Buffy may be an "outsider" in high school and disconnected from most of the other students, but there is still a structure there and a rigid one at that, and I think that's very true of high school IRL: you see the same people at the same time every day, you go to the same locker, ride the same bus etc. After high school that pretty much falls apart - suddenly you're assumed to be an adult, faced with a bewildering number of choices every day (what class to take, what career to pursue, what to make for dinner, etc); college doesn't have the same structure as HS. A regular job can provide that, but Buffy's only been trained to be a Slayer; the WC doesn't really care about anything else when it comes to the girls.

Which worked fine in 19th C Europe and America esp re: middle class girls (like Buffy) who weren't expected to work outside the home or in factory jobs but stay home and play piano and be ladies. Kendra emphasizes this: she comes from a culture that is (unfortunately) the stereotype we have of "native" cultures that are still "in touch with" or follow ancient customs and live in a tribal fashion. I tend to fanwank that someone like Kendra or Buffy's predecessors in general might have been taken care of by their Watchers, and trained from an early age so as to establish that bond and that responsibility early on. But it's a completely useless paradigm for girls like Buffy and Faith who also have to earn a living for themselves somehow, and who fly under the WC's radar until they are actually called.

Part 2

And while it makes me feel weird for suggesting it, I'd wonder if part of the reason Xander is able to justify his (attempted) assault on Buffy in The Pack is because of how hyper-aware he is of her separateness. It's the “Slayer” he attacks (he only refers to her as “Slayer” in that scene), not Buffy, his friend, and when he later talks to Willow about Buffy while contained in his cage, he's once again talking about the Slayer, and not necessarily Buffy.

I don't think it sounds weird. There's a lot of rhetoric about how something is wrong because a 'defenseless' or 'innocent' or 'someone not of your own size' was hurt. Those words aren't synonymous, but sometimes they're used as if they are. And while there's a lot of truth to that, I've heard it used to suggest it wasn't so bad to be aggressive (a catchall word in this context) towards people who could defend themselves, who had power. I've used it that way sometimes myself, for certain specific things. I would naturally justify
my own actions, but I really don't like it when it's used against, say, women, to excuse targeting them with misogyny (in various ways including sexual assault) because they can take it. Of course there's also the notion of how if a woman isn't innocent, she is unrapeable*, and how POC women are stronger than dainty white women and so don't need as much consideration and respect as the 'real ladies.'

I've read a discussion where someone said, and I'm paraphrasing because I don't want to go look for it: 'Men are used to violence because they relate through it often, by slapping their backs and resolving their problems with fistfights. Rape is seen as bad because women don't often experience violence. If they did, they wouldn't be so traumatized. Buffy shouldn't have looked so upset and portrayed so vulnerable when Spike attempted to rape her, because she's used to enduring violence and dishing it out.'

So yeah, I think you have a point.

*Buffy's virginity isn't brought up until season two, she initiates a prospective romantic/sexual relationship with Owen with no shyness, and is attracted to someone Xander qualifies as a bad boy. The premise is that she's the girl who dies in horror movies. She used to be a 'mean girl' and resents what forced her to change. That's enough setup to show her as not under sexual control of anyone but herself and willing to express it. Any girl or woman can be raped, but Buffy's character elements can and have been used to justify and/or explain sexual assault. Being strong and able to fight is a bonus that provides a loophole to 'don't hit a girl' style chivalry. Madonna/Whore requires gentlemanly treatment/lack of civility instead of treating people like people. Buffy's story brings up the notion that being superhuman makes you less human, less a person.

Re: Part 2

What makes me feel weird is just thinking about Xander trying to rape Buffy at all. I know the Magical Hyena Spirit also made him want to kill Willow (that seemed like what he wanted to do), but thinking of Xander in the context of that much violence is sort of hard for me to swallow. It's not to say he's incapable of violence, but something as extreme as rape is a different matter. I think that's why he had to dehumanize her to justify it, even under the hex: because he couldn't rape his friend Buffy, but he could the Slayer.

Buffy shouldn't have looked so upset and portrayed so vulnerable when Spike attempted to rape her, because she's used to enduring violence and dishing it out.

Well, that's just disgusting. I'd rant about that, but I'm just going to choose to not.

Any girl or woman can be raped, but Buffy's character elements can and have been used to justify and/or explain sexual assault...the notion that being superhuman makes you less human, less a person.

And that's a trap that a lot of characters seem to fall into, conceptualizing Buffy as "The Slayer" instead of as a person (Kendra clearly was conceptualized as that so much that she lost most of her humanity, and I wonder how much being "The Slayer" affected Faith). Buffy herself does it too eventually; early series, Buffy is split between her two selves, but they've pretty much melded by s3. I don't think Buffy could've tolerated living under the name "Slayer" in s1, but she doesn't even seem to think about it when Spike calls her that almost exclusively down the line. The whole "doing a Slayer" exchange in Wrecked for example always stuck with me, since they both refer to her with such distance (not just as "Slayer" but as "a Slayer"). It's like Buffy's personhood doesn't matter that much to either of them.

That was completely tangential.

At any rate, I know in Pack I'll have to deal with that scene. I doubt Buffy ever talked about it with Xander, or with anyone, but I really wonder what she must've felt when all the dust and the excitement died down (after the hyena spirits were exorcised), and she started thinking about the fact that not only had he tried assaulting her, but he'd referred to her as "Slayer" while doing it. I think at that point it would've become pretty obvious how much even her friends are conscious of who she truly is.

(sorry if none of this makes sense; headache makes nothing make much sense to me)

Re: Part 2

I'm sorry about the headache. I think you make sense!

I think rape requires dehumanization (of one kind or another), so I agree that he used 'Slayer' to do that. It would definitely contribute to her isolation, especially since she thinks he can't remember it and it's just for her alone to deal with. Not talking about it would be part of the isolation. She might not have done it even if Xander had been honest, but as it is she probably thought it would be too unfair to bring it up. Despite her early struggle, in every season Buffy asserts that she is always separate. Sometimes more than once per season (I can think of instances off the top of my head, except for season three).

Well, that's just disgusting. I'd rant about that, but I'm just going to choose to not.

My reaction at the time. Insert noperocket.gif.

I like your Buffy tangents. Buffy does come to think of herself as less than human (fears it from the beginning), and it comes out a lot by season six. It's hard and painful for me to watch.

Re: Part 2

I'm glad I make sense. Sometimes I worry. XD

It's hard and painful for me to watch.

See, for me it's endlessly fascinating to watch her fall apart, but then again, I'm awful.

Re: Part 2

Oh it's fascinating for me too - but for some reason Buffy's pain is...fictional, so not quite as bad as that of a real loved one or mine, but a lot worse than most fictional characters. Or all of them.

Re: Part 2

Of all the fictional characters, Buffy is the one I feel for the most, and that makes her story the most savory to me. But it's interesting, because I imagine that sometimes when I'm watching I'm feeling just a little of what the Scoobies must've felt, since even though I feel that impulse to save her from the world, I can't really think how to do it. (sometimes I wonder if other people wish they could personally get between a character and a situation...)

So, you know, I just make it worse in writing. That much I know how to do.

Re: Part 2

The whole notion of "strong women (or POC, or lower-class women, or anybody really) being "unrapeable" or "asking for it" is thoroughly disgusting.

Have you read gabrielleabelle's metas on the subject btw?

Buffy shouldn't have looked so upset and portrayed so vulnerable when Spike attempted to rape her, because she's used to enduring violence and dishing it out.

I just EVEN imagine what goes through these people's minds when they say that. That's a core element of "rape culture" and why it's such a problem - the need, over and over again, to excuse the actions of the rapist. In this case "it's all the victim's fault she should have said no to begin with or this wouldn't have happened" is the subtext underlying "strong women are unrapeable."

The fact is that in the show we've often seen Buffy panic or freeze in situations because Slayer or not, she's still human (and I'm not even counting Helpless): Ted, The Body, Smashed, TWoTW, etc. When Buffy is attacked by Spike it's not another random monster while she's on patrol; she's will an ex-lover in her own home, where she still expects a degree of safety. Even in S7 we see the difference between how she reacts when her defences are down in BY and Him (when she flinches at his touch) and when she's the Slayer.