Spanderverse: After 314: When I first started the Spanderverse series of stories, I honestly had no clue whatsoever what I was doing. For the first few, I insisted on prologue-ing the titles with the 'Spanderverse' moniker. As to the title itself - well, it's pretty obvious when it takes place. The story itself refers to what happens following the assault on 314 - i.e. Riley returns to rescue his former companions in the Initiative. It was my second fanfic story (the first has long since been deleted and destroyed) and it reads like a beginner's story.
Spanderverse: Spike: Again, an obvious title to let you know exactly what you're going to get as far as the focus. This one was trying to explain (but I don't think it actually does) why the Scoobies were still having anything to do with Spike in S5 after the whole 'throw my lot in with Adam' thing. I wish I had ended it much differently now, but I wasn't really sure how far I was going to go when I began writing my little stories. Much like now, actually....
Spanderverse: Dracula: Again..., prosaic and dull title. But, this was the first story that sort of easily came and that I enjoyed working on. The thought behind it was that Dracula should be a fearsome foe and I didn't like the Buffy episode that was much more comedic in tone. I wanted to bring the vampire back to his more scary and brutal roots, which meant having him leave a larger body count behind. I also wanted (since Joss brought Dracula into the Buffyverse) to tie this Dracula to Bram's classic story. About half way through (before I reached the end of the Buffy-episode part of the story) I realized to really bring him back to the dark being he should be, I had to exact a cost from his visit to Sunnydale. And to do that, I had to put the Scoobies in real danger... it didn't take long before I realized with Xander already neck deep in Dracula's business, he had to be left hurt by the bad guy - and since I wasn't about to kill him, I looked at his family instead. His dad got the nod - Xan's parent's names underwent a change just because I couldn't locate their canon names at the time. Blayne's last name changed just because I didn't like the sound of his 'Blayne Mall'.
Spanderverse: Burial: Obviously this refers to Xander's father who gets buried following his murder by Dracula. This was really a focus story on Xander, however. I knew it would be two chapters, the first being the day of the funeral and the second being his dealing with his anger by hunting out alone. It was designed to give Spike and Xan a chance to grow closer together. And, it was supposed to lead to much more of Xander putting himself at risk in his need for revenge, but that idea was dropped by the time of Confusion of Three because that story was just not dark enough to accommodate the darker turn. A lot of it was also because I was reading a lot of Dark Xan fic at that time and by the time of the next story, it felt cliche to me to also take that path - so I didn't fight too hard to keep things darker in ...Three.
Spanderverse: Confusion of Three: Yeah, I finally got the revelation that I didn't have to keep pointing out that this is a Spanderverse story, since my stories on Fanfiction took care of that by listing them under my author ID and I could point it out in description. Anyway, the title is a dig at Charmed's constant reiterations of "Power of Three". I felt immediately that BTVS' The Replacement missed an easy call back by not having Xander split into one of his prior alter-egos (I was thinking his 'best' self should have been the soldier-person from Halloween). So once I set about to 'correct that oversight', I realized that if two Xan's were fun, three would be more fun - which is where Hyena came in from The Pack. At the end of the story, I also realized that I wasn't ready to let those alternate personas go... so they became independent voices in Xander's head. And Hyena gave me the perfect way to introduce both Xander and Spike to the idea of them hooking up at some point.
Preludes: This title seemed pretty obvious right from the first paragraph to me. I knew that I was basically going to set up the major Buffy storylines to explore more of later including Joyce's tumor, the Riley/Spike conflict and Dawn's arc. In addition, I knew that Spike and Xander were going to end up together by the end of the 'season' because that was the whole point of Spanderverse to begin with, but I didn't want them to get together too fast. I wanted it to be a natural evolution, which is also why I needed to keep Hyena around for much longer in order to act as the voice that would allow Xander to take that step. I also knew that I wanted to fill out the Knight's and Glory's backgrounds a bit more than we saw onscreen.
Tensions: Again, this one was pretty obvious since I knew what I was basically going to be doing with this story - tightening the screws, basically. The main thrust of this one was dealing with Xander - I took to heart that part of fandom who insists they never saw any sort of sexual tension between Xan and Spike and didn't understand Spander. I wanted to lead step by step from where Xander is on the show to where I wanted him to be by the end of 'the season'. I also wanted to expand on Riley's meltdown much more because I feel he's been treated badly by the fandom. This is why he meets Sandy so soon here, and she remains a sympathetic character around him throughout. I didn't want to bash Buffy, but I didn't want to let her skate out of responsibility for the break up either. And, I wanted to show that Riley was suffering from the modifications of Prof. Walsh because I feel like we didn't see that on the show until they suddenly needed a reason for Riley to turn into an insecure jerk - it just came out of the blue on the show, to me.
Old Friends: This title is in irony, describing Adam. In 314, I deliberately allowed the vampires to take him away, because I knew I wasn't done with using him. But here, he's much more in keeping with his personality during S4 - i.e. boring and colorless. A zombie-robot was perfect for him, while at the same time giving the vampires a bit more muscle to work with. I also knew way back during After 314 that Warren was going to get Adam to use against Buffy.
Hospital Visits: Obviously I had to deal with Riley's modifications and Spike's plotting as in the show... Actually I didn't, but at this point I was scared of going too far into AU territory since I was already changing the Buffyverse with Xan/Spike. I didn't want to lose any potential readers by ignoring everything about S5, so I tried instead to tweak things so I wasn't just carbon copying. I won't pretend to be able to judge whether this was a good ploy or not. I also keep Sandy a sympathetic and welcomed 'person' that Riley can confide in here so that it doesn't come out of the blue later when he does his 'come bite me' act.
The Risks of Glory: The title, naturally, is a direct play on the dangers that Glory is bringing with her. There were a few things I wanted in this story - one was to get Adam into Warren's hands and start him on his path of megalomania. The other was to continue putting the screws to the Riley-Buffy relationship and to do the same to Xander-Spike, even though they aren't close to romance at this point. I also wanted to spend some more time dealing with Joyce because I knew that I was going to go with canon on this one and kill her (though I did very briefly consider waiting until S6 to do so - I was giving thought to wanting Joyce to witness Buffy's sacrifice for Dawn, just so she would really know what a hero her daughter is). Mostly, this is about Glory's coming to Sunnydale though, and is why I'm disappointed with myself for Chapters 7 & 8. I like how I brought Spike back into the fold despite Hospital Visits, and how I kept this from Riley so that when he spots Buffy and Spike talking later, the blow will be more devastating, but by the end of this one I really just wanted it to be done and posted. So, I cheated by basically copying the first Buffy/Glory confrontation... lazy.
Hunting Our Needs: This one was deliberate, as far as word choice. I could just have easily referred to it as 'searching' or 'seeking', but it involves a Hellgod, a Slayer and a Vampire and what they want (or think they do), so Hunters seemed far more appropriate. I also didn't completely buy Spike's lesson to Buffy in "Fool for Love" and wanted to expand and change it a bit. Instead of it being about a Slayer Death Wish, it's now more about just being plain tired of the constant struggle and responsibility for other people's lives that wear the Slayer down. A lot of Spike's explanation in Chapter 10 comes from a nature show that I only half remember now that talked about brain waves of animals when they're fed to predators (I want to say this involved fish and octopus or maybe rabbits and some sort of big cat - I can't quite recall how the experiment was conducted) that seemed to reveal that at a certain point, a prey animal will stop fighting and its brain activity will suddenly change to reveal a calm acceptance of its fate after falling into a predator's grip....
The Family We Choose: The explicit plot of BTVS: Family. The minor changes here are that I included April and the first introduction of Buffybot in here (Spike orders it here), basically fusing Family and I Was Made to Love You. The beginning of Chapter 5 was designed to mimic the ending of I Was Made to Love You, to lead the reader to think that Joyce would be found dead here. I knew I wasn't killing her yet, but I didn't know exactly when it would happen (I still had the idea it wouldn't be until after the gang try to run from the Knights and Joyce would be in the RV with them - I also still had the vague notion she'd survive into S6 at this point). The main thing I wanted to do here was get Spike to stop plotting against the Scooby Gang by having Tara bond with the vampire and basically tell him to shape up before he finds himself without anyone - see the last chapter - and to repair the Xan/Spike sort of friendship.
Falling Apart: Riley needed to leave or I was going to have Glory kill him. I chose the title 'Falling Apart' to describe the three of our four pairings here because I wanted everyone to split up in the same story. Xander had been leading Anya on for a while now and I picked here to break them apart, since I was already choosing here to start Riley's exit from Sunnydale and ergo his and Buffy's split. What I didn't want to do is turn Anya into Shrew!Anya or to have her become a Vengeance Demon again which is why despite being hurt, she's more forgiving here than on the show. I wanted her to stick around with the gang so that she could take Tara's place as Glory's victim. I wanted that for two reasons: 1) to put pressure on Xander regarding Spike (I use Dawn for the same reason, but from Spike's viewpoint) and 2) Because Tara as Witch was short changed on the show and I wanted to give her more scene in which she shows she has her own magic powers apart from Willow. On the Riley/Buffy front - I chose to go ahead with canon and have Riley leave because I'm not convinced yet that I don't want he and Buffy to be together - which is also why I have Buffy realize here that a lot of the problem was hers and to do that I went back to Angel/Angelus as the reason she just couldn't treat Riley in the same vein as she treated Angel prior to his soul-loss. I think fanon largely blames Riley too much for the breakup (because of the vampire biting thing) and not enough on Buffy keeping him at a distance. When they do blame Buffy they tend to take what's on screen at face value (i.e. it's to protect Dawn or because she's allowing being the Slayer to turn her into a bitch) and not because of the past trauma that hangs over her relationships with men caused both by her father and especially Angel. Falling Apart also describes Spike finally ditching Harmony - though that's more comic than heartbreaking.
Sunnydale Antics: Hopefully, this title infers the light tone that this story mostly takes throughout. Olaf was too amusing to leave out and this was a good place to slip him in for one story because it gives us a break from the relationship angst of Buffy/Riley and Xan/Anya and gives us a minute to breathe before Glory really makes her come back. I also needed to get Giles back before the main Glory action and he sort of got forgotten in England for longer than I had intended. This gave me the place to bring him back and to bring the story back to the darkness that S5 really encompasses. I also had a lot of bitchiness between Anya and Willow going back and forth throughout the prior stories and I wanted to take this opportunity to let them blow off the steam between them (though it doesn't stay gone) and put them both on the same side - mostly.
Feints and Counter Feints: The title largely refers to the moves being made by Buffy and Giles trying to deal with a Council who took Giles' asking for information as a way to assert their authority again. At the same time we have the machinations of Glory and the Knights of Byzantium which Buffy must also parry to keep Dawn safe. This also provided a great place to give much more detail on Ben and especially to keep his role as victim of Glory, just as much as Buffy is. Spike is also fully embraced again by the gang so he'll be there to help against Glory and to get closer to Xander. We check in with Harmony here also, but really what I knew I wanted to do on this one was to give Faith a Slayer-dream so that we could check in with her because I'd love to write her more. That's why we'll check in with her periodically again, as well.
Pathways: I don't know why this one is relatively unpopular as far as hits on Fanfiction.... The Pathway of the title refers to Spike's future, as it is here that he's first given a hint that Buffy isn't where his attention should lie. Riley tried to tell Spike this before he left, and here we get both him realizing that he doesn't actually love Buffy and Drusilla's psychic flash pointing to Xander (though she doesn't come right out and say it). When I started the story, I also knew that I wanted the story to take place before Dru hits L.A. so she wouldn't have the angryAngel, Darla, Lawyer-massacre, Fire cloud over her. I wanted this story to be relatively light, so I could have some bonding between Dru and Buffybot and some Harmony-comedy. I also knew this would be the place where Harmony took her exit because she couldn't fit in with the Glory storyline that we'll be focused on (as well as Xan and Spike finally getting together). I also knew that this would be where Buffy would discover Joyce and that she wouldn't live until S6 after all. It seemed like a good counterpoint to the Harmony-blathering earlier and the partner-scene to the set up in Ch 5 of The Family We Choose. I was very careful to make the ending the exact same as 'The Body' because I knew I couldn't write that episode with any justice.
Coming Together: I chose this title as a counterpoint to Falling Apart. There, our major players separated with Buffy/Riley, Xan/Anya, Harmony/Spike and Spike/Gang all being pushed away from each other. Here, everyone comes back into a closer orbit around one another. I knew coming into this one that BTVS: Forever was going to be skipped in the Spanderverse, so I had to introduce the idea of resurrection without Dawn. That's why I have Willow and Tara discuss the possibility, but ultimately dismiss it here. I also didn't want Joyce's funeral to go by without Cordelia Chase coming in. I appreciated Angel's cameo, but always felt that Cordy should have come back, too. And finally, I wanted to both deal with Dawn discovering she is the Key at this point and to have a way for Angel Investigations and the Scooby Gang to be closer with one another like an extended family and having Angel go up against Glory to help save Dawn did that. I'll admit though, that once Cordelia showed up, I had trouble catching her voice - I didn't have the DVD set of Angel yet, and I kind of lost what her voice was like. I did enjoy having her be the one to pull Dawn out of her funk about what she was though and I liked the obvious insight that no one living in the Buffyverse could possibly be 'normal' and also know that vampires and demons and werewolves were running around. What I really loved though was showing Anya again in a sympathetic light with her trying to deal with grief.
Songs of Pain and Comfort: I flirted with the idea that Xander would finally kiss Spike in 'his graveyard' in Coming Together, but decided that it would be too much with Joyce and Angel and Glory. So I knew here would finally be the place where they'd make the transition in the relationship. But, that left me with a question - how. I went to Buffyguide to see what stray plots were sitting there unaddressed by me yet and ran across the episode where Spike gets nabbed and thought 'Ah-hah!' After that, this story pretty much wrote itself. I don't know why I came up with this title exactly, except of course I knew there'd be a lot of pain for Spike and comforting by Xander to push their lips together, but from the first sentence I knew I'd be calling it Songs of.... I guess there was just something poetic in it. I also had Spike give Glory Xander's name to put out the suspicion that it would be he who was going to get brain-drained, but I already knew it would be Anya. I also very quickly - even before the first paragraph was done - knew that instead of Spike being unceremoniously dumped in his crypt following his torture, he'd be going to Xander's apartment and that would be where the kiss happened. I also knew that Buffy was going to be on Spike/Xan's side but that Giles would emphatically not be. Anya's refusal to donate blood came later. Finally, I knew that I was going to give Dawn more to do as far as insisting on researching and such in an effort to help herself rather than depending on the others to do it.
Battling With a God/Glory's Moment: I still wish I had just made these one story from the beginning. The titles are self-evident as is the obvious plot. The main thing with this one was that I wanted to strip the Scoobies of the sense that battling against Glory was really no different than battling against the other 'big bads' of seasons past. So there is a lot of injury in this one. Everyone ends up being battered around nearly from start to finish. That's also the reason why I destroyed the Magic Box, broke Tara's hand and Giles' ankle and basically kept hurting them throughout. I had fun with using Dawn as the Spander-fan squeeing over our men getting together - she's basically voicing my feelings toward the boys. One of the changes I knew going in was that Xander would take Giles' place at the wheel of the RV, since I didn't have him brainsucked. I wanted to give Spike something to think about as far as Xan being a mortal guy and I wanted them to confront and get past the whole "you don't have powers" thing since Xander was never going to stop being a Scooby Gang member. The thing I really like though is forcing Spike to stay at the RV wreck. It really annoys me to see Spike making a trek through the desert with that blanket over his head... in BTVS - but I will say that the scene on the
show where Xan takes Spike's lighter to light his smoke was when I saw some sort of possibility Slash-wise and first started to wonder if I could write Buffy fanfiction for those two. There was a lot of thought while writing given to how I was going to end it including: having Dawn jump, having Giles killed, having Anya killed and having Xander either comatose or in a wheelchair at the end of it. Finally, though, Buffy jumping just seemed to right to play with. I did want to deal though with the immediate aftermath and I liked the idea of having a Faithbot using April, so I made sure both robots were used and both survived. The big thing here though was setting up a reason for Giles to leave the Scooby Gang - I knew all the way back before Chapter One that it would be because of Dark Magic and that he would be the one to go up against Glory with it instead of Willow. I 'killed' Commando-Xan here because Dark Magic should have consequences and basically because I found C-Xan dull. This was a way to make the reader feel that our Xander was in danger from within.
POV: My experiment to write from first person only. I was going to have an entry for all seven primaries, all of them reflecting on Buffy's loss and that final battle. I'm not happy with these ones, I have to say. Willow and Anya's are just... clumsy and poorly written. I like Xander's POV of the battle, but I've been told it was a waste of time and too redundant. I think Tara's was the only one that I would call a success as it let me revisit her past, which I'm doing again now in the current story I'm working on.
Rebuilding: Wow. This one was a real pain in the ass. The title is obviously in regards to the Scooby Gang's efforts to pull themselves together and keep Sunnydale protected while there isn't a Slayer to act as the center. I can see why BTVS brought Buffy back right away, now, as it was hard to give the Scooby Gang a direction. The beginning chapters were relatively easy since I could deal with the feelings of loss and shock, but as the story progressed it became difficult to move forward. That was resolved a bit, at least, when I came up with the idea of one of Spike's past mistakes coming back and putting the Gang in danger. I'm also not ready to put Dawn's mystical nature to bed either, so her being a victim of a vampire attack was able to break a deadlock for me. It allows pressure to be put on the Xan/Spike relationship, allows future plot bunnies in my head for future stories around her, and gives a reason to make her more involved in Buffy's resurrection (not really a spoiler - I never intended for Buffy to stay gone, I just wanted her return to be delayed a while). Anyway, this in my opinion, is my weakest story.
Dawn: This one allowed me to get into Dawn's head a bit in the way that I gave up on when I cut off POV prematurely.
The Cost of Giles: This is another title that came to me long before I started writing it. And, it had a double meaning for me - The Cost of Giles himself and also the Costs of what Giles had done and the price the Scooby Gang was going to have to pay for it now.
I knew already that Giles had to go back to England, because he would know that Buffy shouldn't be resurrected - and he'd never allow the attempt. I also knew that his arc was going to be directed related to his fighting Glory with Dark Magic. The only trick was figuring out how to put the elements together and how dark I was going to let him go before putting a stop to him. I knew there would be a magic battle with Willow and Tara and I also knew that somewhere in there, the Book of Midnight had to be gotten rid of so that there wouldn't be a "why wouldn't Willow at least be tempted to use it" cloud hanging over future stories. That's when I went back to the wizard who owed Giles a favor - at first, I was tempted to have Ethan return from an escape from the Initiative, but I liked the idea of someone other-dimensional more who I could send away where the Scooby's couldn't go when I was done with him. By using someone who could teleport and dimension hop, I was also able to get rid of Adam and April, who ended up not coming out the way I'd hoped, anyway. I also couldn't see Hyena Xander fitting in long term with regular Xander, so I had her push the issue by going a bit out of control here so that Xander would have to confront the fact that he had this animalistic personality in his head and she wasn't stable.
And there you have it - my expanded on meme of story titles in Spanderverse. The latest, Coming of the Scooby Army, is coming together slowly but surely....