maudlin
I Blame the Dutch mpoetess
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Apropos of nothing...
No, seriously apropos of nothing besides the fact that I was poking through my stories folder for anything that might possibly qualify as a WIP that I could post bits of in a belated stab at WIP-amnesty-week, there is this. Which is not a WIP at all, but rather a DVD extra from a long-ago posted chapter of That Story With The Chocolate. Which is itself a work in lack of progress, but this bit is old, and just never showed up there in the first place.

It's from the scene in Conventional Relationships where Xander and Spike are watching Red Dwarf in one of the screening rooms. Xander's apparently on the rag (actually twitchy because Japanese Ghost Girl Of Indeterminate Motivation has been messing with his head re: Spike's past, but Xander hasn't put together what bothers him about it yet) and has just bitched at Spike for something stupid then walked off and sat down several rows away. He's leaning his head against the wall while Spike tries to figure out what he did wrong this time, and when Spike finally walks over and touches his shoulder, Xander does a big freakout 'gahhhh' thing, from surprise. The implication there was supposed to be that he'd actually nodded off, and Rei had popped in to poke at his dreams a bit more, but since that scene ended up all in Spike's POV, the actual dream, which due to its subject seemed a bit redundant, got cut.

It's still redundant, but anyway, Dinner at Chez Harris, a deleted scene.

--

"Stupid -- stupid. You never know when to shut up, do you, boy?"

He was sitting at the dinner table, and what was it tonight, Kentucky Fried? Dad at the head, Mom next to him, Rory over as usual, just a little schnapps-happy. Just a little frown when Xander looked up from his plate and tried to say something, and nothing came out, because Rory at least thought he was funny. Dad sure didn't.

"Always got a smart answer for everything, don't you?"

"No, it just seems that way compared to the question," Xander muttered at last.

But what had the question been? Do you.. do you something? Are you something?

"Think you're so smart. Smarter than us. You think we forget about you down there?"

Yes. No, thought they'd forgotten about him a long time before they'd moved his stuff into the basement while he was on the road, and turned his room into another place to pile broken machine parts and garage-sale Budweiser lamps.

"We can hear you. We know what's going on, you little..."

What? Bastard? God, he wished he was, wished he didn't have the same square-cut hands as the guy at the end of the table with the drumstick clutched in his left one. Fairy? The other f-word that meant the same thing, that Xander's mom would grimace if he used, because it wasn't polite, and she wasn't quite tipsy enough yet to not care what was polite?

Good, he shouted at them without opening his mouth. Good, I'm glad you can hear, I hope it keeps you awake at night, not that you're home at night anyway, hope us pounding the back of the couch into the wall at four in the morning when your skull's already exploding from a hangover makes it that one bit harder to get to sleep.

"See, now you've upset your mother," his father said, rising and pointing at her with his drumstick.

She didn't *look* upset. She didn't look like she even noticed anything was happening at all. Just smiled and nodded and went away somewhere, the same place she always went before the six o'clock bell rang and it was suddenly okay to have screaming fights with Dad, because she'd had enough that she could pretend she wouldn't remember it in the morning.

She doesn't know, she doesn't care. If I had the whole fucking vampire population of Sunnydale giving it to me in the basement, neither of you would give a damn, so what the hell is your problem? More voiceless yelling that his father reacted to anyway, getting redder and redder in the face until Xander thought his skull was going to explode right *now*.

"You think he *loves* you or something? That kind never will. Just wants you 'cause you'll turn over for him, like you turn over for everybody. You think you love him? You just want him 'cause he treats you like some pretty little girl, so you don't run off and make him actually have to work for the kill. He'll leave, though. Nobody could stand you for very long, except us. All you've got is us, boy, and you'd better keep that in mind before you come up here and..."

His Dad's head was swelling up like a big red balloon, and when it burst, it was going to splatter Xander with all that crap he'd just spouted, was still spouting, and then it would touch Xander and be all icky and he'd have to get Spike to wash his clothes, but if it touched him he couldn't because it would be true, and Spike wouldn't be there to wash clothes or ever want to touch him again, and Dad just kept talking and talking and his head kept getting bigger and bigger and any minute now it would be sploosh and it would touch him...

--

And then there was Spike waking him up and jumping and ack-ing.


And from the mists of pre-history, a scene that's not so much deleted as an alternate version, from Half-Baked, in which we find Xander trapping Spike into talking by the brilliant expedient of sitting on him until he gives up. Which sort of happened in the posted version, except this one is all talky and over-angsty (filename: "angstybits.doc" I'm just sayin'.) and far too self-referential (to previous events in the story), and (the part that sealed its fate on the cutting room floor) way, way too soon for them to be saying any of this. Cleaned up a wee bit so I look cleverer than I was at the time. (I'm not actually cleverer now, mind you; just more aware of the patterns I fall into.)

In Which Xander's Bed Is An Ark.

****

"What is this?"

Oh. That. "This..." Spike rolled his eyes about at the room in general. "Your parents' basement. Smells like old socks and rotting marriages."

Xander grabbed his left arm, fingers closing firmly, just a little painfully, around the bicep. "*That's* what I mean about a straight answer, Spike. None of that shit."

"This, then. You and me. What's *this,* right? You fucking ambushed me, mate, and it ain't fair."

Xander nodded. "Yeah. But it's the only way I'll ever get anything out of you, so too damn bad. The game here is, Spike spends most of his time trying to embarrass Xander, now it's my turn. I'm not moving until you answer me, and you'll have to actually *hurt* me to push me off, this time. "

Spike barked out a hollow laugh. "Embarrass *me*? Gonna be a long afternoon..." He flicked his gaze down, and regretted it, as those warm brown eyes caught his for a moment. "You don't play nice, boy."

"Nope, and it's about fucking time I started playing the Spike way, I guess. You said I should ask if I wanted to know something, so I'm asking."

"Fine. Ask. Whatever..." Spike was staring at the ceiling again.

Xander spoke softly, his warm breath puffing over Spike's face, smelling of chocolate and cola. "What do I get to call this ? Am I allowed to say it's more than fucking? Because it is, right?"

Spike shook his head, his lips pressed together, to keep in whatever wanted to squirm out from between them.

Xander was getting annoyed. As expected. How long could anybody really be expected to put up with Spike, after all. Dru did it for a hundred years or so, but then, she was a complete nutter. Then again, so was Xander...

"Does that mean it's not, or I'm just not allowed to *say* it? Do I get to call this *anything?* Is this a this? I kinda thought it was, and yeah, I don't know what to do with that, but... What *are* you? To me?"

This wasn't babbling, neither defensive Xander nonsense or the contagious Willowspeak they both sometimes fell into in spite of themselves when they'd been around her for too long. This was...something the boy had been thinking about. Way too much.

"Evil," Spike answered shortly.

Call it... what? Me teaching you how to shag a man? You teaching me how to lay my head on the fucking block? He wouldn't look. He would not sodding well *look* at the young , sincere, painfully fragile and so-damned-dangerous face that was demanding answers from him that he didn't know how to give. Was too fucking *afraid* to give, truth to be told.

I'm Spike. I'm the Big Fucking Bad! I'm not afraid of anything! But he was. The pipes on the ceiling were looking very fascinating. One of them rather appeared to be rusting away, and he wondered if the bed would suddenly become a human-and-vampire-filled ark, one day soon.

"Oh, fine. Be an asshole." A bit beyond annoyance, now. "Not like I'm not used to it; I'm fucking a vampire. Who *says* he's evil, but still kisses me like it means more than 'Hey, I'd like to shove my cock up your ass.' "

Eh? Xander, making bluntness work for him? And sounding marginally naffed off. Spike, though... Spike couldn't talk. Like a great big rock had come and sat itself down on his throat, effectively cutting off any sound from coming out. Or a great big Xander Harris. He closed his eyes, watching the shapes that always pulsed in the blackness behind his eyelids.

"You gonna give me something here, Spike? Anything?" There was...a stretching, a tearing, in Xander's voice, but it wasn't breaking. It was... growing, maybe. Getting deeper. "Fine. Let me tell you some things, then. Maybe you thought I missed 'em." Pause. Deep breath. "You treated me like I was glass, that first time, when I didn't know what the hell I was doing."

You were. You *were* bloody glass. Still are. Even if, after nineteen years of living on a Hellmouth, Xander gave off the illusion of being the shatterproof kind.

"You treated me like I was...something a hell of a lot more valuable than glass when... you know. The *other* first time. You fucking looked at me *then*. " Deeper breath than ever, enough that Spike almost did look. Almost. "You want something from me? Have it. It was good. Best I've ever had, not that I have all that much to compare it to. And you did it on purpose. You *made* it good for me. You thought I'd just...what...not notice?"

Xander still had his hand wrapped around Spike's upper arm, and it was starting to *hurt*, now.

"Not a clue what you're on about, you know."

"Bullshit. Fucking evil vampire. "

Spike looked, now. Opened his eyes. Let the demon cover his face, roared at Xander with every bit of frustration and hatred for his situation and every ounce of pent-up desire he'd ever felt for this feckless human child. "I *am*. I'm a demon! Get it through your bloody head. You're in bed with somebody who *likes* to kill people. "

Xander let go of his arm, finally, and traced the edges of Spike's transformed face. Still not afraid. Still not... Christ.

What do I have to do to make him see that I'm...not good enough for him? And when the fuck did I ever get to the point where I'd even think about saying something like that, not that I'm going to? Oh, hell. How? How in two bloody weeks... all right, a few months, but two weeks of actually touching him and ... how did it get that far? Spike should never talk to Xander when he wasn't completely awake. He'd have to remember that, if he ever got another chance at it. Too risky. He came too close to saying things he shouldn't even be thinking of thinking.

"I know you like to kill people. You think it doesn't scare me? You think I'm that stupid? But you could. I don't know." Still the tone in his voice that said he did know, that he'd been working it over in his head for longer than Spike wanted to contemplate. "Be picky about it. I mean, you already are, right? But couldn't you, even if you didn't have to be?"

"That's not what we do, pet."

"We, who? You're not 'we.' You're you. This guy named Spike. William the Bloody, which admittedly doesn't tend to imply huge amounts of impulse control, but..."

"Xander..."

"I've killed people too, you know." Xander said it simply, in an even tone, but there was something there...

"You? Bollocks." It slipped out before Spike could help himself. Another moment of disbelief. Back watching the boy days ago, as he was lost somewhere in his mind, and thinking...what could Xander Harris have ever done?

And in that moment's space, Spike was human again. He couldn't even hold game-face around Harris; wonderful. He shot his eyes back up to the ceiling. Pipes. Lots of 'em. The creak of the boy's mother's feet on the floor above.

"If *you're* people, 'just dead people,' then I've killed people. People who were trying to hurt my friends, people I loved. I'd do it again. " A little rough breathing, there, but still on an even keel.

Still more interested in getting something across to Spike, and Spike didn't like what it sounded like. That Xander...was accepting him for what he was, but trying to tell him he was more than that. Could be.

"I *am* evil, Xander. Just because I have a pretty face and a nice ass, doesn't mean I'm not--"

"Incredibly vain?"

"An incredibly -- justifiably -- vain monster. I *enjoy* killing people. I don't do it to save the bloody world."

"You could enjoy killing *bad* people, you know. Just a thought." Xander sighed. "Anyway, you don't get the deal here. I'm afraid of you, yeah. But I'm not afraid you'll hurt me. I'm afraid you'll do something stupid and end up hurting *yourself*, and I'll have to watch you do it, because I'm not big enough or strong enough to stop you. I'm afraid I'm too far into this for *that* not to hurt me."

Damned fucking human child. Call me on the one thing that he can't possibly know would stop me cold. That I don't *want* to break his heart. Spike stared resolutely at the tangles of pipes. Cobwebs on the rafters.

"Okay, you just listen, then. Again. Since you won't talk. You don't want me to trust you, even though you told me I could. Well, fuck you. I do. It's too damn late for that. "

"I lie, Xander. I do it all the bloody time, and you know it." Spike managed to get that much out. That much truth.

"Only with your mouth, and only sometimes. I can't always tell when you're lying... but I *can* tell when you're for sure telling the truth."

"Don't flatter yourself." Shit. Hadn't meant to... be the asshole Xander'd accused him of being. But sometimes it was kinder.

"Cut the crap. You *made* me trust you. With what you did, not just what you said. Are you too fucking blind to figure that out?"

What *had* he done? Spike tried to remember, tried to come up with a list of his own imbecilities, but his brain didn't seem to be working at the moment. Hello... snarky Freudian voices, where are you when I need you, you little toe-rags? "What the hell did *I* do makes you think you should trust me, then?"

"For a start? You made *love* to me."

Spike gave a half-hearted snort.

Xander snorted right back at him. "You think I slept with *Faith* and don't know the difference between that and fucking?"

"If a couple of pretty words and being generous with the lube is all it takes to pull you, you're gonna have a rough life of it, Harris."

"Shut up. I let you do things to me... No, I *asked* you to do things to me, that I've never had the balls to admit I wanted, even to myself. And I *liked* them. And you didn't get up afterwards and snicker at me and call me a fucking, fucked-up little faggot, didn't say you did it just so you could tell the whole world that Xander Harris takes it up the ass. Likes to be spanked. Is scared of monsters under the bed. Let a vampire drink from him and give him Ho-Ho's and Pepsi afterward."

There should've been that same old self-abhorrence that Spike had seen on Xander's face, heard in his shaky, waterlogged voice, when the boy first admitted to him that he'd *liked* being with Spike...that he was *ashamed* of trusting a vampire he was supposed to hate. But there wasn't. There was none of that in Xander's intonation now. Just some sort of earnest determination to get Spike to say something he was still too fucking terrified to utter.

He's not about to get rid of me. It's so much worse than that. Shit! Run screaming now...Hello? Little grey cells? Anybody in there at all who wants to take over while I have a quick breakdown? Anybody at all, 'cept the fucking monster in the basenment? There was silence in his head.

"And... that night when I fucked up, " Xander continued, his voice a little wobbly, now, "when I lost it completely, you didn't let me go. You held on, and you didn't laugh at me, and you didn't take off. You made me *trust* you enough to be able to lose it completely. And you didn't freak out."

That last, Spike couldn't take, and he slipped one hand out from beneath his head, running it along Xander's arm, finding the warm fingers where they were twisting the sheets into a wrinkled mess. "The hell I didn't. I was afraid you wouldn't come back. What would I do with another broken loony, then?"

"Same thing you did with the last one, maybe. But you *didn't* freak out, not out loud. And you didn't *just* hold on."

Oh... don't go there. Just don't, Spike begged in his head, but not with his mouth.

"Don't you get it? You gave me what I needed. If I've got the guts to admit I needed it, the least you can do is have the guts to admit you did it because you...something."

Yeah, and it tore me up, because what you needed was for me to hurt you... and part of me wanted to, and part of me wanted to rock you to sleep. And Spike was just the greatest nelly of all time, wasn't he, for all the things he wasn't saying, and wasn't thinking, and my, those pipes really were awfully rusty. Maybe they both had lead poisoning; that could explain it.

"Like I gave you what you needed, " Xander continued, "when you drank from me. Because, dammit, I...something."

Spike had Xander's hand in his. There was that much acknowledgement. He could do that much. Feeling the creases on the warm human palm, pressing into his own, like the swirls and lines could be read, one by the other. Like they fit together.

Gave Spike what he needed? Blood? Life? Nah. It had happened before that. Xander's blood was just the delirious outward seal of something Spike had been trapped in ages before, in the lifespan of their bizarre courtship. Xander was mentioning things he wasn't supposed to mention, so Spike didn't have to mention them...but if Xander was in the mood to drag things out of *him*, then maybe he could turn the game around, before his lips got the better of him?

"Where'd you go?" Spike whispered. "You don't trust me enough to tell me *that*, do you."

Xander tightened his grip on Spike's hand. "Enough to let you know it was you that brought me back."

Oh. Oh hell. Oh... Shit, and why had he asked again?

Never wanted to destroy the world, had Spike. Too many things in it he liked. Man U. 'Love Boat.' Rowan bloody Atkinson. The only sort of power he'd ever wanted... he'd never possessed, not really. Not with Dru, and God knew not with Him We don't Mention Without A Sneer Or A Hair Joke Attached.

But Xander, Xander the oversized puppy Harris... had handed his life over to Spike on a platter. To destroy, if Spike had the inclination. Because he was that lost, or that stupid, or something. Until Xander figured out what a waste of his time and trouble being with Spike really was... Spike had a fucking soul on his hands.

And it hurt more than Spike could ever have imagined, that power.

"Do you get it? I want to know what you think this is. " Xander paused. Shook his head, brushing Spike's chin with his own. "But you're not gonna give on that one; I get that. So...I just want to know one thing. "

"One thing? Fine. Here's one thing. I...something." And that was more than Spike ever thought he'd choke out.

Xander laughed in his face, warm and stupid and human. "I'll take questions I already knew the answer to for a thousand, Alex?"

"What, then?"

"All something aside, are we...friends?"


***

And there it meets back up with the way the story ended up going. With naps and ice cream and bananas and rimming and polaroids, instead of over-talky people and far too many pointless uses of the word fuck.

ladycat777

2005-02-14 05:12 am (UTC) (Link)

Mmmm, Amy fic.

That said - I can see why you cut the scene from Half-Baked. I like it, but you're right - it gives too much away too fast, and it's angstier in tone than I think that chapter should be. Not that you're light in bringing the angst or anything ... :D

*snuggles*

mpoetess

2005-02-14 08:21 am (UTC) (Link)

:-P I am not an angst-monster. I am not!

But yeah, exactly; it was written as a sort of "Throw everything they could possibly be thinking into the conversation" exercise. I was feeling incredibly stuck on the chapter (that whole sequence of chapters, where my getting cabin fever with all the basement-set chapters meant they got cabin fever in the basement) and was basically tossing in every bit of character development I wanted them to have ever, in the hope that it would push me through the scene and then I could cut what didn't work. Which was most of it.

At least that's the way I choose to remember it happening. I choose to believe I never intended to actually post that scene as it was. ;-) Though I did like some of the bits, thus me saving the clips in a file.

chocgood84

2005-02-14 05:30 am (UTC) (Link)

The dream? *guh* Like, whoah.

The angsty big? *thud* *le sigh*...oh how I love that story.

mpoetess

2005-02-14 08:42 am (UTC) (Link)

Hee. Danke.

The angsty big is basically chapters 18 through 30, minus all the character development to get them there, and anything resembling subtlety. ;-) But I liked the ark bit, and the old socks and rotting marriages, so I shoved it into a file to maybe cannibalize for later use somewhere else.

(Deleted comment)

mpoetess

2005-02-14 08:30 am (UTC) (Link)

It almost reads more like wish-fulfillment CG fanfiction than like CG in the way that a certain variety of fanfiction often makes explicit canonical subtext, and then ratchets up the angst. Which says something fascinating about the editing process, really.

*nodnodnod* I think that's probably how it functioned, in that the process of writing it got me over a sticky hump in writing of the chapter, but (and granted it was three years ago or so, so my memory may be treating me more kindly than it should) I think I knew even as I was writing it that the characters were far from ready to actually say those things.

Looking back at some of the scenes I remember cutting that I didn't save (and god knows there were lots; ask James sometime about CG 17-A, drafts 1 through 13), or meant to save but lost, much of it was stuff that in retrospect was very fanficcy/wish-fulfillment/fanon/cliche. I don't know that I realized at the time that that was the reason it didn't work, but I suspect that's what was operating subconsciously.

mpoetess

2005-02-14 08:51 am (UTC) (Link)

Oh - I knew there was something else I wanted to say. It's a good illustration of why I suck at writing out of narrative sequence. (Not that I was, here, but it's an obvious attempt to be writing far ahead of where the characters actually are emotionally.)

The few times I've jumped ahead to try to write a future scene (I do have a bit of what would be post-LA written, for instance, but it always comes out forced in tone and style when I re-read it) it's felt fake and wrong, because it's all so character/thought/dialogue-driven that I have no idea where they are now will be five minutes from now, let alone in two weeks. (That one little futurefic excepted, but I think it skates through because it's in a completely different writing style -- present tense, no dialogue, sort of vague and fuzzy about when it's set, etc.)

trepkos

2005-02-14 06:21 am (UTC) (Link)

"Spike was just the greatest nelly of all time, wasn't he,"

Oh yeah... and you used "nelly"!
Brilliant!

mpoetess

2005-02-14 08:38 am (UTC) (Link)

Spike is a nelly. And Angel is a wally. A big one.

trepkos

2005-02-14 08:58 am (UTC) (Link)

Absolutely!
And Xander?

mpoetess

2005-02-14 09:10 am (UTC) (Link)

Hmm. Good question. I suppose it depends on whose POV. Spike, for instance, thinks he's a gormless git. Affectionately. Angel thinks he's a dumbass, but that's because he's gone all corrupt and American in the last hundred years. Giles... you know, I have no slang for what Giles thinks of Xander. He's too nice (to the Scoobies) to actually call Xander a git, even in his head. He definitely thinks Spike's a tosser, though. Or at least Spike thinks he does.

trepkos

2005-02-14 09:42 am (UTC) (Link)

...what Giles thinks of Xander...

A prat, perhaps?

He definitely thinks Spike's a tosser, though. Or at least Spike thinks he does.

But Spike probably doesn't realise that he thinks it with affectionate ex-pat solidarity?

mpoetess

2005-02-14 12:18 pm (UTC) (Link)

A prat, perhaps?

Hmm. I think maybe Giles might think that Xander behaves like a prat on certain specific occasions, but maybe not as an overall assessment of his character?

But Spike probably doesn't realise that he thinks it with affectionate ex-pat solidarity?

And always with one eye on the liquor cabinet and the other on the nearest stake.

trepkos

2005-02-14 12:20 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yes and yes!

julia_here

2005-02-14 12:25 pm (UTC) (Link)

Scraps from your reject file are about three times better than the average fic I read all the way through to the end (there is no measure for how much better they are than things I bail on after a few paragraphs or, Apollo save me, in the middle of the author notes).

Julia, merely honest

mpoetess

2005-02-14 12:33 pm (UTC) (Link)

So I should post the Gargamel/Smurfette porn, then? :D

or, Apollo save me, in the middle of the author notes

Is it sad and scary how many of those fics I read all the way through to the end, that I should bail on halfway through the author's note? Yes, yes it is.

i missed this

Anonymous

2005-02-14 05:59 pm (UTC) (Link)

CG was one of the first slashfics I ever read; it really cemented s/x as my otp. I still reread it occasionally & i really wish there was more of it. Thanks for this little glimpse.

Re: i missed this

mpoetess

2005-02-15 05:39 am (UTC) (Link)

I'm thankful I could be a bad influence. ;-)

magarettt

2005-02-14 06:53 pm (UTC) (Link)

Oh my god, that is fucking wonderful. Just totally gorgeous. Both of these are marvelous, but the second scene had me locked in. Definitely need to reread your whole Chocofic.

mpoetess

2005-02-15 05:44 am (UTC) (Link)

Glad you liked them. Despite their non-canon-ness. If a fanfic can be said to have a canon. ;-)

(Deleted comment)

mpoetess

2005-02-15 07:41 am (UTC) (Link)

Oh my. The whole fic is very long. And unfinished *hides* ;-)

(Deleted comment)

mpoetess

2005-02-15 10:38 am (UTC) (Link)

Hmm -- maybe you're thinking of Domestic Piranhas, that I co-write with zortified? That starts with them together, and is probably the funnier of the two stories/series. That Story With The Chocolate starts with X/S cohabiting in the basement, but they're not together as a couple.

(Deleted comment)

mpoetess

2005-02-15 11:15 am (UTC) (Link)

Dude, no need to be embarrassed -- sometimes I get them mixed up, at least when it comes to things like "Did Spike say that in DP, or CG? Damn. Um." DP is super-silly, schmoopy future AU, and a WIP only insofar as it's an ongoing series; all teh stories are complete. CG is set during the summer after season 4, and wanders a little AU, but doesn't start that way, and is stalled fairly near what could be the end. It's not on a cliffhanger or anything; everything's just not completely resolved.