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theantijoss in ship_manifesto

Buffy/Angel (Buffy/Angel Fandom. Heh.)

Title: B/A: Agony, Ecstasy and Hope
Author: Ducks, theantijoss
Spoilers: Explicit, through the end of both series
Email: ducksfanfic@yahoo.com
Personal Website: http://ducksfanfic.denialbubble.com





"A vampire in love with the Slayer. It's rather poetic – in a maudlin sort of way." Giles

I've been reading all the posts to ship_manifesto with a growing sense of awe and dread. So much treasure here: brilliant analyses and discussions of subtext and extrapolation from canon, academic journal-worthy reviews of the show's timelines from shippers' points of view and sharp, astute character and pairing sketches; opportunities to laugh, cry, sweat and remember eight years of TV greatness. Each one makes me sigh with envy and nostalgia.

And makes my job seem that much more daunting: to describe a relationship that spans the entirety of both series, is central to the past, present, and possible future of each show's protagonist, and elicits some of the most powerful reactions from fans (whether positive or negative) of anything else in the 'verse. Giving it a form that's palatable to everyone, while capturing the ship in all its melodramatic, epic, angsty, hopeful/hopeless glory is a lot like... walking uphill on my hands. Backwards. While very, very drunk.

How the Hell am I supposed to do that?

Let's face it, I'm not going to convert anyone new to B/A, no matter what I say here. And there's no way for me to really soften detractor's hearts toward this, my beloved OTP, either. Nor can I adequately represent the viewpoints of all the varied kinds of B/A Shippers in the fandom (and there are many more of us than you might expect), or cover all the possible angles from which this story can be told. So I'm going to take those pressures off myself right away, and tell you that I'm just going to ramble, and focus on me – talk about what I've seen and felt that makes me a B/A shipper.

Truthfully, I'm not comfortable the whole "essay" angle. I'm a fiction writer – a show-er, not a tell-er, and spelling it all out for you feels a lot like trying to accurately define what "love" is for someone who's never felt it.

I mean...It's B/A. From episode 1 of BtVS to episode 110 of AtS, it's been an undercurrent, a driving force in the Reality That Joss Built and a cornerstone in the individual foundations of Our Heroes themselves.

The pairing evokes in their fans (and creators) emotional words and catchphrases like Passion, Forever, Always. Transcendent. Eternal. Innocence. We believe they represent to one another that impossible dream of a future where they can rest and live the peaceful lives they've always dreamed of, free of the burdens of their identities and destinies. She was a break in his endless storm – a Moment of Perfect Happiness that, ironically, almost destroyed the world. He was the only one who she truly let in to her heart. She was the only one who ever really mattered (up to that moment, anyway. Connor is born shortly thereafter and rightfully usurps Buffy's place as #1 in Angel's heart). He was the one she loved more than she would ever love anything in this life.

That's a damn big story to tell, whether it's literally true or not.

It's a story that's been, by turns, touching and disturbing. Comforting and terrifying. Dark and dangerous, yet still filled with unexpected tenderness, giving and respect. They made each other better, stronger, physically and emotionally. They turned to one another in times of need. They healed one another. They were friends. (Never *just* friends, though. Spike was right about that.) They were able to share some of the weight of the world, find solace in one another. They repeatedly showed themselves willing to sacrifice everything for the sake of the other. They trusted each other with their lives. Neither was ever more vulnerable, or happier, or more content than during the earliest days when they were together, before the curse. And even when they were separated by that horrible twist of fate, when the fit really hit the shan, they have always managed to be there for one another (unless fate was doubly cruel, and forcibly kept them separated, ie. The Pylea Arc.). Even when they argue, even when they slam into that wall between them for the thousandth time, those moments are still filled with an abiding passion that you can almost taste.

That's the essential pull of them – the claddaugh personified. Love, loyalty and friendship. Basic, simple, tender affection. A gut-level draw to one another that defies the natural order of things, making you hope that maybe, just this once, love *can* conquer all. All set to a backdrop of horror, violence and death that seems like it should make such feelings impossible.

Of course, love doesn't conquer all. We know that in real life, and Buffy and Angel learn it themselves -- the hard way. The emotional punch of this relationship is that we learn it again, painfully and violently, right along with them.

Now, I'll admit my biases: I tend to see the Whedonverse through Angel-colored glasses. Seeing from his POV (as I imagine it), The B/A Saga looks something like this:

He's been alone, devoured by guilt for a hundred years, falling apart to the point where he is living in alleyways eating rats. He hates himself, hates what he's done, and basically just waits around for his eternity to be over. He has no hope or expectation of anything but this, forever. Hell on Earth -- a fitting punishment. And still less than he deserves, he thinks.

Then, the sun bursts through those clouds in the form of a sunny girl named Buffy Anne Summers, who just so happens to be the newest Chosen One. The Guardian standing between Humanity and "the vampires, the demons, and the forces of darkness". Quite against her will, and definitely outside her skill level, all while trying to maintain a "normal life".

The Slayer. And as inevitably happens in tragic love stories, he is instantly smitten by her, and overwhelmed with the urge to help her as she faces what he knows will be an ugly battle – because he used to be a soldier in evil's army. Angel suddenly finds the urge to make something of himself.

His Destiny, the Whistler tells him.

Buffy is the embodiment of goodness to Angel. The polar opposite of everything he is that he despises. Someone who is supposed to hate and kill him actually *cares* about him. Trusts him. Gives herself to him. Can you imagine anything more precious to a suffering creature than the love of someone he considers above him? Perfect Happiness, indeed.

And in less flowery terms, you could say he admires her heart, her courage, her abilities as a warrior. (No doubt her baby-butt soft skin and vanilla and sunshine scent don't hurt, not to mention the yummy mystical heroin pumping through her tasty veins like self-prepared gourmet take-out – lots of room for humor, darkness and depravity here as well, if that's your thing.). She makes him feel worthy of the second chance he's been given to do good in the world. For a long time, she is the only thing that keeps him going. Later, she is the reason he leaves what has become his home and sets off to find his own destiny. He loves her so much that he wants her to have a better life -- which he believes she can only have without him. He gives up part of his fondest dream – becoming human again – to prolong her life (or he believes) . When he receives news of her death, he leaves the country with barely a word, and spends three months coming to grips with his bitterness, grief and survivor guilt. By the end of his story, Buffy's emotional worth to him is superceded only by that of his son.

What about Buffy's point of view? Well, let's face it: in the beginning, she is a horny teenager who sees a obscenely hot guy and turns to goo. It's not that profound. Somewhere between the Hell and the High Water, though, she falls deeply in love with Angel. She grows to admire and respect him, and feels protective toward him in spite of what he was and what he'd done. Even when she finds out they're natural enemies, and that she's supposed to kill him. Even after she finds out he was once a vicious monster. Even after she discovers that they can't make love, because she makes him so happy that he loses his soul and turns back into that monster. Even after his soulless alter ego tries half-heartedly to kill her and then whole-heartedly to get the world sucked into Hell with her (and him) in it. Even after she is forced to send him to that Hell to save the world, even though he's just regained his soul and told her that he loves her too; even after he comes back and they play Come Here, Go Away for a year. Even after he breaks her heart, she kills her sister Slayer to feed him her blood, fails, and so almost dies saving him with her own blood, and even after he leaves her without saying goodbye and moves to Los Angeles and builds a life without her and yells at her and beats up her boyfriend and she dies without Angel at her side and comes back feeling more dead than ever, and she sleeps with Spike, and then Spike tries to rape her and gets a soul, and then Angel comes back and acts like Dawson Leary...

She still drops everything and flies into his arms when he asks if she's happy to see him.

By the end, they are old and battled-scarred, separated by seemingly still impossible odds, insurmountable issues, time and space, years of separate lives, other lovers, a bleak and probably short future, unspoken resentments and old, still-bleeding scars...

But here I still am, shipping them. And up to the last season of Angel, there they still were, loving each other. It's not a question of won or lost, lived or died, happy-ever-after or ambiguous-fence-sitting. It's not about whether I can convince you that B/A is worth shipping. To me, it's about this:

All the way through, Buffy and Angel cared deeply about one another. They moved on, got over, shuffled around one another, died and came back to life, and still they were connected. Their lives continued to intersect at important points, and ran curiously parallel the rest of the time. They've experienced other loves and other losses, but have never truly left the other behind, or gotten them out of their heart.

In the end, there was still hope for our heroes. We don't *know* if Angel really died in NFA. We don't know that Buffy didn't show up and help him fight the dragon, and afterward, they started talking about what they could do to start to fix things between them. You can't say they did, but in the grand denial tradition, you can't say they *didn't*, either. And that is the legacy we as shippers were left with. To carry on the story the way it plays in our hearts and minds. Yay for fanfic!

How can we not keep writing fanfic? They have so much in common now that Buffy and Angel are better suited for one another than they ever were in the days of graveyard smoochie-thons. Both have had time to learn and grow. They've embraced their responsibilities and accepted their duties, while completely changing what they assumed was their Destiny, and thus, taking power and control over their own lives. They've both raised children... sort of. (I mean, sort-of raised sort-of children.) They've both died and come back a few times. One's been to Heaven, the other Hell. Both lead their large, constructed families and the teams for their respective missions and carry that double weight on their backs alone, for the most part. She's seen more of the dark side – including her own – and come to terms with it. He's accepted that he's worth more than just a sword arm and eventually another stint in Hell. They have the ability, now, to take one another down off those old "first love" pedestals, and maybe grow just as close to the flawed, complicated beings they've grown into and now have a unique opportunity to get to know each other again as the heroes and adults they've become.

Underneath and in spite of all the baggage, there's a level of understanding between these two warriors that no one else who cares about them could ever achieve. Only they have stood at the front of that army and known they're about to die, and take most if not all of that army with them. Only they understand that when all else fails, they are the bottom line, the last hope for the world. And, though it's been beaten down and repressed over the years, they share a hope that someday a miracle could happen, and the Fates will be kind enough to bring them together the way they always wanted to be. Neither of them can wish it aloud anymore, but it still shines in their eyes when they look at one another.

I guess if you asked me, "Why do you ship B/A?", and I boiled all those complicated and's if's and but's down, I'm left with this simple -- but never easy – response:

Because every hero's heart deserves a home, and in the entire canon of either series, I have never seen either Buffy or Angel want, need or trust anyone or anything quite the way they want need and trust each other. And I think they deserve that much, at the very least.

Yup, it really is that plain for me. (Realistic or not is another question entirely.)

Damn it, now I'm all snuffly again. Some things never change.

In conclusion: Did I forget The Pretty? Yeah. There's that too. Big, dark, strapping lad; teeny tiny blonde girly-girl... you know the drill. Enforced celibacy (or the end thereof) also a big boost for the UST (or the RST). Supernatural strength and agility makes for interesting porn. As does bloodplay. *G*

~

Appendices:

B/A Resources:

Don't let the muttering fool you – there's a ton of good B/A fic out there.

The Top Five Classic Fics in B/A-dom, according to Ducks:

1. Anything by Harpy (http://harpy.bitchenvy.com) is a must for the beginning B/A reader, but for an especially poignant taste of Old School nostalgia, Buffy's Diary (http://harpy.bitchenvy.com/diary.html) can't be beat.
2. Phoenix Rising by Yahtzee (http://www.thechicagoloop.net/yahtzee/insect/insectfic/PhoenixIndex.htm) - futurefic
3. Bittersweet Legacy by Vatrixsta Cruden – Alternate Reality http://www.landofdenial.com/fic/VatrixstaCruden/chill.html
4. Storming Heaven by Margot LeFaye: -- Alternate Reality. How far will Angel go to bring Buffy back from the dead after The Gift? (Alt. BtvS Season 6) http://pages.prodigy.net/leighschneider/margotsfemfic.htm
5. The Silken Cage Series by Margot LeFaye – B/Aus Classic/Old School, WIP (still updating) http://pages.prodigy.net/leighschneider/margotsfemfic.htm

My Fic:
If people ask me what my favorite of my B/A fics are, I'll give them this list:

1. Bringing Him Back -- http://www.geocities.com/ducksfanfic/adult/bhb/
2. The Something Old Series – http://somethingold.basiamille.com
3. Worlds of Longing -- http://www.geocities.com/the_anti_joss/wol/
4. Demangent (co-written w/Vatrixsta Cruden, WIP never finished) -- http://www.basiamille.com/adult/Demangent/
5. Stages of Grief -- http://www.basiamille.com/fic/stage1.html


Fic Sites:

The Naughty Slayer (http://naugtyslayer.bitchenvy.com) – Old School Smutty Goodness
Land of Denial (http://www.landofdenial.com) – home of fic from the notorious BA_Fluff list. Everything B/A under the sun.
Chrislee's Octaves of the Heart "Good Words" Rec page: http://www.octavesoftheheart.com/goodwords.htm. She lists some of the finest B/A authors there (and she's one of them)
Starkitty's Adult Archive: http://starrkitty.150m.com/
The ChosenFics Rec Archive: http://chosenfics.com/ (Check out Pigpimping's Mr. Winky fics. Hee.)

Other B/A Resources:

B/A Fanlisting: http://forces-of-insanity.com/eaf/
Blood Roses: http://roses.darkstarfic.com/
Remember Me: http://www.onthefringe.org/remember/
Forever, That's the Whole Point: http://lavender.fortunecity.com/brett/671/forever.index.html
As I Close My Eyes (One of the oldest, I think): http://right-as-rain.net/ba/
Ducks' Babble Board (http://p216.ezboard.com/ftheducksversefrm1)/Ducks' B/A Fanfic Board (http://p216.ezboard.com/ftheducksversefrm2)
Romance On BtVS: (http://www.romance-on-btvs.com/) all the screenshots and pics you could ever wish for. There since the beginning.
A Moment's Thought: (http://www.stuck-in-the-middle.com/moments/) An even bigger gallery

Related LiveJournal Interests/Searches:
B/A, A/B, Buffy/Angel, Angel/Buffy, B/A Shipper


I'm always willing to discuss B/A or answer any questions you might have about the ship or any of my fics. (I've retired from arguing/debating, however, sorry. Also? I've read every possible flame, insult, hate mail, death threat and curse, so save those for somebody who won't point, laugh, and immediately share them with the general public. :)

ducksfanfic@yahoo.com

OMG!!! B/A OTP 4EVA!
Thanks to elucidate_this, amorousfear, and southernbangel for the priceless, immense and sparkly help, and to spren_cious for the awesome challenge!

Comments

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<<[1] [2] [3] >>
Yeah, baby. Oh. Yeah.
And you're using that icon that always makes me cry! *hugs you madly*
Beautifully done! You explored the pairing with dignity and humour and humanised its epic nature.

I was a B/A 'shipper in the early days before I even knew what a 'shipper was; it was the first romance on the show, it was the first tragedy; what's not to love? If I became less so over time, it doesn't change the memory of the shock of watching Angel turn or the tears I shed during Becoming or when Buffy's perfect day ended.
It's funny to hear people -- shipper or no -- talk about how Becoming tears them apart. That kind of pain is universal, suppose.

Thank you so much for reading and feeding back. I'm glad you liked it!
Awww. This made me cry. I love you.
I've been crying on and off the whole time I wrote it, so it's only fair! *hugs you

Thanks, baby. I love you too.
Because every hero's heart deserves a home, and in the entire canon of either series, I have never seen either Buffy or Angel want, need or trust anyone or anything quite the way they want need and trust each other. And I think they deserve that much, at the very least.

This is almost the exact reason I recently gave for being a B/A shipper (although my words weren't as pretty). What it all boils down to for me is that they make each other happy, they want each other, and I think both of them deserve to get what they want and be happy for once. I would have liked to have gotten to see them get to know each other and fall in love again on screen, but I'll just have to rely on fanfic for that.

Nice essay sweets.
Thanks, darlin. So let's get writin'! :)
Giving it a form that's palatable to everyone, while capturing the ship in all its melodramatic, epic, angsty, hopeful/hopeless glory is a lot like... walking uphill on my hands. Backwards. While very, very drunk.

BWAH!


That's the essential pull of them – the claddaugh personified. Love, loyalty and friendship. Basic, simple, tender affection. A gut-level draw to one another that defies the natural order of things, making you hope that maybe, just this once, love *can* conquer all. All set to a backdrop of horror, violence and death that seems like it should make such feelings impossible.

Yes! Yes! Yes!


How can we not keep writing fanfic? They have so much in common now that Buffy and Angel are better suited for one another than they ever were in the days of graveyard smoochie-thons.... Only they understand that when all else fails, they are the bottom line, the last hope for the world. And, though it's been beaten down and repressed over the years, they share a hope that someday a miracle could happen, and the Fates will be kind enough to bring them together the way they always wanted to be. Neither of them can wish it aloud anymore, but it still shines in their eyes when they look at one another.

Have I told you lately that I love you?


Damn it, now I'm all snuffly again. Some things never change.

Aw, me too.


In conclusion: Did I forget The Pretty? Yeah. There's that too. Big, dark, strapping lad; teeny tiny blonde girly-girl... you know the drill. Enforced celibacy (or the end thereof) also a big boost for the UST (or the RST). Supernatural strength and agility makes for interesting porn. As does bloodplay. *G*

::snerk::



That was amazing. Thank you. At the center is the hope, isn't it? ::sigh::

Please don't mind me, I'm going to stalk you now.
Cool. Bring donuts. ;)

Thank you for the feedback.

Bravo. As Kita mentioned, I don't know what you were worrying about. That was fantastic and you expressed so eloquently all the reasons why I love B/A and always will. You rock.
Thanks, Steph. I'm starting to discover that I always freak out over challenges, and then buckle down to work. It was just REALLY important to me to get this right! I'm so glad you liked it. *hugs you*
Oh, man, absolutely beautiful.

*sigh* B/A, my mostest beloved OTP in the entire Jossverse. Thank you for saying it so well.
DUCKS!! You did it again!!

*squee*

Love it, sweet! Pimping it like a fool in my lj. This says so much more eloquently than I ever could about why I love the B/A pairing so much. Most of my reasons come down to "teh prettah." *G*

Great job!! ::hugs::
I'm a Spuffy through and through, but that was a wonderful essay! Applause!!
That's a HUGE compliment! Thank you so much! :)
Of course, love doesn't conquer all. We know that in real life, and Buffy and Angel learn it themselves -- the hard way. The emotional punch of this relationship is that we learn it again, painfully and violently, right along with them.
*sniff* I'm another who shipped B/A originally, years ago before I discovered fandom (and slash, heh) or knew what a shipper was. I've said that I'm not really a B/A 'shipper anymore, but that's just not true. I'll always love it because of the tragedy, the epic nature, the . . . gah, the pure emotion. No matter how I feel about other ships involving either character (and there are other ships that I love) I will never be able to watch 'Becoming' or IWRY without tearing up. Excellently, excellently written.
[stands up and applauds]

BRAVA! BRAVA!

and I'm a little weepy, too.
*hands you a tissue* Thank you. :) I've been sniffling on and off since I started writing it!
I love it, but then, you already knew that :)

My manifesto would have been 'OMG they're so cute together!' and that would have been the end of it. But you've gone above and beyond in explaining why B/A are OMGTHACOOLESTEVAH!!11twenty-four!
This was just lovely. You somehow managed to take a peek into my mind, make sense of all the nonsense that dwells in there and put it into words that people can actually understand.

Thank you.
Thank you for reading and feeding back. You can have your brain back now. ;) *smooch*
Lovely, darling. Just lovely.

I have to believe, that as Buffy stared down that road in Chosen, she was seeing her future. That she was seeing Angel.

Because she was smiling.

Our girl smiled.

*sniff*

I love you. You killed me with this essay.

I love you too, sister old-timer. *squorshes you*

Thank you! :)
This was wonderful, Ducks.

Exactly what I need right now.

*sniff*
*hugs you* Thanks. :)
That really was quite brilliant. Logical and passionate all at once. You paint a poignant picture.

Because every hero's heart deserves a home

Dude. This deserves an icon. So. I got the urge. I hope you like it.



I made a B/A. Dude. It has to be all that Margot LaFaye fic I've been reading lately...
SQUEEE! *jumps up and down*

*then goggles in shock*

YOU made B/A! I LOVE IT! *squorshes you* Thank you so much for the prezzie and the feedback!
AH Ducks, that was ABSOLUTELY fantastic. You blew me away. I expected it to be amazing...cuz well YOU wrote it. But this? This?

This is just the epitome of why I'm a B/Aer. No bullshit. Plain, simple.

~A nostalgic Karla *sob*
*hugs you fiercely, also sobbing* Thank you. I'm all squishy and nostalgic, too!
Gah. I'm just bursting with love right now. I'm feeling it, baby.

*runs off to pimp*
*squorshes you* Thanks, baby! And for the icon, too. :)

Essay

Bravo dear. That was great. I loved it.

Will highly recommend. *g*

Re: Essay

Thanks, honey. Feel free to share. :)
I'm one of those few, those precious, fanfic readers who don't have an OTP. I read almost all the pairings, and "get" almost all of them.

I appreciate your including fanfic sites in your manifesto; it makes it easier to find "the good stuff", and gives a "non-OTPer" like myself some good sites for those reading nights when I'm in an Angel/Buffy mood.

I've read a few Angel/Buffy stories; some I've liked; some I haven't. The ones I have liked, like Leni_ba's and Vatrixta Cruden's and Chrislee's have been very good, and have given me much enjoyment.
Ducks you did a good job. Well done.
Thank you. You know how I toiled -- I'm glad it came out all right. *hugs you*

B/A manifesto

*sniffle* That was absolutely beautiful hun. I love how articulate you are and wish I could be half as good at expressing myself. The easiest way I've found to explain why nothing will ever top B/A for me in the Whedonverse is because I love Buffy and Angel and they were at their best when they were together. In reality, there's more to it and you manage to say it for me so well.
Loce,
your B/A fanfic 'ho

Re: B/A manifesto

*massive hugging* Thanks baby. I had to struggle a LOT to be even that clear. I'm so glad you liked it!
Smooch...........You have again blown my socks off. You got to the heart and soul of our couple with such ease.

I will just have to to quote Wayne and Garth:

"I'm not worthy. I'm not worthy."

Loce ya babee
*squorshes you* Thanks, baby!
Wow wow, what a great essay. Ditto to *everything* everyone else has said. I've always loved B/A, and despite times when my own heart almost gave up, I didn't. For some reason, I just couldn't, and I'm sure it's because when it comes down to it, you're right, B/A is about hope. Thank you so much for saying such beautiful things about B/A.
You're welcome! Thank you for reading, honey! :)
Excellent job, I don't think I could begin to describe why I ship B/A.

Season 4 was the first season I'd watched and I actually didn't hate B/R but the few minutes of interaction between Buffy and Angel in 'the Yoko factor' was enough to make me a B/A shipper. Then I watched the first 3 seasons and fall completely in love with this ship.

I really loved you essay; you explain why this ship is so amazing so eloquently.
Thank you! I'm glad you liked it!
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