Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Pairing: Warren Mears/Andrew Wells
Spoilers: Buffy season 6 and 7.
Notes: More thanks than you can imagine go out to fabricatedvoice for all her help and her beta of this. Literally, this would be completely unreadable without her assistance.
Around a year or so ago, I had never seen a single episode of Buffy and had no interest in doing so. I regarded it as a horror show, and I’m the kind of person who gets scared of the movie “Scream.” It wasn’t exactly on my To-Watch List.
Then I made a friend in a different fandom who tried to entice me into watching the show and I agreed to watch the pilot. I wasn’t impressed, to be honest.
Then I found out that there was a musical. If there is one thing I can’t resist, it’s a musical. I even liked Grease 2. So I immediately viewed the episode and came to one conclusion. Joss Whedon, whoever he was (at the time, I didn’t know. Shame on me!), was a freaking genius and I had to see this show. I immediately ordered all 7 seasons on DVD from Amazon, and nearly died in the wait for the series to arrive. Once it did, “devoured” does not even come close to describing what I did with the show.
In short, I found out that my assumptions about Buffy being nothing more than a horror show were completely, horribly, ridiculously wrong, and I immediately retracted that statement. I found out that it was about characters and situations that everyone experiences on an everyday basis, and things we can all relate to.
But mostly, I related to season 6, which from what I’ve gathered, is one of the least-loved. But for me, it was the one I could relate to the most. Willow dealing with addiction? Most of us have a friend or family member who has gone through some form of addiction, even if it’s just to cigarettes. Buffy’s disinterest in life and wish to just go back to Heaven? Most people, at some point, experience the feeling that maybe life just isn’t worth living. Knowing that you need to let someone go for their benefit, no matter how much it hurts you? Yeah, we’ve all been there, too.
I latched onto that season because I could identify.
But the thing is, I’ve never died, been resurrected, and been so desperate to feel something that I had to sleep with a vampire I hate. Nor have I ever slept with my boyfriend for the first time, only to have him turn into an evil demon who kills and tortures my friends. I haven’t ever dated a thousand-year-old ex-vengeance demon, either. And the last time I checked, my non-existent girlfriend and I aren’t witches.
So, even though I can watch and enjoy Buffy/Spike, Buffy/Angel, Xander/Anya, or Willow/Tara, I can’t really relate. I can enjoy them, but I can’t say, “Oh, I know what that’s like on a personal level.”
But you know what? I’ve had meta-arguments with my friends reminiscent of the “Who’s the best Bond?” debacle. I’ve been a Mac-using computer geek. I have, in short, been The Trio.
Even the “coolest” Buffy fan is still…well, a Buffy fan. And what do Buffy fans do? They go to fan conventions. They have lengthy discussions over if the Shanshu Prophecy meant Angel or Spike. And yes, they read and write essays like this one. Which means, as cool as they may be… they’re still meta-loving geeks at heart. And that’s what makes us so great, right?
Like it or not, there is something in The Trio that we can identify with. Whether it’s Andrew’s need to be accepted or Jonathan’s wish to make everyone think he’s cool, or even Warren’s desire to show up those who once tormented him, we can identify with these characters. They are us.
For me, it’s my inner Andrew. I relate to that character on levels I never have with any other character in any of my other fandoms. He is me, only with the added ability to summon demons. And because I identify so strongly with him, I want things to work out for him. I want him to be happy.
It’s clear to anyone who’s even looked at the show that Andrew is in love with Warren. Even the actors are willing to admit it. In this video interview with the BBC, both Tom and Adam hint that they believe there was something between Warren and Andrew, and at one point, Danny comes right out and says, “I think they got it on.” Even if he was joking, he is still, by the sheer fact that he’s saying it to begin with, implying that there’s enough in canon for him to jump to that conclusion.
And if Warren and Andrew can find love, albeit geeky, arguing-over-Timothy-Dalton-versus-Sean-C
But getting someone to see why Warren and Andrew deserve a manifesto is really difficult. Even amongst my Buffy-loving friends, I’m pretty much the outcast. I mean…who could love these two? Warren killed Tara! Andrew killed Jonathan! These two are terrible!
Yeah. They are. And that’s precisely why I like them. They are terrible. But that just means they’re screwed up. Most people don’t want to read an essay or watch a show about two perfect characters who meet, fall in love, are completely normal, and live happily ever after without any complications. That’s not exciting. It’s not interesting. As much as we all want our characters to be happy and idealistic, we get bored when they are. Some of the most romantic stories ever told aren’t about grand romances with flowers and cupcakes, but rather about two screwed up people who find…something with each other, that, for whatever reason, works for them.
That’s what Warren/Andrew offers to me. It offers me a break from idealism, and gets complicated and messy and wrong. It’s not a pristine relationship. It involves treachery, manipulation, and more than a slight D/s theme.
I’m not going to lie here. They’re screwed up. One’s a psychotic misogynist and the other is a perpetual ten-year-old. Trying to get someone to understand this pairing is like trying to take them on a journey through two incredibly messed up psyches and then showing them that they don’t work in spite of the dysfunction, but because of it.
Warren Mears has never been a character that you could view as normal. From the first time he was seen, having created a sexbot that he insisted was much more than that, to his death at the hands of Willow Rosenberg, there was always something off about him. Maybe it was his affinity for robots. Maybe it was the fact that he murdered his ex-girlfriend after she realized he was using a mind-control device on her to make her his sex slave. Whatever it was, there was always something not quite sane in his voice, something strange in his eye. He was, in my opinion, one of the most intriguingly written and well-acted characters in the entire Buffy universe. From his desire to assert his power over women (“Dead Things” 6x13, “Seeing Red” 6x19), to his incredibly selfish sense of entitlement (“I Was Made to Love You” 5x15, “Villains” 6x20), to his ability to keep his head in the most serious of situations (“Dead Things” 6x13, “Villains” 6x20), whether you hate him or not, you still have to ask yourself, What the hell is he thinking?
Andrew Wells is a character who, despite all his jokes and geekiness, actually has some deep-rooted issues hidden underneath. From the moment he is introduced and nobody can remember his name, it’s clear that Andrew has issues due to lack of attention and living in his brother’s shadow. As his time on the series progresses, these issues grow and change and take on new manifestations, first in his hero-worship of the clearly psychotic Warren (“Seeing Red” 6x19), then in the murder of Jonathan (“Conversations With Dead People” 7x07), and finally in his complete inability to stop telling stories (“Storyteller” 7x16). Andrew Wells is a twelve year old trapped in a 20-year-old’s body. And somewhere underneath his childish behavior and Spongebob t-shirts, there is a deeply confused and conflicted person that he’s too afraid to let out.
As my friend and beta Fab advised me when I was writing this essay, Warren and Andrew aren’t about what’s said. They’re about what isn’t said. Their entire relationship can be seen in Andrew’s eyes, but it’s hard to get that across in an essay, so let’s look at what is said.
There are hints in almost every season six episode that there’s something going on, starting with this exchange in “Life Serial”:
JONATHAN: I need you to hold hands.
(Warren holds out his hand to Andrew, who recoils.)
ANDREW: With each other?
WARREN: Well, you know what homophobia really means about you, don't you? - “Life Serial” 6x05
This is important, because, while it’s played for a joke at the time, when you watch it later, with the knowledge presented in “Seeing Red,” it suddenly becomes something far more important. It shows that Warren’s not stupid, and he’s not completely thick. He’s observant and he picks up on what’s around him. This is the earliest sign of him picking up on the fact that Andrew could be swayed through romantic means from him.
Armed with this knowledge, that he could use this to his advantage, it’s no surprise that after Andrew takes his side at the end of “Dead Things,” Warren saw his opportunity and swooped in.
But the first time there’s a major, textual hint at something more between Warren and Andrew comes during the episode “Normal Again,” when a suspicious Jonathan asks where the two of them have been off by themselves. While Warren explains, Andrew looks on with nervous apprehension, and something else. Something…longing…in his eyes.
Even without looking at the subtext of this scene, it’s clear that there’s something going on between Warren and Andrew that they are hiding from Jonathan. Textually, it is their plan to betray him. But subtextually, in the stuff that, like Fab said, isn’t spoken, could there be something…more? It’s obvious that Andrew is at least willing to experiment with his gay-side, given that he later agrees with Xander about mentally undressing Scott Bakula (“First Date” 7x14), and he’s more entranced by Spike than by Anya during the sex scene in “Entropy”.
For a guy who spent every episode up until then agreeing with Jonathan and taking his side over Warren’s, Andrew’s suddenly got some pretty deep-rooted loyalty to Warren Mears. So the question is, ”What the hell happened between ‘Dead Things’ and ‘Normal Again’ to make him side with Warren so suddenly?”
The answer comes two episodes later, when a distraught and crying Andrew is being led into a police station after he and Jonathan failed to escape with Warren after a confrontation with Buffy. Jonathan is angry now that he knows Andrew and Warren were planning to betray him, and Andrew is broken-hearted that Warren fled without him.
ANDREW: (crying) How could he do this to me? He promised we'd be together, but...he was just using me. He never really loved— (off Jonathan’s look) —hanging out with us. - “Seeing Red” 6x19
When Warren doesn’t immediately come to rescue Andrew from jail, it’s pretty clear that he doesn’t care for Andrew as much as Andrew cares for him. But at the same time, he did give Andrew a fully-functioning jet pack for him to escape with—a courtesy that he did not extend to fellow Trio member Jonathan. It was only through Andrew’s own ineptitude that he didn’t escape with Warren.
Even Jonathan realizes what’s going on. While the two of them wile away in jail, not knowing that Warren has murdered Tara and tried to kill Buffy, or that Willow has gone Dark and killed Warren for revenge, Andrew insists that Warren will come back for him. He loves Warren so unconditionally, that even after Warren abandoned him to jail, he still trusts what Warren said. That they’d “be together.” He begins checking for hidden implanted transmitters in his body to prove that this is all just a test. From “Two to Go”:
JONATHAN: Hey, Warren, do you read me? Your girlfriend's pathetic. Over.
ANDREW: […] You were out of the Trio a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away and you know why, little feller? No respect for the chain of command.
JONATHAN: Yeah, see how far it's gotten you. Checking every hole in your sad little body for transmitters that don't exist. - “Two to Go” 6x21
So the question then becomes not whether Andrew loved Warren, but did Warren really love Andrew? Part of me wants to say no. Warren’s entire history suggests not. First of all, he’d never previously shown any interest at all in same-sex relations. Even if you find a way to write off his obsession with Buffy or his feelings for Katrina, there’s just no denying that with all the time and work he must’ve put into building his sexbot, April (“I Was Made to Love You” 5x15), if he had really wanted a boybot, he’d have made her that way. Secondly, it’s always been clear that Warren was a good manipulator (“Dead Things” 6x13, “Normal Again,” 6x17, etc). And finally, rather than coming to help Andrew in jail, Warren chose to commit murder (“Seeing Red” 6x19). So really, the odds are stacked against any of us who want to believe that Warren had any actual feelings for Andrew.
On the other hand, Andrew has a lot of qualities that Warren needs. Where Katrina was dominant and stood her own against him (“I Was Made to Love You” 5x15, “Dead Things” 6x13), Andrew is submissive and allows Warren to take charge, something that he so clearly craves (in “Two to Go” 6x21, Andrew tells Jonathan that he likes “taking orders”). Andrew is devoted to him, in every way possible. He would literally kill for Warren in “Conversations With Dead People,” (7x07) even if that meant murdering his only friend. And for all his backstabbing and manipulating, Warren does see the value in loyalty. Why else would he, upon seeing that Jonathan was having second thoughts about The Trio, immediately pull Andrew on his side and make sure, through whatever means, that he would stay that way?
Granted, none of these qualities are particularly healthy. One could argue that by being so submissive and allowing Warren’s dominance, Andrew’s nothing more than an enabler for Warren’s psychotic behavior, but that’s really not the point. The point is that Warren wouldn’t see it that way. He would see these things as positive traits in Andrew that he would be drawn to. He even shows a sort of grudging like towards Andrew. He may not have loved Andrew as much as Andrew loved him, but he did like the guy, at least a little bit. Like this conversation in “Entropy,” where Andrew is being completely clueless and Warren tries to explain things to him calmly. Whereas, if Jonathan had just asked that, Warren would’ve snapped at him angrily. But Warren was almost always patient with Andrew and there was never malice in his voice.
ANDREW: Is it gonna be that soon?
WARREN: The milk. In the fridge. How long 'til it expires?
ANDREW: Well, we got it on Friday, and I remember noticing there wasn't a full two weeks on it, (Warren rolling his eyes) but we did get it in the fridge pretty quick, unless I'm thinking of the two-percent milk...
WARREN: Forget it. It was a thing. (explaining calmly) It's gonna be soon.
ANDREW: (pretending to get it) Oh. Wow. - “Entropy” 6x18
Warren wants someone to dominate, and Andrew is a ready-made target who’s more than happy to submit to Warren’s every whim, which makes him someone that Warren wouldn't mind having around.
Andrew is so devoted to Warren that when The First shows up wearing Warren’s skin and asks him to murder his best friend, saying that it’ll be okay for all three of them, he does. His devotion to Warren is so complete that even after he dies, Andrew still continues to follow his orders, as seen in the following quote from “Conversations With Dead People” 7x07.
ANDREW: Do you have any idea how hard it's been to act this cool?
WARREN: Calm down, you're doing great. All specs are within parameters.
ANDREW: You keep leaving me. I hate it when you leave me.
WARREN: Hey, don't worry. If short round pulls off his end of the bargain, we'll both become gods.
ANDREW: That boy is our last hope. - "Conversations With Dead People" 7x07
Clearly, Andrew is letting his feelings for Warren cloud his judgment.
But in “Storyteller,” he reveals that he knew that it wasn’t Warren, so why did he murder Jonathan if he knew it wasn’t really Warren? Because he wanted it to be. Because he cared about Warren so much that he wanted to believe that Warren had come back to him. Andrew’s the type of guy who’s just enough of a hopeless romantic to believe that if he wishes hard enough, all his dreams will come true. And his dream was for Warren to be alive, to come back to him, and he was willing to pay any price for that. Even if it meant murdering his best friend. Combine his desire for Warren to return, and some of the flattering things that The First said to him as Warren such as:
ANDREW: Oh, Gosh. Gosh, I'm glad to see you.
WARREN/FIRST: Me too. You're looking good.
ANDREW: (touches his face and chest bashfully) Am I? I...probably have pillow creases.
WARREN/FIRST: No, no, it's good. You're a man on the run. You got kind of a wild, desperate thing going. - “Storyteller” 7x16
It was probably very easy for him to delude himself into thinking that it was really Warren, and that he could really trust what he was saying.
But the truth is, if you want proof of just exactly what Warren felt for Andrew, all you have to do is go back to that jet pack. He did give Andrew one. And it did work. For all his talk, for all the eye-rolling Warren had done, he still gave Andrew a working jetpack, still gave him the chance to come with him. And that means something.
Like Fab told me. Warren and Andrew aren’t about what’s said. They aren’t about what you can see, or what meets the eye. They’re about deconstructing the psyches of two very screwed up boys and realizing what their interactions mean. In this case…I think it means loss, hope, and yeah, love.
I could whine for days at how all the Warren/Andrew and Trio sites are either down or haven't been updated in years, but it would do no good. It's a rare pairing, the show ended almost four years ago, and a decline in activity is to be expected. Hmph. That said, these are all sites that are at least still up and contain W/A content.
Archnemesississes - Trio fansite that includes video clips, LJ icons, a Trio moodtheme, and "Boy Next Door," a movie co-starring Tom Lenk.
Misunderstood - A Warren fansite that includes fanfiction (mostly Warren/Andrew) and a lot more.
Down With the Sickness - A Warren/Andrew fansite that includes fanfiction, essays, and more.
Love Fool - An essay about Andrew's personal relationships, with a heavy focus on Warren.
Always - The TFL.org-approved fanlisting for Warren/Andrew. (And I'm proud to say that I run it. :-D)
This is a list of some of my favorite fics in the W/A genre. It is by no means a comprehensive list. (Also, I realize that these are mostly R & NC-17 stories, and in my defense, I would just like to reiterate that their relationship is very much a D/s one, and it's almost impossible to write it in-character without at least hitting an R rating.)
From Here to St. Tropez | PG by emony. So few people can pull off an "Andrew escaped with Warren and they fled from Sunnydale together, just like they planned, so what happened next?" AU fic without completely taking Warren out of character. This is the only one I've ever read that has managed it.
Under Glass | PG-13 by Tastic the Fantastic. There really aren't words to describe how good this fic is. It is so undeniably Warren and how he feels about Andrew that I just can't put it into words. So I'll just quote this line from it: Sometimes when he was like that, smiling at me like I was God's gift, I'd think about my old collection, beautiful little insects, perfectly preserved under glass. I'd think about keeping him like that, maybe with the freeze-ray, happy and smiling forever, with a clear layer of ice over his skin. Untouchable.
Hell is Other People | R by vanilla_tiger. Warren. After “Villains". That's pretty much all I can say.
Anatomy of a Murderer | R by fabricatedvoice. Fab is one of those people who just gets Warren in a way that sometimes it's a little scary. This one, in particular, is so good that I just can't do anything but quote this line at you to make you see why: Maybe that's why he treats Andrew the way he does; plying Andrew with the very same words and acts that had made him fall in love with Katrina. The same things that had made him hurt, made him vulnerable... made him weak. Warren was never going to be weak again. It was the world's turn now to cower in fear. The world owed him that much.
Fucking in the Dark | NC-17 by Moonloon. Andrew is Warren's master plan, in miniature. This is one of those fics that when you read it, it suddenly clicks for you, and you understand everything with perfect clarity, both in the fic, and in canon.
Memory | NC-17 by mmicolia. Set a few days after "I Was Made to Love You," Warren tries to get over Katrina by getting high with Andrew. I really like this fic. There are all sorts of reasons to like it, but what stands out for me is the perfection of how the author captures Warren's feelings for Katrina, and by extension, his personality. It's a really good insightful piece.