deird1: Kennedy looking stubborn, with text "And you'll be stopping me... how?" (Kennedy stopping me how)
[personal profile] deird1
The Remix has gone public, so I'm now allowed to claim my own. Here it is.

Title: The Ropes (the Once And Again Upon A Time remix)
Rating: G
Word Count: 2620

Original Story: Ear Full of Cider by M. Scott Eiland

Summary: Every Watcher has something new to learn.

The Ropes (the Once And Again Upon A Time remix)

“A girl.” Crispus’ voice was flatly sceptical.


“One single girl.”

“That is what I said.”

Crispus ran a hand through his hair, with an exasperated air. “Yes, but that doesn’t make it any more sane.”

Servius sat calmly, watching Crispus stride around the atrium. “Well, you asked.”

Crispus snorted.

“You came in here not ten minutes ago, and asked – no, demanded an explanation as to how the Order planned to rid the valley of the minotaur, and I told you. Very politely, I might add.”

“You can’t seriously expect me to think–”

“Apparently not,” Servius said under his breath.

Crispus stopped pacing and glared at him. “I sent five of my best men after it. Five gladiators. And they lasted less than a single night before the minotaur devoured them all. Do you really think a slip of a girl can do better?”

“She’s not exactly an ordinary girl.”

“You said.” Crispus picked up his cup and took a short sip, before returning to his point. “Endowed by the gods with speed and strength or not, there is just no way that a simple slave girl could best even three gladiators, let alone something like this minotaur.”

“Would you like to wager on that?”

Crispus frowned. “What?”

“Say, ten denarii?” Servius stood up, gesturing vaguely in the direction of the stadium. “Surely you must have three gladiators to spare.”

“To test against your demigoddess?” Crispus asked sardonically.

Servius smiled. “Why not? And while we’re watching them fight, I can tell you more about our Order, and you can decide if you’re interested in joining us.”

“Why not?” Crispus shrugged, and finished his wine. “I’ve nothing else to do this afternoon.”

“Excellent.” Servius turned to the nearest slave. “Go fetch Marcella. It’ll be a nice warm-up for her. Plus, she’s about to win me ten denarii.”

Personal Assessment of T. Johns

In many respects, Miss Johns is an excellent student. She is attentive, answers questions promptly, studies her assigned reading thoroughly (including the supplementary texts I have suggested), and writes articulate essays on the topics she is given.

But, as discussed during Tuesday’s meeting, I have some concerns about the particular ideas she seems to be forming from her lessons.

I have in front of me the five essays Miss Johns has submitted to my class over the course of this term. These are: “Fact vs Myth: a study in contrasts”, “Strategies of the Modern Watcher”, “Slayer Katerina Rushkov: the girl becomes the legend”, “Cross-Cultural Alliances: benefits and pitfalls”, and “The Benefit of Hindsight: 17th century Council decisions”. The issues I have raised can be seen quite clearly in some excerpts from these essays. Such as:

Some simple arithmetic will demonstrate this. For example, supposing a professional demon hunter were able to slay an average of one vampire per week. The Slayer, in contrast, would be capable of slaying four or five. In the hypothetical alliance I am describing, the combined group would dispose of seven vampires every week.

Of course, the modern reader will be able to discern elements of myth already creeping into Tsevel’s account. His description of Rushkov’s instinctive fighting style contains several exaggerated – if not entirely fictional – points.

In cases where a previously untrained Slayer is called, the Watcher’s job is yet more challenging. He must train, instruct, and protect the new Slayer until such time as she is skilled enough to handle field assignments alone.

(I have attached the other relevant passages – of which there are many – at the end of this letter.)

In the case of Miss Johns’ “calculations”, I asked her to account for the numbers she had hypothesised for the Slayer. Her reply, as near as I can remember, was “five is a bit high, yes, but I thought I’d better be fair”. An entertaining, if erroneous, interpretation of my question.

Miss Johns is a highly intelligent young woman; a fact which, in this instance, I believe to be something of a handicap. She is used to high level textual analysis, and to challenging the information presented to her by books and teachers. Because of this, she will cheerfully dismiss many texts as “exaggerating” and “mythologising” when what she means is that the information is presented in a somewhat overblown style. Her failure to perceive the accurate substance conveyed underneath this style is leading her to somewhat mistaken conclusions about the capabilities of the average Slayer.

While Miss Johns still has a full year of schooling to complete, I would recommend that this be completed in a somewhat atypical fashion. She would benefit from some time in the field, “apprenticing”, if you will, to a Watcher with a currently active Slayer. Perhaps if Birgit Kirschämmer survives her cruciamentum, Miss Johns could spend part of next year in Munich? I assure you she would be most capable of completing her written work with minimal supervision.

Duncan collapsed into the nearest chair and put his head in his hands. “Beer,” he said, in a muffled voice. “And lots of it.”

The barmaid nodded, and walked over to the bench. That was what you needed in a place like this. Obliging suppliers of drink, without any stupid, worrisome questions.

No time for questions. No time for much of anything.

“Plummer!” A sudden slap on the back nearly smacked Duncan’s face straight into his first pint. The new arrival drew up a chair and cheerfully plumped himself down next to Duncan. “Haven’t seen you in a dog’s age. How’s things?”

He stared at his mug, said flatly, “Things are fine. Just… wonderful.” and took a long, hard gulp.

Sanderson raised an eyebrow. “Say that with a scad more enthusiasm, Plum, and you just might convince an infant. Lady of the moment getting you down?”

“Something like that.”

“Well, don’t hold back. What heartless betrayals have been inflicted on you this week?”

Simply unbearable. Especially now.

Duncan took another sip, and closed his eyes. “Listen, Sanderson, I don’t have the time. I’m rather busy sitting here waiting for the world to end. So, if you don’t mind, go and pester someone else.”

“Ah.” Sanderson beckoned over the barmaid, and looked contemplatively at the provided mug for a minute. Then he cleared his throat and said, “This is a literal end of the world, I take it?”


“What flavour are we talking? Plagues and pestilences? Rising of a death cult? Your common or garden dimensional collapse?”

He felt an hysterical laugh attempting to bubble its way to the surface. “How about the kind where the world actually ends?”

“Oh, hardly as bad as that, Plum, surely,” Sanderson said calmly.

Duncan slammed his beer down on the table. “Yes it is that bad, you idiot! It’s exactly that bad! The demon lords of the Nigreth are rising in Coventry, they’re going to suck the world down in darkness and flames, I’ve done the research, I’ve read every damn thing there is to know about the bloody Nigreth demon lords, and I’m here to tell you it is exactly that bad.”

He was somehow on his feet, shouting. Sanderson pulled him back down and said patiently, “Plummer, this is a public place. At least try to give a nod to the whole secret society concept, there’s a good chap.”

Duncan let out a broken laugh, and drained his mug. “Well, it doesn’t really matter now, does it?”

A brief, blessed silence. Sanderson put another pint in front of him, then sat back and watched him thoughtfully. Duncan tried to ignore him and focus on the beer.

“This your first apocalypse, Plum?”

“Why – how many apocalypses does one universe get?”

“Threatened, not completed. You’ve been assigned for what – a year or so? This the first you’ve been involved in countering?”

He said nothing; just took another drink.

“And I take it the Slayer’s on the way. I mean, Allenby’s not lying down on the job?”

“He sent her. For all the good it’ll do.”

“She is the Slayer, glumguts.”

Duncan glared at him. Sanderson grinned back. “Look – as the veteran of eight apocalypses, allow me to give you the benefit of my wisdom and experience: Assume the worst. Panic yourself into a wild, researching, anything-you-can-throw-at-it fever. Then, send the Slayer after it, assume the best, and go out for drinks. Much the best way.”

How could he be so… calm?

“I did mention the end of the world, didn’t I?”

“You might have, yes.”

“Did you hear the part where the world is ending? Because I was serious, you flippant ass. It’s coming. The Slayer can’t stop it.”

Sanderson raised an eyebrow, then raised his mug. “Bet you five shillings she does.”





They were talking again. Buffy rolled her eyes, and kept walking, watching carefully for any signs of fanginess. You’d think Watchers would at least know how to be sneaky on patrol.

There was a slight rustle from the bushes to her left, and she tensed up for a second. But… nada. Maybe a squirrel. She shrugged, and continued on.

She could still hear them behind her. Mr Travers was complaining about the lack of vamp action. “…may not run across any demons tonight,” Giles said.

Buffy rolled her eyes again. “Well, no, not if you guys keep being loud,” she muttered.

This whole demonstration was a stupid idea. She should have just taken their info and sent them back to England, rather than letting Mr Travers talk her into letting them check out how a real life patrol worked. But he’d been really polite, and she’d been coming down off a sword-throwing high and feeling generous, so she’d said they could tag along. Dumb plan. With her dumb being-nice.

Buffy stopped, mid-internal-rant. There was someone ahead of her. And… almost certainly vampires. She slowly reached into her pocket for a stake, watching for them to come into view.

“…vamps. Four of them, heading right towards…” That was Spike. Buffy allowed herself a half-second to be irritated at the even louder conversation behind her, then tried to focus.

Which… yep. There they were. They hadn’t seen her yet, which would make things easier. She stepped sideways, fading into the surrounding trees. Just one minute, and they’d be right in front of her, ready to be taken by surprise.

…and Spike, unbelievably, was making a bet with the junior Watcher! About her ability to slay things! Loudly! So loudly that the vampires had realised someone was in the cemetery. They’d started heading straight for the tweed brigade. Buffy calmly restrained herself from rolling her eyes even more.

(At least Spike was betting in her favour. Mr Junior Watcher apparently thought twenty seconds wouldn’t be long enough for her to take down four lousy vampires. Jerk.)

And even though they deserved to be bitten for sheer loudness, she still had that whole duty thing. So she stepped out into the path, right into the way of Vamp Number One. He snarled and took a swing at her (and behind her, she heard Giles say quietly “And… time starts now.”).

The first vamp dusted easily, but her stake went flying off into the darkness somewhere, so Buffy had to resort to emergency tree prunage. She was half tempted to move extra slowly, just to show Spike for betting on her – but, let’s face it, he was right about her being good at this stuff, and plus she was still a little annoyed with the Council guys for the whole test thing, so she moved fast, and took the three of them down in one smooth sequence.

Hah. No way could the Council say she was bad at slayage now.

She turned around. “If you’ve all finished making bar-room bets, some of us are here to work,” she called. Giles had the sense to look embarrassed. So did the junior Watcher. Mr Travers… was a bit harder to read.

Buffy walked over to them. Mr Travers nodded at her and said quietly, “An impressive demonstration, Miss Summers.”

“So, you got to see me patrol. Was it educational?”

“Very.” He glanced at his assistant. “At a cost of fifty dollars to Mr Walters, so I believe the lesson will sink in.”

She nodded, and looked at Walters. “Not a good idea to bet against me.”

“Yes,” he said, ruefully. “I’m beginning to realise that.”

“Warned you, mate,” said Spike, grinning.

Caring For The Girl In The Slayer

Remember, the Slayers you work with are also people with their own personalities, lives, and worries. It’s important that they have fulfilling non-slaying lives. If you don’t make sure their emotional wellbeing is cared for, it will affect their slaying – as well as making you kind of a jerk.

  • find out who your Slayer is, and what she’s interested in

  • make sure that she makes her nights off a priority; don’t let her miss these except in case of apocalypse*

  • encourage her to express herself in her slayage style; help her to discover her favourite weapons/combat forms

  • yes, it is possible to patrol in fashionable clothes; it won’t affect her fighting; individuality is a good thing

  • keep track of her emotional state: for instance, a bad break up could lead to her getting into reckless combat situations

  • encourage her to meet up with other Slayers regularly

  • remember that you are her partner and support team – not her boss

* for examples of a level 3 apocalypse, see Appendix F: Easy Ways To Destroy The World

Vanessa blinked, and tried to think of something to say.

But that’s not even… But everyone knows… When you say “vampire”… Is this for a reality show, or… But you can’t just… But magic isn’t…

Finally she settled on “But… I’m just a girl.”

“Yeah,” he nodded, then fell silent and looked at her again.

“An ordinary teenage… girl.”


“There’s just… No.” Vanessa shook her head firmly. “No way. You’re wrong.”

“Okay.” He raised his eyebrow, with the eye she could see watching her thoughtfully. “So, the stuff I’ve been saying doesn’t fit you at all then? My bad. I’ll just get going.”

“Wait, but–”

“No, really. No problem. I mean, if you haven’t been having any weird dreams, and you haven’t been feeling different the last few weeks, and breaking your lacrosse stick like that really was just clumsiness… Well, I’m obviously totally off base, and sorry for wasting your time.”

Then, annoying guy that he was, he damn well grinned at her and kept drinking his coffee. Because it wasn’t like he didn’t know exactly what she had to say next.

Vanessa reddened. “Okay. Yeah. But that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m a– a Slayer or anything.”

“Actually, it kinda does,” he said. “Mystically chosen to fight evil, with speed, strength, international sisterhood – the whole deal.”

She cast around for more words, and finally settled on “…you’re really serious, aren’t you?”

“I really am.” He smiled at her, gently. “And I know what I’m talking about. I’ve known the Head Slayer for over a decade now.”

“But you said vampires are like super quick and good at fighting, right?” Vanessa took a deep breath, and continued. “Because… there’s no way. I mean it. I’m just a teenager. There is just no way I’d be good enough to kill something like that.”

Xander raised an eyebrow again, and grinned at her. “Bet you ten bucks you can.”

Date: 2014-05-18 07:41 pm (UTC)
velvetwhip: (Spillow Initiative)
From: [personal profile] velvetwhip
This is absolutely super! Loved it! Breezy, flippant... so engaging!


Date: 2014-05-18 08:31 pm (UTC)
brin_bellway: forget-me-not flowers (Default)
From: [personal profile] brin_bellway

Date: 2014-05-18 08:48 pm (UTC)
frayadjacent: Connie Maheswaran in cosplay with a black cape. Text says, "fangirl". (!fangirl)
From: [personal profile] frayadjacent
Hot damn, this is amazing! I love the betting motif! (I haven't read the fic this is remixed from -- I'm guessing that has something to do with it?) I love how this started with a bit of a gut punch with the Marcella stuff and increases the funnies from there.

Assorted thoughts:

- Your Marcella fic continues to kill me with its awesomeness.

- The post-Checkpoint piece was so great and so hilarious!!

- "Caring for the girl in the slayer" (Now I'm grinning ear to ear)

- I realized it was Xander almost immediately in the last piece. Great job capturing the character's voice (as was also the case in the Buffy-POV piece).

ETA -- wow, I just realized -- sorry for being dense -- how this fic maps the changing treatment of the Watchers toward the Slayers, adding another layer of "something to learn". The watchers evolve from slave-owner to authoritarians to tag-alongs to "partner and support team" over the course of this, thanks both to Slayers and likely to the actions of some of the watchers themselves. And it's so perfectly captured in the betting motif, where the watchers go from betting with each other or other people on the slayers to Xander betting with the new Slayer herself. Eeeeee now I seriously love this fic.
Edited Date: 2014-05-18 08:55 pm (UTC)

Date: 2014-05-19 09:04 pm (UTC)
frayadjacent: Buffy smirking over Giles with quarterstaff (!Squee!)
From: [personal profile] frayadjacent
I know the feeling (but with vidding, of course).

Date: 2014-05-21 11:37 am (UTC)
ext_1707915: (Default)
From: [identity profile]
I read the initial story first, and then, reading yours, was wondering – where is that from and where all that is going. And when it all clicked and fell into the right places, it was one of these wow-moments, when you just admire how well the thing is done. Watchers’ change of perspective on theirs slayers shown via betting theme… That’s fantastic – both as a remix and as a standalone fic.
Not to mention humor - for examples of a level 3 apocalypse, see Appendix F: Easy Ways To Destroy The World… omg))))
P.S. And a small niggle – if that slayer lived in Russia, she would be Katerina Rushkova (Rushkov is a male form of the surname).
P.P.S. Sorry for my English, it’s not my native language. Hope I wrote something coherent.


deird1: Fred looking pretty and thoughful (Default)

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