chapter 4 of 14
Crossover With: Star Wars, the Oz books, My Chemical Romance. Kind of. In a way.
Warning: Extreme Mary Suism.
Disclaimer: All characters who belong to Joss and co, belong to Joss and co.
Summary: post-Chosen: A group of watchers and slayers taking a creative writing class are assigned a simple lesson in author intrusion. But nothing’s ever simple when magic is -- literally -- in the air.
Mary Stu Got Harried, Chapter Four: Ghost of a Chance
(In Which our hero learns Dracula lives, the Force is with him, and he’s not in Kansas anymore.)
Giving up on sleep, Richard climbed out of bed and turned on the main light in his little apartment. For a moment he felt claustrophobic, even though the closet he’d stayed in until the renovations were finished had been much smaller. Now he had a kitchenette, a bed alcove with a privacy curtain, a living area big enough for two chairs and a table, and his very own bathroom.
Once, a lifetime ago in Indiana, he’d owned a house with three bedrooms, two baths, a study and a big back yard, where he’d taught Kara to play catch and ride a bike. Now -- well, it was still there and still his; he supposed it would make a nice vacation home, if he ever got around to taking a vacation.
Life will throw curve balls. With an ironic smile, Richard tossed his briefcase on the table and opened it, revealing the work he’d brought from his office fifty feet away. If he wasn’t going to sleep, he might as well check out the rest of the stories his creative writing class had produced.
And sleep was out of the question, with a mystical rock band inside watcher’s headquarters. He felt like a fool for not putting them up in a hotel, where they wouldn’t be too close to the slayers if something went wrong. Suzy and Teagan had proven themselves able warriors, but he didn’t know how well they might handle more subtle attacks -- and besides, they’d be relieved later that night by less experienced girls.
Sighing, he opened a leather bound manuscript entitled “Star Wars: Revenge of Andrew”.
Good to know some things were predictable.
Although full of purple prose, Andrew’s tale was surprisingly readable. He’d kept the story moving quickly, just as the movies did -- hardly surprising, considering how many times the younger watcher had viewed them. The tale had Andrew as a Jedi -- of course -- rescuing Padme from a time traveling Darth Vader.
Okay, wait. Hadn’t Darth Vader been in love with Padme? Reading on, Richard discovered an interesting twist in the story when it was revealed Vader had traveled in time to prevent Padme’s death, but Andrew the Jedi assumed the worst about the black clad Sith Lord. In the end Vader and Andrew forged an uneasy alliance and saved Padme, whereupon their partnership ended and they dueled to the death. Vader’s death, of course, leaving a living Padme with her savior, Andrew.
Shaking his head, Richard took a few notes in preparation for a second reading, later. The writing needed to be toned down -- a lot -- and if it had been anyone but Andrew, he’d have assumed the purple prose was part of the fun. Padme as written was a bit too silly and americanized, even saying “wowzers” when she first saw Vader. But otherwise, it was a solid and entertaining tale.
So was the next one, although Richard knew he’d have to tread carefully, since it was by his own daughter. Worse, she’d written about one of his favorite fictional universes, the Land of Oz. Her story had Kara being hit by a bolt of black magic -- no problem figuring out where she got that from -- which blasted her to Oz, where she got involved in a brewing war between that magical land and the mischief making Nome King.
He chuckled, both at how he could tease Kara for sucking up to the teacher and at remembering his first crush: on Dorothy Gale, back when he was barely old enough to read. Kara’s story was more straightforward, without the plot twists of Andrew’s, but she did a good job of capturing Baum’s whimsical writing style and outlandish characters.
He was so absorbed with the story that he almost didn’t hear the knocking. An instant later his senses went on full alert and he vaulted for the door, at the last moment remembering to look through the peephole. Tara stood there, in the same outfit she’d worn that day, and she gave a start when he yanked the door open. “What’s wrong?”
“Oh, nothing! I just couldn’t sleep --”
“You sleep?” he blurted out, before he could stop himself.
“Bottie says I even snore.”
So the ghost needed sleep -- but sometimes couldn’t sleep. Well, he knew that feeling. Throwing the door open, he gestured her inside. “I could use the company; in fact, I could use your help reading all these stories.”
Stepping in, Tara glanced around, then looked Richard up and down. “So, I didn’t
He followed her gaze, and realized he was still wearing the red plaid pajamas Kara gave him for Christmas. “Um, no.” Richard, you are so damn suave. “I tried to, but ...” He waved her to a chair, then retreated into the bedroom alcove to don black sweats and running shoes. “Check out Bottie’s story, why don’t you? It’s next on the stack.”
He heard nothing but the rustle of paper, and when he stepped out again she was gazing down at the pages with a whimsical smile. “Interesting?” he inquired.
“Have you ever seen the daytime drama ‘Passions’?” He shook his head. “How about the movie ‘I, Robot’?”
“The book was better.”
“Well, in this story the robots from the movie try to take over the town from the soap opera. The townspeople call on Buffy the Slayer to protect them, and accidentally get Buffybot instead.”
He stared at her, trying to digest that. “You read that far in the time it took me to change?”
“Her writing style is very spare; she put all that in the first six pages.”
“Maybe,” he mused as he sat at the table beside her, “If we average Andrew and Bottie, we’d get the perfect story.”
Tara went back to reading. Richard picked up Dana’s story, which began with her and Buffybot sneaking out of watcher’s headquarters in the dead of night. But it was hand written -- badly hand written -- and after only a page his eyes began to ache. It didn’t help that the scent of lilac, which after a moment he realized came from Tara, kept distracting him.
He decided to put Dana off and go to another story, then hesitated when he saw the next manuscript -- Tara’s. But he picked it up, reasoning everyone must be treated fairly, and was soon immersed in events that had actually happened in the real world. At first he thought it didn’t meet his requirements, until he realized Tara was writing about someone who both really existed and was a fictional character: Vlad Dracula.
He knew the story from one of his many marathon sessions reading watcher’s journals -- Rupert Giles’ journal, in this case. Dracula, attracted to Buffy Summers’ growing, almost legendary reputation, came to Sunnydale, met Buffy, and ended up on the wrong end of a stake. That was the short version, of course.
He’d seen no mention of Tara in Giles’ account of the incident, but in this over the top version Tara was the central character: Finding Dracula’s lair, battling his henchmen, and eventually using magic to make Dracula’s mansion vanish, exposing all the characters to the morning sun and vanquishing the famous vampire forever. Tara’s matter-of-fact, tongue in cheek writing style had Richard chuckling out loud by the end of the tale.
That’s when he looked up and saw Tara staring at the last page of Bottie’s story, her face red. She’d noticed what he was reading, then, and ... the ghost was blushing. “You did great, Tara. Having Giles almost seduced by the three female vamps was a stroke of genius.”
Now the young ghost looked up at him with a wide smile. “Oh -- Giles left that out of his official reports?”
“You mean --”
“Yep. I can’t take credit for that part; Willow told me it happened just the way I wrote it.” Reaching out, she casually brushed a strand of Richard’s dark hair away from his forehead.
His breath caught, and he stared at her. Suddenly realizing what she’d done, Tara jerked back and busied herself with arranging the manuscripts, while he touched the spot where her hand had been a moment before. Her hand, a ghost hand.
A warm hand.