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Title: Ghost Can't Cry
Author: ozma914
Characters: Dawn, Buffybot, Dana, Kara, mention of Tara
Rated: G
Warnings: totally unnecessary nudity.
Disclaimer: All characters belong to Joss and co.
Summary: Post Chosen: The gang returns from a mission that went horribly wrong, only to learn something worse happened while they were away. 773 words

This was the result of a challenge by sl_podcast, who listed a series of first lines and challenged writers to turn one of them into stories. I got props for using not one, but four of the lines in the same story! The original first line meme can be found here:

(Note: This takes place in my "Four Friends" universe, in which two questionable magical spells, one intended to repair Dana's shattered mind, led to the resurrection of the Buffybot and the secret return of Tara to a more or less living body.)

“Hard day?”

Buffybot had a bright smile on her face, and seemed completely unmindful of the awful stench that had driven everyone else from the hotel pool’s shower room.

Three girls -- two slayers and a watcher trainee -- stood side by side in the shower, trying to wash off a yellowish green gunk which, during the trip back to their Detroit hotel, had worked its way into every conceivable opening in their clothing.

“What do you think?” Dawn snarled. Beside her, Dana wore a deep frown as she scrubbed a layer of skin from her torso. Worse, it had attached itself to their hair and apparently had some kind of static electric charge. Kara kept rubbing soap into her scalp and smooshing her hair down, only to have it jump back up again with a crackling noise.

“This so sucks.” Dawn had the worst of it – her long, straight hair now stood straight out, brushed the ceiling, and threatened to impale anyone who came close to her.
They’d had to walk seventeen blocks – taxi drivers actually sped up to avoid them. If it wasn’t for the science fiction convention downtown, they’d surely have been detained by the police.

“You wanted to come on the mission,” Kara reminded her.

Buffybot remembered her human double once saying that “Careful what you wish for” never occurred to Dawn. Possibly that was changing.

How could she lighten the mood? “Your hair is stupid,” the Buffybot smiled.

Three pairs of eyes speared her with glares. No, Bottie concluded, it wasn’t funny. “Sorry. Maybe I can help.”

“You could have helped by being there,” Kara grumbled, as Bottie stepped into the shower with them. The robot figured wet clothes were a small price to pay, considering her own hair remained clean and shiny – if now damp.

“We were getting ready to head out when Tara got an e-mail,” Bottie explained, as she experimentally touched Dawn’s hair. Ouch – sharp. “It was from Riley Finn -- who as you all know is bloody stupid -- to Willow. He found Tara’s gravestone in the debris they’re excavating from Sunnydale, and asked if we wanted it as a memorial.”

The other three froze, except for Dawn’s hair, which slowly lowered into a more natural position as Bottie absorbed some of the mystical static that imbued it. “How did Tara get the e-mail?” Kara asked.

Bottie moved her hands to Kara’s frizzy brown afro, and after a moment her locks began to fall into place. “Willow forwarded it to Giles, but to his watcher’s e-mail address instead of his private one.”

“Oh!” Dawn put a hand to her mouth, but immediately pulled it away – her palms were still stained with the demon gunk. “It automatically copied to all the other watchers – including Tara.”

“We thought you had them bottled up in the old factory.” Bottie approached Dana slowly – touching her without plenty of warning sometimes triggered a defensive reaction – but the slayer pushed her head forward like a cat waiting to be petted, so Bottie went ahead with her antistatic repair job. “That’s right. Poor Tara – she started crying, so I stayed with her; we didn’t know you were going to move in without us. I left her sleeping in the room when I got your message.”

“We didn’t move in,” Dawn told her dryly, “they caught sight of us and came out.”

“We need to work on our stealth,” Kara added.

Dana ducked her head under the shower, coming out looking like the girl from The Grudge. “But … ghosts can’t cry.”

“Tara’s more than a ghost.” Kara reached for a towel. “Come on – she needs us.”

The others quickly began to dry off, but Bottie stopped them before they could dress. “Um … your hair looks fine now, but …”

Dawn sighed. “Let me guess – we stink?”

Bottie nodded, happy that she didn’t have to say it herself. “Let’s all stop at the gift shop and buy Tara some perfume!”


( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 9th, 2007 07:12 am (UTC)
Nice little cameo. I love the bot on static-reduction duty, and her general cluelessness which makes her so endearing. A great thing to find just before going to work!
Jul. 10th, 2007 04:33 am (UTC)
Glad you liked it, and I hope it got you through your whole workday! Buffybot's so much fun ...
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 10th, 2007 04:34 am (UTC)
Hope you're feeling better, and I'm glad you liked it!
Jul. 9th, 2007 12:27 pm (UTC)
Clever...I like seeing Buffybot and (especially) Tara again, though IMO bringing Tara back is a little overdone.

Where is this Four Friends storyline to be found? I'd like to read it.
Jul. 10th, 2007 05:03 am (UTC)
the Four Friends storyline
I agree, bringing Tara back is overdone; I suppose it's a tribute to her character that everyone wants to see her again. I think my method was a *little* more original, by the time it was all said and done -- or maybe not so much.

Start here: http://ozma914.livejournal.com/123604.html

and go to the second "Four Friends" entry -- wait, what am I thinking? Just go here: http://www.livejournal.com/tools/memories.bml?user=ozma914&keyword=Four+Friends&filter=all

Which lists all the stories in order up to "Lilacs and Memories", in their most updated form. Where you see repeat titles, ignore the newer ones -- I somehow convinced myself that I'd forgotten to post my first four stories on LJ. *sigh* But I don't want to delete them because I treasure all the comments I get. Is that vanity?

Then you could go to my fanfiction.net account at http://www.fanfiction.net/~ozma914 to see the six most recent stories because I've been too lazy to update my LJ memories, or just follow the four friends LJ tags and find the most recent stories, in the last six posts *there*: http://ozma914.livejournal.com/tag/four+friends

*thinks hard* Probably hopping from the memory link to the tag link would get you through the stories easiest. The thing is, although all the stories are posted both here and at ff.net, I made changes to the older ones when I got my LJ account and transfered over. Have I told you all this before? I'm getting the strangest sense of deja vus, which is French for "boring your readers to tears".

Wait, I almost forgot -- if you *really* want to go back to the beginning of the Four Friends saga, you need to read "Robin Lays an Egg" at http://ozma914.livejournal.com/tag/robin+lays+an+egg
I didn't know it at the time, but it counts as the "origin story" for both Dana and Buffybot. Plus, I personally think it's a much better story than my first Four Friends tale, which was something of a prologue.
Jul. 9th, 2007 01:51 pm (UTC)
Yay! I was excited to see a bit of fic from you! I was even more excited that it's not depressing! Congrats on another great bit of work, silly at times but with great emotional resonance.
Jul. 10th, 2007 05:06 am (UTC)
I *like* silly -- when it's in character and serves the story. That's the trick, huh? Glad you liked it -- and don't worry, I strive not to be depressing.
Jul. 9th, 2007 08:38 pm (UTC)
Oh poor Tara. Nice stuff.
Jul. 10th, 2007 05:13 am (UTC)
Thanks! Don't worry, Tara has her friends.
Jul. 15th, 2007 05:51 pm (UTC)
It's so nice to see some fic from you again!

Detroit, hmm? I wonder what sorts of particularly noxious demons are settled in those salt mines?

The bit with Tara getting the e-mail and crying was very touching.
Jul. 19th, 2007 12:47 am (UTC)
I picked Detroit because I figured there were most likely plenty of empty factories in the area ... maybe I could invent some monster that comes to life out of old auto parts, "Transformers" style?

In retrospect, I should have written a fic actually showing Tara getting the e-mail; it's kind of chickening out, not showing the scene. Still, I thought I did okay considering I usually don't write for challenges at all. But now I'm thinking a sequel dealing with the aftermath should be considered ... I'll have to figure out some way to turn it on its head, rather than make the tombstone story become an emotional downer.
Aug. 4th, 2007 09:16 pm (UTC)
You have an uncommon ability to pick the right slice of life.

I read your comments, and you mentioned you were chickening out by not showing Tara's scene. I don't think you were though--not for a short story.

Everyone who read Ghosts can't cry 'saw' that scene. You didn't need to write it.

You've written Act II-the emotional resonance of the story. The readers immediately imagined the ghost of story past--Tara's receipt of the email, and the ghost of story future--the girls comforting Tara. You've allowed the readers to be part of the writing process, but guided them where you wanted them to go.
Aug. 5th, 2007 07:29 am (UTC)
You know, what amazes me about you is your uncanny ability to figure out what I was doing with a story before I've figured it out, myself. You're constantly saying things about my stories that have me slapping my head and saying, "That's *so* true! How did I miss that?" Thank goodness my subconscious is so much smarter than I am. :-)

Just the same, I do have something of a sequel in mind for this story, something only slightly related that came to me as I was mowing the lawn. I do my best thinking there -- don't know why.
Aug. 5th, 2007 05:08 pm (UTC)
"...your uncanny ability to figure out what I was doing with a story before I've figured it out, myself."

I've discovered I can read in two modes--just reader and editor. *thank goodness* I would lose a lot of enjoyment if I couldn't still just read. Editor mode takes longer, and I slip into it more easily with fanfic, probably because that's what I've beta'd. With short stories like this, I can read through for enjoyment, and then repeat in edit so I can try to give meaningful feedback.

You are wise to let your subconcious do the work, though. The forebrain tends to stall when you attempt to think and write at the same time. I know this.
Aug. 6th, 2007 09:26 am (UTC)
Yes, you're absolutely right, the conscious mind can be a bit too limiting. I've found that I have to have a bit of an outline for my stories, but I've also discovered it's very important not to outline and plan *too* much, and leave no room for the subconscious to work.

Generally, I read other works for fun and then have to force myself to read in the editor mode. Obvious problems will grab my attention, of course ... there have been a couple of times in the new Harry Potter book where I've stopped and scratched my head a bit at the technique, but I'm having too much fun to worry about it much.

The last time bad writing ruined a novel for me was one written by William Shatner -- by himself apparently, not a ghost writer. It was horrible; every mistake that could be made, was. It's a good thing I like him as an actor.
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )

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