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Bangel

Gorgeous in an Annoying Sort of Way

I've been trying to complete a third sequel/prequel for my story Those Things for a while now, and all I've managed to come up with are bits and pieces that don't even come together well enough to make the sort of bits-and-pieces story that Those Things is.

The first three happened pretty quickly, so I've been a little stumped as to why I've been unable to create Piece Number Four. (Or Three if Love and Pancakes is counted more as a Piece Two-and-a-Half.) It's not a lack of ideas, I have plenty of things that I know occur in this world/verse/thing, and I know the ways the characters feel, and I have a general idea of what sorts of things I want to write about.

It wasn't until recently that I think I've really figured out what might be keeping me back.

One of the goals I have in Those Things is that, while the polyfidelitous relationship between Spike, Buffy, and Angel is never completely equal (someone will feel just a little left out, someone will feel like they've been teamed up against in an argument (I'm completely blanking on a more eloquent way to phrase that (parentheception))) there should be some level of equality in the lack of equality. I try to put as much attention to each individual character and to each couple as I put to the trio as a whole. And to do this, I definitely need to understand how the characters feel about one another and why they feel the way that they feel.

And this is a problem. Because I have absolutely no idea why Buffy fell in love with Angel. None.

I know why I fell in love with Angel. I think I've got a decent grasp on why Cordelia did. And Darla. Drusilla. And I think I can make something decent from his relationship with Spike, whether or not it quite qualifies as love.

But... how did that creepy guy who stalked her into an alley, made it clear he knew way too much about her for having never met her, left her to fight her own fight, and was described as "...gorgeous, in an annoying sort of way," suddenly become Buffy's soulmate, despite their incredibly few interactions in the interim?

Angel's behaviour in the first season is, bluntly put, very disturbing. He stalks her, he spies on her, he keeps secrets, he's pretty detached emotionally, and, somehow, that makes Buffy fall wildly, madly, passionately in love with him.

As a viewer, I can look back and understand that what Buffy's seeing is something of a front. But Buffy didn't have this knowledge. Did she really, truly, genuinely fall for that creepy persona Angel has going?

The use of unhealthy relationships in media doesn't alarm me. The only problem I really have is when the relationship is presented as something romantic or to be idealised. And that almost seems to be what is going on in the early years of Bangel, and it makes me sad because, by the time 5.17 "Forever" rolled around, I realised I could kind of get behind Buffy and Angel. But it's not a story of redemption, the way it could have been handled. It was creepy, and now it's not, and it's sort of ignored that their relationship, when it began, was kind of alarming.

It's easy enough to chalk Buffy's love and angst up to the whole romantic teen drama sort of thing, but if I want it to work as a functioning, adult relationship, I really need to understand how and why she fell in love with him. Because she didn't get to see all the things I saw, the things that made me love Angel. So... why? 

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I don't know, either. ;-) Forbidden fruit syndrome?

I've read stories wherein Buffy's attraction to vampires was explained as something built in to Slayers generally, which seems counter to the point of being a Slayer. But hey, it's all mystic anyway, right? Variations on this are that the demon essence used to create the Slayer has a preference for "old vampires" or that Buffy's first death sparked the demon part into high gear. That one is interesting because it addresses the extra pep Buffy gets when Xander revives her.

It's been awhile since I watched S1, but my impression was that Buffy didn't get that into Angel until S2. There was the chest-branding kiss, however. That much I remember!
Amen to the creepiness of early season Angel! (And Spike too, to be fair - if anybody acted like either vampire with myself, my friends, or my daughter, I'd be running for a restraining order.)

When I rewatched with the hubby, I definitely noticed that Buffy ran hot and cold with Angel until mid-S2 (see, it wasn't just Spike!). She doesn't completely fall for his creepy behaviour from the get-go. And then, all of a sudden, they were just together. Without any real good reason... other than it was time, I guess. She was getting close to 17 and they could have her have sex onscreen (oh, cynical me).

I've been thinking about this all day. If I remember right, by this time she'd had a few attempts with 'normal' boys such as Owen, none of which had worked out. So I wonder if Angel being stronger, more able to care for himself, able to be participate in her Slaying without her having to worry, is part of the reason? It's not *Angel* she falls in love with, so much as what Angel is. Strong. Handsome. Trying to redeem himself. Tall, dark and broody... er, I mean, mysterious.

That I can't understand why Buffy falls for him could be my bias, too. I like Angel well enough, more so once he leaves Sunnydale, but I can't see why Cordelia falls in love with him either. At least Buffy had being young, stupid, and the pressure of a mystical destiny which would never let her be normal going in her defense. Which leads into what you said, Fox. I can see the relationship in the context of teen melodrama, but after that... is it real love, or does she love the idea of being in love with Angel?

Speaking from personal experience, I chose melodrama for relationships when I was younger because it was so *passionate* (*gags*), and it didn't feel like love if there wasn't so much high emotion (remember Buffy saying the same?). And even after the relationships were over, I held onto them for a looooong time. Because it was *true love*, and we would overcome any obstacles eventually! (*gags again*). This sounds familiar, no? Buffy was only, what, 22 when the show ended? That's still very young, emotionally, and she didn't have a whole lot of healthy relationship experience to learn from.

So why does she still love Angel, if it's not just teen love? You probably need to ask some Bangel shippers... ones who have thought about this, that is, rather than swallowing and repeating the show's dross about eternal soulmates and star-crossed lovers. Because I couldn't really say either. Then again, the last 24 hours is probably the most thought I've ever put into it. :)
As far as Spike's creepiness goes, Spike is supposed to come off as creepy, and the other characters respond accordingly. Angel, somehow, isn't? With Spike, the fact that his behaviour is not befitting of a good love interest is pointed out often, but with Angel, it's just ignored.

Ah, but I don't have issues with Buffy still having feelings for Angel, honestly because they mostly function as star-crossed lovers. They can't quite ever make themselves come together for an extended length of time, and that's allowed Buffy to maintain the idea of Angel that her sixteen-year-old self created, which, at least from my perspective, is what she actually fell in love with.

I can see her, at sixteen/seventeen, creating an image of Angel that she found desirable, since she never did know all that much about him, and falling wildly in love with that version of Angel that she'd made up. And since Riley and Spike could, naturally, never contend with Fantasy Angel, which from Buffy's point of view would be the same as actual Angel, she dismissed whatever she did feel for them as inferior to what she'd had with Angel. Add on top of that that teenaged 'life-and-death' approach to romance, which she just can't attain any more, I have no problems with her being in love with Angel. Just so long as she isn't spending time with Angel while she's being in love with him.

Emotions tend to run rather high when Buffy and Angel are in a room together, after their break-up. (Not that things were ever particularly calm between those two.) Things escalate quickly, and I'm not sure how long Buffy could maintain that she's still wildly, passionately, undoubtedly-meant-to-be in love with Angel, but I doubt that, as stubborn as she is, she could make it to the point of buying a house together and settling down before realising/admitting that they have issues.

I'm somewhat worried about having to make them fall in love to justify my story, because if I have to force it, then I'm definitely crossing my line of what I should and shouldn't do in fanfiction. If it needs to be forced, then it's probably out of character, and if it's out of character, then what the fuck is the point of writing fanfiction?

The one good thing is that, if I do end up reaching the point at which I need to sit down and have her fall for him, at least she's still got motivation for falling in love with him. I don't think it would be crazy for Buffy to want to love Angel.

Of course, then I'll have to face the task of making someone fall in love with Angel, but maybe I've earned that for somewhat writing myself into a corner here.
Speaking as a current teenager -- really, not everyone does the 'life and death love' thing. In fact, I'd say it's fairly rare.

In Buffy's case, I suspect the strongest part was that Angel was, unlike the only other possibilities she had, someone who would understand her *other* life -- the Slaying. Buffy has friends. She also has several human, teenage dates who do not act terribly creepy as teenage boys go, and who are reasonably nice to her. What she doesn't have is someone who shares the fact that she has to kill to survive, at this point -- and sure, she's killing in defense of herself and others, not to feed on blood, but the fact that someone who understood violence would be appealing to her isn't surprising. Combat veterans often feel disoriented and isolated upon returning to civilian life; how much worse would it be if you were sixteen, stuck in high school and being treated like a child, and couldn't tell anyone about it? It's also possible that having a date who wouldn't end up collateral damage factored into it.
Oh dear. I certainly didn't mean to offend, that wasn't my intention at all. Nor did I mean to generalise. I'm very sorry if it came off that way.

You're absolutely right, there are plenty of teenagers with maturity to rival the adults around them, and it is unfair to group them in with the others. That said, there are plenty of otherwise incredibly mature teens (and adults as well) who fall victim to the melodrama of angsty "one true love!" early romances.

My actual intent was more that, in my experience, the mentality exists considerably more often in teenagers than in adults. (Vampires are all demons, but not all demons are vampires, you know?)


In any case, I think you're absolutely right on for a reason that Buffy fell for Angel. Keeping 2.01 "When She Was Bad" at the front of my mind, it certainly makes sense for Buffy to latch on to someone with similar experiences.

The problem comes later, after they've drifted a part, and their lives become very different. By the time "Not Fade Away" rolls around, their experiences differ radically. Could their relationship hold, now that they don't have that same reason for being together?

(Okay, at this point I kinda stop replying to you and most talk to myself about my stories. Sorry.)

Or, maybe they don't have to. Maybe it's enough that Spike was there for their biggest wins and worst losses. Maybe, by allowing Spike to retain his position as Buffy's "dark place" (and allowing him to be Angel's as well), Buffy and Angel can maintain the idea of their happy (and dramatic) romance without having to face the idea that they're very different people now.

It's not fair for Spike, but when are things ever fair for Spike?

Coming at the story from this angle kind of saddens me, though. I wanted to write a world where they really are, ultimately, happy. Putting Spike as they key-figure in the maintenance of their relationship would definitely change what I thought I was looking at, but adding to that the idea that Buffy and Angel are still in love with the idea of the other, rather than the real thing...

I will think on this.
Thanks for the apology. I usually don't get those concerning stereotyping teenagers. *wry*

I do think that that element could stick to some degree, the shared history of battle and being combat veterans; they have some other shared experience by them, mostly tied to fighting and being self-sacrificing. It's not a huge basis for a relationship, but it's there. I suppose you could also make a case for some other hobby. Fashion, maybe, Angel does enjoy his hairspray and leather pants. You can find probably find something believable.

Another thought I've just had is that assuming post series, Buffy seems to have come to terms a lot more with the fact that being a Slayer means enjoying fighting to some degree -- the adrenaline, the physical activity, etc. (You are writing post series, right? You said Not Fade Away.) I don't know the Angel series as well, so I'm not completely sure about this, but my impression is that Angel tends to angst over his nature more even then. If you want to write a healthy relationship, you could say that Buffy makes him feel better about himself? Like he's not so terrible for being who he is?
Yes, it's set post-NFA. The parts I've already done are over here:

Story#1: Those Things

Story#2: Pride

Story#3: Love and Pancakes

(I'm trying to interpret the first comma of your third paragraph, but it's throwing me. I'm assuming it's meant to mark a parenthetical aside, but I can't find its partner. My interpretation of your intent may be slightly off. Sorry!)

I like the idea of Angel feeling better around Buffy, but I think I'd need to introduce it. I don't know that it's already there. Angel, from what I've seen, tends to feel a need to hide his past and who he is, in order to spend time with Buffy. I think I'd have to establish that change.

And, while I may do so, I am hoping for something already there to build off of, rather than starting them anew.

I do definitely see a basis for Angel wanting that comfort, but I don't think it's there already.
It was just meant to mark off the "Assuming post series" bit, sorry for the confusion!

Yeah, that's really not in the show yet, you'd have to establish it. I'm really not an Angel/Buffy shipper either -- in all honesty I think it's a good thing they moved on -- so I probably can't help you much further, I just like playing with the characters. (Though the possibility of Buffy seeking out another combat veteran has made me almost twist myself into liking it in the first couple seasons.)
Angelus/Dru

March 2014

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