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Starlight by Ariane starting 19th of June 2020

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  • Starlight by Ariane starting 19th of June 2020

    There seemed to be a general preference for a shorter fic for our next group reading. i have picked Starlight by Ariane. The reason quite simply being that i have never yet read anything by Ariane and she is one of the early must-read Spuffy fanfic writers.

    The story has a word count of 27k words. have no idea what to expect other than it is set post Grave in an AU season 7 and was written in June 2002, before Lessons aired.

    Let's get into the woods, folks! (Not right now though. You still have about ten days to read the story first).

    Dear Ariane,
    if you have found your way to this thread, please be so kind as to read this:
    before you proceed. Thank you for your consideration. Please feel welcome to join in the discussion. We would be delighted and honored.

    ................................ Banner by buffylover

  • #2
    I don't think I've ever read any Ariane fics so it'll be interesting. I don't tend to go post S6 often but I'll try to make time to give it a try.


    • #3
      I've read this before, but I'm excited to read it again. It's one of my favorites from Ariane.


      • #4
        So, what are your opinions?

        I have to admit I missed some kind of connection between the scenes and chapters. The story was full of scenes that led nowhere. Spike comes back to Sunnydale. Why, if he doesn't want to help Buffy or see her again? He lies to her about the chip. Again, why? Does he want to be staked? Buffy is angry at him. Suddenly she loves him. No building up to that, nothing is earned. Xander wants to stake Spike, suddenly drinks two bottles of whiskey with him and they are best buddies. There is a spring. Why? What does it do? Why has it deliberately been put into Spike's path? Has it? There is Rigel. There is a dog. It goes on and on and on but nothing clicks into place.

        ................................ Banner by buffylover


        • #5
          I'm really surprised that you don't like it flow. I think it has a poetic quality you'd appreciate. I've not yet finished it, but I am really enjoying it. I've read it before and enjoyed it then too. I think the writing is crisp and interesting and the characterisations are all good. It doesn't feel like scenes are missing to me, it feels very organic and not over written, which I like. I'm not a fan of too much explanation, I like to fill in the blanks myself.


          • #6
            I don't often read post S6 fics but I was really intrigued to see where the writer took the story before S7 had aired. They put forward some interesting ideas of how having a soul would change Spike but where it lacked a specific response from him for his past was one of the main things that hampered the story for me. At the very start it was suggested that he might feel that William was some new presence within him, but I was pleased that that wasn't an aspect that continued. He didn't seem to feel any real remorse though for what happened with Buffy, other than considering that he'd be better off letting her go and his attempts to meet her seeming wish that she'd never entered the relationship by moving to the other side of town. As for struggling generally with a soul, he just didn't seem to and I think that was a significant lack. I'm more towards flow's way of thinking on this one. I don't think everything needs explaining and it can be nice to fill in the spaces as a reader, but so much happened so easily without seeming connection or meaning.

            Spike's willingness to step away seemed the most distinct variation that the writer created with her souled Spike. It was something I felt was a feasible variation and an interesting direction to have taken it. He still didn't leave the area entirely, but he did back off. Sadly I felt that it was as much tied to his frustrations with how he had been treated by Buffy as trying to meet her wish though and I did wonder why he came back/stayed if he truly intended to stay away and even considered forgetting her entirely. It would be interesting to know how the writer feels because a sense that Buffy hadn't appreciated Spike when she'd had him threaded his and her responses to his return I think. For me it dismisses too much of the experiences that split them and had them move in opposite directions at the end of S6 and what triggered Spike's desire to gain the soul in the first place as an attempt to bridge the gap. This led the emphasis instead resulting in Buffy realising she missed him and loved him unsouled, coming to want to accept him back regardless of all the realisations and reasons they split and the attempted rape, none of which is really dealt with or features between them any longer she just missed him so much. I also wondered at one point if the writer considered that Spike had not intended to get the soul when Willie remarked, 'damn bad luck getting a soul' after their heart to heart. Again it offers an interesting variation on how Spike might have responded differently all round, if that had been the truth, but I'm glad they didn't go that way in canon and it had been what he sought. This hint is another thing that isn't continued though so it is easy enough to dismiss if you choose.

            I thought it was really interesting that Ariane also went for Spike looking to hide how he'd changed at first, but it seemed more connected to insecurity and/or resentment than the desire to prove himself and make a positive difference in Buffy's life now, as canon chose to go. I find the idea he would have lied about having the chip out unlikely, unless it was tied to some self-punishment and a belief he should be dusted, but that just doesn't seem in keeping with the Spike of this story as he doesn't seem to feel remorse. There was something important missing as well for me without seeing him struggling with what he'd done and his wider history, with his murderous past too.

            Another way the soul seemed to have changed him in the story was in his willingness to talk to people about his private issues. The notion that Spike would go to Sunnydale via London and lean on Giles for some support and then talk to Willie about what had happened to him was really hard to imagine happening. A lot of his dreams seemed to centre on the possibilities ahead of him but then kept coming back to Buffy and a sexual draw. Not wanting to be used again was another shift from how he responded to Buffy unsouled that gave a flavour of the change in him Ariane visualised. Although I could see some of the differences from canon that were laid out for Spike in this story, other aspects just didn't work for me and overall it was hard to see the Spike I knew strongly. It didn't help that I really couldn't hear him in the voicing either.

            I had the same problem in seeing and hearing Buffy too. That she would want to go back to what they had before they split seems anchored to a suggested truth that she had always loved him as he was and missed him enough to own up to it now and that unearned change (other than him having gone away) put all the issues connected to him being unsouled aside. Her ready dismissal of the attempted rape and coming around to accepting she loved Spike whilst still believing him unsouled and even unchipped, it just didn't feel like the character I know at all. Her breaking down and crying on Willie's bar also didn't work for me. And whilst her ongoing confusion was a better aspect of her characterisation, her daydreaming about him and yearning for him all wrapped too much into just dismissing their history for me. I thought her mixed responses on first seeing him worked quite well and also, like Spike's reticence on sharing what had happened to him, was interesting to see as it reflected a factor that canon gave somewhat too. The desire to find out what was wrong and reach out to him was mixed in with some anger which, with the awkwardness of it, worked quite well. But the main focus from Buffy was getting him back above all else, and that just didn't work for me.

            Also, after Spike takes Buffy home, both of them were too at ease in getting physical again so soon, which all tied into Buffy's acceptance of him unsouled of course and his lack of ongoing response to what happened between them. All the events of S6 from As You Were just don't seem to count here. The start of their sexual relationship again also led to Spike being the one to show restraint, to be concerned that it doesn't become what it was before, while Buffy is still pretty unaffected by their history. This sits against Spike's anger in saying he's the same as he was, has the same heart but now he has a soul he's allowed to be with her. This just feels resentful in a way that shows a frustration at the soul and no real guilt, a fear of who he is at best perhaps, but the belief Buffy underappreciated him before drives the story and their perspective somewhat it seems to me. The brief suggestion he was considering losing his memories was interesting but there wasn't any exploration around it and why he'd bother staying if that was what he wanted to do. There is also a slightly unpleasant note when Spike finds Buffy trying to get the puppy out from under the car and her position is described as if she is being tempting/alluring and he wonders who she's tormenting now. That just played into what felt like an undertone of resentment being a key aspect to me.

            Consequently it feels like there is very little addressed between them as Buffy didn't really need him to change and they fall back into a relationship fairly easily in the end. There's a real sense of the reduction of the difference between humans and demons written in too and Buffy is even sobbing to be seen the same as Spike is. His lost eyesight is a pretty pointless development and it is regained easily and without explanation. The aggression and resentment from Xander bubbling over seemed to be both for some very temporary drama around their reunion and to provide an example perhaps of violence from a human. That contrasted to Spike's lack of violent reaction and his understanding. Saying he'd have done the same if he'd seen Xander with Buffy seemed really off for him souled to me. The idea he would consider walking away the instant he lost his sight and feel it best Buffy removed her memories was hard to imagine. Similarly the fierce immediate anger that ensued as Buffy, just from being stood up, switched straight away to wanting to dust him was all just too melodramatic and then too easily dropped.

            A lot of story ideas were put in this for the length of story it is and so I don't think aspects were developed and explored but happened too easily and then were dropped readily again. For me what seemed an overall wish to contradict the revelations of S6 hampered the story and made the characterisations hard to follow and the developments of the story and alternates I could imagine feel more unearned as they lacked needed connections backwards. I just didn't feel I could see or hear the characters in this and I didn't like a lot of the alternates that were written in, so overall it wasn't one I loved. It was definitely interesting though, seeing where some of the same aspects cropped up and where the ideas differed greatly.


            • #7
              Even though I read this story before, I found out in this thread that the story was written before s7 even aired. It makes it even more fascinating, because of many similarities with actual s7. Buffy notices something different with Spike, and he didn’t want Buffy to know he has a soul, Anya realizes Spike has a soul, and I’m sure I'm there some more.

              I loved the scene when Buffy tried to save the dog, it’s so funny. The original characters are also great.

              I enjoyed the funny and snarky dialogue between Spike and Buffy. I love the whole setting and mysterious house on the outskirts of Sunnydale, it’s really appealing to me. I could imagine it so vividly.

              The only thing that bugs me is that Buffy is a little too quick to forgive Spike. He just came back from Africa, and nothing really changed between them since he left, that would change Buffy’s mind about him, but I guess I can get past it. Maybe I just read too much fanfiction, and I find it important that the author explains what makes Buffy forgive him if the story takes place after s6.

              Overall, this is one of my favorites from Ariane, I just like the whole vibe of it, and It reads like a fairytale.


              • Double Dutchess
                Double Dutchess commented
                Editing a comment
                I'm not a fan of this story but I agree that it has this dreamy fairytale-like quality that makes it kind of special.

            • #8
              I agree that the story has a dream-like or fairy-tale-like quality. It is really well written too although I also agree with Stoney that Buffy's and Spike's voices are slightly off. I actually did like the story especially considering that it has been written before season 7 aired. it is an interesting take on what could have been and maybe a glimpse into what people were expecting. I agree with redtent that the fact Anya of all people saw Spike's soul is fascinating.

              ................................ Banner by buffylover


              • Double Dutchess
                Double Dutchess commented
                Editing a comment
                I'm not completely with you on the well-written, but I agree with all the rest, see my comment to redtent. Anya being able to see Spike's soul was also one of the things that stood out to me in this story.

            • #9
              I'm with Flow in many respects. The story was well written, the original characters were done well but I kept feeling like there were missing scenes. The voicing was good but not great in my opinion. I enjoyed it enough to finish it but it isn't a "favorite" of mine. It was interesting to see a writer guessing S7 before it happened.

              “I like who I am when I’m with him. I like who we are together.”


              • #10
                I wasn't a big fan of this story. It had some interesting and original elements, and I didn't hate it or anything, but I wouldn't want to reread it.

                I made a bunch of notes while reading, with apologies for them not being very coherent.
                • Chapter one: does the soul mean that William is restored?? No, the soul mainly seems to manifest in Spike blushing a lot.
                • The first meeting between Spike and Buffy is not what I would have expected. There is no mention the AR. In fact, neither of them even seems to spare it a thought. I find that strange. (Added note: the only reference to it is in Spike's dream in Ch. 3.)
                • Xander is very unsympathetic.
                • I can't put my finger exactly on why, but to me the writing style feels a bit clunky.
                • Why does it take Buffy 4 weeks to start worrying about chipless (and as far as she knows, soulless) Spike eating people?
                • Interesting that Anya has the ability to see Spike's soul in this story, considering it was written before S7 where Anya does the same!
                • I think it's not very believable that Spike would spill the secret of his soul to Willy the Snitch of all people.
                • Willy calls it "bad luck" -- did Spike get his soul back by accident in this story?
                • "All the times she'd awakened him so he wouldn't get caught in the sun" HUH?? I really can't see Buffy ever having done that, for one thing because I don't think she used to stick around until sun up. This story paints a very rose-tinted picture of their S6 relationship.
                • "I can feel your energy", do people really say this kind of thing? This guy Mark in the Bronze seems like a character from a Harlequin romance novel.
                • Now it's Buffy's turn to confide in Willy. At least she has the excuse of being loose-lipped due to being drunk, but still.
                • Adding a cute puppy to the mix... A convenient rain storm... Rigel having turned into a butler preparing hot baths... Very romance novel.
                • All this mutual fantasizing about sex gets a little bit tiresome.
                • Dog slapstick!
                • Spike is having sex with Buffy while she's asleep? Ehm....
                • I hate the Xander stuff. So the Magix Box dark magic section is empty except for a scorpion stake that's clearly not good news for vampires? This feels pretty contrived.
                • Huh, has Buffy turned into Stepford Buffy? She's suddenly 100% in love with Spike, and all is forgiven. Is this a spell?? Nope, apparently not. I don't like this Buffy, swooning and throwing temper tantrums.
                • And Spike: first he wants her to forget him or even stake him, and is generally pushing her away, and the next moment he's making sweet sweet love to her? I don't get this sudden turnaround.
                • Spike expecting Buffy to "go all maternal", really? Are we really talking about Buffy here?
                • Why is Xander such a mess after staking Spike? Is this because of the wish? I don't get it.
                • Moral of the story: alcohol brings people together.
                • Eep! Spike's **** gets into Buffy's womb This does not sound healthy.
                • The worst things that Spike ever did to Buffy were to "make love to another woman" and to leave her? Excuse me??
                • I really find it hard to relate to the view of their S6 relationship put forward in this story.
                • LOL at the differences between vampires and Slayers being reduced to "she makes him pick up his stuff from the floor"
                • I like that the puppy Sirius chewed on Spike's coat, it's a fun detail.



                • Stoney
                  Stoney commented
                  Editing a comment
                  I can't believe I forgot to comment on the blushing.

              • #11
                Double Dutchess:
                No, the soul mainly seems to manifest in Spike blushing a lot.

                That made me laugh!

                ................................ Banner by buffylover


                • #12
                  Originally posted by Double Dutchess View Post
                  I wasn't a big fan of this story. It had some interesting and original elements, and I didn't hate it or anything, but I wouldn't want to reread it.

                  This exactly!

                  “I like who I am when I’m with him. I like who we are together.”


                  • #13
                    The lack of coherence to S6 was definitely the weakest aspect of the story, how little it meant for them both considering it all led to Spike getting his soul. It possibly supports that the writer thought that he got the soul by accident, as was briefly implied by Willie, so his desire to change and remorse are so absent. That Buffy doesn't have any residual issues with him being soulless still (as she believes) or care any longer about all that happened between them is just strange and really separates me from the characters. Some aspects were definitely interesting to see because you know they were written before S7 aired, some aspects were even close to parts that were included, but it wasn't a strong continuation from S6 because the main story points of the season in what happened between them were dropped/dismissed. I've not read any other stories by this author before I don't think and I'm not sure I would read others. The premise of another would have to really appeal to me.


                    • #14
                      Wow I am so shocked by everyone's reaction to this story. I loved it. The dreamy quality really worked for me on every level. I understand your criticisms, but the style was just so beautiful it pulled me along and I didn't mind Buffy loving Spike so completely etc.


                      • redtent
                        redtent commented
                        Editing a comment
                        I guess we're the only ones who liked this story