Buff let herself in and hung her coat up in the hall. The rest of the gang were having coffee in the kitchen.
"Hey Buffster, what you been doing?" Xander asked looking up from the sports page.
Buffy took a stool. "Well let's see? I've had my neck broken, been vamped, been suffocated, been gang raped, enslaved, come out as a lesbian, indecently assaulted by various inanimate objects, impregnated, killed, tied up, whipped until I was raw, surrendered myself to countless vamps and committed suicide. Oh and you all died too"
"Fanfic huh?" Willow observed tapping fervently on her laptop.
"Willow nodded "Just off the phone with Angel myself, restoring his soul for the fifth time this week. Cured Cordy and the rest of the gang too"
"Sure thing, resouled her, Angel's making her a Mohra blood milkshake right now"
"Same old, same old"
Dawn poured her a cup of coffee. "We still screwing like bunnies?"
"Anya always hated that phrase" Xander observed, largely to himself.
"Oh yeah, Dawnie. They got us doing mom now, too. We Summers girls just can't keep our hands off each other" She leaned forward and wound Dawn's ponytail around her hand, drawing her face to within inches of her own. "Give me some sugar baby!" she pouted.
Dawn returned the pout and leaned in to kiss her. At the last moment she brought up a spoonful of white crystals and stirred them into Buffy's coffee instead. There was a tearing sound as Xander unwittingly ripped the Sunnydale Times in twain.
He adopted a wounded expression as the girls cackled uncontrollably.
"Come on, sweetie" Willow retorted, wiping her eyes. "Why do guys go for that anyway?"
Xander looked puzzled. "YOU'RE asking ME?"
"Not the whole lesbian thing, we get that" replied Buffy sipping her coffee. She became aware that Willow was looking at her looking at her curiously. "Well, I mean with guys more is better" she continued hurriedly, "Pamela Anderson is living proof. But the whole lesbian incest thing, why's that a turn on?"
"Well for starters it isn't incest…"
"Oh, come on!" exclaimed Dawn. "You're not going to use the whole ' they're not really sisters' thing are you? What about Buffy and mom?"
"And don't say 'it's Faith in Buffy's body' either, that's just an excuse" added Willow.
"No, what I was going to say was that there's no such thing as incest between females, it's only between male and female. We had this discussion once at work about the Barbi twins and the firm's legal rep said it just didn't exist"
"You must have interesting lunch breaks!" Buffy observed buttering a bagel.
"You have no idea" Xander cautioned.
"Ok" said Willow, "But does that mean it doesn't happen or it never gets reported?"
Xander shrugged. "Either I suppose?"
"Probably something guys like to believe" Dawn opinioned. "Like the whole slumber party pillow fight in French knickers thing"
"Knickers?" Buff shook her head. "Dawn, you've been hanging around with Giles too much"
"Yeah, well next time the subject comes up tell him I want my pink frillies he nicked from my underwear drawer back. They were a gift from Scott"
"Maybe they were a gift for Scott, maybe he bought them for you as an excuse to wear them himself?" Xander mused.
Willow rolled her eyes. "Not all gay men are drag queens Xan. In fact not all drag queens are gay men"
"But still, I don't understand" Dawn opinioned. "It's just so gross even if it isn't incest"
Xander took a deep breath. "Do you all want me to explain?"
"Yes" came three prompt replies.
"Here we go!" he thought
"It's a question of intimacy. Girls, even straight girls are a lot more intimate with each other than guys are ever allowed to be, you were always hugging your mom, you're always stroking Dawns hair or holding hands. Women are taught it's OK to be physically intimate with another woman all their lives, from the moment they breastfeed. We'd like to be more intimate and open with our feelings but we're not allowed to by male peer pressure. When Angel turned you cuddled up to Joyce on the sofa, no male hero would have been allowed to do that. When you see a sex scene it always focuses on the girl's reaction, the guy has to have an expression like stone. We don't like to let go. What we look for in women is what we lack in ourselves. That's why you'll often have a very macho guy with a bimboish girlfriend "
"And it's the whole forbidden thing right?" chipped in Willow.
"Oh yeah, it's crossing a line. Like when a girl surrenders herselfa lea lesbian experience. It appeals to us because we can't do irselrselves. She can, surrender for a woman is no disgrace, no one thinks less of her"
"But still!" Dawn objected.
"Hey, it's only girl/girl stuff. If you were Buff's brother no one would write these stories. I guess it seems ok to us because there isn't real penetration and no risk of pregnancy. Women can't rape, there's no idea that you're somehow forced into all this just because you're a woman and we're men"
"Is it really any different?" Willow queried.
"Well put it this way, what would you think of a 20 year old guy who slept with a 15year old girl?"
Willow answered for all of them "Paedophillic cradle robbing perv!"
"Lock him up, right?"
They all nodded.
"But if it was a 15 year old boy and 20 year old woman?"
They frowned. "Well it's still wrong but…"
"Not so bad as the other?"
"RJ!" Dawn coughed into her hand.
"No, I see your point" Buff conceded, glaring balefully at Dawn.
"Anyway" Xander pointed at Willow. "You had a crush on Giles, so did Anya and even Tara" he turned to Dawn and Buff. "Any other takers for Humbert Humbert?"
"No" said Dawn staring into her coffee.
"Uh-uh" replied Buffy, looking a little flushed.
"Well, Giles is so sophisticated" Willow opinioned. "He's more of a man than you are"
Xander made a slight whimpering noise. The girls each took his hand. "It's ok, Xander" Buff reassured him "One day you'll grow into Giles"
"THAT scares me!"
"It's the whole male patriarchal thing" Willow declared. "Women are still to be protected and chaste yet men are still supposed to be studs without consequence. Anyway, your mom was kind of hot"
"WHAT?" Buffy and Dawn chorused together.
"Well, she was, I always liked her but it was Tara who pointed out to me how beautiful she was"
"I always liked her in a Mrs Robinson sort of way" Xander decided if ever there was a time to confess this it was now. "So did Giles and Oz, he never said so but, well, he was Oz. I often think Faith had a thing for her"
"Which is why she took her hostage and held a knife to her throat?"
"Jealousy?" suggested Willow.
"Remember she tried to strangle me after we had sex"
"But people do write incest stories between Dad me" me" Buffy stated quietly.
"Yeah, but they're not erotic stories, they're horror stories. I think a lot of people who write them have some form of past experience and write this as some form of therapy. You're their hero Buff, they want you to undergo what they've undergone and share their suffering. And overcome. Put it this way, I'd rather they did this than get anorexia or cut themselves or get a real abusive boyfriend or anything".
Buff nodded in understanding.
"I don't get it" said Dawn. "Why are guys such pervs?"
"Because we're men" retorted Xander. "We have an overwhelming biological urge to reproduce. At heart we see an attractive woman and we still hear the sound of trumpeting elephants in our ears and think 'Tarzan want!'. We still want to be Conan, Dawnie, we still want to be the biggest caveman on the block with a horde of adoring females looking up at us when we bring the woolly mammoth home for the barbecue. We still want to spread our seed and kill the the other males. That's why we compete all the time"
"And in fanfic you can be?"
"Yeah, in fanfic we can be whatever we want. What's more we can cast ourselves in the role of the female and be seen by them as we'd want them to see us"
"Because in fanfic the girls are all sluts?"
"No, well, yes. In fanfic except for the very romantic stuff it's all casual sex. But that's good, men want sex where we don't have to open up, where we can seem to be strong, we don't have to have a relationship or any emotional investment"
"So" Willow mused "You guys like the lesbian stuff, even if it's between Dawn, Joyce and Buff because that's intimacy that you crave. But you like the male/female stuff to be casual because you don't want to be emotional?"
"Exactly, we use fanfic to explore the male side of our natures, screwing every woman in sight and the female side, to emotional intimacy"
"Emotional intimacy whilst screwing every woman in sight?" Dawn ventured.
"Hey, I didn't say it made sense but it's how we think. In fanfic you'll often have a trigger, a magic potion or a spell gone wrong or something and this triggers the girls' lust. "
"That's rape!" Buffy objected.
"Yes and no. If you're a little insecure it helps if you have some form of outside catalyst to help you along. You might not believe that incredible babes like you guys would ever find them attractive but if there's an outside factor helping them along, what the hell?"
"A lot of the 'first time' lesbian stuff has that kind of trigger too" Willow ascertained.
"Real rape stories, I can't help you there. They are written by perverts along with all the snuff and the S&M and things"
He sipped his coffee, his throat dry.
"Really?" said Willow " I remember a certain ex-vengence demon making a freudian slip during a card game once?"
"Well Will" intervened Buff " Do the words 'Everyone's being punished but me' sound familiar?"
Willow took a huge bite of bagel and chewed ferociously.
"What I mean" Xander continued "Is a little light S&M, servant and master games, dressing up, bondage etc never hurt anyone. What I mean…"
"I thought that was the whole point, that it did hurt?"
Xander ignored Dawn.and continued manfully "…is the really dark stuff, where everyone dies or get's enslaved or everything, that's all written by some woman hating 14 year old sitting in his mother's basement wearing a Marilyn Manson T-shirt"
There was an awkward silence.
"In for a penny" thought Willow, "Xander, that's all the stuff written by the girls"
"No way" Xander replied, incredulous. He looked around to find Buff and Dawn nodding. "Jeez, why do they all hate you so much? And if they do why do they all watch the show?"
"They don't hate me" Buffy reasoned "Although I think some stories are written by big Faith or Spike fans when they think I treat them badly"
eryoeryone hated Dawnie for a long time" Willow commented, biting her lip the second the words came out of her mouth.
"Sorry, sweetie but it's true. Everyone likes you now so you don't get killed so often"
"No, I just screw mom and Buff all the time! Oh and lose my virginity to everyone. Why does everyone want to be my first?"
Willow and Xander looked at each other. She shrugged "You go first Xan"
"Well Dawn, partly it's the physical thing, you know the act in itself is more intense and pleasurable…"
"You mean I have a tight censored?" Dawn queried.
Xander reeled as if electrocuted. " You know I could go another lifetime without ever hearing you use that word again!"
"Xander, this is fanfic" Willow interposed. "It's the only time we can ever use these words, unless we get to make an 18 cert movie but they'll probably limit it to 15"
"Censored, censored, censored!" chanted Dawn happily. Xander quailed visibly.
"Censored, censored, censored, censored" Willow sang, delighted in teasing him. "Women DO use these words Xander, we're actually human not these sainted angels you think we are"
"I'm ok with the fuck and shit and stuff" Buffy added "but I don't like censored, it fills me with self loathing!"
"But it shouldn't!" Willow's voice was shrill, she was really getting into her stride now, "It's just another word for female genitalia, it's where we all come from, men use it as an insult yet spend most of their lives pursuing it!"
"Girls use it as an insult too" Dawn pointed out.
"Yeah, but that's because we've been conditioned to embrace male values. Like bitch or slut or whore or any of those words, we've been taught all our lives to think of ourselves in the way men do and judge ourselves by their standards"
Xander rolled his eyes but she caught him doing it. "It's funny, guys, love all this domination of females and subjugation, and spectator lesbianism and female inc…" He raised his eyebrow at her reproachfully "Ok, ok, familial lesbiansim etc but a girl mentions where they were born from or that fact that we bleed once a month and they get all coy. It's loss of control, they don't like to admit the power we have"
"Anyway, Dawn you were asking why guys wanted to deflower you?" Xander thought it was high time they changed the subject"
"Well, it's the physical thing all right but it's also the fact that we'll be your first, that you think so much of us that you'll give us this gift, you'll never be able to give it to another man. And you have nothing to compare us to, no matter if we're good or bad, you'll always think we're impressive"
"Speaking for the girls" countered Willow, "Well, we're always good, as long as we're warm and have the right orifices we'll always satisfy them"
"Don't even have to be warm" Buffy commented. She got three very strange looks. "I mean vamps, not necrophilia for christ sakes!"
"Anyway" said Willow "I think it's like guys, we want you to ourselves and we'll be your first, so that it'll be good for you, save you from a bad first experience"
"Couldn't be much worse than mine" Buffy opinioned.
"That's nice, kinda flattering" Dawn smiled appreciatively.
"I dislike some of the negative comments being made about some of us Y-types!" Xander was indignant.
"What about the vamp stuff?" Buffy asked.
"Power" Xander was unequivocal "Takes out of the real world with all it's problems and makes you powerful, do what you like, strong, no morality, live forever, have anyone you like. Guess it's the same as some people finding Nazis sexy"
"And so say all of us!"
"It's good for girls because we can surrender" Willow continued. "Like bondage, it's nice because you can let go, don't have to feel guilty because you're helpless, just lie back and enjoy yourself. Also speaking from a lesbian point of view a female vamp can penetrate you with her fangs and that's potent stuff. Sometimes you still just want to be taken" the girls all nodded. "You don't mind being thought of as sex object, you just don't want to be thought of as just a sex object"
"Better to be looked over than overlooked" Buffy quoted.
"Sometimes guys just still want to take" Xander concurred
"I didn't think lesbians were still into 'the timber" Buffy asked.
Willow shrugged. "Still something to be said for a lover that can bump the top of your skull of the headboard"
"It's also all the gothic stuff" Dawn was determined to have her say. "It's always the powerful vamps with all their sexy thrall like Dru or Dracula…"
"Power again" noted Xander.
"And honourable surrender" Willow noted.
"... never Harmony or anyone like that"
"Yeah, it's the gothic thing. Like all those historical romance novels, the heroine isn't a liberated modern woman so it's OK for her to submit to the pirate king or prince of the barbarians or whatever. She's still allowed to swoon in his manly presence…"
"Will, you're drooling a little" Xander mopped the corner of heuth uth with a napkin.
She batted him away. "Besides being vamped means a girl can have as much guilt free sex as she wants to, she can be transformed from a timid little mouse into a powerful sexual being and there's nothing wrong with it"
"Also the whole death thing" Dawn pointed out, "Great passion in death, Kathy and Heathcliff, Romeo and Juliet, Bonny and Clyde…"
"Now I'm beginning to see how you ended up in front of that train!"
"Shut it, bazooka girl! With vamps death isn't the end, if you're sired there's at least the illusion of life afterwards"
"Some illusion" commented Buffy. Her own short time as vampire still made her shudder at the memory.
"So if girls are all into surrender and 'take me now' and everything how come when I go into the Bronze all the girls aren't throwing themselves at my feet" asked Xander, baffled.
"Let me tell you a story Xan" Buffy spread some cream cheese on her bagel as she spoke. "Once there was this girl sitting in a café reading a pornographic novel. A guy sidles up to her and asks her 'Do you want to try the things in that book?' So she shows him the cover where this gorgeous princess with an impossibly voluptuous figure is falling out of her beautiful dress whilst being carried off on horseback by this barechested cross between Arnold Scharzeneger Tom Tom Cruise to his magnificent castle for a bit of ravage and pillage. And then she says 'Sure, where is he?"
The girls all giggled. Xander looked crestfallen.
"What happened to the guy?"
"Well, if life were kind the earth opened and swallowed him up. But the point is he was the impossibly perfect guy you'd never meet in real life, the perfect Alpha male. Guys don't have the perfect woman, as long as she's pretty, that's enough for them"
"Remember that Playboy story you showed me once?" Willow reminded him.
"Porn?" Dawn adopted a mockingly shrill, male falsetto voice "I was walking past this broken down bus of cheerleaders and helped them fix their engine so they all had sex with me "
"No Dawnie, Playboys' not like that, Penthouse sure but not Playboy. You mean the survey?" Willow nodded. "They did an experiment once where they took a Playmate and this male model, a guy who'd been voted the tenth sexiest man in America and had them walk around clubs propositioning perfect strangers for oral sex"
"Let me guess" Buffy interrupted. "All the guys said yes to her and all the women threw a drink in his face?"
"Close. About 20 of the guys said no because they were married, gay, waiting for someone or somesuch. But no, none of the women said yes"
"We need more" Willow confirmed. "Looks help but it's not everything for us as it is for guys. Look at Xannder and Cordy"
"So, you don't mind all the nasty stuff folks do to you?" Willow queried.
"No" said Buff, "It's alright, some of it's fun. Sometimes people have issues and have to vent the darker places of their soul, like when I had sex with Spike or acted so nasty when I came back from LA that first year. Besides, I'm always alive and well again by the time of their next fic. I can always come back"
"Sure, even if there's nuclear war I can always get my soul trapped in the Buffybot. Or get cloned.Or if any of us get vamped and dusted there's the Scroll of Aberjian. Enslavement can always be broken, forever is a long time and time itself is malleable. The Wishverse always comes back to our world. And Dawnie's pure energy, she can always be reformed. And if we're vamped we can always be resouled and restored by Mohra blood. Even Glory's brainsucking is always be undone in the end"
"What if you're raped and tortured by the Mayor and Snyder over months and then Spike kills and sires you?" Dawn asked.
"I kill them both as a vamp and then Will and Angel restore my soul. Faith never goes bad and Larry and Harmony don't die at Ascension"
"You get eaten by the Loch Ness monster" Xander ventured.
"The Celtic wizards restore me from the dead to fight the encroachment of modern society but I break their control"
"A giant meteor or something destroys the world" Willow tried.
"Call Bruce Willis? A parallel universe recreates this one as a side affect of banishing the First"
"But about being hideously tortured by Angelus or whoever and he cuts stuff off?"
"Thanks Will! I get restored by magic or Wolfram and Harts' mystical surgeons or you or Warren fix me up to be a cyborg"
"The Initiative capture me and cure me or whatever, I always triumph, everything always comes right in the end. Happy endings for us and mankind"
"What about us?" asked Xander.
"What if we die?"
Buffy looked uncomfortable. "Ah, you guys get replaced"
"Yeah, if you die I get new friends, Harmony or Jonathan or Amy or Larry or someone"
"HARMONY!" Willow looked aghast.
"Dawnie and I always end up victorious but our Scooby gang can vary in it's compostion. Don't worry Will, this is all 'might have been' stuff. We all know that it's like the Wishverse, only the stuff Joss writes really comes true"
"And all the rnatrnate universes?" Xander wondered.
"Eventually meld into ours. For good or ill we feel their influences but there's only one true storyline. They're like dreams, some lovely, some nightmares, they make us who we are"
"Like fic is the branches of the tree but the real story is the trunk?"
"Good metaphor. Yeah, eventually the branches taper but the trunk grows ever upwards"
"But it's all ok by you, right Buff?" asked Dawn.
"Yeah sweetie. Every fanfic ever written eventually ends with me walking through that door to join you guys for coffee, or the Angel gang putting things right. Faith, Riley, the extended 'family' of characters, everyone, the clock goes back and they're good as new, every time, ready to continue the rest of their lives"
"And mom and Jenny and Amanda and everyone who get's brought back, they're still dead, right?" Dawn looked mournful.
"And Tara" Willow added.
"And Anya and Jesse and Larry" Xander murmured.
Buffy nodded. "Yes, just think of them as wonderful daydreams, dreams so that we never forget them". Fanfic contains all our hopes and fears, our light sides and our dark. It makes us what we are. And what we are is pretty damn good in my opinion". They all smiled and the groups shared a moment of understanding. Buffy turned and looked out of the page, peering through a million computer screens all over the world. And winked. "Write what you like, that's what we're here for!"
Never the end...