Summary: Xander takes steps to make sure he remembers what he needs to.
Characters: Xander Harris, Willow Rosenberg
Rating: PG/FRT (for a tiny bit of language)
Disclaimer: Joss Whedon’s, not mine
Original story: ”What Friends Are For” by nwhepcat
Notes: Many thanks to my husband for the close beta-reading and for pushing me to crank up the intensity.
I swear to you that every word you’re about to read is true.
nwhepcat and I remixed each other this year. Heh! Though I do hope, for variety's sake, she draws a different name out of the hat next year. Gotta feel like being persecuted to get me every year :)
It threw me badly to be given nwhepcat for the second time. I'd read more of her stories, for one thing, and had a better sense of what she does with them, and was kinda intimidated. In some ways I think the True Remix of a Hepcat story would be a 90-part epic itself.
I then made things worse for myself by making a rule: No Giles. Whatever it was, there would be no Giles in this story, or only peripheral Giles, to throw people off the scent. That one worked, because only a couple people on my flist even commented on the story, and none of them seemed to guess it was me.
Then came the usual angsty search to find something I could get a handle on. When I finally read this one, I realized I had a hook. I knew what I was going to do with it, and it was a cool idea. Mmmm, psychological horror! I started chewing on my idea... and I completely failed with it. I wanted to show Willow in action, editing memories in an improv performance, while Xander's stream of consciousness makes it clear to the reader what's going on. This was too hard for me to pull off, but I'll try the approach again some time.
My second take is what you read. It started out more inspired by Gene Wolfe's Soldier of the Mist, a story of a Greek soldier cursed by the gods to forget each night what happened the day before. He writes the events of his life, as he remembers them or as he's told about them, as he goes. But the story took a different twist as I wrote, so the remix title is a nod to the master of uncertain-reality stories: Philip K. Dick. Xander refers to a popcult version of a Dick setup that he's likely to know, The Matrix.
I'm overwhelmed by the response to it.