Hello, stranger: Pairing characters that barely know each other... or haven’t shared screen time at all.
Talk about Unconventional Pairings. Sometimes all they have to do is have a little time onscreen (Lindsey and Kate on ‘Sanctuary’, Kate and Darla on ‘Dear Boy‘, Giles and Drusilla on ‘Becoming 2‘, ...) or none at all (Wesley/Dawn, Spike/Wesley, Lindsey, Buffy, ...) to inspire an author. What if there’s more to them? What would happen if they meet under different circumstances? What if this or that happens on an alternate universe?
Just a few tips to write this pairings, and make a good story.
1._ Knowing you
The first step is to know your characters as individuals. Wesley will not interact with Dawn the same way he’d do with, say, Lindsey or Kate. Ask yourself what these characters could possibly have in common... or not. Opposites attract in one too many cases. If you look really carefully and weight the possibilities, chances are there’s something you can use to start building a relationship/friendship/one night stand.
One night stands are the simplest ones, at first sight. Two strangers meet somewhere, something happens (may be or not sex, maybe they‘re been friends for a while and grow apart when one moves away) and then go their separate ways. Things get complicated if they meet afterwards, and find themselves sharing a context (What if Angel, in a really stupid moment, had spent a night with a stranger he’d met at a bar, only to meet the stranger again, said stranger being a lawyer named Gavin Park?). Or it can be the other way around: After seeing each other once, the two characters happen to meet somewhere, and one way or another end up together. It can be as friends or lovers, depending of where do you want to take them.
A more meaningful relationship takes time. Love at first sight is not always a given, think more on the terms of ‘attraction at first sight’ or ‘crush‘. More deep feelings can be worked in slowly.
The time you set your story in is also important. Depending of this context, you can add or take away details about the characters.
Before ‘Welcome to the Hellmouth’, these characters had lives (even Dawn, in her made by the monks kind of way). They had friends and enemies and problems that sometimes are mentioned (Wes and Tara’s family situations, Lindsey’s rise from poverty, Angelus and Darla’s travels around the world, Doyle’s relationship with Harry to name a few) . But we rarely, if ever, get the whole story. That leave us with plenty of pretty blanks to fill. Did Lindsey and Fred ever ran into each other at the border? Did Lilah and Kate had a fling one night and never spoke to each other again? Did Faith meet a pretty girl named Tara when she was called? The ideas are endless here.
A little more complicated, but no impossible. This would be stories that happen during the context of the show. Maybe Lindsey coming back and somehow starting a relationship with Wesley. Or Forrest being revealed as Professor Walsh’s secret lover. Common background helps here a lot. If there isn’t any, play around, see if you can give Wesley and Lindsey a common goal, and put Forrest on a leash for the Professor’s pleasure (Ok, that’s disturbing even for me).
Ah, the fun of the unknown. Who knows which characters may meet a few years forward and decide to give it a try? Spike and Cordelia? Lilah and Xander? And maybe they’re the only ones around, looking for comfort, or an unholy alliance, or both. Or just meet for the first time and realize how good they might be for each other (again, one night stands work too) Years had passed, they’re wiser, and may not be making the better choices, but under the right circumstances, a lot can happen.
3._ Alternate Universes
The place where anything can happen. Just look at the Wishverse, Buffy’s very own AU. Or the Cordy! Reality on ‘Angel’. We saw a different destiny from many different characters, but not all of them. What do you think ever happened to Darla, Faith, Tara, Kate, Jonathan, Dawn and Lindsey, among many? Who were they with? Remember things are different in this reality. The characters we got to see were shaped by the circumstances, showing us a different side to them: some vamped, some with little hope, some dying too soon. The relationships will be even more different than the ones we could see under ‘normal’ circumstances. This applies to fan created AU as well.
Dawn, the Key, wasn’t an actual part of the Buffyverse until season 5, but in a sorta AU, she was not only giving human form by the monks, but had a whole life _15 years_ created inside the Buffyverse as well. Everyone was given memories of her, and vice versa, making her one of them. So why does she have her own section here? Because she fits the ‘haven’t had any screen time at all category’ with almost every character of the Angelverse, and yet she’s found her way into their lives through fanfiction.
When it comes to Dawn/Wesley, Dawn/Cordy, Dawn/Angel, etc, you must keep in mind they do know each other, even if we haven’t seen them interact. Remember also that she was just a kid when the events of Buffy’s first three seasons started. So her point of view of what the AI gang is now was completely different, more child like. Also, Dawn is not Buffy II, she has her own ideas and feelings. While these characters were in Sunnydale, what kind of relationship they had? Did she had a crush on any of them? Did they share any secrets? Was she closer to any one of them? How would this affect any future relationship between them? And the list goes on and on.
Writing under this circumstances can be fun and entertaining, as long as it makes sense inside its own little universe. Fanfiction makes this possible. The key is to make it believable and give the readers (and yourself) something interesting at the same time.
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