DVD commentary for the Fade And Fray remix
to be named later to be named eventually names are stupid and evil and hard And Then Mend!
I started writing this around the tenth numbered-save because I realized that if I didn't start to write this while writing the fic, I would never be able to catch everything. Even starting from the tenth numbered-save, there may be things I have missed. (Note on the numbered-save thing: I don't really do numbered revisions or anything, but I change the number of the file while I'm writing the fic, and I revise as I go, and every so often (this isn't a constant, it's whenever I feel like it), I iterate. Some things don't get a number (the first numbered file is always 2) because it's short or there was never enough big changes to make me want to be able to go back and look at previous numbers, and some fics go on for a while (for example: World Enough And Time Lords had 29 numbered revisions, and then the revised World Enough And Time Lords doc had 13.) So number 10 isn't the tenth revision of a completed fic, it's just the tenth file I saved when writing it.)
And then I completely forgot about this in-progress-commentary for two years, so there's a huge gap, because I am totally on the ball about this.
The final revision number was 30, because ffs, this fic.
The first save date of the remix is lost in a crash, but May 2010 was the last save date of the first draft and the date of the first back-up in my e-mail, so let's go with that. Two years and seven months start to finish! Dot dot dot. I finished and that's the important thing?
Okay, so, stuff!
I wrote this because I have completely reached the point where I cannot read or even look at And Fray anymore and am getting to the point with Fade. (Well, not the end of Fade, which is so embarrassingly personal but I still want to put shiny glittery stars on it, but other parts.) I reach this point with old fic all the time: the part where I look at it and see all the stuff that is wrong with it and just not be able to stand the fic anymore. There once was a time where I'd reach that after a few months. So the fact that this took a few years is definitely a good thing.
But, yeah. I can't look at And Fray without wanting to rip it apart and do it over again.
So I, you know, ripped it apart and did it all over again.
This is a remix and also, in a way, my
four-years-later seven-years-later response to it. And Fray and Fade meant a lot to me (and they still do, but in a different way); I mean, these fics got recced. Which amazed me. I wrote something that people in fandom liked and responded to! Yay. :D
But, you know. Rip it up and do it over again.
I kept the same ideas and themes of the fic, but put it squarely in the Fade frame: this is completely about Kronos and partially about Duncan. Doing that brushed over a lot of what And Fray was, which was unanswered questions about Methos and his past.
And, speaking of unanswered questions: around the third numbered-revision, I wrote at the top that, if possible, there should be no question marks at all in this fic. At some point I took that note-to-self out, but there aren't. Seriously, of all the things that annoy me about And Fray, I think the thing that annoys me the most is the summary.
Also one thing I wanted is that you know the when of the fic: when Methos is burying Kronos. There is no real when for And Fray and Fade, they slide around the timeline and go back and forth.
And as this grew, that was what I clung to. After putting it down for a while, when I picked it back up, I knew what the problems with the fic were, and one of them was that the framing narrative was not strong enough. It needed more framing. So in revision, I tried to add more into the framing, but there isn't all that much I could do without breaking the fic (I want to say "breaking the flow", but the flow was another problem). Like, this could be a fic about the physical act of burying Kronos, but that's not what this fic was.
Here, there's a when, and everything that happens between the start and the end is stuff that's going on in Methos's head, or about that stuff, or otherwise having to do with Methos, Kronos, and Duncan.
Doing this, um, pretty much brushed off all the other characters, and while I did try to put in at least mentions of them, it felt very forced. Some made it through to the final revision, but not many. This fic is very, very, very tight in Methos's head, and very tightly around what he's doing and what it means, and that means it's pretty much all about the major players: Methos, his brother, and his brother's killer.
I also changed the point of view to second person. This is totally a stylistic thing (my torrid love affair with second person continues unabated), but it's also very freeing: there is stuff you can do in second person that you just can't in first or third person (and the same is true for any of the other points of view, of course; any story changes if you change the narrative point of view). And part of the stuff you can do in second person is take a specific tone, and also get really into the character's head, which I love.
Title. Okay, that goddamn fucking title. This is a megilla. One thing I wanted to do was complete the phrase that began "Fade And Fray". Another thing: I was iffy on using a quote; I wanted to keep in the theme of And Fray and Fade and dropping in a quote felt very strange and unfair.
The story of the title is a story of me being completely in love with T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets. The first working title was "(Not Fare Well, But) Fare Forward, Voyager", which is from The Dry Salvages, and I scrapped that quickly, because I wanted to use the word "Stranger" not "Voyager" and I wasn't willing to corrupt the quote that much (dropped a plural is one thing, changing a word is different). And I did want the title to have something to do with Fade And Fray. (Also, I wanted to use that quote as a title for a Doctor Who fic.) (I have yet to use that title for a Doctor Who fic).
I also really love the line "If you came at night like a broken king" from Little Gidding. And since the titles of And Fray and Fade are the story of me using ellipses, my next working title was "...Like A Broken King". And then I stuck "Fade And Fray" on, so my next working title was "Fade And Fray Like A Broken King". Then I shoved it into parenthesis and made the working title be "Fade And Fray (Like A Broken King)". Except that I wasn't sure if that phrase even made sense; I even made a post to my journal asking the internet what it thought.
The thing is, I decided on the summary really, really early on, and it's a quote from East Coker. I figured that if I'm quoting a summary from somewhere, if the title is a quote, then it should be from the same place. I contemplated titling the fic "Of Dead And Living", which I did like, but I wanted to have the phrase "Fade And Fray" be in there somewhere. I also contemplated just calling the fic "Of Living", which is a pretty good summarization of what it's about, but is also pretty generic, all things considered.
So I read through East Coker again (oh, the hardship) and looked for a title that worked with the fic. And so I decided on "Hunt The Heavens, Fade, And Fray". But hunting the heavens isn't exactly accurate for the fic, so... (And I later used that title for a Doctor Who fic). I played with calling it "Fear Of Fear And Frenzy" but that is just too much alliteration for me. (Calling it "Do Not Let Me Hear Of The Wisdom Of Old Men (But Rather Of Their Folly)" was a really seductive idea, but *sigh* Alas, does not fit the theme.) And then it was "(Fade And Fray) With A Hollow Rumble Of Wings" except that this totally isn't a wingfic AU (if someone would write it, I would totally, totally read it). And then I decided on "Fade And Fray And Wait (Without Hope)". But if there's one thing Methos is not (well, in this fic, anyway), it's hopeless. He's distraught and in mourning and really pissed off and angry, at himself, at Kronos, at Duncan, but he's not hopeless.
And then I just went back to "Like A Broken King" because I just love that so much. "(You Fade And Fray Like) A Broken King" came next and was very short lived.
And then I went "screw Eliot", pretty much, and thought about the whole "fade and fray" thing and what I wanted to say about the title and what it says about the fic. And then I thought about calling it "And Live" or "But Live" or "Yet Live", which would make the completed phrase of the title be "Fade And Fray, But Still Live" (not those words, but that intent), which was definitely more the idea of what I wanted to get across with this: Methos is completely falling apart, but it's temporary and he knows it. He is fading and fraying, but he is still going to Live, Grow Stronger, Fight Another Day. As I put into the remix, this is a fight that he will not allow himself to lose.
And, so it was, any of: "(Fade) (Fray) Live" or "(Fade, Fray) Live" or "(Fade And Fray) But Live".
I also considered "(Fade) (Fray) And/But Live Another Day" or (Fade) (Fray) Live, Grow Stronger, Fight Another Day"...BUT THOSE RHYMED. And apparently, I am unwilling to do that. Sigh.
I also did a mental rundown of Memorable Methos Quotes, trying to think of something that would fit.
And then I was reading it over doing final revisions (okay, this was revision 16, which ha ha ha, I thought that would be final revisions) and hit the line "you live with fire in your very bones" and went "I kind of like that" and renamed it And Live With Fire.
And then it was a case of "fuck it". So much fuck it.
When I went through the revision of adding the threading metaphor, then it made sense, and I decided to tie that in with the title, so went back and forth a lot on the theme of mending and how to put that into the title. ...And Mend, or Then Mend, or And Then Mend? Titles are hard!
So I decided on And Then Mend, and apparently that's what I'm going with. No ellipses, but it's to finish the thought.
Fade, Fray, And Then Mend.
So, yeah. It took as long to title this fic as it did to write it. FFS.
I guess it's good and fitting and such; what would a remix of the "aka, I had no idea what to call this" fic be without me having no idea what to call it?
So, the fic!
Oh, the ordering of the sections. *sighs* The problem with this is HA HA HA SECTIONS I CANNOT LAUGH BUT I WEEP.
This entire thing was just a repeat of writing the originals. Sections got moved, meshed, mangled, and muttered over. This thing is a headache; those aren't section markers, THOSE ARE SCARS. Shit got moved around a lot, yanked into other things.
The only reason this fic is even done is that I did a revision where I went "if it's not working, it's getting cut", and so cut one of my darlings, because ugh. Also, Methos, you are not allowed to contradict yourself IN THE SAME SENTENCE. Please don't contradict yourself in the same sentence? Please? Please?
And actually the only reason this fic is even done is that I have declared it so. Because I am done tinkering with it. Enough already.
There were things that needed to be present: memory, constants, mourning, fraternity. And it needed to mirror And Fray and Fade and it also needed to be its own thing. As I said, this is also in a way a response, and some of this is quite literally responding to it. I did things like take an entire paragraph out of And Fray, copy it into the document, and just start responding to it, and also with things like sentences or images.
There was also the issue of straying too far from the original fics. I tried very hard not to restrain myself too much or go back to And Fray and Fade and keep touching base, I wanted this to be a remix of And Fray and Fade, but not be a retread, if you know what I mean. It is its own fic, basically. It's not just And Fray and Fade rewritten into second person. It has its differences from the source fics and I wanted it that way. There is a lot that's new.
Also while I was writing this fic, I wrote And Enoch Still Walks With God, which covers a lot of the same territory, although makes a somewhat different and possibly opposite argument about Methos. But there's probably some repetition in there. In the end, I did not have the energy to try to pick things out of here that I'd also put into Enoch.
Shit, this is hard. No wonder I started this document two and a half years ago. Too bad I didn't keep it up. Bad author, no cookie. So I am very, very, very sure there is stuff here I'm missing.
This is where it ends: a cemetery in France, a shovel, cold dirt and cold wind, shivering while you sweat.
I have done a lot for this fic, but one of them was not going back and figuring out *when* CAH/R6:8 take place. So I'm just going with "cold", and please don't tell me if it takes place in the summer. I do not want to know that the setting is wrong. Methos is wearing a sweater. That's enough for me.
Orpheus had it backwards; where he has gone, only you now can follow him. He cannot chase you any longer.
I went back and forth a lot on if I should cut this. I eventually decided to keep it in (obviously). But it's... I don't know. The first line doesn't work on its own, because you're reading along and going "huh???", and then the second line twists it into "oh, I see what you're doing there". But, yeah. I'm keeping it in for a reason, but maybe I should have talked myself out of it.
ALSO SEMICOLONS. I should have done a "remove the goddamn semi-colons" revision, probably. Um. Not to draw your attention to them if you had just skimmed over them before. Wherever I go, I shed commas and semi-colons, apparently.
You know where it began: with a flood and kinkilling. You have blood on your hands from the start, but that was normal, that was your life. They all died and you with them, endlessly.
See commentary on the originals for blabbering about that.
You must have been back uncountable times. You must have walked the same worn paths you used to walk with your brothers. You must have looked up at the same stars you used to admire with your wives. You must have been back thousands of times before.
You must have been back. You have only never recognized home when you have seen it, when you have stood atop their graves. You have returned, you must have returned. You have only not known it.
This is one of those deliberate twists and responses to the original fic.
You trace events and memories through the sands of time, trailing a thread behind you to find your way forwards and backwards. But it is not simple; everything is intertwined, until, abruptly, it ends: the knot cut clean through.
The thread metaphor probably saved this fic. It gave me a thread to run through it (ha ha) and tie everything together, and also gave me the line that gave me the title.
The thread in the dark to go back and forth is the Minotaur myth. In this metaphor, I guess Methos is Theseus, which is just wrong. Methos is obviously the monster. I probably cannot anvil that enough.
Possibly you could replace all of my fics ever in this fandom with METHOS IS THE MONSTER OKAY and you wouldn't lose much...
To begin to speak of Kronos requires you to define brotherhood, and this you cannot do. You know who is we. You know who you are and who stands beside you. You can define it by its negation: you know who you are not. But you cannot explain how that line is crossed. It's merely journeys, but the crossing between them and me is one you do not understand.
A civilized man would speak of shared humanity; you aren't civilized. You weep over killing a brother, but never an enemy. You can define an enemy, but never a brother.
One thing nudging at me was the idea of fraternity and the gulf between "us" and "them". I have some ramblings on this when it comes to Methos, but no real conclusions. He's a loner, but he definitely had a type when it comes to
boyfriends Immortals he's attracted to being friends with, and possibly fucking. Kronos, Byron, and Duncan are all somewhat similar, and Methos revolves around them. How separate he keeps himself, I don't know. But he definitely has a type.
And then there's Joe and that's probably another type. I do ship Joe/Methos, but I wonder if Methos does have various kinds of types. There's the Immortal Boyfriend type, there's the Mortal Woman type, and then the Pwning Librarian type. Methos might see himself as being like Joe, just the Immortal kind of version. If you think about Joe's history and Methos's histories, and then their presents, and the ways they strike off each other...
Yeah, some ramblings but no real conclusions. Methos has friends and lovers and enemies and people who break his heart, and there's overlap between those categories.
MacLeod would say you are deliberately misunderstanding your own history, and perhaps he is correct.
MacLeod probably is correct.
When you left him, you remember, you left angry.
This whole part was a very late addition, because I needed something to anchor Methos leaving and the lines about cowardice and civilization and being tame.
Kronos used to know to never let you grow bored. You were always at your most dangerous when you were bored. Too much time to think, too much time to let grow what would have been better never sown. Perhaps that is the tragedy of your life: you have had too much time.
If Enoch is about dying young or too early (which, yeah, the title itself is a reference to dying young), then this is about dying old or even too late.
You know these legends:
Here is the truth:
See what I said about meshing? I added those lines so I could mesh this stuff together. Yay cutting and pasting.
And you have just done it again. You are Methos: you stab your enemies in the back once, but your brothers twice.
This might be my favorite line in the fic. Methos the pragmatist, except for when he's not, except for when he knows you should die but desperately does not want to be the one to kill you. But it's not exactly a mercy; he is stabbing them twice, after all. (CAH/R68 in short: Methos and Kronos know they should kill each other, but can't bring themselves to do it. Thankfully, they made sure to invite Duncan to this party.)
You know where you began: you know your birth and its time. This, MacLeod understands. MacLeod understands birth at auspicious times, at foretold times, at times generations will remember. MacLeod understands generations never knowing the day of their birth and what it means when an orphan does.
Because if I'm going to fuck up the birthday, which thankfully was not blatant in And Fray so whew, well, if I'm going to fuck it up once, I might as well drop it in here and put a band-aid on it.
Joe can understand calendar confusion and you let him assume it is that. A day is always a day, one and one making two but becoming uncountable. Days are like words; they can be impossible to translate. Years rise and fall with languages, but go no further.
Calendars are weird and complicated and hard, that is all.
This is the age where they have vanquished the night and banished it utterly from their realm. You are Methos, born of silent shadows. You are Methos, who cleans his teeth with knives and tears. You are Methos, and you walk among them.
Relatively late addition, added as a segue. I'm not sure how well it works, but I like it too much.
You are still alive, and you tell your stories, your flaws on display, and the strength of the tales draws them in.
"You tell your stories, your flaws on display..." whole bit was originally the start of a section.
But you survive and you tell your stories. You have no other purpose: you are the example, you are the monster, you are the story. Stories breathe spirit; stories are always true.
I'd had the you decide the truth bit in there forever, and later added this part because I need to set that up. The section I cut in December because fucking hell it was not working was more about truth and stuff, and I tried to salvage what I could. Methos was just contradicting himself all over the place, though, and that's hard to clean-up and hard to deal with.
Methos and the truth: it's complicated.
It matters like the grave you dig for Kronos.
And the Watchers want trivia. Details. Facts. Their idol is the truth and most of the time, you'll play their games. But not now. Never now. The Watchers kill the past and display it in a museum.
This is what remains of the digression about truth and chronicles and memoir and such, about Methos lying and telling the truth and, yeah, even he doesn't know the difference by this point, but that's MISSING THE POINT, JOE, YOU ARE MISSING THE ENTIRE POINT OF STORIES.
A thousand years ago, the horsemen rode together for the last time. Now, you write in your journal and you call it a comeback tour. You write five pages of sarcasm and cynicism and pain. You finish it with a flourish. Your hand is not shaking.
This is me fixing the fact that I got Darius's timeline wrong by a thousand years. So I'm fixing it the way I said I would, by going with the throw-away line that it's been a thousand years, so they might have had a short comeback tour and then disbanded again, which is why, later, the last time Methos sees Kronos is not when he throws him down a well.
Your dreams are full of the power, but you are no longer willing to pay the price.
Because Methos loved it. Because Methos misses it. Because Methos knows the price is too high for him to keep paying. But he misses it. Oh, how he misses it. Don't fight it, feel it.
The champions of this age are soft-hearted, tender, and all the more dangerous for it. You had understood Kronos's feints, his jabs, his thrusts. Kronos was imminently understandable. Dangerous, in his way, but you could predict him. You could always predict him.
That Methos can understand Kronos, and that's valuable, and that might even be part of what made him his brother. They're the same, or close enough that it doesn't matter anyway. But Duncan is something different. Duncan is something Methos can't really understand, and that's mutual.
You have lived your life between the wars.
East Coker, again: "So here I am, in the middle way, having had twenty years—/
Twenty years largely wasted, the years of l'entre deux guerres".
Knowledge is never an absolute. You have known languages once that you cannot even hear in your dreams anymore. Keeping journals has taught you about languages, about writing systems, about change, and about yourself. They have taught you about forgetting and its value. Your journals are grouped into five major languages. Your major project for this century is cutting that down to two.
Translations are never exact, never perfect, and they breed errors like rabbits. But your journals are not history, they are memoir, and sometimes not even that.
Possibly another summary for this: he can't translate years or languages or anything. Because my Methos is an alien dropped into the modern world and living in it without really understanding it. He doesn't understand it, it doesn't understand him, and Kronos just came out of his past and fuck you, Kronos, you should have stayed in the past, you shouldn't have tempted me, this is all your fault.
Kronos is, like him, someone out of his own time, but Kronos is drowning in the modern world and wants to go back to the Good Old Days and get the old crowd back together and have another come back tour. And Methos is so, so, so intensely tempted. But Methos has changed enough, so he resists. So he decides Kronos has to die, that this has to end. Because the reasons the Horsemen disbanded are still valid reasons, and are all the more valid for all the time that has passed. The days of the Horsemen are over, and Kronos can't see that. Methos can, and that's why he survives. Because he's changed.
A summary Neil Gaiman has given for the Sandman series is that Morpheus realizes he has to either change or die, and then makes his choice. I think that's valid for Methos as well. He's realized he has to change or die and he decides to change, because he doesn't want to die, he doesn't want a tombstone. And yet he's surrounded by people he loves (Kronos, Caspian, Silas, and Byron), who can't change, who cling to the past, and so they die. And who think he's changed for the worse, not the better.
But just because he's changed doesn't mean he doesn't want to change back, that he isn't oh so tempted by what Kronos is dangling in front of him. Because he knows it won't work, but even still... even with that, it's something he understands, it's in his bones, it's his private language. He longs for it, because he understands it and he loves it, and he doesn't understand the modern age. But, unlike Kronos, Methos loves the modern age and embraces it, too. It's not his age, but that's not the point. Methos can live in it. He's not of it, but he lives there and, while he misses the old days, he doesn't want to go back to them. Well, he does, but not enough. He wants to go back there, but he knows it's a bad want, he knows it's instinctive, not well-thought-out, he knows wanting it isn't the same as should do it.
It comes back to the line at the beginning: You have been running from him for a long time -- from him, from yourself, from what you were and what you still might be, if you let yourself. Here and now, you tell yourself, you are burying it in his grave.
So, yeah. That sums it up, basically. Kronos wants to return to the Good Old Days. Methos is suspicious of nostalgia and, hey, there's a good reason they broke up, and also, those were some pretty Bad Old Days, so let's not go back there, Kronos, please? And then Kronos says no, and so he has to die.
But oh how he misses it. Kronos tempted him, but Methos has changed enough, but oh how he misses it. The freedom, the power... he misses it. He misses it so much. But, no, he won't go back, he won't, he won't, goddammit he won't.
I really do want to see Methos in Megalomaniacs Anonymous. *bribes people*
Your journals are yours and for you alone: you decide their purpose. You dictate their use. They are yours like nothing else, because words were yours, the scholar, the sandstorm, the spirit of the east. You thundered down from the mountains and you brought writing with you in your grip, more powerful, more precious, more dangerous than any sword.
Because that's who Methos is. Words are his weapons. Swords kill you, but words change you.
This is power and it is yours, unquestionably, unbegrudgingly, unthinkingly. Your brothers had never understood.
I do not care that unbegrudgingly isn't actually a real word according to Word and internet searches.
You can dream in obsolete languages. You can translate your own thoughts, now completely incomprehensible to the modern era, from Sumerian to Egyptian to Latin to French. And they stretch and compress, they change with the dictionary, but you are content so long as the idea remains true.
It's all threads in the dark. It only needs to lead you forwards and backwards. You don't need to see it to know that it's there. It's feeling, only. Only feeling.
You can describe strange vistas, deserts, earthquakes, and floods. You can describe your families, your children. You have shorthands for them all, for the ones who survived and the ones who didn't, the ones who left to war and the ones who came back as strange and different creatures, born anew in slaughter. Your kin, made newly kin by the transformation.
Another case of a direct response.
You can hear it, still. You can hear it on the wind, in the whistling cold. You close your eyes with the thrust of the shovel and you can feel Kronos's fingers in your hair, pushing it back over your shoulder. You can feel his hands on yours, taking the shovel from you. Let me, brother. You can feel his ghost wrapped around you and beyond him, you open your eyes and you see them all.
And so here, instead of Kaddish, I return to the burial itself, and bring out the ghosts.
Memory, and your brothers, have faded and frayed like old threads never mended. Blood-stained and shredded, like bodies never buried.
And, finally, seven years later, I finally explain the title! \o/ Well, I finally have a reason for the title. Same thing.
And it's done, it's done, it's done! *parties*