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I don't care if your name is Michael, yer gonna need some boards! - Fic: Development Hell, chapter 4 and epilogue

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February 6th, 2013


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09:18 pm - Fic: Development Hell, chapter 4 and epilogue
Right, so here's the last chapter.

Title: Development Hell
Author: Beer Good ([personal profile] beer_good_foamy)
Fandom: Buffyverse, post-"Chosen"
Rating: PG13
Word Count: ~3000 (this chapter)
Characters/Pairings: Let's see, there's Buffy, Andrew, Lorne, and a couple of OCs. Angel and Spike show up too. Various other characters as well as canonical pairings will be alluded to, played with, and lovingly frosted with glucose. Also, any similarities to actual Hollywood actors are entirely coincidental, I swear.
Summary: While killing time in Rome, Buffy runs into a new Slayer with a shocking secret. Now, she's going to have to face her past to keep both herself and those around her from a Fate Worse Than Death... Hollywood.

Previously on Development Hell:
Chapter 1, in which Buffy meets and rescues someone claiming to be Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Chapter 2, in which things are explained
Chapter 3, in which groups get all focusy

Development Hell
Chapter 4 and epilogue: In which acting is all about subterfuge

The lobby was big. Not in the "Oh my god, your bathroom is huge" sense, more along the lines of "Flight 209 for Chicago is now departing from gate 8, 9 and 10". Lights, publicity photos and movie posters were arranged to make anyone who didn't belong here feel tiny, like they could step through any door and into an entirely different world. Buffy might have wondered if this was genuine black magic or just a trick of interior decorating, and might even have given Willow a ring to ask about a counterspell before she fell headfirst into some epic digitally enhanced fantasy world or gritty 1970s social drama.

Instead, they were immediately intercepted by a man who appeared from the other end of the lobby and yet somehow seemed to immediately draw their attention to himself. Woah, Buffy thought, I guess that's what they call star quality. Or maybe it's just the pirate costume and the eyeshadow.

"MacKenzie! Darling!" He waved to them with his large triangular hat. "So good to see you again!"

"Mist... Donny! It's great to be back!" The two stars went through a slightly awkward elaborate mwah-mwah cheek kissing procedure.

"How was Rome? I haven't been there in ages."

"Oh, it was fabulous. Here, I want you to meet someone. Donny Japp, this is Buffy."

The movie star turned to the other woman, his jaw dropping just slightly. "What, you mean, as in..."

"As in THE Buffy Summers, the one, the only original Vampire Slayer."

"Fantastic," he cried and bent to kiss her hand. "It's so good to meet you, Miss Summers - may I call you Buffy? We're all really big fans here."

"Oh my God." She knew she was gushing in a pretty embarrassing way, but somehow couldn't help herself. "I loved you in Pirates Of The North Sea. And Fright And Disgust In San Diego. And Teddy Knifehands. And... 21 Jump Avenue..." She giggled nervously. "Sorry, but do you ever, like, age at all?"

"Not if I can help it," he laughed with the sort of ease that comes from many years of being asked the same question. "Listen, Buffy," he added with a flirtatious wink, "the Producers sent me down to fetch you guys so we could all talk things through, but I know they want to talk to MacKenzie here first, so what say you and me go get a cup of coffee in the meantime and we'll join them later?"

Well, who would say no to that? She was here to find out how movies were made, after all. If MacKenzie wanted to know what it was like to be a Slayer, fine; step one is to face her demons on her own.

***


As tempting as it might be to listen in on their date, one thing that both Vampire Slayers and Movie Stars have in common is that they get far too little privacy. So let's just stick with the real hero of this story as she got into the executive elevator to face the Producers on her own.

No, really, trust me on this.

It's odd how something called an executive elevator doesn't seem to actually do anything, she reflected as she stepped inside and the doors closed. There was no muzak (executives can afford to not be tortured), no sense of movement, nothing indicating which floors she passed. Still, when the doors opened, she found herself on a different floor - judging from the view of most of California through the huge windows, one rather very extremely high up. So this is where the entertainment capital of the world is run from, she thought.

"MacKenzie Williams? You can go right in." A secretary behind a desk, looking so spotless and perfect as to seem computer-generated (and the desk was pretty neat too) nodded to her. A pair of enormous office doors opened on their own, and she gulped, waded through the thick wall-to-wall carpet, and stepped inside.

Inside, it was pitch dark. She stood there, waiting, until a squeaky, jolly-sounding yet oddly menacing voice addressed her. "Hi, MacKenzie! Great to have you back!" She saw a white-gloved hand reach out and push a button, and a dim light came on in the room.

Sitting in two large leather chairs were a huge cartoon mouse and an equally huge badly CGI'd fox, both smoking cigars. The fox gave her an unfriendly look. "Is it really, Mister Mouse?", he said in a slight Australian accent. "With her actions over the last couple of days, I'm not sure I trust her."

"Oh boy! That's a good point, Mister Fox! She was supposed to study the Slayer, and now she seems to be trying to help her stop the movie from being made instead. Oh, MacKenzie, whatever are we supposed to do with you?" The two producers puffed on their cigars in perfect synchronisation.

The young actress looked at them. "So, you guys are... demons?"

The fox grinned, showing his teeth. "Technically we're anthropomorphic representations of the big conglomerates in the entertainment business, but 'demon' will do, I suppose."

"That's right, Mister Fox!" The mouse leaned forward again, winking at her. "MacKenzie, we've given you a heck of an opportunity here. For your own sake, I don't think you should throw that away. What do you say, huh?"

"I guess." The young actress gave them a dejected look. "You guys really don't have any new ideas at all, do you?"

The mouse smiled magnanimously, his sharp teeth glinting. "Well, it's all for your own good! We've been doing this for a long time, and we know what people want. Just think of us as your view... uh, Watchers."

She raised an eyebrow. "Really? Because as far as I've heard, Buffy's watcher lets her handle her own destiny."

The fox thumped his fist on the chair's armrest. "Don't speak of him! He's an embarrassment to people named Rupert!"

"People named Rupert can be embarrassed?"

"That's enough, you!" the mouse snapped. "This isn't up for debate. This story is about true love and heroism, and that story always goes the same way it's always gone: The Hero, the Sidekick, and the Girl. If that makes things difficult for Buffy Summers, gee, that's too bad, but that's not our problem. People want to see what they're used to seeing, and we and our various colleagues pay good money to make sure this story gets told. If it's not, people might start forgetting it. And we wouldn't want that to happen, would we, Mister Fox?"

"No, we wouldn't like that at all, Mister Mouse." The fox shook his head. "So you just act like you're told, missy, and someday your prince will come."

The mouse shot the fox an annoyed look and seemed about to say something about copyright, but then turned back to the young woman. "Is that clear?"

She thought for a few seconds, walked around the room and examined the various awards, statuettes, signed photos and luxury watches on display with the prerequisite sense of awe. "You know, I have a feeling if the real Buffy was here, you guys would be in trouble. She's good at beating demons up."

"But she's not, is she, my dear?" The mouse chuckled evilly. "And in case you get any ideas yourself, remember who's paid for all your fight training. It looks good on camera, but in real life..." He laughed. "Well, to quote a phrase: you fight like a cow."

"Yeah?" She suddenly turned and faced them. "Then how about a trip to Pamplona?"

Both Producers frowned, and a certain hush fell over the room. "Wh-what is that supposed to mean, Mister Fox?"

"I believe it's a 'quip', Mister Mouse. She's making a reference to the bull runnings at Pamplona. Far too obscure for your audience, of course."

The mouse's large ears twitched. "Golly, you don't say, Mister Fox? Then how would you know about it?"

"It was part of my news channel's exposé of how communism is rampaging through Europe," the fox replied with fairly balanced pride.

"I see. It seems she's learned something from the Slayer after all." The mouse turned to the actress. "But that doesn't make her the Slayer."

"Actually it does," she replied. "Sorry if my quipping's a bit rusty, but as I keep telling people, I'm on vacation. All I wanted was to hang around Rome and drink coffee and shop and go to parties. I even bought a tea cozy - do you guys know how hard it is to find a tea cozy in Italy? But apparently I don't get to do that, instead I have to come to LA and pretend that I'm not the real Slayer so there'll still be a real Slayer."

The Producers looked at her, then shared a slightly are-you-buying-this look with each other, then looked back at her. "Uh... come again?"

"What, you guys really can't tell us apart? Seriously? I am Buffy the Vampire Slayer," Buffy said, for it was indeed she and had been all along. "MacKenzie might have her quirks, but she knows how this business works and figured you'd want to see her first, so we just switched clothes. She sang to Lorne to let him know what we were up to without any of your spies hearing it, and Lorne clued Donny Japp in since he's been a client of Wolfram & Hart for like a hundred years. I didn't think it would actually work, but either this acting thing is totally easy or you guys don't even watch your own shows. Also, I just missed out on a date with Donny Japp, and I'm not happy right now."

The two Producers looked tensely at each other. "Now that she mentions it, Mister Mouse, I did think her performance was a bit stiff."

"And you didn't say anything?"

The fox stubbed out his cigar. "She's supposed to be one of your actresses. They all look alike to me, and I wouldn't trust any of them to do a credible performance as themselves."

"Why thank you, Mister Fox," the mouse squealed between gritted teeth. "Hey, wasn't it your idea to keep the lights down to 'keep her in the dark'? And I'm still not sure this isn't a desperate ploy by an untalented actress who - "

"Ooops." Buffy "accidentally" snapped the head off the Best Picture Academy Award for Patton.

" - 'se ideas are really important to us," the mouse quickly continued, "and whom we wouldn't dream of excluding from this project, and who, I want to add, still passes for nineteen?"

"Exactly," the fox added while he opened up a conveniently located minibar and quickly gulped down a shot of bourbon. "May we offer you a drink, Miss... sorry, Ms Summers? Violence never did anyone any good - no, please put down the Golden Globe for The French Connection - let's discuss this like rational cartoons instead. I mean, we're not bad, we're just written that way. Aren't we, Mister Mouse?"

The mouse glared at him. "Why you...! Do you want me to sue you? Because I will!" He then quickly turned back to Buffy with a bright smile. "What do you say, huh? Let's make a deal!"

Buffy seemed to consider it. "OK. Let me just make a phone call first."

The mouse rubbed his hands in not entirely convincing enthusiasm. "Hot dog!"

***


By the time Lorne, MacKenzie and Donny Japp joined them, the lights had been turned up, the cigar smoke aired out, and Buffy was sipping a quite passable cappuccino.

"Hi, folks!", the mouse greeted them, still trying to sound his old cheery self. "Boy, you were all in on it, huh? You sure fooled us, haha!"

"Sorry about that," MacKenzie said. "It's not that it wouldn't be awesome to get to play Buffy on the big screen and be an action hero and all that, but you know I'm kinda sick of being just an actress and doing what the director tells me because I really think I have a lot of ideas and so I really want to get into producing, so I figured that hey, if I could get Buffy alone in a room with you guys, worst case scenario for me would be you convinced her to let me do the movie, and if I got really lucky she'd make you see that I'm kind of like her so you'd let me do my own thing, which, check me out!"

Buffy looked at her. "Did you even breathe for any of that? I mean, yeah, that's, uh, totally the plan."

"So, what is it you want, Ms Summers?", the fox asked.

"You know," Buffy started, "I've been at war since I was 15."

"Um..." Lorne raised his hand, "Sorry, but is this going to be one of your long speeches? Because Spike said - "

"I'm on vacation," Buffy replied. She sighed. "Fine. You tell them."

"Right," Lorne said. "So the way we see it, you want a story about heroes saving the world, and you've got those signed up already with my friends, who yours truly is trying his damnedest to keep from being corrupted by Wolfram & Hart, who really want to make an example of Angel, and - "

"Uh-huh," MacKenzie interrupted. "So you know how reality shows are really popular right now? How about instead of making a movie series, you make a TV series about two vampires and their friends running an evil law firm and slowly becoming corrupted by it? They can star as themselves and everyone will think it's real, so Wolfram & Hart will get the public corruption they want, you will get the hit you want, Angel gets to run Wolfram & Hart the way he wants, and Buffy gets to stay out of it."

"And you?"

"I get to co-produce."

The fox sat up straight. "This is beyond insolence - WOAAH!" He hit the floor in a most ungraceful duck as MacKenzie tossed a sword in his general direction. "Where did you even get that from?"

"That's mine, sorry." Donny Japp picked up the pirate sword and stuck it back in its sheath, making sure to stand a few feet away from MacKenzie from now on.

"Gee, folks," the mouse quickly said, "there's no need to get upset, haha. Mister Fox? Do you think you could give the brothers Warner a call and set something up?"

"Certainly, Mister Mouse," the fox said as he shakily got to his feet. "Unless Ms Summers has any objections...?"

"Actually, do you know what?" Buffy walked over to the fox and whispered something in his ear.

"Really?"

Buffy shrugged. "Hey, they're the one who got me into this mess."

"Fine," the fox said. "I'll give the Jim Henson Company a ring too."

Lorne quickly drew up the paperwork, and the deal was finalised. The mouse waved as they got into the elevator, still trying to cover his frustration and humiliation under a deep layer of cartoon peppiness. "Have fun! See ya real soon! Pleasure doing business with you!"

"To infinity, and beyOW!" The fox yelped as the mouse kicked him in the shin.

The elevator doors had barely closed before MacKenzie let forth a mighty squee and hugged Buffy. "YAY! Thank you so much! I could never have done this without you!"

"Uh, you're welcome." Buffy extricated herself from the hug. "So you're cool with not getting to play me? Because as much as I hate to say it, you'd have made a pretty good - "

"Are you kidding?" MacKenzie didn't let her finish. "I'm in the fast lane now! Once I turn this into a successful TV series, I'll be able to run this town the way it should be run. Girl power, right? It's just like what you did, except I don't get a scythe. Do you think I should have a scythe? I mean, I could keep it in my office, and use it to intimidate directors, and..."

Buffy ignored MacKenzie's planning and turned to Donny Japp. "So why did you go along with this? I mean, not that I'm not really grateful, but it cost you a role, and I guess it can't have made you popular with the Producers...?"

Japp laughed. "Well, it was a pretty dull role. Does he really brood that much?"

"Um..."

"But mostly, it was just fun. I got into this because I loved acting, not paychecks. And besides, like you said, I've been doing this for a while now. People are starting to ask questions. I'm thinking it's probably time for a little change of scenery." He smiled. "Come to think of it, I haven't been to Rome in ages. There used to be this really romantic little restaurant on the Viale Valadier, I'd love to buy you dinner as thanks for this little adventure...?"

Buffy blushed. "Wh-what? Really? Me? And you? Nah. Seriously? And besides, what about - "

"You're on vacation, aren't you?"

"When you put it that way..."

As they exited the elevator, Buffy and Donny shared a taxi towards the airport, and Lorne and MacKenzie watched them go.

"So..." MacKenzie frowned. "She knows he's an immortal, right?"

"I have a feeling she's going to find out. She can handle it."

***


Epilogue - a few months later

The gang stood around in shock as the severity of Fred's condition really set in. She was dying, taken over by an ancient hellgod, and there seemed to be nothing they could do to stop it. Angel looked at them and said "Guys - "

"You don't have to say it," Wesley said.

"I'll say it anyway. 'Winifred. Burkle.' Seriously? That's the line?"

"CUT!" MacKenzie groaned. "Angel, please. Just say the line."

Angel checked his script. "You don't think it's a little... cheesy?"

"Yeah," Spike added. "And what about my line? 'Not this girl, not this day'? Like I can pencil it in for Tuesday or something?"

"I kinda like it," Fred said from her chair, still in make-up from her hospital scene. "I mean, we know you're going to fail, so it'll be ironic and - "

"...and makes me look like I can barely remember your name, let alone do anything to save you," Angel said. "At least you get to have a big death scene and spend the rest of the season in leather pants. They replaced me with a puppet for a whole episode."

"'A whole episode'?" Spike scoffed. "Boo hoo. Try being a bleedin' ghost for half the season."

Angel continued, "And they had us be outsmarted by Andrew! If I didn't know any better, I'd say this whole thing was set up to make us look like a couple of idiots."

"That's silly," MacKenzie laughed. "What, like some, I dunno, ex-girlfriend of yours managed to threaten the network into making you both look foolish in public? Please, what are the odds of that?"

Angel frowned. "What are you - "

"Angelbums," Lorne quickly interrupted. "It's just 42 minutes every week pretending to be a slightly different version of yourself, in exchange for getting to do whatever you want with Wolfram & Hart in reality. But hey, if that's too much for you, just say the word and they'll replace you with Steve Carrell."

"Really? Steve Carrell would play me on TV?"

"What? No, he'd be CEO of Wolfram & Hart."

MacKenzie tried to bring them back on topic. "Can we just shoot the scene now?"

Angel shrugged. "Fine. But I don't want to be doing this forever. Can't we just have them draw a comic or something instead?"

"I'll see what I can do," MacKenzie promised, safe in the knowledge that this show would be on the air for years to come. "Aaaaand... action!"

THE END




Originally posted at http://beer-good-foamy.dreamwidth.org/191601.html. Feel free to comment at either site.
Current Music: Eurythmics - Wrap It Up

(12 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:gillo
Date:February 6th, 2013 09:32 pm (UTC)
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I love it!

"What, like some, I dunno, ex-girlfriend of yours managed to threaten the network into making you both look foolish in public? Please, what are the odds of that?" - wicked but entirely believable.

The fox and the people named Rupert? Still giggling.
[User Picture]
From:beer_good_foamy
Date:February 6th, 2013 10:39 pm (UTC)
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Thanks! It's funny, but the more I think about the idea that season 5 of Angel is an elaborate in-universe crackfic RPS, the more sense it makes.

And if there's an All Ruperts Club somewhere, I'd like to think that Giles is hanging out at the bar with Rupert Everett while Rupert Murdoch mopes at a table of his own.
[User Picture]
From:slaymesoftly
Date:February 6th, 2013 10:51 pm (UTC)
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LOL - Wonderful! *runs to kitchen to bake cookies*

[User Picture]
From:beer_good_foamy
Date:February 7th, 2013 10:38 am (UTC)
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Thanks!
[User Picture]
From:waddiwasiwitch
Date:February 6th, 2013 11:10 pm (UTC)
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This story was just too funny. :) Donnie Japp an immortal. Tee hee.
[User Picture]
From:beer_good_foamy
Date:February 7th, 2013 10:38 am (UTC)
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Thank you! Hey, it's what happens when you have Keith Richards for a dad. :)
[User Picture]
From:zanthinegirl
Date:February 7th, 2013 08:53 am (UTC)
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The fox thumped his fist on the chair's armrest. "Don't speak of him! He's an embarrassment to people named Rupert!"

Hee!

"What, like some, I dunno, ex-girlfriend of yours managed to threaten the network into making you both look foolish in public? Please, what are the odds of that?"

Bwaa-haa-haa!

This goes a long way to explaining season 8 too!

[User Picture]
From:beer_good_foamy
Date:February 7th, 2013 12:18 pm (UTC)
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Thanks a lot!

This goes a long way to explaining season 8 too!

MacKenzie went on to work for Black Pony comics. Trufax.
[User Picture]
From:shapinglight
Date:February 8th, 2013 01:02 pm (UTC)
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Hee! That explains so much.

And when I said those silhouettes at the end of the previous part would be evil, I didn't think they'd be that evil.
[User Picture]
From:beer_good_foamy
Date:February 9th, 2013 12:26 am (UTC)
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Thanks!

And they're not evil, really, just short on ideas. (Which might be the same thing in this setting.) If I wanted to be fair, I'd have had a subplot here about the mouse and the fox battling evil pirates who steal all their... cheese or something. But who wants to be fair. :)
[User Picture]
From:treadingthedark
Date:February 8th, 2013 02:36 pm (UTC)
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"Really? Steve Carrell would play me on TV?"

"What? No, he'd be CEO of Wolfram & Hart."

Bwaha!

Fun! Thanks.
[User Picture]
From:beer_good_foamy
Date:February 9th, 2013 12:27 am (UTC)
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I've never seen an Office/Angel crossover, but I think it'd work nicely.

Thanks!

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