I know I've used it before but the idea that a single character can become undead two different ways at once, because the vampire gets their body but not their soul, has a lot of mileage.
And I have this idea for a trans character who looked around for a model of masculinity and decided: William the Bloody. So they've got a poster up in the back of their closet and they pretty much cosplay him and since they needed a guy name amyway then Will is a good one, and it's somewhere between an in joke and freedom. They're serious, but they realise that's pretty funny.
But they're more of a Watcher than a vampire, when we start. So they have this whole tweedy look for their day job at the library that mostly carries through to their night job in the magical world and people would think they're more of a Giles but they've got this grin inside because they know it's really bad poet edition. But then to go party it's all black denim and leather duster time. So they kind of aspire to be Spike. But they weren't planning on the universe taking them up on it.
So they start the story human, dive in to the kind of adventure that would piss off the local vampire queen, think they've won. Leave to go home just as the sun starts rising.
Reappear in their boyfriend's bedroom, before the shadows shorten.
And turn up at the pub that night, wearing Spike easier than they ever had, to maximum effect.
Actually maximum effect wouldn't leave us regular characters to play with, but, something messy and immediate, in the be careful what you wish for vein.
And at this point the story has a problem, because it looks like we've set up diversity just to kill it, which is always suck and I've seen before. Though that was a lesbian ghost not a gay one. So I might have to tell this in flashback from when a real, alive, human beloved is walking around older and wiser and pretty okay. Because otherwise I'll lose the exact audience might want to see themselves.
But the flashback would have to be from a massive great cliffhanger, something high stakes, probably apocalyptic given the genre. Because otherwise flashbak takes a lot of the zing out.
Oh, but there's magic, so we can loop it like it's a flashfoward, like we start in the dark near apocalyptic future with a vampire queen trying to open the hellmouth, then younger dude opens his eyes in the middle of a ritual, they act to avert, and the rest kicks off. But we know he's alive eventually. Probably. Hmm, twisty, could work, needs work.
Anyway, the part I want to play with is the multiple nature of man. Especially if you're trans. So initially, when he's human, he looks kind of ordinary. Like, just got up, needs to stop at Tescos, not putting maximum effort into this, ordinary. And he looks like a man because trans men are men so of course he looks like a man. And he's had top surgery, and if we start when he wakes up we can see the scars. But there's ways he could look more masculine. Hmm, now I'm wondering if showing the work is more what I mean here, like showing him getting dressed and choosing a packer. I think that's key, but the end result looks like regular person.
And when he goes ghost? He looks Hollywood. Like, full on, it takes a hair and makeup and wardrobe department, personal trainer, maybe a chef, and even then a lot of messing around with lighting and so forth. But the end result is to look effortlessly awesome. He's the man he's always been in his head. The easy way to show that would be human him in regular clothes but ghost him has the same things only tailored. He looks great in them but we never see him have to put the work in.
And then there's the vampire. And here's the shuddery bit, because, vampires heal, right? So you could have a version that heal from any injury. Or surgery. Even if it happened before they died. So, vampire him might start out all swagger because he's got his Spike on now, but over time, that wears off, because he starts to get his old body back.
And I know it's problematic making minorities into literal monsters, but I just ... If you try and explain being trans to the average person, they get confused, because they get it backwards in their heads. So they imagine if they start their cisgendered sex and wanted to change that to another. And that's not going to feel right. Because it's backwards. It feels like you've started as your own self but then puberty happened and boom, boobs, whether you like them or not, and now everyone thinks you're a woman. ... I'm nonbinary so it's not simples, and everyone is different, but, if you want to explain how it feels to be trans, I think telling it backwards maybe helps. So we start out with a guy, but their body is getting all feminised, and they hate it so much. They feel all twisted up. Like they're becoming a monster. And it's a horror story, but not because monster might attack, but because empathising with monster. So vampire isn't the obvious choice for that one, it's maybe a werewolf or beauty and the beast gig, but. I like vampires? And might possibly have thought about being one? But being stuck being one would suck. So. Here's a horror story about a vampire queen deciding you're a vampire princess whether you like it or not. Suffer.
But getting all violent and aggressive ie buying into toxic masculinity isn't going to fix anything either.
So they're a vampire, but it's like the middle of the story.
I don't know, turning feels into demons is what horror stories are for, but when it's personal yet political I just... I don't know, maybe it takes more skill to tell? Maybe I shouldn't even go there?
But the thing is in the middle this trans man is experiencing life two ways. One as this spirit self who is clearly the man they've always wanted to be and has love and a calling and everything is awesome, except for the not being able to touch anything or anyone or do things that don't start as voice communication to a willing human. The other is this body that seems increasingly distorted, trapped in a half life, full of anger and despair, where plenty of people want to touch and doing physical things is really easy but the people that want his body just increasingly creep him out. And they hate each other, for all the things they ar and are not, and all the ways they make it impossible to live happily like this. And vampire him is realising all this angry lashing out is wrecking even the bits of life he thought he'd still be able to do, but ghost him is realising that being your dream self and living the dream is not so much use, leaves him disconnected and drifting, latching on to one specific person more than is fair.
So as I mentioned before I've told the vampire vs ghost thing before and it resolved by killing the vampire. Which is... not optimal.
Spike managed better.
Vampire self hits the point where even he knows he's gone too far. And that has to have to do with true love, if we're following through on the persona parallels. So, he feeds on his boyfriend, but stops before killing him. And it's the irreconcilable, that he would hurt him in the first place, that what he is now would stop. So he finally breaks down, and when he does, he gets a visit.
From the spirit of Spike.
... and yes, this could be done very poorly. But belief shapes us and he's believed enough in Spike to reshape himself. Spike is plenty real to him.
Only he doesn't get the clips and quotes he's been running on so far. He gets an older man, brown hair, dressed as Spike. He gets a man who knows who he pretended to be, but has had a rad bit more life experience since then. And they have a chat.
At the same exact time, across town, the ghost gets a visitor too.
Because they're still connected? Because Spike is now an actual spirit and while he's here he may as well?
... wait, if they're both ghosts at the time, he's going to try and snog him, isn't he? or is that just me...
So there's a bunch of things this 'Spike' could be, and one of them is hallucination brought on by eating the boyfriend, which could be a psychological thing or because he's on meds or because he pledged to Dionysus. Psychological, physical, magical causes, can't sort them out, but all three would mean this is the guy talking to himself. But it could also be an outside force, and if it is, there's always the chance it would be malevolent. Hamlet's ghost problem. And either way, things are fucked, so should he really be listening? Nut things are fucked, so maybe he should listen to the guy that says
if you make them change.
Red shirt Spike talks to the vampire, about anger, violence, blood. Blood screaming inside of you to work its will.
Blue shirt Spike talks to the ghost, and it starts about that one night actually sleeping together, before the end of Sunnydale. Intimacy. Love. But love isn't brains...
So from different angles it comes back to blood, and a boyfriend they endanger, can't protect. And a version of Spike that looked at this problem before...
So he talks them into getting back together.
And then it gets painful, and difficult, and nobody gets the luxury of being their perfect self yet. But they know who they are, and they know who they should be, and they've got a map. So they get their mind and body working on the same problem and start making solutions.
There's layers and parallels to work in, and also some kind of big bad plot.
Some of it in my head ties to characters completely outside this ... pair? Set?
When the still human leaves the boyfriend's house and then reappears a ghost, his beloved rushes outside and finds only his glasses. Intact. Splashed with blood.
Broken glasses are no ise no more and need replacing, glasses whole but dirty only need some care and then they wait for their owner to return. But a ghost doesn't meed glasses. So they'll be waiting a while. And it turns out all that while he's not been seeing his whole self clearly. That could work.
Feeding on the boyfriend puts him beyond helping his... guys? Guy? Would he attach hard to the ghost and reject the vampire as thoroughly as the spirit does? Would he still see the man he loved in the body he hates, and make him feel a bit betrayed? Would he still like the body either way? Same hands, same shoulders, lots of same good bits. Which could feel weird.
But if feeding on him unwilling splits him, then him feeding them willingly is the symbol of reconciliation. Not with a knife and cut arms though, that's a whole other. He'd know needles and could make nice clean bags full, but that's a bit clinical. Maybe he could get a mouthful and wake him with a kiss?
The vampire queen needs her arse kicked. But. Violence is the problem. I do not feel it should be the solution. And it always frustrated me that the possibility of shanshu was held out to be some personal reward thing. Like, all very well for Angel, but what about for vampires in general? The bit where the only way they know works is a drip of demon blood is rather a problem. Oh, or the thing where the ashes of five other vampires made a Darla. That's destructive, you'd still have to choose.
If the goal we're aiming for here is to choose love, to love yourself, and love your neighbour...
We need a way to get them all back.
So first our trans man gets back to being human the long way around. And it looks like the world is on the brink of apocalypse, with the vampire queen tearing open the doors between worlds.
... but wouldn't that just let all the souls back in?
So instead of a final boss fight there's making everyone else do like he did, to get back to their fuller and more authentic selves.
No leaving their anger behind, no sitting in any kind of afterlife while there's work to be done.
So then by the end of the story there maybe are no monsters, potentially nobody is undead, and certainly our hero and his beloved are both living well.
So what was set up as the problem with the flashback/forward at the start, vampire queens and ghosts and the underworld being open, it all gets solved by taking the long way around.
And our hero is left... actually unscarred, which is the problem here, they would prefer scarred thanks... but they only have to redo work they've already done and this time they'll not be limited by the model they looked up to. Because Spike never got this far. They're doing this bit themselves.
I think that kind of works.
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