One Moment In Time: a Guide to Writing Giles/Olivia shipper fic
written by Gileswench
She appeared in just three episodes, and in one of those she wasn't so much herself as a piece of Giles' psyche. She appeared out of
nowhere and faded into the mists almost immediately. We never even learned her last name or where she was from.
Despite the fact we know so little of her, there was widespread fan hatred of this character. Why? Mainly, I think, because she
interrupted so many shipper fantasies. Whether the viewer wanted to see Giles with Buffy, with Willow, with Xander, with Ethan, with Oz,
with Joyce, or wanted to see him never recover from his lost love, Jenny, Olivia was in the way. She stood there brazenly in Giles' shirt
and wasn't who we wanted her to be. What's more, she complained about his cheese! The crust of her!
But once we saw a little more of her, some of us noticed something: she was a nice character with a lot of potential. We even started
seeing something of what Giles must see in her.
Despite the lack of narrative detail, we do know some important things about Olivia, and about how she would fit into Giles' life. And
when we look at these things, she fits in rather nicely. She clearly makes Giles comfortable, she makes him laugh, and she appreciates
him as a man and as a lover. These are were things Giles needed desperately at the time she appeared. What's more, she's resourceful and
a talented artist. When confronted with The Gentlemen in the middle of the night, she does a sketch of one that helps Giles identify what
they're dealing with.
Is it a great romance of the ages? Perhaps not. There are no vows spoken, even when we see them alone. There are no moments of desperate
clinging, and Giles continues on more or less as before when she's gone. He's disappointed, yes, and very clearly so, but he doesn't
protest her decision to leave. He doesn't try to convince her to stay when she's wavering on the fence. He doesn't follow her the way he
did Jenny when she broke things off with him temporarily after Eyghon possessed her.
On the other hand, there was great potential in the relationship. Had she decided to stay and confront the demons, she could well have
been an asset to the Scoobies, much as Jenny was while she was alive.
Giles likes a woman with a sense of humor and a mind of her own. Olivia has both. She's also not jealous or possessive. In fact, she
seems more than ordinarily calm about the fact that multiple nubile, attractive, barely legal girls wander in and out of his home
seemingly at their own whim. It's not that she doesn't notice the girls are there. She's just not threatened by them. That argues for
both confidence and generosity. Both are excellent qualities that Giles would value.
Olivia appears to be much younger than Giles, but she's also considerably older than the Scoobies. This is definitely in Giles' comfort
zone. Jenny, too, fit into this category. Old enough to drink, old enough to get more of Giles' references than the Scoobies, emotionally
mature, but still much younger than he is. Plus, she's English. That alone had to go a long way toward making Giles feel good.
Still, there's a great deal we don't know and that Joss and co. made no particular effort to explain to us. That means that we have to
work extra hard at filling in the blanks when writing this pairing.
We don't know when or how or where Giles and Olivia met. There's some indication that they've known each other a while, but how long
precisely is left to our imagination. We know they knew each other well enough that Giles told her about the monsters, but that she
didn't understand that he was serious about it. We know she lived far enough away that she had to take a plane to get to Sunnydale, and
that the flight is long enough to include a movie. What we don't know is where she's actually flying from. England? Quite possibly, but
not necessarily. She could be flying from New Jersey or Florida or Paris or Haiti. We simply aren't told.
It's popular fanon that Olivia is a fashion model, and there's a reference from Xander to support that. He calls her a supermodel. But
how would he know? Nothing said by anyone else supports this concept. Olivia left town never to return in January, and in May Buffy
doesn't know she's not coming back. The other Scoobies don't seem to have spent a lot more time with Giles than she has all season long,
so it seems unlikely that Xander and Giles have had a long discussion of Olivia's background and vital statistics. My theory is that
Xander is simply referring to the fact that she's extremely attractive.
Of course, there's nothing to indicate any other career for her, either. I'm just saying there's nothing in canon to limit your choice to
fashion model. Besides which, if she was a fashion model of any significance at all, wouldn't Buffy, fashion victim that she is, have
recognized her from spreads in Vogue, Elle, Cosmo, or some other popular magazine?
So, with no indication of where she came from, how they met, what she does, or what her background is, how do we write Giles/Olivia
Actually, it's not difficult. The very lack of information leaves us free to fill in the blanks in any way we choose. We can say they met
in England or in Sunnydale or on an archeological dig in Nepal and there's nobody to tell us we're wrong. We can have her come back
post-Hush and try one more time and nobody can tell us it couldn't have happened. We can have them meet again post-Chosen and try to make
things work. We can imagine a previous affair before Giles came to Sunnydale and there's no pesky canon to rework or shoehorn it in
Olivia is a character we literally can't get horribly wrong because we only saw a glimpse of her. And yet, people seem to avoid writing
about her at all. When they do it seems to almost invariably be either a nasty hatchet job or as a barely mentioned background character.
Writers don't seem to care to explore this relationship.
But when you look, there's a lot to play with. Olivia is witty, warm, mercifully free from the tendency to throw jealous hissy fits, and
strong enough to make up her own mind. All of these are traits Giles would like. She's clearly comfortable with her own sexuality. She
also appreciates Giles' sexuality.
We know all this from perhaps a dozen or so lines spread out over some three or four scenes. Entire ships have been started with less. I
know. I'm the woman who invented Kate/Joyce shipping. They never even met. Giles and Olivia have a canon relationship that lasted at
least several months.
There's room for angst, romance, smut, humor, horror, and all sorts of depth in Giles/Olivia fic. So why not take another look and see
all the possibilities? I bet you'll be glad you did.
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