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Episode 16: "Everybody's Talkin' My Baby Down"
(A 'Slayers' fanfiction by Yugure)


Some people think that Project AFTER is nothing more than a device created to instill people with as much rage and despair as possible, causing them to lose faith in humanity and ultimately pulling them down into an inescapable spiral of crushing depression. These people are absolutely correct. That said, I do like to reassure my readers with a an inspirational thought now and then, just to keep things balanced. So here's your encouraging message for this year, folks: No matter how horrible you think your life may be, at least you didn't spend your weekend reviewing a nine-page story about schmaltzy teenage romance and the lyrics to a Celine Dion song. Kind of puts the "hardships" of those starving kids in Africa into perspective, doesn't it?

How I managed to complete fifteen of these fanfiction reviews without featuring a songfic is a mystery even to me, so I suppose this was inevitable. That knowledge doesn't take the pain away, but at least I can press on feeling like I've overcome a necessary obstacle on the road to prescription drug abuse.

Songfics, for the uniformed, are stories that use the lyrics of a song to shape the structure and/or theme of the plot, usually with said lyrics written into the text at some point. I guess you could say a songfic is sort of like the literary equivalent of a fan-made music video, only much worse because they last a lot longer than music videos. Why do people write songfics? No one knows for sure, but my personal theory is that it has something to do with industrial waste making its way into the water supply.

If you're anything like me, the question now wreaking all sorts of havoc inside your brain is what the hell Celine Dion has to do with Slayers. The answer is nothing at all, and unfortunately for you and me, the author knew this. Being fully aware that a mixture of B-grade French pop and a medieval action/adventure anime was something too stupid for even the fanfiction community, the twisted mind behind this mess (belonging to a writer who goes by the name Yugure) decided it would be best to abandon the fantasy setting of Slayers and dump the cast into an Alternate Universe. So goodbye magic spells and monsters, and hello modern-day high school!

...Nope? Huh, okay. Usually, when I write something like that, the next thing that happens is I wake up in my bed screaming hysterically. I'm still in front of my computer right now, though, so I guess I'll just keep this going.

There's actually not a whole lot left to say to prepare you folks at home for what follows, simply because the whole thing is so absurd that it's almost kind of surreal. It's far from the most disgusting work ever featured on this site, but the sheer insanity of its concept gives it a certain indefinable dreadfulness that few fanfics can match. If I wasn't so pissed off right now, I'd probably be quite impressed.

As for the formatting, my comments once again remain in white text, the fanfic is in red, and the lyrics to the (s)hit song "Everybody's Talkin' My Baby Down" are marked by italics. I'm actually taking some liberties with the fic's design choices, here; Yugure originally had the narrative italicized with the song lyrics in plain text, but I decided that was dumb so I switched things around. It saves me a little bit of work and saves anyone reading this a whole lot of eyestrain. You're welcome.

 


 

- Everybody's Talkin' My Baby Down -


Disclaimer and notes: I don't own the Slayers; I simply use them in my stories. This is a Lina/Zel songfic, and it uses the song "Everybody's Talkin' My Baby Down" by Celine Dion.

Hey music artists, if you thought that illegal MP3 downloads were the worst way someone could immorally distribute your work, then think again.

People are sayin'
That boy is gonna hurt you
His kind of love is not for real
He's only playin'
Foolin' with your heart girl


I remember this song from the soundtrack Sleeping with the Enemy: Music From and Inspired by the Hit Movie.

The congregation around Lina's desk diminished in size as class started. Her best friend Amelia clambered into the seat in front of Lina's and turned around to talk.

"You've got to be kidding me, Lina. You can't possibly think he has anything to offer you!" Amelia exclaimed. Lina closed her eyes and tilted her head up to the ceiling.


"Now then, we'll begin today's lesson as soon as everyone is paying attention," said the instructor of the class as he glared rather obviously in the direction of Amelia and Lina.

"You don't know him well enough to say that," she remarked.

"Neither do you! Lina-chan, he'll hurt you. He'll leave you feeling broken and used..." Amelia persisted.


A loud tapping noise emanated from the front of the room as the teacher began rapping a piece of chalk against the blackboard. "Alright, that's enough you two. Eyes up front."

"Why do you say that?"

"Everyone knows Zelgadis's reputation. He's a bad kid. He'll get you in trouble... well, even worse than what you're usually in. And there's no way he has the same feelings for you."


"Okay, fine then! I guess you don't want to learn how photosynthesis works. Great. Have fun failing the hell out of the quiz tomorrow."

Lina opened her eyes but continued to stare at the ceiling tiles. 'Would he really? Or is he only hiding his true feeling behind that cold exterior?'

Amelia slumped in her chair and sighed loudly as she could see Lina still wasn't convinced that Zelgadis was bad news. Not that she was terribly surprised. Trying to influence her opinion once she had made up her mind about something was usually a futile effort.


"For the love of— I am NOT getting paid enough to deal with this shit! You little whores get your asses ready for a week of sitting in detention!"

But I know how he makes me feel
And I don't need any other proof
They just don't understand
They don't know the truth


Just because my baby acts uncouth
And likes to guzzle cheap vermouth
I know he loves me with the passion of youth
So I don't mind that he knocked out my tooth


Lina walked towards her usual lunch table, her tray piled high with food. She was just skirting around another table when -

"Lina, look out!" a voice yelled. Before Lina had a chance to react, a soccer ball slammed into her from behind, causing her to stumble forward and drop her lunch.


I half-expected Zelgadis to teleport in behind her and catch all her food on a tray balanced in one hand ala Tobey Maguire in Spider-Man, but I guess even Yugure realized how stupid that would be. Speaking of which; fuck you, Sam Raimi! Fuck you, old man!

Food went everywhere, and Lina ended up on her knees in the middle of the mess. Humiliation and anger burned in her cheeks as she quickly swept the garbage onto the tray to throw away.

Lina is just itching to flip her shit and shank a bitch, but she knows enough to play it cool in front of the guards.

"All right, which wise guy had the nerve to kick a soccer ball at me?" Lina yelled once she had climbed to her feet and dumped her trash.

In retrospect, putting the cafeteria next to the gymnasium without a dividing wall may have been a bad idea, regardless of how much easier it made planning the "Food Fight Scene From Animal House" theme prom.

A meek boy hustled away from Lina's close proximity, not wanting to catch Inverse-san's wrath. Instead of running after him, Lina looked down at her stained knee-high socks and skirt.

Suddenly, she became nostalgic as she was reminded of that fateful weekend she spent at her uncle Mark's lake house when his buddies from work showed up.

"I have no lunch and no money to buy another one," she murmured, feeling dejected. "What am I supposed to do?"

"Heads up," a cool and detached voice said calmly. Lina looked up in time to catch a red apple in her hands. She stared at it for a minute, then glanced around for her valiant savior.


I wonder just how bleak and depressing your life has to be for you to consider someone your "valiant savior" because they tossed you a piece of fruit.

Zelgadis watched her with slate blue eyes, stormy like the ocean typhoons and yet not revealing any emotion.

Eat your heart out, Robert Pattinson.

"Thank you..." Lina whispered, breathless. Zelgadis graced her with a nod of his head before he walked away. Lina stood staring at his retreating back, the apple still grasped in her hands.

Lina: Great, an apple. Damn. Maybe I can trade this for a pudding cup...

Momma says he's bad for me
Poppa says I'll be sorry
Everybody's talkin' my baby down
And all my friends doubt him
Tell me I should live without him
Everybody's talkin' my baby down


Fun Fact: This song was briefly adopted as the official anthem for supporters of the pro-choice movement.

"I saw what happened at lunch today!" Martina exclaimed. She playfully punched Lina in the shoulder. "Wow, what a great catch!"

"I didn't 'catch' him, Martina," Lina sighed. The group of girls were positioned under a blossoming sakura tree.


Because those things are everywhere in Japan. Everywhere. The entire country looks like a pink blob in the middle of the Pacific Ocean when viewed from space, no joke.

"And it's not great at all!" Amelia broke in. "Don't you know Zelgadis's reputation?"

At the age of sixteen that kid has already fathered more illegitimate children than the Los Angeles Lakers.

"Yeah, I know," Martina grumbled. "The guy's emotionless, cold, unforgiving, uncaring, a troublemaker, the social outcast, the list goes on. But he's HOT!"

lol girls are stupid

"I agree with Amelia-san," Sylphiel said quietly. The others turned to look at her. She blushed. "I've heard many stories about Zelgadis-san, and from what I've heard, he doesn't sound like a person I would want my friends hanging out with."

This is supposed to be high school, so Zelgadis likely got his reputation by wearing Korn t-shirts and "smoking" in the boys' room by hotboxing Marlboro Lights without ever inhaling.

"None of you really know who he is!" Lina exploded. "You aren't friends with him, your basing your opinions on rumors! Amelia, wasn't it you who once told me that everyone is good at heart, only sometimes they take the wrong path in life?"

Come to think of it, now that the characters are removed from the whole swords and sorcery setting, Amelia's frenetic obsession with justice has switched categories from 'Endearing Character Trait' to 'Possible Result of a Brain Tumor'.

Amelia remained silent. Lina climbed to her feet.

"I need to get going. See you all later."

He's not like the others
Nobody wants to see it
They don't even wanna try


This song has the most random-ass rhyme scheme in the history of shitty pop music.

A small sigh escaped Lina's lips as she walked home. 'How can I tell my friends my deepest secrets if they won't trust me on this one instance?' Lina pondered over her questions as she absently tugged at a lock of red hair.

Lina: God, I want to tell someone that I cut myself so bad it feels like I'm going to throw up, but if they can't even empathize with my self-destructive taste in boyfriends...

"Nyah nyah! Lookit the stupid cat! Hah hah!" A voice broke through Lina's concentration.

"Pull its tail! Pull its tail!" another voice chortled.

"No, get the lighter! Let's see if the kitty is flame-resistant!" a third voice sneered. Lina whirled on her heels as she turned towards the voices.


Oh man, somebody's in deep shit. Setting things on fire is Lina's gig, and she does not like sharing local news coverage.

Three kids, maybe middle school students, were in a tight circle around a small mewling mass. The deserted city park held no help that Lina could see for the small animal. Outraged, Lina rolled up her sleeves and was about to let loose on the misbegotten miscreants when a voice stopped her in her tracks.

"Lina, this is the author of the story speaking. Hang on a second while I rewrite that last paragraph. That was... Well that was just terrible, to be honest. I'm sorry for that."

"Hey! Leave that cat alone!" the chilly voice commanded. The kids looked up, startled, and the kitten took the opportunity to attempt its escape.

I don't blame the poor thing for wanting to get the hell away from this story. If only I could join you, fictional cat...

It dashed between the legs of one little boy, but the boy grabbed its tail. The kitten meowed painfully.

"Who's gonna make me, Mister?" the kid yanking on the cat demanded. He glowered at Zelgadis.

"I am," Zelgadis said.


Zelgadis tugged his shirt open, revealing blue spandex adorned with a cursive 'P'. "Wherever there is a feline in distress, I shall appear to enact righteous vengeance. Cower before me like prey before the mighty jungle cat, for I am... Pussy Man!"

The boy sneered, standing his ground but not moving. Zelgadis calmly strode over to the boy and picked him up by back of his collar, in much the same way a mother cat picks up her baby.

Now he's going to lick them clean and let them use his body for warmth while they sleep. That'll teach those little assholes.

The kitten dropped to the ground, released from its captor. "I suggest you and your friends leave before I'm forced to resort to..." Zelgadis paused and let his gaze flicker over the other two boys. "... drastic measures." He glared meaningfully at the kid, then set him down.

Zelgadis didn't really give a crap about the cat in the end, he just couldn't allow himself to miss an opportunity to beat the hell out of some children.

Without another word all three children ran off, shaking in fear. Zelgadis looked down at the kitten, who was shrinking away from him, terrified.

His ego now satisfied, Zelgadis sneered at the kitten before heading for home. He was a badass today, and everyone who read his LiveJournal was going to know it.

Zelgadis knelt down and picked up the small creature. The ball of fluff mewled loudly in his hand. A smile creased Zelgadis's face, and he broke into laughter when the kitten licked his cheek.

D'aww look at that, he has a heart of gold beneath that gruff exterior. Even though he hasn't really acted particularly gruff up to this point... Wait a minute, is this story supposed to be some kind of bizarre commentary on racial intolerance?

Lina backed up a step, hoping to leave the perfect scene in peace. She backed up right off the curb. Falling backwards, Lina cursed and managed to regain her balance. When she was settled again, Zelgadis had noticed her and was walking toward her.

"Here. I'm sure you can give it a loving home," he said, and took one of Lina's hands. He placed the kitten in her hand, reached for her other hand, and cupped them both around the small animal.


Then the kitten pees all over her hands, and Lina starts dropping more F-bombs than Denis Leary with his leg caught in a bear trap.

He paused a moment, caught in her inquisitive gaze. Finally breaking away, Zelgadis retreated into the shadowy path under the trees.

Lina: He's introverted and moody, all my friends think he's dangerous, AND he gave me a kitten! Holy God Almighty, I am so wet right now it feels like someone could dock a submarine between my legs!

Judge a book by its cover
And you'll never know the story
There's so much more than meets the eye
Oh and I know his heart is true
I don't need anyone
To tell me what to do


Did Celine Dion get the lyrics for this song out of a diary she wrote when she was fourteen? This is the most transparent angsty teenage rebellion bullshit I've seen in a song that wasn't written by Simple Plan.

Lina laughed at Amelia's joke as they walked down the hall. Martina made a comment, and the group of girls broke up in laughter yet again. Lina smiled, her eyes crinkling up in amusement.

Lina: "We're the Aristocrats!" Haha, good one Amelia. By the way, what's a New Jersey meat hook?

She passed by a large window and something outside caught her eye. Lina turned to see what it was.

Seeing that the football field was being used for another KKK rally, she nodded approvingly and resumed the walk to her Aryan Studies class.

In the tree right outside the window, Zelgadis was laying leisurely on a thick tree branch, his back to the trunk. A book laid open in his lap, and a pair of exquisite reading glasses rested on the tip of his nose.

Here's a tip for all young girls out there: If the boy you like spends his time up in trees reading books and wearing anything you'd think to call "exquisite", then don't bother pursuing a relationship with him unless you have a penis.

'He reads?' Lina thought, surprised. Then she chided herself. 'Of course he reads. Why wouldn't he?'

Well, he's in high school for one thing...

"Lina, come on! What are you all in a daydream about?" Amelia exclaimed. She stood by Lina's side and looked outside. "Oh, it's Zelgadis again. For heaven's sake, Lina!"

"AMELIA!" Lina snapped. Amelia jumped and looked ashamed.


Amelia: I-I'm sorry I... um, acknowledged Zelgadis's presence. Please forgive me, Mistre— I MEAN LINA!

"Yes Lina-chan?"

"Go on without me. I have some... unfinished business to attend to."


In the year 2010, Lina Inverse will kill Zelgadis.

"But..."

"Go on, Amelia!" Lina turned away from her friend and strode toward the nearest set of doors. Amelia watched her best friend's retreating back, sighed, then reluctantly went on ahead.


Amelia: Welp, this school is toast. Guess I should get home and see which districts will let me transfer with a 0.81 GPA...

My sisters and my brothers
Tell me I should find another
Everybody's talkin' my baby down


This is a good song for people who reject sound advice because darn it, they just know better than everyone else. As for me, I'm listening to "Hate to Say I Told You So" by The Hives right now.

"Zelgadis! Ohayo!" Lina called up from the bottom of the tree. She peered into the branches and leaves. The sun blinded her view for a moment.

I'm surprised Yugure didn't have her be blinded by the brilliant white light that perpetually shines out of Zelgadis's ass.

"Is there something you need?" Zelgadis asked, not moving from his position.

"Umm... not really. I just thought I'd... say good morning and all..." Lina glanced around, then back up. "I wanted to thank you for saving that kitten the other day."

"It was only what a decent person would do."

"Yes, but still..."


Ugh, if the dialogue in this story was any more stilted I'd think I was reading the script for Drag Me to Hell. Fuck you, Sam Raimi! Fuck you, old man!

"Still what?"

"I... I know you... umm... well I know you don't really..." Lina took a deep breath and rushed on.


"I know you gave me that kitten to take care of but I didn't know what kittens eat so I Googled it and came across this super-adorable picture of a cartoon cat eating a sundae so I gave it some chocolate ice-cream and then it stopped breathing so I sort of freaked out and called my mom up and she bitched me out for bringing an animal home and anyway to make a long story short can I live with you for a few weeks until my dad calms down and lets me back in the house?"

"I know you don't really like to show your feelings and emotions, but when I saw you with the kitten, I think I realized how much caring you have inside. I was lead to believe otherwise by all the rumors that say you're uncaring. I don't believe that. I think you just have a hard time expressing your feelings. But what you did for that kitten really moved me. I thought a lot about it. I really wanted you to know that if you ever need anyone to talk to, you can always talk to me."

There was no response from the tree above.


Zelgadis got bored and took off after the third sentence.

"Zelgadis?" Lina queried.

A hand brushed her cheek.


Ah shit, it's that pervy groundskeeper with the really gross mole on his forehead! Run, Lina, RUN!

Oh but they can't feel his touch
They can't feel his kiss
They don't know what it's like to be loved like this
I don't care about their point of view
'Cause it's understood
When the love is good
Nothin' else is gonna do


Oh, the sacrifices we make for rough, nasty, loveless sex...

"It seems like forever since the last time a person said something that nice to me," Zelgadis said. Lina turned to see Zelgadis standing beside her. A sad smile played on his lips like the haunting melody of a music box.

If this fanfic were a crayon it would be purple, but only because Crayola doesn't make a color called Holy Sizzling Fuckcakes That Person Fails Hard at Writing Metaphors.

"I don't recall ever hearing a semblance of the words you spoke."

"Zelgadis..." Lina whispered, and stopped to choke back her tears.

"Lina Inverse, thank you for treating me like a real person." Zelgadis took Lina's face in both his hands and gently kissed her forehead.


Zelgadis: Mmm, yesssss... Your creamy skin will make a fine addition to the collection.

No they don't know what
He's all about
Everybody just wanna talk
My baby down
No they can't see that his
Heart is gold
Everybody wanna treat my baby so
Cold, so cold


Cold like your witch titties, bitch! I think it's high time that someone taught you how to rhyme. Hold on now, this is what we call a BEATdown.

Everybody's talkin' your baby down
The reason being that sucka's a clown
Girl, no, it's not an illusion
If you'd put aside that freakish delusion
You could see with clarity
Indentify reality
It's a goddamn pity
They think your smile's so pretty
But you're just not that witty
Blind to infidelity

Now every excuse (excuse)
You make for every abuse (abuse)
Puts your head a noose (noose)
Because the homeboy is fu— (what)
And his screws are all loose (so loose)

Everybody wanna treat your baby so cold
So, s-s-so cold
Bitch, here's the truth: behold!
The dude's fool's gold
Not bold
Uncontrolled
And this hold
That he has on you is pathetic
Don't be so apologetic
Because your love ain't poetic
No, it's just synthetic

I have to say goodbye
Yo, I can't stand by
To listen while you cry
Because your ass is so old
That your snatch is growin' mold
And your albums only sold
Since the teenyboppers rolled

That's right Celine, you just got TOLD.

*Drops the microphone and walks off stage*
 


I suppose I really ought to apologize to fans of Celine Dion after all that... Alright, then. I'm sorry your parents went to that vodka tasting and X-ray machine convention while your mother was pregnant with you, and I'm also sorry you got kicked in the head by a mule all those times when you were an infant. Suck it, Celine Dion fans.

Damn, that fanfiction managed to fill my soul with a kind of cold, bitter hatred that I wouldn't have considered myself capable of feeling. In my defense, though, DID YOU READ THAT SHIT!?! That story would make the Pope beat on a sack full of puppies while screaming up a storm of enraged profanity so intense it would make Mel Gibson do a spit-take. The premise was trite and moronic, the prose was so purple that it would give Prince a hard-on, and most infuriating of all, the author's horrendous taste in music is directly responsible for me knowing the lyrics to a song about tolerating spousal abuse.

My question is this: Of all the music Yugure could have selected to base a Slayers fanfic around, why in the hell did she pick a song by the Queen of Choreographed Epileptic Seizures? Sappy, overproduced love ballads are fine if you're doing some inane romance anime, but how does that style of music fit an action/comedy-oriented fantasy series? Celine Dion doesn't even make sense in an ironic way. The least Yugure could have done was pick something that worked as a lame pun. I think you folks can probably guess what I'm alluding to...

 



I mean son of a bitch, it doesn't get much more obvious than that. If you're going to write something that's conceptually destined to suck, then at least have some fun with it. Picking Celine Dion is just cruel.

Not that it really matters much in this case. That story had so little to do with Slayers that it may as well have been a Degrassi fanfiction wearing a cardboard box with "Slayers" written on it in black marker. When your ONLY tie to the original source material is a handful of characters' names, then what you've got isn't so much a fanfic as it is the result of the most boring game of Mad Libs in history. The text doesn't even bother to mention what the characters look like, for fuck's sake. Was Zelgadis still a chimera in that story? Who the hell knows! The writing is so devoid of details that you could literally change what fandom that bastard is based on in under thirty seconds. Just open that sucker up in Word, hit Ctrl+H, replace all instances of "Lina" with "Cheetara" and all instances of "Zelgadis" with "Wally" and bam, you've got a romantically charged ThunderCats/Dilbert crossover ready to be uploaded onto the fanfiction website of your choice.

I could go on listing reasons why that horrid heap of obnoxious adolescent melodrama was such a failure, but it would be pointless. Much like real high school, that story was an agonizing trial of soul-crushing mental torture that somehow still managed to be so dull that you forget about it roughly two minutes after it's over. Hell, my interest has already faded to the point that I don't know if I can summon the willpower to finish writing this parag