Bittersweet (Blake's 7 story)
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It was first published in Oblaque #4 and has been archived online.
Reactions and Reviews
Nobody writes 'can't live with or without' Blake/Avon like Sebastian and this is possibly the greatest example of that view of the pairing (though 'Cat's Cradle' is also excellent...). The affection is just as real as the frustration/anger, which is what makes the fic brilliant. (N.B. It starts off with some Avon/Blake/Vila [Vila is in love with Avon], but Vila is both a strong and entertaining character in his own right... and, er, not a threat to the B/A relationship. So that's all right then.) 
Why This Must be Read:
"Here's much to do with hate, but more with love, Why then, o brawling love, o loving hate!" (Romeo & Juliet)
For a lot of people, it just wouldn't be B7 without the angst. Sebastian (who many of you know from other fandoms) launches a novelette that starts with Vila having the bad judgment to initiate a drunken Alpha sandwich and ends with a really bad breakup between Blake and Avon (with intimations of worse to come). There are lots of stories in which Vila hankers after Avon (it seldom does him much good--it's a very common story pairing, but Avon is usually a complete cad in this incarnation). Not all that many straight-out Blake/Vilas, although a triangular relationship is not that uncommon.
Hey, the *manifest* content of B7 is endless struggles between Blake and Avon. A lot of the fics treat the sparring as a disguise against the depth of their real feelings, and everything is OK once they resign themselves to being soinlove. But here, Sebastian writes about a relationship where the sexual obsession continues to escalate but the level of horrible behavior never gets any lower.There's also a standalone zine of the novelette "One Night Stand," which was started by Sebastian and completed by Nova.
MUSE OF FIRE RESPONSIBLE: Sebastian
HAS POOR VILA BEEN DRAGOONED INTO THIS SHITSHOW? Yep, Vila
WHY ARE BLAKE AND AVON DOOMED THIS WEEK?
ULTIMATELY: because Avon says ‘I am willing to adjust my demands’ and Blake is like ‘blarrrrrgh I’m still leaving!!’, and not in a believable ‘too hurt to be rational rn’ kind of way, but just like, because the atmosphere of doom is upon this pairing, and Blake must go into the West and diminish. It is honestly surprising how many of these feel like ‘elves just gotta peace, yo’, like–that level of ‘it is beyond explanation or rational intervention’ inevitability.
BEFORE THAT: because Avon is a weird emotional crab person per always and Blake is Too Political and they don’t idk talk about this or contingency planning: this suffers from One Night Stand’s problems, in a way I’ll talk about soon. It’s difficult to pin down because too much happens.
EDITOR’S NOTE: one of the worst things I have ever seen; just involuntarily quacked like a duck skimming it I mean letting the words and sentences, the thoughts and sentiments, the passions and the emotions flow into my soul… you duck-quacked too didn’t you? I know you did.
OVERALL: Right, where to begin? Listen, I would not deny that Brutus is an honourable–no no that Bittersweet has some good bits. Like, some sentences that linger with me, some good set-pieces, maybe even some things that inform the way I think this pairing? Not as much as some fics, for me, but Bittersweet has a lot to recommend it.Unfortunately what it also has is the problems of One Night Stand in miniature: Sebastian would like to navigate you through a series of emotions and set pieces. She is DETERMINED to do this, and she is Sebastian and this is Oblique so there’s no one to beta her into shape and tell her that it literally does not matter if this part and this part are both v.g. if they do not go together. The Vila beginning is strongish though I don’t care for it, but honestly only comes up in the lightest ways at like two other points in the fic, and thus should not be here. The whole arc needs disciplined. I appreciate that this is a slow-burn and that it’s refusing an easy THEN THEY WERE TOGETHER! consolation, but because the arc wasn’t shaped I honestly started skimming this: some of the better writing to come out of this whole grimdark embarrassment of a publishing house. It got boring, it didn’t emotionally connect up, there was no underlying shape to things, and so it got hard to determine what meant anything. You could say this was a mimetic response to their relationship/their random terrorism, but I am not willing to credit Bittersweet with that.
"Bittersweet" is a forty-five page story revolving around Avon, Blake and Vila and set late in series two. It is intense, very erotic, the relationships tortuous and tortured. Events from the series are dovetailed neatly into the overall story, the dialogue is excellent and the characterisation totally convincing. Avon and Blake relate as per usual but more so, Vila opens another bottle of Chateau Despair. Poignant, venomous, tender, painful etc etc etc. You get the idea.If "Bittersweet is splendid, "Fade to Gray" is stunning, an absolute must-read for A/V fans. Set in series four, Avon takes Vila with him to negotiate an agreement with a class-ridden society where the Grays are de facto slaves, roughly equivalent to Deltas. Avon and Vila have been lovers but not for some time. Avon is at his most forbidding and Vila, disillusioned and drinking too much, gets himself into trouble and incurs his ex's wrath in a big way. I 'm not going to say what happens next but their estrangement is ultimately resolved. The writing is exquisite, and if this one doesn't get you where it hurts, nothing will.
- from Katy and Molly's 77+ Favourite A/B and A-B Stories; WebCite, August 5, 2013
- from Crack Van, recced by executrix, October 8, 2003
- review by Erin Horáková as part of a series: see Oblique Reviews -- Oblique Reviews #1, Archived version, January 11, 2017
- review by CB at Judith Proctor's Blake's 7 site;WebCite.