When the Lights Go On Again

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Title: When the Lights Go On Again
Author(s): Elspethdixon & Seanchai
Date(s): 01 November 2008 to 28 September 2009
Length: ~170,000
Genre: slash fanfiction
Fandom: Captain America/Iron Man, The Avengers (Marvel)
External Links: When the Lights Go On Again (LiveJournal)

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When the Lights Go On Again is a popular Steve/Tony story by Elspethdixon & Seanchai that is highly regarded for its superb plotting, in-characterization and its strong basis in canon. The story is set in the Marvel 616 verse and details the Avengers and the inhabitants of New York City dealing with an alien invasion. The story focuses on the various Avengers as well as the invading alien species,the Argonians. There is a particular focus on Steve and Tony, who are separated with Tony and Clint being held by the aliens and trying to work undercover and Steve leading the resistance and trying not to get captured or killed.

Summary (LJ): Aliens have invaded earth, and the Avengers are scattered. While Steve leads the resistance, Tony once again finds himself playing captive scientist. In the midst of a violent alien regime, separated by seemingly insurmountable boundaries, Steve and Tony have nothing to keep themselves going but each other.[1]

Seanchai posted an When the Lights Go On Again Extras post that give a few more details about the ending and the fic in general (the post contains spoilers for the fic).[2]

Recs and Reviews

"Again, one of the first fics I ever read in this fandom and one I re-read when I'm feeling nostalgic. Aliens have taken New York; interesting, well-realised aliens who are hideous and cruel and occasionally sympathetic, and complicated in their motivations... Steve and Tony are physically separated for the vast bulk of the story, and yet they're in each other's hearts and minds constantly, until the reader is as desperate for the reunion as they are. The supporting characters are great too, and as an introduction to Hawkeye especially, who I didn't know from Adam at the time, it was a great primer."[3]
"This fic has the prominence of being of the stories I can't reread because it tears me to shreds, even though the ending isn't unhappy. The Earth is invaded, and Tony allows himself to be captured with other scientists and Clint as a way to sabotage the aliens from the inside. Most of the fic happens while Steve and Tony are separated, but the affect of being held captive on Tony and Clint are positively painful to read about. The alien culture is very well realized, and the plot is superbly put together."[4]
"Seanchai and Elspethdixon once again demonstrate their talent for long, plotty stories, and pitch-perfect characterization. In this one, a race of aliens has successfully invaded the Earth. The major cities are imprisoned in impenetrable forcefields, and within the New York City forcefield, the Avengers fight a guerrilla war against the alien occupiers.

The authors have done an outstanding job of world-building, creating an original alien race and giving it a believable history and culture. The Argonians have personality, both as a race and as individuals.

The authors have also done an excellent job of keeping the writing focused, despite its length; the scenes work to move the story forward. The large-ish cast of characters is kept true to canon, but with the addition of little insights that make them more real."[5]
"The plot, however, is not the only good thing about the fic. Above all else, it’s the way that the characters are written that really captures the reader’s heart and mind. Tony and Clint, forced to act as collaborators, Hank, dealing with the fact that he is not allowed on the field, Carol, struggling with the events of her past and Steve, who has to act as the fearless leader and whose longing for Tony becomes so apparent in the letters he manages to smuggle to him."[6]


  1. seanchai & elspethdixon. When the Lights Go On Again Part 1 on Cap-Ironman Community November 1, 2008. (Accessed 5 July 2012).
  2. seanchai. When the Lights Go On Again Extras September 28, 2009. (Accessed 16 July 2012).
  3. arysteia. Rec'd on Crack Van November 25, 2011. (Accessed 5 July 2012).
  4. tsukinofaerii. Rec'd on Cap/Iron Man Community for Rec Week Roundup June 28th, 2012. (Accessed 5 July 2012).
  5. dorothy1901. Rec'd on Crack Van November 6, 2009. (Accessed 5 July 2012).
  6. slytherin_gypsy. Rec'd on Epic Recs November 24th, 2009. (Accessed 16 July 2012).