I Am What I Am is a Buffy: The Vampire Slayer fanfic by M. McGregor that is what is typically called a ‘fixfic.’ Xander, at the end of his life, finds himself pulled back through time and placed back into himself in the Second Season episode “Halloween.” Using his knowledge of the future, he tries to better equip Buffy and the Scoobies for the challenges they face ahead so that the many terrible deaths and tragedies that occur in the series can be avoided. As it turns out, however, he’s not the only one with knowledge of the future, and his impact on the timeline is so great even the Powers That Be can’t ignore it for long.
I ran across this fanfic while looking at Fixfic recommendations on TVTropes. The premise seemed intriguing to me and the brief reviews piqued my interest. I decided to give it a shot and was very pleasantly surprised.
I’ve found many of the better writers to be read in fanfic come from the older fandoms. Buffy, obviously, dates back to the mid-nineties, back in the early days of internet. There has been a great deal of time for younger fans and writers to hone their craft and become quite good by this point. M. McGregor tells a tale that should – on the surface anyway – put Xander in a position of great power and he does, to a degree, come off as very Mary Sue-ish on the surface.
But the common internet backlash regarding Mary Sue characters really needs to be toned down, because it’s not really a terrible thing to have a powerful character in your story. What is terrible is when they’re not written well, when they AREN’T faced with suitable challenges, when their knowledge is not sufficiently telegraphed such that they appear to pull knowledge and abilities out of their ass just when they need them. I Am What I Am is a fic that avoids all of these problems in my opinion, and thus earns my recommendation.
The story does set up a pretty interesting love triangle involving Xander, which makes perfect sense given the history (and future) that he has. The problem really should have been largely insurmountable to the point where Xander would probably have to end up dropping one or both of these two love interests to forge any happy ending. However, the author takes the Tenchi Solution and any tension is immediately defused in an unsatisfactory way.
But apart from that caveat, I enjoyed everything else about this fic. Characterization appears consistent (minus the aforementioned Tenchi Solution), there is a steady stream of humor in the writing, and there is nice mixture of action and exposition that carries the story along at a good clip. The chapters also alternate between things going on back in the 90’s with flashes from Xanders’s life post-Season 7. The future looking ‘interludes’ are just as interesting and it’s a nice look at how the canon Buffy universe would have evolved after the end of the show. It’s far from idyllic and a lot of tragic things occur but they’re tempered with moments of personal joy.
All in all, this was a good story that I think most fans of Buffy would enjoy.