TappingtheLine wrote:Like, I watched it happen, and I re-read Princess and the Frog and Worse than the Disease just now, and I still don't get it. I get Baxter's end, kinda. The attraction was already there and the body-swap with Marc made her human to him. But I really can't understand how Di developed feelings for him.
I don't know if I should answer this one. I love to talk about the work, but maybe this time it should speak for itself...
Well, what the hell.
"Baxter and Di" was a challenge to me because I felt it could very easily turn into a male-geek fantasy, which I had no interest in writing (and that was certainly a risk with Rikk, Rumy and Ally as well, though less of one since the attractive power of Rikk's personality was more immediately obvious). It may still read that way to some people, though I hope not that many.
The other risk was that it was going to read like a pickup artist's manual, which I do not endorse. Guys like Marc are one thing, but anyone who calls himself (sorry, but it's ALWAYS a guy) a "pickup artist" is a scuzzbucket who's just in for the sex, the ego and the "points." Yet they are people who, at least for a while, get women much more attractive than themselves to go home with them, and the reasons for that are related to what happens between Di and Bax.
"Pickup artists" are pretty scuzzy, but they understand a couple of things about human nature that are relevant here: really beautiful women are often at least somewhat insecure, either about their bodies or about their brains, often both. Di is fairly happy with her body and doesn't feel like she's surrendered attractiveness to get where she is, but note that even she hates the idea of limping visibly, of showing the slightest weakness or fear, because to her that would just ruin
her "Amazon" aura. She's like a celebrity who freaks out when she's photographed with a body some men would willingly die for, but wearing the wrong slacks.
The very beauty and fitness many of us would love to have makes Di intimidating to many romantic prospects. After a transitional, ill-advised relationship, she sought casual hookups with hotties like herself for a while ("Singles Night"). Baxter was largely an irritant to her. But increasingly she felt the desire to prove something to him, and the irritation started to become fascination. When Wheaties and Animal took her apart and brought her to the brink of death, and Baxter brought her back, that vulnerability reached a climax. She tried to convince herself and everyone else that she felt fine, but she was limping and actually phobic about a rematch.
It is no coincidence that that
is when she sets up a date with Baxter. She tries to phrase it like he's
the one with all the issues and she's just doing him a favor, but really she's desperate to "even the score" with him, somehow, anyhow. Not only because she owes him, but because her ego has taken a massive blow and she needs to feel like she's still good for something.
Women like Di have had sex, gotten into relationships, for worse reasons. This is the kind of vulnerability a "pickup artist" creates and exploits. Baxter doesn't know a lot, but he knows enough that it never even occurs to him to be like that. He never objectifies her or makes her "prey."
Being merely nice isn't enough in the long run, of course, and this'd be a short-term fling if all Di got out of it was a sexual/romantic ego-boost. (And I really can't say they'll be together forever: there's a long road ahead we haven't seen them travel.) But at the same time Di's sorting through her feelings about Baxter, he's beginning to become the kind of person worth considering. Pulling Xi out of his library, standing up to Julie, leading Dotty out of her anxieties. More and more, he's growing past his early issues and becoming a man who can serve the people, who can make the tough decisions, the kind who just makes you feel better by his presence. The kind, in short, that Marc used to be and always aspired to be.
What happens instead is that Baxter and Di end up comparing emotional scar tissue, which gives them a little something to build on. That's why the first "End Credit" is important: Di gives Baxter her ultimate gesture of trust by asking him to watch over her as she recovers from the fight of her life. She not only trusts him not to take advantage, she feels safer with him in the room than she would sleeping alone.