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Re-posting of a fic

I've just now realized that I never updated the "Silence, Sounds of" entry after I've had it betaed. I went back to do that, but if felt strange. The dedication of the fic to my father after he died, feels strange in an entry that was posted four days before he actually did.
So in the end I've decided to just re-post it. Those of you who've read it already, feel free to skip on a head. Those of you who're reading it now, I'd love some feedback if you have any to spare.

- Willow, Aftermath of s6. Spoilers for 7X1, but it's nothing like that ep.
- Written originally for Teana's (gatefiction) Writing Sound Project but I didn't make the deadline.
- My thanks to deepad and the wonderful Jeanne for the beta.

Silence, Sounds of

Tara has this thing she does, when you make her laugh so hard her laughter turns into snorts. Tara hates the snorts, and I've told her so many times that I think they're cute. I love the very fact that she can laugh so hard, that I can make her laugh so hard, that she loses control.

And she has another sound she makes, a short intake of breath, just a pause she takes sometimes before she goes on talking, that I know is her way of stopping the stutter before it can come to be.

She has an excited high-pitch sound that is for the cat and the cat alone. It's because sometimes Miss Kitty does something so extremely cute, Tara has to have a sound devoted just to that. Sometimes, when Miss Kitty does something she really shouldn't, like leaving us her special brand of affection-gifts, and Tara is yelling at her, because Tara's Bad Cop and I'm Good Cop, I can still hear a shadow of that Oh My God How Cute Are You, Miss Kitty Fantastico? voice in there. Which is totally wrong for Bad Cop, and if I can hear it, then betcha by golly that the cat can.

She has other sounds, more private sounds, a different kind of losing control that I love love love for being able to make her produce. Those harsh breaths, those lengthy moans, the swoosh-swoosh-swoosh sounds of her skin against the sheets.

And she can say my name, she can make it leave her lips like a golden, perfect spell, she can make it into something flowy and crimson, that goes through me like liquid magic and makes my heart feel all…

I know she has those sounds, I've been recording them. I want to remember them now. Please, please, why can't I remember them now? Anything, any sound from her, anything will do, I'll settle for her angry voice, accusing, disappointed, god, even that, just not, just stop, just please, anything except those final words, the glass, the THUD, the rush of the blood leaving her body-


"There. Isn't this so much better?" says Mrs. Blethyn, sitting down across the kitchen table, and handing me a hot mug of something. Tea, yes, of course, only with extra-special something in it, brewed specially for disturbed, creepy girls like me.

We sit in silence for a few minutes and she watches me stir the spoon inside the mug. Around and around and around… I know she's waiting for me to drink it, drink it all, and something wicked inside me won't do it just because.

"Would you like to tell me what you were doing out there?" she asks in a low, intimate voice. As if it's only her and me in this entire house, and no one will ever hear of this, my latest act of crazy. Just our little secret. Between me and Mrs. Blethyn, Mr. Giles, and thirty-two members of coven.

"I… " I feel like apologizing. I always feel like apologizing to them. "I wanted to- I was…" But what's the point, really? There isn't an answer that will make this seem less crazy, least of all the true one. I try to think of a good lie, something that is just what she wants to hear, but god, I'm too tired and cold.

Mrs. Blethyn reaches out suddenly to pull on a corner of the blanket that she'd wrapped around me five minutes ago when we came back into the house, to pull it tighter around my shoulder, like she's assuring herself that she is, in fact, taking care of me. She had not deserted her post this night, had not allowed their scary charge to go out into the meadows in the middle of the night to lie on the ground, dressed only in a flimsy, old-fashioned English nightgown.

"You were…?" she won't leave it alone.

I take a big breath and say the first thing that comes to mind, which also happens to be the truth. "Listening."

"Oh," she stares at me for a few short seconds, then leans back in her seat and sips her own tea, which is just plain Earl Grey with nothing funky in it. "Oh, I see," Her tone of voice is now conversational, not conspiratorial anymore, as though we're girlfriends, sitting in a café, chatting about this and that. "Well, I most certainly can see why you would… I suppose it can be quite fascinating. The silence of the country at night, after you've lived in a town for so long. I used to be a City Girl myself, you know. Yes, for many years. And when I first moved into the country I simply couldn’t sleep at nights for the silence!" she allows herself a small How Silly Of Me laugh. She isn't a bad person, really, and I hate myself for thinking such bad thoughts about her, but god! Do we have to play this game? She isn't anything like me and she never was, and she doesn't understand me and she never will.

On and on and on she talks and she's just another detail in the mass of noise in my head. What would she do, what would they all do, if they knew I can hear it all, hear everything? Hear them in their beds, tossing and turning, hear the creak of ancient floorboards when someone goes sneaking downstairs in the middle of the night, hear the faint clanking of the whiskey bottle touching the lip of the whiskey glass, hear the secret middle-of-the-night What Will We Do About Willow meetings, the hushed, rushed voices, the decisive tones, the fear, always fear, fear that makes them kinda hate me, laced through it all.

I can't sleep, I can't think of happier things, saner times, when they're all in this house with me, walking and talking and breathing and thinking about me, Their Mission.

So instead of giving in to the thing inside me that tells me to open my mouth and scream until this house and everything in it comes crumbling down, I get up and walk out. How's that for progress?

I don't give in to the urge to silence this whole damn world; I get myself together, start moving. Like a ghost I am, stepping out in the middle of the night in my white gown and no shoes on, walking out of this house and not stopping until I am lying on my back in the middle of the world, in the heart of the meadow.

Almost immediately, my nightgown is soaking-wet and I am chilled down to the bone. I can feel the prickle of the grass all over, and my hair is mixing with the dirt, but it's ok, it's quieter. I lie, not moving at all, except for breathing. I have this image of me lying there, like in a music video or something, when everything goes fast-motion, and while the grass is growing around me, and tiny earth-things slither by, I am sinking, decomposing into the earth.

And when the sounds of the house leave my system, all that's left is everything else. The grass grows in sharp, brazen spurts, while a yellow-flowery plant I can't name grows with a fluent, arabesque hum. Beetles scurry by with click-click clicks, and the ground moves under their tiny legs with a smoosh-swoosh trickle. A centipede buries himself and all his legs in a hole in the dirt, leaving behind a whirlpool of tiny grains of earth, a vortex that crumbles onto itself with a sickening sssaaaahhh sound. Tiny grains of sand and underneath that, more earth, roots that grow slow and barky, animals that live in darkness, and lower still there's water, trickling with a lively, happy chatter.

It's all connected, you see, and I know the sound of everything in this earth, and if I listen very carefully and down and down and down I go, I can hear Dawn singing in the kitchen, the words echoing in the empty house. Take another route and I can hear the rattle of Spike on a motorcycle, making his way back home, and there's something very wrong with him, because he's passing the Welcome to Sunnydale sign without giving it a second look. Don't even go there, and still there are the mountains around me, the wind in the trees, a billion heartbeats, and the creepy-crawly shuffle of things walking around with no heartbeats at all.

Going bump in the night.

I start laughing at that, laughing so hard my bones are rattling, and tears stream down the corners of my eyes, dropping and disappearing into the earth.

That's how Mrs. Blethyn finds me, lying on the ground, shivering from the cold and crying so hard that if I'm not stopped I might bring this whole meadow and everything in it crumbling down.


Mrs. Blethyn reaches across the table again, and her eyes are really kind and caring when she touches my hand. "It'll get better, sweetheart. I promise," she says, and I gladly believe her. It has to get better; it has to, because no one can be expected to live like this. Not even Willow Rosenberg.

So I drink my funky tea in one go, and shiver to let Mrs. Blethyn know that I'm cold and ready for my hot shower now. She's more than happy to allow me to withdraw to my bedroom, where I lay my body on the bed, wet nightgown, blanket and all, and stare at the ceiling until the sun comes up, trying to remember all those good Tara sounds.

Instead, there's the sound of her dying, and the sound of everything else. These are the sounds of the night, soon to be replaced by the sound of the day. These are the sounds of the world, and this is me, cursed to listen to all of it, all of them, all the time, everywhere. Can't filter, and the sounds I want to hear are not part of this world anymore. 'Cause Tara no longer makes her special sounds, only the regular ones they all make when in the earth.

Oh, Mrs. Blethyn, I wish there was silence. I really do.


Dedicated to my dad, who very ironically died right after I wrote this.


( 15 traumatized — What is your childhood trauma? )
Feb. 17th, 2005 08:59 pm (UTC)
Feb. 18th, 2005 02:57 pm (UTC)
My pleasure :) I hope you liked it.
Mar. 1st, 2005 04:48 am (UTC)
This is sad, and very, very pretty. Really captures Willow in that moment, unlike any I've seen. Her grief isn't often taken into consideration... it's shadowed by her other actions.

Good work, and very sorry about your father.

via betterbuffyfics
Mar. 4th, 2005 02:42 pm (UTC)
Re: Beautiful
Thank you so much for the lovely note.

I agree with you regarding Willow's grief. I felt that the process was rushed during season 7, and it was done in great contrast to the events of late season 6.

I thought that all those things that happened to her on that season finally, including Giles allowing her to feel all the pain in the world, had to have a long-term affect. So I wrote it myself :)

Thanks again for the feedback, and for seconding on BBF. There's nothing quite like the feeling of being rec'ed at my own list ;)
Mar. 1st, 2005 06:03 pm (UTC)
Also from BBF
I was somewhat reluctant to read this since I stopped caring about Willow basically since "Smashed" but I'm very glad I did. I think you did a great job of suggesting exactly what's going on around Willow just by her description of what she hears - I'm guessing it's Giles hitting the whiskey. I also enjoyed the visual of Willow lying on the grass and focusing in on the sounds of the insects. That would have made a great shot. You did a wonderful job of showing us someone who is aware of everything around her but unable to care one iota because of her all-consuming grief.

Thank you for writing this. My condolences for your loss
Mar. 13th, 2005 12:13 am (UTC)
Re: Also from BBF
I'm very glad you decided to give this Willow story a chance. And yes, you were right about the whiskey. It's very pleasing when the reader gets the suable hint :)

Thank you for the lovely feedback (and the condolences), and please forgive me for only replying now. You know how life can get...
Mar. 3rd, 2005 01:17 pm (UTC)
I thought this story was absolutely beautiful. It says everything that I tried to express over the loss of someone very close to me- how you'd give anything, anything to hear some small sound from them just one more time. Excellent Willow fic, too. Captures her voice brilliantly.
Mar. 13th, 2005 12:19 am (UTC)
Thank you so much. I'm pleased you thought I captured Willow's voice - I really worried about that.

And I'm sorry for your lost.

Mar. 7th, 2005 03:59 pm (UTC)
First, very sorry about your loss.

Second, I also got this from BBF. I don't have time to read all that's rec'd, but I chose to read this one.

I'm glad I did. Willow's sadness and thought processes were captured perfectly. I could even see Tara as I read.

Nice job.
Mar. 13th, 2005 12:29 am (UTC)
Re: Brilliant...
Thank you so much! I'm glad you decided not to skip this rec :)
And thank you for the condolences.
May. 8th, 2005 08:09 pm (UTC)
I came here via an old BetterBuffyFics rec.

This was truly beautiful. You brought Tara to life again for me for a few moments, and my eyes got strangely prickly. Also, it was a masterful rendering of sound in a silent medium.
May. 8th, 2005 08:45 pm (UTC)
Oh, thank you so much. This is a wonderful feedback (what with all the rendering :). It's a lovely feeling, knowing that others have a strong emotional reaction to this fic, because i have a strong emotional reaction to it.

And yey for BBF Archive Days, sends some more people my way :)

Thank you again, you made my day.

Nov. 24th, 2007 12:17 pm (UTC)
Also here from a BBF member rec, and this is just... wonderful(ly sad). I love how detailed it is, the way that Tara's absence is felt in the presence of everything else (weird sentence, sorry). Very emotional fic. Thank you.
Nov. 25th, 2007 09:53 am (UTC)
I'm very glad you enjoyed the fic, it is very close to my heart (and, yeah... emotional).

Thank you so much for dropping me a line, you made my day :)
Oct. 19th, 2008 01:38 am (UTC)
Despite the Kitten I so deeply am, I'm helplessly drawn to the fics that tear my heart.

"no one can be expected to live like this. Not even Willow Rosenberg." BaJesus, that hurt so much. Without mercy.

I agree with anonymous who said " someone who is aware of everything around her but unable to care one iota because of her all-consuming grief." I have my issues with Buffy the Show, but the good fanfic out there kinda acts like Neosporin, smoothing over what TV messed up. Not just Tara's death, but Spike's waste of a downfall(after building him up wonderfully over three seasons), reducing Xander to spackled wallpaper in S7, etc;

Moral of the story is, your story was beautiful in the sweetest of painful ways.

Sorry this is wicked late, but my condolences on your father. Here's a hug three years later, k?
( 15 traumatized — What is your childhood trauma? )

Latest Month

December 2009


Woody says:

"Years ago, my mother gave me a bullet... and I put it in my breast pocket. Two years after that, I was walking down the street, when a berserk evangelist heaved a Gideon bible out a hotel room window, hitting me in the chest. Bible would have gone through my heart if it wasn't for the bullet."


"We did a play in acting class by Paddy Chayefsky called "Gideon", and I played the part of God, in "Gideon". It was typecasting. It was method acting, so two weeks beforehand, I started to live the part offstage, y'know. I really came on God, there, I was really fabulous, I put on a blue suit, I took taxi cabs all over New York. I tipped big, 'cause he would have. I got into a fight with a guy, and I forgave him. It's true. Some guy hit my fender and I said unto him...I said, "Be fruitful and multiply". But not in those words."


"I was down south once, and I was invited to a costume party. And I figure, what the hell, it's Halloween, I'll go as a ghost. And you have to get the picture, I'm walking down the street in a deep southern town, I have a white sheet over my head. And a car pulls up and three guys with white sheets say "Get in". So I figure there's guys going to the party, as ghosts, and I get into the car, and I see we're not going to the party, and I tell them. They say "Well, we have to go pick up the Grand Dragon". All of a sudden it hits me, down south, white sheets, the Grand Dragon, I put two and two together. I figure there's a guy going to the party dressed as a dragon. "


Eddie says:

"And squirrels always eat nuts with two hands, always two hands, and occasionally, they stop and go *gasp!*, as if they're going, "Did I leave the gas on?... No! I'm a fucking squirrel!"
And occasionally they go, "Fucking nuts! Fed up with them already." And they long for a grapefruit."


"I had to chat up girls and I'd only tagged them before and I didn't have the verbal power to be able to say, "Susan, I saw you in the classroom today. As the sun came from behind the clouds, a burst of brilliant light caught your hair, it was haloed in front of me. You turned, your eyes flashed fire into my soul, I immediately read the words of Dostoevsky and Karl Marx, and in the words of Albert Schweitzer - I fancy you."
But no. At 13, you're just going, " 'ello, Sue! ...I've got legs. Do you like bread? I've got a French loaf! (smacks her on the head with the loaf and runs away, calling from a distance) Bye! I love you!"

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