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Fic: Closure
local_max
Well, I could edit it again and again, or I could post. I reserve the right to rewrite this at some later date (though obviously you only make one first fic impression, and this is it; I think I'm talking myself out of this already!). Thanks toangearia for the beta; it's somewhat different now from then, but it's mostly the same.

Fandom: BtVS

Character: Willow.

Setting: Takes place during Empty Places. Fairly canon compliant.

Summary: Willow has one last thing to take care of before the upcoming Apocalypse.

Disclaimer: I do not own any of these characters. Rather Mutant Enemy, 20th Century Fox, Joss Whedon, etc. own them. And none of them are me.

Rating: PG.

Words: ~800

Closure

Willow falters as she approaches the house.

After she’d been with Xander for a few hours in the late morning and early afternoon, he said that he wanted to be alone for a while. Willow nearly begged to stay, but he waved her off and said he needed an hour to himself. Some thinking, he said. She responded that two heads were better than one. “Sure, same with eyes. But sometimes you’ve got to just make do with one. Besides,” he pointed to his bandage, “you don’t want to be here when they change it.” He was deflecting, she knew that, which is why she didn’t protest—because if anyone in the world could handle the gore it was her, right?

In a payphone in the lobby, she called Casa Summers to ask if there was anything that needed doing. Giles told her to stay near the hospital and relax. They didn’t need her today but they’d need her every day going forward, so she should forget about the First for the first (and last) time. She hung up the phone without arguing, though she could think of a dozen arguments why Giles’ logic was faulty, a half-dozen of which might stand up to his scrutiny. But she knew she’d be arguing for the wrong reasons, because of whose house was five minutes walking distance from the hospital.

Willow stands in front of the door, readying herself to knock.

She’d meant to do this months ago, really. Surely it should be near the top (or would it be bottom? bottom comes first, she corrected) of the twelve-step program for murderers (’cause the one for magic worked so well, obviously). But it was easy to put off. It was hard enough talking to Dawnie and Buffy and she’d only, respectively, threatened and beat the crap out of them. And they were, y’know, Dawn and Buffy. This was going to be something else. And there was no more time to put it off: the Apocalypse was coming in a few days and everyone was clearing out of town. And in a few days, Willow might be dead.

She should never have put it off.

She shouldn’t be doing this now.

She glances at a window and searches for a light inside. It’s too bright, outdoors, to see.

The house was probably empty, now, anyway. But maybe she was still inside, hoping he was still out there somewhere, just a missing person who might stop being missing some day. There never was a body; Willow had seen to that. Closure, right? Everybody needs it.

Could she apologize? Was she actually sorry she’d done it? She’d never do it again, it’s not like that’s an issue. She knew it intellectually, that everyone deserved a chance, lots of chances, that the only reason she was still here is that the people around her believed that everyone should have a chance. She never shot anyone, and she felt the weight of Tara in her arms…but then he never tried to activate any she-demons and burn the Earth to a cinder. Which, to be fair, might be as much about she-demon issues as the world, but, well, benefit of the doubt. And even if he deserved it, it wasn’t her call, and here was someone whose life was ruined because of her and all she could think of was herself, and her lover’s body and…. Was she even doing this for herself? No, no…she was sorry, she was. She hoped she was.

Willow gently raps on the door and holds her breath.

Would she call the police after Willow told her? It was a risk. Not that they’d believe it, but…well, maybe, Sunnydale and all, they would. Willow could maybe do a spell so—no, no, no spells, not now, bad Willow, bad thought, spells are for killing vampires and Bringers and maybe if she got lucky the First would show up and then she could deal with her or him or it and not have to wait around forever and…. No spells.

And, well, she had a right to justice. And Willow deserved punishment. A little incarceration seemed to make Faith more personable. She hated herself for thinking it but women’s prisons carried a certain appeal, especially if she and Kennedy weren’t all long-term material, which…. Most of all, she wouldn’t have to worry every day about whether she was going to hurt someone again. But then with the First she couldn’t just stay in prison, and the gang would probably jailbreak her. How irresponsible was it to put her friends in that position? She shouldn’t be doing this, it’s too big a risk, Giles would kill her, or maybe praise her but probably kill, and what would Buffy do now anyway? But then it’s not about her, maybe not even about the world this time. It’s about what she did. Who she did it to.

The people she didn’t leave a body behind for.

The door opens a crack, the chain still attached. Sad bloodshot eyes peer out. “Well?”

Each word an effort, careful not to stammer, Willow answers: “Mrs. Mears? Hi. It’s, um…it’s about your son.”



  • 1
you wrote Willow, yay!

fantastic Willow-voice (of course!) - she really does have too many thoughts, and you're true to that without losing pacing, which is quite a trick.

That first scene with Xander, ow.

I love how you've pulled her resolving identity issues into this, in the moments between the knock and the answer - having "gay now" thoughts that pointedly don't revolve around Tara; the way she's on this very old Abrahamic-tradition direct confession but thinking about spells - and she needs all that if she's gonna do this thing that will let her be Willow. lovely.

Aw, thank you!

fantastic Willow-voice (of course!) - she really does have too many thoughts, and you're true to that without losing pacing, which is quite a trick.

Yeah, that was what I was worried about -- I could have trimmed this down to make it punchier, but then I didn't want to lose that neverending stream of consciousness. I like the balance I struck, but I could see readers, erm, not.

I love how you've pulled her resolving identity issues into this, in the moments between the knock and the answer - having "gay now" thoughts that pointedly don't revolve around Tara; the way she's on this very old Abrahamic-tradition direct confession but thinking about spells - and she needs all that if she's gonna do this thing that will let her be Willow. lovely.

I hadn't thought about how pointedly the gay now thoughts don't revolve around Tara, but that ties in with what I was trying to do nicely, so yay. Thanks for the thoughtful comment! *hugs* *off to read your Alpha fic shortly*

I was just thinking of this the other day, when I reread Andraste's old meta, because we talked about writing Willow talking to Warren's mother post- Killer in Me. I like your Willow introspection; it feels real!

Thanks! Do you have a link to the meta?

I couldn't imagine actually writing the conversation itself though. I mean, first of all, what would Warren's mother be like?

I've never really thought about Willow calling Warren's mother. Really, really interesting. You've got Willow's voice down to a T, excellent ficlet.

Whoa, I love this. Moar fic please :) Willow in a women's prison, what a thought...

:D

Yeah, I think she'd probably find the social environment awkward, but maybe there would be some cyber-criminals to hang out with....

Very well-written fic! Either you think a lot like Willow, or you have a fantastic ability to get inside her thoughts.

My one nit-pick is that 'make due' should be 'make do'. /grammar-nazi

Edited and thanks!

Re: thinking like Willow vs. getting inside her thoughts: probably a bit of both! :)

Aw. I always knew you are a fluffy bunny. :)

(Well, yeah, as fluffy as skinning someone alive gets...)

Seriously, this is strangely adorable, despite the rather gruesome theme(s).

Well, bunnies aren't just cute like everyone supposes, but that doesn't mean they can't be cute. ;)

And thanks!

Congrats on popping the fic-cherry! \o/ Solid work, dude. You should write more. *nod*

What P said--Willow really does have TOO MANY THOUGHTS, and you pretty much nailed that. Phew. My favourite part definitely has to be:

No, no…she was sorry, she was. She hoped she was.

Nail, head. So, so Willow.

I really do love the idea of her going to apologise to Warren's parents. And I'm also pretty sure I've never seen it being ficced before, so. You don't have any plans to continue this, do you?

Thanks! And yes, I like that line too. Gah. I think there's something about season seven Willow about it too, the way the too-many-thoughts hooks into a kind of...sad but hopeful resignation. /oxymoron character description

No plans to continue, because figuring out what Warren's parents would be like would be hard. Well, or maybe not that hard, I'd have to think about it....

Yay! I think your voices are really good--especially Willow, but also Xander. That quip about "same with eyes" and changing the bandage are pitch perfect.

This is a really interesting idea for a fic--in fact, I was just thinking about this not that long ago (maybe during the Cordy/Willow comparison?). I was thinking how interesting it was that Faith was expected to serve a prison sentence and go through the human/American justice system, but Willow wasn't. So, I'm glad you mentioned Faith and prison and how that would interfere with saving the world and whatnot. You really did do a good job of capturing her inner monologue--those ideas flipping by so quickly.

Anyway, this is wonderful! I'm so glad you put your some of your Willow analysis into a fic!


Yay! Thanks! I've got to find some idea for more Xander-writing.

And yeah, Willow doesn't have to go through the prison system, which is something that I think is a little controversial. I know a few people are rather unimpressed with Willow's redemption as compared to Faith, for that reason (among others). And, well, I sort of agree and sort of don't, and I think it's all complicated because the in-story reason she is released back into the wild so soon is that Giles thinks there will be an Apocalypse soon and she should be there for it. Willow and punishment is an interesting topic in season seven.

Anyway, thanks! It means much.

One of the things I love most about the construction is how the italics are for the real-time interaction. Typically, italics are used to depict thoughts or to show a flashback -- but here it's the THOUGHTS that are what's real. And that's so very Willow. The moment itself where Willow is facing Mrs. Mears -- that's the foreign, the unreal, the unknowable.

So as stylistic choices go, this is excellent because it crystallizes the expression of Willow's character: she's so overwhelmingly real on the inside, so at a loss as to how she can interact and express her realness to the outside world. She has trouble translating -- the world is askew in italics.

ALSO YAYAYAY YOU POSTED!!!

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Edited at 2011-06-29 07:13 am (UTC)

:D :D :D

I think that's a great point, and I think that disconnect is a big part of what I'm trying to do here. The present tense/past tense discombobulation is because to some degree, the external narrative of what happens in the real world, which has other people in it, and the internal narrative of her thoughts, are only loosely connected; they are parallel but not the same. The thoughts get past tense because it's the most common form of prose; the real world is present-tense because it's all this-is-happening-now shocking.

YAY GIF!!!

Little gem. I can easily see Willow visiting Mrs. Meers. The ending is tantalisingly open - I'd love hear their conversation.

I love this story. You absolutely nailed Willow's S7 interior monologue. Also, it addresses something that really should have been addressed in canon! I could picture the scene as perfectly as if it had been filmed. Beautiful job.

Minor grammatical criticism: "glimpse" is transitive, so I believe it should be "glimpses a window" rather than "glimpses at a window". Typo, maybe?

Minor stylistic criticism: Starting sentences with "but" and "and" tends to break the narrative flow; it's not a complete no-no, but I think you overdid it a little.

Thanks!

Yes, typo. I meant to say 'glances'; I'll fix that.

Re: "but" and "and," I can see what you mean, but I think it lends itself well to Willow's thought process. I'll think about maintaining a balance in the future, though!

Here from buffyversetop5

Ooh, that has such a great build and I liked following her thoughts.

Re: Here from buffyversetop5

Ooh, thanks very much! I am pretty sure I read some of your meta back in the day.

You've got a great Willow-voice. This was tear-inducing, but so good!

(Found this because catbirdfish recced it at buffyversetop5)

You've been Nominated at The Absence of Light Awards!

This message is to inform you that you've been nominated at absence_oflight.

All nominations MUST be accepted by January 31. To do so, please respond to this comment. You only have to respond once per round, (in the event that you receive this message more than once for multiple nominations). We ask you to post a link (http://community.livejournal.com/absence_oflight/1175.html) back to us, however this is not required to win.

Your nominations:

Closure by local_max (PG; Willow)
http://local-max.livejournal.com/23971.html

Category: Best Drabble/Ficlet

And if you want to say thanks, why not spread the love and nominate (http://community.livejournal.com/absence_oflight/2272.html) someone else?

Re: You've been Nominated at The Absence of Light Awards!

I accept! Though -- I just got the message that I was nominated today and am told I should have responded by Jan 31. Is this fine?

An interesting read, considering your close identification with Willow. It makes me think about Warren's ghostly presence in S7, as both The First and and Willow herself. Warren and Willow share so much in common and are alike in so many ways that sometimes it's difficult to remember what makes them different, and I think you sum it up really well with this line:

Was she even doing this for herself? No, no… she was sorry, she was. She hoped she was.

Its turning that final corner that makes the difference. Even in a moral universe that sometimes looks blurry and gray and intangible, being able to question your own motives, and strive to do the right thing instead of the easy or convenient thing, might be the final line that separates good from evil.

Thanks! I'm not sure what role, if any, my identification with Willow played in writing this; I mean, I've never flayed anyone. But I do know the difficulty of trying to figure out how to make up for doing something wrong, while questioning your motives at the same time, trying to weed out and forgive oneself for self-serving impulses at the same time.

I agree on the Willow/Warren parallels, which makes it so devastating that Willow goes after and kills Warren, becoming him in the process (shades of Buffy/Faith -- though fortunately for all involved Faith survived). Unlike Faith, we don't get much evidence that Warren would have been able to turn himself around, but, as with Buffy & Faith, I think that some of the big differences between Warren and Willow are situational -- Willow did, ultimately, have loving friends whom she loved, despite the various breakdowns on all sides in s6. And like Buffy/Faith, just as Faith shows what Buffy is capable of, I think we also see the seeds even before Faith's redemption for what Faith could be -- which is someone who possesses Buffy's heroism. I think the message of the Willow/Warren parallels is not just that Willow can be as bad as Warren, but also Warren could maybe, in some other universe, have been as good as Willow, if only.... "There but for the grace of getting bit," Buffy said in "Doppelgangland," and it implies too, to background, those in your life, luck, even as it also comes down to one's choices in the end. There is a tendency in fandom, understandable in a lot of ways, to write Warren off completely as a monster who was always going to be evil (and for some people, by association, the Willow/Warren parallels suggest that's true of Willow too), but Warren's evil is so clearly to me the potential everyone (or most people, at least!) has in them.

The Trio do like each other and may even have been able to be a loving mini-family under different circumstances and at a different time in their lives, but in season six they happened to enable each other's worst traits until Jonathan finally starts the long process of getting out of the worst of things in SR which finally culminates in his beautiful speech in "Conversations with Dead People" and dedication to helping others for the sake of it.* And while there are parallels between Willow/Tara and Warren/Katrina, of course, there was ultimately more love on both sides of W/T amid the badness.

*I am never quite sure what to make of the about-face between Jonathan's dramatic moment about accepting responsibility at the end of "Two to Go" and his running away in "Grave." I guess the reality of a fireball falling from the sky would make anyone squeamish about personal responsibility.

Anyway, I do think that it's that lack of self-reflection that kills Warren. He can't see himself, because he doesn't want to, and his first attempts to kill Buffy are deliberately away from others' eyes -- making secret deals with the M'Fashnik, trying to shoot Buffy while invisible. It's when he kills Katrina, the one person whose opinion of him he really would care about, that he really dedicates himself to the villainy. Willow, to her credit, can (eventually, in s7) marshal her doubts about herself into a way to examine her actions, try to be herself without causing damage to everyone around her.

On some days I even think that the ending of "The Killer in Me" is maybe the hint of a redemption for Warren -- for a moment, Warren is "alive" again, if through Willow, and in Willow's screaming that she's sorry for one moment we see the side of Warren who was.

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