beer_good_foamy: (Willow-death)
[personal profile] beer_good_foamy
Title: Total Perspective Vortex
Author: Beer Good ([personal profile] beer_good_foamy)
Fandom: Buffy, post-season 6
Rating: PG13
Word count: ~1100
Characters/Pairing: Willow, Miss Harkness (mentioned in "Lessons")
Summary: Willow in England, post-"Grave". It's one thing to have people tell you everything's connected. It's another to feel it.
Written for [livejournal.com profile] spook_me and the prompt "Shapeshifter" and this image.

Everybody complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.
- Charles Dudley Warner


Total perspective vortex

Falling, falling, falling.

It (whatever "it" is) rains a lot in England. It probably has to, with all those lakes. She learned about the water cycle in science class: evaporation, condensation, trepidation, precipitation, etc. It's perfectly natural, but still hard not to find weird after growing up in a desert. Something inside Willow is insisting against better knowledge that things should stay where they are, what they are. Water in the sea, clouds in the sky, plants on the ground, alive people alive and ... all that stuff.

Falling, falling, falling.

She's getting used to it now. The water on skin, on wind, on grass, feeling it all at once, being part of it. The first time she tried this it freaked her out a bit. (And consequently everyone else as well; as friendly as the coven all are, Willow knows they never relax for a second around her.) And even that was after she got over the weirdness of sitting butt nekkid on a hilltop with a circle of women she didn't know nearly well enough for that, thank you very much, heck even Buffy hasn't seen her like that and she always changed in the bathroom in gym class and the only time she's even been naked in front of another woman is -

Falling, falling, falling. Drops running down her face, seeping into the wet ground.

When Miss Harkness first told her about the rain ritual, she'd pictured flying. Possibly with broomsticks involved. But no, nothing that concrete, they told her (with some frowns from the younger witches who clearly weren't convinced that flying was even an option). Then they showed her what to do, how to feel the water on her skin, follow it outside of herself and ... suddenly she saw them from above, knew what it was to be Rain. Felt every raindrop, every gust of wind, not as individual droplets and puffs but as one big collective sense of being. "It's raining" turned into "I'm raining" and then just into "raining." She felt herself sitting on the ground just as much as she felt the others, felt the clouds around her, the roots of the grass, the underground rivers. She wasn't Willow, was more Willow than ever, wasn't anyone, wasn't not anyone, just a tiny part of something much, much bigger, with no firm ground anywhere. Woah. Vertigo. The others kept her grounded somehow, but some of them looked pretty spooked afterwards. She didn't want to hear their thoughts, but it was hard not to catch some (how did she) of (what is she) it (she's that fucking powerful?!?).

"There's never any new water," Miss Harkness told them (mostly her, she suspects) later in front of the fire, while pouring them tea in a very deliberate way. "There's always been the same amount, it just circulates and changes form often enough that we think it's new." Willow already knew that, somewhere in the back of her head, memories of telling Xander he's 70% dinosaur pee. She also distinctly remembered making H2O in chem class, but figured that pointing this out wouldn't be the witchy thing to do.

When the other members of the coven left, she asked Willow to stay.

"Why? Did I do something wrong?"

"No, you did... fine." The old witch nodded at Willow's hands, clasped tight around her cup. "You just haven't finished your tea."

"Oh. Right." She probably just violated some unspoken English rule, doing that. She took a hesitant sip of the cooling tea. "It's just... kinda feels like I'm drinking someone, y'know? Everything being connected and so on."

Miss Harkness nodded. "I know I probably sound like a broken record at times, but I find that showing rather than telling is a pretty good rule of thumb. Water isn't alive, as such, but it's a quite useful metaphor." For some reason Willow always found it a bit weird when this woman who looks like she stepped out of a Hammer movie let slip that she has at least one Oxford degree. "Just like water, life is constant. We can experience great loss, and we shouldn't diminish that, but even if that individual is gone, life itself is everlasting."

Willow took another uncomfortable mouthful. "I know. It just..."

"It's not meant to be comforting," Miss Harkness told her in her O Ye Young And Foolish voice. "It's just how life works, it doesn't bend over to comfort or hurt any particular part of itself." Then she raised an eyebrow in what passed for a smile. "Personally, I find that comforting. The knowledge that no matter how powerful we are, we are still only human, and there's only so much we can do. To know that we have limitations but are always connected."

Willow looked into the fire as the old woman refilled her cup again. "I can't stay here, can I?"

Miss Harkness took a long time answering. "Not for long, no. But this is an old place, and you're stronger than you know. Use it as an anchor."

Willow's learned a lot over the months that followed. Now, with only 24 hours left in England, she's gone up on top of the hill, taken off her clothes and sat down in the rain, letting her consciousness expand and seep into the rain. She sees herself (literally) through the eyes of the world; a young woman, wet hair plastered on her forehead looking darker than its actual colour, sitting cross-legged in the universal pose for At Peace With The World.

They tell her everything's connected, dinosaur pee and tears and tea and blood. Miss Harkness knows so much, but she's in her 80s and has never lived on a hellmouth (with actual teeth). Willow is 22 years old, has both given and taken life, has spat gods in the face, doesn't get to settle in front of the fire yet. She knows she can kill as easily as you pour a glass of water down the drain. She knows the other witches feel tiny and humble when they do this, that to them it's about learning to let go, and she keeps waiting for that feeling. She'd change places with them in a heartbeat if she could, she almost thinks before realising she probably could someday, which, that way lies badness.

She wonders if there's a bit of Tara's or Warren's life walking around someplace. Perhaps still barely crawling, wrinkly and mewling for milk. She wonders how old she'll be when she knows - just knows - how to find it. She wonders if she'll be strong enough not to.

She feels rain splat on the windscreen of an airliner on its way westward, thousands of feet above her. Maybe the same one she'll take tomorrow. Little ringlets of water, almost at freezing point, drizzling down along the plane's body, past the windows of travellers settling into their in-flight entertainment, over the wing and whirling down for miles and miles.

Falling, falling, falling.

She holds out her hand, lets a lone drop of water hover suspended above her dry palm as the rain continues to fall all around her. It sits there in mid-air until she lets it float up towards the clouds again. Knowing everything's connected is one thing; knowing that you're strong enough to pull the strings is another. She is what she must be. She rains.

Giles is making her get on the plane tomorrow. She wonders who she'll be when she lands.

Date: 2013-10-26 10:00 pm (UTC)
deird1: Willow looking pretty (Willow red)
From: [personal profile] deird1
Awesome. Awesome.
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