The Chosen :: A Buffy virtual series continuation

TITLE: in circled flight - I
AUTHOR: Ray Harley
DISCLAIMER: The characters belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy etc. The setting for the story belongs to the august Jet Wolf, the story to me. The title is a line from a poem I have become fond of.
RATING: It's all pretty tame so I'm going go for a PG.
SUMMARY: Dawn 'overhears' things. This is not always something she likes. You don't know who might be listening to you.

in circled flight

(a series of conversations, overheard and not)

by ray harley.


  Dawn wondered sometimes when her 'talent' for overhearing things had developed. Maybe it had come as some kind of self-protection thing; part of the whole key package.

  She knelt down amidst the flowering plants that had come to co-habit the clearing where the sapling grew; though it was a bit of misnomer to call the plant that, since it was well grown into a young tree by now.

  She stared at it for a while, knowing what she wanted to say, but unsure whether to actually vocalise, or even what it meant that she couldn't say it to the actual person; who was after all alive...

  and well?

  Dawn couldn't be sure of that. Something had been playing over and over in her mind ever since England in the summer. A conversation that she had overheard in a similar clearing at the coven which they had all visited - for Willow's sake, though that had been all but unspoken.

  Althenea had been an enthusiastic guide round the house from whom she had been rescued by the much calmer and, very much, older Miss Harkness. Dawn had been the only one who had had the temerity to ask her her first name. She had merely smiled, shared a meaningful look with Giles, and sipped her lemon tea.

  It had been a bright summer day when Miss Harkness had rescued her from the talkative Althenea, leading her to the clearing where an ancient Yew tree looked over the small flowers and the bees and one bird whom Dawn had never got around to asking about, even though Miss Harkness had impressed her by calling the creature to her and whispering in some archaic language as it rested on her outstretched hand.

  "I don't know what to say," she had told the old witch, who was of an age to be Giles' mother, possibly even older than Ruth had been - was.

  Miss Harkness had smiled and told her that she would know. Dawn had frowned and added that she didn't even know who she wanted to talk to.

  Miss Harkness had lifted up Dawn's frustrated chin and stared into her eyes; searching for something, or so it had seemed to the young girl.

  "Then don't say anything," she had told Dawn enigmatically. Fleetingly Dawn had wondered if anyone ever overheard anything the old woman said; if indeed she ever allowed anyone to overhear her.

  If such a thing was at all possible.

  Dawn had sighed with frustration, had even allowed an dark expression to appear on her face when Miss Harkness had released her chin with a chuckle.

  Dawn had deliberately not watched her leave, staring at the ancient tree, which had to be over a thousand years old. She had remained like that until the power of the tree had met and conversed with the power that Dawn was learning lay within her.

  Suddenly the anger and frustration had left her and she had reached out and touched the Yew. It seemed to echo back to her her unspoken fears and needs. As if she could reveal her deepest secrets and be sure the tree would keep them.

  Dawn started to do the meditation exercises that Giles and Tara had taught her. She relaxed and allowed her energy to interact with that of the tree and began to float.

  Only to be interrupted by two subdued voices. Dawn realised very quickly who the voices belonged too and stayed perfectly still as they, Buffy and Tara, came to rest on a small bench on the opposite side of the ancient Yew.

  She had the oddest sensation that it was guarding her, protecting her from discovery. She calmed her breathing even further as the two voices interacted. Dawn could almost feel that the tree, or something connected to the tree, wanted her to hear what was being said.

  "I don't know what to say."

  "You remember nothing at all."

  "Nothing. It's frustrating, and a little scary."

  "Scary? Is that why you've said nothing to Willow."


  "Only Giles."

  (More silence.) Dawn wondered if she had been discovered. But then,

  "He advised me to talk to you."

  "Not Willow?" There was a long silence, then, "Why not Willow."



  "If I tell you something, can you promise me you won't tell anyone? Especially Willow?"

  "Tara, I'm starting to feel a little wigged." There was a short silence, then she added, "A lot wigged actually."

  "I need to trust you Buffy."


  "Fine, not even Willow. What is it that's so wigworthy?"

  To her chagrin, Dawn realised that Tara was crying. She wanted to reach out to her, to give her comfort in return for all the times Tara had comforted her, over her mom, over Spike, over her fears about being the key - but especially her nightmares about the time Tara hadn't been there to comfort her.

  She couldn't.

  Her legs refused to move. The tree's energy wound tightly around her, even harder as she struggled slightly. She could confess to herself that she didn't try too hard. Then she sensed Buffy pulling Tara close.

  "I promise Tara, I won't tell Willow. Do you believe me?"

  Dawn imagined Tara nodding, even as she replied.

  "I believe you."

  Tara paused, Dawn strained to hear her breathing calming as she tried to focus her thoughts.

  "Willow scares me. The way she needs me. It's too much the way she always seems to looking to me for forgiveness. I don't even know what she's asking for sometimes."

  "I thought that was all settled?"

  "Buffy, she doesn't seem to be able to believe me."

  "Maybe it's herself she can't forgive. Maybe you should talk to her about this. Maybe she -,"

  "Needs me to be something I'm not anymore."

  "Because you can't remember being dead? You remember something though."

  Tara let out a long sigh. "I know what Giles thinks, but I think I was alive already. Trapped until they had repaired my body. Buffy, what if they're not finished with me?"

  "We've beaten them remember? Willow severed -,"

  "Buffy I'm afraid that somebody is not finished with me. It's -,"

  "It could be just a nightmare."

  "Buffy it feels so real, so empty. It terrifies me. I'm afraid to tell Willow."

  "Have you thought about talking to Miss Harkness. Maybe she can help you."

  "Maybe," Tara had said after a pregnant pause.

  "Tara?" Tara didn't respond, or maybe she did.

  "Are you and Willow going to be okay?"

  "I hope so."

  Dawn felt a tear on her cheek. When had she started to cry? Not wanting to disturb the two speakers, she fought to maintain control. She listened as Tara confessed that she didn't know whether she would ever be able to trust Willow. She listened -,

  Dawn still fought to maintain control whenever that conversation played out in her head. She had never been able to talk to Tara about it; as much as she had wanted to. She had long since realised that she needed Tara to be ab... to... to...

  Dawn felt the tears flowing again as she heard Tara in her head telling Buffy, in a tearful whisper, that she didn't know if love was going to be enough.

  That Willow's need might be too much of a burden.

  That she was a little afraid of Willow's power.

  Dawn had wanted, back then, to be the comforting Tara as she threatened to collapse-

  Dawn gasped. It had never before occured to her that she had been able to see Tara and Buffy. The tears stopped as she realised what it was she wanted to say, even if she couldn't bring herself to say it to the actual person.

  She controlled her breathing and felt the acceptance of the sapling.


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