Nothing is True. Everything is Connected.
Sylum Advent 2021: December 6th

Sylum Advent 2021: December 6th


Title: In the Silence

Author: Gil Grissom

Character: Brian O’Conner

Pairing: Dom/Brian (background)

Rating: G

Summary: Brian’s an urban guy, and getting used to the silence of Border’s home territory takes some getting used to.


“You look constipated.”

Brian turned his head and threw a half-hearted glare in James’ direction after he jumped because he hadn’t heard him coming. “I do not.”

“Something has got you clearly all in a lather,” James said, sitting down in the chair next to his. “What’s up?”

They were out on the balcony of the main house, looking out over grasslands that stretched out alongside the beach and into the distance on that side of the house. It was a beautiful sight during the day and peaceful at night but…

“I’m a city boy. Sure, my hometown wasn’t as big as Los Angeles was, but it still was urban, you know? And it was surrounded by more urban places. There was always something going on. Always noise of the urban type, you know?” He motioned out in front of them. “It’s different here than it has been anywhere else I lived, and honestly? It’s weird. Yeah, you can hear the waves hitting the shore, and you can hear the wind blowing through the grasses, but that’s not what I’m talking about.”

“No cars, no people, no streetlights, no noises coming from surrounding houses in big neighborhoods.”

“None of that or a thousand other things that you don’t really notice, that you learn to tune out until it’s not there.” He pointed upwards. “There’s no moon tonight, so it makes it even weirder, and it kind of creeps me out. Who the hell knows what’s out there, creeping around in the dark?”

“You mean besides us creatures of the night?” James asked teasingly.

Brian blew a raspberry at him. 

James laughed. “I’m probably one of the last ones here you actually should talk about this with.” He motioned out to the distance. “I grew up with this. I was born in 1884 and we didn’t get power to the ranch, even as wealthy as we were, until well into the 1900s. Same for here. It would have been even longer if the Clan itself hadn’t been a driving force for it.  There are parts of Mexico that still don’t have power that comes from the electrical grid. Cars weren’t a huge thing in our lives until after the 1910s, at least in no discernible way. My brother had a motorbike, one of the first, and eventually we had cars.”

“And with all that came the noise pollution that we hear all the damn time,” Brian said with a nod. “I get it, but it’s still weird for me and is going to take some getting used to. I’m the kind of person that has to sleep with a fan on if it’s too quiet. Drives Dom a little batty sometimes, but he indulges it.”

James snorted. “He’d have grown up mostly like I did. A little more urban for the given value of what that was back in the very early 1900s in his area, but he would have been an adult long before it was in his life in any significant way. You’re just a product of your time and place you lived.” He clapped him on the arm. “Guess you’ll just have to get used to being freaked the fuck out until you get over it.”

“Wow, so helpful. I’m sure Red is feeling very secure in his position with the Clan with guys like you running around.”

“The newbie has jokes,” James said and laughed. “But in all seriousness, it’ll be good for you to learn to live with the quiet, and the quietness around here is going to be really good for your training. We can’t leave a delicate little blossom like you untrained. It would drive Dom to distraction.”

“Fuck you. Delicate blossom… I’ll show you who’s a delicate blossom,” Brian said, jumping up and chasing after James, who jumped over the railing and down to the ground while laughing. 

Brian followed behind him until he couldn’t hear him, unable to distinguish anymore between the sound of the grass moving and James running through it. It was nearly pitch black, the only light coming from the Clan houses in the distance, but even that was muted out in the grassland. He tried sharpening his eyesight, but that only helped so much with so little light available.

“You need to learn to use all your senses together,” James said from just behind him and Brian yelped before whirling around.

“Don’t scare me like that, asshole. I’m a delicate blossom!” 

James laughed and slung an arm around his shoulders. “You’re really not, but that’s okay. We like your perky little butt anyway. We’ll get you trained. It’s not easy, tracking someone in these conditions, but we’ll get you there. 

“It’s not enough to just focus on hearing and sight. As you can tell, Vampire eyesight isn’t always as useful as you’d expect when there is very little light source for it to play off. You have to rely on what you can hear, smell, and feel. Sometimes in these cases, even the taste of the air, the chemicals or trace particles floating around you, can give you information.”

“I’d say that seems impossible, but Sands is a Hunter and he’s blind, so clearly sight isn’t everything.”

“No, and no one sense is. He’s not only learned to use all of his senses, but to live without one of the big ones that Hunters often rely on. It’s part of what makes him so dangerous. People always underestimate him and his capabilities simply because the eyes in his head are glass.”

“Sucks to be them,” Brian murmured as they hit the sand and walked along the beach. It was quiet for a few minutes, save the waves to their right as they walked back toward the houses. “How do you deal with your thoughts when it’s so quiet. It seems so loud in my head with no significant sounds to drown it out.”

“You mean that little demon voice in the back of your head that tells you you’re not enough of something? Not smart enough, big enough, strong enough, handsome enough. That you’re not worthy of ‘insert random thing here’?”

“Yeah.” Brian swallowed. “Sometimes, when it’s quiet like this, it tells me that I’m a fraud, that I’m just faking it through life and I don’t deserve what I have.” He waved his hand around. “It’s not even about this. It’s been there for years, and usually, I can drown it out and ignore it, but having free time and the space to live with my own thoughts…”

“You feel like you’re going to screw it up, that everyone around you is just going to get fed up with your neurotic behavior and show you the door. That you’ll never measure up to the potential that everyone else sees in you, or that you think they perceive anyway.”

“Yeah, exactly.”

James squeezed him tighter and placed a smacking kiss on his temple. “Hell, kid, you fit right in here with the rest of us. There isn’t a single one of us who hasn’t dealt with those kinds of intrusive thoughts at some point or another. Red has certainly never had a dull day here since he arrived.”

Brian eyed him. “So you’re saying that I’m not the only one with a few bats in the belfry?”

James laughed. “Hell, no. All of us deal with that kind of shit. Full honesty, being a Vampire isn’t easy. I think it’s worth it, for the family and friendships we’ve built here, the support system we have within the Clans. I love my Clan, but not a single one of us could be considered ‘normal’, whatever that is.

“You got lucky with your Turning. I’d reckon most of them aren’t the gentle one that you had. But hell, even yours was preceded by that whole clusterfuck in LA. I’d say it’s probably really uncommon for someone to just meet their Mate and everything goes great, and the Turning is all smooth and life is a Disney fairy tale ending. More often, some kind of drama or traumatic event surrounds it. Hell, this Clan itself has enough collective baggage to outfit a whole city. Life is messy and fucked up, and we just have to deal the best we can.”

“So what you’re saying is that I fit right in down here and that I should just embrace it and put myself on Red’s already overtaxed schedule?” Brian asked, amused.

“Yeah, pretty much.” James sighed. “The best advice I can give you is to remember that while your feelings and what you feel are perfectly valid because it is how you feel, that they don’t necessarily reflect the reality of the situation. You may feel like you’re letting down Dom or Josiah or any number of people, but the reality is that it’s far from the truth. Everyone is content for you to take things at your own pace. No pressure at all. You’re already driven enough to succeed as it is. I know that you expect more from yourself already than anyone else does.”

“I just don’t want to be a disappointment,” he said quietly. He knew that stemmed from his childhood, feeling like he needed to make up for the absence of his siblings, but he couldn’t seem to help himself with that. He knew it was a problem, just one he tried to ignore in the hopes it would go away.

“Not gonna happen. Even if someone was to be disappointed in an event that occurs or a choice, there’s nothing about you, Brain O’Conner, that is a disappointment.” He dropped onto the sand and tugged Brian down. “Come on. Let’s sit out here and embrace the silence until Dom comes looking for us because he’s worried I’m trying to steal your fine ass away from him.”

Brian laughed and leaned into James and the silence.



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