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Chaos fic: Silence is Golden (Sort of)

September 8th, 2011 (07:48 am)
Tags: ,

Title: Silence is Golden (Sort Of)

Disclaimer:  Not mine.

A/N:  This prompt was taken from farad, who may not even remember giving it now :)  Beta was provided by moogsthewriter.  Remaining mistakes are because I am a horrible typist.

Summary:  Billy gets laryngitis.  The team is less than sympathetic.


At first, Billy has a cough.  He hacks all over the office while Michael glares at him and Casey looks ready to kill him.

“You should get that looked at,” Rick advises from the safe distance of his desk.

Billy swallows with effort.  “It’s nothing.”

“Right, you’re just trying to hack up a lung for fun,” Casey gripes with a deadly stink eye that would make Billy shudder were he not feeling so badly.

“Just don’t get us sick,” Michael says.

Billy coughs but manages a weak grin and offers a mock salute.  “Aye, aye.”


At lunch, Billy tries to tell a story.  He’s building to the climax when he coughs, his voice congested.

Rick frowns.  “Are you sure you’re okay?”

Billy tries to manage the saliva in his throat.  “I’m fine, I’m fine,” he says.

“You know, if you keep talking, you’re going to lose your voice,” Casey says.

Billy frowns at the thought.

Casey raises his eyebrows thoughtfully.  “On the other hand, keep talking, please.”

Billy’s about to reply with something smart and witty but his throat revolts and he gags instead.


The next day, Billy can’t talk.  He tries coughing; he tries clearing his throat.  He tries coffee and gargling and mouth wash and everything he can think of.

When he gets to work, he sits dejectedly in his seat and tries to look innocuous.

The team stares at him.

“No commentary today?” Casey asks.

Billy sulks, pulling in on himself.

Michael smirks.  “He has laryngitis,” he explains, having already spent the car trip to work relishing that fact.

Rick blinks.  “Really?” he asks.

Billy sighs and nods.

“So you can’t talk?” Rick clarifies.

“Not a word,” Michael says with satisfaction.

Billy frowns.

Casey actually beams.  “Suddenly my week is looking up.”

And it only irks Billy more than the best he can do is scowl.


As they go over their morning intel, Michael lays out some details to a new mission.  “So,” he says.  “What ideas do we have?”

Casey offers a few ideas.

Rick gives a few more.

Michael looks at Billy.  “And you?” he asks.

Billy opens his mouth but nothing comes out.

Michael laughs.  “Well,” he says.  “Maybe you can write your report instead.”

And Billy slumps in his seat and sulks some more.


It gets worse at lunch.  Billy can’t contribute to the storytelling and as they finish up, Casey sits back and eyes him, smirking.  “I thought maybe before we get back to work, we could spend some time reciting poetry,” he says.  

It’s like a dream come true.  The chance to talk poetry, to share it, to emote--it’s what Billy lives for, what he always wants to do, and as he opens his mouth, nothing comes out but a squeak.

“Oh, that’s right,” Casey says.  “You have laryngitis.  I guess I’ll just have to spend my time sharing my recitation of the Virginia legal code.  Not technically poetry, but I find it fairly invigorating when you get into it.”

Rick stifles his laugh and Billy looks at them all desperately.

And then Casey actually starts.

Billy tries hard not to cry.


In the afternoon, Casey is more talkative than ever.  He brings up all of Billy’s favorite topics and promptly subverts them with his usual pessimistic flair.

When Casey offers to lead a singalong if Billy can start them off, Billy finds a piece of paper on his desk and scratches a note to hold up.  I hate you, it reads.

Casey sits back, rocking in his chair smugly.  “What’s that?” he says.  “I can’t hear you.”

And Billy crumples the paper and throws it at him.


When the day is over, Michael drops him off.  “Quiet day, huh?”

Billy looks forlorn.

“I know,” Michael says.  “It’ll be better better tomorrow.”

Even with all his ribbing and bemused grins throughout the day, he actually seems apologetic.  Billy takes that for what it is and tries to smile back.

“So is this not a good time to tell you that we were considering a read aloud tomorrow?”

Billy flips him the bird and gets out of the car.  He can still hear Michael laughing as he walks away.


That night Billy googles laryngitis.

He takes an extra long shower and lets the water run hot while he sprays decongestant up his nose.

In the morning, he can breathe better and his skin is still a little wrinkled, but he still doesn’t have a voice.


After two days, Billy thinks his team will get less amused.

He’s wrong.

Casey talks to him all the time, lobbing him questions and fielders before backtracking with satisfaction that Billy can’t talk.  Michael seems to take pleasure in setting up briefings with every committee he can think of, including a face to face with Higgins, all to highlight the fact that Billy simply cannot participate.

But when Rick chats up Adele and then asks Billy about the best place for dinner reservations, his eyes twinkle when he says, “Oh, wait.  You can’t talk right now.  I guess I’ll just have to ask Casey.”

With that, Billy is positively hurt.  

Shoulders slumped, he walks away.

“Billy--” Rick calls after him.  “I was joking.  Billy--”

But Billy keeps walking, straight through the office and out of the building.  If there’s ever a day for a long lunch, this is it.


Billy spends his lunch at a busy cafe.  He listens to the people talking around him, their excited chatter filtering through his mind.  He listens to people talking about their weekend plans or their latest office gossip.

He lingers, ordering his dessert by pointing at the menu, and takes some pleasure when the waitress still asks for his number.  Apparently strong and silent has its perks.

Still, he doesn’t really want to go back, so he makes a few more stops before he gives in to the inevitable and goes back to work.


His teammates are in the office.  They eye him when he comes back.

“Nice lunch?” Michael asks.

Billy smiles, gives him a thumbs up as he sits down.

They’re still wary.

“You okay?” Rick asks.

Billy shrugs, picking up his pen.

“You know we’re joking, right?” Casey finally says, almost regretful that he has to.

Billy shrugs again, nodding.

“It’s not that we don’t like what you have to say,” Rick amends.

Casey makes a face.

“Most of the time,” Michael adds.

Casey seems to acquiesce to that.

Billy smiles.  He waves his hand through the air dismissively.

“So we’re good?” Michael asks.

Billy nods readily.

“Thank God,” Casey mutters.  “A chatty Collins is annoying but a sulking, silent one is even worse.”

Billy just rolls his eyes.


The next day, Billy is chipper.  He doesn’t say anything as he picks Michael up, but he bounces to the music as it plays.

“Good night?” Michael asks.

Billy grins at him.

“I’ll take that as a yes,” Michael says.


At work, Rick has brought him coffee.  Billy accepts it with alacrity.  He knows the peace offering for what it is just like his teammates know his smile for the acceptance it represents.  For as frustrating as it’s been to be rendered mute, Billy’s never been out of ways to communicate what he’s thinking and he’s feeling.  That’s the way it is with the ODS; things are best exchanged in the nuances, the small things most people don’t pick up on.

Billy just likes the conversation to pass the time and distract others from what’s really there.  Silence feels like a vulnerability and that’s hard to deal with.  He feels like he’s strutting around naked in the office, only worse, because while he’s comfortable with his body, his soul feels a bit less confident under scrutiny.

Somehow, he trusts his team knows that, too.  No matter how much they like to torture him.


Billy waits.  He drinks the coffee, sucks the lozenges, and makes puppy eyes when the conversations passes by him.

Then Casey gives him a look, smirking just so.  “I was trying to remember the lyrics to that song,” he says.

Rick frowns.  “What song?”

“That song from that mission,” Casey says.

“Oh, you mean the show tune?” Michael clarifies.  “The one that drove you crazy?”

“Exactly,” Casey says.  “I was trying to remember what it was about it that irked me so much.”

His eyes trail to Billy and linger.

Then he shrugs.  “But if no one can remember...”

Billy grins and belts out the first line.

Casey’s mouth opens, hangs for a moment.  “I thought you had laryngitis.”

“I did,” Billy says, his voice full and ready.  “But yesterday I went to the doctor.  Amazing thing, those antibiotics.  Cleared the entire thing right up.  And just in time, too.  I’d hate to think of no one being able to help you.”

Casey is still gaping a bit when Billy breaks into the chorus.

But by the second verse, Rick is singing along and Michael is bobbing his head.  Casey’s mouth closes and a tight smile plays on his lips as life goes back to normal.


Posted by: fara (farad)
Posted at: September 8th, 2011 01:02 pm (UTC)
Vin profile - sharp

LOL - that's brilliant! I love it - and this, most:

Silence feels like a vulnerability and that’s hard to deal with. He feels like he’s strutting around naked in the office, only worse, because while he’s comfortable with his body, his soul feels a bit less confident under scrutiny.

Perfect perfect line, and perfect description of Billy.

Nicely done! (and yes, I had forgotten it *g*) Thanks for sharing!!!

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: September 8th, 2011 08:41 pm (UTC)
billy watches

I still look at your prompts to see what I can do :) I just have a lot of bunnies on my mind.

I'm glad you liked it!

Posted by: lukadreaming (lukadreaming)
Posted at: September 8th, 2011 01:16 pm (UTC)

Lovely! Funny, but with an edge to it as you get beneath Billy's skin.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: September 8th, 2011 08:42 pm (UTC)
billy guitar

I imagine not being able to talk is one of the worst things that could happen to Billy. Poor guy.


Posted by: SamuelJames (samueljames)
Posted at: September 8th, 2011 01:47 pm (UTC)

Great fic but poor Billy. I can definitely believe the team enjoying teasing him but I liked the serious bits of this fic too.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: September 8th, 2011 08:42 pm (UTC)
billy watches

Poor Billy, indeed. But I like to think he got back at them :)


Posted by: blackdog_lz (blackdog_lz)
Posted at: September 8th, 2011 02:39 pm (UTC)

Aw poor Billy, laryngitis sucks.
But I can really feel his frustration at not being able to talk. And the rest of the team hazing him is great, I actually had tears in my eyes from laughing :)

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: September 8th, 2011 08:43 pm (UTC)
chaos group

For someone like Billy, not being able to talk would be incredibly difficult. And for all this team cares about each other, I imagine they know how to joke around pretty well :)


Posted by: Evil Insane Monkey (eviinsanemonkey)
Posted at: September 8th, 2011 03:06 pm (UTC)

aw, I love this. It's kind of sweet...in a Chaos-y sort of way xD

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: September 8th, 2011 08:53 pm (UTC)
billy content

I do enjoy the dynamic of this team quite obviously--they care about each other but they'll still give each other a hard time to show it.

Thanks :)

Posted by: jooles34 (jooles34)
Posted at: September 8th, 2011 10:58 pm (UTC)

This was just fab. The voices are great and it was funny, but with such heart as well. Great getting under Billy's skin and seeing that the boys know when is enough. Lovely.

Edited at 2011-09-08 10:59 pm (UTC)

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: September 9th, 2011 01:25 pm (UTC)
billy watches

I'm very glad you liked it :) Thanks!

Posted by: nietie (nietie)
Posted at: September 17th, 2011 10:34 am (UTC)

LOL This is funny, but poor Billy.
"A chatty Collins is annoying but a sulking, silent one is even worse.” I'd prefer the chatty Billy *g*

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: September 20th, 2011 01:17 am (UTC)
billy guitar

I know I'm a fan of the chatty version myself :)


Posted by: sophie_deangirl (sophie_deangirl)
Posted at: February 1st, 2012 05:14 pm (UTC)

I thought this was sweet. I would hate a muted Billy. His voice and accent so lovely I could listen to it all day long.

This, though, cracked me up:

Apparently strong and silent has its perks.


Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: February 3rd, 2012 05:50 pm (UTC)
Re: AWW!
billy considers

I definitely wouldn't wanted a muted Billy for very long. Although James does pull of a lot of communication with his expressive features alone.


Posted by: sophie_deangirl (sophie_deangirl)
Posted at: February 3rd, 2012 09:59 pm (UTC)
Re: AWW!

Sigh!! James SO DOES! I could equally stare into his eyes for long minutes on end too. I so need to now watch a Chaos episode!!

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