Return to Common Areas Chapter Ten

Common Areas

Author: watson
Rating: PG-13 to R
Disclaimer: This story is inspired by and adapted from a Korean film called Il Mare. The story premise, of 2 people who connect across time, belongs to Lee Hyun-Seung, although I have deviated from the story somewhat. BtVS characters belong to Mutant Enemy, Fox, The WB, UPN and others. I own nothing. I am nothing.

While Willow told Tara the gory details about her talk with Oz, Tara did not feel comfortable telling Willow about her meeting with the young witch yet.

Some part of her was afraid that Willow would not approve of the contact. Afterall, they had agreed on that point, as well as the obvious ones like Willow was not allowed to tell Tara big world events, or winning lotto numbers or to have her pass anonymous notes to her younger self on test questions.

They had long given up trying to puzzle out why Miss Kitty did not stay with Tara, that was part of the big mystery of where Tara went between 'now' and moving out of the basement apartment and why she did not show up at their pre-arranged meeting. Willow was sorely tempted to intensify her research on Tara's whereabouts, since she was unsuccessful at her first pass. Both harbored fears that something bad had happened to Tara, or that she had met someone else in the meantime, but were reluctant to bring their trepidations into the open.

Eventually, after a week, Tara let Willow in on her little indulgence.

I've been staying later and later at the Espresso Pump every morning, so I can increase the chances of running into you. I try not to act too stalker-like, mostly it's been waves and nods whenever I do catch you. Nothing huge. Definitely not something you'd remember, I mean, you don't remember right? Otherwise it's bad, and doubly bad cos I'll have to stop.

I w-i-s-h I remember you (we have to be careful with the w-word, vengeance demons about) but I don't. Which is good from a do-not-disturb history point of view, but I'm kinda disappointed at myself, at what a doofus I was, how could I not have noticed you? I really was a clueless bumpkin then.

May be I should do something to catch the attention of the young Willow Rosenberg. What will it take I wonder? *smirk*.

Don't you dare! I mean, I want, but what will that do to the timeline. God how I hate that we have to forever be careful like this.

I know, sigh.

Tara, I've been thinking, and I'm not sure if I should bring it up, but, do you want to make another date to meet? I keep thinking may be you've just forgotten, or were unavoidably detained, or had to travel to Florence to receive an art award or something.

I don't think either of us can survive another disappointment like last time. Maybe survive is too dramatic, but for certain I don't think I can stand another round of suspense and then being let down by myself again. I think that there must have been a really good reason I didn't show up, something that in time we'll both come to understand. I know where you are, or will be from my perspective, if it was a simple matter of being out of town, surely I would have turned up at your doorstep already? It's been long enough. We've got to stop obsessing about this.

You have the uncanny ability to always say the right thing. You're right, of course. We'll just have to move on and see how it goes. Let's talk about a more pleasant topic, how is the Miss Kitty painting going?

Really well, she's a great model, she's got these really breath-taking poses. Have you tried lying on the floor and watching her while she walks toward you? She's such a tigress.

Oh, I just got a letter (heh, I receive other letters in the mailbox you know, normal letters) from the Arts Institute of Houston. I've been accepted for short course for young artists starting out in their career. It's 2 weeks starting just after Easter, supplies, food and accommodation paid for, I just have to come up with traveling funds and spending money. It's good isn't it? But that means I'll be out of touch for nearly 3 weeks, because I'm taking the bus and it's a day and a half. Do you mind?

Mind? Yes I'll miss you, that's a given. But it's a great opportunity! And think about all the news you'll have for me when you come back.

You weren't this enthusiastic when Oz left. I saw younger you yesterday and you still looked listless, like you've been crying again. I was on the other side of the street and on my way home so I didn't think it was appropriate to interrupt.

You're not Oz. I trust you.

I'm not sure how much I trust myself, Willow thought to herself. Since her storming out session with Oz, she had run into him a couple of times. Unavoidable, since they moved in similar circles, and Sunnydale was not that big a town. They were able to maintain civility toward each other, she had Buffy with her and the slayer was the one to give Oz her coldest, meanest stares.

More disconcertingly, once or twice she caught herself thinking about her ex-boyfriend. And not in an I-want-to-throw-silver-tipped-daggers-at-him sort of way, rather, it was a combination of affection, pity and a little nostalgia.

She was feeling ambivalent about this, on one hand she wanted to remain on some sort of friendly terms with Oz, on the other she was still very angry at him and did not want to let go of the anger just yet. But because she knew Tara was busy preparing for the course, she kept the confusion to herself and allowed the turmoil to stealthily fester.

She knew he was staying with Devon, so she was only mildly surprised to spot a new poster at the Bronze promoting a one-night-only special Dingoes reunion concert next Saturday. The gang wanted to be sensitive and did not push her, but in the end she was the one who raised the topic and suggested that they made it a night out.

"If we are to start trying to be friends, what better occasion than a Dingoes concert? Familiar surroundings, familiar faces. It'll be like old times, only we're not together. I'm just another face in the crowd, no baggage. And after so long, I genuine like their music, it's part of my childhood," she told Xander as they headed toward the Magic Shop & Gym to help Buffy and Anya close up.

"Yeah, it's hard to think about being a teenager without a trip back to the Bronze and a Dingoes gig," Xander agreed.

"Xand?" she started, after a few steps.


"How were you and Cordelia, after, you know?" she asked.

"You mean after we broke up, after she went to LA or after she became a higher being?" he countered. At her dirty look, he grinned and continued, "She got poor all of a sudden and then I paid for her prom dress. We talked a little when she was in LA but it was a 'how are you' tagged onto the end of a conversation about some demon or other. I guess we kinda grew apart."

"Do you think, do you classify her as a friend?"

"Not totally a friend, but not an unfriend either. Plus, Anya gets funny about Cordy, especially after the visions thing, I guess it's demon jealousy or something like that."

"I don't want Oz and I to become complete strangers. But that's kinda hard the way I told him to f- off, he only wanted to talk to me."

"Do you want to talk to him?" he asked again.

"I dunno, I suppose I'll have to, at some point, but I want to give it some time."

"At least make an effort before he leaves, ok? Otherwise I know you'll regret it."

"What, did he say anything to you? About me? And, leaving?"

"Yeah, we hung out a little, he asked me to help them with the set," Xander said. "As for leaving, you know he's only back to sort out some stuff, he'll go back to New York and this time I think it's for good. He's got, well, you know ..."

She looked a little wistful. At a basic level, she knew Oz was probably leaving his home town for good, to establish a new life with, with- her. She should wish him, them, good luck in the rest of his, their, lives. A tiny voice on her at her left ear was saying some strange things though, "if only", "it could have been you", "all the things you should have done, to fight for what's yours."

She shook away the devil on her shoulder. She wished Tara was around, she could do with some major pouring out of heart right now.

Continue to Common Areas Chapter Twelve

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