Return to Common Areas Chapter Twelve

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.

Dear Tara,

I am writing you this and all I can think is that you're all the way over in Houston and how much I miss having you around because I am so desperate for your insight and advice right now.

I suppose it started off a few days ago when I had a talk with Oz that was civil and polite for once. We caught up and even joked a little. He told me a lot of things. Like how hard it was for him to move to New York, how isolated he felt and how shocked he was to feel the presence of others like him there, wolves and demons and what-nots. New York doesn't have a hellmouth, but like LA, it's a large enough city to attract all sorts of unsavory types, plenty of potential victims there, it's so easy to disappear and so important to hold onto whatever they can find.

I asked him if that was why he chose Veruca over me, that they found something in common with each other, more so than what he and I had. That it wasn't enough to have a history together, having gone to the same high school, having survived countless apocalypses. Is his life, his future (one without me) better?

His response was, it's not a matter of better or worse, it's just a different path. No one knows what would have happened if we had made different decisions all those years ago, when he was about to leave.

Thinking back, why didn't I try harder to stop him then? I didn't put up much in the way of protest, maybe I was too accepting, too afraid of being clingy, too rational. He said he was leaving, I cried a lot of tears but never put up a fight for myself and what was mine. And why didn't I go with him? I could have easily gotten into Columbia. Instead I was so wrapped up in my self importance in Buffy's fight that it was just inconceivable for me to leave Sunnydale cos Buffy needed me so much.

Did it make him think that I didn't care because I let go too easily? May be it never occurred to me that I could lose him. Am I paying now for the choices, or non-choices, I made then?

He said life isn't all about sitting down and making a choice from a list of available options, it's not the SATs, sometimes you make choices unconsciously, sometimes the choice is made for you, sometimes there's no choice at all.

I feel like everyone who I care about ends up leaving, or is somehow taken away from me. The constants in my life all leave one way or the other. My parents were never here. Oz leaves outright, Buffy dies and is not the same person again when she came back, Giles abandoned all of us. And Xander, he has Anya.

And I never got a say in any of these, ever.

Even with you. I hate the fates and the stupid Powers That Be that gave us the precious means to discover each other, but have seen fit to curse us so we may never meet. I hate it that I finally found someone I have an unique link to and it turns out we are separated by a divide that cannot be overcome. And how unfair it is.

Life is all about the choices we make. The difficult part is, we have to know when to make them, sometimes we only have a split second to make one and we don't get a second chance. But all too often it's too late, and when you realize you've made a mistake, the worst mistake in your life, you can never go back.

Unless you have hindsight.

So I am making a choice now. I am consciously going to make an alteration to the course of time, the end result may be the same, it may be different. Yes it is grossly unethical and possibly wrong. But I've thought about it, and I don't think there's lasting harm. Like Oz said, there's no right or wrong, better or worse, just a different path.

Will you help me?

Will you let younger me know life is not all about staying on the hellmouth. That there are other choices besides swallowing her pain.

I'm not asking you to help get Oz back, just if you can talk to younger me, that she should open her mind up to other possibilities.

I can fully understand if you refuse, even to the extent that you want nothing more to do with me. You may see fault in my request that I could not. No matter what you think of me, believe me when I say that I trust you, that I will always save a special place for you in my heart and soul.

I know you must be tired from your trip, though I wish I can hear from you soon, again I trust you enough to write me when you can. Even a small note, a word, makes my day.


Dear Willow,

I apologize for how long it's taken me to write back. As you can imagine I came back from Houston with so much to tell you, which paled into insignificance once I received your letter.

I will be frank. My first reaction was disbelief, but over the last few days I've had more time to think - pontificate and ponder, if you will.

The turning point in my thinking, amazingly, was when Miss Kitty ran over some spilled paint and over to the window sill, thereby making the infamous paw prints that you told me about. Then it hit me and I have to use the ton of bricks cliché.

You and I are already existing on borrowed time, that we are able to find a connection with each other is an anomaly. So who am I to preach to you about the ethics of changing time, the danger of the butterfly effect and all that. See, we are living proof of the irregularity, and we ought to take some credit for having been so careful, for setting rules so early on and trying to adhere to them.

The portal opened up at a certain time, and for a certain 2 people. We have up to now not explored on the reason behind that. Nor have we thought about how long it will continue to be open or whether it works for other people and other mind numbing questions like that.

May be everything that has happened so far that we struggled over, our initial contact, my visit to the Bronze, our non-meeting, me meeting younger you, Oz coming back, may be they were all supposed to happen.

I will help you.

I will meet up with younger you.

What I will say, I don't know yet.

I think I know her schedule well enough, I have an appointment at the art gallery next Tuesday, the first Tuesday after Beltane, I had hoped it's an auspicious enough occasion to help me get my paintings noticed. I think it's a school day, meaning younger you will be at the Espresso Pump with Buffy, so after the appointment I'll make my way over.

After that, who knows. May be after our conversation younger you will come to the same conclusion, may be something different will happen, but she will have a few more choices.

Whatever happens, I believe that our paths, the strange, twisted, cross-lined situation that we stumbled across, is coming to an end. It's probably better that way.

I know at the bottom of my heart that one day, for whatever reason, we will go our separate ways. Otherwise in 2004 you will know me. I was hoping that that day will be far in the future, that we have a good few months, or may be even a couple of years, before the inevitable happens. It looks like it is not to be. Sigh.

The reality is, there is no way that our story can continue. That it's not our time however much we desperately want it. Perhaps in another reality, but not this one.

Am I sad? I don't think there is a word that adequately describes my sadness. There are, simply, no words, to describe my feelings now.

My last request from you is this. If I am successful at the gallery next Tuesday, I will ask them to hold a series of sketches I made during my course. They are by no means the finished product but these are not meant to be completed - they are intended to be a series of works in progress. I will ask the gallery to hold them in storage in your name until 2005, when you will come to collect them. It's my parting gift to you, and I hope you like them.

When I first moved into this basement apartment you said in your first letter that you wish that I enjoy my stay here. I have absolutely no doubts that I have, and my thanks to the goddess that I have been privileged to share a small part of my life with you.

I wish you the very best in your future.

Goodbye, Willow Rosenberg, and blessings.

Yours forever,

Tara kissed the scented letter paper gently and folded it into the envelope. She opened the mailbox for what she believed was the last time and placed the letter reverently inside. Tears welled up in her eyes and her hands were shaking. As she closed the box and watched the letter disappear from her sight, she whispered her deepest desire to the winds.

"I love you."

Continue to Common Areas Chapter Fourteen

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