Had you asked me a few years ago why I was here; I wouldn't have answered you. " I " in the sense of me, who I am now and what I've become.
This is every bar in every town in every state in every country in the whole wide world.There's bad wood paneling on the walls, a dart board in the back, two pool tables and a jukebox that plays music from an era I never lived in; and some people just want to forget.
The stench of stale beer and staler cigarettes hangs in the air like some oppressive prison guard hovering over you just daring you to breath so he can reach down your throat and squeeze your lungs till you choke; or just don't care anymore.
I'm nursing my whiskey that stopped tasting like whiskey and more like shoe leather a few glasses ago. There's another woman at the end of the bar and she's got that look. The look of despair and terror and fear and disgust and 'bartender; can I have another please?', echo's through my ears and I know. I know. I know. The tilt of her head, the bend in her back and the draw of her unsure breath; I know it all.
And I drink down my shoe leather to try and forget. Diving back, back, backward in time to a place like this only not. Replace the jukebox with a band, and the smell of beer and cigarettes with the scent of little boys trying to get into pretty girls pants; Replace the feeling of depression with sexual tension and you're there and goddamn what a glorious time my youth was. Misspent and misused and wasted and worn down and she looks over and my heart is in my ears and she says, 'Hey, it's been a while.'
And my world just crashes down to the sea like a plane with one wing. I'm spiraling out of control. Damn her beauty and grace and to hell with those eyes that could always see to the soul of me and I say, 'Yeah. It has.' I swallow down the words "fucking coward" that my inner voice whispers in my ear like I did the shoe leather.
Sometimes my inner voice really pisses me off.
Her eyes are on me, through me in me like a drill and I can hear the whirring behind my eyelids and feel the screwing up and down my spine and she's about to speak; but stops; and just smiles that goddamn smile I got lost in such a long time ago. It's my shit luck the map I made to get outta that smile is probably in a dump somewhere under a dirty diaper and a discarded newspaper and I sigh and think to myself, "Ain't life a bitch?"
'You, um; hungry?' she says and I laugh to myself. Hungry for what? Life, love and the pursuit of some sort of socially acceptable bottled too-good-to-be-true-picket-fence happiness? Hungry for you and those cupids bow lips I used to have wet dreams about and your skin that must be as smooth as silk and I'm damned again when I can't tear myself away from that smile and those eyes. I shrug noncommittally and say, 'sure'.
"Fucking coward." My inner voice sings.
So we're headed down the street and fall in step like old times; her on the right and me on the left. Isn't that just the way life goes sometimes? She's the beautiful right to my awkward left, the blonde perfection to my red nightmare and everything that's cool and calm and peaceful about the world. She's everything I'm not.
I'm broken from my inner banter by her smile and her perfect blonde head cocked to the side looking at me quizzically. Off in dreamland again while she's tryin' her hardest to be the attentive counterpart to my disinterested self. I turn and nod like one of those toy dogs you see in people's cars and follow her in.
A waitress takes down the order we're placing from the greasy menus that have probably seen better days. She's got that far off look in her eye and I know all too well what she's thinking; "Anywhere but here". Right on sister. She nods and heads off to the kitchen like the trained dog she was never meant to be and I wonder if the coffee will be good cause the atmosphere is lacking and the company, well, the company used to be my world. Isn't it funny how everything seems to shrivel in time?
'How have you been?' she finally asks with that same smile and the liquid blue pools bore into me again as she delicately curls her fingers around the coffee cup that's just arrived.
'Guess I've been better but I really can't complain.' Is my reply. I could complain but what would be the use? She'd give me a sympathetic smile and nod in all the right places. I can't believe people get paid to do that shit. Nod and smile, nod and smile. Smile, nod and frown just for a change of pace.
'What brings you here?' I ask. From the slight change that moves across her face and the cloud that's suddenly over our heads I know what it is before she even gets a chance to answer.
'I, um, was actually,' she trails off in that bashful way that used to make me think I'd done something wrong and screwed the best thing I ever had going for me. It's not gonna work this time. I get up and leave.
'Will!' She cries out from a few paces behind me. Damn her and the way she can make my name sound like a prayer to some God that stopped listening a long time ago.
I stop but don't turn around.
There's a silence between us that was never allowed to exist before. It's that awkward silence between love and hate, between running into the arms of your lover or running in front of a train. I opt to just stand still. I never did like trains.
'What happened?' She almost sounds demanding; forceful. The way she was never meant to sound. 'What happened to us? I m-miss us.'
'I'll bet,' I reply with a bit of sarcasm and a whole lot of "not interested".
She looks though me and sees. . .nothing. 'What happened to you?' She asks.
'You're kidding right?' Is all the lameness I can come up with. Damn her for twisting my tongue into knots that boy scouts would be proud of.
'Don't!' I warn her a little loudly and a whole lot pissed off. She has to do this now? She couldn't have done it two years ago, or three or. . .I feel her hands on my shoulders and I give her a look that tries to convey the disgust and desire I feel all at once. I think she gets the message cause she backs off a few paces. I mentally give my inner voice a dirty look and say "Who's the fucking coward now?"
It doesn't respond.
There's nothing left to do but walk away. I start off and it seems as though she won't follow but. . . Have you ever smelled something and been rocketed back in time to the first time it caressed your senses? Tara makes her own perfume. It's a mixture of rose oil and jasmine and incense and it's just. Tara. One hundred per cent.
We're walking now like nothing happened. I shouldn't have expected any less but a little more than this had crossed my mind. She just lets it go
We're turning now, turning down a path I never wanted to see again, know again but I think she had it planned all along. This was not what I was expecting. Not at all. I stop.
'What?' she turns to me with the confusion squarely planted in the irises of her eyes. She still doesn't get it after all this time.
'I think we're done here.' I say with not enough conviction and way too much thickness in my voice. Damn her.
She walks up to me determinately all fire and brimstone streaming out of those liquid blue pools of everything I used to get lost in and says, 'We've only just begun.'
There's something there I never thought I'd see again. Desire. And I'm damned again. If I had a dollar for every time she damned me into this little box filled with unchecked emotion and yearning and fantasy's and well, there goes that train of thought. I get derailed by her impatience and her hand firmly grabbing mine and yanking me into the house. *The* house. I never wanted to see this place again.
'Damn you, Willow.' She hisses out. And there it is. Anger, seething hatred, love, confusion and remorse all balled up and constricted and tied into. . .
'Damn you,' I say. 'Damn you and your lies and your self pity and your running away. Look at yourself before you go condemning me to even more hell than I'm already in.'
She grabs me and shakes me. Hard. As if shaking me would get rid of all the. . .everything. Get rid of all the everything. I feel the walls crumble just a little bit and my resolve weakens. She's the only one. The only one who can do this to me and my convictions and beliefs and the walls I worked years to build. Brick by brick by brick
by. . .
Her hands are in my hair now and she's a breath away. Her forehead presses against mine and I can feel her hot breath caress my cheeks and it cools the burning tears that began to roll down my cheeks God knows when. I grab onto her arms for fear of falling, tumbling, soaring into those eyes that melt my resolve every time. Those eyes that are trying to bore into head, heart and soul.
'Will,' she breaths out like some sort of desperate prayer again. 'Don't shut me out.' Her hands travel out of my hair and down to my cheeks and her thumbs are caressing away the tears that I've shed. I want to tell her it's useless and that she's just making a path for more to come but it's of no use now. Nothing is.
'Aren't you sick and tired of being sick and tired?' She whispers out. The words almost fall away before reaching my ears. Almost. I know what she means all too well. Tired of waking up feeling like you're living in someone else's skin. Sick of walking down the street and being just another helpless hopeless face in the crowd. There was a time when I was someone, when my life meant something but now. . .Now it's slipped away with the years and the words that were never spoken and the promises we never kept. . .she never kept. . . still ringing hollow in my mind. 'I'm tired of the lies. Years of lies and I'm finally done with it all.' She whispers just before tilting her head, 'but not done with you,' and pressing her lips against mine with a passion I thought trickled out of her such a long, long time ago, 'Never done with you.'
I finally screw up the courage from deep down inside of myself to look at her and I see she is crying too. Tara was never really great with the waterworks. I don't think I've *ever* seen her cry. But now, now they're streaming down her face like there's an endless supply behind those big blue eyes. My hands get a mind of their own and now it's me wiping away the wetness from under her eyes knowing that there will be more.
And yes, her skin is just as silky as I remember it.
I realize all at once or maybe not even at all exactly what we're doing and how I'm touching her and there's a faint tingle still on my lips from where she pressed hers to mine and I back off.
'Now who's running away?' She bites out angrily.
'I. . .,' the words fall away. There's really not much I can say at this point to help or hurt the situation any. I drop my head and grab for the table to steady my legs that have suddenly taken on the consistency of jell-o. 'It doesn't matter,' I say in resignation. 'Nothing much matters anymore.'
My inner voice does a little jig at the fact that once more, one more time in one more little significant way I turn out to be exactly what it expected. A "fucking coward."
She turns away and is retreating from me the way I ran screaming from her so many years ago. She didn't run away, I did. I ran from all the passion and promise and possibilities. I just can't let her go. I'll never be able to let her go again after I kick my brain into fifth gear and string four coherent letters together to form the lifeline I've been searching for all this time. 'Tara.' I reach for her and pull her to me and hold on as if my life depended on it. Somehow it does.
I can still smell the stink of stale beer and staler cigarettes in her hair but it doesn't matter now. There's a scent there deep down that is distinctly and forever Tara. Years of oppression and depression and desire well up inside of me all at once and I nip at her neck and suck on her earlobe and my hands are suddenly everywhere and no where all at once.
She turns around as if suddenly aware that I may actually be in this because I want it. . .need it. 'Need you,' she manages to say in between the kisses and the tongue and the hands.
We make it as far as the living room and she pulls me down to the ground with her and now *her* hands are everywhere and I can tell she wants me. I can feel it through the peasant top she loves to wear, smell it when I dip my head down to trail light kisses across her taunt abdomen and I hear it in the moan that escapes her throat when the thin fabric of her dress rises up and my fingers crawl into the promised land.
I'm on her, in her, all over her and words don't do justice to the tiny space between emotion and response or the line between need and desire. I realize suddenly that the two of us are moaning and as she arches into my hand I clamp down on hers and wonder only for a nanosecond exactly how it got there and when.
Short intermission for the clothing that's left clinging to our bodies and she's kissing me in a way that I only faintly remember dreaming about and dared to think would ever happen again. I push into her once more with delicate fingers but this time it's slow and deliberate and the look on her face tells me everything. She's always wanted it all along.
'Will,' she breathes out between the moaning and writhing and gasping for air. I kiss her and my hips pick up the slow rhythm her fingers are tapping out between my legs and her eyes. . . her eyes betray the sureness of her touch and I can tell she's deathly afraid of waking up any moment with her own hand in the cookie jar and I whisper, 'It's always only been you,' and I kiss her chastely and the fright and fear slowly fades from her eyes. 'Even after all this time,' I kiss her again with more certainty and more passion and a little bit more tongue, 'You still know how to make me come.'
The words hit her like a mac truck and she increases the pace and so do I and she's more ready than she's ever been. She says my name, moans *my* name and that's all the incentive I need to break though the walls we built against each other. We reach the height of our existence together and I cry and cry and cry. . .and my walls crumble to dust in a way that only she is capable of.
And for once my inner voice just sits back and grins.
The first rays of the morning sun beat though the curtains and dance across my lovers back. Contentment and exhaustion sent us both into a peaceful rest after making love over and over again.
The scars are still all across her back from when she was captured and tortured for weeks by a demon who was sent after me. Everything fades in time I guess, even these scars I'm tracing with my finger along her back. It all fades in time.
I barely rested in the weeks that she was missing. Sleep and food and drink were just pesky things that got in the way of my seeing her face again. Once the gang found her. . .it was as if she were still lost. Something died inside of her in the weeks she was gone and once I found her I lost her all over again bit by bit and piece by piece in the days leading up to her leaving. Until there was noting left. Till now.
Now she stirs under my touch and rolls over and gives me the most curious look of confusion, then understanding then fear. It still amazes me after all this time the volumes she can speak with only an expression. I bend down and try to convey everything that's gone unsaid in the past few years. Everything I should have said but didn't. I pull away and look at her and I think she understands. Everything fades with time.
'Got anything to drink?' She mumbles through the haze of just waking.
'Sure. Orange juice okay?'
She smiles that mischievous smile from days gone by and says, 'I was thinking more along the lines of whiskey.'
I touch her cheek and brush some errant hair away from the face I will never get enough of. 'I think we've both done enough forgetting, Tara. Don't you?'
She smiles a little sadly and nods her head almost imperceptibly. 'I thought I could forget, but I couldn't. Every time I closed my eyes I saw your face.'
I know the feeling.
'Do you hate me?' I ask for some unknown reason. Hate me for not trying hard enough to find you and letting you slip away from me and hate me for letting my past effect our future. Despise me for not protecting you the way we always swore we'd protect each other; without secrets. After all this, I still need to know.
'Yes' she softly replies. 'But I just can't stop myself from loving you too.'
And maybe, just maybe. . . even the hate will fade in time.