Monosyllabic Eccentricity

Title: A Fusion of Souls
Author: Monkey
Rating: PG
Spoilers: Post New Moon Rising
Summary: Willow slumps into misery, Oz into taciturnity, but can there be harmony?
Disclaimer: Buffy, Willow, Oz and the rest of the Scooby Gang is owned by Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy Productions, and Sandollar Productions. I, most unfortunately, have nothing to do with Buffy except having a complete love for the show. The plot of this story, however, does belong to me.
Website: Monkey Perch Studios
Author's Note: A big big thank you to Karen who edited this story for me.


Part One - Misery

Willow sat alone in her room, conflicting thoughts engulfing her mind. She had ruined everything. She had sent Oz away because she was in love with Tara but how did she know that one summer apart from Willow would rekindle the flame between Tara's ex boyfriend back home and herself? Tara hadn't even bothered coming back to tell her face to face. 

Tear stains smudged the ink on the letter in front of her. She thought there must be something more than what was written. Tara wouldn't just given up college like that. But it was too late to question Tara on things back home and her childhood. It was too late for everything. She was alone. 

She had given up her first love for something that must have been nothing more than magical attraction. If it was love, Tara wouldn't have left her but then she said that about Oz. She knew Oz had loved her, maybe still did, but she had no idea where in the world where he could be. She was truly alone.

Laying back on her bed, Willow closed her eyes hoping for sleep. Harsh light of the summer midday sun variety was held back by the thick curtains. She was home now, in her old room.

Summer meant back with her very Jewish parents but it still meant pretty alone. Parents were too wrapped up in their own lives to notice their daughter's troubles. Buffy, of course, was with her father in LA, where she spent most summers and Xander, well he had Anya now. She thought a summer of moping in her darkened room would probably be more fun than a summer playing third wheel in another of Xander's crazed relationships. 

Willow's mournful daze was broken by the sound her name being repeatedly called by presumably her mother in one of the rooms of the ground floor of her house. She managed to pull herself off the bed and walk to the door. Not bothering to let her mother know she was coming, Willow just let the voice continue calling her name, as it increased in volume. Soon she was at the top of the stairs and in full view of her mother's non-caring, annoyed eyes. Reaching the foot of the stairs her mother passed her the phone, Willow hadn't heard ringing. "Hello," she answered.

"Hey, you took your time, are you okay? You sound sad," it was Buffy. Her perky voiced cheered Willow up a bit. She smiled to herself.

"Yeah, I'm okay, how are you and LA?"

"Oh, you know, see my dad, all good for about five minutes then I'm bored. I think it might have something to do with the constant excitement of living on a Hellmouth, it just makes LA seem dull. Well, now I'll get straight to the point, how would you like to join me over here?"

"What?"

"Well my dad was noticing my lack in the enthusiasm department and asked if I wanted to invite a friend over to stay for a week or so, just to give me a boost of people my own age." 

"Buffy, I'd love to, but..."

"Great! You should come about Wednesday, is that good?"

"Yeah, that's fine, but..."

"Yay, okay, so will you get a bus?"

"Probably, but Buffy," Willow waited to see if she had her attention at last.

"Yeah?"

"I don't know how much fun I'll be."

"What are you talking about? You're always fun, unless, what happened?"

"Don't worry, nothing slay-worthy, just hurtful in the personal way."

"What?"

"Tara, she, well, sorta decided she won't be coming back to college."

"Oh Will, are you gonna be ok?"

"Yeah, but I think I'm in serious need of comfort food."

"Great! Not great you're in pain, but great there's an ice-cream parlour two blocks away from my dad's apartment."

"Okay, then, I'll see you Wednesday. I'll call with the bus details and stuff and meet you at the depot?"

"Okay, speak to you soon, hope you get happier. Bye."

"Bye," and she put the phone down.

*****

Willow had no problem convincing her parents to let her go to LA on a bus alone which should have concerned her more than her parents not letting her go but she was numb. The bus emphasised how alone she was and the feeling wasn't going away.

She sat on the bus next to old bald man in a studded leather jacket who was listening to some unknown form of music that really should stay unknown, on a walkman, and every so often he turned and smiled at her with an incomplete set of teeth. This particular bus didn't seem to be the sanest place to be but the numbness helped her fall asleep. She was leaning against the window with no problem at all. But she still managed to keep a tight grip on the bag in her lap just in case.

Her mind decided that sleep was not the best place to be as thoughts bombarded her, taunting, mocking her. Masses of faces she couldn't see laughed in unison but they were all was silent on the other side of an invisible wall.  Bright light stopped her from seeing what was there. People tugged at her, pulled her down. She rose up again and again. She tried climbing the wall but there was no where to grip. She followed the wall, and found a door. 

She pulled on the handle, knocked and banged on it, but couldn't get in. The bright light got brighter, as if it was coming towards her. The light stopped at the door and opened it.  The light disappeared as the door opened and a figure appeared becoming the spiky haired boy she had fallen in love with all that time ago. 

He just looked at her with the same non-committal expression on his face but it seemed to hold anger. She reached out to him. But the door swung shut with a thud.

Willow jumped awake. The bus was pulling into the depot. People were starting to get their things together. The bus stopped. The passengers filed off. Willow was left alone. She was in a daze. It took her a second to shake it off but she got up and off the bus quickly. She found herself in a sea of people. 

This depot was a lot bigger than Sunnydale's, and smelled less like urine and more like alcohol mixed in with other indecipherable stenches. She stood still hoping the people would disperse in a while. Nothing changed. Then someone was calling her name. She looked around desperately  and saw a few flashes of the familiar blond hair. Then it was in front of her, the well-known face of Buffy. Willow smiled as she saw her. "Hi."

"Thought I was gonna miss you just then. It's a good thing you didn't go anywhere. You okay? Let me take that," Buffy took her bag. "My dad's waiting in his car out the front. I'm so glad your here," Buffy started manoeuvring her way through the crowd. "Sorry about all this. I had hoped Wednesday would be emptier than this. Car's just over here." They reached the car and Buffy ushered her in the back and put her bag in next to her. Buffy jumped into the front. "Dad, this is Willow, Willow, my dad," Buffy introduced.

"Nice to meet you Willow," Buffy's father greeted her. Willow didn't know what to do, she was overwhelmed. She just smiled.

"Let's get her home. I think she's in shock from that depot, I thought you said it would be quiet on a Wednesday?"

Buffy and her father continued to have their own conversation in the front and at first Willow watched and marvelled at the similarities but then she fell back into her own little world of torment.

*****

Buffy's dad's apartment was big and spacious. Buffy had left Willow to get her bearings in the room designated to her for the next week. Willow arranged her clothes in the closet and sat on the bed. It was as uncomfortable as any bed that wasn't her own. She drifted into the vast entity that was her mind.  She enveloped herself in suffocating thoughts of aloneness that had been plaguing her for days.  But she couldn't stay in her world of misery for long because Buffy had come in and interrupted her train of thought. "Willow, you sure you're okay? Because I have the ultimate cure for depression. We party. There's a club a little way into town, you know, reminds you of the Bronze without the high death toll we associate with Bronzing. It'll be cool." Willow just looked at Buffy with her depressed eyes. "Don't look at me like that! I'm not gonna let you slump back into depression. Tonight we party. Tomorrow you can sulk. Tonight surprisingly is the cheap night and they have live music and dancing. You do remember dancing right Will?"

"Buffy, I don't know..."

"Well I do, so lets go. Put on something sexy and have a good time. Have a night of non-thought. What d'you say huh?"

"I suppose..."

"Great, then it's settled," Buffy moved to her closet. "This is all you brought? No, this won't do. Come on, we'll raid my clothes." Buffy took Willow by the arms and pulled her into 'Buffy's room' while she was staying with her dad. Buffy opened the closet which was full to the brim of with all the clothes Buffy owned.

"Did you bring all your clothes?" Willow asked with little expression in her voice.

"Not all, just most. Now here, you should wear this," Buffy pulled out a short dark purple halter necked dress and held it up to Willow. "Perfect. Put it on." Willow didn't argue, she took the dress and changed in her own room while Buffy chose an outfit for herself. Willow also put a black jacket and shoes on. They met in front room. Buffy explained to her dad where they were going and they left.

*****

The place was packed. It reminded Willow a lot of the bus depot. The smell had similarities as well. Buffy moved her through the crowd to a free table. Once there it was obvious why it was free because of it's situation just outside the toilet and it's complete lack of band view. A large screen blocked the view of the stage completely. 

Buffy tried asking her something through the din but Willow couldn't hear anything. Everybody in the room was talking, shouting, singing, and anything else that required making lots of sound. Buffy gave up and went away. Willow looked around and noticed a sign saying there were a variety of local unknown bands playing tonight. 

She didn't recognise any of them; The Mighties, Purple Leprechauns, Wiley Kings with special vocal guest, The Lunatics, Life Sucks with guest guitarist. They all seemed as unknown as the sign promised. From what she could hear,  they should probably stay undiscovered. 

Buffy returned with drinks. They sat for a while and drank. Buffy forced Willow to go dance for a while. Then they sat and drank, after a while the cycle was repeated. This continued while they listened to various sounds being made on the stage, each introduced by a very cocky and unoriginal wannabe emcee.

Buffy had gone to get the third round of drinks for the night as Willow sat trying to collect her thoughts which had dribbled out of her head when the previous band played what they considered music. The emcee guy went on stage and introduced the last live band of the evening; Life Sucks. 

She imagine anyone being worse than the last band and listened with hopeful ears as the band she could not see started up. It was good, better than any band tonight. They really were making use of the saying save the best for last. The music drifted into her ears with ease. The vocalist's voice was superb. He was backed by brilliant instrumentalists. The voice stopped and the guitar took over for a solo riff. 

She listened to the notes sliding off the stage. She recognised it. It was so tantalisingly familiar. She got up at searching for a view of the stage. There he was. The guitarist who filled her mind of happy thoughts. His eyes beautiful, he just mirrored all that his music was. He was Oz.

Part Two - Taciturnity

Oz sat in his rented room strumming his guitar. It was only an acoustic. He'd sold his bass last time he disappeared and a non-electric was all he could afford. 

The room wasn't good but money had been hard to come across. He didn't really have the communication skills needed for most jobs. The fact was he had hardly said two words since leaving Sunnydale and it had been months. What was he supposed to do now?

He had ruined everything, left the love of his life and returned too late. How could he have been so naive thinking she would wait for him?

He was alone now and the only person he could blame was himself. He thought he had control but he didn't. He had no control over anything. He was destined to stay in LA until he raised enough cash to get out of the country. Driving around was all right but getting that initial payment for the ship was harder. He just was never the working kind and now he was even more unmotivated. 

He sat in silence most days. He didn't know what it was, maybe Willow was his reason to speak. Now that she was gone, he took laconicism to the extreme.

Days drifted by in this place. He would sit and listen to the unravelling lives of the other tenants. The room across the hall housed a cross-dresser having problems with his boyfriend. Below was a fourteen-year-old kid that had run away from home with her thirty-six year old boyfriend. The walls were thin here. But lives were interesting, more interesting than living his own. 

This time everything was different, no hope of going back. He couldn't risk being hurt again. Last time he'd had a goal. This time he was just getting lost. It was harder than it sounds. He didn't want to be lost here, in a low-rent pigsty in the darkest realms of LA.

This was getting him nowhere. He would end up slipping into a coma if he moved any less. It was dark out now but tomorrow he'd go do something, anything. He needed to wake-up from this daze he'd lodged himself into. But now, he'd sleep. Putting his guitar away, Oz double checked the door's lock and curled up in ragged sheets tangled randomly on his bed.

*****

Oz woke early the next morning because his curtains didn't work very well. He tried to wash in the strangely coloured goop the super claimed was water and changed into some cleaner clothes. He picked up the his bag and guitar. He left the room glimpsing various lives as he passed. The halls that were once white, now stained grey, held no comfort for him. Oz had to get out of the building quickly.

Outside hoping to breathe fresh air he smelt the stench of a rat-infested alleyway. Oz continued around the building until he could view his trusty van. It was thankfully still there. He shoved his stuff in the back and jumped in the front. The engine started with ease for once and Oz set out towards the town. He didn't quite know what he was doing. He needed to raise money, and quickly. He couldn't stay here anymore. Determination had found him. It was a start.

*****

Oz sat on a bench. It was nearing two and he was not a dime richer. No one needed a laconic guitarist who didn't smell particularly well. At least he wasn't losing hope, he hadn't had any to start with. But the determination had split. Right now all he felt like doing was strumming his guitar. Getting it out,  Oz didn't realise he was about to start playing in a crowded high street. The first notes weren't heard but after a while people started to acknowledge the beautiful tune flowing from his fingers. Soon people were throwing money into his open case because they assumed he was a busker. Oz continued unaware of the growing amount of coins in his guitar case.

Across the street was a disturbance as a guy got thrown out of the police station.   Another guy followed apologising to the cop. He then turn to the angrier man. "We'll get another, he wasn't good anyway," he said to calm him.

"Where are we gonna find another on such short notice, the gig's tonight, man?" When they both stopped talking and listened they noticed a crowd surrounding the origin of the music that lined the opposite street. They crossed quickly dodging cars and pushed through the crowd. They were faced with Oz.

"Hey, man, you're good." 

Oz was startled by the intrusion into his own little world and for the first time noticed the crowd and his new found wealth. "Real good," The other man in front of him said.

"Don't suppose you could play bass?"

"For our band?"

"Tonight?" They said continuing on from what each other said.

"You'd get paid." Oz's ears pricked at the notion. A job doing what he loved to do for what seemed like only one night getting paid enough money to get out of the country was a definite option. With the cash he'd just noticed built up in his case, he might be able to score a ticket out of this country.

"You got a bass?" Oz asked.

"Sure, we got a player?" One asked in reply.

"Sure," Oz replied. The three then discussed rehearsing and Oz was to meet them later at a club in a nicer part of LA.

*****

Oz arrived at the club at five. He parked in the car park and entered through the front doors. There he was accosted by an overly large bouncer adamant that the club didn't open until eight. Luckily one of the guys he met earlier noticed him and the bouncer backed off.

Oz slowly found out the two he'd met earlier were Todd and Rider, drums and lead guitar. He was introduced to Guy, the vocalist for the group, who was slightly less shifty than the other two. Oz thought if there ever could be a cross between Devon and Riley then Guy would be the product. He also found out that the band was called Life Sucks. Not as original as Dingoes Ate My Baby, but it was ok.

They rehearsed their short set, only four songs, lots of bands playing tonight, until Guy was happy. Luckily he was pleased easily. The gig was getting close. They were to go on last. The others were going to enjoy the evening out with the audience, but the audience didn't appeal to Oz. He only really liked going to the audience when he had Willow there. But he'd never have Willow there again. Instead Oz decided to stay out back while the other acts played. Enjoying the fact that he couldn't hear them well, he'd heard enough during rehearsal.

*****

The last band, The Lunatics, came off. They had picked a good name. Only the insane would listen to that twice! The emcee who Oz had heard too much of, was getting a very bad reception from a bunch of drunks in the crowd. Oz picked up the bass he had been lent for the night. It wasn't as nice as the one he used to own but he'd done the best he could tuning it. The rest of the band joined him at the stage edge. 

The emcee introduced them, and on they strolled. The crowd was large and rowdy. Oz doubted their music would even be heard. Todd started the beat and they were playing. Probably not the best go they had today but there was nothing Oz could do now. For some reason Rider had suggested that Oz do a solo riff in this song and Guy had foolheartedly agreed. It was coming up. Guy stopped singing and Oz started. He didn't think he was good. Actually, he thought he sucked.

He looked to the audience for a hint of the reception. Nobody seemed to care much for the band. As his eyes were about to look back down at his guitar in disappointment, a flash of colour caught his attention. 

There it was. Fiery red hair from his past came into full view. She was as beautiful as ever, more so. Everyone else disappeared. She sped his heart up. She brightened the room. She was Willow.

Part Three - Harmony

When Buffy got back to the table Willow wasn't there. She quickly looked around her in a slight panic. The lifestyle she lead tended to make her jump to morbid conclusions. Willow was soon spotted on the dance floor, not dancing, just staring in one fixed position. Buffy moved closer to find what Willow's attention was fixated on.

There he stood with his usual demeanour staring right back at Willow. She turned back to Willow's face. "Reaction?" Buffy asked and a smile spread across Willow's face. Buffy wasn't sure what Willow would think about seeing the guy who broke her heart but Willow reassured her. It was a good thing.

*****

The crowd of people slowly drained away to a few and then just to two. A large bouncer made his way over to Buffy and Willow. "I'm sorry girls but we're closing now. You're gonna have to leave," he asked politely.

"We're waiting for a band member," Buffy replied absentmindedly.

"I'm sorry girls but you're gonna have to wait round the back."

"No, it's ok," said a voice who's body was completely hidden by the mass of the bouncer. The bouncer Moved aside and Buffy saw Oz.

"Sorry Oz, they really shouldn't be here."

"That's cool, we'll go," Oz replied and with a movement of his head Buffy was leading Willow out with Oz following. Willow seemed totally frozen. She had been strange since they first saw him.

"Long time, no see," Buffy finally said when they were outside.

"Likewise," Oz replied.

"You guys have a lot of stuff. I'll just see you back at my dad's in an hour?"

Willow didn't react. "Hey Will, talk to me," Buffy waved her hand in front of Willow's face.

"Er..." Willow shook herself out of the captivating gaze. "Sure, sounds good."

"Good. Seeya," Buffy said backing away. She turned around and headed home.

*****

The hour was coming to an end and Buffy sat with her dad watching television.

There was a light tap at the door. Buffy answered and saw a very distant Willow. Buffy quickly swept her upstairs, desperate to know what happened.

"I can't believe this is happening," was the only reply she received. Her immediate reaction was to hug Willow and reassure her. "No Buffy, he's coming home, back to Sunnydale. We're gonna give it another try." A smile sprung across both their faces and Buffy reacted with the correct hug and congratulations.

"Oh my God, that's great! But are you sure?"

"Very," and Willow said no more. She just laid down to get some sleep. Buffy left her in peace.

As Buffy left the room she smiled softly. She moved into her own room and took a piece of paper from her bed. Crumpling it up she threw it into her bin. All that could be seen of it's content was "Life Sucks w/Guest Guitarist Oz".

*****

The weeks flew by and they were back at college. Oz had re-enrolled. He was now a year behind them when he started out a year in front. Buffy watched their relationship grow and grow. Soon it was like Veruca and Tara had never existed. Things were back as they should be. Buffy watched over a crowded room how they were with each other. No one else existed. She laughed at what he said while he stroked her hand in the expressionless way that meant so much.

They weren't alone anymore.

They were Willow and Oz.