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All the Wide World and Sunset Besides

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So, she thinks as she heads into the wide world all by her Lonesome, everyone thinks I’m a good girl. The girl next door, to be wooed and won and fawned over like a beautiful innocent thing.

I’m not a good girl, she thinks. I refuse to be a Good Girl, because Good Girls demonize themselves and become the Angel In the House for ungrateful vampires who are still secretly in love with Slayers.

She wants to scream, she wants to hit, she wants to find a random stranger and Screw Him Senseless and she doesn’t know why it bothers her so much to be Good.

The wide world is Sunset Boulevard, Sunset seedy Sunset with all the fabulous people crawling down it in skin-tight materials and ridiculous clothes that she just can’t imagine wearing, even if right now, she’s wearing a shirt of Cordelia’s that’s pretty silly along with this tight black skirt and high heels.

Not a good girl. Not sunshine on a summer day and mom’s apple pie and baseball and wholesome delights. She’s convincing herself that it’s true the further she swaggers up the street and when she finally chooses a club to walk into, she’s very sure.

Not good. Not bad, but just not Good.

The bar isn’t smoky because this is California, where you can’t smoke in bars because the bartenders were tired of dying of lung cancer. But it is hot and crowded and there is the reek of alcohol everywhere and for a second, she wants to turn around and go home.

But she’s tired of being a Good Girl. Good girls would be afraid of going to a bar alone, and Fred’s not a good girl, she’s tired of it, sick and tired of it.

It’s a cage, she thinks, like being a different kind of prisoner, not as bad as Pylea, but how does one compare an alien dimension with here, the real here where it’s bad in its own way? It’s a cage, being a girl.

Like everyone else in here.

Everyone, everyone else in the club is a girl.

Oh. Oh oh. She should probably go. She doesn’t want to give the wrong idea. Oh. oh, oh, oh.

A little voice in the back of her head whispers, well honey, this would be a hell of a way to prove to everyone that you’re more than milkshakes and picnics. She doesn’t know why, but the voice sounds a little like Lorne’s, though it’s definitely her thinking.

Well, honey.

Well, well, well.

The music is good. Sounds like good old-fashioned 80s and Fred loves 80s music for dancing. Or is it 70s? Because it’s Joan Jett roaring from the speakers and that might be earlier than the 80s, but you know, what the hey?

She starts to dance. Three seconds later, a beautiful blonde girl with dark eyes curls her finger at Fred and Fred dances over, because, why not? It’s just dancing. It’s not like she’s doing anything wrong. Besides, nobody’s going to hurt her. No demons here, just dancing girls.

The blonde grinds into her–oh, she wants to touch me there, Fred thinks for a second, letting the grind happen–and Fred throws her arms over her head, gyrating into the mass of women dancing. She kind of misses the boys, but then she remembers she’s here because the guys suck.

“Youwannadrink?” the blonde screams over the music. Fred thinks about it.

“Sure!”

“Whaddyawant?” the blonde says.

“Cosmopolitan!” Fred says decisively. “What’s your name?”

“Meg. You?”

“Fred.”

“Cool.”

The blonde–Meg, it appears–disappears into the mass of female humanity and Fred feels sort of mean and lowdown because she’s being one of THOSE. Straight girls who flirt with lesbians, which is apparently, according to Lorne, very tacky. But is it any better than flirting with straight men you’re not going to sleep with either, she thinks as Meg returns with the cosmo.

“Table?”

“Sure.”

Meg grabs her hand and they ford the crowd to an improbably empty table near the dance floor, where it’s quieter. She is wearing a pair of pants so tight that she can’t be wearing underwear and a tube top that’s black and silver and shiny and really cool. And Fred is in a good mood because Meg is looking at her the way people don’t look at wholesome All-American girls.

Fred takes a slug of her cosmopolitan, which is vile but very alcoholic. She likes that there’s lots of vodka. She likes–well, what doesn’t she like, being non-Good and all?

“You’re new here,” Meg says, twirling the straw in her drink, which is not a cosmopolitan. “I’ve never seen you here before.”

“I’ve never been here before,” Fred replies.

“That would explain it.”

Meg is looking at her like Wesley and Gunn should look at her. For some reason, this alone makes Fred warm up, warm up much more than the cosmo, which is made of cheap vodka and isn’t really very good. She feels like she’s someone different, someone who doesn’t slump when she talks.

“Not much for talking, I see,” Meg says after Fred finds nothing exact to say that can quite explain what she’s feeling. “You from around here, honey?”

“Not originally,” Fred says. “Texas.”

“Southern girl!” Meg says, like Fred doesn’t know this. “Me, I was born here, bred here, went to USC here, was president of my sorority chapter and then I realized I joined the sorority because that’s where all the fine chicks were. My sisters got ALL freaky when I came out because they were sure I’d been checking them out.”

“I went to UCLA as a physics student for a while,” Fred says, realizing there is no good way to explain what happened to the last five years. The excuse they’ve been using at Angel Investigations–a mental breakdown–just didn’t quite sound sexy. “Then, just, you know. Around. I work for a detective agency now, a supernatural one.”

Meg nods. “I’ve heard of them. The one with the freaky angel? My sorority sister’s brother’s best friend got help from you guys, I think.”

“Well, that’s great,” Fred says. She doesn’t mean it. Well, she does, she thinks, but in that insincere fake Hollywood way, because she was probably still in Pylea when Meg’s sorority sister’s brother’s best friend got the help.

“You could care less,” Meg says, taking a long drink. “But that’s cool. Because I could care less where you work.”

Her smile is Real. It’s a smile that Fred associates with men, but that’s so prejudiced of her, she thinks, because girls–women, wymmyn, ladies–also have those moments. Moments of wanting to get some.

“Well, yeah,” Fred says, shivering and shaking inside, because is she really going to do This? Is she going to be A Skanky One-Night Stand?

Well.

Well, honey? what do you really want? Do you want to be a good girl? What’s this gonna prove?

“Are you okay?” Meg asks. But just then, Fred’s Favorite Song in the History of Music comes on the speakers.

that’s great it starts with an earthquake birds and snakes and aeroplanes–Lenny Bruce is not afraid–

Fred decides not to decide just yet. Instead she stands up, her drink drained to the ice–oh, when did that happen, she asks herself–and smiles at Meg.

It’s the end of the world as we know it, it’s the end of the world as we know it, it’s the end of the world as we know it, and I (she) feels fine.

Then Fred disappears into the crowd and starts to dance. She feels like she’s made of sparkles when she goes, not real, just part of the lyrics to her Favorite Song.

It’s time she had some time alone.