Fred had never been much of a “girlfriends” kind of girl.
It wasn’t that she didn’t want to have female friends, exactly – it just never really seemed to happen for her, never clicked. From pre-k to grad school, her friends always had better friends; then there was Pylea, which she didn’t want to think about. The closest she’d come to a real girl friend was Cordelia, and she didn’t really want to think about that either.
Harmony was not Cordelia.
She was like Cordelia, Fred guesses, or at least the way Cordelia had been in high school. They had been best friends, after all. Like Cordelia, Harmony was kind of sassy, and fashionable, and self-centered but in an oddly endearing way.
But unlike Cordelia, Harmony seemed…hungry. Not vampire-hungry, although she had been a little worried about that at first – this was a more psychological hunger. Like everything she did was some kind of desperate measure to prove herself.
Also unlike Cordelia, Harmony was conscious (if not alive), and is currently rambling about some guy across the bar. Fred glances at him. Handsome enough; a little vacant, in that pretty LA kind of way.
Harmony says something somehow both self-congratulatory and self-deprecating, and Fred feels an odd twinge of concern for this woman she barely knows. The girlfriend-y thing to do would probably be to cheer her on, but something doesn’t feel right.
The bar is so loud.
“Do you like margaritas?”
Harmony looks surprised, like she forgot Fred was there at all. Not unusual, but for some reason it stings anyway. “What?”
“Margaritas,” Fred repeats.
“Well, sure, duh,” she says, getting up immediately and only slightly tottering on her heels. “I can get.”
“I didn’t mean here.”
“They don’t have margaritas?” Harmony asks, brow crinkling.
“Not good ones,” Fred says with the authority of the Texas girl she is. “I know a place.”
Harmony hesitates, eyes straying to the guy across the bar. But then she smiles widely back at Fred. “I’m in.”
“I think they water down the drinks here anyway,” Harmony says thoughtfully as they walk outside. “I mean, vampire metabolism is kind of a blessing and a curse – like, who needs Atkins? The lack of buzz, though, total bummer. One time my ex took me to a demon bar and the drinks were totally strong. They even had a margarita with blood around the rim, and at first I was like, ew. Like, just because we’re undead doesn’t mean we have to be goths about it, you know? But blood, salty, so that does kind of work, and it actually tasted incredible. I wanted to go back there like every night. But we skipped out on the tab and he wouldn’t let me flash the bartender so we never went back. I think he died like, the next week anyway.”
“No,” the vampire scoffs. Something about her eye roll is familiar.
“Wait, was this Spike?”
Harmony nods, giggling a little. “Oh my God, for a moment I kinda forgot you know each other. This is weird, right?”
Fred isn’t sure whether she means the conversation, the evening, or the entire situation of them working together. But she answers honestly, “Yeah, a little. But…in a good way.”
Harmony is suitably impressed with the bar (and the margaritas).
“Fred! You’ve been holding out on me. I had no idea you were secretly so cool. I never would have found this place on my own,” she enthuses, licking the rim of her glass with gusto. Fred watches her, amused and, weirdly, a little nervous.
“It’s near my apartment,” she says lamely.
“I bet you bring all the guys here.”
Harmony raises an eyebrow. Fred sighs. “Things with Gunn are over. And things with Wesley…never even started.”
“And Knox?” Harmony asks around her straw.
Harmony finishes her margarita with a large slurp and catches the eye of the bartender. “Can we have another two of these? On me.”
“You don’t have to do that,” Fred says, embarrassed. Her disposable income these days far exceeds all her previous income added together. One upside of working for the devil is the good pay.
“You paid for the cab,” Harmony reminds her. She tosses her long hair back impatiently. “And this night has been so fun, I don’t want it to end!”
“Yeah, me neither,” Fred concedes, finishing her own margarita. She doesn’t usually drink so heavily at all, least of all on a work night, but something about Harmony’s presence is…intoxicating. She accepts the new glass gratefully and swirls her straw around.
“Huh?” Fred asks sharply, looking up.
Harmony chuckles a little. “You were totally out of it so I was asking if you were thinking about an experiment or something. Since you’re all science girl and stuff, which is actually really cool.”
Fred isn’t sure if Harmony really means the compliment, so she just says “thanks” awkwardly and tries not to dwell on her initial interpretation of Harmony’s question.
But Harmony, becoming even more loquacious with each successive drink, continues. “No, for real. Like, I could never. You’re so smart! But you don’t lord it over people or call them dumb, unlike some people. You’re kind of modest about it, which I never really thought of as a good thing, because modest clothes are so ugly. If I’m going to look like a shapeless blob, why would I go out at all? But you’re kind of modest in a cool way, and your clothes aren’t even that ugly,” she adds, reaching out and toying with Fred’s blouse. Fred feels her face begin to flush. “Oh my God, are you like, okay? I just realized I haven’t drunk with humans in forever and I don’t want you to pass out or start puking or something because I keep ordering you more drinks.”
“I’m fine,” Fred says quickly. “I can handle my liquor.” Usually.
Harmony nods almost solemnly. “I believe you,” she says fervently. “’Cause you have, like, hidden depths, Fred.” With each word, she pokes the other woman in the chest.
Fred swallows, then smiles. Something is building, a little hot in her chest, like a sense of danger. “Do you smoke weed?”
“Um, I tried it once, but I – wait, do you? Fred!” Harmony squeals, and for all her talk of vampire metabolism she’s sounding more than a little drunk as she downs her margarita. “Do you have some? Like now?”
“At my apartment,” Fred says, a little more quietly even though nobody is paying attention to them. “We don’t have to…”
But Harmony is already throwing cash on the bar and pulling Fred off her stool.
The nice thing about drunk Harmony is her enthusiasm, Fred muses. Everything is the best – the apartment, the weed, the half-drunk bottle of rosé Harmony found in her fridge and is now drinking directly from. Fred’s cheeks hurt from smiling and laughing about…something.
“You’re the best, Fred,” Harmony says, leaning half against her and half against the headboard. She offers her the bottle and Fred takes a sip.
“No, you’re the best,” Fred answers, giggling a little at the absurdity of the situation. Heels kicked off, hair down, and in bed with a vampire. A girlfriend-type vampire.
“No, wait, listen – listen to me, Fred. You’re the best, because I was feeling shitty and now I feel totally not shitty. And you know what else? You’re like, super pretty. I get why all the office guys are swoony.”
Harmony is looking directly up at her, blue eyes very, very big. Fred swears she can hear a heart beating, and by process of elimination it must be her own.
For the first time ever, Harmony looks almost sheepish.
Fred had always had a tendency to overthink. That was one reason she started smoking; it seemed to bring her brain and body a little more in tune.
She doesn’t overthink this time.
One second she’s wondering if Harmony’s lips are as soft as they look and the next second she knows the answer. The scientist part of her brain is making a lot of interesting observations about the differences between kissing Harmony and kissing men (mostly Gunn); the rest of her brain is on pure sensation overload. As she might have anticipated had she allowed herself to think about it, Harmony is ferocious in her affection, nipping at her lips as she slips her tongue into Fred’s mouth.
Despite the overwhelming force that is Harmony, things are still a little hazy and slow. Clothes seem to disappear of their own volition, until all that’s left is Fred and Harmony (and a watchful Feigenbaum).
In the morning, Fred experiences the following emotions in this order: exhaustion, satisfaction, confusion, pain, and…coffee?
“I got Starbucks!” Harmony announces cheerfully. “I totally couldn’t figure out your coffee machine. Also, I think I broke it. But I got your favorite to make up for it.”
A lot of thoughts are running through Fred’s head, but the only one that makes it to her mouth is “How do you know what my favorite is?”
“It’s my job, duh.” As Fred takes a sip, Harmony says in an offhanded way, “Also, you totally screamed ‘white chocolate mocha’ when I made you come last night.”
Fred has a feeling that if Harmony ends up becoming a permanent girlfriend-type girlfriend, a lot more coffee is going to end up coming out of her nose. She's weirdly okay with that.