NOTES AND DISCLAIMERS: Mutant Enemy owns, etc. No profit garnered ever. Written for doyle in the Harmficathon. Thanks to Carrie immensely.



BREATHLESS SLIPPERY SLOPE




Nina sees Harmony in the restaurant and stares for three straight minutes, trying to remember how she knows the blonde in pink. When it finally hits her, it's Harmony, the vampire secretary, she blushes and looks away.

It's too late. As Nina's reaching into her wallet to pay the bill, she hears a squeal and finds herself looking up into a bright happy face. "It's you! Gosh, how have you been?" Harmony sits down quickly across from Nina. "You heard, right? I mean, about Angel?"

Nina blinks. "I did. I guess. Have you heard from him? Is he okay?"

Harmony looks sad for a moment. "I'm pretty sure he's dust. Sorry. You know, building fell down, big mess around the hotel. I'm sure if he'd survived he would have called *you*." She sighs. "He did write me a letter of recommendation, you know?" Nina just nods because Harmony doesn't even pause for breath. Vampire, no need to breathe, Nina thinks. Weird world. Harmony continues, "It's a super-nice letter. I bet he had Wesley write it because it's a lot nicer than Angel usually was to me."

Nina says, "Well, it's good to see you. I guess you got a new job?" She starts to stand up and then Harmony stands up even faster. Suddenly they're walking out together.

"I totally got a new job. Like I said, super-nice letter. I actually had a few job offers which was totally cool, but I ended up going with this wish firm. They grant wishes, it's so awesome. Turns out the big head guy had some dealings with Angel back when he was doing the private detective thing, so he was really impressed with me. And then I started working there and he's even more impressed. So, where are you living? Still with your sister and the kid?"

"I, did I tell you about that?"

"No, silly, Angel did. He used to talk about you sometimes. I heard him saying something to Gunn or maybe Wesley." Harmony smiles again and leans forward. "See, the reason I ask is that I kinda have to move because there was this incident which was totally not my fault and I was thinking about getting a roommate, you know, so I can live in an even better part of town, nicer building, better parking." Harmony laughs again.

Nina tries to shift away but Harmony just shifts in the same direction. Nina's been wanting a place of her own, somewhere she wouldn't have to leave during her wolf nights. And now she's working part-time at a pottery store, she could even afford it. She could use a roommate. But probably not Harmony. "Well, I was looking for a place but, you're still a vampire, right?"

"Yeah, there's no cure that!" Another laugh. "But I wouldn't eat you, you'd taste funny. I mean, that's what I've heard. Werewolves taste funny even when they're not all grrrrr and stuff." Harmony pats Nina's arm. "No offense, you know. Plus, the wish firm doesn't like me drinking human blood either because so many of them are human and stuff. But they give me really amazing exotic blood at work and let me buy a bunch to take home. I thought otter was good, wow, I'd never had panda. Total wow."

Nina nods and before she gets in her car, she's given Harmony her number and said a prayer that she doesn't hear from her again.

*

Harmony calls and it is an adorable apartment. Nina can afford half the rent and Harmony seems sincere when she says she'd be happy to help build a little cage for Nina's werewolf nights.

Harmony has panda blood in the fridge and tends to drink Nina's beer. She also borrows Nina's clothes without asking. She complains when Nina doesn't wash her dishes or just takes off her shoes in the living room, leaving them everywhere. She's not that different from Nina's first college roommate who didn't even have the excuse of being a soulless vampire.

Harmony also gets gifts for Nina all the time like shoes and sweaters and leftover cakes and pastries from work. She decorates Nina's cage with a bright pink throw rug that gets shredded pretty quick but still looks festive somehow.

"This is totally working out, right?" Harmony grins. "Four months and we're still friends and neither of us have eaten the other."

Nina smiles as well. "It is pretty good."

"I got you some pants today. I took them from this store on Rodeo drive. They had both our sizes, so I thought, why not?" Harmony waves toward the green bag on the couch.

"You stole them? You shoplifted."

"Sort of." Harmony shrugs. "Took what I wanted and scared the salesgirl. She took the tags off first. I didn't kill her or anything."

Nina blinks. She wonders if this is where Harmony got all the gifts Nina's received in the past four months. "Aren't you worried? About being arrested?"

"No jail can hold me. You know, super strong, super fast. I'd just bend the bars open and run really fast to get away." Harmony laughs. "Plus, I doubt that girl will even report it. I was all scaryface anyway so it's not like they could find me. People shoplift from those stores all the time, so I'm pretty sure they can just write it off." Harmony looks upset for a moment. "Do you not want the pants? I didn't even hurt her."

"I don't know. But it's wrong to steal," which sounds hollow. Of course it's wrong and that poor salesgirl is probably scared out of her mind right now while Harmony is dipping her shrimp in panda blood. Nina thinks Harmony's food is gross. Harmony's way of eating shrimp actually bothers her more than the stealing. So Nina finds herself saying, "Sorry."

"Well, I'm not Angel, you know. I don't have a soul. I just do my best." Harmony shrugs again and drinks her blood straight from the bowl.

The pants fit perfectly.

*
 
Nina misses Angel. It's been a year, twelve full moons, and she knows he's never coming back. She misses having sex with him and that surprised way he'd laugh at her jokes, like she was the only thing left that was funny.

It's late at night and she's flipping through channels, waiting for something that won't remind her of Angel. She wants to be reminded of him. She must, because there's no reason an episode of Elimindate would make her think of him. She wishes she could hear his reaction to it.

Harmony comes in saying, "Stupid fucking stupid stupid asshole!" She's very emotional. Nina looks up and says, "What's wrong?"

Harmony stops and looks surprised. "What isn't? God. My heel broke at work, on those new shoes I got? Just broke. And I didn't have another pair with me so I tried that thing from that stupid Mentos commercial and broke the other one? Didn't work at all. I just had a pair of shoes that I could barely walk in. And two clients were super-rude to me. I explained to them that you have to think about what you're wishing for, you can't just rattle it off, but no. Nobody listens to the secretary. And then my date turned out to be the biggest loser. I thought, hey, cute! Smart! But instead I got boring and political. Political, I mean, really. Who cares about marriage laws? Seriously."

Harmony flops on the couch and grabs the remote. She changes the channel to MTV and looks bored. Nina says, "Marriage laws?"

Harmony nods. "Apparently, gay people can't get married. Like, anywhere besides Massachusetts or, like Connecticut? And that's important to me how? I'm a vampire, you know? Not planning on any big walk down the aisle in some scary church all with crosses and stuff anyway, though I would look great in a Vera Wang dress with a long train. Also, I'm dead!"

"It's cool that some guy was interested in that, though."

"It wasn't a guy, dummy. It was a girl. She's really skinny and had pretty hair. She reminded me of Fred, you know? Except Fred never wanted to talk about politics, thank goodness."

Nina stares at Harmony's profile for a moment. She had no idea. She wonders if she missed something. She doesn't want to say, "You sleep with women?" or "You sometimes date women, too?" so she says, "Did you and Fred ever --"

"Nope. I wish. I mean, I wished. Not actually. Because now I know you don't want to wish for things like that. But anyway, I did wish. I just didn't really figure it out until after she died. So I thought, hey, I'm not dead. Or, I'm not totally dead. You know what I mean. Plus, I'm a vampire; I can totally date girls if I want. I mean, every other vampire I know is bi anyway. And it's totally chic."

Nina shakes her head and grabs the remote back. "Totally chic." She laughs at the thought of Harmony discussing politics but pretends it's the Friends rerun.

*

She wakes up naked on her shredded pink throw. Last wolf night of the month over and done. Nina sighs and thinks it's been fourteen now since she last saw Angel. Fourteen full moons. Maybe she'll lose count when it's twenty-five or fifty. Harmony throws Nina's robe in the cage and starts talking. "I kinda had to tranq you last night, sorry. Did you notice?"

Nina shrugs into her robe and undoes the lock. "I don't think so. I didn't get out, right?"

"Oh, no. But you were growling like always and I had a date over. So I tranq'ed you and threw a rug over the cage. Lucky for me, she didn't even notice!"

Nina walks to the kitchen and rolls her eyes. It's exasperating but it's Harmony. She's used to it now. Nina says, "She? You're still seeing girls?"

"Totally. I'm going to get this lesbian thing down." Then they're both giggling at the pun and Nina stops being exasperated. It's Harmony, after all. There's not much point.

"Was this one political?" Harmony tried asking people first if they were registered to vote and then ignoring anyone who was but it meant she didn't have a date for a month.

"Not at all. All she cared about was having sex and dancing and shoes. She's like me, only human. I wasn't going to admit that I've never really gotten that physical, you know, with women, but she totally figured it out. And she didn't care. She was excited to show me the ropes. There weren't actually ropes, though." Harmony is in the kitchen so quickly. Nina forgets how fast vampires are.

"So it was good?"

"It was really good. God, if I'd known in high school, I so would have jumped Cordy." Harmony sighs. "I hope Cordy had good sex like that before she died. Do you think she did? Cause she really only dated Xander Harris and Devon and I bet neither of them were any good in the sack."

Nina just makes her coffee. She can never keep the people Harmony went to high school with straight in her head. Except Cordelia Chase, because Angel loved her. And Buffy, for the same reason. Harmony never talks much about Buffy. Nina says, "So you think gay sex is better than straight sex?"

"No. They're both pretty great. But I didn't realize that doing it with a woman could be as good. I'm totally learning and growing!" Harmony has a huge smile on her face as she opens the refrigerator to get her panda blood.

"Both ways are great," Nina says absently.

"Have you ever? Wow, are you bi, too? Cause I know you and Angel were doing it. And you had to have enjoyed that because he always looked like he'd be good in bed." Harmony is right beside Nina, hugging her and then letting her go suddenly.

"Yup. And he was good in bed."

Harmony jumps a little and spills some of the blood on the floor. Just drops. Nina knows they both can smell it. Harmony leans down and rubs the blood with her fingers and then licks her fingers. She says, "This is so cool. I can introduce you to some people. You should start dating again, anyway. You know? I know grief can be really tough and stuff, but you gotta get back on that horse. And ride it!" Harmony leaves the kitchen and a minute later, Nina hears the shower come on.

Nina was really hoping she'd beat Harmony to the shower. There's pink fluff from the rug almost embedded under her nails.

*

Nina wakes up when the bed dips. It's very dark and Harmony is looming over her. Nina backs up against the headboard. "Hey, Harmony," she says and tries to sound casual. Are they out of panda blood?

"I had this totally great idea and I had to wake you up to tell you. Seriously, it's awesome. Guess!"

"Guess?" Nina reaches for the light and turns it on. Harmony isn't in her bumpy face so it's probably not something like 'my idea is to suck your blood and turn you!' Nina says, "Uh. You want to buy a car?"

"No, silly. Though that would be cool. I'd really like a new car, something red, maybe. Keep guessing!" Harmony sits back and grins. She's totally naked.

"Um, is something to do with why you're naked?" Nina looks away. Though Harmony does have a great body. She always will, too, like Angel.

"Yup. Keep guessing!"

"You don't want me to help you with some sort of waxing thing, right? Because I don't think that's a great idea." Nina is staring pointedly at the blanket. And not Harmony.

"You're never going to get it," Harmony says, pouting. "I'll just tell you. I've decided you need to date again. And you should date girls. And that girl should be me!"

"Oh." Nina has to look up at that. And the only thought in her head is that this is really flattering light for Harmony. "You think?"

"Totally. You already dated a vampire so you know we have a lot to offer to our mortal lovers. I? Don't have to breathe. I hope Angel showed you all that can offer. I mean, he wasn't one of those selfish guys, was he? The kind that's all you suck me but I won't go down there. Those guys suck." She giggles. "Except they don't which is, like, the point. Anyway, that's not me. And you're totally okay with me being me because we've lived together now for like, six months. That's practically forever."

"That's all true, Harmony, but. I don't know."

"It won't ruin our friendship or anything. If you're worried about that. I mean, don't cheat on me and don't leave me for some stupid Slayer and I'm totally okay." Harmony grins and bounces.

Nina thinks it's cute. And then she thinks, oh God. Harmony says, "And I totally don't mind the werewolf thing. I'm like the perfect girlfriend for you."

"I need to think about it, okay?" But Nina still reaches out and rubs Harmony arm. It's cool and she thinks that's familiar. Different but familiar.

"Well, sure. But it seems pretty obvious to me." Harmony leans forward and kisses her. It tastes like lip gloss flavored with a tang of blood. It's kind of hot. Then Harmony gets up and walks out.

Nina stares at the door and thinks she's doomed. She's doomed to date vampires.

Before she falls asleep, she thinks about a lover who doesn't need to breathe. Angel did show her all that could offer.

*

Harmony insists they start with an actual date, not just a naked conversation. Dinner and a movie. Harmony proposes her plan and smiles a lot and it's easier to say yes. It's always easier to say yes to Harmony and she gets that cute smile when Nina does. It usually works out okay.

During dinner they talk about all the same things they talk about home only Harmony makes more sexual jokes. She also complains about everyone she's ever dated and Nina learns more than she ever wanted to know about Spike's habits in bed.

Nina thinks the movie is lame but Harmony loves it. She thinks it was hilarious and she's still giggling when they walk out of the theater. Harmony loves action movies. Nina grabs Harmony's lukewarm hand and says, "You ready to go home?"

"Totally," Harmony says. She has the sweetest smile sometimes. "Absolutely."

Doomed, maybe, Nina thinks. But maybe not in a bad way.

THE END.

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