Buffy was settling in on the couch for a quiet evening watching Elementary, when someone starting pounding at the door.
She got up and looked through the peephole. Oh, crap, it was Harmony, with a shopping bag in hand, chewing gum, and bouncing on the balls of her feet with way more cheerful energy than a vampire should have. Even through the door, Buffy could smell Harmony’s Tommy Girl perfume. What was that about? Shouldn’t that stuff overwhelm Harmony’s vamp sense of smell?
Buffy sighed and unlocked the door. It had been a month since she’d first slept with Harmony. She still wasn’t sure why--it felt like something that had happened, rather than something she’d chosen. And she was even less sure why she hadn’t stopped sleeping with Harmony. Maybe it was some kind of subconscious vampire lust. Like a partner with a heartbeat was just squicky now.
“Hey, Harmony,” Buffy said. Her tone was just barely on the side of polite, but Harmony seemed oblivious.
“Hey, birthday girl! I’ve got the best celebration planned tonight,” Harmony chirped.
How the heck had she found that out? “Harmony, my birthdays always suck. I stopped celebrating them twelve years ago.”
“But everything’s different now. I can’t even remember the last yearly apocalypse. And it’s going to be awesome! We’re going to The Chop Shop for manicures and blowouts. And we’re going to Texas de Brazil for dinner, and Cask and Cork for drinks. Plus, I rented out the Sobe Ice Arena for the night.”
The last one was easy enough to refuse. “I don’t have skating boots any more. And it takes me weeks to break them in.”
Harmony reached into the shopping bag and pulled out a box, which she shoved at Buffy. “This is from Dawn.”
Buffy opened the box. It was a pair of well-worn Harlicks. The scuff marks looked strangely familiar. She ran her hand gently along the blade. Inside one of the boots was a note. I found these when I was cleaning out Dad’s house. Hope you have a chance to use them on your birthday! Love, Dawn.
Buffy’s heart leapt. A chance to skate on a huge rink all without having to worry about other skaters. That was worth spending a few hours with Harmony. Probably.
And if a traditional birthday-saster happened tonight, it would serve Harmony right.
The ice at the arena was soft. Tiny sprays of snow sprung up in the wake of her skates. It was perfect ice for figure skaters; less perfect for hockey players.
Buffy skated up to the boards, where Harmony was standing. “How’d you manage this?”
Harmony looked pleased with herself. “Oh, I know a guy.”
It was probably best not to follow that line of inquiry any further. Buffy skated around the rink a few times, and then pulled into a scratch spin. She’d always struggled with them, back before she was called. But Slayer reflexes and strength made it easy now. Harmony and the arena blurred away for a minute.
She reluctantly finished the spin when her stomach started feeling oogy. It would suck to throw up on all of this beautiful soft ice.
She circled the rink a few more times, picking up speed, and then launched into a split jump.
It was an incredible rush, the blood pumping through her head, as she pushed her muscles hard just for fun. And then on the way down, it occurred to her that the boards seemed awfully close.
She hit the boards hard, her shoulder taking the brunt of the impact.
Harmony rushed over. “Oh, baby, are you ok?”
Buffy winced as she popped her separated shoulder back into place. Slayer healing was pretty sweet, but it did nothing for the pain before it kicked in. There was some minor pain in her right calf--she’d cut herself with her skate blade on the way down.
Also, her manicure, once a gorgeous geometric pattern of reds and purples, was now a smeared mess. And she was pretty sure that perfect up-do hairstyle was in total disarray (why were things “in disarray”, but never “in array?).
She grabbed Harmony’s hand and pulled herself up. “I’m cloud-ninish.”
Dinner was a bit of a letdown after the adrenaline rush of skating. The endless parade of meat was great, but it was a bit weird chowing down in front of Harmony, who just sat there, occasionally popping her gum.
Thankfully, Harmony finally ditched the gum when they reached the bar.
Buffy glanced at the cocktail menu and ordered a Four the Nguyen.
Harmony didn’t even glance at the at the menu. “I’d like a Cosmopolitan.”
That was the headache-inducey thing about Harmony. She made a big deal about going to the trendiest bar in town, and insisted on ordering a drink that was popular twenty years ago.
Buffy took a sip of her drink. As she savored the burn of the Vietnamese rice wine, someone bumped her shoulder. “Oh, sorry--Buffy?"
She braced herself for embarrassment, but it wasn’t any of her friends from slaying. “Clem?”
He smiled from giant ear to giant ear. “Good to see you! Where are your friends?”
“Kinda all over the place. Spike and Angel are in LA, running a formerly-evil law firm for some reason. Giles is in Rome, trying to rebuild the Council library. Willow and her girlfriend are studying the way magic works in a pocket universe. Xander’s traveling the world to find Slayers born in remote places. And Dawn’s finishing her dissertation at Northwestern.”
It was a canned speech she’d come up with after being asked the question a few times. It helped camouflage the pain a little. When she’d changed the world, she hadn’t expected everyone else to change with it. With armies of Slayers to fight evil to a standstill, suddenly everyone else’s lives no longer revolved around hers. She hadn’t known how much that meant to her until it was gone.
They exchanged a few more pleasantries, and then Clem was gone.
Harmony ran a hand along Buffy’s thigh, and whispered, “Wanna go back to your place for some special celebration?”
And then, as she looked at Harmony, with her blue eyeshadow and choker necklace and butterfly hair clips, Buffy realized why she wasn’t pushing Harmony away. Because while everyone she knew seemed to change with the seasons, Harmony was an evergreen. Human or vampire, her personality shone through, in all of its annoying glory. Buffy had a sneaking suspicion that if someone gave Harmony a soul, just for funsies, Harmony would stay exactly the same as she was now.
She downed the last of her drink. “Sure, whatever,” she whispered back.