Gideon is in the grocery store trying to decide which of the two equally bland grain cereals she has in her hands Harrow will be more likely to actually eat when she feels her phone buzz in her pocket. She arbitrarily picks a cereal and tosses it into the cart. It doesn’t really matter which one she chooses. If Harrow won’t eat it, it won’t go to waste - Gideon will eat almost anything and can just add a heaping amount of sugar to make it palatable.
Pulling her phone out of her pocket, she smiles softly at Harrow’s name on her screen.
I likely won’t be home when you return - have an errand that needs to get done.
u didn’t have to text me to tell me that. i've come home without you before.
I know, but now that you’ve responded I have some instructions for you.
Instructions? Harrow pretends (mostly) to have no faith in Gideon’s abilities to do basic tasks but she’s grocery shopping. It’s hardly brain surgery. She even remembered to bring the list they keep taped to the fridge. Gideon frowns, watching the three dots bouncing as Harrow types out her apparent instructions.
I am going to send you some images. YOU ARE NOT TO OPEN THESE IN PUBLIC. Once you respond to this message, you are going to put your phone back in your pocket. Do NOT look at it again until you are back home. Do you understand?
Gideon suddenly feels hot. She remembers, vividly, a conversation that she and Harrow had a few days ago.
They had been watching a movie. Or more accurately, Gideon was watching the movie and Harrow was laying on the couch with her head in Gideon's lap, reading a book and doing her best to ignore the movie. The movie was not Harrow’s usual fare; too much crude humor and not enough bones and ghosts.
Gideon had laughed at some stupid joke and it had jostled Harrow enough that she turned to look at the screen where the main characters posing in front of mirrors; sexting , of all things.
Harrow scoffed at the screen before turning back to her book. “How absurd. What is the point?”
Gideon looked down at Harrow. “Of sexting?”
“Yes. It seems tedious. I can’t see how any of it is fun or enjoyable. I’d rather poke my own eyes out than have to take nude photos of myself for public consumption.”
“Public consumption?” Gideon laughed. “Harrow, most people are not sending their nudes to strangers!”
“It doesn’t matter,” Harrow said, tilting her head up pointedly. “Revenge porn is a real thing.”
Gideon thought about that for a moment. “Okay, fair point. But even so, that’s not the point.”
“Then what is the point, Griddle?”
“The point, my dark night boss,” Gideon said, pausing to duck down to kiss Harrow on the forehead and ignoring her sounds of protest, “is that sometimes people send dirty texts and nudie pics to someone they love because it’s fun. Revenge porn, notwithstanding.” She added that last part quickly before Harrow could argue. “It’s just a little tease, to keep things spicy.”
“Spicy?” Harrow scoffs again. “Oh, please. If people are so dissatisfied in their relationships that they need to devolve to sexting to maintain intimacy, they’re obviously poorly matched and should just break up.”
“Don’t knock it, Nonagesimus,” Gideon said. She began trailing a finger down Harrow’s neck, secretly pleased at the barely noticeable hitch it created in Harrow’s breathing. “Are you seriously telling me that you wouldn’t get a little hot under the collar if I sent you a steamy post-workout pic?”
Harrow hummed, non-committal, but Gideon took it as a win anyway. “So, I guess I shouldn’t expect any titty pics from you in the near future?”
“Absolutely not, Nav.”
Someone knocking into her cart brings Gideon back to the present moment. She looks down at her phone again, apparently having stood there long enough for Harrow to text her again.
Gideon swallows hard as she types back a simple, yes. She pockets her phone and continues grocery shopping, hoping that her face isn’t as red as it feels. She continues shopping, trying her damnedest to keep her brain on track but it keeps drifting into dangerous territory each time she feels her phone buzz with an incoming text from Harrow.
There’s no way Harrow is sending her nudes. She’d made it very clear that she thought they were dumb. It was at least partially a facade. Harrow might not want to admit it out loud but Gideon was convinced that she could crack Harrow’s prudish sensibilities with a few artful muscle pics. Harrow lurks when she’s working out at home.
But Harrow has a tenuous relationship with her own body. Harrow neglects it more often than not; Gideon often has to remind her to eat. It’s not on purpose just a byproduct of intense focus elsewhere and an intense dislike for most foods. Harrow’s body is a tool, a means to an end, nothing more. She’d locked herself in her room for an hour the first time Gideon told her she was beautiful.
Gideon doesn’t think Harrow was bluffing when she said that she’d rather pluck out her own eyes than send a nude.
So they’re not nudes. But if they weren’t spicy pics why wouldn’t Harrow want her to open the messages in public? What else could they be? A dead body?
Oh no. What if it is a dead body? Harrow had finally snapped and killed Ianthe and needed her help to hide the body. God knows Harrow's noodle arms would give out if she even tried.
But that didn’t sit right either. If Harrow really was in trouble, she’d have no problem telling Gideon to abandon the groceries. She’d demand it.
Gideon drifts around the grocery store, picking up the last required items on the list while her brain keeps circling from nudes to dead bodies and back again. By the time she pays for her groceries and loads them back into the car, her brain is stuck again on nudes. She knows logically that Harrow wasn’t sending her nudes. But she’s gotten herself worked up about it and now can’t stop imagining Harrow, alone in their bed, naked.
By the time she got home, Gideon was well and truly turned on. Even if the messages waiting for her weren’t nudes (they weren’t nudes, please be nudes) she’d already decided that she was going to get off one way or another.
In a show of enormous self-restraint, Gideon puts away the groceries before she looks at her phone, which has been burning a hole in her pants for at least the last 30 minutes. Well, she puts away the perishable groceries. Any canned or dry goods can wait. Forever, as far as she’s concerned.
She makes her way into the bedroom, stripping off clothes as she goes. She has a moment of panic before she realizes that she’s flustered herself so thoroughly that she’d kicked off her pants before she took her phone out of her pocket.
Finally settled in bed and free of her most restrictive clothing, Gideon unlocks her phone. She takes a deep breath to calm herself before finally opening her message thread with Harrow.
And then she burst out laughing.
She was right. They were nudes. Technically.
Gideon had been sent a series of very artful, very well-lit photos that would have been undeniably sexy - if they were of Harrow.
They were skeletons. Head back, back arched in a variety of provocative poses. In the bedroom, on the couch, selfie-style in the bathroom. In every last picture, it was a skeleton.
Gideon laughs so hard and then laughs some more when she realizes that she’s lying in bed, mostly naked, ready to go to town and Harrow had sent her fucking skele-nudes.
She’s still laying there when she hears the lock click on the front door. She’s up in a flash.
“Harrow! You funky little bone witch!”
The aforementioned bone witch turns from where she’d been putting down her bags to see Gideon coming towards her from the bedroom. “Griddle, what are you - where are your clothes? Mffmp-”
She’s cut off by Gideon pressing her back against the door and kissing her fiercely.
“Well hello to you too,” Harrow says, a bit breathless, when Gideon releases her. “Did you like my messages?”
Gideon swoops down to kiss her again. “You’re insane, you know that right? That was the funniest fucking thing you’ve ever done.”
Harrow looks smug, despite the flush coloring her cheeks. “You thought I was going to send you real nudes didn’t you?”
“Of course I did, you crazy person. What else was I supposed to think when you explicitly told me not to open them in public?”
Harrow laughs, bright and happy. “If someone had told me a year ago that I would be stealing the skeleton model from the lab in order to prank my girlfriend, I would have assumed they were on drugs and had me confused with someone else. You must be rubbing off on me, Nav.”
“Speaking of rubbing off..” Gideon trails off, eyebrows wagging suggestively. Before Harrow has a chance to stop her, she scoops her up, eliciting a very cute squeak of surprise.
“I can’t believe you got me all hot and bothered in the grocery store and then came home before I even got a chance to do anything about it,” Gideon says, carrying Harrow back into the bedroom.
“Oh? Should I go back to the lab and get the skeleton back?”
“I’ll get your skeleton back.”
“That doesn’t even make sense. I think your arousal is eating away at what little brain cells you have left. ”
“Shut up and kiss me.”