Harrowhark had not intended to become a paranormal investigator.
However, upon reflection, after spending a decent chunk of her life deeply traumatized, and the later bits disconcertingly committed to the academic study of ghosts, her current occupation was actually a very natural next step.
When Unsolved first started, it had just been her and Ortus writing clickbait articles for Dominicus network’s October-long “Haunted and Unsolved” series. The project had progressed into a YouTube channel, and next thing she knew, Harrow was spending her weeknights mucking around in haunted—see: actually just old and decrepit—locations with a small and cheery team.
It was a late February evening, and they were filming episode three on a haunted—architecturally unstable!—bridge in the middle of a swamp. They had been on site for all of an hour before Harrow’s useless body decided to take an accidental tumble into the water below.
The water wasn’t deep, but it was fucking cold. The fall wouldn’t have been too long for a regular-sized person, but Harrow was not quite five foot three with her boots on. She swore she’d fallen for ten minutes straight. The water was sticky in a way that water should not be, and—fuck her sideways—she couldn’t hold back her shriek of indignation.
Ortus was panicking. Ortus was always panicking. Palamedes abandoned his camera on the tripod, kneeling on the edge of the bridge to try and reach a hand down to her. Camilla, headphones still clasped over her ears, muttered to him in her low voice, “That mic’s done for.”
And all the while, Gideon Nav was laughing her stupid ass off.
She was still filming with the camera strapped to her wrist, nearly about to topple off the bridge herself with all that obnoxious enthusiasm. God, Harrow wished she would. She could only imagine the sort of bullshit footage she was getting from her vantage point up there; a full shot of Harrow sitting miserably in the swamp with water up to her waist, a deeply infuriating close-up of her sour expression.
For the most part, Gideon’s camerawork was pure genius. Harrow supposed that she should have been more grateful that the red-haired woman had accepted Cam’s request for backup when Judith’s wife had gone into labour earlier that day. Gideon’s work was skillful, and Harrow was wary of how that talent would be abused to make her look like a hostile, waterlogged ferret.
Gideon’s attention was already unsettling. It was a stone in Harrow’s shoe, an itch she couldn’t reach. Every time Harrow happened to glance up from her face-palms, deep sighs, and deadpan expressions—there was Gideon Nav capturing it, collecting her discontent like a spider in a web.
It was not the first time that Harrow found herself wishing she could get Griddle’s creative prowess without all the Griddle attached. She and Harrow spent four years of art school together—four years of reluctant academic collaborations and even more reluctant brown girl camaraderie in their ultra-white film program—and Harrow had experienced enough of the insufferable ginger to last her nine lifetimes and beyond.
“Oh, get up, sugarlips,” Gideon called out. The camera was still trained on her. “You’ll catch a cold if you sit there any longer.”
Harrow said, “I’m going to murder you in your sleep, Griddle.”
“Oh no,” Gideon pouted. “I’m being threatened by a swamp gremlin.”
“My face will be the last thing you ever see,” Harrow snarled beneath her breath.
Her hands sunk a little into the mud as she pushed herself onto her feet. Not unlike most things, the wooden bridge was decently high above Harrow. She hesitated. Palamedes’ hand was just barely within jumping distance, but Harrow figured if she tried, she’d only drag his noodle body down with her. She wondered instead if she had the physical capacity to leap, grab the side of the bridge like it was a gymnastic bar, and let them drag her miserable carcass the rest of the way up.
While Harrow was dithering, Gideon was jumping into the swamp next to her.
Harrow’s eyes blew wide. “Gr—”
The spray from Nav’s combat boots hit Harrow right in the face. She breathed very deeply. Water dripped from her ears. Gideon was smiling down at her as if Harrow were not about to be the malefactor of her painful and imminent death.
At least, by some mercy, she wasn’t holding the camera.
“Nav,” said Harrow evenly. “Now I’m even more wet.”
“That’s what she said,” Gideon winked.
One of those red hot flashes of rage possessed Harrow for a moment, and she tried her very best to drown Gideon. Put her hands on Gideon’s shoulders, and yanked downwards with all her might. After that failed, she tried pushing. Gideon didn’t budge. All Harrow got was a fistful of the taller girl’s jean jacket, and an ache in her arms that might have been from overexertion.
“You done, sweet thing?” Gideon asked in amusement.
She was eating this shit up, Harrow realized. Having one over Harrow was Gideon’s primary form of nourishment. It was probably one of the best moments of her life, and Harrow was just fucking feeding it to her.
She released Gideon’s jacket and scowled. “Why would you jump into the swamp?”
“Because I’m nice like that,” Nav said. Harrow raised an eyebrow in polite disagreement, and Gideon barked a laugh. “Come on, Nonagesimus. You wanna sit here until the ghosts come? Wait, never mind, I forgot—”
“—ghosts. Aren’t. Real, ” they said at the same time. Harrow, in her most exasperated voice. Gideon, in her pretending-to-be-Harrowhark voice. Which was snobbish, and high-pitched, and inaccurate.
“I hate when you do that,” Harrow grumbled.
Gideon said, in her regular voice now, “You know, you’re the only Filipina I know who isn’t, like, crazy superstitious.”
“That’s a stereotype, you nitwit,” Harrow said. Standing, Harrow was only submerged up to her calves. She kicked water around with her sodden boots, and asked, “What’s your genius plan to get us out of here?”
Gideon said, “I’m gonna lift you, and you’re gonna try not to swoon.”
“You’re going to lift me,” Harrow repeated.
“With your permission,” she said. “We can also try to climb the bank, but it’ll be harder.”
Harrow imagined herself clawing up the muddy riverbank like some dying animal. The wet sediment would probably swallow her.
“I consent to being lifted,” Harrow conceded. Then she added: “Don’t drop me, Griddle.”
“I won’t,” Gideon said. She glanced up at the rest of their party. “I need you guys to be right there to grab her.”
“I’m here!” Palamedes called out.
“By you guys, I mean Camilla,” Gideon added.
“I won’t let her fall, Nav,” said Camilla, who was smaller than her cousin, and also more menacing.
Ortus was there as well, invoking the apostles for aid.
Gideon turned back to her. “Are you nervous?”
“No!” Harrow snapped. “Just do it already.”
“Love the enthusiasm,” Gideon chuckled. “Hold on tight, spider monkey.”
Harrow’s head was going to explode.
“I changed my mind,” said Harrow. “Just leave me here to rot.”
Gideon was laughing as she knelt down, locking an arm around both of Harrow’s trouser-clad calves. Then she was lifting her smoothly upwards until Harrow was eye-level with their team’s ankles. Gideon’s hand was warm against the back of her leg, fingers pressed gently above the tender concave of her knee. A detached part of her noted that Gideon was wearing the same cologne that she’d worn since their art school days. Harrow did not know what to make of these observations.
Then Gideon said, “Cam, make sure you’ve got a handle on her—”
Harrow bristled. “I’m not a dog, Nav!”
“But you are a bitch!” Gideon cackled.
Harrow’s hands, which up until that very moment had been resting gingerly on top of Gideon’s head, tugged roughly at her short red hair.
“Oi!” Gideon cried out. “Save it for the bedroom, Nonagesimus!”
“Nav!” Harrow shrieked.
Eager to be rid of her, Harrow released Gideon’s hair to steady herself against the edge plank of wood. Then Camilla took her by the shoulders and hauled her up until she was able to collapse into a heap on the bridge.
“Thank you,” Harrow gasped, attempting to recollect her dignity.
“You weigh about as much as a bag of sticks,” Camilla said.
“Are you alright, Harrow?” Palamedes knelt down beside her.
“I’m fine,” Harrow shivered.
Ortus was monologuing, “I was so worried, Harrowhark!” He clutched at his chest. “This bridge already houses the grief of so many unhappy spirits. I could not bear it if we added yet another to its ghostly coffers.”
He always talked like this—which was also the way he wrote. Their viewer count was humble and growing, but many comments expressed that Ortus’ archaic way of talking was so strange that many tuned in solely to hear him dictate. This was very sad, and Harrow took offense to it.
The wind was beginning to freeze the damp clothes to her skin. She peeled off her uselessly soaked twill coat, dumping it in a pile on the ground.
“Coming up!” Gideon’s voice called out. There was a grunt from below, and then two hands appeared at the edge of the bridge. Harrow thought very briefly to herself, no fucking way she’s that strong, right before Griddle pulled herself up. Harrow blinked, a line of volatile heat cutting down her chest, into the waistband of her trousers. That wasn’t good. That wouldn’t do at all. She ripped her gaze away.
“Maybe we should call it for the evening,” Palamedes said. His grey, bespectacled eyes trained sheepishly on Harrow. “We can come back tomorrow when Harrow’s not completely waterlogged.”
“No,” Harrow said through gritted teeth. “Let’s just finish shooting.”
They eventually agreed to let Harrow back in front of the cameras, but only after ten minutes of Ortus and Palamedes fussing over her like she was a newly hatched chicken. Camilla was suiting Harrow up with a new microphone. Gideon was watching the whole thing go down like it was a science experiment, waiting for something to blow.
Palamedes offered Harrow his coat, which she vehemently denied.
“For pity’s sake, Harrow, I insist,” he said.
“I am perfectly fine!”
Palamedes sighed, disgruntled, but didn’t push any further. He and Camilla started up one of those strange conversations where they only spoke in facial gestures. Harrow glared at the cousins as she stood next to Ortus in her soaked clothes. After several moments of this, Cam shrugged and said, “We’re rolling in—”
“Hold up,” Gideon said.
“Nav...” Harrow backed up an instinctive step as the other girl began shrugging out of her jacket.
“You’re still such a menace.” Gideon stomped out from behind the camera, wielding the jacket. “Would it kill you to just accept generosity without a fight once in a while?” Gideon dropped the thing onto Harrow’s shoulders, deftly doing up the buttons while Harrow flailed like an inflatable tube-man in a hurricane. “For the love of God!” She was wearing it like a straitjacket. Gideon was squint-glaring at her so hard that she thought the woman’s eyes were going to pop out. “Put your arms in properly! You look like Babadook!”
“Fuck you, Griddle.”
After some minor struggle, Harrow punched her arms through the sleeves, muttering under her breath the whole time. Gideon let out a huff of satisfaction.
Palamedes, Camilla and Ortus stayed well out of it. Palamedes cringed like he was being forced to watch two amateurs perform open heart surgery on each other while drunk. Camilla, on the other hand, surveyed them with a subtle attentiveness. Harrow could practically see the gears that had been turning in Camilla’s head since Gideon had flounced into the backseat of their work van that afternoon, and greeted a shocked Harrow with hey sugarlips, is that a spirit box in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?
“A thank you would be nice,” Gideon said now.
Harrow tried for a noise of revulsion, but it turned into a sigh as her shivering stopped, the warmth seeping back into her bones. Nav’s jean jacket was insulated with fleece. It was enormous on Harrow, who came to the sudden realization that Griddle’s smell was everywhere, that she was wrapped up in it. Citrus and musk and cardamom, something like that. When she looked up, Gideon, left only in her hoodie, was staring at her.
Harrow met her eyes, a soundless demand. What?
Griddle, comprehending her, shook her head in a daze.
“We should start rolling,” Palamedes interrupted.
Harrow snapped out of it. Without a word, Gideon returned to the camera.
Harrow looked at Ortus then, and hissed, "What?”
Because Ortus was smiling at her kindly. His dark eyes were soft.
Quietly, he said, “You’ve known her a long time, haven’t you?”
“It feels like forever,” Harrow said honestly. “Start rolling.”
It wasn’t like Harrow had been completely unaware that Gideon was in Los Angeles, or that she worked for the Dominicus network. Actually, Harrow was extremely cognizant of the fact, and had spent the past February trying very hard to avoid the woman when she had first seen Gideon’s Instagram post—Gideon’s hand forming a peace sign in front of the network studios. GUESS WHO MOVED TO LOS ANGELES TO WORK FOR DOMINICUS winky face winky face, read the caption. Ugh.
The Dominicus studios were enormous. A whole fifteen story building. Harrow didn’t even cross paths with Ortus unless she was purposely seeking him out. Running into Gideon would be highly unlikely.
Of course, the universe wanted Harrow to suffer.
So it happened when she was in the elevator at the end of a long day, weary and headachy, and carrying a Tupperware of homemade lumpia that Ortus had all but shoved in her face. The studio was mostly dead, seeing as it was 10 at night, and Harrow thought she was home free. The elevator door was closing, but just before it could shut—a brown, freckled, very muscular arm stuck itself through the gap.
Harrow knew it immediately. She released a tiny little, “Fuck.”
“Hello to you too, Nonagesimus,” Gideon Nav said. She cocked her head to the side, and added thoughtfully: “Damn, you look like ass.”
Harrow stared up at her balefully. The year and a half of world travel and award-winning video productions that Gideon undertook after graduation had not changed her much in terms of physique or dumbfuckery. Big ass arms: check. Golden eyes: check. Muscle tee and shorts in the middle of February, like a moron: check. A stupid and messy head of red hair and—oh.
“You cut your hair,” Harrow blurted out.
Gideon’s hand went to her undercut, taken aback.
“Um, yeah. Just recently?”
“Hmm,” Harrow nodded politely, trying to recover. “Well, I see you haven’t gotten rid of the worms in your brain. They’re really thriving now.”
“It’s the California terroir,” Gideon said easily. She pressed a button on the elevator pad, leaning against the metal wall as they dropped slowly floor by floor. “Speaking of which, I’ve been working here for a month, and this is the first time we’ve spoken. The fuck’s up with that?”
“I’m a very busy woman, Nav,” Harrow said. “If you don’t know, I’m currently working on—”
“I’ve seen the YouTube videos,” Gideon interrupted. Harrow stared at her. “They’re very good. Very nerd a la Harrowhark. Your cohost’s slam poetry voice gives me a laugh. But what I’m trying to say—you’ve been avoiding me, sweet thing.”
“I have not.”
“You knew I was in Los Angeles.”
“I did see your Instagram post,” Harrow shrugged.
“You didn’t think to drop by and say hello?” Gideon sounded genuinely off put.
“Why?” Harrow snarked. “So you could prance around telling me I look like ass?”
“Okay,” Gideon clasped her hands together contemplatively. “Apologies. I retract that statement. You look like you have not slept in a week, and I recommend you get on that. There, better?”
The elevator dinged, and the doors opened. Harrow filed quickly through the lobby and out to the parking lot, Gideon following half a step behind, babbling all the way.
“Listen, I’m just saying,” Gideon continued. “I don’t have any other friends in Los Angeles to show me the ropes. I’ve been scrolling through fucking Food Network articles trying to find the best places to eat—it’s humiliating—”
“We’re not friends, Nav. We haven’t spoken since graduation.”
“—yes, I know!” Gideon continued. “But you and me? We’re kind of a thing. Like Batman and Superman. Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Gideon and Harrowhark versus an institution of snobby white fucks and neolib tokenizers! Oh shit, do you remember when we left a raw tilapia in Professor Gaius’ office? That was so fucking good.”
“Nav,” Harrow began. They were halfway to her car. “I don’t even know what you’re trying to say at this point.”
“Hang out with me. I’m bored. I don’t have anybody else.”
“You’re saying, hang out with me Harrow, you’re my only option?”
Gideon scratched the nape of her neck. “Well, when you put it like that—”
“Why don’t you go on Tinder and get some booby lady to take you out for a burger? I’m certain you won’t have any problems finding a candidate,” Harrow suggested, unlocking her car.
A split second of silence. Harrow’s stomach turned violently. Gideon, leaning against the hood of her car—stopped short, and looked at her. Really looked at her.
Then Gideon said, “Are you still thinking about what happened at graduation?”
Harrow’s face burned.
“You are,” Gideon murmured. Her suspicion dissipated to awe. “That’s why you’re avoiding me. Because you kissed me after graduation, and then ran. And now you have no idea how to handle yourself when I’m around.”
“You’re so self-absorbed!” Harrow snarled. “Handle myself—I—you—you think I’d avoid you over something as trivial as that?”
“You know I’m right,” Gideon said, her golden eyes were frazzled, edging on incredulous. “You kept dodging because you were afraid that the minute you saw me, you’d want to start pulling my clothes off.”
Harrow tangled her fingers into Gideon’s shirt front, and dragged the woman down to her height.
“Understand me, Griddle. I avoided you because you irritate the living shit out of me.”
Gideon smiled, craning her neck further down so that Harrow was only inches away from that triumphant, languid smirk.
“So you were avoiding me.”
Somehow they ended up in the driver’s seat of Harrow’s car.
Harrow in Gideon’s lap, and Gideon’s hand down the front of her trousers, curling her fingers up into the slickness between Harrow’s legs. Their lips met violently, parting in a mess of flustered wet chaos. Her tongue was in Gideon’s mouth, and it was nothing like their first kiss, which had been chaste, and barely there, and abruptly ended by Harrow running the fuck away.
Now, here she was, grinding hard into Gideon Nav’s fingers, coming apart in Gideon Nav’s lap. Harrow smacked her head against the ceiling of her car as she came, crying out in a mixture of both pain and relief. Mostly pain.
“You’re such a clutz,” Gideon laughed.
“Shut up,” Harrow gasped. “Ow.”
Gideon lifted the hand she’d been working inside Harrow, tucking away errant black tresses from her face. Harrow tilted her cheek into Nav’s touch, nipping at her fingers before taking them into her mouth. Gideon let out a groan like she was absolutely, one-hundred percent sick of Harrow’s shit.
Still, she didn’t protest when Harrow slid her own hand into Gideon’s ridiculous shorts and found her dripping. The angle was strange, hard on the wrist, with Harrow still straddling Gideon’s thighs, but the proximity made her heart leap into her throat. She could feel every flinch of Gideon’s body, every thrust up to meet her fingers. Gideon’s large hands were skating up Harrow’s thighs, soft at first, grip tightening as she got closer to the edge. Her entire body tensed, and she gasped like she’d been shot, unravelling.
Afterwards, Harrow slid off her lap, and collapsed into the passenger seat.
In the alien, post-coital quiet interrupted only by their heavy breaths, Gideon pulled the Tupperware from the floor, and started eating Harrow’s spring rolls. It was so weird and so Gideon that Harrow couldn’t even be bothered to stop her. When Griddle offered her one, she accepted it mutely.
After several long moments, Harrow suddenly said, “Do you need a lift home?”
Gideon looked surprised. Harrow couldn’t blame her.
But Gideon shook her head, gesturing out the window. There were only a handful of cars still in the parking lot, and thankfully, none of them were remotely close to Harrow’s.
“Nah, I drove,” Gideon said, pointing. “My car’s the red one. I had a meeting with some of the network producers earlier. It had just ended when I ran into you.”
“Oh.” Harrow wasn’t sure why she felt embarrassed.
Gideon whipped her head around. “Wait, were you trying to get me to go home with you?”
“No!” Harrow yelled in earnest. “Oh my god, Nav, I was trying to be nice.”
“Ohhhhhh,” Gideon nodded. “My bad, babe, my bad.”
“You’re making it so weird,” Harrow groaned, sinking her head into her hands.
“Harrow,” Gideon nudged her. “You don’t have to freak out, sweet cheeks. We’re good, I promise. I don’t expect anything from you, okay?”
“I’m not freaking out, Griddle,” Harrow insisted, freaking out.
“But,” Gideon added, because she was Gideon. “If you were interested in doing that again, I would not be opposed.” Harrow shot her a glare, and Gideon put her hands up in surrender. “Only if you’re interested! Just shoot me a text, alright?”
“Don’t hold your breath,” Harrow glared. “We’re not doing it again. I doubt we’ll even run into each other much after today.”
Of course, she was wrong.
It was a week after the swamp fiasco, on the morning post episode three launch. Harrow awoke to a flood of texts from her producer.
[Mercymorn 7:46am] Seems like you broke through. Ep 3 just hit 4M views overnight!!!
[Mercymorn 7:48am] Ep 1-2 views are growing by the minute!
[Mercymorn 7:49am] Also I’m pulling Ortus out!
[Mercymorn 7:52am] They like that new camerawoman more. Nav.
[Mercymorn 8:28am] I’m offering Gideon Nav a new contract!!!!
[Mercymorn 8:28am] As your co host!!!
[Mercymorn 8:29am] :)
“What the fuck.”
Harrow extracted her laptop from the snakepit of her bedsheets. Hands trembling, she clicked on the YouTube video, and watched the whole thing in quiet horror.
When it was done, Harrow’s nose had begun bleeding under duress.
There were other texts; Palamedes and Camilla from the night before.
[Camilla 2:34am] Forgot to mention that the waterlogged mic was working after all. My bad.
[Palamedes 4:12am] Please don’t kill me. You have to admit that the video was, both visually and sonically, very good.
A new alert blinked at the top of Harrow’s screen. She sighed through her teeth. With the tissues she’d wadded up in her nostrils, the noise sounded a lot like a whistle.
[ENG1P03 TUTORIAL BAD GINGER 9:32am] HARROW WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING.
4thfidelity 8 hours ago
does anyone else think that harrow and the camerawoman deserve their own show?
soup4brains 10 hours ago
hold on…….“SUGARLIPS” ?????????
Genusmaximus 6 hours ago
You all deserve jail time for referring to Gideon Nav simply as “the camerawoman.” She’s an absolutely brilliant Maori artist and cinematographer. Every music video she’s had a hand in making over the last year is a cinematic fucking experience. Her film with Dulcinea Rhodes got nominated for a BAFTA. I literally have no fucking clue why she works for a production like Unsolved .
View 1 reply.
destielslut 5 hours ago
i agree that gideon deserves more recognition than being “the camerawoman” but uhh what do you mean by a “production like unsolved”??! harrow, the show’s creator, is a phenomenal scholar! she focuses on the field of monstrosity and hauntings, particularly as they’re represented in film and graphic narrative. i think this is her first artistic debut, and with gideon by her side, i personally can’t wait to see what a collaboration between them will involve
bitchofetheria 4 hours ago
harrow: now i’m even more wet
gideon: that’s what she said
harrow: *outraged grunting* *splashing* *affronted lesbian noises*
View 1 reply.
pyrrhaduvet 2 hours ago
if this is all one big queerbait i’m going to eat drywall
“I don’t understand,” Harrow said.
“The viewers want Gideon,” Mercymorn told her, tapping her baby pink acrylics against the desk impatiently. “They want you and Gideon’s witty repartee, the undertones of sexual attraction, and the height difference.”
“Nonagesimus can have all those things with Ortus,” Gideon said.
Harrow made a noise of offense. She was in the chair to Gideon’s left, both of them seated across from Mercymorn. Harrow felt vaguely like she was stuck in the principal’s office. Gideon shot her an incredulous look.
Harrow folded her hands tightly in her lap, and spoke to her rosy-haired producer.
“What Nav is trying to say is that I have a good partnership with Ortus. He’s a brilliant researcher, and his very strong belief in the supernatural is a good contrast to my skepticism. There is absolutely nothing wrong with our dynamic. The only reason the episode went viral was because I tripped into a swamp.”
“Belly-flopped, more like,” Gideon added helpfully. “Face-planted. Full on Mufasa tumbled, right into a herd of antelope—”
“Wildebeests!” Harrow snapped. “It was a herd of wildebeests!”
“Oh, chickies, please,” said Augustine, the network director. He was leaning his hip against Mercymorn’s desk, and looking at them in a way that was both patronizing and pitiful. “This isn’t about Ortus—it’s about the chemistry.” He said that part very slowly, gesturing between her and Nav. “You’ve seen the video, right? It was different from the first two episodes. It was better . You’d be an idiot to deny that.”
Harrow was no idiot.
The video was fast-paced, engaging, and, most shockingly, funny. Palamedes had opened the episode up with a flurry of night vision footage, which ended abruptly with Harrow falling over into the swamp. The shot shook with Gideon’s laughter, and then Harrow’s voice came muffled over the bruised microphone as the closed captions on screen read: I’m going to murder you in your sleep, Griddle! The intro song jumped in after that, playing in its disquieting minor key, before giving way to the seamless torrent of proper footage and shakier handheld shots. A gorgeous shot of the full moon bled into one of Gideon’s dry pans from Ortus trying to summon the dead over to Harrow’s irritated expression. Palamedes had worked graphics into the episode as Harrow’s voiceover explained the history of the bridge.
Around the ten minute mark, Harrow had to watch herself slip off the bridge and hit the water with a resounding splash. Shit , Griddle’s voice gasped from behind the camera. Harrow’s outraged shriek—even more shrill and tantrum-like than she had expected—followed, and Gideon broke into laughter.
Harrow’s mic had caught everything. Even after Gideon had leapt into the swamp camera-less, Palamedes featured the audio of parts of their exchange on a screen that displayed only their dialogue in Comic Sans. The rest of the episode was much the same as before Harrow’s fall, only that Harrow looked like an imbecile in Nav’s too-large jacket, and now Gideon’s behind-the-camera snide remarks were captured by a mic and included in the closed captioning.
It was good, Harrow knew.
She understood where Augustine was coming from. But Augustine didn’t get the whole picture.
“Nav would never want to work with me,” Harrow said.
She and Griddle could at least agree on that much.
When Harrow turned to her for a temporary alliance, Gideon was staring at her with a strange expression.
Mercymorn made a disgusted sound. The older woman was making the universal gagging gesture, her gaze flickering between the two of them.
“I’m sure you’ll be able to work out your differences,” Mercy said tiredly.
“I haven’t agreed to anything yet!” Harrow argued.
“It would seem you are under the impression that we gathered here to debate the article of your co-hostship,” Mercymorn said, her voice bright and sharp as ice. “But there’s no debate. I’m still your producer. Ortus was happily relocated to Worth It. So Harrow, if you could please stop with all this—” She gestured to all of Harrow. “—and take stock? Oh, don’t make that face.”
“You’ve got no co-host, you’re negative one in production since Judith’s leave was extended, and you’ve got about a million new fans that expect more content from the woman next to you. I won’t see this series fail all because you greedily deprived the world of Gideon Nav.”
Harrow was making a series of unhappy noises that she didn’t have complete control over.
“Who said anything about greed—”
“And you!” Her conversation with Harrow was over. Mercymorn turned to Gideon. “You’ve been mucking about this company since January, practically begging all the producers for a more permanent placement. You think I don’t understand why now?” Gideon looked positively nauseous. “Here’s your shot. Take it, or get off my network.”
Augustine made a subtle ahem. “ My network, dear.”
“We aren’t legally divorced yet, Augustine,” Mercy said, sending Harrow on yet another tailspin. “What’s yours is still mine.”
“That doesn’t even make sense in this context,” Augustine argued. Mercy shushed him.
She turned her terrible gaze on Harrow, and smiled triumphant.
“So, when will you be putting out the next episode?”
That was the brief and tragic origin story of how Harrowhark Nonagesimus ended up spending many a fine evening exploring dark, crumbling mansions alongside a belligerent, foul-mouthed, Nerf Gun-toting moron.
“We are now entering the famous Villa Montezuma,” Gideon said. She beckoned dramatically to the camera as she walked past the house’s threshold. “Follow me, Sex Pal.”
“Gideon,” Palamedes said from behind the camera. “I told you not to call me that.”
“I think it’s brilliant,” Camilla piped up. “Very smart thinking, Nav.”
“You would,” Pal grumbled at her.
“Thanks!” said Nav.
Harrow sighed, “Could we all move along?”
Gideon’s hosting style was adjacent to the Crocodile Hunter’s; she respected and feared ghosts, but also wanted very badly the chance to fight one. She liked to slink through the hallways with her holy water gun poised, dramatically scanning every angle of the room like she was on a security detail before yelling, “Clear!”
Harrow wished Gideon had an OFF button.
“Why are you like this?” Harrow demanded, stomping into the room.
Nav replied, “One day, Harrow, you might be grateful for my anti-ghost martial arts skills.”
“I certainly will not.”
“And you have the nerve to judge when you’re the freak who wants to have a slumber party in a mansion haunted by a cursed pianist.”
“It’s not haunted because ghosts are not real,” Harrow said flatly. “But I don’t doubt that Villa Montezuma is full of secrets, Griddle, and I’m going to figure them out.”
Harrow was used to being independent in these places. Between takes, Ortus had been happy leaving her to snoop around while he sat in the most well-lit areas on site, the static of the spirit box blaring as he tried to make contact with the dead.
So while Camilla and Palamedes were busy setting up the camera equipment in the main bedroom, Harrow quietly slipped out. With her flashlight, she walked through the dark halls of the villa, the quiet pad of her steps echoing back at her.
Harrow beamed her flashlight into room after darkened room, until finally, at the very end of the long hallway, a strange refraction caught her gaze. The room was dark wood from the walls to the floors, the stained glass windows throwing light back into the space in deep hues of red and blue.
Harrow was in the ballroom. A grand piano sat in the center of the room, cloaked by fabric. The records claimed that Jesse Shepard had died at that piano, the last notes of his song ringing out as he remained slumped over the keys.
Harrow’s heart gave a twinge. Not for Shepard—but for another piano, elsewhere in a different room, gone untouched for years now.
With a slight tremble in her hands, Harrow pulled the cloak away from the instrument. The fabric fell to the floor with a velvet hiss, revealing the gleaming black and ivory keys. The shadow of a song played in the shell of Harrow’s ear, desire rising up in her like a revving engine.
She reached out with her right hand, fingers working the familiar tune from memory. The notes reverberated in clear, bright decibels.
A floorboard creaked.
Gideon was standing in the doorway, watching Harrow with a wrinkled brow.
“I didn’t know you played.”
Harrow scowled. “What do you want, Nav?”
“I wanted to make sure you were okay,” Nav said, before quickly adding, “And not, like, possessed by spirits or anything. Also, you do know we’re supposed to film the exploration of the house, right?”
“Film it then,” Harrow snapped, nodding to the camera hanging off Gideon’s shoulder. “I usually go off on my own between takes. Everyone on the crew is used to it, so you don’t have to follow me around.”
Gideon was shaking her head as she brought the camera in front of her, crossing the distance to Harrow. The red RECORDING light flickered on.
“Rolling,” Nav said. She settled the lens on Harrow’s displeased expression and continued, “Hello, Gideon here. I looked away for ten seconds, and this loser just disappeared. And here she was the whole time; standing in the room with the highest paranormal activity in the whole house. What if something happened to you, hm?”
“What, like a demonic presence slithering into my body?”
“Don’t say shit like that!” Griddle complained. “You’re going to tempt it into possessing you.”
Harrow raised an eyebrow. In her most benign voice—the one she knew used to unnerve Gideon when they were in college—she asked, “How do you know that it hasn’t already?”
Unphased, Gideon said, “Because if a demon was trying to kill you, Harrow, you’d put up much more of a fight.”
It was a strange compliment, and it made Harrow’s entire neck feel hot.
“Shut up,” she muttered.
Gideon continued, “And what I actually meant was—what if something collapsed on you? What if you fell down the stairs? Given your track record of falling into swamps—”
“That was one time.”
“—and to be clear, Nonagesimus, I do believe in spirits and demons. And I do believe that some of them can kill us.”
“I have no reason to believe what I’ve never seen. Have you ever made contact with a ghost, Nav?”
“Couple times,” Gideon shrugged. “Mostly ancestors, so those ones don’t frighten me. Yours don’t drop in to chat?”
“No,” Harrow snapped. “But now I feel like an asshole telling you that ghosts aren’t real when you start talking about your ancestors.”
“Fret not, honeybun.” Gideon shook her red hair out of her eyes, belligerent. “I’m not totally sold on your whole skepticism thing.”
“Well,” Harrow said, ignoring the nickname. She turned to the rest of the room, clearing her throat politely before addressing the empty air. “Ghosts, if you’re real, give us a sign. Make a noise. Move something. Send a shiver down our backs. Whisper softly into Nav’s left ear—”
“I seriously fucking hate you.”
“Answer me, spirits!” Harrow continued, her voice lifting. “This is your chance. Hurt me, kill me, throw me across the room and eat my heart—”
“Fuck me sideways, Harrow,” Gideon was laughing a touch hysterically. “You’re out of your mind.”
“Use my body as a vessel for your bidding. Employ my mortal coil for violence, and we can silence the tall girl forever.”
“I’m literally going to—”
Gideon froze. The arm holding the camera went stiff with tension. Gideon slinked closer to her, practically vibrating with alertness, and Harrow backed up into the piano.
“Have you ever heard of personal space?” Harrow snarled.
“Have you ever heard of demonic possession?” Gideon shot back. Harrow sighed loudly and Gideon freaked out even more. “Shush! Shush. Did you hear that?”
“I don’t hear anything,” Harrow said.
“I heard footsteps,” Gideon argued. “Take the camera.”
A figure shifted in the doorway.
Gideon loudly announced, “Don’t try, demon!”
It all happened very quickly. Gideon stepped in front of Harrow, sliding her Nerf gun out from her belt loop in a move that was so efficient that she must’ve practiced it all day in a mirror. A sprinkle of water escaped from the nozzle of her water gun and spilled onto the floor.
The woman stepped into the ballroom, staring unperturbed down the plastic barrel of Gideon’s water gun. Harrow stepped out from behind Gideon, capturing their sound technician on film.
“Good job, Nav,” Harrow said. “You’ve found a ghost. We can all pack it up and go home now.”
Camilla raised an eyebrow at the two of them.
“Am I interrupting something?”
“So,” Gideon said, after Camilla and Palamedes left for the evening. “You seem surprisingly okay with this whole one bed situation.”
Harrow looked up from her book. “What’s your point?”
They might’ve loathed each other, but Gideon was still Gideon.
Next to Camilla, Harrow might have slept stiff as a board all night. Palamedes would’ve slept on the floor, and Harrow still would have been self-conscious about talking, or passing gas in her sleep, or something equally ridiculous. With Gideon—if Harrow stunk up the room with a fart, then Gideon would simply deserve it. She’d probably even fart right back at her.
“Nothing,” Griddle answered, raising her hands up in surrender. “Just an observation.”
Ruffled, Harrow said, “You can take the floor, if you’d like. Or the bathtub.”
“No thanks,” Gideon said. “I’m definitely more vulnerable to demon attacks in the bathtub. And if I sleep on the floor, I’m bound to open my eyes in the middle of the night and see a grotesque face staring at me from beneath the bed.”
It was nearly midnight. Harrow was tucked comfortably in her sleeping bag, spread out on one side of the late Jesse Shepard’s mattress. She had a book in hand, a small clip-on reading light illuminating the pages. On Harrow’s right, Gideon’s sleeping bag was empty, its owner pacing anxiously around the cameras set up a few feet from the bed. From beneath her lashes, Harrow watched Gideon pull clothes from her pack and stand there awkwardly, clutching the white tank top and sweats.
“Are you going to sleep in your flannel?” Harrow asked. She herself had taken her sweet time in Shepard’s very ornate bathroom, changing into her comfiest pair of sweats and a college sweater.
“Nope,” Griddle said.
“You’re afraid of going into the bathroom alone, aren’t you.”
“Yop,” Griddle replied. As if to say fuck it, Gideon began unbuttoning her top, right there at Harrow’s feet.
Harrow stammered, “The camera’s rolling, Nav!”
“So concerned with my modesty,” Gideon winked at her. Harrow seethed.
Then Gideon was moving into the far corner of the bedroom, behind the camera’s gaze. Only her back was visible to Harrow as she pulled off her flannel, revealing the vast brown stretch of her shoulders, a spattering of freckles. A sword was etched in black ink down the back of Nav’s right bicep—this gave Harrow pause.
She’d seen those bare arms plenty in college, since Nav’s favourite outfit consisted of whatever best showed off her muscles. But the tattoo was recent, likely done within the previous year when Harrow was in grad school, and she’d only heard about Nav’s going-ons from her socials. Gideon was pulling off her sports bra now, the strong lines in her back tightening, dripping pools of shadows across her skin.
Harrow turned sharply back to her book.
After several more moments of hearing Griddle strip, soft footsteps gained towards the bed. The mattress dipped as Gideon stretched out on top of her sleeping bag, lined up next to Harrow’s. Her white tank top revealed an appalling measure of sideboob, and Harrow tried very hard to focus on her literature.
“What are you going to do if you need to use the bathroom?” Harrow asked her, attentively turning the page of her book.
“I’m gonna make you stand in there with your eyes shut while I go, obviously,” Griddle said.
“I’m not doing that,” Harrow responded. She glanced over and saw that Nav was laying on her side, cheek resting in her palm as she watched Harrow.
“What if you stand directly on the other side of the door and don’t stop talking the whole time I pee?”
“You’re actually nervous,” Harrow observed. She put her book down. “Nav, there’s nothing here except us.”
Gideon shook her head, slightly awed. “You’re so….you can’t feel the strangeness of this place?”
“The only thing I’m feeling is tired,” Harrow said. “Can you turn off the lantern?”
Gideon reached over to the night stand, flicking off the electric lantern that had been dimly illuminating the room. The darkness settled upon them. Harrow thought it was heavy, comforting. Griddle let out a string of curses.
“Off record, Harrow, tell me something—”
“We’re literally on record right now, idiot. The camera’s going to be rolling all night.”
“We can edit this part out,” Gideon insisted. “Answer me seriously.”
Gideon said, her breath warm against Harrow’s face, “Why create this show? Why devote so much of your work to the study of haunting if you don’t think ghosts are real?
Harrow swallowed. Gideon waited. Forever might have passed between them, curled up without touching on some dead guy’s abandoned bed.
Finally, she managed, “Isn’t it obvious, Nav? I want more than anything to be proven wrong.”
It might have been a dream that two hours later, Harrow found herself tiptoeing into the ballroom. The piano was as it had been earlier, the cloak still crumpled on the ground, the keys shining. Tiredly, Harrowhark sat on the velvet bench, in her pajamas, with her rumpled hair.
And she played.
Gideon shuffled in eventually, bathed in moonlight, half-asleep and calling her name. Harrow didn’t know how much time passed. Gideon looked at her, and when Harrow continued to play, she simply settled down next to her on the piano bench.
When it was over and Harrow’s hands finally fell away from the keys, Gideon looked into the raw, evening-soft contours of her face and whispered, “Let’s go back to bed.”
They did. Harrow slept, and the next morning, they didn’t speak of it.
andjesuswept 6 hours ago
Ghost evidence fake, gay tension real
boobs_69_420 7 hours ago
THANK YOU for talking about jesse shepard’s queerness! harrow’s research is impeccable. i’ve seen/read so many paranormal investigative pieces about villa montezuma but all of them ignore the fact that jesse was so absolutely, obviously gay and in love with lawrence tonner, so THANK YOU. also...gideon nav if you’re reading this i am free on Friday night if you would like to hang out i am free on friday night when i am free to hang out
brielarsonsbackmuscles 3 hours ago
Dead serious here…are we certain Harrow isn’t a demon?
4thfidelity 9 hours ago
harrow going completely unhinged and telling a demon to eat her heart was big dick energy
View 1 reply.
Unsolved! 1 hour ago
I think the more appropriate adjective would be batshit. - Gideon
View 1 reply.
Unsolved! 30 minutes ago
Shut up, Griddle! - Harrowhark
“Who even gave you access to the socials?” Harrow demanded.
“Sex Pal,” Gideon replied, her voice muffled against Harrow’s tits. “He said you Tweet like his grandmother.”
Gideon was on her knees, kissing down, down, down. Harrow’s entire body was set trembling. She was supporting her weight on her elbows, sprawled out on the table in one of Dominicus’ many meeting rooms while Gideon worked over her.
“If Palamedes had an issue with my social media engagement, he should have told me to my—Griddle!”
Gideon was licking experimentally around Harrow’s clit.
A pair of black stockings were bunched up on the table next to Harrow, her Doc Martens flung on the floor, and her underwear hanging around an ankle, which was hanging over Gideon’s shoulder. Gideon pulled her head out from beneath the fabric of Harrow’s pleated skirt, her hair a mess, cheeks flushed. She seemed entirely too happy with Harrow’s thighs boxed around her ears.
“Was that a bad Griddle, or a don’t stop Griddle?”
“Don’t stop,” Harrow huffed, and Gideon smiled broadly before putting her mouth back to work.
It was the third or fourth time they’d hooked up, maybe.
It always happened at work. That seemed to be an inviolable rule for the two of them—no taking the other home. Which was convenient for Harrow at least, since she was at Dominicus more often than her own place.
It always happened after several hours of editing footage or recording audio, or researching for future episodes. Across the table from her, Gideon would inevitably say something suggestive because she was perverted like that, and Harrow would fume silently until they had the chance to excuse themselves.
Gideon always put her through absolute hell.
She was doing it again now. Spreading her labia with her fingers, tongue flat against Harrow’s clit and frustratingly still, forcing Harrow to grind desperately against her mouth.
“Nav,” Harrow said, gripping the edge of the table. “Use. Your. Fingers—”
“I am,” Gideon teased. She ghosted a finger over Harrow’s entrance, and her entire body bucked.
“Gideon!” Harrow snarled.
“Okay, okay.” The heat of Gideon’s mouth left her briefly. Harrow could feel a small nip at her inner thigh before Griddle finally relented, sinking two long fingers inside her. “Better?”
“Mmf,” Harrow said, thrusting her hips into Gideon’s slow fuck. She dropped her head back against the table, feeling more so than hearing Griddle laugh against her.
Harrow could feel herself getting closer. She didn’t know what gave her away, but Gideon always seemed to know when she was about to come. She tugged Harrow by her thighs, pulling her further off the edge of the table with a roughness that sent a shudder down her spine, a pool of wetness that soaked Gideon’s chin.
“Griddle,” Harrow gasped, cresting.
“I know, I know.”
Gideon curled her fingers once more, and Harrow was gone.
“Someone’s been texting you like crazy,” Gideon said afterwards, nodding to Harrow’s tote bag on the floor.
They were sitting at the edge of the table, Harrow with her feet dangling, pulling on her shoes. Gideon reached over and passed her the device, which was indeed still vibrating with alerts.
“Who is it?”
Harrow automatically tilted her phone so that her Gideon could read alongside her. There was a moment, with Gideon’s chin hovering over her shoulder, and her thumb rubbing absently at the new run at the knee of Harrow’s black stockings, that felt painfully more intimate than sex. Harrow’s breath caught, and she blinked at Gideon’s closeness. But Gideon was busy staring at her phone.
“Damn, Harrow. You look like you’re in troouuuble.”
[Mercymorn 2:22pm] 12 million views in two days! Very impressive!
[Mercymorn 2:24pm] Good news: we’re renewing Unsolved for a second season!
[Mercymorn 2:25pm] Tell the crew to check their emails for contract renewals!
[Mercymorn 2:32pm] Also, there will be a staff party on Friday! You are expected there as guests of honour! Dress well!
[Mercymorn 3:00pm] Tell your co-host: SHIRT-SLEEVES ARE MANDATORY!!!
“Shirt sleeves,” Gideon murmured. “Is she talking about me?”
“Of course she means you, moron—but—” Harrow startled. She reread the text message. “Gideon, we got renewed.” Harrow grabbed Gideon’s arm, and shook it wildly. “We got fucking renewed!”
Harrow couldn’t help it. The smile cracked across her face like lightning, and she turned its brightness to Gideon, whose eyes had gone very soft.
“Congrats, sweet thing. You did it.”
“It was a team effort,” Harrow corrected matter-of-factly.
Gideon’s answering smile was brighter than a blue sky.
They were filming for episode five, and Harrow was sweating.
At no point of researching the Augustine lighthouse and its hauntings did Harrow take in that they would actually have to walk up the hundreds of winding, wooden stairs, rising up around them like a curling snake as they stood at the bottom step.
Palamedes, who was usually pretty quiet behind the camera, let out a groan.
“It’s only been six steps,” Camilla said to him.
“It’s been at least fifteen,” Palamedes hissed. He must’ve looked back, because Harrow heard him mutter, “Shit.”
“Maybe next time, Harrow,” he started. “We can avoid locations of such significant vertical nature.”
“I’ll remember that,” Harrow nodded, trying not to wheeze as much as he was.
Griddle, on the other hand, should’ve been having the time of her life.
Unlike the rest of them, she was conveniently dressed in athleisure, because according to her, you never know when life is gonna hand you a work-out, right Harrow?, wink wink, disgusting things, et cetera. More importantly, Gideon was built.
The minute she had seen all the stairs, Harrow thought for sure that the entire episode would devolve into the Gideon Nav’s Powerful Legs Show. So the fact that Gideon looked like she was about to be sick, and hadn’t stopped shaking her head for ten whole minutes, was slightly concerning.
“Oh, no,” Griddle was saying. “Oh fuck no. This one sucks. This one is fucking haunted.”
“Nav, you think every site is haunted,” Harrow said. “And you still went into Jesse Shepard’s house with your dumb water gun blazing. Where’s all that cavalier attitude now?”
Griddle stopped ascending the steps and looked at her.
“You don’t feel it?”
Harrow forced herself to climb several more stairs so they were eye-level.
A touch out of breath, she demanded, “Feel what?”
“The vibes,” Gideon insisted. “The vibes are mega bad.”
“I don’t feel anything,” Harrow shrugged. She crossed her arms. “But it would make sense. Several little girls died here, maybe seventy years ago.”
“Aw fuck,” Gideon moaned. “Aw shit. Okay, let’s do this as fast as possible.”
About two-thirds the way up, they had to stop. Harrow stared ahead of them, at the sign that read UNSTABLE ARCHITECTURE AHEAD DO NOT CONTINUE UPSTAIRS and below that, in smaller print LOOKOUT UNSAFE FOR USE.
“Ooh, would you look at that,” Gideon said, so cheerfully that Harrow suspected she had somehow put the sign there herself. “Guess we can’t go any further. What a terrible shame.”
They made do. With Camilla’s help, Palamedes set up the tripod, and Harrow went briefly into the tragic events that had occurred at the lighthouse. They brought out the spirit box, and Gideon broke into a slew of curses every time the device spat out word-shaped static. Harrow waited, watching Gideon go through a series of horrifying revelations. After several long minutes, Gideon turned the machine off.
“This place is haunted as shit,” she concluded.
“Mmhm,” Harrow said, noncommittal. She gnawed on her lip, gazing up at the remaining flight of stairs that led to the lighthouse’s lookout. “Maybe I could just—”
“No.” That came from all three of her companions.
Harrow mashed her lips together frustratedly.
Oh, she was getting onto that lookout.
“Well, guess it’s time for your solo exploration, Griddle.”
Gideon glared at her. “This is your worst idea yet, Nonagesimus.”
“It’s a new segment,” Harrow explained to the camera. They were set up outside, filming Harrow with the lighthouse in the background. “Ghosts might be more inclined to speak to a person when they’re alone, so we agreed to do fifteen minutes each of exploring our sites solo. Honestly, I just wanted time to wander around without Griddle screeching in my ear.”
“Do you think she’ll see a ghost?” Palamedes asked.
Harrow looked back at the lighthouse. There wasn’t any screaming, so Gideon was probably okay. Probably. Harrow shrugged.
“I think she’ll see something,” Harrow said. “Nav believes in this stuff, so if she stares into the dark long enough, she’ll convince herself that there’s something there. Her mind is her worst enemy.”
At that moment, the lighthouse exit flew open, and the raucous shriek of the spirit box spilled out into the night. Harrow turned, surprised by the commotion, as Gideon did a full sprint out the door.
“Holy fucking shit,” Griddle was yelling.
She plowed right into Harrow, who yelped. Their camera lights lit up Gideon’s face—wan and shining with sweat. Even her red hair was damp. Harrow was all but thrusted backwards in the riptide of Gideon’s panic, her small hands gripping instinctively at the taller girl’s arms to stop her before she could run them both into the camera. Even Palamedes and Cam looked unnerved.
“Fuck,” Gideon said. Her feet stuttered to a stop. For a horrific moment, Harrow actually thought Gideon was going to faint. A sick, dreadful feeling gripped every nerve in Harrow’s body, her fingers tightening against the girl’s slick skin.
“Griddle,” she choked. “You’re freaking me out. Say something.”
“I heard her,” Gideon murmured. “I was using the spirit box, and—” As if remembering it, Gideon turned the device off. Quiet fell, punctured only by their heavy breaths. “I asked who was there with me, and it said, clear as fucking day ‘Eliza,’ and when I asked how she died, she said she fell. And that’s right, isn’t it, Harrow? She fell?” Gideon leaned into her slightly. She was so big compared to Harrow, and her panic was everywhere. A trembling mountain beneath Harrow’s hands. “I was hauling ass out of there and she asked why I was leaving, and I said because I was scared, and I swear, Harrow, the room got colder, and I felt this absolutely godawful sorrow—”
“I’m going in there,” Harrow said, her voice resolute, her mind already walking through the door. “Give me the box.”
“Harrow, don’t,” Gideon said, tightening her hand around the spirit box.
“I want to,” Harrow insisted, and tugged it from her. “Maybe today’s the day that the skeptic in me dies.”
“Could you not phrase it like that?”
“Go sit down, Nav.” Harrow stroked her hand up Gideon’s arm. “I’ll be back in fifteen.”
As Harrow ascended the steps up into the lighthouse, her hand clenched, and she belatedly realized what she’d done.
What the fuck, Harrow thought to herself.
The UNSTABLE ARCHITECTURE sign glared at Harrow.
“Okay, ghosts,” Harrow said, glaring back at it. “Just you and me.” She flicked on the spirit box, holding the camera out to film herself. “I’m Harrow, and I would really love to have a chat,” Harrow waited, feeling ridiculous.
“You really scared the shit out of my co-host,” Harrow continued. “You know the tall girl who just ran out of here like a baby? She said she’d spoken to an Eliza. Is there an Eliza here?”
The static burbled. Harrow scoffed, thinking she’d misheard.
“Say that again?”
“Ginger,” the static replied.
Harrow laughed out loud. She turned to the camera and said, “I swear it just said ginger, Nav. For a contraption of pseudoscience, that was pretty damn good. Can you say my name, Eliza?”
A loud bang sounded from above.
Harrow glanced slowly upwards, and then over to the UNSTABLE ARCHITECTURE sign. She turned to the camera last.
“I’m going up to the top,” she said.
“Leave,” the static said.
“You’ll have to do better than that,” Harrow said. She ducked under the sign, and the static went wild, blurting out unintelligible chatter. “I’m not sure if I’m legally allowed to do this. Might have to edit this bit out later, Palamedes.”
“Ginger,” said the spirit box.
“Yes, I heard you,” Harrow said, carefully climbing up the stairs. “You like Griddle better—get in line.”
There was a step with an enormous crack tearing across its middle. Harrow found this rather anticlimactic, leaping over it and onto the next stair.
“Don’t,” the spirit box said.
“Why won’t you show yourself?” Harrow challenged, breathing hard. “Why won’t you speak to me in more than one word?”
“I’m going to the lookout,” Harrow said. “I dare you to stop me.”
Nothing but Harrow’s panting, and the mechanical blare of the spirit box.
“Haunt me, Eliza,” Harrow taunted. “I am begging you to haunt me.”
Harrow was sure by this point the viewers at home would be convinced that she had fully lost her mind. She was talking to the wind. She was conversing with garbled static influenced by a thousand factors and none of them involved the departed. But a part of her wanted—a part of her hoped. The entrance to the lookout was in sight, and the mumbling from the spirit box was silent.
Harrow stepped out onto the lookout and realized why it was off-limits. The rails were coming apart, completely lacking in places as if someone had started construction on them but forgot to continue. Harrow shone her flashlight out into the night, the sea loud in her ears.
“Talk to me,” Harrow murmured.
The static, the box, the dead—all quiet.
“HARROW?” A voice yelled. Shit.
She shone her flashlight down, where it barely lit up the bottom. But she could see Nav there, with Palamedes and Cam, their film lights bright against the nightscape.
“HARROW, I SEE YOUR FLASHLIGHT. GET THE FUCK DOWN FROM THERE!”
It was Gideon. Gideon, yelling so loud that it shattered the wind. So loud that Harrow was sure she would burst a lung.
“I’m going!” Harrow yelled back. She wondered if they could hear her.
“One more chance,” she told the spirit box. “Eliza, are you there?” Harrow waited for three long minutes, standing with her back pressed to the cold wet stone of the lighthouse. The static made static-like noises, because it was static. “Of course you’re not.”
“HARROW, I’M COMING UP!”
“Ugh!” Harrow turned, shutting off the ridiculous box, and sliding the camera into its bag. Clambering back down the stairs, she could hear Gideon at the bottom with her big combat boots, cursing Harrow with the most colourful of language. “I’m coming, Nav, calm your—”
Harrow had forgotten about the broken step.
It cracked out completely under her weight, and Harrow let out a gasp as she lost her balance.
For one terrifying second, Harrow thought that she was going to go straight down through the gap. A forty foot drop.
But instead, she landed brutally hard on her ass on the step below, and tumbled a little further down the stairs before coming to a stop, arms flung out to grab the railing.
Harrow’s mind emptied for half a second, before bouncing back.
She was fine. Harrow was fine.
Breathing hard, she glanced back and got a good look at it—the entire step was gone now.
“I’m okay!” Harrow said. Harrow sounded terribly frightened, even to her own ears. A current of pain burned up her back as she got up. Her hair was sticking to her face. She was sweating through her grey shirt. Not a good look. “I’m alright.”
She hurried down the rest of the steps, trembling. Gideon surged up, meeting her halfway.
“That was the stupidest thing you’ve ever done,” Griddle snarled.
Harrow looked at her, and took pause.
Gideon said rude shit all the time but—she was truly angry now. She was glaring up at Harrow, three steps below, and her gaze was full of loathing.
“And you—” A crack of fear appeared in Gideon’s rage, and she reached up towards her hesitantly. “Harrow, you’re fucking bleeding.”
“I get nosebleeds sometimes,” Harrow said, dodging the touch.
Harrow felt rubbed raw and embarrassed. She continued down the steps, limping past Gideon like she wasn’t even there. She felt around at her nose, but the gush had already stopped, leaving her with the gross collateral. Harrow hadn’t even felt it start.
“You get nosebleeds sometimes,” Gideon parroted incredulously from behind her. She heard the loud banging of Gideon’s footsteps, and a hand caught hers. “Harrow, fucking stop! Look at me!”
Harrow turned to look at her, jaw clenched.
Gideon said, “You knew it wasn’t safe to go up there.”
“I thought I heard Eliza too,” Harrow argued. “I tried provoking her into showing herself.”
“Oh, fuck Eliza!” Gideon yelled. “Harrow, you don’t run up a broken flight of stairs to provoke a ghost! You don’t go wandering out onto a lookout that doesn’t have rails! What if you fell?”
“You’re so reckless, you’ve always been,” Gideon said. “And for what? What do you hope to gain?” Harrow opened her mouth to tell her to shut up, but Gideon cut her off like a blade to the neck, her eyes shining with wounded fury. “Do you ever stop to consider how others would feel if you got hurt? If you died?”
“Do you even care? Do you ever think about what it would be like for all the people at your funeral, trying to figure out how they’re going to live the rest of their lives without you in it?
Gideon snarled, “You pull something like that one more time, and I’m done. I’ll quit, and I swear to God, you’ll never hear from me again.”
There was a long pause.
Harrow’s chest hurt.
Gideon’s face fell open in surprise, her eyes widening.
She uttered, “I don’t know why I said that.”
Harrow tugged at either side of her own wound, splitting herself apart.
“Fuck you!” Harrow yelled. “If you want to leave, go! I’ve got nothing to hold you here, Nav!”
She was a swarm of birds. She was two cars colliding at an intersection. She was the ambulance siren, and the bystander, and the screaming child.
“And there won’t be anyone at my funeral, Gideon, because everyone who loves me is dead.” Harrow’s voice cracked. “My grandmother is dead. Both my parents are dead. I killed them. It was my fault, and now they won’t even haunt me!”
The words burned on their way out. The exit wound was vicious, gaping, leaving Harrow empty. Gideon was saying something, but Harrow pushed past her, eyes smarting at the pain in her back.
“Filming is done for today,” Harrow said.
Harrow flung open the lighthouse door, and Camilla and Palamedes were both standing there staring at her, their hands full of camera equipment.
The walls of the lighthouse made everything echo. No doubt they’d heard every word.
“We’re leaving,” Harrow repeated to them anyway.
Palamedes tried to stop her, “Harrow, your nose—”
“I am fine!” Harrow shrieked. Palamedes was stunned into silence.
Camilla laid a comforting hand on his shoulder. With knife sharp envy, Harrow watched him lean back into that palm without hesitation.
Harrow raced for the van.
Behind her, Gideon stumbled out of the lighthouse. “Harrow!”
“Gideon, let her go,” Camilla said softly.
Harrow collapsed into the very last row of the van, and closed her eyes, and counted her breaths like her therapist had taught her a very long time ago.
Damn them for only bringing the one vehicle.
Fifteen minutes later, when the car doors opened again, her companions piled in and didn’t say a word.
They drove home in silence.
Posted by u/gaytimelord 1 week ago
I don’t believe in ghosts, but I am absolutely nuts for Griddlehark. They move around each other way too intimately to have just started working together two episodes ago. There’s got to be a history there. Thoughts?
leftbeef 6 days ago
I’m 80% sure that Harrow and Gideon are exes. Firstly, the nicknames seem to go far back. The whole “Griddle” thing is ADORABLE but “sugarlips”? Come on now. Secondly, the enormous jacket that Harrow has on at the end of S3; I suspect it’s Gideon’s. Harrow kept burying her head in the collar and sniffing it. Yes, we see you, Harrowhark, you’re not that subtle. Lastly, the irritated looks that Harrow always gives Gideon belong to a woman who has suffered her bad jokes for at least several years. (My favourite Harrow glares include: 5:12, 5:45, 6:32, 13:44, 14:00, 14:24 from E3).
veela 6 days ago
I thought Gideon was dating Dulcinea Rhodes?? Or was that just people shipping them after their BAFTA red carpet pics went viral?
pantsfullofbees 4 days ago
Gideon and Harrow went to the same art college. They graduated in the same cohort and film program so it makes sense that they would know each other.
VIEW ENTIRE DISCUSSION (107 COMMENTS)
[ENG1P03 TUTORIAL BAD GINGER 4:44am] i’m so sorry, harrow. please give me a call.
[ENG1P03 TUTORIAL BAD GINGER 5:00am] whenever you’re ready.
[ENG1P03 TUTORIAL BAD GINGER 5:12am] you don’t have to respond but use an ice pack on your lower back, naproxen for pain.
Harrow was hiding in the network’s photocopy room.
She had already done her part at Augustine’s party; fifteen minutes on the back patio with all her colleagues, Augustine raising a toast to their newfound success, and the slow, nauseous roll of Harrow’s stomach when she accidentally caught Gideon’s eye from across the room.
For a fleeting, destructive second, Harrow held her gaze.
Gideon had started to open her mouth, like she was going to cut off Augustine’s motivational speech with a flood of apologies.
Harrow booked it.
Now her heeled boots were kicked off into the room’s corner, and Harrow was laying across the carpeted floor. The universe offered her an hour of gorgeous solitude before it sent her reckoning.
Camilla Hect stood in the doorway, in a tight grey dress and stilettos. Harrow sat up immediately, both attracted and terrified.
“You’re being a ginormous piss baby,” Camilla said, and Harrow’s minute awe died.
“Is that all you came here to tell me?” Harrow demanded.
“Go talk to her,” Cam insisted. They both knew who the her in question was. “She feels terrible. In my opinion, the only thing she should apologize for is threatening to leave if you kept acting recklessly. That was kind of a low blow, and also the biggest lie I’ve ever heard.”
“I can’t,” Harrow said, her voice strained. “I fuck everything up. I’ll only hurt her.”
“You’re already hurting her.”
“I don’t know how to do this!” Harrow exclaimed. “We were just—it’s been good, we’ve been good, and then I properly fucked it up, and I can’t—I’m going to destroy us and you don’t understand, Cam. She’s—Gideon—our friendship, it’s too tenuous to risk.”
“Clearly, you’ve got issues—”
“Shut up, Harrow, I’m not done.” Cam gazed down at her, brows just a little bit furrowed. When she spoke again, her voice was low and unsentimental. “Whatever’s going on between you and Gideon? It’s far from tenuous. Anyone with a brain could see that you guys are clearly on some weird, red-string, past-life bond shit, even if you’re too scared to admit it. If you care about the friendship, pussy up and fight for it.”
Harrow stared at her, unblinking. Then Camilla added, “Do you even know how much we all care about your grumpy ass? Not just Gideon—the whole team. Even Ortus. You’re stuck with us, Nonagesmius. You’ve got us.”
“Are we clear?” Camilla said.
“Yes, ma’am,” Harrow said weakly.
Cam bobbed her head once in gruff agreement, satisfied, and held out her hand to Harrow. Harrow grabbed it, allowing Camilla to haul her to her feet.
“Go find Gideon,” Cam said. “Make sure she hasn’t gotten herself trapped in a broom closet. Actually, wait.”
“What are you—”
Camilla leaned down and picked a piece of lint from Harrow’s corduroy dress. She reached up and adjusted the fabric of the white turtleneck beneath it. It took Harrow a moment to realize that Cam was fussing over her.
“Okay, better.” Cam nodded her approval. “Now go.”
"Cam?" Harrow wrapped her arms around herself, and awkwardly murmured, “You’ve got me too.”
“Yeah, nerd, I know,” the woman responded, her cheek slightly lifted. “Now quit stalling.”
Harrow smiled back at her and started down the hallway.
“Your shoes!” Cam called after her.
“I’ll grab them later!”
Gideon had absolutely gotten trapped in a broom closet. At least Harrow figured she must have because the red-haired girl was nowhere to be found.
She spent the better half of an hour Griddle-hunting. Everyone she asked had directed her to a different area of the building, saying they’d seen Gideon facing off against her colleagues in a round of beer pong, or flip cup, or another game that somehow involved whipped cream. Harrow found herself standing barefoot and alone in a hallway.
Perhaps Nav had left?
What if she had driven home drunk?
Harrow pulled out her phone.
TO: [ENG1P03 TUTORIAL BAD GINGER 10:42pm] Griddle, are you still at the party?
Her phone rang almost immediately. Harrow yelped in shock before accepting the call.
“Not Gideon, but she’s here with me,” said a chipper, feminine voice. For a moment, Harrow’s entire world screeched to a stop. Then the voice on the other end said, “This is...ah, the gremlin work wife?”
She frowned. “No this is Harrow.”
“Oh Harrow!” exclaimed the lady on the other end of the phone. The phone muffled, and Harrow heard her say, “Gideon, your Harrow is coming to pick you up!” She spoke to Harrow again, “She’s been talking about you. I was trying to help her find your name in her phone but, well—never mind. We’re on the roof patio!”
“I’ll be right there,” Harrow said and hung up.
When Harrow arrived on the rooftop of the Dominicus offices, she observed what seemed to be the network’s middle-aged mom club convened around the patio couches. Middle-aged moms and one very drunk Gideon Nav.
Harrow’s body propelled itself to Griddle’s side.
Gideon didn’t seem to notice her as Harrow laid a hesitant hand on her shoulder. She was slumped down on one of the couches with her head in her hands, elbows resting on her knees. There was a bookish-looking lady in glasses gently patting her back.
“Griddle,” Harrow hissed, pulling the girl closer to her.
“You must be Harrowhark!” said the back-patter. “Big fan of the show. I’m Abigail Pent, head of data science here at Dominicus. Gideon offered to help carry some chairs up earlier, and she’s been here ever since.”
“Harrow?” Gideon murmured. She craned her neck, and set her glittering eyes upon Harrow. “Harrow, I’m so sorry—”
“I didn’t mean what I said,” Gideon murmured to her. “You need to know that. Harrow, I didn’t mean a thing.”
“Okay, Griddle,” Harrow nodded. “I know.”
Gideon looked absolutely miserable. Her hair was unkempt like she’d spent the whole night trying to ruin it. Her coppery skin was shining with sweat, beading above her upper lip. She was more doe-eyed than Harrow had ever seen her, golden irises shimmering beneath the lovely auburn lashes that framed them.
Her cheekbones were flushed, and Harrow—stupidly, unnecessarily—pressed the back of her hand against Griddle’s forehead as if she were surveying for a fever. Gideon dipped forwards into the touch, making a small, contented noise.
“My head is absolutely fucking spinning,” Gideon said, before turning apologetically to Abigail. “Sorry.”
“Oh, it’s quite alright,” Abigail brushed her off.
“How much did you drink?” Harrow demanded. “Did you drink water?”
“Uh huh,” Gideon mumbled at her. “But that was after, like, six shots of tequila? And the Jagerbombs? Also, the champagne.”
“Too loud,” Gideon said. Her head toppled forward, right into the curve between Harrow’s shoulder and neck. Harrow startled, bringing her hand to support the nape of Gideon’s neck, her fingers pressing delicately into the downy fuzz of her undercut.
“Sorry,” Harrow said. She did not know what deranged her to begin stroking Nav’s scalp in apology, but she stopped immediately when Gideon let out a horrific sigh of pleasure. “Ookay, I’m going to take you home.”
“That sounds good,” Gideon said. Harrow lugged one of her arms over her own skinny shoulders, and let out a huff at the near deadweight. It was like handling a giant, docile bear. “I call shotgun.”
“I’m going to stuff you in the trunk,” Harrow grumbled. Her lower back throbbed. She had somehow managed to forget that her whole ass was a bruise from yesterday. Gideon weakly lifted her head from Harrow’s neck to pout at her. A tremendous waste of energy. Harrow sighed. “Stop that, of course you get shotgun.”
“Do you kids need any help?” Abigail asked, watching them with amusement.
“We’ll be fine,” Harrow said quickly. She got to her feet, supporting most of Gideon’s body weight as she dragged her to standing.
Abigail observed them worriedly. Harrow suddenly realized she could afford to be less of a dick. “Thank you for taking care of her, Miss Pent.”
“Oh, don’t worry about it,” Abigail shook her head and smiled. “I can’t wait for episode five! I’ve got a bit of a paranormal sensitivity myself, you know. If you ever need a psychic, just shoot me an email!”
“She was so nice,” Gideon murmured, as Harrow wrapped an arm around her waist and started shuffling them in the direction of the elevator. “Harrow, you’re shorter than usual,” Griddle realized. She looked down and gasped. “Where are your shoes?”
“I forgot them in the photocopy room,” Harrow said, punching numbers on the elevator pad. “I’ll grab them on Monday.”
“You want to borrow mine?”
“They’ll look like clown shoes on me,” Harrow said, helping Gideon carefully into the elevator when it arrived. Standing upright seemed a challenge for Gideon, so Harrow had to pin her sloppily against the wall so she wouldn’t fall over.
“Oh shit, I’ve totally dreamt about this,” Gideon said, the misery clear in her tone.
“Nav,” Harrow said, as gently as possible. She considered letting Gideon crumple to the ground to shut her up. Harrow’s voice shook. Her heart was pounding. “Please stay quiet. You’re not in the right mind.”
“You’re being nice to me,” Gideon ignored her. “Why are you being nice to me?”
“I’m trying to atone for yesterday,” Harrow sighed. The elevator doors opened, and Harrow struggled with her loudmouthed burden once more, steering them through the lobby. “I’m trying to be good.”
“You don’t have to be good,” Nav mumbled. Her voice rose as Harrow dragged her wasted ass out towards her car. “You don’t have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through desert repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.”
Astonished, Harrow said, “You’re piss drunk, and you’re quoting Mary Oliver at me.”
“What can I say, sugarlips? I’m a catch. Want some more?”
“No.” Harrow opened the passenger door and sat Nav down. “I thought I told you to stay quiet.” She did up her seatbelt, and pulled a water bottle from the back seat and put it between Gideon’s palms.
Griddle sipped at the water bottle, and Harrow slid her key into the ignition, thinking she was in the clear of any more of Nav’s ridiculous dictation.
But Gideon, because she enjoyed putting a flare on her disobedience, recited, “Tongue breaks and thin fire is racing under skin, and in eyes no sight and drumming fills ears, and cold sweat holds me and shaking grips me all, greener than grass I am, and dead—or almost.”
“Ugh, not that one!”
She could feel Gideon staring at her. “You remember.”
“Of course, I remember,” Harrow said. “Fragment 31. Freshman year, ENGLISH 1P03. Queer and trans poetry.”
“The first time you ever spoke to me was in that class,” Gideon said. She sounded far-off, on the brink of the world. “You walked into the tutorial wearing that fully black outfit—black shoes, cardigan, everything. I remember, you still had that pixie cut. And when our TA paired us up for the analysis, I completely gay panicked and called you a nunlet.” Gideon stopped so abruptly that Harrow looked over, reeling from the memories Gideon recalled in perfect clarity. Gideon’s fists were clenched in her lap now, resurfacing harshly from her dreamlike state. “Fuck. You were in mourning, weren’t you? That’s why you wore black.”
Harrow almost felt bad when she admitted, “Yeah.”
“No wonder you hated me,” Gideon said. “Fuck, Harrow, I’m so sorry.” Gideon scrubbed her hands through her hair. “I had no idea.”
Harrow found that she hated seeing her like this. She reached out and touched Gideon’s wrist, pulling it away from her head. “You’re a miserable drunk, Griddle. And you have nothing to apologize for. Let’s have this conversation when you’re sober, okay?”
Their hands rested on the center console. Harrow’s right thumb traced slow circles at the centre of Gideon’s palm, her other hand on the wheel. Gideon quieted, her breath coming slower.
Twenty minutes later when they arrived at Gideon’s apartment, Harrow—for the first time in her life—found herself wishing that she was strong enough to carry someone in her arms.
She had to settle for putting her vehicle into park, and walking around to Nav’s side.
“Get up for a minute,” Harrow whispered, leaning over her to unbuckle the seatbelt. Gideon blinked. She was so close that Harrow felt the whisper of her eyelashes against her temple. Instinctively, she turned to look at her.
A tremulous error. Gideon’s eyes came into wakefulness like a springtime flood. There was a cloud softness to her mouth. And that mouth was shifting slowly closer.
Harrow put her fingers to Nav’s lips.
“None of that when you’re drunk, Griddle,” she said. “Anyway, we’re home.”
Harrow had never been inside Gideon’s apartment before. Thankfully, Griddle was on the first level. With an arm around Harrow’s shoulder, she managed to pull out her keys and push open the door.
“Where’s your room?” Harrow said.
Gideon gestured uselessly with her chin. Harrow sighed, shutting the door behind them.
Gideon’s apartment was large, and less cluttered than Harrow expected. Her shoes were sprawled by the door, several hoodies and jackets hanging on a rack that looked ready to collapse under tension.
Gideon stumbled down the hall with Harrow’s hand on the small of her back. She pushed open another door, and walked two steps inside the bedroom before flinging herself belly first on top of the large bed. Harrow stood in the doorway, gaping.
It wasn’t the acoustic guitar in its stand that shocked her. Nor was it the gleaming, four foot sword, or the shelf of DVDs that spanned along the far wall.
Gideon’s bedroom was filled to the absolute brim with books. Stacks of them, lined against the wall, on top of the bedside table, on the floor by the bed.
Gideon must’ve landed right on top of another book, because she groaned as she pulled it out from under her, tossing it to the floor. In the Presence of Absence, Mahmoud Darwish.
Harrow stared. She had the same copy, tattered where Griddle’s was brand new. She’d been reading it the night they spent at Villa Montezuma.
Some warm, sticky feeling rose up in Harrow. She picked the poetry book off the floor and placed it on Griddle’s bedside table on top of what appeared to be a very large stack of biographies.
“You’ll break your neck sleeping like that,” Harrow said to Gideon’s prone form. “Move onto your side.”
Griddle huffed, shifting as Harrow instructed. She seemed content to drift off like that, but Harrow stepped closer, tugging at her leg.
“At least take off your shoes,” Harrow said.
Harrow grumbled incoherently to herself. Since she had already spent the better half of the evening babysitting Gideon Nav, Harrow figured it wouldn’t hurt to unceremoniously tug off Gideon’s shoes and toss them into the corner. She grabbed the end of the comforter and hurled it over her. Then Harrow shoved a pillow beneath her big, stupid head.
“Thanks, sugarlips,” Gideon mumbled, eyes shut. Her grin managed to eat shit even when she was half dead.
“Shut up, Nav,” Harrow hissed. “Where’s your Advil?”
“Kitchen,” Gideon said.
Harrow wandered out into Gideon’s hallway, peeking her head into the second bedroom curiously. There was a punching bag hanging from the ceiling, and a workout bench and a bunch of weights in the corner. Not at all surprising. Harrow navigated her way into the kitchen, rustling through Griddle’s cupboards until she found a bottle of Advil. She filled a cup with water, and padded back to the bedroom.
Gideon’s face had gone soft with sleep, her red hair a shock against the pale comforter. Swallowing thickly, Harrow put the water and Advil on Gideon’s side table. She rearranged Gideon’s shoes which she had carelessly thrown. She picked up a couple books from the floor, and folded an errant shirt. Harrow was stalling. She didn’t know why.
“Harrow?” Gideon groaned.
Harrow startled from the pile of books she had been nosing through.
“Just stay over,” Gideon insisted, staring blearily at her.
“No shit, Sherlock,” Gideon said. “But I need to talk to you when I’m sober. You said—you said we could have that conversation, and I told you some really fucked up things back at the lighthouse.”
“You already apologized.”
“But you don’t believe me.”
“I forgive you,” Harrow said. “See? There. You’re forgiven.”
“No, there’s a difference,” Griddle argued. She started sitting up. Harrow pushed her gently back down.
“You need to rest—”
“You don’t believe me. When I threatened to walk away from—the show. You said there was nothing you had that could hold me here.”
“You’re wrong,” Gideon murmured, staring up at her. “God, you’re so fucking wrong, you have no idea. I could never just walk away from you, Harrow.”
“Okay, Nav,” Harrow nodded mechanically.
“You still don’t believe me,” Gideon sighed. “That’s okay. We’ll work on it. Please just stay.”
Harrow felt her throat tighten.
“I still have so much I need to say to you,” Gideon said. “I’m afraid if you leave now you won’t come back.” Gideon added: “I’ll make us breakfast. Whatever you want. I’ll even make you that squirrel food you like.”
“Anything you want,” Gideon murmured.
Harrow found that she very much wanted to stay.
So many realizations this evening. She was going to have to bury them all beneath several feet of dirt.
“Fine,” Harrow said. “I’m sleeping on your couch.”
“Ugh,” Gideon pouted, and curled up a little bit more in her sheets.
Before Harrow could think too much about that, she shot back, “Don’t freak out tomorrow morning when you sober up and find a gremlin in your apartment.”
“Hopefully, it will eat you first and be satisfied,” Griddle said tenderly. “Sleep good, my sweet.”
“Sleep well,” Harrow hissed. She grabbed the shirt she had previously folded. “And I’m stealing this!”
Gideon was already passed out.
Harrow found herself in the bathroom after that, stripped down to her underwear and Nav’s t-shirt. Gideon’s toiletries were sitting in a little green basket on the sink, and Harrow prodded through them. Moisturizer (generic), deodorant (Old Spice, in the original flavour), lube (!!!!!!!!!!!!!), toothpaste (sensitive)—
Harrow’s fingers hovered over a frosted glass bottle of cologne.
Unthinking, she picked it up and spritzed some into the air before walking into the mist.
She wandered out into the living room, where more books were stacked neatly on the coffee table. There were picture frames hanging along the wall—Gideon and Aiglamene, Gideon smiling brightly alongside a production crew on some set, Gideon with her arms around two grinning teenagers, Gideon with—
She stopped, reaching out to touch the very last frame.
It was Gideon and Harrow. They had been twenty-years-old when the photo was taken; the two of them dressed entirely in black, posing with a giant tilapia they’d bought at the Asian supermarket, ready to wreck absolute havoc in their professor’s office.
Harrow, a hand pressed to her mouth, couldn’t stop herself from giggling.
God, she was so fucking tired.
She settled onto the couch, wrapping herself in the throw blanket hanging over one of the arms, curling up on her side to avoid the bruise on her back.
Everything smelled like Gideon.
Having reached maximum capacity, and refusing anymore thoughts, Harrowhark Nonagesimus fell promptly asleep.
Harrow woke to the quiet gurgling of the coffeemaker. Glancing out the large living room window, she saw that the sun had just begun to rise, washing the sky in light pink. Gideon was moving around in the kitchen—Harrow recognized those footsteps, even when they were doing their best to be silent.
Gideon’s voice was a crescent of its usual volume. She was standing in the living room with a steaming mug in hand. Her hair was damp. She’d exchanged her clothes from last night for a pair of grey sweats and a clean shirt.
“Hi,” Harrow said, her own voice hoarse with sleep. “How do you feel?”
“I’m alright,” Gideon said. “Less hungover than expected. Scooch over?”
Harrow sat up awkwardly as Gideon padded over to her, pressing the mug into her cold hands.
“Black and a spoonful of sugar,” Gideon murmured.
Harrow felt disarmed by this small gem of knowledge that Gideon possessed of her.
Unsure of how to proceed, she took a long sip. It was like Harrow had made it herself. Griddle was watching her with an expression that Harrow only much later identified as shyness. Gideon Nav—shy. She found herself saying, “Where’s your protein shake?”
“I’ll make it later,” Gideon said, in slight astonishment. “I didn’t want to wake you up with the blender.”
“Oh,” Harrow managed.
Gideon abruptly sat down onto the couch next to her. Harrow wanted to pull the blanket over her own head and turn invisible. For all her impassioned speeches from the night prior, Gideon was quiet now, nervous. She opened her mouth and shut it. She did it a second time as Harrow observed her. That foolishly good girl, grasping for words.
Harrow could be good too. She could try.
“I was fifteen,” Harrow said, meeting her halfway. Gideon’s eyes jumped to hers. “I’d been begging my parents for piano lessons for years, and they’d finally caved in. When they were driving me to the conservatory for my first recital, I realized I’d forgotten my sheet music at home. Basically threw a tantrum, begging them to turn around. As if I didn’t have the piece fully memorized.”
“So we went back.” Harrow closed her eyes. “My dad was always a careful driver, even when he was in a rush. It didn’t matter in the end. A pickup ran a red light, and it was over.”
“Harrow,” Gideon murmured.
“My parents were dead, but I was still alive somehow, hanging upside down in the backseat screaming my head off. I was conscious through the whole thing.”
“None of that was your fault,” Gideon said.
“It’s...hard for me to believe that. I’m trying, but—anyway, my lola seemed to think so. She never told me to my face in all the years that I lived with her, but she didn’t have to. I hated her, but I hated myself even more. Then she died from a stroke two days before college started, and I was alone again.”
Harrow felt Gideon prying the coffee mug from her hands, and her eyes flickered open. The mug was on the table. Gideon was taking her hands between hers.
She leaned in close, and said again, with conviction, “None of that was your fault.”
Harrow shook her head helplessly. Then Gideon’s hands left hers. Harrow found herself being pulled closer by an arm curling around her waist, bringing her flush to Gideon’s chest. Her left hand touched the back of Harrow’s head, guiding her brow to rest against Gideon’s shoulders. Gideon pressed her lips to Harrow’s ear.
“And you’re not alone,” Gideon said.
All at once, Harrow realized that Gideon was hugging her.
When was the last time someone had done that?
The brittle rules of her body shuddered and collapsed. Harrow snaked her arms around Gideon’s waist, hands clutching tightly to the back of her shirt. Gideon was warm and steady beneath her cheek.
“I shouldn’t have yelled at you like that, back at the lighthouse,” Gideon murmured. “I was so rattled by that place. I swear I’d just heard this dead girl’s voice in my ear, and then I saw you up on the lookout and completely lost my shit. I wasn’t even thinking—I just ran in after you. And when that stair broke, I—I don’t even know. I think I prayed? I just remember thinking: you weren’t going to fall, you weren’t going to get hurt, it wasn’t going to happen.”
“I deserved the yelling,” Harrow admitted. “What you said about... how my recklessness hurts my friends...I didn’t even realize I had friends to hurt. As if you, and Cam, and Palamedes haven’t been trying your best to—to take care of me. I’m so sorry, Gideon.”
“It’s okay,” Gideon said to her in earnest. “But what I said after that, Harrow, about leaving? I need you to believe me when I say that none of it was true. Believe me when I say that there is a lot holding me here.”
“It terrified me,” Harrow admitted. “Because we’ve been fighting each other for years now. I thought there was nothing I could ever do to scare you off. No matter how mean I was, you were there, giving it right back to me. You were always a contender. But I never even wanted to win. I just—”
Where Harrow faltered, Gideon stepped up.
“Wanted me to stay?”
She let out an embarrassed huff of a laugh, and Griddle chucked her on the back of the head. She kept that hand in her hair, twining her fingers through the short inky wisps.
“No crying, Nonagesimus,” Gideon said gruffly, eyes shining. “You might be a mega loser, but you know that you’re my best friend, right? I’m not going anywhere.”
“You’re my best friend too,” Harrow said.
Gideon bumped their heads together softly, and Harrow felt something shift in her like the sunrise outside. Some distant alarm warned her against it, an opposing moon that tugged her back hissing this is not what friends do.
Fuck it. She touched her fingers to Gideon’s chin, and captured her lips with her own. Gideon’s mouth yielded, moving slow and thick like spilled honey. Hands ventured to Harrow’s sides, gathering her into Griddle’s lap and she went gladly, parting her thighs around Gideon’s waist. Gideon moved her hands to Harrow’s ass, and when Harrow arched her back now, it was accompanied by a quiet grunt of pain.
“Shit,” she swore, immediately removing her hands. “I forgot you hurt yourself. Get up for a second, sweet? I just want to see it.”
“It looks worse than it actually is,” Harrow warned her, trying to get Gideon’s hands back into motion, but they stayed resolutely on Harrow’s thighs. “It’s embarrassing.”
Harrow sighed, clambering to her feet. She unceremoniously stripped out of her underwear, and turned so that the mottled red-purple skin of her butt was on display when she lifted the hem of Gideon’s t-shirt.
“Honestly, it’s not that bad.”
“Come here, assmunch,” Gideon said, irritation dripping into her affection. Harrow walked a step backwards into Gideon’s hands, and Gideon peeled the shirt up a little higher, swearing some more as she touched lightly around the bruises marking Harrow’s miserable asscheeks.
“I didn’t even know you could get bruises there,” Harrow sighed.
“They kind of look like supernovae,” Gideon told her earnestly.
“Stop it.” Harrow’s face was heating up.
“Seriously,” Griddle laughed. “Did you use an icepack?” Harrow nodded. “You’re probably going to want to use vitamin E cream on that, skin there tends to discolor after the bruise heals. Also, no more scaring the living shit out of me by running up broken flights of stairs onto lookouts that are equally fucking mangled.”
“Sorry,” Harrow muttered.
She felt Gideon shift. And then—twin featherlight kisses to the backs of Harrow’s legs.
The name fell from her lips unbidden. Harrow could not explain the great dawnlike thing opening up in her chest. Harrow could not help the shudder that wracked her spine, the wetness that was beginning to gather at her core. She turned, eyes blazing, and Gideon stared up at her, still seated on the couch.
“I don’t want to hurt you,” Gideon said slowly, knowing her.
“You won’t,” Harrow said, pushing lightly at Gideon’s shoulder until she leaned back against the cushions. “Take your clothes off.”
Brow raised challengingly, Gideon pulled her shirt over her head, and then made quick work of her sweatpants.
“Scoot up, lean your shoulders back,” Harrow murmured, “Yes. Good.”
Harrow walked into the space between Gideon’s parted legs, tilting up the woman’s chin so their lips could meet. Gideon was languid beneath her. Harrow kissed her once more before pulling away.
She folded herself carefully onto her knees. Gideon’s eyes blew wide.
“You don’t have to—”
“I want to,” Harrow said, placing her palms gently on Gideon’s thighs. “You’ve done this for me before. Let me try.” She watched Gideon gnaw at her bottom lip. Harrow, on impulse, kissed the woman’s knee. “Unless you don’t like getting eaten out.”
Gideon actually blushed. “So, I’ve never actually been eaten out before.”
Harrow nodded. “Okay, do you—”
“It’s just—before you, the girls I’ve hooked up with—they just used their hands, or a toy, you know, so—”
“I’ve never wanted to ask for it. Always felt kinda too much. And—”
“Gideon!” Harrow said. Gideon paused, mouth hanging open mid-sentence, and met her gaze. Harrow continued, “Do you want me to try?”
Gideon sputtered, “Do you want to try?”
“Yeah,” Harrow nodded. “Quite badly, actually.”
Gideon looked vulnerable. She was vulnerable—still as stone, completely, gorgeously nude with Harrow supplicating between her legs. She was staring at Harrow like she didn’t know where to begin.
Harrow arrived at tenderness—she couldn’t dare to reckon with the other word, not yet—with a hand on Gideon’s muscular thigh, leaning up to kiss her. She took Gideon’s bottom lip into her mouth, swallowing her gasps. Gideon’s hands curved around Harrow’s jaw like she was cupping water between her palms, their lips falling into a pattern of closed-mouth pecks and wet open-mouthed kisses. Harrow ran her palms up the hard planes of her abdomen, and higher, until she reached the generous swell of Gideon’s breasts. When Gideon didn’t give any particular reaction to Harrow’s thumbs against her nipples, Harrow went elsewhere; tracing up her sides, curling her fingers around Gideon’s biceps, and finally, dragging her nails over Gideon’s broad, freckled shoulders. Gideon pressed a moan into Harrow’s mouth. Harrow smiled and did it again.
“I wish you were in my lap,” Gideon whispered.
“Later,” Harrow said, ignoring her own surge of arousal. She dragged her mouth down Gideon’s throat, down the valley between her breasts, her belly. Gideon’s breath hitched. Harrow smiled, skipping her cunt, and pressed kisses to Gideon’s hip bones.
She shifted focus, some part of her falling into a hazy, meditative state as she bit and sucked a mosaic of broken capillaries on Griddle’s inner thighs. The other part of Harrow turned vicious. She thought of those idiot girls that Gideon had hooked up with—who hadn’t even offered—had they even considered she wanted it? Did they know how much they were missing out on? Whatever, fuck them anyway, Harrow thought to herself, as Gideon let out a loud moan. She’s mine now.
Oh—Harrow froze. The thought loomed over her.
“You okay?” Gideon brushed her cheek suddenly, and Harrow snapped out of it. She’d unpack that later. Or never. Gideon tucked a short lock of black hair behind Harrow’s ear. “You don’t have to—it’s fine if you—”
“Gideon,” Harrow said. “If you’ll let me, I’m going to happily use my mouth on you until you’re shaking.”
“Okay,” Gideon nodded. “Sounds good. Nice. Awesome. Cool.”
Harrow bit back her smile as she spread Griddle’s legs further apart.
A patch of red curls, and Gideon’s most tender skin, shining wet. Harrow placed her tongue flat against her, giving a tentative lick, pulling back just as she reached her clit.
A hand immediately fisted in her black hair, and Harrow groaned low in her throat.
“Sorry,” Gideon gasped, unwinding her fingers. Harrow dragged her hand back.
“It feels good,” she said. “You can pull harder.”
“I—” Harrow brushed her thumb along the hood of Gideon’s clit, following the motion with rapid swipes of her tongue, applying barely any pressure. Gideon’s words got all muddled when Harrow did that, so she kept it up. “Fuck, Harrow. Can you—”
Harrow sunk two fingers shallowly inside her, and Gideon let out a guttural noise, hands tightening around Harrow’s hair. Harrow glanced up beneath her lashes, and found Gideon’s head pressed back against the couch cushions, face lifted to the ceiling. She watched Gideon’s abdomen twitch as Harrow fucked her in earnest. Bless having a free hand—she pressed her left palm flat against Gideon’s midsection, feeling for every flinch and arch and release.
“I’m—” Gideon gasped. Her thighs were trembling, her noises falling faster, louder.
“You’re close,” Harrow said, and Gideon nodded rapidly. Was this how Gideon always knew she was nearing the edge? Did Harrow look like this before she came?
“Harrow—shit, baby—” Gideon met her gaze. “I’m glad it was you.”
Gideon’s muscles fluttered around Harrow’s fingers. Three fingers, and Harrow dipped briefly from Gideon’s clit to add her tongue.
A yell punched out of Gideon’s throat.
Harrow lapped at her softly through her orgasm, until Gideon was trembling all over, pushing her gently away.
“Okay,” Gideon was panting. “Okay. You’re out of your mind. Cool. Please sit in my lap while I recover.”
“You okay?” Harrow asked, settling on top of Gideon’s thighs. Arousal was running down Harrow’s leg. “How was that?”
“How was that?” Griddle parroted. She kissed Harrow sloppily, sucking the taste of herself from her tongue. Gideon’s hand slipped along her cunt, and Harrow cried out. “Sugar, I’m gonna fuck you silly.”
The sun was fully in the sky the next time Harrow bothered to look. And even then, the glance had just been a dazed gesture to collect herself after spending twenty minutes riding Gideon’s mouth. She turned her gaze back to Gideon now, who was grinning up at her with a wet and satisfied smile.
Gideon used the hem of Harrow’s t-shirt to wipe her face, having refused to rip it off her. Because, quoth she, with her tongue on Harrow’s cunt, You look so fucking good with it on.
Harrow wanted her again, wetness pooling between her legs in anticipation.
That’s why she’d had to look away in the first place.
By the time Harrow reached back out for her coffee, the drink had gone cold.
“So I don’t actually have any granola,” Gideon said later, after they managed to detach themselves. Much later. It was nearly noon.
Harrow was kneeling on her kitchen counter, going through Gideon’s top cupboards. She was wearing her underwear and another one of Gideon’s shirts. Griddle’s closet was mostly obnoxious muscle tees, and the other t-shirt was very much covered in fluids, so Harrow was forced to go with the long sleeve that read WOMEN WANT ME, FISH FEAR ME, and featured a giant salmon on the front. At least it was long enough on Harrow to cover her ridiculous ass bruise. She turned to glare at the other girl.
“Yogurt?” Harrow tried.
“I have Lucky Charms?”
“That’s candy, Nav.”
“Literally just let me make you a fucking omelette, Harrow,” said Gideon. She was already frying two eggs for herself on the stovetop, alongside several thick cuts of bacon. Griddle liked her eggs runny so that she could dip her toast into the yellows. Harrow glared in disgust.
“Okay, fine,” Harrow said cautiously. “But don’t go crazy with it.”
Several minutes later, Gideon slid a plate in front of Harrow that contained an omelette and a slice of toast. No butter because Harrow didn’t like soggy toast.
“Here, you gremlin.”
Gideon settled into the chair across from her and dug into her own food. Harrow took a tentative bite from her omelette. She paused. Oh shit.
Gideon laughed out loud. “You like it, don’t you?”
Harrow said nothing. She took another bite, and another. Gideon was radiant, watching her excitedly while Harrow chewed.
“Nonagesimus, if I knew this was all it took to shut you up,” Gideon said. “I would’ve been making you French omelettes for years now.”
“Oh, fuck off,” Harrow said, without any real punch. After several minutes, plate emptied and trying sorely for a casual tone, she continued, “So...are the omelettes very hard to make?”
Gideon’s smile was lopsided, lovely. She said, “Did you want another?”
Things were different after that.
They didn’t talk about it—that thing between them. It was simply Gideon-and-Harrow, laughing so loud that they shook the dust off the ceiling of an abandoned mansion. Gideon with her stupid holy water gun, and the day that it was so hot on site that she’d emptied the entire contents into her mouth before Harrow, Cam or Pal could yell at her about stoupwater contamination. Harrow-and-Gideon, driving through Harrow’s old neighborhood in San Diego, stopping at the carinderia whose owner still recognized her. Harrow, all fucked out in Gideon's bed, head on her shoulder while Gideon dithered through an embarrassingly long Chinese takeout order.
It didn’t seem to bother Gideon that Harrow clung to her like an overzealous leech. In fact, most of the time, Gideon would cling right back. She was almost always touching Harrow now—pressing their shoulders together when they stood next to each other, a hand to brush Harrow’s hair back from her eyes, or to rest on Harrow’s knee. Each contact lit Harrow up—fervid as if Griddle had touched her the way she did when they had sex.
Speaking of sex: there hadn’t been much of it lately. Though not for lack of trying—Gideon’s trying, mostly, to get Harrow away from the office by any means possible. The weeks had passed into mid-April. Mercymorn was demanding more of Harrow—research, paperwork, scheduling, and licenses, and contacts and godknowswhat for season 2.
Did you even go home last night? Gideon said to Harrow earlier in the week, when she arrived at work to see that Harrow hadn’t moved an inch from her desk from the evening prior. Next thing Harrow knew, there was a sweater being folded around her shoulders, a steaming cup of coffee placed next to her laptop, and Griddle, brushing a thumb across the back of her neck. Learn to delegate, dumbass! You think the crew doesn’t know how to do paperwork?
But Harrow hesitated. Cam, Palamedes and Gideon were already busy enough producing the episodes—which were consistently getting longer as the season progressed.
“Okay, how about this,” Gideon said now. It was 8pm, and Harrow was still working, looking up licenses for various season 2 locations. Gideon had just left the recording booth with Camilla. “You come over to mine. I eat you out. Then you get ten hours of sleep.”
“I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” Harrow said evenly.
Gideon groaned, pushing off from Harrow’s desk to propel her swivel chair into several rotations. After five minutes of this, Gideon got dizzy and quit. She rested her head next to Harrow’s laptop, eyes imploring.
“Harrow,” Gideon said. “Remember I told you that you do reckless shit that scares your friends? This counts as reckless shit.”
Harrow sobered up after that. She sighed, and closed her laptop with a resounding click.
“Fine,” she said. “But I’m coming in at 8am tomorrow.”
“Of course!” Gideon nodded. She pressed a loud, smacking kiss to Harrow’s cheek and started to her feet, grabbing Harrow’s bag for her. “Sure! Whatever! This is the first time you’ve gone home before 10pm in, like, almost two weeks. Should we order food now so it’s there when we get to my place?”
“Nuh uh,” Harrow said, snatching her bag from Griddle. “I’m going home home.”
Gideon looked momentarily aghast. “So no head?”
“We won’t sleep at all if you start on that,” Harrow warned. She let out a loud yawn.
“Okay, fair,” Gideon shrugged. “Just...please sleep, okay?”
She walked Harrow to her car, chucking her lightly beneath the chin before she walked off to her own vehicle.
Harrow went home and immediately opened her laptop.
Harrow’s body lasted only two more days before giving out. Humiliatingly, she was sitting with Palamedes when it happened, going over some edits he was making to the episode 16 footage. It’s not that Pal was boring, talking as he was about angles, and timestamps, and new visual media practices—Harrow had simply forgone her customary second RedBull of the day because the sudden heart palpitations she had begun experiencing made her nervous.
She passed out right there, fast as a body off a balcony. She knocked her head so hard against the table that Pal had actually yelled for help. When Harrow came around, it was to Pal, Camilla, and Gideon’s face hovering over hers.
“No bruising,” Cam was saying.
“She needs water,” Palamedes responded.
“How many times do I have to give you shit about this?” Gideon said angrily. She was cradled on Gideon's lap, hands carding through her hair.
“Sorry,” Harrow groaned.
So began their many work nights at Harrow’s place. Palamedes ordered Thai food. Cam brought donuts. Gideon confiscated all the energy drinks from Harrow’s refrigerator.
They were seated around Harrow’s kitchen table, which was actually the first time she’d ever used it for more than herself. In fact, her second floor apartment unit as a whole had never seen so much traffic.
Harrow pulled out her planner hesitantly.
Delegation was not in her wheelhouse, but before she could stammer through a motivational speech or turn tyrannical, Cam came up to her side and scribbled her name down in Harrow’s book.
“I want to do research for the Bellaire house,” Cam declared.
Harrow blinked in surprise. “You do?”
“Hey, I wanted that one,” Pal argued, coming to Harrow’s other side.
“Terrible shame,” Cam said to him. “You’ll have to settle for your second choice.”
As if they’d discussed it prior, Cam was already scrawling his name down in the book, right next to—
Pal said, “I’ll do Waverly Hills, Harrow.”
Soon every episode had a name written next to it. Then they all ganged up and bullied Harrow into taking a nap. It was a team effort, with Camilla and Gideon manhandling Harrow down the short hallway to her bedroom, Palamedes trailing them as moral support.
Gideon wrapped her up like a burrito. Camilla brought her big headphones off her neck and slid them over Harrow’s ears, putting on some strange, twelve hour long ASMR hair-brushing track. It worked, to Harrow’s utter humiliation. When she woke again, it was to Gideon adjusting the covers around her shoulders.
“How long was I out?” Harrow groaned, pulling off Camilla's headphones.
She sat up, looking around blearily at her dark bedroom. The sound of passing cars drifted through her cracked-open window. Gideon sat down on the bed next to her.
“Maybe two hours?” Gideon said. “We’re almost done all the stuff on the agenda for today. Everything’s in a drive for you to inspect once you’ve rested.”
“Thank you,” Harrow whispered.
The light from Harrow’s kitchen was flooding down the hall. She could hear Cam and Pal chatting in Urdu from the kitchen table, music playing softly somewhere close to them. Harrow squinted. Gideon had powdered sugar dusting her chin, freckling her mouth.
“Go back to sleep,” insisted Gideon. “We’ve got this handled, sugarlips. Teamwork makes the dream work.”
Gideon’s hair was a disaster. She was wearing sweatpants and a college sweater, and Harrow thought she looked ridiculously charming. Her eyes were sleepy, but her grin was full of pride and affection, aimed right for Harrow’s little heart.
“Griddle,” Harrow whispered, holding her covers open. “Come here.”
Gideon dipped beneath the blanket, curling up on her side to face Harrow. When Harrow reached for Gideon’s jaw, the woman stopped her suddenly, brow raised.
“Cam and Sex Pal are right outside,” she whispered.
Harrow huffed. “I’m not going to—I just—ugh.”
Harrow kissed her then. Just once, a gentle touch of their lips together, before she shifted down and started peppering kisses around Gideon’s chin.
“What are you doing?” Gideon asked, confused and delighted.
She worked her way back up, licking the rest of the powder from Gideon’s skin. Harrow brought her mouth back to Gideon’s, parted and wanting. After tasting her briefly, Gideon made a noise of surprise, pulling away.
“You’re the sugarlips,” was all Harrow said. Even in the shadows, Harrow could tell that Gideon’s brown skin was flushed deeply.
Then Gideon exclaimed, loud enough for everyone in the house to catch, “Nobody thought to tell me I had food on my face?”
Harrow could hear Camilla and Palamedes snickering from the kitchen table.
Harrow’s grief still had its moments.
Sometimes when the spirit box was on and the ghosts were silent, the grief would come for her then—bright pulses of pain, like daggers, sending her groping for any solid surface to lean against. Other times, Harrow would wake up alone in her bed and relive the twelve minutes she’d spent dangling in the car with her dead parents before the paramedics came and scooped her out.
Today was different. This morning before work, she’d stared in her bathroom mirror and remembered, oh right, I will never see Ma or Pa again, and the reminder was a blow to the chest.
“Okay,” Gideon murmured. “Tell me what’s wrong.”
Harrow opened her eyes. She had been pretending to sleep, and Gideon had been letting her. Until now. It was completely dark around them. Harrow could only tell that Gideon was facing her by the whisper of her breath against her face.
“Harrow,” Gideon pleaded. “I can hear how hard you’re thinking.”
Her voice was too low for the cameras in the corner of the room to catch. They weren’t wearing mics either, as was customary for their haunted sleepovers.
“It’s the anniversary of my parents death today,” murmured Harrow.
Gideon was silent for a moment. And then she was reaching out, pulling Harrow closer by the edge of her sleeping bag. Harrow settled against her, fitting her head beneath Gideon’s chin, Gideon’s heart beating steadily in her ear. An arm fell over her waist.
“I’m so sorry, Harrow,” Gideon said, her voice right in Harrow’s ear.
She shook her head. “You don’t have to be.”
Several minutes passed with Nav holding her. Harrow nearly thought the woman had fallen asleep. But then Gideon muttered, “How did you decide that today was the ideal time to have a sleepover in some dead heiress’s mansion?”
“I scheduled it like this on purpose,” Harrow said. “I wanted a distraction.”
More quiet. Then Harrow felt Gideon’s hand slip from her waist, wandering her fingers slowly up and down Harrow’s spine.
“You know,” Gideon said conversationally. “If you wanted a distraction, all you had to do was ask. You could’ve come over. We could be eating tacos and having lots of hot distracting sex, and not sleeping in some ghost hag’s bed.”
“Old habits die hard, Griddle,” Harrow said. “Anyway, this place isn’t so bad.”
The world seemed intent on making Harrow wrong. The motion sensor alarm chose that exact moment to start blaring—an obnoxious, air raid siren of a noise. Harrow shot up in bed, swearing. Gideon grabbed her flashlight, beaming it over to the motion sensor device. It glowed blue, casting shapes onto the purple wall drapes.
Gideon was a flurry of horror and excitement, pushing out of her sleeping bag and yelling, “Fuck me sideways, I think we got one!”
“Any fluctuation in infrared waves will set that thing off, Nav,” Harrow groaned, lying back down. “A very large bug could do it.”
“Nuh uh,” Gideon said vehemently. When Harrow didn’t revel with enough excitement, Gideon threw a pillow at her.
“Shift the camera, would you?” Gideon said. “And grab my water gun.” Then she raised her hands out placatingly, approaching the motion sensor. “Hey, ghost! I come in peace, I just wanna chat!”
“You can’t say grab me my gun and then say you come in peace,” Harrow said, but shoved the Nerf gun into Gideon’s palm.
“I’ve been saying that literally all season,” Nav argued. “It’s worked plenty of times.”
“It’s worked never.”
Harrow pulled the camera around, focusing on Gideon, who was standing there in her sweats and a ridiculous muscle tee that had EVERY DAY IS LEG DAY written across the front.
Out of nowhere, Griddle let out a loud shriek. Harrow jumped. Gideon, of course, was pointing at the wall. At absolutely nothing.
“Oh my god!” Harrow exclaimed. “Stop screaming!”
“It just moved, you asshole!” Gideon yelped. “Harrow, the curtain moved.”
“It did not,” Harrow shot back. With the camera properly oriented, Harrow was able to stomp to her cohost’s side. “Where?”
“There,” Gideon pointed to the corner of the purple drape. “I swear it shifted.”
“Nav,” Harrow said slowly. She tugged the drape aside, fully prepared to reveal to Nav some very ugly wallpaper. “There is literally nothing—oh.”
Not a ghost. Not ugly wallpaper either.
Harrow and Gideon stared.
The portrait behind the drapery depicted a young woman. It was Henrietta, Harrow knew—the heiress who once lived in the mansion. She was a small bird of a woman; dark haired and dark eyed, with a fine nose and delicate collarbones.
“Hold the fucking phone,” Gideon said slowly. “That’s the ghost that’s haunting this place?”
“Supposedly,” Harrow nodded.
“Well, shit!” Gideon exclaimed. She crossed her arms against her chest, and stared at the portrait with even more interest. “I retract my calling her a hag. She’s an absolute babe.”
“This is not happening right now,” Harrow muttered.
“Seriously, Harrow,” Gideon said. “You don’t think she’s hot?”
“I guess so?”
“You guess so?” Gideon said, incredulous. “Should’ve brought my bloody strap.”
Gideon was wheezing. Really laughing like a fucking sea lion while Harrow panicked. She couldn’t shake the mental image of Gideon with her strap—fuck. Gideon had a strap? Was she fucking serious? Harrow’s entire body felt hot. She wanted to punch Gideon’s lights out. She wanted Gideon to toss her onto the bed and fuck her until she was hoarse. She pulled the drapes back over Henrietta’s portrait, and glared at her friend. Her gorgeous, horndog moron of a best friend.
“Gideon,” Harrow started. Gideon snapped to attention, eyes wide and alive and hungry. “You are such a—”
“What?” Gideon asked. She stepped closer to Harrow. “I’m a what?”
“A ghost fucker!” The words shot out of Harrow’s mouth. “You! Are a horny! Little! Ghost fucker!”
Gideon stared at her, jaw agape. Harrow stared back.
A choked noise came out of Griddle’s throat. Then another. And then Gideon was bent over, gripping her knees, laughing so hard that tears were flowing out of her eyes. She was marvelling at Harrow through her laughter, gaze shining.
“Stop laughing, Griddle!”
But a sharp bark of a laugh rioted past her own lips. Gideon guffawed even harder, clutching her belly. Harrow’s laughter came uncontrollably then, punching out between her shouts of “You’re the worst!” and “Despicable!” and “Sick-minded and nasty!”
“Tell me the camera is rolling,” Gideon cried out. “Harrow, please tell me you got that on film.”
They were sitting on their asses on the floor now. Harrow was, at least. Gideon was fully sprawled on her back, still heaving, staring up at Harrow in a glossy daze. Harrow clutched her aching belly.
“I did.” Harrow wiped tears from her eyes. “Nav, you’re going to break the Internet.”
“With my strap,” Gideon said, suddenly serious.
“With your strap,” Harrow confirmed.
They gazed at each other gravely. Then, the corner of Gideon’s mouth twitched and Harrow broke into another loud peel of laughter.
cottagewh0re 2 hours ago
BRO I LITERALLY CAN’T WITH THESE TWO THEY ARE GOING TO KILL ME
hozierstan420 3 hours ago
STRAP? did she say STRAP??????????!?!?!?!??!?!?!??!?!??!
navinator 42 minutes ago
is anybody gonna talk about the fact that every time gideon and harrow share a bed when they sleep at haunted locations, they sleep with their faces like TWO INCHES APART? GIVE ME A PLATONIC EXPLANATION?
View 1 reply.
griddleharkcanon 36 minutes ago
There isn’t one. They’re 100% dating. It feels useless at this point to even beg them to confirm it because it’s so painfully obvious. The way Harrow looks at Gideon when she’s screwing around with her water gun at 9:14? The way Gideon touches Harrow’s back when they’re just walking around? That’s true love, bitch. But I would sell my arm to be able to hear what those two are talking about during the time lapses when they’re in bed.
arbysoneandonly 2 hours ago
Henrietta Dupont looks so much like Harrow, LMAO. I don’t think Harrow even realized it. Clearly Gideon has a type.
18 minutes and 45 seconds of harrow and gideon being home of sexuals
345K views · 1 month ago
280K views · 2 months ago
literally just 14 minutes and 6 seconds of gideon nav staring lovingly at harrow on dominicus unsolved
100K views · 2 weeks ago
griddlehark moments that haunt me
19K views · 8 days ago
unsolved season 1 (episodes 1-18) but every time gideon calls harrow sugarlips it gets 5 times faster
8K views · 1 day ago
Best of Harrowhark Nonagesimus Part Five
77K views · 3 weeks ago
Harrow knew about the shippers. It would’ve been impossible not to know about the shippers, seeing as the self-proclaimed Griddlehark Nation flooded the comments section of every Unsolved video they published. It had been a joke to her at first.
But now Harrow was scrolling through her thirteenth Griddlehark subreddit of the day, this particular one dedicated to all the moments that suggested that Griddle was madly in love with her.
It was not with pleasure that Harrow did this—no, she was nearly pulling her hair out. Being submerged ten feet deep in fandom did strange things to her brain. It made her hope. Harrow had lost sleep to the sheer size of her desire.
“Are you alright, Harrow?”
Harrow let out an undignified fuck. Her phone slipped out from her fingers as she scrambled to turn it off—and dropped to the floor. Relief flooded through her, though just barely. Griddle would’ve caught the phone before it hit the ground. But Griddle wasn’t at work today—she’d taken the Friday off because one of her friends had dropped into town. Thank god.
Palamedes looked at Harrow oddly, bending down to pick it up. He glanced down at the screen. His face scrunched up, and Harrow’s momentary lapse in terror resolved itself, and she wanted to shriek. He passed her the phone.
“Why are you looking through Unsolved subreddits?” he asked innocently.
Very generously phrased. Harrow had just been caught reading fan theories on her nonexistent love life with the one Gideon Nav.
“Don’t tell her,” Harrow found herself begging. “Please.”
“I wasn’t going to tell her,” Palamedes said, brow raised incredulously. “But...Harrow, you know she’s in love with you, right?”
Harrowed blinked, bared open.
“Don’t say it out loud!” she yelled, clutching her phone to her chest. “I can’t talk about this. I—I don’t want to get my hopes up.”
Palamedes.exe. stopped working. He blinked several times, and promptly sat down in the swivel chair beside Harrow’s desk.
“Hopes?” he repeated. “Harrowhark. What reason do you possibly have to conclude that Gideon doesn’t want you?”
“She’s never said anything,” Harrow said.
“Neither have you,” Palamedes replied.
Harrow flushed violently. “I’m not—” Palamedes gave her a look, and Harrow shut the fuck up. Caught. She rerouted, “It’s Griddle. She doesn’t have a filter. She sees a hot girl and goes wow a hot girl, and—and none of those girls look like me. She would’ve told me already. And I can’t risk it. It’ll get weird, and she’s my best friend, and I can’t fuck it up—”
“Okay,” Pal lifted his hands in surrender. “Okay, you’re panicking. Stop panicking.”
Harrow did not stop panicking. She put her face in her hands, and found that she was very close to crying.
“I can’t lose her,” Harrow said quietly. “I almost did before. I’m not risking it again.”
“What, at the lighthouse?”
“No,” Harrow looked at Pal. “After graduation.”
Harrow told him about art school. How she and Gideon had been reluctant companions, unhappily inseparable. Two years across the dormitory hallway from each other, and another two in the same apartment complex, just three floors apart. She told him about how they’d needed each other, found solace away from the stupid Mexican-themed frat parties and gross fetishizing classmates who wanted to know what Harrow thought about this or that Chinese film and did they want to go out sometime, maybe?
By the time their senior year rolled around, she and Gideon had been friends. Harrow was already searching for jobs back in California, and Nav was saying, I hear the weather’s pretty nice in San Diego, maybe I’ll come visit you sometime and even though they had never touched each other like that in college, it was a heated promise, and Harrow had thought maybe. Maybe.
And then Gideon got abruptly hired for a gig in fucking New Zealand. Which was fine. Really far, but maybe they could start messaging each other—or something. She’d told Harrow about it right before they had to get seated for commencement, several chairs apart that marked the difference of letters between their surnames. Nav first. Nonagesimus, seven seats over.
Harrow never needed to miss Gideon before, she’d realized, sitting there in her grad robes.
Then they’d walked the stage, and everyone was all happy, and Gideon was receiving a hug from Aiglamene and a ridiculous bouquet of sunflowers—ridiculous because they were Harrow’s favourite and Nav always said they looked like cyclops eyes. And Harrow was parentless, and trying not to look too awkward when she slipped into one of the empty theatre balconies to hide.
Of course Gideon had followed her. She was standing at the entrance of the balcony, clutching that sunflower bouquet, and staring at her worriedly.
“Where are your folks?” Gideon asked, stepping closer.
“Couldn’t make it,” Harrow lied. “They weren’t able to fly in from San Diego.”
“There’s nobody here for you?”
You’re here, Harrow had not pointed out. Hadn’t even realized until the very second her mouth retold the story to Palamedes.
Gideon had been frowning. Harrow had not been able to stop staring at her mouth, and like gravity, like she was fucking possessed, Harrow closed the distance between them—an enormous feat, at that point in their lives—and kissed Gideon on the lips.
Gideon had not kissed her back. She had been utterly still for a solid twenty seconds. The bouquet dropped to the floor, and Harrow stepped on it when she flinched away, horrified and embarrassed beyond words.
Gideon, who had been equally horrified, started to say, “Harrow—”
“That was a mistake,” Harrow blurted out. Damage control, Nonagesimus. Get it together, Nonagesimus. “I—I didn’t mean to—”
And then she ran.
Gideon never contacted her.
Why would she? Harrow had said kissing her was a mistake.
“Wait a minute,” Palamedes said, dragging Harrow back to the present, to Dominicus, and to the tragedy at hand. “You ran? You didn’t even give her a chance to say anything?”
“Fuck me sideways,” Harrow said.
“I hate when you say that,” Palamedes groaned. “I just realized you got it from her.”
“I’m actually a moron,” Harrow gasped. “She—she was bringing me a bouquet. Oh god. Do you think she remembers that?”
“Seems kind of impossible to forget,” Palamedes said helpfully. “It makes a lot of sense now. Maybe that’s why she’s never said anything to you; she thinks you don’t reciprocate her feelings.”
Are you still thinking about what happened at graduation? Gideon had said to her when they first ran into each other at Dominicus. That had been six months ago .
“Don’t reciprocate—” Harrow flinched. “I love her with everything I have. I’m obvious—how could she not—everytime we have sex—”
Palamedes grey eyes, which had softened at Harrow’s confession, then properly bugged out of his head. “Hold on. Sex?”
“I have to go,” Harrow stood abruptly, gathering her bag.
“Hey nerds, look what a viewer made for us.”
Harrow turned around. Cam was standing behind them, swathes of white fabric hanging off her arm. They were t-shirts. Camilla was looking at her funny.
“Are you going home?” she asked incredulously.
“Going to Griddle’s,” Harrow said.
Cam’s expression revealed that her brain was running a hundred miles a minute. With the slightest raise of her brow, she handed two of the t-shirts to Harrow.
“Give one of those to her, then.”
Harrow stuffed them roughly into her bag and said, “I’ll see you both on Monday.”
“Nerdagesimus leaving work before 4pm?” She heard Camilla say to her cousin. “What did you do?”
When she was stopped at a red light, Harrow curiously glanced down at the t-shirt.
It was soft and oversized and white, save for the giant graphic across the front: it was a pastel pink version of Gideon’s holy water Nerf gun, but instead of the barrel, the protruding end elongated out into a giant fucking dildo. A dildo gun, if you would.
The word GHOSTFUCKER was obnoxiously large, written across the chest.
A laugh shot out of Harrow’s throat.
Gideon was going to absolutely lose her mind.
Harrowhark, fuelled by love, sexual frustration, and adrenaline, had already knocked on Gideon’s apartment door when the doubt suddenly crashed onto her. She clutched her chest, Nav’s t-shirt balled in her fist. Her legs wobbled, dammit. She knocked again, harder.
Harrow had been a skeptic since the day that her parents died. Doubt was her hometown. Ghosts: real or not real. Harrow’s responsibility in their deaths: real or not real. She was unloved, she was unworthy, she was alone—real or not real. The dead could not speak, and thus could deny her nothing. Maybe that’s why she was enamoured with them. She couldn’t handle answers, and yet she couldn’t live without them.
Harrow had walked through so many abandoned and grotesque houses and factories and hospitals and cemeteries, but Gideon’s doorstep was the scariest place she’d ever gone looking for answers.
But she loved Gideon. Harrow was going to be brave for her.
This was what she was going to say, Harrow thought to herself, when the door swung open. It was ridiculous and plain and unpoetic.
I LOVE YOU AND I’M TERRIFIED AND I’M TRYING TO BE BRAVE.
But Harrow didn’t need to worry about it at all.
The door opened, and there was a woman on the other side, and that woman wasn’t Gideon.
“Hi!” said the woman, who had lovely brown ringlets and a sweet smile. She was dressed only in an oversized t-shirt. Harrow averted her eyes from her bare legs. “How can I help you?”
At first, Harrow thought: I knocked on the wrong fucking apartment, like a moron.
But then Harrow realized she was at exactly the right place, and that she was even stupider than she’d thought.
The sweet-faced woman was wearing Gideon’s t-shirt.
And then from inside the apartment, as familiar to Harrow as her own body, Gideon’s voice said, “Dulcie, I could’ve gotten that. Go sit down!”
“You were in the shower,” Dulcie shouted back. “Don’t worry your little butt off, darling! It won’t kill me to open a door.” She turned back to Harrow, giving her an expression like what a worrywort, am I right? Harrow felt sick. “Oh, you’re Gideon’s friend, aren’t you? You do the show with her.”
Harrow had to go. Before she vomited. Or fainted.
“Can you give this to her?” Harrow shoved the t-shirt at the woman, who took it curiously.
“Why don’t you come in?” said the woman named Dulcie. “Gideon’s just getting changed.”
Gideon’s voice shouted again, “Who is it?”
“Your cohost!” Dulcie yelled back. She might’ve turned to look at Harrow then, because she said, “It’s Harrow, isn’t it—”
Harrow was already at the exit.
[ENG1P03 TUTORIAL BAD GINGER 4:48pm] why’d you leave, weirdo? come back!!
[ENG1P03 TUTORIAL BAD GINGER 4:48pm] harrowwwwwww i wanted to see you
[ENG1P03 TUTORIAL BAD GINGER 4:49pm] also the shirt is FUCKING AMAZING I AM LOSING MY MIND
[ENG1P03 TUTORIAL BAD GINGER 4:49pm] PLEASE TELL ME YOU HAVE A MATCHING ONE
[ENG1P03 TUTORIAL BAD GINGER 4:55pm] dulcinea said you looked in a hurry. you’re not doing cool shit without me, are you?
[ENG1P03 TUTORIAL BAD GINGER 4:56pm] we were about to leave for the mall. you wanna meet us?
[ENG1P03 TUTORIAL BAD GINGER 5:26pm] harrow????
[ENG1P03 TUTORIAL BAD GINGER 7:38pm] palamedes told me you’re still at the studio. could’ve just told me yourself instead of making me worry, dumb ass
[ENG1P03 TUTORIAL BAD GINGER 7:40pm] i made dinner reservations for tomorrow for the whole team + dulcinea. 6pm at Canaan House. i’m sketching up mad schemes, my sweet. be there or be square! dress cute!
[Palamedes 5:30pm] Why is Gideon texting me asking you if you’re okay?
[Palamedes 5:43pm] Harrowhark? What happened?
[Palamedes 5:43pm] No fucking way she rejected you
[Palamedes 5:56pm] I told the idiot you’re still at work
[Palamedes 5:57pm] I’m so sorry, Harrow. Can you please just let me know you’re alive? Are you alright?
[Palamedes 7:46pm] We can find a way out of dinner. I can say we both got food poisoning from something we ate during the day.
[Palamedes 7:46pm] Cam might actually poison me.
TO: [Palamedes 8:02pm] I’ll be fine. And don’t worry about it. I’ll see you tomorrow at 6.
Harrow knew she didn’t have a right to be angry. Not at Gideon, at least.
Gideon and her weren’t together. They’d never talked about exclusivity because it hadn’t even occurred to her to ask—stupid. Gideon’s friend, Dulcinea, seemed nice enough, from the single minute that Harrow had spent looking at her bare legs, her body in Gideon’s t-shirt. Harrow was supposed to be happy that her best friend had found a hot girl to roll around with—maybe even a hot girl that she wanted to date. Dulcinea—Harrow remembered Griddle talking about the woman now. They’d won a BAFTA together, with Griddle on cinematography, and Dulcinea directing. They’d spent months in New Zealand filming.
Harrow was definitely not angry. She was definitely not on a Princess Diana revenge dress rampage because her fuckbuddy/best friend/love of her fucking life didn’t want her.
Harrow was fine. Harrow had not allowed herself a minute of sadness.
“You look lovely,” Palamedes said to her, when Harrow found the two cousins in front of Canaan House. 6pm, on the dot. Pal looked absolutely miserable. “I’m sorry.”
“You don’t have to be,” Harrow told him firmly. “I needed to come to terms with how I feel about her. This would’ve happened eventually.”
“You look hot,” Cam said to her. She made a twirling motion with her hand, and Harrow did so, spinning in her heels. The dress was short and red, and held aloft by precariously thin straps. “Seriously, Harrow. Nav’s going to realize that she’s missing out big time.”
Harrow shrugged. “Nav’s going to be too distracted by Dulcinea to notice.”
Palamedes made a strange sound. Cam froze.
Strangled, he managed, “Did you say—”
Dulcinea’s voice was softer than Harrow had recalled. Less playful somehow. Harrow turned, and saw her. She was wearing a sky blue dress, sitting in a wheelchair that Griddle was pushing smoothly up the street. The brunette’s face was slack, her rosy lips parted. If Harrow had been paying better attention, she would've noticed Gideon's eyes glued onto the bareness of her shoulders.
Instead Harrow was looking at Palamedes’ face, which was almost as red as her dress.
“Dulcie,” Pal said. He sounded absolutely wrecked.
“Shit, it’s really you,” Dulcie gasped. They were close now. Dulcinea rose shakily from her chair and flung herself into Palamedes’ arms.
Harrow stared. Her head was starting to ache.
Pal held her tightly. His eyes closed against the woman’s shoulder, and he said, tenderly as a person in love, “You cut your hair.”
Harrow looked away.
She felt dizzy. Her head was reeling, a torrent of what the fuck what the fuck what the fuck playing at full blast, splitting her brain into static. Harrow stumbled away to give Palamedes and Dulcie more room, and a hand touched her elbow, bringing her back.
Harrow glanced up at her. Gideon was looking at her with a wrinkled brow, as she pulled something from the pocket of her trousers. A scrap of fabric. Gently, she lifted it up to Harrow’s face, and started dabbing at her nose.
“You’re bleeding again, sweet thing,” Gideon supplied. A hand moved to Harrow’s jaw, tilting her head down as Gideon stepped closer, a conspirator's smile spreading across her lips. “You’re lucky I carry around hankies for you.”
Harrow flinched. Gideon frowned
“What is it?”
“I have to go,” Harrow said.
“What?” Gideon said. Dulcie and Pal were looking at Harrow now, Cam too. All their expressions were strange. “But—Harrow—”
“Enjoy dinner,” Harrow said, clutching her stomach. “Have fun. I’m just—not feeling too well.”
“Should I take you to the hospital?” Gideon’s eyes were wide, panicking now. Her hands were fluttering over Harrow’s frame. She cupped Harrow's elbows, pulling her closer. “Has this been going on since yesterday? You should’ve told me.”
“I’m fine, Griddle,” Harrow said, teeth gritted, pushing her away. She wished she hadn’t worn heels. Harrow couldn’t run in heels. “I’m leaving.”
Somehow, Harrow made it back to her car. She rested her head on the steering wheel, breathing deeply. The gore on her face was starting to dry, but it had dripped freely down to her chest while she’d hobbled into the parking lot.
Harrow’s door opened suddenly, and Gideon poked her head in.
“What the fuck is going on?”
Harrow lifted her head off the wheel and muttered, “I can honestly say that I have no clue.”
“Harrow,” Gideon said slowly. “Sex Pal said you had something to tell me.”
“That fucker,” Harrow snarled.
“I am so confused right now, Nonagesimus,” Gideon said to her. “And I’m driving you home.”
“No, you’re not,” Harrow argued weakly.
Gideon reached over, unbuckled Harrow’s seatbelt, and lifted her clean out of the car. Harrow let out a yell, flailing as Gideon held her vehemently, walking around to the other side, and depositing her in the passenger seat. Then Gideon went back and sat in the driver’s seat.
“Talk to me,” Gideon said.
“Not until I’m at home,” Harrow said softly. She couldn't look at Gideon—not without the pounding ache of rejection and desire rising up her throat. Gideon's eyes would break her if she looked into them, and she didn't want to leave Gideon with the mess. “Please, just wait until we’re home.”
Gideon let out a sigh. “Now you’ve got me worried.”
Harrow’s car rumbled to life. Gideon drove.
Harrow was standing in front of her bedroom mirror, using baby wipes to remove the bloodstains from her skin. Gideon was sitting on top of her duvet, watching Harrow’s reflection.
“You gonna tell me what’s up?” Gideon finally asked.
Harrow inhaled sharply. She turned, still in her heels, and glared. Gideon glared right back, expectant. A contender. Harrow was so fucking in love with her.
“You’ll answer me with real or not real, and that’s it,” Harrow said.
Gideon scoffed. “Like hell I—”
“You were going to give me sunflowers at graduation.”
Gideon flinched upright. Her mouth parted, staring at Harrow like she had well and truly lost it.
“Harrow, what the fu—”
“You were going to give me sunflowers at graduation,” Harrow repeated. She stepped closer. Her hands were trembling. “Because you knew they’re my favourite. Real or not real?”
Gideon was quiet for a long moment, head tilted to the side.
Then, she whispered, “Real.”
Harrow nodded, breath quickening. “You wished you’d kissed me back on that balcony.”
“You’re sleeping with Dulcinea,” Harrow said.
“What?!” Gideon stood up sharply. “Not real! What the fuck, Harrow? Why the fuck would you think that? I’m sleeping with you! Only you.”
“She answered the door in your shirt!” Harrow yelled. “You were in the shower, and she called you darling, and you won a BAFTA together and—”
"She’s into Sex Pal!” Gideon cried out. “She was his TA for an erotic Roman elegy course, like, five years ago, and they had some kinky whirlwind romance that got ruined because she was responsible for marking his papers! She didn’t even know I knew him until she got here. Didn’t you get my text? ‘Mad schemes?’ I made that reservation so that he and Dulcie could reunite and go on a fucking date! It was only for two ! I was gonna take you and Cam to get ice cream!”
“You were jealous,” Gideon murmured. She wasn’t nearly as smug as Harrow figured she’d be. Instead, she looked obliterated, heartbroken. “That’s why you left so quickly. Dulcie's luggage got sent to the wrong airport, that's why she was wearing my shirt. You thought I was—” Gideon stepped in close to her, taking Harrow’s hands in her own. Devastation shone in her face. Harrow backed into her own dresser. “You thought I was sleeping with Dulcie and you didn’t even put up a fight? You didn’t even say anything. Harrow, you should’ve barged into my apartment and yelled at me! You're the biggest skeptic I've ever met and—you were just going to believe that I didn’t want you?”
“Gideon,” Harrow said, weeping openly now. “Please shut up.”
“No,” Gideon pushed forward. She took Harrow's face in her hands and forced their gazes to meet. Gideon, fracturing, trembling just as much as Harrow, brushed their lips together twice. Like she couldn't help it, even when they were arguing.
“Answer me now. You know that I’m in love with you. You know that I’d give you anything you asked for, even if it was casual sex with the girl I want to fucking marry. You know that I’ve been in love with you since college, since you walked into poetry class on the first day and called me a stupid motherfucker. You know that I thought about you every single fucking moment I was gone, and that the minute I finished my work contracts, I booked the next flight to California to get back to you. You know that. Real or not real?”
Harrow sputtered, tears in her throat. “Since college, Gideon?”
“Real or not real?” Gideon demanded.
“Not real!” Harrow cried sincerely. “You never contacted me after college!”
“You said kissing me was a mistake,” Gideon said. “I should’ve fought harder, I know. I’m sorry. But I was so mad, Harrow, and stubborn. I wanted you to reach out first. And you didn’t, and then I just fucking missed you.”
“I thought I ruined our friendship,” Harrow said. “I thought you were so disgusted by the thought of kissing me that you literally dropped out of my life.”
“Disgust?” Gideon blinked. “Fuck. What the fuck? Harrow, you’re literally the sexiest person alive, that’s ever been alive, ever, and when you kissed me at grad, I thought I was hallucinating. I thought you were a ghost, or I was a ghost. That we were both dead somehow—”
“Gideon,” Harrow said, incredulous. “We aren’t dead, you idiot. I love you.”
She brought her hands to Gideon’s chest and shoved her backwards so she went ass first onto Harrow’s bed, staring up at her, eyes shining.
Harrow rushed into her lap, limbs tangling, lips slotting together feverishly as she tore open Gideon’s button-down. Pushed it over her shoulders, and revelled in her brown skin. In the hot flesh, and blood rushing beneath it, the bones and muscles that were strong and vibrant, and held Harrow tight. Their chests were crushed together, Harrow writhing hard in Gideon’s lap. Gideon’s hands slipped beneath Harrow’s dress, one going to her breast, the other seeking out the heat between her legs.
“This dress makes me crazy,” Gideon said, pulling her mouth away from Harrow's for the briefest of seconds. Her fingers were sliding roughly, finding a rhythm inside of Harrow. “You look so beautiful in red.”
“Gideon,” Harrow gasped, reaching sightlessly for her train of thought. “Gideon, we’re not ghosts.”
Gideon paused. Her fingers stalled. Harrow groaned, nails clawing across her lover’s shoulders.
But Gideon only smiled, gaze reverent, and brought their foreheads together.
She leaned up and kissed Harrow’s brow—a blessing. A promise; real.
And then her fingers started moving again, and Harrow's hips started thrusting onto them, and their bodies pressed close.
Gideon said, “That’s right, baby. We’re alive as fuck. Let me show you.”
They were filming the Unsolved season 2 premiere.
Harrow stepped out of their rental van, teeth gritted, and her feet crunched against desert sand. Palamedes, Cam, and Gideon, who had been respectfully waiting with their backs turned, finally craned their necks and beheld her. It was Gideon who burst out laughing, so hard she ended up on her knees.
“I am going to kill Mercymorn,” said Harrow simply.
“You look—” Gideon wheezed. “Like Toddlers and Tiaras —I fucking can’t—”
Mercymorn had decided to go big or go home. She’d greenlighted the funds to fly them out to Arizona for the finale episode, which Harrow was ecstatic about—but the day before they’d left, her producer had smiled gently at Harrow, and said that if they were going to explore a whole haunted town then they’d better look the part.
Thus the costumes.
Gideon was right—Harrow looked like she was about to square dance for the talent portion of a children’s pageant. She was wearing a long dark leather skirt, tassels dangling at the bottom, a plaid blouse and a little leather vest. Brown cowboy boots that went up to Harrow’s knees, but they were thankfully hidden beneath the skirt.
“Where’s your hat?” Cam said. “I know you’ve got one, Nonagesimus.”
Reluctantly, Harrow reached back into the van and grabbed her cowboy hat.
“Yeehaw!” Gideon yelled, because she was obnoxious. She crossed over and—minding the hat—pecked Harrow softly on the mouth before climbing into the van. “My turn to become a horse girl.”
“This is not what a horse girl is, Gideon!”
Harrow trudged over to her crew. Palamedes offered her a sheepish smile.
“I think the costume is nice,” he said. Even Camilla was nodding in support.
Harrow must’ve looked very dumb then.
It didn’t matter. In the twisted way that her life operated, Harrow had gotten what she wanted. She shone her flashlight into the desert ahead of her, illuminating the swarms of mosquitoes, and the dilapidated ruins of Vulture City. Time and dust storms had chewed up and spat out the abandoned mining town, leaving behind a mangled trail of skeletal architecture and rust. A KEEP OUT sign was erected not six feet away from them. Someone had written beneath it, in red ink: Help us.
“Christ, Harrow,” Palamedes said, setting up his camera to capture the B-roll.
“You did say to avoid places of a vertical nature,” she replied.
“Well, this whole town is going to be sand in another ten years,” Pal said grimly.
“I’ve been obsessed with Vulture City since I was a kid,” she explained. “I never thought that I’d actually get to see it in person.”
“Any ghouls yet?” Gideon asked from behind them. Harrow rolled her eyes. Both Camilla and Palamedes spun around, camera rolling.
Harrow called back, “Just you, my love.”
Then Camilla muttered under her breath, “Bruh,” which was so uncharacteristic of the woman that Harrow had to turn around.
Immediately, she understood what Mercymorn had been up to with the costume shenanigans.
Gideon’s legs were sheathed in form-fitting leather pants, a thick belt riding low on her hips. A holster hung from the belt, containing her stupid Nerf gun. Black cowboy boots. There was a brown vest, half-buttoned, and an off-white blouse beneath it. Her sleeves were rolled up to the elbows, revealing the strong lines in her forearms. The blouse was scarcely buttoned, revealing the deep, shining hollow between Gideon’s breasts. Harrow was staring at girlfriend blatantly. They all were.
If Harrow was a pageant princess, then Gideon Nav was pornographic.
It was fan service. It was Harrow’s punishment for getting #GideonsGhostStrap trending on Twitter back in May.
Gideon looked dangerous. She looked strong. Like she could outmatch anybody—outgun or outsmart them. She looked like she could’ve carried Cam, Harrow, and Palamedes without breaking a sweat.
“Honestly, I dig the pants,” Gideon said. She turned around so they could all admire her ass. It was a good ass, Harrow admitted to herself, a great, amazing ass. But she still hadn’t quite gotten past Griddle’s tits yet.
Gideon was looking at Harrow like she knew exactly what she was thinking.
“I think you’re going to crash the Internet, Nav,” Cam said. “Again.”
Gideon scoffed, “Oh, that’s exactly what Mercymorn wants. That weirdo.” She turned to Harrow and winked, putting on a ridiculous Wild West accent. “Down for a ride, sweet thing?”
Harrow laughed, blushing. “Yeah.”
Gideon smiled. She crossed the distance towards Harrow, plucking off her cowboy hat so that she could lean down and kiss her—good and slow and proper. Cam wolf-whistled.
“Cameras are rolling!” Pal squawked. Harrow flipped him the bird.
“Eloquent as always, Nonagesimus,” Gideon said affectionately, nuzzling her hair. She threw an arm over Harrow’s shoulder, and surveyed the ghost town. “You ready for this one?”
Harrow looked up at her, and smiled.
“I always am.”