Summary: AU Orpheus tag: Fred's brilliant one-night-stand plan hits a snag.
Word count: 1134
Notes: Written for femslash_minis Round 144 Remix Round. This story is a remix of brutti_ma_buoni's story Opportunity, Fleeting
Somewhere between the first beer and the third taco at La Cocina Antigua, Fred gets distracted by Willow’s haircut.
Fred knows every trick in the book for maximizing physical attractiveness. She learned it partly through osmosis growing up in Texas, and partly through a systematic study of beauty and fashion magazines. It’s why she’s wearing her shortest miniskirt and highest heels tonight.
Willow’s hair is a mystery, in terms of attractiveness-maximization. There’s one strange face-framing layer, and the rest of it just hangs down. The face-framing layer would work with an overall shorter cut, like a bob that stopped just short of her shoulders. The longer hair would work if it were all one length, for a Disney princess look. Or she could go with multiple layers to lighten the weight, and maybe let a little natural curl come through. That weird layer looks too tidy for Willow to have ineptly cut it herself, so it’s a deliberate choice she’s made, and it’s not obvious why.
Fred has known women, especially in college, who try to reverse the equation and minimize attractiveness. But that doesn’t seem to be what Willow’s going for. Her hair is colored just the right shade of red to complement her pale skin, and her makeup brings out the green in her eyes. Clothes are a little drab, but it’s hard to draw conclusions from someone on an emergency road trip to re-ensoul a vampire.
Fred’s a virtuoso multi-tasker, so she keeps a steady stream of chatter going while she’s pondering the haircut mystery. By mutual unspoken agreement, they keep the conversation light--hypothetical apocalypses only. Oh, gosh, did she just yell out her mad-scientist fantasy of demagnetizing the poles and opening all the Hellmouths? During a momentary lull between Ricky Martin songs? Her face flushes hot, and not from the habanero salsa.
But Willow just laughs and offers up her latest doomsday scenario about microscopic airborne demons that could find their ways into everyone’s lungs before anyone even notices that the demons exist. “We’re lucky most demons make themselves visible and oogy-looking,” she says, between bites of barbacoa. “It’s kinda considerate of them.”
Back at the Hyperion, Fred holds out a hand to Willow, and says, "I think… no, I know, we don't live the kind of lives where there's time to waste. So… You want to come to bed?” They’ve been kissing all the way back from the restaurant, so all signs show the plan is working, but her heart’s still pounding as she says it.
Willow grins. “I second your motion for day-seizing.” Then she kisses Fred again, with a little more intensity than before, and as they reach the bedroom, Fred has the delightful feeling of having committed the perfect crime. They’ve found a short respite from the demands of the world, and aside from the girl Willow’s seeing (which isn’t Fred’s problem), there are no complications. Then Willow slides her hand under Fred’s skirt. Fred gasps as her overactive brain finally yields to pure sensation.
The next morning, Fred wakes up wrapped around Willow, who’s talking very earnestly in her sleep about pineapples and piles of crackers. The scent of incense from the spell still clings to her hair. Fred breathes it in and smiles.
There’s a little awkwardness once Willow wakes up, but there are no morning-after regrets. Willow packs up her stuff for the trip home, and makes her way to the lobby. Fred follows her out.
The feeling of getting away with something continues, right up until the point where Willow starts pleading with Faith to come back to Sunnydale, and Fred feels a stab of jealousy.
Not that kind of jealousy, of course. Willow’s making her case in all seriousness, without a single flirty glance or gesture in Faith’s direction. It does sound pretty dire--the Watcher’s Council gone, an ancient enemy that can’t be killed, and a bunch of mostly-untrained teenaged girls, one of which could be the next Slayer.
Finally Faith snaps, “Okay, Red, I get it! It’s an all-hands-on-deck world-ender. I’ll go, if you’ll stop yapping about it for five seconds. I gotta go tell Angel.”
When Faith gets up, Fred grabs a couple of books, and makes her way over to Willow. She summons up a little of the boldness from the night before. “I could come help, too. There are a couple of volumes here that might offer some insight on the Hellmouth. I could help translate, or just be another set of eyes on research projects.”
For the first time since she got here, Willow looks flustered.
Fred’s grip on the Pergamum Codex slips a little; she just wants to go hide somewhere. She’s completely misjudged this. She tries to give Willow an out. “If this is just something where someone without super-powers will just get in the way, I understand.”
Willow blinks, and shakes her head a little. “No, I didn’t mean that. We could really use someone who’s scary smart and understands that weapons have progressed since medieval times. I mean, we hardly ever use modern technology for slaying, but the rocket launcher and those explosives in the library worked perfectly. And I’m babbling, again.”
She sighs, and looks down at her hands, clearly struggling with whatever she’s going to say next. “If you’re thinking about coming to Sunnydale, you should know that the magic’s not gonna be as easy as the soul restoration.”
“That was easy? It looked exhausting to me.” That’s a rather sobering thought; watching Willow restore Angel’s soul was kind of thrilling, but Fred never had any doubt of the outcome.
Willow nods. “All this badass Wicca stuff is mostly an act. My spells in the last couple of months have ranged from ‘just barely under control’ to ‘so completely berserk that someone had to physically stop me.’ And my personal life is kind of a mess. The girl I’m seeing might be un-thrilled about last night.” After a momentary pause, she adds, “I just don’t want you to come to Sunnydale under a false impression.”
And then Fred understands. Willow’s hairstyle is a warning signal. Like Willow, it’s far from perfect.
Fred hands the book over to Willow. “I appreciate your honesty.” And before she can give the wrong impression, she adds, “But I still wanna go.”
Maybe this is a huge overreaction to the latest revelations about Wes. Maybe this is just diving into yet another love triangle because she subconsciously loves the melodrama. Maybe this is signing up to watch Willow, who she really likes, self-destruct in an agonizing way.
But what’s happening in Sunnydale sounds positively epic. She’ll have the once-in a lifetime chance to see two Slayers square off against the oldest evil in the universe
And the chance to solve other Willow-related mysteries.