Of All The Werewolves In All The World...
The bar is crowded and filled with smoke that tickles at my wolfish senses. Normally I avoid places like this since leaving Sunnydale; too much confusion and too many overwhelming smells, and people by the score. But I heard about this place from a dryad I ran into a few days back, and she said there was a teacher that came here sometimes that could help me figure a few more things about my wolf-self.
I feel like Luke Skywalker searching for Ben Kenobi in the Star Wars cantina.
This place is filled with creatures of all sorts; vampires, werewolves, demons, and lots of things I've never even seen or heard of before.
I manage to find a seat at the bar between a vampire and some huge hairy thing with eighteen eyes, and pick up a menu. The entree of werewolf steak gives me pause, and I wonder idly, morbidly, what kind of sauce goes with that. The menu is filled with weird and exotic fare, and the only thing I can find that looks mildly appetizing and familiar is French fries. Greasy potatoes it is.
I give my order to the blue-skinned girl behind the bar--who looks like a demon that got caught halfway through a metamorphosis between an Orion Slave girl and a Klingon--and try to figure out a nonchalant way to ask about the guy I'm looking for. Not as easy as you might think. In a place like this, name dropping could probably get you killed about as easily as getting you what you want.
The vampire next to me seems chatty and nonchalant by comparison. I can only see the back of her blond head and I can't hear a word she's saying over the atrocious band that's playing up onstage, but she seems relaxed and at ease. I watch her for another moment or two out of the corner of my eye, and when she pauses for breath, I reach out and tap her on the shoulder.
She turns, and there's a moment where we're both struggling to make sense of what we're seeing. Wide-eyed and blinking, the message finally clicks solidly into my brain that yes, this is someone I know.
"Oz? OZ!" Harmony's eyes are just as wide mine, and her voice squeaks on an ear-piercing shrill note as she throws her arms around my shoulders. I'm a little unsettled by this--to some degree, all sudden hugs seem like a form of attack--but since she's not crushing me, I assume, that for some strange reason unbeknownst to me, she's actually happy to see me.
"Harmony," I return, trying not to choke on her hair.
"Oz!" she goes on as she pulls back and looks me up and down. "You look..." she pauses, her wide grin faltering for a second. "Well, you look like you've been living in the woods, but it's so good to see you!"
I nod. "The woods here are nice. Very posh."
"Oh." She doesn't have much to say to that, but she shrugs and plows on in the true spirit of a former cheerleader. "So how have you been? Have you seen anyone lately? What are you doing here?"
She didn't even talk to me this much when she was dating Devon.
"I'm good." I pause, wondering again how to bring up the subject. "Actually, I'm looking for someone."
"Ohh," Harmony says with a knowing smile, a light coming into her eyes that frightens me just a little. "You're 'out on the prowl'." She brings her hands up in what I assume is an imitation of werewolf claws and giggles. "Well, I don't do werewolves, but I'm sure there's someone here that would-"
I stop her in mid-sentence as she's looking around for likely candidates. "No. Not like that. There's this guy that comes here sometimes--"
"Wait. I thought Willow was the one who turned gay?" she interrupts, eyes narrowing as if she thinks I might be messing with her.
That actually causes me to wince a little, and the sharp pain deep down in my chest that's never quite gone flares to life for split-second at the sound of her name.
"I'm looking for a guy who can teach me..." That doesn't sound right either, so I try again. "Who knows about werewolf stuff..." I trail off, realizing at this point there's nothing I can say that's not going to come out sounding like innuendo.
"Impressive band," I say and nod toward the stage.
"Are you kidding?" Harmony asks, giving me a look like I might have just sprouted a second head.
"Actually, no. Anyone who can make Dingoes Ate My Baby sound good by way of comparison is pretty impressive."
As if on cue, the band stops.
For a second, everyone is standing around, confused and surprised, and then the room erupts in pandemonium as someone yells over a loudspeaker and the room floods with uniformed bodies.
"This is the Paris Police Department. Please remain calm."
Harmony turns to me, looking frantic. "What are they saying?"
"They want to make sure we all have our papers." I pause listening, and look at Harmony. "Do you know anything about the Paris Paranormal Registration Act?"
"Um, no?" she says, as if asking if it's the correct answer.
"Then I'm thinking we should probably run."
Everyone else in the room is panicking, flooding the back door, pushing and shoving. The guy next to me yells in anger, and I see his face morph into a vampire's feral snarl. The next second, a cop is screaming and there's human blood all over the bar.
"Yeah. Definitely run," I agree with myself and hop up onto the bar, thinking it might be safer for the time being to hide behind it.
"Don't leave me!" Harmony shrieks, panicking, and then she's jumping up on the bar and following me as I duck down behind it.
Great. This is just what I need.
There are screams and cries from beyond the bar where we're crouched, and I can catch glimpses of what's happening where the bar opens to the room at the far end--though really, I'd rather not. It's turning into a bloodbath out there.
An officer rounds the end of the bar, his pistol shaking in his hands as he points it at both of us, and I can see the fear in his eyes, smell it on his skin. It stirs something deep down in my chest, something more primitive and instinctual than the pain I felt earlier, and I have to take a deep breath, count to ten, calm myself. Next to me, I hear Harmony growl low in her throat and realize I have bigger problems than wolfing out.
"Growling tends to make them shoot," I whisper, trying to warn her with my eyes.
"Not if I suck out his blood first," she answers, and I put a hand on her arm.
"You want me to leave you?"
She debates, then frowns, pouting as she answers. "No."
"Then don't eat the policeman."
We put up our hands, and the officer, still holding the gun with one hand, slaps a pair of handcuffs on one of my wrists, attaching the other cuff to Harmony's wrist. He yells at us to stay put and I nod, then he runs off down the bar.
"Great. Now we're handcuffed together. And your nail polish totally clashes with mine. You should have let me eat him," she says, accusatory.
I glance down at my nails, impressed by her skills of observation at a time like this. "It's black. It's the absence of all color. Technically, it goes with everything."
"It's passe," she corrects me, tossing back her hair. "And now I'm gonna have to look at it next to my seventy dollar French manicure all night." She stomps her foot and looks as if she's about to break down in tears. "This sucks!"
"I really agree." I look down at our wrists and shrug. "But they're just handcuffs. You should be able to break out of them with your vampire strength, right?"
I can almost literally see the light bulb flare to life over her head. She grabs the cuff with her free hand, and squeezes. I glance away, expecting metal pieces to fly, but after a second, when nothing happens, I look back.
The cuff's just as perfect as before.
"Huh. I thought vampires were supposed to be strong?"
"Yeah, well I thought werewolves were supposed to..." she fumbles, searching for an insult. "Have hairy palms!" She stops short and stares down at her hand--which is way too close to mine--in horror.
"That's a myth," I say. Werewolf folklore; they get some of it right, but I think people were eating a lot of 'natural' mushrooms back in those days.
"Ew! Gross! Get your hairy palm away from me!"
"Keep trying," I say, and test the strength of the cuffs with my free hand.
"Who put you in charge, anyway?" she whines.
"Oh." She pouts and dutifully goes back to trying to break the cuffs. After a few minutes we both give up.
"They're too strong!"
"They must make these especially for paranormals," I muse.
"Oz, they're gonna put us in jail! Together! What if someone sees me? My reputation--"
"I'll tell them you were framed."
"Would you?" She gives me a smile that's almost sweet. "Oh, that's so sweet of you. Maybe it won't be so bad, you know? We could play twenty questions, or word association to pass the time."
I consider that for a long moment.
"Or maybe we could get out of here."
We push our way through the dwindling crowd, past a few officers that I manage to keep Harmony from killing, and finally escape through a broken window. When we get far enough away through the surrounding woods that we can't hear the cacophony of noise coming from the bar, I stop and lean against a tree.
Harmony's looking at me with an expectant grin that I'm already learning to dread.
"So did you think of anything?" she asks, and I wonder for a moment if my tendency to be obscure is rubbing off on her.
It all becomes clear with her next question.
"Is it bigger than a breadbox? Oh, and it can't be an actual breadbox, because that's my thing, okay?"
Of all the werewolves in all the cities in all the world, she had to be handcuffed to me.
It's going to be a long night.
Written for the "Choose Your Author Ficathon" by request – Oz & Vamp!Harmony