She worked as a bartender, at the bar closest to Remy's apartment. It was the kind of bar that college seniors and grad students went to when they wanted to feel worldly and mature and distant from beer pong tables and wet t-shirt contests, filled instead with posters from bands that had played there in the seventies and an ambiance of simplicity—four-top tables scattered around the room with plain black coasters on the plain wood, covered in faded black paint and the occasional piece of pocketknife graffiti.
Remy went there because she got tired of bartenders taking her keys and being forced to go home with her latest conquest or call a cab. Two blocks wasn't too far to stumble, alone or halfway to third base in drunken fumblings.
It wasn't what Remy was looking for—she wasn't, that is. A quiet barkeep with porcelain skin marked with occasional bruises and liberal amounts of red red freckles to match her red red hair, Megan was the kind of girl who would watch with a sad quiet smile as Remy called for her fifth vodka tonic on the rocks in the midst of her latest pickup, would hand her the drink and wave goodbye as she left with a new girl's hand in her back pocket and lips brushing against her neck while she shrugged into her jacket. Megan watched, night after night, and noticed the few days absence after Spencer and onions and House and ravaging disappointment, and even had the balls to mention it, the first night back when she offered her usual shy sad smile that barely reached her clear grey eyes and a vodka tonic on the rocks.
It was her first real challenge. It wasn't that she hadn't had to work for earlier conquests; no, House had been (as usual) right on the money when he said it was all about the challenge when she forewent men and unsure women in favor of the attractive, confident ones. It was more that, even though she couldn't put a label to it, something in her wanted to know why Megan's smile was always sad, where those bruises on her fair skin came from, why she was the only bartender familiar with her who hadn't yet tried to take her to bed or fix her with Barkeep Psychotherapy 101. She was a project, a slow-going marathon that occupied Remy's mind even when she was sitting at the bar with another girl, or nodding in response to her wave goodbye while she fumbled to locate her keys as a brunette doctoral candidate from Princeton half-wrapped around the doctor's thinning frame, thumb drawing maddening circles against her hipbone.
It was months after Spencer that she actually had a conversation with Megan, long after Remy had almost died so prematurely at the whim of a manic gunman, though that hadn't really changed much about her—she went through Foreman's drug trial and had never again let her personal life bleed into work, but she still went out every other night, and she still found her challenges, and she still worked diligently on her inexplicable progress with the redheaded barkeep by way of nods and waves and careful smiles and carefully casual salutations. It was a slow night, and Megan had looked sadder than usual as she offered Remy a small smile with her first drink, and Remy resolved herself to making actual progress in this unknown game tonight.
"Megan," she called out softly over the music as the redhead shuffled past after delivering another round to the raucous business-schoolers at the other end of the bar. Megan stopped abruptly, looking up and shaking her bangs out of her eyes, mirrored sadness eyes waylaid by an undercurrent of surprise.
Remy offered what she hoped was a friendly smile, and held up her empty glass. "Would you?"
"Sure," Megan said, pushing loose hair behind her ear and taking Remy's empty glass. "Vodka tonic, right?"
"Actually," Remy said, propping one elbow on the bar, chin in her hand. "I was thinking about branching out, broadening my horizons. Any suggestions?"
"Sure," Megan said. "You like scotch?"
"Of course," Remy said, smiling a little wider as Megan fetched a fresh glass and put together a drink for Remy. She accepted it with a polite nod, not looking away from Megan as she took a shallow sip. Her eyes fluttered shut as the smooth feel of expensive scotch slid down her throat, spreading warmth throughout her chest and stomach as she swallowed. Opening her eyes again, she noted with satisfaction that Megan was still watching her, and she smiled once more. "That is really good," she said softly, leaning forward just barely over the bar. "Thank you, Megan."
"You're welcome," Megan replied, stumbling as she appeared to realize she didn't know her patron's name.
"I'm Remy," the brunette said. She set her drink down and reached out over the bar, offering her hand. Megan clasped it warmly.
"Nice to meet you, Remy," she said.
That was the first.