It was a pity that things had turned out the way they had. Harmony had always quite liked crosses. Not crucifixes so much. Her family weren’t religious or anything, not really. And it wasn’t as though she had bought into any of that superstitious nonsense. She just found them reassuring, somehow.
Strange things happened in Sunnydale, and it was better to be safe than dead.
She was dead now, of course. Dead, and about to be prematurely returned to dust, by the look on the Slayer’s face.
They weren’t friends.
Never had been.
Buffy was weird. She spent a lot of time in the library, even though she didn’t seem that into books. She was always hanging out with Willow and those other freaks, even though she was really pretty and Cordelia seemed to like her and would probably have let her hang out with their group if she tried a little harder to fit in, and maybe spent less time in graveyards after dark.
She always seemed to be right there in the middle of everything bad that happened. Not causing the badness, just…there.
Maybe there had been a few less deaths in Sunnydale the last three years or so. Maybe, if Harmony let herself think about it, there might have been a couple of lifesaving incidents, and maybe some very small, well-hidden part of her mind had felt that some kind of debt had been owed.
There had been some consideration given to an offer of nakedness and chocolate syrup, but Buffy seemed to be heterosexual or vampiresexual, or something that was equally indifferent to cheerleaders, and a life debt wasn’t something you could walk away from just because you were scared.
She hadn’t been scared, really, not of what Xander had asked her to do for the graduation ceremony. It had been a welcome distraction from all of the endings that graduation symbolised.
If she were brave enough, maybe Buffy would see something in her that she hadn’t seen before. Maybe nakedness and chocolate were still on the cards. What could Buffy do, if she wasn’t interested? If she was shocked, or disgusted? They were never going to see each other again. There hadn’t seemed much left to lose.
So here she was, standing in her own open grave.
And there was Buffy, looking guilty but determined. Harmony almost felt bad for her. No way they could still claim to have the lowest mortality rate of any graduating class, not after a ceremony like that.
Not as bad as she felt for herself, though.
“You know what you are?”
“Yes.” What was the point of lying? Of course she did. She had grown up on a Hellmouth. She had seen things. She had pushed them as far to the back of her mind as they would go, but they were back with a vengeance. She didn’t want to be a vampire. She didn’t want to be dead, or be this hungry. Buffy looked a whole new kind of delicious.
“You know what I am?”
Death. The real, lasting kind of death. For the best, perhaps. Girls like Harmony belonged in the sunlight, not in dark cemeteries.
Buffy was holding a cross, though, not a stake. A cross, and a thermos that might have contained blood or hot chocolate or both.
“I have a proposition for you.”
Not the fun kind of proposition, her face said, but Harmony would listen. She was caught between the Devil and the deep blue sea, as her grandmother would say, the Slayer and the blazing sun. She was still Harmony Kendall. She would always choose the prettier of two evils.
“There’s someone I want you to get close to.”