Dying was the scariest thing to ever happen to her, and that included the time Jonathan had sung to her at her Sweet Sixteen. That had been the good kind of scary — overwhelming and just intense. His warm brown eyes had pinned her to her seat, his gorgeous voice flowing over her eardrums and right down her spine. …want to love you forever, and dream of the never, never, never leaving Harmony… She was still surprised she hadn’t died right there on the spot, her heart exploding while the rest of her just melted away. But yeah, actually dying was much less pleasant. And more painful.
She couldn’t see herself in the mirror anymore.
With Jonathan, there wasn’t so much pain as exquisite emotion, which sometimes felt a lot like you’d imagine pain would. Ms. Barton had taught them that when they were doing the poetry section in junior year, and she still couldn’t separate the words from the way she felt whenever he glanced her way. She knew he’d never really be her boyfriend or anything, but that didn’t matter. So, nope, she didn’t hesitate for a minute to follow him into battle against the Mayor, for all the good she’d done.
The first time she looked up from washing her hands and saw nothing there, she was so scared she almost died all over again.
It’s not like she’d died on purpose. She was pretty sure the vampire thing was just an accident. Nobody asked her what she wanted or anything. The agony of having a big bite taken out of her neck was eclipsed later by the trampling and blunt trauma. There was blood flying everywhere — human, demon, vampire. She’d never know who sired her and — since the bad guys lost —whoever it was is probably dust now anyway.
Sometimes she got a little mesmerized by the nothing in the glass. Was that her now? That nothing?
She didn’t know what to do with herself when she first rose. She’d thought she’d have a nice summer abroad before starting her freshman year at Cal State Northridge. Suddenly, France and college were both out. Her parents were great, but there was a limit to what they could do for her. They’d been freaked when she’d died, and showing up undead a few days later could never undo what the shock of losing a child had done to them. She got that. She totally got that they had to think about her little brother’s future, too.
Other times she got so mad when she couldn’t just check to see if there was spinach in her teeth or something. Except it wouldn’t be spinach. Still, it was unfair.
Her friends were gone. Cordy had gone to LA to be a big star, and the rest followed through with their summer plans. Mostly they’d stuck around for the post-graduation memorial, but she got the feeling that they were uncomfortable around her, now. The nicer she was, the quicker they left town.
She smashed a few mirrors the first few weeks. What good were they?
She thought about getting a job, for a while. The fields she’d tested into during Career Week were administrative support and marketing. She’d never made it to the marketing seminar, what with the crazy cop lady shooting Oz before Jonathan and that Jamaican exchange student had overpowered her. Her dad had made a few inquiries, but there didn’t seem to be a lot of openings for administrative assistants after dark, even in Sunnydale. She tried to keep a positive attitude, but after a month or so she started to feel really down in the dumps. Of course, that’s when she met Spike.
“Hello, baby hello,” he’d sing songed quietly when he overheard the bartender saying her name. He had such a sweet, sad smile, even in profile. For the first time, she didn’t feel that she had to save herself for Jonathan. He’d never look at her again anyway, except to stake her. She might as well get used to the idea and try to, well, unlive a little.
“Hey! You know the song! Not many people our age get it.”
He glanced at her. “Think I’m a bit older than you, darlin’. I remember it, alright.” He hummed a few lines, crooned, ”You’re not unlucky knowing me,” and gave her a wink before downing his shot. He turned to face her fully, leaning back on the bar, one boot hooked on the rail. His eyes took a leisurely tour of her, making her shiver, before settling on her face. He crackled with all the confidence she seemed to have lost.
“Mind, wouldn’t say I’m a big fan, but Elton did have his moments. Now they’re naming pretty little things after his ditties. Almost like the old sod’s got a legacy. Care to dance, sweet Harmony?”
He made her feel kinda floaty, though that might’ve been the rum and diet cokes. The evening passed in a sparkly disco ball blur, with Spike dancing her around, singing little snatches of songs into her ear, finally taking her hand and leading her out into the night. They’d grabbed a late night snack on the way to his place. Nobody Harmony knew, thank god. It wasn’t her first date, not exactly. But it sort of was, too. You know.
The next afternoon when she woke up, he was still asleep. His face was smushed into the pillows, so she was able to get her first good, long look at a (mostly) live naked man. She felt a little disloyal, but his body was just as gorgeous as Jonathan’s, at least going by the swimsuit shots in the calendar. Maybe she could finally move on from her teenaged crush. For once, it seemed possible.
How important was it to have a reflection, anyway? Wasn’t it more important to be able to make other people smile than to check your own?
She’d felt so good, maybe for the first time since she died. That only lasted until her phone rang. Spike, it turned out, didn’t like her ringtone — “Harmony” what else? — at least not first thing in the afternoon. As time went on, it turned out he didn’t like very much. Most of all, he didn’t like her. She was better off without him.
So here she was, back living in her parents’ pool house, Rosa keeping the mini-fridge stocked with bottles of blood. It was boring and lonely, but at least she wasn’t being dumped on all the time. And tonight would be fun. She gave her hair and makeup her best shot and then took a few pictures of herself from different angles with her cell phone. After a few small adjustments, she was ready to go. She might have to sit in the back, as inconspicuous as possible, but she would still get to hear Jonathan sing. He might never know it, but she would always be his never, never, never leaving Harmony.