The thing with Harris was, he clung. Like electroplate. Something good bonding onto something cruddy, making it seem better than it was, inexplicable process that that was. Rim of…well, not gold, maybe. Rim of let’s say bronze over let’s say iron. Which was painting a lovely picture for what it really was, which was fucking and let’s not split hairs.
The problem with Harris was, he thought it was more. Didn’t say it, wouldn’t ever say it, but said it anyway, with happy eyes and rotten jokes and being there. Bloody being there all the time. Bouncing back. Didn’t matter what bit him, bruised him, cut little bits out of his hide. And that was a slithey that wouldn’t tove again. But here he came every time, bobbing back to the surface, unsinkable. Unbreakable. There was another word for that. Irre-- Irre-something. Couldn’t remember. Bloody Darla.
So the thing about Harris was just that—the irre-somethingness of him, the way he clung, the way he hoped. For more. For not just a fuck but a cuddle, a pat on the head, some afterglow. Couldn’t fucking have it. Not allowed. Creature of the night, and watch your bloody Hammer, will you? Need a throat torn out? Nun terrorized? Evil plot to overthrow whatever? Done. Creature of the night does not rent videos. Doesn’t pick up a pizza on the way to see you when you’re off patrol because something with a mouth like a candelabra sank a tooth in you. Creature of the night does not wake up, look over, see you lying curled asleep and think…anything stupid. Because you may be irre-something, but you’re human. Not built to last.
Latter-day Angelus, circa 1896, was a morose, cantankerous bastard, but he wasn’t an idiot. He’d been around long enough that you listened to what he thought, even when mostly he thought you needed a kick in the teeth and three days underground. You just tried not to be there for that part. But he wasn’t an idiot. He said it very clearly, once. Don’t fuck what you eat, boy. Or if you do, eat it fast, before you have a chance to notice it has eyelashes and a watch tan. Think about that and next thing you know the world’s widdershins, and it’s hard to disagree with the ghost voice telling you, as you fall asleep afterward, that you’re a bit of a waste.
The thing about Harris was, he was all wrong. Wrong time, wrong place. Wrong everything. He should have been languid and angular over a hundred years ago, should have worn waistcoats, his hair too long and his collar too loose, tapered fingers and a taste for falconry. Should have had opium eyes and that same willing mouth and a life worth throwing away. Sometimes he grabbed hold so hard it hurt, and there could be a second of confusion—he’s human? What if he weren’t? What if. Sometimes, a creature of the night was allowed to think these things.
But he was. And that was the problem with Harris. He was victuals. A walking sweets trolley. Crème caramel, tarte tatin, and Sunnydale was no place to be toothsome. Sooner or later someone was going to take more than a nibble, and there’d be nothing left but crumbs and godless sweatshirts. The whole thing was ridiculous. Had to stop. A fuck was one thing, sometimes seemed like everything, but this-- Suicide. And he’d done his share of dying.
The thing with Harris was, you could have this conversation with yourself a hundred times. A thousand. It’s no good, it can’t go on, not you but me, fuck off. More than fifty ways to do that. But did you ever do it?
That was the thing about Harris.
Perish was the result of a game played with several kind folks on LiveJournal. They submitted words to me, and I tried to make a coherent narrative with them. Success? Well, success is overrated. But the words were:
They were used in order of submission.