"Friends Among Thieves"

The mall was well lit, despite the power outage. Sunbeams shone through the skylights and lit up the larger portion of the building, causing the still clear water of the fountains to sparkle and reflect rainbows on the walls. Everything was relatively intact even for a recently deserted town. If the threat of vampires and rats wasn't such a problem, several of the Potentials considered moving into it. It beat sleeping in the crowded Summers' home. They didn't let Buffy know this though, they whispered amongst themselves before separating from the group and exploring on their own. It was the only thing Buffy had let them do by themselves since they had arrived.

Dawn found herself following closely behind Amanda, the only girl in the house she was able to be in the same room with without feeling invisible. They were still getting to know each other; it was hard to since Buffy kept all of the Potentials training most of the day. They only had Mondays and Fridays to themselves, and only if Amanda wasn't too tired from working out all day, did they sneak out to the abandoned theatre and watch all the old movies the owners had left behind.

She was bold enough to label them 'friends'. Hell, if she thought about it hard enough she would swear up and down they were a team, a duo. When a vampire would follow them to the theatre, they were able to handle it. Dawn distracted, Amanda stuck – she was the brains, Amanda was the brawn. Wam. Bam. Perfect.

So being there, standing in the dark Claire's was a rush. She had never done this with anyone - not Tara, not Spike, not any of the nonexistent friends of the past. This was a sacred ritual of a friend in her mind. A friend who wasn't attached to anyone, just you. Just you and me and this battle we've been thrown into.

Amanda picked through the jewelry like a high price thief searching for the best diamonds. "Dawn? Can I ask you something?"

She was sorting through the rings, searching for anything blue. "Ask away."

There was a jingle as jewelry slid into a backpack. "Have... have you ever had a best friend?"

The question made Dawn stop, tossing a concerned look over at the lanky teen amongst the shadows. "Not really. Never really got to know anybody except... Tara. Possibly Spike. No one really stays long enough to count as a best friend." That last part made her feel horrible, because it was unbelievably true. Everyone she even considered her friend was either dead or too busy with their own lives to register hers. It made her feel unreal all over again.

Something thin, but metal struck her chest and slid off towards the floor before she caught it. Lifting it up, Dawn saw the outline of a key on a chain and felt her heart skip a beat. Keys always did that to her – they always reminded her what she had been for thousands of years. "What's this?"

The light coming from outside the shop caused something around Amanda's neck to glint. "Sorry, it was the only thing I could find. Its one of those best friend necklaces with the heart and key? I never had one before. I figured since you hadn't either... than what have we got to lose?"

Without even considering the normalcy of the moment, Dawn quickly clasped the necklace around her neck and then began to run her fingers over the key. It was funny. It was hilarious. Here she was standing in a store getting a best friend's necklace, like some normal girl- and yet, they were in an abandoned mall waiting for the world to end any minute. They could both die tomorrow and here she is just getting her friend first friendship necklace.

Dawn began to laugh. Not just a soft chuckle that made it known to everyone that something was silly – but a gut-shaking laugh that startled Amanda and broke the stillness of the world around them. It wasn't long before her friend realized why. "Um, if you want, you can have the heart."

The laugh got louder, the brunette resting her head against the glass earring case.