“This wasn't what I was expecting.”
No one answered her, of course. Cordy stood at the entrance of a dark, dingy alleyway, hands resting on her hips as she glared into the darkness and addressed the invisible Powers That Be she was almost positive were watching and laughing at her. “You know what would be really helpful right about now, if you want me to down this creepy alleyway? Having that glow-in-the-dark power. You could have left me back with Angel,” she added on, in a much quieter voice.
There was no response. Of course there wasn't. Cordy had long since stopped expecting to get one of those. If this was what she should come to expect from her new bosses, maybe she'd go back and take that second chance of life they'd offered her.
The trouble was, they'd also shown her the consequences if she made that choice. And Cordy might have once made the choice that would only benefit her, but she was long past that stage now.
Of course, she was still Cordelia Chase, so even as she stepped into the alleyway, she couldn't help muttering, “I hope your higher planes has a good dry cleaning service.”
She didn't expect a response, but as she stepped into the alleyway, her whole body started glowing with a soft blue light. Looking down at herself, she murmured, “Yeah, okay. I'm glowing like a flashlight, but it's bettr than nothing.”
A soft whimper was the only response and Cordy stilled for a second before she began walking further into the alleyway. “Who's there?” She tried to ignore the slight quaver in her voice. After all, she was a higher being; and the Powers That Be wouldn't throw her into something she couldn't handle.
With the familiar voice came the figure of a blonde vampire. Her face shifting, Harmony snarled and recoiled from the light.
“Harmony?” Cordy was certain her disbelief carried through in her tone. Why would the Powers That Be send her here, to Harmony? Unless, of course, someone was in danger and she'd been sent to help them. She looked around, but all she could see was Harmony huddled against the alleyway, next to a set of stinking trashcans.
Cordy took a step forward and stifled a shriek when her foot sank into something soft. Higher beings did not shriek. That sentence became a mantra when she looked down and saw stacks of rat carcasses, all with tiny pin pricks in their bodies. “What are you doing here, Harm, instead of out terrorising some innocent humans?”
A quiet sob was the only response.
Reminding herself, yet again, that she was a higher being and therefore in no danger from a vampire – particularly one as vapid and shallow as Harmony – Cordy gingerly stepped over the small rat bodies and stopped a few feet from the vampire who'd once been a fairly close friend; at least as close as any of the friends Cordy had had before Buffy had arrived in Sunnydale.
Harmony was barely recognisable. Her blonde hair hung in ratty tails around her face and her red blouse was stained and torn. Her black pants were ripped at the knees and she was missing a high heel.
Cordy's first instinct was to place her hand on Harmony's arm; maybe to give her a hug. They hadn't been close back in Sunnydale, but they'd still been friends. Not that they'd been all that close. She stood still, eyeing the vampire warily.
Harmony's eyes darted towards Cordy's face and then away again. “Was I really so bad? Even as a human?”
Cordy was fairly sure her mouth was doing a good imitation of a fish. So far, she'd only seen two versions of Harmony; and neither were that different from the other. “Why are you here, Harm?” That wasn't the real question, though. The real question was what was Cordelia Chase doing here?
Harmony's smile held a mocking twist that carried through into her voice. “There aren't any people here. No sun. Lots of rats. And it's really easy to send people running.” Her face morphed back to her usual appearance.
Looking around the alleyway, taking in how dark and dirty it was, Cordy shook her head. “You wouldn't have been caught dead in a place like this.”
“I am dead.” Harmony's face crumpled and her shoulders hunched. “I should just stake myself and be done with it.”
A faint stab of alarm went through Cordy and she wrapped her arms around the vampire. “Don't say that.”
“Why not?” Harmony demanded, the tears thick in her voice. “It's true.”
The crack of Cordy's hand against her backside made Harmony jump and she sprang back, rubbing her bottom and glaring. “That hurt.” She vamped out. “You're not a vampire.”
“No. I'm a higher being. Which isn't what we're talking about right now. You don't talk about staking yourself.”
Harmony pouted. “I can't believe you spanked me.”
“I didn't spank you,” Cordy corrected. “I swatted you. If you'd like a more practical demonstration, just keep talking about staking yourself.”
Cordy couldn't help laughing. “I've always been mean, Harm. It's one of those things I never had to work at. But you can't call me mean for not wanting you to kill yourself. Even if I don't know what's brought about this sudden change of heart.”
Harmony put her hands over her face, muffling her voice as she said, “I got a witch mad at me. She had this orb and cast a spell and it glowed....”
“...And you got your soul back,” Cordy finished for her.
Harmony's nod was barely noticeable. “But it's not just what I did since becoming a vampire that's bothering me,” she whispered. “It's made me see everything I've been since ever.” She looked down at her hands and then shot a quick glance towards Cordy, but was only able to hold eye contact for maybe a second before she looked away.
At least now Cordy knew why the Powers That Be had sent her here. Deciding not to question their decisions (at least as far as Harmony was concerned), Cordy took a step closer to the vampire and grasped her arm. “You can't stay here.”
“No. You're right.” Harmony looked up, her face set. “You can kill me, Cordy. I'm too scared to do it myself, but I'll let you stake me.”
When the smack echoed this time, Harmony winced, but didn't pull away. Cordy used her grip on the vampire's arm to pull Harmony closer, against her chest, as she swatted again and again. The smacks sounded unnaturally loud in the alleyway and were quickly joined by quiet sniffles and soft whimpers.
Cordy didn't let up on the smacks. Even though something was apparently giving her the strength to swat a vampire and have it hurt (not to mention not breaking her hand in the process), she didn't want to give the accelerated healing a chance to kick in.
“That hurts,” Harmony whined finally.
“Of course it does. That's the point.” Cordy wrapped her arms just a bit tighter around Harmony, letting her hand slide a bit lower. She began to focus smacks to the tops of Harmony's thighs.
“Ouch.” Harmony squealed. “That hurts more. Stop it.”
“You want to know how to make me stop?” Cordy began focusing more smacks to Harmony's thighs. She didn't know what kind of effect the spanking was having on the vampire's skin. If she loosened her hold, it was highly likely Harmony would realise she wasn't helpless and start fighting back.
“Yes.” Harmony's voice came out in a higher pitch. She pulled one hand free from where it lay pressed between their bodies and threw it back to shield her thighs.
Undeterred, Cordy switched her focus back to Harmony's bottom; and when the vampire tried to block there, she resumed swatting Harmony's thighs. “You are not going to kill yourself or let anyone else kill you. As soon as it gets dark, you will go and find Angel. You will let him help you.”
“What if I say no?”
“You really don't want to do that. Not unless you want these pants to come down.” Cordy gave them a gentle tug, just to prove her point.
A quiet sob escaped Harmony and she pulled her hand away to wrap her arms around Cordy, pressing her head against the woman's shoulder. “No one cares enough to stop me,” she whispered through the sobs.
Cordy hugged Harmony a bit tighter and then pulled back just enough to look into her eyes. “I care. I can't stay with you right now and I'm sorry, but wherever I go from here, I'm going to keep watch over you.”
Harmony wiped her hand across her eyes and then reached back to rub her bottom, giving Cordy a trembling, hesitant smile. “Do you promise?” she whispered.
Cordy nodded. “But that means this spanking wasn't a one-time thing,” she warned. “If I think you need it, I'll be coming straight to where you are; and next time, it'll be over my knee.”
“Okay.” Harmony lurched back into Cordy's arms. “Thank you,” she whispered.
“Don't make me come back to spank you again,” Cordy said.
“Only if you promise that you will come back. Or, you know, send me a sign or something to let me know you're still around.”
“Of course I will.” Cordy slowly let go of Harmony as she felt a pull...a tug...on her soul. “I have to go now. But make sure you go to Angel. As soon as it gets dark. He'll help you.” And he'll need you, she added silently.
“I will.” Harmony gave a trembling smile.
“Good.” As Cordy's physical form began to dissolve, she addressed the Powers That Be. Okay, so now what do you want from me?