My So-Called Unlife
Disclaimer: I do not own Cordelia (as if!), Harmony (whew!), or Angel (dang!); they belong to Joss Whedon and David Greenwalt. Iím just borrowing the three of them.
Spoilers: through "The Yoko Factor" for Buffy and "To Shanshu in L.A." for Angel.
Explanatory Note: I consider a vampireís sire to be not just the one who turned him/her, but the one who taught him/her all about being a vampire. Keep this in mind while youíre reading.
Note II: Thanks to Tanja for the beta-read.
Cordelia sat back on her couch, having some blessed "alone time." Not that she was ever truly alone in her apartment, but Phantom Dennisí presence was easy to ignore. Such wasnít the case with Wesley and Angel, who had somehow decided between the two of them that her home was their new base of operations. Not to mention the fact that Angel slept over most days. She didnít blame him for that; Wesleyís apartment was tiny and making a serious attempt at falling apart. Besides, Angel was a polite and clean guest, and if his nightmares (at least, she hoped they were nightmares) could get a bit vocal, at least he didnít snore.
And really, she didnít mind Angel and Wesleyís invasion of her life. In fact, it felt nice to know that they were comfortable enough with her to feel they could drop by at any time. It was something quite new and welcome for her. No matter how much she liked her boys, though, she needed her quiet time. Angel was off on a supply run, and as he tended to find demons or vampires to fight every time he was out, she knew sheíd have at least a few hours all to herself. She was currently vacillating between curling up on the couch with her afghan, hot cocoa, and a chick flick, or taking a bubble bath with a glass of wine and a bodice-ripper romance. The bath finally won out.
As she was getting up to prepare it, her doorbell rang. She fought a short mental war, then decided to answer it. If she didnít want to talk to whoever was disturbing her peace, she had a full repertoire of well-used and creative blow-off techniques at her disposal.
When she did open the door, however, she was temporarily stunned into immobility.
"Hi, Cordy!" chirped Harmony, her former minion, nominal friend, and back-stabbing enemy.
Cordelia shook herself. "Hi, Harmony. Wow, itís been . . . forever."
Harmony looked confused. "Itís only been a year. You knowógraduation and all. Thatís when I saw you last. Wasnít that a weird day?"
Cordelia shrugged. "Iíve had weirder."
"Is this your place?" Harmony peeked past Cordelia, eyes growing wide. "Itís gorgeous. Just like that television show . . . wait, itíll come to me."
"Isnít it fabulous?" Cordelia beamed and stepped aside. "Come on in. Iíll show you around."
Harmony entered, and Cordelia started the grand tour. "Hereís the living roomódonít you love the fireplace? Itís real, too, not one of those gas thingies. You know, the furniture came with the place, which is great because my afghan is so perfect with the . . ."
The tour was cut abruptly short as Harmony vamped out and grabbed Cordelia from behind. What the blond vampire hadnít taken into account was just how much experience Cordelia had gotten in fighting vampires and other nasties. The former teen queen didnít lose her head even for a second. Her elbow smashed into Harmonyís face, and she jerked away.
"Dennis! Crossbow!" shouted Cordelia. Her closet flew open and her personal crossbow, a gift from Angel, threw itself at her. Without arrows, of course. Harmony came at her again and Cordelia hit her hard with the crossbow on the side of the face.
"Ow! Bitch!" Harmony tackled Cordelia onto the couch, where the two continued their struggle. Cordeliaís sheer stubbornness wasnít quite a match for Harmonyís vampiric strength, and the blond was just gaining the upper hand . . .
When she was yanked away and summarily tossed across the room by Angel. The elder vampire placed himself between his friend and her attacker, vamp-faced and snarling.
Harmony whimpered, crumpled against the wall (which, Cordelia noted with some irritation, now sported yet another dent) and back in human face. "That wasnít nice."
"Nice doesnít enter into it," growled Angel, glowering. Pulling a stake from his coat, he advanced on Harmony as she stood, then pinned her to the wall and pulled back the stake, ready to dust her.
"Wait!" cried Harmony. "Youíre Angel, right? I wanted to talk to you. Thatís the whole reason I came to L.A. Donít stake me . . .please. It really hurts."
"You should have thought of that before you attacked Cordy," said Angel.
"I didnít mean to; I was hungry," protested Harmony. "Come on, canít we talk? I mean, weíre both vamps, and that gives us something in common, you know, and from what Iíve heard, youíre not supposed to stake your fellow vamps unless they really, really deserve it, and I donít think Iíve done anything really bad, I mean, I wasnít going to completely drain Cordy, so I really think youíre just totally overreacting with the stake and all . . ."
Cordelia appeared by Angelís side. "If he agrees to talk, will you SHUT UP?!"
Harmony perked right back up. "Okay!"
Angel reluctantly lowered the stake and relaxed into human face. "Weíll talk," he told Harmony, giving her his best glare, "but if you make one more move for Cordelia, youíre dust. Understand?"
The blond sulked. "Fine. You are so not fun." Her eyes darted back to Cordelia. "Are you sure I canít have just a little? Iím really hungry."
"Not even a drop."
"You know, that is so you, Cordy," Harmony sniped. "You are so selfish. I mean, youíre always thinking about yourself. Youíve got all that blood, and you wonít let me have any of it. Itís always about you. What about my needs? Doesnít anybody ever think of me?"
Cordelia took a step closeróat least, as close as she could get, as Angel seemed determined to keep his body between them. "You think about you enough for the both of us, Harmony. In fact, you think about you enough for all of L.A., possibly the world."
"Tramp!" Harmony lunged at Cordelia, only to be shoved up against the wall again by Angel.
"Iím a tramp?" asked Cordelia. "Who slept her way through the basketball team, then moved on to the swim team when she ran out of victims?"
"Enough!" Angelís voice cut through what looked to be developing into a nasty girl fight. "All right, Harmony. Thereís blood in the fridge if youíre so hungry. Then you can say what you came to say and get out. Understood?"
Harmony gave him her brightest smile. "Cool! Iíve never had it iced before." With that, she skipped off to the kitchen.
Cordelia watched her go. "I never trusted her while she was alive, and becoming a vampire never improved anyoneís personality that I can tell."
"Letís hear what she has to say. May be important," said Angel.
Cordelia gave a short laugh. "Harmony have something important to say? Not in this reality."
Harmony practically bounced out of the kitchen, a tall glass of blood with a straw in hand. "Is this O positive? I like AB negative better. Itís sweeter." She took a drink and began to sit down on the couch.
"No blood on the couch," said Cordelia and Angel together. Heíd gotten used to her house rules very quickly. Harmony grudgingly moved to a chair, and Angel and Cordelia took the couch. Angel kept himself between Harmony and Cordelia again.
"You know, I really thought youíd understand, Cordy," Harmony pouted. "Everyone from the old high school gang is so totally harsh now that Iím a vamp, you know, and Jeanne Montrose even keeps a bottle of holy water in her purse. Itís so uncalled-for. Do you know what that stuff does to my complexion? I thought that youíd at least be nicer, since youíre sleeping with a vamp . . ."
"Iím not sleeping with Angel!" Cordelia protested.
"Really?" Harmony blinked. "Why not? Heís yummy. Hey, if youíre not sleeping with him, could I . . ."
"No," said Angel
"No," said Cordelia.
Harmony slumped back into the chair again. "See? Iím, like, an outcast. Itís not my fault, you know. Itís not like I ever wanted to be a vampire. It just happened, you know. Like, when we were all fighting at graduation, this vamp caught me and bit me, and he was all drinking my blood, which I thought was really gross at the time, and I was trying to stop him, so I bit his hand, and he started bleeding, and I thought, hey, since heís getting all my blood, I should get his, and next thing you know, Iím digging my way out of my coffin, and it totally ruined my manicure and my best dress."
"Oh, poor Harmony," said Cordelia, voice devoid of anything remotely resembling sympathy.
Harmony, for her part, managed to miss the sarcasm. "Yeah! And then it was like I had to learn everything over. Do you know what itís like trying to put on makeup when you canít see your reflection? Or do your hair? Or choose your clothes?" She sucked a little more blood through her straw. "And then, youíve got to learn all this new stuff. My stupid sire got dusted at graduation, so I didnít have anybody to teach me about anything. I had to get a place of my own and learn to huntódo you know how hard it is to get bloodstains out of silk?"
"As a matter of fact." Cordelia yawned. "Does this get interesting anytime soon?"
"Youíre such a bitch, Cordy," Harmony said. "You always were. Perfect Princess Cordy, better than anybody else. At least I never got dumped by Xander Harris or lost all my money."
Cordelia fixed the vampire with her best Queen C glare. "At least I didnít spend months mooning over Larry, unlike someone I could mention who never figured out he was completely gay. And at least I always spent my money on what I wanted instead of waiting to see what everyone else was getting. You never had an original idea in your life, Harmony. In fact, original thoughts run screaming when they see the swirling black hole that passes for your brain."
Harmony thumped down her glass on a side table and jumped up. "I am so gonna kill you!"
"Try it, you vapid whore." Cordelia stood, ready to meet her.
Angel separated them againóthat is, he held Cordelia back gently by one shoulder and gave Harmony a rough shove back into her chairóand glared them both into submission. Once Cordelia sat down, he turned back to Harmony.
"All right, Harmony," he said. "You said you wanted to talk to me. So talk."
Harmony went back to pouting and sulking. "Well, itís like this. I never really had a sire, you see? So I donít know all that much about being a vampireóyou know, being all mean and snarly. I want to, but, I mean, I just donít scare anybody. Anyway, when Spike came to town, he scared everybodyóhumans, vamps, demons, even the Slayer. So I hooked up with him."
"Spike?!" The exclamation came from both Cordelia and Angel.
"Boy, he just canít find himself a woman whose brainís working on all cylinders, can he?" added Cordelia.
Either Harmony didnít hear that or didnít process it. She went on. "Anyway, Spike was always going on about the old days. If he wasnít moaning about Drusilla, he was bitching about Angel or whining about the Slayer and talking big about how he was going to kill her, which he never could, she just kicked his ass out of town, and now that heís got that chip in his head, she just uses him as a punching bag."
(Angel and Cordelia had, of course, heard about Spikeís chipping. It was, however, something that Cordelia strongly discouraged Angel from thinking about for fear it would endanger his soul.)
"So Spike got that chip, and then he started hanging around with the Slayer and all her friends, and I think thatís because I kicked him out when he came crawling backóIíve been reading, you know. Iím empowered!" She giggled happily.
Cordelia raised an eyebrow. "Wow, they make empowerment picture books?"
Harmony picked up on the insult this time and attempted to glower at Cordelia. She failed miserably. "For your information, I read that book by that woman who was on Oprah that one time. I learned that I do not need a man to complete me; I am all I need." She gave Cordelia a beatific smile. The brunette rolled her eyes. Harmony took that as encouragement to go on.
"Anyway, I tossed Spike out, and then I couldnít take him back because of, you know, the chip thing, and it was getting around that he was killing demons and vampires, so he was a total outcast, and I couldnít date a guy like thatóunlike some people who shall remain Cordelia." She took a sidelong glance at Cordelia, who was profoundly unimpressed by the insult.
"Harmony!" The exasperated exclamation had come from Angel. He pinched the bridge of his nose like he was suffering a bad migraine. "Harmony, what does this have to do with you wanting to talk to me?"
"Well, donít you see?" She wafted her hands, very nearly spilling her O positive. "I had to get out of Sunnydale because of those Army guysóit was getting all scary there. So I was all packed to leave, and then I had to hide because of those soldier guys, and it was too bad because they were all really gorgeous, and thatís when I saw you!"
Angelís head fell back. "When I came to Sunnydale."
"Yeah!" Harmony was giving Angel a look that was perilously close to hero worship. "You just took apart those four Army guys, and then you beat the crap out of Buffyís boyfriend . . ."
"You beat up Buffyís boyfriend?!" Cordelia interrupted, sitting bold upright. This was news to her.
Angel looked abashed. "Well, it was kind of an accident. I saw him, he saw me, we both took flying leaps to the wrong conclusions, the requisite macho posturing was exchanged, and we fought. That was it."
"What did Buffy say?" Cordelia was genuinely delighted with this new piece of information. It assured her hours of Angel-torturing fun. Maybe she could get Wesley in on the act. Or maybe it would be best to save telling Wesley in reserve as a blackmail option . . .
"She offered to beat us both up. Look, can we just forget about Captain Wonder Bread?" Angel looked so pained that Cordelia relented . . . for now. "Harmony, find a point."
"Well, the point is, you were so very scary!" Harmony gestured broadly, threatening to splash blood all over the couch. "You did that big jumpy thing, and then you got all fangy and Ďgrr!í and tossed Army guy around like a . . . a big beach ball! And when I was with Spike, it was Angelus this, Angelus that, I mean, he called you his Yoda. You were the meanest vamp ever, and I thought . . . I thought that if anyone could teach me how to be scary, it would be you. And since weíre kind of in-laws, you know, with Spike being my ex and all, only without the alimony . . ." She set her hand on Angelís knee, begging him with her eyes. "Would you be my sire?"
That did it for Cordelia. She surrendered to howls of laughter. She laughed so hard that Angel became slightly concerned about the fact that no one in the apartment was equipped to give her mouth-to-mouth. Cordelia herself worried about the state of her underpants if she didnít regain control of her bodily functions soon. Finally, she quieted, and Phantom Dennis obligingly passed her a box of Puffs.
Harmony was looking mightily offended at Cordeliaís hilarity. Angel hastily interceded before another round could begin.
"Harmony, didnít Spike tell you Iíve got my soul back?" the elder vampire asked.
Harmony gave an exasperated sigh. "Of course he did. He told me the whole story about how you got your soul and then lost it and how you were always screwing with Drusilla in front of him, and then you got it back and went crawling back to Buffy before she dumped you. Men!"
Angel gave a sigh of his own. "First of all, Buffy didnít dump me. Secondly, the fact that I have my soul back means that I donít kill humans, and I donít sire vampires. Find someone else to teach you the basics of mean."
"Oh, come on!" whined Harmony. "I mean, there must be something you can tell me. Is it my hair? Is my hair all wrong? I could change it, you know. Maybe go a shade darker, or wear bangs or something . . ."
"Find. Someone. Else," Angel stated flatly. He stared down Harmony as it sank in.
The blond vampire forcefully set down her glass, scattering droplets of blood, and stood, glaring at Angel the whole time. "Fine. Just fine. You know what? Iíll figure it out myself. Iíll wear leather. And find myself some minions."
("Minions!" gasped Cordelia as she began another round of laughter.)
"And a secret hideout. And . . . and then Iím going to kill the Slayer myself! Hah!"
It was a measure of how seriously Angel didnít take her that even that failed to get a rise out of him. Indeed, he actually cracked a smile imagining Harmony taking on Buffy.
Harmony continued ranting as she gathered up her coat and stormed to the door. "And you know what? Spike was so right about you! You are a poofter. And a nancy-boy. And a wanker! Whatever those are!" She flung open the door and flounced out, slamming it behind her. A moment later, she re-opened it and poked her head back in. "Cordy? Thanks for the blood, and I really love your place. See ya!"
With that, she was gone. Cordelia was still snickering, and Angel blinked.
"That is the sorriest excuse for a vampire I ever met in my life," he noted almost sadly.
"And this from someone who met the Gorch brothers," Cordelia pointed out. She shook her head, giggling again, and reached over to get the phone. Dialing a number, she waited. "Hello, Willow? Hi, Cordy again. No, no computer problems this time. Actually, I wanted a spell. You know that vampire de-invite?" Pause. "No, Angelís not evil."
"Why does everyone always think Iím evil?" Angel sighed.
"Actually, itís Harmony. Why the hell didnít anybody tell me she got vamped?" Very long pause. "Okay, you can stop apologizing. She didnít hurt me. You know what she wanted? She wanted to talk Angel into beingóget thisóher sire!"
Angel could clearly hear Willowís laughter emanating from the phone, as well as a "Hey, Buffy, waitíll you hear this!" He groaned softly.
After the laughter died down, Cordelia continued with her request. "About the spellóif you could just email it to me, Iím sure Wesley and I can do it tomorrow. Donít worry, Angelís here tonight, so Iíll be safe if she tries to come back." Pause. "Oh, nothing much. I got the mind-whammy put on me and ended up in the psycho ward, Wesley got blown up with Angelís apartment, and Angel chopped off a lawyerís hand. Whatís new in Sunnyhell?" Another very long pause. "Oh. Well, say hi to everyone for me, and donít forget that spell. Bye, Will." Cordelia hung up and sighed. "Yet again, Sunnydale wins the award for weird."
"Did you expect anything different?" Angel idly reached over to Harmonyís glass, and, after a momentís thought, tossed back its remaining contents. He and Cordelia relaxed on the couch together, sharing a comfortable moment. The silence was broken by Cordelia.
"Whatís a wanker?"
Long silence. Then: "Ask Wesley."