Where was a girl to start investigating her new reality? Well, since TPTB hadn't been kind enough to provide her with high-speed internet access, she decided to start with a place she'd become most familiar with as a Scooby - the library.
Oddly enough, this brave new world of hers had libraries that were open until midnight. Which apparently was one of the cultural side effects of having vampires as U.S. citizens. Yep, Cordy nodded. Vampires were people too, not evil demons, at least according to the popular propaganda. Everyone knew they existed. They owned homes and businesses and led productive, if nocturnal, lives. Vampires could marry, and apparently there was even a political movement to give them the right to vote.
"Undead-Americans," she muttered, digging deeper into her research. Good thing it was her and not Buffy who had ended up here, as in this world, killing vampires was a crime. Though, ironically, in some states it was still legal to kill lycanthropes on site. "Good thing Oz isn't here, either."
The library was ready to close long before Cordy had her research done. Unfortunately, The Powers That Be had seen not seen fit to gift her with a library card. Sighing with frustration, she was back on the streets of St. Louis again, low on cash and with no place to go. If they were going to send her to a parallel universe to "see what others could not," the least TPTB could have done would was provided her with a hotel room - preferably in a four-star hotel.
Her stomach growled, reminding her that she hadn't eaten in a while. Thinking of her meager funds, she realized that she'd be lucky to have enough to spend one night at Motel 6 by the time she was done. Damn Powers.
She'd been walking for a little while when she realized she wasn't in the best part of town. In fact, she was in the vampire area of town, known as the 'Blood Quarter.' At least things were open all night down here - though she doubted she'd want to eat at a vampire restaurant, even if there was such a thing. Who knew what would really be in the 'special of the day?'
There was a huge line of scantily-dressed club-goers outside of Danse Macabre, and just about everything else seemed...well, sort of skanky, and a bit scary. The place called Guilty Pleasures seemed to be doing booming business, both of the live and undead kind, and didn't have much of a line at all. She could investigate. Hopefully, it would be as good a place as any to take a break, Cordelia thought.
The pounding beat of the music nearly knocked her off her feet as she stepped through the door. From the noise the customers were making, this was one rowdy bar. Then, as she walked further into the club, she saw why.
Guilty Pleasures was a male strip club and on stage, a well-built man with long auburn hair was down to a g-string. "Hello, salty goodness," she murmured, as her gaze slowly moved down his gorgeous body. Now this was more like it. While the place didn't seem to be big on the food, she could get a drink and watch sexy men shaking their groove things for her pleasure. Cordy smiled -- she could live with that.
Then a girl got in her way. Dressed all in black, the chick's short red hair shone brightly under the lights of the club. "Do you have any holy items to check?" she asked politely.
"Huh?" Holy items? What the heck?
"Do you have any holy items to check," the young woman said, slower this time, as if talking to a two year old. She pointed to a sign on the wall which read "No crosses, crucifixes or other holy items allowed inside."
"Uh..." Cordy had to think about that one. Had the Powers given her any holy items? Yes, they had. But she didn't want to get rid of it, not in the vampire-y area of town. The girl glared pointedly at her and Cordelia sighed, deciding she wanted to sit down more than she wanted to carry her cross. She reached back and unhooked the chain holding her sterling silver cross. Holy item check girls. She was sick of this world already. "There," she said, dangling it in front of the blonde. "Happy?"
The girl frowned, staring at Cordy, and the seer knew the girl was inwardly cursing problem customers. Instead, the redhead smiled, handing Cordelia a claim check for her cross. "Enjoy the show," she said, moving on to the next patron.
Cordy grabbed a table halfway to the stage and gave the waiter her order. While she really wanted a stiff drink, she knew she'd need to have her wits about her, so she just got a diet coke. She eyed the waiter as he walked away. Even the non-strippers in this place were hella sexy.
She leaned back, reminding herself to take deep breaths. She just needed to sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.
The auburn-haired guy had apparently finished his set and the stage was empty. Hopefully, it wouldn't be empty for long, Cordy thought. She needed a distraction to take her mind off of her secret mission and dismal financial situation - and ogling sexy men was just the thing to do it.
She smiled up at the waiter as he dropped off her drink. She took a gulp, reveling in the cool, crisp taste of her caffeinated goodness.
Cordy looked up at the stage, where an attractive man with short blonde hair was slowly peeling his shirt off. Oh yeah. This was the life...if only the Powers would let her stay here for a while, all would be right with the world.
She heard the sound of breaking glass, belatedly realizing that she'd dropped her drink. Then the blinding pain hit.
As the sharp sensation raced through her body, Cordelia doubled over, desperately trying not to scream. She was being torn apart from the inside; she felt like something in her brain had burst, and the torment wouldn't stop until she was dead. Her heart was racing and she gasped for every breath. She fell to the ground in agony, clutching her throbbing head. The vision images were coming faster than she could process under normal circumstances, let alone in the middle of one of the most horrifically painful experiences of her life... Finally, she could take no more, and she surrendered to the pain, fading away to blissful unconsciousness.
A/N: Thank you to everyone who gave me feedback so far. I'm glad y'all are enjoying the story. I still have no definite idea of who Cordy's going to end up with, if anyone, so if you've got ideas, please let me know...