Chapter 6

Religion, thought Cordy, kind of sucks. It had been only one day, but her stomach was so empty that she wasn't hungry anymore, but the light-headedness wasn't going away at this point, it seemed to hang over her thoughts like a canopy, shadowing her. It was impossible to get clarity. Even models at least eat cotton balls, she thought. She shivered then, the fear creeping in around the edges of her hunger. Of course these freaks fast so they can be famished enough to eat a whole person, just leave bones. Nausea flooded in; she bent a little, puffing. Tracey reached across the isle of desks and laid her hand on Cordy's shoulder.

"The first few times it's hard," she said, "But you get used to it. It's the only way to know real purity,"

"Purity," gasped Cordy, "Goody,"

"We are proud," said Sister Maureen, "To bring a new student into the fold of the Chaste. The private ceremony will take place tomorrow night in the gym. Cordelia," she smiled and Cordy shuddered, certain she saw a hungry gleam in the nun's eye, "Has completed the first sacraments on the path to purity. She shall be washed clean in the blood of the lamb,"

Cordy swallowed hard. Lamb, she thought, Well, I'm not bringing the mint sauce. Actually, she muttered to herself, I guess I AM the mint sauce. But if I make it to Friday, Angel is taking me to the nearest all-you-can-eat buffet. Ugh.

Angel shut off the blender, poured the contents into a glass and mounted the stairs. He pushed the glass into Cordy's hand.

"Angel, I can't!" she set the glass on the desk, eyeing it. "They'll know!"

"It's just milk and fruit, a few vitamins. They won't know,"

"They will! They'll....I can't explain it, but Sister Maureen will smell it on me,"

"You are not going in there weakened. This has gone too far already anyway. If you don't drink that I'll pull you out right now. I should have done it already,"

"Angel," she gazed at him, her eyes almost pleading, "It's tomorrow night. I can do this,"

Angel sat down opposite Cordy, fixing her with a firm gaze. "I have limits. One of them is watching you starve. No investigation is worth this,"

"It's worth it to me,"

Angel's mouth twisted. He put his hand on her forehead.

"Will you drink a little juice?"

She sighed in exasperation, then her mood changed. "She might not smell apple,"

He smiled.

Wesley shifted, wriggling in his chair. His bandaged foot was propped on the desk, and it was awkward at best to try to study in this position. He looked at Cordy; she seemed very tired, but very determined. He felt a deep twinge of emotion.

"I must say," he said, keeping his voice steady, "That you are a very brave girl,"

Cordy smiled tiredly. "Thanks, Wesley," she glanced at his ankle. "Thanks for spraining your ankle to get me out, too. Even if you didn't get me out," Angel was back with Cordy's juice. He looked over Wesley's shoulder. Wesley took a moment to clear his throat.

"There should be no interference with the signal from this point," said Wesley as he followed a line on the monitor with a fingertip, "As long as I'm not forced to move,"

"If we don't get everything on tape she's putting herself in danger for nothing," said Angel.

"At the very least, you'll be a witness," said Wesley.

"Kate's not going to run interference for me again," said Angel, "She only did it this time because she's familiar with the case. It's been a thorn in her side for a while, so she'd like to see it cleared up. She's not going to do me any more favors,"

"And if you have to witness in court, she won't protect you," said Cordy.


"Boy, there's gratitude for you," said Cordy, "How many times have you helped her out? And she was going to lock you up that time. Eastern-facing cell window. I so do NOT like her right now,"

"Interesting," mused Wesley, "That some humans seem to be able to grasp the existence of the supernatural so easily, and that some have such difficulty with it,"

"Losing a family member to the forces of darkness can give you issues," said Angel.

"I suppose," said Wesley gravely. He looked at the monitor, "It appears that the gym windows are wire reinforced. Not a wise point of entry unless one intends to be julienned,"

"Won't need to. I'll just take the stairs,"

Wesley looked up at Angel. The light from the monitor washed his glasses with blue. "You're quite certain there's no demonic association here? It would be unfortunate to be caught unprepared,"

"Not sure," said Angel, "But it's a delicate situation. One pin dropped could blow the whole thing. I think I can handle this without additional backup,"

Cordy's head was beginning to droop. Angel put his hand on her shoulder. "Why don't you go downstairs and rest?"

"Yeah," she looked up at him and he winced. Dark circles were appearing under her eyes. He bit the inside of his lip. Tomorrow night. But then they would have a talk. He was hating this case in a new and interesting way. It was one thing watching a Slayer put herself in the line of fire, especially if you'd gotten your butt kicked by her. You knew that her tiny, teenage-girl package was deceiving. It was another thing entirely to watch a human throw herself to the wolves. He could just barely stand it. Angel and Wesley looked after Cordy regretfully as she trailed down the stairs.

"All the same," Wesley roused himself, taking a bundle out of his pocket, "I've concocted a bit of blessing powder. There is one contraindication," he said quickly, as Angel began to open the cloth wrapping, "You can't touch it directly. It's as caustic as holy water, to you," he handed Angel a pair of latex gloves, "And be sure not to get it in your eyes. But any demons of the biblical variety will be-"


"Relocated, actually," said Wesley, "It's more of a sending power than a destroying one. It will dispel most evil influences, and even some spells. The major archetypal demons, as we know, cannot be completely eradicated,"

"What about a Summoner?"

"Of the biblical demons?"


Wesley's pupils expanded darkly behind the windows of his glasses. "Why?"

"Don't Summoners usually wear the mark on the left wrist?"

"Did you see the mark?"

"No. Just the burn that could have erased it. I could be wrong. Maybe she got it ironing or something,"

"Well, to answer the question, I don't believe a Summoner would be harmed,"

Angel thought about this. "OK, how about a Host?"

"That would depend," said Wesley, "On whether the Host were channeling at that moment. Angel, what do you think-"

"I'm not sure," he said quickly, "Have you tested the wire?"

"Better than that. We have proof it works: crystal clear audio of the class announcement of Cordelia's impending initiation,"

Angel picked up the small sheaf of paper they had collected in the church. "Sister Maureen's ancient Greek is excellent. It's almost as though she's spoken it. A lot,"

"Yes," said Wesley. He leaned back in his chair, studying Angel's face. "Do you know what is going on?"

"No," he said, stealing a look behind him to the stairs, "I just know this is the last time I'm letting Cordy put herself on the line,"