Season of Solace. 46

46:     Trinity Baptist Church Cemetery, Eastside, Sunnydale

At this time of night the ride from the hospital to the ruins of Trinity Church took only ten minutes. There was little traffic once they passed through the downtown area. Giles normally came to a full halt at every stop sign and traffic signal, but the constant stream of questions coming from his passengers had him on edge.

“No, I do not know what kind of demon attacked Cordelia,” but described it to Buffy in answer to her question. “However, I did get quite a good look.”

Xander leaned in from the back seat. “So why aren’t we back at the library? We should be hitting the books, doing the research, looking for clues.”

Glancing at him through the rearview mirror, he could see anger and concern apparent on Xander’s face. To some degree, they all felt the same way. “We will,” he promised. “First, it is necessary to complete our work on the obelisk.”

It was faster to finish their task at the cemetery than to let Willow and Xander go back to the library on foot. Giles added, “Once we’ve secured the rubbings of the stonework, I can begin a translation. The demon mentioned the Rites of Tavrok, a vital clue.”

“How long will that take?”

“A clue to what?”

“This Tavrok guy writes stuff?”

Sliding them a look over his shoulder, Giles’ jaw tightened and he returned his attention to the road without answering.

“You said the demon was wearing a police uniform,” Willow piped up. “Why would he do that? It’s not like people wouldn’t notice creepy demon eyes or no real nose or hollow cheekbones or—”

Giles broke in as the thought occurred to him, “Perhaps the creature is able to disguise itself.” The police officer that led Karla Brewer away after the incident on Main Street had appeared human enough. His disguise was good enough to fool everyone, assuming Officer Clark was indeed a demon.

The fact was that there were a number of likely possibilities. Faith had not sensed anything at the time and tonight neither of them had noticed the name on the demon’s badge. If only they had been able to stop him before he escaped.

Capturing that demon would have saved them a lot of time and effort. For now, they were stuck following what evidence they could dig up, literally in the case of the obelisk.

Giles could see increasing evidence of minor earthquake damage the closer they got to the epicenter. Fortunately, the news crews had focused on the decimated church rather than the cemetery itself. He knew that come first light, the chances of discovery would increase and their window of opportunity would then close.

“I should be searching for that demon,” Buffy sounded frustrated, antsy at being cooped up in the car instead of out on patrol. “Someone has to know about this and I have a pretty good idea where to start.”

Giles relaxed his grip on the steering wheel recommending that they settle down. “Our priority is the obelisk. If the local authorities follow protocol, it will be moved into custody of either the university’s archeological team or the museum curator. Access will be limited if not completely cut off.”

“We get it done and then I’m outta there,” Buffy’s determination was clear. It was not that Giles felt that Buffy should not follow any lead she could find. He simply doubted she would find one. “As long as Demon Cop is out there, Cordelia is still in danger. I can’t guarantee that he won’t try to grab her again. Obviously has no idea what he’s getting into with that.”

“Yeah, why Cordelia?” Meeting Willow’s questioning gaze in the mirror, Giles admitted that he had not really thought about it. She blurted, “Don’t virgin sacrifices have to be, ah, virginal?”

That notion alone caused Buffy and Willow to giggle. Xander was not laughing. He sank into the shadows of his corner of the back seat, pressed his mouth into a straight line and blinked in owlish response. After a glance at the rearview mirror, Giles found his behavior to be rather revealing.

Though the girls might not instantly make the direct connection, it seemed apparent that Xander and Cordelia might not have gone all the way, in the vernacular. The demon disguised as Officer Clark had spoken of the Rites of Tavrok as only one part of a great undertaking. No doubt it was all intertwined with the prophecy. Giles had no knowledge of it, but he had a good idea where to look.

There was one clue within the demon’s rhetoric that he had understood. At least, he had a rough idea of the translation. It had referred to Cordelia as one of the Varstrae, which meant untainted or untried, or as the demon referred to her in English, one of the Pure Ones.

Considering her reputation, Giles found it quite ironic.

He steered his car into a convenient spot at the empty Trinity Church Parking lot. Most of the area was already cordoned off as a disaster zone dangerous to the public.

Virgin or not, it was intriguing that Cordelia Chase would be among the intended victims of the prophecy. The odds seemed dismally small, but then again, this was hardly the first time she had been the target of some sort of trouble. Willow’s snippy words might have been in jest, but they made him realize that the potential sacrifices might not be random at all. Instead of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, fitting whatever scenario the Scroll of Septarius described, there might actually be a reason they were chosen.

What in the world would these demons and vampires want from Cordelia Chase? Other than the obvious, he thought with an angry flush heating his neck. He could not stop the errant thought of her wrapped up in Angel’s embrace. Giles did not like it in the least, but short of locking Cordelia into a chastity belt—equipment that in hindsight should be requisite for slayers, too—he knew that he had no influence over either of them.

A right to an opinion was quite a different matter of point. He had those aplenty.

Scene 47

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