Connor didn't take the time to think about who it was in front of him. He didn't
think about the numbers of times he had flirted with her or how many free cups
coffee she had slipped him. He did what came naturally to him when he was confronted
with a demon.
He wound back his fist and rammed it into her nose.
Salome staggered backwards, blood sliding out of her nostrils. "Ow! That hurt!"
"Of course it hurt," Connor spat, crouching down. His body was tense, ready to pounce on the newly revealed demon. "We're fighting."
"I don't want to fight." Salome sniffled, blinking dazedly. She put a hand to her head. "Rumours are true. Your fist is like a sledgehammer. I think you broke my nose!"
Connor backed off, regaining some semblance of himself. He couldn't just lash out. Everyone used to say that's what got him into trouble. Seeing as how he had gone crazy and needed his mind wiped, they may have had a point. "What are you?" He asked carefully."
"I'm a college student, dumbass," Salome's words were slightly garbled as she tried to recover from the hit.
Tightening his fists, Connor's lip curled in a snarl. "College students don't look like that."
"They should be so lucky." The blood staining her upper lip weakened her haughty response. She knelt down on the ground, picking up the beads that were scattered. "Can we please talk like human beings?"
"You're not a human being!" Connor exclaimed. Despite his anger, he knelt down and began to collect up the beads.
"Semantics." Salome took the beads in her hand. She looked down at them, wrinkling her bloody nose as she jostled them. "Damn. I hope I can fix this before class tomorrow." She looked up at Connor. "Listen, Chess Club--"
"Connor." He had never liked her nickname for him, and he liked it even less now that he knew she was a demon. Why hadn't he smelled it before? Right, he had been too busy looking down her shirt.
"All right-- Connor. I'm not a bad person. I'm the same Salome you've known for a year. Okay, yes, I'm a demon. But only in the most technical sense. I have a soul-- a lot of demon species do, you just don't hear about them because they don't try to bring the Apocalypse. I'm completely intergraded into human society."
Connor held out the remainder of the beads to Salome. She accepted them with a smile, sliding them into her pocket. She held out a clawed hand to Connor. "Truce?"
Warily, Connor took her hand and shook it. He could feel her claws sliding across his flesh. He shivered, pulling his hand away.
"Well, now that that's settled..." Salome balled her fist, slamming it into Connor's jaw.
He stumbled back, hand covering his smarting chin. He fought against his instincts to leap onto her. "What was that for?"
"Payback's a bitch, huh?" She sniffled, cracking her knuckles. "I don't appreciate racial profiling. Now we're even."
Connor nodded as he rubbed the sore flesh. He sighed deeply. "All right. Well. I guess I'll see you at the CoHo. Bye."
He turned on his heels, walking out of the alley. This day just couldn't get any more confusing.
"Hey!" Salome ran after him. "Where are you going? Don't you even want to talk to me? You've asked me out almost every day for a year!"
Connor turned back, shrugging. "That's when I thought you were a nice girl with punkish hair. I mean, no offence. I'm sure as far as demons go, you're one of the better ones. I just know what happens when life is filled with nothing but demons and death. I can't do that again."
Salome's unearthly eyes softened. Her lips curved down in a frown. "Are you really the Destroyer, Connor?"
"So they tell me." He crossed his arms over his chest.
Biting her lower lip, Salome took a step closer. She shook her head sadly. "Connor, if you really are the Destroyer-- the guy all of the demons are talking about-- then you don't have a choice."
"They're talking about me?" That certainly fit with what Andrew and Angel had told him. He shook it off, shrugging. "It doesn't matter. If they come, they come. I'm not going to go seek them out. I just want my life. I want to go to school, have some sort of social life. I can't do it again."
"Listen, it's not all that bad." Salome smiled at him, her fangs readily apparent. "I've been fighting demons and going to school for over two years. It can be done."
Connor jerked back, his eyes growing wide. "Demon fighting... It was you who was hunting that vampire last night."
Salome nodded, scuffing her toe and looking down in faux-modestly. "You know, what can I say? I do what I can. I saw her leaving with some guy, so I took a break. Would have gotten her too if I didn't have to work a double shift. I don't want those bloodsuckers snacking on the student body." She touched the pocket with her beads in it. "You know, I'd love to chat all night, but I get the impression you're really not into it. I've should go fix the glamour you so rudely destroyed before class tomorrow. I can't Clark Kent my way through the day as easily as you."
She peeked out of the alley, looking out onto the students crossing the campus. "Dammit. I knew I should have worked on my teleportation magicks." She ducked back in, leaning against the wall. "Purple skin really isn't going to go over well. Just peachy."
Sighing resignedly, Connor picked Salome up, heaving her over her shoulder. She wasn't very heavy. With his super strength there was no strain.
"What are you doing?" Salome asked, her voice slightly shrill with panic as Connor began to scale the wall.
"Like you said, I was the one who rudely destroyed your magic trick. I may as well help you fix it."
Connor clicked the lock of his room. He shook his head, crossing the room and sitting down on his bed. He folded his hands, leaning against them. "Jamie has a late class tonight and Jules gets lost a lot. We should be all right for a few hours."
Salome cross-legged on the floor, stringing the purple beads back together. Her tongue was clenched between her teeth as she concentrated. "Mmhmm." She rooted around in her pocket, pulling out a few more stray beads. "Thanks. My roommate was holed up in our room last time I checked. I don't think I'd be able to explain this to her." She looked around. "This is a sweet pad, Ace."
Nodding, Connor kept his eyes riveted on Salome's work. "So you're a demon who does magic." He sighed. "Great. Just great."
"I'm not an expert or anything." Salome turned to Connor as she slid the bracelet back onto her wrist. "Just some spells to get by. So magic thrills you as much as demons. I guess I really know how to pick 'em. You said you've done this all before. What happened that was so terrible?"
Connor shrugged, looking down. He didn't feel like laying out his whole story, especially to someone who was a virtual stranger. Everything he thought he knew about Salome was shattered.
Salome rose to her feet. She sat down beside Connor, nudging him in the shoulder. "Hey. Really. It's not that bad. As someone who is resigned to living in the magical world twenty-four-seven. And the parts that are, well... If you ignore it, it doesn't just go away. It gets worse. Yeah, it's fill with demons and death. But if you don't try and fight against it, then the deaths are going to be innocent people instead of demons."
"Why do you do it?" Connor asked, turning to face Salome. "Why do you fight?"
"I'm about the vengeance. Can't find the demon I have to kill, so I occupy my time taking other baddies out. At least when I'm not going to classes or working." Salome looked down. "You know, destiny can be a real bitch. Even if you wanted to ignore it, Connor, people are after you and they won't stop until you're in the ground."
"How much do you know?"
"You're the Destroyer." Salome licked her lips. "Your father is Angel, the vampire with a soul. I had absolutely no idea who you were until today, with that guy. I know that there's a price on your head." She got up again. "And I do mean that quite literally. If a demon brings in your head they get... Well, that part I don't know. I get bits and pieces of information, but most of the fang and fur types don't like me."
"Being in the Senior Partners' inner circle," Connor supplied. He crossed his arms over his chest.
"The Senior Partners? You're talking Wolfram and Hart?" Salome gaped at him. She shook her head, laughing. "If that is the prize, fight with all guns blazing. I'm surprised you haven't been swarmed by demons, Ace. Most of them would give their right horns to have an in with the Senior Partners."
Salome touched her braceleted wrist. She muttered words in a demonic language, and her skin returned to its pale colour. She gave Connor a smile. "You more comfortable talking to me now?"
"Why do you leave your hair purple?" Connor asked.
Salome curled a lock around her fingers. "What? You don't think it's cool?" She shrugged. "Truth is, I like being me, being purple. I wish I could all the time. But I choose to live in the human world, so I have to adapt. I can pretend to be Sally Simpson, normal college student, but at the end of the day... I'm me. It's not something I can pretend isn't there. Believe me, there are times I wish I was human, but... I'm not. I can't deny that. This is an aspect of my true self I can get away with."
Connor got to his feet. He looked down at the floor as he walked to Salome. "It's getting late." He couldn't deal with any more talk of demons. He just wanted to get away from it.
Salome nodded. "You're not going to ask me out tomorrow... Are you?" Her voice was laced with sadness.
Connor shook his head. He wasn't going to lie to her. "It's just..."
"Don't. I understand." Salome walked to the door. She sighed. "It's too bad. I had a lot of fun flirting with you."
Salome opened the door, slinking out. She shut it behind her, leaving Connor alone. Connor sat back down on the bed. He folded his hands, leaning against them. In the end, he was always alone. The Destroyer wasn't allowed to have anyone. And that's all anyone wanted him to be.
Jamie leaned against his arm, staring down at his notebook. He sat in the back of the lecture hall. Professor Morrison stood at the front of the class, droning on and on. He had stopped listening. He was tired and his stomach was growling. He just wanted to eat some dinner and fall asleep. Of course, he still had a mountain of homework to finish. He glanced down at his watch. Still ten minutes to go.
He jerked out of his half-asleep state when the door of the class burst open. A very beautiful redhead strode into the room. She was dressed in black, the clothing cling to her curves.
What must have been a dozen people followed behind her. Most were tall, hulking men. There were a few women. All of them looked ready to start trouble, like a gang.
"May I help you?" Professor Morrison asked, furrowing his brow.
"I'm sorry." The woman stopped in front of the Professor. She licked her lips slowly.
With super human speed, she grabbed Professor Morrison's head. She twisted it around. The sickening crack of his neck echoed through the room. "Didn't mean to interrupt."
One of the girls in the front row screamed as Professor Morrison's corpse fell to the floor.
Jamie jumped to his feet, eyes wide. He panted for breath, looking in horror down at the redheaded ringleader.
She strode up to a small blonde in her gang. She pulled a glowing yellow necklace out of her pocket. She hung it around the blonde's neck. "You know what to do."
The blonde ran out. The redhead strode back to the middle of the room. She placed her foot on Professor Morrison's chest. "Don't let any of them get out." She ordered.
The gang ran up the aisles, blocking any way for Jamie to get to the front of the class, to make an escape. He jumped the chair in front of him, attempting to bypass the stairs.
The redhead spotted him. She leapt into the air. The movement was one no normal human could make. She landed in front of him. She smiled. "Trying to go somewhere?"
She growled. "Don't worry, kid." She slammed her fist upside his head, knocking him to the ground. "You get a get out of jail free card this time. You're not part of the message." She turned back to her gang, her face shifting. "I just hope the Destroyer gets it."
Connor strode through the Oval. He kept his head down. He didn't want to speak to anyone. He was positive if he ran into someone, even Jamie, they would turn out to be a demon or some superhuman intent on dragging him back into that life.
He would have stayed in his apartment, shut out the world completely, but he was starving. Every time he got close to getting something to eat, someone else jumped out at him with information on the demon world. All that was in his apartment was a bag of Doritos that were stale three weeks ago. He, Jamie and Jules hadn't been too concerned with shopping.
"Hey there, hero." The voice was only a whisper in his sensitive ears.
Connor looked up. He felt his chest tighten. He tried to draw breath, but it wouldn't come. He shook his head. It wasn't possible. She couldn't be here.
Cordelia smirked at him. Her sparkling hazel eyes were focused on him, penetrating his soul.
Why was she here? No, she couldn't be here. She had been comatose. He had nearly killed her...
The only thing from his other life he could never resist and she was standing right in front of him. It was no fair. It was no fair! He didn't want this...
Cordelia turned, running off. Connor went off in pursuit, pushing past the students milling around. He could smell her scent clearly on the air. He needed to catch her.
He knew it hadn't really been her. The thing that seduced him-- lied to him-- wasn't Cordelia. But still... He looked at her and remembered how she made him feel.
He knocked hard into someone. He turned briefly, another familiar scent mixing with Cordelia's.
"Connor?" Salome was on the ground, looking up at him. "What's going on?"
Shaking his head, he broke into a run once more. He needed to know why Cordelia was here. Maybe Angel had sent her as well as Andrew. Maybe she could make sense of all of this. Maybe if she were to tell him why he should fight, he would finally want to. She was always so good at that.
He could smell Salome running behind him. Why did she insist on following? She would just get in the way.
"Connor!" Salome yelled. "There's something going on!"
He stopped running, smiling. There she was, waving at him front behind the glass doors of one of the nearby buildings.
Salome panted as she caught up to Connor. "Connor. We have to talk."
Connor shook his head, striding inside. "She's here. I saw her."
"It's important!" Salome grabbed his arm, but he pulled away roughly, throwing the doors open. She followed in behind him. "Someone's doing something. I felt it. The only way I could feel it is if--"
Salome cut herself off as she ran into Connor. He stood in the doorway of the lecture hall, feeling the sickness well inside of him.
Cordelia stood beside a redheaded woman. The Amazonian woman would have been beautiful, if not for her demonic visage. She dropped a drained student, licking the blood from her lips.
"--they used really powerful dark magic," Salome finished, looking over the bodies scattered across the floor.
Connor glared at Cordelia, steeling his jaw. She always led him to death. Yet he still followed her! Why couldn't he stop? Hadn't he become smarter than that?
"Of course it was powerful magic." The redhead hissed.
Cordelia gripped the glowing necklace she wore. It snapped away and Cordelia's form melted away, leaving a small, blonde vampire.
The redhead smirked. "Only very powerful magic would fool this boy's senses."
She strode to Connor, her fangs stained with blood. He was still too stunned to move, to act.
"My name's Clarice," the vampire hissed. "I have a message for you."
Leaping into the air, she swung her leg. The steel enforced tip of her boot connected with Connor's jaw. The force of the blow sent him flying backwards. He slammed hard against the wall. His body wracked with pain as he slid down onto the floor. She laughed. "And I'm going to have lots of fun delivering it."