Author: Notmanos
E-mail: notmanos at yahoo dot com
Rating: R
Disclaimer:  The characters of Angel are owned by 20th Century Fox and Mutant Enemy; the
character of Wolverine is also owned by 20th Century Fox and Marvel Comics.  No copyright
infringement intended. I'm not making any money off of this, but if you'd like to be a patron of the
arts, I won't object. ;-)  Oh, and Bob is *my* character - keep your hands off!   
Notes:  Takes place shortly after the "X2" movie, and "Dia de los Muertos".


"Ah shit," Brendan Chambers cursed, hastily spitting out his cigarette and crushing it out under the sole of his sneaker. He just knew it - one of the kids must have had eyes in the back of his head. He bet it was that Kjell guy - didn't he always seem to be wearing a hat?

They had gone on some sort of stupid ass trip to Chinatown - "cultural enrichment" or some such shit; they were always shoving these lame ass 'field trips' down their throats - and Matt figured they could get lost and steal a smoke, and maybe have some Peking duck. Well, Matt wanted the Peking duck - Brendan was a vegetarian. But the Asian beer he mentioned sounded good.

Matt looked past Brendan's shoulder and rolled his eyes. "Fucking hell, it's Captain Buzzkill too." He hastily stubbed out his cigarette on the brick wall of the alley they were loitering in, and put the butt in his coat pocket for smoking later on. Matt was wearing his suede driving gloves, the one that almost matched his worn brown leather jacket, and Bren was one again taken by how handsome he was.

When he first met Matt back at dreary old Milton High, he was intrigued by his strangely exotic looks: his downturned greenish brown eyes, his pale carmel colored skin, his mildly wavy mahogany brown hair, his full lipped, mobile mouth. In spite of his white bread name - Matt Parker - he was actually, in his own words, "a Korean Jamaican Puerto Rican American". An Army brat, his parents split up when he was young, and his Korean mother married his white step-father, who Matt referred to derisively as "Frosty the Snowman". Not that Matt liked his father, who he hadn't seen since he'd left his mother - it was just Matt liked few people as a general rule, and the older they were, the more he held them in a vague sort of contempt. It was possible it was just teen surliness, or just Matt trying on a toxic 'tude to prove how cool he was. He wasn't a poseur, but after having heard the tales of his life, Bren knew he'd never had it that bad. At least he had a mother who was willing to claim him, and wasn't behind bars - Bren had been in the foster home system since his mother went away for drug trafficking ( it was a trumped up charge ) when he was seven years old. ( She was still doing time - she wouldn't be out for another eleven years. Some murderers didn't do that long. ) Some of the homes he stayed in were okay, and some were nightmarish; most fell somewhere in between, and no matter how nice they tried to be to him ( when they bothered ), he never felt like he belonged anywhere, or that anyone gave a damn whether he lived or died. And for all Matt's tough posturing, he had never been homeless either - Bren ran away whenever he could, and one time, when he was fourteen, he lived for three and a half weeks on the streets of Philadelphia before the cops caught up with him. He wasn't proud of it, but he could take care of himself better than most of the pampered posies who lived at Xavier's.

He wondered if being half-demon helped.

Of course, from the stuff Bob had given him, he'd found out that he was a pretty lame demon. Brachens were stronger than you average bear, sure, but they were "peace loving" and preferred to shun Human contact as well as conflicts. So he wasn't a cool demon, like Bob, he was just ... what? A misfit? Great. Well, at least his dad - whoever he was - was a misfit too: instead of completely shunning Humans, he obviously must have fucked one.

"What have you been told about staying with the group?" Captain Buzzkill - also know as Scott Summers - snapped, storming down the street towards them. Although the subtleties of expression were lost when the eyes were hidden, Bren had learned to read Summers by his jaw. Clenched was really bad; semi-clenched was typical; loose meant he'd been replaced by a pod person. And right now it was ultra-clenched; it looked like he was trying to crack shelled walnuts with his molars. Not good.

Matt gave him his sexy pouty glare, which someone had once called his "James Dean" look, except Bren didn't know who he was. Matt thought it was that guy who made breakfast sausages, but that made no sense. "We just wanted to have a smoke."

"You're too young to smoke," he spat back. "Where did you get those cigarettes?"

Matt jerked his head towards the back of the street. "7-11. Why, wanna get your own?"

Bren looked away and rolled his eyes. Ever since Ms. Grey died, Summers had been even more uptight and more surly, if that was even possible. It was like he blamed them for what happened to her, or was trying to cover up the fact that he spent all his free time moping. He'd been so rigid before he seemed like an automaton; nowadays, it was like he was dead. When she died, something in him must have too. And as such, Bren didn't understand why Matt had to bait him - it was just asking for trouble.

Summers just stood there, arms crossed over his chest, jaw muscles working like he was chewing those walnuts. "You just got off probation, Mr. Parker. Are you really that eager to go back on?"

Probation was the penal name for what was essentially grounding, and Bren honestly couldn't believe they could get grounded at a school, but Xavier's was hardly a normal school, was it? Matt rolled his eyes, and Bren got the bad feeling that he was about to say something smart ass and unnecessary. He tried to warn him off with a look, but Matt didn't even glance at him. "Oh, come on, Scott - you know you just want me alone. Don't think I haven't noticed the way you look at me," Matt sneered.

Matt was convinced Summers was either a homosexual in denial, or so hetero and repressed the flash of a tit would make him hopelessly flustered. So, at every turn, he liked to mock Summers about his supposed sexuality, and of course - if he was gay - he had to be attracted to Matt, because who wasn't? Bren didn't think Summers was gay - he was way, way too uptight - and sometimes Matt's own arrogant vanity was the most unattractive thing about him.

Summers, as always, didn't take the bait. He always acted like Matt hadn't implied anything. Hadn't he figured out by now that only encouraged him? "I guess you have another two weeks probation to get corrective lenses, Mr. Parker."

He snorted derisively. "Like I even need any of this shit. I'm seventeen, pendejo - I can do what I want."

"Like be shipped back home to your parents," Summers countered coldly. "You are a runaway."

That was the wrong thing to say. Matt glowered at him, his own jaw muscle twitching like an electrified snake beneath the skin. "And when I tell them I was buggered at freak school by you bunch?"

"Breaker, be cool," Bren interjected, unable to believe that Matt - for no reason other than he was bored - was going to try and pick a fight with Summers. Breaker was the nickname Matt had thought up for himself, because that's what he did - if his bare hand touched anything, whatever it was broke. Didn't matter if it was a dish, a Human arm, or a titanium steel vault - they all shattered like glass when he brushed them. It was only his hands, though. Ms. Grey had been studying that - well, before she died - and it had to do with something in the palm of his hand, and being able to emit an obscure type of "quantum" energy that severed all bonds at the molecular level. He had no idea what it meant, but it sounded damn good.

Unlike the nickname. Matt thought it sounded cool, but Bren thought it was kind of dopey. They were still trying to come up with one for him, but what did he have? His Human mutation was pretty lame ass - an eidetic memory, which meant he could remember everything in perfect detail, even things he would have rather forgotten ( like his mother being hauled off by the cops, or being beaten and burned with an iron by Mr. D'Amico, foster father number four ). His demon half .... well, that was no great shakes either. He got kind of leathery bluish green skin covered with small red spikes, and his strength increased to five times over normal, which was probably the best part of the deal. Still, did he have to let himself look so damn freakishly ugly to get there? Red eyes were bad enough, but at least he could hide those with sunglasses. He didn't like to "turn demon", even though he'd seen worse at Xavier's, like that new blue guy. Shit, and he was really religious too, wasn't he? Luckily, only Xavier, Summers, Munroe, Rogue, and the late Grey knew he was only half Human. Oh, and since Bob knew, Logan probably knew too. He had a feeling no one was going to tell the blue guy any time soon. Luckily, he was away right now, visiting his family in Germany or looking for them or something like that, so Bren didn't have to worry about someone spilling the beans. He wondered, if he did find out, if he'd come at him with a cross or something.

Matt was pressing him to go with Spike, as he did have spikes when he went demony ( well, Matt thought it was part of his mutation - he still hadn't told him the complete truth ), and that was the name of that cool bounty hunter in Cowboy Bebop, so he considered it. But he knew he'd feel stupid being called Spike, and it wasn't like his spikes even did anything, so he quickly discarded it. He'd never been able to think up a second possibility. Maybe he should just go with the truth and call himself Demon, and hope everyone bought his " 'cause I'm a demon in the sack" explanation.

Matt ignored him, and he didn't really know if Summers had heard him or not. "Maybe a month on probation will help curb that attitude of yours," Summers said, still glaring at Matt from behind his visor.

Matt snorted derisively. "Fuck you."

"Two months," he replied icily.

Bren saw that Matt was actually trying to work a hand free of his gloves. "Whoa, hey," he said, grabbing Matt's arm and pulling him back from Summers. Matt always had a bad temper - it was what got him expelled from Milton, and what his parents kicked him out of the house about - they were all just lucky Matt hadn't broken a retaining wall on his way out the door. "This ain't worth it, okay? Look, we're sorry. We haven't gotten out of that place like forever, and we were bored troopin' around with the kiddies. We just wanted to get some Chinese food and chill. That's pretty cultural, right? We were gonna come back."

"Don't make excuses," Matt said angrily, yanking his arm out of his grasp. "We can do whatever the fuck we want - we ain't prisoners."

"He isn't, but you are," Scott replied just as hotly. "If you can't abide by the rules, Matthew, you will have to leave."

"Great - watch me go now," Matt shot back.

"What's going on here?" Munroe asked, joining them. She already had her arms crossed over her chest.

What a weird bunch. He wondered what they must have looked like - if he could have an aerial view of this unseasonably warm corner of Chinatown, would he instantly grok they were all freaks? The guy in the funny glasses, the black woman with white hair, the good looking mixed race kid in driving gloves, and the lanky geek with red eyes. Yeah, who else could they be but freaks?

They weren't Asian, and that was enough to make them stand out on this street. Everything else was just emphasizing their otherness, like putting big old pimp hats on elephants in downtown Diddlyfuck, Iowa, so they would "blend in" better. The funny thing was, with all the signs in foreign languages and brightly colored awnings, the markets with their open stalls of colorful, strange produce, the smell of cooking on the air, layered with cigarettes and exhaust ... Bren actually liked this place. It was just a shame his alienness didn't stop at simply appearing white.

"This dickhead is giving me shit," Matt snapped, gesturing vaguely at Summers. "Just 'cause he ain't gettin' any anymore."

"Hey," Munroe said, brows knitting together angrily. "You don't talk that way about anyone, especially a teacher."

Matt snorted, and Bren considered just slugging him in the back of the head. If he went demon he could probably knock him out before he could try and break something on him. He didn't want to hurt him ... well, no, okay. Matt was a good kisser and could be a hell of a lot of fun, but there were many times Bren just wanted to smash his head through the floorboards. The problem was he knew he was cool, and that was always fatal. "I don't have to put up with this," Matt replied disdainfully. "Just 'cause this asshole let his girlfriend get killed - "

Summers grabbed Matt violently by the collar of his jacket, and yanked him close to his face. "What did you say?" He snarled.

Matt darted a loosely gloved hand towards Summers, but Bren grabbed it and held it back as, on the other side, Munroe grabbed Summers's arm. "Let him go, Scott," she said, in her sternest voice.

"Stop being a pussy, Bren," Matt snapped, trying to pull his hand free.

It was such an odd and tense situation, a Human tug of war, that when something exploded through Munroe's chest, and then Summers's, it seemed completely unreal. Even though the blood splattered on him and Matt, hot and metallic, it still seemed like one of them was imagining this happening. But since when did imagination involve so much real blood?

Munroe was wearing a white shirt, so Bren watched with horrified fascination as it quickly turned red, spilling down her front like watercolor on a canvas. Both she and Summers had slack, disbelieving expressions on their faces, like they couldn't buy this either. Her eyes went briefly white, like she was trying to call something up, but not nearly in time - her eyes closed and she pitched forward.

Matt had stumbled back in shock as soon as Summers lost his grip on him, and Bren had let him go in surprise. He hit the wall of the alley and just stared at them, hazel eyes wide with horror. The blood spattered on his face made it look as if he had been shot too.

It looked like Summers tried to catch Munroe, but he couldn't stay on his own feet, and they both collapsed to the pavement. Bren hadn't moved out of the way, so Summers kind of fell on him, and Bren reflexively tried to catch him, but hell, he was a wimp - he was only strong when he demoned out. As a result, he fell on his ass, Summers pinning his legs to the ground.

Crows that had been gathering on the rooftops, waiting for the food and shiny objects people discarded on the street, exploded into the air, black feathers fluttering down like soot, and Bren guessed there must have been at least one gun shot, but it never reached his ears. Across the street, on the roof of a tall brick building that looked like some kind of boarding house, he saw dark movement, sudden and fleeting, and he thought it could have been a crow. Sure, some big ass, walking crow.

He was trying to look everywhere at once, see if someone else was going to start shooting at them, but it seemed the shooting was done for the moment ... and had anyone noticed? People seemed to be strolling by casually on the street across the way, and no one had seen or heard a thing. A silencer? Did someone use a silencer?

Summers struggled to get up, and the best he could do was partially prop himself up on his hands. Bren scuttled away from him, the advise of a hooker he once knew ringing in his ears : "If they ever start shootin' and you can't get away, hit the ground and play dead. If you ain't their target, they don't check." But what did he do if he was their target?

Summers must have been looking at him, as Matt was still frozen against the wall, hypnotized by the growing pool of blood. He was swallowing hard and often, and seemed to be struggling to stay propped up on his hands. "Get out - " He made a sort of gagging noise, and Bren knew fluid was filling his lungs before blood started to dribble from his mouth.  How lovely - he didn't know who James Dean was, but he knew the sound of blood filling someone's chest cavity. " - of here n - "

He slumped to the ground, and Bren was pretty sure he was just resting his forehead on the pavement, trying to gather
his forces, but then his entire body sagged, and he flattened out with a ragged, liquid sigh. Bren figured getting out of here was a good idea, but this was a dead end alley - a perfect place for target practice. Shit, who would be shooting at them, and why?

"Matt," he said, wondering if they could use their powers somehow. But none of them had a projecting power, like Summers or Munroe; Matt could just break whatever he could touch, and he ... well, he could turn ugly. How perfectly useless.

"What the fuck?" Matt asked, sounding almost anguished in his shock. "What the fuck?!"

"Get down!" He snapped, suddenly angry at him. Mister Tough Guy was useless in a real emergency, wasn't he? How fucking typical. Why couldn't he be like Logan? He ran towards danger, showing he was either incredibly ballsy, incredibly stupid, or both; either way, Bren figured he loved him, even though he didn't really know him at all. But hey, he had some wicked guns on him.

Why couldn't he do that? He wasn't even Human, not really. So what was he so afraid of? Why didn't he just charge into the fray and go after them ... whoever they were? Maybe he was the kind of demon that was bulletproof, so why didn't he just do it? What was he so afraid of?

He reached for Summers, figuring he had a cell phone or something on him, and only then did he realize he'd demoned out - his skin was bluish green and leathery, and the back of his hand bristled with those useless, stubby red spikes. That happened sometimes, when he got really nervous or excited; his demon side just popped out. Maybe it was adrenaline fueled. And maybe he would be protected from ricochets in this form.

He searched Summers's coat for a cell, and found something he thought might be one. When he pulled out his hand, he found it coated with blood up to the wrist, and he had to swallow back bile. It was funny, because he'd seen worse. While he was living on the streets, he once stumbled across the body of a junkie who'd o.d. 'd in an alley - he still had the needle stuck in his upper arm. He'd been dead for a while, and the rats were at him ... oh Christ, he really was going to barf if he kept remembering that.

Bren saw he hadn't pulled out a cell phone, but one of those weird equivalents that Xavier gave his staff. It looked like a big, weird belt buckle, but as he examined it hastily, pressing everything and anything that could be a release catch, it seemed to pop open and bleep. It looked like a cell, only there didn't seem to be a keypad. Presumably, it just called Xavier. "Hey, uh, someone just shot Summers and Munroe, and I'm not sure if they're coming for us or not," he said, sounding remarkably calm ( well, to himself at least ). "They need an ambulance, and we need to get the fuck out of here."

He was pretty sure he heard footsteps, and it was probably just someone on the street, but what if it wasn't? Did he want to die cowering on the ground? Well, he didn't want to die at all, but if he had to, he didn't want to be referred to as that "dick we found behind the garbage can".  He left the line open but put the phone down next to Summers, figuring that the line could be traced if he got killed violently in a second.

He was so scared his stomach hurt, and he was sure he was probably shaking as he got to his feet, but maybe being a demon it didn't show as much. Well, he hoped. Bren took a deep breath and stepped past the bodies, Matt against the wall, and the ever growing puddle of blood.

"What are you doing?" Matt hissed.

Bren gestured for him to be quiet, and stood against the wall, right beside the corner. The sniper obviously wasn't on the roof anymore, as they'd have had several clear shots at him and Matt. Well ... right? Oh shit, he wasn't a sniper, how the fuck did he know?!

He couldn't quite hear the footsteps over the pounding of his own thudding heart, but he allowed himself to believe, for a second, that they  only wanted Summers and Munroe - they didn't want anything to do with them.

But why not kill shots? It was a ruthless thing to think - he blamed video games - but shit, if they were in position, they had clear shots: they could have blown their heads off. Why didn't they? Because they only wanted to wound them ... or disable them and take them alive. And what of him and Matt? Maybe they figured they'd run off, first chance they got. Or maybe they were considered negligible, a waste of expensive ammo. And perhaps they thought they were prepared to handle mutants. He wondered if the fact that he was much more than that would put a crimp in their plans.

Man, he hoped so, or he was so fucking dead.

He saw the shadow, and as much as he wanted to just stand there and hopefully blend into the brick, he made himself move, repeating in his mind, over and over: "I am a demon, and they are puny Humans. I am a demon and they are puny Humans." He figured if he did it enough, he might believe it.

He saw a gun barrel, so he grabbed it and yanked the person holding it around, kicking them for good measure. He didn't aim high enough - he meant to hit the groin but got them in the thigh, and the man, who was wearing a long dark coat that hid his extensive body armor, didn't even fight him for the weapon, as it was a ruse. Before he could react, the man, using his free hand, jabbed him with a black box the approximate size and shape of a t.v. remote, only lacking buttons. Bren felt a tickle and a sting of electricity up his arm .... and then nothing more. Was that supposed to have done something? From the triumphant look on the man's face, yeah, it was.

Brendan smashed a flattened palm into his face, and from the snap and warmth of blood, he guessed he broke his nose. He kicked the guy in the stomach, sending him flying back into a parked car, and he splayed back over the hood, losing his grip on the black thing. Belatedly, Bren realized he should have grabbed that thing.

Another guy came at him from the side, but Brendan brought his elbow up, and while aiming for the face, caught him in the throat instead. It was a better shot, as he reeled back gagging, and Bren laughed, more nervous than elated - but hell, he was still alive, and these guys were chumps. "Die, puny Humans," he cackled, aware he was on the verge of hysteria.

"I've seen one of those before," he heard a woman exclaimed, and looked up the street.

He found an Asian woman, dressed in the same pseudo-bondage black body armor as the men, staring at him as she talked into something held in her hand - maybe a mini-phone, like Summers had. "We need a demon neutralizer, A-SAP. Repeat, we have a demon on site."

He started towards her, wondering what the fuck a demon neutralizer was, and if he should be worried, when he was suddenly grabbed from behind. A thickly muscled armed closed around his neck, and he couldn't breathe. "Don't worry, I got the freak," the man said. His breath smelled of cigarettes and coffee.

There was some way to toss them over your back, right? He'd seen it in movies dozens of times. As Bren struggled to move or dislodge the guy, who felt like he was made of stone, he heard a sickening crack, and the grip suddenly went slack. Bren pulled free of his arm, and as he turned, the man crumpled to the sidewalk, to reveal Matt standing there, bare hand still raised. His face was inordinately pale and wide eyed, and he still had blood splattered on him, but maybe he was starting to come out of his shock.

He spun around to go after the woman who'd called for back up, but she wasn't there anymore. What was there was a small crowd, keeping its distance, and staring at him in horrified fascination. Jaded New Yorkers stunned into silence by the sight of ultra-freaky him. He could suddenly feel the eyes of everyone on all the streets upon him, vaguely heard a squeal of brakes followed by the crunch of metal and the tinkling of glass as two cars slammed into one another. He felt embarrassed, enraged, and ashamed all at once, and he hated every single fucking one of these people. "What, ain't you ever seen a demon before?!" He roared, making the nearest ones jump back as if hit with a cattle prod.

"Bren," Matt said, alarmed, and he spun in time to see the black blur coming in fast from the corner of his eye. Matt had stepped back, and it was clear he was deferring the bulk of the fighting to him. Fine; maybe Matt would treat him better now.

Full of hate and adrenaline, Bren managed to grab the guy attempting to tackle him before he could, and shoved him violently out into the street. The traffic hadn't stopped in both lanes, just the one, so the man was promptly hit by cab and launched into the air, sailing about fifteen feet down the way. He'd left a huge dent in the hood, which Bren noticed just before he heard the thud of the landing.

"Fuck," Matt gasped, as Bren suddenly realized what he'd done. Had he just killed that guy? He didn't know - but he did know he had wanted to.

The screams of sirens started to fill their ears, faint but growing, and he knew that his appearance had probably spurred the calls, not the gunshots. How funny was that? How fucking funny was that? Well, at least these people - whoever they were - weren't going to be able to collect Munroe and Summers, not with the cops buzzing around.

Bren had to swallow back a lump in his throat, but could do nothing to stop the tears welling in his eyes. What kind of fucking demon was he? What kind of freak was he?

"Brendan!" Matt shouted, as he darted out into the street. He managed to dodge the cars and run down an alley, which wasn't a dead end, but opened up into some vacant lots.

He had no idea where he was going, he just knew he couldn't be there when the cops arrived, or even face Matt right now. Or any of them, any of the Humans, any of the muties - who were still closer to normal than he would ever be.

Bren knew it was stupid, but he hoped maybe - if he ran long enough - he'd be able to outpace the demon inside him, and leave it behind for good.