Written for Jae Gecko's secrets challenge and the Slayers of other worlds challenge. Thanks to Nisshoku and Carmarthen for the quick beta.
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Satan Is No Gentleman
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Adam was beginning to think it might have been a good idea to knock before entering Pepper's bedroom.
He didn't usually wonder what Pepper kept in the chest beside her bed -- he'd always assumed it was those fashion magazines she pretended not to read -- but even if he had, he would never have thought of this.
"You're not to tell anybody," Pepper said, with deadly seriousness.
Adam stared at the array spread on her bed.
There were crosses. There were pointy bits of wood. There were even small jars of liquid. For some reason, Adam felt absolutely certain that they were not perfume.
"Are you going in to be a Catholic?" he said weakly.
"No!" said Pepper. She gestured in a sort of inarticulate female rage at the obtuseness of boys, and Adam realised she was holding an axe in her other hand. He took a step back.
"You haven't joined a cult, have you?" he said. "'Cos, um, I'm not sure your mum'd like you putting your head in a plastic bag an', an' eating apple sauce . . ."
"I'm a Slayer," Pepper snapped, as if this was supposed to make any kind of sense.
Adam's forehead wrinkled.
"Like . . . with reindeer?"
"No, with bloody great axes!" Pepper dropped the axe on the bed and sat down beside it. "Haven't you noticed anything these past few months?"
"Um," said Adam.
"You haven't," said Pepper, and now her expression said it was all going to come out, everything. It said that there had been an everything, and Adam hadn't known.
Her eyes looked so much older, Adam thought suddenly. He and Brian and Wensleydale had thought it was hormones or something.
"I just woke up one day and there were demons everywhere," Pepper was saying. "And it was sort of fun at first, 'cos I could fight -- I'm like Superman, Adam, you should see me punch, pow! But there were so many of them, and I couldn't -- I wasn't fast enough, and -- you know Ben Robinson?"
Silence filled the space between them.
"Yeah," said Adam. Ben Robinson had been a Johnsonite. Had been.
"Yeah," echoed Pepper.
Adam was thinking.
"You said the -- demons just sort of showed up suddenly?"
"One day they were just there. It took me three tries to figure out how to kill them! I dunno as I would've, if Mr. Crowley hadn't helped me."
"Some bloke from London," she said. "I think he's from some sort of Slayer Secret Service. He just showed up one day and explained everything and bunked off again. I asked him about himself, but he wouldn't say anything -- he just kept muttering that it was cheating, and it wasn't fair on me, and he didn't care what they did to him.
Silence radiated from Adam, thick with memories several years old.
"I think," he said, "I'm goin' to have a talk with my dad."