Outline by Kathy Pogge.
Written by Jen the Seafarer.

Previously on Gargoyles...

The trailing sleeve of her gown was seized, held hard, and she was caught short and flung
into the center of the room, stumbling and nearly falling. She regained her balance,
crouched to spring at one of them--

And the sharp, distinct click of a gun's safety catch sounded behind her.

"Freeze!" Two of them aimed guns at her now, and three others were taking their own weapons out.

~ Elisa's abduction in Partnership

* * *

"I don't know how I'm going to explain this one to the costume rental place,"
she told Matt as she slid into the passenger seat.
"Burn holes, grass stains---I think this one qualifies as irreparable damage."

Matt said nothing for a moment, concentrating on steering past the crowded squad cars parked
at the base of the hill. "I'm just glad that's all that got damaged," he said finally.

~ Partnership

Elisa's Apartment

Elisa scanned her apartment for the third time that morning, taking in every nook and cranny with a careful eye. Her living room was bathed in gentle morning light, the soft colors of her new wall paper warming up the shadowy corners of the room. Even without the new wallpaper, a skilled eye couldn't pick out the hairline cracks that ran along the wall, where the television had been thrown and subsequently smashed. The large skylight revealed a picture-perfect New York skyline, the horizon clear of any smog, and there was little air traffic save for the odd media helicopter. If you looked a little closer, you could see which panes of glass had been replaced and where the extra fortified locks had been strategically set. Her kitchen was spotless, as was the hallway and the bathroom. The new free-standing light she had bought illuminated the often dark corner near her room, and if anyone walked past it, she would have seen their shadow first, both from her bedroom and the front door.

She hesitantly walked along the hallway now, hefting her duffel bag under her arm and narrowing her eyes as she scanned the dark bathroom. Resolutely, she flicked on the lights, peering at the porcelain tub and then at her wary reflection in the mirror. Turning off the lights and continuing on, she entered her bedroom. Her bed was made, for a change, and her closets had been completely re-organized. A new pine vanity stood in place of her old one, and all her perfumes and lotions had been stuffed into the bathroom. She stared at the new vanity mirror, and along with the image of her face, she almost thought she could still see the ghost of the lipstick that had been hastily scrawled across the old mirror that night . . .

Sighing, she abruptly turned and headed out, knowing that if she stayed any longer she'd be even more paranoid _and_ late. Adjusting her duffel bag and throwing it over her shoulder, she grabbed her keys. She started unbolting the locks on her door, having no trouble with the two new ones. As she was just turning the last, something landed on the linoleum in the kitchen with a soft thump and she spun around, sending the duffel bag flying into a framed picture of her sister on the way.

"Cagney!" She nearly shouted, laying a hand over her heart and taking a deep breath. Cagney meowed bemusedly, twitching his tail as he watched Elisa right the picture and pick up her duffel bag.

"You scared me out of my wits, cat," she admonished, bending down on one knee. "Now, I'm going be gone and I want you to look after the place. No wild parties either, or the super's gonna complain."

Cagney purred and rubbed against her leg. She gave him a scratch and got up, half-smiling. Giving her apartment an uneasy final scan, she left, triple-checking that she had locked each of the five locks on the door. Outside, she shuddered involuntarily, took a cleansing breath, and made her way towards the elevator.

* * * * *

23rd Precinct

"Hey Maza, how's it going?" Officer Morgan greeted her as they both walked up the steps leading to the entrance of the new station house. She pointedly ignored his quick look of concern, not bothering to scold him. Lately, everyone she knew had been flashing her that odd look of expectation and worry.

"Fine. Are you just starting shift this morning?"

"Actually, I've just finished."

"You look tired. That bad?" Elisa inquired as he opened the door for her.

"Not really, but I'm glad it's over. I got saddled with a rookie last night, and I swear, they get younger and younger every year." He yawned, and rubbed the back of his neck.

Administration was backed-up, as usual, and both Morgan and Elisa ignored the glaring, leather-and-fishnets-clad woman who was rattling off curses at everyone who walked by.

"Rookies. That makes me think back," Elisa mused. "Boy, am I glad I'm outta the training racket. With my schedule, I don't think I could handle one."

"Don't speak so soon, Detective, they got a whole batch of 'em last night," Morgan grinned as he changed direction towards the locker room with several other off-beat cops.

"Whatever. See ya later Morgan, and get some sleep!"

Morgan waved good-bye as he headed into the men's room. She found her own way to the Squad room, grinning loosely. Her grin faded when she saw her desk, where several thick folders already sat waiting for her.

"Great, another perfect Thursday," she muttered, dumping the contents of her duffel bag and adding to the already daunting pile. She rubbed her arms suddenly, and looked around warily. The Squad room was quite active this morning, but still she felt alone . . .

Abruptly, she felt a pair of eyes on her. Snapping out of her momentary reverie, she turned and found Captain Maria Chavez watching her. She turned away and squeezed her eyes shut in annoyance. Lately Chavez, too, had been watching her with almost parental concern ever since her kidnapping only days ago, and it galled her to know that Chavez wasn't the only one. Matt, the clan, and especially Goliath . . .

"Maza!" Chavez called, taking a step in her direction. "I want you in my office pronto."

"I'll be right there, Captain," she replied absently, suspicion already settling in her mind.

She finished sorting the most pressing cases from those that could wait and she headed towards the direction of the Captain's office. As she made her way, she couldn't help but notice that there were a lot of new faces in blue around, and most of them younger than she cared to think. Maybe Morgan was right about a new batch, she thought, and something in her mind clicked.

"No way," she exclaimed softly, and as she reached the Captain's office, she could see the silhouettes of two people. "No way!" she echoed a little louder as she turned the handle.

" . . .you'll be a welcome addition to the force. Ah, there she is," Captain Chavez, already seated, rose as she stretched an arm in Elisa's direction. There was another young woman in her office. "Sara Jasper, this is Detective Elisa Maza, your new partner."

Stunned, Elisa mechanically stuck out a hand as Sara Jasper shook it with quiet confidence.

"Hello, I'm Sara. It is both an honor and a pleasure to meet you, Detective."

"Uh, thanks," Elisa said stupidly.

"Sara, I want you to report down to Administration so they can clear your badge number and get you set up with everything you'll need for the case. I need to talk to the Detective," Chavez commanded, and Sara left abruptly, flashing a grin at Elisa.

The second the door shut Elisa came to life. "I don't need a partner," she stated evenly.

"No, but Sara does. She's a good, smart kid and she placed top five in her class. Besides, there's a new case for the both of you," Chavez responded calmly.

"Why now?" Elisa asked, rubbing her forehead.

"Why not? This case is directly from the Organized Crime unit. They need help. So, seeing as one of my top detectives is currently unassigned and a promising rookie needs to learn the ropes, I decided it was the best way to kill two birds with one stone."

Elisa was silent for a moment, trying to digest all of this. It couldn't be that bad, really. From what she had seen so far, Sara seemed pretty bright, and Elisa was fairly behind in her case load. If Organized Crime needed a hand in an obviously stagnant case, then it didn't seem too bad. She could have someone take over some of the obligatory paperwork and maybe get out there and do what she did best, which she hadn't been doing lately, ever since that night a few days ago.

"Objections?" Chavez prompted, watching Elisa compose her thoughts. From a quick glance of the Chavez's face, the Detective deduced what the Captain was thinking of, or more correctly, what night she was thinking of.

"I guess not . . . No. I think it'll be all right. Hopefully, much better than the last partner I had to 'show the ropes' to," she added wryly, but Chavez didn't smile. " So tell me about this case. Local boys?"

Chavez grabbed a thick manila folder and flipped through it. "No, not this time. We are looking at some pretty big fish here. The Japanese Crime Syndicate--"

"The Yakuza?" Elisa finished, not hiding the surprise from her voice.

"Nothing concrete, but it's suspect. There have been a fairly recent string of warehouse break-ins, all containing computer components. So far, Organized Crime has only a few leads, but the case is starting to drag. You're going to be in full coordination with these guys, so you'll have everything. Here," Chavez tossed her the folder, "it's all in there. Sara has already been briefed, so you guys can start right away."

"Thanks," Elisa muttered half-heartedly as she scanned the file.

"Go and save Sara from the jaws of the Administration, and show her what being a Detective is all about," she smiled.

"Sure," Elisa replied a little more strongly, and smiled a smile Chavez hadn't seen in a long time.

"Hey Maza, chin up."

"Of course, Cap'n," Elisa grinned as she left.

She founded Sara sitting a chair in the hallway, with a decidedly impatient expression on her face. Elisa took a moment to study her new partner. The rookie had medium length chestnut hair, brown eyes, and a slight but athletic build that bespoke her training.

"Sara!" Elisa called through a wad of people. "Over here!"

Sara looked up and flashed a look of relief.

"Is it really this busy all the time?" Sara asked, looking over the crowd.

"Not this bad. The night shift is just heading in, and adding on to the fact that they still haven't figure out where, who, or what anything is since our precinct was damaged, it's swamped."

"You'd think they'd at least give you a number," Sara said under her breath.

Elisa chuckled. "That'd mean we'd have to teach all the Administrators how to count without their fingers," she said good-spiritedly. "Come, we'll get outta here and come back when it's less busy, maybe with a bribe like a box of donuts."

Sara laughed, and both women found their way through the crowd, pushing through the big wooden doors of the entrance and onto the busy street.

"So, Sara . . ." Elisa stalled. She noticed that Sara was taller, but not by much; Elisa wryly reflected it might be nice to work with someone she didn't have to crane her neck back to see.

"I'll spare you the questions. I'm twenty four years old and I live in a closet in Brooklyn. My parents also live in Brooklyn, along with my dog, Shakespeare, who can't live with me because my landlord's a pain."


"I have two older brothers. The first is named Todd, and he lives in San Francisco. My other sibling--" she grimaced a little, "is Damien. He lives in Long Beach and I swear, his only purpose in life is to drive me nuts."

"I . . . know the feeling. My only brother flies in and out of my life whether I like it or not, and most of the time he brings friends. Ones that . . .belong in the sewer," Elisa added with a rueful grin. "My sister's the only normal one, but she's enrolled at the University of Arizona, so I don't see her much. My dad was a cop--"

"Oh." The brown-haired woman's eyes seemed to go distant for a moment. "My father was as well, until he had to retire . . . prematurely . . .but that's another story," she finished hastily.

An uneasy silence descended. "I've got stories to tell you, but I'm thirsty," Elisa finally ventured. "Wanna grab some coffee before our shift starts? The stuff at the precinct is just brutal."

"I'll have juice," Sara said wryly. At Elisa's look, she added, "Hey, what can I say, I was born in California. And I hate the taste of coffee, anyway." Her voice had just a touch of the cadence of Brooklyn, only noticeable to another born and bred New Yorker.

"That'll change. Any way, then we can check the first break-ins, maybe find our feet in this case."

"Yakuza," Sara murmured as they approached Elisa's car. "We're not going to find much, right?"

"'Never leave a stone unturned'. Probably not, but it'll be better to check. As good as the Mafia Men--the more affectionate term for our Organized Crime Squad-- are, they aren't that good."

Upon reaching the red Fairlane, the duo got in and Elisa peeled away from the curb, albeit gently. No sense in scaring the kid first day, Elisa mused.

"So tell me what you think about this, Sara."

"Well, from the file, I'd say these guys aren't dealing with the local gangs, based on they way each hit was done differently," she explained haltingly.

Elisa nodded. "Looks that way. Of course, it could be a scam--"

"But it's too clean and too pat. No, I think they're hiring freelancers, or else bringing in their own crew," she countered.

"I'm inclined to take that road too. With Brode and Dracon . . ." Elisa paused and swallowed. Elisa's grip on the steering wheel tightened, white shadows pinching her knuckles. She noticed Sara giving her one of the terribly familiar 'worry' looks and hastily loosened her grip. "So, with many of our main players in jail, secure, for a change, and that leaves this place wide open for the Yakuza to get at least a sizable foothold here. Not to mention this is the world's port, and with things they way they are right now, it's a nice treasure to be had."

Sara had brought out a note pad and absently flipped through it. "So far, it's only computer components that have been the treasure."

"And a very lucrative one."

"But the Yakuza usually stick to more, well--"

"Illicit crimes? Yeah, but there's a lot to be gained here. After all, this latest robbery," Elisa hazarded a glance as Sara flipped through some pages.

"The one involving the Next Step, Incorporated?"

"Yeah. They lost some hardware destined for the Military, the Top-Secret kinda stuff."

"Well, from my case studies, the Yakuza don't really deal in Military equipment--"

"But if they needed to, they wouldn't hesitate. Believe me, when push comes to shove, there's a lot of changes that are gonna happen," Elisa interrupted.

"Ah, I see. Why would they want Military stuff?" It was a statement, not a question. Sara flipped back through her book.

"Good question," Elisa responded, looking off into traffic. "We won't deal with motive right now; if the Mafia Men haven't gotten a lead in the last two weeks, then it's time to assume that they need more evidence rather than figuring motive."

"I was thinking that as well. Should we start at the first break-in or skip to the warmest one?"

"I'd go warmest. People tend to remember recent events better."

"They also tend to be more sloppy about alibis too," Sara added, briefly catching Elisa's eye.

"That they do," she responded, grinning. "Off to Next Step Incorporated, then."

* * * * *

Somewhere along the Hudson River

"So they were wearing black masks?" Elisa asked flatly, not bothering to hide her doubt.

"I wuz thinkin' that. I mean, it wuz pretty dark and all, an' I couldn't really see their faces at all, but it sure looked like masks," the transient said nervously, eyeing the two detectives that had come out of nowhere and started asking him questions. He had already done this two days ago with different cops. "Didn't ya talk to yer buddies that come out here earlier on? They pretty much asked the same things," he snorted, stuffing his ratty fingers into his patchwork jacket.

"We're just double checking," Elisa cut in smoothly. "In case you might have seen or heard anything else for the last time."

Sara, with her notebook in hand, studied the man. He was altogether too nervous for even a homeless man, and he had looked a little too healthy for one as well. "What language were they speaking? English?"

"I think so. But it was kinda accented-like, you know, like it was as if they had just learned it." The transient shifted his eyes away from the cop who was watching him with sharp brown eyes.

"Perhaps with a Japanese accent?" Sara prompted. His eyes widened slightly.

"I dunno. Maybe," he shrugged, and Elisa could tell from his body language that the question had rattled something in him and he wasn't going to be much more cooperative for long.

"Now, you're positive that they left in a black van, right?" Elisa asked, briefly checking her file.

"Yes ma'am. A real slick one, too."

"Okay. So you were sitting here, minding your own business, when this van tore up in front of you and a bunch of guys wearing black came barreling out. They went inside, you heard some loud bangs, and then they were out again. Then they just drove off?"

He nodded vigorously, and shifted his feet.

"They didn't see you, even at this close range?" Sara asked, with the right mix of sarcasm and belief.

"Uh, no. The wuz movin' pretty fast," he answered. "I really gotta be goin' soon, it's kinda gettin' dark and all."

Elisa watched her young partner with a critical eye. She was quick and eager. Sara seemed to have a natural instinct when it came to catching lies, especially the loose ones. She noted that Sara's eyes kept traveling to the transient's open jacket, and Elisa, trying to look nonchalant, watched it as well.

"You remember nothing else?" Sara prompted.

He threw up his hands and Elisa finally saw what Sara had seen: crudely sewn in the inside of the jacket was a small, good quality leather pouch, and just peeking out of the corner of it was the edges of several hundred dollar bills. "I dunno! Jest leave me alone! I've got nuthin' to give yous, so go away. I've told you all I knows, like I told them cops before. Guys in black, ridin' a fast van, and speakin' Japanese," he scoffed, and stepped away from them, drawing his ratty jacket together protectively.

"Japanese?" Elisa pondered. "You said before you weren't sure."

"I am, okay?!! Leave me alone!" Shooting a nervous glance at Elisa's jacket, where her gun lay, he took a tentative step backwards, and noting that they made no move to stop him, ran.

Elisa and Sara watched him go back into the depths of the city.

"Well, that's a start."

"But we only have a few scraps of what basically amounts to nothing. Most people we talked to were pretty unresponsive at best," Sara comment, flipping shut her notepad. "I mean, most of what we found today was already recorded in the case file any ways."

"True. But you can't expect to hit the target right off the bang. However, we got something. Unlike the case file, where it has no clear mention of any Japanese speaking culprits, we now have a fairly solid idea of who's responsible."

"And then there was the money the bum had. Those looked like fifty or hundred dollar bills to me."

"More change than I could possibly carry around," Elisa agreed.

"And he's also stuck around the area. Most people I know tend to ditch a crime scene pretty fast. It's like he's waiting for more," Sara stated as both women started walking towards Elisa's car, which glinted in the fading sunlight.

"Or for a chance to get in with them."

Sara watched the dark streets musingly. "His accent sounded fake," she snorted finally.

"So maybe it was a plant to throw us off?"

"Maybe. So what now?"

Elisa reached for the door handle and looked up. "It's pretty late and we've got ten minutes left in our shift, but we'll call it a night. I'm beat."

"Me too," Sara said easily as she sat got in. "I don't think I'm going to love the six hours of sleep I'll get tonight before I'm on shift again."

"That's an understatement. You want me to drop you off at your place or do you have a ride at the precinct?"

"My car's at the station, so you can dump me there. Thanks for the day, Detective Maza," Sara smiled.

"Likewise, Rookie." Elisa replied with a grin of her own.

* * * * *

Two blocks west of the 23rd Precinct

After dropping off Sara and giving a brief report to Chavez, Elisa went for a walk. The new precinct house was farther uptown than the old one, and Central Park was only four blocks away. A very convenient four blocks.

She had promised to meet Goliath there after work. The sun had set two hours ago so it was now dark outside, and the inconspicuous route she had carefully chosen had considerably less traffic. However, she did not walk with the confidence she once had, and her eyes kept darting around the darker side streets. She actually startled twice, the first when a car backfired behind her and the second time when a cat landed heavily on a steel garbage can.

"Steady," she murmured to herself, half ashamed as she approached the entrance at 59th and 5th Avenue. Walking slowly, she tried not to notice just how black and menacing the shadows were between the trees, or how every so often she could hear a quick patter of unknown footsteps. Her heart was thudding, but the only thing that kept her stormy calm was the thought of what Goliath would say and do if he ever saw her like this. Steeling herself and pushing away some rather dark memories, she nimbly ducked behind the appointed oak tree and found herself in a small, secluded thicket.

Moments later, there was a thin rustling sound and she watched Goliath nudge his way into the clearing. It occurred to her only then that he must have been following her the entire way there, but she decided not to say anything. He opened his wings and drew her into a warm hug.

"How went the day?" he asked, his bass voice quieter than normal.

"All right. I was assigned a new partner, a rookie, but she's quick and smart. We're working on this Organized Crime case that involves the Yakuza," she explained as they both sat down onto the grass. The thicket was small, and it was a tight fit.


"The Japanese Mafia. Yakuza means 'the hand' in Japanese, and they are very powerful in the Pacific Rim. They have a small toe hold here, but I'm guessing they're out to get more."

"I don't like this," he rumbled, taking her hands.

"Neither do I, but so far all the only concrete stuff we have is a strong connection to the recent computer warehouse robberies," she sighed.

"And this 'rookie'? What is she like?"

"Her name's Sara Jasper. She's got a lot of promise and sharp instinct. I like her, but I don't know too much about her yet. Unfortunately, since she's new, I'm probably going to be stuck on day shift a lot." Elisa caught his eyes and went silent.

"Which means you'll need sleep at night," he observed, and tightened his grip on her hands. "In the apartment."

There was a sudden and disappointing silence. It was funny had it had now become 'the apartment' instead 'Elisa's apartment'. It was true in a way, though, because she never really felt like it was hers anymore. Of course, she couldn't tell Goliath this, as it would only lead to . . .

"Elisa, I want you to seriously consider the idea of moving in with the clan."

Elisa gave an exasperated snort and jerked her hands away. "Goliath, you've asked this before and my answer still hasn't changed! No way!"

"But you're not safe there, Elisa."

She shut her eyes in momentary anger, took a breath, and then started. "Goliath, I'm a cop and I know I can handle myself. What happened a few days ago . . .well, it happened. I'm not going to move because of it, and if I did, the last thing I would do would be to beg Xanatos for a place to live! I'd just as soon move in with Demona!"

"Elisa, please! You cannot go on like this! Do you think that the clan and I have not noticed the change within you--"

"What change?!" she snapped, getting up and taking a step backwards.

"You have become so much more wary, and more guarded. You haven't smiled as often as before and you are now much more withdrawn than I've ever seen you," he insisted, getting up as well and caping his wings. "Your performance at work is being affected. Your personality has been affected. Everyone else was affected by your kidnapping, and yet you refuse to acknowledge that you yourself have been affected."

She stared at him hard for a moment, struggling to keep her face clear as a myriad of images flashed though her head, and she thought she could distinctly hear Castaway crooning that eerie poem as he waited for Goliath to appear---

"No! Goliath, I'm not saying that some things haven't been bugging me, but let me deal with it. And it's not as bad as you think, certainly not enough to warrant moving into Xanatos' home," she half-snarled. Her tone indicated that it was all but impossible for her to imagine Xanatos having something as loving as a home.

"It is the clan's home as well. My home," he stated, folding his arms impassively. "He did save our lives and has assured us of his honor towards our keeping. I do not doubt him."

She sighed. "Goliath, I'm not saying I don't . . .trust . . .him with you guys, but I can't--I couldn't--possibly move under the same roof as that man. I'm not ready for that."

"I fear for you, alone," he murmured quietly as he looked at her. She couldn't bring herself to meet his eyes, and she knew that they contained the agony of those first moments when Goliath had known of her abduction. Trembling slightly, she shoved her hands into her pockets and tried to ignore that voice in her head that told her to agree with him.

"Goliath . . . I can't. I can't let it beat me. Really, I'm all right."

"I don't like this," he grated.

"It just doesn't work, Goliath. We've been through this before, okay? Can't we just leave it alone? I'm a big girl and it's going to be over my dead body before I move into Xanatos's residence," she said finally, standing firm. She met his eyes and it was his turn to look away.

"That's what I'm afraid of," he whispered as he moved away from her and back into the shrubbery that had concealed them. Standing stock still, she could hear his talons bite into a tree as he climbed up to find a spot to lift off from. Presently, there was a sudden lurch of branches and she watched him glide out in front of her, gaining altitude and no doubt heading towards the Eyrie Building.

Biting her cheek and keeping her engulfing misery at bay, she proceeded back towards the precinct and then to her home, or at least where it used to be.

* * * * *

Elisa's Apartment

The ring ripped into her ears like fingers running down a chalkboard. Trying to shake off the remains of her sleepiness, Elisa fumbled for the phone and tried to quell her racing heart.

"Hello?!" she snapped, clutching the pillow she had been dozing on. Having fallen asleep on her couch, she had no idea what time it was; all she concentrated on was that it was dark. Shadows crept menacingly along the floors of her living room.

"Elisa? Did I wake you up?" Elisa tried hard to recall the voice as she gripped the phone, eyes darting from corner to corner.

"Who is this?! Matt? That you?"

"Yeah, glad to see that our partnership is rock solid," he clipped lightly, but she remained dead silent, slowly unclenching the vise grip she had on the couch arm. "Did you forget that you have to work tonight?"

"What time is it?"

"Eight thirty or so."

"Oh . . .I fell asleep on the couch. I didn't have any good sleep last night and I guess I was more tired than I thought . . ."

"You've been through the wringer lately, partner. Maybe you should--"

"I'm fine, Matt," she said tersely as she got up to quickly hit a light switch. The threatening shadows fled into their corners

"All right, all right. Listen, I got my shift switched today and instead of having the night off, I have a Task Force meeting, right when you go on. Do you think you could swing by and pick me up? My car--"

"Sure thing. I'll see you in twenty minutes."

"Okay." He paused as if he wanted to say something else. "I'll see you then."

"Bye," she concluded, dropping the phone. She rubbed her eyes fitfully and sat very still.

Silence had suddenly deafened the apartment. Her blood raced between her ears and she found it difficult to concentrate. With measured anxiety, she took very quick strides to each light switch, flicking on each and every one until the entire apartment blazed. Still, she felt chilled and the hairs rose on the back of her neck. The silence was almost tangible and she shut her eyes in desperation, trying to will her fear away. Calm down Maza, calm down.

As fast as she could, she got dressed, fed Cagney, and left, taking a solid breath the second she shut the door to her apartment. She couldn't hide from it anymore; she could not stay there any longer. As much as she hated to know it and accept it, she could not.

* * * * *

Outside of Matt's Apartment

Matt had been outside, waiting patiently by the stairs that led up to his apartment. He smiled wanly as he got in the car. "A little late, aren't we? You know what Chavez will say--"

Sitting down and buckling up, he settled in and got a good look at Elisa's face as she pulled back into traffic.

"Elisa? Are you all right?"

"I'm okay, just . . .tired," she uttered shortly, checking her blind spots purposely.

"Yeah, you mentioned you didn't get any sleep. Maybe you should--"

"I'll be fine. I just need to wake up."

"You need a lot more than that, partner. C'mon, tell me what's on your mind. Maybe I can help you," Matt offered quietly, absolutely certain of what was bugging her.

"I don't know . . . I'm just not myself these days, you know?"

"I understand," he added.

"You know ever since . . . the thing with Dracon, I just can't seem to . . . relax. I can't sleep well and things just aren't the same--"

"You don't want to live at the apartment anymore," he stated gently, trying not to sound forceful. He remembered how desperate Goliath had been to convince her to go somewhere else safer, and how her own father, Peter Maza, had warned Matt not to be too obvious when dealing with her or she might suspect that this was all planned . . .

"I don't--no, actually Matt, I think . . . I think you're right," Elisa agreed reluctantly. "I've tried so hard to push it away, but then I remember just how vulnerable I was and how they could have done anything. And every time I go to bed, I can see myself . . .and then them . . .and how it had just occurred to me then how unprepared I was."

"It's a shock to the system. Like the first time you kill, it takes something to get used to. But it gets better if you talk about it."

"I know, but-- I can't. I mean, I'm a cop, right? I've dealt with some of the worst scum this city has to offer and I know how to handle myself, on shift or off. But that night . . . I was helpless when I should have known better. I never . . .thought that I could be taken so easily in my own home. Not even after Demona tried to poison me. Now . . . I just don't feel safe there any more."

"You know, Elisa, you're always welcome to crash at my place. I mean, I've got a spare room."

"You can't be serious," she said flatly, drawing herself back to the present.

"No, really! I wouldn't annoy you either, seeing as I've started an awful pattern of pulling double shifts and such."

"I dunno . . ."

"I promise to keep the bathroom spotless."

"Well . . ."

"I also have a Foozball table."

"Oh, that sold me," she grinned wryly, but then grew serious again. "Are you sure, Mr. Bluestone?"

"I, along with many, want you back to your normal self. Of course I'm serious. Well?"

"All right," she coincided slowly. "But this is not long term."

"No, don't worry about it. I'll even help you look for a new place," he agreed.

"Within my outstanding salary."

"A cardboard box it is, then."

Elisa grinned at him, and then with slight shock, she realized that they were already at the precinct. Pulling in gently, she noted that Sara's car was already there. Matt gave her a reassuring smile and they both headed in, pointedly ignoring a pair of crooks that were being dragged in by at least four officers.

"It never changes, eh, partner?" Matt observed as he opened the door for her.

"You know what they say, the more things change--"

Just as Matt was reaching to open the Squad room door it came flying open, followed by Sara, who barreled right into Bluestone.

"Oh, I'm sorry--" Sara began in a dismayed tone as Matt checked his balance. Elisa managed a straight face as Matt started to glare at Sara, the glare rapidly melting into a look of forgiveness.

"Don't worry, happens all the time," Matt reassured. "I'm Detective Matt Bluestone."

"I know; you're on the Gargoyles Task Force. I'm Sara Jasper, or as Elisa would have it, the 'rookie'."

Matt smiled warmly. "Well, welcome to the 23rd precinct, Rookie."

Elisa decided that this encounter was becoming a little too sappy for her tastes. "Come on, Sara, before Matt starts into his favorite conspiracy theory."

Matt gave Elisa a dirty look, but shook Sara's hand, holding on for just a few seconds longer than necessary. Elisa frowned and Matt took the hint. "Well, I'm off to dispel some urban myths. Nice meeting you, Sara. Wear your seat belt when Maza's driving or else." With a wave, Matt headed into the station house.

"That would be my normal partner, Matt. I hope he didn't scare you too badly."

"I had a childhood in Los Angeles and lived my teen years in Brooklyn, so I'll survive," Sara smiled. However, Elisa only grinned wanly, and knew that Sara saw the tension in the Detective's face that hadn't been there the day before.

"I don't know you that well," Sara began a little hesitantly, "but are you all right? You look a little stressed."

"Me?" Elisa looked a little startled. "Is it that obvious?"

"Well, no, but I'm really good a picking up vibes. I'm a good listener as well, if you want one."

Elisa looked into Sara's brown eyes for a moment and then sighed. "Well, I have . . . this friend and due to some recent snarls in my life, he thinks it would be best if I move in with him and his . . . family. As much as I love them, there are some members I can't even contemplate living with, and among other things, I just can't do it."

"Yeah, I had a boyfriend that hated the idea of me becoming a cop. I really loved him . . . but he wouldn't see it my way. He couldn't understand that I didn't need his protection, I guess . . . so we drifted apart."

"I don't think it's that simple for me. I . . .I can't leave them, any of them, not now, not ever. We've--been through so much."

"It never is simple. But talk to them, try to make them understand. They're just worried about you," Sara explained easily.

"I guess," Elisa replied abruptly, realizing that if she said too much she'd create more hassles she didn't need. The younger woman seemed to sense this, and smiled, pulling out a file.

"I pulled this up this morning on a hunch."

Elisa took the proffered file and skimmed it, looking at the mug shot of the case. "The bum we interviewed yesterday? Well, well, well, not so helpless after all. Fraud, embezzlement, conspiracy to commit a felony, robbery--"

"Not a good boy, is he?"

"Not really. And I'd bet he'd have a few more secrets to share if we push the right buttons," Elisa added slyly, heading out towards her car.

"Buttons?" Sara wondered, following. Elisa only smiled

* * * * *

Matt stood in the hallway and scanned over the precinct's bulletin board, trying to kill time. His eyes wandered aimlessly over the requests for apartment shares, Wanted notices, and parking memos. Amid this mundane array was a section devoted to welcoming the rookies to the 23rd precinct. Tiny snapshots of each person were thumb-tacked under their department heading. Matt took special interest in the one lone photo under the Detective department . . .

"Hey Bluestone, you're not on tonight," Chavez suddenly appeared in front of him.

Matt started. "Oh, hi Captain. Uh, no, but I have this meeting and my car was on the fritz and--"

"That's nice. Listen, while you're here can you get me the Scarpetti fraud file? You and Maza were last working on it, and since Elisa is with her rookie--"

"Of course Captain," Matt smiled, and looked quickly at his watch. He would be late if this went on much longer. "I'll get it to you right away," he ended with a note of impatience.

Chavez gave Matt a small and knowing grin, leaving. He took his chance and left, knowing he had only ten minutes to get to the castle by the sometimes unreliable taxi system. He cursed mentally about his car and he knew he was running a risk asking Elisa for the ride; if she had ever found out what was going on, they were all going to be dead.

So, after finding a suitable taxi and racing through the lobby of the Eyrie at breakneck speed, he was finally there, in the Great Hall of Castle Wyvern, with a minute left to go. Xanatos, already there with a small attaché case, gave the Detective an indifferent look.

"Goliath had to take care of something and said he'd be a bit late. If you'd care for anything to drink--"

"I'll manage," Matt clipped, though not totally unfriendly-like. He'd heard the entire saga of Xanatos from the clan and Elisa, and more importantly, knew of his membership to the Illuminati. So this left him in a bind; he detested the man for his interference in his friends' lives but yet Xanatos was of the Illuminati, and it never paid to make one of them mad.

In the middle of his mental meandering, Goliath came in, capping his impressive wing span and rumbling a greeting. He looked, at least as much as a gargoyle could, a little run down. This problem with Elisa was showing on him and added to that all the scummy deals with the Quarrymen, Matt felt sorry for him. Of course he'd never tell Goliath that, unless he lost all regard for his life.

Xanatos decided that the silence wasn't becoming. "I assume then, Goliath, that Elisa was not too impressed with the idea of moving into Castle Wyvern?"

"No, she was not," Goliath stated, though it was more than obvious to everyone present, and so reasons why weren't discussed.

"A pity," Xanatos said lightly.

"Well, we knew that was going to happen any ways. Elisa's a hard nut to crack, but at least we're getting somewhere," Matt began after looking at Goliath's flat eyes.

"What do you mean?" Goliath asked warily.

"Well, for one thing, she's moved out of the apartment and she's staying at mine--"

"What?!" Goliath's wings unfurled involuntarily and knocked over Xanatos's attaché case.

"She's finally come to terms with the fact that she can't stay there anymore. It's been tough on her, I think we all know that, but it's a start."

"Temporarily, of course," Xanatos added with a cool glance at Matt, who nodded stiffly.

"She cannot stay there," Goliath muttered, giving Matt a look. "So what do we do now?"

"She's stated that she wants a new place and is going to go looking. But frankly, I don't think she'll find much, not with her requirements, like a top-level place with a wide balcony."

"That's not a problem," Xanatos said shortly. "I have some connections in Real Estate, so basically anything is hers."

"She will not accept your charity," Goliath replied quickly. "Even after she finds out what you have done for the Mazas."

"I'm not saying she has to know--"

"I cannot go behind her back, Xanatos."

Impasse. Matt shifted his weight from foot to foot. "Well, not behind her back, Goliath. What if we just arranged a deal where she gets the apartment of her choice, really in all words, any apartment of your choice, and set it up as though it all just happened."

"Explain," Goliath ventured.

"Well, we find an apartment that is safe, you know, high up and close to the Eyrie, whatever. If the price is too high, then Mr. Xanatos could maybe kick in some extra cash, a supplement to her bill; something she won't be aware of. Then I show her the place and sell it to her. Simple as that," Matt finished. Goliath looked undecided.

"I don't like the idea of beguiling her into this."

"Well, look at it this way: would you rather have her back in the old place, which most of the world's wackiest know of? I know we can't guarantee her safety, but we can at least let her have her piece of mind. And if that comes at the price of lying to her, then I'm all for it," Matt said truthfully.

Goliath looked at him flatly, mulling the idea over.

"She wouldn't go any other way. Trust me, Goliath, we'll find a way so that she can't figure it out," he coaxed.

"I don't like this," the Gargoyle rumbled, bowing his head. "But . . .for her, it is necessary. Make it so."

"Done," Xanatos interjected quickly. "I already have several places that fit your requirements perfectly, if you'd care to see them."

Goliath waved an uneasy claw. "I have things to attend to, Xanatos. Perhaps later in the eve."

"Of course," the billionaire smiled. "Detective, if you'll come with me."

Matt shrugged and followed Xanatos as Goliath made his way out into the courtyard, where Lexington and Brooklyn waited. They had been listening the entire time.

"Well, at least she's getting outta there," Brooklyn offered when Goliath said nothing.

"I suppose so," Goliath finally mumbled, looking up to the waning moon. "I need to ask you two something."

"Shoot," Brooklyn said.

"It means 'go ahead'," Lexington offered at Goliath's bewildered look.

"I want one of you--taking shifts, of course--to watch her. Stay out of sight, don't let her know you're there, but stay to her. I fear Elisa is not safe and she knows it, but she will not do anything."

"But Goliath--"

"Please," he cut protests off quickly. "As a clan, we do not abandon our own. I will not abandon Elisa when she needs us."

Lexington gave Brooklyn a look, but Brooklyn shook his head. "Of course, Goliath. Elisa means a lot to us too."

"Then go."

The two of them leapt up to the Courtyard wall, talons grating into the stone. As soon as they made their way to the top, they watched Goliath below, who was still staring into the moon, his face troubled.

"He'll be all right. Things are just catching up to him now, you know, with Castaway and stuff," Brooklyn told his rookery brother.

"Yeah, I guess," Lex agreed. "But I hope things quiet down, and soon." He looked up to Brooklyn, "who goes first?"

"Rock, paper, scissors."

Each made a fist, shook them three times, and then went. Lex beat Brooklyn with paper over rock.

"Best two outta three?" Brooklyn asked.

"See ya!" Lex called, capering off towards the stairs. Sighing, Brooklyn leapt off the wall, caught an air draft, and sailed off to the precinct.

* * * * *

23rd Precinct

As it turned out, Elisa and Sara didn't have to hunt for their lead for very long. As the two police women were striding out of the precinct, the object of their search was being dragged in.

"All I wanted was a freakin' hot dog. He had a whole cart of 'em!" He was hollering, straining against the cuffs that were restraining him.

"I'm sure he did and he would have given you one if you had the money--" Morgan, the arresting officer, said with rolling eyes.

"Hey!" Elisa called, catching Morgan by the wrist, "just the bum we're looking for. Morgan, we'll take it from here. OC has some questions for him."

"Sure Detective, but don't be too hard on him, 'cause I'm next," Morgan snorted, pulling the transient's shoulder over to Elisa. Sara ducked to the other side of him and caught hold of his other shoulder.

"Like I said, much too healthy for your average homeless guy," Sara commented as she and Elisa hefted him down the hallway, kicking and screaming. After a brief struggle they got him into the first interrogation room free and set him down in his chair, firmly. He glared at them sullenly.

"It was just a hot dog," he muttered.

"Of course it was, but hot dogs are highly valued around here. Lessee, with your record," she hummed as she flipped through the file case that Sara had handed to her. "Maybe six months? A year?"

"Yeah, whatever, ladies. I want a lawyer."

"Oh? Do you think a state-appointed lawyer is going to further your cause? C'mon you know the deal, um--" Elisa hastily flipped through the file, "Edgar. You won't get nothin' unless you cut a deal with us." Sara shot her a look but said nothing. Edgar the bum fumed.

"Deal for what? I ain't know nothing."

"The Yakuza. Talk," Elisa clarified flatly.

Edgar was silent, glaring at the table with venom.

"Maybe Riker's Island? Most of the other places are pretty much booked full. Man, I'd hate to be you," Sara added sweetly as Edgar glared at her.

After a couple of seconds of silence, Edgar spoke up. "Get these cuffs off me, get me a coffee wi' sugar, and I'll hear your deal. It'd better be good, or I'm walkin'."

"To jail," Sara said off-hand, getting the coffee as Elisa removed the cuffs, giving him a long and measured look. He wouldn't try anything against them.

"All right. This is your ticket. We talk to the DA's office about this little incident so you only get community hours, and not a lot of 'em. You could probably use the work."

"I ain't doing no community stuff for a month."

"Would you rather rot in a cell for more? Maybe fifty hours, if you're lucky, okay?"

He grunted. "Whaddya want for it?"

Sara leaned forward. "Tell us about the robbery of Next Step. Don't play dumb either; we don't have the time."

While Edgar thought for a bit, Elisa flashed a reassuring look to Sara, who shrugged.

"I want this in writin'," he finally spat, folding his arms.

"Of course. But like my partner said, we're running short on time, so spill the beans."

"Fine, as long as I get into one of those witness protection things, 'cause I ain't no rat, 'kay?"

"Sure, just spit it out," Sara muttered.

"I'm gettin' there, just lookin' out for my own interests. All right, so, round Thursday or so, this man comes up t'me and asks about the computer place, hours an' stuff, when the employees go home, if the cops came 'round lots, you know, stuff. I tell him all I can and he leaves.

"Couple a days later, he comes 'round again and asks if I want some action. All I gotta do is stand outside the place and play lookout. I agree and he gives me this sweet cell phone to warn them if you cops came 'round. So I did that, an' they went in a got their things, and then the guy gives me five hundred George Washingtons."

"What did this guy look like? Names?" Elisa prompted.

"What do you think, he's gonna give me his life story or sumptin'? Naw, he's just some guy. Dark haired, didn't speak very good English, but he had a lotta dough. Any ways, I'm not done. Yesterday, after you two left me, this guy finds me again. How? I dunno, 'cause I had hid myself pretty good after you two, an' it ain't like I gotta fixed address, you know?

"So he says that I did a good job, an' he wants to know if I'd do it again, for more dough. I says sure, and he gives me the address to this place that they're gonna hit in two days, some 'Maddox Technologies' or sumptin'," he added at Elisa's suddenly bright face.

"You're sure he said 'Maddox Technologies'?" Sara repeated.

"Yeah, I got it written down right here," Edgar replied, producing a gummy piece of paper. Sara read it closely and saw a warehouse address scrawled hastily on the back.

"Verify that, Sara," Elisa said, and Sara exited the room.

"Why?" Elisa said not as a question, placing her hands on the table and staring at Edgar, who fidgeted uncomfortably.

"I dunno--"

"You do."

"Well, okay, but I better only get fifty hours. I guess this computer place got this new computer chip that's really top-secret, the hush-hush kinda stuff. A 'mi-cro-pro-cessing' chip 'pro-to-type', that's what they said." Edgar pronounced each word carefully.

"You got any names?"


"Spill it."

"Well, I got a Mr. Mizuno, the guy that gave me the phone if I need anything. Yeah, he's a part of the Yakuza, so don't ask. I can't find him and that's all I knows."

Elisa watched him for a bit as he tried to drink his now cold coffee. They would have to tell the OC unit of their news; however, Elisa doubted that'd they do anything to stop the robbery. The OC were sticklers for evidence, as they had to be, with their clientele's money-eating defense lawyers, which meant that they would probably watch the break in and take notes.

Elisa sighed, frustrated, as Sara came back into the room, handing Elisa a much needed coffee.

"Thanks," Elisa responded, surprised.

"It checked out. That warehouse is owned by Maddox Technologies, a new business that has just started up. They deal with up to the minute advances in microprocessors, robotics, you name it," Sara explained.

"Which checks with his story," Elisa added, jerking a thumb in Edgar's direction. Edgar sat attentively, trying to glean something for them.

"Maybe we should move, I think our songbird's ears are much too big for his own good," Sara said. Elisa nodded, and both women left, locking the door and leaving Edgar inside.

"Morgan, he's in 2A," Elisa called out as they entered the squad room. "Okay, so now we tell the boys in OC what we've found, and go from there."

Sara gave Elisa a calculated glance. "What are they going to do?"

Elisa eyed her back. "I don't know."

"What do you think?"

"That they'll take the easy road. Get more concrete evidence, make larger files on the ring leaders, try to set up contacts within the gangs, that sorta thing. In any case, I highly doubt that they will pursue the Yakuza after they watch the robbery; more likely than not, the gang will get away scot-free," she scoffed, fists tightening slightly. She had a brief flashback of the time that she had accosted Tony Dracon about the arms shipment robbery, before she had been shot. He had been right about his being 'untouchable'; unless something very drastic occurred (like her shooting and the way her colleagues had reacted when the rest of the NYPD had known that Dracon was behind it) Maddox Technologies would lose a half a billion dollar shipment while the cops watched idly.

"Wonderful. I'm sure that the Yakuza will make themselves available like this again. Won't they understand that this could be the last chance to get rid of them before they become to powerful? Or that a major corporation will lose a $500 million shipment?"

"We'll find out," Elisa said grimly, as she watched the brown-haired head of their contact within the OC, Lt. Daniel Jensen. He spotted her and weaved his way between the cubicles and desks of other officers.

"Detective Maza," he greeted nicely, extending a hand. "I'm sorry I haven't been able to get a hold of you beforehand, what with the system down and all. We've just finished sealing the Manacico case today, and it was a long ."

Elisa eyes narrowed slightly, but she offered, "Congratulations. Unfortunately, we've covered some major ground and we have a little problem now. I suspect we're going to have to decided on whether or not to move in on them."

Jensen's eyes widened and he sat down, both the women doing the same. Elisa shot Sara a troubled look that was promptly returned.

"What have I missed?"

"Well . . ." Elisa began.

* * * * *

"You were right," Sara said shortly as she buckled her safety belt, brushing her hair behind her ears in annoyance.

"Yeah," Elisa snorted, driving towards Brooklyn. "I knew they'd wait. Why take second prize when you have a small chance at first?"

"There won't be a first," Sara added tonelessly. "One of the contacts we located the first day informed me that this is their last stop before heading back to more friendly waters. They know that the heat's been turned on and they're not going to stick around."

"And if they do re-surface, it won't be right away and they'll come with more members. But in a way OC is right; after all, if they are caught, the only way we can pin the Yakuza for all of the other robberies is if we had solid proof of them committing it. By busting them now, all we would have would be the Maddox hit. And their fancy lawyers will dance in there and cut down any time they have to do down to nothing."

"But at least they would've been stopped. Maybe it would have prevented them from gaining more power here."

Silence followed, and Elisa gripped the wheel in frustration. "I wish I could do something," she spat, knowing full well that she had friends that most definitely could.

"We can't?" Sara said, surprised.

Elisa looked at her. "No, not unless we want to OC on our backs. Why?"

"But what if, say someone reported the theft to one of the beat cops, who maybe hadn't know about it otherwise. Someone would have to move in."

"Well . . .yeah, they would. It'd really dig the OC, but they'd live. We could also claim that there was a civilian inside. That would be grounds for a take-down."

"So, will you . . .?" Sara asked, looking her way.

Elisa grinned. "Do you have to ask?"

Smiling apprehensively as she drove by Washington Square Park, her mood faded when she saw the tell-tale Quarrymen signs peppering a large crowd, boisterously yelling slogans she was glad she couldn't hear.

"Bigots," she muttered darkly under her breath, momentarily forgetting Sara's presence.

"You don't agree with them?" Sara asked, looking at Elisa with mild surprise.

Elisa managed to look at her neutrally. "Of course not. They preach hatred and violence. We don't even know if these 'Gargoyles' are actually flesh and blood creatures. After all, the only thing I've seen has been film footage and a lot of robots--"


"Yeah, made by Xanatos Enterprises, about three years ago. Any ways, we all know how easy it is to create some computer generated images," she lied easily.

"But the thing at St. Damien's . . . .that looked awfully real. And so many eyewitness accounts! And the injuries people have sustained! Surely it can't all be a coincidence," Sara argued, looking back towards the Quarrymen's rally.

"Maybe not, but if it is, I see no problem with 'em," Elisa said flatly, watching Sara hard out of the corner of her eye. "After all, if they are the beings responsible for the capture of the Canmores, then they can't be the monsters the Quarrymen make them to be."

"If they weren't a threat, then why are they hiding? If I had fangs and claws and the whole works, I wouldn't be afraid of any human. What have they got to fear?" Sara replied stonily.

Elisa sighed deeply, and when Sara looked at her, she said quickly. "Well, whatever they are, I don't care. I just wanna get home and relax."

"Me too." Sara smiled in genuine sympathy, turning then to look out the window. Elisa, her eyes burning in unshed tears, felt grateful that her new partner, for once, wasn't being so observant.

* * * * *

Castle Wyvern

Goliath stood, watching Elisa as she leaned her palms on the edge of the castle's battlement. She was very quiet tonight and her face was strained, her eyes sad. Uneasily, Goliath had chosen not to wrap her up in his arms and so merely watched her, his face expressing the anguish in his heart.

"Oh Goliath, you don't understand how much I wished she thought the same way about you guys as I do," she sighed, the pain in her voice hitting his chest hard. "She understood so much, and she's such a clever cop with good instincts . . . .she would have been . . ."

"A great ally, and I do not doubt your instincts. I know that this fight is hard and friends few, but you taught me . . .not to give up. That is what has brought the clan through this, just hoping," he rumbled, stepping closer to her.

"Yeah, right," she sighed, and for a moment Goliath was confused about the meaning inside her words. But her face told him that she knew this to be true, so he said nothing.

"Any ways, I didn't mean to come up here and lament the blind sight of someone I respected. I need the clan's help."

Goliaths eyes narrowed and his gentle demeanor hardened. "You are safe?"

She waved her hand. "Of course I am," she explained blithely, not wanting to draw him into another argument. "It the case we're working on. We have an eyewitness that has put some names to faces and has promised us that there's a planned raid on one of the newer computer companies."

"This company . . .?"

"Maddox Technologies. They deal with micro processors, stuff Lex would love. Any ways, they're supposed to be hit in two days."

She briefly met his eyes, but looked away again towards the fading dusk. "I don't want to ask you this, and I hate myself for it--"

"We are clan. We stick together," he stated, stepping near her.

"My hands are tied. We're working with the Organized Crime unit, or OC, and they have told us not to do a thing about the robbery."

"Why on earth for?" Goliath asked, his expression one of disbelief. "I had believed that ever since the Dracon affair that the city had planned to be harder on such criminals."

"Well, it's like the old saying goes, easier said than done. OC wants to nail the entire group, and they can't really do it with only the theft charges. The Yakuza's lawyers would cut that down to kids' candy. OC wants to nail them for everything, and that means surveillance."

"I hardly doubt that they would 'stick around the scene of the crime' as Broadway would put it," the gargoyle snorted. They both heard footfalls and fell silent as the aforementioned gargoyle and Brooklyn arrived. They gave each other a look before greeting Elisa and Goliath.

"What's up?" Brooklyn asked.

"I need your help," Elisa murmured, a dark look in her eyes.

"Quarrymen?" Broadway prompted, flaring his wings and inadvertently knocking Brooklyn.

"Watch the face," Brooklyn warned with a smile, but his stance betrayed his anger at the mention of Quarrymen. "What do you need Elisa? I'd love the chance to take out some Quarrymen."

"Not this time," she smiled grimly. "It's the Yakuza--"

"The Japanese Mafia!" Broadway's face lit up. "Have they filtered through into the local gangs? Infested the streets of--"

"Thanks, Private Eye, but I'd rather listen to what Elisa has to say," Brooklyn said sagely, turning back to her. "Do you need us?"

"This is a force that threatens our city; of course we will be there to oppose it," Goliath announced, drawing himself up to full height.

"But I can't have anyone see you, or things will get worse," Elisa sighed listlessly. "All I have is Sara, and probably Matt; I can fill him in when we go house hunting--" she pretended not to notice Goliath's gaped look, "but that's still is a problem. Sara can't see you, and while I don't think she'd go as far as to hurt you, I'm not sure how she'll react."

"So we'll just have to be careful about things," Brooklyn said easily, but his eyes were serious.

"We can do it, after all, we fooled Matt for six months, and it'll probably be a while before she'll be even bothered by that," Broadway agreed.

"Then things will be done with care," Goliath echoed. "I will talk to the rest of the clan and we will come up with a plan of attack. I trust . . .you will be here later on in the eve, perhaps?"

Even though things had been strained between them lately, her heart still skipped a beat when she saw the look in his eyes. "Of course."

"And you can tell me all about your plans of moving out," he finished, and she detected something of a smug tone to his voice.

"Yeah. Well, I'd better be off and give the low down to Sara and Matt, if I can. See ya," she said warmly, giving Goliath a pointed smile that prompted an exchange of looks from Broadway to Brooklyn.

As she walked toward the battlement, had she cared to look back, she would have noticed Goliath glance quickly towards the moonrise and start very suddenly. The gargoyle leader quickly whispered to Brooklyn, whose eyes darted open in surprise as he hastily scrambled down towards the courtyard. Here was where the entrance to the Great Hall stood with its two massive oak doors that led within; inside the hall was where most of the battlements' spiraling staircases met.

Elisa, heading to Matt's house in hopes of finding him there, was going down.

Matt, heading to tell Goliath the scouting reports of prospective apartments, was going up.

And Brooklyn was fast enough to dash through the huge doors just as Elisa came within eye sight of Matt going up.

"Matt!" She called out surprised.

"Elisa!" Matt cried, almost in horror.

"What are you doing here?" They asked each other in unison.

"Uh, Matt's here to see me," Brooklyn interjected quickly, moving fast to hustle Matt outside into the courtyard. "We're going to inspect the, uh, tapestries in the west wing."

"I--" Matt began but was sharply silenced by a sharp gargoyle elbow in the ribs. He doubled over, eyes tearing.

"Matt . . .?" Elisa began, thinking he might have been choking.

"We gotta go Elisa," Brooklyn said hurriedly, hustling Matt away. "We'll talk to you later tonight!"

"Wait!" She cried, but Brooklyn had already made through the doors, forcibly dragging Matt. She looked in askance to the opposing doors. "The west wing is that way!"

Puzzled, she stood there for a moment, staring at the gentle sway of the doors. Why on earth would Matt be up here? Of course he's good friends with the clan, but he always told me of any visits he wanted to make . . .

A trifle annoyed but not upset, she forgot about it, reasoning that maybe that was indeed what Matt was there for. Not that she really cared, actually, it made her feel better that he was becoming a trusted ally of the clan's, not just 'Elisa's Partner'. Besides, she had to figure out the plan of attack with Sara first.

She continued her way down.

* * * * *

"That-" Brooklyn took a breath, "was waaay too close."

Matt held his side and grimaced. "You didn't have to elbow me so hard."

"Sorry. You think she bought it?"

"Yeah right, and I'm an alien ambassador. That was awful," Matt eyed Brooklyn, who shrugged.

"Well, she's got enough on her mind, so I don't think she'll care. Man, were you lucky that Goliath had warned me just in time. He'd totally forgotten about the meeting."

"Time flies when you're having fun," Matt said with a knowing smile, but for some reason Brooklyn felt gooseflesh on his arms. "I thought she'd be done talking to him an hour ago."

"I . . .thought so too," Brooklyn said distractedly. "Are you going to show her the apartment tomorrow?"

"I hope so," the Detective muttered, glancing upwards in supplication. He noticed Goliath look cautiously at them from above. "I haven't told Goliath about it yet, but maybe we'll stop by to see it tonight. Xanatos--don't ask me how--got the main key to the place, so we can stop in any time we want."

"To see what?" Goliath rumbled, suddenly landing lightly beside him.

"An apartment I looked at today on the on the Upper West Side. Brooklyn spotted it on one of his patrols and told me about it yesterday night. I spent the day finding out about it. It looks pretty good, if I may say so, Goliath. Xanatos approves of it."

Goliath looked at Matt stonily. "It will have to meet the clan's standards, not Xanatos's. We will see it now, before Elisa can come back. Brooklyn, you have your orders, and I believe it is your turn to watch tonight."

"Sure." Matt agreed warmly, but then suddenly blanched as Goliath hoisted him up into his arms and slung him onto his back. Matt let out a grunt of surprise and possibly sheer terror as Goliath began to climb the wall with his burden. The gargoyle reached the top and leapt, spreading his wings. A male human startled yelp was distinctly audible in the night.

Brooklyn sighed, but started to make his way to the top as well.

* * * * *

Matt's Apartment

Elisa dug into her pockets for Matt's spare key, darting her eyes from side to side. It was hard for her to remain calm, as it had been for the last few weeks, but lately, even though she had moved out of her memory-troubled apartment, she felt worse. Maybe not worse; like she was being watched, her every move being broadcast to any number of her unusual enemies. She had lost a large chunk of her security, that she knew, but she watched her fingers shake with disbelief.

Finally getting the key in the lock, she stumbled over a pair of Matt's running shoes and groped for a light. Illumination brightened the spartan room and she dropped herself wearily on his couch. Sighing, she relaxed, letting herself sink into the beige cushions.

Matt had told her about this great apartment he had found on the Upper West Side. It sounded amazing; a penthouse suite with a covered patio on the roof; a top of the line security system, bulletproof skylight windows (apparently the previous owners had been a tad fanatical), and at a very, very low price. In fact, she didn't believe the rent herself, being fifty bucks lower than what she had on the old apartment. If she didn't know Matt, she would be awfully suspicious, especially after Goliath's relatively calm acceptance that she was looking for a new place. With the way he had been arguing for her to move, he should have been floored. Actually, now that she thought about it . . .


Her beeper blared into existence and she twisted her face in disgust. Releasing it from her jacket, she glanced at the number and sighed. It was Sara, from Elisa's phone at the precinct. Something was happening.

She quickly dashed back to her still-warm car and drove as fast. Once, there she found Sara, playing with a small cell phone.

"What's up?" Elisa asked breathlessly, tossing her keys on the desk.

"Well," Sara began, handing her the cell phone, "Edgar got a call tonight."

"Don't tell me--"

"Yup. A check up. I was writing his deposition when it rang, and I had to run like I was on fire to get it to him. He answered, sounding a little too nervous, and then hung up."


"The hit's been moved up to tomorrow night. Seems they have connections at the precinct," Sara guessed flatly.

"So they know. All right, that means we'll just have to push things ahead," Elisa responded, reaching for a phone.

"Two, maybe three cops? Elisa, do you honestly think we could take an armed gang out? We can't even gather more, if the Yakuza have a plug in this place."

"I know, I know. Believe me, we'll have a bit of an edge," Elisa smiled a little.

"An edge? Like what? A hidden army? Monsters?"

"Just leave it at that. It's an edge. You think you'll be able to handle this? It's pretty hot, and I'm fairly certain my superior will not be very impressed if she knew," Elisa warned, drawing Sara away from her question.

"I can handle it," Sara replied, slightly narrowing her dark eyes. "I wasn't born yesterday."

"Okay, just making sure. It's not going to be a piece of cake, and I know what it's like to be in over your head when you're straight out of the Academy. I'm not going to judge you if you decide to back out now."

"I. Don't. Back. Down. I see things through. If we don't move now, then we lose them, and if I don't play my part, then you won't be able to do this."

Elisa gave her a bright smile. "Good. I'll get a hold of Matt and we'll run this through. Now, here's the layout of the warehouse . . ."

* * * * *

Elisa's New Apartment

"So, what do you think?" Matt asked hesitantly as Goliath ducked into the kitchen.

"The patio will need more covering and I do not like the wood of the door. Much too weak. I am not sure what she will think of the skylight in the living room . . ." Goliath trailed off, examining a window.

"If she's still uneasy about it, she can get rid of it no prob. The landlords won't mind, not with Xanatos' incentive."

"I don't know . . ."

"Come on, Goliath," Matt exclaimed, exasperated. "This is even better than you thought, admit it. She can't possibly get any better, at least under the circumstances. I know it's not the Eyrie-" Goliath shot him a sharp look and Matt humbled himself hastily, "but it's next of kin. And closer."

Goliath merely rumbled and ducked back outside, to the cool wind and the bright lights. Matt sighed as his cell phone rang.

"Yeah? Oh Elisa--oh, okay. Really? Sure, I'll be right there."

Goliath ducked back in. "What is it?"

"Elisa said the hit on the warehouse is supposed to happen tomorrow night, and we haven't started any kind of contingency. I should really start getting back there."

Goliath gave him a scrutinizing look, then turned to the rumbling city, letting the breeze shift his wings gently. "We will meet after, then, at the Eyrie. For the real contingency plan."

"All right. But Goliath--the apartment, I mean, we have to move on this. Elisa's already starting to gripe about how dumb she feels at my place now," Matt called as he started to make his way to the front door.

"And I would believe you would feel even 'dumber' if she went back to her old place," the gargoyle responded gravely, "but I approve of this for Elisa. Tell Xanatos to make it so." He then leapt of the balcony, snapping his wings open at the last possible second, and glided off against the waning moon.

* * * * *

Castle Wyvern

"So Sara will be waiting on the south-east corner, here," Elisa jabbed a finger at a small pebble on their makeshift map of the warehouse, "while Matt will be across the street and I will be on the south-west corner, nearest to the bay doors. From where Sara is, she can't possible see you unless she runs to the north-east corner or comes to my position--or if you guys are forced to detour from the front of the building. I'm hoping the gang will go for the obvious and take the side entry door on the northwest corner, where you guys can still see it. If not, then they'll go for the bay doors, which you guys will definitely see," she explained, pointing to the various pebbles.

"Yuir not worried ta 'bout an attack from above, then, lass?" Hudson interjected.

"Not really. They have a suspicion that we--the police--already know about it, so they'll be careful. A low flying helicopter, even in New York, would be noticeable. But, I did account for it and I'm hoping that maybe Broadway and Bronx," she favored each with a serious look, "will wait atop the building, in case. There's no fire ladder or anything, so Sara can't get up there, but if she hears anything--well, you know."

Lexington gave her a sheepish look, because he had been late for the meeting, showing up out of breath, right when Elisa had arrived. "Uh, could you go over exactly what happens if she hears us?"

Elisa cocked her head at him. "Well, the plan is that the second any of us hears anything substantial, we're going to trip the security alarm--"

"Won't the burglars do that themselves?" Lexington asked.

"No, they're not dumb. All the other robberies were discovered by civilians, the alarms untripped and untouched. Maddox Technologies has been warned, of course, and they added some flimsy cameras and sensors, but that won't stop them. So _we're_ going to trip the alarm to alert security and drag the whole precinct down there. Then OC can't touch us. At least, that's what we hope."

"You'll succeed," Goliath said firmly, and Elisa sent him a wary smile.

"Well, I hope so. Any ways, we've timed it down to seven minutes. That's how much time you will have to round up all the bad guys and get out of there before the circus arrives."

"Seven minutes? I thought this would be hard," Brooklyn replied sardonically. "And she can't see us, right?"

"Right," Elisa reiterated, giving each of them a look. "She especially can't see you. I'm going to try and keep her outside, if possible, but if we're forced to go in--"

"We can do it," Broadway stated. "The layout Matt gave us is pretty good, with lots of rafters."

"And you guys will have little headsets. The second everyone's covered, I want you gone. We'll meet back at the Eyrie. Any questions?"

Seven pairs of steady eyes looked back at her.

* * * * *

One hour after sunset, along the Hudson River waterfront

Sara and Elisa waited in grim silence. So far there had been little signs of anything around the warehouse, and Sara had kept checking her watch, and shaking her head.

"I don't like this, Elisa," Matt snorted quietly from his position closest to the warehouse, near a garbage bin.

"They'll show. Maddox Technologies has such tempting faults in their security, and they're probably feeling pretty confident. After all, seven hits is quite a string," the detective whispered into her head piece as Sara watched her. The rookie did not have a headset.

Sara turned her head as Elisa continued whispering. Suddenly, the lights around the area flickered and then darkened. She tapped Elisa lightly on the shoulder as she could faintly make out a dark-colored van slip next to the warehouse. Both of the police officers, crouching low, crept their way stealthily to their positions. Elisa gave Sara the sign for 'wait'.

Sara strained her ears as she crouched down low to the building, trying to catch signs of disturbance. Glancing behind, she could barely make out Elisa's small form, tight against the dark walls of the warehouse, but then she spotted a fleeting shape dash across the blue-black sky with . . . wings?!?

A shrill whirling sound tore suddenly into her ears, making her flatten instinctively. The sound diminished to a very low whine and there was a brilliant flash of light and sparks, then muffling darkness. Squinting, she could make out several shapes, and was a little alarmed to find one thug just three feet away from her. Stilling herself, she watched as some kind of sonic drill silently sliced into the wall of the warehouse; as she lay her palm carefully against the wall she was against, she could feel it quiver. Swallowing, she inched back and watched as three of the thugs slipped into the cut hole, the edges of which glowed a faint cherry red.

Sara counted to thirty, thumbed open the small cap of the controller in her hand, and was getting ready to push the red button to trigger the alarm, when she heard . . .


There was a loud crash that reverberated the wall she was against, knocking her over. As she recovered, she saw a dark shape loom above her. Depressing the button, she rolled out of the way just as the thug nearest to her swung what looked like a crowbar where her head had just been. Leaping up, she met her attacker just as he caught her arms. Swinging herself around, she stomped on his instep and jerked her knee up, catching him decidedly below the belt. He didn't go down, though, but instead charged right at her. As he was about to knock her to the ground, she leaned back, caught him beneath the crook of his arm and neatly flipped him over.

Sara took a gulping breath and noticed that Elisa pining one of the suspects to the ground. Unknown to the Detective, another thug was creeping up behind her.

"Elisa! Behind you!" She warned. As she started for her, there was a sudden commotion behind her and she was slightly alarmed to see a black-clad thug go flying by her. She spun around.

"Actually, I think that would be, 'Sara! Behind yourself!" Matt corrected sharply, but his eyes held relief. "You okay?"

"Yeah," Sara assented, slightly chagrined. There was another loud crash and both Sara and Matt spun around. "That came from inside! I know I saw three go in, so it has to be them."

She started towards the cut-out hole when Matt grabbed her arm. "You can't!"

She stared at him. "Why the--!"

"Wait . . . for Elisa," Matt commanded, flicker a glance at the warehouse and then Elisa, who had finished cuffing the two thugs that had threatened her. None of the thugs that were outside of the warehouse were in any condition to move. She jogged swiftly to them.

"Something weird is going on in there," Sara hissed quickly. "We have to check it out."

Elisa bit her lip, but nodded. "Protect the shipment, guys, it's worth half a billion."

Matt headed to the front entrance, while Sara and Elisa checked and then entered the warehouse via the cut out hole. Both women held their guns ready, eyes trying to scan the darkness.

Suddenly, a huge bang erupted from their right, and before Sara could jump forward and investigate, Elisa caught her arm.

"Wait," she commanded quietly, her grip on Sara's arm tightening. "We don't want to--scare them."

Sara frowned but followed Elisa as they both slunk forward, hands outstretched to feel their way through the darkness. The were alongside a large cargo crate, and they quickly came to its end. A feeble light suddenly blossomed to existence and Elisa threw out a halting arm.

"Check," she uttered quietly; police-code for "cover me, I'm headed into danger."

The Detective leapt out, gun ready, and yelled, "freeze!"

Sara ducked under Elisa and cocked her gun at . . .Matt.

He held up his gun in mocked defeat. "You got the wrong guy, but nice try. Very scary."

Elisa cracked a grin and relaxed. It was then that Sara noticed three black-clad men, bounded by poles of steel that had been carefully wrapped around them. She gasped.
"You did that?"

Matt paled and started to look sheepish.

"Yeah, would've thunk it?" Elisa cut in, try not to grin. The first echoes of approaching sirens heralded the arriving police force. "Here come the cavalry. I'll go round up some of the sleeping beauties outside. You two watch these three in here"

She left quickly, leaving Matt and Sara. "Not to sound mean, but I honestly can't believe . . ."

"Neither can I, to tell you the truth. I never thought I had it in me," he said gallantly.

"Amazing what you can do if you put your mind to it," Sara replied dryly, and bent closer to inspect the steel poles. "Your last name wouldn't happen to be Kent, would it?"

"No," he smiled. "Just Bluestone. And I really hate heights."

The sirens had become increasingly louder and they could hear rubber squealing against the pavement, with it came many voices. Moments later, Matt picked out a voice he recognized.

"Chavez is here," he whispered to Sara as the overhead lights suddenly flared into existence. "We'd better get front-side."

Both headed out as a large amount of cops headed in, surrounded the tied out criminals. Outside, Sara was stunned to see so many cars; there were press vans, a SWAT team van, and even an approaching helicopter. Matt grabbed her arm and half-dragged her over to where Elisa was, with Chavez and a few other officers.

"It's quite a coincidence," they overheard Chavez saying, a touch sarcastic. Elisa had a grim look on her mouth, as did Lt. Daniel Jensen.

"This cuts our case considerably, Detective. It will be quite a stretch to incriminate these men with just this robbery. I can't condemn what you did, but I can't say that I'm very pleased," Jensen added tersely as they watched the activity around them.

"I understand, but when we came upon them breaking in, we had to--" Elisa began.

"Bluestone! What on earth--" Chavez began as she spotted them. A hand touched her shoulder and the Captain spun around, finding a man and a woman behind her. "Yes?"

"My name is Mavis O'Connor, aide ta Mr. Nicholas Maddox, who owns this warehouse, "she motioned fluidly to the man, who did not smile. "We came soon's we heard that the alarm had been tripped, and it's not far away we were. We'll be needin' to know what's happened and what's been stolen."

"Of course," Chavez said, and then motioned at the warehouse, as the suspects were being put into a police van, cuffed and dazed. "This is Detective Elisa Maza, Detective Matt Bluestone, and Detective Sara Jasper, who were all responsible for the prevention of this robbery. They know more about the facts than I do, at least right now. I think it would be more beneficial if you would talk to them."

"Agreed," Nicholas said, shaking Chavez's hand stiffly. "Thank you."

Elisa watched him carefully as Mavis pulled Matt aside and rattled off a bunch of questions. They seemed very calm after almost losing a half a billion dollar shipment, and did not look alarmed in the slightest, more . . .annoyed, than anything.

Nicholas just watched everything with a raised brow. He even stifled a yawn at one point.

"Thank ye, Detectives," Mavis said quickly in her rich Irish accent, shaking each of their hands. "I'll be after gettin' the full report tomorrow. Good night."

As Matt and Sara looked at each other in confusion, Elisa listened to Nicholas say in a dry voice. "I never believed that they would be so brazen."

"Sure an' I'd have said the same," Mavis agreed as they strolled back to their vehicle.

"We really must improve our security. I should hate to think--"

Elisa couldn't hear anymore, and both had quickly slipped into the car. She watched it go.

"What was that about?" Matt asked. "You'd swear that they were more upset about interrupting their dinner than the warehouse being robbed."

"I wouldn't doubt it," Elisa commented, turning back to him. "Some people are like that. Maybe they'll be more concerned tomorrow, after spending a night thinking about it."

"Speaking of spending the night," Matt interrupted, "What do you think about that apartment I told you about?"

She looked at him warily. "Why?"

"I need an answer right away. The landlord has had tons of offers, and if you don't take it now--"

"Can't it wait until I see it?"

"Elisa! I mean it when I say it's perfect. It has everything you and yours could possibly need."

"All right, fine, call him up and give him a deposit to hold it. My checkbook--"

"All taken care of. I knew you would take it, so I took the liberty of putting one down. We can go tomorrow morning," he explained with a wide smile. She shot him a dirty look.

"I don't know about you guys, but I'm beat," Sara interjected. "Can we get going? I'd like to get some sleep before next year, and even that looks doubtful with all the reports I have to fill up."

Matt snorted. "Welcome to the NYPD. It only gets worse from here." He fell into step with Sara as the three Detectives headed for their cars. "Say Sara, did I ever tell you about the time I almost caught Bigfoot . . ."

* * * * *

The Next Morning

The room was wide, painted a soft yellow that gentled the sunlight. It had a large alcove window that looked out to the city and illuminated the set of stairs that went up to her bedroom. Everything was bright; the apartment had been specifically designed to minimize shadows. On the way to the kitchen, Elisa could see the tiny motion detectors strategically placed, and the thin trigger wires than ran along the windows.

She climbed the large set of stairs directly off of the kitchen, and was smugly satisfied to find them wide open and well lit, even in the weak morning sun. As she stepped through the patio doors, she was more than pleased to see her view of her city, along with the many plants and some potted trees that made up a kind of garden. Looking closer, she could see mini cameras peek out from under the trees, and there were motion lights by the patio doors.

Heading back down, she couldn't help but feel excited and happy. Matt was right; it was perfect for her. The extra large patio doors, sound-proof walls, reinforced windows, and security system were but a few features that gave her a rare sense of peace. She knew in her heart Goliath and the clan would approve. She smiled, and sat down at the mirrored bar, skimming over the lease agreement she had read at least four times already, still surprised at how low the rent was. With a flourish, she produced a pen and began to deftly sign the papers, her grin becoming wider and wider.

Once done, she sighed contentedly. It felt as though ten pounds had been lifted off her back.

Downstairs in the sculptured lobby, a pale haired man nodded to the doorman, who quickly opened the door for the spectacled fellow; the doorman recognized him from before. After pushing outside though the shining double doors, Owen Burnett paused on the street and looked up, way up, to where Elisa was, sitting in her apartment. He tapped his briefcase with his stone fist, looked away, and disappeared coolly into the throng of people.


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