Story Concept by Brian Dumlao.
Writing by Christi Smith Hayden.
Artwork by Christi Smith Hayden.
Previously on Gargoyles...
Brooklyn: "Wouldn't it be great to be a shapechanger?"
Lexington: "We could fit in anywhere."
Broadway: "We could make new friends...Maybe even love."
Lexington: "It's too weird_Kinda fun but weird!"
~ The Mirror
"This little piggy became a polar bear *poof* and this little piggy
became a fire truck *poof* and this little piggy become a gargoyle *poof*
and...oh, drat! All out of piggies!"
Alex clapped his chubby hands and laughed delightedly as his wide eyes
followed the merry figure of his Uncle Puck as the impish white-haired
rogue careened around the room. The three previously plush porkers, now
a bear, a truck and a chubby toy gargoyle reminiscent of Broadway lay
on the nursery floor before him. Puck landed and sat down cross-legged.
"Now, my boy. This is Transformation 101, turning one thing into
another and back again." He waved his hand over the polar bear and
turned it back into a fluffy pink pig. "It's one of the simplest
magics, doesn't even need an incantation. Just focus your will, see the
picture of whatever you want it to be in your mind, and will it into being."
Alex looked at Puck curiously and tentatively stretched out his hand.
The pig shimmered and morphed into a yellow rubber duck. The toddler squealed
"Yes, that's the ticket!" crowed Puck. "Let's try another,
Immersed in the magic lesson, neither one of them noticed the other residents
of the castle flying past the nursery window.
* * * * *
Angela and the Trio landed in the courtyard, full of high spirits.
"Didja see the look on that guy's face right before he landed in
the dumpster?" Lexington asked, scampering ahead.
"Oh, yeah." Brooklyn laughed. "Definitely not his night."
Angela rolled her eyes as she transformed her wings into an elegant cape.
"Aw, Angela, admit it," Broadway teased. "You thought
it was funny too." He walked closer. "I saw the smile on your
"Well," she relented, "I suppose it was...a little. Especially
when he came up with the banana peel on his head."
Lex skidded to a stop. "Hey, Hudson must still be out with Goliath
and Bronx. The TV is ours!"
"Great!" Brooklyn said. He looked over his shoulder at Broadway
and Angela. "Why don't you two go grab some snacks and I'll raid
the video library. Hudson can't hog this room all the time!"
"Sounds like a plan," Broadway agreed. He smiled at Angela.
* * * * *
Owen looked up from where he was feeding Alex in his highchair. The toddler
waved a gummy graham cracker at the gargoyles and squealed.
Angela laughed. "And a fine good evening to you, young Master Alex."
She regarded the blonde man patiently waiting with a spoonful of strained
bananas. "Bedtime snack?"
"Yes," Owen answered blandly. "Alexander sleeps better
on a full stomach."
"Who doesn't?" Broadway quipped as he dealt out a loaf of bread.
He had a system for the mass manufacturing of sandwiches, laying out the
bread in pairs, going down the rows slapping on condiments and thinly
sliced meat. He began stacking them on the tray Angela brought over as
soon as they were finished.
Owen observed the blue gargoyle's preparations coolly. "You could
have quite a career in the food service industry," he said dryly.
"Oh, yeah. I can just see myself working the night shift at McDonald's,
whipping up Big Macs!" Broadway said amiably. Angela giggled and
retrieved the soft drinks from the refrigerator.
* * * * *
When they returned loaded down with popcorn, sandwiches, chips and soft
drinks, Broadway and Angela found Lex and Brooklyn staring dejectedly
at the TV. The big blue gargoyle put the soft drinks and sandwiches down
on the coffee table. He glanced at the screen now playing commercials.
"What's with you guys?" Broadway asked.
Lex shook his head and cupped his chin in his hands. Brooklyn curled
his lip and growled, "Some nights it's just not worth getting off
your perch." He looked at their puzzled expressions and then back
at the TV, flipping channels. "Yeah, they're running it on this channel
"--And then these ... these creatures came down out of the sky!"
a woman was saying. "They were so savage, they sounded like animals
screaming! They grabbed the muggers and my husband and I ran for our lives!
We were afraid those things would turn on us next!"
The camera went back to the anchorwoman. "Yet another brutal encounter
between gargoyles and humans proves to be a mixed blessing. A violent
crime prevented but by equally frightening and violent means. What is
being done about this gargoyle problem? Our news team went to the monthly
City Council meeting to speak to--"
Brooklyn turned off the set and threw the remote down. Broadway and Angela
sunk down onto the couch with Lexington. They all alternately stared blankly
into space, shaking their heads and sighing heavily.
Angela broke the silence. "Sometimes I think I should have stayed
"You don't mean that," Broadway said anxiously. "People
won't be like this forever."
"Yeah, right." Brooklyn took a soft drink and popped it open.
"The only way we'd be accepted if we were like everybody else."
Lexington leaned on the couch arm and gazed wistfully into space. "Wouldn't
it be great to be human?" He looked around. "I mean it! To walk
around without anybody freaking out or attacking you. We could go do stuff
like humans our age do, go to the movies and sit in the theater instead
of sneaking in through the roof, even go to school." The small green
gargoyle sighed. "They're having the citywide finals in that video
game tournament I've been playing over the 'Net tomorrow. I even qualified
but I'm gonna have to be a no-show. If I was human, it'd be different.
I could walk right in with everybody else."
Brooklyn paused in mid-sip and raised his eyebrows. "Hmm, that would
be cool. We could meet girls." He and Lex exchanged an understanding
"Yeah," Lex agreed. "That would be intense!"
"You and I could have a real date," Broadway said, taking Angela's
hand. "I'd love to take you to fine restaurant and treat you to a
Angela smiled warmly at him. "That would be a treat, wouldn't it?"
"What are we doing?" Brooklyn said, rising to his feet. "It's
a great dream but face it, it'll never happen. It's not like we're going
to say, 'We wish we were human' and poof! There we are!"
* * * * *
Loud voices from the TV room echoed in the hallway as Owen carried a
sleepy Alex back to his room. The toddler turned his head in their direction
and opened his eyes blearily.
"---It's not like we're going to say, 'We wish we were human' and
poof! There we are!"
Alex's eyes widened at the word 'Wish.' He saw all four of the younger
gargoyles in the room and extended a chubby hand, imagining four humans
instead. He felt the magic tingling all around him like a warm, fuzzy
blanket and as it left his grasp and settled on his intended subjects,
Alex dozed off to sleep.
* * * * *
Brooklyn felt his skin starting itching all over, not exactly painful,
but pervasive and spreading. It itched everywhere, between his fingers
and toes, the webbing on his wings, even his scalp felt like it was crawling
with tiny little bugs. An involuntary spasm made him drop the soda can,
foaming dark liquid on the floor. "What the --" he started but
his body's sudden contractions forced the air from his lungs. He stumbled
and fell back into Hudson's chair. The room was spinning and his vision
faded to black.
Faint moans from the others roused Brooklyn. He had a vague impression
of time passing, the innate gargoyle sensitivity to the approaching sunrise
was very strong now. He groaned as he stretched his aching limbs. He felt
as if he'd been worked over with a couple of sledgehammers.
"Uh, guys?" Lexington said in a quavering voice.
Brooklyn finally caught his breath. "Yeah, Lex?"
"What was that?"
Peeling his eyes open, Brooklyn said, "Beats me. I don't feel so
bad now ... Jalapena!" He blinked in disbelief. "What happened
to you guys?"
The short human with the brown hair and large brown eyes stared back
at him and said in Lex's voice, "Us? What about you?"
Brooklyn spread his five-fingered hands and looked at them in shock.
His brick-red coloring had faded to a ruddy peach. The chronic pain in
the base of his neck was gone and his face felt strangely light. He reached
up and instead of his homely beak, Brooklyn felt a sharp-bladed nose,
a long chin, and soft, human lips. He leaned back in the chair, jumped
as his bare back hit the leather and yelped, "My wings! What's happened
to my wings?"
"What sort of magic is this?" the human female with Angela's
voice asked. She looked up with green eyes made even more vivid with her
toasty light brown complexion and sable hair.
"It-it'll be all right, Angela," Broadway said, putting his
arm around her shoulders. "This has happened to us before, remember
guys?" The heavyset blonde man shot a meaningful look at his rookery
"What's happened before, lad?" Hudson asked amiably as he walked
in. The old gargoyle stopped in his tracks, hand instinctively going to
his sword hilt. "What th' devil? Lads, Angela...." His eyes
narrowed and he drew his sword. "PUCK!"
They watched Hudson thundering down the corridor with Bronx at his heels.
Lex cleared his throat. "He's really steamed," he said. "I
wouldn't want to be Owen when Hudson finds him."
"He'd better hope Hudson finds him before I do," Brooklyn said
grimly. He stood up, swaying a little as he tried to keep his balance
without his tail. He looked back at them. "Come on."
* * * * *
Elisa waited impatiently for the private elevator to reach castle level.
When the doors opened, the person who greeted her was not who she most
wanted to see but not totally unexpected either.
"Hello, Owen," Elisa said. "How's tricks?"
"Good morning, Detective Maza." Owen gave an almost imperceptible
lift to one eyebrow. "Goliath has just returned. I believe he is
on his way here."
"Thanks, Owen." Elisa walked past him into the Great Hall.
"You're welcome, Detective," Owen replied. "If you'll
excuse me, I must attend to a few matters."
Goliath strode in, a smile lighting his face as his steps brought him
closer to his beloved. Before he could reach her, Hudson burst into the
"Owen! Puck! Whatever yuir bloody well callin' yuirself!" the
old warrior shouted angrily. "What possessed you to do it?"
He brandished his sword under the majordomo's face while Bronx snarled
The pale man looked at the angry gargoyle calmly. "I beg your pardon?"
Four humans staggered into the room. An angry young man with a flowing
mane of white hair and a sharp beak-like nose reached Owen first and grabbed
a handful of his suit. "I thought you were through with these childish
pranks," he growled in Brooklyn's voice.
"Brooklyn!" Goliath stared stunned at his second-in-command's
transformation. His eyes trailed to the blonde linebacker that was Broadway,
the short teenager with the studious brown eyes that was Lex and between
them -- "Angela?"
The sable-haired young woman came into his embrace awkwardly. "Oh,
Father! One moment, we were ourselves and then this! I don't understand!"
The lavender gargoyle stroked his daughter's hair tenderly even as he
glared over her head at Owen. "Well, trickster," he asked with
deceptive calmness, "Do you have an explanation for this?"
"It is not of my doing." Owen frowned and tapped his chin thoughtfully.
"However, I was giving Alex a magic lesson earlier. None of you were
in the castle at the time. Alex had his bedtime snack and went to sleep
Angela lifted her head from her father's chest. "But we were back
by then. Broadway and I were in the kitchen when you were feeding Alex."
"Alex." Lex chewed on a fingernail. "Owen, could Alex
have done this on his own?"
"Possibly. He grasped the essentials of transforming inanimate objects
"It's just ...we were talking earlier what it might be like, you
know, being human. What if he heard us? Could he do it?"
"Without being taught the proper spells?" Owen raised both
eyebrows. "Random magic at his age? How precocious!" He allowed
himself a small proud smile. "Still, it explains why he fell asleep
so quickly. A major act of magic like that drains a body's energy."
"Point is, laddy," Hudson said looking along the length of
his sword at Owen. "Can you change them back?"
"Only the one that cast the spell can undo it," the blonde
man answered blandly. "I'll have to work with Alex on it but he'll
need his rest first."
Goliath started to bristle and Elisa decided to intervene. "I think
we all need to calm down and think this through," she said reasonably.
"Alex is no more than a baby, not quite a year old. We can't really
blame him for this."
"Agreed." Goliath looked at his young warriors-turned-human.
"Why were you wanting to be human?"
Brooklyn crossed his arms over his bare chest. "Aw, we turned on
the TV and the nightly gargoyle menace debate was on and it was just too
"We rescued a couple from a gang of muggers," Lex added, "And
they were on TV saying they were more scared of us than their attackers."
"Guys, guys! You can't let these things get to you!" Elisa
said. "Most people aren't like that."
"Yeah, right." Brooklyn snorted and turned away.
"It will be dawn soon," Hudson said thoughtfully. "What
will we do then?"
"If I might suggest," Xanatos said as he strolled in, impeccably
dressed in Armani even at this early hour. "Maybe what the younger
generation needs is to see how the other half lives."
"Speak plainly," Goliath said. "We will need to get to
our places soon."
"They wished to be human, right? Because humans don't understand
gargoyles. Sometimes to really understand why people are the way they
are, you need to put yourself in their shoes." The billionaire looked
at the newly-made humans and stroked his goatee. "And face it, you
people are in serious need of a new wardrobe."
Elisa smiled thoughtfully as she looked up at the lavender gargoyle.
"I think Xanatos has a great idea, Goliath." She looked at Angela
and the Trio. "What do you say, guys? Want to try the life of a human
for a day?"
They looked at each other curiously but gradually, they all began to
smile with growing excitement. "You mean, go hang out in the mall
and stuff?" Lex asked hopefully.
"You will keep an eye on them, won't you?" Goliath asked Elisa
"I don't think they'll need a babysitter, they're all responsible
young people," she replied with a laugh. "But I'll check up
on them and I'll give them my pager number in case they get in trouble."
Hudson pointed to the window. "Looks as though we'll be spending
the day here." The rising sun caught Hudson, Bronx and Goliath in
their stone sleep in the center of the elegant room. Owen immediately
went to a closet and retrieved three small signs on slender metal rods,
placing them by each gargoyle.
Lex read one curiously. "'Medieval gargoyle, 10th century Scotland.'
What is this?"
"Whenever any of you gets caught in a public area of the castle
like this," Xanatos said, "We turn you into a display."
He shrugged. "We wealthy businessmen are known for our eclectic taste
in art. The same sort of display cards are up by the tapestries and the
armor so it's sort of hiding in plain sight, if you will."
"Did you know about this?" Broadway asked Elisa.
She smiled and looked away, slightly embarrassed. "Yeah, it made
a lot of sense but I didn't think any of you would appreciate it, especially
Goliath. You guys usually make it out to your roosting spots so it very
Xanatos clapped his hands together and rubbed them in anticipation. "Well!
Let's see about getting you guys street ready! Owen, you take the guys
and ladies, you follow me."
Angela and the Trio exchanged an apprehensive look.
* * * * *
In Fox's suite of rooms, Xanatos opened the closet doors. "Now if
Fox doesn't have something suitable in here, well," he laughed, "She'll
have to tell me exactly what she's been doing when she says she's been
Elisa and Angela peered in through the double doors at the racks of clothing
and shoes. "I'll be very careful of whatever I borrow," Angela
"Oh, think nothing of it," Xanatos said with a smirk. "When
Fox gets back from visiting her father, she'll be mad she missed this.
I'll leave you ladies to it and I'll go see how Owen is doing with the
Switching on the closet light, Elisa stood back with her hands on her
hips, shaking her head. "Her closet is bigger than my whole bedroom."
"Does Fox really wear all these clothes?" Angela asked as she
walked in, tentatively fingering garments at random. She pulled out a
tailored dress and held it against her. "How about this?"
Elisa frowned. "It's a little fancy for exploring the city with
the guys. You might want to settle for something a bit more casual."
The raven-haired police officer pulled open a drawer in the cedar-lined
clothes press. She took out some undergarments. "Let's work from
the inside out, shall we? You go have a shower and I'll put an outfit
Angela put the dress back reluctantly and began unlacing her tunic as
she went into the bathroom. "Is there anything I should know about
Elisa laughed. "It's pretty much like being gargoyle only with no
wings. Have you thought about what you'd like to do today?"
"The guys probably have the whole day planned."
"You know, Angela," Elisa said, coming to the door. "You
don't have to do what they want all the time. Isn't there something you
want to do for just yourself?"
"Well....," Angela said thoughtfully as she turned on the shower,
"There is one thing I've always wanted to do but the guys probably
wouldn't like it."
Elisa shrugged. "Hey, it's your day out too. You have just as much
right to do something you want just as much as they do."
Angela smiled mysteriously as she stepped into the shower.
* * * * *
Xanatos found Owen and the Trio in the storeroom, rooting through bins
of clothing. His assistant looked up at his arrival and straightened his
"So, how's it going, guys?"
Lex held up a Dilbert shirt and chuckled. "I didn't know you had
this stuff in here. What's it all for?"
"Christmas, birthdays, family gifts mostly. I was an only child
but I have lots of cousins and their families." Xanatos eyed Brooklyn
who was picking through the clothing disinterestedly. He crooked a finger
at him. "I have the perfect outfit for you," the billionaire
said and led Brooklyn away.
Owen soon led Lex and Broadway to a guest room where they showered and
changed into their new clothes. Lexington kept the Dilbert shirt which
went well with his slouchy, loose jeans, athletic shoes and an unbuttoned
New York Yankees baseball jersey. Owen had put some gel in his unruly
short brown hair to smooth it down and while he wasn't looking, Lex had
Broadway was decked out in a slimming vertically-striped polo shirt with
dark blue pants and jacket. Unlike Lex, he deferred to Owen's combed back
treatment of his wavy blonde hair and stood in front of the full length
mirror admiring himself. "It's sort of 'Miami Vice' meets 'NYPD Blue,'
don't you think?"
"You watch way too much television," Lex said.
"Hey, Hudson watches more than I do!"
Owen cleared his throat. "Gentlemen, if you are quite finished in
here, the ladies are waiting."
Elisa and Angela were in the dining room, helping themselves to breakfast.
Broadway grinned and said, "Hey, lookin' good, Angela."
She smiled back at him. Angela was wearing rust-colored slacks, an ivory
shirt, loafers, and a knit
cardigan in brown, rust and dark green. Her sable hair was caught back
in her usual long ponytail.
Lex and Broadway loaded up their plates while Owen left the room. Lex
looked around. "Where's Brooklyn? I figured Xanatos would be finished
with him by now."
"So I am." came the smug response from the door. Xanatos swaggered
in, smiling. Brooklyn came in right behind him.
Elisa grinned and muttered under her breath, "Boy, wouldn't Tara
"Tara?" Angela asked. "Who's that?"
"My downstairs neighbor. She likes to come up and use my computer."
Elisa laughed. "She has a major thing for 'Highlander' and Brooklyn
looks just like a blonde Duncan MacLeod."
Xanatos had decked Brooklyn out in black boots, black denim jeans, a
red Harley Davidson T-shirt and a black motorcycle jacket. His white blonde
hair was combed down and tied in a long ponytail down his back. A few
short strands had escaped and were draped rakishly across his forehead.
He sighed and slumped into a chair after getting a plateful of breakfast.
"It'll do," he said nonchalantly.
"Liar," Broadway teased. "You like the cool biker look."
"I don't remember seeing you wear that around the castle,"
Elisa said to Xanatos.
"That was something Fox wanted me to wear for her," Xanatos
said laughing. "I only wore it once."
Owen returned with a manila folder and placed by Xanatos's plate. The
billionaire finished his meal before opening it. "Ah. Very good,
Owen." He took out four thin bundles of money and a credit card.
"Here's a little spending cash for the day," he said as he doled
it out. He handed the credit card to Brooklyn. "I'll let you hang
on to this. Try not to buy anything really big with it."
Brooklyn looked it over. "Jeff Brooks?"
Owen flicked up an eyebrow. "It seemed suitable."
"So, guys," Elisa said brightly, "Thought about what you
want to do?"
"I want to go to the mall!" Lex said enthusiastically. "Manhattan
Mall has a video game
tournament going on right now!"
"I just want to eat in a real restaurant," Broadway said wistfully,
looking at Angela.
"Is there a motorcycle dealership around here, Elisa?" Brooklyn
asked. He smiled slyly. "I feel like a test drive."
Xanatos leaned back and murmured to Owen, "Make sure there's a two
thousand dollar limit on that card."
"Yes, sir. I've already seen to it."
* * * * *
The Trio and Angela went down with Elisa. They craned their necks staring
at the patch of blue sky up above, the sun barely peaking over the edge
of the nearby hi-rise buildings. She got in her Ford Fairlane. "Are
you sure I can't drop you somewhere?"
"Nah, we'll manage, Elisa," Broadway said. "Go get some
sleep. We'll be fine." They all waved as Elisa drove away and hailed
"So where do we want to go first?" Brooklyn asked as they wedged
themselves into the cab.
"Driver," Angela said firmly, "drop me at Nightstone Unlimited."
"Angela?" Broadway blinked at her.
Brooklyn's reaction was more to the point. "Are you crazy?"
"Yeah!" Lex agreed. "After everything she's done to the
clan, why would you want to go there?"
"Because she's my mother," Angela said simply, crossing her
arms. "This is my day out too and that's what I want to do."
"But Angela," Broadway said reasonably, "what if she's
"Then I will meet you at the Manhattan Mall later, as we planned."
She looked out the cab window. "Besides, I think I'd enjoy a few
hours to myself."
"Suit yourself," Brooklyn said grudgingly. "Just remember,
she's not to be trusted even if she is your mother."
"Nightstone Building coming up," the cabdriver announced. "You
getting out, miss?"
"Yes," Angela said without another glance at the others. "Yes,
Broadway sat and stared dumbly as she walked into the building. "She
didn't even say goodbye," he muttered under his breath.
"So, you guys getting out here too or what?" the cabbie asked.
"No, take us to the nearest motorcycle dealer," Brooklyn said.
He looked at his rookery brothers and lowered his voice. "I don't
like Demona anymore than you guys but if any of us could walk in that
building and come out again, it's Angela. Demona won't hurt her own daughter."
"Yeah, but," Lex shot a cautious look at the driver, "What's
she gonna think about Angela's little makeover?"
"I don't know." Brooklyn laughed. "I'd love to be a fly
on the wall when she finds out."
* * * * *
Angela took a deep breath as she stepped out of the elevator into the
executive offices of Nightstone Unlimited. The room was spacious and decorated
with sophisticatedly Spartan furnishings. The receptionist was staring
"Good morning, miss. May I help you?"
She leaned against the polished teak desk. "Yes, I'm here to see
"Do you have an appointment?"
"No, I'm her daughter. Please tell her Angela is here."
The woman looked at her exasperated. "Miss, Ms. Destine doesn't
have a daughter to my knowledge and I've been here four months."
"Just tell her Angela is here, please." She fixed the receptionist
with a piercing stare. "Please."
"All right," the woman sighed, "but when she says she
doesn't know you, I hope you're reasonable and I don't have to call security."
She punched a button on her console. "Ms. Destine? Sorry to disturb
you, ma'am, but there's a young woman named Angela here to see you. She
says she's your--"
The heavy double doors flung open. "ANGELA?" Dominique Destine
stood in the doorway, attracting stares from her jaded employees with
the startled expression on her face. The stunning redhead in a polished
business suit stepped towards Angela with hands extended and eyes wide.
"My child! What on earth has happened to you?"
Angela gave a little smile. "I'm sorry, Mother. I should have called
Dominique stared at her for a few seconds, taking in countless details
with her sharp green eyes. "You poor thing!" she said finally.
"Who did this to you?"
"Well," Angela searched for a plausible excuse, "there
was a little accident last night..."
"No, no!" Dominique gave her daughter a quirky smile. "Where
did you get these appalling clothes! They don't suit you at all."
She put an arm around Angela and ushered her into her office. As soon
as the doors were closed, her expression changed. "My daughter, you
must tell me exactly what has happened. What accident?" Her eyes
hardened to emerald chips. "Did Puck do this to you?"
"No, mother. It was an accident, pure and simple. Broadway, Brooklyn,
Lexington and I were all turned into humans. Father, Hudson and Bronx
are still gargoyle. There are people working on the problem and hopefully,
they will have a way to change us back by nightfall."
"Are the others with you?"
"No, I came alone." Angela bit her lip. "I thought maybe,
since we're both human, maybe we could spend some time together, not as
gargoyles," she looked into Dominique's eyes, "just as mother
Speechless, Dominique walked around her desk and sat down. She stared
at Angela for a few minutes, her expression an enigma. Slowly, she reached
forward and tapped her intercom.
"Yes, Ms. Destine?"
She switched her attention to the slim computer monitor. "Constance,
I need Head of Sales to chair my 10 o'clock meeting with the Gen-U-Tech
marketing people and reschedule my luncheon appointment but keep the reservation
at the restaurant for me." She smiled. "I'm going to be out
of the office until after lunch. I'll be back for my 2 o'clock meeting."
Angela beamed. "Do you mean it?"
"Of course, my dear." Dominique took a slim, stylish purse
from a desk drawer. "First thing we must do is get you some decent
clothes. I do hope you didn't pick that hideous ensemble out. It's so
"It wasn't my first choice, no." Angela looked down at her
clothes. "But Elisa said this would be more practical."
Dominique snorted. "My dear, NEVER trust the fashion sense of a
woman who wears nothing but blue jeans and T-shirts!"
* * * * *
Broadway took off his jacket and flung it over his shoulder. He walked
over to Lex who was playing his Gameboy in the shade of the building.
"So, where is he?"
Lex scowled. "You got me." He shaded his eyes and squinted
into the mid-day glare at the sound of an approaching rumble. "Here
comes Mister 'Born-to-be-Wild' now."
White ponytail streaming in the wind, Brooklyn thundered back into the
motorcycle dealership on a candy apple red Harley. He grinned and pulled
off his helmet. "Man, that was one bodacious ride!"
"That's what you said about the Yamaha," Lex said sarcastically.
"And the Kawasaki," added Broadway.
"And the Suzuki." Lex stuffed his Gameboy in his pocket and
crossed his arms. "C'mon, Brooklyn, you've had your fun. Let's do
"Yeah," Broadway agreed. "Besides, it's getting on towards
"Okay, guys," Brooklyn said with a laugh. He swung his leg
over and dismounted. "Let me return the helmet and the keys. I saw
the perfect place for us to have lunch at." He grinned wickedly and
Lex shook his head. "What do you suppose he's got in mind?"
"It could be anything knowing Brook." Broadway sighed. "I
wonder how Angela's doing with Demona. Maybe I should have gone with her."
* * * * *
The minute they entered the elite establishment, it was apparent that
it was one place that the name of Dominique Destine was known, respected
and possibly feared. The elegantly coifed manager hurried towards them
with a saccharine smile.
"Ms. Destine! How delightful to see you again!"
Dominique returned the artificial expression. "Maxine, this is my
daughter, Angela. She requires the deluxe makeover."
Maxine glanced at Angela shrewdly. "Oh, yes, definitely. That outfit
has got to go and the hair," she clapped her hands and an assistant
with a clipboard appeared. "Tell Giorgio he's seeing Ms. Angela in
a half hour. Clear his schedule."
"I believe we'd like to see something from your junior collection,"
Dominique said coolly, flicking an amused look at her daughter. "Something
suitable for luncheon at Le Ciel Azure."
"I have just the thing, Ms. Destine. If you ladies will follow me?"
Angela whispered to her mother, "Do you come here often?"
"The nice thing about money is how it buys convenience and subservience,"
Dominique replied. "I've always enjoyed a good hunt but sometimes
it's fun to let someone else do the dirty work." She shrugged. "I've
learned it's an effort to be a human woman in this world."
Maxine led them into a mirror-lined room where she seated the two women.
Several attractive models began to parade by in stylish outfits. Angela
watched in rapt delight.
Dominique leaned towards her. "You pick the one you like best, they
take your measurements and while Giorgio is doing your hair, they tailor
it to fit." She smiled archly. "I never buy off the rack, my
dear, and neither shall you."
* * * * *
"Hi, guys! Welcome to Hooters!" The buxom hostess beamed as
she ushered the Trio inside. The garish orange shorts worn by all the
servers were almost louder than the classic Top 40 music blaring from
the vintage jukebox by the door. A huge poster of the Hooters Nascar racing
team, car decorated with the familiar orange owl logo was on display near
the lunch counter. The restaurant was packed with people from all walks
of life; businessmen in suits, college students, families, and working
class stiffs. Brooklyn, Broadway and Lexington were shown to a table by
Lex hopped up on one of the high stools that served as seating for the
tall tables. "So what's so hot about this place?"
A pert ash-blonde wearing the obnoxious orange shorts came up to their
table. However, she had modified her Hooters T-shirt with a pair of scissors
and an amazing amount of cleavage was in full view. "Hey, guys! I'm
'Shell, and I'm gonna be your server today. Can I get you some drinks?"
Brooklyn flicked a look at his shell-shocked brothers. "Three Coca-colas,
thanks, 'Shell." After she left, he leaned against the table and
asked, "Did that answer your question, bro?"
Broadway shook his head. "Angela is gonna kill me."
"What for?" Brooklyn snorted. "There's nothing wrong with
looking, is there, Lex?" He looked across the table at the youngest
member of the Trio. "Lex?"
Lex was staring at the empty place where the girl used to be, brown eyes
wide and startled. Broadway waved a hand in front of his face. No reaction.
"Oh, terrific. You've killed Lex."
"Aw, he'll be fine once his hormones settle down," Brooklyn
replied. He reached over and snapped his fingers under Lex's nose. "C'mon,
Lex, wake up!"
"Huh? What?" He scowled at Brooklyn. "Don't do that, geez!"
Brooklyn grinned at his shorter brother. "There's no point in asking
whether you like it here or not." He looked at the menu. "Well,
guys, I say we grab some burgers, admire the scenery and head over to
the mall afterwards."
"Sounds like a plan," Lex agreed, menu in his hand and eyes
roving around the room.
"You are a bad influence on him," Broadway said sourly. "What
would Goliath and Hudson say?"
"Hey, Hudson would probably like it here. Remember in the old days,
he used to go into the village and have a few drinks with that blacksmith
he was friends with?"
Broadway smiled. "Yeah, I'd forgotten about that. You know, sometimes
I have a hard time remembering the old castle days. Somebody ought to
get Hudson talking and write them down."
'Shell came back with their drinks. She took their orders but things
slowed down when she got to Lex. He was staring at her helplessly and
was too tongue-tied to speak. She laughed at him and asked playfully,
"Hey, cutie! What can I get for you?"
"He'll have the same thing we are," Brooklyn said, rolling
his eyes. "He'll be all right when he gets over the hormone surge."
"No prob," 'Shell said, scribbling on her order pad. "We
get more guys bringing their kid brothers in here. I think it's awfully
sweet of you guys." She winked at them and walked off.
They all watched her walking away and sighed. "You know, Brook,"
Broadway said, "this isn't a four-star restaurant but it's got great
atmosphere." He held his hand out, palm up.
Brooklyn slapped hands with him. "Knew you'd like it."
* * * * *
Dominique was pacing impatiently in the private salon when Maxine reappeared.
She smiled generously and held the door open for the shadowy figure behind
her. "Voila, madam! Your daughter, Ms. Destine."
Angela stepped into the room, looking anxiously at her mother for her
reaction. It was not long in coming.
"Angela, my child!" The red-headed woman beamed, the smile
creeping uncharacteristically up into her eyes. "An excellent choice.
You look beautiful." She glanced at the manager. "Another masterpiece,
Maxine. Well done."
The elegant woman nodded her head gracefully. "It's easy when you
start with such an attractive young woman."
Angela caught a glimpse of herself in the mirrored wall and turned around
to admire her new look. She had chosen a classically styled sleeveless
dress and matching tailored jacket in warm periwinkle polished silk. The
vivid color made her toasty skin tone glow and made her emerald eyes shine
even more brilliantly. Her skirt stopped modestly above the knee and beige
high-heeled pumps lengthened and shaped the contours of her legs. The
hairstylist had cut six inches off her hair, Angela refused to let him
cut more, and had re-layered it slightly to flatter the shape of her face.
He had done some sort of sorcery with strange gels and lotions and styled
her hair with an off-center part that lifted her heavy locks into a simple
and elegant creation. A light application of cosmetics completed the look
and in all her life, Angela never thought she would ever look so much
like a princess.
"I can't believe this is really me," she said, looking at her
reflection, fingers lightly touching the glass.
"Believe it, my dear." Dominique came up and stood besides
her. Without their individual gargoyle coloration and traits, the similarity
between mother and daughter was clearly apparent. They shared the same
eye color, face shape and figure. Angela's features still had the soft
roundness of youth while Dominique, even in human form, had the sharpness
honed by ages of bitter loneliness. Still, as her eyes rested on her daughter's
image in the mirror, a small trace of tenderness entered her expression.
She handed a platinum credit card to Maxine. As the woman rushed off,
Dominique said, "This was a pleasant morning's diversion. Are you
ready for lunch?"
"Yes, mother." Angela tugged at the sleeves of her new jacket.
"Do you do this often?"
"When necessary." She glanced at the doorway. "Have you
given any thought to what you will do if you do not go back to your original
form at sundown?"
"Ever since the accident, it's been hard thinking of anything else."
Angela frowned. "I did not wish for this. I have always known who
and what I was and I have always been at peace with myself." She
turned and looked at Dominique. "Mother, I'm not sure what I'll do
if I don't return to my true self."
"I can help, you know," Dominique said in a lowered voice.
"I've made a lengthy study of magic over the centuries and I have
a spacious house all to myself. There is more than enough room there for
you to come live with me, my dear, if you so choose."
The look in Angela's eyes were hopeful, yet wary. "I'm not sure,
Mother. I'd love to visit but I know Father would be terribly upset if
I moved away from the clan."
The red-headed woman frowned but before she could speak, Maxine re-entered
the room with a small, leather-bound folder and a gold pen. Dominique
signed the bill with a minimum of chit chat and she and Angela were out
the red door of the establishment and into a waiting cab in minutes.
"Driver, Le Ciel Azure," Dominique ordered curtly. She turned
to her daughter. "You'll enjoy this restaurant, my dear. It's one
of my personal favorites."
Angela smoothed out the fabric of her skirt and looked out the window
pensively. "So many people. I never see crowds like this at night.
Families on outings, children playing ... it's a whole different world."
"It could be our world," Dominique said, "if we wanted."
The sable-haired young woman leaned back in the seat. "I think there's
room enough for all of us out there, day and night dwellers alike."
Dominique frowned but said nothing. The cab soon pulled up to a glass
and chrome structure not far from the Manhattan Mall. The large teal-tinted
circle above the entry proclaimed the restaurant name, Le Ciel Azure,
in elongated elegant letters. The red-haired executive marched up to the
maitre d' imperiously and demanded her table. While he scurried off to
see to her reservation, a striking woman entered the restaurant. Her hair
was black as night and her gray eyes seemed to take in every detail at
once. She spotted them right away.
"Dominique Destine! How good to see you again!" The tall woman
with a faint Irish accent held out her hand. "Mavis O'Connor, Maddox
Technologies. We were at the Manhattan Women in Business luncheon last
"Yes, of course," Dominique said smoothly. "Ms. O'Connor.
How are you?"
"Quite fine." Mavis looked Angela over shrewdly. "Now
isn't she a lovely young lady. Your niece, is it?"
"My daughter, Angela Destine. She's visiting me today."
Mavis's eyes widened slightly. "Sure and you're jokin' me! It's
much too young you look to have such a well-grown daughter."
"I age very well," Dominique replied dryly. "Angela, this
is Mavis O'Connor. She represents a new company in town."
"I'm pleased to make your acquaintance, Ms. O'Connor," Angela
said politely. Something about the woman's intense stare made her uneasy.
"And I yours, dear." Mavis smiled and looked back at Dominique.
"I had no idea you were married with family."
"Angela's father and I parted ways many years ago," she answered.
"It was unpleasant and I don't care to dwell on it."
"I've had ex-husbands like that. I know exactly what you mean,"
Mavis said. She turned her attention to Angela. "So where is it you've
been living, Angela?"
She blurted it out without thinking. "Avalon."
Mavis blinked. "Avalon...?"
"Avalon, New Jersey," Dominique added, recovering smoothly.
"But I live with Father now." She looked at her mother gratefully.
"I'm looking at colleges."
"It's Bryn Mawr I'd be recommending, that's an exceptional school
for studious young women," Mavis said, "but there are many fine
schools right here in Manhattan."
The maitre d' took that moment to return, and mercifully they were spared
further conversation. Angela whispered to her mother, "Thank you.
She caught me off guard."
"Never forget that and never do it again." She gave her daughter
a stern, unhappy frown. "That woman is sharper than a sword blade
and I know very little about her. Now she knows more about me than I do
her and I don't like that at all."
They were seated at a private table at a discreet distance from the others.
Dominique ordered a light lunch and Angela followed suit. The red-haired
woman crossed her arms and leaned against the table.
"It is inconvenient being human at times," Dominique said bluntly,
"but you will find it has a few advantages. You can hide in plain
sight from fools like the Quarrymen and you are no longer vulnerable during
the day." She looked down at her blunt, five-fingered hands. "I
despise humans, they have brought me only betrayal and grief. Like you,
I did not ask for this form but it has its uses."
"I don't know that I will make a good human," Angela said.
"I have no skills to fall back on. We led an uncomplicated life on
"Nonsense," Dominique snorted. "You are the best of Goliath
and myself, as much as I loathe your father and his faith in humanity,
he was a worthy mate and a good leader. No child of ours will ever be
Angela turned her water glass between her hands. "Do you really
hate Father that much?"
"I think he is a naive fool and his dreams of peace are just that,
foolish dreams." She sighed and her eyes grew distant. "But
once, ah, my daughter! Goliath was a force of nature to be reckoned with!
He was the best possible successor to Hudson, it was evident even when
he was a novice warrior and I was proud to serve as his second-in-command
and to be his mate."
"What happened?" Angela asked. "I know Father's side of
the story and what the others have told me. But what about you, Mother?"
Her eyes softened. "I cannot imagine what your life must have been
Dominique sighed bitterly. "My story is a tale much too long for
one telling. Suffice it to say, I've been hunted and hated and feared
for over a millennia and never in all that time, have I known love."
"All things change, Mother," Angela said. "Even that."
* * * * *
Lexington was admiring his new acquisition as the Trio ambled down the
street. "It sure was nice of 'Shell and the girls to sign this for
me," he said, carefully rolling up his Hooters T-shirt and tucking
it under his arm.
Brooklyn and Broadway exchanged a bemused look over his head. "Well,
maybe they felt sorry for you," Broadway said jovially, "the
way you kept hyperventilating every time they came to our table."
"And a nice big tip helped too," Brooklyn added. He reached
over and started to touch Lex's cheek but his younger brother dodged him.
"You know, that lipstick's probably going to have to wear off."
"Hmmph! You're just jealous 'Shell didn't kiss you!" Lex taunted
and ran ahead to get out of range of the kick Brooklyn aimed at the seat
of his pants.
"Give the kid a break, Brook." Broadway chuckled. "I didn't
get kissed either."
"Yeah, well, at least you have someone to kiss you on a regular
basis." Brooklyn sighed and watched Lex walking a half a block ahead
now, approaching the mall that loomed closer. He ran his hand over his
Broadway looked at him curiously. "You keep doing that, bro. What's
the matter? Don't like your new face?"
He shook his head. "It just feels weird having a flat face, that's
all. I'm used to seeing a big red beak in my line of sight and having
a knot in my neck from the weight of it." He rolled his shoulders.
"I would like to have a chance to kiss a girl, though. I never have,
"No, never have." Brooklyn thrust his hands in his pockets.
"The beak works fine, puckers and everything but even back in the
old castle days, fooling around with our rookery sisters, no one ever
wanted to kiss me. Beak scares 'em off." He sighed. "Probably
scared Angela off."
Broadway frowned. "Are you still jealous of Angela and me? I thought
you were over that."
"Maybe just a little," Brooklyn admitted. "I'm fine with
it, really. Somewhere there's a mate for me, I just haven't found her
Lexington looked back at them from the street crossing and bellowed,
"Hey, c'mon you guys! Stop dragging your tails!"
Broadway waved him on. "We'll meet you there!" He and Brooklyn
watched Lex break into a trot, dodging pedestrians as he headed single-mindedly
for the mall.
"What's the big deal?" Brooklyn asked.
"It's that video game tournament," Broadway replied. "While
you were out joyriding, Lex told me all about it. He called before we
left the castle and they still had his place reserved for him."
"I guess we'll know where to find him," Brooklyn said wryly.
* * * * *
Lexington was out of breath and panting by the time he hurtled through
the doors of the Manhattan Mall. Fortunately, the video game tournament
was well advertised and only a short distance away. There were still a
few last minute entrants filling out registration cards. Lex only had
a moment's hesitation over 'Name,' scribbling 'Lex Thomas' on the appropriate
blank. The rest of the form was pretty much the same thing they used for
the Internet games.
He glanced around at the other competitors. They were mostly teenagers
with a few stand outs. A burly guy with a square jaw and a habitual scowl
stood by himself, staring the others down. An upbeat Romeo with black
hair and green eyes was chatting up the girls. He found himself meeting
the eyes of a serious-looking blonde girl with a ponytail and a pencil
behind her ear. She rolled her blue eyes at the others, snorted and went
back to reading the computer manual in her hands.
She looked safe enough to talk to, Lex thought, and the book looked pretty
interesting too. He walked over and leaned against the low wall nearby.
"So," he began, "you here for the tournament?"
"Uh huh," she replied, sticking her finger in the book. "You?"
"Yeah." He gestured around the room. "I don't know anybody
here, do you?"
"I know a few of 'em," she said pointing. "The big flirt
is Wraith and the tough-looking guy is Hudson." She laughed. "He
fell into the river when he was a kid and the name stuck, along with most
of the river. It was really polluted back then. He's really a sweetheart,
he just talks the talk and walks the walk. He and Wraith are both top-ranked
Lex's eyes widened. "So that's what they look like. I've played
them on the net, they're good."
"Yeah? What's your handle?" The blonde girl looked at speculatively,
sizing him up.
"Lex. What's yours?"
She laughed. "Oh, you'll never find out until it's too late but
you can call me Liz."
The games master, a young man wearing a T-shirt with the tournament sponsor's
logo splashed prominently across it, came into the waiting area. "Okay,
people, listen up! We're gonna start the tournament in a few minutes.
The first few elimination rounds with be a variety of games, with the
skill levels increasing as we go along. By unanimous vote, you have chosen
Quake for the last three rounds. Are you ready?"
"Yeah!!" Lex and the others chorused.
"Then let the games begin!"
* * * * *
Brooklyn and Broadway looked up with the other customers in the mall
when the yelling started at the unoccupied storefront now housing the
video gamers. Broadway laughed. "Sounds like Lex is gonna have some
fun this afternoon." He looked around at the multitude of stores
and vendors filling the mall. "So, what do you want to look at?
"I don't know," Brooklyn answered. His eyes scanned the mall
surroundings. They were standing in full view of a huge glass-paneled
wall filling the building with warm sunlight. There was a clear view of
seven levels of shopping possibilities, two lower where the video tournament
crowd was and five more upper levels including the one they were on. The
gargoyles had spent a lot of time looking down from those windows, watching
people swarming around below like ants and now here he and Broadway were,
on the ground looking up. "It feels weird being one of the little
people," he commented finally.
Broadway looked at him in surprise. "Yeah, I guess it does. Still,
we might as well make the most of it." His chest swelled expansively
as he took a deep breath. "There's all kinds of things here that
we'd never get to do or see if we were gargoyles. Let's seize the moment,
Brook. We'll never get this chance again."
By the time they had reached the end of the first row of shops on the
main floor, Brooklyn and Broadway decided quite amiably to split up. Brooklyn
didn't waste time on mundane items; only the trendiest and most stylish
things caught his eye. Broadway tended towards a more thorough investigation
of his surroundings and his rookery brother's impatient pacing and foot-tapping
was getting on his nerves. They agreed to meet later on the main floor
overlooking the video game tournament and went their own ways.
Now that his reading skills were better, bookstores held a special allure
for Broadway. On one of the upper floors, he hit "The Motherlode", a store
with a huge mystery book section. He picked out a new Robert Parker and
a Lawrence Block for himself and a new Ellis Peters for Hudson, who was
fond of the 11th century setting of the Cadfael mystery series. He took
his purchases back down to the first floor and took a seat in the filtered
sunshine where he could both read and keep an eye out for Angela.
* * * * *
The two businessmen had been eyeing them all during lunch. Angela had
been trying to ignore them but one of them had caught her glancing at
them and given what he probably thought was an encouraging smile. She
thought it just made him look greasy. Finally, as she and Dominique nibbled
on delicate slivers of fruit and icy kiwi sorbet, the two men made their
move and came to their table.
"Ladies," the taller of the two said, "my friend and I
were wondering how two such lovely creatures as yourselves would like
some company on such a beautiful day?"
Angela honestly didn't know what to say and shot a look across the table
at her mother. Dominique's face was calm, composed, even pleasant -- but
her left hand had a white-knuckled grip on the silver table knife.
"I don't believe so," Dominique purred with a hard glint in
her eye. "My daughter and I are having a private conversation."
Both men did a double take between the two women. "You're kidding,"
the shorter one finally said. "Begging your pardon, but you don't
look old enough to be her mother."
Angela caught the minute shift in her mother's body language and spoke
up quickly before blood could be spilled, "Gentlemen, please leave
us alone. We do not want or desire your company." They started to
protest and she stopped them with a look. "Leave now before I call
The two men went away, muttering rather uncomplimentary things under
their breath. Angela let out a deep breath and relaxed. She looked at
Dominique and smiled in relief. "For a minute there, Mother, I thought
you were going to attack them with that knife."
Dominique examined the table knife still clenched in her hand in surprise.
"No, I don't think so." She tested the edge with the ball of
her thumb. "It has too fine an edge. For truly annoying pests, I
use a spoon," she said archly, holding up that particular utensil.
Angela stared at her mother in disbelief for a few seconds before starting
to chuckle, covering her mouth with her hand. Dominique kept her straight
face for a full minute before she looked at the spoon in her hand and
gave in to the ridiculous. Mother and daughter both laughed until tears
came to their eyes.
* * * * *
Up on the fifth floor, Brooklyn had spent the better part of an hour
browsing in an unusual store. They had books, compact discs and fine art
prints, very reminiscent of a classic British bookstore. He did love a
good Harley but Brooklyn was also a closet Shakespeare fan and there were
more than enough titles to catch his interest.
He felt a little bad ditching Broadway. Ever since his rookery brother
began stepping out with Angela, the old Trio hadn't been the same. Privately,
Brooklyn and Lex were terribly jealous but were determined not to show
it. Lex was coping by throwing himself into his computers and Internet
buddies. Brooklyn kept reminding himself that he was being groomed for
leadership and that a leader is expected to make sacrifices for the good
of the clan. It was a noble speech but no matter how many times he repeated
it to himself, it didn't make a bit of difference. Angela's rejection
had left its mark on his heart.
Brooklyn selected a couple of books and bought them, wandering back out
to the mall. There were more people now, he noticed, and it was getting
warmer especially this close to the skylight. He set his books down and
started to pull off his jacket.
* * * * *
The brunette leaned over the rail. "Mmm-mm-mm! Girls, do you see
what I see?"
"What is it, Stormy?" the blonde asked.
"Ooo, nevermind," the redhead said. "I got radar lock
and I'm ready for target acquisition!"
They were all fixated on the tall guy walking out of the store across
the breezeway. His white blonde hair was pulled back in a ponytail with
a few wispy strands falling across his forehead. He put his purchase down
on a bench and pulled off his black leather jacket.
The blonde gasped. "Be still my heart!"
"Yum! Would you look at that build?" the redhead said with
a carnivorous glint in her eye. "I just love broad shoulders!"
Stormy eyed the other two mall babes. "Kellie, Corrine, what on
earth are we doing on this side?" She pointed. "We gotta go
stake our claim before somebody else snatches him up!"
* * * * *
Brooklyn flung his jacket over his shoulder, tucked his purchases under
his arm and headed towards the booming sound coming from the music store
up ahead. He was unaware of being stalked by the three predatory young
women shadowing him on the opposite side of the breezeway. He walked into
the store and began looking for the latest Smashing Pumpkins CD. He laid
his jacket down while he sorted through the plastic cases.
A movement out of the corner of his eye caught his attention and he turned
to see a sultry redhead in an electric blue mini dress putting on his
leather jacket. "Uh, excuse me," Brooklyn said gruffly, "That's
my jacket you have there."
She smiled and sashayed towards him, wicked grin playing around her mouth.
"But it's just my size," she said teasingly, "And so are
Brooklyn's mouth went dry. His brain went off-line temporarily while
he stared at the girl dumbly.
She laughed and put out her hand, tugging back the sleeve to allow it
out. "Hi, I'm Corrine. What's your name?"
"B-brook," Brooklyn stammered as he shook her hand. "I'm
Brook. Do you always go around trying on guy's jackets?"
"Just the leather ones," Corrine said impishly. "I think
guys that wear leather are hot."
Two other girls came up behind her. One had shoulder-length brunette
hair with severe bangs running straight across her forehead. She was wearing
a stone-washed black denim jacket and pants with a black T-shirt and a
silver lightning bolt pendant. The other girl had short, curly blonde
hair combed into a side-parted flip and was wearing a dark blue dress
with a flared skirt. The brunette tapped Corrine on the shoulder.
"Oh, yeah. These are my friends, Stormy," Corrine nodded at
the brunette, "and Kellie." The blonde waved shyly. "We
were going to hang out at the coffee bar. Want to come with us?"
All three girls smiled alluringly at him.
Brooklyn felt the start of a silly grin coming on and forced it down,
concentrating on staying Brad Pitt cool. "Maybe." He raised
an eyebrow. "Will I get my jacket back?"
Corrine gave him a sexy, come-hither look. "Well, we'll just have
to what you can give me in trade."
Tucking his package under his arm, Brooklyn grinned at the girls. "Ladies,"
he said grandly, "lead the way." The day was looking up.
* * * * *
Dominique stood at the open door of the cab, looking at her daughter.
"Are you sure I cannot drop you somewhere, my dear? It would be no
trouble at all?"
Angela smiled and shook her head. "No, thank you, Mother. I can
see the mall where the guys are supposed to meet me from here." She
looked up at the daytime sky. "Besides, I think I'll enjoy the sunshine
while I can."
"I understand completely," Dominique said with a wry smile.
"Let me know if your situation does not change tonight. I have some
small skill in such matters."
"I'll let you know," Angela promised. She took a step forward
and brushed her knuckles across where her mother's brow ridges would have
been in a traditional show of gargoyle affection. "Thank you, Mother.
I will never forget today."
Dominique blinked very hard several times and returned the gesture. "Neither
will I, my child, neither will I." She sat down in the taxi and began
to shut the door. "Perhaps, we could do this again?"
"I'd like that, Mother." Angela smiled as she stepped away
from the curb. "Good bye."
The red-headed woman nodded. "Farewell then, Angela. Driver! Nightstone
Angela watched as the taxi cab pulled away into the afternoon traffic.
She took a deep breath and smiled, feeling the warmth of sunlight on her
skin. Such a delightful day. She started walking in the direction of the
mall but only got a few yards before she was abruptly jerked off her feet.
"Whoa there, miss!" Strong arms caught her and Angela looked
up into an ordinary face. The young man smiled at her warmly. "Are
you all right? Your shoe got stuck in the grate."
She glanced down. He was right, she hadn't been looking where she was
going and walked right into the recessed metal grid. Angela composed herself.
"How foolish of me," she said, brushing her hair from her face.
She started to bend down for the shoe when he stopped her.
"Please, miss, allow me." He bend down and while he gently
pried the shoe free, Angela got her first good look at him. Her Good Samaritan
was roughly Brooklyn's size with an average build and chestnut brown hair.
He smiled as he handed her the beige pump, sunshine flashing briefly on
gold-rimmed glasses and she had an impression of blue eyes. He stood up
as she slipped it on.
"Thank you," Angela said gratefully.
"Oh, it was nothing. Just my good deed for the day," he said
with a laugh and started to walk away.
Angela only managed a few steps before a screaming pain shot up from
her ankle. She limped to a nearby bench, dusted it off and sat down to
rub her foot.
"Hey, are you sure you're all right?" The friendly young man
sat down a polite arm's length away. He held out his hand. "I'm Richard,
"Angela ...Destine." She shook his hand. "I must have
turned my ankle."
"May I?" He smiled and held up three fingers. "Eagle Scout,
you know, honest, loyal, brave, trustworthy and true? I've had a few first
Angela studied him carefully. He seemed earnest enough and it was awkward
examining her own ankle. She held out her foot. "All right."
Richard probed her ankle gently, carefully rotating her foot. "Well,
it's not a bad sprain," he said finally. "I think if you rest
it for a few minutes, it'll be fine."
Frowning, Angela put her shoe back on. "If I'm very late, they'll
worry," she said absently. She looked at Richard who was watching
her intently. "I'm supposed to meet friends at the Manhattan Mall."
He stood up and offered her his arm. "What a coincidence! My brother's
got a free speech rally near there that I'm supposed to go to. If you'd
like to lean on me, I think we can both get to where we're going to on
"Thank you, Richard," Angela said warmly. "That's very
kind of you."
* * * * *
Tongue stuck in the corner of his mouth, eyes barely blinking, hands
instinctively working the controls, Lex stared at the view screen. He'd
made it up to the third level of the competition, taking out players with
the colorful names of Master Chomper, Demaka Draconis, and Merlyn. Now
he was playing Quake against Wraith and blood and gore was flying everywhere.
Liz was at another game station nearby, taking on her own challenger.
Between games, Lexington watched her play. She was the first girl he'd
met relatively close to his own age and as gamers went, she was good,
very good. He glanced at her out of the corner of his eye as she focused
on her screen, blowing her bangs out of her eyes absently.
The momentary distraction almost cost him the game. Wraith popped out
of a corridor and fired a salvo at him. Lex swore under his breath as
his natural quick reflexes helped him dodge the gunfire. He fired a grenade
at Wraith and nailed him in the chest.
"Aw, man!" came the wail from the other side of the game station.
The dark-haired young man with the green eyes walked around and shook
Lex's hand. "Good game, pal. Great playing."
"Thanks," Lex answered. "You nearly got me there at the
"Don't I know it!" Wraith said cheerfully. They both watched
as Liz and her opponent duked it out. "I'm kind of glad I'm out of
it." He nodded to the grim guy also watching the game across the
room. "Hudson and Gator made it the semi-finals too and I'll bet
anything Eliminator makes it too."
"The Eliminator's here?" Lex whistled. "I've only heard
about him. Is that him?" he asked, pointing at the guy playing Liz.
Wraith bit his lip even as the corners of his mouth crinkled. "Think
Lex stared open-mouthed at the petite blonde. "Liz? She's the Eliminator?"
he exclaimed in disbelief.
"Yeah, that sweet young thing is one of the most vicious players
on the gaming circuit," Wraith said with a laugh. He clapped a hand
on Lex's shoulder. "Better you than me, pal. She's gonna eat you
up and spit you out."
Lex didn't notice his opponent leaving. He was still stunned at the revelation
that the soft-spoken girl was also one of the top hard-core gamers in
the Manhattan area. He had lurked on a number of her games where she had
torn her opponents to shreds like a pit bull on steroids. She caught him
watching and gave him a dimpled grin.
"Geez," Lex muttered to himself, "talk about Beauty and
* * * * *
He couldn't believe his good luck. It was just like his grandmother was
always saying, one good turn deserves another. A simple courtesy to a
damsel in distress had given Richard a beautiful young woman leaning on
his arm. She was gorgeous, those vivid green eyes looking up at him from
that flawless face framed by waves of dark hair. Her voice, warm and satiny,
was soft but he could hear the intelligence in it. This was a girl in
Richard glanced at her. "So, how has your day been?" He laughed.
"Up until the point where you hurt your ankle, of course!"
"It's been very nice, thank you. I was visiting my mother. We don't
often have the opportunity to get together."
He nodded. "I know the feeling. Until I joined this group my brother's
into, it was really hard finding the time to get together."
Angela smiled. "I understand completely. I miss my brother Gabriel
sometimes now that I live here. We were always very close."
"Yeah, George and I were that way once," Richard said. "He
joined the Air Force and when he got out, it was like he was a whole different
person. Now we go to meetings together and it's just like old times. It's
really helped having something in common again."
"Something in common, hmm." Angela pursed her lips as she thought
Richard watched her out of the corner of his eye and added a very kissable-looking
mouth to Angela's list of virtues. "Penny for your thoughts,"
She gave him that serene Mona Lisa smile again. "Oh, nothing really.
Tell me more about this free-speech rally of your brother's. What's it
"Oh, this and that. City politics mostly. George had a degree in
political science before he went into the Air Force. Now he's working
on the staff of this guy, um, Castaway, doing PR work." Richard felt
Angela twitch suddenly. "What's wrong? Is it your ankle?"
A troubled frown replaced the smile. "Please, Richard," she
said sadly, "this group you and your brother belong to, it's not
the Quarrymen, is it?"
"Well, yeah." He looked back at her, puzzled. "I know
some of their ideology is a bit radical but you'll have to admit the police
have done absolutely nothing to control the gargoyle situation. It's a
constitutional right to defend one's home and we have to take care of
these creatures once and for all."
Angela let go of his arm and pulled away. "Whatever Castaway has
told you, it's all lies. Gargoyles are innocent of all the things he's
said about them. They are just as intelligent and caring as any other
being on this planet."
"Where are you getting this stuff from, Angela?" Richard snorted.
"It's like you're saying they're just like you and me."
"Maybe I am," she said, a fierce light coming into her eyes.
"Have you ever thought how the gargoyles feel about being hunted?
About living with the fear of never waking up to another sunset because
someone has smashed them to rubble? Of the pain caused by being stuck
by one of those electrified hammers you Quarrymen carry?" Her eyes
burned with anger. "Before you take a stand, Richard, try to see
both sides of the story." She started limping off towards the mall
entrance, still a half a block away.
"Whoa." Richard stood there, blinking in stunned surprise.
"What did I say to deserve that?"
* * * * *
Broadway turned the page as he followed Spenser into the abandoned building.
He was rather proud of his reading skills now, still a bit slow compared
to his rookery brothers but at least he'd finally stopped having to trace
the words with his finger like Hudson occasionally did. He'd been keeping
an eye on the video game tournament, monitors were mounted prominently
in the mall nearby. Lex seemed to doing fairly well and was up in the
semi-finals. Alternately, he flicked a look at the doors out of habit
and was going back to his book when he froze and took a second look.
Limping in the door, looking absolutely stunning, was Angela. She had
changed from Fox's casual outfit and was now wearing an elegantly cut
dress and jacket done in a fabric that glowed like a soft blue halo around
her. Her dark hair was loose around her shoulders and he felt a sudden
urge to run his fingers through it. She was a high-class dame if Broadway
ever saw one. He grinned and stuffed his paperback book in his pocket.
"Hey, Angela!" He stopped a few feet away and gave her another
long look. "You look like a million bucks," Broadway said with
She smiled. "Well, I don't feel like a million bucks," she
said as she hobbled towards him. "I've hurt my ankle. I don't know
how women walk in these shoes."
Broadway helped her over to the bench. "How's your mother?"
he asked as politely as possible.
"She's fine," Angela answered with a raised eyebrow. "She
was surprised to see me."
"No kidding," he said ironically. "I'm sure she thinks
it's all our fault."
"Actually, we didn't talk about the clan that much at all,"
she answered. "Today, we were just a mother and a daughter spending
time together." She smiled. "I could use a few more days like
"I'm glad you had a good time."
Angela sighed and wrapped her arms around his biceps. "And what
have you guys been up to?"
Broadway showed her the books he'd purchased.
"There's a shop here that sells tons of mystery books. I stopped
looking after that but Brook's still wandering around, I think. We were
going to meet right here because Lex," he pointed at the monitor,
"is playing video games."
"Each to his own, I guess," Angela said with a laugh.
* * * * *
"So," Liz said as they prepared to face off, "are you
ready to be 'eliminated?'" Her blue eyes twinkled.
"Not a chance," Lex said, lifting his chin. "It's not
over until it's over."
She grinned. "Okay, you've been warned!"
They took their seats and started a new Quake game, "Scourge of
Armagon," which added all kinds of interesting new twists. Right
off the bat, a gremlin popped in and made off with Lex's shotgun, not
that it made much difference; Liz was occupied with a centroid, an enormous
cybernetic scorpion. Lex collected new weapons and ammo on his way to
the next level, firing at the zombie that popped out at him. He grinned
and charged into the next room, guns blazing.
* * * * *
Brooklyn couldn't remember ever having so much fun without his brothers
along. All girls were flirting with him but Corrine was clearly the most
outrageous. She still had his jacket and was sitting in such way that
all her physical charms were on display. He was hard-pressed keeping his
attention on Stormy telling the story on how she got her nickname.
"--They didn't know I was going to solo, they thought my instructor
was with me and like an idiot, I didn't check the weather. It was clear
at the airfield. Ten minutes out, I hit a bank of storm clouds. I didn't
know any better so I fought it out and when I landed, the air boss dubbed
me 'Stormy.'" She laughed. "Now the other pilots say storm clouds
follow me where ever I go!"
"That's cool. I love to glide," Brooklyn said. "Haven't
done it in while, though."
"Hey, let me know when you want to go up," Stormy said with
a sly smile. "There's more than enough room for two in my plane."
Kellie waved at someone behind Brooklyn. "Hey, it's Tim and Eric!"
"Well, let's make some room for them!" Corrine squealed and
deposited herself in Brooklyn's lap. She smiled into his startled face.
"You don't mind, do you?"
"Not at all," he said agreeably. The two newcomers came over
and settled in. Eric, a wiry young man with hazel eyes, sat down next
to Kellie and instantly struck up a conversation that made her laugh and
blush. The other guy with dark brown hair and blue eyes apparently knew
Corrine and pretty well too.
"Hey, Renn!" Tim said with a laugh. "Who's the fresh meat?"
"This is Brook," Corrine answered back. "I'm trying him
on for size."
"Oh, yeah? Better watch out, dude. Renn's the biggest Tart in the
Stormy leaned towards Tim. "And what does that make me, you macker,
"You're the sweetest," Tim shot back with a grin. "Get
it? Sweet Tart?"
"What's a macker?" Brooklyn asked Corrine. She gotten comfortable,
reclining against his long torso like he was a live Laz-E-Boy chair. He
found he really didn't mind.
"Boy flirt," she answered. "Eric heard the term at college
and started using it. Boys are mackers and girls are tarts."
Brooklyn laughed and wrapped his arms around her. "Sure beats knaves
Kellie perked up her ears at that. "Hey, you wouldn't happen to
be into that Society for Creative Anachronism stuff, would you? You know,
into medieval history, dressing in period costumes and all that?"
"A little bit," Brooklyn admitted. "I work security at
the Eyrie Building and I've been in that castle on top. It's full of 10th
century antiques and tapestries."
"Really?" Corrine snuggled closer and lowered her voice. "I'd
love to see that."
Brooklyn started to reply when a guy with a short military haircut strutted
up. "Hey, byes! Did you catch the crowd out front, eh?"
"No, what crowd is that, Whit?"
"Those friggers with the blue hoods are after havin' a rally over
at Herald Square. Buddy's up on a podium talkin' and it's jammin' up the
works at the door. Traffic's backed up past friggin' Macy's." Whit
leaned over and gave Stormy a peck on the cheek. "How is ye today,
"I'm fine, puddle pirate," Stormy replied. "So what's
the rally about?"
Whit shrugged. "The usual 'the city isn't doing this and the city
isn't doing that.' Oh, and some junk about smashin' gargoyles. I was too
busy pushin' through crowd to hear most of it."
Sighing regretfully, Brooklyn sat up. "I hate to do this, Corrine,
but I have to be going. Can I have my coat back?"
The redhead raised an eyebrow. "It'll cost you a kiss."
The urgency of wanting to check on the Quarrymen took care of the self-doubts
and hesitation Brooklyn would have normally had in this situation. He
ran his fingers into Corrine's hair and drew her to him, giving her a
good, long, firm kiss. His soft human lips worked pretty well, he thought,
and wondered if he'd ever have the chance to try the same thing with his
beak. They broke apart and she looked at him, stunned and wide-eyed. "Well?"
Corrine stood up and taking a pen, scribbled something on a napkin. She
pulled off the leather jacket and gave it back to Brooklyn, stuffing the
note in his pocket. "My phone number," she said breathlessly.
"It's been fun, people. I'll see you around," Brooklyn said,
winking at Corrine as he strode out of the pub.
* * * * *
Lexington grinned like a maniac. The random lightning traps were giving
him no trouble at all thanks to the wetsuit he'd picked up which gave
him immunity to electricity. Liz was farther along in the maze with a
higher score but Lex was catching up. He popped a gremlin jumping out
at him and caught a glimpse of the Eliminator crossing the corridor far
ahead of him.
The screen suddenly changed. Liz had upped the stakes and moved the game
to Deathmatch. Lex licked his lips nervously and leaned in over the controller.
Lightning crashed and the screen flashed, causing him to recoil and blink
furiously to clear his eyesight. He fired off a salvo on reflex and winged
her but her empathy shield shared the damage between them. He went on
the defensive, dodging gunfire and marauding centroids.
Insane, chittering laughter preceded the gremlin that jumped him but
Lex missed him and the sneaky little monster made off with the wetsuit
and the immunity that came with it. Lex swore under his breath and concentrated
on evading the lightning traps. A collapsing wall forced a route change
and he turned to face his worst nightmare, a head-on, up close view of
an electrified hammer, crackling with energy and coming down straight
"AAUGHH!" Lex yelled and involuntarily threw up his arms to
block it. His character went down in a shower of sparks.
Liz looked around the games station at her opponent and frowned. "Lex?"
She walked over and touched him tentatively. "Lex, are you all right?
You're shaking like a leaf."
He stared up at her, his dark eyes wide with terror. Slowly, Lexington
forced himself to calm down, to take slow steady breaths. He blinked and
shook his head. "I guess I just got too into the game."
"Yeah," Liz said, "I guess so." She smiled at him
gently. "I've never had anybody freak out on me before like that.
Do you want to replay Deathmatch?"
"No, the best player won," Lex said firmly. He held out his
hand and grinned. "You go kick the next guy's tail."
Liz gave him a dimpled grin back as she shook his hand. "You can
bet on it."
* * * * *
Angela and Broadway were sipping on fruit smoothies and talking quietly
when Brooklyn came down the escalators, his face looking like a thunderstorm
waiting to happen. He walked straight past them heading for the doors.
Lex came up a nearby escalator from the game tournament, vertebrate audibly
cracking as he stretched out his back. He looked at the others.
"What's with him?" Lex said.
Broadway frowned. "I don't know. Do you suppose he just didn't see
"No matter," Angela said, tossing her drink in a nearby trash
receptacle. "Let's go find out."
* * * * *
"--The city council has done NOTHING to protect us, the hard-working
taxpayers, from the gargoyle menace! Every time the subject has been put
on the council's agenda, it is so far back on the list that your elected
representatives either postpone the subject or ignore it all together!
The time has come for action! It is our constitutional right to bear arms
against our enemies and today, people of New York, the enemy flies the
sky at night!"
The speaker paused, posing against the backdrop of two hammer-wielding
statues frozen in the act of ringing a huge bell. The convenient symbolism
of the art work was of many public relation angles the Quarrymen had taken
into consideration when they had chosen Herald Square for their rally.
The statuary, based on Greek mythology, gave their cause a touch of class
and subliminal association. It was a prime public relations opportunity.
Richard sighed and crossed his arms as he leaned against the sound equipment.
His brother George, similar-looking to his sibling only older with shorter
brown hair and no glasses, looked up from his clipboard. He was openly
wearing an armband with the Quarryman hammer-and-circle logo over the
sleeve of his dark blue business suit.
"What's with you, Rich?" George asked. "Something bugging
"It's nothing," Richard said reluctantly. He frowned and kicked
at some insubstantial debris on the ground. "I met a girl on the
way over and I think I really screwed up when I was trying to impress
George rolled his eyes. "Women troubles. Say no more."
He sighed. "She was really easy to talk to and beautiful too."
"And so is this speech I wrote for this rally," George shot
back, scowling. "If you don't mind, I need to concentrate on the
teleprompter here. This guy we've got doubling for Castaway is no rocket
Richard got the hint and shut up. When his brother was working, he was
very single-minded. Richard went back to his job of scanning the crowd
for reactions. They were taping them on hidden videocams and those that
showed a positive response would be contacted later for their support
and possible invitation into the Quarrymen organization. Comments from
other Quarrymen scattered throughout the crowd in street clothes came
in through the tiny com unit clipped over his right ear. He let his eyes
drift over the anonymous faces, registering the expressions of curiosity,
indignation, apathy, anger and random boredom. Richard was fighting to
hold back a yawn when he spotted a familiar face coming out of the pedestrian
traffic across the street.
"Hey!" George said, looking up. "Where are you going?"
Shouldering his way out through the crowd, Richard passed a long-haired
biker pushing his way towards the podium. He was focused only on Angela's
face, ignoring the big blonde guy and the short kid she was with. He had
to make things right somehow.
* * * * *
"Gargoyles. The very name is alien, filled with the gothic fears
of darkness." The speaker paused, posing in his midnight blue uniform.
"We cannot allow them to fly free while the citizens of this city
cower in their homes in fear, afraid of going out after dark, afraid for
their families, afraid of that which lurks in the night. We, the Quarrymen,
are actively opposing these creatures as the metropolitan police is either
unwilling or incapable of doing. These evil creatures --"
"Evil! Ha! Pal, you don't know what you're talking about!"
came a shout from the crowd.
The Quarryman speaker shot a quick sideways glance at the speech writer,
who motioned for him to continue. "These evil creatures have already
proven to be dangerous! The 23rd precinct building, destroyed by gargoyles!
Countless acts of vandalism and property damage, caused by gargoyles!
Reckless endangerment of innocent lives, caused by --"
"Quarrymen!!" The heckler had pushed his way to the front,
a long-haired rebel dressed in black with a dangerous glint in his eye.
"You have one of those juiced up hammers coming at your head, then
we'll talk reckless endangerment, pal. What about all those illegal helicopters
flying around at night? And while we're talking about it, what did a bunch
of statues ever do to you? " He thrust an accusing finger at the
podium. "Gargoyles never do half the damage you bozos do!"
"The only good gargoyle is a dead gargoyle! What use are they to
the rest of us?"
"Only last night, gargoyles broke up a mugging spree by a gang that
has been plaguing the city for weeks!" The white-haired young man
looked at the crowd shrewdly. "It was on all the network channels!"
"Now you would have inhuman, unholy, unnatural animals responsible
for law enforcement? Young man, that's just the manipulation of the news
media for better ratings. We Quarrymen operate under the auspices of the
United States Constitution!"
The young man set his jaw as he retorted, "You Quarrymen are just
a bunch of urban terrorists and nothing more! If anyone's breaking the
law, it's you!"
The crowd began to grumble and argue amongst themselves.
* * * * *
Angela, Broadway and Lex stood at the curb, staring at the crowd across
the corner from the mall. "Uh, oh," Broadway commented, "Not
good, not good at all."
"What?" Lex asked. "I can't see who's talking. Too many
people in the way."
"I know exactly what's going on," Angela said grimly. "It's
a Quarrymen rally." She started limping across the street.
"Angela!" Broadway hurried after her. "I don't think you
should go over there. Wait a minute."
Lex shrugged and followed the others. "I'd bet anything Brooklyn's
in here somewhere. Calm down, Broadway, it's probably gonna take all of
us to find him."
An average-looking young man with gold-rimmed glasses and a small Quarryman
button on his collar came out of the crowd towards them. "Angela!"
he said, a smile lighting his face. "I'm so glad you changed your
Broadway growled deep in his chest and shot a sideways glance at Angela.
"Richard," she said calmly. "These are my friends--"
She froze, realizing their gargoyle names would sound out-of-place with
their human forms.
"Lex Thomas," Lex answered immediately.
Broadway hesitated only a few seconds. "William Rockford."
He held out his hand. "Call me Bill."
"Pleased to meet you," Richard replied. He winced as his hand
was crushed in Broadway's grip.
"I'm afraid we're looking for another friend of ours," Angela
said, raising her voice. "Maybe you've seen him."
* * * * *
The hooded speaker came out from behind the podium. "You're a gargoyle
sympathizer! You probably have a P.I.T. membership card in your pocket.
How can you turn against your own species?"
"That's easy," Brooklyn retorted scornfully, "You're in
it, aren't you?"
"That's it!" The Quarryman threw down the mike and dived into
* * * * *
The pitched hum of the crowd grew and people began shouting angrily.
Richard straightened up and touched his fingers to his com unit while
shooting a frantic look over his shoulder. "Look," he shouted,
"Angela, this is no place for a lady! There's a long-haired biker
charging the podium. He's gonna start a riot! Please, Angela! We've got
to get you out of here!"
"Oh, good grief," Broadway muttered. He linked his hands together
and motioned to Lex. "Take a look and please tell me it's not who
I think it is." He heaved his shorter brother up.
Lex rested his knee on Broadway's shoulder and looked over the heads
of the crowd. He swore under his breath and said disgustedly, "It's
Broadway made a split-second decision and swallowed his pride. "Okay,
Richard, you get Angela out of here. Take her back inside the mall. Lex
and I have to go get somebody and we'll be along as soon as we can."
"But..." Angela protested, her eyes furious.
"No buts," Broadway ordered. "You can't move fast on that
ankle. This crowd is getting nasty. Go on." He turned his back on
her and began shoving his way into the crowd, Lex following in his shadow.
Hands on her hips, Angela watched them go indignantly. Richard gently
turned her around and got her started back across the street. "I
can't believe this!" she fumed. "After all we've been through
and they're back to treating me like this!"
"What's wrong with wanting to protect you? Bill's got the right
idea. You're too much of a lady to get caught in a riot." Richard
looked at her ruefully. "He seems kind of concerned about you. Are
you two dating?"
Angela returned his look curiously. "We've been spending a lot of
time together, yes."
"Oh." He was silent as he escorted her back inside the mall
and found her a seat near the entrance so they could watch for the others.
Richard took a deep breath. "Well, I'm not exactly sure what I said
that made you angry earlier, but I wanted to say I was sorry."
She smiled. "That's quite all right, Richard. The Quarrymen are
just a bunch of racist bigots and it makes me angry thinking anyone would
want to follow that madman. You seem much too sensible for that."
Richard very discreetly plucked the hammer and circle button off his
collar and dropped it in his shirt pocket. He took out a pen and a folded
up flyer, writing a series of numbers down. "Look," he smiled
sheepishly, "I've never been very good at this but this is my phone
number. You can keep it or you can throw it away but you're easy to talk
to, Angela, and I really would like to get to know you better."
Angela took the piece of paper gingerly. "I'm afraid I don't have
a phone number to give you in return." She smiled enigmatically.
"I'm still very new in town."
"Hey, that's okay!" He held up his hands. "No strings
attached, I just want to be friends."
The Trio entered the mall, arguing. Broadway and Lex had Brooklyn between
them and although they all looked a bit ruffled, Brooklyn was definitely
a bit worse for wear. His red T-shirt was torn, a long clump of white
hair was torn loose from his ponytail and the area around his left eye
was coloring up.
"What on earth were you thinking?" Broadway was saying as they
walked up. "You almost started a riot!"
Brooklyn wiped his mouth, which was bleeding slightly from a small cut,
with the edge of his shirt. "Hey, I was just talking. When I started
making sense, the idiot on the stage dove off and attacked me. He wasn't
that good a fighter, it was that shorter guy in the suit with the arm
band that did this."
"The guy Broadway threw on to the stage?" Lex asked.
"Yeah, he seemed pretty tough."
"George?" Richard stood up abruptly. "Brown hair, blue
eyes, looks a little like me?"
"Yeah, that's one." Brooklyn eyed him shrewdly. "Who are
"Angela, I'm sorry but I've got to go." He looked at her hopefully.
She smiled her Mona Lisa smile. "Of course, Richard. Go take care
of your brother."
Richard grinned and headed for the door.
The Trio looked from the departing neo-Quarryman to Angela and back again.
"What was that?" Broadway asked very quietly and in deceptive
"I made a friend today," Angela said simply as she slipped
the flyer into her pocket. "Do you have a problem with that?"
There was a subtle edge to her voice reminiscent of Demona.
Brooklyn and Lexington both stared at Broadway. Their rookery brother
set his jaw and walked a few feet away, muttering under his breath.
"Look," Lexington said in an effort to ease the tension, "Why
don't we head back to the castle? It'll be sunset in a couple of hours
and Brooklyn could probably use some first aid."
Angela stood up. "Yes, I'm ready to go back. Maybe Owen has made
some headway with Alexander."
"Okay, sounds like a plan," Brooklyn agreed. "Okay with
"Yeah, fine, whatever." He shoved his hands in his pockets
and headed for the door.
* * * * *
"Richard! Where in the blue blazes were you?" George demanded
as his younger brother came trotting up. "Your post was here with
"I'm sorry, George. I heard you were in a fight. Are you all right?"
Richard asked anxiously.
George took a deep breath and let it out. "I'm fine. It's just bumps
and bruises mostly and this thing on my head that won't stop bleeding."
"Doesn't seem too bad." Richard took a first aid kit from another
blue-suited Quarryman and looked at the ugly scrape on his brother's temple.
He pressed a gauze square against it and said, "Here, hold this."
"You didn't answer me," George said bluntly. "Where
were you?" "You know that girl I told you about?" Richard
put hydrogen peroxide on a cotton pad and began to clean the wound. "Well,
she came over here just before the riot and I thought I'd try to smooth
His brother closed his eyes and made a face. "Bro, this was not
the time to be thinking with your glands."
"Oh, I don't know," Richard said cheerfully. "I think
she forgave me and she took my phone number." He replaced the bloody
gauze pad with a clean one and began taping it on. "She was with
three friends, a big blonde guy with a thick neck, a short skinny geek,
and a biker in black leather with long, white hair." He grinned.
"Sound familiar, bro?"
George was grinning back him with a boyish gleam in his eye. "You
lucky dog," he said admiringly, "So who is this girl?"
"Angela Destine. She's in town visiting her mother. William Rockford
and Lex Thomas are two of her friends. I never heard the biker called
"No matter," George replied. He jotted the names down on his
clipboard. "We'll run a trace on these names and when this girl calls
you up, be extra charming and tease more information out of her."
He smiled grimly. "There's plenty of room on our black list for more
than just gargoyles."
"Not Angela," Richard said firmly. "She's completely innocent
of the whole thing. Promise me that, George."
"No one will touch a hair on her head, I promise." He looked
at the cynical look on his younger brother's face and shook his head.
"All right, put it there. Pinky promise." George held out a
crooked little finger.
Richard linked fingers with his older brother. "Thanks, bro. It's
a deal, information for Angela."
"Deal." George laughed. "When are you going to outgrow
this pinky promise thing of yours?"
Closing the first aid kit, Richard laughed. "Probably not until
I'm old and gray, bro."
* * * * *
"Broadway," Angela said softly as she came up besides him as
they walked up the street. "You've hardly said anything to anyone
in three blocks. What's wrong?"
"You know perfectly well what's wrong, that way you were carrying
with that guy Richard back there," he growled, not even looking at
her. "Sometimes you are so much like Demona, it makes my teeth hurt!"
She blinked. "That's only natural, she is my mother after all."
They walked in silence for a few more yards before Broadway blurted out,
"Why were you acting that way around him?"
"Richard? I was only being friendly. He's a very nice young man.
He's polite, well-mannered, and he was kind to me. You all have friends
outside the clan, why not me too?"
"He's different," Broadway said, stressing the word. "He
looks at you the way I do."
Angela bit her lip to keep from smiling. "And how exactly is that?"
"Like he's in love with you," Broadway said seriously. "I
know I am."
"Oh, Broadway." Angela impulsively wrapped her arms around
his biceps and rubbed her non-existent eyebrow ridge against his shoulder.
"Don't you know I love only you? Richard will always be just a friend,
nothing more. You have Matt Bluestone, Father has Elisa, Lex has all his
Internet buddies--I just wanted a friend of my own, that's all."
Broadway looked down at her, the anger and jealousy fading from his brown
eyes. He started to speak---
"HELP!!! Please, somebody help me!!" A frantic woman's voice
came from somewhere up the street.
Lexington pinpointed the sound and pointed. "The alley!" Multiple
shadows could be seen trailing across the bricks.
Brooklyn slapped a handful of change in Angela's hand. "Call the
cops," he said brusquely. "Then call Elisa. Broadway, Lex, you're
with me." The Trio charged up the street.
Angela scowled at them as she dialed the phone numbers and reported the
incident to the police operator and to Elisa's phone service. She slammed
the phone receiver down, slipped off her shoes and ran to join the others.
She flung her things into the shadow of a dumpster as she cornered into
the alley. Things were worse than she thought.
A woman was slumped against the wall, body twisted in an unnatural position,
blood oozing from a head wound. Five gang members with a variety of weapons
from knives to chains were fighting the Trio. Lexington was thrown into
a cluster of trash cans with a loud clatter. The guys had clearly forgotten
with human form came a reduced human strength but even so, Broadway and
Brooklyn were holding their own. Angela swelled with pride as her beloved
grabbed two thugs by their collars and bashed their heads together. Snarling,
Brooklyn let a chain wrap around his wrist before jerking his opponent
off his feet.
Angela dodged around the fighting and went to aid the woman. There was
so much blood, puddling on the filthy ground and the angle of her neck
-- it didn't look good. She started to bend down when she was jerked up
by a handful of hair. Another hand with dirty, broken fingernails began
to crudely grope the front of her dress.
"Lookit what I got here," said a course voice accompanied with
foul breath, "This pretty's fresh and sweet, not like that old bag
down there." His lips and bristly face brushed Angela's neck.
Demona's daughter struck out, sharp elbow strike to her smelly assailant's
stomach. She tried to break his hold by grabbing his wrist and throwing
him but found she just didn't have the upper body strength of her gargoyle
form. He flung her against the wall and she saw stars even as she felt
his hands on her. A sharp blow came across her face and as the blood began
to flow from her nose, Angela blacked out.
* * * * *
"Angela!" Lexington shouted as he struggled out of the garbage.
"Guys, she's in trouble!"
Broadway glanced over his shoulder and his human eyes almost burned with
rage. While he and Brooklyn had been occupied, one of the goons had grabbed
his beloved and Broadway didn't like the look of what he was doing one
bit. He bellowed, "Leave her alone!" and turned his back on
the fight. Bad move.
A length of metal pipe came down on the side of Broadway's head and he
staggered, dropping to one knee.
"Oh, no, you don't," Brooklyn muttered grimly and whipped the
chain out, slapping the pipe out of the guy's hand. He'd picked a few
things up watching Xanatos and Owen's training sessions. Brooklyn whip-kicked
one of the hoods several times, the heavy boots doing serious damage.
His chain-wrapped fist made short work of the one that hit Broadway. His
rookery brother was still stunned but struggling to reach Angela. Sirens
and flashing lights were coming closer. He grabbed the jerk who had Angela
and spun him around.
"That ain't no way to treat a lady--" A fist connecting with
his jaw ended Brooklyn's snappy patter and the alley rose up to hit him
in the face. He caught a glimpse of running feet leaping over him, shoving
Lex back into the trash, and running down the alley.
* * * * *
"--Honey, can you hear me?" a deep, friendly voice was saying.
"It's going to be all right, the ambulance is on the way. You're
going to be all right."
Angela slowly forced her eyes open to the face of a stranger. Uncontrollably,
she flinched and her eyes widened in fear.
"Hey now, shhhh...." The black police officer gave her a friendly
smile. "It's okay now, miss. It's all over now."
"What..." Angela looked around. She was lying on the ground,
her beautiful new dress stained and torn. Lexington was standing by Brooklyn,
who had an ugly bruise and a swollen lower lip. Another police officer
was kneeling by Broadway, holding something against his head. Broadway
was looking anxiously her way and smiled when he saw her looking his way.
"Morgan!" Elisa's voice echoed in the narrow alley.
Her footsteps grew closer. "Angela! Guys! What happened?"
"You know these kids, Detective?" Officer Morgan stood up and
faced her. "Apparently, they came upon a woman being attacked by
a gang and decided to take the law into their own hands." He looked
at them sternly. "You know, kids, that was pretty stupid. You could
have been hurt a lot worse than you were."
"What about the woman?" Angela asked, raising up on her elbows.
"Is she all right?"
The uniformed officer kneeled back down next to her. "Honey, they
molested her and then they broke her neck when they threw her against
the wall. She was probably dead before you kids came in here."
The color drained out of Angela's face. She could see the Trio having
similar reactions over Morgan's shoulder. "Oh, no. We should have
been here sooner," she murmured sadly. "That poor woman."
"You almost became a second victim," Morgan said bluntly. "I
got a daughter nearly your age and this is my worst nightmare. You call
the police and let us handle these things from now on, you hear?"
Angela looked up at Elisa, tears rising in her eyes.
"Elisa, I want to go home."
"Are you sure?" Officer Morgan asked. "You really should
have a doctor look at you."
Brooklyn helped Broadway to his feet. "No, we need to get back to
Morgan looked at the white-haired biker curiously. "Sounds to me
like somebody definitely got hit on the head a little too hard,"
he said to Elisa. "If you can vouch for them, I guess we can get
their statements later but I still think a doctor should check them out."
Elisa reached down and gave Angela a hand up. "I'll take care of
it, Morgan. They're just not used to life on the streets."
* * * * *
Alex opened his mouth for another bite of applesauce. He had slept most
of the day, not an uncommon side effect of the spontaneous feat of magic
he performed the night before. Owen had been gently steering his pupil's
developing mind towards the problem at hand. He began to talk idly to
the young child as he often did while he was feeding him.
"Alex, is Brooklyn a gargoyle or a human?" Owen asked.
The red-headed tot grinned messily and pointed skyward. "Gargle!"
"What is Lexington?"
"Is Elisa a human or a gargoyle?"
Alex stopped in mid-chew to ponder this. "Wisa na gargle."
"That's right," Owen said gently. "Sometimes it's best
to be what you really are." He set the dinner things aside and began
to clean Alex's face. "Tonight Uncle Puck is going to help you fix
a little problem. It's going to a bit tricky but a lot of fun."
* * * * *
Packed into Elisa's Ford Fairlane, the ride back to the Eyrie Building
passed in an uncomfortable silence. Lex sat by an open window, reeking
of garbage while Angela leaned into Broadway's comforting embrace. Brooklyn
sat in front, staring into space sullenly and sighing. Elisa kept checking
on them worriedly.
Finally in the elevator, Elisa said, "C'mon, guys. I can tell you're
all really upset by this. Holding back your feelings is not gonna help."
Angela clung to Broadway's arm. "I've never been that afraid before,"
she said softly. "When I woke up, I was even afraid of that policeman,
Officer Morgan, and he had such a kind voice, like Father's. I couldn't
help myself, I was so frightened."
"I just wasn't fast enough," Lex said glumly. "My size
never made much difference before, I was always faster and stronger."
"Yeah," Broadway agreed. "And it seemed weird, not being
able to use our wings and tails. Our whole fighting style was off."
"Face it, guys," Brooklyn said as the elevator doors opened
in the Great Hall. "Being human is no joyride. It was fun and I liked
being just another face in the crowd but it just wasn't us."
The others exchanged a look. Lex sighed. "You're right. I had a
great time but deep down..." He lifted his arms and let them fall
loosely at his sides.
Angela walked over to where Goliath, Hudson and Bronx were still on display.
She touched her father's face. "I understand now, why they fear us
so. It's not easy being human, so very fragile, bound to the ground and
never being able to touch the sky." She smiled sadly. "I loved
the time I spent with Mother today but it wasn't worth giving up all that
makes me gargoyle."
Owen and Alex walked into the room just as the sun began to dip towards
the horizon. "What do you see, Alex?" the pale man asked softly.
"Four people unhappy because the forms that they wear are not true
to their nature."
His lip pooching out, Alex studied the transformed gargoyles carefully.
He turned his troubled face to Owen. "Unca Puck?" he asked in
a timid voice.
The tall blonde man in the navy suit shimmered as he shrank inside a
nimbus of light, emerging as a more sprightly figure with long, white
hair and pointed ears. Puck chucked Alex under the chin. "Okie-dokie,
kiddo, let's see if we can fix this mess, hmm?" The fae trickster
carried the little boy closer to the group in the center of the room.
Puck's eyes began to glow, "Follow my lead and say these words in
your head, Alex."
Alex's attention was riveted on the Trio and Angela and his babyish face
took on a certain seriousness. Puck chanted:
"Broadway and Angela, Brooklyn and Lex,
'Tis time to remove this unbidden hex;
Leave now the day and embrace the night,
Return to your true and given birthright!"
As the enchantment was cast, the world was turning, the distant horizon
afire with the dying rays of the sun. Beams of electric blue light shot
forth from Alex's eyes, enveloping the younger gargoyles even as their
elders began cracking their stone skins. Human skin tones deepened into
gargoyle hues, wings and tails returned, limbs reshaped.
Goliath shook the last of the stone chips from his wings and stepped
"Father?" Angela looked wonderingly at her lavender four-fingered
hands. She flexed her wings and flicked her tail before throwing herself
into her father's embrace.
Brooklyn stared down the length of his beak while absently rubbing the
back of his neck. He reached in the pocket of the ruined leather jacket
and looked at the phone number scribbled on a cocktail napkin. He crumpled
it up and tossed it with the stone chips littering the floor. Sighing,
the red gargoyle muttered, "Beak probably would have scared her off
anyway." He left the room.
Lex was hiding behind Broadway. Elisa looked at him curiously. "What's
wrong, Lex?" she asked.
The green, web-winged gargoyle actually blushed. "Uh, my clothes
kind of went to pieces," he said sheepishly. "My wings came
in as sort of a full body experience."
Broadway chuckled as he shucked his shredded suit jacket. "Here,
Lex. It's got a couple of big holes in it but it should be enough to cover
what little you got."
Lex narrowed his eyes. "Not funny. Not funny at all," he said
* * * * *
Hudson found Brooklyn perched out on the battlements, shreds of his human
clothing blowing in the breeze. The young gargoyle's homely visage looked
"What's this then, lad?" Hudson asked. "I thought you'd
be glad, havin' a day out."
Brooklyn shook his head. "It's not that, Hudson. A woman died today
because we were only human." He sighed. "If we had been gargoyle
like we should have been, we would have been in and out of that alley
and she'd still be alive tonight."
"Ye can't protect everybody, lad." Hudson clapped a gnarled
hand on his shoulder. "Even Elisa loses sometimes but she keeps on
doing her job."
A determined glint came into Brooklyn's eye. "No matter what, Hudson,
I'm never going to let that happen again. I don't like losing people,
not one bit."
Hudson simply nodded and they stood there, not speaking, the future leader
and the past, each lost in their own thoughts as they looked out over
the nocturnal Manhattan skyline.
* * * * *
Angela came out of the bathroom in the guest room, toweling her hair
dry. It had taken two good shampooings to get the stench of the alley
washed out. She admired herself in the mirror, back in her regular gargoyle
form, wearing her simple white tunic. She smiled at herself. It felt so
... right, somehow.
There was a telephone on the dressing table and Angela sat down regally,
tail curling around the base of the stool. She had retrieved two pieces
of paper from her ruined jacket, one of her mother's business cards with
her unlisted home number jotted on the back and the flyer. She bit her
lip, picked up the phone and dialed.
"Hello, Richard?" Angela smiled. "Oh, I'm fine. You could
say I'm feeling like my old self again...."