Out of Joint, Part 2

Story Concept by Brian Dumlao and the TGS staff
Written by Tas "Vince" Burrfoot and Christi Smith Hayden
Art by Christi Smith Hayden

Previously on Gargoyles...

Angela: (after Goliath throws the Gate into it's own portal)
"Without a mind to direct the Gate, it will be forever lost in time!"

~ Future Tense

* * *

Angela: "The Phoenix Gate!" (looking at the Phoenix Gate in Brooklyn's hand.)

~ Out of Joint, Part 1

* * *

Owen: "I'm afraid I cannot take responsibility for whatever has happened here."

~ Out of Joint, Part 1

* * *

Brooklyn: (watching Broadway and Angela)
"Just a matter of time, Brook. Just a matter of time."

~ Out of Joint, Part 1

* * *

Goliath: "And now we must go home and make sure that it does not come true."

~ Future Tense

The Imperial Palace
Ancient Rome

Primus landed on the Mage's window sill before Brooklyn arrived. A faint light glimmered from within, indicating the Mage was studying inside. Primus rapped lightly on the intricately-cut shutters with his knuckles and heard a slight rustle inside. A light baritone voice came from within.

"It is already open, Primus."

The Roman gargoyle carefully pushed the window inwards and jumped to the stone floor with Brooklyn right behind him. Inside the Mage's tower, there were shelves and shelves of yellowed scrolls and magic potions. Exotic ingredients lay on drying racks and a small desk sat in a corner of the perpetually shady study. The Mage was not an old magus by any standards, with long black hair streaked with silver cascading down his shoulders, a tunic woven out of rich threads, and a golden rope to compliment it. Grayish-blue eyes stood out as the prominent feature of a face that looked old and wise for his years. At the moment, the Mage had a leather-bound book out on his desk and was studying it when the two gargoyles entered. He immediately stood up to get a good look at the new gargoyle.

"Primus, who is this...?" the Mage paused, waiting for an answer from the Roman gargoyle.

"Honorable Mage, this is Brooklyn. He says he is a gargoyle," Primus indicated for Brooklyn to come closer. Brooklyn stepped up beside Primus on the intricate carpet. The Mage walked away from his desk and in front of Brooklyn, sharp eyes taking in every detail.

"A gargoyle? Curious name. I thought perhaps Primus was the only one..." the Mage trailed off, looking in awe at Brooklyn. "Where did you come from?"

"That's what he came to ask you about. Go ahead and tell him, Brooklyn," Primus encouraged.

"As far as I know I was transported here by this--" Brooklyn was interrupted by the excited Mage,

"The Phoenix Gate!" he said in awe. "I most certainly know of it! It has incredible powers...powers that should not be underestimated."

"What exactly are it's 'powers'?" Brooklyn asked, holding the Phoenix Gate defensively.

"According to what I've read, it can transport living beings or objects through time and space. Apparently that is what it has done to you. But even though you wear strange garb, it does not look very different from our own. Which time do you come from? What part of the Republic?" the Mage asked.

"Well that's sort of hard to explain. I was born in Scotland." He looked at the blank look on the human's face and thought about how to explain it in a way the Roman sorcerer could understand. "I guess it would be called Caledonia now, in the land of the Britons and that will be in a thousand or so years from now." He didn't think the Mage needed to know he'd come from further away still.

The Mage gasped. "I knew the Phoenix Gate had great powers, but that is truly amazing! I suggest that you get rid of the Gate immediately. It has great power and you had best leave it alone for your own safety and well-being."

Brooklyn frowned and shook his head. "I must keep the Gate no matter how dangerous or powerful it is, it might be the only way I can get home again."

"I realize that, but it is said that those who do not have the ability or the will to control the Phoenix Gate will surely perish from its great powers," the Mage warned.

This time Brooklyn was silent for a few minutes, pondering about the Mage's words. Although he considered himself to be fairly intelligent, he'd stayed away from all studies of the sorcerous arts, preferring to leave that to others with the talent for it, like Demona. It seemed that he would have to dabble in magic whether he wanted to or not. "Do you know who created the Gate?" the red gargoyle asked.

"I know that one of the gods, perhaps Jupiter himself, created it long ago before mortals inhabited the earth. I remember something about that, a tale that I copied into my book...." The Mage walked over to one of his shelves filled with tomes of magic and proceeded to go through them. Primus looked out the window and saw the blush on the eastern horizon.

"Brooklyn, the sun is about to rise. We had better go. Mage, we will return at nightfall. Perhaps you can find the tale for Brooklyn by then?"

Absently, the Mage answered, "Oh, most certainly. Until tonight, Primus!" He didn't even look up from his papers and scrolls, his mind clearly occupied on the task at hand.

"Until tomorrow night," Primus gave his farewell to the Mage and then he and Brooklyn took flight.

"Why did we leave?" Brooklyn asked. "The Mage had a perfectly good balcony."

"Safety measures, Brooklyn. If we roost anywhere else but the main hall, we could be smashed during the day. That is the only way the court can protect us," Primus answered as they slowly glided on the downward currents.

Primus and Brooklyn soared down through the open atrium. Inside the main hall, Caesar Augustus was waiting for the two of them, in spite of the early pre-dawn hour, tapping his fingers on his marble throne. There were not as many people gathered as before, but the muscle-bound guards were still in place, as though they were permanent fixtures.

Bowing to his emperor, Primus approached the throne, and recited as if it were a well-rehearsed ritual, "Ave, mighty Caesar! As I guard the palace by night, so do I return so that you may guard me by day." He went up the steps of the dais and kneeled to the left of Augustus. He motioned for Brooklyn to go to the right side. Brooklyn also bowed, copying Primus, and then also kneeled. The red gargoyle stole a glance at the Roman emperor. The bald human was observing him very carefully, eyes passing over Brooklyn inch by inch. The emperor noted Brooklyn's eye movement and smiled, nodding his head.

The sun rose, the pinkish dawn's light cascading down from the atrium over the forms of the two kneeling gargoyles. The newer members of the royal court gave oohs-and-aahs when they saw these flesh-and-blood creatures turn into solid, non-living stone. Augustus was used to it and he was rather amused to see the court's reaction every time.

"This one looks interesting, don't you think so, Father?"

Caesar Augustus smiled indulgently at Julia as she approached the throne, her dark hair curled and oiled in the latest court fashion, her voluptuous form draped in an pale purple gown as befitted an emperor's daughter. "He's distinctive, my dear," he said mildly. "I thought it only fair for Primus to monopolize his company the first night. He's been terribly lonely all these years. Still, I should very much like to speak to this new creature when they awaken tonight."

Julia pursed her lips and bent towards Brooklyn's stone form. "A banquet, perhaps? Primus might enjoy showing his friend what a fine life he would lead here in the house of Caesar."

Augustus cocked an eyebrow. "Truly, a most gracious suggestion, daughter. I am pleasantly surprised."

"Oh, Father!" She tossed her curls over her shoulder and batted her eyes prettily. "I shall go to the kitchens and begin the arrangements immediately. The fishing boats will be in soon and I'll want someone down at the docks to pick the best of the catch for that lovely fish stew you love so much."

"Well..." He stroked his clean-shaven chin thoughtfully. "Yes, that would be good, wouldn't it? And see that they prepare some of that roast fowl that Primus is fond of." He reached out and touched Brooklyn's head carefully, letting a finger trace the seemingly carved ripples in the gargoyle's thick mane of hair. "I shall invite Virgil and Horace to dine with us. A reading from the 'Aeneid' is always an excellent way to end an evening."

Julia bowed her head. "Yes, Father, that would be delightful. And I shall have the court musicians play gentle music during the meal."

Augustus broke into a great smile. "Yes, yes! It pleases me greatly to see you taking such responsibility. I shall leave everything up to you, my daughter."

She dipped into a gracious lady-like bow. "I will make you proud of me, Father." With that, Julia left the throne room. Her personal servants fell into line behind her like a covey of quail. Without looking, Julia began issuing commands.

"Sabra, go down to the fisherman's wharf and get the best of whatever they have. Tamiko, go to the kitchens and order a banquet for nine. It must be ready to be served at just after sundown. Ursula, see that the court scribes issue invitations to Virgil and Horace and whoever else might be suitable for a dinner party. Shani, you will see to my wardrobe and hair. I must look my best."

Her servants, well-trained in dealing with their mistress's capricious whims, mumbled their acknowledgments and scattered, each to their own tasks. Julia, away from her father's stern glance, smiled slyly. In her mind, there was nothing more thrilling than a well-planned seduction.

* * * * *

The Imperial Palace

The sun dripped like molten liquid gold down beyond the horizon, and the two gargoyles next to the imperial throne awoke with a roar, sending stone skin in all directions. Servants ran to where the skin had fallen with pails and brushes to clean the mess up. Two other servants began to do something hurriedly in front of Primus so that the crowd and Brooklyn could not have a good view of what was happening. After they were through, Brooklyn took one look at the servants, then Primus, and laughed his head off when he figured out what was going on.

"What are you laughing at?" Primus asked, crossing his arms with an attitude that clearly did not find anything funny in his predicament. The servants scurried about him, dressing the Roman gargoyle in new garments, this time a short white toga with intricate gold trim.

Brooklyn wiped the tears from the corners of his eyes and replied, "It's just that I'm used to waking up on the castle battlements, not in a throne room. And we don't usually get new clothing every night!"

"You mean your clothes do not get destroyed?" Primus asked seriously.

"Well..." Brooklyn trailed off, realizing that he might have embarrassed the Roman gargoyle with his laughter. "There is an old clan tale about why things like our clothes turn to stone with us."

"And what is that?"

"Let's see, how does that go?" The red gargoyle scratched the end of his beak. "It's kind of a long story but basically, the ruler of the city got upset because gargoyles never wore clothes. Whenever they woke from their stone sleep, their clothes would rip to shreds. Clearly, it wasn't their fault so the ruler asked a great magician to help them. The magician made a spell so that anything that the clan thought of as theirs and was on their person when they turned to stone, would turn to stone with them and be restored to normal when sundown turned them to flesh again." Brooklyn shrugged. "It's one of the first things we're taught as hatchlings. I guess I'm just so used to it that I take it for granted now."

"It's always been a bit bothersome to wake up with the servants fussing over me but Caesar insists on modesty in the palace." The brown gargoyle brightened. "I should tell the Mage about this! Perhaps he--" Primus suddenly cut his sentence short as a royal guard approached the two gargoyles.

"The emperor wishes you to dine with him and his guests," the man said curtly. He turned and pointed with his gleaming spear. "This way."

"Primus?" Brooklyn asked nervously as they followed the guard.

"It is all right," the Roman gargoyle answered. "I have been expecting this. Caesar wishes to meet you and this is the best way to do so in the eyes of the court. Just follow my lead and all will be well."

They were lead to a large room, brightly lit to show the ornate murals of rural life painted on the walls. There were three long couches, forming three sides of a square with a low table in the center. Seven people were already there, reclining and talking quietly as they nibbled on fruits and savory hors d'oeuvres.

Primus leaned in and whispered to Brooklyn. "The gentlemen on the left are the poets Virgil and Horace; sharing their couch is one of Augustus's generals, Agrippa. He rather fancies the emperor's daughter, Julia, the young dark-haired woman sitting with the emperor. The other woman is Livia, a noblewoman of the court. We will be sharing the couch on the right with the Mage."

Brooklyn nodded and followed Primus's example, bowing to Caesar Augustus before taking their places on the couch, carefully tucking in wings and tails politely. He reclined with a slight awkwardness that betrayed he was a little uncomfortable, at both the stares of the humans and the strangeness of the formal Roman banquet. Broadway, on the other hand, he mused, carefully concealing a little smirk, would have enjoyed himself immensely. Apparently, lying down to eat allowed the diners to stuff themselves on a variety of foods: an assortment of meat and vegetable pastes on thin, crispy wedges of unleavened bread, an exquisite stew of whitefish and shrimp in a delicate sauce, oysters and shellfish, roasted fowl stuffed with chestnuts, asparagus with lemon, and fresh fruit to finish.

He found it difficult to drink the watered-down sweet wine. Although he could pucker with his beak, it was very tricky managing the wine cup without spilling. The emperor's daughter, Julia came to his rescue, waving off the servant who was hovering with the wine jug. She smiled at him with startling blue-violet eyes and carefully held the cup for him.

"Thank you, my lady," Brooklyn said to her when he'd quenched his thirst with the watery wine.

"It is nothing," Julia answered, her voice pleasantly accompanied by the music in the background. "You are our honored guest, noble creature and I want you to feel welcome." Across the dining table, Agrippa glowered jealously at the newcomer.

"Gargoyle," Primus corrected her. "According to Brooklyn, we are gargoyles."

"A curious word," Virgil said. "I shall have to write that down."

Augustus lifted himself up on one elbow. The emperor had been content to let his guests lead the conversation but now felt inclined to join in. "Primus has been with us many years and in all that time, we have never seen another of his kind until you appeared in our throne room in that mysterious ball of fire. Where did you come from?"

Brooklyn had been giving some thought to a good cover story ever since he realized anything he said or did here in the past might change the future. He decided to stick to the truth -- or at least as much as it that could be applied in this case. "I was born in the land of the Britons, your Majesty. As to how I found myself here, I am as confused as you. One moment I was at my home, the next I was here in your palace."

One of the poets, bearded Horace, raised an eyebrow. "For a Briton, you speak very good Latin."

"Huh?" Brooklyn wrinkled his brow in confusion. "But I'm not speaking Latin, everyone is speaking English."

"No, my friend," Primus said mildly. "You've spoken Latin ever since your arrival."

"Actually, a facility with language is one of the side-effects of your phenomena," the Mage said as he cleared his throat. "Primus brought Brooklyn to talk with me last night. I've gone through my collection of magical tomes and I believe I might be able to help him find his way home."

"Really?" Julia was sitting very prettily on the edge of the couch next to her father. "Surely, you can stay with us a little while longer. Primus has been alone for such a long time."

"Yes," Primus agreed. "You must finish telling me all about being a gargoyle. So many things about myself have become clearer since we've met."

"Well..." Brooklyn thought about it. The Phoenix Gate could transport him through time and space so he might very well return at the point at which he left. He frowned, remembering how sick at heart he'd been, watching the blossoming romance between Broadway and Angela and wishing he could just get away from it all. A wry smile began to curl around his beak. If this wasn't his wish come true, then he didn't know what was. "Yes, I think I could stay a bit longer. That is, if it is all right with you, your Majesty?"

Augustus nodded and smiled indulgently. "I cannot think of anything better. Primus has always been an excellent friend to the court and two gargoyles will surely be a double blessing." He clapped his hands. "And now, friend Virgil, will you honor us with a reading from your great work, the 'Aeneid?'"

The older poet rose from the dining couch, arranging the drapes of his toga and unrolling a thick scroll. As he read about great deeds and heroes from the founding days of Rome, Brooklyn's gaze wandered around the room. Out of the corner of his eye, he caught the emperor's daughter looking at him. She smiled warmly when she noticed he was watching and slowly licked an errant drop of wine from her lips. Brooklyn blinked and then looked away to focus on the poet.

Julia's smile turned into a triumphant smirk.

* * * * *

The dinner party broke up a few hours later and the two gargoyles followed the Mage back to his tower. "So," Brooklyn asked as they entered his rooms, "exactly how does this 'facility of language' thing work?"

The Mage went to his desk to retrieve a book and some assorted papers. "It seems one of the lesser powers of the Phoenix Gate is that it gives the bearer the ability to communicate with others in their native tongue. It's only sensible, really. What would be the point of traveling to another place and time if you couldn't communicate with the inhabitants?"

"Yeah, that makes sense," Brooklyn agreed. "Sort of a 'universal translator,' huh?"

"Yes, I believe so." The Mage cleared a space on the work table and set down his armload. The papers were tossed down in a loose pile but the book was set down with a careful reverence. The Roman sorcerer caressed the gold embossed symbols on the leather book with respect and awe.

"Wait a minute!" Brooklyn exclaimed, recognizing the book. "That's the Grimorum Arcanorum!"

"How do you know about that?" the Mage asked as he looked up sharply. "I've never told that name to anyone. This has been my life's work, transcribing the works of my predecessors into this one tome of magical lore."

"Well...I...that is...an acquaintance of mine in my time bought it--"

"BOUGHT IT?!" the Mage cried in anguish. "This book cannot be bought! It has the secrets of magic between its covers that may only be revealed to mages of the highest power! Was this man a magus of some sort?"

"I guess you could say that," Brooklyn answered, remembering how Xanatos "acquired" the book and how the Archmage had stolen it. It was strange to see the Grimorum now when he knew that Goliath had told him it had been destroyed with the Archmage during the Battle for Avalon.

"If the Grimorum isn't used for good, it shouldn't be used at all." The Mage sighed. "But no matter, I must tell you what I've learned of the Phoenix Gate." He flipped through the pages of the arcane book until he came upon a drawing of the magic talisman.

Brooklyn took the Gate out of his belt pouch and compared it to the rough sketch. "Yeah, that's it all right." He squinted at the angular writing but could only make out a few of the Latin words. "What does it say?"

"It's a warning to one called the Timedancer, the bearer of the Phoenix Gate." The human traced a finger along the strange printing. "None of us are to know about the future. No one. If anyone asks you, do not tell them about the future, do you understand?" Brooklyn nodded his head. "Good. The stream of time must not be altered, the secrets of the future must leave with you. Hopefully, the Phoenix Gate will transport you out of this time soon."

Brooklyn couldn't help but resign himself to the fact that his whole fate depended on his hanging on to this magical object. A little golden trinket was calling the shots on his whole life!

"I found the tale that I was looking for last night." The Mage turned the book towards Brooklyn. This page was written in a much clearer hand and although some of the Latin terms were a bit archaic, Brooklyn found he could read it easily. Primus anxiously looked over and put his talons over some writing on an illustration of a man holding the Phoenix Gate.

"Could you read over my shoulder?!" Brooklyn asked, not realizing what his words implied. "You're covering up part of the story."

Primus hurriedly took his talons away from the pages of the book. "I beg your pardon, Brooklyn. I did not realize that because I cannot read."


"I can't read. I was never taught. Only a certain class of people are taught to read."

Brooklyn mentally smacked himself. He should have realized that; even in the Dark Ages, the time he was born, most gargoyles were illiterate, only a few choosing to learn how to read.

"I'm sorry! I didn't--" Brooklyn started to apologize, but Primus held up his hand. "No need to be sorry, Brooklyn. It was an honest mistake."

"Here, I'll read it aloud." Brooklyn began to read the passage about the Phoenix Gate to Primus:

Phoenus Ianua

It was late one summer's eve while I was studying my spells under the dull light of some candles near midnight, when I saw, like a ghostly apparition, the flame of the terrifyingly powerful Phoenus Ianua. I was almost sure that anyone without my training would have mistaken it for some comet or other heavenly body.

I raced outside of my study to observe where the Phoenus Ianua would go, for it was said that it always knew of its whereabouts in space and time. I followed its flaming path until I saw where it had gone. At length I perceived the Phoenus Ianua had appeared into the hands of a goddess.

Brooklyn stopped, turned to the Mage, and asked, "So he's saying that the Gate can control where in space and time it is going?"

The human looked up from the piece of parchment he was busily drawing on with a stick of charcoal. "Exactly. The Phoenix Gate has power over you apparently. Or perhaps another more powerful being has employed it." He glanced quickly between the red gargoyle and the parchment before resuming his sketch.

Brooklyn remembered those strange voices...perhaps they controlled the Gate? He frowned, then continued reading.

When I came upon the strange woman, with skin the color of new leaves, she revealed herself to be of the gods, and that she perceived that I had been loyal to my magic arts. She proclaimed she would reveal to me a certain knowledge of the Phoenus Ianua. I said I would be honored to pass down to further generations what she would teach me. And so, she transferred the knowledge of what the Phoenus Ianua was and how it worked. Unfortunately, I never saw the Phoenus Ianua again. But now I will share with you my secrets, for I now lay dying and must keep my promise to pass on the secrets of the Phoenus Ianua to you. Use this gift of knowledge well. I shudder to think what could and would happen if this knowledge was used for the wrong purposes.

"So how long ago did this magus die?" Primus asked after Brooklyn finished reading the passage.

"Nearly three hundred years ago." He held out a scroll, stamped with a gilded wax seal. "This was attached to the original document that the story came from. According to that, this scroll contains the secrets of the Phoenix Gate but it has been sealed magically. For years I have been trying to find a way to get break the spell, but have failed. Perhaps you are a blessing, Brooklyn. Here, take this, please. As a servant of the Gate, you are the only one who might have a use for it."

Brooklyn accepted the sheet of rolled-up parchment and stuffed it into the pouch along with the Phoenix Gate. The Mage smiled as if a great burden were suddenly lifted off his shoulders and let out a deep breath with a cough.

Primus regarded the sorcerer thoughtfully. "The hour is late," he said, "and we have eaten well. We shall leave you to your rest, honorable Mage, and Brooklyn can come back tomorrow night to converse with you further."

"Yes," the Mage answered. "That would be fine. Good night to you both." He took the charcoal drawing he had made, turned to an empty page in the Grimorum and began to copy the image into its pages.

With that, Primus and Brooklyn quietly left the Mage's chambers. The Roman gargoyle glanced back as they descended the stairs. "Although the Mage is relatively young," he explained, "he has in recent years suffered from a weakness of the lungs. Last winter, it was necessary to send him south where it was warmer. He doesn't like to be fussed over but I can always tell when he is not feeling well."

Brooklyn nodded. "It's good that you're looking out for him."

"He has always been very kind to me," Primus said. "I've always felt very strongly about him and Augustus ever since I was very small."

"They are your clan," the red gargoyle answered. "Gargoyles are highly social. When we're away from our clan, it's like part of us is missing. It is a rare thing for a gargoyle to be without a clan."

"What is it like?" Primus asked. "I know, you can't tell me many things, but what was like, growing up in a...clan? Did you have brothers and sisters?"

"Well, my clan was very large in those days so all the eggs were kept in a rookery. When we hatched, we were all considered children of the clan and I had many brothers and sisters." A shadow passed over Brooklyn's face as he recalled the Wyvern massacre. "I still have two rookery brothers, Broadway and Lexington. They always called us the Trio because wherever one was, the other two had to be close behind." He laughed. "And we still are, if not as much as we were when we were hatchlings."

"Why do you say that?"

Brooklyn shrugged. "Just a part of growing up, I guess. Broadway is courting the only available female, Lex is always studying new things and I was picked to be second-in-command. We're all moving on to tasks more suited to adult warriors."

"Hmmm, warriors." Primus wrinkled his eyebrow ridges thoughtfully. "I've always guarded the palace so Caesar considers me part of his Praetorian Guard."

"Primus?" Something had been nagging at Brooklyn most of the night. "Is something going on with Julia? She was looking at me all evening."

"Ah, that. I noticed that as well. You would be wise to..." Primus trailed off as a guard in a crimson tunic came towards them.

"I'm sorry to interrupt, but there is a small disturbance outside the city walls and the Captain requests your assistance, winged one."

"I'll be right there," Primus unfolded his wings and prepared for flight, stepping out onto the nearest balcony.

"I'll come too," Brooklyn said, following the Roman gargoyle.

"Caesar Augustus wishes to speak with you," the guard told Brooklyn.

Primus looked back. "I'll be fine, Brooklyn. Caesar is always interested in conversation with new people and late at night is practically the only time he has for it." With that, the brown gargoyle jumped off the balcony and took off into the night.

The guard bowed curtly and gestured down the corridor.

"Better not keep the emperor waiting," Brooklyn muttered, still trying to comprehend how amazing it was that he had actually met the one and only Caesar Augustus and was about to have a private audience with him. When he got home, none of them were going to believe the stories he would have to tell.

If he ever did get home....

* * * * *

Anointing herself with the costliest perfumes from the Orient, Julia preened in front of the polished bronze mirror. She had exchanged the modest dress she had worn in front of her father for a long skirt and criss-crossed halter of the sheerest silk, pale blue to accent her eyes. Everything was going perfectly; Primus had been dispatched on a fool's errand, her father was occupied with the poets, that boorish oaf Agrippa was off to the garrison, and she had it on good authority that the Mage was fast asleep in his chambers. She heard the distinctive sound of the guard's sandals slapping against the tiled floor in the corridor and quickly hid behind a large potted plant.

* * * * *

"You are to wait here," the guard said and left Brooklyn in the dimly lit room, firmly pulling the heavy doors shut behind him.

The red gargoyle had a good look around the room and walked over to examine the mural painted on the wall. Brooklyn didn't know much about art but it was a pleasant enough scene, a day in the country. The pigment was worked directly into the plaster and he started to extend a talon to see how far under the surface the color went when he felt a gentle touch between his wings. His eyes widened and he froze temporarily in place as the roving hands stroked up his wings and down again. It was when he looked down and saw two delicate human hands going for his belt that he snapped to his senses and bolted towards the door.


Brooklyn looked back and gulped. It was Julia, skin glowing ivory in the dim lamplight, sultry look in her eyes as she came towards him, wrapped in the Roman equivalent of Kleenex. Brooklyn had seen enough cable television that he had fairly good idea what she had on her mind. He gulped again.

"Ah, hi there, Julia. Um, I have to go see your father, the emperor and--"

"It was I who summoned you." Her vivid eyes crackled and popped as she came closer.

"Wha--why?" Brooklyn's question came out garbled.

"I'm glad to see that the guard did his job and sent Primus off to my little--diversion." She smiled slowly. "You see, I find you ...very...attractive."

"Hoo boy." It seemed that Caesar's daughter had some interesting kinks. Primus ~had~ tried to warn him about her and Brooklyn had a very clear picture as to what the Roman gargoyle might have had to say about Little Miss Julia. "That's nice," he ventured carefully. "Most humans think gargoyles are terribly ugly."

"That's their problem," Julia said. "You're strong and exotic and I like that." She breathed deeply, making interesting things happen in the elegantly draped fabric. "And I want you to like me." Her eyes met his. "A lot."

"Julia! Are those words for an emperor's daughter?" Brooklyn chided, starting to like the attention in spite of the cold sweat that had just broken out all over his body. Julia played along perfectly.

"Father is the upstanding, proper one. Me, I like to be naughty."

He asked huskily, "What if I don't want to play?"

"Then I'll scream and the Praetorian Guard will come running," she said, a nasty edge coming into her voice. "And I'll have you and Primus broken into a thousand pieces." She smiled, all sweetness and light. "There are two guards outside the door and several more guarding the windows. You might as well submit. I'm sure you'll find it ...enjoyable."

Brooklyn backed into the wall, a sick expression on his face. He clutched the pouch containing the Phoenix Gate, feeling the ridges of its carvings beneath his fingers. "C'mon, you stupid thing," he said under his breath, "Get me out of this mess!"

Julia straightened up, eyes flashing. "How DARE you call me a 'stupid thing?' Guards---"

A blinding flash of orange-white light flared up, illuminating even the darkest corners of the room. Julia screamed and threw up her arms to fend off the glowing ball of fire that surrounded the gargoyle. With a shrill shriek, the Phoenix Gate disappeared as quickly as it appeared, in the wink of an eye. The doors burst open and Agrippa stormed in, red-garbed guards at his heels.

"Julia!" he demanded. "What has happened here?"

Caesar's daughter stared at her father's general with wide blue eyes as big as saucers, her lip trembling. She threw her arms around the burly man's neck and wailed, "O-o-oh, A-grip-pa!" as she burst into hysterical tears.

* * * * *

Brooklyn was relieved but couldn't help being just a little bit sad. He would have liked to have at least said goodbye to Primus and the others. Still, he couldn't wait to get home to Manhattan. Now he knew how it felt when Goliath had gone on his "World Tour." It had yet to occur to him that he might not be taking the direct route home.

"Rome's a fun place to visit," Brooklyn said to himself with a laugh, "but I would never want to live there!" But the red gargoyle had barely time to think these thoughts for he was heading back through the timestream to......

* * * * *

"So you still can't figure out where he went?" Broadway asked again for the umpteenth time.

The response was the same, delivered in that annoying flat tone of voice. "I'm afraid not."

Broadway sighed heavily. He was getting very frustrated. Owen had been no help in their search for Brooklyn, merely asking (interrogating was more like it) about the certain things Brooklyn had done before he had mysteriously disappeared in the Phoenix Gate's flames. Dawn was only a few minutes off and he was irritated that they didn't seem to be getting anywhere with the investigation. Angela was very depressed and not saying anything except the occasional answer to Owen. The executive assistant now had a notepad perched upon his stone fist for leverage and was scratching some notes.

"B-broadway?" Angela said in a quavering voice. "Owen?

He spun around to find Angela pointing to something out on the parapets. He strained to get a better look, and Owen was taking notice as well.

A small speck of fire had developed in the exact spot where Brooklyn had disappeared five minutes ago. They all retreated as the flames grew larger and larger, eventually taking the shape of a giant globe and then four very indistinct forms became visible within the fiery sphere. Angela fell over her feet as she backed away but Broadway was there to catch her. As suddenly as they appeared, the flames died, and when they were gone, four figures stood in the pinkish pre-dawn light.

Like a pre-planned attack formation, two of the figures sprang forward, revealing two small gargoyle hatchlings that were probably about nine years old in gargoyle years. One of the figures was a beautiful female gargoyle with hair as dark as midnight and skin like cool jade. Her almond-shaped eyes could either melt a heart or pierce it. She wore a modified dark red kimono embroidered with chrysanthemums over an ivory tunic, the flowing sleeves bound up from wrist to forearm for efficient swordplay with a wicked-looking katana blade gripped in her hand.

The male gargoyle was holding some sort of a pulse rifle and seemed ready to fire at anything that came within range. He had Brooklyn's brick-red coloring and the same wing structure. In fact, he looked just like Brooklyn, but a good thirty or forty years older. He wore an interesting mix of armor: an enameled chestplate looking like the latest in laser-proof armor from Xanatos's R&D lab and a dull metal guard on his left shoulder strapped diagonally across his chest with a leather strap. A multiple compartmented belt held up the traditional gargoyle loincloth and forearm gauntlets gleamed in the early morning light.

The male's eyes focused on them. He smiled broadly and immediately lowered his pulse rifle. This only served to confuse Angela and Broadway.

The male looked over his shoulder and said, "Uchi da! Koko kara zenbu hajimatta no!" ["I'm home! This is where it all started!"]

Whatever it was that he said, the female lowered her shining katana blade in response. They both turned back as the two hatchlings, a male and a female but identical in beaks and fingered wing structures, came forward. Angela's eyes widened in realization. The two hatchlings were fraternal twins, something of a rarity among gargoyles.

The young female was a ruddy red with a mane of thick black hair which had several tiny beaded braids interwoven in it. She wore a blue tunic with capped sleeves and a wide, patterned sash like a Japanese obi. Like the older female, she carried a weapon, a bo staff that she twirled expertly. Her brother, a darker jade green with shorter, wilder black hair, had his arms full with a wiggling, squirming gargoyle beast, very young, little more than a hatchling. The immature beast stared at its surroundings and whimpered, trying to burrow into the tan multi-pocketed vest his young master was wearing along with a blue loincloth. Both twins had matching armbands on their left arms, each with a curious black display panel.

"Hey! Cut it out!" the male hatchling said, giggling. "That tickles!"

"Broadway? Angela?" the adult male asked breathlessly as he stepped towards them. A big grin curved around his beak. "Jalapeña! You have NO idea how great it is to see you again!"

The little female grinned as well. She dropped her staff and ran to the other two gargoyles. "Aunt Angela! Uncle Broadway!" She threw her arms around the big blue gargoyle's stomach as far as she could reach and gave him a big hug.

Broadway's mouth hung open as he stared down at the hatchling. "Uh...do I know you, kid?"

"Oh." She frowned and turned back to the adult male. "Dad? Are we early?"

"Brooklyn?" Angela asked weakly.

"Yeah, it's me." Brooklyn grinned. He swallowed hard and blinked, eyes looking a little misty. "You still ... remember me?"

"Of course, we remember," Angela said, puzzled. "You only just left--" She suddenly cut her sentence off as she heard the footsteps coming up behind them.

Brooklyn cocked his head and looked past her. "Goliath," he said simply,his voice choked with emotion, "I've been waiting a long time for this." He walked up to the tall lavender gargoyle to clasp his forearm. "It's good to be home."

There an audible pause while everyone looked at Goliath. The leader of the Manhattan clan stood there, flanked on either side by Lexington, Hudson and Bronx, staring at his second-in-command, the shock clearly visible on his rugged face. "Brooklyn?" His brow wrinkled. "But it was only a dream...."

The sun rose and there were four more gargoyles frozen in stone on Castle Wyvern's battlements than there had been the night before.

* * * * *

Owen walked around the sleeping gargoyles, carefully examining the new arrivals, a wry smile on his face. The Puck in him was particularly pleased with the appearance of the new, more mature Brooklyn. It was no wonder Goliath looked so shocked; Puck had conjured up an especially realistic illusion in an effort to get Goliath to give up the Phoenix Gate. Although it had failed, he had been very proud of that dream and allowed himself a very small un-Owenish smile as he compared the statue of Brooklyn to the image he had conjured up months ago.

At the time, he thought his desperation to avoid the Gathering gave him the extra creativity, but looking at his own trick, now reality, standing before him, he began to wonder. What if some greater force had been at work? He frowned. A more immediate concern would be: what would Xanatos think of this? Perhaps nothing...but there was always something that could be gained from Brooklyn's knowledge of the future.

Owen walked through the halls of Castle Wyvern, straight to the dining room. David Xanatos was multi-tasking, mind on business even at this early hour. He had the Wall Street Journal spread out on one side of his plate and an open manila file of paperwork on the other. His loaded fork dangled perilously over the new contracts for Xanatos Enterprises and Owen cringed.

He walked very calmly over to the table. "Mr. Xanatos?" he asked.

"Yes, Owen?"

"I just came down from the battlements."

"And?" Xanatos asked, not really paying attention.

"An incident happened just a little while ago. I'm still not quite sure of the events that lead to it but evidently Brooklyn has traveled through time with the help of the Phoenix Gate."

"WHAT?!" Xanatos exclaimed, his full attention riveted on his executive assistant. "Goliath told me he got rid of it."

"He did but he must have been thinking something about Brooklyn when he disposed of it. According to Angela and Broadway, he had found it up on the battlements when he suddenly disappeared in front of them. I was trying to get to the bottom of it when Brooklyn re-appeared, only this time with four new gargoyles, an adult female, two children and a beast."

"Really?" Xanatos tossed his napkin on the table and went to the room's concealed security panel. He quickly accessed the security cameras nearest the cluster of gargoyles. "Hmmmm....interesting. You did see the beaks on those kids?"

"Yes, sir. It would seem to be a family resemblance."

The billionaire laughed. "I guess I owe Brooklyn a couple of cigars. Tell you what, Owen, I think a welcome home party is in order. Make the arrangements and I'll give Detective Maza a call. She won't want to miss this."

* * * * *

Elisa sat on one of the stone battlements in the late afternoon sun, staring at the new gargoyle arrivals. She barely noticed the arrival of the Xanatos family -- David, Fox and little Alex bundled up in his father's arms. Xanatos leaned over to let Alex pet the stone head of the small gargoyle beast in the young male's arms.

"What do you think?" he asked the police officer.

"Wha--?" Elisa was caught off-guard but quickly responded, "I don't know what to make of it. That one," she pointed to the female warrior, "looks like she's one of the gargoyles Goliath and I met in Japan."

Fox walked around various gargoyles, studying them. "But who are they and why would Brooklyn bring them back here?"

"What I'd like to know is exactly how long he's been gone," Xanatos commented.

"Yeah," Elisa agreed. "Brooklyn looks a lot older now."

"We'll know soon," Xanatos said, glancing at the sky. "The sun's going down."

* * * * *

The sun set slowly for the watchers on the battlements of Castle Wyvern. Goliath and the rest of Clan Manhattan awoke with a roar and immediately all of the clan started throwing questions at the newcomers. Broadway's voice was the loudest of all.

"Who are you?" he asked suspiciously.

"Aw, c'mon, it's me, Brooklyn," the red gargoyle said. "We're rookery brothers, remember?"

"You can't possibly be!" Broadway looked at him directly but somehow was still not ready to believe his own eyes. "You're too old to be my rookery brother!"

"Hey, I can prove it! Remember when we first woke up in Manhattan, that night you, me and Lex were out on the town and Lex went joy-riding on that motorcycle and accidentally smashed it into that brick wall?"

Goliath scowled. "You did what?"

"He has to be Brooklyn!" Lex was hopping from foot to foot, too excited to notice his clan leader's disapproving look. "We swore never to tell anyone about that!" The short green gargoyle threw his arms wide and found himself eagerly embraced. Broadway finally grinned and swept them both up into a bear hug. The rookery brothers were soon thumping each other on the back and laughing. Everyone else stood back and watched as the Trio had their little reunion. It was almost too much to take in. Xanatos turned to see Goliath's reaction. The gargoyle leader looked almost panic-stricken for some reason.

In the excitement, the little gargpup had gotten away from the male hatchling and was dancing around Bronx's feet. The older gargoyle beast sniffed the smaller creature, roughly a third of his own size, and pinned it down with one massive foot. It yipped as Bronx proceeded to give it a thorough bath with his rough tongue.

"Hey!" the boy gargoyle protested, "Leave him alone!" He tried pulling Bronx off his pet but he underestimated the big gargbeast. Bronx neatly tripped the youngster and sat on him without missing a lick.

"Oooomph! Somebody's really been into the kibble!" he complained as he tried futilely to free himself. He glared at his giggling sister. "The least you could do is help, Ari-chan!"

Hudson smiled indulgently and came over to lend a hand. "Get off, Bronx. You'll flatten th' lad." He smacked the gargoyle beast on the flank and Bronx obediently moved aside. The old gargoyle helped the youngster up. "They call me Hudson. What's yuir name, lad?"

"Graeme." He thrust a thumb over his shoulder. "And the gigglepuss over there is my sister, Ariana."

Bronx let the gargpup go and the little creature promptly came over to sniff Hudson's leggings. He chuckled and bent down to scratch his ears, watching the stub tail twirl around like a propeller. "And does this wee rascal have a name?"

"Not yet," Graeme admitted. "I'm waiting to find just the right one."

"I still like 'Fu-dog,'" Ariana said, coming a little closer, looking shyly at Hudson. "It's cute."

Graeme snorted. "And I still say it sounds like it came from a really cheap Japanese cartoon."

"You LIKE cheap Japanese cartoons!"

"Yeah, but --"

"Now, now," Hudson chided. "His name will come to you sooner or later. Until then, I know many things about gargoyle beasts." He patted Bronx's broad head, nodding encouragingly as Ariana reached out to scratch behind one of the older beast's bat-winged ears. "Ask me anything." The old gargoyle smiled indulgently as both hatchlings began to chatter away at him.

The Trio were still reminiscing about old times when Xanatos couldn't stand the suspense any more and interrupted. "Brooklyn," he began, "What happened to you?"

"And are you going to introduce us?" Fox added, glancing at the female gargoyle standing at Brooklyn's side, silently studying them all.

"Well, the long and the short of it is that the Phoenix Gate decided to take me on an extended vacation," Brooklyn said with a laugh. He smiled at the jade green female and held out his hand to her. "I went to more places and times than I care to remember but the most important ones were the trips to 16th century Ishimura where I met Sata, my mate," he squeezed her hand, "and the future where my children Graeme and Ariana were hatched." He looked proudly at Sata and at the children who were talking to Hudson. "This is my family."

"Your family?" Goliath asked, clearly shaken.

"Yeah, Goliath. I've been gone a long time." He laughed. "I know that only five minutes passed for you here, but I've been traveling for forty years."

"We have been traveling, Brooklyn-san." Sata spoke for the first time, her voice low and gentle but tempered with steel. "Might I know your clan?"

Brooklyn smiled sheepishly. "Of course, beloved. Me and my ~gajin~ manners again, sorry." He began introducing his mate to the various members of the Manhattan Clan, the Xanatos family and Elisa. When he came to Goliath, Sata bowed deeply from the waist and held out her sheathed katana.

"Konichiwa, Goliath-sama. I offer my sword in service of the clan."

Goliath glanced at Brooklyn, who nodded. "I accept, Sata. I am honored. Please be welcome in our clan." He returned her bow with one of his own.

Sata nodded respectfully and returned her katana to her belt with her shorter wakizashi sword. "Domo arigato, Goliath-sama. My children and I are glad to finally meet all of you. Brooklyn has told us many stories of his clan," she glanced at her mate and smiled, "so many that I feel I know you very well."

"Hoo boy," Broadway said, making a face. "Only good stories, I hope."

Brooklyn and Sata looked at each other and laughed.

Lex couldn't help it, he simply had to ask a question. "Where'd you pick up your pet?" The little creature was scampering from person to person, sniffing and yipping excitedly.

"Somewhere in ancient China," Graeme answered, picking up the small gargbeast. "Don't know exactly when."

Brooklyn winked at him. "Any other questions?"

"Well, um, Brooklyn, what exactly did happen to you?" Elisa asked. "You look different."

Brooklyn shrugged. "I don't remember anything about the trip except that the Phoenix Gate sort of...grabbed me and threw me around the timestream. I went all over the world and beyond. But that's a story for another day. It may have taken me forty years but I'm home now." The clan looked at each other in mild concern as what he said sunk in. "Guys! I'm really not any different!" Brooklyn laughed. "Just older!"

"What do mean, 'you don't remember anything?'" Lexington asked quizzically.

"That's exactly what I mean, Lex. I don't remember anything except a few shattered fragments about Sata and the kids."

"Yeah but...." Lex abruptly turned to Sata, Graeme, and Ariana. "Do any of you remember anything?" he asked.

Graeme and Ariana looked up at their mother as she put a hand on each of their shoulders. "No, Lexington-san, I'm afraid not," Sata answered calmly. "It is odd but after many trips through the Gate, one's memories become clouded. A strange phenomena, but one to which we've grown accustomed."

Lexington scratched his head in puzzlement. Their answers didn't make sense but he decided to let the subject drop. For now.

"Tell you what, Brooklyn. Let's take Sata and the kids on a quick flight around Manhattan," Broadway said good-naturedly. "Show them your old stomping grounds."

Brooklyn fingered the pouch on his belt. "Well...I don't know..."

"Dad? Can we?" Graeme asked excitedly.

"PLEASE?" Ariana chimed in.

"Dinner won't be ready for another hour," Fox said. "We thought we'd make an occasion out of it. Owen has the kitchen staff making all your favorites."

"That's nice of you and Xanatos, thanks!" Brooklyn looked into the anxious faces of his children. "Well, okay then. We can go just as soon as I check something."

Brooklyn opened his belt pouch and pulled out the Phoenix Gate, twinkling eerily in the moonlight. "Hmmm...." he said thoughtfully, holding it between his palms. "Seems to be inactive at the moment."

A thought occurred to Elisa and she walked over to Brooklyn, putting a hand on his shoulder. "This isn't over for you yet, is it?" she asked softly. He met her eyes for a few seconds and then looked uncomfortably away.

"We do not know, Elisa-chan," Sata answered for her mate. "The Gate sends us where and when by its choice, not ours."

"Like all of Avalon's magic," Angela said. "It sends you where you need to be."

"I'm glad it sent us here, for however long that might be," Brooklyn said, smiling back at them all. "It's great to see everyone in the clan back together again." A shadow crossed over his face and he stared sadly at the worn talisman in hand.

Goliath stepped closer for a better look. Upon closer inspection, he could see that the Gate looked very fragile, cracked and pitted in many places. "May I see it?" he asked. "It seems changed from the last time I saw it."

"Sure, but be careful. It's gotten pretty erratic lately." Brooklyn held it out as Goliath reached to take it.

At the moment that both the present and future clan leader touched it, a bright crack like a lightning bolt opened on the surface of the Phoenix Gate. Goliath and Brooklyn jumped back and the magical talisman fell to the flagstones, smashing into powder on impact. Brooklyn's family huddled around him, staring at the shattered artifact.

"Father?" Ariana asked in a tiny voice. "Is it over?"

Brooklyn nodded and tucked his daughter into the crook of his arm. "We're here to stay, sweetheart."

Relieved, the time-dancing gargoyles turned away to join the others for the tour of the city as Xanatos and family returned inside to prepare for the coming banquet. An errant breeze stirred the pile of ashes, swirling the loose particles on top until they resembled cloud of black smoke, drifting away into the late autumn sky. Owen came out with a dust pan and brush, scooping up the remains of the Phoenix Gate. He stood and started to go back inside when he abruptly stopped in mid-step. Dipping thumb and forefinger into the ash, Owen carefully rubbed a small bit between his fingers and sniffed it, the wrinkles in his forehead deepening.

A rumble of thunder caught his attention. Owen looked out towards the coming storm on the horizon and frowned.

* * * * *

"C'mon, Dad!!" Graeme yelled, standing with his sister on the castle wall.

Brooklyn had the empty pouch in which he'd carried the Phoenix Gate in his hand, looking at it with an expression of relief and regret. "Just a minute, Graeme," he said absently.

"How's about I look after the kids?" Lexington volunteered. "I'll keep them out of trouble."

"Well, I guess that's all right. Thanks, Lex." He yelled at the twins. "You mind your Uncle Lex! Understand?" Brooklyn waved at them, smiling as Lex took the two kids out gliding ahead of the others. A lump rose in his throat and the smile faded.

"My love? Are you all right?" Sata asked, putting a hand on his arm.

He crumpled the pouch in his hand and enfolded his mate in his wings. "I wish I could tell him," he whispered hoarsely into her dark hair.

Sata closed her eyes and held him close. "You know you cannot."

"I know." He sighed bitterly. "If I could change just one fate, his would be the one." He let out a deep breath in a quavering shudder, fighting to keep his composure.

"Be strong, beloved." The Japanese gargoyle pulled back to place both hands on her mate's brow ridges, caressing them gently, soothing him with her touch. "For good or for bad, this is the time we are meant to be in. We will raise our children, protect the castle and all will be well." She rubbed her cheek against his beak. "And I will never stop loving you."

Brooklyn blinked hard and smiled as he stroked her cheek. "I don't deserve you," he murmured.

Sata raised an eyebrow ridge. "This is very true."

"Hey, lovebirds!" Broadway bellowed. "You coming or what? Your kids are halfway across town!"

"Oh, yeah..." Brooklyn said with a laugh. "We'd better catch up to the kids before Lex tells them about the Brooklyn Bridge."

"Why is that, beloved?"

"Oh, let's just say I kind of stretched the truth a bit."

Sata gave him a puzzled look as they leaped off the castle wall after the others.

* * * * *

Lexington was rather enjoying playing tour guide. The twins were very curious about everything he pointed out, asking questions that occasionally one twin started and the other finished. They both would burst into giggles at that point and Lex couldn't help grinning. It was good to hear such free-spirited laughter again.

"That's Madison Square Garden," Lex said as they passed overhead. "Your father, Broadway and I used to sneak in there to see concerts and shows."

"Dad?" Graeme quipped. "Mister 'Graeme, turn that awful racket down NOW!'? You're putting me on!"

Graeme's speech patterns and inflections were so much like Brooklyn's that it cracked Lex up. While he chuckled about that, Ariana glided in towards her brother.

"How is he doing it?" she asked softly. "The transmitters never had this much range before."

Graeme frowned. "I'm not sure. You know what Dad said."

"Yeah, I remember. No questions about ~that.~" Ariana bit her lip. "So how do we find out?"

"I got an idea." Graeme winked at her. "'Accidentally' knock me into him."

Ariana winked back and veered away from her brother.

"Hey, you two!" Lexington called. "Hang back a bit. The others are coming."

"Really?" Ariana wheeled around to look and let her bo staff slide through her fingers, swinging it out to smack against her brother's left wing spar. "Oops."

"Ooh! Eee! OW!" Graeme hammed it up for all he was worth, spinning into Lexington before regaining control.

The web-winged gargoyle tumbled free with an intricate display of aerial acrobatics before lashing his tail around Graeme's wrist and towing him to a nearby rooftop. "Are you all right?" Lex asked anxiously.

Graeme reached up and rubbed his wing. "Yeah, I think so."

Ariana landed and looked suitably contrite. "Oh, Graeme-kun! I am SO sorry! It just slipped, really!" Her lower lip stuck out and she looked like she was on the edge of blubbering.

"Why'd you bring that anyway?" Lex asked. "It's not like we're on patrol."

"Ari doesn't go anywhere without her stick if she can help it," Graeme said good-naturedly. "Besides we never know where we might pop up next." He put out his hand. "Thanks for the save, Uncle Lex."

Lex smiled and shook forearms with Graeme. "Uncle. I like the sound of that."

Impulsively, Ariana rose on tiptoe and gave Lex a quick hug. "I like it too." She retreated behind her brother in sudden shyness. "I always wanted to do that," she whispered to Graeme.

"I know," he whispered back, "Me too."

Lexington raised an eyebrow ridge at their cryptic comments but he was too elated by their spontaneous affection to dwell on it. Maybe the twins were a little young but he thought that they could have a lot of fun together.

"Here, lad!" Hudson called, "Is something the matter?"

"Nah," Lex answered. "We're just waiting for you slow-pokes to catch up."
He dove off with Graeme and Ariana to join the others.

The newly-expanded Manhattan clan swung south over the island, showing Sata and the twins Greenwich Village, Chinatown, the Statue of Liberty and the World Trade Center among other sights. Brooklyn had been a little down for some reason but had brightened as they passed over familiar landmarks, acting more and more like his old self. They were turning back north when the red gargoyle laughed and pointed towards a structure over the East River.

"Hey, kids! That's the Brooklyn Bridge!" Brooklyn crowed, feeling like he was rediscovering a lost world.

"Really, Dad?" Ariana asked admiringly. She curled her arm around his. "Just like in your stories?"

"Oh, yeah. That's the one!" Brooklyn answered loudly, glanced over his shoulder at Broadway and Lex with a look of "we'll-talk-it-over-later, not now!"

"Cool!" Graeme said. "Were Uncle Lex and Uncle Broadway there when you saved the city? That's why they decided to dedicate the bridge to you, isn't it?"

Elisa, riding in Goliath's arms, began to laugh and Hudson snorted. Brooklyn was starting to look a little sick when Broadway spoke up.

"Sure, we were!" He raised an eyebrow ridge at Lex flying nearby and winked. "We'll have to hear the whole story later, after dinner."

"Yeah! Please, Dad?" Graeme asked.

Ariana leaned against her father's arm and made big puppy eyes at him. "Pleeeeeeze?"

Lex chuckled and swung in towards Broadway. "He's going to KILL you for that."

"I know," Broadway answered back. "I can't wait to hear what Brooklyn's been telling them."

* * * * *

Sata smiled to herself as she watched her mate playing tag with the twins and his greenish rookery brother. Brooklyn was acting like an overgrown hatchling again, not unlike the way that he had been when they had first met. She was feeling a little subdued herself, the realization sinking in that they were going to be living here, in this time and that she would never again see the clan she left behind to dance through the centuries with her beloved. Still, the clan at Ishimura had thrived over the years. Perhaps they had left a record of her in the shrine scrolls. The jade green gargoyle sighed heavily, looked down, and in doing so, spied a curious thing with her sharp eyes.

"Goliath-sama!" Sata called as she winged towards the lavender gargoyle. "Is that a normal occurrence?" She pointed.

"Uh-oh, looks like a robbery in progress," Elisa said to Goliath as she fumbled for the phone in her pocket. "Better call dispatch." Several men were in an alleyway near the docks on the river, loading goods from a warehouse into a large truck. Their furtive glances and frantic activity were a dead giveaway that they were up to no good.

Goliath circled overhead and called the others. "Broadway, Hudson, deal with the truck. Angela, Brooklyn, check the building for any others." He stopped, uncertain as to whether to involve the newcomers. "Sata, perhaps it would be wise for you and the twins to stay airborne..."

The Ishimura gargoyle drew her shining katana with a silken hiss. "I respectfully disagree, Goliath-sama. My sword is not for ceremonial use and my children, while still quite young, are capable warriors."

"Trust me, Goliath," Brooklyn said. "We didn't spend the last forty years on a three-hour sightseeing tour. My family can pull their own weight."

"We're gonna have to take the chance," Elisa interjected. "It looks to me like those guys are almost packed up."

Goliath glanced from Elisa back to Brooklyn and his family. "Very well. Sata, you go with Angela and Brooklyn. Lex, you're in charge of Graeme and Ariana. Stay high and pick off any stragglers. I'll back up Elisa while she makes the arrest." He looked at the faces of his clan. "Let's go."

* * * * *

The rough-looking man with the heavy beard stubble was on the threshold of the loading dock, handing off a carton containing a television set to one of his associates when the dark-haired woman stepped into the alley, flashing a badge.

"Police!!! Drop everything and lay down on the ground!"

"Take it and get out of here!" Stubble Face said to the two men in the alley. "We'll meet up later!"

An eerie scream echoed up the narrow alley and one of the men pointed up.

"Gargoyles! What the --?"

"Shut up! Shut up the both of you and get that merchandise outta here!" Stubble Face pulled out a .38 special and fired at the police officer. She ducked behind a dumpster. He punched the release for the loading dock door and ran into the darkened building. Brooklyn, Sata and Angela followed through a skylight on the roof.

The two men in the alley slammed the rear door down on the truck and jumped into the cab. The driver gunned the engine but the vehicle did not move.

"What's wrong?" the passenger yelled frantically. "Did you leave the brake on?"

"Don't be stupid! I--" They both suddenly pitched forward into the dashboard as the back end of the truck rose at a sharp angle.

The driver's side door was ripped off. "There ye go, lass."

"Thanks, Hudson." The dark-haired police officer looked in, gun aimed right at them. "Okay, boys. Get out of the truck, slow and easy."

The driver got out awkwardly, one hand in the air and the other pressed on the bridge of his nose as he tried to stem the nosebleed that had resulted from his collision with the steering wheel. He gaped as he saw the reason for his capture. Two big gargoyles, one blue and one lavender, were holding up the truck by its back bumper.

"Geez! How are they doing that?"

The cop smiled but didn't take her eyes off the crooks. "Guys, you can put the truck down now."

"Thanks, Elisa." Broadway went over to the loading bay door and pried his talons under the edge. "I'm going to give the others a hand. Okay, Goliath?"

The lavender gargoyle nodded. "Be careful."

"Always," Broadway replied and jerked the door up with a rattling clank.

* * * * *

Brooklyn, Sata and Angela moved cautiously across the disused floor of the warehouse loft, kicking up little puffs of dust with each footstep. Angela kept an eye on her companions; in spite of his familiarity, Brooklyn had changed so much. His new maturity had brought an intensity and focus that had been downplayed by the wisecracking attitude of his younger days. He lifted his pulse rifle to his shoulder, examining the warehouse floor with the infrared scope.

"Now where did that guy get to?" Brooklyn muttered under his breath. "I'm picking up a heat trail but there's lot of residual signatures from all the traffic in here."

"What?" Angela blinked and looked at him, eyebrow ridges raised.

"He means his clever toy can't find our quarry," Sata said with a wry smile. She rolled her eyes in the time-approved 'Oh-that-man-of-mine!' manner of females everywhere. "Maybe we should split up and do this the old-fashioned way."

"Wait a minute..." Brooklyn swung his rifle upward as he continued to look through the sight. "There's a really hot trail going up those stairs across from us."

Angela squinted. "I don't see any--"

"Look out!" Brooklyn quickly shoved Angela and Sata back behind some crates as gunshots rang out from the loft directly opposite of them. Two bullets struck Brooklyn in the chestplate and he was thrown several feet back. The heads of both females snapped around to stare at him in concern.

"I'm okay," the red gargoyle rasped out, raising on one elbow. "Go get him."

Angela looked to Sata but the jade green gargoyle was gone, slipping through the shadows like a ghost. From the cover of the crate, she could see three men looking their way with guns drawn and another trying to open a window to escape across the rooftops. A metal grating screech attracted their attention and although they spoke quietly, her sharp ears hear them clearly.

"Hey, another one!"

"He's a big one, ain't he?"

"I hear the Quarrymen will pay big bucks for a gargoyle -- dead or alive."

One of them aimed. "Then I say we just bring in his head."

Eyes flaming red, Angela grabbed a crate and heaved it across the breezeway at the men. Sata chose that moment to drop out of the rafters, katana carving a silver crescent in midair. She moved in a graceful yet deadly dance, combining expert swordsmanship with martial arts forms, disarming one man while kicking another screaming into Broadway's arms below. Behind her, the remaining men had broken the window in desperation and were climbing through. The last one turned and started to raise his gun.

A laser pulse sent the pistol flying out of the man's hand and he looked up to see Brooklyn barreling at him at full speed. There was a dull crunch as the red gargoyle drove the hapless criminal into the wall. He stood up, shifting his shoulders and wincing.

"Are you hurt?" Sata asked anxiously, looking up from her captive.

"I'm fine," Brooklyn replied. He fingered the dents in his armor. "I can't say the same about my chestplate."

"Are you guys all right?" Broadway called up.

"Yeah," Brooklyn yelled down. He eyed the broken window. "One of them got away. We'll be down in a minute, as soon as we check--" Muffled battle yells from just outside the building stopped him in mid-sentence and he hurled himself through the window.

* * * * *

"Ooooh!" Ariana squealed. "Did you see that? I didn't know Uncle Broadway was that strong!"

Graeme shrugged. "We never saw him young before."

Lexington hung back and listened, fascinated by the off-hand comments the twins were making. Clearly, Brooklyn and Sata had instructed them on what they could and could not say about their adventures with the Phoenix Gate but like typical children, the twins tended to forget that fact when they thought they were out of earshot.

"Hey, you two," Lex called out. "Keep your eyes peeled. If we're lucky, the others will scare a few bad guys out for us to take care of."

Ariana giggled as Graeme replied pertly, "Yeah, I know I wouldn't want to be around if Mother was mad at me."

Glass shattered below and a man scrambled out of the window, running down the fire escape and taking the steps two and three at a time. Lexington looked around and noticed that the alley below was congested with trash cans. He narrowed his eyes and thrust a thumb in that direction.

"Let's take out the trash, shall we, hmmm?"

Graeme eyed their target. The runaway crook was almost down to street level. "Ariana," he said, flicking out his tail, "lay some stick on me."

"Gotcha, Graeme." Ariana tossed her stick between them and both twins caught an end of the wooden bo staff with their tails. They folded up their wings and dove towards their target.

The man dropped onto the smaller loading dock, standing for a few seconds while he glanced around, left, right, but unfortunately, not up. He didn't hear the high-pitched double roars until the twins were right on top on him, sweeping past and hooking him behind the knees with the staff. Landing on his back in the trash cans, the air forced from his lungs, the criminal had a close-up view of Lexington sailing in to finish the job.

The twins pulled a tight roll and landed near Lex. They slapped their tails together.

"Yes!" Ariana crowed. "Ari and Graeme, the team supreme!"

"We really stuck it to him!"

"Yeah," Brooklyn said as he landed, "Bo-dacious move, kids."

"DA-A-A-AD!!!!" the twins chorused in disgust.

Lexington rolled his eyes. "They're your kids all right."

"Of course," Brooklyn said proudly. He heaved the last crook over his shoulder. "Let's go dump this one with the others. The police ought to be here soon."

The others were waiting by the truck, helping to truss up the men captured in the warehouse. Broadway snapped off some nylon straps off a box and tossed them to Lex.

"Any problems?" Elisa asked.

"Nope," Lex answered as he tied the man's wrists together behind his back. "Graeme and Ariana did just fine."

"I'm not surprised," Angela said. "You should have seen Sata!"

The Ishimura gargoyle shrugged, engrossed in cleaning her sword with a square of cloth she had removed from her belt. "These common thieves were much easier to fight than the Tengu warriors."

"But that's a story for another day!" Brooklyn quickly cut in. "Goliath, if you don't mind, I think we should be going." The Manhattan clan exchanged a few puzzled looks but quickly let it pass.

Elisa smiled and put her hand on Goliath's arm. "Yeah, why don't you guys go on without me? The black-and-white units should be here any second and it shouldn't take too long to book them. I'll meet you later when I'm done."

They all heard the approaching police sirens and Goliath nodded. "Very well, Elisa." He smiled warmly at her. "Until later."

"Count on it, big guy." Elisa waved as she watched the clan scale the buildings around her and glide away.

* * * * *

Brooklyn and the others made a few more stops before soaring back to the Eyrie Building, including a trip to the abandoned clock tower. Brooklyn showed Sata and the kids of what was still left; the charred kitchen which had once held Broadway's snacks, where the TV used to be and Hudson's old and burnt chair, and their ancient perches. It seemed like ages ago when they had lived here, right above the police precinct. The clock tower brought back all kinds of emotions. Some were of grief and anguish for losing the tower which held all their memories. But on the other hand, it had also been something of the past: a ruined old place where their memories had lived, thrived, and died. All of the clan had accepted that long ago, even Hudson, who barely ever changed his ways for anyone.

After leaving the ruined clock tower, they soared down over the mall that Brooklyn, Angela, and Broadway had been to the night before. Brooklyn grinned and soared downward. Everyone followed in puzzlement to find the red gargoyle breaking into the pretzel stand. Brooklyn tossed some coins down and took two pretzels out of the stand. He crooked a finger at his children.

"Do you remember what I said we'd do if we ever came to this time?"

Graeme and Ariana said nothing but began to grin in anticipation.

Brooklyn laughed and handed them the treats. "Eat up, kids. These are the best pretzels in the world!" The twins gobbled up the pretzels, making satisfied noises and licking the salt off their fingers.

Sata sighed. "Beloved," she said in mild exasperation, "You will spoil their appetites for dinner!"

He arched an eyebrow ridge at her. "And feeding them raw octopus in Tokyo didn't?" His mate rolled her eyes at him and Brooklyn chuckled as he turned back to the twins. "Well, kids? What do you think?"

"I don't know, Dad..." Ariana started and Graeme finished, "I think we like pizza better."

"Eeeuw," Lexington commented.

"All this talk of food is making me hungry! Come on, everybody! We don't want to be late for dinner!" Broadway said cheerfully. He took Angela's hand and vaulted off a convenient wall, the rest of the clan taking off after them. Brooklyn and Sata were the last to leave. It was a moment frozen in time for Brooklyn.

"You know, Sata, the last time I was here, I was feeling sorry for myself and wishing there was a way to make my dreams come true."

Smiling, Sata eased under his arm. "And did they?"

He rubbed his brow ridges against hers. "You know they did."

* * * * *

"Is everything ready?" David Xanatos asked his aide Owen Burnett impatiently, tapping his foot on the floor.

"Yes, we wouldn't want to have an empty table for our guests when they arrive," Fox said, coming from the nursery where she had put Alex to bed. Her dress was fresh off the catwalk from Milan, her perfume custom-blended to accentuate her own pheromones, and her ensemble's total effect would put the average man into heart palpitations. Fortunately, she was nicely matched by her above-average husband, darkly handsome in a tailored tuxedo.

"Everything is prepared, Mr. Xanatos. I've just finished seeing the last of the kitchen staff out," Owen replied coolly. He had changed from his workday suit to the proper tie and tails of a butler. He glanced up, eyes mildly unfocused. "Your guests are returning, sir."

Goliath and the others landed softly on the parapet nearest the Xanatos private apartments. The French doors were slightly ajar and all the gargoyles smelled the aroma of the banquet waiting for them. Xanatos always went all-out when he entertained, whether his guests were fellow Illuminati, business tycoons or gargoyles, and this occasion was no exception. The dining hall was decked out with the best china, polished silver and candelabras thick with candles.

"Come in," Xanatos called out as he seated Fox, "You're just in time." He sat down at the head of the table, smiling like the cat that ate the canary.

The clan was shocked for a moment, then they all took their places, letting Brooklyn and his family sit near Xanatos. They were, after all, the guests of honor. As Xanatos and Fox chatted with Brooklyn about what had happened, Owen politely and efficiently served everyone. He retreated a respectful distance from the table, the image of the perfect servant, but his sharp ears and eyes took in everything.

"Interesting," Xanatos commented after Brooklyn had finished his story, "I knew the Phoenix Gate had power, but... It's too bad it had to be destroyed--er, I mean--"

"David!" Fox glared down the length of the table.

All the gargoyles looked between their host and hostess with expressions of worry and concern. Although the clan accepted Xanatos's offer of sanctuary, they had never forgotten his betrayal so soon after their awakening in Manhattan.

"I mean...it's a shame that the magic of the Gate was destroyed in the process." Everyone let out a sigh of relief and Xanatos attempted to change the subject. "So, Brooklyn, has Goliath thought of any changes?"

"I'm not sure what you mean," Brooklyn answered in puzzlement.

"Did he say anything about stepping down?" This caused quite a commotion in the dining hall.

"You mean Brooklyn would be the leader?"

"I don't understand!"

"Okay, okay. Everyone settle down," Xanatos reassured. "I just wanted to ask if Brooklyn would still be second-in-command, now that he's been the head of his own clan for such a long time. Just a thought."

Goliath spoke up then, "It depends on what Brooklyn thinks. I'm open to suggestions."

"Well, I don't think so..."

"But you've been a leader for a long time!" Lex put in, his mind working now.

"I don't think so, Lex. Goliath will always be my leader, no matter what." Goliath smiled at his decision.

"I'm glad you're not so eager to take over my position." Goliath's comment broke the ice that had settled uneasily like fine dust over them all. Everyone had a good laugh and no more said about it. Brooklyn gave meaningful look at Goliath that had "thanks" written all over it.

After the exquisite dinner, the Manhattan Clan thanked their gracious hosts and drifted apart to enjoy their own pursuits. Having received a phone call, Goliath went off to rendezvous with Elisa. Broadway and Angela disappeared into the library. Lex and Hudson took the twins and the gargbeasts into the clan's private suite where Graeme promptly found the video games and Lex discovered he had a new challenger. Hudson generously let Ariana have the remote control and spent the rest of the evening watching celebrity hockey and cartoons. Satisfied that their children were occupied, Brooklyn and Sata went off on a private moonlit flight of their own.

* * * * *

Dawn was not far away when Brooklyn and Sata returned to the castle, both smiling blissfully at each other. Brooklyn steered them towards the parapets below the tower, where only a night ago he had been transported into the past. He sighed when he saw the charred cobblestones that marked his passing.

Again he wondered how so little time could pass here while he had lived a lifetime of adventures away from the clan. Brooklyn thought he would never know the answers. He looked down to the courtyard where Graeme and Ariana were horsing around with their pet and Bronx. He smiled thoughtfully. Just then, Sata landed next to him, sensing he wanted company. They stood close together while watching Graeme and Ariana. Sata glanced at the burnt cobblestones; she too knew their significance.

"Do you think it's finally over?" she asked softly. Brooklyn looked into her eyes a moment, shining in the last glimmerings of moonlight..

"I don't know, beloved. For good or for bad, here we are --and the dance goes on." With that sentiment, Brooklyn enfolded Sata in his wings and they embraced.

* * * * *

Owen came out into the courtyard, looking highly agitated, which for him meant a slight pink flush and a tighter expression than usual. He walked up to Graeme with a light-colored swatch of fabric draped over his stone fist and began shaking a finger at the young gargoyle.

Sata pushed away from Brooklyn and scowled. "What does that ~bakamei gajin~ think he is doing?" She dove off the wall, her mate close behind.

"--Furthermore, that beast is not allowed inside the castle until he's housebroken. Do I make myself cle--urk!" Owen froze and very slowly, very carefully moved only his eyes to the owner of the sharp blade at his throat.

"No, it is most certainly NOT clear," Sata said deliberately. "Perhaps you would care to explain it to ME." Her eyes were flinty and hard.

"Sata," Brooklyn said gently, putting a hand on his mate's arm. "I think Owen might be able to explain better if you put the sword down. Hmm?"

The jade green gargoyle lowered her katana but did not sheathe it. Owen cleared his throat. "Thank you, Brooklyn. Please forgive me for being so abrupt in scolding your offspring. You see," he brandished a shredded pair of boxer shorts, "I just went in the laundry room and the whole place is in a shambles. And the culprit left a trail of dirty pawprints," he pointed at the small gargbeast, "leading right here."

"Oh, no!" Ariana said, looking down at the beast. "You didn't?"

The little creature's answer was to cock his head and whine.

Graeme sighed. "What was it I overheard when we were out touring the city?" He stuck his finger in his mouth. "Oh, yeah!" Looking at his pet, he said with an almost perfect Yiddish accent, "Oy! You are such a nudnik!!"

The stub tail of the little gargoyle beast began to wag furiously and he put his forefeet up on Graeme's thighs, wuffing loudly.

"Nudnik?" Graeme asked incredulously. "You like Nudnik?"

The newly-named Nudnik raised his muzzle to the sky and bayed. His tail's rotations had spread to his entire backside.

"That's your name then! Nudnik!" Graeme dropped to his knees to be covered in doggy kisses. "Nuddy-wuddy-woogie-woo!"

Brooklyn and Sata exchanged a glance and shook their heads. The Ishimura gargoyle bowed to Owen. "I apologize, Mr. Burnett, for acting in haste. If you like, Graeme and I will go to your laundry room and clean up what ...Nudnik has caused."

Owen nodded his head in return. "Perhaps another time." He pointed to the purpling sky on the horizon. "I'm afraid it is almost time for your clan to retire for the day."

* * * * *

As dawn approached, all the gargoyles took their places. Goliath took his position at the highest tower and below, Brooklyn helped Sata to her new position as well as the twins, Nudnik sharing Graeme's roost. Broadway and Angela found their positions and Hudson adopted his traditional pose with his huge sword ready to kill. Lex scampered onto his roost, happy to see that the clan was beginning to look "normal" again.

"Well, Broadway, I guess our Trio's down to two, huh?" But his remark fell on deaf ears. When Lex noticed his joke had gone unappreciated, he turned to Broadway only to see him helping Angela to her position. "And then there was one," Lex said sadly as he turned away, a single tear rolling off his cheek.

Brooklyn called up to Goliath just before the sun rose. "Well, Goliath, it looks like I outdid you. On your world tour, you brought a daughter back. I brought a family and a pet to boot."

Goliath's mouth twisted into a grin. He was beginning to see that this was indeed the Brooklyn of last night and every night before. His attitude would never change ...hopefully. There were so many unanswered questions--apparently questions that Brooklyn didn't want to be answered until later. In time, the clan might learn exactly what had happened on his trips. It is better not to force the information out of him, Goliath thought, looking down on the happy Brooklyn and family. The clan would know of Brooklyn's travels through time soon enough.

Before Brooklyn and the rest of the clan turned to stone, he shot a comment to Broadway and Angela. "I'm really proud of the both of you guys!" Broadway and Angela's faces turned toward him and Brooklyn finished, "You raised a great kid!"

The sun rose.

Owen walked out and looked at the different expressions on the clan's faces. Goliath looked thoughtful and peaceful. Brooklyn looked like he was laughing. Broadway and Angela had surprised looks on their faces and Lex looked like he was pouting. Hudson looked indifferent and Bronx and Nudnik were looking at each other in the sunlight. Sata, Graeme, and Ariana appeared content and happy in their new home.

A new age dawned upon the Manhattan clan.


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