story concept by Brian Dumlao

written by Christi Smith Hayden (wdh@computek.net)

All characters are the property of Disney and Buena Vista Television

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 piggys!"

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 magicks, 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 and giggled.

"Yes, that's the ticket!" crowed Puck. "Let's try another, shall we?"

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. "Hatchlings."

"Aw, Angela, admit it," Broadway teased. "You thought it was funny too." He walked closer. "I saw the smile on your face."

"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. "Shall we?"


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 too."

"--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 on Avalon."

"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 look.

"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 gourmet feast."

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 magick 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 brothers.

"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 Great Hall.

"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 at him.

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 soon after."

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 very quickly."

"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 depressing."

"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 apprehensively.

"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 seldom happens."

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 shopping."

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 promised.

"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 guys."

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 together."

Angela put the dress back reluctantly and began unlacing her tunic as she went into the bathroom. "Is there anything I should know about being human?"

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 tie.

"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 spiked it.

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 love this!"

"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."

Lex snickered.

"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 a taxi.

"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 not there?"

"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, I am."

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 at her.

"Good morning, miss. May I help you?"

She leaned against the polished teak desk. "Yes, I'm here to see Ms. Destine."

"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 first."

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 and daughter?"

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 dull."

"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 something else."

"Yeah," Broadway agreed. "Besides, it's getting on towards lunchtime."

"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 went inside.

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 a window.

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 shellshocked 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 week?"

"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 Avalon."

"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 a failure."

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 like."

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 face reflectively.

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, you know."

"You're kidding."

"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 yet."

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 players."

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 manager."

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 you."

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 Unlimited!"

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, Richard Harrison."

"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 aid courses."

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 time."

"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 end."

"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 'e-Liz-inator,' dude."

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 the Beast!"


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 a million.

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 about it.

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," he teased.

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 about?"

"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 Spencer's smoothness.

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 today."

"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 stormclouds 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 mall."

Stormy leaned towards Tim. "And what does that make me, you macker, you?"

"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 and wenches!"

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, pigeonhead?"

"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?" he asked.

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. "Call me."

"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 on him.

"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 us?"

"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 you?"

"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 her."

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 scientist."

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 mind!"

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 crowd.


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 Brooklyn."

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 you?"

"Angela, I'm sorry but I've got to go." He looked at her hopefully. "Call me?"

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 calmness.

"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 you, Broadway?"

"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 me!"

"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 things over."

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 by name."

"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 the castle."

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?"

"Wex gargle!"

"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 forward. "Angela!"

"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 huffily.


Hudson found Brooklyn perched out on the battlements, shreds of his human clothing blowing in the breeze. The young gargoyle's homely visage looked troubled.

"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...."