Previously on Gargoyles....
Sharp talons made short work of the leads on the burglar alarm attached to the sliding glass door on the penthouse balcony. Hidden in shadows, the intruder crept stealthily into the luxuriant apartment, with only the barest whisper of footsteps against the plush carpeting. The open door of the study beckoned.
A polished bronze mirror by the doorway caught the reflection of the blue-skinned, red-headed gargoyle passing before it. Demona ignored it as she ignored all the other valuables in the room. Her prize tonight would not be kept in plain sight, it was far too important to take such a risk. A brief search of the room turned up a wall safe hidden behind a priceless eighteenth century oil painting, "Titania's Awakening" according to the display label, by an artist named Fuseli. It was apparently inspired by Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream", the figures painted in the plump, pale fashion of the Romantic period.
Demona snorted as she swung out the canvas out from the wall. "Bah! Foolish humans know nothing of art! No member of the Third Race ever looked soft and puffy like that!" She did, however, rather approve of the imperious pose of the woman on horseback behind the main characters. Dark images always appealed to her.
From the bag slung across her chest, Demona took a clever device she'd borrowed from her Research and Development department and adapted for her own uses. She attached it to the electronic lock plate of the safe and watched the LED display numbers spin past as the compact random number generator decoded the safe's opening sequence. Demona smiled coolly as her sharp ears heard the tumblers fall into place and the door clicked open.
The sole item in the wall safe was a dark green velvet bag, sealed inside a beveled Lucite box with a small lock. Demona carefully removed it and placed it, bag, box, and all into her carrisack. She started out but a splash of color on the desk caught her eye. The glossy cover of 'Antiquities Today' was promoting the archeological dig that was prompting a clash between Xanatos and some new business competitor in the media. Demona smirked and took the magazine as well. She did so love hearing bad news about her enemies.
She slipped out the sliding door and was across the balcony and airborne in seconds. It was an cloud free night and the moon shone clear and bright overhead. Demona canted into the wind and glided towards Central Park. She had just the place picked out for the second part of her evening's activities.
Tucked away from prying eyes by trees and ornamental shrubberies, the water in the reflecting pool was as smooth as glass, its bubbling fountain shut down for the night. Demona circled in for a landing, checking the area carefully to make sure she would be undisturbed. She removed a rolled up piece of antique vellum from a plastic tube and approached the still water. Slowly, the gargoyle sorceress unrolled the scroll and carefully aligned it between the moon and the water. She took a deep breath and intoned:
"Luce lunae et pulvere stellae id quod sit celatum aperturum"
"By moonlight and stardust, let that which is hidden ... be revealed!"
Demona watched in smug satisfaction as gothic lettering began appearing on the blank surface of the fine vellum. The writing appeared angular and runic -- until one viewed the reflection, the words in plain English floating on the surface of the water. It was true, she could have duplicated the whole thing in one of her laboratories back at Nightstone Unlimited but there were times when she preferred art to science. Magic needed to be mysterious.
"The powder of Queen Mab," Demona read softly, "brings enchantment to the dreams of others. Like these words, the will of the spellcaster is reflected upon the soul of the chosen. Guard well all thoughts and emotions, for under Queen Mab's influence, the dreamer can lose all sense of self, becoming a puppet to the dream."
The blue gargoyle pondered the words as she rolled up the parchment and returned it to her bag. Demona had known of Queen Mab's powder for centuries, a hint here and an old wives tale there. Only recently had the questing runes she regularly cast for signs of magic led her to this small supply of it. A number of possibilities came to mind and she mulled them over as she climbed up a tall tree to glide home.
Demona was hidden in the foliage when she heard the quiet whoosh of a downglide passing by. She moved through the branches to get a better view and was rewarded with a lavender glimpse of Goliath's muscled back as he landed up wind of her. He caped his wings and looked around, his noble profile etched in moonlight, so much like the old days of their youth at Castle Wyvern that Demona felt like weeping. So much time lost, so many yesterdays never to return, no tomorrows to look forward to ... she pursed her lips and took out the magic powder, regarding it thoughtfully.
A car door slammed nearby. "Hey, big guy."
Her head snapped up at the hated voice of the police detective, a swatch of fire engine red hair falling across her eyes. Demona felt a silent snarl curl her lip as she watched Goliath smile and step eagerly in Elisa's direction, holding out his arms to scoop the pathetic human into his embrace.
"Elisa." His deep voice, even softened with love, reverberated in the still night air. "I thought perhaps you would be too busy to meet tonight."
"Mmmmm," the human said as she smiled and rubbed her head against him like a cat. "Not a chance. For you, I'd make time."
"As I would for you." Goliath stroked her hair, watching it cascade through his fingers like strands of black silk. "You and I are one," he said simply, "Beloved."
Demona felt her eyes burn as she watched Goliath hold Elisa as he had once held her, centuries ago when she had been content to be simply his 'angel of the night.' All her years of loneliness came pouring back on her in a bitter, icy rush. She had been aware of the camaraderie between Goliath and Elisa but romance? A gargoyle and a human? The thought of it turned her stomach.
It took a great force of will to curb her first impulse to burst out from hiding and kill Elisa on the spot. That would be too quick, too clean and the detective didn't deserve it. She should suffer as Demona herself had suffered, an unending cycle of heartbreak and betrayal. Elisa should be cursed as Demona had, to live the nightmares of a thousand years....the gargoyle sorceress narrowed her eyes.
In the meanwhile, Goliath and Elisa had finished their lover's chat and the human was watching the big gargoyle scale a nearby wall to glide away. She smiled and ran a hand through her hair, flipping it over her shoulder. Her back was towards Demona as she walked back to her Ford Fairlane. There would never be a better chance.
One high speed pass overhead and a fast disappearing act into the trees and the deed was done. Demona tucked the empty velvet bag back in her carrisack. Her lip curled scornfully as she watched Elisa sneeze once, twice and get in her car without a second glance.
"Unpleasant dreams, Elisa," Demona said softly and cast herself into the night sky.
Elisa was humming as she exited the all night diner. She couldn't help herself. Seeing Goliath, even for a short time, always put her in good mood. Especially lately. The aroma of pastrami wafted out of the bag setting her mouth watering. She snuck a bite of the overstuffed sandwich as she threw the car into gear. She always slept better on a full stomach. The commute home was mercifully short and she yawned as she pulled into the parking garage. The sandwich could wait. All she really wanted was to climb into bed and catch a few z's.
Cagney greeted her warmly, putting his paws on her knees as he sniffed the bag. He recoiled with a yowl.
"You have no taste, cat," she scolded. "Besides, who said anything about sharing?"
She stuck the sandwich in the fridge, washed her face and climbed between cool sheets, drifting off to sleep quickly.
Elisa stepped out of the shadows of the stone archway. As she emerged, slowly and silently, warm afternoon sunlight washed over her body, revealing to the glowing sky and all of creation the thing she held in her hand. She felt it, almost as if for the first time, heavy on her palms. It shone a dull silver, and she let go of the handle with one hand for a moment to run her fingers tantalizingly up the handle to the boxy head. Carefully, almost mesmerized, she traced the blue symbol:
A circle, with the outlined shadow of a hammer, at an angle. Like a Q.
The dark-haired woman drew her hand back, and gripped the handle once again, tightly. Now, her sights raised, to a figure before her, motionless on the battlements. A crouched figure, with wings. If one did not know better, it looked to be a piece of stone statuary, and a finely crafted one at that. The slender curves identified it as a female, and the face, frozen in a fierce roar of anger, looked strangely angelic, despite its expression. Yes, she thought. Angelic. Angela.
With a tight, sudden smile, Elisa hefted the hammer-like weapon she carried into a position above her head. She took a step forward - and let it fall. For a seemingly infinite moment, the hammer swung a downward arc, and, strangely separated from herself, Elisa watched it, fascinated. At last, a dull crack sounded in her ear, and she knew before the image reached her eyes that the hammer had found its mark. Her smile widened as she watched the shattered pieces of the female's upper body crumble, tumbling in a small avalanche down the side of the castle. She watched them until she could see them no longer, imagining the sound they would make against the pavement below. Ashes to ashes, she thought. Stone to stone.
Then, her stillness was broken, and she took up the weapon again. Eagerly, she followed the circular path around the battlement to the next sleeping figure: the small, green one. But no longer green. In the sunlight, just as the others, it was slate gray. Without hesitation, she brought the hammer upon his head. Now, even more quickly, she stepped to the next. And the next, and the next. Each, in its turn, was rendered no more than a pile of gravel. She heard a noise, and found that she was laughing.
At last, she completed the circle, and reached the pile that had been the female. She stood for a moment, gazing at what she had done, feeling... unsatisfied. For a moment, she looked around, a little bewildered. Then, feeling a shadow, turned her face upward.
Yes. The mighty warrior by night, now merely a helpless slab of stone, seemed to gaze down upon her with a contemplative stare, preventing the sun's now dying light from reaching her face.
Almost fervently, she took the steps to the uppermost battlement, two by two. At the top, she stopped, sucking her breath in sharply. The smile returned to her face, and she raised the hammer above her head once again. A shock of pure pleasure ran through her body, and she stepped forward. The hammer fell.
With a terrified gasp, Elisa's eyes snapped open. She lay for a moment, breathing heavily. The sheets were tangled about her body, and soaking wet. Unclenching a fist, she put it to her sweaty forehead. At last, unfeeling and dazed, Elisa got up mechanically and went into the bathroom, turning on the lights. She shied from the brightness for a moment, her eyes unadjusted, then looked into the mirror above the sink. "What is wrong with you?" she asked the image, amazed that it could produce such horrible thoughts. "How could you..." she trailed off, remembering the elation she had felt at bringing the hammer down upon Goliath's head.
And then the reality of it all came flooding in, and she bent over the toilet, her stomach churning. Tears stung her eyes. She retched once, but managed at last to keep her inner workings where they belonged.
Elisa slept no more that day.
She spent the next several hours vacillating between frantic bursts of activity, and bouts of lethargy. By late afternoon the apartment was spit-polished and shining. She had even jogged to the corner market, restocked her first aid kit, and bought Cagney a new squeaky toy when the need for motion had exceeded the available dust motes. But from time to time the vivid imagery of the nightmare flashed before her eyes, causing her to pause and re-live the horror, and the pleasure.
Elisa flopped down on the couch, pulled her hair free of its pony tail holder, and ran a hand across tired eyes. Should she go by the castle to make sure everything was okay? What would she say to Goliath? "Hi sweetie. Just popped by to make sure I hadn't actually reduced you to a pile of rubble?" Jalapeña, now she was getting stupid. She didn't need an excuse to see Goliath or any of the clan. She should just go. If it relieved some of the doubt in her mind, well so much the better.
A quick shower and change of clothes and Elisa was ready to roll. She keyed the alarm sequence, waved to Cagney who ignored her in favor of pursuing his rubber mouse, and left to put her demons to rest.
She lucked out, traffic was uncharacteristically light and she made it to the Eyrie building long before sunset. She parked around the corner and was practically jogging by the time she reached the service entrance. She paced in front of the elevator, willing it to hurry, then jabbed the special sequence of buttons that would take her directly to the gargoyle's wing of the castle. Moments later she burst out into the courtyard, where they roosted, out of view of the public eye. They were all there, except for Hudson and Bronx, who were still at sea. And they were fine. Elisa exhaled the breath she hadn't realize she was holding and sagged against Goliath's chest. So caught up in her relief she didn't notice that the stone skin beneath her cheek was cracking and she was forced to seek hasty cover as her lover awoke.
"Elisa!" Goliath stretched and caped his wings. "I had not expected to see you until later. Is everything all right?"
"Fine." She tried to put some conviction into her voice. "I had some extra time before I went to work. I wanted to spend it with you."
The rest of the clan gathered, said their hellos, and dispersed, leaving their leader and detective alone in the courtyard. Elisa examined each of them carefully, but could see no apparent damage. She shook her head, clearing the afterimagery. It was just a dream.
"Hey, Angela!" Brooklyn called, passing by Broadway as he hurried after the lavender female. "There's a great concert at Madison Square Garden tonight. Wanna go?"
Angela smiled and raised her brow ridges. "Who's playing?"
"I love her music!" She beamed back at Broadway. "We'll have to cut your reading lesson short tonight. I hope you don't mind."
Broadway flicked a sly look at his rookery brother. "No, I don't mind at all. It sounds fun."
Brooklyn growled softly as he watched Angela walk arm-in-arm with Broadway into the castle, laughing and talking to each other. He glowered and followed them in.
Goliath watched Elisa closely. She was being overly cheerful, greeting each of his clanmates in turn, as if she hadn't expected to see them at all. But as they departed to their various pursuits, she seemed relieved to see them go.
"Are you sure that you are all right?" He inquired again gently. "Know that if there is anything wrong, my love, you can come to me."
"I told you I'm fine, Goliath." She turned and buried her head against his chest, warm flesh, instead of cold stone, and listened to the slow steady beat of his heart. "I just wanted to see you. Is that a crime?"
Goliath caped his wing around her shoulders. He reconciled himself to that fact that she would share her troubles with him when she was ready. He tipped her chin up with a delicately placed talon, and smiled gently. "You are the detective. You tell me."
Elisa kissed him instead.
They spent the next little while talking about general things. She updated Goliath on the news coverage of Xanatos's latest adventure and speculated about how Hudson and Bronx were getting along. Elisa was careful to keep the conversation light, bantering to hide her guilty conscience. Soon she found the pretense too difficult to maintain and she took her leave, hoping to bury herself in her work.
She stared at her computer monitor some hours later and repeated to herself, "It was just a dream. Let it go."
Sara looked up from across the desk. "What did you say Elisa?"
"What? Nothing, I was just thinking out loud. Was there anything interesting in the F.B.I. Hotsheet tonight?" She inquired changing the subject.
"Depends. Does two museum break-ins count, where the object of the thefts were alleged magical artifacts?" Sara replied.
"Probably not." Elisa sounded bored, but she made a mental note to check the cases herself later. "Nothing that might pertain to the industrial thefts we've been working on?"
Sara ran a finger down the print out. "Nope. I don't think the feds are going to be much help this time."
"Figures." Elisa replied crossly. "That leaves just one thing to do." She rose from her chair, grabbed her jacket and keys.
"Hit the street?" Sara was gathering her own things.
"Hit the street." Elisa confirmed. The two detectives went to gather information the old fashion way. They bought a box of sandwiches and went to bribe street people. By the end of the shift they were tired, but had several leads.
Elisa dropped Sara at her apartment and headed for home. It was with distinct pleasure that she shed her jacket, locked up her gun and finished the sandwich from the night before. The dread didn't start until she walked into the bedroom and folded back the blankets on her bed. She stared for a moment, startled by the cold feeling that over took her.
Elisa slipped, almost cautiously, beneath the sheets of her bed. For a moment, she considered moving to the couch for the day, but chastised herself silently. Surely, last night's dream could be attributed to some freak cause, perhaps some bad food. There was no reason to be afraid of her bed. That was silly and childish. All the same, she found herself leaning to look under the bed.
She laughed, nervously. "You're being ridiculous," she said in the empty room. Not quite empty. Cagney jumped onto the bed, purring happily. He sat, licked himself, then curled up into a ball on the pillow next to her and went to sleep. As Elisa stroked his soft fur, a small, slightly relaxed smile adorned her face, and she thought of Goliath's last words: "Know that if ever anything is wrong, you can come to me." Perhaps she would, in the evening, she thought as she drifted to sleep.
Dawn, looming on the horizon, brought with it a bank of gray, rain-laden clouds. The wetness was so close that Elisa could feel it in the air. It was a day, she thought, that had she still been a child, would have sent her scurrying home after school to the warm, comforting kitchen of her mother. She looked out over the battlements, and on the streets below, it seemed to her as if all were hurrying a little, bound for whatever place of comfort they knew. Rain was always nicest from the inside.
A strong hand fell on her shoulder, and she turned to face Goliath. "My love," he said, seriously, "Know that if ever anything is wrong, you can come to me."
"Yes," she responded plainly. For a moment, they pressed their bodies together, sharing warmth in the chill evening. Elisa broke the embrace. "You must get to your post."
Goliath seemed to break from a pleasant daze, and attempted to peer through the gray. "Must I?" he asked. "I could not tell." He stepped backward, but did not make it to the edge of the battlement. He froze, his eyes locked with hers, smiling faintly. A moment later, his gray blended with the clouds.
Elisa looked away without effort. "Don't worry," she said aloud to his stone form, quite calmly. "I have nothing to tell you, for nothing is wrong - that I could ever tell you about. Everything is perfect." Quickly, she ducked down the stairway and came up with a Quarryhammer in hand. "Then again," she considered coldly, "Perhaps you should be worried." raised the hammer, but did not bring it down directly on Goliath's head. Instead, she chipped away at the edge of his right wing, which was frozen in an half-extended posture. Once one wing was reduced to a stump, she performed likewise on the other, afterwards stepping behind him to destroy his tail. Little flakes, then bigger chunks of stone made soft music at her feet, raining down on the stone beneath her. As if to chorus, the clouds above boomed once, then released a healthy shower.
Elisa's hair became a shiny black river, but she did not cease. At last, Goliath was left with head, torso, feet, and arms. The woman cocked her head. "You almost look human," she said, then added: "Not as if it would have mattered. Did you honestly think I would be happier if you were a human?" She laughed. "Really."
Now, she began to work in earnest. Soon, Goliath's arms were gone, and his sides were wearing away. When she judged the balance to be right, she gave one final swing, which knocked the gargoyle's head from his body. Expertly, she dropped the hammer and caught his head in the same moment, holding it up before her face. "Well," she said, "This is satisfying." As she said it, she knew it to be true. This was a day she would not long forget, and she savored it. "I've looked forward to this for a long time."
Stepping to the ledge, she looked into his frozen eyes again, eyes that somehow reflected hers, as if the last look she had given him had turned to stone as well. How odd, she thought. Perhaps I'll try this tomorrow night with his daughter.
With that, she sent the head of the mighty warrior flying out into the air, where it tumbled down like some odd bowling ball. "Goodbye!" she called after it. With that, she smiled, picked up the hammer, and took her leave.
Elisa woke to Cagney's insistent wailing. Bending her focus downward, she saw that the animal's tail was firmly locked into her double-handed grasp. She broke her grip and tried to apologize with a friendly pat, but immediately the cat jumped from the bed and ran from the room, terrified.
Her only comfort gone, Elisa cradled her head in her hands. "No," she told herself firmly. "This can't be happening again." In her heart, she felt again the remembered joy at smashing Goliath. It was so real, so tangible. This was no half-awake, foggy, delirious dream of one under pressure. No, this was no fluke.
For a moment, she was still, considering. "Is it possible
that I subconsciously hate the gargoyles? Is this why I don't want to tell
Goliath?" Her voice echoed in the silent apartment True, she forced herself
to admit, many terrible things had happened to her since they had come
into her lives. From the very beginning, in fact; she had fallen off of
the Eyrie building. After that, there was no counting how many times she
had narrowly escaped death. Her brother had been seduced by Xanatos, turned
into a monster. Broadway had shot her. She had been whisked off to Avalon,
and then all over the world, for months. Castaway had kidnapped her, scarred
her for life. She had almost drowned, almost been blown up, almost shot,
almost... the list went on and on. There seemed now to be so many things
that had happened to her, she was beginning to lose track.
But, her reasoning mind countered - Goliath had caught her, and carried her back up to the castle. Derek led a happy life among friends in the labyrinth; Broadway had not meant to shoot her; the Avalon tour had tightened her relationship with both Goliath and his daughter; she had escaped Castaway's brutality; she had not drowned, not been blown up, not been shot to death...
"Then WHY am I having these dreams?" Elisa demanded. The person she played in them was not some irrational, bizarre form of herself; it was, in fact, the person she might have been, had she not become friends with the gargoyles, but instead fallen in with Castaway. And it frightened her.
She could not tell Goliath.
"Back off, pal!"
"Look, all I said was maybe she'd like to do something a little more exciting tonight. Angela's been cooped up in the library with you all week, she deserves a break!"
Lexington looked between his rookery brothers nervously. "Uh....guys? I really don't think...."
"KEEP OUT OF IT!" both Broadway and Brooklyn bellowed.
"Okay," Lex said, eyes narrowing and looking past them. "But I tried to give you guys an easy out here, remember that!" The green gargoyle climbed up the nearest castle wall and glided away.
Brooklyn growled as he turned back to his larger brother. "Until Angela has definitely made a choice, we should all get an equal chance to court her. What's wrong with that?"
"Lots!" Broadway snorted. "Don't you get it? She spends time with me because she wants to and it's driving you nuts because for once, you're not winning."
The red gargoyle's eyes flared. "Well, maybe she'd want to be with me if you'd stop with the 'Oh, Angela...come help me with my reading!' sob story you've been feeding her! I saw you ripping through those detective novels back at the clock tower. You read a lot better than you've been letting on, you big faker!"
"So what?" They were nose to beak now, glowering at each other. "I'll take any edge I can get. Besides it's Angela's choice who she wants for a mate. You think just because you're Goliath's second-in-command that you've got first dibs on her!"
A low growl curled Brooklyn's beak and was met by a deep rumble from Broadway's barrel-shaped chest. Tails slashing, eyes burning, the two young males began circling each other. Muscles tensed for the first strike...
"STOP!!" A lavender hand slapped against both of their chests and pushed the combatants apart. "Stop this right now!"
Broadway looked at Angela contritely. "Uh, Angela, um...it's not what--"
The lavender female glared at him with flashing scarlet eyes and the big blue gargoyle backed up. Angela flipped her wings around her shoulders and crossed her arms. "Well?" she said, tapping her taloned foot against the flagstones. "I'm waiting. Do either one of you have a GOOD reason for acting like hatchlings?"
Brooklyn cleared his throat. "Well, Angela--"
"You listen to me, Mr. Adventure!" Angela bit out, leaning into his face. "Just because Father is training you to be leader one day, that doesn't mean I'm part of the deal. It's up to me who I spend my time with!"
"You tell him! Erg!" The rest of Broadway's retort was silenced by a single finger pinning his lips shut.
"And you!" Angela fixed him with a flinty gaze. "Is this true? You've been LYING to me all this time, PRETENDING you can't read?"
Broadway shuffled his feet, tail between his legs. "Um...yes, Angela. I'm really sorry."
"Me, too." Brooklyn tried to meet her eyes but Angela wouldn't look at either one of them. "Can't you understand where we're coming from here?"
"All I understand is that two so-called warriors and rookery brothers are squabbling like a couple of children," Angela said in a huff. She stalked to the castle's edge and jumped up on the wall. "Right now, I'm so angry with both of you, I can hardly think. I'm going to get some air and calm down." She leaped off and headed south towards Greenwich Village.
"Hoo boy." Brooklyn shook his head.
"Yeah, we're in the dog house now," Broadway agreed.
"In that case, it's a good thing Bronx doesn't have one," Brooklyn said lightly, "Because you'd never fit in it."
Broadway narrowed his eyes and started to walk away but not before flipping his rookery brother off his feet with one massive swipe of his tail.
She wasn't due at the Precinct for several hours, but Elisa clocked in early. She felt guilty and defensive as she moved her marker to the "on duty" slot on the call board. She was supposed to meet Goliath for dinner in less than an hour. But paperwork was piling up, she argued with herself. She couldn't leave it all to Sara. She picked up the phone, meaning to cancel the date, but, like the other five times, she hung up before she finished dialing. She couldn't bear to hear his voice. If she did, she'd want to see him, to hold him, and how could she allow him to hold her when she was betraying him in her heart?
She buried herself in case files and barely nodded at Sara when she came in whistling some off-the-wall tune. Sara took one look at Elisa's grim expression and decided it wasn't worth blowing her own good mood to find out what was bugging her partner. She let it pass. They worked steadily all evening, clearing out a back log of paperwork. At two, Elisa rose from her desk and announced that she was calling it a night.
She left her car at the Precinct and took the subway instead, riding a short distance before detraining at station several miles away. Fortunately the platform was deserted and she didn't have to loiter, as she had on several other occasions, before jumping down to the tracks and disappearing into a maintenance tunnel cut into the side of the concrete wall.
She walked in darkness, following a well tread path until she was sure that no one could see the beam from her small flashlight. She flipped in on in time to see a large rat scurry passed her feet. She muffled a scream and picked up her pace. A few moments later dim light began to filter from the other end of the tunnel, She pulled away a heavy tarp and found herself in her brother's home. CyberBiotics' secret research facility was undergoing a facelift. Gone were the holding cages. In their place was a shelter for those who were unable to ask for society's assistance, like Derek. She crossed to the main living quarters and found Talon bent over a set of blueprints. He looked uncommonly satisfied.
"Hey Furball!" Elisa greeted from the door way.
The man-panther looked up in surprise. "Sis! What a surprise!" He rose to his feet. "Can I get you anything?"
Elisa shook her head. "Just company."
He shrugged. "You don't look so hot. Are you getting enough sleep?"
"I'm fine." She jumped a bit as Burbank shambled into the common room.
He smiled at her and she barely repressed a shudder. "Can you help me with this word?"
"Will you." Talon corrected automatically.
Burbank placed a copy of "The Ugly Duckling" in front of her. He pointed his talon. "This one."
Elisa looked at the page. "Sound it out: sss wu an, swan."
"What's a sswan? Burbank asked, still tripping slightly over the unfamiliar word.
"It's a beautiful bird with big wings and a bad temper." Elisa answered politely. She fidgeted. Being in the clone's presence was reminding her of Hudson, who she had talked into this literacy campaign. Thoughts of Hudson naturally lead to the rest of the clan, and the satisfaction that she gained as she swung the Quarryhammer high over her head. "I've got to go." She leaped to her feet and quit the labyrinth as quickly as she could.
Talon watched his sister's discomfort level increase higher and higher, as Burbank waited patiently for Elisa to help him. She hadn't been bothered by the clones before, except for Delilah, and considering the lone female clone's "parentage" he couldn't hold that against her. She had even made a deliberate effort to help them adjust, bringing small gifts from time to time. He wished he could understand his big sister. But after twenty odd years, he considered it unlikely. He helped Burbank with another word and then went back to his blueprints.
Angela was waiting for her when she got home. The young gargoyle was pacing her balcony oblivious to everything but her own thoughts.
"Angela, what are you doing here?" Elisa demanded.
"Did you not say I could come to you anytime?"
"Well...yes. It's just been kind of a long evening and I was going to call it a night." She ignored the evident distress on the girl's lovely features. Can't this wait until later?" Elisa wedged herself between the French doors barring Angela's entrance to the apartment.
"But Elisa!" Angela protested. "It will only take a moment of your time..."
"Not tonight Angie. If it doesn't kill you, it will make you stronger. Good night." She shoved the door closed and threw the bolt home. After a moment she drew the blinds as well.
A tear ran down Angela's cheek. "I only wanted to talk," She said to the door. She flared her wings and caught an updraft back to the castle.
Elisa leaned against the door in relief. She'd apologize to Angela later. She had been deliberately cruel and she felt badly. But if being in the same room as Burbank had been bad, then being next to Angela, on whom she'd actually committed the dream violence, had been infinitely worse. She held her head in her hands. It was time to call it a night. Maybe tomorrow she'd feel better. She prayed fervently she was right.
They ran, eagerly, up the circular flight of stone stairs; together. Excitedly, she pulled on his arm as she went, urging him to quicken his step. Teasing her for a moment, he stopped, serious. In front of him, she halted in alarm. Her long raven hair flew for a moment with momentum before coming to rest. She cocked her head, questioningly, and hefted the hammer in her hand, as if to remind him of their purpose. Then, his mustached face broke into a wide grin, and he laughed wonderfully.
She smiled as well, but urged him on. He swung his own hammer over his shoulder and bounded after her. At her excitement, she almost passed the first landing, so eager was she to get to the top. He stopped her with a word. "Elisa," he beckoned in his accented voice. She turned. "Here," he motioned, gesturing a hand towards the stone arch. His eyes flicked upward.
"We'll save him for last."
Elisa giggled and followed him to the second-highest battlement. "You first, Jon," she said politely, although she could barely contain her excitement. She willed him to take the first blow quickly, so that she could join in immediately.
He shook his blonde head. "You first, my lady."
The woman bubbled over with pride. "I'm honored," she told him genuinely. That he would let her go first! Without hesitation, she swung, knocking the head off of the old one. "Now you, Jon!" she urged, stepping back to watch.
The man stopped, in mock uncertainty. "You're sure," he said. "They were your friends..."
Elisa threw her head back and guffawed. "C'mon, Jon, or I'll take your turn for you."
He smiled crookedly. "If you insist."
Within minutes, the gargoyles were no more. Except-
"Now," announced the man. "The finale. All yours." He pointed upwards, to the leader of the clan, resting above them.
In three bounds, Elisa was up the stairs. Below, Jon waited for her to finish. She glanced over her shoulder to see the sun just dipping below the horizon. "Perfect," she said with anticipation. In spite of her urge to get it over with at that very moment, she forced herself to hide the weapon behind her back. A crack that was not a hammer sounded, and a moment later, a great roar echoed in the new night. The lavender gargoyle stretched contentedly, his back to her, then froze suddenly, as his eye caught the battlements below. Seeing the unpopulated roosts, seeded with an unnatural amount of stone shards, his face froze in horror. "No," he whispered, turning.
Elisa wiped the smile from her face. "Oh, Goliath," she whispered, filling her voice with false tears. "I'm sorry..."
The gargoyle stepped towards her, his intent to envelope her in an embrace. Instead, Elisa paced backwards, bringing the silver hammer out from behind her back. Slowly, she cocked it, and raised it over her head.
So caught by surprise was he that Goliath made no move to defend himself. The weapon slammed down upon his chest, electrifying his body with a numbing blue light. He fell to his knees, looking up at Elisa in anguish. "My love..." he said.
For the last time, the detective looked into the gargoyle's eyes. In them was only a sadness; no anger, no malice, no thirst for revenge. His heart had been broken, and he had no wish to live. A fool, she thought. To think I loved him- at the idea, she laughed aloud, throwing her head back. Once again, she raised the hammer and let it fall.
Goliath lay at her feet, still.
A hand fell on her shoulder, and she turned to face Jon. "Well done," he commended her, leaning forward. Elisa's heart pounded in her chest, and her stomach filled with butterflies as she leaned into Jon Castaway's embrace. And they kissed...
When Elisa awakened, she could still feel her stomach doing joyful flip-flops. When, suddenly, her sleep-fogged mind cleared and she realized the reason why, the joy turned horribly sour, sickening her. She ran for the bathroom, and, this time, did not manage to hold her food down.
Later, after taking a cold shower, Elisa sat on her bed. Immediately, tears began to flow, and even Cagney's innocent purrs could not comfort her.
What was wrong with her? Shaking, she ran her hands through her hair, catching it at the end and pulling. The pain registered only dully in her mind. It must be true. Somehow, in the back of her mind, she somehow hated the gargoyles. And... Goliath...?
Violently, she shook her head. "No," she cried aloud to the empty room. "Nooo..." her voice trailed away brokenly.
The phone rang, and she jumped. Hurriedly, she wiped away tears and cleared her throat, attempting to gain control of herself. Two rings later, she lifted the receiver. "Hello?" she said, hesitantly. She winced; her voice still wavered.
The other end of the line remained silent. "Hello?" she said again, more confidently.
"Elisa?" slowly questioned a slightly suspicious voice. A very familiar voice.
The woman glanced quickly towards the window to see that it was already dark; she hadn't noticed. Her hand began to shake. "Goliath?" she questioned in return. He had never called her before, she puzzled, slightly panicked. To her knowledge, he had never even used a phone.
Elisa closed her eyes. Did he know? He had to; why else would he call? No- she stopped herself. She was imagining things; the thought was ridiculous. Goliath was not a mind-reader. Pull yourself together, Maza! she ordered herself silently.
On the other end of the line, the gargoyle made a slightly relieved sound. Had Elisa been in a better mood, she would have realized that he was unsure about using the strange device he now held in his hand. At the moment, he was trying to compare it with the small communication devices they used when patrolling. But, his mind kept objecting, he could not see Elisa in her car, below him. "Ah, Elisa," he rumbled again. He glanced at Lexington, who motioned persuasively for him to continue. Goliath frowned, but did so. The small green gargoyle had assured him that humans used the telephone all the time, and that Elisa would be delighted. He had decided to try it; perhaps it would distract her from whatever seemed to weighing on her mind. "I was... wondering... if you might join me for a meal tonight."
The detective's eyes widened, and she was forced to consciously stop herself from sucking in her breath. She couldn't see Goliath. Not now. Not after... She pushed the thoughts of the dream from her mind before they could overwhelm her. Still, the vision of Goliath's still form swam before her eyes. "Uh - well, uh," she stuttered frantically, her mind racing for some excuse. "I - I can't, not tonight. I've got a pile of paperwork at the precinct, I just don't have time. And I promised Sara I'd help her with a few things-" She realized she was babbling, and stopped.
Goliath answered with a low rumble-sigh. "This is your night off."
Elisa bit her lip. "Oh, yeah, I know, but Chavez called me in for something special, and - well, it couldn't really be avoided. Call of duty, you know."
"Very well. ...Another time, then?"
"Uh, yeah, sure. Well, 'bye."
Elisa hung up quickly. "What have you done?" She asked herself harshly. She couldn't believe what she had done - plainly, outright, lied to Goliath. But what else was there for her to do? She couldn't exactly tell Goliath about her dreams, could she?
Elisa attempted to reason with herself, but the feeling of guilt persisted. At last, she could bear it no longer, and threw herself across her bed, weeping bitterly.
Back at Castle Wyvern, Goliath handed the receiver to Lexington, who put it back on its cradle. "Something is wrong with Elisa," Goliath announced, with no room for doubt.
It took an hour, but finally Elisa cried herself out. As she examined herself in the bathroom mirror, she realized she was acting like a fool. Why should she avoid Goliath over a couple of stupid dreams? She strode resolutely to her telephone and dialed the Eyrie building. When the operator came on line she asked for extension 66 and waited impatiently.
On the other end of the wire, the phone in the gargoyle's common room rang for the first time. Broadway jumped, nearly spilling the snack plate he was taking into the T.V. room. He juggled the tray and picked up the receiver.
"Broadway, it's Elisa. Can you put Goliath on?" She forced herself to sound casual, but her heart was racing and her mouth was dry.
"Just a minute." The big blue gargoyle set the snacks down and cupped a hand over the mouthpiece. "Goliath, phone's for you." He yelled.
Goliath was at his side in a moment.
"It's Elisa." He announced around a mouthful of sandwich. He picked up the tray and left Goliath to his call.
"Elisa, I..." He began before she cut him off.
"Look, Goliath, I'm sorry about earlier. You caught me at a bad time. Of course I want to see you." Her words tumbled out in a rush. If she saw him again, then everything would be all right, she told herself firmly. "Meet me at the park in half an hour. The usual spot."
"Of course, beloved. Are you sure?" He was speaking to empty air. He stared at the phone confused, as he replaced the receiver on the cradle.
Elisa picked up her hair brush and quickly ran it through her ebony mane. She eyed herself critically in the mirror and with a snarl of disgust pulled the black tee shirt over her head and stared at the meager selection of clothes she kept in her closet. Selecting first, a blue chambray shirt, and then, a muted green sweater, she held the garments before her, vacillating between the two selections.
She finally discarded them both and yanked a long-sleeved peach Henley off its hanger and tugged it over her head. She looked at her watch. Jalapeña! She was supposed to be at the park ten minutes ago. Her resolve crumbled. Goliath wouldn't wait for her if she was late. It wouldn't be safe. She should have never called him. It was best if she kept her distance anyway. She pulled the Henley off, picked up her bathrobe from the back of the chair and tugged it on as she walked out of the bedroom to shut off the lights and draw the blinds in the rest of the apartment.
It wasn't long afterward that she heard the distinctive tap of talons on her balcony window. She bowed her head in shame and buried her face in her pillow, so that Goliath couldn't hear her sobs.
Puzzled, Goliath tapped once more before departing, wondering what had become of Elisa.
When he returned to the castle he picked up the telephone and dialed Elisa's apartment, this time without Lexington's assistance.
"I'm either asleep or working. Leave a message after the tone. *BEEP*"
Goliath stared at the receiver, then did as he was instructed. "Elisa, I must have misunderstood the place of our meeting. I am sorry. I would like to still see you." The phone cut off before he could say more. He hung up the receiver and went to the library to brood.
Elisa sat up suddenly all thoughts of sleep gone. She had the dream again. She held her arms to her chest, hugging herself to warm a chill that was generated from within as she recalled vividly standing above Goliath's shattered remains, the comforting weight of the Quarryhammer cradled in her hands.
She staggered out of bed, alarming Cagney. She barely missed stepping on the cat as he curled solicitously around her legs mewing his concern. She pulled her nightshirt over her head and stepped under a cold shower hoping that the shock would banish the dream images back to the nether regions where they surely must have come. Elisa emerged from the shower ten minutes later clean but not much more awake than she had been when she entered. She dressed quickly, ignoring the blinking light on the answering machine, knowing that it had to be Goliath. She had stood him up the previous night, and the one before it, so consumed by the guilty satisfaction she derived from the dream that she couldn't bear to see him in person. Rather than stay in the apartment a moment longer, she gave Cagney a hasty pat on the head and fled for the safety of the Fairlane.
She found herself driving by rote until she was in front of Magee's. Elisa cursed herself as a fool the moment Dolly greeted her and several blue uniformed persons turned and added their salutations. Why had she come here to be surrounded by her friends and co-workers when all she really wanted was to be alone? Escape was impossible. Sara Jasper was waving her over to her table. Lacking a decent excuse, Elisa joined her.
Dolly brought coffee without asking, trained by years of waiting on cops. Elisa smiled gratefully and started dumping sugar in to the mug. Sara watched silently.
"What are you doing?" Elisa finally noticed the young woman's steady gaze and looked at her irritated.
Elisa had been getting crankier and crankier for the last several nights and Sara was determined to find out what was bugging her partner. She leaned back in the booth and picked up a spoon. She pointed it at Elisa. "Before me sits a woman. A woman who for the last week has come in to work looking progressively worse each night. Now everybody has a bad night now and again. Especially when they've had major life changes that upset the chaos that we all call normal. But you. Now this is different. I'd say it was that mysterious boyfriend of yours. He's giving you a hard time about something again and he won't let go. That's it isn't it? You're sleeping lousy. You've been getting strange messages at the precinct." She looked at the tray that Dolly began to unload in front of Elisa. A chocolate sundae was competing with scrambled eggs and sausage for attention. "Your food choices are more bizarre than normal."
Sara was a strict believer in the food pyramid and gave gentle lectures to Elisa whenever possible. "Q.E.D., it must be more guy problems. Is he still pressuring you to intensify your relationship?"
"No that isn't it at all!" Elisa protested violently. She upset the sundae barely catching it time to prevent her scrambled eggs from becoming a la mode. "We're getting along fine. Just fine." She began to dive into her meal, sprinkling everything in sight with Tabasco. "Now can we please drop it?"
"Sure. Whatever you say. But if you ever want to talk, really talk, you know where I am."
Elisa was stunned by the generosity of the offer. "Thanks. I mean that. But I'm fine."
They finished there meals in silence, paid the check, and hit the street to follow up the leads they had developed over the last several nights.
Later that evening at the station. Sara compiled reports as Elisa briefed the Watch Commander. She was so deep in her case analysis that she didn't notice Matt Bluestone sneak up behind her.
"Boo!" He waved his hand in front of her face. Sara jumped, startled.
"Bluestone, that was a stupid thing to do to a woman that carries a loaded gun!"
"Sorry," He grinned contritely. "I couldn't resist. You looked like you could use a laugh."
Sara shoved the paperwork into a folder and stuffed it all into a desk drawer. She rose and headed toward the hallway, indicating that Matt should follow. In Captain Chavez's office, Elisa continued to debrief the Watch Commander.
The pair walked in silence for several minutes until they came to an empty interrogation room. Sara keyed the combination on the door and stepped inside.
"Sara, what's this about? If it's about the other night..." Matt trailed off.
Sara ignored him, walking silently until she had organized her thoughts. "It's Elisa. I'm worried about her. She claims everything is all right but she looks terrible and she nearly crashed her car tonight when she nodded off behind the wheel. I know we haven't worked together very long but it doesn't seem like her."
Matt frowned as Sara continued to detail Elisa's strange behavior. It could have been a post-stress reaction from the kidnapping, but something made him think otherwise. Sara was looking at him expectantly. "Thanks for clueing me in, Sara. I'll talk to Elisa's boyfriend. See if he's got any idea what's bugging her."
Sara looked like she had more questions and Matt had run out of answers. He rose to leave. "I've got a late meeting. But if you're around at the shift change, I'd love to meet you for coffee. "
She smiled in return. "Thanks. That would be great." Matt smiled and there was a bounce to his step as he headed down the hallway. Sara watched him depart then returned to her desk and paperwork to find Elisa punching keys on her computer, growing more frustrated with each failed data search.
He dropped the bounce as soon as he rounded the corner and was out of Sara's line of sight. If Elisa was acting strangely, again, then he needed to tell the clan. Cops who didn't keep their minds on their jobs had a lousy habit of ending up dead and Elisa was the closest thing to family that he had. He didn't want to see anything happen to his friend and partner. He left the precinct from a side exit and caught a cab uptown.
He rode in silence until he was a block from the Eyrie Building. Then he paid the driver off and hoofed the rest of the way to Xanatos's castle in the clouds.
The clan was startled but glad to see him all the same.
"Matt," Goliath rumbled as soon as Owen had withdrawn, "What brings you to our home?"
Bluestone couldn't see any point in beating around the bush, and he really did have a meeting to get back to. "It's Elisa. Have you seen her recently? How has she seemed to you?"
Goliath frowned and Lexington and Angela discreetly withdrew from the room. "Several days ago, when we met in the park, she seemed fine. As though everything was as it should be. The next night she was troubled." Goliath began to pace. He was light footed despite his bulk. "Angela tried to talk to her a few nights later about some difficulties she was having. She said she needed a feminine perspective. Elisa has always helped her in the past. This time Angela said that she was nervous, and abrupt. My daughter returned more upset than when she left."
Goliath looked upset himself. "I used the telephone and left messages on her answering machine because she did not keep our meetings. She has not called, has not visited. I fear that something is dreadfully wrong."
"I think you're right. The question is what?"
Matt departed the castle picking up a cab directly in front of the Eyrie building. He waved his badge at the driver and made it back to the precinct a bare five minutes before his Task Force meeting. He nearly ran Elisa down as he barreled up the steps.
"Hey, buddy, watch it!" Elisa paused as she recognized her would be assailant. "Matt! Where have you been? The Commissioner has been looking for you."
"Working." He caught a look at his sometimes partner and was shocked. She looked haggard. Far more than she had after the business with Castaway and Dracon. He grabbed her hand and whistled at the same time. His cab, which was just getting ready to pull away from the curb, halted. He opened the door and shoved Elisa inside. He tossed some bills at the driver and rattled off her address. "Don't stop until you get there." He ordered. "I'll drop your car off later." He assured Elisa as he slapped the fender. The driver peeled away from the curb.
Elisa sank back into the overstuffed cushion and crossed her arms in disgust. Her friends were conspiring to help her again. How could she let them when she continued to dream each night about slaying those who were so close to her?
Goliath growled in frustration. He turned the events of the past week over in his mind and could find no explanation for Elisa's odd behavior. She had experienced many rough nights directly after the kidnapping. But once she had moved into the new apartment they had begun to deal with the fears and the feeling of violation that the experience had evoked. She was coming to terms with the experience and it no longer troubled her as mightily as it once had. It seemed like sorcery.
It was an irrational thought. Who beyond Demona wished his love ill?
He pondered. Demona was hardly a suspect. As far as the clan knew, she hadn't been seen since that fateful night when Jon Canmore had gone screaming from the church and she followed in his wake. But still... He came to a decision and with great deliberation strode down the corridor until he was standing in front of the office of Owen Burnett.
He knocked hesitantly, feeling something of the fool as he unburdened himself to the major domo. Owen listened quietly, loosening his tie and leaning back in his chair as Goliath reported the strange behavior of his love.
Owen removed his glasses and removed an imaginary speck of dust from the lens. He examined them closely before placing them carefully back on.
"I believe you may be correct, Goliath. Detective Maza's conduct seems most aberrant and there is no normal explanation for the shift in her behavior. You are quite certain that she has experienced no blow to the head or has not ingested any foreign substance that might alter her mood?
Goliath shook his head.
"I regret that I cannot assist you further. As Owen, I could enlist doctors or psychiatrists to evaluate her behavior, but Puck may not assist as long as Master Alexander is away and out of my care. I am truly sorry."
"Such a stickler for rules. You know, cuz, you haven't been nearly as much fun since you took this gig."
Goliath whirled and Owen looked up startled to see that they were no longer alone. A young man dressed in a fringed leather jacket and jeans lolled against the door frame."
"Coyote!" The pair chorused.
"Accept no imitations or tin plated substitutes!" He glowered at Owen who shrugged, accepting the barb for his master.
"Why have you come here? Shouldn't you be on Avalon with the other fay?"
"I'm running a little errand for the King and Queen. It seems your ex got a hold of some magic powder. Very powerful stuff. She decided to use it on your new lady." Goliath's wings flared involuntarily and his eyes glowed white. Coyote ignored him, materialized a chair out of the air and slouched into it. "Since Elisa is practically a member of my family..." Owen's eyebrows shot up and he looked alarmed. "Relax, cuz, the whole Maza family is special to me, has been for generations. Anyway Titania sent me to straighten things out. But there's a problem."
"The non-interference directive." Owen supplied.
"You got it. I can't fix things outright. But I can kind of coach Elisa and she can break the spell." He pulled a comb out of his pocket and began to groom his hair. He materialized a mirror and once he was satisfied he flicked the implements in to the air. They disappeared with a pop. "Come on in. The more the merrier!" Coyote invited.
Angela appeared from behind the massive door frame. "I'm not disturbing, am I? Coyote! Why have you come?"
"Sorry, babe, you missed the exposition. We're getting ready to move this party. Want to join us?"
She nodded, uncertain of what was happening. Her father seemed relieved, rather than alarmed, so she stepped further in to the room.
Coyote motioned for the two gargoyles to join him, flashed a peace symbol at Owen, and the trio disappeared.
Elisa stood at the kitchen counter and prepared another pot of coffee. As she shoveled grounds into the basket her eye lids drooped and she shook herself awake. She couldn't bear the thought of sleep and another one of those soul shattering dreams. Cagney meowed at her elbow. She looked down at the cat, startled to find him disobeying the 'no counter rule' and as she moved to shoo him away, she realized that she had filled the basket to overflowing and coffee grounds were starting to pile up on the counter.
"Nice going Maza." She grumbled to herself as she dumped the coffee back into the can and swept the remaining coarse brown powder into the sink. She moved to the stove, stared at the control panel for a moment as her vision blurred and finally twisted a dial, lighting the burner under the tea kettle, remembering at the last moment to check and see if it contained any water.
The kettle had a satisfying heft to it, 'Not unlike a Quarryhammer' her mind whispered viciously, and she nearly dropped the kettle as she recoiled from the horrific thought. She squeezed her eyes shut tightly, willing the dream fragments that hovered on the edges of her consciousness, to go away.
Instead, fatigue overtook her, the imagery intensified, and Elisa collapsed to the kitchen floor entangled in another nightmare.
Coyote, Angela and Goliath materialized on the balcony of Elisa's penthouse apartment. The gargoyles quickly made their way to a pair of French doors. Goliath tapped lightly on the glass while Angela paced nervously behind him.
"Strange," Goliath rumbled. "The lights are on but Elisa does not answer."
"The key, Father." Angela prompted. She retrieved a house key from behind a chink in the brickwork. It had been gimmicked to make it easier for someone with over-sized hands to use. Goliath took it wordlessly and unlocked the door.
"Elisa?" He called gently. Angela and Coyote followed him into the living room. There was no sign of the detective. The tea kettle began to whistle. In response a voice cried out in the kitchen.
"Don't think screaming is going to help you monster. I took your father out a little at a time. You know he looks pretty good without that stupid tail."
Angela staggered a little in shock. The voice was Elisa's but she sounded so different, so heartless.
Goliath bounded for the kitchen. Elisa was collapsed in a heap on the floor. She was asleep, but dreaming vividly. She held her hands in front of her, one on top of the other, as if she held a heavy, handled object. The big lavender gargoyle swallowed, as he comprehended the meaning of her pose, but knelt gently at his love's side and gathered her to him. She struggled briefly and then her eyes flew open.
Pleasure and terror warred over her features as her rational mind reasserted itself. Gradually, she realized that Goliath was holding her and she recoiled out of his arms, cowering against the cabinetry.
"Get away from me, Goliath!" She raised her hands to ward off his embrace.
"Elisa! It was a dream. Nothing more." He attempted to soothe, keeping his voice low and gentle.
"Oh no, Goliath. It was much more than that." She hung her head, ashamed as bits of her nightmare played before her eyes. "It was real."
"Man, Demona must really have it in for you." Coyote spoke at last.
Angela's eyes widened and she shot a horrified gaze out Elisa's window.
"Coyote!" Elisa's eyes went wide as she acknowledge the fay guardian.
"Why does everybody seem so surprised to see me?" The fay wondered as he moved into view. He offered Elisa a hand up and she took it reluctantly.
"What did you say about Demona?" Elisa pushed her hair out of her face and tried to wipe away some of the grit from her eyes. She allowed Coyote to steer her toward the couch. She reluctantly accepted a blanket from Goliath, cringing as he tucked it around her shoulders. She realized she was trembling as she accepted a cup of tea from Angela, but she could not look the young gargoyle in the eye as she mumbled her thanks.
Goliath was torn. He longed to hold Elisa in a protective embrace but the very sight of him seemed to unnerve her. He moved to Angela's side instead and placed a hand lightly on her shoulder. She turned and buried her face in his wing. His gentle daughter wept in silent agony over her mother's latest misdeed.
Coyote made himself comfortable before replying. "She really did a number on you, didn't she? Cast a spell, turned your dreams into nightmares. Nightmares so real that you couldn't stand to be around those that you love, 'cause you were sure that could see what you'd been dreaming. The guilt was driving you crazy. Wasn't it?"
Elisa blanched. "How did you know?" She whispered. "The dreams. They felt so good. But I was doing unspeakable things, horrible things to the clan. I murdered them, over and over again, and I loved every minute of it." She looked up at Goliath and Angela, their faces were taut, trying to hide the horror they felt at her revelation. "I couldn't stand to face them." She looked up at Goliath. "I couldn't let you love me, knowing that part of me wanted you destroyed."
"You can stop the dreams Elisa."
"I can?" She was bewildered. "But I thought you just said I was under a spell."
"Poor choice of words. An enchantment, really. But now that you know it exists you can fight it, cast it off."
"Nah, with a little help from your friends." Coyote gestured for the gargoyles to join him. He levitated the coffee table out of the way to make room. Goliath knelt at Elisa's feet, while Angela sat on the couch opposite of Coyote. "First things first. You're awake right now. In this realm do you know and trust those in this room?"
Elisa's eyes narrowed as she glanced at Coyote. He had never meant her harm and he seemed to have a genuine love for her family. "Yes." She acknowledged.
"Good." He turned to Goliath. "I can't act directly in this and unfortunately neither can you. Any coaching has to be from the sidelines. So tell Elisa how you really feel about her." He paused for a moment. "But try not to get too mushy."
Goliath blushed purple despite himself. "I have trusted you from the moment we met. You were my first friend in this new life. You have grown to become much more." He said simply. "If I could fight this battle for you I would gladly be your champion. If our positions were reversed. I know that you would be mine. Use that knowledge to fortify yourself. Fight the dream Elisa. Come back to me."
"You can do this." Angela added.
Coyote got up and motioned for Angela to do the same. Elisa looked puzzled. He waved his hand over her. "Sleep." Commanded Coyote.
As Elisa's eyelids descended and her chin drooped, Goliath assisted her into a more comfortable position. He tucked a pillow under her head and covered her gently with the blanket. "Now what do we do?" He asked the fay trickster.
"We watch." He replied. "And we wait."
Elisa spun around to see Jon Castaway pull a Quarryhammer from a duffel bag and hand it to her. She took it.
"We haven't time," he told her efficiently, glancing at the setting sun. His short, light hair whipped furiously in the howling wind. "We'll go for the big one before the others - he's our first priority."
The woman eyed him. She anticipated crushing the gargoyles, yes - it was the right thing to do. It was what she ~wanted~ to do. But there was something else, something nagging at the back of her mind. She followed him through a stone archway and up the stairwell.
Even as they reached the topmost level, Castaway looked worried, and Elisa knew why: there was no time to dawdle, no time to slowly take apart each stone figure. If they only managed to destroy the big one before the sun set, they would have to hurry to escape the wrath of the others. "Come on," he urged.
"Yes," answered Elisa mechanically, watching but not truly seeing as the man raised the hammer over his head. For a moment, he glanced at Elisa, seeming to weigh whether or not there was time to urge her to do the same. The balances shifted, and he turned back, letting the hammer fall.
"NO!" screamed Elisa, without knowing what she was doing. She lunged. The hammer fell- she was too late. Her taut features sagged in defeat, and she sank limply to the ground.
"What on earth do you think you're doing?" she heard Castaway's irritated tones in her ear. "Give that to me. We haven't the time for second thoughts."
Elisa didn't need to look up to see his angry face. "Yes," she whispered to herself bleakly, the joy suddenly, inexplicably gone. "It's too late now. Goliath is no more. He lies in rubble. I've crossed the line. What can I do but finish it?" She sighed, knowing that now she would go down the stairs and crush Hudson, Lexington, Broadway, Bronx, Brooklyn, and Angela; not that it mattered.
"Well? Give it to me!"
Shaking herself from her daze, Elisa brought her attention back to the present. "What?" she queried, confused. She squinted up at Castaway's face, what little that was left of the sun blinding her.
"Give me the hammer! Hurry!"
Elisa looked down. In her hand was a Quarryhammer. She turned around. On the ground was the one Castaway had first handed her, where she had dropped it. Slowly, on her knees, Elisa edged around Jon's stiffened form. Like a waning eclipse, the frozen, gray, whole form of Goliath slid into view.
Again, she looked in wonder at the hammer in her hand, and suddenly, it dawned on her. She hadn't been too late! Goliath was not destroyed. She breathed a sigh of relief, not knowing why. A moment ago, she had been bent on destroying the whole clan. Why, then, had she just saved the leader's life? Elisa shook her head. The only thing she knew was that she was not lost. There was hope.
Behind her, she felt the dark presence of Castaway approach.
"Do it," he said ominously. "It's now or never."
Elisa stood suddenly. "You do it," she countered, shoving the hammer at him. "You were about to."
He took the hammer, but offered it back to her, shaking his head. "If you don't do it now, you'll never be able to do it again. You'll be lost to us, Elisa, if you befriend these creatures. Alone."
Suddenly, things were coming back to Elisa - Lexington, laughing with her as they attempted to figure out together how some mechanical device worked. Reading detective novels with Broadway. Showing Brooklyn the coolest new styles. Trading tales with Hudson. Giving romantic advice to Angela. ...Spending time, just talking, with Goliath. "I can never be alone with friends like these," she told Castaway quietly, confidently. Elisa took the Quarryhammer from his hand. Turning, she hurled the weapon as far as she could out into the open air.
For a moment, Castaway watched it sail out of sight, then turned to Elisa in disgust. "You are less than nothing," he said. He glanced behind her, at Goliath, then looked at her down his nose, knowingly. "How you can turn your back on your own race..." he trailed off, unable to find words that were sufficiently demeaning. At last, he turned and picked up the other hammer from the ground. "I'll tell you now, you won't be able to come running back to me. You've willingly thrown in your lot against your own kind -committed a crime that cannot be forgiven."
"I wasn't aware that love was a crime," countered Elisa. "Trust me. I'm a cop." With that, she turned her back, and waited for the last sliver of sun to disappear. When it melted from the horizon at last, she smiled at the satisfying crack-roar emitting from her companion.
He turned, and her smile widened. "My love," he rumbled contentedly. "It is done, then."
Elisa buried herself happily in his arms, feeling silent tears of relief on her cheeks. "It is done, my love," she said.
Elisa's eyes flew open, but this time instead of consuming guilt she was filled with joy. "I did it!" She yawned and smiled. "I did it."
"I knew that you could." Goliath rumbled. He helped her
to her feet then swept her into a tight embrace. After several long moments
Coyote cleared his throat. Angela stared at a bit of intricate woodwork.
Elisa continued to lean against Goliath as she thanked Coyote.
"I think my work is done here." He looked at Elisa's family portrait hung prominently on the living room wall. "Say 'Hi' to your Pop, for me. Tell him I'm sorry I missed him." He turned to leave. "Oh," He turned back and caught Elisa's gaze. "This is important. Tell your sister to read up on the Qaletaqa." He raised a hand in farewell and vanished.
"The what?" Angela asked puzzled.
Elisa shrugged. "I am so glad that this is over. Goliath, I don't know how I can apologize for all the horrible things that I've said and done over the last..." Purple talons gently covered her lips, preventing her from completing the sentiment.
"You need not apologize for what happened. We know now that you were trying to protect us from yourself."
"I'm glad that you are all right Elisa." Angela hugged her friend briefly before heading for the balcony. "There is one more thing I must take care of before dawn." She departed without another word. The determined look on Angela's face was enough to forestall any objections by Goliath. He let her go. They were alone. He picked Elisa off the ground and carried her into her bedroom.
"Goliath!" Elisa protested.
"You, my love, must get some rest. I will watch over you to keep you safe." He set her down gently and she gathered up her night clothes and headed into the bathroom. When she returned. The bed was turned down. She climbed in obediently and closed her eyes. Moments later she was asleep, her fist curled in her hair. Goliath sighed, content.
There was a faint squeak as Demona underlined another passage in hot pink highlighter in her purloined copy of 'Antiquities Today.' The current news programs had shown that Xanatos had lost the race against the team sponsored by Maddox Technologies but it had been his involvement that had attracted her attention. She found the article about the search for Circe's island fascinating and she had put her own resources to work, discreetly inquiring as to the type artifacts being discovered there, both public and private. She was cross-referencing with a copy of the Odyssey when the French doors leading to her garden slammed open.
"Mother!!" Angela stood there in the doorway, eyes a fiery crimson. "How could you?"
Demona half rose from her desk. "Angela? I-I don't know what you mean, my child. What is wrong? Are you hurt?"
"Don't lie to me, Mother," Angela said, stalking across the plush carpet towards her. "We know you used an enchantment on Elisa. She nearly went mad from the nightmares you gave her. She actually started to believe that she hated Father, hated all of us."
"All humans hate us," Demona said bluntly. "It is the way of the world."
"Not in my world, Mother. Elisa is my friend and she is very, very dear to me." Angela stopped in front of the desk and Demona could see the tears shining in her daughter's eyes. "I don't know how you could do such a horrible thing to Elisa and frankly, I don't want to hear your reasons right now. Know this, Mother," she leaned forward with an intense stare, "if you ever, ever hurt anyone I love again, I swear that I will NEVER speak to you again for the rest of my life. As much as I want to be a daughter to you, there is no way on Earth I'd ever forgive you for such a thing."
Numbly, stunned by the cold anger in Angela's voice, Demona watched her daughter turn and leave the way she came. She slowly sank into her chair. When she had used the enchanted dream powder out of a fit of jealous vengeance, Demona hadn't even considered how Angela would react to it. The immortal gargoyle had never had anyone else to think about before. It was a curiously disturbing feeling.
The blood rushed from her face and Demona stared at the French doors. Her relationship with Angela was the first serious attempt that she had made at any kind of friendship in centuries. An unfamiliar emotion swept over her and she swallowed hard to clear the sudden lump in her throat. She realized at that moment that she would have to tread very, very carefully with her daughter or risk being truly alone forever.
Demona sniffed and turned back to her work. A wet blot wrinkled the slick magazine paper and as she stared at it, another drop joined it. She dabbed at her cheek and looked at the moisture on her fingers in shock. Tears? But she never cried. Not since that awful night when she found Goliath and the others frozen in stone on the abandoned battlements of Castle Wyvern and very rarely since in her dreams. Surely losing the affection of one gargoyle wasn't worth crying over. Her lip trembled.
Alone, Demona wept.