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Discussions - Chapter 10

 
 
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Discussions - Chapter 10

 

By Kudara

 

Disclaimer: All the characters appearing in Gargoyles are copyright Buena Vista Television/The Walt Disney Company.  No infringement of these copyrights is intended as this is a not for profit fan fiction work.  All original characters are the property of the author.

 

Warning: Sexual content

 

Notes:  Background story for Thailog and Demona’s relationship are based, with the authors permission, on the story Better Days by Nancy Brown http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/1392/gargoyles/betterdz.txt     Dominique Destine’s home, and the character’s Candice and Gregory are from ‘The Gargoyles Saga’ world and adapted for use in this story.

 

Rating:  Mature

 

Feedback: Always welcome, feedback is what encourages me to keep writing.  Please let me know what you like and what you dislike about the story.

 

Revision History: 07/09/08

 

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Tuesday, December 16th 1997

 

Morning - Nightstone Unlimited HQ, Lower East Side Manhattan

 

Dominique stared out her thirteenth story window, mentally reviewing the previous work week.  She had started her HR department looking at the personnel benefits she wanted to implement, started the legal department looking into having Thailog declared legally dead, dealt with an attempt to bribe information from her employees, hired Kendra and fired Mr. Cleveland, and started R&D working on the new battery technology.  That had all been on Monday.  On Tuesday, she had invited Margaret up, her eyes went to the clock noting the time, who Gregory and Kendra should be picking up from the airport about now and then taking to Kendra’s apartment to unpack and settle in.  On Thursday, she had reviewed the papers to patent the paper battery technology, ordered Sevarius’ research destroyed, ordered a stop on all non-therapeutic research, and contacted Rachael about a personnel assistant and then that night she had met Sharon.  This morning she had sent a memo to HR detailing the specifics of Sharon’s job offer that they would be overnighting to the young woman later today.

 

Her eyes went to the Marketing and Sales report on her desk, she snarled silently, as much as she had not wanted to do this, she needed to approve the Department of Defense’s order for more weapons.  Right now Nightstone needed the cash flow from the contract, especially with the planned acquisition of a company so they could enter the industrial fuel cell market.  At least Mr. Delaney’s efforts to push Nightstone’s armor and defensive countermeasures over their weapons systems had resulted in a new DoD contract for their new ceramic composite vehicle armor and laser anti-missile defense system in addition to the weapon’s contract.

 

It was unfortunate that the DoD hadn’t been interested in purchasing new body armor in addition to the vehicle armor.  The body armor Nightstone could produce wasn’t enough of a significant improvement from what the DoD was currently using for them to be interested in purchasing it.  It was possible to make significantly better body armor with the existing technology; Xanatos Enterprises held a patent for the manufacturing process to make reusable armor plate technology that would replace the currently used heavy ceramic plates that needed to be replaced every time they stopped a bullet.  Xanatos Enterprises didn’t however have the patent for the material to make the plates; Nightstone did, and because of that currently neither company could produce the best possible body armor.

 

What was truly annoying Dominique about the current impasse was her own role in it.  She had found out through one of her own spies that Xanatos Enterprises was working on the same technology as Nightstone, and had shifted her entire R&D department into accelerating the research project.  Nightstone managed to just beat Xanatos Enterprises to the patent office with the process to make the nanofiber weave that would be used in both the plates and the material of the vest, but they hadn’t beaten them to developing the plate manufacturing process.  At that time she hadn’t been interested in humans having better body armor to protect themselves from each other; she had wanted them to keep killing one another.  Therefore, once she had the patent, she rejected Xanatos’ offer to let Nightstone use their manufacturing patent in exchange for letting Xanatos Enterprises use the patent for the nanofiber material, thereby hobbling both companies.

 

Without Xanatos’s manufacturing method however, the nanofiber weave that Nightstone had developed for the material of the vest that significantly increased its ability to protect the wearer from low and medium impact bullets simply wasn’t of interest enough to the DoD.  They wanted body armor capable of protecting soldiers from high impact rifle ammunition.  The market that could benefit from the body armor Nightstone could make, mainly state and local law enforcement agencies, didn’t have the type of budget to afford buying new vests when the old ones worked well enough.

 

Until recently, of course, she hadn’t cared that she had hurt her own company as well as Xanatos Enterprises; since she never thought she would be interested in Nightstone producing body armor.  Now though, everything had changed, and she wanted to change Nightstone’s DoD contract focus from weapons development to armor and defensive countermeasures and one essential piece of that pie was producing body armor.  To do that however, she needed Xanatos’ permission to use the manufacturing process his company had patented.  Her green eyes narrowed as she thought, David Xanatos would make her pay far more than the patent was worth if she made an offer now, she smiled a rather shark like smile, but perhaps he might be more amiable to an arrangement where both of them gave up a little to gain a lot more.  If she knew one thing about David Xanatos, it was that the man never let his personal feelings get in the way of making a healthy profit.

 

The phone on her desk rang, she turned away from the window and walked over to her desk to look down at it, it was an internal call from the IT division.  She picked up the phone, “Ms. Destine,” she answered knowing that it was probably Ms. Conrad.

 

“Ms. Destine,” it was her IT Division manager, “I’ve been auditing our computer system as you requested and I’ve found something.” 

 

Dominique frowned, Ms. Conrad rarely sounded upset or uncertain, and right now she sounded both.  “What is it?” she asked her voice flat as she wondered what Thailog had done to her company.

 

“I found a program embedded in the accounting software, it’s been transferring small amounts of money from various departmental accounts out of the company by placing false billing requests…”

 

Ms. Conrad didn’t get any further before Dominique interrupted, “Mr. Cleveland,” the redhead venomously snarled, “I’ll see him rotting in jail for this.”

 

“I’ve already put some of my best people working on tracing it to him while I track down where the money’s going,” Ms. Conrad assured her quickly, “but this looks like it’s been hidden inside the accounting system for quite some time.”  The IT Division manager sounded apologetic and she should, because if it had been there for a while that meant that she had missed it during the audit a year ago.

 

Dominique frowned, “How did your earlier audit miss it?” she asked tersely.

 

“With what the program is doing it would have been easy to erase it while the audit was going on and then...”

 

“Reintroduce it once the audit was finished, and he knew exactly when the audit was to begin and when it was completed,” the redhead finished seeing exactly how Mr. Cleveland had evaded detection.

 

“Exactly,” Ms. Conrad sounded relieved.  “There’s only one thing that puzzles me, I really didn’t think Mr. Cleveland knew enough about computers, much less programming to be able to create this program.”

 

“He didn’t,” Dominique replied, her voice chill as her thoughts went to the cloned male, “Mr. Thailog did.”

 

An hour later, Ms. Conrad and her team were still trying to track down exactly where the money was going, and find evidence of exactly who had placed the program in the system in the first place.  Dominique, except for asking for regular updates, remained in her office running various scenarios through her mind.  She knew Ms. Jordan Conrad was quite capable of doing her job; she didn’t need to go down there and stand over the woman to make sure it was done correctly.  She smirked, wondering how surprised her division managers would be to find out that she actually did think they were competent despite what she had frequently yelled at them in the past.  Then again perhaps they did, she doubted any of them were under any illusions that she wouldn’t have already fired them if they weren’t competent enough to meet her expectations.

 

She interlaced her fingers and rested her chin on them, refocusing her mind on her current problem, once Ms. Conrad found out exactly where the embezzled money had gone should she call in the authorities or quietly deal with the problem internally and have the money transferred back into the company.  The later was illegal of course, but she knew full well that companies did it all the time.  Sometimes you didn’t want everyone, and especially your competitors and stockholders, to know that one of your employees had managed to steal money from the company.

 

Reporting the embezzlement to the authorities, provided that Ms. Conrad found information pointing to Mr. Alexander Thailog being the end recipient of the money and that evidence showed the embezzled money hadn’t been touched in months, could help her efforts to have Thailog declared legally deceased.  On the other hand bringing in the authorities, depending on what they found when they started digging into Mr. Alexander Thailog’s business practices and background, could spectacularly backfire on her if they found out things she definitely didn’t want revealed about either herself or Thailog.  The redhead frowned; having the authorities investigating Mr. Alexander Thailog to determine whether he was alive wasn’t quite the same as them investigating him for embezzling, that might just be the level of attention that she didn’t want placed on the activities of the cloned male.

 

The phone on her desk buzzed indicating that it was the intercom line from her secretary, Dominique pushed the speaker button, “What is it Candice?”

 

“Ms. Canmore and Ms. Jackson are here to see you Ms. Destine,” the woman responded.

 

“Send them in,” Dominique said as she stood up, this distraction from her current problem was a welcome one, plus she wanted to discuss this with Kendra before deciding on a course of action.  She ended the call and walked around her desk, looking toward the door curiously.  The redhead had no idea what the Bison’s chosen, Margaret, looked like, nor really any idea of the woman’s personality, except that the woman had seemed cheerful and pleasant when she spoke to her on the phone last week.  The door to her office opened and Kendra entered followed closely by a woman that was both taller and wider than she was.

 

“Ms. Destine,” the tall, stout woman greeted her warmly, the hazel eyes behind her glasses taking in both her and her office in a single swift glance around.  The woman was tanned and had dark brown hair that was pulled back from her face in a long single braid that hung to midway down her back.

 

Dominique knew her expression had to be revealing her astonishment at the woman’s appearance, by sheer force of will, she smoothed her expression and forced down the laughter bubbling up in her throat.  Now that she was starting to watch for it, she could clearly see the influence of the chosen’s patron spirit in them.  That wasn’t what was currently amusing her however, what was humorous, now that she was looking for it, was how many of them bore more than a passing resemblance to their patron spirit animal.  Wayne was lean and tall, and so was the Wolf spirit, Kendra was very muscular and strong for a female, the Jaguar spirit was also strong and muscular, Margaret well…  Dominique doubted the stoutness she was seeing had anything to do with the woman being overweight, certainly some of it was fat, but she suspected quite a bit of it was muscle.  “Ms. Jackson,” she finally managed to return the woman’s greeting and shake her hand.

 

Margaret gave her a sharp glance, and then she sighed sounding resigned, “Yes I know, sometimes I wonder if the spirits have more of a droll sense of humor than we suspect, I’ve often accused mine of picking me on looks alone.”  Her martyred attitude was ruined by the merry twinkle in her hazel eyes and the twitching of her lips.

 

Kendra started chuckling, “This wouldn’t be so bad if I hadn’t pretty much done the same thing about forty minutes ago.”

 

Dominique could no longer help it; the laughter she had been trying to contain escaped her control.  “I’ve just begun to notice that about some of us,” she admitted once she got herself back under control.  “Wayne, Sharon and Margaret,” she looked over at Kendra, “you,” she grinned at her lover’s surprised look, “all look a little bit like their patron spirit animal.  I haven’t seen it in Rachael and Robert except perhaps in their personalities.”  A startling thought occurred to her, “I don’t, do I?” she asked them, a slight frown on her face, she couldn’t see how anyone could resemble the Irish Elk spirit.

 

Margaret and Kendra both looked at her intently, finally Margaret said, “Sometimes it’s not how you look exactly, sometimes it’s more something you sense in someone.  How they stand how they move how they hold themselves.”  She looked over at the Jaguar’s chosen, “Kendra’s a perfect example of both, she looks and moves like her spirit.”  The tall, stout woman smirked at the black haired woman, “As a matter of fact she practically exudes Jaguar.”  Kendra smirked right back at her, looking smugly pleased with the assessment.  Dominique grinned at her lover; Margaret was right Kendra did both look and move like the Jaguar spirit, it had been one of the first things that she had noticed and found attractive about Kendra.

 

Margaret turned back to Dominique, “With you I can see him in how you hold yourself, and I suspect as time goes by his influence on you will become even more apparent than it already is.”  The redhead found herself oddly touched by Margaret’s statement, the thought that she held enough of the Ancient One within her that it was apparent to those looking at her made her feel at once both humble and proud. 

 

“She’s right, you were regal and self-confident before,” Kendra said, her smile briefly shading from warm to wicked and Dominique was reminded of her saying by the stream that she had wanted to muss up her regalness that first meeting between them.  “Now you’re even more so,” Kendra continued, “It’s like every characteristic that you have that he has as well is amplified.”

 

Margaret nodded, her eyes brightening, “That’s exactly how it seems to work, the spirits don’t add anything, they just make stronger those characteristics that we already have that they have as well.”

 

Dominique nodded, recalling how she had suspected that what had interested the Jaguar spirit in Kendra initially was the warrior already within the young girl. 

 

When no one immediately followed up with another comment, Margaret turned to the redheaded woman “Well you probably need to get back to work.  You said you had your Human Resources Division working on feasibility studies?”

 

“Yes, and you’re right I do need to get back to work, especially since something came up this morning that I’ll want to talk with you about after we get though with this,” Dominique said glancing over at Kendra. 

 

Kendra gave her a sharp eyed glance, “Alright.”

 

Dominique waved her hand toward the two chairs in her office, silently inviting them to sit if they wanted as she turned to her desk and pulled a thick folder from a stack of papers.  “I just got the last one this morning,” she said as she handed the folder over to Margaret.  “I hope you can come up with some ways for us to implement these more cheaply, right now Human Resources is recommending against extending medical benefits to domestic partners due to the projected cost to the company.”

 

“Oh I know a few ways of doing things to cut down the administrative costs,” Margaret said scanning though the papers, “And a few tricks that will allow you to increase your tax deductions for employee benefit costs.”  She looked up at Dominique, “With any luck I can show you how to save enough money to afford to implement all these benefits,” she indicated the stack of papers in her hand.

 

 

Late Morning - Nightstone Unlimited HQ, Lower East Side Manhattan

 

Ms. Conrad had finally tracked the money to an account with a Bermudan bank that currently held approximately thirty-three million dollars.  Significantly, the embezzled money hadn’t been touched in a few months, and that only made it more tempting to Dominique to use it as proof that Mr. Alexander Thailog was indeed deceased.

 

Kendra had suggested leaving the account untouched for now and consulting with Wayne, who would at least be able to give the redhead a better idea of the risks she would be running if she brought the embezzling to the attention of the authorities.  Dominique was uneasy about bringing the matter to his attention, even though he was another chosen he was still a law enforcement officer and she didn’t want to put him in an awkward position.  Still Kendra was right, if anyone could give her an informed opinion on the risk she would be running by reporting Thailog’s embezzlement to the authorities it would be Wayne.

 

Dominique pushed the intercom button on her phone, “Candice I don’t want to be bothered by anyone for the next thirty minutes.”  She was about to close the connection when a thought occurred, “Except for Ms. Canmore if she should need me for something and then have her enter quietly without knocking so she doesn’t interrupt me.”

 

She could hear the bewilderment in her secretary’s voice as she responded, “Yes, Ms. Destine.”  Her lips quirked up in a small grin, really Candice should be used to strange requests from her by now, this certainly wasn’t the oddest by far that she had made over the past two years.

 

The redhead clicked the button on her desk that opened the hidden door to the control room next to her office and entered, going to the upper level where there was a relatively comfortable couch along one wall.  She sat down upon it, her back against the couch’s arm and her feet up on the couch.  Her body relatively comfortable and secure, she closed her eyes and transitioned into the spirit realm.  Dominique looked back at her body on the couch verifying that it wasn’t in a position that would leave her with a crick in her neck when she returned to it.  She nodded in satisfaction at seeing her head resting comfortably against the support of the back and arm of the couch then fixed her thoughts upon the Irish Elk spirit and walked into the swirling mists.

 

When they cleared, she recognized with considerable shock the stone rotunda by the lake in Avalon where she and Macbeth had spent so much time standing around as still as statues while the Archmage and Weird Sisters schemed together.  The Ancient One was standing by the pool in its center watching the grey images of the three fey. 

 

The Irish Elk spirit’s antlered head swung toward her, “My chosen,” he greeted her.  Warily, she crossed over to stand near him staring at the three sisters feeling her hatred, and yes, fear, of them.  “They do not know that either of us is here, you are in no danger from them my chosen,” the great stag assured her gently.  “And your defensive skills are already sufficient to protect yourself from their attacks, even their combined ones.”

 

Dominique stared at him in surprise; she hadn’t realized she had progressed that far with her shielding ability.  Her arms dropped from where they had been crossed defensively across her chest, and she was able to look at the three fey more calmly.  “What are they doing?”

 

“Attempting to scry upon you and Macbeth, their attempts are not succeeding however,” the Ancient One noted with satisfaction.

 

She took a few steps closer to the pool and looked down into the water, the reflective surface showed nothing but the reflection of the domed top of the rotunda.  She looked up at the Weird Sisters, noting the confused frown on the silver haired sister’s face and smirked.  The smile on her face faded as she took in the anger on Selene’s countenance, this would be the one who would press the others to seek out Macbeth and she to determine what was preventing them from scrying on their former puppets.  She looked back at the great stag, pointing at the dark haired sister, “She will insist on finding out why they cannot spy on us.”

 

He dipped his antlered head in agreement, “Very likely, but they will find leaving Avalon difficult, their actions have drawn the attention of Titania, Lord Oberon’s mate.”  His head turned and she followed his gaze to see a tall light teal skinned fey with long red hair approaching, “See, here she is even now, she is watching them rather closely.”  The two of them watched as the regal fey woman approached the three sisters and stared at them and the pool suspiciously.  Titania exchanged some words with the Weird Sisters and then stared after them as they left, when they were out of sight she waved her hand imperiously over the surface of the pool and then stared down at it frowning, a look of confusion on her face.  The Fey Queen turned and stared narrow eyed after the Weird Sisters for a few moments before turning and leaving herself.

 

Dominique stared after her, wishing that she knew how to read lips better, she thought Titania had said something about Lord Oberon requiring their presence, but sound didn’t travel into the spirit realm so she wasn’t certain.  When the rotunda was empty, the great stag turned toward Dominique, “This is early for you my chosen,” he stated.

 

“It is,” she acknowledged, “I need to speak to Wayne about Thailog, I just found out this morning he’s been embezzling money from Nightstone.”

 

“Thailog,” the Ancient One repeated thoughtfully, “He was the one who attempted to have you and Macbeth kill one another so he could claim your possessions.”

 

The redhead grimaced, “Yes,” she said, “He was, or I guess more accurately still is, even though he’s currently stone both day and night, Goliath’s clone.”

 

The great stag head jerked a little, betraying his surprise at her statement, “Cloned,” the Ancient One repeated.  “I was not aware that this was possible,” the great stag sounded troubled.

 

Dominique looked around at the stone rotunda.  The view from here was beautiful even though it was only a grey reflection of the living world, with the still waters of the lake nearby reflecting the few wispy clouds in the sky above, but this place held so many bad memories for her.  “Can we go elsewhere for this,” she asked quietly.

 

His great brown eyes met hers, “Of course, chosen, follow me.”  Dominique was relieved to see the familiar pine forest, snow and stream of the Canadian wilderness where she and Kendra had stayed for so many days when the mists cleared once again.  “Now chosen, tell me of this Thailog and of how he was cloned.”  He turned to look at her obviously expecting her to meet his gaze so that she could share the information she had as he had requested.

 

Instead, she turned away from the spirit troubled and embarrassed, her arms wrapped around herself, a poor replacement for the comfort of her wings.  She took a few steps toward the stream to stare at it, “Thailog was not a proper gargoyle,” she offered after a few seconds.  Warm breath through her hair and on the back of her neck was the first sign she had that the great stag was near, then his great head pressed against her back.  Dominique bowed her head, “We were mates for a time, but after the first few weeks he…” her hand went to her cheek remembering when he had started striking her when he became angered even drawing blood on occasion, “was not a kind one.  Gargoyle mates do not treat each other the way he treated me,” of course neither do gargoyle mates treat one another as you treated Goliath, her mind reminded her.  She shook her head, not wanting to get lost in those thoughts right now.

 

The Ancient One did not say anything, just offered his supportive presence and his unspoken determination that she would eventually share this information with him.  Reluctantly she turned round closed her eyes and rested her head against his.  “I will not judge you for your relationship with Thailog chosen,” he assured her.  Finally, she opened her green eyes and met his gaze, unaware of how desperately her fingers clutched at his broad muzzle in her fear of what he would think of her once he knew how she had let Thailog treat her.

 

When the Ancient One’s gaze released her Dominique sunk to her knees and bowed her head feeling ill from the recalled memories.  With time and distance, she could see so clearly now that he had treated her worse and worse the longer they were together.  She couldn’t understand why she hadn’t just left him; it wasn’t as if she hadn’t considered it several times while they were together.  How had she let herself become so weak and needy of a male that treated her so badly?

 

“You are correct my chosen, he was neither a proper gargoyle nor mate to you,” the great stag comforted her quietly.

 

She looked up at him, “Why did I stay?” she asked him plaintively, “I didn’t even want to be with him toward the end.”

 

“No,” the spirit agreed, “that is why you acquiesced to his plans to clone the other gargoyles; the idea of being away from him and his demands as your mate for a month or more was agreeable to you.  Even if it was confined as a prisoner of your clan.”

 

Dominique winced, it was the truth, besides the opportunity to get to know her daughter, getting away from Thailog had been one of the reasons she agreed to his plan.  Of course, she didn’t realize then what he planned to do to the clones.  Her first interaction with them when she realized how limited he had made them had filled her with bitter disappointment and disillusionment.  Thailog had made them into a mockery of a clan, and she had to pretend to be pleased with them in front of her daughter and the others.  Goliath had spoken true when he had remarked about how low she had sunk after she introduced the clones to him, but not in the manner he had meant, the lowness she had sunk to had been in remaining with Thailog and agreeing to his plan to make the clones.

 

“As for why you stayed,” the Ancient One continued, “I am troubled that you have not yet realized what he began doing from almost your very first interactions.”  Dominique frowned, not understanding what the great stag meant.  “Chosen, from the very beginning he set out to undermine your confidence in yourself and your abilities and replace that with the belief that only he was capable of making the right decisions for you as mates and then later for Nightstone,” the Irish Elk said to her.

 

She stared at him, first in disbelief, and then rising anger as she began reviewing her memories of her and Thailog’s interactions.  She recalled how he had constantly belittled her ideas for the company and repeatedly told her that he had been created knowing everything David Xanatos did about business and therefore should be the one to make all the decisions for Nightstone.  Her place at Nightstone was merely to be the human face during the day that carried his decisions out.  She was never to make spur of the moment business decisions without him reviewing them first or she would likely ruin the company.  She hadn’t though, after his betrayal of her and her taking over the company, Nightstone had thrived under her care.

 

“When you began rebelling against his treatment of you, he created a mate that would not disagree with him and would not object to anything he did to her,” the Ancient One’s words pulled Dominique out of her memories of Thailog’s treatment of her.  She stared at him in shocked disbelief, her anger rising as she remembered the moment when the cloned male had revealed the abomination he had made as a replacement for her.  “Chosen, Delilah is as enslaved and manipulated by her programming as you were by the enchantments the Weird Sisters placed upon you.  I doubt he is any better a mate to her than he was to you, and it is likely he is a worse mate because he programmed her to be unable to think of rebelling against him no matter how much he hurts her, or how badly he treats her.”  

 

The Ancient One’s tone held a hint of rebuke, that and what he had said abruptly cooled her rising anger.  She had never considered how Thailog treated the female he cloned from she and Elisa Maza, or if she had she had always assumed that he treated Delilah better than he had her because the white haired female would never disappoint and anger him.  The spirits words however gave her pause, the Ancient One was implying that Thailog would still have hurt Delilah simply because he could and the cloned female wouldn’t be able to object or decide to leave him because he had created her to be unable to even consider the possibility.

 

Thailog had stated more than once that he only hit her because she made him angry and he lost his temper with her.  The redhead had always thought that if she could do things better, if she could please him more, that things would be perfect between them and he wouldn’t hurt her anymore.  Or had Thailog just used that as an excuse to hurt her because he liked doing so, and manipulated her into believing it was her own fault?

 

“You were never responsible for his actions chosen; it was always his choice to hurt you,” it was almost as if the spirit were reading her mind, his words were so well timed.  “He knew how lonely you were and he used that to manipulate you into believing that he was the only male that would accept you.  Once he was certain you believed that and would not immediately leave him, he began telling you that you were responsible for his emotions, for his happiness, for his anger, and when you believed that he began telling you that you were responsible for his actions.  That was when he began to hurt you, and tell you that you were the one responsible for it.”

 

She stared into his understanding great brown eyes for a few seconds before shifting her gaze to the grey colored stream beside them, “How could I have been so…foolish and weak,” she whispered.  She remembered the desperate loneliness she had felt before Thailog, how he had at least eased it even if he wasn’t as kind and considerate as she would have liked.  She remembered how she had persuaded herself that if only she tried harder he wouldn’t get angry, if only she gave him more time to learn how to be a better lover he would stop hurting her and then everything would be perfect between them and she wouldn’t be so very alone anymore.  Apparently though, that had all been a carefully constructed lie by the cloned male, a ruse to persuade her that she was in control, but he had been the one in control the entire time, and not only of himself but of her as well.

 

The Irish Elk shook his massive head, “You were not chosen, he was very methodical and careful in the way he went about causing you first to doubt yourself, then to believing that you were responsible for his emotions and actions.  He worked very diligently at persuading you to believe that if only you tried harder you could prevent him from being angry with or harming you.”

 

She nodded, rising to her feet she leaned against his head, taking in the comfort he so freely offered before reluctantly commenting, “I told Candice to only hold my calls for thirty minutes, so I need to leave.  Can you get a message to Wayne that I need to talk with him about whether or not it’s too risky to report Thailog’s embezzlement?”

 

“I will,” he assured her, “and the young jaguar is right, he is the best one to council you on this matter.”

 

Dominique paused before leaving; sharing that part of her past with the Irish Elk spirit had not been as terrible as she had feared.  It had drained her and left her feeling saddened and angry that she had been so gullible and easily manipulated by the cloned male.  The Ancient One’s analysis of the relationship had been insightful and left her feeling much wiser as to what had really been going on during that time, and though she was ashamed that she had allowed herself to be so easily controlled by Thailog she was oddly less ashamed of herself.  She felt less…stained by the experience than she had before she had shared it with the great stag spirit.

 

She reached out, laid her hand on his broad muzzle, looked into his wise ancient eyes, “Thank you,” she said quietly feeling extremely humble and grateful toward him.  That he had reached out to her, that he had taken her as his chosen, and that he had quietly insisted that she share this with him even though she had not wanted to.

 

His gaze held hers, “You are welcome my chosen.”  The emphasis on the last words was clear as were his emotions directed toward her.  Her head lifted and her eyes filled with tears as she felt them wash over her, pride, affection, and warmth.  “Until our lesson tonight chosen.”

 

She inclined her head in acknowledgement, stepped back and transitioned back into the living realm.  Sensing someone nearby, she opened her eyes and met Kendra’s concerned blue ones.  “Hey, welcome back,” the black haired woman said softly.  Kendra reached up and gently touched one of the tears on the redhead’s face, her expression worried, “Are you alright?  Is something wrong?”

 

Dominique looked at her, took in the concern, the protectiveness of her lover, her mate, “I love you,” she said in a flatly serious tone.  Her green eyes widened, she hadn’t really intended to say that aloud.

 

Kendra cocked her head to the side, giving her a bemused look, “I love you too,” she responded gently.

 

Dominique moved first, but Kendra met her more than halfway as their arms wrapped around one another.  The redhead allowed herself to soak in the warmth, the strength and steadiness of the woman holding her.  “I know you disagree with me, but I don’t deserve you,” the redhead whispered into the raven black hair, “I am so grateful that you’re in my life and that you love me.”

 

The black haired woman pulled back far enough to look into Dominique’s green eyes, “You’re right we do disagree on this, I do think you deserve to be loved and I love you.”  They leaned forward at the same time, their lips meeting, pressing gently and then more passionately as Kendra pulled Dominique more tightly to her.

 

Dominique grasped her lover’s strong shoulders as the kiss deepened, feeling Kendra’s desire for her.  Her own answering surge of passion caught the redhead by surprise.  “Touch me,” she begged, not caring at this moment that they were at work, that at any time one of her employees could come into her office looking for her and wonder where she and Kendra had gone.  Dominique wanted her lover’s gentle passionate touch upon her bare skin, to feel Kendra’s hunger and desire for her and know that she could surrender herself to it freely and without fear.

 

First her suit top and then her skirt was carefully pulled off and draped over the back of the couch, the black haired woman’s blue eyes darkened as they took in the black garters holding up the redheaded woman’s hose and the lacy black panties she wore.  Kendra’s fingers lightly traced the garters holding up Dominique’s hose, she growled softly, “Do you know it drives me crazy each day knowing you have these on underneath your oh so conservative business suits?”

 

“Yes,” the redhead murmured with satisfaction, her breath catching at the teasing touch along her upper thigh.

 

She felt Kendra’s shoulders shake with laughter, and her lips curved in an answering smile that quickly changed to an aroused gasp as her lover surged forward and pressed her lips against the thin layer of black lace that shielded her femininity.  A low possessive grow vibrated against her sensitive flesh, and her hips bucked into the contact as she groaned, “Oh yes, yours my love yours,” her hands threaded though the silky black hair as she pulled Kendra closer.

 

An hour later, Dominique finished off her now cold lunch that Kendra had set out on the round table in the middle of the control room while she was in the spirit realm with the Ancient One.  As much as she wanted nothing more than to lie on the couch with Kendra holding her, she needed to prepare for her meeting with Xanatos in another hour.  “Thank you for lunch,” she said after finishing the last bite of chicken cacciatore from the Styrofoam container.

 

Kendra smiled, “Well when I came in here and realized what you were doing, I figured you would need a substantial lunch afterward.”  Her expression became more serious, “I want to be with you for your meeting with Xanatos since he’s bringing that fey with him.”

 

Dominique glanced over at her, “I’m sure I’ll be in no danger from Puck,” she said lightly.  Kendra’s expression didn’t change even the slightest bit as the black haired woman stared at her with a resolute expression.  Finally Dominique sighed, “You’re not going to drop this are you?” she asked.  Kendra’s determinedly protective stance didn’t waver, she sighed, “Very well,” she finally gave in, it wasn’t worth the argument and besides she would feel better if Kendra was with her.

 

 

Afternoon - Nightstone Unlimited HQ, Lower East Side Manhattan

 

“Ms. Destine, Mr. Xanatos and Mr. Burnett are here for your three o’clock meeting,” Candice informed her over the open intercom line.

 

“Thank you Candice, would you contact Ms. Canmore and let her know, she’s attending the meeting as well,” Dominique responded.

 

“Of course Ms. Destine, I’ll do that right now,” her secretary replied.

 

“See if they want coffee or anything to drink and I’ll be out to meet them in a few minutes,” the redhead instructed, she wanted to give Kendra time to arrive before inviting the two into her office.  She cut off the intercom line and began straightening the papers on her desk, making sure nothing was in sight that she didn’t want Xanatos or his pet fey to see.

 

After a few minutes, she took one last look around her office her eyes falling on the green of the fake silk plants in the corners.  She frowned; it was a good thing she didn’t really expect to need to protect herself from Puck.  While there was some nature magic available, there was certainly not an abundance of it for her to draw upon here.  She made a mental note to rectify that problem as soon as her meeting with Xanatos was over.  When the decorators came over to the mansion tomorrow night to decorate it for the Solstice, they would be delivering some plants for her as well, but she hadn’t made the same type of arrangements for her office.  Dominique shook her head, there was nothing she could do about it right now so she might as well not dwell on it.

 

It was David Xanatos that she needed to be concerned about today, not Puck, for it was Xanatos who had been the one to program Thailog with every manipulative and calculating trick the human knew.  Her eyes narrowed and she grimaced at the direction her thoughts were taking; now she knew exactly to what extent Thailog had used those skills against her.  Still, ever since the birth of his child, Xanatos appeared to be making an effort to reform his ways, but that didn’t mean that she didn’t need to be careful to not reveal any piece of information that she didn’t want him and the clan to know.

 

She squared her shoulders, readying herself for whatever Xanatos was up to with this meeting and then walked over to open the door of her office, only to smirk in amusement as she took in the tableau by her secretary’s desk.  Kendra had arrived and was currently giving a stiff looking Owen Burnett a rather toothy smile or perhaps it was a warning baring of her teeth while Candice looked on, her eyes wide.  “Mr. Xanatos, Mr. Burnett, Ms. Canmore,” she interrupted, “if you will come into my office,” she said in a pleasant voice.  “Ms. Canmore if you would bring a chair for yourself, please.”  She waited until Kendra turned to look at her and give her an acknowledging nod before turning and walking back into her office as the two males followed her in.  She settled into her chair and Kendra followed a few seconds later, carrying a chair which she placed to the side and just slightly in front of Dominique’s desk and angled it so that she could see everyone in the room.

 

The redhead watched her lover settle herself feeling both amused and warmed by her obvious protectiveness and noting how David Xanatos and Puck, in his human guise of Owen Burnett, were currently paying more attention to Kendra than they were to her.  Little surprise there, even though the jaguar spirit in Kendra was actually being relatively low key considering how close to the full moon it was, she could barely sense the threat emanating from the black haired woman.  The tenseness in her stomach settled, it wasn’t as if she hadn’t handled Xanatos in the past after all, and now she had Kendra by her side as well.  “So,” she raised her voice slightly and watched as the two males turned toward her, “you didn’t give my secretary a topic for this meeting.”  She met Xanatos’ dark eyes calmly and waited for him to speak.

 

The dark haired man studied her openly for a few seconds before replying, “It seemed like a good time to bring up the nanoweave patent once again.”

 

Dominique fought to hide her surprise; this was a strange coincidence considering that very thing had been on her mind this morning.  “What did you have in mind?” she asked evenly.  She knew her response in itself was a departure from her past responses; up until today she had refused before even hearing his offer.

 

Only the slightest widening of his eyes and then the sharp gaze he directed her way betrayed his surprise, “You’re willing to discuss a price for Xanatos Enterprises to use the patent?”

 

She leaned back in her chair, “I’d rather discuss the possibility of Xanatos Enterprises and Nightstone Unlimited entering into an arrangement to jointly produce the most technically advanced personal body armor possible, both now and in the future,” she replied frankly.  It was rare that she managed to surprise David Xanatos to the extent that he openly showed his surprise; this was one of those times.  After a few seconds of silence, Dominique smirked, “Nothing to say?  How surprising, you’re usually quite glib with your responses,” she commented with sly amusement.

 

His eyes immediately narrowed, “I thought you weren’t interested in saving human lives,” he remarked, his tone sarcastic.

 

Out of the corner of her eye, the redhead saw Kendra give him a narrow-eyed warning stare, Xanatos’ dark eyes flickered quickly toward the black haired woman and he tensed slightly.  Before the situation between the two could escalate, Dominique responded evenly, “That was then, this is now,” drawing his attention back to her, “things have changed.”  She hesitated considering her next words; it wasn’t usually a good idea to let your major competitor know about a change of company direction before you had even really mentioned it to your managers, much less fully implemented it, but this was something she wanted the clan to know.  “Nightstone is no longer developing or researching any new offensive technologies.”  The smirk returned to her face as she saw she had managed to surprise him yet again.

 

The surprise on his face faded, transformed into a suspicious look upon seeing her amusement, “Somehow I find that hard to believe, weapon’s contracts have been very lucrative for Nightstone in the past.”

 

Dominique inclined her head in agreement, after all she had just signed off on a weapons contract for just that reason.  “You are, of course, correct, nevertheless Nightstone Unlimited will no longer be involved in assisting humanity in developing new and better ways to kill itself.  We will still produce and sell our current weapons line, as you mentioned it is a very lucrative division of the company, but when it’s outdated…there will be nothing new to replace it.”  She met his doubtful dark eyes serenely, “Thus my interest in a joint venture between our companies to produce body armor.”

 

David Xanatos stared at her; she could tell that he was trying to figure out if she was being truthful or if this was another elaborate deception she was attempting.  She could understand his suspiciousness; if this had been even a month ago he would have probably been correct in his distrust of her intentions.  His eyes flickered over once to Kendra, a speculative gleam in them, and she was suddenly certain who it had been who had been behind the bribery attempts to find out if she and Kendra were lover’s.  She had no idea how he would have learned of it, but then again they hadn’t really been attempting to hide their relationship.  It could have been something as simple as someone mentioning they had seen them together at a restaurant.  Still if he wanted to attribute her sudden change of heart to Kendra, well…he certainly wasn’t incorrect; it was just that he didn’t have the entire truth.

 

Xanatos returned his attention to her, “Just like that,” he commented skeptically, “you’re no longer enemies with Macbeth and now you’re no longer trying to wipe out humanity?”

 

Well that answered the question of whether or not the clan had told him about their meeting with Macbeth.  She stared at him contemplatively, remembering when the Ancient One had asked her if she was still the human’s enemy and her thoughts before she answered that she was not.  “Yes, just like that,” she responded evenly, “the information I gained from the spirit made it clear to me that the justification’s I believed I had to hate humanity simply weren’t true.”  Her green eyes hardened in the first sign of anger either of the two males had seen so far, “The Canmores, Macbeth and I were all pawns of the Archmage and the Weird Sisters.  It’s those three fey who are really responsible for all the gargoyle deaths over the centuries, not the human line they so perversely enchanted so that they would be driven to try and kill me or any other gargoyle they came across.”

 

Owen Burnett shifted in his seat at this statement, drawing both of the women’s eyes to him.  Neither gaze was particularly friendly.  David Xanatos straightened, drawing their attention away from the blonde man, “Owen’s not responsible for anything that happened to you,” he said with a hard glare of his own, “if anything you owe him a thank you for putting that transformation spell on you.  You wouldn’t have any of this,” he glanced meaningfully around the office, “if it weren’t for him.”

 

“But he is responsible for how much it hurt her,” Kendra said, her tone hard.

 

“Actually I’m not,” Owen replied to Kendra.  His gaze shifted from the black haired woman to Dominique, “Your transformations should have been mildly uncomfortable, but nothing near the painful experiences I understand they are to you.”

 

Dominique stared at him measuringly for a long moment, “Were,” she finally corrected him, “the spirit provided an alternate means for me to change into a human form.”

 

“I had hoped that was the case,” he responded, his eyes never wavering from hers.  “The Weird Sisters were not pleased with the gift I gave you, so they decided to alter it.”

 

Kendra leaned forward, regaining his attention, “So why didn’t you do something about it instead of just letting their cruelty continue,” she demanded, her blue-eyed gaze as chill as a winter day.

 

His gaze slipped away from hers, and for the first time he looked uncomfortable, “I had hoped my enchantment would go unnoticed, but that was not the case.  Once they added their alteration to increase the pain of Demona’s transformations, I did not dare attempt anything else, not after gaining their attention.  No one but Lord Oberon and Lady Titania are strong enough to defeat their combined power.”

 

The redhead stared at the fey in human form puzzled, there was something she wasn’t understanding here.  She would almost swear that his eyes held an apology.  “Why couldn’t you go to Lord Oberon and ask that he do something about them?”

 

“That has been tried in the past,” he answered tensely, “but they have Lord Oberon’s favor, and are very skilled at explaining why their actions have not broken any of his commands.  The most he has ever done was to rebuke them before letting them go.  Afterward they have their own way of dealing with those foolish enough to bring their actions to his attention.”

 

Dominique’s eyes widened in understanding, “You didn’t dare bring it to Oberon’s attention because you were certain he wouldn’t do anything to them and you’re not strong enough to protect yourself from their retribution once he ignored the matter.”

 

“Correct,” Owen replied flatly, his eyes holding a hint of shame.

 

“Lovely,” Kendra replied, “I’m looking forward to meeting these three more every time I hear something new about them,” her tone was sarcastic, but it also held an edge of sincere threat.

 

The way both Owen Burnett’s and David Xanatos’ heads whipped around to stare at the black haired woman incredulously was almost comical if it hadn’t been for the fact that Dominique was worried that Kendra would give away too much information.

 

Kendra leaned back in her chair and smirked at them, “Just kidding,” she commented, managing to sound almost as if she meant it.

 

Dominique covered up her chuckle with a cough.  She wasn’t certain why Kendra was teasing the two men, but from the uncertain way they were eyeing her, the black haired woman was successfully keeping both of them off balance.  That was something the redhead would have thought couldn’t be done before this, and she certainly could turn it to her advantage.  “So are you going to inform them of what’s happened?” she asked Owen bluntly, pulling his attention abruptly back to her.

 

“No,” he replied immediately and without hesitation.  Dominique stared at him searchingly, looking for any sign of duplicity.  She knew from past experience that it was difficult to tell when Puck was being deceptive and when he wasn’t, but she believed he was being completely serious about this.

 

“What exactly has happened,” David Xanatos asked, “Goliath told us what Macbeth told them, but quite honestly that wasn’t much.  Are you and Macbeth still immortal?  Are you still bound to each other?”

 

She continued staring at Owen for a moment longer before shifting her gaze to Xanatos.  She needed to be careful how she answered him, what she was about to do was a trick he used himself quite frequently.  “The spirit removed all the fey enchantments upon us, so no we aren’t bound to one another anymore.  As for how long I will live,” she shrugged, “time will tell, personally I’m pleased that I’m still alive instead of dying when the enchantment was removed.”

 

“You gave up your immortality?” the dark haired man questioned again, clearly disbelieving her.

 

“I gave up being a puppet to the Weird Sisters,” she responded, letting her bitterness seep into her tone, “what is immortality worth when it comes at the cost of being controlled by them.”

 

He stared at her frowning, “Are you going after them?”

 

Dominique chuckled, “I’m quite certain I won’t need to,” she responded wryly, “they’ll come after us.”  Her gaze sharpened on Xanatos, “Which reminds me, I need you to take a message to Goliath for me…”

 

 

Almost Sunset - Wyvern Castle atop the Eyrie Building, Upper Manhattan

 

“Good job on bringing the conversation back around to the enchantment on the Canmores,” David thanked Owen as they stepped into the Eyrie Building elevator on their way up to the castle, “It hadn’t occurred to me that it was Detective Maza and not Macbeth that had mentioned that particular fact.”

 

The blonde man nodded, “It seemed prudent that Demona not realize we were less surprised by that news than we should have been if it were the first time we had heard of it.”  The dark haired man made a noise of agreement, but his expression was far away and thoughtful.  “Sir?” Owen questioned.

 

Xanatos gaze focused on him, “Just thinking of how Demona seemed today.”  He frowned, “Not that she didn’t have times that she seemed like her normal self, but overall did she seem rather,” the crease between his brows deepened briefly before fading into a look of confusion, “mellow,” he shook his head as if disbelieving he had even said the word, “to you today?” he glanced questioningly at Owen.

 

Owen raised an eyebrow, “Given the nature of the conversation, yes.  I would have expected her to be more…” his voice trailed off as he considered what particular word he wanted to use.

 

“Excited? Angry? Frothing?” Xanatos offered wryly.

 

The blonde man allowed himself a small smirk, “Yes.”

 

The frown returned, “That was my thought as well, usually when she’s that calm and thoughtful she’s planning something big.”

 

Owen observed, “Such as when she deceived you into believing that her immortality was due to her stealing seconds off everyone’s life and instead she turned the entire city into stone.”

 

“Exactly,” anger flashed in David’s dark eyes as he thought of how close he had come to losing Fox that night.

 

“I do not doubt that she is planning something,” Owen responded, “the question is who is her target this time.”

 

The elevator arrived at its uppermost destination and the doors opened onto the great hallway of the castle.  Both men stepped out and headed up toward the battlements, as they stepped out into the chill winter evening air, Xanatos finally responded, “The only ones she seems to be currently angry with are the Weird Sisters.”

 

“It does seem that way,” agreed Owen as they halted near the center of the castle battlements.

 

“Relieved?” questioned Xanatos with a grin.

 

“Actually, yes,” admitted the blonde man, “I would not like to have her angry with me at this particular time.”

 

It wasn’t quite yet dark; the gargoyles were still in their stone sleep upon their perches.  “Or Kendra Canmore,” the dark haired man added broodingly.

 

Owen nodded, “She did seem rather protective of Demona,” he agreed, his voice carefully free of any emotional undertones.

 

David gave a dry bark of laughter at this understatement, “That’s one way of putting it,” he commented remembering both the threatening way she had smiled at Owen before they ever went into Demona’s office and the chill warning glare the woman had given him for his sarcastic comment.  Of course, there had been that one moment when Demona’s face had softened and there had been an unmistakable warmth in her gaze when she looked at Kendra Canmore that had been very enlightening as well.  It hadn’t happened more than that once, and if he hadn’t already suspected they were lovers he probably wouldn’t have noticed it, but it had been enough to convince him that what Fox suspected was true.  The cracking of stone and the roars of awakening gargoyles interrupted his thoughts.  “Goliath,” Xanatos greeted the large male as he stepped down from his perch.

 

“Xanatos,” Goliath rumbled, coming up to him, “You met with Demona today?”  The other gargoyles jumped down from where they had perched during the day and came over to join them.  Goliath had told the rest of the clan about the conversation he and Lexington had with Xanatos, Fox and Owen immediately after it occurred, so they were curious as to what the two men had learned today.

 

“I want to hear this too,” a feminine voice called out and Fox came up the stairs carrying a well wrapped up Alexander in her arms.  She gave her husband an irritated look, “If Demona’s starting a war with the fey I want to know.”

 

“It appears to only be with three of them,” David gave his wife an apologetic glance for starting without her.

 

“The Weird Sisters,” Angela broke in a look of worry on her face.  She remembered only too clearly the two times she had come up against the three fey.  Neither experience had been pleasant, the first time they had been with the Archmage and using Demona and Macbeth to attack them upon Avalon and the second time they had tried to get Oberon to force the clan off the island.

 

Goliath glanced over at her, frowning at the clear look of worry on her face.  He turned back to Xanatos, “What did you learn?”

 

Xanatos glanced over at the fey in human form standing beside him, clearly indicating that it was his question to answer. 

 

“Demona no longer has any fey spells upon her.”  Owen said calmly, “Also, she’s now completely invisible to my magical senses,” his eyebrow rose, “as was Kendra Canmore,” he added.  Only Xanatos did not look completely surprised by this piece of information, Owen having informed him as soon as they left Nightstone.

 

“So Macbeth was telling the truth,” Angela focused upon what she saw as the most important thing Owen had said, shooting a triumphant look at Brooklyn.  The brick red male’s eyes glowed white and he opened his beaked mouth to respond.

 

Before the two could start arguing, Goliath interrupted, “Enough,” he rebuked both of them, his irritation at their behavior clear.

 

Xanatos glanced at his wife and son, “We learned quite a few things today, and it’s going to take awhile to go over everything so why don’t we go inside where it’s warm.”

 

Goliath followed his gaze to the young child, and he nodded approvingly.  Once they were all in the great hall, David pulled out a chair for Fox.  He waited until she seated herself before he continued, his hands resting lightly upon her shoulders, “Demona confirmed that the Canmores’ were enchanted to hunt her and any other gargoyle they came across.”  That caused a small stir among the gargoyles. 

 

“And as Owen said she has no fey spells on her anymore,” Xanatos continued, “so she’s no longer bound to Macbeth and she’s no longer immortal.”  He frowned, “Though I’m not certain that she wasn’t being deceptive about that.  What she specifically said was that time would tell how long she lived, she didn’t say outright that she wasn’t immortal anymore.”  He looked over at the blonde man questioningly.

 

“I noticed that as well,” confirmed Owen.  “It is possible that she does not know herself,” he said, “she did say that she was pleased to still be alive instead of dying as soon as the enchantment was removed.”  A distressed sound from Angela caused the blonde man to turn to her and add reassuringly, “She was not worried about it, so I’m certain she doesn’t expect that event to happen any time soon.”

 

“And her turning into a human during the day?” asked Lexington curiously after a moment when neither Xanatos nor Owen said anything else.

 

Owen responded promptly, “As I suspected, the spirit that removed the enchantments on her provided her an alternate way to become human during the day.”

 

The green gargoyle nodded in satisfaction at having all his questions answered.  It had never made sense to him why the spirit wouldn’t have removed the spells on Demona and Macbeth.

 

Xanatos looked around the room at the thoughtfully frowning gargoyle faces.  The clan all looked surprised at what had been learned so far, and what they had been told already wasn’t the most important piece of information he and Owen had learned today.  “Demona says she’s given up her quest to wipe out humanity,” he smirked in satisfaction as every head except for Owen’s blonde one turned abruptly his way.

 

Fox frowned up at him, “Are you joking?” she asked seeing his amusement.

 

He shook his head, “No I’m not, she told us that Nightstone was no longer in the business of helping humanity find better ways to kill itself.  Nightstone will continue to sell the weapons they’ve already developed but she’s halted their weapons research program.”

 

“That doesn’t mean she’s given up killing off every human on the planet,” growled Brooklyn.

 

“I thought about that as well,” Xanatos admitted, glancing over at the reddish gargoyle, “so I asked.  Demona now blames the Weird Sisters because of the enchantment they placed on the Canmores’ to make them hunt her and any other gargoyle they found.”

 

The way Brooklyn was looking at him made it was obvious that the gargoyle didn’t believe it, “And what about the Quarrymen,” he pointed out, “after she gets though being angry at the Weird Sisters she’ll decide she hates humans again.”

 

Xanatos shrugged, “Jon Canmore is leading the Quarrymen and he was enchanted, so that makes the Weird Sisters responsible for their actions as well.”

 

Angela glared at Brooklyn, for a moment before turning back to Xanatos, “She said she wasn’t going to continue trying to destroy humanity?”

 

“Not quite,” he admitted, “she said that she learned from the spirit that the justifications she thought she had for hating humanity weren’t true.”

 

“So she didn’t specifically say she wasn’t still trying to wipe out humanity,” Brooklyn stated, looking vindicated.

 

The young lavender female gave him a disgusted look before turning to her father, “Isn’t this what you wanted, a sign that she’s changed?”

 

Before the clan leader could respond David cleared his throat, Angela looked back at him, feeling her hopes drop when she saw the slight frown on his face.  “She gave us a message for Goliath,” the dark haired man looked over at the big lavender male gargoyle, “she said to keep the clan far away from her and Macbeth.  She doesn’t want any of you,” he glanced over at Angela, “to get hurt in the battle when the Weird Sisters come searching for them to find out why they aren’t under their control anymore.”

 

“No,” protested Angela, looking back at her father.

 

Fox frowned, “Does she really expect them to defy Oberon and leave Avalon?” she asked skeptically.

 

“They will,” Owen responded before Xanatos could, “they will not be pleased that the mortals they have had under their control for so long have found a way to escape them.  They will find a way to come after them to either bring them back under their control or kill them.”

 

Angela was still staring at her father trying to gauge what the frown on his face meant, but at the fey’s words she whipped her head around and looked at him, “But you said she can’t be enchanted anymore.”

 

The blonde man nodded, meeting the young females gaze calmly, “She knows they will try to kill her, that is the reason she does not want the clan to interfere.  She seemed very confident that she can defend herself against them, what I believe she fears is that she cannot defend both herself and the clan.”

 

The young female wrapped her wings tightly around herself, “How can she win against them alone,” she demanded, remembering how they had not been able to defeat the weakened Lord Oberon until Titania had given them the hint about using the sound of an iron bell against him.

 

“I believe Goliath informed the clan about the conversation of a few nights ago and the fate of the fey who attempted retribution against the humans who were protected as Demona is now?” Owen responded.

 

Angela nodded, “You think the spirit is watching out for them to attack her,” she realized, remembering what had been said, “and will send one of those creatures to protect her.”

 

“Neither she nor Kendra Canmore seemed very worried about it,” Xanatos spoke up, “in fact,” he added wryly, “I got the distinct impression that Ms. Canmore was actually looking forward to them appearing.”

 

“Very few of us will mourn their passing,” Owen commented, his voice distinctly cold.

 

That got the blond man startled looks from everyone but Xanatos, who knew why he had said it.  “Why would you say that?” asked Hudson curiously.  It was the first time he had spoken up, although he had been watching and listening closely to everything and had noticed the sympathetic look David Xanatos had given the fey after he made his statement.

 

“They are not kind to anyone,” Owen said after a moment, “fey or mortal.  The only one they bother to hide their true nature from is Lord Oberon, and his favor they actively seek, which is why they haven’t been punished for their actions before now.”

 

Goliath frowned, “I don’t understand,” he rumbled, “what other things have they done besides those we know of?”

 

“The spell Puck put on Demona to transform her into a human would have been only mildly uncomfortable, they’re the ones who altered it to be painful,” Xanatos said, “Demona wasn’t surprised.”  He looked down at Fox, “We don’t have to worry about her coming after Puck anymore, she accepted that he wasn’t the one responsible.”

 

“Well that’s a relief,” she said, “though these Weird Sisters are sounding more like real pieces of work the more I hear about them,” she commented glancing worriedly at Owen.

 

Lexington who had been listening to the conversation with a thoughtful frown on his face finally had to ask, “I don’t understand, if they don’t care about anyone then what were they doing the night that Demona turned humans into stone?” 

 

Brooklyn’s eyes flashed white at the mention of that night and he looked as if he were about to say something except Xanatos spoke first.  The dark haired man said with a frown, “I thought they were making sure she and Macbeth didn’t kill one another before they took them to Avalon.”

 

“Partially,” Owen responded, “but the entire night was likely carefully orchestrated by the Weird Sisters to accomplish exactly the outcome it did.”

 

Everyone stared at him in shock, including Xanatos and Fox.  Xanatos recovered first, “What do you mean?”

 

“I believe the gargoyles saw them multiple times that night?” the blond man questioned.

 

“We did,” Goliath confirmed.

 

“At the bank,” said Lexington.

 

“And on the street where Demona had been smashing humans,” added Brooklyn, his disgust with the ancient female evident in his tone.

 

“So what were they after,” asked Fox.

 

“Goliath permitting them to take Demona and Macbeth away when they offered to accept responsibility for them, that way they could legitimately claim to Lord Oberon that they were simply helping him when they enthralled them,” Owen answered in his calm unemotional voice.

 

“You mean they set the whole thing up just so that they could claim to be helping Goliath?” asked Broadway, shock in his tone.

 

“I have little doubt they did,” Owen confirmed, “as I said they are very skilled at making sure they have a reason for why their actions are not breaking Lord Oberon’s decrees.  They likely arranged for Demona to find the needed spell and informed Macbeth of what would happen so that he would be present to hunt her.  Then they made sure Goliath would prevent Macbeth and Demona from killing one another.”

 

“But why would they want her to do something so terrible?”  Angela asked, shocked.

 

“To ensure that Goliath would not object when they offered to take them away,” Owen replied as if it should be self evident, “they had to ensure that he would be so horrified and disgusted by her actions that he would not question what exactly they planned to do with them once they had them.”

 

The lavender male sank to his haunches, silent and looking utterly appalled.  It was true, he had been so revolted by Demona’s actions that he hadn’t cared what the three fey did to her, only that he didn’t have be responsible for deciding what to do with her.

 

Hudson stared at Goliath a moment before turning to the fey, “But how did they make sure Demona would act on it?”

 

Owen turned toward him, his face solemn, “I have no doubt that thanks to the Canmores’ Demona has many memories of the gargoyles they have killed over the centuries of her existence.  It would be a simple matter for them to torment her with those images until they were certain she would use the spell to exact a like revenge once it came into her hands.”

 

“Good God,” uttered Fox softly.  It wasn’t as if she and David hadn’t done some questionable things, but to torment Demona until she was thoroughly enraged and then send her out to kill people just to make sure you had a good excuse to keep yourself out of trouble…  “They really don’t care about us, not in the slightest.”

 

Xanatos stared down at her and his son a concerned frown on his face, “Are we ready for them in case they decide to attack the clan for any reason while trying to get to Demona and Macbeth,” he turned, looked toward Owen.  “And why didn’t you mention this before?” he asked annoyed.

 

The blonde man looked thoughtful, “I made a few modifications to the buildings defenses after Lord Oberon’s last attack, but I’ll go back over them with those three in mind.  As for why I haven’t mentioned it before this,” he looked embarrassed, “Until recently I hadn’t considered what the Weird Sisters had to gain from that night, so I didn’t realize that the events of the entire evening bore evidence of their interference.”

 

“We don’t know that any of this is true,” protested Brooklyn, unable to remain silent.  First this talk of Demona being forced to betray Macbeth and now this, he didn’t know how she was pulling this off, but why couldn’t they see this was all another scheme of hers.

 

“You are correct, I do not know for certain if what I have said is true, but I have witnessed them do very similar things in the past,” Owen assured him stiffly.  His eyes went toward the large bluish-green skinned gargoyle, “As Broadway would say, it fits their modus operandi.”

 

Broadway looked distinctly taken aback by his comment.

 

“It does not matter,” Goliath finally spoke as he straightened to his full height.  “Demona and I are in agreement on this matter,” his lips twisted in a grimace as he said this, “Since she is certain that we would make her defense more difficult and you are certain that the Weird Sisters will seek her out, we will do as she asks and stay away from her until this matter is resolved.”

 

“But that could take years,” protested Angela, referring to the time difference between here and Avalon.

 

“Doubtful,” Owen responded to her in a dry tone, “the Weird Sisters have undoubtedly already realized that something has happened to their playthings and are even now planning a way to legitimately leave Avalon to find out what has happened to them.”

 

Angela objected loudly, “Mother is not their plaything!”

 

Xanatos gave her a sympathetic look, “Even Demona referred to herself as their puppet,” he said quietly.

 

The young female gave him a wild despairing look out of dark eyes that were welling with tears and then turned away and headed rapidly toward the battlements

 

“Angela,” Goliath called after her commandingly, his tone worried.

 

She paused at the stairs, “I’m not going anywhere,” she called back, her voice bitter and betraying her tears.  Broadway gave them all a concerned look before he turned and followed her up the stairs.

 

A deep sigh from Goliath as he watched his daughter leave, drew Hudson’s attention.  The younger lavender gargoyle looked at the older one, “Mentor, how could I have misjudged things so badly?”

 

“What do you mean?” asked Hudson frowning.

 

“First I let them take Macbeth and Demona without questioning what they meant to do with them and then I let them take their memories of that time away from them.  They claimed it would only harm them to remember, but after their attack on our clan’s children why did I believe their words?”

 

The old gargoyle sighed, “They fooled Demona and Macbeth as well, from what Puck is saying it’s something they are very good at.  The only thing you can do is remember and be wary of anything they say or do in the future.”

 

Out on the battlements.

 

“Angela?” Broadway asked hesitantly as he approached her.

 

The young lavender female turned toward him and threw herself into his arms, “I can’t believe that Father is ordering us to stay away when she needs us the most.  You heard what Xanatos said what she called herself, you know how proud she is, how hard it had to have been for her to admit that.”

 

He wrapped his arms and wings around her, looking down at her worriedly, “Yes,” he agreed.  He did know how proud Demona was, but that didn’t mean he was entirely certain this wasn’t just a very elaborate scheme by her and it wouldn’t end with Angela being hurt even more.

 

“We have each other,” she looked up at him sorrowfully, “but she has no one.”  She pulled a little away from him, “When all this started I was certain that she had something planned, that she would find me and try and persuade me to join her in whatever it was just like she always has in the past.”  She looked up at him, “But she hasn’t tried, she hasn’t made any attempt to find me at all, and now when I want to go to her both she and father are ordering me not to.”

 

Broadway sighed, “She cares about you, even with everything she’s done she’s always tried to protect you if you were in danger.  If she really thinks those fey are going to come after her then she’s not going to want you to be near her.”

 

“I know,” Angela admitted staring out over the city sadly, “but I still think this is the time she needs someone to show they care about her the most.”

 

 

Later that Night – Xanatos’ Office, Eyrie Building, Upper Manhattan

 

“Should we have mentioned that we suspect Kendra Canmore and Demona are lovers?” Fox asked David, “Angela’s pretty upset about her.”

 

He glanced over at her; she was slouched deeply within her leather chair, her green eyes serious.  “They looked shocked enough as it was,” he responded, “Maybe in a few days after they’ve recovered from tonight we can spring that on them.”  He leaned back in his chair, “After seeing them together today I am convinced that they are lovers.”  Fox straightened, and stared at him curiously, “Kendra Canmore is very protective of Demona, and Demona…I’ll admit if I hadn’t suspected already I doubt I would have noticed it, but she looked at Kendra once during the meeting and her feelings for her were rather obvious.  It was all I could do to not show my surprise when I realized that what we suspected was actually true,” he confessed with a boyish grin.

 

Her eyes brightened with interest, “Really,” she commented.

 

His grin widened, “If anything judging on the way she looked I’d say Demona’s definitely in love with her.”

 

Fox took a moment to absorb this piece of information, “A human woman who’s also a Canmore,” she shook her head, “things really have changed in Demona’s life recently haven’t they,” she said musingly.  She focused on him, “What else did you notice?” she asked, sensing from David’s smugness that he still had more to share.

 

David smirked, “That Demona seemed pretty mellow today.”

 

He saw his wife’s lips move as she repeated the word to herself silently, “Demona?”  She stared at him suspiciously, seeing the redhead laugh so unrestrainedly in the restaurant had been shocking enough, but describing her as mellow was pushing it.

 

He chuckled at her expression, “I even asked Owen if he had noticed the same thing and he agreed with me.  We were both surprised, especially since the conversation we were having should have triggered that temper of hers a few times.”

 

“Well, well,” she commented, an amused smirk forming on her own lips, “I wonder what exactly we can take that to mean.”

 

David laughed softly, “That even with everything that’s going on she’s one very satisfied gargoyle?”

 

Fox joined him in his laughter, “That would be my guess,” she agreed.

 

 
 
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