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Discussions - Chapter 20

 
 
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Discussions - Chapter 20

 

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: None

 

Notes:   This is now definitely an AU story if it was not before since I have altered the events of an episode.  Dominique Destine’s home, and the character’s Candice and Gregory are from ‘The Gargoyles Saga’ world and adapted for use in this story.  Michael or Nostradamus is a character from the TimeDancer Saga: The Devil's Deal by Kathy Pogge and The Gargoyles Saga: Prophets and Angels by Patrick Toman with Alison Wilgus.

 

Rating:  Teen

 

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: 11/23/08

 

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Tuesday, December 30th 1997

 

Morning – Nightstone Unlimited HQ, Lower East Side Manhattan

 

“I can’t believe they won’t tell her if her husband donated sperm there when he was younger or not.”  What an odd conversation to overhear, Dominique thought with a bemused frown as she poured herself some coffee.

 

“It’s so unfair, all she wants is a chance to have the child they were trying for before Donald disappeared during the Lost Night,” a second feminine voice responded.

 

Child…Lost Night…unbidden the memory of her determined glee as she smashed the stone humans with her mace reducing them to rubble flashed in Dominique’s mind…the coffee cup slipped from the redhead’s hand shattering spectacularly on the linoleum floor of the break room and splashing hot coffee over her pumps and stocking covered legs.  Forcefully pulled from her memories by the pain, Dominique hissed, biting back the very unprofessional curse she wanted to make.

 

“Ms. Destine!  Are you alright, are you burnt?” it was the first woman’s voice she had overheard.

 

“I’m fine,” she answered tersely, staring down at the broken cup and coffee splattered all over the floor.  Looking up she caught the uncertain, wary expression on the woman’s face.  Dominique recognized that the woman was one of the head accountants in Mr. William’s department, but she didn’t know the woman’s name.  She exhaled silently, regaining some control over her emotions, enough to explain in a calmer tone, “It wasn’t hot enough to burn me.”

 

“Oh, Ms. Destine,” the dismayed voice behind her belonged to her secretary, “I’ll get something to clean that up, your meeting is in only five minutes.”

 

Dominique grimaced, that had been why she was getting coffee, “Yes I know it is, and thank you Candice,” she answered, pushing the conversation that she had overheard out of her mind.  She couldn’t afford to think about it, or the surge of memories and guilt that had overwhelmed her right now.  She was expected at a meeting between her R&D Division and Xanatos Enterprises R&D Division during which they would determine what each company would contribute to their proposed joint subsidiary, Aegis Armor Manufacturing.  

 

The redhead accepted the stack of paper towels handed to her by her secretary, and bent to pat dry her stockings and shoes.  As she straightened, Dominique noticed that the two women who had been talking had already left.

 

“I’ll get you another cup and bring it into the meeting,” Candice offered.

 

“Thank you Candice, I’d appreciate that,” Dominique said as she tossed the towels into the trash and glanced at her watch.  She had just enough time now to make it to the conference room.

 

An hour later Dominique watched as the men and women around the table gathered up their papers, “Is there anything else you needed Ms. Destine?”  Candice inquired.

 

“No,” the redhead responded quietly, “you can go.”

 

The dark skinned woman stared at her employer, a slight frown of puzzlement crossing her features.  “I’ll have my notes typed up for you in an hour or so Ms. Destine.”

 

The redhead nodded, not really looking at her, and after a few seconds Candice gathered up her notes and left the conference room.  She paused at the door to look back; Ms. Destine was still sitting at the conference table looking out the large window at the city.  The redheaded woman hadn’t seemed quite right since she dropped her cup of coffee earlier.  Candice shook her head uneasily and headed back to her desk, her expression brightened as she saw who was standing beside it looking through a folder.  “Ms. Canmore, Ms. Destine is in the conference room,” she said to the woman in the tailored black business suit as she walked up. 

 

Puzzled blue eyes stared at her, “The meeting’s not over yet?” the black haired woman glanced at the watch on her wrist.

 

Candice lowered her voice, “It is, but Ms. Destine hasn’t left the room yet, I think she’s the last one in there now.”  Kendra’s gaze sharpened on her briefly before the woman nodded abruptly, turned on her heel and headed toward the conference room.  The African American woman watched the black haired woman step into the conference room with a feeling of relief.  If anyone could help Ms. Destine with whatever was troubling her it would be Ms. Canmore. 

 

She would have never guessed that Ms. Destine was gay, but after the Christmas Party, only the most blind and obtuse person would have missed the fact that the two women were a couple.  Candice shook her head, and to think she had thought it was the distinguished looking Mr. McDuff that had caused such a change in Ms. Destine instead of the woman who had been kidnapped and spent ten days in the Canadian wilderness with her.  She smirked as she sat down at her desk, at least everyone in the building now knew why Ms. Destine had been in such a good mood once she got back instead of on a wrathful rampage as people had expected.

 

Kendra stared at the redhead staring out the window; she could tell by the slump in Dominique’s shoulders that her mate was upset about something.  She turned and closed the door behind her; the sound was enough to alert the redhead that there was someone else in the room with her.  Dominique turned an irritated expression on her face that faded as soon as she realized who was in the room with her.

 

“Hey, what’s wrong?”  Kendra asked softly as she walked over to the redhead.

 

Dominique sighed, “Sometimes I wish I could go back and change the past, stop myself from doing some of the things I did.”

 

Kendra took the chair next to the redhead, staring at her searchingly for a moment before asking, “Something in particular?”

 

Dominique exhaled another long sigh before nodding, she looked toward the closed door, “This isn’t the best place to discuss this,” she commented quietly.

 

The black haired woman’s blue-eyed gaze sharpened upon her briefly before Kendra commented quietly, “Your office?”

 

Dominique nodded, “That would be best for this conversation.”

 

Kendra rose, held out her hand and with a brief smile that lightened her expression the redhead accepted it.  Dominique didn’t notice the relieved look on Candice’s face as they passed by the secretaries desk, but Kendra did and filed it away to consider at another time.  Dominique walked immediately over to her desk and pressed the button underneath it to lock the outer office before opening the door into the control room behind her office.  Kendra’s eyebrow raised at the indication that her mate wanted complete privacy before discussing what was bothering her.

 

Dominique turned around and met the black haired woman’s gaze, a haunted, sad expression in her green eyes.  “I was getting a cup of coffee before the meeting this morning and I overheard two women talking,” she began as soon as the hidden door closed behind them and went on to repeat exactly what she had heard the two women say.  “I cannot give her back her mate,” Dominique said quietly, her voice pained.  “I took him from her and along with him their future children.”  Kendra’s eyes widened as she realized why this was hitting Dominique so hard, it had only been a few days ago that the Ancient One had informed them that they would be able to have a child together.  “I wish I had never cast that spell,” the redhead said bitterly, her tone full of self-loathing.  “I wish I had never killed those humans.”

 

Kendra didn’t know quite what to say, she had hoped that Demona at some point would feel some empathy with those she had destroyed that night and the families they had left behind wondering what had happened to their loved ones.  Understanding at an emotional level why what she had done was so wrong, was the best guarantee that the scarlet haired gargoyle would never be tempted to repeat her actions.  However, the black haired woman hadn’t considered that along with the empathy and emotional understanding there would be this poisonous self-hatred.  Kendra crossed the distance between them and drew her hurting mate into her arms.  She pulled Dominique closer against her body and pressed her lips against the redhead’s temple.  “I wish you hadn’t either,” Kendra finally said, “both for their sake and your own.  I don’t like to see you hurting like this and I don’t want you to hate yourself over what happened that night.”  The redhead struggled and pushed away from her, and reluctantly Kendra let her go with a concerned frown.

 

“I killed them,” Dominique stated harshly, her green eyes blazing.  She looked like she was about to go into a full-blown rant against herself.

 

Kendra interrupted before the redhead could say anything else, “And the Weird Sisters were behind it, doing what they do best, tormenting and manipulating you and Macbeth until you did exactly what they wanted,” she stated flatly.  The redhead stared at her, what she had been about to say obviously derailed by the reminder.  “Have you forgotten exactly why that night happened?”  Kendra asked in a softer tone.

 

Dominique’s green eyes dropped, “No,” she reluctantly admitted.

 

“I know you don’t want to remember what they did to you.”  The black haired woman paused, her next words, no matter how true they were, were certain to anger Dominique, she just didn’t know how much.  “How they treated you like an animal in a cage, goading you with sticks until you were maddened enough with pain that they were certain you would lash out just like they wanted and then they handed that spell to you and set you lose.”

 

The redhead glared at her, her slender hands clenched into fists and her jaw set.  Hurt and anger mingling in her green eyes, “I am not an animal in a cage,” she hissed.

 

“No, you’re not,” Kendra agreed forcefully and Dominique’s eyes widened slightly in surprise, “Treating any living thing like they treated you is wrong and cruel.”  The black haired woman took in a breath before continuing in a calmer tone, “It’s why we stand against those fey who treat mortals the way the Weird Sisters treated you, and why I and the Ancient One have already forgiven you for what you did that night,” she finished gently.  “Don’t you remember that I’ve already forgiven you?”  Kendra asked softly.

 

The hurt and anger in Dominique’s green eyes faded, her clenched hands relaxed, “No, I haven’t forgotten.”

 

This time the redhead didn’t pull away when Kendra drew her back into her arms.  The black haired woman took one pale hand in hers and placed it on her chest over her heart.  Staring into Dominique’s green eyes, Kendra said, “I love you.  I don’t like seeing you attack yourself, it hurts me.”  Dominique stared up at her, the redhead’s eyes becoming suspiciously bright before she tucked her head into Kendra’s shoulder.  Kendra heard Dominique draw in a deep breath and release it and then Dominique’s arms wrapped around her waist as the redhead finally returned her embrace.  “Is there some way to help her?”  Kendra asked hesitantly.  “I know it won’t be legal, but I agree with those two women, it’s wrong for them to keep that information from her.”

 

Kendra felt Dominique shift in her arms; the redhead was still for a moment and then lifted her head from Kendra’s shoulder.  Dominique looked up into the blue eyes of her mate, “There should be,” she said determinedly.

 

 

Night – Wyvern Castle atop the Eyrie Building, Upper Manhattan

 

“Goliath, you wanted to talk to me?”  David Xanatos got up from his seat, came around his desk and then leaned against it as he gave the clan leader a curious look.  The lavender male caped his wings around himself looking uneasy, and Xanatos’ eyebrow raised at the gargoyle’s behavior.  Goliath didn’t generally allow himself to show any uncertainty around him.

 

“I need to speak to Demona,” Goliath finally stated, his dark eyes meeting Xanatos’ brown ones.

 

David’s eyebrows rose even more, “You want her telephone number?”

 

“Yes,” rumbled the lavender male, his eyes narrowed slightly as he frowned at the human male’s surprise.

 

Xanatos stared at Goliath for a few seconds before responding, “Give me a moment to look it up for you,” he straightened from where he had been leaning against the edge of the desktop and going back around the desk to sit in his chair.  After a minute or so at the keyboard of his computer, Xanatos grabbed a pad of paper and a pen and wrote down the number.  “That’s her home number,” he tore off the sheet and handed it to lavender male.

 

Goliath accepted it, looking at the number for a moment before returning his attention to Xanatos, “Thank you.”

 

“You’re welcome,” David replied, “what did you want to speak to her about?” he asked before the lavender male could turn and leave.

 

The Manhattan clan leader paused, his fingers tightened on the piece of paper bending it.  “What steps she must take to be accepted back into the clan once again,” Goliath said and Xanatos’ dark eyes widened in surprise at the answer.

 

 

Evening – Roof of Nightstone Unlimited HQ, Lower East Side Manhattan

 

“Goliath,” Demona politely, but coolly greeted her ex mate as she landed on the roof of Nightstone.  He had refused to tell her exactly why he wanted to talk to her and she was feeling rather annoyed at him for disrupting her plans for the evening by insisting that they meet tonight.

 

“Demona,” his eyes narrowed slightly as he took in the signs of her obvious impatience, the tenseness of her wings and the rapid twitch of her tail.

 

She waited for a few seconds for him to speak, but as he just continued staring at her she demanded, “Well what couldn’t wait?  I’ve got other things I wanted to do tonight other than stand here and stare at each other.”

 

“Such as?”  He asked sounding suspicious.

 

Her brow ridge rose at his tone, “Spending time with Robert and Rachael, practicing with Kendra.  I’ve got at least another hour of reading reports I need to get done, and I’d like to be in bed by eleven tonight so I can get enough sleep before I have to wake up at six o’clock to get ready to go to work.”  She rattled off the list quickly, her tone terse.  She decided not to mention that she was practicing dancing with Kendra, after all it was none of his business and she was annoyed that he seemed to think she was spending her time planning something nefarious instead of living her life.

 

“Sleep?” the lavender male looked slightly dumbfounded, during her two months of captivity Demona had mostly slept during the day and was active at night.  He hadn’t considered that might have changed over the months since then.

 

She sighed, “Goliath I work from eight in the morning until five or six in the evening Monday through Friday.  I have to sleep at night; I have a company and over a thousand workers depending upon my being awake and functioning during the day.”

 

The lavender male stared at her, looking troubled, “I wanted to speak with you about patrolling with the clan for a few nights every week.  It would allow the clan to get used to you being around them once again and allow you to show them that you have truly changed now that the Weird Sisters spells are no longer influencing you.”

 

Demona’s eyes were wide with surprise by the time Goliath finished, and she stared at him for several silent seconds after he finished speaking.  Finally, she responded, “You want me to rejoin the clan?” she asked, sounding disbelieving.

 

He shifted uncomfortably, “If all goes well that is a possibility.”

 

Demona took a breath, looked ready to speak and then exhaled without saying anything.  She turned and looked away from him out over the city, her expression thoughtful.  After few seconds, she glanced back over at him, “I cannot, Goliath, I have too many responsibilities, too many demands on my time to join the clan,” she said quietly.  Before he could recover from his shock at her turning down his offer she continued, “And quite honestly I could never accept you as my clan leader.”  The scarlet haired gargoyle stared at him regretfully, “The last few years we were together I chafed at having to follow your orders as your mate and second in command.”  She shook her head, “That was over nine hundred years ago, there’s certainly no chance of me managing it now,” she said her tone becoming sardonic.

 

“You do not want to rejoin the clan?” he asked disbelievingly, it had never occurred to him that she would not want to once given the opportunity.

 

“No Goliath I don’t,” she stated, meeting his gaze frankly.  “I have my own life and responsibilities that fill my days and nights.  Besides,” she commented in a lighter tone, “I’m certain that Brooklyn and your mate would prefer not to have me around.”

 

Goliath frowned, not really understanding why she seemed so insistent on believing this, “Elisa is not my mate,” he stated forcefully, crossing his arms over his chest.

 

She stared at him disbelievingly.  “Don’t lie to me Goliath.  I’ve seen the way you are around her and I’ve certainly noticed how she looked at you from the very beginning right after the clan was awakened,” she sounded annoyed.

 

“I am attracted to her and she is clan,” he admitted, “but she is not my mate,” the lavender male stated, knowing that he sounded defensive.

 

She stared at him, disbelief still evident, finally though, after staring at his crossed arms and defensive expression intently for several seconds, she began to look as if she believed him.  Oddly, she snorted, turned around with a strangled sounding laugh and walked a few feet away shaking her head.  He stared at her back confused by her behavior as she stared out at the city, after a few seconds she declared, “The universe has a sense of humor.”  The way she said it, it sounded like a statement of fact.  Goliath frowned puzzled by her comment and manner.  Several seconds passed in silence before she turned sharply back around to face him, “Why isn’t she your mate?” she demanded.  He stared at her dumbfounded, Angela had told him that Demona had said she wasn’t interested in him anymore and didn’t care if he and Elisa were mates, but he hadn’t really believed it.

 

She looked him up and down, “It would take some care and control on your part not to hurt her during sex, but it’s not as if you can’t physically be her mate.  Humans and gargoyles aren’t incompatible that way,” she waved her hand towards his groin, “You’re rather well endowed, but you’re not that large,” she commented with a knowing smirk.

 

“Demona,” he strangled out his ex-mates name in protest, as she looked ready to say more.  He could hardly believe they were having this conversation, especially given how furious she had been in the past about the idea of him being with a human.  “The reason Elisa and I are not mates is none of your concern.”

 

His ex mate stared at him with narrowed eyes, “I hope it’s not because she cannot give you an egg.  If that matters more to you than your feelings for her, then they’re obviously not as strong as I had thought and you need to let her know there’s no chance for you to be together so she can find a human mate.”

 

“I will not discuss this with you,” he growled, stung by her words.  It was not only because Elisa could not give him an egg, he could also not give her the child she deserved.

 

If anything, his response only caused her to look at him even more searchingly, “Very well, but keep in mind that human women don’t have as long as gargoyle females to find a mate and have their young.  If you’re not going to take her as your mate, you shouldn’t hold onto her.  Human women only have twenty to twenty five years of fertility not forty to sixty.”

 

“I know,” growled, his voice rising, betraying his emotion.

 

Demona’s eyes widened slightly and her expression softened becoming less analytical, more sympathetic.  “You do not want to deny her children,” she stated.  She looked away over the city, he heard her sigh as she caped her wings around herself, “The topic of children seems to be coming up frequently these days,” she murmured quietly, sounding more as if she were talking to herself than him.  Her tail twitched forcefully this way and that as she stared out over the city a deep frown etched on her face. 

 

He stared at her; this conversation had gone nothing like what he had expected.  He had certainly not expected her to turn down his offer, nor had he ever thought she and he would be discussing his relationship with Elisa, at least not without such a discussion involving her screaming at him and threatening the human woman.  She turned her head and met his gaze, “You never know what is possible in the future Goliath, human science is progressing at a rapid rate and it might be possible in a few years for a human and gargoyle to have a child with some assistance.”  Goliath’s jaw dropped slightly in his astonishment as the conversation with his ex-mate became even more unreal to him, Demona actually seemed to be encouraging him to take Elisa as his mate.  “Besides, have you even asked her whether she wants to have children?” she questioned.  Goliath gave her an incredulous look, what female didn’t want to have children?

 

Demona sighed, “Goliath it’s not unusual for human couples to decide to remain childless for various reasons.  You should ask her how she feels about it instead of assuming that she feels the same way you do.  That was one of the problems in our relationship, you assumed that I felt the same way as you, but that was hardly ever the case.”  Her tone wasn’t angry nor had her voice risen, if anything, she looked slightly introspective as she made the statement.

 

An odd feeling came over Goliath as he stared into Demona’s eyes and realized that she truly no longer wanted him.  It had taken him months after the clan had reawakened to come to terms with the fact that even though she still wanted him, she was also willing to kill him unless he joined her war on humanity.  Any remaining love he had had for her had died the night she turned the cities humans to stone and smashed them, and now it seemed that the reverse was true as well. 

 

He exhaled a deep breath, relief rising strongly within him, a concern he hadn’t allowed himself to realize he had now answered.  For several months after they had awakened from the Magus’s spell, he had hoped she would forsake her hatred to rejoin the clan, to rejoin him as his mate.  It was only after she had attacked him and the clan again and again, had tricked and betrayed him several times that he had given up on their relationship.  He knew that Brooklyn and the others had not understood why he had tried so hard to reach Demona, but one did not just stop being mates.  Gargoyles did not divorce, only death separated a couple once they were mated.  The separation between Demona and he was unique and unprecedented as far as he knew, but he had eventually come to terms with it.  Then they had learned that her behavior toward the clan had been the result of the Weird Sisters spells upon her and suddenly all his certainty had disappeared.  If the spells on her had been responsible for her attacking him, if they had made her driving him and the clan away so that she would be alone as the Archmage wanted…then what right did he have to decide that they were no longer mates when she had not been responsible for her actions? 

 

“You do not wish us to be mates,” Goliath stated, his relief apparent in his tone.

 

Her eyes widened and she stared at him incredulously, “What?”

 

He shifted uneasily under her disbelieving stare, “You drove me and the clan away because of the spells the Weird sisters placed upon you.  All of the things that you did that…”

 

“Goliath,” she interrupted him firmly, “I don’t love you anymore.”  His jaw tightened at the bluntness of her statement.  Demona stared at him for a moment before sighing and turning away from him to stare out over the city looking lost in thought.  “Honestly I’m not certain now that I loved you three years ago when you reawakened or if it were the fact that I had waited so very long to see you once again that I didn’t allow myself to consider that I didn’t anymore.  Five hundred years of telling myself things would be perfect once the spell on the clan was broken, that I just had to hold on until then and not let Macbeth find me…” her voice trailed off.  “Habit, even habit of thought, dies very slowly,” she commented pensively.

 

He stared at her profile, lit by the lights of the city behind her, thinking about what she had said.  “How did you know when we would reawaken?”  The question had been bothering him ever since Angela had mentioned that Demona had known when the spell would be broken.

 

“Michael told me,” she replied, her face turning toward him, “he was a friend of mine in the early 1500’s.  I was in France and he found me dying from the Black Death for the…fifth or sixth time I think, and nursed me back to health.  He had the gift of foresight and was able to tell me of Xanatos and to look for him in the New World on an island of glass and steel in the year 1993.”

 

The lavender male blinked once, his eye ridge lowering in puzzled disbelief, “A human friend?”

 

“Yes, a human friend,” Demona repeated his words with an amused smile as she saw his expression.  She sighed her smile fading, “It was unusual that I took the time to make a friend over the centuries, the Weird Sisters made sure of that, Michael was a rare exception.”  She fell silent for several seconds, her expression melancholy as she looked past him, “I still miss him,” she admitted, “even though he’s been dead for almost five hundred years now.”  She drew in a deep breath visibly pulling herself out of her memories, “Now that I know what was actually going on, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out the Weird Sisters had a hand in our meeting.  I suspect they were tired of keeping Macbeth and I apart so that we didn’t kill each other before they needed us.  After Michael’s prophecy, I had something to live for again.  I stopped searching for Macbeth and started evading him instead.  I’ve no doubt it made things much easier for them,” she remarked evenly.

 

Goliath stared at his ex-mate, taking in her calm thoughtfulness despite the grim topic of their conversation.  Elisa had mentioned how much calmer she seemed now.  He hadn’t really had the opportunity to notice it the night she and Kendra had helped free him from the Illuminati, but he was certainly noticing it tonight.  Calm, thoughtful, composed, in control: it had occurred to him before now how very long she had lived, tonight though he was acutely aware of it.  Demona was far older than the eldest elder the clan had ever had, and tonight, despite the youthfulness of her features he was seeing the wisdom of those years in her eyes instead of the anger he had become so used to seeing. 

 

He realized with a sense of shock that as familiar as the shape and face was, he did not know the scarlet haired female in front of him.  Macbeth’s words that Demona could not be the gargoyle he remembered as his Angel of the Night, not after over nine centuries of existence, rose in his mind and he could now see the truth of them.  The Weird Sister’s spells, spells which Puck had indicated had controlled Demona’s thoughts and emotions, had locked his ex-mate into a cycle of anger and revenge, now that they were gone it seemed that the angry vengeful Demona he had awoken to was gone as well.

 

He finally noticed that his ex-mate was giving him an intently curious look, “Why are you staring at me so strangely Goliath?”

 

“You are not as I remember you,” he answered, profoundly disconcerted by that fact.

 

She tilted her head slightly to the side as she regarded him intently for a long moment, “No,” she finally responded, “I am no longer the gargoyle you knew when we were mates,” her lips curved in a slight smile and her eyes lightened, “nor am I the same as I was even two months ago.”

 

She did not seem the slightest bit bothered by the fact and somehow that too was disturbing to him.  “Let someone else take over your duties during the day and patrol with us, it will not take the others very long to realize that you are not the same as you were.”  The words were out of his mouth before he had even fully considered them, but he would not take them back.  The clan needed to grow, and now that she was no longer trying to find a way to destroy the humans, surely she didn’t need the company she and Thailog had started.

 

He could see that his insistence surprised her by the way her eyes widened, and then she frowned.  “No Goliath, I can’t do that.  Not only do I not want to, but I vowed to fulfill the tasks given to me by the spirit who helped me, and turning over management of Nightstone to another would mean breaking one of those vows.”  Now it was his turn to be surprised, she hadn’t mentioned anything before about the spirit requiring something from her in exchange for its help. 

 

Her expression and tone softened, “I owe him far too much to disappoint him by failing at the tasks he asked me to accept.  He’s been there for me through all of this,” her tone became more emotion filled, “supporting and encouraging me…”  Her voice faltered, she turned abruptly away from him and Goliath had the feeling that she was hiding her distress from him.  The lavender male hesitantly held out his hand toward her turned back, wondering if he should go to her, but before he could decide what to do she started speaking once again, “I know I wouldn’t be doing anywhere near as well as I am without his and Kendra’s unfaltering support,” Demona sounded quite serious.  She lowered her head, “Honestly, I don’t know if I would have chosen to continue living after learning everything the Weird Sisters did to me if it weren’t for the spirit and Kendra,” she admitted quietly.

 

Goliath drew in a shocked breath.  He had been more concerned with how Brooklyn and Angela were acting and trying to figure out if Demona was plotting an exceptionally elaborate scheme to manipulate the clan into trusting her, than wondering how his ex-mate was managing if what Macbeth had told them was actually the truth.  Certainly, the thought that she might be depressed enough to willingly end her life had never crossed his mind.  “I did not realize,” he said uneasily, thinking of how Angela had kept pressing him to let her contact her mother.

 

A few more seconds passed before Demona turned back towards him, “It’s all right,” she said a crooked, wry smile on her lips.  “You could hardly trust that I was telling the truth, not after all the lies I’ve told the clan over the past few years.”  Goliath could see the regret in her eyes, he finally took a step towards her meaning to offer comfort, but she shook her head and held up a warding hand, “I’m fine,” her voice held a hint of command that stopped him.  She let out a light sigh, the hand that she had raised to stop him from getting any closer fell back to her side and her expression softened, “Though I do appreciate the gesture given how many times I’ve attacked you over the past three years,” she said ruefully.

 

Goliath stared at her; he didn’t know quite what to say.  He still thought that she should try to become a part of the clan once again despite her doubts about being able to accept him as clan leader, but the situation between Demona and the spirit that had helped her was obviously more complicated than even Macbeth suspected.  “What are these tasks he asked of you and what would happen to you if you failed?” he asked frowning.

 

She raised her brow at him, “Nothing bad,” she replied, “He asked me to accept them, he didn’t demand it.  I simply don’t want to fail.”  Her gaze shifted from him to the building underneath them briefly and then rose to meet his again, “Fulfilling my vows to him means a lot to me,” she said quietly but emphatically.  “At first I believed the tasks he asked of me were meant to allow me to atone for some of the things I had done in the past.  They do allow me to do that, but I’ve come to see that is only a small part of the reason he asked me to do them,” she remarked looking introspective.  The lavender male frowned, uncertain what his ex-mate meant.  Demona pointed downward at the building they were standing upon, “Do you know how many humans work for me in this building?”

 

Confused, Goliath glanced down at where she was pointing; he frowned what did this have to do with the tasks the spirit had required of her, “No,” he answered impatiently.

 

“One thousand, four hundred and thirty-seven, 1437 humans that I pay a salary to, 1437 humans and their families that I provide health insurance and other benefits for, that I pay life and disability insurance premiums for in case they die or become permanently disabled.  1437 humans that depend on me to keep Nightstone Unlimited running and showing a profit so that they can remain employed and pay their mortgages or rent, their car payments, buy food, buy gas, pay their heating and cooling bills, pay for daycare for their children.”  She paused to take a breath, “1437 humans that the spirit asked me to treat fairly and justly, and to make sure that they are well cared for when they are injured or ill.”

 

Goliath was dumbfounded, even when she was younger and didn’t dislike humans she hadn’t made any particular attempt to be friendly with them either.  The idea of her willingly accepting responsibility for the welfare of over a thousand humans was unbelievable; except for one thing, she had just stated that she had.

 

“Surprised speechless Goliath?”  Demona asked with a wry smile as he continued staring at her as if she had sprouted a second head.

 

The lavender male’s brow lowered in a frown, “The spirit asked you to care for these humans?” his tone was doubtful and it was obvious that he was having difficulty accepting the idea.

 

“The spirit asked me to become a wise steward and protector of my domain and my domain includes my employees,” Demona stated, the smile on her lips growing.  “So yes, the spirit asked me to care for the humans that work for me.”  Her brow rose, “I’ll even go as far as to say I’ve made a rather good start of it in the past month.  My employees no longer cringe in terror and try to find something to do elsewhere when I visit the different departments.”

 

Goliath stared at her, taken aback by her levity.  “Nightstone is your protectorate?” he asked his voice rising on the last word, which was spoken in disbelief.

 

The flame haired female’s eyes narrowed in irritation, “Yes Nightstone is my protectorate,” she snapped back at him with a lash of her tail, “and more.  So you see why I will not turn its management over to someone else to do a neighborhood watch patrol with the clan, especially since, as I said before, I’m not interested in rejoining the clan.”

 

“Gargoyles need to belong to a clan,” the Manhattan clan leader growled.  Despite the fact that she had told him multiple times tonight that she didn’t want to rejoin the clan, he couldn’t believe she actually meant it.  Gargoyles were not supposed to be alone, that was why banishment from the clan was considered the harshest punishment.  It was inconceivable to him that she wouldn’t want to rejoin a clan when she had the opportunity.

 

“Goliath I’ve been clanless for almost nine hundred years,” Demona said dryly, “I suspect I can survive a while longer without one.  Besides it’s not as if I’m alone anymore, I’ve got Kendra, Rachael, Robert, Macbeth for human friends and of course the spirit is also always there for me if I need him.  It may not be a clan like what you’re used to, but I’m finding that it suits me very well.”

 

This was beginning to make more sense to him, “With you as the clan leader,” he said, his eyes narrowing in disapproval.

 

Demona met his eyes serenely, “No, I’m not the clan leader of anyone, not even Robert.”

 

Goliath stared at her, searching for any sign of duplicity, but he could see none.  Of course, she had successfully hidden her lies from him before so he didn’t quite trust himself to know if she were lying to him or not.  Little of what she had said to him tonight made sense to him.  She didn’t want to be in a clan and she didn’t want to be clan leader.  She didn’t hate humans anymore and the spirit had asked her to take care of and watch over the humans who worked for her.  Most astonishing, after getting over her disbelief that they weren’t already mates had asked him why not and had pushed for him to make up his mind or let Elisa find a human mate.

 

Demona’s head tilted to the side as a thoughtful expression crossed her face, “Perhaps I do have a clan leader though.”

 

“Who?”  He searched his mind for any possibilities, “Kendra?” he asked, thinking of how ardently she had defended Demona when talking to the clan.

 

Demona smiled, “No, away from work Kendra and I are equals.  We seek out the other’s opinion and listen to one another, but neither of us dictates to each other in our personal relationship.  I was speaking of the spirit.”

 

 

Night – on the way back to Destine Manor, Forest Hills Gardens, Long Island

 

“Hey,” Kendra said her tone soft and concerned as she matched her speed and altitude to Demona’s so that they were gliding beside one another, “are you alright?  You looked upset a few times.”  The concern in the winged were-jaguar’s voice was matched by the expression on her face and in her blue eyes as she looked over at Demona.

 

The flame haired gargoyle smiled at her reassuringly, “I’m fine.  The conversation got a little emotional for me at a few points is all.”  Goliath had insisted that only the two of them meet and Kendra had insisted that she go along to keep an eye out for any unwanted visitors from a few rooftops away.  Demona hadn’t argued with her mate, it had made her feel better to know that Kendra was close and watching over her. 

 

Kendra looked at her searchingly for a few seconds as Demona met the were-jaguar’s gaze calmly, feeling warmed by the woman’s concern.  “So what did Goliath urgently need to talk about tonight?”  Kendra finally asked.

 

“He wanted me to patrol with them,” Demona responded, and then she waited for Kendra’s reaction suspecting that Goliath’s request would be as much a surprise to the were-jaguar as it had been to her.

 

Her mate didn’t disappoint her; blue eyes stared at her incredulously, “In what time?”

 

Demona grinned, amused, “Ah well, when I brought that up he suggested that I hand over Nightstone to someone else so that I had the time to patrol,” she answered dryly.

 

“He actually suggested that?”  Kendra stared at the scarlet haired gargoyle in disbelief, “Does he not realize how important Nightstone is to you?”

 

The smile on Demona’s face grew, “I’m fairly certain he’s aware of that now,” she commented dryly.  A few seconds later, her smile faded and she looked over at her mate more seriously, “I told him about the Ancient One tasking me with caring for Nightstone and my employees.  I’m not sure I should have, but I wanted him to understand why Nightstone means so much to me now.”

 

“Ah,” Kendra drew out the sound, “so how did he react to that?”

 

“With disbelief,” the flame haired gargoyle remarked dryly.

 

The winged were-jaguar smirked, “Did the idea of you protecting humans short circuit his brain?”

 

Demona started laughing hard enough to make her wobble slightly in the air as Kendra grinned at her.  “I believe it may have from the way he reacted,” the scarlet haired gargoyle finally calmed enough to respond.  “I gather you managed to get close enough to tell?”

 

“I was close enough to notice that he stared at you pretty strangely a few times,” Kendra admitted, still smiling, “but not close enough to know what it was about.  That was just a guess.”

 

The flame haired gargoyle chuckled, “A good guess,” Demona confirmed, “He did stare at me very strangely when I mentioned it.”  They glided on over the city in silence, and from the occasional concerned but patient looks she was getting from her mate, Demona knew that Kendra was just waiting for her to continue in her own time.  “Goliath called Nightstone my protectorate,” she finally said, “I hadn’t really thought about it that way before.”

 

Kendra looked at her curiously, “Is it?”

 

Demona frowned thoughtfully, “I told Goliath it was, and I did not lie to him, but it was not exactly the truth either.”

 

The blue-eyed were-jaguar studied her for a moment before commenting, “Being the CEO and owner isn’t quite the same as being the cop on the street making sure no one breaks in at night.  You’re a bit more involved in Nightstone than the cop cruising up and down the street outside the building.”  She pointed down to where a police cruiser just happened to turn onto the street below them.

 

The flame haired gargoyle looked down to where Kendra was pointing, “Slightly different,” she agreed with a crooked smile.

 

Demona looked over at her mate, thinking of what she had learned tonight.  She had been so sure that Goliath and Elisa were mates; it had been a shock to learn that they were not.  As she had commented to Goliath, the universe did have a sense of humor for her, of all gargoyles, to be the first one she knew of to take a human as her mate.  “I was surprised to find out that Goliath and Elisa aren’t mates yet,” Demona finally commented on what had been weighing on her mind most out of everything she and Goliath had discussed.

 

Kendra stared at her, her brow creasing, “So… that means we’re the first?” her voice held a hint of concern.

 

“That I know of,” Demona commented, giving her mate a reassuring look.  She remembered her thoughts the first day they had made love in the shelter they had made of saplings and woven pine branches.  Her shock that she was actually considering having sex with a human had been far greater than the fact that she was considering having sex with a female.  Demona was very pleased that her desire to touch Kendra, to make the woman call out her name in passion for real instead of in a dream, had won out over her reservations.  She felt a powerful rush of warmth in her chest that caused her breath to catch, she was so thankful that she hadn’t let the fact that Kendra was human stop her from falling in love with the woman.

 

The worried look on Kendra’s face eased, “Does that make a difference to you?” she asked carefully.

 

Demona smiled at her mate, “It simply means that I’m smart enough to recognize a good thing when I see it, unlike Goliath.”  She dipped her right wing to fly closer to the winged were-jaguar before straightening out once again, “I love you, more than I thought I could love anyone,” she said staring into Kendra’s blue eyes, “and I don’t care if we are the first gargoyle human pairing or not,” she said softly.

 

Gliding above the traffic it was a much shorter trip from Nightstone to her home than driving, they were already almost there.  Smoothly they passed over the house and then dipped their wings in unison to make a tight turn and approach the house from the back to land on the second floor balcony.  Kendra landed first, flaring her wide wings to bring herself to a stop and then hopping quickly off the railing to the floor to make room for Demona who was right behind her.  The were-jaguar held up her hands to the gargoyle and helped her down from the railing.  As soon as Demona was firmly upon the floor and had caped her wings cloak-style behind her, Kendra’s hands went to the gargoyle’s waist; pulling Demona to her while her glossy black feathered wings wrapped around and enfolded the redhead. 

 

Demona drew in a surprised breath.  Her green eyes rose to meet her mate’s blue ones questioningly, widening as Kendra lips descended to press against her own in an ardent kiss that silenced any verbal questions.  The gargoyle’s hands slid up the fur covered muscular arms to rest on Kendra’s shoulders, gripping them for balance as all of her senses swam at the unexpected passion from her mate.  She had resigned herself to the fact that Kendra’s were-jaguar form couldn’t feel very aroused except for a short week in the summer while the jaguar spirit in her went into season, but right now it certainly didn’t feel that way.

 

The flame haired gargoyle surrendered to the kiss with a moan of desire as she pressed herself against Kendra’s warm body and reveled in the feel of her mate’s wings tightening around her, pulling her closer.  The feathers on the were-jaguar’s wings were smooth, and slid with satin like feel across Demona’s back and wings, sending bolts of arousal through the gargoyle.  Lips parted against her own as Kendra’s tongue sought entry and Demona surrendered herself to the deepening of the kiss.

 

A long moment later Kendra pulled back, “I want,” she whispered, ignoring the protesting moan from Demona at the ending of the kiss.  “To take you inside,” she gently nipped along the gargoyle’s jaw line, “into our bedroom,” the same teeth now nipped at a blue earlobe.  “Lay you down on our bed,” she whispered in a soft purr and then trailed her lips delicately along the edge of Demona’s ear, “and make passionate love to you with my wings wrapped around you.”

 

Her mate’s body pressed so tightly against her own, the silky smoothness of the feathered wings surrounding her, the words and teasing nips along her jaw and delicate teasing of her ear, had roused Demona’s body very quickly to an acute state of awareness.  She ached for Kendra’s touch, some parts of her more than others, still she could tell from the were-jaguar’s eyes that Kendra wasn’t feeling as aroused as she.  “But you?” she asked uncertainly, her voice betraying her need with its huskiness.

 

“Later,” Kendra assured her softly, “I’ll change and then it will be your turn.”

 

 

Just before Midnight – Wyvern Castle atop the Eyrie Building, Upper Manhattan

 

“So what did Demona say?”  Elisa asked.  She had come over immediately after her shift ended, both curious and dreading to know the outcome of the meeting between Goliath and Demona.

 

“She will not be joining the patrols, nor is she interested in rejoining the clan,” the detective fought to hide her relief at his words knowing that Goliath had to be dismayed at this outcome.  She understood why he had felt he had to ask, but she had foreseen a lot of upset and disagreements if the strong willed female rejoined the clan.  Demona had been her own clan leader for far too long to meekly accept Goliath’s leadership over her.  Not to mention the fact that no matter what the relationship was between the two females, Kendra would come with Demona and the detective didn’t see the black haired woman accepting Goliath as clan leader any more readily than the thousand-year-old gargoyle.  “Elisa,” the lavender male looked very troubled, “I do not know her, the gargoyle I spoke to tonight is a stranger to me.”

 

The detective looked up into his confused eyes, a frown forming on her face, “What do you mean?”

 

“She is neither the gargoyle I remember from before, nor the gargoyle that she was when we awakened,” he said looking lost, “When I spoke to her tonight I realized that Macbeth had been right, I could see the centuries she has lived in her eyes.  I do not recall noticing that before.”

 

Elisa looked up at him thoughtfully.  Ever since she had first met the immortal gargoyle until Demona had returned from Canada, the detective hadn’t seen anything other than the worst behavior from the scarlet haired female.  Then came the day she and Matt had gone to Nightstone to ask Demona questions about the kidnapping.  Demona had sent them away with their metaphorical tails tucked between their legs, and her calm composure as she coolly dealt with them had been their first indication that something had radically changed about the immortal gargoyle.  “It is odd to have her acting so differently than what we’re used too, this past month has been…” she shook her head, “a rollercoaster ride of revelations and change.  I wasn’t even worried that she would try and hurt you when you went to meet her tonight, and a month ago that’s something that I would have thought you would be crazy to do.”

 

“Before she met the spirit in Canada it would have been,” Goliath noted.  “She was,” he paused a moment to cape his wings, looking bemused, “rather calm while we talked tonight.”

 

Elisa smirked, “And isn’t that strange as well, that disturbed me almost as much as seeing her greet Macbeth like an old friend the day Matt and I went to talk with her.”

 

“It is strange,” Goliath agreed.  He took in a deep breath, “Elisa do you wish to have children?”

 

The detective stared at him in astonishment, completely bewildered by the abrupt change of topic.  Her brow creased, she could really only come up with one reason why he would have asked the question right now, “You talked with Demona about our relationship?”

 

“It was one of the things we discussed,” he confirmed uneasily, seeing the narrowing of her brown eyes, “Demona said I should ask, instead of assuming that you wanted children.”

 

This was just too bizarre, “Wait,” she stopped him with an upraised hand, “let’s go back to the beginning, how did you wind up discussing us with her?” she asked with a confused and unhappy frown.

 

Goliath eyed her for a moment before saying, “Demona commented that you and Brooklyn would prefer if she didn’t rejoin the clan, only she referred to you as my mate.”

 

“And you told her I wasn’t,” Elisa commented, her voice slightly terse, knowing what his response would have been.

 

“I told her that though I am attracted to you we were not yet mates,” he corrected her gently.

 

Elisa’s lips curved in a relieved smile at this proof that he cared for her and then her puzzlement returned, “So what happened then?”

 

Goliath frowned, “Once she accepted that I was telling her the truth, she reacted very strangely.”  He went on to describe how Demona had laughed and turned away from him, “Then a few seconds later she remarked that the universe had a sense of humor.  After that she turned and demanded to know why we were not yet mates.”

 

Elisa’s eyes widened in surprise, she had suspected, she had been almost convinced, but this…  It really was true; Demona and Kendra were romantically involved, the scarlet haired gargoyle’s behavior and what she had said only made sense if they were.  Her mind caught up with Goliath’s last words and she couldn’t help the strangled snort of amusement that escaped.

 

The lavender male frowned at her, “Elisa?”

 

“Ah…” she stared at him remembering his prior response to her suggesting that Demona and Kendra were together, “Just finding it funny that Demona’s switched from trying to kill me to…” she made a motion with her hand between them, “Well, from what you said, thinking it’s fine for us to be together.”  She wasn’t going to mention that it seemed obvious to her that Demona was determined that she wasn’t going to be the only gargoyle with a human mate, she didn’t want to get into another argument with him about how the two were acting like clan sisters and not lovers.

 

“Indeed,” Goliath rumbled ruefully, “she made a point of reminding me that humans have only twenty years of fertility instead of forty to sixty.”

 

Elisa grimaced at the reminder, she knew she didn’t have forever, “I guess that she pointed out that we can’t have children together,” she commented quietly.

 

“No,” he replied, drawing out the word slowly and the detective stared at him in surprise, taking in his strange expression, “She mentioned that it might be possible in the future for humans and gargoyles to have children.”

 

Stunned, she asked “What?”  Goliath only too well understood her astonishment; he had been just as surprised.

 

After the lavender male had repeated himself, Elisa stared blankly at a shelf of books for a long moment, what had Demona meant by that comment?  Maybe she knew something about how Delilah had been created that caused her to think it was possible for gargoyles and humans to interbreed together?  Finally, she looked up into Goliath’s dark eyes, seeing the worry there.  “Even if we could have children… what would they be?”  She asked him, “Would they be more human or more gargoyle?  Would I have a child that needed me to take care of it or an egg that wouldn’t hatch for ten years?  Would I need to find a desk job for a few years to take care of a child or would I need to take a sabbatical for a year to hide the fact that I’d been pregnant, but there was no baby?”

 

Goliath’s expression had become more thoughtful and troubled with every question, and it was obvious to Elisa that he hadn’t considered any of this before.  “Yes, if it were possible and safe, I’d want us to have a child together, but if it’s not then that’s all right too.  I don’t have to have a child to be happy, Goliath,” she said, staring into his dark eyes seriously.  “If that’s what’s been holding you back and the reason why we haven’t gone any further than acknowledging we’re attracted to one another then don’t let it.”  He didn’t immediately reply and she let out a deep breath, “Unless you don’t feel like pursuing these feelings further because we can’t have children together.”

 

That got a response, “No,” he replied immediately in a forceful tone.  He stared at her for a long moment, his searching gaze unwavering and then he carefully leaned down and gently pressed his lips against hers in a brief kiss that was over too soon.  “No,” he repeated softly, “I also find that it is not necessary for us to have a child together for me to be with you.”  A slight frown marred his expression at the end of his words, calling his statement into question in Elisa’s mind.

 

“It’s harder for you isn’t it?”  Elisa commented, trying to feel her way toward an understanding that she hadn’t put in words before now.

 

Goliath sighed, “Everyone chooses a mate before the Breeders Moon, the desire to have a mate to fly with that night and produce an egg for the rookery is very strong in us.”

 

“Is that need going to be so strong that you have to choose a gargoyle as your mate?” Elisa asked him quietly.

 

His brow lowered as he frowned thoughtfully, his expression completely serious as he considered her question.  The seconds seemed to drag out endlessly as Elisa waited for his response, finally he shook his head slowly, “Once we are mates, it will be you that I wish to fly with that night and no other.”

 

Elisa’s dark eyes widened slightly, that might present its own complications, “Just remember I don’t have wings.”

 

He smiled and raised his hand to run it through her hair, “I would not,” he assured her, “and I would not let you fall.”

 

Elisa took a step forward, closing the short distance between them to wrap her arms around Goliath’s waist, “I know,” she said softly staring up into his square jawed face as his wings swept forward to wrap around her.

 

 
 
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