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Discussions - Chapter 3

 
 
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Discussions - Chapter 3

 

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:  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:  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: 05/17/08

 

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December 6th, 1997

 

Dominique woke slowly, a smile curving her lips; the sun was shining brightly through the curtains letting her know it was well past sunrise.  The warm body pressed close against her back sighed and the arm around her waist tightened briefly in response to her movement.  The redhead softly caressed the arm around her waist for a few moments before looking at the window once again at the brightness of the light outside.  She needed to get up, carefully she lifted Kendra’s arm from about her waist and slid out of the bed.

 

The redhead paused and looked tenderly at the woman asleep in her bed, Kendra’s face was relaxed, peaceful, her midnight black hair spread across the pillow.  Last night’s lovemaking had been truly wonderful, but what she was remembering now was afterward when Kendra had gathered her up in her arms and carried her into the bathroom.  If she hadn’t been floating in a haze of sated bliss Demona probably would have protested being carried around like a hatchling.  As it was, the gargoyle had simply marveled at how easily Kendra carried her into the bathroom and then into the whirlpool.  There Kendra gently washed the oil from the gargoyle’s skin and hair, and would have probably continued to ignore her own need if Demona hadn’t lifted her upon the whirlpool’s edge and made love to her until she came, shuddering against the gargoyle’s mouth and crying out Demona’s name.

 

Reluctantly, Dominique pulled her thoughts away from her memories of the night before.  With one final lingering look, she turned away from the bed and the sleeping woman in it, dressed as quietly as possible and then went downstairs.  The clock in the kitchen read 8:23 am.  The redhead decided to wait ten more minutes and then call Gregory to see if he could find suitable transportation.  She wasn’t certain if he could, she paid his company for his services and the use of their limousines, but she wasn’t certain if they had a vehicle that was wheelchair accessible.  She busied herself with making coffee while she waited for the time to pass, at 8:35 she called Gregory’s cell phone number.

 

It rang three times before she heard Gregory politely answer, “Good morning Ms. Destine, do you require the limo today?”

 

“Good morning, Gregory,” Dominique replied, she was pleased that she had gotten her driver instead of being forwarded to the limo company as sometimes happened when he had the day off.  “That will depend; I need a wheelchair accessible vehicle today.”

 

There was silence for a moment on the other end of the phone and Dominique smirked as she imagined his startled look.  “I’ll have to check Ms. Destine, we have one vehicle that’s wheelchair accessible, but I’ll have to see if it’s already reserved for today.  For what times do you require it?”

 

“I’m not certain,” the redhead replied coolly, not appreciating the request for specific times even though she could understand why Gregory was asking.  “I wanted to find out if there was suitable transportation available before inviting my guest.”

 

“Of course, Ms Destine,” Gregory hastily answered catching the irritation in his employer’s voice, “I’ll check and call you immediately with that information.”

 

A sound behind her distracted her, she turned, Kendra was leaning against the kitchen wall watching her.  The woman was wearing navy blue sweat pants that rested low upon her hips, a white sports bra and nothing else.  Dominique’s eyes wandered appreciatively over her lover, her gaze slowing as her eyes traveled over the trim waist and expanse of toned stomach.  The redhead wondered how Kendra managed to look just as sexy in what she was wearing now as when she had been completely nude the night before. 

 

“Ms. Destine?”  Gregory inquired, confused at the lack of a response.

 

Belatedly Dominique recalled the phone in her hand and the last thing Gregory had said before she became distracted.  She cleared her throat, “Thank you Gregory, I’ll expect your call shortly then.”

 

“Yes Ms. Destine,” Gregory responded promptly.

 

Dominique hung up the phone, turned toward the waiting woman and raised an inquiring eyebrow, “that looks quite nice, but probably not to wear out shopping.”

 

Kendra chuckled, “I need to get back in the habit of working out every morning,” she explained.  “I thought I’d ask if you happened to have any exercise equipment somewhere and maybe have a cup of coffee before I began.”

 

“Coffee’s brewing,” Dominique responded, “and I have a small workout room upstairs.”

 

 

A few miles away in Greenwich Village.

 

“What did Miss Rich Bitch want?” the voice came from the bedroom after Gregory hung up the phone, “Please tell me you don’t have to work today, we had lunch planned.”

 

“Michael!” he protested staring at the phone with a worried expression, “she might hear you and then I’d certainly lose my job,” he added in a low mutter, “if not my head too.”

 

“I waited until after I heard you hang up the phone,” the tenor voice protested from the bedroom.

 

Gregory stared at the doorway, just barely able to see the foot of the bed from where he was standing, “I told you I was on call today.”

 

“Yes, but you said she didn’t say anything yesterday,” his lover replied in a pouting tone.

 

“Well,” Gregory responded unhappily, “she didn’t, but I’m on call so…”  There was no reply from the other room and he could easily imagine Michael staring up at the ceiling with a sullen expression.  “Anyway I need to call work and see if the van is available, she asked for a handicapped vehicle,” his voice held his puzzlement at the request.

 

“Has she ever asked for one before?”  Michael asked.

 

“No,” Gregory replied, “this is the first time; I didn’t even know she knew someone who was handicapped.”

 

“Ohh,” Michael’s voice was closer and Gregory looked up to see his boyfriend standing in the doorway of the bedroom with just his briefs on.  “Did you see that hot fem-butch Kendra Canmore?” he asked.  “The girls at the store were all drooling over her the other day.  They had some old magazine with a picture of her in black leather and a big black motorbike.  Turns out she is definitely family, she had a string of girlfriends a few years back and then she just sorta dropped off the radar.”

 

Gregory grinned at him, amused at his description; he could easily see the woman he met yesterday in bike leathers.  “I tried to tell you that yesterday, but you weren’t interested.”

 

Michael smirked as his eyes wandered slowly over the dark haired man sitting at the table, “Well, I did have other things on my mind,” he drawled.

 

The two of them shared a warm look before Gregory glanced back at the phone, “I need to check and see if the van’s available.  Ms. Destine is waiting for me to call her back,” he grimaced at the thought of his employers temper if she thought she had waited too long.

 

Michael turned around and sauntered toward the bathroom, he said over his shoulder as he turned into the door, “You do that, but you should know that rumor says Miss Hot Stuff Canmore has a thing for redheads.”  The bathroom door closed behind him, leaving Gregory staring after him with surprised eyes at this piece of news.  He couldn’t help but remember that the redhead had been in a remarkably good mood considering the fact that she had been hiking back to civilization through the wilderness and snow for ten days after being kidnapped.

 

 

Back at Dominique Destine’s home.

 

“May I speak to Robert please,” Dominique asked, trying to keep the hostility from her voice as she remembered what Rachael had said about these humans who were taking care of the young Owl’s chosen.

 

“Who may I tell him is calling?” the feminine voice sounded older than the redhead was expecting.

 

“Dominique Destine,” she responded in a clipped tone.

 

There was a pause on the other end of the line, “The woman who was kidnapped?” the woman asked incredulously.

 

The redheads green eyes narrowed, “Yes, the woman who was kidnapped, now may I speak to Robert.”


“How do you know Robert?” the woman asked demandingly.

 

Dominique fought down a snarl, what business was it of this human’s how she knew Robert.  “A mutual friend asked me to contact him,” she replied, her irritation showing in her tone.

 

“What mutual friend, we know all of Robert’s friends,” the woman demanded.

 

The redhead stared incredulously at the phone, wondering if the woman, who was most likely Robert’s aunt, interrogated all of his callers in this manner, “Rachael Wabagano.”

 

The woman’s reply was disapproving sniff, “Oh that Indian woman.”

 

By sheer force of will, Dominique bit back the scathing response she wanted to make in reply.  “May I speak to Robert now?” she asked in a chill firm tone.  In the background the redhead heard a young sounding male voice ask, “Who is it Aunt Nancy?”

 

“Robert,” the woman’s voice didn’t sound that pleased, “I was just asking that, it’s some woman claiming to be Dominique Destine, that woman who was kidnapped.”  Dominique noted that the woman she had been talking to didn’t sound as if she quite believed that Dominique was who she said she was.

 

“Rachael said she would call,” the young male voice replied.  Dominique smiled, she approved of the way he was standing up for himself, his tone wasn’t disrespectful, but it was firmly determined.

 

“Oh,” the woman’s voice sounded surprised.  A moment later Dominique heard a defensive sounding “Well, you know you can’t be too careful these days.”  The redhead glared incredulous at the phone, she was the owner and CEO of Nightstone Unlimited not some drug dealing hoodlum.

 

Almost as if reading her mind she heard Robert say, “She’s the owner of her own business Aunt Nancy, remember they were talking about Nightstone Unlimited on the news.”

 

There was a long moment of silence as Dominique listened, finally the older female voice replied, “Oh yes that’s right,” she now sounded approving.  “Ms. Destine, I’m sorry I thought someone was trying to play a prank on me,” Robert’s aunt said.

 

“A…”  Dominique managed to stop the incredulous reply she wanted to make, “Yes…well, may I speak to Robert now Ms.?”

 

“Collins,” the woman replied, suddenly sounding rather cordial.

 

“Mrs. Collins,” Dominique memorized the name, “If I may speak to Robert now?”

 

“Yes, of course,” Robert’s aunt replied.  “Now remember to be polite Robert,” the redhead heard her say in the background before the noise of a phone being passed from hand to hand indicated that the woman had passed the handset to her nephew.

 

“Yes Aunt Nancy,” Dominique heard Robert reply in an even tone just before he said into the phone, “Good morning Ms. Destine.”

 

“Good morning Robert,” she replied.  The last thing Rachael had said was that she needed to contact Robert and inform him of Demona’s new status, as he was unaware of everything that had recently happened.  “I gather that Rachael was able to speak to you?” she inquired hoping that had been the case.  If not this call would probably just be to introduce herself, inviting Robert out would have to wait until after Rachael had contacted him.

 

“Yes, we were able to have a thorough conversation about what happened to you,” Dominique smiled at the carefully worded statement, she was fairly certain that meant that he had been able to visit the spirit realm and talk to Rachael and probably the Wise One.  “I was glad to hear that you and Miss Canmore were found safely.”

 

“So am I, Rachael’s assistance was invaluable,” Dominique commented quite sincerely.

 

“Yea, she’s that way,” the redhead could hear the affection he had for the senior Owl’s chosen in his tone.

 

“Well,” Dominique said after a moment’s silence, “as to the purpose of this call,” she continued briskly, “Kendra and I wanted to invite you to go shopping with us.  It’s become apparent that I’m rather lacking in audio equipment,” she commented dryly, “so we are visiting the Bose store in Columbus Circle and going out for lunch or an early dinner.  I’ve already arranged for suitable transportation for you to accompany us if you wish.”

 

“Umm,” he sounded rather surprised.  “The Bose store,” he repeated sounding more interested, “what were you planning on getting?”

 

“Kendra said something about a Wave Radio, but depending on what they have I may pick up a full audio system,” she responded.  It was something she had considered earlier this morning, she wanted Kendra to feel at home here and after last night it was obvious that music was rather important to her lover.

 

“They have some nice ones with wireless speakers,” Robert said enthusiastically. 

 

Dominique commented lightly, “That will certainly make setting it up easier.”

 

“Robert?” the redhead heard the aunt inquire from the background.

 

His voice was distant when he answered his aunt, as if he were covering the phone, “Ms. Destine invited me to go with her to the Bose store.  She’s interested in purchasing some audio equipment.”  Dominique’s eyebrow rose at the way Robert was phrasing her invitation, he was making it sound as if she was interested in his opinion rather than his company.

 

“Well, she probably heard that you know about those types of things from that other woman,” the woman sounded dismissive and, oddly to the listening redhead, more relaxed, as if the idea of her requesting Robert’s company for his expertise rather than his company was reassuring to her.  “If you want to go you’ll have to call and see if you can find transportation, but I doubt you will be able to since it’s the weekend,” the almost satisfied way the woman said this made Dominique glad that she had already arranged for a vehicle.  She couldn’t wait to see the expression on this humans face when the woman saw what type of transportation she had arranged for Robert.

 

“Yes Aunt Nancy,” she heard and then he was speaking to her once again, “Ms. Destine I’d be pleased to accept your invitation what time would you like to pick me up?”

 

Dominique was starting to get the feeling that Robert was just as intelligent as Rachael had implied and had just maneuvered his aunt into giving him permission to do what he wanted.  “Eleven o’clock?” she said, “that way we can have lunch and then go shopping.”

 

“Eleven o’clock,” he repeated almost formally, “I’ll be ready Ms. Destine.”

 

“I hope you’ll call me Dominique once we pick you up,” the redhead commented, amused.

 

He replied with only the barest hint of amusement in his tone, “Of course Ms. Destine.”

 

Dominique chuckled, “I’ll see you at eleven o’clock Robert.”

 

“Good bye Ms. Destine,” he replied politely, in the background, Dominique heard his aunt ask sharply, “She does understand that you need…” the disconnecting phone cut off the woman’s question.  The redhead shook her head as she hung up the phone; she was looking forward to meeting Robert even more now.

 

Dominique glanced at the clock as she placed the phone in its recharging stand, Gregory would be by to pick them up in an hour.  There was just enough time for her to change into her own workout clothes and get in a short workout of her own before it was time to shower and change. 

 

When she stepped into her exercise room, Kendra was at the leg press station of the home gym smoothly pressing up an impressive stack of weights.  Dominique took a moment to watch, Kendra had a look of total concentration on her face as she pressed the weights up.  Her lover had put her hair up into a pony tail and wispy black strands stuck to her slightly sweaty forehead and neck.  Though her legs were covered by the sweat pants, the redhead could see the outline of her thighs as they flexed through the material and her bare stomach was a washboard of tense muscle.  Kendra completed her set of exercises and got up from the station moving round to the lat pull down bar and spotted the redhead standing in the doorway.  Pausing, she inquired, “Is Robert going with us?”

 

Dominique nodded, “Gregory will be here in forty five minutes, so I thought I’d join you and get in a short workout,” explaining her change of clothing.

 

“Three sets on this and then the gyms all yours,” Kendra said reaching up for the lat bar once she had set the weights.

 

The redhead nodded moving to the treadmill in the corner, she wanted to warm up for a few minutes before starting on the weights.  She started out at a quick walk, which moved into a slow jog after half a minute, out of the corner of her eye she watched Kendra pull down the lat bar behind her head, the muscles in her shoulders and arms bunching and flexing as she lifted the weights.  She couldn’t ignore the fact that the sight was causing a distracting tingle of awareness to course through her, she wanted to run her fingers over those shoulders, test the solidness of the muscles she could so clearly see right now for herself.  Determinedly she tore her eyes away, focusing on the treadmill gauges instead.  She jogged for a few more minutes before stopping the treadmill and moving to the rack of free weights in the corner for a set of hand weights to do curls.

 

Kendra finished with the lat pull down bar and moved over to the free weights to pick up the heaviest set of hand weights and then over to the weight bench.  Holding the weights to her chest she straddled the bench and then laid down on her back, she then raised the hand weights overhead and began doing supine flies.

 

Dominique had to keep dragging her eyes away from the prone woman, from watching the way her muscles moved in her arms, the flexing of her stomach.  The redhead wanted to shatter the total concentration Kendra was giving to the exercise she was doing by walking over and running her hand down the flat stomach and taking the waistband of those sweat pants and pulling them…  Dominique tore her thoughts away from the direction they were taking, Gregory was going to be here in less than thirty minutes and Robert would be waiting for them to arrive at eleven.

 

“I’ll go up and take my shower now,” Kendra announced as she got up from the bench after completing her last set of bench presses.  The black haired woman paused in the doorway, turning around and meeting the redhead’s green eyes.  Dominique’s breath caught in her throat at the intense look Kendra was giving her; it was enough to let her know that she wasn’t the only one fighting with their desires.  They stared at each other for a few seconds before Kendra said huskily, “I’ll make it quick, I believe we only have about twenty more minutes before he arrives.”

 

Dominique’s arms hang limply from the lat bar after Kendra left, she hadn’t felt like this since the last breeder’s moon, and the next one wasn’t for ten more years.  She had to get control of herself before Monday.  They couldn’t act like this at the offices or it wouldn’t be long at all before someone figured out that they were much more than employee and employer.

 

After her shower, Dominique stared at the suits in her closet, from the way Roberts aunt had sounded she strongly suspected the human would be easily impressed by an obvious show of wealth and power.  Yet she didn’t want to dress as she usually would for the office, she finally settled on a russet wool herringbone belted jacket and pantsuit with a cream-colored silk sweater.  She put up her hair, put on her usual gold stud earrings and watch that she wore to work, and then grabbed her long wool coat before going downstairs.

 

She hadn’t seen Kendra since the woman has left the exercise room so she paused at the entrance to the kitchen to stare at the starkly simple outfit her lover was wearing.  A black turtleneck that Dominique guessed was a silk blend from the way it looked and hung, black wool slacks, and black boots.  On the back of the chair Kendra was sitting in hung a hip-length black leather jacket with a stand-up collar.  The all black outfit drew attention to the glossy blackness of Kendra’s hair, the dusky tone of her skin and the brilliant blue of her eyes.

 

“You look very nice,” Kendra commented looking at the redhead appreciatively.

 

Dominique’s lips curved upward as she eyed her lover, “Black is definitely your color,” she said huskily.  The buzzer ringing interrupted them, “that will be Gregory,” the redhead said, before she could put on her coat Kendra was standing behind her gently taking it from her hands and holding it open for her.  “Thank you,” Dominique said softly as she slipped her arms in the sleeves.  She felt Kendra’s hands on her shoulders, and then the press of her lover’s body against her back right before Kendra pressed a kiss against the side of her neck.

 

“You’re welcome,” Kendra whispered into her ear, sending a faint shiver through the redhead’s body, before stepping away, getting her own coat and shrugging into it.  The black haired woman opened the door to the garage and motioned for Dominique to precede her.

 

As Dominique walked through the door, the redhead reflected on Kendra’s behavior.  The black haired woman had been protective of her even before the kidnapping, the redhead remembered thinking back to Kendra’s protectively bristling attitude as she asked who had hurt her right before the Quarrymen had attacked when she had been in her office crying over her daughter’s rejection.  The almost gallant way Kendra had just behaved was new though, and Dominique liked it.  It reminded her of the way Macbeth had treated her when she was pretending to date him.  Then her enjoyment of being treated as if she was the most important person in someone’s life had been marred by the fact that she didn’t like Macbeth and certainly wasn’t interested in being his mate, only in getting access to his money.  With Kendra however, that certainly wasn’t the case, and Dominique was free to cherish everything her lover did to show the redhead that she cared.

 

Dominique looked up from the steps leading down to the garage and came to an abrupt halt at the sight of the vehicle Gregory was standing beside.  It was a black stretch van, the redhead decided bemusedly after a few seconds examination.

 

“Ms. Destine,” Gregory sounded uneasy as he cast a glance at the vehicle he was driving today.  It didn’t take a genius to figure out from the redhead’s expression that this hadn’t been exactly what she was expecting.

 

“This is the wheelchair accessible vehicle I gather,” she finally commented.

 

“Yes, Ms. Destine,” Gregory responded, trying not to stare at the woman standing behind his employer.  The black Jaguar convertible parked in the normally empty garage had been an obvious clue that Ms. Destine had company this morning and now he knew who owned it.  “It will accommodate two wheelchairs and six regular passengers.”

 

Dominique nodded, and indicated the side door of the van with a wave of her hand.  She would reserve her opinion of the vehicle’s acceptability until she saw the interior.  Gregory promptly opened the door and held out a hand to assist her into the vehicle.  The seats were the same grey cushioned leather seats as she was used to in the regular limousines she noticed, only arranged along one side of the vehicle in a long bench.  Down the other side of the vehicle was a black rubber mat with inset metal rings presumably to secure the wheelchair once it was inside the vehicle.  As in all limousines, the driver’s area was separated from the front by smoked glass and another row of passenger seats.  She sat down in one of the seats looking at the interior, except for the area where the wheelchair was to be secured the appointments were just as nice as she was accustomed to in the regular limousines.

 

Kendra was standing in the open door looking inside the stretch van, “How will we get Robert’s wheelchair in here?” she asked Gregory.

 

“There is a motorized wheelchair lift underneath the vehicle at the rear, Ms Canmore,” Gregory promptly answered.  He had actually gotten instruction on exactly how he was to handle his handicapped passenger this morning and was a little nervous about doing it for the first time, but he certainly wasn’t going to let Ms. Destine or Ms. Canmore suspect that.

 

The black haired woman nodded and got into the van taking a seat near, but not next to Ms. Destine.  Gregory closed the door behind her after seeing that both women were settled, he already had the address of the next guest and knew how to get there.  As he walked around to the driver’s door, he thought back to the expression on Ms. Destine’s face when she stepped into the garage.  The redhead’s usual expression was a sharp-eyed neutral one, he had seen her pleased after a business negotiation she had won, and he had even seen her happy a few times.  What he had never seen before was the soft pleased expression accompanied by a touch of color to her cheeks that he had seen right then.  That expression combined with the way the usually aloof woman looked at Kendra Canmore made him think that his boyfriend might actually be right.  He shook his head in wonder; he would have never pegged Ms. Dominique Destine as anything but straight before today.

 

 

Thirty minutes later in Union City, New Jersey

 

Robert waited anxiously by the front window looking at each passing van to see if would pull into his aunt and uncle’s driveway.  He didn’t know what type of van Dominique Destine would be driving, only that she had already arranged for one.  Rachael had described the Ancient One’s chosen to him and it was hard for him to believe that the woman he was about to meet was not only over a thousand years old but also not even human.  She was a gargoyle and had been born in the early 900’s, Robert couldn’t imagine the history she had lived through and even though Rachael had cautioned him that Demona’s life hadn’t been that pleasant for her, he hoped she would be willing to tell him about some of it.  He loved the Renaissance Period, the inventors, engineers and architects of Italy where the Renaissance was born such as Leonardo da Vinci and Filippo Brunelleschi and then once it had moved to northern Europe and begun the Scientific Revolution, the scientists such as Nicholas Copernicus, and Rene Descartes.

 

A gleaming long black van with dark windows driving up the road caught the young man’s attention, whoever owned it had obviously waxed and polished it recently.  Robert didn’t recognize the make but it looked vaguely European and expensive.  When it slowed in front of the house and then pulled into the driveway, his grey eyes opened wide.  The vehicle stopped and a dark haired man in a black suit, a cap, and white gloves got out of the driver’s seat.  The man walked around to the side of the van and pulled open the door then held his white gloved hand out to assist whoever was inside.

 

“Robert,” his aunt walked up beside him, her voice demanding, “who is that in the driveway…” her voice trailed off as she got a good look at the stretch van in the driveway and the woman being assisted out of it by the driver.  Dominique Destine stepped down from the vehicle looking around the neighborhood like royalty come to visit.  From the obviously expensive suit she was wearing to the haughty, regal expression on her face and her confident stance, she instantly drew and commanded one’s attention.

 

Seeing the Ancient One’s chosen in person, Robert was sharply reminded of the fact that the woman he was watching was over a thousand years old.  On top of that, she was a very rich business owner who had gotten her company to where it was today by being smarter, shrewder, and if rumor was to be believed, more ruthless than her competitors were.  Rachael’s warning to him that he not forget whom Demona was as well as who she had been in his enthusiasm suddenly made more sense to the young man.  Not in that he had to be fearful of the gargoyle, but that he be respectful of her, of her long past, and of her treatment at the hands of the Fey.

 

Ms. Destine stepped out of the way and turned her head to glance back at the vehicle, a second woman emerged from within it.  He recognized the second woman immediately having seen her picture on the news about their kidnapping.  This was Kendra Canmore, one of two Jaguars’s chosen.  Robert took in the black hair, the blue of the woman’s eyes that he could see even from inside the house.  She was wearing all black, and he noted how she paused for a moment as she stepped down, taking a quick observant scan of the neighborhood before proceeding to stand beside Dominique.

 

The two women proceeded toward the house, Dominique Destine walking with sure, confident strides, Kendra Canmore with a lithe gracefulness that made the cat in her very easy to discern to Robert’s eyes.  The young man thought of what he knew about Jaguar, the spirit only had two chosen and both were given a full measure of the Jaguar’s gifts.  Of all the chosen, the Jaguars were probably the strongest and deadliest warriors.  Robert’s eyes went back to the redheaded woman and the way she held herself as she moved.  He had only seen the Ancient One a few times, but every time he had been struck by the regal way the spirit carried himself.  It wasn’t just the Irish Elks size, though being ten foot tall certainly helped, or the impressive rack of antlers the stag had, though that helped as well, it was simply what the spirit was, the Ancient One was the epitome of majestic, the way he moved, the deep thoughtful way he spoke, the look in his great eye.  Looking at Dominique Destine, he was not certain if he were seeing the Ancient One so clearly in her or if she had always been somewhat this way and what he was seeing was the Ancient One’s mark on her combined with her normal bearing.

 

“Well her business must be doing well if she can afford to have a driver and rent such a vehicle just to go to the mall,” his Aunt Nancy commented, managing sound at the same time impressed and disapproving.  He glanced over at her; Dominique couldn’t have chosen a better way of making sure that his aunt would be eager to have him continue to associate with the Ancient One’s chosen.  Aunt Nancy wished she were rich; she wanted to have the type of self-assuredness that the redheaded woman walking up to the door so effortlessly projected.  Unfortunately, what she managed was a self-righteousness closed-minded bigotry that found fault in everyone around her, especially those who weren’t white, at least middle class or higher and preferably protestant.  He looked toward the door as it rang and added to his mental list of those his aunt approved of: straight.  The young man watched as his aunt invited the two women into her house, knowing that she would completely flip if she ever realized they were a couple.

 

Robert rolled his wheelchair over toward the front door.  “Yes, I’m pleased to meet you as well Mrs. Collins,” Dominique was saying to his aunt as she glanced at her watch, “ I have reservations for lunch at noon Robert,” she said looking up at him, “so I hope you haven’t eaten yet.”

 

“Lunch,” his aunt repeated uncertainly, Dominique shifted her green eyes from him to his aunt, “Robert doesn’t have a very big allowance…” 

 

Robert gritted his teeth; money was currently a sore issue between him and his aunt and uncle.  He wanted to go to MIT and they insisted that he would be better off going to a local and less costly university.  He knew that his parent’s estate had been sizable and he was starting to wonder how his aunt and uncle had managed his trust fund that they were concerned about the cost of his education.  Unfortunately, even though he would turn eighteen in only a few months, he wouldn’t gain control of his trust fund until he was twenty-one, and he couldn’t get an answer out of his aunt and uncle as to how much of his trust fund remained.  The two times he had pressed the issue after finding out they weren’t planning on letting him go to MIT, they looked at him as if he were betraying them.  His aunt started crying and wailing, and his uncle began talking about how costly it was to provide for him.  The last time he had asked his Uncle Edward had lectured him about how he needed to be careful with his inheritance because he wasn’t likely to find a well paying position with his disability no matter what legal protections were in place, as employers didn’t want to hire people who cost them money.

 

Dominique didn’t let her continue, “I never make purchases on an empty stomach, and, of course, as Robert is my guest, I certainly wouldn’t expect him to pay for his meal.”  The redhead sounded offended at the very idea.

 

Robert noticed the redhead’s eyes turn his way, and a second later one eyebrow arched expectantly.  He realized this was his cue to say something, “I’m ready to go now Ms. Destine,” he said rolling his chair closer to the door.

 

She inclined her head toward him in acknowledgement before turning back to his aunt, “We should return by no later than four o’clock.”

 

“Why so long?” his aunt questioned with a frown, he began to get worried, his aunt and uncle didn’t like for him to be out of the house for very long.

 

“I want to ask him some questions, see if Rachael was correct about his level of technical proficiency,” she explained coolly.  “Nightstone has a few summer internships.  Robert is younger than we would usually consider, but I’m willing to overlook that if he is as knowledgeable as I’ve been led to believe,” she sounded doubtful, as if she wasn’t really expecting that to be the case.

 

Robert flushed he didn’t like being discussed as if he wasn’t present, and he really didn’t appreciate his intelligence being questioned.  Too many people had a tendency to do that to him as if the wheelchair rendered him unable to think as well walk, and he definitely had not expected such treatment from another chosen.  He felt his eyes sting, the Ancient One’s chosen treating him this way hurt.  Motion behind Dominique caught his eye; Kendra shook her head at him and held up a silencing finger to her lips.  He stared at her in confusion before realizing that she was standing outside the door and to the side where his aunt couldn’t see her.  The Jaguar’s chosen gave him a reassuring look and a warm smile.

 

“I’m sure you will find that he’s very knowledgeable,” he heard his aunt say.  He jerked his gaze back to her, staring in amazement, “he attends the Science and Technical High School here taking advanced placement courses in computers and the sciences.”  Robert was dumbfounded, his aunt sounded proud of him, she normally told him he needed to be more social, and spend less time back in his room with his computers while at the same time coming up with objections and reasons why it was too difficult to take him anywhere once he got home from school.  He hadn’t thought she was even paying any attention to what he was taking in school except to hand him ten dollars every time he showed her all A’s on his report card.

 

“Well,” Dominique cast a coolly assessing glance his way, “that’s in part what today purpose is for.  Undoubtedly, I will need to meet with Robert more than once before making my decision.  I wouldn’t want to place him in a working situation he’s not quite mature enough for yet.”

 

Robert flushed even harder, he was starting to see that Dominique was maneuvering his aunt into doing what she wanted but that didn’t make what she was saying any easier to listen too.  Aunt Nancy looked over at him and frowned flashing a warning look at him, “I’m sure you will find that he’s very mature for his age.”  As his aunt was staring at him he watched the Ancient One’s chosen stare at her with a coolly measuring look that held no friendliness, the expression disappeared, replaced with polite smile as soon as his aunt turned back to her.  That made it clear to him what Dominique was doing, and with widened eyes he watched as the redhead continued to manipulate his aunt into agreeing to let him not only go out several more times with her, but also visit Nightstone for a few afternoons.

 

On their way out to the van where the driver was waiting by the lowered wheelchair lift, he heard Kendra, who was walking right behind him whisper in an amused tone, “You need to look a little less smug until we are actually out of her sight.”

 

He heard Dominique chuckle, “was I looking smug?” she asked in what Robert thought was a playful tone.  He wanted to turn around and see the expression on her face, but decided to wait until they were away from his aunt’s prying eyes, and he had no doubt she was watching them right now from the living room window.  He was still reeling from watching how easily the Ancient One’s chosen had maneuvered his aunt into doing exactly what she wanted.

 

Dominique waited until the van pulled out onto the street and away from Robert’s house before reaching over and getting his attention with a hand on his arm.  She had seen the sheen of tears in the young man’s eyes before he realized what was going on, and it bothered her that she had hurt him no matter how briefly it had lasted.  “Robert, I have no doubt that you are the bright intelligent young man Rachael said you were, I only said the things I did to get that human to let me see you more than just this time.”

 

Robert looked startled for a moment before he nodded, “I figured out what you were doing.”  His grey eyes fell away from hers for a moment before he looked up again, he said quietly, “I know she doesn’t love me like I wish she would, but she is my mother’s sister.”

 

Despite his quiet tone, there was firmness in his eyes that Dominique liked; she understood his defense of his clan.  “She seemed proud of your achievements in school,” the redhead commented, she had noticed the stunned expression on his face as the woman spoke.  Personally, she didn’t think it said that much about the woman that Robert had been that surprised.

 

He nodded, “I didn’t realize she had really noticed, she doesn’t comment on the courses I’m taking.”

 

“Maybe she’s just not one of those people who does praise well,” Kendra offered.

 

Robert looked over at her uncertainly, not really believing that.  Her blue eyes were kind, and he realized that she didn’t believe it either.  He took in a breath fighting down the old hurt, turned back to Dominique, “do you really have an internship program?”

 

“Yes,” she replied, looking him in the eye, “Nightstone usually takes college students in their junior and senior years, but I can think of a few positions that might be suitable for you.”  She glanced over at Kendra, “There’s a new division being formed next week that might have an internship position, but that would be up to the division manager.”

 

He followed the direction of her gaze, Kendra looked startled at first and then the Jaguar’s chosen turned her gaze on him.  She leaned back in her seat, gave him a measuring look and asked, “So, what are your interests Robert.”

 

“Umm,” he said then flushed realizing that didn’t sound too confident, he sat up straight and began, “Currently I’m taking courses in physics, chemistry, electronics, structural engineering and history.”

 

Kendra’s blue eyes sharpened, “Are you interested in one of those in particular or in being more of a generalist?”

 

He flushed, “I want to go to MIT and get in their EECS program, but my aunt and uncle say there’s not enough money in my trust fund for it.”

 

“EECS?” asked Kendra.

 

Dominique answered before Robert could, “Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, one of the researchers in R & D Special Projects has a doctoral degree from MIT in Chemical Engineering and a master’s degree in EECS.  He’s the one I spoke with you about yesterday.”

 

Robert’s eyes lit, “That sounds like an interesting combination.  I considered Chemical Engineering as well because their working on fuel cells there, but I decided I’d rather eventually go into robotics.”  Neither woman missed his quick downward glance at his legs.

 

“You applied to MIT?” asked Dominique, at his nod she continued, “You don’t think you’ll qualify for a scholarship?”

 

He flushed, “I can’t do most of the types of extra-curricular activities they like to see on your application, and I haven’t been able to attend the ones like debate that I can do.”

 

Even though she suspected she knew the answer, the redhead asked, “Why not?”

 

“My uncle and aunt don’t like to get out much, and they don’t like to drive at night because they can’t see that well anymore,” he explained.

 

Dominique inclined her head, “Your aunt was much older than I was expecting,” she allowed, remembering her surprise at seeing the liberal amount of white in the woman’s brown hair and the lines on her face.

 

Robert explained, “My mother was born fifteen years after Aunt Nancy, and my parent’s didn’t have me until my mother was thirty.  My aunt and uncle weren’t expecting to have to care for a child when my parents died, but they took me in anyway rather than let me go into the foster care system.”

 

The redhead’s green eyes narrowed in anger, to her that comment represented what was worst about the care Robert had been given by what should have been his clan.  Kendra’s hand on her leg forestalled her angry comment.

 

“Considering the state of the foster care system, it’s a good thing they did,” Kendra said frankly, “even with a trust fund to care for you it’s hard to say where you might have ended up.”

 

The young man looked up at her with a grim expression on his face, “Yea I know.”

 

Dominique settled back in her seat feeling unsettled, she knew they were right, she had seen enough in the news to know that the care for those children without a family to claim them was uneven at best and fraught with possible danger.  As much as she hated to admit it, even with their failings Robert’s aunt and uncle were a better place for the young Owl’s chosen to be than the foster system. 

 

The redhead studied him while Kendra and he discussed the classes he was taking and his interest in robotics.  He had a rectangular shaped face with a strong jaw and chin, and high cheekbones.  A nose that was neither too wide nor too narrow, and lips that could be described the same way.  His curly brown hair was a little long, but not overly so for his age, she thought, remembering other young men she had seen.  He was a handsome for a young male human Dominique decided.  Despite his disability, he looked to be strong with well-developed shoulder and arms, probably from moving his body around she decided, and he had not let himself become overweight.  If anything, she thought critically, he could use a little more flesh on his bones, as he was almost too lean.

 

She turned her attention to the discussion Kendra and he were having, her lover was currently questioning him about his knowledge of fuel cells.  The redhead listened intently to the conversation about the different types of fuel cells and then the pros and cons of hydrogen proton exchange membrane fuel cell vs. the direct methane fuel cell.  It was obvious to her that her lover knew more about the details of the current difficulties faced by both types of fuel cells, but Robert was asking intelligent questions that showed that he understood what Kendra was saying.

 

The van slowing to a halt at the doors of the Columbus Circle Shops brought a halt to the conversation.  Dominique looked at her watch; it was 11:45 am, they had plenty of time to make it to the restaurant in time for their reservations.

 

“Ms. Destine,” the startled recognition in the host’s voice irritated Dominique; they had been receiving the same type of looks throughout their walk through the Shops.  She hadn’t anticipated that the news coverage of their kidnapping and then their rescuing themselves had made Kendra and she pseudo celebrities.  At least no one had presumed to come up to them and begin a conversation.  Though at least one overheard conversation between two young women had been entertaining as they waited for the elevator to take them up to the fourth floor.

 

“Is that the women who were kidnapped?” asked the first young woman.

 

“I think it, is they both look like the pictures they showed on TV,” said the second.

 

“Damn, that one looks like she walked those 350 miles without even breaking a nail,” commented the first respectfully.

 

The elevator doors had opened then, and they had stepped inside leaving the two young women.  Both Kendra and Robert had stared at her hands until she held them up for their inspection with a wry look; obviously, they thought she was the one the two young women were discussing.  Kendra and Robert inspected them solemnly, Kendra looked down at Robert, “Damn, she didn’t break a nail,” she announced.  The elevator doors had opened then, allowing Dominique to exit before either could comment further except for the chuckling that followed behind her.

 

“We have reservations for noon,” she stated coolly to the host.

 

“Of course, madam, allow me to escort you to your seats.  As you specified, we have a suitable place prepared for your guest,” he turned toward Robert and executed a respectful half bow in his direction.  The young man looked a little startled, but inclined his head in reply before they began moving again following the host through the restaurant. 

 

None of them spotted the woman who had been following along behind them ever since she first recognized them.  When the host came back to the restaurant entrance, there was another well-dressed redheaded woman there waiting for a table.  Fox stopped the man before he lead her off in a direction other than the one she wanted, “May I have that table?” she indicated one well away from but still in partial view of the one Demona and her two companions were seated.

 

“Of course, madam,” the host politely answered, Fox hadn’t really thought he would argue with her especially since he had already recognized her, her tattoo was both a curse and a blessing that way.  She seated herself at the booth and slid back toward the wall before looking over at her quarry, neither of the three seemed to have noticed her, good.  She recognized Kendra Canmore from the news, but she had no idea who the good-looking young man in the wheelchair was with them.

 

Dominique was pleased with how quickly Robert was adapting, it was obvious to her that he had never been in an establishment like this one.  He had been wide-eyed and watchful ever since the host and a nearby waiter had assisted Kendra and her with their chairs, and then the waiter had opened and placed their napkins across their laps before he poured water for the table.  “Males usually place their own napkins,” she reassured him quietly after the waiter had left, having noticed his uncertain glance at the napkin he had placed in his own lap.

 

He looked up at her from his examination of the table and nodded, “silverware is outside to in?” he whispered.

 

“Yes,” she confirmed, “just watch what Kendra and I do and you’ll be fine,” she reassured him.

 

Kendra chuckled drawing their attention, “If you sit up straight, don’t rest your arms on the table like your guarding your food, and don’t belch you have most of polite behavior for men covered,” she commented dryly.

 

Dominique smirked, amused, Kendra was right.  In dining, like most things in human society, there was a definite double standard when it came to acceptable male and acceptable female behavior.

 

Robert looked back and forth between them, taking in their expressions, “I think I can manage that.”  He turned his gaze to the menu in his hands.  A slight frown formed on his face as he looked at it.

 

“Get what looks good to you Robert,” Kendra commented, glancing over at him, “don’t worry about the prices.  I’m going to have the strip steak myself along with the Belgian endive salad and I was thinking the chilled seafood platter looks interesting as an appetizer for the table.”

 

“Hmm,” Dominique commented glancing over the menu, “I believe I’ll go with the strip steak as well and a Caesar salad.”  Her decision made she turned her attention to the wine menu, “Wine?” she asked Kendra.

 

“Please,” Kendra replied, “split a bottle?”

 

Dominique nodded, “Bordeaux or Cabernet?” she smiled as she looked up from the wine menu into her lover’s blue eyes.  She enjoyed the fact that Kendra seemed to know almost as much about wines as she did.

 

Kendra picked up the wine menu by her hand and glanced at it for a minute, “Are you really set on a Bordeaux or will a Napa Meritage do?”

 

Robert listened as the two women continued to discuss what wine to have with lunch, being with them was both more intimidating and more fun than he had imagined.  He really hoped he hadn’t disappointed Kendra with his lack of knowledge about fuel cells; the technology wasn’t anything they had really discussed in depth at school, and most of what he knew he had picked up from the journals at the library.  The more he was around Dominique and Kendra the more interesting the idea of working at Nightstone became to him.  The idea of working with cutting edge technologies even before he started college was a definite draw for him, but it was also fascinating to watch the way people reacted to the two women.  Despite the casual way the women had accepted the host and waiter’s help with their chairs and napkins, he could see that not everyone got quite that level of service.

 

The waiter arriving for their orders interrupted his thoughts.  He had intended on getting his steak well done as his aunt and uncle always cooked it, but hearing Kendra order hers rare and Dominique medium-rare, he tentatively ordered his medium instead.

 

“So,” Dominique said, once they had placed their orders and the waiter had left, “you mentioned you were interested in electrical engineering.  What do you know about nanoengineering?”

 

Her green eyes held a hint of challenge as she waited calmly for his answer.  He knew almost nothing about nanoengineering, he had heard of the name and had a vague idea about what it was, but none of the companies developing it were discussing it publically yet.

 

“Dominique,” Kendra chided her gently, “I don’t know much about it either.  You know no one’s talking about it because you’re all rushing to develop something worth patenting before you allow your R&D guys to publish.”

 

The redhead nodded, “I know but he’s going to face questions and challenges like that if he comes to work for us.  They’re going to see his youth and wonder why we hired him; I need to see how he does with these types of questions.”  Her challenging gaze turned his direction once again.

 

He straightened and took in a breath lifting his chin slightly; he knew that he pretty much knew nothing about the subject.  “I don’t really know anything about it except for the name and that it involves engineering materials such as tubes and wafers which measure only microns across.”

 

She continued to stare at him for a moment longer before her face relaxed into an approving smile, “I would have been surprised if you had, as Kendra noted very few of the details have been published yet.  I wanted you to tell me that you didn’t know instead of trying to pretend that you did.”  His face must have registered his surprise because she continued, “I don’t expect you to have the same level of knowledge as my lead researcher,” she assured him.  “And trust me it’s much better to say up front that you don’t understand something than have it come out once you’ve proven to everyone that you don’t,” she commented dryly.

 

Kendra snorted, “That sounds like it comes with a story.”

 

Dominique nodded, “A former employee caused us to miss putting in a patent for a process that we should have easily beaten Xanatos Enterprises to, it cost Nightstone several million dollars in wasted research efforts.”  She looked over at Robert, “Not that you’ll see that type of responsibility for several years, but I believe that gives you an idea of why you need to be honest about what you know and what you don’t.”

 

He looked at her searchingly; her last statement implied that she saw him working for her at Nightstone in the future, “Does that mean I have an internship this summer?”  The redhead glanced over inquiringly at Kendra.  Robert turned that way as well waiting for the other woman to answer.

 

Kendra tilted her head, “You sure you want to?  She can be pretty scary when she puts her mind to it,” she indicated Dominique.

 

Robert frowned puzzled; he didn’t understand why Kendra seemed to be trying to discourage him now.  He glanced over at Dominique, he wasn’t afraid of her, she was still very intimidating of course, but he certainly wasn’t afraid of her.  Actually, he felt safer and more confident than he usually felt out in public with the two of them.

 

“From your expression I gather that you don’t find me scary?”  Dominique commented, her tone reassuring.

 

He shook his head, “You’re intimidating, but I’m not frightened of you.”

 

“Good, I never want you to be,” Dominique stated, looking directly at him, “but I do have a temper and there may be times when I lose it around you.” 

 

He stared back at her wide-eyed at the thought; suddenly he could see how she could be scary.

 

“You understand I’ll be your boss when you come to work and that she’s my boss there?”  Kendra asked him, drawing his attention away from Dominique.

 

He nodded, “I understand.”

 

Kendra grinned, “Then you have an internship this summer.”

 

The waiter arrived with their appetizers, placing salads in front of each of them and a platter of chilled seafood in the center of the table.  Robert waited until he was gone to reply, “Thank you,” he returned her grin; “I think I’m looking forward to it.”

 

The Jaguar’s chosen chuckled at his reply, he cast a glance over at Dominique, but she was apparently engrossed with her salad.  Her green eyes rose briefly to meet his gaze and he saw the warm amusement in them.  When the redhead turned her attention to her plate he started on his own salad feeling happy inside, he wasn’t certain how his aunt and uncle were going to react, but he would be 18 in only four months and they couldn’t stop him from going to work at Nightstone during the summer.

 

They had barely finished off the seafood platter when the waiter brought out their steaks.  Kendra’s had an impressive amount of blood red juice or maybe just blood, draining from it.  Dominique smirked; she said to Robert, “if you get that side I’ll get this one in case her steak decides to make a run for it.”

 

Robert grinned, the bloody steak reminded him of the fact that the full moon was next weekend and he wondered if Kendra normally preferred her meat this raw or it was an effect of the approaching moon.

 

Kendra picked up her knife and fork, with one smooth motion she sliced the steak in half, “it’s not going anywhere now,” she assured them.  Unfortunately, the waiter chose that moment to pour wine into the two women’s glasses, the man halted staring wide eyed at Kendra’s plate and then quickly poured the wine and left.

 

Dominique held her hand over her mouth covering the smile there until the human left.  As soon as he did, she dropped her hand to her lap and commented to Kendra, “We’re supposed to be showing Robert how to eat in polite company, not showing him how to terrorize the wait staff.”

 

Kendra reversed the grip she had on her knife to a more proper one, she sliced off a small strip of steak and cut it into bite-sized portions, “Can’t we do both?” she asked looking up with a perfectly innocent expression.

 

It was too much for Dominique to keep her composure, the redhead leaned back in her seat laughing merrily, gazing over with a warmly affectionate look at her lover.  She didn’t pay attention to the sound of coughing in the background, nor the voice of a waiter asking if another patron was all right.

 

Robert joined in with Dominique’s laughter, even as he marveled at how it completely changed her face.  In one moment, she went from regal and slightly unapproachable to a beautiful older woman with warmth dancing in her eyes and laugh.  The loving look she gave Kendra then made a wistful lump rise in his throat, he hoped he found someone some day that he wanted to look at in that way.

 

 

 
 
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