Man or Beast?
Half-breed. I seem to recall a song about that. I think one of the lines went "How I love the hated word". Somehow, it seems appropriate. But the singer, whoever it was, could just do a few cosmetic changes and presto! One full-blood whatever.
I canít do that. Iím half human.
Huh. Not even sure what that means, really. Thought I was just another ordinary gargoyle all my life.
Iím watching her even now. Watching over her. Protecting her. Sheís in bed, curled up with a book of some sort. Probably a fantasy. And every now and then, she looks up, out the open window. She scans the sky, the trees, checks the garage. Looking for me. When she sees nothing but a few squirrels or the occasional bird, she sighs and goes back to her book.
She hasnít put the screen back in the window yet.
A part of me (the human? or gargoyle?) demands that I go down and talk to her. At least glide by and say hi. Prove that the last few months werenít a chemo-induced dream.
But what if for her, it was a nightmare? She hasn't stopped by in the time since we left Servarius and the lab, and there's gotta be a reason for that. The thought of what she went through - at home and the Bastard's lab - holds me back. A gargoyleís life is one long stream of nights spent protecting. All it takes is one lucky shot, a single desperate mugger with a knife...
She throws down the book with a disgusted sigh, drawing her knees to her chest and wrapping her arms around her legs, staring up at the night sky. I shift on my tree branch. The look in her eyes...
I remember the first time I saw those eyes. A nice, deep brown. It was my first night in the hospital, and just after I got out of surgery for my catheter. Peg brought me into a room. There was already someone in there, a near-bald girl hooked up to an IV. She was asleep. That was fine with me. I was already nervous. But then, when I pretended to yell at Peg, she talked back. We chatted for a bit. It was fun. Heh. To actually talk to a human, to see the world their way. Even if the human cheerfully admitted to be abnormal.
Then she turned and looked at me. I waited for the screaming to begin. There was fear in her eyes, thereís no question about that. But there was something else, something I couldnít place.
I can name it now. Amazement. Wonder. No human has ever, before or since, calmly looked me over, then ask me ever-so-politely what I am.
She explained it later as the result of reading too much fantasy, playing too much Dungeons & Dragons, but I still canít accept that. Humans have trouble accepting their own kind on the basis of merely skin color, let alone religion and - well, for her to simply sit there, and readily talk to me - it still blows my mind.
Sheís apparently finished with her own silent musings. She takes one last look, then lowers the blinds. A moment later, the faint light goes out.
Itís time for patrol.
Itís sunrise and I still canít stop thinking about Jay. Iím back at the clanís house, but inside, away from everyone. Itís not usual for someone to sleep inside, but occasionally, one of us wants to be alone enough to do it. I stare off to the east. Sheís seen the sun, even tried to describe it a time or two. Despite that and TV... I still canít picture it well. A momentary need, a hunger normal humans can never know, surges. To see the world the way she does, to see what the world is like during the day. To find out if the sky is really that blue. But too late. Sunrise.
I close my eyes and wait for my skin to morph to stone, to become a living statue. There is the faint crackle, like ice in winter, a slightly itchy feeling, then...
Warmth. I feel warm. My eyes snap open, then back shut. Itís like I stared at the camera just at the flash. But... I can tell itís after sunrise. It canít be sunset. For me, one happens right after the other. But this isnít the same.
I cautiously turn, still expecting stone sleep, then peek out.
The colors! There are so many vibrant colors! Everything, the furnishings of everyday life, theyíve transformed into entirely new creations! Thereís a painting on the wall, highlighted in a golden halo, that suddenly goes from an ancestorís artistic attempts to a masterpiece of brilliantly new colors. I reach out to touch it, then freeze in shock. The hand in front of me has five fingers, all a pale fleshy white with ridiculously small nails. The arm itís attached to is the same color. But thatís attached to me...
I race to the bathroom, to find a mirror. I skid into the room, trying to run on flat, human feet, and try to stare. But light blinds me. Itís-oh my gods. Is - ? itís - Itís the sun. Itís the sun. I try to block out the light to my eyes with the pale human arm and hand and look into the mirror. I donít look very different. Human, of course, and white instead of green, but... I can tell itís me.
So this is what it means to be half human. At the moment, I have no complaints.
It takes me awhile to get used to my human form. Many days I change, but fall asleep before I can do much. Then thereís the problem with sunburns...
I... left Jay, too afraid to get close - no, admit it; closer! - unwilling to deal with what my emotions were telling me. I never did enjoy hormones. Keeps you from thinking straight.
But this changes everything. There is one thing I want to do. She was responsible for my change. I want to show her, surprise her. And I know the perfect way of doing it.
Jay complained about school much of the time I knew her. As I walk onto campus, I have trouble seeing why. The place is big, but looks very interesting. I shift the unfamiliar weight of the backpack as I head for homeroom. Thanks to a little hacking via Silicon, I know Iíll be in the same one as Jay. Butterflies are going crazy in my stomach. I pull open the door and scan the room. There she is. Sheís sitting at a table at the far end, hunched over a book and dead to the world. The teacher talks to me, distracting me for a bit. As soon as I escape, I go over.
I stand behind Jay, suddenly tongue-tied. I donít know what to say. If I should say anything. I search frantically for a subject of some sort. Well, lame as it is...
"Um, this is my first day, and I have no idea where any of these rooms are. Can you help me?"
She sighs in disgust, then dives into her backpack. "Whereís your first class?" she asks, her voice muffled.
"Uh, room 114."
"Ok, thatís on the second floor in the building on other side of..." Her voice dies off as she finally turns to hand me whatever, a piece of paper, she grabbed from the backpack. "Of campus," she finishes, sounding slightly preoccupied. "Iím going to be heading there myself. Iíll show you the way if you want."
I take the map with a slight grin. She hasnít figured it out. Somehow, Iím not sure if thatís good or bad. "Thanks. Thatíll be a help. Now whereís... 227?"
"Youíre not gonna find out unless you tell me whatís your name."
"Because that makes it slightly easier to hunt you down if I donít get the map back in one piece, in relatively good condition."
I laugh. This is 100% Jay. "Makes sense. Iím Tate Knight."
She squints at me, like sheís trying to remember something, then her eyes widen. She stares at me with that same look I got in the hospital, but this time, without the fear. All my worries are gone. She knows me. Sheís happy to see me here, even if she canít believe it.
I am a half-breed. Neither human nor gargoyle. But completely content with what I am. I have the best of both worlds and the best of friends to share them with.
Let me out of here!!!! A.K.A. Home
I want to read more! To get back to the fic archive
Any questions? Complaints? Screams of outrage that I actually consider myself a writer and/or dared to show this in public? Tell me! Send it all to Norcumi@backtick.net! I love mail!!!!
With the exception of some gargoyle lore, which belong to Buena Vista and therefore the Great Mouse, everything in here belongs to me. That means if for some strange reason you want to use my characters in your stuff, you have to ask first.