Five years. We’ve been on the run for five years. Dear God! It certainly doesn’t feel like that long! Some nights it feels as if we left ho- left just a week ago at most.

Five years.

No, on second thought it does feel that long. Eric and I have gotten so much closer during our time. We think, act, and move together as well as two separate people possibly can. So often I catch myself thinking of him as brother, a gargoyle instead of my human friend.

Sometimes.... Sometimes I wish so badly he was a gargoyle. Or that I were human. I – I suspect I might be – No! It can’t be. Humans and gargoyles are two separate races. They must remain separate. It’s always been so, and therefore must always be so.

Gargoyles protect humans.

But sometimes humans protect us.

Love. Love was never supposed to enter the picture, or at least not this type. Brother, friend, yes. More is impossible.

I just have to wonder... I’ve always been told humans and gargoyles cannot have children together. How did they find that out unless some have –

No. Mustn’t think that, mustn’t hope. We’ve traveled all over Canada, too much of Mexico, and most of the US with that damnable Johnson hounding us, and he’s still at it. There is no room for romance.

Even if it weren’t impossible.

1951, balcony of a New Mexico hotel

Mariah woke with the usual yawn-roar, then stared around at the night. The sky was clear and there were more stars here then at home. She shivered at a light breeze brought goosebumps to her skin. Strange... she thought, the weatherman didn’t predict that it would be cold.... As the breeze strengthened, she shivered again. No. It’s time.... Mariah took a deep breath and prepared to leap off the building when Eric cleared his throat behind her. Her talons cut into her palms when she clenched her hands into fists in a desperate effort to remain in control. “Eric.” She tried to keep her voice flat, emotionless. To do otherwise would be to give into instincts, baser urges then she wished to show him. “I’m going out for the night. I probably won’t be back until tomorrow.”

“’Riah, look, I know you want to go on patrol, but we need to move. Johnson’s getting too close for comfort.”

Deep breath. Ignore the feelings within. And for the Dragon’s sake, don’t look at him! “It’s not a matter of wanting to protect. I need to go out tonight. I need to fly.” I can’t stay here, not tonight... not with you.

Eric stared at the gargoyle’s back. He’d never seen her so tense, and she’d never used this clipped, choppy tone with him. He went over a quick mental checklist to see if he’d done anything to offend, but came up blank. “Mariah, what’s wrong?” he asked, reaching out to put a hand on her shoulder.

At his touch she flinched and let a small snarl loose, the red of her glowing eyes backlighting her face. Eric pulled back with a startled gasp. What had he done? Why wouldn’t she even look at him?

“I’m sorry,” she finally managed. “But tonight.... Tonight I have to fly. It’s a gargoyle thing.”

A gargoyle thing? The words sparked a faint memory of his time with the clan, when he’d so innocently asked about marriage practices – or as it had turned out, mating practices. “Once every twenty years, there’s a mating flight. Now there’s a night you’ll want to see, Eric, a hunt the likes you humans ignore, or never see. We feel the need in every bone, every muscle, every cell. The need to fly until caught, then mate until exhaustion.... *chuckle* I suppose we’re lucky it’s only every 20 years!”

“Wait,” he called, even as she moved to leave the balcony. She hesitated, virtually quivering for the need to fly. “You... don’t have to go.” Dear God, what am I thinking?? I’m a damn widower! She’s not even human! She’s something completely different! She’s... beautiful.

Mariah shook her head, long black hair reflecting moonlight as she studied the ground. “You don’t understand, I can’t be here, not with... not with you.”

“Why not?” Greatly daring, he rested a hand upon her back between her wings. She let out a small gasp, then her hands clenched, crushing her grip into the railing.

“Please Eric.” Her voice was strangled. “Don’t – not there. It’s....”

“Now see, right between the wings, there.... My mate just about falls apart when I get her there. Tell me, Eric, what do you humans do without wings? Do you even HAVE those sensitive spots?”

“I know,” he admitted. “It’s time for your flight, isn’t it?”

Metal creaked beneath her hands. “Yes.”

“Do you- do you have to fly?” Karen, forgive me, please.

She froze, statue still. “What?” Mariah finally asked.

“One night,” he heard someone say. It couldn’t be him, could it? “Just one night, between friends. It doesn’t have to go any further.”

“You’re human. I’ll hurt you.”

“We won’t know that without trying, now will we?”

She still wouldn’t look at him. “You do realize we aren’t.... We can’t....”

“No children? Yes.” Still nothing. Damn fool. Shouldn’t have startled her like that.   “I’m sorry,” he said, turning and heading back to the room. “I didn’t mean to push you like that.”

When something long and thin wrapped around his leg, he almost yelped before realizing it was ‘Riah’s tail. He turned to find her a step behind him, eyes still glowing a subtle red. “One night,” she whispered, drawing closer, “just one night between friends.”

3 months later

Mariah cautiously followed Eric into the church, checking behind them for any sign of someone following them. Nothing.

Their footsteps echoed eerily through the empty building as Eric led her to a small recess in the wall. She was more occupied with gawking around her. While she had peeked inside one of these structures from time to time, even occasionally perched for the day on several, she had never actually been inside. The combination of stark stone and lavish decorations, particularly the paintings on the wall, enthralled her. Eric brought her back with a small tap on the shoulder (accompanied with a small squeak), gesturing to the booth. The two squeezed onto the bench obviously meant for one, unconcerned with the fact that they nearly had to sit on each other’s laps.

There was a small cough from the other side of a lattice-worked screen before the decorated panel behind it was slid back.

“Yes?” an older man’s voice inquired.

“Forgive me Father, for I have sinned,” Eric replied in a voice deeper then normal, giving Mariah a quick, dirty look as she shifted, uncomfortable with the entire thing. Her few experiences with priests were... not pleasant.

“What are your sins, child?”

“I have lusted after and slept with a woman whom I am not married to.”

A momentary silence. “Is she married?” Mariah choked back a giggle. That wasn’t what she was expecting.


“I see. Was this a voluntary joining or just a dalliance?”

“It is love, Father.” Her mate’s voice was low, but full of feeling. Without conscious thought, the two found themselves holding hands. “On both our parts.”

“Really. And what are your intentions?”

“We wish to marry.”

“Tell me, my son, is that all?” The priest sounded slightly perturbed.

“Well... she is of a different faith.”

And race, she added mentally.

“Well, in this day and age, it is not such an unusual thing. Nor is it as improper as it was several years ago. I’m sure one of you will convert eventually. Fifteen Hail Marys and five Our Fathers, then get married as soon as possible. Is there anything else you would like to confess?”

Eric shared a sly look with her before tuning back to the window. “Yes. I have been having indecent thoughts.”

Again a pause. “My son, we all have indecent thoughts, whether they be about women or killing taxmen. And if this is about another woman, I suggest that you tell your wife-to-be, not me.”

“No Father, I have been having indecent thoughts... about sheep.”

What?” the priest squawked.

Eric’s voice returned to normal. “Sheep. Young sheep, to be precise. You know, white fuzzy things farmers keep?”

The priest moved closer to the lattice work, peering suspiciously though. “Who is this?” he snapped.

Eric leaned as close as he could to the window, grinning maniacally and wiggling his fingers in a small wave. “Now Padre, we both know that you aren’t supposed to have that information.”

“Eric Brenner?!” the priest roared, jumping up and coming around the confessional. “My God, is that you, boy?”

Eric slid past Mariah, out to get swept up into a giant bear hug that nearly cracked his ribs. Mariah stayed in the confessional, no doubt studying the man that her mate embraced. Eric knew the sight well; a slightly stout middle aged priest with dark skin, curly, graying brown hair, and happy blue eyes. “My God, Eric, we all thought you were dead!”

Eric finally pulled away and grinned impudently at Father Larry. “You should know that those rumors have always been greatly exaggerated.”

Larry chuckled. “True, true. So you finally found someone?” Barely waiting for the affirming nod, he continued. “Wonderful! I thought that after Karen- I’m sorry. I shouldn’t-”

He was already shaking his head. “Don’t worry about it. I miss her, I think I always will, but Mariah....” He trailed off into a smile. “I love her.”

“Wonderful indeed! When do I get to meet her? And when are you two planning on getting married?”

Eric just managed to stop a look back at the confessional. “There are a few things you should know first,” he hedged. “She’s... of a different race.”

Larry snorted and ran a hand through his hair. “Eric, you know I of all people am not about to protest that.”

“I believe my love meant ‘species’ instead of race,” Mariah declared, stepping into the light.

The priest stared at her in complete shock. “Oh my,” he finally managed.

The gargoyle grinned, the sight of her fangs making Larry’s eyes grow even larger. “He has much the same reaction.”

“I did not!” Eric protested.

She snorted. “Please. I still consider myself lucky you were just wounded at the time, otherwise we might not be having this conversation. Just one question.” She turned her attention to the priest. “What did you mean you would not be protesting?”

He finally regained some color in his face. “My- my parents had a multi-racial marriage. Dad was white, but my mother was black. You... want to marry him?”

She nodded and held out a hand. “I don’t think we’ve been properly introduced. I’m Mariah. No last name.”

The priest shook her hand, some tentativeness disappearing when it was clear she wouldn’t attack. “Father Lawrence Symon. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

A small gasp behind them whirled the three around. A young human girl stood behind them, copper hair in a sleep-mussed braid and hazel eyes wide. “What’re you?”

The Father coughed and moved over to try to gently shove her upstairs. “Naomi, you know you should be in bed right now.”

“But she hasn’t said what she is. Is she a spirit? Or an angel?” The girl began to bounce in place. “Are you my guardian angel?”

Eric blinked, once again amazed at how such open, easily accepting children like this could be the product of people that hated so much they’d do everything possible to destroy those different from them.

But Mariah, bless her heart, was not so awed. Or perhaps awed enough to act. She walked over to the fearless girl, then crouched down. “I’m a gargoyle,” she said softly. “Not an angel. But I do protect. It’s what gargoyles do.”

“There’s more of you?” If possible, Naomi’s eyes widened.

“Yes.” Mariah didn’t try to hide the pain on her face. “But not here. Someplace secret.”

The child looked at the gargoyle for a second, then her face scrunched in confusion. “Then why’d you leave your family?”

‘Riah hesitated, then turned partially and pointed to Eric. “See that man?” she asked in a near whisper. Naomi nodded. “I love him. We’re going to be married.”

A blissful smile spread over Naomi’s face. “So then you’ll go back to your family?”

“No. I wish I could, but.... I don’t know how to find them. When I left, I lost the secret place.”

“Oh.” The child’s face fell. Then her expression grew stubborn. “I’ll help you find it!”

The gargoyle didn’t stop a smile, but somehow made it proud instead of condescending. “Thank you. When you do, tell the priest here. In the meantime, my love and I will try. If we find it first, we’ll tell Father Larry. All right?”

“Okay!” Her nod was interrupted by a huge yawn she couldn’t smother.

‘Riah grinned. “Go on, kiddo. Get some sleep. I’ll protect you tonight, but tomorrow I need to go looking again.”

She got a kicked puppy dog look, but when that didn’t work, Naomi gave her a hard, fierce hug. “Promise to tell Father Larry?”

The gargoyle nodded as she enfolded arms and wings around the child. “I promise.”


They watched the child scamper off, then ‘Riah turned to Father Larry. “Nice kid. What is she doing here, might I ask?”

The priest let out a breath and sat in one of the pews. “Naomi Sandburg is an orphan. She was brought here during the war and brought up as... a communal child, I suppose is a good term. Her parents... never made it out of the concentration camps. We’ve been trying to find a home for her lately, but taking in a Jew, particularly one as old and rambunctious as Naomi....” He sighed and shrugged. “Well, the Lord will provide. But back to something you said... you two are planning on marriage?”

“Actually, that’s why we came,” Eric admitted. “I was hoping you might be able to perform the ceremony.... Tonight, maybe?”

“Able? God, Eric, I’d be honored!” The priest stood and held out a hand to Mariah, which she took. “Let’s get started, shall we?”

3 months later

I am worried. My “gift” of foresight has never been very accurate or clear, yet ever fickle. The six month incubation period for the females is very nearly over, and I cannot shake this feeling of dread. But I do not know why I have this feeling. So I have taken some precautions. Even with my protections, I dare not write them here in fear of a traitor (gods forbid! The clan has still not recovered totally from the last of such!). But my clan will not die! Our race will survive, by whatever means possible. As we have, as we will. I at least have the assurance that one of the eggs will hatch into my successor. Perhaps that is what worries me. I still recall my own journeys of initiation... and when – No. I will come back after the crisis is past to finish my memories. It is the only safe way.

1 week later (still 1951)

A scream ripped through the hotel room like a horde of peacocks greeting the dawn in a church. Eric was on his feet, gun cocked and ready for anything before he was even truly awake. Even half-asleep as he was, it took only seconds to hone in on Mariah. She was sitting upright in bed, wings flared and entire body trembling as she stared with wild eyes at the far wall. Then, before his shocked eyes, the tough-as-nails warrior he married collapsed into a hysterically bawling heap.

For several minutes he tried his best to comfort the frenzied gargoyle, receiving only wild tears and gasped phrases before she descended into complete incoherence. Countless minutes later, she approached quiet sniffles and released her death grip on his arms.

When he figured she was calm enough, he stopped the stream of comforting nonsense to give her another squeeze and mutter, “Calm down, love, it was nothing, whatever happened, it’s alright.”

“No it’s not!” she protested into his nightshirt. She finally looked up, face tear-streaked and still wild with fear. “It – it seemed so real!”

“It wasn’t. It was just a dream.”

She shivered. “It seemed so real,” the gargoyle whispered again.

What seemed so real?”

Mariah was silent for so long he had to wonder if he’d pushed her too far. Just as he was ready to pull back and see, she began to speak.

“I... I was at home, just at sunset. And when the clan woke up - ” a sense of profound wonder and happiness crept into the gargoyle’s voice - “so many of my rookery sisters and mothers were with egg. It was incredible.”

“And? Then what, love?” he prodded. Surely that wasn’t reason to scream so.

“It was time for the eggs to come. They were partway through when....” Her face crumpled and she shivered again. “Humans,” she whispered, voice hollow and as pained as if it came from the grave. “Those who had been allies. They came, the ones we trusted for protection, and they – It was a slaughter. Adults, hatchlings... even the eggs. My sisters, not even through labor, trying to defend themselves against murders....” Her voice trailed off into more tears, these disturbingly almost silent.

“Shh, shh, it’s alright ‘Riah, it was only a dream.”

“It was horrible. I saw almost all of them, witnessed every death and couldn’t do a damned thing. Kip and his mate, shot by someone they called friend, eggs smashed their first night in existence, Feris, screaming as they chopped him apart before the whole clan while Angel brought their egg into the world.... Then as soon as her labor was over, she put on the dress I made for her mating flight and went after his killers. She died killing them.... By the Dragon, how could I imagine something so horrible?!?”

“You’re worried about them, love. It’s the worst possibility, that they all die.”

She shook her head, tiny movements of protest. “Not all. Sadie got away, Mector, Talia, some of the others, and with eggs. But not enough, not safe, not unharmed.”

“Shh. It wasn’t real, Mariah. It was just a dream.”

“It was Hell.”

“That too. You’ve had a nightmare, that’s all. Let it go. It can’t affect reality. Just a nightmare.”

Mariah reluctantly let him pull her back onto the bed. Eric lay awake most of the night, watching as his wife shifted restlessly, eyes scanning the walls and seeing only horrors of her mind.

Late Summer, 1952
Deep in Big Basin Redwoods State Park (CA)

Ancient psyches stirred to life as once again they were approached. What would it be this time? They were too old, too inhuman to wonder such things, but some of the younger intelligences came close enough to anticipation. Would it be another group of the young minds, passing through with only a few twittered comments? Or something different?

It was only two, two very small lives. Many of the intellects turned their attention away, uncaring for such small sparks, but something caused the Eldest to stir. They all knew better than to ignore the Eldest, who had sprung from even older psyches, leaving it with the memories of the large brief sparks that sometimes towered over even the tallest trees.

They... are different, the Eldest declared. Two of the three.

Even the youngest knew the significance of that. All turned their attention to the pair of sparks merging, ignorant of their watchers.

The prophecy? one finally ventured. Are they the ones to bring it about?

Perhaps, the Eldest said. They are purebreds, but one of three must first come from one of two. They could be the start of the chain.

The end could be this close? another of the younger psyches asked.

Only if they produce another spark. They cannot do that alone.

Then we must interfere. The end is coming, the Eldest said. So the one of three must come soon as well.

They all eagerly reached out for the pair, sending tendrils of energy towards the two sparks. It was high past time to find out.

Mariah stirred and opened her eyes, glaring around as she tried to figure out what was wrong. Last she knew, she and Eric had been backpacking through the park, until reaching a grove that seemed more like a man-made romantic hideaway rather than natural growth, though considering the ages of the redwoods involved, it had to be natural. Never ones to turn down what seemed like a hint from the Almighty, they’d set up camp and had a very relaxing evening. “Just one night” indeed, she thought with an amused snort before shrugging. Nothing seemed out of place.

It was probably just bad dreams. Well, odd more than bad. Mariah frowned at the vague memory. Strange images of Eric and herself as human, fae, and other bizarre creatures, bloodshed and destruction, light and joy, and often, children of all races and appearances. Nothing else was clear, but it left a lingering sense of unease, being off balance, of change. That’s it. No more sex unless it’s under a roof: the side effects are too damn strange. She sat up with a yawn and joint popping stretch, managing to wake Eric. He groaned and rolled over, face towards the tree tops but eyes still shut.

“I’d say let me sleep just a little bit longer, but if I have one more dream I’ll go ballistic.”

“Bad night?”

He snorted. “Disturbing as hell. You as a human, me as a gargoyle, something completely different.... All very strange.”

She blinked, then stared down at him. “What?”

“Oh, it’s nothing, just -”

“What about children?” she demanded, shifting to a more comfortable position. Her as a human? Too familiar, too similar for coincidence. She shivered, both from a sense of dislocation and trying to shake off a feeling of lightheadedness.

Eric paused. “What about children?” He opened his eyes, which then widened further in shock. “Mariah?” he gasped.

“What? What is it?”

He reached out with a trembling hand and ran it over her forehead. What on- that felt odd. My horns? She also reached up, freezing when her hand came into view.

Her five fingered, olive toned human hand. “Eric?” Her voice was weak, trembling. “What’s going on?”

“I don’t know.”

“This is not happening,” she whimpered, still staring with helpless shock at her hand, “I’m a gargoyle, not a human!” Her hand shimmered, then resolved into its usual form.

After a stunned moment, Eric finally found his voice. “What the hell is going on?”

This has to be the strangest thing that has happened to either of us – whatever it is. I’m positive it’s magic at work, though by who or for what purpose is beyond me. I’m certainly grateful to who- or whatever it is. I can see the sun....

Turning human at will is a strange experience all in itself. I’ve learned the hard way to keep my concentration or else: turning into a statue midday is a truly bizarre experience, though as a whole this is a boon greater than I ever imagined.

Eric has changed as well. It is not quite so radical, so visible. He’s gotten stronger, less vulnerable to injuries. He can’t change shape, but he seems much more chipper come sundown.

I wish I had more answers, but the only place to look is that grove of redwoods we slept in. And I for one have never found a tree to be very informative.

Fall, 1952

Eric shifted from foot to foot, leaning close to the wall, his gaze switching from his watch to the sun to the statue of his mate and wife. 3...2...1...

A bellowed roar, the crackle of breaking stone, then the gargoyle’s face turned a deeper green an instant before she ran for the bathroom.

He waited a second before knocking on the slightly open door that allowed retching sounds to waft out. “Love,” he called, despite common sense screaming for him to stay quiet, “I did warn you about that anchovy fluff sandwich last night. And, well, this is the third night in a row. Are you sure you didn’t catch some sort of cold for gargoyles or something?”

“Eric, I love you deeply, but if you say another word about any type of food, I will rip out your voicebox through your nose.”

The human took a cautious step backwards.

“As for catching a cold... especially for gargoyles... no.” She took a deep breath and stepped out, giving him an amazed and totally shocked look. “But... I am pregnant.”

Eric nearly fell over in shock. As it was, he needed to sit down and wonder vaguely if the hotel stored brandy anywhere. “Pregnant?” he echoed, voice not sounding like his own. “How can you be pregnant?”

‘Riah grinned weakly at him. “Think back over the nights for the past few years, love. That’s how.”

“I thought you said we couldn’t. Have children, I mean.”

She frowned. “I did. It’s what I’ve always been taught: humans and gargoyles are incompatible, and any pairing puts Romeo and Juliet to shame.”

“So... how?”

She shrugged. “Maybe it has to do with my tuning human trick? I know as much as you, love. But I’ve another question: what do we do with the child? Whatever it is?”

How the hell do human females stand it??? Nine fucking months with a child... I thought the five to six we gargoyles must undergo was harsh....

Well, be that as it may, Eric and I are now parents. I’m not sure just how I feel about this. Shock and pleasure aside, we now have to deal with an egg for.... Well, I’m not sure. Will it be the ten years a gargoyle hatchling usually undergoes, or something completely, humanly different? More importantly, what about Johnson? We’ve eluded him even during the pregnancy, but it’s come so close, too close. That last message of his, about trying to spawn the Anti-Christ.... Bad enough when he was just calling me a demon.

As much as we both hate it, Eric and I have agreed. Our life is not one that we could raise a normal child, let alone one that will be a helpless egg for God knows how long. We’re taking it back to the clan. They cannot turn away a potential clan member, even if it is my child. Though Dragon have mercy if I let out it is a half human child....

At least I can guarantee that I will leave no more children with them. The pregnancy was not an easy one. I wish we could provide the child with a younger sister or brother, so as he or she would not be the only halfbreed in the world, but my insides were too badly damaged bringing the egg into being....

I’m sorry, my child, my son or daughter. For so very, very much.

Spring, 1953

Oh God. Mariah stared around her, heartstrings nearly ripping apart under memory and longing. It hasn’t changed a bit. She bit her lip and took in her clan’s land with hungry eyes, desperately trying to imprint details. The field was still cluttered, maybe a bit less so than it had been, a bit more overgrown, but undeniably there was hardly a change. She finally dragged herself away from the scene and approached the house with a combination of stealth and fear that slowed her progress almost as much as the heavy backpack she wore. It was the work of moments to slip inside and to the rookery, but the silent house gave her pause. She’d expected some sort of resistance, better chances of someone catching her. Surely someone had to be around. But her very presence echoed through the rooms, a silence that only came from being in an empty house.

Strange. I wonder where they are? Mariah tried to shake off her unease, sternly reminding herself that she should be glad that there was no one to catch her. She moved to the rookery, easing the creaky door open. She shut it just as carefully before flicking on the light. As fluorescent lights flickered to life, she bit her lip in anticipation. The rookery... home of her clan’s – her race’s! – future. How full would it be this time?

Her jaw dropped, an involuntary shriek escaping when the light finally solidified. “No!” she whispered, shaking her head in denial. “This cannot be!” It simply was not possible!

“Seven?” She carefully looked around, absurdly searching the racks which she once remembered as full, now so obviously, pitifully empty. There were only the seven eggs, huddling in the first row like homeless puppies in a pile.


“What happened? How?”

“The humans.”

The sudden voice had Mariah whirling around, posed defensively against attackers. Then the voice and image before her registered. “Sadie?”

The venerable gargoyle finally looked her age, eyes soulful and no longer twinkling with mischief in a wrinkled face. She leaned heavily on a cane, her now hunched posture making her shrink into a fragile sculpture. Sadie limped forward, favoring her left leg. One of the clan’s watchdogs followed close at her heels, panting happily.

The elder came right up to Mariah, looking her in the eyes before smiling, removing several decades from her apparent age. “It’s good you’ve come back, child. I’m afraid we haven’t fared well in the time you’ve been gone.”

“How so? You said the humans, are they why there’s so few eggs? How?” She bit back other questions, fears, memories of that long ago nightmare of slaughter. Involuntarily her eyes flickered down to Sadie’s leg, memories playing behind her eyes of the fleeing elder, muzzle flashes in a hidden tunnel that collapsed on the human killers even as a young gargoyle pulled Sadie and her precious burden of eggs to safety. No! She shook her head and shoved the dream away. It hadn’t been real.

It couldn’t have been.

Sadie sighed and carefully eased down onto framework that once held eggs. “An old story, I’m afraid. Same old song, same evil tune. Our allies turned out to be our enemies. They attacked us the night the eggs were laid.” Mariah had to sit down, shock robbing her of speech, strength, and will to stand. It could not be!

The elder continued. “We were so busy, so weak. So trusting. We didn’t stand a chance. Seven of us, eight with you, are all that are left. Eight and these seven eggs.” She reached out and put a gentle hand over Mariah’s. “I’m sorry. I know it’s a horrible shock, but there’s no way to soften it.”

Blood sprang onto Mariah’s tongue, the first sign she received that she was biting her lower lip. She shook her head in helpless denial, tears somehow sliding down her face. “I saw it.” The strangled whisper slipped free without her consent and almost without her knowledge. “A dream, a horrible nightmare, Kip and his mate first, then the hatchlings....” She looked up, begging for it not to be true. “Feris died holding the yard, and then- then- Oh, Dragon! It was just a nightmare!”

Sadie lay a hand upon her arm, but the reassuring words she needed were not coming forth. “Sometimes we find truth in dreams. There’s magic in your blood, child. Old magic, watered down, but for you to have the occasional vision.... It would not surprise me that much. Have you had any others?” Mariah shook her head, muted by shock. “Then I’d not expect more. Magic was great that night, enough to reach you. It would take a great deal to reach you again. Enough of that topic! What brings you back home?”

Mariah reached out, running a gentle hand over one of the eggs, wondering which of her brothers and sisters had brought it into the world. Brothers and sisters that would never see their child. “My child.”

The elder stared at her. “Your... what?”

She gently removed her backpack and opened it, revealing the carefully padded sphere. Wide eyed, Sadie reverently lifted it free and examined the small egg. Finally she turned her gaze to Mariah. “Then... other clans? Other gargoyles?” she gasped.

Chewing her lip, the younger gargoyle shook her head.

“Then how?!?”

“Eric.” For the first time in her life, Mariah saw Sadie as completely, utterly stunned. “Through magical means we don’t really understand. I can turn into a human, and Eric.... Eric has become more than human. He’s stronger, more... durable. And we think he’s not aging quite as fast. I don’t know what happened, but somehow....” She shrugged and gestured to the egg.

“I didn’t think it was possible, even with magic,” Sadie whispered. “This... this is amazing. What are your plans? And what happened to him?”

“He’s fine. Just distracting our pursuers while I...finish business here.”

“You’re still being hunted?”

“Yes. Which is why we cannot keep our child.” Sadie paled to a faint pink. “Please Elder, try to understand: if we must protect the egg, as well as ourselves.... We just can’t! I want my child to hatch, grow up, for God’s sake! It’s not safe with us!” Mariah was at the edge of tears.

“So you wish to leave the egg here.”

She nodded. “With clan, he or she can grow up normally.” She cast a bitter glance at the other eggs. “One more orphan with the clan as parents. Please, Sadie.”

The elder bowed her head. “I wish you and Eric could stay as well, Mariah. But yes. I’ll make sure of it. Your child will be the clan’s child.”

“Thank you.” She paused only long enough to hug the elder and give her egg one last, lingering caress, and then she left to join her mate.


He’s dead.

We’re free.

Finally, after so long, we don’t have to run anymore! Johnson is dead!!

Eric is in just as much shock as I am. I knew we’d face the monster someday, turn around and just destroy him, the battle royale, but I guess the powers that be decided it was not to be.

You know, I never realized how much blood a squished human skull can produce. Though to be fair, the bus running him over had enough speed to produce a lot of anything, but still.

The irony of it all tickles me so, in a rather empty way. Poor Eric. He’s not taking this nearly so well. But truly, how can you not find the dark humor in it? Johnson finally caught up with us, was racing across the street to arrest us or kill us or something, when out of nowhere he gets run over by a bus.

I do hope the driver doesn’t get in any trouble.


I’m not sure if I’m happy or simply so damn nostalgic I’m sad. The eggs hatched tonight. I see so many of their parents there. I’m sure the others do as well. But two bother me, somewhat. Nicole and Terry.

Nicole is the child of .........

As for Terry.... He is so obviously Mariah’s child I swear it hurts Mector to look at him. He sees a child that might have been his, even though he finally realizes it never would have happened. Never mind that I could not have allowed two bloodlines so close to merge, Mariah simply had no interest in him. Anyway. Terry is so small, fragile. He shows no other signs of his human heritage, thank the Dragon, but they suspect, perhaps even know. I fear for this rare child. He has a truly rough path before him, clouded from any attempt I make to divine the future. Not that such is unusual, but....

I know. I can feel it.

He will be important to us; the clan, our species itself.

Though I fear they are one and the same.


It is strange, not to be running. We’ve been doing it so long now that moving constantly is second nature. I was amazed when Eric proposed settling down, getting a degree of some sort. It wasn’t in our natures then, so we continued roaming. This time, Mexico was nice. Warm. All that sun!

Be that as it may, we’ve finally put down roots. I’ll follow my mate anywhere, but why he insists on Georgia is totally beyond me. Too wet, too hot, too humid. Too temperamental.

Ah well. It’s a home. That’s always a start.

I just wish- no, no use to even think about it. 8 years since he or she hatched. A child of the clan, as tradition dictates. Coming into their life now would hurt us all, even if we were allowed to.

Speaking of children, Eric’s talking about being a teacher. I wonder how that will turn out?


The hatchlings are growing so fast. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly time disappears. The hatchlings are progressing well, even Nicole and Tate. I’ll be the first to admit Nicole’s condition worried me greatly, but she seems to be handling a sightless life well enough. Not WELL, certainly, but better than any of we adults suspected.

We adults. The children have grown up, to be sure, but adults? I hate how they were forced to age so much, so quickly. Aye, I had as much a traumatic coming of age, but I’m the historian. Tis to be expected.

Enough woolgathering! Back to the hatchlings. Nicole seems especially determined not to let her sibs take advantage of her. She’s bullied her elders into as many fighting sessions a night as she can handle, and it shows that she truly loves battle. Mock battle, at least. Dragon help us when we have to put these children through patrol. It’s stressful enough to have even just a pair patrolling nightly.

So Tate worries me a bit more. The other... adults know, or at the very least suspect what they’ve never asked. They know he’s Mariah’s. I get the feeling that Mector or Talia has let it slip that he has human heritage, though I’ll be damned if I can figure out what that would be. He’s matured and grown just like the rest of his rookery. I only see signs of a private, cautious child. There is nothing extremely human or gargoyle in there. The other hatchlings have seen how the adults treat him: cautiously, afraid his human side makes him weak or fragile, with a touch of coldness when they remember he is Mariah’s child. They echo that. He suffers a few more pranks, a little more teasing, and a bit more coddling than any other peer. He’s withdrawn, I think. I doubt anyone else sees it. He maintains such a strict control of himself, hiding everything beneath a cover of “don’t give a damn.” I really must get him to speak to me more often.

Oh, admittedly this is about a fifteen year old, so he can’t hide it THAT well. But it worries me. None of us saw it coming when he blew up last night and attacked Megan for poking him repeatedly. He nearly hurt her badly.

I’ve GOT to convince Mector that treating Tate exactly like the others in the rookery is the best path. Maybe then he will not need to hate his human side when it comes out.

I’ve not Seen it, but I know: tisn’t a case of “if,” but “when.”

March 28, 1997

Time passes, as it always does. With my human mate – my husband – at my side, it seems so much like a dream, an impossibility. A wonderful one. I had never thought to return to Connecticut, to see my clan once more. I was – am – an Outcast. Then Eric got a sweet offer from a high school about half-hour from the clan. I was reluctant, but... let me be the last to stand in the way of my mate’s happiness. Eric was teaching there for nearly five years when we had that field trip. It happens every year, take the classes to the museum. No big deal. I go every year. This year...

God help me, I still don’t know what possessed hijackers to come after a school bus. With their arrival along with sunset, both of us knew what I would have to do. All I needed was an excuse to get outside. When something happened to that student, when for some reason the man guarding him failed in his job, it looked like a sign. When I saw the gargoyle at the other end of the bus... I nearly lost it. He was the right age to be of the clan, possibly rookery brother to my egg. To my child. When Jay told me later that he was my son... God, it was hard to show no emotion. Yet considering how far into shock I was, perhaps it isn’t.

I do wish our reconciliation was through better circumstances then having Tate keel over when fighting off a mugger. But be that as it may, the three of us are finally getting to know each other as a family. Tonight, though....

It is time to face the past. Tonight, we return to the Clan’s land. Tate is inviting us as allies to avoid the Outcast label, but... I don’t know what to expect. Nearly all those that I knew died years ago. What will it be like to see their ghosts in their children instead? I look forward to the trip down memory lane, but I fear what I will find at its end.

Eric slowly climbed out of the car, looking around with wide eyes. The place had barely changed. Mariah slammed the door shut, looking around in a way very similar to him. He reached back and gave her hand a small squeeze and she returned it with a small, tight smile.

“C’mon,” Tate said, calmly getting out and walking over to the house. Their son shot a look over his shoulder. “Um, you want to talk to Sadie first?”

“Please,” Mariah whispered.

Their son led them to a stairway ending at a window in the middle of the side of the house, looking like a bizarre addition as human architecture, but oddly appropriate when one considered the house was for gargoyles. When they reached the closed window, Tate hesitated and looked at them and the lit room.

“Um, why don’t I go in first and... soften the blow sorta thing?”

Mariah nodded. He clasped her hand and squeezed it, giving as much silent support as possible while their son entered the house.

“Tate, what can I help you with?” Eric felt Mariah begin to tremble beside him. He hugged her tightly.

“I brought some guests for you.” Their son turned and beckoned them in.

Mariah held her head high as they entered, but he could see her eyes shining a bit too brightly. “Elder,” she whispered to the ancient gargoyle seated in a comfortable chair near a lamp. Sadie looked up and her light red complexion faded to coral pink. She stood shakily, leaning on the arm rest and dropping her book to the floor. “Mariah,” she breathed. “Oh, child, welcome back.”

Eric stood back, watching the reunion with a mixture of pride and overwhelming peace. ‘Riah had never said a thing, but he knew what clan meant to a gargoyle. She was finally home, in all meanings of the word. He could tell that moving again any time soon would be a risky proposition for his health.

A light touch on his shoulder drew him from his reverie. Tate was next to him, a suspicious shine in his eyes. The young gargoyle jerked his head towards the door, silently asking Eric to accompany him. They slipped out, leaving the females alone behind a now closed door. Tate sniffled a bit before grinning at his father. “I’m glad they took that well.”

Eric chuckled, his eyes rather moist as well. “Amen to that. Perhaps we should visit the leader while they’re occupied?”

Tate nodded wordlessly and led the way through the rooms, the entire place having changed so little it left a definite feeling of dislocation: it was almost right, but with enough tiny changes to throw him off.

The distraction slowed him enough that Tate was first into the kitchen. When Eric entered, his first sight was the olive colored, red haired Mector seated at the kitchen table. In the chair behind him was a female with silver hair and orange-tan skin: that had to be Talia. The gargoyles stared at him for a moment before Mector stood, his blue eyes widening in shock. “Eric?” he gasped, “Eric Kaylin?”

It took the human a moment to remember the name he’d taken when staying with the clan, but then he grinned, all the while silently marveling at the changes in those he had last seen as teenagers. Both had aged well, maturing into more than he had thought possible. “It’s been a long time since I’ve gone by that name, but yes. It’s me. You’ve done pretty well yourself. Leader, is it?”

Mector grinned uneasily and held out a hand, giving Eric a firm handshake without the expected power games. “Yes. You remember Talia? She’s Second, now.” They nodded a hello. “So....” The Leader shot Tate a look. “What brings you back here after so long?”

“My son invited me.”

Eric fought back a laugh at the gargoyles’ expressions and regretted not bringing a camera. He shared a look with Tate, who grinned back. “Yeah, we both know,” his son informed the Leader.

Mector fought his way to a shaky, hesitant smile. “I... I see. Well. This is rather unexpected. I- Dragon, I’ve no idea what to say.”

“Well, almost anything other than ‘get out of here before I kill and/or mutilate you’ is good.”

After a stunned moment, the gargoyles burst into laughter. Ice finally broken, the adults settled into the combination reminiscing and lifestyle comparison universal to reunions despite the species barrier. Eric was comfortably enmeshed in the conversation when Mector stopped mid word, hands outstretched in a wild gesture. His eyes widened just before his jaw tried to hit the floor. Half sure of what he’d see, Eric turned to find what had startled the Leader so.

Mariah watched the stunned leader with uneasy eyes. “Brother,” she said, voice neutral as her nod of greeting.

“Mariah,” he finally managed to whisper. He suddenly jumped, and judging by Talia’s slit eyed look, Eric was willing to put down money that she’d done something to her mate. Mector shook his head and grinned, for the first time an almost natural expression. “Welcome back, sister.”

She gave him a suspicious look. “As I recall, last time we talked you cast me out of the clan.”

“Um.” The Leader ducked his head and turned practically purple. He rubbed the back of his neck, refusing to look ‘Riah in the eyes. “....oh that.”

The standoff was broken by Talia whapping her mate upside the head with perhaps more force than necessary before going to embrace Mariah. “Ignore him,” she advised. “Anything he said when young and hormonal was just plain stupid, so feel free to ignore it. Welcome home.” She drew back a little to give Mariah a concerned look. “You are here to come home, right?”

Eric and his wife shared a look. “Actually, sister.... We have our own home. Believe me, I’m flattered, but....” She shrugged helplessly, visibly unsure of where to take it.

The Second simply nodded. “Then know we still consider you clan.” She shot another glare at Mector. “Those of us with sense, at least. Both of you are welcome back any time.”

Her answer was cut off by approaching stomps of angry feet, accompanied by a snarling monologue. “What the hell is goin’ on? Can’t a girl conduct an experiment in peace?” a crabby alto demanded, preceding a teenage gargess, colored a bright magenta with a brown ponytail and blue, feathered wings. She blinked, taking in Mariah and Eric’s presence, then turned to lightly punch Tate in the arm. “Can’t we let you go anywhere in public without you coming home with a new gargoyle?”

“Meeeg,” he almost whined. “That’s my mom, chill already!”

“Oh.” After a double take between Eric and Mariah, she blinked. “Oh!” She nervously grinned at them. “Hey. I’m, um, Megan. Pleased to meet you.”

Talia broke in again. “It’s probably best to let the whole clan in on this. Could you please call everyone, Meg?”

“Sure!” The brightly colored gargoyle headed to the doorway, took in a deep breath, and bellowed, “HEY EVERYONE! GUESS WHO’S PARENTS SHOWED UP??”

Talia whimpered and buried her face in her hands. “I didn’t mean like that.”

Mector grinned apologetically at the Williams. “I swear we’ll housebreak them yet.”

‘Riah just grinned at him. “I seem to recall our elders making that same vow.”

March 29, 1997

It feels strange. Eric has been my home, my life for so long, and to know that I can go back finally, to return....

I don’t think of it as home anymore. I haven’t, for a very long time. But to know that we survive, that we continue... it’s too wonderful for words.

And in it’s own way, too sad. I’m not certain of most of the children I met today. I suspect that Megan is the child of Angel and Feris, and Nina is probably Kelly’s daughter, though I’ve no idea who the father might be- I could swear she once pledged never to mate with any of our rookery. It’s hard, seeing the dead in the living, knowing that they never had a chance to see their children. But the clan survives.

Our clan.

It is not home, but more and less, all at the same time. I’m back in the clan, along with my mate and son. That is far more than enough for me.

Thanks once again to MC, for friendship and encouragement, and to Datafage, for proofreading and combination warm fuzzies and ego boost from hell.

Go back to part 1

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As always, questions, comments, etc. can be sent to Norcumi@backtick.net. Actually, feedback is ALWAYS appreciated. No, really, it is!

DISCLAIMERS: All characters except Naomi (who is repectfully borrowed from Pet Fly Productions, no infringement intended, no money being made, please don't sue) belong to me. You can't use them without my permission. But if you ask, you're most like to get it. But you still have to ask. The gargoyle race in general along with some gargoyle lore are owned by Buena Vista and therefore the Great Mouse, used with great reverence, respect, and without permission or profit. Various random brand names and music selections are not mine, you'll know 'em if you see 'em.