March 13, 1998
Lexington relaxed in the chair with a soft, relieved sigh. Man, what a night. He checked a nearby clock, shocked that it was a little past seven thirty. It felt like a whole week of nights since sunset. As eager to meet other gargoyles as he’d been, he hadn’t realized how eager the other gargoyles would be.
They’re rabid. I mean, the place is nice, but after awhile, it’s just more trees. If this wasn’t my own stupid fault, I’d be annoyed.
But it was his fault. He’d been chatting to other clans via the net for months, basking in the community of like minded gargoyles. Unfortunately, the only female of the group was in Japan, but all told, that wasn’t the end of the world. After long talks between respective leaders, a tentative plan for visiting had been arranged. Lex had volunteered immediately, jumping on the chance to meet his friends. And so last night, Xanatos’ helicopter had taken him, Hudson, and Hudson’s blind friend to Connecticut.
Twenty-four hours later, and Lex was feeling very much the extra wheel. He’d had some great conversation with Silicon for a bit, but then... well, Silicon had the advantage. He’d grown up with the technology, while Lex had to learn as he went along.
It bothered him that he was jealous. But since the clan’s arrival to this century, he had been the tech wizard, the one who could master the strange, almost-magic called technology.
Comparing him to Silicon was like comparing Windows to Linux. They did the same job, but one did it so much better. Great. So is this my blue screen o’death?
Even his talents with machinery were useless; Meg had beaten him to anything he might be able to do. All told, it left him with no needed skills other than breeder, to put it in the bluntest terms. And nice as some of them were, he just wasn’t interested in any. Not to mention the only free female he’d met was..... Nina? So many names had been thrown at him lately, it was hard to remember who was called what. The one with light green hair.
So it was still bachelorhood for him.
Soft footsteps warned him that he’d been found. The New York gargoyle cringed as a gargess strode in, moving confidently to a far shelf to grab a book. She somehow moved past without noticing him, providing Lex with the opportunity to study her.
He’d never seen her before. Not a big surprise, really. His greeting committee had admitted a few of the clan were out protecting when they’d arrived. She was actually pretty, if in an unusual way. Her skin was a literal pearly white that seemed to shimmer and change to pink or greeny-blue depending on the light. Her wings, bat-like but unvaned much like Brooklyn’s, were a darker pink inside and green on the outside. Her shoulder length hair was a brilliant red that rivaled Demona’s much less constrained mane, and made a shocking contrast to her light skin. She was dressed much like most of the clan around here; a blue t-shirt carefully tucked into a belt around black jeans cut off raggedly at the knee.
Suddenly she froze, sighed softly, and turned to face him, providing him with an excellent chance to study her ice blue eyes. “I’m sorry,” she said, “I didn’t realize there was anyone in here.”
“That’s ok, I was just leaving.” There’s gotta be another hiding place around here somewhere.
“Liar,” she said, joking tone at odds with her face that could rival Owen’s for lack of expression. “I take it you came in with... now who was it? Oh yeah, Hudson?”
Lex blinked. “Uh, yeah?”
She laughed gently. “Jesus, I need to start carrying around the cane or drag Taz with me.”
“What??” This made no sense whatsoever.
“I’m blind,” she said simply.
She laughed again. This time, he could detect a faintly bitter tone to it. “Yeah, that’s pretty much what everyone says. So anyway, I just came in to get a book.”
It was his turn to grin. “Liar.”
She grinned back, a small flash of teeth that seemed to have very little to do with humor. “True. But I’m not about to deny anyone their -”
“Hey Lex!” The call drifted down the hallway.
“Shit!” the computer geek in question yelped, looking frantically around before diving behind a bookcase and the chair supporting it. Seconds later, an older, wolf like gargoyle strolled in.
“Hey, have you seen one of the New York gargoyles? He got lost when I was showing him around, and....”
“Nope, haven’t seen anyone,” the female answered smoothly, much to Lex’s stunned relief.
“Oh. Well, if you find Lexington, could you tell him I’m looking for him?”
“Sure, Liam. You check the workshop yet?”
The older gargoyle brightened. “As a matter of fact, no. Thanks!”
“Mmm hmm.” She waved as he wandered off. When the elder was gone, she turned to face Lex and crossed her arms. “You’re the other gargoyle?” she sighed.
“Yeah.” He crept out of hiding. Considering Robbins didn't stick around, I'm surprised. “Thanks for covering for me.”
“Eh, I just told the truth. Haven’t seen you. Besides, as hard a Liam tries, he’s... not the best person for tour guide. I think he’s just desperate to get off hatchling duty.”
“.......oh.” No real response to that one, and even worse, no hope of regaining their earlier banter.
“Yeah. Well.” She raised the book slightly and flashed him that small trace of a smile. “I have my book, and it was a pleasure meeting you.... Lexington, was it?”
He nodded before realizing his mistake and blurting out, “Yeah, that’s me, but everyone calls me Lex.”
“Charmed,” Nicole muttered, turning and heading for the door. She was also going straight for a footstool that would take her out at the knees.
“Watch out!” Lex yelped, jumping forward to either stop her or get the stool out of the way. What he didn’t expect was for her to step back and turn... right into his path.
He slammed into Nicole, sending both to the floor. She instantly planted a foot in Lex’s gut, tossing him into a nearby chair. He ended up draped over it like a throw rug, more concerned with trying to breathe than his dignity.
“Idiot!” Nicole snarled, flowing to her feet with several choice phrases Lex had encountered online but seldom actually heard. “What the hell was that about?!?”
“ ‘m sorry,” Lex finally managed to gasp, “was just tryin’ to help–”
“I don’t need your help!” she roared back, eyes flaring red. With that, she snatched up the book and stormed out.
“I’m sorry!” Lex called again. He sighed and leaned back. If this wasn’t his own damn fault....
Five long paces straight ahead, left turn, two steps, edge of the step... there. Now assured of her surroundings, she bounced down the stairs, snarling in time to the thuds of her feet landing. Fifteen thuds, turn step, turn step, and fifteen more thuds to the lowest floor and workout room.
There was a faint rustle, followed by a curious “aroo?”
“Stay, Taz,” she ordered, tossing the book to the side before moving onto the mat and starting a furious routine. Dammit, why did they have to treat her like that? She was blind, not crippled! But everyone, strangers to rookery sibs, treated her like she was spun glass! She snarled and spun around, snapping out a leg to kick an imaginary opponent in the head. She could handle herself, hell, she could take on anyone in the whole damn clan and clean their clocks!
With a faint growl, she lost herself in familiar patterns of fighting, dancing from lethal blow to lethal blow. Footsteps finally interrupted her fragile shell of angry peace. “What?” Nicole snarled.
A slight shuffle of feet. “I need to borrow Taz.” Mector. And he was in full out Leader mode. All the worse for him.
“I have a meeting tonight.” It was a fraction away from both a whine and a threat.
“I’m aware of that, but Toc can’t do half of what Taz can. Besides which, she finally decided those three eggs of hers need constant attention, Dragon help those poor mortals that think she needs exercise. Anyway, until those eggs hatch, the clan needs to borrow Taz.”
By now she stood still, frozen except for the rise and fall of her chest. No. I don’t need this. This isn’t happening.
“We’ll give you major time, but tonight we need Taz. Take Lexington with you. Liam’s been hounding the poor boy all night, it’ll do him good to get out for a bit.”
“I said no!” Dammit, couldn’t he get it? “I don’t need any help.”
“Need it or not, you’re getting it. Someone will go with you, or you won’t go at all. There are too many power lines and trees, not to mention the Quarrymen.”
“You will be accompanied by someone. Taz, come on.” With the last ice cold comment, the Leader turned and left, the gargoyle beast at his heels.
For a moment, she remained frozen. “God damn it!” she shrieked, wishing there was something nearby to hit, to make feel as much pain. He was treating her like an idiot hatchling, going overboard, all because –
Because you’re blind. You’re just another cripple. The insidious, eternal fact, the baseline of her life, loomed again, as it always did and always would. Chaining her. “Damn it,” she whispered again.
For lack of any motivation for anything, aside from not going to Lex, she stumbled over to the side of the room, tail tapping out in front of her until she found her book. She settled down against the wall, carefully feeling out the tiny bumps embossed on the page. What th-?
She froze for a second, then threw the book down with a wordless shriek of frustration. Inexperience at reading and gargoyle talons so less sensitive than human fingers had combined to form the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Hudson wandered down the stairs, searching for more wonders in what this clan called home. Having spent his life at Wyvern, then the past few years in New York, the old leader was delighted to have a chance to see how other gargoyles lived, ones hatched in this modern age.
A combination of sounds; claws grating against stone and snarled shouts, drew him cautiously downward. He hadn’t seen any sign of trouble, but one never knew....
The elder exited the stairwell into a large, stone-walled room decorated with mats, mirror, and machines that looked like they should be in a dungeon. Its lone occupant was a young female that stood facing the far wall. Even as he entered, she gave off another near shout and twisted in pace, body moving in one smooth motion to lash out at the wall. Right claws slashed down and across, starting her turn, which brought her foot around to score the wall, then on the return her other hand dragged through cement. When she finished her spin, she stood as before, and the three marks on the wall were deeper and only slightly wider. Space for a deep breath, then she repeated the process.
The old warrior almost involuntarily whistled in appreciation. The coordination needed to do that was much more than the average gargoyle – especially one so young! – could produce.
The female acknowledged his presence with a slight turn of her head and quick breath in through the nose that clearly told she was not happy to have an audience. “What?” she snapped before going into her spin again.
“I was just wandering aboot and heard you. And that’s quite an impressive feat.”
She hesitated in her routine. “Thanks.” Then another turn, another slash, and the gouges went even deeper. “Hudson, right?”
“Aye. And you would be-?”
“Nicole.” After a few more turns, she stopped to face him. “What do you want?”
“Nothing. I was just watching ye try to take apart the wall. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen that much skill at battle.”
She shifted, rolling her shoulders. “Yeah, well, it’s that or go postal on the clan.”
Now that was unexpected. “Why?”
Her lips rose in a sneer that revealed fangs. “I’m blind,” she snarled and turned back to the wall.
Nicole froze. “Are you senile?”
“Not the last time I checked.” Or the last time some rude youngster asked.
She snorted a bitter laugh. “Yeah well, welcome to the real world. Blind means relying on everyone else for everything.” She snarled and entered the spin, growling her words as more cement disappeared. “And I hate being dependant!”
“It only makes ye that way if ye let it.”
The elder wondered at that for a second, then shrugged and moved to lean against the adjoining wall. When Nicole seemed to have worked off some steam, he spoke. “Can I help ye somehow?”
“Don’t you people get it?!?” she shrieked. “I don’t want anybody’s fucking help! I can handle myself!”
“Just because ye don’t want to receive help doesn’t mean someone else doesn’t want to offer it.”
The white female paused, head tilted to the side. “Run that one by me again?”
“I didn’t offer because ye wanted or needed help, but because I wanted to offer something to assist yer clan.”
“This some sorta Zen Elder thing you picked up with your senior discount card?” she asked. While her tone was still bitter, she had leaned back, face thoughtful as she mulled over his words.
Hudson couldn’t stop a faint smile as he absently reached up to trace the scar over his eye. “Actually I got the lecture from one’a my warriors. A long time ago, but he had a point.” Never mind the fact that he’d nearly booted Goliath off the nearest wall at the time, the lad had actually had a point.
“Well....” She was obviously torn, mentally debating over some decision. He bided his time, waiting in silence. Eventually she sighed. “Would you mind... helping me get to a friend’s house?” she asked hesitantly.
Hudson didn’t stop his smile. “Be a pleasure, lass.”
If nothing else, Hudson was good at guiding; he was cautious enough to warn of drafts and changing wind currents, but he wasn’t the type of control freak that most of her clan descended to when ‘helping’ her.
When they landed in Sandra’s backyard, Nicole hesitated, shifting nervously from foot to foot. “You wanna join us?” she finally blurted, wishing she wasn’t blushing as badly as she had to be. Her face was burning. “It’s just three blind females talking about life an’ stuff, but....”
“Are ye sure ye want me around?”
She grinned faintly. “Everyone else brought family at one point. Be nice to be able to go to one of those.”
“If ye’re sure....”
“Positive.” Ok, so not exactly, but it would be nice to stick around when someone new was brought in. Since it had always been sighted relatives, she’d always plead out of them.
Nicole turned and moved towards the door before Hudson could come up with any other protests. The screen door creaked open; apparently someone had heard their arrival. “Nicole?” Sandra’s smooth, confident alto called.
“Yeah, it’s me. Taz had to stay home, so I hope you don’t mind I brought a friend. Sandra, meet Hudson. Hudson, this is the infamous lawyer Sandra Meyerson, hostess for our little support group.”
“I’m only infamous in court for divorce cases, so just ignore whatever flattery Nicole’s been spewing,” Sandra confided with a giggle.
“It’s a pleasure,” the gargoyle rumbled.
Sandra laughed. “Goodness, he sounds quite the charmer. Sean Connery meets Ed Asner. Watch your step, Hudson, or Kim’ll forget her manners.”
“And her husband,” Nicole laughed as she navigated her way up the stairs. Slow steps told her Hudson had followed. He stopped on the way to talk to Sandra while Nicole moved into the living room.
“Nicole, you brought a guest?” Kimberly’s reedy soprano demanded with the faint quiver of her sixty plus years. She barreled on without waiting for an answer. “It’s about time! How many eyes he have?”
By the dragon, it was good to be back. “Two. Like your husband.”
Kim made a rude noise in response. “Details, details. If he wasn’t better than any guide dog I ever had, he’d be gone in three seconds. This is wonderful! Two guests at once, and both very nice men.”
“You haven’t even met him. Who’s the other?”
“That would be me.” The voice was older, male, slightly weary if suffused with wry humor. “I’m Jeffery Robbins, an old friend of Sandra’s.”
“Nice to meet you.” Well, he hasn’t started screaming yet. Must be a no eyes. “Take it you’re as ‘visually impaired’ as the rest of us?”
He chuckled slightly. “Caught some shrapnel in ‘Nam. What about you?”
The soft brush of fur against her hand straightened her spine with a gasp. She forced herself to relax, mentally snarling at the lack of control. “This your dog that’s begging for a scratch?”
“Gilly!” Robbins said sharply. The cold nose that was scouring her hand retreated, nails clicking until they reached the area of the man’s voice. “I’m sorry, I don’t know what got into her. She’s usually much better behaved.”
Hudson’s chuckle sounded behind her. “I think she wanted to know where I was.”
“Hudson? I thought you were visiting family.”
“I’d be part of that category.” Nicole frowned, wondering just how much this human knew. If he was human. “Um, can I speak with you and Hudson outside?”
Sandra and Kim murmured their acceptance, moving further into the room and sitting in an effort to give the trio some privacy. When Nicole was certain they were out of earshot, she faced Hudson. “Does he know?”
“Know what, lass?”
“That you’re gargoyles?” Robbins added.
“I’m guessing that’s a yes.”
“Oh god.” She had a headache this big coming on.... “No Abbot and Costello, please. Okay, um, I just wanted to make sure we know where we stand. They don’t know about me being not human. I don’t think they figured out, but Kim complains about the scent a lot.”
“What scent?” Hudson demanded, sounding insulted.
“Like leather and cement. In a good way,” Robbins said.
“Hudson, chill. Take it from me, we do have a certain faint aroma. Kim just gets fussy over little things. Now that that’s all cleared up, let’s go and....”
“What is it?” the elder gargoyle asked.
“I’m not sure.” She twisted her head slightly, trying to catch the sound again. A faint creak told her it wasn’t a product of her imagination. “Odd,” she muttered. “Don’t think we’re expecting any visitors....”
“So what?” Sandra asked, tilting her head to the side more from habit than need to present her confusion to Kim.
The older woman snorted. “So what do you think is so important they need to talk it over now?”
“Who knows?” She shrugged. “It’s none of our business.”
“Oh come on. A blind, faintly anti-social teenager who goes around in leather, then suddenly shows up with an older relative no one seems to know about? Doesn’t this strike you as slightly odd?”
Sandra sighed. “How many of those silly detective novels have you read lately?”
“Looks like it wasn’t enough,” a new, young male voice added. A cold, vaguely round surface pressed against the back of her neck. “This happens to be a gun, counselor. My friend has another one, pointed at the old bitch. How many others are here?”
“Young man, you can not do this,” Kim declared.
“Shut up,” another voice ordered, followed by the snap of metal slamming into flesh and Kim’s cry of pain.
Sandra was abruptly on her feet. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?!” she screamed. “Your problem is with me, so just leave her alone!” Sudden pain roared through her face as his fist connected with her cheek, sending her to the floor.
A growl came from the doorway. Oh god, Gilly’s going after them? No! But the snarl quickly changed to an inhuman roar as something leaped over her, displacing far too much air to be the guide dog. Thumps from the direction of the men combined with screams.
When things were again quiet, a growl rose from the floor near the spokesman intruder. It was almost Nicole’s voice, but far too feral, too deep, too inhuman. “No one, but no one, threatens my clan,” the voice rumbled. “And if you wanna keep all your body parts intact, you will stay away from them.” The thwack of flesh being hit sounded again, making Sandra wince involuntarily.
After a moment of silence, Hudson’s voice came from in front of her, relatively near. “Lass, d’ye need a hand up?”
“I- I’d appreciate that.” She held out her hand, and her forearm was quickly grasped. She was pulled effortlessly to her feet, but she kept hold of the hand. What felt like steel-hard bones were covered in skin that seemed more leathery than normal flesh, and there were distinctly four, not five, fingers that seemed to taper into points rather than end normally.
“I’ll be needin’ that back,” Hudson said, his attempt at humor falling flat. She let go, almost collapsing onto the couch.
“Everybody ok?” Nicole asked, audibly rising from where that inhuman voice had threatened earlier.
“You aren’t human, are you?” The accusation sounded incredibly calm. Probably shock, she thought idly.
“I.... oh god, please don’t do this,” the girl - or whatever she was - whispered.
A sudden connection snapped into place. She had threatened that gunman like it was a commonplace event. “You’re one of the flying monsters.”
There was a faint inhalation from Nicole and a hiss from Hudson. But it was Kim that set up the most vocal protest. “Sandra!” she exclaimed indignantly. “There is no call whatsoever for that! How could you?”
“No, believe me, I didn’t mean it that way. I did a few cases in criminal defense for a friend on maternity leave. Two of the three cases were for breaking and entering, and they both talked about the winged monsters that caught them. And wasn’t there some big hullabaloo about another one in the news last year?”
“I remember that. The old hotel fire, wasn’t it?” Kim asked.
Nicole spoke after a moment’s pause. “That... was my brother. Steve. Yeah, we’re gargoyles, and we do the vigilante thing.”
“Why didn’t you tell us?”
Sandra couldn’t hold back a giggle. She wasn’t sure if it was her or Kim’s response that had so flustered their friend, but she’d earned it. Or the adrenaline rush was doing odd things to her head. Both were good possibilities.
Jeffery’s calm voice interrupted before things got too far out of hand. “The police should be arriving soon for our... unconscious friends. You two might want to get while the getting’s good.”
“Alright. Um, look, I’m really sorry about.... all this,” Nicole mumbled.
“You did what you thought was right. And you’ll be forgiven if you come back tomorrow night and explain – well, everything!” Sandra couldn’t have stopped the laughter from showing even if she’d wanted to.
Nicole apparently noticed and appreciated the vote of confidence. “You got it. Same time?”
“Ok, I’ll see you tomorrow then. Later, all.”
“Ladies, Robbins,” Hudson rumbled.
With the faint rustle – from wings? – and the clicking of nails on hardwood, the two departed. Sandra waited for a moment, letting the sudden calm wash over her, then turned towards her old friend. “Jeff?”
“I thought you said nothing exciting happened to you.”
He laughed. “You said the same thing.”
“Ye did well.”
Nicole’s flight path stuttered, sending the pair into an updraft that Hudson casually maneuvered through. “Really?”
He chuckled. “Well, I wouldn’t be sayin’ that aboot your gliding skills, but ye fight very well. Ye took that hoodlum down better’n most grown warriors could.”
“Well... thanks!” She could tell she had a silly grin plastered over her face, but she didn’t care. There was no reason for pointless flattery, not that Hudson sounded like the type to give that out in the first place. He really meant that. He thought she was useful.
Maybe the night wasn’t that bad after all.
March 19, 1998
The blind gargoyle carefully placed the weights back in their places. “What’s up, Hudson?”
“I came to say goodbye.”
“What?” She turned to face him, not quite sure what was going on.
He chuckled. “It’s been a week, lass. It’s time for us to be getting’ back to our clan.”
“Wow.” Where had the time gone? “Well I’m glad you and Lex could visit.” She was almost surprised to find it was true. Sure, she’d spent a lot of time babysitting Lex, but he was a pretty cool conversationalist if you could get him off his tech obsession for awhile. As for Hudson, the elder provided a welcome ear and unbiased opinions she hadn’t had access to since Sadie’s death. So that’s what a grandfather figure is. She grinned at the thought. “Are you planning on coming back sometime?”
“I think I’d like that. Have ye ever considered comin’ to New York?”
“Ooo. Nope, but I’m interested. I’ll keep that in mind.”
“Ye do that. I think Lexington was looking for ye, to say his farewells.”
“Alright.” After exchanging their own goodbyes, she hurried up the stairs. At the first landing, she hesitated. The only question was, where was Lex?
Well that answered that. “Hey, Lex. Heard you were looking for me?”
“Yeah, um....” He coughed and squirmed loud enough for her to notice. “I just, um, thanks.”
He shifted uneasily. “Well... putting up with me.”
What was it with males? Not one made sense. “Ohkaaay. You’re welcome.”
“Um, here.” A piece of paper was gently pushed into her hand. “Call me sometime?” he asked nervously.
“Um....” She twisted the paper, trying to figure out a polite way to remind him it wouldn’t do any good. Wait a sec.... Nicole fingered the scrap more carefully, tail twitching in surprise. Tiny bumps were deeply embedded into the thick paper... numbers. He’d written his number in Braille? “How-? How the hell did you pick this up?”
“The internet has a lot of uses.”
She didn’t stop a laugh. “Well, thanks.”
“Think you might call me some time?”
That silly idiot’s grin that had been on her face for most of the week reappeared. “We’ll see.”
First off, many thanks to the stunning Dogmatrix for the amazing pic. I still don't know how she did such a wonderful job, but thanks so much for the pic! I just hope the fic is worthy of it.
Also, triple thanks to M.C., who not only puts up with my rants, but provided nagging that helped get this to the proofreading stage and then edited it for me. Not to mention aid in describing the blasted thing. Thank you!
The picture (which loses so much amazing detail in reduced size necessary for the fic) was provided by Dogmatrix, e-mail mailto:email@example.com. She also has a website at http://www.angelfire.com/scifi/Hypetia/index.html which is highly recommended. Pop on in to T'San Enterprises to check it out!
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 to Norcumi@backtick.net! I'm happy to hear from anybody about anything!
DISCLAIMERS: All characters except those of Lexington, Hudson, Robbins, Xanatos, and Goliath, along with the gargoyle race in general and a bit of gargoyle lore, (all of which are owned by Buena Vista and therefore the Great Mouse, used with great reverence, respect, and without permission. This isn't intended as copyright infringement) 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 picture was done by and belongs to Dogmatrix, who can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.