Note: Just in case you don't notice the date stamps at the top, the first section is in the present, and everything else is a flashback. ::shrugs:: Just wanted to make things clear as possible.
August 31, 1998
Jay pulled her attention from the glowing cobwebs decorating the windows and started digging absentmindedly through her backpack. She finally came up with her CD player and slipped the earphones on. She tapped the play button, seconds later mashing stop. Nope, love songs were NOT on the playlist tonight. She fumbled through the bag again, eyes still on the window. She came up with a CD case she’d taken from Chad before leaving. His taste for bass and harder music usually left her baffled with a headache, but tonight it fit her mood.
She moved her attention to the plastic, then her face twisted. A photo, forgotten in the hurried packing, had come along with the CD case. She studied it, not sure if she was going to grin, cry, or just fall to hysterical pieces.
The picture was of her and Tate, taken by some enterprising photographer at graduation. It was after the entire ceremony, when they were finally free to get to each other. The emotion had gotten to them, and Tate’s sudden hug, lifting her off her feet to twirl around and nearly clobber other students, was caught in print.
They were obviously, delusionally happy. Never mind that she had to wear a dress under that annoyingly see-through white robe, or that his red robe had stained his dress shirt a vile pink. All was right with a world that held infinite possibilities. Everything was so right.
Less than three months later, and it seemed obscenely wrong. It had all started when she’d decided she needed a summer job to help pay for college. She’d asked Silicon for help, and the computer geek had gladly offered to poke around the Internet for something.
June 15, 1998
“So anyway, then the guy just gives me this look and says -”
“Ahem.” The cleared throat cut Jay off mid-sentence and caught her and Tate’s attention. “Congrats,” Silicon drawled from the doorway. He waved a paper at her. “Yer a workin’ woman as of the twenty-second.”
Jay’s jaw dropped, then she whooped, bounced off the bed, and raced over to give him a hug before snatching the paper.
“Well?” Tate demanded even as she scanned it. “What’d you get?”
A strange look twisted Jay’s features. She looked up to give Silicon the evil eye. “Did you do anything to get this?”
The beaked gargoyle only looked confused. “No. Why?”
Jay’s bemused look intensified. “I’m working at Nightstone Unlimited.”
Silicon blinked and edged away. “Is there something I should know?”
Jay sighed and rolled her eyes. “‘Member the story we brought back from New York about the crazy blue gargess?”
“That’s Demona. She runs Nightstone,” Tate jumped in. “So... you’re going to New York?” he asked hesitantly as he traced connections towards Demona.
“Nuh uh. Nightstone bought the old State Hospital property, renovated it, and set up offices.” A blissful smile crossed her face. “Amazing what they did, really. But how can you not love that Victorian architecture?”
Silicon snorted. “Drafty,” he muttered. “Poor lighting, even worse electrical wiring, clunky furniture.... And I think I’ll stop before I’m a pile of ashes in Jay’s puddle of drool,” he hastily finished, beating a quick retreat.
Jay transferred her glare to Tate. “Any more smart ass comments?”
He raised his hands in surrender. “Wouldn’t dream of it. It’s just that -”
A faint beep from Jay’s wrist cut him off. Jay looked at her watch and swore. “Jeeze, I’m sorry Tate, but if I don’t get home Mom’s gonna kill me.”
“Bye,” he called, waving as she raced out. Finally alone, he sighed and leaned back, thunking his head against the wall. This is not good. Demona the psycho and Jay? I don’t think so. He pounded the bed helplessly. She might’ve bargained once, but dammit, you didn’t take Brooklyn and the rest seriously. Any crusade’s a bad idea, but this.... nothing good can come from this.
June 21, 8 PM
A tap on the window caught Jay’s attention. She opened it to find Tate clinging to the window sill. He pulled himself inside with practiced effort. “Hey,” he rumbled.
“Evening,” she replied, giving him a hug. He returned it, clinging before reluctantly releasing her. When she finally saw his face, the pleased smile disappeared. He's not usually this restrained. Not a good sign. “What’s wrong?”
He sighed and looked away. “She tried to kill us.”
Jay rolled her eyes. “We’ve been through this. I need the money, and she didn’t really-”
“Jay, listen to me.” The gargoyle grabbed her gently by the shoulders. “Demona tried to kill us. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. This is a bad idea.”
She glared right back, the stubborn set to her chin and eyes telling him she refused to be moved. “Everyone deserves a chance.”
“Where the hell would we be if I hadn’t given you a chance? I’m going.”
He sighed again at the iron in her tone. “Here.” Tate pulled out a small gun from his pocket and held it out. “At least take this.”
Jay stared at the gun for a stunned moment before transferring the gaze to Tate. “I don’t believe this. First, I know you guys taught me to use one, but that’s not legally recognized-”
He pulled out a license.
“-and that is not legal at all.”
“Yes it is. Your dad helped us.” He added a folded paper to the offerings. “And a concealed weapon permit.”
“I am NOT taking a gun!”
“Look, it’s just a tranq gun. It’ll knock out a human or gargoyle for about an hour. That’s all.”
“I just don’t want to see you hurt, ok?” His look of pleading was replaced with one of deep worry. “Please, Jay. I thought you died twice on me. I couldn’t bear it another time. This at least gives you better odds.” She stared at his pleading eyes, then reluctantly dropped her gaze to the weapon. “It’s only a precaution. Please.”
She sighed and took the gun. “Alright. But I don’t expect to use it.”
He dared to lean over and hug her. “I’ll be happier of you don’t use it at all. But thanks.”
“I have mentioned this is just a branch office, right? The chances of her showing up are-”
“I don’t care about the odds. I just want you safe.”
Jay sighed again and leaned into his embrace. “I know. I’ll be careful. I promise.”
Demona glared around the office, trying not to snarl at the faux Victorian décor. That wouldn’t impress the clients. Although why anyone would care about this miserable little hell hole was beyond her. She still couldn’t figure out why she’d scheduled this sightseeing mess in the first place.
The guide droned on as he led her and a group of businessmen around. Ever so gradually, a sound at the edge of hearing nagged at her, like a wound slow to heal. She twisted her head and tried to tune out the human’s bland, insomniatic voice. It was... there! Coming from over there! She stalked away from the group, tracking the elusive sound, determined to find out what the hell was disturbing the quiet of her business. As she wove past suddenly terrified humans, the noise rose, finally becoming music.
“Celia, you’re breakin’ my heat, you’re shakin’ my confidence lately,” voices crooned together with a bouncy, cheerful beat. “Oh Cecelia, I’m down on my knees, I’m beggin’ you please to come home.... oh ho home.”
No, it wasn’t just music, someone was singing along. Human, slightly off-key and off-beat singing. “Celia, you’re breakin’ my heat, you’re shakin’ my confidence lately.” Very loudly, to boot. “Oh Cecelia, I’m down on my knees, I’m beggin’ you please to come home.... oh ho home.”
The song surrendered to a hyperactive instrumental section that had a beat that – were she in gargoyle form – would have set her tail tapping. As it was, it only pissed her off.
She found the CD player resting on the desk in front of a steel forest of filing cabinets. It was also clearly underneath a sign declaring “No electronics”. Even in this age of technological wonders, anal retentive rules called for paper duplicates, and a spot to store the paper and electronic records. Hence the rule for no electronics, barring any chance for fire or accidentally wiping something out of existence. And now some fool was happily flaunting their disobedience right under Demona’s nose.
The now human growled and stabbed downwards.
“Jubul-aaaa – Hey! Dammit Mike, I know you don’t like my oldies, but I warned you not to go near the CD player and I mean it!”
“This isn’t Mike,” Dominique bit off. “And there are no electronics allowed in here.”
“Oh, I’m soooo sorry,” the voice drawled, coming closer and gaining in volume and anger. “I didn’t realize they changed the Constitution. ‘Cause otherwise I still got the right to the pursuit of happiness. If you don’t like it, tell me. Just don’t touch the - ” A young female came around the corner. She was relatively short, with close-cropped brown hair and startled brown eyes. “Demona?”
The gargoyle wasn’t sure which was a greater shock: being called by her true name or encountering this human. It was even odds that this was the same half human, half gargoyle she’d captured –and been caught by – last summer in New York. Given the knowledge of her name, she was willing to put down money.
The girl broke out of her shock first, speaking louder in her renewed nervousness. “I mean, Ms. Destine! I didn’t realize.... Uh... I’m in big trouble, aren’t I?”
“I want to see you in my office, in one hour. Understood?”
The girl nodded, a short, jerky movement.
“Good.” Demona turned and took two steps before a male voice and music sounded behind her.
“Hello darkness my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again, because a vision softly creeping....”
She whirled to glare at the human, who grinned and shrugged. “I can’t get in worse trouble, can I?” With the wry comment, the human turned and retreated back into the cabinets.
Demona stared at the glorified music box for a second. She paused long enough to turn the volume down, then went back to her tour cum meeting.
Jay shuffled into Dominique’s office, fighting back a wince. Ok, so she’d broken the rules a little. She hadn’t done anything to risk the files, just taken steps to lighten up the filing job from hell. And nobody had complained, except a few who hadn’t shared her taste in music, but after a few days of nothing but coworkers’ chatter, almost anything was an acceptable alternative.
I am so dead.
Ms. Destine looked up from papers littering the desk, then folded her hands together over a small pile in front of her. “Jay. There are several things we need to discuss.”
Great. She’s not gonna kill me, she’s gonna talk me to death first.
“Firstly, never, ever call me Demona in public.”
Jay blinked. Then again, I just might make it out in one piece.
“Secondly, do not defy me in public. That undermines the whole business if humans think they can do whatever they want, rules or no. And those rules were set up for a reason.”
She rocked back on her heels. “Ok. I’m sorry about the whole name thing, that just slipped out. Sorry. I didn’t mean to. But the taking my CD player? That’s just wrong.” The business woman’s eyes bugged out at Jay’s impudent statement. The human ignored the warning signs, plowing on in sheer stubbornness. “I left it where there’s no possible way it could mess up the electronic files. And if you’re worrying about a fire hazard, well, Dad’s a firefighter. I checked with him, and it’s more’n ok. No way it’ll start anything. Even on the very slim chances it does, it’s far away enough that the files aren’t in any more danger than they normally are. And quite frankly, after two hours of the pathetic shit you pipe through the speakers, it’s amazing you don’t have a body count to rival Blade’s or the average post office. It’s not background music, it’s the cure for insomnia, sanity, and whatever feelings of goodwill you could possibly find around here.”
After a pause, Dominique’s mouth shut with a snap. “I see,” she finally managed. She cleared her throat and glanced back down at the papers. “Thank you for sharing that. That will be all.”
Jay fled with distinct feeling that while she had made it out unscathed, come Monday, she’d find out just how far she’d put her foot in her mouth.
Shit. The weekend had been quiet. Uncertain of her reception, she’d headed in to work a good fifteen minutes early. And now, in the far depths of the remotest building where she shared a room with another summer worker, Jay’s desk was empty.
“Well, if it isn’t Ms. Talk of the Town herself! What brings you back to our humble dwelling?”
Jay turned to find Henry, another temp, leaning against the doorframe, coffee cup in hand.
“Where’s my stuff?” she asked. Henry was a jerk, but if it was news, he knew it.
“At your desk.” He actually looked puzzled, but the look cleared when she shrugged. “You don’t know?” he demanded. “How can you actually not know??”
“I’m stupid, ok? Just tell me.”
He held out his hand. “Congrats. You got promoted to Ms. Destine’s aide.”
Her jaw dropped. “What?!?”
“It’s in a memo this morning. Of course, most think it’s ‘cause of that music stunt you pulled yesterday. Personal aide is the hardest and shortest lasting position there is. I heard the Demon Lady broke the arm of the last slob that held the position.”
“Ya never know. Might be fun.”
He snorted and twisted to the side, providing her with ample room to walk by and head for... well, she’d figure out where her new desk was soon enough.
It actually took about ten minutes and interrogation of several people before she finally found Demona’s- Ms. Destine’s office. She settled herself gingerly behind her new desk, which was in an outer office. This was too weird. She wasn’t assistant material. Maybe Henry was right for once and this was a punishment.
Dominique Destine choose that moment to sweep into the room. “Coffee,” she growled, “black. Now.” With that, she disappeared into the depths of her office, slamming the door shut.
Jay blinked bemusedly after her, then grinned evilly as a random idea struck her. Demona needed a severe attitude adjustment, and Jay had always found laughter the perfect way to loosen anyone up. And if they had moved everything here.... She pawed through her new desk, then surfaced with a mug. Thank you bro! Chad had given her a gag mug every Christmas for years, and last year’s should be perfect. She’d brought it in on a whim, in case she got a craving for hot chocolate or something, but this was too good a chance to pass up. She smirked while filling the mug. Well, why not? I can’t get in more trouble. Looks like it’s gonna be an interesting summer.
In order to save space and time, all thanks and grovelings are being saved for the last section. The people who helped hopefully know that they are truly appreciated anyway. ::hands out cookies::
So what's next?? Part 2, Discovery!
Let me out of here!!!! A.K.A. Home
I want to read more! To get back to the fic archive
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 Demona 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, Demona, and a bit of gargoyle lore 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. Various random brand names are not mine, you'll know 'em if you see 'em. Music was Cecilia, provided without permission by the great Simon and Garfunkel.