Note: Once again, 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
I shoved the photo of Tate and me away, bizarrely reluctant to crumple it. I shouldn’t have cared. I mean, it was done with, right? Over. As dead as... as that bastard was. What had happened was too much for any sort of relationship to continue.
But I couldn’t crumple that damn photo.
I also couldn’t stop a tiny smile when I pulled out the CD from the player. Soundtrack to Phantom. Demona nearly hit the roof when I played that. Come on, who could resist that on the speakers first thing in the morning? Dark, but energizing, something to get your day started right. Heh. Forget coffee, just get the Phantom of the Opera.
And of course, thoughts of Demona led to thoughts of Tate. He nearly blew up when he found out where I was working, and when I got promoted... whoo. Mount St. Helens had nothing on him. He was spazzing pretty badly. Firmly prejudiced. Totally ridiculous, but I’m pretty sure his philosophy was Demona equals Evil Incarnate and all that.
But come on. She’d seen a thousand years go by. That’s a lot of time, lot of death. I’d say hell is a possibility. Not to mention Angela had been working with her a lot. I swear, if that girl was human, she’d be well on her way to being a world class psychiatrist.
But gargoyles are so very inhuman in such a human dominated world.
I shook that train of thought away, putting on the headphones and letting the music take me away, harsh and discordant as my life had become, nirvana become purgatory.....
July 17, 4:36
Demona sighed and rested her head in her hands. By the Dragon, what a week. She’d never been quite so glad to see Friday roll around. The whole five days – no, that couldn’t be right, it had to be more than just five days! – had been a trial of patience and an exercise of massive restraint.
It had begun on Monday when she’d come in. Jay had been sitting at the assistant’s desk, looking bemused even to Demona’s tired eyes. Since she hadn’t had a chance to grab a nap the night before, she’d snarled for a cup of coffee and headed straight for her meeting to finalize some buyout or another. The meeting had gone startlingly well. The woman heading the other negotiating team had spent a great deal of time smirking, but had sold out for a substantial chunk less than Demona expected. She hadn’t understood until just before they left when the woman shook hands and exclaimed how much she liked the cup.
The immortal had stared after her in confusion, then looked down at the coffee mug Jay had given her. White letters were emblazoned on the black mug: “I’m a coldhearted bitch but I’m good at it.” When she’d bawled out Jay, the human had just shrugged, switched the mug for a plain black one, and promised not to give her the cup again. Having reached her day’s tolerance for humans, Demona had retreated to her office. The day had passed quietly.
Wednesday had been worse. She’d come in late (how the hell could they manage a traffic jam in this forsaken little corner of nowhere?) and on her way past Jay’s desk tossed a memo to the girl, snarling that it was to go over the speakers after getting her coffee. In her office, she remembered the logo instants after taking her first drink. Demona then checked it, only to almost choke. This time it was red lettering on a white background declaring simply “Humans are weird.” She stormed out to Jay’s section of the office, but of course she was off with the memo. Demona snarled, took another drink, then sprayed coffee over the rug as a ding interrupted the muzak over the speakers. “Good morning, K-Mart shoppers!” Jay’s obnoxiously cheerful voice had declared. “There’s a blue light special on paper work today ‘cause Ms. Destine wants those I-4 forms in before you leave! And since those wacky people in R&D haven’t figured out how to pipe caffeine through the speakers – they’re still stuck at sleep gas and high explosives – here’s a little something to start the day off right.” Seconds later, a heavy beat began to throb across the sound system. Jay had bounced in, singing along. “We will, we will, rock you. Bum bum, rock you – ooo, lemme guess, you aren’t a Queen fan, right?”
“You are far too cheerful,” Demona had growled.
Jay just gave her a sunny smile. “I know, disgusting isn’t it? Actually it’s the fact that I haven’t slept in twenty-four hours, so I am so far past tired I’m wired! Don’t worry, it’ll wear off by noon at which time I won’t even qualify for anything remotely human.”
And then there was the music. Her last few assistants had been quiet, yet efficient mice that barely dared sneeze around her. Jay selected loud music – invariably with an irresistible beat – and either sang along or, Dragon forbid it happen again soon, broadcast it instead of the muzak.
But the most annoying thing was that Jay would just not go away. The girl would hover nearby like some unholy offspring of Owen Burnett and Puck (oh god. Now there was a frightening thought, although it would be perfect punishment for Xanatos). She had all of Burnett’s attention to detail, loyalty, and composure, but also Puck’s sense of humor and habit for wisecracks.
Combined with the fact that taking it out on her either went far over the human’s head or was like kicking a puppy, Demona could not figure out what the hell to do with her.
A rap at the door forced the immortal to wonder if the child was psychic to boot. Surely even Angela’s good favor wasn’t worth this much agony. That was the entire reason behind giving Jay the promotion, right? Getting on her daughter’s good side by aiding this human? “What?” she snarled.
Jay slipped in, wearing a set of cheap plastic glasses attached to a giant plastic nose and busy black moustache and eyebrows. “Sorry Boss Lady, but I got a heap of forms here you need to look over, sign, and/or shred before closing time, and I need that file on the planned West Coast office. Also, I have several requests from people that shall remain anonymous to make sure you don’t go hunting their heads when you read the....” The human squinted at titles as she leafed through the paper stack. “Jones and Marks reports.” She looked up and smirked. Even Demona got the pun. That awful trio of human comedians had attracted even her attention way back when. It had primarily been because she found them irritating enough to consider a messy end, but that was neither here nor there. Other things had her attention.
“Why are you doing this?” Demona suddenly asked. This human had to have some sort of motivation for this job other than money. If it was the money, she’d still be on her first assistant. Jay kept pushing buttons, and during that time did her level best to draw all of the immortal’s wrath upon her own head rather than other underlings. It made little sense.
Jay shrugged. “Part of the job description, nag the boss till she gets off her lazy tail and does her job. Or do you mean keep the company insurance down?”
“No!” She shook her head. “Why do you keep working here, for me?”
“You haven’t fired me yet.” Apparently noticing how her flippant remark had driven Demona that much closer to doing exactly that, Jay shrugged again. “On the most basic level, it pays well. But I enjoy it. I wasn’t expecting that, but I like what I’m doing. And you’re the one to learn it from.”
“But.... you know what I am.” She couldn’t stop, she had to press the point, needing the familiar relationship of hate instead of this good-natured ignorance.
Instead she got a puzzled look. “Damn fine business woman,” Jay began, ticking the points off on her fingers, “equal opportunity employer, part time gargoyle, really old, terror of Wall Street, terror of employees – well, that’s repeating equal opportunity, isn’t it? – Angela’s mother, Goliath’s former mate–”
“No, I mean....” She hesitated, then continued on, peeling the scab away to see if the wound still lay beneath. “You know what I’ve done. What I hope to do. Surely you have something to say about saving the humans.”
Jay paused, then carefully placed the pile of folders down on the desk. “What you’ve done. The whole killing people thing?”
Bizarre child.... “Yes.”
She shrugged. “I don’t exactly approve of it, but that’s personal values. You grew up in the dark ages. Killing was sorta a requisite for survival. You... obviously made some really bad decisions–” Demona bristled. “– but that’s part of being hu- sentient. And I’m sure you felt you had just provocation, but I wasn’t there and I don’t know all the sides to it, so I couldn’t say. And it’s in the past. While you’re breathing, there’s time for redemption. As for what you plan....”
“The whole killing people thing,” Demona filled in with a wry smile.
“Hmm. Yeah. That. Well, I personally think it falls in the really bad decisions category, but so long as I don’t find any proof and you don’t start laughing and or cackling manically to yourself, I’ll presume it’s stuck in planning limbo. Wanting to do something and actually doing it are two completely different things. Oh, and the saving the humans crack? Honestly, there are lots out there that the world would be better off without.” With that, the human calmly picked up a different folder and walked out, leaving a stunned immortal behind her.
July 17, 5:20
“Honey, I’m hoooome!” Jay called, managing not to slam the door.
“Hey,” Chad called back. “Mom and Dad are at some dinner function, we’re doing stir-fry, and you got college mail.”
“When they coming back, cool, and I thought they gave up.” Jay drifted into the kitchen, tossing keys, wallet, and jacket onto a chair before collapsing into another. Her attention stayed on her tall brother, standing in front of the counter to hack at vegetables. He shrugged and tossed her a pea pod, which she began to munch on.
“They said sometime before nine, closer to eight if they could pull that off. Dad wants to be beeped at eight thirty.” The siblings shared an evil grin. “And the college stuff’s from those places that accepted you.”
“So now you’re reading my mail? I thought that was Mom’s job.”
He gave another unrepentant shrug. “Like you said, thought they gave up. So you made up your mind yet?”
Jay sighed and slumped in her seat, idly picking up the envelopes. The schools’ insignias were clear on the return labels, mocking her with their very existence. “Not yet.” She snorted an attempt at laughter. “I honestly thought only UCONN would accept me. Rainier was a what the hell moment.”
She gave him a mocking look. “You’re being awfully concerned with my welfare. How much is Mom paying you?”
Chad made a face back at her. “Not nearly what I’m worth. Come on, I have a right to be overly concerned with my little sister’s life.”
“Hmm. Well, see, I dunno which. I mean, I paid UCONN that confirmation hundred, but Rainier is nearly throwing the campus at my feet since they learned I’m Dominique Destine’s personal assistant. Practically free, for god’s sake, not to mention they’re willing to wait pretty much up to the first day of classes for me to accept. But the distance thing....” Jay trailed off and shrugged. “Guess I’m taking this clan and must protect thing a bit far.”
“Not to mention Tate,” he mumbled.
Chad squirmed, obviously not expecting her to hear that comment. “Meaning you two are getting pretty damn clingy.”
“So says he who still thinks girls are icky.”
“I do not! It’s just..... come on, ninety nine point nine percent are complete airheads. I’m not looking for a rocket scientist or anything, but right now I’ve got more important matters to worry about. School, work, ya know, things us mere mortals need to consider.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. I hear ya.” She sighed and shoved the papers away. “Well, I’m pretty much all for UCONN anyway. Hell, I could commute easily enough, and.... the whole gargoyle, clan, protect thing.” She shrugged. “It’s a bit easier if I have some of the professionals nearby.”
Jay glanced up to see if he showed any signs of sarcasm, but even while chopping up carrots he looked entirely serious. “Yeah. It’s almost – no, it IS freaky. One second things are completely normal, the next bam, ya gotta do something, get involved so someone else doesn’t get hurt.” She shook her head with a faint sigh. “Forget nature versus nurture, when they say gargoyles protect they are so not kidding.” Jay gnawed on her lip and studied the table top. “And that loss of control is frightening.”
“Is it that bad?”
“...No. Not really.” She grinned, but it obviously was not entirely sincere. “I only obsess about it now and again.” She sighed again and stood. “I’m gonna go change. When’ll that be ready?”
“Ten minutes. You sure you’re ok?”
“Just peachy.” She made a face at Chad’s concerned look. “I’m fine. Gimme some time and I’ll get my brain around it soon enough. Promise.”
Dominique Destine leaned back in the car seat with a soft sigh, thankful that the day was almost over. Twenty minutes, and she’d be safely home. In an hour, it would be sunset, and she’d have the whole weekend to herself. She’d just found a fascinating text on various spirits that promised to be quite good reading, that should take up most of the time even with hefty naps in-between....
The sudden silence of the engine dying instantly snapped her attention from her weekend plans. She rapped against the glass partition between her and the limo’s driver. “What’s doing on?” she demanded in a tone that had over the centuries had beings of every social level instantly hopping to obey. But the human’s form was slumped over the wheel, breathing and unresponsive. She snarled a curse and glared out the windows. A thick fog covered the highway, isolating the dead limo that perched in the breakdown lane. Magic. No doubt about that. The only question was did she stay inside the car for the spell caster to come to her, or emerge to confront... whoever?
Lips curled back in a snarl from human teeth as she opened the door. Never let it be said Demona was a coward. She glared around the mists, waiting for a response.
It came in the form of mist, a section of fog that gathered together, thickening and darkening to create a slightly translucent gargoyle. It was an ancient female, her wrinkled skin lightened to a dusky rose. Her wings were cloaked over her stooped form, clad in loose slacks and flannel shirt. Intelligent green eyes studied Demona underneath a horned browridge, face framed by white hair caught in a bun. The ancient nodded regally to Demona. “Good day to ye,” she said.
Demona nodded back, wishing that she were in gargoyle form. A ghost. I do NOT need to run into a ghost. Is she after vengeance? Justice? She is familiar... By the Dragon, I do not need this. “What do you want?”
The ghostly gargoyle smiled faintly. “Just to talk. I mean ye no harm or ill will unless ye act hostile first.”
“What do you want?” Demona repeated.
“If ‘tis acceptable, I’d like to tell you a story,” the elder stated, sitting in the grass and crossing her legs with ease that belied her age, if not her ghostly state.
Demona grudgingly nodded. One did not tick off the dead without reason, particularly if they had Power. To knock out both car and driver, not to mention shielding this conversation, the ancient had power in spades.
“I am Sadie, former Elder and Historian. My clan has a tradition, one that goes back, oh perhaps countless generations, if you don’t mind me being poetic. It concerns a particular bloodline. If breeding holds true, children of that bloodline are strong in magic, or at least reasonably powerful in one area or another. And one every few generations becomes the Historian of the clan. The Historian serves the basic duty of marking down significant events, but also... helps nudge history along a desired path. Meddling, if you will. Follow so far?”
Demona nodded. There was no need to pretend interest; magic always managed to keep her attention riveted.
“Good. Now, one interesting event every Historian has to undergo is an initiation period, so to speak. There is a spell that takes the Historian to be to a time and place they are needed.”
“Like the Phoenix Gate?”
“Aye, except it cannot be directed. You go and stick around until your job is finished.”
The immortal stiffened. “You just said ‘you’. Do you mean that I...?”
“Oh goodness no!” The ghost laughed softly. “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize that was how it was coming across. No, I’m just speaking from personal experience. You don’t have the right blood. Ye aren’t even a contender.”
Demona didn’t even try to hide her relief. While being able to meddle with a clan had promise, being shackled by the rules the position obviously carried was not her cup of tea. “Please, go on.”
“Well, now we get to the interesting bit. Y’see, my father was the Historian before me. He came into the position unmated, at about the age of sixty. Unlike a lot of the lucky ones in the position, he was quite aware of what he had to go through. He had one trip, from here in the late 1700’s to England in the 1600’s.”
Demona winced. “That was not a good time to be there.” At the ghost’s look, she continued. “I was there as well, for a time. It was a violent period.”
“Aye, so it was. But my father was lucky, in a backhanded way. He ran into a small clan of gargoyles. And he decided they were the reason for his presence, so he stayed with them for awhile. At first ‘twas for duty, but then, he found himself in love with one of the clan. Her mate was long dead, and Father had no commitments, so they soon became mates. Come the Breeding Season, they had one egg. Then tragedy hit. Humans captured his mate and... executed her as a demon.” The immortal winced. “Worse by far was that Father saw her burned alive. He couldn’t stop them.”
“I’m sorry.” The soft, unaccustomed apology slipped out almost without her knowledge.
The ghost’s eyes flickered to meet hers, accepting the words without embarrassing them both. “He was heartbroken, and thought he’d failed his duty. So he took his egg and cast the spell again, determined to go wherever fate took him. He returned home, seconds after he had left but ten years older. I was hatched soon after.”
“So... why tell me this?”
The ghost studied her for an eternal moment, then stood. Her eyes closed and her form blurred as time reversed its tracks. Wrinkles smoothed away, leaving behind a dusky red, elfin thin face with four small horns at the end of her browridges. Snow white hair whipped free of a bun, lengthening to a shaggy, fire engine red mane. Her wings grew un-tattered and spread, revealing their unusual make with a single vane that traveled half-way down the wing membrane from two small claws perched at the elbow. Double spurs showed clearly at her elbows and knees.
Had she not been sitting already, Demona probably would have fallen.
“Father... told me there is a resemblance,” the now young gargoyle said hesitantly.
A resemblance? Oh, there was a resemblance indeed, to both parents. Demona remembered well those odd wings and spurs, the handsome male with brick colored skin and black hair. The face and hair.... she saw those often enough in the mirror. “You... are my daughter?!?” she finally gasped.
A wry grin appeared on that eerily familiar face. “Unless there are other immortal Scottish gargoyles running around. By the by, ye have no idea how grateful I am that ye don’t carry around a sword.”
“What???” Had the ghost lost her senses entirely? What on earth was she ranting about?
The red female waved it away. “Modern culture striking, no more. It’s of no importance.”
“So, what – why are you doing this? Telling me now that you’re dead?”
The ghost’s features smoothed, hardened with purpose. “Because now is the first time that ye’ve interfered with my clan. I’ve some knowledge of what ye’ve done. Not all, not from all parties concerned, but I know enough to decide that I neither like nor condone many of your actions. Jay, on the other hand, is much more forgiving.”
Ah! Of course! It was reassuring to know that some gargoyles still observed ties of clan, even if it was for that meddling human. “And you wish to know my intentions?” Demona asked half-sarcastically.
The other female smirked and nodded. “Precisely.”
She hadn’t expected that. “Well, she is my assistant.”
“Why? She doesn’t have any specific qualifications.”
The immortal squirmed. The only thing worse than pissing off the dead would be lying to one, but neither was a pleasant option. Better angry than lied to AND angry. “She persuaded my daughter to give me leniency. I... owe her for that. As for qualifications... despite her attitude, Jay performs quite adequately.”
“That’s all?” the ghost demanded. “Repaying a debt?”
Demona studied her feet. “And she is friends with Angela,” she admitted. A sudden thought struck her, and she laughed.
The ghost tilted her head to the side. “What?” Somehow it seemed even funnier, making Demona laugh harder. After a few moments, she managed to regain control.
“I just realized that you are Angela’s sister.” Her hysterical smile widened. “I do not think she would take that news well.”
An answering smile spread over the red gargoyle’s face. “Especially considering she’s my elder sister. No, that probably would not go over well at all. Well.” She stood. “It’s been a pleasure speaking to ye.” Sadie hesitated, then stuck out her hand. “Jay speaks highly of you. Should ye need help, remember: my clan is yours.”
Demona faltered for a second, then grasped the red forearm that was startlingly solid. “And mine is yours,” she said softly, completing the ancient ritual of allegiance. She blushed purple. “Although I’m afraid I currently have none.”
Sadie grinned. “Now ye do. I’ll be around if ye need to chat, mother.” And with that, the mist dissipated.
July 29, 1:52
“Ok, so carry the five, multiply by seven, and we got.... shit, that’s not right either.” Jay glared down at the messy, number covered papers. Her eyes were nearly glowing red, but the girl was fairly certain the numbers were trying to do the conga at the same time.
There was a faint laugh from Demona as the gargoyle checked a calculator. “No, that’s not the answer.” Jay halfheartedly made a face at her. “Argh. By the Dragon, this is awful.” She shifted, trying once again to relieve the ache between her wings.
“No shit. Isn’t this why we keep accountants around?”
“These are personal funds.” The human gave her a blank look. “It’s for things the government shouldn’t know about, or things the government doesn’t want the public to know about.”
“Oh. Black ops. Gotcha. Argh!” Jay raked a hand through her hair. “This is ridiculous.” Her hand drifted from her head to in front of her eyes. “Shit!”
“It’s past midnight.”
Demona glanced at the clock behind Jay’s head. “So it is. Is there something wrong?”
“Eh, I told Tate that I’d meet him around ten-ish, but.... Guess I completely spazzed.” She paused to let loose a jaw cracking yawn, then blinked and shook her head. “I’m awake, really I am!”
Demona’s snort of amusement managed to get past Jay’s exhaustion, pulling a smirk onto the teenager’s face which the gargoyle ignored. “Only for the last three seconds.”
Jay huffed and waved it away. “Details, de -” The word disappeared into another yawn. “Oh man that’s annoying.” She sighed. “Ok, think it’s time for me to head out, unless you think I’ll manage to not mangle those numbers some more.”
Demona smirked. “More than you have already?”
The human made a face at her, then put her head down to rest on the table. Was good to rest, just for a second before heading out.....
“What?” she yelped, jerking upright.
Demona was giving her a concerned look. “Are you sure you’re able to drive home?”
“Course I am. I’d better be.” She paused for thought, mentally weighing exhaustion versus an already broken promise. “ ‘Sides, it’s not that long. Ten minutes home, I can – ” She was interrupted by another yawn. “Handle that.”
“Far be it for me to doubt you,” the gargoyle drawled, “but you certainly don’t seem to be able.”
“You get chauffeured in a limo. You aren’t qualified to judge. Ha, so there.”
That actually managed to get a small laugh from Demona. “I drove one of Ford’s first cars. The driver is a recent thing.”
“What do Model T’s have to do with the price of China?” Jay blinked and looked to the side in confusion. Wait a sec, that’s not right.....
“You are not in any condition to direct several tons of steel. There are couches here you can sleep on, or I’ll glide with you home.”
“What?!?” The adrenaline rush managed to wake Jay up slightly. “Excuse me, but what the hell is that supposed to mean?”
“I’m not letting you drive home. You stay here, or you glide home. If you glide home, I’m going to make sure you get there in one piece.”
For a moment, Jay did a landed fish imitation at the immortal. Then she groaned and let her head thunk down onto the table again. Dammit. Gargoyles and their protection fetish. “Okay,” she sighed, “whatever.”
It took fifteen minutes before they finally left. The main holdup centered around Jay’s desk, which alternately swallowed a change of the girl’s clothes, her cell phone, then her working clothes that had been left from the trip back for the phone. Eventually even the sometimes-human was satisfied enough to leave, giving Demona the questionable relief of a peaceful night’s glide. It’d been awhile since she’d just let herself relax, glide for no reason than gliding. A distracted dip towards a church spire from Jay reminded her there was a purpose, but the girl quickly righted herself. Good. Demona turned her attention towards the buildings passing below, sneer rippling across her face. This was downtown? By the Dragon, that was pathetic. Run down, dark, a near ghost town of blinking traffic lights.
A scream drifted upwards, providing a rather atmospheric touch to the deserted night. Demona was still turning the sound over in her mind when she realized Jay had turned, banking away towards the shriek. “What are you doing?!”
She got a red-eyed look of anger from the child. “Gargoyles protect,” Jay growled at her before winging away.
Demona followed Jay into an alley where two men stood over a blonde teen female, dropped pants and various body fluids easily telling what had happened. The instant the younger gargoyle saw the trio, she dove with an enraged battle scream.
It was the work of seconds to subdue the men. Demona glared at the pair of humanity’s dregs, then turned a surprised look at Jay. The girl had shifted shape and approached the beaten human, murmuring softly as she gently cradled the sobbing blonde.
“Nine one one,” Jay finally said in an aside to the gargoyle.
“Call nine one one.”
“Because,” Jay snarled, her eyes flaring red even in human form, “you can try to calm the hysterical human victim, or call 9-1-1.” She flipped her cell phone at Demona, who caught it more on instinct than intention. “I think you know the number.”
on a nearby rooftop
“She’s a friend of yours,” Demona half asked as the ambulance pulled away.
Jay glanced away, face hidden in the shadows. “No,” she stated flatly. “No, she’s not. She’s a prime bitch that is one of the reasons me and my best friend aren’t, and haven’t been since, oh, about kindergarten.”
Demona looked over in surprise. She never expected to hear anything in that sad and bitter tone from the perpetually cheerful human. “Then why?”
Hesitation, then a shrug. “ ‘Cause I don’t care how long it’s been, I’m not gonna hurt my friend in any way if I can help it...... Can we go, please?”
A silent and thoughtful immortal led the way home.
July 29, evening
The soft call pulled Tate’s attention from his book to the doorway. An involuntary grin spread across his face when he saw Jay in the doorway. “Hey yourself.” He put down the book and rolled from his stomach to his feet. “You never showed up last night, so I got a little worried.”
“Sorry. We were going really late on some reports, which led to speeches, and then – ” She shivered – “number crunching. Brr.”
“ ‘Oh’? You don’t have to sound so disappointed. What’d you expect, us committing evil perverted sex acts or just plotting to take over the world?”
“Er, actually I was just sticking to summoning demons from the darkest depths of hell to destroy the world.”
Jay snorted with laughter. “Said it before, and I’ll say it again. I read it, but that doesn’t mean I have to believe it. Magic like that isn’t real. It’s just misdirection and slight of hand.”
“Uh huh.” From his tone of voice, Tate clearly didn’t agree.
Jay sighed and abruptly sat on the bed. “Look, can we please drop it?”
“Sure, no problem.” He cautiously sat next to her, resting a hand on her shoulder. “What’s wrong? Is De-” He stopped as Jay’s palm appeared in his face.
“Do not go there. Demona has done nothing.” She sighed again and hunched forward, resting her face in her hands. “It’s just that yesterday really, really sucked.”
After a few seconds, he dared to speak. “You want me to go away or do you wanna talk about it?”
She looked up and managed a weak smile. “If there’s cuddling involved, I am so for talking.”
Tate grinned and moved against the headboard, drawing Jay close to his side then folding his wings around both. She settled in with a faint sigh. “So,” he eventually said, “what happened?”
There was a long silence. “You remember the Blonde Bitch?”
Tate frowned. There weren’t many people who earned one of Jay’s titles, and to get one with an expletive meant the fool in question had done something particularly damaging. “The cheat?” He vaguely recalled a prep that had been caught cheating for some contest or another. It was a minor thing, really, but for some reason that had earned the girl the dubious honor of the new name.
“Mmm hmm. I ran into her last night. Or this morning, I guess.”
“I hope she was reasonably civil.” Her silence told him quite clearly that it had not been ‘civil’ at all. “What happened?”
Her hold on his arm tightened, then Jay took in a deep, shuddering breath. “She was being raped.”
“Oh god.” His grip – wings, arms, and tail – tightened, a spasm echoing pain and denying life a chance to repeat it.
“Yeah. It – it was right downtown. I mean, I know it’s not the greatest place in the world, and with the casinos and all.... But dammit, this is my home!” She shook her head helplessly. “Rape is something that happens somewhere else. It doesn’t happen to people I grew up knowing.”
He sighed and rested his head on hers. “That’s why we do as much patrolling as we do. It doesn’t – it can’t – help everyone, but.... They need us. We protect for a reason.”
“I know. I know, it’s just....”
“Yeah.” They sat together silently for a time. “I guess my subconscious is trying to blame myself.”
Tate shifted to glance down at her. “What?”
She looked away then sighed. “It’s... a long standing – hate is too strong. I think. It’s not mutual as far as I know. See, she was a friend of a friend, and eventually me and the friend weren’t friends, so I guess I blamed her for it all.”
Tate blinked, trying to work his way through the logic. “So by wishing ill will on her you caused her to be raped?”
“No! I mean – I know that, but a part of me thinks so. Ya know?”
“Ah.... I’m just slightly lost, but I get your drift. And it is not your fault.”
Jay sighed again. “Intellectually, I’m inclined to say ‘duh.’ Emotionally, I’m inclined to ask you if you’re on crack.”
“How about both?”
She snorted an attempt at laughter. “That works. It’s just... I feel like it’s all getting away from me.” She managed a small, mocking grin, but it didn’t last long. “Out of school, working in the ‘real world’, the rape.... Life’s changing too fast. I don’t know where I stand anymore.”
“Hey.” He gave her a light squeeze. “I’ll be wherever you need me to be, remember that. Where and whenever, just say the word.”
Jay turned to look him in the eye, searching for any untruth and silently begging for honesty. “Really? You mean that?”
He leaned forward to brush a light kiss across her forehead. “You and I are one,” Tate recited, “now and forever.” At her curious look, he continued. “It’s the closest we have to marriage vows.”
“Sorry,” he mumbled, blushing and looking away to study the corner.
Huh? Oh damn, she’s doing the Confusing Female thing again. “For... presuming. You know I’m willing to wait for -”
Jay stopped him with a deep kiss that told quite clearly waiting might not be in the cards much longer. “Nothing to apologize for,” she said when they broke apart for air. “Nothing at all....”
“Oh fuck!” Jay snarled, glaring at the cell phone that was ringing from the jacket that had fallen to the floor.
Tate laughed. “I’m taking the fifth!”
Abruptly realizing what she’d said, Jay turned bright red. She fumbled the machine free and turned it on. “Yeah?.... At the clan’s place..... Awhile. Oh come on, that’s – but.... Daaaad......” She sighed. “Ok, I’ll do that.... Twenty-five minutes, right. Bye.” Jay put the receiver down with a look of bemused suspicion.
Tate sat up straight, concern clear in his forced casual pose. “What is it?”
Jay shook her head, still giving the phone a Look. “Either the Powers That Be are really against us getting together, or my parents are using a spy satellite to keep an eye on me.”
“What?” he laughed.
“That was Dad.” She gave him an apologetic look. “There’s some sort of nutcase on the loose, and he wants me home an hour ago, but he’ll settle for thirty minutes. I’m sorry, Tate, but....”
“I know.” He rested a hand on her shoulder and chuckled faintly. “Believe me, I’ve found out a lot about parents.” He drew her into a hug. “I told you before, I’ll wait however long it takes.”
“You’re taking this awfully well.”
“Mmm.” He chuckled again. “I’m saving the hissy fit for after you leave when I have the privacy of my room.”
“Oh.” She laughed, then sighed. “God, I don’t wanna go.”
“I know. But it’s your dad that set the time limit, and there’s no way I’m gonna argue with him.”
Jay pulled back just far enough to look up at him, grin dancing across her face. “He threatened messy death?”
Tate mock shivered. “Let’s just say no and not go any further. Your whole family has the protection thing down.”
“Well. We can’t piss off Dad, then.” She leaned forward, nestling under his chin in the warm double embrace of arms and wings.
“Yeah. Besides,” he whispered into her hair, “remember what we said. You and I are one. Now and forever. We just have to work on the forever bit first.” That managed to get a laugh out of her.
Jay moved away and regretfully started for the door after a quick, intense kiss. “Now and forever,” she promised.
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::
Wait, go back! Part 1, Graduation!
So what's next?? Part 3, Flash Point!
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, Angela, Owen Burnett/Puck, Xanatos, Goliath, the Phoenix Gate, and a bit of gargoyle lore are owned by Buena Vista and therefore the Great Mouse, used with great reverence, respect, and without permission. Rainier is property of Pet Fly Productions (and Paramount). This isn't intended as copyright infringement. Various random brand names and music selections are not mine, you'll know 'em if you see 'em.