The Important (for once) Note: Ok, this is a LOT more graphic than my usual stuff. I know it's implied in the rating and warnings, but still, I feel the need to mention it again. This isn't really for sensative viewers.
The Not Important Note: Yuppers, the first section is still in the present, and everything else is still a flashback. ::shrugs:: If you've never seen this message before, go back and read parts 1 and 2. This section will make a lot more sense then.
August 31, 1998
Watching all the lights ghost by has an almost hypnotic effect. It makes it so much easier to remember. So easy to just sit back and think, even through brother dear’s music.
Summer was actually pretty calm, to start off. I was set with my job, Chad was working at the high school just like the last few summers. Mom and Dad were doing their thing, so it was pretty much everyone gone by 8:30 and sharing the day’s experiences at dinner time. Well, with a bit of whining on brother dear’s part about how boring it is back home.
Boring. I wish. Between the gargoyle thing, learning the ropes to the business world, and keeping Demona from going homicidal, I had my hands full.
As for the working for Demona thing, my parents seemed to be the only ones that were taking things in stride. Mom acted like Demona didn’t change into a gargoyle with a very shady past every sunset, Dad just ignored the ‘situation.’ Chad was too busy doing the overprotective thing about Tate. Well, at least he won’t have to worry about that any more.
August 3, 8:00 am
“Normally I’d try to be more considerate in my research, but I haven’t woken up yet. Why is everyone on the verge of a Niagara Falls imitation?”
Dominique Destine looked up as her personal assistant dropped the ever-present purse onto the desk. Jay looked rather worn out for a Monday morning, but she knew from experience that the child would shake it off quickly enough. “You haven’t read the memo.”
“Sorry boss lady, but I just got in. What happened?”
Dominique nodded towards the paper on Jay’s desk. “It’s all there.” She turned back to her speech outline, noting down ideas as they percolated through the morning haze. A death condolence, of all things. She double checked the memo, tried to write another paragraph, and gave up. Easier to just put down the facts. Jessie Lynch. Horrible name to saddle a child with. Accounting department – enough reason to authorize a raise? No. Flowers, maybe. Must remember to mention it to Jay.
A low whistle from the human brought her attention away from her notes. “Stabbed and then burned to death?” Jay read incredulously, eyebrows trying to creep into her hairline. “What sort of sicko would do that?”
Dominique shrugged apathetically. “With humans, it could be anyone.” She ignored the slightly condescending look she got for the comment. “Besides, it doesn’t really matter. It’s enough of a crime to interest the police, and it will go away soon enough. Not our problem.”
“Not our problem?? One of your employees gets brutally murdered and it’s ‘not our problem’? What, burning someone isn’t sick and twisted enough to get you concerned?”
“...It is a bad way to die,” Demona finally admitted, memories surfacing long enough to disturb even her. She knew quite intimately the feel of flesh being eaten away by hungry flames, the crackle of hair and fat being consumed as frightened humans jeered so very close by.....
“But it’s a human matter,” she hastily added, shaking away the bad memories. “I think the accounting department deserves something. Flowers maybe. Deal with it, will you?” With that, she retreated to the safety of her office and mundane matters of running a worldwide corporation.
Jay stared after her employer in surprise. Well THAT was strange, even for Ms. Destine. What got into her? I thought I was actually getting through for once. She shrugged. Oh well. There’s always later. She sat down, already plotting how to carry out the order for physical condolences to the department. She absentmindedly punched up her voice mail, listening with half an ear to the litany of requests, offers, and threats that pervaded Ms. Destine through her lowly aide. A familiar voice among the babble instantly snapped her attention from her notes.
“Jay? This is Tate. I figure you won’t get this until after sunrise, so I left the machine on for a response. We’re having a.... clan thing tonight, and it’s really important. I need to know if you’re gonna be there. Please, show up soon as you can if you’re coming. Thanks.”
Huh. Things just got weirder and weirder. She hesitated for a second, then picked up the phone.
August 3, 7:56
Jay glared up at the weeping skies, grateful she’d changed the windshield wipers recently. The rain wasn’t coming down that bad, but last time she’d ended up with more streaks than visible glass. And I don’t need that. It’d make the night perfect. She sighed and turned into the clan’s driveway. Bad enough Mom decided tonight was one for a lecture after a late dinner, but then Chad jumped in for another Tate rant. I swear my family is out to get me.
For once, Tate was waiting for her in the yard. He stood almost unnaturally still, radiating worried purpose. He stayed leaning against a tree while she parked, arms crossed and frighteningly impassive. It was only when she got out that he moved, arms unfolding and wings flaring once.
“Clan meeting,” he explained. “We’ve been waiting for you.”
“Am I late?” Jay asked, already mentally cursing the rain that had slowed her driving.
Emotion finally spasmed across Tate’s face. It was an unfamiliar combination of guilt and rage. “Yesterday was too late,” he whispered. “Come on.”
Tate led the way through the ground level door straight to the middle floor. Like the hatching, the clan was perched on whatever surface provided itself, be it floor, furniture, or even a pool table and the TV.
What spooked her was that, unlike the hatching, everyone had the same driven, almost haunted look as Tate. The final shock was that Mariah and Mr. Williams were there too. Something big and very bad was happening. Shit, I hope this isn’t about me working for Demona. She and Tate sat in one of the overstuffed couches near the edge of the crowd, she actually in the chair, he perched behind her on the back.
The Leader nodded once to them, then Nina. The green gargoyle reached over and flicked off the light switch next to her, and a projector flared to life. A human face – a mug shot – appeared on the screen next to Mector.
“This is Terrance Dun,” he declared. “Thirty-five year old Anglo, green eyes, black hair. Comes from a broken home, possible abuse. Grew up fighting, later ‘repented’ and became a pastor for one of the local churches.” The projector clicked and whirred to another picture. “And this is his first victim.”
Jay winced and turned away, struggling to keep her lunch down. The figure on the screen looked only vaguely like it had been human, and that was because of shape. It was a black, wrinkled shape, bones occasionally protruding from what had been muscle and skin. The skull was completely bare, disconnected jaw laying several inches away.
Her movement had brought Jerry and Art into view, the pair seated on the floor with the – Dear gods, they let the hatchlings see this??? Tate’s hand came to rest on her shoulder, earning a tortured, significant look at the five kids. He leaned down to whisper in her ear. “They’re gargoyles. That means protecting from birth to death. It’s what we are.”
She shuddered. But to submit kids to this...!
Apparently satisfied with his macabre point, Mector continued talking. “She was a prostitute. It’s figured she went to talk with the ‘Pastor’ Dun, who stabbed her repeatedly, then while she was bleeding to death, doused her in gasoline and lit it. That was nine months ago in California. He’s managed to avoid the cops while moving east, and the entire time he’s left extra crispy street walkers behind him.” The projector whirled its way through a litany of names and images that had Jay studying the floor, attempting to subtly block her ears.
“-Jessie Lynch.” The familiar name snapped her eyes up to the burned remains on screen. That had been the girl in accounting! God. No wonder the cops didn’t want to release details. “She was just an average worker heading for a date. Dun fucked up and took her out. That was last night in Hartford. Thanks to Meg and some divination, we know he’ll be in this area tonight. Art and Jerry are staying here with the hatchlings. Nicole, I want you to pair up with Nina and take Taz with you. Steve, you and Frank have Toc. The rest of you pair up. I want half on a spiral patrol, the rest go over likely areas. Take radios and call in every half hour. If you find the bastard, call in immediately and tail him. Do not take him down unless a human’s in immediate danger. We don’t want some smart ass lawyer pulling questionable arrest on this. When you call in, Art or Jerry will put a tip in to the cops. Any questions?”
“Remember, this is one sick son of a bitch. We need to take him down.” Mector took one more sober look around the room. “Alright. Let’s get us a killer.”
Jay and Tate found themselves assigned as search team. While the rest of the clan evacuated the house, Tate pulled her aside. “He goes after hookers, right?” he asked softly without warning. Jay nodded, not understanding. He pointed to her. “So let’s give him a hooker.”
“You want me to play bait?!?”
“It’s you or some human that has a reason to go around in this weather.”
Shit. You WOULD gimme an ethical dilemma. You are ruthless, Tate. Then again, considering what’s at stake.... we all gotta be, don’t we? “Great idea, but - ” She gestured to her jeans and t-shirt. “I haven’t exactly shopped at Slut-Mart lately.”
“That can be fixed, so long as you don’t mind ruining those.”
A pair of jeans or lives. Hmm. Lemme think here. “Where’d you hide the scissors?”
Demona rubbed the side of her head, silently blessing whatever human had come up with Advil and pondering death if she didn’t get some within the next few minutes. The problem with time zones was that you were never in the right one. She’d just finished a marathon teleconference with some unpronounceable Japanese company, and of course, she didn’t have a bottle of the miracle pills in her office. So she had to glide on home for it in the rain, then maybe an hour of power napping if there was something unavoidable scheduled early in the morning. Her power naps today – well, by now it was yesterday – had been replaced by spreading condolences for some number counter, bean pusher, or whatever the idiotic saying was.
Demona’s plans for her comfy bed were destroyed when she got to her back door. There was something huddled on her doorstep that after a few moment’s puzzled study turned into – Jay?? The human had changed clothes. Instead of the slacks and t-shirt, she wore jeans cut ridiculously short, leaving almost no material for the legs at all. A brightly colored button down shirt was held closed by only a pair of buttons, emphasizing chest and midriff.
“What the hell?” Demona asked, too tired and confused to even think of tact.
Jay’s head jerked up, glazed brown eyes fearful above two glaring puncture wounds dribbling dried blood down her cheeks. Demona hissed several curses before grabbing Jay by the arm and pulling her inside, nearly ripping the door off the hinges when the lock stuck. She escorted the girl to the living room, shoving her in the direction of the couch before nearly running for the first aid kit in the kitchen. Thought waited until she returned to the living room. Jay still stood in the doorway, staring at a point far beyond the fireplace with glazed eyes.
The immortal gently led her to the couch, pulling her down and beginning to examine the cuts. It didn’t look like there was any poison or similar substance, but this was the first sign she’d found of Jay being in a fight. Shock was to be expected, but for these two little wounds? She frowned as she gently swabbed the cuts, the human barely twitching at the alcohol burning into flesh. She’d seen this type of reaction before, but not in barely wounded children. After wars and massacres, yes. Where was Jay’s clan? According to Sadie, they were keeping an eye on her. So why weren’t they handling this? What would drive the human to her doorstep at 1 am, deep in shock, looking like a cheap whore, and wounded? Her eyes flared red, promising very unpleasant things to those that called themselves clan of this child.
This finally managed to grab the girl’s attention. Jay’s eyes flickered guiltily up, finally connecting somewhat to the here and now. “I – I’m sorry,” she mumbled.
“Sorry?” the immortal repeated in surprise. What on earth could she be sorry about?
“I – I didn’t mean to impose or anything. I’ll just be going now -”
“No!” Jay visibly winced at the shout. “No,” Demona repeated in a quieter tone, remaindering herself that the child was deep in shock. “I do not mind, but... why are you here?”
The girl shivered, closed her eyes, and wrapped her arms tightly around herself. “I- I don’t really wanna talk about it. I’m.... I just can’t go home. Not yet. They don’t expect me till after sunrise anyway.”
“But what about your clan?”
Emotion ripped across Jay’s face, an unfamiliar combination of fear and – loathing? What the hell had happened? “No, no gargoyles,” she whispered. “No more.” Demona blinked and resettled her wings on her shoulders. That was bizarre, even for Jay. She reached out, placing a worried hand on Jay’s shoulder, seeing and feeling the flinch in a controlled effort to get away. The child looked guiltily up. “I’ll be fine. Just... needed someplace neutral to go to.”
Demona nodded, forcing herself to hold her curiosity. “You’re soaking. The bathroom is in there. You can dry off, and I’ll try to find some other clothes.”
Jay followed the orders with frightening obedience and even more disturbing silence. I can’t get her this quiet in the office. This is.... wrong. Dragon help me, I never thought I’d be looking forward to her chatter, the gargoyle mused as she rummaged through her closet before finding a long forgotten sweat suit that should suffice.
The silence and sense of wrongness lasted the half hour it took Demona to coax Jay to just rest on the couch, and finally into uneasy sleep. Scowling in thought, the gargoyle retreated to the study with her briefcase. A quick search turned up an index card of personal information. She studied the listed names and numbers as she absently picked up the phone.
Hesitantly, Demona punched in the number Jay had put down as her emergency contact. There was half a ring before it was picked up.
“Jay?” a male voice demanded, worry clear in that one, frantic word.
“No,” the immortal answered hesitantly, wondering if she’d gotten Jay’s family or clan.
“Then I’m sorry, but I’m expecting a really important call, so - ”
“What? Who is this?”
“Jay is safe. She showed up on my doorstep. She’s resting now.”
“Thank God.” The relief was evident in his voice, near sobbing release from nightmares. “Um, look, I’m sorry, but I’m spazzing too much to place the voice. Who is this?”
“WHAT?!? What the hell is Jay doing with you?”
“At the moment, getting some rest, which, might I add, she badly needs! Hell, I haven’t seen anyone in that much shock since the last war!”
“Aw, shit,” the guy sighed. “Shit, shit, shit.” Each curse was accompanied by a muffled thump. “She saw, didn’t she?”
“I don’t know!” Demona growled. “I just said she’s in shock. It was hard enough to get her to sleep, I’m certainly not about to interrogate her! What happened?”
There was a deep sigh. “You know that serial killer that’s on the loose?”
“The clan went after him. No way we’d let some freak job like that run around our territory. And... Jay and I found him. He got her while she was human, and.... He was gonna kill her.” An almost hysterical note entered his voice. “I swear to God, he was gonna kill her if I didn’t do anything. So... so I took him out. Permanently. When I was done making sure he was dead, Jay was gone. She’s okay?”
Ahhh, that explained it! “Aside from the shock, yes. Has she ever seen a death?”
“Oh come on. This is the nineties. Have you ever seen prime time at sweeps week?”
She snorted in disdain. “Has she ever seen someone die, up close and personal in real life?”
“I.... No, I don’t think so.”
By the Dragon, what was this clan thinking? “All right. I’ll deal with it.”
“Are... you sure? I mean, we can handle with it if you’d prefer.”
She could read the subtitles easily enough. He didn’t trust her. “I’ve done it before, with my own clan.”
“....All right.” He hesitated, added a swift “and thanks,” then hung up. Demona placed the receiver down, worrying at the problem Jay presented. It was unexpected. Then again, so was her instinct to help – to protect – the human. Prolonged exposure had brought about unexpected results.
The immortal’s thoughts were interrupted by shrill screams from the living room.
A breeze shot down the street, propelled through the wind tunnel of buildings. If she wasn’t under the awning for a movie theater, long since abandoned – Jay would’ve shot a vindictive glare up at Tate. She’d been tramping around the cold, rainy streets for about two hours, and nothing to show for it besides sore feet and a permanent chill. It was August, but damn the rain and wind were cold! She shivered and wished once again that she hadn’t cut her jeans quite so short.
It all happened in an eye blink. She nearly passed the entry to the theater when a shadow seen from the corner of her eye detached itself from the darkness. An arm wrapped around her torso, pinning her arms, while a hand curved around in front to bring a knife to rest beneath her eye.
“Slut,” a low, male voice hissed in her ear. The knife turned, digging a painful dimple into her flesh. “Another one of Satan’s bitches out to tempt men.”
She could’ve taken him. It took a painless second to go from human to gargoyle, and her wings would break his hold and send him flying. She could’ve taken him.
But fear kept Jay riveted. She’d faced hoods before, armed crooks by the dozen, but this was different. This was a serial killer. This was some fucked up psycho with a big ass knife he was more than prepared to use, ramming it through her eye into the brain, slitting her throat, or any number of similarly unpleasant possibilities.
He could do that before she could change.
The world narrowed down to the voice and the knife. “Please. Don’t hurt me.” The whisper was dragged from her as if from someone else, an unconscious whimper that was basic reaction to the weapon.
“Don’t hurt you?” The knife dug in, breaking the skin in accompaniment to the incredulous question. “I’m not gonna hurt you. I’m gonna kill you.”
The calm statement dragged a high pitched whine from her throat. The knife darted in again and twisted. Blood began to trickle down her cheek. “Shut up.”
Jay leaned her head back, needing to get away from the weapon. “Why are you doing this?”
The man leaned close, whispering into her ear. “God sent me. He told me to purify the world. And bitch, you’re next.” The knife retreated, only to be replaced by a lighter. “There’s a special place for hookers in hell. And baby, you’re gonna be burning for eternity.” Flame sprang up from the lighter. “Now’s the time for your repentance to start.”
Another eye blink, another change in reality. It began with a roar of pure, animalistic rage. Something slammed into them, sending Jay off to the side, cement eating away too much exposed skin. Seconds later, when she had her bearings straight, she turned and looked back at her captor and her savior.
The killer lay on the ground, arms and legs spread-eagled. The being above him snarled and slammed down another talon into arm muscles, pinning the human completely. Blood dripped from holes in the killer’s side, which was echoed by blood coating the spike adorning one elbow. Knee spurs dug into calf muscles, more life fluid staining their legs. The creature gave one more hell-born snarl, bared its teeth, then dove, using ivory fangs to literally rip out the human’s throat.
Jay gasped and tried to stand, to move, to run the hell away, but she was frozen.
The creature turned, swallowing the man’s flesh. “What’s the matter, my love?” Tate asked. “Aren’t you hungry?” He casually removed a hand, claws sliding out with a sickening slurp that was accompanied by some thankfully unrecognizable muscle. He delicately licked the blood off his fingers before offering her the meat.
Her paralysis finally let go, but all she could do was scream as he came closer, meat held high in an invitation to share the feast....
“Jay. Jay!! JAY!”
Stinging pain across the face brought her from the wet street to dry, warm living room with a gasp. She stared around, wild-eyed, searching for the nightmare images –
Nightmare. It’d just been a nightmare. “Oooh, god.” She looked up at the blue, far too human face of Demona, begging for understanding, searching for something she hadn’t even known was missing. “How?” she whispered through a sudden rush of tears that seemed to surprise Demona as much as they surprised her. How the hell could you do that, Tate? What the hell makes you act that way? She bit her lip, trying to control her crying. It wasn’t working. She unconsciously bit harder, releasing the copper tang of blood over her tongue. Jay whimpered and flinched, the connection between gargoyles and blood far too close, too recent in her mind.
It was just a dream it was just a dream just a dream a dream! Tate didn’t – dammit, he didn’t try eating him!
But God help her, she still couldn’t erase the image of the gargoyle when she saw him last, tearing out a man’s throat with his teeth....
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::
Let's try this again. Part 1, Graduation.
Wait, go back! Part 2, Discovery!
So what's next?? Part 4, Identity Crisis!
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. Various random brand names and music selections are not mine, you'll know 'em if you see 'em.