My evil twin, bad weather friend
He always wants to start when I want to begin
It scares me so, like I scare myself
With that book of Nostradamus up upon my shelf
Playing hangman 'til the morning light
Doing donuts on the neighbors lawn
Then sleep all through the day, get up and start again
I can hear some sirens somewhere but I don't know why
My evil twin runs home again
Search lights look for an alibi, but I'll be home by then
Here he comes again, my evil twin
My friends have seen him hiding underneath my skin
Who cut the arm off the voodoo doll
That resembles a Republican president from long ago
I'd hate to see you leave
'Cause I have grown so grateful for the
Blame you save me from
(My twin) I know he looks like me
(My twin) Hates work like me and walks like me
(My twin) He's even got a twin like me
My evil twin, bad weather friend
I know some day I'll meet him
But I don't know where or when
1951, Mystic, Connecticut
Screams and battle cries rang through the house, once a home. Humans and gargoyles where everywhere, locked in battle and embracing death. Yet life came, in a small room on the bottom floor. A group of five males stood before the door, snarling and dealing death to the humans who dared turn on them, betray their trust and attacking them. Inside, a dark red female with hair white with age that showed itself on her heavily creased features helped several females through the trial of birth. A group of large, spotted lavender eggs testified to her prowess.
The males holding the door fell, axes and guns brushing the defenders aside into darkness. The females, though pregnant or just past laying, fought viciously. All save the old female died, but they took their attackers with them. The last, an alabaster gargess with blonde hair, shrieked with the agony of delayed birth combined with a death wound to her side, dying yet barely alive. The elder checked her, then bowed her head, murmuring pointless apologies. With several quick swipes of her still-keen talons, she ended the younger female’s agony and took the partially birthed egg from the cooling body.
She took no time to weep for the dead, but grabbed eggs at random, piling in her arms and heading for the door. Shadows fell into the room and she snarled, teeth bared and eyes ruby. She relaxed when it proved to be six of the youngsters. Together, they took eggs and carted them to a tunnel leading to safety.
The seven, along with seven eggs, escaped.
The humans take their vengeance of hate out upon the eggs, destroying life before it could ever begin. Then they set fire to the house, pleased with their purging of the monstrous evil.
Fourteen, half of them eggs, survived, and returned to claim the ashes. They rebuilt, slowly increasing in number thanks to magic, science, and nature. They remembered the slaughter, and honored the dead, but none recognized the presences that lingered behind, spirits denied their rightful time.
And so time passed.
A hatching used to be a happy affair, a time for the clan to let loose and party to celebrate new life. But the proceedings were far more solemn, the absence of friends, elders, and youngsters accenting the helpless and hopeless atmosphere. All eight of the eggs hatched, healthy and loud save a small white female whose light blue eyes refused to focus on anything and a green male who seemed far too small, far too fragile.
The clan made a pretense at celebration, but no more.
The spirits lingered close, comforted and enraged at the ones who had made it. Helpless as they had been at death, they still swirled through their former home. The halls rang with echoes of the past, then quieted.
June 28, 1997
It was another birth, the second since the slaughter. This was finally a joyful occasion, life sparkling through dying halls and growing, expanding once more. By now most of the spirits had left, exorcised by time and infusions of mortal love. But several lingered, envious of the growing life. Even as five sparks joined the bonfire, and one half-left, several hungered for what was denied. Time had worked on the few that remained, wearing down all but one.
Over the next few day, residual magic and desire combined, twining into reality.
September 7, 10:35
Kyla’s head lifted and she stared off into space. “D’you hear that?”
Frank dutifully listened, then shrugged. “It’s a motorcycle.” Then he blinked and froze. “...coming down the driveway.” The two shared a look then darted for the window. They stared as a motorcycle roared down to come to a screeching halt several yards from the house. The rider took off a helmet that seemed to be just for appearances rather then protection, and the gargoyles’ jaws dropped.
“Silicon?” Kyla gasped, unable to believe her eyes.
“He lost it,” Frank muttered.
Even in the poor lighting of the yard, the gargoyle below was unmistakable. While they knew that there were other clans, the chances of another gargoyle having a beak and ears like that were remarkably slim.
But the gargoyle below had a startling difference to the one they saw leaving the house several hours earlier. He had traded his slacks and green vest for a leather, chrome-studded vest and ripped jeans. And he had shown what he referred to as his ‘human geek side’ by almost refusing to vary what he wore. To Kyla’s knowledge, he had never shown the slightest interest in motorcycles.
“Yo! Anyone home?” Silicon bellowed as he stopped the bike and got off. The two gargoyles in the house shared another shocked look before jumping out the window to land neatly in front of their apparently loony brother.
“Have you completely gone insane?” Kyla snarled at the now shadowy figure, mercifully backlit by the light that obscured his features.
“Whatsa matter, babe, never seen a Harley before?”
Frank suddenly found himself holding back a bristling female more then willing to kill the gargoyle that she was considered an item with. “Um, Kyla and babe don’t go in the same sentence. Duh.”
“No, I didn’t. Kyla, huh? Gorgeous name for a gorgeous... chick.” Silicon didn’t seem disturbed that her efforts to tear out his throat were redoubled. “I’m Topper, and this is my Harley.”
“Say what?” Kyla sputtered.
“What’s all the hubbub?” Kyla and Frank did a classic double take from the gargoyle calling himself Topper and the one that landed behind them.
“Okay, so I’m insane, not you,” Frank told the new arrival.
Silicon stared at him, shrugged, then turned to the gargoyle at the bike. His eyes widened as the leather-clad gargoyle obligingly moved from the light to pace around him, looking him up and down.
“I’ll be damned,” he breathed, leaning close to get a better look at Silicon, who leaned back slightly. Impossible or not, he had somehow gained a twin. The new arrival was a dark green, with multiple piercing of ears, eye ridges, and even possibly (Silicon wasn’t sure he wanted to look that closely) tongue.
“I’m Silicon,” the blue gargoyle finally managed, holding out a hand.
The other looked at the proffered limb, then nodded. “Topper. This is my Harley.”
When it was obvious the newcomer had no intentions of doing anything further, particularly something normal, Silicon’s hand dropped. “Um, would you, ah, like to come inside?”
“Wouldn’t be hangin’ around if I didn’t.” With that, ‘Topper’ casually strolled past them and inside as if he’d always lived there and still owned the place.
The three watched him go, all slightly nonplussed.
“That’s Attitude for ya,” Frank finally managed.
Kyla snarled and shrugged his hands off. “I’d say more like brain damage.”
Silicon shot them a look before hurrying after. This was too freaky, but he’d rather know what the hell was going on than wonder about this... new arrival.
He made it to the living room, where Mector was staring at ‘Topper.’ At Silicon’s arrival, the Leader glanced between the two beaked gargoyles. “Would someone care to explain?” he finally managed.
“I’m Topper,” the new arrival drawled before pointing to the window, “that’s my Harley, and I’m one’a the long lost grandkids. Pleased ta meetcha, gramps.”
“You mean... no, that’s impossible. No one else survived the massacre.”
Topper rolled a shoulder in a who-gives-a-damn shrug. “How the hell should I know? I’m not a brain, ask geek beak here.”
The Leader mouthed “geek beak?” to himself before switching his glare to Silicon. The blue gargoyle lifted his shoulders in an unconscious imitation of the previous shrug.
“I see,” Mector sighed. “So what, exactly, are your intentions?”
A grin tugged the corners of Topper’s beak up. “What can I say? I wanted to come home.” He shot an unreadable glance at Silicon. “See the family. That sorta thing.”
September 23, 1997
I’m still not used to doing this. I really wish Sadie was still here; she’d be able to handle this a lot better then me. and she’d be able to explain how the hell Topper... well, managed to be here. How he survived the massacre is probably going to remain a mystery.
And Topper himself is still almost as much a mystery as the night he first arrived. We still don’t know much about his past other then he ran into the Manhattan clan, which directed him to us. Maybe it’s general paranoia, but most of us are still suspicious. There are several exceptions to this, though. Tate and Jay get along just fine, although Jay’s hinted that even she finds him a little strange. The other group is the hatchlings. Topper has a real affinity for them, going so far as to take over hatchling duty quite a few nights. And they absolutely adore him. Go figure.
We all know that there’s some resemblance between siblings, but it’s downright weird when we get to Topper and Silicon. If you’re colorblind, it’s impossible to tell them apart. It’s unheard of in gargoyle history. There should be some sort of difference between them, but there isn’t. Well, until they talk or do something, that is. Silicon’s always been one to hide away at his computer for nights at a time, almost afraid to offend somebody, but Topper seems to love pushing people’s buttons. It’s not just his hobby, it’s his life. And it’s annoying the hell out of all of us. We’ve all had patrol with Topper (except for Silicon; the two are water and oil and we try to keep them apart as much as possible) and, well, he does the normal protect and serve thing. But he goes kinda crazy about it. The other night we split up when a gang tried to lose us by going separate ways. When I got back with my catch, he was stripping several tied up teenagers. They weren’t happy with that. It’s not that I’m protesting his methods, it’s just... it seems more like stunt you find at a collage frat party instead of catching crooks.
One of his redeeming factors is that he’s a–what’s the old saying?–confirmed bachelor. He shows no interest in anyone... except for Kyla. For some strange, almost suicidal reason, he loves making passes at her – but never when Silicon’s around. That’s probably the smartest thing. Once they actually admitted liking each other (OK, what is it with this clan? Am I the only one around here that actually says what she’s feeling without debating over every little consequence?), they’ve been incredibly protective of each other. I dropped a hint that I considered Silicon cute the other day and Kyla nearly ripped my arm off until she was sure that I was just trying to be nice to her. If Silicon was anywhere in the vicinity when Topper makes another pass, all bets would be on Silicon. But since most of the time it’s just Topper and Kyla in the room, he can’t do anything. That’s what has me worried. We’ve put up a collective effort to keep them both in check, but if Topper keeps pushing buttons, something’s gonna explode.
“Hey. Whatcha doin’?”
Silicon froze for a second, then went back to the program he was making. “Go away,” he told Topper coolly.
“Like hell I will,” his brother retorted in a far too cheerful tone. The green gargoyle plopped down into an extra chair and blatantly ignored Silicon’s pained noise when he set his feet down on a scanner on the table. “So, whatcha doin’?”
“Nothing.” This time he didn’t stop.
Topper dropped the jovial tone. “Hey, bro, you can’t ignore me forever.”
He kept typing. “Watch me.”
For a few blessed seconds, there was silence. Then an ominous click sounded, the computer screen flickered, and died. Silicon stared at the computer, then his eyes darted to the power bar. Topper glared back at him, talon still on the off button.
“Guess again, brother.”
Silicon shot to his feet, feeling his wings mantle and his eyes start to glow a dangerous white as he began to enter the calmness of battle rage. “What’d you do that for?!”
The green gargoyle leaned back into the chair. “We need to talk.”
“I don’t think so!” Somehow, he managed to keep from lunging at his twin and trying to rip out his throat, instead simply headed for the door.
Topper flicked the door shut with his tail. “You and me, we need to get this over with now. We have to talk.”
“We don’t have anything in common to talk about,” Silicon snarled, then restrained a grin. Topper might have been born a gargoyle, but he never thought like one. As his twin’s face twisted, preparing for a retort, he turned and jumped out the window. His wings flared, catching the breeze and shooting off.
For awhile, Silicon lost himself in gliding, moving with the wind and ignoring where he was going. If he actually tried to go someplace in particular, Topper could follow him. Without a destination, no one could predict where he would end up.
After cruising around for some time, long enough to rein in his temper, Silicon began to pay attention to where he was. At the moment he was over a rather rough section about half-an-hour’s flight from the house, if you pushed it.
Finally able to think clearly, Silicon heaved a sigh. He didn’t normally react so badly to annoyances. Hell, he could tune out Frank and Steve singing almost anything, but something about Topper just hit all his buttons. He couldn’t put his talon on it, but there was something about that gargoyle.....
Not just his appearance, though. Disconcerting as it was, he could live with it. There was something else.
Eh, maybe it was just the name. What person in their right mind would keep the name ‘Topper’? He sneered. “I’m Topper and this is my Harley,” he mimicked. Then he blinked. Wait a sec.... why does that sound familiar? Silicon frowned in thought. It’s always the same freaky thing. “I’m Topper, and this is my Harley.” It’s a bike, and a possible nasty joke, but it’s the same thing to everyone. Why? I’m Topper, and here’s – Harley. Topper, Harley. Topper Harley. Naaah. Nobody would be that corny. He thought about it for a second then shrugged. Although in this case -
A scuffle between several men and a woman below drew his attention. Fuck it. I got bigger problems. Despite his thoughts, the beaked gargoyle dove for the alley, mind too occupied to register that the group was far into a dead end.
He landed behind the men. “Excuse me,” he rumbled.
The nearest human whipped around, slamming a sledgehammer, crackling with energy, into Silicon’s gut.
The gargoyle let out a wheeze and half stumbled, half flew back, curled over in agony. Even as his back scraped against the brick wall, a vicious snap signaled fresh pain searing up his leg. He tried to bellow in pain, but managed a slightly louder whimper.
Silicon crumpled, leg oddly numb. The world collapsed into a pile of garbage in the alley, then into black. An instant before unconsciousness, he thought he heard the faint whoosh, thump of a gargoyle landing.
Then there was only darkness.
A little more noise, a lot more pain, and a little less darkness.
“Jesus H. Christ!!! Get him on the table.”
“What the hell happened?!”
“Some freak jobs with hammers. Into purple.”
A snarl and increasing pain. “Sorry bro, but I don’t dare drug ya when it’s this bad. Fucking Quarrymen. Why they have to do this?”
“Think the Klan, but just against us.”
“.....Ah. He gonna be okay?”
“I dunno. I’m doing my best, but....”
A sigh, then descending black.
A return to the pain.
“...but I couldn’t let you go there. It’s dark, lonely. And – dammit, not even you should be there.” A sigh and an eternal pause. “Can’t believe it. All that time, all that trouble, all that.... emotion. That’s the big difference, bro. There, you only have room for one emotion. It grows until it takes over or shrinks until ya gotta feel somethin’ else, and usually then you move on. I’ve hated you for years. No room, no time, nothing but hate. Then I actually got here. And all those emotions I never had room for hit me. Everything at once. I didn’t have time to hate you. And then – dammed if I know why, but I couldn’t let you die. So don’t you dare let go now, ya hear me?”
Another long, upward struggle to a lessening of the darkness.
“Please don’t die on me. Dragon help me, I – just hang on, ok? Just a few more minutes. Then the sun’ll- ”
Soft sobs. “Please don’t die.”
Back to darkness.
Silicon tried to wake with the usual roar, but he realized he was incredibly weak even as his roar ended up being more of a mew. He stared around in confusion. What was he doing in the infirmary? And why on earth was Kyla all over him, sobbing – sobbing, of all things! – and babbling incoherently?
“What is it?” he slurred weakly, wincing even as he tried to pull himself up. “Gah! God, what happened?”
She looked up, studying his face through tears. “You’re all right,” she said softly. “That’s all that matters.”
It was beginning to frighten him. She was always so laid back, ready for whatever came. For Kyla to fall apart.... “What happened?” he whispered again.
“Quarry-jerks,” Topper drawled as he entered the room, absently twirling a long, straight stick.
“Excuse me?” he growled.
“The Quarry-jerks pulled one’a the oldest tricks in the book. Lured ya in, then whacked ya. Even I know that one.”
“Well good for you.” Silicon shoved himself upright, holding back the wince and scream of pain. Damned if he was gonna fall apart in front of Topper. When he was finally, painfully sitting up, he realized most of the pain was coming from his right leg. He shoved aside the blanket covering his legs to stare at bandages mummifying him from the shin down. “What the hell?”
There was an uncomfortable silence that even included Topper.
Kyla didn’t meet his eyes. “They had more than hammers. They....”
When she didn’t go on, he clawed through the dressing. “Oh gods,” he whispered as the wrappings fluttered like wounded butterflies to the floor.
“Bear trap,” Topper sneered in what might have been disgust. He tossed the stick – no, a cane – onto the bed. “Here. Thought this might- Hey!” He yelped and stumbled back as the cane went flying back at him.
“Out!” Silicon roared. “Get out of here, you son of a bitch!”
Shock, then bitter anger flashed across the green gargoyle’s face. “Look, you asshole, I went through hell to get you-”
“I don’t care! And ya know what? I don’t want anything from you except to see you leave! Just get the hell out of my life!”
Fury made Topper’s eyes glow as white as Silicon’s. “Fine,” he snarled, “Abso-fuckin’-lutely fine! You want me out? Fine, I’m gone. See ya in hell, bro.” He stomped out with a final snarl.
Kyla frowned. “You didn’t need to-”
Her look changed to shock. “What?”
“Look, I’m sorry and all, but I just... need to be alone.”
Obviously hurt, she obeyed. On the faint edges of hearing, he thought he detected the roar of a motorcycle leaving the grounds.
He didn’t know how long it was before someone rapped on the doorframe. “I wanna be alone,” he snarled.
“Yeah, that does help wallowing in self pity.” Jay’s casual comment eared her a glare. She smirked and came in. “Oh, you are alive. Good.”
“Nope.” She shook her head. “Someone has to talk to you, and I lost.” She earned herself another evil look.
“Fine. You talked, now fuck off.”
“Nope. You need to get over this self-pity thing.”
“What the hell would you know? Dammit, my foot is gone! I’m a fucking cripple!!”
“Awwww, poor wuddums,” she crooned. “Don’t get me wrong, I do feel for ya, but you’re whining to the wrong person. Shot at and missed, shit at and hit. So sorry. Now get over it.”
“Are you even listening to a word I’m saying? I’m crippled!”
“Bullshit.” She yanked back the sheet and studied his mutilated foot. The front half of his talons were gone, the skin from the mangled remnants pulled down to form unpleasant scar tissue over the stubs. “Messy,” she conceded. “But it could be worse.”
“Worse?? How the hell could it be worse?”
She glanced up. “You could be dead.”
He sighed and leaned back. “C’mon Jay, I’ll be lucky to get around well at all. And running is out of the picture. Besides....” His voice dropped. “Just look at it. I mean....”
Jay pulled the neck of her t-shirt down and to the side, revealing a pale white line on the side of her neck. “We all got scars, and this is the least of them. You’re hurt, but you’ll live. You have a damn sight better odds than Tate or I did. Use it, will ya?”
Silicon looked away. “Alright,” he finally said. “But that doesn’t mean I’m apologizing to that bastard.”
She made an agreeable noise, then stood and paced over to the cane. She picked it up and fiddled with it, until the wood separated, revealing a steel blade encased in wood. “Oooh, shiny,” Jay murmured, twisting the sword so it reflected the light.
“Put that away,” Silicon snapped, “you’ll hurt yourself.”
She made a face at him, but sheathed the slim sword back in the cane. “He got it from the armory,” Jay informed him.
There was no need to say who ‘he’ was.
“So?” The beaked gargoyle shrugged.
“That means somebody else had a foot problem. You aren’t the first.”
“Whoop dee doo. Hope that doesn’t mean you expect an apology.”
Jay looked down, studying the cane. “What do you remember about last night?”
He shrugged again. What was she going at now? “Topper and I fought, I flew off to work off some steam, saw the Quarry-losers, then got mangled. Why?”
“Hmm.” She sat next to him, still not looking up. “He followed you.”
“Topper followed you last night.” Jay finally met his eyes. “He saw the Quarry-jerks take you down, then fought them off. If he hadn’t been there, you would’ve died of blood loss before getting back here. Nina barely saved you as it is.”
Silicon’s jaw dropped. “Shit,” he whispered.
“He meant for the cane to be a peace offering.”
“Ok, ok, I get the point! I’m sorry.”
She gave him a small smile. “Right idea, wrong person.”
“All right, all right already! I get the point! You guilt tripped me enough.”
“Well at least it worked.”
“Jeeze. Why didn’t he say anything?” Jay was conspicuously silent, apparently finding the ceiling quite fascinating. “Fine. I know, I know, didn’t shut up long enough to give him a chance. You don’t believe in subtle, do you?”
She gave him a grin and a wink. “After this long with Tate, I know it doesn’t work.”
“Wonderful. Guess I – shit!”
“He took me literally, didn’t he? He could be anywhere by now!”
“He likes drinking at the Log and Lantern. Ya know, that bar down the road?” At his stunned look, Jay grinned and ducked her head. “Topper took me there a few times for drinks and chatting.”
“......aren’t you underage?”
“Well, yeah, but I never said what I drank.”
“Oh.” Silicon blinked and shook his head. “Why do I get the feeling I’m being set up?”
Jay was shaking her head before he finished. “Nuh uh. Just figured someone needed to shock you back into insanity, and I’m the one you’re least likely to kill. And... well, there’s that whole clan thing.”
He leaned over and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek. Jay looked back in surprise. “What was that for?”
“Showing me just what it is Tate sees in you.”
She gave him a mock glare. “Hope you aren’t planning anything more, ‘cause I’m taken.”
He had to grin. “Nah, wouldn’t come between two friends like that. ‘Sides, Kyla would kill me if I tried.”
Jay chuckled. “True.”
There was an uneasy pause.
Silicon cleared his throat. “So. Um.... Can I have a little help?”
The beaked gargoyle gave her a grin which turned into a grimace as he swung his legs over the side of the bed. “Spot me while I hunt down Nina and some painkillers.”
“And?” she prompted, grabbing his arm and helping him up.
Silicon made a face, his hand going white knuckled on the cane. “And then cover for me while I go after Topper.”
“Sure!” Jay chirped. “Be more’n happy to!”
“Why am I not surprised?”
Topper stopped just down the road at the bar. It was a bit close to the clan’s land, but that was probably in his favor. They’d expect him to get as far away as possible. The local drinkers looked as far as his biker gear and turned back to their drinks. Thanks to that, the poor lighting, and the haze of smoke, he made it to a booth with a bottle of Coors and without incident. The sound system spit out Billy Joel warbling on about the river of dreams by his third beer. He glared up at the speaker over his table. “Forget it,” he snarled at it. The idiot didn’t know jack-shit.
A slight tap, tap, behind him warned him before the distinctive scent hit his sensitive nose even through the stink of the bar. “Go the fuck away,” he snarled, then took a swig. The presence behind him hesitated before darting in to snatch the bottle away. “Hey!” He stood and turned. The bar went silent.
Silicon peered through the gloom at the bottle. Then he sneered. “How the hell do you get that sloshed that fast on this swill?”
“None of your fucking business. I thought you wanted me out of your life. Well, I’m gone soon as you give back my beer.”
“How, by crawling into the bottle?”
The bar’s patrons were treated to the sight of two gargoyles, mirror images in the smoke and darkness, facing off beak to beak. The few sober and imaginative enough were reminded of the uncountable ‘evil twin’ episodes on TV. On the left, the blue wearing a green vest and jeans and carrying a cane for a mangled foot. On the right, the green in leather vest and tattered pants, the stereotypical biker.
For a tense moment, Topper was tempted to just start the brawl, starting with a satisfying right to his twin’s beak. Then he sagged with a sigh. “Fuck you,” he snarled half-heartedly. The rage hadn’t lasted past his first beer, changing into the now-familiar depression.
“Come on.” Silicon tossed the bottle back onto the table and turned towards the door. “There’s some good stuff at the house.” For a moment, Topper was tempted to just stay, or get on his bike and head the other way while his brother glided off to the house.
But only for a moment. Silently cursing genes and life in general, he paced after his twin and out the door.
Silicon handed him a bottle straight from the cooler before grabbing one for himself and sitting on the ledge surrounding the roof. Topper flicked off the cap and took a swig. “Good,” he muttered, seating himself on the picnic table.
Silicon nodded and took his own drink. He sighed and looked up at the stars. Just before the silence became unbearable, he shifted. “I’m sorry.”
Topper’s beak jerked up. “What? You’re sorry? That’s not what I expected.”
His twin shrugged. “I shouldn’t have said... what I did. It’s just.... Dammit, I don’t know. It’s... I’m good with computers. They’re easy to understand, they don’t... they’re predictable. A computer does exactly what you tell it to do, no arguing, no problems, simple. Only time they screw up is when you punch the wrong code. Then you go and find where you goofed and fix it. People...” He gave a slight, bitter laugh. “Those, I don’t know how to handle. Not logical, if you’ll pardon the Spock-ism.”
Topper twirled his bottle in green talons. “Looks like I need to make my own apology,” he quietly stated.
Silicon gazed at him with wide eyes. “I thought that was my job.”
That managed to get a chuckle. “Yeah, well, I’m guilty too. I like it here,” he admitted, taking a quick drink. “But all of you take everything too much for granted. Guess that’s why I keep pushing the envelope.” At Silicon’s questioning look, he shrugged and waved in a gesture that managed to indicate everything in sight. “The house, the machines... the beer, even. It’s all incredibly expensive. Then there’s Kyla. You have any idea how lucky you are to have her? the entire clan?” He sighed and stared at the bottle he held loosely in a hand, seeing something miles and years ago. “Never had anything like that,” he muttered to himself.
Another silence grew, which Silicon broke. “Now that that’s over, how about sharing some answers.”
“ ‘Topper Harley’? Please. I’ve only seen Hot Shots about a zillion times. Who are you really? What’re you after?”
When he named the movie, the look on his twin’s face changed from confusion to shock, then something unreadable. Topper snarled and turned away. “That why you came after me?” he growled, “to interrogate me?” He spun and grabbed Silicon by the throat, slamming the computer freak down against the ledge. His eyes glowed white fury and his fangs were bared. “Huh?” He shook Silicon. “Just another problem that needs some ‘logical’ answers?”
The blue gargoyle raised his chin, glaring back at those white eyes. “You wouldn’t let me die before. Gonna kill me now?”
Topper loosed a long, rumbling growl, then let go and stepped back. “You have no idea how tempted I am.”
“But you didn-”
“Shut up! For once in your life, just shut the fuck up! You don’t know anything!”
“I know you don’t want to talk about your past, for whatever reason -”
“ ‘Cause I don’t have one!”
The gargoyles stared at each other, one in shock, the other entirely pissed off. Once again, it was Silicon that spoke first. “Ah – I don’t get it.”
“Big fucking surprise there. You wanna know who I am? Fine, let’s go. I’m your brother. The dead one.” Silicon’s jaw dropped. “Ya know, from the ‘thank your lucky stars you egg was one’a the ones we rescued that big ole nasty day’ story. I’m one’a the ones that didn’t make it. Egg smashed by some racist human trash. I’ve been watchin’ all this time, seein’ what you got ‘cause you were one’a the lucky ones.” He closed his eyes for a moment, voice trembling with emotion. “You stupid bastard, you had everything. Family, friends, girlfriend, pretty much everything you wanted, and a life. You’re alive.” He finally looked him in the eye. “I hated you. I wanted to be you, I - ah, fuck it. ”
“This – is impossible,” Silicon managed to gasp out.
“D’you really need me to give you that Horatio crap? I sure as hell don’t understand it, but I know damn well that it happened! One minute I’m floatin’ around, wishing I had just five minutes alone with you, then bam, here I am, feeling, breathing, alive. And ya know what? I was gonna kill you, but the instant I started breathing, I started feeling.”
“Room for only one emotion....” Silicon breathed.
Topper looked startled for a moment. “You heard? Well, there ya go.” His beak twisted in a wry grin. “Before, there could only be one. Then I was too busy feeling, learning, experiencing to get to you. After Manhattan, figured what the hell, why not see what you were like. From the living perspective. Damn you. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t let them kill you. I didn’t want to be there. No one should be there. Not even you.” He snarled the last, his eyes back to glowing white.
“I’m not responsible for your death.”
“No shit, Sherlock! You think I don’t know that?!? Jesus. You are pathetic. I just- I- damn.” The glow died. Topper sighed and ran a hand over the ridges on his head. “I first came back to kill you. I... can’t. Won’t. Whatever. But around the time I was with the Manhattan clan, I realized... I don’t wanna wander around anymore. I want a home, someplace to belong.” He stared into Silicon’s eyes as if searching for answers there. “You’ve never been alone. It’s the worst thing in the world. It’s.... dammit, I wish I could finish just one thought! I just don’t know what to say. You just can’t understand what it’s like. I .... jesus, I dunno.”
“That’s called ‘being sentient’.”
“I don’t need to be psychoanalyzed, especially not by you! I don’t need anything from you!”
“Then why’d you come back? Why are you still around? There are lots of other clans around, and they’d welcome a new member.”
“I... it’s.... raaaaauuuuugh!” Topper snapped his gaze away with the helpless roar. “I just don’t know.”
“Look, I -”
“Don’t! Just don’t! You don’t understand! Hell, you can’t even begin to understand!”
“Oh I’m sorry, maybe I should just go out and die to get some experience!”
“There should be no need for that.”
Oh... my... gods.... Silicon slowly turned to face the origin of the interrupting voice, knowing full well who it came from, and knowing equally well that it was impossible.
An ancient gargoyle stood casually behind him, her skin a faded red and white hair tied neatly in a bun. “Sadie???” Silicon gasped helplessly. “You’re....”
“Quite dead,” she filled in, her tone casual. “But I think it’s rather clear that even when death is concerned, some rules can be... bent, if not broken.” Her gaze shifted to Topper. “I did not expect to see you on this side.”
“Tough shit,” he managed.
Sadie gave him a gentle smile. “I’d like you to meet some friends of mine.” Two forms materialized next to her.
On Sadie’s left was a tall, male adult gargoyle, resembling a dark skinned human with the clawed feet and hands of a gargoyle. His head and neck were that of a long-snouted canine, and black feathered wings sprouted from his back. Despite his heavy, almost gaudy jewelry, and elaborately embroidered kilt/loincloth, he had the somber air of a funeral guest.
To Sadie’s right was a younger female. Also almost human, she had blue skin that darkened from the ice blue of her forehead to the midnight, almost black of her feet. The color matched the black of her long hair, through which three rows of head ridges protruded.
“Guys, meet Stella.”
They were long dead. He could tell that even without Silicon’s brilliant observation. There was a subtle yet undeniable pull to the trio. He belonged where they were – or should be.
But Topper resisted that pull with the same force of will that had somehow allowed him into the world of the living. He’d do almost anything – no, admit it; ANYTHING! – to avoid that gray, solitary hell of loneliness and hate.
“No! I’m not going back! you can’t make me!” he snarled, backing away. His eyes glowed white again, but more with fear than rage. If anything could take him back there, it would be them.
“No one’s here to make anyone do anything,” the younger female reassured.
“Great, then you can move along, Casper, ‘cause I’m stayin’ here.”
She tilted her head to the side, ebony hair brushing across her shoulders. “Why?”
An involuntary shudder ran through him. “I don’t – I won’t go back there! You know what it’s like! To be that completely alone....”
She moved forward until she was centimeters from his beak. “But it doesn’t have to be that way,” she whispered, reaching out with ethereal hands to draw him forward into a kiss.
His first thought was that she was surprisingly solid for a dead chick. The second was that she was an amazing kisser.
But it was the third realization that stunned him, dwarfing everything in comparison.
A world almost literally exploded around him. Behind closed lids, he saw a vision through another’s eyes. It was a world of light and open spaces, and filled with people. It was not quite as he’d imagined, but nothing once or still mortal could trap that perfection on paper or in stone.
When he was finally released to breathe, it was with sudden, unbelievable longing.
“What do I have to do?” Topper gasped.
The ghostly male floated forward. “Take my hand,” he rumbled in an unearthly voice, extending and arm. “And I will lead the way.”
Topper seemed to snap back to normal at the male’s voice. “No!”
The three dead gargoyles exchanged a look, then the female reached out a hand. “Then take mine.”
Hesitantly, eyes glazed and locked onto hers, Topper reached out. As his talons entwined with hers, his form shimmered and became as translucent as the others’. Then he and the female disappeared, leaving Silicon with the faint, on the edge of hearing sound; a gasp, followed by “The light! It’s... so beautiful....”
Silicon finally managed to snap his gaze away and turned to Sadie. The male gargoyle held her hand, which he bowed to gently, lingeringly kiss. “I await our final meeting,” he rumbled in that eerie voice. “I hope it will be our next, and soon, milady.”
Sadie smiled and gathered him in her arms for a deep, long session of sucking face the likes of which Silicon hadn’t seen since Tate and Jay had been at it. They at last broke lip lock, and the elder simply gazed deep into the male’s eyes. It all left the beaked gargoyle with the distinct feeling he’d been entirely forgotten.
“As do I, love. As do I. Now hurry along before his High and Smurfiness realizes you’re gone. I don’t want you to get into trouble on my account.”
A grin split the somber lines of the dog-headed gargoyle. “I would dare even His wrath for you.” He bowed again and disappeared, leaving only the scent of some exotic spice the beaked gargoyle didn’t recognize.
“Elder!” he called, even as she began to fade away. “Sadie, I don’t understand! What the hell just happened?”
She disappeared completely, but her voice lingered, an aural Cheshire’s grin. “There are more things on heaven and earth, my dear child, then you will ever do more than dream of.”
He stared at the spot where the dead had been.
“Silicon?” Kyla paced slowly up the stairs. “You ok? You’ve been up here awhile.”
“Ah....” He moved his beak several times, trying to figure out what the hell to say. “I think I need an insulin shot, then a really strong tranq.”
“Topper and I were arguing, then this chick showed up, then Sadie - ”
“Topper? Topper who?”
The beaked gargoyle snapped around to stare at her. “My twin?”
She arced an eyeridge, then shrugged and spread her hands. “You really lost me.”
Ohhhh shit. He sprinted over to look at the driveway.
“How many of these have you had?” Kyla was holding up the empty beer bottle. It had been resting on the table, right where Topper had left it.
Silicon took a long look at it, then desperately chugged down his own beer. “Not nearly enough.”
“What are you talking about?”
“A ten on the weird-shit-o’meter.”
I wonder if I’m going crazy. It sure as hell would be easier to understand. But doesn’t wondering about sanity mean you aren’t crazy? Which means you think you are sane, which means you are insane.....
I just don’t get how no one remembers ANYTHING about Topper. Meg has a few of her journal entries – which she swears she doesn’t remember writing – and that’s it. Even Jay doesn’t remember her inspirational little speech. They say I just showed up on the front lawn last night, unconscious and bleeding. End of story.
And last night... it’s all really hazy. We were talking – apologizing, then....
Something important happened, I’m sure if that, but I just can’t remember! I think Sadie was part of it. Maybe.
I’m willing to bet there’s some sort of deeper meaning to it all, but I’ll be damned if I can figure it out.
The only thing I do know is the Quarrymen are here. The outside world finally found us.
No more running. There’s nowhere to run to.
I hope he’s happy. If he is – or was, or whatever – real. He deserves it.
Many many many thanks to the following:
Datafage, the amazing proofreader who not only keeps me from looking dumber than I am, but who also puts up with me and my miserable math in Physics.
Denis Wyrm-Wolf, a font of inspiration, fan (which still surprises me), instigator of the Creativity Daemons, and cure for writer's block.
Last but never least, M.C. for her friendship and weird conversations. Hope everything's ok down there, chummer!
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 all to Norcumi@backtick.net! I love mail!!!!
All characters except those of the Quarrymen and The Manhatten Clan, 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.
"My Evil Twin" belongs to They Might Be Giants. Lyrics also used without permission. I have no idea who owns Hot Shots, but tisn't me. No copyright infringement is intended.