Jay stood in the airport, struggling to stand against the waves of humanity. Standing (barely) at just a few inches over 5 feet, she was considered the ordinary, bland teenager – ignoring the funny buzzcut – so she was kind of used to being ignored. However, she had to wonder what would happen if she triggered the invisible switch in her DNA, changing from the average, if abnormally strong, teen cancer survivor to a fanged, winged creature known as a gargoyle.
Of course, since it was still an hour and a half to sunset, she would only be flesh for a second before going into stone hibernation; turning into a statue until a rather spectacular awakening at sunset.
She shoved the thought and smirk away when spotting a graying black haired head bobbing along in the crowd, then smiled and waved an arm frantically like hailing a cab. “Gram!” she shouted. “Hey Gram! Over here!” Since about twenty other people were doing virtually the same thing, she wasn’t noticed.
After three minutes of fighting her way through people and screaming in the figure’s general direction, she finally linked up with an elderly woman. They went through the usual rituals; a hug, screamed questions, fighting to grab the right bag from the pick up before finally escaping to the quiet of Jay’s clunker cum car. They hugged again before stuffing her suitcase and backpack in the backseat.
“Jay, I do believe you grew again. That or I’m still shrinking.”
The teenager grinned and shrugged. It was hard for her to tell, especially the way she gained nearly half a foot when changing forms. “Thanks. Um, we need to move if we want to get there in time. Even with the extra time, traffic was nasty up here. We’re due to hit rush hour, so lord knows if we’ll make it.”
She nodded and buckled up. “Any idea why the clan is so determined for us to be there, particularly before they wake up?”
Jay shook my head and growled a curse under her breath as some idiot cut in front of her. “Nope. Even Tate’s been playing mysterious prophet lately.”
Gram gave her an odd look. “And how have things been between you two?”
Jay took her eyes off the road long enough to try to see what she was saying, if she was insinuating something. But she’s had a decent poker face long before the girl was born. So no help there. “’Sokay, I guess. He’s adjusting to high school pretty well.”
Amy Hallet gave her granddaughter a wise, all-knowing nod and moved the conversation on to her cousins and other family relatives in California.
Jay mentally shrugged. Grandparents. Go figure.
Despite her fears and several snarls in traffic, the two managed to pull into the clan’s driveway with ten minutes to spare. But the instant the car had completely entered the drive, Jay slammed the brakes, screeching a curse. She instantly turned her gaze from the headlights before them over to Gram to see if she’d noticed her lapse. The older woman was sitting stiffly, glaring at the offending lights with a steely gaze Jay had never witnessed in her grandmother before. “Stay here,” she growled, jerking the door open and striding towards the other car. Shock kept Jay in her seat as Gram stalked to the driver’s window and began to yell at whoever the unlucky guy behind the wheel was. Never mind that if anything was wrong, Jay would be more able to handle trouble, epically come sunset when she could change forms. But nothing other than screaming took place before Gram strode back to the car. “Drive,” she ordered in that same artic voice. Jay obeyed, hunching protectively over the wheel. Thank god she’s not mad at me! Geeze, never thought I’d be upset this is a one car driveway. As they took the curve, Jay swore again, but this time under her breath. An echoing ‘shit!’ earned Gram a shocked look.
Cars were lined up in front of the house, humans boiling out in confusion as the unlucky leader backed slowly down. “What the hell is going on?” Jay muttered in confusion.
“Damned if I know,” Gram retorted distractedly, gaining another look.
When everyone was parked, the two women got out, both anticipating the worst in some sort of mob. Jay was shocked to recognize some of the people. Several of them were her teachers, others assorted school personnel, and there was even the guy who ran the flower shop near the school.
One of them men who Jay vaguely recognized as a counselor of some sort or another, a short man with curly black hair and perpetual grin, stepped forward. “Hey, are you the people we’re supposed to meet?”
“Um,” Jay started.
Gram cut in. “Beg pardon?”
“Look, all I know is Eric and Mariah – the Williams’? – recruited us for this DayDreams charity thing, gave us a truly bizarre Shakespeare lecture, then sent us on our merry way. But nobody’s been here, so....”
Gram coughed, a sound suspiciously like a muffled laugh. “Ah, I see. You’re just a little early, is all. Why don’t we head to the roof?”
Jay was mystified, but followed her grandmother’s lead. Between the two of them, they managed to herd all the people to the roof before sunset. Gram stood by the stone form of Sadie and cleared her throat. “Just a little advance warning, folks. You’ll want to move away from the gargoyles.”
The by now thoroughly confused humans obeyed with questioning looks.
Then the gargoyles awoke.
All told, they took it rather well. There was some screaming, some startled cursing, but no fainting, running or attacking. For the clan, that’s better than usual. Apparently Mr. and Mrs. Williams – I don’t think I’ll ever feel comfortable calling them Eric and Mariah, it just feels wrong! – gave them a bit of advance warning; the whole “Shakespeare lecture” Mr. M was talking about. So anyway, the whole other races are out there issue got settled and people started mingling.
Jay was quickly swept up into a hug by Tate. “Happy Solstice!”
“Happy Solstice,” she repeated, returning the hug. “Solstice?” she echoed. “You aren’t going to do that funky graveyard thing again, are you?” she asked suspiciously, giving him an evil eye.
Tate laughed. “Nah, that’s the Summer Solstice. Shortest night, so we mourn. This is the longest, so we par-tay! Well, sort of.”
A shrill whistle cut through Jay’s giggles and the general chatter of the clan and their new allies. All attention as turned towards Mector.
The leader was grinning, relaxing his Supreme Commander façade for once. “Happy Solstice, all. I know you’re impatient to get out and about, so I’ll save the speeches for the party and get right to duties. First, extra duties for clan. Any volunteers for Secret Santa?”
Megan, Silicon, and Steve’s hands went up.
Mector nodded. “Bags and lists are in the stairwell, go on and try to be quiet this year. Please. All right, carolers?”
More hands went up, and Nicole, Arin, Liam, and Frank were quickly gliding away.
“This means everyone else is on construction duty. But this year, we’re going for two projects, because of the extra help.” An excited murmur swept through the assembled beings.
“All right, ALL RIGHT PEOPLE! Enough. We have work to do. For those who don’t know, I’m speaking as the head of the DayDream Charity Organization.”
“He’s joking about the name thing, right?” Jay whispered to Tate. He grinned, shook his head, and motioned for her to be quiet.
“We’re aiming for the completion of two jobs tonight. First, a team of two humans and several gargoyles will be going to set up a tree house. It’s already built, so it’s mostly a matter of sticking it up at the right place. The rest of us will head out and work on restoring a roof. The first team will rejoin us when they finish. Any questions?”
The florist, a tall man with short brown hair, a moustache, and glasses finally raised his hand. “Yeah. Not that I’m against this or anything, but you plan to do all this tonight?”
The Leader grinned. “We have our ways.”
A rumble of engines from the driveway drew all attention. A truck carting a wooden playhouse creaked to a stop, and the Williams’s hopped out. “Hey, Mector!” Mariah called up, “I don’t believe this! We’re late and you still haven’t got yer lazy tail down here!”
My definition of ‘weird’ has really gone through some changes since getting cancer, but tonight was definitely near the top of the odd list, but in a good way. Humans seemed blind and deaf to our presence. We just went in, did our thing, and left. If nothing else, the clan got a few more allies. Everyone had fun. It took a surprisingly short time for the humans to get used to the wings and such, but pretty soon they were acting as nonchalant as me and my family – figures they were in on it along with Tate’s parents. Can’t trust anyone nowadays.
Anyway, it was hard finishing in time, but we pulled it off with time to spare. Well, enough to get back to the house for a big, relaxed dinner/breakfast.
December 22, shortly before sunrise, at the clan’s house
Things had finally drawn to a close. The humans had gratefully gone home to sleep to noon at the earliest, while the clan had reassembled on the roof, scattered in various relaxed positions like discarded wrapping paper across the living room floor.
Jay tilted her head back, resting her head on the talons of her wings. “Oh, geeze. I’m whipped.”
Tate leaned over and patted her shoulder. “But you did good. I’m still amazed we finished all that.”
“Amen to that.” She rested for a second, then opened an eye to glare at him. “I thought you said there was partying involved.”
“In two nights. Christmas Eve we party.”
She whacked him weakly on the shoulder. “Jerk. You lied.”
“No, you just never asked.”
Jay glared for a few more seconds. When that didn’t work at removing Tate’s smirk, she stuck out her tongue at him.
The sun rose and froze the clan into stone.
Dec. 24, 8:34 PM
The new allies had come and gone, almost all of the presents were handed out and unwrapped. The gargoyles were ready to wander off with their new toys when Jay stood with a nervous cough and dragged a computer box, covered in bright paper with liberal use of tape and ribbons, from the library. There were excited murmurs from Silicon and Megan’s direction. With another nervous look, Jay simply shrugged. “I couldn’t figure out what to get each of you, so I decided to go with a communal present. Anyone who wants the honors can go ahead and open it.”
There was a great deal of shuffling and whispers before Tate stumbled forward with a dirty look behind him at whoever pushed him.
“Eee-lected,” someone muttered. Tate grinned ruefully and rolled his eyes, but he tore into the wrapping paper. He stopped almost immediately to glare at the human. “Jay, is this what I think it is?” As she broke down into helpless giggles, he sighed. “Thought so. She used medical tape,” he informed the rest of the clan, who shrugged at human weirdness or chuckled. When the box finally surrendered to liberal talon swipes, Tate pulled something black partway out of the box. He studied it for a second, wings obscuring it from the clan, before collapsing with helpless bellows of laughter.
When he finally regained control – minus helpless chuckles – he held up a t-shirt with “Carpe Noctum” written in bold silver on the front. “You’re evil,” he laughed at Jay.
The clan didn’t hesitate for a second, just happily swarmed the box and snatched shirts at random.
Tate found Jay near the open window, inhaling cold air and looking longingly at the forest.
“You ok?” he asked.
“Yeah, just getting a little crowded in here.”
“C’mon, there’s a great view at Porter’s Rock.”
The pair headed for the window. The instant they stepped onto the ledge, whoops, whistles, and catcalls echoed from the room. Tate stiffened, then slumped with a small “Aw, shit.”
Jay stared at the clan, then back at Tate in confusion. “What?”
He pointed to the sky. “Look up.”
A small bunch of mistletoe hung over them. “Oh. Well, we can just ignore it.”
He snorted. “Not around here you can’t. Tradition. Get caught, you gotta kiss the nearest person of the opposite gender. If ya refuse, you get dumped into the lake. And trust me, it’s cold!”
She sighed. “Well... guess that means we don’t have much choice.”
“You don’t have to sound quite so upset about this.”
She laughed. “Sorry. Is there anything else I should know beforehand?”
“Lips but no tongue!” someone called to an increase in the hoots.
Tate shrugged. “You heard the peanut gallery.”
I’m not quite sure what I expected. It was over in a few seconds anyway, but I swear, if the whole clan wasn’t there laughing their tails off, I’d try going for seconds. Not like that’s here or there, but... this is something I don’t want to forget. Heh. Its Christmas/Solstice and all I can think of is a stupid mistletoe encounter. Great.
Anyway, after.... that, Tate went off to finish the bit of tradition; the victims get to place the mistletoe somewhere else. Evil gargoyle, he booby trapped the bathroom. Can’t say I object, though. Whoever ends up under it has it coming.
We finally made it to Porter’s Rock. A little cool up there, but the lights across the river are absolutely beautiful. Then he pulled a surprise on me.
Tate pulled out a small, brightly beribboned box. “Uh, yer mom said you were really into stuff on Broadway.”
“Oh god.” Jay put her head into her hands. “She’s been gossiping again?”
He laughed. “Don’t worry, nothing big. But there is the matter of small, non-sequential bills in a black briefcase....” They dissolved into laughter. “Seriously though. Um, here.” He handed over the box.
She carefully took off the ribbons and opened the box. Inside a pendant rested on delicate gold chain and cotton. Jay pulled it out to see it better. It was white half mask, surrounded by the gold stem leading to a red rose that dangled beneath the domino mask. “Oh wow. This is – it’s beautiful!” She slipped it over her head and the two drew together, heads resting on the other’s shoulder to watch the moon reflect off the water. “Thanks.”
“You’re welcome. So, this better than the Summer Solstice?”
Jay snorted gently. “Much. Merry Chri – er, happy Solstice, Tate.”
He chuckled. “And happy holidays to you too.”
Get me out of here!!! A.K.A. Home
I want to read more! To get back to the fic archive
Send any questions, comments, screams of outrage, etc. to Norcumi@backtick.net
Gargoyles belongs to Disney. All Rights Reserved. Used without permission. Any use of their copyrighted material or trademarks in this file should not be viewed as a challenge to those copyrights or trademarks.