It was especially cold that December night in New York.
Snow gently fell to the ground in fat, beautiful flakes from a dark sky. At this time of night, very few were out on the streets, and most kept inside their homes, where it was warm and quiet. The streets had frozen solid, and the sidewalks were slippery. Many buildings were decorated with red and green lights, from large holiday advertisements, to small, cozy lights between curtains.
Below the city however, the sewers weren't any less festive.
Amid them were those a great deal of New Yorkers were oblivious to. Those who outwardly may have been intimidating and strange, but inside were hearts of kindness and gold. It was warm in the center, where there was plenty space for the homeless, and mutants, as they had made it their home. It was much like any large home, with all the necessary things that made it one. All the different rooms and facilities, it was nice considering the location.
From the large radio sitting in the corner of the main room, the classic tunes of Christmas music played in the back. There were a few couches in the room, to which some sat and relaxed on. The gargoyles too had come down to partake in the festivities. There were drinks and food, and all were having a good time. On her corner of the couch, the lioness mutant Maggie sat cozily, with a fuzzy brown blanket up to her chin. She had been on the quieter side tonight, preferring to settle down comfortably. But she would talk to whoever approached, yet she didn't get up.
Now and then, one of the mutant children would run by, and it would assure her.
Everything was going to be fine.
Though her large, stretched belly felt like a tight balloon ready to pop, she knew everything would be okay. Leaning back into the cushions, she eased her head back, though her ears did twitch with the brief cramp that followed.
"Ah-" she sighed slowly, closing her eyes. On the cushion next to her, the weight shifted, causing Maggie to open her narrow eyes. "Elisa." She greeted, smiling. The young detective returned the gesture and offered a hot drink. "Hey. Thought you looked a little lonely over here."
The lioness gratefully accepted the drink. "Oh, no. I enjoy the quiet over here. I wouldn't want to be in anyone's way."
"Hardly." Elisa waved. "So, how's junior coming along? Talon says you've been feeling a little sick lately."
Maggie took a slow sip of her drink, enjoying the comfort of it. She leisurely closed her eyes. "I believe we're both fine. He worries too much… a little morning…discomfort, is nothing."
"Probably. But you know how my brother is." The human woman smiled, looking back out in the party. Talon was busy on the far side, having a conversation with Goliath and Hudson. When he felt he was being looked at, the panther sent a small smile over. Maggie smiled to herself. "He's taken good care of me. All of us." She nodded, shifting to get comfortable again. Elisa briefly noted the lioness tail batting against her as she moved.
"Well… take it easy, okay? After all, you got my first nephew, or niece with you." Elisa chuckled.
Maggie looked at her hidden bump thoughtfully. "I think it'll be a boy."
Elisa raised a brow. "Are you going to be betting like Fang now?" she teased. The Lioness smiled behind her cup. "Well, all the other cubs have been boys. I figure it would be the same for me." She reasoned. Elisa thoughtfully looked back out. It was true. All the other mutants, Claw and Fang, both had sons. There were five of them, and they all acted like brothers. Elisa had to admit, it was cute seeing them with their endless energy.
"I guess we'll know soon… Must be a good Christmas present, huh?"
Maggie smiled. "The best."
After the party ended and the gargoyles left, Talon returned to Maggie's side. He had checked up on her now and then, and only left her side because of her insistence she didn't need to be watched. Now though, he helped her up so they could go to bed. When the lioness got to her feet and began folding her blanket, a wave of pain made her gasp and buckle.
Luckily Talon caught her, and his cat-like eyes widened. "Is it time?"
Maggie frowned, breathing a deep breath. "It won't be much longer… Talon, I'm sorry, with the baby I haven't had much time to figure what to get you for Christmas."
The panther only smiled and placed a hand to her cheek. "All I ever want is right here." He stated, softly. "And here, is all I'd like for the holidays." He chuckled, letting his other hand fall over her stomach. Talon let his head fall atop hers, and the deep purr in his throat did comfort her… for a minute.
"But seriously, get me some Advil." The lioness huffed, turning and wobbling off to bed.
On the midnight after Christmas day, there was a peaceful atmosphere among the gargoyles with the holiday having ended. At the castle atop Xanatos' home, the gargoyles were enjoying a nice time inside, talking of the holidays and eagerly awaiting dinner. Even though it was late, the normal times were different for them.
Broadway coughed from the kitchen, waving the smoke away. "Stuff's almost done!"
Lexington pinched his nose. "Sure about that? You might need more time if everything burns." He laughed, making an insulted 'hey!' follow. While the small green gargoyle went to help him out, Angela stood by the window, looking out at the falling snow. "It's so beautiful, with all the city lights." She admired, at least till Bronx came up, distracting her when he licked her hand. "Hey you!" she laughed, starting after him.
Nearby, Goliath and Elisa sat close together, enjoying sitting by another's side. Quite frankly, Elisa liked snuggling up in his large, leathery wing. She sighed comfortably.
"I'd say it's been a good year."
Goliath closed his eyes, smiling. "I would agree… We shall see what nine-teen ninety-seven holds in store for us."
"Hopefully more time for…us. I've been thinking of working part-time."
"Elisa," Goliath began, tenderly holding the human closer to him, "for my sake, you do not have to-"
"For our sake." She interrupted, sneaking a quick kiss to the gargoyle. Goliath could only sigh, nevertheless, enjoy the time with his human. Above, on the roofs, Brooklyn leaned against the old, stone foundation. He liked the feeling of cold snow on his dark red skin, it felt nice to him.
Just as he was closing his eyes, a distant 'hey!' made him furrow his brows. But there was nothing but darkness in this snowy night. The moment he shrugged and closed his eyes, a large, brisk form landed next to him.
"Wake up ya mook!" Fang snarled, fur bristling from the snow. "Where's Talon's sista?" he demanded, looking around. Brooklyn, having calmed his heart down, huffed. "Inside. Where else?... Why?"
The brown feline growled over his shoulder, sharp teeth glinting. "Why do ya think? Maggie's gone into labor!"
For a moment Brooklyn felt his heart freeze, and quickly he was running after the mutant cat. Fang must have broken the news fairly quick, because everyone looked shocked. The bobcat pointed at Elisa Maza.
"You. Come on. Talon wants ya. Guys' been freaking out."
When Goliath stepped after her, Fang blocked the way. "Nah buddy. Talon said only her… It's for Maggie, aight? We don't want her freaking out if there's too many peoples, plus, we don't know how a giant mutant cat lady might get defensive…and bust out the claws." He winced, turning tail and hurrying out.
Elisa was waiting for him outside. "Is my brother alright?"
Fang only grabbed her up in an arm, eyes ahead. "You'll see him soon enough." And with that, he took off through the night sky, hurriedly. From the balcony of the interior, the gargoyles watched silently.
"Aren't we at least gonna check on her?" Brooklyn demanded, staring up worriedly at his leader.
"Not yet." Goliath answered slowly. "This is a matter for Elisa's family. She will let us know soon enough."
Yet as the night slowly wore on, and the dawn being on the horizon, they knew it wouldn't be till night came again they knew anything.
Maggie lay in her bed, fur clinging to her skin damply, and her hair a bunched mess behind her. She was exhausted, but she had enough strength to keep awake. She slowly turned her head, watching as a homeless former nurse handled her cub.
"Is-is everything alright?" she rasped, dimly aware of Talon on her other side holding her hand. Next to him, Elisa stood biting her thumb, watching the nurse. In the doorway the rest of the mutant/homeless clan peaked in, till thankfully Claw shooed them off.
"Shouldn't there be crying?" the lioness finally realized, starting to sit upright despite the pain it caused her. But then, the nurse smiled over, her kind face bright since it had been years since helping someone. In her arms she held a small bundle, and she made her way over.
"She's healthy, only sleeping."
Maggie let out a held breath when she could hold the bundle. "S-She?" she breathed, amazed as she finally got to see her cub. Although swaddled, the light brown cub's face was visible. There was a small, pink nose, with tufts of fur poking from her cheeks. Small little ears folded over her head, and bits of black fur poked out from the tips. If anything, it looked like the cub had mostly taken after Maggie, but the fur color was between her parents.
Just barely, the awed parents could see the small pink nose twitch, as if taking small sniffs. Perhaps though she didn't like the cold air, because the cub squirmed to hide from it, but couldn't do anything with the swaddle. At the tiniest upset squeak, Maggie quickly hid the cub into her neck, as to avoid the chilly air.
"Talon." Maggie began after a moment, eyes darting over. "You don't think- "
"No." he assured, smiling and sitting closer to her. "I know… Every birth here we have to wonder how human…or animalistic they can be. But I don't think they'll ever be like wild animals, Maggie. There's too many other factors."
Maggie let out a hard breath, finally letting herself relax. Yet when she closed her eyes, her breathing slowed, finally succumbing to sleep. Talon looked over his shoulder, and most of the others got the hint to leave. Elisa however remained, smiling at her brother.
"Well, Talon, you're a dad now… Isn't that what you've always wanted?"
The panther chuckled and leaned back into his seat, letting himself relax as well. "It was pretty high up on the list." He answered softly. "I have to admit… when I first became this, I'd thought everything was over. My life, my friends…all gone. It turns out though, I gained so much more."
Elisa placed a hand on his shoulder. "I'm happy for you, Talon… I better get going, shift starts soon… But I'll be back later to check on you guys, you can be sure." She smiled. "By the way…what's my new nieces' name?"
"We actually talked about that. For a boy or girl. Since it's a girl… we'll name her after Maggie's grandmother. Nani. She was Hawaiian." He said, thoughtfully.
Elisa chuckled as she left. "Little Nani… I can't wait."
A short hour later, Maggie was wide awake, and obviously protective. She didn't like anyone else in the room but Talon. But it wasn't a problem. It was their bedroom anyway. Anyone that wanted to say something would have to deal with Talon at the door, and that was that.
It was a relatively peaceful day though. Despite the chill, everyone was calm and resting from the morning's excitement.
Maggie frowned over. "I don't understand. I've read books on both human and feline pregnancy. All she's done is sleep. Shouldn't she at least be hungry, o-or fussing?"
Talon placed a hand to her head, brushing stray hairs from her face. "Maggie, I know your instincts make things more difficult, considering what we are now. I know, I feel it too. But everything is alright. She's not in any pain, only sleep. I think most parents would be jealous of us."
"I know." She answered quickly. "I just wish- "
As if to protest all the noise, Nani squeaked quickly and shortly, as if to give them the message to quiet. But obviously, she began to wake up more, and even peaked her eyes open. There was a hint of Talon's bright blue eyes, but her own could only squint before closing from the light.
Maggie had perked, watching with delight and joy in her heart. Talon felt all his doubts vanish instantly.
"May… may I hold her?"
Maggie obviously hadn't given that a thought as she looked at him, eyes widening. "I thought you had."
To his amusement he shook his head. "No, you two were sleeping most the morning."
"Oh Talon, I'm sorry. Here. Make sure to hold her head." The lioness pointed out, carefully handling the bundle over. Nani obviously disliked the movement and squirmed, but still in her swaddle, could not move. Talon gingerly held her in his arms, amazed yet glad. "I don't think she cares for being constricted." He began, starting to unwrap the blanket with a careful hand, much to Maggie's protest. "I don't want her getting cold."
Talon laughed. "We've turned all the heaters up. She won't be getting cold anytime soon. It's probably all the constriction on her-"
Talon cut himself off, falling silent.
Maggie had yet to stop staring at him with wide eyes. "What?"
The panther swallowed a hard spot in his throat. "…wings."
The lioness leaned forward. "Talon, for goodness sake you're scaring me. What's with that face?" After a moment, Talon eased himself down next to her, and glancing at her, returned the cub to her mother. It didn't take Maggie long to see Nani's back, or, what was lacking on it.
The lioness covered her mouth.
Talon furrowed his brows. "… you know; I don't think it matters."
"She doesn't have wings." Maggie rasped, soon rubbing her hand through the cub's fur. It seemed to please Nani, because she fell asleep at the touch. The small sign of the cub relaxing from her hand comforted Maggie. "She'll never be able to fly…" she realized, almost sadly.
Talon rested his eyes on the cub, softly speaking. "It's alright, though… With all the genetics put into us, it's no surprise something would show up sooner or later… But it's all alright." He smiled, happily. "I couldn't have asked for a more beautiful, healthy cub."
It seemed the talking again roused the cub up, finally giving the parents what they'd expected and hoped at first. Two long hours of fussy crying, at least until the cub's mood died down and her belly filled up.
A long twelve hours later, Elisa Maza returned to the sewers once her shift finished. Although she was tired, there was no way she was going to miss seeing her new family member. Once she arrived, she found the homeless members of the clan minding the older cubs, and they seemed highly agitated. Fang seemed in a bad mood. "You got any idea how hard it is to keep a bunch of boys quiet? It's not. Especially when they got the freaking energy of wild cats. But noo, Talon expects us to keep them quiet and-" he jumped, "who keeps pouncing on my tail?" he roared, fangs bared. "I ain't cut out for this! Why do ya think I leave it to the women?" he huffed, finally letting off his steam.
Elisa had only raised her brows, amused. "Hang in there Fang."
When she reached the hallway and the bedrooms, she stopped at the one on the end and greeted an annoyed Talon by the door. "What is Fang's problem? I swear, he's louder than those children put together."
"Makes you wish the cat had his tongue, huh?" she teased.
Talon merely rolled his eyes and guided her inside. "I've just been baby-proofing things around here. Luckily I already built the crib some time back."
Elisa looked around. "Where's Maggie?"
"Oh." Talon leaned up from the crib. "She went for a walk with the women. Said she needed to stretch a little, get some advice from the other mothers."
The detective nodded, casually making her way over. But, she couldn't hide her smile as she peaked over the crib. Little Nani was staring up at the hanging toys over the crib, watching them float around with awe. Then, as she'd shown she didn't like the blanket, she wiggled out from it and curled her tiny paws to her face.
"She's adorable, Talon." Elisa smiled, unable to take her eyes away as the cub blinked over, staring at her first human in silent wonder. "Have you shown her to anyone else yet?" Elisa asked, tucking a dark hair behind her ear. Talon sat back in a chair next to the crib and sighed. "Not yet… And it certainly won't be how Fang introduced his boys to everyone."
Elisa chuckled. "Dare I ask?"
"Barely five minutes after the poor things were born, he stands on a trash heap and presents them Lion King Style. He even sang the circle of life."
The detective's laughing made Nani look over again, wondering what was going on.
"Well, I'm sure everyone will love her. The Gargoyles too. Everyone's been so worried about Maggie, now they just want to meet the newest clan-mate."
"I'd give it a week." Talon decided in thought. "That'll give time for Maggie to recover, and she'll feel like flying by then, at least."
As the detective nodded, she paused and leaned forward. Then, with furrowed brows, she opened her mouth.
"I know." Talon dismissed. "But it's no big deal. She will be loved, and happy." He smiled, somewhat closing his eyes.
Elisa nodded. "I know… we'll, you better rest up, big brother. You've had a long day." With that she went over and kissed his furred forehead, and waved as she left the room. Talon slowly closed his eyes, all the more enjoying the restful quiet. At least, till he caught sight of big blue eyes looking at him through the crib's bars, said cub silently watching him. Talon chuckled.
"Come here, you. Something you'll learn soon enough, is the love for cat-naps around here." With his cub in his arms, Talon settled down on the bed, figuring a small nap wouldn't hurt…
When Maggie eventually returned, she found her mate snoozing on the bed, wings covering himself and the small cub snuggled into his neck.
She made sure to get a picture.
It was New Years' Eve when the mutants left the sewers. With all the festivities and fireworks being set up, they didn't plan on missing the show. They flew their way to the castle, looking forward to the view with their gargoyle friends. They only wore loose jackets or coats, but the new parents had made sure to bundle their cub good.
Nani was hardly visible in Maggie's arms with all the blankets. And she wasn't happy with it either. But the mutants had their attention elsewhere as they flew, taking note of all the people waiting for the new year below. When they arrived at the tower, Bronx rushed out to greet them. Maggie warily held her cub close when Bronx noticed, sniffing up at her knowing something was new. At least till a whistle called him back.
The gargoyles greeted them happily, and urged they come inside where it was warm, and where dinner was waiting. It was obvious though their eyes lingered on Maggie and her bundle, but they didn't want to rush her.
Angela greeted Maggie by the fire place, where the fire brightly warmed the area. The gargoyle gasped, hands going to her cheeks. "Oh, she's adorable!"
"Would you like to hold her?" Maggie smiled.
So, that was how it went for a few minutes, each gargoyle holding the cub happily yet careful. Of course, Maggie was never far to keep an eye on them. Talon though was more calm, instead talking with his friends about the New Years. The little boy cubs were constantly running around and playing, mostly running away from Bronx, much to the gar-dog's excitement.
Once Maggie had grown more at ease, she consented to let Nani stay in the children's room, out of everyone's way and where it was safe. It was in the hall nearby just around the corner, filled with toys and colorful things. If anyone looked in from the hallway, they would see the small room, and how safe it was. It looked like Nani had faked being sleepy, so she wouldn't be held by anymore strange faces. But now that she was alone, 'asleep', she found the loneliness upsetting.
The cub's small, shy cries went unheard. It escaped everyone's notice the quiet, stealthy form going down the hall. Except Nani's. The helpless cub lay looking towards the doorway, watching the shadow. Her blue eyes grew the size of plates, until, she saw one of those funny creatures with wings and tails again. They weren't furry… so she figured someone was going to hold her again.
As for the gargoyle, she turned her head when the smallest shuffle reached her ears. Her clawed fingers stretched out readily, to fight whoever was there. But there was nothing but an empty child's room. Demona 'hmphed', almost to continue her way, till her eyes lowered.
For a few moments she stared, till putting it together. The red haired gargoyle appeared amused and stepped over the small child-gate.
"Well, what do you know. The mutants can breed." She scoffed, bending her knees. Nani only stared up at the gargoyle, eyes inching upwards. When she caught sight of the wild crimson hair, the cub was delighted. She reached her furred arms upwards, smiling and making her infant noises.
As for Demona, she hadn't expected that. Her sharp features turned to surprise. She glanced at the doorway, lips thinning. "Why would they leave a newborn out here… incompetent-" she scoffs, picking the cub up. The gargoyle couldn't help but watch as the almost a week old cub managed to lift her head, and fill her little paws with red hair. Tiny fingers tried grabbing a hold, but with much to learn still, she couldn't grab, and continued batting at it.
"How lucky that you're cute." Demona mumbled, heading for the door. No sooner than she had stepped out, did a gargoyle's screech echo the hall.
Brooklyn stopped in his tracks, standing stiff with his wings flared. "Demona, put her down." The red gargoyle warned, eyes shining white angrily.
Demona raised a brow. "As in drop her? You can't be that foolish, can you?"
"You know what I mean." He warns.
"Oh, but Brooklyn," the female smirked, "how can I carry out my plans if I've adopted a new pet? Surely I must go home now."
When she turned, the gargoyle shrieked and jumped for her. Demona had no choice but to let go of the cub so she could defend herself. Brooklyn didn't pay any attention to her, rather the cub so he could catch her. It cost a sharp slash across his side, but at least he had the cub safely. Brooklyn jumped away, shielding himself with his wings. By his glare, he was daring Demona to come closer.
As expected, the cub began crying, causing Demona to briefly glance down to his hidden arms, considering if it was worth it. Finally, she snarled and ran off down the hall, vanishing into the darkness. Brooklyn snorted to himself, folding his wings behind him. He looked down at the cub, realizing this was the first time he'd held her. Brooklyn's soft expression only lasted a moment before he quickly returned the cub to the room. Then, he backed away, covering his arm with a wing when he heard the parents approaching. No doubt, they'd been in tune to her cries, and came rushing.
The crimson gargoyle sat crouched by the wall nearby, ignoring the sting in his arm. It would heal up when he went to sleep.
"What happened?" Talon demanded, looking around readily as his wife scooped up the upset cub.
"I-I don't know." Brooklyn spoke up. "I was passing by, I… guess I scared her." He lied. Brooklyn knew Demona had left, surely assuming the noise would have attracted everyone else. For whatever reasons she was here… well, probably nothing good like usual. Thankfully at least she had left.
Talon stood by Maggie a moment, looking their cub over. Though moments later, he snarled towards the gargoyle, ears flat against his head.
"Stay away from my cub. Understand?"
"Talon-" Maggie began, placing a hand on his arm. "I know he wouldn't-"
The panther glared over, causing the lioness to fall silent and sympathetically look at the gargoyle. Brooklyn slumped, sighing quietly. It wasn't fair in the slightest…but he didn't want to worry them about what almost happened. He turned his gaze aside, listening to the feline family walk off and return to the party.
Brooklyn dropped his head in his hands, trying to ignore the heaviness in his chest.
The blood on his arm dripped to the ground, stinging all the more.
"Man, I hope the new year isn't this lousy…"