{+}+{+}+{+}+{+}+{+}+{+} CH 13

It was nearly one in the morning before Elisa and Goliath returned to the clock tower.

After her emotional purge, Goliath had run down the stairs of Belvedere tower and to a nearby hot dog vendor that he had spotted from their high vantage point. He bought a small army's worth of hot dogs with everything. He added a pair of cokes, remembering how the bubble in the drink had made her laugh and wrinkle her nose the first time she had tried the fizzy soda.

They had relaxed back to normal by then, and had spent the remainder of the concert eating and enjoying the music.

They had been so involved in their conversation that they hadn't noticed when the music had actually stopped…

So it was with some sheepishness on their part when they entered the clock tower to find the fearsome foursome there.

Elisa stopped in the doorway, Goliath in the process of sliding down the last few inches to the ground, Elisa blinked at them.

They were grinning widely at the two of them.

"Have a nice date?" Brooklyn asked slyly, then let out a startled, "Ow!" as everyone else reached out to swat at him.

"What?" Brooklyn asked, rubbing the back of his head and looking back at the others.

Lexington lowered his face into his hands.

Broadway shook his head at his "brother".

Angela rolled her eyes and sighed.

Elisa stared at them uncomprehendingly.

Goliath moved to stand beside Elisa, arms crossed and glared at the teens. "Correct me if I am wrong," he said darkly, "but I believe our agreement was that you were to stay home tonight, daughter."

"Yes, father," Angela said, she approached him and wove one of her arms through one of his still crossed ones. "But there was something important that we needed to do, and I couldn't reach you by phone. If I'm not safe above the police station," she added, "then where am I safe?"

Goliath let out a low rumble in his chest. "What is this important errand?"

"Boys?" Angela prompted.

The boys made a grand gesture, and Elisa spotted the plaque that they had hung on the wall.

Frowning, Elisa walked towards it and read aloud:

Police Department

City of New York

Medal for Valor

In recognition of an extraordinary act of courage without regard to personal safety and in the finest tradition of the New York City Police Department, we hereby award the civilian medal of valor to:

Brass plates were affixed below, each holding one of the teens' names on them.

Centered below, obviously done in haste, as it was slightly crooked, was a small brass plate with the name "Elisa" on it.

"That's not all," Broadway said, walking forward to pin something to Elisa's shirt.

"Where did you get that?" Goliath whispered to Angela.

"It's mine," Angela whispered back. "I have enough awards on my wall with my name on it from cheerleading and school. Plus," she added with a smile, "Elisa deserved it.

Goliath moved his arm and placed it proudly across her shoulders.

The gold bar pin with the word "Valor" stamped into it, holding a green ribbon with 12 stars emblazoned on it. The ribbon came to a point where it held an eight pointed star medal suspended from a small gold ring.

Elisa was speechless.

She wasn't invisible. She wasn't a burden. Not to them.

And, gargoyles or not, she'd found a family that cared for her.

"Thank you," Elisa said, tracing the word "Valor" on the pin.

She looked up, her gaze running across them, "Thank you, all."

She would not be taking Xanatos up on his offer. As much as she missed her home, she finally found her place in this new world.