All Through the Night (2/2)
a Gargoyles/X-Files/Batman: TAS/Beauty & the Beast/etc crossover
by Merlin Missy

copyright 1995, 2001

VVVVV
Chapter 6: Divergences

The Chief finally let the guests leave at ten. Selena
overheard Veronica Vreeland muttering about being beyond
fashionably late and allowed herself an evil grin. She had never
liked Vreeland, not from the first time she'd met her. She was a
flake, and Selena had no patience whatsoever with flakes.

Funny, she thought, as Alfred pulled the car up. She'd believed the
same thing of Bruce once. She'd thought him as dim and shallow
as Ronnie, just another jet-setter out to turn a profit and pretend
that he had some kind of depth to him. Over time, she'd learned
better, and discovered the dark, hidden places inside of him that
matched her own. Together, they had slowly opened those bitter
spots to the sunlight, and like nightmare mists, they had burned
away leaving room only for each other.

Alfred, ever the proper gentleman, opened the door for her
graciously. His eyes moved past her, and she glanced back.
Burnett was at the doorway, a rare half-smile on his face that
chilled her more than any scowl ever could. She hurried into the
car and stared out the opposite window. She knew that Alfred had
formed an odd friendship with the man, but he worried her in a way
she couldn't define. Maybe he's a dog person, she thought.

Then a stray image struck her. Their hostess's name was Fox.
So was the F.B.I. agent's. So they'd had three bats, two foxes,
and a cat at the party, never mind what the woman had been. Forget
baby shower, they'd had a bloody zoo! She smiled, and the pale man
no longer frightened her half so much.

Bruce sat beside her and the kids across. Alfred shut the
door, opened his own, and got in. "Home, sir?"

Barbara shook her head. "Do you think you could drop me off
first?"

"Of course, Miss Barbara." He pulled the car smoothly out of the
driveway. As they left the grounds, Selena caught sight of Burnett
again, but he was far away now and Bruce was beside her and warm.

She slipped off her shoes. "Oh, that feels much better." She
closed her eyes for a few seconds.

Dick asked, "Did you guys find anything else out?"

"Not enough," said Bruce, sounding tired. She placed her hand
on his. Barbara touched the back of her own seat, and a panel came
open, showing one of the many terminals of the Bat computers. She
typed something in quickly.

"This is what we have on Sevarius. He got his Ph.D. from
MIT in '79, Genetics. He worked for the government for ten
years, then was fired for performing unauthorized experiments.
He spent some time at Cyberbiotics, but he was working for
Gen-U-Tech Systems when he was killed in an 'industrial
accident' in September. This is interesting: Gen-U-Tech is
owned by David Xanatos."

"Go back to the unauthorized experiments part."

Barbara typed a few more words. "His research was based on
some weird ideas. He wanted to combine human DNA with that of
various animals, including bats."

"Great," said Dick. "It's the Manbat all over again."

"Not quite. He had bigger ideas than that. He wanted to have
major crossovers, putting cats, bats, even eels into the mix. He
was fired after performing some preliminary tests on human
subjects."

"And Xanatos hired him." Bruce's eyes grew sad. The abuse of
wealth and power had always bothered him. She'd seen him chase
down petty criminals every night, then come home disillusioned
because he couldn't bring the big money backing them to justice.
She felt the same way.

Dick said, "If he continued his experiments while working for
Xanatos, then it's possible some of his creations got loose and are
responsible for the murders."

"The F.B.I. Agents think that we're responsible somehow,"
said Selena.

"Then it's up to us to find the killer. Or killers." Bruce's jaw was
set in a determination she hadn't seen in years. As they began
mapping out a strategy, she wondered if this were a good thing.

VVVVV

Elisa held the stupid shoes in her hand as she climbed the
stairs to the clock tower. It had been a long night, longer even
than the nights she worked, for some reason. Seeing Demona, hell,
almost being killed by Demona, then having that strange encounter
with Diana, had put an unease in her heart. She'd picked up her
car at the hotel where Mulder and Scully were staying, but instead
of driving home, she'd come here, not really knowing why.

She heard Hudson's voice as she reached the top, and the
feeling slipped away to be replaced by the warm joy she'd grown
accustomed to more and more when she thought of the guys.

"'May this day be ... bless sed above all ... others the day
when you ... ceased to forget my ... exis ... exist ... '"

"'Existence,'" came Lexington's gentle prompting.

"'Existence and came here to tell me ... to tell me ...
Roxanne who has ... taken off her mask ... ' Bloody hell."

Elisa felt her face pull into a grin. She took the last few
steps up into the lighted room. "I didn't think that was in the
play." Hudson and Lexington looked up from their books.

"Hi Elisa," said Broadway, holding his own copy.

"Where are Goliath and Brooklyn?"

"Out on patrol," said Hudson. "We're breaking it into shifts
so that there aren't so many of us in the sky at once."

"Good idea. Fox and Dana will be going back to Washington on
Sunday. After that, there shouldn't be a problem."

Broadway looked confused. "Why is Fox going to Washington?"

"Not that Fox. Fox Mulder. One of the F.B.I. agents. He and
Matt have known each other forever."

"Oh. Okay." He went back to the book, trying to find his
place.

"What are you reading?"

"'Cyrano de Bergerac,'" said Hudson. "Goliath found it in the
library a few weeks ago."

"Are you reading or performing it?"

"A little of both," Lex said. "We're reading the parts out of
order." He looked up at her as if seeing her for the first time.
"You wanna read Roxanne's part?"

She stretched. She hadn't done drama since that play in the
second grade where the mice had to put a bell on the cat. She, of
course, had played the cat. "Sure. Could be fun. Where are you?"

Lex handed her the book. "Right here." He pointed.

She looked at the page, then read out loud: "'First let me thank you
for humbling that arrogant fop with your sword yesterday, because
he's the man whom a certain great lord ... '"

The two of them continued the scene, hindered only by Hudson's
occasional slips. In minutes, she slipped into the part, seeing in
her mind's eye the old gargoyle as a brilliant Gascon soldier with
an unfortunately large nose. The words played with them, and she
could half believe that they were the characters, and that the man
before her was waiting for her to say the one thing that could make
his world fill with light. Yet, she knew this particular play, knew
that Rostand had made a tragic comedy, and that Roxanne would
never know of Cyrano's love until he lay dying.

"'Tell him to write!'" she said. "'A hundred men! You'll
tell me about it some other time; I can't stay now. A hundred men!
What courage!'"

He bowed, on cue from the stage directions. "'Oh I've done
better since then.'"

Applause came from behind them, and Elisa turned her head.
Goliath and Brooklyn had returned from patrol, and were watching
from a short distance. Lexington was clapping and whistling and
Broadway had a large smile on his face. She turned back to Hudson.

"We're a hit. Maybe we should take it on the road."

"I don't think I could face all that reading." But he had on his cheeks
a color that in a younger gargoyle would have been called a blush.

"I could," said Broadway, a dreamy look on his face.

"Good," she responded. She handed him Lex's book and patted
him on the shoulder. "Next time, you play Roxanne."

"Bravo to both of you," said Goliath.

"Yeah," said Hudson, turned an even deeper shade. He thumbed
open to the last page of the book. "'But what the ... devil was he
... doing there. Filo ... filoso ... '"

"Philosopher," Goliath provided.

"'Philosopher ... scien tist ... poet ... suwards man ...
musician ... airiell trav ell er ... ' No wonder you like this
play; this lad sounds like you!"

Later, she would have sworn that Goliath glanced at her for the
briefest moment before Brooklyn said, "You kidding? With that
nose, he probably looked more like me." He patted his own long
beak.

Lexington added, "Okay, so you play Cyrano to Broadway's
Roxanne."

Elisa smiled. "I can see that." It felt good to be around them,
to listen to them. Mulder and Scully couldn't possibly understand
the guys; they'd probably want to lock them away like Xanatos
did. Then her face fell as she remembered the night's events. "I
don't suppose either of you spotted Demona on the prowl tonight?"

"No," said Goliath, obviously disturbed. "Why?"

"She showed up to the party."

"What?!" She had their undivided attention now.

"I think she wanted to do something to Fox and the baby. I'm not
sure what, but the potion she used dissolved solid rock." And
almost dissolved me, she thought. No use getting them more
worried.

"Was she in human form?" Goliath sounded almost fearful.

"Yeah. Unfortunately, she left at sunset. Via the roof."

"Did anyone see her transform?"

"Just me. The others were too far behind, and she was gone before
they saw anything. Now we have a missing body. They think she
may have gone through one of the secret passageways, and I hope
they keep thinking that."

Goliath looked skyward, as if perhaps to see her gliding above
them. His gaze fixed on a distant star. "If she's ever seen in
gargoyle form, they won't stop looking for us." She wondered what
he was feeling. Every night, it seemed more obvious to the rest of
them that only Demona's death would bring them safety, but that was
the one option Goliath refused to even contemplate. The pain of
her betrayal was the one ache that would not heal with the rising
of the sun, yet he had not the strength to kill the woman to whom
he'd sworn eternal love once upon a time.

Elisa wished again that his hurt would go away, as she said,
"They're only going to be here two more days. After that, we don't
have to worry anymore."

"About them. What about other humans who want to find us?"

"There won't be any others. Matt doesn't even really believe in you,
and he's seen you. Even Fox and Dana think they're looking for Batman."

"Fox Mulder," said Broadway helpfully. "Not Fox Xanatos."

"Then perhaps we should convince them that this 'Batman'
really exists. What do you know about him?"

VVVVV

"Come in." Scully opened the door carefully, then realized
the light was on.

"You couldn't sleep, either?"

"Every time I close my eyes, I keep seeing the woman running
around the corner with Elisa right after her. I can't see where
she goes next."

"I know," she said, parking herself in the chair by the bed.

"It's like she was transported out of midair."

"That's 'Star Trek,' Mulder. This is real life."

"Is it?" he asked darkly. "What about this life makes you
think it's any more real than what you see on t.v.?"

"Well, we're experiencing it, for one thing. I trust my eyes
and my ears and my reason."

"My eyes saw them both around the corner before my ears heard
her scream. My reason can't make heads or tails of it."

"Neither can mine," she admitted after a pause.

"Sunset. It all happened at sunset." He sat up. "How did
you do in your self-defense classes?"

"A. Why?"

"Because we need to go for a walk. This city has a night
life, and we're missing it."

"I'm not really in the mood to go looking for a club."

"How about a bat?" He began putting on his shoes.

VVVVV

Diana had been waiting for only a few minutes before she heard
his almost silent tread from the other side of the wall. One set
of footsteps. She whispered, "Is Jake asleep?"

"Yes," he whispered back. The walls of the culvert took their
words and reflected them into calm murmurs. "Do you have time to
come Below?"

"Yes." She heard a click, and the gate slid open on well-oiled
runners. He stood just beyond the opening, waiting for her
with the serene majesty of some ancient and awful demigod.

She stepped through and let him shut the gate again before
embracing him. Contentment crept into her slowly. She'd missed
him tonight. Joe was a wonderful man, sweet, funny, and very
handsome in his way, but being near him had never brought the
warmth that Vincent's presence could. The sound of his voice drove
away the cold for her, even in the depths of winter. After a long
time, they moved apart, only their hands remaining in light contact
as they headed down the familiar trail towards the Tunnels proper.
"Did you get the note from Elliot about the people from the F.B.I.?"

He nodded. "Kirsten hand delivered it."

"As it turns out, we spent most of the evening with them."

"Why?"

"They went to the party, too. I don't think they were invited; they
came with two cops I know." She remembered her brief talk with
Elisa. "Do you know of a Helper named Elisa Maza?"

He closed his eyes, searching his memory. "The name isn't
familiar, but I could ask Father. Her family might be one of the
older ones."

She shook her head. "Don't bother him with it. If she were,
you'd know it."

"Who is she?"

"She's a detective in my precinct. She brought the male
agent. She may also be the only witness to ... something."

He squeezed her hand comfortingly. "What happened?"

She sighed, wondering where to start. She explained the basics
quickly. When she got to the part about the disappearing body,
his eyes grew wide.

"It sounds like magic."

"Or science fiction. That's what bugs me. I have the feeling
that so much depends on Elisa and this woman, but I don't know
what. If Elisa's not a Helper, then she's protecting someone else
the same way a Helper does. And this woman, whoever she is, can
destroy that. But she won't."

"You're certain?"

"As certain as I am on anything. There is something very evil
about her, but there's also a great deal of pain. If I had to say
anything about her, I'd say she lost something and that she'd give
almost anything to have it back. She mentioned something to Fox
Xanatos about having as much luck with her mate as she had."

Something caught her. She hadn't said "husband;" she'd said
"mate." That was important for some reason.

"He's not dead," she whispered. "He's not dead, because she's
not grieving for him. She's grieving for herself, for losing him."
She was very far away now, barely feeling his arms settle on hers.
"And she hates Elisa. Why does she hate Elisa? Because she thinks
Elisa took him away from her. So Elisa knows who he is and where."
She met his eyes. "He's the one's she's protecting. That has to
be it. But why go after Fox Xanatos?"

"She could have just been a ruse to go after Elisa."

"With champagne? It doesn't make sense." She sighed. She
had seen it in her mind's eye for a brief clear moment, but it fled
her.

"Narcissa casts spells with water. If she believed that what she
did would work, and she could make the others believe that it
would work, then she could have used anything."

"A spell?" She managed a chuckle. "I can believe in a lot of
things. Magic isn't one of them. Next you'll be telling me that
fairies ride the subway."

"Why not? It's an excellent way to travel." She saw his
mouth turn to his best approximation of a smile. She'd ridden the
top of a subway car with him a total of one time. She'd held tight
to him as he'd latched on, and she'd seen little but his mane
flying in the wind and the moths that batted them in the face. The
next time the subject had come up, she'd chosen to ride inside.

"Maybe," she said. Her mind drifted, and thoughts of the
evening were placed on a mental shelf to be dealt with later.

"Would you care for some tea before you go back home?" His
smile had remained, and spoke of more than just a cup of something
hot and sweet. Jake would be sound asleep by this point, after
all.

"You read my mind."

VVVVV

Demona landed on top of the Empire State Building and folded
her wings around her against the cold evening air. Normally, which
was to say before Puck had cast his damned spell on her, the cold
didn't phase her in the least. Lately, though, she'd been aware of
being cold or hot or soaked, even at night. It bothered her; she
wondered, when she dared to allow herself even consider it, if she
were becoming more human. The thought disgusted her, but the
possibility was there, nonetheless.

Idly, she raked her claws on the stone, leaving gashes to
mystify anyone who came looking. She didn't care much. Let them
look. Let them see the gashes and wonder, like the people at
Xanatos' little soiree were wondering: what being was it that
walked among us and was gone?

She rather hoped that they thought she was dead now. That
human might even be put into prison for it. She smiled bitterly.
Let the clan visit her there.

She removed the heavy ring from her finger and inspected it
critically. The design had been popular centuries ago as a means
to rid oneself of one's adversaries. A little powder in the right
glass could work wonders. She doubted somehow that the original
owner of the ring had ever considered using it to cast a spell,
albeit a simple one. She could have done better with the Grimorum
on hand, but this one would have worked just as well. Assuming
Elisa hadn't been there, that is. She glowered.

At least it hadn't been a total loss. She was fairly certain that a few
drops of the potion had landed on the human. There would be no
way to tell at first, of course. This spell took a great deal of that
patience she was developing. It would have been interesting to see
work on Fox, she had to admit, but perhaps Elisa would provide an
even more satisfying subject.

It wasn't a difficult spell, really. Nor was the potion involved harmful
unless the words were chanted as it was thrown. It would have been
perfect, for who could trace a stillborn child to a few drops of spilled
champagne?

She wondered idly from whence the spell had first come. It wasn't out
of the Grimorum; she'd learned it from the healing-women of the
mountains, the ones who'd used earth magic to care for their
charges. She'd spared the life of one in exchange for such spells.
She had waited three centuries to use this particular one; she
could wait a little longer to see if it worked.

VVVVV

Fox lay staring into space. The party was finished; most
everything had been cleared away or put into a place it could stay
for the night. They had seen the guests out and away, had checked
the silver to see if anything was missing, had ordered all the
servants home. Even Owen, whose sleeping patterns (or lack
thereof) were legendary, had retired to his room, claiming fatigue.

David was snoring softly next to her, in a content slumber
brought by a long day. Not to mention a delightful session of
lovemaking, she thought cozily. By all rights, she should be
asleep too. So why couldn't she?

It was Demona, of course. Somehow, she'd found a way into
their home, plotting no one knew what. She didn't need to dream to
have visions of the enchanted potion striking her, causing her to
miscarry or worse. She knew there was worse, had seen it happen
once to a friend. She could see her own child being born at full
term, than carefully placed in her arms. She could see the
horrible, twisted limbs, the asymmetric face with a plaintive
little mouth opening and closing in mute agony, and she heard
Demona laughing in her ears.

She got out of bed. There was no way she could sleep with
thoughts like these. She slipped her robe on and crept out the
door as quietly as she could so as to not disturb David. She
wandered down the hallway, thinking of Katharine again, wondering
how well she had known the gargoyles, if she'd liked them, if she'd
feared them. She knew very little of the woman herself, merely a
few names and dates. She wasn't even certain if she'd had any
children. All she had were strange dreams of her, and of the man
who stood beside her calling her "My lady" in a gentle voice.

"Did you?" she asked the silent walls. "Did you find someone
to cherish? Or did Uncle Kenneth marry you off to some overweight
landowner who loved your money more than you? Did you even
protest? Did you run away from him to be your own woman for once,
to find the man you really loved? Or did you get locked up inside
some tower to do needlework? I need to know, Katharine."

Her thoughts turned briefly to her own father. He hadn't
shown, of course. She hadn't expected him to, but still, his
absence hurt a tiny bit more than she had thought it would. So
what if he didn't approve of David? The least he could do was come
for the announcement of his own future grand-something.

She found herself in the kitchen, now filled with the leftovers
from the party. She poked around in the fridge and dug out a gallon
of milk. She poured herself a generous glass, then put it back. She
needed more than milk, though. She nibbled at a piece of cheese
from one of the innumerable platters, then spotted a plate of cookies.
Owen left them in a strategic place for David to find during midnight
raids. He wouldn't mind if she took a few. She grabbed three, perched
on a stool at one of the counters, and ate her snack in a pool of moonlight.

VVVVV

Scully strolled arm in arm with her partner along Times Square. They
were keeping an eye out for anything suspicious, which was a harder
task than they'd first imagined. Everything looked questionable, from
the man across the street who was looking furtively at his watch then
at the sky over and again, to the two women walking similarly arm in
arm with a guide dog leading the way.

A young woman of perhaps eighteen or so passed them. She
actually made eye contact, which surprised her, and she noticed
that her eyes were the darkest she'd ever seen. The young woman
turned her head and spotted the man across the street. Her face
brightened, and she dashed across to hug the man. Then they both
stared at his watch.

Strange things happened at two o'clock in the morning, she
decided.

"The video was shot here," Mulder said, stopping and looking
around. He seemed disappointed.

"You were expecting gargoyles to be walking along the street
with us?"

"Not really. I was just hoping that maybe we could find a
reason for whoever it was to be here. Matt said there was some
kind of monster over by that fire hydrant, and then another one
came to stop it."

"Sounds like the Batman to me."

He didn't say anything, instead looking closer at the hydrant.
"Nothing unusual."

Scully looked around. It was just another city late at night, she
decided. Except for the number of XXX-rated movies available,
which she'd noticed Mulder eyeing, they could be in D.C.

"Care for a walk in the park?" he asked suddenly.

"Only if you have your gun on you."

"Done." They ambled towards the direction of Central Park,
Scully feeling more than vaguely ridiculous. She's heard about
Central Park after dark. It was rumored to be crawling with
muggers and various other lowlifes.

Then again, what better place could they have to find a serial
killer dressed up in a bat costume?

They walked as casually as possible into the park, keeping
careful watch for anything at all, including homicidal maniacs and
the like. It was amazingly quiet, and she realized that even
muggers probably needed sleep. They watched the sky, the trees,
the bushes, everywhere, as the stars kept watch and a lone cricket
chirped discontentedly in the cold darkness.

They were in the middle of the park when she felt a sharp tug
on her arm. Mulder pulled her around behind a tree and pressed his
hand over her mouth. "Shhh," he whispered. He leaned around the
tree, and once he removed his hand, she followed suit. He was
carefully watching a drainage culvert.

Oh boy, she thought. He's lost it. Then she saw movement.
Two figures stepped out of the culvert and into the moonlight. One
was tall, well over six feet, and shrouded in a dark cloak. The
other was much smaller, feminine in aspect, holding his hand. She
contained a gasp as she recognized her. It was the woman they had
seen first thing in the morning, now years ago, the same woman they
had met again at the party, teasing one of the wealthiest men in
the city, all the while looking so strongly of Mulder's sister to
make them both afraid. Diana Bennett, she thought.

The larger figure bowed to Diana and a cloud covered the moon.
When her eyes had adjusted to the light level, both were gone.

"What the hell was that?" she asked, wondering as she said it
if she really wanted the answer.

"I'm not sure, but I'd be willing to bet we just found our
Batman."

VVVVV
Chapter 7: Suspicions

Bruce adjusted his suit one final time. It had been nearly a
year since he'd last worn it, and it felt odd on his frame. Maybe
he'd been hitting the cookies too hard lately. Maybe he was just
getting too old for this. Then it modified itself slightly as he
moved, and fitted smoothly to his body as it always had.

"Bruce?" Selena was behind him. He turned. She was in her
pajamas, and looked frightened. She'd probably woken up minutes
before. "I thought I'd find you here." On second thought, she had
the look of someone who'd tried to sleep for hours but had failed.

He stopped himself from putting his arms around her to
reassure her, and instead fiddled with his utility belt. "I have
to go out on patrol tonight. I have to find out who's committing
these murders. Otherwise, they'll come with more questions."

"Then let me come with you." She was almost pleading.

"You can't. You know why."

"What will a little harmless dressing up do? You know I can
stay out of trouble when I try." She placed her palms against his
shoulders. He took her hands as tenderly as he could and held them
against his chest.

"Please just stay here for now. I'd feel safer."

"I wouldn't. You haven't been out Batting in ages. A lot of
the mythos has worn off in your absence."

"And a lot more has developed. I just need to find out what's
going on. I'll be home soon."

"Will you?" she asked. "Or will he?" She turned and walked
out of the cave before he could ask her what she meant.

With a curious mix of sadness and almost-forgotten joy, he
leapt into the Batmobile and started the engine. Like a restless
lion, it purred beneath his touch. This was what he had lost when
he'd chosen to give up his double life: this power, this freedom.

Just one more night, he thought as he pulled out. Just one
more night of living by my wits, of guarding my city, of being at
one with the night. Just let me have it this once, and I'll give
it up forever for her. I swear.

VVVVV

Mulder cursed. There was nothing in the culvert but, well,
culvert. There was nothing to indicate that anything more ordinary
than drainage had ever taken place there.

"Maybe they just came here to make out," Scully suggested.

"It's now three a.m. and we're in a drain pipe in the middle
of Central Park. Would you come here to make out?"

"Not if I had a choice, no. But if I were also dating the
District Attorney of Manhattan, I'd probably want to cover my
tracks pretty well."

"I don't get it. Why come here to have an affair, unless it's
with someone she can't trust with anyone else?" He slammed his
fist against the wall. "Nothing about this case makes any sense!"

She yawned. "It's late. Why don't we go back to the hotel
and come at this fresh in the morning? Maybe by then we'll have
had a brilliant insight."

"Maybe," he said, but he allowed her to take his arm and lead
him out of the park. The walk back to the hotel was silent. It
was not until he was in his own room that he allowed himself to
think about what had transpired through the night and try to see a
pattern. So far, the only pattern he could discern was that
beautiful redheads in New York were trouble. Of course, that
didn't include his date for the evening, who was also trouble if in
a different way. His mind returned to the image he'd had earlier
in the evening, of the human moths with giant wings, hurtling
themselves towards self-immolation and immortality, whether it be
against the giant neon Coke sign in Times Square, or just a bare
windowpane.

After forever, he slept.

VVVVV

Someone was knocking.

"Yes?" she said, blearily. The knocking came again, and Scully
woke up enough to realize it wasn't coming from her door but her
window. She sat up. There was a large shadow at her window.
She reached to her nightstand, where her gun was safely stored.
She grabbed it, then carefully approached the window.

There was a man dressed up as a bat staring at her.

She thought briefly that she might still be dreaming, then
dismissed the idea; her dreams were never this weird. She undid
the lock and held her gun trained on his as he opened the pane
enough to let himself inside.

"You won't need that. I won't hurt you."

"I've heard that one before. Are you Batman?"

He nodded. "I need to talk with you, Agent Scully."

"How do you know my name?"

"I know a lot of things. I'll share them with you if you'll
put the gun down."

"Forget it."

"Suit yourself." He took a seat in her chair. He didn't look half so
menacing sitting down. In fact, he looked weary, as though it had
taken him great effort to get there.

"What do you want?"

"First and foremost, I want you to believe that neither I nor
Catwoman had anything to do with the murders you're investigating."

"I'm supposed to tale your word on this?"

"It's the only one I have."

"Do you know who is responsible?"

"No, but I have some theories I'm working on. I'll let you know if
I come up with anything."

"Why can't you tell me now?"

"It would seem far-fetched."

"You obviously haven't met my partner. Try me."

"Let's just say that sometimes genetic experiments work out in
unforseen ways."

"Yours?"

"No!" He looked horrified by the idea. "I'm checking some
leads right now. That's all I can say."

"Are you involved with the Illuminati?" she asked.

"No, but I know about them. They've been around a long time.
You and your partner won't bring them down. I've tried. I don't
suppose it matters much now."

Scully sat in mute disbelief. If this man could be trusted, one of
Mulder's most cherished theories might actually be proven
correct. If not, well, she had trusted worse people. At one
point, she'd even trusted Krycek. She lowered her gun.

Dozens of questions raced through her mind. She should get
Mulder. He had a doctorate in psychology; he'd know what to ask
this obviously disturbed man. Or perhaps he wasn't so disturbed
anymore.

"Why did you quit? Everyone we've asked had nothing but
praise for you."

"Even Bullock?"

"Except for Bullock." They shared a smile.

He said, "I'm getting old. I can't jump as high or run as
fast as I used to. About a year ago, I realized there was more to
life than just catching criminals. This suit doesn't go with a
family."

She nodded slowly. She could understand that all too well.

"I stopped because I wanted a normal life. Is that too much
to ask? All I want is to be left alone."

She saw his point, but there was a hole in it. "Then why are
you helping us?"

He raised his head. "Because despite what I want, I'm still needed
here. Someone is murdering people in my city, and I intend
to find out who."

"All right," she said, deciding quickly. "Let me get my partner.
He'll want to be in on this." She made towards the door, but
found her path blocked.

"We don't have the time for a chat. We need to find out who's
been killing these people before anyone else dies."

"You said you had information for me."

"Some. Look into the background of a Dr. Anton Sevarius.
Then look up his last boss."

She nodded, and turned to the desk to write down the name.
"How do you spell that?"

No response. She turned back to him, but there was no one
there. The curtains moved in the slight breeze of the night air,
and when she went to the window, all she could see was the moon
keeping a lonely vigil.

VVVVV

Elliot set the phone carefully back into its cradle. There
was no answer at Diana's loft, which could mean that she'd gone
Below, or that she was on her roof where she couldn't hear the
phone, or that she'd been murdered in her sleep. Any of the
options were possible, and it worried him.

He'd tried to sleep for a while, but soon realized that his
restlessness would only disturb Joy all night. He'd been puttering
around with blueprints for the last few hours, fixing the slant of
this sub-roof, doing some calculations for the room spacing of that
floor. The work usually filled him with peace. He was doing what
he loved, what he did best. He was forming a dream-shape from his
mind and giving it a concrete and steel birth. If only he could
concentrate.

Instead of visualizing the building to be, he was caught in a
half-memory. He hadn't seen the woman's fall from the rooftop, but
Diana had described it to him in detail. The whole idea made him
uneasy. She'd been backed against a wall, and she'd just jumped.
No questions, no bargaining, merely silence before a scream.

And the rush of wings.

He'd never been the kind to believe in fairy tales. Reality was more
than weird enough for his tastes. When things had started falling
apart six years before, he hadn't imagined that it had been on the
scale it was. It had taken Cleon Manning to point out to him
pointedly that there were forces bigger than they could fight working
against him. And then those forces had killed Manning. To make a point.

The ache touched him again. He'd lost Cathy, then Cleon, then
very nearly his own life. The last had been his own fault. He'd
betrayed Vincent's faith in him, when he'd known that he was the
man's only hope. He had realized that almost too late. He could
recall those moments as if they had been seared for all time across
his eyes to mock him: Vincent's simple words of trust, his own
sudden realization of what the truth was, the sound of a gun's
safety being clicked off, and the split second when he knew that
there was someone whose life meant more than his own.

He moved his chair to the window. The sun was slowly edging
its way over the bit of horizon he could see. He'd watched the
sunrise that first morning in a cloud of agony, certain he was
going to die. The bullet had gone through his chest and down,
shattering his spinal column. He'd been told that weeks later,
long after everything was over. At first, he'd wished that he
had died, that he could have had a noble end instead of being
bound as he was.

Then Diana had introduced him to her sister, who was a nurse.
She'd been a miracle named Joy, and she'd reminded him of what it
was to be alive. It had been at sunrise over a year later, the
morning she'd told him they were going to be parents, that he had
finally thanked whatever power had taken his legs and given him
back his soul.

If such people as Joy and E.J. and Diana and Vincent could
exist in this odd world, then he could believe in angels falling
from the sky, only to catch themselves on bruised wings one more
time.

He just wished he knew what Diana was doing at the moment.
He'd been trying to call her half the night. They needed to plant
a few more seeds of the Illuminati in the minds of the F.B.I.
agents, but that wasn't the reason he was calling her now. He
hadn't been able to sleep for thoughts of her. She had become in
many ways the closest thing he'd ever had to a sister, and more
than that, a friend. He'd had none of the former, and far too few
of the latter. Lately, though, his mind whispered to him that
something was going to happen to her, that she was going to go away
like Cathy had and never come back. When he had those waking
dreams, he needed to hear her voice. He couldn't afford to lose
any more friends.

VVVVV

"Thank you again for your time," said Mulder as the door
closed. He checked Robbins' name off his list. It was truly
amazing; in Matt's supposedly sterling list of witnesses to
arguably the most important night in the city's history, only three
had actually seen or heard anything out of the normal weirdness of
daily life.

This latest witness had heard something strange on the
television early in the day, but had thought nothing of it. Of the
other two, one had seen the same program Robbins had described, and
the other had recalled a brilliant flash in the sky just before the
city had come back to life.

Other than the apparition on the television, which the other
witness had assumed was merely a new science fiction show of some
sort, no one had seen anything resembling a demon or an alien. All
the other descriptions of the evening's events were just barely
outside of the normal sphere of events that even Mulder felt
compelled to disregard them as just more evidence that putting a
large number of people in a small enough space could make them do
bizarre things.

Like dress up as a bat, he thought. Scully had wakened him at
three-thirty that morning to tell him the Batman had visited her
room. They'd spent the rest of the night calling up everything
they could discover about Anton Sevarius, and they had found
enough.

Genetic experiments. Unauthorized tests. Even the government
had fired the creep. Officially, he'd gone to work for a company
called Gen-U-Tech. Unofficially, Mulder was willing to bet he
still worked for the government, only in a much quieter capacity.
Or at least, that he had worked for them before that unfortunate
"accident."

Mulder had not been in the least surprised by the discovery that
Gen-U-Tech was owned by David Xanatos. It was simply one of
those days.

He thought back to the party for the thousandth time, trying to think
how it was all connected. Over fifty murders of a similar pattern,
all on people who for various reasons, couldn't be arrested. A secret
society with links all over the world. A geneticist with a thing for
experimenting on humans with cat DNA. A woman jumps to her
death, leaving no body. A man dressed like a bat to protect the city
from crime. And hazy photographs of things that could be gargoyles.
All related to Xanatos' party.

But Sevarius had also experimented on bats. What if his experiments
had succeeded? A woman who could fly would have no fear of
falling, and might be mistaken for a gargoyle. She might also hold
a big grudge against the man who supposedly funded the project, not
realizing that the Illuminati had pulled the strings all along. And she'd
still be alive.

Alive. Oh damn. On the rooftop, there had been four people
unsurprised by the lack of a cadaver. Burnett had said that he
would've given them the name "that she's hiding under." Present
tense. Why? Because he knew she hadn't been killed at all.

That was it! If he could find her, he would have the killer, the project,
and the Illuminati all in one. The only problem was figuring out where
she'd be.

He hoped Scully was having better luck.

VVVVV

Scully looked around the empty lab and hoped that Mulder was
having better luck than she was. Whatever evidence she might have
found in Sevarius' lab had long ago been examined by the police or
destroyed by the company. The lab itself was still being used for
basic genetic research; a tiger lounged behind an unbreakable glass
wall, while some almost harmless-looking fish swam mindlessly to
and fro in a tank on one wall. However, all traces of Sevarius'
particular research had been eradicated from the room.

She berated herself. What had she been expecting? Giant
winged monsters, perhaps, with cat heads and human souls? She
attempted to conjure up a proper mental image, but could only see
again the fuzzy shapes in Matt's video clip. Besides, it wasn't as
if they would have let her in if there had actually been anything
left to find.

Her inquiries that morning had been almost as useless. Matt's
list had simply not panned out the way he'd claimed. She supposed
she should have expected it; working with Mulder had inured her to
getting leads that were no more than pipe dreams.

She noticed a smaller cage in one corner of the room, and out
of curiosity, checked to see what was inside. A part of her was
still perversely hoping for some genetic creation of a dream or
nightmare.

Instead of a monstrous mutation from the pits of hell, she saw
two very ordinary white lab mice. One was long and thin, the other
squat with an oversized head. She smiled at them, trying to brush
off the feeling that they were staring at her. Mice didn't stare.

She sighed. There was nothing here. If she was going to
discover anything, she was going to have to speak with Xanatos
himself. She turned off the light and closed the door behind her.

A sound very much like "Narf" could have been heard from the
corner, had anyone been there to listen.

VVVVV

Diana leaned over the edge of her roof gazing down to the
street below. From her vantage point, the people scurrying along
were barely the size of large insects. She held a pebble in her
hand, testing its weight with her touch. 32.1 feet per second
squared, she thought, assuming no drag. She'd gone through her old
college physics book to make certain of the acceleration, and she'd
looked up the equation relating distance to acceleration to time.
A pebble dropped from the top of her own building would take a
little over two seconds to impact with the ground. That same
pebble dropped from the top of Xanatos' tower would take quite a
bit more time, certainly not a full minute, but enough time for
something to happen.

Something, she thought wearily. The attempt to determine that
elusive something had kept her up the rest of the night after
leaving Vincent. The woman had had several seconds of drop time to
do something and she'd known it. She'd planned on it. Why?

Why would someone crash a party to throw her drink on her
hostess and jump off a skyscraper? It was a horribly melodramatic
ploy for attention, something she'd expect out of a soap opera, or
a gothic novel. Of the partygoers she'd overheard, most were
speculating that she'd had a thing with Xanatos at one point and
that he'd dropped her. A few had mentioned in much quieter
whispers that Elisa Maza had been seen a great deal around the
castle in the past year, and that maybe she had been the one for
whom the woman had been dumped, and not Fox. If the rumor grew, it
might even turn into a proper scandal in the upper echelons of New
York society.

Diana felt the pebble's slight weight. If she dropped it to the rooftop,
it would barely make a click as it touched down. If she dropped it
off her building, she might hurt someone. If she dropped it from
the Eyrie Building, she'd kill the person below. She closed her palm.

That's what she had intended, at least in part. She wanted to start a
scandal to hit Xanatos where it might actually touch him, make him
feel the hurt. By implicating Elisa, she could bring down the detective
with him. She might even start hints of a murder and a coverup by the
two of them, and that would serve her purposes just fine.

Diana dropped the stone, then caught it just before it hit the
roof. She would have found a way to not have fallen. She would
have wanted to see her handiwork, and death would prevent that, for
obvious reasons. The woman was still alive and gloating.

In her mind, she was again in the airy place she'd seen the
night before in Elisa's eyes. Flight, she thought. They can fly.
That's the secret. She dropped the pebble without even noticing
it. That's why she knew that she could jump and would be safe,
because she's one of them, whatever they are. Elisa knows it.

Her thoughts raced to the moment frozen in time when she'd
stood at the top of the castle, looking down. Elisa hadn't said
that she'd died. She'd said, "She's gone," and that the sun had
set. Three other people on the castle roof had understood
precisely what she had meant.

VVVVV

Selena sat back from the terminal and yawned. She'd been there
since Bruce had left, and she'd found a number of things both
interesting and disturbing. Yes, Gen-U-Tech was owned by Xanatos.
Yes, he had been present at the accident that had killed Sevarius.
No, the body was not available, as it had been cremated as per the
wishes of the deceased. Yes, Gen-U-Tech had been investigated
recently for reported mistreatment of animals. That last part had
made her blood boil.

Dick had stayed home from the office to help with the search,
and between them, they'd managed to get at some of the less secure
files from the corporation. What they had discovered had been
appalling. There were expenditures in the tens of thousands for
guards and weapons. It was as if Sevarius had been funding his own
private army, but to protect what they could not even speculate.
Unless ...

His ultimate goal had been to create the perfect mixture of
human intelligence and the finest qualities he saw in animals,
including flight and feline grace and instinct. He'd need an
army to stop one of his creations, were it to get loose.

She shuddered involuntarily. Once, she'd been transformed to
a madman's idea of perfection. She hadn't been given wings, but
she'd been turned into a humanoid cat. If Sevarius had even
thought of doing that to someone else ...

The pain in her palms convinced her to release her fists, and
she noted the bloodstains on her nails. 'Not all the perfumes of
Arabia can sweeten this little hand,' she thought, and grimaced.

A purring sound and pressure at her feet brought her attention
level down to the floor. Isis was politely demanding attention.
She reached down and pulled the cat into her lap, then smoothed the
silky black fur as her legs were kneaded for comfort. Then the
weight settled on her and batted idly at her hand as if to remind
her about the petting.

"Get tired of chasing mice that aren't there, sweetheart?" She ran
her nails down the cat's back and was rewarded with a delighted
stiffening of tail. Truth be told, Isis would probably run from a
mouse if she saw one now. Alfred had taken to giving her scraps
of meat every day in addition to her regular food. It wasn't good
for her, but she had a way of asking that he simply couldn't resist.
Selena felt her ribs, noticing how much padding had been added
since they'd moved into Wayne Manor. Isis was growing soft, and
a little lazy.

She took a sip of the tea Alfred had brought her. It was no
longer hot, but it was still sweet, just as she liked it. She'd also
grown contented beneath his and Bruce's care, until the cat inside
had supposedly curled up and gone to sleep. It was fortunate for
her, since she was forbidden to wear her cat suit; she'd be put into
prison, and she'd lose Bruce's trust forever.

But these were animals being hurt, and people as well, and she
couldn't allow that to continue when she knew exactly where to find
the man responsible, if not for the project, at least the funding
behind it. David Xanatos.

VVVVV

This was going to be ridiculously easy, thought Elisa, as she
sat down on her bed. She laughed, then felt mean for having
laughed. A few questions here, an old newspaper article there, and
they had the keys for making a very lifelike Batman appear in front
of Fox and Dana. Finding the floodlight in the storage room had
been a wild piece of luck. Everyone knew that the Batman would
appear when summoned by the sign he'd given Commissioner Gordon.
And if he didn't appear, well, there were five Gargoyles who were
prepared to make certain the F.B.I. agents think that he had.

The hard part, for her, had been raiding Derek's closets
looking for dark clothing to work the illusion. Of course she had
the key to his place, just as he did for hers, but she'd never
thought that she'd have to use it to take his clothes.

Not that he'd ever wear them again.

With a firm effort, she stopped herself from crying. Tears
wouldn't do either of them any good. She couldn't save him from
what he had become, but maybe if she could protect her other
friends a little while longer, they could find a way to help him
come home. If that involved getting thousand-year-old stone
statues to dress up in her brother's dark sweaters and go flying
around town in ski masks, then that was what she was going to do.

She needed to get some sleep; tonight was going to be very
busy. She changed quickly, pulled the shades down tight to block
the sun, and slipped into her awaiting covers.

She closed her eyes and let herself dream.

VVVVV

Something in her shoulderblades itched, and no matter how she
twisted, turned or slid, Fox couldn't get rid of the feeling.
There were spiders under her skin, crawling around searching for
something. She'd never considered herself particularly prone to
psychic flashes, but there were rare times when she just knew
things that she shouldn't. Now was one of those times.

Something big was coming, and quickly. She didn't know who or
what; merely that something touching her life was about to change,
perhaps dramatically. Something she cherished was in danger.

She placed a protective hand over her abdomen. Demona's
attempted spell hadn't touched her, but there were a thousand
things that could go wrong before the kid was even born. Magic was
just one more complication.

No, she decided. For the time being, the baby was safe. It
was something else, close to her but far enough to be concealed.

She hated feelings like this.

She hit the punching bag one more time for good measure,
letting the impact soothe her nerves. Yes, that was it. She just
hadn't gotten enough of a workout these past few days and it was
building up as nervous energy. All she needed were a few rounds
with an Evil Ninja or five and she'd be back in form and ready for
action.

The thought brought a grin to her face, as she considered trying to
kick Evil Ninja butt in her ninth month. She probably would be
able to do it, too. She twisted and gave the bag a side kick, knocking
it off the ceiling. She frowned. A year ago, she could have kicked it
into the next room.

Getting soft, she thought. The itchy feeling was still there, but she
could ignore it now and concentrate on getting her kicks right. Almost.

There was a flash out of the corner of her eye. Demona!

She spun, already in a fighting stance. And saw nothing. She
relaxed minutely. Her mind was playing tricks on her, dirty ones.
Again. When she'd finally fallen asleep after almost two hours of
reading, she'd dreamt of the party. In her dream, Elisa had been
a step too slow, and Owen too far away to help. The potion had
landed on her face, and she'd felt the skin peeling away as her
baby wailed from inside her. She'd woken up crying and it had taken
David nearly an hour to convince her that it was only a nightmare.

Whatever she'd just seen was merely a product of too little
sleep and her overworked imagination, she reasoned with herself.
No one was here but she.

She sighed and turned back around. There was someone standing
in the doorway, and her body went into attack mode, which stopped
milliseconds later when she realized it was only Owen. Of course
it was Owen. Why wouldn't it have been Owen? Yet, when she'd
seen him, her mind had provided another name first.

"How long have you been there?"

"Five seconds." Yep. It was Owen. "Agent Scully is here to see
you." Her mind went blank. Scully? "From the F.B.I. She was
at the party last night." She ran through a list of faces until she
came up with one. Oh yes. She'd been on the roof when Demona
had taken her swan dive.

"Thanks. I'll be there in a minute." He nodded and went out. She
grabbed a towel and dried the sweat she had worked up from her,
leaving her skin clammy. That was the one thing she disliked about
living in a castle; she was rarely warm enough. Yet another thing
they'd have to work on before the baby arrived, she thought as she
left the gym/dojo. That and a name.

A shadow against the far wall moved briefly and was still
again, but she didn't see it.

VVVVV
Chapter 8: Disclosures

Selena let a long breath out. She was certain Fox had spotted
her. Getting caught right now would be the worst thing she could
imagine happening. She'd lose everything she held dear. Almost.
She'd have finally regained that piece of herself that she'd been
denying since her arrest. She hoped it would be worth it.

She slipped through the shadows, out the door, and into a
crossways --- where to go? She chose the less lighted passage,
reasoning that there was less of a chance to run into anyone before
she found what she needed.

She wasn't quite sure what that was, though.

Barbara had located a reference to the castle from an architectural
magazine the year before, and it had included a very basic layout
of the whole thing. She'd brought a copy, but it only told her what
sized rooms she would find, not for what they were used. It wasn't
as if the doors would be labeled "Master Bathroom" and "Top Secret
Genetics Laboratory" anyway.

She heard voices and went flat against the wall. Wherever she
was, it was the wrong place.

"I'm afraid I don't know her name," Fox was saying to someone.
"Everything happened so fast."

"But you recognized her," said another female voice. Selena
couldn't place it. "When she wished you the same luck with your
husband that she had, you insinuated that she'd lost hers."

"I was guessing. What was I supposed to say?"

"She also talked about going over old times."

"Then she jumped off the roof. I don't know why she did that,
either."

"The woman tried to kill you. I'd think you would at least
want us to find her."

"Then go scrape the sidewalk. She's not in here. I can
guarantee you that."

"One more question: if you don't know her, and your husband
either didn't know her or if he did, he obviously didn't want her
there, how did she get in with all the security?"

There was a pause, and Selena imagined Fox glancing
significantly at Burnett as she said, "I'm wondering about that
myself."

Selena sighed. Fox wasn't going to tell anything; she had no
reason to listen. She moved back down the hallway and took a
different turn. This part of the castle had been refurbished
recently, she noticed. She passed an open doorway and peered in,
only to find what appeared to be the Master Bedroom. Bingo.

She went first to the bed, as it defined the room: large, four
postered, done in red crepe. Gorgeous, she thought, but overdone.
However, she wasn't here to admire the decor. She looked over the
nightstands critically, then went to the one closer to the window.
There was a book with the dust jacket marking a page, and she
carefully turned it over: "The Kings of Scotland." She opened to
the marked page, which was the end of a chapter. The next chapter
was on King Duncan, but the reader hadn't gotten that far yet. She
closed the book.

Next, she opened the top drawer of the stand. There were a
few more books, most on philosophy, a notebook, and a small black
velvet bag tucked discretely in the corner. In it, she found a
tiny antique gold charm in the shape of a fairy. The notebook
looked new. She opened to a page and read a few cryptic notes:
"11-9-95. K again w/ Him, bth in N. twr, reading. 11-10-95.
Home. Running up the hill to house. Fire everywhere. Mom." This
was either bad poetry or a dream notebook. She placed it back
where it belonged.

The bottom drawer slid open easily, and Selena needed only a
glance to realize there were a lot of things about this particular
couple she would be just as happy not knowing. Nutella??? She
risked another peek, wondering if Bruce would ... She closed the
drawer quickly. Anyway ...

She inspected the other bedside stand. Other than an alarm clock
and a lamp, the surface was bare. She opened the top drawer,
and found a short stack of papers. Account forms. She flipped
through them, only to find routine expenses. Mostly. One sheet
mentioned a large statue, dated just a few weeks before. But she
couldn't get a man arrested for having a statue carved.

She checked the bottom drawer, not really expecting anything.
She found another notebook, much like the other one, and sighed.
Idly, she opened it to the last page written on. There was a half-
finished letter, dated the day before, and intended for one or the
other's father. Selena read it over quickly, and her eyes grew
wide at the last part written: "You do remember the Maid of Honor,
I believe. It seems she now has a human side to her. She showed
up and almost ruined the whole thing."

There was no more to it thus far, but now she had a lead. She
put the notebook back carefully and set everything to look as it
had when she'd come in.

She heard footsteps and instinctively dove under the bed. She
watched a woman's bare feet come into view and tried not to breathe
too loudly. It had to be Fox. She saw the feet move closer, then
stop. The bed lowered, and Selena crouched beneath the weight.
Fox shifted around on it, then got up. Selena peeked out just
enough to see the feet go back out the door. After a minute, she
got out from under the bed and glanced at the nightstands. The
book on Scottish kings was gone.

Her luck was going to run out soon, she realized. She checked
the window to see if it opened. It did. She slipped out and
closed it behind her, then began the laborious process of climbing
down.

"Psst." She nearly lost her handhold. She looked up to see
a face in a mask above her.

"Please don't do that when I'm on the side of a building."

Barbara smiled. "I thought you were prepared for anything."

"You thought wrong. Did you get it?"

Barbara slid down the cable to an even level, then patted a
pocket of her cape. "One guest list on film. What did you find
out?"

"Only that Bachelorette Number One was the Maid of Honor at
their wedding."

"Fascinating. Maybe that'll help the cross-referencing."

Together, they crept down the castle wall.

VVVVV

In odd parallel to the night before, Burnett met her in the lobby, where
she waited in less than perfect patience beside the front desk Diana
showed him her badge.

"Detective Bennett, N.Y.P.D. I need to speak with Mr. and
Mrs. Xanatos."

"I'm afraid now is not a good time. Mr. Xanatos is unavailable,
and Mrs. Xanatos is feeling under the weather." His mouth turned,
and Diana had the strangest impression that the man considered
the impending arrival a personal affront of some sort.

"I don't care if it's not a good time. I'm investigating a
homicide."

"If you are referring to the events last evening, Agents Scully and
Mulder of the F.B.I. have already interviewed Mr. and Mrs. Xanatos."

Damn. There went her cover story. She looked past him for a
moment, trying to think. Then her other sense went haywire.

She'd been among a large crowd the evening before, and the
sensations she'd picked up on had been more from the castle itself.
However, the castle was far above them, and he was the only person
around, and she was suddenly drowning.

Everything about him was wrong, from the way he blinked his
eyes to the tilt of his head to the half-accent of his voice. He
reminded her suddenly and strongly of someone, but she couldn't say
why or even who, only that she was getting very strange feelings
from him. He was more and less than human, and the otherness
scared her deeply.

"Thank you," she mumbled, and turned blindly towards the glass
doors, her mind on fire. He returned to the elevator without a word
and she was alone with her imagination. Alone, her mind whispered,
he is totally, utterly alone. That's what you're sensing. He is more
alone than anyone you've ever met, save perhaps one, alone and
terrible in what he believes himself to be. Her mind reeled with
implications, and she felt the world spinning.

She leaned against the wall of the building, wondering what
was happening to her.

VVVVV

Scully watched Bennett from a short distance, wondering. She had seen
the other woman through the glass front of the building, speaking with
Burnett for a minute. She had stumbled out, then wandered down
the block a few paces, looking distinctly ill. What had Burnett
told her?

Bennett was involved with this, whatever it was. She was
certain of it. She'd seen her talking with Maza at the party, and
now she was showing up at Xanatos' doorstep. Add to that a very
tall boyfriend in a cloak that could be taken for wings, and one
might go in some intriguing ways.

There was no way Sevarius' project could have worked. Genius
or not, the technology simply wasn't available to create human-
animal hybrids on the level suspected by Mulder and Batman. The
hybrids weren't necessarily the murderers, anyway. The first
killing had taken place in the 70's.

What if the Illuminati were involved? She allowed herself
to speculate for a moment. Assuming the society existed, they
could have funded all the killings by a single hitman, and made it
look like an animal. But suppose their hitman got tired, as Batman
was growing tired? What if he'd met Bennett and realized that he
wanted more from life than killing? They'd need a new hired gun,
someone to perpetuate the myth. They might even be secretly
backing Xanatos to pay for Sevarius' work. If the strange woman
had been the wife of the hitman, she could blame Xanatos as part of
the reason her husband had left her. The mysterious night that no
one could remember might even be from an experiment gone awry.

She shook her head. This was nonsense. There were no secret
societies or gargoyle-creatures. Sevarius was dead, and a woman
was missing, and Bennett was just seeing someone behind Maxwell's
back. And a man in a bat costume was having a midlife crisis.

"I hate this city," she muttered under her breath.

She crossed the street back to where Bennett was leaning
against the wall. "Are you feeling all right?"

"No, but thanks." She smiled up at her. "Agent Scully,
right?"

She nodded. "Detective Bennett, I presume?" A return nod.
"We keep running into each other."

"In this case, it's a good thing." She pulled herself upright.
"I'm investigating what happened last night. Burnett said that
you've already talked to Mr. and Mrs. X."

"Just with her. He wasn't available."

"Did she tell you anything useful?"

Scully shook her head. "She claims that she doesn't know who the
woman was, or why she said what she did or even why she jumped
off the building."

"She's lying." Scully shot her a patented I-Knew-That-I'm-Not-An-
Idiot look. She watched the other woman's face carefully. The only
thing she read was weariness. She hadn't slept the night before either,
it appeared.

"What do you think happened?" asked Scully, suddenly curious.

"I don't know." She shrugged. "Sometimes I get impressions of what
might be going on, but for now, nothing." Now you're the one who's
lying, thought Scully.

"Do you want to get a cab together? You look awfully pale."

She smiled. "That actually sounds like a very good idea." Maybe she
could get something out of her on the ride back to the hotel. It never
hurt to try.

VVVVV

He watched them carefully from a third story window. He couldn't make
out the words, of course, and that only made him more concerned. Events
were closing in around him too quickly, and he hated that. He didn't have
time to plan things out properly, merely to act on instinct, which had gotten
him into this mess in the first place.

If only Demona hadn't shown up the night before, things would
have been so much simpler. The F.B.I. agents would have looked
around, made notes, found nothing, and gone back to Washington with
no more real information than whenthey'd come. Oh, they would have
heard carefully-planted stories about the Batman, seen a few traces
of the gargoyles here and there, even suspected the existence of
the Illuminati, but they'd have nothing more than clouds to chase.

Then that she-devil had come, with her jealousy and her spells
and her millennium-old hatred, and nearly ruined everything. What
had she been thinking with her little stunt at sunset? Had she
wanted to be discovered? It had been insane, and therefore
perhaps perfectly keeping in character for her, but he'd thought
her more intelligent than that. Then again, perhaps she was. The
whole thing reflected badly on them all, and could lead to some
socially inconvenient speculations. It had also opened up the
agents to the possibility of the other gargoyles, which could
result in their capture. That would go distinctly against the
plans he had for them.

The worst part was how the event had brought everyone in such
close proximity. The party itself would have only made for more
confusion on the parts of the agents, but now it appeared that it
had also allowed them to make powerful friends. Agent Scully might
as well have said that she knew about Sevarius, though probably not
nearly as much as she thought. He'd listened to her from another
room, utilizing the video hookup. Fox probably wouldn't be pleased
to know that, but then again, he had no intention of telling her.

Now it appeared that Agent Scully was becoming friendly with
Detective Bennett, another loose thread really needing tying. Or
snipping. Detective Maza wouldn't be a problem; she had her own
secrets to keep, which for once, coincided with theirs. Bennett
had similar secrets, and would be as loathe to part with them, but
what she might let slip on things she only guessed about bothered
him. She knew a large number of things she shouldn't, but he
hadn't wanted her killed yet. She was far too useful to him alive
and unknowingly working on one of his projects.

The question was, of the projects, which one could he afford
to sacrifice?

VVVVV

Mulder looked at the stylized "M" on the gate and sighed. This was
crazy. He'd only barely seen where the car had turned the day before.
She could be in any of these houses. But she wasn't. This was the
place the limo had turned, carrying a woman with eyes that could
never be mistaken for human. If she were alive, she'd be here, or she'd
have left some clue here as to where she'd gone. Breaking and entering
would look terrible on his record, but he needed in that house.

Batman's nocturnal visit had raised too many questions for him. Why
did he feel the need to do what he did every night, and why had he
stopped? Mulder would have given his teeth to have been there. He'd
spoken of growing older, of wanting a family. Now, someone could be
framing him for murder, possibly even his former employer, whoever that
was.

David Xanatos could have funded Batman. Diana Bennett appeared to
be dating Batman. If abovesaid Batman had broken up with Catwoman
aka Selena Kyle, he might also have dumped another girlfriend who
didn't have a billionaire boyfriend to help her pick up the pieces. In
fact, the Batman could be the mate of whom the woman had spoken. It
was as plausible a theory as any he'd heard thus far, and only had one
problem: where did Elisa fit in?

He wasn't sure he wanted to know the answer to the last question.
Everything was so close to making sense, and he knew that it would
come together if he could get into this mansion.

The gate was tightly locked, but there had to be a way in, or the woman
would not have had a way out. He checked for an electronic release,
and found one. Great. Now he just needed to find the code, which
could be one of a billion, and he'd be inside. This wasn't working well.

At least the street was empty. Rich people didn't seem to take many
walks on Saturdays, at least in their own neighborhoods. He made a
mental bet with himself that he could climb the fence before anyone
even noticed he was there.

One. Two. Three! He boosted himself up, scrabbling for a hold and
belatedly hoping there wouldn't be an electric current flowing through
the bars at the top of the wall. Slowly, somewhat painfully, he hoisted
himself over the edge and dropped to the ground.

Okay, so now he was officially breaking the law. He could
deal with that. He made his way quickly to the house. The
limousine was nowhere to be seen, which was good. The front door
had another electronic lock on it. He checked a window, wondering
if there would be an alarm. Nothing! This woman lived in New York
City in a near-fortress and didn't have bars on the windows or an
alarm system? Was she crazy?

He thought again to her jump, and scratched that question. He
jimmied open the window and slipped inside. He found himself in a
dim hallway. The surrounding evergreens blocked most of the light
from the outside, leaving the house tomblike in its still darkness.

He found what appeared to be a parlour. The couch was covered
in a dusty white sheet, and a box made for an interesting coffee
table. For someone rich enough to own this place, the woman had
lousy taste in decorating. A small pile of mail was set on the
box, and he poked through it. Most was addressed to Resident, but
one wasn't. It was an electric bill, very ordinary in form. It
had been opened, and the papers shoved back into it, so that the
name was no longer in the window. He picked up the envelope.

"Isn't reading someone else's mail illegal?" came a voice from
behind him. He set it down again and turned deliberately to face
a dead woman.

VVVVV

She'd been catching a quick nap when she'd heard the intruder.
In the instant she'd spent between waking and dreaming, she was
certain that somehow, Hakon had found her where she'd hidden from
the barbarians and was about to smash her to rubble. Then she'd
opened her eyes and realized that Hakon had been dead a thousand
years and that she could never be turned to stone again.

She'd slipped out of her sleeping nook and crept behind this
stranger in her house, almost amused now that she was fully awake
and alert. A presumptuous human had invaded her castle, and he
would pay for it with his life. However, like a cat with a mouse
in her paws' reach, she wanted to play with him first.

"Agent Fox Mulder of the F.B.I." He flashed her a piece of plastic
that he obviously thought was important. She knew what the F.B.I.
was. She simply didn't care.

"Thank you. Now I know what name to give to the police when
they arrest you for breaking into my home."

"I don't think you want to contact the police, he countered. "Last
night, you were ready to spill everything rather than go."

She peered at him carefully. So this was one of the twits
Xanatos had invited to his party. All the better. She had
difficulty imagining Xanatos hobnobbing with Federal Agents,
though.

"What do you want?" She might as well at least hear what the
imbecile had to say.

"I want to ask you some questions. For starters, how did you
survive jumping off a hundred-story building?"

"How do you think? I grew wings and flew." She smirked. Ask a
stupid question ...

"I believe you." That was unusual. "I want to know how."

She stood motionless, shocked. He wasn't supposed to believe
her. He was supposed to grow angry with her so that he would
foolishly try to attack, and then she could kill him. Hmm ...
This could prove interesting. She wondered how far his belief
would go.

"Actually," she started, "it's a very long story." She tensed
herself, preparing to strike.

"Does it have anything to do with the Illuminati?"

She looked at him askance. "Who?" His face fell, and she
leapt at him.

He ducked only partially out of the way before she was atop him.
She smiled maliciously. She knew how easily humans died, and
killing this one would brighten up her mood considerably. She felt
him reaching for his gun and shifted her weight to pin his hand.

She was slightly off-balance now and he used it to push her
away and get to a half-crouched position. She kicked out at him,
sending him sprawling again before he could stand, then grabbed a
heavy silver candelabra from the mantle, meaning to spread his grey
matter on the floor.

A singing sound filled her ears, and a tongue of fire licked at her
wrist. She dropped the candle holder and spun. A woman in a cat
outfit held her arm with a whip, while another woman, this one
dressed as a bat, held a vicious-looking weapon at her.

"I'd really suggest you quit fighting," said the Batgirl. She
glanced at Mulder. "Are you okay?"

He nodded and got to his feet.

"Then maybe you can explain what's going on," said Catwoman.
Demona readied herself for one more attack; if she couldn't escape,
she was going to take these humans with her.

She grabbed the whip with her bound hand and tugged with all
her strength, pulling it free from Catwoman and into her own
waiting hand. She managed to spin halfway around before she felt
the blast from Batgirl's weapon. She faltered, then pulled herself
upright again.

"You'll have to do better than that, girl." The blast came
again, and her eyes went unfocused. She hated sleep. It was one
of those things that this new body needed in daily doses, and it
annoyed her to no end. She resisted the heavy weight on her
eyelids, knowing that there was no resistance, that she was falling
again, as too many many times before ...

VVVVV
All Through the Night
a Gargoyles/X-Files/Batman:TAS/Beauty & the Beast/etc crossover
by Melissa "Merlin Missy" Wilson

copyright 1995

Chapter 9: Accusations

She sat quietly in the corner of the jail cell rereading the graffiti on the
wall. For some reason, her eyes kept going back to one name: Cool
"Disco" Dan. She wasn't sure why. She wondered what he'd been
like, how long ago he'd been there, why he'd been put in the lockup. It
was better than considering other things.

Sometimes, her life had seemed as though it were a story, and
that at the end of it, if she persevered, she'd find her "happily
ever after" waiting for her. Instead, she'd found graffiti on the
wall and unsympathetic eyes around her.

A few of her cellmates whispered and pointed at her. She idly
clawed her fingers at them, and they moved away. Being known as
the Catwoman had some advantages, she thought tiredly. Being in
here wasn't one of them.

It had all seemed so clear. They had checked the guest list,
checking off everyone they already knew. Between them, they could
eliminate ninety-five percent of the guests, and a few educated
guesses later, they had come knocking at Angelica MacAlpin's door,
hoping for answers.

Barbara had left them shortly before they'd reached the police
station, which had seemed like a good idea at the time. Selena had
been arrested within a minute of having set foot inside, on charges
of violating her parole, assault, etcetera etcetera. Things hadn't
improved when MacAlpin woke up from her laser-induced nap and
informed the officers that Selena and Mulder and another woman had
broken into her home and shot her. She could offer no reason why
they would bring her there.

They did. Selena, now sans mask, claimed with Agent Mulder
that MacAlpin had attempted to murder Fox Xanatos the night before
in front of hundreds of witnesses, including Captain Chavez.
Chavez agreed that she'd been there, but the evidence they had
collected, namely the champagne, had already been determined to be
nothing more than ordinary alcohol. Then David and Fox Xanatos had
been contacted, and through their assistant Mr. Burnett, had
declined to press charges. In a last effort, they had attempted to
contact Elisa Maza, who had also been attacked at the party. She
hadn't been home.

Selena sighed. MacAlpin had been equally magnanimous,
considering the circumstances. She'd also declined to press
charges on her two assailants. Both she and Mulder had been let go
an hour before. Selena wasn't so fortunate. She'd tried hard to
gain some kind of trust with the police, had shown up for every
meeting with her parole officer promptly, had been properly
contrite for her crimes, had done enough community service to be
nominated for beatification. It hadn't mattered. She had broken
one of the basic rules for her parole for no good reason that they
could see. If she was lucky, she'd be sent to Arkham. She had the
feeling she wasn't going to be lucky ever again.

There was a figure standing quietly outside the cell, watching
her. She turned her face away from him.

"I've paid the bail. It's time to go home."

She nodded, unable to speak. The door opened, and the bailiff
led her out. She still couldn't meet Bruce's eyes, so she looked
back to Cool "Disco" Dan again.

He said nothing to her until they were safely past the reporters and in
the Rolls. Alfred pulled them away from the curb, as Selena turned
towards the darkened glass.

"Why?" His voice was soft, almost childlike in its question,
and that hurt her more than if he'd slapped her across the face.

"Have you seen the Bengal tiger in the Gotham zoo? He's the
most beautiful creature I've ever seen. He was born in captivity,
and he's spent his entire life in a cage. One day, one of his
keepers slipped and fell, leaving the door open. The tiger walked
out of his cage, but everything outside was so new and different
that he went back inside and stayed there till the other keepers
arrived and locked the door." She felt the tears slid warmly down
her cold face as she looked into his eyes. "I didn't want to
become like that. I can't live in a cage," she touched his face,
"no matter how lovely it might be."

"Is that what I am to you?"

She lowered her head. "In a way. And in another way, you're
caught in it, too. Last night, when you left, there was a look on
your face I haven't seen in ages. You didn't want to go, but part
of you needed to go out again, to become the bat haunting the
shadows in the alleyways. I need the same thing, and I'm legally
forbidden to do it!" She pounded her fist against the door,
wanting the pain, hoping that it would stop her from feeling pain
everywhere else.

He placed his hands on her shoulders, and she felt herself
falling into his embrace as she began to sob with all her heart for
everything they could never be.

VVVVV

Scully waited a few minutes after she heard him come in to
knock at his door. He was sitting on the edge of his bed, feet
dangling down, staring at his shoes. His clothes were rumpled, and
he looked like hell.

"Hi," she said. "What did you find out?"

He laughed with a short bark, very un-Mulderlike. "I found out that
our mystery lady is alive, well, and living a few blocks away from
Bruce Wayne. Her name is Angelica MacAlpin, and she was kind
enough not to press charges."

Scully let out a deep breath. "Press charges on what?"

"The usual: breaking, entering, assault."

"Mulder ... "

"I thought I would find everything out if I just had her. I thought she'd
lead me to the killer, maybe even to the Illuminati."

"But?"

"But I was wrong. What do you want me to say?" He looked lost. He'd
been so close to finding the truth, maybe even reaching the people who'd
murdered his father.

She sat down beside him. "If it makes you feel any better, I think I've
found out something."

"If it has to do with gargoyles or the Illuminati, don't tell me, because I
really don't want to know."

"It might. I had a chance to talk with Diana Bennett. She's hiding something big."

"I'd say about 6'6"."

"Him, too. But there's more. She went to see Xanatos today. She didn't get
in, but we spent some time comparing notes. You know how much I hate
conspiracy theories, but if you want someone involved with the Illuminati,
she's the one. I'd almost bet on it."

"You?" He looked skeptical, and he had a right. She had to admit, it
sounded bizarre even to her own ears, but it had the ring of truth that had
been lacking in so much of this case.

She nodded. "I think we should tail her tonight to see where
she goes. Some of those questions might finally be answered."

His face moved into a smile.

VVVVV

Broadway adjusted the spotlight into position while Lexington
found the nearest outlet. Elisa had spent the late part of the
afternoon painting it, while they had been sleeping. She watched
them carefully, hoping they didn't smudge the still-drying paint.

She felt more than saw Goliath approach her, and she tried
very hard to stifle the laugh that threatened. He wore one of
Derek's old black turtlenecks, suitably modified with a few snips from
scissors to accommodate his wings, and a pair of oversized black
sweat pants. Lose the wings and the lavender skin, and he could be
any guy she knew.

"Are you certain this is how it was done?" asked Hudson,
looking critically at the bat shape painted on the lamp.

She nodded. "The bat-signal is famous in police lore. Every
cop knows that if you shine the light, Batman will come."

"And if he really does come?" asked Goliath.

"Hide." He nodded, and she caught a smile touch his mouth.
He really did have a nice smile, she thought. She wished that he
would show it more often.

Brooklyn pulled his own dark shirt on, then looked at the ski
mask. "This is not going to work well."

Lexington grabbed the mask and slid it over Brooklyn's eyes.
"Close enough." The others donned their masks, and Elisa found
herself surrounded by strangers. Winged, beaked strangers, but
strangers nonetheless.

"Okay, concentrate on the upper 40's. That's where their
hotel is. I'll call them to get them coming in this direction.
Remember to spend a lot of time on the buildings themselves. And
good luck."

"To you as well." Goliath jumped to the ledge and spread his
wings. In a moment, they were all aloft.

Elisa watched them go, wondering if they were about to sign
their own death warrants, and knowing it was too late to worry
about it any further. She flipped the switch to the light, and the
shadow of a bat struck the far clouds.

VVVVV

Scully tapped his shoulder and pointed to the sky. He followed her
gaze to see an outline of a bat in stark silhouette to the evening clouds.

"It looks like Batman's pager has gone off. Want to investigate?"

"I'm not sure. I still think we should follow Diana. She's on to
something. You could go investigate the signal, see where it's
coming from while I watch her."

"You kidding? She goes into Central Park alone at night."

She tapped her weapon inside her coat. "I'm a big kid. I can take
care of myself."

"All right, but be careful." She smiled confidently and headed in the
direction of Bennett's apartment. He watched her go, worry turning
his stomach. He knew she could protect herself, but he couldn't help
being a little concerned. She was his best friend, and if anything
happened to her, he'd just go nuts.

He looked skyward again and judged the signal to be coming from the
direction of the police station. He headed there.

VVVVV

Bruce noticed the signal as they stepped out of the car. It
shocked him deeply; no one had used that since Jim Gordon's
retirement. He'd almost forgotten the adrenaline rush when he saw
the light in the sky, and the feeling deep within of being needed,
and wanting to be needed.

Selena's eyes followed his, then closed. "They're calling for you."

"I know."

"Then go. Go to them, save the ones who need saving. Go and
don't look back into the cage." Her eyes were red for having cried
so much, but he'd never seen her more beautiful.

"I'm not leaving you, Selena." He turned towards the house,
ready to have a quiet dinner with her, then perhaps sit with her by
the fireplace and watch the flames for the rest of the night. And
knew it would never be so.

"Then I'll make you leave. You want to believe that the darkness
isn't in you anymore, but it is you. I know, because it's me, too. I
think that's why I fell in love with you. Both of you."

He took her hand, brought it to her cheek, held it there. They stood
still for a moment sharing the darkness together, until he finally
pulled away from her and went towards the house, knowing too well
the path to the Batcave.

"Bruce?" He stopped. "I'll be here waiting when you come home." He
nodded, but did not look back.

VVVVV

Elisa hung up the phone after ten rings. Bloody hell. If they weren't in,
where were they? She climbed the stairs to the roof, where Bronx was
pacing nervously. She held out her hand and he nuzzled at her palm till
she petted him.

"It'll be okay, boy," she whispered. She glanced over the ledge to the city
lights below. Everything was so peaceful from up here. She could
almost believe that they were in the castle of old times, high above their
subjects. She'd be a high-born lady, mistress of the castle, destined to wear
long, flowing gowns and do needlework.

She'd be bored to tears in minutes. She breathed in the pollution of her city's
air.

There was movement above her. Brooklyn was executing an inverse half-
spin nose dive with a twist. She muttered, "Showoff," but smiled all the same.

"Come on, Bronx," she called. "We need to become scarce." The watchdog
followed her down the stairs to the storage room, where he'd be spending
the night, and possibly the next day. He wouldn't enjoy it, but it was better
than being discovered.

VVVVV

Mulder felt the secure weight of his gun in his hand as he
crept up the stairs. He wasn't taking any chances this time. He
came off the top step into the innards of the clock on the top of
the police station. Something was wrong, his senses told him. It
wasn't supposed to be this clean up here. There was nothing
really out of the ordinary that he could see; it looked like an
extra storage space if anything, with boxes, an old t.v., junked
furniture, and a bat-signal shining into space.

Someone was behind him. Leaving no room for thought, he spun
and pointed his weapon. "Freeze!" There was no one there to
freeze. Warily, he lowered the gun. His mind was just playing
tricks on him.

"Better be careful with that," came a deep voice. He turned
again, and saw an apparition in black before him.

"You're Batman." He wasn't asking; he knew.

The man shook his head in the affirmative. "And you're Agent
Mulder of the F.B.I. Why did you call me here?"

"I didn't call you. The light was on when I got here. No one's
home." The man's shoulders slumped, just a little. "Did you
find anything else on Sevarius?"

His mouth turned as if he were in pain. "Some. His lab was
practically destroyed when he died. So were most of his notes.
According to my sources, though, only one of his experiments even
partially worked. He attempted to give a chimpanzee wings by
grafting. It died the next day."

Mulder fought down nausea as his mind provided him with an
image of the pitiable creature. Then he thought of something else.

"One picture. It would have taken one picture in a tabloid to
get people thinking about gargoyles. If that story somehow got
mixed up with yours ... "

"People would be seeing gargoyles everywhere. In this city,
it only takes a day for a story like that to spread."

"But that still doesn't explain the murders."

"I know. I can't explain those yet, but I will. If it takes me the rest
of my life, I'll find out." He turned away, and faced the night and
the beckoning moon.

"Don't go yet. There's so much I need to ask you. Why did you quit?"

"I told your friend that already. I retired."

"But you're here now. What changed your mind?"

He look perplexed for a minute, then shrugged. "I like being
needed." A siren wailed from a few blocks away, and he turned
towards it as if towards the song of its namesake, calling him to
his duty.

Mulder nodded, granting permission that had not been asked, and
the man was gone like a breath of warm wind. Mulder stayed on
the dark rooftop, looking down on the city for several minutes
before going back down the stairs into the light of the police station.

VVVVV

Central Park again. Well isn't this just smeggy, thought Scully. Diana
hadn't seen her yet, which was good. She'd followed her at a discrete
distance since the other woman had left her apartment a few minutes
before. In the short walk from the apartment to the park, Scully had
seen the light in the sky go out. She hoped Mulder was okay.

Not surprisingly, their path led directly to the same drainage culvert as
the night before. Scully ducked behind the tree as Diana went in, then
quickly made her way to the mouth of the entrance when she was out
of sight. She heard a subdued scraping noise, like stone over oiled
steel, and risked a peek inside.

Diana was gone.

She stepped in, gun at the ready, trying to figure out how the
woman had disappeared. There was simply no other way out of the
tunnel, but she wasn't in it. This was the second time this had
happened to her in as many days, and it was getting old fast.

Scully shone her flashlight on what might have been an opening
once, but it was walled over with ancient concrete. Nothing
interesting. She moved the light around, and saw a knob in the
wall that looked out of place. Maybe the way wasn't blocked, but
merely guarded. The scraping sound had to come from somewhere.

She touched the knob.

"I wouldn't do that if I were you," said a quiet voice from behind her.
She turned her head, and saw a man with a gun pointed directly at her.
A man she'd seen just a few hours before. Owen Burnett.

"Put down your gun, Agent Scully." His tone left no room for
argument. Carefully, she set it on the cold ground. "Now kick it
here." She did so. "Thank you."

"What do you have to do with this?"

"More than you have any need to know." He picked up her gun and
checked it. "You really should be more careful when you follow
someone to make sure that you are not also being followed."

"I'll keep that in mind." What was he doing here? Why hadn't
he killed her?

"Why were you following Detective Bennett?"

"I thought she might lead me to the murderer. I know she's
seeing someone here, and we're running out of suspects."

"It's not what you think," he said softly, surprising her.

"Then what is it? I'm tired of half-answers and disappearing
people and monsters that aren't there!" Her anger surprised her.
Maybe she should think about getting more sleep.

"He doesn't mean to kill them. When people he loves are
threatened, he reacts out of instinct."

Like the changing of a slide, something clicked. "He's one of
Sevarius' creations, isn't he?"

Burnett looked blank for a moment, then his mouth turned. It took
her a moment to realize he was smiling. "If that is what you would
like to believe, please feel free. It would make my job much easier."

"Then what is he?"

"Something wonderful." His eyes were lit with an odd fire. Mad fire.
She began surreptitiously looking for a way out of the culvert. "I only
wish we'd located him earlier. We might have trained him better and
avoided all this."

She had to keep him talking. "You and who else?"

"You don't honestly think I'd tell you, do you?"

"I guess not."

He sighed, and she remembered the weight of the years on Batman's
face. "Our ways are not your ways." Oh yeah. He was way gone.

"What do you do in all this?"

"More than you can possibly imagine. I have been involved with this
particular project for many years."

"So Xanatos is behind it." This was one revelation that didn't surprise her.

"Mr. Xanatos was not my first employer, Agent Scully." The way he said
it bothered her. Was he working for someone else, aside from Xanatos? An
image of the moon brushed against her mind and for no reason the tunnel
grew colder. "I grow tired of this. Leave this place and do not return."

"I have to bring a murderer to justice."

"Believe me when I say he would have no justice Above. Let
him go; we will deal with him in our own time and fashion."

"I can't do that."

He sighed again, deeper this time. "I was afraid you were going to say
that." Slowly, deliberately, he walked towards her with the gun. She
prepared herself to move, to strike, to go down causing as much damage
as possible.

But his eyes ... She could not escape his impossibly blue eyes ...

He reached out his hand and whispered, "Forget."

The world went dark.

VVVVV
Chapter 10: Beginnings

Vincent closed the book and leaned back. She nestled her head
in the crook of his arm companionably. She was never so peaceful
as when she was in his arms down here, listening to the timbre of
his voice recite words of lovers lost long before either of them
were born. Jake was asleep on his father's lap, having conked out
an hour before. His breathing was very soft, almost inaudible, but
his eyes were alight with REM sleep beneath his lids.

"That was lovely," she whispered.

"I love the story, but for some reason, I always sympathize with Erik
more than Raoul."

She pulled away to look at his face. The fine leonine shape had scared
her the night they'd met. She'd held a gun to him over the course of the
next day or so, terrified he would kill her in his pain-filled stupor. She
found that difficult to even imagine now. He wasn't a monster, but a
changeling, some mysterious fairy-child brought into her life to make it
whole when she hadn't even known it had been broken. Luminous
beings are we, had spoken the wise puppet, and he more brilliant than
all others to her. She stroked Jake's sleeping head. Speaking of fairy-
children ...

The final piece slid into focus, and she gasped with the realization.
Burnett. Jake was the one he reminded her of, or at least, of what the
boy could be like in thirty years. They had the same thin mouth, the
piercing eyes, and the depth of personality surrounding them like a
deep woolen cloak. His was the loneliness of being different, as the
boy would always be from those around him. But she knew that
Jake would not be alone.

"Are you all right?" asked Vincent, concern in his voice.

"I've never been better," she whispered. She settled back down
against him, feeling his heartbeat against her cheek. "I've just
been thinking."

"About what?"

"Life. The Universe. Everything. You know."

"And what have you determined?"

"Not much, really. Only that I'd prefer to spend the rest of all three
here with you."

He tensed against her. "You don't know what you're asking. There
are dark places inside of me you cannot imagine."

"There are dark places inside everyone. They don't make you evil.
They make you human. I've seen the shadows you keep inside, and I
still love you." She pulled his eyes to meet hers. She breathed, "And
I know what I'm asking. I'm asking you to marry me, in whatever way
we can."

He paused, then nodded and pulled her close. Jake shifted, but didn't
wake up from his slumber. She snuggled into his arms, and whispered,
"I'll make the arrangements. By Winterfest, I can be down here for
good, and then the four of us can finally be a family."

He made a sound that sounded to her like a purr. Thirty seconds later,
the purring stopped.

"What do you mean 'four?'"

VVVVV

Elisa climbed the stairs for the last time that night. The guys would
be returning soon to roost for the day, and she'd be going home to
sleep. The spotlight had been off for hours; it hadn't been necessary
after all. There had been reports all night of sightings of Batman
from across the city. The guys had done good.

Captain Chavez was already making noises about getting back some
of the glory of the older days, maybe even talking Batman into working
with her on a few thus-unsolved cases. Matt was positively glowing
with the thought, while Bullock merely muttered about winged freaks
taking over the department.

The guys weren't home yet, but she decided it was safe to let Bronx
out. He bounded out of the storage room and knocked her over with
slobbering kisses. She laughed, and then carefully pushed him away
from her face. Okay, so he was a thousand years old, green, and
turned to stone at dawn. He still had doggy breath.

She heard the whisper of wings, and knew that the others had
returned home for the day. Five ancient gargoyles wearing the
remnants of her brother's night-colored clothing swooped down from
the sky, all outlined in the last shreds of moonlight before the
break of day. She tried to imagine anything more beautiful to her
at that moment, but failed.

"You did good," she told them. "There've been reports of
Batman sightings everywhere. If Fox and Dana ask, that's what
they'll hear."

"Good," said Hudson, slipping off his shirt. "I'd hate to think we'd
have to do that again tomorrow night."

"I dunno," said Brooklyn. "It was kind of fun." He ducked as Lex
threw his own shirt at him.

Goliath was silent as he removed Derek's turtleneck carefully. It was
ruined, of course, but that didn't stop him from trying to keep it neat.
His face was troubled, and she asked him what was on his mind.

"I thought that I saw something or someone, not one of us," he
said. "I'm wondering if it could be the real Batman, and if we
have perhaps caused him trouble."

"Don't worry about it," she said, and placed a comforting hand on his
arm. "Batman is just a myth for comic books and cartoons."

"You're probably right," he said.

"Hey!" called Broadway, already in the kitchen, "Anyone want a snack
before bedtime?"

"Me!" shouted Lex, and Brooklyn followed. Hudson shrugged and
went in behind them.

Suddenly, the two of them were alone on the rooftop. The sky
lightened around them as the moon grew paler, and she realized that
her hand was still on his arm, but that he hadn't objected.

"'The moon, yes, that will be my home,'" he whispered, more to
himself than to her, "'and there shall I find all the souls I have
loved.'"

She thought he was going to say something more, but he closed
his lips again before he could. Instead, they stood in hushed awe
together looking over the awakening city as the stars winked out
one by one above them.

VVVVV

Selena sat in her favorite chair in the study, listening to the house
as it settled. The sun was rising over the horizon, a few brief
sparkles coming through the large eastern window to melt the
frost formed at the corner of the pane. She had stayed up all
night waiting, wondering, fearing. She'd turned the radio on, and
heard how Batman had helped nab a thief just leaving a jewelry
store downtown. The announcer had been surprised to hear anything
about the Caped Crusader, having heard rumors that he'd died.

Not yet, she thought tiredly. He hadn't died quite yet.

There was a chance that she wouldn't have to go to prison again. It
was slim, but she clung to the hope like a life preserver in the midst
of a storm at sea. She desperately wanted to believe that they could
work through this, that they still could find that dream together.
Maybe this time the dream could include bats and cats, and all the
parts of them, not just the sides they showed to the public. When
they'd fallen in love, it had been as two wounded souls forced by
circumstance to lead double lives. Those lives had entwined, and
perhaps would become two of one.

The door opened and closed. In the dim light, she saw a hooded
figure approach her with measured steps. When he reached her
chair, he knelt before her, and placed his forehead on her knees in
the position of a supplicant.

He had returned from his night to her, but it had changed him
forever. He would return to his city like a mistress he could not
abandon, even for her. Perhaps there would come a time when she
could join him in the fight, when she could wear another mask and
be unafraid, instead causing fear in the hearts of those who would
harm their citizens, their children. Instead of becoming the sun
to each other, they could become the moon and stars beneath those
same guardians of the night, and that perhaps would be a large
enough cage to hold them both.

She took his chin in her palm and raised his eyes to hers. Slowly, his
gloved arms came around her waist as she pulled his face up to meet
her lips. She murmured softly, "My dark knight," and then there were
no more words.

VVVVV

Scully opened her eyes slowly, disoriented. She was in a strange bed.
She came fully awake. Oh yes. The Paramount. In New York. Her
room. Now why didn't she feel as though she should be there?

She glanced at the clock on the nightstand, and nearly bolted out of
bed. It was noon. Their plane left at two. She got up, ran to the
bathroom, and started getting ready, wondering why Mulder hadn't
woken her up earlier.

Something nagged at the back of her mind about last night, but she
couldn't recall just what. She'd been following Diana Bennett into
the drainage culvert, and she'd disappeared. She hadn't found
anything interesting, and had come back to her room and called it
a night. At least, she was fairly certain that was what had
happened.

But hadn't a woman's disappearance qualified as something
interesting? And why hadn't she followed up her lead on the huge
boyfriend? Yet, it had seemed to make so much sense to her last
night to come back here and catch up on her sleep, that the case
was just another one that would never be completely explained and
that questioning it wouldn't do any good.

By the time she finished her shower, she'd forgotten her uncertainty
completely.

Minutes later, dressed and ready, she knocked at Mulder's door. He
met her there. "Good afternoon, sleeping beauty."

"Stuff it, Mulder," she said as pleasantly as possible.

"I met your friend Batman last night."

"What did he have to say?"

"That he liked being needed."

She nodded. That also felt right. "I followed Bennett to the culvert."

"Did you see her boyfriend?"

"No, but I don't think that he's the one we're looking for." She tried
to figure out why she would think that, but came up with nothing more
than a very strange image, that of Xanatos' butler holding a plate of
oatmeal raisin cookies. She shook her head to clear out the image.

"Scully?"

"I'm okay. I had the weirdest dream last night."

"Was I in it?"

"Actually, I think you were." He grinned.

"What was it about?"

She tried to recall. She knew that she had dreamed about the party
again, only this time there had been more people there. Some of
them hadn't looked human at all; there had been giant winged
creatures and at least one person looking more like a lion than a
man, but she hadn't been frightened. She'd merely watched as they
joined everyone else in the Great Hall, mingling and talking and
laughing, and occasionally dancing. Mulder had been there, too,
and they'd shared a dance to a high, lilting song that put her in
mind of a Ren Faire. It had seemed the most natural thing in the
world.

"Magic," she said, and went back to her own room to pack.

VVVVV

Fox closed the book and yawned. She had learned more than she had
wanted to know about clans and kinsmen and ancient wars. She'd
even found the Macbeth of legend, from whom their odd associate no
doubt took his name. But there was almost no mention anywhere of
what had become of the last lady of Castle Wyvern.

There were other books to be read, other things to be researched and
cross-checked. She'd made a list as she'd gone, but she knew that
most of her sources would turn up dry. But she would find out
what little there was available. She had to know, and the knowledge
would rouse her from sleep over the next several months, telling her
to find another ancient manuscript, another book of legends. It would
be so much easier to just ask the gargoyles, but that was out of the
question, for now.

She patted her abdomen, and said in a low voice, "Don't worry, kid. We'll
find her."

She noticed Owen watching her silently from a corner of the room. Then
he did something she had never imagined him capable of doing. He
sneezed. Then he went to the bookshelf, pulled out a book seemingly
at random, and placed it before her.

"You may find this one of use," he said in that odd way of his. She met
his eyes, and again remembered her dreams. She had walked along the
halls of the castle, and had looked into eyes such as these, and she hadn't
been afraid of anything, neither the barbarians at the gate nor the
gargoyles guarding their home. When she had those eyes beside her,
she was stronger than the night itself.

"Thank you, Owen," she said in a half-whisper as he moved away
from her desk.

"You're welcome, my lady," he replied from the doorway, and
disappeared into the darkness beyond.

VVVVV

His eyes were closed. Tentatively, he opened them, unsure of what to
expect. Beside him was a shoulder. He glanced up to see that the
shoulder was attached to a neck, which itself was holding the head of
a fairly ordinary-looking man. This was a good start.

There was a noise around him, and he realized he was in a moving
vehicle of some kind. He turned his head experimentally the other
way, and saw a cloud bank below them rushing by. Okay, so they
were in an airplane. He wasn't sure where they were going or why,
but they were in an airplane and he didn't seem to be restrained by
anything other than the seatbelt.

He looked down and moaned inwardly. Not again!

He unbuckled his safety belt, tapped on the man's shoulder, and said
quietly, "Excuse me."

The man smiled and moved his legs out of the way.

He nodded thanks and squeezed by. The restroom was in the back
of the cabin, and thankfully, there was no line. He slipped inside,
locked the door, and rested his head against it for a moment, trying
to gather his thoughts into some kind of order.

Then he looked into the mirror.

He had shoulder-length hair, midway between honey and strawberry-
blonde in coloring. His face was round, his eyes wide and blue, and
his bra size considerably larger than a few minutes before. Just as
he'd figured.

"Oh boy," said Sam.

VVVVV

And life went on.

VVVVV
The End

"Sleep my child and peace attend thee
All through the night.
Guardian angels God shall send thee
All through the night.
Soft the drowsy hours are creeping
Hill and dale in darkness steeping
I my lonely watch am keeping
All through the night."

- Welsh Traditional