39 - "Painful Liaisons"
Originally Written: January 24th, 2001

Author's Note 1: Iapologize for the late post, but this website is massively buggy, which
makes it extremely difficult to post on the days promised.

Author's Note 2: Just a reminder, I'm a featured artist in Avalon Mists
(www.gargoyles-fans.org). Yay. (And no, I don't have a big ego...oh, just read the damn
story...)

...Dedicated to Denis De Plaen, Alisa A. West, and Michael Hugo...
...Thanks for everything, friends...

May 1st, 2001
As the snow receded from the streets and spires of Manhattan, a collective sigh of relief
could be heard, as the human dwellers reveled in the increasingly warm temperatures,
and at last, the appearance of the sun from behind the somber shroud of Winter gray.
Spring was arriving in New York, and a renewal of life and spirit was taking place in the
abrupt change of season. Trees once stunted from growing by the frigid coatings of
frozen rain cast upon them, now exploded in a menagerie of color and emerald splendor,
swelling to their erstwhile selves, and forming cool shaded spots to rest and relax, and
provide shelter from the onslaught of the sun's relentless fervor.

The days had become longer, and the ceaseless cycle of dawn and dusk were being
stretched to the foremost degree, allowing the humans time to spend in the sun, but
trapping the gargoyles in their prisons of stone for extended periods. The Wyvern clan
had less and less time to spend with loved ones, before returning to their perches and
succumbing to the deadened effects of solid rock. Though a way to heal their injuries
and the manner of their slumber, in this new world, the human world, it yet became as an
annoyance to the denizens of the sky.

So upon awakening, their patrols were started immediately and efficiently, in order to
reclaim the lost time of Nature's circle of life. And for the leader of this clan, he too
wanted nothing more than to finish his patrol and swoop in and land in the battlements of
his ancient home, and hurry to his chambers, in order to greet his newest daughter, and
her beaming smile whenever she caught sight of her lavender father.

A peaceful night, was this evening, as our story begins within the bedroom of Goliath and
Elisa, and a domestic scene, perhaps taken from any household across the globe. Where
the proud mother watched as father and daughter played together, and an amusing sight
as the lavender giant was forced to his hands and knees, chasing a tiny ball of tawny
gargoyle, exploring her surroundings with ever a curious wonderment.

Trinity had started to crawl now, and nothing was safe from her grasp, save the most
breakable objects that were raised high above the floor. She now had the means to
explore what her large chocolate eyes laid upon, and with a squeal, she took off, fixed on
discovering what had caught her interest. Goliath mimicked her posture, and crawled
behind her on the thick carpeting, intent on making sure his daughter would not grasp
upon anything dangerous with her ever rapacious hands.

She had grown considerably from the infant held in a blanket in her parent's arms a mere
six months ago, and her intelligence and reasoning had increased tenfold. She was
perhaps a couple months ahead of the growth of a normal human child, and her parents
were forced to contend with the fusion of their own intellect, inquisitiveness, and five
times the stubbornness. So the castle had been childproofed against the young hybrid,
and everything the clan valued was kept far from her, and locked safely away...for now.

"Watch her, Goliath," called Elisa, having placed herself at her vanity, preparing for her
night, "if she gets a hold of Cagney again..." She chuckled slightly, remembering the
small cat's surprise of finding himself in the clutches of his roommate. Elisa threw the
few remaining tendrils of raven hair away from her face and stared into the mirror,
attempting to locate even the smallest of flaws, and what could be used as ammunition
for her co-workers to hold against her. Elisa had finished her six month maternity leave,
and now was less than an hour from going back to work. She made sure her features and
body were as beautiful as when she had left in October, knowing that she would be
placed underneath the proverbial microscope of her fellow police officers, especially
Matt Bluestone. "Do I look good, Big Guy?" she asked hesitantly.

"Yes," he answered automatically, without even bothering to look back, "you always
were, still are, and always will be, the best looking detective, and human, in the city, and
the world."

"I hope so." she replied, standing up and rubbing her hands across her denim covered
buttocks. "That's all I need is Bluestone razzing on me because I gained weight."

"And lost it all, and then some, after Trinity's birth. You look wonderful." Goliath said
firmly, eliciting a smile from his mate. He turned his attention back to Trinity, and
discovered she had escaped from beneath him, and was now crawling quickly towards
the bathroom. "Oh, no you don't..." He rushed up to her side, and tenderly snatched her
tail.

Trinity came to a halt and perked up, looking behind her for what had ceased her forward
momentum. She flashed a toothless smile towards her father and he returned it with one
of his own. She turned and clambered into his awaiting hands, showing with a wave of
her arms, she wanted up to his level, and that of the rest of the castle occupants.

Goliath climbed to his feet, and raised to his full seven foot, seven inch height, lifting
Trinity to the breadth of his shoulder. He roamed to Elisa's position, and allowed her
mother say her good-byes with a gentle kiss to her forehead, and a rubbing of her hand
through Trinity's ever growing locks.

"Goodbye, my angel. I'll only be gone for five hours. Thanks to your aunt Maria, I'm on
shortened shifts for two weeks, until I get 'used to the daily grind'." She leaned in to
nuzzle her lips to Trinity's cheek. "Be good." It wasn't a suggestion, for the tone of
Elisa's voice was hard enough to portray a command to her obstinate firstborn.

Trinity simply laughed and shrugged off her mother's harsh words in a flap of her wings.

Elisa smiled and cocked and eyebrow, with an acute awareness that her daughter had no
intention of behaving herself. She returned her focus to her husband, and only her soft
voice tore his eyes from his daughter. "So, I guess Xanatos' birthday is coming up soon.
I suppose we have to get him something."

Goliath grimaced at the slight acerbity in Elisa's voice. "Yes. But I admit, it gets harder
every year."

"Of course. What do you get for the man who literally has everything?"

"True enough. But even so, I think the gesture to find something nice for him would
mean a lot."

"Well," Elisa sighed, "I'll keep my eye out for anything that he would like. Maybe you
should ask around, especially Fox."

"Yes. A novel idea."

"But I know one thing that he can get for Trinity's first birthday..." she whispered,
running her hands over Trinity's hands and knees. "He can get the entire castle carpeted.
My poor little baby's forced to crawl around on the Scottish rock. Her poor, soft, tender
skin."

"Elisa, she has the skin of a gargoyle, it is thicker and more resilient than a normal
human child. Besides, with all the traffic around here, especially Bronx and Nudnik, the
cleaning bills for this carpeting would be most likely be enormous. You needn't worry
about your daughter, she is a Maza."

"And I'm a first time mother. I worry about her every waking action. Especially when
she gets close to any electrical outlet."

"They are all protected and covered." Goliath exclaimed. "Do not worry."

"All right, all right..." she conceded, and grabbed her holster and jacket draped over her
chair, pulling them both into position. "Well, I'm off..."

"You are nervous about your return to the precinct?"

Elisa fumbled with her words, and started swaying her head back and forth. "Well, yes
and no. I mean, I want to get back to work, I miss it all. My friends, my co-workers,
being back on the beat. But...when every new mother returns, she's dogged for pictures
and stories about their babies."

Goliath looked down, knowing Elisa had no pictures to bring, no photographs to show off
her baby daughter, as to expose Trinity would invoke a great danger to both their lives.
"I am sorry. I wish..."

"Shhh." She shut him up abruptly, with a slap of a few fingers to her husband's lips.
"It's not that big a deal, really. Because on those shelves," she pointed to three massive
shelving units in the corner of the room, "are thick volumes of photo albums, and video
tapes with my baby girl. Yes, I have to keep them hidden from almost everybody, but
that just means, I get even more of her to myself. I'm just trying to think of good excuses
for why I have no pictures of the very reason I was gone for half a year."

"They consider you a very private person, perhaps they will not press the issue when
you...ahem, POLITELY turn them down for personal information. And I am sure Matt
and Maria, and Morgan will aid in your answers, and our attempt to keep her hidden."
Goliath bobbed the tiny body up and down in his arms, with Trinity cooing at the ride.
"But, getting back to Xanatos, keep looking."

"You really are taking this serious, aren't you?"

"I only wish to express my gratitude for everything he has done in the past year. I believe
I owe him at least something, to show him we have gotten over the past, if only a small
gift."

Elisa sighed, and blew away the same small strand of hair hanging in her face. "Okay."
she yielded to her husband's giving nature. "But I'm not going to spend that much on
him."

"I never asked you to. Now get going, you do not wish to be late for your first shift."

Elisa clicked her eyes to her watch, and groaned. "Well...I guess I'll see you in five
hours. Bye, Big Guy. Bye bye, Trini..." Elisa once again kissed her daughter on the
cheek and slipped from the room, heading for the elevator, where the long journey would
commence to the private parking garage and the Fairlane.

Goliath and Trinity both looked to each other, and the infant gargoyle flittered and began
to babble in her nonsensical language. Goliath took the hint and stepped into the
hallway, heading for the castle's massive kitchen to prepare Trinity's meal.

****************************************

"Trinity Hope!" bellowed the lavender giant, attempting to force a spoonful of a dark,
forest-green mush into his daughter's mouth. Yet she resisted and pulled herself as far
from the toxic material as the confines of her highchair would allow. "Please, eat your
dinner." He tried again, and the tiny girl grimaced so much like her father and closed her
wings about her, effectively hiding from Goliath's view. He sighed heavily, and pulled
back a copper colored wing, and found his daughter cringing within the velvet membrane
folds of chocolate. "Eat your peas..."

"Strained peas?" A question rang out behind the gargoyle. "You're going to be sorry..."

Goliath never paid any heed to the sarcastic remark released from a very familiar tongue
and instead at last coerced Trinity to swallow the baby food. Instantly, upon even tasting
the foul vegetables, Trinity spit the glob of mush back towards Goliath, impacting over
his right brow. Goliath jerked back, and forced his lips to suppress his angered growl.
He wiped away some of the gunk from his ridge and spied on his daughter, laughing
hysterically at her father's misfortune.

"I told you so." said Fox, as she at last appeared into Goliath's field of view. "The first
time I tried to feed Alex strained peas, he actually made the contents of the entire jar fly
up and splatter on the ceiling."

"Trinity must have her vegetables, no matter how bad they taste. She needs her greens in
order to stay healthy."

"Have you ever tried strained peas?" she asked, pointing a slender finger towards the
small glass container.

"Once."

"And?"

"I have never experienced anything more disgusting since Broadway's foray
into...seafood pie." Both Goliath and Fox visibly shuddered.

"You mean you didn't like your salmon pudding?" Fox teased, taking a place at the table
beside Trinity's highchair. "Anyway, if you want Trinity here to eat what she doesn't
like, you have to disguise it somehow. Mix a bit of peas with the fruit she likes. And
presto."

"Thank you, Fox." Goliath replied, wiping the last of the baby's food from his face with
the dishcloth. "I believe my daughter is taking on Elisa's food preferences. She hates
vegetables as well."

"They're a lot alike."

"In more ways than I could ever imagine." he answered, grabbing the strained peaches
and watching as Trinity instantly reached for the jar, recognizing the scent and color of
her favorite fruit. He slipped in some of the strained peas, mixed the two together, and
then tried his luck once more.

Trinity reveled in the pleasurable taste, never noticing the green patches combined with
her treat, and managed to at least get some into her mouth, while spreading the rest about
her heart-shaped face.

Goliath spooned the rest from her cheeks and fed it to her, and the tiny child gurgled and
pleaded for more. A silence wafted through the kitchen as Fox watched intently the
touching scene between the massive, muscular gargoyle and his baby girl. Goliath
snapped his eyes to the billionairess, her head propped up on one hand. "Fox," he
started, almost startling the woman beside him, "have you gotten anything for your
husband's birthday?"

Fox straightened up and tilted her head to the question asked of her, surprised at
Goliath's interest in her and her husband's personal life. "Well, yeah, a few things, and a
special surprise waiting for him after his party."

"And what would that be?"

Fox curved her lips into a supple grin, an evil smile which displayed more to him in her
simple gesture than words ever could.

"Ah. Say no more."

"Why do you ask? Frankly, I never even thought you, or Elisa for that matter, would
want to give him a present."

"I wish to show my thanks for what he has done for us. But, it seems locating a gift for
the man who can buy the entire world with the contents of his left jacket pocket, can be a
trying task."

Fox suddenly lost her smile, and her body language changed to an uncomfortable stance.
She swathed a hand through her flaming red locks, uncovering her raven hued tattoo and
directed saddened eyes to the gargoyle. "I think there's only one thing he wants, Goliath.
Forgiveness." Goliath looked up, and locked eyes with Fox, as she continued.
"Forgiveness from those he has hurt in his past. He is constantly eaten alive everyday by
his actions. Everytime he even sets eyes on any of the Maza family, he is plagued by
what he once was. Elisa may be civil to him, but anyone can see it's a thin veil to hide
her pain, her anger." Fox rose from the table, and Goliath followed every sluggish
movement with a heavy heart. "What he wants most, is the one thing he can never have
back. His soul." The former television star escaped from the kitchen, and from Goliath's
sympathetic gaze.

Goliath scraped his talons across his face, trying to fend off the feelings of guilt about
Xanatos and his family he desperately did not want to feel. His former enemy, now his
friend. A surreal turn of events having taken place in the last few years, as David
Xanatos was the one of the few people that could unleash Goliath's anger to a frightening
degree. But now, they shared the same home. He felt an upsurgance of a particular
feeling, that he wanted to restrict from enfolding into his heart. Sympathy. Sympathy for
David Xanatos.

BANG!!! His thoughts were violently broken when Trinity had grabbed a spoon near her
and slammed it against the wooden tray of her highchair. Goliath jerked up, and stared
wide-eyed at his daughter, who was wearing a familiar pout and boring into him with
white glowing eyes, before returning to her cinnamon brilliance. She had obviously been
robbed of her treat when Goliath paused to reflect on his conversation.

"Now I know why Elisa wishes to purchase you a small pair of sunglasses." he said
quietly. "Those eyes of yours, my daughter, are clearly visible signs of your parentage."
He continued her feeding until the small child was full and the jar was empty.

****************************************

Goliath traveled the length of the grand hallway, his eyes darting this way and that,
connecting with bits of stone, rich tapestries, ancient implements of war hung high on the
barriers, reflecting an ancestral heritage of battle and war, even though this place
remained a peaceful refuge from the world outside. Trinity was resting blissfully against
his shoulder after such a filling meal, with her father's hand rubbing soothingly across
her back and between her small wings, sometimes giving her a small pat when she
complained in a tearful cry that she needed to be burped.

The lavender leader entered his bedroom and headed for the wardrobe, and contained
within the jumble and confusion of Elisa's entire clothing line, was the carrier he used to
transport Trinity across the skyways of Manhattan's flowing currents. Elisa forced him
to promise he would always secure their daughter in this specially designed carrier, as
she feared for her baby girl gliding hundreds of feet above the pavement. Goliath
protested, stating that every hatchling, no matter how small or young, was carried in the
arms of their older caretakers while taking to the sky, without any an incident. But she
fought back in a war of words, and her winning argument was a simple comparison. For
Goliath would never let his daughter ride in the Fairlane without her carseat. The giant
gargoyle had lost, and acceded to Elisa's fears, and the dark blue carrier now strapped to
his chest.

"I hate this thing." he muttered, as he secured Trinity, now dressed in her red jumper and
protected from what cold air still lingered outside, into the pocket, and connected both
straps over her shoulders. She had awakened in full now, knowing by the fact she was
placed into the carrier, that she was about to coast on the soft currents with her father.
Upon leaving his bedroom, he happened by the full length mirror, and rolled his eyes at
the sight. "I really hate this thing..."

****************************************

A ballet ensued about the skyscrapers, a weaving of wind and gale through the structures
erected and placed in their path. And through it all, flew a mammoth lavender specter,
allowing himself to be carried along with the trailing tendrils of the natural flow. Goliath
heaved into the wind somewhat, his usual joviality and dexterity within the air kept to a
minimum, as he was distinctively aware of his tiny passenger held close to his chest.

Trinity saw before her a fusion of color and shape, though indiscernible to her young
mind and eyes, she still babbled and murmured her pleasure and joy, and even coerced
her father to do a barrel roll past the Empire State building.

Goliath always took pleasure in sharing this world with his daughter, having just within
the past few weeks, been able to take her out and caress the clouds with the tips of his
wings. A fearless attitude, most likely inherited from her mother, took total control of
her as if a devilish imp, and she indulged in what freedom only her race could ever
experience. He wondered when her first flight would be, when he would watch her
spread her wings and carry herself on the air, flying farther from his sight, like all
children are destined to do.

But for now, he held her close to him, unwilling to let her go just yet. They continued on,
and Goliath swerved towards a certain part of the city, and gracefully descended slowly,
where the streetlights could not touch, or yet never desired to, perchance reluctant to
stain it's hands within the darkness. The gargoyle slipped into the shadows, and came to
rest near a sewer grate, marked with a painted yellow cat.

****************************************

"Well, well, well," a sarcastic quip erupted into Elisa's very face, "guess who decided to
grace us with her presence." It was Matt Bluestone, waiting outside the doors to the
twenty-third precinct, watching his partner slowly travel the cement steps, and her
scalding glare burning two holes in his long, tan trenchcoat.

"Bluestone, I swear, if you say anything or do anything that causes even one of my hairs
to twitch..." She reached the last step and lowered her brow to her fiery eyes. "You will
regret it." She tossed her hair nonchalantly and sauntered past him, unaware of his
swelling smile.

Elisa passed through the doors and headed for the second story stairway, with Bluestone
keeping pace, yet staying a few feet behind her, as if expecting something terrible to
happen to his partner. Elisa reached the doorway, through where her desk and section of
the precinct was located. She stopped and took a breath, bracing herself for the rabid
assault of questions always thrown relentlessly to new parents, especially the mothers.
"Here goes..." she sighed, and pushed the barrier from her path.

"SURPRISE!!!" A massed roar called out upon Elisa's entry into the squadroom, and the
raven haired detective stood speechless, stunned...and angry. "Welcome back!!" It
seemed as if almost every one of her division was there to cheer for their friend, as they
gathered around her and each presented their congratulations. A banner stretched across
the ceiling, and a cake was left on one of the tables to the side. Elisa tried to suppress her
growing rage, and forced her lips to curl into a labored grin. It was worse than she had
ever imagined.

Bluestone approached her side, with a piece of cake and his own goofy grin. "So, you
like the party?" he asked, delving into the chocolate cake with his plastic fork.

Elisa snatched his tie and pulled him into a empty corner, and once alone and out of
earshot, she twisted to meet his eyes, and her animosity towards her partner had seared
into her once chocolate eyes, leaving only two cauldrons of scalding magma. "I wanted
my return to be low key, Matt," she sneered, her voice grating upon her vocal cords, "this
is not low key."

"Nah." he replied, immune to her angered stare and finishing the last of his cake. "I
thought a party would be better. So did Sara. She got the cake. Damn good too. Want
some?"

Before Elisa could bring a clenched fist to his face, Maria Chavez ducked in between
them and pulled Elisa away. "I don't think so, Maza." she said, dragging the detective to
the table of food and refreshments laid out before them. "I know, this wasn't what you
wanted..."

"Wasn't what I wanted?! You of all people know that I can't draw any more attention
than I already have to Trinity's birth."

"Sometimes the best way to hide things is right out in the open. It's all right to let people
know you have a baby. This actually gives you more freedom to escape and be with your
family. You can say...you need to be with your daughter. With the newest parenting
labor laws in effect, you'll have more opportunity to take time off."

"I know, but..." Elisa formed the uncertain look once more, the growing fear of her
daughter's discovery overwhelming any rational thought. "What happens when they
want to see her?"

"Say no."

"Without being a total bitch."

Maria bared her teeth in a charming smile. "Everyone here has always respected your
privacy, and it will be no different now than it was before you got pregnant. Besides,"
she added quietly, grabbing a few appetizers from the table, "you've managed to keep an
entire clan of gargoyles from the public eye, and even your marriage to a certain lavender
warrior."

"Yeah, I guess..."

"Hello...Elisa." A low feminine voice, contorted with rife hostility, whispered behind
them.

Elisa whirled around to find the rookie detective, Iliana Starr, standing behind her. "Oh,
hey, 'Ana. It's good to see you."

"Oh, so you do remember me, do you?" she scoffed, tramping closer, her eyes of Prussian
blue forming a layer of ice. "Did I get an invitation to see your new baby? No. Did I
even get a call to inform me of how you were doing on your leave of absence? No. And
now, six months later, do I even get to see a picture?!"

"Uh...no."

Iliana clenched her fists and suppressed a violent shudder, desperately wanting to shout
and scream at her friend's incessant secret keeping. Yet her captain was still standing
alongside, and the fears of a reprimand lay within her. "Fine...I can deal with that. No
pictures. Yes, that's just fine. Fine..." She circled around abruptly, sending the red
shoulder length hair flying about her slender face, and stomped off, growling beneath her
breath.

Elisa raised her brow and placed a finger to her chin. "Hmmm...that was easier than I
thought."

****************************************

The tunnels were moist and pungent, as a foul scent clung to the slick cement walls of
Manhattan's sewer systems. Goliath took great care in his steps, as the run-off from the
melting snow had caused the waterflow to rise above the normal levels. And surely Elisa
would take offense to having her daughter doused in sewer water. Goliath crept on,
though no lights illuminated his dark path, his eyes afforded him the advantage of
picking out every nuance of curve of the narrow concrete ledge.

Soon, he came to the doors leading into the Labyrinth, and deciding not to enter his
security code and intrude on anothers home, he thought it best to politely rap on the solid
metal barriers and wait for a response. And soon enough it would come, as both security
cameras focused in on his position with a gentle whirring of mechanical lenses, and the
giant doors hissed, unlocked and slid open, revealing a tall winged figure, cloaked within
the shadows.

"Hey, bro." called out the low voice, as Talon stepped out to greet his brother-in-law.

"Derek." Goliath grasped his hand, and watched the mutate reach out to rub Trinity about
the hair.

"Hey, squirt. How's my niece?"

"She's just fine," Goliath answered for her, as the small girl reached for her uncle from
the carrier, "especially when having been flown around the city for almost an entire
hour."

"Have wings, will fly. She was born for the skies." Talon replied, a somber cast
afflicting his features. "Come on, Maggie and the others will want to see you both." The
mutate led the way from the inner landing of the Labyrinth's main room. Thankfully, the
once putrid smell of the sewer system had disappeared, replaced with the freshened
aroma of cleaning materials and disinfectants, only growing in strength as they stepped
into one of the tunnels and entered the main living area, where Maggie was seated in a
large recliner.

As soon as the lioness found her brother-in-law, and her niece, appearing from the
entryway, she dropped her book and jumped to her feet. She came running to their stead
and practically ripped the small infant from her carrier. "Hello, Trini!" she cried,
grasping the child to her chest. "Oh, hi Goliath..."

Goliath smirked at his sister's playful forgetfulness, and raised his chin, glaring down on
her. "Hello, Maggie."

"Nice packsack." She pointed to the carrier still strapped to Goliath's chest, and the
gargoyle immediately purpled in embarrassment, ripping the apparel from his chest and
throwing it into the corner. Maggie made no attempt to hide her laughter at Goliath's
annoyance of Elisa's method of transportation for her daughter. "So, what brings you
down here?"

"Since Elisa has started back to work, I thought Trinity would like the chance to visit her
uncle and aunt." he replied, watching as the lioness drooped onto the couch and seated
Trinity to her lap, rubbing her furry muzzle to Trinity's nose. "I also would like to speak
with you, Derek, about something you may not want to hear."

Derek visibly tensed, on hearing the abrupt change in Goliath's rich baritone. "What's
that?"

"In private...please."

"Well then, follow me." Derek headed away from Maggie and left Goliath to trail
behind, and soon the pair slipped into another smaller room, and Talon pushed the door
closed. Unknown to him and the gargoyle, the door never connected with the latch and
left a thin opening into the hallway, where every word played upon the corridor and
echoed into the room beside. Talon turned around, and leaned back against a wooden
desk. "Well, speak."

Goliath inhaled deeply, and avoided his gaze, instead running his deep onyx eyes about
the room and the sparse embellishment. "It's about someone who you most likely want
nothing more to do with. Someone who made grave mistakes in the past and is trying his
best to overcome them, and set things right."

Talon's black bat wings flared out, and his entire body tightened. The thin layer of fur
covering the entire length of his body stood on end at even the notion of who Goliath was
talking about. "You had better not be speaking about..."

"Xanatos."

"And what in God's name do you want me to do with that...man?"

"I want you to...possibly forgive him."

"WHAT?!!!" Talon screamed, his eyes bursting out with an angered glare. "How dare
you even ask me that!! You know as well as anyone what he did to me!! To us!!"

"He made a mistake..."

"Mistake my ass!! He meant to do this! We were nothing but lab experiments to him.
Nothing but animals."

Goliath stepped forwards, attempting to sway his inlaw's growing anger. "He regrets
everything he has done. He wishes to help you. Help all of us."

"Bullshit!! He's a monster! He's..."

"He allowed us back to our castle. He helped defend against the Unseelie. He gave Elisa
and I, a wedding and honeymoon. There is now a little baby girl outside this room who is
healthy and is guaranteed a future because of that man. I cannot forget what he has done
to me, but I cannot deny what he has done for me, for the clan, for all of us. This entire
facility is funded by Xanatos as well."

"Only because we are forced to be down here! Only because we're forced to live like
animals! We could be living peaceful, normal lives. Maggie and I could have children, a
family. But she can barely look herself in the mirror, let alone giving birth to a mutate
baby!" Talon was visibly heaving, shaken by frayed nerves and memories of what
Xanatos had done to him. "I will never forgive that bastard as long as I live. Never!"

"Are you sure?" A quiet voice rang in, and both winged men turned to the door, where
Maggie had slipped through, still holding Trinity in her arms. "Are you prepared to hate
this man your entire life?"

"How can you defend him?! You were a normal human, with your entire life ahead of
you!"

"A life without you, or this family we have found." she answered back, her tone calm,
and never wavering with undue emotion. "I can't live with this hatred inside of me all
the time. It becomes tiring, futile and ultimately self-defeating, to hate a man for what I
believe...was a mistake."

"It wasn't a mistake, Maggie!!" He held a clawed hand directly to her face, allowing her
see the talons bursting from his fingertips. "He meant to do this! He watched as I
transformed with nothing but a smile and a black heart."

"That David Xanatos died a long time ago. He's different. He now is giving his wealth
to help the less fortunate, and placing himself on the frontlines to protect the clan."

"Only because he feels guilty..."

"Yes, and it's that guilt that eats at him everyday, like your anger eats at you. Can you
truly go through your entire life without the capacity to forgive those who have made
grievous mistakes? Look at Demona, she has even been accepted back into the clan after
a thousand years. Only due to Goliath's ability to forgive her. To forget the past and
look to the future." She hugged Trinity closer and took the moment to catch the infant's
scent. "As much as I want to be human and have a family, I can't let my husband be
slowly destroyed by a malice that has existed in his heart for too long. Maybe it's finally
time to let go of the anger, the hatred."

"How can you say that?" Talon cried, his own grated rasp breaking down to a hoarse
whisper. "Look at us. Look...I'm a monster. We all are, because of that man..."

"Yes. But I think now, that Mr. Xanatos...truly wants to change."

Talon straightened out, shocked by these words coming from his wife's own mouth, and
then leaned directly into Maggie's face, his thin retina slits on fire with the pain he held
within him. "I don't." He swept past her and glared to Goliath before forcefully
removing the door from his path and slipping into the darkened corridors.

Maggie sighed, and let her head fall of it's own accord, until she felt two tiny hands
pawing upon her cheek. Little Trinity was reaching out to her, caressing the soft golden
fur she possessed, and bringing a smile to her face. "You have a real gift, Trinity. To
bring happiness to those who need it. Perhaps you could do that to my stubborn,
block-headed husband."

"Don't be angry with him, Maggie," replied Goliath, "he feels what I once felt. Like his
entire world was taken away, and the one man who destroyed what he could have been, is
now befriending his own family. He has every right to be angry, I just thought, we could
finally wipe the slate clean, and start anew."

"That won't happen when he comes to terms with what has befallen him."

Goliath crept closer, reaching with his talons to Maggie's face, and lifting her gaze to his.
"Have you?"

"It's taken me a long time, and a lot a of courage to accept the fact I might never be
human again. But what I have found with Derek, and Claw and Sharon, and you and
Elisa, and the rest of the clan...is something I don't think I could live without. You are
my family. And everything I have heard that Xanatos has done for you...shows me that
maybe it's time...to forgive..."

"And Derek?"

"He has to work through this. On his own. Or he'll forever be haunted by his own anger,
for the rest of his life."

****************************************

"Damn her!!" he yelled, scraping his clawed hands down the cement walls of his home.
"How could she...they...even consider forgiving that bastard?! I won't let him have the
satisfaction of watching me crawling back to him, telling him that I'm okay with
everything he's done!!" He let loose his rage, and a jolt of electricity traveled the length
of his arms, and impacted with the wall, sending chunks of stone and cement flying in all
directions. "Damn!!"

The flash of blinding light sent down the corridor in a twirling pirouette had caught
another of the Labyrinth dwellers' attention, and soon a shadowed figure silently
journeyed to where Talon had left himself resting against the wall, his hands still
clenched within the cement. A furred hand came down tenderly on the shoulder of his
leader, and soon a pair of golden glowing eyes were placed to a tiger skinned mutate.

"Hey, Claw..."

The silent mutate tilted his head and displayed with nothing but a expressive facial cast,
that he was inquiring of his friend's health.

"I'm fine, I suppose. Claw," he turned to face the slightly taller cat creature, "do you
ever think of...forgiving Xanatos?"

Claw grimaced and clenched his fists, pulling his hands apart in a ripping gesture. He
growled quietly and effectively showed off a loathing for the billionaire.

"Yeah, me too. What say we go have a little talk with Mr. Xanatos, and clearly express
our feelings for the 'wondrous benefactor' who is supposedly ashamed of what he did."
Talon announced, the biting sarcasm apparent in his tone.

Claw nodded, and they both left the corridor, heading for the exit closest to the Eyrie
building.

****************************************

"Oh, man!! That was amazing!" called an enthusiastic Elisa, as she tromped through the
squadroom doors, covered from head to toe in patches of black mud, having dried and
caked to her clothes and skin. "I haven't chased a guy that long for months!!"

"Oh, yeah," huffed Matt behind her, staggering through the doors with even more mud
and a pronounced limp, "that was just fantastic..."

"Oh come on, Bluestone, you know you missed me as your partner."

It was now Matt's turn to glare at her, knowing this was in part her revenge for the earlier
surprise. They had started out on a routine call, and wound up scaling fences and
sprinting through cluttered alleyways in chase of their prey, with Elisa loving every single
minute. And now, nearing the end of her shortened shift, they decided to come in off the
streets and finish their nightly reports. "Yeah, as much as I loved being called away for
that damn inquiry by the Illuminati." he muttered silently.

As Elisa took her place at her desk, she noticed a shadow looming over the top of her
computer. Dark cinnamon eyes peered up over the monitor to see Iliana once again
skulking around her desk, and her staring directly to the raven haired detective. "Iliana,
you've been looking at me weird all night." she growled, becoming annoyed now at an
attitude so eerily similar to her own. "What do you want?"

"Nothing," she replied apathetically, "just making sure you're having no trouble in
getting back to work."

"All right..." Elisa resumed her typing and continued her work for another five minutes
until she noticed that the shadow belonging to the rookie detective had not left.
"What?!"

"What does your baby look like?" she shot out, slapping both hands down on Elisa's
desk.

"She looks like a baby."

Iliana sneered, and thinned her eyes. "You know what I mean."

"Well, she has my brown eyes, my black hair, my skin and features..."

"Does she have any of her father's attributes?"

"Uh, yeah...a few."

"Come on, Elisa," she whined, clasping her hands together to beg, "I want to see her."

"Sorry, Starr. With some of the high profile and sometimes controversial people I'm
forced to protect, and a lot of dangerous criminals I've put away over the years, my
family can be thrust into the spotlight and even be subjected to danger. And I intend to
keep my husband and daughter safe from the public eye, even if it means having to hide
them from some of my closest friends." Elisa snapped her gaze through what stray hairs
fell to her left side, inwardly pleased at a very plausible and actually partially true excuse
to keep her gargoyle family protected. "Got it?"

"Got it." Iliana answered back, slowly turning around and slinking away from Elisa's
desk. Iliana moved to her own desk, though she always thought it was a pale comparison
to the others in this room. Small, shabby, and a drab brown tint, she dropped into her
chair and slumped on top of the disorderly surface. "So, she refuses to show me, or
anyone else for that matter, her baby girl. Maza seems like the one who would brag
about her daughter until she lost her voice. What is she hiding? Is she horribly
deformed? Nah, with Elisa as her mother and the way the others talk about her husband,
she's probably as cute as hell, and will grow up into a sexbomb." Iliana clicked her eyes
to Elisa's stead. "Well, being the most annoying and curious, and of course, cutest
rookie detective in the twenty-third, I think I'll put my skills to use and find out just what
you're hiding. The Eyrie building...I wonder which apartment she lives in? Because I
think it's time to pay a visit..."

****************************************

The Eyrie building, home to castle Wyvern, and a family unlike any else in this world.
David Xanatos had been chained to his desk now for hours, pulling the strings of his
massive company with just the phone and a fax machine. A relatively quiet night and a
chance to catch up on his affairs stretching across the entire length of the globe.

Yet, a subdued beeping would catch his ear, and his monitor automatically switched on,
his newly upgraded security system alerting him to any unknown intruders. His eyes
peered upon the screen, and he caught sight of two silhouetted shapes against the bare
heavens.

Yet these shapes were definitely known to him, as he had programmed his computer
systems to recognize every member of the clan and the extended family, especially these
unique visitors' presence in the castle's surrounding airspace. "Interesting." he
whispered, knowing that within a few minutes, his office would be graced by two men,
who wanted nothing more than to tear his beating heart from his chest.

SLAM!!!

They were early. His mahogany double doors were practically torn open, as the two
angered mutates breached his office and stalked towards him. Talon led the charge, with
Claw behind him. The panther mutate stopped at the edge of Xanatos' desk, and if the
billionaire was frightened, it never showed.

"Mr. Maza," he greeted Talon indifferently, "what can I do for you?"

"Cut the bullshit, Xanatos." he snarled, unwilling to even allow the man his chance to
speak. "I had an interesting talk with Goliath earlier tonight. It seems he wanted me to
forgive you, for everything you've done to me, my wife, and my family."

"Intriguing."

"Isn't it?" Talon struck back, actually forming his muzzle into a twisted smile, filled with
malice and hatred. "He wants us all to be one big, happy family...well, guess what,
Xanatos. I do not. It takes every single ounce of willpower I have to keep from tearing
your face off."

"And I thank you for that." Xanatos replied calmly.

"Shut your mouth, rich man!! I will never, ever forgive you for what you did. You may
have blinded Goliath, the clan, even Elisa and Maggie to what you really are. But not
me. If I ever hear your voice again, if I ever see your face again, if you ever come in
close contact with any of my family again, including Elisa and Trinity...I will kill you.
Have a good night, Mr. Xanatos." Talon rose up and turned to leave, leaving Claw to
glare at Xanatos, until he too followed Talon's lead and left through the office doors.

Xanatos remained silent for a long time, and as he watched the mutates take to the sky
once more and disappear from his sight, he buried his face in his hands. A slight
trembling streaked throughout him, and he strengthened his resolve to keep his hands
from shaking. "So much anger, so much pain," he whispered, "this is what I gave to
them. This is what I forced upon four innocent people, because of my greed, and an
inability to feel."

"Untrue, Mr. Xanatos." responded an unearthly voice. "You have grown beyond the
David Xanatos I knew six years ago, and have enriched hundreds, thousands of lives
because of your capacity to evolve into something greater than what you once were." It
was Owen Burnett, having entered unnoticed and now stood at Xanatos' side.

"I take it you heard the conversation."

"Yes. Derek Maza is angry, so is Claw. But in time, they will find a way to deal with
their pain."

"Not good enough, Owen. You heard the contempt in his voice, and the pain the entire
Maza family holds because of me. No, it's not good enough to wait and hope he'll
relinquish the anger directed to me. I know full well what anger can do to somebody.
It's like a cancer, a disease, with no cure, and no hope. He doesn't deserve to live this
way...none of them do." Xanatos stood up and straightened his suit, staring into the
lifeless eyes of his majordomo. "Prepare the spell."

"Are you sure about this, Mr. Xanatos?" Owen asked, standing as stiff as a corpse, even
with the entrapped spirit of Puck inside of him. "Your family..."

"Has been informed. Tonight's conversation was the catalyst. It's time to erase the last
mistake. Please, Owen, prepare the spell." he announced, an order demanded to be
followed, and he knew his faithful assistant, his good friend, would heed his wishes.

Owen Burnett left the office in his quest to fulfill what his employer wanted of him, and
closed the doors behind him.

Xanatos heard the doors snap together, and he let his emotional guard falter somewhat.
His eyes glistened with raw passion, and he steadied his breaths, filling his eyes with
memories of his beautiful wife and son. "The mutates will be free of my curse. I'm
going to cure them, even if it costs me my life..."

And our story continues...