40 - "The Cure: Part 1"
Originally Written: January 25th, 2001

Author's Note: Yeah, I know, this title has been used before, on numerous occasions, but,
nothing else seemed to fit as perfectly.

May 2nd, 2001
"I can't believe you even considered asking him such a thing?!" cried Elisa, as she threw
her jacket to the bedspread, and slumped beside it. "You of all people know how Derek
feels about that man!"

"I felt it may be time," Goliath answered soberly, his tone sedate and a perfect
contradiction to Elisa's angered ranting, "I felt he may welcome the chance to release his
pain, and go on with his life."

A day later, after Goliath's journey to the depths of the Labyrinth, and his heated
discussion with Talon, Derek Maza, the elected leader of the mutates, the lavender giant
had at last informed his wife of what had transpired. Her shortened shift had been
completed, and she rushed home only to find the bedroom emptied of her daughter's
presence, and Goliath waiting for her. He had fumbled with how to tackle the precarious
subject with his wife, and decided to wait until a later time to tell her. That time was
now, almost exactly twenty four hours afterwards.

Elisa knew Goliath was lingering for her response, yet she never looked back, instead
electing to cross a leg and slouch into a more comfortable position. A heavy sigh
escaped, and within the warmed air lay a spite which Goliath clearly picked up on. "You
didn't actually expect him to say yes, did you?" she asked, finally directing her eyes to
his.

"I expected the response I was given, but not from Maggie."

"Unbelievable. She of all people...ready to forgive the man who turned her into a
bat-winged mutate." Elisa slowly shook her head in disbelief, her eyes rife with a
confusion of feelings, focusing on her sister-in-law.

"To hang on to a hatred for so long is tiring," Goliath spoke up, his low rumble
effectively catching his wife's attention, "I know that very well. She perhaps has
accepted her fate, and wants nothing more than to free herself of a heavy burden. To
bring peace to her troubled soul."

"It isn't that simple, Goliath." Elisa snapped, somewhat unintentionally. "Her life was
taken, and twisted, and practically destroyed. You can't let go of anger that easily. In
your own words, you know that better than anyone."

"But I have released what has plagued me. Demona, Thailog, the death of my clan. I
have liberated myself, and I feel as if a tremendous weight has been lifted from my
shoulders." Goliath took his place near her on the bed, grasping upon her hand, and
feeling the light striations of her skin and the veins beneath. "That is what Maggie
wants."

Elisa watched intently the massive lavender talons graze across her skin, and she smiled,
as the magical touch of her mate was soothing what anger remained trapped inside of her.
But she immediately snatched her hand away. "Don't. I hate when you do that. Those
damn gargoyle charms of yours." Elisa threw herself into a standing position, and
continued pacing upon the carpeted surface, escaping from Goliath's crooked smirk. "I
want to be angry at that man."

"Why?"

Elisa stopped and looked wide-eyed to Goliath, her answer frozen in the depths of her
soul. Perhaps she had no reply to give. "You want to know something funny?" she
squeaked. "I don't even know sometimes."

"You and Derek both, are hanging onto an anger that shouldn't exist anymore. You still
continue to clutch at this pain, unwilling to let go. It's as if you are afraid to allow
yourself to see him as more than the scheming billionaire villain he once was, and
attempt to blind yourself to who he is now."

"It hurts, Goliath," Elisa's voice trembled, reliving the pain associated with even the
mere mention of Xanatos' name, "it hurts to know my brother is unable to spend time
with me, just because of how he looks. It's the same with you." She slowly made her
way to Goliath's seated place, and dropped to her knees, resting against her husband's
mammoth thigh. "You were born this way, you're a gargoyle, and it's only because of
human prejudice and an inability to understand and see what beauty lies within, that we
can't be together out in public. But Derek was human, he was with me, and our family.
We went to restaurants, movies, the beach on weekends...and all that was taken away
by..."

"A grave mistake on Xanatos' part. A mistake he is trying desperately to amend."
Goliath pulled Elisa into the breadth of his chest, and she willingly accepted his pleasant
embrace. "Everything he has done, everything he has become, he is a changed man. I
would not be defending him if I did not believe this to be true. Maybe it's time for you
both, to heed your own words, to try and see what lies beneath the expensive suit and that
damnable grin. A soul in turmoil, much like that of Demona, who you seemed to have
forgiven. Why is she so different than Xanatos?"

Elisa remained silent, both annoyed at her husband's seemingly flawless logic, and the
fact she was fighting a battle waged inside of her. She would have never pictured herself
to be the one coming to David Xanatos and extending her hand in friendship. She had
now discovered why she wanted to hate him, for she wanted that hatred to protect her, to
keep her guard up, to defend her family if he ever chose to return to what he once was.
But the passage of time, five long years, a small portion of that spent under his roof, and
the billionaire had lived true to his word. A wedding, a honeymoon, a home, a beautiful,
healthy daughter, all because of David Xanatos. "Maybe..." she whispered. "But it's
just...so hard..."

"I know," Goliath assented to her heartfelt cries, "I know."

"Forgiveness is a task only reserved for the strong, Mrs. Maza," called a voice from
nowhere, "but you indeed possess such strength to overcome your fears and misgivings
about my employer."

Both Goliath and Elisa looked up to see Owen Burnett, standing in the open door to their
room, hands behind his back and standing as if a steel rod had replaced his spine.
Goliath cocked a brow ridge and Elisa scowled.

"Thanks for knocking." she huffed, propping herself up in her husband's lap, and
narrowing a gaze of chocolate to the majordomo's position.

"I apologize for trespassing, but I never would have intruded upon your privacy if this
were not important." he explained coldly, placing himself in the middle of the room.

"What is it, Owen?" Goliath asked of the disguised Fay.

"I could not help in overhearing your dialogue when approaching your bedroom doors,
and thought you would want to know of another...conversation held between Mr. Xanatos
and Talon last night."

"Derek was here?!" Elisa shot up, and perched herself onto the carpet, a quick, cat-like
stride taking her to Owen's side. "Why?! What the hell did he have to say to Xanatos?"

"It seems both he and Claw took offense to Goliath's suggestion that the mutates forgive
him."

At this, Goliath groaned, and raked a taloned hand across his face, and now possibly
regretting his decision to even bring this simple idea to the mutates.

"He seemed to be quite on edge, and actually threatened Mr. Xanatos' life, stating if he
ever came into contact with him or any of his family, he would kill him."

"Oh Jesus, Derek." Elisa sighed.

"I never wanted it to come to this, Elisa," Goliath replied, quickly nearing her side, and
placing both his hands to her shoulders, "but this only strengthens my own argument.
That Derek is becoming consumed by his own anger, to such a degree that he is willing
to kill because of it."

"Oh god. You're right, Goliath." Elisa backed into his chest, and caressed both her
hands to her husband's powerful claws. "Maybe I should talk to him. Maybe it's time..."

"Come, Elisa, let's make our way to the Labyrinth." said Goliath, as he grasped onto her
hand and directed her to the balcony doors. Elisa nodded and followed behind, as Owen
watched on. "Perhaps you can speak with him, and calm your brother enough to guide
the journey towards true peace. Both with those around him, and in his own heart." He
pulled Elisa into his arms, and pressed her tightly to his mighty chest, securing her for the
flight towards the nearest entrance to her brother's home, and his self-imposed prison.

Owen Burnett peered upon the silhouette of a gargoyle in flight, growing increasingly
smaller and fading into the veil of thin clouds, and the stars above. He pulled his
cellphone from his suit pocket and dialed a particular number, waiting for a voice to
answer at the other end. "Yes, they have left, and are heading for the Labyrinth.
Everything is going as planned, Mr. Xanatos."

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

Goliath's wings fluttered slightly, as he followed behind the slender detective to the main
doors of the Labyrinth. She stalked the sewer tunnels with instinct, knowing this path
from heart and memory, having taken this trail many times to visit her younger brother.
They appeared shortly before the massive doors leading into the inner sanctum of the
mutates' home, and Elisa wasted no time in punching in her code to open the doors and
slipping through the sliding barriers of steel.

"Derek?!" she called, an anger inherent in her voice. "Where are you, furball?!" She
climbed up onto the platform and headed for the main living quarters, her pace hurried
and deliberate, her thin eyes bold, resistive. "Derek?!!"

"Elisa?" Maggie had appeared from an adjoining room, her golden gaze settling on the
raven haired detective and her lavender husband. "What's wrong?"

"Where's Derek?" she asked, nearing her sister-in-law, her very body language tensed,
and letting anyone who may lay eyes on her, that she was not in the best of moods.

"Right here, sis..." Talon edged up behind his wife, and cocked a head to his older sister.
He then set his sights upon Goliath, and his smile fell somewhat. "Goliath."

"What the hell is wrong with you?!" Elisa bellowed, poking a few slender fingers into
Talon's tunic.

"What are you talking about?"

"You don't remember threatening Xanatos' life last night?"

Derek walked past his wife and stood face to face with Elisa. "Oh, I do remember. And
I don't apologize for anything I said."

"This is getting out of hand now. You actually would consider killing another man."

"Xanatos isn't a man. He's a soulless monster."

"Not anymore."

Derek clenched his teeth, releasing a hot breath through his fangs. "First Goliath, then
Maggie...and now you. I thought you would be strong enough to resist that bastard's
little magic spells. The way he keeps getting to everyone of my family, and somehow
becoming friends with them."

"He deserves praise for what he's done."

"This is what he's done!!" Talon roared, clutching a hand to his chest, and pointing to
Maggie behind him. "And you defend him!"

"I suffered too, at Xanatos' hands. We all did. But maybe, Derek, it's time to forgive."

"NEVER!!!" he bellowed, loud enough to call attention to his rants from both Claw and
Sharon, and with enough malice to elicit a defensive stance from Goliath. Even Maggie
moved back, her entire body trembling with fear, as Sharon came to her side.

Elisa opened her eyes to her brother's angry mannerisms, his eyes glowing, his ears
flattened back behind his head, as if a wild animal preparing for the attack. "Look at
you! Look at what you've become."

"Xanatos did this!! Xanatos did this all!!" Talon swept to the other mutates' sides,
delivering all eyes to what had become of four simple, innocent humans. "Look at us,
Elisa. Remember what he did, and then try to defend him."

Elisa let loose a small chuckle, as she shook her head. She paced about the room they
were gathered in, eventually forming a perfect circle, and coming back to Derek's
position. "You remember our talks, Derek. Late at night, when we were young. How
we would talk about our lives, and our future. How you said you wanted to fly planes
and helicopters, and I wanted to follow in dad's footsteps. How I told you I wanted
someday to have a family. Children." Elisa's eyes met her brother's own feline slits, and
she bored into him, displaying what power and determination lay inside the glistening
pools of chocolate. "I have three words for you, furball. Trinity. Hope. Maza."

Talon drew back, upon the mention of his niece's name.

"Without Xanatos to provide the best doctors, and the best medical care, and a home for
her to grow up in safety...I shudder to think what could have happened to my baby girl.
That innocent, beautiful girl who has a real chance at a real life...because of David
Xanatos."

"And because of David Xanatos, there will be no cousins for her to play with." Derek
fought back, his own pain resonating on every single word. "Because of what he did to
us, we can never have children."

"That's not true." A small voice cried out behind Talon, and he turned to find Maggie
approaching him, a timid gait to catch his hand in her own fur-covered paw. "We both
know that pregnancy is a reality, as Dr. Goldblum told us. We are capable of having a
child."

"A child who would be covered in fur, and have two wings growing from it's back. A
freak, a monster, just like us."

"Is that how you think of Trinity?" she asked of him.

Talon finally realized the extent of his ill-chosen words, that almost described his niece
in perfect clarity in the words of the bigots and racists who would rather see her dead. A
small baby girl who, despite her unique appearance, was more beautiful to him than any
other child he had ever seen. "N-No...of course not..."

"She has wings, a tail, spikes, claws, but she is still so beautiful, so precious. We could
still have a family, and even if they turned out like us, we would still love them, care for
them, read them stories, sing them to sleep when they get cranky..."

"Derek, I know it hurts," Elisa cut in, "I know you go every day, carrying this pain inside
of you. I do that too. So does Goliath. So have the rest of us. But to be given the
chance to release this pain that's slowly eating away at you, is something you should
really consider."

"No..." Derek cried softly, his voice barely above a hoarse whisper. "Never. As long as I
have breath in my lungs, he will never have my forgiveness."

Elisa's features fell, as her brother's words assured an eerie finality to the entire
conversation. She released her hands from around his arm, and backed away. "I'm sorry
to hear that. I'm sorry you wish to live with this self-imposed torment. I'm sorry to hear
my brother is truly dead, and only Talon remains."

"You can thank Xanatos for that...detective Maza."

"Derek!" Maggie called out, as brother and sister squared off in a war of angered stares.
"She's your sister."

"I'm not so sure anymore. Someone who would side with the man who stole my very
humanity, is no one I would care to call sister." He turned back to Elisa, held in
Goliath's strong arms. "I think you should leave. Now."

"You should listen to her," warned Goliath, his grating threat unnerving all gathered
there, "she only has your best interests at heart. And we both know she is rarely ever
wrong."

"I thought that once too."

"If you would have listened to her six years ago, you would still be human."

Talon growled and lunged forwards, his fur bristling with a seething anger. "Cheap shot,
Goliath..."

"But true none the less. She has always wanted only for you to be happy, and safe. It has
not changed." His hands tightened about Elisa's frame, and he lowered his head to her
level. "I think it best we leave, Elisa. We cannot do anymore here."

"On the contrary," a voice called out and every mutate, gargoyle and human turned to see
Xanatos emerging through a tunnel into the room, "I hoped you would be witness to my
greatest triumph."

"XANATOS!!!" Talon bellowed, upon seeing what filled his heart with malice and rage.
He snapped into a flying leap, his own claws ready for the kill. But Goliath was there to
stop him, holding the mutate at bay. "How'd you get in here?!!"

"Thank you, Goliath." Xanatos stepped closer, seeing Talon forcibly restrained by
Goliath. "I came through when Goliath and Elisa entered, and I do apologize for my
transgression. I am well aware of our last words, Mr. Maza, but I cannot effectively cure
your condition without having you in my presence."

Talon ceased his struggling against the lavender giant's grip of steel, the words he
thought may be a hoax, yet still holding his attention to the billionaire. "What?"

"A...cure?" Maggie whispered.

"Yes, Mrs. Maza. A cure." Xanatos echoed her words, as he watched the other mutates
peer upon each other with wide eyes, filled with both hope and skepticism at the words
they had so hoped to hear.

"You said that before, rich man!" Talon yelled from Goliath's arms. "And it was a lie!"

"Not this time, Derek."

"Maybe you should elaborate before my brother rips your head from your body." Elisa
drawled, sending a cocked eyebrow and the famous Maza grin his way.

"Of course, detective. After years of searching, I stumbled upon a spell, buried within an
old book I recently purchased from a small company dealing in ancient tomes. A spell of
energy transference, which just may suit our needs." Xanatos walked around the length
of the room, deliberately taking his time, and unintentionally incensing both Talon and
Claw's temperaments. "It seems the transference also doubles as a purification spell. A
large fragment of pure life energy taken from a healthful host will purge the mutated
cells and leave your bodies in their original state. You will be as you once
were...human."

"You're lying..." Talon snarled.

"No...I am not. This spell is real, and I believe it has a very high chance of success."

"Are you sure? Is this real?" Maggie came forward, standing mere inches from Xanatos.
"You're not lying?"

"I give you my word, Mrs. Maza. And David Xanatos never breaks his word."

"And who is to be the host?" Elisa asked. "Who will give up all this energy?"

"Me, of course. The spell requires a healthy specimen. And my genes are of the highest
quality and pedigree." Xanatos smirked, causing Elisa to simply shake her head.

"I'd rather die than take anything else from you, bastard!!" Talon screeched. "I'd rather
stay a monster than have you as my 'savior'!"

"And what about the rest of us?" Maggie snapped back to her husband, with Sharon and
Claw nearing her side. "We deserve to have the chance at a normal life, even if the cure
comes from David Xanatos. Don't you see, Derek? He wants to help us. He wants to
change. Why can't you open your stubborn eyes and accept that!!"

"No!! It's another trick! It's always another trick!!" Talon grasped onto Goliath's arm,
sending a streak of pure energy through the lavender giant's body. Electricity surged
through Goliath's every nerve ending, inflaming his muscles and flesh, and the gargoyle
was thrown back away from the panther mutate. Elisa rushed to her husband's aid as
Talon charged forward, towards Xanatos. He pushed his wife aside and grabbed the
collar on Xanatos' suit, lifting the billionaire off his feet. "I won't let you hurt any of us
again, Xanatos!"

"I'm sorry, but you have no choice in the matter, because the spell has already been cast,
and needs only something to guide the energy transference. And I believe this will do..."
He pulled a small device from his pocket, and gave Talon a sight of his gleaming eyes
before pressing the small machine to his chest, adhering to his suit. "I hope in time you
will find the ability to forgive me, Derek, but if not, this will at least set you free from
what I imposed upon you. I would have hoped to cure Fang as well, but he made his
choice long ago. Now, all the spell needs...is the trigger word." The billionaire's eyes
grew as hard as the steel surrounding him, and Talon and Xanatos were lost in a world of
their own, made of anger, and torment, in which one had caused immeasurable suffering,
and one had bore the pain for his mistake. And now one choice would be made, to make
things right at long last. "Redemption."

With his final words uttered, the room lit up, as the purest white light burst from
Xanatos' chest, flowing through the small device, and hitting Talon square in his torso.
The panther mutate was struck point blank by a massive surge of energy, and he was sent
sprawling to the floor, and collided with the other feline mutates. Soon, all four were in
a heap on the tiled floor, enveloped in a spherical shield of energy.

Elisa and Goliath could only watch from their position, the mutates writhing in agony, as
the energy permeated every cell in their body, and boiled their very blood. Maggie
screamed in pain, clutching to Talon's body. Sharon curled into a fetal position, and
Claw tore into the cement ground with his talons. Xanatos fell to his knees, screaming
his anguish to all corners of the entire Labyrinth, as the energy was drained from his
body, and continuously flowed into the four mutates across from him.

Talon forced open his eyes, and fought through the incessant pain to see his own hand
held before his eyes. The raven fur fell away from his skin, leaving the light chocolate
brown of his African ancestry. His muzzle pushed back in, and the fangs he once had
grown so used to, had reverted to human canines. His wings shriveled and were
forcefully pulled back into his body. Through it all, he noticed his wife below him, and a
glorious white skin slowly being revealed as her golden pelt disappeared.

The energy was dying away, and as Xanatos' own body grew weak and frail, he found he
no longer possessed the strength to even hold himself up. He met the cold floor with a
sickening thud, and his last sight was of the four humans near him, before slowly fading
to black.

The energy died away, leaving a waft of steam from each body to curl into the room, and
dissipate slowly upon contact with the ceiling. Talon was the first to stir, groggily
pulling himself from the floor, and blinking his eyes to restore the sight. He noticed
movement brushing aside his body, and he looked down into the eyes of a young woman,
with long blond hair, and glowing ivory skin. "M-Maggie?"

The woman cocked her head, and responded to the name called out to her by the young
dark-skinned man staring down on her. "Derek?"

"Oh my god...it worked...it worked!!" He snatched Maggie into his arms, and reveled in
the soft skin of the woman he loved, almost laughing out loud in the fact he realized just
how much he missed the feeling of her soft fur hide. "We're human!!"

"Wha?..." Sharon woke next, and found her frosted skin had returned to it's natural
color. She latched on to the couple and squeezed tight, as they beheld the sight of the
restored Asian woman. "We're human! Oh god...Claw?!" She realized just who was
missing, and whirled around, only to find a stocky white male, with short hair of a
flaming orange tint. "Claw?" She reached out for him, and upon touching his skin, he
jerked and snapped his gaze to Sharon.

His mouth was left wide open, and he stared intently to the trio of restored humans. His
entire body trembled, perhaps from the excitement of being human once more, and a
hidden fear of ever being cured. "...hu...man..." he squeaked, the first words spoken in
six years.

"Claw?" Sharon gasped, surprised he wasn't a mute by the effects of the mutagen, but
only by choice. "You spoke..."

"...sss-sharrron..." His voice was untested, weak from disuse, and he pitched forwards,
into Sharon's awaiting arms.

She met the large, muscular man with her smaller body, and stole her arms around his
massive frame. "It's okay...we're okay now." She looked down on him, and a handsome
countenance fell within her eyes, a face to match the gentle soul she had come to treasure
and love. "We're all okay."

"I'll say." Derek agreed cheerfully, brushing a hand past his ear, and the short bristle of
his ebony hair. "Maggie, I never knew you were..."

"What?" she answered in a mirthful cry. "So beautiful?"

"White."

She flashed a grin and playfully slapped him on the arm, then threw herself into his
embrace, delving into his warm, human body. Her eyes were teared, as the sweet liquid
of her utmost joy cascaded down her cheeks, and through the blurred vision, she caught
Elisa and Goliath staring in disbelief. "Well, sis," she called to Elisa, "how do I look?"

"A-Amazing..." Elisa stuttered out, rising in Goliath's arms, and slowly making her way
to her sister-in-law's side. "You guys look fantastic!!"

Derek wrapped around her, and gazed down to her with his now human eyes, a cinnamon
swirl so much like her own. "I am treating you to lunch in the city, big sis." he laughed
to her.

"With what? You haven't had a job for six years." she teased, throwing a punch to his
arm.

He laughed back, and hugged his big sister with all the strength he could summon.
"Thank you. I'm so sorry for everything I said. I'm so sorry..."

"I know. You were angry. But it's over. You can start over. All of you." She rose up
and cupped each hand to Derek's cheeks, forcing his eyes on hers. "Starting with
Xanatos."

"Xanatos...I...I..." He suddenly remembered the billionaire's whole part in this spell, and
the entire group turned to where he had last been seen, and saw only a lavender shape
huddling over an indistinct mass. "Goliath?"

The gargoyle turned with sad eyes to the Labyrinth dwellers, and a grim cast shrouded his
noble features. "I think...he may be dying..." he said simply, and sorrowfully.

The others rushed to the billionaire's side, with Derek intentionally following behind,
and Maggie gasped at the sight. David Xanatos had been drained of his very life, the
energy which had sustained him, and now only a withered shell was left. His skin was
pale, almost a solemn gray. He looked as if he had lost nearly seventy pounds in a
terrifying instant, his expensive designer suit hanging from bones seeming to pierce
through the sickly hide. His eyes were deep set and closed, fixed amidst darkened
patches of dying skin.

"Mr. Xanatos..." Maggie wheezed, seeing death firsthand before her young eyes. "Is
he?"

Elisa crept two fingers to the side of his neck, feeling for any sign of life. A small gasp
escaped from her lips, when she found a weak pulse. "He's still alive. But, it doesn't
look like for long."

"We need to get him to a hospital," Goliath interjected, "immediately."

"That will not be necessary, Goliath." The group turned to see Owen Burnett, appearing
from the same tunnel Xanatos had used. "I was fully prepared for this. It's surprising
that he actually persevered through the spell's effects." Owen leaned down and ran his
hand over Xanatos' neck, and swathed lightly across his forehead. "It seems I
underestimated his strength and his will to survive."

"You knew about this?" Elisa asked incredulously. "And you actually let him do this?"

"Mr. Xanatos does what he pleases. I am not his keeper. And besides, it seems the spell
was a total success, and Mr. Xanatos is still alive. Now, if you please, Goliath, I have
doctors Pierce and Weathers standing by at the Eyrie building. Could you please
transport him back with us? I suggest your brother and his companions come as well.
They all should receive full medical examinations to check for any anomalous
side-effects from the spell. I have the limousine waiting outside. Time is of the
essence." The majordomo slipped the cellphone from his suit and headed away from the
group, leaving Goliath to tenderly lift Xanatos into his arms and follow behind.

Elisa gestured to the others to accompany her as she made her way through the tunnel.
Maggie pulled Derek along, and Sharon guided Claw as she curled around his muscular
arm. They left behind their home, having dwelled here for the past six years, and headed
into the darkness, their collective thoughts all centered on the dying billionaire laying
limp in Goliath's arms.

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

"Okay, Trish, let's get an I.V. in him and start taking blood samples." Dr. Pierce shouted
orders to his colleague as they rushed down the hallway of the Eyrie's medical wing, with
David Xanatos in the stretcher. "We have no time to lose." The two doctors rolled the
billionaire into the examination lab, and pushed him to the nearest bed. With a quick
tug, they lifted the frail body onto the starched sheets, and continued to plug machine
after machine, and cord after cord into this awaiting body.

Having followed behind was Fox, now near the room's edge, and watching her husband
become nothing more than the extension of the cold hand of technology. Alexander
clutched to her leg, the tears no longer held at bay, and being forced to witness his
father's very aura fade from his rare magical senses.

Goliath remained in the hall, with the gathered clan, Elisa, and the restored mutates.
They lingered near the doorway and peered through the window, as the doctors
frantically raced about the room, draining the fluid from Xanatos' body, in order to find
what could possibly cure him.

The restored human quartet had been given older clothes to wear, and were still finding
their own bodies almost alien to them. Discovering the feeling of bare skin, and sunken
human faces. Maggie stayed latched to her husband, and Sharon was busy whispering in
Claw's ear, attempting to coax him to speak, to hear his voice once more. Yet he stayed
silent, and found himself hanging his head, shying away from any contact, save Sharon.

"Derek?!!" A frantic voice echoed down the corridor, and the entire clan found Diane
and Peter Maza came screeching around the corner, and set their sights on their son. "Oh
god...it's true. You're human!!"

Derek rose from his seat and ran into the awaiting arms of his parents, and burying
himself in their massive bearhug. "Hey, mom, dad. So, what do you think?"

"You look beautiful." Diane answered, grazing her soft hands to his face.

"And what about me?" They all turned to see Maggie waving to them, wearing a pair of
worn jeans and an oversized sweater, loaned to her from Elisa. "How do you like my
new appearance?"

"Oh, Maggie, you look wonderful as well." Diane rushed to her and seized her
daughter-in-law in another hug, squeezing the breath from her body. The entire Maza
family reunited in love and friendship, with the clan watching on.

All except Goliath, whose eyes could not be torn from the bedridden billionaire, and his
grieving wife. He crept into the room, and a lavender hand brushed across Fox's
shoulder. "He will be all right." he assured her. "I have never met any human, besides
Elisa, with as much will and determination to live as David Xanatos."

Fox leaned in to his hand, finding the warmth flowing through him inviting, and pulled it
closer to her face. Her skin was cold, clammy, as if she was dying as well. "I hope so."
she rasped, spilling tears of sorrow over Goliath's lavender skin. "I can't lose him now.
Not now."

"You won't, Fox. We'll find a way."

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

May 3rd, 2001
"Any change?" asked Goliath, having immediately after sunset, rushed to the Eyrie's
medical wing, and inquiring upon his comrade's condition.

Dr. Pierce, having slumped onto the examination table, a victim of much needed
slumber, languidly rose from his chair, and rubbed his brow. "Nothing." he answered,
his voice abraded, due to lack of moisture. "He's slowly declining in health, and I can't
tell why."

Goliath approached the billionaire's bedside, and gazed down upon the sickly man. His
skin was as pallid as the white sheets which covered his feeble body, and his laggard
breathing was aided by a respirator.

"Physically, there's nothing wrong with him, except for the fact he's malnourished. But
even with constant feeding intravenously, it isn't helping at all. He's still losing weight
and strength...he hasn't even regained consciousness yet. I don't know if he ever will.
It's as if the very energy was torn from him. Whatever that spell was...it was a doozy."

"Indeed." Goliath replied. "But he cured the others. How do they fare?"

"Human. Every single one of them." Dr. Pierce forced a smile, for the brighter side of
his patient's ailment, had remedied the mutates' condition. "They are perfectly healthy
human beings now. Without even a trace of the mutagen. Dr. Goldblum gave them all
clean bills of health. Except..."

"For?"

"This...this spell, could only be masking any lingering remnants of mutagen in their
bodies, that our scans missed. If it ever were to...wear off..."

"Would they revert?"

"I can't answer that." Dr. Pierce sighed. "But the funny thing is, they still have traces of
unusually large amounts of, well, electric current flowing through them. They may still
possess the ability to form electrical shocks from time to time, though substantially
reduced in power. But if they ever get mugged, they have a built in taser." He chuckled
beneath his breath, causing a smile to at last form on Goliath's etched facade as well.

"Hopefully, they now have their entire lives ahead of them, and are free. I wish them
well. Have they...have they been here to visit?"

"Uh...no."

"Why?" asked a voice from the side of the room. "Why would any of them take time to
visit the man who cursed them?" It was Fox, as she slowly encroached on her husband's
side, taking the chair and placing herself into the plastic seat.

"Fox..." Goliath started, "they have all been through a lot, and need time to acclimate to
their new situation. They do care for him."

"Maybe some of them."

"Derek will come around. He can finally deal with the pain he has carried, now that he is
human."

"Maybe...Goliath? Dr. Pierce? Can I...be alone with him for a while?"

"Of course. I'll be up in the castle if you need me."

"And I'll be in the lab, studying his blood samples." Dr. Pierce replied. "Maybe
something I've missed will turn up."

They both left Fox there, sitting silently beside her dying husband. She crossed her arms
and leaned near him, her lower lip trembling with her resounding pain she wished no one
to witness.

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

"So, what are you guys going to do first?" asked Elisa, perched on her bed, and watching
her brother and sister-in-law trying on clothes that once could never fit them. The Mazas
had saved all of Derek's old clothing, stored away in hopes he would need them again.

"Well, I'm going to go to the best restaurant in Manhattan," Derek replied, pulling out a
favored sweater, received from the police academy, "and get the biggest, juiciest steak
they can fry up."

"And I'm going on a shopping spree," Maggie cheered, fiddling with her dress in front of
the full length mirror, "now that I have my...figure back."

"Damn straight, kitten." replied Derek wryly, as he crept up behind his wife and ran his
hands over the lower part of her back.

"Whoa!!" she screamed in pleasure, as she felt herself being thrown into her husband's
arms, and the couple twirled around the carpeting, a dance of joy and well-being, having
perhaps freed themselves from years of pain and anguish.

Elisa smiled, and watched her baby daughter beside her clap and cheer, held in Delilah's
arms. The young clone watched with fascination, a couple whom she had never met, yet
knew with every beat of her heart. She had been on patrol the past night with Shadow,
and only made it back before dawn's light to Wyvern's cornices, to see a strange group of
humans waiting on her return. As the light stole upon the horizon, and trapped her in
stone, she only heard the voice of Maggie calling out to her, and wishing her sweet
dreams.

She awakened to them once more, and found a recollection of what only old pictures had
shown her of Derek's human appearance. They were reunited with their clone friend, she
who had shared their lives underneath the streets, and above the clouds. And now, the
young gargess followed them everywhere, filling her eyes with their every move and
action, as they reclaimed their former lives.

Yet something caught Elisa's attention now as she watched her clone, her daughter, a
nagging feeling in the back of her skull, a sharpened sense, and the skills of a detective
telling her that something lay beneath Delilah's show of support for the restored humans.

Turning back to her brother, her bright smile faded slightly, and she asked him of their
companions, "Derek? Where's Sharon and Claw?"

"They're in another room, down the hall," he answered, digging back into the large
cardboard box and discovering anew his wardrobe long forgotten, "Sharon wanted some
privacy. He's...he's not taking being human so well."

"Why not?" replied Delilah. "I thought he would happy to be human again."

"So did I. But..." he paused, directing his eyes to the clone, and attempting to form
words that would accurately describe his friend's emotional state. "He's always hid from
us his past, and as long as I've known him, has never uttered a single word. Except
yesterday, when we were cured."

"Why?"

"I don't know, Dee. Perhaps the trauma of being turned into a mutate was too hard on
him, and he decided to seal himself away, from a lot of contact with others."

Elisa started shaking her head. "No," she muttered, "there's something else. The three
of you were able to adjust and almost accept what you had become. Claw must have
experienced something different from the rest of you, and maybe it was too horrible for
him to face, or even speak about it. Last night, I saw not happiness to be human, only a
revulsion, a fear..."

"Of being human?" Maggie asked. "But he wanted to be cured as much as I did..."

"Maybe..."

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

"Claw?" Sharon whispered to him, coming to a rest near his side.

The large human had placed himself on the edge of the bed in this spare room, and had
retreated inwards in both body and spirit. His muscular form had been barely covered by
a tight shirt and jeans, and he continued rubbing his hands about his short red hair. He
blinked in a slow and steady pace, and his eyes bored into the floor beneath him. And
even Sharon's soft tone could not rescue this gentle giant from his position.

"Claw?" she tried again, desperate to help, and wanting so to hear his voice again.
"Please talk to me. It's all right now, we're human. The nightmare's over. We can have
full lives...together."

That last word sent a chill down the larger human's spine, and he at last stirred, rising
from the bed and approaching the window facing into the city's center. His eyes were
possessed of a dark green tinge, and having been released from the mutagen's effects,
were once again left to shine with a human intelligence and grace. Yet his eyes held only
sadness, pain, anger, hatred, a confusion of conflicting emotions, and to even stare into
his dark gaze brought a sadness to his friend, now standing by his side.

"Claw? What is it? What's wrong? Whatever it is, you can tell me...you can tell me
anything. Claw?" She sighed and turned away, receiving no response.

"...thomas..." a quiet whisper ripped through the room, and Sharon whirled around to the
sound of a voice that had barely taken breath for six long years. "...my name...is
Thomas..."

Sharon swelled into a smile. "A wonderful name."

"...not so wonderful..." he answered back, never tearing his eyes from the city beyond the
glass.

"What's wrong, Cl...Thomas?" She guided her hands to his, and a softened feminine
skin glided about his own hands and fingers. "You know you can tell me anything. I
want to help you. I want to...be with you...now that we have a chance to live our lives
back in the real world."

The former mutate forcefully ripped his hands away, and swiveled around, walking away
from the smaller woman in a faltering tread. "...no...you don't..."

"That's not true!" she yelled to him, attempting to cut off his escape. "I care for you.
We've been through so much in the last few years." Her hands found their way to the
sides of his face, grazing over his rough features, and tracing the shape of his imposed
scowl.

But he caught them and pushed her away from him. "...no..." A simple answer which
tore into Sharon's heart, and the large man headed towards the door. "...you don't want
to be...with a murderer..." He left, disappearing into a maze of stone corridors, and
medieval armaments.

Sharon sank to the bed, unable to hold herself on her own feet. She now knew why he
had never shared his past with her, yet she refused to believe that beating beneath his
chest and inside the man she had fallen for, was the heart of a murderer.


To be continued...