By Kimberly T.
note: This is a companion piece to "The Facts of Life", set three nights later in the timeline. Rated PG-13 for mature themes.
Standard Disclaimer: Gargoyles characters and concepts are not mine, I just borrowed them to write this, Mr. Disney please don't sue me.
"Alas, Poor Hudson! I knew him well..." Hudson chuckled to himself as he held the stone head resembling him up in one hand, before settling it proudly on the shelf of the gargoyles' new living quarters. Goliath had given his approval for scavenging their old home for their belongings, and he'd found that this stone head, his souvenir from the time Xanatos had kidnapped him and left a statue in his place, had survived the blast that had destroyed the clocktower.
Most of the clan's other possessions had not survived, including the television and Lexington's precious Nintendo. Lexington hadn't seemed too unhappy about that, though, not when Xanatos had recently presented him with a computer and assorted other devices that had the dear lad nearly dizzy with delight. He'd been chattering about them for half a night while they were on patrol together; Hudson had tried to understand what the new gadgets were for, but each question had led to an answer just as incomprehensible as the one before it, so he'd decided after a while to just let the chatter flow through his ears while keeping an eye out for criminals, nod his head now and then and be happy for the lad.
His stone likeness scowled out at the living quarters, looking right fierce if he did say so himself. He'd enjoy seeing the expression on Xanatos' face when he saw that head there on the shelf, a reminder of one of his past encounters with the gargoyles that did not go in his favor. They were supposedly friends now, thanks to the babe Alexander, but it wouldn't hurt to give the man a gentle reminder that the gargoyles remembered his old tricks all too well. Besides, any being, whether human, gargoyle or Fey, needed to have his tail tweaked once in a while... just to remind him not to get too full of himself.
Broadway hurried past him from the kitchens, heading for the library with a covered tray in his hands and a wide grin on his face. Another treat he'd cooked up for Angela, no doubt. Ah, young love... Hudson remembered well those sweet nights with his beloved when they were courting. Her bright smile and silvery laugh... the first time they'd danced in the air together... the night she finally chose him as her mate... watching their first egg grow in her belly... He still missed her, though she'd been dust for decades... now for centuries. But he had his memories, and an occasional glide through the Forest of Memory had been enough to sustain him all these long years alone.
As he settled into his overstuffed chair and picked up the remote control for the huge television Xanatos had provided them with, Goliath strode past heading for the roof, with a rare smile on their leader's face. Actually, those smiles had become a lot more common lately, and he had a good idea why. He wasn't normally a betting male, unlike his old rookery brother with the spikes running down his tail, but he'd be willing to bet his next three meals that Elisa and Goliath were mates now. Goliath hadn't announced anything to the clan yet, but he'd come back from his last night with her with that particular strut in his step that only a male who knew he'd most thoroughly satisfied his female could strut.
Well, it was good to have their leader happy again, rather than snapping at everyone who looked in his direction, like he had been for a while there. A sexually frustrated male who's also a clan leader can make for an unhappy clan, and he should know; as clan leader, he'd had to work hard not to let his own mateless state get the better of him, that last breeding season before he'd handed the leadership over to young Goliath. Since having Demona as Goliath's mate again was definitely out, it was good he'd found a new mate in Elisa, even if she didn't have wings and would likely never produce an egg for the clan.
He'd heard rumors of human-gargoyle pairings before, back in the old days at Wyvern. It wasn't something ye discussed on the battlements, but sometimes in the rookery or out on a slow patrol folks would get to gossiping, and he'd heard rumors involving a male in the rookery generation before his, with a serving wench from the humans' kitchens. There were rumors of pairings even before then, though he patently disbelieved the one that had the clan leader who'd forged the alliance with the first prince of Wyvern taking the prince's bride on a mating flight.
He'd decided long ago that most of those stories had no more substance than a human wine-dream, but there were likely shards of truth to some of them. Nearly every rookery generation had a few more males than females; it was understandable that eventually, a frustrated and lonely male might decide to seek solace in a female who could at least give him relief and affection, if nothing else. Pitiable, but understandable. And if relief and affection actually became true love, well, all the better for the two involved, then, so long as they kept their heads and didn't try anything daft.
He suspected that two of the Trio would start looking for mates among humans as well, once Angela made her choice. Lexington would probably find one first; he seemed to be already out of the competition for her favor, and he had the most in common with these modern humans anyway, with their love of gadgets. Sometimes, the lad acted less like a gargoyle than like a human with wings. So did Angela, with her insistence on calling Goliath her father, but that likely came of her being raised by humans.
Personal parenthood! Goliath seemed to accept the concept readily enough, but Hudson could only shake his head over it. It just wasn't the Gargoyle Way, any more than accumulating paper money was. Hatchlings belonged to all the clan, and while every hatchling had a favorite rookery keeper, saying "This one came from that one, so he/she has to be treated special by that one and only that one" struck him as absurd, a sure recipe for disaster.
Not everyone had the temperament to raise hatchlings, and a blooded warrior trying to be a rookery keeper instead would likely make both himself and his offspring miserable. Besides, in the ten years between laying and hatching, more than one breeding pair would likely fly into Death's talons, and then who would raise their egg when it hatched? No, raising the hatchlings together in the rookery was the better way. The gargoyles were very familiar with the concept of 'widow' and 'widower', but they had never had orphans.
Still... he'd done a bit of thinking, in his idle moments between patrols when there was nothing worth watching on the television. He'd thought about all the hatchlings he'd seen in the last few rookery generations, and he had a suspicion that Broadway was of his blood; the lad had his wingspan and his lost beloved's coloring, and he'd hatched from the same clutch as the last egg they'd had before she fell to a Viking's flaming arrow. Not that that meant he was going to be treating the lad any differently, oh no! The only special treatment he'd like to give Broadway would be extra patrols, to work off the lad's excess weight. No, the only time he'd given a lad special treatment, he'd nearly botched the job, and sworn off of ever doing it again.
He remembered it well; when he'd been a newly-chosen second-in-command, he'd noticed a lavender hatchling that had a habit of peering in the windows at the human children and their lessons, and repeating to himself the human alphabet and the ways to make sense of their scribblings. He'd decided that any hatchling with such a large wingspan and talons would grow up to be a huge male, and too valuable a resource for warrior's work and eventual breeding to waste on human stuff like book-reading. He'd taken the hatchling under wing, and drilled him in warrior training until his wings had fair drooped with exhaustion, but the lad had still found time to creep into the castle's library and read all seventeen of the prince's prized books. Just as well that he hadn't been able to break the lavender hatchling of that time-wasting habit of reading, because the ideas that lad had gotten from those books had made Goliath the best leader the clan'd had in centuries.
Ah, now Brooklyn and Lexington were coming back from their patrol. Lexington was right chipper as he hopped into his seat in front of the computer and started tapping away at the tray of buttons, while his tail curled around and moved the 'mouse' about. (Now just why was it called that? The silly thing didn't look like a mouse, didn't even squeak like one.) Brooklyn, on the other hand, was looking morose, even his wings slumping after one look in the direction of the library, where Broadway and Angela were. Evidently the lad figured that Broadway was far closer to being chosen by Angela than he was.
Could be Brooklyn was right, too. A lass with an eye to status or battle-glory, like her mother Demona had been as a lass, would set her talons for Brooklyn as the clan's second-in-command, but Angela didn't seem to be thinking that way. She seemed right now to be favoring Broadway, with his skills in cooking and all that silly poetry he was spouting these days. Well, there was no commanding the heart, whether human or gargoyle. He should counsel Brooklyn not to give up hope yet, though; Angela had yet to really make her choice even in her own heart, as near as he could tell, and a smart lad who took the time to learn what a female really wanted could still win her heart before the next breeding season.
He'd had Lexington calculate the numbers through the centuries, and if they'd done it right, the next breeding season would occur in the autumn of next year. And despite Angela having been raised on Avalon for that thousand years while the clan slept in stone, since she'd aged at a rate of one year for every twenty-four in the mortal world, she was of the proper age for breeding. She'd be almost guaranteed to go into a breeding fever and rise to mate when the Breeding Moon rose full in the sky.
And when she did rise to breed, the lads were certain to rise to the occasion as well. He'd certainly glimpsed Brooklyn's loincloth arising when they'd awoken the other evening, before the lad had dived head-first off the battlements and soared frantically away, ignoring his rookery brothers' concerned shouts and queries. Likely enough, the lad had been dreaming of Angela. He suspected Goliath had guessed as much as well, from the sympathetic smile the clan leader had greeted his errant second-in-command with when he'd returned later with his tail tucked under. Hmph, wonder if Goliath had told his second about all the times he'd done the same thing at the same age, particularly if his young 'Angel of the Night' had been teasing him the dawn before.
Bronx came padding up from the direction of Alex's nursery, wagging his stubby tail (actually wagging his whole hind end) and grinning in his own fashion. All's well with the wee prince, then, and he'd likely smiled and babbled a bit just for Bronx, to have the beastie looking so self-satisfied just now. Since they had no eggs or hatchlings to mind right now, Bronx had decided as soon as they'd moved back to the castle that Alex would be his special charge, and he could be found in the nursery more often than not. Fox had been a bit concerned about that at first, until Hudson had cheerfully explained that a gargoyle beast's primary duty was to mind the eggs and hatchlings of the clan, and the young prince couldn't ask for a better guardian; gargoyle beasts were much like the humans' dogs in their ability to judge a sentient being's character and intent from scent and body language, and they would defend their charges against even other gargoyles if they thought the gargoyles meant harm to the eggs or hatchlings.
Hmm. There'd been a beast egg in that last rookery clutch, and as he recalled, Goliath and Angela had mentioned that it had hatched a female, the same one he'd heard about when Oberon had come a-calling; he believed her name was Boudicca. (Now, there was a fine name for a gargoyle! Even the gargoyles had heard the legends of the warrior queen of the Picts, and any female in the old clan would have sky-danced for joy at being compared to her.) Having hatched with Angela, she should also be of an age to go into heat come the breeding moon next fall. He'd best speak with Goliath soon, about having someone go to Avalon and fetch her here for the occasion. Since a day spent here was only an hour spent there, that clan would have to part with her for only a week or two, just long enough for the two to mate and breed an egg for the rookery here. So long as Bronx stayed here to mind the egg once it was laid, Boudicca would likely want to go back to her own territory and full-grown charges, but perhaps they'd get lucky and she'd want to stay here in Manhattan as well.
Now, who to send to Avalon for Boudicca? Perhaps whichever of the two larger lads that ended up losing the informal competition for Angela's heart. There might be another female member of that rookery generation who would be willing to leave the safety of Avalon for the excitement of the outer world, if the lad sent to fetch Boudicca was persuasive enough.
Well, that was all for the future, and he'd spent enough time thinking about matings and eggs and hatchlings tonight. Why, a body would think he was looking forward to being a rookery keeper, a tough and battle-scarred old warrior like him! He snorted as he aimed the remote at the television and changed the channel.