LIFE GOES ON

MATING GAMES, PART 1:

OPENING MOVES

By Kimberly T. (email: kimbertow -at- yahoo dot com)

Standard disclaimers & acknowledgments apply; I'm not making a dime off this, so please don't sue.

Author's note: Here's where it gets earthy, folks! Rated a hard PG-13 to soft R for frank discussion of reproductive matters and a fair amount of sexual innuendo; don't read this if you haven't at least had Sex Education in school yet.

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1.1: Sleepless in New Orleans

In a mansion several miles outside the city of New Orleans, a detective newly arrived from New York lay down in a strange bed and tried to settle her thoughts. Having gotten up hours early for two days in a row, and having spent all night either trying to make sense of a battle involving the Quarrymen in New York, or trying to get the gargoyle clan down to New Orleans before they found out about that battle, Elisa Maza was frankly exhausted… but far too wired to sleep.

The leader of the clan down here was a gargoyle-human hybrid! That meant it was possible for humans and gargoyles to have children together, after all…

And she and Goliath hadn't been using any protection! Was she pregnant right now?

A second later, she scolded herself to stop hitting the panic button so hard; of course she wasn't pregnant at the moment. She was in the middle of her period! …But according to Goliath's acute sense of smell and embarrassingly intimate knowledge of her body's cycles, two days after her period was due to end, she'd be fertile. Probably by this Saturday, if not late Friday.

Why hadn't she gone on 'the pill' after all? She'd been reluctant to try contraceptives again, since the one time years ago that she'd gone on the daily pill regimen, she'd had killer headaches as a result. But didn't they have other options now? She remembered hearing about quarterly shots, and some kind of packet implanted under the skin that lasted for years; why hadn't she asked her doctor about those during her last annual checkup? Because Elisa Maza, the tough New York cop who could trade razor-sharp insults with the worst of them if need be, was still such a prude at heart, that's why. And now she was going to pay for that prudishness; if Goliath wouldn't consent to using condoms, so much for their planned 'second honeymoon'…

Did they even make condoms in Goliath's size?

And would he consent to wearing one? To any sort of contraception?

Probably not, Elisa had to admit. Not when gargoyles were so rare that their race was constantly teetering on the edge of extinction. As a result, their whole racial mindset was vehemently 'pro-life;' she'd seen ample evidence of that back when Maggie had found out she was pregnant. Goliath had almost begged Maggie for the chance to adopt the child, if she found herself unable or unwilling to raise it; any child with wings would be incredibly precious to them. Goliath would definitely grab at any chance to have more young, even little hybrids.

And he would be a wonderful father; Elisa knew that. However reluctant Goliath had been to acknowledge his biological connection to Angela, once he'd finally given in he'd started becoming more fatherly every night. Back when the Trio had been squabbling over Angela like dogs over a steak, Goliath had almost stepped in to tell the boys off, but Elisa had firmly told him to let Angela handle it herself; she was a grown female in her own right, and if she wanted her eventual mate to respect her then she'd better start asserting herself early. Since then, Elisa had seen how patient and caring Goliath was with Bethany and Alexander, the children living in the castle. He'd surely be just as kind and caring and patient with any little girl or boy Elisa could give him.

But what kind of mother would Elisa herself be? Elisa knew she was definitely not the patient sort, not one to tolerate the sorts of mistakes that children made… and like she'd told Goliath months ago, she'd rather handle Tony Dracon on a bad day than a dirty diaper pail! And it would be her career that would be flushed right down the toilet if she got pregnant right now; despite the NYPD officially disallowing discrimination against females, women still had a harder row to hoe, and the 'mommy track' usually led right to a crappy clerical job for the rest of one's employment. Not to mention how much her life would be turned upside down if the public at large found out she was carrying a half-gargoyle baby…

But how could it be possible, for gargoyles and humans to be inter-fertile? For God's sake, the gargoyles were egg-layers; from what little Elisa remembered from her high school Biology class, it was about as likely as her cat Cagney having kittens with one of the pigeons in Central Park! It just wasn't supposed to happen, period!

Unless magic had been involved… Elisa hadn't really believed in magic until after she'd met the gargoyle clan, but since then she'd come to truly loathe the stuff. For every magic-user that was actually of the beneficial sort, there were a dozen or more prank-playing Fey or nasty mortal witches and warlocks like Demona and the Archmage, tossing spells around like baseballs, and all too often Elisa and the gargoyles had been caught in the crossfire. But if magic had been involved in creating the hybrid Adam, then Elisa was off the hook after all.

Unless… unless all it took was any exposure to magic, at all; like that article she'd read in the Times a while back about some childhood disease that had been studied for its victims' later predilection for coming down with certain allergies. In which case, she was still in trouble. Because she'd had enough spells cast on her over the years that, according to the Banshee, the odor of Fey magic clung to her like Limburger.

And Goliath was still under a spell; that spell of enslavement that Demona had cast on him soon after the clan had awakened. Elisa had found a way around the spell, by ordering him to behave for the rest of his life as though he wasn't under a spell at all, but she still had nightmares sometimes about someone reconstructing the grimorum pages she'd burned and enslaving him once more. Since the magic was still affecting and always would affect him…

Dammit, she needed to talk to someone, someone who knew what she needed to know! But she hadn't had time this morning to draw anyone away for discreet conversation; as soon as the truck had pulled in, the people living here had started hustling the gargoyles' statues out of the trucks and onto a couple of concrete slabs laid out behind the mansion. Adam would have been the logical choice to talk to, but he'd been as busy as the rest if not busier, dictating orders for the rest of the day's business while helping to unload the gargoyles' statues.

As soon as all the Manhattan clan had been mounted in a semicircle on the improvised perches, Adam had struck a pose in the center of the semicircle, given a few last directions to the other humans around, and turned to stone before Elisa could discreetly ask him anything. And right after that, she and Fox had been escorted up to this bedroom to get some sleep, while everyone else hustled to get the welcoming party ready by sunset. It was the day before Thanksgiving, but Adam had decreed that they would hold the big feast a night early, to celebrate the arrival of a new clan in their midst.

Elisa glanced over at Fox with a trace of resentment; the other woman had curled up on her chosen bed and gone to sleep within two minutes of their being brought here, and hadn't stirred since then. Why couldn't she have stayed awake too, worrying about her baby back in New York or something? A moment later Elisa castigated herself; that was such a rotten thing to think! Obviously, she was getting extremely cranky from lack of sleep. She shook her head, then rolled over and resolved to just stay horizontal and try very hard to not think about anything at all, until she fell asleep or until sundown, whichever came first.

To Be Continued…