47 - "Desolation"
Originally Written: February 28th, 2001

August 5th, 2001
The wind howled with an abrasive snarl this night. Gone was the gentle summery breeze,
torn away by the ferocity of nature. It seemed fitting, setting the mood for what he had
planned for so long. For what would cease his nightmares, his pain, his aching heart. He
was hunched over on his perch, looking deep into the city, though not through eyes of his
own anymore. Bionic implants, piercing through the night, a biting reminder of his
broken trust.

"Lex?"

He turned to the voice, and found Angela walking slowly towards him, appearing into the
moonlight, her skin glowing with a lavender radiance. She appeared so beautiful to him,
and yet so hideous, for she was never to be more than just a friend. "What?" Though
warm out, his breath visibly hung in the air, cold, emotionless, frigid.

"Are you ready for our patrol?" she asked of him, curling up to the cornice structure,
leaning over to rest upon the stone, arching her back in a seductive taunt, albeit she was
unaware of any intended flirting.

"I'm not going..."

Angela stood up. "Why not?"

"I don't want to, I have...better things to do tonight." he hissed, resuming his brooding.

"Lex," she stood closer, "you've been acting weird for a while now. Moody, sullen, it's
not like you. Is there anything you'd like to talk about?"

"No."

"Well, I know I'm not Liz, but..."

"Get lost!!" he spit back, upon hearing the name of she who turned his love away. "Go
on the stupid patrol by yourself!"

Angela was understandably shocked, as she knew this smaller gargoyle was perhaps even
more gentle than her own mate. "Lex...what's wrong? Did something happen between
you and Liz?"

"None of your damn business." He lurched around, only to immerse Angela in the
platinum glow of his eyes. "Now get lost..."

"Please, I only wish to help you..." Angela pleaded, his fear inducing stance having
barely an effect on her.

"You can help," Lexington growled, unnerving the lavender gargess, "by leaving me
alone!"

"No!" she yelled back. "You're obviously in pain, and I won't my friend to deal with it
alone."

His chest was heaving, and a twitch of his talons into the ledge, tearing away at the solid
Scottish rock, displayed all the rage being barely contained by his smaller form. "Get
away from me," he threatened, his grated rasp teeming with hostility so much unlike him,
"or I may do something I might regret..."

Angela's mouth unconsciously fell open, her lips trembling due to the warning of malice
delivered in a spiteful tongue. "You don't mean that..." she whispered, hoping to soothe
the jagged edges of his irritable demeanor. "You would never hurt your friends." She
brushed a hand to his arm, yet he slapped it away.

"Get away from me!!" he howled, launching into an offensive stance, as if ready to attack
her.

"Lex, please..."

A subconscious jerk forced his arm up, and fueled by the flowing anger, he swung at her,
and he would have connected with great force against the side of her head, if not for a
blur of lavender skin, halting his clenched fist inches from impacting upon Angela's face.

"No!!" Goliath bellowed, seizing Lexington's arm in his massive hand, as Angela backed
away with an expression of pure shock. "Enough of this! I don't know what has been
bothering you, but it ends now." Goliath and Lexington locked eyes, and the web-winged
gargoyle noticed his leader's grip never releasing, or even relenting it's powerful grasp
upon his olive hide. "You would actually strike a member of your clan? One who is
your friend, and who only wanted to help?"

Lexington never answered, merely passing a saddened look to the still retreating Angela.
Sorrow for his actions filled his deep onyx eyes, and possibly regret in not having the
chance to strike her, to ultimately show her just how much he was hurting.

"You have been growing increasingly troubled for months now, before even this year
started, and you will tell me now."

"Or what?" he menaced, as the interlocked gargoyles connected their gaze, black emerald
grating against each other in a screech of grinding metal.

"I truly don't know as of yet, but I will not allow you to behave this way any longer, to
place the very safety of those who share your life in danger, due to the fact you have
trapped yourself within your pain." Goliath softened, allowing his fingers to loosen, yet
still maintaining a strong grasp to keep his charge from escaping. "It is time to release
this anger, this hatred, before it destroys you. I have freed myself of my pain, and I am
now giving you the chance to liberate yourself as well."

Lexington only smiled, a twisted grin which struck fear into Angela's heart. "I plan
to...just not the way you think..." With his free hand, he quickly slashed at Goliath's arm,
and the lavender giant pulled away in surprise, allowing the smaller gargoyle to push
himself from the castle's cornices.

Goliath peered to the three fresh swipes upon his forearm, oozing the familiar crimson
fluid, trickling down and spattering onto the stones. He remained speechless in the face
of such a savage attack from such a gentle young gargoyle.

Angela ran forwards to only see the distant form of her friend. "Father, we have to find
him!!" she cried frantically. "I think I know what he's talking about..."

"And what is that?"

Angela struggled to steady her ragged breathing, recollecting the absolute despair present
in her friend's eyes. "I think he means...to take his own life..."

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

Her caramel skin was a natural phosphorescent against the caliginous exterior of Destine
Manor. She landed on the second story balcony, and if she did not already know the
owner of this distinct mansion, she would perhaps fear the foreboding architecture, cast
in darkened hues and gothic embellishment. Desdemona peered into the living room
beyond the sliding glass doors, and found an empty space looking back upon her. She
rapped softly with a balled fist, and waited for a response. None came, so she decided to
try her luck and turn the ornamental latch, and the door fell open.

"Sister?" she called out, her husky tone resonating off every wall and surface of the
room. "My sister, are you here?"

A thunderous crash rumbled from just outside the room, and the golden honey-skinned
gargess whirled around to the source of the piercing sound. Much to her great surprise, a
figure stumbled into the room, kicking over a small endtable and barely able to stand on
her own feet.

A shock of bright scarlet hair, tussled and falling haphazardly about her crooked tiara.
With a bottle in one hand, and the other used for balance against the corner, Demona
staggered into the living room, and when the moonlight reflected on her glassy eyes,
Desdemona discovered the azure gargoyle was completely drunk.

"My sister..." she gasped, having never seen this side of her rookery sibling before, until
now.

Demona cocked her head to stare at her sister, and smiled. "H-Hello...my shishter..." she
slurred, still attempting the precarious task of maintaining her balance. "How
wonderfffful...it is t'see...you..." Demona continued her way towards the stunned
she-goyle, and tripped over her wildly lashing tail, pitching forwards into Desdemona's
arms.

"Oh my..." Desdemona sighed. "You are intoxicated...severely."

"Huh? Intoxiwhat?" Demona slumped against her sister's steady form, and when
regaining her balance, pushed away from her, tipping the bottle back and slowly draining
the contents through her large ruby lips. "Oh...damn...I'm out of alcohol..." she muttered,
casting the empty bottle over her shoulder, and swaying sluggishly past Desdemona to the
bar. She found yet another glass decanter and quickly unscrewed the lid, savoring the
deleterious liquor.

Desdemona kept watching, unsure of what to do next. "Ah...are you...feeling all right?"
she asked, cursing herself for such an adolescent question, obviously knowing by her
constant devouring of a bottle of expensive brown rum, that she was not.

"Feelin' all right?" Demona echoed her words banefully. "Oh, my ssssister...I am just on
top of th'world..." She staggered from behind the bar, and came face to face with her
sister, releasing a noxious breath her way, a side effect of her drinking. "You know
what's th' funny thing?" she jested drunkenly. "I've never been able t' do this
properly...cause the spell t-that made me immortal...always cured th'alcohol before I got
too drunk...and now that I'm...mortal, I can do this non-stop...drinky, drinky,
drinky...course, I'm gonna be puking tomorrow..." She took another large gulp, and
walked away in her stupor, cradling the bottle to her chest as if a newborn babe.

"Have you been doing this long?"

"What, you mean t'night? Or for th'past few months..."

Desdemona followed her unsteady path with her dark eyes, and trailed behind slowly, as
the azure skinned female found herself in the middle of the floor, where a swath of
moonlight and the shadows of the window frames cast over her shimmering skin with
even the slightest of movement. "I see you are troubled, my rookery sister. Do you wish
to tell me why?"

"Troubled..." she whispered, drowsily rubbing her lips across the bottle's opening. "You
have...no idea..." Demona turned her gaze to the other she-goyle, and scowled. "I once
thought I would see th' end of time itself, and now, I'm reduced to...looking into th'
mirror and checking for gray hairs." Demona laughed like a harpy, her shrill chortle
filling the entire room with a disheartening lament. "I cut myself a few weeks ago...and
had to use a Band-Aid." She turned to her sister and tromped up to her, sticking a
taloned finger into her face. "D'you have any idea how...frightening it is t' know you
could die at any moment?"

"It's called being mortal, Demona," argued Desdemona, "you should not be afraid of
what you cannot control."

"Don't you fear it?! Fear death? Constantly?!"

"I shall not fear when it is my time. I have lived a good life, with great love and
treasured friends."

Demona cocked a spurred ridge, nearly knocking her already dangling tiara from it's
place. "So, with every night that passes...you don't mind if yer skin wastes away, if yer
features sag and wither, yer hair looses it's color...if you turn into a repulsive hag, with
nothing t' offer t'anyone..."

"That's not true," said Desdemona, suppressing a smile at a seemingly superficial
apprehension of aging, "you have many years ahead of you, and will never lose your
worth in my eyes, your clan's, or anyone else's."

"A fate accepted by fools..." Demona grumbled, taking yet another swig of her drink.

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

Her arms and legs screamed to her with a growing pain in her joints, having been aloft
for hours now, but this city beckoned to her, with every lit building, and neon sign,
seducing with her to become lost in it's magnificence. So similar to her own city of
birth, yet possessing a splendor all it's own. She was pressed to explore further, even
with the agonizing discomfort flowing within her light emerald membranes.

Her diminutive form passed by the Empire State building, and she stole her large violet
eyes to the elder skyscraper, having pierced through the concrete jungle to claim it's
rightful spot in the sky. Yet something lay upon the highest spire, within the gnarled
assemblage of communication antennae, a smaller figure loomed above. An odd shape,
and an odd place to be for a human, especially with the twisting winds of a malevolent
temperament, forcing her webbed wings to the utmost of their limit.

She lifted her right membrane to the currents, forcing her to turn towards the building,
and the figure resting on the very precipice.

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

He tested the air for direction, wondering just where the currents would take his limp
body. He stepped out onto the furthest ledge, and peered into the bright lights of his
protectorate, and where his corpse would come to rest. Perhaps he would hit another
building, or destroy a parked vehicle, or just caress the asphalt below with his very blood
and entrails. His arms were outstretched, and as the wind curled within his membranes,
threatening to push him from his perch, he stalled, swallowing hard, trembling at his final
choice.

"An end to everything..." he gasped, the furious bluster catching his words and dragging
them into the atmosphere, lost among the constant mewling of the city. "No more pain
or regret, rejection or betrayal. I wonder if they'll even miss me. I wonder what they'll
say when they see my body...my dead body...crushed on the ground..."

He closed his eyes, his unique connection to the domain of the sky perhaps pleading with
him, imploring him not to use the very winds which carried him aloft and cared for him
when but a hatchling, to end his life in such a cruel manner. "I'm sorry, Alex..." he
whispered to his young friend, miles away in the castle, possibly even looking out into
the city, feeling his frequent baby-sitter's pain. "But I just can't do this anymore..." A
strong gust rammed against him, nearly pushing him back, yet he remained firm on his
resolve. He let loose the last tears to ever caress upon his cheeks and slowly leaned
forwards...

"That's a long drop..." a voice called out.

Lexington's eyes burst open and before he dropped from his perch, he crouched down
and sank his claws into the building's material, trembling violently, both annoyed that
someone had dared to interrupt him, and relieved that he was stopped in time. He
snapped his head to an approaching figure. "W-What?!" he managed to stutter.

"Seems an ineffective way for a gargoyle to kill himself..." the voice continued, still
enshrouded in darkness. "What's to stop you from opening your wings at the last
minute?"

Lexington was nearly fuming at the gall of this stranger. "Who are you?!" he growled.

She stepped out in what light was shining down on them, and the olive-colored gargoyle
gasped. A young gargess with webbed wings, glimmering emerald skin with a bluish
tint, shoulder length brown hair with long blond bangs, with wide, curving brow spurs.
She wore a skintight orange bodysuit, and possessed two of the biggest violet eyes he had
ever seen. "My name's Rain." she whispered, grinning down on him, seemingly unfazed
at his failed suicide attempt. "You...must be Lexington."

"Rain?" The name seemed familiar to him, as he peered upon a female gargoyle so
much like himself. "What...do you want?!"

"Well, here I was on my way to the castle to visit Elisa and Goliath and their daughter,
doing some sight-seeing, and I see a fellow gargoyle poised on a ledge to do a double
gainer into the streets." She walked closer, dropping her backpack to the rooftop, and
standing almost directly behind him. "It would be a shame for someone as cute as you to
end up as street pizza."

Lexington looked back to where he thought he would finally find the peace he so wanted,
the dizzying heights of the city center, and breathed heavily. "Please leave..."

"Elisa told me about you, when she visited us," Rain continued, her voice a high-pitched
tone of a teenager, yet as tender as the winds that buffeted them from all sides, "she said
that Lexington was one of the smartest, kindest, and most gentle people she had ever met.
What would hurt you so much that you would consider ending a life that's obviously
meant so much to others?"

"You wouldn't understand!" he screamed, never bothering to look back.

"Oh, so the young gargoyle gets hurt and then decides to throw it all away, huh?"

Lexington whirled around to confront the young gargess. "You have no idea what I've
been through!! No idea what's been taken away from me, and no idea just how much
I've had to suffer!"

"We've all suffered, Lex. Can I call you Lex?"

Lexington grimaced, then nodded silently.

"I've had my share of pain too." she whispered hoarsely, reliving memories of her past,
when faced with the impending death of one of her race. "I've been through a lot, and I
just turned eighteen. I wouldn't want you to kill yourself over something that can be
dealt with in talking to your friends."

Lexington snarled and tore from the ledge, hopping directly in front of her. They were
the same height, and his deep ebony eyes peered into her dark lavender gaze. "You want
to see what I've been through?! Fine..." He pressed two fingers to the metallic portion of
his left forearm, and depressed a small button. "Synthskin mode off." With an
unnerving vibration, almost half of Lexington's olive skin faded and vanished, and was
left with a golden steel finish. Segments of his arms, legs, head and brow, and his entire
wing structure, were now left uncovered to his cybernetic systems.

Rain gasped, and discovered just how much of this gargoyle was actually left from his
experience with Madoc.

"Almost forty percent of my body is nothing but circuits, wires, and steel plating." he
hissed, guiding a hand over his cyborg body. "Now do you understand? That same
intelligence, kindness and gentleness that Elisa told you about, resulted in this! I gave
my trust to someone, and I was mutilated. I'm nothing but a damned robot..."

Rain guided her eyes to the shimmering platinum of his cybernetic systems, and smiled.
She lifted a hand and pressed it to his chest, surprising him in her softness, and the
warmth of her feminine skin. "But this," she started, with her hand now directly over his
beating heart, "this is still gargoyle, right?"

Lexington yielded the anger in his eyes to this young girl's words, and covered her hand
with his own, squeezing her slim, taloned fingers. And in this moment, the very thought
of ending this life had disappeared.

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

"Is your life so affected by the fact you are now mortal, sister?" Desdemona placed forth
her question, hoping the alcohol running rampant through Demona would actually allow
her to answer in an intelligent response.

"Whuzzuh? Huh?" she stuttered. "Mmmmmortal...I hate that word. I hate this house. I
hate my frustrating job. I hate my life..."

"You don't mean that, Demona."

"Oh?!" the azure skinned gargoyle snapped back. "And why not, shishter?!"

"You have a wonderful life now, with your daughter, your clan, your friends..."

"I betrayed my clan, I lived a thousand years of d-destruction and death, I tried t' destroy
my own clan and former mate when they finally awakened," Demona listed off the
occurrences in her troubled past, "I was betrayed by a man who I thought loved me...I am
a heartless, cold killer...who's now in love with a man I can't ever have..."

Desdemona's brow snapped up, and hoped this just was more of her sister's drunken
ranting.

"Surprised, sister? That I can...actually still love?"

"No, no of course not. It's just...who, Demona? Who is bringing you so much pain?"

The drunken gargoyle faltered her way to her sister's form, and slumped on her shoulder.
"I ssshouldn't tell you..." she joked, giggling as if a child with every word. "He's human,
an artist, handshome, funny...and screwing another woman...ha ha ha ha ha ha hee hee
hee..."

Desdemona propped the intoxicated gargess up, and caught her chin with her hand,
holding the swaying head from bobbing back and forth. "Who?"

"I'm in love with...Todd..."

"Todd...Hawkins??" Desdemona sputtered, her eyes open wide to this shocking
revelation. "You have feelings for Todd...Hawkins...by the dragon, you are more drunk
than I ever thought..."

"Shurprised?" Demona chuffed. "Imagine when I first found out...hmmmm, he shmells
so good, 'cause he wears th' nicest cologne, he makes me laugh like no one else, and he
accepts who I am, and not who I was...and he's busy fucking that big breasted, blond
bimbo..." Demona tromped around the room, slapping the bottle to her lips time and
time again, in front of Desdemona's astonished gaze.

"Annika is your friend, and does not deserve that tone of yours." she snapped to her
pacing sister. "She has done nothing to you, yet extend her hand of friendship on
numerous occasions. Just because she is seeing Todd, does not mean she wants to
intentionally cause to any ill-will."

"And the former immortal gargoyle gets thrown to the ground once again!! Wheeeee!!
Isn't it grand, sister?!" she screeched, her laughable tone barely containing a swelling
anger. "This is my life! Pain, anguish...no one t' love, no one t' hold me in their
arms...you think this ish wonderful?!" Demona hurled the empty bottle towards the wall,
and Desdemona covered herself with her wings from the shower of fractured glass,
washing over her dark chestnut membranes. "DO YOU?!!!"

Desdemona stood silently, attempting to form an answer that could soothe her sister's
ragged temper.

"You can't answer, can you?" Demona drawled, wavering on her feet, looking as if she
was seconds away from collapsing in a drunken pile of wings and tail. "There's nothing
you can shay, 'r do, that will ever make this life better...I'm sick of this life, either mortal
or immortal. I've only traded watchin' all my friends die, to having my friend's watch
me die. I'm going t'waste away...a sad, lonely woman, who'll die in her mansion...and
crumble t'dust..." She lost her balance and descended to the floor, slumping to her
backside, sitting in the shattered moonlight, and spilling her anguished tears. "I hate this
life..."

Desdemona fell to her knees, and wrapped her sister into her arms, bringing her wings to
cover them both, and hold to her trembling sibling, hearing the wails of her pain,
centuries old, left to flow freely due to the alcohol consumed in her attempt to forget
what has befallen her. "It will be all right, my sister. I am here. We all are..."

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

"I can't go on like this anymore. I can't deal with this constant pain."

"You don't have to, Lex." Rain whispered back to him, watching him restore his skin to
normal, with only a few scattered patches of the golden bionic sheen, and tread the length
of the ledge.

"You don't know...you don't know what I've been through...you have no idea..."

"Not true, Lex." Rain countered, her voice balanced with surprising composure. "I have
seen more than you could imagine."

Lex slipped around, increasing his pace back to Rain, and did not stop until their faces
were almost touching each other. He could smell her breath of cherry bubblegum, and
even detect the scent of fresh earth surrounding her. "Did you ever open your heart to
humans and get it ripped out for your trouble? Did you wake up and find yourself more
machine than man? And that your brother could have prevented it by simply sharing a
future experience? Did you get your heart stepped on by the woman you could have
fallen in love with?!" he screamed to her, a fevered rave of everything built up inside of
him.

Rain merely tilted her head, and slowly turned around, and Lexington was left staring at
her slender, yet well-defined back. "I remember sometimes, in my dreams," she started
in a fertive tone, closing her arms about her body, "when I was younger, about five years
old. My home was attacked by a group of humans during the night. We were totally
unprepared for their assault, and thought we had gained the humans' trust, and so we
couldn't properly defend ourselves. They ripped through our ranks with powerful
weapons, shooting every gargoyle that got in their way. Man, woman, elder, child...it
didn't matter. They killed every single one who either offered resistance or even
surrendered. They didn't even spare us the pain by destroying us during the day. My
biological mother tried to get me to safety, but she was injured, and couldn't escape. She
was grabbed and thrown to the floor, and I fell from her arms and rolled a couple feet
away. I watched as about five or six men, wearing masks...beat her, shot her...mutilated
her. But she never gave them the satisfaction of hearing her scream. Instead, she kept
her eyes on me, and yelled to me to run, but I couldn't. I was...too scared. They kept
beating her, her blood sprayed everywhere. I was covered in it, my mother's own blood.
It soaked into my hair, and dripped down my skin. It smelled so bad, so terrible...she
never took her eyes off of me, even when she died, her eyes were still open...staring
straight at me..."

Lexington's arms fell limp, in hearing this young gargess relate her past, with her own
pain to challenge his, and he suddenly regretted his words.

"It wasn't until both Magellan and Ares were able to rescue a few of us, and drag us to
safety, that we escaped with our lives. Ares held me in his arms, and squeezed me so
tight. We took refuge from them in the cave we now call home. In their frantic search
for any more survivors, they had forgotten to wash my mother's blood off of me, so I
spent the entire night, huddling beneath a blanket, tasting my mother's blood, smelling
the aroma of death all around me." Rain shuddered, her membranes of silken leather
shivering in their frailty. "I didn't speak for weeks, and I had nightmares for months.
Both me and Thrash. If it wasn't for Aurora, and Ares, and the others, I probably would
have gone insane." She turned slowly back to him, with moist cheeks, and dripping
tears. "We all have pain within us, we've all been hurt in our lives, and it's only because
of our strength, and those we love who are willing to help us with that pain, that we can
survive. To throw it all away, to throw an entire life away, that can lead to so much
more, is a waste, Lex. To discard what you could be, is a loss that would diminish this
world, and your clan."

Lexington approached her, and they stood silently, basking in each other's presence.
"I've accepted that I was hurt by the Pack, and that Fox is now a good friend. I've
accepted the fact that I'm part machine. I've accepted the fact that Brooklyn could have
prevented it all, but ultimately chose not to, maybe thinking it was supposed to happen
for the better. But now, I've just learned that the woman I thought I was in love with,
doesn't feel the same way. How do I go on? How do I go through my life alone?! I'm
always...so goddamn alone..."

"You're never alone." Rain assured him. "Our family is the most important thing in this
world, and they will be there for us always."

"But what about love? What about finding someone to share your life with?"

"I know it's hard, but we have to hang on." Rain then moved her eyes off Lexington, a
slight blush of a light rose tint afflicting her cheeks. "I believe that...everyone in this
world has someone out there who they're meant to be with, and soon enough we'll find
that person."

"I thought I had found her, the one who could be with me..."

"Did you?" Rain asked, her brow raising. "Did you actually love this woman? Or the
fact that you were such good friends, it was simply convenient to you? Maybe you
wanted it so much, you fell in love with the idea of being with a friend throughout your
life, instead of searching inside of yourself, to ask if you truly loved her..."

Lexington looked down sheepishly, and shrugged his shoulders. "I don't know. It
seemed we were perfect for each other. It seemed we were an absolute perfect match."

"Most of the time, the one you're supposed to be with, is never what you think to be
perfect. True love shouldn't be easy, it's a challenge to be worked hard for, and then the
rewards are even sweeter. Look at Goliath and Elisa. If you didn't know them, would
you think they would ever fall in love, and get married? They are so different in some
aspects, yet they bring out the best in their mate." Rain smiled gently, inflaming a
portion of Lexington's heart. "They found each other, and I know you'll find who you're
supposed to be with. Just be patient, and she'll drop right into your lap."

"Is...this a come on?" Lexington joked, even through all the anguish riddling the surface
of his mind.

Rain laughed heartily, producing a sound crossed between a purring cat and a small
mouse. "So, do you still want to kill yourself?"

Lexington widened his large eyes, and looked back to the ledge, where just less than an
hour before, had almost lept to his death. "Oh shit...I-I almost died." It had finally sunk
in, the grim reality of what he had tried to do. "I almost killed myself...oh man,
what...what the hell was I thinking...oh god..." A translucent fluid rimmed the bottom of
his eyes, blurring his vision, and he bowed his head, allowing the tears to drop to the
building's edge.

"It's okay..." Rain whispered, pulling him close, pressing his head to her shoulder. "It's
okay now. It's over...let it go, let it out..." She wrapped her arms around him, clasping
both her hands around his neck, securing her place in his arms. Rain smiled, looking into
the stars above, feeling every shiver pass through her newfound friend's body. She then
noticed someone in the sky, a massive form enveloping the starlight, and landing with a
substantial thump on the opposite side, with enough force to shake the very foundation of
this venerable building. Rain recognized this shape to be Goliath, with another
violet-hued female touching down beside him.

The lavender giant slowly approached the embracing couple, and looked with terror
filled eyes to the smaller gargess. In his dark onyx gaze, he inquired of Lexington's
condition, and Rain simply nodded, telling him, he was going to be all right.

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

"Do you have any idea...how hard it is to be alone?"

"I am never alone, my sister, and neither are you," Desdemona contended her sister's
pain with the reality of her family, "you have the clan with you always."

"What about love?" Demona whispered, pressing her face into her sister's chest, and
curling into a crumpled ball, a fetal position in the honeyed gargess' lap. "You were th'
first to be mated of our generation. You found someone t'be with, t' love you..."

"I was lucky to find Othello, and you will find someone as well. In due time. Even
MacBeth has found someone to share his life with. He seems quite happy to now age,
and die, with Joanna in his arms." She pressed Demona closer, feeling her flushed
cheeks graze just beneath her neck, warm from the alcohol, wet from her tears. "Do not
be afraid to open your heart, and love will soon follow."

"But...the man I've found...is th' perfect man, an' I can never have him..."

"Is this love, or merely infatuation?" Desdemona asked, as the sisters secured their
respective gaze on each other. "To develop strong feelings for someone who opens his
heart to you in the purpose of friendship, is not a rare occurrence."

"But...he's so nice t'me..." Demona whined, becoming limp in her sister's arms. "No
one's treated me like this...fer a long time...'specially when they find about...what I
did...but he doesn't care...he's...different...he's always in m'office with a shmile when he
paints th' murals, and enjoys going t'lunch with me...he makes me feel...good..."

"I believe he is different, due to being dropped on his head after his birth." Desdemona
jested, attempting to lift her sister's distressed spirits. "He is quite pleasant to everyone,
and is a very remarkable human, but...is it love, or simply a passionate response, to fill
what you believe to be a hole within your very soul?"

Demona lay silent, allowing her infirm breaths to be the only sound for Desdemona to
hear. "No...I-I love him..." she whispered, attempting to claw her way from her sister's
arms. "An' I wanna tell him...I need t' tell him..." Demona staggered to her telephone,
attempting to dial his number when Desdemona lunged for her, trying to take the device
away.

"No!" she yelled, ripping the phone away from her drunken sister. "Is this what you
wish? To bring him pain as well, to only satisfy your soul? He is in love with Annika,
and with every day that passes, their relationship only grows stronger. To tell him would
destroy what you two have built, a deep friendship, and perhaps deeply hurt Annika as
well."

Demona scowled, possessed of her glowing eyes, and a mean grimace. "Give me th'
phone..." she growled, losing her intellect to the narcosis of hard liquor.

"No. I will not allow you to do this."

"I said gimme th' phone!!" Demona lept forwards, struggling with her sister for the
telephone. They were equal in strength, and even with Demona's greater skills in
combat, she could not readily force it from her sister's hands. She grew increasingly
angry as they fought, and suddenly, Demona raised a clenched fist, and lay upon the side
of her sister's face, a blow powerful enough to knock her to the ground.

Desdemona propped herself up on her elbow, laying sprawled on the carpet and rubbing
her jaw, passing pained eyes to her sister.

Demona stood silently, her mouth left open, ashamed of what she had just done. She
threw the phone away from her, as if it was scalding hot, and moved directionless about
the living area. "I'm sorry..." she wailed.

"You are acting like a lovesick hatchling, Demona." she scolded. "All this torment due
to a simple crush on a teenager. And a human, no doubt."

"It's not a crush...b-believe me, I wish it was...you have not lived a thousand yearsh,
without any comfort of a...loved one, without the...pleasures of th' flesh." Demona
rubbed her hands about her eyes, menacing her with their great weight, threatening to fall
closed. "...fer years now, almost every man who's befriended me...has always wanted
somethin' from me...either money, power, my company...but all Todd wantsh...all he
wantsh...is t'see me smile..." she trailed off, on the verge of losing her balance.

Desdemona rose to her feet, and quickly captured her sister in her arms before she could
fall, swaying back and forth to ease her. "It will be all right, I promise you."

"How?" she asked in a rasped whisper, crying once more.

"Perhaps if you stop this rabid consuming of your alcohol, and instead of looking back
upon what has happened to you, look forwards to what you have finally gained. Family,
friends, a new future. Yes, you are mortal, yes, you can die, and yes, perhaps the man
you have feelings for will never feel the same way, but take heart, dear sister, for you
have achieved so much more..."

"It...it hurts...to always be alone..."

"Pain is part of life, and will always be part of yours, but only will you continue to feel
this way, if you ultimately give up." Desdemona rested her chin to her sister's shoulder.
"I will never allow you to give up, or allow you to be alone. Nor will Angela, or Andrea,
or the clan. I promise you that. With all of my heart, my rookery sister, I promise."

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

"Whoa, this place is friggin' huge!" screamed Rain, as she set down in the courtyard of
castle Wyvern, whirling around to fix her eyes upon every nuance and carved stone of
this ancient place, comparing her home of the Grotto to this palace.

Lexington landed behind her, having remained silent for the entire trip. He turned to see
Goliath and Angela swoop in and flutter their wings to bring them to a halt. Goliath
immediately came up to the smaller gargoyle, and he noticed especially the bandaged
arm, where he had left three deep abrasions, in a short moment of anger. "Goliath...I'm
sorry..."

"I know." Goliath responded quickly, gracing a hand to his charge's shoulder. "I am
relieved and overjoyed that you are safe. That has always been foremost on my mind.
Your safety, your happiness."

"Thanks..." he replied morosely, seemingly a shell of his former self, yet Goliath knew he
was merely tired, exhausted from dealing with what has plagued him.

"You are an important part of our family, Lexington." came Angela's sweet tone, after
handing Rain's large knapsack back to her, to relieve the weary traveler of her burden for
the flight back to the castle. "I don't think I could live with the knowledge one of my
dearest friends took his own life. We need you. Please don't ever forget that."

"I know..." Suddenly, an emerald green hand slapped down on his shoulder, with enough
force to elicit a sharp breath.

"So," Rain started, "who's going to give me the grand tour? Leeeeex?"

He looked back at her, seeing her violet painted lips curling into a massive, enticing grin.
"I will...I guess."

"Hey," she cut through, knowing he was still reeling from the events of this night, "if
you're not up to it..."

"No. It would be...nice."

"Rock on." she cheered, secretly hoping he would accept. "I want to see cute, little
Trinity first! And then you can introduce me to the rest of your clan, and Alexander too."

Lexington nodded and allowed Rain to slip her arm around his, and silently offered to
carry her pack. She hefted the black strapped bag into his arms, and he visibly strained
under an obvious great weight. "What's in here?"

"All my stuff. You know, hairbrush, lipstick, gum, my camera and a bunch of film to
take pictures of Trinity, the clan and the castle. The pictures of Crystal for Elisa. A few
of my romance novels..."

"Romance novels?"

Rain shrugged. "Hey...how do you think I know so much about love? I've never actually
had a boyfriend, so I've got to get my lovin' from somewhere. Or," she winked at
Lexington, "has that changed?"

Lexington smiled wearily, almost cautiously. "Let's go see Trinity..." The gargoyles
headed into the castle, intent on finding just who had the task this night of watching the
tiny hybrid girl, with her mother still on shift. Goliath followed behind, trusting in this
young Canadian, that perhaps she was all Lexington needed, to begin his healing process.

Angela was about to head inside as well, when the rustle of wings above caught her
attention, and she looked up to find Desdemona directing herself towards the lavender
female. "Desdemona," she called out, "how was your visit with my mother?"

Desdemona stalled her response, forming an odd expression. "Enlightening." she
answered, and Angela furrowed her brow.

"Is she feeling well?"

"Yes, she is merely...tired." she fed the younger gargoyle a half-truth. "So I put her to
bed. I believe she is still having trouble dealing with the loss of her immortality."

Angela became worried now, at the severity at Desdemona's tone. "Is there something
you're not telling me?"

"No," she quickly swayed her fears, "no, she's fine. She just needs...her family at this
time."

"Then, maybe I should go..."

"Let her sleep, Angela. I told her you would visit tomorrow."

Angela sighed and nodded, relenting her great love for her mother, allowing Demona this
rare time to sleep in her overworked existence. "If you insist..."

The two females entered through the heavy wooden gate, and roamed the halls of the
inner sanctum, until they settled upon the media room, where Rain was instantly fussing
over Trinity, with Lexington, Goliath and Delilah, her baby-sitter, watching from the
couch. Angela stepped forward to acquaint herself with the new visitor, with Desdemona
hanging back.

"Yo, Des, what's up?"

The caramel gargess whirled around to see Todd Hawkins appear behind her, playing a
solo game of pool on the massive wooden table. "Oh! Hello...Mr. Hawkins." she
whispered charmingly, crossing her arms and casting a peculiar look to every part of his
body.

"Why does everyone keep calling me that?!" He noticed Desdemona still staring at him
with her deep raven eyes. "What?" he demanded, stalling his game and glaring back at
the gargoyle.

"Do you enjoy your time spent with my sister?" she asked, stepping forwards.

"You mean Red? Yeah, of course. I mean, we go out for lunch, a lot actually, and we
walk back to her office through the park. She's always there in her office, watching me
when I'm painting that mural, and we can talk for hours. It's nice to see her finally
loosen up, to let go of the crap she's had to deal with."

"And do you love Annika?"

Todd cocked an eyebrow, her abrupt question throwing him for a loop. "Uh, yes..."

"And would you ever consider leaving her for another?"

Todd jerked back suddenly, possibly misunderstanding just what this winged woman was
talking about. "Is this a come on?"

"Don't flatter yourself. Please answer my question."

"Well...no. No! Never. I love Annika. It's almost like I feel as if I've known her my
entire life."

"Hmmmm. Good." she whispered. "Treasure that love, and never let anyone come
between you. Goodnight, Mr. Hawkins."

Todd watched her leave the room, most likely on her way to find her own mate.
"Goodnight..." he released quietly. "What the hell was that all about?" Todd mulled
over her words, knowing she had come directly from Demona's mansion, and sensing she
knew something he did not. He thought back to the night over a month ago, where
Demona had confided in him, sharing what pain she carried, and the awkward moment
between them that had still not left his thoughts. Yet he was adamant that nothing could
ever come between him and Annika. He loved her with everything he was, and more.
"Nothing...I suppose..."