2.2: Something in Common
Rebecca had come into the room a while ago to shed her tears in private, and she was definitely not in the mood for company. But even after she told him to go away, the gargoyle from Manhattan came right on in, giving her a look of sympathy. "It's about my rookery brother, right?"
"Yeah," Rebecca admitted between sniffles. When she'd first seen Brooklyn from on high, she'd known instantly that he was the gargoyle of her dreams. Great form while gliding, lean strong body… and beaked just like her! Here was a gargoyle of her own generation who knew what it was like to have a beak, and surely wouldn't make fun of her for it like the others had! And when they'd begun talking, and she'd realized how brave and kind and intelligent he was… well, he was really a dream come true! Finding out he was also the Manhattan Clan's second-in-command was just icing on the cake.
But instead of her staying in Manhattan and becoming his mate, he'd come with the rest of his clan down here to New Orleans, and seen her rookery sisters. All of whom were so much more attractive than her… and all of whom were interested in Brooklyn too.
Tonight, she'd finally admitted to herself that she was completely outclassed by her sisters, and had no more chance of winning Brooklyn for herself than she had of gliding to the moon. It was like Marie had said to her a while ago, "Face it; what looks great on a male doesn't always look great on a female. Brooklyn just doesn't find you attractive…" Marie was such a bitch that she would say anything to hurt someone, but in this case Rebecca knew she was right. Brooklyn just didn't have the same eager light in his eyes when he saw Rebecca, as he did when he saw Isabel, or Yvette, or… WHY had God given her such a scrawny body and such a huge beak! Nobody ever wanted to be with 'beaky Becky'…
She said as much to Lexington, and he said in reply, "Hey, don't be so hard on your own looks. There is absolutely nothing ugly about your beak… I had a rookery sister with a beak even bigger than yours, and let me tell you, she looked absolutely gorgeous!""
"Yeah, right!" Rebecca sneered, disbelieving.
"She did! She had half the males in my rookery generation gliding after her when we all started maturing!"
"Uh-huh. And let me guess why; she developed first, and ended up with a pair of tits the size of volleyballs." Lexington's blush was reply enough. "Thought so. Why the heck are breasts so important, anyway!" as Rebecca rolled over and gestured angrily at her own small-breasted chest. "They're just lumps of flesh!" And, she admitted to herself, she'd give anything she could think of to have bigger lumps and a smaller beak. If only she could make the profile of her face and her chest switch places…
And 'if onlies' weren't doing her any good at all, and she was being rude to her clan's guest. She scrubbed her face with her hands and tried hard to plaster a smile on her beak as she said to Lexington (who had been looking at those pitifully small breasts), "Anyway, why were you knocking on the doors? Is there something you want?"
Lexington surprisingly blushed even more, and stammered, "Uh, a c-computer? Does anyone in your clan have Internet access?"
"Sure, Alphonse--you met him, the tall human with the blonde crew cut and earrings--he has a computer in the upstairs den. He lets me use it most nights, when I want to chat with my friends online," as she got up off the couch and showed him out the door.
"You too, huh? I visit some chat rooms on a regular basis; it's such a weird but cool feeling, talking with people who think you're just another human, isn't it?"
"Yeah. I have to be careful about what I type, though; can't say anything about stone sleep or patrolling in the city, or any gargoyles-only things. Adam would pitch a fit clear to the moon if he thought I was giving away any information about the clan to strangers."
"Yeah, Goliath's the same way." They spent a few minutes playfully grouching about unreasonable clan leaders while finding the upstairs den.
Now wearing a genuine smile again, Rebecca gestured grandly at the computer terminal and said, "After you! Guests first."
"Ah, but the knights of the old times said 'Ladies first,'" Lexington said with a sweeping bow and even grander gesture.
Rebecca giggled. "You are just too much! Well, rather than play 'After you, Gaston' all night, I'll go ahead and log on. It'll only be a few minutes, anyway; I'll just print out my email, and wait till later to reply and surf the chat rooms." A few minutes later, the printer was spitting out paper, and when it was finished Rebecca got off the seat so Lexington could sit down, and started reading her email.
There sure was a lot of email to go through, since she'd been gone for three weeks; nearly two weeks longer than she'd planned for, thanks to the truck breaking down in Tennessee. She decided to start with the most recent mail first, and frowned after reading the third message in the stack. "Well, phooey."
"Something wrong?" Lexington asked absently, from where he was sitting at the computer with his eyes glued to the screen.
"Nothing really wrong, I just missed one of my chat-buddies. I'd emailed him and a few others before I snuck off to New York to help find your clan, to let them know I was going to be off-line for a while. And my pal 'Braveheart' wrote two nights ago, to say he's sorry he missed me, but he's leaving on a trip, too, to visit—"
"Some long-lost cousins," Lexington said, and she jerked her head up indignantly, thinking he was reading her email on the screen. But instead, Lex had turned in his seat and was staring at her, his eyes wide in shock. "L…LadyHawke?"
How did he know her chat name? She was sure she hadn't told him yet—and then the realization hit her like a ton of bricks, and she gaped at him with her beak hanging open and her eyes bugging out. She finally managed to shut her jaw long enough to squeak, "Braveheart!"
"You—I—you… why didn't you tell me you're a gargoyle?"
"Well, why didn't you?"
This was just too much; too unbelievable, too ironic, too funny… Rebecca started giggling, and within moments both she and Lexington were laughing like maniacs.
A little while later, Rebecca wiped the tears of laughter and joy from her eyes and said, "Wait till we tell the others; they will absolutely flip!"
"Dibs on telling Goliath," Lex said with a final chuckle. "I want to see his jaw just hit the floor… After this, maybe even Hudson will want to try using the computer!"
Rebecca stopped, startled by a sudden idea. "I just realized… if we were out there online and everyone thought we were human, maybe there are other gargoyles online, too! Maybe someone from that London clan Goliath told us about, or the Japanese one… heck, maybe someone we're already chatting with is a gargoyle!"
"Well, Bugjuice and Riffraff aren't; I know for a fact that they're humans studying at Columbia University in Manhattan. I met Bugjuice at a P.I.T. meeting last week. His real name's Mike Keating, by the way," Lexington told her. "But that still leaves Bojangles, and Starsteaker, and Hamsterbait, and while you were offline a new guy calling himself Robinator joined us…"
"But… how do we ask, without giving away the fact that we're gargoyles ourselves? Your clan may be out in the open now, but we're still living here in secret, and I'm sure everyone would prefer that we keep it that way." Rebecca tapped the side of her beak in hard thought. "Maybe… There must be some kind of 'code phrase' we can come up with, something that wouldn't mean anything to a human, but would just stand out to another gargoyle so he'd respond. Maybe something related to the way we sleep…"
Lexington shook his head. "Better not use that; too many people these days know we sleep in stone, including the Quarrymen."
"Oooh, we definitely don't want to attract the Quarrymen's attention," Rebecca agreed. "Well… something about laying eggs instead of live birth? Oh, I've got it; some code phrase about the breeding cycle! Humans can do it all the time, instead of just once every twenty-five years. I'll just bet we can come up with something that—oh, wait a minute. Have you guys told the P.I.T. about the breeding cycle yet?"
"Uh, not that I know of; I'll have to ask Brooklyn, and Macbeth. But that can wait for a while, right? In the meantime…" Lex cleared his throat, looked at his feet, then looked up at her shyly and said, "You, uh, want to go for a glide?"
"S-sure! Oh, I should show you some of the sights around here!" Rebecca just knew she was blushing wildly, while grinning from ear to ear. "You, uh… you really don't mind the beak?"
Lexington spread his arms in reply. "You don't mind the web-wings?"
"Well, they're different, but everyone's different one way or another," Rebecca shrugged. "But if you don't mind my asking, how do you wear clothes at all?"
"They're cut right here, just enough to allow a belt to go through," Lex said as he pointed at a slit cut right next to his torso on the left side.
"Oh, ouch!" Rebecca winced.
"It probably hurt a lot, but it was done when I was so small that I don't really remember it. And I think they gave me some fermented apples first, and did it right before dawn so it didn't hurt for long. Hudson said once that everyone used to just go naked, but when we started allying with the humans living in our territory, we started wearing clothes too, and this was the easiest way to put clothes on the web-wings."
"Fermented apples? …You mean they got you drunk? When you were a tiny hatchling!"
"Hey, painkillers were pretty primitive back then!"
"Oh, I didn't mean to insult your old clan," Rebecca apologized. "So, uh, how about that glide? …And you really don't mind the beak?"
Lexington started to answer, then paused… then reached out, pulled her close and kissed her right on the beak. Then he let her go, and grinned. "Does that answer your question?"
He'd kissed her! He'd kissed her! Rebecca wanted to dance around the room shrieking for joy, but she settled for hugging him as hard as she could, until he mentioned in a strangled voice that he'd like to breathe now, please…
They left the room together holding hands, and as they walked out, Lex said, "So, 'LadyHawke', when we were just chat buddies, did I ever mention that I once flew a helicopter?"