LIFE GOES ON

MATING GAMES, PART 3:

It's Friday, I'm In Love (Or Not!)

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

Standard Disclaimers and acknowledgments apply; I'm not making a dime, please don't sue!

3.1: The Adventures of Braveheart and LadyHawke

It was late Friday night in the mansion that most of the New Orleans Clan called home. After two nights of celebrating the arrival of the Manhattan Clan, they were returning to their normal duties and routine, though there were a few exceptions. Most of those exceptions, of course, were the result of the Manhattan Clan's arrival.

One of the outlying buildings on the estate, a small gardener's cottage, had been turned over to Goliath and Elisa for their use for the next few nights. Elisa had been absolutely mortified that Goliath had told Adam about her fertility cycle and his instinctive and extremely lusty reaction to it… but she'd had to admit that having a cottage for them to use during their three nights of nonstop sex, was better than her original idea of disappearing into the bayous for the duration. They had taken over the cottage just before dawn Friday morning, and hadn't been seen since. (Oh, they'd been heard from since then, or at least Goliath had been heard, but everyone graciously pretended they heard nothing.)

Inside the mansion, in one of the upstairs dens, Fox sat in an easy chair and looked at the scene before her with an amused smile on her face.

When the gargoyles had gone to their sleep that morning, several people had noted that Lexington and Rebecca, who had been missing most of the night, had arrived together on the rooftop just before dawn, holding hands. They'd looked both heartily embarrassed and deliriously happy, but since dawn had been only seconds away, no one had the time to ask them where they'd been and what they'd been up to all Thursday night, while everyone else in both clans had been at the fais do-do.

So there'd been no time for questions then, and as soon as the gargoyles had awoken at sunset and shaken the last few stone shards off, the pair had glided away together, either not hearing or conveniently ignoring the questions being called after them. Adam had forbidden anyone to follow the pair, saying with a smile that if those two had found that they were happy with each other, then that was really all that mattered.

Everyone had agreed, including Fox; she certainly hadn't been looking for them when she'd gone to the upstairs den, where the clan kept their computer, to send an email to her husband David. She had figured that the two kids were up in a tree somewhere, doing what the gargoyle equivalent of hormone-crazed teenagers naturally do best, and she wouldn't have been a bit surprised to learn that they'd already gone past the "k-i-s-s-i-n-g" stage and were now working on the baby-making part of the rhyme. Which is why she'd been both surprised and amused to find Lex and Rebecca at the computer, thoroughly engrossed in a game of Myst. She really should have known…

When she'd come in, Lex had been sitting at the computer station, while Rebecca leaned over his shoulder and coached him on a particular puzzle that he'd evidently been having problems with before. Rebecca had been saying, "…don't blame you; I got stuck there for a little while. Okay, drain the water out of the chest…"

"I did, and it's still not floating!" Lex had complained.

"Think 'Real Life' for a moment. Once you've bailed all the water out of a leaky boat, how do you ensure it won't sink again?"

"I'd plug up all the--d'oh!" as Lex slapped himself on the forehead.

"That's right; you have to close the spigot again! Go ahead, close it, and see what happens next…"

"I can't believe I didn't figure that out while I was playing the game over at Matt's place," Lex had grumbled at himself as he'd complied.

"Well, I spent nearly every night that I wasn't on patrol in town or hunting in the bayou, playing this game until I'd figured it all out," Rebecca had shrugged. "From what you've told me, you haven't had nearly as much time to play…"

Fox had settled back in an easy chair with a book she'd been meaning to read for months—a signed copy of Guerilla Warfare: A Historical and Biographical Sourcebook; it had been a birthday present from David—while occasionally looking up to see what the kids were up to.

In due course and with only two more hints from Rebecca, Lex finished the game, and grouched, "That's it? I free the guy from his prison, and he just goes back to writing in his book? Sheez, for all the buildup, this is a pretty lame ending!"

"Yeah, I was hoping for more, too, and I sent an email to the creators complaining about it. Hopefully the sequel will be even better! Did you hear that it's supposed to be coming out next year?" Rebecca said, before suggesting that they switch from the computer to the Nintendo setup in the corner, and play Super Mario 64.

While the two gargoyles were busy setting up the Nintendo, Fox casually asked a few questions, and found out that Lexington and Rebecca had unknowingly met each other online several months ago; that "LadyHawke" and "Braveheart" had been chatting merrily for some time without either one knowing the other was a gargoyle!

Fox shook her head as she tried to digest that information. "Out of all the millions of people online, the odds that you two would end up in the same chat room together are just beyond belief! That's got to be the biggest coincidence of the decade…"

"We thought so too," Rebecca said off-handedly as she put in the game cartridge, "Until we started talking about where we'd really come across each other for the first couple of times."

"And where was that?" Fox asked, intrigued. "I thought the P.I.T. had the first real gargoyles-friendly site out there, and it can't be more than a few weeks old…"

"Yeah, that's the first real pro-gargoyles site out there; most of the others that mention us are definitely hostile, or just calling us an urban legend and a gigantic hoax," Rebecca agreed. "But neither of us went online just looking for other gargoyles; we went looking for other people who like the stuff we like! Video games, new technology, really good online comics…"

"And gliding at night," Lex added. "But it's pretty hard to find humans who do that; with their poor night-vision—sorry, no offense meant—anyway, most humans only go hang-gliding during the day, and the few who enjoy doing it at night don't have much of a presence online. I did a search on Google for it, and only found one website that had more to say about hang-gliding at night, other than that doing it on the 4th of July would be one of 'many undignified ways to die'."

"Though they're right about that much, by the way," Rebecca added with a suddenly grim look. "When American Independence Day rolls around, we stay well away from the fireworks displays! We actually lost a clan member to a fireworks mortar hit, back in 1974… Uh, sorry; where were we?" as she lost the grim expression and looked sheepish.

"Hang gliding at night, in general," Lex reminded her, before turning to Fox again. "So I found this one website, created by H.E. DuMedd; a guy who enjoyed hang-gliding both day and night. He found hang-gliding at night more challenging, because you get fewer thermals at night than you do during the day; he wore night-vision goggles and even took some pictures of the landscape while he was gliding, with 1600-speed film. He had some great pics of California's state and national parks by night! It's a shame he crashed and died last summer; I would have liked to… Well, anyway, the first time I went to his site, while I was signing his guest book, I noticed this other signature from someone calling herself 'LadyHawke'…"

Rebecca explained, "I'd found that site a few months before, and in my signature I'd left the address of the site I'd chosen for my homepage that week. I don't really have a homepage of my own—not yet, anyway, though if I can ever persuade Adam that we can sell our clan's artworks online, we can—well, anyway, since I don't have one of my own I like to provide links to sites that I really like, instead. And when I signed that guestbook, I left a link to the Carnivore Forum; it's a chat room for fans of Kevin & Kell."

"Kevin and Kell?" Fox asked with a raised eyebrow. "Is this some Hollywood couple I've never heard of?"

"Hardly!" Rebecca snorted. "No, 'Kevin and Kell' is this utterly awesome online comic strip! It's about this world inhabited entirely by sentient animals, and this couple that meets online and fall in love, and only find out when they meet in real life that she's a wolf and he's a rabbit! But they get married anyway, and they have a son from Kell's first marriage who's half-wolf, half-fox, an adopted daughter from Kevin's first marriage who's a porcupine--"

"Hedgehog," Lexington quickly corrected her.

"Porcupine; check the archive for last May! The strip said on May 1st that she underwent a genetic conversion after coming to America," Rebecca retorted, before turning to Fox again with a sheepish grin. "Sorry, that's one of our more debated points. Anyway, it's a really great comic; you should check it out sometime!"

"It's especially appealing for us gargoyles," Lex explained, "Because it deals with something that we have to deal with all the time: getting along with other species when there are some really profound differences, more than just skin-deep. But we're not the only ones who like it! It's got a lot of cyber-humor, too, like tonight's strip; this wandering thread that disappeared from the forum a few months ago, came back for Thanksgiving…" Lex faltered at the slowly glazing look in Fox's eyes, then said apologetically, "You really need the graphics in order to get some of the jokes."

"Anyway, I was already a member of the Carnivore Forum, when Lex signed on as Braveheart last winter," Rebecca said with a smile. "Since then, we've been chatting with Bugjuice, Riffraff and the others about the strip, about what life must be like in Kevin and Kell's world, about other stuff that more-or-less relates to our mutual interest. One of which has been –ahem- the recent appearance in the media of another sentient species…"

"Which Bojangles started, not either of us!" Lexington said swiftly. "Bugjuice wants me to weigh in with my 'expert opinion', but I privately told him to keep quiet abut my being what I am, even if I told him I'm Braveheart at that P.I.T. meeting, the Thursday before last."

"And I haven't added anything lately, because I was offline for nearly three weeks," Rebecca said almost apologetically. "It took a lot longer for our truck to get to New York than we'd planned, because it broke down in Tennessee."

By this time, Fox's head was spinning, as she tried to keep track of the main thread of conversation with all the asides the two gargoyles were throwing in. But she managed, "So, Rebecca, you haven't let the others know who 'LadyHawke' is yet?"

"No, and I'm not going to, until Adam gives the say-so," Rebecca said promptly. "I promised when I first went online that I'd never let slip to anyone about my species without his express permission."

"Neither of us has even gone to the chat room since we arrived here," Lex admitted. "It's really tempting, but now we're afraid one of us might let something slip accidentally about us being together now…"

"And then the cat just might start clawing its way out of the bag," Fox finished for him. "I applaud your self-restraint, both of you."

"Well, we have a lot of other stuff to keep us occupied," Lex admitted with a sheepish grin. "Playing Myst, the Nintendo games, Rebecca showing me around the estate… just talking, and finding out how much we have in common…"

"Talking is good," Fox agreed with a smile. A smile that became more amused, as she noticed that while they'd been talking, the two gargoyles' tails had crept together, seemingly with minds of their own, and were now slowly intertwining. "Well, I'm going to finish this book in my room, and leave the two of you to talk some more, all right? If anyone asks, I'll tell them you're fine and not to bother you."

Lex and Rebecca thanked her with embarrassed grins, and Fox got to her feet and sashayed out the door. But after closing the door, she paused and leaned back against the frame for a few moments, just listening.

And when she heard Rebecca shout joyfully, "Tickle attack!", followed by the sounds of a scuffle and Lex's high-pitched yelp, she smiled and went on her way. Tickling was often good, too; just like talking, it could lead to other things…

Author's Notes: H.E. DuMedd and his night-gliding website never really existed, so far as I know, and hang gliding at night is indeed very risky, for those people born without their own wings. I have heard of people who've gone hang-gliding at night… but with limited visibility and without most of those lift-giving thermals caused by the sun warming the air currents, it's done only by the most advanced gliders, and only in certain cleared and relatively safe areas. In other words, kids, don't try this at home!

Nor does the Carnivore Forum actually exist, at least not by that name. But the online comic strip 'Kevin and Kell' not only really existed back in 1996, it's still going strong today! It can be found at (and if you're reading this at where they keep clipping out the weblinks, just do a search for "Kevin and Kell" and you'll find it right away!) To quote a website that's another fan of the strip, "KEVIN AND KELL is the only cartoon strip which can balance family life, technology, career pressure, teenage dating, and the need to kill something and eat it." Go check it out!

To be continued…