LIFE GOES ON

MATING GAMES PART 6:

Clouds Gathering

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

Standard disclaimers and acknowledgments apply. I'm not making a dime of profit; please don't sue.

Author's Note: the tragic demise of the Paris Clan, and Demona's involvement in it, can be read in the TGS story "From the Heart." My tale does diverge from that story somewhat, but only in that my version of the Paris Clan had no eggs in the rookery at that time (different timing for breeding seasons.)

New Orleans, the week after Thanksgiving, 1996:

6.1: The Honeymooners

Monday came, and Elisa glad to see it. Not that she didn't love to have time alone with her husband, her beloved Goliath; she had treasured nearly every moment of this last weekend. Since the world at large still considered her to be a single woman, and since after all that had happened Elisa still wasn't comfortable under the same roof as the Xanatos family, even now that they were married their time together was relatively rare, something to be savored. Being given a little cottage to themselves for the weekend, for a "second honeymoon", had been a true delight. And even though she knew it was due more to his gargoyle physiology than to her good looks, there was something delicious about knowing that, sometimes, her man just couldn't keep his hands off her.

However, even a honeymooner could get—well, not bored, but…just want to do something fun, in addition to nearly nonstop sex. But she'd stayed in the cottage that the New Orleans Clan had loaned to her and Goliath, for the duration of her fertile period. It wasn't just for her own modesty's sake, either (though she suspected she was going to turn red as a traffic light the first time someone gave her a knowing look and/or commented on all the noise they'd been making.) Goliath had explained to her how, when she was fertile, the sight or even scent of another male anywhere near her would instantly enrage him; the instinctive rage of a breeding male trying to pass on his genes to the next generation and finding competition in the way.

While Elisa knew, deep in her soul, that Goliath would never lay violent hands on her, she wasn't so sure that he had enough self-control to avoid doing damage to the cottage's furniture. So she'd stayed in the cottage, sleeping most of the days away, and spoken face-to-face with no one, not even any women who might have had recent contact with a man. And despite all her precautions, she'd still have to find a way to repay the clan for the easy chair they'd broken. (Though not in an act of rage; Goliath had wanted to try a new position with her, and the furniture hadn't quite been up to the task…!)

Not that she'd been entirely isolated; she had spoken through the door to the people who came to bring trays of food during the daylight hours, though the exchanges had been mostly just minor pleasantries about the weather or about the different Cajun and Creole-style dishes they'd been bringing her. She'd also spoken a few times on the cell phone that Xanatos had given her before leaving for New Orleans, one that her home phone number had been forwarded to. Chavez had called once, on Sunday evening (and of course Goliath had taken advantage of her preoccupation with the phone, to play his little tail tricks on her; she'd had to fake a violent coughing fit while batting the pesky devil back before he got too carried away with her!) Elisa had assured her captain that she was doing fine, the coughing was just from some water that had gone down the wrong pipe, but she was absolutely covered with chicken pox and had no idea when the blasted disease would run its course and she could return to work.

Matt had called twice, once on Friday night and again on Saturday afternoon. The Friday night call had been cut very short, at Elisa's suggestion; she'd noticed how Goliath's eyes had been glowing and he'd been sinking his talons into the carpet, just because Elisa was on the phone with another man. After hanging up, Elisa had taken Goliath to task for not controlling his instincts better; it wasn't like she and Matt had been having phone sex right in front of him! Then she'd had to explain what 'phone sex' was, which had led to another very interesting experiment…

During the second call, Saturday afternoon while Goliath was asleep in stone and blissfully unaware, Matt had apprised Elisa of the latest events in New York. Elisa had agreed with Matt that Xanatos was a sneaky, arrogant bastard who really needed to be taken down a peg or three, but the clan would be far better off if the public believed that costumed criminals had been the other combatants in last Monday's battle with the Quarrymen. And the clan would be even better off if Demona stayed away from New York from now on and made her home in Japan, though Elisa shuddered to think of what damage that bloodthirsty bitch of a gargoyle could do to the peaceful village of Ishimura, and fervently hoped that Kai and the others knew what they were getting into with her.

With Demona out of the country and the public believing that the gargoyles weren't to blame for the deaths of eleven Quarrymen after all, it was probably safe for the clan to come home now. But Elisa hadn't said anything to Goliath about that… partly because, so far as the Big Guy knew, the only reasons they were out of the city at all were to make an alliance with the New Orleans Clan, and let their clan's unmated males find mates among the single females available down here.

Elisa still hadn't told Goliath or any of the clan about Monday's Quarrymen battle, about the city that had been screaming for their blood, or about Demona's involvement in that battle and the suspected presence of foreign gargoyles as well. Since she knew that they would have wanted to investigate personally and thereby remain in the danger zone, she hadn't told anyone for the clan's own good… and every time she thought of that she had to fight down the urge to vomit. Demona had done such horrible things, atrocities, for what that female had been so sure was for the good of all gargoyles…

But that was something to push out of her mind once more, to worry about some other day. Today marked what should be the end of her current fertile period, and she'd aired out every room of the cottage to get rid of any lingering scent, before trotting up to the mansion in the late afternoon to see what had been happening with the clans lately. She found Fox, sitting and chatting with one of the human clan members, and managed not to blush too red when Fox asked her how her weekend had been with that inevitable lascivious wink. Fox caught her up to speed on the affairs of the rest of the clan:

Lexington and Rebecca, who had just begun to show their affections for each other last Thursday, had already agreed to become mates! They were in New Orleans right now, but had called the mansion last night to tell everyone the good news.

Lexington wasn't the only one who had proposed while Goliath and Elisa had been preoccupied. Although 'proposed' evidently wasn't quite the word for it, from what Fox had heard… but however it had happened, Hudson had agreed to become mates with Ursula, less than an hour after Lexington's news had reached the mansion!

Elisa was sincerely glad for the two gargoyle elders, though not nearly as surprised by their decision as she was by Lexington and Rebecca's pairing up so quickly. She hadn't seen much of Lex and Rebecca together, but before she and Goliath had sequestered themselves, she'd seen how the two elders spent most of their time together. And not with the nervous tension that had surrounded Brooklyn and the ladies vying for his attentions; no, theirs was the sort of closeness that was comfortable, like cats curled up and dozing together before a fireplace.

Fox confirmed that the elders' comfortable closeness had become even more apparent over the last few nights; when not keeping an eye on the younger courting couples to ensure everyone behaved themselves, Hudson had even accompanied Ursula while she'd been taking care of the New Orleans Clan's hatchlings. They would sit contentedly together, watching the children play with Bronx, who was getting more loving attention and playtime from the hatchlings than he'd had in years.

Fox also reported that Brooklyn had set up a dating schedule to settle some of the conflicts between the four females competing for his affections. Last Saturday he'd gone to New Orleans with Marie, Sunday he'd gone in with Martha, and on Tuesday he was going in with Isabel, but tonight he was going in with Yvette. Yvette was one of the clan's most talented seamstresses, and she had agreed to take a few minutes out from her date tonight to take Lexington's measurements; this clan had a tradition of wearing fancy clothes for mating ceremonies just as humans did for weddings, and Lexington was going to need a custom-made tuxedo. It would be a challenge to make a tuxedo or reasonable facsimile for a web-winged gargoyle, but Yvette was reportedly confident that she could do it.

Angela had been helping out the clan's chronicler with some old documents that had been written in Latin, and now that she'd finished with that she was eagerly exploring New Orleans. Last night she'd gone in without Broadway, since he'd been busy in the kitchen while Martha was on her date, but tonight they were going in together. Broadway had made a list of the places he wanted to see; some of them weren't the usual tourist attractions, but they were places that Martha had written about in her novels.

"Oh, that was the other thing I meant to tell you!" Fox said with a snap of her fingers, after Elisa had looked at her blankly and echoed, "Novels?" It seemed that some of the gargoyles in this clan were contributing to their keep, and not just by catching game and fishing for everyone in the nearby bayou; they were honest breadwinners! Martha hadn't really made that much so far from her books, the "Gumshoe Gumbo" series of humorous mystery novels set in New Orleans, but several other gargoyles were artists in one medium or another, and the human clan members sold their works for them in local galleries, swap meets and art fairs.

Isabel, who crafted metalwork sculptures, had even sent a piece to a gallery in New York two months ago, not long before news of the Manhattan gargoyles had reached New Orleans. "I told David about that when I called him earlier, and he said he'd go take a look at it sometime today or tomorrow," Fox said with a smile. "If it's as good as the ones I've already seen in her workshop, I wouldn't be surprised to see it displayed somewhere in the Aerie Building by the end of the week. Remind me to show you the mini-sculpture of hers I already bought; a tabletop-sized one of a fox chasing a rabbit. It's so good, you have to look twice in order to realize she made the whole sculpture out of old car and engine parts…"

Elisa spent the rest of the afternoon with Fox and their clan escort, peeking into the artisans' workspaces scattered here and there across the estate. She particularly admired a fired clay sculpture that someone named Robert had made, of a cat crouching while peering intently at something unseen; it seemed as if at any second the statue would spring to life as a gargoyle did at sunset, and immediately pounce on its chosen prey. Robert also did oil paintings, and Elisa thought her brother Derek might appreciate one that Robert still had on his work-in-progress easel; an image of an octopus slipping out of its den in a coral reef, to snag a fish swimming by.

Sunset approached, and Elisa went back to the cottage to wait for Goliath to awaken. Stone skin cracked and fell away as he roared a greeting to the night, then rumbled a quieter and far more affectionate greeting to Elisa. She snuggled into his embrace for a moment before asking, "So, has my scent changed again?"

"It has," he confirmed with a faint sigh of regret. Then he added hastily, "Though that certainly hasn't lessened your overall attractiveness, in my eyes!"

"Glad to hear it, Big Guy," Elisa responded with an affectionate squeeze. Then she gave a tiny yelp of surprise, and looked down to see his tail twined around her leg and snaking upwards. She looked up again to see the suggestive glint in his eyes, and decided aloud, "What the heck; I didn't tell anyone we'd be out immediately…"

x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x

They eventually emerged from the cottage together, just in time to wave goodbye to Brooklyn, Angela and Broadway, leaving for New Orleans with the local clan members Yvette, Lucretia and Cassius. "We can arrange to give you both a guided tour of the city as well," the clan leader Adam said as he stood beside them, while the delivery truck rumbled down the long driveway and out of sight. "The city has many attractions that it would be a shame to miss, even though Mardi Gras is still a few months away. But for tonight, after taking care of necessary business, I thought I would show you something here on the estate…"

To be continued…