By Kimberly Towle (email: kimbertow at yahoo dot com)

Author's note: this isn't set in my "Life Goes On" series. Just a random bit o'fun…

Standard disclaimers and acknowledgments apply; I'm not making a dime off this!

Oh yeah, footloose and free was the way to be! Fang had broken out of the Labyrinth two weeks ago, and this time he'd been smart and gotten the hell out of New York, instead of trying to hook up with any more bigshots like that Thailog. Nope, best bet was to just get away from those gargoyles altogether, and go somewhere they didn't go. New Jersey, to start with; he had the idea that later on he'd go further west.

Yep, when you had wings, it was pretty easy to break into penthouses. Half the time these folks didn't even put locks on their windows or outside doors. The rest of the time, a hefty shot of electricity took out most of the alarm systems, and the only time he'd actually tripped an alarm, he'd still gotten clean away with the goods before the cops had come pounding on the door.

Man, these penthouse folks ate the good stuff! That caviar was just too salty, but they had veal and venison and more fancy grub that he hadn't seen since the days he'd been working for Xanatos. And the booze…! Wine, whiskey, you name it; the lair he'd made for himself atop another building was now stocked with enough booze to kill a dozen frat boys.

He'd scored some new clothes, too. The silk shirts didn't last long after he ripped holes in them for the wings, but he'd grabbed enough of them to last him a while anyway. Along with plenty of Rolex watches and other men's jewelry; enough solid gold neckchains and other shiny stuff to make that Mr. T dude green with envy. Pants were still a problem; the only ones that fit on his mutate legs were so damn baggy that he felt like a friggin' clown. But what the hell, he'd been wearing just shorts for a couple years now; he was used to it. And anybody fool enough to call him "Short Pants" wouldn't live long enough to do it twice.

Saturday evening; his best time to score, with all the rich types out hobnobbing with their rich friends, going to operas and crap. Fang cruised the city until he found a penthouse with no lights on, one that he hadn't scored from yet.

Fang frowned as he broke in through the patio doors, looking at a couple of Persian pussies that were all puffed up and hissing at him in fear. He hadn't liked cats before he'd been mutated, and the fact that he was part cat now hadn't changed his opinion. Uppity meowing furballs that were better off as roadkill, far as he was concerned. He started to reach for one with the idea of tossing it off the roof, then shrugged as the two cats broke and ran for cover. So long as they stayed out of his way while he got what he wanted, he'd let the furballs live.

He was hungry, so he headed for the kitchen first. Maybe this family would have exotic tastes like the last one he'd raided; that ostrich meat had been a nice change of pace.

Nope, no ostrich meat in the fridge, but there was this covered blue plastic bowl of something on the top shelf. Mildly curious to see what was inside, he tugged to get it open. The lid didn't come off at first, and in annoyance he tugged harder. Stupid Tupperware; it was supposed to be easy to open. Someone must have pushed all the air out last time it had been closed.

Finally, he ripped the lid off. A little too hard; the contents flew up out of the bowl in a dark green cloud… dried plants? Hey, had he just opened somebody's stash of Mary Jane? He hadn't had a joint in…

Then the smell hit him.

Elisa went down into the Labyrinth, looking for her brother. "Hey, Derek!" she called out when she found him in the common area. "Fang's been caught!"

Talon looked up from his conversation with another resident and hurried over. "Where'd they catch him? What has he been up to?" Then he noticed the odd look on Elisa's face, like she was trying not to smirk. "What's that look for?"

Still sporting that odd look, Elisa said, "He was found in a penthouse apartment in Newark, by the owners after they came back from a night on the town."

"Oh, crap… Tell me he didn't hurt 'em."

"Nope; by all accounts, he just lay there on the kitchen floor blinking up at them until the cops slapped some cuffs on him and dragged him away. Since Manhattan's better known for weirdness these days, their precinct captain called us, and Matt advised them on the best way to ground Fang's electricity before he sobers up and remembers how to use it."

"Sobers up? What, was he drunk?"

Elisa couldn't hold back the smirk any longer. "Nope; he was stoned. On catnip!"