56 - "Generations"
Originally RE-Written: May 14th, 2001

Contains: Profanity
Rated: PG-13

October 3rd, 2001
Through the white, clean walls, squared off in perfect symmetry, lit with the brightest of artificial florescent, did Elisa slowly travel, in awe of her surroundings. Door after door passed by her, on the fifth and highest floor of this impressive facility, built with the newest and most modern of construction practices and design specifications. This floor had been fortunate enough to be graced with a few of Todd Hawkins' painted murals, and they flowed gracefully from one end to the other with splashes of sharp, rich color and lifelike textures, appearing to spring to life, tearing their way from the confines of the walls and given tangibility from their prison. The dying evening sun, barely given the chance to shine through the collecting Autumn cloud cover, poured through the slatted windows of the private, divided living quarters, allowing the large spacious rooms the softened light to give the residents here a new, fresh outlook on their burdensome lives.

"Man, this place is amazing..." Elisa whispered, her eyes aglow with fascination and wonder, almost a perfect similarity to when she first ventured into castle Wyvern, though her amazement of tenth century decor now replaced by the latest the third millennium had to offer to her deep chocolate eyes. "It's as big as the castle." At last, she came upon the far end of this floor, to where the rooms tapered off, and she entered into a sectioned living area, almost as if a small house had been captured, trapped within the steel girders and cold-welded rivets of the Xanatos Shelter. She slipped through the door, and found herself in a living room possessed of familiar decoration, pictures of well-known family members and even some more elaborate and somewhat gaudy embellishments between the refreshingly neoteric home furnishings, perhaps only here in a hard-won battle with a young, blond woman with the pride and power of a lioness.

"Hello? Anybody here?" Elisa called out, approaching the middle of the sunken living room, searching these spacious quarters for any signs of life.

"Elisa?"

The raven-haired beauty whirled around to see Maggie Maza emerging from a distant hallway, her deep flaxen tress curling about her brow and shoulders, bouncing slightly with every one of her exuberant steps. "Hey, Maggie."

"Sorry, Elisa," she immediately apologized for her tardiness when gracing her sister-in-law's hand with a hearty grasp, "Derek and I were giving mom and dad the grand tour of our place."

Elisa leaned over, sending an obtrusive peek over Maggie's shoulder, seeing her brother guiding their parents back out to where she was standing.

"Hey, sis." Derek greeted her, watching his mother and father rush out to see their daughter, who in the last few weeks had been too occupied with her job and her own expanded family to drop by the Maza residence as much as they would like. He stepped down slowly, watching as his older sister was smothered by their parents, until she playfully batted them off, and forced them with nothing but a pointed finger to sit down. "So, how do you like? You haven't seen this place with all our stuff moved in."

Elisa snapped a scrutinizing gaze to the surroundings, and found herself centering on the naked Hawaiian hula dancer lamp. "Oh yeah...it's great, Derek."

Maggie sighed, and hoped one day a cruel act of fate would somehow occur at random, a chance encounter of destiny in her favor, to at least rid her of some of Derek's bachelor decorations left over from when he was going through the academy. "I hate that thing," she hissed, eyeing the lamp with a mordant hatred, "and one day, I'm going to..."

"Do nothing, kitten." Derek finished severely for her, steadily moving between her searing gaze and his favored adornment.

"Well," she started, brightening up her expression, to that of what Derek slightly feared, "maybe the baby will 'accidentally break it." She smiled while rubbing her stomach.

"Oh, I can't wait." Diane cut in, soothing her hands over Maggie's shoulders, an action that Elisa took great notice of. "A beautiful baby, a grandchild to fuss over and spoil to no end. To take to the park, and show off to all my jealous friends."

Elisa inwardly cringed, knowing that this child, yet unborn, is what they had been waiting for all along, a chance to share their world with children of their blood, a simple pleasure Trinity may never be able to indulge in.

Derek rubbed a hand over his shaven head, only a faint outline of his thick hairline left. "Maggie's only a month and a half along, mom. There will be nothing to spoil for at least another eight months or so."

"Perhaps you should concentrate on your other grandchild," Elisa drawled, having noticed her parents' absence from the castle to help with both Derek ad Beth's moving plans, "you know, the one who's not a tiny fetus? Trinity misses her 'Gampa' and 'Gamma'."

"Oh, Elisa, I know we haven't been around a lot lately, but we were needed here, helping Derek and Maggie get settled." Diane explained their lack of visitation. "And Beth can't handle a moving job by herself like the one she had a month ago."

"Yeah, sis. Beth's an idiot."

"Derek!" Diane scolded him sternly, watching the young man shrug his shoulders and laugh. "She needed our help with painting and moving."

"I know, mom." Elisa whispered. "I suppose..."

"Anyway," Peter at last broke through, "how's the...family?" He flapped his arms in an almost laughable attempt to relay just whom he was talking about. "You know, after..."

Elisa nodded at her father's silent reminder of just what the clan, her clan, has been through in their personal lives the last couple of months. "Well, Lex is doing better. He seems to be dealing with his anger and pain, and is opening up a lot lately. He's even planning on going to Ottawa soon to visit with Rain. Annika and Angela though...aren't really...talking at the moment. It seems they're too stubborn to relent to their anger, if only for a minute, and apologize to each other about what happened between them...and Demona and Todd..."

"And Delilah?" Maggie inquired of perhaps the gargoyle she was closest to, a devoted friendship formed in her formidable years in the Labyrinth.

"Better." Elisa answered almost out right. "We held our own funeral for her friend Jessica a few days after the real one, giving her the chance to grieve, and the fact she can't have children...is hard for someone this young and inexperienced to deal with...but she's managing the best way she can."

"I hope so," said Maggie, "I miss her. With all the work Derek and I have been given to get this shelter up and running smoothly, and of course, getting our lives back in order, I haven't had a chance to visit her. It's a shame she can't come here anymore, due to our place in the public eye, and we can't be sure the residents who aren't from the Labyrinth would like gargoyles roaming the halls."

"Well, she has a full life, with her patrols, and of course...Shadow. She's become a frequent baby-sitter for Trini too."

"And just how many more words has my niece said?"

"I've pretty much lost count." Elisa joked, an amazingly elated emotion flowing through her, whenever speaking of her growing daughter and her astonishing development.

"And when's the first flight?" Derek asked of her, his thin goatee stretching around a swelling, crooked grin, knowing by the stare he received in return that she was definitely fearing her baby girl from taking to wing above the unforgiving streets of Manhattan island.

"Don't even get me started, furball!" Elisa hissed, causing Derek to back off quite quickly, the wounded fawn retreating from the tigress. "Or should I say cueball? Anyway, if she ever flies, it'll be..."

"Well, that's one thing you don't have to worry about, Maggie," Peter interrupted unintentionally, "your kid flying around the house, or jumping out the windows." He received a chorus of laughter from his jesting remark, all but Elisa, who merely forced a weak smile, although inwardly hurt by the fact that her daughter had wings was being used as ammunition for nothing but a simple joke.

"You know," Diane started, directing a fading smile to her son and daughter-in-law, "you never told us if you actually planned to have this child."

"Uhmmmm..." Maggie looked skywards, thoroughly embarrassed by the topic and turning a blushed shade of pink, as Derek crossed his arms and leaned back into the couch beside his wife. "It seems we got a...little excited one night, and..." she sheepishly ducked her head, "forgot to use any birth control."

"Isn't that how Trinity came along, Elisa?" Diane remarked to her eldest daughter.

"You're acting as if it was a crime." she replied curtly, seeing her mother soften her eyes to Elisa's injured expression.

"Elisa, you know I didn't mean anything by that."

"Yeah, I know, I guess no one would expect I would actually want a gargoyle child...a normal girl shouldn't be born with wings, eh mom?" she seethed, quite accidentally perhaps, yet effectively bringing the room to a silent standstill, and an awkward pause.

"Uh, so...have we told you about Claw and Sharon?" Maggie cautiously interjected, a wary smile and a polite tone presented forth, hoping to soothe the anger flowing through her sister-in-law, visible within her tensed body language and the once soft chocolate grace turning as hard as tempered steel. "They seem to be doing well...extremely well, and it seems she was talking about moving in with him."

"That's great..." Elisa responded, barely a trace of emotion present in her frigid tone, now sitting silently, with a crossed leg bobbing furiously against her knee.

"Elisa," Diane nudged closer to her daughter, knowing her temper had been set off one more, and approaching this coming subject with great discretion, "there's...something else we would like to talk to you about..."

"What?"

"Well, we would like to give Derek and Maggie something very special for their child. We would like to give them...ah, the crib we gave to you for Trinity."

Elisa's brow raised, as she turned wide-eyed and slack-jawed to her mother. "I beg your pardon..."

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

At the onset of the sun's final bravura, the sky had turned to an angry purple womb, giving birth to cloud after cold, heavy cloud, and forming a thick misted fog to cover the filtered light, turning the high towers and turrets surrounding the stone statues into a series of vague, gray shapes. The heavens had gathered with billows of cotton, suspended just above Goliath's spire, preparing for the eventual onslaught of Winter storms, frozen tears of crystalline confection falling their way to the earth.

And as a spidery webbing of the tiniest of cracks crawled their way over the granite surface of the gargoyles, did the night at last take hold. Screams of warriors, young and old, echoed in the stratosphere, granting life to the clan of Wyvern.

Annika shook the remainder of her skin loose, the angel appearing from the artist's sculpted masterpiece, and hopped from her perch, just narrowly grazing past Angela and connecting shoulder against shoulder. The dawn-tinted seductress then received a feral growl in response at her unintended impact.

"Watch it!" Angela snapped.

"Bite me!" Annika hissed, as Broadway discreetly crept a muscular arm over his mate's shoulders, a futile attempt to pull her away before anything more could happen. "What's the matter, Broadway? Have to protect your woman from me?"

"There would be no one, human or gargoyle, to stop me from tearing you apart!" the firstborn daughter of Goliath cut back, eyes filled with the scarlet rage from her mother's very blood. "Now if you'll move from my way, I'm going to visit my mother..."

As the lavender female sauntered past Annika, nose turned up to the scowling gargess, and forcefully brushing a hard shoulder to her chest, she watched with burning eyes to her companion preparing for her flight. "Tell the bitch I said hello," Annika called out, much to the dismay of the clan present at her side, "I hope she chokes on whatever bottle of booze she's slamming back at the moment."

Angela wrenched her head around, an apparent shock and surprise at the ferocity of the caustic barb born from the other's tongue, and lept from her place. Only with Broadway and Othello's intrusion between the rapidly approaching gargess, did they at last end this fight before it could become physical. Angela slapped away Broadway's offered hand, and soon found herself drifting through the sky, towards Destine Manor.

Annika stood her ground, watching with a lowered brow the fading view of a once good friend.

"How much longer is this dispute going to continue, Annika?" came the low rumble of Goliath, having touched down with barely a curl of the wind beside the young woman.

"As long as your precious daughter thinks her mother was justified in her decision to try and ruin my life." She swept past the massive leader in a huff and headed inside, as the others released the collective breath held within their chests.

"Man, how long is this going to last?" Brooklyn drawled, appearing by his leader's side, the bare edges of a wounded grin creeping onto his crafted beak.

Goliath sighed with contempt, his massive wings heaving with a forced breath, tapping the ends of an impressive wingspan against abraded Scottish stones. "Those two are perhaps more stubborn than either Elisa or I."

"So, whose side are you on?"

Goliath peered incredulously down to the brick-red second, noticing him shying away from clenched lavender fists. "There is no side to be taken. It is merely the foolishness of youth allowing anger to cloud their friendship over a mistake." he said sternly, simply shaking his head, and soon following the rest of the clan inside, leaving only a caramel-colored gargoyle to brave the growing winds and kept watch over the ancient cornices.

Yet another remained as well, his love for this split-winged being present on stoic features, so much so as to ultimately break down his unyielding scowl. "My love?" Othello whispered, as he crept forwards, seeing his mate stand alone with a pained expression.

"I am all right, Othello..." Desdemona answered quietly, barely a movement of her lengthy tied tress left to sway in the blustery swells. "Just...thinking."

He tenderly stole arms of brute force around his lover and mate, those that fought against the strongest of wild Scottish game and the mightiest of Viking warriors, and yet, possessed the delicacy of the gentlest breeze. He held her tightly to his chestplate, her form almost melting into his sturdy build, and whispered into her right ear, "And just what thoughts do flow through the lovely strands of golden hair and eyes brighter than that of the stars?"

A smile somehow made it's way to swollen lips of dark reddish-ocher, until abruptly falling away, leaving only a flattened pout. "I keep thinking of my sister, and how she is suffering. My final words to her weeks ago, and everything that has happened." She turned slowly in his encircled arms, taking solace upon his steadily rising chest. "I have not seen her in two weeks, ever since the night she and Annika attacked each other. And now, the rift between all of us is growing wider with every passing eve. Angela will barely speak to me, let alone attempting to mend her friendship with Annika. It seems she blames me in part for her mother's recent depression, and the lines have been unwittingly drawn, Annika and I on one side, and Angela and Demona on the other. I wish now, my love, I had not said those hurtful things to my sister..."

"You were perhaps angry as well, and I believe our stubborn sister needed a stern warning of her impetuous actions." his deep intonation flowed about her, as he delved his lips into the bound locks trapped beneath her sharpened, curving brows, tasting delicious Spring blossoms with barely a hint of candied marigold. "It will be resolved soon enough, once both Angela and Annika have time to heed their hostility, and ponder what they would be destroying if they continue on this path, a hearty friendship."

"And me, my love?" She tipped her head up to her taller mate, laying eyes of simmering charcoal ember to his own burning ardent stare, as he found himself unable to resist planting a bracing kiss on her warm, responsive lips. "What action should I take?"

"Follow your heart, my dearest mate Desdemona. If you truly feel so regretful of your words, then do what you think is right."

She paused, and then looked down, tucking away underneath his chin, settling deeper into his stolid, robust form. "I wish I knew what that was..."

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

Within where the guilty confess their sins, where they take comfort in the house of God, and the almighty power and presence of he who grants most their rewarding faith, lay two forms engulfed in the light of more than a hundred glowing candles, single burning flames joined together to alight her dark flowing robes, and his forlorned expression.

Sister Rose glided serenely towards him, appearing as a spirit possessed only of devouring ebony cloth, and yet, she was as undeniably human as he was. She caressed a scarred hand over his shoulder, and he at last lifted his hanging head, peering with anguished eyes to his caretaker of years past. "You are still troubled, Todd Matthew." she decried, her voice low, soft, motherly when speaking to her favored charge.

"Yeah," he answered quietly, "I...I'm feeling a little lost right now, I guess."

"You are still thinking of what happened between you and Demona."

"I practically betrayed the woman I'm going to marry, hurt her, broke her heart when...when..."

"When kissing another woman." Rose answered for him, allowing him the chance to be spared once more of having to mention a mistake once made and still clouding his foremost thoughts. "Quite passionately by the way you described."

"I could have lost her..."

Rose released an unpretentious laughter into the still, calm air of this darkened chapel, this holy place of refuge where angels mark their passing with barely a wind among the dancing candlelight. "No, my child." she calmed his rampant fear of losing Annika's trust. "It was a mistake, and Annika knows that."

"A mistake...yeah..." he sounded still unconvinced.

"Are you attracted to Demona?" she asked, taking a seat beside him on the varnished oak pew, and almost startling him in the brutal abruptness of her question and the subject raised.

"......yeah." he swallowed, the consuming guilt evinced upon his tongue, and on his furrowed brow.

"And do you wish to replace Annika with her?" An almost laughable notion, though it served it's purpose, and sparked a wild-eyed look from her charge.

"No!" Her question acted more as a bullet shredding through his chest, and Todd answered back with great speed, defending the love held for his future wife. "No, of course not. I love Annika, and I want to marry her. I just wish...I wish I hadn't kissed Demona...heh, and I wish she wasn't so goddamn good looking..."

"Your great love for Annika won out against your modest attraction to Demona." she argued in his favor. "This very situation has happened to even the best of men."

"Are you saying I'm not the best of man?"

"Let me finish. The fact, my child, that you feel regret for your actions only further proves your love for your fiancé. This whole matter seems resolved."

"Dammit, that's the problem, no it's not!" he howled, the angered tone of youth casting off the stone pillars supporting the towering cathedral ceiling, eventually dying away into the highest spires where lay the ancient chiming bells, rung upon only the Sabbath days. He stood up, and trailed across the dark red carpeting in front of the podium, eyeing the stained glass windows lining the area near the roof, catching each stray beam of moonlight with precisely cut pieces of sharply hued amber crystal. "One kiss and everything's turned to crap! Annika hates Demona, and won't speak to Angela. Angela's pissed at me, Annika and Desdemona. And it's all my fault. Demona was my friend, a great friend, I enjoyed going to lunch and talking with her, painting the murals in her office...and now...now everything's different. I haven't even seen her for two weeks. How can I deal...with everything that's come out into the open, with all that's come between us?"

Rose looked up to him with eyes of dark forest glitter. "Have faith in your friends, and the meaningful friendships you have formed, and everything will be all right. You will face this like everything else which comes your way, with great strength and courage."

"But..." he stuttered, as she knew something else weighed heavily upon his tortured heart. "It scares me..."

"And what is that?"

"The fact that...there's a part of me...that loves Demona too..."

Rose developed a smirk so much unlike her. "You have developed a deep friendship with Demona, one that extends to love as well. It's not uncommon."

"But..." he protested once more.

"Todd." Only one word, and a soft tone brimmed with a disciplined finality, was needed to silence him. "You are making too much of this. Your feelings for Demona are nothing compared what you have forged with Annika. A relationship that will bring you both happiness and joy for the rest of your lives. I promise you."

Hearing her undying assurance brought a subtle curve to his lips, and the gleam back to his eyes, the flames aroused within the misted fog. He leaned down to one knee in front of her, capturing her hands in his own, marveling in soft skin, despite the wounds, and a memory of her soft embrace when but a child. "You never give up on me, do you?"

"Never, Todd Matthew," she whispered, running a hand upon the strong-clefted curvature of his cheek, inevitably moving up into the styled mahogany tress, frozen in place with the exact measure of hair gel, "never." A simple utterance, and though somewhat saddened, it was a promise brought forth by a peculiar power to bring even the strongest of men to their knees, creating nothing more than emasculate children with but her angelic inflection.

"I'd ask you if anything like this has happened to you," Todd started, placing himself back on the wooden bench, "but, you know...the whole nun thing."

Rose cocked an eyebrow, a quirky expression afflicting her seasoned beauty, even with the marred flesh trailing down the left side of her face. "You act as if I never had a life before my service to God and those in need." she joked, seeing Todd shrug his shoulders in his defense.

"Well, you've really never spoken of your past, and..." He trailed off, when the older woman dropped her eyes to her lap, her hands actually trembling within his firm grasp. "I'm sorry, Rose, I didn't mean to..."

"It's all right." she cut in, forcing a weak smile to the handsome young man beside her. "My past is just that...past. I only wish for you now, to look to the future, and the happiness it will bring."

It came without warning, the audacious grin she knew was concealed just beneath the surface, breaking through the pain and guilt with surprising ease. "Ah, yes, four months and counting down. Only one hundred and thirty five days as a single, free man. And of course, only a hundred and thirty one days until...the bachelor party. Heh heh heh..."

"You are...looking forward to your wedding," said Rose, visibly paling, her unusual skin pallor unnoticed by Todd, "aren't you?"

"Oh yeah, I mean, if Annika gets her wish, you'll be witness to the gala event of the millennium." he said with an air of edged witticism, knowing his fiancé was going a little overboard with the Xanatos millions at her disposal, her greedy little talons taking full advantage of Fox's gracious offer. "It's going to be great..."

Rose drew in a deep breath, gathering the courage to speak her mind, and perhaps hurt her charge far worse than any physical harm. "Todd, about the wedding...I...I will not be attending..."

"......w-what?"

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

A gentle humming played an infinite waltz upon the drifting sediment embedded within the walls, an era of time long past now only represented by a colored streak of dark maroon, yellow, and deep rural beige. The earthly tones were perhaps devoid of any brilliant tint, if not for the rich emerald plants left hanging suspended from the naturally carved granite ceiling, giving the fresh breath of life to this cave.

Her skin almost blended flawlessly with the blanketing ferns and draped leaves of lush Canadian naturals, if not for a high-spirited dance of movement across the cavern walls. Rain released the spirited tune through violet-painted lips, as she allowed the plants in her home of the Grotto, the much needed water to thrive and grow. Unaware of the music bounding from her tongue, she continued in her task with great alacrity, and as yet unsuspecting of her every motion being carefully watched from afar.

"Rain?"

"Huh?!" the small web-wing tore around, the spatter of escaped water skidding across the Grotto floor in tiny droplets, and found her adoptive mother staring with a raised brow ridge from the couch opposite her in the main hall. "Oh, Aurora. Was...I doing it again?" she asked bashfully.

"Oh yes." the frosted gargess answered back with gleaming black eyes, holding a squirming Crystal, the tiny spurred child held in place in her lap, and thoroughly engaged with her playthings. "For almost twenty minutes now. It seems you have been in high spirits ever since returning from New York over a month ago."

Rain drooped her shoulders, dropped the plastic watering can and quickly traversed the cavern floor to her adoptive mother's side, her membranes listing as if sails without the wind to push them. "I...just can't stop thinking about...him..."

"Ah yes, the young genius of Manhattan." Aurora supposed, and quite correctly so. "It seems you are quite taken with this gargoyle. You spend a lot of time with him on the cellphone given to you by Mr. Xanatos, and always have a smile on your face when finished speaking with Lexington of Wyvern."

Rain blushed, and quickly turned away, cursing her skin, knowing it had betrayed her true feelings when turning a brilliant rose cast upon high-set cheekbones. "I love talking with him." she started, taking her baby sister into her lap, nudging a taloned finger into the side of Crystal's leather tunic dress, and seeing the diminutive gargess squeal and flap her ivory wings against the ticklish caress. "He's smart, kind, gentle, funny. He was in so much pain, and still is, and...I only want to help him get through this...and just be with him...and that kiss...wow..."

"You have strong feelings for him."

Rain peered to her mother with pleading eyes, boundless violet pools barely restrained with a burning devotion, threatening to overwhelm this young woman if she did not let it loose, and free what empathy lay to burden her heart. "Aurora...uhm, when did you know that Ares...was the one?"

The elder gargoyle smiled sweetly, an erudite grin tugging at lips of frosted glacial ice, and a calm demeanor lost in the giddy laughter of a child. "We were rookery siblings, and grew up together as the best of friends. But one evening years ago, when our eyes first met under the light of a full moon, our relationship changed within an instant. The flames of true love were sparked that night, and I knew, in a mere second, that I would spend the rest of my life with this man. It happens without warning, and takes us by surprise..." Aurora placed a hand to Rain's shoulder, a rather brusque contrast of the purest milky hide set against a deep sapphire emerald. "Do you...feel this way for Lexington?" a question asked from mother to daughter, and an answer not easy to come by someone with no experience on this road untraveled.

"I think..." she gasped, her voice betrayed by emotion, and a constricted throat. "I think I may be falling in love with him..."

Aurora merely cocked her head to an odd angle, allowing the long raven tress and tied braid to fall over her shoulder, and forming an even more peculiar expression. "Do tell..."

From an opposing tunnel, the entrance left unbreached by the embracing light of the fixtures above, a form utilized the shadows to conceal his mighty presence. A deep flaxen hide, a coating of the purest gold erupting with sharp bone spurs, poured over this muscular frame as if a bronzed statue. Ares stood firmly, possessed of a mean scowl only comparable to that of his trusted friend, Goliath, in hearing his adopted daughter confess her feelings for the young gargoyle of Wyvern castle.

Yet even in discovering his cherished charge had found someone to love, he felt only anger creep into his stolid form. For this gargoyle, pained enough to attempt to take his own life, was not the first mate he would chose for Rain, for the young child saved from a gruesome nightmare of death and the bloody massacre of his clan, and she whom he had cared for as if his very own. For if he hurt her, he would surely suffer by Ares' own powerful hands.

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

"My daughter is still using HER crib." Elisa seethed, perhaps unintentional in allowing her animosity to speak for her, instead of the calm demeanor always associated with the raven-haired detective, but when speaking of her daughter, she lost herself to the protective animal within.

"Elisa," Diane's tone relented to her daughter's anger once more set off, "we just wanted to give to Derek and Maggie something that has been shared by all of us. You, Derek, Beth, Trinity, and now their grandchild will sleep in this crib."

"And what about Trinity right now?"

"Well, by the time Derek and Maggie's child is born, Trinity will be sleeping in a real bed...won't she?"

"I really don't know. And what if Goliath and I have another child? Where does that leave us when the crib is stolen away?"

"I-I didn't know you and Goliath were even considering having another child. We didn't know if you two could...ever conceive again...or want to..."

"Yeah, heaven forbid I would want another freakbaby." It was irrational anger causing these constant barbs spit out towards her parents, bred from fatiguing shifts patrolling her streets, and full time care of her growing baby girl.

"Elisa..." Diane gasped in hearing such words flow from her daughter's mouth. "I didn't mean..."

"Elisa, it's okay, w-we don't want the crib." Maggie cautiously interjected, hoping to play peacekeeper between this conversation growing rapidly out of control. "If Trinity is still using it, then..."

"Why are you getting so upset about this?!" Peter yelled, furious in his firstborn's incessant stubbornness, yet in the most acrid of ironies, it had been passed down from his own obstinacy. "It's just a goddamned crib!"

"Given to ME for use by MY daughter. But do you want to know why I'm angry, dad? Do you really want to know why?! I'm angry at the fact my beautiful baby girl is being pushed aside in favor of a 'normal' grandchild."

Diane's eyes grew wide, leaving the burnished mahogany of her gaze to scrape against Elisa's angered glare in a shower of sparks. "T-That's not true!"

"Isn't it?" she snapped back to her mother. "You haven't been around the castle lately, you've canceled playdates with her..."

"We were busy..." Diane desperately tried to explain their absence.

"Busy enough to tell a one-year-old child that her grandparents are unable once more to visit with her?" Elisa sighed and shook her head, her lips crafting into an exasperated smile, born of exhaustion and anger. "You know, it's almost funny, for when I was carrying Trinity, you both danced around me, and treated me as if I had a bomb in my stomach, ready to go off at any moment. And now, ever since you two found out Maggie is pregnant...it's almost like you've completely forgotten about my daughter. Your first granddaughter."

"We can't spend every waking moment with her." said Peter, his tone soothed, logical, yet still with traces of underlying hostility. "We have other children, with other responsibilities. We can't ignore them...just for Trinity..."

"Good excuse, dad. I've never asked you for anything, only that you spend at least some time with her, but I suppose even that was too much to ask."

"You're sounding like you think we're avoiding her."

"Am I right? Are you? After everything you two went through in your lives, the fight for equality, for a better life than what you had, I thought you would understand. Thought you would accept this child with open arms, but I find out you're no different than those who would rather see her dead, only because her father is a gargoyle."

"We've never treated her different than any human child." This time, Derek entered into the conversation turned argument, but his unwittingly ill-chosen assertion would be his undoing.

"She is human." A breath of hellfire rolled from Elisa's tongue, in hearing her daughter passed off as some abnormality other than an angel created of her own blood.

"You know what I mean."

"Yeah...unfortunately I do." Elisa stood up and quickly retreated to the door. "I'll send the crib down in a couple weeks, when I get Trinity settled into a real bed. I don't know what to tell her though, when she finds out her grandpa and grandma have stolen a prized possession from her to give to the child they don't think of as a monster." With her last words uttered, she escaped and slammed the door behind her, leaving only silence to fill the void, and a family left with a bitter taste in their mouths.

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

Her path was hurried, intentional, taking her towards the end of the hall where lay the elevators, and her chance to steal away from the pain caused by her own family. As she approached, she slammed fervently upon the lighted buttons, cursing the apathy of the technology inherent in this building, though of the most cutting edge designs.

But as the doors slid open, allowing her reflection to be cast in the mirrored wall of the elevator cab, she found only a deformity of her features, twisted by what she had seen so very frequently in her line of work. Pure, unadulterated anger. That which consumes, and that which destroys. "Oh god," she gasped, realizing the extent of her rage translated into a hurtful utterance towards those who gave her the gift of life, "what the hell did I just do? I'm hogging a family heirloom that rightfully belongs to all of us, and just because I'm a little tired, I'm being a total bitch..."

Elisa turned completely around, and headed back down the hallway. She reached the door quickly and reached a hand to the knob, pulling it back until a chorus of quiet voices rang through, swaying along the drifts of air rushing past her. Elisa stopped, with the door left slightly open, and listened in to a pair of voices belonging to her parents. She could not make out Derek or Maggie, and deduced quickly that they had most likely left the room, perhaps because of her.

"Maybe...maybe she's right, Peter..." It was her mother, speaking softly to her husband on the couch.

"How do you mean?" he responded, as if misunderstanding the despondency in her tone.

"Maybe we are fussing a little too much over the new baby. You know what Elisa goes through with Trinity, she needs...she needs our support."

"And we have given her all that we can, but I won't let her jealousy ruin the happiness Derek and Maggie have found." Peter argued back, defending his children whom sometimes have been ignored for Elisa's great needs.

"I don't think it's jealousy."

"And I think it is. Derek and Maggie deserve this chance to be happy, after finally being given their lives back, and I won't let Elisa's anger ruin it. All I've wanted, all we've wanted, is to be able to share our world with our grandchildren. To take them to the beach where we spent every summer, to take to the park and play until sunset, to show them off to the best of friends. But no," he decried sorrowfully, "we're denied even this simple pleasure, and forced to conceal our family in the darkness."

Diane grasped to his strong arm, placing his hand assuringly to her chest, and stroking along the length of his fingers with her nails. She too wanted so much what he had described in perfect detail and hopeful expectancy. A chance to bring Trinity into the world, and share with her all that she could experience. But this simple wish was cruelly refused by humanity's rampant intolerance, a disease yet to be healed, a cancer yet to be wiped away. A sickness perchance they had caught without knowing.

"I love Elisa, and Trinity, very, very much, but..." he paused, and weathered hands that worked so hard to place food on the table and a roof over his children's heads, caressed against a mahogany complexion of his wife's African ancestry. "We've suffered too, in allowing Elisa to marry Goliath, and lived every night in fear that our daughter would be hurt, or even killed because she married a gargoyle. But we accepted it, because it made her happy, and he treated her so well...and it almost seemed that they belonged together. But Trinity...changed everything." His own voice grew fearful when speaking of his granddaughter. "I love her...and dammit, find myself...scared of her. Scared to Hell that she's growing up so fast, scared that she'll soon want to explore outside of those castle walls, and maybe expose her mother, and this family, to dangers beyond our comprehension. Elisa has almost died on several occasions. She's almost been raped by Thailog, only because he wanted a child like Trinity. She was almost killed by Sobek, because she chose to have a half-gargoyle child. Will the next time bring destruction down on us, and Derek, and Beth?"

She forced down the sobs coming in an anguished cry, holding them within her chest, lips trembling, and tasting the salty fluid liberated from her almond eyes. "It's so hard." Diane sobbed. "She's so innocent, so beautiful...and the fact she could cause her mother's own death at the hands of bigots and racists...and psychotics...but are we becoming exactly who we have fought against all our lives?"

This comparison surged an animosity within the elder man as if a fire burning brightly, but he waved it off, intent on protecting his family until the bitter end, if only from a choice made without his sanction. "I-I really don't know...we accepted Derek and Maggie as mutates, because they were made so against their wishes. But we can't let our family be destroyed by a choice Elisa made long ago. Even if it brought her so much happiness..."

"And what will Elisa say when her own parents...her own parents slowly drift away from her, and her daughter?"

"We're not drifting away," he tried to convince himself, "we have two other children to care for, and another grandchild on the way. We have to be there for them. Elisa has an entire clan to rely on, Derek and Beth do not."

"Oh, Peter, what if Elisa knew the truth, that we...never truly accepted the fact she had a child with Goliath."

"She'll never know the real truth." he whispered, holding tightly to his crying wife, as she collapsed into his arms and clenched wildly at his clothes, her body wracking with powerful spasms. She filled the room with a mournful lament, and Peter nestled his lips to her cheeks, inflamed with her tears. "Never."

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

It was only when she brought up a hand, shivering and as cold as ice, to her face, when she felt the moisture upon her skin, the heated fluid almost evaporating when in contact with her clammy skin. Her own tears frightened her, so much as to shock her back into seeming cognizance. "I can't believe," a breathless, husky plea, "I can't believe...you would give up the fight...give up on me...on my daughter..."

Elisa quietly closed the door, and staggered back down the hall, using the walls to steady her weary legs, perhaps only moments away from giving out on her. The elevator doors slid open when having pressed the button to summon the cab, and she tripped while entering inside, and fell to the floor. As the heavy steel barriers closed with a silent hush, she erupted into sobs, turning this proud, confident, and powerful policewoman into a lost, wailing child.

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

The distinguishing clatter of talons, and the rush of the cool, evening wind about her, came Angela's graceful repose onto the terrace of Destine Manor's highest floor. She straightened out, settling wild mahogany strands and wings from a weary flight, and approached the doors ever slowly, seeing barely through the tinted panes, her mother just inside the darkened room, where lay no light, except that of the glistening stars beyond her shoulders. She entered, allowing the currents to spill inwards with a labored thrust, and gently touch upon Demona's steady membranes across from her. "Mother?" she asked, seeing her matriarch seated at a usual place, a massive antique desk, intricately carved and crafted with the most skilled of hands, with the gargess nearly confined to the hollow beneath the varnished writing surface. "Mother?" Yet another call when ultimately ignored, and this time, she received a response.

"Daughter." Demona slowly turned, the aging bearings of the wooden office chair releasing a mournful creak into the air, denotative of their true age and fashion. Her skin a shimmer of dark sapphire pearl inflamed by the starlight, and her talons firmly clenched upon a small shot glass, brimming with a dark cinnamon liquid, Demona passed what almost could be foreseen as a smile, yet branded with an incisive malice, and then finished off the liquor with a swift pass to her lips.

Angela found an emptied bottle behind her, left abandoned when served it's purpose upon the desk's littered surface, and then freed a sorrowful sigh through trembling, dark lavender lips. "You are drinking...again." she whispered, a rich charcoal gaze smeared, pools of hazy raven chalk being swept from the concrete canvas by a cruel rain. "Are you...drunk?"

"Not yet, but I hope to be soon." her fertive tone seemed without emotion, and as she stood tall from her seat, she threw away the near empty glass, leaving a trailing bead of the pungent elixir to form a perfect circle when spilling from the tumbler, and the gargess seemingly unconcerned of the important documents being stained and even damaged. "What brings you to my home?"

"I thought...I would come to visit you. Help you..."

"Hmmm, yes. As has Andrea. On more than several occasions." Demona slowly sauntered closer to her daughter, hips cocked, and a vindictive sneer turning her graceful features cold, fierce even. "Have you come to take away the pain as well, daughter? Make it all magically disappear with a wave of your hand?"

Angela edged back, and though her mother was barely taller than she, the taciturn amazon still placed forth a menacing stance, steady breaths forced through taught lips colored of a deep blood rouge, eyes alit with steeping flame. "I...I, no, b-but...I only wanted to aid you in...after what happened with Todd, and Annika and your sister...and what they said...what they did..." Her words faltered, an intelligent and courtly dialect learned from a princess born, and lost to a swelling anxiousness within her breast.

"They had every right to say those things." she answered apathetically.

"No!" Angela cut back, detecting the sweet aroma of spiced rum whisking upon her mother's fiery breath. "They had no right to treat you as if some animal!"

"Such is life, dear child." she coddled her daughter as if a newborn babe, misunderstanding of this world she had become a part of. "My love was turned away, and thus my penance for trying to destroy a relationship, and hurt the man I love, has sentenced me to this life of solitude. I am to be alone for the rest of my existence, to wither and die and crumble to dust. Such is my life..."

"No!" she cried, pleading desperately against her mother's nihilistic thoughts. "Not anymore...you have come so far, achieved so much..."

"And only to destroy it all with an ill-chosen action, and giving in to my anger. I am exactly what they say, daughter, a monster, a killer, devoid of any feeling and beyond all redemption. You should not be here, you should not attempt this futile struggle for my soul, for it has been already lost."

Angela grew increasingly despondent with her mother's constant and despairing colloquy. "Your fight for a decent life isn't futile..."

"I believe you should leave now, child," she had grown weary of this encounter, and her daughter's exasperating attempts to sway her, "go back to your castle above the clouds. This conversation is over."

"But mother..."

"I said LEAVE!!!" she howled, her talons seizing on frail lavender flesh, a grasp steeled enough to bruise the skin and almost draw blood, as Demona grabbed her progeny upon the arm and violently threw her towards the balcony doors. The young female impacted into the solid wooden barriers, and slumped to the floor, with Demona leaning over her fallen form, eyes aglow, smoldering flames devouring what gentle caretaker ever lay beneath, and leaving only the unholy seraph of death in it's wake. "And never come back..."

Angela looked up to see her mother leaning over her, chin tipped up, lips contorted into a animalistic grimace. A fear raced through her, as what was left of the woman who comforted her when sad, had been consumed wholly by fearsome madness and utter rage. She staggered to her feet, clutching a hand to soothe the pain flowing from her wound, and silently pushed through the balcony doors, never tearing her tear-filled eyes from Demona.

The azure-skinned gargess watched intently the retreating form of her only offspring through the crystal glass partitions of her French-styled balcony doors, and though she loved her with all her heart, Angela was forever destined to be hurt by an ancient curse Demona herself created. A woman so innocent and trusting, an angel in all figurative premises, was better off without the demon in her life. As was anyone else unfortunate enough to cross her deadly path.

As Angela finally disappeared beyond the drifting constellations, Demona slipped back to the bar within the farthest recesses of the room, and ripped away the clutter of emptied bottles left from days before. She discovered a decanter yet untouched, and smiled vindictively when breathing in the delicious scent of distilled grain and powerfully potent spirits. She almost inhaled the virulent beverage, leaving a thin trail to spill and trickle down her chin and neck. She wiped it quickly away from her skin, dark-hued spherules of seasoned whiskey being cast into the open air and left to plunge to the floor, much like her former life and the fight for her very soul, now abandoned, and where she may end up, left only to a force of nature always wanting to sabotage what she had so battled for with every shred of an indomitable will, the hands of fate.

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

"What do you mean you won't be coming?!" Todd snapped, his frayed tone bordering on a rampant scream, in hearing Rose turn down his expected invitation to his wedding.

Rose forcefully tore her eyes away from the young man hovering over her, and attempted to form words through faltering lips, and a guilt-ridden tongue. "I'm sorry, my child, but...I cannot. It's too...difficult for me to be surrounded by those would who stare...and perhaps be upset by my..." a delicate hand swathed over the gnarled flesh of the scar having torn it's way down the left side of her face, "...appearance."

"That's not true!" he yelled out, jumping to the defense of a caretaker so highly regarded and cherished, though forced to contend against her deepest fears given terrifying substance before his very eyes, for perhaps the first time. "No one, especially the clan, would look down on you just because of your scars. These people are my closest friends, my family...as are you."

Rose lifted gently from the bench, and drifted past him, careful not to touch her eyes to his own glistening mist, and approached languidly a bastion of candles erected in perfect rows, a sheer burning wall of prancing flame casting a thousand of a thousand shadows across the walls. "Everytime I leave this church, I am subject to hushed whispers and clandestine stares," she whispered, seeing a single flicker before her frolic and gambol promptly with but a wave of her hand, "and I don't wish to bring you or your wedding guests any discomfort in a time of such happiness."

"I don't give a damn about anyone who would be callous or so unfeeling enough to look down on you! I only care about having the woman who took care of me since I was seven years old join me in one of the most important nights of my life!"

"Look at me." she implored to him, almost angrily, for she held to his gaze her damaged hands, with the scarred tissue wrapping itself around her dawn-swirled skin as if a ravenous snake. "Everytime I look in the mirror, I see this burned flesh, and a decrepit crone staring back."

"I always thought..." he said, eyes turned down, almost embarrassed, "you were beautiful."

"Through a child's eyes perhaps, but not that of the world." She replaced her weary emerald gleam to the delicately featured carving of a crucified Jesus erected behind the podium, defiant even when facing his own demise, and seeing his ancient pain of a kindred's treachery mirror her own. "A cruel world sometimes...especially to those who may not fit the expected vision of human perfection."

Todd stepped closer, noticing the elder nun edging back into the hushed shadows from his approach, the candles unpossessed of the necessary power to alight her retreating path, as if to conceal a pained countenance from his familiar haunting eyes. "Rose, you have to come..." he still begged with her and held out his hand, to guide her back into the light, "you're the closest thing I have...to a mother..."

She refused his offer, and instead, incredibly and unexpectedly, shied away from his touch. "I'm...sorry, my child, but I...can't. I can't face them, I can't reveal myself to them without...the fear of the stares, and the comments, the fear of my appearance driving them away..."

"You said you would never give up on me..."

"Not on you, but perhaps...on myself. I am sorry...but I cannot come. I love you, but...I cannot come..." She steadied her nerves, and found his hand drifting back, falling limply to his side. "Send Annika...my greatest wishes."

Todd scowled, and snapped away his searing glare, visibly clenching empty fists in response to his guardian effectively turning his invitation away. "Fine," he huffed, afflicting upon his voice a deep guttural growl, based within his throat and empowered by what seemed to him a betrayal of his heart, "I'll send you a postcard from our honeymoon." Todd then escaped in a heavy, deliberate tread, quickly moving down the center isle between the pews, and blowing through the wooden doors near the end, leaving only the far reaching stars to mourn the shattering of a family, perchance the end of a lasting relationship between child and caretaker.

Rose was now left alone, abandoned in an empty church, with the quiet drone of the city beyond the only sounds, a desolate resonance cast over her labored breathing. "Forgive me, lord...for my greatest sin," she whispered to her savior, one who saved her so long ago, and grasped upon the cross around her neck molded from sterling chrome, "but he must learn to travel on his path separate from mine, and far from the lie I told him when but a child, to give him the life he deserved...and ultimately protect...his heart..."

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

"Aurora? Can I ask you something?" Rain peered up from her slumbering sister, having exhausted herself from playing so readily with her older sibling, and now curling up into the bright orange bodysuit covering the web-winged female's slender form. "Did you...know my real parents?"

Aurora looked back at her with gleaming cinder, an astonishment of the question brought forth, a gaze into a painful past so arduously suppressed, and a time of bloodshed buried. "You've...never asked about them. Even when very young."

"I never wanted you or Ares to think...that I didn't appreciate everything you did for me."

Aurora simply nodded, a motherly smile formed on pouting lips. "I know."

"So...did you?" she again reminded her mother of the topic, approaching this subject with extreme caution. "Know them, I mean."

"Quite well. They were perhaps Ares' and I closest friends." She reached out to caress a hand to Rain's unique wing structure, and taking pleasure in seeing it shiver and weave with the tender massage. "Your wings are inherited from your father. He was tall, handsome, rebellious, possessed of glistening skin the color of the ocean, and long chestnut hair. Your mother was possibly the most desired of our entire rookery kin, with her long blond hair, emerald hide, curvy figure and large violet eyes. She had many suitors, those who would try to win her favor. But in the end, it was your father, who swept in and effectively stole her heart."

Rain smiled at a story from a time when she could not see, and would not know, even if it may be only a mere description of lifetimes stolen away from her, destined now to never share her existence with her own natural parents.

"It was your mother who finally settled that boy down, web-wing." A burly brogue erupted forth, and both women turned to see Magellan emerging from a far tunnel, a visible limp afflicting on an aged gait, though he stood strong, the warrior without a weakness, except perhaps that of his heart. "He was a brat," he joked, holding out his hands to relieve the young gargess of the burden of a sleeping child, and throwing a teasing wink towards Rain with a cocked ridge, "just like you." He moved back, seeing the web-wing berate him with her jutting tongue in a playful rebuttal, and settled into a chair opposite the couch, feeling a small ivory lump of wing and tail turn her tiny form to reposition herself in the elder warrior's lap.

Rain then turned back to her mother, and resumed the conversation, wanting to consume rabidly all information regarding her former clan, secrets abound of those who came before trapped within her adoptive mother's lips. "Aurora, did you ever know your parents?"

What seemed to be a smile swiftly crossed a stout facial cast, as with every recollection of a family murdered by bigotry and morbid injustice brought to Aurora a searing pain in her chest. And across from her, Magellan perked up and discreetly eyed the frosted gargess when asked of her true lineage. Yet knowing Rain deserved to know all that was her family, she would gladly answer in truth, for to understand where she had been born, would perhaps aid her in her brightest future. "I...had an idea." she began, refreshing memories of when a hatchling in Canadian hills of summery brush and stolid bedrock, where she had dwelled all her childhood before the massacre. "There was one woman, who was of the same skin color as I, whom I guessed to be my mother. But I never knew my father. I suppose they both were of the old clan tradition, those who never took parentage of a single child, but of the entire clutch."

Rain bowed her head, hiding away eyes of despairing wound and mournful emotion, thinking she may have delved too far, forced too much from her mother's still grieving heart. "Oh..." she whispered. "I'm sorry..."

"Don't be, Rain. I knew they loved me."

"...and still do..." Magellan whispered, careful to keep his gruff tone quiet, and thus unheard by Aurora.

"What prompted this sudden interest in your parents?" Aurora tipped a talon under Rain's chin, forcing rich lavender eyes to her own.

"Just...when Lex told me, that I was lucky to have parents to look after me."

"He seems like a very smart young man."

"To attempt to take one's own life doesn't seem so very intelligent to me." came a growl that seemed to crawl it's way among each carved rock face, then as if to follow the trail forged by his voice, a winged shadow cast over the entire couch, forcing two pairs of eyes up to a very massive, and very angry looking Ares.

"He was in pain, Ares," Rain defended Lexington's choice at last made and thankfully interrupted a few months ago, "and had no way to deal with it."

"I was in pain as well," he snarled, bearing down on his adopted charge with eyes of a bitter glow, "and I didn't feel as if my only option was to throw myself from a rooftop, and leave my clan without a leader."

"You had a mate, someone who was there in your greatest times of need. He didn't. He felt it was the only way to end what he had been forced to go through."

"That still doesn't make it right. He could be dangerous. If he's suicidal, then you shouldn't be involved with him..."

Rain could not help but to break out into a smile, even with her imposing matriarch possessed of a scowl for her desire to be with Lexington. An attempt to muffle her chortle went unsuccessfully, and instead she ultimately chose to free the breath trapped within her lungs and laugh out loud. She launched a lithe form from the couch, and hopped up to plant a kiss on Ares' cheek, completely stunning the golden gargoyle. "Thanks, Ares." she purred, grasping onto a two-fingered hand.

He shook his head, and blinked the charcoal dust of his eyes. "For...what?"

"For being my dad, and always looking out for me. But you're wrong about Lex. He's getting better," Rain promptly snatched the watering can and continued in her original task of watering the Grotto flowers, "and I'm going to be there to help him."

Ares helplessly watched as she walked away, effectively ending the conversation, and creating a useless argument birthed from his lips. "That stubborn girl..." he hissed, his entire powerful body tensed, muscles bulging ever larger, and seeming to strain at invisible seams of his golden-tinged hide. "How could she not see just how dangerous that boy could be?"

"Because she loves him." Aurora echoed her daughter's very thoughts from the couch, grasping on Ares' attention.

"And what if he hurts her?!"

"He won't. Ares, you know Rain is very intelligent for her age. She's extremely perceptive beyond her years, and she understands both humans and gargoyles so very well. I believe she knows just what she is getting into."

"And what if this relationship is permanent? What will we do...if she decides to leave?"

Aurora relaxed into the couch, a perception of her mate's greatest fears at last realized. "This is what it's all about isn't it?" she sighed triumphantly. "Your little girl growing up, and leaving us to live her own life."

Ares' mighty form impacted in on itself, wings falling from a heightened stance high above his shoulders. "I love her as if my own flesh and blood, and I am...scared to see her leave us."

"And because we love her so much, we must let her go...if she so chooses."

"It isn't that easy."

"It never is, Ares, but such is parenthood." She beckoned to him with but an outstretched arm, and he followed her unearthly gaze as if a lost child, slumping down onto the worn seat by his lover of many years, and carefully arranging his posture to allow for the twin rows of bony spurs trailing down between his wings and along the length of his tail. "If she wishes to be with Lexington, then we will allow her to follow her heart, and trust in her judgment, and hope we have completed the task of preparing her for whatever she finds."

"I don't want to lose her." he breathed wistfully. "I love her..."

Aurora curled onto his chest, sensing even the slightest striation of muscle though the thick leather material of his vest, and taking the utmost pleasure in delving into his attracting scent and each powerful beat of his heart. "As do I."

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

Large eyes of chocolate grace opened wide to the colorful forms on the television screen, an innocence and wonder for the images displayed. Trinity watched her program with a fascination to rival that of any explorer or scientist unearthing their latest discovery, even though her adolescent mind could sometimes not discern exactly just what she was witness to. Held in the warm arms of her baby-sitter Delilah, the young hybrid remained glued to the screen, unaware of the world around her, and unsuspecting of another form entering on a path traveled many times.

Elisa entered silently into the media room, encroaching on Delilah's backside, her adopted daughter lost as well in the television program cherished by her firstborn. An innocence that still dwelled within her, and she hoped this young woman would never lose her purity of heart. "Delilah."

"What?!" the clone was torn from her show with Elisa's call of her name, a tone so detached as to cause speculation on the actual owner. "Oh, Elisa. I didn't hear you."

"Mind if I borrow Trinity for a while?"

"Okay...sure..." she answered, watching her mother snatch away the child from her lap in an almost brutal fashion.

"Come on, angel," Elisa whispered softly into Trinity's ear, "let's go to mommy and daddy's room for a while."

"But, mommy," she protested, in a budding voice and dialect growing stronger with each passing day, clear enough to be cast over the dubbed language of her program, "Sail'r Moon..."

"We can watch it in my room, okay?"

"Kay." Trinity replied, waving over her mother's shoulder to the slowly fading view of her older sister. A silent journey though the labyrinth of corridors took them both to Elisa's grand chambers, and she placed herself on the edge of the mattress, allowing her daughter to once again enjoy her television show when powering on the large screen across from the canopied bed.

"Mommy?" Trinity squeaked, turning her head slightly to address her mother, yet not enough to take her eyes from the screen.

"Yes?"

"Gamma a' Gampa come?"

"No, baby...not tonight..."

"Oh..."

Elisa wrapped her arms securely around Trinity's waist, almost possessed of enough force to injure her, yet only to ensure she would never be ripped from her hands. Elisa pressed her face into Trinity's lush ebon mane, relishing in the wafting scent of fresh strawberry shampoo within each plumed strand, and feeling her delicate wings flitter gently against her chest, and her tiny taloned hands pressed firmly onto her own. Released were a few tears from tired eyes, dropping into her daughter's hair. A sign of pain, at what she had just been through, and heard coming from her parents' very own mouths. She was angry, enraged at the false fronts, and a deceitful predilection towards both her and her baby daughter.

"Elisa?"

She lifted her head on purest instinct to the low voice which rumbled throughout the room. Her eyes beheld her massive husband appearing through the doors, and she then quickly wiped the dampened warmth having spilled upon her cheeks with reckless abandon. "Goliath."

"Elisa," he called to her once again upon seeing the tears, and quickly crossed to her side, while rubbing a taloned hand through Trinity's locks, "what is wrong, my love?"

"It's...nothing..."

"You were crying. I would not think that as nothing."

"It's nothing, Goliath." an ardent censure was unleashed from her tongue, and the gargoyle edged back in a growl to match that of his own.

"If there is anything you wish to talk to me about..."

"I'm fine, Goliath, just let me...spend some time with our daughter."

"As you wish, my Elisa." Goliath lay a kiss to her lips, and she promptly returned his embrace, if only to have him leave her alone with Trinity. He moved away with the swiftness of the wind, his mighty form removed from the room within mere seconds, allowing Elisa the privacy she so wanted at this time. She pulled Trinity closer, and settled into her daughter's blushing hide. "If they want their perfect grandchild, they can have it." she hissed quietly, rubbing a cheek to her daughter's hair. "And stay the hell out of my life..."

"Whassay, mommy?" Trinity inquired, having picked up on her mother's spiteful comments with her great hearing.

"Nothing, angel. Absolutely nothing."

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

A veritable maze created by the endless rows of bookshelves made her search ever harder, and as she slowly crept her way through the castle's swallowing library, her eyes bore through the darkness with perfect clarity. Angela slowly traveled the library carpeting, barely a sound to announce her presence, and a restrained breath suckled through parted crimson lips. "Desdemona?" she called out softly, hoping her clanmate would heed her calls. "Are...you here?"

"Yes." An abrupt answer to her worried inquiries threw Angela off-guard, and she whirled around to see a sweeping motion of flawless, glowing caramel move into her sight. "Hello, Angela." Desdemona greeted her while closing her chosen volume, and meeting sadly her eyes, yet seeing not the anger, but only a repentance in having the rift between them grow to such a frightening degree, perhaps only because of her own stubbornness. "I did not think you wished to speak with me..."

"Desdemona..." Lost in her throat, were the words she so longed to say. "I...Desdemona, I am sorry...for the way I have been acting lately..."

"It's quite all right, Angela. I too regret what I said that night to my sister. I did not mean those things..."

"Nor did I. I...was just...protecting her. She is so alone, more than anyone could ever know or imagine, and when I saw Annika attacking her...I grew mad with rage. I was angry at having my mother constantly dumped on by fate and a lifetime of pain...so angry..."

"Angry enough to sacrifice Annika's friendship for your mother's welfare?"

"I...I don't know." she wheezed, confused by her feelings of loyalty and friendship, a confliction of emotion screaming for release inside of her. "But right now, I...need your help..." A difficult task, more than she would ever have thought, yet to aid her mother in her grief, she would swallow even her Goliath-sized pride. "...it's mother...she's getting worse..."

"What has happened, Angela?" Desdemona asked, coming closer, and seeing the younger gargess absentmindedly stroke the wound on her arm, her lavender skin marred with a deep bruise forming almost a deformed hand. "What has she done to you?"

Angela winced when a hand caressed against the inflamed abrasion. "She's...been drinking again...and almost attacked me to get me to leave. She's scaring me...and I-I don't know what to do anymore..."

"It's all right, rookery daughter," Desdemona calmed her, a soothing voice much like that of her own mother, "perhaps it is time I apologized as well, and end this pointless feud. Come, let us go to Destine Manor, and help your mother before she does something she may truly regret."

Angela followed the elder gargoyle from the library, breathing a welcome sigh of relief, and onto the cornices just outside. "Thank you..." she whispered, as they prepared for their flight. "Thank you for...being her friend. And mine."

"Always, Angela. Always."

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

The two females touched down with wild haste in their step, and fixed their wings about their shoulders, rushing to the windows of the top floor of Destine Manor. Angela peered into the darkened room, and what she looked upon struck fear into her heart. The chamber before her was left in complete devastation, and she instantly wrenched open the balcony doors and entered into the chaos rendered by an unseen foe, stepping on broken fragments of furniture and jagged shards of glass. "Mother?" she cried breathlessly, casting inky-black eyes to clawmarks left haphazardly on every surface, as if a wild animal had torn it's way through the room in an attempt to escape it's hunters. "Mother?!!"

"Did she do this?" Desdemona asked, inspecting the ruins of the new coffee table having been replaced only two weeks ago.

"No," she answered, seeing the utter destruction of Demona's favored writing desk, now fit only for kindling to feed a small fire, "this wasn't her. Mother?! Where are you?!!"

"Then...who would do this?" she asked of herself, inspecting the splintered wood.

Angela placed dreading eyes to every corner of the room, until a peculiar, and hauntingly familiar aroma crossed her strong sense of smell, and she slowly threw her gaze over her shoulder, to the wall above the loveseat, and gasped, nearly swallowing her tongue at the sight.

Desdemona, hearing the sharp breath, followed Angela's gaze, she as well detecting the scent of death left to linger in this room. She opened her eyes wide to a cryptic symbol scrawled mercilessly across the stark ivory white, though deliberate in it's simplicity. A crimson splash of blood. Gargoyle blood.

"It can't be him..." Angela gasped, leaving tears to pool upon her skin, and drop onto the carpeting. "It can't be..."

"By the dragon," Desdemona whispered, seeing the massive Egyptian ankh coating the painted surface in fluid spilled from the arteries of a madman, "...Sobek..."