62 - "Temptation"

January 4th, 2002
"How long are you gonna be gone, uncle Lex?"

"Barely two weeks, Alex."

The youngster frowned, large, emotive eyes of stunning emerald green appearing to tarnish, the brilliance inherited from faeries slightly fading in seeing his favored baby-sitter leave him and his home. He trailed behind, his long red hair swaying in what wind existed at the top of the world, following the web-winged cyborg as he loaded a few more supplies into the Xanatos cargo helicopter. "Do you have to?"

"Yeah," Lexington answered, as Thrash grabbed the containers from him from within the cargo area, "I'm going to set up the new communications link and help upgrade the power generators in the Grotto. Besides, I'm going to take some time and have a vacation with Rain."

Alex turned away abruptly, his anger displayed quite candidly as a pout of sheer defiance. He had become to hate that word, that of Rain, spoken too often for his tastes. The woman who had effectively stolen away one of his best friends. "Girls..." he barked silently, a spit of acid being launched from his tongue.

Lexington noticed quite remarkably his young friend's animosity, though immature and perhaps misunderstanding, but he felt for him. What particularly interested him, was the fact the tiny remnants of dust and debris that were plucked from the courtyard surface, thrown up in the ever growing eddy caused by the powering rotors of the sleek craft resting beside them, were being pushed away from his body. They were unable to touch, as if a force had surrounded him, perfectly spherical, the youngster with blood of pure magic and ancient enchantment unconsciously tapping into what hidden powers lay within him. "I'll be home in two weeks," he said firm, with Alex peering up to him, "all right?"

"Okay." he relented, saddened in losing his friend for a time too long to a young boy, though slightly sympathetic to what had plagued him, his senses perceiving a radical change in aura when ever Lexington was in contact with Rain. "Bring me somethin'?"

"You got it."

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

January 11th
"Alex? Alex?"

Lost in a world of his own making, memories and an imagination too powerful for such a small form, the solitary heir to the Xanatos billions and the most powerful company on the entire planet unintentionally ignored his mother's gentle summons.

"Alex!" Fox raised her voice, effectively snapping her son from his trance.

"Huh?"

"Concentrate, Alexander." came the monotone of Owen Burnett, standing over the young boy, seeing his interest in his weekly magic lesson waning. "We are not finished yet."

"Kay..." he chuffed, holding out an open palm, and allowing his mother to place a crystal vase squarely on fair skin tinged with an almond complexion so like his father.

"Now, concentrate. Lift the vase, and turn it in a perfect three hundred sixty degree circle, in both directions."

Alexander did what he was told, and the vase levitated with his magic, flipped over and landed back on his hand, a sheen in transparent crystal running down the length of the shaped chalice when catching just the precise angle of light. A perfect test, executed flawlessly. "Finished." he said, unimpressed of what he was constantly made to do, a trained pet doing parlor tricks.

"Again."

Alexander suppressed a scowl, and complied, though with great derision.

"Good. Your control is becoming more refined."

"When can I do cool stuff, and stop floating stupid things around?" he whined, moving the vase back to the oak drawing desk in the library, settling it on a reflective wooden surface with a precise balance and a surrounding aura of emerald green. "When can I fly farther than the castle, or turn stuff into other stuff?"

"Not until you have gained the proper expertise with the skills you currently possess." Owen explained coolly, knowing with his own powerful talents, this boy sitting in front of him was growing in strength with each and every passing day. A facade of mediocrity and commonplace adolescence, concealing the powers of a race born thousands of years ago, and bred with sorcery as their lifeblood. "Only then, will we advance our lesson plan. We are finished here, Alexander. You are free from my 'clutches', as it were."

Alexander happily complied, jumping from the couch and watching as Owen simply straightened his tie, and left the room. He then turned to Fox, tossing her long fiery locks over her shoulder. "Mom, when's uncle Lex coming home?"

"Another week, honey. He wants to spend some time with Rain." Fox answered back, unable to notice Alexander's twist in features when veering her gaze to the clock.

Again came the growl, with the mere mention of the gargess' name. Alexander crossed his arms, and glowered. "Dumb girl."

"What was that, Alex?"

"Nothing..."

"All right," she replied, knowing he had muttered something, but was lost to her ears, "you can go cause some mischief now, I have some work to do in daddy's office." She flicked away his unruly hair, and kissed him on the forehead.

Alexander watched her leave, then, as she disappeared through the doors of the massive library, he formed a malicious grin, contorting his innocent features into a creature of pure malevolence, an imp left alone in the corner of Wyvern to wreak what havoc only he could dream. "Dumb girl taking uncle Lex away..." he muttered, twitching his fingers and sensing a sudden increase in the flow of blood to his extremities. "I don't think so." And in his naiveté, did the ultimate weakness take hold, his inexperience. What first idea had formed, would never have been prepared for what was to come.

An eerie glow erupted from his fingertips, and surged forth, his eyes completely obscured by a dominion of emerald green, erasing his humanity and isolating him with the strange and supernatural. The magic he commanded was too powerful, empowered by pure emotion and fueled by innocence and rare genes, and he lost his control over an animal unleashed. It crept along the walls, claws of a crafted beast escaping from it's leash. The waves of the spell's energy wafted along the walls, searching relentlessly for fresh prey, feeling their way as if alive. It surrounded the library, and then flooded through the door, soon spreading through the corridors and winding halls and on into the deepest interiors of castle Wyvern.

Alexander fell from his stupor quite abruptly when the initial rush died off, and looked at his hands, now discharged of the energy. "Oops."

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

"Are you sure we've done the right thing?" From painted crimson lips, came an uneasy inquiry.

"You allowed her. Do not look to me with doubt or apprehension with your decision."

Elisa whirled around, seeing her husband facing her with eyes of granite charcoal. "I guess it's just another step in building her trust. But leaving Trinity with Demona for the entire night, at her house?"

"Our daughter will be fine."

"Yeah, right." Elisa replied, getting up and wrapping herself into the comforting embrace of worn, scarlet leather. She slipped on her jacket, repositioned her holster, and found Goliath still staring, her mate crossing to her a hardened gaze of clear emotion. "She's probably brainwashing her or something...and I hope Demona's hidden all those weapons..."

Goliath casually brought a few talons to scrape along broken lips of a smile, and a laughter being brought up from his throat. "Actually, it is my guess that Trinity has forced Demona to watch more children's programming on the television."

Elisa then swelled into a smile, the fear of being separated from her first and only born washing away in the mental portrait of Demona being subjected to possibly hours of mindless entertainment for children, and even more conceivable, was the fact she would not be enjoying it. "Well, that almost makes it worth while..." she jested, as Goliath stood up and moved towards her. An embrace to wish her well on her night, Goliath traversed the swollen skin of her lips with his mouth, and devoured her flavor, ravenous for her sweet taste.

Then suddenly, came a surge racing through them. Blind were they to a crest of energy, passing through them as if electricity, and crossing the length of their grand quarters in the blink of an eye. It passed, and they both parted, instantly pulling back from each other with wide eyes, a confusion of charcoal and chocolate blended into one.

"What...was that?" Elisa breathed, her lips aflame.

"I have no idea..." Goliath whispered, wiping his brow, his lavender hide flushed, a rare sight of deep crimson creeping into the violet skin tone.

"Well...I better get to work..." Elisa leaned up and kissed him again, but this time did it linger, long and sensual, a passionate embrace passed from wife to husband left to scar in their deepest memories. They could not part, joined in lust, fused at the pelvic region. Goliath pulled her close, his hands roaming down her back, and clenching into her firm buttocks, nearly lifting her off her feet. She ground herself against his jutted thigh, the denim material of her jeans rubbing against the thick, ropy muscle. Minutes passed, and only after the Mazas had practically groped and caressed every part of the other's body, did they reluctantly release. Elisa stumbled away, wiping the formed sweat from her forehead, as Goliath nearly toppled. "Wow...I, uh...I had b-better go..." she stuttered, her mind fogged with erotic thoughts and impulses, and knowing she would have to place as much distance as possible between her and her husband if she was to make it to the precinct on time. "S-See you...later, Big Guy..."

"Yes...yes, goodbye..." Goliath responded, the giant fallen, his wings trembling and twitching with such passion and the intoxicating scent of Elisa's own musk, so much stronger when aroused. "My beautiful Elisa..."

As Elisa stumbled through the doors, she tugged at her clothing, now seeming as if too restrictive upon lithe curves and toned structure. "Did it suddenly get hot in here?"

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

"You're leaving again?" she asked incredulously, giving him only a hardened gaze, eyes of steel reflecting the departing dark warrior.

"Yes..." he answered cautiously, seemingly unknowing of why her voice had been raised, scraping along her tongue in hostility and loathing. "Is there a problem, my blossom?"

Delilah peered to him, a lowered brow effectively displaying her true feelings. "You seem to be going to her place a lot in the last month."

"Yes, like I once said, she has an incredible library of Japanese films, those which you do not like. And she is a friend, a rare thing for our species to find in humanity." Shadow replied, standing firm, arms crossed over a massive, tattooed chest. "You speak with anger, Delilah."

"Well, between your constant training, patrols, meditating, your flute practice, and of course, your endless trips to...'miss detective Starr's'," she pronounced the name with a glimmer of hatred, placing an odd, sardonic spin on the title and moniker, "it's like we barely see each other anymore."

Shadow frowned, what little smile had possessed him being ripped away from thin lips by the entire mood of this conversation. "We both have very full lives, and I have never complained when you spent your time in the Labyrinth, or reading in the library, or your constant baby-sitting chores. In fact, you have canceled a few dates with me in the past."

"Because I had to."

"Or because you chose to." he countered. "I have placed this relationship as one of my greatest priorities, and your happiness, and your well-being has always been foremost on my mind."

"It doesn't seem like it lately..." she hissed. "Ever since Egypt, you've barely spoken a word about what happened, have been withdrawn, and you often disappear into the dojo for hours..."

"To hone my skills." he argued back, defending his want, his need for ultimate discipline. "It's the same as your wanting to read as well as the others. To enjoy what you've worked so hard for. To take pleasure in achieving a higher level is..."

"Damn your skills!" she growled, interrupting his defense, the true daughter of Demona appearing before the dark warrior, though encased in yielded cinnamon skin and trailing ivory locks. "I thought I would rate at least somewhere above only learning how to kill more efficiently."

"You do..." he softened his voice, the low rasp melting in intensity to a whisper.

"Then stay with me tonight."

"I made a promise, my blossom. To dishonor a friend for no reason but your own...mistrust," the mere mention of the word heaved her brow, "would only shame us both. And as always, I will be back soon."

Delilah huffed, her forced breath pushing away the suspended tress. "Well, I guess I know where I truly rate now..."

"You are being childish!" he shouted, bearing down on her.

"And you're being a total jerk!" she screamed back.

They stared each other down, a foolish anger dominating their emotions, until, without realizing what was to come, they were swept over by a field of energy, too swift to barely notice it's effects and the sudden withdrawal into the rest of the castle and even some of the Eyrie building.

Delilah shook her head, and re-focused herself. "Fine! Go to your precious little friend's house, go ahead and watch your stupid movie...see if I care..." She then whirled around and walked away, her tread soon turning into a brisk sprint, leaving Shadow to wallow in the aftermath of a heated dispute, and drive a clenched fist against the stones in sheer rage, the granite blocks cracking and splitting in the power released from his hand.

"Child..." he muttered, flaring his dark, spurred sails and pushing through the balcony doors, slipping into the night.

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

In the Winter winds, did her hair take on a life of it's own, the shoulder-length locks twisting around her face and neck, and obscuring her view of the snow-covered, concrete steps of the twenty-third precinct. Detective Iliana Starr had escaped from the toil of her chosen task, at last free to relish in the nigh-clear night. Wrapping a thick scarf around her neck, she hopped down the steps, and prepared for the walk to the closest subway transfer station, the roads too treacherous for her motorscooter.

But unknown to her, someone had been waiting for just her to exit the building, using the concrete wall by the steps to successfully conceal her presence until now. With an ever swift step, did the blond-haired woman creep up behind the rookie detective, and grab the loose end of the scarf laying suspended over Iliana's shoulder. "Oh, Miss Starr..." said Nicole St. John, yanking the knitted material and nearly choking the young woman, forcing her to an abrupt halt.

"Gaacckk..." Iliana was almost strangled, and tore around only to find an irrepressibly exasperating smile, that which created a sudden urge to do to the reporter what had just been done to her. "St. John..." she hissed through clenched teeth, a spray of steam denoting the true temperature outside the protection of cold-riveted steel. "What the fuck is your problem?!"

"Miss Starr, I just want to ask you some questions."

Instantly, did the image of the Halloween party held months ago flash into her thoughts. "Let me guess." Iliana mused. "You want to know about gargoyles..."

"How did you know?" she answered, a sarcastic tone to match that of her prey.

"Because you have no life," the false pleasantry was at last washed away, "and are too stupid to realize that gargoyles are make-believe. Kinda like your career."

"Sticks and stones, Miss Starr." Nicole kept her smile alive, hoping irrational anger would loosen a pair of lips she knew held back a clandestine obtrusiveness, carried on her features as a peculiar twitch and only discernible to a trained eye. "Now, why don't we get some coffee and talk some more?"

"Bite me." Iliana hissed, edging backwards and walking away into the city streets, hoping for the grand fortune of being swallowed and concealed by the scarce pedestrian traffic. "Go find someone else to harass, St. John, because gargoyles don't exist."

"If you don't believe gargoyles exist," Nicole yelled out to the retreating detective, "then why did you join P.I.T.?"

Iliana was indeed stopped in her place, cursing the reporter's true skills in uncovering buried secrets. "Damnit...how the hell did she know?"

"In fact, you seem to be the only detective in the twenty third precinct who has..." she continued, stepping closer, the snow beneath signaling each taken step with a splintered crack of ice. "Which is why I'm coming to you, detective Starr. For someone who insists that gargoyles don't exist, why would you join an organization that promotes peace with them?"

"They...have great caterers at their parties." she lied, a weak excuse thought up in a moment of bewilderment.

"Uh huh."

"Listen, I just joined because there's a bunch of good looking guys at those meetings, and even though they're a little delusional, they're still single. Now...FUCK OFF!!!" she snapped. "I've got someone to meet..." Iliana escaped, heading towards the subway terminal, and leaving Nicole to rub her chin, and only fuel her passion with yet another possible mystery.

"Really..." Nicole swept into the crowd, intent on following the detective on her journey home.

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

"By the gods, it is hot in this building..." Sata breathed, releasing the binds of her kimono slightly, baring a bit more of her chest from the folds of the silken material. She slipped a hand inside to caress over slick, emerald hide, and swept away a few loose strands from her brow, her perfect raven coif becoming tangled and matted in the heat exuding from her pores. The Japanese gargess clumsily stalked the halls near the dojo and gym, her entire skin flushed, tingling with an odd sensation. That of passion, and pure lust. What she would give to have her mate here in her arms, his strong body pressing her close, and giving her cause for rejoice, for screaming to the stars in sexual ecstasy. "Brooklyn..."

She moved on, passing by a room, and in her keen senses, detected a scent that captured her heart, and held her breath in her throat. The powerful musk of a nearby male. Sata peered around the doorframe, seeing a muscular backside enter into view. Long hair, having been given ample chance to grow back out, with strands of chestnut wealth carrying a light, glistening sheen in it's dampness. David Xanatos had just finished his workout and was toweling off, perhaps unprepared for what would rest against him.

Sata pressed her cheek to his warm hide, caressing her lips over each bulge, and delicately tasting the sweat pouring from him. "Delicious..." she whispered.

Xanatos turned in surprise to find Sata standing behind him, her kimono further loosened, merely hanging from her body. She was sweating, and breathing heavily, but what struck him the most, were her eyes. Trained on him, a dark ebony mist. Like the hunter having located it's prey, she was the wild animal untamed and ferocious, a fight to the death for what would be denied to her in her right mind. "Sata..." he breathed, his throat dry, lost in the intoxication of a beautiful female staring at him.

"Xanatos-san." This time, a simple name held new meaning. "I was feeling...restless, and thought I would...relieve it through some exercise."

"As did I. But I'm still feeling," he eyed the jade-tinted gargoyle in front of him, roaming his eyes to her shapely legs and full breasts, and the devilish glint in her eye, "unfulfilled."

"As am I. Care to help me...fill my needs?"

Xanatos threw his towel away, and stepped up to the gargess. "Very much." He lunged forwards and threw her against his chest, and they ferociously forced their lips together, savoring the other's taste, an exciting flavor of something so new. Yet both were screaming inside, their souls torn with the fact they were both betraying their loved ones, but the physical force that compelled them was too strong, and much too powerful to resist, even with perhaps the strongest of will.

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

"Brooklyn..." breathed Angela, looking down onto masculine, scarlet-colored hands busily untying her tunic, his talons fumbling, as if unsure, and relieving her form of the tight apparel, allowing it to hang loose. "I don't think...we should...do this..."

Brooklyn was beyond caring, needing satisfaction from any female, and luckily for him, did the spark still remain for this attraction from his past. "I know..." he whispered, pulling Angela close, kneading her backside, where the wings attached with deep violet membrane. "But...I can't help myself..." he said, nudging his beaked mouth into the cleft of her neck and shoulder.

"Nor can I..." she replied huskily, pressing her brow to his, mingling their perspiration and dragging her lips upon his skin. Her hands roamed his body, her heart thundered in her breast, she was losing what control she once had to a surge of hormones racing through her blood. "Jalapena..."

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

"Goliath? Are you in here?"

"Yes...I was just about to leave for my patrol..."

Annika slipped through the tall double doors of her leader's bedroom, and found Goliath standing far back from her, near the fireplace. "I was wondering if I could borrow that book of Elisa's?" the dawn-tinted gargess asked, wondering why Goliath was holding himself as far from her as possible.

"Of course." he answered.

"Uhm...where is it?"

"On that shelf." He pointed to the bookshelves on the wall near Trinity's bedroom.

"Oh good." Annika scanned the shelves for the volume in question, and eventually did her gaze trail upwards along numerous books, videos, and other memorabilia from two long years of blessed marriage and a resulting child. "I was hoping to calm myself down. It's frigging hot in this castle, and I'm getting a little...restless..." Her eyes of ocean cerulean at last centered in on the book, held on the highest shelf, just inches from her farthest reach. "Ungh...Goliath, I can't reach it...could you get it for me?"

The lavender giant stalled a moment, in seeing Annika unwittingly arch her back and thrust her buttocks out. He then trudged forwards, eventually standing just behind the voluptuous female, and reached up to grab the book. He leaned forwards, and accidentally delved his face into the lush mane of golden hair. He paused, and eventually took a deeper breath, savoring the fragrance of her hair, and the skin of milky rose beneath. A taste of flowers and sweet wine, of youth and a female bouquet with such power as to bring confusion to his heart. "You smell...wonderful, Annika..." Goliath breathed, sending a hot breath to brush along the nape of her neck, causing a trail of gooseflesh to arise. "Is that a new perfume?..."

"Y-Yeah..." Annika answered demurely, unconsciously stepping back to better feel the sheer muscle contained in Goliath's form. She glanced down, to find a massive hand curling around her mid-section, her bared stomach left naked to lavender talons, an attack on her being with such grace and delicacy, unbelieving that this embrace was coming from a man possessed of awesome destructive power. "What...are you doing?"

"I...do not know..." Goliath answered, abandoning the book, and using his other arm to wrap around her as well, ensuring this young seductress could not escape. "I am...feeling quite..."

"Horny?" she finished for him, wandering her own hands over his weathered paws, and directing them higher, towards her ample chest.

"Very."

Annika pushed his hands onto her breasts, Goliath fondling the large mounds and pressing his sharp fangs against her neck, into the soft, moist flesh just beneath her golden necklace. She could feel the straining loincloth press against her buttocks and tail, and in her passion, moaned in lustful bliss. "Good."

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

She swayed her hips seductively, sauntering through the squadroom, a crooked smirk and drowsy eyes wandering with wild abandon and left to roam upon each male officer that walked past her. Elisa snapped her wandering gaze to her co-workers, admiring muscled forms beneath either a uniform or plain civilian clothing.

As she made her way towards her desk, butted end to end with that of her longtime partner's, she found him there, working at his computer, his suit jacket tossed over his chair and leaving only a thin dress shirt over broad shoulders. "Hey Matt..." she greeted him, whilst standing directly behind.

"Maza..." Matt Bluestone answered back, a concise reply as he never tore his eyes from the screen. "Where have you been?"

"Oh, just...out for a stroll..." she said, tossing her lengthy raven tress from over her shoulders, a flick of hair to better reveal carnal eyes and a voracious smile. She coyly placed her hands on Matt's shoulders, and long, supple fingers dragged across the expanse of expensive, designer material, and the form just beneath. "I'm kind of...hot..."

"All right." Another brief response, Matt being too absorbed into his work to notice Elisa breathing in his scent from just behind his ear.

Elisa cast away the tiny droplets of sweat from her brow once more, and started caressing his shoulders. And soon a simple contact transformed into a deep massage, long, and sensual. "You work out often, Bluestone?"

"Sometimes."

"It shows...mmmmm...Sara's a lucky girl..."

Bluestone was perhaps too involved in his case, and his computer work to notice the abrupt change in Elisa's ministrations on his backside, not common for the friends to give each other shoulder rubs when the daily grind can force down on them. But with his eyes glued to the screen, he could not ever imagine what Elisa had been afflicted with, that of sorcery gone awry.

"What the hell?" came a shocked assertion from ruby lips, as Maria Chavez strolled through to her office, and found Elisa nearly licking the back of Bluestone's neck, and obviously taking each and every opportunity to capture his scent. "What is she doing?"

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

"You can be so stolid sometimes...almost unfeeling." she cooed, winding his long, ivory hair into her fingers and using the strands to pull him closer to her, as she perched casually on the edge of her husband's desk. "Cold like ice." Fox whispered, with the jagged countenance of Othello just inches away from hungered lips. "I'll crack that ice, and melt it completely away."

"It will not be that easy...my lady." the dusty blue gargoyle answered back in his low inflection, as the billionairess wrapped her legs around him, effectively locking his winged body into place.

"I love a challenge..." Fox then wrenched him close, and they kissed, she exploring his mouth with her tongue and pulling him down on top of her slim form.

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

"Man, I'm gonna strangle that stupid bitch..." hissed Iliana, as she threw her scarf onto the coat-rack, and ripped off her leather jacket in a moment of anger, having fumed the entire trip home, of her previous encounter with a reporter that would not unlatch her claws from her back, as hard as she would try.

She entered into what existed of the living room in this tiny apartment, a darkened landscape of silhouetted furniture and chaotically-placed embellishments, and as she navigated her way through the darkness, something stirred beside her, and the trained detective sensed a change in her environment, and even a new scent having invaded her home. She turned around and stared straight into a chest scrawled with four brightly burning tattoos. "HOLY SHIT!!!" she screamed, stumbling back and onto her couch. "Oh...Shadow..."

"I apologize for startling you, Iliana-chan." the dark warrior answered, flipping on the light switch, and bathing the dwelling in a soft light, allowing the ninja's dusky skin to at last take on some definition. "But you had left your window open."

"That doesn't make scaring me to death right!" she said, appearing out of breath as she propped herself up on the cushions.

"Well, it seems I cannot please any female tonight..." Shadow muttered, with Iliana instantly picking up on his searing tone of voice.

"Whoa, what the hell is wrong with you? You seem to be in a mood...you know, more than the usual..."

"Nothing is wrong!" Shadow growled, placing a hand to his forehead, with Iliana opening wide her ice blue eyes to something she thought she would never be witness to, the winged ninja sweating. "I am just...hot..."

"Hot?! It's forty below out there. Are you sure you're okay?"

"I am fine." he reasserted, through anger and restlessness, a twitch of his fingers and spurred tail denoting his uneasiness. "Fine..."

"Had a fight with Delilah, huh?" she guessed.

"I do not want to talk about it." Shadow hissed, crossing before the seated detective, pacing back and forth through the small confines of her apartment, as if attempting to calm his rapidly beating heart. "What say we just...watch our movie..."

"Are you sure you shouldn't go back and..."

"I am not on her leash." he cut through, the severity of his brusque tone enough to elicit her instant subservience. "And I am quite sure."

"All right..." Iliana relented to her friend's choice of silence, in holding his anger and frustration inside, and went to prepare the television and movie. She kicked off her boots and hopped back onto the couch, with Shadow placing himself alongside. She noticed his heavy breathing, and the fact he would usually test the air, as if detecting a scent beyond her simple human range. "Something else wrong?"

Her question elicited a wafting stillness, as Shadow slowly turned his neck to look back to her, and a silent glare ensued, unnerving the small human with the sheer intensity. His wings flared slightly, and his brow lowered, his deep chestnut eyes centering on Iliana.

She swallowed hard, when no sound leaked through his parted lips. "Shadow...why are you staring at me like that?"

No answer, merely a swath of deep grayish-lavender through her hair, stroking the strands back behind her ear with his talons, to better see what lay beneath. But it was not beauty or love that would motivate his choice, it was desire, an appetite that could only be quelled in one way. Shadow leaned forwards and covered her lips with his mouth, kissing with a passion that overwhelmed the woman now being ravaged in both body and soul.

"Mmmmphhhff..." her words were lost, as Shadow crawled over her and continued his way with her, affected by what he could never guess, a magic he could never imagine, holding a grasp over him more powerful than any foe faced before. "Shadow..." she gasped, when the ninja released from her violet-stained lips and continued kissing down her neck. "W-What...are you...d-doing?...oh boy..."

"I...can't stop myself..." he answered, guiding his hands underneath her tight shirt and clasping upon supple flesh. "I need you...now..."

"But...Delilah..."

Shadow tried to pull away, seeing fragments of his ivory-haired blossom flash through his mind, she who haunted his thoughts and soul even when seized in stone, but he was unable to fight against the power of boiling blood, a fever pouring from his heart. He kissed her again, and only in her wildest dreams, did she ever imagine she could be as lucky to have this man.

But in her own loyalty and virtue, did she try to fight him off, a battle of lust versus cognizance, and she would soon find, it was a futile war indeed.

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

"Okay, sixth floor, third apartment from the left..." In the blistering cold, she braved the weather, climbing the iron-rod fire escape of the neighboring building with gloved hands, and hoping to at least peer into the main window of her quarry's home, to both satiate a curiosity and build upon her career with a story guaranteed modest success. When approaching the appropriate height, the reporter had found a chance to rest and then stared out into what she believed to be Iliana Starr's apartment window.

With her telephoto lens, she spied intently upon the glass pane and discovered a flicker movement dancing in front of the window. Still somewhat unsure if this was the correct apartment, she zoomed in, and tried to discern just what were the shadows slipping past, a gnarled shape, and an outline of what appeared to be a pair of massive wings. "Oh...my...god..." Nicole gasped in total surprise, when the couple moved into the light, and a shock of flaming red hair gave away the true owner. "I'll be damned...another one..." She had seen Shadow, the dark warrior unmistakable, his gargoyle features bared completely to her sight. A discovery worth more than gold, a chance to become more than what she would ever imagine. "I knew I was right, I knew they existed. Hoaxes my ass. Here comes my anchor career." In the darkness across from the apartment, where no light existed at such an hour, a blinding flash erupted in split second barrages, as photo after photo were taken of the detective and the creature now on top of her, and now tearing off her shirt, exposing her black, silken bra. "Gotcha, Miss Starr...and your dirty, little secret."

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

Owen Burnett sensed something, and the fay known simply as Puck entrapped within the cold exterior of Xanatos' personal assistant, could detect the very aroma of magic within the steel walls of the Eyrie Building. And even as he approached the highest levels, did it only grow stronger with each level climbed. He knew he would have to inform his employer quickly, but he was still completely unaware this spell had been cast in error by his own star pupil.

The blond-haired majordomo came upon the doors of Xanatos' office, and upon stepping through, would be surprised to discover not the man who created the world's most prosperous business from the ground up, but his wife engaged in an activity he would have never guessed. "Mr. Xanatos, there is something...hmmmm..." He skidded to a halt, when seeing a massive, dusty blue gargoyle on top of the co-owner of Cyber-Biotics. He lifted a single brow, in true emotionless fashion. "Interesting."

He slowly encroached upon where Fox and Othello were kissing without any care of marriage or mating or hurting those they loved, with the billionairess stripped down to her bra and underwear, and Othello having torn off his breastplate and working on his loincloth, all while trying to maintain his precarious balance atop the irregular-shaped desk. "Fox."

"Owen..." she answered, as Othello chewed upon her neck. "I think...there's something wrong..."

"Indeed." he answered, wiping a single finger against Fox's shoulder and smelling her perspiration, forced back by what lay contained inside, a substance not quite natural. "This is the work of powerful magic."

"We both...thought so..." she panted, gasping her garbled response as she ran her hands through the gargoyle's winding mane. "Othello came to deliver...the next month's patrol schedule...of the clan...and something just...clicked...oh god...oh god..."

"I believe I may understand the...nature of this particular spell, Fox."

"Then...do something about it...trickster..." Othello growled, delving his lips between Fox's breasts, unable to control his hands, creeping along every portion of her exposed skin.

"Of course." Owen lay his granite fist firmly to Othello's chin, and forced the gargoyle off of the desk, who landed with a rather harsh thump and rolled against the large window, staring out into the Manhattan skyline. He grabbed Fox before she could follow, and dumped her over his shoulder. "We need to separate you two, and find the rest of the clan, before things grow out of control." He walked out, with Fox looking up in a beaming smile to a trailing Othello, drawn behind them by her scent.

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

Her added weight forced them both down to the massive canopied bed, with Annika landing squarely on Goliath's heaving chest. Her talons dug deep into lavender flesh, her lips joined against his without hope for breath to escape. Her long blond strands littered his face, until he brushed them away and grabbed both sides of her head, grasping upon the cheeks, to better feel what scorching heat flowed through her creamy hide.

"Oh wow..." Annika puffed, nearly out of breath. "You ARE big..." she added, when her hands wandered over the expanse of adamantine pectoral muscle, nearly three times as wide as her entire torso and straining to explode from his skin, and down his stomach, bulging with sinuous brawn. Her hands then accidentally moved to his loincloth, and the swelling contained within. "VERY big...oh wow..."

"And you are very...blessed as well..." replied Goliath, when his hands rubbed against her large breasts, pressing into his torso, barely a thin fabric keeping them from spilling out into his awaiting palms.

"G-Goliath?"

"...Yes?"

"I love...Todd..." she asserted, as if trying to remind herself of her fiancé and her upcoming nuptials to the man she loved.

"And I love...Elisa...very much..." Goliath returned, and at the same time tearing Annika's golden band from her neck to gain access to as much sweetened hide as possible.

"Then what the hell...are we doing?"

"I believe...it is a spell..."

"M-Magic?"

"I see...no other explanation to our...behavior..." he said, then kissing up the subtle curve of her chin, with Annika responding by licking and tasting every flavor adhering to his chest. "And as such...we have to get...away from each other..."

"H-How?" she pleaded with him, growing fearful of crossing that line, and quite possibly forever damaging her relationship with her future husband.

"I see...only one alternative..."

Annika nodded, moving sweat-drenched tendrils of golden flow from her eyes, understanding of what Goliath had planned. "Is this...going to hurt?"

"Not much..." With a concentration of sheer willpower, Goliath pulled the younger gargess up and closed his eyes, as if attempting to conceal her physical allure from his libido, and yet of course, her damnably alluring scent still lingered. "But I do...apologize in advance." He then used his last remaining strength to force Annika away from him, and off the bed.

She landed, flipped over, scrambled up and stumbled towards the doors, trying desperately not to look back at him, the man she had always found attractive when first meeting this clan less than two years ago. She opened the doors, ripped through in a daze, and slammed the barriers behind her. With the greatest temptation of her lust locked behind solid oak, Annika then rested against the opposite wall, slicking back her damp hair, and provocatively rubbing herself, aroused past the point of rational thought. "I need sex..." she snarled, stalking down the hallway, possibly searching for yet another victim.

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

Owen traversed the hallway with the billionairess still held over his shoulder, having entered into castle Wyvern, and forced to stand as a barrier between Fox and Othello for even the short trip up in the elevator. And now, the dusty blue gargoyle kept his pseudo-lover in sight, as he followed behind them, with Fox trying to reach out to him, if only to make contact with his flushed skin. "Please stop struggling, Fox."

"I know, Owen..." She was of almost a right mind to carry on a reasonably intelligent conversation without a gargoyle's tongue firmly entrenched in her mouth. "I can't help myself...I need him..."

Owen sighed, and turned a corner, nearly colliding headfirst with a female of cream-colored skin.

"Friend Puck."

"Infiniti."

The guardian spirit tilted her head, seeing the bare buttocks of Fox over the disguised fay's left shoulder, with only a thin strip of red lace covering her hidden charm. "Why is Fox on your shoulder? And why is she almost naked?"

"The same reason you no doubt have arrived here."

"You mean the powerful magic I sensed? And this," her pointed finger drew Owen's attention to his employer, "is the result of a spell?"

Since ceasing his movement to speak with Infiniti, Othello had gained ample chance to catch up once more, and now reaffirmed the incantation's power by gently clutching Fox's face and slanting his mouth across hers. "Would you two stop that please?" he demanded, swinging Fox around and once more holding himself between the gargoyle.

"But, Owen," Othello pleaded, his low tone begging for mercy against the power of his sensual indulgence, "just another kiss..."

"No."

"Is the entire clan affected?" asked Infiniti, wiping the sweat from Fox's brow and rubbing it between her fingers, sensing the sorcery inherent in the crystalline warmth.

"I am guessing whomever was in the castle at the time the spell was cast." Owen sighed, holding back Othello with his good hand against the burly gargoyle's chest. "We must stop this from spreading, for this spell may passed along through the perspiration given off by the affected. It could be extremely contagious..."

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

She was surrendering what remained of any intelligent reasoning, surrendering herself, being devoured whole by this beast, this winged god she had fallen for instantly when first they met, though until now, it had been a severely one-sided attraction. Iliana still tried to fight him off, muffling pleas against him as he settled his great weight almost entirely upon her. But the sickness which streaked through Shadow's veins, had now been passed to her.

"Shadow...maybe...we should stop..." she gasped, even as she unconsciously wriggled free from her clothing, falling to lifeless heaps on the floor.

"I know..." the dark warrior agreed, holding himself at a pause, breathing fire and pressing his brow to her chest, rubbing his sweat into her hide. "I...cannot betray her...but...I cannot stop..." He suckled on her stomach, and she inhaled sharply when his teeth burrowed into her unprotected skin, and her flailing arms struck the telephone in their ferocity, knocking the receiver from it's perch, leaving the quiet hum of the dialtone.

She was sweating underneath the ninja, even in the coldest month, even as the freshly falling snow blew against the windows ever hopeful of breaking through the solid barrier. "I feel...so hot..." she whispered hoarsely, delirious, her eyesight blurring. A fire was roaring inside of her, burning too bright to sustain it's flame. "What's...happening to me?"

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

"We must seal off the castle, and perhaps even the entire building." Owen continued. "Or any allies who may enter will be in for the surprise of a lifetime."

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

"Keep rollin', rollin', rollin', rollin', move in, now move out, hands up or hands down!! Back up, back up, tell me what ya gonna do now!!" Todd Hawkins stepped through the elevator doors, and into castle Wyvern, lost in his blaring music, being pumped through expensive headphones to keep the sound quality of one of his favorite bands. "Keep rollin', rollin', rollin', rollin'!! Oh yeah, baby!!" he screamed to all corners of the Scottish fortress and the towering ceiling above, as he passed through the main foyer, and heading for the grand kitchen, his large-soled shoes tapping relentlessly against the tiling and then the ancient stone pathways.

Entering through the archway, he found the familiar steel surface reflecting back his image, the castle's fridge, three times the size of his own. Still listening to his music, he opened the door and ducked beneath into the numerous shelves, sifting through food products and obscuring himself from view of the hall beyond.

And with the lack of great timing often associated with the members of this clan, did Annika step onto the tiled surface, having followed the indistinguishable trail of Todd's cologne. "I can smell him...where is he?" She sniffed the air, sifting through the abundantly drifting scents for that of her lover's, but discovered perhaps her powerful senses had led her astray, and she moved on to hunt somewhere else.

"Damn!" Todd then suddenly yelled out, lifting back up and rubbing his hand. "Something bit me! Must be Broadway's dinner..." He bent back down again, to try to reach for something else to eat.

And once again, upon hearing her fiancé's voice, did Annika rush in, but found no trace. "Fuck!! Where is he?!!" she screamed rabidly, nearly foaming at the mouth, her emotions tattered and frayed in having fought off Goliath and leaving herself without gratification. She needed sexual fulfillment from a man soon, or drastic measures may have to be taken. She ran off again, and Todd then lifted up, having found the pizza ordered a week ago.

He cocked an eyebrow, and pulled off his headphones, looking around confusedly. "Did I hear someone? Oh well..."

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

"Will you please stop struggling, Othello?" edged Infiniti, losing a patience forged through several millennia in keeping the larger gargoyle from Fox, still strung over Owen's shoulder. "You must forget about Fox."

"If you insist." The dusty blue gargoyle abruptly pressed himself between Infiniti's wings, and reached up under her arms, forcefully cupping her breasts through her tunic of forest green and rimmed with shimmering silver. The guardian spirit froze in complete and total shock, becoming as if a statue with Othello baring down on her neck with his fangs, the hunter having cornered his prey.

"Why is Othello...chewing on my neck?" she asked cynically of Owen, nearly losing the grasp on her wooden staff and using strong hands of a mortal body given the powers of a god, to pry his desirous talons from their exploration of her chest.

"The spell is affecting him. It seems it does not matter who the affected wish to...appropriate themselves with...only that they get the chance to achieve sexual peak."

"Well, he is appropriating himself on my body." Infiniti hissed, hesitant to use her great strength against a member of her race and favored clan. "Othello, if you please...if your mate only saw you now..."

"I see...and I do not believe..."

Both Infiniti and Owen turned to see Desdemona standing awestruck behind them, having returned with Broadway from their patrol, either the worst timing, or perhaps the best. "Desdemona, it is not how it looks..." Infiniti claimed vehemently, attempting to sway the fears of abandonment and betrayal running rampant through Desdemona's thoughts, those which she had clearly picked up on with such close proximity. She then pushed Othello away from her and against the castle wall. "He is affected."

"By what?!" Desdemona's enraged tone grew into a husky scream. "What is happening here, you harlot?!"

Infiniti's brow rose. "I beg your pardon?"

"Ladies, please..." Owen interjected, clearly seeing the situation grow out of hand.

"Sex..." Othello hissed, eyes glowing white hot, a fury in nova flame glowing brighter than the starlight. He pushed himself past Owen and stalked towards his mate, and before she could step from his frightfully alarming advance with the soulless eyes of a beast unpossessed of any mind, he grabbed her and threw her into his arms. He heaved her higher and then tore down the hallway, intent on finding some privacy with she who had stolen his very heart and soul long ago, a love born and fostered for a thousand rotations of the Earth. "SEX!!!"

"What is happening?" Desdemona squeaked. "What are you doing, my love?"

"In the words of Mr. Hawkins, Desdemona," Owen calmed her, his monotone barely brimming with an emotional content, almost enjoying the astonished expression on her face, "just go with it." He watched as Othello ferociously kicked in the door of a guestroom down near the end of the hall, and entered inside, only to seal the door shut behind him and muffle both his carnal growling and Desdemona's pleasurable shrieking. "Well, one couple down..."

"Is that wise?" Infiniti brushed closer, seeing Fox now running her hands over the majordomo's suit covered rear end. "Should we allow them to have sexual relations in his condition?"

"I believe so. If I understand this spell correctly, then the affected persons need only to reach sexual climax to break the hold it has over them. And besides, if there is anyone caught with another to whom they are not mated, there may be severe repercussions..."

"I can only imagine..." she said sadly, rubbing her temples, attempting to use her powers to reach out beyond this castle, and locate the missing members of the clan. But clouded were her magicks, for she was growing fatigued, and unable to access her own sorcery that easily by something as yet unknown.

"What spell?!" Broadway soon demanded, dodging Fox's grabby hands as he drew near. "What the hell is going on here?!!"

"A magic spell, Broadway. One which we have to contain immediately. I suggest you find your mate, and have sex with her at once."

Broadway tried desperately to hide his swelling grin, in the promise of a truly erotic and unforgettable evening if Angela had been affected by anything like that Othello had caught. "R-Really?"

"Indeed."

"Forget Angela!!" Fox yelled out, sweeping away her flowing hair, dripping with her warm, honeyed perspiration, pooling onto the stones beneath. "I'll take you to the gates of heaven and beyond, big fella...mrrrreowwrrrr..."

"Wow..." Broadway shied back, as Fox attempted to claw herself from Owen's clutch. "Wow...uh, you better find Xanatos, Owen. And quick. I'll look for Angela...wow..."

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

"I know, she's been all over every guy that crosses her path. She's acting like a cat in heat." Maria whispered into her cell phone, seeing the raven-haired detective staring lustfully at another uniformed officer beside her, seemingly seconds from launching herself at him with claws unsheathed.

"...It is not her fault, captain Chavez..." said Owen, through Maria's phone. "...The spell I informed you about is affecting her libido. You must isolate her quickly before it spreads..."

"You said it's passed through the sweat?" she responded with an affirmation of just how this spell, acting more like a virus, had raced through the entire Manhattan clan. "Well, I've been watching her since I noticed, and I haven't seen her touch any exposed skin...yet." she amended her statement, when seeing Elisa tug once more at her tight, black shirt, wanting as if to remove it completely.

"...Then remove her from her colleagues...especially the men..."

"I'll do better," Maria hardened her tone, "I'll bring her home."

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

"Where are we going?"

"I'm taking you back to the castle." replied Maria, eyes entrenched firmly on the slick road ahead of her, the captain having taken to the wood-rimmed wheel of the fairlane, with Elisa trapped in the passenger seat, fidgeting relentlessly. "Something's wrong with you."

"I know...I'm so hot..." Elisa gasped with a parched throat, wiping her brow. "Oh man...and so is he..." She had seen someone flash by past the car window, and pressed her face against the glass to better see the fading form of whom had caught her attention. "Nice butt."

"Elisa!" Maria snapped, with the detective being thrown back into her seat by the harsh summons. "Will you please control yourself?! Remember, you are a married woman!"

"I know...oh god, what's wrong?..." She placed a trembling hand to her forehead, breathing heavily. "Goliath...I need Goliath...now...right now...I need him inside of me...filling me with his big..."

"Oh dear lord, Maza..." Maria winced, her friend and employee delving too deep into her own personal affairs for her liking.

"Sorry...but I'm just so...horny..."

Maria kept the ailing detective in her sight, in the bare corner of her eye, and pressed her foot harder into the accelerator pedal, bringing a rush of rich fuel and needed power to the fairlane's engine, hoping to get Elisa home as soon as possible.

But suddenly, when they stopped at a street light near to the Eyrie, did Elisa roll down the window and scream wildly, startling Maria in her alacrity. "Hey, boys!!" she shouted amorously to a group of men huddling at the side of the street waiting to cross, winking her eyes, and effectively displaying her true intentions. "Looking for a good time?!!"

"Maza, get back in here," Maria leaned over and caught Elisa by the neck, wrenching her back into the seat, "and shut up! Before you do something you really regret..."

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

If she had the strength to do so, she would have completely and totally torn the elevator doors open with her bare hands, if only to get to her mate a few seconds earlier. Having paced around the small bounds of the cab for the entire journey skywards, and almost making Maria sick to her stomach in the constant tread of the elevator's titanium floor, she was now free to hunt down her lover. And now over two thousand feet in the air, Elisa tore through the castle, bouncing off the walls in her attempt to find her husband.

Maria chased after, unable to keep up to the detective's healthy stride, and eventually found Elisa clawing like a madwoman at the locked entrance to her room, using her nails to dig visible trenches into the varnished, chestnut oak. Maria pulled Elisa away, and gently rapped a few times on the door.

"Rrraaguhhwhat?!!" came a frayed tone, muffled through the thick wooden barriers.

"Goliath." said Maria, knowing he too was hiding himself away to better keep under some semblance of control. "I know you want to separate yourself, but...Elisa's here."

"You're lying!!" he growled. "You only wish to have sex with me!!"

"Goliath, take a whiff..."

A few seconds later, and she then heard a loud crash from inside the room, and without warning, did the doors swing open and in a flash of glistening lavender, did Goliath lunge outside and rip Elisa from the stones. He disappeared back inside, and Maria was left alone, only to pause, and then try to listen through the doors in morbid curiosity.

"I wonder..." she whispered, holding her breath to better hear, until a rabid screaming erupted forth, forcing Maria away in both shock and utter fear. "Wow..."

"Yes, a scream I have heard many a night." came Owen, emerging from the shadows and to Maria's side. "Especially tonight. My thanks, captain Chavez, in bringing Elisa home."

"Well, she was pretty much useless where she was. Is this spell going to wear off anytime soon?"

"I believe only when the affected reach climax."

"Climax?" Maria asked confusedly, until at last realizing. "Oh, yes, of course, climax." she said, knowing it had been a very long time for her ever having to even use that word in such context.

"Captain, I now have to ask...did you touch any exposed skin of detective Maza's?"

"No, at least...I don't think so." She glanced for the second time to her hands. "I mean, I feel just fine."

"You don't have any desire to...have sex?"

She resettled her position, hands planted on her hips. "Is this a come-on?"

Owen merely adjusted his glasses in the suspicion of his motives. "This is a serious matter, captain."

"I feel fine, Mr. Burnett." she affirmed her state of non-arousal. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to work."

"Of course, captain." he said as she started off. "Goodnight."

Maria continued down the hall, the same path back to the elevators. She brushed a hand across her cheek, her fair skin showing no signs of the spell. And in some way, it saddened her, having no one to run home to, no one to share her bed. "You're luckier than you realize, Maza." she muttered, slowing her trek and dragging a few fingers along the stones of the sturdy battlements, her nails tracing a line over each indentation and subtle imperfection of ancient stone. Approaching a corner, and lost in memories of the past, Maria's lowered eyes would never see the obstruction until it was too late. "Umphff...oh, I'm sorry," she backed off and looked up into an aged charcoal, weary eyes of battle and hardship cast down upon her, "...Hudson."

"Maria..." he rolled her name off his tongue as if sparkling champagne, crisp and of a piquant flavor, the elder gargoyle's tan hide flushed and carrying upon it's surface a light sheen.

She stared at him with wide, expectant eyes, awaiting his usual cheerful brogue, but none came, the gargoyle simply looking down on her, boring through and into her very essence. "Hudson, are you...feeling all right?"

He gently lifted a hand to rub against her cheek, and she reveled so in strong talons and leathery skin guiding past her face, and into her almond mane. A touch once thought forgotten by the widow, powerful and yet so very tender. "Nay, Maria, I be feelin'...a might hot t'night..."

"Me too..."

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

Alone, isolated from the rest of the world by walls of simple plaster and wood construction, the chances of being forcefully torn from each other were remote indeed, now relying on only their strength of will, and a resistance to fight off a lust taken complete control of their forms. Iliana was stripped of her panties, being slid down her legs by dark talons, the sharpened ends grazing against flawless human skin, painted a milky peach of Russian and Irish ancestries. She was completely naked now, baring her all to the dark warrior of Wyvern, and allowing him the greatest gift of her most private intimacy.

He burrowed into her lower stomach with sharp teeth and a hungry tongue, eventually moving into the bright patch of red hair betwixt her long thighs. The spell was destroying them as every minute passed, wiping away any humanity once held or a recollection of loved ones betrayed, and leaving only creatures controlled, dominated by their most primal senses, wanting for the taste of one another to forever join them as one.

Iliana swathed her hands into Shadow's tightly bound hair, and released the braided tail, letting his lengthy hair flow, a blanket of silken ivory covering her hide of dawn tint. "Shadow..." she cried, a voracious whisper. He would never answer to her plea, lost in the dance, and a prisoner of his own desires. "Oh god...feels...so good..." Shadow released from her and crawled upwards, leaving a moist trail as he kissed and licked up her stomach, and settled on her breasts, her nipples shaded a light crimson and erect from the intense stimulation. "Shadow...more..."

"...nnnnno..." he slurred groggily, as if awaking from a dream, and holding himself away, a small stream of sweat trickling from his brow and spattering onto Iliana's stomach. "...can't...betray her...can't...lose control...again..." His eyes roamed to her own, a glacial cerulean glare, hypnotic in it's splendor. "But...I need it...so very much..."

She offered no resistance, allowing the warrior to pick her off the couch and hold her effortlessly to his chest. "Bedroom's...that way..." she whispered into his ear, pointing to another door near them.

Shadow looked from the woman in his arms to the bedroom door, playing his choice in his mind, but gone was his rational thought, his calm, ocean demeanor, the magic setting his blood aflame had left in it's journey through him a wake of chaos. The decision was made before he even knew it, when he found himself being drawn towards the bedroom, and when stepping through, he threw Iliana onto the bed and then closed the door behind him.

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

"Man, where is everyone?" Todd muttered, having walked through empty corridors without any sign of the clan, a family he was about to officially join in a little more than a month. "And what the hell is all that screaming I keep hearing?" He had approached Annika's room, and knocked a few times on the closed door. "Annika? You in here?" Suddenly, down the hall came a thunderous crash, quite effectively catching Todd's attention. He looked in the direction and found a wooden endtable being thrown into view, shattering into a thousand splintered pieces before his very eyes. "What the hell? Annika?"

She had appeared, stalking into his range of vision, and then traversed her eyes down the length of the corridor to his, and they connected. "Todd..." she growled, a droplet of saliva swaying across her bottom lip, and plunging from her mouth. She crept towards him, and when confronted with yet another piece of furniture, merely slammed her fists into the wooden structure and ripped the broken pieces away in her mad quest to near him.

Todd swallowed, and nearly dropped his last piece of pizza. "Whoa...Annika, what is wrong with y..."

"I NEED SEX!!!" she screamed, and jumped on him, sending both her and her fiancé through the doors to her bedroom. "NOW!!!"

"Fuck me gently..." he wheezed, as Annika perched on his chest, securing him to the carpeting and rubbing her groin into his body.

"I intend to...except for the gentle part..." She curled back her swollen lips, unleashing her fangs and bit Todd on his jugular, drawing the succulent warmth of his blood.

"OUCH!!! Holy shit, woman!!" Todd attempted to fight her off, but found his arms pinned to his sides with a superior strength rarely used against him.

"Just lay still, lover, and I promise this won't hurt." She clenched her talons into her tunic and ripped it away, baring her large breasts. She then undid her loincloth and slipped from it's confines as well. "Much."

"God damn..." Todd expressed in fear, before being swallowed in Annika's shadow, breached only by her crimson glowing eyes.

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

The thick bristle of his beard tickled lightly across her blushing cheeks, almost causing a laughter in the feathery caress. It had been so long since the lips of a man had touched upon her mouth with such devotion and fervor, it was addicting to the elder woman, so much so as to lose herself in the kiss. Maria was leaning towards him, standing on her toes to better reach his greater height. The gargoyle snaked his arms around her slim waist, pulling close the captain, and holding her against his burly frame with such passion as to almost cause her harm.

"Hudson...wait..." she whispered in rended stutters, breaking off from his mouth, though reluctantly. "I can't...it's too much..."

Hudson found himself unwilling to allow her to escape, wanting so much of this woman, perhaps more than she could ever give. "Maria, I have always wanted t' get closer t' ye...I care fer ye..."

"And I care for you...but...I...I can't...please..." she begged to him in a whisper, her heart twisting with confusion of just what she truly wanted, and guilt in betraying the spirit of he whom she had bound her life to long ago.

Hudson silenced her with a brush of his talons against her lips, and dragged his knuckles down the sharp curvature of her face, where now lay a light sheen in crystal ocher. For she was beginning to sweat, she had been infected by possibly Elisa, and with Hudson, the one man who had awakened her heart standing near her, did it at last begin to take hold. "Maria..." he breathed against her neck, guiding his talons beneath the collar of her blouse and across her breastbone. "Ye know what I want...what it seems I be needin'...th' real question be, what d' ye want?"

"I...I don't know, Hudson..." she answered honestly, to a friend of two years now, having shared their lives over steaming cups of tea in the light of the waning phases of the moon. "But it's so hard...to be alone..."

"Ye dinna have t' be...at least, not t'night..."

Maria closed her eyes, damning her aroused state. "I...can't..."

"Maria." Hudson's tone became resolved, almost fierce. "Fer once in yer life, lass...let yerself go..." Using all he was, every last ounce of strength and the remaining vestiges of willpower, he backed off, allowing Maria the freedom of her own true desires. "I know...ye still hurt, ye still mourn fer yuir mate...I be as well. It ultimately be...yer choice, Maria Chavez...but if ye be refusin' me, I be forced t' lock m'self in me tiny room, and watch...Baywatch re-runs..."

She hesitated, then lurched forwards. "God forbid." She wrapped her arms around his neck, at last giving in to her temptation, and Hudson responded in kind, lifting the slender captain off her feet and deepening her kiss, as Maria kicked off her heels.

"Come, lass...let us find a...more comfortable place to be t'night..."

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

"Have you now found them all, friend Puck?"

Owen sighed in exhaustion, and for some apparent reason, ran a few fingers through his forever unchanging hair. "I believe so." he answered the guardian spirit while looking at a clipboard, scrawled with names of the entire clan to better keep track. "Othello and Desdemona, Goliath and Elisa, and Todd and Annika were contained. And surprisingly, I then witnessed Hudson carrying captain Chavez to an empty guest room. Then," the list continued on, "I was able to track down the others, and just barely avoided having a fight breaking out between Brooklyn and Broadway."

"Oh?"

"Yes, it seems Broadway found his mate and brother engaged in a rather lewd act, and he nearly separated Brooklyn's head from his body. Fortunately, I was able to smooth things over, drag Brooklyn away, and allow Angela to...make it up to her mate, as it were."

"And Fox?"

Owen released another sigh into the still air of his office, annoyance afflicting his frozen features. "After having stood between Fox and Brooklyn for longer than I wished, I located Sata and Mr. Xanatos in the gym, using the pummelhorse in a manner not designed."

Having roosted on the edge of Owen's black marble desk, Infiniti smiled in the description of her associate's adventures, yet seemingly to him, all in a night's work for the personal assistant of David Xanatos. "So, all is right."

"Not quite. After having placed each rightful couple in empty rooms, and secured Alexander, the twins and beasts, thankfully unaffected, in the media room, I was unable to locate Shadow."

"Interesting..." Infiniti mused. "And Delilah? How does she fare without him?"

"Attempting to isolate herself in the library was the only solution she could think of. She mentioned her lover was proceeding on patrol after leaving detective Starr's apartment. I tried to phone, but the line was busy, and has been for quite some time. I can only hope Shadow, with his unique skills, has sensed the spell's effects and found a place to quarantine himself as well."

Infiniti cocked a spurred ridge, to Owen's weary mannerisms, perhaps the first time witness to the child of Oberon's visible fatigue in his chosen duties. "You appear...tired, friend Puck."

Owen removed his glasses and mended the bridge of his nose. "Yes...it is curious. I have not...felt like this before, at least not for a very long time."

"Nor have I." she whispered, grazing a hand down the front of her tunic, trailing each and every curve her mortal body possessed.

After replacing his glasses, Owen noticed the slight gloss to Infiniti's cream skin under the soft lights of his office. He stepped closer to better examine her condition. "Infiniti, are you...sweating?"

"It seems your task...is not yet finished, Owen..." she said, a peculiar resonance wafting from her tongue. "It seems there is a reason to the dulling of my powers...for I believe...I too...have somehow been affected..."

"Yes..." Owen concluded, seeing the guardian spirit, she of magic incarnate, perspiring. But he then looked to his hand of flesh, and found the palm was moist. "As have I...interesting."

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

The passage of night let on, it's rabid consumption of the city forced to an end by the growing light of day. The Winter cloud cover of swirling lavender and a deep, fierce gray, with patches of starlight in between the curling and twisting mists, lightened, and though it's power diminished, still held back the coming light of the sun. And through the small window, where lay a small piling of snow rimming the bottom edge of the jutted sill from the previous storm, came just enough illumination to alit her wandering fingers. They touched upon slowly swaying muscle, and an odd texture when caressing the tattooed brands, almost more like cauterizations having been seared into his chest.

Iliana stirred and surfaced with the tightening of his embrace, rising from the drowsy depths of a blissful slumber, drawing instinctively closer to the heavenly warmth of he who had shared the berth with her. Iliana at last came awake, opening her eyes and raising her face, still shaded with sleep, to his. The sudden realization hit her as if a twenty ton weight, when seeing a fluttering of mahogany baring down on her. It was not a dream after all, it was very real. "Shadow..."

"Delilah..." the ninja whispered, aroused with the calling of his given name, and turned on his side, opening his eyes in full to the true owner of the silken voice, brought to a low rasp when first awakening. "Iliana??!" Shadow pitched up, recklessly throwing himself from the bed with only a pillow to cover his exposed privates, nearly stepping on the bedside table. The rare look of fear struck him as if lightning, terror streaking across his features and molding a stoic facade into that of utter ruin in his actions hours ago. "No...this...can't be real..."

"But...it is..." Iliana argued, swathed in the bedsheets, her nude form barely spilling from cotton folds. She watched intently as Shadow grabbed his loincloth and slipped back into place the leather bindings on his arms and legs. "Shadow...maybe we should..."

"We should say nothing more to each other!" he snapped, unwilling to even look back at her, ashamed in his misdeed, his betrayal of his dearest blossom's trust. "Nothing more..."

He had hurt her, in his refusal to even accept what had happened, though not of their own will, it was a night of passion that would forever haunt her memories. "But, Shadow...please..." she pleaded with him, standing to her feet, and dragging the sheets across the floor towards his retreating form. "You can't just pretend this didn't happen."

"I can," he bared his eyes, only a brilliant sapphire in place of chestnut ether, "and I will." The dark warrior slipped away from her outstretched hand and tore through the bedroom door, intent on leaving, heading back to the cornices suspended in the sky before daybreak. Without a sound, the ninja had used skills nourished and perfected in the deep forests of his upbringing to slip unnoticed from the apartment, through the window and into the embrace of the fading night.

Iliana crumpled to the ground in the middle of her living room when left alone, a trembling hand washing over tearing eyes. She could remember every detail now, her mind released from the spell when she and Shadow made love to each other, and reaching the peak of sexual climax with a deafening scream and collapsing onto his slick, sweaty chest, the last recollection before waking to him in her own bed. The scent of his musk, the taste of his virile masculinity laying suspended in the air, the overwhelming senses of having the winged warrior bury himself deep inside of her. But now, did the fact of her lack of sufficient willpower take hold, and Iliana Starr broke down, a fetal position on her carpeting, with the sheets thrown over her limp form. "Shit."

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

"Well, I don't know about you ladies, but the Big Guy turned me inside out." said Elisa proudly, nursing her coffee, barely grazing her lips to the heated fluid, pouring from the confines of painted porcelain with steam of a translucent pearl gray lifting slowly and curling into the air. She was at one end of the kitchen table, dressed only in her panties and Goliath's oversized Bikini Inspector T-shirt, worn once to humor Brooklyn, and now, brimming with his scent, was used frequently as Elisa's nightshirt. "Damn...I have aches and pains where I didn't think possible..." she grumbled, rubbing her backside.

"And now I think, so does Todd." remarked Annika beside her, with Todd's former New Jersey Devils hockey jersey adorning her voluptuous frame, with two slits cut for her wings to poke through and rest comfortably.

"Is he even still alive?" said Sata, relishing her mint tea.

Annika fluffed her brow in question. "I hope so..."

"Our mates are strong and vigorous," Desdemona cut through, her usually bound hair left unhindered and hanging strands of dark spun gold falling over her brow, "they will survive...if their constant boasting is true." A chorus of laughter was released from the Wyvern females, having met in the kitchen before the rise of the sun, to discuss and share their respective nights, and in true female custom, compare notes.

"Is there any indication of where this spell came from?" asked Angela when the laughter eventually died out.

"I think I have a hunch." mused Fox, a swathe of crimson hair moved away from her questioning eyes. "That little...just like his dad." she hissed quietly.

"Hey, where's Delilah?" Annika inquired, noticing a missing member from the conversation.

"I have no idea." Elisa answered. "Probably with Shadow. I'm still wondering just where my daughter is...Demona said she would be home by morning."

"And staying true to my word, here she is."

Elisa turned towards the voice, only to have a small, winged shape leap into her lap, nearly knocking the detective from her chair, the checkered tiles allowing the seat to skid slightly over the polished surface with an audible squeal. "Oof! Oh, hello, Trini."

"Hi, mommy!" the hybrid cheered, lavishing upon her mother a hug and curling into her large shirt, her strong sense of smell instantly recognizing her father's distinct aroma.

"So, squirt, did you have fun at," Elisa paused and then looked to Demona, having perched herself near the doorway, "hmmm...auntie Demona's house?"

"Yuh! I play, an' watch Sail'r Moon, an' lotsa stuff!"

"That's...great."

"And here you thought I would brainwash her." Demona jested, sending a cruel eye towards her former enemy, the irony of now serving as Elisa's baby-sitter not lost on her.

"The thought had occurred..." Elisa drawled, she and the cerulean-skinned gargoyle locking eyes of almond steel and black brimstone.

"Yes, it did."

"Mother," Angela said sternly, "stop tormenting Elisa."

"Of course, daughter. It was a pleasure to care for Trinity. I hope we can do it again sometime very soon."

"Well, next time we're all affected by a magic spell and need a baby-sitter for Trinity while we are all having relentless sexual relations with our husbands and mates," Elisa started, a longwinded sentence thrown together mostly to confuse Demona, "we'll call you."

Demona's eyes widened. "I'm sorry?"

"Long story." she finished, with all but Demona and Trinity muffling their laughter.

But suddenly, did the room fall completely silent when another joined them, walking into the kitchen and abruptly halting her tread when seeing the entire group stare at her in disbelief, perhaps not expecting a gathering to meet her upon her arrival.

"Uhm...hi." Maria greeted them, scantily clad in her underwear and her blouse with only three buttons keeping the sheer material from falling from her shoulders. Under the scrutiny of the entire clan, she timidly moved a few stray tendrils back into place, her customarily impeccable hairstyle ruffled and hanging loose. "So...how's the coffee?" she whispered, moving towards the brewer, and attempting to ignore the stares.

"Jesus...captain Chavez??"

"Maza." Maria greeted her detective, seeming as nonchalant in her presence and attire as possible while pouring herself a cup of coffee.

"Oh my god..." Elisa gasped in shock, still unbelieved of her superior's unexpected appearance. "You...and Hudson?" she had guessed of the most obvious answer.

Maria dropped the stirring spoon quite abruptly on the counter, and settled her breath. She walked towards her and took an empty seat. "It seems I was affected too."

"I didn't know you and Hudson were...uh, dating..."

"We are not." Maria warned sternly, becoming less of a friend and more as Elisa's higher-up with a simple utterance. "We just...couldn't control ourselves..."

"Well, frankly...why not? I mean, you guys both care for each other, right?"

"He is my friend, and nothing more."

"It doesn't seem that way to me..."

"Please, Elisa...just let it go." Her tone warranted a silence, an uneasiness in hearing Maria's seeming pain of having lost control.

"It is not uncommon for those who have loved and lost, to feel as if they are betraying their deceased loved ones when finding another to love." whispered Desdemona, seeing a pain present in the elder human's clear gaze when passed to her. "You are not betraying your husband. In fact, I know he would want you to move on with your life."

"What the hell do you know about it?" Maria hissed, slamming down her mug, a loud snap on black-speckled marble slate that unnerved the entire table, and even caused Trinity's wings to shudder and close in. "Have you ever gotten the telephone call telling you your husband was shot and killed? No, you didn't...for your mate is alive and well. So what would you, Desdemona, EVER know about it?"

"Because I see it in Hudson's eyes whenever he looks at you." she countered, and found Maria's glare softening. "He too has struggled with the loss of his mate, but now has tried to move on, knowing he cannot be alone forever."

Maria cupped her mug with both hands, shivering, even as the inviting warmth was passed through her skin. In the ripples of the black liquid, a pool being disturbed and a wave cresting upon the surface only to be followed and replaced by another, distorting the reflection of her tormented eyes in perfect succession. "I took advantage of him, allowed my own selfish needs to take control."

"Hudson cares for you, Maria." Elisa assured her. "Deeply. He knows you wouldn't have ever chosen to hurt him."

"I'm sorry, Elisa...but it's too hard." Maria wheezed, shying away from her friend's offered hand. "I still love Carlos...and I always will..."

"Maria, I..."

"Uh, ladies, I hate to break into the conversation," Annika interrupted softly, motioning towards the window, the growing light streaming through the slatted windows, casting a pattern of scissored light to skip across the kitchen cabinets, "but the sun's going to come up soon."

"It's your decision, Maria." said Desdemona, as she and the others flooded from the room to properly dress themselves and take their place on the towers. "But just don't let Hudson suffer for it..."

As the gargoyles departed and Elisa went to put Trinity to bed, Maria was left alone, bowing her head and resigning herself to the silence left behind. "Carlos," she whispered to her dead husband, his spirit always with her, "...I'm sorry."

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

His journey unimpeded by wind, or a stray gust, or even to allow himself the grand sight of Manhattan at dawn, he sliced through the thick atmosphere with an ever deliberate path, unwilling to deviate barely an inch until he reached the battlements of his adopted home. And when castle Wyvern appeared into view, did his heart both sing and then drop into his stomach, the very idea of facing his blossom now as devastating as the most powerful of foe thrown against him, his own guilt perhaps the only force that could bring him to his knees.

Shadow landed with a thump and quickly crossed the courtyard, seeing the clan taking their positions beyond him, where the wall curved around and met the rising sun. He scanned for his lover, hoping she would have fared better than he.

"S-Shadow?"

He whirled around to see the clone stepping from the archway, her hair tussled, her copper skin glowing with a damp sheen. She too had been affected, judging from her appearance and ragged clothing. "My blossom..." he whispered, in seeing her lurch towards him, her eyes rimmed with a deep ebony.

"Where were you?" she asked. "I...needed you...I was so worried..."

Shadow remained silent in the face of her question, a simple inquisition of his whereabouts when she had truly required him, needed his presence with her when suffering through the spell cast upon her fragile being.

"Where were you?" she asked once more.

The dark warrior merely reached out to her, until the sun rose above the horizon, and trapped them both in stone, separating the lovers in silent placidity, and eerie stillness, with Shadow's hand outstretched, but unbidden by that of the woman he loved.

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

Elisa traveled the long hall just after the onset of day, when witness to her husband transforming in the early rays of morning brilliance, from lavender hide to sculpted stone, and allowing her daughter needed rest after an exhaustive night. It was a stark, uniform shape in perfect symmetry, covered in a soft, inviting royal blue, such a drastic change from the winding castle halls above, each stone in slight difference to the other, a sight that which she had grown so accustomed to. She was looking for him, the trickster, to force an answer from him to why her home had been transformed into a bordello in the destructive wake of magic gone horribly wrong.

"Yo, Elisa! Where are you going?!" screamed someone behind her.

"Jesus! Todd..." Elisa sighed, calming herself as the young man strolled up beside her. "I'm just going to get some answers from Owen...uhm, Todd?" Elisa then took the chance to better see the condition of the artist standing near her, appearing in bandages, gauze and several band-aids wrapped securely around his exposed arms and head. "What the hell happened to you?"

"Annika. Claws. Horny."

Elisa nodded, a succinct answer, but understanding completely from where his wounds had appeared, and exactly who had inflicted them "Ah. Anyway, like I was saying, I'm going to find Owen and ask why everyone in the castle went nuts."

"Hey, I ain't complaining..." Todd joked, wearing a massive smile when following Elisa down the hall towards Owen Burnett's private suite. But he jerked suddenly, when a sharp, stabbing pain erupted through his side, wiping the grin away in a contortion of features. "Not much anyway...ow...damned claws...ow..."

Elisa stopped short when approaching the door to Owen's room, with Todd behind her, intent on discovering the true origin of the incantation. In her usual brusque manner, she burst through the door without any thought to his privacy, and both came to a sudden standstill, jaws left hanging and slack, and dark chocolate and misted gray opened wide to the point of interest directly in front. They had found Owen, and most surprisingly, atop him in the king-sized berth lay a very naked Infiniti, both partially buried in expensive sheets of imported Egyptian silk. "Shit..." she wheezed, when the pair of guardians flashed their eyes to the intruders, and Infiniti merely pulled the sheet higher, to just beneath her wings, concealing her nudity from Todd's roving eyes.

"Detective Maza." Owen greeted her, an indifferent response for such a display. "Can we help you?"

"N-N-No." Elisa turned away from the sight, and pushed a staring Todd from the room with a hand against his chest, forcing him out and slamming the door behind her. "Oh maaaaan..." she then groaned, burying her quickly reddening face within her cupped hands, regretting the fact she had never chosen to knock first. "Oh god...that was something no one was meant to see..."

"Whoa...well, Elisa, some guardian spirit you got there..." Todd joked, an application of humor to bury his surprise, and wearing an expression of total shock. "...Jesus..."

"Perhaps we should explain ourselves..." came a voice from the door, with Infiniti, now fully dressed, coming out to stand beside Elisa, and mend what expectations the humans may have formed with vivid imaginations. "It is simple actually."

"Oh, I'm just dying to hear this..." Elisa hissed, directing her fiery gaze to the guardian, and then a half-dressed Owen behind the cream-colored gargess.

"It seems we too were both affected by the spell, if only on a much smaller degree due to our magical heritage." Infiniti explained calmly, a delicate tone to soothe over Elisa's surging anger. "And to effectively perform our duties without distraction, we needed to...clear our minds, as it were."

"Clear your minds by doing the funky chicken?" Todd snapped back. "Oh yeah, that'll help..."

"As you both are fully aware, the spell wears off when the affected have an orgasm." Owen answered this time, discussing a usually taboo subject with grace and an unbreaking mask, with Todd snickering at the mere mention of the word released from the disguised fay's lips. "And thus, it seemed only logical."

"I thought you weren't supposed to interfere in our lives." Elisa argued to the gargess of raven silk and ivory bangs. "And couldn't you," she poked a finger directly into Infiniti's chest, "the guardian spirit of the entire gargoyle race, keep your dress on for one night?"

"Though my soul is of a higher power, my immortal body is still of mortal blood, with mortal wants and needs. And Elisa...I have not had sex in four thousand years."

"Oh..."

"Four thousand years?!!" Todd exclaimed, rather loudly, his scream wrapping itself around the corridor in an engulfing echo. "Did bats fly out?!!"

Infiniti, incensed by the comment, snapped her fingers and Todd suddenly jerked back, when a crack of thunder erupted outside of the Eyrie building, caressing along the sides of the skyscraper, and dragging the forceful strike along it's shimmering surface, all the way to the castle's highest levels.

Todd froze, censured in his remark by an impressive show of power. "Was that thunder?"

"You have a very large mouth sometimes, Mr. Hawkins. I suggest you shut it, before I am forced to break the rules set upon me. And as for your question, Elisa, I cannot interfere in the lives of human or gargoyle, but the fay are another matter."

"Whatever." Elisa sloughed off a comment she now deemed slightly untrue. "You and your little boyfriend here can go screw each other as many times as you want, but just don't lose sight of your given task..." she warned, the strength of a simple human imposing to even the guardian spirit granted power by the essence of the Earth itself.

"I never will, Elisa Maza. You can forever trust me on that."

"Good. Let's go, Hawkins."

"Do you not wish to know who cast the..."

"Not anymore!!" Elisa dragged out Todd by his arm, and left Infiniti alone with Owen.

The taller man caressed his hands over her shoulders, and Infiniti turned into his embrace, leaning against his chalky, bare chest. "So."

"So."

"Where does this leave us?"

"I do not think our relationship has changed too much." she whispered, conjuring her staff to her side in a spray of crimson mist, the unmistakable fetor of pure sorcery wafting along Owen's nose.

"Indeed." A bare hint of a smile crept into his lips.

"Well. It was...fun." she added demurely, drifting past him. "Oh, and by the way..." She reached out to touch his stone hand and arm, and with a simple tap of her talon, shattered the stone with tiny, webbed cracks flaring out from her touch, leaving a flesh appendage to relieve itself of it's prison of so many years. "Now will future encounters be...even more fulfilling. If you'll excuse me..." A flash of energy erupted forth and engulfed the entire hall, leaving Owen to shield his eyes from the sheer power released in Infiniti's departure.

He was alone and left to stare at a puff of smoke left behind to rise from the floor, where seconds ago stood the guardian spirit. He moved his stiff fingers with great difficulty, the bloodflow at last given the chance to return to his left hand, though numb and possessed of a bleached pallor, it was once again alive. "Quite an eventful night." he said to himself. "I wonder what Oberon will say when he finds out I am sleeping with one of his greatest adversaries?"

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

"Alex, sweetie?"

"Yeah, mom?"

Fox wrapped the covers over her son and tucked them securely beneath the mattress, then moved her hand up to brush away the strands of hair from his face. "Why did you cast that spell?"

Alexander's eyes widened, to better give his mother a view of purest emerald in the slim grooved streams of sunlight flowing through the blinds. "W-What spell?" he feigned ignorance, until his mother leaned over, and flicked her eyebrows.

"You know exactly what I mean." she lowered her voice, to a tone that Alexander clearly picked up on. "You messed up big time, kiddo, and you know it. Just what were you trying to do?"

He lowered his chin into the sheets, ashamed of his actions, knowing his mistake had caused utter anarchy within the walls of Wyvern. "I wanted to...make Rain stop loving uncle Lex..." he trailed off, ashamed in his plans to ruin Lexington's budding relationship.

Fox sighed, in a five-year-old's confession. "Why would you want that, honey? Aren't you happy Lex has found someone to love?"

"...No." he pouted, crossing his arms. "He's always with her, doing stuff with her...he's forgetting all about me..."

"No, he's not, and you know it. That was a very mean thing to do with your magic. And in your failed attempt, you did the exact opposite of trying to make Rain fall out of love with Lex, didn't you?"

"Yeah..." Alexander yielded to his mother's syllogism, though the exact repercussions and instances were not fully understood to him.

"Yeah." Fox pulled the sheets and quilt up further around her firstborn, and guided her fair skin to a matching hue. "You can't abuse your magic like this, Alex. Even if you don't like someone. But I'm sure you'll like Rain, once you get to know her better."

"No, I won't..." Alexander whispered, a mean scowl crossing his lips.

Fox shook her head, in seeing her son's rampant jealousy. "But whatever happens, you can't use magic until you master it. Is that clear?"

"But..."

"You would be wise to listen to your mother, young Alexander." said Owen, watching from the doorway of the young child's bedroom in the Eyrie, a silhouetted form standing rigid in the hallway's spilled light, where barely a glint of his glasses captured the rising sun. "You possess a powerful skill. Imagine what would have happened if the spell had enough strength to reach past the castle and into the city below, and perhaps even spread over the entire island."

"Bad stuff?"

"Indeed. Now I am forced to explain to the clan, and Goliath and Elisa, just why this happened. Most likely I will again lose the use of my restored hand."

"Now go to bed, kiddo." said Fox firmly. "And no more magic unless you're with either me or uncle Owen. Is that clear?"

"Yeah..." He turned over, concealing mischievous eyes and a clandestine smirk from both his mother and teacher, with an emerald spark nurtured in his palm and hidden underneath the covers. "No more magic..." he answered with a smile.

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

A new night, refreshed in the wintry evening sky, clear, and with a field of stars stretching from horizon to horizon. A single light had lit the large apartment suite of a captain of detectives, once having belonged to both she and her husband, now merely an empty place of haunting memories and faded laughter. Maria Chavez nestled in the chair alongside the balcony doors, legs tucked comfortably underneath her long skirt, and holding steady a cup of coffee, untarnished by any flavoring, and strong to keep herself alert, knowing he would come soon.

A bare hour passed after the descent of the sun, and did the shape known so well to her alight to her terrace, settling wings with frayed edges of aged membrane material, and set down with a heavy tread onto the balcony surface. He found her, perhaps waiting for him, and thick talons curled around the slightly open glass door, and slid it from his path. "Maria."

"Hello, Hudson." she greeted him, without a bother to rise from her seat.

Hudson sensed her discomfort, and knew it matched his as well. "Maria, I b'lieve we should talk..."

"I really don't think there's anything to talk about, Hudson." she answered, taking a sip of her coffee.

"Then 'twas not you who be screamin' on top o' me?" he countered deftly with an aged countenance forging a smile, hoping to elicit any response from her emotionless demeanor.

Maria nearly dropped her cup. "It was the spell." she hissed, flushed slightly in recollecting the sexual relations experienced with a powerful gargoyle, seeming half his age when under the covers. "Nothing more."

"Nay, lass," he dropped to a single knee in front of her, "'twas more than that. At least...t' me." His clawed hand sought out her own, kneading a talon directly into the soft space between her knuckles. "At 'twas t' ye as well..."

"No..." she pulled away from him, releasing a muffled plea through trembling lips. "I took advantage of you...used you. I was selfish...and I risked our friendship for nothing but a night of pleasure."

"And what a night it be..."

"Please stop it."

Hudson furrowed his brow, in seeing her defiance to what had happened between them, as if forcing herself to forget. "What troubles ye, Maria? What lays upon yuir heart so much as t' push away what we did?"

Maria set her coffee cup down, and leaned back into the embrace of the chair. "I pledged myself to a man a long time ago. I promised to love him, and honor him, and to never forget him, even in death. And then last night, I betrayed him, and his memory." Her eyes then became hard, edged with a glint of steel. "I can't...I won't abandon the promise I made to Carlos Maza."

Hudson sighed, and stroked his beard, in seeing a difficulty so like his own of losing a loved one. In having given themselves completely to another, and then having them torn away. "I too know th' pain o' losing me mate, Maria." he breathed, his rough Scottish inflection toned to a gentle whisper. "But d' y think he would want ye to be sad all yuir life?"

"I don't know..."

"An' I do know. Once I too be holding m'self back from any companionship, until a friend convinced me oth'rwise..." His hand slipped upon her face, his claws raking across her skin in a rare fusion of strength and tenderness. "Do ye really wish to remain alone f'rever?"

"If I have to..." she answered.

"Ye canna be serious."

"I am." She swiped his hand away, and retreated from any touch, even that of the man who had shared with her everything he was.

"Maria..."

"Just leave, Hudson. Please." She buried her face in her hands. "Just go..."

"As ye wish." The elder gargoyle lifted to his feet, and backed away from a silent woman, crumpled into her chair, appearing as small and helpless as a child. He padded towards the balcony doors, and then flew off.

Maria rose languidly from her chair when knowing Hudson had left, and approached a collection of framed pictures adorning her bureau against the wall. Eyes blurred with tears attempted to focus in on simple moments of the past forever preserved on polariod, and a surge of anger burst within her heart. She screamed, filling the suite with her ferocious howl and swept away the pictures with her hands, clearing the varnished mahogany with a thunderous crash of shattering glass and splintered wood frames. She collapsed to the ground, and when settling her eyes on the cracked wedding photo of her and her deceased husband, did she grab the photo, tear it from the jagged fragments of glass and clutch it to her chest.

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

"Now, now, Big Guy...have you been affected again?" Elisa cooed, crawling back over the edge of her bedspread, and retreating from her advancing husband and the look of lust in his eyes.

"It does not take one of Alexander's magic spells," he grabbed her and forced her close, "for me to want you and only you, my beautiful Elisa..." He nuzzled his lips into her neck and kissed gently upon bronzed skin, the taste of bitter rose and sweetened summer mist spilling onto his tongue.

Elisa laughed, and sprawled out, as Goliath laid over her. She stretched her arms over her head, allowing them to fall limply over the bedside, her fingers dangling and playing in the loose edges of her quilt and sheets. "Mmmmm...you know, you never did tell me what happened last night before I got home..."

Goliath ceased his ministrations upon his wife's candied hide, and bowed his head into her chest. "I told you, Annika and I merely kissed, and then we forced each other to isolate ourselves."

"Should I be mad?" Elisa drawled, hoping to incense Goliath's guilt, to better use as a weapon for her husband's will.

"No. For I have told you, on many occasions, that we were under a spell, and did not go any further than a simple kiss."

Elisa relinquished to his truthful words, if only to have him continue to press his lips and fangs against her skin. "If you say so..." As Goliath continued kissing, and when hitting a sensitive spot around the middle of her stomach, Elisa tensed and reached down farther with her hands, enough to grab upon an oddly-shaped object, smooth to the touch. Elisa lifted the band to her eyes, and inspected it's golden surface. "Annika's necklace..."

Goliath froze and groaned, letting his head fall onto Elisa's stomach.

"Oh, you big son of a bitch..." she hissed, a devilish smirk curling her lips. "So, you have a thing for blonds, huh?" jested Elisa, with Goliath peering with sheepish eyes. "First that woman at the precinct party, and now little miss thing with wings. Should I dye my hair too?"

"Elisa, please...I..."

And before Goliath could explain further, the doors to their room burst open and in came Todd, wearing a scowl that could melt steel. "So, I hear you couldn't keep the little leader in his leather house!!" he growled, having obviously heard from Annika of the previous night's encounter before he had arrived.

"Please, Mr. Hawkins, leave it be." Goliath moaned, with Elisa laughing ever harder at her husband's misfortune. "We were all under a very powerful spell."

"That doesn't justify groping my fiancé, bastard!"

"Todd, I wouldn't do this if I were you..." Elisa warned him, seeing Goliath lift off of her and approach the angered human, an attempt at peace.

"I apologize, Todd. I feel as bad as Annika most likely d..."

WHAM!!!

Todd swung at the lavender giant, forcing his fist high into the air and glancing it across Goliath's jutted chin. A crack of fragile bone against the most powerful warrior on the planet, and Goliath was momentarily stunned, with Todd screaming in pain and clenching his right fist. "DAMNIT!!! THAT FUCKING HURT!!!"

Goliath rubbed his jaw, barely having felt the blow, and seeing Todd dance around wildly, and then collapsing to the floor holding his wounded fist, and muttering obscenities thankfully muffled when biting his bottom lip. "Are you all right, Mr. Hawkins?"

"Ha ha ha ha ha...I told...heh heh, you...ha ha ha..." Elisa was left draped across her bed, laughing hysterically at both Todd's fetal form and Goliath's formed expression, that of guilt, confusion, exhaustion and annoyance mixed into a singular face. "Hee hee hee..."

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

"I feel so much better." Delilah breathed, replacing her tight-fitting tunic and adornments, with Shadow sitting silently on the bed watching his blossom pull the material into place upon her lithe curves. "Thank god that spell was cured by our stone sleep."

"Yes..." the dark warrior whispered hoarsely, his eyes nearly hidden by his lowered brow.

Delilah walked out from her closet, and noticed Shadow's forlorned expression. She slowed her pace, and eventually perched beside him. "Shadow, I'm so sorry."

He looked up in surprise, hearing her repentance. "You have nothing to be sorry about, Delilah. Nothing..."

"No, I shouldn't be angry with you wanting to spend time with a friend. I guess I was a little jealous...but all I want to know is...well, where were you last night? You said you were coming home right after..." She leaned against his arm, rubbing her warmed skin over his elbow spurs. "I needed you."

"I know, my blossom, and I...am truly sorry, for ever hurting you."

"Hurting me? What do you mean?"

Shadow swept away, grasping talons to his brow, and pacing the length of Delilah's room. "Nothing...I meant nothing by it...I left Iliana's and decided to...isolate myself on a far part of the island. I had no idea what was wrong, or if you were even affected...thus I waited until just before sunrise...hoping I would be cured."

"Oh." she whispered, sensing he was holding something back, her great powers of observation seeing the subtle twitch running down the length of his tail, and his shifting eyes, as if unable to focus directly upon her. "I wish I had your self-control...I was ready to explode...anyway, I'm just glad it's all over..." Delilah stood up, and crossed by him, placing a small hand to his shoulder. "I promised Elisa I would care for Trinity during her shift tonight...care to join me?"

"I...shall be with you shortly..." he answered sadly, passing a weakened smile to her large eyes of chocolate swirl. She left, and Shadow sighed, a stoic facade lost to grief and sheer liability, and the loss of control he so greatly fought for. "What have I done?"

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

Goliath traversed the library corridors, between the rows of books in the far section, where the light barely reached into the crevasse of devouring shadow created by the close proximity of the lined shelves. A quiet night had returned to his relief, and he hoped to bide his free time without any unexpected surprises.

"Goliath."

The lavender giant nearly toppled the closest shelf when his name had erupted from the deepest hollows. "Must you do that all the time?" he barked, directing his bellow towards the returning guardian spirit.

"My apologies, but there is a matter we must discuss of great importance." Infiniti stepped closer, curiously walking without a sound of any footfalls upon the ground. "About the child who created the chaos of the previous eve."

"I take it you are speaking of Alexander."

Infiniti nodded silently. "This spell cast last night was merely a small portion of his true power. Even I was affected, and I am blessed with sorcery beyond imagining. I could even sense his summons from half a world away."

Goliath slid his chosen book back onto the shelf, pondering a strength in magic swelling just beneath his ancestral home. "I am aware of Alexander's powers...but, now that he is growing older, I find myself...worried, as well. I have already faced the self-proclaimed lord of the fay over this child, and his insane brother, and I believe that was merely the tip of the iceberg."

"It is rare magic, a talent and power unlike any I have ever seen." Infiniti continued, the shadows swathing across her fair skin when repositioning herself. "It may be his fay lineage from queen Titania herself, his mother's and father's genes, his teacher in Puck, or even his surroundings...that have fused into this particular strength."

"Why are you telling me this?" Goliath asked, having rarely received a straight answer from beings born of magic.

"His skills must be tempered, nurtured. His life must be protected at all costs, Goliath For he is integral to the lives of your clan, your daughter, and perhaps, of this entire world." The shadows were abruptly ripped away by a beam of energy, and Goliath was blinded, and when regaining his eyesight, found he was alone once more. "...Protect him, Goliath..." echoed Infiniti's disembodied voice, as if attempting to impart to him her last words before they faded completely from existence. "...He is more important to your clan...than you could ever imagine..."

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

"I'm telling you, Vinnie, this will be solid gold..."

"...But gargoyles, Nikki?...It's too much like aliens and the sasquatch..."

"Give me a chance, put me on as an editorial for five minutes, and I swear I'll prove it to you." she pleaded, coming off as almost a whine when speaking to the television station manager.

"...The whole gargoyle thing has proved a total washout...no sightings in the past two years...nothing...it's a dead issue, Nikki..."

Nicole St. John nearly threw her phone down in disgust, seeing the rest of the journalism world having turned their backs on the entire gargoyle craze, created years ago during the hunter's moon crisis and having peaked during the Unseelie war. Yet in the aftermath, did they fade from the public eye, becoming once again merely heresay and urban legend. "One night on the air, two at the most, and I promise you, Vinnie," she confirmed with a voice of a lioness, approaching her darkroom, a crude mock-up in her apartment, and grabbed the recently developed photos of a certain red-haired detective and her dark-skinned gargoyle lover in a passionate embrace taken through the windows, "I'll show you something good..."