Discussions - Chapter 22
Disclaimer: All the characters appearing in Gargoyles are copyright Buena Vista Television/The Walt Disney Company. No infringement of these copyrights is intended as this is a not for profit fan fiction work. All original characters are the property of the author.
Warning: Violence, sexual content
Notes: This is an AU story. Dominique Destine's home, and the character's Candice and Gregory are from 'The Gargoyles Saga' world and adapted for use in this story. Michael or Nostradamus is a character from the TimeDancer Saga: The Devil's Deal by Kathy Pogge and The Gargoyles Saga: Prophets and Angels by Patrick Toman with Alison Wilgus.
Historical Notes from Wikipedia: Natzweiler-Struthof was a German concentration and extermination camp located in the Vosges Mountains close to the Alsatian village of Natzwiller in France, about 50 km south west from the city of Strasbourg. Natzweiler-Struthof was the only concentration camp established by the Nazis on French territory, though there were French-run temporary camps such as the one at Drancy. The total number of prisoners reached an estimated 52,000 over the three years originating from various countries including Poland, the Soviet Union, Netherlands, France, Germany and Norway. The camp was specially set up for 'Nacht und Nebel' prisoners, in most cases people of the resistance movements. Natzweiler-Struthof was operational between May 21, 1941 until the beginning of September 1944 when the SS evacuated the camp into Dachau; the camp was liberated on November 23, 1944.
Nacht und Nebel (German for "Night and Fog") was a directive of Adolf Hitler on December 7, 1941 signed and implemented by Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces Wilhelm Keitel, resulting in kidnapping and disappearance of many political activists and resistance 'helpers' throughout Nazi Germany's occupied territories. It was a specific punishment for opponents of the Nazis in occupied countries and intended to intimidate local populations into submission by denying families and friends of "les disparus" all knowledge of what had happened to them.
Thank you: To Alliane for letting me re-use an idea from his Demona and Darice story series.
Feedback: Always welcome, feedback is what encourages me to keep writing. Please let me know what you like and what you dislike about the story.
Revision History: 04/23/09
Saturday, January 3rd 1998
Mid-afternoon – Sharon's New Apartment, Yonkers, New York
Dominique looked around the almost bare room as she deposited the box she was carrying in a corner on top of several other boxes. Off white painted walls and non-descript beige carpet, the redhead's nose wrinkled, she hoped Sharon planned on adding some color to her bedroom. Pieces of the bed, a sleigh style oak headboard and footboard, leaned against the wall opposite the room's one window. The bed's metal rails and slats lay on the carpeted floor next to them, while the queen-sized mattress rested on its side against another wall next to the dresser. After clearing the living room of all the boxes that didn't belong there, putting the bed together would be her and Kendra's next task.
"I still can't believe that Jon didn't believe the Wise One. How could you not believe her?" Dominique heard Sharon say, disbelief and anger clear in her tone. The redhead suspected the young Horse's chosen was talking to Kendra or Rachael as they moved the pile of boxes stacked in the middle of the living room to whatever room was their final destination. They had piled them there so they could empty the moving van as quickly as possible and send the men from the moving company away.
Unfortunately, Margaret was not here to help Sharon move in, the Bison's chosen had left yesterday morning to start another contract, having stayed much longer than she had originally planned. Dominique knew she would miss the tall woman and her wry sense of humor even though they had both promised to keep up their correspondence by email and telephone. She knew it wouldn't be quite the same though. At least Margaret had promised that she would make the effort to visit sometime in the summer when she could attend some of the events in Central Park with them. Of course, no sooner had they lost one chosen than they gained another one, yesterday afternoon Sharon had driven in following behind the horse van transporting her Appaloosa mare from Arizona. Dominique still wasn't certain she wasn't being irresponsible and selfish in letting the young woman come work for her, but Sharon had insisted that she knew what she was getting into and wanted to come work with her at Nightstone even with the threat of Quarrymen and Weird Sisters attacking hanging over them. Rachael would be staying with them another two weeks to help get Robert settled in, then she had to return home as well, needing to get back to her tribe and her duties as a teacher.
"You can't force someone to believe something they don't want to believe," Rachael answered calmly.
Dominique's head bowed, she closed her eyes and sighed unhappily, Jon's refusal to accept the spirits message weighed heavily on her. She had hoped, for both Jon and Kendra's sake that the spirits would be able to get through to him and he would stop, but the Wise One had said that he had been very determined in his refusal to even consider that what she was showing him was the truth. If only she hadn't…Dominique shook her head, both Kendra and the Ancient One had been rather adamant that she not put so much blame on herself for Jon's decisions and actions. That the Weird Sisters enchantments on and manipulation of both herself and the Canmore family were much more responsible for that night at the cathedral and what had happened to the three Canmore siblings there than she was responsible for it.
Intellectually she knew that they were right, given what she had found out about her own subconscious choices she doubted she would have even been at the cathedral with the fake plague if it weren't for the Weird Sister's enchantment on her. It was harder however, for her heart to accept it, not after having seen the grim acceptance on Kendra's features early this morning when the spirits had met with them. Her mate was afraid that Jon would do something that would force her to kill him, and Dominique was very concerned that Kendra might be right and what it would do to her mate if she were forced to kill her own cousin. At least the news had been more promising for Jason and especially for Robyn. The Ancient One was certain that Jason had believed, and the Wolf spirit had been very certain that Robyn had accepted what she had seen as the truth and would give up the hunt.
"At least his Quarrymen haven't tried to do anything since I left," Sharon continued, sounding now as if she were in the room next door, "So I guess it really wasn't a planned attack after all."
"No, it doesn't seem to have been," Rachael replied. "Unfortunately for Jon, no one paid attention to his efforts to distance the Quarrymen from it. Between the attempted murder of Dominique and Kendra, the anti-aircraft weapons in the city two weeks ago, and the attack on the PIT meeting a few months ago the Quarrymen aren't looking much like the noble organization dedicated to protecting the innocent humans of the city from the gargoyle menace that they originally claimed to be at all."
"So are they losing members?" Sharon sounded hopeful.
"Yes," Dominique responded, stepping out into the hallway and taking a few steps down it to look into the next doorway. This room would be Sharon's library and work room. The two women were standing next to some boxes pushed up against one wall and looking her way curiously. "They have lost a few members," it hadn't been hard to sneak in a few people into the Quarrymen's meetings to keep an eye on what they were doing. The redhead grimaced, "Unfortunately, the ones that remain seem to be the more militant ones."
"Not particularly surprising," Rachael commented, "the ones that left were probably the ones that joined because they actually believed Castaway's lies that they were banding together to protect themselves and their families from marauding gargoyles. When the Quarrymen started assaulting people and firing military weapons off in the middle of town they probably realized that they were not in the type of organization they originally thought they were joining and quietly left."
Sharon frowned, "So does that mean that the ones that are left are more likely to try and attack you and Kendra again?" she asked worriedly.
The redhead leaned against the doorway, letting her shoulder support some of her weight and gave the younger woman a reassuring look, "That's why I have undercover investigators inside their organization keeping an eye on what they're doing and saying," she revealed.
"You have spies?" Sharon stared at the Ancient One's chosen wide eyed, her tone a cross between intrigue and disbelief.
Dominique chuckled, amused at the younger woman's choice of words and her expression, "Well, more accurately, I should say I contracted with a company to provide the properly trained personnel for me."
Sharon stared at her incredulously, "There are companies that hire out spies? Where did you find them?"
"Mr. Mayer recommended them to me actually," a crooked smile curved the redhead's lips, "it's run by his older sister." That had been an interesting conversation with the human male. The tips of his ears had turned slightly red as she stared at him in surprise after he responded to what had been an offhand statement that it would be useful if they had some eyes and ears inside the Quarrymen organization. She certainly hadn't expected an answer, and definitely not the one he had given her. That hadn't stopped her however from contacting Mrs. Levia D. Roth and arranging a meeting with her to work out the details of a contract for her company's services to keep an eye on what the Quarrymen were planning.
"The Mayer family seems to possess an interesting range of skills," Rachael commented dryly, "His older sister and her husband run an investigative service company and Azarel, who I believe mentioned he was the youngest of six, runs a protective service company. I'm starting to get rather interested in finding out more about his family history." The Wise One's chosen asked Dominique, "Did you ever ask him about the gargoyle he said saved his mother and father?"
Dominique frowned, "No, I didn't want to seem too interested."
"What's this?" asked Sharon, staring at the two of them in intent curiosity.
Dominique glanced at her in surprise for a moment before realizing that the younger woman hadn't been around any of the times they had discussed the subject. "When we first set up the contract, Azarel told me one of the reasons he decided to take it was because I was supporting PIT. His parents were saved by a gargoyle when they were children, but I don't know what the circumstances were or anything about the gargoyle that saved them."
"I don't think it would really be too odd for a PIT supporter to ask him about his families experience with gargoyles," Rachael pointed out.
The redhead's eyebrow rose slightly as she considered it, "No probably not I guess. Perhaps I'll see if I can't work it into a conversation with him then next time I see him."
"Hey," Kendra came up next to Dominique and wrapped an arm around her waist, "We're discussing Azarel's family and the gargoyle he mentioned? I've been curious about that now that things have quieted down some. His answer might point towards the location of a clan that could use some help."
Dominique straightened, she hadn't considered that possibility, "I'll ask him the next time I see him." Becoming a true protector of the remaining gargoyles in the world was the second of the two tasks the Ancient One had asked of her. She had claimed so loudly to be just doing that over the past nine centuries in her private war with the humans, only to realize that it had all been a lie. At most, she had stopped leading the hunters to other gargoyles when she stopped seeking out others of her kind. Now that she was supposed to do what she had claimed but had never succeeded in doing, she wasn't quite certain exactly how she was supposed to manage it.
She supposed that her aid to Goliath's clan technically counted towards fulfilling her task, but she was doing that more for her daughter than because of her promise. Neither freeing Lexington and Brooklyn nor preventing Goliath from killing Egon Pax had made her feel as if she were fulfilling her promise, and she definitely didn't feel as if she had done anything that compared to the things she had done toward fulfilling her vow to be a wise steward and protector of Nightstone. Perhaps Azarel's family could give her the clue she needed to find a clan that truly needed her aid.
Monday, January 5th 1998
Evening – Between Nightstone Unlimited HQ in Manhattan and Destine Manor, Forest Hills Gardens, Long Island
Dominique leaned back into the thick cushions of the limousine's seats, looking up from the reports in her lap to glance out the window at the crawling traffic. It had been a very productive and very long Monday and she hadn't left Nightstone until almost six in the evening. It was dark outside and the traffic was very heavy; it would probably take Gregory another thirty minutes or so to reach her home. She would have ridden back with Kendra instead of making Gregory wait until she was ready to leave, but Kendra had needed to go over to her condominium and change her service arrangements now that Margaret was no longer using it.
The redhead stared at the red and amber colored taillights of the slow moving cars in the other lanes, letting her mind drift back to the beginning of the day. At eight o'clock this morning, they had all been sitting in the Family Court courtroom waiting to hear Judge Taylor's decision on Robert's petition. The human woman had granted it, Robert was now an emancipated minor, legally entitled to make his own decisions about his future. As far as the Trust Fund was concerned, the preliminary accounting report was still not completed, but there had been enough evidence of misappropriation and mismanagement of the Trust's funds for the judge to remove control of it from Robert's aunt and uncle. Judge Taylor had assigned management of it over to Robert's lawyers until she made her final decision on whether they would remain in control of it until Robert's 21st birthday, when his parents had intended him to take control over it, or if he would take control of it immediately.
Of Robert's family, only his Aunt had shown up at the courthouse this morning. Nancy Collins had gotten over some of her shock and had recovered enough to stare at them disapprovingly, especially at Kendra and her. It had angered Dominique, this woman who had stood by and let her husband steal from her sister's son and tell the young man he was worthless because of his injury, daring to think she was worthy of judging them because they loved one another. Fortunately, the woman had enough sense to limit herself to condemnatory looks and didn't actually say anything to either of them.
After their meeting with the Judge was finished, his aunt had stopped Robert in the hallway outside the courtroom, ignoring everyone else to ask how he was doing. Robert had told her about putting in his application to MIT, and playing chess with Professor McDuff. Dominique wasn't surprised that he didn't mention all the gifts he had received for Christmas; it wasn't in the young man's nature to be unkind. The conversation between aunt and nephew had been short and awkward, Robert noticeably uncomfortable with the way she was ignoring everyone else with him. To Dominique's surprise, the uptight woman had managed a terse, "Thank you for taking care of Robert," to her before leaving. By that point, the redhead had expected the woman to walk off without saying anything to anyone.
Outside the court building, their group had split. Gregory taking Sharon, Robert and Rachael in the limousine van to the boarding stable so that they could see Sharon's horse, Bree, while she and Kendra drove to Nightstone in Kendra's Jaguar.
This afternoon she had met with David Xanatos and signed the final paperwork to form their new joint subsidiary, Aegis Armor Manufacturing. She had been very pleased with the results of the negotiations between her company and Xanatos', each would be providing equal startup funds and key management and scientific personnel to the new company. After all the paperwork was completed, she had waved the lawyers out of her office and asked Xanatos what he thought of creating some lightweight body armor specifically for the clan to use.
Xanatos had initially looked surprised, and then he had narrowed his eyes and grown thoughtful. "It would have to be very flexible and lightweight, more flexible and lightweight than the body armor we are currently planning on making. I'm not sure if we can do it and still make it protective enough to make it worth wearing," he had finally replied.
Dominique remembered she had smirked then, provoking Xanatos into eyeing her distrustfully as she picked up a folder from her desk and handed it to him. His suspiciousness had amused her even more and her smirk had grown wider. He had stared at her warily for a moment longer before opening it and reading the paper on top. It was a research progress report by one of her scientists who would be moving over to the new company, detailing how the nano-manufacturing techniques developed at Nightstone could be applied to the manufacturing of ceramic armor plates. The new technique modified the structure of the ceramic so that it was lighter and thinner than the current ceramic, but when formed into armor plates and fired still had the same impact absorbency rating.
"He needs a few more weeks to finish his research. I believe it will be best if the new company applies for the patent," she had stated, leaning back in her chair and feeling triumphant as he looked up at her, his surprise apparent for just a few seconds before his customary control returned. It wasn't often that she managed to shock Xanatos enough for him to show it. She was starting to understand why Kendra did this so often, it was amusing watching people mentally scramble to keep up with her, especially when they were so convinced they knew her. Perhaps they had known the old her, Dominique had acknowledged to herself with an inward twinge, but they didn't necessarily know the new her and she intended to keep reminding certain people of that fact.
Xanatos had only stared at her for a few more seconds before returning his attention to the report in his hands, "It will be good for the new company to have a major patent to its name so early," he commented when he finally looked up from the report. "Investors will be wondering when or if we will go public with the stock."
"As I said before, I'll think about it," Dominique had replied firmly after a long silent moment, it wasn't the first time they had discussed this. She didn't like the idea of letting the stock go public and possibly losing control of the company and Xanatos wanted the influx of cash into the fledgling business. She understood his point but she had plans for this company, and investors interested only in increasing the worth of their stock holdings and dividends could ruin them.
"We'll need to make some changes and additions to the manufacturing equipment we're purchasing to take advantage of this, but that shouldn't be that difficult," he said, letting the subject of going public with stock offerings drop. "As for body armor for the clan, this might make the difference. I'd have to see the actual tests on the material before deciding. What researchers claim is one thing," Xanatos had remarked, "sometimes reality turns out to be rather different."
Dominique dipped her head, "True," she had replied, sometimes these reports were…overly optimistic. "I suspect though that his estimates won't be far off, Mr. Pierre, my Research and Development Division Manager, went over those figures himself and approved them. He's not in the habit of signing off on reports that he doesn't feel are accurate."
Xanatos' eyebrows rose ever so slightly, "I wasn't aware that you thought so highly of your employees," there had been the slightest edge of sarcasms in his tone.
Dominique's green eyes had immediately narrowed in anger, and then something…the look in his eyes or perhaps the expression on his face had made her certain that he was baiting her. Instead of snapping out an angry reply, she had stared at him intently for a long moment. "I value all of my employees Xanatos. Mr. Pierre has more than proved his worth to me over the years, if he hadn't he wouldn't hold the position of Division Manager," she had finally replied, her voice cool with her displeasure.
The dim light coming in through the limousine's windows became darker, distracting Dominique from her memories of the earlier meeting. The redhead refocused on the scenery outside, the limousine was finally entering the tunnel. With any luck, traffic would clear up on the other side and they would be home in fifteen or twenty minutes.
She still wasn't certain what Xanatos had been up to with that baiting comment. He hadn't replied to her defense of her employee, instead abruptly changing the subject and remarking that he thought it might be possible to make the clan armor if the new ceramics did perform as well as her researcher estimated.
Dominique shifted irritably against the leather of the seat back behind her. She didn't really care why Xanatos had behaved the way he had, it wasn't particularly important to her. At least it wasn't anymore, not after the news she had received just before she had left work. She had almost not picked up the phone when it rang, but then she had looked at the caller ID. There was only one person in the FBI who knew her direct phone number instead of her receptionist's number. The caller had been who she had hoped it was, Wayne calling her to let her know that the FBI had just issued a warrant for Alexander Thailog's arrest in connection to his embezzlement of funds from Nightstone. The FBI had also frozen all of his bank accounts and were monitoring them for any attempt to access them. Dominique smirked, Thailog couldn't of course, he couldn't do anything right now the clone virus had seen to that, but it should mean that in a few months the courts wouldn't have any issues issuing his death certificate and declaring him dead.
Impatiently, the redhead stared out the window, they were exiting from the tunnel, she couldn't wait to get home and tell Kendra about her conversation with Wayne. Her mate had left Nightstone to meet with her condominium's service manager about thirty minutes before his phone call. Most likely, given how long her conversation with the Wolf's chosen had lasted, Kendra was already home.
Evening - Destine Manor, Forest Hills Gardens, Long Island
"Since Thailog's locked in stone sleep, there won't be any activity in those accounts they're watching," was Kendra's first comment after Dominique finished retelling the conversation she had with Wayne.
"Which should help our case and speed up the process of having Alexander Thailog declared deceased by the court," the redhead woman responded. It was something she dearly wanted, to have his name erased as one of Nightstone's owners, to put that part of her past even further behind her. Dominique's green eyes clouded, it still hurt thinking of how he had manipulated her, and how he had hurt her, and how she had let him because she didn't want to be so alone anymore. Anger and shame rose, and her jaw clenched.
Kendra took a step towards the redheaded woman, her hands reaching out to rest on either side of Dominique's waist. The black haired woman gently pulled the redhead toward her, "I don't know what he did to you, but he's lucky he's locked in stone or I'd pay him a visit," Kendra growled. Her voice was soft, but underlying it was a hint of steely anger.
Her mate didn't elaborate on what exactly she would do to Thailog, but Dominique suspected it wouldn't be very pleasant for the misbegotten male. She leaned against Kendra's warm body, burying her face into the silky material of her mate's white shirt and breathing in the black haired woman's distinctive spicy, musky scent. Strong arms wrapped around the redhead pulling her tighter against Kendra's body and she felt her mate's soft lips press against her hair at her temple. It didn't really surprise her that Kendra had guessed that Thailog had been less than the perfect mate and lover, she suspected she had given Kendra several hints as to the true nature of the relationship over the past month or so. Dominique turned her head and pressed her lips against the smooth dusky skin of Kendra's neck, "I love you," she whispered.
"I love you too," Kendra's hand stroked along the side of her face, fingers pushed into her red hair and combed through it. Dominique closed her eyes at the feel of her mate's fingers dragging gently through her hair and against her scalp. The tender loving gesture soothed her, driving away the bitter memories of the past. She closed her eyes with a sigh, allowing her body to relax into Kendra's.
The sound of the doorbell interrupted the moment. Dominique lifted her head from Kendra's shoulder wondering who was at the door. Rachael and Robert were at Macbeth's castle, Monday nights having quickly become her former king's and her ward's regular chess night, so neither one of them was here to answer the door. Kendra frowned, "Who could that be?" The garage doors were lowered and locked, the fence gate was locked, and the fence itself was six foot high. Unexpected visitors did not walk up to Dominique's home and ring the doorbell. "Perhaps it's one of the security guards?"
"Most likely, they wouldn't let anyone onto the property without notifying us first," the redhead responded, "Shall we go down and find out?"
"Ms. Destine, Ms. Canmore," Azarel Mayer greeted them as Kendra opened the front door. The dark haired, broad-shouldered man was nicely dressed, as was usual for him whenever he met with her, in slacks, coat and a red and grey striped tie. His tone when speaking to her was always respectful, tonight though it seemed even more so than usual she noticed with interest.
"Mr. Mayer I wasn't aware you were on duty tonight," the redheaded woman replied. Azarel usually called and arranged for a mutually convenient time to meet with her when he needed to speak with her. This was the first time he had not done so, and she had to wonder why.
"I'm not," he responded, his dark eyes fixed on her, "I wanted to tell you a bit more about the female gargoyle that saved my parents."
He stopped speaking after that comment, looking at her with an intensity that demanded Dominique's full attention. She could feel Kendra stiffening beside her as the black haired woman noticed his manner as well. Questions ran swiftly though Dominique's mind, did he suspect she was actually a gargoyle, and if he did suspect, did he think that she knew the gargoyle that had saved his parents? She stared at him, her green eyes narrowed as she wavered between curiosity and caution. After a moment she replied carefully, "Why don't you come in?" She had to know why he thought she knew something about the gargoyle that saved his parents, and what he knew about her. The only way to do that was to let him talk about what he had come to tell her.
Azarel began as soon as they were all seated in the living room, him in one of the chairs and she and Kendra on the couch opposite him with the coffee table separating them. "My father, Elisha Mayer, was born in Buhl, a small German town near the French border in the Black Forest in 1930, and my mother, Ruth Levi, was born in Stralsund a town just a few miles southwest of Buhl in 1932. You probably guessed from the name of my company that I'm Jewish, but I don't think I've told you yet that my family is Jewish on both sides." Dominique's green eyes widened, that had not been a good time to be Jewish, especially in Germany or any of the countries surrounding it.
"Unfortunately both families were too poor to flee and they believed the violence and persecution would pass them by," Azarel continued, his expression darkening. "After all, they lived in small towns not large one's where the demonstrations and attacks against the Jews were taking place, like Berlin. They thought they were safe after nothing happened to them in the months following the Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass, in 1939. Then in 1941, Hitler decreed that Germany was to be cleaned of all Jews. Both families were," Azarel paused his expression becoming even bleaker than it had been, "relocated to work camps, the Mayer's in March of '42 and the Levi's in June of '42."
Dominique's insides twisted and she fought back a snarl of anger. She knew full well what work camps were, places where the Nazi's had forced Jews and anyone else they had defined as sub-humans, as well as those who disagreed with their ideas of Aryan superiority and world domination, to work until they dropped dead of starvation, disease and exhaustion. She had spent most of the war in Switzerland, but as soon as the Allies had freed Paris, she had decided to make her way there. During the journey, she had spotted one of the camps and gotten close enough to see the starved stick-like figures of the prisoners and smelt the sickening burnt meat smell of the smoke coming out of the huge crematoriums. A few minutes later gunfire from one of the camp watchtowers had forced her to flee when one of the guards had spotted her.
"They were sent first to Auschwitz," Azarel continued, "there my grandfathers, Jebediah Mayer and Joshua Levi, were separated from their wives and children. They were never reunited." He paused to take a breath and visibly control his emotions before continuing, "Later, in the spring of 1943, my grandmother's and their children, my parents, were transferred to Natzweiler, a concentration camp in southwest France near the German border. A month later, they were moved to one of the main camp's annexes. It was just inside the German border within the Black Forest and was only fifty or so miles south of where they had been born and raised before the Nazi madness swept through the country."
"My grandmother's, Anaya and Levia died early in 1944 during an outbreak of cholera among the prisoners, leaving Elisha and Ruth alone. They were fourteen and twelve years old at the time." He paused briefly in his narrative, his dark eyes turbulent with his emotions. "As you probably already know from all the books and films about them," he continued after a moment, "life in the camps was difficult. In addition to the brutality of the camp guards, there was too little food, too hard work and during the winter too few clothes. The winter following my grandmother's death, my father came down with a cold along with several other prisoners. The cold went into his chest, causing him to cough. One night, the camp guards, claiming that they were tired of the sound of Jews coughing all day and night, took my father and some of the sicker men out into the woods and ordered them to begin digging their own graves. The camp guards were laughing and taunting my father and the other ill prisoners while they tried to dig in the frozen ground with the spades the guards had given them when my father saw something watching him from the woods." Azarel stopped speaking staring expectantly at the redheaded woman.
If she hadn't been certain before Dominique was certain now, Azarel knew she was a gargoyle and for some reason he believed she was the gargoyle who had saved his parents. However, she remembered nothing of this, nothing of stopping during her journey across Germany and France and seeing any Jewish prisoners digging anything at night anywhere. The year and season were right, but nothing else sounded familiar at all. Azarel's expectant expression faded into confusion as he stared at her waiting for her response, but she had none to give him, he had to be talking about another gargoyle. Or… Dominique sighed unhappily, feeling both angry and distressed by what she was thinking, or she didn't remember this, just as she hadn't remembered her relationship with Luach or what had actually happened that night when she betrayed Macbeth.
Out of the corner of her eye, Dominique saw Kendra glance over at her. The black haired woman slid sideways, closing the space they had left between them on the couch. Their bodies touched from shoulder to thigh, and then Kendra's arm settled warmly around her shoulders. "Continue please, what happened next?" Kendra requested her tone confident and calm. Dominique leaned into her mate's side, grateful for the comfort and solid strength of her body, and the support she was so freely giving. She knew Kendra had to be suspicious that the Weird Sisters had played a part in this tale, and that their part had been to block her memories of this.
Azarel's gaze went back and forth between them, his brow still creased as he frowned in confusion at their reaction to his statement, and then he nodded, "There was thick brush separating them, so my father couldn't see much, but he could tell that what he was seeing wasn't human. She had blue skin, and fiery red hair, a gold crown like band above her eyes…" he fell silent at Dominique's sharply indrawn breath.
Dominique knew that the chances of two gargoyles that looked alike, and wore the same type of gold band that she used to cover her eye ridges and keep her hair out of her eyes, were astronomical. The gargoyle that had saved Azarel's parents had been her, and she didn't remember anything about it. Kendra's arm around her shoulders tightened for a few seconds in a one armed hug. "Did the gargoyle that saved your parents ever give them a name?" Kendra asked him.
"Demona," Azarel responded to her, but his gaze was fixed on the redheaded woman next to her.
Dominique closed her eyes, shutting him out for a few seconds while she regained her composure. She was really getting tired of finding new evidence of the Weird Sister's interference in her life. "Did you suspect Castaway's accusations were true when you accepted the contract to guard me?" she asked as she opened her eyes and focused on him once again. Dominique was careful about her phrasing, she wasn't going to confirm or deny her true identity to the human male sitting across from them in her living room chair just yet.
"We suspected, but we weren't entirely certain," Azarel confirmed quietly. "My father and mother said that you looked and sounded just like her, except for the fact that you appeared to be human during the day. Something they knew you hadn't done fifty years ago."
The lengths he had taken to provide her security while short staffed, even taking shifts himself, suddenly made more sense to her. So did his agreeing to take on the contract the very night Gregory had contacted him after the Quarrymen attack. "Was that why the price you quoted me was so reasonable?"
"You saved my parents; you saved the other Jews and political dissidents at the camp where they were prisoners of the Nazi's," Dominique was taken aback by how intense Azarel had suddenly become, his face, his tone, the very posture of his body and the look in his eyes was passionately sincere. "You led my mother and father out of hell itself, you protected them and cared for them while leading them and the other freed prisoners to the safety of the American lines. You are a hero to my family and the others who survived because of you, if I didn't have to pay my employees salaries and insurance I would have charged you nothing."
Hero…Dominique stared at him in shocked disbelief. The sincerity in his eyes left her with no doubt that he believed he was telling her the truth. She was the one having problems reconciling the gargoyle she knew she had been up until two months ago with the gargoyle he was telling her she had been fifty years ago. She remembered very clearly that she had hated humans just as much then as before she met Kendra and learned the truth of her past.
"I'm no hero," Dominique denied, her voice taking on a ragged edge as conflicting emotions swirled inside her.
"So you are Demona," he ignored her denial in favor of the unintended revelation her statement had betrayed.
She stared at him, trying to weigh the risks of admitting the truth to him. "Your parent's belief that I look like this gargoyle aside, why are you so certain that I am?" She decided to delay answering his question by asking one of her own.
He cocked his head to the side and stared at her. "I saw two gargoyles leaving from the second story balcony of your home a few nights ago," he replied after a moment, "one of them looked exactly like the gargoyle my parents described to me, and she looked a lot like you."
Kendra spoke up before Dominique could, "You were in the backyard," her comment was a statement not a question.
Azarel looked uncomfortable, "I or one of my brother's are the only ones that go back there at night to make sure everything's secure. It's a big security gap."
Dominique frowned, she had told him specifically not to patrol in her yard especially at night. He had protested vigorously for just this reason. It was a security gap, one that he and his family had, against her direct orders, taken upon themselves to secure to preserve her secret. She stared at him for a moment longer before turning to look at her mate. Kendra met her gaze and nodded. Dominique took in a breath and turned to face Azarel once again, "I am Demona, but I have no memories of your parent's or anything you've talked about," from the surprised look on his face, that was obviously not the answer he had expected. "Something happened to me that caused me to have gaps in my memory," she continued, being deliberately vague. She didn't want to get into explaining magic and the existence of a powerful third race to this human.
He stared at her puzzled, "An injury?" he finally asked.
Dominique laughed bitterly, "You could say that." As his eyes widened at her tone, the redheaded woman cursed herself for letting her anger get the better of her. Before he could ask any of the questions she knew had just risen in his mind, Dominique held up a forestalling hand. "I don't want to talk about what happened to me, I just…" she sighed, still irritated with herself for her betraying flare of temper, "wanted you to know that I do not remember saving your parent's or anyone else."
Azarel settled back in his chair, his expression showing his dismay as he contemplated what she had told him. Finally, his eyes refocused on her, "There is no hope of you regaining your memory?"
Dominique's initial impulse was to reply with a definite no, but then she hesitated, remembering how the Ancient One had reconnected the pathways in her memories to allow her to recall her memories of Luach. If the Weird Sisters had done the same with her memories of Azarel's parents' as they had with her memories of Macbeth's son, and the memories were still present in her mind only currently unreachable, then perhaps the great stag spirit could help her as he had before. "I don't know, perhaps there may be a way," she commented. "I'll have to consult with," she hesitated for a moment, she could hardly say Ancient One or spirit, "a friend of mine about the possibility."
Out of the corner of her eye she saw Kendra turn her head to look at her, then the black haired woman nodded, "That is a good thought, he might be able to help."
"A doctor?" Azarel inquired with a quick glance back and forth at the two of them.
Dominique smiled, "No, though he probably knows more about the human body than most doctors."
A puzzled expression flitted across the dark haired man's face before he nodded his acceptance of her words. His expression shifted to one of unease and, as she stared at him curiously, he shifted in his chair and then clasped his thick, square-palmed hands together in front of him. Azarel cleared his throat, "There is something else. My parents want to meet with you, though none of us had anticipated…" his clasped hands opened, gestured his lack of preparedness for her lost memory.
Dominique stared, uncertain how she felt about that, especially as she couldn't remember them. She offered quietly, "I'll let you know, I want to talk with the friend I mentioned first."
Azarel nodded looking relieved, "I'll let them know Ms. Destine, just contact me when you wish to meet with them."
The redhead hesitated for a moment before assuring him, "I will." Dominique wasn't sure when that would be, but no matter what the Ancient One's answer she was feeling more and more certain that she should meet these people. If the spirit couldn't help her regain her memories, then they could at least fill in this piece of her past. She did want to know what had happened, no matter how uncomfortable it made her to think that she had done something like what he claimed and didn't remember it.
He straightened in his chair, "Well if there's nothing else, I should leave you to the rest of your evening."
"Wait," Kendra said before he could stand, "What happened after your father noticed Demona watching them?"
Azarel's gaze shifted from Dominique to the black haired woman, "They stared at one another until one of the guards noticed that he was not working and started yelling and prodding him with his weapon, threatening to shot him right then," he replied settling back in his seat. "My father started digging again and didn't look back at where he had seen you, he didn't want the Nazi guards to notice you," Azarel looked back over at Dominique. His attention unsettled her; she still didn't remember any of this. "The guard kept harassing him, calling him names and poking him with his weapon. Then you attacked from the trees, the camp guards were caught by surprise. There were five of them and you killed all of them in very little time, my father's very certain that it took you less than a minute."
His description of the events still wasn't evoking any memory of what he was talking about at all, and every time he looked at her and said 'you', Dominique felt more and more disconcerted. At least the part where she killed all the guards sounded like her.
"You took one of the weapons for yourself," Azarel continued his story, "and then told the other prisoner's to arm themselves with the guards' weapons. After cutting the telephone lines out of the camp so that they could not call for help, you took out the guards in the two nearest guard towers and then you led my father and the other freed prisoners' in an attack on the camp." His dark eyes were fixed upon her unwaveringly, "There were a perhaps forty French resistance prisoners in the camp who took the opportunity to attack the guards as well. While they and the prisoner's outside kept the guards busy, you destroyed the camp's generator and then helped them kill the rest of the camp guards."
Dominique stared at him incredulously; his story sounded so unbelievable to her that she was starting to think that this was some type of twisted joke on his part, only the dark haired, dark eyed human male appeared entirely serious. More disconcerting was the awed, respectful look in his eyes as he regarded her. She didn't want to classify it as hero worship, she didn't want to even think that word, much less use it in reference to past actions she couldn't remember.
He took in a breath, released it in a loud exhale, his expression hardening, "Almost a quarter of the prisoners died during the attack, most of them from a few of the guards going into the prisoner barracks and killing everyone they could, probably thinking that an allied scouting patrol had found the camp and was about to free it." His expression softened, the hero worship returning, wiping out the anger that had just been there. "The survivors you lead across country to the American lines. They were almost there when a Nazi patrol spotted them; you told them to keep heading toward the Americans while you lead the Nazi's away." Dominique thought he was done then but after a moment he added, "That was the last time any one of them saw you until Castaway's accusation and my parents realized how much you looked and sounded like the gargoyle that had saved them."
Her tone quiet and serious, Kendra inquired, "How many were saved?"
"One hundred and ninety men and boys and sixty-two women and girls," he answered but his gaze was fixed upon the redheaded woman sitting next to her.
That was almost two hundred and fifty humans, Dominique thought to herself faintly. It was a much larger number than she had imagined and more than a little overwhelming. She had dealt with her past in part by putting it behind her, telling herself that now that she was free of the Weird Sisters' spells she could begin again, recreate herself. There had been little, besides her memories of Macbeth, Gruoch, Luach and Michael that she really wanted to remember. Certainly, nothing worth remembering in the past few hundred years since Michael's death…at least that was what she had believed before tonight and Azarel's tale.
Night - Destine Manor, Forest Hills Gardens, Long Island
"Don't!" Dominique hadn't meant to say it so loud or so angrily, she just couldn't take Kendra looking at her the same way Azarel had looked at her. He had left only ten or fifteen minutes ago, and she was still trying to sort out her emotional reactions to his story. That she was finding it very difficult to accept was the only thing about which she was certain.
The black haired woman's face showed her surprise, hurt and confusion, "Don't what?"
Dominique clenched her fists, looking away from her mate's distressed expression, "Don't look at me as if I'm something I'm not," she whispered. "I don't know why I did that, but I hated humans then just as much as I did before you met me. It makes no sense," she added talking more to herself now than to Kendra. One would think one would at least know who you were, good or bad, and why one would have done something whether or not one remembered it or not…but that was the thing. She really had no idea why she would have stopped to help Azarel's father or why she had cared enough to kill the Nazi's threatening him and the other sick prisoners. She certainly had no idea why she had gone even farther and led the prisoners she had freed into a successful attempt at freeing the entire camp and then guided all those humans across France to the Americans.
"Oh, Demona," Kendra's voice was soft, gentle; the redhead looked back at her. Confusion and hurt had been replaced by sympathy and understanding. "I'm certain you had your reasons for doing that and if you could remember you would understand why you chose to help them." Kendra reached out and placed her hand on her shoulder and then the black haired woman took a step forward pulling Dominique into her arms.
Her mate's body was warm and solid, the arms wrapped around her reassuring in their promise of love and support. "I'm sorry," disconcertingly the redhead's voice wavered, she felt close to tears, she wrapped her arms around Kendra and held on tightly. "I shouldn't have yelled at you." Why she had snapped at the one person she knew she could count on to be there for her, Dominique didn't know; she just knew that Kendra was also the one person she didn't want taken in by all this. She wasn't a hero.
Warm lips pressed against the skin of her temple, "Why is this so hard for you to accept my love?" Kendra whispered. "You've been so harsh on yourself because of what the Weird Sister's spells made you do and about your part the night Jon shot Jason and went around the bend and then decided to stay there. I would think that finding out you did something really good would be welcome." Dominique stiffened; her mate's words were entirely too close to what was bothering her. This was one time she didn't appreciate Kendra's gift for discerning the truth of her motivations. When the redhead didn't reply, Kendra continued quietly after a few seconds, "Or is that part of the problem? You've grown so used to thinking that you only did bad things before meeting the spirit and me that you can't accept that you might have done a few good things as well, and at least one very good one."
Dominique sighed, "I don't feel like discussing this right now," she wasn't in the mood to be reasonable and logical.
Kendra didn't immediately reply, instead the arms around the redhead tightened and another kiss was pressed against her temple. Finally, her mate asked, "Did you want to go talk to the Ancient One tonight?"
Dominique didn't hesitate in replying, "Yes." It was the one thing she did know she wanted to do, and as soon as possible. Kendra's arms around her loosened, allowing her to pull back, look up into her mate's face. Kendra's eyes were not their usual sapphire color. Instead they were darker, taking on almost a grey cast and clearly expressing the black haired woman's troubled concern. Dominique wanted to say something to ease that expression, to lighten her mate's eyes back to their usual brilliant sapphire blue, but she wasn't certain why she was reacting this way, so how could she possibly explain it to Kendra?
The sound of voices from downstairs was an almost welcome distraction; Rachael and Robert were back from MacBeth's. "I don't want to tell them, not until… not until I understand why," Dominique's terse whisper held an undercurrent of pleading and the redhead flushed in embarrassment as soon as she realized it.
Kendra's hands shifted from her back to cup her shoulders and squeezed reassuringly as her mate responded softly, "Alright." The black haired woman leaned forward and brushed her lips across her brow. "Why don't you go to our room and speak to him while I go down and make your excuses for going to bed early."
Dominique leaned forward and nestled her head into the hollow of Kendra's shoulder, rested her hands on Kendra's waist. "Thank you," she whispered as her mate's arms wrapped around her once again. One of Kendra's hands slid up her back to her neck and the redhead groaned in pleasure as strong fingers started massaging the tense muscles there.
"Hey, that's one of the benefits of being your mate; I get to take care of you," Kendra's tone was light, even playful, but underneath the playfulness Dominique heard her seriousness and determination.
The redhead's arms went around Kendra's waist and back, and squeezed her fiercely, eliciting a surprised sounding exhale of breath. "I love you so much," she declared, lifting her head to stare into her love's face.
The hand at the nape of her neck slid into her hair as Kendra's lips descended toward her own. "And I love you," the black haired woman paused long enough to respond, her blue eyes staring intently into Dominique's green ones, before completing what she had begun. Dominique relaxed into the kiss, letting Kendra's hand cupping the back of her head, and the arm around her back support part of her weight as she held onto the other woman's solidly muscled shoulders.
It was far too short a time when Kendra slowly pulled back and broke the kiss. The black haired woman rested her forehead against Dominique's briefly before whispering, "I should go downstairs." With a resigned sigh Dominique nodded, she would have rather the kiss continued, but Kendra was right.
"Chosen," it didn't come as a surprise to Demona that the great stag was waiting patiently for her. Though having him in her bedroom, even the shadowy spirit realm reflection of it, was more than a little odd.
The fiery redheaded gargoyle looked up at where the tines of his antlers disappeared into the ceiling, "Perhaps we should move to the yard," she offered, sliding off the bed and looking back briefly at her resting body to make sure that all was well. When she looked back, the Irish Elk sprit was already stepping through the bedroom wall. Demona shook her head and followed him. She stepped through the outer wall into thin air and then willed herself to sink to the shadowy reflection of the ground below, where the Ancient One was waiting for her.
She met his great dark eyes and moved closer, she wasn't even going to try and verbally explain why she had needed to talk to him tonight. She rested her taloned hands on his muzzle and met his gaze, falling into his eyes as she relived the night from the moment when she had opened her door and saw Azarel standing on her front porch. When she came back to herself, she got the impression that for the first time she had managed to surprise him.
The great stag stared at her for a moment before speaking, "If the memories are still present I will need the help of the two humans that you saved. Unlike your past with young Luach, I did not witness any of these events. There is no way for me to find them without their assistance."
Demona had suspected as much, she just wasn't sure how she was going to manage it. With Macbeth, there had been the enchantments that tied them together, but she had no tie with these humans to bring them into the sprit realm. Which left only one possibility, the same way she had first entered the sprit realm, "How am I going to explain a sweat lodge and drumming to them?" She asked, trying to think of how she might possibly broach the subject to two elderly humans with likely no knowledge or belief in shamanism.
The Ancient One lifted his head and a single ear flicked forward and back once, "It will not be necessary for them to fully enter the spirit realm, my chosen. They only need enter it partially, as Macbeth did when he was shown your shared past."
A wave of relief passed through the azure blue gargoyle. It only lasted a moment though before she remembered a certain lack, "But I have no magical link with them," she commented with a frown.
"I needed the magical link between you and Macbeth to bring him partially into the spirit realm because there were no chosen with him to assist his transition," the great stag spirit explained. "Such a link will not be needed for you to assist the two humans when you are in the living realm with them," the Ancient One paused a brief moment as if to see if she had any questions, but she had none yet. "I will teach you the technique," he continued, "but you will need another chosen to assist you. I would suggest you ask the Wise One's senior chosen as she is particularly skilled in this." Demona grimaced, so much for keeping this from Rachael and Robert until she knew more about what had actually happened.
The spirit's next words came as a surprise to her, "It is much more difficult for the fey to remove memories instead of removing the pathways to them so they cannot be accessed." Demona looked up into his broad muzzled face, the dark brown eyes that were focused upon her, "The Weird Sisters did not remove your memories of Luach. I see no reason why these memories would not still be present in your mind as well." His tone was both confident and reassuring, and Demona did believe him. It didn't make sense to her that they wouldn't have removed her memories of Luach, but removed her memories of this more recent event.
"I'll call Azarel tonight and set up the meeting with his parents," the fiery haired gargoyle stated. Demona wanted to know the truth of what had happened; she had to find out why she would have done such a thing.
Late Night - Destine Manor, Forest Hills Gardens, Long Island
"Kendra yes…," Demona hissed in pleasure and entreaty, "Oh yes." Her outstretched arms trembled as they supported her weight and her wings rested limply upon the burgundy throw that protected the sheets of the bed. She arched her back and closed her eyes, concentrating on the sensations her mate was creating within her. Warm lips and tongue swirling around her wing joints, her mate's hands and fingers stroking her breasts, Kendra's warm body resting upon her back and thrusting slowly against her tail; it was exactly what Demona wanted, sensation…desire…want…need. She didn't want to think about anything other than how her mate was touching her, arousing her.
"Please," she bent her arms, lowering her upper body toward the bed and drawing one leg up, opening herself, "I need to feel you inside me." She both heard and felt the rumbling growling purr her mate made at hearing her plea, and then Kendra shifted, her hands leaving their teasing of Demona's firm breasts to rest on the gargoyle's shoulders. The next thing Demona felt was soft flesh grinding and rubbing against the base of her tail. "Uhh," an incoherent sound of pleasure escaped as she tilted her hips into the contact, a shiver running through her at the evidence of how aroused her mate had become simply by touching her.
The sensual contact didn't last nearly long enough before Kendra shifted again. Lips brushed between her wing joints, sending a bolt of pleasure through her as the black haired woman slid further down her body. A warm hand smoothed down her thigh to her knee and then slowly slid back up her inner thigh. Demona sucked in a breath as it drew near its goal and held it, waiting in aching desire for Kendra to touch her. Slowly…much too slowly her love's fingers slid closer. Her dark red lips opened and the breath she had been holding in escaped in a wordless cry as Kendra's fingers filled her.
"Is that what you wanted," the black haired woman whispered.
"Ah," Demona moaned her pleasure and thrust back. "Yes, but I need more," Dragon she needed so badly, her ache was an empty, yearning presence coiling and twisting inside her that only her mate could satisfy, "I want you to fill me completely."
She heard Kendra's sharply indrawn breath at her words; her lover knew what she wanted, what she needed. "You want my hand inside of you," the black haired woman's voice had dropped, deepened.
"Yes," Demona hissed, the need inside her coiling tighter at the words.
She felt Kendra's warm body press against her rear and lower back, and then, exactly midway between her wings and the sensitive spot on the upper side of her tail, teeth bit into the muscle running alongside her spine with very deliberate pressure. The bite sent bolts of pleasure racing both up and down her spine into both her wings and her tail. At the same time, Kendra's fingers inside her moved. The two sensations wrenched a desperate cry out of her. Afterwards she panted open mouthed, fighting for some control over her body so that she at least did not literally shake with the desire she was feeling. The exquisite pressure of Kendra's teeth on her eased, disappeared. A soft pressure and warmth ghosted over her skin where teeth had just been. "You need to turn over," Kendra whispered and then pulled away from her, leaving the skin where she had pressed feeling the coolness of the air in contrast to the heat of her mate's body.
Demona drew in a breath, and fought against whimpering in disappointment when she felt the fingers inside her withdraw. She knew Kendra was right, on her back would be so much better for this, for her mate to fill her. The fiery haired gargoyle tucked in her wings close against her, shifted to her side and then her back. She watched as Kendra leaned over, pulled open the drawer of the nightstand beside the bed and pulled out the bottle of their favorite lubricant, perfectly smooth long lasting slickness and a complete lack of taste. Her insides clenched in anticipation and Demona spared a moment to acknowledge with amusement that just the sight of it was arousing to her now. That she would be somewhat of a connoisseur of the texture and taste of personal lubricants was certainly nothing she could have guessed only a few months ago, Demona wryly reflected.
Kendra turned around to face her, their eyes met and with an anticipatory breath, the blue gargoyle spread her legs, providing a space for her mate to kneel. Kendra's eyes were so intensely blue as she moved into place that Demona felt as if she were gazing into the depths of the ocean when she looked into them.
Tuesday, January 6th 1998
Late Morning – Nightstone Unlimited HQ in Manhattan
Dominique stared out the window. Nightstone's building wasn't that tall compared to some of the other nearby buildings, but she still had a decent view of the city. She had been starting to think that things were slowing down, that the changes and realizations were done, or at least going to come much slower than they had been over the past month and a half. That she had time to catch her breath and get used to how things were now--to get used to how she was now.
Thank goodness things had been quiet and predictable since her conversation with Angela. That had been nerve wracking when she realized her daughter was finally asking what her relationship with Kendra was and then it had gone much better than she had ever hoped. Angela had accepted her, accepted her and Kendra's relationship and seemed to be happy for her.
Then there had been last night and Azarel, and tonight Elisha and Ruth Mayer were coming over with him. Azarel had been surprised when she called him; she suspected that he had barely gotten home from talking with her when his phone rang. She hadn't said anything about the Ancient One, only that she had contacted the one she had thought could help and he had agreed to make the attempt. Dominique wasn't certain yet how she would explain things to them. She was hoping that they would accept a simple explanation without wanting too many details. Dominique suspected that was probably naive of her though, in her experience things seldom worked out that simply or easily.
The redheaded woman drew in a deep breath, looking over at her desk and the work that was waiting for her. She let the breath out in an audible sigh; she still had quite a bit to do today if she didn't want to take her work home with her and Sharon wasn't ready to help yet. The younger woman was still taking reports home every night trying to learn enough about Nightstone to start taking on some of Dominique's more routine work. The Horse's chosen was currently with Kendra and Robert in New Jersey, meeting with the senior management of Alternate Energies LLC and doing a walkthrough of their manufacturing floor. The company was one of the three companies Kendra's team had identified as desirable acquisitions for Nightstone to expand into the fuel cell manufacturing field. Alternate Energies LLC had only been in existence for five years. They had an impressive research and development team that had made some intriguing theoretical advances in the field, but unfortunately had not attracted enough interest in investments to leverage their research into useful manufacturing advances.
It had been easy to get Robert permission to leave school early; his engineering teacher had even given him the opportunity to earn extra class credit by writing a report about his experience. Robert had been very excited about the trip this morning, and Dominique hoped he wasn't finding the reality of it too much of a letdown. If they had any sense at all Alternate Energies would assign someone who was capable of talking up the companies worth, while being careful not to reveal anything the company didn't want made public. Robert, Kendra and Sharon doubtless wouldn't be allowed to see anything particularly interesting, at least not at this time.
Her desk phone rang, drawing her attention, turning away from the window she crossed over to her desk. "Candice?" she inquired, picking up the handset.
"Ms. Destine, there is a Mr. Jason Canmore here to see Ms. Canmore," her secretary stated, completely stunning her. "He says he's her cousin?"
The spirit's visit…it had to be why he was here, Dominique realized. "Did you inform him that Ms. Canmore is not available?" she was impressed by how calm and steady her voice sounded.
"Yes, Ms. Destine. He insists on waiting," her eyebrows rose as it finally dawned on her to wonder exactly why her secretary was informing her of this. It wasn't as if she would be interested in whether or not any of her other employees had family members visiting them. Of course, she also hadn't ever been romantically involved with anyone else in the company, Dominique realized, and Kendra and she hadn't been discrete at the company Christmas Party at all. Everyone at Nightstone knew the two of them were together by now, and evidently, her secretary had decided that meant that she would be interested in Kendra's visitor.
Candice was right she was interested. "Ms. Canmore will be at least another hour or two," she paused to draw in a breath, not certain at all if this was a good idea, "I'll speak to him."
"Yes Ms. Destine, should I send him in now?"
Dominique hesitated, "Give me five minutes, and then send him in," she responded after a moment. She needed some time to decide what to say to him and to prepare herself for any hostility on his part. After all, he had found out that she and his family had both been pawns in the Weird Sister's games only a few days ago.
The redhead still wasn't quite ready when Candice opened the door to her office and stepped back so that Jason Canmore could roll his wheelchair into her office. Dominique rose from her chair and stared at the one Canmore that she hadn't met during her battles with the three siblings over a year ago. She could see a family resemblance in the brown haired human male's jaw line, chin and nose, but his eyes weren't nearly as blue as Kendra's and they definitely did not hold the warmth and love that was always in her mate's gaze when the black haired woman regarded her.
They continued staring at each other silently, neither one apparently willing to speak first…or not willing to speak in front of a third party. With an effort, Dominique tore her gaze away from Kendra's cousin and looked instead at her secretary who was standing in the still open doorway watching the two of them with open curiosity. "Thank you Candice," she said to the woman firmly, "if you will close the door please."
"Of course, Ms. Destine," the woman hastily responded as she took a step forward to grab the doorknob and pulled it shut behind her.
Dominique saw Jason's head twitch briefly toward the door at the sound of it closing before he returned his full attention to her. "I came here to talk to my cousin," he finally spoke.
"Kendra won't be back for another few hours. She's touring a manufacturing plant this afternoon," Dominique responded, pleased with how calm and in control her voice sounded. Inside she certainly wasn't feeling that way. She had killed this human's father, thrown Charles Canmore off the church roof to land only feet away from his three children. It didn't really matter that the hunter had been trying to kill her at the time and that she hadn't known they were there, that wasn't something a child could forgive and forget. She met his blue eyes, "And I believe I can answer the question you're here to ask just as well as she can."
His entire body stiffened at her words and his eyes narrowed to mere blue slits as he stared at her, "Demon," he all but spat out the word. Apparently he hadn't quite believed she was Demona until just now.
Dominique stared at him, her green eyes turning flinty in anger. Once she had felt dark satisfaction whenever she heard that name out of a hunter's mouth, but no more. Finally she snorted in bitter amusement, "Don't you think a better name for both of us would be fey pawns?" she questioned harshly. The brief narrowing of his eyes, clenching of his square jaw and thinning of his lips told her that she had hit her mark dead center. "You know I've given up my own vengeance against your family and humanity after finding out the Weird Sisters were responsible for most of it," she growled at him, "I thought you had given up your own over a year ago."
"You killed my father," the brown haired man threw back at her. There it was, the accusation she had been waiting for him to make. "You threw him to his death in front of us and then you laughed at us as you flew away."
Regret flitted though her green eyes, "You may not believe me, but I didn't know that you were there. I never looked for another hunter or anyone else after we began fighting and no other hunter joined him in his attack."
Jason stared at her, confusion showing briefly in his expression before it hardened once again. "No I don't believe you," he stated, his tone hard and unforgiving. "Your laugh was gloating, triumphant. You were laughing over having killed him in front of us."
"No I wasn't," she met his angry gaze squarely. "I was laughing because I found what I had come there to find, the praying gargoyle. I was laughing because with it I only needed one more thing to complete my vengeance on humanity for what they had done to my race."
Jason frowned in confusion for a moment before his eyes widened in recognition, "The statue that Goliath smashed."
"Yes," she confirmed, "the one that was supposed to protect my race from the plague I planned on releasing." She grimaced, reminded once again of the Weird Sisters interference in her life and the fact that the plague had been hardly the threat she had thought it was at the time. Her eyes went to the wheelchair Jason was sitting in, a stark reminder of the fallout of that drama. Just because the plague hadn't been the threat she had fooled herself into believing it was, didn't mean that it hadn't had its victims.
Her eyes rose from the wheelchair to Jason's face once again. He was giving her a very strange look, his dark brows creased in a frown above his blue eyes. "So what the spirit said was true, you've turned away from your murderous ways," his words were colored with a hint of Scottish brogue and, despite the fact that what he said had been phrased as a factual statement, disbelief.
Dominique stiffened, both in indignation at his words and at the implication of dishonesty on the Ancient One's part, for she knew it had been he who spoke to the eldest Canmore sibling. "The spirit isn't one to lie," she stated quite sternly. Her voice took on an angry edge, "and I was hardly alone in my murderous ways."
Jason's expression shifted from startlement at her first statement to scowling anger at the second, yet she noticed that he didn't immediately leap to his families' defense. Dominique took in a slow breath to calm herself and stepped around her desk to stand in front of him. "I did not know that you were there," she emphatically repeated her statement.
Jason stared hard at her, the scowl on his face not easing in the slightest for what seemed like forever. Finally, finally there was a hint of doubt in his eyes, a slight diminishing of the anger so visible in his expression. Abruptly he reached down to the wheels of his chair and pushed one wheel one way and the other the other way, spinning the wheelchair in place forty five degrees, startling her. Dominique watched him questioningly as he rolled the chair toward the couch with its bracketing Dracaena Michiko plants on either side. He reached out and touched one of the long dark green leaves and then glanced over at the plants by the office window. "These are real," he commented after a moment.
Apparently he didn't want to discuss his father's death any further. Well that was fine with her; she hadn't really wanted to discuss it in the first place. "Yes," she confirmed, "I like living plants rather than silk one's, it's healthier for the office environment." After she finished she waited with wary curiosity to see what Jason would do next. Jason glanced her way and from his expression she could tell that she had surprised him with her last comment.
"Hmm," was the only verbal response he made for several seconds. When he did speak again, his next comment came as a complete surprise to her, "You sound like you know the spirit very well."
It took Dominique a few seconds to gather her thoughts enough to reply. "The spirit that spoke to you was the one that lifted the Weird Sister's spells from me. I owe him more than I can ever hope to repay him for his kindness to me." The redhead didn't realize how her expression and tone were so accurately conveying her feelings.
Jason stared at her, his expression completely bemused. He swung his wheelchair around to face her, "You really mean that," he finally stated in a quiet, thoughtful tone.
Dominique felt her cheeks heat in blush, but she forced herself to continue meeting his gaze. "I do." It took only a little bit of willpower before she felt the blush fade, it would hardly do for him to think he could so easily fluster her.
His blue eyes fell away from hers as his shoulders slumped, "So it's true, they did that to us. They put a spell on us to make us hunt you." He didn't sound as if he wanted to believe it and she didn't blame him. She only too clearly remembered how she had felt when she first learned that all that she had suffered over the past thousand years had been because of the Archmage wanting vengeance on her for betraying him. The pain the knowledge had brought her…she was so very thankful that Kendra, the Ancient One and the Wise One had been there for her, freely offering their support and encouragement.
Jason wasn't looking at her; she didn't think he was really focusing on anything except perhaps his own thoughts. The expression on his face was a mixture of anger, hurt and confusion, and Dominique felt a strong flash of empathy for him. "It wasn't your fault. It was theirs," she said, her tone forceful enough that the dark haired male in the wheelchair gave her a shocked look. She crossed the distance between them to stand in front of him, "They're the ones who cared so little about mortals that the spell they put on your family was so unspecific that any gargoyle would trigger it instead of just me." Jason was still staring at her, looking stunned so she continued, "Canmore would have never been so intent on there being a hunter after he defeated Macbeth and destroyed my clan if it hadn't been for them. The hunt would have ended there," she paused at that, wondering if that would really have been the truth and decided to add, "or at least your family wouldn't have been so driven to hunt us."
"And my father would still be alive," Jason responded a second or two after she fell silent.
Dominique solemnly nodded, "If it weren't for the spell, I can't but believe that your family would have given up the hunt sometime in the past thousand years." She was relieved that he seemed to be willing to partially forgive her, or at least put half of the blame for his father's death on the Weird Sisters. She didn't want to be at odds with the three Canmore siblings, they were Kendra's clan no matter what her mate claimed, and now in a way they were her clan as well.