10.10: Waning Moon

a series of 100-word epilogues

December 23rd:

Fox finally woke up mid-morning, and stayed human after waking. She seemed weak, but fine… until David asked her if she remembered anything of the night before. Then she bolted for the bathroom, and spent long minutes heaving into the toilet before collapsing on the tiled floor.

Dr. Sato was summoned immediately and gave her a thorough examination, but found only exhaustion and mild dehydration. He recommended bed rest and Gatorade, and easily digestible foods when she became hungry.

David finally told Fox, "I'm just glad to have my family back." And he never asked her about that night again.

00oo00oo00oo00oo00

Oliver Grimm had not had time to read the morning papers before going in early to Kreuzung Technology, for a conference call with offices in Germany. Therefore it wasn't until he had lunch in his office, and had newspapers delivered with the meal, that he read about two people wearing gargoyle costumes that had been shot dead after breaking into a Quarryman's apartment.

The final paragraph of the article speculated that all the other Quarrymen home invasions, reported the day before, had been done by costumed humans instead of gargoyles. Grimm scowled; this was not the outcome he'd been expecting!

00oo00oo00oo00oo00

"Heinrich!" Father Sullivan greeted him at sunset. "I was concerned when you didn't return before dawn, but by the look on your face, you have good news at last!"

"I met other gargoyles last night, living in the high castle! I helped save their friends, and they asked me to come live with them!" Heinrich said happily. Then he frowned. "Brooklyn, their leader, said he knows you… why did you not tell me about them?"

"Because they were vacationing out of town! They must have just returned. And I wasn't sure about their customs, after that unpleasantness with the Labyrinth…"

00oo00oo00oo00oo00

"So Malibu told you about a gargoyle he met in Central Park, someone who wanted to come down to the Labyrinth for shelter… and you turned him away, told Malibu that he couldn't be friends with him? You abandoned a gargoyle; deliberately left him outside to be found by the Quarrymen?!?"

"It wasn't like that, Sis, I swear! I thought he was just Malibu's imaginary friend! I didn't know Malibu had sneaked up to Central Park by himself; I didn't know Heinrich was real! Honest!"

"Well, next time a gargoyle tells you about a new friend of his, believe him!"

00oo00oo00oo00oo00

"We'll take tonight off from patrols, to get everyone settled in, and so we can go to the airport with the people returning south. I should have a new patrol roster ready tomorrow; I figure just two patrols a night, new folks going out with old-timers here, until you're all familiar with the territory. Then—yeah, Broadway?"

"Only two patrols? …So you're… taking me off patrol duties?"

Brooklyn lowered his eyes. "Yeah. I'm sorry, Broadway. Right now, your wing's just not up to it. Maybe with more physical therapy…"

Broadway's eyes were lowered too. "S'okay. I'd kind-of figured as much..."

00oo00oo00oo00oo00

Castaway gave the assembled Quarrymen the damage report: their warehouse, their remaining helicopter and every hovercycle destroyed, and most of their net-mortars and Quarryhammers destroyed as well. "With our reduced resources, we'll hunt them by day only until more weapons and hovercycles are acquired," he declared, then sighed. "Well, we're lucky nobody was killed this time."

"Sir… I'm not so sure about 'lucky'," Stanford said. "Those gargoyles could have killed me and Copeland, but they didn't. Instead, they just stashed us away, out of the cold. As if they didn't really want to hurt anyone…"

He was fired, of course.

00oo00oo00oo00oo00

"You'll patrol again someday, darling," Martha said to a morose Broadway in the kitchen. "Your wing has gotten better, and it'll get better still with more therapy!"

Broadway said glumly, "Maybe… but in the meantime, what am I good for?"

That earned him a thump on the head. She scolded him, "What am I good for, Broadway?! I'm no warrior, but I can cook, and fish, and write; I've always known I'm good for something!"

Finally, he smiled. "Yeah… you're sure good for me," he said as he tugged her hairnet off, and ran his talons through her flowing locks.

00oo00oo00oo00oo00

At nearly the same time, Isabel cornered Brooklyn in the library. "C'mon, let's say it and get it over with."

"Huh?"

"You say you feel like gravel, for telling your rookery brother he can't patrol anymore. Then I tell you that it was either that or watch him get killed one night for not dodging fast enough, or get his patrol partner killed taking a bullet for him. Then you say you're glad you married someone who understands tough decisions."

"Izzy…" Brooklyn shook his head, then grinned. "You forgot one thing."

"What?"

"This," as he nuzzled her, and she purred.

00oo00oo00oo00oo00

"Good evening, detective," Xanatos said with an amused smile, eyeing the bouquet of roses in front of him. "A bouquet, for me?"

"No, these are for Anne. But I promised my captain that the first thing I'd do when I came up here, is personally give you this," Matt Bluestone said as he handed over the manila envelope he was holding in his other hand.

"What's inside?"

Matt grinned. "Tickets for the six different traffic violations you incurred when you landed the helicopter right in front of the precinct."

Xanatos chuckled and shook his head. "Let me find my checkbook…"

00oo00oo00oo00oo00

"Matt!" Anne hobbled over to him on her crutches, despite his urging her to stay off her feet.

After giving Anne the flowers and Bethany her lemon cookies, Matt said, "Bethany, can I see your new smiley-face necklace? I want to give you a prettier chain for it."

"You're the second person to ask for that today; Xanatos borrowed it a few hours ago," Anne said as she helped Bethany take the necklace off.

Matt chuckled as he read the new words engraved on the back of the smiley-face; the same words he'd told Johansson were on there. "The man thinks of everything."

00oo00oo00oo00oo00

As the New Orleans clan members boarded the aircraft, Brooklyn said, "Don't be strangers, okay? Come visit us when you can!"

"Considering Xanatos just gave us this private jet, I think it's safe to say we'll be visiting you fairly often," Adam said, still looking bemusedly at the title papers. "That is, as soon as one of our human clan members acquires a pilot's license."

Lucy said, "And don't forget, you can come visit us again, too!"

"You won't want to miss a real Mardi Gras in the Big Easy!" as Etienne grinned.

Broadway grinned back, promising, "We'll be there!"

00oo00oo00oo00oo00

"I put a new chain on Bethany's necklace, but Xanatos said that if you want the dog-tags chain back, you have to come up to the castle to get it," Matt said to Davis and Carter with a grin. "He and the clan want to thank you two personally, for helping keep Heinrich safe and well-provided for the last month."

"Don't worry about dressing up for the occasion; half the people there wear loincloths," Elisa told them.

"Take a three-hour lunch tonight; we'll cover for you." Matt finished with, "Welcome to the Conspiracy!"

Elisa added, "The good conspiracy, that is…"

00oo00oo00oo00oo00

Heinrich was pleasantly surprised to discover that even after Bethany had gone to bed, the adults in the clan were still happy to listen to more of his translations of the Klein-Johannes stories he'd written for his nephew Gregor.

"It's been ages since we had a real storyteller in our clan… and now we have two!" Brooklyn told Xanatos with a smile. Just before Broadway shushed them, as Heinrich was still telling stories.

Xanatos listened a few minutes more, and decided that if he didn't already own a publishing company, he'd buy one next week; one that published children's books.

00oo00oo00oo00oo00

"A room of our own; ours to keep forever instead of just a few nights!" Lexington said delightedly, gesturing to the newly-furnished bedroom before them.

"With the understanding that we won't do more than hold hands with each other outside these walls," Robert reminded them.

"Well, we were expecting that already. And the mated couples are getting rooms of their own too, with the same agreement. Humans… Anyway, look at that nice big bed; what say we make use of it?"

Then Rebecca pointed upwards, frowning. "That thingie right next to the light… that's not a video camera, is it?"

00oo00oo00oo00oo00

December 24th:

Xanatos knocked on Owen's door, then let himself in. "Feeling better, Owen? There's soup ready if you're hungry now…"

"A full day and night's sleep has been most beneficial," Owen said, though his face was still lined with exhaustion. "And yes, soup would be welcome."

In short order Owen was eating soup from a tray Xanatos had brought himself. Xanatos said, "If you're feeling up to visitors now, the kids and Anne really want to see you. Fox, too, but she's still recovering in her own bed. And last night, the gargoyles kept pausing outside your door and listening in…"

00oo00oo00oo00oo00

"In all, they hit eighteen of our bases in one night," Glasses told Tony Dracon glumly. "And since some onlookers called the cops about some of those raids, we've lost ten crates of guns and ammo and a shitload of drugs. Over half our drug stashes in town, and everything that was ready for sale. Twenty-two men arrested, and six more in the hospital; shot by cops or torn up by gargoyles."

"That bounty for a gargoyle's head? Raise it to a full million," Dracon growled.

Glasses shook his head. "Boss, right now we couldn't afford to pay it."

"FUCK!"

00oo00oo00oo00oo00

The police divers were grim as they lifted another plastic-wrapped body onto the dock. This one was much smaller than the others they'd already found in the river.

Four hours later, Xanatos received a call from the motor pool. Kyle Norton's voice was rough with unshed tears as he passed on the information the police had given him. "I'm going down to the morgue now to…identify the bodies, sir. I just wanted you to know, this explains what happened to the limos. The bastards must have been holding Nicky hostage; Frank would have done anything to save his little boy…"

00oo00oo00oo00oo00

Finally feeling better, Fox walked into the nursery and held out her arms with a smile. "Alex, sweetie! Come to Mommy!" Alexander blurbled happily at her from where he was playing on the carpet, and began scooting in her direction until she went over and picked him up. "Don't feel like flying today, hmm?"

"Not once since the kidnapping," Anne told her, looking worried. "Neither has Bethany, and she hasn't made her dolls dance either. I can't even get them to play Magic-Catch!"

Fox closed her eyes, feeling horrible. "We shouldn't have asked them to try magic, in that cell…"

00oo00oo00oo00oo00

One detective at the 55th Precinct told another, "The report from Ballistics came back. The gun found at the scene fired the bullets that killed the mom and kids inside the apartment. And Forensics confirmed that the fingerprints on the gun match the fingerprints on the hand we found, though they don't match any that we have on file."

"Call Albany and ask them to find the ex-husband, if they can."

"You're thinking the hand's his? It was domestic?"

"Domestic with a 'vig' chaser. Call the 17th too, and tell 'em it looks like the Vigilante Critter's back… and hungry."

00oo00oo00oo00oo00

The news from the motor pool and what must have happened to the Lewises, had filtered through the castle and clan. It cast a grim shadow on their joy and relief that the whole ordeal was over. "That poor man, and his poor boy," Anne said sadly as she reached for her crutches and began struggling to get up off the couch.

Broadway hustled over to help her up. "Yeah, Thailog really is a monster. But at least Xanatos said he'd pay for their funerals. Hey, let's change the subject; what do you traditionally serve for a Manhattan Christmas dinner?"

00oo00oo00oo00oo00

"…Sweet Dragon's Tears…"

"What'd you find, Lex?" Brooklyn asked his rookery brother, who was staring appalled at the computer screen.

"Remember when Owen told us Thailog knew about Puck, and wanted Puck as his magical servant for one year? Well, I just found out what Thailog wanted Puck to do for him during that year. This document he left on his computer is one helluva wish list."

Brooklyn read over his shoulder, and scowled. "That Thailog is one sick bastard. We'd better show this to Xanatos. …And to Elisa, too; she needs to be warned about… about that wish. Ugghh."

00oo00oo00oo00oo00

Back at the 23rd Precinct, one cop asked another, "Hey, where's Johansson tonight?"

"He asked the captain for some personal time; for Christmas shopping, is what I heard."

"Shopping for presents on the night before Christmas, with all the other Last-Minute-Lunatics? I wouldn't go out there without full riot gear on! I thought Johansson had more sense than that."

"So did I, but he was grinning like a maniac when he left her office. Patterson said he'd heard Johansson tell Rivers that some rich uncle, or maybe a grandparent, had sent him a gift certificate for FAO Schwarz."

00oo00oo00oo00oo00

Heinrich was on the phone, having spent the last hour telling his family about all that had happened to him since the last letter they'd received. He said excitedly, "((And Herr Xanatos has said that not only will he pay to fly everyone to New York--))"

"((Fly us there how?))" Helmut interrupted testily. "((Does he expect us to get tickets and passports?))"

"((He said Karl, Andrea and Dieter will have those but you, Helga and Gregor should fly during the day, as cargo in special crates. But Helmut, Xanatos wants to publish my stories! I could be an author!))"

00oo00oo00oo00oo00

Thailog had suffered a minor setback, that was all. He hadn't been captured, and the injuries caused by the werewolf and his still-unknown attacker had already healed. He'd lost the use of that warehouse as a base of operations, but he could always kill and take over the bank accounts of enough people to buy and set up another.

Now the clan knew he was alive, and knew that he knew of Owen's dual nature; he'd have to be even more subtle when planning his next operation. But he'd learned even more of their capabilities, and had some new ideas…

00oo00oo00oo00oo00

December 25th

Just before dawn on Christmas morning, the doorbell for Vinnie and Leon's apartment rang. Grumbling, Vinnie opened the door, looked outside and gasped. "Holy… Leon, get out here quick!"

Piled in front of the doorway were four cases of imported beers, the brands that Heinrich had told them about after he'd spent the night at their place. And parked right behind the cases was a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, with a bright red bow tied across the saddle. And a tag hanging from the handlebars; Vinnie lifted it and read: "Merry Christmas! With belated apologies and many thanks from the Manhattan Clan."

THE END