Author: Denigoddess2001
Date:1/9/02 2:50:01 AM
Genre: Romance
Rating: PG-13
Saga: Angels Among Us 1.0
Title: Beloved

Disclaimer: I don't own Gargoyles. They belong to Disney. I'm writing this for love of the cartoon. Kudos to the Great Gargoyle of the Galaxy, Greg Weisman. Please don't sue!

For this is Wisdom; to love, to live
To take what fate, or the Gods may give.
To ask no question, to make no prayer,
To kiss the lips and caress the hair,
Speed passion's ebb as you greet its flow
To have, - to hold - and - in time, - let go!
- - -Laurence Hope

January 25, 2006

Wren watched her beloved mate work his culinary magic in the kitchen. The wonderful hickory scent of baked sausage filled the air. She knew that his homemade potatoes au gratin were beyond compare. She watched him slice and dice vegetables and lettuce into a feast of a salad. Demetrius had set the table with their best dishes and finest silver. He left her alone for a moment to disappear into the basement. She thought this rather odd.

[What would he want down there?]

A moment passed and he quickly reappeared. He noticed the worried expression that crossed her features. He returned with a bottle tucked beneath his arm. He pressed a brief kiss upon her lips and dashed by her to the table. "Fear not, Milady. Every fine meal knows perfection when in the company of good wine."

"Since when do we have wine?" She raised a questioning brow. She knew that her Gargoyle lover liked his mead and his ale. She enjoyed an occasional malt/ lemon beverage. Yet, neither one drank wine. Since their return to the Summerlands estate from the Avalon Wars, Demetrius was not of his usual mettle. As of late, his behavior had been erratic.

"I bought it last evening whilst we bought food at the market." He held the bottle closer to her for her inspection. She astutely read the label. She returned her attention to Demetrius and he smiled when she nodded her approval. "White meat and white wine are mates at the table. A white Zinfandel is the culmination worthy of this meal."

"I'll take your word for it. I know absolutely nothing about wine." [Sometimes, I don't know much of anything.]

He removed the sausage from the oven. He let out a string of curses when he burnt his talons. Fate had been assaulting the poor Gargoyle. That evening, he had caught his wing in the patio door and his tail knocked over a chair. Wren concluded that Gargoyles and kitchens, even large kitchens, were simply a bad mix. She worked hard to contain her bubbling mirth when she heard him bellow, "Menash Kah!"

She flinched when she heard the proud warrior howl in pain from his burn. Wren hastily grabbed his injured hand and held it under the faucet. She allowed cold water to trickle over the burn. She warily glanced at him and noticed that Demetrius' eyes were glimmering with amethyst fire. A low growl rumbled in his broad chest. [He's pissed.]

She studied the burn. It was a large one that covered the outer talon and palm of his hand. She knew that quiet speech worked with to sooth the beast raging within her mate. She left him briefly to extract the first aid kit from underneath the bathroom sink. His tail lashed furiously as his hand stung from the pain. Wren began humming his favorite song to calm his agitated state as she applied the burn cream to his blistering skin. Her words were soft caresses meant to soothe him. "There, the cream will help it heal and take away the sting."

She let her lips press a warm kiss on the uninjured part of his palm. She dared to stare the wounded Gargoyle in the eye. "It's a human custom to kiss an owie. It supposedly quickens the healing."

His growl subsided and his other hand captured her chin. He held her gently as he met her tender hazel gaze. "Your kisses quicken my healing as they do, also, my heart."

Her breath caught at his words. She stared at a being some would call a monster or a beast. Many thought him to be an incubus contaminating her with his lurid wiles and untamed sexuality. Wren knew Demetrius to be and do none of those things. (Well, yes he did, but she liked it!) He was one of courage, valor and honor. He had a gentle soul and the fiercest of hearts. He was a faithful adherent to the Gargoyle Way: albeit he had a very particular interpretation of it. He was an ebony Adonis with wings of a demon and a heart of an archangel. Even when angered, his gracious and articulate response was for her and not a release of his anger.

It seemed forever they stood staring at one another in the kitchen. They had yet to discuss the Avalon Wars and what had occurred during that time. Demetrius seemed broken and dispirited by Ares' nebulous tryst with him. He seemed disheartened by the growing cynicism arising in his ladylove. Wren was heartsick over Demetrius' quieted demeanor. It wasn't his way to be brooding and taciturn. It wasn't typical for him to withdraw into self-imposed exile. Now, for the first time in almost three weeks, she saw a nearly imperceptible vestige of the bombastic, vivacious warrior.

Her voice stuck in her throat. Her words were faint even to Gargoyle ears. "Demetrius, we need to talk. I haven't asked because I didn't want to reopen wounds. I'm worried about you."

"Courage, Milady Wren." He seemed visibly shaken by the exchange between them. "Soon we shall speak of it when my soul is respectable for your viewing. I beseech you for only a little more time."

Frustration simmered within her. She ruthlessly suppressed it and gave her mate a bright smile. "That's fine."

"Dear lady, I ask you to be patient. Now, you intrigue me with unknown words. What is an owie?"

Wren laughed in spite of herself at his innocuous question. She explained the concept of an "owie" and it brought a rare smile to his face. For a moment, he looked at her with all love shining in his eyes. How she wished that she could hold his hands and heal his soul and his body. She knew that she could do neither and that ripped at her esteem. She remembered that wonderful night on Caledon Isle by the fire when she had fallen almost on top of Demetrius. He had healed her "owies" on her hands with sweet, tender kisses that stirred fire in her soul.

She felt a spark ignite inside her mind. Her eyes widened as she watched a shiver run through her mate. He had felt and thought the same thing and it had reached beyond his psychic wall. [Perhaps, there's hope for us after all.]

He released her. With his back to her, she couldn't see his face or look into his eyes. The ebon warrior had long erected barriers to their psionic link. The bond between their hearts, bodies and souls was a cold and barren void within her. Wren was certain she'd die of loneliness without him inside her heart. She longed for her mate always to be on the edges of her thoughts. She needed Demetrius to touch her soul with his bright courage and steadfast faith. She felt as though she was dying by degrees. Those truths Wren was unable to push aside. They loomed about her as a pack of hungry wolves waiting to devour her at first opportunity.

Wren studied his back. He stood straight as his plum and jet wings cloaked around him. He was every measure the stoic Gargoyle. For a minute, she half-expected his skin to turn lavender and to answer to the name Goliath. He donned the oven mitts and finished setting the table. Yet, the gaiety and anticipation of this long awaited mean vanished as Wren felt the chasm deepen between them. The Gargoyle within her longed to bellow in frustration. The Fae that flowed in her veins demanded that the tension be magickally dissolved. The woman within her wanted to make it all better.

Demetrius glanced at her and she remembered to flash him another smile. He gallantly pulled out a chair for her and bowed deeply. He offered her his arm, "Lady Wren, your dinner is served."

[Served. That's all you do is serve.] The thought became a mantra in her head. [You're not a slave. I don't need a servant. I just want you whole and well. It breaks my heart to see this coming between us.]

"Thank you, good sir." She remembered that was the proper form of address from tenth century Scotland. Once seated, Demetrius helped scoot her chair closer to the table. He lit the candles dotted around the room.

He was captivating. He poured her wine. He served her food. He entertained her with clever conversation and piquant anecdotes. Wren's eyes refused to be taken in by the display. She saw the pronounced cheekbones and his thinner frame. She noticed his tail hung limply behind him and that his almost metallic skin had assumed a matte finish. Gone was the silvery hue of hematite that marked him as exceptional amongst Gargoyle Sires. Now, his complexion was alike dull cold iron. His argent locks no longer reminded her of glistening snow and frost. Now, they seemed lackluster and ashen.

After the meal, they cleared the table and washed the dishes by hand as was their tradition. Once it had been a time of closeness. Now, it seemed little more than a hollow ritual that no longer brought them together. Wren felt the distinct urge to throw the expensive china across the room just to watch it shatter. She wanted to bleed just to see if they were both alive. She quelled the impulse and carefully replaced each dish in its proper place. Demetrius seemed almost serene as he wiped dry each dish.

He was breathtaking as she watched him execute a simple household chore. He stood 6'5" and was 300 pounds of primal warrior. Tonight, he wore his best kilt and it left little to her active imagination. Even with wings cloaked, Wren saw how the material barely concealed sleek, powerful thighs. She chuckled wryly that even when he seemed fatigued, he still managed to quicken her pulse. His most becoming features his unusually violet eyes and that flowing silvery white mane. It seemed such a shame that it hadn't received proper care since their return. That was merely another sign that Demetrius was not well.

Inspiration abruptly grabbed Wren by her proverbial collar and slapped her silly.

[Hair! Demetrius has always been conscientious of his appearance.] Enlightenment spoke to her.

[Actually, he's just vain about his looks. He knows he's downright sexy!] Her baser instincts screamed.

[We bought beads so that we could cornrow his hair months ago before the Hades Wave and the Avalon Wars. He always wanted me to braid his hair.]

"I want to braid your hair." She whispered.

"What?" The proud warrior looked at her as though she were daft. "Now?"

"Please. Let me." Her entreaty came out hoarse. She masked her desperation with another brilliant smile. "Your hair needs a good brushing anyway."

"Is it unpleasing to your eye, Milady?" His concern came across with every word.

"It would be unpleasing to your eyes." She countered. She took his hand and led him through the house to the basement washroom. There was a sink located there that had a curved indention in the front especially meant for holding one's neck and washing hair. She thanked the Powers-That-Be that the former owner had a passion for cosmetology.

"As you wish, Wren." He surrendered to her. She guided him to sit in the chair. She tucked his wings carefully away as not to be stepped on and his tail was placed so that it draped over his lap. She gave him a triumphant grin as she slowly lowered the chair toward the sink. She grabbed the nozzle of the water hose connected to the sink and tested the water for proper temperature. She wanted it warm enough to ease away his tension but tepid enough not to scald his skin. [One burn a night is plenty!]

"This won't hurt a bit." She told him as smoothed his hair away from his scalp. Demetrius no longer turned to stone as other Gargoyles because of his magickal alteration of being somewhat human. He paid particular care to his appearance and hygiene. Brooklyn had called him a pretty boy and Wren readily agreed. "Much."

"I am glad to know I am in such good hands." His solemn response was accompanied by a dim twinkle in those lavender eyes. Wren's heart soared when she realized he was teasing her. [We're making progress.]

She began aiming the gentle spray of water at his hairline along his brow ridge. She studied him carefully. "Too hot?"

"Nay, Milady. It is perfect." He assured her with a thumbs-up sign.

She let the steady spray of water wet his entire scalp. Wren simultaneously let her ten talons gently massage his skin. Languidly she stroked him with firm pressure as she ran her fingers through his hair. She entwined her fingers with his thick, glorious mane and applied de-tangler to his wet tresses. She heard a low moan of satisfaction escape him and she knew that he was finally relaxing.

"How does that feel?' Her breath teased his moistened skin near his ear.

"Heavenly." Demetrius lounged with closed eyes as his response came out more like a purr. "Quite heavenly."

She grabbed an expensive salon shampoo favored by her winged lover and poured a small amount of it in her hands. It was a scent that he favored: a combination peaches and vanilla. She gave him a sly look as he glanced uncertainly at her. "Don't worry, I promise I'll be gentle. I'm going to wash you fiercely and well!"

A deep chuckle filled the washroom and a genuine grin tugged at his lips. "You wound me with such slaughter of eloquent words."

"I'm taking you to sink and washing you fiercely and well." She nudged him to turn his head so she could scrub behind his pointed ear. She knew perfectly well the parody of "taking to den and loving fiercely and well" wasn't lost on her daemonic lover.

"I hope you find me worthy."

"Actually, I find washable." Wren let the giggle escape her. She continued to work his scalp with the aromatic shampoo. She let her bosom dangle enticingly toward him. She looked down to see Demetrius with eyes closed and a silly grin that reached from ear to ear. It lightened her heart and gave her hope. She rinsed the soap from his tresses and wrapped a towel around his head.

Now, he looked more like a guru than a Gargoyle. She tweaked his nose. "You're cute!"

"A Gargoyle is many things, Milady: Fierce, primal, stoic...but never CUTE." [Oh, Dear! I've wounded his Gargoyle pride. Damage control needed!]

"And very thin-skinned." She teased. "Chill out, Demetrius. I won't tell anyone if you don't."

Wren took great care in drying each section of that glorious argent mane. "We're going to keep it damp so I can cornrow your hair."

"Cornrow?" He was dumbfounded. "It will take hours."

"Hey, you're a Gargoyle. You know how to wait."

"You're fingers will tire."

"Trust me. Luck is on our side." She winked. "Hey, I have many skills."

Wren brought Demetrius to his room. She pulled a chair from his writing desk and pushed it close to the fireplace. She patted the floor in front of the chair and motioned he to sit there. "Give me just a minute to gather some things and we'll get started."

He nodded mutely and took his place by the hearth. Wren hurriedly gathered a comb and several onyx and amethyst beads that she'd purchased from a craft store in the Sam Hain borough of Linoma. Each jeweled bead had been handpicked for color and clarity. She'd purposely done it so the gemmed baubles would match his platinum and amethyst armbands that he wore on his upper arms. She was glad to see that he still wore his betrothal torc around his neck.

Wren returned to the chair and straddled him where he sat. Demetrius moved and used a poker to move a log into the fireplace. He reached for lighter fluid and a match when the young woman stayed his hand. "I want to show you something. Do you trust me?"

"Without fail, Milady." He turned to press a kiss on her knee.

"Watch this!" She stared at the hearth and made an intricate twirling motion with her right hand and made a "poof" sound.

Nothing happened. Demetrius' nodded slowly. "That was ...graceful."

"Let me try again. I've been practicing this all week." She repeated the complex gesture. She let forth a gust of air than sounded mysterious like a 'poof.' Again, nothing changed. Her eyes glowed with crimson fire.

"You piece of Menash, you had better flaming light!" She duplicated the winding motion with her hand, but this time her tail duplicated the gesture with the same fluid grace. This time there was a very large SNACK, CRACKLE, AND POP. They coughed in unison when a large, billowing cloud of gray smoke escaped from the fireplace. Several flying chunks of firewood landed only a few inches away from the sitting Gargoyle. To her delight, the hearth now held a cheery, blazing inferno. Demetrius' look of surprise was truly a priceless moment.

"I'm still working on it." She gave him a sheepish grin. "I keep forgetting that each incantation is much more effective when I use my tail. I guess it's a condition of my particular ...mutation."

"So it would seem." He concurred. "Still, your mastery of elemental magick is most impressive."

"I'd hardly call it 'mastery.' I'm not ready to light the pilot light on the stove or the furnace." Another giggle escaped her. "But I roast great marshmallows."

"Agreed." He drawled. "Please assure me that you have no intention of drying my hair with such chicanery."

"I promise." She crossed her heart. She took the comb in hand and leisurely began to comb out the tangles in his hair. He settled against her and closed his eyes. Wren carefully worked out each tangle and snag from his thick mane.

Demetrius felt her warmth surround him and she eased his inner turmoil with her tender caress. While agony and shame warred in his soul, his Sweet Songbird found ways to give him peace. Her gentle touch stilled the fiend that thirsted for vengeance. The brush of her slender talons on his scalp alleviated his dishonor. She spoke little of what occurred in the celestial city, yet her actions intimated forgiveness. Her simple kindness of such a humble service, such as washing his hair, imparted compassion. [Even now, she loves me with her hands and undoes with her quiet ways.]

The feel of her talons and comb gently working his scalp sent an erogenous rush through his being. Black talons forcefully gripped the Persian rug beneath him. He had yearned to reach out to her and feel her touch upon his skin many nights. [How can I present myself worthy when I have betrayed her in body and mind? Why does she not banish me from her heart and seek a more worthy mate and protector?]

Wren studied the thick frosty tresses before her. She pondered the head of glorious locks tried to figure out where best to start. [Let's keep this simple. Nothing fancy... just stylish. Less likely to fubar his hair if I keep it true to form.]

As she parted section where in the intended direction of the braid, joyful expectation filled her. [Maybe, I've been looking at this the wrong way. I'm not the one who needs reassurance. Perhaps Demetrius is the one that needs to be reminded that he's worthy of love.]

Wren parted sections of hair and ran them back from his hairline to the nape of his neck in quarter inch sections. With each portion, she took three strands of his great lengths in her talons. Instead of weaving the tresses to the inside, she altered the plait so that she brought the third strand under and through the other two. [We are like these braids. He is one strand while I'm another. The thing that defines and holds us together is our love and faith that we share. It's all about forgiveness and trust.]

"Demetrius, I've never quit loving you." Wren softly murmured several braids later. "Please don't send me away. I don't know what I've done, but I want to be with you always. No other man or Sire can touch my heart the way you do."

Dark talons grabbed her hand with swiftness that defied convention. She felt a sweet, heated kiss pressed to her palm. She felt a hot wetness upon the back of her hand that caused her distresses. She lodged the comb firmly in Demetrius' hair and leaned forward to meet his gaze. His eyes shone brightly with unshed tears. It tore her asunder to see the proud, fierce warrior weep before her.

"How can you say that?" His words were punctuated by harsh sobs. The weeping racked his body with trembling. "I betrayed every vow I made you. I have been with another when I promised fidelity to you. He's profaned me with his touch and I have desecrated your faith in me."

"No, you haven't." She found the courage finally to say the words they both needed said. She left her chair and was by his side. She wrapped her arms and tail tightly about the anguished sire and drew him to her. She gently rocked him back and forth and whispered words of adoration and devotion to Demetrius. "Beloved, don't feel guilty for saving my life or the lives of your friends. He forced you into that position."

"I enjoyed his touch, Wren." The Gargoyle howled. "I enjoyed it all. I am nothing more than a wh-"

"Don't even say it." She pressed a chaste kiss to his lips to silence him. She framed his strong face in her hands and forced him to look at her. "I thought about that long and hard. You neither maliciously nor willingly chose to bed him. You did so under coercion and duress. A pleasant physiological reaction isn't a sin or a transgression. Bodies react to external stimuli. I know your heart was with me. I felt you reach out to me. I heard your cries inside my mind. As far as I'm concerned, these were extraordinary circumstances... it's not exactly like you cheated on me. It's a very messy complex situation. But, I know that you never wavered in your faithfulness to me."

"Wren...oh by the Dragon." He said nothing more as he quietly wept in her comforting arms. A weight heavier than all the sins of the world was lifted from him in that lucid, pristine moment. It was Wren's strength and faith that healed him. Her simple touch and her sincere words enveloped his heart in a cherished cocoon of affection and devotion. Now, she was his Archangel and he her tender charge. "I truly have been blessed."

[Something like this is never about forgiveness. It's about fortitude and steadfast compassion. You've suffered the unthinkable and you've felt guilt because you actually felt some physical pleasure. Please, Demetrius, forgive me for not understanding more quickly. Don't push me away."] A swaying fusion of hue and light touched his mind. The walls crumbled to dust that surrounded his psyche. He was immersed and embraced in unadulterated love. Unconditional receipt of Wren inside his heart, soul and mind humbled him and filled him with joy. What great lengths she went to bring healing to him. It humbled him. It exalted him. It enlightened him. It freed him.

Throughout the night Wren worked diligently to plait the braids. By dawn's light, Demetrius' mane was a woven crown of glory. Each braid was elegantly adorned on each end with small beads of amethyst, jet, and silver. Wren noticed the fatigue and contrition ebb from his weary body. As she plaited each strand, she felt her love and energy seep into every braid. Once again, they found a connection that refused to be torn asunder. As tightening of each cornrow strengthened it, every gesture and honest word between the mates fortified the bond they shared.

Wren noticed that Demetrius had fallen asleep. His head rested peacefully on her lap. She studied his face with great care and found him to look serene for the first time in weeks. She brushed away an errant braid from his brows. As the sun rose above the horizon, his ebon skin lightened to mahogany. Argent tresses deepened to the hue of raven's wing. Delicately pointed ears became pleasingly rounded. Eight talons become ten fingers. Wings shrank and vanished beneath his mocha skin. Lavender eyes darkened to coffee. He was all things beautiful and perfect to Wren.

With the last of her fading Nightkind strength, she scooped him into her arms. She carried him to the large four-poster bed they shared. She drew back the quilt and laid him gently upon the sheets. She tucked him in soundly and then joined him for a well-deserved repose. He was her mate and her lover.

He turned to face her and gazed at her with dark soulful eyes. He drew her to his chest and embraced her with all he had within him. He brushed his lips against her brow and whispered her name as though it were of divine origin. His next words gave her strength. "I love you."

She propped up on one arm and looked down at the handsome man lying beside her. Wren held up her hand and motioned for him to close his eyes. He said nothing but did as she bid him. She reached into the end table on the side of her bed and withdrew a small shiny object from the drawer. "Open your eyes, Demetrius."

His eyes met hers. She held up a ring. It was a simple band of white and silver metal. It refracted the bright dawn rays as if it were a flawless prism. In a hushed reverent tone, Demetrius spoke his thoughts aloud. "Is that Mithral?"

"Oh, yes." Her joy was unmistakable. She sobered somewhat and nervously cleared her throat. "Demetrius, I know that we've become mates in the eyes of our clan. Whenever, we've spoken of any other declaration of our love I've shied away."

"I know that you are my mate now and always." He pressed his brow to hers with unrestrained emotion. "I need no further proof."

"This isn't proof." Wren rose from the bed and went to his side. She fell to her knees before him. Alarmed by her strange actions, Demetrius abruptly bolted upright.

"Milady, what ails thee?"

"Not a single thing." She assured him. "I don't know how to say this. Demetrius, you've found me worthy as your mate. You have been a provider and protector beyond reproach. You have completed me and made me whole. Now, I am before you on my knees. I am asking that you find me worthy in your eyes. If you will let me, if you will have me, I will do my best to share all my heart and soul with you. I will gladly give you all my worldly goods if you would do me the honor... if you would..."

Wren choked on the words that refused to leave her throat. She forced herself to continue. "Demetrius, would you have me as your ...wife before the eyes of God and everyone in the entire world?"

"You're proposing to me?"

"Yes." She closed her eyes. [I've done this too soon. I've frightened him. Maybe this was the last thing he needed?]

"You want me in illness and well-being, suffer we misfortune or know prosperity, forsaking all others in body and heart as long as we both shall live?"

"Yeah, those are usually the conditions of a marriage." She smirked.

"Will I be the father of your children?"

"How many do you want?" She reposted. There was a deafening pause that hung between them. Her next words were a prayer and a plea. "Please say yes."

"Aye, Milady. I wish to be your husband and consort for the rest of our lives and the next life to come."

Wren's hand trembled as she slipped the simple band of mithral on his left ring finger. Eyes met and hearts collided as the Sojourner found her champion: her Beloved.