The Canmore Argument
"All the gals at the station actually miss the bastard!" Matt said incredulously. "Can you believe that? He only blew up the damn building! You know I actually heard Tina telling Margaret, she wanted a chance at him, jail time or no. And they're both married!"
Elisa sighed from across the table. How had they gotten on the subject of Jason Canmore? This was the last thing she wanted to be talking about over dinner/breakfast with her gargoyle clan, especially with Goliath sitting next to her.
"I think you want them to talk about you like that. Are you sure you're not just jealous, Matt?" she tried leadingly.
"Please, Tina would watch Dracon walk away." His partner cringed.
"What's that mean?" Lex asked confusedly.
"That she has no taste." Elisa responded dryly.
The detective's violet hued hero was watching this exchange with a bit more interest than was normal. Observing him from the corner of her eye, she noted his seeming interest in Matt's point of view, but more often he looked to her, as if waiting for a reaction. It was almost as if he suspected she'd been lying to him. Her short calls to the castle over the last eight days to excuse her absence had been hard to make, even if they were just little lies about the reconstruction at the 23rd, or having a lot of paperwork. She felt worse every time she'd bailed on the clan's dinner plans; especially when Goliath's voice dropped a little lower in disappointment. Trouble was, she wanted to be in both places at once, but Physical Therapy was at 7 am sharp. For now, Elisa pretended not to notice Goliath's silent attentions, and did her best to steer the conversation to anything else.
"It's just idle gossip. Let it go. Some one else will transfer in now there's an opening, and they'll talk about that instead."
"Yeah, well, Tina also had a few choice words about that. According to her, we'll get another 'Good One', and you'll take him too."
He laughed at this, but Elisa felt the heat rising in her face. That was entirely too close to the truth. And the truth stayed between her and Jason. Her mind raced furiously trying to figure out what sort of face to make, how much truth to allow, which words to say that would at once silence her partner and ward off Goliath's questions.
"Was this Tina person implying that Elisa is loose?" Angela stopped eating her peas and scowled defensively. The detective's mind flashed instantly to the memory of Jason in her apartment, Jason's arms around her, and leaning in to feel the warmth of his kiss. Reaching for the spark that wasn't there, that she had known she wouldn't find. 'Loose' was exactly what her clan would think if they knew.
"Not loose exactly," Matt hedged with a smile. "Maybe just lucky. I don't know if you guys see it, but our Detective Maza is very pretty, and it's no secret Canmore had his eye on her."
Brooklyn scoffed, "Like that Hunter had a chance with her, right Elisa?" She opened her mouth to respond, but Bluestone was already talking.
"I don't know about that. He must be a real charmer to keep her coming back." He threw her a laughing look as Goliath's every muscle went rigid beside her. Elisa stared hard across the table, willing him to shut the hell up. Her signal was caught, but grossly misinterpreted. "Aw, don't give me that look. I know you liked him." He spoke to the others again. "One minute she's arguing the Captain's decision to put her on days, the next minute he comes through the door, and suddenly she has no problems leaving me for a new partner. You totally had the hots for him, admit it."
"He was a temporary partner by assignment," Elisa returned hotly. "And when the clock struck twelve, he turned into the Uni-bomber. It was nice to play pretend, but now it's over."
"Over, huh?" Bluestone smiled slyly. "And that's why you've been visiting him after work?"
His partner's expression went slack as the blood drained from her face. The room seemed to freeze around them; all eyes fixed either on Elisa's look of horror, or on Goliath's flashing eyes. Dinner was officially over.
In the ensuing silence Matt had the grace to look embarrassed. "You didn't tell them." His partner just closed her eyes, bracing herself.
"You've been seeing him instead." Goliath stated, staring down at his food, gripping the thick glass of his tumbler. His body was almost completely still in that tensed way that labeled him as a gargoyle, a predatory creature. He was hurt, she realized, just like she'd known he would be.
But 'hurt' wasn't the word for it. Jealousy ripped through his chest like a rampaging monster. Fighting the compulsion to rend some thing to unidentifiable pieces, Goliath could not contain the feeling that his Elisa had betrayed him.
"He's the reason you haven't been here." His voice was edged with growling ire, but even so, the quiet of his response struck with the force of a stone. She felt the creeping distrust in his tone and knew the worst was yet to come. And it did, when he looked into her face a moment later. "Isn't he?"
"Yes." Elisa said honestly, reflecting to herself that Goliath was just as sharp as any of her co-workers and she should have known better than to try to keep this from him. "I'm sorry. I was planning to wait till you guys cooled off a little before I explained."
Without warning, he seized the arm of her chair, jerking it away from the table and forcing her to face him completely. His action had been angry, but the words were still relatively calm if not quiet.
"You've been giving me excuses all week. Why did you lie to me?" 'Me' she noted, not 'Us'. This wasn't entirely a clan matter then, he was taking it personally. Becoming more conscious of their audience, she touched the hand that still clenched the dining chair and ventured a suggestion.
"Goliath, let's talk about this somewh-"
"No!" He shouted, ripping his talons away from her touch and making everyone jump. "You owe your clan the truth. Now."
"I was going to tell you," she defended quietly. "But he needs me right now."
Goliath snarled, sucking in a rumbling breath as though she had struck him. The memory of the object of his desires in the arms of Jason Canmore assaulted his mind. Goliath could well imagine just how the treacherous Hunter might 'need' her. His imagination needed only the barest instant to warp the true picture. That human's hands in her hair, on her body. Her deep eyes grown glassy when he clasped her hips to his, the way Goliath himself wanted to do. His beautiful Elisa mewling in pleasure as the masked Hunter tugged at her clothes- No! He cast the ugly image into blackness, refusing to let it fester.
"Do you think I - we don't need you here?" He turned back to his plate and took a deep breath, visibly trying to calm himself.
Broadway fidgeted with his napkin. Elisa said nothing else, understanding from this outburst that he would need a second or two before they continued. He began again in serious tones.
"On our last night in the clock tower, I went to your apartment to find you. I saw the hunter in your window." Elisa gasped before she could stop herself. There was only one thing he could have seen, one reason he would bring this up now. The kiss. The reason he was so hurt by her secrecy now. He knew. He'd known the whole time, and had probably figured out she was never going to tell him. "Has he been there with you since then?" The implications of his question crashed down on her, and she answered frantically.
"No! No, just the one time." She leaned into his side and added reassuringly. "And this, has nothing to do with that." He blinked and looked as though he wanted to believe her.
"Really." She smiled at him a little, but he did not return it.
"Then why did you keep this from me?"
"Well, Hunters are kind of a sore subject around here," she glanced meaningfully around the table. "And I thought you would try to stop me." This made Goliath's expression go stormy. Unlike the other clan members, Elisa did not take orders from him. It was rare that she would pointedly refute his judgment, but occasionally it was a point of contention between them. Indeed, she only ever claimed to be clan when it suited her.
"Then you intend to keep seeing him, without any regard for-" He paused as if recalling they were still in the dining room. "Why?"
Deciding on a different approach, Elisa began her explanation as though she were speaking to her captain, retracting her emotions and attachments. He would be used to dealing with her this way, if it was more a report than a defense of her actions.
"As you know, Jason Canmore is currently being held in police custody awaiting trial. He's looking at life without parole, and that doesn't include any other crimes he and his siblings are responsible for over seas. He isn't allowed any contact with his sister for obvious reasons, and of course his brother is still at large. According to both him and Robyn, a gargoyle matching Demona's description is responsible for their father's death. There are no other living relatives. At St. Damien's Cathedral, when John's last shot hit Jason instead of you, it severed his spine." Lexington gasped in the background, and Hudson muffled an oath. She continued over their murmurings. "He'll never be able to walk without assistance and really, it's unlikely he'll regain any feeling below his waist. He's been in physical therapy for the last week. Most people find it hard to cope with the loss of limbs. Without the support of friends and family, many suffer a lasting depression, and some attempt suicide." The others seemed to soften after this new information, but their leader would not be swayed.
"Your clan should come first." He rumbled icily.
"It does," Elisa instantly insisted. "And I told him that. That you guys would always come first." Though he maintained his stern façade, Goliath was secretly pleased by her admission. He was also somewhat mollified that Jason Canmore's injuries had rendered him practically impotent. It was a cruel thought, and he was sorry for it, but that did not change things.
"He was trying to make things right, you know? He saved us both. And he lost everything to do it. Now he needs help, some one to be on his side, and there's no one left." She shrugged and shook her head sadly. "I just couldn't walk away from that. So I've been going to his Physical Therapy appointments, for moral support. But the hospital's 20 minutes away, and I've got to be there at 7am. That's why I've been missing you guys." She turned and addressed the table. "I'm sorry I lied to all of you."
"Ach, ye did what ye thought was right, lass." Hudson said kindly. "There's no one can fault you for that."
"You'll still see us when you have a night off, right? I mean, you're here now," Angela reasoned.
Elisa smiled at her friends. "Of course. You know I miss you guys. I couldn't stay away." Goliath huffed impatiently, rising from his chair.
"Come, we will discuss your interest in the Hunter." He turned to leave the room without so much as looking at the human to his left. The detective's irritation rose the farther he got from the table.
"Thanks a lot Matt," she hissed at her partner.
"Aw, how was I supposed to know? You tell them everything."
Sometimes Elisa got so exasperated with her partner, it gave her a strange compulsion to punch him in the gut. "Clearly I don't!" She threw down her napkin, making it slap the tabletop. "Next time I give you that look, for the love of God, stop talking!" She jerked out of her seat and swept angrily out of the dining room after Goliath.
She did not want to fight about this. That's why she'd decided that Goliath didn't have to know. He would have growled, and scowled, and ordered her to stay away from Jason. And she'd already decided she couldn't do that. Not just because of the circumstances; it was the principal of taking orders from Goliath. He was her best friend, maybe more than that, but he was not her leader. This set her apart from the others as much as anything else, that while they might consider her clan, she wasn't subject to it's laws. He hated that. She knew he did, and she knew why. Not knowing her whereabouts made it more difficult for him to protect her, but that wasn't about to change her mind. Ultimately, this was a defensible position, and he would respect it because she was different. He would allow her this, if grudgingly.
Elisa had tarried long enough in the dining room that she couldn't hear Goliath's footsteps from any direction. She took an experimental turn through the great hall, but was a little relieved to find it empty.
Jason Canmore was altogether a different kettle of fish. Any human in Goliath's place would be hurt. Would he be jealous too? How did one deal with a jealous gargoyle? More importantly, how was she going to talk to him about it? How did you explain that you knew something was wrong in the moment, and did it anyway? Jason was good-looking, and attracted to her. It was hard to look the other way, even while she recognized the very real feelings she had for some one else. She had looked her last chance at normal in the face, didn't want the kiss she'd seen coming, and let it happen.
She opened the library door, to see vacant chairs in the sitting area. Where did he go? She'd already passed plenty of private rooms, it wasn't a small castle.
How much of that would Goliath understand? Gargoyles didn't work like that. They grew up, fell madly in love with one of their rookery siblings, and lived happily ever after. They didn't spend years looking for the right mate the way humans did. They didn't characterize any relationships as 'wrong'. They didn't care what others thought. Love was love; who was powerful enough to interfere with that? But that was gargoyles. Gargoyles and humans had never mixed that way. Until now.
Okay, he's not in the hall, not in the library, and not any place in between. Did he go outside? She headed to the outer courtyard, not knowing where she would try looking next.
Shadows seized her from the left. Elisa gasped as darkness conquered her sight, finding herself firmly ensconced in warm, familiar arms. Goliath took up nearly every inch of the narrow passage they now occupied. The decisive press of his large hands on the small of her back suggested he didn't mind sharing the space.
"Hi," she choked, feeling the logic of her mind flicker like candle light.
"I know," he rumbled.
"Listen, about what you saw. I-", he didn't let her finish.
"You don't have to explain."
"I know, but-" She sighed. "This hasn't been an easy start for us has it?" He mulled over these words, thinking about how they had started. Remembering how he'd felt the night he found Jason Canmore in her apartment, burning with the knowledge that while she loved him enough to forsake others of her own kind, she still could not bring herself to accept him. And the following night, after fleeing from their ruined home, when he'd been so ready for battle he couldn't keep his eyes from lighting. She had gone against his orders then too, to stand with him against the Hunter and his brethren. Then moments later, she'd fallen, and for the first time, he'd been unable to reach her. He thought he'd lost her. For long and terrible hours, he thought he'd lost everything. The recent past had not been kind.
"What is easy is not always right," he replied.
She laughed sardonically. "Well that's true." Feeling a little more comfortable with the closeness, Elisa hugged him tightly. She felt Goliath breath into the back of her neck. "I love you."
His wings wrapped around them. "I know."