The First Conversation

Goliath had only been awake for a few moments when he heard the cheers of his clan below. Gazing down, he saw her immediately. Her hair glinting gold in the fading sun light drew his eyes first. He could practically feel it slipping between his talons as it had three nights ago on the same tower where he now stood.

Elisa's kiss had been everything. He'd dreamed of her that day and each day since. The dreams were his only solace when he'd awakened alone the next night. It had probably been foolish to think she would still be there when the sun set on him, but she hadn't come back at all. He'd waited all night, and the whole of the next.

Meanwhile, he'd occupied himself with clan business, now consisting of nightly news reports and the scanning of newspaper articles. Lexington had been employed in gauging public opinion online. Broadway and Angela had seen to the meals, Hudson had helped to analyze the contents of mainstream media, Goliath himself had ordered all to stay indoors and suspended patrols, and Brooklyn had dutifully paid strict attention to all.

There was only so much they could collectively take however, watching their home explode and burn on every channel. When he sensed his clan had had enough, Goliath let them go. It was better that he worry over Elisa in peace anyway.

It was, of course, impossible not to worry. The people of Manhattan were scared that much was clear, and scared people could be dangerous. Lost souls looking for answers would grasp at anything. With fear of gargoyles running rampant in the city, it was only a matter of time before an extremist group of some sort grabbed the lime light. That a good friend and ally was out there in the turmoil alone and unprotected was bad enough. But Elisa is neither of those things, he thought, making a short, sweeping glide to the parapet below. She is more.

He kept his expression warm when she greeted one and all, belying his unsettled thoughts. As the others made their way into the Great Hall and on to breakfast, their leader hung back, catching his human companion by the arm.

"Elisa," he began softly, as not to attract attention. She made a small, reassuring smile and answered in kind.

"I know, we need to talk." She led them to the library without any coaxing on his part. Goliath followed, grateful to his friend for choosing the castle chamber that would put him most at ease. He was not looking forward to this, but there were things between them that must be said, delicately if he could. There was so much to being a gargoyle's mate that she would not, and could not know. She may not even accept him. While his Elisa was not known to be a shrinking violet, there was the distinct possibility that after this discussion she would change her mind.

As he closed the door behind them, she seated herself at one end of the scarlet couch in front of the fireplace. She was possibly hoping he would sit next to her, but until this thing between them was resolved, he could not be comfortable there. Catching hold of one of the four tall stools by the door, Goliath arranged himself between her and the hearth. Facing her, he took a deep breath.

"So," she began leadingly. "About the other night."

"Yes." He hedged, still searching for words. "I, er, thank you, for what I believe was a declaration of your feelings." She made a small smile, most likely at his fumbling, and nodded. His mouth went dry. "So there are now things that must be made clear between us." Clearing his throat lightly, he leaned forward, making careful eye contact. "I love you, Elisa. It is likely I will love you for the rest of my days." She inhaled sharply, and whatever else he had been planning to say was instantly forgotten. He watched her beautiful eyes widen in evident surprise and wondered at that reaction. "You're surprised. Have I said something wrong?"

"No," she said too quickly. She shrugged and made a nervous smile. "It's just, you make it sound so permanent."

Goliath felt his jaw clench. He had been right to worry it seemed. She was human, of course she didn't understand. "Love between gargoyles usually is." he said gravely.

"Oh," She looked away. This conversation was not going the way she'd thought it would. This was supposed to be the easy part, Elisa reflected. They were supposed to cement their feelings with more words than 'Good', smile, fall into each others' arms, and bashfully head out for breakfast with the others. Instead, she'd somehow managed to say the wrong thing already, and possibly ruined everything. Now Goliath had put on his serious face, which was really something to see, and was looking more guarded than ever.

She really hadn't expected him to come to the point so quickly. She had known he would probably profess love, now that she was finally giving him a chance to say it, but then he had followed up with 'the rest of my days'. It sounded like a wedding vow. Hell, he probably meant it that way, and she was completely unprepared for something of that magnitude. It had taken her three years and multiple near-death experiences to give this a thing a real chance. Didn't he understand the concept of 'baby steps'?

There was a pregnant pause before he could continue. "This is what I feared. Elisa, let me say that it is my intention to court you, but perhaps not in the way you understand it." She tilted her head in silent request for explanation, but not knowing how to continue, the gargoyle could only press on with honesty. "I do not much like the concept of dating." One black brow rose at this.

"You want a courtship, without dating?" She couldn't hide her confusion. "Goliath, it's not a one-or-the-other thing, you can't - I mean- dating leads to courtship."

He frowned at her. "I have observed this 'dating' ritual," he said disdainfully. "Humans court several perspective mates at once, trying to choose one from the group. I was hoping there would be no need for this between us." He reached forward and grasped her hand, his expression sad. "My Love, I would be poor competition for human males, and there is no one else I would consider alongside you. I hoped you might feel the same."

Startled at being addressed as 'My Love', Elisa stared dumbly for a second or two before she could find the flaw in his logic. "Oh! You want to date exclusively! That was always my plan." He blinked blankly at her, and she clarified. "You want us to spend time alone with each other and not anybody else, right?"

He looked uncertain. "You agree then?"

"Of course," the detective patted his hand reassuringly. "I can't believe you were worried about that. I'm not going to see anyone else." He started to smile back at her in relief, but suddenly she was on her feet. "Now I hope you're hungry," She said turning briskly for the door. "I got here early and made crepes, and sausages-"

"Wait," He had to jump to his feet to catch her by the wrist before she got away. Wide eyes looked at him questioningly. Pulling her gently closer, he eased back onto his stool.

"Yes?" Elisa edged closer until she was standing between his knees. She let her finger tips trail up his forearms in a casual caress. The corners of her mouth lifted faintly when she heard his breathing hitch.

"I, ah, there is one more thing I wish to address." Her eyes focused on his lips, reminding the gargoyle of the kiss she'd granted him days ago. Was she thinking about it too? He swallowed with effort while his stomach tightened.

"Which is?" She leaned in, her arms stealing upward to his shoulders, making his mind whirl in a heated panic.

"Coupling!" he blurted. They froze, both surprised at his outburst.

"Um," Elisa blushed in spite of herself. That was probably the most risqué term he'd ever used in his life.

Goliath rolled his eyes skyward and pressed them closed, cursing himself. That certainly could have come out better. What was wrong with him? She'd touched him this way many times before, although perhaps not with same intentions, but it had never made his mind cease to function before!

"Something on your mind, Big Guy?" She giggled and drew back.

"Forgive me, I didn't mean-"

"Are you sure?"

"Elisa, please." His serious face was back, making her teasing smirk dissolve. I meant to say that I think any physical intimacy between us should be avoided."

"W-what?" Elisa gaped, stunned, and pushed herself away. She tried not to look hurt when she asked, "Are- are you not attracted to me that way?"

" I believe I am as attracted to you as you are to me." Her eyes narrowed. He'd offended her, though that wasn't the intention.

"That's very diplomatic, but it's not an answer." Her tone was terse, but Goliath felt he had to be firm in this. "What would you have me say? That I cannot survive without loving you physically? I can. And for your safety, I should."

She gasped. That stung, and he'd better take it back in a hurry. As twitchy as he was tonight, a good lay was probably just what he needed, and the way she was feeling now, she just might tell him so! "My safety? What does that have to do with- with coupling?" She had had to repeat his mechanical term out of embarrassment. How could she use the word 'sex' with someone who was apparently prepared to remain abstinent forever?

Acutely uncomfortable, he could not help growling. "Love between gargoyles can often be rough. If it went too far, you could be very seriously hurt. I am sworn to protect you; you know I cannot allow that to happen."

"Fine, but you can't pledge lasting love and then say you're not attracted to me. That's just cruel. What do you do when I- If you're just going through the motions, there's not even any point in kissing you!"

"I'm more than willing to kiss-" He stopped, though it was already too late. She had her answer. The pair of them paused again, each considering the other.

"More than willing," she mused, nodding her head. So then you are attracted to me, a little."

"More than a little." He conceded with a sigh. "It would be easier if-"

"If I were a gargoyle? Or if you were human? I'm in this because of you, not because it's easy." She came back to him, wrapping her arms around his neck. Laying his large hands over her hips seemed more natural for him in this moment than before.

"Okay, I think maybe we're getting a little ahead of ourselves. Let's just agree to take things slow, and we'll see where it leads us." He nodded once in acquiescence. "But you will kiss me. Now." Grey eyes snapped to hers in bewilderment. He looked away nervously, feeling his stomach tighten all over again.

"Elisa, I don't-"

"Please?" she said gently. "Look, I'll start. Just relax, close your eyes, and join in when it feels right."

Finding it easy to trust in her soothing and confident demeanor, Goliath obeyed. She wasted no time. In a heartbeat her warm lips were moving over his. The sweet smell of her enveloped him. Her slender body in his grasp made his heart swell with a protective longing, heightening everything he already felt for her. He felt a small hand comb through the hair at the back of his head and made a small growl of pleasure. It would be a bold move if she were a gargoyle, and though Elisa didn't know, it excited him. She pulled softly on his bottom lip as she made to break away, but he didn't want it to end so soon and wrenched her back against him. He tried ardently then to mimic her kissing and was happy to hear her quiet hum of approval. Just as before, Elisa's kiss was everything.