This is the second Gargoyles fic I've posted, and if you've read the other one you'll see that this covers the same scenario: the first meeting of Demona and Xanatos. There's a story behind this.
A few years ago, I wrote a story for submission to the Gathering of the Gargoyles anthology. Then, Nemi read it and pointed out all the problems, so I scrapped the idea of submitting that one, but did post it online. Then I wrote this version, which was accepted into the anthology. I didn't get anything out of it but a free copy, but it was still pretty cool. Part of the deal was that, since the anthology was for sale, I wouldn't post the story online for at least a year afterwards.
It's been a lot more than a year, so here it is.
Xanatos cinched his coat tighter around himself and watched the sky. "Owen, what time is it?"
Owen checked his watch. "Six fifty-seven, Mr. Xanatos."
Xanatos looked up, shading his eyes to avoid the rays of the setting sun. "I don't hear a helicopter. I hope your consultant isn't late, Owen."
"I assure you, Mr. Xanatos, that while the sorceress I contacted may be eccentric, she is as eager to have access to the Grimorum Arcanorum as you are to have it used."
"Still. An outside consultant. I'd much rather keep this in-house." He would much prefer a tame mage, someone under his thumb. He had plans for this book.
"I am sorry, Mr. Xanatos, but under the terms of our contract I am unable to assist you."
"I'm not complaining about your service, Owen. It is exemplary as always." He frowned. "Still, asking to meet me at the top of my building at sundown."
"It is a reasonable request, under the circumstances, Mr. Xanatos."
"It had better be." It was cold out here, the wind whipping around the top of the still-unfinished Eyre Building, soon to be the tallest in New York. Owen was being deliberately mysterious. It was slightly out of character. Which meant that this was something important. Some surprise.
Xanatos knew he wouldn't be disappointed.
"Ah, I believe that is her now." Owen tapped him on the should and pointed.
Xanatos squinted through the gloom. The safety lights had turned on when the sunlight waned, but it was still dark. He made out a figure in a cloak on top of some girders. The figure jumped down off them, a height of about thirty feet, onto the temporary helicopter platform they stood on, coat flapping in the wind behind her, ending up in a crouch.
Far too high for an ordinary person to jump. Xanatos smiled. "I believe you are right as usual, Owen."
"Mr. Xanatos," Owen said as the figure approached, "allow me to introduce Ms. Demona."
"Just Demona, tricksy one. I do not accept human modes of address." Owen's consultant had blue skin. And that wasn't a coat. Fascinating.
He had known Owen wouldn't disappoint.
"A pleasure to meet you." Xanatos gave her his most ingratiating smile. "I take it you are one of Owen's relatives?"
She scowled. "I am no child of Oberon, human. I am a Gargoyle, a member of the First Race, not the Third." She turned to Owen. "Show me the book."
"Demona, I would like to introduce my employer, Mr. David Xanatos." Owen didn't miss a beat.
"The Puck, serving a human?" She looked at him, clearly thinking he didn't deserve the honor.
"We have an arrangement. Owen has been in my employ since I started Xanatos Enterprises. He is the key member of my staff." Good help was far more valuable than a wish, no matter what it had cost him to give up a chance at magic.
He had the Grimorum, the most powerful spell book known to man, thanks to Owen's service.
David Xanatos always got the better of a deal.
"That is not important to me. Show me the book, human." Her tail thrashed, impatient, and she was glaring slightly. Temper, temper.
He opened his briefcase and took out the Grimorum Arcanorum. She tried to hide it, but his skills at reading people apparently extended to even Gargoyles. She recognized it, she wanted it. Needed it.
So he would have a hold over this consultant.
"Give it to me, human!"
"Without a contract? I'm a businessman, Demona. I didn't get this far," he gestured expansively at this small slice of his domain, "by just giving something as valuable as access to this book away."
She grimaced. "What do you want, human?"
"What everyone wants. Money, power, eternal life." He grinned at her.
She laughed. "Be careful what you wish for, human."
"Careful? I'm always careful. But I also didn't get this far by not taking risks. I'm sure someone of your obvious power understands that."
Owen had moved off to the side and was talking into his cell phone with a slightly annoyed expression on his face. Probably the Australian Ambassador had found out Xanatos wasn't going to be at the meeting about the tariffs.
He had more important business going on. Xanatos Enterprises could afford to miss out on one minor deal. He'd make that billion up tomorrow.
This was much more important.
It wasn't every day he got to see a real, live Gargoyle.
He would have to remedy that.
This Demona certainly wasn't overdressed. He liked redheads. She reminded him of Fox.
She was a predator like Fox.
Good, that would make it more interesting.
"You are correct, Xanatos." She had used his name. That was a step in the right direction. "But then, I have learned much through the centuries."
Centuries? He tried to hide his spark of interest.
She smiled like she'd just scored a point. She must have seen. So no point in denying it. "Centuries?"
"Yes, Xanatos. Centuries."
"Well now. I can see you are everything Owen promised." A little flattery could move mountains.
"Yes, I can cast a spell to grant you immortality. There is one in the Grimorum Arcanorum."
"And in exchange you want access to the book?" He held it out. She grabbed at it, but he snatched it away. She pretended she hadn't meant to take it to maintain her dignity.
"I will give you my terms after I can see the book, Xanatos."
"Why do you need that first?"
"You do not need to know."
"Oh, I think I do. It is my book, after all." He smiled at her.
She grimaced. "The Grimorum Arcanorum contains a certain spell. It was cast one thousand years ago. I need to know the counterspell, which is also be in that book."
"I thought no one but the previous owners knew what spells this book contains?"
"I have read it before, Xanatos. I simply do not remember the counter."
"Perfect." He smiled at her. "What sort of spell is this?" Owen had finished the call and was stepping closer to the two of them.
"It is," she cut herself off. She clearly didn't want to tell him. It was clearly something that would give him leverage over her if he knew.
"Come now, if we're going to be working together we need to trust each other." He gave her his winning smile again.
"I trust no hu—" There was venom in her voice before she silenced herself. "It is not a spell that is any danger to you."
"It clearly is important to you that this spell is broken." What an understatement. "Should we make it part of the deal that in exchange for your services and my immortality you have my assistance in breaking it?"
"I won't need your help, Xanatos. I just need to see the book."
"Will you give me your word that if I let you see the book you will cast whatever spells for me that I need?"
"Yes." She held out her hand. "Now give it to me!"
Xanatos glanced at Owen, who met his eyes and nodded slightly. "It's a pleasure doing business with you, Demona."
She took it with a look of triumph on her face. How long had she been waiting for this?
Gratitude was a fickle thing. There was always a danger in paying up front. Owen thought it was a good idea, however, and he trusted Owen.
Yes, even the great Xanatos was capable of trust. He would have to work on that.
She quickly paged through the book eyes skimming glancing once at each of the pages. Until she came to the back of the book. Was what she had been looking for not there? There was a flash of fear. There was a piece of parchment tucked in against the back cover. She read something there, hate filling her eyes.
Then she resolutely turned back to the beginning, spending more time on each page.
He could tell when she found the spell she was looking for, her eyes widened in excitement.
She fell to the ground, book slipping out of her hands. Xanatos dived to catch it. "No!" she screamed, fists beating the floor. "Curse you, Magus! Curse you and all the traitors, the humans!"
Xanatos looked at the page and resolved to learn Latin. As soon as he had the time. Which, at this rate, would be sometime the millennium after the next one. He handed the book to Owen, who adjusted his glasses and read.
"Those who this spell cast into eternal slumber in stone may be awakened when their home rises above the clouds."
"Castle Wyvern is in ruins! Even with the strongest magic, how could the whole castle possibly be picked up at once without falling to pieces!" Demona slammed her fists on the ground. "Curse you, Magus!"
"So some of your friends were turned to stone? Other Gargoyles?" Interesting.
"Yes. The Vikings attacked and," she shook her head, ending the tale. "It is impossible. I will never recover my clan!"
Xanatos patted her on the shoulder, smiling. "Oh, I wouldn't say that."
She looked at him, half desperate hope and half desperate hate in her eyes. If he was lying, she would use those claws of hers to rip him to shreds. "What?!"
"I hate doing things that already have been done, but I could make an exception."
"Levitating an entire castle thousands of feet into the sky has been done?"
"Not exactly." He looked around at his unfinished tower. He hadn't quite liked the design for the top anyway. "Moving a castle to America has been done before. Moving a castle to the top of a skyscraper, my. The idea has a certain appeal. A man's home is his castle, after all." He grinned. He liked this idea.
Her eyes widened. "You will do this? Awaken my clan?"
She clearly cared a lot about this clan of hers. Doing this would give him a lot of leverage. Not to mention the fact that the idea held a lot of appeal. "Where is this 'Castle Wyvern?'" he asked Owen.
"Scotland, Mr. Xanatos."
"Excellent, Owen. Cancel my appointments for tomorrow and arrange for my private jet to take me there." He rubbed his hands together briskly. His own castle. He'd wanted one when he was a boy.
And what point was there in being obscenely wealthy if it didn't get him what he wanted? Like real, live spell books.
"Xanatos. If you do this, you will have my gratitude." She straightened and visibly recovered her composure, eyes hardening.
He didn't quite trust her. No, he didn't trust her at all. She was ancient, and there was ancient hate there.
Like she would bring this Magus back to life if she could, in order to tear him apart. The way she had kept saying human like it was an insult. It was one, to her.
She had centuries of experience with deceit.
He would have to watch her.
She might even be a worthy opponent.
Castle Wyvern. He even liked the name. He remembered reading stories of knights when he was a boy. A Wyvern was a small, clever, poisonous dragon.
How appropriate. He'd always rooted for the dragons. The knights were saps. It was always the villains who had the right idea.
If he brought these other Gargoyles back to life, he would have their gratitude as well. If they had been asleep for centuries, they would be adrift in time. Alone in the world, no friends but Demona and himself. Their only familiar ground in his possession. Their home.
Less suspicious than Demona. Win their loyalty and he would have another tie binding his new sorceress to him. Who knew? They might be useful in their own right.
Plans whirled in his mind as he answered Demona. "No need to thank me. It's just good business, after all. Doing well by doing good."
"I will need the Grimorum, to see if there are any other necessary steps."
He shook his head. "The counter is what I have told you."
Xanatos took the book from him and tucked it carefully back in his briefcase, noting how Demona's eyes followed it.
She would only hold up her end of the bargain as long as he had what she needed. The book, and the chance to rescue this clan of hers.
She knew, surely, that he didn't really care about any of them, except as potential pawns. Valuable pawns, perhaps.
This book was the key. "I should get back the day after tomorrow. Shall we meet again then?"
"At sunset, Xanatos."
"I will put it on the calendar, Mr. Xanatos."
"Excellent." He smiled at her. "Until then."
"Until then." She jumped off the edge of the building.
So she could fly. He could think of several uses for agents who could fly.
Gargoyles. He considered asking Owen, but no. Owen didn't discuss what Puck knew. Arranging this meeting with Demona had been an exception.
The key was this book. He handed the briefcase back to Owen. "There was something at the end that she read. Translate it and the spell itself and give them to me on the plane tomorrow."
"Certainly, Mr. Xanatos."
He looked up and saw a shape in the sky. Laughing, he mused, "Owen, I think this is the start of a beautiful friendship."