Elisa walked briskly down the hall of her building toward her front door. She had to get inside. He was due in 15 minutes. She had done all she could to keep him from coming as soon as the sun had gone down.
Hefting the paper grocery bags a bit higher, she groped for her house keys with her two free fingers. She had really needed to go shopping, but the detective had to admit to herself that it had ultimately been an excuse. She was avoiding him, which was exactly what she didn't want to do, and exactly what she didn't want Goliath to think.
Way to show your true colors, Maza, her inner dialog berated. She sighed mentally at that mean little voice. It was right.
After what happened on the castle tower last week, the irrepressible Detective Maza was an internal mess. She'd kissed him, for God's Sake! Was she crazy? What had possessed her to just lunge at a 300 lb. gargoyle like that? To make matters worse, she'd continued to act like an idiot ever since. She'd sighed like a thirteen-year-old girl at the love songs that played in the supermarket, and stared off into space while on patrol, running two red lights. There were mushy movies recording on her DVR, not to mention completely zoning out on a witness in Central Park yesterday because she was too busy watching a pair of swans. It was so frustrating to catch herself acting this way but she knew the cause, even if she couldn't say it.
I'm in love with him.
She wanted to see Goliath more than anything; had wanted to go to him every night since they had shared their feelings that morning. Except that they hadn't shared anything. Not really. In reality, it had taken all that was left of her rapidly fading, adrenaline induced, nerve to say, "You know how I feel about you, right?" He had said "yes" before she had completely lost her mind and jumped at him, but what did he say yes to? She hadn't confessed anything of value. True, words could scarcely express everything she felt for Goliath, but she should damn well have tried! She might have said how much she admired him for his dedication in protecting the city, thanked him for his selflessness in saving mankind, or at least say that she found him attractive. Instead, she'd given nothing away until she'd latched on to his face!
At first, it felt great. She'd smiled all the way home that morning. But the next night, the scene began to replay in her mind and six days later it all looked like a terrible mistake. There was no question he'd been surprised. Who could blame him? Did gargoyles even kiss each other in the first place? Elisa didn't know, in fact she knew next to nothing about gargoyle courtship. It had never come up in any conversation she could remember. Why would it? Did he even know what that kiss was supposed to mean? With late night television at his disposal, he had to know about kissing, right? That made the detective frown. With late night T.V. as a guide to human intimacy, he was almost sure to get the wrong idea. Goliath always struck her as rather straight laced, so when Elisa suddenly thought about all the 900 number commercials she'd ever seen, it almost made her groan. It would look like she'd thrown herself at him. What would sweet, sensitive Goliath think of her now?
However much he had learned in their three years of acquaintance, Goliath was still a tenth century warrior in his ideals. To a man with his gentle demeanor and courtly manners, such a bold physical move could only come from a woman of loose morals. That was the heart of her worries right there, that he would be disgusted by her forward behavior and tell her in that stern, commanding, clan leader voice that he was totally uninterested. That was the voice he used when he called her at the station yesterday.
She'd been totally floored when he called her at work last night insisting to see her. "I must speak with you." He'd said. She'd felt like a child caught in the act of something naughty. Thankfully, her police training and experience instantly kicked in a beat later as she politely addressed him as "sir", and told him that would not be possible, smoothly agreeing to meet with him the following night. It was her night off and she had some errands to run, but 8:30 should give her plenty of time to complete them. She thought she heard a growl, but he had agreed. So she couldn't be late now.
Finally coming to her apartment, Elisa jammed her key into the lock with frustrated force and bumped the door open with her hip. Stepping into her dark apartment, she had only enough time to nudge the door with her foot when he spoke. "You're late." She let out a startled gasp and jumped backward, pressing her back into her front door and closing it with a loud bang. He was only a foot away from her at most. The produce had tumbled to the floor, oranges went rolling across the carpet but he was so close, Elisa couldn't get down to pick them up.
"Goliath! I-I didn't see you," She sputtered breathlessly. In fact she still couldn't see him. The only light came from the window behind him, the glow of the city and the moon barely there.
"But I can see you perfectly." His tone was almost playful. What was he planning? "You were expecting me, weren't you?" Large wings flared out blocking most of the meager light and making her squint to see his features. His hair had a funny cast in the moon light, she decided. Why hadn't she ever noticed before?
"I asked you to come. I was just hoping to beat you here so I could get dinner started and", she stopped when he buried his face in her hair unexpectedly.
"I'm afraid I'm not hungry food," he breathed against her temple. In all honesty, this was kind of hot, but somehow it still felt wrong. All this close contact in the dark was odd, like he was trying too hard to be mysterious. She edged right, toward the kitchen and the nearest light switch. "Er, let me just turn on the -"
"No." He blocked her movement with his body, and Elisa felt him tear the groceries away, heard them crash to the floor where he flung them. She squeaked in surprise, and heard his dark chuckle as he pressed impossibly closer. "I can see you perfectly." This couldn't be- Surely this wasn't, turning him on? He was tense against her just inches from her face. Her heart pounding loud in her ears, she felt chill with sudden fear. Something was terribly wrong, he had never made her feel afraid before. Goliath didn't act like this, not with her. He caught her shoulders in a bruising grip, Ember-red eyes glowed with barely contained violence.
Thailog! Her mind screamed frantically. He surged forward, crushing Elisa's body against the door, the fangs of his open mouth nicking her bottom lip. His tongue forced its way in and Elisa, overtaken with outrage, wasted only a few seconds before clenching her teeth down hard on the offending flesh.
Her attacker made a heavy grunt of displeasure before thick talons clenched around her throat and his face ripped away from her. He turned into the shadows for a moment, wiping at his mouth with his free hand. "That was uncalled for detective." He sounded annoyed. Good. "I would have played Goliath for you a little longer."
"I bet you would." Elisa tried not to choke, tried to loosen his grip on her neck with her fingers. Goliath was coming. He would be here soon. She just had to hold out until then.
"Now you've ruined the game, you'll just have to make do with me." He abruptly released her, but was just as quick to restrain Elisa by her upper arms. "Shall we start again?" He asked silkily while pulling her against him.
A little panicked, the detective took a shot at his groin with her knee. It was not her first choice of attacks, but out-gunned as she was, there weren't many options open. She only succeeded in grazing her target, but that was more than enough to get herself thrown to the floor. Thailog didn't give her the chance to get up. Elisa pushed herself up from the carpet in time to see the shadowy fist coming at her. Her world exploded into colored lights and her body lay still.
Goliath let his frustration take his wings as he made his way to Elisa's apartment, spiraling around the city's obstacles in hope that the exercise would calm his emotional state. She had called him Sir! As if he was just another person; just another telephone call, just another meaningless interaction! What had she been playing at? Was this part of that 'hard-to-get' game humans played with each other? After all this wasted time, goliath was no longer interested in games! If she thought she could brush him aside like any other male- His left wing tip brushed a power line. He growled to himself reigning his temper in favor of safety.
He wasn't being fair. Of course she had probably had an audience when she'd been speaking to him, and had to make it sound like any other conversation. But it still hurt to be spoken to as though it wasn't important that he wanted to see her. After a whole week without any contact, he was desperate to hear from her. Didn't she miss him? The way he missed her? After she'd let him stroke her soft hair and touch her face so intimately, after she'd kissed him of her own volition, he thought for sure she'd be back as soon as the sun set again. When he'd awoken on an empty tower instead, Goliath had had to remind himself that the 23rd precinct had recently been attacked. It was more than plausible that Elisa was too busy to see them. But was it unreasonable to think she could manage a few minutes for them in week? If she really meant what her kiss implied, she might have at least been the one to call him! Though perhaps that was unreasonable too. Males were supposed to do the courting of females, not the other way around.
Veering west, the leader of the Manhattan Clan pondered again the conclusion he'd come to in the past week of her absence; that Elisa's behavior since the Hunter's Moon could mean one of two things. Either she meant to make herself receptive to his attentions and was waiting for him to make the next move, or she would give him a set down when he arrived tonight. It crushed him to think that the latter was probably the most likely to happen. Other males, like the hunter Jason, would vie for her attention, and Goliath knew he could never compete with a man who could take her to wife, provide for her and give her children. Oh, he'd been so happy with their stolen moment on the tower. For so long he had hoped his human companion might look upon him with love, that each might heal the other's loneliness. Now that moment was gone forever, leaving his heart heavy with doubt. Breathing deeply, the gargoyle resolved to face whatever fate might have in store for him. Circling Elisa's rooftop apartment once, he dropped in to land.
The apartment was dark, so it wasn't until he got to the window that he saw it standing open. She was expecting to meet him, perhaps she had left it open herself, though she had never done so before. Quiet as a shadow, the gargoyle stepped carefully over the sill. He expected the welcoming cry of Elisa's cat, Cagney, who was always happy to see any gargoyle visitor. Tonight however, the apartment was still, there was no greeting of any kind. Looking around for the absent feline, Goliath saw something round by the entryway. An orange, upon closer inspection.
He froze. Not just an orange. Grapes and some leafy greens lay limp, barely inside their torn paper sack. Milk pooled on the kitchen tile around a cracked milk carton next to a few spots of blood. Blood! A struggle! Elisa had been here, and he was too late! Keen nostrils flared, taking in the salty sweat of Elisa's fear, the metal of human blood. She had bled! Been frightened in her own home, and he only minutes away! Heavy guilt seeped in his gut, but there wasn't time for that. Her womanly scent was fading, she was gone and he must pick up the trail before any more time went by. Crouching on the floor, the gargoyle tried in vain to pick up a distinguishing scent-mark from the blood. It wasn't hers, so at least she hadn't been seriously hurt. Cold consolation.
Removing the small radio from the pouch on his belt, Goliath called his clan, summoning Hudson his second, Brooklyn. Both arrived in minutes, uneasy over their leader's frantic communication, and further dismayed by the mess on scene.
"She was taken." Hudson stated calmly. Stooping over the mess of groceries, the old warrior scented the air delicately. Sifting through the bouquet cilantro, citrus, salt and yeast, he identified what Goliath couldn't, that the blood droplets smelled like Thailog.
"No Way!" Brooklyn turned on the light by the sofa. "He's supposed to be dead!"
"Aye, well, it wasn't any deid mun bleedin' in th' kitchen."
The lavender gargoyle stared at his elder, sitting down in the nearest dining chair. "I couldn't smell him," their leader said more to himself than anyone. "Thailog has been here waiting for her, and I couldn't tell."
"Dinna be too hard on yerself, lad." He gripped the younger gargoyle by the shoulder in support. "His scent is too close to yer own, it would be more difficult for you to catch." The elder studied his former pupil with concern. "An' you can bet he didna come in here w'blood on 'im. Our lass did that."
"Hey," Brooklyn called their attention from the hall. "He's been back here too." Brooklyn followed his nose down the hall, leading the other two. The bathroom door was open at the end with contents of the medicine cabinet scattered all across the counter, spilling into the floor. The door on the left was open too. A feline hiss sounded somewhere in the darkness. Red talons flicked the light on, revealing another mess.
Overall, the clan second liked the bedroom décor. The bed had a wrought iron frame, and there were black accents throughout, but the rest was done in light colors. To him, the bed seemed overlarge for one small detective, but the printed bedclothes of light blue and sea green had a calming effect. Curtains over the window matched the blue in the bed spread, as did the pale green dresser across the room. If the place hadn't been ransacked, it could be quite cozy.
As it was now, it looked like there had been a fight. Sliding doors had been pushed open revealing a colorful array of clothing. It was mostly half hanging above a pile of apparently discarded things and broken hangers. There were some shoes still in the closet, but most had been strewn about the bedroom floor. Someone had gone through her dresser too. Taking in the white flowers painted around the handle, instead of looking at the lacey things inside, Brooklyn pushed one drawer shut. "Oh." Like the last piece of a puzzle, closing the one drawer revealed the three long gashes that trailed down the face of the bureau. "Cagney," the red gargoyle began worriedly.
"He's doon here." Hudson assured from the floor. He spoke softly to the space under the bed. "C'mon on now, my lad. Yer safe."
Goliath hadn't thought to search the rest of the apartment, so focused was he on where Elisa had been attacked. She hadn't gotten any farther than her front door, and he hadn't been able to pick up anything else. He felt guilty entering this room, as he'd never been invited here before. He felt a bit sick standing in the devastation that should be Elisa's private space.
"Do you think he took anything?" Brooklyn wondered.
"If he did, we wouldn't know." Hudson scooped up the still wary cat. "The real question is, why take her? Why now?"
The young warrior laughed mirthlessly. "The guy's short one Delilah, isn't he? I think we can guess!"
Goliath winced and turned away, heading back to the main room. Hudson cuffed the clan second on the head with his free hand. "Are there rocks in yer heid? Don't say enna thing like that when we get home, understand? Goliath's a big lad, but you'll make Angela cry, an' we're not havin' that!"
They came out to find their leader in the kitchen, stowing the grocery bags in the fridge. "We will leave now. Perhaps Xanatos can tell us something." His elder nodded, and his second said nothing, but followed.