As pleased as he had been with their time in the dining room, the rest of the evening quickly dissolved Thailog's good mood. After relinquishing Elisa to her care of the child, he had gone immediately to his office with the intention of working. It took some effort, but after several minutes, the allure of his investment portfolios succeeded in putting some distance between him and the events in the lower level hall.
But only some. Two floors below where he now sat, an unfamiliar feeling had struck him like the bite of a snake, a flash of realization followed by a slow moving and poisonous feeling that left him unexpectedly at odds with himself. The pressing need of his loins had still been there, and yet had suddenly seemed unimportant. In the place of passion, something arose which he could not name.
The emotions the detective had worn on her face were things he was accustomed to seeing on the faces of his enemies. Fear, anger, even determination were things he recognized, but from her, in the midst of touching her soft skin and hearing his blood rush to meet her, whatever it was smacked of failure. It had all but robbed him of speech, and he couldn't remember anything having done that before.
His confused contemplation of this new problem distracted him from his accounting, and in short order his eyes were being more often drawn to the security monitor sitting complacently on the far corner of the desk.
Observing her with the child over the top edges of financial documents, provoked two more emotions he was not accustomed to feeling. The first was guilt.
As he watched the object of his desires move about the locked laboratory, it became increasingly obvious that she was favoring her midsection. The hatchling was quite small, yet she seemed to be having difficulty lifting the child for more than a few moments. Instead, she padded down the counter and laid the child down there while she did her best to clean up after it. The detective watched the door all the while, clearly expecting him at any moment, which explained her undue haste in her routine of basic care and feeding. But when he did not come, and the hatchling had apparently eaten her fill, Elisa remained mostly sedentary, sitting with apparent discomfort in one of the two padded chairs present. Had she been moving so stiffly all evening? He had been staring at her most of the night, but he hadn't noticed anything amiss while they'd been together. He knew humans injured more easily than gargoyles did, but surely he hadn't done so much damage with his light reprimands?
Or maybe he had. The bruising on her face was taking practically forever to go away, and he had been very satisfied to see she had covered it prior to his arrival tonight. He would have to take better care not to do any permanent damage in the future. Small things were easily remedied with a little time and patience, but all the same, he felt better after making a quick telephone call, and gaining her an "appointment".
Once that bit of business was concluded, Thailog resumed his surveillance, watching as the detective proceeded to give the hatchling, whom she addressed as "Baby", her full attention. She talked to it, as though she expected it to answer, and then carried on bits of conversation as though it had answered. The gargoyle had wondered briefly if she were half mad, when suddenly, the child responded; much to the apparent delight of her new mother. It was only a nonsensical noise of course, but it was gleeful, and it was obvious how pleased the infant was to have Elisa's attention.
It occurred to him that the Maza woman was doing something he had never seen her do in his presence. Smiling. Happily even. She laughed softly at the infant's antics, and looked upon the thing with such a look of tenderness-
Shock threatened to overtake his mind. This was the reaction he sought for himself! How had that barely conscious lump of life managed to win her over so effortlessly? What had it managed to do but exist? And only that by his own aid and design!
He continued to watch in absolute perplexity, accounts completely forgotten, as they interacted so seamlessly, so easily, it was as if they had always been together. He listened as the detective's voice became light and playful as she threatened "tickling", and then to the infant who laughed uncontrollably at whatever this actually entailed. Elisa laughed with it, and then they were laughing seemingly just to please each other.
The clock by the door chimed the hour, but Thailog barely heard. He was listening to what he was sure was his father's Elisa sing to his child, play with it in the floor, and murmur stories and poetry, all the while keeping almost constant physical contact. The infant clutched at her hair with tiny talons when she kissed its brow ridges, and curled its' tail around her wrist when she fingered its' little toes, basking in her affections.
The hatchling was nothing beyond what it appeared, yet Elisa was clearly captivated. All his wealth and power, all the protection and comfort he could offer were as naught compared to a creature that drooled on itself.
So it was that though he had never felt the sensation before, the gargoyle knew jealousy when it came upon him, and was for once grateful for an interruption.
"Relief" did not begin to describe the detectives' feelings on being alone with her hatchling. The discomfort of her midsection did wear on her, especially after holding the baby for a few minutes, but it had been totally worth it to see her smile and laugh. She talked to Baby in a gentle tone while she wiped her plum skin clean, and offered her the gruel Thailog seemed to think was food, but she didn't get much of a response until she began tending to the bite on her own shoulder.
Little nostrils flared as Elisa applied the stinging antiseptic. As those curious little eyes followed her dabbing movements, her caretaker reflected that gargoyle senses were sharper than human ones. She wondered if her baby could smell her blood, and whether or not she could yet put it together that Thailog was the cause. Elisa thought sadly that if she hadn't, she would soon. Her baby's father was a monster, and the knowledge made her feel inexplicably guilty.
She had fallen silent without realizing it, and had broken eye contact so she could examine her bite wound. The hatchling's attention did not wander however, as the detective proceeded to tape a gauze pad over the minor seepage of blood.
When the detective turned her attention back to her charge, she was greeted by an exultant squeal that made her melancholy evaporate away. Suddenly it was a conversation, and the child made some gurgling response to everything Elisa said.
Spreading some of the labs' spare linens over the floor to make a play area seemed like a natural thing to Elisa. It was something she would have done at home in her real life without any thought as to why. The tactic made even more sense now, since she had her own weaknesses to consider. .
The punch she'd taken from Thailog in this very room still ached with almost every move she made, however, her other trials were more important. Things like food, escape, and being kept constantly under lock and key, had put little things like physical pain on a back burner. Healing wounds were easy to ignore once you got used to them. Add to that her almost constant hunger, and stomach pain became a given, something she could overlook if she focused on something else. She was a little disappointed in herself for acknowledging her injuries to Thailog; striking her where he knew she was hurt was cruel, but she should have expected that from him.
But it made him stop, her mind observed. The minute she made her hurt known, he'd backed off. And released her. That wasn't cruelty, that was…mercy? But why? Elisa knew Thailog didn't want her to be seriously injured, that was why he had pulled his punch in the first place. Did he,- was he trying to be kind? No, that didn't fit; he was more likely trying to exhibit kindness, rather than having any change of heart or character. He wanted sex, and whether or not that was his only motive it was too soon to tell.
For now though, it was just her and the baby. Being able to lie on her stomach across the cold tile floor helped to numb the pain, and meant that she didn't have to hold the weight of a child against her bruises. It also had the added benefit of putting her and Baby on the same level.
Elisa had never considered herself an entertainer, but she did have a terrific memory. "The Owl and the Pussycat" had been one of her favorite poems as a child. She hadn't thought about it in years, but every word was etched in her memory, waiting for the right audience she supposed. Iambic pentameter flowed easily in her voice, putting Baby entirely in thrall.
"…You elegant fowl! How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married, too long we have tarried,
But what shall we do for a ring?..."
Little lips moved as bright eyes followed every move of the detective's mouth. She's quite the little sponge, Elisa thought as she came to the line about the land of the "Bong Tree". She loved those eyes, especially the smoky blue color so close in shade to Goliath's grays.
The memory made her stumble over the last line of the poem, making Baby blink and stare questioningly. "Don't worry Baby," the detective soothed, "it's just that you remind me of someone." She paused before quietly confessing, "I miss him."
But she didn't want to get into that now. It didn't matter that Baby couldn't comprehend her words, it was that saying them meant thinking them, and that would hurt more than anything else had. It was better to stay in the land of make believe, than to teach her baby about tears.
So then perhaps she ought to practice her storytelling now, when it didn't matter what she said so long as she said it? The detective cleared her throat. "Once upon a time, there lived a gargoyle prince, who ruled an island city from the top of a shining tower…"
The hatchling had begun to nod off when he returned, his presence bringing the detective disappointment if not surprise. But Baby was surprised, and perhaps a little frightened. She had scented him before she saw him, Elisa noted, having watched the minute twitch of her little nose before her eyes had snapped open.
Elisa sat up, making an effort to hide any discomfort she felt, and cradled the infant gargoyle in her arms as she rose to her feet.
She might have said something about putting Baby back in the maturation chamber, or maybe made a snarky comment about her captor being late, but her only motive for speaking to him was to ward him off, and tonight she didn't get the chance. As soon as the doors to the lab had opened, he was striding toward her. Toward them; an idea which had Elisa practically dashing to the cold cylindrical machine that would protect her baby.
Shoved hurriedly inside the tight space that sealed her away from her only friendly contact, Baby kicked and rolled, managing to right herself only as her playmate sealed her within transparent walls. Bracing her little talons on the offending barrier, the hatchling rose up on her knees, attempting without hope to get back to her protector's warm embrace. Through the glass she saw the face of the great menace, rising up from behind the woman who watched her with sadness. He frightened her, and made the woman sad. He pulled the hatchling's companion away, beyond the door from whence they came, and the light followed them out. When they had gone, and the big room outside her cage was dark, the hatchling began to cry. She would have to be lonely and hungry again before anyone would return.
Instead of going back to her room, as Elisa had expected, after ascending the steel stairway, Thailog lead her through a new door off the main hall. He used the key card here too, and ushered her into a sparsely furnished office done in varying shades of green. Once inside, he allowed his grip on her arm to slacken, and Elisa took the opportunity to put a few steps of space between them. The place seemed harmless enough until the high backed leather desk chair spun to face them seemingly of its own accord.
The sudden appearance of a familiar face made the detective freeze. Anton Sevarius smirked at her over steepled fingers, marking this meeting for what it was: an ambush.
"What are you doing here?" She asked icily.
"The good doctor is in my employ," Thailog supplied from her left while Sevarius smiled and calmly opened a desk drawer. "And I took the liberty of making an appointment for you."
"Why?" She asked, slowly sidestepping away from them both. She wanted to put up any fight she could against the man who had mutilated her brother, and she would need room to do it.
"I would have come in a few more days anyway," Sevarius answered, having the gall to smile at her. "But your, ah, new beau, was concerned for your health, and gave me a ring." He'd taken a loaded syringe from the desk, and started to come around the desk.
"He has a funny way of showing concern," she glared at the doctor hard enough that his smarmy smirk faltered for a moment, "And I don't need any medical attention for you."
"Nevertheless," He said, maintaining the façade of politeness, "I think we should start with a general exam."
He had been approaching with a calm caution, but eventually, he came within striking distance. When he did, Elisa didn't hesitate to strike, kicking the syringe out of his hand and across the room before he could react. His head turned to watch it twirling through the air, which meant that he missed any warning of another attack. Actually, it was the second half of the same attack. The detective kept moving after kicking the needle away, charging through the doctor's personal space to throw a right cross at his temple. He went down, as she'd known he would. She was poised to hit him again when Thailog intervened, as she'd also expected.
Thailog caught her left arm by the elbow, hauling her away from Sevarius. She struggled even as he pulled her into a tight hug. She expected pain beyond the tenderness of her bruises, the new pain of new punishment. However, she had also expected the gargoyle to be angry, and instead found him to be very amused.
"That was very nicely done, my dear," he said in an almost reverent tone while stroking the side of her face with his thumb. Elisa found herself stunned to speechlessness by the Goliath-like look of tenderness he bestowed on her. Goose bumps rose up on her arms; this was a 10 on her creep-o-meter.
"Collect yourself Sevarius," he commanded the recovering scientist, "She couldn't have hit you that hard." The doctor cast him an annoyed look, but Thailog's countenance remained pleasant as he rubbed his face, and began searing for the needle.
Restrained into facing only her captor, Elisa was still aware of his search, and of the impending injection. Now that the option of fighting had been denied her, she was left to face the unknown. She looked up at Thailog, but not at his eyes. "What are you going to do?" She asked, unable to keep her voice entirely steady.
"We're going to build a life together," he assured her with a note of pride. "For now he will treat you, and run some tests to be certain you're healthy. You've nothing to fear."
But she did fear, and his somewhat cryptic response did nothing to alleviate it. But she found nothing to say before hearing Sevarius's footsteps come up behind her.
Elisa gasped at the sting between her shoulder blades. The effect of the injection was almost immediate; her limbs were already feeling heavy. "This isn't going to work," she said, fighting for balance.
She was falling victim to dizziness, her knees refusing to support her. She would lose consciousness soon, and there was almost nothing she feared more than being helpless to the machinations of these two men.
"I know how you think this is gonna go, but you won't feel any differently about me. What you're chasing, that connection, you won't get it from me either."
The detective slowly lost control of her body. Thailog held her steadily upright, though she would have preferred to have fallen, and as her eyelids closed against her will, she heard him answer.
"I don't have to chase anything, I already have you."
That morning, a mere half hour before sunrise, Thailog stood staring down at the prone detective lying on the doctor's exam table. The last time he'd seen her naked, he'd been staring at the TV screen set in the wall of his private rooms. Linked to the motion sensitive security system, it showed him every moment of every day that passed in his home. Since Elisa's arrival, he had spent most of his viewing time watching the shapely detective in her room. Though his body had never failed to react at the sight of her more private moments, this morning was different.
Today, in the act of removing her clothes, his mind had been arrested by the sight of discolored skin. The unhealthy greens and mild yellows he could overlook, since most of that was masked by her golden skin tone, but the blackish blotches she currently sported could not be called enticing. It would never have bothered him so much if he could be sure it was only superficial. He could not however, and far from being able to imagine her screams of ecstasy, he could only recount the sound of pain she had made this evening outside the laboratory.
His staring at her made Sevarius uneasy; that much was obvious from the extreme involvement the man took in arranging his instruments and tuning his small humming machines. Perhaps if Thailog had used the sheet the sniveling pipsqueak had given him to cover her, the man would be more at ease. After all, no one could be more detached from his patients than Anton Sevarius. He much preferred to see people as specimens and samples, and it was things like well-placed sheets that ensured that point of view. Thailog gave very little thought to the doctor's opinion as a rule though, and that was not about to change. He was here for no other reason than his own piece of mind. At last irritated by a third clearing of the throat, the gargoyle fixed his accomplice with a stern red stare.
At some point, Sevarius had run out of things to fidget with while waiting for Thailog to have done with the detective and leave. He no longer had anything to do but stand still, periodically making some casual noise, and wondering what he could be doing while anticipating his employer's exit. He had failed to realize Thailog was expecting the same of him.
"Isn't there something else you need, Doctor?"
"Uh, no," he turned to inspect his instruments once more, glancing at the calibration display on the portable ultrasound. Everything seemed to be in perfect order. "No, I'm ready when you are." He smiled back.
"Well, I'm not." Thailog said curtly. "Why don't you go and find yourself some coffee or something?" Sevarius could hear the gargoyle's patience wearing thin in that pointed suggestion. After a stuttered apology, and assurances that he would return to work promptly at sunset, he backed his way out the door that connected to the green study.
"Alone at last," Thailog murmured to the insensate detective. She didn't react of course, and with her silent stillness as a constant, the violet of fresh blood beneath her skin looked all the more vibrant. He reached to touch her with light talons, smoothing large hands over warm skin as though he could brush the discoloration away. He closed his eyes, marveling at the softness of tender flesh over firm feminine musculature. As his touch slid easily up the line of her ribcage, a second hand joined the first in its journey.
He paused at the weight of her breasts, opening his eyes to her face. Though she was peaceful in repose, he knew she would probably not appreciate his inspection. She would not be happy that he had taken her clothes either, but Thailog had felt that that was definitely not a job for Anton!
His eyes and talons retreated reluctantly down her body once more, following the flare of her hips and stilling upon her thighs as he was struck by another unwelcome thought.
Would she be angry if it were my father who touched her?
She claimed there were no romantic feelings between them, but he knew she was probably lying. He'd seen the way his father looked at her in Paris, and he'd watched the emotions in his face at the first sight of Delilah. There were certainly intentions from his side if not hers.
How Goliath must be squirming to know Elisa was here with him, and under his thumb. Did she make his father feel strong with her comparative weakness, virile by her womanly shape? Did he pant for her like a dog? Thailog smiled at the very thought. Perhaps, when they had traveled together, he had watched her sleep. Maybe he had even been desperate enough to touch her through her clothes! He chuckled to think of the proud clan leader driven to madness over his attraction.
But that was not likely, Goliath would not have had the courage to attempt such a thing. And there was no sign on her body that he'd ever touched her that way. There were no light bruises that he had not given her himself, no sign of any love biting save his own, no indication of a gargoyle's affections at all. Goliath might have been too cowardly to show her his love, but his son would not be! She was his now, she would bear the marks of his loving!
Having laid claim to the detective in his own mind, Thailog's touch became a possessive grip above one of her knees. The rough hold of his talons sank into the skin on the inside of her thigh as he pushed her leg out. He leaned over her body, tucking his nose into her neck, taking in the scent of her hair. As he used his left hand to pull through her black tresses, his right remained lower. Insensitive to the punctures he'd made in her skin, he continued his caress of that inner thigh, anticipating the night he would finally part her legs in love, smearing her blood as he did so.
His time tonight grew short. The sun would rise soon and he could sense how little time he would have to lock himself away from the doctors reach. It was time to say goodbye to her. Feeling the necessity of a goodbye kiss, Thailog indulged himself in the luxury of the detective's throat. Kissing and suckling the spot under her ear that smelled the most heavenly, he was hardly aware of when he began to scrape the skin with his sharp incisors. When he managed to pull himself away, Thailog was very gratified to see the flushed red mark he'd left on her neck. When she saw it, she'd know he'd been there with her, by this little bit of proof. Feeling pleased with himself and his gentle manners, Thailog took himself off to sleep, entirely forgetting about covering any part of Elisa with a sheet.
Detective Bluestone nervously chewed his lip as he listened to the phone ring on the other end. He was hungry, and finally home, but it had been a long, grueling day.
This was the end of the fifth day of Elisa's absence. In a few more hours, a sixth would begin. Day six of pretending to go on as normal while everyone in the squad room stared sympathy at him, saying things that were meant to be encouraging about how they'd find out what happened to her. But they didn't have a clue. Matt already knew what happened, and acting ignorant was wearing on him.
So today he was asking for help. Dialing the numbers he was now wasn't something he'd ever wanted to do, but with his partner's life in real jeopardy, his own sense of pride didn't bear consideration.
All told, there were very few things about the FBI he really missed. The pay had been better, but money wasn't everything. In fact from his first week as a New York Detective, he'd felt more welcome and at home at the 23rd precinct, than he ever had in his old office. Even when Elisa wasn't very welcoming, she had been a good partner who respected his abilities and hadn't judged him by his unusual interest in secret societies.
Back at the Federal Bureau, he had been an outsider. His acquaintances were not so much friends as tolerant colleagues. Even his own partner Martin Hacker, the one person he thought had understood him, had turned out to be less than genuine. The only thing Matt really missed about the Bureau was having the superior connections and legal clout that made his job easier.
That and Charlie, who had always been a sympathetic ear over the occasional coffee break.
"Agent Esquival here," the sultry tones of the woman he'd called sounded low in his ear. The sensuous voice of Agent Charlize Esquival was a good as siren song to a detective who had something to get off his chest.
"Hi Charlie. This is Matt Bluestone. I need your help."