Missing Snow Scene
The snow slushed up above his knees in some places, and Goliath was glad to be carrying Elisa high above the wet ice. He had carried her along this icy stretch of road for nearly an hour looking for any sign of life, worrying endlessly over the human he held over his heart. Elisa would quickly have lost her life if not for his keeping her warm; even with his efforts, she was trembling in his arms. They would have to stop by sunrise, and he dreaded that; it would mean huddling close and praying he would be able to wake her after they slept, when his body would turn to cold stone and be useless to her.
The male gargoyle glared at the cold expanse before him, appalled all over again at the cruelty of the old man on the tundra. How could anyone stand to watch Elisa suffer? What kind of person could refuse to help, when he knew her life was at stake? And how had he known about the Eye of Odin?
Frigid winds buffeted his dark hair as he gathered his wings more tightly around them both. He'd set a merciless pace across the valley in an effort to warm his own body for her sake, but it wasn't going to be enough. The biting wind and chill of this land was uncomfortable for him as well as his daughter and Bronx. They had to get some help for Elisa before she was lost.
The road had climbed out of the valley where Avalon's magic had brought them, and up the face of a sparsely wooded mountain. It had taken them over an hour to reach the foot of the mountains from the frozen lake they'd started from, and the better part of another hour to get a little ways up the mountain side. With more snow falling every minute, Goliath could only guess at the likely hood of a passing car.
Elisa shivered violently in his arms and he was at last persuaded to stop. They now held the view of several miles of road in either direction, and with a small grouping of trees by the roadside to block the wind, this seemed as a good a place as any to rest. Pointing up the steep incline of the mountain face, Goliath addressed his daughter. "See if you can get to higher ground, Angela. Keep a sharp eye out for any activity on the road."
"Yes father. Keep warm, Elisa," the young gargoyle called as she began scaling the rough rock. Between the heavy falling snow and the shadows of night, Angela quickly disappeared, the sound of her talons forcing footholds in the granite the only proof of her passage.
The stillness of the cold night settled around the three of them almost instantly, leaving Goliath quite alone with the woman in his arms. Looking down on her, he found her eyes were already turned up to him, speaking silent volumes on the helplessness she felt, asking what would happen next. Bronx crooned his misgivings at his master. Elisa withdrew her gaze, Goliath cleared his throat, and the moment was gone.
"Let us see if we can make you any warmer," he suggested as cheerily as he could manage. He set her gently down on her feet to make the short distance to the trees unfettered. He meant to make a shallow depression in the snow bank for them to sit in. The idea was to use the ice to block the wind the trees did not, and insulate them better. He was only two paces away when Elisa stumbled forward. She did not fall, but her steps were shaky before she got close enough to lean against the nearest tree trunk.
Fighting the urge to go to her, and judging it wiser to pretend ignorance, Goliath finished his digging and sat down, commanding Bronx to lie in front of him against his feet. Elisa hugged herself miserably without the warmth of his body until Goliath crossed his legs over the snow and pulled her down to him. He situated her in his lap so that she was facing him, seated on his calves with her feet tucked under his thighs, and her knees bracketing his waist. She nestled against him eagerly as Goliath clasped her close in his arms, closed his wings around her body, and curled his tail around her backside to seal out the cold. She smiled at his heartbeat against her cheek.
"You're welcome." He puffed a warm breath over the back of her neck. "Are you alright?"
"A-alright is a l-little strong, but everything's still at-t-tached." She wiggled her fingers and toes for emphasis. "I'm s-sorry I'm being so m-much trouble," she said while settling into place on his legs. "Next time some weirdo wants to t-take you for a boat ride, I'll s-stay on the shore."
He chuckled at her dry sense of humor. It was remarkable that she could be funny at a time like this. "I do not believe you." He smiled, positioning each of her feet under a muscled thigh. He finished tucking his wings around them, pressing her stomach flush with his own.
"R-Really Goliath, I'm s-sorry."
"As I said before, it is my duty to protect you." He asserted with an affectionate squeeze. "There are times you may require more care than others of my clan, but you are human. You are naturally weaker in almost every respect." He felt her muscles tense before he realized he'd said something wrong. She scowled at him, clearly irritated.
"Boy, you know just what to say to keep a girl warm, don't you?"
His face flushed with embarrassment for having insulted her. "Er, forgive me; my experience with females is limited. I mean to say that I am glad to do this for you," he amended. A slim black eyebrow quirked in consideration.
"Well, I guess that's better than the first thing you said." Her expression relaxed and he knew he was forgiven for the unintentional slight. "Anyway, for someone with 'limited experience', you seem to know what you're doing." She nudged him with her shoulder to indicate their embrace. "I'm sure you have a lot more experience cuddling females than you let on." She grinned impishly up at him.
"W-What?" Goliath nearly choked at Elisa's suggestive banter. She shivered again and the gargoyle clutched her closer with barely a thought.
"Come on Goliath," she purred, "Tall, dark, and handsome, second in command, and then clan leader; you probably had to beat them off with a stick." His mind sputtered. She couldn't really think that. Tall and dark anyone could see, but handsome? Was it possible she thought he was handsome? No. She was, after all, slowly freezing to death. The cold must be getting to her, making her delirious.
"Actually, the clan elders would never have allowed this between un-mated gargoyles." He explained, trying to curb his nervousness. "We are not a race given to promiscuity, Elisa. All eligible females are rookery sisters, and as you know, clan is family. Any slighted female would be the mate of a brother. No one would disrespect the clan that way."
"Oh." He stared at the shape of her pouting lips, finding them more appealing than he ever had before. In the time since he had begun to think of Elisa romantically, she seemed to be growing more and more beautiful. Or perhaps it was just that he was learning to recognize the beauty in her human features. For example, where her small rounded ears had once been strange, he thought of them now as being cute, the dainty feet that were inefficiently designed, were also endearingly feminine, and those lips... Really, pressed against him as she was now, he couldn't consider hardly any of her anatomy to be anything less than lovely.
"So then the only female experience you have is-"
He met her gaze steadily. "As I said, gargoyles are not given to promiscuity."
"Right." For probably several reasons, this seemed to make her uncomfortable. She said no more on the subject but leaned against him. Happily, her disquieting thoughts had no power over Goliath. Feeling Elisa's womanly curves against him, prevented any thought of his former mate from sinking in, and made him feel rather warmer. Not for the first time, he wished their positions were reversed; even with her mind addled, Elisa knew what to say to keep him warm. Not that she needed words to warm him tonight. Their entangled position didn't help that, though if Goliath were honest with himself, help was the last thing he wanted. Despite the ugly circumstances, it was nice to be alone with Elisa, and hold her as close as he wished. Indulging himself, he raised a few talons from the small of her back to stroke her hair. She would not understand that this meant more for him than it did for her, but he hoped she would be comforted by the gesture. She stirred under his touch, tilting her face up to look at the trees around them. The dark eyes that usually smoldered in his dreams with passionate light were, in reality, growing dull with fatigue, and it was not safe for her to sleep yet.
"Elisa-mine," he shook her gently. "You must stay awake." In answer, the detective struggled to sit up straighter in his lap and giggled lightly.
"Elisa-yours, huh? That doesn't sound so bad." She smiled up at him as she moved. "Do I get to call you Goliath-mine?" Hers? That the gods would be so kind!
Flustered at her flirtatious tone, Goliath forced himself to swallow. "Would - would you like to?"
"Would you like it if I did? It might turn a few heads," she warned him with a coy look. "I'd hate to embarrass you if Avalon sent us back to London." Elisa's small hands, cold from the temperature, trailed down his chest and over his abdominal muscles. Never mind London; given their intimate position, this could get embarrassing!
He collected her hands in one of his before she could lend any more speed to his heat rate, brought them up to exhale a hot, gentle breath over her fingers, and dropped one on each of his shoulders. Elisa took the initiative to embrace him, her supple lips hinting at blue, and waited. Goliath never failed to surprise when he was cornered.
"Elisa," he sighed, combing a lock of hair over her shoulder. "I am yours, regardless of what you call me." Rich chocolate eyes widened, soulful in their intensity.
"Goliath!" Angela's frantic shout echoed Elisa's whisper, startling the pair in the snow bank below her. "Lights on the road east of here! They're coming this way!"
He came readily to his feet, pulling Elisa up with and arm at her waist. "Then we must act quickly, come!" Goliath's main focus shifted to the approaching motorists, working to formulate a plan, but there was still enough room in his mind to regret what had been left under the trees.
Maybe hope for recovery of their stolen moments yet lived. Elisa was not herself at the moment, but if her actions tonight meant anything…. Perhaps when they returned to Manhattan, he would approach her again, as he had after the debacle with Demona and the mirror. She had been flirting with him tonight, she could not now deny her feelings. If she would but give him a hearing!
For now, the headlights on the road grew brighter, Bronx was ready. He shared one last, longing look with Elisa. Her life was priority now.
Author's note: The early symptoms of Hypothermia include shivering, cold, pale, or blue-gray skin, poor judgment, and mild lack of balance when standing or walking.