[I wrote this back in 2005. I couldn't figure out if there was more to it or not. Today I just decided this is it. Thanks to the various people who have read this over the years, including HatMan, Bethy, Matt, and anyone else I've forgotten.]
There were things they did not speak of. Words left unsaid, thoughts left unshared. They were what they were. Some things would always be beyond them.
And so they had learned to steer the conversation to lighter topics, to ignore subtext and entendre, hide the darker hurts and fears beneath a mask of casual camaraderie.
"The most romantic city in the world, and Goliath isn't even awake to share it with me."
There were thoughts, of course, that refused to be stifled. She'd allowed that one release, knowing neither Goliath nor Angela could hear her. Sometimes her subconscious refused to be censored.
And refusing to acknowledge those feelings did not drive them away. Unspoken or not, her wants were the same.
"I can't help but notice that Angela looks a little like Demona, but her coloring's different. Whose daughter is she?"
She'd tried to keep the accusation from her voice, the shock. She knew who Angela was. But she had no right to be angry, and she'd pretended to accept his evasive answer citing gargoyle customs. Pretended that the sight of the young female hadn't been like the shock of cold water, hadn't horrified and fascinated her at once.
Of course they had a child. Demona and Goliath had been together for several years before the massacre, although she wasn't sure exactly how long; it was another subject he did not bring up. It was only to be expected that they'd have conceived and borne a child.
It hurt far more than she cared to admit.
She was sickened by the thought of Goliath with Demona that way, the two of them together in passion, pleasure freely given and received, his child conceived in her belly. A gargoyle egg, precious beyond words. Ironic, really, that despite everything, Demona had given him a gift Elisa could never provide.
Her tortured imagination had served up hundreds of images, snapshots. Lavender skin against blue, crimson hair spilling over bared shoulders, two bodies enshrouded in dark wings. Did gargoyles couple the way humans did? Did they mate on the wing? Would his eyes have blazed with passion for his angel, the way they blazed in anger? Would he have shouted in ecstasy as he did in rage? Demona would know; she had shared everything with him. She had borne his child.
Jealousy had been unexpected. And irrational, knowing she herself could have no future with Goliath. But he was in her heart now, future or not, and it was difficult to accept that some small part of his would always be barred to her. Some part that still belonged to an angel who perhaps had never been. The mother of his child.
"It's true, isn't it? Demona is my mother. Elisa, I have to know."
She'd understood why Goliath did not wish to answer, but she'd been upset that he left the task to her. None of it was her affair. She wanted no part of it, no reminder of his connection to Demona. He'd never even spoken of it aloud, had simply let Elisa draw her own obvious conclusion. Angela had drawn the same one.
And it wasn't Angela's affair, either, Elisa understood. No matter how her parentage might hurt all of them, it was through no fault of hers. And there was nothing of Demona's hatred in Angela's spirit; even her name was as far removed as was possible. For a moment Elisa wanted to deny it, could not bear to saddle this fragile child with the shame and sorrow of the truth. But she deserved honesty, deserved the chance to face her heritage and realize it need have no claim on her.
And perhaps Elisa deserved to know the truth as well, to realize it need have no prior claim on him.
Later, when they had returned to Avalon, she asked him to go walking with her. They wandered the shoreline aimlessly, staring out at the water, while Goliath brooded over what had happened in Paris and Elisa wondered how to draw him out of his mood.
"So tell me about Angela. About gargoyle eggs." That hadn't been what she meant to say. She was shocked she'd had the courage to speak at all.
He looked surprised and then wary, apprehensive. "What about Angela?"
She lifted her chin, refusing to allow her nerve to desert her now. "I don't know anything about gargoyle eggs. Before Avalon I didn't even know gargoyles hatchedfrom eggs."
Goliath seemed thoughtful. Perhaps he was relieved to be asked a question he could answer without hurting either of them. "Gargoyles lay eggs every twenty years. The eggs mature for ten years in the rookery and then are hatched."
"So that's why gargoyles don't claim their own children? Because after ten years it's hard to tell the eggs apart?" Elisa still couldn't quite understand that. For a moment she envisioned painting a label on a large egg: PROPERTY OF ELISA MAZA. IF FOUND, PLEASE RETURN TO...
Goliath shook his head. "That is part of it, I suppose, but mainly it is because many things can change in ten years. We lived in dangerous times. A hatchling's biological parents might not survive to see her born."
Elisa nodded, acknowledging the wisdom in that. "But you and Demona survived to see Angela." At his nod, she asked, "How far along was she when you were turned to stone?"
His gaze grew distant. "Six years."
Six years. Six years, at least, he had spent in ignorant bliss with Demona. "How long had you and Demona been mates before that?" If this was her night for questions, she might as well ask all of them.
Goliath turned away from her. "Sixteen years," he said softly, and there was a note in his voice she didn't want to understand. He'd spent twenty-two years with his Angel of the Night, loving her and wanting her, a thousand years before Elisa herself had even been born.
Then his eyes focused on her once more, and his expression changed. She wondered if, for a moment, he'd forgotten where he was, who he was talking to. "Elisa," he began, his tone conciliatory, "I-"
"No," she cut him off. "No, it's okay. Really. I just- I didn't know, that's all. I didn't realize." She'd known he and Demona were mates. She'd even coaxed out some of the details of that arrangement from Hudson- that gargoyles mated for life. That they imprinted on a lover and were faithful all their lives. Hudson's voice had been kindly, almost apologetic himself, and she'd known he knew why she was asking.
"I didn't realize," she repeated, half to herself as her thoughts changed course. "I'm so sorry, Goliath," she murmured, meeting his gaze again. "I guess I didn't understand." How could she have understood his grief? How could she even begin to imagine a betrayal of that magnitude, when his chosen lifemate led his entire family to ruin and death? When he awoke in a strange new world, hostile and harsh, and his lover and wife of twenty years declared you wanting? Demona had tried to kill him that second night in the castle, would have killed him if not for Elisa's interference. How had he survived that?
"When I believed she had died," he said softly, "I wanted to die as well. All of my clan was dead or ensorcelled. I... could not imagine life alone. I asked the Magus to cast his spell on me. I did not expect to awaken."
Elisa nodded. She'd understood that, when she'd stopped to consider his story. He couldn't have known that raising a castle above the clouds would become an almost trivial matter a thousand years in the future. To him it had been a spell of eternal sleep, and eternity had seemed preferable to a lifetime of solitude.
"If I had waited," he said, "I could have been there when the eggs hatched. I could have been the rookery father Angela wants me to be. I should have been stronger."
Elisa allowed herself to imagine him, proud papa to thirty-six squalling infant gargoyles. Would Katharine and Tom and the Magus have helped him? Or would they have left him alone, not wishing to intrude or interfere? It would have been a difficult job for a single parent, perhaps impossible.
And he would have lived and died in the tenth century. "Maybe it's selfish," she said now, reaching for his hand, "but I'm glad you didn't."
He gave her a small grin, almost in spite of himself. "Indeed."