Delilah of the Seven Veils

Written by Donald E. Fleming II

Story concept by Donald E. Fleming II

Disclaimer: All Gargoyles characters are the property of Disney and Buena Vista Studios and are being used without their consent or permission. Other Gargoyle characters are the property of The Gargoyle Saga (TGS) writing staff and also are being used without their permission. The character of Don Michael Taylor is my creation. I am receiving no reward for this story other than the satisfaction of being able to share it with others as it is intended solely for my own entertainment and the entertainment of Gargoyle fandom everywhere.

July 30, 1999

The Labyrinth

"Where is she?" Talon asked.

"Not know," Burbank replied. "I not see her leave."

"What's wrong?" Maggie asked."

"Delilah's gone again," the Mutate leader snapped. "And she was supposed to be on guard duty tonight."

"Did you talk to her this morning when she got back?" Maggie asked, crossing her arms across her chest to show that she didn't appreciate his tone, especially since they were mates.

"No, I didn't get the chance. By the time Claw let me know she was back, it was already daybreak."

"You could have waited for her to wake up," Maggie told him.

Talon looked at his wife. "I got…distracted," he said.

"By what?" she asked, but when she saw him raise his eyebrow, she realized what had distracted him. "Oh," she said with a sheepish grin. "Well, you should have told me you had something important to do before we got started."

Talon put his arms around her waist and drew her close. "And would that have mattered?" he asked.

Maggie lay her head against her husband's chest and grinned. "Probably not," she admitted. "So what do you want to do now?"

"Hmm?" he wondered, forgetting for a moment the original nature of their discussion. "Oh, Delilah!" he remembered and then he was upset again, but no longer with Maggie. He went over to the phone and picked it up. "I'm going to have to inform Goliath and Elisa about this."

"Why them?" Maggie wondered. "Why not send the clones…" She stopped herself when Talon gave her a lopsided look.

"We've already got one missing clone to worry about," he said. "I really don't want to have to worry about losing four more in this city."

The Eyrie Building

"Thanks, Derek," Elisa said. "I'll let you know if anything turns up." She hung up the phone.

Goliath rose from the couch. "Problems," he asked.

"Delilah's gone missing again," she said. She crossed the media room and dropped onto the couch. "This makes three times this week, not to mention the fact that she's been doing this for the past month."

"Perhaps the lass is seeing someone," Hudson said, diverting his attention for a moment from the story he was telling to the twins.

"Now there's a thought," Elisa admitted. "But why be so secretive?" Then a dark thought crossed her mind.

"Unless she has gone back to Thailog," Goliath said, seeing the sudden worry on Elisa's face.

Elisa rolled it over in her mind, trying to disprove what she herself feared. "No, I can't believe that." She stood up and began pacing. "We haven't heard anything about Thailog for months, not since that business with the Sun Amulet."

"Or maybe she's seeing a human," Ariana quickly chimed in, hoping to dispel any doubts about Delilah's loyalties.

"But why would she keep that a secret from us?" Elisa asked.

"And how long was it before you told your parents about us?" Goliath asked.

Elisa stopped pacing and looked at Goliath before shaking her head. "That was different, Goliath. Very few people knew about you guys." Then she realized what Goliath was referring to. "Oh, that," she said sheepishly.

"It shouldn't matter," Angela said. "She should have told us by now if she were seeing someone, especially if it were a human. After all, I told all of you about Richard."

"True," Goliath said to his daughter. "But you were not romantically involved with him." He looked over at Elisa for a moment and felt a sudden aching in his heart. Ever since the return of her fiancé, his relationship with Elisa had been on shaky ground, and Don's abrupt departure hadn't helped matters. "I fear that Delilah may be doing something that none of us would approve. Especially given her clandestine activities." Goliath turned and started to leave the room. "Broadway, you and Angela should join the patrol tonight. When you see Brooklyn and Sata, tell them what has been going on."

"Where are you going?" Elisa asked.

"I am going to check the amusement park where we first encountered the clones," he said. "Perhaps there is a clue there as to her whereabouts."

Elisa checked her watch. "Wish I could join you, but if I don't report back pretty soon, Captain Chavez is going to have a fit."

"Very well," Goliath said. "I will let you know if I find anything." He turned and left.

23rd Precinct

Matt Bluestone saw the apprehension on Elisa's face as she approached her desk. "What's up, partner?" he asked.

"Delilah," she said.

"Excuse me?"

"Delilah. She's gone missing from the Labyrinth again."

"And this worries you because…"

"Come on, Matt," Elisa shot back. "Do I have to draw you a picture? After what happened with Thailog, Goliath's worried that Delilah may be sneaking out to see him, maybe even plotting against us." Goliath hadn't actually said anything about Delilah planning something with his darker self, but it had been implied by his expression. "I just hope he's wrong."

"Is there anything else she might be doing?" Matt wondered.

"Ariana wondered if maybe she's seeing a human?"

"That doesn't sound like it would be so bad," Matt said with a grin. He leaned back and locked his fingers behind his head.

Elisa caught the look on his face. "She's not running around with you, is she?"

Matt almost dumped his chair over in surprise. "What? No!" he said, quickly trying to regain his composure and his balance at the same time. "Not that she's not beautiful of course, but…"

Elisa suppressed a smile. "But you're seeing Sara, and she'd kill you if you were." She took a quick look around to make sure Sara Jasper was nowhere in sight. "And if I were you, I wouldn't repeat that little slip-up about how beautiful Delilah is around her."

Matt agreed, but then tossed a barb at Elisa as she was raising a cup of coffee to her lips. "Of course, she could be running around with your ex."

This elicited a coughing fit from Elisa, and drew the attention of several officers who were just getting over Bluestone almost dumping himself over in his chair.

"You okay, detective," Sergeant Morgan asked.

"Yeah, I'm fine," Elisa said as she shot a glare at Matt, realizing that he had just paid her back for what she had suggested seconds earlier. After Morgan walked away, she turned her full attention back to her partner. "I'm certain she would've told us if she were," she said, trying to keep reign on her temper. "At the very least, she would have told me."

Matt looked at her. "You still haven't heard from him?" he asked.

Elisa sighed. "Not a word," she said. Don had walked out of her life two weeks ago after he found out about her relationship with Goliath, and as of yet, she had no idea where he had gone. "I know he wanted to work this out on his own, but I wish he'd at least let me know where he is."

"I'm sure he'll let you know where he is once he's had a chance to get you out of his system," he said.

"Thanks, Matt," she said. "You make me sound like a contagious disease."

"Well, you do have a way of getting under a person's skin," he said. "Listen, partner," he said. "We've all been down that road once or twice in our lives. Hell, even I have. You just have to give him time to work things out. Once he does, I'm sure he'll come back."

"But that's part of the problem," Elisa said. "What do I do when he does? I was all ready to tell him about my feelings for Goliath, but then he disappeared again, and now I'm afraid that if he does come back, I won't be able to."

"No one ever said love is easy, Elisa," Matt said. "Take it from someone who knows." He reached over and rested his hand on Elisa's shoulder. "I'm pretty sure that when the time comes, you'll be able to do what's right." He sat back and picked up one of the files he'd been working on. "Meanwhile, we've got a case to work on. We still need to find out where Tony Dracon's latest fencing operation is working out of."

That seemed to perk her up a little. The thought of putting Tony Dracon away was a good way of diverting her away from her troubled love life. God knows I need it,she thought.

Destine Manor

"Are you certain she's been disappearing on her own?" Demona asked.

"We're pretty sure," Angela said over the phone. On a hunch, she had called her mother to see if Delilah had been showing up there, as unlikely a possibility as that was. Still, they seemed to be getting along at the wedding… "I mean Talon didn't say if any of the clones were disappearing with her, but he's pretty sure they weren't. And she hasn't been over there to see you?"

"As I said before, I haven't seen Delilah since your mating ceremony," Demona said. "I would tell you if I had. Have you talked to Sharon? She and Delilah seemed to be very close."

"Sharon doesn't know what she's been up to either," Angela said. "Father's afraid that she might be…"

Demona read the anxiety in Angela's voice. She's afraid Delilah's gone back to Thailog as well. "I seriously doubt that, Angela. Delilah may know that Thailog is still alive, but I doubt very much if she would return to him of her own free will. She does have one, you know."

"I know that, mother," Angela started. "But…"

"Angela, listen," Demona said. "I'll do what I can to help track her down. As much as I hate to admit it, I have started to grow fond of her. I see a lot of myself in her, even if it is mixed in with Detective Maza. I'll let you know if I find out anything."

"Thank you, Mother," Angela said and then Demona heard the phone hang up. She set the phone down and started pacing around.

"Okay, Delilah," she muttered to herself. "Where would you most likely go?" Coney Island? That was a possibility, but Angela had said that Goliath was already on his way there. If Delilah were there, he would let them know. Elisa's or her parents? Not likely. If Delilah were visiting her 'grandparents' or Detective Maza, they wouldn't be wondering where she was now, would they? Could she be venturing out on her own, trying to emulate the clan by patrolling the city at night? That was a possibility, but if she were, she still should tell Talon where she was going. Demona paused by the couch, then picked up the newspaper. Maybe there's something here that could give me an idea, she thought as she opened it. She went through it several times, finding several stories about gargoyle sighting around the city, and the usual anti-gargoyle filth that seemed to spring up on the Editorial page every now and then, but nothing about a white-haired gargoyle. She was about to toss it aside when she caught sight of a particular ad in the Entertainment Section. She looked at it and her eyes went wide, then flashed red.

"Has she lost her mind?" she shouted.

23rd Precinct

Elisa and Matt were on their way out when she stopped at the door, searching her pockets. "I know I had them here," she said.

"What is it, partner?" Matt asked.

"I think I forgot my keys," she said. She patted her jacket, then frowned. "I must have left them on the desk. Go wait by the car. I'll be out in a few minutes." She turned and headed back inside. She reached her desk and found her keys right where she'd left them, scooped them up and headed for the door.

"I tell you, all I wanted was a quick look," she heard someone say at the front desk. She looked and saw that Morgan and O'Malley had a guy in handcuffs by the desk.

"What's going on?" she asked.

"This wise guy tried to feel up one of the dancers at the 'Saturn's Rings'," Morgan said. "He got rowdy when the bouncer tossed him out."

The prisoner, a rather well dressed business type turned and looked straight at her. "Tell them I wasn't trying to do anything," he protested. "I just wanted a little peek."

Elisa felt his eyes crawl over her and she stepped back in disgust. "Pal, I've never seen you before in my life."

"Yes, you have," he said. "You're that dancer. The one with the wings."

Elisa eyes went wide in realization. "Oh, hell!" She turned and ran for the door.

"See," the guy said. "She's the one."

Morgan looked at O'Malley in realization. "Buddy, I think there's something you should know," he said.

Matt saw Elisa tearing down the stairs. "I guess you're ready to go run down that lead," he said.

Elisa paused and looked at him. "Not really," she said. "Something else just came up."

"What?" Matt asked.

"I think I know where Delilah is."

The Saturn's Rings

"I think this is the place," Elisa said as she and Matt stepped out of the Fairlane. She looked at the line of people waiting to get in. She saw several well-dressed individuals in the line; a few she recognized as some of New York's upper class.

"Are you sure she's in there?" Matt asked. "I mean, somehow I don't see Delilah working as a bouncer or a bartender."

"I'm afraid she might be doing something else here," Elisa said.

"Like what?" Matt said, but then he caught sight of the poster hanging by the door. On it was an artist's rendering of a very familiar-looking gargoyle in a belly dancer's costume. The artist apparently had a very vivid imagination. "Oh, man," Matt said and his eyes seemed to light up.

Elisa saw the expression on his face. "Maybe you should wait out here," she said.

"I promise to behave myself," he said.

"That's not what I'm worried about," she said. "I'm afraid you might see…Never mind." She turned and started for the door. "Just try to keep your hormones in check, okay?"

"I'll try," he said, which didn't seem to comfort his partner in the least

The doorman almost didn't let them in, but a flash of the badge and a quick lie about a follow-up on the guy that had been kicked out got them through the door. They soon found themselves in the main area of the 'Saturn's Rings', one of Manhattan's newest strip clubs.

"I can practically smell the testosterone in the air," Elisa said in disgust.

"That might not be the only thing you smell," Matt said.

"Yuck," Elisa said as they made their way around towards the stage. They stopped as the house lights dimmed and an MC appeared on stage.

"And now," he said into the microphone. "For her final performance of the night, the wonderfully, delightful Delilah!"

The lights went out and a spotlight illuminated a single point on the stage. There, in the middle of the spotlight, knelt Delilah.

It didn't take long for Demona to reach the 'Saturn's Rings', and when she got there, she was seething. Doesn't she realize how much danger she is putting herself into? she thought angrily. Not to mention the clan! She stalked over to the side door and pulled on the handle. It broke off in her hand. Angry, she punched her hands through the door and proceeded to rip it off its hinges. Tossing it aside, she stormed inside, looking for the dressing rooms.

Delilah rose slowly, sensuously, to the music that was being played, and Elisa recognized it as Middle Eastern, something that belly dancers performed to. And considering what Delilah was wearing, it was rather appropriate. The white-haired clone was wearing a typical harem girl's costume, complete with pantaloons, coin belt, anklet, armband and chain headband. She also wore a collection of veils and Elisa quickly counted a total of seven. Why doesn't that surprise me? she thought as she continued to watch. Delilah moved gracefully across the stage, and her hip gyrations were well timed to the music. Elisa found herself watching with rapt fascination, and she had a feeling that Matt was having a hard time pulling his eyes away from the lovely clone himself.

The room seemed to go dead quiet except for the music and the occasional chimes of Delilah's finger cymbals; it seemed no one in the room wanted to disturb her rhythm. Delilah moved to the edge of the stage and removed one of the veils and draped it over the head of one of the lucky patrons before leaning down and kissing him on the top of his bald head. The patron sagged back in his seat and Elisa could see the broad smile on his face. For a moment, he looked familiar. Is that the mayor? she thought.

Delilah continued to dance across the stage, occasionally removing one of her remaining veils and tossing it out for another lucky patron to catch before finally dancing back to the center of the stage. Suddenly, Delilah's head whipped around, centering on Elisa and Matt's position, and then the hybrid clone shocked her by removing her halter and tossing it over her head. The flimsy top came flying straight towards them and Matt reached up and snagged in his hand. He was smiling as he looked at his prize, but when he looked at Elisa, he noted the scowl on her face as she looked back at him. He coughed slightly as Elisa returned her attention back to the stage, afraid of what she was going to witness. Please tell me she's not going to take it all off, she prayed silently.

Delilah spun around, and Elisa inwardly groaned as she did and dropped her head downwards. "Oh God," she groaned as she covered her eyes. "Please tell me she had something on under that!"

"I can't tell," Matt said. "She's got herself covered."

Elisa quickly looked up and saw that Delilah was indeed covering herself, her wing claws clasped together across the center of her chest, hiding her ample proportions with her wings. Elisa sighed with relief.

The music reached its peak and Delilah quickly returned to the center of the stage, dancing and swaying, and her hips rocking back and forth with such intensity that Elisa was afraid that the rest of her costume was going to fly off of its own volition. It stayed intact though and Delilah dropped to the floor the instant the music ended, her arms and wings spread out and her head almost touching the floor. Then the spotlight went out and that's when the audience broke into applause. When the house lights came back on, Delilah was gone from the stage.

"That was...incredible," Matt finally managed to say. He brought his hand up to wipe his brow and seemed to realize at that moment that he still held onto Delilah's halter. He dropped his hand quickly in embarrassment.

"Come on," Elisa said. She started heading for the stage.

"Where are we going?" he asked.

"We going to have a talk with her," Elisa said. "I want to know why she's here."

Delilah quickly crossed the backstage area, heading for the dressing rooms. She was done for the night and she needed to get changed before she headed back. She looked at her watch. It was almost ten. If she hurried, she could...

"Nice job tonight," one of the other dancers said to her as she neared the dressing room.

"Thanks, Susan," she said with a smile. "Have you seen Jack?"

"I think he's in his office," Susan said. "You want me to..."

"No, that's okay," Delilah said. "I'll talk to him later." She took a robe that one of the other dancers offered her and pulled it on as she entered the dressing room. "I just..."

Susan's gasp stopped her in her tracks. Delilah turned and saw Demona standing in the room with a scowl on her face. She looked at Delilah briefly before turning her attention back to Susan.

"Get out," she said.

Elisa and Matt found their path blocked by a rather large bouncer. "No one's allowed backstage," he said. "House rules."

Elisa pulled out her badge. "We need to talk to one of the dancers. It's important."

He gave both of them a hard look, then turned his full attention on Elisa. "Okay," he said. As Elisa started past him, he stuck out his hand and caught Matt full in the chest. "Only you," he said to Elisa. "Not him."

She looked back at Matt. She could tell by the look on his face that he was disappointed.

"It's okay, Matt," she said. "I'll be fine." Elisa reached out and snagged Delilah's top from his hand. "I'll see if I can get her to autograph it for you." She turned and headed towards the dressing rooms.

As she neared her destination, she heard someone yelling. I know that voice, she thought. As she turned the corner, she was almost knocked over as several of the dancers rushed past her in a panic. Oh hell, she thought. Now I know whose voice that is. She took off running.

"What did you think you were doing?" Demona snapped. "Parading yourself around like that, letting those humans leer at you. Have you no sense of morals? And do you have any idea what sort of danger you've put yourself into, not to mention the rest of the clan?"

"I didn't…" Delilah started, but Demona quickly cut her off. "I am disappointed in you, Delilah. To think I was beginning to trust you, to think of you as my daughter, and then you go and do this."

"If you'd let me explain…"

"I don't want to hear your excuses," Demona snapped.

"Well, I do," Elisa said, entering the dressing room. Demona turned and gave her a hard look.

"This is none of your concern, detective," Demona said.

"No?" Elisa said. "Correct me if I'm wrong, but part of her comes me too, Demona. Remember?" She tuned her attention to the hybrid clone. "Well, Delilah?" she asked. "Want to tell us what's going on?"

"I'll tell you what's been going on," Demona said. "Our daughter, as it were, has been whoring herself…"

That was as far as Demona got before Delilah jumped up and slapped her across the face. There was a surprised look on Demona's face as she stared at Delilah.

"I have not been whoring myself," she snapped, tears brimming in her eyes. "I come here to dance, nothing more." She crossed the room to put some distance between herself and Demona and sat down.

"But why…" Elisa started, but then someone else entered the room.

"Delilah, I heard there was trouble," the well-dressed man said. He stopped when he caught sight of Elisa and Demona. "Who…"

"They are friends, Jack," Delilah said. "This is Elisa," she said. "And that is Demona."

"Hello," Jack said. "Jack Thompson. I'm the owner." He stuck out his hand to Elisa, who refused it. He pulled it back after a moment. "Listen, I understand that you're her friends and all, but you can't be back here…"

Elisa pulled out her badge again. "I'm a cop," she said.

He looked at the badge carefully. "I get it," he said. "You're working on a case." He looked at Delilah. "I understand." He turned to leave, but stopped and headed over to Delilah. "I almost forgot. This is for you." He pulled out an envelope and took out a stack of bills. "Nice job, sweetheart," he said as he handed them to her. "I'll see you tomorrow night." He gave her a quick kiss on the cheek before he left.

Demona stalked over and snatched the money from Delilah's hand. "So, you're not whoring yourself, huh?" she said. "What do you call this?" She tossed the bills onto the dressing table in disgust.

"I get paid to dance," she said. "Those people out there, they come to see me. They pay to watch me dance."

"Like a trained dolphin," Demona said scornfully.

"It's not like that," Delilah said. "I…"

"They stare at you," Demona said. "They gawk at you. Thailog hinted that you were only ggod for one thing. I guess he was right."

"This has nothing to do with him," Delilah protested. "If you'd let me explain…"

"I don't want to hear it!" Demona's eyes flashed and Elisa quickly put herself between Delilah and the enraged gargoyle.

"Listen, Demona," she said. "We're not going to find out what's going on if you keep snapping at her like that. Maybe she has a good reason for being here."

"Very well," Demona said. "I will listen. For now."

Elisa turned towards Delilah. "Well?" she asked.

"I am doing this to help a friend," she said.

"Which friend?" Elisa asked.

Delilah got up and walked to her jacket. She pulled out a photograph and gave it to Elisa. "Her name is Kate. She used to work the streets."

Elisa looked at the picture and recognized the young woman in the photograph. "I know her," she said. "She's been busted a couple of times for prostitution."

"The little boy is her son, Danny," Delilah continued. "He is sick. He has an illness and the treatment is expensive."

"What are the symptoms?" Elisa asked. When Delilah rattled off the list of symptoms, Elisa winced. "Wow," she said. "Tough break."

Delilah turned to look at Demona. "He is a good kid," she said. "I hate to see him go through this. Kate has sacrificed a lot to give him a good home. That is how she ended up on the street. Her own family doesn't want to have anything to do with her. They threw her out when she was just a teenager."

"How did you get involved?" Elisa asked.

"A man chased her into the tunnels last month demanding her money," Delilah said. "She told him she didn't have any and he started to hurt her. I stopped him, chased him off."

"Could you describe him?" Elisa asked.

"He was about as tall as Detective Bluestone," Delilah said. "He was dark-skinned, had sandy-brown hair and he had a scar on his right cheek." She paused for a moment. And he had gold teeth." She opened her mouth and pointed to her fangs. "These two. Kate said she couldn't go to the police because he was her…her pump?"

"Pimp," Elisa corrected. Despite the fact that Delilah had made great strides in her vocabulary, there were still times when she got words confused. "I know who this guy is. A real sleazebag."

"That is what Kate called him," Delilah said. "After he was gone, I tried to get Kate to come to the Sanctuary, but she said she had to go home to take care of her son. I took her home and watched over them until morning."

"You took a big risk," Demona said, crossing her arms. "How did you know you could trust her?"

"I didn't," she said. She looked at Demona. "Unlike you, I don't try to find fault in those I help. Kate looked after me until nightfall and then I went back to the Sanctuary." She looked at Elisa. "Talon was upset that I spent the day outside and he told me not to do it again. But I couldn't abandon Kate. She had no one to watch over her. And Danny…"

"Care to tell us how you ended up in this toilet?" Demona asked.

"One of Kate's friends works here," Delilah said. "She came by one night while I was at Kate's, looking after Danny while Kate was out." She smiled. "She was surprised to see me, but she wasn't scared of me. She said I could help out by working here. So I started dancing."

"And the owner hired you right out of the blue?" Elisa asked.

Delilah crossed over to a rack of costumes. She pulled out one that had wings and a tail. "Gargoyle costume," Delilah said. "Not everyone is repulsed by us." She looked at Demona. "I hear that some humans find us attractive, even desirable."

Demona thought about Angela's friend Richard Harrison, whom she'd met at Angela's mating ceremony. She remembered that he had a faraway look in his eyes when he looked at her daughter. Apparently, Angela had broken his heart.

Delilah turned to look at Elisa. "Even Dracon comes here," she said. "Every Saturday night since I started dancing here. He keeps asking for private performance."

"That louse," Elisa said. "I assume you said no."

"Every time," Delilah said. "Even though Jack said I could make more money doing lap dance." She hesitated. "I can't dance on someone's lap," she said. "I'm afraid I might fall and hurt …" She stopped when she saw the amused look on Elisa's face. "What?"

"That's not what a lap dance is, Delilah," she said.

"Then what…"

"Never mind," Elisa quickly said. She'd rather not have Delilah finding out what that was. She went over to the dressing table and picked up the money, counting out the bills. She whistled low when she finished. "There's over two thousand dollars here!"

"Like I said," Delilah said. "They pay to see me dance."

"And what do you intend to do with this money?" Demona asked.

"It is for Kate and Danny," Delilah said. "It covers their needs. Rent, food, medication for Danny."

"On top of what this human no doubt makes ever night," Demona said.

"No," Delilah said. "Kate no longer works the streets. She stays home now, taking care of Danny." She looked at Elisa. "She is trying to make a fresh start, Elisa. She has tried to find work, but no one wants to hire her. She never finished school, she has no skills. All she has are her drawings."

"What drawings?"Demona asked.

Delilah went back to her jacket and pulled a folded up piece of paper out of the pocket. She hesitantly handed it to Demona, who took the paper and opened it.

It was a full color sketch of the costume Delilah was wearing. Demona looked up from the paper to the clone. "She drew this?" she asked.

Delilah plucked at the sheer fabric of her costume. "She designed this. She said it is interesting creating new looks that are compatible to our form."

Demona looked at the drawing again. She could tell that Delilah must have modeled for the human because the sketch had notes indicating wing and tail openings. She handed the sketch to Elisa.

"She has a good eye," Elisa said. She looked at Delilah. "And you said no one will hire her?"

Delilah looked down at the floor. "No one wants to hire a drop-out," Delilah said. "Especially one that has a record like hers." She looked back at Elisa. "She is clean, Elisa. She has stayed off the streets since I started helping her, but if you make me give this up, I'm afraid she might end up back there and…"

"Don't worry, Delilah," Elisa said. "We'll see what we can do." She looked over at Demona.

She's waiting for me to say something, Demona realized. "Very well," she said. "I will help. But I want to meet this human first."

"Thank you," Delilah said.

"Where's the money?" he demanded.

"I told you," Kate protested. "There isn't any."

He slapped her. "Liar! I know you've been hanging out with that freak that works at the 'Saturn's Rings' and that she gives you her money! So tell me where…"

"I don't have any," she cried. "She gives us only enough to live on! She keeps the rest for herself!" It was a lie, of course. Delilah had told her that she really didn't have any real use for the money she made, but Kate didn't want to tell Marco that. If he believed that Delilah was as bad as some people said gargoyles were, maybe he would leave…

"You expect me to swallow that load of garbage?" Marco said. "You think I'm that stupid?" He slapped her again. "Where's the damned money?" He drew back to slap her again when her son grabbed him by the leg, trying to tackle him.

"You leave my momma alone!" the little boy said.

Marco snarled and swung down, striking the boy and knocking him away. "Now tell me…"

His words were cut off by an enraged snarl from the window, which was shattered seconds later by a furious white-haired gargoyle.

Delilah landed on the roof of Kate's apartment building and headed down the fire escape. Demona followed after her. After she finished changing her clothes and leaving the 'Saturn's Rings', they had come straight here; Demona had insisted on meeting Kate before making any decisions to help. Despite all that had happened recently, Demona still didn't trust the humans, with the exception of Andrea of course. If this human has been lying to her, Demona thought. I'll…

Her thought was cut off by the sound of yelling from the apartment. Delilah paused by the window and looked in.

Him again, she thought. The one that she had run off before. How did he find her? After she started working, Delilah had insisted that Kate find another apartment to keep him from finding her again. Apparently someone told him where she was. Delilah looked towards the street. Elisa and Matt were following them here. Hopefully they would be here shortly and take this bastard to jail, she thought. She turned her attention back to the apartment when she heard Marco slap Kate. Growling, she put her hand on the window.

Demona held her back as she listened to what was going on.

"I knew you shouldn't trust her," she said. She had heard what Kate had told Marco about the money. "She's lying about you to protect herself. She told him…"

"I know what she told him," Delilah snapped back. "I told her to tell him those things if he ever found her again."

Demona was taken aback by that. Delilah told her to say those things about her? I'm definitely going to have to reevaluate my opinion about her. She turned as she heard the familiar sound of Elisa's car pulling up to the front of the building. Then she heard something else a lot closer; Delilah's enraged snarl. She turned just in time to see her eyes blazing as she crashed through the window.

Marco staggered back a moment as Delilah stood up, her eyes blazing crimson and her fangs bared.

"Get away from them!" she snarled as she advanced on him. How dare he hit Danny! He'll pay for that! She took a step towards him, ready to rip him apart.

Marco saw movement behind her. Another gargoyle was outside on the fire escape. Probably her back-up, he thought. When Delilah turned slightly to see what he was looking at, he reached into his jacket and pulled out a gun. Delilah didn't even hesitate when he pointed it at her. She leapt.

Elisa and Matt were searching for the apartment when they heard the shot. Elisa pulled out her own weapon and took off down the hall.

They found the door to the apartment open, and Elisa caught sight of Marco pointing a gun at someone. She rushed inside and leveled the gun at him.

"Police, freeze," she commanded, but then she caught sight of the victim. Delilah was on the floor, blood spilling from a gunshot wound to her stomach. Demona was on the floor behind her, holding on to the clone, and Elisa could see more blood oozing from a wound to Demona's side.

The shock was enough to give Marco a chance to swing around. He started to aim at Elisa when another gun went off. Marco pitched backwards and hit the floor.

Elisa looked behind her and caught sight of Matt, his own gun held firmly in his hand. She caught the scent of gunpowder and realized that he had saved her life.

"Thanks, partner," she said. Without waiting for his reply, she rushed to Delilah's side. "Delilah?" she said. "Come on, Delilah. Talk to me." She turned to Kate. "I need something to stop the bleeding."

Kate acted quickly. She ran into the bathroom and grabbed a clean towel. Coming back, she handed it to Elisa, who pressed it to the wound.

Delilah moaned and opened her eyes. "E…Elisa," she gasped.

"Lie still," Elisa said. "You've been shot." She looked at Demona. "It looks like you got hit too," she said.

"I was behind her when that bastard shot her," Demona said. "It went straight through, but I will be okay." She paused for a moment. "Delilah…"

"Matt!" Elisa called out. She turned and saw him step away from Marco, who was still on the floor.

"He's dead," he said. He gasped as he saw Elisa tending to Delilah's injury. "Oh man," he said.

"I need you to call an ambulance," Elisa barked. "Now!" When he rushed out of the apartment, she turned her attention back to Delilah. "Don't worry," she said. "We'll get you to the hospital."

Suddenly the little boy rushed up and flung his arms around the clone's neck. There were tears in her eyes as she put her arms around him.

"D'ilah gonna be okay?" he asked.

"She'll be just fine," Elisa said, but there was a bit of worry in her voice. If they couldn't stop the bleeding… She reached into her pocket and pulled out her cell phone. She quickly called the castle.

"Hello?" came a voice on the other end. Angela's.

"Angela, it's Elisa," she said. "Where's Goliath?"

"He's still out looking for Delilah," Angela said. "Why? What's wrong?"

"We found her," Elisa said. "But she's been injured." Elisa didn't want to go into details about what Delilah was doing, not yet. "I need you to find him and…"

"Wait," Demona said. "Give me that." When Elisa handed her the phone, Demona quickly began talking to her daughter. "Angela, it's Demona."

"Mother, what's going on?" Angela asked. "Elisa said that Delilah was hurt…"

"She is," Demona said. "Seriously. I need you here as soon as possible, but I also need you to bring some things from my house."

"The Bloodstone?" Angela asked.

"Exactly," Demona said. "Get here as quickly as you can."

"Where are you?" Angela asked. Demona quickly relayed the address.

Elisa watched as Angela set the chain around Delilah's neck and the Bloodstone went to work, healing her. The bullet wound closed slowly, and whatever blood that was still pooling on her stomach was quickly reabsorbed into her body. Elisa stepped away and turned towards her partner.

"Is she going to be okay?" Matt asked.

"I think so," Elisa said. "Luckily, Angela got here in time."

"Is that what Demona used to save your life?" he asked.

"Yeah," she said. "But don't make a big deal about it." She looked at the azure-blue gargoyle, who was supporting Delilah while the Bloodstone worked its magic. "I'm sure she still has nights where she hates herself for doing that." She turned as the medical examiner wheeled a shroud-covered gurney towards the door. "At least that's one less scumbag on the streets." She looked at Matt. "Thanks again for saving my can, partner," she said.

"My pleasure, partner," he said. He looked over at Kate, who had her arms wrapped around her son. "What do we do about them?" he asked.

"Nothing," Elisa said. "They've got enough to worry about right now. Why don't you go and start on the paperwork? I'll be along in a little while."

"Right," he said as he left.

Elisa headed over to Kate.

"Is she going to be okay?" Kate asked, clearly worried.

"Don't worry," Elisa said. "She's going to be fine."

"When he pointed the gun at her," Kate said. "I tried to stop him, but…"

"Don't worry," Elisa said. She looked over at Angela and Demona, who were helping Delilah to her feet. The Bloodstone had finished its work; the wound was now healed, but Delilah would still be weak for several days. "She's in good hands now."

There was the sound of wings outside, and Elisa looked to the window as Goliath stepped into the apartment. "Elisa, I heard that…" He paused as he caught sight of Demona and Angela supporting Delilah between them. "What has happened?" he asked.

"I'll tell you later," Elisa said. "Can you to take Delilah back to the castle. She's been hurt and she needs to rest."

He looked at Delilah. "Of course," he said. He went over and carefully lifted the clone in his arms, then headed for the window, pausing momentarily as Demona removed the Bloodstone from around her neck. He carefully exited the window and headed back for the castle.

Elisa returned her attention to Kate. "What's going to happen now?" Kate asked. She pulled her son close. "I don't want to lose my son. If you take him away from me..."

"That's not my call," Elisa said. "I understand what you're going through. Delilah explained your situation to me. I'll do whatever I can to help, but..."

Kate dropped to her knees and hugged her son. "Please, detective. You can't let Child Services take him away from me."

"They goin' take me 'way?" Danny asked as he looked up at Elisa.

"Not if I can help it," Demona said. This caught Elisa by surprise and she turned to look at the azure gargoyle. Demona picked up a pen and began writing on the back of an envelope. "You will call this number Monday morning," she said. "I will arrange for an interview with...someone who will be able to assist you in locating a suitable job." She handed the envelope to Kate.

"I...I can't," she said. "I don't have any skills..."

Demona picked up a sketch that was lying on the table. "You have more skills than you think," she said. She handed the sketch to her. "The individual I am putting you in touch with has been thinking about expanding her business into the fashion industry. I believe she can benefit from your eye for detail."

"Mother..." Angela started, but Demona quickly cut her off. "I'm doing something noble," she whispered softly. "Don't interrupt."

Angela couldn't help but smile at the thought.

"O...okay," Kate said shakily. "But why..."

"I believe you humans have an expression," she said. "'Never look a gift horse in the mouth'? Let's just call it a favor and leave it at that." She looked at Elisa. "You can pay me back later." She turned to Angela and handed her the Bloodstone. "Take this back to the manor," she said. "I'll join you there shortly."

"Okay, Mother," Angela said. She stepped through the window, pausing briefly to smile at her mother, and then left.

Demona turned her attention back to Elisa. "Do me a favor, detective," she said.

"Depends," Elisa said. "What is it?"

"Don't tell Xanatos about this," she said. "I don't think I would be able to live it down if he learned I did something magnanimous."

"He won't hear it from me," Elisa said.

"Good," she said before returning her attention back to Kate. "Do not disappoint me," she said. "I would hate to see a talent such as yours go to waste."

"Th...thank you," she said as Demona turned and left. Elisa waited until she was gone before turning to Kate. "If you're feeling up to it, I'd like to take you down to the station to get a statement." She looked around the apartment. "I doubt you'll want to stay here tonight. I can set you up with a temporary place to stay if you'd like."

"I don't want to impose..."

"Believe me, you won't impose," Elisa said. "Consider it a temporary relocation until we can get you settled into a new place."

"Can I pack a few things first?" Kate asked.

"Sure," Elisa said. "I need to make a few calls to get things rolling." She took out her cell phone and called her brother while Kate went into the bedroom to pack some clothes. Ten minutes later, she escorted Kate and her son down to the car and left the apartment behind.

August 3, 1999

Nightstone Unlimited

Kate looked at the address on the slip of paper, then looked up at office building. This can't be the right address, she thought. I must have read it down wrong. She looked at the address again and confirmed that it was the right place. Screwing up her courage and straightening her suit, which now seemed to feel even more ill-fitting than before, she walked into the lobby and approached the security desk.

"May I help you?" the guard asked.

"My name is Kate Roswell," she said. "I have a ten o'clock appointment."

The guard looked at his clipboard. "Yes, ma'am, you're expected," he said. He handed her a visitor's badge. "I'll let them know you're here."

Kate clipped the visitor badge to her jacket and hugged her portfolio to her chest. I wonder who she set me up to see, she thought, recalling her conversation with Demona.

"Yes, ma'am," she heard the guard say. "I'll send her right up." He hung up the phone and turned his attention back to Kate. "You can go on up," he said. "Take the elevator to the top floor. Ms. Destine's secretary will show you to her office."

"Ms...Destine?" she stammered. "Ms. Dominique Destine?"

"Yes," he said. "And you better hurry. She doesn't like to be kept waiting."

Kate walked over to the elevator and waited until she was on her way up before sagging against the wall of the car, feeling extremely light-headed. If this is a dream, she thought. I don't ever want to wake up.

A young woman was waiting for her when the elevator reached the top floor. Kate took a few hesitant steps out of the elevator before she saw her.

"Ms. Roswell?" she said. "I'm Candice, Ms. Destine's secretary. If you'll come with me, I'll show you to her office."

"Okay," she said and fell in step behind her. This can't be happening.

Candice led her across the floor until they reached Dominique's office. Candice had her wait outside until the CEO was ready to see her. A few minutes later, Dominique opened the door and a businessman in a blue suit left the office. "I'll be calling Ms. Xanatos later to finalize the arrangements," she said. "Good day, Mr. Vogel."

"Ms. Destine," Preston Vogel returned as he turned and left.

Dominique watched him leave before turning her attention to Kate. "Ah, Ms. Roswell," she said. "I'm glad you could make it. Come right in."

Still somewhat stunned by her situation, Kate obediently followed her into the office. Dominique crossed her office and sat down at her desk. She motioned to the chair opposite her and Kate sat down.

"I understand you're in the market for a job," she said.

"Y...yes," Kate replied nervously. "Although I'm not sure why..."

"You were referred to me by...well, shall we say a mutual acquaintance," Dominique said. "She said I might be able to appreciate your eye for detail." She looked at the portfolio that Kate held. "I take it you brought some preliminary artwork."

"Yes," Kate said. She opened the portfolio and took out several sketches, which she handed to Dominique. "They're not very good..."

"I'll be the judge of that," Dominique said as she went through the pages. She found several that captured her interest and singled them out. "I think you underestimate yourself," she said. "Admittedly, some of these are rather rough, but I think they could be smoothed out over time." She smiled at Kate. "I think you'll do just nicely," she said.

"Thank you, Ms..." she started, but then she took another look at the executive. "Wait a minute," she said. "You're her, aren't you? The gargoyle who..."

"You certainly are perceptive, aren't you," Dominique said, smiling again. "I like that in my employees." She stood up and reached across the desk, offering her hand. "Welcome aboard, Ms. Roswell."

"You mean...you're still going to hire me," Kate said in disbelief. "Even though..."

"Well, it's either that or I throw you out the window," she said. "And believe me, the second option will only cause problems later on. Not to mention the fact that it's a messy way to go. Believe me, I know." She leaned across the desk. "I'd hate to lose a valuable resource such as yourself, Ms. Roswell. I hope you'll be willing to work with us."

"Of course," she said excitedly. She stood up and took Dominique's proffered hand. "I promise I won't let you down."

"Be certain that you don't," Dominique said. "I expect to see you here bright and early tomorrow morning to begin work on a few ideas I have." She released her hand and walked around the desk, heading for the door. "Candice will take you down to Personnel so we can get you started on the payroll. If you have any questions about Benefits or Medical, just ask her. She'll be able to fill you in on what's available." She stopped as she reached the door. "And one last thing," she said.

"What is it?" Kate asked.

"I would appreciate you keeping my little secret just that," Dominique said. "A secret. No one here knows about my dual nature and I prefer to keep it that way. I trust I can count on your discretion."

"I understand," Kate said. "My lips are sealed."

"Good." Dominique escorted Kate out of the office and handed her over into Candice's care. Several hours later, Kate Roswell went home elated. Everything was finally looking up for her. She couldn't wait to tell Delilah.

August 4, 1999

The Saturn's Rings

"And now," the MC said. "The 'Saturn's Rings' is pleased to present, in her final public performance, the wonderfully delightful Delilah!"

The spotlight came on, illuminating a single point on the stage, and in that spot knelt Delilah. As the music commenced, she began her dance.

Elisa watched from backstage as Delilah performed. This was going to be the last time, she thought. Now that Kate finally had a secure job and a way to pay for her son's medication, Delilah didn't need to perform anymore. Of course, she had argued that she couldn't just leave Jack and her friends in the lurch. She had to give them one last farewell performance, and that it had to be special. Elisa had acquiesced, understanding the need. Of course, Jack had been upset by the news; Delilah was his main attraction, and losing her was going to cost him not just a valued dancer, but a friend as well. At least he promised to make this last show memorable, Elisa thought.

"I didn't expect to see you here, detective," she heard someone say. Scowling as she recognized the voice, she turned and found herself looking at Tony Dracon. Her eyes went wide when she saw the bouquet of roses in his hand.

"What are you doing here, Tony?" she asked.

"This is Delilah's farewell performance," he said. "I wouldn't have missed it for the world. Besides, this might be my last chance to get a private dance with her."

If it was possible, Elisa scowl grew darker at his lecherous statement. "Don't make me have to hurt you, Tony," she said icily.

"Getting a little overprotective of your friends, I see," Tony said. "Delilah's a big girl, Elisa. I'm sure she can handle..."

"Tony, let me clue you in on something," Elisa said. "Delilah's not just any gargoyle. She happens to be my kid."

This caused Tony's jaw to drop open. "You mean that you and Goliath really..."

"No, Tony, " Elisa said. "Let's just say that the circumstances of her birth are rather unique. Part of her came from me. The rest..." She let him stew over that for a minute before continuing. "Well, let's just say I don't think you'd be wanting to tell her what you told me just now. But if you want to meet her, I'm sure..."

"Never mind," Tony said, his male ego suddenly deflated. He looked at the roses in his hand. "I guess I won't be needing these, will I?" He turned to leave.

"I'll take those if you don't want them, Tony," Elisa said. "I'll make sure she gets them."

Tony looked at the roses again before handing them to her. "Here, enjoy," he said. Elisa smiled as she took the roses and watched as he left.

"You should have introduced me," Demona said as she stepped out of the shadows. "Maybe he would have given those to me instead."

Elisa looked at the roses. "You actually want them?"

"Well, red is my color," Demona said. "But now that I think about who the gift-giver was, and what he expected in return..."

"You're right," Elisa said and then tossed the roses into the trash before returning her attention to the stage. Delilah had finished one set and was now starting another. Elisa crossed her arms as she watched. "I could never dance like that," she said. "And certainly not like that," she added as Delilah began gyrating her hips vigorously.

"Goliath's loss," Demona said. "Have you told the others what was going on?"

"Yeah," Elisa said. "Goliath was real upset about it, and Derek was ready to ground her for the rest of her life, but I managed to smooth things over with them. They understand why she did it, but they're not to happy with the how." She looked at Demona. "What about you?"

"As with the others, I understand her decision," Demona said. "But after meeting with her friend, I find it hard to criticize her actions." She turned her attention to Elisa. "I always thought her as nothing more than a plaything of Thailog's; something he created with the sole purpose of replacing me. Now..." She paused as she looked at Delilah. "Now I see her as something more. She has become someone with conviction, integrity, courage. I see a lot of me in her." She looked at Elisa. "Just don't tell her I said that."

"She won't hear it from me," Elisa said. She allowed herself a slight smile as they both watched Delilah finish her final performance.

The End