"Have to be, big guy. You never have any other kind."
"It is nothing, I am sure."
"Come on, I know that look. You're pondering something big."
"It is... I should not dwell on it, dark dreams and false futures. They are the stuff of a trickster's cruel game - and yet..."
"False future - oh. Oh."
"Yes. I had nearly managed to put it from my mind, but..."
# # #
Lex was excited. Too excited to sit still, even for an extended IM chat with Staghart. The time-zone difference made those fleeting time windows when they could both be online rare and precious - but tonight was different. Special. Cybercon. The fourth annual cyberbiotics and robotics blowout that took up an entire Manhattan city block. Too risky to go to the convention proper - there would be tons of cosplay, but Quarrymen would be on the lookout there for any too-realistic Gargoyle costumes.
But the Parade - that they could go see. Heck, it could probably be seen from space. Like the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, but with towering mechanical creatures instead of balloons - say what you would about Hello Kitty, seeing a 30-foot one stomping down the street was really, really impressive. Especially if you knew the inner workings, the beautiful, intricate connections that made it blink and move and almost come alive. while everyone else oohed and ahhed at the flashes and pounding music and block-party atmosphere, he'd be imagining the graceful clockwork and elegant programming that went into every wonder. Undressing them with his eyes.
Ooh, dat motherboard.
But then he stopped. He ceased the all-fours scamper through the castle's familiar stone corridor, and stood up - he'd heard his name.
"Hmm?" He turned, looking around, bu the hall was empty. Shrugging, he made to continue - but there it was again. Goliath - not calling for him, just talking at a normal level, a low rumble that was hard to understand from another room. The last clear word at the end of a sentence, it sounded like - "blahblahblah, Lexington."
Lex automatically turned and headed toward the sound of his leader's voice. His thoughts hadn't caught up to his feet; it wasn't important to articulate the bone-deep clan instinct to follow and flock, close and ready.
"The Halloween celebration. His... cyborg costume."
"Yeah. I thought I'd seen that before," Elisa - and now Lex smiled. It had been a pretty amazing costume, one of his best efforts in his own humble opinion. He stopped at the doorway, staying out of sight. He couldn't help it, knew he shouldn't eavesdrop, but the praise made him just a little warm in his tummy with excitement. They were still talking about it, weeks later!
"I mean, he was probably just going along with Angela and Broadway's Wizard of Oz theme, like a futuristic Tin Man, but..."
"Yes. It was too familiar."
"The first sign, first hint I've seen that that - daymare, may come to pass."
A daymare? Goliath had bad dreams? Lex couldn't imagine his mature, powerful leader scared of anything. And it had to do with his costume, of all things? To borrow a phrase, what sorcery was this? It wasn't even meant to be scary...
"Have you noticed anything else?" Elisa sounded tentative, concerned, a tone he didn't often hear from the confident, together detective.
Goliath took in a deep breath, let it out in a rumbling sigh. "We were all badly hurt by Demona's betrayal," he said gravely. "The pain eased, but the pattern continued. He has not fully recovered from the Pack's treachery, and I do not know if he ever will."
Lex froze, a cold shock running through him as if he'd been doused in ice water.
"I know what you mean. When they're involved, he... goes a little overboard."
"To put it lightly."
"But come on, his priorities are still in the right place. Remember the oil rig? He had a choice between revenge and saving Brooklyn - and he made the right call."
"Yes. And if it had ended there, I would not worry. But our long absence in Avalon, the weeks that followed..."
"Hey. I know that look too. You can't blame yourself, Goliath. I know - we all know - that if you could have, you'd have been home in a heartbeat. We didn't have a choice."
"I know. And yet, I cannot help but remember that was the impetus. We never returned. And that abandonment-"
"In their minds, at least, we abandoned them. And to go through those long years, to watch our city crumble in our absence, to be left to pick up the shattered pieces alone... Clans are not meant to be separated!"
"We weren't, not really. It wasn't real. None of it was-"
"You were not there, Elisa." Goliath's voice was rough, as if he struggled to hold back a roar like thunder from a flash summer storm. "I saw and heard the destruction, smelled the blood... felt Broadway's life slip from my hands. This was no mere dream. Yes, it was a sadistic illusion from Oberon's ruthless child, intellectually I know this. It is nothing but a bad memory. And yet to see something from that memory with my own waking eyes..."
"We're back now. It never happened. Hell, it was probably never even a possibility! Puck knows how to play on your guilt, he can find your deepest fear and use it against you."
A long pause, and Lex held his breath. Finally, Goliath spoke again, so low he had to strain to hear.
"He destroyed us all. Not here, not the Lexington we know, but in that... potential future, the damage ran so deep that he betrayed his clan and friends and killed them, one by one. Brooklyn, Demona - Angela. 'All gone bye-bye,' that is what he said. And then I-"
Goliath's voice rose again, hard and strained from - what? Anger? Pain?
"I can still remember his face. The way he looked when I - I!" He cut himself off with a stifled, furious snarl in the back of his throat.
That sound made Lexington start; he recoiled from the wall as if it had burned him. He had no idea what he'd just heard, but he didn't want to hear any more. Goliath and Elisa were upset, scared of him, it was surreal. Some kind of alternate future - a bad dream? Puck? All about how he'd done something terrible. He'd hurt his friends. Worse than hurt.
All gone bye-bye.
Shaking, heart pounding and breath coming in shallow gasps, Lex turned and stumbled back down the stone corridor.
# # #
"I killed him," Goliath murmured with a sort of slow incredulity, as if he still could not quite believe his own words. "He betrayed us all, obliterated his entire clan - and then I killed him in return. That, of everything, I cannot forget."
"It was a lie." Elisa's voice was hard, and it made him look up to meet her eyes. She didn't coddle, she only told him what he needed to hear when it was the truth. "It was a manipulation, and the Lex you saw wasn't him. None of them were. It brought out the worst in everyone, Goliath. That's what lies do."
She made herself smile. "Besides. Even if it were a real possible future, we've changed it. It can never happen, because we made it back."
"You're right," and now the undercurrent of pain in the deep notes of his voice was gone, replaced by warmth. "As you say, it was a lie - and it failed. We are a clan. A trickster's shadow play changes nothing. We are alive, together again."
If he was still trying to convince himself, he at least did a good job of it.
"Yeah. Maybe the silver lining in all this is we'll appreciate the here and now more. It's kind of like a fresh start. How often do you get a second chance? All we can really do is keep moving forward."
She didn't have to force herself to smile anymore, and it started to feel good. "Know I'm glad to be home."
After a long moment of quiet, Goliath nodded, some of the sharp-edged intensity fading from his face. "As am I."
# # #
A/N: This is the first Gargoyles fic I've ever written... and I've been a fan for 17 years, aahaha! This just wouldn't leave me alone, though. It had to be done. It probably has been done before, but I don't care, it wouldn't let me rest until I got it out.
The reference to the costume is from the graphic novel continuation. I just about peed myself the first time I saw that, both with laughter and then horror. I figure Goliath had pretty much the same reaction (minus the lulz).
There is definitely going to be more. I'm excited.