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.
August 10, 1999
"Please, help me," the young woman cried out. "Somebody, please!"
The pair of thugs that had been chasing the young blond finally caught up with her and began dragging her towards the darkened alley. They laughed gleefully as she struggled in their grasp; they liked it when they struggled, it made the experience that much more enjoyable. As they pulled her towards the end of the alley, one of them began groping her.
"Please, help me!" she screamed.
"Ain't nobody gonna help you, sweetness," the one holding her arms said in her ear. "Ya might as well relax and enjoy it."
They both laughed at her, but then an empty tin can hit the back of the head of the one who had been groping her. They turned around and saw someone standing in the alley with them.
"The lady said 'No', gents," he said, challenging. "What part of 'No' don't you understand?"
"Back off," the one holding her said. "This piece of fluff belongs to us."
"Somehow I doubt that," he said. He started towards them.
The 'groper' picked up a piece of wood and turned to face him. As the stranger closed the distance between them, he took a swing at him. The stranger ducked back, balled up his fist and punched the 'groper' in the face. The thug spun around once before falling into a pile of trash.
The one holding the blond shoved her away roughly. She collided with the wall and slid senselessly to the ground as the thug pulled a knife and started waving at the stranger.
"Oh, you're a tough guy, huh?" the thug said. "Come on. Let's see what you got."
The stranger took a defensive stance and narrowed his eyes, waiting for his opponent to make a move. The thug stabbed at him, missing as the stranger dodged, then backed up for another try. He took another stab, but this time the stranger grabbed his knife arm and tossed him over his shoulder. The knife wielder hit the ground with a thud, but quickly got up again. He looked to the side and saw his partner begin to stir. All I need is a few more seconds, he thought.
He stabbed again. The stranger grabbed his arm again, but this time, he twisted his arm around, forcing the limb into a very unnatural position and forcing him to drop the knife. Then the stranger punched him, sending him to the pavement. He tried to get back up, but his opponent just shook his head. "You must be dumb or something," he said as he drove his fist into the thug's face again, this time breaking his nose. Grabbing the thug by the shirt, he began to pummel him, forcing him against the opposite wall.
"I repeat," he said. "The lady said..."
"Look out!" a voice called from overhead. The stranger looked up to see two figures descending towards him. One, a rather feminine figure with lavender skin swooped behind him and barreled into the thug he had believed was already unconscious. She lifted the 'groper' up and tossed him to her companion, a large portly gargoyle with blue-green skin.
"Say goodnight, pal," Broadway said as he knocked his lights out. This time he stayed unconscious.
The stranger turned his attention back to his prisoner. "Like I said, the lady said NO!" With that, he drove his fist into the thug's face one last time, knocking him unconsciousness. He dropped the thug unceremoniously to the pavement.
The lavender female walked over to the young blond and carefully helped her to her feet as she began to stir. She saw the female gargoyle and gasped loudly. "You're a...a..."
"I know," Angela said. "A gargoyle."
"That is so cool," she said, which took Angela by surprise. She had seen a lot of reactions before after she helped someone. It was very rare when there was a reaction like this.
"You're not afraid of us?" she asked.
"No!" the blond said. "My folks are members of PIT. Wait'll I tell them I met a real live gargoyle tonight!" She gave Angela a hug and ran for the street.
The stranger looked at Angela uneasily for a minute before turning towards the street.
"Wait!" she called out. "Don't I know you?"
"I don't think so," he said, trying hard to mask his voice. He headed for the street quickly, but Broadway blocked his path. "Don't make me hurt you, Broad...buddy," he said.
"Wait a minute," Broadway said. "Don, is that you?"
"Don!" Angela called out.
Don Michael Taylor sighed as he looked at the two. "I was hoping you wouldn't recognize me," he said. "Don't tell Elisa..."
"Don't tell Elisa?" Angela said, cutting him off. "Don, Elisa's been worried sick. We've been looking everywhere for you! What happened to you?"
"I needed time to sort things out," he said. "I figured it would be easier on her if I just left."
"That's the coward's way out, pal," Broadway said. "You could have at least told her where you were."
"And what do you think would have happened then?" he said. "If I know Elisa, and I do know her pretty well, she would have torn herself apart trying to figure out who she loved more, me or Goliath. I couldn't let her do that to herself."
"She's been doing it anyway," Angela said. "She's miserable, Don. She and Father haven't really seen each other since you left. You have to let us tell her..."
"No," Don said forcefully. "I don't want her to know I'm back in town. It'll be easier that way." He reached into his pocket and pulled out a set of keys. "I need to get going or I'm going to be late for work. Promise me you won't tell Elisa you saw me."
"Don..." she protested.
Angela frowned at him. As much as she wanted to say no and tell Elisa, she had to promise him that she wouldn't. If she didn't, Don would probably disappear again, and this time for good. "Okay," she said finally. "I promise. But only because Elisa's my friend and I don't want to see her hurt."
"Fine," Don said as he turned. When he did, a small ID card fell out of his pocket. Broadway picked it up as he started to walk away.
"Newtech Advanced Tech...no...logies," he read. "A di...vision of Nightstone..."
Don turned and stuck his hand out. "I need that," he said.
Angela took the ID badge from her mate. "Nightstone Unlimited? You work for my mother?"
This took Don by surprise. "Your mother?" he said. "I thought your mother was..."
"She is," Angela said. "At night. During the day, she's Dominique Destine, the head of Nightstone Unlimited."
"That fabulous redhead is your mom?" Don said.
"We generally don't think of her in those terms," Broadway said. "But yeah, she's Angela's mother."
"You might want to remember that the next time you think of her as the 'fabulous redhead'," Angela said, handing Don the badge. "Don, would you please call Elisa? I know you want to work this out, but at least call her and let her know that you're all right."
"I..." he started, but then he saw the pleading look in Angela's eyes. "I'll think about it." He turned and left the alley, leaving the two gargoyles to deal with the pair of thugs that were beginning to stir once again.
Nightstone Newtech Advanced Technologies, Manhattan
Don parked his motorcycle in front of the building and headed for the main entrance. He unlocked the door and stepped into the reception area, crossing over to the security desk. He signed into the logbook and headed around the desk.
"You're running behind," the guard said as Don disappeared into the guardroom. "I thought you would have been here by now."
Don came out a few minutes later, wearing the uniform of a security guard. "Got delayed," he said. "Had to stop a rape."
"You don't get paid to play hero, Don," the guard said. "You get paid to guard this place at night and to be here on time."
"I know," he said as he sat down and tied his shoes. "But I'm not late," he added.
"But you could have been," he said. "And I mean that in the literal sense."
"Not tonight," Don said. "I had some help."
"Let me guess," the guard said. "Gargoyles."
"Yeah," he said.
The guard sighed heavily. "This city sure has gone down the toilet since those things showed up," he said. "Bad enough, we've got to deal with the regular crap, but now we've got to watch out for those winged freaks. Do you know they even had one working as a stripper at a place downtown last month?"
"Heard about it," Don said. "Never went." Particularly since Delilah would have spotted me in an instant and then would have told Elisa, he thought.
"Well, I better get going," the other guard said. "I promised the wife I'd be home by one." He left the desk and Don watched as he left.
"Bye, Craig," he said. "See you tomorrow."
After other guard was gone, Don sat back, remembering the events that brought him here...
July 17, 1999
"I hope that she and Goliath are happy together," Don said as he turned and started walking away.
"Where are ye going?" Hudson called after him.
"I don't know yet," he said, pausing to look back at Hudson. "If Elisa asks, tell her I need time to sort this out on my own. She at least owes me that much." He turned and headed off towards his motorcycle.
After he left Hudson and Bronx at Belvedere Castle, Don left Manhattan and headed back to Jim Reuben's home in Upstate New York. He needed time to think about what he was going to do. He couldn't go back to Elisa; she had fallen in love with someone else and he had no right interfering with her happiness, no matter how much he wanted to be with her.
The next morning, Jenna, Jim's wife, told him that Elisa had called looking for him. He told Jenna to tell her that he wasn't there, then said goodbye to his friend before leaving again. He had a feeling that Elisa would be up there in a matter of hours, and he didn't want to be there when she arrived. He knew she still loved him, but that didn't matter. She was in love with Goliath. He couldn't allow himself to come between them.
Three days later found him heading back for Manhattan. He really didn't know why, only that he felt drawn back to the city. He knew it was a mistake going back; eventually Elisa would find him, but he hoped that by the time she did, they both would have had time to work things out. He only hoped that he didn't run into her by accident before then.
He rented a small apartment across town. It was small, cramped would be a better word, he thought, but it suited his needs for the time being. More than once, he had to resist the urge to head over to the Maza home and collect the rest of his belongings that they had held onto for the past eight years. I've got enough stuff with me as it is, he ultimately decided. Besides, this place is practically a closet. Where would I put everything?
He kept a low profile over the next few days, avoiding those spots he knew that Elisa would frequent on the off chance that he would run into her. After a while, boredom began to set in and he decided to go out to look for a job. He landed one the first day.
"I see you have a military background, Mr. Taylor," the interviewer for Nightstone Security said to him. "How long where you in?"
"Not counting the eight years I spent as a POW in Iraq," he said. "Eight years active duty and four months on Reserve duty before I was called up for Desert Storm."
"So you served in the Gulf War," he said. "You mentioned being a POW?"
"My Apache was forced down over Iraq in February of '91," Don said. It was a lie, he knew, but that was the official story being fed to the media. "I was liberated last month."
"You look pretty fit for someone who spent eight years as a POW," the interviewer said.
"I managed to keep myself busy," he said.
The interviewer looked at the employment sheet. "I'm kind of surprised you're looking for a job as a security guard," he said. "I would think that someone with your qualifications as a pilot..."
"My flight status has been revoked," Don put in. "Something to do with losing my helicopter over unfriendly territory. Without it, I can't use my civilian license."
"I'm sorry to hear that," the interviewer said. "I'm assuming you still have your security clearance."
"That I do have," Don said.
"Then I see no problem in welcoming you aboard, Mr. Taylor," he said. "Once I check your references..." The interviewer paused as he looked at the short list. "What's this last name?" he asked. "El...Eli..."
Elisa, he thought. Out of habit, he had written Elisa's name down, but then scratched it out. The last thing he needed was for her to find out about where he was.
"It was a mistake," he said. "My ex. We didn't part on the best of terms."
"I see," the interviewer said. "Well, it shouldn't matter anyway. You've got enough references listed here that we can probably skip that one." He stood up and offered his hand to Don. "We should be giving you a call in a few days," he said as Don got up and shook his hand. "We've got a new site opening up, and we need personnel for all shifts."
"I'll be waiting to hear from you," Don said.
A few days later, he was on the job.
So far, the job had been relatively easy. He had the third shift, midnight to eight in the morning, and all he had to do watch the security monitors and make rounds. The second part had been cut back recently as construction crews began working on the upper six floors of the Newtech building. The entire building had twenty floors, plus two sub-levels below ground. There were rumors of a third level below the other two, but he didn't bother trying to find out. Still, the idea kind of intrigued him...
A week after he started, he had his first encounter with Dominique Destine…
July 31, 1999
Don looked up as the well-dressed redhead entered the building and headed straight for the elevator. "I'm sorry, miss," he called out. "You're going to have to sign in first."
The redhead turned and gave him a sour look. "Do you know who I am?" she said icily.
"Not really," Don said. "But even if I did, you'd still have to sign in. Company policy." He gestured towards the clock. "Everyone who comes in before eight o'clock has to sign in."
The redhead stalked over to the desk and Don opened the sign-in log, placing a pen on the book. "I want to see this policy statement," she said.
Don picked up another book, this one a copy of the post orders, and opened it to the appropriate page. She read the policy he had referred to.
"All individuals who enter Newtech Advanced Technologies before eight AM are required to sign in and show identification at the security desk. No exceptions." She sighed as she picked up the pen and signed in. "I'm going to have to have a talk with whoever wrote that up," she said. "You'd think they would have made an exception for me at least."
Don waited until she fished her ID out of her purse before answering. "Well, you can talk to them about it," he said as he took her ID. "But unless you're…" He stopped when he saw the name on the badge. "Ms. Destine! I'm sorry. I didn't know it was you." Now he was nervous. How could I make such a dumb mistake as that, he thought.
"That's all right," she said. "You were only doing your job." She retrieved her ID and headed for the elevator.
As soon as the elevator doors closed, he sagged back in the chair, then began shaking his head in resignation. "Oh, man Don," he said to himself. "You really blew it this time." He looked up at the clock. It was seven-thirty. He figured he had another half an hour before he had to start looking for another job.
That proved not to be the case. When the site supervisor came in, Dominique told him about what had happened and how impressed she was by Don's professionalism. She did give him a long appraising look afterwards, as if she had sensed there were something more to him, but he later chalked that up to nerves on his part. Still, she had looked at him for an unusual amount of time…
You're just imagining things, Don, he thought. Besides, you're still trying to get over Elisa. The last thing you need is to become involved with another woman. And at any rate, you're probably not even her type.
Don sat back, thinking about what had happened. He felt he could trust Angela and Broadway to keep his secret and not tell Elisa where he was. The young female probably understood that he would disappear again if she did tell Elisa where to find him, and that he would never trust her again. Still, what Angela had told him made him think. Was he wrong in leaving the way he did? He thought that by leaving, he would spare Elisa the agony of forcing her to chose between himself and Goliath, but now it looked like his leaving had had the opposite effect. He looked at the phone. Maybe I should call her, he thought. Maybe…
He shook his head as soon as his hand touched to handset. No, he thought. If I do, then whatever chance of happiness she may have had with Goliath will crumble to dust. I can't do that to her.
He looked at his watch. Time to do rounds, he thought. He went over to the security panel and punched in the bypass code that would shut down the alarms on the upper floors and turn on the alarm for the door. Picking up his flashlight and his notepad, he headed for the elevator.
August 15, 1999
Don was on his way home from the store when a large blue-green gargoyle dropped out of the sky. He dropped his bag and spun to face him.
"Damn, Broadway," he said. "You scared the bejesus out of me!"
"Sorry, Don," Broadway apologized. "I need to talk to you."
"About what?" he asked, picking up his groceries.
"Well," Broadway said, rubbing the back of his neck. "Me and Angela are having...problems."
"What kind?" Don asked. "Marital problems?"
"Sort of," he said. "You see, me and Angela had a fight last night..."
"I don't know," Broadway said. "She said something weird right out of the blue and now she won't talk to me at all."
"Broadway," Don said. "I'm really not the best person in the world to be helping you with your marital spats. I'm the guy who walked out on Elisa, remember? I'm the last person who should be giving you advice."
"But you're the only person I can talk to about it," Broadway pleaded.
"What about Brooklyn or Hudson?" Don asked. "I'm sure they could give you better advice than I could."
"Brooklyn and Sata are off somewhere on patrol," Broadway said. "And Hudson's over at his friend Jeffrey Robbins. And I know I can't go talk to Goliath. If he found out that me and Angie had a fight..."
Don sighed heavily as he reached the door to his apartment building and opened the door. "Come on inside, " Don said. "We'll figure out what you did wrong while I put this stuff away."
"What I did wrong?" Broadway gasped. "I didn't do anything wrong."
"You must have," Don said. He opened the door to his apartment and went inside. Broadway followed him inside. "Didn't they give you the pre-wedding pep talk when you got married?"
"Yeah," Broadway said, then rattled off the three rules they had given him.
"Well, it sounds to me you goofed on the last one," Don said.
"But Angela didn't say that anything was wrong."
"A lot of times, the most obvious indication that something is wrong is absolute silence," Don said. "Believe me, I know." He finished putting his groceries away and turned to look at Broadway. "Trust me on this, Broadway. "You goofed up somewhere."
"But I haven't been doing anything," Broadway protested. "All I've been doing for the past week is teach Delilah how to cook."
This caught Don's attention. "Explain," he said.
"Well, last week, Delilah came to the castle and asked me to teach her how to cook," he said. "She wanted to help out more with the kids down in the Sanctuary, so I told her I'd help her."
"So for the past week, you've been teaching Delilah how to cook," Don said. "Nothing else?"
"No," Broadway said defensively.
"Did you tell Angela?"
"Well, no," he admitted. "Delilah asked me to keep it just between us. She wanted it to be a surprise."
"So let me see if I've got this straight," Don said. "You've been secretly meeting a lovely young gargoyle who used to work as an exotic dancer in order to give her cooking lessons, right?"
"Right," Broadway said.
"And you haven't told your mate about any of this," Don added.
"Yeah," Broadway said. "I don't see anything wrong…" He stopped as he made the connection. "Uh, oh."
"Yeah, right uh, oh," Don said. "I get the feeling you're going to have some heavy duty explaining to do when you get back to the castle tonight."
"Can you tell her?" Broadway pleaded. "I don't think I could face her…"
"Uh, uh, Broadway," Don said. "You dug yourself into this hole. It's up to you to dig yourself out of it. You might want to start out with an apology first, though. Then tell her the truth."
"What if she doesn't believe me?"
"Then I suggest you get ready to be skinned alive," he said. "Because once Goliath finds out…"
"I get the picture," Broadway said. As he turned to leave, Don heard him mutter, "Boy, I sure hope her mom doesn't find out about this. I'd be in real trouble then."
August 16, 1999
Demona sat at her desk, going over the reports for her meeting in Paris. Everything was proceeding nicely, she thought. Within the month, Newtech would be up and running…
She paused as she looked at the next page and realized something was wrong. "Okay," she said, looking at the top of the page. "Where are pages seventeen through thirty?" The last page she had read was sixteen and the one she held now was thirty-one. Where were the pages in between? She went into her briefcase, searching desperately for the missing pages. Where were they?
Then she remembered. She had left them on her desk because they needed to be retyped. And Candice had called in sick, so they hadn't been done. They're probably still sitting there on my desk at Newtech, she thought. She looked at the pages of the report that she did have. I guess I'm just going to have to do it myself, she thought. She put the pages back into the briefcase and headed for the balcony. I just hope there are no more surprises tonight, she thought.
Nightstone Newtech Advanced Technologies, Manhattan
Don sat down at the security desk, then picked up the book he had started reading that night. He glanced at his watch for a moment before turning the page, then smiled broadly as he read the next passage. Now that IS funny, he thought.
There was a tapping on the door. Don looked up and saw Angela standing outside, a depressed look on her face. He got up and went to the door, opening it and letting her in.
"Angela, what's wrong?" he asked, but he could already guess what was going on. Broadway didn't tell her, he realized.
"Don, I…I think that Broadway…"
"I know," Don said. "You're afraid he's cheating on you."
"How did you…" she started.
"Broadway came to see me last night," Don said. "He was wondering why you were mad at him."
"I think I have every reason to be mad at him," she said. "Especially if he's…"
"Helping teach Delilah how to cook?" Don said.
"That's what he told me," Don said. "He said that Delilah asked him to teach her how to cook so she could help out more in the Sanctuary."
"And you believed him?"
"I don't know if I did or not," Don said. "I don't know you guys well enough to be able to tell whether you're lying or not, but somehow I don't think Broadway was. I'd think that after spending three years together, you'd be able to better than I could." He looked at her. "Have you even asked him about it?"
"No," Angela admitted. "I've just been so angry."
"What made you think he has been cheating on you in the first place?" Don asked.
"Every night for the past week, he's been leaving right after sunset," Angela said. "A few days ago, I followed him partway to the Labyrinth. I lost him, but later when I asked him about it, he was pretty evasive about where he had gone."
"Broadway told me Delilah asked him to keep it a secret," Don said.
"Then that should be proof that he is…" Angela started, but then Don held up his hand.
"From what I saw of the two of you at Elisa's last month," he said. "I seriously doubt that he would start chasing after other women, even someone as lovely as Delilah." He looked at his watch. "Listen, I have to do rounds right now," he said. "If you want to wait until I come back…"
"Can't I go with you?" she asked. "I'd like to talk some more if you don't mind."
Don looked at the lavender female. "I guess it would be okay," he said. "Just as long as nothing happens." He went over to the security panel and bypassed the upper floor alarms, then activated the alarm for the main entrance. When he was done, he escorted Angela to the elevator and began his rounds.
Demona landed by the main entrance of the Newtech building. She risked a quick peek inside and saw that the guard that was usually on duty was gone. Probably doing rounds, she thought. Of all the guards that worked at the site, she knew that Don Taylor was one of the more diligent ones. When it was time to do rounds, he would do them, correctly and on time. She put her hand on the door and gave it a tug. Locked. It didn't matter, she had the key. She quickly let herself in and headed for the security panel.
She quickly punched in the sequence that would silence the main entrance alarm and turn off the alarm for her office. Satisfied, she headed for the second elevator. "If I'm lucky," she said to herself. "He'll never even know I was here."
"So have you talked to Elisa yet," Angela asked as Don got back into the elevator.
"No, not yet," he said hesitantly.
"Don, you need to call her," she said. "She and Father…"
"I know, Angela," Don said. "Believe me, more than anything I wish I could tell her that I'm back in town." He paused as the doors opened onto the next floor. He turned the control key in the elevator panel, shutting off the door controls and leaving them open. "But if I did that, I screw up any chance that she and Goliath have of staying together. You said it yourself, they haven't seen each other since I left. If I stay away, eventually they'll end up together again." He turned and walked out of the elevator, checking the floor.
"You don't know that," Angela said, following him. "They may never get back together after what happened. Don, you have to give Elisa a chance. Please, at least call her to let her know where you are and that you're all right. I told you before she was worried sick about you. If she knows that you're okay, maybe then she'll stop worrying and that will give her and Father a chance to get back together."
"Or maybe she'll want me back instead," Don said. He reached the end of the hall and turned around, heading back for the elevator. Eleventh floor done, he noted. Ten more to go. He paused as he saw Angela blocking his path. "Angela, I really don't want to get into this right now," he said. "It should be my decision to make, not yours." He stepped up to her and placed his hands on her shoulders. "You know I love Elisa. That's the reason why I'm staying away. I love her too much to hurt her, and I know that if I force her to make this decision, it's going to tear her apart. I can't do that to her."
"Don…" Angela started, but Don cut her off.
"Angela, you came to me wanting my help," he said. "And I gave it to you. The thing you need to do now is go home. Talk to Broadway. I'm sure that you and he have a lot to talk about. Let me handle this thing with Elisa in my own way." He released her shoulders and stepped around her, heading for the elevator. Angela quickly followed him, still wanting to talk to him, but deciding to table the discussion about Elisa. I know I promised not to tell her where he was, she thought. But I'm going to have to anyway. I have to let Elisa know.
The elevator doors opened onto the tenth floor. Stepping out of the car, Demona reached over and flipped on the light switch. That's odd, she thought when the lights stayed dark. She gave the switch a couple of more tries before giving up. Why were the lights dead on this floor? Surely the work crews were finished with it by now. She set the question at the back of her mind as she turned and headed down the hallway to her temporary office. She didn't need the lights anyway, she could see quite well at night. She reached her office and quietly unlocked the door, letting herself inside.
The elevator doors opened and Don turned the key in the elevator control to keep the doors open. "I wonder why the lights are off," he asked.
"Maybe the workers turned them off when they left," Angela said.
Don felt for the light switch and clicked it several times. "No," he said. "There's still supposed to be a few on. They're hooked in to the main circuit breaker." He took out his flashlight. "Stay here, I'll go check out the panel. A breaker's probably just been tripped." He turned down the hallway.
Angela stood there waiting for him. Don was nice, she thought. Almost like Richard. He had that same acceptance about him. And there was something else about him that…
The sound of a door closing broke her reverie. She looked down the hall in the direction the sound had come from. Don had gone the other direction and was already out of sight.
She quickly headed down the hall. Probably someone doing some last minute office work, she thought. But if it were, why would they be working in the dark? She listened carefully and heard movement coming from one of the offices. She looked at the nameplate on the door. Office of Dominique Destine, CEO, it read. Her mother's office. Was there someone inside stealing from her? Angela wondered. If so, they were in for a big surprise. She gave the doorknob a slow turn and then burst into the office.
Demona looked up from the desk. She was putting some papers back into a file.
"Mother, what are you doing here?" Angela asked.
"This is my office," she stated. "I needed some financial reports for my meeting in Paris later this week."
Angela had forgotten that her mother was leaving town on Wednesday. "Why didn't you take them before you left this afternoon?" she asked.
"There was a mix-up," Demona said sheepishly. "Candice called in sick this morning and the pages that needed to be retyped didn't get done. I'm going to have to do it myself before I leave." She looked at her daughter. "I might ask you why you're here, Angela."
Angela looked down at the floor. "I needed Don to help me answer a few questions," she said shyly.
"About…" Demona said, crossing her arms.
"I was worried that Broadway was cheating on me," Angela said.
"He's been spending a lot of time down in the Labyrinth," she said. "I was afraid that he and Delilah were…"
"It seems I'm going to have to have a talk with that mate of yours," Demona said dangerously.
"Oh, that's okay, mother," Angela said quickly. "Don helped me understand what's going on. Broadway's been teaching her how to cook, so she can help out more with the kids down in the Labyrinth."
Demona mulled that over in her mind. Obviously, her exposure to Kate and her son had brought out Delilah's maternal instincts. Then something in her mind clicked.
"You mentioned Don," she said. "Are you talking about the security guard downstairs?"
"Yes," Angela said.
"And just how well do you know him?" Demona asked.
Angela wondered how much she should tell her mother about him. "He's a good friend, mother," she said. "I met him last month at Elisa's."
"The detective knows him?"
"They were going to get married once," Angela admitted.
"Really," Demona said. "When was this?"
"They got engaged just before he left to serve in the Persian Gulf War," Angela said. "But then he disappeared."
"Humph," Demona said. "Typical human male."
"It wasn't his fault," Angela said. "His helicopter got caught up in the Phoenix Gate and ended up here."
Demona wondered about that. If the Gate brought him forward in time, then it must have been for a reason.
"You're not going to tell Elisa, are you?" Angela asked.
"What?" Demona asked. "She doesn't know he came back?"
"She knows," Angela said. "But Don doesn't want her to know he's still in town. He's still trying to sort things out. His coming back has caused some problems."
"What kind of problems?" Demona started to ask when suddenly the lights came on in the office. She started to look up at the lights when her ears caught the sound of a high-pitched whine coming from behind her. She turned and caught sight of a small device taped to the wall behind her.
"Angela!" she called out, leaping over the desk. She tackled her daughter just as the device went off and suddenly the office was engulfed in flames.
Don caught sight of the open circuit breaker panel. He shined his flashlight on the breaker for the tenth floor. It had been turned off. He took out his notepad and looked down the list. Power to the tenth floor wasn't supposed to be shut down, he noted. He put away the pad and clicked on the circuit breaker.
Lights immediately came on. As he turned, his ears caught the high-pitched whine of something unfamiliar. He turned and caught sight of a device hidden behind a ventilation panel. His military training took over and he dived for cover as the device went off.
"Angela, are you okay?" Demona asked as she picked herself off of her daughter. Her leap had thrown them clear of the office, which was now completely engulfed in flames.
"Mother, what was that?" Angela asked. Her ears caught the sound of more explosions. "What's going on?"
"Sabotage," Demona hissed. "Someone must have set explosives throughout the building! We have to get out of here!"
"What about Don? We can't just leave him!"
"He's probably already outside," Demona said. She grabbed for Angela's hand. "Come on!"
"No," Angela protested. "He went to check the circuit breakers for this floor! The explosives were probably set off when he turned them back on!" She turned and ran down the hall. "Don!"
Demona took off after her daughter.
Don picked himself up from the floor and looked around. He could feel the heat from the fire behind him. Somehow, he'd managed to throw himself clear of the blast, but he was still in danger from the fire itself and the hallway was rapidly filling with smoke. He could also hear more explosions. Someone's got a real grudge against Nightstone, he thought. He turned and looked down the hall. He had to find Angela and get her out of here.
Elisa looked over as Matt came out of the small store carrying two cups of coffee and a small bag.
"Thanks, Matt," she said as her partner handed her one of the cups. She took a swallow. "This is great," she added. She took a look inside the bag. "Donuts?" she questioned. "We're not going to fall into that old cliché, are we?"
"I figured you could use a little pick-me-up," Matt said. "You have to admit, you haven't been the same since what's-his-name came back."
Elisa felt her shoulders sag for a moment. "I asked you not to bring him up, Matt," she said. It had been a month since he disappeared again, but at least this time she knew the Phoenix Gate wasn't responsible. Brooklyn had made it clear that the Gate was done with him. But Don hadn't called, hadn't written, to let her know he was all right.
"Sorry, Elisa," he said. "My mistake. I promise…"
His words were cut off by the sound of an explosion.
"All units, all units," came the squawk on the radio. "Fire and explosions reported at the Nightstone Newtech Facility. All units in the vicinity, respond."
"That's just down the street," Matt said.
"Call it in," Elisa quickly said. Matt grabbed the mike and responded to the call as Elisa stomped on the accelerator and sent the car speeding towards the fire.
"Angela," he called out. "Angela!"
Don began coughing as the smoke continued to fill the hallway. He could still here explosions going off, but they seemed to be increasing in lag time. He heard another explosion close by, and then he heard something else. A scream.
"Angela!" He took off running.
Demona had her hand on Angela's arm when she heard another explosion, this time almost on top of her. She started to look up as debris from the ceiling and the floor above rained down on her. She quickly pushed Angela out of the way.
"Mother!" Angela called out. She started to run to her mother's side in order to dig her out when more debris came down on top of her.
Don caught sight of Angela just as a chunk of ceiling came down on top of her. He rushed to her side as she collapsed and gingerly turned her over.
"Why didn't you stay by the elevator?" he asked her. No response, he noted. She was unconscious. He gently picked her up and slung her across his shoulders. "I've got to get you out of here." He turned and headed back down the hall, hoping he could make it to the emergency stairway.
Behind him, Demona looked up and caught sight of him as he disappeared into the smoke.
Elisa watched as the fire trucks converged on the building and began efforts to put out the blaze. Several times, they had to back off as explosions blew out windows and sent debris raining towards the street.
"My God," Matt said. "I hope there's nobody in there."
Don doubled back when he saw flames blocking his path to the stairway. He kicked open the door to an unused office and gently placed Angela down on the floor. He quickly bent down and began checking her over. He smiled as he found a strong pulse.
"At least you're alive," he said. He looked around the office and focused on the windows. "Let's see if we can keep you that way." He went over to the desk and grabbed the chair. Picking it up, he sent it sailing through the plate glass window.
The sound of shattering glass drew Elisa's attention. She looked up just in time to see a desk chair falling towards the street. She ran over to the fire chief.
"Captain," she said. "Tenth floor."
He followed Elisa's gaze and saw someone by the window. He ran over to the ladder truck and began shouting instructions. Very quickly, the ladder was extended and started to swing into position.
Don caught sight of the ladder heading towards him and ducked back into the office. He turned and ran over to Angela's side as she began to stir.
"Angela, are you all right?" he asked.
She moaned softly as she tried to focus on him.
"I'll take that as a maybe," he said. He picked her up and started heading towards the window. He caught sight of the firefighter as he appeared in the window.
"What happened?" the firefighter asked.
"She got hit by falling debris," Don said as he passed Angela to him. "I think she'll be okay, but she needs medical attention."
"Mother," Angela said groggily.
"Don't worry, Angela," Don said. "We'll let her know as soon as…"
Angela was suddenly lucid. "No, she still inside," she said. She tried to squirm out of the firefighter's grip, but weak as she was, she couldn't break his grip.
Don looked over his shoulder towards the hallway. "She's here?" he asked.
"In her office," Angela said. "She needed some reports for her meeting in Paris…"
Don was already heading towards the door. "Get her out of here!" he called back.
"Wait a minute!" the firefighter yelled as Don disappeared through the door. He started to crawl through the window. Just then his ears picked up a high-pitched whine. He had just gotten clear when the office erupted in flames.
Elisa watched as flames erupted through the window of the office. Thankfully, Angela and the firefighters managed to get clear of the flames, but one of them was having a hard time keeping her from racing back into the inferno. Somehow they managed to get her down to street level. Elisa ran to her side as she was handed over to medical personnel.
"Angela, what happened?" she asked.
"Elisa, you have to tell them to let me go back in there," Angela cried. "Don and my mother, they're both…"
"Don's in there?" Elisa gasped. "What's he doing here?"
"He asked me not to tell you," Angela said. "He's been working here as a security guard. I only found out about it last week. Please, you have to…"
"You're not doing anything, Angela," Elisa said. She put her hand on the young gargoyle's shoulder and drew back when she felt the blood. "You're hurt and you're bleeding. Let us take care of you."
"Don can take care of himself," Elisa said as she guided Angela to the back of a waiting ambulance. I hope, she thought silently.
Don caught sight of movement ahead. It could have been a trick of the smoke, but then it cleared for an instant and he saw a shock of red hair. The same as Dominique's, he realized. He started to run forward as he saw the floor beneath her start to collapse.
Demona finally crawled out from under the debris that had fallen on her. She struggled to her feet and looked down the hall. She could barely see in front of her, both from the smoke and the pain. I should just sit here and wait for the fire to finish me, she thought ruefully. At least then the pain would stop. But she couldn't. She had to make sure Angela got out safely. She'd seen someone carry her away in the direction of the emergency stairway. With any amount of luck, Angela was already outside. She took a step and felt the floor beneath her start to give way. She made a desperate leap forward but it wasn't enough to get clear. She started falling downwards as the floor collapsed beneath her.
Suddenly, she felt a hand close around her wrist. She looked up as she felt herself stop falling and caught sight of Don above her, his right hand closed tightly around her wrist.
"Hang on!" he shouted. He tried to pull her up, but her weight shifted and he almost lost her. He quickly tightened his grip on her wrist.
"What are you doing?" she shouted back. "Where's Angela?"
"She's safe," he said. "I came back for you."
"Are you mad, human?" Demona asked. "Let me go. Save yourself." Even as she said it, Demona couldn't believe she had actually uttered those words.
"No way," he said. He shifted his grip slightly and managed to pull her up towards him. "Angela'll never forgive me. And besides, it'll look bad on my record if I let the boss lady go up in a puff of smoke." He extended his free hand down to her. "Give me your other hand and pull yourself up."
Demona looked up at him for a brief moment as she hung there. There was something about him, she realized. Something she had seen before…
There was another explosion that shook them. Don closed his hand around her wrist even tighter and Demona felt a sudden pain in the wrist. He'll break it before he lets go, she realized. She made a grab for his other hand and started to pull herself upwards.
As she cleared the hole, she felt his arm go around her waist to help her out. Not expecting the contact, she shifted and found herself falling again, but this time she ended up falling on top of Don. That gave her the unexpected opportunity to look deep into his eyes. There was something there, she thought, and it drew her closer to him.
She felt his hands on her waist again.
"I don't think this is the time and place for that," he said, snapping her back to reality.
Demona drew back in surprise. She couldn't believe she'd almost done that! She stood up quickly and almost bolted away from him, but he made a quick grab for her arm.
"This way," he said. "The stairway in that direction is blocked. We have to use the one on the east side of the building." He pulled her after him and Demona found herself unable to resist.
Goliath and Broadway landed next to Elisa as she held an oxygen mask to Angela's face. A paramedic was busy securing a bandage to Angela's shoulder.
"What happened?" he asked.
"We don't know yet," Elisa said. "It looks like arson."
"Someone deliberately set this fire?" Goliath said.
Angela quickly shoved the mask away. "Father, Don and Mother are both still trapped in there," she said desperately.
Goliath looked at Elisa. "Is this true?"
"I don't know," Elisa said. "If they are, then they're the only ones in the building."
"What were you doing here?" Broadway asked his mate.
"I needed some advice," she admitted. "I was afraid that you and Delilah were…"
Broadway was stunned. "Angie, I would never do something like that. I love you." He quickly but carefully wrapped his arms around her.
"Then why were you spending so much time in the Labyrinth?" Angela asked him.
"I've been teaching Delilah how to cook," he said. "I even borrowed a few recipes from Elisa's mom that are real good. If you want, I can share some with you."
Angela smiled. Don had been right. She only hoped that he would make it out of the fire alive so she could thank him.
Don yanked open the door to the emergency stairway. It was filled with smoke, but he could make out the stairs.
"Come on," he said. He pulled Demona's hand and started downward.
His grip on Demona was what saved him. As he stepped off the stairs onto the ninth floor landing, he realized suddenly that it wasn't there anymore. Demona quickly jerked him back. Through the thinning smoke, he could see that the stairs were completely gone from that floor down.
"I guess we won't be going out that way," he said. He looked upwards, then took a look at Demona. "Think you can get us out of here if we can get to the roof?"
Demona examined her wings. Parts of them were shredded, but she nodded anyway. If they were lucky, Goliath and the rest of the clan would be waiting for them, she thought.
Don grabbed her hand and pulled her up the stairs after him.
They made it as far as the fifteenth floor before fire cut off their escape route. Don pulled open the door and pushed her ahead of him.
There wasn't as much smoke on this floor, Demona noted, and it appeared that no one had set any explosives. Probably because it was incomplete, she thought. Too much construction was still going on and someone planting explosives would be a bit too conspicuous.
"We should be safe here for the moment," Don said as he opened the door to one of the offices, but then their ears picked up a suddenly all-too familiar sound.
Don quickly slammed the door closed and shoved Demona out of the way as the wall next to him exploded.
Elisa looked up towards the fifteenth floor. Don? she thought. Something's happened to him.
Demona scrambled back to where Don lay, covered with debris. She felt for a pulse. She found it, but it was weak. She looked around at the fire starting to consume the floor and began clearing the debris away. She had to get him out of here, she thought anxiously. When she got the ruins of the wall off him, she gently picked him up and headed towards the far office. If she could get out onto the side of the building, she could climb up to the roof or glide across to the warehouse roof across the street. She kicked open the door and gently set him down before opening the window. She leaned out and looked up. Smoke billowed up and blocked her view for a moment, but she got enough of a look to realize that the roof was no longer an option. The upper floors were completely engulfed in flames. She looked out across the street. Several floors below, she could see the roof of the Newtech warehouse. If she was lucky, she could glide across to it, even with her damaged wings. She ducked back inside and went over to Don, picking him up and carrying him to the window. She set one foot onto the sill and then turned as her ears picked up the sound.
A high-pitched whine.
Elisa looked up as another explosion sent debris falling towards the street from the fifteenth floor. And along with the debris, she could see something else. Demona.
"Goliath!" she called out.
He looked at Elisa then followed her gaze and saw Demona plummeting earthward.
"Mother!" he heard Angela cry out as he jumped onto a fire truck to try to save her, but even as he did, he knew he was too late.
The explosion caught Demona just as she was turning back around to jump out of the window, not caring where she landed, just as long as she got away safely. Unfortunately, Don's weight slowed her down. As she went sailing out the window, she almost lost her grip on him, but managed to hold on and pulled him tight against her. She quickly spread her wings, but they were too badly damaged and wouldn't slow her fall.
She could see the street racing towards her at an alarming rate. Knowing she only had seconds left, Demona quickly turned herself around, placing her own body between Don and the roof of the vehicle they were falling towards. She shut her eyes tightly as she waited for impact.
Demona's body slammed into the fire chief's wagon, collapsing the roof and shattering the windows. Angela was up in an instant, racing to her mother's side.
"Mother, no!" she cried out. Goliath quickly jumped down from the fire truck and blocked her path as Elisa tried to stop her.
"Angela, there's nothing you can do!" Elisa said. She knew that Demona was immortal; that even if this fall claimed her life, it wouldn't keep her from getting up again and shaking it off, but Angela wouldn't listen. She'd been like this that same night when Demona and Thailog disappeared in the roller coaster fire at Coney Island. Fortunately, Goliath wasn't going to let her pass.
"Father, Elisa, please!" she pleaded. Goliath took Angela in his arms and felt her begin to cry.
Elisa saw one of the paramedics step up onto the car and began examining her. When he lifted her wing, Elisa caught sight of someone else.
"Oh my God, Don!" Elisa called out. Goliath, still holding onto Angela, couldn't stop her as Elisa broke into a run towards the scene.
Luckily, Matt was there and he intercepted Elisa as she neared the vehicle.
"Let me go, Matt," she protested as she tried to brush him away.
"No way," he said. "You said it yourself, there's nothing you can do."
She almost drew back and punched him, hating him for throwing her own words back at her, when she heard the paramedic call out.
"We've got a live one here!" he said. "I need a backboard and a collar!"
Stunned, she didn't protest when Matt eased her away from the car. She watched in silence as the paramedics eased Don onto the backboard and then carried him to a waiting ambulance.
Goliath managed to get Angela seated on the rear step of another ambulance and waited until another paramedic finished examining her before walking over to Elisa and Matt.
"Is he…?" he asked.
"I don't know how," Matt said. "But somehow he survived the fall." He shot a cautious look at Elisa before returning his attention to Goliath. His expression told him more than he was telling. It was possible he won't survive the night, Goliath realized.
There was movement on the roof of the ruined car. Goliath turned and saw an azure blue arm start to rise. "Demona," he gasped.
Elisa turned and caught the movement. "I need a medic over here!" she shouted.
The paramedic that had examined the gargoyle looked up in shock as he realized she was moving. "That's not possible," he said. "She was dead a minute ago." Even as he said those words, he was retrieving another backboard from the ambulance.
Elisa quickly jumped onto the hood of the car and looked down at Demona's face.
"Don't move," she said. "We'll get you out of here." She turned her attention away.
"Angela!" she called out. "I need you over here!"
Angela quickly ran over to them. "Is she…?"
"I need you up here," Elisa said. Angela got up onto the hood of the car and knelt beside her. "Hold her head still," Elisa instructed.
Angela placed her hands on either side of Demona's head and looked down at her.
"An…gela," she heard her mother gasp.
"I'm here, mother," she said. "Lie still."
The paramedics got the backboard into position and began to slide it under her. One of them looked at Goliath. "We might need some help with this," he said.
Goliath understood and stepped to Demona's side. He carefully slid his arms under her and gingerly eased her up slightly to give some clearance as the board was eased under her, first passed the tail and then the wings. He could hear Demona moan in discomfort as another paramedic fastened a cervical collar around her neck.
Elisa carefully laid Demona's arms across her chest, drawing the attention of one of the paramedics as she noted that the lower portion of her right arm was strangely bent, possibly broken.
"We're going to need a splint for this arm," she said.
One of the paramedics nodded and headed for the ambulance to retrieve a splint and pull out a gurney. The rest of them took up position around the battered gargoyle and took hold of the backboard.
"Okay, everybody," the one who initially examined Demona said. "On three. One…Two…Three!" They lifted the backboard clear of the car and moved it towards the gurney. "Watch the wings, guys," he added, noting that Demona's wings were dragging on the ground. Angela quickly got alongside and gently draped them across her mother's chest.
Demona tried to look around as she felt herself being lifted, but the collar prevented her from moving her head. An unnecessary precaution, she thought to herself. If her neck had indeed been broken, it still wouldn't matter, because it would eventually heal. But when she looked up and caught the worried look on Angela's face, she decided to keep still.
They got her settled onto the gurney and she moaned as one of the paramedics tried to shift her right arm slightly to get the splint on it. When it was on, he gently placed the arm back across her chest. They quickly strapped her in and then wheeled her to the ambulance. Angela was by her side every step of the way.
"Please be still, mother," she said as Demona tried to turn her head to look at her. She took Demona's other hand in her own and gave it a gentle squeeze. "You're going to be all right."
"What…what happened?" Demona asked. "Where am I?"
Angela looked at Elisa, worry clear on her face. "What do you remember, Demona?" Elisa asked.
"I remember…falling," she said. She closed her eyes as she tried to recall what happened. "The fire. Don!" She tried to sit up. "Where is he?"
Angela quickly put her hands on Demona's shoulders to hold her down.
"He's on his way to the hospital," Elisa quickly said. "You…saved his life."
Demona could tell something was wrong by the way Elisa forced the words out, but she was in too much pain to work it over in her mind. She felt the gurney come to a halt as they reached the ambulance.
"Okay, guys," the paramedic said. "Let's get her loaded."
Demona moaned softly as she felt herself being loaded into the ambulance. She was dimly aware of Angela's presence as she climbed into the back of the ambulance with her.
Manhattan General Hospital
Angela paced back and forth in the waiting room, waiting for word on Demona and Don's conditions. More than once, she had snarled at someone who had given her a sideways glance, as if she didn't belong there. It wasn't long before Goliath showed up with Elisa and Broadway and they tried to get her to sit still.
"Why is it taking so long?" she said impatiently.
"Angela, calm down," Elisa said. "You're not going to do anyone any good if you don't." She looked at Goliath before resting her hand on Angela's shoulder. "I know that this really isn't a good time," she continued. "But I'm going to have to ask you a few questions about what happened." She guided Angela back into the waiting room and got her to sit down.
"Is it really necessary?" Goliath asked.
Elisa looked over at him. "I'm afraid so, Goliath. From what Angela told me before you got there, it sounds like someone deliberately set that fire. I need to get as much information as I can for the Arson Investigation Team."
"I understand, Elisa," Angela said. She sat back and began telling Elisa what had happened.
Several minutes later, Dr. Sato came into the waiting room.
"Detective Maza," he said. He gave Goliath and Angela a brief look before turning his attention to Elisa.
"How are they?" she asked.
"How is my mother?" Angela quickly added.
Dr. Sato looked at Angela. "Your mother is still in critical condition," he said. "But all indications are is that she is going to be fine. Don't ask me how. There's still a lot about gargoyle physiology I don't know or understand. But as long as she remains stable until sunrise, she should be okay."
"Can she be moved?" Goliath asked. He knew that Demona wouldn't want to stay here any longer than was necessary, considering the fact that she turned into a human during the day, instead of turning to stone. "There is a medical facility that is equipped to handle…"
"I would advice against moving her just now," he said. "She suffered severe spinal trauma in addition to a compound fracture of the right arm and extensive damage to her wings. Maybe after a few days of rest, she'll be stable enough to be moved."
"What about Don?" Elisa asked.
Dr. Sato looked at her. "I wish I had better news," he said.
Demona slowly looked around as she regained consciousness. Where am I? she wondered. She sat up slowly and took in her surroundings.
She was in a hospital recovery room, she realized. Quickly, she recalled what had happened. They must have brought me here after the fall, she thought. She brought her hand to her neck when she felt a twinge and encountered the cervical collar still around her neck. Then she became aware of the cast on her right arm. She slowly closed the fingers of her right hand and winced at the pain.
Okay, she thought. The arm is broken. Not much she could do about it until it healed, which should be a few days. Of course, she really didn't need the cast, since any bones she had broken in the past had always set correctly. Still, she resisted the urge to remove it. If closing her fingers was painful, she really didn't want to find out what would happen if she tried to straighten her arm.
She glanced at the clock on the wall. It was almost three o'clock. Oh, great, she thought. Sunrise was only a few hours away. She had to get out of here. She tossed aside the covers and swung her legs over the side of the bed.
A nurse came in just as her feet touched the floor. "Hey, you shouldn't be up," she said. Demona snarled at her as she stood up and promptly collapsed onto the floor.
"Oh, hell!" the nurse swore as she rushed to Demona's side. She put her arm around the gargoyle's waist and began lifting her back up.
Demona hissed in pain as pins and needles ran up the length of her legs. Aw, hell! she thought, squeezing her eyes shut at the pain. What did I do to myself?
The nurse managed to get her back onto the bed. "Are you okay?" she asked. "Do you want me to get Dr. Sato?"
"No, I am fine," Demona said painfully. The pins and needles sensation was starting to fade. Okay, I must've broken my back as well in that fall, she thought, adding that to the list of general pains she felt. I'll probably need to see a chiropractor after this.
The nurse was still hovering by her side, watching her. Demona carefully turned her head and looked at her. "Really, I'm okay," she said. "I just need to get out of here."
"Not for a couple of days," the nurse said. "Doctor's orders."
Demona glared at her. I should just push her out of the way and leave, she thought. I can't afford to have anyone else learn my secret. So why wasn't she? Probably because you can barely stand on your own two feet, she thought.
"Then can I at least have my clothes back?" she asked.
"What, the Victoria's Secrets number you were wearing when they brought you in," the nurse asked.
"Yes," Demona said. She plucked at the hospital gown she wore. "This…abomination really wasn't designed with gargoyles in mind."
The nurse left the room and came back a few seconds later, carrying Demona's halter top, loincloth and jewelry.
"Thank you," she said.
"Whatever keeps your husband happy," the nurse quipped.
"What?" Demona said.
"Your husband," the nurse said. "That is him out in the waiting room with your daughter? Big guy about as tall as the Eyrie Building."
Goliath, she realized, remembering that he had been there when the paramedics loaded her into the ambulance. "Not really," she said hesitantly. "We're…separated."
"Sorry to hear that," the nurse said.
"You said my daughter is out there with him," Demona said. "Is she all right?"
"A few cuts and bruises," she said. "Nothing too serious. Do you want me to get her?"
"No, that's all right," Demona said. "I just needed to know that she is okay." She looked around the recovery room. "Where is…" she started. What was his name? she thought.
The nurse looked at her expectantly. "Who?" she asked.
"There was a human I pulled out of the building," she said. "Is he here?" She turned and looked at the nurse and caught the sad expression on her face. No, she thought. "Where is he?"
"He's in ICU," the nurse said. "We're doing all we can for him, but…" She paused as she caught the look of anguish on Demona's face. "You really need to rest. I'll let your family know you're awake." She paused at the door briefly before leaving.
Demona tore off the hospital gown and began dressing. She had to see him.
Elisa braced herself for the news. "How long does he have?" she asked, knowing what Dr. Sato was about to say.
"Not long, I'm afraid," he said. "A few hours maybe. We're doing all we can right now, but odds are he won't live past sunrise."
Behind her, Angela broke down into tears. Broadway quickly wrapped his arms around her.
I'm losing him again, Elisa thought, trying hard to keep from crying herself. "There's nothing you can do?" she asked, trying to keep her voice from quivering.
"Barring a miracle, nothing," Dr. Sato said. "I'm sorry, detective. There's just too much internal damage. Does he have any family here in New York?"
"No," she said. "No family." She turned to look at Goliath. "We're the closest thing to family he has right now," she said.
"I understand," Dr. Sato said. He looked at Broadway comforting Angela for a moment before returning his attention to Elisa. "I'll give you a few moments of privacy," he said before turning and walking towards the nurses' station.
"It's my fault," Angela said, crying.
"No it's not, Angela," Elisa said, turning to face her.
"Yes, it is," she protested. "If I hadn't told him Demona was still inside, he never would have gone back in after her."
"Angela…" Elisa started.
"It's true," Angela said. "It's all my fault."
"Angela," Goliath said. "You cannot take the blame for something that was out of your control."
"He's right, Angela," Elisa said. "Don made the decision to go back in after Demona. There was nothing you could do."
"But if I hadn't told him Demona was inside," Angela said. "He never would have gotten hurt. He would have been safe." She finally felt her knees give out and she started to sag to the floor. "It's all my fault."
Goliath picked her up. "Broadway, you should take her back to the castle. And tell the rest of the clan what has happened. They have a right to know."
"Okay, Goliath," Broadway said. He wrapped his wing around Angela's shoulders and began leading her outside.
Goliath turned to Elisa and spotted tears glistening in her eyes. "Is there anything I can do, Elisa?" he asked. He put one talon to her face and caught a single tear as it rolled down her cheek.
Elisa continued desperately to fight back the rest of the tears. "No, Goliath," she said.
"I wish there was, but…" She lost the battle and dived into Goliath's arms, sobbing against his chest. "I'm losing him all over again," she said, crying.
"I know, Elisa," Goliath said. He gently placed his hand on top of her head. "I understand how you feel." He remembered that moment, years earlier, when he learned that his Night Angel was alive, only to see her fall seemingly to her death hours later after she and Xanatos tried to destroy him and the rest of his clan.
"This isn't supposed to happen," she said. "Brooklyn said that Don was alive in the future. How could he be if he's dying now?"
"I do not know," Goliath said. "Perhaps Brooklyn was attempting to spare your feelings. It is possible he knew about this and didn't want to tell you."
"I can't accept that," Elisa said. "There has to be something we can do. There just has to be." Fresh tears began to fall and she buried herself into his chest. Goliath wrapped his wings around her as she silently prayed for a miracle.
Demona watched unseen as Dr. Sato broke the news to Elisa, Goliath and her daughter. From the look of anguish on the human's face, she could tell that the news wasn't good. Angela broke into tears and Broadway quickly gathered her into his arms.
"Barring a miracle, nothing," she heard the doctor say when Elisa asked if there was anything that could be done to save Don's life.
Demona felt a wetness on her cheek. She reached up to brush it away, wondering what it was and realized it was a tear.
She was crying. Crying over a human.
How can that be? she thought. She hadn't done that in over four hundred years. And Michel had been special, she thought. There had been something unique about him. A certain 'quality' that he had that had been lost when he died. She'd never encountered another human who had that uniqueness about him until…
Suddenly, Demona was heading down the hallway as fast as her damaged body would allow her. She had to see him, she thought. She had to make sure.
"Doctor," the nurse who had checked on Demona said to Dr. Sato, giving a brief look towards Goliath and Elisa.
"What is it?" he asked.
"The female gargoyle," she said. "She's awake."
"I'll let them know," he said. He waited until the nurse left before approaching Goliath and Elisa.
"What is it?" Goliath asked.
Dr. Sato hesitated for a minute. "Where are the other two?" he asked.
"Broadway took Angela back to…back home," Goliath said. "Why? Has something happened?"
"I wanted to tell her that her mother's awake," he said. "But I see…"
"Can we see her?" Goliath asked.
"I really think that…" he started.
"Demona…was my mate," Goliath said. "Angela is my daughter, as well as hers." He looked to Elisa. "I understand that it is permitted for family members to see…"
"At any rate," Elisa said. "I need to ask her a few questions. She was hurt in an arson fire. I need to get as much information as I can for the Investigation Team."
Dr. Sato sighed. He really didn't want the police to begin grilling his patient, even if she weren't human, but he understood the need. "Okay," he said finally. "But only for a few minutes. I don't want you upsetting her. She's been through enough as it is." He turned and headed for the recovery room.
The nurse came running from that direction, frantic. She stopped as soon as she saw Dr. Sato heading her way.
"What is it?" he asked, seeing the look of anxiety on her face.
"She's gone!" the nurse said.
"What?" Goliath asked.
"The gargoyle," she said. "She's gone!"
Elisa quickly pulled away from Goliath and rushed into the recovery room. The bed that Demona had been on was empty, except for the tattered remains of the hospital gown.
"Where could she have gone?" the nurse asked.
"How would be a better question," Dr. Sato said. "There is no way she could have gotten out of here on her own. Not with the level of damage to her spinal column that I saw in the x-ray."
"Demona has extraordinary recuperative powers," Goliath said. "It is very possible that she left on her own." He turned his attention to Elisa. "I will go and see if she has left the hospital. It is possible she is on her way home." He turned and left.
Elisa turned her attention back to the nurse. "Did she say anything to you the last time you saw her?" she asked.
"Well, she did ask about the young man that was brought in a little while ago," she said.
"What did you tell her?" Elisa asked. As soon as the nurse told her, Elisa was heading for the ICU ward.
Elisa found Demona standing outside the ICU ward, her hand pressed against the glass as she gazed in at Don. When she saw Demona's reflection in the glass, Elisa realized that she was crying.
"Hello detective," Demona said softly, sensing her presence.
Elisa approached her cautiously. When she got close enough, she touched Demona lightly on the shoulder. When she didn't flinch or pull away, Elisa rested her hand on Demona's shoulder.
"You heard then," Elisa said.
Demona closed her eyes and let her head sag as much as the collar would let her. "It's my fault," she said quietly.
"What?" Elisa asked, not sure she'd heard what Demona had said.
"It's my fault he's in there dying," Demona said. "If I hadn't been there…"
"Demona…" Elisa started, but then backed up slightly as she turned towards her.
"I know what you're going to say, detective," she said. "That this isn't my fault. It is. If I hadn't been there tonight, none of this would have happened."
"You can't know that," Elisa said. "Demona, you can't blame yourself for this mess. Angela already is. She's blaming herself because she told him that you were still inside and that she didn't tell me where he was." She paused for a moment, looking into the ICU ward where Don lay dying. "If anything, this is my fault for not telling him the truth from the beginning. I should have told him about Goliath, and now…" She trailed off as she felt fresh tears begin to fall.
Demona turned, watching as the tears began to roll down Elisa's face. "You still love him," she said. When Elisa quickly looked up, she continued. "Angela told me that the two of you were to be mates once, and if not for the Phoenix Gate, the two of you would be by now." She turned her attention back to the ICU ward. "She also told me that his returning has caused some problems." She looked at Elisa. "Is this true?"
"Yes," Elisa said quietly. "Demona, I know I have no right to ask you this, but…" She paused, waiting for her to respond.
Demona could sense what Elisa was going to ask her, but she couldn't bring herself to say the words. The Bloodstone could save him, she thought, but she knew the last thing Elisa wanted to do was beg for his life. She doesn't want to pay the price she knows I would ask in return.
Elisa turned to look at Don. I can't do it, she thought. I can't ask her to save his life for me, even if it means losing him forever. The cost would be too great. She rested her head against the glass and let the tears flow.
The azure gargoyle watched as Elisa began to cry, and she felt a heaviness settle into her own heart. I could choose to save him, she thought. She looked at Elisa. Just as I chose to save her those months ago. She reached out to rest her free hand on Elisa's shoulder.
The heart monitor fluctuated severely, setting off an alarm, and doctors swarmed into the ward, trying to stabilize his condition. Elisa clenched her fists as she could feel him slipping away. Goodbye, Don, she thought sadly.
When she turned back to look at Demona, the azure female had disappeared.
Demona set the chalice on the table and then took the Bloodstone out of the pouch, laying it carefully into the bowl. This was going to be the second time this year you used it to save a human, the voice inside her said. Is he worth it?
Demona looked at the dying human. Each ragged breath he took was like a knife to her breast. She couldn't stand by and let him die, not after he had sacrificed himself to save her.
And will he be grateful? the voice asked. Or will he end up back in the arms of the human?
She paused then as she began to draw the knife out of the pouch. What would he do? she was forced to wonder. She knew that Elisa still ached for him, that Don had left rather than force her to chose between himself and Goliath. If she did this, what would happen between Elisa and Goliath?
She heard the heart monitor fluctuate again, and it brought her back to reality. It didn't matter, she thought. She had to do this. If not for Elisa's sake, then her own. Elisa knew that Demona had the Bloodstone, knew the power it had. The detective had seen her use it more than once and had been the recipient of its power when she lay dying from the elfshot Madoc had shot her with. But she hadn't been able to bring herself to ask Demona to use it to save him. She could have begged her to save Don's life, but she hadn't. Probably because you would have refused if she had, the voice said. So why not just turn around and let him die, like everyone expects you to.
Because I can't, she told herself and quickly pulled out the knife. Not if what I sensed in him earlier was what I thought it was. Before she could think about it any further, Demona broke the cast off her arm and drew the edge of the knife across it. She hissed in pain, the area around the break was still tender and she'd passed the knife right through it. She carefully turned her arm as the blood began to flow and let it drip into the chalice and onto the Bloodstone.
The Bloodstone sprang to life and she carefully picked it up and stepped over to Don. She fastened the chain around his neck and then stepped back as the Bloodstone went to work.
Dr. Sato came in and gasped as he caught sight of Demona.
"What are you doing here?" he asked. "You shouldn't be…" He caught sight of the glowing stone around Don's neck and stepped forward to remove it. "What are you doing?"
Demona quickly barred his path and winced as he bumped her arm. "Please, don't interfere," she said.
"Whatever you're doing…" he started, but then he caught the look in Demona's eyes. There was no malice there. He looked back at Don. "What is that? he asked.
"You told Detective Maza that, barring a miracle, nothing could be done to save him," she said. She turned her head and looked at Don, watching as the Bloodstone healed him. "There is you miracle, doctor," she added.
Dr. Sato took a step towards the bed and watched as bruises and damaged tissue healed with remarkable speed. When he turned around, Demona was gone.
Elisa looked into the ICU ward. She could see the Bloodstone was still in place around Don's neck. It had ceased glowing, but Dr. Sato and the rest of the hospital staff had decided to leave it there, reluctant to disturb the 'miracle', as Demona had called it. She turned slightly as she felt Goliath's presence behind her.
"Has he awakened?" Goliath asked as he rested his hands on his shoulders.
"Not yet," she said. "Dr. Sato said he might not wake up for another day or so." But at least he will wake up, she thought to herself. He will live. She brought her hand up and rested it on his. "Goliath…" she started hesitantly.
"You wish to be with him when he awakens," he said. "I understand." He had a feeling this would happen. Ever since Don's return, Elisa's heart had been in a state of turmoil, and his sudden departure hadn't helped matters. Goliath knew she still had feelings for Don. There was no denying that. But now it looked like she truly wanted to be with Don, instead of himself. He hoped that he was wrong, but somehow he sensed that he was right. He took his hands from her shoulders and turned to leave.
When he looked back and saw that Elisa hadn't turned to follow him, he knew that he had lost her. He turned and left the hospital.
"Goodbye, my Elisa," he said as he flew off into the night.