Chapter Ten: Love Knows No Bounds
Elisa awoke again to a room filled with flowers, cards and other wishes for a quick recovery. Her tired eyes were assailed with a rainbow of colors and a variety of smells that threatened to make her sneeze. She fought down the urge knowing that she would regret it if she did. She blinked again pushing herself up slightly in the bed. She couldn't remember the display being there before. Then again she couldn't really recall ever being totally with it before now. All of her memories since she had come out of her coma had been stuporous and dreamlike, with only a few coherent fully remembered moments in the lot of them. For all she knew these had been here weeks. She knew that a stream of people had visited her, some remembered more vividly than others. Goliath, of course, she couldn't help but be fully conscious when he came around, she remembered Angela coming by and Hudson. Other visits were harder to remember.
"Welcome back Sleeping Beauty," A voice said off to her left. Elisa started her eyes immediately on the source of the voice, "I was beginning to think I was going to have to miss you…again."
Elisa smiled, "Hi Matt."
His stance relaxed and he returned her smile with one just as warm. It faded from his stern features as a look of concern crossed in its place, "How 'ya feelin'?"
Elisa smiled crookedly, "Like someone took all my innards out and rearranged them before putting them back in," as she laid a hand across her still tender abdomen. Matt's eyebrows raised into steeples on his forehead, and his head tilted to one side.
"Could that be because someone did…or tried to at least," Matt replied smiling.
All Elisa could do was nod looking chagrined. Her gaze drifted toward the stained glass window not seeing Goliath. She noticed that it was still light outside, barely, with probably half an hour before sundown. Yet his stony countenance was not even gracing the room, keeping watch as another statue near the window. She wondered why when he had, by his own admission, been loathe to leave the room the entire time she had been unconscious.
Elisa turned her attention back to her current visitor, sure that the answer was simple. Actually it was good for him to get out of the place for a while. "What are you doing here?" Elisa asked suddenly, "Shouldn't you be at work already?"
Matt shrugged, "I made myself into your personal liaison," He leaned in, "Seems how no one knows where this 'Eerie Hospital' is," He smiled crookedly, then he leaned back again, "So naturally everyone brings their well wishes to me and I run them out here. I've been here every night since Goliath said that you had wakened. You…don't remember talking to me?"
Elisa shook her head sheepishly in the negative, "Um, no. Did I say anything…stupid?"
Matt only smiled, "Nothing I didn't attribute to the drugs and your injury," He replied enigmatically.
Despite herself she flushed red at the thought of the things she might have let slip out during their conversations. To hide her embarrassment she turned her attention to the menagerie of gifts, reaching out and plucking a card from the holder of the nearest arrangement. Her lips moved silently as she read it, and she glanced up at Matt strangely as she replaced it and picked out another to read. She was immediately aware that none of the cards were congratulatory, "What…what did you end up telling everyone?"
Matt looked down at his nervously moving fingers, "Um, well," He looked her dead in the eyes now, "I told everyone that you had lost the baby…and that you had nearly lost your own life during the delivery. Then I told them that you were in stable but critical condition and would be in the hospital for some time. The doctor's been backing that up when others from the precinct call about your progress. We confer every day on what can be said," He smiled again looking proud. It faded when He saw the clouded expression on Elisa's face, "I figured it was the easiest way to cover the whole thing, no messy questions and all."
"I see," Elisa answered slowly looking away again replacing the fifth card. She was unable to look at Matt for a long time. Her loyalties were being pulled two ways. She was glad that Matt had found some way to cover her, not only for there being no baby, not one that she could admit to in mixed company, and for her lengthy stay in the hospital. Yet she was disturbed again by having to lie about the situation. She knew the truth and a part of her wanted the secret out. Logic however overruled that want, knowing just exactly what would happen if the world found out. Finally she closed her eyes and nodded once, "Thanks Matt."
Matt shrugged again, "No problem."
They sat talking quietly for long moments Elisa glad to be able to catch up on what was happening outside the white curtained world she now found herself in. When Elisa next glanced to the stain glass window it was completely dark outside. There was a full moon peeking through the lower corner of the window brightening the drab stone beyond her curtains.
Matt followed her gaze, jumping up as if he had been shocked, "Oh man!" Matt muttered, "I'm gonna be in for it now."
Elisa smiled, knowing exactly what his thoughts were. A man as punctual as Matt was, hated, absolutely HATED to be late…for anything. Elisa couldn't help but rub the matter in, "Late for work, huh?"
Matt paused a moment staring at her with a blank expression. He smiled in a crooked way before saying, "Your personal liaison I may be but Chavez still expects me to show before nine!"
"I know how that goes," Elisa said laughing as she watched him retreat toward the door, "Bye Matt."
He waved at her without looking back now preoccupied, probably with ways he was going to explain his tardiness to the boss.
The room fell silent again as the door closed behind Matt. Elisa heaved a sigh, feeling edgy about the silence. She was pretty sure that it was her body telling her that she had been still for much too long. Yet, when she moved she was possessed of that tearing and burning sensation in her gut that told her without a doubt, no matter how much she wanted to be mobile, her body wasn't up to it. She sighed heavily, crossing her arms over her chest and staring at the brightly-lit curtains that still shielded her bed from casual onlookers. Her head drifted back against the pillow and she closed her eyes, her boredom threatening sleep again, even if it was against her will.
The sound of the door to the room opening drew her quickly back to consciousness. She turned her head that direction without lifting it from the very soft pillow. She heard the sounds of nails on the stones, two distinct sets of footsteps, one with long slow steps and another whose were closely spaced and fast as if to keep up with the first. Every now and again the faster paced feet would skip or stop breaking the steady rhythm. Elisa's brows furrowed a bit as she heard this, it sounded like none of the gargoyles she knew, and she was intimate with how each and every one of them walked. The first she knew, all too well, the second she had never heard before.
The footsteps stopped just shy of the curtain again, and slowly it was drawn back, revealing Goliath. "Good evening," He said to her smiling warmly, "Matt said that you were up."
Elisa smiled back at him.
Her eyes moved down as she noticed movement still a little behind the curtain. A small gargoyle emerged still slapping at and playing with the curtain. He was hopping up and down with his tail lashing wildly as the curtain was the center of his childish attention. One of his small hands was firmly latched onto a large finger of Goliath's hand. The little one stopped suddenly turning his head toward her and she was hard put not to smile as his eyes became as large as saucers seeing her there. The garglet began to step closer to the bed, stretching out Goliath's arm as he maintained his hold. He paused again looking back at the bigger Gargoyle.
Goliath smiled a little, "This is Elisa," He said to the boy, "Elisa, this is Tanner."
Elisa looked down a mixture of shock and awe clear to read on her face. Surely this was not the life that she had helped bring into the world! He was too large, too well developed, too graceful in his movement, and surely he had to be another baby Gargoyle from another couple. Her head shook minutely in her musings, no, that was no explanation…there was no other Gargoyle Babies here in the castle. Elisa looked more closely at the young Garglet.
He had Goliath's strong, stern face, the same intense brooding eyes. His brows were already heavy, but unlike Goliath his sported one bony horn that wrapped his head in a thin circlet. His wings were beautiful and delicate looking as he tucked them neatly away behind him. The first jointed fingers of his wings were hooked over his small shoulders making his wings into a cape behind him. His hair was a shade lighter than Goliath's but having the same thickness and consistency, coming almost but not quite to his shoulder. What most contrasted between the two was his skin tone; his shading was much like hers was a very human shade of skin. She noticed then his small hand, he had short chubby fingers with small curving claws, noticing immediately the small articulate nub of a finger to the outside of his hand, as if another finger had begun to grow and then stopped.
Tanner looked first back at his dad and then again at Elisa, then, without warning, he hopped deftly on the bed next to her. Elisa's eyes followed the boy who was now staring straight into her face with an intensity that was not at all baby like. Both of his hands came toward her face and she made herself be still as he laid both clawed appendages onto each cheek. He moved her head back and forth slowly even as he tilted his own head side to side as if to get a better look at all aspects of her.
Elisa tore her eyes away from the Garglet to look at Goliath again who had leaned back and was now regarding them both with a bemused look. The boy shook her head a little trying to get her attention back. Her eyes darted back to that small miniature of Goliath's face as Tanner smiled at her.
Suddenly his small body was wrapped around her, arms and wings, "Mama!" He stated in a thrilled voice, rocking her back and forth as he stroked her hair with one small hand. It was all Elisa could do not to scream out, even such minor movement was horribly painful. He was practically purring he was so happy, but the moment did not last very long.
Without warning the Garglet had released his hold of her leaning back to look at her face. The joy in his face had faded and his eyes were large and suddenly sad. His eyes fell away and the boy curled in on himself a little bit. Tilting his head to one side, still not looking at her, he leaned over and lay one small hand on her belly, "Hurt," She heard him whisper. As his tail curled around his feet and his free arm curled around his drawn up knees. She watched in awe as he turned over his clawed hand curling and straightening his fingers as if remembering something. His other hand left her and he began wringing them both together rocking a little bit, "Sorry…" He said in a voice that was barely audible.
Elisa's mouth fell open a bit, and she again glanced at Goliath to see that his reaction was much the same as her own. She turned her eyes back onto the boy her face softening seeing the sadness in his eyes. Her heart breaking a little to see him so upset. Elisa reached out a hand laying it over one small clawed hand resting on his knee, "Tanner," She whispered. Tanner looked up at her finally, tears flowing down his small cheeks, and his small body shuddering, "honey, it's OK, I don't blame you. Please don't cry," Elisa said in her most convincing voice. The boy straightened a bit nodding a little and blinking furiously in an attempt to look or act strong.
His face lost all expression for a moment and the tear already on his cheeks dried as she watched. Tanner then smiled broadly bouncing a couple of times on her mattress before jumping lightly to the floor, now tugging on his father to follow him. He had seemingly forgot about the previous few moments altogether growling and slapping at the offending curtain again, even as he pulled furiously on his father's finger.
Goliath looked down at the boy, his brow knit tightly together then he turned his attention back to Elisa, leaning down. She was confused and her state evidently showed on her face because Goliath shrugged before leaning further over to kiss her. He was just as unable to explain the whirlwind mood shifts in their son, "I will come back later," Goliath said softly, lovingly before rising and allowing the hyper Garglet to lead him out of her recovery room.
Elisa sat for a long time thinking about the events that had just transpired. How? She kept asking herself. Tanner was only a few weeks old, how was it possible that he could not only identify her as his mother but also remember…REMEMBER…the events of his own birth? How could he possibly understand that he was the cause of her current medical state?
She closed her eyes and sighed…telling herself that when she was better she was going to do a survey of just what a Garglet was able to remember about hatching and the first days of life. Tanner's memories were startlingly sharp and that gave her a feeling in the gut that she could not attribute to her injury.
Elisa had meant what she had said to Tanner, there was not a part of her that blamed that darling little boy for what had happened. She and Goliath had toyed with creation, and they had both suffered the consequences.
What now did the future hold for the three of them…or the Clan? Hard feelings were not erased by Tanner's birth, that she knew deep down, and that they would resurface she also understood, whether now under Goliath's leadership, or later on, when Tanner was older.
Again her stomach knotted up, with worry and anxiety, and that aggravated her already sore stitches so she closed her eyes and forced herself not to think about it, at least at the moment.
Goliath wondered also about the strange exchange he had just been witness to, and he watched as his small son bounded back and forth down the hall, swatting at this, tail-whipping that, pouncing on the tail of one priceless tapestry.
"He seems to have forgotten completely," Goliath thought solemnly, "Tanner?" Goliath called to the boy, watching with a smile as the Garglet immediately bounded back toward him. Tanner stopped in front of him smiling widely as he hopped backwards before Goliath's persistent pacing down the hall, "Tanner, what did you mean in there?"
The boy's head tilted to one side with wide blank eyes that were aimed up at his father's face, "Purtty lady?" Tanner asked suddenly, smiling again as his father nodded at him, "VERY Purtty lady!" He said followed by a high pitched squeal of delight.
"Do you remember what you said to her?" Goliath inquired in another manner.
Tanner stopped dead in his tracks and Goliath did as well to keep from running the boy over. Again he regarded his father with a blank expression. Suddenly his face lit up and he bounded away again, he returned not a moment later, tugging none too gently on Goliath's dark wing leather, "Daddy….FLY!! Fly Daddy, fly!" He ran off again his small nails clicking as he made his way quickly down the hall. Goliath barely heard it.
Goliath's brows furrowed again unable to comprehend the sudden shift in the boy's state of attention. He had known the boy to be exceptionally bright, a little too knowledgeable for even a gargoyle babe. That had worried him, but this sudden absence of that worried him far more than eyes that seemed to be bottomless in knowledge, a face that seemed wizened beyond his age. What had happened to change that?
A thought stopped him in his tracks his breath catching in his throat, "Unless…" He breathed looking around for some clue to support his suspicion, as a chill ran up his spine.
He blinked as Tanner's small body collided with him again, "Fly Daddy Fly!" The boy repeated in a voice tainted by frustration.
Goliath blinked again looking one more time around him before looking down to Tanner, "Of course." He said trying to smile, it was an uneasy one.
As the two headed deeper into the castle a slim womanly figure shifted in the shadows, her mint green eyes glinting playfully. Her trains of gauze sang softly against the stones at her feet catching and reflecting the faint light. Her full lips drew down seeing the suspicion in Goliath's face, wondering…if she had told him instead of acting immediately, what would he have done? Her lips then curved into a knowing smile, he would be furious, she knew. Best to let the situation be, Tanner would be told again later, when he was more prepared mentally. Goliath still would not understand her motive, even when he was told, but that was a long way off. She looked down hands stiffly parallel to the ground, and closed her eyes, a cloud of smoke rose quickly obscuring her from sight. When the small puff had thinned she was no longer there.
Oh, I know call me queen of the cliffhangers(Or the biggest meanie you have ever met)! "What's it all about?" You say…well if I told you that it would spoil the next story!!! Yes there will be another…and I will promise now to explain such a cryptic ending!