She knelt there as the morning sun played with the fire burning eternally in her hair. Quiet rose from the little graveyard as seam rises from the earth after the summer rains have passed, and the sun has returned. No birds dared sing their songs; the moments of silence which ticked by were somehow too precious even for that. She turned fully and gazed at the little headstone, engraved as it was with words she had never truly grasped the meaning of. The body, which lay in the grave, had once held the life-beat of her most bitter enemy, a woman who had merely, she supposed, taken away all that she herself had pushed aside.
But now… Now, everything had changed. Now, the woman was gone, and it was she, Demona, Dominique Destine, Angel – any or all of the names had been hers at some time, and she supposed she had not yet outgrown any of them. Elisa Maza lay mouldering in her grave, and Demona wasn't only thankful – she was sad. That human had been a very important part of Goliath's life – had, she supposed, been the one to keep him going, to brighten his life when she'd had eyes only for the possibility of appeasing her need to destroy that race which had been so cruel to her kind.
It had gotten completely out of control. She had been turned into a monster by those feelings of hate and self-degradation that had built inside over the centuries of solitude that she had spent, forever trying to find a cure for the disease which ate her from within. Goliath had come close, on more than one occasion, to making her admit that it wasn't the humans fault, – not entirely, anyway, - to making her admit that perhaps, just perhaps, she, too, had had a part in the death and destruction of her kind. If she had just accepted her role in the humans' life…
"Accepted!" She spat into the morning sunlight. "Accepted such degradation? Such defamation? When all we were doing was protecting them? They and their worthless castles, their idiotic forms of government, their greed and hate and ingrained fears of anything different to what they know!" She turned and kicked dirt over the graven words of the headstone. "YOU protected your simpering, idiotic people all of your adult life, and what did you get in return but a bullet in the back? What did my clan-siblings get but a mace to shatter their stone sleep?" Demona tore at her hair, at her hateful human skin. "Look at me! I'm not like them! I'm not like you! I can't protect that which hates me, that which degrades me! I'm better than that, better than them, better than YOU!" She kicked out too far and her foot connected with the unyielding stone. She hopped about for a few minutes, tears springing to her eyes, and when the pain ceased, she found she had changed directions, and was now facing the great stone shape of her former lover, the gargoyle she had held and comforted only an hour before. "But I'm not better than you…" she whispered, kneeling down in the dirt and caressing his great, graven face. "And I think I always wanted to be, always wanted to prove to you that I COULD be the leader you once saw in me, a leader who would bring to our people the respect and equality they deserved… Gargoyles aren't meant to be treated like animals, my love; we're not meant to be taught tricks and then grovel for affection when we do them correctly… We protected them because they protected us, and then they broke that circle… Not me, not our brothers, not our sisters. They did, and why shouldn't they pay with their lives for the lives they took?"
Because those who committed the deed have been dead for a millennium… Don't you see that? You weren't there when we went to Scotland, when Goliath saw all that he had left behind, all the horrors and grief he carried around with him for so many years. Those men were but two in a race of billions, and one has gone to his rightful rest, has been forgiven; and the other has been destroyed as he should have been destroyed, for the evil deeds he committed against your race and mine.
The graveyard was no longer silent, as it had been, no longer sacred with the quiet that comes hand-in-hand with death and the long sleep that comes after. A woman stood where the grave was, a woman of mixed human race, with the blood of Africans and Native Americans running side by side in her veins. Her long, soft raven hair spoke of the Native Americans that had fathered her; the soft shape of her lips and her almond-shaped dark eyes spoke of the African tribes that had mothered and succored her. Only her accent was out of place to the rest of her; and yet it placed her right at home here as a New Yorker, which she had been until the moment she had died.
Demona stared at the shimmering form of Eliza Maza in total shock for several long moments. "And do you seek no retribution for the crimes against your kind? They are too many to count, and the people responsible for them, dead or not, as just as numerous. Why did you not seek justice? Why, instead, did you protect a race which never thanked you, never bothered to care, never bothered to think, for just a moment, that the service you were rendering them was irreplaceable?"
It wasn't about thanks, Demona. I did what I did, and Goliath does what he does, not for the thanks, but for the internal feeling that comes with doing something right. Don't tell me you've never felt it – that warm and fuzzy feeling you get when you hold a kid in your arms is the same one he gets – and I got! – inside when either of us broke up a robbery, or stopped a mugging. We punished the ones responsible for each crime in our own ways, and we gave a little back to the victims. We allowed them to keep their hard-earned money, so they could eat, and keep a house over their heads. We allowed the shops to stay open so people could go buy what they needed without fear of losing their lives when they went to buy a hairbrush. THAT'S why we did it – for the good of others. The more good you do FOR other people, the better it's going to get for you. It's what my mother always taught me, and she's right. I lived my life according to that rule, and I'm happy with my life now. You have eternity, Demona. Do you really want to spend it hating people? The swirling form gazed down at the kneeling human with the faintest hint of a smile. Take care of him, Demona, or I'll be back to haunt your ass, and don't think I won't do it.
Perhaps a year ago – even a month ago – she would have bristled at the audacity of a human even thinking about threatening her in such a manner, but the time spent in Goliath's arms the night before had changed Demona in ways even she had not fully come to grips with.
She merely nodded now, her eyes focused on the giant statue of the gargoyle she had spent a lifetime learning to love, and ten lifetimes learning to hate. "Where do I begin, Goliath?" she asked, stroking the graven features with hands that hadn't been this gentle in eons. All of Demona's anger had withered before the force of Goliath's grief. Elisa's words had meant nothing; they were as they had always been: pathetic pleas endorsing a useless race. But Goliath had loved that woman, that possible only exception to the rule in the race of fools she'd had the misfortune to be associated with, and Demona had sympathized – had empathized! – because she, too, knew what it was to love someone with your heart and soul, only to lose them to the darker desire and broiling hatred that brewed in other people's hearts.
"But where does one begin to mend a rift that has been growing for over a thousand years?" Demona asked the silent graveyard.
Elisa's spirit didn't answer, and when Demona glanced up to ask her question again, she found that she was alone.