I want to give a very special thank you to my Beta "London Bai" who has and is currently helping me refine the story chapter by chapter to what it will eventually be as the finished product, so thank you very much!
Thank you to everyone who has and will take the time to read my story.
I would like to invite everyone to give me your thoughts as honest as possible as the story progress's.
The annoying buzzing sound of the fifteen after five morning alarm rang through his lethargic mind. Swiftly tapping the button to silence the noise, Brandon pulled opened his eyes and crawled out of his warm bed. Brandon let out low groan as he stretched.
"Another day, another workout. Right, Snuggles?" Snuggles was his standoffish tabby cat. He thought the name would be ironically funny since she didn't even cuddle. She just seemed to tolerate him more than anything with a you-feed-me-and-I-give-you-affection kind of deal. The tabby just laid there glaring at Brandon as if annoyed that he had awakened her. He stumbled out of his bedroom down the shadowed hall towards the kitchen and opened the fridge.
"Ahh, there you are my putrid drink." Awaiting him was a protein shake he made last night and a fresh banana laying beside it. He grabbed both items before walking back into his dimly lit bedroom to get his gym bag and clothes. Giving a look of distaste at the thick drink, he chugged the shake down.
"Yup, still tastes like shit even though I switched to the berry flavor." He gagged as he peeled back the banana to replace the after taste of the shake with a sweeter flavor.
He tied up his sneakers and stepped into his bathroom to quickly splash some water on his face and hair. Looking like a million bucks wasn't really a deep concern for Brandon in the early hours of the morning; he worked out from six to eight at the local gym near his neighborhood in Manhattan. When he takes a shower at the gym, he then gets ready for the rest of his day.
"Okay, Snuggles, I will see you later," he said while taking up his gym bag and locking the door firmly behind him.
Being a discharged First Lieutenant from the Army, he had gotten used to rising quite early and getting the day started. He kept his three-day on/one-day off workout schedule that he was used to over the years. Always one to keep his mind on the task at hand, he finished his grueling workout right at eight. Setting the free weights back into the rack, he started to walk to the showers in the same direction as the treadmills when he overheard one of the televisions a sprinting someone was listening to. The reporter on the screen was going on about more gargoyle sightings and if the creatures meant humans harm, why were they here and what not.
'Why did that even matter?' Brandon thought to himself. 'The gargoyles never seemed to of caused too much trouble, only the random sighting.' It didn't bother him if gargoyles were real or not. The way he figured, if they were real and wanted to harm anyone, they would have done so already. He thought that the people who had become so fascinated yet jumped to the horrible assumption of danger were just fickle.
After his well-earned shower, he dressed in the fresh clothing he had packed in his bag and sauntered out to his parked 1971 Mustang Mach 1 and gave a small dejected sigh as he took note of the darkening sky.
"Every time, just like clockwork." Brandon hissed. He had just washed his car the day before and the weather always seemed to cloud up and rain shortly. "I really need to start checking the weather reports before I wash my damn car." He said, slightly irritated.
Popping the trunk of the vehicle, he threw his gym bag inside, climbed into the driver's seat, and pulled out of the busy parking lot towards his apartment. On the way home, he turned on the radio to one of the local news stations, they were talking about the gargoyles and these packs of hunters who called themselves the Quarrymen. Just last month, the police had put the leader of those gargoyle hunters under arrest for endangering the lives of hundreds of people on a train while trying to destroy the gargoyles, but it seemed that the smaller rogue groups kept up the fighting. One side of the radio speakers were arguing for the hunters and the other for the gargoyles.
"What a shame." Brandon said to no one. "Why can't people just leave things well enough alone?" He felt bothered that some citizens had taken to hunting gargoyles for a sick sport.
"Just because gargoyles are different, doesn't mean we had a right to kill them. What if they were intelligent? Until they actually posed a threat, we don't have any right to do that.'' A speaker announced.
Brandon shut the radio off, continuing his drive home in silence save for the loud loping of the engine. Pulling up to his tall, aged apartment building, the rain had started up; he promptly gathered his bag from the trunk and quickly ran inside of his building, up the many flights of stairs, and to his dark brown woodendoor. His apartment was on the top floor of the building. Rather than take the elevator up twenty floors, he preferred to use the stairs. Once inside, everything he owned had its particular place. The keys went over here, the bag went under there, he even had a shoe and coat rack. The lodging overall was very neat and tidy aside from the random cat toys. The space wasn't too large but it was perfect enough for him.
The reason he chose this place was because of the decent size of the master bedroom and bathroom as it was his only stipulation. The apartment also came with a big balcony overlooking the city and its wonders, so that was a plus. Adorning the walls of his home were various works of art that he had articulately painted over the years. Upon being discharged from the Army, he had taken up painting because someone said that it would ease the pain and help him readjust to the life of the happy ignorant everyday American. Just inside the living room, he had several shelves on either side of the television that housed all his various medals and certificates he had dutifully earned during his service. He was proud of his accomplishments, even if they did remind him of some pretty harsh times. Just on the other side of the living room were sliding glass French doors that led out to his balcony; he would stand out there quite often and look out for aesthetic inspiration and peace of mind.
"Almost nine." He stated as it was time to cook breakfast.
"Meeeooow." His cat voiced knowingly.
"Yes I know; you're hungry too."
Brandon pressed the button to his answering machine on his way to the kitchen, seeing that the device's red light was steadily blinking and quietly listened to the message as he began to prepare his food. Much to his disappointment, the message had been from his landlord about the high importance of not being late with his rent again for this month. Brandon wasn't usually late with any payments, but getting back on his feet after being discharged wasn't easy and trying to sell his paintings wasn't going well either.
"I hope something comes along soon or I will be on the street." He sighed woefully.
It was just past seven later that evening, interrupting the calm yet cloudy night sky was the sound of high energy laser weapons. A pack of three Quarrymen were in pursuit of a gargoyle they had seen glide past their hiding spot moments earlier. These hunters normally carried electronically powered hammers to easily crush any sleeping gargoyles they found, but when in the pursuit of one with their jet packs strapped on, they found that using stolen firearms from Xanatos Enterprises was more effective when eliminating their target. The gargoyle ducked in between buildings, quickly catching air currents to propel herself higher, trying to elude the hunters. A loud growl let loose from the gargoyle.
"Curse these damned humans. If only I was not so far from my home!" The dense clouds had opened up, letting lose a dreary rainfall. The frigid air made the rain feel like bits of sharp ice slamming against the gargoyle's tough skin. "Great..." She said in profound annoyance, "...what a night to get chased by these fools!"
The hunters were undertaking a studious effort to keep near to their unfortunate quarry. The she-garg knew that she couldn't make it back to her own safe haven in fear that they would, in turn, attack her there. She realized, at that moment, that she has no choice but to seek a temporary place to stay secure and dry.
"You can run! But you cannot hide, you cursed gargoyle!" One of the hunters shouted.
The gargoyle caught an air current and zipped high up into the night sky then back down in a darting motion to pick up enough speed to put some distance between her and her aggressors. She had to find somewhere to hide.
'As useful as my alternative would be...' She thought, sneering at the scum. '...if they believe for one moment that they're superior to a mighty race that could easily crush them, I would if I could have my way.' With the speed she had picked up, she was able to dart and weave through the buildings until her eyes found a suitable hiding place.
The gargoyle made a quick break for a balcony that had caught her eye; it had several potted trees on it and an umbrella which would make for a good hiding spot and if nothing else could keep the rain off. She landed on the balcony a little harder than she anticipated, but quickly hid behind the potted plants. She caped her wings around herself to make her profile smaller and blend into the shadows, keeping an open eye for the hunters to pass. The three Quarrymen flew by the balcony, probing the area, shouting obscene things in attempt to lure out their prey.
"If only you had not caught me off guard, I would have destroyed you all," She hissed under her breath. The Quarrymen flew by again searching all around; as determined to find her as she was not to be found.
'Perhaps this was not such a good hiding spot after all.' She berated herself.
Brandon was working on a small abstract painting when he had heard a loud thud from outside his balcony, loud enough to scare his cat into hiding under the bed, shivering, and her blue colored eyes calling out for a snuggle, which he knew from experience was quite the death sentence for her.
"Hmm... it sounded like something collapsed." He pondered aloud. "Just great, something most likely fell from the roof and broke my table and umbrella."
It was raining pretty hard with the wind whipping harshly around the old buildings of the city, so his assumption was possible. He walked to the French doors, whisked opened the drapes, and slid the sticky doors open, flicking the light switch up to peer outside in hope to see what caused the ruckus. He noticed something quickly crouch down behind the plants he had. Whatever it was, it seemed startled by his presence. He looked a little closer, gasping as lightning flashed across the night sky to reveal what was hiding. It had dark red hair, fair blue skin, and black wings wrapped around her.
There had been countless reports about them. All of the sightings, several hoaxes, and a hell of a lot of other things; but never before, even for single time, had one entered his reality. Whether he wanted to or not, there was no question that the thing before him was a gargoyle. Those eyes... they burned sinisterly crimson as a low growl came from behind the plants until the creature... she stood and flared her wings intimidatingly.
"Hey, hey! I am not going to hurt you!" Brandon said quickly, trying to not provoke an attack. "I just heard a loud noise and checked it out. You don't need to get angry, I won't attack you." He gently coaxed with a slight chuckle trying to ease the she-garg's noticeable anger.
"I am not scared of you, human. And I am certainly not afraid of you attacking me either.'' She sneered at the thought, flashing her fangs with the gesture. ''I was hiding as those being chased normally do," She informed, interrogatively eying the human.
He stared in utter disbelief for a few moments, wondering how anyone could even attempt to chase the being before him, before remembering that those hunters did exist with ferocity in their misguided hatred.
"Hunters!? I heard news reports about them hunting down your kind."
The gargoyle stood motionless, just glaring at Brandon. Both the gargoyle and Brandon suddenly heard a distant yell of one of the hunters seeming to get closer.
Noticing the gargoyle tense up, he quickly spoke. "Hurry! Come inside. It would be safer and dryer inside rather than out here, don't you think?" Waving her inside, Brandon felt as if that moment was a scene playing out like an odd TV show; as impromptu as the whole thing was.
Snarling a bit, the she-garg thought it was in her best interest to do reluctantly accepted the offer. She could easily dispatch a single human if need be, but three armed hunters were a different problem. Besides, the hunters wouldn't look inside an average human home for their 'prey'.
Brandon let the gargoyle inside, throwing the sliding glass doors shut, followed by the drapes behind them. Turning to the gargoyle, he detected that she didn't appear how he would have expected a gargoyle to look. She had red hair just reaching the small of her back, the color contrasted by her light blue skin. She didn't exactly seem all that frightening up close in the light. The gargoyle looked around the tidy apartment with a little disgust planted on her face as she caped her wings around her once more.
'I'm in a human's home.' She reminded herself, in case she was likely to have forgotten what with curiosity conflicting with her disgust, although the latter was the ruling emotion.
Brandon walked around the side of her, quietly noticing the look on her face.
"I know it's not the nicest place in the world, but it's safe at least right?" He said with a smile. The gargoyle just gave a blank stare at him, not saying a word. "I'm Brandon. Brandon Brown." He tried introduced himself hoping to wheedle her into some friendly conversation to ease the tension in the atmosphere. She looked at him strangely for a moment.
"Demona." She finally said after a lengthy pause that threatened to swallow the very ground they stood upon if not interrupted.
"That's your name?" Brandon says curiously.
"Yes, what of it!?" Demona angrily snapped.
"No, no.. nothing.. I just.. it's a nice name." He said, not sure exactly how to respond, although he knew that saying 'nice name' wasn't exactly how most people would have put it – actually, most people would have left any semblance of a humane conversation with a scream.
Demona glanced at the human, then walked past him while looking around the abode.
"Please, have a seat if you would like." Brandon pointed in the obvious direction of the dining room table.
"I will stand." Demona said firmly.
"You might end up being here for a while." He said, giving another small smile.
With a somewhat annoyed look on her face, Demona walked towards a wooden dining chair.
Squeak! Both Brandon and Demona looked down to see she had stepped on one of the many squeaky cat toys that were laying about.
Demona incredulously looked back to Brandon. "Yours?"
"Haha, no, no... That is Snuggles toy. She's my cat."
Demona raised an eyebrow obviously wondering about the name he had given to his cat.
He felt that he should change the awkward subject. "Why do those hunters chase your kind the way that they do? What could drive them so intently to destroy you?" He asked while they sat across from one another, the table acting as a neutral zone.
She looked at him momentarily before looking down and tightly clasped her talons together. "Because they can." Her voice devoid of emotion, her eyes firm and cold. "They hunt us because they can... and because they are ignorant. My kind has done nothing to them except breathe and yet they still pursue our deaths…'' Demona said, suddenly seeming dismayed and angry at her situation, reminding herself why the humans were lower than her, and yet she was sitting and talking with one as if the injustices of his people were gone. Whilst they were not, she had to pretend for the moment, for her safety if nothing else, however much it irked her.
Brandon turned his focus to her indifferent eyes, "Well, at least a few people live in this world who don't hate your kind." He said with a soft smile, trying to make her feel better.
A grumbling, gargling noise came from Demona's stomach that moment to which they both nearly gawked at each other.
"Hungry, I take it?" Brandon said as a slight redness crawled over Demona's cheeks. She was hungry and didn't get a chance to eat before being chased by the Quarrymen.
"I'm fine." She blurted out quickly and stubbornly. There was no way that she would to accept food from a human, despite what her stomach was begging of her.
"Well, look... there is a great Chinese takeout place just outside of my building. I can grab some if you like."
Demona looked at the human with a scowl on her face. "I said that I am fine human!"
A quick shiver rushed through Demona's very wet and cold body from the harsh weather still brewing violently outside, her hair stuck to her forehead and her clothes hung, heavy with rain. She crossed her arms to try to warm herself, still as sodden from the rain as ever.
"Tell you what..." Brandon started. "...you're cold, you're wet, and you're hungry. Why don't you make yourself at home for now. The bedroom is down the hall to the right and the bathroom is just inside. I'll lay out a set of towels for you and you can take a hot shower and warm yourself if you would like.''
That was precisely the moment that the mute switch of his common sense had shut off and he could hear its faint whispers telling, warning him that he was, in fact, incredibly insane, and that he had done more than enough for the creature. She didn't seem a threat. All she had done was voice discomfort, and he would have in that situation, too. Besides, he couldn't just leave her there to lose a battle between her feeble attempts to warm herself and the clingy cold of the undesirable rain.
'If she was a normal human being,' His senses began to reason, but he let the thought trail off. It would have been admirable to show hospitality, but the thing before him was in fact a gargoyle, unmistakable for a non-human, and he was certifiable. As he saw her shiver once again, the mute button went back on again, swearing that one day it would take its revenge, as if it were unaware that it had no physical existence.
Demona laughed at the suggestion. "Oh please. I will not just make myself at home, human!" She scorned, rolling her eyes at the very idea the human presented.
"Okay but, you might as well take up the 'suggestion' seeing as those hunters may still be slinking around just outside and you are liable to catch a cold."
Demona snickered at the thought. "Ha! I don't get sick, unless it is of your endless nuisance.''
A small frown fell over Brandon's face at that remark. Brushing the human jabs aside, he put on a gentle smile. "The offer firmly stands, if you want it. And you can stay through the night if needed. I am going to pick up that takeout though."
With that being said, he took out a spare set of towels from the hallway closet and laid them on the bathroom sink for when she needed them. She was still sitting at the dining room table observing him lightly move about while she was brooding about her current situation.
"I'll be back in a bit and the towels are in the bathroom." Brandon informed as he walked past Demona with a smile and left the warm apartment with his wallet and keys tucked in his jean pockets.
Demona carefully and silently watched the human leave. "What am I doing here!?" She said aloud." I have stooped so low as to take refuge in a humans' living quarters! Stay the night he says!?" Still, the thought of being chased down by the Quarrymen was a much worse scenario, so she accepted her situation for the moment and rose from her uncomfortable chair.
She decided to look around at the human's belongings. Her eyes caught the sight of several items across from her. "Hmm, military... Special Forces..." She had read on a few of the plaques on the shelves.
She picked up a box containing several medals and examined them closely. Expert marksman with both rifles and pistols he had earned several times as well as expert in hand-to-hand combat. She also noticed he possessed a purple heart for being injured while on mission to rescue hostages.
He seemed above the average human in manners and niceties, but he was still a human, nonetheless. 'And one who could prove deadly.' She thought to herself as she placed the box down and noticed the paintings hung throughout his apartment.
'Tasteful.' She noted as she turned to the backside of the living room. It was the highest form of compliment she could give to a human without losing all sense of self. There sat two easels with fresh canvases on them both and to what looked like a freshly painted picture on the ground next to them.
"Did he paint all of these himself?" She wondered.
She examined a few of the paintings and noticed they all had titles written at the bottom, a simple one- or two-word title that described the picture perfectly. Demona walked back over to the balcony and slid the drapes open looking for any sign of the hunters, maybe she would just leave if she thought it was safe.
Another shiver wreaked through Demona's body. Sure, she couldn't get sick, but she was still cold and wet, and it was still raining pretty hard outside. She growled, slightly peeved and walked down the hall to the right where his bedroom and bathroom would be. Demona ran her talons along the wall to find the light switch. She turned the lights on and looked around his bedroom seeing that it was clean; everything was in order and there was not even a wrinkle on his bed sheets. She had always called them dirty, filthy humans, but this one seemed to have a grasp of hygiene and decency.
Looking to the right, she saw the bathroom door cracked open so she walked over and gently pushed the door open. A big grin washed over her face as she saw the shower area; it was a nice an open walk-in shower, large enough for her to somewhat spread her wings. It had nice blue tile walls with crisp white caulking, with what appeared as marble flooring. The stone was cool to her feet unlike the wooden flooring throughout the rest of the apartment.
"Well, at least it isn't cramped." She said to herself. She took notice of the soap and shampoo rack as she turned the shower nob towards the hot setting. "Hmm, I suppose a shower would do me some good." Demona said as she closed the bathroom door slightly. "Well,well." She took notice of a familiar shampoo bottle. It was astonishingly the same brand and type that she used back at her own domain.
As the water began to heat up, she turned to the large full size mirror in the bathroom to the side of the counter. Her reflection stared at her when she sighed; why on Earth was she there of all places, taking shelter.
'If it entailed a shower, the questions would simply have to wait.' She told herself, removing her top. It was so wet that it wasn't hiding much of the she-garg's bust. 'The human most likely got an eye full.' The top basically peeled off from her damp skin.
She, then, unbuckled the clasp to the belt that held her loincloth in place and let it fall to the floor around her feet with a heavy plop. She stepped out of the damp clothing, picking them up she placed them over the towel rack to let them dry. Bending down, she removed her anklet, then her armlet and earrings. Lastly she removed the tiara that always adorned her head and carefully placed them on the counter-top.
Opening the glass door to the shower, Demona stepped into the steamy hot water and was immediately relieved, delightfully feeling her muscles being soothed. She was able to relax for the first time that evening, to indulge in glorious warmth whilst questions could wait, as stubborn as they were.
While she showered, plaguing thoughts of the human entered her mind. 'Why was he so hospitable?' She pondered. 'He trusted me with staying in his apartment while he left, not to mention that he trusted me to come inside at all.' Gargoyles were often portrayed as the monsters that would come from under one's bed, and while that was true if they had a grudge, they could care very little for human matters. This human didn't seem to believe the common picture, and at least she was a little thankful for that…
She sighed again, wondering how a peaceful shower had given way to another onslaught of questions, before realizing: that was a question, and that to make peace with them, she would have to acknowledge them.
'What's his game?' She wondered while letting the hot water run over her hair and down her back. The shower was large enough for her to spread her wings out to clean them. She picked up the familiar bottle of shampoo - it was her favorite scent, apple. Demona smirked as she ran her talons through her hair as she let the world around her fall away from the grasps of her mind. The hunters, the warm water, the strangely comfortable apartment, the human all gently slipped away.