Author's Note: Is this reality, or yet one thread alongside another in an endless string? This is just a fragment from what could or couldn't be, what should or shouldn't be, and what very well may be some time from now. Canon? Sometimes, as my imagination will guide these small stories written when I feel the need to slow down and think small. The purpose? Just a sliver between the major plotlines, just a simple indulgence to show these characters aren't governed by battle and living under the constant threat of death. Just a slice of life.

A Slice Of Life: "Rising Sun"

December 26th, sometime beyond present day...
He moved, and she awoke from a slumber half draped across her consciousness, dazed and sleepy, skirting the blurred edges just beyond a dream. Pillowed into his chest, the massive stretch of crevassed lavender flesh used as her berth, she pulled away all too reluctantly when he shifted on his place sprawled across the bed. Like always, she had fallen prey to the soothing, addictive rhythm of his steady breath and heartbeat, a triple pulse in perfect succession. And the warmth exuded from the suede texture of his hide fighting off the chill of the winter season, she had immersed herself within the cloak of his wings curling around them both, and the scent of leather and sky.

She blinked, adjusting her sight to peer through illumination dim, abstruse and pleasant, shadows flickering and dancing across the stone walls and furniture, a wondrous frolic by creatures fashioned from simple objects given breath and measure by the roaring fire contained beyond. A sharp contrast in light, she thinned her eyes when turning her head and staring into the flames crawling and lapping at the edges of the distant fireplace, an orange radiance warm and embracing in itself, alive with color and turning her skin a gilded copper.

The falling snow pelted at the windows on each side of the canopied bed, by way of the gentle winds at the Eyrie building's towering height, and piled against the sills and the corner of each framed glass pane, a corner scene usually unnoticed within a Rockwell painting. A temperate flurry of tarnished white against a lightened plum sky, of brittle crystal shattering upon impact against the stable barriers, a silent barrage beautiful, and enticing. A favored memory throughout her childhood and adult life, Elisa took a moment to cherish the sight of serenity made tangible, to better remind herself of the simple pleasures between the sometimes constant battle that made her life worth fighting for.

She noticed the sky having lightened considerably since she last saw, and knew dawn would soon approach between the rains of ice and confection.

The fire hissed by its fuel of natural gas, and the castle's background whisper somehow slipped through between the narrow crack of their bedroom doors left slightly ajar. Goliath's breathing only added to the still atmosphere, and the absence of a familiar chatter triggered an alarm buried deep within the back of her skull, and only recently acquired with the additions to her family. It was quiet she deemed. "Too quiet." she murmured, wiping the sleep from her eyes, her delicate fingers entangling between the falling strands of hair stubbornly refusing their place alongside their silky brethren tucked precariously behind her ears.

The ground underneath her repositioned and trembled, as the mighty giant roused from his slumber and stirred. A tremor of sound rolled through his body, and beneath the precipice of spurred bone, charcoal gleamed annoyance at being awakened. "...hmm...?"

Elisa propped herself up on one elbow lodged directly between his pectorals, as her husband lifted his head from the pillow, caught between reality and the haze of slumber in a murky perception. "You hear anything?"

Disturbed from his nap, the holiday festivities with his six children over the last few days having sapped the leader's strength, he lowered his brow and laid his head back down, intent on falling back asleep. "No."

Elisa's brow arched disbelievingly, always the skeptic, even towards her own winged offspring plucked from between her thighs. "Exactly." She swept her legs from atop Goliath's form, sitting up on her knees in the folds of the duvet and quickly darting her eyes to their massive bedroom where they last left their youngest children, scanning for their presence. "That means the gruesome foursome have probably caused more damage while we both dozed off."

Goliath burrowed deeper into the bed, grumbling, a deep rumble vibrating through his entire chest. "The children are fine."

"When they suddenly fall silent, I get worried. Need I remind you of the Ming vase that once welcomed visitors through the main elevators?" She tapped her finger into his chest, beside the amulet that kept him flesh during the daylight hours, to better make a point by grabbing his attention. "Six point five million dollars reduced to a pile of shards spread across the entire floor."

"We apologized, Xanatos accepted." he answered, his voice muffled by his face halfway buried into the pillow. "And furthermore, he merely replaced the broken vase with another from his generous collection within five minutes."

"Not the point."

"The children are fine." he assured once more, his wings slowly curling in towards his body to perhaps deflect Elisa's constant apprehension.

Elisa tried at least to agree with her husband, but the continuous flashes of what her excitable progeny could inflict when left to their own devices made dominant the detective and mother. And indeed, she had witnessed over the years what the fusion of blood by gargoyle and human was ultimately capable of, and that thought alone led her to rise and touch her bare feet to the thick, carpeted floor. To hunt for them, and sway her own fears.

She waded into the vast expanse that was her bedroom shared with Goliath, the ceiling towering, and the walls wide and far in between, the trimming opulent but simple to her urban tastes. Each ornament settled into perfect place on shelves or side tables were a tribute of her life with the gargoyle she mated. Nearing the fireplace where the children had last been seen, Elisa could make out between the waltzing shadows several silhouettes on the floor flanking the stone hearth. She smiled, and shook her head, as the suspicions she once developed were far-reaching indeed.

Skye and Storm, her identical twin sons, both of Goliath's coloring, but one a dark violet, the other a light mauve. A peculiar consequence, but as always with a human gargoyle coupling, it was an unpredicted roll of the proverbial dice in more than just skin tone. They had fallen asleep in front of the fire, immersed in their newest toys from an awarding Christmas bounty. Construction equipment, toy trucks and loaders and bulldozers, for them to better build their own cities and worlds limited only by their combined imagination.

Trinity, the oldest, lay on the couch facing the fireplace, with her younger sibling Liberty curled up beside her. The oft-squabbling sisters, having battled for their parents' affection ever since the latter's birth, were silenced and peaceful at last, one piled upon another with eyes closed and dreaming big dreams fit to burst with adolescent hopes and desires.

Elisa kneeled beside the twins with her head held in her hands, first marveling at their work, and then their sleeping forms. Every time she looked on her boys, she wondered if this was her husband when he was but a hatchling, their features so similar, but her sons' bodies small and souls so innocent. She wondered if like the boys before her, Goliath had any idea he would be destined to live an adventure enough to fill more than ten lifetimes.

"What did I tell you?" came her husband's voice, as Goliath appeared from the darkness and over the couch, reaching down to affectionately caress Liberty's wing limp on her older sister's legs.

Elisa, lying on her stomach beside her youngest, watched them draw breath slowly, their skin milky and smooth and nestled into the carpeting, and their raven hair catching every spark and flicker of the firelight within the haloed sheen. A single strand released from a lengthy mane and drooped into Skye's face, and the mother tenderly swept it from her child with reverence at the satiny texture. "They look like angels."

"All children do," said Goliath, coming around the side of the couch and reaching massive arms and taloned hands towards the sleeping girls, "when they are asleep, and not readily destroying everything in sight."

As Goliath delicately pried his daughters from their resting place on the couch, Elisa stood and leaned over to lift each young hybrid into her arms. With their weight becoming greater with every passing day, it thus put a slight strain on the human to heave one to her shoulder, and the other left clinging to her back with her hand underneath his tail to support him. They moved to reposition themselves, their warm refuge altered to a more familiar scent.

And Skye, the child with the lighter skin tone, and known as the slightly more well-behaved side of the twins of terror, woke, and rubbed his eyes to better see the blurred figure holding him closely against her chest and shoulder. The long tress like molten ebony floating over her shoulders, the scent of lingering perfume and moisturizer, all were a dead giveaway to the mystery figure, lost in the intense haze of the light from the flames. "Mom?"

Elisa nuzzled her face into her son's hair, his wings fluttering. "Bedtime."

"But mom...we're not finished..." he protested, smothering a yawn that flaunted openly his gargoyle fangs. "An' I'm not...tired..."

"Liar." she joked, as Skye did certainly fall back into the slender crook of her neck, the child struggling to keep awake even with a dispute against his exhaustion. "You've all had a busy week, and you two can continue building your own little universe tomorrow." She looked down to their half-completed structure, of plastic blocks and fabricated building supplies, and modeled after Wyvern it was a majestic palace to the eyes of a child and his mother as well. "It'll still be there when you get up."

"Promise?"

Elisa nodded sincerely. "Cross my heart..."

"...an' hope t' die." Storm chirped from behind, slumped across Elisa's back with his arms around her neck, and fighting against the lull of exhaustion to keep his eyes open.

They were flaccid in her arms, their wings draped over their shoulders and her own, their tails hanging from below the bend of her elbows, swaying with each step she took towards the bedroom doors, following Goliath as he cradled his daughters in his arms. They passed into the main corridor, the lighting subdued, the embellishment festive. Fir and pine and cinnamon sweet, the scents fused into a more powerful entity, a singular vibrant aroma lightly wafting through the castle halls, and playing an enticement upon their olfaction.

"Do we haveta brush 'ur teeth?" Storm asked drowsily, hoping for a reprieve.

"Not tonight. I doubt you two could stand up at the sink long enough."

The celebrated troublemaker smiled in the exemption from a cruel nightly chastisement, perhaps thinking the contagious holiday spirit had made his mother yielding, and more forgiving. At times between the reprimands and punishments and consequent lectures for his mischief, it was now simple devotion to his matron, mother a second word for god touching to his lips.

Goliath broke off and angled to the left, using his tail to open the door across from his own bedroom, and entered, as Elisa moved to the right, and entered in through the twin's claimed room with a nudge of her foot to the bottom of the door. Never too far away from their children, the two smaller chambers directly across the hall from Goliath and Elisa's grand bedroom each housed a separate gender, and kept the family close. Through the dim light, she skillfully dodged toys spread across the floor as if done many times before, a place of chaos and clutter, and a minefield for Elisa's unprotected feet. It seemed an obvious trait passed down from the boys' mother, and Elisa could yet complain lest they cite her own bedroom as a suitable defense.

A solitary sentinel of a nightlight gave bare presence to looming shadows, ensuring the bedposts and dresser corners in Elisa's path were barriers now avoidable, as she approached the large, wooden bunkbed against the side. Angling her shoulders, she gently rolled Skye into the bottom bunk and onto his sheets, an accurate shot for a markswoman of the highest caliber. As Skye pulled the covers over himself, Elisa lifted her other son onto the upper berth, pushing her hand against his rump and tail to give that extra momentum to lift Storm into his bed.

And before they both could escape underneath their cartoon-styled sheets, she kissed them, Storm recoiling from the lips against his flesh, and Skye slightly grimacing as Elisa leaned down towards him, but bearing the affection with good humor. "Merry Christmas boys."

She stood by the door and watched the two lumps settle into a place of comfort, filling the room with a muffled gratitude lost to their exhaustion, and then, only the sounds of their slowing breath. She backed out and hinged the door with but a clack of steel to steel, and looked over her shoulder to her husband mimicking her exact movements, ensuring he did not wake his daughters with his strength, girth, or something as simple as the closing of a door.

Black cinder crossed Elisa's gaze, a heat to melt rum chocolate through a muted devotion, to make warm swirls from two cold pools like an infectious touch. Elisa knew that look her husband passed to her, as the parents paused for a moment to stare at each other, Goliath's expression content and relieved the children were safe, and secured within their beds. They joined arm in arm and ventured back towards their own bedroom, intent to rest and grasp for the remnants of sleep stolen by their children and the excitement of Christmas.

Through the doors now closed and locked, Elisa headed for the side of their bed, as Goliath moved through the murk of shadow so thick as to impede his journey towards the bark of flame tamed by the enclosure. He turned down the fire, and nearly extinguished the lick of tomato ruby staining the Scottish stone, wilting to the pale pastel of falling snow and brightening sky from the windows and terrace doors. His vision evolved to pinpoint precision even in the deficient light, he watched the slender figure undress across from him, a creature shedding the cumbersome raiment to warm a comparably fragile species and emerging graceful and copper slick from a nocturnal cocoon.

Elisa stripped from her shirt, a sensual sway of her hips and torso back and forth to relieve herself of the sheath of poly-cotton blend. She popped the button on her jeans and leaned back on the bed to wriggle from the denim, her legs long and silky and alluring to her husband having caught the last flicker of a dying flame against the satin brass.

Wasting no time to join Elisa as she dipped beneath the sheets and thick quilt, he rid himself of his loincloth and eagerly slid seven hundred pounds into the wide, encompassing berth. His form found hers, husband and wife twined by limb and love, and skin pressed to skin. She burrowed into his chest, with Goliath's chin resting into her crown, and his arm braced protectively around her waist.

Elisa sighed, her breath curling and tickling the skin around his throat. "I told you they were fine." she whispered, a playful laughter bubbling from beneath the mound of blanket, as Goliath flew open his eyes and pulled back to see his wife chuckling into the base of his neck.

He rolled his eyes, settled deeper into the fabrics, and pulled her close. "Merry Christmas, my Elisa."