It was a Thursday late in April. In Manhattan, the night was mild and balmy with a clear sky above her. The moon was full, and Detective Elisa Maza, NYPD, had a lot on her mind as she drove home that night. She'd just come off investigating a murder in the uptown financial district. It was obvious the victim had been a money launderer, obvious to her at least that he'd also been working for Tony Dracon, a local mob boss who thought he was above the law. Trouble was, so far anyway, he was right about that. Unless she got very lucky, there was no way she'd be able to tie him to this, if he was even the one who called for the hit. For all she knew right now, Dracon might not have been her victim's only client, or it could even have been a rival of Dracon's making a move (though that last scenario was a stretch at best). Regardless, whoever pulled the trigger had been a pro, no question. Single gunshot to the back, cameras caught nothing, no witnesses and no evidence except the bullet itself. She'd spent hours trying to find something - sent uniforms out to canvas the area, talked to everyone who she thought might have seen anything. Nothing. The ballistics would be back tomorrow, but that would probably be a dead end without the murder weapon to match it too. In short, she was feeling like she'd wasted an afternoon. She'd became a cop because she came from a family of cops, sure, but she'd also done it because she believed in what she was doing. In things like justice, a civil community, right and wrong, protecting people. The reality was, you had to work hard for those things, and, from her perspective, it seemed like you only ever got them half the time.
All of which meant that she was definitely in the mood to go home, get something to eat (she was in the mood for pancakes for some reason, even though it was past dinner time), then curl up on the couch with her cat and watch TV or read a book for a while. Get a little lost in someone's imaginary world where the heroes always won in the end, the bad guys always ended up in jail, little boys didn't lose their dads, and happily ever after was just a clever plot twist away.
That's what was weighing on her most, really. The man who was shot? The money launderer? He'd also been a single father who'd lost his wife in a car accident two years ago. He had a five year old son. The man's girlfriend had brought him with her when she'd come down to the office building after getting the call from the police. The little boy had been quiet as a church mouse, wouldn't meet anyone's eyes for more than a second. Sure, his dad had been a crook probably, but his son hadn't done anything and he'd had to live through losing both his mom and his dad. She wondered if Tony Dracon had even hesitated a little bit because of that, or if he'd even cared at all. He probably hadn't. People like that rarely did.
She was a little distracted with her thoughts, running the case over in her head again, when she stopped at a red light. It was a one lane road. A little after twelve o'clock at night. Her window was down and there weren't too many cars around at this hour. The moon was right straight ahead of her. She found herself looking at it while she waited, then she heard a crash and a body fell with crushing force onto a parked car across the street in her field of vision. "Holy..." She couldn't quite believe she'd seen that, but she got out of her car anyway. The light turned green and the one car behind her honked.
"Police!" She yelled at the driver of the car. "Knock it off!" She looked up at the building above where the body had fallen from. There weren't any lights on up there, but she heard sounds of a struggle and saw a flash of something through the window on the top floor. She hurried back into her car, shifted it into drive, and hit the gas hard, jerking the car forward and making an illegal turn to park by the curb in a red zone across the street by the building where the disturbance was happening. She checked her sidearm under her jacket and grabbed her assault rifle and a crowbar from her trunk, then headed for the building. The building had a coffee shop/bistro on the bottom floor; it was closed for the night. The top floors looked like offices. The door to the stairs was locked, so she used the crowbar to pop the lock. Luckily the door was weak enough to give and she didn't need to use her gun to get inside. The department would get a bill for the repairs no doubt, her captain wouldn't exactly be thrilled, especially if she got there too late or couldn't make any arrests, but if someone's life was in danger up there, she didn't really have much choice.
She rushed up the stairs at a run until she got to the third floor. This door was already broken down, glass on the floor. She discarded her crowbar and went through, keeping to the shadows and staying quiet, but moving as fast as possible. She heard the sounds of struggle again and something that sounded like growling, but not from any wild animal she'd ever heard before. It kind of made her shiver a little, actually, but she kept going anyway, fleetingly wishing she'd called for backup and not really all that sure why she hadn't thought to other than that she was just tired and in need of sleep. It was a stupid mistake, really. But it was too late to go back now, obviously. If she did, whatever was going on in there might be over by the time she made it back, and that could mean someone might end up dead who she could have saved.
There was another crash and a man crying out in pain and more of that unearthly growling. She came to a room with desks and furniture and file cabinets, mostly all strewn about in a state of disarray and ruin. There were men garbed all in black and grays, state of the art body armor and night vision goggles. And there was... this woman, this... creature - human looking, but with wings like a dragon, claws, shadowy skin, glowing red eyes. Still though, definitely a woman. They had an electrified net over her and were poking her with what looked like... electrified javelins.
It was such an unreal tableau, she couldn't even guess where to begin to reconcile it with reality, really, but whatever that woman was and whatever her attackers thought they were doing, Elisa knew one thing: It was cruel and it turned her stomach to see it. She couldn't know for sure she was doing the right thing of course, but really, as a cop, if you see someone getting attacked, you help them and deal with the rest later; you don't stop to ask if the person getting beat up started it. You just don't.
She stepped out of the shadows, leveled her assault rifle and shot at one of the javelins. Her shot hit the mark just above one of the black-clad men's hands. He jumped back as shrapnel and sparks came from the destroyed weapon. "NYPD! Drop your weapons, hands on your heads, now!"
The scene before her seemed to freeze for a moment as everyone in the room stopped what they were doing and looked at her. It didn't last long though, the whatever she was in the net took the opportunity to charge at the man Elisa had disarmed, grab him, and throw him at the others.
The mystery woman struggled with the net over her, trying to get it off.
"Switch to rubber bullets!" One of the men shouted the command.
Elisa took aim and shot one of them who was drawing a gun in the shoulder, reset her rifle, took aim and fired at another of the men who was aiming at her, hitting him in the shoulder as well. She ducked to the side and rolled, using her rifle as a club and hitting another of them in the belly with all the considerable force she could leverage behind it. It knocked the wind out of him and made him double over, so she'd hit him at the right angle. She got up and hit him over the head with the butt of her rifle next - Hopefully he'd be out cold.
She looked over and saw the woman with the wings finally get free of the net. Two of the men with the electrified javelins were advancing on her while another was leveling a gun. She didn't have time to use her own gun, so she charged him with it and used it like a battering ram. He fired just before she crashed into him. Elisa's heart sank a little at the sound, knowing she might have failed and the woman with the wings could be hurt or even dead because she hadn't been fast enough. Even rubber bullets could kill if they hit you in the wrong place. She crashed to the debris-strewn floor on top of the man.
"What sort of crazy are you, lady?" He said to her, getting leverage and pushing her off him.
She'd lost her rifle - Elisa heard the sound of it being reset and realized with dread that the man she tackled had it now instead. She looked and saw him leveling the gun at her. Luckily, the way she'd landed, she was able to kick out with her left leg and knock off his aim. She made a desperate tackle for him next, knowing she was too far from cover to do anything else before he could aim the gun at her again.
"Get off!" He told her in frustration as they struggled for possession of the riffle. He proved stronger than her though, and she didn't have good leverage or a good angle on her hold and he managed to pin her to the ground, the rifle like a crossbeam over her chest holding her down. "That thing's a monster, can't you see that?" He told her.
"Yeah, well, you'll forgive me if I don't just take your word on that." She said back. The way he had her pinned though, she knew she might be in real trouble.
"Whatever lady, boss said no witnesses anyway." He began to push the rifle up towards her neck. She had a hold of it too, but had no leverage, was at a bad angle, and he had more upper body strength. It was only a matter of time before her hold gave out, only a couple more seconds probably. She'd consider going for the cheap shot and kneeing the guy's groin, much as she didn't like to use a tactic like that, but she had to figure with all the body armor he was wearing, he'd have a cup. Plus, her legs weren't free enough for her to try that without him figuring out her intention and probably moving to counter. So there was really only one thing she could think to try. She spit in his eye.
He cursed and his hold faltered as he instinctively reached for his face to wipe the saliva away. She grabbed her wrist and pulled, bashing him in the head with her elbow, next hitting him in the neck with the side of her closed fist on the way back, and then clapping her hands over his ears as hard as she could.
He swore loudly.
That last move would probably cause him long-term damage, it could even be fatal sometimes, but she didn't have better options. After all, he'd made it clear her life was in imminent danger from him, so that meant there was no way she was pulling any punches.
She rolled him off her and yanked her gun out of his hands then struck him with it in the head as she had one of the others.
She got up and looked over to see the woman with the wings break one of her attacker's necks and drop him on the floor. All of the armed men were down. A couple were still conscious, she counted one gone, which worried her. The winged woman turned on her, her eyes flashing red. She growled a little. "Human." She said.
Her voice startled Elisa and made her shiver a little. She did relax just a little though, realizing the woman could at least talk and she hadn't just rescued the equivalent of a wild animal that might attack her. The way the woman looked, she might do that anyway, but Elisa had the rifle still, and her hand gun, though she was hoping she could reason with the woman rather than have to use either. "That's me alright. Are, um, are you okay?" She asked. "Do you, I mean, are you hurt? Do you need... well, I'm not sure if a doctor could help you, but..."
The woman's eyes stopped glowing and she just sort of looked at her curiously. "You helped me... why?" She asked, holding her shoulder as though it were wounded.
"You looked like you needed it?" Elisa ventured. "...look, I'm not going to pretend I know what's going on here, who you are, you know, with the wings and everything, but you were being attacked, and it's my job to help. Your arm looks hurt..."
"It will heal." The woman told her. "...you're... strange, for a human." She said, sinking down to the floor, apparently struggling to stay on her feet and failing.
Elisa dropped her rifle and went over to her. "Hey..." She came over next to her without even really thinking it through weather it was a good idea or not. "Hey... they really did a number on you, didn't they?" She said, kneeling down next to her and touching her arm.
The woman hissed at her, her eyes glowing red again. "Stay away." She warned, causing Elisa to fall onto her butt from where she'd been crouching.
She couldn't help it, it felt like her heart had leapt into her throat, her pulse sped up, she was scared. "Hey... I'm... I'm sorry okay."
The woman smiled just a little at that. "...I suppose I should thank you... for what you've just done for me." She said, not meeting Elisa's eyes.
"...It's the job, like I said." Elisa repeated, sitting up, but keeping her distance this time.
"Perhaps - Most of your kind wouldn't see it that way, in my experience... What makes you different, I wonder?" She asked, halfway between curious and suspicious.
"...whether that's true or not, I couldn't answer you anyway." Elisa told her, yawning unexpectedly. "Sorry, long night." She explained.
One of the men groaned and Elisa looked, he was getting up. "'xcuse me a moment." She got up and went over to the guy, wrestled him to the floor and cuffed him to a support beam. "You're under arrest." She told him simply. "...So, I don't suppose you'd be in the mood to tell me what exactly this was all about, would you...?" She asked the woman.
"Demona." The woman said. "My name is Demona."
"Demona." Elisa repeated, going back over and sitting cross-legged in front of her. "My name is Elisa, Elisa Maza. I'm a detective with the 23rd precinct." She knew maybe she should be more cautious about this, but Demona didn't seem to be hostile, much - Though she was clearly dangerous, or could be if she wanted to be. The bottom line was, she was mostly just going with her gut on this. Truthfully, it all seemed just slightly unreal to her. Like as though, when she hadn't been paying enough attention, she'd stepped into another world - One like her own, but... with obvious differences. She was tired - She'd been up since five AM, running around the city for one reason or another. She hadn't been getting enough sleep the last few days in fact, and she'd just been in a fight for her life; her adrenalin was pumping. She knew that wasn't exactly a state that lent itself best to critical thinking. So she was just going to go with it for now, and hope it started to all make a bit more sense as time went on. "So, care to tell me your story?" She asked.
Demona studied her a moment. "I came here looking for... information, on a personal matter. These men were waiting for me. If you hadn't shown up when you had, I likely might be their prisoner by now." She explained.
"Do you know why they were after you? Who sent them?" Elisa asked next.
"I have a... strong suspicion." Demona confessed.
"So, who's the suspect?" She asked.
Demona seemed to consider whether or not to answer for a moment. "David Xanatos." She told her.
"...okay..." She immediately recognized the name of course - He was one of the wealthiest, most influential men in the city. That he would be involved in something that was, to say the least, shady, came as no great surprise to her. Rich men rarely got to be rich men by playing by the rules. "Do you know why?"
"I imagine I would have been destined for a laboratory somewhere." She replied, not telling Elisa that there was more to it than that of course.
"Okay... that makes about as much sense as anything I suppose... And, the wings and everything?" She asked. "Did those... come from a laboratory somewhere, or did you come by them naturally?"
"...Naturally. Humans aren't the only species that call this world home, detective... At one time, there were many like me." She explained in a softer voice. "Whole clans..."
"...what happened to them?" Elisa asked.
"Your kind." Demona told her accusingly, her eyes growing hard. "Humans have always hunted us."
"That's..." Elisa couldn't quite think of anything to say to that. She looked into the other woman's eyes. "You're telling the truth, aren't you?"
"Traditionally, my kind do not lie... though, I have had to learn over the years." She confessed. "There are not many of us left, I think." She admitted.
"...well, I somehow don't think bringing you down to the station to give a statement would do anyone any good, least of all either of us. But, are you sure you don't want my help?" Elisa asked. "I'm not sure what I could do, but... I want to try, if you'll let me. I know some first aide at least, I dated a nurse for a while..." She told her.
They heard sirens in the distance.
"Sounds like someone called in the disturbance." Elisa observed.
"I need to leave." Demona told her, getting to her feet and groaning a little from the effort.
"Can you, um, can you fly?" Elisa asked.
Demona looked at her and a hint of a smile crossed her lips. "I can manage." Though, privately, she was less than completely sure of that. She still felt dizzy from all the electricity they'd pumped through her.
"...one of them got away, you know." Elisa told her. "I counted when I first came in. One of the two men I shot in the shoulder is missing. Could they have... reinforcements? Nearby?"
"...In other words, you suspect a second trap?" Demona looked to her.
"They had to know this was a risk." She allowed. "It's not out of the question they'd have a second team nearby, either as backup or as a failsafe. A man like Xanatos could certainly afford it."
"What do you suggest?" Demona asked, a little amused.
"I'm not sure." She considered. "If it were a trap, they'd be expecting you to leave by air."
"They would at that." Demona conceded, privately considering that, indeed, it wouldn't be out of character for Xanatos to plan something of the kind. He'd know he'd never get a better chance once she knew his intentions. He'd know this was his best opportunity. "Perhaps..." She looked at the conscious mercenary whom Elisa had cuffed.
"...you don't want him to overhear what you want to tell me?" Elisa asked.
"It would be better if he did not." Demona confirmed. What she was considering doing was going to be a risk, if a tactically sound one that Xanatos wouldn't see coming. Of course, the seemingly sincere Detective Maza could, herself, be a trap of some kind. It seemed unlikely of course, but then humans had caught her off guard with the depths of their cunning before, and the idea of a human who would come to her aide as Elisa Maza had just done and not look upon her with distrust or any more fear than the respect for her blatantly superior physical strength seemed nearly as farfetched. Never the less, her instincts were telling her that the detective was not deceiving her, was in fact being nothing less than wholly genuine, as strange a concept as that was for her to readily accept.
Elisa looked between him and Demona, then at the other men. He was the only one awake, the others were either unconscious or dead. Ideally, she wished she had more handcuffs of course, but she'd only brought the one pair. "Let's go to another room then, I don't think they'll give us any more trouble until the squad cars arrive." She went over and offered Demona her hand up.
Demona looked a little unsure but then reached out and took her hand, getting to her feet. It was interesting to Elisa how Demona seemed to wrap her wings about her like a cape.
"This isn't going to be all that easy to explain, you know." Elisa commented as they walked from the room and she held the door open for the other woman. "Everything else wouldn't be a problem, but the claw marks, that's a tough one."
"...you seem resourceful, I'm sure you'll think of something." Demona said as they came out into the stairway.
"Watch your feet, there's glass..." Elisa watched as Demona walked on it with no worry evident.
"My skin is more durable than yours is." She explained.
"Evidently." Elisa allowed. "Which way are we going?" Elisa asked, referring to up towards the roof or down towards the street.
"Down." Demona told her.
"If you're sure." She said. They walked down the steps to the second floor. "Okay, this should be far enough away; he won't be able to hear."
"Against my better judgment, I'm trusting you, Elisa." Demona told her, looking meaningfully into Elisa's eyes and closing her hand around a bracelet that she wore on her wrist. She closed her eyes and spoke. "Let form and being bend, for daylight world, let me amend."
As Elisa watched, sparkles of light danced and around Demona and she... changed. Soon, she was a human woman, with red hair, and, Elisa noted, not very many clothes on.
Demona opened her eyes and their eyes met - Elisa recognized her. "You're Dominique Destine?" Dominique Destine was the owner and C.E.O. of Nightstone Unlimited, a rather large global corporation known for its work in research and development as well as for its rather extensive charitable endeavors. Elisa remembered seeing an interview with her on the news a few weeks ago in fact; she'd been impressed, as she recalled.
"Very few people know my secret, Detective Maza. Can I count on your... discretion?" She asked.
"I um, how did you do that though? Change like that?" Elisa asked.
"Magic. A spell, given to me by... a friend, for my protection." She told her.
"Magic now..." She shook her head a little.
"My secret, Elisa. Will you keep it?" Dominique pressed, moving forwards towards Elisa, her eyes letting Elisa know that she was very serious about having an answer.
Elisa sighed and closed her eyes. "I'll give you the same deal that the lawyers and therapists give."
"In other words, as long as I don't tell you I'm planning to commit a felony, you'll keep my secrets?" She asked before Elisa could explain.
"Pretty much - That good enough for you?" She asked.
"In fact it is. Thank you, Elisa." Dominique told her, appraising Elisa thoughtfully again. There was the sound of cars pulling up, sirens shutting off, car doors opening.
"Um, I think this is the part where I offer you my jacket?" Elisa observed, looking down at the other woman's state of dress. "Unless you can, you know, wave your hand and conjure up some less conspicuous clothing?"
"I'm afraid not." Dominique took off her circlet and anklet while Elisa took off her coat. "...thank you." She said as she took Elisa's jacket and put it on.
Looking at the other woman, bare foot with just the scrap of cloth covering her below the waist, Elisa rethought her approach. They could say she was kidnapped and... was the victim of an attempted sexual assault - It was about the only way to explain things that people would maybe believe - but putting the other woman through the media frenzy that would likely follow seemed, to say the least, not a very kind option. "On second thought, maybe not..." She looked around and tried the door to the second floor offices. It opened onto a hallway. The offices themselves would probably be locked, but apparently whoever had locked up last night had thought the lock on the downstairs door would be enough. "I um, your choice. Hide here and wait for me, or try our luck getting to my car through whatever's out there like this." She offered.
"Mm, no, I believe I'll take the better part of valor, thank you." Dominique answered, going to the door, her hand on the doorknob. She looked into Elisa's eyes again and held her gaze a moment more, just to assure herself of her choice to trust this woman again, and then she turned and closed the door behind her, sitting down on the floor against the wall so she couldn't be seen through the window in the door that was higher up. She heard footsteps coming up the stairs. Elisa Maza identifying herself to her colleagues, telling them the crime scene was upstairs. Then more footsteps as they all went up to the third floor. It was all somehow anti-climactic, she thought to herself. A part of her had been sure, even though her instincts had told her otherwise, that the police detective who'd come to her rescue would betray her in the end. That part of her still thought that, in fact - That either this was all some sort of trick, or that Elisa's good intentions wouldn't last. No human's ever had, where she had been concerned, and she had been alive for a very long time. Too long, she sometimes thought.
She let her eyes close. She really was very tired from her ordeal tonight. The net and the prodding she'd taken from those electrified spears had taken more out of her than she'd wanted to let on. And now that she'd magically shifted to human form, she feared it was taking even more of a toll.
She let her thoughts drift back to what had happened moments before. Elisa Maza was obviously a very capable woman, to have taken on so many and won through as she had. And there was just something about her eyes... she had such beautiful eyes. Honest, reliable, open, true, even brave... Rare qualities, in anyone, but even more so in a human. As she fell asleep, she thought, Elisa Maza reminded her of a gargoyle... Maybe that's why she'd been so willing to trust her somehow...
It was sometime after one, getting close to one-thirty at night, and Dominique found herself in Elisa Maza's car, heading to the other woman's apartment. She was having trouble staying awake - Really they both were, she could tell that much at least. "Long night, detective?" She asked absently.
"I've been on my feet since five, yeah. A cup of peppermint tea would be heaven. I wish that coffee shop had been open so I could've got one." Elisa replied, yawning.
"Just don't crash the car, and it'll be fine." Dominique commented, yawning herself - Evidently it was contagious. She closed her eyes. Tea would be nice, she had to agree (or coffee - a chi latté preferably, she reflected). In any case, Elisa was taking her home to her studio apartment. Apparently, she had a guest room for when her sister would come to the city. Her sister was away at college now. Elisa's home was close, her own home was on the other side of the city, and Elisa apparently trusted her enough to extend the offer of sanctuary. She supposed it made sense - Elisa had to know she'd given her plenty of opportunity to kill her back at the office building, so why wouldn't she trust her now if she had been able to trust her with her life then? She supposed also that she could have declined the offer and asked Elisa for some change to use a pay phone to call for her driver, but she felt that would be testing the limits of even Lockland's discretion. And she didn't want questions being asked. The less you left yourself exposed, the less chance there was that you could be hurt. No, she'd trusted Elisa Maza this far, she thought she might just as well trust her a bit further. Besides, something in her just wanted to know, she admitted to herself - Once and for all, if was it possible to find a human who was really worthy of her trust. She'd gotten to know a good many humans over her lifetime, mostly in recent years as she'd been magically disguising herself as one of them, thanks to Titania's gift. None of them had impressed her with their character that very much (a few might have at least shown themselves to her to not seem to possess particularly morally objectionable character traits, and there was one she currently almost considered something approximating a friend, but that was all). The last human she'd really trusted in the way she was now trusting Elisa Maza had, well, she supposed she would have died long ago but for the bargain that had been struck between them, but that hadn't made his betrayal sting any less. If she were to befriend Elisa Maza now, she wondered, how long would she have to wait until she felt betrayal's familiar sting?
In any case, somehow she thought it would be worth her time to find out one way or the other - She'd found herself wavering in her long-held beliefs in recent years, wavering in her convictions, and it just wouldn't do for her to lose what had given her her edge. She had plans, after all, and there were those she needed to protect. If Elisa were part of some treachery somehow, she would find the end of it best by playing along for now. If she befriended her and Elisa proved untrustworthy, then she would have her answer and her convictions would be proven true again, her doubts assuaged. If, on the other hand, Elisa proved to be what she seemed, then... then that would be a pleasant surprise, she supposed. However it turned out though, the bottom line was that Elisa Maza now knew her secret, and that was potentially very dangerous to her. No matter the risk though, killing a woman who'd just saved her from captivity was out of the question for her - Her honor wouldn't stand for it and neither would her heart. No, the wise course of action was to keep Elisa close until she had a better idea of what the detective having that knowledge might mean for her.
They pulled into a parking space in the small underground garage under Elisa's apartment building, and Elisa turned the key to shut the car off. "Well, we're here." She observed, looking over at Dominique who was blinking her eyes open. She considered the woman next to her a moment and found herself somehow fascinated. Oh, she was sure in the morning when her brain was no longer sleep-deprived she'd probably wonder just what the heck she'd gotten herself into (magic, intelligent life on Earth that was other than human, corporate intrigue, billionaires, armed mercenaries, kidnapping attempts, and who knew what else - it was a long list), but for some reason she had a feeling she'd made the right call about this, about Dominique. Somehow Demona, or Dominique Destine, just seemed like... someone who could use someone on their side for once. Someone who... had been alone for too long. That, at least, was something she could relate to. Less so the wings and magic and everything of course, but whatever it all meant, she had a feeling, her life had just gotten considerably more interesting. And as far as she was concerned, that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. She'd just have to see what happened. Tomorrow. "Sleep, here I come." She said.
"Seconded." Dominique groaned as she got herself up and opened the passenger side door on Elisa's car. She got to her feet, but she realized her body was stiff and ached all over. Being human, compared to the raw power, energy, and vitality she'd always felt as a gargoyle, was always something of a letdown to her - Now, more so than usual, obviously. But Elisa had been right of course, leaving by taking flight as a gargoyle was a risk that, as it turned out, was unnecessary. Of course, this could all be a trap, a web of lies Elisa was spinning, she knew that. But if it was, it obviously wasn't to capture her. She hated to admit it, but Xanatos's mercenaries would probably have gotten the better of her. They'd caught her by surprise and had been very efficient hunters. No, if Elisa were working a deception, it was to gain information or to gain her trust for something longer term. Which meant, she was almost certainly safe with her for tonight at least, whether Elisa's intentions where as honorable as they very much appeared to be or whether they were not.
She took a few steps, but found herself feeling dizzy and using the car to steady herself. Elisa was there though. "Here, let me help you." She offered.
Dominique regarded her thoughtfully, the sound of Elisa's voice strangely comforting somehow. "If you must." She quietly acquiesced, letting Elisa put her arm around her and, in turn, leaning against the other woman for support as they walked in the building proper and went to a stairwell.
"Sorry. No elevator. We're in for little of a climb." Elisa explained. It was an old building (if well maintained), so it didn't have things like elevators - That was one of the reasons she could afford the rent on her salary. That, and it was rent controlled.
"I think I can manage." Dominique replied with a little of a rueful smile, thinking to herself how easy it would be to climb these stairs as her real self. She could do it in less than thirty seconds, without a doubt. As it was, it seemed to take an interminable length of time, and she had to fight to stay conscious all the way there. She didn't complain or even groan once though, willing herself to maintain at least that much dignity in front of her new... ally, protector, she supposed. A strange feeling, she considered. It had been... a very long time since anyone had played that role in regards to her ...It was nice, even allowing that she couldn't bring herself to completely trust the feeling quite yet, or the person who'd evoked it in her.
They moved in silence to her front door, which was one of only two on the top floor. Elisa opened the door for them, and they walked through together. Once inside, Dominique found herself looking around curiously. It was a fairly big place, she realized. Not nearly as big as her own of course, but it was nice. There was a high ceiling, a sunken living area, and an angled wall that was almost all one big window. The subtle scents, clean and welcoming, evoked pleasant feelings in her too. Everything was neat and, while not exactly elegant, very beautifully and thoughtfully laid out. It was apparent Elisa had taken her time with it and took pride in her apartment. It definitely had the feeling of a sanctuary, a... home. At her feet, she felt something furry and warm bush up against her leg. She stiffened and looked down, seeing a gray cat who was purring a little.
"Cagney likes you, I think." Elisa smiled to her.
"You have a cat..." She observed. Well, obviously Elisa had a cat, she internally chided herself a little for saying something so perfunctory. Of course, she felt like she was about to pass out from exhaustion, so perhaps it was understandable that she found herself at a loss for eloquence.
"Do you like cats?" Elisa asked, her own mind rather running on fumes at present. Cagney meowed to her and went towards the kitchen, obviously wanting a refill on her food or water - She'd get to that after she saw to her guest.
"I... never thought about it one way or the other." Dominique admitted as they walked towards a hallway.
"Not a pet person, huh?" Elisa replied.
"...my... I have a dog. I like his company very much." She admitted.
"What's his name?" Elisa asked.
"He doesn't have one." Dominique told her honestly.
"Huh, why not?" She asked as she opened the door to her guest room for them.
"My kind, traditionally, don't name things - I didn't used to have a name either. Not until... much later in my life." She confided.
"Really? So... why 'Demona' then?" She asked as she sat her guest gown on the bed and sat next to her tiredly. "Not that it's a bad name; I think it's actually... kind of pretty."
"You think so?" Dominique asked, intentionally avoiding answering the question. "How peculiar..." She observed, laying back on the bed on her back. "For a human, you're very unusual, Elisa Maza... it's... refreshing." She admitted tiredly.
"Well, thanks... I think." Elisa yawned and heard Cagney meow from the other room. "I need to go feed my cat, I think. Do you, um, do you think you'll need any help, um, getting ready for bed?" She offered a little reluctantly. Not that the idea didn't have a certain appeal, it just... didn't seem appropriate somehow. Like she felt she somehow had to offer the disclaimer 'just to be sure - you know I'm gay, right?', as much as it bugged her that she felt she had to think about things like that. It wasn't like she'd even gone out on a date in... she didn't know how long.
"I can manage..." Dominique told her, groaning and sitting back up. She thought of offering Elisa her coat back, but didn't say anything... feeling a little embarrassed for having needed it in the first place, honestly.
"Okay then..." Elisa got up and made to leave.
"Detective Maza..." Dominique spoke as Elisa was at the door.
"Yeah?" Elisa turned back to her and their eyes met.
"I... thank you. For... just... thank you." She said, feeling... Trust did not come easily to her, and the feeling lay uneasily in her even more so having expressed it out loud. It struck her then just how vulnerable she really had left herself where Elisa Maza was concerned tonight - and a big part of her couldn't help but feeling she'd made a mistake somehow, one that she would soon come to regret.
"You're welcome." Elisa smiled to her easily and then left to feed her cat, closing the door behind her.
Dominique looked at the door a moment, and then got up to check it. It was unlocked. She knew it would be, she'd checked that it was the kind that only locked from the inside before entering, but she just felt... she had to know for sure.
She felt heavy on her feet, and still kind of dizzy. Though, she noticed, she was feeling just a little bit better from the walk up the stairs and everything, if still very tired. She caught herself yawning again, and looked down. She took off the heavy belt she had at her waist and let it drop to the floor. She'd left her circlet and anklet in Elisa's glove compartment, she realized. She took off Elisa's jacket and put it on the bed, then went on to take off her tunic and armlet, setting the armlet down on the nightstand, leaving only her bracelet on (she could take it off an remain human, but she would need it to become her gargoyle self again, so she always kept it on when she was like this). She looked down at the jacket on the bed and picked it up, putting it on again. It was comfortable and she felt chilled, even though it wasn't cold here. She walked over to the window and opened the blinds. The window looked up at the building next to them, more apartments, some with lights on, some not, and above that she could see some of the sky, the moon nearly out of view.
Xanatos had made his play last night, very soon she would... react. She would hunt him, as she had been hunted. And there would be no Detective Maza there to come to his aide when she finally cornered him, she would make very sure of that. In the beginning, she had made an alliance with him when he'd come to her and told her that he knew her secret, as it was to their mutual benefit at the time and she'd wanted to get to know him to find out what his weaknesses were, and his plans, but he was greedy, as were most humans in her experience, and she'd known it only a matter of time before the alliance would run its course. The signs had been readily apparent in recent months, and she'd distanced herself from him and his interests, yet still, she honestly hadn't thought he would take such a... direct approach.
Elisa had been right before though, that he would have had to have been relatively sure his attempt on her would work, otherwise, he would have to have known her reaction. Which would, of course, mean he would be expecting her retaliation when it came. Xanatos was cunning, even by human standard, so whatever action she took, she knew she would have to consider very carefully - preferably it should be something that even Xanatos would not expect of her. She signed wearily and turned away from the window. She was tired enough to sleep, though her thoughts now were somehow disquieted in a way she didn't fully understand.
She hugged her arms around herself and looked down at the bed she'd been given. She wondered when, if ever, she would be able to truly just... rest. Without having to be so careful of everything she did, without having to look over her shoulder for the next one waiting to stab her in the back. Somehow though, she couldn't help but feel, if not safe, then less at threat here. It wasn't a particularly rational thought, she knew, and perhaps it was simply exhaustion, but somehow, as she lay down on the bed, not bothering to get under the covers, she couldn't help but remember Elisa Maza's eyes the first time she'd seen them tonight. The look in those eyes, then and after... somehow Dominique just couldn't, on an instinctual level, bring herself to really distrust the woman (no matter how much she thought she should distrust her; on principle, if for no other reason).
As she fell off to sleep with the other woman's jacket still on, she scoffed at herself for the foolish thoughts. None the less though, she felt herself relax more than she would have liked, and when she slept, she slept soundly.
Across the hall, Elisa was just going into her own bedroom after feeding Cagney and making herself a small cup of peppermint tea. She was tired, but peppermint tea before bed was a ritual for her; she had it every night, and she wasn't about to stop now.
She sat her tea cup down on her dresser and noticed Cagney walking in and jumping up on her favorite chair, curling up into a ball, and starting to doze contentedly. Elisa wondered, not for the first time, what life must be like for a cat. She wondered if everything was a mystery to be solved, or an adventure to be had, even mundane things. Cagney sometimes left that impression, though sometimes not (Cagney was a house cat after all, and fond of her comforts).
She got undressed next and then took a last sip of tea and went to bed, not feeling like finishing off the cup. She reached over and turned off the light on the nightstand and then snuggled in for sleep. Images of glowing red eyes, of Demona... and Dominique, played across her mind's eye. She was too tired to really try to figure out how she felt about it all, but somehow, the idea that there were mysteries like that out there in the world for her to solve, and that one of them was sleeping in the bed just across the hall, was a comforting one.
She'd gotten to thinking lately that maybe life had shown her all it had to offer and she would just have to learn to live with it. Now, well, maybe this was proof that that wasn't true after all?
When Dominique woke and she looked at the digital clock under the window, she saw it was almost ten in the morning. It surprised her that she'd slept so long. And, she considered, it was also a surprise how well rested she felt. When she tried to stretch out her body a little though, she quickly realized she was still quite sore in many places, so she only did a few more (more gentle) stretches before she lay back down and relaxed on the bed and considered her situation anew.
That nothing had happened to her overnight of course was somewhat reassuring, not that she'd expected anything to happen. Or, truthfully, a part of her always seemed to have thoughts like that when it came to humans. Putting that aside though, what she was going to do next, that was the question. She'd made vague plans last night, both to stay close to Detective Maza until she could find out more about her, find out if she could really trust her to keep her secret or not, and then there was the matter of David Xanatos to contend with - She would be a fool to let matters with him rest over long. To do so would only be to invite further attacks such as what had happened last night. And Xanatos was a man with many resources to spend and the cunning to use them in the most... effective of ways. True, she couldn't afford to be hasty about this, but also true was that the longer she waited, the more dangerous the situation would become.
She had a number of options she could choose from for the how of it, but, whatever she decided, she knew she would have to be creative about it in order to catch her enemy at anything like a vulnerable moment, and she knew also that she had responsibilities now and that it would be best to bring the matter up with her clan first... and, she considered, she would have to speak to Elisa of this a little as well. She needed to know where things stood between them first before she made any plans - Like it or not, Elisa Maza was a factor to be considered in her life now, and might be for quite some time to come. Not that she found that prospect entirely unappealing, because somehow, she didn't. Somehow, she was... looking forward to seeing the detective who'd come to her rescue last night again.
She shook her head ruefully at herself. "Still so foolish, after all this time, it seems." She said softly to herself. It seemed, one way or another, she'd set herself on this course. And there would come a resolution, of that she was sure. What she was less sure of, however, was which way she wanted it to turn out.
She sniffed the collar of Elisa's jacket, which she was still wearing, and found the subtle scents pleasant. There was the hint of some perfume, one she couldn't recognize.
She sat up, took the jacket off, and laid it on the bed, looking down at it thoughtfully.
"Mm." She shook her head a little and got up. The closet was open and it was apparent that Elisa's sister, Beth (she recalled the name Elisa had mentioned to her during the car ride over), kept some of her clothes here when she was away. She considered appropriating some of them, but she hadn't asked permission so she thought it might be somehow inappropriate. The only other option was what she'd come with of course. She went over and picked up the scant clothing and considered it. She always felt a little... exposed, somehow, dressed like this as a human (not that she would let it show). She decided though that was probably an unnecessary reaction in this case. Besides, back at the office building yesterday, in the stairwell, she'd been surprised to notice Elisa's subtle reaction to her as a human in this attire. She was curious to see if she'd been right in guessing the reason for it.
So she set about getting dressed in the clothes she usually wore as a gargoyle. She had to admit, aside from the slight feeling that they left her too vulnerable as a human, she still felt most... herself, wearing these. Even after all the time she'd had to get used to it, it was still a little disquieting to her to actually be a human and not a gargoyle. This actually helped with that some.
Dressed, she tested the door and was again reassured that it wasn't locked or sealed. As soon as she opened the door though, she immediately noticed the scent of food, which made her realize how hungry she was. Of course, it could be poison, she was a little disgusted with herself to consider. She really didn't like thinking things like that so incessantly about Elisa, but when you'd been hunted on and off for over a thousand years, it just came as second nature to her where humans were concerned. And usually she was more than fine with that. For some reason though, it was bothering her now in regards to her host, she couldn't deny that it was. In any case, practically speaking, for obvious reasons, she knew it was extremely unlikely Elisa Maza had poisoned the food she was cooking, so she dismissed the concern as unfounded and found herself quickening her pace to where the pleasant scents were coming from.
Elisa looked up from her food preparation and smiled. "Hi." She greeted her.
Dominique noticed again the subtle way Elisa took in her appearance. She smiled a little to herself, satisfied that she'd been right, and intrigued a little by it too somehow. She could remember only a few times in her life when she'd been looked at in just that way - It was nice, and it spoke very well of Elisa's character as well. "Good morning, Elisa." She greeted her in return, walking over to join her in the kitchen, standing on the other side of the counter and meeting her host's gaze.
"Did you sleep well?" Elisa asked, a little caught in Dominique's eyes somehow. There was just... something there, like a question, or maybe more than one.
"...I did, thank you." Dominique replied. "Is... some of this for me?" She asked, referring to the food.
"It is. You're hungry, I hope?" She asked. "Otherwise, I'm going to be stuck with leftovers."
"As it turns out, I am." Dominique replied, glancing over to the table, which had been set for two. "Can I... help? Preparing the food?" She asked, not having really thought about it before asking the question.
"No, it's alright. I'm almost done anyway, and you're my guest." She explained.
"Alright... I'll just keep you company then." Dominique replied easily, coming around the counter and inspecting the food curiously. "You're vegan?" She asked, noticing no meat or dairy products among the meal.
"Yeah, I hope that's alright?" She asked.
"Fine." Dominique replied. It was becoming something of a trend lately, she guessed, in certain circles, though she was at a loss as to why. Food was food though, as far as she was concerned, and this smelled like very good food. She wondered away to the other side of the small kitchen then, thinking of how to ask her next question. "Can I ask... how are you dealing with... everything that you've learned, yesterday?" She asked, leaning against the counter on the other side of the kitchen and looking at Elisa from behind.
Elisa put down what she was doing (putting things on plates to take over to the table) and turned around to regard her guest. "I suppose I do have questions..." She allowed.
"I would be suspicious if you didn't." Dominique replied.
"...Um, why do I have the feeling there's something more specific you want to know?" Elisa noticed.
Dominique smiled a little. "You are perceptive, I like that..." She said a little softly, walking back the few steps across the kitchen and taking a bite of food from one of the plates and popping it in her mouth, pleased with the taste.
"So?" Elisa asked, apparently a little amused with her.
"I suppose I just find it..." Dominique shook her head a little and looked off across the room at nothing in particular. "I don't trust easily, Detective Maza... Elisa." She said, looking over and meeting her host's eyes again. "I suppose, I'm just looking for... reassurance. That my secret will be safe with you, that I can... that you really are as trustworthy as you seem to be." She explained, for some reason finding herself being very careful of her words.
"Oh, well... I guess that makes sense, or I'm sure it does." Elisa said a bit abstractly, actually feeling a little hurt somehow, though she realized it was stupid to feel that way. Maybe this whole thing was stupid for her to have gotten mixed up in with the first place. She felt she hadn't really had a choice though. In addition to it plainly having been the right thing to do, the fact that it was also plainly in her job description (well, aside from the taking the assault victim home with her part), and that the she found the whole thing completely interesting and exciting, she had to admit to herself, she always did have a soft spot for strays too. That's how she ended up with Cagney after all, not that Dominique could be compared fairly to a house cat. Add it all up with the way Dominique took her breath away a little, and she hadn't really had a chance.
"Don't misunderstand me, I'm... I'm very grateful for your help last night, it's simply, it was simply very unexpected, that's all." She explained, looking away from Elisa again.
"It's all right." Elisa said. "...maybe we can answer more of each other's questions while we eat? ...I wouldn't want the food to get cold." She asked, trying to rally her mood and self-assurance.
Dominique smiled a little. "The food does smell very good." She allowed, picking up the plate she'd stolen food from just before. "May I?" She asked.
"Please." Elisa replied easily, watching her guest take up her plate of food and start to walk towards the table. She couldn't help but smile a little too, to watch her. She was a very attractive woman, she'd have to be thick in the head not to notice, especially with her dressed like that. More than that though, she had to admit, there was just something, some sort of... spark... that was just there for her. It was something she hadn't felt in... it had been almost a year and a half now, hadn't it? Since then, she'd gone out a few times, dated that nurse, Rebecca, for a few weeks, but her heart just hadn't been in it. She and Rebecca were still on good terms, they talked sometimes even, it was just... She shook her head and followed after Dominique with her own plate of food. The drinks and things were already over on the table waiting for them.
They sat down too and looked at one another. "You know, I do have some clothes you could borrow." Elisa smiled softly to the other woman.
"Oh... is the way I'm dressed... bothering you?" Dominique asked, a sort of bemused curiosity in her voice.
"Not at all. I just thought I should offer." Elisa explained, taking a bite of her food and swallowing. "So... how about this: A question for a question?" She offered, realizing suddenly she actually was very curious to know more about the woman across from her, as well as what the implications of her very existence might be.
Dominique considered that for a moment while she chewed a bite of food. "That sounds... equitable." She agreed. "You can have the first one, if you like?" She offered, curious as to what that question would be. A question asked could be as telling as a question answered, after all.
"Okay... I guess, where are you from?" She asked.
"...Scotland." Dominique answered. That certainly wasn't a question she'd expected. "Wyvern Hill... in present day Lochaber ward." She supposed that was all the answer she truly owed, but, looking into Elisa's expectant eyes, she felt compelled to expand on the matter. She sighed a little. "There used to be a great castle there, now abandoned and in ruins. Humans built it, but my kind, my clan, had lived there since long before... The humans struck an... accord with us... We would guard them at night, and they, in turn, were to guard us during the day... I was born there, in 938. The castle was sacked in 994, and I fled, thinking myself the last survivor of my clan..." She told her with simple honesty.
"You weren't though?" Elisa asked.
"...As it turned out, no." Again, Elisa's perceptiveness was somehow a pleasant surprise. "My lover, he had escaped as well. And found me, weeks later." She admitted. The bittersweet thoughts of Goliath evoking a familiar, if now distant, swirl of complex emotion in her.
Elisa smiled a little. "At least you weren't alone." She offered. "What happened to him?"
Dominique smiled a little wistfully. "Long gone... he died in a battle, protecting me." She fought the familiar bitter twist of grief that came from thinking of that time. His death had not been at all... easy... on her. But, Goliath, by that point, had been old... had lived a full life. Worse... much worse, was that they'd also had a son, who'd been young... though old enough to fight. She had lost him that same wretched day as well, to a spear thrown by a human. The grief and rage she'd felt at all humans over his loss, she wondered if she would ever truly get over it... If she could, if she had or not, regardless, it was one subject she wasn't going to talk about with Elisa, not now at least. If she told that story... there would be no hiding the hate in her eyes, and, somehow, the idea of Elisa Maza seeing that side of her was... not a pleasant thought.
"...I'm sorry." Elisa told her simply.
Dominique smiled, just a little, at that. "My turn?" She asked. There was much more to that part of her story of course, even than her son's death, but now was not the time to go into any more of it with her new human... acquaintance.
"...tell me about your day yesterday. Why were you out so late?" She asked, judging it a simple enough question that might tell her more of the other woman than might be obvious. And it had the added advantage that if Elisa were somehow other than she presented herself, her answering this question might reveal it. Of course, once she was back at her home, she fully intended to have Elisa Maza investigated thoroughly by all the means available to her. It was only prudent.
Elisa considered that a moment. "My shift usually starts at six, but I came in early to catch up on some paperwork." She explained, smiling a little. "I've been busy lately, and I sort of let it pile up." She admitted with a just a hint of shy embarrassment evident. By her apartment, Dominique could tell Elisa liked to keep things, if not overly neat, then... in order. It showed she had a certain need for... control, which Dominique could certainly sympathize with. "My captain wasn't too thrilled about that, but she understands."
"So, you were inside doing paper work all day... 'on your feet'?" She teased gently.
Elisa smiled. Was it just her, or was she being flirted with, just a little? Or, maybe 'played with' would be more accurate? She wasn't quite sure how she felt about that. If it was even true. "Uh, no. I've got more sense than that, thank you. If I'd stared at paperwork that long, I think I'd have been getting a ride to the nuthouse, in a nice padded truck."
"What then?" Dominique asked, frankly, enjoying herself. She couldn't remember the last time she'd enjoyed talking with someone so much, besides Una of course.
"What is actually a who - A lowlife by the name of Tony Dracon." She explained.
"I've heard of him." Dominique replied. "You were... hunting him, I take it?" She asked.
"You could say that, I guess." Elisa closed her eyes a moment then opened them. "I... with a job like mine, you hear allot of stories, you know? My dad never came home. My sister says she falls down a lot, but I don't believe her. There was a fire, my whole life up in smoke. I guess I must just have been careless. My daughter, she hung out with the wrong crowd, got messed up with drugs, now she's pregnant and she doesn't know who the father is, but the boy who gave her drugs won't leave her alone. My husband never came home, someone shot him for his wallet. Why can't the police do anything? Why can't you... it's my job, it's the police's job to protect our community. Protect the people who can't protect themselves. Well, a lot of those stories I keep hearing? One of the names that keeps coming up when I look into them?"
"Tony Dracon..." Dominique supplied.
"Tony Dracon. So, I guess I just decided to make him my personal project. When I have the time." She looked down at her plate. "Today, around eleven, I got called in on a murder. No proof, probably won't ever be any proof, but I'm... I'd really be surprised if Dracon wasn't behind it. So, I did what I'm supposed to. I was a cop; I talked to witnesses, followed leads..."
"Find anything?" Dominique asked, her food forgotten, she'd let herself get so wrapped up in Elisa's voice.
Elisa smiled softly. "Nope, 'fraid not." She reported, taking a sip of water. "But, today's another day, you know?"
"I do know." Dominique replied, smiling a little and taking a bite of food. She couldn't help it, it seemed. She was really starting to like this human somehow. "You... the way you talk... you sound like a gargoyle, Elisa."
"A gargoyle?" Elisa asked, unsure how to take that. "Like the statues?"
Dominique regarded her thoughtfully a moment. Somehow she'd thought she'd have said the name to her last night, but she realized she never had and Elisa had never asked what her kind were called. She'd never asked a lot of questions that she would think most humans would ask, come to think of it. "It's the name humans gave to my kind long ago. Gargoyles. The statues you speak of, I imagine we are where they take their inspiration... does that count as your question?" She smiled a little to her host.
"...only if you want it to?" Elisa offered.
Dominique gazed into her eyes a moment. "No, I don't. Ask me something else, detective." She offered, curious as to what she would ask next.
"Okay... magic. How does it work?" She asked.
"Hmm." Dominique shook her head and laughed under her breath just a little. "I don't know if even Oberon's Children know that." She confessed. "But I can tell you what I do know, if you want?" She offered.
"I'd like to know." Elisa said honestly. "And what does the faire king from Shakespeare's play have to do with it, by the way?" She asked further, taking a bite from her plate absently.
"Oh, Oberon is very real, Elisa." She smiled, feeling just a bit of mischief take hold of her. "Would you believe me if I told you, that I've met his ex-wife?" She asked, with a hint of teasing in her voice. Internally, a part of her was telling her to stop enjoying herself quite so much in this little game she was letting herself play with the fascinating detective across from her. But another part of her told her 'where's the harm?'.
Elisa closed her eyes, shook her head, and smiled a little. "Now you're just having fun with me." She accused.
Dominique shook her head. "Afraid not." She told her simply. Of course there was quite a story to be told about how exactly she knew Titania, but that wasn't the sort of thing she was going to get into just now either.
"Okay then." Elisa replied, taking a sip of water. "So, you were going to tell me about magic?" She asked.
"I was, wasn't I?" Dominique observed, chiding herself for having gotten a little lost in Elisa's eyes somehow. It was actually a little off-putting, a little disconcerting, the effect this human was having on her. "My first exposure to it came from the humans at Wyvern. There were two sorcerers there over the years. The elder, I convinced to teach me some of what he knew. I thought, if the humans could do this, my clan was vulnerable to them if one of us could not." She admitted.
"Makes sense." Elisa ventured.
"My teacher then, he told me that magic was like... sunlight dancing on a lake, making sparks, or what look like sparks. Water is the only thing in the world that can do that... until a human makes a mirror. Or, I suppose, a more modern analogy would be lightning and electricity, wouldn't it?" She told.
"So... it's a force of nature, like fire or electricity then?" Elisa asked.
"Only less of an obvious one, yes, that was his explanation. That one need only find the means to harness or direct it, to make it yours." Dominique confirmed. "Oberon's children, on the other hand, seem to think it's... what makes us alive. Where the soul comes from, what makes everything."
"What do you think?" Elisa asked.
"...I think that it is like life in one way at least, that it's a mystery who laughs at anyone foolish enough to try to guess at what its nature is." She sat back and closed her eyes a moment. Really, she doubted if even Oberon himself could do more than guess on the subject, if he were compelled to real honesty in the matter. Not that she'd ever met the man for herself of course, nor did she particularly ever wish to.
"Is that the same principal as not having names for things?" Elisa asked.
Dominique opened her eyes. "...I suppose so." She agreed, never having thought about it that way. Surprised Elisa had.
[Author's notes: Emotions flair and danger threatens on the horizon as Elisa and Dominique have their first date in Central Park.]
A drive across town later, Elisa pulled her car up to the driveway of an honest-to-goodness mansion, complete with a stone wall and security gates. Through the gates, you could see what looked more like a park garden than a lawn, with flowers, all kinds of bushes, and a miniature forest of trees. Dominique had to get out of the car to use the intercom by the gate to call someone inside to let her in. "You don't need to drive me inside, I'm alright from here." She told Elisa.
"Oh, okay. I should only be at the station for around two or three hours, want me to just come back here when I'm done then?" Elisa asked.
"No... I need to go into the office for a while. Perhaps, can you meet me there later? When you're done with your duties?" Dominique asked. Nightstone Unlimited's main offices were in a skyrise she owned in the center of one of the city's most up-scale business districts. It's location would be well known in the business world, but Elisa was not a part of that world (thankfully), so she wondered if she should offer to have her assistant call the station where Elisa worked later with directions?
Elisa smiled a little. "I'd say I need directions, but an investment banker took a nose dive off the top floor across the street from you last year. I know right where it's at." She told her honestly.
"And you handled the case?" Dominique asked curiously, kneeling down a little next to the car window. She remembered that day actually.
"Mm-mm. I was one of the first responders, but I had too many other active cases that week, so it got passed off to another detective." Elisa told her.
"Oh, I see." Dominique replied, somehow actually vaguely remembering seeing Elisa from across the street that day. "You know, now that you mention it, I think I actually did see you there. I was having lunch with a friend." Fox actually. She'd come to visit, having been in the city visiting her father, Halcyon Renard.
"Hm. Small world." Elisa told her softly.
"Apparently so..." Dominique replied just as softly, gazing into Elisa's eyes. The fact that she'd seen Elisa a year ago in passing was reassuring, she supposed - It meant that it was a lot less likely that this charming detective could be anything other than genuine. Not that it really seemed to matter to her heart, which was, with every beat, apparently giving her a very clear message, one that seemed to care very little for things like facts. "Elisa... I'd like it if you'd come out of the car, just for a minute for me? To say a proper goodbye?" She asked.
"Sure." Elisa agreed, doing as asked. She opened her car door and got out when Dominique stepped back to clear the way. "What now?" She asked with a little of a hesitant smile.
"Now, I'd like to kiss you farewell, detective..." She told her, moving into Elisa's personal space and leaning her against the car, capturing her lips in a heartfelt kiss. Elisa's eyes fluttered shut and she held Dominique and returned the kiss happily. It felt... it felt really nice; the feelings she had were beautiful, if a little overwhelming. Again, she felt like things were going too fast, but she couldn't tell Dominique that, because despite what her mind was telling her, her body was telling her something else. Somehow, her heart just... trusted this woman. Felt safe with her, like she'd only ever felt once before in her life, really. With Margot - Though it had taken her a long time to get to that place with her (probably because they'd argued so much to start with), while it seemed to all be happening at once with Dominique. She couldn't explain it, it was just a feeling. But one thing she'd learned in her life was to trust feelings like that. On the job, doing that had gotten her out of more than one bad situation. And in her love life, if she hadn't followed her instincts about Margot, hadn't taken the time to get to know her, and, eventually, to pursue her romantically (even though Margot herself had been a little stand-offish at first), then she... she would have missed out on something... something there was just no way to put a value to. Even given how it ended.
"Why do I like doing that so much?" Dominique smiled a little helplessly, still just a breath away from Elisa.
"Whatever the reason, I'm not complaining." Elisa said back, running her fingers through Dominique's hair and caressing her cheek. "See you soon?" She asked.
"I'll be waiting." Dominique replied softly, closing her eyes momentarily and turning away.
Elisa stood there a moment watching after her until she disappeared inside the gates, then turned and got back into her car and headed off to her precinct house. She wasn't looking forward to having to lie about what happened to cover for Dominique, but, like they'd talked about, there really weren't better options.
She just had to hope things would go well. For one thing, she wanted to get back to Dominique as soon as she could, the idea that David Xanatos was still out there and probably still had men after her was not at all a pleasant one. In fact, given her past experience of losing her last love interest to violence, the idea of it happening again, even to someone she was just getting to know, left her feeling particularly anxious about the whole thing (if there was one experience in her life she would chose never to have to repeat above any others, that would definitely be the one). They'd discussed it on the car ride over, what to do about Xanatos and all that. Dominique had told her that she would make plans to... deal with Xanatos, herself. Elisa had suggested they try to bring him to justice legally, of course, but Dominique had countered that Xanatos usually didn't break laws. People as rich as she and he were generally didn't need to because the laws were mostly written to their benefit, and on the occasions he did break the law, as difficult as it had been for her to make a case against Tony Dracon, Dominique assured her that it would be, at the very least, twice as hard where Xanatos would be concerned. It had been bitter to swallow for her, but Elisa had reluctantly agreed that there didn't seem to be much choice in the matter, especially because of Dominique's... unique circumstances. Still, the idea of killing a man in cold blood hadn't set right with her; killing should always be a last resort, in her opinion. Dominique had considered that a moment, and then countered that she certainly had the resources to imprison Xanatos herself, if Elisa wished; though she had seemed somewhat uneasy with that solution, stating that she'd prefer to be sure he wouldn't be a threat any longer. None the less, she had agreed to try it that way for her sake, unless Xanatos ended up forcing her hand in the matter. Elisa had further insisted Dominique let her help if she was going to do this. Dominique had told her she would consider it. Elisa had reluctantly agreed to let her think on it. It wasn't as though she herself couldn't use the time to... process things.
Whatever Dominique decided though, Elisa was determined to help her however she could - Even if she had to go a little outside the law to do it. It would happen anyway, she told herself. There was little she could do to stop it. At least if she involved herself, she could make sure Dominique was the one who came out of it safe and sound, and not in a laboratory somewhere.
Strictly within the law or not, she knew it was the right thing to do.
All these heavy matters aside though, she couldn't help but smile to herself, thinking of seeing Dominique again, and wondering just what the other woman would have planned for their date later.
What she would do if the exciting and mysterious new love interest in her life wanted to take her to bed afterward? That was the thought that ended up being the most persistently distracting one of all of course.
It was too soon, anyone with perspective would tell her so. But, the way they'd been together... the way Dominique looked at her, looked into her, as though she were the only other person besides her in the world... It made her shiver a little in anticipation just remembering that look.
Her home was dark and quiet as Demona entered, sunlight pouring in through the windows. She looked around and sighed, stripping out of her clothing and dressing again in what she usually wore as her true self, as a gargoyle. That done, she touched the enchanted bracelet she wore to her lips in a kiss.
Magic swelled as a soft, subtlety felt swirl of air and energy around her. She half hummed, half moaned a little as she felt her body swiftly change, grow, harden, return. She stretched and hummed in pleasure, spreading her wings wide and full. It was such an odd feeling, to change like that. Even given how commonplace an occurrence it was for her, and how accustomed to it she'd become, it still evoked things in her; a little wonder sometimes among them. She felt that now especially, perhaps because her emotions were so vivid and sharp from her time with Elisa. She imagined she could still feel the echoes of their last kiss in her very skin in fact. It made her smile, something of a risk-taker's smile as she bent her legs and jumped, gliding just a little over to the stairs to her right, jumping up them in a few light, almost soundless, bounds.
Una would be awake today; she recalled the schedule with mixed feelings. On the one hand, Una had probably become her closest friend in the time since she'd known her; on the other, Una was also probably one of most the perceptive and... sharp individuals she'd ever met. In fact, Una could usually be counted on to see right through her, sometimes quite frustratingly so. Still, it was also probably one of the reasons why she liked her so much and they usually got along so well.
She slowed her pace to a walk as she went along the third floor's interior balcony on her way to the fourth floor stairwell. Una would, no doubt, be up there, watching over their clan and, probably, reading a book. She could picture the familiar scene now. Una would be there, perched by the window, wings draped over her shoulders with the sun on her back, reading. She would wait until Demona was across the room in polite speaking distance, put down the book, their eyes would meet, Una would greet her, Demona would either sit down with her, or Una would stand, and they would talk. It was a scene that had played itself out a number of times so far. More often than with the others - Una's mate, Leo, for some reason, preferred not to take his turns awake during the day and instead to give them to Una, whom he knew would appreciate them more than he would for the extra time to read. Demona could suppose understanding his reluctance to stay awake. It did somehow feel... unnatural, to be a gargoyle awake during the daylight hours. For one thing, everything was so bight and vivid to your eyes, to where it looked almost like the world were glowing with light (it didn't look like that at all to a human's eyes). She also felt like she had so much more energy now too. The more direct sunlight one were exposed to, the more the effects magnified. Gargoyles fed on solar energy, not unlike plants, and operated at night on both that stored energy and the consumption of food, meat primarily. Where a human like Elisa could easily go without meat consumption and be perfectly healthy, the same could not be said of gargoyles. As the sharp teeth evidenced, they were largely carnivores by nature and needed meat to survive and thrive (though they could eat a few other things too). Awake during the day though, the hunger for meat was gone, one just wanted to be in the sun. It was even a slightly addictive feeling and could leave you feeling a little blissful or lethargic if one indulged in it for too long without keeping active. Leo, from what he'd said, did not enjoy that feeling very much; though, privately, Demona suspected it was more a combination of being stuck in his ways, wanting to be able to give his mate more time with the books she so loved, and, perhaps, an aversion to the loneliness that one might feel alone in a room where all the rest of your clan, his mate included, were in stone sleep (she was there sometimes, but was often out on business, leaving whomever was awake alone to guard the clan). Loneliness was one thing Demona understood all too well, after all, so she could hardly begrudge the choice for that reason alone, let alone the others.
The 'stairwell' to the fourth floor actually only had two large steps between the floors - Too far apart for humans to traverse without a lot of effort, but easy for a gargoyle to hop up between them. She'd owned this home of hers for twenty years or so actually, and she'd taken security precautions from the start of course, but since gathering her new clan to her here in New York, she'd made the house over into a virtual fortress. With a voice command or by pressing a panic button, one of her clan could, among other equally ruthless security features, seal the fourth and fifth floors as securely as a bank vault and flood the rest of the house with toxic gas. Now that she had a clan of her own kind back, small though it was, she wasn't about to take any chances with their safety, living in the heart of a city of humans as they were - especially now that there were children involved.
When she emerged onto the fifth floor, the scene she had been expecting wasn't there. Una was, instead, standing in the light from the wall of windows on the east side of the house, looking out at the city, her wings out and erect, if not expanded to their full span. (This she could do safely because the windows were all one way, allowing those inside to look out while those outside could not look in.)
Demona walked over to her. "Hello, Una. No book?" She asked, stepping into the light with her friend. She was feeling just... happy. Even with the Xanatos problem weighing on her in addition to her usual burdens, she found she couldn't help feeling that way. Because of Elisa. It was... confusing, but definitely in a good way.
Una turned to meet her interested gaze. "I was... concerned." She replied, her eyes telling Demona easily whom she was concerned about.
"About me, you mean." She supplied.
"We all were. It's rare for you, not returning punctually, not contacting us to let us know you'd be delayed. Was worry unwarranted?" She asked in counter.
Demona was speechless a moment, realizing that in fact Una was right. She hadn't called. After her cellular phone had been left beyond hope of salvage by the electrified javelins the mercenaries had used on her, she'd crushed it in her hand and put it in the trash on her way to Elisa's car, but she easily could have called from Elisa's - She hadn't even thought too. "...No, of course not." She admitted softly, turning away from her friend and crossing her arms to herself in thought.
"...What happened?" Una asked, coming up behind her and placing her hand on her shoulder and then moving closer to her when she felt no resistance from her friend.
Demona relaxed back against Una's familiar warmth. "Too much, probably. It's a long story."
"One that ends in you being deposited on our doorstep in the company of a human?" Una asked softly. "...One whom you felt the need to kiss goodbye, as you would a lover?"
Demona stiffened a little at that. Of course she would know that. There were security cameras, listening devices. She would have seen and heard everything that had passed between her and Elisa Maza in front of their home. Why had she not considered that? And why had she not called when she'd be late retuning? The answer was obvious of course. The charming police detective she'd met last night had affected her even more than she'd let herself realize. "Yes." She finally replied. "One that ends that way, obviously." She acknowledged softly, walking forward and going to sit on the bench by the window where she and Una often had their talks. Her pet, the 'dog' she'd told Elisa of, asleep in stone form at her feet; she patted his head absently, perhaps to comfort herself. She treasured him very much, more than she could even say; after more than eight hundred years on her own, without any of her own kind for company, he had been a very welcome relief from her loneliness when she'd found him and managed to secure his release from a curse. The simple, wordless, uncomplicated affection and acceptance he'd given her, and the memories of happier times he stirred in her, had truly been a balm for her soul that she'd needed more than she would have been prepared to admit to anyone.
Una followed. Demona watched as the other woman folded her wings around her shoulders and sat down next to her. "I don't suppose you, of all of us, need to be reminded how dangerous it can be, to involve yourself with one of them?" Una offered a little cautiously.
Demona raised her gaze to meet her friend's. "In this case, perhaps I do." She confessed.
"I... have to admit, it was something of a shock... to see you like that." Una supplied. "I never would have expected it... There was Fox of course, but she is Avalonian, at least on her mother's side. You know that I don't believe all humans wicked, of course... It's only..."
Demona smiled just a little at that. "The heart wants what the heart wants, it seems." She told her simply.
"...True. But I confess, I'm surprised to hear you say so." Una replied.
"Since we were last together, it's been one surprise after another, I'm afraid." She offered.
"Something happened, didn't it? Something more than even whatever it is between you and this human woman?" Una asked.
"As usual, you see to the heart of the matter." Demona replied with the hint of a fond smile. "You know of my business last night?"
"Your first clan; the survivors." Una provided.
Her first clan, besides Goliath, and two others, Athena and Apollo (whom she and Fox had later rescued and brought to this time by use of the Phoenix gate; a magical talisman that could transport you through time, though not allow you to change the past in any way - when you used it, your actions were in some strange way pre-destined and unchangeable), had all been wiped out when the castle had been sacked by the Vikings. That is, all except for four males of her clan and her 'dog'; three of the males only younglings, the fourth an elder, their former leader, before Goliath had taken over in that role. By now, she had accounted for three of them, including her 'dog'. But he was the only one freed of the curse. The curse cast a thousand years ago that had trapped the five of them in perpetual stone sleep. The terms of the spell were that they would sleep until Wyvern castle rose above the clouds. An absurd condition of course, but that was the point. It was the magical equivitant of modern day contract law, which, by the way, she had nearly as little fondness for. Without a condition set into the spell, it could be broken fairly easily, so the human who'd made the spell, naturally, decided to set a condition he considered impossible. It was in a conversation with Xanatos that she recently realized though, that, given the resources of the modern age, the condition was hardly impossible any longer, merely very costly. A simpler way, of course, would be the method by which her dog had been freed: Titania. The queen of Avalon was, apparently, more than a match for the human who'd crafted the spell, and, in exchange for a favor from her, she'd broken the spell and freed her dog years ago. She wasn't at all sure that she could convince Titania to be so generous with the rest of her cursed clan-mates, at least not without some price being paid, but perhaps Fox would be able to convince her? If not, she would try Xanatos's method; the time and the exorbitant expense involved would be a small price to pay for the results, after all.
Demona nodded. "There are two still left unaccounted for." Kendrick & Associates were estate lawyers. She'd tracked her lost clan-mate down through the years from when they were first stolen in the early 1900s by a wealthy land baron who thought them too grand as 'artistic masterpieces' to let them waste away on the top of an old castle out where no one went anymore. She had private investigators on her payroll, watching things like estate auctions for any sign of them. One of those investigators had found an old listing for a private, invite only, estate auction held a year ago in which the smallest of her lost clan-mates had been sold. She'd tried to go through channels in her Dominique Destine role, but apparently it would have been a breach of client confidentiality for the lawyers to give out the information she sought on the buyer. So, instead of going through the exhaustive process of trying to obtain the information through human channels, she'd thought to simply take a more direct approach and break in to the lawyers' offices herself in dead of night, lest she risk again losing the trail. "Xanatos knows this, and apparently was cleaver enough to learn where I would be searching next. Perhaps by compromising one of the investigators in my employ, or perhaps he simply planted the information for them to find? In either case, it was a trap; one I very nearly did not escape from."
Una stiffened, looking away. "Dire news indeed, then." She supplied.
"It was a mistake to become involved with him in the first place, I know that. I should have listened to you when you told me as much." She admitted.
"Yes, you should have." Una almost snapped at her a little, which was a surprise.
"You know... it's been a long while since I've thought of myself as being too trusting..." Demona told her.
"And the human woman?" Una asked, the question of whether Demona were making the same mistake again implicit.
"She... came to my rescue." She admitted. "Rather heroically, if you must know..."
Una regarded her with surprise then. "In your human form?"
Demona shook her head. "As I truly am."
"Tell me more..." Una offered.
"I broke into the estate lawyer's offices I told you and the others about, and they were there lying in wait. A mercenary team - Highly trained, and with weapons meant specifically to subdue a gargoyle. Thankfully, I've never told Xanatos the extent of the spell that gives me my immortality, or I'm sure they would have been armed with lethal ordinance and I would have had even worse prospects." The spell the Weird Sisters had cast on her meant that only one person could kill her - If she were killed by anyone else, she would heal from it within a day. "In the confined space, they were able to corner me and use a net and a type of electrified javelins to keep me at bay. Their weapons were sapping my strength more and more the more I was subjected to them... and, that was when Elisa came in, announced herself as a police officer, and told them to stand down and drop their weapons. When they would not, she engaged them in combat. The distraction let me fight free, and, between the two of us, we made short work of my attackers. She saw me as I am, and, while she was understandably surprised by the sight, she didn't appear to even hesitate to take my side over theirs."
Una smiled softly. "Some humans can be trusted - I've said this, experienced this for myself. If she has really proven herself to you so..."
"She has... I will have her background investigated at the soonest opportunity of course, but I... I don't, I can't bring myself to truly believe that she's playing me false, no matter how much my better sense tells me I should not be so soon to trust. The way she looks at me, Una, the... the way she responds in my arms... It's... Humans are more adept at deception than we, it's true, but I don't see how even the most cunning or ruthless human could... I simply don't think it possible to pretend at that so convincingly." She told her honestly. It was funny - She was only now, having spoken her truth aloud, fully realizing how much conviction she had that the words she'd spoken were true. And, if she were wrong somehow, and Elisa were somehow deceiving her as deeply as that, well, then she would know, finally know for sure that there could be no redeeming value in the human species after all. Then she would be committed.
Una smiled softly, reaching over between them and taking Demona's hand in hers, looking at their joined hands, then back up into her eyes. "Then, my dearest friend, you have my full support." Her words were gentle and Demona could read something like relief in her eyes. Una had never been completely supportive of her stated stance against the human race, let alone the actions she planned to take against them, and Demona could only imagine her friend relieved that perhaps now she would find a reason not to.
She didn't know if that were true. If she would truly consider forsaking her revenge, even for Elisa... but, a large part of her seemed to want to find out if she could. So... she was going to try. "I appreciate that." She told her softly.
Una's gaze wondered over to Obsidiana, asleep in stone form. "...I only hope she will see it that way." She said softly.
Demona looked over to the sleeping woman with regret. She was knelt on one knee, wings draped over her shoulders, looking forwards almost in their direction; her expression solemn and, perhaps a little as though weighed down by her own thoughts. Demona looked away and stood, crossing her arms, holding her elbows. "She chose to end it between us, not I." She replied, walking over to the window to look out at the city beyond.
Una's reply followed her. "You and I both know it was never that simple." Left unsaid was what Demona suspected Una wanted to say: 'You could have fought harder for her.'
"As a matter of fact..." Demona let her mind wonder down the path Una had laid out for her. "In the end Una, I think everything turns out to be just that simple... Yes or no, do or don't... We fool ourselves into thinking it can be any other way, but our delusions never change our circumstances, do they?"
"...Perhaps they don't." Una seemed to concede the point. "Do you know the simple truth in this though, or are you clinging to an illusion?" She challenged.
"...She will feel betrayed." Demona finally conceded. She could understand that. Even sympathize. But, as she'd said, in the end, it didn't change anything. She did not feel towards Obsidiana as she felt towards Elisa. By all rights, she should, but she simply didn't. And her clan-mate had surely sensed it, had probably chosen to end things with them because she'd sensed it. Obsidiana had a child with Griff now, but they had never been a couple (in fact, Griff was Apollo's mate), they'd only joined sexually to produce offspring. In the human world, that would perhaps be considered outside the norm (though less so in recent years, in parts of the world at least). Among her kind however, the norm was more the reverse. Choosing a mate of the same gender was more the common thing - where Una and Leo, she and Goliath, both instances were more the exceptions than the rules. Though, unlike in human societies, there were no social taboos against breaking with the average. In fact, Demona considered, perhaps, looking at it from a distance, someone might think that she had that as her type - Someone unique, someone unexpected. No one, not even she herself, had expected her and Goliath to fall in love either, after all. Actually, that wasn't the only way Elisa reminded her of Goliath, come to think of it. It was more introspection than she wanted to indulge in right then however, to try to discern if there was any truth to that beyond coincidence.
Una came up behind her and held her from behind around her waist. She didn't say anything, which Demona was grateful for. She simply stood there with her, taking in the view by her side. At last, Demona closed her eyes and found herself wondering... what would have happened if it had been Una and not Obsidiana who had been unattached in her new clan? Could she have fallen in love with her as she had seemingly been unable to do with Obsidiana? Or would her heart have been just as obstinate then as well? The truth was... when she and Obsidiana had been together, it had been increasingly frustrating for Demona, because Obsidiana was, by any measure her mind could formulate, a perfect prospect as a mate - Strong, beautiful, noble, good, easy to like and easy to be with, a beautiful lover. They'd rarely argued, and Obsidiana had even embraced her views, encouraged her in her ambitions against the humans. By every right, they should have been the perfect couple. Yet they had not been. When Obsidiana had looked at her, Demona could tell the other woman had true feelings for her. Perhaps Obsidiana had even fallen in love with her. Yet she herself had held back, had been unable to return those feelings like a mate should be able to. It still confounded her every time she thought about it, and she still had no good answer to tell herself, or Obsidiana for her that mater, as to why it had not worked with them. She'd thought at one point that perhaps she was only truly attracted to males, despite how little sense that made to her, but now she knew that obviously wasn't the case at all... which was comforting in one way, but it still left her with precious few answers where her own heart was concerned... For someone as long lived as she, she often thought... she really should know herself better than she did.
"I should go." Demona finally said. "I need to go into the office." She explained, moving out of her friend's arms and turning away from her to head towards the door. She stopped by Obsidiana and looked to her contemplatively, touching her cheek a little wistfully. Una was right, she truly did not relish the prospect of her former lover finding out about Elisa Maza. She knew it would hurt her, knew she would see pain and betrayal in this woman's eyes - and it hurt her just to consider that, because despite the fact that she'd been unable to fall in love with her, she did care about her a very great deal and despaired at the thought of hurting her. Was she truly making the right decision? "While I'm gone, be on your guard, Una. I doubt he would, but I wouldn't put it past Xanatos to attack here, while the others slept." Her gaze roamed around the room at her sleeping clan: Leo, Griff, Apollo, her 'dog' (whom she had stubbornly resisted giving a name, despite Fox and Griff both having tried to convince her to), and Obsidiana...
"If he does, he will regret it." Una told her.
Demona nodded and turned to leave. "I should be the one to tell her." She said at the door, not turning to meet Una's gaze.
"You won't be back before sunset?" Una inquired.
"No, yes, of course I will. It's only..." She didn't know what else to say; although she did feel the weight of responsibility, of guilt. But guilt and responsibility were no strangers to her. No, they were old friends... perhaps even family, if anything.
"I understand." Una replied.
Demona left without saying anything else.
She was conflicted about leaving, thinking, as clan leader, perhaps she should stay to help Una guard the others. True, Xanatos was unaware of Una's constantly improving talents as a sorceress, and true that it would take a small army to breach the mansion once it was in lockdown and Xanatos, presumably, did not know that either; but, regardless, if she were thinking with her head instead of her heart, she knew she would stay and simply have her assistant come to the house for the day. ...But then, if she were following her head, she would forget about Elisa, turn around, and, if not try to make it work with Obsidiana again, then at least forgo her own feelings for the sake of maintaining harmony within her clan. She was their leader, perhaps she owed it to them?
She was thinking with her heart though, and, more than that it would be good for her to go into work for a number of other reasons, it was also true that the anticipation of seeing Elisa Maza again lived in her skin now, and she could do little to deny it.
She had lived a very long time after all, and liked to think she'd learned at least a few truths along the way; probably the most important of these was that the heart... ruled everything. Despite reason, civility, culture, even species, that truth, that law, always seemed to remain. You could try to ignore it, pretend it wasn't true, but it was true, and it always would be.
Only tragedy and woe awaited those who ignored this.
But then, sometimes, she thought, perhaps tragedy was all that awaited her anyway.
Perhaps it was all that awaited any of us, in the end.
"I understand that captain, but there's really nothing more I can tell you. I know it looks strange; heck, it does to me too. But that's what happened. I don't know why they started shooting, I don't know why the place was so wrecked, what those strange claw marks were about, and I certainly didn't hear any growling." Two witnesses had reported hearing a strange growling noise along with the gunfire. "Maybe they were chasing someone before I got there? Maybe they just got into a fight while they were turning the place over and it turned sour? The only explanations I can think of for the claw marks are a wild animal or someone with a fetish for those Japanese claw weapons that go on the back of your hands. Both those possibilities sound kind of far-fetched, but, you know, armed mercenaries wrecking an estate lawyer's office, it's not like that's not kind of far-fetched either. Sure this is New York, but still... I don't know... I'm really not sure what you want from me on this." Elisa finished.
Maria Chavez regarded her critically a moment, pen held between her hands. "I'm not sure either... but I know when something doesn't smell right. I've known you since you were a beat cop, Elisa. Something's not right here... You seem nervous and distracted, it's just not like you."
Elisa exhaled and, a little defeated, took a seat in the chair opposite her captain again. She should have known Captain Chavez would see through her like this, the woman rarely missed much. It was one of the many reasons Elisa respected her mightily, but in this case it was also damned inconvenient too. She just hadn't expected to get called in to make her report in person like this. "I know Captain, and I'm sorry. But it's got nothing to do with this case, I promise you." She lied through her teeth.
"What is it then, and don't say Anthony Dracon. I know what a Dracon headache looks like on you, this isn't it." Captain Chavez headed off what she probably thought Elisa's most likely excuse would be. Luckily though, that wasn't where Elisa had planned on taking this.
Elisa shook her head. "It's not that... Well, not only that, I mean." She qualified. Until Dracon was behind bars or in the ground she wasn't about to rest easy on that score, no matter what else was going on in her life. Even this.
"What is it then?" Chavez asked in a more considerate tone.
"I... I'm going out on a date today." She admitted softly, looking down at her hands.
"...Oh, I see." Chavez replied softly after a moment.
Elisa looked up to see her captain get up from her chair and come around her desk to sit back against the front edge of it.
"You've kept up going to sessions?" Captain Chavez asked tactfully.
Elisa nodded, not meeting her eyes. "Every week, haven't missed one yet." She answered softly.
"Then I'm sure you know, starting to have a personal life again isn't... It's not something you should feel ashamed of, Elisa." She told her softly. "...You're not betraying her by going out on a date."
Elisa met her captain's compassionate gaze and did her best to put on a brave smile. "Yeah, I know. I guess it's just going to take some getting used to, that's all." She explained.
Chavez smiled a little back to her. "What's her name? This new woman in your life?" She asked gently.
"Um, well... Dominique Destine?" She admitted a little reluctantly, knowing Maria would have undoubtedly heard of her.
Maria Chavez's eyes widened a little at that. She smiled a little ruefully and shook her head. "Didn't see that one coming." She remarked a little under her breath. "How'd that happen?" She asked.
"Met her last week at Lightning." She named a popular up-scale gay and lesbian dance club she'd gone to sometimes with Margot. "We, um, we danced a few times. Exchanged phone numbers. We've... talked on the phone a few times." She again lied through her teeth. "She came by my apartment once... just to talk though. There may have been some making out involved..." She admitted softly. "This is our first actual date though."
She met her captain's eyes again and found a fond, almost relieved smile on her lips. "I'm happy for you, Elisa, really..." She told her kindly. "Relieved too, to tell you the truth... How Margot died... It would be hard for anyone to get over something like that."
Elisa felt something hitch in her throat and she actually felt vaguely like she might cry. She forced herself to hold her emotions in check though and put on another forced smile. "Life just doesn't give you much choice though, does it? I just... I keep telling myself: She wouldn't want me to be miserable and alone for the rest of my life. I wouldn't want that for her, if the situations were reversed at least..." She trailed off. And she really did believe that Margot would want that for her too. Reluctantly perhaps, because she had been a little possessive, actually (though Elisa had only found it endearing on her somehow), but in the end, she'd want her to be happy. Elisa knew that.
"No, of course you wouldn't..." Chavez said back softly. "So, where are you going on this date of yours then?" She asked, trying, apparently, to bring this talk back to a more cheerful, hopeful place.
Elisa smiled a little wryly. "I don't know, actually. I'm supposed to meet her where she works. She promised to give me the ten-cent tour. Where we're going after that though, she hasn't told me yet."
"Well, the field's wide open with someone like that, I guess. She could be planning to take you to Paris on a private jet, for all you know." Captain Chaves assessed, going back around her desk to sit in her chair again.
Elisa laughed just a little at the thought of that. "Yeah, I kind of doubt that." She told her with something of a more genuine smile this time. Though, privately, she was a little incredulous that that could technically happen someday if things between her and Dominique got serious. Margot's family had money, but not the kind of money Dominique had - It was a little daunting to think about, actually.
"...From what I know about her, she's an impressive woman. I'm happy for you, Elisa." She replied.
"Thanks Captain." Elisa replied, just a little shyly. It kind of bothered her though, both just how effective she seemingly was at lying to her captain, to someone she both respected and admired, and that she was using Margot's memory to do it. She was a cop, so obviously she had the skills to pull it off - Lying to a suspect to get them to admit to something they didn't want to admit to was just part of the job, and she'd done under cover work enough times and interrogated enough suspects to get pretty darn good at it too. The trick with any good lie, of course, was both to keep it as close to the truth as you could, and to make it something your target wanted, or would reasonably expect, to hear. That way the lie would be convincing, you'd remember it more easily, and it would be less likely to be questioned. Still, this was the first time she'd really used those skills for something that wasn't strictly above board and she wasn't exactly happy about it, to say the least. She'd committed herself now though, so she pretty much had to see it through. "That means a lot." She told her softly.
Captain Chavez merely nodded. "Just be careful, huh? Take things slow?" She offered.
Elisa smiled wanly. "I'll certainly try. I somehow doubt she's going to make that easy though." She admitted.
"Really?" She asked, her interest sparked a little.
"She's... um, kind of intense, actually. In a good way. Almost like... like she's got a gravitational pull or something." She admitted.
Chavez gave a little of a smile. "Ah, to be in love." She said a little jokingly.
"...You and Josh are still doing all right, aren't you?" She asked, imagining she might be picking up on something between the lines. Maria had two kids, a boy and a girl, from her first marriage. She'd remarried last year and adopted another little girl. Her new husband, Joshua Ramos, had been a hot-shot architect with a well-known firm when he and Maria had met on a case (one of his co-workers' kids had gone missing). They'd dated a few months and then tied the knot. He was an easy going guy, a real artist type who liked to paint in his free time. Elisa had met him a few times and liked him pretty well - Thought he and the captain were a good match, actually.
Chavez smiled a soft, rueful smile and shook her head a little. "He lost his job last month, remember?"
"Of course. He... still hasn't found another one?" Elisa asked delicately.
She shook her head. "He and Kerrigan are planning on starting up their own firm now. It's... a busy time."
Elisa's eyes widened a little. "Kerrigan Phillips?" She asked. "Damn, she's..."
"Younger than me? Charming? Unattached? Stunning in a business suit? Believe me, I'm well aware of that, thank you." She provided.
Elisa quirked a little of a smile. "If it helps anything, the one time I met her, I think she was actually checking me out a little. And not in an 'I covet your clothes' way."
The Captain's face registered a little surprise at that. "You don't think...? I mean, Josh never said..."
"It doesn't necessarily mean anything. Plenty of straight women do that sometimes. And she could be bi, or bi-curious or whatever."
Maria smiled a little at that. "Still, it is a cheerful thought that it might be true... Thank you Elisa."
Elisa smiled a little. "No problem. Really though, if you want to talk...?" She offered.
"No, I'm sure it's fine. It's just driving me a little crazy every once and a while when I let myself think about it too much, that's all." She told her.
"Talk to him about it then." Elisa said softly.
Chavez regarded her. "You think I should?" She asked.
Elisa looked down at her hands then back up. "I always thought, if a little truth was going to end my relationship, it would have ended sooner or later anyway, so might as well bite the bullet now. You gotta talk, gotta be there, gotta have trust. Always the best answer for any relationship problem, in my opinion." She told her a little distantly.
"Is that how you did it?" She asked softly.
"Secret to my success." Elisa told her with a little of a forced smile. When Margot had been alive, the two of them had socialized with the captain and her family on many occasions and Maria had often commented to her how perfect their relationship had seemed. And, really, it had been. Oh, there'd been an argument here or there, and life, their jobs, their families, had thrown things their way just like anyone else, but they'd always been there for one another. That's what made it perfect, or at least as perfect as you'd have any right to expect. Margot had told her once on their second anniversary, that she'd felt like, in some ways, the honeymoon had never ended. That had meant so much to Elisa, it still did in fact.
"That and not having kids." Maria joked.
"...We were going to." Elisa confessed softly. "We just hadn't yet..."
"...I'm sorry." The captain apologized.
"It's okay. Just one more on the list of never was. Life just goes that way sometimes." Elisa hypothesized, trying to keep Zen about the whole thing. It tended to help.
"That's true." Captain Chavez replied. And Elisa knew that she knew that too. Years ago, Maria had lost a brother in the line of duty. It was, Elisa thought, probably the reason why the captain always made a point of doing whatever she could to help when one of the people under her command suffered a similar loss. "Well, hey, don't let me keep you then. Go. Have your date. Enjoy yourself. If anyone deserves it, you do."
"Thanks, Captain. I'll do my best." Elisa replied with a little forced cheerfulness. She still felt positively lousy about having lied to a superior officer whom she both respected, and considered a good friend. But, like she'd discussed with Dominique - there really wasn't a better option (or, at least, if there was, she hadn't been able to think of it in time).
"I'll still need that written report on yesterday's incident before you leave though. And I want you digging into this next chance you get. I want answers, Elisa. Your love life aside, none of this is sitting right. Get to the bottom of it. Call in help if you need it. The last thing we need are stories of armed mercenaries skulking around in buildings at night making the rounds in the press. Are we clear?" Captain Chavez asked.
"As glass, Captain." Elisa told her, ruefully considering that she really should have considered how this might look if the press got wind of it and decided to make something of it. There were elections coming up in five months after all, and the captain was probably getting the usual pressure from up the chain that public safety, or at least the perception of public safety, was paramount. It was a crap shoot as to whether the press would run with something like this or not, but the idea that they might would, of course, have occurred to her. And, though she knew Maria distained politics and just wanted to do her job well, she also knew she had a family to consider and a demotion or a transfer wasn't something she wanted to happen - That meant that appeasing the higher ups and keeping an eye on the press was just part of the job description.
"Good." Maria replied, effectively dismissing Elisa by picking up a case folder that had been on her desk.
Elisa understood the intent. The captain didn't want there to be any mistake on the job, no matter how friendly towards you she might be when the situation called for it, that she was still the superior officer and that the chain of command was there for a reason had to be understood at all times.
Elisa left the captain's office and made her way back to her desk and the paperwork waiting for her there, saying hi to her friend Officer Morgan on the way.
She didn't feel like she might start crying anymore, but she still felt kind of shaky inside and she wanted to get out of the station as fast as she could to give herself a little alone time to think and get her emotions a little more sorted out before her date with Dominique.
Despite whatever else was on her mind, she still wanted to make a good impression.
Demona, or rather Dominique now, was seated in her chair, having turned around from her desk to look out over the city when her assistant, Robyn, had told her that a representative from Xanatos Enterprises was here asking to see her. She'd turned to look at the beautiful view mostly to calm herself enough so that she wouldn't be tempted to try choking whomever it was to death with her bare hands on sight.
That Xanatos had dared to send someone to her like this as though there could be anything further to discuss, as though she weren't resolved on killing him, no matter what she'd agreed to with Elisa, as though there could be some bargain struck to settle what was between them now - It was an insult that had her roiling with fury inside. In certain matters, she'd truly come to believe the people of this time fools, even perhaps Elisa Maza to an extent (though, in her case, at least her convictions were honorable ones; if a bit naive in this case). Those of the modern age seemed to like to think that everything could be dealt with in nice, polite, 'civilized' ways. Well, perhaps they could, for some, but not for her. After what Xanatos had tried to do, she would see him dead, preferably by her own hand. She wanted to look into his eyes as the life left him and make sure he knew. Knew that actions had consequences - that there was a price to be paid for trying to make property of another living being - for trying to make property of her. So he was a fool, as well as a betrayer. Oh, but even a fool could be a dangerous and clever fool, couldn't he? Perhaps he was even deliberately trying to make her as angry with him as he possibly could? Hoping it would give him some advantage? Lead her to some rash action? Either way, she had little stomach for indulging him in his games, and she very much wished she could simply send Langston away without seeing him. She obviously couldn't though, not without risking losing a potential tactical advantage. Of course, this errand boy Xanatos had sent could well only offer her misinformation, but the risk of that didn't outweigh the potential gain of having a window into what Xanatos's game was now. Even misinformation might give her a clue. She'd have to be careful though - If she wasn't, she could easily fall into another trap. David Xanatos was, after all, nothing if not a skilled manipulator, of people and events.
"Daniel Langston, Ms. Destine." Robyn said, showing the visitor in.
"Thank you, Robyn." Dominique replied. Despite herself, she'd grown fond of Robyn Correy, and come to trust and rely on her. More, perhaps, than was strictly wise, she supposed.
Robyn excused herself and Dominique turned around in her chair to face the handsome young human who now stood before her. She didn't speak, but just looked at him with a calm, only somewhat expectant expression.
"Right." He said, with just a hint of nervousness in his voice. "Down to business, I guess?" He asked, going to take a seat in one of the two chairs opposite her desk. The one fractionally closer to the door, she noted with some small amount of amusement. Probably a wise choice on his part, given her earlier train of thought. Though, in reality, there was very little chance of her actually attacking him in her own office in the middle of the work day. She could probably cover it up if she had to, but why take a risk like that? Especially now that she was romantically interested in an unexpectedly very romantically interesting police officer.
She still didn't respond to him, but kept regarding him with the same somewhat expectant look.
"I... suppose you have an idea why I might be here?" He asked.
"Why not assume that I don't." She spoke at last.
"...There was an... incident, last evening, correct?" He offered.
"An incident?" She asked back, not giving much away.
"I expect it would have been... very memorable?" He asked.
"Would you?" She asked back.
"I'm afraid I can't be more specific. Legal considerations and all. I'm sure you understand." He offered.
"Oh, I understand. I understand that the law has and will have very little to do with forthcoming events... Do you understand how... potentially dangerous, your own position might easily become?" She asked with some feigned concern.
"Unless I miss my guess, that ship has most likely already sailed." He replied in all seriousness.
"Not necessarily. Matters between your employer and I have reached a... point of no return, shall we say. You, on the other hand, might spare yourself a similar fate quite easily." She offered.
"Turn traitor, you mean?" He asked.
"Your kind do seem to have a talent for that sort of thing. In matters of self-preservation, at the very least." She offered.
"And your kind, what would you say they have a talent for?" He challenged, some unexpected anger showing through.
She studied him then a moment and imagined she recognized something long familiar in the shape of his face, the set of his gaze. Hunter. Could it really be? Her eyes narrowed and her thoughts went to the dagger in her desk drawer. "Leave. Now." She told him, barely holding back her fury. She didn't know this man was who she suspected; she had to keep telling herself that. "If you value your life."
His eyes narrowed further, but he wisely got up and left without challenging her further, keeping her always in his field of vision. When he was gone, Dominique screamed in fury and threw a glass sculpture from on her desk against a wall.
That brought Robyn in. "Ms. Destine, are you..." But she froze when Dominique pinned her with a furious stare. Her mouth fell open just a little and she looked scared of her, genuinely scared of her, for the first time Dominique could remember. She took a deliberate breath and tried to calm herself.
"Fine. I'm fine. I am... sorry Robyn. I... I didn't mean to frighten you." She told her, closing her eyes a moment before deliberately relaxing her posture and going over to her assistant who was now a little weary of her.
Dominique reached out and touched her on her shoulder. "I would never harm you, Robyn. I promise you." She spoke softly, stepping closer and looking into her eyes, trying to reassure the woman of her good intentions towards her.
"I... I know that. It's just... what happened? Who was that man? I've... I've never seen you like that before." She said softly, looking into her eyes with confusion and something else behind her expression.
"A... bitter, persistent problem. From my past. One that I thought, perhaps, I had seen the last of." She explained, rather obliquely.
"Oh..." Robyn seemed to regard her thoughtfully then, as if she were a puzzle to be figured out. If she came to any conclusions though, Dominique couldn't tell. "Is there anything I can do to help?" She asked.
Dominique smiled a little at that, stepping back so she wasn't quite so much in Robyn's personal space and she wouldn't be tempted to touch her face or hair, arms or waist. It was normal for gargoyles who were friends to be so close to one another, especially if one were trying to convey emotion, and, somehow, though she wasn't entirely sure herself how, Robyn Correy had become someone she seemed to think of more and more as a friend. Still, she reminded herself, to a human, getting so close could easily be misinterpreted, and she had no romantic designs on the, admittedly charming and attractive, Ms. Correy. She didn't want Robyn to mistake her as having them - That was one area she needed no more trouble in, surely. "As a matter of fact yes. This Daniel Langston? Have him investigated. Vigorously. His family history in particular. This has priority over my request for information regarding Elisa Maza; though I would like that as soon as is practical as well of course."
"Of course. I'll let the investigators know right away... Um, if it's not out of line though, can I ask...?" Robyn started.
"Yes?" Dominique asked, a little curious what had made Robyn curious.
"Elisa Maza - she's a police officer, right?"
"Mm, yes. A detective, as I said." Dominique repeated, an image of Elisa looking into her eyes when they'd first met coming unbidden to her again as similar vivid memories of that night and the morning after had been coming to her all day whenever she gave her mind any real chance to wonder.
"It's just, why are you having a police officer investigated like that?" She asked.
Dominique smiled, actually a little shyly. "Yes, I can see how that might seem odd. As a matter of fact, I happen to have made a date with her for lunch today. And... if we're to become involved... well, I've learned it pays to be prudent about these things. I very much doubt the investigators will find anything, I'd just like to be sure. That's all." She told her.
Robyn looked truly surprised at that. "You're... dating her?" She shook her head.
"You're surprised?" Dominique asked, actually feeling a little playful, and hoping that if she were more open and friendly seeming, it would reassure Robyn that she was safe with her.
"I just didn't think..."
"What, that I dated women?" Dominique asked.
"Right. That." Robyn replied a little helplessly.
"Hm, somehow I'd thought you already knew that about me. The way Fox carries on with me, I'd have thought it obvious that we'd been lovers at some point. Perhaps you're just not as perceptive as I might have given you credit for?" She teased her good-naturedly.
"I... that is... No, I guess not... apparently." Robyn smiled a little ruefully at that.
"Is... is it a problem for you? That I seem to prefer women?" She asked, not seriously thinking it would be. Robyn just didn't seem the type for that... but then, it wouldn't be the first time she'd misjudged a human so badly. Not by a long shot... Even after all this time, she really didn't usually credit herself with a very complete understanding of human beings, on the whole or as individuals. So much of what they did, she so often still just flatly did not understand the reasons for. At least, not completely.
"No! Not at all! I mean... it's surprising, but no, of course not..." She finished more softly, looking a little uncomfortable.
"What about you? I've never asked, but I suppose you'd prefer men then?" Dominique asked, more in idle curiosity than anything. That, and she supposed she felt a little as if she was owed it to know that about Robyn, now that Robyn knew this about her.
"Huh? Oh, yes. I mean, well, mostly. I've been with women a few times before though." Dominique asked.
"But you usually chose men?" Dominique asked.
"I suppose. I guess I really don't think it matters that much though. I mean, falling in love is the important thing." She explained.
Dominique smiled. "I could definitely agree with that." She assessed.
"Then, you go with men sometimes too?" She asked.
Dominique was silent. "Not for a very long time." She confessed softly.
"Why not?" Robyn asked.
"I... suppose... perhaps because I don't want to have children." She told her, regretting having said it immediately.
"Not... but, why wouldn't... I'm sorry, that's probably too personal a question." Robyn quickly corrected, likely having seen how much Dominique had tensed up when the subject was breached.
"You're right, it is." Dominique confirmed, turning away from her. "You may go. Now." She told her.
"All... all right. Dominique?" She asked softly.
"Yes?" She replied a little tightly.
"I'm sorry, okay?" Robyn told her as she shut the door.
"...I'm sorry too." Dominique spoke to the empty room. "Every day."
She went back to her desk to gaze out at the city again and try to center herself once more before Elisa arrived. What was going on between her and Elisa had her emotions more near the surface than she was at all used to anymore. Particularly her issues with... her son... Somehow, maybe the thing that was bothering her most in all of this was that a part of her felt like... like she was betraying him somehow. By falling in love with a human, or by making one her friend for that matter.
...Robyn hadn't deserved to be snapped at like that though... She'd... she'd just have to make it up to her later, that was all.
(an hour or so later)
Elisa arrived at Nightstone Unlimited and was directed to the top floor, Dominique having left word with the desk in the lobby that she was expected. In fact, Robyn Correy, Dominique's assistant, came out of the elevator just as she was about to go up and offered to show her the way.
"Be a little careful, she's... had a rough morning so far." Robyn told her just a little hesitantly, like she wasn't sure if she should have said anything or not, as they arrived at her employer's office.
"Really? ...What happened?" Elisa asked curiously.
"I'm not sure, actually. It's probably not my place to say anymore... or actually, strictly speaking, I probably shouldn't have said anything at all. I just thought you should probably know though... Just, see if you can cheer her up some, maybe?" She asked with a little of a hesitant smile.
"Alright. I'll do my best." Elisa smiled with a mix of playfulness and apprehension. Not apprehension because of what Robyn said, she wasn't worried about that, but more just because she was feeling apprehensive about all of this in general. Or a part of her was. The other, in this case more dominant, part of her very much was waiting with baited breath to see Dominique Destine again.
"And that's all I'm saying." Robyn said, opening the door for her.
Elisa walked in and there was Dominique, leaning against the front of her desk. Their eyes met right away and Dominique pushed off and started walking to her. Elisa moved to meet her half way, their eyes never parting until Elisa found herself wrapped in Dominique's embrace, locked in a heated kiss. Really, it was all she could do to return the kiss and think to bring her own hands up around the other woman's body, but oh how amazing this felt - She easily found herself just getting lost in kissing this woman, it was almost disturbing how easily... The warmth and heat that radiated from their bodies molding together against one another, the way Dominique's hands sent electric currents of pleasure and too long denied want and need for this, for connection, for love... She was powerless against it, yet, conversely, felt so empowered by it too. Almost as though her life was hers to really start living again. Finally.
It was impossible to say how long they enjoyed their reunion together like that, but, when, at last, the kiss broke and Dominique rested her forehead against Elisa's, Elisa had the notion that, at that moment, she was probably going to say yes to whatever it was Dominique wanted. Concerns about moving too fast just didn't seem to matter. "Wow..." She said softly, biting her bottom lip just a little.
"I... hadn't realized just how much I've been wanting to do that again." Dominique spoke. She hadn't planned on kissing Elisa right off, it had just been like she hadn't been able to help it, hadn't even thought... She'd just done it.
"Me either..." Elisa replied softly as Dominique ran her fingers through her hair a little. Elisa shivered just a little at how similar that felt to when Margot used to do that...
"Is everything all right?" Dominique asked gently, having sensed something might be a little amiss.
Elisa smiled a little. "I'm supposed to be the one asking you that."
"Oh? Really?" Dominique asked with a little of a smile.
"That pretty assistant of yours apparently wants me to see if I can cheer you up a little... How'm I doing so far, by the way?" She asked a little playfully.
Dominique took in a breath and sighed. "Splendidly." She replied softly, moving out of Elisa's embrace, biting her own lip a little in an uncharacteristic and unintended mime of Elisa's gesture a moment ago. She went over to her desk and retrieved what she'd gone out and bought a half