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