by Christine Morgan

by Christine Morgan (
comments welcome
Author's Note: the characters depicted herein are mostly the property of the
folks at Disney, and are used here without their authorization (although,
hopefully, if they ever happen to read these little tales of mine, perhaps with
some measure of approval and liking). This story takes place after "Family
"I'll get it!" Lex cried, bounding off the couch. "It's for me!" Broadway yelled, grabbing Lex by the tail and snapping him sharply into the back cushions, at the same time upending a bowl of popcorn. Angela, who had been folded gracefully on the floor, sprang up and snagged the phone midway through its second ring. "I've got it," she said. "Hatchlings." Goliath chuckled. "Is this what it means to have teenagers?" he asked Hudson. "Aye, would that they'd never seen the television and learned o' the prospect." "Hello?" Angela asked brightly. "Oh, hi!" "It's Aiden!" Lex said, squirming loose of Broadway's grip to caper around Angela's legs. "She said she'd call as soon as she got home." "It's Matt," Broadway argued. "He said he had a case I might get to help on." "Shut up, the both o' ye!" Hudson ordered. "If it's for ye, she'll be telling ye!" He turned to Angela hopefully. "'Tis Maria, aye?" Brooklyn collapsed in a fit of laughter. "Man, you guys are too much!" was his opinion. Goliath shook his head, smiling, and returned his attention to his book. Angela waved them all away. "No, nothing's wrong," she said into the phone. "Everybody's just jumping around like a bunch of puppies. You'd think they never had a telephone before." She listened. "Well, no, we didn't have them on Avalon, but at least somebody around here can act mature." Hudson flushed and dropped into his chair, fishing for the remote and mumbling something about smart-mouthed youngsters. "So, how was Vegas?" Angela chirped. Goliath shot to his feet, his book landing on Bronx's head. Brooklyn had just taken a sip of soda and had to struggle valiantly to keep from spitting it all over himself. He swallowed, choked, coughed, eyes watering, and even in his pain still laughing. "Really?" Angela asked, turning slightly as if she hadn't seen Goliath get up. She tented the phone cord over her fingers and walked away, twitching her tail playfully. "Wow, she won five hundred dollars? That's great! Did you see -- huh? Oh, yeah, he's here. Did you see anybody famous? Sigfried and Roy, really? No, he's right here," she said, glancing back over her shoulder, "pretending like he's not really paying attention --" "Give me that!" Goliath said, snatching the phone from her hands and giving her a good swat on the rear with his tail. Giggling, Angela fled beyond range of a second strike. She tripped over Brooklyn's foot and fell into his lap. He, having only just recovered, had the breath driven out of him again but that didn't stop him from tickling her. She squealed. The chair tilted under their combined weight and spilled them both onto the already indignant Bronx. "Ye're blocking the television," Hudson scolded. "Yeah, who's the hatchling now?" Lex asked. "Come on," Angela said. "Let's go outside. I'm tired of sitting around anyway." Brooklyn looked to Goliath for some words of caution or advice. Their few patrols recently had been conducted with extreme care. Only a couple of months ago, they had been caught on camera for all the world to see, and even short-memoried New York hadn't forgotten them yet. But Goliath, having switched to the cordless and retreated to a far corner of the room, didn't even glance their way. "I don't know," he said. "What, second-in-command, can't make a decision on your own?" she teased. "Well, o.k., then let's go." "Hey, you're stepping on my popcorn," Broadway protested. "Don't worry about it," Lex said. "What they don't trample, Bronx is just going to vacuum up anyway. Anybody mind if I turn on the computer?" "Not so long as ye don't play one of those games with the annoying noises," Hudson said. "My program's about to start." "See? Nobody'll miss us," Angela said. She darted up the stairs and onto the roof. Brooklyn took a deep breath. "Ah. Fresh air. As fresh as it gets in New York, anyway." "At least the rain stopped." She pointed to a thin sliver of crescent moon visible between the sky-sailing galleons of huge dark clouds. "Look, see how the rest of the moon is almost there?" "Yeah. It's called earthshine, or something. I guess if we were standing on the moon, we'd be seeing a nearly full earth." "Imagine that! Standing on the moon! I still have a hard time believing that the humans really did. Do you think we could fly there?" "Nah. It's too far, and there's no air. No spacesuits designed for gargoyles, either." "Oh, well. At least we can enjoy it from here. But wouldn't it have been something, for Avalon to send us to the moon?" "Then it would have been even longer until we got to meet you." He hopped up onto the parapet. "And I for one think we had to wait way too long." "You're sweet." She flicked him affectionately with her tail. "Come on." She dove off the wall, her wings spreading, filling, and sweeping her upward. Brooklyn did the same, reveling in the cool air against his skin. For a while, they looped and soared, playing old hatchling games of tag and hide-and-seek, youthful versions of the warrior skills they now had mastered. Their laughter pealed over the rooftops. He was faster, the more skilled flyer, but she was trickier and used the concealing shadows and play of light to her advantage. He lost her in a low fogbank and huffed in frustration. Instinct made him turn just as she rose up behind him and he grabbed her, surprising her instead of being her victim. She whipped side to side, her dark hair a banner, and nearly squirmed free. He tightened his grip, laughing. "You don't play fair!" she protested. "I play to win!" he replied. "So do I!" She planted a kiss on his mouth, startling him into a plummet. He recovered quickly, but by then she was high above him, her merry trill a ribbon of music in the air. He sought an updraft and soared straight at her. She taunted him by waiting, hands on her hips, a challenging grin on her face. At the last possible moment, she dove to the side, but he'd been anticipating just such a move and lashed out with his tail. It coiled around her ankle and he instantly threw his weight the other direction. She yelped prettily as the force pulled her around. Brooklyn loosed his tail with a hard yank that sent Angela into a spin. Before she could pull out of it, he had her in his arms again. She wiggled against him, bringing her lips to his. This time, the kiss was long and firm. Their wings carried them along the currents of air, heedless of where they were going. She murmured something and slid her hands along his back, inward, toward the place where wing met shoulderblade. That electrifying caress emboldened him to do likewise, and he was rewarded as she melted in his embrace. He snuck an eye open to check her expression and saw that they were about to slam into the side of a building. "Whoa!" he cried. Warrior reflexes saved them from a nasty collision. Their shadows chased them along the rooftop as they skimmed over the building. Brooklyn had a momentary impression of two white oval faces turned up to watch them from a balcony, the eyes and mouths large O's of surprise. Hand in hand, they put distance between themselves and the witnesses. They glided along the river, its surface shrouded in mist, until Angela drew up, hovering, and extended a talon. "What's that?" she whispered, awe in her voice. Brooklyn looked, and his heart sank. "It's called the Cloisters," he said dully. "How beautiful! Let's have a closer look!" "Angela, let's not." "Why? It looks deserted." "It is." She shrugged. "Then there's nothing to worry about." Before he could argue, she was moving smoothly toward the high walls. Brooklyn sighed from the tip of his tail. Much as he didn't want to, he followed. Angela landed in the courtyard, her face a study in delight as she looked from moss-encrusted walls to stained glass windows to still and silent fountains. She turned in a slow circle, taking it all in. He thumped down beside her, his heavy heart robbing his landing of grace. His skin wanted to creep over his flesh. On the faint breath of the breeze, he imagined cruel mocking laughter. "I've never seen such a place," Angela said. "It reminds me of Avalon. Why didn't anyone show it to me before? Why did we live in the clocktower instead of here?" "It's got some bad memories," Brooklyn forced out, feeling like his beak and throat were stuffed with damp wool. "I can't believe anything bad could happen in a place like this. It's so peaceful." She stepped closer to him. "Romantic, even." "Angela ..." He backed off. "What's the matter?" "I ... um ... don't think that's a good idea." "Why not?" She came even closer, her expression a mingled smile and pout. "I thought you liked me." "I do," he said earnestly. "I really do, Angela." "When I first came to Manhattan, I was flattered to have all three of you trying to catch my eye. Oh, not that you weren't pests, but it was kind of flattering. I realized right away, though, that there was something different about you." "Yeah." He hung his head. She continued blithely. "The others, well, they were just acting like kids, like they didn't know what they were doing. That's why Aiden is perfect for Lex, because she's just a kid too, a shy kid. You're not like that." "Yeah," he said again, the word not much more than a rough exhalation. "But you, you're different. You seemed older, even though I knew you weren't. Less innocent, somehow. More grown up. I liked that. I like you. A lot." "Angela ..." "And I know you think I'm pretty. Haven't we had a good time together? Flying together?" She blushed dark violet. "Like just a few minutes ago?" "Yeah," he said for the third time. "So what's changed?" she asked, shrugging in honest confusion. He held out his hand. When she put hers into it, he led her to a bench carved of stone with lion's heads on either end. She sat beside him on a cushion of moss. He looked down glumly at their clasped hands. "I do really like you. And I enjoy being with you. But, Angela, there's something I've got to tell you if it's going to keep on. Us, I mean. If there's ever going to be anything for us. Because once I've told you, you might not want to be with me anymore." His somber tone cut through her light mood. Her grip tightened on his hand. "What are you talking about? What could be so bad?" "Something that happened here, a couple of years ago." He released her and stood, making tight involuntary fists. "Between me and Demona." "Demona?" she echoed softly. "She ... I ... nnnrrrgh!" he snarled in frustration, jerking his head. A thick sheaf of white hair fell across his face. When he angrily shoved it back, he saw Angela looking at him with wide horrified eyes. "You don't ... you can't mean that ... you and my mother ... made love?" she stammered. "Love had nothing to do with it," he said bitterly. She slowly rose from the bench, moving like a sleepwalker. "Does my father know?" "No. Nobody ever knew. I never told anyone. Until now." "Brooklyn, how could you?!?" she cried. "You don't understand!" "I understand plenty! Either she was your leader's mate, which means you betrayed the clan, or she was your enemy, which means you betrayed the clan!" "It wasn't like that! She seduced me!" "Oh, I'm sure that's what they all say!" Angela snapped. His own anger boiled over. He grabbed her by the upper arms and shook her. "Listen to me! I didn't want to tell you this, I didn't have to tell you this, but since I did, you're going to listen!" "Let go of me!" She tore free and they stood blazing eye to blazing eye. He uttered a wretched cry and spun away from her, slamming a fist to his brow. He crumpled to the grass, shoulders tense and shaking. "I just wanted to be honest with you," he said miserably. "I wanted you to hear it from me, not Demona. I knew you'd hate me more if you found out from her." She was sobbing. "She did trick me," he said, finding that it was easier to speak if he kept his gaze fixed firmly on the ground. "She only wanted me to help her put a spell on Goliath. It all started with this motorcycle Lex fixed up ..." * * What sort of enemy would have saved his life? What sort of enemy would be so beautiful in the moonlight? He tried to banish that thought, but it insisted on lingering. When he'd first seen her, stepping from the shadows, her wings caped, her pale blue skin shining, even in his alarm he'd been helpless not to notice her beauty. When she'd told him of her centuries of suffering at the hands of humans, it was with an expression he'd never thought to see. Grief, sorrow, anguish. And he'd felt something he'd never expected to feel for her. Pity, sympathy. A thousand years ago, she had been Goliath's nameless mate, as all of them had been nameless except for Goliath. She had been his angel of the night, his second in command, a warrior beyond compare. No one, especially not one of a younger generation, would have ever had reason to pity her. More recently, she had been in league with Xanatos, trying to kill them. There was no room for pity when someone had just tried to shoot you with a bazooka and sicced rabid robots on you. But, as she had turned her face away as if to try and hide her pain, he realized that she was not just a warrior, not just an enemy. She was a person, with the whole range and spectrum of feelings, just like him, just like anybody else. And when she'd stood erect with widespread wings on the iron railing, offering him her hand, how could he have not taken it? She had promised to show him the evil in humanity, and she had done so. But at the same time, she showed him again and again the beauty in herself. Her every touch burned through his veins, although he was sure she meant nothing by it other than to emphasize her points. When her hand had closed on his shoulder, or stroked his beak, he found himself not caring what happened to the humans. When he glided after her beneath the yellow globe of the moon, he saw again and again the lithe sleekness of her form. He had never felt so young and awkward as he did in the face of her centuries of experience. How could he argue with her? How could any of them, really? She knew the humans. They did not. Of the ones they'd met, only Elisa hadn't tried to kill or catch them. Demona was right. Goliath was misguided, and because he was the leader the rest of the clan would thoughtlessly follow him into violent extinction. "This place is called the Cloisters," she said now. "It is the perfect place. Secluded. Bring me the Grimorum here, tomorrow night." "Demona, I don't know," he said. "What is left to know? Oh, my young friend, I have shown you these humans and you have seen that they will never accept us. You are not like Goliath, stubborn and set in your ways." She let her hand fall upon his shoulder again, and this time left it there. "You're not like the rest of the clan." He shifted from foot to foot, not sure what to make of that. "Yes, I am." "No," she said, leaning close. Her warm breath tickled his ear, stirred his hair. "Brooklyn. Look at me." Feeling like his head weighed a ton, he swiveled it up. The moon was behind her, a glowing halo around her auburn hair. Her lips were parted slightly in a welcoming smile, her eyes deep as the sea. "I have been alone for a very long time," she said, her voice a rich purr. "But ... Goliath," he managed to say. Once again, pain filled her features. "He doesn't want me. He will never see things as I do, as we do." A brief snarl curled her lip. "He didn't try to save _me_ when the castle fell." He wanted to kick himself for making her look like that. "I'm sorry," he said, daring to put his hand over her own. She immediately brightened. "Don't apologize for Goliath. We'll open his eyes. But even then, he and I ... well, things have changed." He felt a velvety brushing. The small three-fingered talon at the top of her wing gripped the similar one on his like a clasping hand. Brooklyn gulped. Tingles raced down his wing, through his whole body. He could barely breathe, could not tear his eyes away as she bent her head toward him and nuzzled her brow against his. "Demona, what are you doing?" he whispered. "Shh. Don't worry, my sweet Brooklyn. Everything will be fine." He bit the inside of his cheek, trying to control himself, telling himself she was just being companionable. Surely she wasn't trying to ... no, not that. He wasn't one of her rookery brothers. He was of a younger generation, supposed to wait until his own female hatchmates were of age. The idea of being initiated into the mysteries of mating by an older female ... that was just adolescent warrior-talk. It never really happened. She bit gently on his ear. Her tail twined around his. "Together, we can make this clan great again," she said. "You are young and strong, a fine warrior." He gulped again and half-folded one wing in front of himself to try and conceal his embarrassing reaction to her nearness. Her chuckle was the audible equivalent of dark chocolate. Her talons skimmed over his chest and slipped beneath his wing, lower, until ... "Ohh, you are grown up," she breathed. All he could do was moan low in his throat. Playing at mates with his rookery sisters had never been like this. Her knowledgeable hand gripped and moved and squeezed. He sucked in breath in a series of quick gasps, raising his beak to the sky. His wings and the tip of his tail quivered. "Here," she urged, moving his wrist. "Touch me here." The contrast between the coarse fabric of her halter and the smooth skin of her breast was maddening. He hesitantly kneaded the firm flesh. "Go on, be rough with me," she said. "Do everything you've ever dreamed of doing. Let me be all that you want me to be." He hurled himself against her with a desperate groan. She crooned encouragement in his ear as he groped and fondled. He was being clumsy, ignorant, she had to know that but she didn't seem to mind, didn't tell him to stop. She pulled his loincloth from him and worked him with both hands, stopping a heartbeat before he would have lost all control and spent between her palms. His body was afire, his mind a whirling chaos. When she released him and stepped back, he nearly bent double in his need. "Do you want me?" she asked. He stared incredulously at her, unable to speak. "I know you do. Here, this way will be easiest." She slipped out of her garments, now bare and barbaric in moonlight and gold jewelry. She turned her back to him and crouched, her long legs flexing, her tail held to the side, presenting herself to him, looking invitingly over her shoulder. He moved forward on unsteady legs and reached for her. "Wait," she commanded. He almost wailed in mindless agony. "You will help me, won't you? The Grimorum?" "Yes! Anything!" "Yes." She beckoned and arched her back, pushing her taut flanks at him. He embraced her from behind, crouching to match her posture. His hands dug into her hips. She reached around and positioned him. "Now, my young one," she growled. "Now!" He thrust forward, too fast, too rough, not caring. She bucked strongly to meet him, her sharp fangs gnashing at the air. He drove against her furiously, knowing that he wouldn't last a minute but helpless to stop or slow. A frantic coupling, an explosive surge, his wings beating the sky, eyes ablaze, shrieking to the watchful moon, while she writhed against him and hissed like a cat. His legs wouldn't support him. Together, they sank to their knees. He slowly settled onto his side, rubbing at his ears because they were filled with a high ringing. Demona curled sinuously around him and toyed with his hair. Her expression was unreadable except for a hint of smugness. He gazed wordlessly at her. In that moment, he would have done murder for her. He felt sudden shame at his lacks of staying power and skill, and opened his mouth to say as much. She silenced him by laying a finger across his lips. As if she'd read his mind, she said, "The first time is always quick. Next time, you'll see, it will be even better." Next time? His mind reeled. His body responded with an eager lurch. "Just give me a minute to catch my breath," he said. "Such a fine young male," she commented. "Would that we had the leisure, but it will soon be dawn. You must get back before the others suspect." "Yeah, I suppose you're right," he mused regretfully. "Tomorrow. Bring me the Grimorum first, so I can make sure the spell is still there." He found the crumpled mass that was his loincloth and hurriedly donned it, feeling abashed and peculiar now that the heat of the moment had passed. She lay back on the cobblestones, her hands moving idly over her own curves, a sly smile playing about her lips. "Oh, Brooklyn?" "What?" "I wouldn't mention this to the others just yet. Especially Goliath. You never know when he might decide to be jealous." Tell Goliath? The very idea made his wings want to shrivel against his back. "Don't worry," he said earnestly. "I won't." "Good. Until tomorrow, my young one. Until tomorrow." * * Angela was quiet for a long time, standing as straight and emotionless as Owen Burnett while Brooklyn glossed over the exact details of what had happened and told her the rest of the fateful events. How he had stolen the Grimorum, lured Goliath to the Cloisters, and finally realized that Demona's true intent was to enslave. "She'd been using me," he said, crouched in the grass, elbows resting on his knees and hands dangling by his feet. "It didn't mean anything to her. _I_ didn't mean anything to her. The way she laughed, the way she looked at me, like I was lower than dirt ... it was horrible. I hated her so much! I would have killed her, if I'd had the chance." He wanted to look at Angela but didn't dare. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see her feet and the lower edges of her wings. "So, that's how it was," he finished lamely. She remained silent, so long that he finally forced himself to look up. Tears glimmered in her eyes and streaked her face. Her lower lip was captive between her teeth, her jaw trembling faintly. "If you don't want me now, I understand," he said. "But I had to tell you. If I hadn't, she would have, I know it. Everything is a weapon to her. A weapon or a tool." "Brooklyn, I am so sorry for you," she sobbed brokenly. "And I'm sorry I yelled at you. Of course it wasn't your fault. I've seen how she is, what she will do. She doesn't care about anybody." "She cares about you." She shook her head viciously. "She wants me, to make me be like her. She wants to use me, too, to hurt Goliath. Oh, why did she have to be my mother?" "She wasn't always like this," Brooklyn said, inwardly amazed to hear himself actually defending that auburn-haired devil after he'd just pulled that story out of himself like an arrow from an infected wound. "She's like this now, and I'm her daughter. You said you'd understand if I didn't want you, but what I don't understand is how you can want me, how you could ever look on me without hating me because of who I am!" "You're Goliath's daughter," he said firmly. "You're part of our clan. That's all that matters." She came to him, laid her hand on his hair. "You're Goliath's second-in-command. You're part of our clan. That's all that matters." He rose, unbelieving. "You mean ...?" "I still like you, Brooklyn. I still want to be with you." "Angela --" He choked up, couldn't finish. She tenderly put her arms around him, then her wings. She rested her head on his shoulder. He hesitated, but only for a moment, and returned her embrace. They stood in silence, except for the mingled beating of their hearts and the distant cries of night birds. They stood in silence, unaware that fierce ruby eyes watched them from above. The End
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Confession / Page Copyright 1996 - Tim Morgan /