Previously on Gargoyles. . .
"Broadway, Angela, why don't you show Cassandra the kitchen," Goliath suggested. The two gargoyles agreed and led Cassandra out of the living room. Goliath turned back to Fox. "What will Xanatos say about this?"
"Probably that one more gargoyle around won't make a difference." Fox smirked at that last thought, but grew serious. "And that one more gargoyle is better than my mother trying to kidnap Alexander and take him to Avalon. But what is your clan going to do? Is she going to join or what?"
"That depends on the discretion of the leader, lass," Hudson informed her as he sat back down in him easy chair.
"And on what she wants to do." Brooklyn put an arm around Sata. "She may have a clan of her own she want to get back to."
"You've never had any children?" Brooklyn asked.
"Not since my mate died."
"Brooklyn-san, that was not a polite question to ask."
"It's all right, Sata." Cassandra landed on top of their roosting tower. "It's not a regret or an unhappy memory, just something I wish I had the chance to change."
Almost afraid to look, Brooklyn turned around. Demona was standing, frozen in
place with the goblet to her lips, eyes wide with horror. Macbeth was just
standing up, a look of shock and concern on his face. Demona slowly lowered the
goblet and stared at it with utter dismay.
"J-jerusha . . . I - I . . ." A single tear began to roll down her cheek.
She did it, Brooklyn decided with a sick lurch of his stomach, she must have taken the poison. At that moment, Brooklyn's pouch began to quiver. "No, not now!"
The ball of flame appeared inside the dark forest. It expanded then disappeared, leaving two gargoyles in the small clearing. The brick-red male dressed in a leather loincloth let go of the jade-green female dressed in a silk kimono. "Well, where and when are we?"
Sata threw her black hair over her shoulder. "We are here and now." She kissed Brooklyn's beak as he grimaced.
"While true, I was looking for the bigger picture. Don't hear anything like a town nearby."
"But I hear the ocean."
Brooklyn turned his head. He could hear the waves lapping. "That narrows it down. We're in some woods next to some water."
"You're off the path." Both gargoyles whirled around. The owner of the voice was a petite human girl, completely naked. "I will show you the way. But take care, my sisters are not as forgiving as I."
She walked past the gargoyles and paused at the edge of the clearing to wait for them. "All right, we're coming."
"Brooklyn-san," Sata said with caution in her voice as her mate stepped toward the girl.
"She's not human, Sata. And do you want to stay and find out what her sisters do to us?"
Sata shook her head and fell in step between Brooklyn and the strange girl who preceded to lead them through the forest. The female gargoyle watched her carefully. The girl's hair seemed to shift from brown to green but with shadows and filtered moonlight, it was difficult to tell for certain. But it was clear after a few minutes that the trees and undergrowth were parting in front of her and deliberately coming back on the gargoyles. Brooklyn muttered "jalapeno" under his breath more than once before they reached the path.
The gravel path shimmered in the moonlight. The girl stood among the trees bordering it as the gargoyles stepped past her and onto it. "Take care not to stray from this path again." Her hair disappeared against the dark greens leaves of neighboring branches and her slim body resembled the pale trunks of the nearby trees. "The balance on this island is delicate. One trespass can be tolerated; another is foolhardy."
"We get the message. We'll stay on the path." Brooklyn sighed with aspiration. "just for curiosity, are you one of Oberon's Children?"
"No," she answered and the forest spread in front of her, obliterating her in a second.
"Oberon's Children, like Coyote?" Sata asked as she pulled stray leaves out of Brooklyn's long white hair.
"Yeah," he answered distractedly. "I think I see light that way." He pointed up the path as it turned into the forest and followed the gently rising slope.
"The ocean is louder in that direction." Sata pointed down the path.
"But if someone lives on this island and if they're used to dealing with that wild child, maybe they'll be friendly to a couple of lost gargoyles?"
"Many ifs, my love, but it is possible."
They followed the gravel path up the slope. It emerged into a larger clearing and continued right up to the porch of a building built into the rocky mountain face. The building's roof was supported by four Doric columns and looked like it was made of marble. "Looks Greek to me," Brooklyn whispered.
The forest stopped about fifteen yards from the mountain, leaving the grassy lawn divided only by the gravel path branching off to circle the mountain. The two gargoyles paused at the edge of the forest.
"Look," Sata whispered. Two gargoyles walked around the mountain. The older female bent down and pressed the controls of a small metal dome. After she backed away, the dome lifted from the ground and joined the ring of similarly shaped light floating above their heads.
But the younger female gargoyle with pearly white skin saw Brooklyn and Sata, and started running toward them. "Brooklyn!" she yelled. "Brooklyn, is that you?"
"Jerusha?" Brooklyn managed to ask before the child reached them.
"Didja come for the party? Aunt Cassandra invited everybody. But you're a time traveler, so she couldn't invite ya. But then she knows magic so maybe she could invite ya." She finally paused for a breath and turned to Sata. "Who are you?"
"This is my mate Sata. Sata, this is Jerusha. I met her on an earlier trip."
"Hello, Sata." Jerusha gave a small curtsey. "Very pleased to meet ya. But no one says mates anymore. You're supposed to say spouses."
"We'll try to remember that," Brooklyn said with a smile.
"Come meet Aunt Cassandra." Jerusha grabbed their hands and pulled them into the clearing.
"Aunt Cassandra?" Sata asked.
"She and Uncle Umbriel take care of me now. Her son is Gramma Gwenyvere's cousin and that makes him my uncle and her my aunt. She's gonna teach me magic once she figures out how to do it 'cause she's a Halfling and I'm not. I'm going to be a powerful sorceress. Magic runs in my family. Are you gonna stay for the party?"
"As long as we can," Brooklyn replied as Jerusha dragged them across the lawn.
The silver female gargoyle had moved to the porch of the building. Brooklyn could see a long table covered with dishes had been set up on it. Jerusha dragged them to the marble floor rising from the grass. "Aunt Cassandra, this is Brooklyn and Sata. This is my Aunt Cassandra. But you've probably already know them, huh?"
Cassandra smiled down at Jerusha. Her face looked more human than most gargoyles, Brooklyn decided, with no horns and only a slight brow ridge. "Yes. We are, have been, and will be clan. Would you like something to drink?"
"Yes, please." Brooklyn answered. Cassandra poured a soda into a glass and passed it to Brooklyn. "The year is 2256, Summer Solstice actually."
"Most clans celebrate Winter Solstice," Sata pointed out as she accepted the cup of tea.
"They still do. Most major cities have all-night parties for gargoyles and humans. So we had to pick another holiday to gather around." Cassandra passed another drink to Jerusha and then sat down on the edge of the porch with one of her own.
"So what's the occasion?" Brooklyn asked as he sipped his soft drink.
"Just a chance for clan and friends to get together. An extension of Family Night really."
"Yeah, we don't get to see anybody out here," Jerusha added.
"And here is?" Brooklyn prompted.
"My island off the coast of Greece. I bought it," Cassandra had to pause for the calculation, "three hundred and twenty-one years ago. Quite the investment, huh?"
Sata's expression was puzzled. "Brooklyn comes from the Manhattan clan. If you are clan, why do you not live there?"
"I'm almost three thousand five hundred years old, Sata. You have to let the young run their lives at some point."
"And Aunt Cassandra and Uncle Umbriel like living here." Jerusha hid her grin behind her drink. "They can stay for the party, can't they?"
"As long as the Phoenix Gate will let them. More tea, Sata?"
"Yes, please." Sata passed her cup to Cassandra. "I have not had tea like this since the last time we were in Ishimura with my clan."
"It's your recipe," Cassandra confided. "Thanks to you, Lysander is addicted. If I host a party and do not serve it, he will disown me."
"I'm glad you're staying. A bunch of my rookery brother and sisters are coming. And a lot of clan."
"Like who, Jerusha?" Brooklyn asked with a smile.
A song bursting from the woods interrupted Jerusha's reply.
Well I started out
Down a dirty road
And the sun went down
As I crossed the hill
And the town lit up
The world got still
I'm learning to fly
But I ain't got wings
Is the hardest thing
A male's tenor voice sang along with the recording. Brooklyn recognized it as a radio hit from before the clan woke up in Manhattan that still got airplay before the Phoenix Gate whisked him away on this wild ride.
"Uncle Umbriel loves the classics," Jerusha explained before running to the trials mouth in the woods. "They're here! They're here!"
Cassandra sighed, "That's a classic song. Maybe you should take her with you and gives her a better sense of history."
Brooklyn almost choked on his swallow. "I don't think that's such a good idea," he replied hastily.
Cassandra laughed. "I was joking! The expression on your face!" Brooklyn glanced at Sata who was trying to hide her smile behind her tea cup. "Besides, your hands will be full enough before too long."
Brooklyn opened his mouth to ask her what she meant, but the group exploded from the woods and spilled across the lawn. It looked like it was made up of gargoyles--mostly young ones--but there were humans mixed among them. Jerusha's voice floated above the din.
A young man walked up to them, his long white hair tied back. He looked human except her had pointed ears. And a stereo was bobbing in the air behind him at about head-level.
"Umbriel," Cassandra warned. The stereo floated to the other end of the porch and gently settled on the floor, still continuing to play.
The young man walked up to Cassandra's side. "Can't have a party without music," he said and kissed her on the cheek.
"Two hundred years ago you didn't even like rock 'n roll," she snorted.
"What kind of Halfling would I be if I couldn't adapt?" He turned to Brooklyn and Sata and his smile grew wider. "Brooklyn! Sata! You time danced to our party!"
"Courtesy of the Phoenix Gate. Best way to see the high points of history."
"It's good to see you again." Umbriel clasped their talons and forearms in gargoyle fashion.
"Except this is their first time meeting us," Cassandra grinned.
"Please," Sata looked apologetic for her puzzlement. "What does halfling mean? You use it to describe yourselves."
"Sorry. A Halfling is the child born of a mortal and a member of the Third Race," Cassandra explained. "Magic is our genetic heritage. And we tend to be long-lived."
"And there are so many of us in this group, we forget it's not normal for the rest of the world." The small male gargoyle with silver skin, closely cropped black hair, and webbed wings between his arms and body smiled as he spoke. He joined their group with a human man. Brooklyn blinked; the resemblance to Lexington was uncanny.
"And of course, children of Halfling are considered Halflings too," Cassandra explained. "My son, Lysander."
"Hi Uncle Brooklyn, Aunt Sata." Lysander grinned. "When Mom said she was inviting everybody, she really meant it."
"And he's been sarcastic since the day he hatched," the human man said wryly. He was about sixty, but his hair was just beginning to go gray at his temples.
Lysander frowned up at him. "How would you know? You weren't even born yet."
"Because I shared parenting nightmares after his children were born. Myron, this is Brooklyn and Sata are the time traveling members of our clan. Brooklyn, Sata, this is Myron Kontos. I've been a friend of his family since World War I." She turned to Lysander as the how-do-you-dos were being passed. "Where is Alexander?"
"He told me to tell you that he was really sorry, but some last minute trouble came up that he had to deal with. But he sent the kids." Lysander turned around. "There's Halcyon with Jerusha. I don't see the girls."
"I'll find them." She headed into the crowd that Brooklyn realized was growing larger.
"There's Chun Demona. I need to get that appointment schedule." Myron drifted into the crowd of new arrivals.
"We better get this food out to the party." Umbriel walked to the steps and up them to the porch. He turned back to Brooklyn and Sata. "You're going to find that most people know you--even if you don't know them. Feel free to go inside if it becomes overwhelming."
"Thanks Umbriel. That's sounding good." Brooklyn took a deep breath. "It's not easy meeting people that know more about you than you do."
Lysander laughed. "Just think about that time when you'll know more than everybody else. I'll help with the table, Umbriel."
"Brooklyn." He turned to his mate. "Perhaps you could explain who some of these people are," she murmured.
"Sure, Sata, sure." They stepped up to the porch and tried not to stare at the floating table wrapped in green energy moving closer to the party guest. "Let's go in."
The room was long, and ended with a fresco painted wall of a group of gargoyles in silhouette flying through a moonlit sky. That painting abruptly ended and a group of faces began.
Brooklyn grinned as he pulled Sata closer. "She really does know the clan. That's Goliath and Eliza. Hudson and Bronx. Broadway and Angela. Lex holding Alexander as a baby. Xanatos and Fox. That's a good way of getting Owen and Puck."
Sata followed his quick moving talon, finally seeing the faces to the humans and gargoyles he had told her about. The portrait it pointed to now was of a white-haired fae smirking from behind a mask shaped like a frowning, blond human male wearing glasses.
Brooklyn started pointing again. "Demona and Macbeth. And us."
She looked up. "We look older. And who are these two?" Sata pointed to another pair of gargoyle faces. They both had beaks like Brooklyn's and black hair, but the male was green and the female was red.
"I've never seen them before." Brooklyn continued to look down the mural of portraits. "The only other I recognize are Matt, Lysander, Umbriel, and Jerusha."
"You haven't met them yet." An unfamiliar voice said behind them. The gargoyles turned around to see a whit-haired fae sticking head-first out of the full-length obsidian mirror mounted on the wall. Sata glanced back at the mural. This was the one Brooklyn had called Puck. "If you knew now what you will know then, things would be a lot less confusing. Time travel's funny that way." Puck put both his hands on the wall and pushed the rest of his body out of the small green glow in the center of the mirror. He landed on the floor and took a deep breath. "I'm taking the boat back."
"Good to see a face I recognize." Brooklyn grinned. "Hello Puck."
"Still time dancing." Puck shook his head in mock sorrow. "Well, at least you get to attend one of Cass's little soirees." He turned to Sata and bowed. "Greetings, Sata. I am Puck, the trickster of tricksters. And if my memory serves me right, this is the first time we have met."
"I am honored." Sata bowed in return.
"You should be," Puck smirked.
"You're not stuck as Owen. Did you get your magic back?" Brooklyn asked.
"Yeah, but Big Daddy Oberon still hasn't changed his mind about the eternal exile from Avalon. So now my job is to watch all the ex-Unseelie halflings that are loose." He shrugged. "It's a living. Are you two gonna hide out in here all night?"
"It's a little weird having people know more about you than you do."
"Brooklyn, Brooklyn, Brooklyn," Puck wagged his finger in the beaked gargoyle's face as he floated to be eye-level with him. "Don't you know more when you dance to the past? Get over it." He swooped out the door.
Sata glanced around the room again and turned back to her mate. "They are clan and friends of the clan." Brooklyn's wordless reply was both affirmative and absentminded. "Should we be afraid of our clan?"
"No," he answered slowly. "But to know too much about the future? Especially when you can't alter it."
"We are where we are when we are." Sata shrugged. "All we can do is survive best we can. They seem to understand."
"So I'm worrying too much?" Brooklyn grinned. "Okay, let's go party."
The party had expanded again with the arrival of more fae. Coyote--still resembling Peter Maza in blue jeans and black leather jacket--waved Brooklyn and Sata to him and the young woman he was talking to. "Brooklyn, Sata, come and meet Eliza Maza."
Eliza shook her head with a smile as she tucked a lock of blonde hair behind her ear. "It's Maza-Wyvern. Sounds a lot better than Maza-Manhattan, doesn't it?" She turned to Brooklyn and Sata as she asked.
She looks like Eliza in her "Sallie" disguise only with bright blue eyes and lighter colored skin, Brooklyn thought with that creepy déjà vu feeling. "Are you related to the clan?"
Eliza looked to Coyote in confusion. "They don't know," he said gently. "Eliza here is Goliath and Eliza's great-great-great-great-great-great-great-granddaughter. This is Brooklyn and Sata, the Time Dancers."
"Oh, I didn't know. You knew them, didn't you?"
"Yeah," Brooklyn admitted. "You look like your namesake."
"She's practically a legend now. There's so many stories; sometimes you just wonder what she was really like."
"She was a good person. She was stubborn, but she was also loyal and fair. She helped people and loved her job. She liked having fun. And she was a friend," Brooklyn finished with a wistful look in his eyes.
Sata circled her arm around his shoulders and squeezed him. "And you miss them very much."
"All journeys come to an end," Coyote responded with a smile. "Has the immortal parole officer got here yet?"
"Who?" Sata asked, confused.
"Puck." Coyote grinned, "That's what Matt Bluestone said his new job was. Puck hates it when I call him that."
"And of course he does it all the time." Eliza rolled her eyes.
"It's a sign of mutual respect."
"Sure it is. That's why he calls you Furry." A large man with bright red hair clamped a hand on Coyote's shoulder. "Good to see you again, Brooklyn, Sata." He shook each's hand.
"Prometheus, how have you been?"
"I've been well, Brooklyn. Just keeping an eye on things in this part of the world."
"Light-bringer has the hardest time letting the mortal races live their own lives." Coyote smirked.
"Shall we talk about the Maza family?" Prometheus raised one of his red eyebrows.
Eliza rolled her eyes. "I'm going to see Cassandra. This type of argument can last all night."
"I'll join you," Prometheus replied. "Pay my respects to the hostess."
Lysander took their place as they joined the crowd. Coyote turned to Sata. "I remember you challenging me to a drinking game with sake. Unfortunately, we never got to play. How 'bout tonight?"
"I do not remember making that challenge."
"Afraid?" Coyote's eyes gleamed mischievously.
"I am a Bushido warrior. I am not afraid of anything."
"Good." Coyote grabbed her arm with a grin. "Let's find the Puckster, and then Cassandra's wine cellar."
"Play fair, Coyote," Lysander called after them. "Can't change your cup to water."
"Please, drinking games are the one thing I take seriously."
"They are both gonna get wasted." Lysander laughed. A couple of chairs appeared and he hopped into one.
"So you're Cassandra's son," Brooklyn said lamely as he tested the solidity of the other chair.
"And Lexington was my father. I know you are dying to ask."
"Sorry. I was wondering. I'm glad Lex found some happiness."
Lysander glanced down at his silver toe-talons. "They weren't mates. Mom doesn't like talking about it much. It's been two hundred and fifty-seven years, and she still can't talk about it. But I guess I should thank you."
"Thank me, for what?"
"For telling me about Lexington. I never got a chance to tell you how much I appreciated it. And you were busy enough with your own hatchlings."
"We're clan, aren't we?" Brooklyn lapsed into an awkward pause feeling the statement's inadequacy. "You look a lot like him. Only with more hair."
Lysander chuckled. "I've been told I act like him--always tinkering. It annoys Mom. She thinks things were better three thousand years ago."
"Now that's not true." Cassandra briefly rested her hands on Brooklyn's shoulders before stepping around to stand by Lysander's chair. "I just think a lot of technology is more trouble than it's worth. Like that P.A. of yours."
Lysander clapped his hand defensively around a small black box clipped to the belt of his blue jeans that Brooklyn had mistaken for a pager. But evidently pagers had been replaced by something else in two hundred years. "Leave my P.A. alone. If I didn't have one, I wouldn't keep my nice government job that you're so proud of." He turned to Brooklyn. "P.A.'s are Personal Assistants--little computers to keep track of your life."
"Oh," Brooklyn replied. "What job do you have?"
"Nothing too important. Just a liaison between humans and gargoyles."
"Isn't he modest?" Cassandra smiled. "Actually, he's a member of the President's Cabinet. He's the one all the news people get quotes from when they don't talk to clan leaders themselves. Now all he has to do is find a nice girl and settle down."
Lysander's eyes rolled and his face copied Lexington's annoyed expression perfectly. "Her genetics have been traced in every member of the New Olympus clan, but I'm the kid that's supposed to have grandchildren. And if we're on the subject of settling down, why don't you and Umbriel work on getting me a younger brother or sister?" He hopped out of his chair and joined the crowd.
"We won't." Brooklyn glanced up at Cassandra. She sat down in the chair. "There's too strong a possibility of having a child that is completely fae. And given that Umbriel's father is Oberon and mine's a complete mystery, we decided not to risk it. Lysander knows it, but he thinks we worry too much."
"Is that the reason you took Jerusha in?"
"Jerusha isn't a substitute child. We love her. And she needed us."
Eerie Pyramid, New York 2255
Cassandra stepped out onto the balcony of the roosting tower. The view had changed so much since the first night she had spent here. Way back in 1998, Eerie Tower was the tallest building in the world and all that could be seen from here was the sky and the lights far below. Now buildings as tall as the Tower were normal, and the Tower had expanded into the Pyramid. She shook her head to stop the musing and headed around the tower.
Jerusha was sitting on one of the perches with her knees drawn up to her chest, her arms wrapped around her legs, and her wings wrapped around them both. Cassandra deliberately shuffled her feet. She turned, saw who it was, and turned back to the view. "Well, hello to you too. How are you, Jerusha?"
"I'm fine, Aunt Cassandra. Everyone else is inside."
"I didn't want to see everyone else. I wanted to see you."
Jerusha's back muscles tensed. "I'm tired of everyone watching me. That's why I came out here."
"That's where your great-grandmother Angela used to sleep. Broadway would stand on the one to your left. And Goliath would sleep up there." Cassandra looked up the tower to the more imposing center perch above their heads.
"Do you miss them?" Jerusha asked quietly.
"I miss everyone that has passed to the other side in some way. It's normal to miss them."
Another female gargoyle rounded the tower. "Jerusha, there you are. Lessons are beginning; you need to hurry."
Jerusha untwined herself and headed to the door at a pace that could never be mistaken as hurrying. The gargoyle turned to Cassandra. "We're trying to keep her occupied, to help her forget."
"Maybe she doesn't need to forget."
She didn't hear Cassandra's mutter. "They're asking for you. I think they're ready to start."
"All right." Cassandra followed her back into the castle and to a large meeting room. The Manhattan Clan's leader, second-in-command, and elders sat around a long conference table. Umbriel--the only non-gargoyle present--sat next to an empty chair. He looked up at her with a concerned expression as she sat down. Gwenyvere's not holding up very well, he commented to her telepathically.
She looked across the table at the weeping figure huddled inside her mate's arms with her brothers sitting beside her. She and Demona were close. I don't think she saw this coming.
Honestly, I don't know. I don't think she's started grieving yet.
Marcus, the Manhattan Clan's current leader, stood up at the head of the table. "I called this meeting to discuss Jerusha's situation. She is the clan's first and only orphan. Angela found a solution by giving her to Demona and Benedick. With their deaths, the problem is here again. What will happen to Jerusha?"
"She should come back to the clan, and live with the rest of her rookery," a dark blue male gargoyle from Artus's rookery said with emphasis.
"But who would take care of her?" Senga, Marcus's chosen second-in-command and youngest gargoyle present, asked. "Most couples have children of their own."
"What if we fostered her with another clan?" A jade green female suggested.
"No," Artus said flatly. "Do you want Jerusha to think no one wants her?" The brown gargoyle looked angrily at the rest of the table.
"But keeping her here would just remind her of her loss," she argued.
"And sending her away would make her lose even more," Artus retorted.
Cassandra tuned out the arguments. With her mind's eye, she saw a lonely little child--pearly marble skin, purple wings, and sable hair--sitting on the battlements.
A penny for you thoughts? It's worth about two grand now. Umbriel squeezed her hand as he broke into her thoughts.
She needs someone who understands the loss she has experienced. But someone who isn't suffering from this loss. She needs us.
I agree. But only if she'll have us.
And if they'll agree to it. Cassandra cleared her throat. It had no effect. She stood up. "We'll take her."
Samson cocked an eyeridge. "Are you sure Aunt Cassandra?"
"We're sure," Umbriel replied, "if the clan approves and if Jerusha wants to."
"Bringing her here with us was the best possible compromise. We were different enough for the ones who wanted her to forget Demona. But we are still clan for those who wanted her to stay." Cassandra sighed. "And I think she's happy. Sometimes it's hard to tell."
Brooklyn thought it might be a good time to change the topic. "So why pick on Lysander about finding a mate?"
The smile returned to her face. "I've been bugging him about it for the past hundred years. Mostly because the vast majority of Halflings have paired off--except Merlin. But then Merlin's theme song should be Looking for Love in all the Wrong Places."
"I know that feeling," Brooklyn muttered as he quickly scanned the crowd for a sign of Sata.
Cassandra chuckled. "She's fine. She wouldn't have challenged Coyote if she couldn't handle it."
"I'm not exactly sure who challenged who."
Her reply was preempted by a male gargoyle Jerusha's age breathless entrance on where they were sitting. "Aunt Cassie, we can't find Jerusha!"
"What?" She left her chair and dropped down on one spiky knee to be eye-level with him. He had black skin, a beak like Brooklyn's, and dark red feathers for hair and covering his wings "What happened?"
"Socrates. We were playing on the beach--all of us--and Socrates followed us. He said something to Jerusha and the next thing we know she's gone! Senga said I should tell you."
"Okay, Rogan, go back to the beach and tell Senga that we'll find Jerusha." He nodded and left. Cassandra sighed with aspiration and stood up. "I'm going to ring his neck."
"I see Socrates hasn't changed. Do you need any help looking for her?" Brooklyn offered.
"Yes, thank you. I don't want to break up the entire party. I wish Merlin hadn't taught her that invisibility spell. She uses it whenever she wants to be alone. Luckily, the island isn't that big." She fell silent as she scanned the crowd. An oath exploded from her in a language Brooklyn didn't recognize and the Phoenix Gate neglected to translate. "There he is. Socrates!"
The blue-green gargoyle dressed in a yellow and red checkered vest gulped as Cassandra strode through the crowd to him. "Now, Cassie, I know I sorta crashed your party but it's no reason to ... ow!"
He tried to pry Cassandra's talons off his ear and failed. "What did you say to Jerusha?"
"Jerusha? Ow, all right! Maybe I said something that could have been taken the wrong way. Ow!"
"I should do us all a favor and turn you into a toad. Except the toads of the world would seek revenge for the ruination of their species. Now what did you tell Jerusha?" She gave Socrates' ear another twist.
"Isn't she big enough to fight her own battles?" Socrates tried to pull away but Cassandra's grip remained. "Resorting to violence is never a good idea. Ow!"
"She is missing and has been since she spoke with you. What was said?" Cassandra's eyes were beginning to glow red.
"All right, all right. I think I said something about all her foster parents being immortal with an oops factor. And that I hoped you and Umbriel would last longer than Demona and Benedick." Cassandra let go of his ear and he rubbed it ruefully.
She sighed. "Come on, Brooklyn. Let's try to find her."
Brooklyn glanced around at the party crowd that had complete ignored Cassandra and Socrates' exchange. "That happens so often no one notices?"
"Magic is a handy talent when properly channeled. I'll go to the beach. Would you follow the path around the hill?"
"Sure. Would she have gone into the woods?" He glanced at the dark forest ringing the lawn.
Cassandra's silver face frowned. "If she did, she would be escorted out. The dryads guard their space."
"So that's what she was."
"The Phoenix Gate missed the path, hum?"
"Sometimes its aim and timing leave a lot to be desired." Brooklyn lost his grimace as they parted and he head around the rocky hill. The woods continued to ring the hill only broken by the pale gravel path that gleamed in the moonlight.
The path led down to the end of the sandy beach and the beginning of a rocky shore. The jagged and broken stone formed a long extension into the surf of the rocky hill. And a marble statue of a gargoyle was perched on top of the rock, above the spray of the waves. A statue with sable hair blowing in the night breeze and purple tinted wings wrapped around her.
Brooklyn sighed. "Jerusha? Jerusha, is there enough room for me?"
She turned and Brooklyn winced at her tear-stained face and accusing eyes. "Why do you care now? You didn't care last year. You didn't stop her."
Brooklyn sighed. "Jerusha, you don't understand. . . ."
She leaped to her feet and jumped down the ground. Her eyes blazed red. "Why does everyone say that?" Her talons curved into fists that pounded Brooklyn's chest. "I don't understand why she killed herself and no one will tell me why!" Tears began to erase the red from her eyes. "Tell me! Tell me!"
Jerusha's anger dissolved into sobs, and she collapsed against Brooklyn, wrapping her arms around his waist. Brooklyn sighed and awkwardly held her. "How can I explain it to you? Demona had a very long life, and she was sad and tired. She had to watch your Uncle Benedick grow old and die. And Angela. And everyone else she has ever known while she stayed the same. She found out that she couldn't watch you grow old and die too. She just couldn't take it anymore." Her heart-shaped face was peering up at him. He gently wiped a tear away with a talon. "Nobody could have stopped her."
Another tear slid down to replace the one he had wiped away. "Unca Benedick told me to take care of her 'cause she wouldn't take care of herself. I never got a chance to tell her."
"I'm sorry, Jerusha. If I could change things I would."
"But you're a time traveler!" Hope brightened her eyes. "You could go back and stop her!"
Brooklyn shook his head. "I can't. Even if I knew how to control the Phoenix Gate, you can't change history. I know, I tried. What has happened will happen no matter what you do."
"I miss her so much." She took a deep breath and her small body shook.
"That's the best thing you can do. Always remember her and how much you loved her." Brooklyn sighed. "No matter what you learn about her."
"How could I forget?" She asked plaintively.
"I know all the grown-ups have told you this, but it does get easier to remember the good times."
"You're right. All the grown-ups have said that." Brooklyn smiled slightly as she pulled away and sat down on a rock. "Do you think what Socrates said is true? That Aunt Cassandra and Unca Umbriel will leave me too?" She wiped off her cheeks.
Brooklyn sat down beside her. "I saw Cassandra almost pull his ear off and she threatened to turn him into a toad. I think you can take that as a clear sign that they want to keep you."
"We certainly do." Cassandra walked around the bend of the beach. "Don't you know not to listen to Socrates by now?" She reached them and enveloped Jerusha in a hug, pulling the girl to her feet and wrapping her wings around her. "Are you all right?"
"I'm better now. I talked to Brooklyn. He helped me," was Jerusha's muffled reply.
Cassandra released Jerusha. "Then I suppose we owe him our thanks."
"Not necessary," Brooklyn waved the remark away. "I wish I could have done something earlier."
"Moerae is a harsh mistress," Cassandra said.
"Moerae?" Brooklyn's beak wrinkled with confusion.
"Fate that cannot be controlled, swayed, or stopped," she explained.
"Huh. This isn't fate. The Weird Sisters just dumped the Phoenix Gate on me."
"More things are fated than you think." Cassandra turned to Jerusha. "Don't you want to spend some more time with your brothers and sisters? They'll be leaving in a few more hours."
"You want to talk to Brooklyn about me." Jerusha stood up and crossed her arms over her chest.
"Yes. Was anything said that was supposed to be a secret?"
Jerusha shook her head. "No, not really. I don't mind. See you back at the party."
Cassandra waited until Jerusha was out-of-sight up the trial and collapsed on a rock next to Brooklyn. "Thank you. I've been trying to get her to open up for the last ten months."
"She's been holding it in that long?"
"Longer. I can't blame Gwenyvere. She was too grief-stricken to handle Jerusha. She has a lot to still work through. Maybe now she'll be willing to talk about it."
"I hope so," Brooklyn sighed. "That's the hardest part about this time traveling--not knowing what happened to people you help."
Cassandra placed her hand on his arm. "How many people did we help in New York that we never learned what happened to? Sometimes, the not knowing is just a part of life."
"That's pretty wise. Sounds like it belongs in a fortune cookie, but still pretty wise."
"I've had a long time to develop it. Let's go back to the party."
The hatchlings were climbing up the side of the hill and gliding down. Jerusha leaped off, looped head over hills, and waved as she flew over Brooklyn and Cassandra's heads. "She glides just like Angela," Brooklyn remarked as she landed.
"Not exactly the most original comment made about her," Cassandra smiled as she gave Jerusha a thumbs up. "There's Sata and the tricksters."
Brooklyn turned to the area of the yard she pointed to. Sata was sitting in a chair, sipping a drink. Puck was curled in a fetal position, laying on his side, floating about two feet off the ground with a large grin spread across his sleeping face. Coyote had shifted to his coyote head on his human body. He was propped against Sata's chair and was snoring. "Looks like you won, babe." Brooklyn stepped around the fae to kiss his mate.
Sata set her tea aside as Brooklyn helped her up. "I do not think they should have drank so much."
"Only two sleeping over this time?" Umbriel walked up to Cassandra's side. "Hardly compares to last year's bash."
"Children are present this year, love. Most of our guests don't intentionally set a bad example. Except for those two," she commented with a smile, taking another look at Coyote and Puck.
"I just hope neither of them had to be some place tomorrow."
"Oh great," Brooklyn muttered as he felt his pouch begin to quiver. "Time to go, Sata," he offered his hand.
She took hold of it and gingerly stepped around Puck's form. "At least we had a few quiet hours."
"Yeah, if it's a life-threatening situation we're stuck for days there, but if it's something that comes close to R&R we just get hours at the most."
"It's your fate, Brooklyn." Cassandra yelled as she and Umbriel stepped back. "Embrace it!" came through the flames.
"That is good advice, My love." Sata pulled herself closer as the flames engulfed them. "Besides, we will meet them again."
"We will be clan. I can't wait."