Disclaimer: Gargoyles and all related elements, characters and indicia © Buena Vista Television © 1994-2004. All Rights Reserved. All characters and situations—save those created by the authors for use solely on this website—are copyright Buena Vista Television ©1994-2004.
Please do not archive or distribute without author's permission.
Author's Note: This story takes place before "Revelations" (mainly because the body of it was written before the show aired, and I didn't feel like making changes :). It's a quiet little story about the past's hold on someone who should be living in the present, and just a little about obsessions. If you're looking for action . . . um . . . Well, there's always "Ugrade." The first draft was conpleted on Nov. 9th, 1995. Special thanks to all my beta readers, especially Missy and Phillip.
Blood From A Stone
"Kate, have you seen the Tribune?" Ian Fraser stuck his head inside the door after a perfunctory knock. The weak morning sunlight changed his silver hair to gold, the white locks at odds with his youthful appearance. Indeed, for the ten years she'd known him it had always been thus, and he had never seemed the slightest bit self-conscious. He said he'd been born in Somerset, but his accent was pure Scots.
"Not yet, why?" Kate looked up from the text she was translating and noticed absently that her tea had gone cold. She'd made it about 4am, when she'd started in on the third chapter. Summer was a subjective term in England. She still wore a heavy wool cardigan over a t-shirt emblazoned with Pictish knotwork, blue jeans, and thick grey socks. Her shoes were pitched unceremoniously into the corner of the room and her long dark hair was held back with an elastic.
"I think there's something you ought to see." The lanky young man dropped the paper in her lap, and drew her eye to the headline.
XANATOS TO MOVE ANCIENT CASTLE STONE BY STONE BACK TO NEW YORK.
"Newly acquired? What the bloody hell—" Cold tea and translations forgotten, she spread the bedraggled copy of the Herald Tribune out over her desk, looking for the page.
"I thought you'd be interested."
"That bastard, I'm like to kill him . . ." her green eyes narrowed as she continued the article. She reached for the telephone and punched in an Edinburgh number.
"Hello?" a voice at the other end sleepily answered.
"Michael MacAlpin, you right bastard!"
"Jesus, Kate, do you know what time it is?"
"Bugger what time it is. What the devil's this about you selling the castle?"
"Now, Kate . . . ."
"Don't you 'now Kate' me, you greedy sod."
"The offer was over a five hundred thousand pounds! What the hell was I supposed to do? Ignore it?"
"That castle was in our family for over a thousand years!"
"Ah, Jesus, not again, Kate."
"Have you no respect at all for your heritage, Michael MacAlpin?"
"You're just like mother."
"And it made you a rich man, didn't it."
"It paid off the family's debts, you know that's what father would have wanted."
"I've been trying to raise money to restore it for six years— "
"The bloody place was haunted! You couldn't get a crew up there for love nor money."
"Ah, but the almighty American dollar managed just fine, didn't it," she spat into the receiver.
"Save your righteous indignation, it's over and done. Let it go, Kate."
She slammed the phone down, and resisted the desire to fling it across the room.
David Xanatos was in his office going over the latest results from the Gen-U-tech labs when Owen entered.
"Mr. Xanatos, Ms. MacAlpin on line four for you," the major domo watched for his employer's reaction, as MacAlpin had been trying to contact him for over a year, ever since her elder brother had sold the castle. Trying with little success.
"I was wondering when we'd hear from her again." Xanatos stroked his beard thoughtfully.
"Shall I take the call, sir?"
"I might as well. I admit from what you've told me I'm a bit curious to finally make her acquaintance."
"She's very persistent, sir," Owen agreed, and Xanatos picked up the handset.
"Ms. MacAlpin, this is a rare pleasure."
"Certainly for me, Mr. Xanatos, as this is the first time you've deigned to speak with me. I'm sure your man Burnett is as competent as he sounds, but I don't much like being put off for over a year. If you don't mind my saying so."
"Something tells me I couldn't stop you from speaking your mind. How's your brother?"
"My brother and I aren't particularly close. I'll cut right to the chase, sir. I'd heard that the renovations on the castle were completed, and I was wondering if I might be allowed to photograph it."
"That's an unusual request."
"I'm preparing a manuscript, a history of the castle. I've dozens of shots from the past ten years, and I thought this would make a unique final chapter. There's not to my knowledge been a restoration project quite as ambitious as this in some time."
"How soon can you come out?"
"I've a ticket for this Friday."
"That's counting chickens just a bit, Ms. MacAlpin, don't you think?"
"I had hoped to blackmail you with the threat of appearing on your doorstep even if you said no."
"I look forward to meeting you. Owen can arrange your accommodations. Will you be travelling alone?"
"My assistant will be coming with me, if that's no trouble."
"Not at all." He put her on hold, and Owen raised a brow.
"It would seem so."
Ian gripped the arms of the coach seat until his knuckles were white.
"You worry too much, Ian."
"If men were meant to fly, they'd have wings," was his reply through gritted teeth.
Kate patted his arm affectionately as the 747 climbed into the air. They'd met in the highlands, specifically the west coast, north of Argyle, where she had been born. She'd been all of eight years old when her mother had taken her up to Castle Wyvern on an excursion. Ian had been camped inside the keep. He and her mum had gotten along like long lost kin, trading stories, and Kate had been fascinated by the boy who wasn't afraid to sleep in the haunted ruins.
He'd taken her up to the walls then, to show her the gargoyles grown over with moss and ivy, and told her amazing stories that she now recognised as coming from the castle histories. He'd ridden back to Edinburgh with them on the train, and it seemed he'd become quite the fixture in her life. She could hardly imagine existing without him always there. Her mum had never asked after his family, he swore up and down they didn't mind his wandering. After her mother died, and she went down to Cambridge to school, he went with her.
It wasn't that they were lovers. The mere idea of it brought a smile to her lips. Friends certainly, even teacher and student in an odd kind of way, the two of them trading roles as it pleased them. But that was another line they pretended not to see, and yet never once thought of crossing.
"Were you surprised he said yes?"
"He'd better have, three hundred quid doesn't grow on trees!"
"You should have asked him for a first class round trip ticket, he's the bloody millionaire." He smiled wanly, and purposefully pulled down the window shade, looking paler than usual at the brief snatch of English countryside so very far below them. She pried his fingers away from the arm playfully, and he peered at her through one open eye.
"You're actually looking forward to this, aren't you."
"I've never been to New York, and I've been wanting to meet this Mr. David Xanatos ever since he stole—"
"—whatever the castle from the highlands. What kind of man picks up and moves a thousand year old castle, and puts it atop a skyscraper anyway?"
"'Until the castle rises above the clouds," Ian muttered smiling, and she scowled at him.
"Don't you start that rubbish again."
"It's just a story, Kate."
"Aye, and I curse the day my mother told it to you."
"She didn't have to, I already knew it."
"Aye, I know. Ooooh look! The film's 'The Mighty Ducks 2.' Isn't that exciting?"
"I'm going to kill you."
As they tumbled out of the baggage claim at JFK looking rumpled and bleary-eyed, (well, Kate did anyway, Ian appeared annoyingly pressed and polished) they were met by a tall, fair-haired bespectacled gentleman in a chauffeur's uniform holding a carefully lettered sign that said "MacAlpin".
"Mr. Burnett?" Kate ventured, and the man nodded. "Somehow, I pictured you . . . differently."
Ian cleared his throat, and Kate started. She went to put her bags in the boot, and Owen took them from her hands while she yawned widely. "This is my, ah . . . associate—"
"Ian Fraser," Ian stepped forward and the two men shook hands solemnly.
"I took the liberty of putting you in the Plaza—"
"I'd like to go straight to the castle." Kate blurted out as the limousine pulled away from the kerb. "If you don't mind," she added belatedly.
"Mr. Xanatos anticipated as much. He and his wife would be delighted if you'd join them for a light supper."
The elevator doors opened, and it was all Owen could do to keep Kate on track to the dining room. She wanted to investigate every corner and it was only Ian's iron grip on her elbow and whispered reminders that didn't make them late for supper.
Xanatos stood up as they entered, smiling warmly, and Kate shook his hand, eyes focused on the ceiling.
"The renovations are simply amazing."
"Well, I'd love to take all the credit, but the work crews handled most of it."
"Of course," Kate blushed, and offered her hand to the seated Mrs. Xanatos. She took the chair offered her by the apparently multi-talented Mr. Burnett who had gone from brown chauffeur's jacket to black dinner jacket, and proceeded to begin serving the soup course. There was no sign of any other help, and Kate puzzled at that. Surely a man as wealthy as David Xanatos could afford a few maids and so on. Half the even moderately well-offs she'd known growing up had had full staffs, for manor houses not half as large as this.
"David tells me you're working on a book?" Fox said conversationally, and Kate noticed for the first time that beneath the elegant red brocade empire waist dress was a gentle swell of pregnancy.
"Aye, a history. It's been done before, but mostly in the manner of cheap pamphlets that the village would sell back when I was a child, not as much research as mostly photos and handed-down tales. I thought I'd do a proper job of it, as much to record as to preserve its memory now that it's no longer there." That came out just a tad sharper than she intended, and she set attention on the bowl of clear beef broth Owen placed before her.
"I did a fair bit of research myself, when I first heard of the castle," Xanatos raised a spoonful of consume to his mouth. "But there was little to be found in the published guidebooks and so on."
"Aye, well there wouldn't be, state that it was in, except for the gargoyles of course. Those were quite the wonder, predating the gothic period as they did. The castle was named Wyvern shortly after it was built, for the belief that the cliffs were home to winged beasts. Unfortunately, records of the time are more like to contain fantastic tales of magic and individual deeds of heroism than hard fact. But the hard fact that stands out is that the castle was abandoned in 994 after Viking raiders from the Western Isles attacked and plundered it. Few died, but the inhabitants were taken to King Kenneth II's lands by his niece, Malcolm's daughter Katharine, which made her a member of the derbfine. Constantine III succeeded Kenneth, and it seemed Princess Katharine disappeared. The castle was believed to have been haunted by the ghosts of the captain of the guard who betrayed Katharine, and the leader of the raiders, and fell into disrepair. None lived there after, and the only inhabitants were the stone gargoyles perched on its walls and battlements. Actually, they weren't true gargoyles, but grotesques- -" Kate stopped mid-sentence, and coloured yet again. "but never mind me, I've gone off into one of my history lessons, do forgive me."
"Your knowledge of the history is impressive."
"The castle was in my family for a thousand years. The stories connected with it were the fairy tales I heard each night from my parents."
"Fairy tales," Xanatos murmured, eyes glittering strangely in the dim light, and they continued on to the main course.
"I would have liked to have seen more," Kate grumbled as she towelled her long dark hair dry and perched cross-legged on the edge of the bed, the complimentary hotel robe dwarfing her in pure white terricloth. Ian thought she looked scarcely older than the eight year old he had met on the moors.
"I can hardly keep my eyes open, and to top it off it's bloody cold up there. I'm sorry I made you leave, but I noticed you wilting a bit during the dessert course as well."
"Aye, just as well I suppose. Better to see it in the morning, with the light. I couldn't have managed any photos anyway."
"You're a workaholic."
"No, just daft."
"Don't get me started."
"That Xanatos is a queer one, isn't he? I mean, he knows how angry I was about Michael selling him the castle, and he did ignore me for ages, but now he's all sweetness and light, and putting us up in fancy digs and all, not to mention giving us free reign—"
"I serious doubt that bit, Kate. A locked door is still a locked door, historical claim or no. Do you really think he'll let us into every nook and cranny?"
"He bloody well better, this may be my last chance at ever seeing the place. Round trip transatlantic air tickets don't—"
"Grow on trees, I know. Not for grad students they don't. You can always borrow from Michael."
"Blood money? No thank you."
"You're so high and mighty, Kate." Ian yawned, and started back through the door that connected their rooms.
"And what about that Mr. Burnett?" She called after him. "To look at him, you'd think he had ice water flowing in his veins."
"To look at him, perhaps. But don't you be drawing all your conclusions from appearances, Kate."
"And what's that supposed to mean?"
"Just that. 'Night, Kate." He shut the door, and she fell back on the flowered comforter.
The taxicab deposited Kate and Ian in the plaza in front of the Eyrie building, and the young woman looked up, craning her neck, but the building vanished into the low hanging morning clouds somewhere around the 80th floor. Ian touched her shoulder, and she grinned, grasping the case with the lights.
"Come on then, we're like to be late, and something tells me our man Xanatos doesn't appreciate tardiness." Ian shouldered the camera bag and they wrestled for a moment to see who would carry the tripod. "Fine, be macho," Kate sighed, letting go and they entered the lobby. The two of them in their jeans and sweaters were at odds with the sea of business suited Xanatos Enterprises employees. Kate marched right up to the security desk.
"Kate MacAlpin to see Mr. Xanatos," she leaned forward, and the bored looking rent-a-cop merely nodded and touched a button on his console, cupping his hand around the mic of his headset. "You can wait in the east lobby," he gestured to two heavy smoked glass doors, and Ian shifted the tripod to his other side and started for it. Kate had to hurry to catch up with him.
"Your legs are longer than mine, slow down," she hissed, and he held open the door for her, revealing a lounge that resembled an exclusive men's club rather than a waiting room. Several suited men sat in rich leather chairs, copies of the Times and Journal obscuring their faces, and a young man in a starched white shirt was going around serving coffee and tea.
Kate settled onto a love seat, folding her hands in her lap after glancing at her wristwatch, which insisted on sneaking around so the face was always on the inside of her wrist.
"We told him we'd be here at eight, I do remember that quite clearly, don't you?"
"Aye, and it's barely that now. Relax." Ian leaned back and accepted the cup of tea the young gentleman offered. Kate waved him away, having demolished the continental breakfast, including the pot of coffee all by herself, some hours before. If she were any more wired, she thought her eyes would cross.
Owen Burnett appeared in a smart charcoal double-breasted suit and red silk tie. "I'm afraid Mr. Xanatos has meetings scheduled through this afternoon," he informed them, and Kate caught a frown before it could manifest itself. "I assure you, in his absence I can take any questions you might have and will assist you in any way that I can."
"Thank you, Mr. Burnett, I'm sure that will be most satisfactory," Ian matched his efficient tone exactly. Owen took the case from Kate and gestured for them to follow.
He lead them to a private elevator to the side of the lounge and the express elevator sped upwards towards the castle, opening into a stone hallway.
"I'd like to begin with the main hall while we have the morning light, if you don't mind," Kate screwed on a wide-angle lens that had cost her the equivalent of a term tuition and started off, her memory, augmented by research, supplying her with the route. Ian shrugged, and Owen's face remained impassive.
Three hours later the coffee was at last wearing off, and Kate marked the top of her fourth film canister, tying her sweater about her waist. "I think we'll use colour for the exteriors. What do you think, Ian?"
"It's your call," Ian lifted the tripod again, and glanced around for Burnett, who had kept to the background, silent for the most part except when his pocket beeped and he whispered into a cellular telephone.
"If we can't afford colour for the first printing, they'll still come out all right, and I can always hit up Michael for the money. He owes me."
"I thought you called it blood money?"
"Yes, well, this is different," she insisted, and headed towards the doors leading to the courtyard.
Kate gasped at the sight presented to her, and leaned over the wall. The city stretched out before her like a fairy tale kingdom, clean and peaceful from this height.
"Oh Ian," she sighed, and he rested his crossed arms on the wall next to her, the cold wind tousling his hair and pinking both their cheeks. "Isn't it amazing?"
"The view is spectacular," Owen's voice came from behind them and Kate started, but regained her compose quickly.
"What happened to the North Wall? These aren't the original stones," she began, and Owen frowned.
"There was an unfortunate incident last year. As you can see we've rebuilt several sections of the walls, and the west tower."
"What kind of incident?" she pressed.
"Nothing you need to concern yourself with, I assure you." Mr. Burnett's reply was firm and Kate decided to back down for now. She had of course heard about Mr. Xanatos's tenure in the minimum security prison upstate for possession of stolen property, but it hadn't occurred to her that the castle might have been damaged either before or during his stay. That bothered her. She looked up, craning her neck, and gasped.
"The gargoyles!" She grasped Ian's arm almost painfully, and he followed her gaze to the naked towers and parapets. "They're gone."
"Perhaps they came to life and flew away?" Ian whispered, and she slapped his arm, frowning.
"Ian, don't start with your tales," Kate turned back to Owen, who remained damnably calm. "Well, Mr. Burnett? Were they destroyed along with the walls?"
"I regret that Mr. Xanatos could not keep them, though he would have liked to."
"He sold them?" she cried, dismayed. "When? To whom?"
"I'm sorry, that information is confidential."
"What the bloody hell do you mean confidential?" she snapped, and Ian laid a hand on her arm.
"We're sorry, Mr. Burnett, but it is a bit of a shock. After all, the gargoyles survived a thousand years perched on the walls of the castle. It's a surprise is all."
"Of course. Mr. Xanatos has authorised the use of the company helicopter for the afternoon, if you would like to photograph the castle from above."
"Tomorrow, I think," Kate had visibly calmed herself. "I'd like to see how today's shots have turned out first, if you don't mind."
"Of course. Shall I ring for a car to take you back to your hotel?"
"We can manage a taxi, thank you all the same."
"Then if you will follow me, the main elevators can take you back to the lobby." Burnett turned, and Ian touched Kate's arm, a question in his eyes, but she mouthed 'later' and they started packing up their equipment.
"What the hell are you up to?' Ian asked when they had squeezed into the back of a taxi, surrounded by their bags. "You have that look."
"What look?" Kate asked innocently.
"That 'I know something is going on, and I won't rest until I know exactly what it is, even if it kills my best friend Ian in the process' look."
"Don't be daft."
"But you are planning something."
"If you must know, we're going to the library. I want to know exactly what happened to the north wall, the west tower, and those gargoyles." She crossed her arms, her mouth in a grim line as the cab pulled away from the kerb.
The library was deserted and silent save for the whir of the microfiche viewer as Kate marked off document call numbers on a scrap of paper. She suddenly gave a small cry and Ian placed his hand over her mouth, but the librarian dozed at the hulking desk, oblivious.
"It seems our Mr. Xanatos, the week before his arrest, had a power generator that malfunctioned, showering the street below with chunks of masonry. But in fact, the damage was minimal."
"It seems our Mr. Xanatos, the week before his arrest, had a power generator that malfunctioned, showering the street below with chunks of masonry. But in fact, the damage was minimal."
"And this is good news how?" Ian prompted.
"The night he was arrested, a similar incident took place, with much more extensive damage, but there was no generator story that time. In fact, there was hardly any story at all, except that a Detective Maza from the 23rd discovered he was in possession of stolen Cyberbiotics data, and off he went to jail. Look at this," she traced the photograph of the castle silhouette, "there's more than just the wall and tower gone. Jesus, this must have cost a fortune on top of the money he'd already spent."
"We have a name, but we still don't know a thing about the statues."
"Ah, but we do. They're not there."
"Perhaps they fell and were smashed? You said the damage—"
"No, look, only this portion of the wall was destroyed," she pulled out the printout and pointed to the grainy photograph. "This is where the gargoyles were placed, don't you remember? And they aren't there, not in this picture."
"Perhaps he moved them to a different part of the walls? After all, he had the place moved stone by stone, he could have left the statues wherever he damned well liked."
"No, look here," she picked up another article, dated the day before the generator supposedly exploded. The gargoyles adorned the walls just as they always had, in the exact same places. "In the space of four days, those gargoyles up and disappeared, and I want to know to where. Come on, let's find out where the 23rd precinct house is."
Elisa refilled her coffee cup, switching her stack of files from one arm to the other as she grabbed the half and half carton from the door of the mini-fridge from hell. Shaking the empty container, she spat out the pen clutched between her teeth. "Okay, who finished the cream?" she growled to the floor, and was met with a dozen or so muttered denials.
"Drink it black like a real cop," Morgan suggested, and she pinched him as she headed back to her desk.
"I can't stomach the sludge you guys call coffee without cream."
"There's Coffeemate," Matt reminded her, and she made a face.
"I don't put anything not found in nature into my sludge, thanks."
"You eat white chocolate," Matt raised an eyebrow as he slipped another form into his typewriter.
"You want the green one, the blue one is outdated," Elisa dumped the stack of open cases onto her desk. "White chocolate's different."
"It's pure chemicals."
"It's a breakthrough. Coffeemate is a travesty." Elisa made a face.
"Detective Maza?" a female voice interrupted her discourse on the evils of non-dairy creamer, and Elisa looked up to see a young woman.
"Can I help you?"
"My name is Kate MacAlpin, and this is my associate, Ian Fraser," she gestured to the tall, fair-haired young man behind her who extended his hand. "I'm doing a book on the history of Castle Wyvern, and I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions about the Xanatos case from last year?"
"I'm on duty right now," Elisa plastered a smile on her face, but her fingers tightened around her coffee cup.
"It'll only take a few minutes, I wanted to ask you about the gargoyles—"
"Gargoyles?" Elisa asked, and tried not to notice Matt's sudden undivided attention across from her.
"Yes, there were six stone gargoyles on the west tower and wall, I have photographs," she began to reach into her camera bag, and Elisa stood up so quickly her chair scratched the linoleum.
"Let's go to the conference room."
"I'm not sure I can be much help, architecture isn't really my thing." Elisa smiled a little self-deprecatingly, trying to ignore the little voice inside her that reminded her how lousy an actress she was.
"Mr. Xanatos' assistant Mr. Burnett told us the gargoyles had been sold, at least that's what he implied. But when I asked him to whom, he said it was confidential. I looked up several articles in the library, and according to these photographs, the statues disappeared some time between the first incident and Xanatos' arrest, and I was hoping you might know something about it?"
"If you'll forgive my asking, I know you're doing a book, but why so interested?"
"The castle was in my family for a thousand years. Those statues . . . they were more than just statues." Kate held out her empty hands, trying to find the right words, a frown drawing together her brows, and Elisa's heart litterally skipped a beat.
"How so?" She tried to sound unaffected, and Ms. MacAlpin didn't seem to notice anything amiss, though Fraser might have. Him she couldn't read.
"This is going to sound silly, but when I was growing up, I used to sit at their feet and pretend they were alive. My mother used to tell me the most wonderful stories about the castle. They were, I suppose you could call them fairy tales. And it's not like I believed them . . . but, you must understand, those gargoyles are a part of the castle history. To me, they are the castle, I can't put it any clearer than that. I can't bear the thought that they may have been destroyed, or sold off.
"When my father died, my brother became executor of the estate, what little there was of it. I tried for years to raise money to restore the castle, but it was a losing battle. Michael sold the castle to Mr. Xanatos to pay off debts, and there was nothing I could do about it. But if I could locate the statues, perhaps use the funds I raised to return them to where they belong . . . this is about more than just a book."
Elisa breathed a sigh of relief. Kate MacAlpin seemed genuinely ignorant of the spell, and the effects of moving the castle to the Eyrie Building. Elisa almost felt sorry for Kate, she seemed so sincere.
"Ms. MacAlpin, I really wish I could help you, but I don't know who Xanatos sold them to, or even if he did sell them."
"We knew it was a long shot, Detective Maza," Ian laid a hand on Kate's shoulder, and smiled at Elisa. "Thanks for taking the time to speak to us."
"I wish I could be more help," Elisa said sincerely as she shook their hands once again, and watched them exit the conference room. She breathed a heavy sigh of relief, and headed upstairs to the tower. The guys would be waking soon, and she had a feeling they'd want to know about this.
"Dammit!" Kate swore as they exited the precinct. "Now what?"
"I don't know about you, but I think I'd like some tea."
"I don't believe you. I'm in the depths of despair, and you want to have your tea? Where are your priorities, man?"
"Do you suppose anyone in this damnable place knows how to make a proper cuppa? And scones with clotted cream and jam would certainly hit the spot—"
"You and your stomach!" Kate slapped his shoulder playfully, and he gave her a one armed hug as they waited at the crosswalk for the light to go green.
"I know you're disappointed, Kate."
"I've spent the last two years disappointed by one thing or another, you think I'd be used to it by now." They headed across the street, and she sighed. "I suppose we'd best get back to the hotel, I think I'm going to take Mr. Burnett up on that offer of a helicopter ride tomorrow, would you like to come along?"
"Oh no, you're not getting me up in one of those things!" Ian held up his hands, warning her off, and she laughed. Suddenly the smile faded from his face, and his jaw dropped open in shock.
"What is it?"
"Look," Ian pointed, and she followed his gaze to the top of the precinct and gasped. There, perched before the clock face, were the gargoyles, all six.
"He sold them to the city?" she asked, puzzled.
"Since when does the city buy statues to decorate their buildings?"
"Maybe they were a gift."
"For the precinct that housed the detective that sent him to jail? Somehow I can't see Mr. Xanatos as that forgiving."
"This is maddening, why did she tell us—when they were right here?" Kate rubbed her forehead. "But if I'm not to have answers, I'm going to have photographs." She patted the camera bag, "Come on." She headed across the street to duck inside the entrance of an alley that ran behind the buildings.
Ian checked for oncoming traffic before jogging after her, and found her standing on the edge of a trash receptacle, reaching for a fire escape ladder. She snagged it and he caught her as she went off balance, the clang of the ladder coming down muffling her triumphant laughter as, with his arms wrapped around her legs, she grasped the lowest two rungs, and pulled herself up.
"So much for tea," he sighed.
"You coming?" she looked down at him, green eyes dancing. He looked like he wanted to say something biting, but chose to jump up and grasp the bottom rung instead, following her up towards the roof.
"Damn, we're losing the light," Kate took the lens from its case and screwed it onto the front of the camera, shielding her eyes from the reflected light of the setting sun which painted the windows of the precinct bright gold and the stone gargoyles a deep orange. She began to snap photos as the sun dipped lower and lower, cursing as the gold light slipped off the stones entirely, casting them into gloom, and she popped open a box of faster film.
Reloading quickly, she had just raised the camera to peer through the viewfinder when she gasped. The statues were falling!
No, not falling . . . stretching, moving . . .
"Hey guys!" Elisa said brightly from the doorway as the gargoyles hopped down off the ledge. "You are not going to believe who I talked to just now."
Pale as milk, Kate lowered the camera and looked to Ian, who did not seem surprised, not nearly as surprised as he should have been, but transfixed, a wistful smile on his face. She raised the camera, using the lens like binoculars, still snapping pictures.
"Ian, it's her! She sat there, bold as brass, and lied to us— " Kate sputtered as she recognised Maza, and Ian shrugged.
"Well, can you blame her?"
Goliath leaned against the ledge, arms crossed as Elisa described her encounter with Kate.
"Are most humans as obsessed with their family histories?" he asked, thinking of the humans he had known. They did not seem so interested in the past as the present. Specifically, surviving it.
"Depends. America's a really young country, only a few hundred years. People tend to be more interested in the future than the past, because there just isn't a lot of it yet for most people, but I know how my dad feels—" She stopped as she saw a circle of light flash across Goliath's shoulder. He turned, and they saw the two figures on the rooftop, light from setting sun the reflected off the lens of a camera.
"It's them!" Elisa gasped, and without a word, Goliath dove off the balcony, spreading his wings to catch the wind.
Kate's eyes grew wide as the statue she remembered as a childhood fancy suddenly swooped down towards her through the lens of the camera, and she stumbled backwards as he filled her field of vision. She could hear his wings.
Ian reached for her, but she felt the back of her calves hit the low wall of the roof, and the next thing she knew she had lost her balance, and was falling backwards, Ian's hand brushing her sleeve as she went over.
"Ah jeez, not again," Brooklyn slapped his forehead with his hand. "What is it about Goliath that affects women that way?"
"Beats me," Lexington shrugged.
"C'mon, lads, we might as well join him. In for a penny . . ." Hudson spread his wings, and Brooklyn glanced back into the tower.
"Hey Broadway, you coming?"
"I'm gonna start dinner, you guys go ahead," the gourmand gargoyle called out the open door, and Brooklyn and Lex took to the air.
"Non cade!" Ian cried, stretching his hands wide, and suddenly Kate felt as if a giant hand were lifting her up, and her terrifying progress towards street level suddenly was reversed. The grey/lavender giant gathered her in his arms and let the updraft carry them back to the roof where, his mouth a grim line, he deposited her on her feet.
Which was pretty pointless because if Ian hadn't caught her she would have gone down on her knees, seeing as her legs felt like jelly and she was having great difficulty breathing. He pulled her against his chest, and she closed her eyes, cheek pressed against his sweater.
"I defied gravity, didn't I?"
"I don't want to know why, or how. No. I don't think so. Not right now." She shook her head, her eyes still screwed tightly shut.
He actually laughed, and reached out a hand to Goliath.
"I've waited so long to meet you," he said sincerely, and the gargoyle regarded the outstretched palm with scepticism.
Hudson, Brooklyn and Lex landed on the roof just as Elisa appeared at the opposite side, a little out of breath, having climbed up the fire escape.
"Why were you taking photographs?" Goliath asked, and Ian retracted the hand with a sigh. Kate pulled herself together, and stepped out of the protection of her friend's arms, looking up at the giant figure candidly.
"I wanted . . ." she began, and then stopped, frowning. "I never believed the stories, they were just stories. I wanted pictures for the book, and then you moved."
"Yes, we tend to do that," Brooklyn's mouth curled into a smile, and Kate caught the flash of fangs.
"My God . . ." She paled again, and gave a little shake. Since when was she a wilting little flower? Once the adrenaline rush wore off, she was going to be a complete mess, but somehow, she had thought she'd react with more grace under pressure.
Not that she had ever in all her days pictured anything quite like this. "I'm Kate MacAlpin," she said firmly, extending her hand to Brooklyn. If he'd had eyebrows, they would have shot up. As it was, he grinned again and clasped her hand.
"Very pleased to meet you." she shook his hand firmly. "That's an unusual name, isn't it one of the burroughs?"
"Oh jeez, Matt's going to think I bailed on him," Elisa suddenly smacked her forehead. "I only meant to come up for a minute, I've got to get back. Goliath?"
"It's all right, Elisa. I think we can handle this."
"Okay, but as soon as I get off shift, we have a lot to talk about."
"Yes," Goliath eyed Kate, who still hadn't regained all of her colour. "I believe we do."
"It's so . . . cozy," was Kate's delighted observation as they entered the clock tower. Broadway stood before the stove, stirring a pot of stew and whistling, and Hudson stood before a makeshift bookshelf that held a dozen or so worn volumes as well as mass market paperbacks with cracks spines and loose pages carefully tucked back in. Her eyes grew wide as Bronx lumbered over to sniff the newcomers.
"These are new friends," Lex scratched his ears affectionately as the beast trotted back to the young gargoyle's side and Kate released the death grip she'd hand on Ian's arm.
"It's amazing, you look just like her!" Broadway breathed, and Kate started.
"Your ancestor," Goliath supplied. "There is a resemblance. I take it you were named for her?"
"I can name a dozen Katharine MacAlpins off the top of my head, I'm afraid the MacAlpin men lack originality." Kate was surprised at how calm her voice sounded to her own ears, what little she could hear of it over the pounding of her heart. She could hardly believe she was standing in a sparsely decorated clock tower sipping tea with creatures that had previously lived and breathed only in her imagination. "I have so many questions." She shook her head, and then her eyes narrowed and she whirled on Ian. "Like, for starters, what the devil did you do back there?"
"Do?" Ian asked innocently.
"I know my classical latin, thank you very much, what the devil was that?"
"Ah . . . that."
"That was magic, lass," Hudson said gently, and she sat down in the overstuffed chair heavily, running her fingers through her hair in a gesture of frustration.
"There's not supposed to be any such thing." She shook her head, feeling a bit overloaded all of a sudden, and Goliath traded an indecipherable look with Hudson, who merely shrugged.
Ian knelt down before her, and carefully disentangled her hands from her dark hair and took them in his own. "Magic is only part of it, Kate. I never wanted to keep it from you, but I had to. There's no room for magic and gargoyles and the like in your life, your modern world."
"Well, room or not, it's here now, isn't it?" She pulled her fingers from his, and wrapped them around her forearms, looking up at the gargoyles before returning her gaze to his open, earnest gaze.
"Aye, it is."
"When we found you, Mum and I, camped inside the walls. It wasn't chance, was it?"
"No. I was looking for you."
"Our families have been linked for a thousand years, I grew up on the stories too. I was curious, I wanted to know what Kate MacAlpin was like, if she was anything like the Katharine MacAlpin who ruled Castle Wyvern all those years ago. I needed to know, and once I was there, it was just so easy to stay."
"You're not from Somerset, are you."
"Ah . . . not quite." Ian's lips curved in a half smile, and she reached out to touch his cheek. Then she frowned again, and looked back up at Goliath.
"Hang on a minute, Xanatos knew, didn't he? He knew the stories, and he believed them. That's why he brought the castle here?"
"Yes, and his motives were not as pure as yours, I can assure you," Goliath said darkly.
"But to go to so much expense based on a tale—"
"He knew it was true. There is another of our kind here." Goliath's hands curled into fists of their own accord, and it took considerable effort to unclench them.
"I used to dream, when I was a child. Dream about the days when the gargoyles guarded the castle, imagined what life must have been like. What you all must have been like, so many times . . . I feel like my entire life has been building up to this moment, and now that it's here, I don't know what to say."
"Say that you will keep our secret."
"How can I not? What you did for my family, I could be alive a hundred years and never repay it."
"There is no debt to be paid any longer." Goliath smiled and reached out his hand, which Kate took, her fingers dwarfed by his.
"I don't suppose you have any scones?" Ian asked Broadway quietly, and the gargoyle shook his head.
"Even if we did, no cream."
"Blast. It's not a proper tea without it."
"Must you always think of your stomach, Ian?" Kate asked.
"You're the one whose been dragging me around the city since breakfast, remember?"
"You could have just magic-ed up some bloody scones, couldn't you?"
"There aren't any spells for tea," he complained good naturedly. "Magic's only good for big things. It's the little ones you have to manage on your own, and they're the important things."
When Elisa poked her head back into the tower room at 4am, she wasn't sure what she'd find, but she was sure it wasn't Ian Fraser sitting on the floor rubbing Bronx's belly, and the big slobbering beast rolled over on his back, leg thumping the floor and tongue hanging out in pure bliss.
"Ah, you're a good dog, aren't you," Ian grinned, and looked up to meet the detective's eyes. "Kate's down in the library with Goliath, pouring over history books, and the lads are out on rounds."
Hudson put down the book he was reading, and Elisa noticed he was at least a chapter further along than he had been the night before. The old gargoyle smiled at her as she dropped down into the other chair, shaking her head.
"Some night, huh?"
"Aye, it is at that."
"Sorry about the commotion, Detective Maza." Ian got up and crossed to sit between them, and Bronx lumbered after him, resting his head in the fair-haired young man's lap. Ian absently scratched between his ears, and Bronx's eyes slitted with contentment. If Elisa didn't know any better, she'd say the pooch was almost smiling.
"I'm sorry I had to lie to you guys."
"No apologies necessary, if I were in the your place I'd have done the same thing exactly."
"So, what are you going to do?"
"About Xanatos and the book? I suppose that's up to Kate, though frankly I'm hoping she'll play this one close to the vest. From what your friend Goliath has told us abut the man, I'd rather he not know just how much we know, if you take my meaning."
Kate drew the heavy flowered drapes of the hotel room, plunging it into darkness. She picked at the remains of her BLT as Ian wandered back and forth in the other room, also preparing for bed. Jet lag aside, they had been up for over thirty-six hours and it showed. Kate had dozed off in Elisa's car as the detective had dropped them off at the hotel after sunrise, and Ian had to steer her through the lobby so she wouldn't bump into people.
"I've set the alarm for two," he said from the doorway, and she nodded, a yawn splitting her face. She crawled under the covers, and Ian sat on the edge of her bed. She clasped his fingers and smiled. "You're not angry, then?" he asked, surprised.
"I never could stay angry with you for long. I'll tell you though, it is damned frustrating when everyone knows more than you do."
"I wanted to tell you, all of it. But there were reasons . . . are reasons—"
"I know. And I don't know if I would have believed you if I hadn't seen for myself." She shrugged. "It's all right."
"Sleep well." He gave her hand one last squeeze and disappeared through the connecting door. She curled up under the covers, and closed her eyes, and before long, sleep had claimed her.
The sky was red. That was the first thing she noticed. The sun was beginning its lazy journey towards the horizon, oblivious to the screams and harsh music of steel against steel. But she didn't see any of that, her eyes were fixed on the orb of the sun as it began to dip beneath the cliffs.
Suddenly her field of vision was filled with a viking, his blond hair caked with dried blood. The northman raised a mace, its spikes sharply outlined by the setting sun. Only a few more minutes . . . seconds perhaps, and she would be able to rip his throat out and dash his body on the rocks below. Seconds she did not have, she could not move, not even blink as the mace began its descent— Ian awoke to Kate's scream. He was through the connecting door in seconds, face white with shock. She was sitting bolt upright in bed, her head buried in her hands, sobbing. He touched her shoulder, and she leaned against his chest, her breath coming in ragged gasps.
"It's okay, it's okay," he smoothed her hair back from her face.
"I dreamt I was a gargoyle, and the northmen . . . the vikings attacked. I was stone, I couldn't move—"
"It was just a dream, Kate, just a dream . . . "
"He was going to smash me. The sun was almost setting— My God, what it must have been like for them!"
"They never felt it. They never knew." He began to rock her gently back and forth, and her tears slowed to a trickle, her breathing eased.
"But Goliath, the others . . . to awaken and find the . . . the . . . remains. It must have broken their hearts." she whispered.
"They survived. That's what's important, that they managed to live through it, and survive. It's no wonder you'd be having nightmares, after what Goliath told you."
"I keep thinking of all the times as a child I sat up there, pulling away the moss and ivy and staring at their faces, wishing they were alive. Not knowing they were frozen, trapped . . . Ian, if I'd succeeded in keeping the castle in Scotland, they would have stayed trapped as stone forever. I wouldn't have been able to live with myself."
"Everything happens for a reason, you have to believe that."
"Even the massacre? Even the near extinction of a race?"
He remained silent and continued to stroke her hair. After a time, she fell asleep, her head resting on his chest, fingers still wrapped around his own.
If Owen noticed how quiet Ms. MacAlpin seemed in comparison with her earlier visits, he showed no sign of it as he led the castle's guests to the landing pad. She didn't even tease Mr. Fraser about his refusal to go up in that "unnatural contraption" as he put it. As the helicopter took off, Owen lead Ian back into the main hall.
"I trust your visit has been a pleasant one?" Owen asked, making small talk, and Ian grinned.
"Enlightening," he said with no small irony. Owen raised a brow. "Come now, Mr. Burnett. We all know I think a bit more about Castle Wyvern than we did two years ago."
"Indeed." Owen said, his voice devoid of emotion. Ian felt a ghost of a halfsmile tugging at the corner of his lips.
"You know, I do think this trip has been good for her. Kate has been obsessed with this place all her life. I've never seen her more miserable than on the day your Mr. Xanatos purchased it from her brother. This trip has given her a new perspective."
Owen remained silent. They could hear the sound of the helicopter blades, and the faint song of the bustling city a hundred stories below them carried on the crisp winter wind.
"Mr. Fraser," David Xanatos beamed as he entered the hall, briefcase in hand, which Owen took from him and then disappeared, Ian assumed to oversee the serving of tea. "I see Ms. MacAlpin has taken advantage of our offer of aerial shots."
"She was quite anxious, yes."
"And the shots from yesterday?"
"We got some amazing shots yesterday," Ian admitted, and Xanatos barrelled on, seemingly unaware of the light that danced in Fraser's eyes.
"Ah, good. I own some interests in American publishers, if you are looking to do an imprint here in the States, you know. I'd be more than happy to fax a copy of the proposal personally. I think this will make a handsome coffee table edition."
"I don't know about a coffee table book, but I'll ask Kate all the same."
"Owen told me how disappointed she was about the gargoyles." Xanatos stuck his hands deep in his pockets and looked out, watching the helicopter thread its way through sparse clouds. was dropped. Ian, who wasn't really bothering with a facade today, it was so much work you know, remained impassive, and then the pleasant social wall was back up.
"You will of course join us for tea? It's in your honour."
"I could use a cup of tea," Ian admitted. "Thank you."
Xanatos found Kate out in the bailey. The sun was beginning to set and she leaned against the wall, watching its slow progress.
She looked up at his footsteps on the stones, and he came to stand beside her, following her gaze.
"I came here wanting to hate you, Mr. Xanatos." she said quietly. "I believed you had no right to move my ancestral home."
"I paid for it down to the last stone." Xanatos pointed out, but she only smiled, the wind catching her dark hair and whipped it around her cheeks. She tucked it behind her ears, and turned to face him.
"Yes, you did. I should thank you, because I've learned something very important. These are just stones. But there are things that have no price, Mr. Xanatos." She glanced back once more at the red sky, the sun slipping behind the skyline. "Ian tells me you've set out quite a tea for us, I think I'll take you up on your hospitality."
Xanatos waved for her to precede him, a curious look on his face.
"Who used all the sugar?" Elisa snapped as she took forlornly at the packets of pink stuff lying in a pile on the counter next to the coffeemaker. Matt rolled his eyes at his desk, and Elisa grumbled, stirring the cup of lukewarm bitter sludge with a plastic stir. She sank into her chair, and winced as she raised the cup to her lips.
"Hey, this was dropped off for you before you came on shift," Morgan hefted a large envelope, trying to discern the contents. "Feels like a book."
"Give me that." Elisa snatched it from his fingers. "Bad cop, no donut." She slapped Morgan on the shoulder with the large padded envelope before ripping it open. Nestled inside was a hardcover book. "Castle Wyvern: A History by Katharine MacAlpin" was emblazoned across the dust jacket, above a photograph of the stone Goliath in a thinker's pose atop the walls of the castle, the pale blue sky behind him. Elisa smiled, and opened the book.
"This book is dedicated to the people who made is possible. You know who you are." was centered on the first page, and beneath this was a handwritten inscription in a neat hand.
"For Elisa, Goliath, Hudson, Brooklyn, Broadway, and Lexington. Nothing can repay the gift you've given me, but I hope you consider this a start."
ljc's gargoyles fan fiction