* * *
by Edmondia Dantes
AN: As I'm certain you have already guessed, this is story number four in my little saga thingy. Since you're bothering to read this, I won't put my little gargoyles-what-gargoyles? warning on this thing.
Disclaimer: I don't own Gargoyles. Wish I owned Owen. I'm not making any money. Wish I were. This is for fun. FUN. Which I am having, and hopefully other people who read this will have fun too. No sue the Dia-chan, for she has no money. Wish I did.
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- Chapter One -
It was probably a good thing that the fey never had any bad hair days, he reflected, otherwise his immaculate tresses might have been in danger of being mussed, or, Avalon forbid, getting split ends. Alexander seemed quite determined in his attempt to ruin his teacher's hairstyle, tugging on the silken locks enthusiastically.
Said teacher, however, was feeling unusually generous today, and did not reprimand him. After all, he was hardly suffering, whereas Xanatos had been particularly disturbed upon discovering just how badly he had needed the haircut that Owen had oh-so-tactfully suggested he consider. Fox had laughed for two days straight after seeing her husband's expression when he scrutinized his appearance in a mirror. Then again, it wasn't very often one saw David Xanatos struck dumb with wide-eyed horror.
He was almost tempted to chuckle, but the effects most likely would have been disastrous for the child, fragile little hybrid that he was. The baby cooed, grinned widely, and yanked harder. His delicate nose wrinkled in distaste. Okay, maybe not that fragile.
Alex lay across his chest, drowsy but nevertheless intrigued by the thick locks that tumbled enticingly within his vision. It was a rare evening when there was nothing happening at the Eyrie building. To be truthful, he shouldn't have been in this form when not actually doing anything with Alex, but it wasn't like he cared. Since when had he been truthful?
Besides, he was much more comfortable like this. Being human wasn't so bad unless you were stuck as one for a prolonged period of time. Then the claustrophobia would set in, the gross heaviness of the body weighing you down, self-imposed limits stretching taut despite your best efforts to ignore them. And the Puck in particular couldn't stand it.
So he let the child tug on the ivory lengths and smiled smugly to himself. He basked in the moonlight, half dreaming of the eternally warm summer evenings on Avalon but feeling too lazy to chastise himself for them. Someday Alex would want to know about his true Home, and that task would fall upon the exile.
...What was Davy doing, just hiding on the other side of the doorway? Did he actually think he was being sneaky?
* * *
David Xanatos felt rather silly. He had only meant to visit with his son. Now he stood, peeking anxiously around the door frame at his somehow best friend and only child.
If only he didn't feel so uncomfortable since that last crazy night when Oberon, of all people, had saved his hide, and Puck, of all people, had frightened him out of his wits.
If only his wife hadn't just poked him in the ribs and demanded to know what was going on.
While he was trying to explain that he had merely wished to see his son but didn't want to disturb him, his sleepy child was handed to him. He paused, blinked down at his baby, looked back up and felt even sillier. Owen just raised an eyebrow and stepped back.
He ruffled Alex's hair and mumbled something about how good it was to see him, wasn't he a good boy and was he sure he wanted to tug on daddy's beard that hard?
Fox chuckled and cooed at their son, who giggled back.
If it weren't for the mist that was creeping into the corners of the hallway, it would have been a picturesque scene. As things stood, however, Owen blinked at the sight, mumbled something akin to "What the hell?" and tapped Xanatos on the shoulder.
"Sir? I think we may have a problem."
Xanatos looked down at the mist that was roiling around his knees. "Ah. I see."
Fox followed his gaze as the mist rose higher. "Hm. Bit odd, don't you think?"
"Strategic retreat, I think, would be our best option. Owen?"
"It might work," he said doubtfully. A bad sign. If Owen said anything doubtfully, they were screwed over.
"What do you mean?"
He shrugged. "Get Alex out of here."
David looked at Fox. Fox looked at David. They looked at Alex. They looked back at Owen. Then they both sprinted down the hallway through the raising fog and towards the open air outside.
Owen frowned and followed, the mist coiling around him as though it didn't want to let him go.
* * *
Xanatos stumbled into the courtyard, growling as the mist grew darker. He was vaguely aware of the ghostlike form of Owen at his heels, the warm touch of his wife's fingertips on his arm, his son clasped against his chest. He coughed, trying to clear his lungs.
Faint shapes stirred in the darkness - the gargoyles? They could fly - no, glide, but either way they could get Alex out of here, why wasn't Owen doing anything? But -
He nearly tripped over a small shape.
"Lexington?" he questioned around a mouthful of the stuff.
"Yeah?" came the wary response. "What's going on?"
"Beats me. Catch."
Alex landed safely within the gargoyle's arms.
The mist thickened, and he gagged against the dense heaviness of it. He couldn't breathe, couldn't see, couldn't ...
* * *
The cloying traces of rain-scented mist faded into nothingness around their feet. Xanatos scrubbed at his blurry eyes - the mist had given him the oddest impulse to sneeze - and looked around.
Fox's eyes widened, her hair tumbling free down her shoulders like a sheet of fire as she spun swiftly around, casting a wary gaze around the clearing. "David, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore," she remarked wryly.
"An astute observation, my dear. There appears to be a distinct lack of any roads, yellow, brick, or otherwise. So where-"
"I think..." her voice quavered, and she caught her breath, "We might be..."
"Home." The word was spoken with uncharacteristic reverence.
And how could they expect to see Owen Burnett in the birthplace of the fey? If the Puck were to be anywhere, it was here, in a tree-shadowed glen beneath a brimming moon and the silver embrace of the stars.
His breath caught in his throat. "But how..."
The trickster tossed the mortals a sideways glance, and smiled. "Magic."
The mists of Avalon, he thought dazedly, Oh bloody hell.
* * *
He raced down the glorious hallways, shying away from the elder Children. A swift leap brought him to the bottom of a crystal staircase and in front of a pair of heavy doors. He stumbled into the Great Hall, skidding over the stones and biting his lip nervously. Around him, members of the court spoke in venomous tones of his uncouth entrance and his disheveled appearance. He slid to a stop at her feet, overlarge eyes wide and terrified.
"Ladyship?" The aqua-haired boy tried not to stammer.
Cool blue eyes pierced the hapless messenger. "Yes, little one?" she purred, leaning forward.
He gulped, scrambling back several paces. "Uh... the skirmish... has ceased, majesty. Sev.. several of our warriors are lost. Of... of... the traitors, two survive."
Her voice was deadly. "I know."
"Ladyship?" he squeaked.
I know, fool! she spat.
He screamed once, and silence fell upon the court.
The queen hissed through glittering teeth as she sat back on her ornate throne. Pathetic.
* * *
He had to wonder if he was doing it on purpose. Dammit, he couldn't see in the dark! Granted, the moon was a huge silver crescent in the sky that looked as though it would fall to earth and slice to ribbons whichever unfortunate happened to be in its path. Xanatos grimaced. Such pleasant imagery for a moonlit night on an island that he never once wanted to see. Unlike his wife, who was staring around with faint wonder gracing her features, he really didn't like this.
And Puck was zipping along, darting through the trees and weaving around obstacles without a thought. Although, he thought darkly, he probably knows every cubic inch of this damn isle like the back of his hand. He'd lost sight of the trickster several minutes before, the only clue towards his path being a bit of shimmering light that drifted in his wake.
And that big explosion of green light behind those trees.
They burst into the clearing to the sound of an ear-shattering scream. Xanatos squinted against the light, a flicker of memory teasing his brain -
And then the shriek faded away with the light, and there was only Puck, a faint energy shimmer around his fingertips, standing comfortably on nothingness. David glanced at his wife, who looked calmly at the scene. The grass was scorched, an ugly scar that faded even as he watched it. A tree that had been bent unnaturally twisted back to its original form.
Two forms stood towards the back of the empty clearing, their eyes wide in the moonlight and fastened on the one figure drifting lightly towards the ground.
One voice shouted something - a challenge? - in a language that he couldn't understand.
Puck flicked a mote of shimmering light off his tunic and responded in the same manner.
What? Something uneasy turned his stomach.
He watched as the light fell slowly to the ground, touching the grass, flaring brightly for a second, then fading away.
Oh my God.
He stared up at the trickster, conversing calmly with the two - when did they get here? I thought - are those iron swords?
His wife reached over, clasped his hand, and turned his head towards her. Her green eyes were calm.
"Would you have done the same?" she whispered.
He thought for an instant. Puck had most likely saved all of their lives. At least, he hoped that was what had happened.
After all, he'd never tried to be a good guy. Weren't the villains supposed to kill people? Fox had, and now he knew his best friend had. Killed without a second thought. But they weren't human. And he was.
And humans had qualms about these things. Well, he did. He would ruin someone's life and never look back, but he wouldn't kill.
He glanced up at his best friend.
Puck didn't look back, so he looked instead at his wife.
But she was staring at the three fey and didn't see him.
Right, he grumbled to himself.
* * *
They shuffled along, glaring evilly at the two warriors by their sides. The guards' attention, however, was not on the odd creatures that traversed the earth, but rather the odd creature that drifted easily over it as though he owned the place. The younger of the two wasn't certain that he didn't.
There was no way to restrain him. And truth be told, if there had been, neither would have dared. They had seen death before, but this Child hadn't used a weapon. There was no iron anywhere on his person.
He'd just... gotten rid of their attacker, with disquieting ease, then demanded to see their leader. Neither guard was stupid enough to disagree.
But who was he? A spy? A...
Perhaps a better question would have been - What was he?
So against their better judgment, they were headed back to the rebel camp. But the youngest had the feeling that even if they hadn't, the stranger would have found his way.
Absurdly powerful Children tended to be that way.
* * *
It was loud and crowded in the camp. Jewel-toned tents dotted the landscape, the people draped over branches polishing weapons, conversing, and throwing fireballs at one another. They took little notice of the group that arrived, melting into the confusion and light of the hundreds of fey that flew and ran and ambled along in the summer night air.
Silvery voices shouted and laughed, sang and cooed, spat and argued, rose and faded in a rush of sound that should have been cacophonous but wasn't. The light that flickered from tiny pixies glimmered against those that chose to wear a larger form. A panther dozed at the side of a beautiful woman deep in conversation with what looked like a man made of stone. A child with the wings of a bat polished a dagger with a golden rag, while nearby two men with dark green hair argued over a game of chance.
The air was surprisingly fresh and clean, the night warm and calm. No clouds marred the sparkling expanse of the sky. The ground was lit by gold and silver, ruby, emerald, and sapphire light that caught and flashed on armor and shining hair. The ground beneath their feet was covered in grass so deep and rich it felt like velvet when she'd dared to reach down and brush her fingers against it.
The scent of wildflowers lingered in the air, mixing with softer smells of water and trees and fruit.
She thought of the jungles she had fought her way through, buzzing insects stinging her eyes, coated in mud and blood, barely fed, bogged down by the weight of the gun in her hands. She looked at the wounded being tended to by gentle-eyed children, watched as their injuries were wrapped in silk and golden liquid. Tears welled in her eyes, and she didn't know why.
They wound their way through the crowds until they reached the largest tent, midnight blue and lit with torches that flared purple against the fabric.
"Don't go anywhere." The words were the first Fox had heard since they began their trek from the clearing. Puck gave them a narrow look, and she realized with a start that he blended in perfectly with their surroundings.
She had been staring at the myriad of beings, wondering at the fact that she was a part of them, sensing her husband's unease but being too interested to care.
"What's going on?" she demanded.
But Puck had vanished inside.
* * *
The guards hovered uncertainly by the entrance while the strange boy sauntered in. Bright blue eyes flickered around the tent, evaluating and then dismissing the few people scattered around the perimeter of the tent, who shifted uneasily beneath the cool gaze. A few retreated into the darkened corners, sinking into gilded chairs or to the moss-soft ground. Weapons shifted gently beneath anxious fingertips. Strangers were unheard of. And this boy was different. He wasn't dressed for battle, clad instead in soft clothing made for calmer times. He carried no weapon, yet his light steps were the prowl of a predator. He was slender and small of stature, but - there was something about him that made even the battle-hardened warriors shift uncomfortably.
Their prince watched the new arrival with curiosity. He leaned forward in his chair, staring at the boy in fascination.
He strolled calmly to the center of the room, idly flicking a lock of froth-white hair over his shoulder. A sly smirk tugged at the curve of his lips, small hands resting lightly on his hips.
"So how goes your little war?"
The question was addressed to their prince alone. Low murmurs began in the shadows, nervous glances sent to their leader, who stared at the boy with an unreadable look on his face. Slowly, he rose and stepped forward, still impassive, to tower over the intruder, who didn't bat an eye.
He gave the prince a supremely bored look. "Egad, I'm not that rusty. Gimme a break. You know how long it's been since anybody spoke this language?"
The prince scowled. "I do not," he said calmly, suspicion lighting his voice.
He snorted. "A while."
"How long is a while?"
The boy shrugged indifferently. "Ten thousand years, give or take a few centuries."
One pale brow raised. "A while," the prince said agreeably, "Am I to presume that is whence you came?"
"Bright boy," the intruder drawled.
The murmurs changed to growls. The stranger sent them a sideways glance, and for a single instant they froze. They all knew that look, the bone-chilling cold that slammed into the soul like a tsunami.
The prince smirked. He knew that look better than any of them. This would be most fortuitous. It was incredible, undoubtedly strange, and yet...
The boy shook his head. "Tsk, tsk, tsk. I really am here to help."
"Are you?" the prince inquired coolly.
He sighed airily, tossing his head before dropping gracefully into a sloppy bow. "You should be glad to see me, you know," he commented, a smirk crossing his lips.
He was. Indeed, he was.
"The name's Puck. But you knew that already." He folded his arms and grinned devilishly up at the prince.
Amidst the surprised murmurs, slowly, coldly, Oberon smiled.
* * *
Outside, Xanatos blinked, shivering in a sudden chill. Fox gave him a curious look, and he stared blankly at her.
* * *
The golden glow was tossed up in the air, caught by a tiny hand, then tossed again, causing the shadows to ripple against the thick rich fabric of the walls. The tosser perched on a pile of ornate pillows that was a hairsbreadth away from toppling over. Titania brushed by, yawning, as she loosed her hair from the ponytail it had been held in all day. The stack of pillows fell softly to the ground, but the boy remained sitting.
"I hate her," she commented to the child. "You should too."
The glow stilled in midair, hovering towards the ceiling. "What'd she ever do ta me?" the boy inquired softly, kicking his feet as she swept through the room.
"You don't want to know, baby," the girl sighed. "It's all her fault."
He tilted his head curiously. "Is it?"
She nodded decisively "Yes. That's why we're here and not in the palace where we belong."
"I like it here. 'S fun," the child said, his eyes glinting.
"You'll like many things, little one. You're our trickster." She reached over, ruffled the boy's fine white hair, and smiled.
He giggled, and even though he wasn't her son, she picked him up and twirled him around as her husband was wont to do.
* * *
Outside, Fox frowned. Her husband gave her a worried look, and she took his arm, noting with some alarm how tense it was.
"David? You okay?"
He flashed her his most debonair smile. "Always, my dear."
She smiled back at him.
As they watched the masses of fey wander past, their smiles faded, and their eyes hardened.
* * *
Written 2001 by Edmondia Dantes
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