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[personal profile] reluctant_gargoyle
Early October, 1995

Slightly less than two weeks had passed since I had been permanently transformed into a Gargoyle. In spite of the brave face I had put on for my family and even tried to put on for Goliath and the others, my mood was mercurial, ranging from utterly depressed to dead inside to angry. These moods came quickly and intensely, confusing me even more as Gargoyle instincts waged war with a human mind. I had seen Goliath brood deeply before or quickly rise to anger and now I understood why.

That night, as I had been spending most of the past several nights, I was training. Police-training had given me an excellent set of fighting skills to start with, but Goliath and Hudson were trying to shape me into a capable Gargoyle fighter. We’d found an abandoned warehouse that worked pretty well as a training facility, using practice dummies we’d built.

I ran the gauntlet, so to speak, striking or slashing each one in a different way, while Hudson shouted instructions. I stumbled hard, my tail snaking between my legs and tripping me up. I hit the concrete with a resounding smack.

As he had several times before, Hudson came over and offered me a hand up. And then he said, “Again.”

I let out a growl of frustration. “What’s the point?” I snapped. “I’m pretty obviously a failure as a Gargoyle.” It was frightening how easily the growl escaped my throat; it wasn’t the growl of anything human.

“You’re not doing so bad, lass, for a beginner.”

“And how many beginners trip over their own feet? Or lose control of their tails? Or get caught in their wings because they can’t get them to uncape?”

He looked down. “Well, maybe not so much the first one, or even the second, but…”

“My point exactly,” I said bitterly. “Let’s face it, Hudson. This is pointless.” I headed outside and he didn’t try to stop me. I climbed up to the warehouse’s roof. At least that was something I could do.

“C’mon,” I said to myself. “Don’t be a chicken, Maza. You gonna give up here too?” I jumped, spreading my wings, and glided off into the night.

I glided aimlessly, a bit awkward still on my wings. I was mad, but I wasn’t sure who I was mad at. Myself, for not measuring up and storming off and quitting? Hudson, for being a drill sergeant? Puck, for doing this to me (even though it had, in fact, saved my life)? Demona, for getting the whole ball rolling in the first place? Myself, again, for overreacting to a simple fall? Maybe it was all of them.

I touched down on a rooftop and actually managed to stay standing in the process. Maybe the lessons were paying off after all. I even managed to get my wings to cape without much effort, just like crossing an extra set of arms.

I stared down at my hands. Sometimes, I could swear, I still had pinkies, could feel them twitching. I stared further down, to my broad Gargoyle feet, but didn’t linger. Focusing too much on my digitigrade feet was likely to make me lose my balance. My tail (dear God, did that still sound strange) swayed behind me as though it had a mind of its own.

Why had this happened to me? What had I done to deserve having my entire life upended and turned inside out? Was this some kind of punishment for daring to love someone who wasn’t human, having my own humanity taken from me? It just wasn’t fair!

I let out a massive roar, eyes flaring red, wings flaring out to their full extension. It was a sound no human throat could ever hope to make, the roar of some terrible, ferocious beast. My roar. All my anger poured out into one sound.

My rage subsided long enough to hear the crash of a breaking window, hear an alarm going off, and see a group of three guys—clearly thugs of some kind—burst forth from a pawn shop across the street. I recognized a couple of them. They were members of Tony Dracon’s gang, probably running more of their protection rackets. The three guys piled into a waiting car, being driven by a fourth. I felt myself tense. On the scale of evil, these guys didn’t really rate all that high. But they were still scum, still preying on the innocent people of the city. They weren’t going to get away with it. Not tonight.

I jumped from the roof, adjusting my wings for speed and quickly caught up to the car. I landed clumsily on the roof of it, unable to get a grip at first. I was nearly thrown from the swerving car, but dug my talons in. Close enough to the drive’s side, I leaned over and put my hand through the window, grabbing the wheel and jerking. The men inside screamed and the car’s brakes screeched as the car slammed into a light pole. I jumped off just before impact, landing in a crouch.

The four staggered from the car, drawing weapons. “Hey!” one of them gasped. “It’s one of them monsters!”

Another had a gun. “Well, it’s about to be one less!”

Monster? Me? No. While they were terrible, preying on the innocent, taking their joy I the suffering of others, even they were not monsters. I had seen true monsters, like Demona and Xanatos. These guys didn’t even come close. And they dared to call me the monster?

Old instincts proved hard to kill, and I very nearly went for my gun and badge, stopping myself only at the last second. Instead, I pounced on the first one, knocking him to the ground. His gun flew threw the air and clattered on the street several feet away.

I was already moving on to the others. Two of the reaming three came at me at the same time, each with a knife. “Bring it on,” I snarled.

That surprised them, forced them back a step. “It talks!” one cried.

“Then let’s shut it up!” The other charged forward, brandishing his knife. I tried, unsuccessfully, to grab his wrist with my tail, like Hudson had tried to teach me. His follow up strike would have gotten me, if I hadn’t been fast enough to dodge. A single blow felled him.

I should have known that the fourth was sneaking up behind me, should have kept better track of where everyone was during the fight. Hell, I should have been able to smell him, but I couldn’t yet make enough sense of my new senses to get anything useful out of them. His arms wrapped around me, pinning mine. “Get it!” he called to the other.

I was stronger by far, but didn’t have the leverage needed to break free from where I was. What was I going to…? You have wings. Duh. I thought. I flared my wings, breaking the hold. I grabbed him and threw him into the other guy in one smooth motion, taking them both out of the fight. It made a very satisfying smack-sound.

I heard sirens approaching fast. The alarm must have finally drawn the police. I knew I couldn’t stay. That part of my life was gone now, replaced by something similar, but decidedly different. Such was the life I was now forced to lead. I quickly climbed for height and glided away.

That night… that night, I’d done some good, but I’d also been very, very lucky. Too many things had almost gone wrong, things which could have just as easily ended my life. If I wanted to keep this up, if I truly wanted this, then I had to get better.

I owed someone an apology.

It had been maybe two hours since I’d stormed off, but Hudson was right where I had left him, waiting for me. “Listen, Hudson,” I started.

“Enjoy your break, lass?” he asked, the slightest smile suggesting he’d known I’d be back.

I couldn’t help but smile just a bit too. “Let’s say it was therapeutic,” I said.

We got back to work. And we never did speak of my little “break” to anyone else.
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Elisa Maza

February 2011

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