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"Cross my heart…"

"…And hope to die."

Tears were hot in my eyes as I stumbled home from the clock tower. I couldn't believe it. I'd tried to warn Derek. I'd told him countless times to not trust Xanatos, and yet he still did. Now he'd paid for that trust. And the price had been far too high. What was I going to tell our parents? What was I going to do?!

I finally made it to my apartment and opened the door, fumbling with the key for almost a full two minutes before I managed to unlock it. My eyes were too clouded by tears for me to see anything clearly as I walked into the apartment, closing the door behind me. Sobbing, I managed to make it to the couch before I curled up and gave in to my tears for the second time tonight.

My brother, Derek, had been transformed into what Xanatos was calling a "mutate." This just hurt me more than I could say. Derek had been a cop, like me, up until last winter. Then he'd become an employee of David Xanatos. I hated Xanatos with a passion, which was why Derek thought I was trying to keep him from working for Xanatos. That wasn't it entirely. As Derek's older sister, I wanted to protect him from guys like his new boss. I know it wasn't exactly a rational way of thinking, but that was just how it worked out for me. I couldn't just turn my back on the idea of Derek working for the one man I hated more than anything else. It also didn't help that I was secretly dating Xanatos' personal assistant.

Owen…thinking of him made my heart ache more. He had to have known what Xanatos planned for my brother. He just had to; and he didn't think it was a good idea to tell me about it. Owen was Xanatos' shadow and his right-hand man. He knew everything about everything that happened in Xanatos Enterprises, so how could he not know about Derek? Another sob wracked my body and I curled up into a tighter ball.

It was all my fault. If I had tried harder, convinced Derek to leave Xanatos' employ, then maybe this whole night could have been prevented. Maybe; I guess I would never know for sure.

Looking up as my cat, Cagney, meowed pitifully, reminding me that I hadn't fed him yet, I tried to force myself to stand. I didn't want to move right now, though. All I wanted was to disappear into the ground and never have to face the world again. I couldn't tell my family what had happened to Derek. They'd never believe me, and worst of all Derek would hate me for it. He and I had already been far too mad at one another far too often in the weeks and months leading up to now as it was. The last thing I needed was for him to never want to speak to me again.

After listening to Cagney's meowing for a few more minutes, I finally willed myself into an upright position and towards the kitchen. But all thoughts of feeding my cat flew right out the window when I saw the envelopes on the kitchen table. I recognized Owen's handwriting on them instantly and for one wild moment I was tempted to burn them without reading them. Thankfully that moment passed and I was able to open the smaller envelope. It was a note from Owen, and for once his handwriting was not as crisp and perfect as it usually was.

Elisa,
Before you decide to hate me for what has happened to your brother, I swear that I knew nothing about Xanatos' plans for Derek. Had I known, I would have done everything in my power to stop them. Please believe me. I would never wish this sort of pain and anguish upon you, and I will do everything that I can to try and fix this. Don't hold this against me, Elisa. I love you and I promise that I will fix this somehow.

In the second envelope is all the information that you will need on the project leading to your brother's unfortunate transformation. I would highly recommend that you use this to discretely begin an investigation into the work of one Anton Sevarius and his connection with David Xanatos. Preferably without mentioning where you got the information from.

If you wish, I will be there to see you this afternoon, once I have finished my business at the castle.

All my love,
O.

Tears once more clouded my vision as I read and reread the note, trying to make sense of everything that had happened in the last twenty-four hours. Finally, I turned my attention to the files that Owen had sent me and began reading through them. I didn't notice how much time had passed as I read until there was a brisk knock at the door to my apartment. Glancing at the clock, I was amazed to see that it was after three. I had been reading for hours. Probably better than sitting and sulking, but still--

I stood and made my way to the door, only remembering that Owen had said he would stop by after I opened the door to see him there. As I looked at the man who I was in love with, I didn't know how to react to his presence. I noted that he had a box of chocolates in hand--his usual gift when he knew he'd screwed something up--and his eyes were filled with pleading as he looked at me.

With a sob, I threw myself into his arms, clutching at his jacket and burying my face in his chest. I didn't care that we were right in the hallway outside my apartment, where anyone could see, and I didn't care that I was making a fool out of myself. All that mattered was that Owen was here, comforting me, and that he didn't have anything to do with what happened to Derek. I felt his arms wrap around me and sobbed even more. Finally, when I felt like I couldn't cry anymore, I pulled away and wiped my eyes.

"Sorry," I muttered as I stepped aside to let him in. I waited for a moment as he stared at me expectantly before I rolled my eyes. "Come on in. You know you're welcome here anytime, Owen."

"Yes," Owen said as he walked in, placing his offering of chocolates on the table by the files he had sent me. "But asking permission is the polite thing to do."

I rolled my eyes again, this time with a slight smile. That was one of the things that had made me fall for Owen in the first place; he was an old-fashioned gentleman. Not something you see much of these days, sadly. Once he had put down the box in his hand, I found myself gathered into his arms again, his head resting on top of mine as I buried my face in his shirt. This; this was what I needed.

"It's all my fault," I said in a broken voice. "If I'd just convinced him to leave--"

"Shh, my love," Owen murmured soothingly, stroking my hair fondly and holding me close. "You did everything that you could. And I promise that I will search for a way to reverse your brother's transformation." I glanced up to see Owen set his jaw in determination. "I will have to be discrete, and it may take time--"

But he would try. That was the important thing to me. Taking his face in my hands with a weak smile, I softly pressed my lips to his to show my gratitude. I knew, in the back of my mind, that I shouldn't be sulking about what had happened to my brother. Hell, I shouldn't even be trying to distract myself with Owen, but the latter was a far more productive option and I was going to distract myself with abandon.

Owen responded to the kiss softly, his arms tightening ever so slightly around me as the kiss slowly deepened into something more passionate. I don't remember when we got onto the couch, and I could care less. As I pulled out of the kiss, I sighed and rested my head on Owen's shoulder, closing my eyes to try and block out all the images of my brother's new form. It wasn't easy, but feeling Owen's steady heartbeat beneath my hand did help.

I took a deep breath, letting Owen's familiar citrusy scent wash over me as I curled up closer to his side and idly traced patterns on the fabric of his shirt. Owen and I had been together for over a year now and we hadn't slept together. Not even before our break up when the Gargoyles were first woken from their stone sleep. This was probably a horrible time for me to be thinking about that, but I couldn't help it. Owen was a handsome man, and I'd have to be dead to not think so. I wanted us to take our relationship to the next level, physically, but this was probably not the time for that.

At least, that was what my rational mind was telling me. My not-so-rational mind, on the other hand, was shouting for me to just tackle Owen right now. What better way to distract myself from Derek and the misery that I was feeling?

I glanced up at Owen's face to see him giving me a concerned look, his sure fingers softly brushing my hair away from my face. "Elisa? What is it?" he asked quietly.

My throat tightened a little, making it impossible for me to speak. So I kissed him again. This time it wasn't a slow, quiet kiss, but a desperate one, with an edge of need to it. Owen seemed to pick up on this and responded firmly, one hand tangling in my hair as I slowly moved my own hands to try and push off his suit jacket.

"Are you certain, my love?" Owen asked quietly as he pulled away to help me with his jacket.

In answer, I moved to straddle his lap, firmly meeting his gaze. "I need to distract myself, Owen," I said in explanation. "And I've wanted this for a while. So please, don't ask me again."

I slowly pulled off Owen's glasses and couldn't help but admire his eyes with a smile. He had gorgeous, pale blue eyes that were absolutely breathtaking without his glasses on. Leaning down, I kissed him again, my fingers slowly working to undo his tie.

We spent the afternoon tangled up in each other, finally dozing off on the couch, wrapped in each other's arms with a blanket lazily pulled over us and our clothes scattered on the floor. While I was certainly distracted, not even the blissful quiet as Owen and I drifted off to sleep could keep the dark thoughts and guilt about Derek at bay. But for those few hours alone with Owen, I tried to push that to the back of my mind.

I'd figure out what to do to help Derek later. Cross my heart, and hope to die.