“Maza, can I speak with you in my office?”
Elisa turned from her desk to see Captain Chavez standing at the edge of the bullpen. She shared a confused look with Matt before getting up and following her superior into her office. When she had, Chavez closed the door, moving to sit behind her desk.
“Have a seat, Maza.”
Warily, Elisa sat down, running through a list of things she could be in trouble for, “Is everything alright, Captain?”
“You tell me.” Chavez tossed a newspaper on the desk in front of Elisa. She picked it up and read the headline out loud.
“‘Xanatos’ Mistress: Is She Really New York’s Finest?’ This is crazy! Have you read this?”
“I have, and that’s why I’m so concerned,” Chavez said. She leaned forward and pointed to the picture accompanying the article - Elisa leaving Xanatos Tower with her collar propped up, as if trying to hide her face, “You’ve been going there for months, at times when Fox is known to be elsewhere. Elisa, I don’t meddle in the personal lives of my subordinates, but if you are having an affair with Xanatos-”
“I’m going to stop you right there,” Elisa insisted, throwing down the paper, “this is just ridiculous! That picture is from a windy day - I was trying to keep dust out of my face. And I swear on my life, I’m not having any sort of affair, and especially not with Xanatos.”
Chavez looked at her for a moment before sighing and leaning back in her chair, “Alright, I believe you. But why are you at Xanatos’ so often? I thought you hated him.”
“I did,” Elisa said, “and I can’t tell you why I’m there. It’s private.”
“Elisa,” Chavez said quietly, leaning forward, “I’m trying to help you. This will be the big story for the next week, and could lead to some problems. If you have a valid reason as to why you’re seen so often at Xanatos Tower so long after working hours, then we can release a statement.”
Elisa sighed, shaking her head, “If I told you, you would rather people think I’m having the affair.”
Chavez’s eyes narrowed in suspicion, “Elisa, I have given you good rein. If you are doing something even slightly illegal-”
“Of course not!” Elisa said quickly, “It’s just that people might not... agree with it.”
Elisa sighed again, slumping in her seat, “Alright. Xanatos harbours...my brother.”
“He harbours your brother?” Chavez asked with a raised eyebrow.
“Yes,” Elisa said, knowing she couldn’t tell her boss about the gargoyles, “he works as Xanatos’ personal bodyguard. He flies his chopper and he’s pretty much always with him, so he lives with Xanatos.”
“So you’ve been visiting him?” Chavez asked.
“Yeah,” Elisa replied, “he’s not really supposed to leave without Xanatos, so he’s allowed to have visits. Xanatos isn’t as terrible as he used to be.”
Chavez hummed in thought, “Right…. I see. Well, I can see how you would be wary to tell me – any ties to Xanatos are bad ties. Why is your brother working for him?”
“He trusts Xanatos,” Elisa said, “and he treats him well. I’m not saying Xanatos is a saint, but he’s not so bad. Shady, sure, but not evil.”
“Which is why we can’t have people thinking you’re his mistress,” Chavez said, “this is mostly chatter, but if it’s not dealt with properly, it could turn into accusations. Accusations that could cost you your job.”
Elisa nodded and her heart sank. She really was in deep.
“Lay low,” Chavez said, “and don’t talk to any press. You’re going on paid leave until this is dealt with so you don’t have to be seen in the streets. I’ll do what I can to defend you without fanning the flames. You’re a good detective Maza, one I can’t afford to lose. Not with your arrest rates.”
Chavez smiled waved her hand.
“You’re dismissed, Maza.”
“Thank you, Captain,” Elisa said as she got up.
“Anytime, Maza. Oh, and one more thing.”
Elisa turned around, her hand on the doorknob, to see Chavez looking at her sternly, “Have you had any interaction with the gargoyles?”
Elisa’s heart stopped beating and her lungs seemed to break down and all she could get out was a “Why?”
“Being seen with the gargoyles would only dig you a deeper hole,” Chavez explained, “Even implications are serious.”
“I have seen them a few times,” Elisa said carefully, “but I would hardly call them friends. We know each other in passing - they’re the nice monsters who live on Xanatos tower, and I’m the nice girl whose brother works for their landlord.”
“Have they ever helped you on a case?”
“Yes,” Elisa said, “but not really. Sometimes I’ll find muggers or B&E’s knocked out for me, tied up with steel and having nightmares about monsters. But they never stick around long enough for me to thank them.”
“Probably a good thing. Your relationship with the gargoyles remains a secret, understand?” Chavez said, far more serious than usual, “If word gets out you’re friends with them and have been using them in your arrests - your career may very well be over.”
Elisa nodded, a lump in her throat. As she left, Elisa decided that there was a certain someone she needed to talk to.
“So, I’m guessing you read the article?”
The smugness in Xanatos’ voice made Elisa scowl, obvious even over the phone, “Of course I have - but not before my boss blindsided me with it! We had to come up with a press release!”
“Did you now?” Xanatos did not hide the grin in his voice, “And what did you decide to say?”
“That my brother lives with you and I visit a lot.”
Xanatos laughed, “Smart.”
“I saw you didn’t comment anything.”
“No need,” Xanatos said, “simply a wild rumour with no basis. Why would I comment?”
“Fair enough,” Elisa said with a sigh, “but I have been advised to stay away for a couple of days, at least until this dies down. Would you mind telling the clan?”
Xanatos chuckled, “They already know. Goliath saw the article before I could talk to him and nearly ripped my door off its hinges.”
“I didn’t think he would be happy,” Elisa huffed.
“Yes, he has quite the temper. Anyways, I believe he’ll be heading to where you are any moment now.”
“I’m sure,” Elisa said, shifting the phone to the other ear, “well, glad we had this chat. Remember - I’m visiting Derek.”
“Of course,” Xanatos said sweetly, “I’ve still been paying him, so the paperwork is there.”
“Let’s just hope they don’t ask him for a comment,” Elisa mumbled.
“I’ll figure something out. Stay in touch, Miss Maza.” The line clicked, signalling the end of the call. Elisa sighed again and put down the phone, shaking her head.
She was not entirely surprised that this was circling - she had been spending a lot of her time at Xanatos Tower, but it was to see the gargoyles, not to be a part of some wild celebrity affair. In her mind, she wondered how many times she had gone there but had been flown home. She had even started a habit of taking a taxi or other public transport, because Goliath often took her home himself, and she hated having to go and get her car the next day. So that certainly didn’t help. All the times paparazzi might have seen her go in but not come out. Her frequent visits. Her familiarity with the staff. The fact that she was allowed to roam the tower as she wanted. Her allowance to Xanatos’ living spaces. That she was really only allowed all this after Fox had married Xanatos.
Yeah. Not great.
A knock at her window caused her to turn around and she smiled when she saw a familiar silhouette. She walked over and unlocked the window, allowing Goliath in.
“How are you doing?” He asked carefully.
“As well as one would expect when accused of being a mistress,” Elisa teased.
“Elisa,” Goliath said with a frown, “I am worried.”
“Why?” She asked, smiling, “It’s alright - just gossip. It’s annoying, sure, and I have to stay away for a bit. But this will all go away soon.”
“It is disrespectful,” he growled, “to say such lies about you, dragging your name through the mud.”
Elisa shrugged, moving to her kitchen to make dinner, “Magazines love drama like this. In a week some movie star will get pregnant or have a divorce or get caught eating a meatball sub and I’ll be forgotten. I just have to lay low.”
“You seem unperturbed by this,” Goliath noted, following her to stand on the opposite side of the counter.
“Oh, I’m very perturbed by this,” Elisa said, searching through her fridge, “but it is what it is. I’m a nobody, and I’ll be forgotten in a month, tops. And if Xanatos says anything about this to the public, it’ll only fan the flames. The best way to deal with this is to not. Also, I’ll probably make nachos - beef or chicken?”
“Beef,” Goliath answered, “but still, I do not understand…. What the humans say about us is based in fear - it hurts, but I can comprehend. But this lust for gossip and lies, none of it is true and people adore it!”
“I don’t really get it either,” Elisa admitted, “but humans love gossip. I’m guilty of it, we all are. Part of why I like you guys so much is because you never gossip about who’s dating who, or whether Brad was seen with Julie when he blew off Melanie but Melanie wants to date Brad’s brother Doug, blah blah blah.”
“That seems complicated.”
“That was all last week,” Elisa said with a laugh as she poured tortilla chips into a cooking pan and spread them out, “And that was the simple version. I have to admit, I’m pretty jealous of you guys because there’s no petty rivalries or revenge tactics or whole dramas about who dates who. It’s nice.”
“Back when there were more of us,” Goliath said, “there was some... drama, as you would say. Not much, but sometimes two gargoyles would mate and a third gargoyle would be jealous.”
“Like with Coldstone,” Elisa remembered, “but is there any break-up drama?”
“You know,” Elisa said, putting cheese out and putting the beef in a pan on the stove to fry, “like when you end a relationship, you break up.”
Goliath frowned, “Such a concept is not known to gargoyles. We mate for life.”
Elisa froze, “What?”
“Yes,” Goliath said slowly, “gargoyles are extremely loyal, we typically only love one. Have I not told you this?”
“Must not have,” Elisa said, kinda shaken, “what about Demona? You broke up with her.”
Goliath shook his head, “She became a murderer and then tried to kill me and my clan. After that, I assumed I would never love again.”
Goliath walked over to Elisa, who was staring at the unfinished nachos. He put a gentle hand on her shoulder and turned her around to face him.
“I am sorry,” he said softly, “I should not have told you this now, when you are so preoccupied with this...gossip. I appreciate that human customs are not our own - that my customs are not yours.”
“It’s alright,” Elisa assured, taking Goliath’s hand and holding it, examining it, “it is a bit surprising but, well, even with humans there are only two outcomes to a relationship, either it ends or it doesn’t. And I don’t see myself with anybody but you, Goliath. I love you.”
He smiled down at her, ”I love you too.”
Elisa stretched up on her toes, gently grabbing Goliath’s face with her hands. He leaned down and placed his hands on her waist as they kissed. Elisa backed up without breaking the kiss and felt the edge of the counter press into her back. With ease, Goliath leaned back, grinned, and lifted Elisa onto the counter.
“Do I weigh anything to you?” She teased.
“It’s like holding a bunch of grapes,” he said before kissing her again. She wrapped her arms around his neck and let herself be totally absorbed in the moment.
Soon, Goliath pulled back with a scowl, “What is that smell?”
Elisa was immediately defensive, but then she smelt it too, like fat burning. She gasped.
For the next few days, Elisa did her best to lay low. As an unknown cop on the nightshift who had never been exposed to real press before, this was fairly easy. She found it very annoying that she could not visit Xanatos and the clan. One night, they had flown over to her apartment at different intervals so as not to be spotted or suspected. However, once Hudson had arrived with Bronx, it became very crowded. Elisa’s apartment was built for two people to live in with up to ten people to be in, but six gargoyles and a beast was a bit too much.
“Out!” She cried when Bronx knocked over a vase of flowers her mother had gotten her (a small comfort in the shitstorm of her media exposure), “Get out!”
“Aw, he didn’t mean it,” Angela said as Broadway patted Bronx.
“I know,” Elisa said, annoyed, “but I need my space. My apartment isn’t big enough to comfortably host a gargoyle clan. And honestly, I could use some comfort right now.”
“Betcha Goliath doesn’t have to leave,” Lexington mumbled to Brooklyn.
“We will all go,” Goliath said firmly, “Elisa is right. She respects our privacy and we need to respect hers. Hudson, take Bronx and Broadway. We will clean up here and then Lexington, Angela, and Brooklyn will leave. I will follow shortly after them.”
“I’ll wait with you” Angela said, “Elisa, where is a broom?”
“Don’t worry about it,” Elisa said with a sigh as the first three took off, “I’ll get it.”
“Please,” Angela said, “you said you needed comfort.”
“Okay,” Elisa said with a smile, “front closet.”
Angela smiled at her and then went to get the broom.
“I hope this is over soon,” Brooklyn said, “it’s so frustrating that you can’t come to the tower.”
“And you’re sure we can’t fly you there?” Lexington offered.
Goliath shook his head, “Elisa cannot be seen anywhere near Xanatos Tower. If something happens and she is seen-”
“Let’s just say fraternizing with gargoyles and being a multi-billionaire’s mistress in one week would be the end of my career,” Elisa finished, “I’m not even working, keeping a low profile. The most public place I’ve been to in the last week has been the grocery store. Even that was a hassle.”
“What happened?” Lexington asked.
“The lady at the counter recognized me from an article in the magazine at the counter,” Elisa said with a sigh, “She gave me some weird looks and started asking annoying questions, so I guess I’ll have to find a new grocer until this mess is over.”
“I hope it ends soon,” Lexington said, “maybe we can talk to Fox and organize some publicity stunt to take away attention?”
“Nah, she’s the one whose husband is supposedly having a mistress, right?” Brooklyn pointed out, “It would just make it even more suspicious if she’s trying to draw attention away from the whole thing.”
“So we just lay low,” Goliath said firmly, “all of us. We need to be seen with Elisa as little as possible. With all of the attention on her, the Quarrymen might notice more.”
“Right, so we should go,” Lexington said, tugging at Brooklyn’s arm, “see you guys at the castle.”
They waved goodbye as they jumped onto the balcony and soared off. Angela picked up the mess and went to the garbage.
“There, all cleaned up.”
“Thank you Angela,” Elisa said.
“It’s the least I can do,” Angela replied as she put away the broom, “I can’t imagine what you must be feeling right now.”
“Mostly frustration,” Elisa admitted, “I think I need to get away from the public. Maybe I should go to my parents’ place for a while.”
“I think that's a good idea,” Goliath agreed, “will you call Xanatos when you arrive?”
“Of course. I wouldn’t want you to worry.”
Goliath smiled at her before Angela noticed a familiar colouring on the horizon.
“Goliath, we need to leave.”
Goliath nodded and kissed Elisa quickly before exiting with his daughter. She waved at them as they glided back to the castle, locking the balcony door behind them. She sighed and stretched, Cagney coming out of hiding in her bedroom.
“I think it’s time for me to sleep,” Elisa said, “don’t you think?”
Just then, there was a knock at the door. Elisa sighed and walked over, noticing a note on the floor. Curiously, she picked it up, seeing it was a series of cut out words and letters from magazines.
YOU BROKE MY HEART
I STILL LOVE YOU, AND I’LL MAKE YOU SEE YOU LOVE ME TOO, NO MATTER WHAT IT TAKES. XANATOS DOESN’T DESERVE YOU.
On the back, there was another picture of Elisa leaving Xanatos Tower, with Owen Bennett walking her to her car. She cringed. Yeah, having Xanatos’ personal assistant walk her to her car didn’t look great.
Elisa sighed as she went to her stand by the door and put the letter in the drawer with the others. She had gotten a few other letters like this, and she mostly suspected her neighbours. Madame Dubé had always disliked her for some reason, and she had definitely written at least one of the letters. At first she had been scared, but she was a detective. She knew that most threats were empty. This last one was so cliché and silly, she couldn’t make herself care.
“C’mon Cagney,” Elisa said, “let’s go to bed.”
The next night, Elisa packed her bags. She had already called her parents and Angela had agreed to drop in and feed Cagney while she was gone. Elisa was a little embarrassed that she was running back to her parents, but it allowed for some reprieve.
She hefted her bag and sighed as she did, looking around her apartment and trying to remember if she forgot anything. Deciding that if she had, she could come back, she left and locked her door behind her.
“Mr. Xanatos,” Owen said, knocking on the door to Alex’s nursery where Fox was playing with him, Xanatos watching, “it’s the Maza household.”
Xanatos nodded and took the phone.
“Elisa,” he said winningly, “glad you called. The clan was starting to worry.”
“She’s not there?” An unfamiliar female voice answered, sounding worried, “I thought she would be here by now, and I was wondering if she had stopped by….”
“No,” Xanatos said, stepping out of the room, Owen following closely, “she hasn’t been here - we agreed she would stay away until this all died down. And to whom am I speaking?”
“Elisa’s mother,” the woman said, “and I know she’s supposed to stay away but I thought - oh I don’t know.”
“Well, Mrs. Maza,” Xanatos tried, “I wouldn’t worry. It is busy traffic right now, and I’m sure she’s on her way. I’ll send Goliath and Angela over to her place, alright?”
“Thank you,” Mrs. Maza said, “have them call me when they're there, Elisa has our number by her phone.”
“Of course,” Xanatos said as the line ended. He shot a worried look at Owen, who took the phone gravely, “Can you do a tracking spell?”
Owen nodded, “I can teach Alex, but it would take some time, and I would need something personal of Elisa’s.”
“I have a bad feeling we’ll need that spell.”
“Understood.” Owen turned around and went back into the nursery. Xanatos sighed and knew he would be better off telling the gargoyles sooner rather than later.
When he got to the tv room in the castle, he found Broadway and Hudson sat in front of it, as well as Bronx at their feet.
“Where is everyone?”
“Out on the parapets,” Hudson answered, not looking away from the tv, “too anxious to go out on patrol until we hear from Elisa. I assume she made it home safe, of course.”
“That has yet to be determined,” Xanatos admitted, “her mother called and said she hadn’t come home yet.”
Hudson and Broadway frowned at each other, “We best go tell the others.”
Brooklyn was the first to notice them arrive, sitting on the edge of the parapet. He tapped Goliath, who had been pacing back and forth. He stopped and looked at Xanatos expectantly.
He shook his head, “Her mother called, she’s not home yet. I said I would send you and Angela to check out her apartment and see if she was still home.”
Goliath had hardly finished hearing what Xanatos had to say before leaping off the building and soaring into the night.
Angela shared a worried look with her clan before following suit, catching up to her father quick enough.
“I’m sure she was just late getting home from work,” Angela suggested, “We know she’s taken detours to avoid the press.”
“Hmm.” Goliath’s face was creased with worry, and Angela would be lying if she said she wasn’t worried too. They had all done more dangerous things than go from home to another place of residence, but with all of the attention on Elisa, they had grown nervous. Elisa, being a very good detective, had many enemies. Her being in the spotlight could not have helped her safety.
As they got close to her building, Angela recognized a familiar red car.
“Look!” She cried, “There’s her car! She must still be home!”
“Then we should see what is taking her so long,” Goliath suggested, flying down to her balcony. Angela reached for the handle and pulled, but the door was locked and it looked like all the lights were shut off.
“That’s weird,” she mumbled, “she never locks it when she’s home.”
“Here,” Goliath said, retrieving a spare key from her flowerpot. Angela looked at him with an odd sort of expression, “Sometimes we need to get in and she forgets to keep it unlocked,” he explained before putting it in the lock and turning it, opening the door and turning on the lights.
As soon as they stepped in, Cagney came prancing up to them, purring as she rubbed against their legs.
“Elisa?” Angela called, but no answer.
Goliath walked over to her bathroom and knocked, waited, and then opened the door. Empty.
He tried in her bedroom and Angela went to the front door, frowning when she noticed something.
“Father, her door is locked.”
He walked over to the front door and realized his daughter was correct - the latch was set but the chain lock was open, which most likely meant it had been locked from the outside.
“Maybe she’s still in the building?” Angela suggested, trying to remain cheerful, “We might’ve just missed her.”
Goliath hummed in thought before going over to the land line and dialling a familiar number. Angela hovered nearby, listening.
“Hello?” Matt’s voice crackled, “Elisa? I thought you would be at your parents’ house by now.”
“It’s Goliath,” he said, “Elisa isn’t here, and she’s not at her parents, and I would assume she’s not with you.”
“No,” Matt replied, “I haven’t seen her since we got some coffee around 3. You really can’t find her?”
Goliath shook his head and then remembered that Matt couldn’t see him, “No. We were hoping she was just late.”
“No,” Matt said, sounding increasingly worried, “not late. How does her apartment look?”
“Doors were locked, lights were off. No one here but myself and Angela.”
“Is her car there?”
“I’ll be over as soon as possible, stay there.”
Goliath hung up the phone and Angela gave him a worried look.
Before she could say anything, Goliath picked up a piece of paper, “We should call her parents.”
Sometime after, a knock came at the door. Goliath got up from the couch, Angela sitting with Cagney in her lap. He looked through the peephole to see Matt and opened the door for him.
“It’s not looking good,” he admitted, “I talked to the doorman and he says he saw Elisa leave to go get her car, and it’s definitely her car that’s still there. Oh, and I found this pinned on the door.”
He reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a piece of paper with letters cut out from magazines and newspapers. Goliath took it and read it.
IF YOU EVER WANT TO SEE YOUR MISTRESS AGAIN, YOU WILL HAVE $1 MILLION READY FOR ME AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. I WILL SEND PIECES OF HER HAIR, PHOTOS, AND VIDEOS AS PROOF SHE IS ALIVE. ABSOLUTE DEADLINE IS FRIDAY AT MIDNIGHT. NO FUNNY BUSINESS, OR SHE PAYS.
Goliath roared and was about to rip the letter to shreds before Matt wrenched it away from him.
“Hey!” He protested, “This is evidence! You’re lucky you don’t have real fingerprints, otherwise this would be useless.”
“What’s wrong?” Angela asked.
“Elisa has been kidnapped,” Goliath growled, his eyes aglow, “and I will tear apart the bastard who did it.”
“Wakey wakey sunshine.”
A bright light turned the inside of Elisa’s eyelids red and her eyes squinted open. She found her neck sore and when she tried to move, found that ropes bound her to a wooden chair.
“Hey!” She protested, “What the hell is this?”
“Revenge,” an eerily familiar voice crooned, “sweet, sweet revenge. Now, you’re on camera! Smile for Mr. Xanatos!”
Elisa squinted and saw that in front of the light was in fact a video camera, and someone holding it.
“This isn’t going to work,” Elisa said, trying to sound tired. To be honest, she was mostly frustrated, but she was a little scared.
“Can’t I have a little more?” The voice pleaded, “C’mon, you’ve made a famous TV star, mother, and happy wife into a cuckold! How does that feel?”
“For the millionth time this week,” Elisa spat, “Xanatos and I are not a thing!”
“Don’t worry, this isn’t going public,” the voice said, “yet. For now, I’ll send this to Xanatos as proof you’re still alive. Now can I maybe get a ‘please mr. Xanatos, save me!’ or a ‘oh help me I’ll do anything’?”
Elisa stared right into the camera, “Goliath, I’ll be fine, don’t worry about me. Tell Matt I left my wallet on the front steps.”
“Well, that’s not very cinematic,” the voice huffed, “but I feel like that’s all I’m going to get out of you. That’s a wrap!”
The bright light shut off and Elisa squinted her eyes shut, trying to ignore the stinging. After a couple of seconds, she opened her eyes and let them adjust.
It looked like she was in a basement, and a dingey one at that. There was a small window to her right with bars on it, looking onto grass. Around her was a bunch of amateur photography equipment, as well as a table near her. The man was still standing behind the tripod of the camera and as her eyes adjusted, he looked more and more familiar. He was tall and kind of scrawny-looking, but it was obvious he was well-muscled too. He had scars all over his arms and the top of a pocket knife jutted out of his jeans front pocket.
“Trying to figure out who I am?” He asked with a smirk, glancing up from the camera, “I’ll give you a hint - you broke up with me a month before prom.”
“Wait…” Elisa said, remembering her long-term boyfriend in senior year, “Liam?”
Liam grinned, “Yeah! You remembered! I was afraid you would forget!”
“What the hell is all of this?” Elisa demanded, “Why are you doing this?”
Liam shrugged, “You broke my heart, Elisa. I had already promposed and gotten everything for prom, most of which was non-refundable, by the way. I was going to actually propose to you during the big dance. But then you ended it before I could, and I still have the ring. It’s what’s kept me going all this time.”
“Liam,” Elisa said, exasperated, “that was over ten years ago! We were kids, and dumb, and we didn’t know what we were doing.”
“I did!” Liam snapped, “I knew exactly what I was doing! I knew you were the girl for me, and I was the boy for you, but you didn’t know that yet. I was in love with you Elisa Maza, and I still am!”
“How romantic of you,” Elisa noted, “to kidnap me and tie me up in a basement.”
“I had to,” Liam explained, putting a lens on the camera and walking to the table, “what you did was unacceptable. I had hoped that, over time, you would realize you were wrong and come back for me, and we could be together. But now, you’re just the mistress of some billionaire crook! He’s an evil man, Elisa. I had to take you away from that, for the good of both of us.”
“You’re crazy!” Elisa spat.
“I’m really not,” Liam said sadly, picking up something blue and silver and walking over, “I just wish you could see that. Don’t worry, you’ll understand soon enough, I’m sure.”
He was next to Elisa, took a small clump of hair, and snipped off the bottom. Then he lifted it to his nose and took a deep breath.
“Oh!” He said with a smile, “A new shampoo! Smells like roses and vanilla! I like it, but I liked the old one better.”
“A girl is expected to change her shampoo over ten years,” Elisa said sarcastically.
“I guess so!” Liam said cheerfully, putting the hair in a plastic ziplock baggie, “A lot can change in that time, but not my heart. I love you, Elisa Maza.”
“You need to get a life.”
Liam sighed and grabbed his camera, “I know you still love me, deep down. Oh, and by the way, who is Goliath?”
“Someone who I hope has enough sense to spare your life,” Elisa mumbled, remembering all of the times she had been in danger and how Goliath had reacted. She doubted her assurance in the video would be worth much.
“I’m not too worried,” Liam admitted with a smile, “I’m heading up to bed now - it’s been a crazy night! See you in the morning, sweetheart!”
With that, Liam climbed the stairs. 10 of them. The shut of a door. Three locks. Elisa sighed and slumped in her chair. Looked like she was going to be there awhile.
The sun had hardly set when Goliath stormed into Xanatos’ office, where he was sat at his desk.
“Anything?” Goliath demanded.
Xanatos nodded, throwing several pictures and a small baggie on the table. Goliath picked up the pictures, not bothering with the hair. The pictures were of Elisa, unconscious and tied up to a chair in a dark room. She had a large bruise on the side of her head, but otherwise seemed unharmed.
“He said there would be videos.”
Xanatos nodded and gestured for Goliath to stand behind the desk, so he did. Xanatos typed something into his computer and a video clip showed up. Goliath watched as the lights switched on and Elisa woke up, the voice taunting her as she struggled. It enraged him, so much so that his eyes glowed and he was unable to see, the blood pumping too loud in his ears to hear.
“What does that mean to you?” Xanatos asked.
“What does what mean?” Goliath yelled, “My Lifemate kidnaped and trapped? Or the taunts made by the criminal?”
“No,” Xanatos said calmly, “I meant when she mentioned you and Matt by name, then said she left her wallet on the front steps. Does that mean anything to you?”
“I...I believe so,” Goliath said slowly, calming down, “I know Elisa keeps her wallet in a pocket on the inside of her jacket, and it could not have fallen out.”
“Perhaps we should call Matt,” Xanatos suggested, “and see if they found a wallet at the scene. He did say she was taken on the front steps.”
“Yeah,” Matt confirmed when they called, “I have it here, and it’s definitely hers. We actually didn’t see it the first time because it was in one of the potted plants at the curb. Pretty lucky, considering that if it had been anywhere else, it would probably be long gone.”
“Not lucky,” Goliath said, “smart. Elisa must have wanted us to find it - she told me to talk to you about the wallet.”
“Wait,” Matt said angrily, “you talked to Elisa without me?”
“Unfortunately no,” Xanatos said, speaking loudly to be heard, as he was farther away from the phone, looking at papers by the window, “The kidnapper sent us several pictures, some hair, and a video. It was in the video that she spoke to Goliath.”
“I see.” Matt sounded deflated now, “Anyways, what do you want me to do with the wallet?”
“I think we need to have it,” Goliath said, “it may be important.”
“Alright,” Matt said with a sigh, “it won’t be easy to get them to let me hold onto this, but I should be able to pull it off. I’ll call you guys after my shift, but I gotta go.”
They all said their goodbyes before there was a click, signalling the end of the call.
“I think we need to talk to Owen,” Xanatos said after a moment, putting his papers down with a sigh, “he said he might be able to teach Alex a sort of tracking spell, but he needed something personal of Elisa’s.”
“What kind of personal?” Goliath asked.
“Something that has emotional value,” Puck’s teasing voice said as he materialized in between Goliath and Xanatos, startling them both. He hovered in the air, Alex giggling in his arms as he played with him.
“Emotional value?” Xanatos asked, “I thought it might be something like some hair or other DNA samples.”
“Sure,” Puck replied with a shrug, “I need that too, but I knew we would get her hair. The real magic comes from emotion.”
To demonstrate his point, he made a face and Alex laughed loudly, glitter raining down upon them before fading away.
“I see,” Xanatos said, unable to hide his smile, “so, Goliath, is there something we can use? Maybe in her wallet?”
“Yes!” Goliath realized, “In her wallet is a picture- she said it was taken at Christmas when she was a child. She looks at it often and keeps it close to her heart - literally in a pocket near her heart. She told me it is one of her greatest treasures.”
“That would do quite nicely,” Puck said with a grin, “we get that photo, we find Elisa.”
“We must not wait for Matt,” Goliath insisted, “we have to retrieve the photo immediately!”
“Hold your horses there, buckaroo,” Puck said, flying closer to Goliath, “this is a spell that isn’t done in a moment, especially by a beginner.”
“You managed to turn all of New York into gargoyles!” Goliath argued, “Us into humans and altered our memories! The vision you created of that future for the Phoenix Gate, turning Demona human in the day - that is powerful magic and was done in moments!”
“Yes,” Puck said with annoyance, “but I’ve had centuries to practice my magic. The only way I can do magic is if I’m protecting or teaching Alex.”
“What about right now?’ Goliath growled.
Puck shrugged, “I’m teaching him how to fly and protecting him from boredom and the cold hard ground. I can find some loopholes, but not all the time.”
“How long will this take?” Goliath demanded.
Puck hummed in thought before turning to Alex, “Alex, what is the shape of the moon tonight?”
Alex scrunched up his little baby face and waved his tiny arms, creating a blurry image of the moon, almost at its midpoint.
“Good boy, Alex!” Puck praised before looking at Goliath sadly, “Sorry, Goliath. It’ll take about three days. If it were a full moon, I could do it in one. But it’s only half, so half the power.”
Goliath scowled, “Do you need the picture to start it?”
Puck shook his head, “No, it’s actually the final ingredient. I can start the spell tonight with Alex.” Puck then waved his hand and a scroll popped up, hovering in front of Xanatos’ face, “Those are all of the ingredients I need. The ones highlighted are what I need in order to start the spell tonight.”
“Perfect,” Xanatos said, taking the paper, “I’ll make sure we have everything you need. I’ll head out with Owen.”
“Owen will meet you in the nursery,” Puck said, “Toodle-oo!” Then he disappeared in a puff of purple smoke, which soon dissipated.
“It’s a start,” Goliath said with a sigh, “but it’s cutting it close. The deadline was Friday. It is Wednesday, is it not?”
“You are correct, my friend,” Xanatos said, folding up the paper and putting it in a breast pocket, “by the way, I find it awfully convenient that Elisa left something so personal for us to find, even hiding it.”
“I remember her talking to Puck not long after Alex was kidnapped,” Goliath recalled, “she was curious about the tracking spell you had mentioned. I remember around that time she had also become intrigued with the idea that gargoyles do not typically keep personal items.”
“Seems she’s always prepared,” Xanatos said, “Well, in any case, I have to go and meet Owen to get the ingredients for the spell. You can do whatever you like, just try not to be too brash.”
Elisa woke up and her neck felt as stiff as a board. She expected as such, since she was sleeping in a wooden chair, stuck in one position. She looked around and noticed how dark it was. It was obviously past sunset, which had become Elisa’s normal wake up time. She guessed Liam hadn’t thought about her nocturnal tendencies, as there were no lights.
“Hey!” She called out, praying for a response that wasn’t Liam, “Hey! Is anybody there? I need help!”
Soon, the sound of footsteps pounding down stairs reached her ears, then the sound of the door being unlocked three times.
“Elisa!” Liam scolded as he flicked on the light, “What the hell? You’re quiet all day and now you finally wake up?”
“I work the night shift,” Elisa reminded him coldly, “I’m nocturnal. But more importantly, I have to pee, and my neck is stiff as all hell.”
Liam sighed, “Yes, of course. Sorry about that. Gimme a moment.”
He walked around the the back of the chair and cut off the ropes binding Elisa to the chair.
“I hope you won’t try to make a run for it,” Liam said cheerfully as he finished cutting them off, “You know my history in streetfighting, and I have a weapon!”
“Yeah, I remember,” Elisa mumbled as she rubbed her wrists gently, standing up.
“I guess you really liked bad boys!”
Elisa shook her head, “I liked mysterious men, which I thought you were. I realized long ago you were just crazy and hiding it.”
“I would never hide anything from you, Elisa.”
“Oh yeah?” Elisa challenged, “How about the keys to all those locks? Or me - you’re hiding me, aren’t you?”
Liam frowned sadly, “Elisa, love, I told you before - this is for your own good. Xanatos is an evil man, and you know better! I’m trying to save you!”
“What about the ransom?” Elisa asked, “I know there is one.”
“It’s for us,” Liam insisted, “Xanatos will need time to get the million dollars, and by the time he does, you’ll have realized you love me too.”
“Not going to happen,” Elisa spat, “I will never love you, and Xanatos doesn’t negotiate or give out ransoms. Remember when his son was kidnapped?”
“The price was a gargoyle,” Liam said, “and a gargoyle was found. That’s another reason you should stay away, Elisa - the gargoyles! They’re evil creatures, and if you haven’t seen them yet, count yourself lucky.”
“I have seen them,” Elisa said with a scowl, “and they’re not evil, they’re kind and protective. Now, where is the bathroom?”
“There’s one in the corner here,” Liam said, gesturing towards the dark, “do you want something to eat?”
“I can make my own food.”
Liam frowned, “Elisa, I love you, but you know I can’t trust you yet since you don’t want to be here.”
“Well no shit!” Elisa snapped at him, “You kidnapped me and tied me to a chair in your basement!”
Liam sighed, “I know, I’m sorry. Here, you go to the bathroom and wash up - there’s not a shower but there is a sink and some washcloths. I’ll go make some food. I actually need to sleep in the night, so I can make some stuff you can microwave while I’m sleeping, okay?”
Elisa nodded. For the time being, it looked like she was going to have to comply. She hoped that her wallet hadn’t been stolen, and that Goliath and Matt knew what to do with it. She hoped Puck was able to do the spell. She hoped they found her. She hoped her friends and family weren’t too worried. She hoped Goliath wouldn’t carve a bloody path looking for her. Elisa was hoping for a lot.
When Liam went upstairs, she went to the bathroom and turned on the light. The mirror, reflecting the state of the rest of the basement, was covered in grime and dingey. She frowned and used a spare towel to wipe it off, looking at her reflection. She had bags under her eyes, her hair was starting to get greasy and tangled, and there was a large bruise on her head where Liam had knocked her out.
“Just couldn’t have used chloroform like any other crazy kidnapper ex boyfriend,” she mumbled to herself as she combed through her hair. After a few failed attempts, she sighed. She wasn’t trying to look presentable anyways. She remembered how Liam had always been really uptight with personal hygiene so she hoped that if she let herself be gross, he would be less inclined to touch her.
She then had an idea and scoured the bathroom for anything that could used as a weapon, looking for literally anything. In the drawers of the bathroom counter she found a couple of toothbrushes, a hairbrush, hair elastics, shampoo, conditioner, and a women’s razor. She looked at the razor and knew she would have absolutely no use for it - it was only sharp enough to trim surface hair, so she doubted she could use it. She continued looking and found a small plastic baggie filled with bobby pins. Her eyes widened and she quickly stuffed it into a corner of the drawer, hoping to hide it before Liam realized his mistake.
“Elisa~!” Liam’s sing-song voice called from upstairs, “Your breakfast is ready!”
Elisa took a breath and stared at herself in the mirror.
“You can do this,” she told herself firmly, “Goliath will come for you. In the meantime, you’ll do your damndest to get as far away from here as possible and act like the perfect captive. You can do this.”
“Coming!” Elisa called back up. She sighed and turned away, making her way out of the dingey basement and up the stairs.
The first thing she noticed about the house was that it was clean. Every surface shone, everything was dusted, the floors were washed, everything was in pristine condition in the small condo. She guessed it was maybe 700 square feet, with a sitting room around an old tv, a bathroom and a bedroom down the hall.
“I know, I know,” Liam said with a laugh as he set out plates on the counter, “it’s small, and not great, but I make do!”
“You sure do,” Elisa said warily, sitting down at one of the stools at the island.
“Here you go!” Liam said cheerfully as he scooped some eggs onto a plate and slid it in front of Elisa, “Omelet with onions, garlic, red and green peppers, bolognese, bacon, and some herbs - your favourite!”
Elisa ate the food gratefully (Liam was a creep, but he was a hell of a cook), speaking between mouthfuls, “You’re correct, but I still find it extremely disturbing that you have my favourite breakfast food memorized for ten years.”
“We were together two years,” Liam said with a shrug, putting some food in containers, “Surely you remember some of my favourites!”
Elisa sighed and put her fork down, “Ten years, Liam. We’re adults now, we need to move past this.”
“Elisa, you don’t understand,” Liam said gravely, his head hung low and his back to her, “I knew you were the one for me, there was no one else. When you dumped me in the worst way possible, I tried so much to make sense of things. I spent time with so many girls, but none of them could even compare to you. I kept tabs on you for years Elisa, but then it was like you just...disappeared. I guess that’s when you went on the nightshift, about two years ago. When I saw the news about you and Xanatos…” Elisa saw his shoulders tense up, “I knew you were begging for help but didn’t know how. An evil man like that keeping you in his home, it’s just sick. ”
“That’s funny, coming from you.”
Liam whirled around then, a large knife in his hand. He pointed it at Elisa and she stumbled out of her chair, falling on the ground as he screamed at her, walking towards her.
“I’m nothing like that bastard!” He cried, shaking the knife, “I’m a good fucking person and he’s the scum of the earth, using his amazing money to make himself even richer at our expense! Don’t you dare compare me to him!”
After he stopped screaming, Liam stood over her, panting. Then his eyes widened and he sheepishly put the knife down, laughing as if he just told some awkward joke, “Aha, sorry about that! You know how I lose my temper sometimes, and I know it’s not your fault for defending him.He’s brainwashed you, and if I remember, he has your brother captive.” He bent down and took Elisa’s hand, forcefully helping her up. She tried to draw back but he held on tight, “I promise, everything will work out. When Xanatos gives us the million dollars, we’ll be free to run away and get married, just like in high school, yeah?”
He got down on one knee, his one hand still clenching Elisa’s while the other reached into his back pocket and he pulled out a ring, “Elisa Maza, will you marry me?”
Elisa’s heart pounded and her mind raced a mile a second. She tried to choose her words as carefully as possible.
“Oh, Liam… this is so sweet but… I can’t.”
“Why not?” Liam asked, cocking his head to the side, “I love you.”
“But… you kidnapped me. I’m not exactly leaping at the chance to marry my kidnapper.”
Liam chuckled and stood up, putting the ring away, “That’s fair, for now.” He leaned forward for a kiss and Elisa wrenched herself free, backing up. He stared at her, hurt.
“I’m not ready for that.”
“Oh.” Liam seemed dejected, but he smiled sadly, “I understand. I’ll leave you for now, but you’ll soon realize you’re still in love with me, Elisa Maza. And when you do, nothing can keep us apart.”
It was Thursday, and Goliath was getting anxious.
Puck had been working on the spell whenever he could with Alex, and Goliath knew they were on schedule, but he was still worried. Xanatos insisted that he had the money ready and if all else failed, he would pay the ransom.
“Thankfully,” Xanatos informed Goliath when he came into the office after waking up, “we’ve managed to keep the media in the dark. No one knows Elisa is missing except for us and her family. So I don’t have to worry about encouragement to would-be ransomers.”
“She would be grateful,” Goliath said, “is there any news?”
Xanatos nodded, gesturing for Goliath to come behind his desk, “Yes, but it’s...weird, to say the least.”
“How so?’ Goliath demanded, fearing the worst.
“He doesn’t seem to dislike Elisa,” Xanatos said, “This time, he takes a video of her eating in his kitchen. She’s not tied up anymore. Look.”
Xanatos tapped on his keyboard and a video of Elisa eating an omelet started to play.
“Say hello!” The voice behind the camera said.
Elisa’s eyes widened and she covered her mouth, scowling at the man behind the camera, “Liam, you know I hate being filmed, especially when I’m eating.”
“I know,” the man said with a giddy laugh, “but you’re so cute, I can’t help it! Besides, I promised Mr. Xanatos I would send a video of you as proof you were alive and happy!”
“I wouldn’t say I’m happy,” Elisa said, lowering her hand as she swallowed her food, “I’m still being held here against my will.”
“But you’re not tied up anymore! You’re free!”
“Then let me leave the house.”
“Elisa,” the man sighed and spoke in a defeated sort of tone, “you know I can’t do that! I’m keeping you here for your own good, remember?”
Elisa sighed and looked straight at the camera, “Xanatos, please show this to my parents, let them know I’m alright. Iwe Iwe has me.”
“Iwe Iwe?” The man asked.
“Igbo for Lady Luck,” Elisa explained, “it means I’m alright and they don’t need to be worried.”
“Oh. Nice. That’s cool. Anyways I think that’s good for today! Any closing statements?”
“Goliath, please make sure Angela is still feeding Cagney. I miss them.”
“Aw, sweet. Bye!”
The video stopped. As soon as it did, Goliath turned to Xanatos, “We must give the Mazas this video.”
“Are you sure?” Xanatos asked, “I know she asked, but maybe there’s a double meanin-”
“Igbo,” Goliath repeated, “Elisa told me her mother is from Nigeria and her first language is Igbo, and she speaks some. Her parents come up with nicknames for their children and friends: Elisa is Nwa Mbu, Talon is Ogo, Beth is Nwa Nwa, and I am called Ibu. Perhaps Iwe Iwe is another nickname, meaning her parents would know who her captor is.”
Xanatos nodded and he tapped on his keyboard, the disk coming out of the computer. He put it back in the package and handed it to Goliath, “Go there now and give this to them.”
Goliath nodded and took the disk, leaving the room. As soon as he did, he ran into the trio, Angela, and Bronx.
“Oh, Father,” Angela said, “we were just coming to ask-”
“We may have a lead,” Goliath said.
“That’s great!” Brooklyn said.
“Really?” Lexington asked.
“So who’s the crook who took my partner?” Broadway demanded.
“We don’t know,” Goliath admitted, “but Elisa’s parents might.”
“Is she doing alright?” Angela asked.
Goliath nodded, “Yes, she is unharmed and as well as she can be, given the situation. She knew her kidnapper by name, and they seemed to be familiar with each other. I believe there is more to this than we think.”
Goliath moved forward and they made way for him. He noticed Hudson was missing and turned around, “Where is Hudson?”
“You know how he gets,” Brooklyn said with a sigh, “he went on patrol alone. Should we have gone after him?”
“No,” Goliath said, “I need to bring this to Elisa’s parents. I will look for him on my way. Oh, and one more thing - Elisa misses you all dearly.”
The group smiled at this, happy that Elisa had a message for them. Goliath waved and left, hoping his wings carried him swiftly.
When Goliath landed on the small balcony of the Maza residence, he noticed a familiar shape.
“Talon,” Goliath greeted as he wrapped his wings around himself, “it is good to see you.”
“You too,” Talon said without a smile, looking sadly at his parents inside, who were talking quietly.
“Why are you not inside with them?” Goliath asked.
Talon sighed and shook his head, “They’re arguing. Dad thinks Xanatos should just give the money to the kidnapper, but Mom thinks he’s right in trying other methods first. It’s just a stressful situation, and I needed a break. Why are you here, by the way? Any news?”
“Actually, yes,” Goliath said, showing him the disc case, “The kidnapper has sent videos. We received the first one yesterday, but it is slightly disturbing, so we decided not to share it.”
“Disturbing?” Talon growled.
“Nothing grotesque,” Goliath assured, “she is merely tied up to a chair, and she is desperate. But this video is better, and she asked for us to show it to your parents. We think they may be able to identify her captor.”
Talon grinned and grabbed Goliath’s arms excitedly, “That’s great!” He turned and threw open the door and burst in, startling his parents, “Goliath has news!”
When Goliath showed Elisa’s parents, they asked him to pause it when she referred to the man by name.
“Liam…” her father said, “I know that name.”
“I do too,” her mother said, “it sounds so familiar, but it’s too common to place.”
“She refers to him in Igbo,” Goliath said, “I think it’s a nickname.” He pressed play and they continued, Elisa’s mother gasping when Elisa spoke the Igbo words.
“Iwe Iwe!” She cried, “I know him!”
“Iwe Iwe…” Talon said slowly, “it means ‘annoying’, right? That’s the nickname we gave to Elisa’s boyfriend in highschool.”
“I remember!” Mr. Maza said angrily, “Elisa started to hate him because he was so controlling. He’s the one that told her not to be a cop because it was too dangerous.”
“So you all know this man?” Goliath asked.
“Liam Manning,” Talon growled, “he was a creep. Elisa agreed to date him out of pity and she ended up falling for him. In senior year, she realized he was crazy and dumped his ass. He wouldn’t leave her alone for months until she changed addresses and started school.”
“Do you know where we can find him?” Goliath demanded, “Any idea at all?”
“He and his mother used to live in a co-op community,” Mrs. Maza recalled, “here in Manhattan. I don’t remember where, though.”
“I remember his mom being involved in some shady stuff,” Talon said, “maybe I can find info in the Labyrinth.”
“Give me any information you can on him,” Goliath said, “I can give it to Xanatos, he and Lexington will know what to do.”
“Here!” Mrs. Maza got up and ran to the kitchen, pulling out a pen and paper from the drawer and furiously writing, “This is everything I remember about Liam Manning. Do what you need to - please just find our girl.”
“I will,” Goliath promised, taking the paper from Mrs. Maza and running out. He felt excited then, and hopeful. They had a lead.
Elisa cursed when she saw the alarm by the door.
She had been hoping to pick the lock using the bobby pins (she had taught herself because she thought it was cool), but noticed the little grey box beside the door with a small red light. Unmistakably an alarm. She flipped open the cover and stared at the numbers. She couldn’t really see all that well and didn’t dare try to use a flashlight. She stared at the numbers and had an idea.
She punched in her birthday.
The machine made a beep and read on the screen “two attempts before alarm sounds”. Damn , she thought.
She punched in his birthday.
Beep. Shit .
She punched in her birthday, but backwards.
Beep beep beep. The red light turned green and the screen read “alarm disabled”.
She grinned and then set to work, picking the locks with bobby pins between her teeth. She got the first one done and felt a wave of relief. She glanced at the clock, seeing that it was just past 3 am. Liam had always been a light sleeper, but he seemed to not have been woken up by the alarm beeps. She still continued quietly and carefully, hoping to not be noticed.
She had just done the second lock when she heard footsteps. She stopped immediately and rushed to lay back down on the couch where she had been sleeping. She closed her eyes and pretended to be asleep, steadying her breath as she listened.
She heard Liam go into the kitchen, grab a glass, go into the fridge, and pour something. Then he drank the contents. Loudly. She cringed as she heard him gulp down the drink - that noise had always grated on her nerves.
He finished then and walked over to her and she did her best to look like she was fast asleep.
“I love you,” he whispered, standing by her head, “I always have, since the day we met. We’ll be so happy together, tomorrow Xanatos will give us the money we need and we’ll be rich beyond our wildest dreams.”
He reached over and caressed her hair, and it took every ounce of her will not to slap his hand away. She hated him, and he had no right to touch her.
“Xanatos doesn’t deserve you,” Liam said coldly, “no one else in this world appreciates you like I do. No one deserves you like I do. So why don’t you love me?”
There was a moment of silence before he yanked a piece of her hair, hard. Elisa yelped and her eyes opened as she sat up, glaring at him.
“What the hell, Liam?”
He scowled down at her, “You heard everything I said, didn’t you?”
“What are you talking about?” Elisa demanded, rubbing her eyes, “I was asleep when you rudely woke me up. What’re you doing?”
“I was thirsty. Why are you asleep?”
“Because you keep me up in the day,” Elisa snapped back, “You’ve totally screwed up my sleep schedule, so I do what I can. Hopefully I’ll get back on track soon.”
“Elisa,” Liam said with an annoyed sigh, “you know you’re staying with me. I don’t stay up at night like some sort of bat. I sleep at night, like every creature should.”
“Well, not every creature does,” Elisa said.
“Like the gargoyles?”
Elisa felt her heart skip a beat. Could he suspect who Goliath was? Surely not, Goliath was mostly unknown, no way Liam could put that together.
“I guess,” Elisa said, “if that’s the example you’re going for. Now, are you going back to bed or not?”
“You’ve seen the gargoyles,” Liam insisted, leaning in close. Elisa sat up and leaned back, “I know you have. Don’t lie to me.”
“Of course I have,” Elisa replied, “I’m on the night shift, remember? I run into them from time to time, when I catch them beating up some thugs or flying around.”
“Have you seen them at Xanatos’?”
Oof, that was a loaded question.
“I don’t really go up that way,” Elisa lied, “Derek brought me up to the castle once, but it’s cold and creepy.”
“So you haven’t seen them there?”
“I’ve seen ‘em flying around, yeah,” Elisa said, “What’s with the interrogation here?”
“Your partner is head of the Gargoyle Squad,” Liam said, “he’s surely got some info.”
“He can’t tell me that sort of stuff,” Elisa replied.
“So how did you know the name of the gargoyles’ leader?”
Oh, shit. What do I do? Play dumb, find out what he knows, “What does that have to do with anything?”
“In the first video,” Liam started, his voice dripping with ice, “you talked to someone called Goliath. I thought I recognized the name, so I did some digging, asked around. I found out why it’s familiar - Goliath is the name of the gargoyle leader.”
“So why were you calling out to him to find your wallet?”
“That doesn’t mean anything,” Elisa said casually, “I happen to have another friend named Goliath.”
“It’s an odd name.”
“People have odd names sometimes.”
“Elisa!” Liam yelled, “Don’t you dare lie to me!”
“I’m not!” Elisa snapped back, then taking a breath and speaking calmly, “I am friends with someone named Goliath - we met through work. Matt knows him too, and I dropped my wallet when you grabbed me. I just wanted to make sure that they got it, so I wouldn’t have to try and replace everything in there.”
Liam sighed and then sat down beside Elisa on the couch, slouching, “Sorry for getting mad. But you know how jealous I can get, right?”
“You have no right to my personal life.”
“Elisa,” Liam begged, “I’m trying here, I really am. I want us to be good again, for things to be like they were in high school.”
“But they can’t be,” Elisa said, “that was over ten years ago, and I can’t say that enough. I’m not the same person I was when we were dating - I’ve changed. We’re adults now, not kids. We need to move on with our lives. Forget me, Liam.”
“But I can’t, ” he insisted, staring at her sadly, “Elisa, I love you more than anything in the world. I would do anything for you.”
“Then let me go and forget me.”
“Liam,” Elisa said, starting to get frustrated, “you haven’t changed since high school and that’s not a good thing. You need to figure yourself out and move the fuck on. Who I’m with is none of you business. I stopped caring about your love life a month after we ended. It’s not necessary, and it’s kind of creepy. I don’t want you, Liam. And I’m not what you need.”
“You’re all I need,” Liam said, grabbing her hands, ignoring her tugs to get away, “I just wish I could make you see that.”
“Let go of me, Liam.”
“I’ll never let go Elisa, for as long as I live.”
“You’re hurting me,” Elisa said as his grip on her tightened.
“You’re hurting me,” Liam echoed, “you have been for ten years. No more. We’re finally together.”
“No we’re not!” Elisa snapped, twisting her hands and wrenching them free of his grasp. She stood up quickly and took a few steps away from him.
“Elisa you’re being ridiculous,” Liam said with annoyance, pouting like a small child. Which is what he was - a child being told he couldn’t play with his favourite toy. And he was about to throw a tantrum.
“We can’t do this,” Elisa explained, “we have our own lives to live, our own families-”
“Your family never approved of us,” Liam said, standing up, outstretching his arms to her. She took a step back, “They don’t deserve us.”
“My family just wants to protect me,” Elisa tried, “and I know they’re worried about me. I have to go back to them.”
“I’m your family now,” Liam insisted, taking another step forward. Elisa took a step back, “We’re all the other needs, Elisa.”
“What about your mother?”
Liam’s face twisted and Elisa wished she hadn’t spoken.
“Why would you bring that bitch up?”
“NO!” Liam screamed, “You know she means nothing to me! She’s just a whore who never did anything for me. She’s useless, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s dead in a ditch somewhere, or sleeping around with those underground mutants.”
“That’s enough, Liam,” Elisa said cooly, even though she was furious. Sure, his mom had made some bad choices in life, but she was a nice woman who genuinely cared for her son and did what she could. Derek had seen her in the Labyrinth who acted as a sort of den mother for the wayward girls.
“No!” Liam shouted again, “It’s not enough! She left me for random men, for mutants, for that freak Talon!”
“Liam,” Elisa said in warning, but he ignored her.
“And you left me for losers, for dead-beat cops, for freaks, for Xanatos!” With every word he spoke, he got closer, and Elisa took a step back.
“Liam, stop now.”
“He probably let you do whatever you want!”
“Liam, I told you we’re not-”
“Let you go up to the top of the tower.”
“Let you see his pet gargoyles.”
“They’re not pets!”
“You probably talked to them, befriended them.”
“I’ve hardly seen them-”
“He probably let you do what you want with them.”
“Liam I don’t know what you’re implying I-” Elisa stopped as she felt her back hit the kitchen counter.
“Xanatos isn’t your lover,” Liam said icily, “Goliath is. You left me for a goddamned gargoyle.”
Elisa’s heart pounded and blood rushed in her ears. She was cornered, in every sense of the word. She distinctly remembered the time when Liam had hit her. It had been at the end of their relationship, and they had been in a fight. She had said something about Liam being kinder to his mother - she didn’t truly remember - and he hit her. Slapped her, open handed, right across the cheek. She had cried then, and he apologized, but she never forgot the look in his eyes as his hand struck. The triumph. She saw that now, and knew she could no longer afford to be defiant. All she could do was attempt to diffuse the situation.
“That’s not it,” Elisa said as calmly as she could, even though she was shaking as Liam leaned over her and glared, “I would never be with a gargoyle. Sure, they’re nice, but they’re not human. I’m a human, and I belong with humans. To be honest, I’m less disturbed by the accusations of Xanatos being my lover.”
She saw Liam’s shoulders slump ever so slightly, “You think so?”
“Of course!” Elisa said, grabbing onto the straw that was dangling before her, “Yeah they’re big and strong, but they’re still monsters. I may work the night shift, but I still enjoy being out in the day, which I couldn’t do if I was with a gargoyle. Their skin is leather, they’re old, age half as fast as we do - it’s not right, and not human.”
“Well,” Liam said with a laugh as the tension in his body left, “that’s a relief. So you’re not seeing anyone?”
“Then I have a chance.”
“I guess so.”
“Elisa,” Liam said, placing a hand on her shoulder, “marry me, please. At least do me the honour of wearing my ring.”
“I can’t marry you,” Elisa said. Then she saw him tense up again and added quickly, “but there’s nothing stopping me from wearing that ring.”
Liam grinned and pulled the box out, shoving the old ring on her excitedly. Her fingers had grown since high school, so it hurt a bit, but Liam didn’t seem to care. As soon as it was on, he grabbed her face and kissed her hard, and she quickly pushed him away. He didn’t seem to mind though, as he was grinning like a maniac.
“Nothing to stop us now!” Liam cried happily.
Elisa wondered if she had made the right choice by wearing his diamond ring.
“Before you see the video, keep in mind that Elisa is probably doing what she can to keep herself safe.”
Immediately, Goliath’s hair stood on end.
“What do you mean?” He demanded of Xanatos. Instead of replying, he just turned the monitor on his desk to show Goliath the video.
It was Elisa, sitting on a couch, looking uncomfortable. She had her hands crossed in her lap, and fidgeted.
“I’m okay,” she started off, “I’m not hurt. Liam is taking good care of me.”
“And I always will,” Liam said off camera, “Now, tell them the news!”
Elisa sighed and slowly lifted up her left hand to cover her face, revealing a silver ring on her fourth finger, a large white diamond in the middle.
“We’re engaged!” Liam said excitedly, “We’ll use your money for the wedding and the honeymoon. I would invite you but well, it may be a bit awkward.”
“It’s only awkward because you kidnapped me,” Elisa said with annoyance.
“Semantics, love. Anyways, keep in mind that the deadline is tonight at midnight. One million dollars. I’ve enclosed the address where you will have your manservant drop it off.”
“Why would he give you the money if you’re going to take me away?” Elisa asked.
“Because if he gives me the money, I’ll allow you to stay in contact with everyone you know and love. If not, you become a ghost to the world. If Xanatos really cares about you, he would let you go, give us the money, and let you be happy.”
Elisa opened her mouth, looking to say something scathing, but she stopped and looked at the camera in defeat, “I miss my family.”
“How can you resist that?” Liam said, “Look at how cute she is when she pouts! Send us the money and you’ll hear from us after the wedding! Parents are invited on Elisa’s insistence, but it’s a small affair. Too small for a big man like you, isn’t that right Elisa?”
“Yeah. Too small for such a giant of a man.”
“You heard her! Toodle-oo, giant!”
The video ended and left them staring at a black screen.
Slowly, Xanatos looked at Goliath. He stood silent and tense, his expression unreadable.
“Goliath?” He asked tentatively.
“Married.” Goliath growled, his hands turning into shaking fists, “He intends to marry.”
“It seems obvious that Elisa doesn’t reciprocate those feelings.” Xanatos spoke very carefully, aware of what Goliath could do to his very expensive office, “They won’t get married, and I know Elisa will do everything in her power to delay the wedding.”
“I know,” Goliath said, barely containing his rage, “but you cannot understand how much of an insult it is to have someone simply take a Lifemate, claim them as theirs. It is reducing the one taken to an object incapable of thought, while mocking the one whose mate was taken. You simply cannot understand what that means to us, to me as a gargoyle. What this all means!”
Goliath roared the last part, his eyes glowing and his wings whipping out in rage. Xanatos stepped back as Goliath turned to him, and he remembered when Goliath had first woken up, how truly monstrous he seemed. He felt the same way then.
“She needed me and I did nothing!” Goliath yelled, “I should have accompanied her and yet I was here because you insisted I be.”
“Goliath,” Xanatos said, a little annoyed then but still a little nervous, “I thought it would be for the best. Having you be seen in public anywhere near her would be-”
“I don’t care!” Goliath roared, sweeping his arm out, “The media be damned, I should have been there! You insisted I stay here, you let her get taken!”
“I know you’re mad,” Xanatos said carefully, slowly stepping away and behind his desk, “and you’re frustrated and worried about Elisa, but you can’t blame me for her kidnapping.”
“I blame myself,” Goliath growled, “but you are not without fault. You caused this, you’re the centre of it. If you had just shut it down when it rose up, this never would have happened.”
“Goliath, it doesn’t work that way.”
“How would you know?” Goliath snarled, “You never tried!”
Goliath took a step toward Xanatos when Brooklyn suddenly stood in front of him, his wings out, shielding Xanatos from Goliath.
“Goliath,” Brooklyn said firmly, “calm down.”
“I will not be calm! Elisa is to be married to her kidnapper!”
Brooklyn looked shocked for a moment but shook his head, “Look, that’s bad, and I know you’re mad, but save it for Liam. He’s the one who took her. We all did what we thought was right.”
“He’s right, Father.”
He turned to see Angela walking in, the rest of his clan following behind him. He noticed how they all looked at him in worry, sympathy written on their faces. With a sigh he took a step back and folded his wings around him.
“My apologies,” he said, leaning on the desk, “I should not have gotten so furious. It is not your fault, Xanatos.”
“It’s not yours either,” Xanatos replied, moving around to face Goliath properly. Brooklyn stepped away.
“What matters now,” he said, “is we get Elisa back.”
“Which is why we were coming here,” Broadway said, “Talon found his mom, and Puck finished the spell!”
It was 10 pm, and Elisa had never seen Liam so happy.
He had spent the evening walking around the house, packing any essentials in a couple of large luggages.
“We can’t stay here!” He had said when Elisa woke up after dusk, “Too many people against us, so we’ll go to the country for a little. I recently purchased a nice little cottage! You always said you wanted one right on the lake, so I delivered. It’s easy to please when you have Xanatos’ money.”
Since then, Elisa had washed as best as she could without showering (she refused to take her clothes off in his house) and stared at the hidden baggie of bobby pins. The night before, after she had accepted the ring, Liam made her food, relocked the door and put the alarm back on, then went to bed. Not long after, Elisa tried to get out, but he had changed the passcode, and she had guessed once more, deciding not to risk tripping the alarm. So she had been forced to stay for another night.
She looked at the clock on the wall, seeing only a couple of minutes had passed. Liam would leave at around midnight to collect the ransom, leaving Elisa alone in the house for the first time since she had been kidnapped. She hoped she could get the code to the alarm, or that it at least alerted the police. Then she might have stood a chance.
Of course, she was sure that Goliath and the others were doing everything they could to find her. She had tried to drop as many clues as possible and hoped they were enough to set them on the right path.
Just then, car lights passed and Liam looked up, “That’ll be the boys!”
Elisa frowned, “The boys?”
“Yeah!” Liam said with a grin, “they’re gonna stay here and protect you while I’m gone getting the money, and they’ll also be our escort until we leave the city.”
He went to the window and peered out, “Huh. Don’t recognize that car.”
Elisa immediately perked up and craned her neck to see. Outside was a beat-up old brown car she recognized immediately as an undercover squad car. The driver’s door opened and a familiar face revealed itself: Matt.
Elisa smiled but then had her wrist grabbed by Liam. He dragged her over to the basement door.
“Sorry love, but I don’t trust strangers. Just stay down here for a bit, okay?”
Before she could protest, he shut the door and locked it. Then Elisa heard something large being pushed in front of it and peered under the space between the door and the floor, finding it blocked. She guessed he moved the media centre or a dresser over the door - something heavy at least. Something Matt couldn’t move without notice.
“Excuse me, would you be Liam Manning?”
The man in front of Matt was tall and well-built, with lots of scars - a streetfighter.
“Yes, I would be. No, I don’t want a new cable service, and yes I know Jesus. Goodnight.”
Matt put his hand out, stopping the door from shutting. He reached in and pulled his badge, “Detective Matt Bluestone,” he said curtly, “mind if I take a look around?”
“Do you have a warrant?”
Matt pulled a piece of paper from his jacket and showed it to Liam, who frowned.
“Can I say no?”
“That would just make you more suspicious.”
Liam frowned and opened the door, letting Matt in.
As soon as he was inside, he noticed a dresser was in front of a door, and it looked like it had been hastily moved. He popped up his jacket collar and spoke quietly into it, “She’s in the basement.”
“Understood,” Goliath replied to the piece around his neck. He turned to the rest of the clan, perched on the church behind the small community, “Matt said she’s in the basement - I know which house is his. Hudson, you and Brooklyn stay here with Bronx. The rest of you will follow me.”
The clan nodded and did as they were told when Goliath took off, silently gliding down to the house where Matt had gone in. He landed behind the house and noticed small windows with iron bars. He leaned down, looking in. He saw the room empty, and knocked. After a moment, Elisa came from the side, looking around for the noise. He knocked again and Elisa turned, her face breaking into a grin when she saw him.
“Is she in there?” Angela asked.
“Yes, she’s alright.”
Angela knelt down beside Goliath and grinned as Elisa made her way over to them.
“You have no clue how happy I am to see you guys,” she said with a grin.
“Believe me when I say we are just as happy,” Goliath said, “now stand back, I’m going to get you out.”
They all stepped back and Goliath crouched, grabbing the bars. He pulled and they came away easily. He used one to break the window, pushing away the glass.
Elisa came back and looked up.
“No way I can fit in that,” Elisa said with a sigh, “it’s too small.”
“I might be able to fit,” Lexington said, moving through. Goliath let him pass by and Lexington wriggled his way in, dropping down to the floor. Immediately he hugged Elisa, and she hugged him back.
“I’m so glad you’re alright.”
“That’s a relative term,” she said with a laugh, standing up, “So now what?”
“I could try and get the door open.”
“He’s got a dresser holding the door,” Elisa said, “I don’t know if you’d be able to open it.”
“I could, but I would have to find another way in,” Goliath said.
“No!” Elisa and the rest of the clan said at the same time.
“We should avoid confrontation,” Brooklyn said quickly, “Matt’s inside, yeah? Maybe we could get him to move the dresser.”
“Then what?” Elisa asked, “If Matt’s here, then he’s got a full search warrant, and he’ll search the rest of the house. He’ll probably do the basement last.”
“So he moves the dresser, I break down the door, fly out, and you’re home free.”
Just then, they heard the sound of another car pulling up. It stopped, and they heard the sound of doors opening.
Just then, Broadway landed behind them.
“Just saw them,” he said, “there’s about six guys in this big white truck, and I saw some stuff in the back. I don’t know what, but I think they’re armed.”
“Dammit,” Elisa hissed, “it’s Liam’s friends. He said they would be coming.”
“This is bad,” Brooklyn said, “we’ll definitely fight if there’s more of them, especially if they’re armed.”
Goliath pressed down on the device in his ear to listen in on Matt.
“Detective Bluestone,” Matt replied, “and who are all of you?”
“These are my friends,” Goliath heard Liam reply, “I was planning to watch the game tonight and I was just getting ready when you showed up.”
“Is there a problem here?” A strange voice asked.
“Nah,” Liam said with a laugh, “just a little inspection, got a noise complaint.”
“Actually, it’s a search warrant. I’ve received an anonymous tip that you’re holding Elisa Maza here, and there’s enough evidence to back that up.”
“What’s happening?” Angela asked, but Goliath shushed her and listened.
“Is that so?”
“Yes, so would you mind moving that dresser for me?”
“It’s too heavy.”
“So get one of your friends to help you.”
“They’re moving the dresser,” Goliath said, waving up to Hudson, “We need to move quickly. Lexington, stay with Elisa. The rest of you with me - and Hudson!” He called as Hudson glided in with Bronx, “Guard that van! We don’t want them getting their weapons!”
Hudson nodded and adjusted his course, gliding to the van with their beast.
“Let’s go,” Goliath said to his clan, moving to the front of the house quietly, trying not to be noticed.
Elisa sighed as she watched them go.
“What’s wrong?” Lexington asked.
“I’m worried about Goliath,” Elisa admitted, “I hate Liam but….”
“I know,” Lexington said, his tail flicking back and forth uncertainly, “he’s been on edge since you were taken, and he’s about reached his breaking point. We had to stop him from attacking Xanatos.”
“He attacked Xanatos?” Elisa cried.
“No!” Lexington assured, “And he didn’t do anything when we came in but, well, I think he was going to.”
“This is bad, Elisa said, “we have to stop Goliath from killing Liam.”
Inside, Matt noticed how wary Liam was when he nodded to one of the bigger guys to help him. Of course, they were all massive and built, obviously fighters. Matt knew he stood no chance alone, and he hoped the clan had noticed the new people.
Matt watched as one of the guys stepped forward, and the guy beside him put his hands on his hips, revealing a holster with a gun in it. The man noticed Matt looking and he went to grab for it when suddenly the door was kicked in loudly, startling everyone in the room.
Before anyone had time to register anything, Goliath burst into the room, grabbing the first man and throwing him out the door roughly. Behind him was the rest of the clan.
“The gargoyles,” one of the men said warily, immediately throwing his hands up and dropping to his knees.
The others were wary, but stood their ground. Goliath stood up as Angela, Brooklyn, and Broadway filed inside.
“Stand down,” he commanded, his eyes flashing, “and we will let you go.”
“You got one smart guy with ya,” Brooklyn said, “you should follow his lead.”
“The only one we follow is Liam,” the big guy said, “we ain’t afraid of no monsters.”
“Let’s fix that,” Broadway growled. Then the fight broke out.
The fighters were easy enough to pin down, if done quickly. One managed to pull a knife on Brooklyn, swiping at him and catching his arm. Angela pounced on him, wrenching the knife from his grasp and punching him, knocking him out cold.
“He cut you?” She asked.
“A little, nothing serious,” he assured her before going back into the fray.
Matt decided to leave the fighting to the gargoyles and went to the dresser, shoving at it. It was heavy, and the way it was positioned would’ve made it almost impossible to break down. Finally, he managed to get it out of the way enough and banged on the door, “Knock it down!” He yelled, standing back.
Sure enough, the door came down a second later, Lexington on top of it. He smiled up at Matt, “Thanks.”
He grinned, “No problem. Is she-”
Elisa matched Matt’s smile and he rushed to hug her.
“Oh thank God you’re alive,” he said, hugging her tight, “I was so worried-”
“It’s okay,” Elisa said, hugging him back, “thankfully, Liam didn’t want to hurt me.”
“No,” she replied firmly, “nothing like that. And you won’t say anything about that in front of the clan.”
“Understood,” Matt said. Just then a shot rang out and Matt doubled over, screaming.
“Matt!” Elisa cried, grabbing onto him and helping him onto the floor, “Oh my God, were you shot?”
“Just in the leg,” Liam’s deadly calm voice replied. Elisa looked up to see him standing not far from them, holding a gun, “Come here, Elisa.”
The fighting had stopped at the sound of a bullet, but the thugs were almost all taken care of. Those who weren’t retreated out the back door or into the corners.
“Elisa!” Liam barked, “Come here, or my next target is a gargoyle. I know they’re not bullet-proof.”
Elisa stood up, her heart pounding. She caught Goliath’s eyes as she made her way over to Liam and saw them burn bright. He growled and took a step forward, but Broadway and Brooklyn held him down, Angela and Lexington began moving closer to help do the same.
“That’s a good girl, see? No violence needed.”
“You shot my partner.”
Liam shrugged as Elisa stood beside him, “He was getting handsy. You know how jealous I can get.”
“You’re a monster.”
“No, Elisa,” Liam said, waving his gun at Goliath, “they’re the monsters.”
She saw what he was going to do and lunged, shoving his arm holding the gun just as he pulled the trigger. It went off and she heard a pained roar. She glanced up and saw that Goliath’s wing had been nicked. Not serious enough to hinder flight, but still painful.
Liam noticed her distraction and grabbed her, pinning her with her back to his chest and putting the gun against her head.
“Nobody move,” Liam said calmly, “I don’t want to do it, but I will shoot. If I can’t be with Elisa in this life, I’ll be with her in the next one.”
“No!” Goliath roared, “Do not hurt her!”
“I won’t,” Liam said easily, as if he didn’t have a person’s life in his hands, “so long as you guys stay put, ‘kay? Now, I am going to go to my car, we are going to get Xanatos’ money, and we will leave to get married. Is that understood?” Silence, “Good. Come along now, Elisa.”
He let go of her and prodded her back, making her lead the way outside. She walked, feeling the gun in her back, feeling trapped, feeling helpless. She could not bring herself to look at the gargoyles as she was marched out, but she felt their eyes on him.
“To the van- I have a set of keys.”
Elisa looked at the van and noticed some scratches around the handle that looked familiar, and her heart lifted.
“Is there room in the back?” She asked loudly.
“Yeah, you’ll sit back there. I know you love me, but I think these gargoyles give you crazy ideas. It would be too risky to have you sit shotgun.”
“Of course, Liam,” Elisa said, coming up to the van’s sliding door. She hoped she was right as she cried, “Now, Hudson!” and dropped to the ground.
The door slid open and Bronx leapt out, closely followed by Hudson. Bronx pounced on Liam, knocking him to the ground. Then Hudson snatched the gun from his hand and crushed it, dropping it beside Liam’s head.
“I’ve got half a mind ta tell him ta rip your throat out,” Hudson growled, his eyes glowing as he leaned down next to Liam’s head, “but I haven’t decided yet. Your choice.”
Liam scowled but said nothing, obviously cornered. Despite all his street fighting prowess, he was useless against a 200 pound gargoyle beast slobbering all over his neck.
“Smart choice, lad.” Hudson stood up and turned towards Elisa, grinning, “Aye lass, I’m glad ta see you.”
“You too,” Elisa said, standing up and giving Hudson a hug. She walked over and pet Bronx too, and he looked up at her happily, “Glad you guys were in that van - I don’t know what I would’ve done otherwise.”
“We meant to stop them if they tried to run,” Hudson explained, “I didn’t think the monster would drag you out here.”
“I’m not a monster!” Liam yelped.
“Dude, you kidnapped a girl, shot her partner, then threatened to kill her,” Brooklyn said as he came to stand over Liam, “you’re definitely the freak here.” Then he lifted his head, “Hey, Elisa.”
She grinned and hugged him too, feeling a few extra sets of arms on her as Angela and the rest of the trio joined in on the group hug.
“We were so worried about you,” Angela said as tears fell from her face.
“So scared,” Broadway said, crying too, “we didn’t know what to do.”
“Searched for days,” Lexington said, “we were desperate.”
“We really missed you,” Brooklyn admitted.
“I missed you guys too,” Elisa said with a laugh, crying then. God, it felt good to cry, “I missed you so much.”
“But I think we know who missed you most,” Angela sniffled. The hug broke apart and Elisa saw Goliath carrying Matt out, smiling at Elisa. He put Matt down and he leaned on Brooklyn as Elisa stepped forward to meet Goliath.
For a short moment, they stared at each other wordlessly, simply taking in the fact that they were together.
Then, Goliath’s wings flared out and he grabbed her, pulling her close. He wrapped his wings around the both of them, holding tight as Elisa cried into his chest.
“It’s alright,” Goliath said softly, caressing Elisa’s hair gently, “it’s okay, you’re alright. You’re safe now.”
The clan and Matt smiled, relieved that it was over. Elisa was with them, they were safe, it was okay.
Suddenly, Bronx howled in pain. Everyone jumped and saw him tumble off of Liam as he stood up, clutching a small pocket knife, bloodied.
“Bastard!” Brooklyn cried, but he didn’t get a chance to do anything.
Goliath got there first.
He let go of Elisa and ran over, punching Liam in the stomach, hard enough to make him cough up blood. He doubled over and dropped the knife, and Goliath grabbed his neck, lifting him into the air, his brilliant glowing eyes boring into Liam.
“You cannot understand the pain you have caused,” Goliath snarled as he squeezed, “for me, for Matt, for the clan, for the Mazas, for Elisa. You will pay.”
“Goliath, stop!” Elisa cried, clinging onto Goliath’s free arm. He did not look down on her, “You can’t kill him.”
“Give me one damn reason.”
“Because it would make you no better than Demona.”
Goliath turned to her, his eyes still glowing. Then they faded and he sighed, dropping Liam on the ground roughly.
“You are too kind.”
“I am the exact amount of kindness needed,” Elisa insisted, hugging Goliath again, “Thank you.”
“Hey, guys,” Matt croaked out, sweating from the pain, “not to ruin the moment, but more cops will be here soon, and hopefully an ambulance. You guys should leave.”
“Understood,” Goliath said, moving to pick Elisa up. But she shook her head and stepped back.
“I have to stay here. I have to let people know I’m alright.”
Goliath pursed his lips but nodded, kissing Elisa on the head, “I will see you at home.” Then he turned to the rest of his clan, “Let’s go, before more people see us.”
The others nodded and Brooklyn set Matt down against the truck gently. They all ran off, presumably back to the church where they could properly take off, Hudson carrying Bronx. She hoped he would be okay, but she wasn’t worried- sunrise wasn’t so far off, and the knife was small.
Elisa sighed and sat down next to Matt, looking at the unconscious body of her captor.
“Did he kill anyone?” She asked Matt.
“Hurt them badly,” he admitted, talking through gritted teeth, “but no killing. Not even Liam.”
“I feel sick to my stomach that I saved him,” Elisa said with disgust, “but I couldn’t let Goliath kill him.”
“I know. You’re a good person for that.”
“Yeah well, it sucks.”
“Hey,” Matt said with a weak chuckle, “I’m the one that’s been shot.”
“And I’m the one that was held captive for three days,” Elisa countered.
“So. What’s our story?” Elisa asked.
Matt shrugged, “I came here with enough evidence for a warrant, but not enough to convict. I happened to find you and was trying to get you out when the gargoyles arrived- tipped off about some cop being kidnapped by Liam’s mother in the Labyrinth. There was a fight. I was shot. They took off when the dust cleared.”
Elisa nodded, “Sounds about right. I’m sorry you got shot, by the way.”
“Sorry you got kidnapped.”
The two chuckled as they heard sirens approaching.
“By the way, who knows?”
“Not too many people,” Matt replied, “Your family, Labyrinth clan, Wyvern clan, Xanatos family, Chavez. I think that’s about it. You were supposed to be underground for these past few days anyways, so thankfully no one noticed. We figured you’d want to keep numbers low.”
“It’s appreciated,” Elisa said, letting her head rest against the cool metal of the van as she saw red and blue lights reflected in the windows of the house, “It’s all good.”
Thankfully, an ambulance did come, along with two cop cars. After getting a quick run-down from the ambulance as well as a shock blanket, she went to one of the cars and gave her badge number. She was allowed to call Chavez and repeated the story Matt had told her. Chavez in turn told Elisa to go home to her family, and they would get her testimony after she was supposed to come out of hiding. After that, it was a blur- getting into a police car, being driven to her parents’, tearfully embracing her whole family (even Beth, who had left school for a couple of days to help her family), taking a proper shower, and going to bed. She was so exhausted she didn’t have time to worry about nightmares, but thankfully she had peaceful dreams where she was with her family and the clan.
“Hey. Hey Nwa Mbu. Wake up.”
Elisa woke up slowly to see Talon shaking her awake gently, smiling down at her.
“Derek,” she mumbled, “what time is it?”
“About six,” he replied, “almost sunset. There’s someone who’s been waiting all day to see you.”
After Elisa got dressed, she waited inside and looked onto her parents’ balcony to see Goliath sleeping, his back to them. The sun set and she watched him wake up, shards of his skin flying off. He stretched and turned around, smiling when he saw her.
She stepped outside and shut the door behind her, smiling back at Goliath.
“Hello. Did you sleep well?”
Elisa nodded, “I did. Obviously you did too.”
“I did for the first time this week, knowing you were safe,” Goliath said, grabbing her hands gently, “I am sorry I couldn’t make it back in time for you last night.”
“It’s okay,” Elisa replied, “I was so tired, and it was all a blur. As soon as I hit my bed I went right to sleep.”
Goliath chuckled, “I am glad for that.”
“Yeah, me too. Sleeping in a wood chair is even less comfortable than you’d think.”
Goliath’s expression tightened, as did his grip on Elisa’s hands.
“You should never have been in that situation. We should have protected you.”
“Hey,” Elisa assured, taking back one of her hands and cupping his face with it, forcing him to look her in the eye, “we’ve talked about this before - we can’t always be there to protect each other. And we didn’t know this would happen.”
“But the media was all over you,” Goliath argued, “we should have known better. I’m sorry I let this happen.”
“Hey,” Elisa said firmly, “you weren’t the one who kidnapped me, okay? None of this is your fault, anymore than it is mine. You saved me Goliath. By the way, how did you do it?”
“We had your help,” he admitted, “Puck was able to use the picture in your wallet for his tracking spell. Here, by the way.” He reached over to his pouch and gave her back her wallet. When she opened it, she saw the picture unharmed, “We were also able to identify Liam by your nickname. Xanatos had his men searching for him, and Talon was looking in the Labyrinth. He found Liam’s mother, who admitted to being kicked out by Liam in preparation for you. Xanatos was also able to find enough evidence to grant Matt a warrant, and the tracking spell confirmed where you were, and whether you were still alive.”
“I’m glad you guys could piece it all together. And, by the way, I’m sorry about pretending to being engaged to Liam,” Elisa said, “I had to, but it felt wrong and awful.”
“You’re wearing the ring.”
Elisa looked down and realized that she was, in fact, still wearing the engagement ring that Liam had given her. She took it off and threw it over the balcony.
“You did not hesitate.”
“I want nothing to do with him,” Elisa said with a scowl, “he’s fucked up and awful and I hate him. I’ll have to testify against him in court, and then he’ll be in jail for a very very long time.”
Goliath frowned, “How long?”
“Fifteen to twenty-five,” Elisa said, “maybe a life sentence. If the judge is nice, he’ll also be fined two million dollars. Kidnapping in the first degree is a class 1-A crime. Very serious.”
“Good,” Goliath said, “he deserves all that and more. He will never hurt you again, Elisa. I swear my life on it.”
“I wouldn’t expect anything less,” Elisa said, reaching up to kiss him. It was then that she felt really truly free- Liam would be gone from her life, and she was safe.
She was safe.