It was a cold winter night, the frigid air burning even the lungs of Lexington and Broadway as they glided through the cloudy night sky, city lights shimmering below.
“Brrrr! It’s a bit cold even for me,” Broadway shuddered, wiggling his toes in discomfort.
“It might’ve been a good idea to wear a hat and scarf,” Lexington admitted, his breath curling out before him, in what he imagined a dragon’s puff of breath might look like. “Still, it’s worth fighting the cold to deliver our package.” He looked over at the large package in Broadway’s large arms.
It was scarves, blankets, gloves, and hats for the homeless and poverty-stricken. Most importantly however were the toys that Elisa and her entire family had generously supplied to the new non-profit organization Elisa’s old college roommate had started up.
“What a great organization, donating and helping those less fortunate. I wish that sort of thing had exists back in our days.” Lexington sighed, glancing at the map Elisa had given him. “Oh, we’re just over them now. Elisa said she’d be waiting for us.”
“Many humans could’ve used this back in our time for sure.” Broadway hummed as they descended. “But the past is the past and the present is now, and at least we can do our part. Brr!” an exceptionally chilled breeze curled its way around them, even pushing them up a bit before they gradually began to drop. “That’s it, I’m going to take up knitting to make us all mittens and scarves!”
“Gargoyles? Knitting? What’ll Hudson say?” Lexington teased “Or Goliath for that matter?”
“They’ll both thank me after I knit them a pair of socks,” Broadway mumbled.
Elisa was waiting in her still-running car. She rolled down a window before getting out, waving at them.
“Thanks, guys for dropping them off. I can’t believe I forgot them at my parents' house.” Elisa said sheepishly. She had some dark circles under her eyes; an indicator she hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before. She took the package from Broadway, shifting her weight a bit to handle the load. “Whoa. Did my mom put even more in here?”
“Of course she did, she’s got a big heart.” Lexington grinned. “Mind if we sit in your car while you run it in? We’re a bit cold and it’ll be a while before the big guy here can warm up in the arms of his wife.”
“Oh hush,” Broadway blushed.
“Sure; I can even drive us all home,” Elisa grunted before turning on her heel before heading towards the backdoor.
“I claim backseat!” Broadway dove into the warm car, making a heavy sigh of contentment.
“We probably shouldn’t let her drive us home.” Lexington cautioned as he settled into the front seat. “Mmm, the heating is tempting though.”
Before they could debate the subject further, a piercing scream shattered the calm moment. Broadway and Lexington were out of the car, scrambling towards the brick building to find a better vantage point, digging their claws in.
“Guys? What’s up?” Elisa asked as she came out of the building, closing the backdoor behind her.
Broadway paused to put his finger over his mouth, indicating towards the alleyway across the street. Nodding her head, Elisa blended into the shadows, following them on foot. There was another scream followed by a weak plea for help. The sound of trashcans hitting old cracked cement, glass breaking.
“Shut up you idiot and give me your money,” a man’s thin voice wheezed out in the brisk air.
Broadway and Lexington were already airborne, silently gliding over to help the victim.
“Please, I don’t have anything.” a woman’s voice whispered before letting out an ear-splitting screech.
“I ain’t even touched ya yet, what the fu—” the man was cut off as Broadway barreled into him, moldy wet newspapers fluttering into the air at the impact.
“Police! Put your hands up!” Elisa snapped as she jumped into the alleyway, her gun at the ready. The trio silently overlooked that she was off duty at this point and sleep-deprived.
The man had been towering over a shadowed woman hunched over on the ground, her body wrapped around herself. He was now under Broadway’s feet while the woman still quaked.
“What did you do to her?” Broadway demanded, lifting his feet so he could grab the perp by the collar of his jacket.
“I ain’t done nothin’ to her!” the man wailed. Broadway turned his nose; the man’s breath was foul, though the stench of the dirty alley was no better. “What are you freaks anyway?”
Broadway ignored the question and looked at an unamused Elisa. She wordlessly re-holstered her gun before tossing him her handcuffs. She smiled a bit at the obvious puff of Broadway’s chest; he still considered himself to be her work partner and as far as Elisa was concerned, he was. While he handcuffed the man, Lexington crawled closer to inspect the woman.
“Don’t be afraid ma’am, we’re here to help you. Are you hurt?” He said as softly and cautiously as possible. He knew his size and wings, and Brooklyn’s beak was considered more demonic-looking to humans than any of the other gargoyles. He did not like scaring them. When dealing with those other than Elisa, he tried to speak as softly as possible—even move slower to show he was not aggressive or hostile. The woman looked up at him and they locked eyes. She did not cower away from him in fear. Instead, she extended out a shaking hand. From the thin, tattered clothes and the black circles under her axinite colored eyes, it wasn’t hard to hazard the guess she was homeless. Lexington carefully reached out, surprised at the strength of her grip.
“Sorry. It just hurts,” she whispered.
“I didn’t touch her though!” the man wailed as Broadway growled at him.
“No, not that. I’m in labor—hnnng!” the woman gripped Lexington’s hand tighter as she hissed and grunted.
“What?” Elisa’s mouth dropped open, looking stunned and uncertain.
Broadway swooped in and gently picked up the woman.
“Lexington what do we do?” Broadway’s voice was raised a bit in panic as the woman began to groan louder.
“Take her to Elisa’s car where it’s warm, Elisa can you call an ambulance?”
“O-oh, sure.” Elisa look pale in the face as she fumbled for her phone while Broadway raced towards the red car followed by Lexington.
“Um, we need a warm blanket and maybe a towel? Hand sanitizer, and probably scissors and shoelaces.” Lexington listed off as they placed the woman inside the still-warm car. She was clawing at herself to take off her hat and scarf, dumping them on the ground below, trying to become comfortable in the back seat.
“Hand sanitizer,” Broadway pulled the bottle from the front of Elisa’s seat, a hardly used gift from her mother that Lexington was extremely thankful for. As he lathered up his hands and arms, he tried to not let panic settle. “I can get a warm blanket from Elisa’s friend.”
“Wait, Broadway!” Lexington turned around, but he was already gone. “How does someone that big vanish so quickly?” he muttered to himself, turning back to the woman. The woman was sweating heavily.
“What are you?” She hissed through her teeth.
“Gargoyle.” Lexington’s stomach began to sink. She wasn’t going to reject his help now of all times, was she? “My name is Lexington. What is yours?”
“Hold my hand while it passes, Rosa.” Lexington winced as he was held in a vice grip. He wasn’t so sure that even Goliath had such a grip! “Elisa, did you call for an ambulance yet?” he ground out, turning to find his friend. She was pacing by the car, phone to face. She gave a bob of her head, giving the dispatcher short and curt answers.
“Lexington, thank you for coming to my rescue earlier,” Rosa sighed as the contraction passed. Her skin was pale, beaded heavily in sweat. Her black hair was pulled up in a bun on the top of her head, oily curls bouncing out of their hold. She seemed like the type of friend one could converse with over tea. After this night, Lexington hoped that would be the case as he felt her pulse. It was weakening.
“Of course Rosa. We’re just trying to do the right thing.”
“I’m not going to live long after this. Please watch over my baby.”
“Hey, let’s not talk like that. Your baby is going to need you around.” Lexington panicked.
“I think it’s time—I need to push—”
“Permission to help?”
“Fair enough, I’m taking off your sweats now,” Lexington wished this wasn’t a sentence he was uttering, but by the fates here he was, trying to help a poor woman give birth. It was far more of the female anatomy that he had ever wanted to see, but if it meant helping a baby, then so be it. He carefully disposed of the torn and dirty pants and undergarments on the car floor so that she could have them at the ready when needed.
“I’ve got everything you needed!” Broadway thundered behind Lexington, arriving just in time with the essential items. “I scared off Elisa’s friend by accident, so, whoops.”
“Push!” Lexington encouraged Rosa, seeing that the baby was absolutely coming out.
“Okay, I’ve called an ambulan—” Elisa halted abruptly as Rosa began screaming and pushing. “Oh jalapeño,” there was a soft thud as Elisa hit the pavement.
“Are you serious?” Lexington grunted. “Broadway—”
“On it.” Broadway carefully picked up their friend and draped her in the front of the seat. “Matt and Goliath aren’t going to believe she fainted.” He glanced over the car seat and made a face “to be fair, there’s a lot of blood.”
“zzzzZZZIP IT!” Rosa snarled with a final scream and a wet push.
It was a second or two before the baby’s wail filled the air. Tearfully and joyfully, Lexington wrapped up the baby while Broadway wrapped Rosa in a bigger blanket. Rosa held out her arms, nuzzling her baby close to her. “Hello, my darling—”
“Daughter. It’s a girl.” Lexington beamed, feeling a bit sheepish. “I’ve always wanted to say that.”
“Since when?” Broadway chuckled, wiping tears from his eyes.
Rosa was humming to the baby, holding her gently. “Gloria. Gloria Lexington.”
“What?” Lexington breathed.
“You helped me deliver the most precious thing in my existence. Please, take good care of her.” Rosa reached out her hand and Lexington took it. “My friend, you and your friends are the only ones I trust in this world to make sure my daughter is safe and loved.”
“You’re going to be fine Rosa, I swear.”
Sirens wailed their approach.
“I have to go, but we’ll be back to check on you, you’re both going to be fine.” Lexington teared up again. But looking in Rosa’s knowing eyes, he knew it was empty promises he was making.