Written by M. the Cat
Disclaimer: All the characters appearing in Gargoyles and Gargoyles: The Goliath Chronicles are copyright Buena Vista Television/The Walt Disney Company. No infringement of these copyrights is intended, and is not authorized by the copyright holder. All original characters are the property of M. the Cat and Madame Destine.
* * * * *
It was five minutes until midnight. Owen Burnett uncorked the champagne bottle and made sure the glasses were precisely arranged on the sideboard. The guests seemed content. He nodded at David Xanatos, a small economical gesture, and the billionaireís lip curled in an acknowledging smile. Owen was dismissed from further service until the start of the new year.
He retired to the butlerís pantry where he removed his apron and hung it neatly on its hanger in the closet then glanced at his watch. The second hand crept closer to four minutes until the hour and he felt a small jitter of anticipation dance in his stomach. To relieve the sudden bout of nerves he polished the counter, finding refuge in the mundane task.
One more glance at the watch. Only two minutes to go. He remembered Davidís amusement when as Puck he had requested one small boon in return for his lifetime of service.
"Two minutes, Davy boy. Every other day of the year Iím yours to command, 24/7. But on the cusp of the new year, I want two minutes to call my own."
David Xanatos had given him one of his patented sardonic smiles. "That seems to be a reasonable exchange. Are you sure thatís your only price?"
"Thatís all I ask."
And so it had been. Each year he had served Xanatos faithfully. Together they had built an empire and at each step Puck as Owen Burnett had been at the entrepreneurís side as he schemed and scrambled his way to the top.
Five. Four. Three. Two. One. Owen Burnett disappeared from the butlerís pantry.
* * *
Puck stepped into a verdant glade. The sun was bright and warm and dispelled the last of the New York chill from his bones. Multihued birds chittered and chirped as they frolicked among the riot of plant life. He hurried toward the rushing roar of the waterfall knowing she waited there for him.
She was exquisite, even among the ranks of the fay. Tiny, but perfectly proportioned, with a spill of midnight hair that fell nearly to her ankles. She was Gong De Tian, Goddess of Luck and the keeper of Puckís heart.
"Hello, baby," he said as he flitted into the clearing. "Did you miss me?"
She smiled so radiantly that the flowers dimmed and the preening birds hid their plumage in shame. "Puck!"
"None other!" He swooped up Gong De Tian into his arms and peppered her face with kisses. "How have you been?"
She giggled at the enthusiastic display of affection. "Well."
"And how is Big Daddy?" Puck asked of Oberon. "Is he keeping his hands to himself?"
Gong De Tian knew she should be annoyed at the Puckís jealousy, but Oberonís reputation as a bounder was millennia old and well disserved. "Your father behaves under the ever watchful eye of the queen. You need not fear for me."
"Youíre his secretary, sweetheart. Of course I worry. Daddy missed the meeting when they passed out the rules on sexual harassment. Itís bad enough he takes off after every goose girl and flight attendant when he visits the mortal realm."
Gong De Tian touched a delicate finger to still her loverís fuming. "Are we to spend our time together talking of your father or did you wish to engage in more pleasant pursuits?" She looked past his elfin eartip to the verdant grass beyond. A picnic was spread. Wine, fruit, sweetmeats of all descriptions- including a bright pink mound of cotton candy- waited.
"Oh definitely," Puck said as he pulled the petite beauty toward the spread. "Letís change the subject. So, how Ďbout those Giants?"
Gong De Tian frowned in confusion. "Giants, what giants? I know nothing of the doings of any giants."
"It was a joke, honey." Puck frowned and touched a long finger to his chin in contemplation. "Maybe that was too regional." He shrugged. "Oh well. Tell you what, as soon as I finish this Xanatos gig, Iíll take you to a game. Maybe Iíll even explain the joke."
Gong De Tian smiled. "I would like that." She was silent for several moments as she framed a question that had troubled her for some time. "Puck. Your father has forgiven you. Queen Titania enjoys having you about the court. Why then do you tarry in the mortal realm. Why will you not come home to Avalon?"
Puck looked up from the gigantic sandwich he was building. Not halfway complete, it towered three feet above the picnic blanket and contained a sampling of nearly everything Gong De Tian had provided plus a few things heíd conjured out of the air. "I told you, baby, I canít. I promised Davy boy Iíd take care of him until the day he died."
Gong De Tian toyed with a slice of apple. "And what of the child?"
Puck balanced his now completed sandwich on one finger, before letting it fall. He caught the stack a second before it fell completely apart, reshuffled it like a deck of cards and compressed it until it was small enough to cram into his mouth. He chewed around it, spraying crumbs and made a dismissive gesture with his now free hands. "Alex is a good kid. Youíd like him. Bright as a button." He gulped, took a hearty swig of wine and belched. "He started spell casting before he was out of nappies. For a quarterling that kid has loads of natural talent."
A small mew of discontent marred delicate features. "But is it your lot to watch over him as well," she pressed. "To be there for every step of his life?"
The trickster looked slightly offended. "Alex is practically family, of course his Uncle Puck is going to watch out for him." The trickster set his goblet down and took his loverís hand. "Gong De Tian, Iím going to do something I absolutely hate," He forced all levity from his normally jocular mien. "Iím going to get serious. I promise you. As soon as my service to David Xanatos is complete, I will go before the court and my father and ask for your hand. And I wonít take Ďnoí for an answer." He looked up at her with pleading eyes. "Okay?"
Gong De Tian smiled. "Very well, my trickster. I shall hold you to that vow."
He extracted a giant purple polkadotted handkerchief from the depths of his sleeve and wiped his brow. "Sheesh, Iím glad thatís over, nearly thirty seconds without cracking a joke. I think thatís a record." He looked at his companion slyly. "I think I disserve a reward." He pulled Gong De Tian into his embrace. "Comeíre dollface."
Somewhere in the back of his head, Puck knew their time was growing short. He kissed Gong De Tian with fervency. The verdant glade, the waterfall, the twittering birds and the brilliant flowers faded away as the two fay made love.
The mundane shapes chosen for life in the physical realm lost cohesion and the very essences of two became one merging in undulating formless sensual energy. The creatures of the forest cried out in longing as they sought their mates. A yellow rain of pollen floated down over awakening buds that lifted their faces to the shower. Soon every living thing in the place between times was caught up in the rapturous union of Gong De Tian and Puck.
Rainbow lights exploded over the trysting place. Gradually the cacophony subsided and the glade was peaceful once more. Puck grinned down on the still panting Gong De Tian and kissed her sweetly. He helped her to sitting and surveyed the now wilted flowers and a pair of exhausted rabbits. "Wow."
"Wow, indeed," she replied. "Do you think a mortal year will be long enough to recover your strength?"
Puck looked affronted. "Give me six months, baby and Iíll be good to go again." He conjured his pocket watch out of the air. It hovered on the edge of 12:01. "Speaking of which." He rose to his feet, pulled Gong De Tian to hers and gave her one last hug. "Gotta go, babe." Puck opened a portal and prepared to step through. He gave his love a wistful smile. "Until next year."
She raised a hand in farewell as Puck stepped through and disappeared.
* * *
Owen Burnett reappeared in the butlerís pantry and automatically straightened his tie. He selected a fresh tray of finger sandwiches from the refrigerator, reset the parsley garnish flattened by the plastic wrap and carried them into the party offering one to Fox.
She glanced at the diamond-encrusted watch on her wrist and smiled slyly. "Back on the clock, Owen?"
"Indeed, madam." He handed her the tray. "If youíll excuse me, Iíll check on Alex and then I have agendas to prepare for next week."
"Of course." She looked thoughtfully at the tall spare man whose life was so entwined with that of her family. "Are you all right? You look a little tired. Why donít you take the rest of the night off."
"Thank you, Mrs. Xanatos." He dipped his head for a moment. "And may I add, Happy New Year."