Mistress of Dreams

Written by: Madame Destine
Email: m_destine@hotmail.com

Illustration by: Alison Wilgus

Disclaimer: This is a work of fan fiction. The characters belong to their various creators: Buena Vista Television / The Walt Disney Company and The Gargoyles Saga, and they are used without their express knowledge or consent.

Warning: This is a work of adult fan fiction. It contains explicit depictions of sex, adult language, and is intended for mature readers only. If you are under the age of consent, please stop reading now.

* * * * *

All was not going well in the Great Hall in the castle on the mystical isle of Avalon. King Oberon and Queen Titania were seated upon twin thrones, surrounded by their closest retainers and advisors. In a tight cluster at Oberon's shoulder stood three women, triplets save for the color of their hair. Titania sat to his left, guarded by a broad-chested gargoyle of silver-green skin, vaguely canine features and a dour demeanor. At her feet sat an oversized rabbit, once known in the mortal world as a Pookah, and perched on his knee sat a tiny man smoking a briar pipe. All watched the proceedings with worry as a woman dressed in finely tailored leather hunting garb gave her report to the king and queen.

"He slipped away again?" Oberon roared with barely contained fury. "How is this possible?"

"My Lord," Diana, patron of hunters everywhere dropped to her knee before the royal pair in acknowledgement of her defeat. "We had him trapped in a small English village on the shore of the Thames. The traitor's capture seemed assured. But then an odd fog came up, obscuring everything."

"Fah!" Oberon dismissed. "The Queen of the Hunt confused by a fog? You must do better than that, Diana."

"It was no ordinary fog, my lord," the huntress explained. "It was tainted with a powerful human magic, the likes of which I've never encountered. Our senses were confounded utterly by strange colors and smells. It would seem our prey has allies versed in both the arcane and modern sciences. Coupled with his own natural abilities it makes him a worthy opponent."

"I'm glad that Garlon is keeping you amused," Titania remarked dryly. "However, I would ask you to keep in mind that this hunt is no idle pastime. We expect results and soon."

"Yes, my lady." Diana rose to her feet. "If I might return to my troops?" she asked, eager to be away from the court and back onto the chase.

Oberon waved his hand in annoyance. "You are dismissed," he added sourly, as if he was surprised she was still standing before them.

A moment later Diana was gone, only to be replaced by an Asiatic woman who could only be described as luminously beautiful. She was petite, barely five feet tall, with long black hair that fell like an ebony waterfall all the way to her delicate heels. She held between slender fingers a large ivory pearl that gleamed in the candlelight of the great hall.

"Be welcome, Gong De Tian," Titania said in greeting to the luck goddess. "How fared your travels in the mortal world?"

The diminutive woman bowed deeply from the waist before replying. "Well, my lady. My lord. These mortals, despite their protestations of cynicism, want and need our guidance now more than ever."

Titania gave Oberon a subtly triumphant glance. "You see, my husband? It is as I explained before. We have a place yet in the mortal world. There can be little harm in allowing the experiment to continue on a limited basis."

"To continue to allow those of our kind to mentor humans, to strengthen their belief in the magical and the mystical as a insurance against additional insurrection?" The idea was clearly distasteful to the king of the fay. He mulled it over for a time, adding under his breath, "Still it was convenient to have those human warriors." After several moments he yielded with grace to his queen. "Very well," he conceded. "You may continue your experiment." Oberon returned his attention to the waiting Gong De Tian. "And you, my child, may return to the mortal realm. Though feel free to tarry for a time on Avalon's fair shores. Your grace and beauty have been missed."

Gong De Tian smiled at Oberon and Titania eyed her spouse sharply. The luck goddess, sensing the increase in tension between the pair, bowed hastily and retreated from the audience chamber, ignoring the titters and sharp comments that followed in her wake.

The undercurrent of conversation among the courtiers abruptly stilled as a low rumble resembling the crash of thunder over the sea filled the room. A flash of green light glowed briefly. The Seelie king and queen exchanged surprised glances as a tall man, muscular as a wild stallion, emerged from the portal. He waved the golden trident that he held in his left hand and the sound of the sea died away. Despite his neatly groomed appearance, long chestnut curls held by a circlet of finely wrought gold and a tunic of the finest ivory linen, he had an air of untamed energy about him that caused those nearest to him to step back and out of his way as he approached the dais.

"Lord Poseidon," Oberon drawled with barely contained annoyance. "We did not call you to our service."

Poseidon straightened from his courtly bow, masking his distaste for Oberon's indolent pose by focusing on the interest in Queen Titania's keen eyes.

"However, you are always welcome in our presence, my lord," the queen of the fay amended to temper her husband's rudeness. "Is everything well in your undersea realm?"

"I would not stray from my ocean depths were it not a matter of the gravest urgency," Poseidon replied decorously to Oberon. He shook his head before addressing Queen Titania. "No, my lady it is not. The prisoner in my charge has undergone a great decline. I fear for her health and perhaps," he added after a pause, "her life."

Titania leaned forward, assessing the lord of the seas. His eyes, normally a merry, dancing green, were dark with worry. There was a slump to his regal carriage, which seemed to indicate he was under a great strain.

"So the harridan is finally receiving the fruits of her labor." Oberon yawned. "I fail to see how this should be of interest to us."

"The harridan," Titania corrected gently, "is our kinswoman, the lady Maeve. Though she has behaved badly and deserves the punishment that has been meted out to her, she is still our responsibility."

"I do not understand her malady, my queen," Poseidon lamented. "Her jailers, the ladies Asia and Telesto, have treated her most gently. Even when she was being... difficult. Philyra, who is a gifted healer, is perplexed by her lassitude and faltering wellbeing. It is as if she has given up the will to live."

Poseidon, having finished his report, shifted his trident and fell into a parade-rest stance. A low buzz of gossipy conversation resumed as those attending the king and queen speculated on Maeve, the late co-leader of the Unseelie court's, fate.

Oberon was clearly bored by the subject, and Poseidon's presence. The two had never gotten along well, falling often on opposite sides of the prevailing debate. At one time, Poseidon had briefly lead a minor uprising against the Seelie lord, though it was nothing on the scale of Madoc's insurrection. "I leave it to you, my queen," he said before passing a hand over his body and dematerializing to other, more amusing, pursuits.

Titania's normally pale green skin darkened before she growled, "Leave us," to the muttering courtiers. The room lit here and there with tiny multi-colored flashes as portals winked in and out of existence, transporting their conjurers to other, safer, environs. Soon, Titania and Poseidon were alone.

The fairy queen stood and descended the dais, indicating to Poseidon to join her in a small chamber at the back of the main audience hall. She poured honey-wine, handing a chalice to her guest as she bade him to sit and take his ease. "Now my lord, Poseidon," she said, "tell me about Maeve's difficulties and leave nothing out."

Poseidon drew a deep breath. "As you command, my lady." He attempted to settle himself more comfortably on the low couch before beginning to speak again. "As our Lord Oberon decreed, I took the lady Maeve into my custody and put her into the care of the daughters of Tethys. Asia and Telesto, most excellent and capable sisters became her principal jailers almost immediately upon Maeve's arrival...

* * *

The Undersea Palace of Poseidon

The portal opened with a flash of eldritch light and Poseidon, Maeve flung over his shoulder, returned home. As he entered the courtyard he was surrounded by curious members of the sea-dwelling community, minor fay who preferred the ocean depths to the green shores of Avalon. Neirids jostled merfolk and dolphins for a better view of the royal prisoner.

As soon as Poseidon set her on her feet, Maeve ceased to keen. She slumped to her knees in a posture of defeat and ignored the curious throng.

"Telesto! Asia! Attend me!" Poseidon cried.

From among the curious, two eternally young women emerged. Telesto was tall and fair, her eyes a rich jade green. Her waist-length hair was the color of palest gold and held neatly in place by ropes of bright orange coral beads woven among the heavy plaits. Her sister, Asia was her opposite. Tiny, yet sturdily built, her features were finely wrought but darkly cast. Her mouth, now drawn in a frown, seemed more suited to laughing. She was the first to speak. "How may we serve, Lord Poseidon?" she asked as she ducked her head in a respectful bow.

Poseidon addressed the pair but spoke loudly enough so that the crowd that surrounded them could hear clearly. "We have been charged by Lord Oberon to take custody of the once Lady Maeve, traitor to her people. You shall be her jailers. Watch her carefully," Poseidon instructed, "for she is capable of great cunning and guile." His voice softened. "But I charge you to treat her well, for though she is a prisoner now, she was once among the greatest of our kind."

The sisters regarded their charge with a mixture of awe and curiosity. The once regal Maeve was stripped of her customary battle armor and dressed in a simple, shapeless tunic. Her aura of power, normally a nearly palpable presence, was faded to near human level. Only the bubble of air supplied by Poseidon kept her from drowning. "Why has Oberon sent her to us?" Telesto asked curiously. "Would she not be more suited to the care of The Three?"

Poseidon considered his prisoner for a moment before replying. "She was the object of the Sister's tender mercies. However, I'm afraid that Maeve, in her grief over her defeat and perhaps over the loss of 'He Whose Name May No Longer Be Spoken', has been driven mad. Though she was locked in the furthest corner of the isle, her screams could be heard all over Avalon. It was thought that perhaps her sentence would be better carried out here, where the tranquility of the sea might bring her peace."

"Where shall we put her, my lord?" Asia queried as she considered the problem. "Perhaps the coral grotto? It has a wonderful view of the seahorses."

"An excellent idea, young Asia. Take her there and make her comfortable. Treat her as you might a mortal. Give her food and fresh water, for she will need both while she dwells among us."

Maeve's head rose for the first time as Asia and Telesto moved toward her. She didn't seem to see them as they took hold of her arms and gently lifted her to her feet. Instead, Maeve, once-mighty ruler of the Unseelie horde, opened her mouth and resumed wailing. The curious drew back and schools of tiny fish scattered as the tormented woman began to rant. "I am your Queen! You shall all pay for your treachery! Release me and give me my due!"

Poseidon gestured and a pair of burly mermen came forward to assist Telesto and Asia. Caught in their grasp, Maeve had no choice but to rise and be escorted to her new home.

* * *

On Avalon

"And so, her time among us began," Poseidon continued. "At first she was insensible with rage. She screamed, she ranted, she threw things. No one among us had any peace. The gentle creatures under my protection fled to the furthest reaches of my kingdom.

"I sent for Philyra, another daughter of Tethys and the most gifted healer among my subjects. She plied Maeve with soothing draughts and after a season passed, our prisoner began to calm."

"She began to regain her reason?" Titania asked as she leaned forward to refill Poseidon's glass.

He shook his head. "It seemed for a time that she might. The mindless ranting ceased only to be replaced by tantrums and fits of temper. These we endured until at last she spent more days at peace than in darkness."

"But yet all is not well," Titania surmised.

"For a time she became quiet, complacent, as if she had accepted her fate. Her jailers allowed her time out of her rooms under the strongest of wards and the strictest of guards. She seemed to take interest in wandering among the coral gardens. The parrotfish amused her greatly. We held great hope that perhaps Maeve would be healed. Unfortunately, this was not to be. The quiet turned to lassitude and then depression.

"Now, she refuses to leave her rooms, seems scarcely to rise from her couch. Philyra can do nothing to rouse her." Poseidon regarded his queen with a frank gaze. "Maeve has spent over three hundred years among my people as the mortals judge time. She is not a creature of the water but of the land and air. I know her sentence was to remain among my subjects until the islands rise from the sea, but I believe that should she dwell longer among us she will die."

The fairy queen considered her guest's assessment. "Is this also Philyra's judgement?"

Poseidon nodded. "It was she who suggested we return her to Avalon, my lady. Perhaps Diancecht, the court physician, might have better luck returning health to Maeve."

"Very well," Titania grudgingly agreed. "You have my leave to return your prisoner to Avalon."

Poseidon nodded and rose to his feet. "I must confess, my lady, that I feel as if a great burden has been lifted from my shoulders." Indeed the sea king looked much more at ease than he had upon his arrival at court.

"As it has," Titania replied. "Go now. When you return, bring Maeve to the Great Hall. I suspect her arrival will prove instructive to any others who might hold disloyal thoughts close to their breasts."

"As you command, my lady." Poseidon bowed deep from the waist before turning on his heel and raising his trident to summon a portal.

The tang of salt water hung in the air long after the eldritch light faded, leaving Titania alone to gather her thoughts.

* * * * *

"Oh fie! I've dropped a stitch," Princess Katharine said crossly as she studied the elaborate lace tablecloth taking form under her nimble fingers.

Tom, seated in a high-backed chair on the opposite side of the fire, looked up from his book. He examined the intricate tatting created from silk finer than a spider's web and shook his head in amazement. "Only one?" the guardian said. "If it were me, I'd have made a knotted mess instead of something as beautiful as that shawl."

"'Tis a table cloth," Katharine corrected fondly. "Or at least it will be if I can keep my mind on my work. There was a terrible row in the Great Hall earlier. Lord Oberon was most displeased that his knights allowed Garlon to slip through their fingers again."

"The king can yell, can't he?" Tom said with a smile. "Still, I understand his worry. Garlon's too powerful to be left to his own devices. If they don't catch him, you can be sure he'll be causing trouble soon enough." The Guardian rose from his chair and went to his companion. Gently, he wrested the fine bone needles and elaborate stitchery from her hands and trailed a finger along the crest of her cheekbone. "Why don't you put that aside and come walk with me in the garden. There's a fine full moon tonight."

Katharine giggled and averted her eyes. "Och, Tom, ye make me feel like a maid."

"And is that so terrible? You're as fair as a girl of twenty," he replied as he turned Katharine's face back toward his and leaned forward to kiss her softly.

There was a loud knock at the door. "Princess! Princess!"

Katharine sighed as she broke the kiss and Tom straightened and stepped away. "What is it, Ophelia?"

The door swung open and a female gargoyle with a triangular and tri-horned skull plate entered. "I'm sorry to disturb you Princess, or you, Guardian," she added politely, "but we've all been summoned to the Great Hall." The gargoyle lowered her voice. "I heard it has something to do with Lord Poseidon's visit earlier."

"Indeed," Tom said softly. "Maeve's jailer and another report of the Unseelie general all in the same day? This is interesting indeed."

"Aye," Katharine agreed. "I fear that walk in the garden will have to wait, Tom." She rose to her feet and stepped to her mirror, tucking a few stray strands back into her braid and smoothing her gown before accepting Tom's upraised forearm. "Shall we?"

* * *

An air of barely suppressed excitement permeated the audience chamber as Titania and Oberon entered a short while later. The fairy king's good temper had been restored in the interim. His aides and courtiers breathed a collective sigh of relief as he took his place at the dais and invited several of the more diminutive elves and sprites to take places of honor at his feet, so that they might more readily see the coming proceedings.

At a signal from Titania, Gabriel and five of his brothers and sisters took up their positions on either side of the dais and fell into positions of battle readiness.

Katharine, who was stationed close enough to see the proceedings but near enough to an exit to be hustled away by others in the gargoyle contingent should anything untoward occur, said to Tom, "Och, my Eggs seem so fierce when they glower so."

"Don't they though?" Tom replied with noticeable pride. "Always give the impression you're willin' to rip your opponent to shreds. It saves a considerable amount of actual wear and tear on the troops. Or so old Robbi told me when I was still a lad."

Desdemona, who was standing to Katharine's left, opened her mouth to comment but closed it as Oberon rose. The assembly quieted and the King of the Fay spoke. "Hear me, dwellers of Avalon, and let it be known. While we believe judgement should be swift and retribution harsh," he allowed his gaze to travel leisurely over the assembly, pausing from time to time on members of the court who had found themselves with mixed loyalty, "especially when dealing with traitors, we are a fair being. It has come to our attention that Maeve, currently residing in the custody of Poseidon's realm of the triangle, is in failing health. Though it is our judgement that Maeve shall spend the rest of her days under lock and key, it is not our intention to hasten the day of her demise. Therefore, we have decided that Maeve shall be returned to fair Avalon in order to allow its healing magics to restore her."

The crowd began to buzz with speculation. Was Oberon truly feeling pity for his enemy, or did he wish to restore her health only to torment her further?

Oberon waived a hand, effectively silencing the crowd. "Poseidon," he called, "bring forth your prisoner."

The sound of the sea covered the buzz of the courtiers and a portal opened. Poseidon emerged, accompanied by petite Asia and willowy Telesto and their sister, the healer Philyra. Between them, they supported Maeve. Behind them, standing at battle readiness, was a contingent of mermen. Though they were human-like in form, having been granted the use of legs for the occasion, with their odd, widely set eyes and the gill slits in their necks, there was no way they would be mistaken long for mortal men.

The crowd gasped as the party marched Maeve to the dais and stepped back slightly, allowing her to collapse at Oberon's feet. The former Unseelie queen slumped in utter resignation, ignoring the throng around her. Her features were unnaturally wan, haggard even, and there were streaks of gray in her raven and emerald tresses. Her body, once the pinnacle of physical perfection, seemed to be affected by the ravages of some hideous wasting disease. It was with difficulty that she rose to her knees and acknowledged her captors before slumping back to the ground.

"Lord Poseidon," Titania said, clearly appalled, "why did you not alert us sooner of your prisoner's condition?"

The sea king bowed his head. "My lady, the prisoner was not nearly so infirm when I came to you with my concerns. It was only upon her return that she became so afflicted."

"Could it have been the journey through time?" Titania mused to Diancecht who stood next to her on the dais.

The elderly healer nodded thoughtfully. "Perhaps the differential in the passage of time... it flows so much faster there than here. If, in her diminished condition, time suddenly slowed... Well, no matter," he said as he advanced on his patient. "I'll do all I can." His thoughts were already away from Titania and on to Maeve as he began to pepper Philyra and the others with questions.

"Remove her from our sight," Oberon ordered the Weird Sisters who stood at his shoulder.

"As you command, my lord," the trio replied in one multi-harmonic voice.

The sisters took charge of Maeve, brushing aside Poseidon's contingent and lifting the sickly woman to her feet with lashes of green energy.

"Gently!" Diancecht protested

"Have care!" Philyra added as the two healers fell in step behind their prisoner.

The Sister's snorted at the pair's concerns, but under the watchful eye of Titania they eased up slightly on their reins as they escorted Maeve from the audience chamber.

"Will you dwell among us?" Titania invited as Poseidon gathered the rest of his party to him.

Poseidon considered the question for a moment. His guardsmen seemed ill at ease in their pseudo-humanoid guise and the sisters seemed over-awed with the sheer number of courtiers present. "Perhaps another time, my lady. Though I thank you for your hospitality."

Titania inclined her head slightly. "Then go, Lord Poseidon, with our thanks."

The party of sea-dwellers wasted no time, disappearing promptly into a swirling vortex of energy. Those that remained made hasty excuses to their king and queen and left in groups of twos and threes to mull over Maeve's condition in other, more private, surroundings.

* * * * *


Angela stood in the main kitchen of the Xanatos household and sighed as she examined the drooping leaves of a once luxuriant houseplant. The plant had been a mating gift from her rookery siblings, a reminder of the lush forests of Avalon. A year ago, it had been robust and bursting with life, the leaves a brilliant shade of deepest green. Now, it seemed in danger of dying. The main stalk was bare of new buds. The little foliage that remained was a sickly yellow. "I just don't understand," she said as she trimmed off yet another brown and crumbling branch, "what could be the matter with it? I've fed it and watered it, given it plenty of sun and moonlight..." Gently, she worked her talons into the soil and lifted the plant from the ceramic pot. "Look how cramped it is," the gargoyle chided herself. "It probably needs a bigger container. In fact," she added as she recalled the full-grown specimens of her youth on Avalon, "I'll bet it'd be happier growing in the arboretum where it could really stretch its roots."

Carefully, she coaxed a few of the fleshy appendages free, then replaced the plant gently back into its container. "I'll ask Fox," the young gargoyle decided, "if it'd be all right to give my plant a new home."

She paused to clean the last of the bits of potting soil off the immaculate countertop, then went in search of her benefactress.

* * * * *

Elisa flicked a cat o' nine tails in the general direction of her latest "slave" and sighed inwardly. "Be gone, unworthy one," she added in deference to the vaguely Arabian scenario the john had requested.

"Thank you, mistress," the man replied eagerly, clasping his hands together in front of his bare chest and bowing low.

Elisa winced as he crawled on his hands and knees, first to kiss the tip of her pointed slipper and then backward out of the room.

When she was sure he'd gone and wasn't hanging around the door to the private suite, hoping to be caught and punished some more, she kicked the shoes off towards the furthest corner of the room and growled in frustration. She hated working Vice. She loathed working undercover vice. And her contempt for her current detail was beyond description.

Three weeks of playing out call mistress to sickos like the pathetic excuse for a man she'd been entertaining for the last hour. His idea of a good time involved spankings, bondage and humiliation, but fortunately, no actual sex. Still, it was enough to turn her stomach and she was glad to be rid of him.

She checked her pager, thoughtfully provided by the escort service, saw that she'd been dismissed for the evening, and changed out of the harem get up and into a pair of tight black leather pants and matching halter top. The clothes were hardly her first choice, but for her undercover persona of Mistress Annalise, they were the equivalent of dress casual.

The dark-haired woman freshened her makeup, tied a scarf over her head, pulling it well onto her forehead, then slid on a pair of unnecessary dark-blue tinted glasses onto the bridge of her nose. Satisfied she'd left nothing behind, she dug the keys for the department-issued roadster out of her purse, shut off the light and headed for the rooming house she was currently calling home.

* * * * *

Fox was just exiting the gymnasium, a towel wrapped around her neck and racquetball racquet in hand when Angela caught up with her, still carrying the beleaguered plant.

"That poor thing," the redheaded woman muttered as Angela explained her plan. "Of course you can move it out there." A leaf fluttered to the floor. "I only hope it's not too late."

Angela hesitated for a moment before replying. "I had some thoughts along those lines too," she admitted. "Which is why I thought I'd ask your advice about the other part of my plan. I thought I might try bringing some fresh soil from Avalon, you know, to give it a boost," she finished.

Fox paused, considering the idea. "You'd want to open a portal, and transport the earth. Are you sure you're up to that kind of spellcasting?"

The lavender female nodded. "I think so, although having another Sensitive present to enhance my energies might be a good idea. Will you help me?"

Eager for the chance to put her long-ignored and still fledgling abilities to work, Fox assented. "Give me a little while to clean up and center. Say... midnight?"

Angela smiled. "I'll be ready."

The pair parted company, each to tend to their own preparations.

* * * * *

Elisa punched the pillow underneath her head and stared at the water-stained ceiling above the bed. She was too keyed-up to sleep and bored out of her mind. The bed was uncomfortable, the mattress lumpy and the pillows flat.

Deciding that it wouldn't be out of character for her persona, Annalise, to be an insomniac, she rose and dressed quickly, then took a long and convoluted drive through the dying Manhattan traffic. She let her mind drift and the car travel where it might. Still, Elisa was startled when she found herself pulling into the underground parking lot adjacent to the Eyrie Building. "Must be fate," Elisa commented to herself dryly as she pulled into a secluded parking space and sauntered to the freight elevator.

Still, she waited until the elevator doors were securely closed before whipping out her compact and a handkerchief and removing as much of the garish makeup as possible and restoring her hair to something closer to its normal style.

* * * * *

Elisa was still fussing with her hair as the elevator reached the main residence level of Castle Wyvern. The doors slid smoothly open to reveal the great hall, nearly empty save for the presence of Owen Burnett, the Xanatos household's loyal retainer. "Good evening, Owen," Elisa said in response to the majordomo's monotone greeting. "Have you seen Goliath tonight?"

Caught in the act of taking his master's late supper to the office suite, the tall, spare man parked the serving cart and turned to address the police detective. "When I last checked, all of the gargoyles were out on patrol, save Miss Angela. She was working in the arboretum. Perhaps you will still find her there."

Elisa smiled as Owen took up his trolley. "Thanks, I think I'll go say 'hi'. Otherwise, if you see Goliath, will you tell him I'll be in our suite?"

The butler nodded his assent and, without any other comment, returned to his task.

Humming a little to herself, Elisa turned the opposite direction toward the garden, the tension in her shoulders beginning to ease at last.

* * * * *

Meanwhile, in the kingdom of Avalon, the Three Sisters, having taken a break from their duties tending the once powerful Maeve, had grown bored with their appointed task and were looking for a way to liven things up.

"'Tis a pity, sisters, that so many of our trickster brethren have been sent out into the world," the platinum-haired one remarked as she watched their prisoner sulk among the garden flowers. "We could use their lively wit. Court has become a very dull place of late."

"Indeed," her ebony-haired triplet replied. "Though, I suspect it would not take much to stir the pot. Consider for a moment our king." With a deft motion of her hand, Selene created a tiny vortex. A beach on the far shore of Avalon materialized in between her hands.

The trio watched with interest as Gong De Tian, with Oberon at her elbow, walked along the shoreline, the waves lapping at her bare feet. The fairy king was pressing his advantage, and the delicate luck goddess, though she was playing coy, was also clearly enjoying her lord's advances as she succumbed to his kiss.

"Indeed," the final member of the triad commented. "The queen might be interested in such a pleasant scene. Do you not agree, my sisters?"

* * *

Angela placed the sickly houseplant in the center of a carefully dug hole, which was in turn in the center of a ring of carefully placed candles. She surveyed the setup, mentally ticking items off her checklist as her gaze traveled slowly around the chalk circle. "I think we're just about ready," the gargoyle said to her companion.

"That's good," Fox replied. She'd showered and changed her clothes; the ends of her bright auburn hair were still damp. "It's nearly midnight. We'd better light the candles."

Angela drew a deep breath, centering herself, and Fox did the same. "Right," the gargoyle replied nervously. "Here we go." Striking a match, she lit two tapered candles and handed one of them to Fox. Together, the pair circled slowly around the wilted plant and began to chant.

* * *

"What do you suppose our queen will do when she learns of this, my sisters?" Luna wondered aloud, her eyes not straying from the scene playing out in miniature in her dark-haired sister's hands.

"Perhaps she will bid us to administer Gong de Tian's punishment," Selene answered. "That may prove a short but pleasant diversion."

"Or perhaps when it is stripped from her, we will be granted the assignment that allows her to travel as she pleases into the mortal world," Phoebe suggested, her tone hopeful.

The Three, thus engaged in plotting among themselves, took no notice of Maeve as she wandered aimlessly about the garden. After a few moments spent examining a caterpillar inching its way along a tree branch, she seemed to tire, and came to rest near a small pond. She sat on a marble bench and trailed her fingers in the cool, blue water, mumbling softly to herself. The full moon reflected in the pool and energy began to gather as she called forth magic from earth, sky and water.

Minutes passed. Strain that she had so successfully feigned became genuine as powers that had once come as easily as breathing eluded her grasp. Her head dipped further toward the water, and so intense was her concentration that she did not notice the gargoyle until she had gently laid her talons upon the warrior-queen's shoulder.

The gargoyle, a rather plain lass whose only distinguishable feature was a crown of horned ridges along her upper skull, was named Sarah. She had an interest in the healing arts, and the prisoner had aroused her curiosity. Injured bodies she had treated often, for her rookery siblings took their warrior training seriously, but an injured mind like Maeve's was a rare thing. "I beg your pardon," she asked quietly, "but are you all right?"

Maeve's head reared back and her emerald eyes glinted in anger. Sarah removed her hand and stepped back automatically. "You seemed in danger of toppling into the water," she said in a soothing tone. "I did not wish you to come to any harm."

"How...thoughtful of you," the prisoner replied, masking her disgust at the gargoyle's touch. "Melancholia does seem to be my constant companion. And the gentle waters were so tranquil I sought only to comfort myself in their embrace." She ducked her head and waved a hand over the rippling water, obliterating the tiny focus point she'd created. Unfocused energy danced, her spell verged on ruination. Thinking quickly, Maeve clasped Sarah's talons briefly in her free hand and pictured the result of her handiwork, completing the spell. The homely gargoyle wasn't the perfect vessel, but she would have to do.

"Sarah, Sarah," a deep masculine voice called. It drew a happy smile from Maeve's benefactress and a frown from the Three Sisters, who suddenly noticed that their charge was no longer alone.

A powerfully built, sandy colored gargoyle entered the clearing, and Maeve smiled inwardly even as the Sisters approached. "This might work out after all," she thought to herself, even as Sarah broke away without so much as a "by your leave," to nuzzle her newly arrived beau suggestively under the chin.

* * *

Elisa's tuneless whistle died as she entered the arboretum and caught the scent of burning beeswax and tallow. She stood, allowing her eyes to adjust to the dim light, and hesitantly began to move toward Angela and Fox. They stood, eyes closed, in a corner of the verdant greenhouse, the full moon seeming to reflect the candles' glow, turning their light a strange, misty blue.

Suddenly, the energy level in the chamber increased and the hair danced on the back of Elisa's neck. The power swirled and eddied around the pair of sorceresses. The two seemed to lift from the ground... or was the earth growing beneath their feet? Yes, that was it, Elisa realized. The ground beneath their feet was lifting and changing. A plant was emerging from the center of the circle of candles. At first it was brown and diseased, but before her eyes it transformed, new wood sprouting and leafing out. A final thrill of energy tickled Elisa's spine and then died, leaving her feeling energized and enervated, and impatient for Goliath's return. Suddenly unwilling to disturb Angela and Fox as they completed the remaining lines of their ritual, the detective quietly exited the arboretum.

* * * * *

Angela stretched and winced as she released the last of the magical wards, and Fox grimaced in sympathy. "Here," she said, "let me." She reached forward and began to knead at Angela's tension-knotted shoulders. "There now, Angela," Fox spoke softly in her ear, "how does that feel?"

Angela tipped her head back and let out a small sigh as the tension faded from the aching muscles in her shoulders. "Mmm," was her only reply as the human woman's fingers danced over her skin, applying pressure in just the right places as she massaged upward toward the base of her neck.

Fox smiled, and slid her hands down just a bit, pausing just above where the young gargoyle's wing arms met the back before returning them to Angela's shoulders. The red-haired woman gave a soft chuckle as Angela's wings trembled ever so slightly under her touch. "See, I told you I could make you feel better," she teased.

"Spellcasting just takes so much out of me," Angela murmured, her wings falling limp as she allowed Fox to move in closer behind her. The exhaustion and soreness that had filled her whole body just a few minutes before was evaporating quickly, replaced by a pleasant, warm tingle that grew with each successive caress from Fox's skilled hands.

"You have to admit," Fox intoned gently, trailing the tips of her fingers up along the gargoyle's neck and over the pointed tips of her ears, "we do make a wonderful team."

Angela arched her neck back even more, leaning into the caress as Fox's fingertips traced along her brow ridge. "Yes," she answered, nearly breathless, "we do."

Fox smiled again. Her hands slid back to Angela's shoulders as she brought herself in closer, pressing her own body against the girl. "So maybe there's some other ways we can make a little magic together, Angie," she whispered, moving her head just slightly so that her lips were only inches from Angela's right ear.

Fox's fingers caught hold of the thin straps of Angela's tunic, pushing them aside and then down off her shoulders. One hand then moved to the laces at the front, but found Angela's taloned hands already there. With one small tug, the rough material abruptly loosened, and Fox's hand slipped beneath, caressing the warm, soft mound of the girl's left breast.

Angela arched back, giving a soft gasp, and her eyes fluttered shut as gentle fingertips teased the rapidly hardening nipple. Heat and desire rose within her, and she curled her tail about the human woman's leg as she turned her head slightly. Parting her lips, she captured Fox's in a passionate kiss.

* * * * *

Fox slipped out of bed, quietly so as not to awaken David, and fumbled in the pre-dawn darkness to find her robe. She'd finally found time to go to bed around two o'clock, after completing the last of her charity correspondence and reviewing the agenda for an upcoming Cyberbiotics meeting, and found her husband already asleep. It was a rare thing for David to precede her to bed, but he'd been working hard, preparing for a director's meeting of his own, and the stress was telling.

Fox had settled in beside him, eager for rest, and had indeed dropped off briefly. But after about an hour of restless sleep, filled with erotic imagery, she gave in, crawled under the blankets and woke her sleeping spouse.

After some minor coaxing on her part, they had made love, first frantic and hungry, then slowly and with deliberation. It was some time later when sleep reclaimed them both. Almost immediately, the dream picked up where it left off.

"But Angela?" the redhead murmured to herself. "I mean, she's cute and all, and that tail has definite possibilities, but..." She shook her head, bemused, and rose to check on Alexander, who was already stirring in the nursery.

* * * * *

Back on Avalon...

Maeve hung her head, feigning contrition as the Weird Sisters led her back to her chamber. Secretly, she was gloating. Though Oberon had stripped her of her fay magics, reducing her skill level to less than that of a gifted human, she had used talents long honed in the mortal world, and combined them with Avalon's own natural magic to cast a spell that would disrupt her captors long enough for her to escape back into the mortal world.

Carefully, she stole a glance around her, noting with interest the sudden exchange of covert looks between the gargoyles who had previously been engaged in evening chores. As Sarah passed among her rookery siblings, Maeve's influence would be felt. It was only a matter of time...

* * * * *

Elisa grumbled to herself as she squeezed into the tight black dominatrix uniform of leather pants and bustier and wondered if the Captain would make good on her promise to take her off "permanent" volunteer status after the completion of the sting operation.

When she'd returned from the "World Tour" with Goliath and Angela, Elisa hadn't expected to be greeted back to the precinct with open arms. She really hadn't expected to be greeted back at all. But the Fates had been smiling on her. The half-truths she'd told about accidents and amnesia, and about the unbelievable series of events that had kept her away from a working telephone in the days of 24/7 communication, had been believed and accepted. For a price.

And Elisa had paid. She'd worked parades and parking details, covered shifts for brother and sister officers to make up for the cases they'd handled in her absence. When the Captain had asked for volunteers for loan-outs to other departments, Elisa had been the first one to rise to the challenge. Until this case. Then, she'd drawn the line.

After she'd intervened on behalf of Fox and her friends in the case of Reginald Blank, Elisa swore she'd never work another vice detail again. One walk through that particular cesspool had been enough for her. So when Captain Chavez had called the female officers into a special meeting and asked for volunteers to assist in a new vice sting, Elisa had sat quietly in the back of the meeting and said nothing as senior detectives explained the case.

They wanted to break up an out call prostitution ring that specialized in domination. Elisa had gotten a bad feeling in the pit of her stomach as the Lieutenant in charge explained the ring had been organized by a new crime syndicate hungry to carve itself a slice of the tightly controlled escort trade.

Someone had asked if they weren't helping the existing gangs. The Lieutenant had laughed grimly and shaken his head. This operation was part of a larger one. Once the taskforce operatives were in place, and the evidence gathered, it was all coming down.

The detectives had exchanged knowing glances. Pressure from above to clean up the city was behind the current campaign. It might work, for a short time. And then, the hustlers and the players would work their way back, slowly and carefully, and begin their exploitation of humanity's baser desires once again.

Still, nearly all those in the room had raised their hands, and the ribald jokes and snickers had begun to fly. Elisa thought she'd been unnoticed, sitting as she had been with the brim of her baseball cap pulled low over her eyes. But the Captain had noticed and whispered to the Lieutenant, and when the final roster of volunteers had been called Elisa's name was at the top of the list.

She'd protested, after the meeting, behind Captain Chavez's closed door. To no avail. But the Captain had conceded that perhaps the next time they needed volunteers, others in the squad might find themselves less busy than Elisa.

Elisa's pager chimed softly, breaking her reverie. She set down the hairbrush she'd been using to style her dark tresses into a severe ponytail and checked the number. A thrill raced up her spine. She'd had the number memorized for weeks; tactical was finally ready to move.

She glanced at the clock hanging crookedly on the wall opposite her bed. A limousine was due to take her to a party out on Long Island in less than ten minutes.

Gathering up several sets of handcuffs and other "tools of her trade," she smiled sourly as she contemplated the surprise of tonight's party guests. Maybe it wouldn't be such a bad evening after all.

* * * * *

Mistress Annalise gave the bare-chested man at her feet a sultry smile then snapped her whip, grazing his muscular back just above the waistband of his leather jock strap. The lash added an angry red stripe to a growing collection, and her slave flinched against the pain, even as he positioned himself for another blow.

"Thank you, mistress," he moaned in pleasure, "may I have another?" His well-shaped buttocks tilted upward inviting the next crack of the whip.

"Why not," she replied benevolently as the leather sang again. "Now be a good dog and fetch me a glass of sparkling water." 'Annalise' flicked her whip again, stinging the soles of his bare feet.

"At once." He scuttled away to do her bidding and Elisa found herself momentarily alone.

She surveyed the room, watching as similar scenes played out around her. Women stood, erect and haughty, as they ordered the twenty or so men present to cater to their every whim. The men were nude or nearly so, some wore tight leather shorts or thongs that captured their straining erections and held them tightly against their bodies. Most of them wore dog collars, many had shackles or other restraints around their wrists and ankles to increase their attitude of subservience to the whip and paddle armed women.

Elisa watched, semi-amused, as a dark-haired and bearded man crawled away dejectedly from a fellow undercover agent who had found his foot massage technique lacking. Though she found the idea of bondage personally distasteful, she did find a curious satisfaction in channeling her aggressions towards those who found it such a turn on.

"Over here, boy," she commanded imperiously.

The man perked up, and Elisa couldn't help but notice his resemblance to David Xanatos. It curdled her enthusiasm. Elisa momentarily broke character and looked away, noticing the number of "slaves" that were being led off to other parts of the house for advanced discipline. She hoped Vice would stage their raid soon, before she ran out of excuses for not participating in the games.

"Mistress," the bearded man said softly. 'Annalise' returned her attention to the business at hand and gave him a severe look. "You've found me unworthy." There was a hopeful tone in his voice. Elisa, having difficulty staying firmly in her role, wondered who he was in real life that made him long to be found so wanting.

"Perhaps," she replied, forcing herself to focus. "I haven't decide yet." Elisa examined her latest slave frankly. The resemblance to Xanatos faded as he exposed his neck, hoping perhaps for the feel of her boot against the tender flesh.

Not ten feet away, a real dominatrix ordered one of her slaves, a curly blond man, who looked as if he might be a stockbroker, to his knees in front of a second, thin, bearded man who had been deemed worthy of reward. With trembling hands and anxious eyes, the blond slave released the restraints that held his partner's turgid penis, and it sprang free. Elisa looked away as the blond swallowed hard and moistened his lips as he prepared to go down on his bearded companion. Her slave was still waiting for her orders.

"May I stand, mistress?" he asked, hoping to prompt a response. He had yet to meet her gaze.

"Very well. Rise if you must," Elisa fought down nausea and reminded herself that, to Annalise, one man going down on another on command was commonplace and barely worthy of her notice.

He stood, circling behind her. "May I touch you, mistress?"

Elisa hesitated for a moment, unsure of what he might do. "You may."

Gently he placed his fingers at the base of neck and began to rub her shoulders. "I wish only to please you."

He had, Elisa decided, very good hands. Her body, encased in its restraining clothing, welcomed the release of tension from her back and shoulders. His hands crept forward around her arms, touching the flesh at the swell of her overflowing bustier.

Her whip, held loosely in her right hand, snapped, catching her masseur against the back of his bare leg.

"Don't," she hissed through gritted teeth.

"Yes, mistress." He returned to his knees before her and placed his lips against her boot.

Elisa frowned but was instantly filled with a sense of relief as a disturbance from the front of the house caught her attention.

"Finally," she sighed with relief. She looked down at the handsome man still kissing her foot. "So you think you've been a very bad boy?"

He did not look up, but nodded his head in agreement.

"And you think you deserve punishment?" Elisa queried.

He nodded again.

"Good," she said as the commotion grew louder. "Because you're under arrest." She snapped a pair of cuffs off her belt and enclosed the man's wrists. "You have the right to remain silent."

* * * * *

Two paperwork-mired hours later found Elisa sitting at her desk filling out the last of her arrest reports. With a weary sigh, she shifted uncomfortably in her seat and cursed the tight leather jeans and high-heeled boots she wore in place of her normally well broken in denims and sneakers. "I can't believe I forgot to leave a change of clothes in my locker," the dark-haired woman muttered absently, as she signed off on the last of her documentation. "I can't wait to get home-" Elisa looked at her wristwatch and cursed the lateness of the hour. She'd promised Goliath she would spend the remainder of the evening at home with him at the castle. Suddenly overwhelmed by need to get away from the station and the prostitution case she had just completed, Elisa snagged Matt's top coat off the back of his chair, scrawled a quick note to explain its absence, and bolted from the police station.

* * * * *

Angela landed in the rooftop courtyard of the Eyrie Building with a gentle thump and furled her wings as her clan mates descended around her. Sata and Brooklyn immediately hustled the hatchlings off for a training session in the gymnasium to reinforce lessons taught during patrol, while Lexington tried to explain his latest computer project to Broadway.

The burly gargoyle shook his head as he half followed the conversation. "Uh, let's go over that last part one more time," he suggested. "I think you lost me back at the last gateway."

Angela trailed behind, still preoccupied by the odd dream she'd had the previous day. She wasn't sure which aspect of the dream puzzled her more. If she closed her eyes she could still practically feel Fox's lips upon her own. Yet her dreams were rarely vivid, and the imagery tended toward the abstract. The content of the dream was troubling as well. Why was she dreaming of Fox? Was it an aftereffect of their spellcasting? Angela shook her head, dismissing the notion. She'd shared magic before. Maybe she should consult her books. Or ask Owen, since Demona was out of town on travel and unavailable to consult.

Her musings were interrupted as Broadway broke away from his rookery brother and wrapped an arm around her shoulders. "Does that sound good to you, hon?"

The proximity of her mate startled her, but it also filled her with a warm, happy glow. "I'm sorry, my love," she replied. "I was wool gathering."

"That's okay," Broadway replied. "I just wanted to know if it was all right with you if I went over this computer stuff some more with Lex. It's almost making sense."

Angela kissed him on the cheek, proud of his efforts to find new common ground with his rookery brother. "Sure, I don't mind." A warm tingle went through her as she nuzzled him affectionately and caught a whiff of his scent. "Just don't be all night," she cautioned. "I was hoping for some alone time. Maybe up in my tower?"

Broadway rumbled softly in response. "I'll meet you there in an hour." He touched her hair where it was held back by its silver and onyx clip. "Maybe half an hour," he amended.

Angela swatted him playfully on the shoulder. "Go on, Lexington is waiting for you." She smiled as he ambled away.

Finding herself at loose ends, the young female decided to have a snack before retreating to her tower to await Broadway. She entered the small, galley-like kitchen and opened the freezer. "Darn," she muttered finding a carton, but no ice cream. "I wonder who's guilty this time?" She dropped the empty container into the trash bin and headed for the main kitchen, where she knew she'd find a ready supply.

"Butter brickle, strawberry, pistachio-" a familiar voice muttered from behind the open freezer door. Angela peeked around the corner and found Elisa, clad in tight leather pants and what seemed to be Matt Bluestone's trench coat, trolling among the contents of the well-stocked freezer.

"Angela. Hey," the detective greeted over her shoulder.

"Hi, Elisa," Angela replied. "Did you come straight here from work?" she inquired. "I mean, that's kind of a different look for you."

"Got you," the detective cried in triumph as she retrieved a pint container of plain vanilla ice cream from the freezer. She straightened and stepped back to allow Angela to make her own selection. "I did," Elisa replied, as she freed her hair from the severe ponytail. "And these are definitely not my clothes."

Just then, Fox, clad in emerald green silk lounging pajamas, entered, evidently also intent on a late snack.

"You should lose the trenchcoat," the redhead remarked as she reached around Angela and snagged a pint container at random. "But the rest of the outfit works. It should definitely get Goliath's motor running."

Elisa's eyes narrowed "Not that it's any of your business, Fox," she replied a shade more sharply than she intended, "but we do just fine without resorting to gimmicks."

Fox eyed Elisa's ice cream container and laughed. "Plain vanilla, huh? Why am I not surprised?"

"And what's wrong with vanilla?" the detective retorted.

The redhead winked at Angela, who was watching the odd exchange between her two friends with rapt attention. "Nothing, but if you don't experiment with the other flavors now and again, how will you know what you're missing?"

"And if you get a flavor you don't like?" Elisa retorted back.

Fox shrugged, even as she acknowledged Elisa's point. "Exercise your right to free choice. No one's forcing you to have the flavor of the month."

Angela nodded in agreement, missing the subtle change of subject between the two women. "She has a point, Elisa. Why, just last week I discovered bubble gum ice cream." The gargoyle lifted her own container to show off the label. "Sure, it was a little strange at first, but once I realized I didn't have to swallow-" the younger female broke off as Fox dissolved into a fit of snickers.

"What?" the gargoyle interjected, clearly at a loss.

Elisa, ill tempered and tired, picked up her carton, snagged a spoon from the dishwasher and took Angela by the elbow. "Forget it, Angela. I could explain, but tonight I haven't got the energy." She dropped her hand to her side and escaped the mocking laughter that still danced in Fox's eyes.

* * * * *

Goliath walked quietly down the corridor feeling still vaguely uncomfortable. It had been nearly a year since Xanatos had given over a guest suite for his and Elisa's use, but the restrictions of his youth still hung heavy as he traversed a portion of the castle that had always been restricted to humans only.

He found his mate sitting before the dressing mirror combing her long, dark tresses. She appeared to have recently showered. Her hair was still damp and she was, in fact, clad only in a fluffy white towel. There was a troubled air about her and her dark eyes seemed to look past her reflection in the mirror and focus on something beyond his view.

"Elisa," Concern made the gargoyle's tone a shade deeper than normal. "are you well?" he asked as he crossed the room to stand at her side.

She nodded absently and set down the hairbrush next to an uneaten pint of ice cream.

"This case of yours-"

"Is finally over," Elisa finished, her voice flat. "It's a good thing too. I'm not sure how much longer I could keep up pretending to enjoy..." The detective looked up at Goliath, pausing as she attempted to find words to explain her recent activities. "These people got off on being victims," she explained. "They got pleasure from others inflicting pain."

"Pleasure?" the gargoyle repeated. "I do not understand."

"Sexual pleasure, Goliath." Elisa clarified as she rose to her feet and began to pace around the chamber. "And quite frankly, neither do I. Why would anybody enjoy being tied up, or hit with a whip or forced to engage in sex acts that they clearly don't want to be doing?"

"Perhaps they are ill," Goliath suggested.

"Sick is more like it," the dark-haired woman corrected. "I don't know," Elisa said with a sigh as she allowed her mate to take her into his arms. "I always thought I was pretty open minded when it came to sex. You know, accepting of others and willing to try new things..."

"I have always found you to be so, my Elisa," the lavender gargoyle reassured. He knelt slightly, the better to nuzzle the hollow of her jaw. She did not smile or return his affectionate caress and he realized that her thoughts still dwelled on her work. "But tonight perhaps it is my turn to be creative." He scooped her up abruptly and held her close against his chest, enjoying the feel of the bare skin of her thighs against his palms. Though they were warm and still slightly damp from the shower, Elisa's muscles were taut with unreleased tension. Suddenly inspired, Goliath gently pulled back the intricate lace bed covering and deposited his lover gently face down on the feather-filled mattress.

Hesitating briefly, he selected a bottle of lotion from among the various potions on the dressing table and poured a generous portion into his hand to warm it.

Elisa rolled over and looked up at her mate. "Goliath, what are you up to?"

"Hush, Elisa," the gargoyle admonished as he knelt on the bed beside her and loosened the towel. It fell away under its own weight and Elisa obediently slipped the length of terry cloth out from under her hips and tossed it on the floor. "Roll back on to your stomach and close your eyes."

Slowly the lavender gargoyle began to drizzle warm, vanilla-scented lotion over the taut muscles of Elisa's back. He noted the tiny scars that he himself had inflicted upon her during their love play and frowned. "Elisa, I am puzzled," he admitted. "I have injured you during intimacy." He traced a circular shaped scare that crested her right shoulder blade with a talon. "And I know it caused you pain. Why is this different from the behavior of these humans you find so repugnant?"

Elisa rolled over and propped herself up on an elbow. She reached out and captured the gargoyle's free hand in hers and stroked his sheathed claws. "It just is," the dark-haired woman replied defensively. She paused, to try and frame a more logical reply. "If you scratch me or I bite you, it's because we're caught up in the moment. If it's pleasurable, it's because it's part of the entire experience. But if giving and receiving pain or humiliation was the sole reason for our sexual relationship, if we received sexual pleasure by inflicting punishment on one another, then our relationship would be just as twisted as those people I arrested tonight."

Goliath nodded his head in understanding, even as he gently encouraged his mate to lie back down. Once she had settled back onto the bed, he continued his ministration, gently kneading her tense shoulder muscles.

Elisa sighed as she began to relax, and the gargoyle poised above her smiled as his hands drifted lower, spreading the pools of lotion over the planes of his lover's back until they reached the mounds of her buttocks.

Elisa sighed again, and her hips shifted beneath his palms, encouraging him to drift lower, into the valley between her thighs. For the moment, Goliath ignored her subtle pleas and his own desires, concentrating instead on the muscles of her calves, tormented no doubt, by the high heeled boots that laid discarded under the chair next to Elisa's dressing table.

"You have no idea how good that feels," Elisa whispered as Goliath gently flexed and stroked the sole of her foot.

"Perhaps you will enjoy this as well," the gargoyle replied. He parted his lips and gently encircled her toes, sucking gently.

Elisa gasped. "Mmm, Goliath."

Convinced his lover had finally left the cares of her day behind her, the muscular gargoyle smiled even as he continued the steady suckling of first the left foot and then the right.

When Elisa began to writhe sensually against the broad expanse of mattress, he paused his loving massage long enough to strip off his loincloth before rejoining her upon the bed.

Goliath straddled Elisa's prone body then gently lowered himself until he rested on his elbows a fraction of an inch above her.

She rose to meet him, flexing upward until her back grazed his chest.

The gargoyle growled sensuously and returned the caress, allowing himself to slip his erect and ready shaft between Elisa's desire-dampened thighs.

Elisa sighed again and shifted beneath him, signaling her willingness to continue. The gargoyle pressed his lips to the nape of her neck, inhaling her scent and savoring it before gathering the woman into his arms and pulling her to her knees.

She spread her legs even as she placed her hand between their thighs, guiding him eagerly into her waiting depths.

With infinite care, Goliath began to pump slowly in and out, withdrawing nearly to the tip of his shaft before plunging back into Elisa's maddening embrace.

She responded eagerly, rolling her hips to increase the friction of their mutual caress, crying out in pleasure as the gargoyle shifted his hold from her hips to her breasts, enveloping their heft in his massive, yet gentle hands.

"Goliath," she moaned between clenched teeth, "please!"

Gladly, he increased the tempo of his thrusts, allowing his own urgency to overwhelm him as Elisa teetered on the brink of release.

"Is this what you desire, my Elisa?" Goliath growled as he tilted her hips further forward changing the angle of his caress even as he cupped the springy curls of her mound and stroked its sensitive flesh.

"Yes!" she cried in response as orgasm claimed her at last. "Oh, god, Goliath! Don't stop!"

The gargoyle pumped faster and his growls of pleasure echoed Elisa's fervent cries.

With a roar he came, collapsing against his partner and rolling onto his side so that she was cradled against his chest and he was still buried between her thighs.

Goliath nuzzled the base of his lover's neck contentedly as Elisa absently twined her fingers in his sable locks.

"That was perfect, Goliath," his mate murmured sleepily. She placed her lips against the palm of his hand and kissed it gently. "You always seem to know exactly what I need," she added as she drifted off to sleep.

"I wish that were so, my Elisa," he replied. Goliath shifted as Elisa turned over and cuddled against his chest, replacing one intimate embrace with a second, equally satisfying one.

The gargoyle leader closed his eyes, allowing himself to drowse. He would stay with her until dawn, when the sun came to claim them both.

* * * * *

"Come on, Angela," Broadway pleaded as his mate dangled his belt and loincloth before him then snatched them away. "The sun's gonna be up soon. We need to get dressed and back downstairs."

Angela tossed his clothing away towards a far corner of the tiny chamber that acted as anteroom to her main workshop and smiled enticingly, baring her fangs as she snaked her tail around the turquoise gargoyle's left knee spur. "But I have something else I want to show you," she cajoled, even as she pushed her burly mate back down on the thick square of carpet that lay in the center of the bare stone floor, "and I promise it won't take too long."

"Well. Uh. Oh, Angela!" Broadway replied incoherently as his mate began her demonstration.

* * * * *

Goliath stirred regretfully, knowing instinctively that dawn was nearly upon him. Elisa shifted restlessly in her sleep, buried her head in her pillow briefly then rolled over. Dark eyes, unfocused with fatigue, greeted his. "Is it morning?"

Goliath nodded, even as he rose reluctantly from the bed and began to dress. "Nearly so. Will you spend the day?" he replied hopefully.

Elisa shook her head even as she struggled out from beneath the blankets and padded barefoot to the dresser. She opened a drawer, extracted jeans and a tee shirt, then opened a second and rummaged for a moment until she found two matching socks and clean under-things. "I can't. I've got paperwork to finish at the station and errands to run. Then I've got to get home and get some more sleep."

The gargoyle nodded. "I've never known you to be so restless, my Elisa. Perhaps you need some time away from your work to put it into perspective."

The dark-haired woman tied her sneaker and stood up. She linked her arm though the gargoyle's to walk him out onto battlements. "I had a rough night," she replied dismissing her lover's concerns. "It happens. Besides," Elisa added with a shrug, "what's to put into perspective? Last night we cleaned out a very nasty cesspool. Things will stay clean for a day or two, some upper-level brass will congratulate themselves on a job well done, and next week someone else will be running a ring of hookers out of a new location. And some other lucky detectives will get sent in to clean it all up again. It's the nature of police work, Goliath; it never stops." She looked at her watch, then reached up to kiss the gargoyle's cheek. "You'd better hurry, or Owen's going to be putting a sign around your neck. 'Early Middle Ages Carved Gargoyle'.

Goliath nodded and quickened his pace. "Will I see you later?" he asked as they stepped outside and greeted the rest of the assembling clan. Broadway and Angela were the last to arrive, swooping down in tandem from the younger female's tower workshop.

"I hope so." The couple exchanged a final embrace then parted reluctantly as Goliath left to take his place high above the courtyard.

A familiar crackling noise filled the detective's ears and then silence as stone sleep claimed her clan. She gazed at them one by one, noting with amusement that Ariana and Graeme were frozen in the midst of their latest feud while Sata and Brooklyn looked on in parental despair.

Her eyes drifted to Broadway. His tail was curled affectionately around Angela's, belying his fierce warriors' pose. And Angela... Elisa's gaze lingered as a flash of nonsensical dream flashed before her eyes. Angela and Fox dressed in leather. She blinked rapidly, banishing the odd image. "You must still be processing, Maza," she chided. "Mixing what's familiar in with that awful case." She turned her back on the clan, on sage Hudson and the gamboling beasts. "Go, get your paperwork done so you can put this whole ugly mess behind you and get some real sleep. Now," the detective ordered herself," before you crack up."

* * * * *


"Yes, Mrs. Xanatos," the majordomo replied automatically to the intercom speaker on his desk.

"Escort Preston out, he's finishing up in my office. And hold all my calls. I'm going to take a hot bath and a nice long nap. But do me a favor and make sure I'm up by seven. The Delacourt's party is tonight and I've got a dozen things to do before we leave."

"Of course. Anything else, Mrs. Xanatos?" he inquired automatically.

Fox considered as she pinned her hair up in a loose knot. "No, that's all. If David doesn't need you for anything, you can take Alex to the park. I'd like the house quiet this afternoon."

"As you wish, Mrs. Xanatos." With a crisp snick the intercom went dead and Owen rose to escort his counterpart from Fox's office.

* * * * *

Angela peeked out from behind the open doors of the master suite's huge walk-in closet as the two women entered the room. "It's about time you got back, Fox," she scolded mildly. Smiling mysteriously, she greeted the new arrival as if only now noticing her. "Oh, hello, Elisa."

"Hello, Angela," Elisa returned, regarding the young female curiously. She had still yet to step out from behind the door.

"Did you find anything in there you like?" Fox questioned as she moved Elisa fully into the room.

Angel nodded. "Did I ever... tell me what you think." With a flourish, the lavender female finally stepped out into the open.

Elisa's eyes went wide with a mixture of amazement and disbelief as she took in Angela's new look. She had shed her rough-sewn tunic, trading it for a sleek, form-hugging sleeveless dress made of shiny black leather. Angela spun to allow both women a full 360-degree view. The skirt clung to her hips sensuously, the hem coming down just barely far enough on her thighs to not be obscene. The back was cut in a V that plunged so low that it almost seemed tailor-made for wearing with wings and a tail. In the front, while the neckline's cut was not nearly as severe, underwired cups lifted Angela's ample breasts up and out in an equally daring display of flesh.

The dark-haired woman blinked, standing speechless as Angela finished twirling and planted a taloned hand jauntily on her hip, a pleased, fanged grin on her lips. She didn't even notice as Fox deftly pushed the suite's door shut with her foot, or hear the light click of the lock engaging.

"Surprise," the lavender female said, tossing her head dramatically to one side and sending her long ponytail draping over her shoulder.

"Angela, I... you look... wow." Elisa finally managed. "But what... why...?"

A few feet behind the dumbstruck Detective Maza, Fox smiled as she drew her hand back from the doorknob. Within one quick, delicate stride, she had secreted the key in the back pocket of her slacks and came up beside Elisa again. A hand placed lightly on her shoulder was all it took to quiet her.

"Excellent choice, Angie," she congratulated. "I was always fond of that one, myself."

Angela's devilish smile broadened, and she relaxed her pose. "I'm glad you both like it," she said. Running her hands down the shiny material, she shivered just a tiny bit. "Ooh," she added, "and I can't believe how nice it feels against my skin."

Fox chuckled, and, in the process, let her hand slip from Elisa's shoulder down onto her back. "See, I told you you've been missing a lot by sticking with fashions that went out of style a thousand years ago," she teased.

Angela had already turned to a nearby mirror, and ran her hands back up her thighs and over the swell of her buttocks as she admired herself. Her wings flared as her talons raked gently over the bare flesh just above her tail. "Mmm..." she purred absently in reply, her hands continuing their journey, sliding up around her waist and over her belly and finding their way at last to her breasts.

Elisa raised an eyebrow and opened her mouth to say something, but Fox only laughed lightly again. By now, her hand had drifted down to the small of Elisa's back, the fingers massaging gently along her spine, rubbing against her jacket right above the waistband of her jeans. As the detective began to register the pleasant sensation, whatever words she had been prepared to say evaporated from her mind, leaving her standing there with her lips parted. At last, she pulled her gaze away from Angela and looked up, just as the red-haired woman turned her green eyes to her.

Fox smiled, and her other hand softly went to Elisa's chin, lifting her head just the tiniest bit more. "So, Elisa... what do you say we see if anything can be found in that big old closet of mine that will interest you?" she questioned.

A roaring sound began to fill Elisa's ears, and she shifted uneasily to the side. Fox moved back a half step, and her hands fell away and back to her sides as Elisa struggled for a moment with her thoughts. "I don't know, Fox. I..."

"Oh, come on, Elisa!" Angela said cheerily. The dark-haired woman turned at the voice, a slightly confused look on her face as the female gargoyle bounced up beside her and gently took hold of her hand. "Give it a try... it'll be fun!"

The young gargoyle's tone held its usual upbeat, friendly quality, and the smile on her face now was sincere and amiable. Elisa hesitated. This was the Angela she was familiar with, and though the girl was still clad in the very risqué black leather dress, Elisa had to wonder for a moment if she had somehow been merely imagining the antics she thought she had witnessed just moments before.

She looked back at Fox and felt an unexpected flush of warmth come to her cheeks as the other woman regarded her critically, arms crossed. The warm, tingly feeling from a few moments earlier had all but faded, and as her head cleared and she looked again at the woman, she wondered if maybe she had been imagining Fox's touch, too. Elisa shook her head. "You've been working too hard... get a grip, Maza," she chided herself.

"Seriously, Elisa... you're stuck in as bad rut as the clan when it comes to fashion," Fox teased. "Angela and I were just having some fun, but I could give you some pointers if you'd like."

Elisa's eyes flicked back to Angela again and the girl nodded encouragingly, her eyes as mirthful and innocent as ever. Finally, Elisa gave in. "All right," she said, a smile coming to her lips, "you two win." She paused, giving an odd smirk as she self-consciously examined her attire and added, "Do with me as you see fit."

Fox smiled slyly. "As you wish," she said, trading a glance with Angela as she moved lithely to the doors of her closet and flung them open wide. Angela took her cue and moved behind Elisa as the detective began to follow after Fox. She followed for a few steps before laying her taloned hands on the human woman's shoulders, but as Elisa stepped in front of the closet doors she obligingly halted on her own.

"Whoa," she muttered, staring in wide-eyed awe. Fox's closet looked larger than her whole bedroom, and the walls were lined with dozens of rods and shelves full of clothes. On the back of one of the doors, Angela's discarded tunic hung from a peg, and beside it hung a solitary empty hanger - probably the one that had held the dress the girl now wore, Elisa deduced quickly. On the back of the opposite door hung a full-length mirror. Elisa glanced over at it, taking in her own reflection as well as that of Angela, standing behind her, her tail twitching oddly.

"Now let's see," Fox mused, running her hand over the nearest rack. "How shall we go about this? So many possibilities." She frowned in mock contemplation, then her expression brightened. "I've got an idea," she declared. Yanking a black silk scarf from the neatly organized rack upon which it was draped, she strode back out into the room and approached Elisa.

Elisa looked at Fox, then down at the scarf in her hands, then back at Fox again. "That's it?" she questioned, confused.

Fox chuckled. "No, silly," she answered. "This is just so we can surprise you."

Elisa's expression still showed incomprehension - until Fox held the scarf up by its ends, twirled it around itself several times, and made to hand it off to Angela.

"Hey, now wait a minute, guys," Elisa began, a bit of nervousness creeping into her voice as she ducked her head to the side, avoiding the makeshift blindfold. She reached up a hand to push it away, but Angela gently caught her wrist in her talons, stopping her.

"Oh, come on, Elisa," she chided. "You didn't see me throwing a fit when Maggie and Sharon did this to me at my shower last year... and don't you try to blame them... Fox already told me it had been your idea."

"Turnabout's fair play, Elisa," Fox added, giving a wry smile.

Elisa returned Fox a glare that was betrayed by the smirk on her face. "Okay," she acquiesced, relaxing her posture once more. "I suppose I can trust you two," she teased as she closed her eyes. "This surprise better be worth it, though."

"Oh, it will be," Fox replied as Angela again took the scarf from her. This time, Elisa held her head still and let the swath of black silk fall over her eyes, feeling an excited chill run over her body that made her skin prickle with goosebumps under her clothes as Angela cinched the blindfold down securely and knotted it.

Elisa opened her eyes under the black silk of her blindfold as she felt Angela's hands fall away. Straining as hard as she could, she couldn't catch even the slightest glimpse of any light filtering through the densely woven fabric.

Fox waved her hand in front of Elisa's face experimentally, then cast a satisfied, sly smile at Angela. "Angie will help get you out of those clothes while I pick out something new for you," she stated, nodding to the lavender female. "And remember," she added as she moved back into the closet, "no peeking." Her actions now hidden from Elisa's eyes, the red-haired woman wasted no time in undressing herself, kicking off her shoes, eagerly peeling off her top, and slipping out of her slacks, stripping to her underwear in just a few short seconds.

Elisa perked up her ears, trying to figure out what was going on by the few noises she could hear. There was a rustling of clothing, then a moment later, the soft sound of Angela's wings rustling as she moved up behind her, and then the rising thump-thump of her own heartbeat as the girl's cool breath blew against the bare skin of her neck.

"Let's start with your jacket, Elisa," Angela said softly, laying her talons upon Elisa's shoulders once more.

Elisa cleared her throat nervously. "I thought you didn't like being called 'Angie'," she commented quietly, unzipping her jacket and allowing Angela to carefully push it down around her shoulders.

Angela smiled as she slipped the red jacket's sleeves from Elisa's arms and tossed the garment aside, onto the floor. "I didn't at first... but I'm liking it more and more lately," she replied. She touched the tips of her talons lightly against the bare skin of Elisa's arms, her tail twitching eagerly as the unexpected sensation made the dark-haired woman jump. Angela moved in close again, her jutting breasts pressing against Elisa's back as she ran her hands lightly along Elisa's arms.

"Angela," Elisa began. She sucked in breath as the girl adjusted her position behind her again, and a chill shivered down her back as the girl's four-fingered hands closed gently about her wrists.

"You can call me 'Angie', too, if you like," she whispered, her mouth only inches from Elisa's ear as she guided the woman's hands to the waistband of her jeans.

Elisa's fingers went to their task eagerly, and within a few seconds, Angela was helping her human friend pull the jeans down over the swell of her buttocks, exposing the plain cotton panties she wore beneath. As the jeans slumped to the floor, Angela knelt down to untie the laces on Elisa's high-top tennis shoes. Shoes, then socks were pulled away, until at last Elisa could step fully out of the jeans.

Angela stood back up, running her hands gently up the human woman's smooth bare legs as she rose, and Elisa shivered once again. "Mm... watch where you put those hands of yours, Angie," she said, meaning to sound teasing but unable to keep the slight hint of excitement from her voice.

The lavender gargoyle gave a fanged smile but didn't reply. Taking Elisa's hands in her own again, she guided them this time to the dangling hem of her tee shirt.

Meanwhile, Fox slipped her feet into a pair of four-inch heels and checked her reflection one last time in the mirror that hung over the dressing table at the back of her expansive closet. Her everyday attire shed and lying discarded on the floor, she had donned a tight, one-piece black leather catsuit. Adjusting the chromed zipper on the front downward a few more notches, she smiled, finding at last the display of cleavage she desired. As a final touch, she grabbed a silver hair clip from the counter and swept her auburn tresses back, securing her hair in a loose ponytail before turning to see what progress Angela had made.

Elisa tilted her head to one side and brushed her hair back over her shoulders with her hand as she handed off her tee shirt to Angela, permitting it to join her jacket, shoes, and jeans on the floor. Angela accepted the garment, then dropped it unceremoniously, looking up to smile at Fox as she re-emerged from the closet. Taking a short half step, she left the still-blindfolded Elisa standing alone for the first time in several minutes and slid into Fox's embrace, exchanging a silent, wordless greeting in the form of a passionate kiss.

Elisa turned her head slightly, trying to hear since she could not see, but was unable to make sense of the few sounds that came as the two probed each other's mouths hungrily with their tongues. The warm, pleasant feeling that had been on the verge of overwhelming her moments before had faded abruptly after Angela had stepped away, leaving her longing for more even as other sensations reasserted themselves. She shifted her bare feet nervously, the realization setting in with the feeling of cool air on her belly and the cold stone floor beneath her toes that she was stripped down to only her underwear. Ensconced in darkness by the blindfold, she wasn't even aware that Fox and Angela were just a few feet away, just out of arm's reach... until a soft, muffled moan from Angela finally met her ears.

Beneath the blindfold, Elisa's eyebrows furrowed in confusion. "Um... guys?" she asked hesitantly after a long moment.

At last, Fox broke off the kiss. Stroking Angela's hair lovingly as the lavender female yielded, she gave a devious smile. "You know, you forgot to put this on, Angie," she whispered, producing an item she held concealed in her hand. Slipping her hands under Angela's hair, she drew the narrow, chrome accented leather collar about her neck.

The tip of Angela's tail twitched as the small snap of a tiny built-in lock announced that the custom-fit collar was secure. Nevertheless, Fox gave it a gentle tug, just to be sure, then smiled, her eyes drifting over Angela's shoulder to Elisa as she added, "We'll see to your punishment later."

"Yes, Fox," Angela whispered in reply as the redheaded woman stepped away, an excited shiver running down her wings at the thought.

"Ah, ah, ah, Elisa," Fox said aloud, catching the dark-haired woman's hand by the wrist just as she made to reach up to remove her blindfold. Elisa jumped, startled by the voice suddenly being so close. "Shame on you," Fox chided, "didn't I tell you no peeking?"

Elisa felt her body tense. Something seemed different about Fox's tone... it wasn't teasing anymore, but instead sounded almost as if she were scolding a child. Elisa tried to pull her hand away, but was startled again to find Fox's grip quite firm and unlike Angela's gentle touch a few minutes earlier. She felt her heart rate jump as it had before, but now nervous wariness was the primary reason.

"Look, Fox," she said, her voice going flat, "I don't think I want to do this anymore." She moved her free hand, attempting again to reach the blindfold, but a split-second later felt it, too, caught about the wrist in a firm, unyielding grip.

"What's wrong, Elisa? I thought we were having fun," Angela mock-pouted, holding the woman's arm tight. She lashed her tail aggressively, whipping it quickly around Elisa's bare legs.

Elisa gasped and reared up on the balls of her feet as the serpentine appendage coiled about her thighs. She opened her mouth automatically to protest, but was forced instead to catch her breath as the wriggling tip found its way between her legs and pressed against the thin cotton fabric of her panties. At the same time, Fox's fingernails trailed up from the small of her back, sending her spine tingling once more. A second later, she felt her bra fall away, the clasp undone with one deft motion of the other woman's fingers.

Cool air greeted the newly exposed flesh of her breasts, but the nipples had already started to come erect on their own. Still blindfolded, Elisa couldn't see the pleased smile on Fox's face as she took in the sight for the first time, but Angela's equally delighted reaction was communicated instantly. "Ah," Elisa gasped again as the girl's muscular tail constricted and pressed even more insistently at the rapidly dampening area between her legs. Her back arched and her hips rocked forward in response even as she reared the rest of her body away, pulling back until she stood nearly on tiptoes, her arms straining against the hands still holding her wrists.

Angela shifted position just slightly, tightening her grip on the human woman's wrists as Fox handed all control off to her and finished untangling the thin straps of the bra from around Elisa's arms. Casting the flimsy undergarment aside, the smiling redhead took a small step back to better admire Elisa's naked charms. The detective was all she had imagined and then some, just as Angela had been, and the expression on her face at that moment, as the young gargoyle's tail teased her through the thin fabric of her panties, was absolutely priceless.

Fox, Elisa, and Angela

Elisa struggled uncertainly against the stimulation, shock and confusion warring in her mind with the strengthening tinglings of pleasure and desire. It was all she could do to find her voice as the heat rose within her loins, unabated by the feeble protests from the rational part of her brain. "Please... stop," she managed at last, her voice weak. She gasped once more, sucking in breath through clenched teeth as gentle gargoyle talons suddenly cupped one of her breasts and began fondling the heated flesh. "Please," she begged again, her voice reduced to a coarse whisper, "I... I don't want this."

"Mm, that's not what you're saying with these lips," Fox purred, laying her hand just above the place where Angela's tail continued to rub. One finger caught on the waistband of the panties, pulling them aside just enough for the tail's tip to slip inside.

The sensation was too much; Elisa cried out and reeled back, attempting to break free, but found her would-be seducers' grips like iron. Spots danced in the pitch-blackness before her eyes as she was pulled back and spun around, and she felt the soft caress of her own hair falling wildly over her bare shoulders and against her cheeks as she was jerked to a stop. Quickly, before she could even offer protest again, her arms were pulled outstretched before her, and a half-second later she heard the very familiar ratcheting sound of a pair of handcuffs.

"There, that should hold you," Fox declared as she tightened the cuffs one more click and double-locked them with the tiny key.

Angela loosened her grip on Elisa's forearm as Fox finished and tucked the key away, but she still maintained a hold on the dark-haired woman as her arms fell back into a more natural position. Agilely, she curled her tail about Elisa's ankle in an added precaution against another attempt at escape, but as Elisa's head swam with the unreal turn of events, that was strangely now the furthest thought from her mind. She barely registered the talons grasping her arm and the tail twined about her ankle, or the light touch of Fox's hand as it fell against her belly and slid down between her legs, massaging the warm mound of her sex through the desire-soaked panties. Even as the longing rose inside her again and the rest of her body responded, the only sensation Elisa was focussed on for that moment was the new and alien one of cold, unyielding steel about her wrists.

Her heart rate jumped anew, pounding in her ears as she tugged at the sturdy handcuffs - her own handcuffs - that now held her arms bound in front of her. She was a true captive now - blindfolded, chained, and totally at Fox and Angela's whim - yet never before had she felt so exhilarated, so free. All the lingering hesitations and doubts had vanished, and she gave in at last to the instinctive responses of her body as her senses returned and the other sensations began to reassert themselves.

"Mm, yes, that's it," Fox encouraged softly, slipping her hand beneath the thin layer of cotton. She ran her fingers through the damp, springy patch of dark hair before gently caressing the pouting nether lips. "Go on, Elisa. You know you want to."

Elisa's only reply was a soft, pleasure-filled moan, and as she tilted her head back in seeming ecstasy, Angela released her hold to slip behind her and slide her hands up under Elisa's arms, cupping the human woman's breasts in her four-fingered gargoyle hands as if they were her own. Elisa gave a sharp gasp as Angela lifted the warm mounds and gently squeezed the hardened nipples between her talons. The gargoyle's smaller wing hands fell on Elisa's shoulders, providing additional stimulation as the human woman's breathing quickened and her skin went flush. "Yes, come on, Elisa," Angela cried, echoing Fox's encouragement from moments before, "that's it."

Fox's fingers found the erect nub of the clitoris, and she increased the tempo of her caresses, teasing the sensitive bulb of flesh with a pair of fingers while probing between the passion-swollen lips with the other two. Two probing fingers soon became three, and Elisa's body tensed, the short length of chain on her handcuffs going taut as she strained her arms against them, palms open and fingers splayed. Her breathing turned to rapid gasps, between which came soft cries and moans of pleasure. Fox waited only a few more seconds, exchanging a knowing glance with Angela as their captive's climax became imminent before inserting the fourth and final finger at the same moment as the female gargoyle pinched down again with her talons on the sensitive nipples.

Elisa cried out as a blinding, bright white light flooded her vision beneath the silk blindfold, and her entire body shook with uncontrollable spasms. The release that she had been denying herself all night came with an intensity unlike any she had ever experienced before, and when it had finally passed, she felt herself going limp from the strain. Vaguely, she was aware of Angela's hands supporting her, catching her in a gentle embrace before she faded utterly. A dizzying whirl of swirling colors and incomprehensible sounds followed, and it wasn't until several long minutes had passed that she began to recover from her daze and her senses at last began to return.

She couldn't even recall being moved across the room, or being made to lie down, yet when the muzziness of the afterglow had passed, she found herself on her back, reclined on silk sheets with a fluffy pillow beneath her head. She was still blindfolded, and as she stirred and try to move her hands just a bit, she found she was still handcuffed, as well. Her arms had been drawn above her head, with the short joining chain of the cuffs secured to another short length of chain that was anchored securely to the headboard of the bed. Elisa gave an experimental tug, finding she had only a few inches of play in the new form of restraint - certainly not enough to allow her to sit up if she wanted.

Luckily, though, at that moment, getting up from the bed was the last thing she wanted. Elisa squirmed against the covers as an excited tingle raced over her body like electricity with the increased feeling of restraint and helplessness.

"Ready for more, Elisa?" Fox inquired mildly, her voice coming from Elisa's right.

"Mm, I know I am," Angela answered, her voice sounding to the left.

"Don't worry, Angie... the night has just begun," Fox reassured.

Elisa's mind spun at the thought. She flinched as a hand caressed her cheek, then relaxed immediately as the cold steel encircling her wrists reminded her of her place. A few seconds later, she squinted as the silken scarf was untied and pulled away, and real light met her eyes for the first time since she had acquiesced to being blindfolded in the first place, unwittingly allowing the new adventure to begin.

She blinked, and as her vision cleared, she saw her own reflection staring back at her from a large mirror that covered the ceiling directly above the Xanatos' king-sized bed. Her eyes went wide, and as she took in the strange new garment she had been dressed in before being chained down to the bed, her senses heightened all the more. Suddenly, the smooth softness of the silk sheets faded into the background, and she became acutely aware of the crisscrossed mesh of black leather straps encircling her upper body. The taut leather hugged her curves sensuously, the uppermost straps thrusting her bared breasts up and out. Two more straps dipped low about her waist, meeting at a large chrome ring just below her navel. From there, a single strap ran down, travelling between her legs and up the cleft of her buttocks, joining another ring at the small of her back. Drawn to just the right amount of tightness, it teased her as she wriggled about, testing the stiffness of the leather and becoming ever more excited by the additional level of intensity its caress added to her bondage.

Fox smiled. Sitting down on the edge of the bed, she moved a stray strand of Elisa's hair out of her face with a light brush of her hand. "See, Elisa, I knew I could find something in my closet you'd like," she teased.

Elisa's eyes drifted away from the image in the mirror, meeting Fox's as the redheaded woman stroked her hair. "Fox, I..."

"Shh," the other woman admonished. "You can thank me later. Properly."

The bed bounced again slightly as Angela sat down on the other side, and Elisa quieted obediently, turning her eyes to the girl as her taloned fingers, too, trailed gently across her forehead. "I think she deserves a reward," Angela said after a short moment of thought, "don't you, Fox?"

The willing captive's eyes flicked back to Fox hopefully. She squirmed again against her restraints, desire already burning anew within her at the suggestion.

Fox nodded her assent. "Agreed. And so do you, Angie. But first..."

Elisa lifted her head up eagerly, allowing Fox to slip the custom-fitted leather collar - a match to Angela's in every detail - about her neck. The lock at the back engaged with a soft click, and a smile played on Elisa's lips as her head fell back against the pillow and she took in the encouraging grin of approval on Angela's face. The girl touched at her own collar, her smile becoming mysterious as she drew her feet up onto the bed and reclined beside her new playmate, leaning against one elbow and letting the talons of her other hand fall teasingly against Elisa's bare belly.

"Mm, yes, that's much better," Fox commented, her hand moving to the zipper of her skintight catsuit as she watched her gargoyle cohort begin to work her wiles again on their newest willing slave. Out of the corner of her eye, Elisa barely noticed as Fox shrugged herself free from the suddenly confining garment; Angela's talons had traveled to her breasts, where their alternating teasing of her nipples was keeping her more than occupied.

"Much better, indeed," Fox said, dropping the catsuit to the floor and swinging her legs up onto the bed so that she could join in. Rolling onto her side as Angela had, she ran her hand along the curve of Elisa's thigh, smiling wickedly as she captured the other woman's attention again. "And now, my pets, the real fun begins..."

* * * * *

"Mm, yes... yes... ah...." The sounds of her own voice as she moaned in pleasure roused Elisa from her slumber. Her eyes fluttered open slowly. Blinking several times, she took in her dimly lit surroundings, trying to reconcile where she found herself now with a crazy whirl of images, sounds, and sensations that danced in her head with such life and vividness that she was certain they had to be real. Her breathing was heavy, her skin flush and warm, and the area between her legs damp and tingling.

"Angie? Fox?" she found herself muttering, confused, as she took in the emptiness of the bed to either side of her and realized she was alone. She shivered. Where had they gone, and why had they suddenly abandoned her? A small measure of fear set in as her eyes strained against the dimness of the room. Slowly, she began to notice other details that just didn't seem right, either. She was lying on her back still, as she remembered, but hadn't there been a mirror on the ceiling above her before? She moved her arms, drawing them back from the unnatural position she found them in, stretched above her head toward the headboard. A ghostlike sensation of cold, unyielding steel encircling her wrists still lingered, further confusing her as she struggled in her mind to resolve the recent memories with the current reality.

She rubbed at her wrists, drawing her hands to her chest as she sat up a bit, shivering uneasily. A damp strand of dark hair fell into her face, and as she pushed it away reflexively, the first realization of how completely sweat-soaked she was filtered through to the top of her consciousness. She sat up more, wriggling out from under the tangle of sheets and blankets that half covered her, finding the pillows that had been beneath her head damp with perspiration, as well. Her own pillows, she realized after a moment... covered in plain cotton pillowcases that matched the simple percale sheets she now lay upon, rather than the satiny silk that she had felt caressing her naked skin earlier.

An image of herself writhing on the bed, nude save for a bizarre garment of crisscrossing leather straps flickered in front of her eyes. Elisa's hands went back to her body, dispelling a self-conscious flash of panic an instant later as they touched the soft flannel of her nightshirt. She was dressed just as she normally was when she slept... and she was in her own bed, not Fox's, she finally realized. A feeling of quiet relief came over her, chasing away some of the initial fear and confusion. She hadn't spent the night being held captive by Angela and Fox in a castle chamber high atop the Eyrie Building... she had been home, safe in her own bedroom in her own familiar apartment, asleep the whole time.

"But... oh god, it seemed so real," she protested. Her voice, tinged with a strange combination of relief and regret, was but a quiet whisper. She blinked and shook her head again, trying to force clarity as the entire night's experience replayed in flash-forward through her mind. Being blindfolded by Angela... Fox handcuffing her... fingers and talons fondling, probing... blacking out for a moment, then coming to again on the bed... the feeling of leather straps caressing her body and a stiff collar locked snuggly about her neck... Fox and Angela reclining beside her, teasing her for a while with kisses before taking turns atop her, using fingers and tongues to lead her closer and closer to orgasm. And herself, first an unwilling captive, quickly finding herself enjoying it, becoming lost in the moment and doing her best despite her bondage to return the same.

Elisa let out a long, slow breath. "Oh man... what a sick dream," she gasped. She hugged herself to chase away a sudden chill and, closing her eyes, shuddered as the muzzy confusion of her waking moments finally faded. Unbidden, other, more concrete memories pushed themselves to the forefront of her consciousness: random recollections of elements from a dozen different scenarios she had grudgingly obliged while playing out her part as Mistress Annalise. They passed quickly, like a demented movie reel, each flickering before her mind's eye for an instant, reverberating in bizarre parallels with the dream from which she had just awoken.

"Fox and Angela," she muttered, mortified. "My god, what would they think of me? Damn that awful case."

Elisa reopened her eyes, angrily banishing all thoughts of black leather and whips and handcuffs back to the nether recesses of her mind. "You can get through this, Maza," she reassured herself. "You survived the Unseelie War, for god's sake... you can surely survive this."

At last, a small smile began to play on her lips as she forced herself to think pleasant thoughts about past challenges faced and obstacles overcome. Thoughts of her mate, Goliath, took center stage almost immediately. Recollections of their encounter the previous night soon followed, and without her even noticing it at first, the initial waking sensation of aching dampness between her legs began to reassert itself.

The alarm clock sounded a moment later, startling the dark-haired woman from her musings. Blinking, she caught herself as her hand began to slip under the covers, moving as if with a mind of its own to give the relief that had been denied upon her waking. "Man, what's gotten into you, Maza?" she scolded herself as she silenced the buzzing alarm with a quick swat.

A second later, the cold floor was beneath her feet as she leapt quickly from the bed. The pillows and blankets that tumbled to the floor in her haste went unnoticed as she fled from the dark bedroom into the adjoining bathroom, threw on the cold, bright fluorescent lights, and turned on the shower.

* * * * *

Elisa shifted edgily in her seat and threw down her pen in frustration for the umpteenth time. From the moment she had arrived at the stationhouse, she had been trying to forget about the dream, yet the images stubbornly refused to fade. She had begun by immersing herself in of the latest organized crime reports, reading copies snagged from Matt's desk. She had been hoping to catch up enough to hit the ground running on the case her partner was currently working, so she could get back to the kind of police work she actually enjoyed and put her last assignment firmly behind her.

Unfortunately, the effort was proving almost futile, and not even Matt's synopsis of Tony Dracon's latest criminal exploits was enough to keep her focussed. Her mind kept wandering, drawn off track every few sentences by a seemingly innocuous word or phrase that would trigger a new recollection leading inexorably back to the dream. Nearly every recalled detail sickened her more, which was only making it harder to deal with the fact that she had been as terribly aroused upon waking as she had been in the dream.

Elisa planted her elbows on the desk and rubbed her temples with her fingers, trying to collect her thoughts. In a way, the bizarre images of herself in bondage or Angela and Fox in skintight black leather were almost easier to cope with than the conflicting reactions of her mind and body. They had been imagined, and at least she could rationalize them. It was all a sick side effect of her stint as "Mistress Annalise," she told herself, and the fact that she had barely gotten a decent night's sleep during those three weeks of hell probably had something to do with it, too.

She couldn't say the same, though, of the all too real feelings stirring again inside her. Those seemed to defy explanation, and, to Elisa's dismay, also refused to be dismissed. The calming effects of the cold shower she had taken before leaving home had worn off within an hour, leaving her regretting more and more as the evening dragged on not having stopped by the castle to see Goliath earlier when she had the chance. She had gotten as far as the entrance to the Eyrie Building's parking garage before the thought of encountering Fox or Angela suddenly became too frightening. Both women had become too good at telling when she was uneasy about something to not notice she was on edge. She'd inevitably be asked what was wrong, and she was certainly not ready to tell them the truth. Angela probably wouldn't understand at all, and as for Fox... Elisa didn't even want to think about the future comments, innuendoes, and brown-paper wrapped birthday gifts that would result if she ever learned about the dream - or the case she had been working that had inspired it, for that matter.

The thought alone was enough to make Elisa blush, and the warmth on her cheeks made her suddenly conscious again of another warmth rising inside her that was becoming more and more persistent. Her thoughts returned again to Goliath, and her hand slipped from the desk into her lap as she toyed now in her mind with the possibility of sneaking out early and having him meet her back at her apartment. An encore of their last encounter would do wonders for her mood, she mused, and might be just the thing to take her mind off the unsettling dream.

She smiled for the first time that night as she pondered how easy it would be to slip away from her reports and spend the rest of the evening with her mate. All she would probably have to do to make it happen is give the big guy a call. She closed her eyes, imagining meeting the muscular gargoyle at the patio door wearing only a smile and her thinnest nightgown as she rubbed her hand slowly along her thigh.

"Detective Maza... Detective Maza!"

Elisa's eyes shot open as she heard Captain Chavez call her name. She scrambled to pull her hands back up onto the desk, nearly knocking over her coffee cup in the process. She caught it just before it toppled and sent is contents spilling all over her untouched reports, and looked up at the other woman timidly. "Captain," she greeted, trying not to let the mortal embarrassment show too much in her voice. "I... I can explain..."

She quieted as the scowl on Chavez's face turned into a small, sympathetic smile. "It's all right, Elisa," she said quietly, stepping closer and placing a hand on the detective's shoulder. "I know the past few days and nights have been rough on you." She paused, peering into Elisa's eyes. "You didn't sleep well last night, did you?"

Elisa blinked. "Yes, I... I mean, no, I...." She paused, not sure how to respond. She had slept straight through for over eight hours after finally getting home, but she had been so preoccupied by the dream she hadn't even realized until being asked the question how utterly exhausted she still felt. When she looked up again, Chavez had knelt down beside her, and was gazing at her with frank concern.

"Elisa," she said, her voice becoming a gentle whisper, "you did a great job with a difficult assignment, and I'm proud of you for it." She paused, waiting until the other woman finally met her eyes before going on. "But... I'd never have forced this on you had I known how much it was going to affect you. Elisa, if you'd like to take a couple days off to recuperate a little, I'll be more than happy to..."

"Captain, I'll be fine," Elisa interrupted. "Really."

Chavez straightened, resuming her normal demeanor. "You're sure, Detective?"

"One hundred percent, final answer," Elisa replied, summoning a tone of confidence she didn't feel.

Chavez eyed the dark-haired woman skeptically. Displays of false bravado by officers coming off difficult cases were nothing new to her, but there seemed to be an extra dimension to Elisa's reaction. Her eyes betrayed it, even as she insisted again that she was fine - something beyond her usual refusal to admit when she was physically or emotionally drained that the older woman just couldn't pin down.

"Good," Chavez replied after a moment. "So you won't mind coming down to Evidence with me and helping to sort out a few final things before Bluestone gets back from his deposition."

Elisa tried to ignore the immediate lurching of her stomach as she reluctantly rose from her chair. "Not at all, Captain," she lied. "Not at all."

* * *

The trip down to the evidence room took barely five minutes, and most of that was spent in the elevator. Elisa followed the Captain in silence the whole time, trying to keep the dread from overwhelming her by promising herself that this would surely be the last time she would have to deal with anything related to that case. As she had been expecting, her stomach turned the moment she walked in behind the Captain. With the spoils of the previous night's raid still scattered about and waiting to be cataloged, the evidence room resembled the back storeroom of a sleazy sex shop. Silently, she hoped she could just sign off on whatever items the Captain needed her to ID and be done with it, but the way things had been going for her that night, she doubted it would simply be that easy.

Chavez headed immediately for the back of the room, where her counterpart from the vice unit waited near a table loaded down with an assortment of handcuffs, shackles, and other various devices of restraint that had already been documented and tagged. Elisa lingered just inside the door, her eyes flitting hesitantly about the room as the proximity to all the fetish paraphernalia threatened to overwhelm her.

"Hey there, Mistress Annalise," a familiar female voice called out playfully.

Elisa jumped, startled. A withering chill ran down her neck, but she pushed her discomfort back down and turned to acknowledge the friendly greeting. "Hey, Rosalita," she answered from sheer force of habit.

"Hey, that's Mistress Rosalita to you, chiquita," the other woman replied with mock-severity, adopting the hint of a Latin accent.

The attempt at humor missed Elisa entirely. She had frozen as she finally caught sight of the casually attired woman with strong Puerto Rican features who stood near one of the tables, partly hidden behind the overstuffed box of clothing she was rummaging through. She wore faded jeans and a loose denim jacket, and her dark hair was cropped in a short crewcut. Her makeup was simple and subdued, and she didn't even seem as tall as Elisa remembered. Almost every detail, in fact, was in sharp contrast to the mental image that had first flickered through Elisa's mind of the haughty, exotically dressed Mistress Rosalita, with her wild, luxuriant mane of curly dark hair.

"Ellen?" Elisa asked, uncertain, stepping closer for a better look.

Vice detective Ellen Treviño chuckled and shook her head as she stepped from behind the table. "Yep, Maza, it's me," she answered, dropping the Rosalita persona. "The real me. Hope you're not disappointed."

Elisa shook herself out of her momentary wide-eyed stupor. "No, of course not," she replied. "It's just...." She shook her head as the realization struck her. "Three weeks we worked together at that club and we've never seen each other out of costume before, have we?"

"You know, I even hadn't thought about it... but I think you're right," Ellen answered. Chuckling, she looked at the contents of the box on the table before her and drew out a pair of five-inch black leather pumps, dangling them distastefully from her fingers. "And I'll tell you, I'm already missing having to wear these little instruments of torture every night, too," she added, sarcasm dripping from her words as she bounced on the balls of her well-worn pair of sneakers.

Elisa couldn't help but chuckle, too. "Amen to that," she agreed. For the first time that night, she was finally feeling a little more at ease. Maybe talking with a fellow officer like Ellen Treviño was just what she needed. Elisa stepped closer, eyeing the box the other woman was sorting through with now a small measure of curiosity. "So what did they need us to come down here for anyway?" she asked, eager to push the conversation along.

Ellen gave a wry grin. "Why, to claim our reward for a job well done, of course," she declared. Unceremoniously, she dropped the shoes into a second, smaller box that was already half-filled with other various articles of fetish clothing. "Souvenirs, if you will," she stated, digging in to the jumbled mess in the larger box again. "We get to keep our costumes."

"Ugh. Why would we want to do that?" Elisa asked.

Ellen eyed her oddly, the smirk on her face becoming broader as she seemed to find the item she was searching for. "You never went back to the club to collect your stuff last night, Maza," she said, ignoring Elisa's question as she quickly withdrew another garment from the pile, "but luckily, I saved a few things for you, too. Here."

Elisa got her hands up just quick enough to catch the small bundle Ellen tossed to her. "Gee... thanks," she muttered, "you shouldn't have." She looked at the pale-blue harem girl outfit skeptically, trying to hide her returning discomfort.

"Hey, you could've done worse," Ellen replied. She pulled another garment from the overflowing box and held it up against herself, drawing an involuntary smile from Elisa as she recognized the style of the slinky burgundy-colored jumpsuit.

"Oh man... they made you wear that?" she said sympathetically, nearly laughing.

Ellen nodded. "Yeah. Talk about out-of-this-world fantasies. At least you make for a convincing Princess Jasmine... hell, you don't even need a wig. Me... I don't even watch Star Trek." She sighed, the laughing smile on her face becoming slightly devious as she carefully refolded the garment. "Still, stuff like this can come in handy," she added, placing the neatly folded jumpsuit into her own box. "In all my years doing undercover gigs like this, I've never had an outfit yet that I haven't found another excuse to wear."

The subtle change in the other's woman's tone went unnoticed by Elisa as she reconsidered her own costume. She'd been ready to just throw it away, despite what she knew had been spent for it, but now she was starting to wonder if perhaps she was overreacting and being too hasty. "You know, you're the second person to tell me that," she said, eyeing Captain Chavez across the room. "I guess there's always Halloween."

Ellen shrugged. "Why wait 'til October?" She took a step closer, snagging the last piece of the costume from the table and depositing the gold tiara on Elisa's head before she could protest. "Wear it for your boyfriend and rock the casbah," she whispered conspiratorially.

For a moment, Elisa only stared at the other woman, incredulous. Suddenly, it felt like she was having a conversation with Fox rather than a fellow police officer. Her stomach knotted once more as an improbable image of herself in the costume, slinking sultrily up to greet a smiling Goliath passed unbidden through her mind. At the thought of her gargoyle mate, however, feelings of desire she thought she had banished earlier began to resurface as well, even as the rest of her body twitched with revulsion.

The combination of the conflicting emotions rendered Elisa momentarily speechless, but to Ellen, the blank look on the other woman's face seemed contemplative. She eyed Elisa curiously and peeked back into her own box of costume accessories. "Here, Maza... maybe he'd like to see you in one of these, too. I hate breaking up a matched set, but what the hell... here... one for you and one for me."

Elisa went totally numb as her eyes locked unblinkingly on the items Ellen held out - a pair of leather collars with chrome accents. Without warning, a remembered sensation from her dream overtook her, and the hair on the back of her neck prickled as she recalled the feeling of utter erotic excitement that had tingled over her bound body as a smiling Fox first secured the snug leather collar around her neck. A moment later, her stomach churned in protest, and she felt like she was about to retch. "Oh god," she gasped.

The bundle of costume clothing fell from Elisa's hands as she grabbed the edge of the table for support. The smile on Ellen's face vanished as the look on Elisa's face turned to one of abject horror. She tossed the matching collars back into the box disgustedly, and bent down to pick up the costume the other woman had dropped. "Sheesh, Maza, loosen up!" she snapped, making no effort to help the dark-haired woman as she grimaced and forced the bile back down. "It was just a joke... don't be such a prude!"

Angrily, Elisa removed the ridiculous costume tiara from her head and threw it back on the table. "What the hell is that supposed to mean?" she demanded, her voice shaky. She fought to regain control of her breathing, but the amused look on the other woman's face was only making it that much more difficult. "God, I can't believe you think this is funny."

Ellen crossed her arms and made a face. "And I can't believe you've got such a narrow mind and sensitive stomach." She glared at Elisa in mock pity, forging ahead into an obviously well practiced rant, oblivious to the other woman's distress. "You guys up in robbery/homicide think you've seen it all... until you get called on to work one lousy little vice assignment. Then you freak out, like dealing with a little filth and smut is going to kill you. God, I've been working vice since I graduated to plain clothes, and I can't even count any more how many volunteer vice cops like you come and go."

Elisa stood in dumbfounded shock as Detective Treviño continued to go off on her. She'd been expecting some understanding and maybe a little sympathy from this woman, but instead she was receiving only sarcasm and impatience.

"At least you managed to hold it together out there in the field," the veteran vice officer admitted, "though looking at you now, I have no idea how," she added snidely. "I've got news for you, though, Maza... all the crazy stiff you think you saw these past three weeks is absolutely nothing compared to some of the sick, demented shit that's really going on out there. So get a grip on yourself before you make me hurl."

Elisa wanted to say something - anything - in her own defense, but couldn't find any words to bring voice to. Instead, she cowered under the verbal assault, feeling sicker with each passing second until she felt as if she was ready to burst into tears. Finally, she did the only thing she could think to do to escape the emotional turmoil before she gave the other woman the satisfaction of seeing that happen. Turning away, she bolted.

Across the room, Captain Chavez turned at the sound of the raised voices, just in time to catch a blurred glimpse of Elisa's red jacket as the dark-haired woman fled out the door. Detective Treviño was left standing alone, the harem girl costume Elisa had discarded jumbled in her arms.

"Damn it," Chavez growled, glaring at the other woman. "What the hell did you say to her?"

"Hey, it's not my fault your poor little Detective Maza can't cut it working vice," Treviño responded, shrugging. "From now on, why don't you keep her working muggings where she belongs, where the cases won't upset her delicate sensibilities," she added mockingly.

Captain Chavez barely heard her, nor wasted the time to reply. Within seconds, she was already across the room and out the door.

"Elisa, wait! Elisa!"

She had made it only a short distance down hall before Chavez caught her arm and pulled her back. "Elisa," she repeated, gently, as she made the dark-haired woman turn to face her. She paused as she met the other woman's eyes, seeing the shame and confusion that filled them, and the unshed tears glistening around their edges. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have made you come down here when I could tell you were already upset."

Chavez took a calming breath. There was something about the other woman's expression that struck a familiar chord, bringing back memories from years before of a similar vice case she had worked when she was still rising through the ranks. "I can understand what you're going through right now," she added, lowering her voice as she moved herself and Elisa toward the wall and out of the main flow of traffic in the hall. She paused, making sure the other woman was listening before going on. "If you want to talk about it..."

"I'll be fine," Elisa interrupted.


"No," the dark-haired woman stated, rebuffing the offer before it could be made again. "It's my problem... I can deal with it myself." She straightened her jacket and regained some semblance of her normal composure. "I just need some time."

Chavez let her hand drop from Elisa's shoulder as the other woman shrugged it off, and, after a moment, fell back into her professional demeanor, as well. There would be no point in forcing Elisa to talk, but that didn't mean she didn't have other options. "Then I want you to take a few nights off, Detective."

Elisa looked up. "Captain?"

"You heard me, Maza," Chavez replied, crossing her arms. "Go home, get some rest, and pull yourself together."

"Captain, that's not what I meant... I don't need..." Elisa began to protest.

"I wasn't making a suggestion, Maza," Chavez retorted, trying not to let the smirk on her face become too obvious. "I expect you back here on Monday, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and ready to get back to work."

Elisa sighed, knowing she had been caught again by her own false bravado. The last thing she wanted was three days with nothing to do but think about the case and her crazy dream... but at the same time, she was too exhausted to argue. "Yes, Captain," she agreed at last.

* * * * *

Angela roared and stretched, sending stone skin flying in all directions as she arched back and away out of Fox's embrace. She blinked in confusion as Broadway offered her his hand to help her down from her perch.

"Beloved," the brawny gargoyle inquired softly as he noted Angela's wide-eyed expression and tense posture, "are you okay?"

The lavender female shook her head and breaking Broadway's solicitous grip on her wrist, ran for a distant corner of the courtyard away from the rest of the clan. She dropped to her knees as her mate watched in confusion, bent over, and dry-heaved onto the grass.

Amid their early evening greetings and banter, the others noticed Angela's distress and turned to hurry to her aid.

Broadway waved them back as he knelt beside his mate. "She needs air."

Angela nodded and shakily regained her feet. "I'm all right," she said without conviction as she wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. Her mind and body were still in open revolt as images of Elisa bound and helpless danced before her eyes. The gargoyle stared down at her hands. She'd willingly participated in what could only be described as the rape of her father's mate. And she'd enjoyed it.

"Daughter are you ill? Should we take you to the infirmary?" Goliath asked quietly as he joined the pair.

Angela shook her head, violently this time. She smiled at the two anxious males as the horrible dream receded back into the depths of her mind. "It was nothing," Angela replied, regaining control of her voice. The proximity of her mate was re-igniting some of the more pleasant aspects of the dream and her body was beginning to respond. While moments before she'd felt cold and horrified, now she was warm, hot even, though the night air was pleasant. Broadway's solicitous arm around her shoulders made her skin tingle. She needed space and a convincing lie, but lying was not a skill she excelled at. She rose to her feet and resettled her wings around her shoulders as the others gathered around her and settled for a half-truth. "That assault we broke up last night on that prostitute, what they did to her... I had a nightmare. It was..." she paused, partially for dramatic effect and partially to give herself a moment to think, "particularly vivid."

She smiled at her concerned clan mates, putting every ounce of conviction she could behind her words. "I really am okay. It's just every once and a while the things that humans do to one another..."

Lexington nodded in agreement. "I hear you, Angela. Every once and a while I feel like throwing up too."

The others nodded in agreement, though Angela felt Sata's piercing gaze long after the Japanese gargoyle had herded her children and their pet away for their pre-supper drills.

* * * * *

Fox sat in front of her dressing table absently brushing out her hair. The party had been a predictable bore though she'd done her best not to let it show. None the less, David had gently drawn her aside and commented on her inattention to the conversations around her. Though the rebuke had grated, she'd been forced to admit he was right. Her job that evening had been to worm information on a pending land deal from one of the other guests and she'd failed utterly.

She lifted her head at the sound of David's soft footstep and the mirror reflected her smile of surprise. He'd come out of the bathroom stripped of his tuxedo, wearing only a red bow tie and a pair of tight black briefs.

Fox's smile faded as her husband opened his right hand and a long black silk scarf unfurled. "You were very naughty tonight, my dear." The curl of David's sensuous mouth belayed any real disappointment as he surveyed his spouse. She'd removed the conservative black cocktail dress and was clad only in her bra, panties, garter belts and diamonds. "I think you deserve to be punished. Don't you? I had to pry Jenkins' buyer out from the old weasel myself."

"David, I - " The length of black silk danced before her eyes and she could practically smell the scent of her own arousal mixed with that of Angela's and the unwilling Elisa. Her body responded to the memory and she shifted in her chair.

David took her body language as an affirmative as he revealed his other surprise: a small highly polished wooden paddle. "Just a few swats, I think. Enough to get your blood pumping."

Fox rose returning David's smile with one of her own. "Does the prisoner get a request before her punishment?"

"Perhaps," he replied as he brought the smooth wood experimentally against his palm with a soft smack.

The redhead extricated the silk from her spouse's hand and tied one end around her wrist. "Is there a room in this old castle that you haven't shown me? Maybe something a little more ... dungeon-y where I could be punished?"

"Dungeon-y," the multi-billionaire replied with a raise of his eyebrow. "I'm afraid not, my darling, though I suppose we could redo the wine cellar if it would add a more authentic air to our games."

Fox shook her head quickly. "It's not important." To illustrate her point she finished tying the silk around her other wrist, then held out her arms so that David could loop the remainder over the crossbeam of the bed's canopy.

He completed the action quickly, then stepped away. Fox obediently spread her legs and bent forward, the better to present an inviting target. She waited for the first stinging blow as David paced behind her.

Abruptly, the wood sang as it cut through the air and landed smartly on her derriere. It hurt, but only a little. David was keeping his spanking playful, as he always did. Her flesh warmed as another blow found its mark. Aroused as she'd been by the dream earlier, Fox found herself eager for the next swat of the paddle. "Another, please," she begged.

Perversely, David dropped the instrument of her torment onto the floor. "No, I think you've had enough, for now." He tore at the tiny waistband of her black satin thong and it fell away. "Time for a new game."

Fox tried to remain submissive as David idly caressed her. "Truth or dare, perhaps?"

The redhead swallowed, struggling to find her voice. "All right," she replied at last, a bit huskily. "I'll start."

"Cheeky." David's bare hand came down smartly on her bottom and she jumped. "But I think I'll allow it."

"Truth or dare," Fox challenged.

"Mmmm, I think I'll take truth," her spouse replied. His hands continued to roam over her bare skin teasingly, making it hard for Fox to think clearly.

"What was your most improbable sexual fantasy?"

David laughed, warm and throaty. "My dear, you should know by now that nothing I set my mind on is improbable. Anyone I've ever fantasized about, I've had." A drawer opened and closed outside of Fox's view. When David's hands resumed their torment, they were gloved in black leather. "And now I believe it's my turn. Truth or dare?"

"Unless you free me, there's not much I can do," Fox stalled.

"True," her partner agreed. "But I like the view. Truth or dare?"

"Truth," Fox grudgingly replied. She didn't need to see his face to know David was smiling.

"Same question," David whispered in her ear. "What is your most improbable sexual fantasy?"

Fox panicked momentarily, then relaxed. He'd asked about her fantasies, not her dreams! She was safe. "Well," she began with the proper amount of reluctance. "I admit, I've thought about the gargoyles once or twice. What it would be like. To do it in flight, I mean."

David chuckled. "To do it in flight? Or do it in flight with a gargoyle?" Fox winced; the hesitation had been her undoing. But she was still on safe, though shaky, ground. He still was in the land of fantasy, not dreams. "I've had a thought or two along those lines myself."

"Demona?" Fox suggested, hoping to change the subject. "I thought I noticed a certain attraction."

"The lady has her charms," David agreed, "but our relationship was always strictly business. Still, I believe you've given me an idea. Remember, my dear, what is yours is mine, and all of my fantasies are attainable."

Once again there was movement behind Fox's back. She closed her eyes, waiting for the sting of the paddle or the caress of a leather glove between her legs. Instead, David pulled her roughly against him, pressing his bare flesh to hers.

For the moment, punishment time was over.

* * * * *

"Yes... yes... oh god, Angie, yes!" Elisa gasped for breath, her body shuddering as muscles strained, thrusting her hips eagerly toward the face of the young gargoyle kneeling before her. The small movement was hardly easy, bound as tightly as she was. Her arms were stretched high above her head, with her wrists locked in heavy, specially made iron cuffs lined in soft leather. To these, a taut length of chain was connected, which traveled over a pulley suspended from a hook on the ceiling to another hook on the wall behind her, where it had been tied off after being drawn tight. Similar, perfectly fitting cuffs were locked about her ankles, held apart by a rigid iron bar that forced her legs to spread wide.

Black, five-inch stiletto heels were her only attire beyond the cuffs and the snuggly-fitting collar she always wore while in her Mistress's presence. It would have been hard enough to make the long walk from the master suite to Fox's private "dungeon" in the tower just wearing the usual hobbles, but she hadn't dared protest when her Mistress had retrieved the shoes from the closet and curtly bid her to put them on. She'd been allowed only two short minutes to totter precariously about the room getting used to them before Fox permitted an eager Angela to slap on the cuffs and shackles, and then it was off to the tower.

She'd found it much more difficult than she'd anticipated to keep her balance while being led on a leash with her hands cuffed behind her and her ankles shackled, but at the same time the experience had been tremendously enervating and exciting. Every step had been a challenge, and she could still feel the strangely delightful sting of Fox's riding crop on her buttocks from that single time she had stumbled on the stairs. Now, however, with her arms drawn high above her head, she felt like she was standing on tiptoes, the heels adding to the feeling of total helplessness created by her current bondage and making this latest variation her Mistress had devised just that more intense.

Angela backed off slightly as Elisa bucked against her chains, pausing just long enough to let the woman remember who was in control before moving her hands further around her thighs and drawing her closer. Sharp talons clenched gently into Elisa's flesh as she inhaled the human's heady scent and once more drove her tongue between the swollen nether-lips to feast greedily. Elisa tilted her head back and closed her eyes, moaning in rapt pleasure as Angela's attentions drove her closer and closer to the edge.

Off to the side, Fox stood, a devilish smile playing on her lips as she watched her gargoyle slave pleasuring her human one. Less than an hour ago, the situation had been reversed, with Angela, nude save for her gold jewelry and her leather collar, bound spread eagle to the bed. Fox had led and Elisa had assisted, and together they had teased the girl for hours before at last allowing her to reach climax. It had been the first time since bringing Elisa into their circle that Angela had not been aware of her Mistress's plans beforehand. The uncertainty had heightened her reactions to the myriad torments her playmates had devised all the more, and when Angela had finally been released from her bondage, she had been more than eager to reciprocate.

Fox trailed a leather-gloved hand over her own bared breast, trembling slightly as she recalled the forcefulness with which she had come just a short while ago. It had been like touching heaven, cocooned in the gargoyle's winged embrace with a wriggling tail pushed deep inside her and lips locked with Angela's in a fiery, impassioned kiss. She'd been so weak in the moments afterward she'd had to order Elisa to help her dress. Fox shivered again from the remembered sensation. The other woman had taken great enjoyment in running her hands all over her Mistress's body as she aided her in slipping on the black leather corselet, the thigh-high spike-heeled boots, and the long black leather gloves that fit like a second skin on her arms.

Elisa had deserved a punishment for that, Fox had decided, so she had retrieved the highest pair of heels she could find in her closet, and made her slave wear them. The journey through the hidden passageways of the castle from the master suite to the small tower room they now occupied was a long one, through narrow halls and winding staircases. She knew Elisa rarely wore high heels, yet alone ones like those, so she hadn't expected her to do as well as she had. Fox flexed the riding crop she held in her hands. Even with her ankles shackled, her hands cuffed behind her, and an overeager Angela insistently tugging on her leash, Elisa had only stumbled once, earning only a single swat - hardly an appropriate amount of punishment for her original transgression.

Fox watched now as the other woman writhed in erotic pleasure, her body held taut by her bondage. Permitted at last to repay Elisa for her part in the hours of sexual torment, it seemed to Fox as though Angela had taken to the task even more enthusiastically here in the "dungeon" with her fellow slave than she had with Fox back in the bedroom. The redheaded woman smiled wickedly as the gasping moans coming from Elisa indicated she was verging on climax, and quietly she stepped forward from the shadows.

"That's enough, Angie." Fox tugged the slender leash clipped to the chrome ring on Angela's collar, and the young gargoyle responded instantly. Sitting back obediently on her haunches, she gazed upward to smile at the redheaded woman, her lips still glistening with Elisa's juices.

Elisa trembled in frustration at being denied, her eyes showing confusion and a small hint of anger as she opened them again and saw Fox smiling at her smugly. "No, please, Mistress," she begged, "don't make her stop."

Fox chuckled at her slave's whimpering plea. She had already pulled Angela to her feet, and she caught Elisa's eyes with her own, making sure the bound woman was paying attention as she pulled Angela close with the leash and kissed her passionately. An almost electric feeling of satisfaction rushed over her as Elisa watched, her athletic body straining in vain against the heavy chains that held her. Disbelief and renewed frustration played over her lovely features as the same tongue that had been inside her just moments before now probed Fox's mouth hungrily. The look on Elisa's face excited Fox even more. She drew the kiss out for all it was worth, savoring Elisa's sweet taste on the gargoyle's soft, warm lips, until at last they both needed to come up for air.

Angela stepped back, her eyes flitting to the narrow slit of sky visible between the nearly closed shutters of the room's only window as Fox turned her full attention to Elisa. The sky was reddening, confirming the new sensation that had begun to rise inside her. Dawn was only minutes away, and the lavender-skinned female couldn't help but tremble in anticipation of what she suddenly began to suspect her Mistress had planned.

A chill ran up Elisa's back as the tip of Fox's riding crop was pressed between the cleft of her breasts. Nervous trepidation quickly replaced the quiet defiance in her eyes as Fox reached out and captured her chin in a gloved hand. "You, my dear Elisa Maza," the severely dressed woman stated calmly, sliding the tip of the riding crop down her slave's belly as she spoke, "are badly in need of a lesson in patience."

Elisa swallowed quietly, an odd thrill shivering through her loins as the crop's tip came to rest between her legs. "Yes, Mistress," she agreed, her voice a shaky whisper. Closing her eyes, she braced herself as best she could in anticipation of feeling the crop's sting again... only to be surprised as Fox simply removed her hand and stepped away.

Elisa reopened her eyes, finding Angela suddenly beside her, steadying her as Fox released the chain holding her arms stretched toward the ceiling. Her lips moved to form a question, but Angela shushed her as she undid the padlocked clasps and removed the heavy manacles from Elisa's wrists. Fox returned a second later, and took Elisa's arm to continue steadying her as Angela knelt down to unlock the ankle cuffs.

It was with some measure of relief that Elisa attempted to stand fully upright again once freed from the bar holding her legs spread apart. After nearly an hour spent in that awkward position, though, the muscles in her legs were stiff, and she found herself wobbling unsteadily in the absurdly high heels.

"Take them off, too, Angie... she won't be needing them any more tonight," Fox directed before Elisa could even summon the nerve to ask permission to remove the shoes.

"Yes, Mistress," Angela answered cheerfully. One at a time, she undid the slender ankle straps and slid the shoes off Elisa's weary feet, setting them carefully aside before rising again to rejoin Fox at Elisa's side.

"Go ahead, Angie," Fox encouraged, releasing her hold on the dark-haired woman's arm as she stepped away once more. Elisa's eyes followed after her, the expression on her face slightly confused, but the gentle stroking of the gargoyle's talons through her hair distracted her almost immediately.

Angela smiled at Elisa as she took her by the arms and drew her into an embrace. With Elisa out of the heels and now just in bare feet, the lavender female stood several inches taller, and Elisa tilted her head back to meet Angela's eyes as the girl's hands began to roam over her naked body. Returning a smile of her own, she opened her mouth to capture Angela's in a kiss, allowing the gargoyle's tongue to probe inside her. Elisa purred softly in delight. If this is Fox's idea of a "lesson," she thought quietly to herself, perhaps I'll have to start making sure I need to be taught one more often.

The young gargoyle gave a growling contented purr of her own from deep within her throat, her hands kneading Elisa's breasts roughly as the kiss intensified. She had moved almost fully behind Elisa now, and let her hands fall to Elisa's sides. Capturing the woman's wrists, she lifted the human's arms up along with her own as she finally broke off the kiss, and slipped her wing-arms beneath, wrapping them around the human woman. Elisa wriggled in delight as the warm flaps of skin fell around her like a sensuous blanket and the small wing hands fell teasingly on her sensitive, already erect nipples.

Angela glanced quickly at Fox, realizing fully now from the devious smile on her Mistress's face and the small nod she gave that the moment she was waiting for was drawing imminently nearer. Keeping her grip firm on her human lover's wrists, the girl stretched her arms taut as she caught Elisa's lips again for another kiss and maneuvered her tail up and around until the tip was pressing insistently against the still-damp mound of the other woman's sex. Elisa responded almost instantly, her body tensing as she shifted her feet slightly and opened her legs to allow it admittance.

There was no hesitation this time. Angela's wing hands clamped down on Elisa's breasts, and with one fluid, forceful movement, she thrust the muscular tail deep into the warm recesses of Elisa's loins. With their lips still locked in the second kiss, Elisa's initial sharp cry was muffled, but as Angela broke off the kiss again and took up a steady rhythm with her tail, the sounds Elisa made turned quickly into ecstatic moans of pleasure.

"Angie... yes, oh god," she gasped, her eyes falling half closed as her head tilted back.

Angela shook her head, flipping her long ponytail over her shoulder and letting it fall against the side of Elisa's neck as she drew her wings tighter, sealing the writhing woman fully in her embrace. A familiar warm feeling inside her told her dawn was now only mere seconds away, and she adjusted the timing of her tail movements accordingly, leading Elisa closer and closer to climax with each successive thrust. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Fox move toward the large shuttered window in the stone wall a few yards away just as the first tingles of her imminent transformation came upon her.

With one final, growling cry, Angela tensed her body, powerfully plowing her tail as deep inside Elisa as she could manage. Elisa's eyes shot wide open again in aroused shock; she rose up on her toes in reflex, the muscular appendage seeming nearly wanting to lift her off the ground as it impaled her. Angela's lips curled into a fanged grin of triumph as she felt her limbs stiffen. Her eyes met Fox's one final time, taking in the broad smile that told her she had once again performed her part perfectly, before stone sleep claimed her at last.

Elisa gasped in utter shock as the familiar crackling sound met her ears and, too late, she realized what was happening. Within the space of a few brief seconds, the tail shoved up inside her, the wings wrapped up under her arms, with the tiny hands still gripping her breasts, and the talons clamped about her wrists all turned from warm, sensuous flesh to cold, inflexible stone. She looked up, her head still reeling from the shock of going from the verge of sexual release to such sudden, bizarre confinement, to find Fox laughing.

The redheaded woman threw open the shutters on the window, and Elisa squinted as the first rays of the morning sun suddenly hit her in the face. Still smirking, Fox strode haughtily over to where her lovely slave now stood, trapped inescapably with Angela in a strange, erotic, living sculpture of flesh and stone. Silencing Elisa with the wickedly sensual look in her eyes, she reached out to stroke her cheek with a leather-gloved hand.

"Mm, you two make a perfect little statue, if I do say so myself," she intoned. She stepped back again, taking another look as the sunlight fell upon them, her eyes wandering from the top down. She licked her lips at seeing the fresh juices of Elisa's excitement still glistening on the gray stone of the gargoyle's tail, satisfied to see her slave was still aroused despite her new predicament. And her smile only broadened as her eyes reached the floor. "Hmm," she added, her eyes returning to Elisa's face again, "and I bet you'll be wishing soon that you had begged me to allow you to keep those nice shoes on, my pet."

Elisa felt a shiver run up her back as the teasing comment suddenly made her realize that she was still on her tiptoes... and before she even tried, she somehow knew she wouldn't be able to relax her body very much with Angela's frozen tail buried so deeply inside her.

Fox chuckled again as she watched her slave's face contort with her latest realization. "It's unfortunate for you, my dear, that the nights this time of year are so short and the days so long," she mused. "But still, I hope you find the next twelve hours or so to be... educational." Fox leaned in, and gave the captive woman a gentle peck on the cheek. "Just don't struggle too much... you don't want to damage Angie," she cautioned. She stepped away again, giving Elisa a moment to ponder all the potentially disastrous possibilities before continuing.

"I said earlier you needed a lesson in patience," Fox explained as she stripped off her leather gloves. "Today, you will learn that the best things come to those who wait." She smiled mysteriously as she collected her riding crop from where she had left it on the windowsill. "I know you've seen a gargoyle awaken from stone sleep before... seen that incredible surge of pure, focussed energy as their wings unfurl and their tails lash," she said, excitement apparent in her voice, "but I doubt you've ever experienced it up close before." Fox paused, the smile on her face broadening as Elisa's dark eyes went wide, and realized she needed to say no more.

"I'll see you at dusk, my pet," she whispered softly before turning to leave the room. Quietly, she pulled the door to her tower dungeon shut behind her. The key in the lock made a soft click as she sealed her slaves inside.

Elisa trembled as she watched through the window while the sun began its slow course across the sky. Her eyes were the only thing she dared move, lest she risk damaging the living stone that, though it seemed strong and firm, she knew could sometimes too easily be broken. Even her breathing she tried to keep controlled, so as not to strain too much against the thin, fragile wings. It would, she realized quickly, be a very long day.

Still, her body tingled with sexual excitement. Of all the tortures Fox and Angela had devised for her so far, even she had to admit that this latest was by far the most exquisite... for all she could do, quite literally, was wait.

* * * * *

"Angela," Broadway pleaded as his mate caught an updraft and climbed higher in the night sky, "will you please talk to me?" The burly gargoyle fought to keep pace with the slender female as she continued to gain altitude. "I know something's been wrong for nights. You've tried to hide it, but-"

"But what?" his mate snapped back waspishly, exhausted after another day of hyper-real dreaming. The last had been the worst. She'd awoken and nearly recoiled off the battlements in her fear that she would find Elisa's nude and ravaged body at her feet.

Heart pounding terror had given away to profound relief and her knees nearly collapsed as adrenaline drained from her body. Fortunately, she and Broadway had roosted away from the others, and his attention had been captured by his own post-awakening yawns and stretches. Angela had been momentarily safe from the concerns of her clan.

There was no way she could explain her troubles to Broadway. What would he think? What did she think? Angela closed her eyes briefly, trying to collect her scattered thoughts. An image of Fox in a studded dog collar flitted through her mind and the gargoyle shuddered as she wished it away. Fox disappeared, only to be replaced by Elisa writhing in tortured pleasure against her own stone-encased form. Even as her mind rebelled against the imagery, Angela began to warm and wondered if Broadway might be persuaded into an encore of their last tower tryst. Her hopes were dashed as her companion continued his interrogation.

"You've tried too hard to make things seem like they're okay. All the extra affection, sneaking off in the park three nights in a row while we're supposed to be patrolling?" He finally matched Angela's altitude and speed, fell in beside her and gently touched her shoulder. "The quickies in your workroom? It's not that I don't appreciate it," Broadway said. A self-satisfied smile crept over his features, momentarily masking his concern and Angela's hopes rekindled. "But Brooklyn's gonna really be on us if we keep shutting off our radios and missing check-ins."

"He hasn't said anything yet," Angela replied as she banked toward the Eyrie Building. If she could get him to continue their discussion in private...

"No," Broadway admitted, "not yet. But that's not the point right now." He drew a deep breath and finally nerved himself up to ask the questions that had plagued him for the last several nights. "You've been acting strangely, Angela. Like you're trying to convince me, or maybe yourself, that I'm the mate you want."

Angela winced visibly and Broadway realized he'd hit a nerve.

"That's it, isn't it? We've been mated a year and now you're having regrets." As the their castle home came into view, Broadway slowed his descent so that he could finish before they made ground fall. "But because you're you, you're trying to give things your best shot before you call it quits," he concluded with a noticeable tremble in his voice.

Angela backpedaled in the air, breaking her descent. "Broadway!" she replied alarmed. "No! That's not it at all! I don't have any regrets," she said firmly. "I don't! It's just that..." The combination of her fatigue and Broadway's conclusions overwhelmed her. A roar filled her ears and she found it difficult to think. "We need to talk about this, but I can't. Not right now." She sprinted the final distance to the courtyard and landed with little of her usual grace. "I need to be alone. I need to think."

Without another word, Angela ran inside the castle, Broadway's anguished pleas to remain ringing in her ears.

* * *

Fox shifted restlessly in bed. She'd taken advantage of David's schedule of late meetings and sent Alexander and Owen out of the castle to a little boy's night out of movie and hamburgers. Her sole intention had been a restful night's sleep and she'd set about it with all the care of a well-planned hostile take over. She cleared her schedule, notified the switchboard and her private service that she would accept no calls, and retreated to her bathroom with a bottle of wine. Soothing, softly scented bubbles had filled the extra deep bathtub. Candles had substituted for incandescent light. Fox had closed her eyes and allowed the sounds of the rainforest interwoven with flute music to ease the cares of the day away.

Unbidden, dream imagery flitted before her closed eyelids and, as though they were interesting knick-knacks in a shop display, Fox examined them dispassionately. Herself, dressed in leather fetish wear. First Angela, then Elisa, as objects of her seduction and dominance. She could discern no obvious symbolism from the dreams beyond the fact she was maintaining her position of mistress in her own castle and that the others could be bent to her will. That, in and of itself, was a satisfying thought, especially when there were times that it seemed she would always be beholden to the police detective or the gargoyles, especially Angela, who'd encouraged her magical training.

Still, the vividness of the dreams had come with a price. While she had no qualms about her hedonistic tendencies, the near constant arousal she'd experienced over the last week had been distracting. She wondered if David's renewed interest in bondage and spanking had been piqued by her current level of aggressiveness. He'd certainly taken pleasure in removing the long disused restraints from the bottom of their "toy" chest and shackling her until she'd had no choice but to yield submissively to his lovemaking.

As she mused, Fox 's hands roamed over her body. The bath oil had rendered her skin slightly slick and her palms slid easily over her breasts, caressing the taut nipples.

Knowing that she'd find no peace until she was satisfied, Fox shifted into the water, spreading her legs. Leisurely, she rubbed the flat of her hand against the trim triangle of auburn curls, and slid her fingers around her clitoris. Entrapping the nub of flesh, she rotated the tips in tiny circles until orgasm forced her to arch forward, gasping, out of the water.

At last, boneless from Chardonnay and ambience, Fox had gone to bed. She slipped into an uncharacteristic, but exceedingly comfortable, flannel night shirt and slid between the sheets. Within moments, the exhausted, but totally relaxed, woman started to drift, buried mole-like underneath her freshly changed sheets and coverlet.

Her hand brushed fitfully against the unaccustomed herb scented sleeping mask she'd donned as she'd flipped off the bedside lamp. The subtle odor of lavender and hops was supposed to be a sure-fire remedy according to the herbalist at La Spa Natural. Fox sighed, drifting deeper into sleep, and began to dream.

* * *

Angela ran through the castle, unaware of her surroundings. Without realizing it, she turned toward the residential wing and ran past the guest rooms towards the Xanatos's master suite. Her thoughts were in an incoherent whirl and though she dreaded the idea of explaining her dreams to anyone, her burden was becoming too heavy to carry alone. She had not anticipated Broadway's concerns. Infidelity! Angela was crushed and a little angry. How could her love have mistaken her advances as anything but those of a happy and devoted mate? Who dreams of seducing her benefactress and her father's lover? Are you sure, Angela? an internal voice whispered savagely.

The gargoyle shook her head, rejecting the notion even as she realized she could not take her problem to her most trusted advisors. Her conscious mind finally arrived at the same conclusion that instinct had forced her to travel. She would speak to Fox. Though the human woman was party to her erotic dreams, she was pragmatic and worldly. She would be capable of offering some kind of counsel.

Angela blinked in surprise as she found herself at the woman's threshold. Her anxiety got the better of her and ignoring common courtesy, she flung open the door to the suite without knocking and scanned the room quickly. There was no sign of her quarry, though it seemed that Fox had been there earlier, her bed was unmade and the covers heavily disarrayed.

Disappointed, Angela sat down at the dressing table. She needed to escape Broadway for a time and the quiet room was a welcome sanctuary. The gargoyle studied herself in the elaborate gilded mirror. Her eyes, normally bright with enthusiasm, seemed dull. There was a haggard set to her mouth and chin. "What is happening to me?" she murmured softly. A yawn escaped her lips and the bed, reflected behind her, beckoned invitingly. She was so tired. Surely Fox wouldn't mind if she lay down just for a little while.

As though drawn, the lavender gargoyle parted the gauzy bed hangings and climbed beneath the sheets. Angela was already asleep by the time her head hit the pillow, and moments later, the dreams claimed her again.

* * *

The mattress shifted beneath her and Fox rolled over. Angela's willing arms pulled the sleeping woman into their embrace. Her body responded, leaning reflexively toward the source of renewed pleasure, as the gargoyle looped her tail sensuously around her slender ankle and began to snake upward. Though she was still soundly asleep, Fox's lips parted and she sought an inhuman kiss. Her tongue darted eagerly around the gargoyle's fangs and the pair began to duel, darting and retreating into each other's hungry mouths.

The gargoyle gained dominance, rolling on top of the athletic redhead and pinning her hands above her head. Fox writhed beneath playfully, gasping as Angela tore at her night clothes and fondled her now exposed breasts. She responded by raising her legs upward and using her curled toes to massage the lavender female's back, earning a pleasured sigh.

Neither one noticed as the bedroom door opened and David stepped inside, dropping his briefcase and loosening his tie as he sought out his wife.

"Fox? Are you-" the multibillionaire stopped and stared at the two lovers oblivious to him as they engaged in mutual pleasuring. "Well, this is a surprise and a pleasant one at that." He slipped out of his suit jacket and shoes, unable to tear his gaze from the scene unfolding on the bed. A lust filled smile curled his lip as his hands went to his belt. He loosened the finely tooled leather strap and undid the catch at his fly.

He began fumbling with the buttons of his starched white shirt, watching as his wife, still mask clad, and the clan leader's daughter, her eyes closed in what appeared to be utter enjoyment, teased and tormented one another. They appeared to be engaged in a prolonged foreplay, caressing each other's bodies with a disconcerting familiarity. Still, any misgivings David had he put immediately aside. Fox had undoubtedly had to seduce Angela on a prior occasion to talk her into this, her latest surprise. He wondered if a game was involved. Should he assume the role of shocked spouse? With another amused smile curling his lip, David shook his head. "She obviously went to a lot of trouble to time this just right. I think I'll just relax and enjoy the show. They'll be plenty of time for the three of us later," he murmured softly. David removed the last of his clothing and pulled up a chair.

* * * * *

Elisa pushed the last traces of guilt to the back of her mind and abandoned herself to the pleasurable sensations that were overtaking her body. She lay reclined upon her bed, totally nude, her eyes closed in delight. Her right hand lay between her legs, holding a newly and hastily purchased vibrator. The stiff vinyl device was daunting by human standards, but to Elisa, accustomed to Goliath's more robust proportions, it seemed close to adequate. She moved the toy deep between the swollen nether lips, pistoning in and out with a slow and steady rhythm. Her left hand rested on the pillow above her head, held there by a shiny pair of police-issue handcuffs that shackled her wrist to the one of the wood spindles of the headboard.

The dark-haired woman moaned, arching her back as she flipped a switch on the base of the device, bringing it humming to life. The vibrator danced within her and she lifted her hips to meet its contortions. Her breasts swayed with the movement, a cool breeze kissing the erect nipples as she exhaled sharply. Her other arm tensed, and the handcuff chain rattled lightly as it was drawn taut. Elisa tugged harder, enjoying the increasing feeling of restraint as the cold, unforgiving steel bit into her tender skin. The tempo of her self-stimulation increased, and she moaned loudly as she approached climax. "Yes, oh god, yes!" she cried out, abandoning herself to the orgasm. Her entire body quivered with desperately needed release, and a feeling of pure bliss overwhelmed her as she came.

A few moments later, she reluctantly removed the pleasuring device and it rolled, temporarily abandoned, onto the bed. Her free hand strayed over her mound, then moved to her belly, the still-wet fingers resting there lightly as Elisa opened her eyes and regained her breath. Despite the weariness brought on by the exertion of her orgasm, she was already feeling the yearning for even more intense stimulation. She trailed her hand up to her chest, rubbing over her breasts the damp secretions that still lingered on her fingertips and alternately teasing the tender nipples as she let her eyes close again, a small, contented smile forming on her lips as she contemplated what to try next.

* * *

"I'm sure you're blowing this all out of proportion, Broadway," Brooklyn consoled as his rookery brother dove dejectedly into his fourth gallon of ice cream. The two gargoyles were seated together at the breakfast bar of the main kitchen, methodically working their way through the contents of the freezer. "Angela loves you, she chose you to be her mate, remember? She's not going to change her mind now."

Broadway toyed with his spoon, unmoved by the elder gargoyle's words. "You didn't see her tonight," he rebutted. "I knew I hit a nerve when I told her I was on to her coming on to me the way she has. It's the oldest trick in the book. Girl meets guy, tries to cover it up from the poor sap at home by pretending she's totally in love." He tossed the spoon into the half empty container of fudge ripple. "In reality she's making a fool of him. I just wish I knew who it was. I'd rip his ears off and feed 'em to him."

* * *

David leaned forward, watching with rapt interest. The pair was continuing their pretense of pretending to ignore him and he was playing along allowing his wife to set the pace for the evening's entertainment. Fox grabbed Angela by her well-muscled thighs, spread them wide and eagerly began to feast. The redhead kissed and teased the hairless mound above the cleft between the gargoyle's legs, causing her companion to writhe in frustrated anticipation of more direct stimulation.

The bearded man reminded himself to swallow and his hands drifted idly into his own lap caressing his already stiff organ. "Patience," he counseled himself. "Let the girls have their fun." His eyes fluttered closed briefly as he imagined the best way to take on the two ardent females. Perhaps he and Fox should sandwich Angela between them. He could ride her from behind while Fox continued her torment from below. Or maybe...

A keening moan recaptured David's attention and he opened his eyes. Somehow, in anticipating what was yet to come he had missed a delightful change in the scenery.

Angela had turned the tables on Fox. The gargoyle had rolled her partner onto her back and the pair were feeding off one another, licking and suckling with abandon.

Fox bucked as Angela's tail snaked between her legs. His wife, never one to be bested, responded with a pair of well placed fingers. Angela sighed in pleasure.

David wet his lips, anticipating his own entry into the proceedings. Fox seemed like she was teetering on the verge, ramming her hips against Angela's face then swiveling them to stimulate herself against the gyrating tail.

He knew just what to do. His own breath was coming in short rasps as he rose ready to capture Angela. Fingers were well and good, but he knew she would be hungry for much more.

David stroked himself again. As wet and ready as the gargoyle was she wouldn't need the additional lubrication, but he savored the sensation of rock hard erection against his palm. He swallowed in anticipation. The pair bucked as their mutual stimulation carried them closer to the edge.

He reached out, ready... ready...

Fox cried out and ripped the mask from her eyes. Angela screamed as well. First in pleasure and then as her eyes flew open, in fear. She reared back away from Fox, off the bed, knocking David to the floor.

"What am I doing?" the gargoyle cried in horror as she flung open the bedroom door. Tears of confusion and misery coursed down her cheeks as she ran from the room wailing at the top of her lungs.

David picked himself off the floor. "I thought she was having a pretty good time," he commented dryly as he closed the bedroom door. "Didn't you?"

* * *

"Uh, I hate to point this out, McBain," the crimson time dancer replied dryly as Broadway opened another container of ice cream, "but when exactly is Angela finding the time to step out on you? When you're not together, she's with her mother or one of the clan."

Broadway's eyes narrowed suspiciously. "All those trips to Demona's could be a ruse. While I'll bet - " He cut himself off as an inhuman shriek echoed down the stone corridor.

"What the blazes was that?" Brooklyn growled as he leapt to his feet.

"That was Angela!" Broadway cried simultaneously. "She's in trouble!" Without hesitation, the burly gargoyle bolted from the kitchen following the anguished screams of his mate.

* * *

"I must say, my dear, I was a little taken aback by your surprise. It's too bad that Angela had such a sudden change of heart. I had such plans." David shrugged philosophically as he turned the key in the lock and prepared to join his wife in bed. "But there's no reason why we can't finish the evening's entertainment by ourselves." He hesitated as he glimpsed Fox's face. Though she wasn't screaming, the shamed expression mirrored Angela's. "Fox, what's wrong?" David demanded.

"I didn't set this up, David," Fox said hoarsely as she gathered the remains of the bedclothes around her and clutched her arms tightly against her chest. "I went to bed, by myself. I was dreaming, just as I have been for the last week. Dreaming of Angela," in a softer voice she added, "dreaming of Elisa." Green eyes sparkled with unshed tears and David stepped quickly to his wife's side and gathered her into his arms.

David cleared his throat. The lust he'd felt earlier died only to be replaced by concern for his spouse. "You thought this was a...dream?"

Fox looked away, still unwilling to meet her husband's eyes. "They've all been like this. Night after night... so intense... so real."

"That still doesn't explain why Angela was in our bed," David replied. He stroked his beard thoughtfully. "You don't suppose that she was dreaming too."

Xanatos's musings were interrupted by a discreet knock at the door. He slipped into a richly embroidered robe of oriental design and looked to Fox before opening the door.

"I beg your pardon, Mr. Xanatos, Mrs. Xanatos, but there is something of a disturbance in progress. Miss Angela has locked herself in the suite at the end of the hall and Broadway is threatening to break the door down if she won't come out voluntarily. I would have gone to Goliath, but he doesn't seem to be available."

David nodded curtly. "Thank you, Owen. Do what you can. I'll be there momentarily." The majordomo bowed slightly to an already closing door and the multi-billionaire turned to his wife. "I'll handle this, my dear."

Fox was already out of bed and half dressed. "No, I'll go. Somehow this is partially my fault. If anyone can calm Angela down it's me."

David merely nodded as he finished dressing. "Perhaps we should do this together."

* * * * *

"Elisa? Elisa, my love, are you here?"

Elisa's eyes flickered open as Goliath's voice rumbled in from the living room, rousing her from a light, restless slumber. Vivid images of surrendering herself to hedonistic abandon for an intense threesome with Angela and Fox evaporated as she realized the hand pressed between her legs was but her own.

Her fingers were freshly damp, yet already she was aching again for satisfaction. She smiled at her mate's apparent sense of good timing, the fact that she was totally nude seeming to register in her mind only as an incidental afterthought as she moved to admit him to the bedroom.

She'd also overlooked the handcuffs. They clattered loudly against the headboard as she attempted to sit up, and she yelped in mild pain as the metal dug into her wrist and pulled her back down. Turning her head, she looked at them in semi-dazed shock. "What the..."

Memories of how she'd spent her afternoon came back to her in a dizzying rush. The furtive trip to the sex shop with its dizzying array of fetish clothing, videos and magazines. She'd ignored them all, headed straight for the rows of toys, and had chosen, nearly at random, the vibrator that lay abandoned next to her.

She'd gone straight home, and scarcely believing her own actions, had pulled her handcuffs out of the box next to her gun, rationalizing all the while that she was just trying to see what the attraction was to being restrained. Telling herself that once she understood, she would be able to banish the vivid and disturbing dreams that had plagued her every sleeping moment.

The police officer played with her handcuffs in ways she'd only heard others talk about, testing different methods of restraint to see if the sensations were the same as in her dreams. First both wrists in front, then both behind. The latter had caused her several tense moments when the key had slipped and fallen to the floor, sending her scurrying on her knees after it.

Still unsatisfied and still not quite believing her actions, Elisa had ended up in the bedroom, searching among her collection of undercover clothes for a pair of high heels and something resembling a leash and collar, with which to re-enact another dream experience. It had been at that moment when she'd spied the bed and suddenly hit upon a better idea.

Clothes had been hastily shed, and within seconds she had lain back against the pillows and cuffed herself to the oaken headboard. Every nerve in her body had tingled as the last click of the ratchet sounded and the cool steel cinched tight about her wrist. After a few experimental tugs to test the reach, it wasn't long before her free hand found its way to the empty and aching space between her legs.

Elisa shook her head in disbelief at what she'd done. While she could recall every thought that had gone through her mind at the time, she could hardly make rational sense of any of it now. Not that she even had time to try.

"Elisa?" Goliath called again.

"I... I'm in here, Goliath," Elisa answered, gasping, as she scrambled remember where she had last left her handcuff key. Her eyes scanned the room for her jeans, and after a second, she spotted them, lying on the floor with her other clothes near the still-open closet doors, right where she had discarded them in her haste to undress hours before. The distance wasn't far, but tethered to the bed as she was, it seemed nearly impossible she would make it. Still, with her heart rate increasing with her panic, she hurriedly sat up on the edge of the bed as best she could and stretched out her leg, trying to reach them with her foot.

"Are you all right, Elisa?" Goliath's voice, tinged with concern, sounded again, this time from right outside the bedroom door.

"Fine. I'm fine," Elisa replied, wincing as she pulled herself taut, straining against the handcuffs that held her wrist tight to the headboard of the heavy oak framed bed. "I'll be out in a minute," she added, hoping to stall him before he could test the knob and discover the door was unlocked. She gritted her teeth, making a final desperate, but futile attempt to retrieve the jeans - and the handcuff key they contained - before collapsing back on the bed, her head spinning with confused emotions.

Her free hand traveled back to her crotch immediately, almost on its own accord. The straining and fighting against her bondage had seemingly served only to intensify her level of arousal by tenfold. The realization that came as she gave up that her situation was inescapable made it threaten to overwhelm her utterly. Muscles that should have been aching from the exertion moments before instead tingled in anticipation, with every nerve crying out for sexual release. Her fingers acted even as her brain rebelled in shocked revulsion, finding their way again between the pouting nether lips, but her body ached desperately for something more.

Softly, Elisa moaned. Even though her rational mind continued screaming its protest of shock, disbelief, and embarrassment, her need was becoming maddening in its intensity. Nothing else mattered anymore. Gasping, she called out at last to her mate. "Goliath!"

The doorknob turned and Elisa looked down at herself trying to figure out what to do or say next. She spied the vibrator lying abandoned on the mattress and quickly pushed it off the bed behind the headboard. Goliath entered. Confusion crossed his brawny features as he surveyed his mate reclining nude, one hand resting lightly behind her head, her normally darkly tanned skin flush with exertion. She smiled at him invitingly and he crossed to her bedside. "Elisa?" he said quietly, his voice uncertain.

"Surprise!" she replied in her best seductive voice. "Sorry to keep you waiting, but I wanted to make sure things were set up just right." She patted the bed with her free hand. "Why don't you get more comfortable and join me?"

Goliath swallowed and stepped further into the room. He sniffed the air. It was heavy with the scent of Elisa's desire and his body reacted. He growled low, aroused, even as a portion of his mind argued that something about the scene didn't seem quite right. Elisa's hands her straying over her own body, caressing the curves of her breasts before wandering lower. Her eyes were roaming over his body with a frank and hungry appreciation that seemed foreign. He hesitated.

"What are you waiting for, big guy?" Elisa's voice held an oddly pleading tone. "I've been waiting all day for you. I've got such plans."

Goliath found his mind and body in conflict. Even as he loosened the buckle of his loincloth he studied his mate. His loincloth fell to the ground and Elisa gasped in an open delight that was unlike her usual loving persona. "Oh yeah, that's what I want." She smiled in lusty appreciation. "Come on, Goliath. Give it to me."

He held his ground, realizing at last that there was something unnatural about the way Elisa was holding her left wrist behind her. Despite all of her wriggling motion, she had held her arm utterly still.

Realizing that the gargoyle was shocked by her blatant display of lust, Elisa humbled her tone. "Please, Goliath, I've been very lonely. Won't you come here?"

The gargoyle moved. He ignored Elisa as she wrapped her free hand around his waist and caressed the base of his tail. He grabbed her wrist and pulled it out from behind her head. Goliath gasped as the handcuff, securely fastened to both his lover's wrist and the bed frame, revealed itself. "Elisa!" He looked down at his mate, and she smiled, chagrinned, up at him.

"Surprise, again!" Elisa's tone held equal parts of lust and shame. "It was an experiment I kind of lost control of," she admitted. "But I'll bet together we could make it work all right." Somewhere, in the back of her mind, the woman cringed, but her need for sex was making her desperate. "Please, Goliath, don't look at me like that. I need you. I need you now."

"Where is the key?" he demanded softly. "Elisa, you must tell me."

Inwardly, Elisa sighed in relief, though she dreaded the questions she knew were coming. "Over there." She pointed towards her discarded jeans and Goliath quickly rooted through the pockets until he found the small metal key.

Returning to the bedside, he unlocked the cuffs and sat down beside his mate. "Now, will you tell me what is going on?"

She rubbed her wrist and forearm, grateful to have normal circulation restored despite the torrent of pins and needles that flooded over her. "I'm not sure I can," Elisa admitted quietly. "I guess I was a little curious. I was trying the handcuffs on myself to see if I could figure out the thrill."

Elisa's explanation seemed reasonable enough on the surface, the gargoyle admitted, though he was finding it difficult to think as his mate returned her attention to pleasuring him. "My love," he began as he gently disentangled himself. "I think we need to talk."

"Later, Goliath," his mate promised as she crawled into his lap. "We can talk all night if you want." She wrapped her long, toned legs around his waist and pressed herself against his chest. "But right now..." Elisa's arms snaked around the gargoyle's brawny neck and she bit lightly at the lobe of his ear. Goliath's resistance melted as the woman began to use skilled fingers, massaging the sensitive skin between his wings even as her lips captured his in a passionate kiss.

She attempted to push him backward onto the bed. But his greater strength allowed him to hold his position. Frowning slightly, his lover disentangled herself, crawling toward the center of the bed. She lay back, her raven hair splayed over the pillow and opened her legs to him.

The bed creaked as he moved to kneel beside his mate. He reached down to caress her face, to run his hands gently along the planes and curves of her breasts and belly. She looked up at him, dark eyes unreadable as her hands pulled him forward to lay atop her. "Please, Goliath," she entreated through gritted teeth. "There'll be time for all that and more... later. Right now-"

Goliath straddled Elisa's slender hips, then hesitated. This was not Elisa's way. It was not their way. While pleasurable, he found this lovemaking strangely hollow. It worried him.

Elisa reached for him, driving the questions from his mind as she cupped his scrotum in her palm and kneaded gently. "I'm so ready, big guy," she cajoled.

And so, he realized, was he. He lifted her legs to his shoulders and used his winghands to secure her ankles. He would get answers to his questions, the gargoyle vowed as he impaled his mate. Later.

* * * * *

Back in her chamber and under the watchful eye of the Weird Sisters, Maeve paced, anxious to see the results of her experiment. With an exaggerated sigh, she cast herself down on the narrow shelf that doubled as a window seat and stared out onto the castle grounds.

A number of gargoyles were visible from her vantage point going about their nightly chores and errands for the court. The female, Sarah, strolled among them with a sensual shimmy unlike her normal forthright stride. She walked, hand in hand, with a new suitor, this one finely boned and humanoid, her expression just as blissful as it had been previously.

The pair paused to speak with a husky warrior engaged in restringing a hunting bow. Sarah looked over his handiwork with interest, and her male companion cuffed his rookery brother affectionately in greeting. The slender male didn't seem to notice as his hand strayed back, lingering on the husky one's shoulder, even as his tail snaked possessively around Sarah's waist.

The female recaptured his attention with a wanton kiss and the pair, after exchanging a few more words with their rookery brother, hurried away. A strange mixture of confusion and longing passed over the archer's face. He half rose to follow the couple then his expression shifted again as another of his rookery sisters passed into view.

A pretty peach-colored female emerged from the orchard carrying a large woven basket laden with apples. She altered her course at the male's hail and smiled at something Maeve could not hear.

Apples went flying as the male grabbed his rookery sister by the waist and locking his mouth to hers, pushed her down to the ground. He kissed her savagely, running his hands along her thighs and beneath her short tunic as she struggled in surprise.

Suddenly, her thrashing ceased as she pulled the male closer, returning his kisses with hungry ones of her own. She bucked upwards with her hips, freeing her tail that had been pinned beneath her when she fell.

The sinuous member snaked upward startling the male as she used it to tease the sensitive skin at his own tail's base.

Maeve nearly smiled as the female, gained the advantage, flipping her would-be lover on to his back, pinning him with her knee spurs as she tore his meager loincloth away. Her head bent to his groin, and the big male was rendered helpless.

The Weird Sisters glanced out the window drawn by the sudden commotion below. They noted the entwined gargoyles with a triple look of disdain.

"They're usually more circumspect," sniffed Luna, as the gargoyles passed from view.

Phoebe raised her eyes skyward. "A full moon can be a powerful thing."

"True enough, sister," Selene agreed. "And the Honor Guard is young... and vigorous," she added as yet another pair of gargoyles, both male, took to the air already locked in a winged embrace.

"I suppose they are entitled to their simple pleasures," dismissed Luna as Desdemona knocked on the door, announcing her presence and Maeve's evening meal.

She stumbled slightly as she set down the tray, her thoughts evidently elsewhere, and bumped into Selene. "Pardon, my lady," the lovely female apologized automatically as she turned to leave.

Selene opened her mouth to reply sharply, but reconsidered as she looked upon Desdemona's gracefully spiraling horns and delicate features. "It's quite all right," she said instead. "Perhaps you might stay awhile, while the prisoner finishes her meal. We could... talk."

The Sisters nodded in unison and Maeve began to fade from their attention.

* * * * *

Desdemona roared in frustration as three identical pairs of hand roamed three identical bodies, leaving her, for the moment, out of the action. A few moments before it had been her body their mouths had been exploring, grazing the soft flesh under her wings one moment while simultaneously caressing the vulnerable spots at the back of her knee spurs and the oh-so-sensitive base of her tail. Her mouth was bruised by the hungry kisses of three sets of lips that she had, in return, bruised with her own, eager attentions.

She did her best to return the caresses bestowed upon her, grasping and stroking breasts and buttocks as they moved in and out of her reach.

Phoebe shifted her slender form, allowing the others to encircle Desdemona. She reacted by snaking her tail seductively around Luna's thigh, teasing the pale hair that covered her sex before plunging the tip deep within her.

All three sisters gasped in unison, and Desdemona was rewarded by Phoebe dropping to her knees and burying her face between the gargoyle's eager thighs.

She whimpered as Phoebe suckled her sensitive flesh, enjoying the tongue bath but wanting more. "Please," Desdemona moaned between gritted teeth. "You need to go deeper."

Selene moved between them, straddling Phoebe so that she could press her chest against the gargoyle's. Curling her slender hand into a fist, she slipped it just beneath Phoebe's busy tongue and deep into Desdemona's aching loins.

The gargoyle shuddered in pleasure in response to Selene's rhythmic pumping. Her knees began to buckle as Luna grasped the sensitive flesh between her wings in an attempt to steady her own wobbling legs.

The fay bent her head to the gargoyle's breast, biting her nipple in response to the steady assault of her tail. Desdemona growled in response, but pushed Luna's head down, urging her to nip her again.

The fay complied, even as she kneaded the heft of the other breast, rolling the nipple between her fingers and thumb.

Now, Phoebe's moans began to fill the air as Selene's reached for and found the pale flesh that was twin to her own. She avoided the clitoris, teasing instead the tender valley around it, causing her sibling to squirm in frustration. .

Desdemona hadn't noticed the pale-haired woman move, so intent was she on her own pleasure, but at some point the slender fay had shifted, dropping to her own knees the better to be caressed by Selene.

Blood roared in her ears as their combine sexual energy reverberated, filling the tiny chamber that acted as anteroom to Maeve's prison. Selene, her hand slick with Phoebe's juices, squeezed ready flesh and The Sisters keened in one voice. Desdemona joined them as orgasm overtook them all.

* * * * *

Maeve crept quietly through the castle, ignoring the entwined bodies of fay and mortals engaged in sating the overwhelming lust that was the result of her waking dreams.

She smirked as she slipped out into the courtyard and spied Oberon enthusiastically bent over his current favorite. The tiny woman was naked, her graceful body bent at the waist and legs spread wide. Her dark hair fell over her face like a curtain, as she gripped the top of a low wall for support and urged her paramour on as his thighs bounced against her bottom with a meaty slap.

"That should give the court something to talk about," Maeve muttered snidely. "Too bad Titania isn't in on the act," she added. "But you can't have everything."

Maeve stole quietly around a trio of sentries clustered in a small circle. She needn't have worried about being noticed she realized belatedly. All three had their eyes closed and their heads tipped forward in concentration as they stroked and fondled the erect organ of the male to his left.

Maeve hurried toward the beach, and freedom.

* * * * *

Desdemona blinked as her head cleared. Her body throbbed with sexual tension and she reached out for the nearest of her lovers automatically even as she tilted her head in confusion.

"Where am I?" A cool breezed wafted through the small window and served to further clear her head. Lying at her feet were the three Weird Sisters, naked and shaking their own heads as if waking from a long sleep.

The trio recoiled as they noticed the naked gargoyle standing above them.

Selene spoke first. "Sisters?"

Phoebe rose unsteadily to her feet, clothing herself and her siblings with a wave of her hand. Luna, the last to gain her feet looked annoyed.

Her priorities gradually reasserted themselves and Desdemona walked quickly passed the trio to Maeve's cell. "The prisoner has escaped," she announced.

The Sisters issued a collective oath as they realized they'd been duped and, taking the naked gargoyle with them, went to notify the king and queen.

* * * * *

As Goliath watched his lover sleep a worried frown crossed his brow. She was, as she had been over the last several nights they'd shared, restless. Even in sleep she reached for him, rubbing her body sensually against his.

Elisa muttered, her words incomprehensible. "Mistress," she murmured. And "Yes, again, please."

Nothing about the evening had made sense to the worried gargoyle. His mate had been nearly insatiable. She'd ignored his attempts at gentleness, and had pursued him with an aggressiveness that under other circumstances the brawny male might have considered pleasurable, had her methods been less calculated. He had given in at last, and allowed her to dominate him, forcing him over onto his back and riding him over and over until the room had faded to a red haze and he'd been forced to plead exhaustion.

Quietly, he slipped from the bed and dressed. Stealthily, he moved around the room, gathering Elisa's discarded clothing and dropping it into the hamper. He crossed to the dresser and removed a clean nightshirt and panties, then put the panties back. The gargoyle dared not wake his mate fumbling with the tiny garment. She had clothes at the castle. She could dress properly, after he had managed to get her home.

As gently as he could, Goliath gathered the sleeping woman into his arms and wrestled the nightshirt over her head. He tugged it down carefully over her breasts and noted with concern the marks on her torso; scratches he had inflicted, despite his attempts at caution.

Finally, he pulled the blanket from the disarrayed bed and wrapped Elisa snuggly. She did not protest as he regained his feet, only buried her head against his shoulder as he carried her out of the bedroom, through the living room and onto the patio.

A gentle breeze stirred, tossing his long sable hair against Elisa's cheek and her eyes fluttered open. "What are you doing, Goliath?" she asked sleepily. "Why are we outside?"

The gargoyle did not pause, only continued his assent up a short flight of stairs that led to a breach in the balcony wall. "I am taking you home, Elisa," he said firmly.

She struggled in his arms. "I am home," Elisa protested.

"To my home. To the castle," Goliath replied undeterred. "I acquiesced to your wishes earlier, my Elisa. Now it is time you acquiesced to mine. I want you to spend the next few nights with me."

A look akin to dread passed over his mate's sleepy features. Her eyes widened in a semblance of wakefulness and she began to struggle in her lover's arms. "No! I don't want to go to the castle. I don't want to see-" Elisa cut herself off abruptly, realizing belatedly she had nearly confessed her greatest fear. How could she explain to Goliath the dread that nearly overwhelmed her every time she contemplated seeing Fox or Angela in the flesh?

"See who, my love?" Goliath paused on the edge of the balcony wall to get a better grip on his struggling mate. Perhaps now he could gain some understanding of her odd behavior.

"Anyone," Elisa covered quickly. "I don't want to see anybody but you, big guy." She snuggled closer, nuzzling the gargoyle's neck. "Why don't we go back inside? There's got to be lots of time left before daybreak."

Goliath pretended to consider her request. "We could go back inside," he agreed as he set his trap. "Or we could do something a little more inventive."

Elisa paused, her lips inches from Goliath's earlobe, her interest piqued. "Inventive? What did you have in mind, Goliath?"

"I warn you," he prefaced, to heighten her interest further, "because you are human, there is an element of danger involved."

Elisa trailed her index finger down the plane of Goliath's well-formed chest. "Danger? Mmmm, I'm liking the sound of this already. Tell me!"

"Very well, Elisa, Goliath conceded. "From our first night together, it has been my heart's desire to make love to you, out there." He pointed past the city, out toward the harbor.

"On Staten Island?" his lover replied, perplexed.

The gargoyle warrior chuckled warmly at her confusion. "No, my Elisa. Out in the open sky over the ocean. But the risk of being seen is too great. I had been hoping to arrange a more private place for the anniversary of our mating, but given your current-" he paused trying to frame a suitable description, "adventurous outlook, I would be willing-"

"To make love on the wing like a gargoyle?" Elisa pulled her lover's lips to hers and kissed him passionately. "Let's not waste another minute, Goliath," she said eagerly when he broke the kiss. "What do we have to do?"

Goliath smiled at the ease of the deception. He promised himself, as he looked down on his mate, that someday they would tryst over the sea. Someday soon. "Just leave everything to me, my Elisa. Just leave everything to me." He gently caressed the smooth skin of her neck, pausing to feel her pulse racing beneath his fingers, unfurled his wings and leapt from the balcony wall. Keeping one eye on the surrounding cityscape, he sought his lover's willing lips, knowing she would easily distracted during the short glide home.

* * * * *

"Angela!" Broadway demanded as Fox and David joined the gathered crowd in the guest wing. "Please, love, come out of there!"

There was no reply, only muffled sobs through the thick oak door.

"I don't understand," the burly gargoyle said miserably to Brooklyn, who stood at his shoulder. "What's the matter with her? Why won't she come out? Why won't she talk to me?"

His crimson rookery brother shrugged impotently. "I don't know, Broadway. I was with you when she screamed, remember?"

"What about the rest of you?" Broadway demanded of Lexington, Sata and Owen.

Owen and Lexington shook their heads, unable to supply any information.

"I was watching the children and Hudson-sama depart for the park with the beasts," Sata supplied. "I had not seen Angela-kun since earlier in the evening. She seemed distracted then, as if something was on her mind."

"Perhaps we can be of assistance," David offered smoothly.

Fox slipped between the gargoyles up to the doorway. "Angela? It's Fox. We need to talk."

Silence came from within, but the sound of Elisa's voice raised in protest echoed down the corridor. "You tricked me, Goliath! How could you?"

"It was for your own good." The gargoyle leader's tone was patient, as if the phrase had been repeated and he expected to do so again.

Broadway sighed gustily in relief. "At last, Goliath! Maybe he can talk some sense into her." He looked up to find Owen already disappearing around a bend in the corridor

The majordomo found the couple poised before Elisa's guest-suite, the woman struggling to be released from the gargoyle's arms as he crossed the threshold.

"I beg your pardon," the spare blonde man said smoothly to the clan leader, as if the domestic dispute unfolding in front of him was non-existent, "but there is a slight disturbance involving Miss Angela. She seems to be in some sort of distress and it is possible that your presence might be of use in calming her down."

Goliath's brow furrowed. Not only was Elisa acting strangely, but Angela as well. He slid his mate gently to her feet. The blanket slipped down around her shoulders and Elisa grabbed it before it could slide further.

"Go, Goliath," she said, shoving him gently toward Owen. "I'll find some clothes and meet you in a minute."

The gargoyle looked at her uncertainly, but Angela's distress seemed to have had a sobering effect upon his mate. Though she was clearly uncomfortable, she was doing a good job of masking her unease. "I'll be fine," Elisa insisted as she turned the door handle. "Just give me a minute to pull myself together."

"Very well." Goliath turned away, following Owen, who was already moving rapidly back towards Angela and the others.

* * *

Titania sat alone in her council chamber, having concluded the day's business and having dismissed the last of her advisors. She stretched wearily and noted without irony that the demands of running a kingdom were not dissimilar to those of a corporate chair: making decisions, settling petty disputes between underlings, plotting strategies that would ensure her people's survival. It left little time for personal reflection or relaxation and the Seelie queen found she was weary and in need of diversion. Her thoughts strayed toward her daughter, Fox and grandson Alexander, as they often did and she resolved to visit them as soon as she could manage the time.

"On the other hand," Titania murmured as a telephone materialized at her elbow, "there's no time like the present."

She lifted the receiver and another world away a telephone rang.

* * *

Elisa pulled a soft, blue flannel bathrobe from the wardrobe and cinched the tie quickly around her waist. She crossed to the bathroom and opened the cold water tap full allowing the sink to fill before plunging her face into the basin, one hand holding her hair clear of the chilly water. A moment later, she sputtered into a towel as she roughly dried her face. Though she dreaded facing Angela, she knew her where her obligations lay: the girl was in distress, and as her father's mate, it was her duty to stand at his side, despite her own irrational feelings.

Feeling somewhat calmer, she hurried barefoot down the corridor and skidded to a stop a few feet before she reached her clan mates. Goliath and Broadway stood shoulder to shoulder on one side of the doorway, Fox and David stood on the other. Elisa's gorge rose as she caught sight of Fox. The other woman was dressed much as she was, a robe carelessly knotted around her waist, her hair tousled. Her husband was attired much the same, as if they'd both been pulled from their bed. Fox's bed. Elisa swallowed hard and willed herself forward. She exchanged a swift glance with the redhead and was surprised that Fox was just as unwilling to meet her glance as Elisa was to look at her. Another wave of unease rode over the detective as she took her place at Goliath's side and knocked hesitantly at the door.

"Angela? It's Elisa. Open up." Elisa fought to keep her voice casual, as if Broadway wasn't standing next to her, ready to rip the door from its hinges. She pressed her ear to the heavy wooden door. Angela was sobbing quietly, her distress acute. The detective knocked again. "Come on, Angela," Elisa pleaded. "There's a lot of people out here worried about you. If you won't come out, then let me in. Please? I just want to make sure you're okay."

The door handle rattled and a key turned. Elisa sucked in her breath as the door inched open. She looked up at the anxious males next to her and smiled as reassuringly as she could. "Let me go in alone."

Broadway looked uncertain, his muscles tense with anxiety. He nodded mutely. Elisa pushed the door open and stepped inside. She began to close the door, but Fox slipped in on her wake and shut the door firmly behind her.

With a practiced eye, Elisa quickly surveyed the scene. The room was much like her own guest quarters up the hallway. Stone floor covered by a heavy, ornately woven rug. Antique furniture of understated grace: dressing table and chair, a wardrobe, comfortable chair with a small table to the side. The largest piece of furniture was the canopied bed, neatly made as if guests were expected at any moment.

Angela knelt next to the door. Her head was buried in her hands and she trembled with each rasping breath. Though her wings were pulled loosely around her narrow frame, it was obvious that she was nude. Elisa pulled the heavy quilted coverlet from the bed, knelt at her side, and took the younger female into her arms, covering her, while Fox stood hesitantly a few steps away, uncertain how she should next proceed.

Elisa crooned nonsense for a few minutes before helping Angela to her feet and leading her gently to the edge of the guest bed. "What happened, Angela?" she asked gently. "What's the matter?"

Tears cascaded down the gargoyle's cheeks. Elisa used the sleeve of her robe to wipe them away. "Shhhh, it's okay."

The detective looked up at Fox, searching for information. Brown eyes met green and at last the redhead looked away and spoke softly. "Angela found her way into my bed. I was asleep, but that didn't really seem to matter."

"I don't understand," Elisa said, though her voice was thick with dread.

Fox looked away. "I was having an erotic dream."


"I was having an erotic dream involving Angela."

"Oh god." Elisa paled. She withdrew her embrace from the younger female and wrapped her arms around her herself. "You and Angela, together?"

Fox nodded mutely.

"We were having sex... frantically...passionately. It seemed so real. When I came, I was holding her in my arms. But it wasn't a dream. Not this time."

The room began to spin lazily before Elisa's eyes as fear warred with the need to get at the facts surrounding Angela's pain. "What do you mean 'this time', Fox?"

The redhead looked impatient. "I mean, detective, that this isn't the first dream I've had about Angela." She hesitated, as if considering whether to reveal more, then a sly look flitted over her delicate features. "How've you been sleeping lately, Elisa?"

The dark-haired woman flinched and looked away as memories of the last several nights danced before her. Fox, always in charge, meting out pleasure or pain, Angela her compliant and eager assistant. "Not so well," the detective admitted at last. "And the dreams seem to have been ... unusually vivid."

Angela looked up, still unable to meet the others' gaze. "You mean I'm not the only one?"

"Let me go out on a limb here," Fox said dryly. "I've been dreaming for the last week that Angela and I have been playing leather and chain games. Elisa, you've been making special guest appearances." Fox crossed to Angela's side at last and gently pulled the gargoyle to her feet. When she sagged, her knees still weak from shame, the redhead led her to the chair and gently pushed the girl into it. "Angela, you've been dreaming about us too. Haven't you?"

She nodded, tried to find words and failed. Needing something to do while Angela collected her thoughts, Elisa retreated to the safety of the bathroom, found a glass and filled it with cold water. By the time the detective returned and set the glass at the gargoyle's elbow, she had begun to speak in a low monotone.

"I thought I was going crazy," Angela admitted. "As soon as I turned to stone I would begin to dream. It started off innocently enough. Fox and I had been practicing magic and my back and shoulders hurt from spellcasting."

A startled look crossed Fox's normally inscrutable features. "I started rubbing your shoulders and by the time I'd finished, I'd rubbed a whole lot more."

Angela nodded in affirmation. "It was just a dream. And the night before we had been spellcasting. I'd opened a portal to Avalon."

Elisa's voice was quiet, nonjudgmental. "What did you dream next, Angela?"

Shame and disgust competed with one another and Angela buried her head once again in her hands.

"I believe I can answer that one," Fox replied. She stroked Angela's long dark hair and pressed the water glass into her hands. "We seduced you, Elisa. Fun and games in Fox's walk-in closet. Is that right, Angela?"

The glass shattered as it hit the stone floor. Water splashed everywhere, ignored by the three women as their eyes met for the first time.

"We've been having the same dreams, haven't we?" Elisa said slowly. An uncertain look ghosted across her features. "But why didn't I dream about your seduction of Angela?"

Fox shrugged. "If I had to guess, I'd say that only those sleeping shared dreams. On at least one occasion, you showed after I'd started dreaming about Angela. I'd guess you managed to finally get to bed after we'd already been sleeping."

The detective toyed with her hair, lost in thought. "That makes sense." Elisa hesitated, a question poised on her lips as she considered the last several days. "Have you noticed any other ... unusual side effects from the dreams?"

"Side effects?" Fox echoed. "You mean like exhaustion and near terminal horniness? Usually at the same time?"

Elisa nodded and looked down at Angela for confirmation. "Well, Angie? What about you?"

Angela's eyes glowed briefly red, the first emotional reaction beyond the crippling shame and guilt that had threatened to overwhelm her. "Don't ever call me 'Angie' again." The other women continued to stare down at her and finally the gargoyle nodded. "Yes," she confessed. "I didn't understand what was happening to me. I didn't know what to do. Then tonight, Broadway confronted me. He knew something was wrong. He knew that-" she broke off.

"He knew you were dreaming of being my love slave?"

"Fox!" Elisa growled sharply.

"Sorry." She sounded contrite, realizing that perhaps hiding in wit wasn't the best approach. "He knew something wasn't right. David did too."

Elisa nodded. "And Goliath. The question is, what do we do about this? I don't know about you guys, but a few more days like the last one and I won't be able to function anymore." She rubbed a hand absently across sore ribs and winced.

Silence filled the room as the trio considered their problem. It was broken by a knock at the door and Owen's evenly modulated voice. "I beg your pardon, Mrs. Xanatos. But you are wanted on the telephone."

Fox grimaced, annoyed at the interruption. "Now is not a good time, Owen. Tell them to call back."

"Under normal circumstances, I would, ma'am, but it's your mother."

"Mother?" Fox's tone changed, went from annoyed to thoughtful in a single syllable. The door cracked open a bare inch. "Hand me that phone, Owen." Without sparing words for the anxiety stricken Broadway, or any of the others, the daughter of Avalon's queen shut the door firmly and began to speak rapidly. "Mother, your timing couldn't be better."

A world away a mother's radar pinged in alarm. "What's the matter, Fox? Is something wrong?"

The redhead rolled her eyes. "You could say that. Mother, I'm not sure, but I think I'm under some kind of spell. I'm not alone either, Elisa and Angela are involved too."

Angela's magical training began to reassert herself as she caught the threads of Fox's narrative. As the halfling described their plight to the Seelie queen, the gargoyle forced herself to raise her head and focus her energies. The room faded away, the light spectrum shifted and she examined Elisa and Fox and finally looked down at her own naked form.

Tiny threads of energy, bright purple and green, crisscrossed between them like a spider web. It wove a net, binding the trio together and the closer they stood together, the tighter the net became. "Fox," she hissed. "Look at the energy!"

The redhead murmured, "Just a second, mother. Angela's noticed something," into the telephone, then closed her eyes in concentration. When she opened them a moment later she gasped. "I see what you mean."

"What?" Elisa asked in confusion. "What do you two see?"

"Magic," Angela replied as Fox reported their findings to Titania. "It's everywhere. Someone has done something to us."

"Don't panic, child," Titania replied as soothingly as she could. "I'll come at once. Stay where you are and don't do anything."

"Hurry, mother." Fox said softly into the phone. She watched in an agony of conflict as Elisa rubbed Angela's shoulders and the touch drifted from soothing to sensual.

* * * * *

Titania stepped out into the passageway and her brow wrinkled in vexation as she found it empty of both Honor Guards and servants. Quickly, she strode into the main audience chamber and stared in disbelief.

Fay of all description: those who upon the earth had called themselves gods and goddesses, fairies, elves and other immortal beings, consorted in love play, each to his own taste. Some had retained their humanoid shapes and coupled in pairs and groups. Others had shifted form, taking on the guise of their true selves, the ones they would never reveal to mortal eyes, and were engaged in their own acts of love.

"What is going on here?" the fairy queen exclaimed when she finally found her voice.

As if in answer to her question the Weird Sisters and the still naked Desdemona appeared at her elbow.

The gargoyle started to move forward, her eyes glowing hot with anger as she noticed her mate, his shaft poised and ready to service a nubile looking tree nymph. She felt the hands of Phoebe upon her shoulders.

"Do you wish to become affected again?" her recent lover hissed against her ear, before turning her attention to Titania.

"They are all ensorcelled, my lady. Most likely by the prisoner who has escaped," the trio reported as one.

Titania scanned the courtiers quickly, noting for herself the fine web of magic that bound them all. "You were enspelled as well?" she asked with a flick of her eyes toward Desdemona. "And the gargoyle?"

"Yes, my lady Titania," Desdemona replied.

"But you managed to free yourselves. How?"

Luna spoke. "It would seem, my lady, that we found freedom through release."

Coyote, in the guise of his animal self, howled as he bucked against the prone form of Aphrodite. He withdrew his still erect shaft and buried it in the willing mouth of a gargoyle sentry who was in turn mounted astride one of her rookery brothers and was riding him for all he was worth.

"Then why hasn't Coyote or any of the others," she pointed at the undulating mass of bodies, "come to their senses."

The Sisters conferred telepathically for a moment before Phoebe spoke, "We are one and yet we are three. The power of our combined-"

Titania caught the drift of Phoebe's reply. "Yes, I believe I see." Acting quickly, she took a deep breath and muttered, "I hope this works," before closing her eyes and raising her hands above her head.

Titania concentrated for a long moment, channeling the energies of Avalon before abruptly lowering her arms and extending them as if to encircle all those that resided on the isle's fair shores.

A wave of sexual energy rolled over the chamber extending outward to the banks of Avalon's furthest boundaries. Titania cried out and those surrounding her redoubled their frenzied lovemaking. Shrieks and moans filled the air. Bodies grew taut with effort as the orgy reached its crescendo.

Those that were standing collapsed to their knees; those already prone arched and stretched, the better to hold their partners to them.

Desdemona, though no longer under the influence of the spell, was overcome by the roiling sexual energy. She keened as orgasm over took her once more and collapsed at Titania's feet.

Slowly the writhing mass of bodies quieted and the individuals within began to regain their senses.

"Go," Titania commanded the Sisters. "You will find the prisoner near the north harbor. "Return her to me. I have another matter to attend to."

Still trembling from the aftereffects of their queen's cure, the trio dematerialized in a flash of green light to reclaim their escaped charge.

Titania frowned. Her daughter and her friends enspelled. The court also ensorcelled under a cloud of sexual miasma. "Coincidence?" Avalon's queen said softly, "I don't think so."

She waved her hands before her and a portal to the outside world opened. Titania frowned as she viewed the tableau on the other side. Three females, two human or nearly so, and one gargoyle stood stiffly apart, tension etched clearly on their faces. Threads of magic bound them tightly, though it seemed some of the strands were fading. "Influenced by the cure I worked here on Avalon?" Titania mused. "We'll find out soon enough."

She enlarged the portal and the trio looked up abruptly. "Mother?" Fox queried. "Is that you?"

Titania nodded. "I believe I may have some answers for you, daughter. And a few questions as well. Your presence is required here, if we are to put your troubles to an end."

The trio traded glances. Elisa looked at Angela, still clad only in the bedspread, and at Fox. Her eyes traveled briefly down her own, robe clad form. "Excuse me, Queen Titania," the detective said politely, "but we're hardly dressed for a Court visit."

Fox looked at her sharply, then rolled her eyes. "Somehow I don't think this is the time to worry about protocol. If Mother says we need to go, then let's move it." She stepped through the portal and disappeared.

Elisa gave Angela a resigned look. "You heard the lady." She extended her hand toward the portal and after a brief hesitation, the gargoyle followed Fox. Giving one last look to the now empty chamber, the detective pulled her robe tighter and joined the others.

Time and space slipped away and a breathless moment later, Elisa found herself standing in the audience chamber. It was deserted, save for her companions and Titania, who was seated in her throne, examining Fox and Angela closely, and a single gargoyle, unconscious at the foot of the dais. Shocked, the detective realized it was Desdemona and hurried to her side.

The gargoyle stirred, and Elisa helped her to her feet. The tan female shook off any further attempts at assistance, though she held a hand to her gracefully curving horns as if she were still in pain and withdrew a respectful distance from the new visitors.

The pale green woman waved her forward and Elisa joined the others. She bowed her head to Titania. "My lady," she added politely as she straightened.

"Be welcome, Avalon's champion," Titania greeted, returning the courtesy. "And be cured." A bright white light enveloped the trio and they issued a collective gasp, arching their bodies in release as the spell was broken.

Angela was the first to rise, and she helped the others to their feet. On shaky legs the three women resumed their loose semicircle before Titania.

"I will get to the bottom of this, I promise all of you that," Titania declared, her voice like ice. The Seelie Queen paused, as if listening to something the others could not hear, and rose from her chair. "Maeve has been found," she announced. With a wave of her hand, Fox, Elisa, Angela, and Desdemona found their bathrobes and makeshift coverings transformed into simple, flowing gowns of pale blue satin. A second later, a flash of light announced the Sisters' return.

"On your knees, harridan!" Selene ordered, shoving their recaptured prisoner roughly to the ground. Maeve had no choice but to comply; heavy shackles and chains glowing bright with green energy bound her tight. Still, she held her chin up as a scowling Titania approached.

"My queen, why do you allow them to treat me this way?" she cried, her voice filled with fear and confusion. "I've done nothing wrong."

The look on Titania's face darkened like a gathering storm. "You were attempting to flee the island when the Sisters found you," she intoned.

"I was going for help!" the bound woman interrupted. "Everyone started acting so strangely... I was so scared, I didn't know what else to do!" A single tear rolled down her cheek as she dropped her head and her shoulders sank sullenly under the weight of the magical chains. "Please, my queen," she whispered, "forgive me."

Titania's eyes glinted with suppressed fury. "You know what you have done," the fairy queen replied, her voice eerie in its calmness. "Cease your lies and admit to it, and beg forgiveness from these three innocents who you have hurt by your actions. Do it now, and I might yet find myself willing to show mercy."

Fox and Elisa traded skeptical glances as Titania gestured for them to come forward, but Angela just stood frozen, her wide eyes locked on Maeve. The lavender female trembled slightly, struggling to maintain the tenuous hold she had on her composure. The overzealous way in which the Sisters had bound their prisoner brought back unsettling remembrances of nightmare images she'd dreamed during the Unseelie war. She thought she had put them behind her, yet now they flooded back to her alongside the memories of the recent dreams she'd shared with Elisa and Fox, sending her stomach twisting.

"It's all right, Angela," Desdemona whispered reassuringly, urging the girl forward. "She can't hurt you anymore."

Maeve lifted her head, her gray eyes flashing with shock as she noticed them for the first time. Her pitiable veneer cracked at last as the last three mortals she wanted to see at that moment, subjugated as she was, stepped up beside Titania. The Seelie Queen's halfling daughter... the intolerable police detective... and that insufferably perfect female gargoyle.

"Apologize to them?" Maeve cried, incredulous. "I've done nothing to them!"

"Yet," she added in her mind. She had spent years time plotting and fantasizing how she wanted her next encounter with all three of them to go. She'd even begun toying again with the idea of keeping the gargoyle as a slave for a while, since the more she thought about it, the more a quick death seemed too good for her anyway.

Anger danced across Fox's features; she spoke before her mother could, her green eyes flashing. "Stop lying! You know you cast a spell!" she accused.

"You've made our lives miserable with horrible dreams! Why won't you just admit to it?" Elisa added.

Maeve blinked, but kept her shock hidden. "How did my magic reach to the outside world?" Fleeting thoughts that perhaps she had retained more of her power than she thought passed happily through her head as she looked at Angela, expecting her to have something to add, as well. Strangely, though, the lavender female seemed fearful, and offered nothing. Maeve stared at her now in utter revulsion. Her recapture and the apparent discovery of her escape plan had dashed the fantasies that had sustained her through her long imprisonment, instead leaving her bound in magical chains at Angela's feet.

Maeve glared at the girl, straining against her chains angrily. "You like seeing me this way, don't you?" she demanded.

Angela cringed as if she'd been slapped. "No," she protested weakly, barely able to form the word as she recalled the thrill she'd experience in the dreams at seeing Elisa similarly bound. The sick feeling of shame rushed over her again, and she cowered back, averting her eyes from the former Unseelie queen's.

The Sisters acted immediately, pulling Maeve back down with but a gesture. The captive woman didn't resist; her mind was already spinning at seeing the look of nausea and near terror that played across the gargoyle's features. "She's afraid of you - she always has been," an inner voice cried. "Even now, you can still intimidate her. Use that and you may get out of this yet!" A new plan formed quickly in her ever-sharp mind. The girl was also a magic user, if a feeble one... but she could still take the blame. Maeve summoned more tears and shifted her tack immediately.

"Please, Angela!" she cried desperately. "I know you must hate me, but this isn't the answer! Have your vengeance on me if you must, but don't make your friends and your clan suffer."

The Sisters looked at each other in confusion, as did the four mortals, and Maeve turned to Titania and pressed her newfound advantage. "I have no magic, my queen, your Lord Oberon saw to that. I'm not responsible for this. She is," Maeve insisted, nodding her head toward Angela. "She cast a spell on her friends and now she wants to blame it on me!"

The young female gasped in shock, and Desdemona took her arm to steady her. "What?" she cried, her eyes flashing red. "How dare you!"

"You've got a lot of nerve!" Fox broke in.

Elisa stepped forward as Angela turned away, burying her head against Desdemona's wing to hide the shamed tears that began to flow anew from her eyes. "Angela would never do anything to hurt any of us."

"She blames the young one, sisters," Luna said, mildly astonished.

"She has gone too far this time," agreed Phoebe

"Perhaps she needs more conducive persuasion to confess her crimes," suggested Selene.

"Enough!" Titania screamed. Her voice resonated in the tiny chamber, quieting humans, gargoyles, and fay alike. "No more deceptions, Maeve," she hissed. "No more of your accusations." The regal woman stepped closer, towering over the subjugated Maeve, her hair beginning to drift as if stirred by a breeze on the glowing aura of magical power that crackled into being around her. "Angela is not the one responsible for this strange magic," she declared, her voice chillingly low. "She was a victim of it. You only compound your crimes against her with these fabrications." With an effortless gesture, she gripped Maeve's chains and pulled the other woman to her feet.

The Sisters stepped back, maintaining their focus on holding Maeve restrained but handing over magical control to their Queen without hesitation or protest. They said nothing, but the furtive look that passed between them betrayed that they knew something big was about to happen. Fox and Elisa took small steps back, as well, reading their cue from Desdemona, who also had given the Seelie Queen room as she continued to hold Angela in a comforting embrace.

"Lady Maeve, also known to the mortals as Queen Mab, the Mistress of Dreams," Titania intoned, locking her eyes squarely with the other woman's. "I am a fair and merciful Queen. I grant you one final chance to admit the truth, or else submit to a trial by fire to reveal it."

"She's bluffing," the smug internal voice reassured. "Your spell was flawless. If the girl hadn't meddled, you have succeeded." Maeve cast another glare at Angela out of the corner of her eye. "She'll take the blame yet... and the punishment."

"I have already spoken the truth, my queen," the woman with the emerald highlights in her dark, flowing hair replied. She lifted her chin defiantly, reasserting an almost regal bearing despite still being bound helpless in glowing chains. "I am ready for any magical trial. Can the gargoyle sorceress say the same?"

Fire danced in Titania's eyes at Maeve's continued insolence, but it was Angela who spoke next. The former Unseelie queen couldn't help but blink in shock as the girl left Desdemona's side and stepped toward her for the first time.

"I have nothing to hide," Angela growled as she moved up closer to Titania, seeming unfazed by the same tinglings of the Seelie queen's magical energy that had caused the others to step back. "I won't be afraid of you any more," she declared, her tone becoming less hesitant and more assertive as she spoke. "I can't let you hurt my friends."

A small smile tugged at the corners of Titania's mouth as she saw the haughty, confident look in Maeve's eyes start to waver. Reaching out, she took the lavender female's hand and gently drew her closer. "Assist me, child," she commanded lightly. She held out her other hand, turning her gaze to where Elisa, Fox, and Desdemona still stood. "You, too, my daughter."

As if drawn, Fox stepped quickly to her mother's side, but not without first grabbing Elisa's hand and pulling her along, as well. Magical energy danced over them both as Fox took Titania's hand, energizing them and sending their skin tingling.

The aura of magical power surrounding Avalon's queen expanded as hands were clasped, enveloping the fay woman and the trio of mortals in a fluid, glowing mass of energy. For the first time, the confidence in Maeve's eyes seemed to waver. Behind her, the Sisters linked hands, as well, intensifying their focus and tightening her bonds to ensure she was held completely immobile as Titania began to speak.

"I call on Avalon to cleanse itself of this dark magic," she intoned, her voice controlled yet strangely melodic. Her eyes lit with green light as she gathered the power to her. Angela, Elisa, and Fox gave a collective gasp as the mystical energy arced through them like an electric current, freezing them in place as the air itself around them began to stir.

Wind swirled in the small chamber, and multicolored lighting crackled across the ceiling overhead as Titania raised her voice and continued. "Reveal to me the one who spun this web of lust and dreams," she commanded, her eyes burning with the summoned power. "Cast the magic back. Weave it around its maker and make it their undoing. Ensorcel! Imprison! Be done!"

A ball of brilliant light exploded outward as the maelstrom coalesced instantaneously into a single, focused point, blinding the three mortal women as a simultaneous scream of protest and agony met their ears.

"No!" Maeve cried, gasping in shock as the magic was wrenched from her mind's grasp and the mental shield she had raised in attempting to implicate Angela in her place fell under Titania's powerful assault. The force of the shock wave knocked her to the ground, and she screamed in pure agony, her head spinning as her own spell was turned back on her. When she regained her senses enough to look up, the fairy Queen was standing over her, a smug smile on her face and fire in her eyes.

"You lied, Lady Maeve," Titania hissed, venom dripping from her words.

Fear gripped the former Unseelie for the first time. Death would most likely be her sentence now - a showy spectacle of an execution before the entire court. Maeve collapsed on the ground, prostrating herself in true, frightened submissiveness. "Mercy, my queen," she begged, her long dark, emerald-highlighted curls hiding her face as she hung her head in contrition. "Mercy!"

"You had your chance for mercy," Titania declared coldly. "Had you confessed, I even would have been prepared to allow you to remain here, after an appropriate punishment. But by your stubbornness and arrogance, you have left me no choice. You will receive no mercy. Your punishment now will be eternal."

Angela couldn't hold her tongue. "Queen Titania," she interrupted, nearly regretting it the moment the fay woman's cold, hard eyes turned to her.

"What is it, child?" she asked, her gaze softening as she took note of the sudden hesitation and small flash of fear in the young gargoyle's eyes. "Go ahead," she added, more gently. "You may speak."

Angela paused, struggling with her conflicting feelings. After all Maeve had put her through, she was finding it hard to find the words. "It's just that... you're not going to kill her, are you?"

Titania smiled wickedly and chuckled, earning a look of confusion from the girl and her friends. "Oh, no, child. If she's dead, she can't learn anything. Maeve will live. I will show her the same consideration that she bestowed upon you."

Understanding dawned upon the gargoyle's gentle features and she shivered. "A fate worse than death," Angela whispered breathlessly.

Fox shook her head. "I don't understand, Mother. What are you going to do?"

"Nothing that Maeve doesn't richly deserve, Fox." Titania replied. "She will be like a spider, trapped in her own web. All that you endured, that my Court endured, will be hers," the queen turned her gaze on the cowering prisoner. "It seems more than fair, don't you think?"

"No!" Maeve mouthed soundlessly. "Oh no!" she squeaked, the last of her courage deserting her.

Titania smiled again, benevolently this time, as Oberon entered. Queen inclined her head graciously to her King, and the others in the audience chamber bowed. "Greetings, my love. You are suffering no ill-effects from Maeve's latest misdeeds?"

Oberon looked upon the assembled sourly, his face dark blue with anger. "You have perpetrated your last outrage upon my people, Maeve." He turned to his queen. "I take it you've chosen just punishment."

"Indeed, my lord," Titania replied. "I think we may all agree," she said with a pointed look at her mate, who was still feigning outrage, "that too much pleasure can be a bad thing." Involuntarily the courtiers nodded. "Then imagine if you will, an immortal lifetime of pleasure-filled dreams." Even Oberon looked shocked as he realized what his queen was thinking. "Waking dreams, sleeping dreams, it will matter not. Maeve shall be caught forever in her own, evil web."

Oberon considered for a moment, realizing that all of his own latest indiscretions could be easily explained away as the results of Maeve's spell, and nodded sagely. "It is just." With a negligent wave in the prisoner's direction he added, "Let it be done."

Maeve screamed as a ball of magical energy enveloped her, lifted the condemned woman skyward, and then rapidly dissipated. Her eyes fluttered closed and she landed bonelessly on the ground. Oberon yawned. "Remove her to the dungeons until Poseidon can be summoned to reclaim her. Never again shall this one be allowed to sully the fair shores of Avalon." He paused thoughtfully, then added, "You have our leave to keep her... entertained in the meanwhile."

It was all the Three could do to hide their wicked delight. "Yes, my Lord," they replied in once voice. The Weird Sisters, always quick to do Oberon's bidding, surrounded Maeve eagerly and disappeared in a flash of green energy.

"She can't hurt us anymore," Angela said firmly as she studied the floor where Maeve had prostrated herself.

"Never again," Titania promised. She turned to her daughter. Would you care to stay awhile, Fox? I've never really had the opportunity to show you my hospitality."

Fox shook her head. "I'd like to Mother, but M-" Oberon's eyes darkened and the halfling realized she'd nearly committed a Court faux pas. "I mean that spell, left us with some clean up work of our own to do. Someone's got to explain to David and the others just what's been going on. And I think that we'd better take care of those explanations personally."

"Of course," Titania replied, benignly. "But you will visit soon?"

"Soon," Fox promised. "Now about that ride home?"

The fairy queen nodded. "On your way then."

A portal opened and this time, without hesitation, the three visitors stepped through. When reality reasserted themselves they were back in the small guest chamber, and Broadway was still impatiently pounding on the door. "Angela," he cried plaintively.

The three women exchanged glances. "Are you going to be okay?" Elisa asked her gargoyle friend.

Angela's chin rose, in a fair imitation of Demona's. "I think so. What happened was an accident. I must have cast my spell opening the portal to Avalon at the same time Maeve was doing her dirty work. Somehow, some of her dark magic traveled through to our world and contaminated us." She looked at the two human women with dark, somber eyes. "She took the feelings of love and friendship that I have for the both of you and perverted them into something base. I won't forgive her for that."

"Angela-" Fox began, but the younger female cut her off.

"It's okay, Fox," Angela insisted. "I won't forgive Maeve, but I can forgive myself, if you will."

Both humans moved forward, but Fox reached the gargoyle first. She put her arms around her, hugged her briefly and stepped away. "There's nothing to forgive, Angela. Nothing at all."

"Elisa?" Angela asked tentatively as she held out her arms.

The raven-haired woman stepped into her stepchild's embrace. "You can't be held accountable for dreams, Angela." The doorknob rattled, and Elisa sighed. "Are you up to facing Broadway now?"

Angela nodded. "It won't be easy."

"Don't worry," Fox said firmly. "The minute we mention Maeve, the guys won't hear anything else. So, come on," she said, as she opened the door. "We'll tell them together, okay?"

The three inhabitants of Castle Wyvern exited the guest room and were instantly surrounded by their loved ones and clan mates. Though it took them nearly until dawn, they wove a tale of magic, deceit, and dreams that was almost, but not quite, the truth.