Impress Me

Chapter 5 - Rapunzel

Missing the tide shifting in her hair, the crests of water washing against her feet, she would sit by the fountain, thinking it would reminisce of home. But even that got too painful, for they came with memories she was struggling to forget yet wanted to remember always. The true battle was in choosing a semblance of tranquility or never letting her rage die; unaware of the better answer. The side that wanted to remember and stay the storm still wanted to find calm beneath a wet surface. It cleansed her, relaxed the young gargoyle. And just as she was resigned to believe she was trapped in a stair-less tower far from such amenities, she learned of a pool in the lower floors.

Spending time with Brooklyn and the other gargoyles made Haven realize two things: the first she had neither time nor capacity for but the second was that Xanatos kept a decorative pond complete with waterfall in his building, not far from an observational console he used for security outside the building. Being a little more accepting of her current situation after Brooklyn’s stunt made her more curious and prone to exploration. She blocked out any thoughts that this was something Jerico would have loved just as she stumbled on it.

It took quite a while for the gargoyles to recognized that her usual space – noting her to have such a pattern given that it first was the fountain then the garden – had changed. They even took bets that the next place would be the library or the TV room and Hudson seemed to veer from that conversation.

Faultless of hesitation, she dove right in, not caring if there were rules or advises against it. The water felt cool on her skin and tingled in her hair. She swam into the disturbance in the water created by the waterfall and poked her head out to resemble a shower. Her fin-like tail whipped to and fro, sending her whizzing through the water. The only thing that could top it was soaring though ocean streams again.

Getting out again and laying on the floor was nothing like crawling onto the sand still slightly warm from the sun but she could night-dream. She’d spend the hours when the others were away protecting the city swimming, leaping out every once in a while to dive right back in half a second later. Night after night went by and one night on her way back from drying her hair, a different human rounded the corner. Her jacket was as red as Haven’s hair.

“You’re a new face.” the human spoke. “As are you.” Haven was curious why this human was not surprised to see her. At that moment, Goliath came down the hallway. “Elisa, what brings you here?”

“We’ve got trouble at Central Park. I caught Demona fighting Jon the Hunter.”

“Then I suppose introductions will have to wait. Haven, you should come with us.” He turned to leave. “Wait, why me? This is not my battle and I don’t know who I fight.”

“This is true, but Demona is a strong opponent. Any threat she poses is to humans as well as gargoyles. We may need all the help we can get.” With that he left. “I’m Elisa Maza. I’ll help you where I can in the coming fight.” Elisa offered.

“Mind your place, human. I did not ask nor will I ever request your help. Just stay out of my way.” Haven barked before storming off. Elisa stood there taken aback, “…nice to meet you too…”

Haven and Elisa followed after Goliath to the courtyard several yards between each other. The others were already gathered; Brooklyn seeming the most ready. Elisa went straight to Goliath and jumped in his arms while Haven stood at the courtyard entrance, “Hudson, take Broadway, Lexington, and Elisa to lead the attack on Jon. We do not know his motives in this yet so fight to subdue. Brooklyn, Angela, Haven; we will take the fight to Demona. Haven, be wary of Demona. She may try to deceive you. Let’s move out!”

“Goliath, wait!” Not a moment was spared to hear Haven’s protest as they all left her standing near the edge. Haven froze, knowing this fight to be so great of consequence that Goliath would ask an outsider to get involved, but it was the first time since her attempt to leave that she had even been near the castle’s ledges. ‘I didn’t want to get involved anyway. And they can’t need me SO much. What use can I be?

“Why do you not follow?” Just then her thoughts were interrupted by Angela, who had turned back being the only one to notice. Haven wanted to pretend she didn’t hear the question, unsure of how to answer it. But she stood there still expecting an answer, she had to say something, “I…ug…I-this…is none of my business. It wouldn’t…not be right to get involved and…”

“You’re afraid.”

“No, that’s not it. I don’t even know what I’m fighting so I have no reason for fear. I just…”

“That’s not what I meant.” Haven froze and a bead of sweat fell, ‘She can’t m-…change the subject!

“I-I also have a problem with fighting. I was raised to endorse nonviolence and to aid in a battle…but it is good to fight your own battles and I won’t stand in your way.”

“Surely you don’t expect me to believe that.” Angela stared her down, “A night ago in the library, you were ready to throw an infant from your leg. A week ago, you started a fight with some street thugs.” Haven really didn’t know what to say next so Angela persisted, “I apologize: I heard your story to Kale, about when your brother got sick. It struck me as odd that you walked the whole way. And it’s not only that: you actively refuse to leave this place despite wanting most to. You don’t even approach the edge. Even now, you pause before going further.”

You could start a small jewelry business with the beads Haven was sweating. She shook slightly and her heart raced, eyes wide and sharp with panic. Haven held her arms and backed away from the edge burying her chin into her chest as it filled with air from anxiety, “I can’t follow you.”

“I can help you.”

“No you can’t! No one can.” Angela moved closer to her, “I can if you’ll let me.”

“It wouldn’t matter if I did. I can’t glide like the rest of you. I can’t look out on a city and take in its beauty. Can’t see past any distance from the ground.” Haven turned away and crouched down, hoping her thick hair would drape to hide her face. Angela was taking a gamble with this whole conversation but now she felt guilty driving a nail into something so personal, “I sorry. I did not mean to open a wound.”

“I’ve tried…” she sobbed, “tried to overcome it. Tried to hide it. A gargoyle was born to fly. It’s a disgrace to be so…” She rubbed her eyes ragged, realizing the humiliation in falling apart like this, “I’ve just come to accept it.” she sniffled, “I can’t fight this.”

“Yes you can. I’m here to help if you’re willing. But right now, the others need us.” Angela helped her up, “You made it up here to a castle above the clouds. How?”

“Brooklyn carried me here. I could hardly bear it.” Her composure was starting to come back. “Then I will take you on my back.” Haven’s breath started to pick up again. “Just close your eyes and trust me. Do you trust me?”

“To be truthful, no. I don’t trust any of you. I’d rather stay here.” Angela was losing patience, “Do you want to overcome this or not?”

“I do but…”

“Then do you trust me?” Haven stood there, not wanting to say yes but knowing the remaining option would leave her frozen in stasis, “…don’t drop me.”

She climbed onto Angela’s back, shutting her eyes tighter than a screw hole, so there was no need to caution about hanging on. There was a swift falling feeling followed by many ups and downs. Her heart raced almost as swift as Angala and she tried to remember not to choke her while in the air. Wind pushed against her ears and arms and she felt it move down like a vacuum at her feet all of which would have felt relaxing had it not meant she was in the air. It made her arms cold but she was used to cold despite growing up in a tropic.

What seemed like ages of terror was probably no more than a few minutes. When the eternity ended and she felt the rush of wind cease and her feet touch on soft grass, she just slumped off Angela and clenched the grass in her fists, nuzzling it without need to open her eyes because she was unquestionable of it. But her powerful moment of relief was interrupted.

The battle had already begun without them. It was a three way mêlée. Demona was trying to escape while fighting off Jon and the clan, the clan was trying to capture Demona and evade Jon’s assault weapon, and Jon was attempting to take them all out. Not only that, but the clash of forces were heading straight for them.

Angela and Haven charged forward at Demona but were knocked out of the way. She took to the air and disappeared into the night; Brooklyn and Goliath went after her not sparing a moment to ask why Angela and Haven were so late in helping them.

With little time to recover, they were forced to scatter when Jon came at them. They were pinned down instantly as Jon was firing multiple shots at a time. Their only offense, Elisa, was pinned down as well. “Come out you blasted beasts! You’ll not get away from me! I shall have revenge for what you did to my brother, Jason!” He fired blindly into the darkness, “Come out, you cowards!”

He fired again at random, but this time, it hit Broadway in the arm. He cried out in pain alerting Jon to where they were. “There you are!” He ran at them. Haven and Angela could sit still no longer. They charged to stop Jon. He turned to fire on them. Missing, Haven grabbed at the weapon and pushed it skywards.

Jon fired in the melee and blew an indention into her wing. She howled in pain and backed away. He took aim at her but Lexington knocked his weapon to the ground. Hudson grabbed the gun and tried crushing it which caused it to overload and blowup in his hands, knocking him back. With no weapon, Jon was forced to withdraw. “This isn’t the end of it! I won’t rest until every gargoyle is dead!”

Elisa followed after him like a good cop but lost him when he flew off in and air-vehicle. Angela rushed to Broadway’s side, “Are you alright?”

“Yeah, I’ve had worse scrapes than this. I’ll be fine.” he said somewhat smugly, “I’m more worried about Haven. Are you ok?”

“I’ll manage.” Haven drew in her wing to draw less attention to it. Hudson sighed as he fought to stand, “We should probably try to catch up with Goliath and Brooklyn.”

Lexington shook his head, “Demona will be hard enough for Goliath to chase. There’s no way to catch up with them now.”

“We should still try. They may need our help.” Broadway urged. “You guys go ahead.” Angela insisted, “I’ll take Haven back. She can’t glide like this and it would be too dangerous to take her into a fight with Demona now.”

“Alright. Take care of her, Angie?” Hudson helped Broadway up and they took off. “What are you up to?” Haven asked as soon as they were gone.

“We’re going to work on fixing your problem.”

Meanwhile, Goliath and Brooklyn were chasing down Demona through the Westside streets. Fueled by his rage for Demona, Brooklyn was gaining fast. Finally within his reach, he clutched her tail and pulled himself up to grab her wing. They fell out of the air and into the streets. Many of the pedestrians ran while others stayed to watch.

He had her under him trying to pin her but she would not have it. She shoved him off of her with her legs. Brooklyn crashed into a car. He looked into his hand to see what he grabbed off of her. It was a talisman with a long-like dragon encircling a black melting skull. “What the…”

No time to discover whatever she stole, he evaded Demona’s advances to retrieve the item. Goliath grabbed her from behind and threw her to the side against a car. Frustrated, Demona shattered the glass and reached into the car to pull out a small boy, his parents in the front seat crying out for her not to hurt him.

“I won’t even get into all the clichés. Now give me the Crest.” she demanded. “We can’t risk the child. Give it to her.” ordered Goliath. Brooklyn slid the talisman over to her, not daring to throw it in the case that it breaks and the boy’s life is forfeit.

“You really are a big softy under all that muscle Goliath. I have to say it’s your biggest flaw. Catch!” She threw the child into the air. Brooklyn leaped after him, catching him before he could hit the ground. As he did, Demona made her getaway.

Brooklyn handed the child to his mother. “Don’t touch him you monster!” They got back in their car and drove off. “That’s some gratitude.”

“We should leave before the police arrive.” They climbed up a building and took off into the night. Upon arriving back at the castle, Kale ran up to him. “Hey Goliath!”

“Hello Kale. You seem out of breath.”

“That’s because I’ve been looking for Haven. I can’t find her anywhere.” Elisa walked up to them. “I tried to track Jon down but no luck so far. How’d it go with Demona?”

“Unpleasant.” Elisa finally noticed Kale standing next to them. “Who’s the kid?”

“This is Kale. He came here with Haven a while ago.” Brooklyn answered. “He looks kinda familiar. What’s your last name, Kale?” Kale looked at her cautiously. “It’s Walken.”

“Walken…Walken…wait, it’s not Walken. It’s Martinez. There was a police report on a runaway named Kale Martinez.” Kale panicked and ran. “Wait a second! You guys had a runaway child and didn’t tell me?” They watched as she ran after him. “Okay.” Brooklyn sighed to off the awkward, “I’ll go find out why Haven needs to be found.”

He walked inside to talk to Lexington and Broadway. “Jon fired a whole into Haven’s wing so Angela said she’d take her back here, but that was over two hours ago.” Answered Lex. At that point in time, Hudson walked in. “I’ll go get the lasses. I could use the quiet anyway.”

“Alright.” agreed Goliath. Then, Hudson was off. Upon landing, he came across someone talking. It was Haven and Angela. “Open your eyes. You can’t get over this if you don’t get used to looking down.”

“I can’t.” Haven said while grasping the stone of the statue Angela put her on. “You’re not even that high up. Spread your wings and feel the air rush through them.”

“I told you, I can’t do this. I just don’t do heights. This is never going to work.” After hearing such interesting information, Hudson decided it was time he stopped eavesdropping on them. “That, I must say, is one I’ve never heard of.” The girls gasped in surprise and Haven fell from her somewhat short perch. Haven’s face looked of terror.

“Don’t ye be worryin’ yourself, lass. None will be hearin’ it from me, not even Goliath.” Haven looked down in shame. “Don’t be embarrassed, child. Fear is a thing in all of us. It is nothing to be ashamed of.”

“It is shameful for a gargoyle.” she replied. “It is new for me to hear something such as this,” Hudson admitted, “but I’m sure there are others.”

As expected, she didn’t by that at all so he continued, “There are three types of persons in this world: the brave, the cowardly, and the courageous. The coward cringes in fear and does nothing. The brave leaps into action with no fears, but the courageous, leaps into action in spite of his fears. Which are you willing to be?”

Haven looked at the elderly gargoyle deep in the eyes. His words were of true wisdom, a wisdom that only comes with patient age. “Be all that as it may, I was sent here to bring you two home. Ye have been out long enough I think.”

“I’m not going back.” They stopped and turned to her, “I don’t belong in your clan. I never did.” Hudson offered his hand, “Nonetheless, you’re always welcome to it.”

She actually didn’t hesitate to take his hand. It seemed like her first step forward since coming to them; a small act of trust. He smiled, “We will stay in touch, should you ever need us.” He handed her a device that Lexington fashioned for the clan to keep communications. And with that, they took to the air, leaving Haven to her freedom.

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