26 - "Retribution Part 4: Loss and Love"
Originally Written: April 5th, 2000
November 29th, 2000
Life had moved on swiftly for the rest of the world, and only a week had passed for those
in the daily grudge of the working dominion, for those who dwell in the sunlight, and for
those who's family is still there to greet them when they return home. But for one person
in particular, it was the longest week of her young life, spent grieving for her departed
Brentwood, Malibu, Hollywood, and Burbank, the clones were laid to rest in a private
cemetery, a lush forested area near Xanatos' secluded villa in the outskirts of town, and
every friend of the clan attended the service under the sympathetic radiance of a full
moon. Several members came forward to share with the others, special times they had
with the clones and how they would never forget them.
Yet Delilah remained a far cry from her exuberant self, keeping silent throughout the
entire funeral and never gaining enough strength to come forward. She now had become
a recluse, often retreating to her bedroom for extended periods, taking long solo patrols,
or spending her time buried in the castle's library. Her diet had slowed to inadequate
late-night snacks and her dialogue was limited solely to Goliath, Elisa, and Maggie.
The weather had not relented it's attack on the city, with heavy snowfalls it's most
powerful implements of war, thundering down upon the populace each and every night.
The temperature had dropped to the point where even the gargoyles were uncomfortable
in the cold. Though the longer nights afforded them more freedom, they still had to fight
their way through the tempest of snow and ice, making for a truly hazardous flight.
A single crystal flake, joined in unison with billions upon billions of none alike to cover
what lay of Scottish stones looking above the world's grand vista. An assemblage of
shadows skimmed over the parapets, and came to a rapid stop in a swirl of snow. The
first patrol of the night had returned to their home. Brooklyn, with Sata, Annika, and
Shadow, landed softly and quickly made their way to the archway leading inside.
"By the gods, it is absolutely freezing out there." Sata mumbled as she slammed shut the
heavy wooden gate and shook the snow from her wings. "How do humans manage each
and every day?"
"They have clothes. And scarves. And toques. And gloves. And heaters in their cars..."
Annika grumbled mockingly as she rose her hands to a heating vent and attempted to
return the bloodflow to her taloned fingers. "You should see Todd when he comes over,
he's bundled up like a nine year old. He looks so cute."
The three gargoyles shared a quiet laugh, but were rudely interrupted by an immense
mass of dark grayish-purple skin moving silently between them. Shadow solemnly
continued his way down the hall without breaking his stride, and turned a corner,
effectively vanishing from their eyes. Ever since the death of the clones, he had been
even more withdrawn than usual, barely releasing himself from his chambers only to
patrol, and the entire clan knew why. Delilah had purposely distanced herself from him,
and he was unsure of how to continue with their friendship.
"Do you think he'll ever get out of this funk?" Annika sighed.
"Not until Delilah's feeling better." Brooklyn answered, staring into the swallowed
shadows of the hallway's perpetual reach.
"And that may be a very long time." Sata placed her arm around her mate's waist as they
headed to the kitchen, leaving Annika to follow behind and sigh once again.
"Does Trini like that? Does she?" Elisa pleasantly chirped to her daughter, nuzzling her
lips against Trinity's stomach and watching with absolute pleasure as the small child
laughed in a delightful shriek. She was almost a month old now and beginning to express
her emerging emotions more and more frequently. Elisa had used her daughter as a form
of therapy, after her ordeal with Thailog, as spending just a few moments with the tiny
child would do wonders for her wounded spirit. She caught one of her daughter's toes,
invoking a slight giggle from the diminutive half gargoyle.
Lost in her daughter's world, Elisa would never notice a mammoth specter creeping
behind her along the carpet and walls, growing in intensity and empowered by the bright
light of her single burning lamp. Two massive hands reached on either side and with
even the lightest touch to Elisa's shoulders, she jumped and gasped. Instinctively
grabbing Trinity from the changing table, Elisa whirled around, only to stare into
Goliath's face. "Goliath?!! Oh god..."
"I'm sorry!!" he cried apologetically. "I didn't mean to...I..." The lavender giant pulled
his arms from his mate's frame and looked away to the window.
"Goliath, it's all right," Elisa whispered her consolation and moved closer to her
husband, cradling her baby in her arms, "you just startled me, that's all."
"No, it's not. I shouldn't have prowled behind your back like a common cat. You are
still healing from your assault."
"I told you, I'm fine." Elisa argued, attempting desperately to alleviate his fears of her
fragility. "Thailog is dead, and I know he'll never hurt me again. Don't let his ghost
haunt you too, Big Guy."
Once again, Elisa's measureless resolve had lightened his dispirited mood and forced his
brooding lips into a smile. He received Trinity from her mother's arms, and held her
close to his chest.
The small baby cooed, showing her merriment of being held by her father with a flitter of
her wings, and reached out to grab the long sable locks falling around Goliath's
shoulders. She caught a handful of hair in her tiny fist and smiled, marveling at the
rough but silky substance flowing between her fingers.
"Have you talked to Delilah lately?" Elisa broke the mood as Goliath's attention was
severed from his daughter.
"I've...exchanged words with her, but she doesn't feel like talking about her feelings, or
even speaking at all, for that matter."
"I don't blame her."
"Nor do I. She has lost most of her family. I felt the same way after we were awakened
six years ago. The death of my clan still weighed heavily on my heart." Goliath's hand
found it's way to the subtle bronze of his wife's skin, his talons gracing against her
cheek, reaffirming their unique bond with his subtle contact. "But I had the clan, and
you, there with me."
"Yeah." Elisa wrapped around his massive arm and spied upon her daughter, yawning
deeply in her father's embrace and drifting off to sleep. "I'm getting concerned. She's
shutting herself away from the rest of the clan, and the world, especially Shadow."
"She doesn't need that aggravation right now. She needs to concentrate on healing, on
dealing with the death of her brothers."
"She also needs someone to love, like the rest of us. She had such a crush on him, and
now, it's like he's become a stranger to her."
"Perhaps in time," Goliath started with an allusion of sorrow, "they will find each other."
He moved to the nursery doors and slid them from his path, entering Trinity's corner
domain of the castle. The entire bay window was filled with Earth's only satellite,
millions of years of cosmic bombardment etching it's barren surface, and revealing it's
archaic pain to the inhabitants above the clouds. He laid Trinity into her crib and pulled
the blanket over her, watching the baby wrap herself with her wings and cuddle deeper
into the quilts, finding solace and peace in the folds of cotton.
A granite stare penetrated through the darkened library, eyes honed of ancient skills and
heightened instincts, bringing every shelf, book and piece of furniture of the circular
room into sharp focus. His skin of raven violet would barely distinguish him from the
surroundings, if not for the tattoos on his chest, a bright orange incandescence giving
away his true identity.
Shadow traveled silently through the room, searching for a particular book and hoping to
take his mind off the last week's events, his thoughts ever settling on lost souls departed
from this world, and the one young woman now left seemingly alone. He ran his talons
over the worn texts and discovered the book he had started weeks ago. He pulled it from
the shelf and admired the cover, scrawled with Japanese text. Satisfied of his choice, he
made his way to the exit, his eyes still trained on the decorative sheath with golden
He never sensed, or even heeded, another form walking towards him in the dark. They
collided and Shadow dropped his book. "Oh, I am sorry," he bent down to pick up the
volume and when he arose to set his sights on his accident victim, he met the chocolate
eyes of a copper colored gargoyle, "...Delilah??"
"Shadow," she managed quietly as she attempted to walk past, "it was my fault."
"Wait." He grabbed her arm and forcefully stopped her from slipping away. "Please."
She coerced herself to again make eye contact and bored into him with a tired glower.
Perhaps her most radiant feature had been destroyed by relentless crying, her eyes were
bloodshot, and her golden features, inherited from her human mother's vigorous skin
color, were pale in comparison, almost to the point as if it were revealing a declining
Shadow relented to her sickly facade and winced, "I am truly sorry."
"...go away..." she whispered, a barely audible plea.
"Please leave me alone, Shadow." She ripped from his powerful grip and proceeded to
head in the direction of the library's fireplace with an unsteady stride.
"I...I thought we could talk...I would like to help you..."
"Don't you get it?!!" she screamed in a voice so much like Demona's, whirling around
and her eyes glowing an angry crimson. "I don't want or need your help!!" Tears
streamed forth and immersed her skin in a glistening of sheer agony, her malicious words
becoming torn within her throat. Shadow moved to console her, but she quickly caught
his arms. "I was in love with you, but you turned me away. You can't imagine the pain I
feel right now, the absolute despair that my life has become! I...just want to be left
alone..." She pushed him away and ran from the library, holding her hands to her face,
muffling her sobs as she disappeared from sight.
Shadow swallowed hard, constraining himself to suppress the growing rage and almost
ripping the book he held in two. "I am sorry..."
Annika turned from her position at the writing desk, to see her boyfriend entering her
bedroom, coming up alongside and running his hands along her wing struts.
"What's going on?" Todd asked as he gently kissed her forehead and connected with a
watery seaway of sapphire, contained within her large eyes.
"Same old thing," she responded in a shirked drawl, "out for patrol. No crime, as there's
over two feet of snow on the ground and the mercury has dropped below freezing.
Having to watch one of my friends grieve for her family, night after night." Annika stood
up and moved to the center of her room, while Todd remained to the side, a regretful grin
smoothing over his lips.
"Oh. Stupid question, huh?"
"Of course not," she quickly answered, drifting back to her boyfriend and wrapping her
wings around them both, "it's just hard watching Delilah cry every night and cut herself
off from the rest of us."
"I used to do that, when I was younger." Todd started, with Annika pulling back slightly
to link her gaze with his. "When my parents were killed and I was placed in the
children's home, I used to think I was all alone, even though I was surrounded by many
friends who wanted to help me. It's like...you're on an entirely different world. A world
where you're the only inhabitant."
"But how can we help her if she won't let us?"
"She has to want us to help her. Then and only then, the healing can begin." Todd
pressed his forehead to Annika's, playing with the mass of platinum hair falling behind.
"Trust me on this one. I know what it's like to lose your family. So do you, in a way."
He noticed a saddened facial cast cross her features and tried to change the subject.
"How's Elisa doing?"
"A lot better than anyone expected. The nightmares have subsided and she's spending a
lot of time with Trinity and Goliath. He rarely leaves her side."
"Do you blame him?" he asked.
"I guess not. If the person I loved was assaulted and almost raped, I would spend every
waking minute with them."
Todd's grip vigorously tightened around Annika's slender frame, knowing the life her
adoptive family leads was perhaps more dangerous than he dared to admit. "Man, life
can turn to crap sometimes. First Thailog tries to rape Elisa, then he kills the clones. I
mean, I didn't know them very well, but they were still pretty cool. They were the last
people on this planet that deserved to die."
"I know." she whispered, burrowing into his neck, and sensing the strength he granted to
her in just his sweet touch. "Hopefully...Delilah will be all right."
White fields of ivory lay across the expanse of the courtyard and towers of castle
Wyvern, and a trail of footprints left by a solitary journeyer were quickly faded from any
recollection by an ever increasing snowfall. Delilah trudged the steps of Goliath's tower,
and emerged into the harshest of winds, only come to life at this impressive height. Her
hair curled and twisted in the flowing gale, and the snow built upon her shoulders, but
she never took notice.
She leaned against the perch where Goliath had watched over the castle for so long, and
cast her pensive gaze into the city. The snow had performed a remarkable task of
disguising the older buildings' faded exteriors, bringing their withered prominence to
rival even the newest and grandest of towers. She never tired of this view, as she had
lived most of her short life underneath the streets and in the consuming darkness.
Before long, she would sense a wetness on her cheek. At first she thought it was the
swirling of frozen rain, but as she touched a talon to her face, she felt yet another tear
trickling down and running under her chin. Her tears could barely be contained now,
flowing self-actively without any an initiation. She trembled violently, as soon the
weather would take a turn for the worse and she wrapped her frosted wings around her
shoulders to protect her from the cold.
The city below her was quiet tonight. No sirens, no pedestrian noise and barely a car
honking. Barely a soul existing outside in this frigid world, safely concealed in their
homes of steel and brick. But there was something else in the air, a haunting sound that
remained suspended in the sky and reflected off the stone walls. She turned to face the
courtyard and the sound grew louder, seeming to come from the castle itself. Her gaze
fell upon a lone tower far back from the main structures. She recognized this sound. It
was Shadow's flute.
Delilah freed a mournful sigh into the air, her breath dissipating just as fast as it was
released. She had always enjoyed listening to his music, but now it served as a biting
reminder to the young clone of their past conversation, a revelation of his own feelings
that could never match what she so desperately wanted to hear. She turned to escape
from the tower and the tormented feelings associated with every note of the soft soprano,
but was seized in place when the music changed melodies, flowing into something she
did recognize. "The Song of Souls..."
It was the song that Shadow had played for her months earlier, the song he played for his
grandfather when he died. She shut her eyes and chastised herself for yelling at the dark
warrior in the library. For he too had lost his entire family years before, and he too knew
the pain she was feeling.
She hopped to the ledge and glided down to the solitary turret, landing in front of the
massive wooden door that led into Shadow's room, towering above her. The music was
strong, even through the thick stone walls. She pressed upon the door with her talons,
and after a mere moment of hesitation, urged the barrier open with a subtle thrust.
Delilah gasped with shock as she slipped through and entered the room. This was the
first time she had ever seen the inside of his chambers. The walls were covered with
ancient tapestries and paintings from the country he claimed as his own, with weapons of
every shape and size hanging between them. The glistening steel of the swords and
knives and spears, captured the glow of the firelight, emanating from the large flaming
pit in the center of the room. Numerous wooden shelves contained vases, statues and
books, covered in Japanese script, gathered in arranged places with an ever meticulous
Her gaze centered on the owner of this amazing asylum, placed in a sitting position near
the wall, with his back towards Delilah. His hair, released from their braided confines,
had flowed forth over his shoulders and wings, their impressive length pooled onto the
Senses beyond that of normal men and gargoyles, able to percieve things that no one else
could, and yet, he was perchance too absorbed in his music and his own feelings of guilt
to notice her encroach upon his side. He was finally broken from his playing when a
hand brushed aside his shoulder. Peering from between the layers of bleached tress, he
bore witness to a copper colored gargess standing above him. "Delilah!!" he shouted,
quickly rising to his feet and his long hair falling to below his knees. "What...what are
you doing here?"
"I'm sorry to intrude, but I heard your flute."
"Your presence is never an intrusion. You are always welcome in my chambers."
Shadow replied as he looked down at the flute in his hands. "I just thought you did not
want to speak with me."
Delilah too followed his eyes to the instrument held in his grasp. "I heard your song.
The Song of Souls."
"I was playing it as a tribute to your fallen brothers. I...wanted to play at the
"I'm sorry." she quickly cut in.
"For yelling at you in the library."
"You needn't apologize. You were angry."
"That still never gave me the right to scream at you. You have gone through exactly
what I am going through now. And I was also angry about our...conversation after the
"I..." Shadow tried to speak, but with a motion of Delilah's hand, he quickly silenced
"I had no right to get angry. You told me the truth, you didn't feel the same way. I
should have accepted it, but it made me feel like...I truly didn't belong anywhere. I have
tried to fit in with the others, but," she held up her hand and looked intensely at her four
fingers before clenching them into a fist, "I'm still a creation, nothing but a laboratory
"You are not an experiment!" Shadow snatched her hand within his own, giving her a
reassuring squeeze. "You are a unique individual who is very strong, very caring, and
very beautiful. You are surrounded by friends and family that do not care where you
came from, but who you are."
The clone smiled weakly before the look of mourning, which she had worn for the past
week, forcefully overpowered her features, disquieting Shadow's reserve, unwilling to
see her in anymore pain.
"I do know how you feel, but I never had anyone else to rely on when my grandfather
died. You have the entire clan, and the mutates...and me. I will be by your side, always."
Delilah turned back to the room's interior, attempting to avoid his penetrating gaze. "But
just as a friend, right?" she whispered.
"Perhaps...more." He caressed Delilah's face and leaned over to bring his face level with
her own. He closed his eyes and gently touched his lips to hers.
Delilah was taken aback, completely surprised by what she had only dreamed about, but
surrendered to his enchantment, held in Shadow's arms, and snared by his incredibly
caring kiss. The dark warrior dropped the flute with a clatter to the stonework and
wrapped his arms around her body.
She clasped to his tattooed chest and burrowed deeper in the muscular breadth of his
massive frame. The kiss lingered and it wasn't until Shadow broke from Delilah's
mouth, that the clone was able to take a breath. "Oh wow..." She stepped back and
stared at Shadow with a trembling lower lip. "B-But I thought..."
He smiled softly, a bashful hint trying to be concealed. "I confess, I have had...stirrings.
The way you ran away the night I told you how I felt, has been burned forever into my
memory. The way you gently cradle your baby sister in your arms. The way you appear
when you smile...the way you looked when your brothers lay dying before you. I have
never seen you so sad, so...vulnerable. I wanted to help you, to hold you, but I was
unsure of how to proceed. I have never experienced love, I have never had
these...feelings before, and I was afraid to act on them. That is why I pushed you away."
Delilah's face lightened into a smile. "You...were afraid?"
Shadow responded with a frown and lifted his chin slightly. "I fear nothing...except
hurting those I care for. And I care about you, perhaps now more than anyone else and
more than anything else." He extended his arm and open hand to call to her, and she
responded quickly, stepping into his embrace. His spiked wings enfolded them in a
domain of leather warmth, and he stole his arms around her shoulders and back.
She rested against his chest, gliding talons across stretched skin, marked with the bright
glow of his cursive brands and felt it rise with every breath he took. Since freed from a
madman's service years ago and since watching from afar as couples grew close to love
and live as one, her life, though extremely short, had become a search for someone to
care for her as well. And now this dark, grim beast of a gargoyle, who barely
acknowledged any of the clan, had chosen her, and her alone. "I've wanted to be held in
your arms ever since I met you." she whispered, for by virtue of this moment, her pain
had temporarily disappeared.
"I will always be there for you," he replied in an affectionate tone, outwardly unusual for
the dark warrior, "I promise."
Delilah knew she had started to cry again, but never tried to hold the streaming tears
back. "Thank you." she said, knowing some day, she would come to terms with the
death of her brothers, and the gargoyle holding her in his powerful arms would be there
every step of the way.
The night was theirs to live out in a new perspective, as joined by a painful past and a
desperate quest for a family to care for. The moon drifted to the distant horizon, fading
from their sight, and in the small tower they stayed, enjoying the closeness their loving
touch brought forth. Delilah would ask of him a favor, to play the Song of Souls for her
again, and this time meaning more than she could possibly imagine. The shadows
retreated to the emergence of the sun, rising from it's celestial perch, encasing the
gargoyles and locking the couple together in perpetual stone. In each other's arms, and
in each other's hearts.