45 - "On Angel's Wings"
Originally Written: February 22nd, 2001

...Dedicated to all those who have lost loved ones in their lives...
...They're never gone, for they live forever in our hearts...
...And for my dad, lost when I was a child, but always looking down on me...

July 7th, 2001
"Delilah? Are you here?" asked the grated rasp of the dark warrior, as he entered through
the wooden door, to find his love's bedroom in an ever continuing state of change. She
had been furiously rearranging her new living quarters to suit her needs, and now Shadow
thought, that something was wrong. It was becoming an impulsive act, almost an
obsession now, to the point he was worried of his blossom's erratic behavior. "Delilah?"

"I'm right here, Shadow." she answered, stepping from the small closet on the far side of
the room. "Just hanging some of my clothes..." Her voice was quiet, and even with
Shadow's powerful hearing, could he barely make her out.

"I see you are still making this room as you see fit, my blossom." Shadow idly
commented, seeing a sly grin form, then swiftly fall away from her supple lips. "I
thought you would be finished by now."

"Almost."

He watched her continue in her task, as she resettled some of her porcelain figures
around on the wooden shelves, ensuring each was in the perfect place. Shadow lowered
his brow, and released an angered sigh. For the last week, she had been subdued in any
emotional response, and spent each night brooding, mostly alone by her own choice.
Even the grand celebration of July fourth barely broke the scowl in her lovely facade, and
he was growing increasingly upset with her ever fading spirit. "Delilah," he growled,
"something is wrong."

Delilah immediately froze in place, yet never turned her eyes to his own, knowing she
would perhaps break down in a teared rage when crossing upon his deep mahogany stare.

Shadow approached her, and caressed his strong hands about her shoulders, left bare, as
her jacket, almost an exacting replica of Elisa's own scarlet coat, had been discarded due
the warmer weather. "Please tell me..."

"It's nothing..." she whispered.

"That is not true, and you know it. You have been hiding yourself away, flying solo
patrols, I barely see you anymore." He tightened his grip, and pressed her close. "I am
worried. This is not like you."

She pushed away from him, and came close to stumbling and falling over as she quickly
made her way from Shadow's stead. "I told you it's nothing." she snapped back, her
voice rife with her anger and torment. Shadow rushed to her, yet she once again shoved
him away. "Leave me alone!"

"Why?!" he yelled back. "What have I done to upset you?"

Delilah at last turned to face him, this time surprising the warrior, and even scaring him,
when she faced him with twin trails of tears slowly crawling their way down her copper
skin. "You always think it's you, don't you? You always think that you're the one who's
imperfect in this relationship. But never are you actually the cause of the pain. It's me.
It's always me, your flawed clone lover. With the mind of a child, the mixed genes of
two women and without a soul of her own. You have no idea of what you have gotten
yourself into, how this relationship will only end up causing you pain, and anguish..."

Shadow's eyes fell wide open, as Delilah edged back from him, as if he was a demon.
"Why...why are you saying this? You know I love you, and have never thought of you
that way. Ever."

"You should get away from me now, Shadow, before you regret it. Before all your hopes
and dreams come crashing down, just like mine have..." With that last abrasive whisper,
she stole from the room, leaving Shadow there, bewildered by her choice of words, and
unable to ever imagine what had actually happened to his love.

He bolted for the door in a moment of clarity, and followed the path of her scent, until a
door opened in his course and he narrowly missed slamming into Elisa with six hundred
pounds of dark gargoyle.

"Whoa, Shadow!!" she screamed as he came to a screeching halt, just before toppling her
slender form. "What the hell?!"

"Elisa-chan, I am sorry," he frantically cried, "but, Delilah...she...we had an...altercation,
I suppose, and she ran from her room..."

"I guess this had something to do with her behavior in the last week or so..." Elisa asked
of the massive gargoyle.

"Yes, I only wanted to find out what was wrong, and she..." he paused, recollecting the
pain present in Delilah's haunting eyes. "I've never heard her speak that way. It seemed
as if her entire world had been taken away in one fell swoop."

Elisa nodded, and placed a hand to her chin. "She's been acting weird, just like
Lexington. She's also been spending a lot of time with Trini, and I mean a lot. She'll
take every opportunity to be with her, feeding her, giving her baths... I don't know,
maybe leaving the Labyrinth was harder for her than we thought. She had a lot of human
friends down there, especially the children."

"But she told me when she moved in, that she loved living here," Shadow countered, "it
was perhaps the best thing that has happened to her for a long time. She knew she could
always visit the Labyrinth dwellers when they moved into the new shelter, and was
extremely happy for your brother and the others who were cured. But less than a month
later, her mood abruptly falls, and she...I just don't know. Elisa-chan, I am worried. This
is not like her at all..."

"No, it's not. Let's give her a couple days, and if things don't improve, then we'll talk."

Shadow reluctantly conceded to Elisa's notion, and wondered just where his blossom had
fled to, and just why her heart was tormented so.

****************************************

She raced through the clouds as fast as her wings would allow, brushing past her slender
form with the feeling of moist cotton. The ivory mists were sliced apart, left to reform in
the skies behind her, and as Delilah continued on, she reveled in the wind against her
face, forcing her gargoyle body into a few barrel rolls. A simple moment of joy, to take
away the pain if only for a couple of seconds.

Her course had been a straight line from the castle cornices, and she pondered just what
direction her anger would take her. She was nearing a collection of buildings unused to
her, even with repeated patrols and flights over this majestic kingdom of bright light and
unceasing noise. A larger building fell into view, possessing a faded white exterior and
large lighted windows. She skimmed past the surface, just inches away from the glass,
all the while darting her eyes into the rooms beyond.

A hospital, where the convalescing lay in their beds to heal in the embrace of family. Yet
something caught her eye, and she pulled away to roll back to the window in question.
She perched on the slight ledge offered just beneath, and peered in to where a flurry of
activity had ensued. Her chocolate gaze fixed upon an assemblage of small bodies
playing before her, in the children's ward of this hospital. Though sick, one would never
be able to tell with the expression of mirth and happiness they carried upon their innocent
faces.

Delilah's stare iced over, seeing the diminutive forms race past her. She littered the
biting wind with her tears, flooding from her eyes, and she quickly crawled away, to hide
herself from the children. She gripped her claws into the fragile exterior, and pulled
herself to another window near the edge of the building, where the drapes were left
slightly open, to reveal a darkened room with a lone bed, and a lone occupant. It seemed
as if the berth had almost swallowed this young patient into it's massive breadth, and
Delilah took notice to perhaps one of the most beautiful children she had ever seen, aside
from Trinity.

She focused in to the girl, who looked to be about twelve years of age, with fair, brown
hair, and a pale complexion, resting against a mass of pillows, and lay silent within the
consuming shadows of the room. Delilah especially noticed the look of utter despair cast
upon her young features, so similar to her own. She wondered what could have caused
this, and why this girl was not with the other children just down the hall.

She continued staring as the girl buried herself within the confines of a book, a thick
volume that seemed far beyond her comprehension, yet she was fully engrossed in the
pages full of thin scripting, and tore through page after page in a quick pace. Delilah's
eyes clicked to the dresser and tables beside her, noticing the enormous pile of books
collected. Delilah sighed, being witness to a child, obviously sick, yet either unwilling or
perhaps unable to join the others.

"Jessica?" A light voice called out, inflaming Delilah's sharp hearing even through the
closed window, and she sunk back out of sight. The owner of the voice appeared through
the doorway, and an older woman walked towards the girl, who only now lifted her
attention from her captivating story. "You should be resting."

"But, mom," the girl wheezed to her mother, "I was just getting to the good part."

"All your friends will still be there when you open your book tomorrow," the woman
answered, delicately lifting the thick book from her daughter's hands, and being mindful
to mark her place, "now get some sleep."

The young girl relented and allowed her mother to pull the covers over her and turn off
the reading lamp. She turned to her side, and away from her mother's sudden change in
appearance. From her warming smile to a heart-broken grimace, she then placed herself
on the edge of the bed, running her fingers through her daughter's chestnut locks.

Delilah took notice of the facial cast, a veil of sorrow and death afflicting the mother, as
she looked upon her sleeping daughter. Delilah found herself intrigued by this family,
and hoped with all of her heart this young girl was only here to heal, and not to die.

****************************************

July 8th
She landed with only the sound of a snap of leather, and the light clatter of her talons
against the surface of the building. Delilah perched herself to the window housing the
young girl seen last night. She was unable to remove this child from her mind, and
wished to find out just why she was trapped here, in this bed. She noticed the window,
left open a few inches, and the hushed whispering of voices flowing into the Summer
winds.

She moved cautiously forwards, to gain sight of a trio of humans next to an empty bed.
A doctor, and a couple, discussing a subject bringing great pain to the woman. Delilah
steadied herself, and attempted to listen in.

"...I'm sorry, Mrs. Howell, but there's nothing else we can do. The tumor is lodged with
the cerebrum. Any attempt at surgery will only kill her, and even if she does survive,
she'll be left severely brain-damaged."

"But what about the radiation treatments?" asked the man, clutching onto his wife with
strong arms, his voice weak.

The doctor paused before answering. "Her system can't take the massive doses of
radiation needed to kill off this tumor. I'm sorry, but I see no other alternatives...I give
her two weeks, maybe more, but..." He stopped short, when the woman curled into the
breadth of her husband's shoulders, and began to cry. "She's coming out of the CAT
scan right now, and will be returned to the room in just a few minutes. She'll get
progressively weaker as the tumor spreads, and she should...pass away peacefully. It's
your choice whether to leave her here, or take her home. I...I'm so sorry."

"Thank you, doctor." the man answered solemnly, returning his attention to the sobbing
woman wrapped in his arms. "Shhhh, it's okay. It's okay." He tried desperately to
amend his wife's tortured soul, yet faced with the brutal reality of her daughter's
impending death, his words only seemed hollow, and pierced his tongue with every false
utterance.

Delilah watched the couple hold each other, until she pulled away from the window, and
fled into the sky, unwilling to witness anymore. 'To have a child is a gift,' she thought,
'and to have them taken away, wrenched from your arms before they have the chance to
experience all that life can offer, is probably the cruelest joke of all.' Delilah flew on,
escaping into the night sky, her form set against the heavens and lost within the starlight.

She landed hard upon a taller building, her talons digging into the brick structure,
sending small chunks or mortar spilling out before her. "Why?" she rasped. "Why must
there be so much pain? So much torment? All children should have the chance to live,"
she faltered and fell to her knees, clutching a hand over her flat stomach, "even mine."
The tears were relentless in the charge to coat her skin, and blemish her dark blue
leotard, hidden beneath her jacket. "Why?"

****************************************

July 9th
She was here once again, the same exact spot, the same exact position, literally hanging
from the side of the building, with nothing but a small edge jutting out to hold her. This
small girl haunted her every waking hour, and even her dreams. She had been
disappearing from the cornices upon the fall of evening for three days now, and even
with Shadow calling out to her, she never paid any heed. She merely flew on, until his
grated voice faded from her ears. She hated herself for leaving the man she loved, but
right now, she did not need him in her life. She felt as if this pain was hers to deal with,
hers to attack on her own, without dragging her lover into her anguish.

The girl was sleeping soundly, an innocent soul wrapped in the cotton sheets and thick
turquoise quilt of hospital issue. Delilah caressed her eyes upon the girl's heavenly
features, deep set eyes, high cheek bones, large, pouting lips. When she grew older, she
would blossom into a beautiful young woman. But Delilah knew now, that she may not
make it past her next birthday. She crept closer, noticing the room was emptied, and the
door closed. The window was open once more, for it seemed this young girl fell to sleep
much easier with the constant, and somehow gentle droning of the city beyond these
walls.

Delilah took one last look, and used a few taloned fingers to slowly pull back the frame.
She stepped in, barely a sound upon the tiled floor with the light steps of a feline, and she
dropped near the curtains. No one, save the girl was here, and Delilah slowly moved
forwards, her breath held within her chest, dreading discovery by this girl's parents or a
visiting nurse. She approached the bedside, and drew up over the sleeping child. The
soothing tempo of her breathing was almost hypnotic, and she lost herself in the splendor
of a wondrous young girl and her cherub features.

She lightly grazed a talon over the girl's cheek, and even felt the chill of this child's
disease flow through her. Suddenly, she stirred. Delilah snapped her hand away, and as
the girl turned on her back, Delilah feared she had woken her from her deep slumber.
Large eyes fluttered open, and the gargess froze.

Her vision was blurred, and only a swath of the purest white flooded her Prussian blue
eyes. Long platinum hair, and ivory wings fell into view, and this girl now thought she
had a celestial savior watching over her. "...a-are you...an angel?" she squeaked, trying to
speak even through the clutches of slumber.

Delilah smiled. "You should rest." she whispered, guiding a hand to the girl's face, and
pulling the covers over her. The girl acquiesced, obviously fatigued, and her eyes fell
closed, perhaps without even her consent. Delilah then backed away, when the hallway
echoed encroaching footfalls within it's length and she slipped through the open window
as if a wraith, quickly disappearing from where she had come.

The door opened to an empty room, and the girls' mother looked around before entering,
almost seeming to sense a presence other than her daughter. She noticed the window was
wide open and she quickly walked over and closed it, then turned to her daughter, who
was still partially awake.

"Mom?" she asked, still blind, betrayed by her eyelids that would not lift as much as she
tried.

"It's okay, baby, it's only me." the mother answered softly, settling herself tenderly upon
the side of the bed.

"I saw...an angel..." Jessica murmured, forming a sweet smile.

Her mother attempted to force her lips into a matching grin, but could not find the
strength. She and her husband had decided not to tell their daughter of her impending
fate, hoping that her last days would be filled with a happiness she could carry with her
into the next world. Yet she knew, as did her husband, that their young child had
suspected what would soon befall her, and perhaps she was hoping for a miracle from
above. An expectation that could ultimately break her heart. "It was just a dream,
honey, go back to sleep."

"But I saw her...she was...beautiful..."

"I know." her mother whispered, placing a gentle kiss to the child's forehead. "I know.
All angels are beautiful."

****************************************

July 10th
"But mom, I saw her!" Jessica argued intently, as her mother slowly shook her head, and
her father merely smiled at an overactive imagination still untouched by the cancer
afflicting her.

"You were only dreaming, Jessica." her mother fought back, trying to sway a dangerous
fantasy before it bloomed into something that would only cause her more pain. "Nothing
more."

The small girl looked down to her lap, bathed in the purest of scarlet fire from the setting
sun beyond her room. She looked almost despondent, in having her angel being
explained as only a figment of her subconscious. "But I saw her..." she whispered
coarsely. "She had white hair and...and white wings...she told me to rest..."

"It was only a dream, sweetie," remarked her father, resting on the back of his chair,
"sometimes the cancer can cause some weird images in your head, and in your dreams.
She wasn't real."

She looked back to the dissolving sun, melting into the horizon ever so slowly, and
reflecting in the azure ocean of her eyes. "I know..."

****************************************

With the tiniest of cracks, climbing their way up her form of granite, she was released
into the dusky remnants of sunlight, streaming across the distant skyline. Delilah
screamed her awakening, and shook off the last off her stone shards, stretching her wings
to cast off the long hours of sleep, and preparing them for the flight about to be taken.

"Delilah?" a voice called out to her. It was Shadow, appearing behind her, and
approaching her quickly before the chance to flee presented itself.

"What?" she asked bluntly.

"Where are you going? You have been disappearing for days now, just as we awaken,
without any word to your whereabouts."

"Since when do I have to inform you of where I'm going, every single time I leave this
castle?" she hissed back, whirling around to face the stunned warrior. "My life is my
own."

"But, my blossom, please..."

"Spare me the blossom garbage!!" she screamed, her infuriated rant catching the ears of
the entire clan, even Goliath above. "I'm not your little pet, to do with want you want,
whenever it pleases you!"

Shadow's brow lowered, almost concealing his dark mahogany eyes from her view. He
stepped forwards, and Delilah finally realized just what words had spilled from her
mouth, due to the wracking pain always present in her chest. "I beg your pardon." he
growled, now right beside the cornice she was standing upon. Even on the stone ledge,
she barely towered over him, and even now, she feared him. "I have never held you back
from living your life the way you see fit. I have never impeded you in any way. I
accepted you into my arms every single time. I have now stood back, and watched as the
woman I love is being torn apart by something she won't even tell me about. Your
privacy is just that, your own. But when it threatens to destroy this relationship that we
have built, that is when I need to act." He grasped upon her arm forcefully, yet gently,
and held her in place. "I am asking you, as the man who shares your bed, what is
wrong?"

"You could never understand." she whispered, though her eyes softened to his deep,
seductive gaze.

"Try me."

"I'm sorry, but this is something I have to work out on my own. Without you. Now,
leave me alone." She pulled her arm away the grayish-purple gargoyle, and he relented,
having heard the absolute finality in her glacial tone. She turned to leave, and as Shadow
stood by and looked on helplessly, she threw herself into the wind, and flew away from
him.

The rest of the clan watched as the dark warrior repressed his anger in a visible shudder,
until he simply turned and stalked through the assembled crowd, barging through the
heavy wooden barrier to the interior of the castle as if it was never even there.

Goliath, having witnessed the entire heated affair between the two lovers from on his
tower, sighed and shook his head. He too, was growing worried of his adoptive
daughter's attitude. And what had just transpired before his onyx glare, clinched what
Elisa had informed him about several days ago. As Delilah finally disappeared from his
range of vision, he knew something would have to be done soon, or perchance what she
has been carrying within her, would tear this couple apart.

****************************************

"We're just going home to get some clean clothes. We'll try to be back in an hour. Are
you sure you don't want one of us to stay?"

"No, mom. Now go already." Jessica ordered playfully, annoyed that her parents have
been shadowing her every move, and would never give her a moment's peace. "Take as
long as you want..."

Her mother scowled and attempted to fight back when pushed from the room by Jessica's
father. The door clicked closed, and the small girl was left alone, possibly what she
wanted all along. She thought maybe she would read, or just watch the television, but
instead she sat in silence, slumping back against the pillows. She stared at the farthest
wall, running through her mind her situation. She knew her parents were holding back,
she noticed how every doctor and nurse was always so cordial to her, going out of their
way to make her as comfortable as possible. She knew something was wrong with her,
as soon as they suspended the numerous tests and attempts to cure her cancer. "I'm
going to die..." she whispered to herself, her vision blearing, becoming obscure with her
tears.

She watched as the drops of liquid cascaded down her pale complexion, and the young
girl bury herself within the embrace of her sheets. As if she could feel the pain
emanating from this frail being, Delilah could hold back no longer, and pushed the
window from her path.

Jessica did not see her until the gargess was right at the edge of the mattress, and only
when her wings rustled, releasing the strong aroma of an ocean saline from the fluttering
membranes, did she turn to see the white-winged woman standing over her.

"Hello." Delilah whispered.

The young girl stared wide-eyed to the gargoyle, roaming her wide stare to the streams of
platinum hair falling over a slim face and slender shoulders, and almost completely
covering the form's right eye. She fluffed her wings a few times and settled them about
her shoulders, forcing a small rush of wind directly into Jessica's face. "I-It's you...are
you...are you...a-an angel?" she asked timidly.

"No." Delilah responded. "I'm a gargoyle."

Though disappointed her angel was not what she seemed, the small child immediately
brightened when actually discovering just what had entered into her hospital room. "A
gargoyle?!" she cheered. "Oh wow! Like from the T.V. I knew you were real, and I've
always wanted to meet one of you! Well, you still look like an angel."

"Thank you." the she-goyle replied, attempting to force down her blush.

"My name's Jessica Howell. What's yours?"

"Delilah."

"Wow, that's a cool name." Jessica cried out, inching her way as close as possible to
where her angel was standing. "Do you have a last name?"

"Uh...yeah, but...I can't tell you."

Jessica sunk back a little. "Why not?"

"Because some of my family is human, and if anyone finds out who they are and that
they know gargoyles, they may be hurt."

"I promise I won't tell anyone." Jessica pleaded, still peering to every inch of the
gargoyle with her sapphire eyes. "Honest."

"All right. It's Maza. Delilah Maza."

"Cool."

Delilah sat down beside the girl, who darted her eyes from her wings to her attire, and
even to the swaying tail behind her. "Why aren't you afraid of me?"

Jessica seemed confused at the question asked of her. "Why would I be afraid?" she
answered, hesitantly reaching out a hand to Delilah's right wing. "Can I touch them?"

Delilah smiled, and her wings released from their position in a sudden flash, enough so to
cause Jessica to squeal in a laughable fright.

"Wow, they're so soft..." the small girl exclaimed softly, running her small fingers along
the velvet membranes, almost glowing in the florescent lights of the room. "So what's it
like being able to fly?"

"I can't really fly, only glide on the currents." Delilah started, enjoying the tender
massage that Jessica's excited pawing of her wings created. "It's wonderful. The
ultimate feeling of freedom. The wind in your face, the ability to soar above the highest
rooftops."

"I hate heights." commented Jessica, as she quickly pulled her hands away, and focused
her eyes back to her large bed, and her prison. "Besides, even if I did get over my fear,
I'd probably never be well enough to get out of this bed."

Delilah's smile fell away, and she brought a taloned finger beneath Jessica's chin, lifting
her eyes back up to met hers. "Can I ask you something?" she inquired of her new friend,
and Jessica nodded. "Why...are you in this hospital?"

"I'm...sick." the young girl choked. "I have cancer...in my brain, and mom says they
can't operate or I'll...die. I don't want to die..."

Delilah felt the tears rush over her hand, and at once, with a maternal instinct, pulled the
small girl against her chest, allowing Jessica to clutch onto her and release her sobs onto
her chest.

"I'm usually too weak to even stand, and...and I sleep a lot. So I stay in this...b-bed, and
read, and stuff..." she muffled her slurred words into the tight fitting leotard stretched
over Delilah's curvy form. "I'm scared, Delilah. I...I don't want to die."

"I know. It's okay to be scared." Delilah calmed her, in a voice so much like her own
mother, Elisa.

Jessica steadied her breathing and tried to wipe the tears away. "I'm sorry for crying..."

"It's okay to cry too." she whispered into Jessica's ear, pulling the girl as close to her as
possible. "It helps to get it all out." This child, whom she met less than ten minutes ago,
now clenched her fingers into her flesh, holding on for dear life. A small girl who was an
embodiment of the child she so wanted, and could not have.

"Thanks, Delilah." Jessica pulled from the gargoyle, and cleared the tears from her eyes,
forming a crooked smile, embarrassed that she unloaded herself onto her new friend.
"I'm sorry..."

"Don't be. That's what friends are for, aren't they?"

Jessica only smiled, and grasped onto the clone's taloned hands. "Yeah...so, can you tell
me more about your family?"

****************************************

July 11th
"Delilah!!" Jessica cried out happily, practically throwing her book to the floor, and
watching as her gargoyle friend slipped through the window, left purposely open by the
young girl, hoping that her winged companion would visit her once more. Especially
after having talked with her for over an hour before her parents returned and Delilah had
to escape before being discovered.

The clone looked wearily around her, before casting her brown eyes to the beaming girl.
"I saw your parents leave. I take it's okay to come in?"

"Yeah. Mom and dad are down in the cafeteria getting something to eat. Finally." she
huffed, forming a pout with her fawning lips. "I'm glad you came back."

"You're my friend. But," her tone became serious rather abruptly, "if you enjoy
company, why do your send your parents away to eat?"

"Because they're always hanging around me. I want them to at least spend some time
outside of this room, instead of watching me di..." she paused, suppressing a labored
sigh.

"Hey," Delilah graced her cheek with a soft hand, "I don't wish to see you sad. And I
enjoy that smile of yours. Can I see it again?"

Jessica couldn't help but to tug the corners of her mouth into a weak grin.

"Much better."

"So, why are you back?"

"Do I need a reason to visit my friend?"

Jessica shrugged innocently. "You've been here three days in a row now, and said you
were watching me for a while before that. It's almost like you don't want to be
somewhere else."

Delilah pulled back, shocked at this young girl's astute senses, and just how right she
was. "You're good." she breathed solemnly, this time her own saddened frown catching
her friend's attention. "It's not somewhere that I don't want to be, it's someone...who I
just...can't be around right now..."

"Who is it?"

Delilah rose from the bed, and Jessica noticed the snow-white wings close in around her.
She paced the length of the room in an unsteady motion, before stopping directly in front
of her, and forcing a chocolate glare her way. "My...boyfriend."

"Oh. You barely spoke about him last night. Did you guys, uhm...have a fight?"

"More like...I yelled at him, for absolutely nothing..."

"Oh." Jessica looked down, unsure she should continue her line of questions into a topic
that obviously brought her great pain. But her curiosity about this wondrous creature
standing before her, and everything she had not told her last night, needed to be satiated.
"What...what's his name?" she asked, as Delilah had precariously avoided mentioning
the dark warrior she loved in almost every question asked of her, in the hour and a half
interrogation by Jessica the previous evening.

Delilah smiled slightly. "Shadow." She slowly edged closer to the bed, arms still
crossed beneath her generous chest. She found Jessica's eyes still peering upon her,
expecting something more than just his name, and she yielded to her longing gaze. "He's
seven feet, four inches tall, has dark, grayish-purple skin, long white hair tied back into a
braid, and has bulging muscles on every single part of his body. He has large spikes on
his shoulders, knees and elbows, spurs on his brow in kind of like a V-shape, and has the
two biggest, blackest wings ever."

Jessica's eyes nearly erupted from her head, as her vivid imagination formed the picture
of the dark warrior, and she found her heart beating in a much faster rhythm. "Whoa.
Sounds scary."

"No, no..." Delilah quickly perched herself back on the bed, to dispute what perhaps her
young friend had pictured her lover to be. "He's...he's the most gentle, caring, tender,
understanding man I've ever met. He's a karate killing machine yeah, but..." Delilah
looked away, her eyes glazing over when her gargoyle love filled her foremost thoughts.
"He plays the flute, he enjoys reading poetry, he always relents to the movie of my
choice, and even though I know he hates it, he still doesn't say a word and watches it
with me. He's always there to listen to my problems..." Delilah turned away, hoping the
hanging strands of white hair flowing over her shoulders, would hide from Jessica's
view, the tears that menaced her eyes. "I love him...so much..."

"Then why did you have a fight?" Jessica asked, without any an idea of what could be
actually be consuming her friend's very soul.

"Because of something that's happened to me..." she whispered in an abraded gasp.
"Because..."

"You don't have to tell me if you don't want to..." Jessica whispered, placing a
diminutive hand on her wing.

"No..." Delilah whirled around, and flicked away the falling tress of ivory shine. "I have
to tell someone. I've kept this in for so long, and I've hurt the man I love because I
couldn't deal with it."

"What?"

"I went to see my doctor, and he told me...that I could never...have children..."

Jessica's eyes went wide, seeing what this spilled secret had done to her friend, taken a
beautiful winged angel and twisted her features into a saddened wreck. It seemed her
pain was almost as great as her own, and now her friend had been reduced to a crying
whelp. "But...what about the future that you told me about?" she squeaked, trying
anything to cheer her spirits, and alleviate her pain. "You said you would have a
daughter..."

"That future is wrong!" Delilah snapped, as the girl jerked back, seeing the crimson glow
of her eyes flare up suddenly. "I don't know why I even told you about it. I'm sterile,
and I'll never have children." She noticed Jessica recoil from her, and sighed. "I'm
sorry, Jessica. I'm so sorry...it's just...it hurts. I was so happy in hearing that Shadow
and I would have a daughter, but when Dr. Pierce came through that door, with that look
on his face...all my dreams were destroyed with a single test result."

"But the future Trinity..."

"Came from an alternative future. My future may not turn out the same."

"But why would she tell you," started Jessica, her mind effectively working though the
amount of information gathered, "if it wasn't possible for you to have children?"

Delilah looked at her young friend, with her eyes pleading, and her mouth gaped.
"I...don't know."

"Maybe she told you about your daughter...so you wouldn't give up. So you would fight
to find a way to finally have children."

Delilah looked stunned, her thoughts racing back to the night when this twenty year old
hybrid from another time appeared before them, and shattered her world with news of a
daughter to be born in her near future. "Maybe..." Delilah muttered, trembling violently,
as a frigid shiver passed through her.

"Maybe...you should go back and talk to Shadow," Jessica spoke softly, "it helps to talk
with people about your pain. I know. My mom and dad helped me, when the doctor told
us I was sick. I wanted to be alone, when I first learned I had cancer, but they helped me,
took some of the pain away. If you say that Shadow is as caring and understanding as
you say, he can help you with your pain."

"How can I face him?" asked Delilah desperately. "How can I tell him that we can never
have children? He'll want nothing to do with me...he'll think I'm just the freak I always
was. A broken doll with mismatched parts."

"No! You're not like that! You're not a freak!" Jessica yelled out, seeing her angel cast
down in pain. "You're beautiful, funny, nice. If Shadow really is the way you described
him, than I know he loves you too, for who you are. He'll understand. It's not your fault
you can't have children, like it's not my fault I have cancer. It...just happens. And we
have to be strong. We can't ever give up..."

Delilah forced a smile through her sorrow, and leaned forward to brush Jessica's cheek
with her hand, and found herself connecting on a level beyond simple friendship.
"You're a very smart little girl, you know that?"

"Thanks." she answered back, before grasping the side of her head, and grimacing due to
a wave of sheer pain surging through her.

"What's wrong?" Delilah asked worriedly.

"Just...another headache...from the cancer..." she replied through the intense anguish,
clenching her eyes shut, and attempting to ride through the migraine with a brave front.

"What the hell are you?!!" an enraged voice rang out, catching the attention of both
young women, causing them both to whirl around to the door. "And what are you doing
to my daughter?!!" It was Jessica's father, standing near the entranceway, eyes burning
with fury in seeing this winged beast perhaps attacking his child in her private room.

"I'm not here to harm her, I promise you," Delilah quickly stood up from the bed and
attempted to calm the man, "I'm a friend."

"Get away from her!! She's suffered enough without having some freak of nature hurting
her!!"

"Daddy, no!" Jessica screamed. "She's my friend!!"

The man pulled a chair from the floor, holding it up in clenched fists as a weapon. His
wife slipped in behind him, gasping in shock at seeing the young cloned gargoyle, slowly
edging towards the window. "Get out!! Now!!" He raised the chair higher to prove his
point, that he would defend his daughter to the bitter end.

"No, please, I'll leave..." Delilah resigned her place, and stepped through the window
frame, passing saddened eyes to the young girl.

"No...Delilah, wait!" she pleaded for her friend to return, but it was already too late.
Delilah had spread her wings and heeded the wind, slipping away from the hospital room,
and the small child's hands. "Please...don't go..."

Her father rushed to her side, and pulled her into his arms. "Are you okay? What did
that...that thing do to you?"

"Nothing. Except make me happy..." she whispered, as she felt her mother's hands
caress her long cinnamon locks.

"But she was one of those...those...gargoyle things..."

"No, daddy...she was my angel."

****************************************

July 14th
Almost three days had passed since Delilah's last trip to the hospital, and she wondered
just how her friend was faring in her desperate fight for life. She wanted so much to see
her, as the pain she constantly carried softened some when in Jessica's presence. She
walked the length of the battlements, a slender shadow bathed in the cerulean light of a
languidly descending crescent moon, filling the entire sky with a perfect semi-circle. She
skipped along the cornice structure, hopping from roost to roost, traveling more than half
the distance of the East wall, and continuing back again in a pensive pace.

A dark specter passed overhead, and Delilah lifted her gaze to a massive winged shape
directing itself to a far turret. Shadow had arrived home from his patrol, and landed with
a resounding thump in front of the door leading into his private chambers. He turned
slowly, as if knowing she was there, across the castle from him, and directed his
unearthly stare to her alone. They locked eyes, until Shadow abruptly swiveled around
and blew through his door in a mad rush, if only to escape from the sight of her.

Delilah's very spirit fell, knowing she had caused him this pain. She balanced on a
granite perch, teetering ominously on the edge of the highest building in the world, and
with just a stray gust, could be pushed into the course of total oblivion. As was her life
now. She felt as if on a precipice, for on one side, lay the torment she was forced to face,
and on the other, the strength of her friends, family and loved ones, those who would
help her. If only she could find the courage to begin the journey.

Delilah immediately jumped into the awaiting hands of the swirling winds, and guided
herself towards the hospital, and her friend. She needed help, and perhaps from only one
person in this world, a young child forced to combat a disease taking hold of her body.
Delilah admired her strength, and wondered just where she found the power to keep the
fight alive, to keep her spirits high, to keep smiling in the very face of death itself.

****************************************

In a spiraled current, she landed, settling her wings and calming her wild hair back into
place. The drapes were open to the sight of her friend, and as Delilah peered in, she
found a disturbing sight. Jessica was lying motionless in her bed, with an I.V. running
into her right arm and a heart monitor clipped to her index finger. Her friend's skin tone
had paled considerably, having turned a frightening white, devoid of any life or vitality.
Delilah pressed herself closer to the glass, barely being able to detect a slight tempo of
the sheets rising and falling due to the labored breathing of her small friend.

She looked around for any sign of her parents, and attempted to pull back the window,
but found it had been locked. Most likely after Jessica's father had discovered the clone
talking with her daughter. With her great gargoyle strength, she forced the window to
slide open, breaking the latch, and stepped in.

She rushed to Jessica's side, her back facing the door leading outside due to the
monitoring equipment on the opposite edge of the bed, and grasped gently onto the
youth's hand. "Hi, Jessica." she whispered serenely, hoping this girl would open her eyes
for her, yet she remained as a corpse. "I'm sorry I've been away for so long, but I didn't
think your parents would want me here. I just needed to see you again. I don't know
what to do anymore..." She brushed away the strands of Jessica's hair clinging to her
small face, and swallowed deeply. "Every time I see him, I can see the pain in his eyes.
Pain that I caused. I don't know...how to tell him...I don't want him to hate me, I don't
want him to stop loving me..." Delilah collapsed onto the bed beside her friend, fighting
back the onslaught of tears threatening to spill from her eyes and onto Jessica's limp
body. "Jessica? Jessica?"

"She may not wake up," a soft tone echoed behind the gargess, "she's been like this for
almost a day now."

Delilah whirled around to see Jessica's mother standing behind her, a steaming cup of
coffee in her hand.

"I just went to get coffee..." she explained, gradually walking closer to the very nervous
clone. "So, you're Delilah..."

"I-I'll leave now..." she whispered, attempting to vacate the room.

"Please stay." the mother said quickly, before the limber female could escape. "Jessica
would appreciate it. She wouldn't stop talking about you after that night."

Delilah turned around to see the older woman pulling a chair to her daughter's side, and
sipping her coffee, all the while never taking her eyes off the bedridden girl. "What's
happened to her?"

"It's the cancer. It's spread, and she's in what the doctors call a deep sleep, almost a
coma." she said mournfully. "They said it's the final stage of her disease, and that
she...may not wake up..."

Delilah advanced closer. "You're not afraid of me?"

"Not anymore. Not after everything Jessica told me about you. Her father and I thought
you were a dangerous...monster, until she convinced us otherwise. She usually has a
vivid imagination, but what she related to us about you and your race, and in such detail,
we knew she wasn't lying."

"She wasn't. Gargoyles are protectors."

"I know that now, and I know you were Jessica's friend."

"She's my friend too." Delilah replied, sitting on the edge of the bed. "She's been
helping me in a...difficult time in my life."

"She has a special ability," said her mother, allowing her a small chuckle, "to take away
your pain...to always make you feel better." The elder woman clicked her eyes to the
gargess, and smiled weakly. "I'm sorry for the other night, my husband didn't mean to
yell at you."

"It's okay. My kind...get that a lot. He was angry and..."

"No, he's not like that. He's a very gentle man, he's just...this is his little princess. She
means the world to him, and he's so protective of her. They have a special bond, and
now, she's dying. And he's having trouble dealing with that...we both are..."

"Where is he?" she asked hesitantly, still slightly afraid of this man who threatened her
very safety in a blind rage to protect his daughter.

"I made him get some sleep. He's been up for more than forty hours, either reading to
her, or sitting by her side."

Delilah looked back at Jessica. "Will she ever...wake up?"

"We don't know. The doctors are sure she may...die in the next couple days..." she
trailed off, choking back her torment, and nearly spilling her coffee in her trembling
hands.

Delilah's bottom lip quivered as she attempted to force her words from a constricted
throat. "I hope...I at least get to say goodbye. She's become...a cherished friend to me."
The clone reached out to stroke her talons across Jessica's arm, grabbing ahold of the
small girls' hand to give her a reassuring squeeze. She flicked her eyes to the brightening
sky outside the window, and knew dawn was approaching soon. "I have to leave..."

Jessica's mother looked up. "Are you sure? I know she would appreciate having you
here."

"My kind has to sleep during the day, we can't really control it." Delilah clarified her
situation. "And my home is kind of far from here. But I promise I'll be back right after
sunset."

"All right."

Delilah flashed a smile, and took off towards the window.

Jessica's mother watched her spread the gleaming ivory wings and soar away, and then
turned her focus to her comatose daughter. She would stay by her side until the sun rose
and took it's rightful place in the sky, without any mind to hide her sweeping tears,
before her husband awakened and joined her to wipe them away with his gentle kiss.

****************************************

July 15th
The warmth of the sun had left a lasting impression upon the air above the city buildings,
as Delilah cast her wings to their farthest reach to increase her speed, heading straight for
the hospital as fast as she could, to check on her young friend's condition. As the
building grew increasingly closer, she hoped she would see Jessica's smiling face and her
glistening eyes, welcoming her presence into her room.

She literally slammed into the building's side, and crawled her way to the window, the
open window. Expecting to see the twelve year old girl, Delilah's smile instantly
disappeared when faced with an empty bed. She tore open the window, and jumped
through, running to the bed's side. The sheets had been replaced, and neatly made up, as
if no one had ever been here. "Oh no..." Delilah gasped, frantically scanning around her
for any trace of Jessica's belongings. Nothing remained, only a barren room, and a
deathly silence. "Oh please no...please..." Delilah was in tears now, fearing the worst.
"Where is she?!"

"Oh...y-you must be...Delilah..."

Delilah turned to see a young nurse having stopped in her tracks when she found the
young gargoyle searching the room. "Where is she?!" she screamed. "Where's
Jessica?!!"

"I'm sorry," the nurse whispered softly, "but Jessica...died this morning."

Delilah's very breath halted in her lungs, and she stumbled backwards to the bed, hitting
the steel railing alongside and ultimately collapsing to the floor. She burst out crying,
stamping her closed fists onto the white tiles. Her wings closed in around her, barely
containing the wailing cries from coursing into the room, echoing upon every wall.
"No...nooooo!! Please, God...she didn't deserve this...she was just a girl!! A beautiful
girl..."

The nurse found herself walking closer and kneeling down to rub a hand soothingly about
her shoulders. "She...she went peacefully," the nurse explained, trying to help the young
clone in her uncontrollable sobbing, "you can take solace in knowing she felt no pain in
her final hours..."

"She was so innocent...so precious..." Delilah continued her heart-broken pleas, coating
the floor around her with her warm tears. "No child deserves to die, especially not
Jessica..."

"She's in a place where she feels no suffering. She's not hurting anymore, she's free of
her cancer now."

Delilah finally directed her tear-stained eyes to the young nurse, who smiled down on
her. "Who...how did you...know my name?"

The nurse stood up and reached to a table where she grabbed a piece of paper, and
treating it like crystal, she gently delivered it into Delilah's hands. "Jessica drew it a
couple days ago."

Delilah looked upon the paper, it was a drawing the young girl had made, a masterpiece
in colorful pencil crayon. There stood Delilah, and Shadow, and a smaller winged girl
with both of their features. "My best friend, Delilah, and Shadow, and," Delilah nearly
broke down again, "...her daughter...Silhouette." Jessica had brought every description
given to her by Delilah about her future offspring, to incredible lifelike accuracy, and the
clone nearly drenched the drawing with her tears.

"Turn it over..." the nurse told her quietly.

Delilah complied, and found a message scrawled in bright purple pencil crayon. "Never
give up hope...oh, Jessica..."

"That's how I knew you," the nurse cut in, "Jessica showed me this just after she had
finished it. She was so proud, proud that she knew a real life gargoyle."

"Y-You know what I am?"

"I'm a member of P.I.T., and I've always wanted to meet a gargoyle as well," she helped
the gargoyle to her feet, "especially one who meant so much to a special little girl."

"I should have been there for her, but I couldn't. Gargoyles...turn to stone in the sun."
Delilah released more tears, cursing her enforced sleep in keeping her from her friend
when she needed her the most. "I couldn't be here..."

"But you were," replied another voice, "you were here in spirit, and Jessica knew that.
Even up to the moment of her death." It was Jessica's mother, appearing through the
doorway, with her husband behind her. "You gave her your friendship, your generosity.
You allowed her to live a dream of meeting a gargoyle. It was you who gave her true
happiness in her last days of life."

"I could have done more to help her, perhaps...gotten her some help...from my friends..."

"She knew she was dying," said her father, in a trembling voice, "she knew she had little
time left, no matter what lies we told her to try and protect her. What she needed most,
was exactly what you gave to her. Laughter, delight, a fantasy come true."

Delilah avoided her eyes to the man, who seemed ashamed of his actions some nights
ago. "I'm so sorry..."

"No. It's me who should be apologizing...to you," he quickly broke through, approaching
her in a quick tread, "for yelling at you, for almost attacking you. I thought you were
hurting her, and now...I know different. It was you who kept her spirit alive. I should be
thanking you, for everything you've done. But," he looked down, his red-tinted eyes
concealed behind his own tears of pain, "I don't know how I can ever apologize to you,
for my words..."

Delilah stretched out her hand and grasped his, pressing tight to his warm flesh, and he
responded in kind. "This...is a start."

****************************************

"I should be going now," said Delilah as she lifted from her chair, "my family
is...probably worried about me, and it's time I told them, told Shadow, about what has
happened to me."

Jessica's mother rose up, along with her husband, to impart their newfound friend with
their farewells, and followed her to the window. "Thank you, for everything you've
done. I'll let you know when the service is, and where Jessica will be buried."

"You have the number to the castle. And I'll be sure to visit."

"We hope so." replied Jessica's father. "Friends?" he asked slyly, holding out his hand,
and watching as Delilah excitedly grabbed it.

"Always."

"There's something else you should know before you go back to Shadow, Delilah,"
Jessica's mother caught her before she could leave, "when we were trying to have
Jessica, the doctors told us we could never conceive, and then, three years later, she was
born." She watched Delilah smile at this news of great optimism. "She was our miracle
child, and I know that you'll find a way to have your own child as well."

"Goodbye, and thanks." The gargess climbed through the window, and with one last
wave of her hand, flew off into the night.

The couple held each other for a very long time, each of them there to help the other in
their pain, their torment of losing their daughter to the hands of death. And they knew,
their baby girl was now looking down upon them, and would live within them for the rest
of their lives.

****************************************

As her new home fell into view, she thanked herself a million times over that her family
was healthy and well. Delilah had cried the entire flight home, arms wrapped around the
drawn picture, clutching it to her chest, a cherished memory of her friend taken from her
life too early. The cornices of Wyvern were a welcome sight, and she increased her pace
to bring herself to their comforting embrace as quickly as possible.

She aimed for the courtyard, and surprisingly, found two figures walking out to greet her.
It was Elisa, and Shadow. She landed, and stood motionless, as her mother and lover
remained a few feet away from her, looking to her with inquiring eyes. Shadow moved
to open his mouth, and perhaps call to her, but never had the chance as Delilah skipped
over and jumped into his arms, wrapping herself around him.

"Delilah?" he asked, worried that his blossom had arrived home in tears. "What has
happened?"

Delilah pulled back and stared at him for a moment, until pressing his lips to his mouth,
and kissing him for all it was worth, suckling on his luscious flavor. She held him there
in her passionate embrace, until she jerked back and left him with a dumbfounded
expression. "I love you."

"And I you." he replied, stunned, and dropping her to the ground. "But what has
happened? Why are you crying?"

"I...lost a friend tonight."

"Who, Delilah?" Elisa stepped forward, and placed a hand to her daughter's shoulder.

"Her name was Jessica, and she was helping me with...something painful, that caused me
to lash out at the man I love." She directed both the statement, and her sorrow filled eyes
to the dark warrior. "I only pushed you away, Shadow, to prevent you from getting hurt."

"I still don't understand." Shadow asked softly, grasping both her hands in his massive
paws. "What has happened?"

"Let's go inside, and I'll tell you both."

****************************************

"...and we vowed to remain friends." Delilah finished up her story, perched on her bed
beside Elisa, with Shadow leaning against the desk across from them. He was silent,
staring down at the carpet, arms crossed, no discernible emotion present on his dark,
etched features. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you earlier, Shadow, that I can't have children. It
was...just too hard."

"Oh, Delilah. I'm so sorry," Elisa soothed her daughter, snaking an arm around her, "but
we'll find an answer. Dr. Pierce is one of the best doctors in the country, especially in
gargoyle physiology. If anyone can help you, it's him."

Delilah nodded, still staring at her speechless boyfriend. "Shadow?" she called out,
fearing his reaction. "Shadow, please say something..."

He pushed himself from the desk and stepped close to his love. "You are a stubborn
woman, Delilah Maza," he growled, and she now dreaded hearing what she had so
feared, that he would perhaps be angry with her, or leave her, "just like your mother."
Shadow fell to one knee, and grasped both hands to each side of her face, pulling her
close to him, forcing her to stare into the glimmering pools of mahogany fire. "Do you
actually think I would ever leave you just because you are unable to carry children? I
love you, for who you are, and that will never change. Ever. And I will continue loving
you until I take my last breath. Do you hear me?" Delilah simply nodded, and fell into
Shadow's arms. He pulled her to his muscular chest, and whispered into her ear, "I never
had any idea you were thinking of children at this point in our relationship, but I know it
means a great deal to you. And I promise, that you will see a child of our blood, to raise
and care for. Trust in your friends to find a way. Trust in the doctors and their medical
skills. Trust in our love, and know we shall make it through anything that can be thrown
against us."

"I love you, Shadow." she squeaked, buried in the breadth of his arms.

"I love you, my blossom. Come, it's almost dawn, and we need to sleep. It has been a
long night, for you especially." Shadow tried to lead her from the room, yet she stopped
and turned back to Elisa.

"Elisa? The picture Jessica drew for me...could you, uh..."

"I'll have it framed today, and we'll find a place to hang it in your room tonight." Elisa
quickly answered, picking the drawing from the bed, and taking another look at her
daughter's friend's artistic skill.

"Thank you."

"Goodnight, Delilah. I love you, kiddo."

Delilah smiled, her eyes, though rimmed with dark patches beneath, still were an exact
duplicate of her mother's own wondrous gaze. She held to Shadow's arm, as they headed
for the battlements.

****************************************

"How do you feel, my blossom?" asked Shadow, as he took to his perch, watching the
platinum haired clone hop beside him, deciding today to share his place of sleep.

"Okay..." she whispered, and turned away from him, as if hearing something.

"What is it?"

Delilah looked around her, a peculiar noise setting upon her great sense of hearing. A
voice was calling to her, light, cheerful, and very familiar. Delilah looked into the
courtyard, and upon the lush grass, a form appeared before her. Light brown hair, and a
lithe figure in a flowing white dress, skipping along the soft earth in a merry gait, taking
pleasure in her toes grazing across the emerald grass. Delilah smiled, and she gazed
upon her small friend playing near the massive oak tree. "Jessica."

Shadow looked up, and gasped, in seeing a child, almost translucent, looking at him with
large eyes of a glowing Prussian blue.

The young girl smiled, and waved to the couple. From her back, a pair of white wings
blossomed out and opened into an impressive span, allowing a few feathers to descend to
the ground. With a wink of her eye, she faded away to nothing, leaving only a haunting
trace of her bubbling laughter, carried on the Summer wind.

"Delilah," Shadow whispered to his love, "who...who was that?"

"Jessica. She's my friend, and she's finally at peace." The sun rose, encasing them
together in stone, and a single tear traveled down Delilah's statue. A tear of prospect, a
tear of bliss, and in her dreams, she played joyfully with her young friend, who gave
more to her than she could ever imagine...hope.