Bountiful stared at the still body in the casket; long eye lashes, clear tannish skin, a round face, light almond hair in a pixie cut with dyed in streaks of violet to show off that she was a teenager… The gargoyle clenched his fists, his dark purple knuckles turning lilac as his body trembled in rage; why her?
His dark eyes rimmed with tears behind his long bangs; he had taken her in before anyone else, raised her as his own, and made a bond that was almost as strong as the one with his mate… why has this all gone so wrong?
He could remember when she was tiny and so defenseless… a mere new born infant who was left alone in the world when her parents were taken away in the flames of a fire, and she being the only survivor by some unknown fate.
No one wanted her.
Family, the towns' folk, no one. He and the entire clan took pity and decided to take her in until foster care found her a family; the process took months, even years until children were brought into a family.
He let out a sad chuckle, remembering when she tried giving him a present on Christmas:
"Bouniful! Bouniful!" she called excitedly, her little overalls sagging on her scrawny toddler legs, her hands holding a heart shaped object.
Bountiful silently waited as she tripped and then scrambled back to her feet and ran to him, holding the heart shaped object out to him and giving him a missing tooth grin, "Mary Chrismas!"
He knelt down to her eye level; even on his knees he towered over the five year old, her hair tied in pigtails that dangled above her shoulders. Taking the heart, he saw that it was a little slab of sheet rock with everyone's names spelled in correctly and etched in five year old hand writing.
Her grey eyes saddened at his unchanging expression, "You don't like it?"
Bountiful smirked and tousled her hair, "Thanks kiddo. Merry Christmas to you too"
She blinked and then giggled, throwing her tiny arms around his neck and hugging him.
Tears fell from his eyes; never again would she laugh, or smile, and he would never receive her tiny embraces.
All of that was gone.
Bethany never even found love, never even got to grow up all the way; the girl had only lived to be twelve years old… and it was his fault.
When Bethany was seven, she was finally adopted into a family in New York, thinking that she had done something wrong and that she was being sent away as punishment.
That night was like a scar that would never fade in his heart; she was crying that night.
"I promise I'll be better! I'm sorry if I did anything wrong, please don't send me away!" she wailed, her arms reaching for the clan as they all held back their own tears.
"B-beth, you never did anything wrong…" Provo had said, his voice cracking, "You'll be better off and you'll have a mom and dad."
"I don't want a mommy and daddy!" she cried, the foster care officials practically dragging her to their van now, "I want to be with you!"
"I know sweetie" Dinan, his mate had begun to sob, "W-we just want what's best for you"
Al had said nothing, but her eyes were filled with pain as the child was taken away.
Finally, as she was shoved into the van, Bethany screamed with tears running down her cheeks, "BOUNTIFUL! BOUNTIFUL!"
Why didn't he listen? Why didn't he hop off of the roof that he was watching from and swoop down and save her and sooth her and promise never to let her go?
Why did he leave her feeling alone and scared, and unwanted?
Bountiful cried; and now, five years after that say, she returned to visit the clan with the permission of her foster parents.
He had seen her that night. Standing tall and looking at everything in the town longingly as she headed to the clan's cave in the mountain.
For a while he had followed her by the skies and by rooftops, but he was caught off guard when he heard her chuckle and turn, looking up at him and say happily, "It's great to see you again Bountiful… I missed you and the clan… I still do."
For a while he just sat there on his rooftop perch in shock; after all this time she still remembered! And here she was, grown up and well, pigtail-less.
"Bethany…" he had murmured.
Then, a drunk driver drove down the road, heading into the side walk and in Bethany's direction.
"BETHANY!" he had roared, flinging himself off of the roof and reaching for her…
He was so close.
She was right there.
Why hadn't she been saved?!
Her scream pierced the night air and her bones were crushed by the impact of the truck as it turned and squished her body into the cement, her grey eyes staring blankly as he quickly landed beside her, cupping her bloody head in his large hand, his talons dripping with her blood.
"Bethany…" he choked, "BETHANY!"
Her body was mangled and broken, blood covering her cloths and backpack, streams of it running down her face and body from open wounds.
"I'm sorry… I'm so sorry…" Bountiful began to sob, "Just please don't let me lose you again! I let you go that night, and I-"he put a hand over his eyes, tears dripping trough his talons, "Beth I'm so sorry. Please come back!"
Of course she won't come back… she's gone forever. She died alone, scared and remorseful… all because of him.
Even now, in the casket, her skin looked bruised and her bones formed lumps in her skin… he would never forget the night she died… he would never forget how he let her die. He would never forgive himself for leaving Bethany alone to die.
'I love you…' he thought, wiping streams of tears away, 'I know I never got to tell you Bethany, but I have always loved you. But you died never knowing that.'
"Yes I do." came a voice.
He spun around, seeing her standing there in white, and looking as he had seen her before she was taken from him that night all those years ago; tiny and little, and with her little pigtails flopping down by her tiny shoulders.
"B-Beth?!" he stared at her, a soft light glowing around her as she smiled up at him, hugging his legs.
"I love you too Bountiful! I knew it, I knew you did!" she said her voice as tiny and light as he remembered.
Looking up she grinned the familiar missing tooth grin, "You remembered me like this, so I came back to you like this…"
He swiftly bent down and hugged her in his arms, folding his wings around them, feeling like she was real but knowing too well that it was only her spirit he embraced, "I love you Bethany."
She hugged his neck, and softly pecked his cheek, "I love you too daddy."
And just like that, he burst out of his stone shell, gasping for air and finding that the casket was gone; he had fallen asleep in the morgue.
"But…" he whispered, "If that was a dream…"
A small smile passed over his face, feeling his heart lighten again; she knew and now she could be happy and rest in peace.
"Good bye Beth." He said, going to the nearest window and gliding out into the night air, knowing full well that she was laughing as she always did when he glided where ever she was.