Terra: Part II Chapter 9

By Mintbaby

Terra hurried down the stairs and nearly ran into Edgar on his way up. Concern flashed in his eyes as he steadied her with his hands placed gently around her waist.

“What is troubling you?” Edgar asked.

“Strago… He’s coughing up blood. Edgar, hurry for the doctor.”

Edgar nodded and turned to hurry away, slamming out of the house as Terra rushed back upstairs.

* * *

Relm could sense something was wrong when she and Shadow-- her father returned a couple of hours later. Her step faltered and his grip on her hand tightened slightly. “Something’s wrong,” she said in a faint whisper.

“Yes, I noticed it too.” He waited for her to take a step forward and, when she still hesitated, he changed his calm gaze to her. She was still staring at the house. “He has been sick for a while. You knew he was dying.”

She nodded, barely, her teeth absently gnawing on her lower lip. “Yeah. I knew.”

“You will want to say good-bye.”

Relm nodded again, dread settling firmly in the pit of her stomach like a magicite shard the like of which she’d never seen. “I know.”

“He’ll want to see you.”

Her stomach lurched and she took a faltering step backward. Her father’s hand kept her from turning and fleeing back the way they’d come. Her grandfather had been her entire life. Someone she thought would always be there to be a pain in her backside. The conscience that she always ignored. The common sense she tried to live without. No, he couldn’t die now. Not when they finally had a chance to be a family.

Relm turned an agony darkened gaze to her father. “Not now. It’s not fair. We were just…” Her voice was swallowed by the tears that lurched into place.

“We were just a family?” Relm silently nodded, tears making her emerald eyes gemlike. Her father held that gaze for a long moment, pain twisting the scars at the corners of his eyes. “Your absence will not keep him from dying, Relm. You will only hurt an old man who has loved you as much as was possible.”

Her voice fought its way through the misery and broke through in a choked squeak. “He survived Kefka’s Tower. He survived the Fanatic’s Tower. How can he die now?”

Clyde caressed a tear from her cheek, his grip tightening gently on her hand still in his. “He can die now because he knows you will be safe.”

Relm turned her frightened eyes back to the house. She’d never faced death this close to her before. It had always been someone else. Locke and Rachel. Edgar and Sabin and their father. Setzer and Darryl. “I… I don’t want to see him die. Not him. Anyone but him.”

He brushed a curl of hair from her temple and tenderly guided her forward. She didn’t resist. “Come, Relm. Terra and Edgar are there, so you won’t be alone. It is best to be surrounded by those we love when Death approaches.”

Her hand squeezed his so hard that her fingers began to hurt with the effort.

The two silently progressed up the stairs, pausing on the landing to allow the rumpled, drenched, and flustered doctor room to pass. He fled from sight muttering something about crazy men and mismanaged abilities that could have been used for the greater good. The distraction gave Relm enough time to scramble for her courage before moving further in, climbing the stairs that yet dripped with the Lore used on the abused town doctor. Strago was in a corner bed, his hands clutching the covers as Terra continued to dab a cool and damp rag across his forehead. She and Edgar saw Relm and her father enter the room at the same moment.

Edgar approached them, his normally bright blue eyes nearly charcoal with deep-seeded sadness. “Terra has given him something for the pain, but… It is but a matter of time. Very little, I’m afraid.”

“Eh? Is that Relm?” Strago’s weakened voice sounded from the corner of the room, persisting even when Terra urged him to save his strength. “Come over here, Relm. I need to speak to you.”

Relm’s grip on Clyde’s hand tightened, if possible, and she made her way to her grandfather’s side. Her father stood just behind her. Strago looked at both of them with a tender smile and Relm slowly sat on the side of the bed. There was a slight tinge of red in his beard.

Relm took in a deep breath, released her father’s hand, and forced a scowl on her face. “Are you still acting sick? Well I like that. Terra and Edgar visit for the first time in months, my dad shows up after who knows how many years, and you’re in bed with a cold.”

Strago hacked out a laugh, quickly covering his mouth with a kerchief to hide the splattering of blood. Relm barely withheld a cringe.

Strago reached out to take her hand, weakly patting it as his eyes twinkled at her. “I’ll be all right in the morning, dear, don’t you worry about that.”

Relm swallowed back a sob and then finally spoke in an uneven voice. “Yeah, that’s what you always say. Just don’t expect me to make you breakfast in bed.”

“No special treatment for me,” he told her. “You save that for your father.” He changed his gaze to Clyde. “You do right by her.”

“I will, Strago. I will.”

A sniff slipped through Relm’s crumbling façade of courageous anger and she fell forward, engulfing her grandfather in her arms with a sob. “Don’t die, Grandpa. I love you…”

Strago closed his eyes with a slight smile and brought his arms around her. “And I love you, you little dear.”

The arms slackened and Relm’s sobs deepened as Clyde sat down behind her to gently pull her into a comforting embrace.


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