Fade To Black Chapter 12
"Mmmmm. . ."
"Terra? Are you awake?"
The man who had addressed the esper girl grew worried and waved a tube of smelly salts before her exfoliated nose. She awoke with a start.
"Oh, terrific! You're up!" the man cheered, quickly pocketing the tube before she knew what transpired.
Terra found herself in the ever-familiar cabin of the Falcon, and when she overheard the soothing hum of the airship's engines, she knew she was in good hands.
"Setzer!" she cried, reaching out to hug him, then recoiling from a pain that was felt all over.
"You might wanna take it easy for a while," he said, ever-so-lightly laying her delicate body back on her bed. "You have a very serious sunburn."
Terra reached back out to him and managed to grasp his arm.
"Don't leave me, Setzer. Stay here! I don't want to go to sleep!"
He took her hand and planted a kiss on it. She smiled, unable to tell him what a relief it was to see him again.
"I'll send someone to be with you very shortly. For now, I must get back to piloting the ship.
"What time of day is it?" she requested of him before he exited entirely.
"It's late in the evening, around nine. December 28th, I believe."
Terra never recalled how long she had been asleep, but it was an irrelevant question to ponder. The rest was just what her aching body needed. When she did awake, she looked to the doorway and found her long-lost savior.
"Ya thirsty?" he asked, holding a class of water in his hand.
"Locke?! Is that really you?"
"Who else smuggled you out of Narshe some six years back?"
She was confused, however, as to why he was all wrapped up and leaning to his left on a cane. His right arm was in a sling and even through all the bandages, blood was still trying to withdraw from his left leg in two places as well as his thigh. Not caring about any of it, she grabbed him and hugged him, weeping happily in his arms.
"Hey, take it easy," he said lightheartedly, flinching noticably from the way she held him. "You have a bad sunburn there."
"I thought I'd never see you again," she whined, rubbing his sides to try and make him feel better. "I've missed you so much."
"The feeling's more than mutual, I assure you. Here, drink this."
She never even remembered how thirsty she was and chugged the glass of water down relentlessly. Then, she thought of Clyde.
"How's Clyde doing? Is he okay?"
"Clyde's good. He's asleep down on the poker table but he's doing better than he was yesterday."
"Have you. . .heard from Celes lately?" Terra deplored, disdaining the horrid images from back at Thamasa.
"Look, the only Returners left in the World of Balance are those on this ship and Cyan. That's it," he clarified to her with a tone of finality.
She nodded appreciatively. Locke didn't know how right he was.
"Does it hurt?" he murmured into her ear, applying a white lotion to Terra's bare back that was a bright crimson.
"No. It's just cold, that's all."
"Plain yogurt," he stated, wiping his hands off with an old bandana at his side. "It's been known to soothe a sunburn."
Holding the bedsheet close to her chest, Terra shifted her position on the bed to face him. She always felt safe when he was around. She could never figure out why.
"Banon taught you a lot of things, hasn't he?"
"Well, Setzer was right about the part of me knowing the tricks of the trade. That's all I'm good for."
"What are you talking about? You looked after me even though you never had to. You're the best person in the world to me."
Locke blushed, his face the likeness of Terra's sunburn, then grimaced at the foot of Terra's bed. How could he have gone flush in front of the one he had known for such a long time?
"I have something for you," were his choice of words once the scarlet tint of his face faded.
"Oh Locke, you didn't have to get me anything," she said thankfully as she saw the treasure hunter produce a small package from the cabinet at her bedside. "What did you get me?"
It was a gift-wrapped package encased in all the colors of Christmas. She tore into it, feeling like she was five years old all over again. A small oak box was what she found and within was the glitter of gemstones. In her hands was a set of rosary beads encrusted with countless emeralds and sapphires. The cross was an immaculate diamond that sparked by the glow of the kerosene light.
Locke gestured toward the crucifix above all else.
"This is the man that will see us through our darkest hour."
She held the crystal in her hands lovingly, never wanting to let it go.
"You're so sweet, Locke," she said, planting a kiss upon the gem in her hands. "Thank-you."
"Merry Christmas, Terra," he spoke congenially.
"Merry Christmas, Locke," she returned, caressing his cheek.
Wrapped in her bedsheet with the rosary beads around her neck, Terra was escorted out into the main chamber of the Falcon with the help of Locke. What she saw caused her nerves to buckle. Instead of a welcoming crowd of Returners, there were scores of survivors wrapped in bandages, much like her escort.
Some were crying, others were preaching upon their own rosary beads. The rest were just making due with the pain that threatened to take their sanity. These were the ones who suffered lost limbs, cranial hemorrhaging, and massive bleeding that lopped onto the ship's deck. Even through the disarray of all their clothing, Terra could tell that these people were from different corners of the world.
"Are these the only people left alive?" Terra asked, following Locke upstairs to the deck of the Falcon.
"Probably not," Locke told her in all honesty, then signaled out beyond the railing of the airship. "But as you can see, there's not much hope that anyone else has."
All throughout the world beneath them was a burning a wasteland, wound tight with hordes of undead Shadow soldiers. Their cries audible even at this height, slashing the tranquility of the cool night air. It wasn't long after that Locke's motioning that tongues of fire rained down from the heavens. How cruel these biblical images were becoming to her, but they were true nonetheless.
"How could we have let this happened?" she said, holding Locke close to her.
The answer came in the form of footsteps, but not of their own. The two of them turned and saw Setzer Gabianni join them. He, just as everybody else, had lost much through the unholy war that had been waged through Rivalin. For that reason, his own rosary beads were turned to each and every time he set foot on the deck which rightfully belonged to his beloved.
"No news is good news," he said to them both, then hung his head over the guardrail, preoccupied with his feelings of the coming Apocalypse.
"It's so empty," Terra complained, taken aback to the freedom she felt upon the defeat of Kefka.
"I know," Locke replied. "It'll be okay."
"Why did you have to be such a wonderful person?" she sobbed, holding him so tight that Death himself would not be strong enough to take him away from her.
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