With weary bags under her eyes, Amelia anxiously awaited by the bedside in the sterile hospital room. Helplessly she clutched the hand of the bed's occupant, her husband. They have had to go to the hospital a couple of times in the past, but it seemed far worse this time and she was quite worried now. The two were alone, their children and grandchildren having left already and the only noises to break the eerie silence were the steady beeping of the machines and Delbert's own haggard breathing.
The click of a door handle turning behind Mrs. Doppler interrupted the sterile sounds of the room. Facing the door, she saw the slouching form of a lab coat enter; an old friend. Dr. Eleanor Gray had long since retired from her naval work since an incident took the lower half of her left leg from her. Refusing to stop working, she took up hospital work and had grown used to the calmer atmosphere over time. She looked just as exhausted as Amelia did, but silently beckoned the felinid to join her out in the hallway.
Amelia looked back to her husband for a moment before she got up and followed the faint clack of the doctor's cane. "Eleanor
please tell me that you have good news. Tell me that Delbert will be ok." She looked to her friend desperately.
The mute doctor sighed and solemnly shook her head. She had known Amelia since the former Admiral's navy days and her husband since the two got married. They had been quite helpful when she was adapting to civilian life after her injury and had been the family's doctor ever since.
The initial shock hit her like a shot from a plasma cannon and it certainly showed on her face. Amelia stiffened and was silent for quite some time, composing herself enough with the business-like manner she had always possessed while on duty. But this time the mask was for entirely different reasons. "How long does he have?"
Dr. Gray took out her trademark notepad and leaned against the wall so that she was able to use both her hands to scribble the somber message. 'It would be a miracle if he lasts until sunrise.' She gently squeezed her friend's shoulder in condolence as she gave it to her.
Amelia stared at the simple page for what felt like hours. No
. it couldn't be true. It just, couldn't. It didn't seem real. She knew that death would come to them one day, but she never fully realized what it would mean. That he would be gone. And now, so little time. She looked back at the familiar face, as worn as hers and found the Macropodian giving a slight nod towards the room, stepping back. Amelia took a deep breath, catching the hint. Of course. Now wasn't the time to wallow in future grief. She needed to use what time she had to not waste her husband's last moments. Gathering up as much strength as she possibly could, she re-entered the small room. "Delbert?" She quietly returned to his bed-side.
The retired astrophysicist turned his head and weakly smiled at his wife. "Oh, Amelia." His voice was a hoarse ghost of its former self. "I was beginning to wonder where you had gone to."
"That doesn't matter dear, it's not important." She grasped his hand, not fully realizing how tightly she clutched her lifeline.
The action didn't escape the canid's notice. "I'm so sorry, love." Shaking, he raised a hand to wipe the tear that Amelia hadn't realized was rolling down her left cheek. She supported its weight there, holding it against her soft and wrinkled skin. "I just wish that our roles were reversed. I had spent the majority of my life preparing for the possibility that the next morning might find me answering a door to two uniformed officers holding a folded flag." He continued before Amelia could interrupt to reassure him of how slim that would have been. "Nonetheless, I mentally prepared myself with having to face that. For you to be the one to actually endure having to move on when I-" He forcefully coughed to an extent that alarmed his poor wife. "I have braced myself for it longer
it's not fair."
By this point, Amelia herself was trembling as she fought to hold back her tears. Of all the challenges she's faced over the years, she had never lost her composure. But Delbert was different. She could never hide herself from him, especially when he was being so typically sweet. Even as he lay dying he spent his time comforting her. His last moments were about her and nobody else, not even himself. Interrupting her thoughts was a low growl. Opening her eyes, she saw to her horror her husband lying on his side and gripping his abdomen with his free hand. In pain. "Delbert!" She quickly made a move to hit the call button to summon medical assistance.
"A-Amelia, w-w-wait." Delbert panted through his pain and reached out to his wife, and held onto her until the wave subsided. "Please
. Don't go."
"You need to rest." She bent down to kiss him gently on the lips. As she did so, she felt a familiar tug on her arm. Not needing any other hint, she carelessly kicked off her shoes and climbed into the bed, snuggling into her husband's arms for what they both knew to be the last time.
"Amelia, you know I am most at ease with you in my arms." He brought her close to him despite the tubes and wires attached to him. They found a way. They always did. There were no further words said between them. It wasn't needed. Over the years they had found that they had said everything they could ever need to say to one another. All that was required now was comfort, reassurance, true embodiment of their love for one another. None of that needed to be ruined by redundancy of sound as they lay against one another.
Suddenly a loud, shrill noise woke Amelia from her slumber. Groggily she looked at her watch. It was three hours later than she remembered, when did she fall asleep? But something wasn't right. Something felt inherently wrong. Cold. She felt cold. That's what was wrong. But why would she be c- The agony of the situation cruelly came to her. She wasn't the one who was cold. "Delbert?" She shook her husband gently, but no response came from the man. He wasn't moving, not even a steady rising and falling of his chest. "D-Delbert?" She felt herself forcefully pulled from his side. No! It can't be! She wasn't ready! She struggled against her captor anxiously trying to return to her husband. But while she was a former admiral in the Imperial Navy, she had aged significantly and was fighting a losing battle. It should be mentioned however that she was giving her kidnapper a difficult time. Amelia kept calling out Delbert's name as she helplessly watched a swarm of doctors do their best to revive him. But after five attempts to restart her husband's heart, he remained fatally motionless.
"Call it." One of the doctors ordered a nurse who then checked her watch.
"NO! Why are you stopping? You cannot just give up on him!" In desperation she lashed out on her abductor, kicking at the leg. What she didn't count on was the determination of her guard. Amelia heard a hiss of pain in her ear, but she was dragged to the ground as well. She saw one of the doctors whirl around.
"Dr. Gray! Are you alright?"
What? Eleanor? She turned her head to find that her captor was none other than her good friend. So many things were happening all at once. The doctors were turning off machines, she heard nurses murmuring to themselves, Eleanor was struggling to stand but resigned herself to sit for now waving the others away from the room. She couldn't truly focus on any other occurrence besides the only one that mattered. Delbert, her husband, father of her children, comforter, caretaker, the only person she could truly be herself around wholly and completely, was gone. Forever. He wasn't ever coming back no matter how badly she wanted him to. For the first time in as long as she could remember, she found herself completely broken. Not even Arrow's loss could compare to this, besides even then she had Delbert to comfort her. She never felt as alone as she did now.
She found arms warmly wrapped around her as she sobbed, rocking her back and forth as if she were a small child. For a second Amelia thought it was Delbert helping her through everything she had ever been through. No
THEY had been though. Together. There was never a time when she was without her loving husband, even when she was out on the Etherium. She always felt him thinking about her just as she thought about him. Was this really any different? Even if they weren't physically together, they were forever joined in spirit. They bore a bond that survived everything that the universe threw at them, even death itself. She would always return to him, no matter how long it took her. No matter how many obstacles she faced, she never let herself give up and certainly never let herself waste time by pitying herself. What good would that do? That would only upset Delbert really. All he wanted was for her to take care of herself until he was able to personally lift her burdens once more. And that's exactly what she was going to do. She had no idea how long it was going to take, but she will see Delbert again. And this time, in a place where neither of them would have to leave each other's side for the rest of eternity. That promise will keep her going. Delbert will be what will keep her going.
"Until we meet again my love."