He can feel the poison coursing through his veins. Each breath felt wetter and wetter. His own body was betraying him. He didn’t know how to feel about it.
In the grand scheme of things he feels relieved. He was at least able to save the kids from that scorpion faunus and get them to safety. He's just irritated that it took him his life to do it. He had things to do, people to see; y'know, the usual.
He just doesn’t know if he should tell his daughter now or later.
Leaning against the tree by the fire one of the kids made - they were pretty handy even if they were alone before he came along - Qrow just laid there. He didn’t really have the energy for much more than that. Until they all started asking him questions about stuff.
Then he had to talk. Not even the whiskey had been able to dull the pain that he felt. That was bad considering it had been the highest shelf liquor possible too. But now his flask was dry, his side was throbbing, and his mind was, not really addled, but fractured in some way.
Then Ruby had asked a question and his thoughts had gone berserk.
“Why couldn’t you trust me?”
Even after telling them it was a long story he had sat back down and told them. Told them that some people were born unlucky and that he was just a bad luck charm that hurt people wherever he went. That was why he hadn’t been traveling with them.
Then Ruby had asked if there was anything else he’d like to tell them and Qrow just shook his head and said not right now before walking off. Where he was walking, he didn’t know. He just walked. The slice on his abdomen was burning with every step he took and he knew it was bad. Worse than what he had been hurt before on a job. This was bad.
Staggering back to sit against the tree Qrow felt the bubble of liquid slide up until he the urge to cough was overwhelming. So he did. Again and again. Nothing came up but he could feel it. It was there, just waiting to come up and choke him.
He dug through his pockets for paper at least, he knew he had a pen. He should probably just tell her, Ozpin was right. She was old enough to understand why he did. But call him scared or a coward he couldn’t stand to see the look of disappointment on her face. So much like her mother she was. A spitfire. And short to boot.
He chuckled at that thought and coughed, the first of many, bringing up purple liquid that he quickly scrubbed into the dirt. Didn’t need to frighten the kids yet. Maybe when he got worse.
Finding the pen he had grabbed from Ozpin’s desk on accident he uncapped it and started writing, the letters bleeding into each other in his haste and he made the conscious effort to slow down. He had to make it legible after all.
“Dear Kiddo, I don’t know how to tell you this but I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I kept this from you for so long but I just didn’t know how to tell you. I never wanted to hurt you, kid. At first it was easy to tell myself I was doing it because of my semblance, that I was doing it to keep you safe and out of harm’s way. If you were known as my daughter then anything could happen. You would be fair game. As it stands now you’re still fair game but for being Summer’s child and not mine.
Now I can’t lie to myself or to you anymore. I have to tell you. I’m your father Ruby. Summer and I got married two years after graduating Beacon ourselves. Your dad and Raven following soon after, Yang on the way a year after that. We, the four of us I mean, built the house that you and Yang grew up in. Summer and I would baby-sit her when Tai wanted to take Raven on dates.
I’m sorry that I waited fifteen years to come clean. I know you’ll have questions and I don’t know if I’ll be able to answer them so I’ll try to answer a few.
Summer and I had you two years after Tai and Raven had Yang. We didn’t want our kids to have too much of an age gap. Playmates were important.
Summer died after she took over one of my missions. I had gotten banged up pretty good from my last one and someone needed to go. She wasn’t able to use her silver eyes in time. I’m sorry kiddo. I miss her too. Her cookies were to die for.
I promise this isn’t all one big joke. Tai knows. I used to write you letters just like this one before every mission. Y’know the old trunk in the attic that never had a key. Ask your dad for the necklace he wears. When you read them though, just remember I’m sorry in advance.
Your mom would be proud of you. I am proud of you even when you called me uncle. I’m still proud of the girl young lady that I have witnessed grow up before me. The one who isn’t afraid to take charge and be herself though everyone around her is following a different path.
I know that there’ll be more questions than answers. I don’t know if I’ll be able to answer them all. But I love you kiddo, now and always. Watching you grow up into what you are today has been the single greatest joy in my life.
Qrow capped the pen and tried to slide it back into his pocket but his fingers fumbled as he did so. Dropping it next to him he knew that he couldn’t hold out for much longer. Looking at the tree and willing his semblance to actually work this time he smiled tiredly when the branch snapped and dropped to the ground. His eyes closed and he knew nothing more.