She held the rifle steady for him. He was barely conscious, propped against the unforgiving stone, unable to feel his legs.
She was leaning back on his chest, and felt each of his shallow breaths giving way to a slump. He could feel her warmth rapidly fading.
The entire world seemed to be turning red—the burning palace, the sky, the stars, even the light in the sky sweeping the ground.
The light in the sky, approaching.
“I always thought it would end like this,” she said with a tinge of regret. “I always feared it would end.”
“We will go on forever,” he whispered warmly into her ear. She felt a smile with those words, and that was more than enough.
He used his fading strength to pull open the bolt. She pushed a clip into the top of the rifle, chambering the first round.
The light in the distance grew brighter, quickly drowning out the stars in the night sky. The deathly whisper of the reactor grew into a dull roar.
She could feel the pool of blood beneath their collapsing bodies. He could feel her summoning the last of her strength.
He glanced down and noticed the glittering blue sequins of her ball dress. She inhaled deeply, taking in his smell: blood, medicine, and cordite.
He felt her body getting closer to his, slowing her breathing and steadying her heart rate. She welcomed the warm grip of his right hand over her left hand; steadying the barrel.
He closed one eye and stared through the cold iron sight, reluctantly tightening his finger on the trigger. She matched her heartbeat with his, stopping time.
They held their breath one last time, and knew in their hearts that it would never end.