Neena had been pacing back and forth through her apartment, now and then sitting down, taking her guns apart and cleaning them before going right back to pacing. Something wasn’t right. Nate was supposed to be back by now, from whatever he’d been off doing, but he hadn’t even so much as given her a call, and when she tried contacting him, she got a big fat nothing.
Loud footsteps shook her from her worrying, and when she swung the door open, he practically fell into her arms. Metal. Cold metal on her skin. He’d almost fully turned metal, his skin, his voice, even his eyes. Her heart took a few enormous leaps before settling for pounding in her throat.
“Nate?! Oh god Nathan, talk to me. What the hell happened?!”
She’d known him for so long, she’d half gotten used to his techno-organic virus. But she’d be damned if she knew how to make sure it wouldn’t kill him…
Nathan stumbled forward into the room, leaning against the wall to keep him from collapsing. He took shallow, ragged breaths that sounded like metal scraping against metal. Every couple of breaths he would break into a wheezing cough that would practically double him over.
The thought that this might be it flitted across his mind before he realised that she was there with him. Neena. He looked at her through eyes glassed over with metal and grinned in relief.
He doubled over again, letting out a hacking cough. His legs shook and almost gave way under the sheer weight of him and he leaned more and more on the wall, sliding down ever so slightly.
”Got… kaff… got stupid, Neena… let it out… can’t… can’t stop…”
He could feel the edges of his mind flickering, closing in. The corners of his vision blackened as he focused on her face. He reached out a hand, cupping her jaw gently.
Neena held him in her arms, her face as stoic as it would be when she was on the job, only her eyes betraying the emotions that raged inside her. Her fingers brushed his metallic cheek and she even managed to put up a smile for him as he cupped her jaw.
“Shuddup, Nate. You’re gonna be fine. You always are. …You have to be.”
She attempted to squeeze the upper arm on his formerly good side, but flinched away a little as she discovered it was as rigid as the other arm had always been.
Her voice trailed off and she clenched her hands to fists, trying to think of a solution for an obviously urgent situation.
“What do I do?!”
He tried to keep his eyes open and focused on her face, but the blackness at corner of his vision creeped in just that little bit further. He almost smiled, his metal lips curling at the corners as he felt her fingers brush against his cheek. She felt a mile away even though she was right there. She was with him. She could help him.
A raking cough tore through his throat and chest, interrupting him. It sounded like a car being crushed.
”Need to burn off the infection… kaff… give the virus… something to feed on.”
He’d come close to succumbing to the virus before in the past, but he’d never come this close. Maybe this was it. His final curtain.
But he wasn’t going out without a fight.