She spent the better part of three years doing nothing more than trying to wake up. Abandoned by everyone, everything she’d known, left to gather dust in the institute, the AI her only companion, and it only answered the necessary questions. It mended her, let her mend herself, where the things behind her eyes crawled, bled, wept. It fed and watered her, kept her from starving. Kept her from dying. Kept her.
When she peeled tubes from her arms, plucking needles from her skin like errant feathers, she stared around with blurred eyes, teeth set in a grimace that felt strange, if only because any expression felt strange on her long-unused features.
She staggered around, showered, dressed, marveling at the quiet, until she walked out of the medlabs and into the hallways.
The hallway itself existed, but only barely — the further she got from the medlab, the more things had been sundered, as though she were in some kind of soap bubble of the past, finally popped.
When she walked out into the world, and saw the sunset sky, the wide, wide open full of smoke, the everything around her fallen to tumbledown anarchy, her breath was caught and held, as if in another’s fist, and the one familiar thing that could never leave kicked up in a distressed whine around her, the telekinetic pressure the same fractalled hum it always was.
(I remember the names and faces, I haven’t forgotten; I can’t forget)
In the distance, she saw the fires, the blazes on the edge of vision, and as much as her heart broke to imagine what humanity had come to, it leapt to know he could still be there. Gloves off, eyes wide, but still. Alive.
(I remember the times and places, I haven’t forgotten; I’ll never forget)
She ran for the horizon, hope in her throat, his name on her lips, hands reaching, as though she could reach him, span the distance from her heart to his with outstretched fingertips.