Author’s Note: And the story was always coming to this point…
Tynan rose, looking over at the guard. “Does it rain on this planet? I am not certain where I am, but I do know that if it rains, I would like to know.”
“Why does it matter if it rains?”
Tynan did not explain. He would not tell the guards that he had a new final request, that he would like to feel the rain before he died. That he would save for the court. He did not know that he would have a chance to speak, but he would go, and he would do what he must. He could escape if he wanted to kill them all, but he did not. He would not take innocent lives to save his own.
“You’re going to be moved now. You know what that means.”
“I have told you that I will cooperate, I will go willingly. Do not do this. You do not have to—”
The pain hit him, forcing him down to the floor. He curled onto his side, trying to hold on for at least a little longer. They would keep him in this state until he reached the courtroom, and he could withstand the pain for that long. He had to. They might not bother allowing him to wake if he were to lose consciousness, and he would lose his one and only chance to speak.
He was aware of his own agony and little else, though. Not until one of the guards spoke did he realize that they must have stopped moving his cell. He had not thought it was portable, but of course—it must have been, so that they could quarantine the unit if he became too dangerous for their machines to control.
“Get up. It’s time for you to hear your sentence.”
He nodded, feeling the aches fade to a duller, more manageable level. He pulled himself up, trying to find the matron. He wanted to speak to her, if he could, or perhaps they might let him address the court. He did not know.
“You are now here to know what has been decided. You are aware of your crimes. They will not be repeated. For being the monster that you are, you will die.”
“No! It’s wrong! You bastards! He’s not a monster!”
“Luna,” Tynan whispered, putting a hand to the edge of his cell. She was here. They’d brought her here. Alvin, too. Perhaps that was part of the trial that he had not been allowed to see. They had told her to testify to his time on her world, to all the ways that he had “wronged” her.
“Oh, Tynan,” she said, trying to get to him. The guards pushed her back, blocking her progress. “What have they done to you?”
“I am fine. I have been worried about you. I did not tell you I was going, and I did not warn you, and I broke my promise. I’m sorry.”
“I don’t care about that, not now,” she said, shaking her head as she forced her elbow into the guard nearest her, slipping past him and his companion, stumbling forward. He put his hand on the frame of the cell, letting his hunger free to take the front of it before he turned it against himself. He wanted to be close to her one last time. No cell, no pain, just her.
He heard the crowd yelling, the officials ordering the guards to get him back into the cell, but none of that mattered when she was near him.
“They hurt you.”
“In part. I hurt myself.”
“They’re going to kill you, but they can’t. It’s so wrong. It’s all wrong. I can’t let them kill you.”
He shook his head, forcing himself to sit up. He moved closer to her, as close as he dared. He wanted to touch her, to make those tears go away. She should not cry. She should only ever smile. That radiant smile of hers. That was what he wanted to see. One more time. “They will do what they want, and I cannot stop them. It is the fate that my kind deserves. We are monsters. We kill everything we touch. I cannot touch anything. I destroy everything. I always have.”
“No, you don’t. You have been a hero and a friend, and you fought against that hunger,” she said, putting her hand over his as the court fell into complete silence. “You see? You don’t hurt me. You won’t. You don’t want to.”
“Luna, remove your hand. I cannot control this, and you know it.”
“I figured it out, though. I finally understood why you can touch me. You said curiosity kept the hunger at bay, and you’ve used that for years. It worked, but there’s something so much stronger than curiosity.” She moved her hand to his face. “Love. Love is stronger than all of that, it lingers on after someone dies, it makes us hold on when all hope is gone… I love you, Tynan. I have for a long time, and I think you love me.”
He frowned, about to say that he didn’t know what love was, but he felt her arms wrap around him, and he sighed. Oh, she was wonderful, and he didn’t ever want her to let go. This was so… indescribable. He didn’t have words for what it felt like to be held, to have this kind of touch, this kind of… love. “Luna…”
“They can’t kill you. You can control it. You can do this. You won’t hurt the things you care about, and you care about so much more than me. You know you do.”
He frowned, pushing back some of her hair, admiring the changing texture of it, especially the part at the bottom, tipped in blue, as it had been when he first met her. “Yes, I do. I care most about you, and though I have no heart and cannot feel as you do, I think… If I were capable of love, then I love you. I could not help it. There, yes, that is it. That is the smile that I love. Your radiant one.”
“I don’t know why I’m smiling,” she said, putting her head against his shoulder. “They’re going to kill you. Now that I’ve finally found you again, they’re going to take you away from me.”
“Love makes you smile?”
She nodded, tightening her grip on him. “Yes, it does. Love makes us stronger, or so I’ve been told. I just wish that it could save us now.”