It makes sense that the limbic system would be the last to go. It's been days since she last managed to physically move, since the last time she sat at her console and checked her instruments like there was somehow something to be done. It's been days since she did anything but lie there with the photo of her and Amanda clutched between two fingers, the one where they're at the street party in Davis' square and she's got glitter around her eyes and Amanda's got ribbons in her hair. She loves that photo. She loves it enough to have carried it about a million years from home.
She doesn't have the time or the strength to journey a million years back again.
Her limbic system, though, is all flares and chain reactions. She closes her eyes and she's back in Boston and it's Christmas, maybe - lights in the trees - and Amanda's got a grey wool hat pulled down low and stars painted at the corners of her eyes and she leans in close and whispers I know how to make you disappear. Close your eyes, baby.
And she does, and she doesn't, and it's all too much to bear.
A tear overspills the corner of her eye and trickles down the side of her dry, cold face and she thinks about the world on fire and she wonders if the oceans will be all that's left, just rock and ocean, a world ruled by things that don't breathe air.
She closes her eyes again and imagines her limbic system flaring, going supernova and, when she opens her eyes, Amanda's sitting there on the bunk beside her. She's wearing those ratty pajamas that she a always loved and her hair's all messy, half up and half down, and it's possible that nobody's ever been as beautiful or as welcome and, when the touch, Amanda's hands are so warm.
"Oh, fuck," she hears herself mumble. "Oh, baby. I love you. I'm sorry I left."
Amanda shakes her head and shushes and leans in until their noses touch. She smells of beer and cigarette smoke and the flat they shared and it's all that she can do to touch Amanda's face and her hair and the photograph flutters to the floor and it doesn't matter because she's right there.
"What happens now?" she asks, and Amanda bends right down and kisses the hollow of her throat.
"Now, we wait, baby," Amanda says. "We just wait."
"Are you going to stay?" she asks, and Amanda nods. They shift together, the bed narrow but they were made to fit together, chest to chest, her head tucked in against Amanda's shoulder. They curl together like twins in the womb, like apostrophe and comma, and they wait.
I know how to make you disappear," whispers Amanda. Close your eyes, baby.
And she does. She closes them as tightly as she can and she holds on to Amanda with both hands.
And they have this one chance to outrun their own deaths.
Go on, then.