Quicksilver blood. Nastya. Jonny lowers the gun. “Where are you going?”
He takes her wrist. “When will you be back?”
“I don’t think I’m coming back.”
No, no, no, not again, fix it. Fix this.
“I won’t let you leave. I’ll take you back to your nest in the engine room. You’re staying.”
“Could you really?”
No. No, if push came to shove she would win that fight. She always won, eventually. Try again.
“You can’t leave, who will fix Aurora?”
“I’m sure you’ll learn.”
Of course that wasn’t right, try again.
“Who will play violin for us?”
“You have Marius.”
Try again. Try again.
“You can’t leave, as the captain I’m telling you that you can’t leave!”
“You aren’t the captain.”
“As your first mate, I am ordering you to stay on the ship.”
“Since when have I obeyed orders, Jonny?”
Never. Not once. In all our many years. Try again.
“I’m proud of you.” It isn't enough. It's never been enough. Wouldn't have been enough.
One more time.
“Nastya, don’t go. You’re my sister. I need you.” He should have told her how much he loves her every day before it came to this.
She doesn’t say anything this time, and somehow that’s worse. There’s quicksilver blood on his thumb and finally, finally, finally, he lets her go.
A thousand things he could have said to her, a million ways it could have played out, but even with all the chances in the world he couldn’t stop her. She was always going to leave, had decided on it long before he’d caught her.
Jonny opens his eyes and listens to the too quiet thrum of the Aurora’s engines, dull and methodical, no trace of the musical enthusiasm she usually had. Maybe it would have been better if he just hadn’t noticed her slipping away, if there’d never been any quicksilver blood in the hallway.
For a mechanical heart, his breaks far too easily.