“Error. P-P-P-Power over-l-load.” The AI’s stuttered passed the snarling crackles of power that snaked across their bodies. “Complete d-est-truction of mechan-n-nic.” Lightning filled the room, growing in strength as lone streaks abandoned the AI’s bodies and shot across the room. Vale turned, running back towards Sky and was suddenly licked by fire — lightning as it cut across her back.
Falling to her knees, Vale’s felt herself scream. It drowned, lost in the roar of the AI’s being ripped apart behind her. Metal on metal, tearing and bending as light warped them into unrecognizable hollow shells of what they once were. But the lightning was still moving, ripping through the bridge, eating its way towards Vale and Sky.
Vale forced herself to keep moving, doing her best to breathe past the pain wrapping across her body. She pushed herself to her feet and made it to Sky. His eyes were closed, unconscious.
Pulling on his arms, she yanked him towards the half-open grate. After crawling in herself, she pulled him in after her, both of them falling into the layer in between floors. The ground below her was made of a strange rubber. Laying Sky flat, she quickly went through his bag, searching for something to pry off her arm. It was going to get them both fried if she couldn’t find a way to get rid of it. Her mind was blank as she stared at the items inside.
She shook Sky, panic beginning to set in. “Sky, what do I use to remove my arm!” His eyes fluttered open, his focus glassy as he stared up at her. “Sky. What tool?” He blinked, his eyelids heavy. She held his bag open so he could look inside. He reached in and held out a wrench. He tried to lean up, but let out a gasp of pain before falling back.
Vale glanced up through the grate. Light shot wildly throughout the bridge. Letting out an uneasy breath, Vale felt the top of her arm, searching for the bolts that held her shoulder in place. Her hands shook, terror ripping through her. She felt two warm hands wrap around hers. Sky was sitting up, his eyes more focused. Grabbing her around her waist, he swiftly moved her over to him, her hip pressed against his knee as they faced each other.
His eyes were steady as he reached for the wrench and placed his other hand on her jacket. It was no wonder that she couldn’t find the bolts. She had been too flustered to realize she was still wearing the jacket that Sky had let her borrow.
Tugging on it, Sky pulled the jacket off of her shoulder, his warm fingers brushing across the raw red skin of her shoulder where the metal met skin, sending a shiver down Vale’s spine. His eyes shot up to her’s for a second, registering her response. An unspoken question on his face.
Vale swallowed a mix of terror and want suddenly battling to rage to the surface. She shoved them both away. Terrible timing. We’re about to be fried. Looking away, she hid her face in shadow, allowing Sky privacy to work. His free hand pressed down on her collar, tilting her head to the side so he could see the bolts in the dim lighting. Her hair fell off her shoulder, brushing across his hand as it fell in dark ink black strands down her back. She heard Sky’s intake of breath next to her and it took everything in her not to turn and read his face.
She felt his breath on her neck as he worked on the first bolt and closed her eyes as her heart raced under his gentle touch. As he continued pulling her metal arm free, she felt her body begin to go numb. “I remember the last time you did this...” she said in the darkness. “I thought you were trying to kill me.” She felt him pause. She turned to look up at him. His ocean eyes searched her face, full of question. “I know better now,” she whispered.
Sky leaned towards her, his hair falling across her face, surrounding them in a curtain of golden light, pushing away the darkness. Vale couldn’t move, frozen in place in their small space between floors and she didn’t want to, pulled in by his breathtaking eyes. There was a strong tug along her shoulder and her metal arm came loose. Sky leaned back, pulling it free and tugging her back to reality.
Regaining her ability to move, Vale took her arm, shoved it into Sky’s bag along with his wrench, and shoved the bag across the floor, watching it slide twenty feet away. A sudden crash above them sparked them into motion. Sky pulled on Vale’s wrist, and they scrambled back from the bag, hoping to not get caught in the lightning storm above.
Light ripped through the grate, hitting the bag with a deafening crack. Vale lost her balance as she crawled further away with her one arm and fell, hitting Sky’s shoulder, knocking them both to the ground. Sky rolled onto his side and pulled Vale into him, his back to the bag. Vale, too terrified to question his protective gesture, rolled into a ball as Sky wrapped his arms around her, pulling her to his chest.
She shook, frightened of the lightning that snarled wildly close by. Sky gave her a single squeeze of comfort and Vale turned, pressing her face into his chest. Sky placed his head on hers, his breath tickling the top of her temples.
Vale ignored the roar of destruction, the blinding light that threatened to destroy them. Instead, she focused on Sky’s steady heartbeat against her face, the smell of eucalyptus and copper that filled her lungs from his skin, the warmth of his body wrapped around hers, his gentle fingers as he ran his fingers through her hair in a comforting gesture.
They were so close to death and yet, she felt safe, wrapped in a warmth that filled her down to her core. She leaned back and looked up at him. Wiggling her hand free she signed, thank you, up at Sky. His eyes softened, seeming to be touched by her gesture, her words that were learned just for him. He nodded and signed it back to her. She smiled and signed a response of welcome back to him.
A jolt of lightning caused them to jump. Vale scrunched her eyes shut. “You would think with being a Lightning Seeker I would be used to it.” After an unsteady breath, she opened her eyes. Sky was watching her in the dark. “If— when we get out of here, will you teach me to sign?”
Sky reached for her hand, his strong calloused fingers gentle as he turned her palm up. He traced several letters across her hand. Yes. He weaved his fingers through hers and gave them a gentle squeeze. Giving her hand a small tug, he pulled her back into his arms, and they settled down to wait. He traced several words along her arm, sending another shiver down her spine at the warm brush of his fingers. We will be okay.
“I hope so,” Vale murmured as she leaned her head against his arm, feeling her eyes growing heavy. We will, he traced again. Trust me, he finished.
Vale sighed. “Okay.”