Dmitri cradled her in his arms, carrying her the short distance to his office and resting her gently on the couch. She was deathly pale, shivering and breathing shallowly, her eyes staring blankly into the ceiling. Even now, he couldn’t help admiring the way strands of her dark hair fell across her forehead, covering her eyes and completing the beautifully slender lines of her face. He smiled, brushing them away with his fingertips, inadvertently smearing dirt and blood across her otherwise perfect skin.
The floor shook as Site 23 sustained another earth-shattering explosion, bits of plaster raining down on the two of them and causing him to nearly lose his footing as he stepped back to look at her again. The numbers on the automated timer continued to count lower and lower, prompting anyone unlucky enough to still remain inside to make a beeline for the nearest exits. It was no use, by now they were all sealed, all locked into the same inescapable fate. He sighed, and lit his last cigarette, watching the display. As the numbers ticked away, so did his memories.
They were together, in the break room. He asked her if she’d like to visit the shooting range sometime, and she said yes. Her mischievous little smile made his heart nearly melt.
He brought her a cup of tea, offering it to her; their fingers touched for the briefest moment and he felt an almost electric surge travel through his body. She felt it too, and they both smiled.
The way he’d felt before asking her to be his lieutenant made the medals for battlefield heroism seem like nothing.
They made fun of her for being the shortest one there. She put a quick end to it by kicking one of them in the crotch with a jackboot.
Her belt was slightly off kilter; he adjusted it for her and she smiled coyly, making no effort to stop him.
They sat in a moonlit field together, watching the tracers and musing about how much they resembled shooting stars. The nearby petrol dump detonated and they kissed for the first time.
She’d gone missing on extended deployment, and he prayed every night for her to come home, smoking every cigarette in his possession to stay awake.
She walked through the door of his office, bandaged but alive. It was the first time he’d ever let her see him cry.
She squeezed his hand as they slipped their armor on, a silent expression telling him that it would be alright.
Amidst a pile of broken, mangled bodies, she raised her hand above the rest, calling him to her for the last time.
The lights went out as the countdown completed. Site 23’s core disintegrated as the on-site warhead detonated, filling the corridors with white luminescence that had a force all its own. She lifted her hand, and he took it as the light enveloped them.
At last, it was over. They would be together forever, now.