A/N: Yes, I'm borrowing the title from Miracle of Sound, and yes, there really is in fact a magazine with that cover on Adam's desk in Mankind Divided. I've put it in the story cover.
The heart stops beating.
There's a magazine on his desk bearing that headline. In full gloss, larger than life, a macabre photograph of an augmented heart printed above it, liberated from a chest and lying on its side, dripping crimson lifeblood onto pure surgical white.
It's an old backcopy, now. AUG Magazine, bi-weekly, lasted barely four months after the aug incident. David had paid the annual subscription way back when Adam was on sick leave, hoping it would help him adjust. Automated deliveries kept arriving in the weeks after Panchaea until Pritchard had gathered the accumulating pile along with the rest of Adam's belongings and passed them on.
For the most part, Adam hadn't intended to read them. Along with the philosophy contained within their pages, most of the issues had quickly ended up discarded to the recycling with no place in a changed world.
This one he'd kept.
The heart stops beating.
...yours did, didn't it?
He's read the article: the challenges of creating artificial hearts, of clicking valves and driving turbines that replace rhythmic pumping with continuous current. The pulse falls silent. A living heart without a beat.
Isn't that you?
Fingers curl against his chest, metal knuckles on a fragile sternum.
You remember the ocean, don't you? The cold. Water in your lungs. Blood pounding in your ears.
He could break it, if he wanted. Tear out the rivets of the support bar and plunge through the bone to paint a picture like the one on the magazine.
You remember the silence when it stopped.
Fingers dig in harder as he tries to convince himself it's still there. Underneath layers of metal and bone and sub-dermal armour, Adam doesn't know that he can be sure.
Why are you still here?
Another push, and his ribs creak.
You should be down at the bottom of the ocean. Down in the wreckage. Rusting alongside humanity's dreams.
His Sentinel blares a warning, and Adam gasps. His fingers still, a bare inch short of doing damage, and somewhere beneath his knuckles he feels it. That thrumming. Hard, fast, knocking at the soft flesh where natural anatomy leaves a gap between his ribs.
You should be dead.
His heart thumps, betraying the lie.
"But I'm not," Adam says out loud. Another breath, and he flattens his balled fist to press a palm to his chest, holding on until he can believe it. "I'm not."