SPOILERS!

WALL-E belongs to Disney/Pixar.

- - -

She is flying in terror for the first time in her numbered life, because for once she is chasing something that might already be gone - someone who might already be lost to her. In the distance the escape pod is floating, steadily speeding away, and then in seconds it is a mess of fire and light and for the first time, EVE tastes real fear, and it is horrible, staining her joyful experiences of flying, staining her steadily growing mind - staining her freedom. She says NO, at the thought of never seeing her WALL-E's curious eyes again, NO, NO, NO, at the thought of being alone again, NO, NO, NO, at the thought of being reduced back to what she was.

For the first time, EVE understands death.

- - -

The universe as she knows it, it sometimes seems, is all being reduced to small, crowded spaces and cold, silver walls. She herself can become part of it, tucking in her arms and neck and simply existing, a unopened flower like the ones she is programmed to find, yet too sleek and flawless to ever be mistaken for something so natural. They tuck her away into proper containers, into small rooms full of screens and buttons and things she is supposed to embrace, yet what she embraces most is the tiny bit of freedom she is sometimes offered; an escape from the noise and the bustle and the box of walls that seem to close in on her from all sides. She does not consider the significance of freedom, perhaps because she is not meant to, but when freedom is there, things change, and that much she can recognize.

She lands smoothly, effortlessly, upon the planet - EARTH, they tell her. From afar it is an interesting place, a mix of bright and dull colors no new-age technology could mimic, but up close, upon it, it is drab sepia tones and towers of useless, broken items. Yet in it's own way it is amazingly beautiful, because it is wide and open and there is nothing to stop her from grasping that little bit of freedom that dangles in front of her blue, lighted eyes.

So she does.

Flying is a magic all in it's own, one of the only things that can make her eyes curve into upward slopes and her voice come out in soft, synchronized sighs. The wind rushes past her body, kissing it, her arms out at her sides, feeling the air cascade past her, feeling the freedom she can only rarely experience, feeling. It is something set aside in her robotic mind, this freedom, because it is so very different from the noises and the commands and the lights, it is different from their expectations of her and even her expectations of herself. It is wonderful and new, and slowly she learns what those words mean to her and how important they are not to forget among all the technology and noise she is trapped inside.

But flying was only a small taste of freedom, and that she does not yet know - not until she first tastes fear.

- - -

Hovering in space, searching for signs of him and seeing only the remains of the explosion, EVE rushes forward, all the pleasures of flying forgotten, all the happiness of open space nonexistent, only terror, only DEATH, unspeakable death, death she can only now grasp. And then something whirls by her vision, something messy and pale, and a familiar voice makes something inside her jump like a human child as her zooming body skids to a halt and turns, searching with newfound hope for him.

She spots his form in the distance, fumbling with something, and then he is soaring back toward her, leaving a trail of white behind him, saying her name that is not her name, but suddenly it IS, the importance of it overcoming her, that she has now become EVAH and she is perfectly content to stay that way.

She glides toward him as if floating on clouds. The rush of something - something deep within her - is like a jump-start to her system and she can't understand it, but she welcomes it, and it is beautiful, and enlightening, and free.

- - -

She thought she knew life, or life as it was presented to her. She thought she knew something more than that when she flew, when the wind whirled past her body and made her shoulders rise in laughter. She thought she knew.

She didn't.

- - -

There are no limits. She cradles WALL-E's body close, eyes narrowed softly, as if trying to scrutenize what was going on around her. Yet it was too perfect to name, to number, to take apart. He is solid beneath her fingers and she is solid beneath his, and together they turn around and around in space like twin sparrows in dance. Freedom. No one to take her away, no one to give her orders, no explanations, no rules. And in that moment the core of her broke away, soaring through the mess of complications that always seemed to surround her, shattering the cold sheet of ice she was programmed to hide behind.

And she leans her sleek head forward and presses it to his eyes and kisses him, a single spark that seems to speak to her, to change her, to free her at last.