How it Ends
He leaves a slime-trail of blood across the floor of the warehouse as he crawls. There is nothing romantic about any of this. His organs are squelching and shifting in ways they shouldn't, and what he long ago suspected – that there was nothing romantic or heroic about this lifestyle, that it would end in sudden, catastrophic violence – is now confirmed. Loyalty kept him here, despite all that. Loyalty keeps him moving now, pulling himself by slickened fingertips towards his goal when his body is screaming for an ending he won't give in to. Not yet, at least. Soon, but not yet. He is nothing if not stubborn.
They dodged bullets and bombshells and bounty hunters and everything else the world threw at them, long enough for regimes to crumble and gray to sprout in their hair. That was what ultimately killed them, slowing the blazing of her two hands long enough for a few punks to get lucky. Small-timers, just to hammer home the reality that his life wasn't some fucking kung-fu fairy tale where they went down fighting a Bond villain with a laser-mounted ion cannon. The kids ran like scared rabbits when they realized who exactly it was they'd just shot up. Tried to run, at least. He had managed to plug one in the back as they fled, and if there was a wisp of the man who had once insisted he would never use a gun left inside him, it blew away like smoke from a snuffed candle when he heard his partner scream. He stood over the boy pulling the trigger until there was nothing coming out of the pistol but clicks, and only noticed he'd been hit as well when his knees buckled and the world tumbled upside down like an overturned shot glass.
His eyesight is getting dimmer with each rest stop he makes. He doesn't know how much time he has to reach her. He calls upon all the determination left in his failing body and drags himself the final few yards to her side without a pause or a whimper. Her name leaves his mouth in an explosive cough. She doesn't respond. He can't even tell if she's breathing anymore.
He pulls himself into a sitting position against the wall and takes a deep breath that gets him no air at all. Somehow, he finds the strength to drag her dead weight into his lap, lets the bloody head loll against his shoulder as he's done so many times on so many long walks home from the bar. This time, though, she doesn't curse him. This, more than anything, tells him things are almost over.
Is it a better way of dying than getting old and infirm at a ripe age somewhere in Japan would have been? He's not sure. The idea of any death being better than another seems pretty fucking absurd at this point.
A painful stirring from the body he's been cradling. She comes back to life with a groan. He feels mixed emotions at this – relief that he got here in time, fear at what she might say - and braces himself, waiting for her to push him away as she realizes where she is. Her head wobbles on the end of her neck like a newborn animal's, taking in her surroundings.
She rolls her eyes to meet his, tries to focus on his face and fails. There is blood trickling from her nostrils, a gash across her forehead from when she fell. She is still beautiful.
"Got a light?"
And absurdly, against all odds, he does. He fishes the lighter from his pocket and presses it into her hand. She takes it, slowly pulls two blood-stained cigarettes from somewhere inside her shirt, and fumblingly hands one to her partner. He lets her light it. She's always the one who lights it. Nobody else.
Together, they wait for the end.