“Thanks for coming so quickly,” said Trev.

“What’s happening?” asked Kyra.

“Let’s walk to the lab. I’ve got something I need to show you.”

“Trev, don’t play games with me. Is the agent working or not?”

“It appears–”

Kyra’s blank expression caught him off guard. “It appears not to be working,” said Trev, articulating each word with leaden slowness.

Standing in the hall, half way between the iso ward and Trev’s lab, what must have been just a second or two seemed like an eternity. That single word not altered the perception of time. Three letters. Three tiny letters set off a chain reaction of thought, of options, of meaning, of fear, of determination. They had come too far, overcome too many obstacles for that tiny little word to get in the way.

“What do you mean appears?”

“Well . . .”

“Well?”

“Kyra.” Trev just couldn’t get the words out. His eyes searched hers for understanding. She was forcing his hand, making him appear to be the bad guy.

“Kyra, I don’t know what to tell you.”

“Tell me what you know. Stick to the facts.”

“Okay,” sighed Trev, dropping his shoulders. “I know Kieran is in the final stages of the virus. I know it has penetrated his bone marrow and caused one of his two hearts to shut down. I know there is no known case in the records of a patient surviving when the virus reaches this stage.”

Kyra sensed there was more. Sensed Trev was holding back. She didn’t say anything but then she didn’t have to—the look in her eyes and the silence of her tongue told Trev the ball was still in his court; told him she knew there was more and she wasn’t going anywhere until she got it.

“Damn you Kyra, it’s not my fault. I didn’t give Kieran the virus. I’ve done everything in my power to save him.” Trev was mortified. The last thing he wanted to do in front of the woman he desired was to look like a blithering fool, bearer of bad news and apparently incompetent to boot. Somehow he had achieved all three in the space of ten seconds.

Kyra’s eyes watered. She opened her arms and wrapped them around Trev. “Trev,” she whispered in his ear, “no one is blaming you. I know you’ve done everything Hynerianly possible.”

“I’m so sorry Kyra. I wish there was something I could do. The agent was our last and best hope. I’ve tested it. It’s not the agent. I hate to say . . .”

“Don’t say it Trev. We all knew we were in a battle for time. No one could have controlled the atmospheric Tears on Neraj. Hell, it was a miracle Rog and Em were even able to procure the agent in the first place. Now, you called me down here for a reason. What is it?”

Trev starred. He had never been so close to those beautiful blue eyes, had never felt Kyra’s arms wrapped around him. Her body was so taut, so lithe. Her eyes were not just blue but brilliant sparkling blue. Her beauty, he thought, rested in what appeared to be perfect symmetry of features. Black hair, black leather, pressing against him.

Like a dart from the dark he heard his name. “Trev. Are you going to answer me?”

He relaxed his arms as a conflicted sense of shame and guilt washed over him. How could he possibly be thinking of Kyra in that way at this time.

“What is it Trev?”

“I called you down so you could be with Kieran one last time. I thought you would want that opportunity, to say goodbye.” Trev broke the embrace, his eyes wandering aimlessly on the floor.

Kyra stepped back. Her eyes not breaking contact with Trev. “He’s still alive, right?”

“Yes.”

“Then we still have a chance.”

Shaking his head from side to side Trev uttered, “I wish it were so.”

“Don’t you give up on me now. We don’t give up until there is nothing left and I mean nothing. Do you understand me.”

Trev stood speechless. He knew it was hopeless. She had a chance to say goodbye but that was it.

“Trev, sit down. There is something I need to tell you.”

“I know.”

“Know what?”

“I know what you are going to tell me.”

Kyra paused, searching Trev’s face for some clue as to what he thought he knew.

“And that is?”

“That you have feelings for Kieran. Strong feelings.”

“Oh really.”

“It’s obvious Kyra. Why do you think I called you down here and no one else?”

“I do care deeply for Kieran but that’s not what I was going to say nor is it any of your business nor what is most urgent at this moment.”

Trev felt like an idiot. Could she see right through him? How selfish could he be? How stupid could he be? How much damage could he do to his reputation in a few short minutes?

“I’m sorry Kyra–”

“Damn it Trev, stop apologizing for every little thing and shut up and listen. I don’t have time to beat around the bush. I need you to get the entire crew down here right now.”

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