"We tried to be better, but we aren't. I don't think anyone could last more than a week here if they weren't willing to do bad things." - Alba Reyes

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Being a degenerate is okay these days
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So that's how it was. Kiziah was gone, swapped out for Al, but that was all just peachy keen, right? It was a proof of concept, even if it had taken an unexpected toll in return. Raina vaguely recalled some line about everything having a price from her brief foray into watching Fullmetal Alchemist. She clenched her trembling jaw and tried to force herself to accept it.

Only no, she didn't accept it, she wasn't even going to try, because this was all bullshit.

They weren't going to die together. They weren't going to buddy up with killers and people who made stupid mistakes that could ruin everything, and all signs pointed to Al falling into both those categories like the world's worst Venn diagram.

Raina couldn't speak, and it took a few seconds to realize that she was shaking not with fear or grief, but with rage.

How. Dare. He. How fucking dare Al barge in here and ruin everything when she was finally getting all her shit together? How dare he just sit there like he had been scolded by a teacher instead of killing someone - killing multiple someones?

God, that was a whole thing in the shows she loved. The bad guy has a change of heart, sees the error of his ways, and joins the right side. It takes a while for them to trust him, but he proves true. His heart is purified, and he makes up for his mistakes.

She had never quite realized how stupid all of that was. There was something stunning to learn about yourself: that the reason stories of forgiveness and redemption felt so powerful was that you yourself were incapable of forgiveness for some things. Raina had preached equality and justice and second chances for the downtrodden, and only now was she really faced with the fact that, deep down, she believed that there were exceptions to who deserved those things too.

Before she could force any of that out verbally, the hidden speakers around the room turned on and they were surrounded by Danya's voice.

First dead was Ben. Raina hadn't thought about Jeremy much, funnily enough. He was dead too, just a little ways down the line.

Oh, and that "one more murder" spiel? Lies.

Kiziah wasn't on the announcement, and part of Raina wondered why, but the rest of her was focused on the fact that Al's name was still called even though Kizi's wasn't. She was vaguely aware that Penelope had started freaking out again, but she stepped past her and planted herself between Al and the bags that Lili had said contained the weapons.

One more murder, her ass. One lucky in to a group he could decimate from the inside, more likely. Or, somehow even worse, a legitimate belief that Raina and Penelope would just accept him back because they had been friends, when so many other friends were dead. Lily, the other Lily that Raina had been looking for was dead too. She hadn't gotten a second chance, and frankly, she was more useful than Al.

So no. There would be no redemption arc for Alessio Rigano. Not while Raina had anything to say about it.

There was a brief pause after the announcement ended, with only Penelope's noises of grief filling the silence. Raina fixed her eyes on Al's and her hands twitched, unsure if she should reach for the grenade or the gun that had belonged to Kiziah.

"Get out. Now."
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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Minus Something · The Cafeteria