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You've been counting stars, now you're counting on me
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Jennifer was not expecting words. Not expecting a voice so soon. The flashlight had been a mistake. She didn't jump, this time, but she did click the light off, and quickly ducked to the other side of the tunnel, hoping to throw off anyone who was aiming at her. She hadn't seen the speaker, Nick Reid. A quick search of her memory brought to mind a tall, lanky, unkempt-looking boy. Black hair. Was it the right Nick? She hoped so. No way to tell if he was dangerous, though. Probably was. Who, besides Jennifer, wasn't dangerous now?

He said he deserved an explanation. Deserved. Fucker. As if anyone here deserved anything more than the others. As if anyone deserved this entire situation. It figured she'd bumped into a self-centered asshole.

"Um, N-nick? It's, uh, Jennifer. Perez not Romita. What would you, um, like me to explain?"

She did not mention that she was lost. Did not tell why she had shut the flashlight out. It should be more than evident. She was still decently far away, she thought, but it was hard to tell, with both of their voices echoing off the walls. The positive side of this was that she could get a little bit closer, hopefully without him being able to tell exactly where she was. Step step. Step step. Moving softly, putting as little weight on her feet as she could.

"I, uh, why are you down here?" she asked, speaking a little more loudly, hoping her voice would cover her movements. Hoping he didn't turn his flashlight on and shoot her. She had to be ready. Ready to dive for cover, to run. To get the fuck away, or, failing that, to protect herself. Step step. Protect herself. Would it even be possible? Nick was pretty tall, if she was thinking of the right guy. Didn't seem the strongest, but then, she'd never really paid attention.

She hoped he wasn't the killing sort. Hoped they'd just laugh this off, say fancy-meeting-you-here-of-all-places, that sort of thing. But it was too much to count on. Every interaction she had been involved with had ended in tension and flight. While nobody she had met was dead yet, it was only a matter of time. People had murdered, and she didn't know who. The only person she knew to avoid was Clio, and only because Allen had told her. This was not a promising start. Step step. She was close to the wall, but ready to spring away to the other side again if it came to that. She felt goosebumps on her arms and back, not from the chill (though it was not exactly warm), but from the tension. She felt as if, any second, someone or something would jump out and attack her. It was a good thing she was ready, icepick in hand, to stop any attack.


Sure enough, her hand was clenched tight around the icepick. It was raised. That wasn't right at all. Not the way to approach things. She wanted to giggle, but instead took deep breaths, and lowered her arm. Don't break down. Don't lose yourself. Talk to Nick. Step step.

She had moved ten paces closer to him. It seemed like a good stopping point. She probably still had room to run, but maybe also to rush him if he did have a gun, did attack her. If that happened... she wouldn't hurt him. Right. Just use the icepick to knock his gun aside. Disarm him, so no one got hurt. Only that. She would never hurt someone. Never.

Juliette Sargent drawn by Mimi and Ryuki
Alton Gerow drawn by Mimi
Lavender Ripley drawn by Mimi
Phillip Olivares drawn by Ryuki
Library Vee
Misty Browder drawn by Ryuki
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Spelunking · The Tunnels