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You've been counting stars, now you're counting on me
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Out of nowhere, Sarah broke down completely. It left Kimberly confused for a second. Reika Ishida was dead. It bit, no denying it, but why the strong reaction? As far as Kimberly could remember, she'd never even heard of Reika and Sarah knowing each other. Then again, it wasn't like she was tied into the social doings of all of Bayview. Maybe Hermione would have heard.

Then it hit her. She remembered. She had seen Sarah with one of the Ishidas after all. Reiko, she thought. It had been at Prom. Kimberly had just caught the slightest glimpse of them, on her way out. She'd been trying to find Reika, actually, to determine whether her lunchroom matchmaking had been successful (though Kimberly had not seen Reika and Andrew at the dance, she had later been told that they had been dates, which had pleased her). She'd seen Sarah and presumably-Reiko at a table, chatting or something, and had made nothing of it. After all, people hung out with friends at Prom all the time.

If Sarah was friends with Reiko, though, it stood to reason that she'd have known Reika as well. Perhaps the dead Ishida had even been Sarah's better friend. There was no way of knowing now, not without prodding the emotional wound, exacerbating damage Kimberly had just inflicted.

She supposed she should probably feel bad about it. Springing a death so callously was certainly nothing to be proud of. She couldn't really bring herself to feel ashamed, though. If anything, it was almost nice. Even though it was accidental, even though it was hurtful, even though it was terrible, Kimberly was suddenly the strong one. The one in control. The one with the power. She had just surprised Sarah, the person who had held total custody over her very life for this past hour or so.

Still, it was probably only proper to be a little gracious, given everything, to not ask Sarah for details. Slowly, very, very slowly, Kimberly raised herself, first to her knees, then, unsteadily, to her feet. She had to stand still for a few seconds, regaining her balance, readjusting to the feeling of being vertically oriented. Every little movement was enough to set her newly-bandaged arm screaming in protest, but she managed to bite back any sounds of discomfort. The others already seemed to view her like some sort of sick, defenseless child, something to protect from the cruel, hard world. That was bullshit. She was still the equal of any of them. Hell, she was holding it together better than Sarah, their apparent leader.

And then, Bridget and Roland started off. Good. About damn time they got a move on. Bridget whispered something to Sarah. What it was didn't matter. With luck, it'd get the other girl moving. Kimberly had bigger things to focus on, cold though it sounded. To start with, she had some prioritizing to do, since she wasn't going to be carrying all her stuff away with her. Her hoodie was pretty well fucked beyond recognition, speckled in blood and short a sleeve, letting her uncomfortably thin and bandaged arm show through. It was a visual signal of weakness. She'd have to do something about it. There was no way she'd change in front of cameras, though. No way she'd try to pull her wounded arm through a sleeve even had internet voyeurism not been a concern.

She moved slowly to her bags, dug through them, dumping everything from her school bag except a spare t-shirt, for use as replacement bandages; her matches and cigarettes, in case she got a craving, though they were infrequent; her notebook and a pencil, for use tracking any vital information; and the black towel she had brought along. She'd been planning on taking showers on the camping trip. She hated feeling dirty. Now, that was the least of her problems.

She paused a second, then threw her deodorant into her provided pack anyways.

Towel. Cigarettes. Spare t-shirt. Grappling hook. Food. Water. Map. She threw out the guide to survival, kept what remained of her first aide kit, and was ready to go. Pulling herself to her feet again was an ordeal, with the bag over her right shoulder. Doing everything one-handed was going to fucking suck. Still, it could have been worse. One arm beat none. She started after the others, pausing as she reached Sarah.

"Thanks," she said. It was heartfelt. This girl had saved her life. Even if Kimberly hated and rejected any sense of obligation that entailed, on both of their parts, she could at least appreciate the gesture.

"We should go. Make sure nobody else has to deal with this. Pay Kris back. I guess you maybe have a reason to too."

And with that, she left the beach, following the others, hat shading her face from the bright light of the day.

((Kimberly Nguyen continued in This Scene Is About a Hat))
Juliette Sargent drawn by Mimi and Ryuki
Alton Gerow drawn by Mimi
Lavender Ripley drawn by Mimi
Phillip Olivares drawn by Ryuki
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D-Day · The Beach: East