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You've been counting stars, now you're counting on me
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It did sting. It stung pretty fucking bad, but that wasn't new. It'd been like that every time Kimberly had worked on her wound. She'd cope. She didn't even punch Erik. Anywhere else, she'd have considered taking him up on his offer, jest or no, but here she had to be tough. She had to grit her teeth and not show that this bothered her. Tough it out. Power through it. A little pain was nothing, right? You had to look strong here. Never show your fear or discomfort.

"I think I have a shirt in the bag," she said. She'd had one, back at the beach, and didn't recall doing anything with it. She'd taken it back then, thinking—man, who the fuck knew what she'd been thinking? She sure couldn't change into it. Maybe she'd still been assuming her arm would magically get better or something. She couldn't recapture a good deal of her past thoughts. All she had left were the feelings, the rage and fear and incomprehension. The thought that she was going to die on that beach had never quite faded from her mind. She'd screamed and she'd cried and she'd never gotten over it. Maybe that was what this was all about. Maybe that's what was at stake with Kris.

Maybe that was stupid and pointless. She'd die anyways. Sometime, somehow. It was inevitable, the only fucking certainty in life. She wasn't scared. Not anymore. Never of dying itself, maybe. That was how she chose to remember it, at least. It wasn't dying. It was the hows and whys. To die for something stupid, that would hurt a lot. That would be a waste of a life. Everything in her existence had built to right now, to sitting on this bench. Maybe some of her classmates would've found that depressing, but to her it was pretty fucking inspirational. It meant everything she did was the most important thing in her life, meant she should give each action her all, and it didn't fucking matter if she failed and died, as long as it was something worth failing and dying for.

"And, hey, at least shirtless blond men probably draw attention. I can trip Kris while she's ogling you."

She smiled in return. Something to do. Something to be. Something beyond revenge, just for a little. The embers of identity rekindled. A crack in purpose. A nice change. Being herself again.

She'd missed it.
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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Burn On · The Mountain