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You've been counting stars, now you're counting on me
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Brendan Wallace. The name meant absolutely nothing to Kimberly, just one of many that had passed her ears once or twice. She'd kept up with the killers a little, way back at the start, but had given that up later on, choosing instead to rely on instinct and split-second recollections. Only, that wasn't quite right. The name wasn't totally nothing; it triggered something specific in her, like maybe he'd killed someone she knew or something. Whatever. Fuck it. It didn't matter. He was, as Erik said, gone. They'd all lost people they'd wanted to have final words with. Friends, enemies, lovers—it didn't matter which. She could hardly even tell the difference, these days. Maybe in some cases there was none.

She considered chiming in, sharing her little tale about Sarah and Bridget. Really, though, it wasn't something Erik needed to know. Why would he give a fuck that her secondary targets had slipped through her fingers? No, she was determined, but she wasn't crazed. She'd had her final words with her erstwhile allies. They were done. They were dead to her.

Maybe really dead. She was still pretty damn sure they'd slipped away, but she'd been wrong before. Erik didn't seem to view it like that, but she didn't care. No need to enlighten him. It wasn't as if her little conspiracy theory was actually good for anything. Odds were, both of them were fucked. She'd tell him if it ever looked like they weren't, maybe. Give him a reason to keep living. Until then, though, let him think whatever he wanted.

And then, he dropped the bombshell.

His smile was false this time, as he offered to be her bodyguard. Kimberly didn't even try to force a grin. Her face went pretty sour, probably. Oh man, that pissed her off. It'd been going so well, too, but now it was back to "Let's protect helpless Kimmy". Fuck that. Any other time, she'd have told Erik to fuck off on the spot. He was different, though. Something about him was keeping her more grounded than she'd been since this began. So she didn't tell him to fuck off. She opened her mouth and she did what she should've done ages ago, what she should've done with her first group.

She told it to him completely straight.

"Sorry, Erik. I'm not down for any bodyguard bullshit. I've kept myself alive this long, and I don't think that's gonna change here anytime soon. I'm pretty fucking sure I'm at least your equal in that respect."

She paused for a second. It was self indulgence and drama, no two ways about it, but maybe he'd be the sort to appreciate it.

"Thing is, though, I'm pretty sure you're my equal too. You're here, after all. And, fuck it, you're a pretty damn good guy compared to everyone else I've met. So, what say we say 'fuck bodyguards', and instead try something else?"

She held out her good hand.

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