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You've been counting stars, now you're counting on me
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From her place on the ground, with her blurred vision and tearing eyes, Kimberly could see perfectly for the first time in a long time. There was the discharge of a gun, the thump, the explosion that left her ears ringing, the screams of anguish or sadness. There were the blurs, there was the smoke, and there was Kris, and Kris was what she could see clearly, who she could see clearly. In that instant, she could understand. The chain of events was there in her mind, all too fresh. Boredom, anger, frustration—whatever had carried her to that dock with that knife to that boy's throat—and then it all went wrong. It all fell in on itself, collapsed into fear and pain.

Kris was no monster. She was no fiend. She was a scared girl, a scared girl with remarkably poor self control and decision-making skills, a scared girl perhaps somewhat deficient in empathy, but a scared girl nonetheless. That was all she'd ever been. Whatever happened with Reika, whatever had possessed her to come to that beach, that had been fear. When she'd pulled that trigger, when she'd sent Kimberly spinning to the ground, screaming and bleeding, that had been fear. She could see it. Someone approaches, tries to calm things down in the only way they know how, and it's just impossible to believe them. Oh yes, she could see it.

None of that meant a fucking thing.

There were screams again. There was death again. Kimberly was angry again. Now, though, now she knew more than ever that it wasn't justified. It was the same thing Jeremy had taught her in the forest, so long ago (and he still had her hat, didn't he? She hoped he had that fucking hat. Hoped he went home and looked at it and wondered for a good long time whether such a thing as a lucky hat existed): the strong could take what they wanted, and the weak had to live with it.

Kris wanted to live. Always had, probably. She was too stupid to go about it in a reasonable way, but she couldn't really be faulted for that. She wanted to live, and she was willing to do whatever she thought was necessary in order to survive. Reika, Roland, Kimberly, whoever had just died, all the others, they were nothing to her. Nothing, perhaps, except reminders of what she was losing to attain her goal.

Yes, Kimberly could begin to understand this.

And Erik was out there somewhere. Erik was out there, and Kris had who-knew-how-many shots left. Kimberly didn't want him to die. She didn't want anyone to die. She'd never truly planned to see death, never truly reconciled herself with the idea of killing, even after Aislyn.

This wasn't about her, though. This had absolutely nothing to do with her, with the fact that her anger had boiled away now, with the fact that she thought that maybe, just maybe, she might be able to walk over to Kris and say some silly nothing and they could sit down and talk and maybe make amends somehow. This had nothing to do with the fact that she'd just lost her stomach for torture entirely, at least, as far as Kris was concerned.

This was about someone in the background, grieving so loudly she could hear it as a whisper through the pain in her ears. This was about Erik, out there and in danger. This was about everyone Kris had killed, and everyone she still would kill. It was about lost friends and sisters and lovers, and it was a damn shame, and Kimberly knew there was nothing just or right or heroic about anything she'd done or anything she was going to do, but, just for once, she decided not to take the selfish route, not to do what she wanted, but to do something for everyone else.

Hey, Kris,

She stood, slowly, carefully, making sure not to tip over again. It was hard to hear. It would be hard for everyone to hear. Her hand slid away from her boot, holding the knife. Once fully upright, she took a couple deep breaths, looked at the blurs. Found the right one.

just thought you should know:

One step. Two steps. A flick of the wrist, and the knife was held underhand. She still had her manual dexterity. Good. A couple more steps, arm raising high. Moving, closer and closer. Behind Kris, now. Right behind her.

I forgive you.

She brought the knife down.
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