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Everybody Loses; V4 Endgame
Topic Started: Nov 5 2011, 02:26 AM (10,424 Views)
MurderWeasel
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You've been counting stars, now you're counting on me
[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Above, Kimberly did not hear the voices at the start of the encounter, but she heard the gunfire. It was a distant concern. At present, there were more pressing problems. Kimberly was not feeling well. Ivan had not followed her, had not shot her, but the whole situation was wearing her down in a very real way. There was a splitting pain in her side, a stitch like she'd gotten on those rare occasions when she ran too much in the real world. Her left shoulder was being an absolute bitch, stinging and aching. Somewhere in her running and stumbling, she'd torn through the right leg of her jeans, leaving a nasty gash on her leg right above the knee. Maybe she'd caught against a door or something. Fuck, didn't matter now.

None of that was important.

What was important was that Kimberly had been planning a step at a time, a second in advance. She had been focused not on winning the game but on living just a handful of minutes longer. It had served her well in some respects. She had escaped Ivan. She had survived a standoff that by all rights should have killed her. She was away from the action, secluded in her own little world. That was also the problem.

A few seconds after seeing the flames leap up and cast their flickering glow along the staircase, a few seconds after the entire thing had started burning, Kimberly had slumped against the wall only to realize that something was trickling down her back. She'd panicked, had assumed she was going to die like Dutchy, pretending to the last that she had only fallen in a puddle, but no pain had materialized and she hadn't felt any weaker than was to be expected. She had only figured out what had happened after dropping her pack to the ground.

The pack had contained another Molotov. She didn't know if she'd slammed against something too hard or if one of the pellets from Ivan's spray had found a lucky target or if the damn thing had just gotten fed up and shattered for its own perverse amusement, but the glass bottle had completely come apart, leaving her backpack and the back of her shirt and sweater completely soaked in gasoline.

That hadn't been too bad, until Kimberly realized that there was only one staircase to the upper level. She'd planned ahead enough to get away from Ivan, but now there was gunfire below her and flames spreading up the stairs and into the house and the whole thing burning and she was soaked in gasoline. It was spreading more quickly on her level. Fire moved upwards, right? She remembered that. She'd been camping once, really camping like they'd all been supposed to, and they'd lit the fire at the bottom. Ivan was probably fairly safe if he hadn't been shot to death. Kimberly, on the other hand, was in a very different position. She was hurting and so very tired. She wanted nothing more than to just crawl into one of the bedrooms and lie down and go to sleep. She wanted to rest, to wake up and have this all a dream. Dawdling was not an option, though. A slow response here would mean death.

In a fire, Kimberly knew, most deaths had little to do with being burned. The biggest danger was smoke inhalation. Had she read that in a newspaper? A Stephen King novel? Didn't matter now. There was a lot of smoke filling the air for her to inhale, more and more of it billowing up the staircase every second. Smoke rose too. The fire was spreading really, really quickly because of the fucking wood paneling and the carpet. It was surreal. The world was silent except for the crackle of the fire and the gunfire. Someone must have taken the smoke alarms out, probably to deny the students access to the batteries they ran on. Liz might have appreciated that little piece of insight. Kimberly didn't give a damn. She just didn't want to die here.

She'd always figured she'd die in a manner of her choosing, as a consequence of her own actions. She had absolutely not counted on it being because she fucked up like this. Once, what seemed like forever ago, the worst thing in the world had seemed like dying alone, in the cold. Now, she'd give anything for a little place to herself, maybe up on the top of the mountain again, looking out over the island and the ocean and listening to the breeze and not the sound of fighting. She wouldn't mind shivering so very much.

She wasn't going to give up, though. Not yet. She'd been leaning against the wall for half a minute, maybe, trying not to breath so much, trying to ignore the horrible stinging in her eyes. She was trying to pretend that her lips weren't cracked from dehydration, that her leg wasn't bleeding, that she wasn't almost certainly going to be dead before the hour was up.

What were you supposed to do in a fire again? A mask. That was part of it. You were supposed to try to filter the smoke. Kimberly darted into one of the bedrooms, went to the bed, and yanked a pillow off of it, ignoring the urge to rest for even an instant. She shook the pillow out of its case, then hurried back to the bathroom. On the way, she started laughing, a wheezing, choked sort of chuckle. She'd thrown her cigarettes away. She'd thrown her cigarettes away and she was still going to die of fucking smoke inhalation.

In the bathroom, she cranked the handle of the faucet. There was still water, right? Somehow she thought there would still be water.

She was right. It was delayed a couple seconds, and it came out lukewarm and tinged with brown, probably rust, but there was water, at least for the moment. It looked disgusting, but now was not the time to be picky. She shoved the pillowcase into the flow, let it get soaked, then put it to her mouth. She was pretty sure she was supposed to tie it on, but she couldn't tie it with only one arm. Fuck. Okay, she'd be holding it, then. It seemed to help, at least a little. It took more effort from her lungs to actually suck air through, but it didn't make her hack and choke so badly. The damp towel felt cool on her lips. She'd been supposed to wring it more than she had, probably, but fuck it.

What next? Crawl. She was pretty sure she was supposed to crawl. She couldn't crawl without the use of her fucking arms. Okay, fuck that. No crawling. The smoke wasn't too all-consuming yet. She could still see. It was mostly contained to the upper parts of the rooms. She'd just get down on her knees and knee-walk or something. Fuck. She was going to look pretty damn ridiculous. The cameras were probably still rolling. She suspected they'd be one of the last things to go. Maybe the smoke would impair their view of her. Maybe they had some sort of setting that would cut through it.

Didn't matter. Time to think back on those safety lessons she'd had from wherever.

What next?

Wait for the rescue crew.

The firemen will come and break the windows and carry you to safety. You'll hear the sirens and you'll know that everything will be alright. You'll fill out insurance forms and hug your family but it'll all be okay in the end.

No one was coming to save her. Rescue was as much a pipe dream as it had always been on the island. Lightning wouldn't strike twice. Reiko wasn't going to charge up the stairs to carry her to safety. No, Kimberly knew that anyone, no matter what the state of their moral compass, would be insane not to sit by and watch a competitor burn at this point.

This was what she'd wanted, right? Relying on people, that was for weaklings. Wasn't that what she'd thought, again and again, all the way since that first day on the beach? Hadn't she yearned to be self reliant? Hadn't she spat in the face of kindness and rejected offers of charity?

It was funny how these things could come back to haunt her.

But no. That wasn't what she wanted. Maybe it hadn't been for a long time. She wanted to be safe. She wanted her friends. She wanted Erik back. She just wanted out of this fucking game.

Kimberly was on her knees, in the bathroom, trying to figure a way out of the house she'd lit on fire but also trying one more time not to cry.
V7:
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
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ifnotwinter
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half Iago, half Fu Manchu, all bastard
[ *  *  *  *  * ]
Sluggish muscles and reflexes deadened with exhaustion starvation dehydration everything didn't respond in time. Ilario still pulled the trigger even as he realized he didn't have the shot anymore, somehow Ivan was moving and he watched in horror as another precious bullet splintered the wood of the table. The world slowed and compressed down to that, splinters of wood flying and all Ilario could think was no, no, NO as the shotgun came up and he saw Ivan's hand tighten on the metal. He didn't have time to think, just dropped and heard the deafening roar of the automatic weapon as it spat death over his head. It seemed to go on forever. He covered his head with his hands and felt chunks of wall bounce off them. Ivan didn't seem to be aiming or conserving his clip in any way. The noise continued. On the ground, Ilario tried to think.

He couldn't remember how many bullets he had left. Not many, he thought. Not enough. There was still Kimberly if she managed to escape the flames he could already hear and the smoke that itched at his throat and made him think of cinnamon somehow. And Ivan hadn't even been scratched yet. Under his fingers the AK was warm with body heat and firing but he couldn't. He knew he couldn't. He just didn't know--

“Get the fuck off him, JJ!”

"...you're just trying to protect her, even against someone like me... that's something more brave than I'd ever do. In a perfect world, things would be different..."


--what he could do.

Yes.

That was all that was left, really.

Under the deafening roar of the shotgun, he pushed the AK away from him, letting it spin across the floor and nudge into a corner where he thought even if Ivan had seen it and made a run for it, Ilario could still get there first. It almost physically hurt to lose contact with it but he shook the feeling off as best he could just as the shotgun stopped firing. There was still a highpitched ringing in Ilario's ears, but the gun was empty. Had to be. Ivan would be reloading.

This was it.

Ilario flung himself across the floor the same way he'd once flung himself on JJ, using every inch of his scrawny frame as best he could. He went over the top of the table, not bothering to try and knock it down, ignored the gun -- it was big, no way it could be used at close range (could it?) and hurled himself onto Ivan, punching and kicking wildly for all he was worth.

The taste of cinnamon was still in his mouth. The boy under him blended into dark hair and bruises and one popped eye but Ilario fought anyway, fought for everything he'd come through, for everything he'd done, fought because he couldn't think of anything else to do and he had made it this far and he wouldn't, couldn't give up now.


marc st. yves
light it up or burn it down we'll all die in fire
{food for thought}


phineas rosario
fall down seven times stand up eight

sebastian conway
can't see the forest for the trees
{book of sparrows}


(so you've got to keep in mind, when you try to change the world for the better not everybody's gonna be on your side)
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MK Kilmarnock
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Hate, hate, HATE!!!
[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
He had made a grievous error in judgement. He had screwed up, and now Ivan was paying for it something fierce. He planned on hastily finishing his reload and rising up to polish off his suppresion fire, but no sooner had he slammed the strange magazine into the body of the gun, Ilario threw himself over the top of him. Everything happened so fast in a splinter-soaked haze that Ivan hardly had enough time to discern which direction Ilario had come from before he was being struck.

His hands flexed with every intention of pulling a trigger that was no longer there. The barrel of the unwieldly shotgun had been knocked away from him, the stock yanked out of his grasp as his hands flew up to protect his face from the other boy's assault. Much like the philosophy he had remembered and re-adopted a few seconds prior, there were no real thoughts going through Ivan's mind as he relied on instinct to carry him; a split second was the difference between life or death. He felt naked without the familiar and quite substantial weight of the shotgun in his arms, but such weight was replaced with the bitter pounding of knuckles slamming against his wrists.

Ivan remained on the defensive for the better part of a few sounds before returning some swings of his own in an animalistic fashion. He was capable of nothing fancy... this was simply returning blow for blow. Ilario would strike, then Ivan would struggle to force one eye open long enough to swing a right. The stinging in his arm returned to him, but it was either dulled from Tabi's final doting care, or he quite frankly no longer gave a shit, and to discern the true answer might as well have been impossible. A couple right hooks rewarded him with another strike to the face, and he could already feel the swelling in his cheeks, his glasses being smashed and swatted away.

He might have needed those glasses to read or to reduce fuzziness, but Ivan was more than capable of seeing what he needed to hit. A vicious left jab caught Ilario right in the nose, and the italian's swings had stopped for just a moment. Ivan snapped two more hits, a right followed by another left, right in the same spot. It was enough to cause Ilario to stumble back on his feet. Ivan stumbled to his own feet, ducked the crown of his head into a pitiful jab, then launched a left uppercut right at Ilario's jaw.

"FUCKHEAD!" Ivan screamed as the thunderous blow cleared enough space between Ilario and himself to get his bearings back after taking such a frenzied beating. His vision was blurred both from the loss of his glasses and more significantly from the hits he took, but he had more than enough of his wits about him to drive his left hand right up against Ilario's stomach, followed by a few more unaimed blows all from the favored hand of the lefty.

"Who the fuck do you think you are!?"
V6 Tributes

Spoilers, Ricky didn't win V5

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ifnotwinter
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half Iago, half Fu Manchu, all bastard
[ *  *  *  *  * ]
For a few moments Ilario really thought he had it. He had no formal experience in hand to hand fighting, or indeed any experience at all; his only real foray into the world of punching and kicking had been at the hands of JJ Sturn. And he was dead now, wasn't he? Ilario couldn't recall. He didn't have time to. His world narrowed to the feel of flesh giving way under his clenched fists and the noises of surprised, anger, and pain from Ivan. He pushed his advantage as best he could -- no strategy, just rapidfire attacks. Maybe he could knock the other boy out. That would have to be his goal.

His world exploded in multicolored stars as pain radiated up his skull and into his eye sockets. Ivan had managed a hit that had included not only his nose, but the swollen bruise on his cheekbone which Rhory's SPAS had inflicted. Ilario reeled backwards as Ivan pressed the advantage and sunk punch after punch into the slender Fiametta's already abused face. Staggering back in a desperate attempt to put some space behind them, Ilario had only a moment of clarity to think a quiet expletive before Ivan crashed a fist into his jaw.

Head snapping back under the assault, Ilario's vision greyed out dangerously. He was only faintly aware of the ringing in his ears and couldn't quite tell if the effort it was beginning to take to breathe was due to the smoke in the air or the blood running down the back of his throat from his nasal passages. Not that it really mattered. He tried to take another step away and was met by a punishing hit to his stomach. He doubled over as vomit and blood rose together in his mouth, heaved a mouthful of copper and acid onto the floor as Ivan continued the assault. It was all too much. The boy's scream registered only dimly, his question even more so. If Ilario had had the strength or breath to laugh he would have.

Why?

The same reason Ivan was fighting. To stay alive. And he'd done it the only way he could, the only way anyone could and still remain sane. Remain whole. He'd fought those who'd killed others and...and he'd saved the ones that hadn't yet, ones that surely would have snapped if they hadn't already. And now it was almost the end and Rosa, Frankie, they were dead and he'd atoned for them but there was still Rhory lying cold and dead with birds pecking the meat from her dark eyes. Rhory who'd beaten him the way Ivan was beating him now, Rhory whose death had still not been absolved.

Lips bruised to paper-thinness spread over teeth outlined in red, like the smile of someone who'd forgotten how. Rhory had known. She'd knocked him out.

Ivan should have. Last mistake, monster. Ilario flipped himself to the side with the last of his strength and flopped clumsily to the floor. Not that he cared, couldn't care now, only hope the dull shine of metal he'd seen out of the corner of his eye when the last blow had landed. The AK. His only constant companion. It would save him now.

He choked on smoke and blood as he wiggled across the floor with his hand outstretched, lips still stretched in a death-rictus grin. The top one had split again. He didn't know, didn't care. He could still win this. Just another few inches closer.


marc st. yves
light it up or burn it down we'll all die in fire
{food for thought}


phineas rosario
fall down seven times stand up eight

sebastian conway
can't see the forest for the trees
{book of sparrows}


(so you've got to keep in mind, when you try to change the world for the better not everybody's gonna be on your side)
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MK Kilmarnock
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Hate, hate, HATE!!!
[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Following the retalitory assault, Ilario had crumpled to the floor and looked to be in no position to fight. Truth be told, Ivan couldn't really blame him for not being able to stand anymore. He could hardly stay upright himself, and he was mostly on the giving side of the scuffle that had broken out. The fact that he stood victorious lay dwarfed by the two weeks that he had been on the island. Two whole weeks had gone by with less-than-adequate food and water, just about no peaceful hours of sleep, and leagues of stress from an entire class of students who were turned against each other. Every inch of him burned and shook and trembled with every move it made. He had strength, however, in the memory that there were only three of them left.

Soon, that number would be down to two.

Ivan offered no goading or taunting towards the fallen boy who had thrown himself onto his side, inching solely out of the most basic of survival instincts. Ivan was equally plodding in his steps, struggling to catch his breath as he made his way towards the discarded shotgun that had been knocked out of his hands earlier. He supposed, in the darkest corners of his mind that he tried to suppress as to not succumb to the more morose aspects of reason, that Ilario deserved to live every bit as much as he did. This wasn't some sort of idealistic battle of good versus evil, or even sympathetic versus antagonistic. They had both killed, so neither could pretend to be some sort of innocent good guy that irrevocably retained their reasons to live. Now, it was just about who wanted it more.

Ivan had made a promise, and it was a promise he had every intention of keeping. How unfortunate it was that in order for this promise to hold true, two more people would have to die.

Letting out a strained groan as he bent down to reach for the grip of the shotgun, Ivan looked back to Ilario. He was still crawling away... slowly, but still moving in some sort of meaningless journey. The flames were only growing stronger and washing the two with ebbing waves of heat, threatening to tighten skin and singe hair. Then there was the smoke. The smoke was getting to a point where in a space of possibly less than a minute, it might make seeing and breathing oppressive, stinging at the eyes of anybody inside the building. He'd have to make this quick. Bending down the extra inch needed to make contact with the unrelenting surface of the gun's grip, Ivan noticed a glint off in the corner of the room, illuminated by the light of the fire. Was that...

Oh no...

OH GOD NO.


Ivan lurched upright, but in his panic, the stock of the weapon fell from his grasp. The panic from before returned to him not in waves, but in bolts as he grasped one more time for the Pancor. This time, the weapon did not elude the clutches of his left hand. He hoisted the gun up, ready to take care of the problem once and for all.

The thunderous sounds of gunshots erupted ahead of schedule. Something tore through his left arm, his good arm, and everything went numb except for the pain. The clattering of the shotgun hitting the floor was drowned out by more of the deafening noises, and another one of the stinging phantasms of pain slammed into him, this time into his abdomen. Between the two devastating wounds, Ivan found himself unable to scream. His lungs had misplaced all of their air when his arm was torn into at the elbow, rendering it useless. There was hardly enough time before the second shot hit his stomach, twisting him into a world of agony. The most he could manage to emit was a gurgling cry of terror, dismay... oh, and the pain. The pain was nothing like from before, like anything that he had ever felt. Even the graze along his right arm had been something that while excruciating, he could struggle through, scream and bite at the pain while powering past it. This was indominitable... fatal.

Ivan stumbled back, quite possibly carried only by the nerves of his body and the adrenaline coursing through him to make those desperate strides of getaway. The fire was more intense to his right, and so he struggled to turn himself to the left, walking towards the only thing he could see of note. He approached the door outside, the very same door that he had chased Kimberly through, and grasped at the frame with his right arm to pull himself along in aid of his legs. As he passed through the doorway and stepped outside, the heat of the licking flames and smoke were replaced by clean crisp air and a surprising chill. He wasn't sure how far he made it out before he collapsed to his knees.

His shoulders rocked and turned him so he collapsed onto his back. Ivan had lost his glasses in the fight previously, but recognized the bleak, gray sky that was looking back down at him. He didn't feel like he had the strength to raise his head and look at his body, but there was nothing to see that he didn't already know was there; he could feel the blood pumping out. This was it. He was going do die.

"... I tried..."

Footsteps approached.
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Spoilers, Ricky didn't win V5

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ifnotwinter
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half Iago, half Fu Manchu, all bastard
[ *  *  *  *  * ]
With every pained push forwards, Ilario waited for the gunshot. For the hit. For something to stop him. He anticipated it and knew it would not come in equal parts, knowing he could not die here so close to his goal pushing him forwards while his mind shrieked at him to go for cover with what little strength he had left. But it never came and he was a foot away. Ten inches. Eight. His hand scrabbled in front of him like a questing spider as his vision blurred. Six inches. His fingers brushed metal and he forced himself not to grab randomly but instead find the stock, know where the trigger was, the safety. Behind him he could hear Ivan moving.

One chance, then. Ilario breathed past the stabbing pain of abused ribs and slid his eyes shut for the barest half-second. Was the floor beneath him hardwood, or thick green carpet?

It didn't matter anymore.

He exhaled. In a motion jerky with pain and reflexes pushed past their breaking point he grabbed the AK and rolled onto his back, pushing his body up and using the wall to brace his shoulders. Ivan was in front of him. Closer than he'd thought. The shotgun was in his hand and maybe that was the kick Ilario needed or maybe he had the strength anyway, pulling from some deep well he'd never knew he could tap, but either way it was the AK that rose first and it was Ilario's body that shook with the recoil as two bullets slammed into Ivan's body.

For a moment there was silence. There shouldn't have been. The world was full of crackling flames and the groaning of burning wood, the crashes as beams started to fall and glass shattered under the heat and at the very least Ilario should have been able to hear his own ragged breathing. But he couldn't. There was a bubble of nothingness and inside of it was Ivan, blood coursing in rivers from the jagged mess of bone and sinew where his left arm had been and a matching stream from the hole in his abdomen.

Oh, Ilario thought distantly.

I guess I win.

Then sound rushed back in and Ivan stumbled backwards. His feet carried him on a meandering path out the door and Ilario realized within seconds that he had to follow. Thick smoke choked the air and made him double over coughing as he half-ran, half crawled towards the exit. He used the AK as a crutch. It bore him out into startling daylight and it held his trembling legs as he stood in front of Ivan's broken body, sprawled in the dirt.

He dropped to his knees at Ivan's words, not even certain anymore what emotions he was feeling. They were lost in the wash of adrenaline and the distant feeling of concussion, the lingering remains of the pills (how many had he taken? Too few? Too many?). But Ivan deserved something. He was dying and Ilario didn't want to waste a bullet he wasn't even sure he had letting him out of the world. So he'd talk to him. He'd help him understand.

"Not hard enough." The words were thick around his swollen jaw and the holes where teeth had been even though he wasn't sure he remembered losing them. Absently he patted Ivan's left hand. It was cold. "You could have saved her. Probably." He didn't know. He hadn't saved Rhory, had he? But he was different so that had to be okay. "But you...you killed people. Your own classmates. You murdered them. And it...it had to be this way. You understand." He thought Ivan would. Here at the end of all things, he would have seen what Ilario had. "You made a choice."

His free hand went to the gun and he dragged a ragged palm over it. "So did I. Someone had to be a hero. Someone had to save them. But now they're all dead, and people like you..." He paused. Spat blood. "You understand. Why I did it. Just one left and that'll be it, you know." His eyes were somewhere far away. "I'll be done." Saved.

It was...out of order, he thought. Ericka and Reiko had been Rosa and Frankie. Kimberly should have been Rhory and then there would have been Ivan. Himself. It would have...worked. A strange kind of symmetry. But it was was wrong, now. The story was changing.

No matter. The words remained the same. "I really am sorry." He thought he meant it more than he had before. "But this--"

No doubt now. The time for that was past. Eustace going through hell to be reunited with his God; Ilario had gone through hell and he would be reunited with his father. Eustace had been forgiven.

Ilario must be.

"--this is how it has to be."


marc st. yves
light it up or burn it down we'll all die in fire
{food for thought}


phineas rosario
fall down seven times stand up eight

sebastian conway
can't see the forest for the trees
{book of sparrows}


(so you've got to keep in mind, when you try to change the world for the better not everybody's gonna be on your side)
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MK Kilmarnock
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Hate, hate, HATE!!!
[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Pain had caused the world to stop making sense. As Ilario fell to his knees beside him, Ivan couldn't so much as even decide what to think or feel other than the bitter hell coming from his own body. His eyes either squinted shut in his meager attempts to cope or blurrily opened to look up at the boy... his killer. The words he heard were blindly grasping, trying to decipher the same world. It was a naive effort, trying to find reason for all the killing, but it was an effort all the same, he supposed. All the same, the answers Ilario used to try to soothe his own damned conscience found no respite with Ivan thanks to their emptiness. There was a whole lot of talking, there, but nothing had been said. As he laid there on the ground feeling himself slip away bit by bit, Ivan fabricated enough strength to open both eyes and bear them on Ilario with a glare.

"Don't tell me," Ivan croaked. His words were interrupted with pained gasps, his chest fighting the unseen weight pressing down on top of it in order to get out what needed to be said. He may have lived his life as somebody with few words, only talking to others when he deemed it absolutely necessary, but Ivan had never had more to say than he did now. "Don't try to tell me that you're the hero... here." Another short gasp had broken apart the sentence, but regardless of how broken his body was, he would not be stopped. "I killed people. I killed three people, kids... fucking kids you and I both went to school with. Every single night, I saw Keith's face staring back at me."

Ivan had to suppress a cough in order to continue. "... Didn't deserve to die. I got scared, I did something I shouldn't have... I took a life. I wouldn't be able to live with myself after that if it wasn't for..." A pause was warranted as Ivan felt parts of himself shutting down. He couldn't really feel his left arm anymore, not after the bullet had torn through it at the elbow. He noticed, albeit groggily, that he was finding it harder and harder to feel his feet as well. His right arm, for a long time the thing that pained him the most and dragged him down, was really the only thing that he could feel and move by this point, and he made full use of that ability by clutching at the ground beneath him to cope with the pain.

"I did it all for her. Imraan attacked us, trying to kill Tabi... j... just because she defended herself against Clio. He thought he was being a hero too, you know." Ivan's voice, feeble before, had raised itself to try and add some bite to his words. "But he was just being a killer. Imraan attacked Tabi. Aaron..."

The memory was too vivid, and Ivan could only whisper the next part.

"Aaron killed her."

Somewhere, not too far away, Tabi's body was laying in one of the many residences on the second floor. When he thought about it, he realized that she wasn't actually all that far away... nor had she been dead that long. It felt like so long ago, the last time he had kissed her or the last time he had seen her smiling face, listened to her say something that he thought was pretty funny but didn't want to show it. She looked so pretty to him, even when she was all covered in mud and insisted that she looked absolutely terrible. It was a happy memory, but the knowledge that they were all behind him brought the tears to his eyes.

"I didn't save her, so... s-so no, I'm no hero," Ivan admitted through clenched teeth. "But if you think you're any different at all, you need to wake the fuck up! There are no heroes on this island. Not anymore."

The dying boy took a long, wavering breath and tried to sit up, but could only manage a slight incline at the neck. It was enough for what he needed to do. His right arm slowly reached across his body, clutching at the black hairband that was strapped around his arm just below the bloody mess that was once his elbow. He struggled to pull down on the band of his arm that would no longer function on its own, pathetically jerking at the shoulder to get an extra inch or too. As much as he wanted to scream out in pain, all of Ivan's strength was dedicated to pulling the hair tie off of his arm, which was raised in the process of doing so. Once he had pulled it off and his left arm hit the ground once more, never to move again, Ivan let his right hand fall with the hair tie, holding it at his chest.

"Take this..." he breathed, his eyes closing. Leaving them open was becoming much too hard. "Tabi's parents... give it to them. Please."



I'm sorry I couldn't give it to them myself, Tabi. I tried, I really did.
Maybe he'll do it for me. If he goes all the way and makes it home.
I'm getting tired... it's hard to move. Even breathing...

You're so close by...












B082, Ivan Kuznetsov - Deceased
V6 Tributes

Spoilers, Ricky didn't win V5

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MurderWeasel
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You've been counting stars, now you're counting on me
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Upstairs, with the smoke and fire, Kimberly was wheezing and choking through her improvised filter. She'd almost given up there for a moment, had almost just sat in that bathroom to burn to death. It'd have been easier. Everything since arriving here had been so fucking hard, and she'd known since the very first day that she was totally fucked, and now she didn't have anything left to even defend herself with. The entire sum of her worldly possessions amounted to the clothes on her back and the hook on her belt. Meanwhile, it sounded like everyone else was lighting each other up with machine guns and shit. Reiko had one, right? That would be the fucking perfect way to die, stumbling out of the flames with half her skin burned off only to get popped in the back of the head. It'd almost be better to breathe the smoke until she passed out, to just get burned up nice and quietly.

Kimberly had never been any good at giving up. She let go of things, sure, but only because it was another way to keep control of the situation. If she threw her gun away, she could say she'd chosen to lose. She'd known this for days. She was done with that bullshit. Choosing to give up was still losing control. The only difference between that and getting beaten honestly was that if she let herself get burned she'd also be dying as a coward.

No regrets.

Kimberly forced herself to her feet and ran out of the bathroom. Things were getting worse by the second. The smoke was thicker, stronger. She could see the orange glow of nearby flames. Not much time now. She certainly wouldn't get the chance to go back down the stairs. That was the epicenter of this madness, and she was still soaked in gasoline. There was only one other way down, and Kimberly did not relish the thought of taking it.

It still beat dying. She retreated to the bedroom, relying on memory to help her find her way with her vision impaired and forcing herself not to panic. Her eyes were stinging and tearing up, but only from the smoke. Only the smoke. She was fine. She found a window, right about where she'd figured it'd be. She wanted to hesitate a moment longer, to work herself up for this, but there really wasn't time. The window began at about waist height. It took some doing, but Kimberly positioned her right leg for a kick. Better to use her right; it was already fucked up with that cut from who-knew-what.

She kicked the window. Kimberly didn't have any idea how to kick something, but she sort of just assumed that it would be like in the movies, that the thing would shatter and she'd break the remaining glass out with her heel or something. What actually happened was that the window didn't give at all, and Kimberly was thrown off balance. She flailed her good arm for a second and almost managed to remain standing. In the end, she fell to her knees, but it was a slow, controlled fall, one that didn't hurt. It still wasted time, time she didn't have. Fuck. Okay, this was bad. She tried to take a deep, calming breath. It was a mistake, since in her attempt to stay upright she'd taken the cloth away from her mouth. She coughed again, hating that she had ever found anything even remotely romantic about the idea of fire.

She was crying for real now, not even bothering to pretend that she wasn't terrified. She was going to die. All this, and she was still going to die.

Kimberly stood and stepped forwards once more, planning to try again, ready to throw herself against the window again and again until the last bit of strength left her body, when, while feeling along the side of the window for cracks or something to prove that her last effort hadn't been a complete fucking waste, she noticed something that caused her to laugh along with her tears. Hinges. The window had fucking hinges, and one of those stupid little crank handles to open it up. It also had those locks along the unhinged side. It took a few seconds, but she unfastened them, then started cranking the window open. The smoke was bad, but she was holding her breath now. In under half a minute, Kimberly had the window open and was leaning out, blinking the tears out of her eyes and breathing as deeply as she could. If these were going to be her last breaths, fuck, she was gonna enjoy them.

Of course, she wasn't in the clear yet. She could breathe again, so some of the urgency had passed, but she was still on the second story of a burning building. She thought she could hear gunshots somewhere below her, but maybe it was just things popping from the heat. Kimberly really hoped the terrorists had done a good job disabling the utilities in the house. She wasn't at all prepared to deal with a sudden gas explosion if there was residual fuel in the pipes behind the stove or some shit like that.

She looked down to the ground. It probably wasn't more than twenty feet. Fuck, it was probably less. Didn't matter. The fact of it was, it'd have been a really good time to have a grappling hook with some rope on it. Too bad Kimberly had finally decided the rope was fucking useless and thrown it away. That had been a pretty damn poor use of resources. It was just another mistake in an endless line, stretching all the way back to deciding that, oh, no way would the senior class at Bayview ever play this game, that was for those other freak schools.

There wasn't time to worry. Kimberly leaned out the window, looking for other options.

She didn't much like what she found. There was a little ornamental space of roof separating the floors, but it was maybe eight inches wide and heavily slanted, ending in one of those thin metal gutters. Still, it beat standing in a bedroom, surrounded by billows of smoke. She grabbed hold of the window frame and hoisted herself outside, clinging tightly as she sought stable footing.

She nearly fell right away. The shingles looked rough, but the traction on her boots was shit after two weeks of constant wear after three or four years of frequent use. She slid, but her grip, fueled by adrenaline, was enough to keep her upright.

The problem was, there weren't really many places left to go except down. Kimberly figured she could edge around to the front of the building, but she'd still have to drop to the ground. Nobody would be there to help her; if anything, anyone who saw her would shoot her while she was distracted. Maybe Reiko would give her a fair chance, if she was still alive. Ivan certainly wouldn't.

Best, she thought, to get it all over with. Slowly, Kimberly let go of the window frame and knelt down, figuring she'd turn herself around, grab hold of the edge with her good arm, let herself hang for a second, then drop. It wasn't like she'd never jumped off a roof before. Her grandparents had a nice home in Saint Paul, two stories, and Kimberly's room was on the upper floor. She'd never been afraid of heights. She'd done this exact thing a dozen times during her childhood. The only difference was that now she was tired and sick and malnourished and dehydrated and only able to use one arm. It wouldn't be so bad. Not impossible, at least.

Further stalling was rendered impossible when Kimberly shifted her weight, causing her boots to slip again. Her arm shot out, seeking purchase, but the window was too far away. She managed to catch onto the edge of the roof, her fingers hooking the edge of the storm gutter, but that slowed her momentum for mere moments. Then, the gutter, never constructed to hold a person's weight, was peeling away from the roof.

Kimberly screamed. She was sure of it. She screamed and she closed her eyes and she figured she'd die, but she didn't. She hit the ground hard, but she must've hit it at a pretty good angle, because while her right ankle was flaring up with pain and her shoulders both felt like someone had been tugging them in opposite directions she was pretty sure she wasn't bleeding from anywhere new and she was able, after a few seconds, to hoist herself to her feet again, using the nearby wall of the house as support.

Smoke was still pouring from the window above, lit by a glow that seemed to grow ever brighter. The stars and moon still provided illumination, though Kimberly's eyes were not adjusted to the dark again yet so she couldn't really make much of her surroundings out.

She hobbled away from the house, trying to figure out what to do next. Really, though, there was nothing. She was unarmed. Rushing into the fight now would get her killed. She didn't have the stomach to go after whoever was left and try to kill them with her hook. Absently, she pulled it off her belt and let it fall to the ground. She figured she wouldn't need it, not anymore, not ever again.

She didn't go back to the center of it all, to the statue and the fountain and the flowers and the grave whose occupant she still could not identify. Instead, she moved to the house opposite the burning one and lowered herself into a squatting position. She hadn't been quiet. For all she knew, someone was coming to kill her now. For all she knew, she was already dying, past the point of no return. It didn't matter. What was important was that, from here, she could look up at the sky and could see the stars and could enjoy it, just for a little bit longer.
V7:
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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ifnotwinter
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half Iago, half Fu Manchu, all bastard
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Ilario remained in place long after Ivan had stopped breathing, crouched low to the ground as he stared at the bloody mess of a body in front of him. The sticky ropes of crimson were already congealing on the ground and the boy's tattered clothes, anchoring his body more firmly to the earth. He was dead, Ilario knew. And that was...good.

It had to be. His legs ached faintly with the effort of holding him, a distant pain eclipsed by the throbbing agony in his face and head. His eyesight was blurry in a way it never had been before; blinking did nothing to refocus the world in front of him. His gut burned dully. His mouth tasted like blood and acid-bile and it reminded him of Rhory. Ivan was Rhory, he supposed. The third he hadn't managed to save. It didn't work quite right but nothing seemed to be, not anymore.

God, he was tired.

And Ivan had been wrong, of course. His mind returned dizzily to the boy's words, again and again. Had to have been. Ilario was doing the right thing. He hadn't saved anyone in the end but he'd done what he could and he'd made it so no murderer could win. He had dispensed justice with each bullet. That had to count for something. Had to. That had...that had always been the plan, hadn't it? Make it to the end. Don't give up. And then, forgiveness. Absolution. Peace.

Yes. He was almost through, his trials finally reaching their end. Ilario did his best to focus his eyes again, blinking hard, one palm pressing against the dirt as he prepared to push himself upright. But his depth perception didn't seem to be working the way it was supposed to anymore and his fingers brushed against Ivan's left arm, the one that was so much scattered meat. The one Ivan had pulled something off, a bracelet or somesuch. Yes. It was in his right hand, on his chest. He'd asked Ilario...something. To give it to someone. He closed his eyes and tried to remember through the haze. Tabi's parents. Tabi, the girl he'd been traveling with. She'd killed someone too. He couldn't remember the name.

Ivan's words swam to the front of his brain. Aaron. Ivan had killed Aaron but Aaron had tried to kill Tabi. Self-defense. No, he thought, more than that. The same thing he'd done. Putting down a mad dog. Heroes, he thought, they do the things that need to be done.

He opened his eyes again. Fumbled at Ivan's chest and pried the fingers still supple as though with life from the small object. It was coated in blood but he could still see that it wasn't a bracelet at all. It was a hair tie. Whatever color it had originally been was hidden under Ivan's life, tacky and drying the cloth into something stiff and unbendable. Ivan had tried, he thought. He'd done his best. He'd atoned for his mistakes and even if he'd had to die (can't think it any other way) Ilario could still do this for him. One last task. The tie was slipped into a pocket.

He remained a moment longer on the ground, staring at Ivan's body. He felt he should say something but in the end nothing made it past his lips. The boy's eyes were already closed but he still folded the arms, after a moment's hesitation, across the reddened chest. Using the AK-47 as a crutch he stood, swayed, kept his footing. Glanced down at the body one last time, apologies rising in his mind but swallowed back down because, really. He didn't mean them anymore.

With the semi-automatic still supporting his weight as the ground swooped nauseatingly under him, Ilario turned away. Two steps brought him away from the line of shrubs which obscured the main street, and two more steps brought him to the street itself. Habit ingrained into him from childhood made him glance both ways as though there might somehow be a car approaching.

And there was Kimberly.

She was in front of him, far away enough that he didn't think she'd seen him yet. She was sitting by the house across the street. Behind him the fire cracked and popped as it devoured whatever it touched but in front of him was Kimberly, not upstairs, not burning slowly for her sins.

In front of him.

Unarmed.

Injured.

Alone.

His vision blurred. Was the roaring in his ears the fire behind him, or blood pumping furiously through his veins? Was the girl in front of him Kimberly or was it Rhory all dark hair and bright eyes, naked at the stream with her bloodied hand and the spreading antlers marking the soft place at her back where a bullet would have done the most damage? He couldn't be sure.

He took a fumbling step forwards. Another. Another. The gun scraped on the ground as he tried to balance himself in his suddenly skidding world. She saw him. He saw her eyes but couldn't see the color. Were they brown, or gray-green? Her hair was dark. Mahogany or black? He saw both. Her form flickered, doubled, like two pictures on transparent paper laid over one another. Rhory. Kimberly. They blended and separated and blended again.

Pain sparked in his knees. He wasn't walking any more, he thought. He was on the ground. Kneeling. He still had the gun, though. As long as he still had the gun...

"Ivan's dead," he said. He still didn't know which girl was in front of him but here, now, in this place, he couldn't bring himself to think that it mattered anymore.


marc st. yves
light it up or burn it down we'll all die in fire
{food for thought}


phineas rosario
fall down seven times stand up eight

sebastian conway
can't see the forest for the trees
{book of sparrows}


(so you've got to keep in mind, when you try to change the world for the better not everybody's gonna be on your side)
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MurderWeasel
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You've been counting stars, now you're counting on me
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For a good while, Kimberly's peace held. She looked at the sky and tried to wrap her head around the idea that the world would just keep spinning tomorrow, regardless of what happened to her or anyone else on this island. She'd never much liked taking a broad and universal perspective on things, except when it served to justify her desires or prove her points. Now, though, she figured it was about time to think a little more deeply. Odds were good she wouldn't have many more chances.

She coughed twice, the ghost of the smoke still weighing on her lungs a little, and moved her good hand to scratch her head. It felt wet, and she paused, then pulled her hand away.

There was blood on it. For a moment, she panicked, afraid she'd caved her skull in and somehow not noticed, but closer inspection revealed a thin, shallow cut along the inside bottom joints of her first three fingers, probably from the gutter. Fuck. Just what she needed, especially since after noticing the minor injury she realized it was stinging. She felt like she was slowly falling apart, dripping blood and dropping pieces of herself all over the place.

Then there was someone else, and she had to pay attention again.

Ilario. Lots of kills. She remembered him from around school. It was kind of hard not to at least know of the Fiamettas. Even in Bayview Secondary, something like a set of triplets aroused interest, especially with the antics the girls got up to. Ilario, he'd been the straight-laced one, hadn't he? Kimberly had always felt a bit bad for him, having to deal with shit about his sisters and still holding everything together. Now, here he was, looking far worse for the wear of the past few days. He was stumbling, fumbling with his gun, almost using it as a crutch. The whole scene was colored with flashes of Kris, of a grenade launcher and an explosion and fear and pain and blood, of a knife and closure.

Kimberly had left her knife on the mountain. She wouldn't have raised it even if she hadn't. Ilario wasn't Kris, and she didn't hate either anymore. She exhaled, waited, wondering when it was coming. She wondered if he even had ammunition left. Maybe he'd run dry. Maybe he'd have to attack her unarmed. Would she have a chance then? He wasn't doing well. Neither was she. Didn't matter. This was not the time to be thinking of these things. Ilario was getting closer. Kimberly considered fleeing. Could she hobble faster than him? Her ankle hurt like fuck. She was pretty sure she could stand, at least.

No, if this was it for her, she was going to face it head on, looking him in the eyes. No way was she getting shot in the back. Not after all this time.

Ilario stooped or fell. She couldn't tell which, but he was kneeling on the ground, level with her. She couldn't read his eyes, but his words were clear.

He told her Ivan was dead.

What the fuck did that mean? Was this supposed to be distressing to her? Was it a taunt, showing her that he'd killed the person who had had her on the run, meaning he was even more dangerous? Was it an apology? Had he failed to save Ivan and now decided to finish the other boy's work? Was he expecting her to be grateful, to greet him as a savior before he put a round through her forehead? Was he expecting a lack of resistance as a reward, like now that Ivan was dead she didn't have anything left to exist for?

Kimberly couldn't figure out how to approach Ilario's statement, so she went with what came naturally.

"Good for him," she said. She didn't have a cigarette to use to justify a dramatic pause, so she just fell silent for a second. It didn't work quite the same. "Where's everyone else?"
V7:
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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Misty Browder
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ifnotwinter
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half Iago, half Fu Manchu, all bastard
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"Um." The words were thick and heavy in Ilario's mouth. They tasted like copper and salt. "I think they're dead too."

He paused for a second, more for breath than for any kind of effect. "I think...everyone is, now. Except me. And you." Except Rhory was dead, wasn't she? She'd taken a gun and pulled the trigger and the back of her head had been gone and that had been it. He hadn't been able to save her. He hadn't been able to save anyone.

He let his body fold into a cross-legged position. It was easier to hold than the kneel and he barely felt the play of abused muscles over bones anymore, the spreading fire from wounds he thought were probably infected. The pain was hidden somewhere far away. Or maybe it had bled out from him slowly over time, the beginning of the end. Maybe it was the start of his reward. Whatever it was, he liked it. He floated on a cloud of numbness.

Adaptation, he thought. The remarkable ability of the human body and mind to adapt and change in response to a scenario. Two, three weeks ago he couldn't even have imagined surviving more than a day in a situation like this. Now it felt like second nature. Being without pain was the exception, not the norm. Having a moment to sit and catch his breath seemed worth everything that had come before. Was that wrong? He was faintly surprised to discover that he didn't care if it was or wasn't. He'd made it this far. Nothing else mattered. It was all far away now. Seemed strange to think he'd once worried about tests and grades.

Kimberly was still in front of him. It was Kimberly now, he thought. Rhory...was dead. And Kimberly wasn't. But there was only one way this story ended, and even if it was out of order now he knew that she was still his third and final trial.

"I have to kill you," he said. It was quiet and matter of fact. Almost a little regretful. "Then it'll all be over." It won't matter that they're dead anymore.

It won't matter that I didn't save them.


marc st. yves
light it up or burn it down we'll all die in fire
{food for thought}


phineas rosario
fall down seven times stand up eight

sebastian conway
can't see the forest for the trees
{book of sparrows}


(so you've got to keep in mind, when you try to change the world for the better not everybody's gonna be on your side)
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MurderWeasel
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You've been counting stars, now you're counting on me
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Kimberly was quite surprised by Ilario's assertion that they were the only two left. That wasn't something she'd been expecting, not at all. She'd rolled the idea of making it this far around in her head, but never really expected it to happen. She'd known she was fucked since the first day, with her bad arm and the blood she'd lost and all the other shit that had gone down. More than that, the others being dead just didn't fit with her image of them. She'd been so worried about how things might end if Reiko killed everyone else. She'd never even seen Ericka. They couldn't just be gone.

Kimberly wondered what had happened, but not enough to ask. She knew where this was going, knew she wouldn't get a chance to find out what she'd missed. Too bad. Show's over. Time to pack it up and go home.

Ilario was pleasantly forthright about the whole thing. Oh, sure, there was an edge of self-justification in there, that little part where he said he had to kill her. Bullshit. He was right about one thing, though: then everything would be over. Maybe at one point that idea could have held some appeal for Kimberly. Sometimes it had seemed like everything on the island was suffering and pain and violence, but there had been good points too, so many of them. She wanted more time, wanted to enjoy the cool air and see Erik smile and eat a chocolate bar and just keep existing.

The beach felt so long ago now. She could remember how she'd wished she could do it differently, how she'd wished she could start again and play, anything to hang onto her life for a little longer. She remembered hooking her fingers under her collar, considering ending it all just to drive home some more pain, buying into everything just to hurt some fellow victims who'd been a bit luckier than she had. She remembered all the times she'd been on the wrong end of a gun before this, saying she didn't care if she died or not. She'd never really expected to get shot. Maybe, just maybe, for a second she'd thought Liz might pull the trigger, but that was all.

She didn't doubt that Ilario could do it. At least he wasn't a psychopath like Brook. He wasn't doing this for fun. He was hurting too. They were all hurting, and they were all fucked up now. Once again, she wished she could have done something, could have yelled truce at the start of this five-way showdown or something, could have tried to change the way it all happened. Fuck, she was half ready to ask Ilario to let her run the clock down, to ask him to wait and see if maybe they'd let them both go, to risk his own life to call their bluff.

No. Kimberly looked at her fingers, at the blood, starting to clot and scab over now. No, better someone lived. She wouldn't have thrown her life away to give Ilario more comfort.

Fuck, she was just scared. She was terrified of dying. She still wasn't ready, and she was furious that she had to think about these things. She was angry at the world, but she wasn't angry at Ilario. She wanted to hurt something, but not the boy sitting in front of her.

He'd moved into a more comfortable position while speaking, so Kimberly shifted, lowering herself to properly sit. She could see the ragged hole in her jeans, could feel the sting as denim brushed the cut underneath. There had been silence for a few seconds.

"Too bad," she said, and she was surprised because her voice was calm. Instincts were carrying her now, words forming along the old familiar lines of interaction. "I was just getting used to being alive. Kinda liked it. Thought maybe it might be worth keeping up for a while."
V7:
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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Misty Browder
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ifnotwinter
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half Iago, half Fu Manchu, all bastard
[ *  *  *  *  * ]
This wasn't what Ilario had expected. He'd expected blood and fire and -- and that had happened, already, but he'd always had some vague idea in his head of a grand final showdown. This was just talking. Just sitting and talking like being back at school, like being with his friends, his sisters. No pressure, no anger and he found himself almost shamefully enjoying it. Knowing that he would have to end her life to complete his passage here but in some small surrendering part of his mind not wanting to.

"I could wait." His tone matched hers. His fingers didn't move from where they draped casually over the semi-automatic. "We've got...time. I think. You can have some time. If you want it." He wasn't sure what she would want to do to make herself ready for death but, he thought, he could grant her that much. She was the gray spot after all. She had killed but one of those she had brought down had been Kris and he still remembered firing at her through the trees and missing completely. He'd hit Etain instead. Which he'd...which was okay, because Etain even if he hadn't done anything yet was with Kris and Kris brought death and destruction wherever she went, but still. He'd missed his shot.

Maybe that had been when the troubles started. When everything had begun to slide and go wrong. Or maybe it had been Jackson way back when, dead on a beach or further back still when he'd woken up into the game. Or maybe even further, trace back through a life of mistakes and failure to live up to expectations back to when he'd been the last to slip from his mother's womb, an heir for his father at the cost of his mother's life. Was that as far as he would have to go if he really wanted to fix it?

No matter; he would still earn his place and his forgiveness. All he had to do was end it. End a life, again. End the life of the girl across from him. He wasn't even a stranger to killing any more, it would be easy and right. And yet.

And yet.

Ilario bent over his knees partially to try and find some relief for sore ribs, partly to curl around the stab of guilt that was trying to worm its way through his gut. She was quiet and unarmed, not trying to hurt him, not even trying to get away from her fate. Accepting. Acknowledging. That made it somehow worse.

"It was Rhory." This time he talked to hide the tremble in his fingers, because if he talked to her, if he helped to understand, maybe he could stop seeing Jackson in front of him, shadowed but there, the innocent life who'd begun this when Ilario had made the worst mistake of his life if you didn't count being born.

"Rhory was -- I thought I had to kill her. For what she'd done. But I didn't, and I saw...it doesn't matter. I was wrong." His words were softly disjointed as he tried to connect stray thoughts. "I was trying to help. I was helping. I was...a hero." Was that doubt coloring his words? Even he wasn't sure. "But I couldn't save them. Frankie. Rosa. They still...and then there was just Rhory, and I thought." He ran out of words. His mouth moved softly.

Finally, "I thought she would be the one. I thought I could save her."

But she'd taken the gun and she'd smiled at him when she'd pulled the trigger and the back of her head suddenly wasn't there anymore and that, well, that had just been that.

"I thought I could save someone."


marc st. yves
light it up or burn it down we'll all die in fire
{food for thought}


phineas rosario
fall down seven times stand up eight

sebastian conway
can't see the forest for the trees
{book of sparrows}


(so you've got to keep in mind, when you try to change the world for the better not everybody's gonna be on your side)
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MurderWeasel
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You've been counting stars, now you're counting on me
[ *  *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Ilario offered Kimberly some time, and she was grateful for the thought, even if she wasn't really sure it was making things easier. All waiting did was cause her tenuous grasp on coherency and dignity to deteriorate. She was doing her best not to think about how it was going to be, to ignore the idea of bullets punching through her and to not consider how long it would probably take for thought to fade into nothing. She wondered if it would be in bad taste to ask him to make it clean. Hard to say. Ilario couldn't be completely sane at this point. Nobody could. Kimberly figured talking like this was pretty good evidence both of them were completely off the fucking deep end.

She didn't mind. What was it Erik had said? Some types of crazy, they weren't so bad?

And then, Ilario was talking again, and this time he wasn't talking about killing her, and that automatically made the topic a whole lot more accessible and interesting, a nice little chance for Kimberly to distract herself from everything. That wasn't really why it gripped her attention, though. Ilario had her from the third word: Rhory.

He said it was her, that she'd been connected to him somehow, that he'd struggled over what to do with her but had eventually decided to save her. He said he'd just been trying to help, that he'd been trying to be good, to be a hero, but then at the end he'd lost his sisters and everyone else. He'd been reduced to trying to protect Rhory, and that was something Kimberly could understand, something that could actually make her feel sorry for him. Rhory had been a disaster waiting to happen. Kimberly's interaction with her had nearly ended in the girl's death, and not by Kimberly's choice. She'd thought she'd talked Rhory down. Fuck, she'd felt guilty too when she heard that announcement. She'd thought that maybe there was something she could've done, some way she could've helped.

But, in the end, she suspected nothing she could have said or done would've changed a damn thing. Rhory had been bent on self destruction. Of course, that was only an intellectual realization. It didn't mean shit when it came to what her emotions had to say on the subject.

"I'm sorry," Kimberly said, not sure if she meant to convey sympathy or apology. "I met Rhory, right after she... won her prize. We didn't get along so well at the start. She tried to make me kill her."

Do it. That was what Rhory had said. Those two words, bouncing around in Kimberly's mind.

Do it. Funny how situations came around again. Funny how things looked from the other side. No matter how she'd been feeling, Rhory had been brave to say that, braver than Kimberly was.

"At least you tried," she continued. "You tried to be a hero. You tried to help people. Fuck, that's worth doing. I spent most of my time trying to find someone and hurt her, and I hurt a lot of other people, and when I finally caught up with her I didn't even hate her anymore."

Kimberly twisted her good arm a little, stretching it, working out some of the accumulated tension. The action was reflexive and probably pointless. She was feeling pretty stressed. Her muscles would probably bunch right up again.

"Were you with Rhory in the end?" The question was sudden, something Kimberly hadn't really planned to ask until she realized that she didn't have anything left to lose. It was important. With Liz, she'd known. The context, the way she'd died—it had told her all she needed to know. Rhory had been different. She'd had to guess.

"Was she happy?"

That was all anyone could ask for, right? A death without regrets? Kimberly'd come pretty close. She'd fucked up here and there. There was the one thing she wished she could take back, and the multitude of things she wished she could do, but she'd tried to make the best of all of this. She'd have to settle for that.
V7:
Juliette Sargent drawn by Mimi and Ryuki
Alton Gerow drawn by Mimi
Lavender Ripley drawn by Mimi
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ifnotwinter
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half Iago, half Fu Manchu, all bastard
[ *  *  *  *  * ]
The question took him by surprise. Reflexively he opened his mouth to answer because there was only one answer for these scenarios, wasn't there? Of course she was. You always told people that death was happy, peaceful. You made it easier for the living because they were the ones who were left behind. But he bit the words off in his mouth before they could emerge, swallowing the lie back down and choking on the bitter taste of the truth.

"I don't know." Ilario fixed his eyes on the dirt in front of him and tried not to remember Rhory's eyes when she'd smiled vaguely at him and pulled the trigger. "She...did it. Herself. I guess you knew that." It had been on the announcements. An act of utter pointlessness, the voice had said. He wasn't too sure about that. Seemed to him like she'd done it in defiance, one last act of spite against him. Even when he'd agreed to stay with and protect her she'd never quite let go of that slow-burn hatred she carried against him and her suicide had seemed like one last spark. Fuck you, Fiametta, you don't get to save anyone. But he couldn't tell Kimberly that. "I think...she thought it was a way out. On her own terms. She didn't want." His voice caught, broke. Emotion or physical trauma, he didn't know. "I don't think she wanted to be saved."

So she hadn't even tried. She hadn't even let him try. She'd left him with nothing the way his sisters had. And he should have atoned for her already, should have brought down Kimberly the way he'd brought down Reiko and then it would have been perfect, three girls for three girls and just Ivan left for himself -- but it was all wrong now. And Kimberly was still alive.

She wasn't fighting him, though. She was okay with it. She told him he was right, that it was good, what he'd done. Which he knew. It wasn't like it was -- he knew he had done the right thing, the just thing, this was only confirming it. This entire time on the island he'd had people telling him he was wrong. Crazy. Telling him that he wasn't a hero, that he was a killer, a murderer, that he was the kind of scum he was doing his best to eradicate. Everyone except Kimberly. She knew. She agreed.

She understood.

At least you tried, she'd said. And he had. He'd tried so hard and so desperately that it almost didn't seem fair that this was what he got. Everything he'd done he'd had thrown back in his face. But he'd kept going. Everyone else was gone and he was walking on bodies but he was still walking. Had been still walking. Now he was still. Now it was all over, or almost. Not ending in fire despite the house alight behind him.

It would still end in blood, though. It was always going to end in blood. The same way it had begun. Rhory had the right idea. She'd made the end come on her own terms when she'd seen it. She'd fought back in a way that he'd never been able to bring himself to. And poor dead Ivan had fought as well, the same way Ilario had. He'd tried to save someone. He'd failed too.

But Ilario hadn't failed yet, had he? There was still someone left to save.

He slipped a hand into his pocket. Yes, the hair tie was still there. It was tacky with blood. He drew it out and held it in stained and dirty fingers. He was only partially aware of the sound of his own voice when he began to speak again.

"Ivan gave this to me. There was...a girl. I don't remember her name." It was somewhere in the scrambled mess his brains had become but he didn't really care. It didn't matter. "She died. He wanted me to give this to her parents." He stared at it blankly. "It seems. I don't know. Sick. Couldn't save her but here's...here's the scrunchie she wore when she died." He crumpled it in his fist, held onto it for a moment before letting it drop to the grass. "But he asked. And she never did anything. Never asked for this." A bark of a laugh that tore roughly at swollen vocal chords. "None of us did."

Ilario's hands returned to the gun. They lifted it easily enough. He thought there might still be bullets. Or one, at least. One would be enough. Poetic. And it was strange now, how he could barely remember what he'd done the day before the trip but remembered in perfect clarity what the AK-47 had felt like when he'd first hefted it from its box and taken aim. He'd been going to empty it of bullets. Bury it. Make it useless. He would have given up the gift which had seen him through everything so far.

It had one more task. His hands dragged across its roughened surfaces. The safety was off. His fingers curled into the oh-so-familiar space around the trigger and squeezed so lightly the muscles barely twitched. Just enough to know that he could do it.

All the things he'd done. All the things he'd seen. This was what it came down to. He had passed through his trials successfully and done his duty as best he knew. He had done the right thing. Maybe Ivan had been right and there was no goodness on this island, but there was still time. Still just enough time.

Just enough bullets.

He met Kimberly's eyes, sunken and shadowed as they were. His lips still wept scarlet over his swollen face when he opened his mouth but that didn't matter, not anymore. Heroes earned the right to bleed.

"I'm not sorry." His voice was quiet. "I did what had to be done."

As he brought the gun to bear and took aim, he let his own eyes drift shut just for a moment. He could almost feel the green plush carpet underneath him, smell ink and paper wafting around him. He could feel his father's hand on his shoulder, heavy and supporting at the same time. Almost hear his father's voice. You've done well, my son.

I love you.


He opened his eyes.

"It's okay," he said gently. "Kimberly -- it's all going to be okay."

Ilario Fiametta III was smiling when he pulled the trigger.


marc st. yves
light it up or burn it down we'll all die in fire
{food for thought}


phineas rosario
fall down seven times stand up eight

sebastian conway
can't see the forest for the trees
{book of sparrows}


(so you've got to keep in mind, when you try to change the world for the better not everybody's gonna be on your side)
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