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Rear-End Collision; (Private)
Topic Started: Apr 4 2017, 04:37 AM (1,203 Views)
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[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
((Min-jae Parker continued from I know my soul's freezin', Hell's hot for good reason))

Jae hadn't slept much either.

He had gone where Dorothy said, believing that he was following her, only to find the staff dorms empty with no sign of either her or Alessio. Maybe she had found him again and given chase. Maybe she had just wandered off somewhere. No skin off Jae's back either way, right?

No, either way he was still empty-handed and pissed off. He had sworn a bit, kicked a few things, overturned a piece of furniture or two to make himself feel better, and then he had skulked around the building for the rest of the day in case Alessio decided to show his face. Night came without Jae seeing another soul, insert some edgelord musing about whether he or anyone else left still had souls here. Every thought and feeling that he had was becoming old news; it was all so draining.

He had taken the pillow from a bed and crawled underneath to sleep, dragging his belongings under with him. He was tired of getting surprised during the night. Sleep hadn't come easily, and when it had, it didn't last long. He woke several times during the night to half-heard, half-imagined sounds, clutching the crossbow to his chest and trying not to breathe, straining to hear if anyone or anything was coming closer. Nothing ever did.

Until now.

Jae was already rattled from the announcements. Nadia had gotten her last wish; his name hadn't been called. She had made her choice and gotten her last laugh. He was envious, in a way.

But after her, it was Isabel, Isabel, Isabel, and Dorothy who had helped to kill her and wait what.

What.

That was all that still circled through his head: What. How. Dorothy? Seriously? Seriously?

Dammit all, now he'd probably have to take back some of the worse stuff he had thought or said to her if they ran into each other again.

But, (un)fortunately, there were more immediate things to be concerned with. Such as the pair of feet occupying the doorway. If Jae craned his head to the side a bit, he could make out a girl. Something about her nagged at him, but he didn't think he recognized her. The main problem here was that huge fuckoff sword she was dragging along, but really it was almost as big as she was so the effect was more comical than menacing.

She didn't seem to be moving any time soon, and Jae was starting to get pins and needles from being wedged under the bed for so long, so that decided it. He reached out and bumped the bed frame, deliberately making noise to signal his presence and keep her from getting too... whatever the sword equivalent of trigger-happy was when he started to move.

"Morning," he said, for lack of anything else.
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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She retreated as soon as she got a good look at him, back down the hallway before the boogeyman could emerge from underneath the bed.

Jae supposed it made some sense. Guy with a weapon hiding under a bed like some kind of weirdo, and how did she know he wasn't just trying to exchange pleasantries before shooting her in the face? But something wasn't quite right about how suddenly she left, about how she froze for a split second upon seeing him, like she knew something he didn't...

...On second thought.

Maybe he did recognize her after all.

It had been dark. He had been focused on Isabel, on Asha, on the murder that escaped from his grasp as the wrong life slipped through his fingers. But he had seen her, there in the hall.

The front of his shirt was still stained dark with Asha's blood.

Jae crawled out from under the bed, slithered like an animal until he got to his feet and followed her out the door.

"Wait," he called. "Lily."
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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Jae stopped, staying out of reach of Lily's sword. That was assuming she'd even be able to lift it to attack if she wanted to, between its size relative to her and how tired she looked. She looked the way he felt.

"Jae," he said, not feeling the need to offer any more than that. He didn't know what else to say, what to ask. He hadn't known her name either before yesterday.

Lily Caldwell, a footnote in the disaster that the last week had been. A little moth circling Isabel's flame until it was snuffed out. If he hadn't seen her there, he wouldn't have suspected. They were all finding out just what and who they were in the dark.

"Did you see her die?" He wasn't sure if he meant Isabel or Asha.
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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Did Lily's reasons matter?

Not really. Not enough to change what Jae thought of her. She looked like a little kid playing solider, with her hair haphazardly sticking out from under that helmet and the oversized sword. The bloodstain on her dress ruined the image, brought it back to reality, and Jae realized that it was most likely Lizzie's blood. That was the only name that Lily's had been announced alongside.

But Lizzie Luz hadn't been his friend. And Lily was right - she wasn't the one who had torn Asha open and left her to die. She wasn't Isabel.

So why did he hate her so much?

Because she was a coward? Because she hid behind a killer? Would it have been any different if it had been someone else she was tagging along with, or if the people Jae cared about hadn't gotten into the line of fire?

Maybe. It didn't matter. Jae was sick of whys and people demanding explanations, because everyone's reasons boiled down to the same damn thing: because they were here. Because this was the choice they had been given and whether they killed themselves or killed others or just sat in one place and waited to die, it all felt like letting the people behind the cameras win.

"I don't want to fight either."
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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"What are you going to do now?"

He could guess, and he would most likely be right. Lily had her one.

Jae shifted his grip on the crossbow but didn't raise it. This wasn't a fight. She wasn't Isabel.

His breathing was still coming shallowly, static in the edges of his sight like back at the church.
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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She didn't know. She turned away without any reason, without any plan, and Jae bit back the sudden urge to scream at her.

Lily wasn't Isabel. She didn't kill for shits and giggles, just to revel in someone else's pain. She had her one. She could probably say she had done her best to put Lizzie out of her misery, considering Isabel had also been involved. She hadn't beaten someone to a pulp for being scared and attacking out of fear, because she was unable to cope with her own emotions.

Lily's fear was quiet. It was what had let her tag along with Isabel for so long without getting killed, most likely, and it was what had allowed her to slip away unharmed when Isabel's sins finally rose up and tore her to pieces. She could slip away again and probably stay that way for the rest of the game, biding her time and waiting until everyone else had forgotten about her. She wouldn't hurt anyone else, not actively.

And Jae hated her for it.

He'd had a lot of time to think over the past couple of days. Sometimes, there’s nothing else to do besides sit yourself down for a long, brutally honest talk.

So, here’s the deal, self: you’ve fucked up big time.

Hazel? Abandoned her. Henry? Weren’t there for him. Asha? Tried to save her, just a few seconds too late to do any good. Nadia? Pulled the trigger yourself.

You know why? Because you’re a fucking coward who hurts people, that’s why. Intentional or not, because you were angry, or scared, or hurting too, whatever. It’s all over as soon as it’s acted upon, and reasons don’t matter unless you’re analyzing a character in a movie. Actions speak louder than words, blah, blah, blah.

Here’s what your actions have been saying so far: you’re a coward and a murderer. You’re trying to control the world like a man when you’re hardly more than a lost little boy, too hurt to say for sure that you really want to live anymore and too full of fear and spite to die. You’ve got a half-wrecked body, a bunch of dead friends, a classmate’s blood on your hands, and at least three killers who got to walk away when they shouldn’t have.

Because even though you told yourself you’d go through with it, who was going to hold you to it besides yourself? You wanted your moral compass to drag you back into line, whether you admitted it or not, because you’ve learned what you’re capable of, and you scare yourself more than you’ve ever intimidated anyone else. Now, in case you haven’t noticed, most of your moral compasses died horribly while you were still trying to sort your shit out. Two people who didn’t deserve it gone from this world, and you’re still here.

Here’s the deal, self: you are in a world that, for all intents and purposes, hates you. Everyone left alive on this island benefits directly from your death. The guys running the cameras decided they hate somebody or something enough that they don’t care whether hundreds of innocents die. Even if you go home, people will find reasons to hate you. Because you were part of this, or because you’re mixed-race, or because you’re gay, since we’re acknowledging that’s a thing now.

So hate them back. Hate them enough to live, or at least to die on your own terms whenever you figure out what those are. Hate them enough to be more than just a footnote in some decade-spanning tragedy. And don’t give them the fucking satisfaction of hating yourself ever again.

Jae wanted to shout it all at Lily, two cowards in a hallway, alive when they didn't deserve to be, holding weapons that they had no business wielding and stained with blood that wasn't their own. He wanted to tell her that everything she had done so far was exactly what they wanted her to do, wanted to ask her what the hell she would be going back to with half her family gone and the rest aware that she had helped put down one of their own and aided the woman who got her jollies from killing and terrorizing others for no reason other than that she could. But Lily had made it clear that she couldn't, or wouldn't, understand and accept it. She had made her choice.

This wasn't a fight. Lily had just messed up and gotten people hurt, like Jae. She wasn't a killer like Isabel or a swaggering hypocrite like Michael or even a fuck-up like Brendan.

And when he raised the crossbow at her back and fired, he didn't miss.
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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Alvaro Vacanti. Alessio Rigano. Isabel Ramirez. Lily Caldwell.

That was what Jae had thought to himself over and over, imagining their deaths, imagining that he would get some kind of release when he had made sure that none of them made it home for what they had done to him.

Alvaro had been... well, he would have burned himself out eventually. It was only a matter of time before he ran afoul of someone better-equipped, someone who wouldn't be caught off-guard. It was a grim sort of inevitability he had felt when he heard Alvaro's name called for the last time.

Isabel had been satisfying to hear, yes. It had been drowned out by Jae's disbelief over Dorothy taking part, but satisfying all the same that the bitch had gotten what was coming to her. He hoped that she had suffered.

He hoped that she had suffered more than Lily was suffering right now because Lily sounded pretty fucking terrible.

It was how she called his name that wrenched Jae out of his dazed fugue state and then there was the choking horror and the sick twist in his gut but god, he wasn't sorry for it. He had meant it. For every murder that she had idly stood by for. For Asha. And for the fact that when she finally had the chance to make things right and do Isabel in herself, she hadn't taken it.

Jae took a staggering step to the wall and leaned heavily against it, sliding down to sit with a thump, cradling the crossbow in his lap like it was his child.

Lily gasped and wheezed as she bled out, and Jae clamped his hands over his ears to block her out.
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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Oh, hi Emma.

Jae caught her movement from the corner of his eye, among the flickering static. And, you know, if there was ever a time that you really didn't want to have to explain yourself to the class president, it was right after you had shot her family member in cold blood.

Jae absorbed the scene of Emma kneeling over Lily - she still wasn't dead, why couldn't she die faster - for just a moment, and then he slithered along the wall back the way he had come, back into the room where he had left his bag and the staff underneath the bed.

Back under the bed you go, boogeyman.
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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Lily was still calling to him. Who the hell was she to call him coward even if it was true, hiding in a killer's shadow like she had? Why couldn't she just die quickly?

Jae pressed himself as far back under the bed as he could go, flattening his back against the wall. He should reload the crossbow. Emma might try to kill him for what he had done to Lily, and he couldn't die just yet no matter how little he deserved to live.

He didn't want to shoot Emma. She had never done anything to him, had always been sort of pitiable and sort of admirable, one overshadowing the other depending on what was going on. It was hard to imagine her turning violent, but Jae's first moments here had shown him that his imagination was severely lacking when it came to what people he knew were capable of. There was an irony in that, probably.

Jae screwed his eyes shut and kept a tight grip on the empty crossbow, straining his ears for the noises that would signal Emma's approach under Lily's dying gasps.
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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How much ammo did he have left? He had started with nineteen bolts. Three for Isabel. One for Brendan. One for Nadia. One for Lily. Thirteen left. Enough to last him however much longer he was here.

Jae kept his eyes closed, mouthing the numbers as he counted down over and over. Nineteen-sixteen-fifteen-fourteen-thirteen. His breathing gradually steadied, though he was still trembling all over as though seized by cold.

...Lily eventually stopped calling for him.

Jae opened his eyes again, trying to squeeze further back against the wall if possible. Maybe Emma would just leave. Maybe she hadn't seen him come in here. All the bolts were in his bag; he couldn't reload without making noise. Emma wasn't on his list.

But he had made his bed and now he had to lie in it. Under it, whatever. The shadow of a hysterical giggle tried to bubble up in his throat and he bit down on his lower lip to suppress it.
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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In the silence left after Lily stopped calling out, Emma's sobbing told Jae everything he needed to know.

There it was, then. The consequences of his snap decision, born out of anger and frustration and despair. With Samuel and Nadia, there had been at least a few moments where Jae had been afraid for his life, where he had felt like he was reacting in self-defense rather than lashing out. Lily hadn't been like that. She knew it, he supposed. She had realized that other people wouldn't take her seriously as a threat, looking like a little kid and with no real weapon. That was why she had chosen to play lackey to Isabel.

Jae doubted that Emma would care all that much. Even with Lily's name attached to Lizzie's death, Emma had still tried to save her. His reasons didn't matter; all that mattered was that he had pulled the trigger.

She was still out in the hall. Jae wanted to cover his ears again, but he couldn't let go of the crossbow, couldn't move without risking noise that would alert Emma to where he was. His teeth were still digging into his lip. He tasted blood.

Just leave, every fiber of his being begged her. Please.
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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God fucking dammit.

Jae could see Emma's cowboy boots and that same sword Lily had been dragging behind her. Half a moment of déjà vu. Could Emma even lift that sword any better than Lily could have? Jae doubted it, but he wasn't in a hurry to find out.

How fucking long was he going to have to lay here, wedged under a bed like they were playing some deranged game of hide and seek?

He hadn't bothered to respond to Emma's call, but she was moving closer anyway.

Jae reached for the bag's zipper, noise be damned.
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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((Skipping with permission))

When Jae heard Dorothy's voice, he was suddenly reminded of how she had greeted Alessio back at the church. How she had screamed at him, and Jae had been startled. How she had seemed when they met again in the hunting cabin, like something had come disconnected inside of her.

Should he really have been all that surprised that she would help kill Isabel?

Regardless, here she was again. She had known where he would go. He didn't know what to do with her, but his arm was starting to fall asleep, so he had to come out from under the bed sometime. So Dorothy spoke, Emma turned, and Jae unzipped the bag and grabbed another bolt for the crossbow, no longer caring about noise.

Lily was dead. Alessio was still out there running around. It was time to move on.

Jae slid out from under the bed and into an upright position, holding the crossbow in Emma and Dorothy's direction but not pointed at either one. His hands weren't quite steady now, though they had been when he took the shot.

"Dot," he said. After a moment he added, "Emma." She was halfway between him and Dorothy. One of them could hit her with their respective weapons if she was hostile.

He turned his attention more on Dorothy. "Where the hell did you end up? I thought you were going back here."
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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"...Jesus fuck, Dot."

Emma was pissed, Emma was unpredictable, and Emma was a threat that Jae and Dorothy both should have been paying a bit more attention to, but it was hard to focus on that when Dorothy just casually admitted that she had cut Isabel's head off.

Jae was torn between being unnerved and disgusted and thinking that it was kind of metal.

He inhaled sharply through his nose and shot a glance at Emma when Dorothy inquired after Lily, and kept his eyes on her as he grasped the staff in his good hand and used it to slowly lever himself to his feet. He wasn't sure if he meant it as a challenge.

"Isabel's little helper," he said flatly. "You remember. She was there when they killed Asha." Exaggerating Lily's role in that, maybe. Implying that she had been a more active participant. But she hadn't made a move to stop it, had dedicated herself to being Isabel's shadow and wading through the blood left in her wake, and so Lily was guilty.

Jae kept his gaze steadily on Emma now. He might blink, but he wouldn't look away and hide from this.

He thought that he would probably be able to shoot her before she got to him if she decided to attack.
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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"Dorothy. Shut up." Jae didn't tell her to put the taser away this time. He doubted she would listen if he did, and tasing Emma would be preferable to killing her anyway. Emma was only a loose end because of her connection to Lily

(Lily, whom he had murdered in cold blood)

and Jae just didn't feel like dealing with that shit. She just needed to move so he could leave.

He thought of Alvaro standing in the doorway, staring blankly, and pushed that thought out of his head.

Jae rolled his neck to work out some of the stiffness, keeping his focus loosely on Emma. God, he was tired. "If you haven't been paying attention, Lily was running around playing serial killer with Isabel. I dunno how long she had been, but it was for at least a few days before Isabel died. I watched her just stand there while Asha died. She did Lizzie in herself, didn't you hear?"

Hadn't Isabel killed another Luz too, before then? Just the fact that Lily had seen fit to hook up with her after that should have been enough for Emma to condemn her.

Part of him didn't believe he had really killed her. He wasn't sure that if he stepped back out into the hallway, she would still be laying there.

Jae shifted his grip on the crossbow, in case he needed to raise it. If he tried to fire it with one hand, there was a pretty good chance he would hit Dorothy instead of Emma. He wasn't sure he cared if that happened. His fingertips were still buzzing. "If you're pissed at me, you want to avenge your family or whatever, I get that. But honestly? Lily wouldn't have done the same for you."
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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