"Alright," said Jewel. Did she believe Sarah? Did it matter? "I think that sounds good."
So then with her left hand and very slowly, she gathered the things she'd need—bag with clothes and first aid kit and not the gun, knife, and stun baton, which she left all lying there where they'd fallen, some covered in blood—and she limped her way off down the hall of the hotel and was so lucky to find a bathroom quickly enough.
Inside she tugged off her stockings, wincing through the pain and letting her mind drift. She wondered again if Sarah had told the truth and if she was still waiting out there, or if she'd just taken the weapons and run. Jewel glanced around the bathroom, figured the most likely angles, bit down on her tongue hoping it might dull the other pains. She dug out three ibuprofens and dry-swallowed them, even though they weren't likely to work. She poured more disinfectant, wiped, patched and bandaged and tried not to focus on the injuries.
A lot of people came out of SOTF pretty scarred and fucked up. Some of them wore it better than others; Jewel had always thought that Jared—and how was Jared's team? She couldn't remember what color that first dead boy, the first dead boy of them all, had worn. Were they all gone now? Had she killed any others?—made the most of his situation, spinning his injury into an iconic part of his image. Without those scars, maybe Jared would be just some other winner trying to make the most of things and stand out in a field of dozens more. His game had been good, his tactics clever and classic, but that was true of others, and others also had good, witty demeanors and clever attitudes. Jewel had never hated Kenny Yamana, who was charming and funny and wore his villainy well, but his limp wasn't so romantic.
The bathroom was very cold—all tile floors and hard, sterile walls. The light was piercingly white, and the sinks had freezing smooth metal handles that made her whole body tense when she brushed her fingers over them to get the water flowing. The stream and spatter of the water broke the silence, and brought Jewel's awareness to her own breath and heartbeat thumping through her head, and she tried to return to the ignorance of moments before. She focused on finishing the dressings, and then on changing.
It was not so drastic and new a look as the costume she'd donned that morning, which now lay crumpled in a corner, in front of the door to the nearest stall. Jewel wore the generic black track pants and the black t-shirt she'd been provided, and she'd moved her bandanna so now it rode around her neck at a jaunty angle. She'd thought briefly of pulling it up to cover her mouth, but she wanted to be heard for now and wanted her breath unobstructed.
Her arms were bare from the elbows down, the bandaging on her right hand and left forearm clearly visible, and while the clothing she wore now was far more modest than what she'd sported before, she felt somehow less protected. It was still cold; she shivered in the new clothes, which had yet to absorb enough heat from her body to reflect warmth back to her.
Then, patched up and more prepared, Jewel took a few seconds. She looked in the mirror above the sink, fixed her hair by reflex, locked eyes with herself but stared through her reflection unblinking and unseeing. The water was off but the ringing of droplets against porcelain echoed in her ears and the beat of her heart sounded in her head and these noises had a rhythm to them that Jewel could tap into and focus on. It was enough to get her moving again, bag repacked and lighter now with the clothes gone, and she walked with a bit less severe a limp back to the room where she'd left Sarah. She did not feel anymore like she would topple at any second.
"Hey," she called, before rounding the last corner. She couldn't say Sarah would still be there, promises or not, but whatever the case Jewel had no intentions of surprising anyone or allowing accidents to occur. It wouldn't do at all to die just because she startled her friend.