Hey, look. looked like Liz wasn't doing so hot. In fact, she was the one person Kimberly had encountered who seemed to be in even worse shape than she herself. Well, excepting Daisuke, of course. And Liz was looking up, just looking up with this awful look in her eyes, like a puppy that'd just been kicked by someone in steel-toed boots. And she was trying to say something, trying to speak again. Croaking and wheezing and shit. It was... actually, it was messing with Kimberly some. Not how she'd expected it to, either. She was supposed to be feeling sympathy or something, supposed to be feeling a bit of pity, even though she didn't give a shit about whether Liz had strep throat or was choking to death on her own bile or whatever. But she didn't. She didn't feel sorry. She felt, well, no way around it, no mincing words, not while she was being honest with herself. It felt damn good, looking down at Liz while she struggled.
So Kimberly didn't do shit, just stood and watched and smiled. Yeah, Liz. You want something? C'mon, let's hear it.
And then Liz was pleading. She wanted water. Water? That's it? All this, and it was just water? That... something was wrong. Couldn't be that simple. A trick? Maybe Liz had another weapon. Wasn't a gun, or she'd have reacted sooner. A smaller knife? Or maybe she'd go for a disarming blow, try to take the pistol. Had she noticed that Kimberly's arm wasn't in good shape?
Oh fuck this. She'd give Liz the fucking water and get an answer. Sure, she could wait, make her sweat, dehydrate her further and further, but at the end of the day, Kimberly wasn't all that patient a person. It wasn't like it was gonna hurt her to expedite this process a bit.
Well, okay, maybe it was, because there was no way in hell Kimberly was going to take her gun off Liz for a second. That meant she was going to have to try something new, something she hadn't done before. Something she really wasn't even sure she could do. Time to bluff a bit, put on a show. Time for a bit of feigned confidence, because dammit, she was not going to look weak in front of Liz in this moment. So she turned, smiled even more broadly, showing off her teeth, and said, "Water?"
And Liz nodded, all nice and obedient, so eager to please. This was right. This was how it should be.
Kimberly twitched her shoulder, shifting the bag around to her front without dropping her aim from Liz. Luckily, the zipper was hanging in front of her left hand. Had the bag been the other way, she'd have just given up and marched Liz to a puddle or something. But no, she could do this. She would do this. Fuck Kris. Fuck her arm. She would do this.
It was not a quick process. Kimberly slowly shifted the bag into position, wiggled her fingers a bit, got hold of the zipper. The movement to open it was more of the chest than the shoulder, thankfully. Even so, it sent a nice wave of pain shooting up and down between shoulder and elbow. She didn't cry out, didn't scream or gasp or tear up, but it was close. She got it, though, got the bag open four or five inches. Dipped her hand into it. She could still feel things just fine with her fingers. It took some effort to push the pain down to the point where she could recognize the sensations, though. Still, the bag wasn't that full. Some bread, some crackers, a first aid kit which had popped open.
There. Bottles. She had two full ones, refilled in a little stream some time before. She grasped one by the cap, risked bending her elbow to try to bring it out. Bad choice. The pain made her hand spasm, dropping the bottle back into the bag. Dammit. She took a couple deep breaths, forced herself to calm. Tried again. This time, instead of messing with her elbow, she just slowly, carefully shifted her torso, withdrawing the bottle inch by inch. As soon as it was clear, she let it fall to the ground, gave it a kick, maybe a bit harder than was strictly necessary, sending it rolling towards Liz. It passed her, coming to a stop by the body. Ah well.
Liz drank. Kimberly pushed the pain from her mind, focused on the cool gun in her good hand.
And then Liz was writing, showing her phrases, sentences. They were gonna die, Liz, Kimberly, everyone. Kimberly gestured for Liz to continue. Turns out Liz was pissed that Danya had the math teacher. She wanted to help other people. Wanted to give them a chance. Lots of self deprecation in there. Lots of assumptions. Liz thought Kimberly was pissed about Daisuke. Thought she didn't get that they were all fucked. Kept coming back to that, again and again.
The weird thing was, it let Kimberly respect her a bit more, since, well, they had something in common. Just a bit. Of course, she still had some things pretty wrong. It was enough to get Kimberly giggling again. She choked that down after a few seconds, though, breathed in, out. Spoke.
"You're selling me short, Liz. I don't give a fuck about Daisuke. I guess you don't get it.
"I know I'm gonna die. I know you are too. I've known it a while. Known it since the first day, Liz. You know what happened? I met Kris Hartmann, right at the start. I didn't know she'd already killed Reika. I thought we could maybe team up, fuck this system over, get clear. And you know what? The bitch shot me in the arm and left me for dead.
"So, after that, I was a bit less trusting of folks, you know. But it didn't do shit. I got robbed. Beaten. And you know what? None of those things comes even close to the worst thing that's happened to me here."
In her head, this had been very clearly planned. She would deliver a brief speech, tell Liz exactly what she was doing wrong. In practice, it wasn't going that way. She was getting mad. Furious. Losing control of herself. When that happened, there was only one way to salvage things, only one way to maintain power over the situation.
Kimberly just let herself go.
"I'm sitting on the mountain, just sitting there, and all of a sudden the announcements come on, tell me someone's fucked around, and someone else gets blown up. You know what, Liz? Four people died. Four people died, and none of them had a chance. None of them saw it coming. None of them could fight back. You say we're all gonna die? You're fucking right we're all gonna die, but that doesn't mean you should get to pick how and when. You're safe. You're throwing away other people's lives. You know what, shit, maybe you're right. Maybe you can get us off here. But hey, did you ask Daisuke if he wanted to be part of your operation? Did you ask any of them if they wanted to lend you a hand? Like fuck you did. Liz, you risked my life. There are what, two hundred of us left? That means each person blown up for you, there's a half a percent chance that's me. I'm gonna die, Liz. I've accepted that. But I'm gonna die on my terms, not because you got bored and found some new way to piss off Danya. You're being selfish, making other people's choices for them."
As she spoke, Kimberly's voice rose in pitch, nearing a shriek. Her hand trembled, but the gun was still straight enough.
Come on, bitch. Move. Do it. I dare you.
But Liz didn't move, and Kimberly found the worst of her fury spent. Besides, she had circled back to her original point, back to where she'd been going this whole time. Her voice was calmer again.
"You know what's wrong here, Liz? With this whole situation? It's not the killing. I mean, sure, that's bad, but the real evil is that they took our freedom. They took our futures. Danya took away our right to decide what happens to us.
"And you did exactly the same thing."