(Zach Jamis continued from No Such Thing as a Perfect Plan)
Zach Jamis was down to ten and he wasn't happy.
He grumbled. And grumbled. And coughed into his hand. Inhale. Exhale. Same thing. Same shit. Same high. It didn't matter. Just so long as it dulled everything. He needed to be back to the old Zach Jamis. Things were coming down to the wire and the replacement wasn't going to cut it. He needed the original, the first. The best. Lord forbid the new one would screw something up. Don't ask him to go get the coffee. That's the problem with interns. They don't get paid, and if they're going to school at the "Staying Alive" community college, well, they certainly aren't going to get the best. Probably drop it too. Useless piece of crap.
The smoke was leaving a bad taste in his mouth.
Tasted like regret. Zach hated regret.
He was supposed to not give a shit. Now he was.
That in and of itself deserved a hell of a lot of regret.
The beach looked like shit too. Fucking beach. Zach hated beaches. He hated the sand. He hated the ocean. He hated the skinny whores in small bathing suits. He hated seagulls. He hated everything about beaches. This one was no exception. He hated this beach's guts. If it had a face, he would punch it. Straight in the eye. This beach was ugly. It was fat too. Okay. This was getting insane. He was insulting the beach. Zach really wished this beach had a self-esteem so he could snap it in half. Sure as hell would make him feel better.
Funny. Didn't he meet Nikki at the beach?
He was doing it again. Giving a shit. God damn it.
The silence was broken. Well, other than the damn ocean. Zach noticed it. He squinted his eyes.
"... what the hell?"
Zach Jamis looked on, straight over along the shore. He could see something in the distance. Looked like... people. Further up a head was a big bump. He had no idea what the hell it was. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. Shit. Well. Zach didn't have anything better to do.
Maybe it was the pizza guy. Zach wanted some fucking pizza with anchovies. Not that he ever ordered pizza, not that capitalist pig shit they call food. Even so, he was fucking hungry. He didn't even realize that until now. It never really occurred to him. He hoped it was a rogue pizza guy making deliveries to islands with a bunch of blood thirsty manics with collars.
Or maybe it was a blood thirsty maniac with a collar who was going to kill him the second he caught sight of Zach. Still. What was life without it's risks?
He looked down.
His cigarette was out.
He threw it to the ground.
And then Zach was down to nine. He knew he had to think.
(Post co-written with Grim Wolf)
(Mizore Soryu and Naoko Raidon --> The Cavalry Arrives)
Mizore Soryu had her head in her hands.
"I need to think of--there must be a right thing to say."
They can't understand what they're doing. They can't!
They don't have to do this.
They're murderers. And they don't have to be.
And Naoko Raidon was comforting her.
"There's nothing to say. I accepted Danya's rules, this is the price."
How could he be so calm? She laughed bitterly. "It's not the right price."
His voice was kind. "Not by your standards."
And now, now she could look at him through her fingers, and found, to her surprise, that she didn't have to flinch away.
"But my standards are the right standards." A boy on the beach was shouting about his 'mate', struggling with his collar; Raidon, meanwhile, shook his head, smiling a little. "There are a thousand things to call this. I know it's childish, but I have my big words. Fundamental attribution error. Moral luck." She turned away from the beach. "Utter and complete bullcrap."
He laughed, startling her. "I'm afraid that's the start of an argument we're never going to finish."
He was beautiful. When she took one hand off her face and nodded, she couldn't stop a crippled smile. "You heard me rant to the guard. It would be childish to rant to you again. But standards are standards, and if that's their decision, then I'm staying. If they want to make statements--" She wrapped her other hand around her knees-- "--they're not the only ones who can make them."
Raidon's eyes went wide. "You can't. That's not--you're not staying."
She didn't like seeing his eyes widen like that. It made her stomach drop, made her feel entirely too powerful for her own liking.
But if you can't hold on now, then where does that leave you?
She folded the remaining arm around her legs. "Yes, I am. I'm not--their standards aren't correct. I don't want to live because people who are--incorrect--think you're guilty and I'm good to go. Everything I've done on the island is because I want--because I will live by my own standards, because I refuse to let anyone, by fear of death or promise of life, take them away from me. I won't stop now."
And she was staring again, staring out at the beach.
Raidon shook his head. "Do you ever do anything selfish? Don't you ever just act?"
What a question! Mizore laughed merrily at that. "Of course I do!"
here. Here is different. So I have to be more careful with myself. I have to--watch myself."
"But if I were truly anything approaching a selfless person, I wouldn't have hit that guard in the face just now. I wouldn't have--"
She stopped for a moment, then continued.
"--I wouldn't have stayed with you."
Excellent job, Mizore. She closed her eyes.
"When we were--in the house. After you shot Victoria Logan--and Jacob Charles. I stayed with you. I condoned that. And by any moral fixture--" fixture wasn't the right word, but she was already embarrassing herself-- "--I shouldn't have stayed."
She pulled her knees to her chest now. "But, uh--" her voice trailed into unfamiliar shyness, and she sounded, all at once, like someone much younger than eighteen, "--I wanted to stay."
Raidon pursed his lips, tried to look offended, and failed.
"Well, if you're going to be selfish," he said, finally. "I'm glad it was with me."
She breathed out, and he continued.
are you determined to stay?"
The question made her look to the beach again, forgetting her girlish embarrassment. In these moments, her face could turn soft, thoughtful, and very, very old.
It was maybe fifteen, twenty seconds before her mouth twitched and hardened almost imperceptibly.
It was another twenty seconds before Raidon realized she wasn't going to try again to explain why.
He shook his head and laughed, taking her hand. "We've been arguing since we met, and I haven't once been able to convince you of anything."
She gripped his hand back, and the hard expression on her face danced into a tiny, tiny smile. "And have I ever managed to convince you of anything?"
His forehead brushed hers. "Not a damn thing." And his smile was so beautiful. "But I'm glad anyways."
And he kissed her, and everything was vivid again.
I love you.
They parted in a quiet hush. Soryu was smiling weakly; Raidon, however, looked alive, surreally so--in that instant, he was completely free of the burden of his sins.
"But you deserve to live," he said.
He moved without warning; Mizore felt a cold blow to the back of the head. His image--still surreal, still free and alive--lingered.
And she fell.