"Yeah," said Georgia Lee, "yeah, me too."
She gave a wan smile, then turned, her back to Fiyori.
Georgia Lee could feel the importance of this moment, as keenly as she might have felt sun on her skin, or the rush of wind through a car window. She supposed this was what might be called a crossroads, though to her it felt more like a tightrope, with one wrong step all it would take to plunge her down, down into a yawning chasm of consequence. The momentousness of the stakes were dizzying, and for a moment Georgia Lee almost felt physically unbalanced.
She collected herself.
It was clear, or seemed so at least, that the hand of friendship was at offer here. What was clear was whether it was genuine, and since that could not be determined, how she should respond.
Fondness for someone, in Georgia Lee's book, in no way implied any level of trust or loyalty. After all, she was endlessly loyal to her sisters, yet Georgia Lee's heart didn't hold a fragment of fondness for any of them. No, even if Fiyori was telling the truth (and indeed, that was something Georgia Lee was not finding any easier to determine as their time together continued) that didn't make the girl even slightly less dangerous, even a little less of a threat.
There were two possibilities here, and neither was particularly attractive. If Fiyori was being sincere, the goodwill she was feeling now only meant that she'd be more volatile if she discovered the bad faith Georgia Lee had been acting in. If she wasn't being sincere, on the other hand, this was simple emotional manipulation, and the fact that Fiyori saw the need for that showed exactly how much of a peril she remained for Georgia Lee.
No, she concluded, this didn't change anything. Regardless of how Fiyori might have felt, or what was going on behind those giant, insect eyes, Georgia Lee was no safer. Nothing had changed. She still needed to prove her value to Fiyori, and she was still confident that, fond or not, the second she ceased to have value Fiyori would turn on her like the mantis she was. However much affection the other girl might or might not have for her, Georgia Lee doubted it was enough to override her desire to survive.
She would stay her course, uncorrected. Her attitude to Fiyori would remain one of careful observation and distrust, her guard would remain up, and her secret weapon, the other girls glasses, would remain where they were, taped to the underside of a table. It was already too late to turn back.
And if it aint broke, dont fix it, right? she affected an accent stronger than her own, a poor imitation of her mother. It was a favourite saying of hers, and one that Georgia Lee detested; an excuse for never trying to improve anything or even to maintain it, a mantra that dictated you would only ever take action to help yourself when things became so bad as to be fundamentally non-functional. The words were like tree sap in her mouth.
Weve kept each alive so far, havent we? I dont see any reason to change that up
Georgia Lees words were interrupted by a banging from the door. Her thoughts stopped too, her breath with them and had she not known better shedve sworn that her pulse stopped as well. Georga Lee stood, stock still, frozen like a rabbit in front of a truck as the door clattered against the barricade.
It was a single push with what seemed like little force behind it, and the barricade held. She stepped backwards, moving with a pained, glacial slowness, and whispered in Fiyoris ear, her voice so quiet as to be practically silent.
Keep quiet. Dont move. Theyll think its locked and theyll keep walking.