What was there to go back to, if you won? Who would want you back so badly?
Who is there to win for, that's what he wanted to ask Kimiko. Someone you made a promise to? You think every one of the hundred or so other people here didn't make promises? That they didn't have anyone watching, waiting?
Jae supposed that was what he had never been able to understand. The people who killed from day one - did they really think that they were so fucking special? That they were the only ones with lives left behind, or that their lives were the most important? That they were better, somehow?
He didn't know. He wouldn't ever know.
Jae wanted his parents. He wanted to be at home, in his room, with a working body and living friends and a chance to fuck everything up in ways that didn't involve everyone dying. He wanted a future that wasn't emptiness and pointlessness and a thousand years' penitence in Hell at the end of it. Winning wouldn't give him that.
But God, why should he lay down and die so that some fuck who thought they deserved more than anyone else here could step over him like they had everyone else? They didn't fucking deserve it any more than he did.
In the end, the response Jae gave Kimiko was a half-shrug and mumbled excuse. "That's not why I've been... doing things."
Samuel. Nadia. Lily. Brendan. Jonathan. Even Jae didn't hate anyone enough to make them tally marks towards a pointless goal.
Without adding anything further or asking just who the hell it was that Kimiko thought would want her to kill to live, he held out his mangled left hand to her. Bandages wouldn't fix it, nothing short of surgery probably would, but he wanted it covered so that he didn't have to look at it anymore and so that nothing would get lodged into the space that had been torn out. His broken fingers were still held together crookedly with tape and the split skin was raw and glistening. Jae's stomach twisted, and for the first time he was actually thankful he hadn't taken the food that had been left for him with the rifle.