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Hi Kids! Do You Like Violence? (Yeah, Yeah!)
Not much had happened to the three of them on the way up to these cliffs.

For the most part, they had just been talking. About each other. About what their lives had been like before they had woken up here. From what Jasmine had understood of the other two, none of them really knew the other two all that well. Of course, they knew each other's names, they had vague ideas of what each other did, but that didn’t amount to anything, and if they wanted to succeed as a group - if Jasmine wanted to excel using these other two - she realized that they had to know each other. She had to make sure that the three of them were friends before anything could put the group under trial.

So, as they walked along the cliffs, as they took the long way towards the cabin to avoid the gunshots they were hearing, they’d talked. Shared stories with each other.

And admittedly, she’d smiled at some of the stories Brigid had to tell.

And admittedly, she’d laughed at some of the jokes Christopher had up his sleeves.

And admittedly, she couldn’t help but just be happy in general. That she had a group. That it was the three of them together. It was like… relief, in a way. Relief that the two of them had accepted her offer. Relief that she was safe, for now. It was... different from the other sorts of happiness she knew from school. This one had... lasted longer. This one was keeping her happy. Others didn’t. Even when she’d gotten first in her grade for English, even when Damion had first asked her out, she hadn’t felt like this. She’d just gone to her bedroom or her table at the cafeteria and the happiness had gone away in time. No. This was different. This was even greater than any of the other things she’d done, she’d achieved before.

And it’s all because’a you, girl.

Like, hey, really. There are people out there. All alone. People who’d be easy pickings for anyone who wants a name out here. That could have been you. You could’ve been out there, in those woods, being stalked or chased by some wannabe psychopath?

But y’know what? You’re not. You’re right here, and you’ve got two people willing to die for you.

And that’s all because’a you girl.


And she knew that this happiness wouldn’t last.

And she knew that she couldn’t stay in this group forever.

But she’d take her happiness. She’d rise up. She’d hang out with these two and feel absolutely elated about doing it.

Well.

She could have.

She supposed that it couldn’t be a high without a low.

She supposed that the universe was always there, always waiting, always just happy to strike her down when she was at her highest.

Always just ready to show him when she’d forgotten about what he’d done.

She didn’t wave. She didn’t smile. She just looked away. Felt her nails dig into her flesh as she looked out towards the cliffs. Towards the open sea.

Anywhere but here.

Anyone but him.

Hi Kids! Do You Like Violence? (Yeah, Yeah!)
And what was that?

He wasn’t sure. The words that came out of his mouth - the idea that him and Paris could be heroes, gallivanting around the island stopping any neer do well that happened to be threatening the damsels of P.J Hobbs - seemed ludicrous to him. Why did he say it? Why was he acting as if playing the role of the hero - actively trying to help people who weren’t himself - was something smart, something beneficial to his chances of surviving this game? He didn’t know. To be honest, he was even doubting his capabilities of doing that. Half the school - all the kids at the bottom of the totem pole who acted as if going against him somehow made them original or morally superior - seemed to hate him, seemed unwilling to listen to him. Why would that change here? Why would anyone be willing to listen to Maxwell Lombardi, professional jackass, the king who all the subjects seemed to hate?

He wasn’t sure.

But he’d said it. His piece. His idea of pitious heroism.

So he supposed - even if he himself wanted to win, even if he himself wanted to live - that he was going to have to commit to it.

He stopped as Paris stopped. Looked around. Talked to him. It seemed as if the plan was different than Maxwell had thought it would go. It seemed as if Paris would be going alone.

And there was something Maxwell could say, in response to that. A warning. A word of advice. A suggestion that his friend not fight, not try to do whatever he was doing alone, but he wasn’t sure what the point was. He wasn’t sure why he was even trying to act as if he was going to be the hero, as if anything he would do on this island would be something he’d be proud of.

But Paris was his friend. A person he respected.

He supposed that there was no harm in paying tribute to that.

“Alright, I will,” he said, turning around.

Pausing.

Questioning whether this was the last time he would see Paris alive.

“But, um…”

His speech tripped. His brain stopped. For once, he wasn’t sure what to say.

“If you find anyone, tell them to head to the cabin in the middle of the woods. We’ll be there. We’ll keep them safe.”

He took one last look back at Paris as he began to walk away.

“Don’t die.”

Hi Kids! Do You Like Violence? (Yeah, Yeah!)
“I suppose so.”

And that was true, wasn’t it? Maxwell wasn’t the only person on this island who wanted to live. No. He wasn’t. Baxter, Yasmin, Lyndi, whoever else happened to be here, he was sure that they all wanted to live. He was sure that nobody on this island wanted to die here.

And he was sure that there were people who were willing to do anything to live and see another day.

People - just like him - who were willing to do whatever it took if it meant they could live.

And what would Maxwell do to those people if they crossed his path?

What exactly would he do if they decided to put themselves in his way?

He didn’t know. He’d think about it later along with all the other things he seemed to be carrying under this new mantra of his.

Right now though, he’d walk. Behind Paris, the lighthouse within viewing distance of the two. To be honest, he wasn’t entire sure of what they’d do when the both of them got there. Explore? Scavenge? Talk? The possibilities seemed endless, and until the two of them entered that building it couldn’t be told which possibilities were valid and which weren’t, whether the lighthouse was safe or if it was a deathtrap.

He sighed.

He supposed he would have to rely on familiar ground. These cliffs. The person asking a question in front of him.

Familiar ground, familiar possibilities, he supposed.

“I don’t know how this game will end, but…”

He paused. Considered what he was about to say for a brief moment.

“I know that not everyone here is just going to lay down and die. I know that there are people who are… actively going to try and achieve victory.”

Another pause. Then:

“I suppose the both of us are going to have to stop these people, aren’t we?”

Hi Kids! Do You Like Violence? (Yeah, Yeah!)
“Right. Right.”

He paused as Paris did. Looked at him as he stroked his hands over the fence overlooking the cliffs. Listened as Paris posed his question. His suggestion that the both of them do good. Try to help others now that they were both on here.

But that wasn’t what Paris was suggesting. That wasn’t what Paris was asking. It was a simple question, really. What was Maxwell doing on this island?

And Maxwell supposed that it was an easy answer as well. Maybe not one Paris would like, but it was one he had to give.

One he had to say if he wanted to make things clear. For himself. For the others. For the people on the cameras.

“I’m not sure of the specifics as of yet, but…”

He paused. Looked to the lighthouse. Looked back to the group of people talking in the distance.

Felt the knife in his pocket become heavier than it’d felt before.

“I know I don’t want to die here. I know I don’t want to let them kill me.”

Hi Kids! Do You Like Violence? (Yeah, Yeah!)
And as it turned out, Paris had been injured trying to help somebody else.

And as it turned out, Maxwell had been worrying for nothing.

And that had happened before, hadn’t it? Back at the cabin, when Baxter had initially entered the cabin. When Daniel spoke, indicating that he was still alive. He had worried for the worst, back then, and both times - three times now - his worries had been unfounded. Daniel hadn’t been dead, Baxter hadn’t been a threat and Maxwell had just been standing there, annoyed that he had been wary for nothing. Was he always going to fear the worst from now on? To be honest, Maxwell wasn’t sure, but it was… annoying, how that tended to happen. How he always seemed to want to imagine the worst, only for something less bad to settle in.

Did that mean that he wanted the worst to happen?

Did he want Daniel to be dead?

Did he want the people he met - Baxter, Paris - to attack him?

The answer was no, but to be honest, he wasn’t sure.

That didn’t matter, though. He could push that away. Think about it later, if he needed to.

Right now all he needed to do was consider Paris’ offer. His suggestion. One that suggested being heroic. One that suggested working with him.

One that - admittedly - went against Maxwell’s own plans, although that wasn’t necessarily something Paris had to know. All he had to do was talk. Act as if he was interested in this.

Act as if this conversation was in the halls of the school, rather than on the cliffs of this island.

“Do you really think that we’re the only two who would…” he said, shaking his head slightly. “...who could help others?”

Hi Kids! Do You Like Violence? (Yeah, Yeah!)
“We have some others in a… more secure location,” Maxwell said, taking his steps to follow Paris. “We’re hoping just to take a quick trip away from them, to… see what this island is like for ourselves, I guess.”

He watched Paris as he led the way towards the lighthouse. Saw the blood, the injury on his shoulder. Winced, slightly. Admittedly, Maxwell had seen gore before, but they’d been the gore of animals. Of… things. Not humans. Not people Maxwell happened to care about.

But he supposed he would have to see it, wouldn’t he? If he were to win, if he were to be the one deemed the fittest, he would have to kill. He would have to be the one who spilled blood.

Obviously though, that could wait. Right now, he supposed the main thing- the main person he should be worrying about was Paris. There was blood on his shoulder. A gun in his hands. Obviously the injury in itself was a worry - even if somebody had bandaged it up - but the question was more in line with context. How did Paris get that injury? How had he gotten his shoulder opened up this early? Maxwell wasn’t sure, but it felt… off. Suspicious. Admittedly, part of that was because of what Paris was like, what Paris had done before now. Moments at parties, where he had suddenly tried to set Maxwell up with a girl. Moments at the cafeteria, where he had gotten some of the… less intellectually capable people in the school to do what he wanted for him.

Moments across the school, where he seemed to be able to just string people along with a snap of his fingers.

And Maxwell knew that it wasn’t smart to make his distrust known.

And Maxwell knew that trust between them - between him and everyone he had met so far - was essential to his continued survival.

But he couldn’t help it. He couldn’t shake off the feeling. He couldn’t help but have his eyes trail to the blood on Paris’ shoulder.

So, after a moment of deliberation, he decided to make his distrust known.

“What happened to your shoulder?”

He looked around. Tried to see if the expressions on anyone else’s face had changed.

As it turned out, he was alone.

And as he noticed that the others were a considerable ways back, he began to feel a sense of worry crawling up his arms.

Hi Kids! Do You Like Violence? (Yeah, Yeah!)
For all Maxwell knew, Sarah could have given a response to his greeting. For all Maxwell knew, Baxter could have expressed confusion, asked why Maxwell had just responded the way he did.

But there were other things. More important things to pay attention to. Two more shapes in the distance, one of which being of a person Maxwell considered very important.

Well, at the very least, more so than the other people here.

Paris Ardennes - like Maxwell - was one of the more popular kids at P.J Hobbs Senior High School. Paris Ardennes - like Maxwell - was also interested in social climbing, social interaction. Like Maxwell, he also knew how to talk to others, how to get from one place on the social ladder to the other. How to get… quite a lot of the girls in the school to fall in love with him. He knew the results of which tended not to be pretty - which was, for the most part, different to Maxwell’s own experiences with breaking up - but he wasn’t exactly one to judge. He wasn’t exactly one who could mock the fact that Paris himself was fairly vulnerable to the girls of this high school.

But that part of Paris wasn’t one that benefited Maxwell to think about. The part of Paris that did effect Maxwell was his particular status. As a fellow combatant. As Maxwell’s friend.

Someone who could serve as a benefit to Maxwell, if he played his cards right.

He stepped forward. Smiled as Paris greeted him, as Aria - uninteresting, to be honest someone Maxwell had never talked to all that much - stood behind him.

Decided to give a reply on his own.

“No. Me and Baxter had only just noticed Sarah here.”

He paused. Took another step forward.

“It’s good to see you again.”

Hi Kids! Do You Like Violence? (Yeah, Yeah!)
He almost felt like an idiot for asking that question.

“I suppose so,” Maxwell said, his head still looking out over the sea. Was that something the man on the bus had said? Maxwell… wasn’t entirely sure. Admittedly, he hadn’t been the most attentive during those particular moments. Admittedly, he had felt paralyzed, fearful, too trapped in his own head to really be able to focus on what the man was saying in front of him. He had gotten enough of what he said then, though. His class was going to be transported to an island. His class would be unable to escape, unless they happened to be the last one still alive. If they tried going against that rule, the metal band around their necks would kill them.

But it seemed that he didn’t understand enough of this place.

And that… bothered him.

And although it was, although Maxwell in particular needed to know how this place worked, it wasn’t an issue.

Not at all.

He shook his head as Baxter asked his question. Turned around.

Saw the girl standing behind him.

“...Sarah, right?”

Hi Kids! Do You Like Violence? (Yeah, Yeah!)
To be honest, Maxwell wasn’t entirely sure why he’d wanted to go outside the cabin.

It had been safe in there. Even as person after person came through the door - came into the room - Maxwell didn’t have to worry for his life, Maxwell could have still pretended - even if only for brief moments - as if everything was as it used to be. Now that he was out here, he couldn’t feel the same way. He couldn’t think - even for a moment - that he was safe out here, in the open air. As he heard the gunshots in the distance, as he heard the cracks in the air, he had moved with Brandon. Exploring this island. Trying to see if there were any other buildings like the cabin they had been in.

Hoping every time they turned a corner they didn’t see anybody. No wannabe psychopaths. Nobody with a gun pointed at them.

But for now, they weren’t moving. They were here. The lighthouse in the distance had been a far distance away from where any of the tunnels were, but the two of them had managed well enough in getting here. Honestly, taking the entire group here seemed impractical from the get to - if they couldn’t get here from the tunnels, then wouldn’t it be better to go to the buildings they had seen earlier? - but it was the place that Brandon had decided they should check out first, so off they went. To the place furthest away from where they once were, according to the map.

And admittedly, there was a sense of fear crawling up his back right now.

And admittedly, Maxwell didn’t know why he had made the decision to exit.

But it had been his choice. His idea. If he sent others to do what he needed done, then what did that say about him? Besides, there was no point in being scared. He was here. On this island. There was nothing he could do about that.

And if he were to be the winner of this game, if he were to be the one deemed the fittest, then he couldn’t let emotion rule him. He couldn’t let fear stop him from doing what needed to be done.

It had been his decision.

Now was the time for him to act on it.

He walked forward. Towards the edge of the cliff. Saw the fence in front of him.

Saw the rocks and sea below.

And he knew that if he stepped forward, if he put his weight on it, this fence would not stop him from falling down to the rocks and sea below.

He let that image rule his head, for a few seconds. He let those emotions reign. Let his fears be heard.

And once he did that, once he knew what he had to do, he spoke. Asked a question to the man behind him.

“Baxter, do you think that there are some people here who have already died?”

A Pity Sight for the Magpie
Amount of time that it took for Maxwell’s plan to get shut down: two seconds.

But he supposed that their concern was understandable. He supposed that the idea of exploring this island by himself wasn’t a good one, for him or this group. Honestly, part of him was still confident that he could do the job himself - if he utilized stealth, it would be unlikely that he would get a fight in the first place - but there was no point in arguing this. There was no point in going against the grain of the group who had been so quickly to accept him, who had decided to go against Maxwell’s decision for his own sake. No. There was no point in disagreeing with them. Even if he wanted to be alone, even if he could go alone, it was safer to go together. He would just have to work around Baxter being with him.

And to be honest, that part too was for the best. Admittedly, he didn’t know why, but there was a piece of affirmation. A brief feeling telling Maxwell that yes, this was the right idea.

He would have liked to know why particularly it was, but he could deal with that.

Honestly, it probably wouldn’t be likely that he would have the full picture anymore.

He supposed he would just have to work with what we had.

“Right,” he said, nodding at Baxter. “Going alone would be… a bad idea, right.”

And he looked around. Heard the crack as Baxter got a weapon of his own. Hear the second proposed part of Baxter’s plan.

“Yeah,” he said. “Boarding this place up would be ideal, although...”

He looked at the door. Back at the group.

“If me and Baxter are going we would have to do so before the blockade comes up, so if you’re okay with doing it yourself, Yasmin…”

A confirmation. The specifics were unimportant. All he needed to know was that him and Baxter were leaving now.

“Right,” Maxwell said, turning around and opening the door. “I suppose the two of us will be off then.”

Under the Sycamore Trees
And so the path had been chosen.

Not by her, but that fact didn’t bother her much, at least for now. If she decided to speak, she’d agree about the direction - the cabin was in the middle of the woods, hard to find, it would be a good place to bunker down in - so the fact that she didn’t get a say was ignorable. At least for the time being. It would prove a problem later if she was the only one with the right idea, but right now it seemed as if they were all on the same page. Which was good, of course. It would be an issue if there was disharmony in the group. That could - that would - come later.

Right now, all she needed to do was to follow.

Anybody - even Brigid, with all her screaming and attracting attention - could do that.

“I’ll follow,” she said, looking behind at Brigid as she followed Christopher.

Her partner.

She smiled.

Step one - the first thing she needed to take if she were to be the one who won this game - was complete.

A Pity Sight for the Magpie
The plan was in effect.

It seemed as if Baxter was going to come with Maxwell to explore this island. He supposed that that was a good enough addition to the plan - it would mean that any person Maxwell found who fancied being a serial killer would have a lot harder time killing one of them - so he decided that he would be fine with that. Even though he wished to walk alone - to be honest, he prefered doing group projects alone - he couldn’t deny that there was an intrinsic value to teamwork, especially here. He walked over to Baxter. Looked at the map. If he had to guess, they were in the cabin in the middle of the woods. If he had to guess, the set of tunnels and caves that he could see would likely be connected. Would likely give him mobility around the island.

“Would you like to go through these sets of tunnels, Baxter?” He asked. “If we have to get somewhere quick, it would seem likely that they would be our shortcut.

He saw Daniel, in the corner of his eye. Heard his complaint.

And although he wanted to leave, although he wanted to be safe doing so, he knew that Daniel also had a point. That he and Yasmin would not be safe back in here.

And although he knew that this alliance couldn’t last, he knew he didn’t want the number of people on his side whittled down this early.

And although he knew that staying together - staying with Baxter - was a good plan, he knew that this was his chance to go alone.

He knew that this was his chance to see what this island was like for himself.

“Actually,” he said. “Daniel is right. It would probably be advisable for you to protect the other two while I explore.”

And he could feel a tingle on his skin, the briefest sense of fear enter his body as he thought of what was out there, the idea that he would have to face it alone.

But he shook it off. Squeezed the feeling out.

This was what he wanted.

This was what he needed to do.

“I’m not saying Yasmin can’t fight, but if someone comes in with a gun…”

A Pity Sight for the Magpie
“Right,” Maxwell said, nodding as he picked up Baxter’s knife, as he undid the sheath and looked at the blade. It was large - bigger than his hand - and the silver - the colour of the blade - showed his reflection. Showed his face, trying to smile. Trying to look thankful. To be honest, Maxwell wasn’t entirely sure as to why Baxter would give him the knife like that. Was he giving something that Maxwell could defend himself with? Was he trying to spread battle capability around? Did he seriously believe that he could take on anyone out there with his own bare hands? Maxwell wasn’t sure, and to be honest, he was probably going to have to expect that by this point. All the possibilities in his head, all the possible explanations as to why Baxter would just give his weapon away didn’t add up. Didn’t make sense. Didn’t work, considering the environment.

That didn’t matter, though. The point was he could defend himself now. Fight off others.

Attack, if he had to. If the time was right.

Right now though wasn’t that time. Even though a slight pang of irritation came up as Baxter made that awful joke to Daniel (seriously, even when it was considered actually funny it annoyed Maxwell - enough to the point that it somewhat justified why some people were on the totem pole) he knew that doing anything because of it would be petty. Pointless.

Idiotic, considering where they were. Considering the group Maxwell was with. They had joined up with each other. They were planning to bear this game together. Doing something against that would be doing something against his own survival.

So he supposed, for better or worse, he would have to do something to benefit this group.

Or, at the very least, look as if he was doing so.

“Would it be a good idea if we explore the area around us?” He asked, replying to nobody’s statement in particular. “If we are being pursued, or otherwise have to leave this cabin, it would be a good idea to know where we can possibly go.”

Under the Sycamore Trees
They had both said yes.

They had both accepted her deal.

And that was fantastic for Jasmine. That meant that she had people to travel with. That meant that she had people to protect her. That meant that her chances of surviving this game - at least for these early stages - had just skyrocketed up, had just become even more possible. She knew that this alliance wouldn’t last forever, she knew that she barely knew any of the two people who were going to be with her now, but that didn’t matter. Numbers were numbers. If anyone tried to do anything to her, the odds said that they would be outnumbered. If anyone got a shot off on them, the odds said that it would be less likely to hit her now.

Which made her worry, slightly.

Which made her question why exactly the others were so eager to accept her deal.

Nah, you don’t need to worry about it. You’re finally in a group. That gives you so much of a leg up over the competition. Seriously. You don’t even know how much better off you are.

But that wasn’t the point.

But they could-

Doesn’t matter. Seriously, you’re lucky. Just be happy that something good finally happened to you, girl.

And she supposed that that was true.

And she supposed that if it was the case that they would betray her, throw her in front of a bullet, then she could try to stop that. Try to get up on top of them.

Stand above both of them.

As you deserve.


And she smiled, at the both of them. Looked at Christopher as he asked his question.

Answered:

“We should, yeah,” she said, as she looked around. There wasn’t anybody she could see, but the only point that made was one agreeing with Chris. “Anyone have, um… any particular requests as to where we go?”

A Pity Sight for the Magpie
He could hear the affirmations of the people behind him. He could hear them agree to the idea that yes, staying with each other was good.

And he smiled, as he turned away from the window and the outside world. Towards the three of them - Daniel still on the floor, Brandon holding his knife, Yasmin standing around. The three of them had just agreed with him to form a group, to stay with each other at least until further notice.

And when he’d heard their voices, when he’d heard their agreements, he’d felt a sense of... pride come up within him. The idea of being on this island, the idea of having to play this game felt okay now.

And he knew that this alliance wouldn’t last forever.

And he knew that these people might not have been his ideal ones to work with.

But it didn’t matter. Right now this group, this cabin was fine.

“I’m glad we’re all in agreement.”

He heard Brandon’s question. Nodded at him. Slung his bag off his shoulder onto the ground, in order to show the weapon he had to the other three.

And as he took it out of his bag, as his mind drew attention to what it actually was, he grimaced. Dropped his smile as he brought the familiar yellow outfit out of his bag.

“This is… what I have. Rest assured, I’m… probably not going to use it to fight all that much.”

A Pity Sight for the Magpie
The room had faded to silence.

Not literally, of course. The words revolved around the room - Yasmin trying to speak, Baxter trying to help Daniel, Daniel trying to help himself - but they didn’t include Maxwell, they didn’t grab his attention. Daniel looked to be recovering - Daniel looked as if he didn’t need Maxwell’s help - so Maxwell wasn’t needed by any of the three. Normally, he’d leave the conversation. Normally - at school, at a party, anywhere where the topic of the conversation didn’t interest him - he would go somewhere else. Talk with the people within that conversation. Immerse in topics far more interesting than the one he had previously been in.

And that had been a good option. That had been a socially capable option. Maxwell knew that he was his own favourite topic, but he knew that nobody else thought the same way. He knew that people wouldn’t like it if he made the conversation cater to his whims, so he went to a place where it did. He went to a place where he could talk as freely as he wanted to.

But he couldn’t do that now.

Because there was only one conversation in here. One he wasn’t needed in. One that - as pleasing as it was that Daniel seemed to be alive - didn’t interest him.

Of course, he knew he could leave. The door to this cabin was right there. One movement, one step, and he could go and find another conversation.

But he knew he couldn’t do that.

He knew he couldn’t just leave.

Because it was like what he thought back in the bedroom, back in that moment where he realized where he was, planned what he would do, he knew one thing. He knew he wasn’t going to die here. He knew he wasn’t going to let them win. He knew that there would probably be people fighting already. Killing already. He didn’t want to see those people. He didn’t want to have to risk meeting them. He wanted to be here, with people he trusted. With people he knew were friendly. With the three people on this island that he had met already. That he knew weren’t planning on attacking anything else.

So when Brandon motioned him to look out the window, he didn’t object. He looked. Out the window.

“No people. Only trees,” he said, reporting to the rest of the room as Brandon went over to Daniel. As he said his intention to stay with him.

Maxwell considered that, for a second.

Considered what he was going to say for a brief period longer.

“I would also like to stay, if that’s okay. It doesn’t necessarily have to be in this cabin, but…”

He paused, for a moment.

Considered the next part of his sentence.

“For all I know, everyone else out there could already be trying to kill one another. I think it would be for the best if we didn’t stick our own chances with them.”

Under the Sycamore Trees
Everybody seemed to be okay for the other two people here.

Which was good for Jasmine. Even though she wasn’t really happy about the fact that they were happy, per sae, it was still good. It still made Jasmine happy. She knew she needed to talk to them - she knew she needed to find some sort of group, at least for these early stages - so it was good that they were alright, it was good that they were adjusting. God knew she didn’t want to have to be that person talking to someone while they were screaming. While they were blubbering. While they were generally being hard to talk to so hey, given that the other two seemed calm (well, seemed calm now), that was good for Jasmine. That in particular made Jasmine happy.

So yeah. They were calm. They were talking. Asking her questions. Asking her what she wanted.

It looked like things were working out well for her so far.

Atta girl.

“Yeah, I’ve been doing… okay, I guess. Considering the circumstances and all.”

And she remembered the beach. The rock behind her. The warmth in her eyes. The tears on her body.

And she knew that she was never going to feel that again. Not if she could help it.

“I was thinking of trying to see who could group up with me,” she said, looking at the other two as she lifted the gun in her hands up. “I’ve got this, but, um…”

She paused. Looked around again.

“I feel we need safety in numbers. I don’t think taking… this part of the game alone is a very smart idea.”

Under the Sycamore Trees
Oddly enough, Brigid was not the first person to react to Jasmine’s greeting.

She heard footsteps. Rustling. A voice semi-familiar calling out to the two of them. Jasmine turned her head. Looked for where the noise was coming from. Saw the shape. Saw the boy. Blaine, his name was. He was a boy in the track team. A boy in the orchestra. Jasmine didn’t really talk to him a lot - no real need to, really; he was fairly popular but not a person that Jasmine really needed to talk to - but she’d talked about him. About the rumours. About the sorts of things that he did at parties. Jasmine never really went to them herself - too loud, too chaotic - but every time one had happened, every time she’d seen the results on Facebook, she asked around. Went to someone like Miranda to get the story.

But this wasn’t about parties. This wasn’t about Miranda. This was about Blaine. The boy standing in front of her.

How he was here with her.

How he would be absolutely perfect to work with.

So she puffed her chest. Put on the closest thing she could get to a smile in this situation.

And then watched as Blaine walked right past them, out of sight.



And there was a feeling rising up within her. Biting into her skin. Crawling up the back of her throat.

Did he seriously just-

Did he actually-

Hey, wait, no. Calm down. No point in freaking out. He’s just an idiot. A jackass.

Honestly, he’ll probably be dead in the next few days. Don’t worry about it.


And that was true, she supposed. That was fine. Even if the feeling of anger was still there she could take it. Ignore it. Look at Brigid over here and consider the fact that she was still here. That she had calmed down, that she had-

Third shape.

Third voice.

She turned. Looked. Saw… Chris. He was… a person. Not one Jasmine knew. Not one Jasmine cared about. He was normal. He was boring. He didn’t provide any gossip or anything intelligent or anything else interesting about him so he fell to the wayside.

Well.

Would have fallen to the wayside.

Now that she was here, now that he was with her, it was an entirely new story.

“Hey. I’m, uh, fine. I think it might be, um… nerves, and all.”

Maybe it would be one that worked out well for her.

“Are you doing alright?”

A Pity Sight for the Magpie
And that was confirmation. Daniel was okay. Honestly - again - the idea that he couldn’t was barely even a possibility in Maxwell’s mind but he still felt that relief, he still felt thankful at the fact that his friend - more like an acquaintance, to be honest - was alive. Was likely going to be okay. He wasn’t quite sure why he felt that relief, he wasn’t sure why he was acting as if Daniel wasn’t, but he was going to take that fact, take that relief as it was. There wasn’t any point in doubting himself. There wasn't any point in looking for negatives about the situation. Daniel was likely going to be okay. Brandon seemed that he was friendly now. Those were good things.

And honestly, those were the only things he could really consider as positives to this whole experience.

So he nodded.

Tried to smile.

Tried not to move - tried not to jump right out of his skin - as the fourth voice entered the cabin. Yasmin. Quiet girl. Arty girl. Someone that Maxwell had been in the proximity of, once or twice.

Someone who wasn’t killing them right now. Someone that didn’t seem like a threat to Maxwell.

So he paused. Took a breath as he nodded at Yasmin. Tried to smile again before he answered Brandon’s - Baxter’s; he was Baxter again - questions.

“No. I haven’t.”

A pause.

“Not yet, anyway.”

A Pity Sight for the Magpie
Brandon didn’t respond. Didn’t look back. He just looked down at Daniel. Brought his flashlight out. Was that good? Was that ideal for Maxwell? He wasn’t sure. He didn’t know whether Brandon believed him or not. He didn’t know what would happen if Brandon didn’t believe him. If Brandon would get angry. If there would be a fight.

And he knew that he could just leave, while Brandon was looking the other way. He didn’t have to risk Brandon being angry at him, he didn’t have to risk being here.

But that didn’t seem like the right idea either.

Nothing did.

So he stood there, right next to the doorframe, watching Daniel spasm and shudder to life.

And immediately, he felt a breath come out of his body. A knot in his chest he hadn’t realized he had.

At least Daniel was okay.

At least Maxwell could take solace in that.

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