Disclaimer- Michael Grant owns Gone.
Brianna chewed hard on her lower lip. She had never been one to mull things over; to think before acting, but this was different. She had put it off for nearly three weeks, but it was time for her to grow a pair.
Metaphorically speaking, of course. The FAYZ did crazy things to people, but she really wasn't ready for that.
She was standing nearby the makeshift camp by the lake. Most of the others were gathering food, building shelters or simply splashing around in the lake, happy to be near so much water. She could see Sam sitting on the shore, his legs dangling in the water, no doubt moping over Astrid's absence.
Brianna had gone for a quick jog out of boredom. Her route had taken her from the lake to the mineshaft to the other side of the Santa Katrina Hills and back. It had taken her about a minute and a half. Perhaps less.
She began to amble towards the camp. However, an ambling pace for The Breeze was speed walking to anyone else, so it was not surprising when she nearly knocked Diana over like a human bowling pin.
"Watch where you're going," Diana snarled from the rock she had seated herself on.
"Sorry," said Brianna, without sounding very apologetic.
Diana had kept to the sidelines since she had joined them. The only person she really talked to was Sam, and even that was a rare occurrence. Brianna didn't really care if she had joined them without the intention of spying or anything terrible; or if Caine had knocked her up. Brianna hadn't liked her when they both went to Coates Academy; she had hated her at the beginning of the FAYZ, and certainly didn't trust her now. Besides, even if she was on their side now, she was still a huge bitch.
She left Diana to sulk and hurried on, now filled with purpose. She ran to Sam in a fraction of a second.
"Hey," she said. "Have you seen Dekka?"
He shot her a strange half-smile. "Yeah, she was at the camp helping Lana build her own shelter."
On condition of living with their group, The Healer had insisted that her shelter be a bit apart from everyone else's. Despite this, Brianna had noted that Lana's chosen space was rather near Sanjit's.
"Okay, thanks," she said quickly, and sped off.
Brianna appeared at Lana's partially finished shelter. Sure enough, she and Dekka were working silently together, Patrick lounging beside them with his big tail slapping at the ground. The two girls and the dog started at Brianna's sudden arrival, but relaxed almost instantly. Lana went back to work, lifting planks for the roof, but Dekka set her planks down.
Brianna felt suddenly awkward. Although they had been by the lake for a while, the last time she had seen Dekka face to face, the older girl had been cut open with insects crawling out of her; her insides displayed as if she was a salad bar at a cannibal convention. And then she had called Brianna over- a move that surprised her, for she rarely interacted with Dekka—and whispered those three shocking words.
"I love you."
Even now, for all her bravado and with Dekka's body intact, Brianna could not look her in the eyes.
"I…" she began, her voice cracking like Computer Jack's sometimes did. "I wanted to talk to you."
Dekka eyed Lana. "Come over here," she said to Brianna, nodding further down the camp.
Brianna didn't really want to be alone with Dekka, but she followed her anyway.
Two girls faced each other, still not making eye contact.
"About what you said—" Brianna began, but Dekka interrupted her, before she could say anything else.
"I shouldn't have told you," Dekka said, finally looking at her. "But I was scared and I thought that I was going to die. If I knew that I wouldn't die, I never would have told you."
Brianna lifted her head, and looked at Dekka, noticing things that she had never taken in before. Dekka's hair had long since grown out of its cornrows, and fell down to her shoulders. She had taken out her nose ring, but Brianna could see a slight discolouration from the scar. Dekka even seemed to hold herself differently, not as sure and strong, as if she still was thinking of being eaten alive from the inside. Really, she looked like she needed a hug.
But Brianna wasn't about to give her one.
You're The Breeze, she told herself. You can do this.
"Well," she started, awkwardly. "I've been thinking a lot about that."
"You have?" Dekka asked. She had gone back to staring at her own shoes.
"Yeah, but, Dekka?"
Brianna curled her hands into a fist, letting her fingernails cut little crescents into the palm of her hand.
"I'm not… I'm not into you. And I'm straight. You know, I was kind of having a thing with Jack."
Dekka quickly looked up, before averting her gaze once more. Her eyes had gone huge and she looked so sad, although Brianna knew she would never cry. Not in public, at least.
"Right," Dekka said quietly, still looking at the ground. "Of course."
Brianna shoved her hands in her pockets. "But we'll still be friends, right?"
"Right," Dekka tonelessly replied.
With a quick nod in Dekka's general direction Brianna sped off, leaving behind a wind that blew at Dekka's hair.
Dekka had psyched herself up for this moment ever since she realized she was in love with Brianna. But rejection still made her feel as if she had been punched in the face.
She was about to dash to her shelter, find a sweater and scream into it for a while, when a rustling sound distracted her.
"Who's there?" She asked roughly, ashamed that her voice sounded like she was holding back tears. "If someone's been eavesdropping, I'll be really God-damned furious."
Toto stood up from where he had been crouching nearby.
"Toto," she said angrily. "What the hell are you doing here?"
"Listening," he said, always truthful.
"Damn it," said Dekka softly, to upset to be truly angry. "Did you hear everything?"
Toto put his hand behind his back, swaying to and fro, ever so slightly. "I heard the words, just not the truth."
"What do you mean?" She asked miserably.
"She lied to you."
"Brianna? About what, wanting to stay friends? Does she actually hate me?"
"No," Toto shook his head, his hair flying out like a halo. "That's not the lie."
"What, then?" Dekka tried again, her voice rising. She thought of a possibility; so wonderful, yet so improbable. "Was she… was she lying about not having feelings for me?"
"Yes," Toto supplied, happy as always to eradicate lies. He walked away, with an odd skip in his step.
Dekka stood by herself for a moment. A smile crept its way up her face, and she went back to Lana, fighting the strong urge to skip away, as Toto had done.