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Zimmy wanted to kill Carver. Split her open from groin to chin and watch everything that was within her flow out, a wash of reds and browns and mysteriously squiggly bits that didn't seem like they could have anything to do with a human. Stamp on her fingers with thick-soled boots until they were so thoroughly shattered that she couldn't possibly raise a hand in her own defense, then nail her feet to a chicory plank in seven places and hang it upside down from the eaves of the Court's highest tower and watch as one by one the nails tore through until at last she fell out of their life (their lives) as swiftly as she'd entered it.

Zimmy wanted it all the more because she'd liked her once, in her own backwards way. Liked her still, maybe, if she didn't hate her so much. Enough to let her sit beside Gamma when she was asleep and defenseless (as if she were ever really defenseless, as if Zimmy wouldn't tear the whole damn world apart if she thought for a second it might be planning to hurt her). Enough to let her find out more about Zimmy's life than anyone aside from Gamma ever should have, not all out of necessity. Zimmy hadn't needed to let Carver follow her out into the rain all those years ago, and she knew it.

She'd liked her, and Gamma'd liked her, and she'd let her get too close, let her stay too close, let them spend some time around her as long as Donlan was nowhere to be found, and it was her fault, it was her fault, it was her fault.

Gamma was talking to other girls, in slow but understandable English that grew better by the day. Normal pretty girls with normal pretty thoughts and words and lives who didn't look like scruffy scrawny sickly little monsters beside her. 'Them's ain't yer friends,' Zimmy wanted to think to her. 'They just like havin' you close 'cos they think you're ugly. 'Cos they think they look better next ta you.'

But she kept the thought to herself, because Gamma could just ask them if it was true now, and they would say no, and they would make her believe them. Even though she only oughta believe Zimmy ever. She oughta know that nobody else would ever love her as much as Zimmy did, so why should she even care what they had to say?

And anyway, with every year that went by that lie got harder to make believable. No one could be prettier than Gamma, not anyone. Anyone who couldn't tell that had to have less in the way of eyes than even the faceless bastards. That was just one more reason to hate the girls she was making friends with, because they didn't seem anything close to properly amazed when they saw her smile or laugh. Because they got her to laugh at all.

Still, she couldn't hate them more than she hated Carver for making it so Gamma could chat with those girls to begin with. It was Zimmy's own fault, for trusting her even a tiny bit and not paying close enough attention to what she and Gamma talked about on their own. For letting her get away with teaching Gamma English, figuring that it wasn't like there was anyone other than Carver she'd be wanting to talk to anyway, and glad, like an idiot, that it would keep them from talking to each other in front of her with words she couldn't understand.

She bet that Carver was the one who had told Gamma to try out the new language on other people, she just bet it. It wasn't something Gamma would've done on her own. She already had the only person in the world that she needed, and Zimmy made sure she never forgot it.

It'd be so much easier if Carver were anyone else. She just had to go and be the one person in the world that Zimmy couldn't do anything too unpleasant to. The one person in the world who could give Gamma a break from time to time, on the days when the dark circles around her eyes grew so deep you could almost think the blacknesss in Zimmy was spreading to her. Couldn't kill her, couldn't hurt her, couldn't even scare her and risk that she'd turn them away the next time Gamma almost had turned her mind into mush by staying awake way too long for Zimmy's sake.

About the only revenge she could think of that she might get away with was stealing some of Donlan's attention the way those girls had taken Gamma's, but Zimmy wasn't about to do that. It might fit the crime, if Zimmy could even get her to give her the time of day, but having to spend time talking with old Big Nose would be just as much of a punishment to Zimmy herself as it was to Carver.

So Zimmy was forced to settle for glaring at the girls Gamma was talking to as fiercely as she could, and wishing for them, and Carver, and every stupid bastard in the world who thought they had a right to talk to Gamma, to just drop off a cliff. One with sharp rocks at the bottom. The mental image was as pretty as a picture, for the short time it lasted before the static began to creep across her mind.

The moment it started, Gamma's head snapped around to face her, and she began walking away from the other girls without even a word of explanation or good-bye. 'Ha! That's right,' Zimmy thought to herself, smirking at the other girls as they looked after Gamma with expressions that were part confused, part insulted. 'She ain't ever gonna be yers like she's mine.' Then she let the thought dissolve away before even a part of it could touch Gamma.

'Are you all right?' Gamma thought to her, obvious worry coloring the impression as she reached out to touch Zimmy's hand and the peace of her mind slowly pushed the static away. 'I'm sorry, I thought a minute or two wouldn't be enough to hurt. Not when I was still so close.'

'Weren't yer fault,' Zimmy responded, swaying towards her in an attempt to get their minds even closer. 'Them's the ones that wouldn't shut up.'

'Only for two minutes, Zimmy,' Gamma told her, and for a moment she seemed tired. Zimmy was suddenly very glad that Carver hadn't had any accidents with cliffs after all, if Gamma was going to be needing sleep soon. 'They were inviting me to a party.'

"They what?" Zimmy said, forgetting herself and shouting the words out loud. "Whadda they think they're doin' I'll bust their skulls open they got no right to ask you out!" she babbled out in a breathless rush without a single pause. If it hadn't been for Gamma's hand tightening around her's she would have gone after them then and there. Made sure they knew that no one got away with messing with Gamma.

'I told them no,' Gamma was quick to reassure her, the touch of her thoughts soothing and warm. 'They... wanted me to go without you. I made sure they understood that that would never happen.' She suddenly blushed faintly, ducking her head. 'At least, I hope that I did. It's hard to think of the right words; I'm not sure if I know them all yet.'

'That don't matter,' Zimmy told her, relieved, and relaxing, and flinging an arm around Gamma's shoulders as best she could with the height difference between them. 'They don't get the picture now, I'll make 'em get it later.'

And it didn't matter that some girls she didn't give a damn about didn't want her around, or that there was a party somewhere that she wasn't invited to. The only thing that mattered was that Gamma was hers, she was hers, she was hers.

And that she hadn't forgotten it yet.