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Being a degenerate is okay these days
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There needed to be something else Jae could say, something to back it all up. He searched and came up with nothing. Hazel whispered her thanks to him and it sounded like it might have been genuine, but then she sighed and pulled away from him completely.

That was it, then. No fireworks. Not even the comfort they’d both been desperately looking for. Just a few minutes of gasping and sweating in the back of a vehicle, and then Jae laying there with a cold knot of regret in his stomach as the last few shreds of their would-be romance died and dissipated like so much smoke.

He let Hazel have her space before moving to re-dress himself. He didn’t want to look directly at her. She lingered for another minute while they said nothing, and then slipped out of the truck and returned to where Jordan lay sleeping. She didn’t touch him again, and he almost ached at the lack of the expected friendly brush of her hand over his shoulder.

Jae didn’t know how much longer he sat there alone before the enclosed space became stifling. He felt sick at himself, confused, scared, everything he hated feeling. He clenched his fists, ignoring the pain it sent through his injured hand. He hated feeling like this. He hated this situation and the people who had put them here. He hated himself right now, and a tiny part of him hated Hazel too.

That was the last straw. He couldn’t stay here, not feeling like that. Step one of any anger management technique he’d ever been walked through: remove yourself from the situation if you can. Jae slowly unfolded himself out of the truck, careful to not make any extra noise. He grabbed his bag and unzipped it as quietly as possible, grabbing a handful of the energy bars they’d been given. He crept over to the other truck where Hazel was now sleeping and left the bars in a haphazard pile next to her. After a moment’s thought, he slid his jacket back off and draped it over her like a blanket. A promise.

She’d know he wasn’t going away forever. He’d come back, as soon as he calmed down and cleared his head. She had to get it; even with how much they might have messed things up, she’d always understood him better than most. She would understand that right now, he needed to be alone and he needed to be angry. If he was angry enough, he didn’t have room to be scared and ashamed.

Jae kept telling himself that, nursing the small sparks of his anger into a flame as he fled into the night.

((Min-jae Parker continued in Into the Veil))
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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