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Who is this sassy lost child
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((Min-jae Parker continued from The Scarlet Garden))

Jae tried to keep his shivering under control, but the temperature had been steadily dropping for the past few days, and now his hair was damp, as was his shirt. The privacy afforded by the underside of the bridge had been worth the annoying scramble down and even more ridiculous trek back up the slope by its side; the water hadn't done much for the bloodstain down the front of his shirt and the saltwater had stung like hell in all of his myriad injuries, but he was clean-ish for the first time in nearly a week now and soaking his shirts had at least done something for the smell. Re-doing the splint on his leg had been an issue, with only the tape from Samuel's first-aid kit to use, and it was a bit loose now. Not as good as when Vanessa had done it, but it was holding him up. Something had felt loose in his shin when subjected to his first actual exploration of his injured leg since the first day, and though Jae was no anatomy expert, he knew that shouldn't be the case.

When he finally dragged himself back up to the bridge, he had seen her. Even with her back turned to him at a distance, Nadia was instantly recognizable.

She turned at his call and he took a hesitant step forward, absently working his jaw. He had taken all his piercings out; the skin around them was starting to get irritated thanks to six days without removal or cleaning. His tongue felt odd without the weight of the barbel in it, and he kept running it over his teeth expecting to feel the familiar click.

He had reflected on the announcement while bathing. Alvaro was dead, and there was an about time. Michael was dead, and there was an I told you so. Lizzie Luz was dead, and though they had been in school together for a good six or seven years, all he could remember of her was the sight of her tear-stained face as she huddled in the radio tower shack.

Lily Caldwell was an interesting name, more for when and with whom it had been announced than for its own merits. He filed it away along with the other important ones.

None of it felt good like he had thought it might. Alessio and Isabel were still alive, and he still intended to make sure that stopped being the case if (when) he saw them again, but then he would still be here and half-crippled and Henry and Asha would still be dead and Hazel would still exist in that nebulous space where they would probably never see each other again.

But Nadia was here. His last friend.

It was obvious that she wasn't exactly thrilled to see him.
"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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How Easy it was to Lie to Strangers · The Connecting Bridge