"We tried to be better, but we aren't. I don't think anyone could last more than a week here if they weren't willing to do bad things." - Alba Reyes

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“A long week, huh? Well, I won’t press you to tell me anything, but I’m here for you if you wanna talk or if I can help, okay?”

Inwardly, Hazel couldn’t help but realise just how much she was sounding like her mother when she spoke. Eu-ji’s parenting style had always been to reassure her daughter that she was there for her, but never to force a response out unless it was clearly necessary. It worked for the most part, and Hazel couldn’t help but apply the same reasoning to her friends – especially to those she was closest to. She really did hope that whatever had dragged down Jae’s mood was minor, but knew at the same time that trying to desperately wrangle a clear-cut answer out of him would likely have the opposite of her intended effect.

“And… I’ve been good,” Hazel replied to his final query, adjusting her seat so as to sit more comfortably. “Not too much has been going on. Studying, work, etc. I’ve got a track meet next Saturday, which should be exciting, though, and an audition tomorrow for The Laramie Project at the local theatre. So if that pans out well then hopefully I’ll actually have something interesting to talk about.”

She refilled her glass from the half-empty pitcher of water situated on the table, and took a long sip from it, smiling as the cool liquid trickled down her parched throat. Despite the refreshing breeze wafting into the room from the air conditioner affixed to the wall above the duo, the heat of the day was still somewhat getting to her. She figured much of that was likely due to how covered up she was, and although being overheated would be a good excuse to remove a layer or two, Hazel had decided early on that her clothing for this date – study date – ought to be fairly conservative. She didn’t want to seem like too much of a try hard, wanted things to go slowly, wanted herself to be perfectly happy if this whole rendezvous ended up with them remaining purely friends with nary of spark of romance between them.

After finished her water, Hazel picked up the spare glass she’d prepared just in case and offered to Jae, along with the pitcher.

“Water?”
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