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Who is this sassy lost child
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Well shit.

Things had been going well up to this point, right? He'd been ready to say that he was totally down for going to see Hazel's play, he was trying not to read too much into an invitation to hang out after work - getting to bitch about lousy customers to someone who would actually listen was appealing, regardless of what else did or didn't happen, and he wasn't entirely sure if he felt that way about Hazel anyway - and then this.

"I'm fine." The words were out of his mouth almost before he thought them, even though it was clearly not true. "I mean, I'm just tired." Jae took another deep breath, but all of the very visible attempts to relax himself were probably not doing much to convince Hazel. Fuck, why couldn't he just have had more self control in the past few days so he didn't run out of smokes? He'd underestimated how used to it he was getting.

He balled one of his hands into a fist and focused on the feeling of his nails digging into his palm to try and bring himself out of the slippery, dangerous feeling of losing control of a situation. If he let this thing with Hazel (whatever it turned out to be) go to shit just because he'd let things slip just this one time, he'd never stop being furious with himself.

The pause in conversation had stretched out too far past natural to be anything but awkward now, but Jae doubted that Hazel was going to let him just leave things there. "Look, don't... don't think badly of me, okay? I think I've been smoking too much lately." He lowered his voice for the last part; there was hardly anyone besides the two of them in the Treehouse right now, but the possibility his smoking habit getting back to his parents was one thing that Jae absolutely allowed himself to be paranoid about in light of all the hell he'd catch for it.

"It's fine, though. I'll be fine. I don't feel bad, really, just... jittery. I'm mostly just tired, like I said." He glanced back at Hazel to try and gauge her reaction. He thought that she looked more worried than mad or upset, but he couldn't be sure until she said something.
"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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