"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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Being a degenerate is okay these days
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Relief so strong that it was almost a physical sensation washed over Jae. Praise be to Hazel Jung, Jae's lady and savior, who was not mad (or worse, disappointed) but instead had exactly what he needed. The corners of his mouth twitched into a lopsided smile when she called him sweet, too; she had to be one of maybe three people tops who thought so, but it was still nice to hear.

"That would be fantastic if you have some, actually." He moved to rub a hand over his face, caught himself before he smudged his makeup all over, and instead pressed his knuckles to his forehead in the spot over his left eye where a headache was forming. "I don't usually get like this, I just... lost track of stuff, I guess." He was tempted to reach over and squeeze her hand in gratitude, but that might be taking things too far for just a borrowed cigarette.

Jae had never completely gotten over the surprise he'd felt when he realized that Hazel actually liked him, in a friendly way or otherwise. Not in an "I can't believe a girl like you would notice me" kind of way, but a "This doesn't completely jive with what I thought of you before" way. Before they'd gotten to know each other, he'd assumed that Hazel was sort of stuck-up, running around with those other Korean girls like she did (and he'd had more than enough of Korean girls looking down on him for being half-white, thanks) and the Anti-Bullying Committee, and all the rumors about her and whoever the boy of the week was this time. But she didn't get on his case for his social skills or lack thereof, and she listened, and there were the things like the hidden pack of cigarettes in the break room that put a few spots of tarnish on that spotless, self-righteous image that he'd had of her.

He liked it.

"If you go get the Lucky Strikes, we could go out back for a few minutes, talk some more?" Jae needed that cigarette like nothing else, and anything that delayed homework for a few more minutes was a good thing. And it wasn't like he was in unpleasant company or anything, either.
"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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