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We're In This Together; private; content warning
Topic Started: Oct 23 2016, 04:28 PM (764 Views)
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And I am still hungry.
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
((Min-jae Parker continued from We're Here Because We're Here))

In the end, it was just Jordan tagging along with Jae and Hazel as they made their slow progress around the area in search of shelter. Lizzie slipped off to look for Ty and Vanessa went her own way to look for her friends now that Jae had found one of his. It was an odd loss, given that she was the only really decent interaction Jae had had here until Hazel showed up, but he wasn't about to stop her from pursuing her own ends. Vanessa could take care of herself.

By the time evening fell, they'd settled on scoping out the vehicle depot for a place to hole up for the night. It seemed less likely to be crowded, and a car was more comfortable than sleeping outside. The three of them settled on a pair of old trucks in one of the garages that were relatively intact and close together; when it came time to sleep, Jae wouldn't be able to comfortably fit in one of the smaller seats with his splinted leg, so he had one to himself while Hazel and Jordan took the other. It was also established that someone should keep watch in shifts, which he volunteered for. Tired as he was, he didn't feel like sleeping.

Jae arranged himself in the truck's back seat, where he’d have the best view of the garage door and anyone approaching from outside. He was farther away from the others than he might strictly have liked, but sitting nearby while they clumped together asleep wasn’t much better than falling asleep himself if something came up. He set to fiddling with things to keep himself from drifting off, clicking his tongue stud against his teeth out of habit, though he found his attention wandering anyways.
"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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He must have spaced out anyway, because even something as harmless as Hazel’s soft whisper made him start. He halfway reached for the baton before realizing who it was and letting his hand drop. He was too jumpy, too on edge to sleep and too tired to really be an effective watchman. Jae sighed softly, scuffing the heel of his boot against the dirty floor of the truck.

“No,” he murmured, “go ahead. Probably not any more comfortable in here, though.” He could dimly make her features out in the darkness, eyes tracing the worried crease of her brow and downturn of her mouth.
"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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“It’s better than being all alone right now,” Jae agreed. He glanced over Hazel’s head at Jordan's sleeping form in the other vehicle before looking back at her. It was weird to think of himself as part of a group, with people he was responsible for. Having to look after others was one part of leadership he’d never been so great at. “I don’t know how they do it either. Sleeping, I mean. Don’t think I’ll feel like it for a while.” He'd felt the same way the previous night too, when it was just him and Vanessa. He'd slept that night, somehow. Tonight, it felt further away than ever.

Hazel sat close, her knee brushing his. If Jae leaned over, he would have been able to smell her hair. He wondered if that was a weird thought to have in this situation. “I guess it’s better for Jordan to sleep than to be cranky and tired when it’s his turn.” Jae was cranky and tired enough for everyone else at any given time, anyway. Hazel’s presence was nice, though. Calming. He preferred her joining him right now over anyone else.
"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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Oh. This was. Well.

They’d kissed before, in the car after Sadie Hawkins, hands in each others’ hair, pressed closer together than you strictly should be while sitting in the school parking lot. Every time he thought back to the dance it brought on a weird cocktail of emotions: his irritation at Scarlett, alternating between fretting and exasperation over Henry, and underlying it all the mantra of don’t fuck this up, don’t fuck this up every time Hazel smiled at him or brushed his hand. Things hadn’t gone any further than making out in the car, but it had felt like a win. This, now…

Jae didn’t know what it felt like. He hadn’t planned on it or worried about the possibility of it like he had during the dance. “I mean,” he mumbled against Hazel’s lips, still off-guard. He pulled back just a hair to speak. “I got the impression. Not, like, in a bad way, you know-”

And this wasn’t the time or the place to stumble over himself, not when school and rumors and what people might think were a million miles away. He turned his hand to twine his fingers with Hazel’s, trying to ground himself.

“I, um,” Jae started, and then kissed her back to shut himself up.
"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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Oh.

That was all he could think, like an idiot. Oh oh oh, look at me I don’t know how to use words. He didn’t know what to think, much less what to say, and everything that came to mind sounded stupid and hurtful, and for all his fumbling where this maybe-relationship was concerned, Jae had never wanted to hurt her.

He was sure that his wide eyes were clearly visible even in the darkness, and parts of him were acutely aware that he hadn’t brushed his teeth in days, that he had a broken hand and busted knee and was generally just really unattractive right now, that there were cameras and someone sleeping nearby, that they were surrounded by death and everything was wrong. He wasn’t ready, for anything. He wasn’t ready to die, regardless of where he believed he’d end up afterwards. He wasn’t ready for this, for Hazel looking at him like that, but-

But he needed it. He needed her, needed to want her. That was what it had always boiled down to. And maybe it didn’t have to be her, but she was sweet, and kind, and had given him a chance that he probably didn’t deserve. He needed someone and in his deepest, darkest thoughts, Jae had always wanted what he wouldn’t let himself have. Now Hazel was right in front of him, pressed close enough in the confines of the truck that they were almost touching, and he couldn’t admit that this hadn’t been what he’d fantasized about no matter how he’d tried to tell himself otherwise.

He reached out with his good hand to lightly press his fingers against her bare side. He couldn’t bring himself to touch her more than that, not yet. “You know, I haven’t- I mean-”
"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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“Yeah,” Jae mumbled, pulling his hand back so that he could slip his own jacket off and discard it to the side. His shirts took a bit more fumbling, a few twinges of pain from his broken fingers as he pulled the fabric over his head and off his arms, but he rushed through it rather than hesitating. It was okay. He was okay. He needed this, and really, he’d never know for sure otherwise, right? Fuck, he could die tomorrow, later tonight, five minutes from now. All his thoughts and suspicions would mean exactly jack shit then. Hazel was right in front of him, and she was real.

His heart stuttered as he watched her undress, unsure if he should try touching her again or where he should do so. He wasn’t sure what to do about his pants either, what with the splint taped to his leg. “You’re beautiful,” he whispered, trying to cover the silence between them and his own hesitation. It felt like something he should say.
"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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She always made him feel clumsy. He never knew the right thing to say, to do, couldn’t focus on anything other than how much he wanted to want her. This time when she kissed him, he leaned into it like he was supposed to and slid his arm around her, pressing his hand to the small of her back and pulling her closer. He could feel the goosebumps on her skin, how she shivered slightly, and it made him feel a little better about the fact that he was shaking too.

“I’m fine,” he whispered back, and repeated it to himself mentally. He was fine. This was fine. It was good, even, maybe the last good thing he’d get to have in life. Jae pulled in a deep breath as Hazel’s bra fell loose onto his chest, and he moved it out of the way with the rest of their clothes. He reached up slowly and skimmed his thumb over the dip of her collarbone before moving his hand lower, eyes moving between Hazel’s face and her body as he touched her breast, feeling her heartbeat under his fingertips. “Is this okay?”
"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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Jae nodded wordlessly in response to Hazel’s rhetorical question, swallowing thickly as her hand moved down his body.

That… felt nice. That was a good sign. This was good. It would be fine, it would make sense. He just had to let it happen.

“Here, let me…” He pulled his hands away from her again to undo his belts (and why had wearing two belts at once ever seemed like a good idea?), discarding them and the baton in the pile of their clothes. “I can’t, um, take them off all the way, but…” He undid the button and zipper of his jeans and pushed them down his hips a bit. Somewhat emboldened, he touched her chest again, with both hands this time. “Tell me what feels good, okay?”
"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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Jae let Hazel’s weight press him down, leaning back on one arm and tilting his chin up to accommodate her. He kept that arm braced against her, trailing his fingers over the bumps of her spine, and moved the other hand over her breasts, her side, her stomach, trying to gauge her reaction from the soft noises she made. He felt warmer now, as his body reacted to her and urged his mind to give up control for once.

(Not for the first time, but he wouldn't think of that, not now.)

He didn’t know all that much about positions or anything like that, but letting Hazel take the lead like this would probably work best with all his injuries. Jae slowly slid down so that he was fully lying on the seat, pressing his lips to her forehead and temple as she kept kissing his skin. He had the fleeting thought that he should be making some kind of more enthusiastic noise than gasping when anything Hazel did really got a reaction, but the mental image of Jordan waking up and seeing them like this put that to rest. He whispered to her instead, little fragments of sentences and her name to urge her on.
"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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“Ah…” Jae bit down on his lower lip to keep from making any further noise as Hazel touched him - really touched him, in a way nobody else ever had, regardless of drinks or confused encounters at parties.

It was good. It was good. He squeezed his eyes shut and repeated it, over and over.

He wanted her. He had to, his body was telling him so.

He wound his fingers into her hair, urging her head up off his chest to kiss her again. “Do you want to…?” His voice was rough and shaking, and it was a little late to get around to asking, but he needed to know that she needed it too.
"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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Their fingers were entwined so tightly it was actually kind of hurting his hand, but he didn’t voice a complaint. It was good. It was…

He couldn’t keep looking her in the eyes. He let his eyelids slide closed and tried to just follow the sound and the feel of her, hoping that he was moving in a way that was natural. He felt like he should say something, but he couldn’t concentrate long enough to string the words together.

Jae tried to keep touching her, brushing his hand over her thigh and up her stomach, doing anything that he vaguely felt like he was supposed to be doing, staring into the darkness instead of Hazel’s face when he opened his eyes again.
"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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Hazel kissed him again and breathed out his name, and Jae felt like a goddamn idiot because he couldn’t think of anything to say but stop and he couldn’t say that, not now. Instead he kissed her back to the best of his ability and squeezed her hand, and he hoped more than anything that it was at least good for her.

He thought that maybe he should warn her of how close he was to the edge, but all he could think was stop and I’m sorry so he bit his lips and only made a weak noise, tightening his grip on her hand for just a moment before falling still.
"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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The thing was, he wanted to love her. He wanted everything to make sense and for this to be the right thing for them to do. He’d taken things so far already.

So he turned his head and kissed her and whispered, “Yeah, I do.” The sudden peak of feeling was fading now, and Jae was gradually becoming aware of the fact that he was exposed and sweaty, and the friction of Hazel’s skin against his suddenly felt uncomfortable. But he wrapped his arms around her and kissed her again, and he tried to mean it.
"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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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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