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I know my soul's freezin', Hell's hot for good reason; open once boogie gets in here
Topic Started: Mar 8 2017, 10:13 AM (760 Views)
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((Min-jae Parker continued from How Easy it was to Lie to Strangers))

The bleeding had stopped by the time Jae decided to take a detour to the cabin for a rest, though that seemed to be mainly because it had congealed and stuck his shirt over the gash. He staggered into the living room area and unceremoniously dropped his belongings to the floor before collapsing into the nearest chair. He leaned his head back and closed his eyes, just taking a moment to catch his breath.

He could still see Nadia in the instant before she disappeared over the edge of the bridge. Asha's staring eyes and the gaping wound in her throat. Henry lying gutted on the floor. Samuel, beaten beyond recognition. Hazel's silhouette, moving away from him in the darkness.

Make the right choices. Like he even knew what those were. The really right choice probably would have been to kill himself as soon as he woke up and get it all over with as soon as possible. But he was still here.

Jae sat up with a groan and peeled his shirts off, wincing as the fabric pulled away from the cut on his ribs and started the bleeding anew. He hadn't had a seriously bloody wound yet, but how long would he be alright if he kept getting cut up bit by bit? His diet certainly wasn't good enough right now to replace all that he was losing.

After a moment's consideration, he balled up the long-sleeved fishnet shirt he had been wearing under his t-shirt and tossed it away with an annoyed sigh. It was mainly getting in the way at this point.

As he cleaned and bandaged the gash on his side, he wondered how Vanessa was holding 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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((Cass stood frozen in the bedroom, trembling hands covering their mouth.))

They couldn’t breathe. They could breathe in a technical sense and fill their lungs and exhale and live for a few minutes more, but if they did then it would reaffirm their existence and if they existed they could be noticed by whatever or whoever was out there now, separated only by a rotting wooden door whose lock had long failed, and Cass never really thought about how loud their breathing was but it couldn’t be that loud, could it, but maybe just because it was something they never thought about that meant they never heard it, they knew their breathing should be there so they didn’t hear their breathing but the person out there didn’t know, so it would be new and unexpected and clearly audible and Cass breathed again for they could only hold their breath for so long before their inhaling became a loud and desperate gasp which would be heard, and the person out there didn’t seem to be moving so maybe they hadn’t heard but maybe they were just waiting, maybe they just knew Cass was trapped and they were enjoying themselves, like Isabel-

A pencil and notebook sat on the bed next to them. Cass had found it in the doctor’s office where they had spent the night, once the darkness and the cold had overcome their hatred of the confined asylum and the “people” it held; but by that point it had been too dark to draw, and by the time it was light enough to see again they found that they couldn’t focus, that their hands were unsteady and their wrist hurt and that everything came out wrong, ugly, it wasn’t their art it couldn’t be their art this couldn’t be the last thing they ever made, and they kept trying and trying but it never got any better and eventually they gave up entirely because they didn’t want to disfigure any more innocent paper and it felt like finally giving themself up because who knew if they would ever have another chance to sketch with a clear head, who knew if they could even aspire to be “kind of okay” again, they were an artist and that was the only thing they had left and the only thing they were good for but when even after days of longing they couldn’t do anything worthwhile with the miraculous paper and pencil they had been granted when so many others were dead-

Cass hadn’t slept.

They had tried, at first; but then they had gotten to thinking that they didn’t have Trav now, that anyone could find them at their most helpless. That when waking up wasn’t a given, falling to sleep was a hell of a lot like dying. That they weren’t sure if it’d be more frightening to have their final moments be a dreamless void, or an inconsequential and irrelevant jumble created entirely by their subconscious. Though death was still a paralyzing terror, at some point living had become less important than being fully conscious of their demise.

After the announcements that insulted Trav’s memory one last time but blessedly confirmed Clarice’s continuing existence, Cass had left the asylum again, clutching the notebook close and carrying their two bags; hoping that the cold air would sufficiently replace rest with a chilling artificial alertness. It would have been safer to keep the notebook in a bag, but their hazy mind feared that if they stopped touching it, left it out of their sight for even a minute, that it would disappear.

Sadly, the only thing the wind did was once again make Cass regret their choice of clothing; now very tired and very cold. They had ducked into the hunting cabin for shelter, fought the urge to just collapse onto the bed. Had only just began to settle in when they heard someone else enter the building.

After another few minor freakouts, Cass took a deep breath. They couldn’t just stand there forever, both in a philosophical sense and because they were starting to sway on their feet and collapsing would be a pretty unambiguous way to draw attention to themself. All they had to do was figure out who, exactly, was out there. From the sounds of things, it was a guy out there; but even if it couldn’t be Clarice there was still hope of him being someone vaguely friendly.

They crept up to the bedroom door, hoping to press their ear against it to hear… something helpful? Unfortunately, their sense of balance had been entirely ruined, and instead of leaning in, they leaned against the door; opening it and bringing Cass with it, sending them to the floor with a quiet “Fuck!”

In a panic, they scrambled backwards until their back was against the wall, and found themself staring directly at the grotesque, battered body sitting in the living room chair. It moved. Cass shrieked.
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Jae wasn't alone. He should have realized, of course, should have searched the area before getting comfortable, but he had still seen Nadia falling, so caught up in replaying it over and over in his head that he had momentarily forgotten how easily he could be next.

He hadn't reloaded the crossbow, but he grabbed for it anyway before realizing that the staff would probably be more useful, and fuck, he didn't want to die half-undressed-

They locked eyes, Jae half-hidden behind the chair and clutching the unloaded crossbow and his... would-be assailant? Well, she wasn't doing much assailing, sprawled on the floor and all. She looked more likely to start crying than attacking.

"Cass?"
"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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"...Min-jae?" Cass said, hesitantly lowering the arms they had instinctively raised to protect their head. They flinched again when they saw his crossbow, but after a moment realized that it wasn't being pointed at them.

After, well, everything else; their brief meeting with Jae and Vanessa on the roof hadn't really crossed Cass's mind much. It'd been uncomfortable, but a normal, everyday sort of uncomfortable. Ten-to-twenty minutes of silence and awkward shifting drowned out by hours of a blissful, dreamlike peace with Trav before reality had gotten around to finding them again.

If Cass's heart hadn't still been racing with the very real dread of the grave, it'd almost be funny how it had only taken five days to bring the both of them from a smoke break on the roof among strangers to jumping at shadows and taking cover behind furniture at the slightest provocation. Cass's bandaged wrist paled in comparison even to what Jae had been through on that first morning; and it looked like he had picked up some new wounds along the way on top of that, not to mention the legions of horrors that had undoubtedly fought to poison his thoughts since the last time they met.

He had killed someone, hadn't he? Fatigue and adrenaline made it difficult to remember who or when it had been, but they could have sworn that his name had crossed the announcements once. Only once, though; which was enough for Cass to relax a little for now. Along with Wade, Jae was probably the only person they had already seen on the island that they didn't mind running into again. It was a relief to see that Vanessa wasn't with him; a thought that immediately made Cass hate themself just a little bit more. They were missing their rooftop companion as well, and who was to say that Jae's didn't have a similarly tragic reason for her absence?

"I'm - fuck, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to startle you but I heard noises and I was just, like, trying to figure out what was going on because I didn't know who you were and I didn't know how loud my breathing was so you could have been, like, trying to like fuck me up out here or something because everyone here's fucked up but now that I know it's you I don't think you were, so, sorry for assuming the worst, it's just," Cass half-said, half-mumbled; their brain forming complete and coherent sentences that had lost their way en-route to their mouth; ultimately coming out sideways.

"Yeah."
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"...Yeah," Jae agreed. Cass's words might have been jumbled, but he understood the sentiment. After a moment's pause, he set the crossbow down and pulled his shirt back on over his head. He nearly asked where Travis was hanging around at, before he remembered the announcement. So Trav was dead too, another face in the crowd until Cass showed up in front of him. From that bandage on her wrist, she hadn't gotten away from Trav's killer totally unscathed.

"I'm not going to try and fuck you up, if you're still wondering," he added, dropping into the chair again, slouching down with his arms over the sides and his legs splayed out in front of him. If it had been Alessio in that room, or Isabel, or hell, maybe Kimiko or Caedyn or some other name he had heard, maybe. But Cass? He knew Cass. Not well, not enough to discount any potential murderous intent (oh, hadn't he just learned that lesson all too well) but so long as she kept her distance they should be fine.

Distance, that was what he had been reduced to. An island unto himself, because he couldn't trust anyone else to get in close without trying to capitalize on it.

But he kept seeking people out. Hazel, Vanessa... he still wanted to see them again, to see anybody in a way that wouldn't explode into violence. He ought to know better by now.

"Sorry about Travis," he said, for lack of anything better. They had made a nice couple, while it lasted.
"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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"...Thanks. I am, too," Cass said, choking up for a moment. Sympathy was a strange thing to receive when everyone still alive had to have someone to mourn, just by the sheer weight of the dead. The simple humanity of Jae's sentiment had caught them off guard; reminded them that normal people felt things other than numbness and fear. Reminded them that even though everyone else was suffering, too; that didn't make Cass's grief any less valid.

Unfortunately Cass was too fucking tired to really do anything with this reminder except to try and commit even a single detail of it to memory as it flew by, so they instead picked themselves off the floor and settled down in a chair facing opposite Jae; vaguely glad that he had put his shirt back on. They wished that they had known him well enough to offer a condolence in kind, but they didn't, and a generic 'Sorry about... everything?' would have felt artificial, no matter how warranted it was.

Sitting down had been a mistake, Cass realized as they struggled to keep their eyes open. They had started coming down from their adrenaline high when they had first recognized Jae; and in its place there was nothing left but a pressure behind their eyes trying to force them to let themselves relax and sink back into blissful darkness. The chair was more comfortable than they had bargained for, and their wrist still ached and they couldn't find the willpower to stand up again.

Cass was no stranger to going to bed later than they should, but that had always come from some sort of purpose. When they were immersed in painting and it would be physically unbearable to tear themselves away from it for another night and day, to spend their school day with their brain stuck back on their canvas at home, living with the rest of their life out of focus until they returned. But there had been an end in sight; a definite point in time where Cass knew that their sleepless trance would be over and they could safely pass out in bed. But now, they would keep going until they either passed out where they stood or died. It wasn't sustainable, but they could think of no alternative. Not when their final conscious moments were at stake.

Silence was dangerous now. Empty spaces were an invitation to drift away; and thoughts and willpower just weren't enough anymore. Cass began to ramble.

"Does it, uh, ever freak you out that you can't remember falling asleep? Like, you can remember being tired and in bed and you can remember waking up, but everything in between is just kinda... gone. Or it's filled by hallucinations but you're never sure how or when they started? Like, it's such a big part of our lives but it's just like, fundamentally something we can't do. You can't be conscious about being unconscious. And it's just, like. Shit, man. Is that what fucking dying feels like?"
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Jae frowned absently, mulling over Cass's sudden babbling. "I don't know," he said finally. "Maybe it'd be kind of nice if that was the case, but I don't know if I believe it." Death by suffocation, perhaps, or drowning, or... well, most ways that people here weren't dying. Slipping quietly off without anyone noticing, quicker and easier than falling asleep. It sounded like the sort of thing that people made up to make themselves feel better.

It occurred to him too late that maybe Cass was still thinking of Trav, hoping that he had been able to find some peace as he died. Jae scuffed his boot along the floorboards, tapping his tongue against the inside of his teeth. "I guess... does it matter more what dying feels like, or what there is afterwards?"

Jae looked back at Cass, sitting up and leaning forward with his elbows on his legs. "Like- so in Buddhism, when you're reborn, you don't remember your past life or lives. Maybe parts of them come back to you eventually, but you might not even know it, they're dreams or deja vu or whatever. So maybe however you died is just like... a nightmare. A bad dream, and then you wake up and forget about it."

Would that be better? To wonder who you were, what you had done, how you had died? Jae had never really considered it himself before, but... fuck, that was a lot to process.

"Do you believe in an afterlife?"
"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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"No. Maybe? I don't - does 'I'm scared shitless of the alternative' count as a yes?" Cass laughed a bit as they finished their sentence, tired and desperate and the first time they had actually laughed at anything ever since they had woken up on the island, a realization that sent them that much closer into hysterics. They thankfully caught themself at the precipice of echoing Jae and Vanessa at the roof's edge; regaining control of their breathing in a miracle of concentration after only a few moments of laughter.

Ha! Existential dread. Definitely one way to help keep yourself awake. They was kind of confused by Jae's comment of finding comfort of equating sleep and death, but at least he didn't seem to buy into it either? Everything else was kinda... a lot to unpack.

"Like, my parents are both agnostic and so I wasn't really ever like, exposed to it as a kid, and now that I'm older I've just, never really felt the need to believe in shit? But I mean, I also wasn't planning on dying this early, so." Another harsh laugh.

It wasn't as if Cass had anything against religion. Marco was some flavor of Christian, and he admitted that he'd mostly just been raised that way, but even then they had still seen it bring him comfort over the years, to think that there was some sort of reason behind everything beyond the fucked up whims of nature and humanity bringing indiscriminate beauty and tragedy to all within their reach. It still seemed... alien. Like the majority of the world could just feel something Cass couldn't. Hadn't been the first or only thing to make them feel defective, but it was hard to escape.

"But like, if we all get reborn like you're saying, is it still us? Like, how much of me is like, intrinsic to my soul or whatever and how much of me is my family and my friends and my country and my probably fucked up brain chemistry that makes me feel sad and empty most of the time?"

...They hadn't exactly meant to say that last part. The more tired Cass was, the harder it became to keep their thoughts and their words separate once they started talking.
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"That's why a lot of people go with believing in an afterlife, I guess. The alternative is... I dunno." Jae didn't know what to say to Cass's sudden admission that she was depressed and opted to ignore that part completely. "As for the other thing... people argue about whether or not there really is a 'soul' or whatever, but I think there's got to be something like that. You still have to be you, or else it doesn't mean anything to get reborn. That's why what you do sticks with you, and not whatever anyone else does."

Jae's hand went to his mouth, habitually moving to fiddle with the lip rings he was no longer wearing, and he dropped it back once he realized. "Whatever you get the next time around, you earned it. You can't blame it on God being arbitrary or biased or whatever. No eternal punishment for being gay or eating the wrong kind of meat or anything like that. It's all on you." And really, wasn't that more comforting? You made your own destiny out of the foundation you had built before. No "God moves in mysterious ways" crap when anything bad happened.

"And even if it's shit, it's not forever. Even if you go to Hell - and if you're in Buddhist Hell, you deserve to be there, believe me - that's not eternal. It's a long fucking time, and you're going to be suffering for whatever you did to get there, but - I guess it's more like going to prison than anything. You do your time, and then you get another chance to start over and do better." Of course you didn't normally spend a lot of time actively getting tortured or freezing to death or literally being on fire in prison, but Jae didn't think that part would be particularly fun for Cass to hear. He wasn't exactly fresh on all the separate layers of Hell in Buddhist cosmology anyway, at least not enough to really try explaining them.

"I guess what I'm saying is, nothing lasts forever, and to me that's a good thing. You keep moving, and you'll eventually get through it and get to try again. Even if you're in Hell."
"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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((Dot stumbled in her ugly dream.))

She gave up on screaming Lucilly's name in different intonations. If she heard Dot massacre her name, she would probably be running up to her and correcting her. That being said, her necklace misspelled her own name so maybe she didn't care. She would find her in due time and get a plan to stop getting separated. She didn't want her taller friend to run around weaponless especially now that Dot took her weapon which happened to be a dirty magazine.

She was tired. She had walked a lot. She was out of shape before entering the island but now she was out of shape and exhausted. The days she spent here felt like years. They never seem to end and when they did, the horror started back again. The vicious cycle didn't help Dot to feel safe which meant she didn't really sleep.

She never let herself fall into the arms of sleep. She stayed trapped in dreams and nightmares, unknowingly confusing her reality. She wondered if what was around her real.

If she turned around, would the world still be there? Would anything still be there? Her parents would still be watching? Her family and friends at home would still be worrying?

She wasn't sure so she kept walking. Heading toward the building that was called the hunting cabin. Maybe inside there'd be bed to rest in? Napping on the ground again would suck but sleeping in a bed would be nice. She wondered about her room back home. She craved those lazy Sunday's that she spent in her room sleeping. Yesterday should have been one. Yesterday should have been a day where she did nothing but eat junk food and talked to her friends online.

Instead she spent the day in a padded room, a solitary confinement of some sort. The person who won the game would probably be sent there. Like, maybe forever. Everyone would go insane from spending too much time here, on this island, hearing about your friends' deaths and their killers. Maybe she was too tired but she didn't care anymore. She just walked and reached for the door.

She heard voices inside. She rolled her eyes. She didn't need that. She wanted a bed and to sleep in it. She twisted the doorknob and pushed the door gently with her blade. Hopefully it wasn't someone too mean. If they were mean, she could just shoot one with her taser and like stab the other.

Or something.

She looked at the blade. She mugged it from someone who she just tased. Was that bad? Probably. Did she care? Absolutely not.

She saw the two people. One was someone she didn't recognize and the other was someone who left her for dead. She peered through the crack of the door, looking at them carefully. Sitting on chairs, looking a bit unarmed and not really threatening. Where was Jae's crossbow and what was the other androgynous person's weapon? Probably in their bags.

She opened the door.

''Hi Jae. You left me for dead. Give me one reason not to tase you.''
Edited by Leaf, May 20 2017, 01:18 PM.
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"That sounds... nice, actually," Cass said, glad that Jae had the mercy to just ignore the extra crushing void in the room that they had carelessly introduced. It had felt oddly liberating to say out loud; but any such relief was immediately drowned out by worries that it hadn't been an accident, they just wanted pity, even though they had done nothing to deserve it and Jae had no obligation to care, and even then this entire talk of the afterlife was for Cass's benefit, wasn't it, and it had actually been working for a little bit before they just had to abuse the fact that their composure was completely falling apart because they knew] that it'd be easier to talk, harder to think, they knew and they still hadn't done anything to try and prevent it, content to just accept the burden they'd place on anyone with the misfortune to have to listen to them-

Jae was still talking. It'd be even more unforgivable for Cass to be so self-absorbed that his efforts were wasted, even if they were for a waste of a person. They sat on the edge of their seat and listened.

"Still, I dunno how much I like the thought of just... like, that the instant I die I'll forget everyone I've ever loved? Like none of it ever mattered at all? It sounds lonely, even though I wouldn't ever even know it, but that just makes it seem even... lonelier, I guess. Thinking of all the people my like, past self wouldn't ever have wanted to part with."

Soon after Cass finished that particular meandering bit of philosophy, an unfamiliar girl with a knife and a taser walked into the room; making their talk of death and the afterlife a bit more immediately concerning than it had been even before. Was this what the rest of their life would be, being violently flung between physical dread and existential emptiness?

All they could do for now was raise their hands and slump back into their chair, hoping to make it clear they weren't a threat. "...Please don't?"
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For fuck's sake.

Okay, honestly? Jae had sort of completely forgotten about Dorothy for a bit there. There was a lot of shit going on, she hadn't been on the announcements, and he had just kind of filed her away in the back of his mind in a folder labeled "Not My Problem".

And now here she was again, making herself his problem.

Frankly, if he had known that she was just going to barge in and threaten him with the taser for the cardinal sin of leaving it to her, he wouldn't have bothered.

"...Because if you do, I'm going to knock you on the head as soon as I get back up." Jae said flatly, gesturing to both the staff and the baton. Actually, Dorothy was sort of... round. He could probably push her over with the staff from a distance and then she'd be stuck on her back like a turtle.

He pushed that absurd and very rude mental image away and continued, "I didn't leave you for dead. There was nobody dangerous in the area, I left you weapons and supplies, and you weren't even hurt." He glanced over at Cass, now cowering in her chair. So much for those two minutes or so of peace.

"So put that away and chill the fuck out."
"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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Maybe threatening Jae wasn't a good idea. She kinda liked him, sometimes. He was nice to Asha and she was happy when he was around her so she was glad to have him around when she was still alive. Now, she was dead and Jae was right in front of her. She had no reason to be nice to him. He was a dick to people and he murdered someone. She didn't feel like wasting a shot on him. She needed to reassure the person next to him though.

''I'm not here for you,'' she started smiling, ''just don't get involved, okay?''

Her smile dropped when she processed what Jae said. What a dick.

''Okay you vampire freak. First of all, if I tase you I'll probably sit on you or something so that you can't do that.''

She rolled her eyes.

''And second, I'll chill when I get what I want. I just...''

She took a break.

''I just wanted a...''

Maybe if she wanted an apology, she should have been nicer than like threatening him. Dot remembered he didn't work well under that kind of pressure. Wasn't it the reason why he killed that other guy? Because the guy had a crossbow and he felt endangered? Maybe threatening him was really a bad idea.

She wanted an apology for what again? Leaving her there? He just explained why he did it and she had no reasons to really be angry at him anymore.

''I'm sorry. You scared me and that sucked.''

She pouted. Being mean was hard, she wanted to go back at being nice. She sighed and gave up on that option.

''And the time after that was worse. I tased two people. Someone who was nice and someone else who we met already, Alessio. That's where I got the sword, by the way. Or is it a knife? I don't know anymore.''

She lowered her weapons.

''Oh and he was like really close to here. Like... one of the housing places like behind me. He tried to ambush me but I got him first. He's not dead though.''

She intentionally forgotten about the gun. Maybe she should have taken it but she didn't trust herself with it. That was a mistake. She should have taken it and dumped it somewhere like in the ocean or something. Nobody could touch it there and mess around with it. That was a nice plan. Maybe she should head back and tase him again and get it the gun.

That was a lot of maybe's and if's. She put back her taser in her bag then apologized.

''I'm really sorry. I won't do it again.''

She looked at her bladed weapon.

''I can't put it in my bag because it's, uh, too big and may cut my stuff and like I got some soft stuff in it and I don't want it to get ruined.''

Well, there was two things she didn't want to be teared apart and those were the mementos from her previous allies. Asha's flower and Lucilly's magazine. She wanted to keep them safe. They were, in a way, something that represented them. Well, not really for Lucilly but the irony was hilarious.

Yeah, maybe she needed to chill. She closed the door behind her and then she tried to make small talk.

''Hum so, who is that?''
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Cass began to dissolve into their seat, hands and torso burrowing deep into the cushioning as they shrank away from the conflict. They didn't want Jae to get hurt after he had gone out of his way to talk to them for even a little while, but they didn't want to see anything happen to Dorothy, either; even if they didn't know her. They didn't know what she and Jae had been through together, what they had done to each other, but they were already long weary of even the threat of violence. Even though it was clear neither was looking to start any trouble with Cass themself, the sort of safety that let you hear the screaming from outside the filthy cage you had sought refuge in still killed you slowly.

Still, Cass had no weapon, no willpower to use one even if it existed, and no energy to try and talk them down or even stand up. Thankfully, it looked like Dorothy had immediately talked herself down, flickering through emotions fast enough for none of them to really find a place to rest on her face. First anger, then fear, then regret, then what seemed to be...some sort of friendliness? It seemed like she was going to settle down on the last one, at least for the time being.

"Me?" Cass said hesitantly, for even knowing that Dorothy probably wasn't referring to anyone else it was still strangely surprising to be picked out of their spacious crowd of two like that. "I'm Cass. I'm just, uh, here."
a tribute for the dead and dying

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Who is this sassy lost child
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Jae heaved an annoyed sigh, sinking back in his chair as Dorothy backed off. Under other circumstances, he'd probably have some comeback for getting called a "vampire freak", but he was still exhausted and reeling and coming down from existential musing, so annoyed sigh was what you got.

Dorothy wasn't his friend. She had been Asha's friend, and Asha probably would have wanted him to stick around and look after Dorothy, but she was dead and gone and he intended to commit to a path that he knew she absolutely wouldn't have agreed with anyway. What was one more person he didn't even care about left in the dust, in the grand scheme of things?

Jae focused on his thoughts rather than Dot going through whatever she had been through in the last couple of days, only half-listening until he caught one particular comment.

"Wait, what?" He interrupted before she and Cass could continue with the pleasantries (such as they were). "You found Alessio?" His thoughts scrambled to catch up with his mouth, processing what exactly she had said and he sat forward again, fingers digging into the arms of the chair.

"You let him go?"
"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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