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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 (725 Views)
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And I am still hungry.
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
((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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[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
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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"...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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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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[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
"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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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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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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"Where."

It came out a growl, low and primal. "Where was he."

Dorothy was an idiot. That much was clear now, when she had been removed from the guidance that friends and shelter had afforded her and she was left to her own devices. She had found Alessio, disarmed him, had him at her mercy... and she walked away. She fucking walked away and barged in here to threaten Jae like she had any right to question what he had done.

"Why the fuck would you just leave him!?" He snapped when she took too long to answer. "Where was he!?"
"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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And then Dot was gone, with a vague promise and a vacant look. Jae hadn't wanted her to leave, not like that. Really, he had wanted her to stay and fight so that he could ask her who the hell she thought she was, yell at her, demand just what the hell she had ever done that gave her the right to criticize. Had she tried to save Asha? Had Dorothy held her while she died? Fuck her. She didn't get to decide that anything Jae did in the frenzy of anger and grief was worse than standing there uselessly while your friend gave her life for you.

He had stood as Dorothy fled, intending to fire back at whatever retort she had, but instead he was just left with impotent rage and no good target. He kicked out at the chair in frustration, succeeding in nothing except scooting it a few inches and making his toes sting.

Cass's interjection was a surprise; Jae had expected her to continue in much the same fashion as he could figure she always had. He had a brief flash of her back on the roof, cringing away from Vanessa's yelling and laughter. He opened his mouth, found that he had no response, and snapped his jaw shut again with an audible sound.

She was right. Dorothy was obviously not competent enough to try taking down a killer, if Alessio was even in the same place she had left him. She'd probably just end up another notch in his belt. Was Jae really going to let her just run off and do that? Even if he didn't much care what happened to her at this point, there was still Alessio to deal with.

"No," he said firmly, grabbing his bag and opening it again to retrieve ammo for the crossbow. With movement that he was becoming adept at, the bolt slid into place. "I'm not."
"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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Every time Jae thought that nobody had any surprises left, it happened again. Brendan, Alessio, Nadia, Dorothy, and now Cass. It was as though there was always someone just waiting for him to try and regain his balance before tilting the world again.

He had expected Cass to resist, he supposed. Maybe tell him how fucked what he was doing was, maybe cry or something. Instead, she just sounded resigned.

He supposed he couldn't blame her for that.

Jae paused in gathering his things to look back at her when she continued. Were her words a weak parting well-wish, or faint damnation?

Either way, he couldn't blame her for that either.

He was practically buzzing with restrained fury still. Cass didn't deserve any of it.

He pulled the baton from his belt and extended it with a flick of his wrist. Snick.




"Here."

He tossed it onto the chair he had just vacated. "If you want it, I guess."

Jae shouldered his bag, crossbow in one hand, staff in the other. He glanced back at Cass one last time. "Take care of yourself."

"...Bye."

((Min-jae Parker continued in Rear-End Collision))
Edited by backslash, Apr 4 2017, 08:28 AM.
"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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