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Takasago; Open
Topic Started: Jul 21 2017, 12:47 PM (591 Views)
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And I am still hungry.
[ *  *  *  *  *  * ]
Blair should have been a little more concerned with what was going on behind her.

As it was, neither she nor Jae properly registered the other's presence until he collided with her and sent them both to the ground in a heap.

((Min-jae Parker continued from Talons))

There was a shriek and an explosion of gunfire from almost underneath him that left his ears ringing but otherwise only impacted the walls and shattered more glass from the broken windows. He had fallen on top of someone, but didn't have the strength to push himself up as his terror-driven adrenaline rush faded and left an aching hollowness and exhaustion in its wake. The gunshots were startling, but couldn't hit him from this angle, so it wasn't much in the way of motivation.

"Guh."

Jae slid to the side and painfully managed to turn onto his back. He left a smear of blood on the floor as he moved. He was... bleeding a lot. He should probably do something about that. When he could properly move again.

"Ah..." His throat hurt from screaming and yelling. His entire body hurt from everything else. He couldn't even pinpoint where all his injuries were at this point.

He still half-expected to see Jon shamble in through the doorway after him.
"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, hey Kimiko.

Jae didn't have it in him to be surprised or even particularly annoyed that she chose now of all times to pop in. He could take some small solace in the fact that she looked maybe half as fucked up as he probably did, at least. He could make that much out even looking at her upside down from the ground.

Well, anyway. If she was planning to shoot him and... Blair? She probably would have done it by now. Jae hadn't ever known her to be someone who half-assed things.

Kimiko was another in the long line of sort-of friends that Jae had latched onto and then drifted away from over the years. They had moved to Kingman around the same time and been two of the few Asian kids in their middle school classes, and that had been enough to form a short-lived friendship. It had died the way most of his others had, though with less lingering bad blood between them than some.

A few days ago, he had planned on shooting her on sight if he ever ran into her.

Now, he lifted his arms instead of trying to raise the rifle and oh Jesus his hand.

He hadn't stopped to look at it before. It was... split. There was a dip in between his ring and middle fingers, nearly an inch deep into his palm, full of blood and shredded flesh. If he looked hard enough he thought he might be able to make out a sliver of bone. He stopped looking.

His arms were shaking pretty badly, but he still managed to move his hands in the first formation that came to mind.

<Good morning.>

It wasn't morning and nothing was good, but it all seemed funny somehow. Jae couldn't recall if he had ever told Kimiko he had started learning sign language during that short time that they called themselves friends.
"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 didn't know the sign for "machete", but he knew "knife". He settled on that and "fight", followed by an attempt at a shrug.

<You know how it is.>

Jae dropped his arms, half-folding them over the rifle but not actually grasping it. He stole a glance at Blair, who was herself glancing warily between him and Kimiko. He was a little surprised he hadn't injured her when he fell, so far as he could tell. She was pretty frail-looking. Not the least likely person he had seen making it this far, but up there.

Survival of the Fittest. What a sick fucking joke. Jae's mind wandered back to the rooftop, his and Vanessa's joint hysterical breakdown. He wondered where Cass was now, if she had made good use of the weapon he left her on a whim.

It occurred to Jae that he was, frankly, being pretty stupid. He should be holding Kimiko at gunpoint like she was doing to him. He should be focused right now, not thinking about inane things. His head felt fuzzy.

"I think I'm dying," he croaked. He didn't know how to sign that. He wasn't sure how true his words were or why he felt the need to say them in the first place to two people who would directly benefit from it coming true.

He couldn't bring himself to care. All of his anger and terror had ebbed away as he put distance between himself and whatever was left of Jon, and now he felt hollow. His spark had gone 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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Blair left. Jae supposed he didn't blame her, insofar as he cared at all. He kept his eyes on Kimiko as she moved. There was nothing stopping her from executing him right here, bullet to the face as he laid on the floor.

But she didn't. Not yet.

"Yeah," he said. "I think I need a lot of help." There was an ironic edge to his voice. Near-death self-deprecation.

Was she offering genuine help? Jae couldn't tell. He didn't think he would have done the same if their positions were reversed. She probably knew that, too.

God, this place stank. There was a body nearby, fresh. There were others crowding the surrounding rooms.

Henry was here. Henry's body. Henry was gone, had been gone for a long time now. Maybe it was a good thing after all that they had never met up. What would Jae have done, if he had watched or heard Henry die like he did Asha or Hazel?

Probably all the same fucking things. He would have screamed and cried and plotted revenge, for all the good it did. He hadn't killed Isabel or Alessio. Fuck, he hadn't even been able to catch up to Alvaro and avenge himself, much less anyone else. He shot Lily in the back for being an accomplice, and the other three... Well, Brendan was unprovoked, beyond the way that Brendan had always provoked Jae with his very existence. Samuel was a mistake and Jon...

Jon had to be dead, right? Nobody could shrug off that much, especially not some scrawny five-foot-tall nerd, no matter how much of an action movie hero he thought he was.

There were no footsteps coming down the hall. No sound but his own ragged breathing and the faint noise of Kimiko's movements on the other side of the shattered mirror.

"I'm not going to shoot you," Jae rasped eventually. "I don't want to kill you anymore, I don't think."
"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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"I don't know how much good it will do," Jae said in response to Kimiko's question. "But why not."

He decided he ought to try sitting up, leaning heavily on his good arm to lever himself off the ground. The shallow cut across his stomach started bleeding again with the movement, further staining the front of his already ruined shirt. The rifle slid down into his lap, resting across his legs. He didn't set it aside, but it was probably fairly obvious that he wasn't capable of handling it with his one good hand occupied with the business of holding him up.

"There's stuff in my bag."

Jae's hair was sticking to the side of his face irritatingly, plastered against the cut on his cheek with blood and sweat. Once he deemed that he was sitting up steadily enough, he pulled it back, wincing as it peeled free of his skin.

God, he must look like a horror movie. Night of the Living Goth.

His thoughts had taken on that detached, floaty quality again. Jae wasn't sure if it was from exhaustion and shock, or if it was a sign of something more serious. He didn't bother to spend time wondering about it.

<How are you?> He signed when he was sure Kimiko was looking at him again. It would be more accurate to ask how have you been, but Jae didn't quite have a grasp on tense in ASL at the best of times, much less when he was falling apart at the seams.

Awkward small talk between former friends. Like it was normal. Like nothing had really changed.
"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 snorted. "I'm doing fucking fantastic."

He lifted the edge of his shirt to allow Kimiko to bandage the slash across his stomach, hissing quietly as she did so. He wanted to say more, anything to fill the silence, but his throat hurt and he couldn't think of anything.

It was disconcerting, to just... not feel anything. He should be afraid of dying, nervous that they had to be getting close to the end of things, relieved that Jon was more and more likely dead with each passing minute. He couldn't make himself feel any of that. The last couple of days had burnt out whatever he had left. He was exhausted, in every sense of the word.

"...Are you going to try to win?"
"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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"I..."

What was there to go back to, if you won? Who would want you back so badly?

Who is there to win for, that's what he wanted to ask Kimiko. Someone you made a promise to? You think every one of the hundred or so other people here didn't make promises? That they didn't have anyone watching, waiting?

Jae supposed that was what he had never been able to understand. The people who killed from day one - did they really think that they were so fucking special? That they were the only ones with lives left behind, or that their lives were the most important? That they were better, somehow?

He didn't know. He wouldn't ever know.

Jae wanted his parents. He wanted to be at home, in his room, with a working body and living friends and a chance to fuck everything up in ways that didn't involve everyone dying. He wanted a future that wasn't emptiness and pointlessness and a thousand years' penitence in Hell at the end of it. Winning wouldn't give him that.

But God, why should he lay down and die so that some fuck who thought they deserved more than anyone else here could step over him like they had everyone else? They didn't fucking deserve it any more than he did.

In the end, the response Jae gave Kimiko was a half-shrug and mumbled excuse. "That's not why I've been... doing things."

Samuel. Nadia. Lily. Brendan. Jonathan. Even Jae didn't hate anyone enough to make them tally marks towards a pointless goal.

Without adding anything further or asking just who the hell it was that Kimiko thought would want her to kill to live, he held out his mangled left hand to her. Bandages wouldn't fix it, nothing short of surgery probably would, but he wanted it covered so that he didn't have to look at it anymore and so that nothing would get lodged into the space that had been torn out. His broken fingers were still held together crookedly with tape and the split skin was raw and glistening. Jae's stomach twisted, and for the first time he was actually thankful he hadn't taken the food that had been left for him with the rifle.
"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 scooted back so that he could lean back against the wall. It didn't seem like there was much point in worrying about his leg or his face by now, so he didn't prompt Kimiko to do anything about it. She had already done more than he had expected from her, for reasons he couldn't fathom and didn't really care to ask about.

"Back in middle school," he replied to her question. He didn't offer any further explantion; she would know, and what was there to add? We were friends for a while,
you know.
Like she would have forgotten.

"I've probably forgotten a lot, so I don't know how much sense I've actually been making."

Jae exhaled slowly and closed his eyes for a moment, resting his head against the wall. Kimiko had had more than ample opportunity to stab or shoot or do whatever to him by now. He could afford to close his eyes.

He thought that if she did take the chance though, did kill him here, he might laugh.
"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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<Plan?> Jae mirrored Kimiko's signing, the corners of his mouth briefly twitching into an ironic facsimile of a smile.

<No plan.>

None except for making it difficult for whoever decided that they wanted to kill him. If he were honest with himself, there had never been more of a plan than that. The brief attempts at revenge, the ill-fated alliances, the aimless wandering on his own in a fog of fear and anger - his only goal had been to keep moving. To stay distracted until he needed to focus on the violence when it exploded around him again.

Jae dropped his hands again, considering.

"...I want to leave this room," he said finally. "That's the only plan right now."
"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 paused.

"Is that a problem?" He didn't bother to disguise the note of... doubt? Suspicion? Whatever it was, he wasn't sure how to react to Kimiko's question.

What was her motive here? She seemed oddly concerned for someone who was direct competition, when she'd had no problem taking out... what was it now, five people? Six?

Jae snorted. Hell of a time to try and mend the long-severed ties of their friendship.

"What, you want to come with?"
"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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Just when he thought nothing could surprise him anymore. Every damn time.

Jae opened his mouth to say something snarky, came up with nothing, and closed his mouth again.







<Okay.>

His hands had been shaking this whole time. It meant less than letting Kimiko hear the shaking of his voice.
"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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Despite the agreement made not ten seconds ago, Jae's heart still jumped when Kimiko picked up the gun again. Instead of pointing it at him she offered him her hand.

He took it, grunting at the aches and pains as she helped him to his feet.

How much good does it do to ensure that you won't die alone? You'll still be dead and gone, unaware of the people in your past life whether you loved or hated them.

Jae leaned on Kimiko's shoulder until he felt steady enough to walk on his own.

((Min-jae Parker continued in Battle Royale))
"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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