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Feb 26, 2020 2:07 AM
valentine furnishes his new house
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It's been a week, since Jean Dulac didn't die.

A week, since Valentine came upstairs with him, holding him in the shroud, alive. He explained his mistake to Cato, and he explained the wounds to Doctor Sato, and everything went on like Jean was supposed to be there.

(The night that Jean Dulac didn't die, Cato spent the small hours of the morning spitefully refusing to cry into his pillow, and since then he's been refusing with equal or greater spite to think about why.)

Cato doesn't trust him. He doesn't like him. He hasn't forgotten how they got here.

But he's right about something, and Valentine wants him kept busy, and some things need doing.

 

Cato reaches out and shakes their houseguest awake.

"Get up."

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Jean is awake as soon as Cato steps into the room. He's been sleeping poorly, anyway; he's still not used to having the freedom of his bed, without cuffs keeping him safely in place.

He lets Cato play out the little scene anyway, blinking and rubbing his eyes obligingly.

"...I'm up," he says, swinging his legs over the edge of the bed and suiting the action to the words.

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Not even going to ask why, apparently.

"Get dressed and meet me outside."

He heads out the door – when he descends the stairs, he skips every other step, and makes it sound like nothing.

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Jean dresses with inhuman speed, and is following Cato before the latter has reached the bottom of the stairs.

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He doesn't turn back towards him until they're out the door, into the cold.

"...be quiet," he cautions, before he heads towards the garden.

(It's still mostly bare. They'll have a few vegetables in winter, more in spring, but it's too new to have seen much growth.)

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Jean, it transpires, can move with an unearthly silence, every footfall calculated in advance.

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Stop being good at that.

That's his thing.

 

When they reach the chicken coop, he picks up a basket left by the door, hangs it on his elbow.

"You're going to try it tomorrow, so watch."

He opens the wire outer door and ducks inside.

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Jean couldn't watch more intensely if he were observing the test of a nuclear missile.

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He steps carefully around a couple of errant chickens and opens the door to the house.

He takes the eggs from the empty boxes first, and then starts on the rest – one or two of the chickens need to be moved, but most will let him slip his hand underneath them and pluck the egg out to lay in the basket.

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Jean is visibly memorizing the process, step by step.

(He's identified two of the chickens -- the one which laid an egg in his lap, the one which invaded his room -- and watches them with particular attention.)

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When he closes the house up and turns back around, the eggs have all been transferred to the bottom of the basket.

"...you can spend some time with them today. I'll be out here anyway. They should probably get to know you."

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"...I don't ... I'm not good with animals."

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"What does that even mean."

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"...I don't know how to do things with them. When I try to guess, I usually guess wrong."

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"...you don't have to do anything. Just sit out here with a book, or something."

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"--what about facial expressions? What about posture? What about breathing?"

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"...you should breathe," he says, trying to formulate another response.

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"But how?"

He is, obviously, deadly serious.

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"How...do you normally pick how to breathe."

Everything about that sentence is too weird for Thursday morning at 6 AM.

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"I have a default pattern which is unremarkable for my age and physical state. I adjust when circumstances call for it -- to indicate emotion, to suggest recent physical exertion..."

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That's really fucking bizarre but he's just going to accept it for a minute.

"Why...would the chickens change any of that."

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"I don't know what emotions I should be indicating to the chickens!"

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"Are you paying attention to their breathing?"

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"Obviously!"

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"And what's that telling you."

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"Nothing! I'm not good with animals!"

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