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Feb 23, 2020 5:18 PM
valentine furnishes his new house
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"They don't understand what your breathing means, either. They're chickens. They're not good with humans."

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"So how do I breathe in chicken?"

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"...you don't...have to. I don't even know how you would try."

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"Oh."

 

 

"What about posture?"

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"The thing you want to do on the first day," he says, carefully, "is sit on the ground with a book, so you're not too tall, and look like you're not paying attention to them."

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"...I don't know what chickens think not paying attention looks like."

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"Just...don't look right at them a lot? You can just – actually not pay much attention to them, if you want."

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"....that sounds extremely difficult but I can ... try?"

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"You don't have to – ...act like you're not paying attention to a bunch of three-year-olds, maybe."

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"I'm not very good with children, either," he sighs.

 

 

"...what book?"

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"Are you worried that–"

 

 

"Anything. Doesn't matter. Whatever you want."

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"...all right," Jean says, sounding deeply skeptical.

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How were you a detective.

"I promise that the chickens aren't going to judge your taste in literature."

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"Well, no. I have excellent taste in literature."

It really doesn't sound like he's making a joke.

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"I'm going to show you which plants are weeds now."

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"All right!"

He is a willing student of weeds, and can reliably remember plants after being shown them once.

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He takes him around the backyard, that morning, and shows him a variety of chores to be done outside, weeding and pruning and raking and sweeping and checking for pests.

It's a moderately exhausting kind of work. By the time they're heading back inside, Cato has his shirt halfway off, heading for the shower.

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"Thank you," Jean says, at the end.

That's all he says, but there's a wealth of feeling in it: deep, desperate gratitude.

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"It wasn't my idea."

He heads up the stairs with his shirt thrown over his shoulder.

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Well.

Jean goes and showers himself, before finding an inoffensive volume of nonfiction and putting on Cato's posture and mannerisms and going out to sit with the chickens.

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They keep their distance, mostly – occasionally, one of them edges closer, investigates for a moment and then wanders away.

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Cato himself returns outside, after a while, with a sketchbook and accompanying pencil.

He sits up against the wire, watching the chickens scratching about, sketching.

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Occasionally, one of them makes an attempt to steal the pencil out of his hand – he does a light tug of war with it for a little while before shooing it off.

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Jean carries on with his quietly uncanny imitation of Cato -- the way he sits, the way he holds himself, the way he turns pages, all perfect little replicas of Cato's mannerisms.

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Cato glances at him, every so often – can't quite seem to figure out what's bothering him.

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