The rake didn’t make things easier on him either. It had been made for someone taller--- someone very much taller than Aubrey’s diminutive height. And even if he held it lower down, it was still difficult to use for the weight of it.
The previous owner must, Aubrey reasoned, have been not only tall but prodigiously so, or at least have come from one of the larger races that frequented the area. An Uthax, perhaps, or one of the taller sorts of Ungulates. Aubrey was sure that if he met them, he would come to half their height, or maybe a little more.
As difficult as the rake was to use, however, it still was an improvement over doing it by hand. It gave him greater reach, and even though it hurt to hold the thing, and Aubrey himself was neither a stranger nor particularly averse to doing chores.
A little misery was sometimes part and parcel of the process, and the rake was still saving him some measure of grief, even as it hurt his hands. Even he couldn't think of many more things more time consuming and probably annoying than picking up leaves by hand, one or two at a time. He couldn't even hold very many at once, owing again to his stature. He was everywhere in proportion, which meant that his hands were small too, and the breadth of his arms not as wide as they would be on a taller individual.
At length, he had to take a break, both to rest his hands and to rest... well, pretty much the rest of him. His arms and his back hurt the must, from the position he'd been holding, and from the too heavy weight of the rake itself. Leaning it against a tree, Aubrey wiped at his brow.
Somehow he had managed to work up a sweat despite the cold weather, and now that he had paused in his work for a moment, he immediately had cause to regret that too. The wind blew, and he was chilled through even more thoroughly than he had been before he had begun the work, Aubrey shivered against it, but there was not much more he could do. There was still work to be done, and it wasn't as though he could strip off any of his layers.
Or, well, he could have, but then he would be too cold anyway. Aubrey was still a little shy of his health, even though he hadn't caught anything in the way of colds or other common illnesses since his transformation. The process itself had made him feel sick enough that he was eager not to experience it again. Having come to a rest, however, he finally had a moment to spare to look at Thistle.
She was still watching him, but what she thought of his ordeal with the rake, he couldn't say. He was still not very good at reading her expressions, especially as these tended to be much more subtle than Yeo-reum's, for the most part. There were exceptions, but in a general sense, Yeo-reum's moods were both animated and deliberate, possibly even to compensate for Aubrey's lack of experience in dealing with Tats, at least in part.
But Thistle had not worked that much out for herself, or else had no motivation to take any measures to amend it; very likely it was both. Thus, Aubrey found himself being scrutinized, without knowing the tone of the scrutiny, and could only smile at Thistle almost reflexively. It had been his habit ever since he was very young, smoothing things over in an uncertain household--- one that was headed, he realized now, by a traumatized man.
Back then he had thought Aster stern, if not cold, and wondered at what it might be that he was doing wrong. And then Dami had happened, and he'd been so headstrong... Aubrey knew better now, but the habit had remained, fixed in him for good.
Truthfully, he didn't know if Thistle had a similar experience when it came to reading his expressions as he did reading hers, or reading Aster's. Maybe a smile meant absolutely nothing to her. But it was a habit, and it felt rude not to; he smiled for his own sake as much as he did hers, as he would have felt uneasy if he had shown her anything like a cold expression. Neither antipathy nor rudeness were much in Aubrey s nature, and he didn't mean to start now merely because one of his new companions was a little slow to warm to him.
But he would have liked some help, if she found it in her to give him any. He wouldn't force her, of course, but he hadn't exactly asked yet. And so he went back to the rake, picked it up in both hands, and held it out to her, a question in his gaze. He didn’t know whether this would be sufficient to convey the idea, but it was worth a try. She had just watched him do this for quite some time, and she had taken an interest in doing what he’d been doing yesterday, when he’d been pulling weeds, after all. This… was a little more complex than that, so maybe she wouldn’t get it, but it wasn’t as though he had anything to lose by making the attempt either.
At first, Thistle didn’t do anything, which was well within Aubrey’s expectations.
It wasn’t like he could really explain to her with words, the way he could with Yeo-reum, and so even if she had had the same intellectual capabilities as himself, he would have expected it to take some time for her to puzzle through, maybe. Communication could be a tricky thing, sometimes. And given that she didn’t have the same intellectual capabilities, he was mostly just willing to be pleasantly surprised if things went well here.
At least she was looking at it. If she had lost interest immediately, that would be that, and Aubrey would know that she really cared to have nothing to do with him and his self imposed chore of raking up the leaves. As one moment bled into another, she seemed to come to the conclusion that he was offering it to her after all, and took a step closer… And then another one.
“Here,” said Aubrey, renewing his offer with what he hoped was an encouraging tone, holding out the rake a little further as he did so. “It doesn’t bite.” At least, not in the conventional way of biting, anyway. His hands stung, but...
She approached slowly, and gripped the rake slowly, but she did take it from him, in the end. Aubrey handed it over as gently as he could, since it was pretty heavy--- or at least it had been heavy for him, anyway. He didn’t want to surprise her too much with the weight, so he eased it into her hands so that she acclimated to the weight of it slowly. When he let go, there was barely any weight left to transfer.
He watched carefully for any sign of strain, or evidence that she was staggering under her new burden, but it seemed that his efforts had paid off.
Thistle didn’t seem surprised or bothered in the least. Her attention turned from Aubrey to the object in her hands now, tilting it so one end was up, and then the other, and inspecting the whole length of it with her eyes. Aubrey watched her pore over it and wondered what must have been going through her mind. What did she think of the rake? Did she think it was terribly unusual? And for that matter, maybe she was having some sort of moment with it; the bulk of the tool was made of wood, after all, and so was she, sort of.
No, maybe he was overthinking it. By that same virtue, he would have had a heart to heart with every piece of meat that he ate… Well, he was mostly vegetarian, but even so, it wasn’t like he’d never seen meat in his life either.
Aster fed it to most of his creatures, since he tended to favor carnivores, given that they generally tended to be good combattants; and he had quite the taste for it himself as well. And while the sight of raw flesh wasn’t exactly high on his list of favorite things to encounter, it wasn’t like he felt any sort of special connection with it either.
Hold that thought. She wasn’t bothered by wooden tools the same way he was bothered by a dripping cut of beef, was she?
Aubrey studied her with renewed anxiety, but at a glance, she didn’t seem distressed. She was exploring the rake with interest, but nothing suggested she thought it was morbid. Aubrey was tentatively relieved, but there was no way to ascertain for sure whether the idea was out of the question…
… Maybe he really was just overthinking this. He hoped so.
He wasn’t sure what he’d do with… Oh gods, most of the house, and the shed, and certainly a good deal of his furniture if the use of wood bothered Thistle.
That couldn’t be why she didn’t stay in the shed…?
No, no, he was just going to stop thinking about it. Once he got to know her better, if it really bothered her, he was sure she’d find a way to let him know. Aubrey shook his head sharply, as though the motion could dislodge the uncomfortable thought by force. And it did, in fact, help; the physicality of the motion was a welcome distraction, at any rate.
Even if it did draw him an odd look from the subject of those thoughts. Aubrey flashed Thistle a sheepish smile, ducking slightly with his ears flattened down. “Sorry, my thoughts ran away from me,” he said.
She probably wouldn’t take anything from his apology either, but he was too much in the habit of talking with Yeo-reum now, apparently.
Thistle watched him a moment longer, but when it became apparent that Aubrey wasn’t about to do anything else alarming--- or interesting, maybe--- she turned back to the rake. By now she was running her fingers over the business end of it, plucking at the tines. If Aubrey hadn’t just spent a good deal of time demonstrating what the rake was used for, he would have been sure that she was trying to figure out what it did.
Then again, it was entirely possible that she was just trying to figure out an alternate use for something like this. Maybe she had seen what he was doing, figured that it was miserable and kind of pointless, and decided to take matters into her own hands.
Maybe she knew what he was hoping for, and was merely stalling before she handed the rake back to him. It was possible that she was even looking for a polite way to refuse. He could only ever guess at her intentions.
But having stopped, Aubrey found that he wasn’t exactly eager to resume his task either. His hands still stung, and he was still tired, though this time he didn’t bother trying to sit on a rock. If Thistle didn’t mind it very much, then he was going to see about installing a wooden bench, or at the very least a tree stump, for himself to sit on instead. He wasn’t the kind, as it turned out, who could do this kind of work without a rest once in a while, and to that end, a place to sit that wasn’t terribly cold in the winter seemed like a worthy investment.
While he was pondering that question, Thistle made her move. She didn’t hand the rake back to Aubrey after all. Instead, gripping it in a manner similar to how Aubrey had been, she took an experimental jab at the ground.
It was a very crude approximation of what Aubrey had done, and this with the knowledge that Aubrey’s own attempts had been clumsy and bumbling themselves, at best. The problem, Aubrey could see almost immediately, was the fact that she was overbalanced. At the best of times, she had a sort of hunched, leaning posture; walking on two legs, but not entirely upright. Add to that the heavy burden of the rake, and the necessity of not leaning on it when you were trying to actually use it… It wasn’t exactly a recipe for success for poor Thistle.
“Oh, no,” said Aubrey to himself, rushing to her side.
Twilight-Claw: I really, really love all the updates that have come~! <3
May 24, 2020 2:12:37 GMT -6
Fiera Ferella: np!!! I hope y'all like it!
May 23, 2020 13:45:06 GMT -6
Riku: What an awesome update, staff! Thanks for that! <3
May 23, 2020 12:06:52 GMT -6
Jack: All have been found!
May 23, 2020 9:53:27 GMT -6
Jack: Might want to be on the lookout for anything... odd
May 22, 2020 23:51:22 GMT -6
Fiera Ferella: Yeah it’s definitely a coincidence but wow did it work out well for us! XD
May 22, 2020 6:43:27 GMT -6
Silver: I'm pretty sure that was just a coincidence, but it sure feels lucky!
May 22, 2020 2:07:09 GMT -6
Riku: So did you guys make this hosting switch perfectly RIGHT before pb broke? >.< Thaz crazy. It’s a huge relief and I’m very glad we’ve come to this. <3
May 22, 2020 1:41:01 GMT -6
Fiera Ferella: It’s free up to a certain number of GB, which we haven’t hit yet.
May 21, 2020 6:46:33 GMT -6
Twilight-Claw: Is the site that is going to be used to host all those images also the type you'd need to pay for? (definitely noticed the broken images yeah. Photobucket feels like it is standing on its last legs. X3 )
May 21, 2020 0:13:57 GMT -6
Morgan: I'm just kinda nervous about them going down before things get moved over completely. It's prolly nothing to be worried about though. :3
May 20, 2020 22:13:15 GMT -6
Fiera Ferella: Thank goodness we're moving out of there? XD
May 20, 2020 21:59:22 GMT -6
Renathan: Ugh, photobucket has the images broke again. x3
May 20, 2020 21:18:53 GMT -6