Logs:They Belong Here

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Orana Davis and Jano Kills Crow


Wynnefield, Jano's Garden


The winter is never gentle, and this one has been no exception. The storms have been many and fierce, and often there is snow on the ground--despite that, Jano can often be found out in the "garden" which is literally of his property with the exception of a short gravel and dirt driveway and his home itself. In fact, the square footage of the garden is about twice that of the house. That is where he can be found now--and despite the winter chill, and despite the frozen ground, he is out there, in black denim and a black ribbed tank top, taking a pick to the earth in a row which aligns with a short, vine covered chain link fence that separates his home from the golf course on the other side of it.

Observed from the winter evening outdoors, Orana is a dark silhouette in a bedroom window - a lean, hungry shadow made featureless by backlighting, all angles save the shock of her hair. Her silhouette raises its hands to its mouth, lowers them, and stands unmoving and vigilant for several minutes before retreating from view. Several moments later, a flesh and bone woman emerges from the small home via a sliding door on the ground level and moves quietly into the yard towards its boundary, towards the tree, with the stoneware mug she’d been holding still in her hands. Whether she’s taking full advantage of the American embrace of athleisure or is simply in loungewear is hard to say, but her clothing is spare and form-fitting and without any seams to chafe or tailored lines that flatter at the cost of restricting movement, in addition to being wholly devoid of any insulating protection against the bitter weather. She traverses the dark yard with an easy speed born of familiarity and comes to a stop some three feet away from Jano. Her warm beverage sends a long tendril of aromatic steam into the air. She doesn’t say anything.

The tree, which roots in the center of the garden itself--almost directly across from where the entrance to the home is--is absolutely massive. It curls into the air from where the base of the trunk is covered in a fresh layer of mulch, and twists out toward the gulf course. It looks a lot like a tree that has grown at a severe angle due to being windswept, although the winds are not necessarily that powerful here. The leaves are gone, and so the branches crackle quietly against each other in the gentle breeze.

Despite the cold, Jano has worked up a sweat in this work, his bare arms and forehead shining against the moonlight and the light of the house. He does not stop work when Orana joins him, but continued digging a trench in the hard earth, each strike slow, methodical, and hitting with a soft, satisfactory thump. Only once does it land with a clink, and he crouches down to dig out a smooth, round stone about the size of two fists, does he finally stop. He rises again, chucking it over the fence into the golf course, and over his shoulder says, "I have a shovel, if you want to help me."

Orana tilts her head slightly on her long neck and stares at Jano in silent consideration for several seconds, her expression searching and eyes critical. “I’m not sure you want to see what I can do with a shovel and no instruction,” she says companionably, but makes no move to take a tool. She breaks her scrutinizing stare on her companion long enough to glance at the trench he's digging. “What are you doing out here, Jano?”

"I am glad to direct you," he responds, still not facing her. He keeps picking at the earth for some time after her last question, not answering it immediately. It is slow, arduous work, and his shoulders heave with each strike. He finally puts the pick down--or at least stops digging--and leans against the handle, looking slowly to face her. His long hair is matted down against his face and neck, and his brow is knit tightly together. He studies her face for a moment before he looks back toward the house. "The ashes are not sitting well in jars. I am going to join them to the earth. They belong here." He looks back to her, and then past her to the tree behind her. "They belong here."

To the chagrin of many mentors, Orana’s face does not keep a secret without effort. In the moments before she schools her expression into submission, it contorts her face into something full of animal pain - a flash of outrage and then it's gone again. She manages to straighten her already practiced posture. “I woke up and you weren’t in the house,” she says in a voice both quieter and harder than before, as if that’s a logical response to what has been said.

At that expression, Jano looks away, to the sky, seeking out the presence of the moon behind a blanket of night-clouds. He looks back to the house again as she speaks and stares into one of the windows. Then, wordlessly, he lifts the pick over his shoulder and steps out of the ditch and toward her. He reaches past her to lean the pick against the tree, standing close. He leans into the steam of her tea, flaring his nostrils to take in the scent. "The course is empty. We can run." He rolls his right shoulder then, and it cracks audibly.

Orana drops the cup unceremoniously into the grass by her feet but the tension in her body says she wanted to throw it. “They belong here,” Orana hisses into Jano’s shoulder, like a parent trying not to be overheard arguing by their children. She gesticulates broadly at the yard, at the house, without looking. “Jano, they belong here,” she repeats, tapping three fingers against her breastbone, the gesture forceful enough that the reverberation makes the back of her hand bounce off the Ithaeur's chest.

Wordlessly, Jano reaches up and presses his hand, all rough and weathered and calloused from hard work of a broad variety of stripes, against the back of hers, holding it in place. He turns roughly, suddenly, to meet her eyes. She is taller than him, and so he lifts his chin to meet her gaze. For a long time he meets her, mutely, his eyes speaking for him--for them. It is only after several long and silent moments, save for the branches chattering nervously above them, that he says. "Everything they carried, we carry."

Orana stiffens at Jano’s touch and closes her eyes but does not pull away. His quiet gesture has an almost immediate anchoring effect on the Rahu, disrupting and diminishing her flare of anguish like a cooling breath dispersing steam. By the time he speaks, her breathing has returned to normal and her muscles are no longer tensed to act, but still shivering with adrenaline. She meets his gaze again, composed. “Okay, old man," she says, "Let’s run then.”

He keeps his eyes locked to hers for all the time she needs--until she speaks again. He steps back, rolling both his shoulders this time, and proving that both of them have been through enough to crack and pop in response to the gesture. He arches his neck back and looks up at the moon again, and as he does more and more of his bones begin to pop and crack--but they also grow and warp and shift as he does, his flesh stretching around them and hair sprouting from his bare skin until it is a smooth coat of fur and he is on all fours, Urhan, his reddish-brown coat all but completely greyed out in the night. He flicks his tail briefly in Orana's direction before turning and running--clearing the fence in one leap.

Something not-quite-human happens to Orana’s eyes the moment there is something running from her - her pupils, already large in the low light, shudder in the arousal dilation of a predator and grow huge. She hurls herself forward with absolute disregard, as if to cast herself shoulder first into the ground, but she hits the yard on four running legs which carry her into the night beyond the fence like all she was ever made to do was run.