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24 February 2011 @ 08:49 pm
{ runaway_tales } The Homework Was Also Overdue (Or: Orange Ink)  
Title: The Homework Was Also Overdue (Or: Orange Ink)
Rating: PG?
Wordcount: 943
Story / World: Amethyst Sky
Community:  runaway_tales
Prompts: Toasted Almond [02 // dark horse].
Characters: Janet, Tam, the kelpie.
Toppings / Extras / Other: Prompt from Rika [she found him standing, looking lost].
Notes: And this would be how they met! (No rose motif yet. It shows up at some point, honest. And this needs a continuation, but that comes later.) Taking Toasted Almond literally ftw?

Janet's given up on explaining why she has to go to the park to work – why outside, why that particular park, why it's not a preference but a necessity. She managed to get it through to Jaime (“Oh, and I suppose you'd like the colour orange too”) and that, for now, is enough.

Her closest reason to why is, basically, because green is and always is and always will be luck. Also possibly home. Hence the thing about orange.

But at any rate she's here.

The main problem, now, is that she hasn't seen it for a while. She doesn't want to start muddling through the physics of dead cats (though if only she was capable of working anywhere else Jaime would probably steal it off her and hand it back done for sheer love of the subject; Jaime is, as Janet puts it, an incredibly lucky bastard, or, as Jaime puts it, ironically fond of science). She wants to inspect the park – she only got back to the City last week and Terrapin Park has been, since she was eight or so, hers in a profoundly illogical sort of way. Janet wants to know that it's all right.

Well, she's got an hour of daylight left, and a penlight besides, and she's never been anything resembling a good student in any science but biology. Surely her teacher will survive the first of many apparent disappointments.

– – –

Maybe it's just that she's been gone, but the shadows seem odd, the colours over-saturated. (Maybe it's just that she got new contacts.)

Certain that the park hasn't changed, or at least not the bits that she frequents (quiet, green and leafy, with benches; over there is a sort of creek and a tiny pond). For all she knows the rest has; Terrapin Park takes up two square blocks, like an apology for how modern the city as a whole is, and if she felt she had to go all of it surely her homework would languish in her backpack forever.

There aren't usually horses in the middle of this park, not least because if any animal were there and meant to be it would be turtles.

– – –

She thinks she's seeing things, at first. It could be a vaguely horse-shaped bunch of dark green leaves, only it's got legs and the tail is moving and it seems to be shifting from one hoof to the other, awkwardly so. Under its breath, in whatever language horses speak, this one seems to be complaining.

Also there's a man dressed in grey such that he too was almost invisible until Janet blinked the right way, leaning up against the horse and arguing back.

– – –

This is some of what Janet hears:

“It's the closest to running water I could find, all right? Only everything else has, oh, I don't know, chlorine.” He pronounces it like a question, like he's never had reason to say the word before, only read it. “But this one has fish and I think I saw an eel once, I'm sure it would be okay.”

The horse hits him gently with the side of its head. Janet doesn't think that's normal horse behaviour. The man – young by the sound of him – wraps his arms around its neck and growls, “Then you should have told me about that. We are in a small desert. Or you tell me that this will work, or I don't know how I'll find something else, I swear.”

More horse sounds, and a medium-length pause.

“Oh. Really? You go ahead then. I'm—” Another pause “—sorry. I'll pick you up later.”

Something like an equine cough.

“I suppose that would also work, yeah.”

Then several things happen. First is – This is in the sort of clearing, where the creek and the pond are, because Janet's part of the park is basically forest; she's crept up on the edge to the point where she should be realistically worrying about the grey man turning around – that the horse kind of shivers and starts to change. Its body smooths down, the back legs melt into flippers, the ears get long and there's scales instead of fur somehow. The young-sounding man puts a hand on it and says something Janet can't hear.

Second – The horse slips into the pond, which Janet must have misjudged because it's if not huge then at least large and the creek's a river. (She sees a flash of serrated teeth.) The young man waves and slides into a sitting position at the water's edge, knees loosely pulled up to his chest, head bowed.

Third – He looks so sad that Janet, randomly and without reason or anything resembling logic, wants to go to him and say something. She takes one step forward almost without knowing what she's doing and:

Fourth – Her ankle folds, neatly and with sharp screaming pain that lances up her leg and sends her falling messily and hard, and she knows she shouldn't have chosen today to take her makeshift splints off. She hits the ground on her back where all the other bruises are, the breath knocked out of her.

Fifth – Suddenly he's standing over her, looking anxious. (She was right; he seems around her age. This she notices: worried, skinny, with odd grey-blond-brown hair, and something about him strikes her as immediately likeable. Maybe it's the reflex-reaction concern?)

Sixth – “Hey,” he says, “are you all right?” and he reaches down to her.

Seventh – After a moment, she takes his hand.