[AW] Josephine
Groundskeeper Co-Rank thread

He had his misgivings, as he often did.

The shovel scraped roughly against the cobblestone path, its crude metal head bouncing against the uneven stone on impact. His arms strained against the weight as a grunt passed his lips.

He didn't voice these concerns with any dominion, of course. Kira was her own woman, capable of making her own decisions; even if Risa, given the timing, believed they were unwise. Complications, he thought. He didn't like complications. Yet, there had been little he could do or say to convince her to say to make her stay.

She insisted. Swore she'd be careful. He believed her, knowing Kira to be capable. However, he had hoped she would wait just a few more days -- just for her heat to subside.

Winter brought struggle, as it often did. The snowdrifts around the fort made travel within the pack difficult enough -- he could hardly imagine venturing out into wild territory at this hour. For here, there was much to do -- too much to be accomplished. Too much to fix and maintain.

She was a stubborn woman, and he loved her for it. He loved all of her, after all, even the parts that sometimes drove him mad.

He threw himself into his work, channeling his frustration with his own impotence. With another huff, Risa cleared another shovelful from the path. The banks on both sides piling high and white.

[240] // Sweep, shovel, or weed the communal pathways to keep them clear. [240/900]
OOC: Petrichor would like this co-rank, too! Feel free to assume that Risa knows Petrichor's name. :D WC: 459

Co-rank Prompt Wrote:Sweep, shovel, or weed the communal pathways to keep them clear.

Petrichor had to admit that this winter was far more comfortable than the last winter. He could go inside to escape the wind rather than looking for caves that might actually be occupied or large evergreen trees. The trees provided a little shelter, but it was never enough. He built fires, but they only provided so much heat since it was not like he could build a bonfire. They were only small fires when he could get them started; just enough to cook over if he wanted to, but he had to huddle really close to stay warm.

One thing that was the same was that his porcupine, Spike, continued to follow him around. Spike seemed to be enjoying his new life, too. Petrichor was sometimes worried that someone who was not aware of why Spike was here would try to drive him away or kill him. At this point though, the Porcupine smelled enough like him and Battle that he thought maybe that would be enough to keep him safe. Hopefully. Thankfully Spike had a pretty... spiky defense system, so there was that.

Figuring he could make himself useful today before Battle told him he should, Petrichor headed out of the courthouse. Once outside, he blinked against the light reflecting off the snow for a few seconds until his eyes adjusted. Then he really took in his surroundings and spotted someone shoveling. It seemed like a much bigger job than one canine could handle with how deep the snow was in some areas after the wind caused it to drift. Shoveling was something he could do.

First, though, he needed a shovel. So he headed off to find one to use with Spike following along the whole way. At one point, Spike tried to climb up onto Petrichor's back to get out of the deep snow, but he really was getting too big for that now that he was an adult. Plus, his claws hurt and Petrichor always seemed to somehow get stuck with at least one of his quills. They reached a begrudging agreement where Spike walked on his own dang paws and Petrichor remained quill-wound free. After finding a shovel, Petrichor walked back towards where he had last seen his pack mate shoveling.

"Uh, hey," he said when he found him again. Petrichor thought that his name might be Riva or something like that, but since he was not sure, he did not greet him by name. "Figured I could give you a hand here." He held up the shovel and then felt foolish for doing so. Of course he was going to use a shovel for this task. Spike ambled around in an area of more shallow snow, completely ignoring Petrichor's awkwardness.

Risa had been thinking, often thinking, as his shovel pierced the idle snow. He worried for Kira. His mind lingering on the worst possible scenarios -- scenarios so ludicrous to think they could ever come to pass. However, he found a morbid comfort in this silent pessimism. For, should the worst of his mental machinations come to fruition, Risa would be prepared to face it.

He'd seen enough of the world's darkness after all, and it had taught him enough about what to expect.

Another rugged grunt slipped through gritted teeth as Risa bore down harder than the last. Work was a distraction. Though, even still, it proved to be not enough.

However, he quickly found his own destructive train of thought derailed by the presence of another. His ears perked as Risa stopped, mid swipe of his spade. "Petrichor, right?" he asked after a thoughtful beat. He'd seen him around -- although, the cadet could hardly claim that he knew him. Apart from his own tight knit family, he supposed he truly knew very few Cavaliers.

In a selfless attempt to put his own problems behind him, he forced a grateful smile. There was no sense pulling a stranger into his own self-destructive orbit. "Thanks," he said, acknowledging his new acquaintance's offer of aid. "I could really use the help. All these paths to the courthouse need clearing."

With that, he returned to his work with the spade, but the lines of worry etched along Risa's face remained.

[260] // Sweep, shovel, or weed the communal pathways to keep them clear. [500/900]
WC: 460

"That's right," Petrichor confirmed his name, then froze as anxiety seized his chest, feeling put on the spot to remember his packmate's name because he knew that 'Riva' was not quite it. Than, miraculously, his brain supplied what he was pretty sure actually was his name. "Risa?" Of course, his brain could not also supply a sentence that was more than one word, so there was that, too.

"That's a lot of snow to clear," Petrichor said and then mentally cringed at the obvious statement that could be taken as a complaint. It wasn't one; it was really just an observation, but since he did not know his pack mate, he was not sure how it would be taken. Well, he was here doing the work, which he hoped sorted that out. Also he was probably over thinking things as usual.

The shovel bounced on the cobblestone and made a scraping sound as he shoved it under the snow. He looked quickly to see where Risa was putting it each time he filled his shovel and did the same thing. It went out of the way of the path and hopefully unlikely to fall back down onto it once the shoveling was done. As long as no one pushed it on purpose or something. In Petrichor's past experience, youngsters sometimes did things they thought were funny that just made more work for adults. Part of being a pup, he supposed.

After Petrichor moved a few more shovelfuls, he noticed that Risa seemed worried about something. At least, Petrichor thought so based on his expression, but maybe that was just how his expression always was? Petrichor apparently always looked grouchy, but that was often his mood anyway, so it was accurate enough.

"Are you... alright?" Petrichor asked as he heaved more snow off the path, a bit uncertain of whether he should pry at all. They did not know each other. Should he have even asked? But he almost always felt awkward when there was no conversation. Then again, he also commonly felt nervous when there was conversation, too, so it was really a lose-lose sort of situation. At least he and Battle had, thankfully, gotten to a place where he did not feel the need to awkwardly fill the silence with dumb conversation or oversharing. It would have made sharing a room really uncomfortable otherwise.

At least there was work to focus on, too, if Risa was not interested in any sort of conversation. He moved another shovel full of snow off the path and knew that he was going to be very sore after this tomorrow. Then he could prove to Battle that he had done something useful like she wanted him to.

Risa offered a short, confirmatory nod.

Honestly, he thought it was a wonder that anyone apart form his own family would know his name. After all, outside of his arrangement with the twins, Risa hardly got out much at all. This would have to change.

Risa fell silent with only the sounds of menial labor lingering between he and his new acquaintance. He seemed to be something of a perceptive guy, and Risa swore he kept seeing Petrichor's inquisitive eyes sweep his way with every pass of the shovel. The attention levied his way burned -- particularly at a time like this. However, Risa continued on in silence until Petrichor decided to break it.

It was a simple question. Yet, there was no easy answer.

Risa drove his shovel lengthwise into the snow and leaned forward against it. "I'm..." he spoke. His voice was clipped; stopped dead in its track.

"I'm fine." A sufficient reply, surely.

Yet, the bottle was without its stopper now.

"My girlfriend, who is still in season by the way--" There was a frustration carried in Risa's words. It wasn't quite anger or fear, but something in between. "-- has decided to go trading out... out who knows where." He knew exactly where, but of course, he was being hyperbolic.

"Do you think its reasonable to be upset over this? Or do you think I'm just being an asshole?" He asked, genuinely wondering.

[250] // Sweep, shovel, or weed the communal pathways to keep them clear. [750/900]
WC: 437

Risa claimed he was fine but otherwise said nothing. Petrichor clenched his jaw and wondered why he even bothered asking. Then again, he probably would have given a similar response if asked that question by someone who was basically a stranger, so it made sense. He stayed silent then, continuing to work, pushing the shovel over the cobblestones. The way it caught was annoying, but it was not as though it was possible to have a smooth stone path. Sure would be nice, though; would make this whole job a lot easier.

Then, to Petrichor's surprise, Risa decided to open up a little after all. Petrichor's eyes widened a little in surprise and thankfully he was not facing his pack mate at the time. He listened to the problem and his first instinct was to just say no, being upset was perfectly reasonable, but instead he took a moment to think it over more. Having never had a mate or girlfriend or anyone even interested in him, Petrichor could not pull from that kind of experience. He tried to think of any time his sister mentioned arguing with her now-mate, but nothing came to mind. That relationship had been pretty secret, though. He knew but they could not talk about it much because of how their birth pack was.

After a couple of moments, he emptied his shovel again and then rested it on the ground vertically as he turned back to look at Risa. He was kind of wondering what he was getting himself into because he had no intention of really getting involved in an apparent lovers' spat. But he was asked for his opinion, so he could at least give that. But first, he need to clarify.

"Are you upset that she's going trading in general, or because she's going while she's in season?" Petrichor thought that if it was the first, that seemed a bit unreasonable unless there was some other reason she should not leave the pack's territory. He could see being concerned about her being in heat, though. That would certainly attract attention that had nothing to do with trading. He also wondered why Risa did not just go with her because it seemed like that would solve some issues, but he figured he could ask that later if it still mattered.

Petrichor started shoveling again while waiting for Risa's response. The snowbank was slowly growing, and Petrichor was hoping they would not get any more snow for a while because that would just undo all the work they were getting done now.

With his hasty words having time to breathe, it quickly sunk in that this had been a mistake. He could see it in Petrichor's eyes; this resistance to being dragged into an argument in which he had no place in. Risa supposed it was selfish of him to drag this man -- this near stranger -- into this mess between he and Kira.

He was beginning to think he had indeed been the asshole, and this, well this proved it.

Risa's ears fell back with shame as he returned to his laborious task of shoveling snow. "Mostly the latter," he answered. She had gone trading before, and then he had welcomed it. Serving the pack was an admirable thing, it's just, the timing felt bad. "We've been through enough already -- I just, I don't want to invite any more trouble into our lives." The poisoning at the feast was still fresh in Risa's mind.

"It's just... it's a risk." Biting his lip, he lurched forward with his spade.

"I'm sorry Petrichor -- I shouldn't have brought this up," he spoke solemnly. "It isn't fair to Kira either."

[207] // Sweep, shovel, or weed the communal pathways to keep them clear. [957/900]
WC: 456

A face did not immediately come to mind when Risa said the name Kira. He squinted at the snow as he hefted another shovel full, picturing a few pack mates he had seen around and thought he had heard names of, but nope, no one matched. Maybe one of them was her and he did not realize. Not that it really mattered; he was just talking to Risa, not really trying to be their counselor or something. In the end, regardless of how the conversation went, they would be the ones figuring things out between them.

It was true that the pack had been through a lot lately. Petrichor knew that some were obviously more affected by it than others. Having no close relationships with anyone yet meant that Petrichor felt kind of removed from it, although it had made him nervous, too. Still did a bit, if he was being honest.

"It's alright, I'm not going to tell anyone." Petrichor did not really know anyone well enough for that, but even if he did, this was a private conversation and he was good at keeping his mouth shut with stuff like this. Antagonizing his former pack's elders? Yeah, he did that a lot. Keeping what his sister was doing secret? That he could do, too. Since it did not seem like Risa was going to hurt someone or anything like that, Petrichor was not about to go gossiping to anyone else. He also was not going to let it paint his perception of this Kira if he ever had a conversation with her.

It seemed like Risa did not want to continue talking about this, so Petrichor was willing to let it drop. Despite that, a question tumbled out of his mouth, frustrating him to no end.

"Would it help if you went with her?" He cringed right after he said it and turned to push the shovel under the snow again, getting caught on another stone in the process. He sighed when it stopped suddenly and then lifted it just a little so it could keep going. "Sorry, you don't have to answer. We can talk about something else." For all he knew, Risa was planning to go with her, but from the way he was talking, it didn't seem like it. Petrichor also had no idea what that something else would be. But whatever it ended up being, he was probably going to end up rambling about it with the way he felt anxiety starting to tighten in his chest. This was why he resisted so much when his traveling companion and now roommate told him to go talk to their pack mates and get to know them.

It would be a shame, Risa thought, if Kira were to learn of the nature of this conversation. He'd allowed himself to be candid in his frustration, despite the knowing part of him that knew these were not subjects to discuss freely -- especially with someone he hardly knew.

Then again, Petrichor seemed to be the reasonable sort, and with his confirmation that the buck stopped here, Risa could breathe a sigh of relief. "Thanks," said Risa. "I honestly appreciate that." He had his time to vent, but he'd finally put a cap on it. With that, Risa believed to conversation to be over; dead where it belonged.

Now, he could shovel in peace. There was still much to clear.

When Petrichor's next question was posed, Risa gritted his teeth and drove the shovel deep into the snow. His frustration was not with Petrichor -- but with himself. He could not blame him for his curiosity.

"It's fine," Risa acquiesced after a contemplative silence. "I wasn't invited." That was where the kernel of hurt truly rested. Perhaps, he thought, he should have put his foot down on the subject and been more assertive. Then again, there was no changing the course of events now.

[207] // Sweep, shovel, or weed the communal pathways to keep them clear. [1164/900]
OOC: I think we could probably wrap up unless Risa wanted to talk about something else? :D WC: 454

Well... Petrichor supposed he should have been expecting an answer like that. There were a few things he might have suggested if he actually knew Risa and Kira. Maybe Risa should say he wants to go with her or ask why she did not want him to go, if that was the case. But he did not know either of them, so Petrichor figured that was the end of what he should be saying without overstepping, assuming the last question was not overstepping. He clenched his hands on the shovel for a moment and wiggled his toes, trying to find an outlet for the wave of anxiety that crossed his body, starting from his stomach and radiating out. When he was younger, he squirmed a lot, and then his father had informed him that it made his anxiety too obvious and he should not be showing such weakness. After that, he did his best to shove it down and hide it, but that usually led to bottling it up. Maybe he would go for a run later and see if that helped relieve some of it.

"Ah, well, I hope things work out alright," Petrichor said, feeling like he could have said something better that did not just sound like a generic platitude, but really he was just not good at this. It was fine, though, because it was no longer his business to talk about.

Spike chose that moment to amble over to Petrichor as he dumped more snow into the snowbank. When the porcupine reach Petrichor's side, he sat up on his hind legs and put one of his front paws on Petrichor's leg. Petrichor sighed. The food begging was about to begin.

You're perfectly capable of finding your own food," Petrichor grumbled at him even though Spike could not understand the words, other than associating the word food with actual food. He did recognize the tone, though, and rattled his quills in response. Rude. Petrichor stepped away from him to continue shoveling and Spike persisted, just following right along, rattling his quills every time he stopped. Petrichor was sure that Spike was going to start digging at the snow and putting it back on the path or find some other sort of mischief soon if he did not give in and feed him. Sometimes he was pretty sure he owned an extra pointy cat.

"Seems like we've made pretty good progress," Petrichor said to Risa. His arms and back were starting to ache since this was not a chore he was used to doing. He was sure that would get better in time. He could get used to doing this job since it was easy and useful.

Petrichor seemed to have high spirits regarding the situation. A simple platitude as it may have been, any well wishes were always a welcome addition. Risa swallowed them back and quietly nodded in agreement, hoping that he was simply blowing the entire thing out of proportion like always.

His anxieties had only grown over time. The last few years had been pointedly difficult, and he found himself expecting the worst of others more often than naught. There was a part of him that yearned for his lost innocence -- but he supposed he was stronger now. More prepared, but this too came with a cost.

"He's cute," Risa spoke then, looking over his shoulder toward Petrichor's strange animal companion before scooping another shovelful of snow. He couldn't imagine that a porcupine would be the most cuddly of companions, but then again, to each their own. He smiled. A thin, but genuine expression

"Shouldn't be too much longer no-"

He was, however, cut unceremoniously short. A howl rose from the borderlands and his blood immediately ran cold. It was Kira -- and it didn't sound good.

Dropping his shovel, A worry ridden Risa looked to Petrichor and said quickly, "I'm sorry," before dashing away toward the Fort's gate.

[---] // We can probably end it here since im'a have this lead directly into [M] https://soulsrpg.com/forum/showthread.php?tid=52857. I would love to have another thread with Petrichor though!

Forum Jump: