He didn't see how Nick reacted to the last spook...
Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5 - Part 6 - Part 7 - Part 8
Word Count: 2,814
TW - brief mentions of violence
Here Be Giants - Part 9 -
‿︵‿✎ Misunderstandings and Translators ✎‿︵‿
Chris sat, crouched on one knee at the side of the building. His coat and gloves laid crumpled behind him, with spare wooden beams, dried grasses, a bucket of plaster, and chipped sheets of the broken wall strewn on the moss at his sides - the new materials all ready supplies from the library cellar.
‘Does just fine against animals’, my arse…
A hole yawned where the damage had been, with state insulation poking out from the inner wall. He’d replaced a broken board - the source of the snapping sound - and tossed its crooked halves tossed aside among the rest of the litter.
He frowned, plucking up the bucket and wiping out a mound of plaster to reseal the wall, pausing to brush a forearm over his damp face.
The sun was warm. Too warm. Its rays burned on his back, sending hours of heat running through his limbs and turning his clothes tacky with sweat.
Once satisfied with his work, he set down the bucket. He climbed to his feet despite the complaints in his muscles, which pulled a groan from his lungs as he reached to shuffle off his plaid shirt.
But the mess of clay on his hands caught his eye, and he stopped.
The river’s too far by now teh wash this off again…
Chris blinked, turning to find Nick at his feet.
He smiled up at him. His striped top was gone, his long sleeves rolled up on his arms,
wet patches darkening the cloth.
“You thirsty yet, big guy?” He asked.
Chris breathed a huff, shifting his tongue in his dry mouth.
Nick grinned. With a spin of his heels, he waved a hand overhead in a beckon, taking off to jog around the corner.
“C’mon! I’ve got something for yah!”
A curious frown spread on Chris’s face.
He followed, taking care to be mindful of his feet.
The large hatchway of the cellar sat at the base of the house, a bin beside it as it was before. But a wide, low barrel now stood propped against the wall, and a leather hose wound from under the ajar lid of the bin, wrapped loosely on top.
Nick threw his arms out, gesturing to the barrel.
He put his hands on his sides, breathing a contented huff.
“We couldn’t find much that would work as a cup, but we did have this.”
Chris blinked. He walked around him, staring at it. He crouched, nearly wrapping his messy fingers around it before he caught himself, and he brushed them over themselves at his side.
“Is. Is that a stompin’ press?”
He raised his brow as he looked back to Nick.
“Yeh make wine?”
“We tried - once. But uhhh…”
His wings shifted on his back, one of his eyes squinting with a grimace as he tilted his head with a click of his tongue.
“Be glad you weren’t there for it!” He snorted.
Chris wiped a palm on the ground, leaving smears of clay over the moss.
Nick grabbed the hose, pushing the bin’s lid away to reach inside. With a repeated creak, the hiss of water rushed through the line and poured from the end.
Chris checked his hand, only to find the plaster still clung to his skin.
He scowled, breathing a huff.
“Eh, mind if I wash myself first?” He asked. “Don’t want teh get it filthy again after yeh just went teh all the trouble o’ cleanin’ it.”
Nick grabbed the hose, tossing it forward.
Placing a thumb over the end, he forced the water into a pressured jet and directed it toward the ground near him.
Chris gave a nod, putting his hands under the spray.
»———— ✯ ⋅. 𝄞 .⋅ ✯ ————«
Nick shifted on his feet as he waited, waving the hose over whatever splotches the giant missed, getting amused grins from him in response.
He’d smile back, all the while sneaking glances to his face.
“H-hey. Can I ask you something?”
“Hmm?” Chris flicked his wrists, sending droplets flying from his fingers.
He latched an entire hand over the barrel, righting it on the ground.
“O’ course. Feel free.”
Nick set the still running hose in the makeshift cup.
“You, uh-” he brushed his hands on his shirt, “I, couldn’t help but notice your, words don’t always fit with your… mouth.” His wings shifted, and he quickly folded his arms over his chest. “Do, do you have a translator? Or, uh…”
Or am I being really rude about something right now?
Chris’s expression fell.
His eyes darted over him.
And he chuckled, an amused smirk growing on his face.
“Yeah, I have translators.”
He pointed to his double pair of brass earrings.
Nick flashed a puzzled frown.
The giant paused.
He hesitated, then tapped at the thin loop above his earlobe.
“This, this set translates for me teh hear,” he explained, tapping the larger stud below it, “an’, the other translates for me teh speak.”
Chris frowned, regarding him with a sideways look.
“I, don’t get it. Is there somethin’ I’m missin’ here?”
Nick tilted his head.
“Well, no one’s allowed to have enchanted items without them being marked as one. I guess that’s not the same in other places?”
Chris breathed a hum.
“No. I’ve, never heard that one before.”
Nick nodded, tightening his lips.
“It’s… kinda illegal for anything magic not to be marked somehow.” He tugged at the high collar of his shirt. “Like, how this is a uniform from the University. It’s only given to students, and you’re not allowed to practice unless wearing it. Er, at least not in public. Or in the cities.
He nodded to the giant’s ears. “And, most translators here are a band worn around the wrist, so it’s clear to see. Plus they’re stamped with a sigil.”
“Yeh sayin’ I could land in some kind o’ trouble then, havin’ these?”
Nick looked to the ground, his gaze turning distant in thought.
Then he shook his head with a wave of his hand.
“Aghh, don’t worry about it. I doubt anyone would care. Just, maybe don’t tell too many people, okay?”
Chris breathed a snort.
“Not many people who’d prolly talk willingly with me, anyways.”
His expression turned back to a frown.
“So, kin I ask you somethin’?”
A grin spread over Nick’s lips.
The giant fixed him in a squint.
“‘Nick’ isn’t your real name, is it.”
“Uhhhh… no.” He chuckled. “And neither is ‘Nicholas’. I’ve never actually heard that name until you called me it.”
Chris’s face twisted with confusion once more.
“I take it then it’sss… private, somehow.”
Nick shuffled on his feet, giving a nod.
“Yeah. It can be risky, having a stranger know your name.”
Chris pulled back, tilting his head. “They goin’ teh put yeh on a hit list or somethin’?”
“Well,” Nick bit his lip, “kinda, I guess. It’s just, bad folks out there - they can do things to you if they know it.” His wings drooped. “They can, they can make you do things.”
His gut twisted, a knot tightening in his throat.
Like how I could with you.
A huge finger pushed into his chest, knocking him off balance, and he reactively shot his arms around it.
But it was a gentler shove than at the river, and he found himself looking up to see a wide grin spread on Chris’s face, his brow furrowed a hint with mischief.
“I’d bet money you’ve never heard a language like my kin’s, before.”
Nick’s brow shot up.
He pushed off the finger to straighten himself.
“Well since you’re offering, I’d like to hear it whether or not there’s a bet!”
Chris shook with a booming laugh.
He thudded back to his rear, sending a tremor through the ground that rattled into Nick’s feet, and leaned forward over his knees as he tilted his head side to side to unclip the jewelry.
Placing them on the ground, he looked back to him again.
His deep voice rolled with a guttural lining, the words thick like the muscles of his throat actively constricted against themselves with every syllable.
“Tak chto ty dumayesh' togda, eh? Vy slyshali chto-to podobnoye ran'she?”
Nick’s eyes widened. His feathers ruffled with a shiver.
Gods - you are kinda scary, aren’t you?
»———— .❅*⋆⍋⋆*❅. ————«
Chris folded his arms together on top of his knees, his shoulders bouncing with a chuckle.
“Now what does yours sound like?” He asked, knowing full well it would make no sense to him.
Nick only kept staring. His wings rose to his sides.
A bitter hint of fear wafted from him.
Chris’s expression melted.
Shite - was that too far?
He shifted, trying not to show how he sucked in a breath.
Then a wondrous grin spread over Nick’s face.
He jumped forward, wings fluttering with excitement as words like a melody poured from his mouth.
“Woah-hoh-hoh! Ouais, je ne peux pas dire que j'ai déjà entendu quelque chose comme ça! C'est comme un lion rugissant! Pouvez-vous le refaire?” He gasped. “Attendre attendre!”
Chris blinked as he rushed up to his legs, putting a hand onto his prosthetic.
Nick’s face turned to a frown.
He took his hand away, then put it back.
He scratched it with his little fingers.
“Attends, pourquoi est-ce bizarre?”
Slowly, Chris let out the breath.
He licked his lips, bobbing his head to the side with a chuckle as his smile returned.
“Alright, looks like I’ve never heard anythin’ like that, either!” He laughed, but huffed a sigh.
That was too close for comfort…
He unfolded his arms, letting a hand wander for the earrings as he watched Nick’s expression fall flat a moment.
“Alors tu ne sais pas ce que je dis, n'est-ce pas?” His wings shifted on his back with a pause.
“Eh, hang on. I don’t know what-“
His palm touched the brass.
“T-ou’re really cool!”
Chris froze, his brow shooting up.
Nick blinked. He followed Chris’s arm to the earrings.
“Oh, heh, you understood that one…” He looked back, his grin widening sheepishly. “Well, you are though! Uh, cool.” He beamed again. “I, I’m glad I’ll get to work with you!”
Chris’s jaw fell slack. He stared down at the summoner.
And his heart sank.
No. No, that was already too much.
Maybe you didn’t summon me teh be a monster, but you’re not the only one teh have done it.
His jaw clenched. A pang shot through his chest.
Like it or not, I’ll be havin’ teh kill somethin’ - or someone - eventually. An’… I don’t know what I’ll do if I get too attached, just teh see a friendly face turn scared o’ me.
His tongue grated sharply against his teeth.
With a decisive huff, he clipped the earrings back in their places, pulling his legs away to get to his feet.
He shoved a hand in his pocket, sticking a thumb over his shoulder.
“I-I, I eh - need teh take a leak. ‘Scuse me.”
He turned, hurrying to step over the hedge. The shadows of the canopy cut off the incessant heat of the day, but he shrugged off the plaid shirt for extra measure,
Sorry, half-pint. I can’t keep playin’ friendly with yeh.
He grit his teeth, ignoring the twist in his gut.
We’ll just both be gettin’ hurt like that.
»———— ✯ ⋅. 𝄞 .⋅ ✯ ————«
Nick blinked, watching him leave.
A knot tightened in his throat.
Did. Did I make him uncomfortable?
He stared into the forest.
Did I say something wrong?
He crossed his arms with a frown, resting his chin in his hand as he started to pace over the moss, racking his brain for what little he knew of giants.
It was just a compliment. It - it couldn’t have been taken any negative way, could it? Is there a cultural thing I don’t know about?
A grimace twisted his face, and he bit his lip.
“AH!” His wings shot out as he whirled around with a jump.
Jinx strolled up to him, a poorly stifled smile on her face as she breathed a laugh.
Her expression dropped, and she raised a brow.
Nick glanced over his shoulder.
He sighed, wiping a hand on his forehead as his wings settled back behind him.
“He left. I dunno.”
His shoulders drooped.
“But, I think he was lying about needing the bathroom...”
Jinx’s face pinched.
“Ooh. I didn’t think of that.”
Nick paused. He turned back to her with a puzzled frown.
“What, think of a bathroom?”
She nodded, frowning as her fingers twisted at her dress.
“The, uh, part about whatever comes out of a giant being somewhere near my house is… not pleasant.”
Nick tightened his lips. He blew a snort, his mouth pulling into a reluctant smile as he wagged his head.
“Well, if it helps, I don’t think you need to worry about it just yet.” He gestured to the still filling barrel. “He - oh crap“ He hurried over to turn the water off. “He hasn’t drank anything this whole time, at least.”
His stomach twisted.
That can’t be healthy.
Jinx hummed to herself in thought. Then she turned to the hatchway doors.
“Speaking of which, I need your help. There’s some scrap in the cellar he can have.”
She flung the doors open, and they clanged as they bounced on the moss.
Nick hesitated, glancing to the woods behind him once more.
He sprang on his feet, trotting up behind her as she stepped into the dark.
The smell of musty earth filled his lungs. The air dropped to a chill as the sunlight dimmed to a faint glow. Silhouettes stood in the shadows of the wide stone room, it’s furthest reaches fading into the dark.
Nick snapped up his wrist, and the cold light of a miniature star flickered into being in his upheld palm, revealing a neatly stacked pile of lumber, a half strewn pile of metallic odds and ends, and a large corner of assorted items.
He strode to the bits of metal as Jinx went to the clutter in the far end of the room.
“At least he doesn’t strictly need blood.” She mused. “I’d alway thought it was for the iron, but I couldn’t exactly test that.”
She pulled a wheelbarrow out and steered over.
Nick frowned at the metal.
“Why do you even have all this?”
He made a fist in the air, and the orb hovered in place, leaving him free to drop and wrap his arms around as much metal as he could before dumping it with a clatter into the barrow.
Jinx pursed her lips in a smug smile, grabbing an armful of her own. She lifted her chin, wiggling her head at him as she stood.
“Wouldn’t yOu LiKe To KnOw.”
She tossed it in as well.
He breathed a scoff, wiggling his head right back as he continued.
“Well that’s wHy I’m AsKiNg.”
Her expression broke with a snort.
But then her face fell all together.
“I, wanted to try my hand at alchemy.” She whispered, her voice solemn. “See how it goes.”
Nick paused despite his lopsided grip, brow furrowing as he watched her carry on in silence.
Her eye caught his, and she stopped with a scowl.
“What? It’s different enough. Can’t I try something new?”
His lip pulled with a grimace.
“You… you sure you’re okay with it?”
She held her gaze for a beat, then turned again to the pile.
“I can’t keep doing this, Nick.” She whispered, dumping another armful. She met his eyes again, the frown melting. “I, I have to try again, at some point.”
His brow knit, lips tightening as he searched her face.
Then he smiled with a nod.
“It’d be nice to see you around more often.”
She paused, letting herself smile as well.
“Well I’m not going back to the University after all this.” Her voice rose to its usual tone, her smile taking a playful twist as she chucked away another pile of metal. “Those professors can go run up a tree!”
Nick snickered, joining her again in grabbing an armful of his own.
“Dr. Burns is still as delightful as ever.” He quipped.
Jinx scoffed. “Oh Burns! He can go run a tree up his rear!”
Nick breathed a mock gasp, putting a hand to his lips. His amusement still shining through the mask.
“My lady how uncouth!” He teased.
He belted a laugh as she gave his arm a light smack.
A flicker of movement caught his eye from the shadows, and he stopped short.
Then a distant bellow whipped them around to the door.
Jinx’s brow knit tight.
“Ohhh, not again…”
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