FHoJ: Chapter 20 - A Fresh Start

Having skipped the Oolro  farm yesterday, Cole pushed himself to go despite the poor mood and  still feeling a bit ill. He was very self-conscience about it however,  even cleaned up the cuts and bruises looked bad even from underneath his  hood, and poor Gale had a limp that seemed to worsen by the end of the  ride. Fortunately he was mostly left alone, but Mrs. Oolro flocked over  him like the mother she was. It was touching and helped his mood a  little, trying dance around the older woman's flustering was very  distracting from his problems.

Finally, she had talked  her husband into having Cole sent home earlier than the others, a truly  was a good thing for him in the end and a welcomed escape. Cole walked  Gale home to ease the burden upon her leg, but before he left Greeny  completely, he saw something was odd about the saddlebag. Stuffed with  in was bread and other food baked by Mrs Oolro. Bless that woman's  heart, he would have to find some way to repay them as a family for  their kindness. For now, he could only look back over the distance with  thanks.

Regardless the thought  had crossed his mind, Cole was surprised to see Jane and Marin there at  this hour of the day, hiding out under the trees twiddling thumbs. Upon  seeing him, Jane got himself up and out of the dust, patted himself down  before standing in address to Cole.

"Honey, I dun fucked up."

It was so ridiculous,  and so Jane, that it got a single laugh out of Cole before he contained  it. He slowly shook his head at it but a smile was trying to take over.  Cole then let Gale go so she could walk herself back to her stall and he  went over to meet them. They too came forward into the clearing but  Marin mainly hung back, standing with arms crossed to watch, a stance  Cole himself would take up while talking to Jane.

"I am but a sinner,  whose father left before teaching his son what it means to be a man..."  Oh God, it got worse. "And thus, grew up one screwed up, selfish  bastard. Forgive me, I know not all that I do and truly am a piece  dirt."

Cole just blinked at him a bit, struggling to process this. Marin's efforts to try and mask his own giggling also not helping.

"This is what works with your wife?" Cole then asked. Jane just put his hands out to his sides with a shrug.

"Sometimes I follow her around on my knees begging," he replied.

"Please do not even try," Cole shot back and the way of communication was reopened.

"You sure? Cause I feel like I could try?" Jane added.

Cole did not look amused. "I will run you off again."

"Well that solves that then!" Jane chimed, and for a moment looked accomplished.

"Bitch, ya didn't offer ta get on yer knees fer me!" Marin cried from behind.

"Shut the hell up!" Jane shot back over his shoulder.

"Na! I changed my mind! I need ya on yer knees before I forgive ya!"

"You can go fuck  yourself then, cause I ain't and don't give a shit anymore!" Jane turned  back around to face Cole, then quickly cleared his throat as he tried  to act as if nothing happened, flashing a very large and very forced  smile.

Cole hid his tired face  into a hand for the moment. This was utterly ridiculous. But  surprisingly Jane's patience with Cole was lasting, waiting to see how  this was to end without blowing up.

So Cole let his stance  relax as he looked upward to the man, holding a hand up slightly as if  about to say something, keeping the man satiated a bit longer while he  formulated what he wanted to say.

"At different points I  had thought about going to locate you to talk, and for my behavior, I  wish to apologize. I was not feeling well in the slightest, at either  time, but it is no excuse for what happened." Jane's eyes widened.

"Well damn," he muttered. "That I didn't expect."

Now it was Cole that left Jane with the final move and he knew he needed to tread lightly.

Perhaps using a lot of  words was the ticket. "So, Bailey said that he can't stand me half the  time," Jane started with. "So I ain't expecting us to come out of this  as friends... Also said I needed to grow up, which... um... ...fuck..."  Cole went back to crossing his arms as he let this attempt unfold.  "Oh-! He also said ya didn't go to market day, so..." Jane looked back  and started snapping his fingers at Marin, who then had to scramble to  get something from the saddlebag and gave it a toss over. "I guess ya  normally get bread from Wendy, but seeing as that didn't happen, I  picked some up for ya from Petra and Holly." Jane then handed out the  small sack with what appeared to have a fair number of rolls inside.

Cole was quite surprised looking as he took it. "Oh... Thank you, Jane. That... This is actually thoughtful of you."

"Yeah, call it a peace offering, eh? Usually works with Rosy," Jane added while Cole was still looking at it.

Cole then licked his lips and he lifted his eyes back up to Jane. "Are you... calling me a woman?"

Jane's eyes grew the  biggest they ever got and Marin could be heard slapping himself. "What??  NO! Shit! Ah- No! Nonono... Ahh haa haa... No...." He then realized  Marin was walking off, not wanting to see whatever would happen next.  "Noo... that is not– EHY! Get back here, points!" He saw Cole was  looking very serious. "Eh- hey, you want to hear something funny about  that?" Cole just slowly shook his head and Jane sighed in defeat.

"Jane," Cole said.

Jane started to cringe, looking ready to receive a blow. "Yeah?"

"Are we good?"

Jane's eyes opened. "Are  we good?" he repeated under his breath, unsure at first. Cole was  giving him the way out. He then put his arm out to Cole. "Are we good?"  he then said, stronger and with meaning.

"We are good," Cole replied, clasping wrists with Jane and affirming with a head nod.

Jane was relieved, blown  away even that his piss-poor apology was accepted. "Shit that was  hard," he then blurted as he stepped away to breath. Cole rolled his  eyes a bit. But this was Jane,

his level of effort put forth was surprising.

"Ehy, Cole," Marin piped up. "Was d'ere anyth'n between us?"

"Should there be?" Cole asked.

"Nope!" Marin shot back.  "Not a damn thing." Cole could hold a great deal it against him too,  guilty by association, but a blank slate was just that and Marin would  accept it with pleasure.

So now the air was  finally clear of conflict, the men could go on with normal lives and  pass each other without stress or concern, but much was still unanswered  as to what to do now. None of the men wanted to be the first ones to  ask about what was next.

There was some heel digging at the ground, some pursed lips, some hems and haws.

"Eh, Cole. Can I ask ya  what happened to your garden?" Jane said after the silence grew thick.  Cole's demeanor changed a bit just then.

"I was wanting to ask you about that," he replied.

Jane went from puzzled  to miffed. "Whoh! Hey! You ain't trying to say I could have done that,  are you??" He paused. "Okay yeah, that is something I would do and for similar reasons. But, NO! I did not touch your shit!"

It was this way when  Cole woke up, fencing displaced and broken, and all the beds uprooted or  stamped down. Even for the Bucks it was a sad sight to see when they  initially saw it, but they were not sure if not possibly Cole did it  himself in some fit of rage.

"What ya have planted?" Marin asked as they all just stood around and leaned on the undamaged sides.

"Mostly sprouted potatoes in the middle," Cole replied.

"Maybe they will poison the damn thing," Jane remarked. "Looks like your cucumbers here are doing okay."


"So it's personal now, huh?" Marin asked.

Cole wasn't sure how to  reply. When he first found it he was mad, but now it was one less thing  to keep him here. Nor should it have been a tie, this garden was made as  a means to keep from being idle after all, not a long term plan.

"Would ya like us ta help ya fix it?" Marin offered.

Cole gave it a little  thought and shook his head. "I am not worried about it. But thank you."  He gave a slight smile to Marin then looked to Jane, he still had the  sack of rolls gripped in hand. "And thank you for these."

"Yeah, sure. Mentioned  to the girls they were for you, Petra sure grew interested all of a  sudden." Cole's expression shifted and Jane gave him a smirk. "Ain't  nothing between you two, is there?"

"No," Cole said sharply, his expression was very serious.

Jane quirked a brow with his smile. "Ya sure..? She ain't married..." He was trying to implant an idea.

"No," Cole said in just as serious of a tone.

The guise fell from Jane. "Yeah, they all are whores. And everyone knows..."

"I would not know," Cole said. "But they do not act to far from it."

"Eh, wouldn't say all," Marin commented. "Osswin just watches."

Osswin being the husband of Holly.

Both of them looked over at him with mixed expressions.

"And how would you know that?" Jane asked which put Marin into defensive mode.

"Na, that's just what I heard."

"Right..." Jane muttered. "Right..."

"Seriously! I ain't never!"

"I need to unhitch Gale and go in so to rest," Cole interjected and turned to face Jane. "I am glad we resolved this."

"Same, Cole, same," Jane  replied. "Ya sure you don't want any help with this?" Cole confirmed  there was no need to worry about it. "Alright then. But I do got to ask.  Are ya still in for the hunt?"

That was a question Cole didn't already have an answer for and it showed.

"Look. No more forests,"  Jane offered. "We'll keep to paths, even though they take sooo damnnn  loooong... And pick a location to patrol."

Cole was still unsure. Going on further with these two... and everything that happened thus far...

"Obviously not tonight, ya both look like shit," Jane added.

"You want me along?" Cole asked confused. "Initially you were opposed to my coming."

"Eh... Well... it is big..." Jane wavered on. "And, yeah. I suppose we could use your help."

"Come on, Cole," Marin said from his other side. "We could really use ya."

Cole looked ahead in thought, staring at the damages, staring at the deepening shadows as the day went on.

"If you lose me again," Cole eventually said. The Bucks looked at each other.

"If... we lose you again?" Jane asked and Cole nodded.

"If you lose me again." It was a warning. A very open warning without named consequence.

"Wait... but ta lose ya  again... means ya would have ta come with us..." Marin said, not quite  getting it. "Because... yer say'n ya would come with us, if we lose ya  again... but ta loose ya..."

Cole just looked at him  and gave a pained smile. "Yes," he answered. Marin bounced back and for a  bit from a happy look that would indicate he got it, to really not  getting it.

Cole then had his shoulder clasped by Jane. "He'll get it eventually. Tomorrow night? Batseye?"

"Meet you there or go together?"

"We'll meet up there before dusk."