(2018-09-04) Pilots and the Rancher
Small talk hints at something deeper at the Old Spanish Fort.

A cool summer day, early fall even. Danny likes it, just a long sleeve shirt and some jeans. He's used to far cooler weather, not near as cold as it can get in Calaveras, but cooler at least. He's found some coffee to drink and a pastry of some sort, and he's claimed a table in the food court at the center, away from others but where he could be spotted from anyone entering the Spanish Fort stylized shopping center. He sort of blows the top of his coffee out of instinct and its clearly an iced coffee. Like a habit to pass time and not drink his drink until company arrives.

One of the ranch's old Ford pickups pulls in, nothing fancy as what she drives when she hauls her son around, but something serviceable. It's thrown into park and out steps Holly. She's been working all morning so the break will do her good. Wearing a pair of faded jeans, her leather work gloves are tucked into a back pocket, the fingers of them dangling down. She has hat hair, her Stetson is in the truck though, and her shirt is a flannel yellow, gray and black this time. Her booted feet stride towards him, all business looking except that troubled expression on her face. As she approaches, she notices his drink and food and opts to get something for her own hands to be occupied and veers off for a coffee. A tall coffee. It's there she stands, waiting for the order to be filled.

Not seeing her at first of course, Danny doesn't touch food or drink the he found. Instead he keeps looking around, as if this is the first time he's been to this shopping center/venue. It takes a few moments, but eventually he might notice Holly. At which point he'll do that confusing thing everyone does at a distance. He waves to get her attention without calling out, so others in the vicinity of where she get's coffee could easily think he's waving to them too. But he waves and circles his hand to invite her in that direction, or to let her know where he is. He can see she's getting coffee, more just to let her know. Instead of doign the sane thing, like texting her really quick to say where he is sitting.

Declan finds himself strolling by the Old Spanish Fort and apparently decides to turn and make his way to the food court. He glances around, seemingly unfamiliar with the area, before he draws closer to the scent of pastries and other baked goods. He takes this chance to order a cup of hot tea and an egg sandwich, then moves off to the side to wait for it to be done. He gives a polite nod to Holly, standing around with his hands close to his jeans pockets as he waits patiently for his slightly overpriced order to be done.

The drink order given and finally received, Holly opts not to order any food. She does step aside for the next person in line and some of the troubled look fades from her expression as she catches that polite nod. "Good afternoon," she greets in turn. "The coffee is good. A little overpriced, but worth it in the long run." A half smile at her own helpfulness, she glances back out and notices the wave. There's a nod given over but before she walks over towards Danny, she murmurs something about facing demons. A deep breath, a nod to Declan, then she releases the rest of that inhale. One step at a time carries her over there and the closer she gets, the more troubled she looks until she's at his table and placing her coffee down, then taking a seat there. "You ever dance with the devil in the pale moon light? I always ask that of all my prey. I just like the sound of it." She's all serious looking and sounding until she's not and she's cracking up herself and waving away the weirdness. "Sorry.."

He sees her speaking with someone, he doesn't continue that wave and lets her take her time. He remains quiet until she approaches. "What," he blinks, not catching on the quote. "Prey?" He half grins, not getting it but she cracked herself up, that earns a smile from him at least. "No, its good. Just not sure what that was." He lifts his hand to wave at Declan, then circles him over too. "You're friend can join us if you want. If you brought him for support or whatever, he can join us." Completely misreading Declan's position relative to Holly and assuming she had a friend. The does turn to her then, "It is good to see you, sorry for my reaction back on Friday night. I just … its new, I wasn't sure how to react."

Declan glances aside at the sight of a wave aimed his way, extending his own hands to grab his cup of tea and egg sandwich before turning his body more fully to look towards Danny and Holly. "Er, hi there." Immediately, it's clear his accent isn't the same as one of the locals, and he glances between Danny and Holly, lifting his eyebrows. "Oh. No. I didn't come in with her, but, uh, if you want extra company…" He lets out a little chuckle and shrugs one shoulder, before bringing his cup up to his lips for a taste of his hot drink.

The tables are a little busy and so she slides her chair over some to invite him to sit at the table with them. There were extra seats. "Why not?" A smile is given towards Danny for his invitation. "That was a great idea and what I quoted was from Batman. I like movie quotes for some reason." A touch of a wry look. "You've no need to apologize, Danny, really." She scoots a chair out for Declan. "I'm Holly, a rancher around these parts. I figure an introduction would be a good start for the three of us." Encouraging the group as a whole.

Realizing his mistake as its pointed out, Danny does get a little red in the cheeks with his own embarrassment. Not a thick flush or anything, enough to be noticed though. "Yeah," he agrees, pointing to the chair as Holly moves to make room. "You can join us." His own accent isn't local, its not thick but a hint New England, just enough at least. "I'm Danny, new in town, one of the seasonal wild fire pilots." No telling how many they have even. "And doesn't sound like you're from around here either?" An open invitation in the introductions, he looks towards Holly to help make the point, she had 'local accent' more so than the others in present company.

"Thanks." Declan sets his wrapped-up sandwich down on the table in front of the extra chair, alongside his drink, and flashes an easygoing smile at the pair. There's a hint of New Englander in his accent, too, though it isn't particularly strong. "Yeah, I'm new, too. The name's Declan. You're a pilot, huh? I fly helicopters, myself," he says to Danny. Once he's settled into his conveniently-placed chair he looks between them and says, "I used to do tours and stuff like that. I'm from Boston, actually. Well, not really, but close enough to it anyway."

"I'm from here. Born and raised. Lived here all of my life except when I left for college for a few years. Came right back. This place has a way of sucking you in and keeping you here. My roots run deep out at the ranch though, so I've no regrets." With a half smile, Holly uses her coffee for what it was intended. Wrapping her hands around it, it saves her from wondering what to do with them. "I was just speaking with Danny about that. His off season is coming seeon," she tells Declan. "I mentioned something about helicopter flights for tourists and all. I t hink that'd be welcome here. I have a landing pad out at the ranch for emergencies, but it's never used. It's just there."

Danny's is south of there, his mild accent. He affirms, "Not too far away, Providence here." Rhode Island. He reaches for his pastry as they all warm up to conversation just a little. "Yeah, that sounds like a good gig. I can't fly a helicoptor, just the bigger beasts for water bombing the fires. And its true, she was suggesting it as something I could do during the off season." Though sheepish look, he admitted he can't fly a helicoptor. "Now would be a good time to get set up doing that too. Unless you're helping with emergencies like that." He looks and nods to Holly, bush pilot could get vets out to the ranches as needed, it sounded good too. "Maybe I'm flying the wrong thing." He asides that comment as it crosses his mind, but he's smiling with no intention to suddently start getting flight time with something else.

Declan nods a couple of times, sitting back and crossing one leg over the other. "That's fair. You could still do something with planes, like, I dunno… skydiving? Is that a thing around here?" He takes a sip of his tea, looking over to Holly. "Your own landing pad? That's pretty neat, even if it doesn't get used. I'm working on getting a little business going on the east side of town. Maybe before winter comes, so the skiers can buzz around the mountains a bit before sliding down." He cracks a little grin at the idea, then starts to unwrap his sandwich, eager to take a bite out of the thing. After chewing and swallowing, he says, "But we'll see. Better not to rush these kinds of things. But I'm definitely not regretting my move here."

"More of a heli-pad. Definitely nothing to land an airplane on. Not enough flat land out there for anything like that. Would be ideal though, getting supplies flown in on a plane. In my dreams." Another wry look from Holly. The coffee is held, the temp inside still too warm for drinking. "Well that sounds like a great idea. The town booms in the winter with visitors ready to ski. Silver Lake even gets winter attention and with all the tunnels running through it, someone's always needing airlifted out after a rescue." She looks thoughtfully to Danny and gives an almost absent nod. "Or just stay on doing what you're doing. Surely they keep pilots on for the lower elevations."

A nod from Danny, he washes down a bite of his pastry with some of coffee. "Maybe, I can look into it for sure. Just, like you said, no rush. I've no clue in how to run or start up a business like that. I might be better off working the fire season then seeing what its like around here." An agreement with Holly there, "If they need an airlift pilot,I could do some bush work I guess. Maybe a few mountain lakes up there for camping without road access. Take campers in and out too." He shrugs a little though, "Not sure if there is enough rescue work to maintain an off season contract. Like Declan says, best not to rush. Maybe I'll enjoy time off down here, I know in Canada, wasn't much to do during off season." He half grins, "I could learn to Ranch, help out around one of those." More meaning Holly's as he probably isn't a good ranch hand.

"Yeah… a side gig isn't such a bad idea," Declan admits, taking another, smaller bite of his food. "You know, learning to ranch is actually pretty good. I mean, there's a lot of ranches around, right? You'd get a lot of work, or at least, guaranteed work when you need it." He washes down what he swallowed with a bit more tea. "I was an Air Force guy, so I got around, but I never lived in Canada. Heard it was nice though. Visited Toronto once… and Calgary. Neat places." He looks toward Holly with a light smile and says, "Good to know when the town booms though. You're local. Do you have a favorite place around these parts, or favorite thing to do, or something like that?"

"You're welcome to come try out the ranch. There's a bunkhouse for the hands and Cookie serves three square. As long as you're not watching your cholesterol you'll do fine. He's old school. Seventy-six now and more stubborn than a mule. He secretly runs the men, not my foreman, but don't tell Frank that." Frank, her foreman. "He thinks he's got the upper hand, but I've heard them argue. Cookie is tenacious. Like a damn badger." Holly's smile returns edged with amusement. "Oh there's a lot of places around for the tourists. The harvest season has the Orchard booming and a corn maze at one of the other ranches. I supply the rodeo, which was last weekend, with some broncos and bulls for the competitions. My ranch and another local one. Cooperstown is a western town operating out to the south east and has a prior mine that's closed, but you can still go explore down there if you do it in off hours. Just duck behind the ropes. Hidden entrances everywhere. Silver Lake is definitely an attraction, it's north east. The mountains and skiing are great. My son loves to ski, he's good at it. He's 13 and doesn't know what Halo is. I'm kind of proud of that. He's an outdoors fellow."

A slight grin then a chuckle form Danny. "What is it with badgers, I heard they can be tough, but people seem to like to bring them up." Taking another drink, he turns to Declan, "Not in the service, did some commerfical flying out of College but, waasn't me. Saw an add for training up in Manitoba, couldn't pass it up. Stayed there a few years but just missed hom." He offers some of his story as well, the relevant parts it would sem. He listens about that kid, "He does sound great. Out side doing things. I'll have to see what he likes around town too, try to do some of that stuff, when I have more time."

Declan's eyebrows slide up at the mention of a thirteen year old that doesn't know about Halo. He takes a sip of his tea and says, "Yeah, it's good to see kids are still doing things outside around here. Instead of yelling at some other kid over the Internet about some dumb game. But clearly I have some exploring to do." He rolls his shoulder out and gives a nod to Holly, before looking over at Danny again. "That's pretty neat stuff. Fun times to be had, flying around. That's for sure." He gets a bit more quiet now, and takes one bite of his sandwich, then another, apparently intent on finishing it before it gets too cold.

"Someone else talking about badgers?" Holly smirks and finally lifts her drink for a sip, testing the temperature. It passes muster so she has a bigger drink and sighs with contentment. "You're welcome to come see him anytime, Danny. You're his mentor after all." The cup goes back on the table and she glances towards some of the shops in the area. "This is the expensive section of town."

As they talk, Danny beeps. It sounds like a beeper, but he reaches for his phone. Tapping the screen to turn to the lock-key thing at least, he reads a message. "That's me. I have to report in. A fire up near the mountains close to Antler Pass it looks like." He takes coffee and crumbs to dump in a trash bin, nodding to each. "I'll come see him, he wants me to see the place." To Holly. Then to Declan, "It is a good place, I guess I'm getting hooked too, like she said. Good luck with that potential start up, sounds viable at least." Tourists and all, then back to Holly, "We'll catch up later? Figure it all out?" He waits for them to respond, but waves eventually, "Take care, good to meet you."

Declan glances over to Danny at the sound of beeping and flashes him a smile. "Thanks, and see you around." He glances to Holly curiously at the mention of figuring things out, but elects not to voice his curiosity, instead taking a sip of his drink after giving Danny a wave goodbye. He settles comfortably in his chair and shifts his attention to Holly, the bare wrapper that once held a sandwich sitting before him.

There's not surprise as Danny heads out to leave, she just watches him a moment, "Yeah we'll catch up later." An exhale when he does walk off and she looks back to Declan in time to catch that curiosity. "It's an old, overtold story, I reckon." By way of explanation. "Thirteen years ago back at college I should have told him." She smirks and glances back towards the way Danny had gone. "Accidentally ran into him the other day again after all this time. Told him belatedly he had a son." A shake of her head. "I guess it doesn't quite work like that."

Declan takes a moment to process that, and then nods slowly after he appears to be done. "Huh. Yeah, that's… quite a coincidence there." He pauses a moment, and takes a sip of his tea. "He seems like a nice guy though. Er, if I knew how far you guys went back, in that way, I would've… y'know, gave you your space." He gestures around the table vaguely as if to signify the aforementioned space. "You're on good terms though, it seems? Kinda rare these kinds of things happen and everyone involved's amenable to further discussion."

"Actually, you saved me from a deeper discussion than I was ready for. When I told him, he just walked off and now he wants to talk. I'm just not sure I'm ready." Holly leaves it at that and takes another sip of her coffee. "Guess I won't ever be ready." She handwaves, "Anyway, shit happens and people get over it. Or they don't. We'll see what happens. So you're looking to settle in and stay awhile?"

"I figure you'll be ready at some point, but it does sound like something you both have to be ready for, at the same time." Declan nods a couple of times. "Anyway. Yeah. I plan on being here for the long haul. The business I hope to set up is kind of an offshoot of the tour business I used to work for. I moved up in the ranks and they trusted me with starting my own, uh… branch, you could say." He gestures upward vaguely with one hand. "But yeah. Calaveras is home, now."

"Eventually." Short and sweet Holly leads out of that part of the conversation to focus more on him for now. "I think your idea is ideal for the town. You'll fit right in with the others and there are so many things to do and see here. The mountains are amazing and the snow, when it comes, is nice for skiing. Summer is also good for tourists. The mountains and the lake. Explorations. Going from here to the bigger cities, like Denver."

Declan bobs a couple of easy nods. "Yeah, sort of an air taxi service. That'd be pretty neat. Delivering supplies, too, and stuff like that." He takes a sip of his tea. "I'm glad you think it'll work out. I hope it does, for sure. Just have to actually, y'know… try it. I'm working on buying a helicopter, so, yeah, that day's coming soon." He pauses for a moment then asks, "Is there anything around you'd like to see from the air sometime?"

"You bet. The outer reaches of the ranch that take over a day to ride. Unreachable by vehicle. I'd like to check the fences and then fly over the winter pasture make sure there's no erosion issues, that there's plenty of water in the creek and it's flowing good enough to not freeze this winter, but not so rapid that it sweeps the cows over. Make sure the field is high enough that if it snows, there'll still be plenty to eat for them. There's a ton I could do in a helicopter." Holly laughs, "Sorry you asked yet?"

Declan lets out a soft laugh and shakes his head. "That all sounds pretty… practical. Although a ranch that has outer reaches that are a day out on horseback sounds like something I'd like to see from above, anyway. Maybe you could convince me to take you along when I take the chopper for a test run?" He squints a moment at his own statement and says, "It'll be safe."

"I'm pretty practical most of the time. Every action causes a reaction. I learned that with my son. I'm fairly careful about what I do now." Holly tilts her head just a smidge to the side and regards him a moment. "Pecos Ranch is the one I have. Technically, my father still owns it, but he and ma are living with my sister in California, living out their dreams he was too busy running a ranch to chase. I may have to try and convince you to take me up sometime."

Declan's expression sobers somewhat at the mention of Holly's son. "Yeah. Makes sense." He manages to smile a little again and says, "Well, people tell me I'm pretty easy to convince, so. Yeah. My parents don't have much to their name besides a mortgage I'm helping pay down. But that's alright. To be honest I wouldn't know what to do with a whole lot of land out here, and it would probably go to waste. I'll be happy with the little house and landing pad I'm looking to get, once the papers are all signed."

"Not a man of high maintenance are you? That's nice, simplistic and all. So you worked tourism back in Boston? What sort of flights did you do there? Now that her coffee is more fully cooled, she takes a drink of it and follows with another. "Are you planning on doing it in town, the new business and house, or out of town?"

Declan lifts a hand in a wavering motion. "I'm hoping to get set up east of town. Just on the edge, really. I think it's called Cedar Pines?" He takes a sip of his drink. "But, yeah, that's what I did in Boston, although sometimes I'd move around here and there, depending on where tourists were clumping up. So, New York, Chicago, places like that." He wets his lips. "The tours took people around big monuments, like the Statue of Liberty, or along waterways like the Charles River. Really, it depended on where I was working at the time, but they all sort of follow the same theme. Fly near big things that people don't usually get to see from a certain angle."

"That's the opposite side of town from me. I'm west into the Granja Basin. Most of the ranches out that way are the size of mine. Some smaller, some larger. I'm pressing to buy more land from my neighbor, but it's always a dispute over that parcel. We'll see." Holly looks intrigued though, over his work from before. "Sounds like you had a really good set up where you were. What brings you here then?"

Declan sits back and gets a little more comfortable upon hearing the question. "Well, the company I worked for sent me out here to help set up tour businesses further west. And I'm putting part of the investment into it, too, because it's such a good opportunity. There's a different sort of thing to see out here, it seems, but it's still impressive. - I figure I'll hire a few people to help me out and see how things go. But it's got to start small first, to measure interest and stuff like that." He smiles gently towards Holly before taking the last sip of his drink, finishing it off.

"I'm fairly sure you're going to be a big hit here. There are some businesses in town, like the local hotels maybe that you could get in touch with and put ads in their locations so set your name out to the right clientele. People who own the higher class places like Winchester in town, maybe a Bed and Breakfast or two. Perhaps even the country club so the word gets out to the right people." Holly finishes off her own coffee and keeps hold of the cup while looking around for the trash bin. "Have you got a business card or anything yet?"

Declan shakes his head. "No, not yet. Gotta get those printed at some point. I didn't get here with much, and I'm staying at a hotel until things get sorted out. But, yeah, it'll be good to see the business succeed and all that." He cracks a little grin. "I'm glad you think I'm going to do well. I hope you're right. This is a pretty cozy place, so far. It's a nice change of pace compared to what I'm used to."

"Then look me up in the phone book. Pecos Ranch, I'm a dinosaur that still has a land line out there. At least it's no longer a party line." With a laugh, Holly gets to her feet and holds out her hand, "I'm going to throw this away anyway, would you like me to take yours?" Offering to take his trash for him. "I like Calaveras. Nothing much not to like here. I'm sure you'll get along with the other locals."

"Oh, thanks." Declan picks up his cup to hand it off to Holly. "I'm working on getting my number changed to a local one, but I'll look you up, definitely. And yeah, I think so, too." He cracks a little smile at that.

The trash is taken to the bin and she drops it in, turning back, she saunters over. "I should be getting home. I left Ben there with Cookie. Ben will learn all the four letter words in one day if I leave him too long." Likely he already knows them. Holly can pretend he doesn't. "It was nice meeting you, Declan. I look forward to talking with you again."

Declan grins and gives Holly a nod. "Yeah, definitely. It was good meeting you too! I'm sure I'll see you around." He gives her a wave, fluttering fingers and all. "You take care, now."

With the farewells given, Holly smiles, turning towards the exit and her old beat up Ford truck. She slides in and starts it before heading off.

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