(2018-11-01) Pity
Calvin gets mobbed by some fans while chatting with Kate.

Coffee makes the world go 'round. Keeps people moving, keeps this java joint open. Katherine is here fairly often, she has a coffee machine at home, but the mocha here is better than anything she can make. She stands in line behind two others, hands folded behind her back. The barista spots her and salutes in her direction, so she laughs out loud and steps out of line, moving over to sit at a table. Ten minutes later a plate is dropped off with three pastries, a bagel and a large mocha. She just hands the man a twenty, instructing him to keep the change.

A man enters and a pair of young women follows. Locals know the man. Calvin Shay, duh. Recognizable as a local boy, a business owner, and a celebrity. The latter seems to be what have the female duo excited. They are students from the UCC sweatshirts and backpacks. They keep a distance from Calvin but they are chattering about him anyway, as if he couldn't hear them. "My big sister is a huge fan. She flipped when I got accepted. She knows this is his hometown. She would die a million times if I got a selfie." The other girl is the real fan from the flush on her face. "His entire discography is on my phone /right now/. My dad played his early stuff all the time at home."

To Calvin's credit, he's just grinning to himself and the barista as he orders a turkey sandwich and a flat white. He leans in and adds quietly. "If they order something, it's on me, yeah?" He pays, tips and wanders for a place to sit. He sees Katherine and stops. "Oh, hey. We've met a few times. Mind if I sit with you?"

Katherine blinks, gazing up at Calvin with a big smile on her face. "Please do. I've extra pastries if you'd like one." She scoots a bit and gets comfortable, her hands were below the table and she pulls them up briefly, showing two needles and a lot of yarn. "Don't mind me, I'm knitting." She tilts her head and gazes down at her hands as she speaks up. "So you enjoying being back home? I think everyone is super excited to have a celebrity among us."

"My ex-wife was a hardcore crochet nut. I appreciate all the yarn related arts." Calvin says, leaning back comfortably. "I love my home. I wrote more than one song about it. Never released. They are no Georgia On My Mind or Take Me Home, Country Roads so…they live in a notebook somewhere." The nervous fangirls have taken a seat and are watching-not-watching Calvin from afar. Calvin sighs. "I actually prefer them to come up to me. Get the whole celeb shit over with. They calm down once autographs and pictures are done, you know? Instead, they stare. Which makes me self-conscious. Especially in this time of social media. One slip and it's around the world in moments." He takes one of Katherine's extra pastries with a grin. "You own a…Bed and Breakfast? How's business?" Beat. He leans forward. "What led you into that? Hospitality."

"I crochet too, but knitting is my passion. Keeps me calm and centered." Katherine shares, grinning as Calvin speaks of music. She glances toward the fangirls, an amused look on her face. "I never understood being so nervous about speaking with someone that you'd sit off to the side and stare." She quirks a brow, her eyes on her stitches. "Yes, social media, something I think is one of the banes of our existence. You shouldn't have to look over your shoulder all the time, but you do…everyone does. Just making sure we're not caught doing something the internet can bully us over." She looks up when the Bed and Breakfast is mentioned. "I do!" Her face falls slightly, and she wrinkles her nose. "My parents and some of my siblings were killed by a drunk driver. We had a lot of bedrooms, and I needed a job where I could keep an eye on my two remaining sisters. Flipping burgers or waiting tables wouldn't keep me close to home. Running a B&B though.." She trails off, winking at Calvin. "It's worked out for me the past two years."

"I'm sorry for your loss." Calvin says, with a deep frown. "I lost my brother about two years ago. It's a deep cut but I'm glad you've turned it into something good for you and your family." His order is called up and the fangirls scramble to meet him at the pickup counter. He herds them away from the counter and it's time to do the celebrity meet shuffle. He autographs napkins, getting the names of the people they are for. The phone girl shows her collection of digital tracks and Calvin actually looks impressed. "I thought that song was never relea—Ah, it says demo. Why would you want one of my shitty demos?" He laughs and now it's picture time. He makes a funny little fuss about his hair and beard, making sure he is crumb free before snapping the pictures. Soon, they part with him adding, "Don't forget to tag my Instagram! You ladies enjoy your day."

Finally, turkey and coffee in hand, he returns to the table with Katherine. "Sorry about that. I underestimated their bravery. You called knitting a passion. I've been trying to, uh…bake. Well, it's…just one of many hobbies I'm trying to take up. Music is my everything but I need another…thing, I guess."

Katherine inclines her head as he says kind words, putting her attention to her knitting so she doesn't get upset, or worse, cry. She watches him go to the counter, resting the blanket in her lap so she can watch him interact with his fans. She laughs softly when he mentions his demos, and by the time he rejoins her, her needles are clicking again. "Don't apologize. I like watching you interact with your fans. That's really important, showing them the human side of you. You probably made their month, or more." She shifts in her seat, an eyebrow quirked in his direction as he mentions baking. "I cook too, serve my customers and people who just drop by. What have you been baking? I use my mom's old cookbooks, she had some eclectic tastes. I just made a browned apple crumble the other day, it was pretty amazing." She looks thoughtful before she adds. "All of my hobbies are basically things that allow me to be a homebody. I'm bad at being social."

"Me too and I before you say anything, trust me. I am not a natural social butterfly." Calvin chuckles. "My brother was the people person. I was the reclusive artist. That's why he managed and I…created." He juts his thumb back towards the exit. "I always try to be gracious to my fans. It's really incredible. Whenever I remember that people actually like my music, it blows my mind. It's humbling, I suppose." He has a habit, a bad one, of talking with food in his mouth. Which he begins to do as he continues. "Mmm. I made frosted cookies for Halloween. I tried different shapes and frosting designs. They tasted great but looked awful. See, my brother had juvenile diabetes and we had very few sweets in the house. His sugars were always tricky to manage. After he died, I figured I'd take up something I couldn't do before. I did make a good peach pie last week. Basic but good."

"Socially awkward buddies, unite!" Katherine laughs, settling back in her seat to watch Calvin. "You make great music, I am honestly surprised that you don't get people here hounding you more. Did the word get out where you moved?" She glances outside as if she expects fans to start piling up at the window. "Frosted cookies? That sounds pretty amazing, and trust me. It doesn't matter what they look like if they taste good." She winces as he talks of his brother, her brow furrowing when he explains that he's passed. "I'm sorry about your brother. I never…you never really consider death a lot until it's very close to you. Then everything seems to lead back to it, or close to it." She clears her throat and allows a smile to reappear. "Peach pie? I haven't had peaches for a while, but that sounds amazing."

"I've been in 'back' in Calaveras on and off for about three years. I kept a low profile at first and you find that the paps kinda respect you when you are at home, as long as you don't live in L.A., at least." Calvin explains. "Then Dex died and I tailspinned into addiction. He was my identical twin, you know? After I bottomed and went to rehab, I came back here for good. Opened up the music store under my mother's maiden name, Starkweather, a few months ago. I think the whole addiction tailspin took some shine off my star. Which I am fine with, trust me. Nowadays, I just want to be a normal guy here. I get that most of the time." He smiles. "My dad likes peaches. He's doing chemo and getting him to eat is a struggle so…peach pie. I still have peaches if you want one. Fuck that, I'm making you one. I need the practice." He has inhaled that sandwich and leans back again. "Dex always knew he didn't have forever but that didn't take the hurt out of his death. Confronting it just made me want it. As twisted as that is."

Katherine winces as Calvin's story takes him down the path of addiction. She sets her blanket aside, tucking her needles in and leans on the table, listening earnestly to him as he speaks. "Most of the locals here will want you to just be comfortable, and happy to be home." She gazes down at her fingers, fidgeting with her own pastry. "Did you feel that rehab helped you, or was it just like a nice time out to keep things from getting worse?" She leans back again, letting out a slow breath as she nods. "Peaches, I love peaches and if you made me a pie I'd keep it all for myself, well…maybe I'd let Ethan have a piece, but mostly for me."

"You are so getting a pie." Calvin says with a wink. "Rehab and the twelve steps…I'm working it. I haven't used in nineteen months. I've come very, very close but I haven't. To answer the question though…both. It helped with my addiction on its own. And I've been in rehab a lot. All over the country but this one in New York just clicked. I don't know. And being up there is a different vibe, it was a proper rest as well. I didn't know how to function without drugs…or without Dex. I had to relearn how to exist." He shakes his head a bit and sips his coffee. "World. I spent a month in a rehab outside of London. Always forget that one. Left early."

"You know, most women might keep the pie as a …trophy of sorts, but I'm totally going to eat it." Katherine laughs and she uses her fingers to push her hair away from her face. "Edgar told me how it worked for him, he's a dear. It's good to know that it helped you two, and that you are feeling better and getting back into life and happiness. You deserve the rest and all of that." She makes a face, frowning as she nods. "I still don't know how to function without my parents and the rest of my siblings. Every time I turn toward the door, I expect them to walk through. It's been two years, and I keep waiting for it to really hit me, and ..settle." She shrugs, making a wry face. "So I bought a goat recently, just..trying to make things make sense. The goat hasn't made my world shift yet though." She gazes down at her lap, smirking. "You should sell some baked goods at the music store. Food and music, two of the best things in the world."

Calvin leans in as she mentions her family. He nods sadly. "Those habits are hard to break. I mean, I see him when I look in the mirror. Even though he was clean shaven and usually kept his hair short, I see his eyes, his smile. I check my phone a lot when I'm unfocused. I'm just waiting for him too. We'd be apart a lot but always in touch. Always." He pauses and chuckles. "I like goats. I'm the kid of ranchers, you know? But nothing will replace them. It's a hole. It's an amputated limb. It's a rip in your soul. That said…" He pauses as he seems to find the right words. "It'll always be there. As you keep living, moving, going on with your life, you'll begin to notice it a little less. One day, you'll go about your day and realize, with this mountain's worth of guilt that it didn't cross your mind at all. It's happened to me once and I swore it'll never happen again. But I know that's how it begins. I won't call it healing because that suggests that eventually it stops. I don't know what to call it."

"I'm glad that I'm not the only one having an issue when it comes to that. I'm afraid to admit it to my friends and my sister. I know she's going through something herself." Kate lets out a soft chuckle as he admits he was a rancher's kid. "I got a pygmy goat from the shelter a few days ago, she's adorable, but my boyfriend think she's food." She rolls her eyes and she sobers a moment, brows drawn in. "I used to wish that I could pretend that …things were normal, but now i just..I just wait for the pain to hit me for the day, and then go about the rest of it. Some days are better than others. It's why I'm a home body. People can't give you the pity look if they don't see you, right?"

"Someone once told me that grief comes in waves. It's going to hit you but it will wash away. I push that further. It's a whole damn tide." Calvin is leaning in closer still, speaking softly. "Some waves will hit harder, last longer and vice versa. On and off. For the end of fucking time." The corner of his mouth turns up a bit. "So, with time and luck, it'll improve but it's always going to be a little random." He sighs and his eyes dart away. "Only folks around here that knew me and the family gave me all those pity looks. They knew how close we were. But out there, in the land of the rich and famous…Dex was overshadowed and they didn't get it. I mean, people knew I gave him a kidney and that he was my manager. His wedding was in People magazine because he happened to be my brother. And it was a gay wedding before the Supreme Court decision. Besides that…no one out there really cared. I'm not sure what's harder though. For people to look at you with pity or confusion."

"Pity." Katherine says, her eyes dropping to the table. "People who drop by, give you helpful advice and poke themselves into your life." She glances briefly toward the door. "There are people that I'm okay with letting them into my insanity, but it's few and very far between." She looks at Calvin, a slight smile tugging at her lips. "You loved your brother, and I believe that unfortunately a lot of people don't really understand love, real love. They mistake it for a lot of things." She blinks a few times and chuckles. "I think I have that issue of People at home somewhere. I remember when I read about that, I was happy for him. I'm a big proponent of love being for everyone." She lets out a sigh. "I know that I confuse people, and sometimes I see that confusion, but the pity is always worse. There goes that poor Kate Stone, lost her family to a drunk driver. Had to mother her two younger sisters. Lost her chance at being happy." She snorts softly and reaches for her mocha. "Every time something bad happens, they bring up my parents. I know they would have done everything differently…but nobody gave me the manual."

"I lost a whole chunk of fans over him. The internet's a fucking cesspool. I didn't read anything about myself or him for years after that." He grouches. "It was worth it though. They'd been together for so long…" He smiles a moment, then sighs. "I see your point. The pity is well meaning but empty. The confusion is just sad ignorance." He reaches over and touches her arm. "You are doing the best you can with the tools you've been given and I don't know you well but from this distance, it looks like a solid job. Seeing that everyone is fed and has a roof over their head. And a goat." He grins a little. "You and I have both suffered great loss and are trying to be semi-functional human beings in spite of it. Don't be hard on yourself. You're upright. And that's better than a lot of people in our situation."

Katherine nods in agreement. "The internet is a cesspool. I've been doing Wake up, Calaveras for Heather down at KCC1? Ever since I started, there have been sites started to bash me. People claiming to have sex tapes, the whole nine yards. I just keep my chin up and remind myself that the money I'm making will help me expand, or settle down somewhere quiet someday." She briefly touches her fingertips to his when he touches her arm, a smile touching her lips. "I falter, just like everyone else, and some days when I wake up I want to hide in bed. We all do the best that we can, and hope for a brighter tomorrow, you know?" She laughs softly and lets out a sigh. "We don't know each other very well, but that could change. You're welcome to come to the B&B anytime. Food, coffee or a chat. I keep my doors open, despite all the crazy shit that's been going on in town." She rolls her eyes and huffs out a sigh. "I do hope they catch these murderers soon."

Calvin nods a little and smiles. "I'll take you up on that. I have a pie to deliver anyway." He looks up and his eyes catch the clock. "Shit, I should have been back at the store a while ago. I have a workshop to prep for. Those are the money makers, by the way. Once it got out that I host music workshops from time to time, people travel. I'm going to recommend your B&B from now on." He winks and stands up. "You keep hanging in there, Kate, alright?"

"I will, and thanks for the recommendation and the talk. I really enjoyed it." Katherine stands when Calvin does, offering her hand to shake. "Have a good night, and I hope the workshop goes well."

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