(2018-11-11) Sunday Peach Pie
Calvin shows up with the pie he promised Katherine. It is quite delicious!
Players:
calvin..katherine..xavier..

Katherine gets one day off a week, well that doesn't include cooking, but something you enjoy really isn't a chore. She's dressed comfortably, leaning against the kitchen counter as she measures out the necessities for a simple chicken and rice cassarole. However, from the smells drifting through the kitchen, this might be a second pan. There are light flurries drifting down from the semi-dark sky, and blaring from a bluetooth speaker is the song Killer Queen, by Queen. She might not be dancing while she cooks, but she is singing along, she probably shouldn't quit her day job.

*

"I used to pray at night that I would wake with a voice like Freddie's." That's Calvin sneaking into the kitchen. He's still bundled up because his hands are full. "I made you two peach pies. One to share and one for yourself. And the tupperware is full of cookie rejects. Delicious but ugly." He places them down on an empty counter space and begins to peel the layers. When the chorus hits, Calvin sings along. "She's a Killer Queen/Gunpowder, gelatin/Dynamite with a laser beam…" Yeah, there is a reason he makes the big bucks. Just a few lines and he makes it look like breathing. Natural, easy. "Ugh, I shouldn't sing. I'm supposed to be resting." Beat. "Vocal rest. It's…nevermind. How've you been?"

*

Katherine is startled out of her song, turning to smile as she spots Calvin sneaking into the kitchen. "Oh, you blessed man, two pies? Cookie rejects? They'll go perfect with dinner." She is peeking at the things he brought when he starts to sing, and she eases back, watching him with her head slightly tilted. When he stops singing she automatically claps, for she can't help herself. "Brava." She murmurs, reaching to tap the bluetooth speaker off. "I've..I think I'm doing well, everything percolates around here and every so often I feel like I forgot to do something or …I missed an appointment. Have you ever felt that way?" She gestures to one of the kitchen table chairs. "Come on over, have a seat, would you like something to eat or drink? I just got done cooking dinner for the house, and I'd love for you to have some."

*

"Uh…dinner? Sure. I was just going to stay for a sliver of pie but I could use a home-cooked meal minus motherly judgement." Full beards and ruddy complexions hide blushing pretty well but the way he looks away, letting his long hair fall into his face as he fusses over his baked goods betray some embarrassment. "At the risk of sounding like a prima donna, do you have herbal tea? Warm, no caffeine, blah, blah." His cookies were probably supposed to be colorful autumn leaves. They are really just red-orange sugary lumps. "When things start to move, yeah, I get completely absent-minded. I am beginning to need an assistant again. My last two quit. I don't blame them but it gives you a reputation."

*

Katherine chuffs out a soft laugh, turning to pull bowls from her cupboard. "I couldn't do motherly judgment if I tried. I've been trying to do it for my youngest sister who is in her own mess right now, and she just ignores me." She scoops casserole into the bowls, humming to the song she just turned off. "I do have herbal tea, no caffeine and I even have fresh honey from a friend who has her own hive." She noses around the kitchen as she gathers things, starts the process to brew tea. "I have an assistant, her name is Charlotte, and it's probably because of her that I find myself thinking I forgot something. She has been jumping in feet first, taking care of things that I wasn't even aware needed done." She shoots a look over her shoulder as she puts the kettle on. "Want me to put out some feelers for you?" She carries the bowl of casserole to the table, dips a spoon in and sets it in front of Calvin.

*

"Feelers? Yeah? Sure. Natural honey and herbal tea sounds perfect, Kate. Thank you." Calvin seems a little stunned that food appeared before him. He pokes around in the bowl as he talks. "They just have to /get/ artists. We have our ways. I'm a moody perfectionist with a time bomb temper, for example." He pauses to blow on a spoonful of casserole. "When I'm working, I mean. I forgot that I could be chill and down to earth. Forgot until I moved home." He sighs and tucks back that loose hair. "But the Calvin Shay machine might be…might be back in motion soon." He says it like it's an execution date.

*

"I'll ask around, see if anyone wants a job with a moody magic musician." Katherine teases gently, picking up her own bowl of chicken and rice casserole. She puts it on the table and walks back to the kettle when it starts to whistle, pulling it from the stove and gingerly pouring the steaming water into a large mug. She adds a tea leaf ball, and carries it and a jar of honey to the table. "I get the moody perfectionist thing, I was not very nice to Charlotte for a few days until she got used to my quirks. I mean… I wasn't rude or anything, I just probably came across like a snobby ice queen. I do my chores around here a certain way, I have ..a reputation to keep." She curls herself into a chair, picking up her spoon. "Are you happy about the machine chugging out of the station again? You'll forgive me if I say this, because it's not really my business, but you don't look like it is."

*

The kitchen is full of warm food smells, from the chicken and rice casserole that sits in front of Calvin to an opened tupperware container of…orange sugar cookies? Yeah, that's probably what they are. Calvin takes the time spent chewing to ponder Kate's question. "I love to create music. I love to sing and perform and entertain. I miss it more than I thought I could. But the business of being 'Calvin Shay'?" He looks down into his food. "That's stickier. Fame and fortune has a lot of drawbacks. It's a machine. You are both product and cog. And I just wanna make music." He tests the tea. Still too hot as he puts it back down. "Dex was my manager until the day he died. He was fighting with my label that morning about an appearance. I couldn't do it because he was dying." He chuckles a little. "If I mount a comeback…I don't know what that looks like without him."

*

Katherine takes another spoon of casserole, nodding at Calvin. "I figured the morning show here would be, I show up, I talk, I might sometimes have to look pretty." She glances down at her sweatpants and sighs. "You're right though, it's a lot of little things that people don't realize, you're not your own person anymore. You belong to the public, in a way." She takes a bite and after she chews and swallows she sets her spoon aside. "What do you think your brother would want you to do, Cal? I don't think the answer to that is…give up your career forever. He'd likely want you to succeed and be happy." Her brow furrows as she shifts on her seat. "If you think you can do that safely, perhaps it's worth a try, but no matter what happens you always have home. We'll continue to treat you just like folk."

*

The front door can be heard opening, then closing. Xavier can smell the food all the way from the foyer, and once he's hung up his heavy wool coat, he makes his way immediately in that direction. "Not to late for dinner, I hope?" he says, lightly, as he wanders in. There's the slightest pause as he sees Calvin sitting at the table. "Ah, I don't believe we've met?" His smile is friendly, but it also has that slightly confused tilt to it. That look like something about the man is ringing bells in the back of his head, but he hasn't - yet - placed the feeling of recognition.

*

"What would Dex want? He'd take one good look at the what I've been writing and tell me to get my ass back in the studio." Calvin laughs. "When I gave Dex a kidney, I had rare reaction to the anesthetic and I was on my ass for a while. Dex couldn't look at me because he felt so guilty. He said me without music was like watching a plant dry up without water and sunlight." Then Xavier enters and Calvin turns to offer a hand. "No, sir, we haven't. I'm Calvin." He seems to take notice of that little look of confusion. "Shay. Calvin Shay. I'm a musician. That's were you know me from." Beat. "My Essentials playlist is featured on Apple music today. Cheap plug." He grins.

*

Katherine raises her eyebrows at Calvin, chuckling softly. "Well then, do it for him, dedicate something beautiful to his memory. Make the people who weren't good to him regret not knowing someone who, from how you describe him, had a beautiful soul." She gets to her feet when Xavier enters, already fixing him a bowl of casserole and coffee. "Take a seat, Xavier, I'll get you set up. Dessert is from Cal here, he made us peach pie." She turns to grin at Xavier, her eye dancing. "We also got a new tenant last night, so if you see a really stylish man coming in from the back yard, that would be Vyv. He seems nice."

*

Xavier does a double take, just staring for a moment. A thirty something man in a three-piece suit, and he's suddenly looking starstruck. "What really? What the hell are you doing /here/?" It just sort of falls out of his mouth; he does have the grace to wince after. He takes Calvin's hand and give it a brief, vigorous shake. "Sorry, none of my business, forget I asked. But I loved your music, back in the day. Good to see you, uh, here." From his hesitation something like 'alive' was probably hastily edited out. Katherine gets a quick nod, and he goes ahead and takes a seat, still staring at Calvin. "I'm Xavier. Xavier Westin." Another pause. "Which Katherine just said. At least in part." Then he just sighs, and reaches out to grab a cookie so that he can't babble anything else.

*

Calvin chuckles softly. "Nice to meet you, Xavier. I'm from Calaveras, born and raised. Everyone associates me with Austin, Texas because of my southerny sound and that's where I was discovered but naw, I'm the son of the Starkweather ranchers. And Kate here is a new friend to whom I promised pie and thus delivered. I needed a new hobby after The Meltdown. Baking is it." He looks to Kate. "It's funny. I've written enough songs about Dex and growing up with him and being a twin that I could crank out /at least/ an EP without feeling like I'm being creepy. But identical twins are fucking creepy so…anyway, if—IF I make a comeback album, Dex'll have a song. And…I know which one now. Thank you." He regards Xavier again. "So, what brought you to our town?"

*

Katherine smiles at Calvin, settling back in her chair and resuming her nosh. "I look forward to hearing it, and like I said, I'm going to poke around to see if anyone is looking for a job. Being your assistant is sure to be interesting, if nothing else." She turns her gaze to Xavier, trying not to smile as she waits for him to answer. "Oh Calvin, when he tells you what he does, give him your first instinctive answer, people have been kind of amusing with their opinions." She clears her throat, eyes going to her bowl of food.

*

Xavier chews on the cookie for a bit, until he feels he's got most of the stupid out of his system, then swallows, wipes his mouth on a napkin and says, "First, those are good cookies." He moves onto the coffee, taking a sip to cut the sweetness. "Second," he shoots a grin towards Katherine, "if there's anyone who's dealt with more evil people than I on a regular basis, it's a professional musician." His voice shades dry. "I'm with the Westin Institute, a land development firm. We're here to explore profitable options for the further development of the city, what with TechEase planning to expand here, and all of that."

*

Calvin smirked at Katherine's challenge and just kept eating. He nods at the remark about evil and music. "—Shark tank. Whole industry." He says, mouth still full of food. It's Xavier's job description that draws another snort, this one more derisive. "So, you've come to ruin my town for some tech company? Weasel the ranchers out of their family land? Pave paradise and put up a parking lot?" He only swallowed halfway through that spiel. "Starkweather ain't selling. So you can mark that one off your list." While confrontational, Calvin isn't hostile at all. It's more questioning.

*

Katherine erupts into a burble of laughter, bending slightly at the waist. "Oh Cal, I think almost everyone has had that reaction to poor Xavier. I almost feel bad for him every time I introduce him to someone, I just wait…and it's horrible of me to laugh at it but.." She turns her gaze to Xavier. "Sorry, I shouldn't laugh. You seem to have decent intentions.." She turns to give Calvin a look before she turns back to Xavier. "People just need to get to know you and learn the vision you have. It's …it's the small town mentality. Don't change us!!" She clears her throat to smother any additional giggles, spooning more casserole. "You should just give up, Xavier, settle here and build up some other well meaning town."

*

Xavier doesn't answer the challenge immediately. He relaxes back into his chair, and takes a few bites of the chicken and rice casserole. "This is very good, Katherine," he murmurs, before turning his attention back to Calvin. "In order? It depends on your definition of 'ruin', your definition of 'weasel', and your definition of 'paradise'." He seems unruffled by the confrontation, as if he's gotten that reaction a lot. His lips twitch upwards at Katherine's peals of laughter, and he shakes his head slightly at her. "/You/ are too kind, you know. Besides, I seem to recall you having the same objections, just more nicely stated, when it first came up. There are a number of ranches which are struggling; while I focus mostly on urban development, I won't turn down a good opportunity - and you know, quite a lot of people are actually pretty relieved to have the burden of a bunch of unprofitable land taken off their shoulders in return for cash in the hand. It's not always a zero sum exchange."

*

Katherine is shoveling casserole in her mouth as Xavier answers Calvin, blinking at each man as she continues to deal with her urge to laugh. She sits up when Xavier turns in her direction and a soft giggle escapes. "I still do have the same objections, but getting to know you has alleviated some of the concerns. Plus, you're having a charity ball that will prove to help a lot of my friend and neighbors. I'm pretty grateful for that and.." Inspiration strikes and she glances toward Calvin for a moment before she gazes back at Xavier. "Gosh, wouldn't it be nice to have a celebrity there, a name might draw more people in." She says slowly, resting her chin on her knuckles.

*

Xavier gives Katherine a bit of a pained look at her response. "It's tax-deductable, and good press," he points out, in between bites of casserole. Still, her suggestion gives him pause. "It's true, I didn't realize that we had such a person in our midst. And it /would/ raise interest, which would also likely raise donations. And favorable press coverage." His gaze slips sideways towards Calvin. "And, if I'm not mistaken, it seems I overheard you talking about considering to step forward into the spotlight once again? It's not exactly the best premiere event, I'll grant, but possibly the best you'll find in /this/ city, in the near future."

*

"Oh for goodness sake, Xavier. I am trying to lay a compliment on you and you're giving me guff about it." Katherine mutters, narrowing her eyes in his direction. She takes another bite of her casserole and lets her gaze shift to Calvin for a moment before she smiles over at Xavier. "It's been almost twenty four hours since you mentioned me and business and I'm going batty because I just want to know what you have in mind." She pokes her bottom lip out to pout, giving him puppy dog eyes. "It's torture. You're an evil man after all."

*

Calvin watches this exchange in silence and not because he's busy eating. He's in thought. Finally, he speaks. Without flying food spittle. "I heard about the event. I had intended to write a check after some googling but I must have gotten distracted." He leans in a bit. "I'm not the star I was but I've been around long enough for some clout. So, it would be kind of a big deal if I came out against The Westin Institute, yeah? It'd make the local news…social media, for sure. I do tweet now and again." He grins. "Look, do right by my town, okay? That's all I ask. You have points. Ranchin' ain't what it was. I'm sitting on fifty thousand acres but my immediate family hasn't worked the land in years. The cattle are tended to by…hires. Selling some of it wouldn't be the end of the world. I totally see that side of it. But…do right by my town and there won't be a problem. I'll perform at the benefit. I can cover something…tropical." He shrugs and smiles. "The Pina Colada song."

*

Xavier spreads his hands and gives her a mock-helpless look in return. "What can I say? People say nice things about me, and it makes me wonder where they're aiming the knife." His flash of a smile makes a joke of it, at least in part. He takes another bite of the casserole, savoring it while she turns those puppy dog eyes on him. "Ah, well. I told you - it's business. It's simply a place where my business interests and your own goals might actually intersect." He pauses again, this time more thoughtful than teasing. "You should know that after you mentioned the Winchester, I looked into it on my own, and you're right. It's a building and a business with a lot of potential, although it would require a fair amount of work, and capital - even beyond the asking price." He studies her, looking not at all guilty about having assessed the hotel for takeover. "But if you want it, it's workable. I could put together a group of angels for you - including the Institute - to acquire it. It'd stay in local hands, which would be good press, and the investors would have a stake - usually about ten percent per - until you bought us out down the road, once the profits allowed."

He shoots a look at Calvin, for a moment his face utterly blank and assessing. Then he smiles, all warm and friendly once again. "Hey, I'm a fan of yours. I'd hate to end up on opposite sides. I don't think that'd be fun for anyone except the tabloids. And I'd love to support any comeback you're planning on, and not have to hinder it. I think that'd be best, really, don't you?"

*

Katherine just stares at Xavier, blinking a few times. Then a few more, setting down her spoon with a clatter. "I uh.." She glances toward Calvin and then back at Xavier and she looks a little lost at the moment, her mouth working to form words but none come out. She holds up a hand, raising her first finger in a 'need a minute' gesture before she puts her head down on the table. Squeaks and a loudly whispered holy shit, might be heard, maybe.

*

Calvin nods. "We are on the same page, my man and I am glad for it." Calvin pauses and his smartphone begins to play Zeppelin's Stairway To Heaven. "That's the store. I'm a business owner too, Xavier. I own a music store that pushed the chain out of town." He takes all the smug with him to answer the call. "Yeah…what do you mean you're locked in?" His turn to put up a minute finger. "No, no, no, I need to know why you were inside of my office in the first place?" He steps out.

*

Xavier watches Katherine with raised eyebrows, his lips twitching with amusement. He nods graciously at her 'need a moment' gesture, and turns his attention politely back to Calvin. "Ah? I'll have to stop by." He reaches into his pocket, taking out a small silver case and his business card, which he offers to Calvin. "Give me a call? We'll discuss the benefit - and anything else you might like. It was a pleasure to meet you," he adds, as the man takes his call.

*

Katherine pops back up, blinking at Xavier. "You're not yanking on my chain are you? You're for real? You..you think it has possibility?" She gets to her feet and she does a brief but very happy dance, bouncing on the balls of her feet. "I'm going to have a glass of wine!" She scurries over to the fridge. "I've been struggling to write a business thing that you mentioned, and I was going to show it to you and ask for advice. I still might. I ..business plans are important." Her words spill out one after the other and they're a little smushed together as the woman is clearly excited. She comes back to the table with her wine and sits down on her chair. "Wow."

*

"It's a /security feature/, dumbass. For people who are exactly like you! That's been appraised, dude. You better start coming up with some excuses the police will want to hear." Calvin is easily overheard from his spot just outside the kitchen. "Oh, yeah, tear up my shit trying to get out. Colorado has a great prison system." Calvin returns and beelines to the cookie container. He takes three and shoves them in his coat pocket. As he bundles back up, he says, "The first guitar I used on my first tour is displayed in my office, yeah? I lock my office if I'm not there and even if someone goes in there and breathes on that guitar, the office locks down. It's a panic room." Beat. "I had a stalker when I first came home. I was paranoid as fuck. Point is, my latest hire is a thief. Kate, enjoy the pie." He offers Xavier his business card. "My people will reach out about the benefit."

*

"Katherine…I should mention that people don't usually dance when presented with business proposals," Xavier says, solemnly. But then he picks up his coffee, and adds with an appreciative look, "But in your case, by all means continue." He takes a sip, possibly to try (and fail) to cover his grimace at 'business thing'. "Business plans /are/ important, and yes, you will have to have one. And a lawyer." He looks over to Calvin and takes the business card. He stares at it just a moment. Somewhere, deep inside, fighting to get out, there is a manly squee. Then he clears his throat, and slips it away into an inner breast pocket. "There's always one. Good luck dealing with it." A flicker of concern at the mention of the stalker, but he doesn't immediately pursue. "I look forward to hearing from you."

*

Katherine takes a drink of her wine and shoots a look of concern at Calvin, her brows furrowed briefly as she catches some of the phone conversation. "I hope the police are well able to handle the problem, Calvin. Thank you for stopping by, I'll call you soon and let you know how much I loved the pie." She ignores Xavier for a moment and then she makes a rather undignified squeaking noise again. "Do you think you could help me with a business plan?" She asks, holding on to her glass with both hands. She's fighting the urge to bounce on her chair. "I'll make you a special cake if you do."

*

Xavier watches Calvin go, brow furrowed. He takes another meditative sip of his coffee, then turns back around to study Katherine. His brow clears, replaced by amusement. "I can help you with a business plan. /If/ you want me to." He starts tapping lightly on the table with his finger. "You understand that this is risky? The contract with the angels will leave you as majority stakeholder, if you want to own the Winchester, but that also means you'll take the bulk of the risk. If the hotel fails, the assets will be liquidated, and we'll get as much of our money back from that as we can /before/ you see a dime. I think it has a decent chance of success, or I wouldn't be offering to put the deal together, but you'll be swimming in deep waters." He smiles, as thin and sharp as a knife blade. "And the waters have sharks."

*

Katherine gazes down at the tabletop, a blank look on her face. "When you're a nice person, people often think that means that you're not able to handle the wear and tear that can come with life. When I wanted to open this place as a B&B, I had a lot of people tell me that it would never work. There was too much competition, I didn't have what it would take to accomplish this." She gazes at Xavier and a smile works its way across her face. "I may not know how to write a business plan, but I know how to work very hard. Especially if it's something that I want." She takes a drink of her wine, licking her lips afterward. "I'm used to the deep waters, and the sharks better be careful, because I'm a barracuda."

*

Xavier nods. "That's what I want to hear," he says, simply. "You should know that the other interested investor is Angela Bell; she also approves of you taking ownership of the hotel, so there won't be any struggle for control there. I can reach out to my angel network, but they'll be out-of-towners. If there are people in Calaveras who have between fifty to a hundred thousand to contribute that you would /like/ to approach as investors, you're welcome to do so. The Institute will do financial checks on any interested parties to ensure they actually have the capital before anything goes too far."

*

Katherine nods, getting to her feet so she can gather the dishes. "I might talk to Heather, I need to consider it though. Sometimes she's great, other times you want to pound her into mush with a baseball bat." She sets the dishes in the sink, taking a deep breath. "Have you ever felt like you were standing at the edge of a cliff? You can either hurl yourself off or sit on the edge and gaze around for a while. It's how I'm feeling right now, and it's kind of a rush." She closes her eyes and exhales out a quiet breath. "Oh boy."

*

"You don't have to like an investor, just their money," Xavier says, the dry tone suggesting he speaks from experience. He grins at her description. "Often. I always jump - it's /far/ more entertaining." He finishes off the plate of casserole, and takes it over to the sink to wash off. "There's no rush with this, by the way. Take a few days to decide if you're committed, and then a few weeks to consider potential investors. The process will take months either way, and then there will be renovations to be done, marketing meetings about relaunching the hotel, and so forth." He wipes his hands off on a dish towel, and wanders back to the table. "It will be a lot of work."

*

Katherine lets out a hollow laugh, sneaking a look over at Xavier. "You haven't met Heather yet, she's a nag at the best of times." She starts to rinse and put away the dishes, glancing down at herself and grimacing. "I look like a bum. One of the most exciting nights of the last few months and I look like a bum!" She turns to listen to Xavier and she nods, leaning against the counter. "This means you'll be seeing more of me if I go through with this, you'd think that you would be absolutely sick of me by now."

*

"You don't look like a bum, Katherine." Xavier gives her a once-over, and grins. "You look…comfortable. I think that's a good word." It's light and teasing. "And shouldn't I be turning that around? You are delightful company, and difficult to get sick of. I'm am frequently exhausting to deal with, and the press won't always be good. You may find that being formally in business with the Westin Institute will put you square in the cross hairs of those who would rather we weren't meddling."

*

Katherine purses her lips, her shoulder rolling as she shrugs. "I mean, you're welcome to turn it around, but I'll be honest. I'm quite happy when you're about, most people don't challenge me to be better than I am, they already think I'm too much." She folds her arms over her chest and chuckles ruefully. "Since I took the television job I've been in tossed from the pot into the fire. I've had quite a lot of men claim that they've ..well.." She clears her throat, cheeks pink. "Lots of negative things, along with the positive. So adding one more thing if it means that I might be able to get my dream off the ground? I think I can handle it. This is so much to process."

*

"Too much?" Xavier tilts his head to one side, looking a touch confused. It turns into a brief, sharp laugh at her mention of the drawbacks of exposure. "Ah, yes. That will happen. If there's opposition to the hotel buyout, there may be more of it, as well - mostly along the lines of you sleeping with me to get a favorable deal, or that I'm sleeping with you to get cover for ransacking the town. I apologize in advance." He grabs his coffee cup, and goes to refill it. "You'll do fine, I think. As long as you keep your head straight. And I will support you as much as I am able, in the role of project manager. But you should have an advocate without competing interests. Get a lawyer. A /good/ lawyer. Don't sign anything without their say so, even if I like it." He smiles. "Especially if I like it."

*

Katherine looks away from Xavier as she speaks. "I run a B&B, I work on television, twice a week I visit old folks in the care home down the way, and volunteer to cook for them during the holidays. Until last month I would deliver welcome baskets to new businesses who moved into town and I cater, though mostly to the first responders in town who are far too busy to cook for themselves." She is ticking things off on her hand, her brow furrowed. "Oh and for a day or two I was kinda sorta balancing Ethan's books for the Boardroom." She turns to gaze at Xavier then, frowning. "People think that I'm some weird goody goody who piles stuff on so she has accomplishments to brag about." She gazes down at the floor. "The reality is that quiet time and alone time scare the shit out of me, because I start thinking of things I don't want to face." She blinks up at him and her cheeks flush. "You don't think people will say things like that, do you? I ..mean, there isn't anything wrong with you or anything, but it might impact my private life in ways …I wouldn't be completely okay with?" She drifts back to the table, sinking into her seat. "That might have seemed harsh, sorry. Um.. lawyer, yes. I will find a good lawyer. One who will make sure to kick you in the balls on a regular basis. Not literally, of course." She shuts herself up by taking a large drink of her wine.

*

Xavier listens, solemnly. "You /are/ rather distressingly altruistic. I'm actually somewhat relieved to hear it's at least partially from selfish motives. But you're not weird - at least, not in an unpleasant way - and there are far worse things you could be doing to distract yourself." He leans a hip on the counter near the coffee machine, and shrugs as he nurses his fresh cup of joe. "It's possible, Katherine. I've had a lot of mud slung at me over the years, and women who rise to positions of prominence often experience more. Before we sign any final contracts, I will, of course, leave the B&B." He snorts. "Although, to be honest, you're more likely to have Good Samaritans trying to save you from my dastardly hidden plans to ruin you and steal your assets. Either way, it's something to consider."

*

Katherine aims a scowl at Xavier. "I am weird. We could get into how, but then we'll be crossing a line that will probably make you look at me funny. I would rather not have that." She gazes at the wall, lost in thought. "This is a small town, Xavier. Despite where you are living, or staying, people are going to assume things. I wouldn't ask you to leave, and I would expect people who actually care about me to know the truth, and support me despite all of the…rumors." She picks up her glass and takes a drink. "I like you, and I like having you here. So as long as you would like to stay, I would hope that you do.. stay."

*

Xavier laughs, with a helpless shake of his head. "And you were calling /me/ cagey about compliments. But," he raises his hand in mock surrender, "I never argue with a lady about her peculiarities, so fine. You're weird. Happy?" To the rest, he shrugs. "I'm not in any hurry, and I appreciate the vote of confidence. And there may be no rumors at all. As you say, this is a small town, and I've no idea how they work, in general. Detroit and Chicago are," he looks out the windows to the pen with the goat, "a bit different."

*

"Well a compliment is one thing when it's true, it's something all together different when it's not. You're not some finger-steepling villain twirling his mustache as he waits to snatch a purse from an old lady. Are you?" Katherine gets to her feet and dumps out the rest of her wine, setting the glass in the sink. "Our talks have become something I quite enjoy, and so I hope that you will continue to stay here. If the rumors get out of hand, we can deal with it then. If they never come, all the better." She points at the pie Calvin brought. "Want to try famous peach pie, see if it lives up to the hype?"

*

Xavier looks indignant. "Of course I'm not." There's a pause. "The risk against return ratio for muggings is far too skewed for even my tastes. I had /that/ figured out by the time I was twelve. If you think about incarceration as sort of negative income, and say - eighty thousand - as your preferred baseline for yearly income, then it's not worth it to break the law in any way that is worth /less/ than that, assuming the incarceration period is at least one year. And then you add in lawyer fees and all the rest," he waves his mug around dangerously, "it's usually not worth it for anything under a quarter million, at the least." Then he beams at her. "Peach pie sounds delicious. Did , uh, did Calvin Shay make this? Himself?"

*

Katherine just levels an amused look on Xavier as he starts to break down crime, slowly folding her arms over her chest and letting him really get into it. She nods along, makes the appropriate noises when he says something compelling and just smiles until he asks his question. "Yes THE Calvin Shay made me this pie. I saw him at the coffee shop one day and we got to talking about loss, and sprung up a friendship, that's why he came over today. He promised me a pie." She doesn't move to cut the pie, still watching Xavier with lofted brows. "Are you done ..with your crime talk, or is there more to it. I can wait if there is."

*

"All I'm saying is that the phrase 'crime doesn't pay' is often true. But when it's wrong, crime tends to pay rather spectacularly well," Xavier deadpans. Then he says, "Now, I'm done. And I would love a piece of Calvin Shay's pie." His eyes are wide, blue and as guileless as he can manage as he stares entreatingly at her.

*

"Crime pays spectacularly well.." Katherine repeats, shaking her head as she pulls a knife from a drawer. "You're weirder than I am." She mutters, slicing a piece of pie and sliding it on a small plate. "Ice cream?" She asks, cutting a second piece for herself. "I was wondering if you were going to ask him about an autograph, in fact I was waiting with baited breath for you to mention it. Didn't you want one?" She opens the freezer, pulling out ice cream and opening the top.

*

Xavier reaches out to comfortingly pat her shoulder. "It's alright. I'm a bit older than you; keep trying, and one day you will catch up, I promise." All very solemn, although his eyes are twinkling with laughter as he withdraws. "And I /desperately/ wanted one," he confesses as he pulls back. "But I do have some /class/, Katherine. I'm not going to ambush the man when he's eating dinner." He pats his jacket. "And he gave me his business card. With his actual hands." Yep, somewhere inside that calm exterior, tiny manly squees are still happening.

*

"They used to say that older folk were wiser, but I suppose they meant weirder, and just didn't tell me." Katherine shakes her head, heaping a scoop of ice cream on her pie. She brings the second plate to the table, setting a fork down next to it. "Eat it sitting down, so you won't faint." She murmurs, snorting out a soft laugh. "You know, he'd give you his autograph if you just asked politely. Dinner or not, he's pretty good about it if people are hovering over him attempting to grope, hug or …whatever." She brings her ice-cream laden plate to the table and sits in a chair. "He comes over every so often with Vic the Dick, so …try not to squee."

*

Xavier trails her to the kitchen like a large and exceptionally well-dressed duckling. He settles into his customary seat, and reaches for the plate. "I am a grown man. I do not," his nose wrinkles, "squee. But he was big." He chuffs out a laugh. "I remember listening to his stuff while I studied, and they'd even occasionally played it in the yards when I worked construction. The older guys didn't want any of 'that rap shit', but Shay was okay in their books." He doesn't say anything about the autograph, although his eyes gleam a little as he takes a forkful of pie, and savors it. It takes him a moment. Afterwards, he coughs, slightly, and says, "What about you? Surely you have favorite musicians?"

*

"You are a weird grown man, and a squee or two would probably do you some good." Katherine takes a bite of pie and closes her eyes, savoring it for a moment. "The man can make pie." She murmurs, forking off another piece. "You worked construction? Oh yes, the muscles, it came from the construction right?" She takes another bite, cleaning off her fork as she pulls it from her mouth. She grins as she sees the gleam and offers a quiet, "If you want, I can get his autograph for you." She giggles then, short and sweet before she nods. "I have a lot of favorite musicians. My taste covers such a large spectrum that even if I gave you ten names, there are ten others I like just as much."

*

"I am as likely to squee as I am to wear that apron of yours," Xavier says, firmly, "and the chances of either are very, very close to zero." To her question, he bobs his head, and takes another bite before he answers. "These days, they mostly come from working out, but - yeah. I worked the yards starting when I was thirteen, under the table, then full-time from sixteen to…" he trails off, thinking briefly, "twenty. I still do walk-throughs and even some spot work on my projects, to keep my hand in, but these days, the guys are mostly just indulging the boss." He takes another bite, then waves the empty fork. "Name one. I'm curious."

*

"Very close to zero isn't zero. I bet for the right incentive you would do both." Katherine gets a smug grin on her face, spearing a piece of peach with her fork and putting it into her mouth. "You were hungry when you were young, that's a ..thing that doesn't really happen anymore. More power to you, and of course people indulge their boss .. at least to your face." She rests her cheek against her palm, gazing out into the air as she thinks. "One isn't enough, one doesn't tell a story. When Calvin got here I was listening to Queen, singing along. He started singing too, and it was far better than my attempt. When I was cleaning the garage for it's new occupant, I was listening to Knife Party, because it always gets me to move. Last night, while I was down at the bar, I put Damn Yankees on the karaoke machine, and sang High Enough, because that song and that band make me yearn for something I can't even put into words." She clears her throat, glancing back at Xavier. "I could go on about music for ages, I truly believe there is a song for every situation. When I feel…anything, I think of a song that goes with that mood." Her cheeks flush and she scoops another bite on her fork. "Weird huh?"

*

"Have you ever /seen/ Detroit, Katherine? Away from the waterfront?" Xavier shakes his head. "There were a /lot/ of hungry people when I was growing up, in more ways than one. Some tried basketball, or football, or music. More tried crime. I'd have done anything - anything - to get out, but I wanted to make sure that when I /did/, I stayed out. No matter what. The gangs couldn't offer that; their whole thing is keeping you close and never letting go. Sports and music relied too much on sheer luck, and you carried too much baggage with you even if you succeeded. I wanted something I could control." To the rest, he listens, a smile playing on his lips. At her last, he chuckles. "I'm not sure I know how to answer that. It seems rude to say yes, but if I say no, I fear you will /insist/ on the weirdness, and I'll feel rude again. So I will say only that it sounds charming."

*

"I haven't seen Detroit, or any other place. I've lived here all my life, comfortable and coddled. I would love to say I've seen and dealt with adversity, but the worst part of my life before my family was taken from me? It was getting hand me downs and being bullied in school." Katherine spreads her hands, her brow furrowed. "Since my parents have been gone, that has changed, of course, but I still didn't want for much. I worked hard here for my sisters, so they wouldn't either." She leans on the table, an eyebrow quirked. "Why aren't you heading some outreach type of foundation using some pseudonym or something, you obviously feel very strongly about it, and I can't blame you, but I can't sympathize. It would be a fallacy." She glances away when the smile plays at his lips, trying not to grin herself. "Music has probably kept me from being more of a mess than I already am. I love it. So yes, I'll accept charming."

*

Xavier lifts an eyebrow. "An outreach? Why would I? You can't get people to make a change in their life, to make themselves better, just by handing something to them. They have to fight for it. They have to /want/ it like a burning in their veins and be willing to do what needs to be done. Coddling those who don't know what they want never ends well; they fail anyway, then blame you for it. Take care of yourself, and that which you claim as your own, let other people live their lives however they damned well please." He pokes the fork at her. "That's the key to a happy life." A wide, well-practiced smile. "Like mine."

*

"Some people don't realize how change can be achieved. Some people are raised thinking that some of the things that we take for granted? Are never available to them." Katherine folds her hands, placing them on the table. "Before you came to town I had no idea that the Winchester could ever be in my reach. I've heard of investments, I've heard of all the things you mentioned, but I didn't think they were available in a small town setting. The bank laughed at me when I brought it up to them." She tilts her head to the side, smiling slightly. "You're helping me, more than I probably deserve." She gives him a long searching look. "How happy are you, really?"

*

Xavier rolls his shoulders in a shrug. He cuts the remainder of his pie slice into several nice, neat pieces, and methodically stabs them with the fork before taking them neatly to his mouth. In between bites, he says, "That's their problem, Katherine. There's luck involved in success, I don't deny it. But if someone isn't doing /everything/ they can to help themselves? Then whatever help I might provide will just be wasted. You have grit; life handed you a disaster, and you didn't give up. You made it work, even though it cost you. It makes you a good bet, and I don't mind taking a risk. But I'm not going to throw away my money, time, or attention on people who aren't doing the work." He falls silent for her last question. He finishes off the slice of pie, and sits back, contemplating the empty plate. "That's a very good piece of pie. Mr. Shay is to be commended." Then he rises. "And I should probably be heading up to my room; I'm expecting a business call."

*

Katherine lets out a soft laugh, getting to her feet when Xavier does. "That's a shame, all that talk of struggle, all the work and you're not happy." She carries her plate to the sink, setting it inside. "Despite everything I've gone through, all the shit that has cropped up in my life. I have always found a way to make myself happy." She glances back at Xavier. "When you were young, and when you were struggling you probably though money would buy it, but it hasn't..has it?" She doesn't expect an answer to her question, just like he avoided it before. "Have a good night, Xavier. Breakfast will be after nine tomorrow morning."

*

Xavier snorts. He looks around the kitchen, speculatively. "Waiting for the Hallmark Channel movie music to kick in…waiting…ah, no. Because this is the real world, and there will be no holiday miracles that thaw my cold heart," he says, a touch warningly. "I'm fine. /Quite/ fine, thank you, Katherine. And I hope you have a good night, as well." He leaves at something of a stalk, his mouth downturned into an irritated frown.

*

Katherine licks her finger and gives herself a phantom point. Ah, it's nice to win an argument for once.

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