(2018-12-01) Marines Catchup
Julian and Franklin catch up during their monthly cribbage game.

Walker Cabin San Juan Mtns.
Sat Dec 01, 2018 — Sat Dec 01 23:15:19 2018

The outside of the cabin appeared rustic and in need of repair, the inside is quite the contrast. The strong smell of pine briefly overwhelms the senses before it dulls away, though there is always some form of incense being burned ranging from lilac to lavender. The interior floors are burnished wood and the walls have been finished with dry wall and the whole of the cabin is fully insulated and brought to the local municipal code of standards and regulations.

The cabin itself is made up of three main rooms: a great room that incorporates into it the kitchen, a bedroom, and a bathroom. A sliding glass door looks out over the southern face of the San Juan range and opens onto a wooden railed deck complete with table, chairs, and tiki torches for extra lighting.

The great room itself has a high ceiling with no second floor, a large ceiling fan front and center for the warmer months of the year. A plush, leather couch that wraps around the fireplace in a 'U' shape segregates the living area from kitchen. Above the mantle is a fifty-five inch, 4K smart television mounted to the wall with an arm mount that can be extended and adjusted. The fireplace itself is old-style brick, probably considerably older than the cabin built around it. An old burnished red wood coffee table sits out in front of the couch. A thick, fur rug has been thrown down over the wooden floor at the foot of the fireplace.

The kitchen is small, with a simple gas stove and no dish washer or any other extra fancy appliances. This allows room for a small dining room table that seats up to four comfortably. Overall, the front area is designed efficiently to take advantage of the limited space allotted.

The bathroom is simple, with a shower and tub combination and an older style sink, medicine cabinet, and mirror. It's a little roomier than it needs to be, probably, but there is a door leading both out to the living area and also one that connects it directly to the master (and only) bedroom.

The bedroom itself reflects the simplistic living style of the owner. A queen size bed with an old red wood frame and banister, thick covers and more than enough pillows, most of which are feather-filled. A nightstand sits on one side of the bed, and a tall chest of drawers sits on the other. There's a small walk-in closet but it seems as though it's being used to store all his old military gear rather than any clothes. Anything he needs hanging up, such as dress clothes or his work uniform, is normally hung from the banister or a doorknob.

Franklin - Big, Bald, muscular cop. And those eyebrows.
Julian - A weathered, twenty-something man.
Exits: [O] Overlook Road

Franklin and Julian go way back, to a time when things were oddly simplistic in nature - such as staying alive. Franklin had been Julian's Gunnery Sergeant when he was still a young buck and a relatively new Marine. They've seen countless combat missions together and although they don't regularly hangout, once a month Julian invites him up to the cabin for a weekend of R&R.

Now, normally, Julian's cabin is usually pretty disorganized and there's almost always a pile of dishes in the sink he simply doesn't have the time or energy to get to usually do to his work schedule. Notably, he's cleaned up, even organized the firewood pile outside the cabin that now has the fireplace crackling with life.

Winter always comes sooner and stronger up on the mountain than down in the basin and this year is no different. If not for the fantastic view out the southside of the Cabin overlooking the entire basin and city skyline, it'd just be an old cabin that probably needs quite a bit of work.

It's still a mystery as to how Julian managed to get this place, one of the view affordable cabins on the kind of salaray guys like Franklin and Julian have. There are realtors out there trying to buy all the land up to build tourist cabins but Julian's little slice of heaven is one of the few left. It's been well documented back at the police station by complaints from real estate guys that Julian has been threatening these men off his property at gun point and telling them to… go have sex with themselves. Naturally, when these men predictably come in on almost a monthly basis, it gets a good laugh out of most of the precinct, except for the guy who has to run the paperwork. Julian usually buys that unlock guy a few drinks at the local watering hole.

"You know what the great thing about winter is?" Julian asks as he lounges in his old wooden rocking chair, sipping on a single malt scotch while the fireplace crackles. "Those realtors stop comin' around." He chuckles, taking a deep breath as he stares into the fire. In the kitchen, a big pot of thick deer stew the two veterans most likely hunted together quietly simmers, occasionally bubbling up and clacking the pot's wide top. The combination of different ingredients have just recently been chopped up and thrown in, so the smell wafting through the cabin is a thick mixture of onions, peppers, potatos and various other veggies and seasoned deer meat, but also the almost syrupy scent of the pinewood keeping the fire going.

Although normally he just has the big plush leather couch, whenever Gunny comes over for the weekend, he breaks out their traditional old wooden rocking chairs - furniture Julian made himself and Gunny swore wouldn't hold up. Several years later, here they are, still rocking just fine.

It's a damn good thing that Franklin drives an old jeep, or this trip up the mountains is going to be a real pain, this time of the year. But even bad weather and poor road conditions aren't enough to deter the big cop from his routine, and Franklin Payne is a man of routines. And part of that monthly routine up to the cabin includes bringing a sixpack of Coors, even when it's cold outside; as he sits in the chair and rocks slowly, Franklin is in fact not nursing a Coors, but one of Julian's malt scotches.

"No shit." Franklin mutters after he takes a sip from his mug, licking his lips to collect the tasty treat. "I figured you woulda tried booby-trappin' the road. There's that stretch just after the bend, y'know, it's perfect spot for a claymore." The big man snorts a laugh. "Course, with them crazy ass cultists running wild, that might not be a bad idea." Beat. "Speaking of which, you guys rebuilding the ranger station?"

Julian chuckles softly and takes another sip from the scotch glass, shaking it a little and causing the ice to clack against the sides. "You know, I thought about it." He begins, staring into the fire as the thoughts wind their way through his head. "They don't know when to give up. But I get it. They got a job to do like any of us. Maybe I ought to run down to their headquarters and shake things up a little. Might have to get you to bail me out… again." Another sip. With a groan, Julian climbs out of the chair, grabbing the bottle of scotch and passing it over to Franklin for a refill before filling his own again. Rather than take a seat, he moves to the kitchen to start the final prep work for the stew.

"Eventually, yeah. I think Kris is going to handle figuring that out, the damn thing is practically in her back yard." Pause. "I don't think she's too thrilled with me right now. I plugged a couple of those attackers, killed one. They were kids." Julian leaves it at that - he doesn't need to explain to Franklin that age doesn't mean a fucking thing when it comes to defending yourself. Overseas, the insurgents began to use retarded females and children strapped with suicide vests or handed AKs to take pot shots at passing military convoys. What Julian described to Franklin immediately following the attack sounded an awful lot like some shit out of Afghanistan.

Franklin smacks his lips, as his mug is held towards Julian for the refill, but his brow is quirked at the ranger as the experience is described. "No they weren't. The moment they picked up a gun and started shooting, they became combatants." The big man opines, lifting the mug for a long draught. "Kris was in the Navy, I thought she'd get that." He shakes his head a little, and sits back to rock the chair. "At least things seem to have quieted down a bit lately. Gave us a chance to get organized down at the precinct, training for the guys, gear, shit like that. You guys need anything up here, make sure you let me know."

There's a moment where Julian shoots Gunny a half smirk. After all, the Navy still isn't the Marines. The look is pretty easy to read, and then it's gone as Julian starts serving up steaming bowls of deer stew. "Yeah, I know. Doesn't make it any easier." He moves back into the great room, handing over a big bowl of the stew before settling back into his chair with his own, which he tentatively tastes. "Damn, needs more salt. Pretty good otherwise though." He looks back up at the other man, listening and nodding. "I think we're good, unless you know a guy who can fix all the bullet holes in my jeep." This elicits a rumbling chuckle from Julian as he takes another bite. "Sometimes, Gunny, I wonder about this city. It seems like everything is goin' to hell right now. All I want is some fucking peace, you know? I think we deserve at least that much." A half smile forms on his lips and he regards Franklin ambiguously. "Found myself a little 'piece' just recently. Been seein' her for…about since the last time you came up here, in fact."

"We had a good stretch of peace for the last ten years, I guess nothing good lasts forever." Frank sighs wistfully, his head turning towards Julian as the bowls are brought. "Thanks man, this smells excellent." He accepts the bowl after putting down the mug, and now he's sitting forward to better smell it, before taking his first bite. "Mmmm." His brows furrow, but it's an expression of satisfaction. "This is good. The meat's a little lean, but that's to be expected of winter huntin'. Remind me to show off my new recipe for Roast Venison Payne Special some time." He is now resting his elbows on his knees, as he takes another bite, and another brow-quirk is aimed at the ranger. "You? The guy who's sworn off chicks? Found a little piece? Say it ain't so." Frank grins toothily. "Is this the reason for cleanin' up the place?"

Julian's head cants to the side as he considers Franklin's words, even taking a moment to really taste the next bite of the stew. "You know, this is that buck you shot last season." Julian grins then, takes another bite and nods to himself in satisfaction. "You'll have to bring some up next month." The ranger snickers and points his spoon at the other man. "Can't get anything past you, 'detective'." That last part over pronunciated and carrying a lick of irony - it's not uncommon knowledge between the pair that Payne could have easily made detective by now if he wasn't such a 'grenade-jumper'. After a good fit of laughter, Julian composes himself and his demeanor softens considerably. "Yeah, this one…she's uh…" But the words don't come out to the man who has spent the better part of the last few years alone, secluded up in this cabin other than the ritual visits from Franklin and whatever his job requires of him. But if there's any indication at all as to how much stock Julian is putting in this mysterious female of his, the proof is in the proverbial pudding when looking around his cabin. It's clean. So Franklin's question is just met with a knowing smile.

Here's another pronounced quirk of Frank's brow as he regards Julian… specifically when he just trails off like that. "She's what?" He prompts, but quickly continues. "Oh for fuck's sakes, Jules. Is this a serious thing, not just a fling?" He points his spoon at the ranger, almost accusingly. "You're acting like a giddy schoolgirl. Oh my god, man, what's gotten into you?" Frank shakes his head and resumes eating, barely hiding his grin and some good-natured ribbing. "What could've this girl possibly do to attract Ranger Walker's attention?"

Julian takes a moment to take a rather pronounced drink from his scotch glass, in fact, finishing it all off and wiping his mouth with his forearm. At first, it doesn't seem like the man is going to entertain Franklin with a response, preferring his normally stoic and silent 'drink until people stop talking' approach. Rather, he sets the bowl of stew down and, empty scotch glass in hand (other than the two mostly melted cubes inside), leans it against his cheek as he considers his friend's questions thoughtfully. "I'm damaged goods, Gunny." He begins after a long pause, setting the glass down. "There's not a whole lot of hope out there for me. And I'm okay with that. But Nina came along… and, well, she sees through all that shit. So far, she's stuck around. I think it's serious." Pause. His demeanor changes, returning to that more playful, boyish posture that he's trademarked for. "I got sick of waiting for you to hook me up with Rebecca, anyway." Followed by a wolfish grin.

"Haw!" Franklin snorts another laugh, and proceeds to take another bite of the stew. The spoon is pointed at Julian again, although further comments only come along after he has swallowed. "I got a full earful from Becky the last time I tried to hook her up with a new /laptop/. I ain't dumb enough ta try ta hook her up with a /guy/!" He shakes his head at that, oooh no. The offer of a name brings another curious look from the big man, but not one of recognition. "Don't think I know a Nina. What does yer ladyfriend do fer a livin'?" There is also a thoughtful pause. "But don't sell y'self short, Jules. All of us are damaged in some ways; it don't mean we ain't capable of relatin' to someone. I've found it's a matter of finding somethin', or someone important to focus on."

Julian laughs as he climbs back up out of the rocking chair. He offers to take Franklin's glass for a refill than heads back to the kitchen. Two ice cubes in each, then straight single malt till the glass is a quarter of the way full. "A sipping scotch." Julian had described to Franklin in an attempt to get him to try it for the first time, over his usual beers. Since then, it's become a ritual for them. He returns to the pair of rocking chairs in front of the fire, handing Franklin's back over to him and settling back into his seat. "Yeah, I doubt Becks gave me more than a second glance anyway. She's done with law school, ain't she?" He handwaves, as if the details really aren't that important. When more information is trying to get fished out of him in regards to the mysterious new girlfriend, Julian simply shrugs. "She's into tech, works for a big firm that just moved out here. We don't really talk about work much." He goes quiet then, listening intently as the older veteran provides him with some insight into life. Julian finally nods his head, "Well, I think I found someone. So." He turns, eyeing the bigger man, then takes another sip from his scotch. "I should pull out the cribbage board."

Franklin again accepts the refill and immediately takes a ong sip. "Yes, let's get that going. I never get tired of kicking your ass in cribbage. It always reaffirms my purpose in life." The big guy grins crookedly as the glass it then put aside, so he can finish his stew. "What /do/ you talk about if not work? Please tell me you ain't talkin' about yer feelings and all that girly stuff. I don't think I can handle you, of all people, going down that rabbit hole." He sighs dramatically, but upnods at Julian. "Oh, yeah Becky's done with law school for a while now. She's working at this big firm in Baltimore and just passed her bar exam last year, which means she's this big shot east coast lawyer now. You won't catch me messing around with her."

Julian again climbs out of his chair, presumably to go rummage through one of the old wood bookshelves for the cribbage board and deck of cards. When he returns, he sets it all down on the coffee table and proceeds to lay everything out. Glancing up at Franklin, Julian smirks. "Who said anything about talking?" He chuckles, shaking his head. "No, we just…it seems like lately there's been one crisis after another. We haven't had much time to talk this last week, now that I think about it. She works, I work." Pause. "I've been kind of staying at her place lately. It's just been easier since we've been cavasing the canyon this week. I haven't brought her up here yet." On the topic of Becky, Julian is already nodding in complete agreement. "Oh, you and me both. Good for her. How's Luci-lu?

Franklin raises a big hand and gestures for Julian to stop. "I'm gonna stop you right there! I don't need to hear about how much humping you've gotten." Naturally, he is immediately grinning again after the words are spoken. Taking a few moments to finish up his stew while Julian sets up the cribbage board, Frank puts down the bowl only to pick up the scotch again. The question about Luci, however, brings the most genuine and gentle smile to the big cop's face, as it always does. "Luci's just recovering from a pretty nasty bug. Oh! That reminds me, I'll have to skip next month's visit. While she was sick I told Luci I'd take her to Disneyland for Christmas, really to make her feel better, but she reminds me on a daily basis and so… I guess we're going to Disneyland for Christmas!"

Julian shoots Franklin a look, but it dissolves instantly and he's just smiling and shaking his head. "Don't ask, don't tell." He remarks, finishing off his own food and taking both their bowls back up to the kitchenette. When he returns, he notes Franklin's soft expression but doesn't rib him for it. "If we get a break in the weather, you're more than welcome to bring her little mini majesty up to the cabin. Use your spare key." Pause. "I've been spending a lot of time in town, anyway." He gives Franklin a look, daring him to crack a joke before he continues. "The resort is just a little bit further up the mountain and she loves that. Just give me a heads up and I'll stock the place up with something other than scotch." He waves his hand dismissively about canceling next month's visit. Luci always comes first and he certainly knows and respects that.

Franklin nods in response. "Appreciate the offer. I might just take ya up on it." He takes a few more sips on the scotch, then strokes his goatee while thoughtfully watching Julian go about cleaning up. At least he doesn't crack a joke about the ranger's staying in town, but Frank did just say he doesn't want to know that much information. "We're flying out on Boxing Day and staying past the New Year in Disneyland… but ma is prepping for a big Christmas Eve dinner. Are you doin' yer usual thing with the Stone girls? Or do ya have plans with yer new ladyfriend? Cuz if you find y'self alone, you know yer welcome to come join us."

"Oh, them." Julian remarks, taking a deep breath and exhaling slowly, shaking his head. "Kitty and them, tell you what, they're a handful. Lynn got herself knocked up, I'm pretty sure Sarah is either dying of cancer or abusing prescription drugs. And Kitty?" Julian pauses, appearing as though he is about to say something profound, but ultimately just grimaces and shrugs his shoulders. "She needs to get her shit together." And leaves it at that. "I'm sure I'll swing by but…well, I don't know. I guess I'll play the wait and see game." Settling back down in the chair after cleaning up (again with the cleaning thing - who is this guy in Julian's skin?), the ranger starts shuffling the cards and getting the pegs set in the board. "I appreciate the offer. I'm hoping to just get drunk and pass out, to be honest. But now that I think about it, I really don't know much about Nina's family or if she'll be around for the holidays anyway."

Whoa. Julian's recounting of the Stone girls' situation is certainly news to Frank, who again quirks a brow. "I heard about Lynn, but Sarah? Those are some pretty diverse possibilities. Nobody's able to get a straight answer from her?" Beat. "And what's up with Kate? Last time I dropped by, I noticed she's got some shady guests in the house." He sounds like he's expecting some more information from Julian, although the lack of concrete Christmas plans on Julian's part makes Frank grin briefly. "Maybe you should try talking to your ladyfriend a bit more, and hump a little less."

"Maybe you should mind your own business, Gunny. Worry about me kicking your ass in Cribbage tonight." Julian matches Franklin's grin with one of his own as he starts dealing out the cards. "Shit, what's ever up with Kitty? I don't even know anymore. She keeps telling me she's got everything handled, but it's pretty obvious she doesn't. At least not in her personal life." Julian is hiding something - but then again, when is he ever /not/? He's not exactly mysterious or difficult to read, but it doesn't look like the man is prepared to offer up anything else on the subject.

Franklin's cop instincts tell him exactly that, and he eyes Julian for several moments, gauging the ranger to see if he's going to spill. When nothing is forthcoming, Frank doesn't push either, instead reaching for the cards to read. "If it's personal, we should respect that. Hell, it's always my policy not to get involved in people's relationship problems, but if Sarah's having health issues, that's a completely differenthing. It might be somethin' they need help with." He takes a beat to read the cards again. "Want me to start?" Assuming that's a yes, he lays down a card. "Six."

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