(2018-12-19) Cookies and Coffee
Katherine, Claire and others sit down to drink coffee.

The outside world is cold and crunchy, not even the pretty snow, but inside the coffee shop - six days before Christmas - all is carols and garland and gingerbread coffee. And Claire is right in the mix, sitting at a table by the front windows, dunking a cookie in a cup and watching people shuffle across the icy sidewalk. She perches forward a little in her chair when it looks like someone's slipped, making a little, "Oh no!" But the person catches themselves with a palm on the window, and she sits back down, giving them a cheerful thumbs-up for the recovery.

And that's the coffee shop this late-morning.

Katherine strolls into the coffee shop, bundled up in her cold weather gear. She gazes around, eyes narrowed, perhaps she's looking for someone. She moves up to the counter, placing an order quietly before she spots Claire. She points to the table the girl is seated at and makes her way over. "Mind some company? Looks like things are quite festive here today." She glances at the snow outside, watching people slide along the sidewalk with a tiny bit of amusement. "Don't worry, they'll be okay. We're used to the snow out here. Mostly."

"Oh, hi! Hello, Miss Stone," is Claire's prompt and sunny greeting, put while she slides some of the stuff she had scattered on that table off of it. It's nothing interesting, by the looks of it - receipts and a laptop, all of which fit tidily into the backpack she hangs onto the back of her chair. "Of course, I'd love the company, thank you. They didn't really fall, so that's a good thing. That ice is treacherous." She makes a little eek-face.

"It is slippy outside, but that is what comes with the weather this time of year." Katherine takes a seat, setting her purse down on the floor. "How have you been, Claire? Is your project going okay?" She tilts her head slightly, giving the girl her full attention while she waits for her coffee and her bagel. "I was sad when you left the B&B. I didn't get a chance to get to know you very well." She glances outside, just in time to see someone actually slip and land on their rear. They look surprised by it, but quickly get to their feet, dusting off their rear end.

Claire continues cookie-dunking, taking tiny bites so as not to be in the middle of a mouthful when she might need to answer. There's a very little color added to her cheeks about the manner of her departure, and she looks into her cup for a second. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to just flee like a thief in the night. It just seemed like…" She sighs, shrugs, looking back at Katherine with the tail-end of apology still in her smile, which is how she fails to note the near-miss outside. "The film is coming along. We're almost done filming all the interviews, though everything got all out-of-sync after what happened at the stadium. Still, the show must go on."

"Oh you were fine, I promise. Sometimes you have to get up and go, right?" Katherine waves away the apology, smiling toward Claire. "I'm just glad things are moving along smoothly for you, well save for that accident." She smiles up at the server who brings her bagel and coffee, picking up the butter knife to spread her cream cheese over the toasted bagel. "Are you enjoying the city while you take care of your work?"

Considering the relieved smile that follows, Claire is honestly reassured by Katherine's dismissal of the guilt. "Okay. Thank you for being so gracious. Did everything sort of… settle down? At your house?" That reassured smile slips for a second at the mention of the accident, creasing down at the corners. "I suppose it could have been much worse. Just that poor horse." She blinky-blinks rapidly, takes a steeling breath, and presses on hastily. "I am, thank you. It's very festive, like Christmas exploded all over. I love it."

"It's nice and calm there now. Sort of." Katherine looks thoughtful for a few moments before she chuckles softly. "I have a new guest, and she seems to be a very delightful woman. Might be a doctor, I'm not terribly sure yet." She picks up her coffee, taking a small sip. "I've a few tourists in for the rest of the week, and then we'll either empty out for the holidays, or someone will get stranded and need a place to stay for a little bit." She shrugs, used to it. "Christmas gets very …bright around here, and then it melds into the New Year kind of seamlessly. I'll miss that celebration, but it's always a lot of fun here."

"That must be a nice little side benefit for your other guests, to have a doctor in the house." Claire says it with impressed enthusiasm, making her eyes wide, her nod deep. Listening to the guest list, she starts to say something - but the New Year tidbit distracts her. "Oh? I hope it's for a good reason?" Beat. "That is, something positive?"

"She doesn't seem very talkative, but she goes out running. I think one of the daughters of a guest joined her the other morning." Katherine leans against the table, picking up half of her bagel to take a bite from it. After she chews and swallows she nods to Claire. "I'm going on a trip, a very brief one, and then it's back to work." She takes another bite of her bagel. "I've not ever had a chance to go away before, so I'm looking forward to it."

Claire, who definitely does not have this problem, says generously, "Some people just need more time to come out of their shell, I think. Or someone to help coax them out. Perhaps the running partner will help." She sips cocoa and eats her cookies in between all this, of course. "For the New Year? Is it Vegas?" she guesses, all set to be excited on Katherine's behalf. "Oh, or Times Square, that would be so fun."

"You're right. Some people aren't very good at being open and approachable. Some people never manage it. You just have to carefully provide opportunities and then not push it." Katherine nods, stirring her coffee a bit before she adds more sugar. "No, I get a nice penthouse in Rio all to myself for two days. There is going to be a celebration, fireworks, and apparently there are a lot of parties that just crop up that one can attend. I'm packing a bikini, a few pairs of jeans and a t-shirt. That's it."

"Oh gosh, how lovely for you!" Claire clasps her hands together under her chin and everything, following through to lean her elbows on the table with her chin on the heel of her hand. All set to be delighted on Katherine's behalf. "Did you win a contest or something? Like on the radio?"

"It will be lovely." Katherine is clearly amused, laughing softly as she stares at Claire for a few beats. "No, it was a generous present. One that I intend to enjoy as much as I am able." She picks up her coffee and takes a long drink from it. "What will you be doing for the holidays? Will you be here working, or will you be spending time with family?"

Claire says, "Wow!" Which is the kind of thing that most people would spit out sarcastically, but she really seems to mean that little exclamation. "That's an amazing present. Now I'm starting to re-think all the gifts that I got for people." With a giggle that assures that she's just kidding. "Uhm, I don't really have time to go make it home, so I'm going to stay in town and watch movies in my jammies all day. Which sounds very sad, but I'm really looking forward to it." She tacks that last on with a firmly plucky nod at Katherine.

"That actually sounds like a lovey way to spend a normal day." Katherine says quietly, glancing down at her bagel before she lifts it to take a bite. Once she chews she smiles at Claire. "If you're truly not doing anything for Christmas, you're welcome to come up to the B&B. My sisters, Julian, Nina and I will be having dinner and exchanging gifts. I always make far too much food, and would love more company. We watch cheesy holiday movies and talk about what we're going to do for the new year."

It's the coffee shop. You know the drill. Kate and Claire are sitting at a window-table, chatting, and it's Claire that says, "I think it's going to be really exactly the day that I need. But if I get to feeling lonely, I will keep your invitation in mind." With a beam, she continues, "Well, it sounds like what you'll be doing for the new year is already wonderfully settled. Rio," with a wistfully jealous sigh. "You'll have a perfect tan in January." Color her green.

"I don't know if one can get a perfect tan in two days." Katherine replies, nodding at Claire. "If nothing else, stop by to get some food to take back to your place." She rips the second half of her bagel apart and takes a bite. "What movies do you tend to watch? Christmas movies? Or do you put on something warm and summery and dream of a thaw?"

Clack-clack goes the crutches as Warren wheels himself into the coffee shop, struggling with keeping the door open and not crushing his leg as he comes through the door. Too bad there's no helpful pedestrian willing to open it, where's the goddamn Christmas cheer? At least he gets himself inside and avoids (further) injury, swiping the beanie off his head and shoving it into his pocket; the static from the wool makes some of the hair on the back of his head stand up, which he doesn't seem to notice. Cowlicks are cool anyway, hmph. He makes his way to the counter, gets himself a black coffee and a snowman cookie, and he's about to turn and head back out when there he spots them, Kate and Claire, beneath the window! "Oh hey!" his smile is warm as he crutches his way over, "What're you two up to?"

"Well, you can certainly give it the old college try." Claire swings one arm in an enthusiastic little rah-rah gesture across her front, nodding sternly - like now this is a thing that Katherine must do. Already nodding about stopping by for food, "Oh, thank you, I will do that," is a for-suresie. Warren's entrance has her brightening up again, a finger-curl wave when she answers, "Being horrible people and not helping you out with the door. Hi!"

"Hey Warren." Kate says, smiling up at him as he approaches the table. "I'm surprised you don't have any wireless Christmas lights wrapped around your boot and cast." She beams over at Claire when she promises to stop by, for food at least, before she gets to her feet to pull out the third chair. "Why don't you settle down and drink your coffee here, with company?" She gives her forearm a dubious look before she giggles softly. "I don't know Claire. I think I'll just get one shade darker, nobody will notice, and I'll be okay with that."

"I'll be sure to hold a grudge forever and ever now. I nearly lost my other foot!" Warren replies to Claire with a wry smirk, setting his coffee down on the table when the seat is offered. It takes him a second to get settled on the chair, but soon the crutches are tucked away, and he chuckles as he addresses Kate: "I actually have a Christmas stocking that fits over it, but I only wear it out in public when I'm with someone who's dressed as ridiculous as I am." There's a grin that diminishes as he bites the head off his snowman. "What're you two talking about?" since he seems to have missed the reason why Kate's going to get darker.

Claire, with the large eyes full of impressed gravity, "I saw that you were in grave peril, but it seemed important that you get through it on your own. Something about teaching a man to fish. Or stand on his own two," she looks briefly under the table once Warren's settled, "feet." While he murders his cookie, she hums the annoying 'do you wanna build a snowman' song, just that one bit, then answers, "We're talking about Rio. Miss Stone," hmm, "Katherine is going there for the New Year." She lets Kate supply the details.

"Just a brief two day trip. I'm going to do some sight seeing, catch some sun, find a New Year's party and then head home." Katherine glances under the table when Claire does. "Getting any better or your crutches?" She asks, wincing when he bites the head off his snowman. "Yikes. Show us on the rest of the cookie where Frosty wronged you." She stuffs another bite of bagel into her mouth, chewing slowly.

Claire takes the liberty of assuming that Warren didn't even get to finish his cookie when his phone did things that had him making a hasty exit. She puts the cookie in the little paper envelope for him, folding it up tidily and commenting, "I guess some emergencies really don't require two feet, hm?" With an amused little shrug while she puts the cookie into her backpack for safe-keeping. (Probably she's going to eat it later…)

Katherine blinks as Warren rushes away. "I do hope everything is okay." She says quietly, watching Claire tuck the cookie away. She settles back in her chair and crosses her legs. "I think that some emergencies rarely require two of anything." She rolls her eyes and takes another bite of her bagel. "Now I think I might want some cookies."

Claire's phone does the thing, and she checks it, answering with a quick smile, "Everything is fine. He says sorry, and - " She puts the phone away, face-down on the table to be sure she doesn't eye it any more. " - to not eat his cookie." Which is funny, considering Katherine's comment. "The candy-cane ones are really good, with the frosting and the crunchy bits of candy on them. Do you want to split one with me?" Her eyes are full of hope; say yes, please, so she can have one, too!

"Sure." Katherine says, moving to get to her feet. "Let me go and get one, and another snowman cookie." She pulls her wallet from her purse, grinning at Claire. "Candy cane." She repeats, turning to walk up to the counter. In short order she is presented with a box full of cookies that she carries back to the table, setting them down. "I got an assortment. I'll take a few home for the people to eat after dinner. We're having beef wellington." She wrinkles her nose, leaning in to add quietly. "If it turns out okay."

Claire sits and people-watches while Katherine gets the cookies. No one almost eats it on the ice, but people bustle hurriedly through whatever last-minute errands bring them this way as Christmas looms. When Kate returns, she gives over an impressed, "Beef wellington. I don't think I'd even know where to begin. Have you made it before, or are you getting brave this close to the holidays?"

Katherine laughs softly, nodding at Claire. "I've made it before. If you take your time, it usually turns out okay." She eyes Claire and makes a face. "Have you ever tried to make it before?" She asks, pulling a cookie from the box and breaking it in half. She hands the bottom half to Claire and dips hers in her coffee.

Claire's hot chocolate has to be so done by now, but she makes it work, dunkdunkdunk. "Oh gosh, no. I one time cooked hamburger and mixed it in with a box of macaroni and cheese. That's about as ambitious as I get in the kitchen. I don't even own any pots and pans right now." A little bite of the now pleasantly softened bit of cookie follows. "How did you learn to cook? Just practice?"

"You don't…" Katherine looks confused as she stares at Claire. "How do you eat?" She asks, blinking a few times before she catches herself. She sits back in her chair and shrugs. "The more kids my mother had, the more help she needed. She used to teach us when we'd sit still long enough, so someone else could make the frank and beans when the little ones were having fits and throwing toys at one another."

The stare makes Claire fidget a little as if self-consciously, looking down at the cookie and the cocoa for a second. "Frozen things? And pantry things. And diners and coffee shops. I was in hotels and on the road for so long, and even now. It's only temporary." She bobs one shoulder up in a shrug, then listens attentively to the explanation for Katherine's cooking lessons. "That's a nice solution. Big Catholic family?"
Sevin has left.

Katherine quirks a brow, holding up a hand to tilt her head back and forth slightly. "Big family, not Catholic though. My parents just enjoyed babies I guess, so they would make a new one ever year, year and a half." She chuckles softly at Claire. "If you ever want to take a cooking class, or just want to learn how to make some easy things quick, let me know. Hmm?"

Claire obviously likes this logic, saying, "That's so nice. Everyone nowadays seems to think having a big family is wrong somehow. It's nice that your parents still danced to the beat of their own drum." There's more nodding along about the cooking class. "Thank you, I'll think about it, certainly. Though - really, it's probably the sort of thing I shouldn't worry about until I have a permanent address?" With a little laugh.

"I don't think so. I mean, think about it Claire. What if you get a hankering for a nice homecooked hamburger or some chicken, but everything is closed? Making it isn't hard, just takes a little bit of learning." Katherine leans against the table, tapping her fingers along the top of it as she nibbles at the remains of her cookie. "Are you going to find a permanent place here in Calaveras? Fallen in love with the place yet?"

With a little laugh, Claire has to say, "I suppose I'd just eat some beef-flavored ramen noodles and be grateful for what I had?" And she's probably not even lying. "But I do see your point." Because of course she does. "Perhaps, when I'm settled and find myself with free time, I'll go and take a cooking class." As for permanence, she makes a face; "I don't think so. My family is all near D.C., and once this job is over? I don't know. Your town is very lovely, but I don't have a job here, and I'm not sure one even exists for me, you know?"

"There are plenty of people who are hiring Claire. If you liked it here enough, you could make it work." Katherine gives Claire a look when she makes mention of beef flavored ramen. "I don't think I've had that since I was ten. My older sister would make it because it was quick and easy." She takes another nibble of her cookie. "Do you have a big family Claire?" She asks, brushing her hair back from her face.

Claire looks down at her hands for a second, nodding about the hiring thing, the making it work thing. "I understand, but it's really - I'm trying to start my career, you know? This film is a stop-gap, but it's in the general vicinity of what I want to be when I grow up." (God, Claire, stop phrasing it that way!) "And I'm not sure that Calaveras is my Metropolis?" There's an apology in the question-mark, and she looks sorrowfully at Katherine, really trying not to talk down about the woman's hometown, but. "I have an older brother and my parents. And both of my grandfathers and one gramma." Which thought makes her smile.

"That reminds me of my sister Sarah, in a way. She was very upset about the accident, but she also felt like this place wasn't going to have the opportunities that other places might have." Katherine smiles to try to banish that look from Claire's face. "It's okay. We'll enjoy you while you're here, and maybe one day you'll come back to visit us again, hmm?" Kate nods as Claire speaks of her family. "Did you send them presents, or are you going to take them home with you when you go?"

"Is that your sister that was mad when I called the paramedics?" Claire asks this with absolutely no venom, so she's at least not holding a grudge about that exchange. The smile that follows is in-tune with her tone. "I still hold out hopes of being a proper writer someday - journalist, I mean. And I know you have a little paper here, but I don't know how much room there is for another reporter?" So she shrugs and smiles at Katherine afterward. "I sent them some things. I won't be home till February, unfortunately."

"Yes. Sarah thinks she knows everything. You get used to it." Katherine says dryly, rolling her eyes as she finishes off her first cookie. "Journalism sounds like a lot of fun, honestly. I love to read, but I'm pretty shit at writing. I'll stick to reading books and newspapers." She nods at Claire and sighs softly. "That seems like such a long time." She reaches out, patting Claire's hand softly. "Hopefully you'll get to talk to them on New Year's and Christmas. I'm sure they'll be missing you."

Again, with nothing like venom, Claire answers, "Didn't we all think that at some point?" Her sigh is more wistful than anything. She accepts the hand-pat, letting it bolster her smile, and afterward turns over the long-ignored phone. "It is a long time, but my parents - " She flips through a message or two. " - are great, and they want me to succeed, so they understand. Unfortunately," sigh. "I won't succeed if I don't get moving. Thank you for the company, Katherine."

"You're welcome, Claire. Keep my offer in mind, and I hope I see you over the holidays." Katherine gets to her feet, bundling herself up in her coat, beanie and gloves. "Don't even bother to call, just stop by." She picks up her box of cookies and smiles at Claire. "Happy Holidays."

"Thank you. I will!" Hefting her back-pack, Claire rids herself of her trash and dishes, and bustles out the door. She slips on the ice, does not fall! And knocks on the window for a second to share the laugh with Kate, then hurries on down the street.

Katherine watches Claire bustle out the door, wincing as she slips and nearly falls. She opens the box of cookies next to her and pulls out another candy cane cookie, breaking it in half and dipping it into her coffee. She lets out a sigh as the Christmas music starts again on the music machine, giving the thing a baleful glare.

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