(2018-12-26) Career Path
Hunter and Claire talk about job-things.

Java Junction

With copper light hangings, it leaves a rustic feel to the entire room. A long bar with a cash register below a sign that says Order Here boasts a display of pastries, bagels, croissants and other foods for breakfast. Sandwiches and soups and salads for lunch and dinner. On a chalk bard in colorful writing is a list of the different beverages offered as well as the prices. Numbers are given on the receipts so when called, patrons can get their order at the opposite end of the bar from the register.

Tables dot the room, wooden with simple center pieces and wooden chairs around them. Also built into one leg of each table is an electrical outlet for laptops or phone chargers. In one corner is a bean bag area with several magazines and a small book swap shelf.

While music plays softly from surround sound speakers, it is usually tuned into one of the two radio stations in the town. The country or rock, depending on what the barista selects at the time.

It's a cold afternoon and Hunter has retreated to the Java Junction to warm up and to get some coffee. He's huddled up at a corner table, warming his hands around his mug. There's a pastry uneaten on a plate in front of him, as well. He's dressed in layers, with a scarf on along with his hoodie, jacket, and whatever else he has on underneath.

Like almost everyone in the world, Claire's on her phone when she comes through the door, though the conversation is wrapping up by the sounds of it. "Well, I don't see how that's my fault, but fine… Mmkay, bye." She pulls the phone from her ear, makes a face at it, and pushes the 'end call' button with force, even says, "So there!" A few minutes later, with a cup of coffee in one hand and one of those cardboard boxes of 'catering' coffee (with a half-dozen cups in a stack), she wheels away from the counter - and should probably bustle on her way out, but there's Hunter, so she diverts. "Hi! Merry belated," is her chipper greeting.

Hunter notices Claire as she heads over to pick up coffee, and so he's looking at her when she turns around to leave and lifts a hand to wave to her in greeting. "Hey," he says when he sees her. "Merry Christmas." He smiles a bit and lifts his mug of coffee in her direction. "How's it going?"

Claire's quit her backpack, going for the much more grown-up version (a messenger bag), which she slings over the back of a chair at Hunter's table, asking, "Can I sit with you for a minute? It's freezing out there." With a dramatic shiver and everything, which looks funny in a warm coffee shop while she's still bundled against the cold. "It's going very well, thank you. How did the wee tree go over?"

"Yeah, of course," Hunter says when she slings her bag over the chair, nodding to it to welcome her to sit. "It is freezing out there," he says, glancing out the door and wrapping his fingers a little tigther around his mug. When she asks about the tree he says, "I ended up just taking it to my place and setting it up there. Omri saw it though, and thought it was nice. But I didn't go back to Elizabeth's. I'm staying at home."

Dropping herself into the seat, the extra coffee materials on the table in front of her, Claire makes a little face at the mention of where that tree landed. "Not that it's any of my business, but I think you probably made the right decision." She unwinds her scarf, pulls off her hat, loosens her coat, et cetera. "Did your friend come and stay with you, too? Or is he still with the, mmm, police woman?" Obviously, she finds that term a little iffy.

"Yeah," Hunter says, "I think so, too." He then says, "He's still staying at Elizabeth's place, though he's come and crashed at mine, too. Since she's missing and got taken by those cult folks, she hasn't been at her place and I finally saw him to tell him all what had happened."

Sipping her way through her coffee, Claire can't help but remark, "What a strange Christmas you must have had," when he mentions the kidnapping and the cultists and such. "Do you think - " Pause. Re-think. "Do you think you might be in any danger personally, Hunter?"

"My Christmas was.. a little weird, yeah but.. not terrible. I mean, I worked.. and had a little tree.. and saw friends," Hunter says, and then he shakes his head, "I don't think so. It's not like anyone knows that I have any association with her or Omri for that matter. Nobody pays attention to a squat in Willow Heights or who comes and goes from there. And it's not like I know anything, either. I'm pretty much out of it." He lifts his coffee and takes a sip, and pushes the pastry, a chocolate croissant, a little closer toward her to offer some. He breaks off a piece. "How was your Christmas?"

For a second, it's clear that Claire has forgotten exactly what Hunter does, since she asks with a sad gasp, "You worked?" Then almost immediately, "Oh. Hm. Well. Do you get paid double-time for working the holiday?" With a cheeky little smile. "It's probably better to know less than more in this situation. Plausible deniability, isn't that what people are always going for?" She shakes her head, sighing on Hunter's behalf. As for her Christmas, "I mostly just stayed in bed all day. It was wonderful."

"I'm thinking about quitting," Hunter says, playing with the edge of his cup, tracing it with his fingertips as he studies it thoughtfully. "I'm.. not sure what I'm going to do, but.. I think I'm going to stop." He glances back over toward her for a moment, and then he smiles a little. "Sounds nice. Relaxing."

Claire, with the head-tilt, "Why?" A beat passes while she very obviously realizes exactly who freaking stupid that question was, her brows crinkling and her frown pulling at one corner of her mouth. "I'm sorry, I mean - did something happen or just… time to do something else?" Like Hunter's planning to shift from accounting to customer service, something mundane like that. She only nods at the relaxing bit, and switches up the frown for a quick-smile.

Hunter pulls one arm out of his jacket, and out of his long-sleeved shirt so that just his t-shirt is on that arm, and holds it out. It's bruised, from the wrist on up the elbow almost to the shoulder, and though the bruises are fading now, the number of them and the spread of the yellow beneath the purplish remains speaks to the extent of what they must have been when fresh. He slides his arm back into his shirt and then into his jacket. "That, and .. I have people that I care about, for the first time since my grandmother died. And.. nobody wants to be with a hooker. Not really. If I want.. to be close to somebody, I think I need to stop. I never really wanted to do this long-term. It helped me get the quick cash I needed for my grandmother's bills while she was dying but.. let's face it.. I'm never going to save up enough to go to school. I should just.. focus on getting a job, and a place with heat."

A look makes Claire's eyes widen for a moment, then settle into a rapid blink when Hunter puts his arm back into his coat, her chin rumpling with the pull of her frown. "Oh Hunter," is the sort of thing that sounds very stupid without the honest sympathy she puts behind it. "I'm so sorry. That wasn't - I mean, Mark didn't do that, did he?" As for what people want to be with, she shakes her head quickly. "Have you thought about applying for financial aid at all? It's a lot of paperwork, but you could perhaps get some help with money to go to school?"

Hunter shrugs his shoulders, "It's not a safe job. Sometimes things happen. It doesn't hurt anymore." Then he shakes his head and reassures her, "No, Mark was cool, nice even, when he's not yelling at people. He wouldn't do something like that. That was somebody else." Whe she mentions school he says, "I'd need to provide tax information and stuff. I have no record of income for the past couple years. I can't really explain I got all my money from cash from hooking, and even if I got money for school.. I still need to work to eat and stuff. I think I'm going to have to do some legit work for a while before I can think about school."

Well, that's a little load-off, at least. Claire repeats, "'Nice,'" with air-quotes. "He went home to apologize to his husband for Christmas. I expect you'll get a call tomorrow at the latest." She makes a wry face, follows it up with a shrug. Then listens to the completely rational reasons that Hunter can't just jump right into school, adding sadly, "It's a shame that it has to be that hard. It really shouldn't be. What kind of work do you think you'll do? What kinds of things are you good at?"

"Nice, as guys who pick up hookers go," Hunter clarifies. "He didn't treat me poorly, or abuse me in any way. He was pleasant for the most part, but then he was getting exactly what he wanted from me, so there wasn't really anything to get riled up over." He smiles a little faintly. "I didn't say he was a good or ethical person, just that he treated me well enough." He smiles a little weakly at her questions and then says, "I'm pretty good with a knife, and getting into places that I shouldn't?" He shakes his head, "I have no practical job skills."

"Oh no. I don't mean because he picks up hookers. I suppose more people do that than let on about it?" Claire's eyes skim the coffee shop, like she might pick out potential Johns from the people sipping lattes and texting. "He's just difficult to work for." Beat. "For me. Anyway." This conversational hole is getting deep, so she jumps out of it! "Perhaps you could be a cook! You could put your choppy skills to use like that, plus kitchens are always very crowded, so being able to squeeze in would be useful." She smiles at Hunter like her idea isn't as totally stupid as she must know it to be.

"I mean, he's cheating on his husband, which is kind of shitty, right? Unless they have some kind of arrangement. I don't know. We don't actually.. talk," Hunter admits with a slight shrug of his shoulders, not really concerned either way. That's on Mark, not on him. "Anyway.." He laughs a little bit at her suggestion and says, "That's one way of looking at it, I guess. I could do dishes, bus tables, that sort of stuff. Or, I don't know, stock shelves somewhere. Whatever folks do who don't have any real skills."

Claire doesn't seem to have all the answers, either. She just knows, "He had me buy him a bunch of presents, and I saw some text messages that make me think maybe they don't? Have an agreement. I don't know. It's not really my business." She's just super-nosey, and shrugs back at Hunter in kind. "What would you want to do? Let's say you could learn a whole new trade, what do you think you'd enjoy?"

Hunter nods his head about Mark, but doesn't seem too concerned one way or the other. What he does is his business, not Hunter's. He leans back in his seat though and thinks about it for a bit, "Anything at all? I think I'd like to act. I'm pretty good at it when I want to be. But you know, that's the sort of thing that you have to get really lucky to get into. I'm figuring I should probably be more realistic, though."

"Oh gosh," is Claire's immediate reaction to that career path. "You know Mark's a producer, right? I'm sure he knows people who knows people. If he calls you, you really should put it out there. Oh!" She claps her hands together abruptly, noting, "Or you could perhaps see about local theater. Just show up to auditions? You're very cute. I'm sure you could get a part." In Claire-land, things just work out.

"Yeah, I know Mark's a Producer. Maybe I'll talk to him about it.. see what he says. Worst he can say is no, right?" He glances over at Claire, and then he says, "Do we even have a local theatre here?" They probably do, but Hunter doesn't seem to know anything about it. After a moment or two he tears another bit of pastry off of the chocolate croissant in front of him and asks her "How do you do that? Just.. stay so positive all the time?"

Claire says, rolling her eyes ceiling-ward, "I mean, the worst he ever says to me is to go," she skips the word, "myself. If he says that to you, at least you can charge him." Yes, she's a dork who makes dumb jokes. "Doesn't everywhere have some kind of local theater? Even if it's just dinner theater. Can you play any instruments at all?" She blinks at Hunter for the question, like she can't quite place what he means, then ohs and takes a big sip of her coffee. "Caffeine helps." With a beam.

"True enough, though usually I have to fuck him, not myself, to be able to charge him," Hunter says with a flash of a grin, and then finishes off the remainder of the pastry before taking another swallow from his coffee. "I guess? Probably? I mean, I could look it up, I'm sure." He shakes his head when she asks about instruments, "I'm not really much of a singer or a dancer either, but I am good at pretending to be someone else."

Claire, so glad her stupid joke landed, grins happily back at Hunter for finishing off the punchline. "Okay, well, you should probably have a fall-back plan, in that case. Not that you have to be a singer or dancer to act, but. Have you ever considered something acting-adjacent? Location scouting can be fun, and you get to meet all kinds of people. Since you're already good at talking to people…" The dot-dot-dot is all but audible.

"Sure, that could be fun," Hunter says, "But doesn't that require a lot of traveling around and stuff?" He glances around and says, "I don't really have any transportation of my own, though I guess I could take what I saved for school and get a used car or something."

Nodding, Claire concedes, "It does. And sometimes it's just ridiculous. One of the guys we worked with in Tennessee did it for a while. He said he had a director that said, 'oh, and if you could get a real flying saucer to land in the middle, that would be great.'" With an amused eye-roll. "Can you do hair or make-up or anything? Oh! Do you have a beauty school in town? You could use your school money for that, then use the money from that to pay for college."

"Yeah.. no.. I don't really think I want to do people's hair and makeup. That's not my idea of a good time," Hunter says with a shake of his head. "I'd rather wash dishes." He chuckles and runs his fingers through his own unruly dark waves of hair that constantly fall whichever way they want. "I could do stuff like set design though, or like setting things up and tearing them down, or maybe stunt work."

Biting her lip against a grin, Claire asks, "No? You don't want to learn how to make the perfect cat-eye?" She makes a gesture next to her own eye as an example, a quick, amused wink to follow. "Stunt work! Oh gosh, you're just all over the board, aren't you?" Like it's just now sinking in that she's talking to an aimless eighteen-year-old boy. "Perhaps those knife-skills would come in handy as a stunt man."

Hunter shrugs his shoulders and folds his arms on the table, leaning forward on them, "Look, you said.. anything." His smile fades away and he says, "I'll just start looking for dishwashing jobs and stuff like that. Pretty sure that I can find one of those during tourist season. There's probably plenty of stuff that's needed in the winter — snow shovelers and stuff."

With a big sigh, Claire agrees, "It's not very glamorous." Dishwashing and snow-shoveling, she means. "But at least it pays? And honestly?" She puts a hand on the cardboard-carrier of coffee that's getting cold on the table. "Even a 'real' job isn't all that glamorous. I went to school for four and a half years to learn to get coffee? At least you're still young enough to get to try to figure out what you want to be when you grow up."

Hunter is quiet for a bit and then he nods. He glances over toward the cardboard container of coffee and says, "That's probably getting cold." He looks back over toward her and says, "I grew up when my grandmother was dying and I had to take care of myself." He pulls himself up from his chair, and shrugs his coat more closely around him. "Thanks, Claire, for being you. Was nice to see you. I've gotta be somewhere this afternoon, though. Catch up with you soon?" Then he heads off toward the door.

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