(2019-01-07) Buying Kindness
It's cold outside, so get coffee to get warm.

Looks like someone had a rough night. Katherine steps into the coffee shop, wincing at the brightness of the lights as she makes her way to the counter. She quietly orders a black coffee, and a bagel with cream cheese. She hands the barista a twenty and manages a quick smile in her direction. "You can keep the change if you bring the stuff to my table when it's done." She murmurs, and once she gets a nod she turns to find a table, shrugging out of her coat before she takes a seat.

"Thanks, Lisa. No, everything is really great. Thanks for checking in, and I promise to give my inbox some love. Everyone is just really returning from holiday today, so I'm sure they'll forgive me. Ok. Ciao." Sam's voice on his phone is likely just a bit too loud when he pushes through the door of the coffee shop and steps inside to finish his phone call. It's quieter inside without the wind and cars and the crunching of snow underfoot. Oops. He ends the call and tucks away his phone before walking to the counter to get his own order of black coffee. That doesn't take long and he's soon moving to find a table, spotting Katherine while unwinding his scarf. "Good morning, Katherine. May I?" He indicates one of the other chairs at her table.

"Please." Kate responds, gesturing toward the indicated chair with a slender hand. "Cold out there isn't it?" Her food and coffee are dropped off shortly after and she slips the barista another five dollar bill while she picks up a butter knife to spread the cream cheese over her toasted breakfast. She blinks at Sam a few times, obviously trying to focus on him better before she winces. "You know, I've never been one for whiskey, and I think I've found a reason to never be about it again. I think my boss tried to kill me last night." She rubs two fingers over her forehead, above the bridge of her nose, and leans down to pick up her purse. The hunt takes a few minutes but she finds aspirin and takes them with a drink of her coffee.

Sam's expression creases with sympathy for Kate's plight, taking a moment to sip his steaming coffee while she searches for and drinks down the aspirin. "Some kind of celebration?" He keeps his voice pitched low to try to be sensitive to Kate's aching head. "I'd understand if you'd rather drink your coffee and have your breakfast in peace. A whiskey hangover can be rough."

"Something like that. She was trying to manage my life again." Kate shakes her head, a light wince before she laughs softly. "No. No. I need to pay for this properly so I don't let her trick me again. I'll be okay in a few minutes." She squints at Sam a smile forming on her face. "They're building the new set, so I went to check it out and get some work done. I lost track of where the evening went after she ordered in the Indian food, which I'm pretty sure I didn't eat." She rests her cheek on her palm, an eyebrow quirked. "Have you been to Magic of India yet? According to Heather, that's my boss, the lady who owns the place is apparently ..breathtaking?" A beat. "Not sure what that has to do with the quality of food, but I digress.."

"I had to stop. Or nearly stop, at least. I'll have a social drink still, but I leave at that. I wasn't learning my lesson properly, so had to make rules." Sam admits, a quiet smile dancing on his lips. It's somewhere between understanding of Katherine's condition, sympathy, but also amusement at her tale. "I don't think I've ever had an employer ply me with whiskey to make me more malleable, however." His smile widens a bit around the rim of his coffee mug when the conversation shifts to the Indian food and the stunning woman who owns the restaurant. "I really like Indian food. I haven't gone to the place yet, and I usually look for a food recommendation rather than one about the beauty of the proprietor, but now I'm curious." He pauses only a moment before adding - "Speaking of delicious food. Your soup was so good. I almost walked back up the hill and knocked on the door for more. Seriously."

"I don't drink." Kate responds, and with a roll of her eyes she bemusedly adds, "..often. I'm a lightweight so anytime I drink I usually get into trouble." She lets out a soft laugh and shakes her head as she settles comfortably into her seat, taking a drink of her black coffee. "Heather is pretty special. I mean, we used to despise each other and then we grew up. I think she felt that I'd argue less if she gave me a drink, and then she didn't stop me from getting more." She rests her cheek on her palm, trying not to grin across the table at Sam. "I don't think I ate any of the food last night, but the one time I did have dinner there it was good. I haven't seen the proprietor myself, but Heather can be trusted to find good looking women. That sounds bad..but I meant it as a compliment." Her cheeks flush pink and she aims a smile at Sam, one that doesn't have hangover pain around the edges. "You could have come back for more. I still have some leftovers that I was going to serve with lunch today."

"You don't drink aside from when you do." Sam replies with a equally quiet laugh, feeling the lovely effects of the coffee as it starts to properly get into his system. He's soon grinning at Kate's words about Heather. "You're painting quite the picture of Heather. You used to despise her, she plies you with booze to make you more amenable and she has an eagle eye from attractive women. Sounds like an amazing employer." Sam's tone is light, joking. He's settled at one of the tables along with Katherine and they're having a quiet morning conversation over coffee. "I figured I'd make it a point to come up for dinner another night. If the chicken and dumplings were that good I wanted to try something different later in the week."

"Exactly." Kate finally breaks and adds sugar to her coffee, just two spoonfuls, stirring it before she tries another sip. "She has her days. Sometimes you want to throw her down some stairs, but she's giving me a lot of creative freedom, so I think I'll make an attempt to not physically harm her, for now." She picks up her bagel to take a bite, chewing and swallowing before she speaks again. "You're welcome anytime, though I can't remember what I planned for the menu for the rest of the week. I know shrimp is in there somewhere, because someone requested it, otherwise…" She shrugs, gazing at the counter with a slight frown on her face. "I'm considering cookies now that the aspirin is starting to work."

Trotting in, all sunshine and cheer despite the gray day, Claire is laughing into the tail-end of a conversation on her phone - which she is, of course, polite enough to wrap up before she gets in line for sweet, sweet caffeine. Along the way across the coffee shop, she naturally takes note of familiar faces, wiggling her fingers a couple times - and a final time at Katherine and Sam. "Good morning!" is her brightly offered hello, followed by, "Can I sit with you after I get my lifeblood?"

"I look forward to meeting her sometime. It's always nice to meet people and get along with them right away - and I like to think I'm an agreeable sort, so that's usually the case. But, it's always exciting to come up against someone who challenges you at every interaction. Even if that makes you want to pushing them down a flight of stairs from time to time." That's a bit violent! Sam grins and takes up his coffee mug once more, just in time to see Claire come inside and eventually make eye and wave contact. "Good morning, Claire! Please." He replies to her at the same time as he pushes back his chair and looks to Katherine. "I can grab a couple cookies. Or a half dozen. Wouldn't mind some myself."

"Be careful, she's going to automatically attempt to get you on the morning show or cook up some reality series. Then we'll have to fight over who gets to push her down the stairs." Kate takes another bite of her bagel and smirks. "Unless you want a reality show." She waves at Claire when she enters, shooting a friendly smile in her direction. She scoots a bit, pushing out the third chair so Claire can have room. "Sure, if you're offering cookies, I'm certainly not going to say no. Make sure at least one is the lemon, they are enchanting." She discreetly adds another spoonful of sugar, stirs her coffee again and takes another drink, finally looking happy with it.

Claire, coffee, toast. Not just normal coffee, of course. She totally goes for whatever magic-frou-frou-flavor is on the board, bouncing onto her toes like the idea of drinking this concoction is just about the bestest thing she can imagine. "Thank you," for letting her sit over there, she means. As if there had been a socially acceptable way for them to say no. "Did you say - do you want me to buy some?" Cookies. "I think we need cookies," she tells the barista seriously. "Uhhhm, nine cookies, please." Her fingers tap the glass display case here and there, three, three, and three.

"I think that would be a very drab reality series. Watch an author in his natural habitat! Watch him re-write the same paragraph for four straight hours and then binge on a bag of Oreos in frustration at his lack of progress." Sam says with a laugh while he stands up from his seat, walking the short distance to where Claire has done the hard work of picking out the different cookies. He takes a bill out of his wallet and sets it on the counter. "I'll buy them at least. I don't want it to seem like an admission price for coming to sit at our table." He says to Claire, lingering a moment while the barista collects all the treats that were indicated.

"She hired an old trucker for a reality series, and it's done somewhat well. I'm not exactly sure how she does it, but she probably would turn whatever she cooked up into something interesting." Kate responds, going quiet as Sam gets to his feet to move toward the counter. She finishes off half of her bagel while the pair take care of cookie business, pulling her phone from her pocket to check it. She taps on the screen a few times, probably firing off a few text messages, before she slides the phone back into her pocket.

With a nose-crinkle, Claire can't help but tack on to Sam's chat about writing; "Don't forget the part where you constantly compare yourself to every other writer ever and inevitably find yourself lacking." She pretend-types on the counter, mumbling, "Control-plus-A, delete." And wipes her hand across the counter, imagining alllll her words gone with a dramatic sigh and shrug - and then smacks her hand down on Sam's money. "Put this back where it came from, sir. Katherine, tell him can't pay for all the cookies. It's - " Grasping at straws. " - anti-feminist. Somehow."

"Anti-feminist?" This gets a good laugh from Sam, raising both of his hands in surrender. "It's hard to argue with that rock solid logic, but I'm going to have to. I consider both you and Katherine as new friends who have been more the welcoming since I arrived. The least I can do is supply a small gift of cookies in thanks for that welcome." He pauses and then adds - "Besides. Katherine fed me both lunch and dinner and coffee yesterday without taking a penny. The least I can do is provide her some cookies."

"I wouldn't argue with Claire, she seems the type to get aggressive over her cookies." Katherine advises from the table, crossing her legs as she pulls her phone free from her pocket again. She smirks at the message before she shoots of a response. "You two should roshambo for it, it's a nice easy way to solve the problem. Used to do that with my sisters constantly, and it got me out of all sorts of chores." She sets her phone on the table and glances between the pair. "I just want one cookie, and it doesn't matter who pays for it, as long as it's lemon?" She presses her lips together so she won't grin.

The barista just really wants to get paid, guys. She's hourly, and it shows on her face when she looks between Claire and Sam. Bored AF.

But Claire persists, sliding plastic across the bar to the barista and holding Sam's money up in front of him still. "Ahh, but now you're suggesting that friendship is a matter of quid pro quo. Are you trying to buy kindness, Sam?" She clucks her tongue as if disparagingly, following it with a little 'hmmm' sound at the notion that rock-paper-scissors is the solution here. "Keep your money. Or give it to a bell-ringer, there's always one that forgets to pack it in after Christmas." And for Kate? "Three of them are lemon!" Yay~

"I feel like I'm out of my league here." Sam says, crumpling the bill in his hand and stuffing it back into his pocket. He takes the walk of shame back to his chair after being quickly dispatched by Claire. "Do your sisters still live around here?" He asks Katherine when he settles back into his seat, quickly finding a safer topic than who might pay for cookies. He gathers up his coffee once he's settled again and cradles it against his lips.

"Two of them do." Katherine says, nodding at Sam before she turns to watch Claire approach with lemon-y goodness. "You'll likely see them if you come by for dinner again, depending on the hour of the day..or..if they feel like being social." She takes a big drink from her coffee, cutting off any more discussion about the topic at hand.

Claire wins! Charitably, she does not gloat, just says in her best growly Doctor Claw voice (it's a terrible impression), "You'll get me next time, Gadget, next time." And then puts a buck in the tip-jar, mouthing a quick 'sorry' to the poor girl that had to tolerate all that. With a well-laden tray, she comes over to the table and starts offloading things onto it, missing a piece of the conversation. So she fills it in with an assumption. "Oh, is Sam staying at your B-and-B? No apartment yet?"

Sam's eyes narrow a fraction at the relative shortness of that reply from Katherine. That's enough for him to drop the topic as well. He has no desire to make Monday morning unpleasant for anyone. The hangover is likely doing a fine enough job of that. He turns to smile at Claire when she finally joins the table and reaches out to take one of the treats that he wasn't allowed to pay for. He resists sticking out his tongue at Claire. This time. "I don't have an apartment yet. Soon. But, no, I'm not staying at the B&B. I was there yesterday by chance and have promised to go again for dinner soon."

Kate reaches out for a lemon cookie, dipping it into her coffee for a few seconds before she takes a bite. "I have all of those vacant rooms right now, too." She teases, finishes off her cookie as her eyes shift to her phone when it buzzes again. She ignores it for now. "He was taking a walk through Oak Ridge, and I invited him in for coffee. It was pretty cold outside yesterday. Apparently we're in for more snow. I suppose that means more tourists showing up to ski, so it that's always exciting."

"Ahh. Well, I'm sorry you haven't found a place yet. You could move into the building where I stay? Just mind the fourth floor. My neighbor is…" Claire trails off, letting the clock-work gesture she makes next to her ear speak for itself: CRAZY. "The Biscuit Lofts are very nice, too. I wanted to stay there, but they were a bit over-budget. Have you checked there?" So she shrugs and ho-hums. Cookies and coffee and toast; should be a wonderful carb-crash for Claire in a little, but she starts in cheerfully for now. "Or," with a point of her cookie at Katherine. "Stay at the B-and-B till something comes together? All those empty rooms, and it's such a lovely house."

"I honestly didn't even consider looking at B&Bs when I was arranging to come here. I don't know why. It likely would have been a lot nicer than a drab hotel room. And your place in particular is really nice, Katherine." Sam says, taking a small nibble of his cookie just to taste it, but he's still talking. "I looked at a place at the Biscuit Lofts. The location is great. The places themselves are more than I really need, though. I live very lightly. I really just need space for a computer and a bed."

"It might be more expensive, but if you're looking for the simple solution, there are apartments downtown - some of them over the businesses located there." Kate grins at Sam and reaches out to gently pat his hand. "Thank you for the compliment." She props her chin in her palm and considers other places while she reaches out for another cookie, choosing something other than lemon this time. It gets the same treatment, dunked into the coffee before she takes a bite. "If it were me, I'd take my time and look at all your options, and then make an informed decision. Once you choose a place and settle into it, it's a bitch to move."

It's a coffee shop. People are doing what you do at a coffee shop: they are drinking coffee. One table boasts people who are also carbo-loading, with Katherine, Claire, and Sam working their way through a plate of cookies between them.

And it's Claire that says, "I have a ton of information about lodging in town. If you want, I can email it to you?" She pantomimes thumb-typing on a phone with the word 'email.' "Some of it's a bit out of date now, from early December, but it might be a starting place?" Because she agrees with Katherine, nodding and munching. "But you do have to be careful about those apartments over shops. Or you'll wind up smelling like a pharmacy, or curry, or motor oil, or…" She stops. Because cookies.

The door to the coffee shop opens and blows in a figure with the cold. The man is wrapped up in a dark blue peacoat with a grey scarf and black leather gloves. Dark grey trousers are visible beneath the coat, and black boots peek out from beneath those. He unwinds his scarf to reveal the face of one Nolan Lenox, previously of action movie fame, sudden retirement, then reemergence into the world as a Denver news anchor. According to the signage around town and on the telly, he's also about to take Mitch Buchanan's place as Katherine's co-host on 'Wake up, Calaveras!'.

Nolan tugs off his gloves as he makes his way to the counter, getting in line to place his order. A glance around spots Katherine, and he raises a hand in greeting to the woman and points at the barista, mouthing 'Need anything?' to her.

"Oh, is there one above the Indian place?" Sam asks, cutting a quick grin toward Katherine when he makes the comment. He shifts his eyes back to Claire after that. "If you've got information I'd love to have it. I've gone to the obvious places, but that's never the full story. As you both suggest, making a good choice is more important than a fast choice. This is likely the kind of thing that a responsible person would have sorted out before they moved to the town - but, that person is not me." He digs into the pocket of his jacket to pull out his phone and quickly unlock it with his fingerprint. His Inbox shows a red circle with the number '1342' in it. Lots of unread email. He taps it open regardless and turns it to Claire so she can take down his address easily. "Do you have rooms you're looking to fill, Katherine? Maybe we can chat later. It would be a lot nicer while I hunted for something long term." He turns to look over his shoulder when the cold from outside sweeps in once more.

Kate could behave herself, she did just get free cookies thanks to Claire, but when Nolan walks in and offers to get her something she immediately speaks up. "Lemon cookies!" Heck, she'll sneak them in her bag and take them home for later if she has to. She takes a drink from her coffee cup and she scoots again, bringing her within bumping distance of Sam. She just assumes that Nolan will sit with them, because why not? "That right there.." She gestures to Nolan as she speaks quietly to the pair at her table. "..is my new co-host for the morning show." She eyes Sam and chuckles softly. "So you want to smell curry all the time? You must /really/ like Indian food." She won't judge, it's pretty good. "I do have a few empty rooms, and yeah, come on by later and we can see if any of them suit you. You won't have to worry about cooking or ordering out while you hunt up a place to live."

Claire's eyes get ENORMOUS for a second when they pass over all those unread emails. She very firmly does not say anything and nibbles a cookie instead, but wow; her eyes are so so so judgey right now, even when her attention diverts to get her own phone. "There, one more drop in your bucket, Sam." 1343, now.

Turning in her chair, Claire follows the new entrant with her eyes when Katherine points him out, head-tilting curiously. "What happened to the other one? Uhm… Mitch? Mitch Something."

When he reaches the front of the line, Nolan orders himself a latte with almond milk and raw sugar, and some lemon cookies for Katherine. He brings the purchased bounty over to the table, setting the cookies in front of his co-host and giving the table's occupants a smile. "Do you mind if I join you?" he asks, politely, gesturing to the free chair. "I find sitting with a group cuts down on teenagers asking for my autograph for their moms and dads," he notes with a good-natured chuckle.

"Thanks Claire. I'll take a read through it later. And, yes, Katherine. I'll drop by and we'll see if anything works." Sam doesn't say much more than that because he's about to be sitting with 2(!) television personalities and needs to focus on that. He looks up when Nolan approaches and returns the smile with an easy expression of his own. "We wouldn't want to leave you vulnerable to the teenage masses. We have plenty of room and you're tithing with cookies." Plenty might be a stretch, it's becoming a cuddly table. He waits for Nolan's hands to be free of items before he offers his own to shake "Sam Ryce."

Kate grins over at Nolan, reaching out for a cookie with a sigh of contentment. She dips it in her coffee and takes a bite, a smile on her face as she nods in Sam's direction. "What he said, sit with us." She says to Nolan, finishing off her cookie before she continues. "I was at the studio last night, they have the set nearly built. You have to come see it soon, it looks exactly like my great room." She sips her coffee, making a face before she sets it down. "You can give it a once over to make sure they didn't screw anything up, maybe add something to give it your own ..stamp?" She reaches out for another cookie, trying to do so without being seen.

Claire's, "Will you, though?" is entertained now that the initial SHOCK AND HORROR of all those unread messages has passed. More authentically, she leaves it for Sam at, "I hope it helps." She's quiet while Nolan gets himself settled, looking between Katherine and him a couple of times expectantly… but then the question goes unanswered, and she lets it pass as one of those things that got lost in the conversational shuffle. Not that Claire's prone to get starstruck (except she totally is), but there's no immediate glomming onto Nolan, just a conscientiously subdued, "Hi, I'm Claire." Who does not ask for an autograph now. <.<

Nolan smiles as he removes his coat, hanging it on the back of his chair, to reveal a lavender-grey polo-style shirt. He takes Sam's hand for a firm shake. "Nolan Lenox, good to meet you." He offers his hand to Claire next. He has that non-accent of someone who has moved around a great deal in their lifetime and never had one really stick. He takes his seat and his gaze moves to Katherine. "That's wonderful! Are they going to have any sort off seating to have a small studio audience? Like Good Morning, America or the like?" he asks curiously.

Kate turns to look at Claire, not used to hearing a subdued voice. She looks from the other woman to Nolan and back again before she tries to draw her out a bit. "Mitch got hired at Fox News. I also heard, but I don't know if it's true, that he married one of the strippers from Eternity before he skipped town." She shrugs and grins over at Nolan. "I'm not sure, but I think that Heather wouldn't mind having people watch us in the studio if they arrange to do it before we settle in. When we were filming in the house, my guests would sit and watch pretty often." She gets to her feet, indicating her cup with a smile. "I'll be right back, I'm going to go snag a mocha."

"Hello, Mister Lenox." Claire, with the enthusiastic hand-shake. "I'm very happy to meet you." And, after a second to think about whether or not it's totally inappropriate, just goes all-in: "I really liked your movies. I'm really happy to meet you." Enough to say it twice. And then firmly stop being a dork, nodding instead about what happened to Mitch. "How sordid," and pull a face. About the stripper. Or maybe about Fox News.

"Then we could maybe do some small audience giveaways, invite local neighborhood groups in to watch, build up the reputation of the show as community conscious?" Nolan offers to Katherine before giving the Mitch news a nose wrinkle. As she gets up. He rises from his seat, like a throwback to manners of old. Maybe his mother taught him that, maybe he learned it on the set of the Ripper Files which was set in the late 1880s.

Nolan's attention turns to Claire then. "Thank you, though my movies weren't what anyone would call great cinema, I like to think they were at the very least fun to watch." He sips his latte and gives her a bright, Hollywood smile. sparkle sparkle

"Oh, I know that name." Sam says, continuing to smile after shaking Nolan's hand. He doesn't seem terribly star struck. He has gotten to meet his share of actors - and he gets more excited about authors anyway. "Good to meet you, Nolan. I fear I haven't actually seen any of your previous work, but I'm looking forward to seeing the morning show. I like the idea of a live viewing." He brings his hand back and settles it around his coffee mug again. "You moved here just for this show?" He doesn't really hide the surprise in his voice. Small town morning show seems an odd career move for someone in movies.

Kate returns with her mocha, grinning before she eases back into her seat, picking up her phone to finally peek at the texts there. "I think we could talk Heather into it, Nolan. Anything that pings the community bell, makes her happy. Bonus if we find a way to involve a charity." She takes a sip of her drink, setting it down so she can use both thumbs to tap out a reply. She is still looking at it when she speaks in Claire's direction. "You should come by for one of the shows, Claire. You work in production, I'm sure we'd love to pick your brain about what we produce." She taps send on her phone, setting it down again. "You can bring Warren with you, but keep him away from Heather, because…you know…reality show out of everything syndrome." She glances from Sam to Nolan, curious about the answer, so she quietly waits for it.

Claire, immediately, "Oh, you should definitely watch them, Sam. The one - Jack the Ripper? I really like that one. And sort of up your alley? Or perhaps at least alley-adjacent?" She teeters her palm, then makes a nose-crinkle face at Katherine. "I 'work in production,'" air-quotes. "But I'd love to come and see sometime. But who's Heather and - oh. Maybe without Warren, then? I don't really want to be responsible for dragging him in front of any more cameras. You'll have to hit him up separately." Chatter chatter chatter.

"The show, and the peace and quiet. I spent a lot of years in Los Angeles, and then in Denver, and I just need a small town feeling at this time in my life. I have plenty of money, since I didn't spend it stupidly in my youth. Here I still get to feed the need to 'act', while getting to have more privacy than I've managed in decades," Nolan explains to Sam with a smile.

At Kate's note that Claire is in production he looks over at her with interest. "Is that so? What are you working on, if I may ask?" He actually blushes the tiniest bit at the mention of his final role. "That one I am proud of, admittedly. It was the only thing I ever got a high end award nomination for." A golden globe, right before he retired and vanished for five years.

"I can relate with some of that. Though, certainly not to the same degree. Hollywood fame isn't a curse I'd wish on many people." Sam says, nodding after he listens to Nolan's explanation "I'll see about finding the movie. I'm so very behind on movies and television. And so much of it I'd really enjoy, but I need to make pretty firm rules for myself about that sort of thing." Rules for drinking and rules for TV watching. For when good sense and self control fail!

"I also want to talk to you about being in front of a camera sometime soon, Claire. When I have a little more time." Kate drinks from her cup, setting it down as she sneaks one last lemon cookie. "You'll find your quiet here, Nolan. It's nice that we are able to do television and people kind of shrug it off like it's normal around here." She dips her cookie into her coffee and then takes a bite of it. "Just don't let Heather get to you, she can be a very strong personality."

The opposite of slyly, Claire tacks on after Sam, "Maybe some rules for your inbox, too." And looks innocently ceilingward, like she didn't just mumble that at all, hum de dum. But back around to Nolan; "Do you know Michael Roberts' work? He's a documentary filmmaker." Who has a bunch of crap on Netflix, won awards, etc. "Anyway, we were shooting a film about rodeos over the summer. Now we're holed up here for the winter. Editing." Beat. "But mostly skiing - wait, what?" In front of a camera. She has time to blink at Katherine right now.

"I've worked with plenty of strong personalities, Katherine. I can handle it," Nolan promises with a small smile. "No one compares to The Mountain and Van Octane in that department." He nods to Claire. "Of course, I've seen a lot of his work. That's fantastic to know that's going on here. Katherine, maybe we could have him and Claire here on the show talking about what their doing?"

Sam looks somewhat guiltily toward where his phone has been discarded beside his coffee mug after Claire's comment. "I enjoyed Christmas. It seems the rest of the world spent it sending me email. Whatever makes people happy." He takes up the coffee mug and grins just a bit around the rim, watching to see Claire's reaction to being penciled in for a segment on the morning show along side Michael Roberts.

"Didn't you also want to speak to Warren on camera about his newest venture?" Katherine asks Nolan, remembering their conversation in her kitchen. "Could tie in those discussions and see what percolates?" She glances at Sam's phone and then gets an impish grin on her face. "My assistant deals with my emails, according to her I don't get any. I disconnected it from my phone so I didn't feel sad about it." She winces as her phone chooses that time to vibrate.

Quickly, "Oh, no no no. I'm not allowed to officially talk about anything, not on the record. N.D.A.s and all that. I can give you - " Claire totally came in with her messenger bag, guys, even if it was never posed till now. " - my number, though? And ask my boss if they want to send someone to your show?" There's a little regret in there, like she's sorry to not just be able to jump right on board. Obviously, her interest piques when it comes back around to Warren, but she just shuts up and lets Nolan answer. Which at least means she's not snarking at Sam about his emails~

"That sounds like a great idea, Katherine! Get that card to Heather and see if she can work her magic to set it up for us." Nolan glances at his watch, "I'm sorry to drink and run, but I have to go look at a townhouse today on Saminaw Row." He rises and dons his coat and cold weather gear once more. "It was great meeting you, Sam, Claire. I'll see you soon Katherine." With that, the man has his coffee in hand and heads out the door.

Sam raises his hand to wave to the parting Nolan, looking back to the table once he's gone. "He seems nice. I didn't realize you were in the middle of a host transition on the show, Katherine. I'm sure you're excited to see how the chemistry flows once you actually get on air." He picks up one of the remaining cookies and has a nibble of it, looking between Claire and Katherine. "And it sounds like just the kind of spotlight that Warren could use for his project. He seems really excited about the idea."

"Well the thing that I want to talk to you about on camera doesn't have anything to do with your work." Katherine says to Claire, taking the number offered, tucking it into her jeans pocket. Her phone buzzes again and she picks it up, rolling her eyes at whatever is on the screen. She glances at Sam before she scoots to the side to give him room. "I didn't have much chemistry with Mitch, and the sexual harassment wasn't fun, so I'm happy to try something new. It's a lot better than being alone on the show, which was an option." She nods her agreement and grins. "Nolan and Heather were both wanting to get him on to speak about it. I imagine one of them will be reaching out to him at some point."

Claire watches Nolan go, like girls do, not fantastically subtle about it - but she doesn't fall out of her chair or anything, so there's that. That she follows up this gawk with a blink at Katherine's casual mention of sexual harassment is just priceless. "Uhm," is all she says about that, though it very clearly has her approaching this whole 'be on TV with these people' a little more cautiously. "What is the thing you want to talk about?" she asks carefully. "It's not about Warren's project, is it?" After Sam's question. "Because I think you'll get more traction on that if you go straight to the horse's mouth."

She has to: "Or the horse-rider's mouth, in this case."

Sam's expression sours at the mention fo the harassment as well and he looks down into his empty coffee mug. He doesn't get up to fill it quite yet, however. "He sounds like a real piece of work. Well, Nolan there gives off a pretty good vibe. Not to say that's the final judge of anyone's character, but hopefully it's a good sign." He pushes his chair back, grinning at the same time because of Claire's final quip. "I'll be right back. Need more of this."

"It has nothing to do with Warren's project. I'm sure someone from the morning show will be in contact with him." Kate responds, returning a text before she powers off her phone and tucks it into her pocket. "I'm producing my own show, and I need lots of different opinions and outlooks on life. The more varied, the better. I think that you would be a good addition. It will be a rotating cast, so it won't take up too much of your time." She finishes off her mocha, peeking in the cup briefly before she crumples it to throw it away.

"I'll be in touch with you soon about it, but for now, I should get home and get lunch and dinner started so that people can eat." She scoots her chair back and gets to her feet, picking up her coat to pull it on. "Hangover is gone at least, so that's good." She pulls her knit hat from her pocket and yanks it on her head. She doesn't comment any further on Mitch, karma will take care of him. She waves cheerily to Claire and makes her way to the exit, pausing to speak to Sam. "Stop up anytime, if I'm not at home, Charlotte knows where to reach me." She wraps her scarf around her face and takes a deep breath before she steps out into the cold.

Mouth open like she's about to answer something to Katherine… Claire winds up swallowing the breath and the words with it, dropping back into her chair while the other woman bustles her way out of the coffee shop. There's a wave, cheerful enough, but her brows stay knit. "Is it just me," she asks the suddenly empty table, "or was that awfully cryptic?" She probably drank all her coffee by now, but she sloshes around the cup a little bit just in case, wearing a frown. Confused Claire is confused.

Sam is just returning with his refill when Claire speaks to the empty table, settling back down into his seat with a quick shrug. "I get the impression she wants to speak about it privately, without nosy writers at the table. Even though I'm pretty sure I know what she's planning to talk to you about. I imagine she wishes it to be private as much for you as for her." He's almost certainly not aware of how much more ominous he has made the entire meeting sound. He's really not a mean enough person to do that on purpose.

Confused Claire still reasons, "Then why…" But she shakes her head, leaving that particular thought unfinished, just squeezes her eyes shut for a second like the mental-reset button is behind her eyelids somewhere. "Oh, you can't say something like that - " HE'S PRETTY SURE HE KNOWS! " -and then not follow through. What does she want to talk about, Sam?" She folds her hands on the table and everything. Waiting. Emphatically.

He melts back into his chair a bit, protecting himself with a sip of the fresh cup of coffee. "I'm such a terrible person. I shouldn't have said anything because it's not really my business. Not even here a week…" Sam trails off, shaking his head. "Katherine is working on a project and she might want you to participate. I don't want to say anything else about it, well, because it's her thing to talk about." Sam and Claire are seated not far from the counter, Claire in the process of staring down the poor writer.

"So, let me just make sure I'm following you here." That's Claire, leaning over her folded hands a little bit and smiling all sunshine-and-daisies at Sam. "It's not for you to talk about. But you have a little bit already. Which means that I know that you know. And you know that I want to know. But you're not going to tell me. Interesting." She sits back, a finger-steeple away from pulling off full-on evil mastermind posture. She decides for him, "You should just tell me."

Who's got two good legs now and can walk in the door on his own without needing help? It's Warren! Bundled in a heavy coat and a beanie to protect his ears from the chill, he notably lacks his cast and crutches as he hurries into the line, making sure to pull the door solidly shut behind him as he goes. He doesn't note Claire and Sam there in the counter until he's about to tuck a fiver in the tip jar, a smile brightening his features when he spies them. "Hey!"

"I don't even know much to tell you, which is going to mean I'll say the wrong things and have myself in trouble with everyone." Sam replies to the pressure of Claire before him, though maybe he's already well past that point. "She's working on an idea for a new show. Less fluffy than the morning show, but still involving people from the community. That's about all I know. I'm excited to see what she comes up with." Ah, Warren! "Warren! Please come join us." Please, please, please.

Claire reassures promptly, "I won't tell anyone that you told me anything, promise. Confidential source." The small details revealed just leave her more confused, anyway, so that's about what she deserves. Slowly, "But I'm not from the community…?" Any more than Sam is accountable for just knowing something. Hah! Fortunately, in comes Warren - on his own two feet - and lets Sam off the hook (for now), a sunny smile that's not trying to pry information loose brightening her expression right up. "Hay is for horses. Geez, you'd think you, of all people…" She's so funny~

"Oh, yes, of course! Whatever was I thinking? Hay is for horses, hellos are for humans," Warren bumps the heel of his hand on his forehead, chuckling as he ambles over to the counter. "So, hello to you both. It's nice to see you again, Sam." Claire doesn't get the same compliment, though it's likely clear he's similarly pleased to see her too, considering the quick peck to her cheek. "What're you two talking about? Something about a show?" He bounces a curious look between Claire and Sam, settling on the latter for a moment as he sits.

You're not helping, Warren. "We had been talking about you going onto Good Morning, Calaveras to talk about your new venture. Katherine was here for awhile and her new co-star Nolan Lenox. They were chatting about possible stories they might cover. Nolan even wanted to bring Claire on to talk documentaries." Sam explains all of this, deciding it's a pretty fair summary of what they'd been discussing. He takes up his coffee mug to have a sip. "Good to see you're back properly on your feet again."

Tilting her cheek to be kissed, Claire says, "Better," for hello vs. hey, then brow-quirks at Sam's version of the conversation. "I had no idea you were itching to be a television star." Except she says Starr there, with just enough stress on the noun to make sure everyone knows she's talking about his last name, guys. "I'd say break a leg but…" She opens a hand to Sam, who just summed up exactly why she doesn't say it. "For someone who just got to this town, Sam, you seem to know an awful lot about an awful lot." Suspicious squint.

"My going on to who what now?" This was clearly news to Warren, who rubs at the scruff on his jaw as his lips pull into a slim frown. Not even Claire's jokes improve the expression, although it does earn her a small chuckle. "I don't think I'm exactly TV show ready, I haven't even purchased the land yet. But it just goes to show you, you can't even fart in this town without somebody telling every damn body your business." That at least gets him laughing a bit more sincerely, shaking his head at the absurdity of it all. "Isn't Nolan Lenox a movie star?"

"All the better. You can talk about the idea and see what kind of feedback you get before you go spending money on a parcel of land." Sam encourages. Then he squints back toward Claire, his head tilting just a little to the side and finally a smile spilling across his lips. "This is what happens when you drink too much coffee and don't do enough actual work. Hold me up as an example to others of what they should strive to avoid." He peeks down into his nearly empty mug and tips it up to finish it before pushing his chair back. "Speaking of which, I should likely go huddle down somewhere and do a bit of work before the day gets away from me. It was good to see you both again." He says while starting to get himself organized to leave. He'll let Claire answer about Mr. Moviestar.

Claire's squint remains. In fact, she squints at Sam even harder now, so take that! "Is that a very subtle barb? Because I," she lays a hand to the center of her chest, "am going to slave away all afternoon. Many club sandwiches will be slain before this day is through." And then there's a less squinty smile at Sam, and she suggests, "At least go through and mark all your messages read? It's almost definitely going to give me nightmares."

She'll absolutely explain all the things to Warren, but that was a pile of dialogue already, so maybe in her next pose. For now, she just makes a face at the fart-joke; if only it had a better punchline!

"Is he keeping something from you?" Warren volleys this question to Claire while pointing an accusatory thumb at Sam, a conclusion made from all that suspicious squinting going on. The subject of his own TV stardom is well and truly dropped. Instead, he cants his head to Sam, chuckling. "You should just come out with it, man. Rip it off like a band-aid, it'll end better for you if you do. Claire's nothing if not persistent. Very, very, very, very, very," he was going to run out of breath, "Very persistent." But even with the side-eyes that he angles in Claire's direction, there's a smile. And as Sam gets up to leave, Warren holds up his coffee cup in mock salute. "Have a good one, Sam. See you around."

"It's worse, she just thinks I'm keeping something from her." Sam explains, an amiable grin on his face while he gets his jacket on. "And not a barb at all, Claire. Only scolding myself. Emails won't send themselves." He pushes in his chair and waves once more before walking to the door and opening. "But I /will/ get the cookies next time." A challenge! And he's gone before he can hear any reply.

The thing about the cookies is met with a muttered, "We'll see." But Sam's gone, so he doesn't even hear it. Instead, Claire shakes her head and explains the abbreviated version of events: "Katherine was here earlier, talking about all these shows. And she wants me to come and be on one, apparently. But she wouldn't tell me what it was about, but Sam knows what it's about, so." She pestered him, which is where Warren came onto the scene. "Also, they want you to go onto their morning show and talk about your project? I'm," looking for the right word, "a little baffled."

There's an amused look at the exchange on Sam's way out the door, before he cants his head to Claire. His brows go up at the explanation, and it takes him a minute, but the very first word out of his mouth is: "Huh." Then more words, after he's had a healthy sip of his coffee. "Where does she find the time to do all these shows? Doesn't she run a B&B and cook like, three squares a day where she feeds half the town?" It's not critical, far more baffled, much like Claire. Then he just shakes his head. "Well, I'm not ready to announce anything on television of all places. I just barely told my dad."

He trails, tapping his fingers on the cardboard of his cup, as his lips curl into a bemused sort of smirk. "Which, by the way, I guess I should thank you for helping make that conversation more.. uh, entertaining? I had a business card in my pocket to give to my dad, but apparently that wasn't the only thing in there.."

As soon as 'told my dad' is out of Warren's mouth, Claire follows up with, "How did he take it?" So it takes her a second to wrap her head around what in the world she has to do with helping make the conversation more entertaining. Like, she honestly has no idea, and leans forward with brows knitted and everything. "What else was…"

"Oh my God." She turns as red as the underwear in question.

He waits to answer her question, because it was far more entertaining to watch the realization dawn on her. He was laughing by the time she turns red, putting his arm over his stomach as though it pained him to laugh so damn hard. It takes him awhile to calm himself down, and he really only achieves it when he leans over to smooch her on her inflamed cheek. "You kinda brought it on yourself," he smirks, then reaches to gently pat her hand.

"Honestly though? It kinda helped calm things down. At least it helped us to get over the hump and start really /talking/ about some stuff," he shrugs, casting a look to the lid of his coffee as he fiddles with it. "He's gonna wanna go down and see the place. I don't think he's completely on board, but it's a start."

Mortified Claire hides for a second, arm on table, forehead on arm, face melting. This lasts the whole time Warren is cracking up over there, which just makes it worse, so she covers her (very red) ears, too. "You're the one that said you wanted to keep them!" About the time he's getting himself under control, she tries cooling her cheeks with the backs of her hands, mumbling something about never looking Warren's father in the eye ever ever ever.

She's still way pinker than normal, but trying hard, when she does manage to look Warren in the eyes again, at least. "I'm glad you at least broached the subject. Better to do it before you're on television, telling the whole world, hm?" Returning the favor, she pats his hand, too, and holds on to it afterward. Gently but unflappably confident, "I'm sure he'll come around."

It seems like every time they come here, Claire ends up face-down on the table looking as though she's going to die as Warren nearly pees himself with laughter, while the lookey-loos at the next table over shoot very stern looking faces in his direction. One day, some day, Warren was going to get a talking to. Today was not that day though. "At least my mom didn't see them?" he tries to find the silver lining. "And now they are safely at the bottom of my sock drawer, where no one but I will ever see them again."

As for the subject of his father, Warren merely shrugs. "Yeah," he says of the old man coming around, frowning into his coffee as he takes another swallow. "At least outside of the rodeo stuff, and the ranch stuff, it was a good conversation." But what other stuff could there be?! Warren doesn't say. Instead, he just forges forward: "So are you going to go on Kate's TV show?"

Story of Claire's life: Something happens, Warren is proximate, she dies. "Yay?" is her only response to the very small mercy that it wasn't his mom.

"Mm. Rodeo stuff. Ranch stuff. Women's underwear stuff. I hope you at least made sure he knows they're not yours?" Because Claire now has to worry that she just left Warren's dad thinking Warren is a cross-dresser; it would've been kinder to clarify 'other stuff.' She winces at that thought, but does not put her head down again. "I don't know what Kate's show even is. I can't talk about the film at all so…" Shrug. "I'll go and see what it is? If only to satisfy my own curiosity. Will you? When you're a little further on in all this? It's essentially free publicity."

"What?" Warren narrows a look at her, barking out a laugh as he plunks his elbows on the table. "Yes, Claire. That was exactly the conversation we had. I pulled out a pair of lacy underwear, he questioned my masculinity, I assured him I wasn't gay nor a cross-dresser, and we hugged it out and everything was sunshine and rainbows," he says plainly, blinking once, before a dimpled grin spreads. "And literally nothing else was discussed about it. So don't worry your pretty little head."

Then, at the subject of TV shows, he makes a face. "I don't know. I don't even really like being on TV," he sighs. "Would you go with me if I do?"

Claire holds up a finger. She can't impersonate Warren for shit, but she pitches her voice lower and tries, "Dad, I hate to break it to you, but I done decided to quit the rodeo. And the ranch. And also I'm carrying around women's underwear now. For no reason." And ends that little tale with a challenging brow-lift; "Not so far-fetched, is it? And you might as well just tell me what else you two talked about. You'll cave sooner or later." She's on to him.

As for going with him… she glances at her watch, which has the date on it, and then back up to Warren. And pries out a slow, "Yeees. If you want me to come with you, then yes. I will." 'Cause she thinks she's disappearing in 24 days, see.

Warren would try not to laugh, but let's face it. It was impossible, even if her impression was terrible. "Uh, completely far-fetched. Women's underwear? Come on now, I said a lady's panties, Claire," he even drawls out the words to emphasize. As for caving, he merely lifts his shoulders, his reply simple and to the point: "We talked about you." Boom, mic drop.

He takes another swallow of his coffee, following her gaze down to her watch and the date there. That, coupled with the answer she provides, and well, it probably wasn't hard to see from the pained expression on his face that his heart just took a free-fall into his stomach. "At least for whatever.. I dunno, preliminary TV talk they have," he offers mildly.

And then like any good boy faced with the possibility of having tough discussions, he looks at his own watch, and starts clambering to his feet. "I gotta run," because they have twenty-three other days to discuss this! "I need to go pick up some things," from some places. "See you tonight?

Wry Claire doesn't get to come out very often, so she goes all-in after his mic-drop. "Oh good. That's exactly how I was hoping the two of you would get around to the subject. Couldn't be happier." She turns red all over again, and goes back to smooshing her cheeks (which are all hot again) with her fingers (which are all cold again).

At least the deep-seated mortification prevents her from getting morose about the ticking time bomb in the background, though her eyes are very sad on Warren's behalf. "At least for whatever, yes," she agrees simply, nodding and standing up when he does. 'Cause she's been sitting here, like, all freaking day.

Before he gets to run away and hide, she will also smoosh his cheeks with her cold fingers, toe-perching to give him a big smack on the lips. "Yes. I have to bring pizza up to the lodge around six, apparently." She mumbles about a two-hundred-thousand dollar education. "But I'll call you on my way home? We can eat bread sticks." Off each other.

The talk of breadsticks makes him perk at least, or maybe it was the kiss. Either way, he brightens and leans into the motion, all puckered to make the kiss even more obnoxious to the people around them. "Sounds like a plan," is his reply, before he lays one more full kiss on her lips. "Until then," he promises, though before he goes - a thought. "Have you ever heard the phrase 'ask me to love, and I will'? What's that from?" Yes, he's that terrible.

Ahahaha, he's missing an extremely important comma~

"No? Did you Google it?" She will later. "Why? It sounds like something from an ad campaign. Or Sir Thomas Wyatt on a bad day writing." Claire makes the dreamy eyes while she leads out the door, holding it open for Warren out of habit at this point. "They flee from me that sometime did me seek. With naked foot, stalking in my chamber." Very sexily. She likes poetry.

"No, but I can," Warren says of googling the phrase, his brows twitching into a furrow. If only he knew about the comma! But where would it go?! He lets her open the door for him - it would be anti-feminist not to - but she gets a funny look at her poetry. "That sounds sexy. You should read me the whole poem someday. But in your sexy voice," he chuckles, bending to kiss her once more. "I'm that way," he points, which no matter what, will be in whatever direction she's not going.

But about two steps into his walk, he does turn back around, his smile bright for her. "You said it, by the way. In your sleep. But it's good! You should use it in a poem." A beat. "Or an ad. Whatever! BYE!"

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