Half a Worm

Late October, its one of those times before the orchards are bare to visit, pick apples if said orchard allows it, and enjoy the fall. In this state, Clayton has found himself at Alperton Orchard, to walk among the trees and maybe pick an apple. Certainly others may be about, but the rain is at least keeping some locals away from the opportunity, choosing to come out on a better day for their apple picking. He does wear a faded leather jacket against the rain to help. While he intended to do just that, pick apples, experience what its like to be local, he's instead noticed some loose stone in the earth between the trees, that he's sort of kicked at curiously to expose a little, as if that grabbed more his attention than the trees themselves. He should be filling a small basket to purchase and take home, that's the main draw, but that's grabbed him. Not even looking to see how else is meandering about under the trees on this day.

It's not often Chase goes out of her log cabin in the woods, not that she'd lived in the area for any length of time at all, but it was her escape. At the moment, she's out and about in the orchard. Apple pie was sounding better and better so taking advantage of the rain, knowing fewer people would be out and about, she'd collected the basket and come out in search of some juicy apples that would suit her needs. Realizing she wasn't alone, she watches the figure in the leather jacket, herself dressed in jeans, cowboy boots, a white tank beneath a soft chambray shirt that's buttoned up against the weather. A cowboy hat is on her head, warding off the rain and a duster is worn over her clothing as well, tan in color. There's approximately three apples already in her basket and she's not hurrying to fill it. Watching the other person a moment, she forces a wall up between them, mentally, before she alerts him to her presence. "Nice day for apple picking. Doesn't look like that's what you're doing though," she observes.

If there is a wall up, she'll notice as he turns and regards here, nothing comes against it. More it would be void on his part, no such attempt in the least, subconsciously or otherwise. Clayton more looks over at her, taking in her appearance, he is caught, more at the boots and hat. As if, not overly surprised to see it so much as more than he'd expect to see for the town itself. As if more south than he might of imagined for this far north and that curiosity catches him just right that he smile sheepishly a moment. Looking longer than he should and the remembering himself. "Oh, yeah," he goes from her then to the ground, "Guess I was picking at the rocks, looks like a bit of quartz in there. Not out of place much, but seems a little extra in the region is all." Then he chuckles at the idea, kicking dirt back into place, trying to leave it close to how he found it. "I should be picking the apples, looks like I'm falling behind." A peer at her basket, not to count the three there, enough to see the color at least.

One of each, a red, a green and a yellow. The wall doesn't allow for Chase to prod the other side of it, but the lingering gaze, if only a slight one, is noted and met with a slight and uncomfortable shift of her shoulders, maybe a shuffle of her booted feet on the grass. Lifting a hand, she tilts her hat back just a bit to regard him more fully without the brim being in the way. "Picking rocks has always been better than kicking them, I've always heard." There's a slight pause, a lull in the talking before she fills it again. "Are you from around here?"

With her shift towards uncomfortable, Clayton works on keeping eyes where they belong. A smile comes to the corner of his mouth at least, towards friendly. "Ah, I've heard the same. I only pick the ripe ones." Rocks, more a grin. Then again, maybe that isn't a joke that works so much, as much as he hopes at least. A slight chuckle that is caught, "The color minerals and gems I mean." Then he slightly rolls his eyes up, feeling stupid for explaining. Better to answer the question, "No, not at all. I guess I stick out like a sore thumb maybe." For locals at least, "You are, from around here?" Not certain, she favors cowboy hats more than he's noticed in town, but he doesn't want to assume either.

The smile is responded to with a guarded one of her own and Chase relaxes some, her stiff posture giving a little, at the jokes he makes, especially when he goes to explain it. "I get it," she reassures, the corner of her lips quirking slightly. "Me either, I'm not from here. I recently bought a house outside of town and moved in there. It's a quiet area, suits my needs. You just visiting then?"

Having lost hints of that sheepish smile, it returns a little when she says she gets it. Clayton relaxing just a little. "Thanks," for reassurances. Instead of trying another joke or foot in mouth, he takes more to her interest, or her explanation. "That sounds nice, if I'm still here in a year, I might look around for one. No, I took a position over at the University, my funding at Penn State ended, they had an opening here. Hoping it works out." Then he looks at the trees, "You have a handle on this orchard business, mind if I join you while I try to figure it out?" He is more curious to ask where she's from, but doesn't want to leave it to them standing and him potentially starring a little, figuring walking and picking apples a little more amiable.

"No problem," Chase says automatically to the thanks he offers to her. "You took a position at the University? What are you a professor of?" That he has doubts of whether he will be around in a year gets a look with brows arched, but she nods in understanding. "Sometimes it's just time to move on. I know how that is." Moving towards a group of trees with a healthy choice, she motions towards them. "Red delicious, juicy, good for pies."

"Geology," he offers, hence the uncertainty in the joke as it related to rocks earlier. "I'm Assistant Professor, but I need to locate some funding and begin research to begin working towards a tenure track. So, staying here depends entirely on external funding for my research." He explains simply enough, probably counter to the leather jacket he's wearing, school and research that is. A grin to her as she explains about red apples, "Really, I was just going to pick and eat them, should I try my hand an an apple pie, or am I running the risk of burning my townhouse down?" Not sure about baking it seems, hasn't quite tried it is all.

"Geology.." Hence the rocks, for sure. Chase lifts a hand and adjusts her hat off her brow, offering a lazy glance over the trees. "Apple crisp is easier than a pie, you don't have to make the crust then. Much simpler. You could always just take out the core, add some cinnamon, butter and sugar inside and bake the apple like that." Just an idea. "Have you been in town long?"

Watching the motion to hat then her glance, Clayton turns a moment there as well, then starts to walk in that direction at least, slowly to see if she comes along, and if so, then matching pace to walk alongside. "Really, right inside the apple. That sounds too easy." Half a grin, "Its not some set up, won't blow up in my oven will it?" Though regardless, he'd still try it, cause all that inside the apple does sound delicious. "Just since the beginning of the semester, a few weeks prior to check out my office, get ready for registered students." Nearing the tree, he returns the same, "What about you, how long have you been here? And I don't even know what you do actually? Other than an expert on apples."

"Oh yeah," Chase offers, deadpan. "It'll explode it all over the place, apples and cinnamon everywhere. But your house will smell good forever. It's the ultimate in potpourri." Then the questions come for her and she turns it back to him. "How are you liking it here so far, I guess college hasn't been in session long yet so you're probably still settling." Ducking her head slightly, she uses that beloved brim of her hat to block off her expression. Convenient that. "I'm a writer." It's pretty much all she offers.

"Well, that makes me want to try it more," he returns, less deadpan, more smile. Though with ducking and blocking expression she might miss his hint of a grin. Curious,the dipping of a hat has him watching to see her face again, like a mystery veil, making the cowboy hat itself an intrigue he had never thought about as it can be used that way. Entirely certain it was unintentional. "My place could use some fresh scent. I'm enjoying it, want to get out more, see whats outside the city itself … or town? Is it too big for town, or too small for a city?" Realizing he's rambling, he tries to get off his topic for the moment. "Oh, a writer, maybe I read something, should I know your name?" And he doesn't know her name yet, maybe thats in part him asking. But not demanding either.

"It comes highly recommended. My mother is the best cook and she taught me how to make an apple pie. It's pretty good, but will never be as good as hers is." Chase lifts her chin, her expression much less tense as she speaks of her family. "Glad plug-ins work and they have much less of a mess than the apple tnt." Maybe she's joking back after all, but she's not really relaxed enough for the genial demeanor. "I think it's a small city compared to what I've been around." The question of her name confuses her for a moment, it's there on her features, the confusion, and she almost gives out the name she had been known as forever. Instead, she gives her new pen name she used for her books. "Chase Holt."

Seeing more of her features, and the softening at least, he feels a little better, he didn't want her to feel out of sorts there. Clayton grins about the glad plug-in versus the TNT, but leaves the joking there for the moment. "Same here, smaller than what I've been around. I think I'm taking a liking to it." Giving a pause, at her name, he may not have read Lost Moon himself, more into reading of science probably, or a victim to his profession for the moment at least. "Chase Holt, I like that, seems fitting." More a grin, then hoping that doesn't come off as rude, "Sorry, I just meant it sounds great, goes with the whole cute cowgirl thing." Less grin, more loosing color, "I like it." Shaking his head, reaching up to pick a random apple even. "I'm Clayton Russell, from California." As if thats excuse enough for the feeling he has of him putting his foot in his mouth.

"I try and avoid crowds and large places, it's the main reason I ended up here. The other is my mother inherited the cabin and I bought it from her, so here is where I settled." Chase looks for recognition of her name and feels relief when there is none. the compliment of the cute cowgirl thing brings a wary look to her eyes though. Distracting herself she also chooses a few more apples, red ones, some green and three more yellow. "Professor Russell. It suits you."

"That sounds a lot better than the only job you could find, has some history to it at least," offers over Clayton, "Better than accepting the first job offer that sounded decent I think." Rubbing the apple on his shirt, he's seen people do that, he's fixing to just try a bite right there in the field. "Does it," he ponders about the professor suiting him, "Is that good or bad … like Indiana Jones, or just glorified dork?" Not that he thinks he's so much a dork. He's paying no attention to his apple come to think of it, and that looks like a wormhole right about where he is fixing for that bite.

"I suppose it may sound better, but I've not always been an author." Chase shrugs casually, but she doesn't elaborate either. Her free hand goes into her pocket as her phone chimes off a text. She frowns. "I have to go do a facetime with my publisher but.." she notices the apple and smirks. "Hey, before you eat that? What's worse than finding a worm in your apple? Finding half a worm. May want to leave that apple for the current inhabitant."

"Well, the name works, I wouldn't change it," returns Clayton, still not yet realizing it. It may take an internet search later to find her best seller of course. But for now, he likes it, who knows may like it more if he thinks its something she came up with even. Pausing at the publisher, feeling like the conversation was just starting, this is good, it stops him from biting the apple. Eyes widen even, he brows furrow, "Whoo, yeah, I don't think I need that protein." He doesn't chuck the apple eitehr, cause worm could be in it actually, he moves to set it near the trunk on a branch, propping it, nice worm home just the same. "Okay, maybe I can see you later?" Then a pause, a shake of his head, "I … no, sorry, I don't mean to be forward, maybe just around town. Thanks for the apple tnt recipe, Chase."

"Thanks, it's sort of a pen name, sort of my real name. Last name is Holt, Chase is just a play on my first name. A nickame sort of." As he places the apple down, she watches though then he's asking about later? An involuntary step backwards is taken in surprise, but she nods awkwardly. "I am sure we will cross paths again in a town this size."

Worm home relocated, he deicdes against more apples, "Chase it is, I'll buy whatever you offer." In the way of names, seeing the stepback, seeing the skittish sort of movements so far. "Certainly, crossed paths it shall be. Sorry, I know I'm awkward sometimes, if I put you off a little, I'll try not to be a nuisance so much." Not to keep her from that facetime, but feeling guilty for his behavior and her reactions.

"No,no.." Chase offers, trying to not come across as too odd. "I'm a loner. I mean I guess a lot of people are, and we all have our reasons, I guess. Just too much white noise you know?" Probably not, she isn't making much sense. "I have to focus hard to remain in a conversation without hearing a million things around me. The more people around me the harder that is to do."

"When I need to think, I go find lots of rock, or a cave," returns Clayton, suddenly feeling guilty, as much as he was feeling awkward. "You shouldn't have to be a loner to get away from that noise, but I get it, sort of a good reason to move out of the city, find small college towns." No, he doesn't truly get it in her sense though. "I don't want to keep you, but I have to admit being curious too. I hope we do cross paths, you've made this town a little more interesting. Just listen for the explosion, watch for the smoke, you'll know I tried the recipe." Either it was TNT, or he just can't cook, which may be a jest in itself.

Feeling he understood, at least somewhat, Chase offers a bob of her head, a please smile curving her lips ever so slightly. "I'll follow the trail of cinnamon dust that settles. It was a pleasure meeting you, Professor Clayton Russell. If they do cross again, you can let me know how the experiment goes." Lifting a hand, she tugs the brim of her hat down in a quiet bid of farewell to him before taking her collection of apples and heading off.

OOC Date: 2015.06.11
IC Date: 2014.10.20
Cast: Clayton, Chase

Alperton Orchard

It is here, at the mouth of the Orchard entrance, that the wilderness quickly parts to allow a stretch slow of rolling fields and the faint glimpse of the rivers waters in the distance. The fencing of the Orchard is impeccably well kept, painted white each year by the town employees to maintain not only the financial worth of the plot of orchard trees, but also the visible value as well.

The entrance of the orchard begins where the road ends, the wide stone gates rising almost 12 feet overhead where the iron worked sign reads proudly 'Alperton Orchard'. The white fence picks up from there, stretching along the orchards grounds, rolling out of sight, while the trees themselves dance against the almost constant breeze.

Cold rain falls from a grey-black sky without moon or stars. A raw wind blows from the east. Raindrops patter against the leaves, invisible in the darkness.

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