Around The Fire Pits


chris_icon.gif kara_icon.gif max_icon.gif yi-min_icon.gif

Scene Title Around the Fire Pits
Synopsis How about a story while waiting for supper?
Date March 18, 2019


It’s been a gorgeous spring day, the kind with the warmed air that makes you want summer to be here already. There’s still a chill that lingers where the sun doesn’t reach, but everywhere else it’s been warm enough to even go without a coat. And it’s still somewhat warm, even with the sun sinking. The heat hasn’t quite given up yet.

Chris has been enjoying the finer weather, it’s good weather for choring. And getting familiar with the land. Now, with the shadows growing longer, he’s found his way back to the firepits and even claimed a seat to relax in. Supper is probably still a little ways off, but that doesn’t mean he can’t hang around.

It may be a ways off, but it has to be cooked, and it seems like it’s Max’s job for the day, since he’s on his way here, with several foil-wrapped packages roughly the same size and shape as potatoes. They probably are potatoes, since what else would be potato-shaped and sized, and be wrapped in foil to go to the fire? Nothing, that’s what.

“Hey, Chris,” he says as he gets close enough, “how’s it bein’ back?” He gets closer to the fire, squatting down near it to set the packages carefully on the edge. He grabs a poker to push them further toward the middle, before he stands up again, finding his way to an actual chair.

Kara Prince swings her arms before her to work some tension out of her shoulders as she meanders this way, coming from the direction of the Sunken Factory instead of from town proper. She'd meant to take some air before the sun sunk below the horizon for the day, keeping some distance from the riverfront to avoid soaking her boots in the mud. Coming up near the firepits, her brow lifts at seeing other faces already gathering. A chuckle escapes her as she picks Chris' out.

"Evenin'," she calls out as she comes up on them, arms crossing once she gets within warmth the pit puts off. Kara's shirked a jacket, only in two layers of shirts overlayed with a plaid flannel button-up worn unbuttoned. She tips her head toward Chris in particular. "You get so excited for dinner you decide to get started on your own?" she asks with a stiff grin. Afterward, Max gets a nod of his own.

“Not so bad,” Chris answers easily. He’s more watching the fire than helping with it right now, but when Max moves into his field of vision, he tips a look up at the preacher. “Fine day today,” he comments, and maybe it’s meant as a greeting. “Kara,” serves as a reply to the second hello. He looks at Kara as she joins the fire. “I have to get an early start. If I were to wait, I would risk missing out because by then you’d’ve eaten it all.”

Max turns when he hears another approach, and when he sees Kara, he lifts a hand to her with a smile. “Hey, Kara,” he says in response to her nod, before turning back to check on the fire again. There’s a nod of his own at Chris’ observation/greeting, and he replies, “That it is. Gettin’ warmer finally. That’s the one thing I ain’t happy about up here. Never could get used to the snow.”

Kara lets out an unconcerned snort of amusement at Chris's ribbing, giving him a sidelong look. Really? the look implies, unphased in its totality. Her expression softens as she inclines her head in reply to Max's observation. "The cold held on pretty late this year, too. It's about time." With a shift of her gaze down to the foil balls, she remarks, "Something tasty on the menu tonight?"

The look Chris returns shows nothing in response. He could be joking, but he could also be serious about his statement regarding supper. It drops, mostly, when the conversation shifts to the weather and he lets his head tip back so he can look up to the sky. “A long cold means a hot summer,” he observes. Whether it’s true or not is up for debate. A beat later and his head levels again, to follow Kara’s inquiry with a silent but questioning look directed at Max.

“Mm hmm, that it did.” This in response to Kara, as Max reaches for the poker to push the packages around a little bit so that they can cook evenly. He settles back again then, crossing one ankle of the other knee. “I don’t mind a hot summer. I got thin Southern blood.” He scoots further down in the chair in a very relaxed posture, continuing, “Nothin’ fancy. Just potatoes for now. Think someone was talkin’ about makin’ chili when it gets closer to dinner, though.”

"Now that sounds like a daylong affair, if they're doing it right." Kara rumbles, the thought of a meal like that catching her attention. It's been a while since she's had a good chili. Max's commentary causes her to let out a thoughtful hum, and she settles in to sit next to Chris. For all the verbal ribbing, it doesn't manifest physically. "You know, I can't say I've asked where you're from before." she remarks absently.

“Nothing like a good chili after a day of choring,” Chris chimes in, “that's what I say.” As Kara asks after where Max is from, he gives the older man a longer regard, his face remaining neutral except for a half squint of his eye. It's still sunny out, though, so that's likely why.

“What are you about, Max? Tell us about yourself.” The questions are racked on so neatly, it could have been planned by the pair sitting together.

“West Virginia, born and raised,” Max replies, taking the sudden influx of questions in stride. “Went to seminary there to become a preacher, and then had my own church. Was there until the end of the war, when there wasn’t nothin’ much left. Then I came up here, and got another church ‘cause I’m too old to change now.” This last is said a little bit jokingly. He’s older, sure, but he’s probably not about to die or anything like that. “Now, how ‘bout y’all?”

There is tacit agreement about the initial concept from at least one other soul: the gift of a beautiful day is one to be cherished firsthand, by feeling sun on skin and wind on shoulders, and not squandered for too long inside the confines of a decrepit factory. The bright rays of dusk behind her obscure the features of Yi-Min Yeh in darkness as she approaches the little group where they are gathered by the firepits, but her slim silhouette is identifiable enough as she emerges into view.

"This seat open?" An inquiry of the space next to Chris, mild in tone: the newcomer does not wish to be too obtrusive in light of the questioning that is ongoing.

"Kansas," Kara admits freely, leaning back in the old folding chair that she's occupying. "The Kansas side of Kansas City, actually. I hear that place is pretty important nowadays, but it's not like I've been back to it in a while to know, though." she chuckles faintly at that, gaze sweeping slowly up toward Yi-Min as she approaches. Her eyes hold the smaller woman in consideration for a long moment before she nods her own assent, turning back to Max to address him directly.

"Haven't really been back that way since graduating high school," is said with a twinge of thoughtfulness to it, surprised it's been that long. "9/11 happened and I went right to an enlistment office the next day. Then one war rolled right into another and … here we are." She twists her head slightly to put flourish on the statement, a stiff smile accompanying it. The mention of it isn't something she intends to let drag the conversation down.

“Huh.” Chris leans back as if to think long and hard about the brief history of Max. Until those thoughts are politely interrupted. His head tilts to so he can look up at Yi-Min, but relents to the request by scooting so there’s space for her.

“Oregon,” comes his two cents. Chris kicks his feet out in front of himself and crosses his legs at the ankles. “Moved around a lot from age 13 until the war. Found myself with Eileen’s little band sometime after.” Inconsequentially, it would seem by his tone. He shifts gears and looks at the newest arrival. “Yi-Min. How’re you now?”

Max gives a friendly nod to Yi-Min when she sits down, before turning back to Kara when she answers. He nods again, this time with understanding, and replies, “Oh yeah, I get that. Knew some people with a similar story, myself. Thanks for your service.” As though it matters in the here and now, but he seems to think it does.

Chris’ response has him turning that way, too, and he continues, “Lots worse people to find yourself with.” He stands up then, adding, “‘Scuse me, gonna go get the rest of dinner.” Then he’s heading away, presumably to do that.

"I am well, thank you," Yi-Min says collectedly as she angles the empty chair besides Chris into position and settles herself into it, aiming even, amicable nods of acknowledgement towards both Kara and the departing Max as she does so. "I have been… busy, putting things together at the factory. There are some key tools that I am missing, but I expect we’ll be in a position to rectify that soon."

There had after all been talk of arranging scavenging expeditions: certainly to deal with the cephalopods, a first priority as a matter of course, but eventually for other resources as well.

As for the stories from the others, these are regarded with a quiet introspection from Yi-Min. The war here in America— wars plural, perhaps— had changed so much here. Such was fascinating to hear firsthand.

"See you around, Max," Kara lifts a hand in farewell, attention turning back to the fire. "We'll mind the potatoes for you." And by 'we', she likely means Chris, lest she rack up more of a notoriety for helping herself to others' food. When the preacher fades off into the distance, she looks back toward the other two, heel working into the ground as she settles in. "It's easy to forget how young you are," she remarks to Chris with a wrinkle of her nose. (It's not. He's ribbed for it frequently, sometimes more frequently than others.)

"So, what about you? From Shanghai initially, or…?" she asks lightly of Yi-Min.

For some reason, she suddenly feels as though she ought to have a drink in her hand.

“I didn’t know you could even find Legos anymore,” Chris jabs easily. It follows a lazy look at Kara when she volunteers them — him, really — to mind the potatoes. It’s probably a fair trade off for his easy teasing. Not that he’ll ever admit it. A throaty noise, a sort of annoyed grunting whine that often accompanies the comments about his age, follows the jab at his expense, and he turns his face back toward the fire.

“I’m not saying as to reveal your age,” Chris interjects. His focus seems to stay on the firepit, but he’s clearly talking to Kara. “That’s impolite. I will say I’m curious, what was life like before the discovery of electricity?”

"Thankfully not. I’m Taiwanese and had the misfortune of moving to the likes of the mainland later." It sounds like there are stories here, though these particular ones are probably not as innately interesting to American ears as they are to Yi-Min. Wry, she clasps her hands together as she glances the way of the pit, shifting her feet so they are even on the soil.

An eyebrow is raised towards Chris when Yi-Min hears the teasing intended for Kara, and she directs a mild, droll rebuke his way— perhaps incongruous to hear coming from her petite figure. "…Hey now, young man. You show respect for your elders." Though she is unsure of the exact age of the other woman sitting across the pit, Kara cannot be too much younger than she is.

At the attempt to rankle her, Kara actually lifts her brow as she turns back to Chris. She's saved, surprisingly, by Yi-Min. Saved in a way, at least. There was something somewhat disheartening about being called an 'elder'. Even with coming from a background where that behavior was reinforced, there was nothing particularly glamorous about being considered one.

"Now, now," she interjects mildly. "Can someone even be called an elder if they're lacking the gray to show for it?" Kara lifts one arm off the armrest, gesturing vaguely at her head. "It's not like I'm hiding my locks here — god only knows we don't have hair dye around here anyway."

She makes no further comment about homelands and hometowns. Perhaps she feels it unnecessary, or perhaps it's in the face of more pressing matters.

Sitting up straight, Chris directs a slow look at Kara to one side of him. Then to Yi-Min on the other. What terrible odds these are. He makes that throaty sound again, and though his expression shows none of the frustration or annoyance, it’s definitely evident in the noise he makes. He sinks back in his seat and looks at the fire, mouth firmed in a line. It’s not often anyone gets the better of him and now he’s getting it from both sides.

From the placid glint that grows in Yi-Min's eyes, it’s clear that the remark about being elders had not really been meant to be taken seriously. Probably, anyway. "It's all relative, isn't it," she says as though truly being informative, taking in Kara's motions towards her very-much-not-gray hair with a look of some amusement.

Then her gaze falls heavily once more on Chris, as if to strongly imply: relative to this one.

It had been impossible to resist, but Yi-Min is not intent on actually being unkind. When she sees the reaction that this has elicited from Chris, the margin of her mouth curves in the trace of a brusque smile. "Age isn't everything, though. You do good work here."

She would know, being plus one horse thanks to him.

"Honestly, the only seniority that matters is how long you've been with us," Kara says on a more serious note. "And that's been a while." She tips her head toward Chris in an appreciative nod. "You did good getting those horses out here. Now, though, I'm wondering what kind of trouble you'll get into that you're here."

An amused hmph escapes her at that. She's looking forward to it.

And it's about then she realizes Yi-Min in her subtle way has called her old. Her gaze slides back the direction of the Taiwanese woman with suspicion.

“Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life,” Chris opines. He remains staring long and hard into the fire, giving no attention to the subtle barb from Yi-Min or the kudos from Kara. He stands a beat later and steps around the fire.

“I’d have a beer,” is his explanation for his abrupt movement. And his reason for heading toward the building. “Kara, Yi-Min, you’d have a beer?”

"Please," Yi-Min says with simple gratitude, arching one brow to perhaps indicate just how welcome such a refreshment would be. She does not hide that Kara's question has similarly intrigued her, but she is content to hold such inquiries until Chris has returned to them— and in the meantime she meets Kara's skeptical gaze with only a slightly questioning air of innocent calm. No slight had been meant, after all.

At least not to them.

"Bull," Kara asserts immediately and with a laugh to the notion that loving what you do doesn't make work work. Still, she laughs and shakes her head. "Sure, I'll have something to drink." she relents when Chris decides they all need one, in his way.

It's a few minutes after Chris disappears into the building before he reappears with a trio of glass bottles. He circles around the fire pit, retracing the same route he'd used to leave, and returns to his seat. The bottles of beer are passed out, one for each Kara and Yi-Min, with the remaining kept for himself.

The benevolence with which Chris is surveyed only increases when Yi-Min smoothly reaches out to receive her bottle. Without hesitation and with the deftness of apparent long practice, she places the top of the bottle between her teeth and pries off the cap with a small, clinking 'pop.' Even so, she pauses a moment before indulging in her first drink, studying the face of the person she has to thank for it in a composed fashion.

"So. Stories about trouble on the way here." Go.

Unlike Yi-Min, Kara opts to open her bottle by placing the lip against the side of the armrest on the metal and plastic folding chair with its criss-crossed ribbons of nylon for seating. A simple pop pries the cap off, only after which does she glance to see the manner the Taiwanese woman is manhandling her beer open. The munitions chaplain pauses in what she was doing, gaze lingering on the woman for a long moment with an unreadable expression before she moves to slide the bent cap of her beer into her pocket.

She looks off finally after Yi-Min tries to set them back on a path of conversation, attempting to follow along. Trouble could be mundane and not very story-worthy, Kara figures, and she tilts her head back while she thinks on that, the thought all but spoken aloud. She tilts her beer back for a sip before glancing at Chris, adding to the request, "The weirdest one you've got. You run into any strange people on the way out here?" The question is barely out before Kara adds with a roll of her eyes, anticipating sass from the younger man. "Present company excluded, of course."

While the two women engineer their own means of prying off the caps to their bottles, Chris leans to one side and reaches into a hip pocket. He produces a multitool after a second, and folds out one of the tools — an option that might at first glance remind one of a can opener, except with two flat ends and no edge in the curve of the hook — after sitting upright again. This he fits to the cap on his own bottle and pops the top off easily.

“Weirdest one I’ve got, present company not included,” he repeats back the parameters of the request. People sure are picky when it comes to story time. He leans back in his seat, the multitool returned to his pocket along with the cap. He tips back the bottle to draw off a long swallow while he thinks.

The bottle comes down to rest in his hand on his knee. “Two weeks into the trip.” That’s a good story, though it’s hard to know by looking at him. Chris makes himself comfortable in his chair and settles in to tell a wild tale. “Two weeks into the trip,” he begins again, “we’re coming out of the mountains into Nevada. It’d been uneventful, except for rain and snow, the occasional rabbit and coyote sign. Birds and squirrels once we crossed the peaks. Trees were starting to get thick again, but there’re plenty of game trails to follow. We just crossed a stream and Parable starts tossing his head and snorting…”

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