A Lucky Guy

Title: A Lucky Guy
Time Period: September, 134 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: Mairi Fairbairn finds a young man sleeping in her barn. And it happens to be a lucky encounter for him.

Fairbairn Farm's buildings were themselves a legacy. Ian Fairbairn, his father, and his grandfather all had a hand in the careful construction of the farm's buildings. While his widow never had a hand in the actual construction, it was Mairi who now maintained the walls and roofs.

The barn is a modest size, large enough for a few cows and a pair of horses, with space to spare for expansion, should the farm acquire more livestock. As per usual, Mairi is awake before the sun. She treks her way through the cold before shoving the barn's door open.

For someone long on the road, a barn is a lucky find on a cold night. Though most drifters would avoid one with occupents. Most would. Still, as the door opens and lets in some faint light from the moon and stars, there's a dark shape in the pile of hay that hadn't been there before. Not a horse, or a cow, not an animal of any kind.

This shadow is distinctly man-shaped.

Legs sprawl out on one end, while arms are folded to act as a pillow for his head. A bag sits in front of him. From the soft breathing, he's sound asleep. No weapons are visible anywhere around him. The closest thing would be a sheered off branch that might act as a walking stick that's propped up on the wall nearby.

The figure doesn't escape Mairi's sharp eyes, and her hands are quick to take ahold of a pitchfork leaning against a wall of tools. Ordinarily, she'd be using it to get breakfast for her animals. This time it's serving a very different purpose. Mairi makes her way towards the sleeping form before she stops near him. The pitchfork remains in hand, held casually as she takes a moment to study what sort of creature has miraculously appeared in her barn overnight.

"Hmnn.." She murmurs before gently nudging him with the blunt end of the pitchfork. Thankfully, she hasn't determined he's in need of the other end yet.

The nudge certainly jars the man awake rather suddenly. There's a quick inhale and an even quicker movement as if the young man is used to sleeping in the rough, and a jab like that could mean a magical creature has decided that you're breakfast. Dark eyes open in a face that has the dark wiry hair of a beard on it, looking around even if eyes haven't quite adjusted to being open yet.

Cas' clothing has seen better days. Visible patches and mends in his trousers and shirt, the jacket he wears has had it's sleeves cut off— The sleeves may have been used in the patching, in fact, cause his pants have leather in them, and fingerless gloves on his hands do as well.

"What— ?" he manages to say, once he doesn't see monsters about to eat him or sharp pointies pointed at him. Yet.

Mairi makes an initial assessment. It might not be her final judgement, but she knows what it looks like to her. The pitchfork remains solidly in hand, unmoving. Somewhere, up in the rafters of the barn is a slight movement and a second pair of eyes that seems to assess Cas. The woman clears her throat, casting her gaze down at Cas.

"If you've come to steal something, you've chosen the wrong farm. However, given that you've just been sleeping, I'm going to make the assumption that you're an honest man and simply looking to get out of the cold. Since I am going to assume this, you ought to remember that next time you'd like to get out of the cold you ask at the house."

"I— I'm not going to steal anything," Cas says with a grimace, leaving out the fact that he had actually considered it. Nothing major. Some cloth, a blanket maybe, something to eat if he stumbled upon anything suitable for the human pallet. But certainly not now. Not now that he's face to face with a person.

"Sorry— I haven't had good experience with knocking on farmhouses at night," he says in soft, but honest tones, his voice showing a definite ring of someone from a good distance away. Accents of the south, though not the far south. Yorkshire isn't as far away as most of England.

Mairi keeps one hand on the pitchfork, and the other is offered down towards Cas. "You sound like you've come a great distance. I'm no expert, but you aren't from Dornie and you certainly aren't from somewhere within a day or two, I'd be able to tell that." She'll help him up, if he lets her. "Have you much farther to go?" Mairi asks.

With a cautious look at the pitchfork (it is after all a sharp-pointy), Cas takes the hand in his own and stands up, the leather strips sown into the fabric rough against her hands. His fingers are also calloused in a few places, from hard work in the past. "Don't know, honestly. But I've been travelling— most of the summer." Is it even still summer?

"Couple a miles a day if I'm lucky," he says with a shrug, dusting off the hay that's sticking to his clothes with his other hand. "You're not gonna stick me with that, right?"

"I'm not going to stick you with it unless you give me a good reason. So far you haven't, so I'd say we're safe when it comes to that," Mairi replies. Her own hand is calloused, a clear indication if any that she doesn't merely reside on the land, she works it. When he's on his feet, she releases his hand, taking a moment to assess the comfort of her animals before her attention is fully back on Cas.

"Can't imagine traveling that long. The longest journey I've ever been on was only a couple've days and most of that was riding," she shrugs gently. "Can't imagine how you're managing it in this cold and those clothes either."

"Great— wonderful, cause I make it a huge habit to always avoid sharp objects being stuck into me," Cas says in a soft whispery tone, but there's a sarcastic humor to what he says in the tone, and a smile that's just visible in the low light. Mostly because the contrast of light teeth and dark wiry beard is so much.

"You get used to it— though I'm gonna need to find somewhere to work soon if it gets much colder than this." The door being closed had helped, with the animals providing some warmth, and the hay some as well. But now that it's open he shivers, rubbing his arm. "How about I make it up to you— you know, bunking in your hay without askin— I could do a few chores around the place. Feed your animals, maybe bang a hammer around if you got some repaires needed."

There's a boyish quality about the way he talks, even when he speaks of a business proposal of sorts. "I'll do more if you throw in breakfast." He doesn't look as if he's wasted away on the road, but he certainly could never be called plump. Scrawny and wiry all around.

"I was going to offer you breakfast even if you hadn't offered to help," Mairi says with a wry smile. "I could use the company and I'd imagine something hot to eat would do you good. How about you help me, I'll go in and make breakfast, and then you honor me with a bit of a chat. If you're looking for work, I might be able to give you a bit of a recommendation depending on your skills."

There's a moment before the pitchfork changes from a weapon to a tool as she offers the object towards Cas. Some might consider it to have been foolish, but Mairi seems very sure of herself as she does. "Feed the animals, then I'll feed you."

That smile only grows. Cas may have only just started to wake up, but he must be a morning person or something, because he's practically rocking where he stands. Not excited about the work part, surely, but the idea of a cooked meal. By a woman. "I haven't had a real breakfast in a while," he says as he reaches out to take the pitchfork, pointing the end out of the Mairi-area.

"I'm Cas Blackburn," he offers, switching the pitchfork around so he can hold out his hand politely.

There's a nod of satisfaction from Mairi as he takes the pitchfork. His eagerness is also taken in with a warm smile. She takes his hand gently and offers a firm shake. "Mairi Fairbairn," she introduces. "It'll be a pleasure. Been a while since I've had anyone to cook for other than myself. I usually don't hire on hands once it starts to frost because I can handle most of the work on my own, so it's been far too long. I'll be sure it's a meal you won't forget, Cas."

"Long as it's better than fish and berries it'll be better than anything I've had for a while," Cas says truthfully, even laughing a little softly, before he steps back and tosses the pitch fork from one hand to the other and gets to work. Cows are newer to him, but he's been around them a little. It's the horses he's fond of.

Eyes find the horses and his voice changes when he speaks in their direction. "It's breakfast time, guys. You even get to eat before me. If you're very good I'll even give your coat a quick brush before I have mine." Yes, he talks to the horses. Even if there's no sign of magic at all about him.

"I think I can arrange for something a little more substantial than fish and berries," Mairi says, laughing lightly at the idea. She takes a moment to assess what needs to be done before she moves for the barn door. "I'll come get you when it's ready." She had been considering staying and working on the animals as well, but leaving him with them would be a good test of his skills.

"I won't be long," she says, before disappearing out the barn's door.

Likely, he'll take longer than her, because Cas takes his work slowly. Though he would likely say he's being careful. He spends a lot of extra time getting to know the animals, making sure they're comfortable with him, and cleaning up after them. Shovelling some things away into buckets, making sure they all have food. The horses get brushed, as well. Non-horses not so much.

Cows actually aren't something he's worked with much. Feed will have to do there, along with fresh hay.

And most of the time is spent talking to the animals, as well, even if they can't undstand him. They understand his tone at the very least. By the time he puts the pitchfork away, grabs up his bag and walking stick, the sun's spilling light across the ground. A solid knock with the heel of his palm is heard against the side of the front door. He doesn't enter right away. In fact he's bending down removing his shoes. Would seem he was raised not to track mud into lady's houses.

Mairi's ever-watchful eyes note the consideration in silence as she moves to finish the table's preparations. Fresh eggs are present, as is what looks like the remnants of a minced meat pie and fresh bread and butter, with a jug of milk nearby. While it's nothing fancy, there's plenty of it. She takes a seat at one of the place settings, giving Cas a nod. "Help yourself. It's not as nice as I'd like, but it's the best I could do, not knowing I'd be having guests and all."

With his shoes left outside along with his walking stick, Cas only brings his bag in as far as the front door and goes toward the food with sock-covered feet. Socks that have pale red patches on both toes. At the sight of the food, Cas' brown eyes meet hers with a simple, "Oh wow, what you apologizing for. This is a feast!"

The young man may look tireder than he was before, and sound as if he's done work, but he's most certainly still in a good mood. The smell may have something to do with it. And the impending meal. He moves to claim the other chair and already gets to work shovelling food onto his plate. Before he gets to far, the fork goes into his mouth with some of that meat pie hanging onto it. If the sound that follows is any indications, she just made his season.

"Not used to entertaining," Mairi admits. A wide grin spreads across her features as she watches him shoveling food. "Eat as much as you'd like." Maybe not eat her out of house and home, but surely he's not that hungry. Once she's sure he's done scooping food, she helps herself and begins to eat. She's in no rush, but she looks back towards Cas every once in a while to make sure he's doing alright.

"Not used to being entertained. I usually end up talking to my dinner," Cas says with an honest laugh, as he's trying his best to chew and swallow before he actually talks. Months on the road may not have ruined his table manners completely. While he pours himself a glass of milk, he looks across the table with a slight tilt of his head, "So why're you— why do you live here alone? I mean, you're obviously not scaring people away with your terrible cooking." That's said with a smile, as he samples the eggs.

Mairi looks at her plate for a moment. "My husband died, a couple years back. He didn't have any family so the farm was all mine. I could've headed back to my parents, they're only about a day's ride, but…" She glances around the house for a moment. "I like being able to do this on my own. I ask for help when I need it, mind you, but it's my farm and I've always liked working it. I wouldn't give up on it now. I tend to it and it tends to me." She pauses in her talk to eat, washing it down with some milk before looking back to Cas.

"Haven't remarried and I never had any children, so it's usually just me at this table, unless I've hired hands for a season. Sometimes when I've got both the crops and the livestock it can be a bit much all at once." Mairi eyes him for a moment. "What about you? Takes some guts, traveling alone and heading to a destination you don't quite know of. Why're you all alone?"

The good thing about conversations while eating— plenty of things to hide behind when there's questions one doesn't want to answer. Plenty of time to think of a decent answer while chewing, too. Though Cas seems to be one of those 'open book' kind of guys, from the way his eyes shift at the question, and the pause even in the chewing.

"I'm used to it. Travelling alone. Or at least I've done it before. It's…" There's a distant look in his eyes, but he shakes it off and downs some of the milk. Once the glass is back on the table he looks across at her. "Sorry to hear about your husband." He says politely, even if he hadn't known the man at all.

"You take pretty good care of your horses— That's what I do, my job— I take care of horses. Train 'em too. That's the kind of work I'm looking for."

"It's alright, Ian was a man and did good things in the time he had. A life with no regrets, I'd like to think," Mairi muses, but she leans forward as she listens to his talk of horses. "I thought you might have some skills like that, the way you were talking to my horses." Yes, it appears she heard some of that. Or at least, someone heard it.

"You're in luck. If you're just wandering until you find somewhere to settle, you could certainly do worse than Dornie. We've got it better than most, in fact." Mairi chuckles, just slightly. "You're in luck. Edmund Rowntree's the one to see about a job—he's the one with all the horses. Breeds the finest you've seen. He's a good man."

Immediately his eyes brighten. Cas may be in his mid-twenties, but he could easily pass for younger than that with the way he seems to look at the world with a spark in his eyes. That distant look was about as old as he got for a moment. "That's great. I'll have to try and see if he's got work for me. I've definitely been looking for a good horse-lord."

There's a pause for more food to get put into his mouth, even if he is taking his time. Slower he eats the more he'll have in his belly for what could possibly be the last stretch of the journey. For now.

When he stops he has slightly serious look in his eyes for a moment. "Edmund Rowntree doesn't have any daughters, right?"

"You're going to start making me feel old," Mairi mutters, half to herself before she looks back at Cas. "Edmund Rowntree's got a young son, but no daughters. I… take it you're avoiding the company of women for the time being?" There's a slight laugh as she says this, noting his seriousness and attempting to lighten the mood.

"Not all women— just daughters of maybe-future bosses,' Cas says with a wiry twitch to one side of his mouth. Sure it's a serious topic, but since she's playing light at it, he certainly can too. "So tell me about your husband, if it's not a bad subject— Ian you said? How'd you meet?" There's an honest interest in his eyes, as he takes a backseat to talking to listen.

And eat.

"Aaahhh," Mairi says, knowingly. Daughters of maybe-future bosses could be bad news. "No daughters, just a son. You should be safe." She takes a quick bite of her food before she looks back towards Cas at the question. She seems a touch surprised, not having expected the question, but the quick smile after it's posed indicates that it isn't anything that might upset her.

"When I was little, I lived in another town. My father ran a farm and I helped. Proved myself to be a good help and I got to work alongside him and my brothers. One day, Ian came from Dornie into town to trade. He met the family, had a short chat, then he left. But he came back, year after year."

Mairi grins slightly. "I didn't really know why he kept coming back to trade. It wasn't as if our town was some big hub for trading or that it was anything spectacular, but he just came back every year because he was in love with me and he was waiting for the right time. I said yes and my father reluctantly lost one of his best farm-hands."

From the way his chin briefly rests on the heel of his palm, Cas really is liking what he hears of the story of the woman's life. "That's really great— that, you know, it was a marriage of love and all." There's a brief distant sound to his voice, but it gets covered up when he straightens and gestures to the plate. "Sounds like a lucky guy, with a very lucky stomach."

Likely he believes lucky for more reasons than food, too.

"It was either a marriage of love or he simply liked the way I farmed," Mairi says, a smile spreading across her lips before she glances back over. "I think we did well. I'm grateful to him because it meant I ended up here and even with his death he's still left me with all this. It's a nice feeling." After a moment, she beams.

"They do say a way to a man's heart is through his stomach. I don't know if I entirely believe that," Mairi says, tapping her chin lightly, "but at least it's a good place to start. A lot more to a heart than bread and butter."

"I think that's more a way to keep 'em coming back. Men're a lot like horses sometimes, and horses always know where their food comes from," Cas says with a somewhat self-depretiating smirk. "But you're right— there's a lot more to it than food. A man's mum can cook for him just as well as a wife can."

Mairi laughs. "A man also loves his mum, though. Not in the same way, hopefully, but… and then where would we be if we had a man who knew how to cook? Everyone would be entirely confused in matters of the heart." She reaches for the butter and liberally spreads it on a piece of bread. "Maybe men are a lot like horses, but I think men can make better conversationalists. Not that I don't love my horses, but…"

The smile is back in force again, dimpling one of his cheeks in a way the beard can't cover up. With a laugh, Cas spreads some butter on a slice of the bread loaf while he answers, "Horses are great conversationalists, actually, as long as you know how to read them. You can't lie to a horse, and the horse can't lie to you. It knows when you're happy or sad. They may not be able to understand the words, but they understand you."

As he talks his voice takes on that same gentle kind of tone he'd had with the horses. "The tone of your voice, the way you move, the way you breathe— You can try to lie to a horse, but they'll know if you're being insincere. Same way with the horses, they don't lie to you. Treat a horse right and they won't ever leave you or hurt you."

There's a small, knowing chuckle. Mairi takes a bite of her bread while she listens before she sets it down to look back to Cas. "Horses can't lie… well, that's certainly something they've got on us. At least I'll always know I've got a pair of creatures that will be honest with me, day in and day out." Her voice takes on a wistful tone. "They are good company, though. Goodness knows I've spent far too long in that barn. I think they've grown to like my singing."

"I bet they do, I mean I don't sing to the horses, but they like hearing voices," Cas says with a grin, a slice of bread already finished while he listened to her talk. He seems to have ate his fill for the moment, too, cause he doesn't start adding more to his plate. "They like hearing voices cause it helps them know where you are. Even if you're a stranger, as long as they can see or hear you they won't panic as easily. This is of course if the horse has been treated well."

The universal exception.

"Some people don't treat theirs well at all, and… those are the ones you have to look out for. Bad people can make for bad horses. I usually tell how a person will treat an employee based on how they treat their horses. That's my way of deciding where to work. There was a horse lord about a month back, but his horses were skittish— always looking for where the next swat was going to come from. And then there's the one that train their horses to hate— to kick anyone not them, or to bite. I won't work for anyone like that."

Mairi finishes off her slice of bread, wiping her hands neatly on a cloth napkin before she glances over the table at Cas. "It's a good way to determine where to work and a general good judge of character. If a person's mean-spirited in the first place they'll find somewhere to take it out. I'd say look at a man's wife and his animals and they'll tell you a lot about the man." She nods in Cas' direction. "Sounds like you've got a good head on your shoulders. You've got some good skills, too. I hope Edmund Rowntree takes you on, it'd be nice to have another friendly face in town."

"I hope so too. Not just cause I'll probably try to hit you up for a meal or two, in return for some work, but because it's starting to get too cold to sleep outside," Cas says, looking over to the window. "It's also raining a little too often for my tastes." And from the look of the sky, it may start to do that again today.

With a satisfied exhale, he stands up from the table, pushing the chair back. "I should head out, though general directions would be helpful— " If he forgets, he can ask along the way. "I'll let you know if I do get the job— stop by again when I get a day off or something. But in case I don't— it was really nice sharing a meal and conversation with you, Miss Mairi."

"You should be fine for a while, but by late afternoon I'm sure it'll be raining," Mairi says without a glance towards the window. She smiles in Cas' direction, getting carefully to her feet as she moves towards him. "I'll point you in the right direction. But… do stop by. I could use the company and you're more than welcome to stop in, Cas. I wish you the best of luck."

"Hopefully I haven't used up all my good luck already today," Cas says with a grin, patting down his front that has a few crumbs instead of the potential pitchfork holes that could have been what woke him up. "When I visit we'll have to take your horses out to the town or something. Obviously you need to get out more if you think I'm wonderful company." The eyebrow raises to punctuate that sentance come off as playful.

Mairi laughs at the thought, but she gives a nod of concession to Cas. "We'll take the horses out, then, and maybe I'll find out what wonderful company is." She moves to the door, stepping outside before gesturing down the road. "You should head that way. You'll find Edmund Rowntree well enough, his castle is hard to miss."