Starts with a C

Title: Starts with a C
Time Period: September, 134 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: His first week on the job, Cas makes a friend. Or not.

The walls of the stable may stop most of the chilled wind that brings the smell of rain upon it, but some still seeps in through cracks and drafts. The smell is a nice difference from the hay and horse, but threatens to add 'damp' to both of those smells when the storm breaks. In one of the stalls, a brown gelding stands with one of his legs bent up, foot held in the arm of a young man holding a metal pick and running it along the frog and heel in the direction of the toes. "Don't worry, we're almost done," Cas says reassuringly, even without obvious nervousness from the horse. An annoyed twitch of the tail is all that gives off anything. "Want your feet on the ground, totally understand that, but need to make sure your hooves are clean. Infected feet would make being on feet rather bad, yes? Thought so."

With a grin over at the horse, he leans to let the foot down, patting the horse on the side of the neck. "Looks like someone trimmed your nails not too long ago, so you won't have to endure that. Halfway done." As if to sweeten the deal, he reaches into a bag and comes back with a gloved hand full of some grain seed, possibly oat, to give to the horse. A treat always lightens an uncomfortable situation.

With a hand trailing down the horses back, he moves to the last hoof, one of the hind ones, running a hand over the leg to check for warmth or swelling, before forcing it to bend so he can gain access to the hoof. "I can only imagine how it feels to have someone pick at your feet for a few minutes every day or so, but you'll thank me when I dig out a rock."

Cas can tell when the stable doors open; in an instant, the temperature inside dips several degrees, and the wind that had been battering at the structure's doors blows a thin, icy sheet of rain inside. Fortunately, the person responsible is quick to pull the doors shut behind him again, not for Cas' benefit but for the benefit of the horses locked away in their stalls.

Colm doesn't want anything bad to happen to them, not because he's afraid of what Edmund might do if something did, but because he loves them like some young boys love dogs.

He carries two heavy buckets of water pumped from the ground, one in each white-knuckled hand, and stands there, solemn and silent, observing Cas with too-pale blue eyes and a mouth pressed into a seemingly indifferent expression. On the cusp of puberty with a face a little too long and wide for the rest of his lean, wiry body, he bears little resemblance to his smaller, rounder mother.

Cas knows who he is. Presumably, the boy knows who has is as well; they've seen each other every day since Edmund took Cas on a little more than a week ago, though they haven't spoken.

In his short time here, Cas has been introduced to many people and horses. The horses he always paid more attention to, though, a glance spared for the other stablehands, and the occassional attempt to make conversation, but he talks to the horses far more than any of the other men. His demeanor changes when one of the men is around, as well, almost as if they make him nervous. But as he sets the hoof back down against the stable floor and looks up, that nervousness doesn't show up. A boy, it seems, doesn't have the same effect as one of the older stablehands.

"Hi," he says with a gesture, unaware of much of the boy other than his status as the Boss' step-son and a fellow stablehand. In the wake of all the names he's had to learn lately, he doesn't quite recall this one. Standing, he pats the horse's side again, before stepping away. "Want a hand with those?" he asks, offering his free hand out, a few oats still sticking to the fabric and leather stripped glove he wears over his palm.

"Glad to be working inside today. It's really coming down, isn't it?" he adds, looking toward the door that the rain. "Not that I mind getting wet when I have to, but it's not a spring shower."

Colm answers Cas with shuffling footsteps that carry him across the stable. As he passes each pen, he checks to see how much water each occupant has left in their trough — it isn't until he reaches the stall that Cas is in that he finds a trough with only a few murky inches at the bottom, which he remedies by dumping one of the buckets into it. Pieces of hay float to the top and Colm sets the bucket down outside the stall where it won't be kicked over, then moves onto the next.

Words like step-son have different meanings to different people. This boy isn't treated like a Rowntree, at any rate — he sleeps up in the loft with the birds that nest in the stable's rafters.

He says nothing.

"Guess you got it handled," Cas says in a slow voice, inflection extra exaggerated as if he isn't entirely sure why the boy's not responding. That doesn't mean he stops talking, though. He talks to unresponsive creatures all the time, usually in the form of horses. "You're strong for your age, but I think I was the same when I was as old as you. Working with the horses was my favorite thing in the world— we didn't have nearly as many, just the three, but they were wonderful. So are these guys."

He gestures around the stable, especially to the one in the stall he's with. "I haven't forgotten about that other foot now," he adds, pointing. But the gelding has decided to lap up the fresh water in the interm, which causes the young man to tilt his head to the side. "Oh all right, I'll come back and do that after you've had a drink," he adds, setting the pick up on a hook on the side of the stable, mentally making a note about which hoof he has to clean still, before he pokes out to look over at the boy.

"Your name started with a C, right? Cole? No, it wasn't that…" His mouth seems to compress toward one side as he thinks on it. It seems he wasn't paying attention whenever anyone mentioned the boy's condition— that or he didn't understand the word. Scottish accents are still new to him.

Colm empties the second of bucket of water into the trough on the floor of the next stall, vacant for the time being, though that's almost certain to change before he and Cas finish seeing to their responsibilities to the night. He shakes some of the rainwater from his shaggy blond hair and drags a sleeve across his face, wiping his nose with a mute sniffle.

Eyebrows raise on the young man's face, mouth becoming more perplexed by the moment. It's the silent sniffle that snaps him out of it, as Cas directs brown eyes around until they land on something. Quick movements bring him across the stable to a dry towel, one often used by the hands. Shaking off any excess dust, he raises it to his nose and sniffs it a few times before walking over and offering it out, just a little to the side of the boy.

"Here, why don't you dry off while you're in here. You don't want to catch a cold. Your mum'll have my head if I let you. Or at least most mothers would. My mum would've, but I don't really know yours very well yet. She seemed really nice. Not that we won't have to go back out there again or anything— but nice to dry off when you can, right?"

Colm glances up and back over his shoulder when the towel enters his peripheral vision, but he seems more interested in Cas' mouth than the offering. Only once Cas has finished speaking does he take it from him, wipe his face, and use it to ruff dry his hair.

"Thank you," sounds a little flat, his enunciation imperfect. Better than nothing. He holds out his hand, the one not clutching the towel, to Cas. "M'Colm."

"Colm, that's what it was," Cas says, relief visible on his face while his whole body seeming to dip down as his knees bend. He raises back up a second later. The boy's accent might be even more difficult than the Scottish ones, but brief words are simple enough. "I was close. I just forget names sometimes, especially…" His hands gesture at the boy, completing the sentance. "I'm better with their names," he adds on, gesturing at the horses with a visible grin that brightens his eyes and dimples a cheek.

"And the boss of course. Can't forget his name." His hand goes up in another greeting gesture. "I'm Cas."

Colm looks down at his own hand, back up at Cas, then back down again, turning it over as if taking interest in the crescents of dirt wedged under his stubby nails like miniature black moons. Still holding the towel, he points to the stable doors, maybe to indicate that's where he's headed. He makes a sound at the back of his throat, about to put words to it, but stalls out before he can find his voice.

He's not that confident.

Ducking his head, he drapes the towel over the side of the stall, scoops up both buckets and steers himself toward the exit without a farewell.

As the boy exits, Cas tilts his head to the side again, eyes following the boy as he goes to continue his work without farewell or anything. "That kid needs to smile and laugh or something." He looks toward one of the horses, as good at conversation as the boy, but equally the victim of Cas' tendancy to overtalk. "Don't you agree? Yeah, I thought so." As if the horse responded to him, other than a mild twitch of the ear from a raised head.

Dusting his hands off, he walks back to the stall he was in when the boy entered, opening and closing the door so he can step inside, grabbing the metal pick and moving around to the untended side. "No, I didn't forget about you," he says, as he runs his hands over the gelding's neck and side, making sure he's calm and ready before lifting up his foot. His next words are as much to himself as to the horse he's tending to.

"There's still a lot of work to do before bed."