Sam was having his morning coffee on the patio of Kitty's small apartment when he saw the construction equipment coming down Water street and turning. It was a moment later when he realized it was pulling into the lot between his house and the community center. With a huge sigh, he wondered how Alex would take it …. but knew he couldn't go and find out. As it was, he had slept a little TOO late with Kitty and now had time to gulp down his coffee, kiss her quickly and jog across the street to begin his shift.
Hugh Reader drove off of the ferry and onto the island, quite able to find his location without paying any attention. Driving around to the dead end of Central, he parks his car in the lot across the street, to keep his car clean. Checking that his tie was straight, he walked up to the door to knock.
Alex was ten breaths into a guided meditation, the sounds of a babbling brook coming through his iPod dock speakers. He lay on the floor of his room with his eye mask on trying to delve....inward.....
There were loud vehicles a short distance away but he could tune them out. Inhale...ten....Exhale...ten. They were coming closer but he was still focused. Inhale ....eleven...exhale...eleven.......closer still but he still breathed. The knock at the door jolted him before he breathed to fourteen and he sighed and got up to answer it.
It was his cousin Hugh and behind him the construction crew was unloading - right in the lot beside them. Alex looked panicked and demanded "Hugh! What's going on?" He reached for one of his breathing masks by the door and clutched it protectively. "Is there a water-main break?!"
Hugh stood poised to knock again when the door was opened. He looked at his cousin blandly. Standing where he was, he watched Alex holding the breathing mask. "Hello Alex. How are you?" he began, his voice showing neither happiness or joy at the cousin he had not seen in quite some time. "May I come in?"
Alex looks suspicious at Hugh, not knowing his current habits. He sniffs the air "Are you wearing scented products?" He asks cautiously. He knows his limits and hopes Hugh remembers. He glances warily at the construction setting up again and curses the time. Sam will be at work soon.
Hugh's eyebrows raise slightly. "No." he replies, simply. He is not exactly wired to understand and react to human emotions, but he's learned some over the course of his life. "They are messy and tend to smell." his brows narrow a bit more. "May I come in before my suit is covered in dust?"
Alex steps back to allow him to step in and looks stressed but curious "So...what IS all this?" He gestures towards the construction area.
Hugh walks in, looking ... deadpan ... unfeeling ... almost mechanical. He glances in the area of the construction. "My mother failed to inform you that she is having a house put in that space." he tells Alex. "She told me to come by and tell you before she moves in." he pauses. "And she is sorry she forgot to let you know."
Alex blinks slowly and then stares incredulously "Uh WHAT? Seriously?" He tries to process it but it's vexing.
Hugh sidesteps into the small living room of the brick house and looks at Alex. "I SAID My mother failed to inform you that she is having a house put in that space, she told me to come by and tell you before she moves in and that she is sorry she forgot to let you know." he repeats, simply. "I have the plans, if you would like to see them. The house will be far back on the lot, so it should not block your side door." he tells him, simply. He rarely remembers that his autism is often mistaken as a coldness or even a lack of simple humanity. That he often has to remember on his own.
Alex walks to a window and looks out, still trying to process this. He turns and sighs "Hugh, I needed more notice than this. I'd love to have Aunt Connie next door but the building materials, the off gasing. I'm not sure I have enough air filters......I don't have a plan for where to go if it all makes me sick....." He paces and then walks to the kitchen and fills the kettle, trying to find calm in a cup of tea to think his way through it "What's prompted her sudden move?"
Hugh doesn't even shrug. "I'm sure you can find more filters. My mother can probably help, if you need it." he follows Alex into the kitchen. "She wants to move mostly because she has a hard time pronouncing Tsawwassen. And a friend of hers is also moving here. Probably in the summer." he pauses. "I only made it possible for her." he doesn't sound proud nor ashamed. She asked. He delivered.
Alex doesn't argue it. They do own the land and it's their right to put a house on it. He just wished he had more time to prepare. "For today I'll wear the mask when they really get started. I won't be able to go in the house for months. New building materials.......but it should be OK...if I'm careful." He sighs again. Surprises like this were challenging. It wasn't Hugh's fault though and he reaches to get out two cups "Tea?" He offers as the kettle begins to whistle.
Hugh nods, still standing a bit stiffly. "It is a prefab." he announces. "So the house should only take between 10 and 15 days for it to be move in ready." he offers. "My mother wanted it up as soon as possible. Sometimes it takes as long as 80 or more weeks." he looks at the pot and nods. "What kind of tea?" he looks down at the pot, cautious.
Alex thinks about this "Well faster is better in terms of starting to air out.....Does she really not like her home?" He opens the cupboard where there is an overwhelming choice of tea "I was thinking of Yerba Matte but we have many others "Rooibos, Green Tea, Black Tea, Lemon Balm, Dandelion, Wild Sage, Chamomile of course, Mint, Jasmine, all organic of course, some I picked and dried like the mint and sage.
Hugh looks at him, his face bland. "She does not like trying to pronounce the city it is in. That was my failure." he admits. "But she should have told me then. It's corrected now." he looks in the cupboard and his brows twitch slightly. "I am still trying to be normal, Alex." he explains. "Some things I have stopped trying with, but simple things like tea ..." he trails off. "Black Tea, please." he finally decides on, still standing like one of the Men In Black.
Alex can't help but chuckle "I don't even know what normal looks like Hugh but I understand. Do you take anything in it? I think Sam has some dairy products in the fridge if you like that sort of thing and an digest it. We have honey." He fixes two cups and pours the hot water. "It's good of you to help your mom. I'm sure she appreciates it."
Hugh comes close to the counter, looking at the kitchen. "I tried. My problem isn't allergies. It's autism." this is a family member and they know ... enough about each other. Looking at the kitchen he considers. "I think black is safest." he watches Alex pour. "She says she does. All my life she has taken care of me. Even more than my wives." he nods. "She was right that I should not be married. I upset them too much."
Alex looks sympathetic "I know Hugh. I said that because you know I won't judge. People are what they are and it's all good. Maybe you just haven't met the right person? The world is full of different perspectives." He passes over Hugh's tea and stirs honey into his own, thoughtfully.
Hugh waits until the tea is set on the counter, then rubs the first two fingers on each hand with his thumbs, then blows on them and finally picks the tea up. He wraps his hands around it to warm them. "I have been married three times. Each time they rarely saw me. I avoided them." he pauses, but this is a relative and relatives tended to be safe. "Marriage can be very ... messy. Dirty. I don't like dirty."
Alex nods and then asks curiously "You mean just the emotional stuff or sharing a home with another person stuff? I don't have a lot of relationship experience to offer to this. Most women see one attack and decide I'm too much hassle..." He laughs a bit but there's sadness to it.
Hugh nods. "Yes." he means all of it. "And sex is also very messy. All of it." he shakes his head. Looking at Alex, he nods. "Women feel that way about my ... quirks." he blows on his tea and takes a cautious sip of it. "Like my father. My mother and sister Ruth understand me better." he nods, as if to himself. "How is your brother?" he asks. "I forget to be social sometimes."
Alex blushes about the sex comment. His older cousin talking about stuff like that was a bit weird to him. It was bad enough that his brother was so open. "Sam is fine. Healthy, working. He must have slept at Kitty's last night. I guess I should text him about this construction stuff so he's not surprised too. Let me go find my phone...." He takes one more sip of tea and trod off to the stairs. Alex wasn't a keep his phone on him at all times person. He didn't have that many contacts vying for his attention.
Hugh nods in understanding. "I remember you have allergies. Cats must be one of them." he barely turns his head, as Alex goes upstairs for his phone, not really understanding why he doesn't have it with him. To assure himself, he places his hand on the breast of his suit jacket, feeling the solidity of his own phone within.
Alex walks back in holding the phone "Cats, dogs, anything with fur..." He had heard Hugh as he walked away "You don't have a cat do you?" He looks almost like he might suggest a decontamination chamber if Hugh says yes. Then he quickly texts Sam with the following message "Aunt Connie is having a prefab house build next to us right now. Hugh is here. Mask day." Alex looks outside and sees building materials in full swing and pulls on his mask after another sip of tea.
Hugh cants his head. "Cats are messy." he announces. "My mother has considered getting a dog, but I told her if she did, I may not be able to visit her anymore. Messy." he pauses, as he has come to understand that there are NO normal people in his genetic line. "Why is Sam sleeping with a cat?"
Sam hears his phone vibrate and looks at the message, sighing heavily. He glances around a bit before he replies. "Connie told me she was thinking about it. She must have had Hugh work his magic. It's gonna be a bad summer. Connie construction plus the Olin PLUS the school at LEAST. I'll go and order you more masks overnighted right now." he sends the message and then does exactly that from a trusted online supply house.
Alex listens to Hugh and then has to laugh "Kitty is short for Katherine. It's a woman, his most of the time sort of girlfriend I guess. I don't ask for details." He sees a text come across the screen of his phone and acknowledges it with a glance. The phone he just left haphazardly on the counter like he doesn't care what happens to it. "Where are you living now Hugh?"
Hugh nods and doesn't ask for the details. "I've been in White Rock since the divorce and before." he tells him. "I need to move. My apartment is too big." he considers. "I'm just not sure where. I've always been near Mom."
Alex gestures around "How about here? I mean Alexandra...not in our house. We have many nice apartment buildings on the island. Would your work just let you move? It would be a pain to commute...maybe you can do the same thing here..."
Hugh stands still and considers it. "An island is very isolated." he proclaims. "My top clients have said they would come to me if I moved to new York. I, of course, told them I would never live in New York, but it turned out they meant they would come to me for their accounting needs no matter where I was." he pauses. "I could look for a small office space someplace. And a small apartment nearby." he motions towards the side of the house. "And Mom will be right there. I'll do that." he pauses. "You should know not to just go and visit my mother." he tells his cousin, who seems very shy. "She is like Ruth and Sam it sounds like. Very ... open."
Alex blinks a few times, turning a little pink "I uh...I always call first. But thank you. Noted. If you need a bicycle when you move here, I can help you with that. I build them, repair them...."
Now it is Hugh's turn to blink. "A bicycle." he is quiet a little while. "I have not had one in a long time, and it seems that here it makes good sense. Yes, please build me one and I will pay for it. Thank you, Alex." he sips his tea again. "You have grown into a good, clean, quiet man." he seems as pleased about that as Hugh gets. "What about food here?" he asks. "I don't have allergies, but I can be picky about food. Do you know, or would I have to experiment?"
Alex thinks about this "Thank you. I'm limited because of allergies but there are a LOT of restaurants so for people with no allergies, there's a lot to choose from. I know of them even if I don't eat at many. What do you like? Or, what do you want to avoid? My friend Rain has a restaurant and she's very good with accommodations for adjusting things on her menu."
Hugh looks at Alex. "I like breakfast foods. Not as much meat as some people eat, but I am not a vegetarian. I don't like my foods to touch." he considers. "I will try your friend Rain's restaurant. What does she serve?"
Alex brightens "There is a breakfast place called The Breakfast Nook. Rain's place serves more vegetarian and vegan foods, but really good. Greens, burgers made from walnuts.....smoothies.....good for you good food, all organic."
Hugh looks curious and then away. "That may be the place my Mom also likes. And your friends place I will try because I trust you." he considers things. "And you do know I can do your accounting. I usually do all the family, but your name has never come up before."
Alex has to laugh "I'll come see you at tax time, but it's not much to file. I don't make a lot of money. If I was well all the time and could work consistently it might be different. But I live simply, I grow most of my own vegetables and cook and I ride my bike. It's not an expensive way to exist."
Hugh straightens his glasses. "Maybe not, but I will be able to save you more money than you are already saving." he explains. "You would have a home office?" he looks around the small kitchen at the wall. Nodding at the door. "Through here?"
Alex gestures mid sip and then walks to his shop door and pushes it open. It's a mess of bikes hanging from the ceiling, half constructed bikes in all places, boxes of parts, tire tubes. There's an old wooden filing cabinet, an air purifier and a makeshift desk with a refurbished laptop as well as a simple work table. "Come on in....this is where it happens."
Hugh turns and walks to the door .. and freezes for a minute. Looking through the door he swallows and closes his eyes. "Monday's child is fair of face, Tuesday's child is full of grace." he whispers, as if to himself. Then he opens his eyes. "Wednesday's child is full of woe, Thursday's child has far to go, Friday's child is loving and giving." he takes in a deep breath and then releases it. "Saturday's child works hard for a living. But the child who is born on the Sabbath day
Is bonnie and blithe and good and gay." he blows out another breath and looks around the room, finally placing both feet inside. "Your home office." he announces.
Alex watches Hugh and then face palms "You hate mess....we can go back in the kitchen. sorry, it's just the nature of the work. I take stuff apart and put it back together....."
Hugh walks back into the kitchen. "Thank you. And it's alright. I don't get as upset with other people's messes as my own." he explains. "My father once disturbed all of my clothes and I ... sort of ... melted down. He did that a lot, but he was also gone a lot." he tells him. "All of my wives would lash out at me by rearranging my closet space or the cabinets. The last one was the worst. She burned my suits on my bed and told me it had never been so hot in there." he actually gives half a sigh. "I don't like melting down."
Alex looks truly remorseful. He, oddly, get it. His issues are more physical but control over his environment is for his survival. Hugh has the same challenges in another area. "That's truly unkind. I am sorry. If you....move here....that will be hard for you until you have all your things arranged the way you like them right?"
Hugh nods. "Yes. My father could not handle a child like me. But my mother and sister could ... that made things easier. And he was off fishing more often than not. He would come home at most two weekends a month, but those were stressful weekends." he admits. Then he nods, once. "I will move in and won't sleep until it is right." he explains. "When I am single, I prefer studio apartments. One bedroom if I have to. The smaller, the better for me. Easier to keep clean." Again he almost smiles. "My mother has adopted some of my minimalist ways. I didn't know it was a thing before she adopted it. But she is much neater now."
Alex sighs quietly, feeling bad for Hugh. He always felt like a huge burden on his own parents too because of all his illnesses and issues " Small is beautiful they say in the preservation of ecological sustainability. Minimalist. I do that about some things but I upcycle and recycle all the bike parts so I can't in the shop. If I see kick ass shifter in a dumpster, I grab them..." He laughs "And hope to god there's no paint thinner beside them. The used bike sales are great though when I can make them.
Hugh goes back to his tea and finishes it. "You are running a business, so that is a better course of action for you." he glances at the door. "I only need to rent a small office for my own use. Nothing shared."
Alex nods "Well I'll help if I can. If nothing else, tea when you need company, and a bike. I won't charge family though. A summer day camp just approached me to ask if I'd run a go cart workshop on one of their camp days for the kids. If it's outside I should be able to manage. And it's guaranteed once a month for July and August. It's out of the community center next door so it's handy. I can take supplies over in the morning and run it after lunch."
Hugh nods, once. "And I do not charge family for my services either." he glances in the direction of the community center. "That sounds like it could be good for you. Speaking of lunch ... or even breakfast. Have you eaten or would you like to?"
Alex considers this "I had granola at 6 so it could settle before my morning meditation practices. I could eat lunch though. Do you wish to try Sprouts and meet my friend Rain?"
Hugh considers and nods, slowly. "Yes. I would. Will we walk there or drive or does she deliver?" he wonders. "My car is in the parking lot across the street from here."
Alex looks in the direction of across the street and then shakes his head "It's really not far. And I like to walk on as many good days as I get. If you don't mind though, we'll cross over and avoid walking by the construction?"
Hugh nods. "It is a good day to walk." he agrees. In his head he prepares himself. Through his life he's developed many coping mechanisms without which he would probably still be in his room.
Alex puts the tea cups in the sink to wash later and is heading to the door to put on his sneakers and a hoodie. His phone is still lying on the counter like he has no plans to take it on his person or has simply forgotten it exists.
Hugh pauses at the door, watching. "Did you forget your phone, Alex, or were you not planning to take it?" for him, leaving your phone at home was nearly as bad as leaving your clothes at home and going out naked.
Alex looks back casually "Oh yeah, it might be handy I suppose. I don't always take it, but thanks for the reminder...." He does a quick dash back for it and then is out the door "Make sure to explain the food touching thing to Rain. She's REALLY open minded and understanding."
Hugh nods as he goes back to get his phone and then again as they walk down the street. It's been a very long time since he's been in Alexandra. Long enough he feels almost like he is seeing it for the first time. People moving in and out of the major coffee house and on the street. Mostly he focuses on where he is going.
Alex points ahead "It's in that red brick building right there." He's trying to offer some comfort in knowing what's coming, knowing Hugh needs structure. They cross over and are at Sprouts in no time. It's old home for Alex but he knows all the unfamiliar food and smells might trigger Hugh and he's prepared to try to be helpful. He pushes the door open and looks for Rain. He knows she does keep the place clean and that will help Hugh.
Hugh nods and has a place to focus on. As they approach the restaurant he looks inside and finds it sparkling clean. Good first impression. As they walk in he finds the place light and airy. Not confining.
Rain March hears the door open and comes out from behind the counter. Alex is standing there with a taller man in a business suit. Her bright smiles appears on her face. "Alex!" she moves to greet him, taking both of his hands if he lets her, then turning to the taller man and looking at him. Her hands lift, as they always do to 'feel' his aura. "Welcome to Sprouts."
Alex does let Rain take his hands and smiles and squeezes hers back. He had dropped his mask when he entered but it's still hanging around his neck "It's good to see you Rain. This is my cousin Hugh. We're coming to have some of your good clean food." He steps back as she raises her hands, expecting she'll figure Hugh out somewhat quickly. He does watch though, ready to redirect if needed.
Hug's eyes move to Rain as she begins to ... wave .. move her hands about. Both of his aunts did that a lot. Hippy stuff. He takes half a step back. "Hugh Reader. A pleasure." but he doesn't offer to shake hands. "Alex recommended your place."
Rain keeps the smile on her face, reading more from his reaction than anything. That being that he didn't really have a reaction. She lowers her hands and continues to beam at him as if he is bestowing a great favor on her. "A pleasure to know YOU, Hugh Reader." she beams. "Take a look at the menu and let me know what you want."
Hugh looks at her, blandly. "I don't like my food to touch. Is that a problem?"
Rain's smile doesn't change. "Nope. Whatever you want, I can help you with. But I DO recommend the sweet potato fries."
Alex smiles gratefully at Rain for how she's taking on Hugh at face value and adds in "They are good. I will have some with a falafel please, but no rush. Hugh you can take your time."
Hugh moves to the counter and appears to actually read EVERY WORD of the menu. Finally he turns to look at Rain. "I will have The Crunchy Salad. Large. Walnut vinaigrette dressing. Please." he takes out his wallet and his card and sets it on the counter, moving his hand away once he does.
Rain watches Hugh while standing beside Alex. "A falafel and a Crunchy salad with walnut vinaigrette. Give me seven to ten minutes." and she heads back in the kitchen, humming to herself.
Alex looks pleased and gestures at the menu "Good choice Hugh. I've had that salad. Thanks Rain." He calls out softly to her.
Hugh nods and backs away from the counter, even though there aren't any customers. "I recognized the most things in that one." he admits. Then he looks over at the smoothies. "I forgot to order something to drink." he admits, but doesn't seem upset. "Water."
Alex nods "People don't drink enough water. They poison themselves with
colas and sports drinks." He gestures at the tables "I'll let you pick
where to sit. I can put my hoodie down..."
Hugh nods. "The menu there offers other options, but ... I'm being brave enough I think." he looks around the place and picks a table in a corner away from all windows. He looks at the seat, then at his cousin. "Metal. Nice. Clean. Sanitary."
Alex smiles and nods "All of those things. You're doing great." Alex sets his hoodie on one of the chairs in case they get called up at any moment "Can I ask a strange question Hugh? Do you ever wear jeans?" He smiles a bit "Or sweats? How about pajamas around the house? I guess that's more than one question." He admits.
Hugh watches his cousin and, almost copying him, takes off his suit jacket and hangs it on the back of his chair. Even through the suit, its obvious his body is in top notch shape. "Yes. I do." he nods. "I have five suits, which include five shirts and five black ties. Two pair of jeans; one black and one blue. Seven pair of sweat pants and shirts. I sleep in the pants in the summer and both in the winter." he answers completely, and then some. "But most of the time, I am in a suit. Since I was coming here, I wore a suit, since I wasn't sure if this was business or personal. In a way I guess it is both."
Alex looks impressed with his mental inventory and nods along "Well alright then. You keep good track of it all, that's for sure." Alex isn't much of a clothes person. Many of his are cast offs from Sam and their father and threadbare at this point. But he does sew and patch any holes and never lets any of it go to waste if it can be reused or worn a little longer.
Hugh looks over Alex. "You recycle your clothes as well." again it is not really a question. "At some point you will have to buy new." he tells him. "But your environmental footprint would be lower than mine." he admits.
Alex nods slightly "I know. I do sometimes. Socks and underwear especially. There are places I can order from that are safe, not always cheap. Or Sam can pick things up and just wash them a few times to get any chemical detergents out of them."
Hugh nods. "Yes, that's very important. I have fourteen pair of each." he considers. "He still protects you. Like Ruth." now he nearly smiles. He remembers them as younger children and is glad Sam didn't stop.
Alex smiles "Sam's a good brother, and Ruth's a good sister. We got lucky. Sometimes I think being my brother is a bit hard on Sam though but he doesn't complain, ever." He chuckles a little and looks sadly towards the counter thinking of Rain and the brother she lost.
Hugh glances out of the window. "They are good siblings. Ruth used to cry. So did my mother. When things got bad or they were afraid. It's why I have tried so hard to be normal." he clears his throat a little bit.
Rain comes humming out of the restaurant with their orders. "You know I forgot to ask if you wanted these to go or if you were planning on eating here." she admits. "If you want, I can repackage them."
Alex looks at Hugh in understanding but then answers tentatively "We're eating here." That was the plan and sticking to it is better for Hugh "Thanks Rain. Do you want to sit for a bit if you have time?"
Hugh nods once, looking around. It's not crowded. "That's fine." he watches Rain, not complaining either way to her joining them.
Rain smiles. "I can. You caught me during the morning slow time." she sits nearer to Alex. "The kids won't be coming in for lunch for another hour or more." she says is casually, but there is a hint of warning if they don't want to be around a lot of people.
Alex looks happily at his falafel and then gratefully at Rain "Do you get a lot of students? That would say something good about the food choices of teenagers in this town." He glances at Hugh, including him in his commentary.
Hugh watches as steam rises from the fries and so turns to his salad. Doing the same hand motion that he did before taking his tea, he then reached for the dressing to pour it on and begins to eat. The first forkful, he tucks neatly into his mouth and chews with his mouth closed, nodding to himself, but not looking at either of them until he swallows. "Very good." he only glances at Rain hen he speaks.
Rain nods at Sam. "They love my fries, some of them." she replies happily. "There's a new place by the ferry landing that also ha them, but he deep fries his in some kind of animal fat." she shrugs. "But it gives people a choice because sweet potato fries just rock." she watches Hugh and her smiles widens. "Thank you. I'm so glad you like it."
Alex had taken and chewed a few bites of his falafel and nodded while she spoke. He sets it down now and replies after a smile at Hugh "I saw that when I was out on my bike. A little old man in a suit was cooking everything. that Italian man, Bittetto I think his name is."
Hugh eats while he listens to them talk. Inside he is grateful for the notice of a time when more people will be around. But he also makes a mental note of other options, as he does have a weakness for fried food. If he is going to move he may need to know that.
Rain nods. "Oh he is ... you know how a person can be awful and wonderful at the same time?" she giggles. "That's Giovanni Bittetto. Nothing at his place is vegan. he doesn't offer salad and I shudder to think how those suits are made. but he is so nice and sweet and full of life. He came to try my fries and even HE likes them, even though we both know we aren't in competition with each other."
Alex looks a little amused "Interesting. People can have many aspects to who they are. and as we know, often people aren't aware of what they consume or support, it's not in malice but just what we're all told unless we question it. Or maybe he tries to choose ethical animal options at least....a compromise of sorts. My Aunt Sunshine went through a phase of believing that if you wanted meat you had to go out and get it, and use the whole animal like the Aboriginal people, thank its spirit, not waste.....She had lived among the Haida when she was young...sort of like Emily Carr." He looks at Hugh "Did you spend time with Aunt Sunny when she was trapping rabbits and making slippers from the fur and hides?" He looks apologetically at Rain "Sorry.....not vegan friendly conversation I know."
Hugh has taken several bites at this point and when the conversation includes him again, he looks between the two he is with he dabs his lips with a napkin. "No. My mother and father didn't believe in that." he states. "She was the sister who got away from the hippy dippyness." he quotes his mother. Alex probably knows how his Aunt Connie felt about it.
Rain listens and watches Hugh, waving a hand at Alex. "It doesn't bother me. I'll eat meat if it's done properly. Basically Kosher works for me." she looks at Hugh, but not directly as she senses that wouldn't really work for him. "Your honesty is just so beautifully refreshing." she almost gushes at him. "Hide nothing. Pull no punches."
Alex can't help but chuckle and then grin between Rain and Hugh as he eats some more. He comes up for air after and admits "Well we were like the hippy Olympics in my house for awhile. Different after Mom left.....and then Dad went away, more stable with Sam now than it has been in a long time." He notes.
Hugh nods. "Sam is a very stable individual. it is good to have one in every family." he goes back to his salad, obviously enjoying it.
Rain smiles. "In mine, that would be ME." she proclaims. "Which should tell you how insane my family can be." she beams.
Alex chuckles again "And to us you seem very sane." He exchanges a look with Hugh and then gives Rain a warm smile. The shyness he had with Rain at first has relaxed into comfort.
Hugh nods and almost smiles. For him it is as close to an out and out laugh as he usually gets. He works to finish his salad and swallows, pausing a moment before he goes for his fries, biting into it and chewing. "Yes. This is also very good. Thank you."
Rain giggles a bit. "Sane .... not many people use that word when thinking of me." she grins. "Thank you so much, Hugh. That is high praise."
Alex watches Hugh and then starts on his own fries. He's finished the falafel now "Mhm." is all he can say back because they really are good. He looks gratefully at Rain and then gives her a quick wink. He doesn't usually wink. That's something he sees his brother do and his sudden moment of it makes him blush a little and chuckle at himself.
Hugh tends not to make eye contact while eating, so he misses the interaction between his cousin and Rain. But he does enjoy his meal. He eats methodically and then sits back.
Rain watches the men eat, happy. Moving out here had felt right and her feelings had not steered her wrong. She allows herself to take a small break, leaning back and sticking her shirt legs out in front of her.
Alex is just getting over his blush when he inadvertently stretches his legs at the same time Rain does her and bumps her "Sorry..." He offers and pulls his feet back under his chair, pink in his cheeks again. She looks happy and rested though and it's good to see. He glances over at Hugh.
Hugh watches his cousin. He didn't see, hear or feel anything, so he assumes the words were aimed at Rain. And he notices that Alex is blushing, so he assumes it has something to do with Rain.
Rain feels it and when Alex pulls back, she reaches up to touch his arm. "It's alright, really." she tells him. She enjoyed the touch. Being close. "So are you two just visiting?" this is a relative of Alex's she's never met before.
Alex licks his lips and purses them and then gives Rain a little shy nod before seeming to snap back to the present moment and comfort zone "Right...uh...well Hugh's mother, my aunt Connie is putting up a prefab house next to ours." He tugs at the mask still hanging around his neck "Hence the..." He knows he doesn't have to explain it to Rain of all people. He looks up at Hugh and gives a little smile "So Hugh knocked on my door this morning to tell me....and we got to visiting, which is good. and lunch, Also good."
Hugh nods and sips more water. "My mother is not always very good at conveying messages. She called me this morning to come by here." he confirms. "Since then, I have decided perhaps to move here myself. It seems a very nice place."
Rain offers Alex a little smile before listening. "Well this summer is supposed to be a real construction fest." she looks at Alex, almost pitying. "But I think it's survivable .. and once it is done .. it should be back to the usual." she stretches a little and sets her hands on the wrap on her head, where her hair has been growing for nearly a year. "Might even let the babies out." she jokes, patting the linen her hair is wrapped up in.
Alex holds up a hand at Hugh "At least I had some warning. Sam is ordering me more masks. It's set back so it hopefully won't all blow right into my workshop....but I may put some barriers down at the bottom of the doors tonight. And I'm glad you're moving here Hugh. Be nice to see you more than a few times a year." He nods at Rain "That's what Sam said, the school, the Olin....for whatever it's worth with THAT place. I don't envy them......." He breaks off and finds himself watching her stretch, perhaps more intently than he means to let show and then clears his throat "The babies? You mean your...hair.....?"
Hugh considers. "That would be wise. Take precautions." he cants his head. "Olin?" he asks curiously and then arches his brow at the mention of Rain's hair. His is professionally short and, of course, neat.
Rain nods. "Good. You need to be protected. Life on a construction site .." she shudders. "And that Olin .. needs more than a cleansing." she smiles and nods. "You know, I've been working so much and haven't shown you my hair since it was just little baby knots." she reaches up and undoes the wrap, pulling it off and pulling at ropes of hair in every conceivable thickness. They come down to her shoulders. "They're actually more like teenagers .. or really grown now." Beginning to take one or two and feel them from base to tip, she stops at one. "And some got married." she giggles showing him one that hat two distinct ends. "I let my hair do what it wants. And this is ... what it wants to be." she shrugs and looks at Alex.
Alex starts to answer Hugh "It's this sort of dive motel. It's had a lot of crime scenes...some people get...superstitious that it's cursed but I think with all the bad energy....I don't know.....an cleanse maybe but i think some have tried." He turns to Rain, hearing her and then sort of just staring as all the hair falls down around her face. Before he thinks too hard about it he smiles dreamily and just breathes out "You're beautiful...." Then he purses his lips like he didn't mean that to slip out "I mean....it looks great...suits you Rain." He reaches to pick at his fries but he's finished them so then he covers his awkwardness by just casually drumming on the table and saying "Hugh we should probably take off before the crowd eh?"
Hugh listens. "There is probably a logical explanation." he states. Looking at the dreadlocks he pulls back his head. "It is ... interesting." and it is .. somehow both a big mess and very neat. Then he looks around. "Perhaps."
Rain takes the compliment by blushing, although with her dark skin ... who can tell. She takes her wrap and begins to wrap it all back up, so used to it, she doesn't have to look. "Hugh, I have been looking at apartments. I might be able to help you. There two on the water." she tells him. "One is a very small studio over a clothing store that closes pretty early in the evening and opens pretty late. And even when it's open it's quiet there. The other is a one bedroom, but it is over the ice cream parlor. That's the one I think I will take. The views are both of the forest across the inlet. Very peaceful looking." she bites her lip. "I've found a home here ... so no more living in my trailer ...." she glances at Alex and then away.
Hugh listens and nods. "I would like to look at the smaller one." he announces. "Please give me information on who to call."
Rain smiles and reaches in her pocket for a pencil and a pad of paper to write it down. "I hope you like it. You'd be a wonderful neighbor." she looks at Alex. "And you'll have a new place to visit." she tells him. "I've been looking for a long time. The Ice Goddess is cold, which keeps the germs and molds and allergens down. And the view ... well it's a nice as from your workroom and ... you know ... its nice is all." and she stands. "You both have a fantastic day. Today. Please. Thank you for coming." she is a little nervous now.
Alex is thankful for Hugh and Rain's conversation and lets his head swivel between them as they talk, trying to shake off his forward moment. Rain often hugs Alex goodbye but he's feeling embarrassed from blurting out the compliment, even though he did mean it and he realizes he may have made her self conscious too. He stands and is suddenly super polite "Thank you Rain, for the food, conversation and help for apartment finding for Hugh." He doesn't try to initiate a hug but lightly touches her shoulder with his body posture open to one, but not obvious. "You have a wonderful day too.." He starts to step back and let his hand drop reaching to bring his dishes to the counter before leaving.
Hugh stands and moves to take his dishes to the counter as well, but is stopped.
Rain reaches out to stop Alex's hand. "I'll get them. Don't worry." she moves closer and embraces him, hugging him tightly and whispering to him. "Thank you." then she finally pulls back and repeats, adding. "Thank you for visiting me .. and bringing your light and your cousins light here." she knows Alex is very shy, but she feels a need to hug him.
Alex is disarmed by her hugs and hugs her back tightly, breathing into her shoulder as he closes his eyes for a second and looks completely blissful. He's facing Hugh but doesn't think about being watched "You're welcome and...thank you...we'll talk soon." He lets go after her and steps back towards the door "Good luck with the lunch rush."
Hugh waits patiently for the hug to be done. Going to the door, he opens it and holds it for Alex, partly to be polite and partly to make sure he is not next on the hugging list of the friendly woman. Affection is not one of his strong suits, as proven by his three divorces. "Thank you and have a nice day."
Rain relishes the hug and backs away after. Hugh is already halfway out the door, so she just smiles and waves, picking up the dishes for disposal.