Discussions at the Park

Kidd Spring Park

It's a beautiful evening. The stars are out, and the faux gas lamps are on and blazing. The moon is a sliver, and the light reflected off the celestial body, while scant, is still quite noticable in the clear sky. There are a few couples that are taking advantage of the evening, but in this section of town, it's not quite as 24/7 as the main, downtown area. New York City, this is not.
Spread out on a picnic table, near one of the electric gas lights, is Brett Coleman. He's got a thick green notebook opened to a page close to the end, and a pile of folders set off to the side. In front of him is a small pile of papers, and just to the side, a travel mug. In hand, a pen.. and currently, his attention is firmly on the papers before him.

A beautiful evening means a walk through the park is a necessity. Especially when work runs late, and she's not needed at the Deli. There's been enough time to run home and change, and now she's simply out enjoying the evening. A leisurely stroll, a rescued kitten for a little boy, and now she's stopping to get her bearings.
There is a turn, and she looks toward the direction she came — over by the recreation center, and then back in front of her. The truth is, her mind is so filled with thoughts that Summer doesn't exactly notice Brett at the table grading papers. She just walks right by, staring straight ahead.

The sounds of footsteps, motion at the corner of vision is always something that brings a person's attention around, and Brett is no different; particularly in that there is still the potential of wolf attack— and that's not to mention the obvious, almost blatant biting and creating those bastardized hybrids.
Twisting around at the sound, the light dances with the shadows, revealing a form and figure that is becoming increasingly familiar to him. Brett doesn't have any superhuman abilities of sight and smell, but he couldn't mistake that person for anyone else.

Thoughts flit about in her head, causing her to frown, or raise a brow. Almost as though she's having a one-on-one conversation with herself. At her name, she almost doesn't stop. Almost doesn't, but eventually peeks over her shoulder in a slow, casual manner. Turning back to the path, she brings her hands up to her face, quickly wiping at her eyes.
When she finally turns to face him fully, she's got a smile on her face. Walking toward the table, Summer pauses by its edge. "Brett. What a wonderful surprise."

He watches as she takes those extra steps, the conversation raging in her mind as echoed on her face. At first, Brett's not sure either if she even heard him, and her name is in his throat ready to be given voice when she turns around to look at him, and then to recognize him.
To see the smile brings a lopsided one to his face. Rising as she approaches, Brett moves the papers over, but doesn't close the one 'file' he's working on. Essays, from the look of it, and the grading book is open and only a quarter of the way filled with the current assignment. "You look great." He chuckles, "Come here often?" Because, well, his place is just around the corner… and if he'd known she frequented the park, he'd have made this a habit?

"Here? I… well once in a while. We sometimes have adoption days here." Summer doesn't sit, but she does tap her fingers along the top of the table. Not really snooping at his work, she just sort of peeks and then glances at him. "The clinic has a shelter, and a pound attached to it. We sometimes have adoption days at various locations in the city."
There is a hint of a blush as she realizes what he's said to her, and she shakes her head. "I look like a nutcase who's lost in her own thoughts. Though for the record, you actually do look good."

"Please, join me?"
Gesturing towards a spot that is beside his, Brett looks at her face. "Nah.. certainly not a nutcase. I've always maintained that I'm really the only person who ever listens to me. Even in the classroom, though," he points to the piles, "they're actually expected to."
Brett chuckles and looks down, "Thanks. Work clothes. Pretty much general purpose."
The response regarding her presence brings his brows up, "Adoption days? Must be a circus, and so far, I seem to have missed them. I'll keep an eye out and give you a hand on the next one, if you'd like?"

Summer nods, then gracefully takes a seat beside where he was sitting. "Just have a lot on my mind, I suppose. I'm honestly sorry I didn't spy you when I was wandering by. I…"
The change of subject seems to make her a little more animated. Work is a very safe thing to discuss at the moment. "They usually are. Especially here at the park. A lot of kids, a lot of squealing. Quite a few surprised parents who wind up coming to adopt one of the pups or kittens after discussing things with their spouses. I'd actually love to have an extra volunteer, though I really hope you know what you're getting yourself into."

Brett postures even as he takes a seat after she does, his grin relighting his face. "Me?" He pokes at himself in gesture, "I happen to know animals inside and out. Dogs more than cats… but you know, I'll do what I can, even if it's doggy duty… duty. Leash holding I can do. Make 'em sit and stay? Roll over? Fetch?"
Shaking his head, he shrugs somewhat dismissively, "Don't worry about not seeing me. Whatever it was you were discussing with yourself seemed rather important, and I had to make a real decision whether or not to disturb your.. monologue? Dialogue?"

There's a laugh, it's a small laugh, but there is a laugh. "I would never be that cruel to a volunteer. I generally have one of the pound workers worry about doggy duty duty." Saying it just the way he's said it, Summer shakes her head.
Fingers drop to her hand, fiddling with the mood ring slightly. "Internal dialogue, I think." She watches him silently for a moment, then exhales a long, slow sigh. "Things are just… to be honest, confusing. Heck, I don't even know what's going on at the moment."

The laugh. It's something Brett likes to hear. It's not that Summer doesn't laugh, but it's just that when she seems.. a little distant from the expression, he likes to see the light in her eyes and the sound of her voice as it comes forth. A need to know that she's okay, and that the laugh simply tells him that it will be, even if it's not currently.
"Confusing." Brett watches the motion to the mood ring and raises his brows. "I.. ah.." Okay, here's the awkward moment, "I can guess that song in one note?"

"That song?" Summer blinks at him, but nods. "Likely. I honestly don't know though. I mean, with the way Mischa was acting toward you for just being in the shop, and then dinner…" Conflicting information — go explore, and 'are we breaking up'. Neither was really addressed, nothing was really answered.
Elbows rest on the table, her head slumping into her hands. "Whatever it is that's going on, I just wanted you to know that it's not your fault or anything." She waits a brief moment, as though thinking what to add. "I think we broke up."

That would be the one note, and the song. Mischa.
Pressing his lips together, Brett ducks his head and tilts it sideways in an attempt to see her face after the slump. "I.. well, he did sort of act oddly." Brett still isn't all that sure what it was, exactly, that just.. sent the man off. He'd been nothing but polite and certainly not fawning or speaking in any code or.. and he and Summer had done nothing that would remotely begin to— well, okay. They did dance all night…
"Dinner." Of course they'd go out to dinner. "What happened there?"
Brett exhales softly but audibly, and nods, "Ah." Beat. "Think." Pause. "Think?"

"This happened at dinner," Summer says, leaning on her right hand and using her left to point at the mood ring. "An apology, and this." She'd laugh about it really, if she weren't so confused by it. "Oh, and I suppose an argument. I was upset by his behavior."
Honesty is a good thing to not be afraid of, and she doesn't mind speaking frankly with Brett after having had that discussion over dancing and then later coffee.
"There was never anything definitively said, and since the evening ended rather oddly, and there's been no communication since, I'm generally thinking so, yeah."

"A mood ring." And he'd thought that it was from some grateful child. Brett shakes his head, though now he's curious, "And, you're wearing it… why? Because it's more portable than a Magic 8-ball?"
Brett exhales, and the sound from it comes more from his throat, "I could see why you'd be upset." He has to clarify, though, "For the behavior at the book shop, right?" He's trying to keep everything straight. "Not dinner behavior?" Unless there is more to it all.
Honesty is a good thing, and it's something Brett believes in. He rarely expects people to react poorly to something positive, however. But, in the past, he's been surprised. "Nothing definitive, but.. you think so." Tilting his head so he can see her again, Brett's brows rise in askance, "I'm assuming that's what you sort of wanted, or are you considering trying to patch things up?" Pointing to the mood ring, he finishes, "Because of.. hurting his feelings or.. he apologized enough?"

He poses a very good question, and Summer looks down at the ring. "Mostly because it's staying black, and since I know these things work on body temperature, I figured it would at least have been a shiny purple by now." She laughs though, and lifts her head from her hand. "Definitely more portable."
Clarifying at his request, she nods. "At the behavior at the book shop, and a few other reasons." Ones she's not quite ready to share just yet.
"I really don't know what I want. I've never really… had time to focus on a relationship before now. School, work, Toby… that was my life. That's always been my life." Looking away from him, she worries her teeth over her lip, trying to find the words. "How high school would it be of me to say that I enjoy spending time with you, but I don't want it to be all reboundy?"

Brett reaches out to take Summer's hand briefly, just to feel whether it's warm or cold. "I don't think you have cold hands, which would keep it black?"
Nodding, Brett searches her face, and presses his lips to a fine line as she looks away from him. "Not at all high school. They don't even begin to question the whole 'rebound' thing. And high school girls are a whole lot cattier and mean. I haven't been gone from that whole scene for ten years yet, but there is no way anyone could pay me enough to repeat the experience. It wasn't horrible, mind," His voice is low, tones soft and slow.. his Texas drawl more obvious, "but I wouldn't go back today." He smiles, the gesture lopsided, which brings a gleam to his eyes, "I enjoy spending time with you, too, and I'm not on the rebound. I mean, I could identify reasons why, too. Give you a whole list with examples if you asked me to. But," and here, he hesitates before he presses on, "as much as I enjoy your company, you're not gonna be happy with yourself until you work out if you're rebounding or not. But, at least I know I'm not a result of a drinking binge."

When her hand is taken, she just snaps her head back to stare at him. A wide grin develops on her face. "We don't have cold hands, Mister Coleman. It's not in our nature." Which means that the ring is broken, or something else entirely.
"What I meant though, was that I don't want to rebound onto you." Summer gives his hand a small squeeze and then turns to look at the table. "I would like to think that we're friends, and while I have a lot to work out, I would like to keep being friends." She clears her throat once, and looks ahead, bringing her hand back to herself. "Maybe after a while, if you've not found other interests, see where things go from there."
She not only has to work out whether she's on the rebound, but whether she's still in a relationship.

"Just making sure." Brett easily pulls that excuse up and lays it on the table, as it were. "I was going to check to see if you had a wet nose, next."
Still, it didn't pass his notice that she's taking a step back, reverting to the more comfortable, the more formal 'Mister Coleman', and it doesn't seem to be an affectation. She's looking for her space, if Brett reads that right. Sure enough, his suspicion is correct, and the 'f' bomb is dropped.
Taking a deep breath, Brett lets it out slowly. "Can I ask you to do one thing for me?" He doesn't yet make comment on the 'friendship' thing. "Make yourself a list. See if you can't find logical reasons for.. whatever you might be thinking or feeling. As I said, I can give you plent of reasons why. You are obviously intelligent, loyal, dedicated. You keep your promises, and are honest, even when it matters most and the easier path is to be.. not so much." He presses his lips together and now, it's his turn to look down, "I did ask your father his opinion on the idea of courting you. And I'd like to be given that opportunity.. one day. I still want to go out into the flatlands with you, want to see if you hung up your fuzzy dice."

Oh, the dreaded f-bomb. On the plus side, she's not relegating him to the friends category forever. Summer just really needs time to work through her own confusion and emotions before jumping right back into something.
She's about to address that when she just wide-eyed stares at him. "You WHAT!?! Oh, geeze. You spoke to Toby about that, and you're still alive?" Grabbing is wrist as though she's about to check for a pulse, she just continues to stare at him in disbelief. "The dice are in my truck now, actually." She put them up the moment the vet tech's weren't staring. "A list… that's actually a brilliant idea. A list is much easier than wandering around aimlessly talking to myself in my head."

"Witnesses. I had witnesses."
Brett laughs as his hand is gained and his pulse is checked. "Not for the actual question, but.. he was surprised. And it was when we were going on the hunt. I was just.. one of the boys." He'd gotten the chance to meet a few people, even if only in passing. While not a member of the pack, shifters are shifters, and there's an unspoken duty to the 'line'. "I'm still alive. Not a vampire. Not a zombie." Brett would even show her that all was working quite well if not for the fact that coyotes do not have opposible thumbs, and so gathering up the papers later would be somewhat problematic. Unless she did it, and .. he couldn't really ask her.
Grinning like a madman, Brett is obviously pleased the dice are in the truck, safe and sound. "They wanted to take me in. I managed to dodge and .. high-tailed it out. Next time, maybe I'll think to put on a collar first?"
It's noticed that she has no response to what it is he's listing for her, but Brett finds comfort that the idea seems to be one that she accepts. "You'll be able to put your thoughts down, so it doesn't seem like such a far-fetched, reboundy thing."

There was a lot more focus on the fact that he's still alive after talking to Toby.
"Witnesses likely saved your life," Summer teases. "It's not that Toby's a big bully or anything, but I'm the miracle child, and he likes to make sure no one hurts me." Which is why she's not even told him about what's going on with Mischa, though with Brett asking that, it's probably certain that he's aware something is going on.
"Or tie a ribbon around your neck with a card on it. Much more believable than a stray with some fuzzy dice." A gentle laugh and she shakes her head. "It's the pound we have attached to the clinic. Like I said, we get a lot of abandoned animals."
Now she can finally address the rest of what he's said previously. "Now how on earth do you know all that about me? I'm not that much of an open book, I hope."

"As they say, 'Momma didn't raise no fool'," Brett laughs easily and quietly, "And my father always said never put anything in writing. But, for you, I could make an exception if ever necessary." Now, he brings his hands up, and begins to tick off on each as each point is addressed.
"Intelligent. Becoming a vet is harder than med school. Your patients can't tell you where it hurts." Next finger. "Loyal. Working full time and you still go back to help your father at the shop. Even if hours collide, you manage to get there, and no payment of salary. Oh.. and you're still wearing that mood ring." He doesn't mean to bring it up for any other reason than to illustrate the fact that until her decisions are made, she'll be wearing 'the ring'. "Dedicated. You yourself talk about the extra hours put in on each place.. the clinic, the book shop, and then there's the volunteering in the park on adoption day." His brows rise in amused askance, "Shall I continue?"

Summer could honestly sit here and listen to him sing her praises all night, but she shakes her head quickly. "You learn a lot from just a few things. That's stuff that takes most people months, if not years to pick up on." Which means he's an extremely attentive person. Something that she's been lacking lately.
A point to Brett for that.
"Listen, Brett… are you serious? I mean, you must be serious if you discussed it with Toby. I just…" Sighing, she offers him a slightly sad look. "It's selfish of me, but if you're serious, just give me the time I need to get through this mess and we can see where things go. No pressure." It's almost a plead.

As he said, Brett could give detailed reasons as to why..
Brett listens as her emotions seem to battle inside, finally ending in a slightly.. hang-dog sadness? But, there's that glimmer as 'Mister Coleman' is replaced once more with 'Brett'. That, in itself, tells him that there isn't an active distancing, and that there is certainly that possibility. "As long as you know I'll be here, yes ma'am. I can give you all the time in the world." As long as he's not relegated to friend, but rather, she's made aware that he's interested in being a suitor and courting her properly. "No pressure. But.. you still have to harass prairie dogs with me and my brother.. and should he work it out, a ladyfriend of his." And he'd almost forgotten, "Oh.. and take a ride out to Fort Worth with me again to see the Water Gardens. I offered and you accepted."

"The Water Gardens! I… with everything else, I'd forgotten." Summer blushes at that, her small bit of rudeness. They were meant to do that the past weekend, but things just didn't work out for that. "This weekend then, if you'd like. I may have to rearrange a surgery or two but that shouldn't be a problem." With a new Veterinarian having started not long ago, she's sure he'd kill for the hours.
"Your brother too then? He's… got the same natural tendencies?" As does the lady friend, obviously. "That should be fun, but perhaps before the next full moon would be best."

It's not that Brett wants to throw up the fact that he was 'stood up', even though he really wasn't. It's simply a reiteration of his desire to take her to see it. And if it means 'later', then 'later' it will be. "When you're available, Summer. Really. This weekend, I'm free." He won't hold her to it, however. Not with her schedule, and the mixture of emotions that lie beneath the surface there.
He nods, "It's his turn to drive, though. so I'll get to take shotgun." And by the way he's been talking, the chances are good that Brett will have changed for the trip. Of course, it also sounds like the boys do it on a somewhat regular basis. "We'll try for before the next full moon." Brett has the graciousness to pinken slightly at the memory of the last moon's shift. Out all night!
Brett exhales softly and looks around the picnic table and starts to gather his files together. "Let me get these together and I'll walk you home when you're ready to go, so I won't have to later."

"I'll check the schedule tomorrow, and get back to you." It's the very least she can do, and she's not going to push for it to be this weekend, but if her schedule meshes with what she wants to do, then she'll do it.
"Sounds like it could be fun, though maybe I'll just ride normally." The shifted ride can come later. When she's feeling more herself again, and not worrying about life, the universe, and everything. "We didn't do anything," she points out. "Unless you count armadillo soccer as something to blush about."
Sliding up to her feet, she nods at him. "Walking me out to Toby's ranch might be a bit far, but if you don't mind walking me to my car, I'd like that."

Brett finishes getting the piles sorted, and closes his grading book. Fishing for his leather attache case, he starts putting everything inside, one at a time so he knows what is what. "Great. Then give me a call, okay?" He certainly doesn't expect that he'll see her in person again until the weekend. "I'll be sure the truck is gassed up and ready."
Laughing at the mention of armadillo soccer, Brett gains his feet, "And you were hogging the ball," he teases. "Then it ran away. That's the worst part of it all."
For as pleasant as the evening is turning out, he has work in the morning, and he doesn't want Summer out and about alone at night. Not until he knows for sure that it's comparitively safer. Offering up his arm for it to be taken, Brett nods once. "Then out to your car, it is. Your chariot awaits, ma'am."

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