2237-11-08 - Just South Of Overly Cross

Irene and Ines have a walk and talk after arriving at the Harris country manor on Virgon, and see some of the sights. Then they're sent on a Quaint Country Errand.

Date: 2237-11-08

Location: Virgon, the Harris Estate

Related Scenes: None

Plot: None

Scene Number: 1551

Jump to End

Day One. The trip from the capital is short by train, less than an hour, but the difference between the modern buildings of the city to this region is stark. The land rises up into gently undulating hills of green pastures practically from one horizon to the other. Rows of trees mark the edges of fields, criss crossing and clumping at corners to turn into woods. In the valleys, little villages hugging gentle rivers, all stone and thatch. It's like a whole other world.

The Harris house isn't far from one of those picturesque hamlets, over a stone bridge and set well back from the road. Like every other structure it's stone too, only two stories but with a columned facade, six bedrooms and gardens front and back. It's not a castle, nor is it a quaint little cottage. She refers to it as a 'country house'. There's also a greenhouse, barn and stable, where the sparkle ponies must reside.

After meets and greets with her parents, they have free time and loose ends. So what to do? Faye's still unpacking upstairs, and Irene's already changed into her country wear, mainly a wool coat, jeans and rubber boots. She's ready in the foyer, beaming. "Kes! You all unpacked?"

-

Ines had spent the entire train ride basically bolted to a window seat, watching the landscape roll by and change. She's only ever seen Virgon through the window of a screen and the filter of some director's artistic vision (and romantic notions of history), so it's almost impossible to prise her away for anything short of a brief trip to the dining car for a snack.

Apparently her initial concession to buying civilian clothes for the anniversary party was just the start of a slow slide back toward having a wardrobe, or at least the acknowledgement that she's going to be going places and doing things on occasion that a uniform would make awkward. Scorpia is not the best place to buy clothes for a Virgon vacation, however brief, but she managed to turn up a pair of jeans and a couple of sale-rack sweaters, tunic length and v-neck. They're too big for her; it seems impossible for her to keep both shoulders inside of them at the same time. She doesn't care at all.

She's trundling down the stairs when she's intercepted, and actually bounces down the last few in an excess of good mood. "Aaaah, my room is so cute! I can see the greenhouse from the window. Please tell me you use the greenhouse. Can we go look in? Did you know I took some classes in botany at university?"

This might explain the increasingly anemic-looking orchid she's not supposed to have in her bunk.

-

"Really? My parents are going to talk your ear right off, he's a biologist and she's a botanist by training. They met when he was in university, they were doing a study of wheat rust on Aerilon together." Irene glees, clapping her hands together like this is the most awesome thing ever. There's a glance up the stairs, probably wondering what's become of Faye, but she doesn't seem overly concerned. Concern comes when she looks at Ines' feet. "We can go out and look? Do you need boots?" Like hers, she means, since she lifts a foot and gives it a wiggleshake.

-

"Wheat rust?" Her accent makes the words strange, but she looks as though they're the two most fascinating words she's ever heard. Really: once the bonfires of her enthusiasm have been kindled, it is outrageously easy to excite her about almost anything. "Like a blight? I don't know that much about agriculture. It's very cliche to like flowers best, but..." She shrugs, smiles, rueful but not apologetic, really. "I was very cliche."
She too looks up the stairs as though she expects to see Bingo appear, then blinks down at her sneakered feet. "Oh. Do I?" Brow up, she looks to Irene for the answer to that question. "Then yes."

-

"I think so. It destroys the crops there periodically, but you'd have to ask mum or dad. I was a poli-sci major." Irene laughs before turning to look through the closet and the neat row of footwear within. She finds some bright yellow ones and sets them out after eyeing them and Ines' feet again carefully. They look like they'll probably fit. "You can wear Lucy's for now. She's away at school. It's just the grass is usually wet and soggy feet are no fun."

-

Ines toe-heels herself out of her sneakers and spends a moment getting herself into the boots, tilting her head over to the side to angle an eye up at her hostess. "Lucy? This is...a sister?" When she straightens again she's already turning toward the main door -- possibly not even the right one, but she she can't be faulted for eagerness, anyway. "I'm always a little wary of asking soldiers about their families. You know?"

-

"Yeah, it can be difficult territory," Irene readily agrees, "I don't ask a lot either, just whatever people volunteer." When the boots are on, she points into the house, down the main hall. That's the way out, to the greenhouse anyway. She smiles and glides that way on bouncy heels, stopping only at a family portrait on the wall. There's a few actually, but most are of, well, ancestors. The old fashions usually being the biggest giveaway, that and they're paintings mostly. The one that's an actual photo is Irene and immediate family. She points and names them in turn, "There's father, William, mother, Mariel, that's Jamie my older brother, me and Lucy, my younger sister."

-

"Mariel." Ines repeats the name sheerly for the pleasure of it: it plays well with a Leonese tongue. She glances between the photo and the young woman beside her several times, obviously comparing her siblings' faces with her own. "You didn't grow up here though, did you? Or-" Her brows beetle together, thumbs slid into her back pockets as they continue down the hall. "You were...on Aerilon for a time? I can't remember."

Some people might be gobsmacked by the estate, the fusty collection of portraiture and all of the combined gravitas of evidently having a lineage. It interests Ines, much like everything else, but it doesn't seem to give her any pause, which is as good a confirmation as any that her family had pretensions to grandeur of its own.

-

They're all so blonde in that photo. In it Irene looks about fourteen, her brother a year or two older, her sister maybe about nine or ten. "I don't think we moved here until I was.. six?" Irene mulls the number over, but sticks with it in the end. Six. "We had a cute little farm on Aerilon. I miss it sometimes." She gives her brother's face a boop, leaving a fingerprint on the glass and stuffs her hands deep into her coat pockets, wandering on. "Did you grow up on Leonis? You aren't secretly from Gemenon?"

She reaches the back door about then, and pulls it open with a completely casual sort of carelessness. It's left wide open behind her in the same manner so she can lift her hands up over her head and take in a deep breath of that fine country air. Ah. No more recycled ship air full of smelly feet and Marine farts.

-

"I think Aerilon must also be very nice. Very green." Ines stops just beyond the door to take it all in, and it's probable her thoughts don't stray too far from the luxury of fresh air, either. There's a looseness in her shoulders that not even Scorpia could put there; certainly not Caprica, when she'd still been so new. Two skips catch her up, and she spends some of their walk toward the greenhouse kicking dead or dying leaves. "Just Leonis. I grew up in Montseny. It was a strange mix. When you say it, people think of the city. Very industrial. Biomedical technology mostly, but all sorts. But it was near the coast, also, and surrounded by mountains. Lots of little old villages on the side of very steep hills looking over the water. Quite pretty. We lived just inland, but close to this kind of place. I spent as much time in the city as I could. I thought the country was so boring." The last remark is sheened with something like regret; obviously, she looks back on that sentiment from a different perspective. "I wanted to travel, all the time! Everywhere else seemed more interesting."

-

They're only across the yard when there's a mother calling from the back door, "Irene? Irene!"

Irene stops and looks back, dutifully enough, putting hand to ear.

Her mother raises her voice a notch, but it carries just fine across the lawn, "Would you do me the kindness of reminding your father that he still has to go to Duggan's farm? Preferably before dinner?" Thumbs up?

Irene thumbs up and yells back. "I'll tell him!" As the door shuts again, the raptor pilot rolls her eyes a bit and tries to pick up the conversation again as if they hadn't been interupted at all, "I think that's almost universal. Unless you're Tomak, because apparently Tauran is better than all other colonies put together." She's teasing. "Montseny. You make it sound really nice. I love the water, like last time on Scorpia I spent almost all my time on the beach, being a bum."

-

The dig at Tomak gets a short, dry laugh, predictably. "Honestly! I suppose that's what happens when..." Pause. Thoughtful silence, eyes directed down at the yellow toes of her boots. "When people try to take it away from you. Home." Another pause, and then a short nod, almost to herself. "We all feel this way a bit now, I think." She takes two more steps before lifting her gaze again to give her companion a wide, closed-lipped smile. "I love the water also, but it was very cold at Montseny. Meltwater from the mountains. No surfing. Boats, though -- I love boats. My best friend's parents had one. We used to go sit on it in the marina, not even taking it out, really. Cook things on a grill and sit around on the back of it, throwing things to gulls."

She pivots around (awkwardly, given the grip of the boots on the ground) to look back at the call that comes across the lawn. "Duggans? Do people around here actually farm?" She seems surprised. "Where I was from in the country it was all -- ah. Like this. No real farming. Maybe someone had a cow for -- like, fashion."

-

"No way! I wish I had known you liked boating. We could have borrowed my grandfather's and sailed the coast." Irene gasps, honestly disappointed, if only briefly. Home isn't exactly a bad consolation prize. "All the royals vacation there, and celebrities, and like anyone who's anyone on Virgon." Okay, she's going to have to sigh over the fun that could have been. "And sure, there's plenty of farms still. It's not all rich people playing. Look," She points off at a distant hill, and sure enough there's a bunch of white fuzz blobs dotting the pasture stretching from foot to crest, "Sheep."

-

At the rate Irene is introducing things for Ines to be enthusiastic about, she's going to wind up completely overstimulated. "Maybe it's for the best. Two days is not enough for that. Maybe, you know, on leave. Like a proper leave. Besides, now Bingo gets to see where you live! And..." Tentative now. Curious, too. "Meet your parents?" Are they openly a thing? This seems like the kind of thing she should know before everyone gathers for dinner, or something.

Only the promise of adorable creatures could tear her gaze away again. One assumes the high-pitched Leonese behind the press of her fingers is enchanted by the existence of Actual Sheep -- probably because they're far enough away from the sheep that the aromatic realities of Actual Sheep aren't a part of the view.

-

Irene is maybe glad Ines is distracted by sheep, because her ears get a little red and it's not because it's particularly cold out, or windy. "I hope this is all not too much. I know what's normal for me, is well, not for most people." She says almost under her breath. "Like, Astraea, except Faye would for sure say everything was nice, maybe even if she wasn't feeling it." She stuffs her coat pockets with her hands again and smiles more out of determination than anything for a moment. It'll be fine, she seems to tell herself as she squares her shoulders and begins to turn for the greenhouse which isn't far distant now, just beyond a waist high stone wall with gate, and a veg and herb garden. That looks like a labour of love.

-

Something about the tone of Irene's voice gets her attention. One brow up, eyes thoughtful, they slide back that way, marking red ears and squared shoulders and the rest of it. This time the rue in her quirk-lipped expression is sympathetic and maybe a little bit self-deprecating. "Oh, Iris." She sighs that, returning her attention to her own toes. "If you had any idea what I was like before the war, you wouldn't worry so much. I was a very ridiculous person."

It's the ground changing that draws her eyes up again, the sound of their footsteps bouncing off of the wall ahead. Her brows slowly knit into something sentimental. "How can you stand to be away from this? It's like fairy stories. You know? Cottages and witches in the woods?" Her head turns, gaze sweeping from the picturesque garden and greenhouse to the equally picturesque rolling hills. "Here, you could maybe almost forget there's a war at all."

-

"I do miss it." Irene admits as she reaches over the gate to find the latch and flip it open. "And you know, I can't imagine you being very ridiculous. Unless there was a boy and a battle of wills involved. Then.. okay." She presses her smile to keep it from getting too wide, then turns away to open the gate and follow the flagstone path to the greenhouse. "I could see you getting a little ridiculous under those circumstances."

-

Pffffff, is the sound Ines makes, shooting the blonde a sharp look that can't quite manage to be serious enough to have any weight. "He started it." Sort of. You know, whatever. "But I was. We had a big house. Nice things. I..." She puffs her cheeks out, as though this confession taxes her in some way. "...dated Emilio Rossi's son, for a summer." A well-known Leonese fashion designer, for those with a taste for haute couture. "I mean, I actually cared about that kind of thing. Trends and celebrities and fashion, and my closet was-" She widens her arms, signaling hugeness. "To the exclusion of many other things! And then those other things all went away. I feel stupid about it. I was not a...a very deep person." She pauses, amused, and follows Irene through the gate, stepping across the gasp in the flagstone path for no other reason than because she feels like it. "Not that I'm especially deep now, but that should tell you something. Hm?"

-

"It's... easy to get sucked into all that." Irene admits as she stops, takes a few steps down one of the garden rows and snaps two peas from their vines. As she returns to the path she's already chewing on one, pod and all. The other she offers to Ines. "I wasn't much better before I enrolled at the Academy, but at least I had my family to ground me some. You have no idea how badly I wanted to ditch my good girl Daisy Bean image. It's embarrassing now. I feel your pain, Kes." Right in the heart, because she that's where she rests her fist. She offers a sympathy frown-face.

-

Ines takes the pea pod and lifts it up, having an excessively good look at it. Virgon-grown peas! Grown by Harrises! It's a thing to remember. She briefly laments having forgotten her camera, because she'd like a picture of it. Weighing that, after a moment and when she doesn't think Iris is looking, she puts it into her pocket. She'll get a picture later. "And now you're doing very badass things that Daisy Frakking Bean would never do. Blowing up toasters and pulling through even when your bus is on fire."

Which remark, after a moment, provokes a careful glance sidelong. "Are you alright? You've had a couple of rough flights."

-

"I think so. I, yeah. It was just a run of bad luck. I suppose I was due." Irene shrugs like it's no big deal that she's had to ditch, or almost ditch on the last two major outings. "Maybe they're cheesed I've destroyed so many and have a shoot on sight order for me." There's a bit of a smile, "As long as it never goes as badly as that bombing run on Canceron, I'll be fine... and thanks, Kes. You know, for being a good wingmate. There's a couple of you viper jocks I have full confidence in, and you're definitely one of them." She points her pea at the other pilot to punctuate and then pops it into her mouth, smiling.

-

Here's the truth about Ines: as much as life as a soldier has changed her (and in many ways for the better, if her previous words are to be believed), underneath the Serious Business Of War she's still got a few fragments of who she was buried in amongst the rest. One of those pieces is unreservedly affectionate.

In other words, Ines is a hugger. She takes that last sentiment with slightly widening eyes and a poor attempt to cover for how much it means, for a whole basket of reasons. It doesn't help her restrain the impulse to lurch in Irene's direction and briefly try to squeeze the stuffing out of her -- a really clumsy hug, deliberately so for the sake of humor, but every inch genuine.

"It's easy to be a good wingmate with the Wolves. All of the other pilots are good."

Then her eyes round, and so does her mouth, beside a little gasp as they near the greenhouse. "Do you grow carrots? Horses like carrots, right? I want to bribe one of them into liking me. I want to be best friends with one of your horses by the time we leave."

-

Now, your average Virgon isn't a hugger, or much of an emotion shower, but Irene is half Aerilonian so rather than go stiff and look shocked and appalled at such an offensive invasion of her personal space, she just squishes Ines back. There's some laughing involved. "They're all good, they are. I just like you more."

Carrots though, when she's asked about those she does a full circle in place, trying to find them. "We did. They must have changed the order this year, they're usually right here." But where she points there are no carrots, but something leafy and viney, like a pumpkin or squash. "I'll ask dad." She promises, not wanting to ruin Ines plan for lack of carrots. That would be tragedy. Everyone needs a horse friend. The door then, she swings it open, calling ahead as she does, "Dad! Are you hiding in here?"

-

It's probably not the most politic thing to look decidedly smug on being told that one is a favorite, but Ines does. The sheep don't seem likely to tell anyone, anyway. She's still smiling a cheshire smile as they reach the greenhouse itself, and there's a little ache that chases after her pleased look as she reaches out to touch the first pane on her way in. It inspires a new thought as she slides through the open door. "How old is this place? I mean -- everything. The house, all of it." And another thought: "Does it have a name? Like." Thinking backward to the last historical drama she watched, and the cute names that some of the places in them had: "Like Ponies-At-Greenleaf or, ah..." Her brows knit. "Something-upon-Something-Else?"

-

There's no immediate response from Irene's father, if he's even in there, but there's fans going inside on the very far wall, way back at the end somewhere, behind all the greenery. And there's a lot. It's like a jungle in there, with a narrow avenue down the middle, so he could be hiding in there, with the triffids.

Irene considers the questions, shrugging a bit, "Well, I suppose it's Harris house now. It's been in the family for so long. Centuries probably. I think at one time it might have been called Fallbrook, for the stream but we just call the little village that now. The big village at the south end of the valley is Overly Cross, which always made me laugh. That's where the train stop is."

-

"Fallbrook." She's completely enchanted. She tucks her chilly, interlaced hands up beneath her chin as they make their way thorugh the balmier interior -- but that's really more to keep herself from touching everything than because it makes her look wistful. "Oh. I really hope Overly Cross has got a t-shirt with the name on it. It has to, right? Tourists probably love that, it's very twee. I really want a t-shirt that says 'Overly Cross.' And maybe a mug. ...Iris. Do you know how much work this is?" Meaning, of course, the thickets of greenery in obviously excellent health. "Do you garden? This is a full-time job. This greenhouse." A few more steps along, she laughs. "I don't think I've seen this much green in -- since I left Leonis. Caprica wasn't exactly lush, was it? And Sagittaron..." She just crinkles her nose, and murmurs, "I think I've still got dust in places."

-

For a guy who's over six feet tall, Irene's father is like a ninja or something. Suddenly he's right there, on the garden path to the greenhouse behind the pair, looking more like a gardener than some sort of Virgan lord in a blue chore coat, jeans and rubber boots. He clears his throat to announce himself, and shifts the heavy bag of soil he's got draped over his shoulder, "Hello. Pardon me." He's just going to squeeze by with a polite smile at Ines as he does, "Were you just showing your friend around, Turnip or?"

Irene jumps back out of the doorway, just a bit startled, and holds the door for him. She gives him a playful grump scowl for the scare, but he seems utterly oblivious to it, almost comically so. Recovered, she says, "Ines was admiring your greens and hard work. She's a botanist too, you know. Also, mum said to remind you to go to Duggan's farm before dinner or she'll beat you black and blue and bury you behind the barn."

As he tucks the top of his head in under the doorframe and enters the greenhouse, he gives his daughter a patient dad look. "Is that so? You're welcome to look around. And, well, you go tell your mother I have too much repotting to do, and she'll have to send you to pick up the goose or cider or whatever it was."

-

Ines also startles, with an actual hop. Soldiers: they can be a little bit nervy! War has a way of doing that to people. She pivots around to get out of the way, folding her hands behind her back and smiling up at the Man of the Manor in answer to the smile she gets.

When he turns away, she mouths the word 'Turnip' at Irene from behind him, brow quirked, awfully amused. And then her eyes get wide, and she starts to wave her hands discouragingly after the words 'she's a botanist too.' She doesn't quite manage to stop doing that before she's glanced at again, so the wide-eyed look remains, though the smile takes on a pained quality.

Thankfully, there's a lot of Quaint Country Errand talk to distract from her demurrals. Geese. Cider! It's so pastoral she could die. "Is it very far?" Rather than looking as though she dreads the thought, it's a springboard for her excitement, aimed in a not-very-subtle direction. "Like maybe too far to walk? On your feet." As opposed to a horse's feet, obviously.

-

Irene gives a long suffering look to Ines about the turnip thing. Dads, right? So embarrassing. "But, we're guests, dad. You can't make us run errands!" She says to his back as he carefully moves deeper into the greenhouse.

"You're not a guest, Irene. You've also got perfectly functional legs and a keen sense of direction." He corrects her, firmly but a bit absently as he manuevers around some of the more fragile plants so he doesn't knock them about on the way by. Of course, she knows he's not going to relent, and with Ines questioning her she has a dramatic sigh to try and guilt him, as is customary, but ultimately relents with a loud, "Fine! I'll go."

"That's my girl. Be a dear and shut the door won't you?" He calls back, already well to the back and dumping the bag of potting soil onto a table next to a tower of empty pots. She shuts the door as requested and looks to the other pilot, her inquiries getting an eyebrow raise. "I suppose it's a bit far. It's probably an hour of walking there and back. We could borrow the truck or..." Duh. She catches on with a grin, "Hold on." Down the row she goes, searching the raised beds for carrot tops.

-

Ines watches Harris, Mister, disappear into the verdure, wry over Irene's theatrical objections. She trails the blonde out, and when Irene eventually cottons onto her so-clever insinuations and doesn't immediately reject the idea outright, she bounces on her toes and quick-claps her hands in front of her chest. "Yay!" She's effusive. She might actually seize up from an over-concentration of joie de vivre. It doesn't occur to her to find out what the hell it is that they're supposed to be going to get, or that it might be a problem if said thing is 'a crate of cider' or something else difficult to port around on horseback. If she did think about it, she might elect not to bring it up, lest it cause Irene to reconsider.

"How many horses do you have? Should we go find out what happened to Bingo? Does she like horses? ...Can I ride them in these rain boots?"

-

Irene does find the carrot patch, but she doesn't look very hopeful when she does. She pulls one out anyway, since it probably needed to be thinned and it's only about finger sized. Not much of a bribe for a full grown horse. "We'll have to go back to the house for carrots." She says as she tromps back to the garden path and Ines, swinging the dirty carrot by the top as she does. "We can find Faye and bring her too, since we have four horses. Duchess, Sir Reginald, Rose and Squirt." As for the footwear, she steps lightly on the toes of the other pilot's borrowed boots and shrugs, "If they fit alright, it shouldn't be a problem. You weren't planning on jumping fences or anything, right?" Cause that would obviously require proper riding boots and a jacket with tails, and a helmet, and tight pants. That's the law.

-

"Sir Reginald?" It's not possible to hear the laugh that follows, but it reads in the slight narrowing of her eyes and the shake of her shoulders. "Sir Reginald." Glancing down, she considers her stepped-on boots and the muddy prints left behind by Irene's, and then shrugs, smile tilting, lopsided. "I've never jumped a fence on a horse. I think I would try it, but I'm not scheduling it formally. I'd like to find out whether or not I'm going to be friends with one of your horses before I make plans for our lives together."

Reaching, she steadies the sad little carrot with one hand, having a look. "Oh. That's not going to be enough to impress anyone." Remembering herself, she glances over her shoulder with a wince, as though Irene's ninja father might have been standing right there and overheard, and taken deep umbrage at her criticism of his vegetables. "I mean. It's cute!" Phew. No Mr. Harris. "But maybe yes. We should go get other carrots." Almost-but-not-quite whispering. And with that thought she runs headlong into another, and looks momentarily torn between grief and hilarity. "Now I'm a little sad Tomak decided not to come. Can you imagine him trying to ride a horse?"

-

"Sir Reginald is sort of a jerk. Tomak and him would get along I bet. They'd be jumping over everything just to show off." Irene laughs softly, being quiet like Ines without probably realizing that it's to keep her father from overhearing the carrot criticism. The sad thing she rubs mostly clean before taking a test bite and crunching away on it like a rabbit before wrinkling her nose up a touch. "Uh, it's just too early for carrots. Tastes okay." She offers it to Kes, completely nonchalant about the dirt and cooties on it now. Accepted or no, the blonde toddles off, heading for the garden gate in no particular hurry. She's slowly transitioning back to country time, it would seem.

-

Cooties do not seem to bother Ines. She lives on board a ship containing only recycled air, in a bunkroom with more than just a few marines in it. Her entire life is cooties now. Less great: the taste of a carrot that isn't finished growing yet. She crinkles her nose after the first chew, but at least she doesn't spit it out. Mysteriously, the rest of the carrot and the top are missing by the time she catches up with her hostess, tucking her hands into her pockets. She's miraculously quiet on the way back to the house, and whatever adventures the rest of the afternoon will hold. It's the first time in a long while she's been anywhere really quiet, without the overhanging threat of CAP or a mission, and it would be a shame -- even in her excitement -- not to take advantage of it.

-

A little silence suits Irene just fine too, she rubs her hands together once or twice to superficially wipe the carrot dirt from them and both are tucked into her coat pockets. There's a bright smile for Ines and absolutely no inquiry into the missing carrot. That can be her secret. The Virgan will just soak up the atmosphere, steeped as it must be in nostalgia for her as the pair return to the house to prepare for even greater adventures, on horseback to the fabled Duggan farm.


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