Dainty Bird Diner not strawberry season

wearing overalls, hair in a messy bun!

There was nothing exciting growing in the fields yet, just some of the root vegetables that weren't too hard to manage year round (if you are a psychic with soil powers). She didn't have any strawberries to bring and she wouldn't for a couple more months, but the Dainty Bird cooks loved to for them ask anyway. She always answered with a smile, "Not yet! Just wait until may!"

They heard the same cheesy line from the head cook when they handed them the last tote of carrots, "When are we getting the strawberries, people love the farm fresh strawberries!" After feeding them the usual line, Ruby went and sat down at the counter for a quick break, and maybe they'd order something to eat! "Could I get a menu please?"

A ruddy cheeked waiter sent one her way.
It was very strange to recognize someone and have interacted with them to some length and to be fully aware they absolutely will not, and should not, recognize you back.

When the young lady who had once taken several pictures of him in a Lowes sat down next to him at the counter of the diner he'd tapped into for lunch, Fitz could not help but get a little tense.

Should he... say something? She'd been very kind, he knew she was a good sort. He could hear the cheery way she spoke to the people here. He found he wanted to, but it was very daunting.

So, pushing a fork delicately into the hashbrowns in front of him, he drew up a spring of confidence to force a smile and a glance. "What's in may?" He hadn't quite caught the pleas of the employees, but he'd heard her just fine.

He had immediate regret at approaching conversation this way, though.
Ruby lifted the cloudy laminate menu with a smile, then thanked the waiter before they went on their way. Dark eyes made their way over the lunch items, there were some sandwiches that looked good but not as good as those pancakes looked. Pancakes with strawberry syrup, not made from the fresh fruit she'd bring in come late may, but delicious none the less.

The voice caught her off guard, the words were so vague and she'd been distracted, she barely realized they were for her. Ruby glanced up and over to the man sitting next to her; a real cutie with a shaggy look. "Hm?" they weren't entirely sure what he'd said, "I'm so sorry say that one more time." A chuckle interwove their words, their face alight with a friendly smile.
Yeah he needed to die.

It was only the fact that he knew she was very kind--at least to animals--that kept him going instead of hastily excusing himself with fistfuls of cash on the counter to pay his bill and vanish into oblivion. Her reply was gentle confusion rather than irritation, and he kept an earnest gaze on her... hands.

"Oh uhm. You told them to wait until May. I was just wondering what for."

Oh! He'd overheard her conversation with the workers and was making conversation, timidly apparently. She chuckled and smiled, seeking his gaze and wondering why he preferred to look at her hands!

"Strawberries, I'll have the first batch of local strawberries in late may," she replied.
His eyes managed to raise to roughly her shoulders, acutely aware that he was aggressively failing to eye contact test.

But the answer was... cute, endearing! In line with where they'd first met!

"You grow them?" Tone gone higher, interested.
"Mhm," Ruby hummed, lips pursed in a soft smile. They were always happy to talk about the farm, even if it wasn't their main gig.

She scooted around a little to face him more comfortable, putting down the plastic menu. They'd already chosen their meal, a 4 stack of pancakes cuz a girl's gotta eat! Attention given to her new companion, her dark eyes sought his then settled for his thick brows instead. "My dad has a farm, I help him out most weekends when I can."
He peeked at her eyes and then back down nearly as quick.

"That's very nice, to be able to help. And to grow nice things like strawberries." The passel back home had grown a lot of their own things, tried to be self-sustaining and insular. But this young lady and her father were out here giving what they had to others. "Do you have a lot of regular places that take your produce?"

Fitz didn't even know why he was interested, but when he found a reason to be bold he tried to not think too hard about it.
Had he looked at her? Ruby barely caught the quick look up at her eyes, on instinct she glanced towards him and then away equally as quick.

She smiled at the compliment that was phrased so sweetly, "We bring stuff to the farmer's market all the time, whoever has room for us we'll grow for," she answered. The waiter came back over to take orders, she glanced to her companion as though waiting for him to go first, realized he already had food, then returned to the waiter with an "Oh, yes yes. Can I umm," fingers scrambled to pick up the menu, "can I get a 4 stack of pancakes? With strawberry syrup?" They nodded, took the menu and told her it'd be out soon.

"What umm, what were we talking about?" she returned to the man beside her, eyes flickering down to his plate. Damn, hash browns sounded good too.
He picked at his plate while she ordered, but it was very hard to eat when you were being watched and so he hesitated around the plate in spite of himself.

"Oh just... where your produce ends up. Which farmer's market?" There was one out this way, he was pretty sure, but he hadn't gone. It was a bit out of the way for a casual drive, but he probably ought to expand just a touch more.
"Oh right!" Ruby shook her head and a fiery curl that'd threatened to fall from the edge of her ear finally did, bouncing by her cheek. She smiled, chuckled, "Yes yeah, there's a Hollowstone market every other saturday 8-2, and sometimes we set up at Valley Mercado up in Baron. We do pop ups at other markets now and then but those are the main ones."

"I'd be happy to give you addresses if you're wanting to come."
How could he say no?

No, really, was it possible to say no? He wasn't against the whole thing, but he rarely chomped at the bit for invitations. Nonetheless... he had started this and she was truly as gentle as he recalled.

"Absolutely, if it's not a problem for you. I didn't mean to be a bother."
"Of course!" she replied, a smile on her face, "Definitely not being a bother, I'm glad you asked." She glanced around a moment, as though a writing utensil and paper might just magically appear.

"Do you have somewhere you want it written down or like a notes app or something?" she asked with a chuckle.
"Ohhh uh," he said, trying not to flush and ducking his head somewhat as if he was at deep fault for not having anticipated her needs for somewhere to supply this number. A very stupid nerve-shame gripped him and he couldn't look even her direction as he fumbled into his pocket for his phone--he didn't much like having it out while he ate.

Notes app, notes app, notes app... it was in here somewhere, he knew that.
He was so nervous, he was so cute!! Ruby couldn't help but smile as he fumbled towards his pockets to pull out a phone. Deep brown eyes wandered over the top of his head while he looked down, noting how soft his dark floppy hair looked.

"I'm sure we can get a piece of paper from the waiter if you can't find anything," she assured.
She was very, very, very nice. But he was determined, and after a moment he had his phone and he was shaking his head, not wanting her to fuss too much. No reason, no need, he was fine he was just--

Particularly worked up, which he blamed himself for. Sometimes daring to be bold really backfired in how it unsettled him. Doing things differently made everything impossible to predict.

Flipping through his apps, he found one that gave him space to type and save something, and with an effort to not tremble outright, he offered it over to her. Did not trust himself currently to type it accurately.
He found the phone, insistent on doing so with a quick nod. Ruby smiled and offered her hand to take it, but he wasn't finished with it yet. The urgency with which he flipped through his apps to find notes was incredibly amusing. Eventually he found it and the phone was handed her way, "Perfect," she decided as she took it.

The addresses for both markets she'd mentioned were typed in —though she'd had to grab her own phone to find them. Then underneath them, she wrote: ruby from the diner, here's my number if you have any questions! xxx-xxx-xxxx.

"There, I put my number too just in case you can't find us or something," and you know, just in case. In general! She offered him his phone back just in time for the waiter to return with her pancakes. "They smell so good, holy shit," she chuckled, reaching for her fork.
He tried not to watch too intently as she entered information, and he felt extra warm and flustered when she handed it back with a note about her phone number. Very, very nice, like he'd thought already. In spite of himself, he appreciated it a lot.

Looking at the addresses and such for a moment while she received her food, he smiled. "The food here never disappoints," he said by way of agreeing with her assessment. He sort of found himself wanting to order more, but he'd already eaten enough for your average human, so with an audience it felt... hmm.

Ruby, though. That was her name, Ruby. "Fitz-Lloyd, by the... way. My name, I mean. Since I have yours now." Stop talking, it's fine.
Ruby nodded their agreement while chewing the first mouthful. It really didn't disappoint, strawberry syrup was such a good call. "Mmmm," she hummed, a closed lipped smile sent his way. Fitz-Lloyd, fun name, sounded Scottish or Irish, just like him.

"Nice to meet you," she replied, taking another bite before deciding to ask, "where's your accent from, if you don't mind me asking?"
It was nice to meet her too. Even if it was a second time and he couldn't really tell her that. He wondered what she'd think if she knew. He had no way to be sure, so it wasn't something he could risk to find out.

The question was a usual one, thankfully, so easily answered. "Scotland. Portree, if you're familiar." Though most people weren't and that was fine. He needed to make it clear that it was fine if she didn't know where Portree was! "Not that I expect you to be, heh." Which sounded mean, he felt, like he was calling her dumb for not having Scotland's map memorized or... "Bit far away and all."
Scotland! She was very close, had been leaning towards Scotland cause he sounded a little lit Cat! Portree though, Ruby was not at all familiar. She started to shake her head no but then he continued, explaining his questions and then explaining his explanation to his question. "Yeah," she agreed, he'd practically taken the words out of her mouth.

"So how do you like Colorado?" they asked, pausing to take a sip of water in between words and bites.
"Oh! Uhm, it's lovely, actually. I do like it quite a lot. Plenty of places to go and see that aren't crowded with people. I think that's what I like most." An easy honesty, the sort of thing he was happy to share from his thoughts. "Is... are you from here originally?" If there was a family farm, it felt likely. That was the kind of thing that was generational.
That was refreshing to hear! Ruby was pretty fond of her home city too. "Especially out here, outside downtown," they agreed with a nod.

"Mhm!" the redhead confirmed through their mouthful, holding up their fork to serve as a "one second!" gesture. They swallowed, "Yeah! I grew up in Hollowstone, have my own place but I still help out on the family farm."
"So you are independent but still with things that are familiar to you," he summed up thoughtfully. He would have liked that, if he could have managed it. But he knew himself, and that was why he'd gone far away instead. It would have been too easy to stay in his little family for the rest of his life if he let himself stay close to that temptation. Moving to a place just outside of his childhood stomping grounds would not have done enough for him.

"It seems like it's very nice for you."
Her mouth was full when he replied, she nodded, smiled around the bite, and pointed a syrupy fork his way to let him know he was right on the nose. She swallowed, "Yes exactly!" she replied, "maybe one day I'll move somewhere else but I'm pretty happy with what I've got here." Especially now that she was with other psychics, everything seemed to be falling into place.

They dug back in, about a quarter through the stack. There was no way they were gonna finish it, but pancake leftovers were always the best anyways —more time to marinate in the syrup.

"Oof! I'm gonna need a box," they chuckled, holding their other hand to their stomach.
He smiled, his own plate empty by now, working his way through a glass of juice that had been kindly refilled.

"It's very easy to take on too much when it's this good." Frankly, he could have eaten more still, but sometimes you just had to cut your losses with an audience and decide to eat somewhere else in an hour or two instead. "Do you have anything you'd recommend for the next time I come in?"

This was good, a sincere question that also sounded polite.
"I know right?" Ruby agreed, turning back his way after pushing their plate away from them. "This was amazing, but I love sweet things. If you're more of a salty kinda guy the spinach mushroom omelette is amazing."
He was an everything person, truthfully, so he appreciated her two pronged recommendation. "Sounds perfect for next time, then." Maybe a bit of both. He smiled and lifted his eyes to Ruby's for a moment, breathing out slow for a sense of calm as he did so.

Meeting nice people was a good reminder that it wasn't so hard as he made it all out to be. "I appreciate you humoring all my questions."
A worker came back around to grab Ruby’s plate and drop off the check. She exchanged a smile and gave her thanks, then looked back to her new friend just in time to catch his gaze. Eye contact is always awkward, even when you’ve been searching for it. This wasn’t so bad though, the smile that creased the corners of his eyes felt very familiar, and comfortable.

"Of course, thanks for letting me give you the business pitch," she teased with a grin, breaking away from his eyes and glancing between other things far less interesting.
He made a soft 'heh' noise and let this be... good. Don't overthink.

"Okay, I will leave you to it, Ruby. It was very nice to meet you."

She'd never know he was the opossum she likely carried still within the photos of her phone, but that was alright. It wasn't the kind of thing to be shared even with a friend. Was it?

No, of course not, the rules had always said...
"You too," she returned with a smile, and then after a brief interaction with the staff to pay for her food, she turned back to the man to offer, "See you around!"

And with that, Ruby was off. Time to go prep those strawberry beds.
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