Bright day

North Glenn 
Deciding to accept the job offer that took him to Colorado had been a big moment for Charlie. It was an incredible opportunity, and it was definitely what he'd wanted for a long time, but there was so much he knew he would miss about home. His family for the most part, his parents and sisters who had always been there for him. His friends too, definitely he'd miss his friends. His house, his cat, just the familiarity of the land around him. Getting used to not having all these things would be difficult for sure.

It was a big decision for him, but also it'd taken him all of 3 seconds to weigh his options and confirm the position. He gave a loving goodbye to his family, packed all his things in his worn out old station wagon, and ended up here in Cordova with a smile on his face. Charlie was absolutely the king of spontaneity, he took his life moment for moment and had little regard for future consequences. So far it'd actually worked out great for him, and even when it didn't he had enough optimism and spirit to skate smoothly around the bad things.

Speaking of optimism, Charlie had been very optimistic about being not getting lost on the first day of his second week as a park ranger in the glenn. Unfortunately, the power of a sunny outlook was highly overestimated, and where Charlie had started out confidently wandering the forest, he was now standing in the middle of a grove of oaks, thick brows furrowed, trying to figure out which direction was north. Shiiiiit.

Ashley! Was on! A hike!

She'd read somewhere that exercise would give her more energy, which was good news because she was... super low energy, probably because she was always bleeding out of her face!

Hiking felt like a nice opportunity to get some fresh air outside of the city, and the trees would have more... oxygen or something. Anyway!

Ashley had over packed by a lot. Sunscreen. Food. Tons of water. Bug spray. First aid kit. A paper map. Portable phone charger. A flashlight. A small blanket. Plus her usual lighter and towel and another bottle of Great Value water just in case she had to heal something?!

The straps groaned in her shoulders, or maybe it was her shoulders groaning. Either way, as she pushed along the path, Ashley was pretty close to just lying on the ground for a while until she could feel her arms again.

This exhaustion lasted until she realized she could hear... something, in the trees. Brows furrowing, she looked that way, rising up on her toes.

Unable to see a person, she wondered with some nervousness if it was an animal. Like a... puma.



Charlie was about ready to do that whole 'lickapinky and stick it in the air for the wind' shtick, when he heard footsteps. Most likely human ones, and they were very close by. What? He was like, really far from the trails right? How could somebody have found him? He turned and started to follow the sounds, a stray prickle branch snagging in his hair and sticking there as he trudged through the leaf litter. A glimpse through the trees, he saw what could be hair and skin, and soft colors that didn't blend in with the lush forest around them. He continued nearer, and once he could fully see her, he called out, "Hey!" as a greeting.

He broke into a jog to close the distance, and ended up at the edge of a well worn trail. He stopped there, hands on his hips and breathing from his little run, and looked up and down the path that was now ever present. How the heck had he missed all this? "This has been here a long time huh," he asked gesturing to the path, and feeling a little embarrassed but owning it. Then he gave a soft shake of his head, which caused a stick to come tumbling out of his curls, and laughed. His attention now on her, he let out a sigh, and with a friendly grin he said, "Hi. I'm Charlie, or Chuck, either's good." He was wearing at least half of his park ranger attire, the shorts and the shirt and the boots. But the signature hat had been left at his apartment, it was too hot for that.

It was getting closer. Ashley hadn't packed bear spray and felt the deepest regret possibly ever. She grabbed the strap on her bag like maybe she might club the animal in the face.

Time to fight, five foot Ashley Miller. Maybe the two hundred water bottles she'd packed would have enough heft to turn a backpack into a weapon. But then...

A greeting! Probably not a bear! Unless it was like... could werewolves talk? She tried to recall the one from Twilight but just remembered shirtless Jacob.

He appeared soon, though, tall enough to be a bear but otherwise very human. Chuck had a very boyish face, and she found she had a hard time determining how old he was because he was... tall?


"I thought you were a bear!" she admitted, grinning sheepishly. "I'm Ashley. Were you, um, lost?"

Because Ashley had a gosh darn map!

I thought you were a bear, she said with a sheepish grin, to which Chuck chuckled (hahA) and replied, "Nah, just me." Chuck as a bear would be very entertaining though, he probably wouldn't be all that scary.

Was he lost? Absolutely. "Uhhh, sorta. I'm gonna call it wandering." He glanced up the road in the direction she was headed, wondering if she was going anywhere specific, or if she was wandering too. "So I'm supposed to be a park ranger, and like help people find things." he started, moving his hand to run it through his hair, sifting out another crackled leaf. "I don't know how great of a guide I am right now, but I think if we do run into a bear, I could be your guy who's too slow and gets eaten so you can live," he joked in his usual light manner.

A park ranger! In the woods! That was like the opposite of a bear. She looked him over (mostly by looking up), deciding he did look pretty park rangerly, though she expected a hat? Kind of a... Smokey the Bear hat, in retrospect. Maybe park rangers were kind of ursine.

"Wandering's a good word," she agreed, and her grin continued as a leaf fluttered from his hair to the path.

To his honorable offer, she laughed, scuffing a foot in the dirt.

"That'd be super nice of you because I'm not a very fast runner," she admitted. One step in the direction she was heading, a wordless invitation to follow. "How'd you get to be a park ranger?"

Chuck laughed with her, always happy to see that others appreciated his light and wordy humor. "No worries, I got your back," he replied as he took up walking slightly off her left shoulder, and let her lead the way.

The whole situation of him being offered the job had been so fast, and while there was nothing exceptionally extraordinary about it Chuck could make it interesting. "Yeah! So I've always wanted to have a job like this," he gestured around with a charming enthusiasm, "Something in the woods, or the mountains, or you know just the outdoors! Who wouldn't want this job?" While he spoke in a playful tone, he had nothing short of admiration for mother nature. That much was impossible to miss.

"So I went to college but I didn't love it. My mom used to get worried that I was gonna drop out sometimes, she'd be like 'Charles Emil you better not waste all that damn money I swear', you know how moms are," he continued, adding in his best mom impression, "I ended up just getting my associates, and then I applied online to be a park ranger. You do some training beforehand but most of it comes after you get hired on, so that's what I've been doing the past week or so, just the training." He finished, then added with a laugh, "Hence I got lost like 30 feet from a trail."

His enthusiasm was nice to witness. She listened with a smile on her face, even if she could confirm she definitely did not want to be a park ranger. (Sunburns! And bugs! And getting lost!) But she could admire anyone who decided it was for them.

Dropping out of college was pretty relatable! She laughed at the mom impression, pretty charmed by it all as she lightly kicked a pebble along their path.

"I'm sure you'll be great!" she said with genuine cheer. "Maybe with like... a map."

A small tease, accompanied with a smile.

"What kindsa things are you learning in training?"

Ashley's teasing was met with a soft laugh and shake of his head, "Oh lord, yeah a map is probably a good idea," he said then backtracked to address her other comment, "And thanks! I hope so, this isn't a job I wanna lose."

She asked to know more about his training, Chuck puffed his cheeks with air as he ran through in his mind the extensive procedures and drills he'd had to learn even before coming here and learning the workings of the Glenn. "Well I did some training before I got hired, and that's just the basic procedures and stuff, like what to do with found items, how to deal with dangerous animals and people who go where they aren't supposed to. That stuff is all mostly manuals and paperwork though, and honestly it was hella boring. But once I got here and saw how it would all apply in real time it definitely felt worth it."

Dangerous animals! Ashley wonder if that included... like, werewolves? She kept that question tucked away for the moment, nodding thoughtfully as she reached up to briefly take off her hat for some head-airflow.

Except she had sweaty hat hair underneath and so she put it back on immediately. Super chill, super casual, no worries!

"Do you ever worry about werewolves or anything in the woods?" she asked, feeling a little foolish for saying it, but it seemed like half the people she met had a werewolf story?!

Chuck’s brows furrowed at the question - werewolves? He knew of their existence, and vampires too, but how common were they? He’d only ever heard stories, or seen one on tv, so he assumed that spoke for their rarity. So he decided, nothing to worry about! dumb ”I don’t worry about them much. Never seen one, so I guess until I do there isn’t much reason to worry. I don’t know,” he said with a shrug.

”Have you ever seen one? A werewolf?” he asked. She’d been the one to think of it, maybe she had a story to tell.

Okay, okay, Ashley, don't scare him! Not that he seemed scared, which maybe was why he was a park ranger and she definitely wasn't.

"I haven't," she admitted. "But a friend of mine saw one in the middle of a city. Some huge crazy wolf. But I guess it didn't attack her, so..."

Ashley gave a big broad huge shrug.

"Maybe they're friendly!"

This seemed unlikely but also maybe the least upsetting route.

"What do you do in the event if an Actual Bear Emergency?"

She punctuated the last three words with little shimmies of her shoulders (that swung her backpack around behind her) kind of without realizing she was doing it.

Chuck's eyes widened as Ashley spoke of a werewolf in the city! Holy fuck! "In the city?" he restated, surprised by the idea. Probably because he just had never pictured a huge wolf running down streets and stopping for stoplights, but hey now that he was imagining a car wolf hybrid he was never getting that image out of his head :')

Maybe they're friendly!? He laughed, looking to her and nodding, "Yeah absolutely, definitely I'm sure werewolves are friendly," his nodding becoming a steady shake no as he got to the end of the sentence. He was joking of course, werewolves could be friendly for all he knew! Heck Ashley might be one, for all he knew.

They continued walking, Chuck's shorter companion switched gears and asked about the bear procedures. He chuckled, "In case of an Actual Bear Emergency" he mimicked her little shoulder shimmies and tone of voice with a grin, "Which is actually exactly what we park rangers call em by the way. Actual Bear Emergencies was my favorite chapter of the textbook," he said teasingly, jogging forwards a few steps to walk backwards now. Switch it up a bit.

"Anyway, in case of Actual Bear Emergencies, the best thing to do is keep your distance in the first place. Do not near active bears. And if they see you, go slow, do not run. Make sure to watch the bear to see how it reacts, cause if it does start chasing you, that's when you're gonna wanna start running."

Huge nod. In the city. Just a giant but strangely not murderous werewolf! The absolute weirdest.

Chuck fell right into explanation of bear tactics, and as he moved ahead, for a moment she thought he might, like, pretend to be a bear?! This had her expression a little smilier than was probably totally necessary.

The advice all seemed pretty reasonable... except running from a bear?! Wouldn't that make them want to chase you more or... something?

"What do I do if it catches me? Say my last words?"

At her last question, Chuck shrugged and scratched at the back of his head. Pretty much, "Yeah probably, they really stress that the best way to avoid death by bear is to not be near bears." Of course that wouldn't stop all people, and in those cases things didn't turn out great. Honestly if Chuck saw a bear in the woods he'd probably try to get a picture before turning the opposite direction.

"But don't worry! Like I said, if we do have an Actual Bear Emergency," he said, putting his hand to his heart with mock sincerity, "I'd gladly sacrifice myself for your well being," he finished, reaching out from his heart in gesture to her. A joke of course, Charlie was definitely altruistic but sacrifice wasn't his preferred way to go. Though he wouldn't leave anyone behind, if it came to it.

He was kind of a goofball, but it was charming. Ashley wondered how old he was; it was hard to tell for people so tall! (As if everyone got taller as they got older forever.)

"Well that's very chil- chivalrous of you," she said.

Ashley felt a buzz in her pocket, grabbed her phone to see she was supposed to beeee... oh! Turning at a fork ahead. (Or behind, if you were Chuck.)

"I'm heading back to my car up there before I die of sweat," she said with a gesture toward the perpendicular path. "Are you off to do more important park ranger training stuff?"

Wrestling snakes. Putting leaves in his hair. That kinda thing.

Chuck slowed at his backwards pace, watching as Ashley checked her pocket. He hadn't even noticed the split path ahead of them, until she mentioned 'up ahead' and he turned to look. A fork in the road, good to know, he scribbled that down on his mental map of landmarks. She asked what he was up to next, and he sighed. "I could, I'm pretty tired too though I might just call it a day. Technically I'm not even clocked in so this was all pro bono anyway," he said with a smile.

"I can help you to your car if you want?" he offered. He really liked Ashley to be honest, she'd been good company for a hike even though she might die of sweat.

She couldn't blame him for being tired, especially if he'd probably been out here longer than she had. Physical activity was exhaaausstiiinnnggg. If it was supposed to give her energy or something, she sure wasn't feeling it.

And how nice of him to work pro bono! Ashley... did that with healing sometimes. But she wasn't sure if this guy had powers, and it wasn't the most relevant, so no need to bring it up.

To his offer, though, she laughed.

"You can walk with me, but I probably don't need heelp," she teased, promptly lowkey almost tripping on a tree root it's fine just keep walking, Ashley.

Charlie laughed too, yeah that was a dumb way of asking "can I walk with you" but hey it proved to be a little less dumb when a moment later Ashley stumbled over a root. "Yeah probably not," he said, falling into step with her and heading the direction of her car.

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