2007-03-12: Almost Normal

Starring:

Claire_icon.gif Drake_icon.gif

Summary: Claire and Drake take time out of their not-so-normal lives to remember what it's like to be teenagers and go on semi-awkward dates. Mostly just a bit of cute fluff in the wake of so much action and drama.

Date It Happened: March 12, 2007

Almost Normal


Common Grounds

It has been a few days, and Drake finally got the courage up to send Claire a text message, wondering if she'd like to get together at one of the local cafe's on the strip, that is having a live band night. He needed the night out to wind down, and he /promised/ Elena he'd attempt this 'teenage' thing and start dating. When this falls apart in his face, at least he can blame her, instead of himself. Settled at a table by himself, and waiting, is the young man, dressed in a clean pair of pants, and a button down collared shirt. Nothing too fancy, it does have a bit of a pattern of sorts on it. He got a haircut, and wrestled it into place with a bit of gel. His foot taps, following along with the beat of the drum from the band on the stage, that has a bit of an alternative, bluesy sound.

Unlike Drake, there is no one in Claire's life who is urging her to go out and date. In fact, for all intents and purposes, going out like this is really not the best idea. Still, after a solid hour of 'but please daddy' and 'I love you!' she's finally been allowed to leave the hotel. Not that she isn't still being tailed by some rather intimidating bodyguards, but they're meant to be inconspicuous. She pushes the door to the cafe open, for a brief moment remembering the last time she was in this cafe. It's been rebuilt, sure, but her memory is vivid. It doesn't take her long to spot Drake, and she casts him a smile, somewhat less bright and warm than the last time they met. "Hey," she greets, dropping her bag into an empty chair and unbuttoning her coat.

Shifting himself upwards quickly, Drake flashes her a bright smile, propping his chin in the palm of his hand. "Hey, Claire. How you doing?" His eyes study hers for a moment, before softening some. He's not in the highest of spirits also, having the weight of the world pressing down on his shoulders. New York going boom, virus, tornado, this company thing. "Haven't seen you around school yet. I guess you haven't convinced your parents to transfer you over yet?" He asks in a joking manner, then shifts a menu in her direction, in case she wants to order anything. "You know, this place got burnt down or something awhile ago. I guess it's their grand re opening."

"Nooot yet," Claire says with a shake of her head as she settles into the seat opposite Drake, looking to him apologetically. "I'm trying." She's not, actually, since lately her life has been one dramatic event after another. High school is not high on her priority list. "Yeah, I remember when it burnt down. I was here," she says, her remark made in an off-hand way. Instantly, she regrets it, but the frown that flashes across her face is fleeting at best. "I'm surprised they reopened it."

"You were? I guess you've been here longer than I thought. You really should get back into school though, not sure why your parents wouldn't want you in asap. The longer you wait, the harder it gets. You'll be like.. nineteen or something upon graduation." Or worse, twenty. Drake seems a bit concerned as he rubs the back of his neck, then tilts his head to one side. ".. is.. is everything OK? You seem.. distracted..and I don't know much 'bout you as it is." He pauses. "I mean.. I'm just.. err.." He flubs, trying to recover. "You OK?" He tries again, offering her a smile.

"I was " What? She was being privately tutored by the Company while she was being held in their custody? Not quite something Claire can just blurt out over coffee. " I was being homeschooled for a while. Way harder than actual high school." She peruses the menu for a few seconds, trailing a finger along the list to keep her place. Her attention flicks back to Drake as he speaks, however, and she raises an eyebrow at his stumbling speech, a faint smirk tugging at the corner of her mouth. She stifles most of her snickering. "I'm okay. Just… family stuff. I *think* I know what I want."

"Ah. Yeah.. I know how that is." Drake says with a smile, lightening up a bit. "The family stuff I mean. I've heard home school is hard. Self teaching is never that fun, but.. they got satellite classes now, where you can take one or two a week with other students, so that it's not always your couch." He peeks at his menu again, then hops up to his feet. "Alright. Whatcha want. I'll put the order in." He gives her a smile, shifting his gaze to the band, then back to her. "By the way, Spring Break is next week for me. I was thinking maybe we could get together, and see if we can find something fun. Maybe hit up a concert or two. Bon Jovi is coming to town. So is Nickleback, and um… Papa Roach is opening for someone.. I can't remember who."

"Peppermint mocha," Claire decides with one last glance cast towards the menu. "Oh, and a peanut butter cookie." Half a second later, she makes a pained face and says, "No. Chocolate chip." Oh, indecision. There's an appreciative smile on her face then, and she shrugs her coat off her shoulders, allowing it to fall back over the chair behind her. She unwinds her scarf, too, and sets that with her bag. "I really want to, Drake. I just… I can't promise anything." She exhales, the frown returning. "My family's crazy. I practically had to beg my dad to let me out today." And he doesn't know who she's with, so she's sure to get an earful when she goes home.

"Well, maybe I can meet your family, huh? Maybe they'll loosen up when they see I'm normal and let you go to a concert." Drake says with a smile on his face, before ambling off to the counter to put in the order. He picks up one of each cookie, just in case she changes her mind, and snags himself a caramel mocha with a cinnamon muffin for himself. "Anyways," He says, after returning with the order and settling back into the booth, handing her over the cookies, and drink. "My best friend Elena says she wants to meet you. Wants to know who this Claaaaire I keep talking about is." He says with a laugh. "She's nosier than a cat, I say. She's a bit protective also. I dunno, you'd think it'd be the other way around."

That seems to take her by surprise, and Claire pulls her head back a bit, instantly looking worried. "She wants to meet me?" There's something akin to insecurity in her tone as she speaks; it comes across as if she were self-conscious when, in actual fact, there are alarms ringing through her mind. With her brow knitted into a frown, she breaks a piece off the chocolate chip cookie and stuffs it into her mouth, her attention caught by the drink set down in front of her. "Okay," she says, once she's finally finished chewing. "But I don't think you meeting my family is such a great idea. Not until they're less crazy."

Drake chuckles. "Yeah, she'd like to meet yeah. I'm sure if anything it's to 'gossip', or something. She goes to NYU. Eighteen. Real science nerd, who happens to be on the dance team. She's become something of a big sister to me I guess. She practically had to shove me out the door to come meet you tonight." Drake says, then squints his eyes. "I mean.. well… I /wanted/ to, it's just.. I was… um.. " He rubs the back of his neck. Where was that smooth talking guy from the other day? "I dunno, maybe I figured you'd.. um.. I.. suck at this?" He says with a nervous laugh. "I've never asked out a girl before, really. I guess. Ah.. I'm so.. freaking lame." He drops his head on the table, tucking his hands behind his head. "Elena is cool though." He mumbles. "You'd totally love her, both got that cheerleading thing going on."

"You /do/ suck at this," Claire quips as she reaches out to ruffle his hair as he has his head down, rolling her eyes playfully. She may not be herself today, but being around him is helping to brighten her mood, at least, and that much is obvious. "You're not lame. It's… cute." She decides she'll wait out his moment of insecurity, watching him over the edge of her cup as she takes a sip of her drink. "Well, I'm glad she made you come out, then. I'm not that repulsive, am I?" Now she's just toying with him, regarding him with a smirk.

Drake rolling his eyes up to peek at her from beneath his mop of blonde, he grunts out. "YOu, repulsive? Hardy." Pushing himself up, he says, "You're actually attractive enough to be intimidating. I mean hooking you up with a coffee is one thing, but actually getting you to come out and see me again… it feels like winning the Super Bowl." He says in a teasing manner. "So, there you go, you're the super bowl." He shakes his head, annoyed at himself in his stupidity. "I'm glad you came out also. I enjoy talking to you. You're refreshingly normal, even if you got crazy parents."

This time, Claire can't stifle her laughter. It's more than a snicker when he compares her to the Super Bowl, and she has to clamp a hand down over her mouth just to get herself to stop. "I'm the /Super Bowl/?" It might be endearing, but that doesn't make it any less amusing to Claire, either, and she shakes her head. "Trust me, I'm not that great. There's probably someone way more normal that you could be asking out on a date." Even if she does appreciate him calling her normal. But she can't tell him that, either.

"Well, you're like the Giants winning the Super Bowl, how about that? As if that'll happen this year anyways. Looks like the Pats has things locked down." If only Drake knew, huh? "Why don't you think you're great? You're easy to talk to. I think anyone should be flattered to be in your company." Once more, he props his chin up in the palm of his hand. "And maybe there are people more normal out there. I know I'm a far cry from it." He says with an amused smile on his face.

"I dunno. I wouldn't count them out yet," Claire replies, accompanied by a quick shrug of her shoulders. "It's not that I don't think I'm a good person or something. It's just… complicated. I can't really explain it." Not because she can't find the words, of course. She is fairly certain that if she were to say something, she could count on never seeing Drake sitting across from her again. And this? This is so normal. She likes normal. At his last remark, however, she arches a brow, giving him an almost challenging look. "Oh yeah? What makes you such a freak?"

With a laugh, Drake shrugs his shoulders upwards a bit, then leans across the table to whisper in a soft, secretive manner. "I'm Spider Man." With a wink, he leans up and clears his throat, trying to look nonchalant as he casts a look over his shoulder, before straightening up. "No, kidding. I guess a lot of people think there's nothing wrong with me, which is far from true. I play soccer, play the guitar and a lil bit of piano, been going to church since I was a kid, was a boyscout, practiced, and still do to a point, martial arts. Got a normal mom who loves me, and I'm not hideous. So.. I guess that's why I'm a freak. People think I'm perfect, when I'm not. It makes it.. sorta hard for me to live up to everyone's expectations. I don't have many moments where I can just.. stress out, and act like a dumbass.. like this, I guess. I'm always on guard." That's pretty deep, right there, and he's being honestly serious. "Sometimes I just feel like I got the entire world on my shoulders, and it's up to me to hold it up."

Though he started with a joke - and Claire really has no idea just how close to the truth he was being with that - the rest of what he says really seems to strike a chord. She seems taken aback, at first, but there's obvious sympathy in her eyes as she gives him a smile that's almost rueful. "I know exactly how you feel," she replies, one finger trailing along the edge of her cup absently. "You have no idea." Never once does she look as if she thinks he's being melodramatic; this is one Very Serious pair of teenagers, at this point. She's silent for a few seconds, adopting a mischievous tone when she speaks again, adding, "If it makes you feel any better, /I/ don't think you're perfect."

The quiet moment between them is broken by Drake's laugh as he shakes his head. "Obviously, seeing how I'm being mister smooth with you, huh? Instead, I'm coming off as a lamer emo boy who's about to cry in his coffee, than realize he's on a date with a great girl." He says as he lifts his eyes upwards to meet hers, sliding out his hand to let it rest on the top of hers, fingers winding to give a squeeze. There is so much he just wishes he could let loose on, but, that would make her laugh in his face. There is no way he'd ever be able to tell her the truth. "Well, if it makes you feel any better, you're not perfect either." He says teasingly in return. "Though, being perfect would be boring, and completely uncomplicated. Life should be complicated, it's what builds us up, and makes us stronger individuals."

"I don't know about that," Claire says, a slight frown marking her brow as she averts her eyes to the side for a short few seconds. "I think I could live with a little less complication in my life. I think I've had all the complication I can handle. At least until I'm twenty." When she looks back to the plate of cookies in front of her, she considers them for a minute, then breaks each one in half. "Here. I feel like a pig eating both." She takes half of each kind and slides it across the table to Drake, set on a napkin. "Besides, they're really good cookies. You should experience them."

Grinning, Drake takes the cookie, half of each one, and starts to nibble at the peanut butter one first. "My mom makes pretty pimp cookies too." Yes, he said pimp. "So, after we finish these, you wanna dance?" He asks with a grin on his face as he cuts a look to the small band, then back to her. "That is, seeing how you're a cheerleader, you should have some moves to show off." He's one to put her on the spot, huh? With another toss of a cookie into his mouth, he chews twice, the swallows after a sip of his coffee.

"Oh, god." There's a definite sinking feeling in her stomach then, and Claire looks just a teensy bit petrified at the notion of dancing. She shoots a glance to the band, as if willing them to play something completely wrong for dancing. They don't. "I… don't dance," she says, shaking her head firmly. "Don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't want to, it's just— dancing really isn't my thing." As if realizing just how strange that sounds coming from someone with a hobby like hers, she adds quickly: "Cheerleading is different."

"You.. you /don't/ dance? Even nerds dance, Claire." Drake says with a grin on his face, rising up to his feet, and holding a hand out to her. "C'mon, even if we look like total goobers, it'll be fun. And how is cheer leading different? Outside of wearing short skirts, and smiling real big until your face stretches, and spelling your team's name real loudly while clapping?" He can't help but look even more amused as his eyes widen. "Pleeeeaaaaase?" He says, practically begging, putting some Maxwell charm on her.

"It's just… different!" Claire adopts a mockingly indignant look, sinking down in her seat a little and grabbing her cup with both hands. She tips her head forward so that her hair partially obscures her face, trying to pretend she can't see him standing next to her this way. (This entire ordeal is an effective distraction, at least, from the memory of her hellish night only two days prior.) "I can't dance in front of all these people," she says to Drake, lowering her voice until it's just above a whisper.

Dropping his hand slowly, Drake lets out a soft breath. ".. Well… OK." He says, sliding back down into his seat. Other people are dancing. Pooh. "Well, so I guess if I asked you to Prom, you wouldn't go with me, huh?" He says with a chuckle as he peeks out at her, reaching out to brush some hair away from her face, so that he can see her face better. "That's too bad, I'd probably look pretty good in a tux." He trails off. "Ya'know.. kinda like.. James Bond, but with blonde hair."

Oh, sure. Play to her weaknesses. When he brushes the hair out of her eyes, Claire can't help the slight colour that rises in her cheeks. She especially can't help it (or hide it) when he talks about hypothetically asking her to prom. There's a smile desperately trying to break through her facade of determination, and it's beginning to win the battle. Still, stubbornly, she says, "Not until I learn how to dance without stepping on your toes every other step."

"Well, I could teach you later then, huh? Just you and me? Could always drop by the church. I got a radio there, and we can hang out at the parking lot on Monday's or something. They don't do service, so no people hanging about." Drake says with a shrug of his shoulders as he leans back, though he drops his hand down onto hers to give it another squeeze, flicking his thumb against hers in a teasing manner. "You know, Elena /is/ on the dance team for the College. I bet she'd be able to teach you a dozen types of moves. I haven't seen her dance, but from what she's bragged about, it's like.. one of those teams not /anyone/ can get into, so I guess she has some rhythm." He beams.

There are so many reasons why Claire should not even be sitting in a cafe with a boy who is (she thinks) normal, let alone talking about seeing him again. As far as she knows, he isn't at all involved with the more complicated side of her life, and she'd like to keep it that way. But he's talking, and she's almost, *almost* forgetting about how there's a serial killer who's after her. "My dad is so not going to believe me when I tell him I'm going to a /church/," she muses, rolling her eyes again as she takes another sip of her mocha. "Elena sounds great."

"Yeah, Elena is awesome. She's totally keeping me grounded lately." Drake says with a bit of amusement, before squinting his eyes. "Why would he not believe you if you went to church? I still say you should come on Sunday to see me sing. I can really get the crowd going sometimes." He just loves smiling, doesn't he? He has a big one on his face. It seems that he's also putting things of worry to rest. He's not thinking about a killer virus, a psychotic Sylar, or a potential tornado. At least, not until after this date ends, and he's forced to become the broody, lurker of the night once more, who's grasping at straws to figure out how to save the world. "So.." He trails off in way of making new conversation. "When do you think you'd be able to sneak out again, and hang out? Like I said… Spring Break and all. I may get some more hours in at Starbucks.. or just quit all together, since it's really hard to work part time, and go to school. I only work like.. ten hours a week there as it is. Just a fun job, you know."

The question elicits a slight frown from Claire, and she casts a glance over her shoulder, towards the door. It's brief, at least, before her attention slides back to her companion. "I don't know," she laments, her tone genuinely apologetic. "I think it depends on just complicated my life stays." Read: if Sylar were to show up dead in an alley tomorrow, it's much more likely! "I'll try. My dad would kill me if he knew I went out to meet a boy instead of just getting coffee." Whoops. So that's at least one good reason why maybe meeting her father is not the best idea for Drake.

"Oh.. so.. he's like.. really hard core about the boys thing, huh? So's my mom, though I think she's fairly reasonable if she met the girl I was.. interested in. She knows how I stand on relationships, and um.. stuff." He clears his throat a bit. That's right, this kid is waiting for wedding bells. He's bound to be a forty year old virgin. "How about your mom? Any wiggle room with her?"

"With my mom? Definitely," Claire replies, though there isn't much hope in her tone, still. "I mean… I think so. She's easier to pull one over on than my dad, for sure." But then, that was before her mother became aware of just how much danger there is out there, and why her father is so protective. "Sometimes, I think they just forget that I'm not a little girl any more, you know?"

"You're always gonna be your daddy's little girl." Drake says with a smile on his face. "It's how it is with daughters. I wish my dad was still around to see how I turned out. I'm sure he'd be proud." He glances over to the clock, then back to her. It's getting fairly late, at least, for her it is being that she's been out longer than just coffee. ".. So…" He trails off, to give her an escape.

Following his gaze to the clock, Claire frowns again, glancing down at her unfinished cookie. "I know," she says, her tone bearing a hint of bitterness as she looks back to Drake. Gathering her drink from the table, she finishes what little was left. "Even if I can't sneak out, you can text me, right?" She flashes him a smile, slipping her coat back on and wrapping her scarf around her neck. "I'll try to get them to let me come out on Friday for your show."

Rising up quickly in pursuit, Drake nods his head, offering her a grin. "Alright. That'd be cool." He says, giving her shoulder a bit of a bump with his, before reaching out to lightly tug on her jacket sleeve. "I hope you come, maybe I'll write a special song for you." He says with a wink. There's a bit of a pause as he gives another slight tug of the sleeve, before leaning in rather boldly, looking to sneak a kiss in, even if it's just to the side of her lips.

She's only just turning to cast him another smirk when he leans in quite so boldly, but it's enough of a warning that she manages to change his plan of attack just slightly. She tilts her head, turning a little further in to the kiss so that their lips meet full-on, her eyes fluttering closed. This might not be the ideal place for a first kiss, but there are so few normal things in Claire's life, she's going to enjoy what simple pleasures she can. Acutely aware of just how public this is, however, it's over a little sooner than she'd like, and she finds herself looking down almost sheepishly as she pulls away. Not that she isn't still blushing, of course, and that isn't a self-satisfied smirk on her face at all. "Songs are nice," she says, grabbing her bag and swinging it up over her shoulder. "You'd better write one for me." As she wraps the leftover cookie up in a napkin, stuffing it into her pocket, she grins at him. "See you soon, Drake." Do they even know each other's last name? As she winds through the tables towards the front door, unable to stop herself from glancing back over her shoulder and offering a quick little wave, Claire doesn't really care.

".. Bye… " Drake says, practically swooning with a bit of giddy energy, his cheeks rushed with blood as they practically burn. Licking his lips, almost as if to savor the moment, he slowly sinks back down into his chair, staring into space. With a chuckle, he shakes his head, then digs out a pen. Time to start on a new song, and he's going to use this napkin for it. Losing himself in the music of the cafe, he starts an easy scribble, ink flowing like water. Peter Parker never had a day like this.

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