2007-08-25: Clairevoyance


Claire_icon.gif Annabelle_icon.gif Zach_icon.gif

Summary: Reunited… and it feels so good. LIKE BOILING WATER OF JASMINE-FLAVORED DOOM.

Date It Happened: August 25, 2007


Common Grounds

It's best to keep to oneself. Especially when one happens to be sitting at a small table by one's blonde self, hunched over a cup of unseasonably hot chocolate.

Fortunately, the coffee house is being kept at a fairly cool temperature, and the warmth of the beverage settled between Claire's two hands is not only tolerable but highly welcomed. A fitted button down white linen shirt and denim jeans allow her to easily blend in with the typical coffee shop yuppies, and they leave her in peace. Blue eyes intently watch the way the sunshine filters through the slightly murky storefront window and hits the wafting steam from her cup, making its curls more visible and hypnotic. This is Claire. This is Claire thinking.

"And this, ladies and geeks, is the Common Grounds. Punny, I know. But for the person on the go, which is everyone in New York, it's the place to go if you want a little perk in your step. And! It's cheaper than Starbucks."
The voice may sound familiar. But the fact that a semi-lanky guy with a camera held up to his face is making his way into the building and panning around the coffee shop could add to the familiarity. "Look! Coffee Cretins in their natural habitat! Here we see Denise McDaniels, a /dance/ major, polluting her body with this inane drink of champions."

The girl rolls her eyes and laughs as she pays for her latte and turns back to the camera person, shoving at his arm. "Za-ach!" She tosses a mock glare to the camera. "I know where you live, Mister."
Zach laughs and pulls the camera down. "I'm not kidding, you know. That stuff's bad for you."

"/You're/ bad for me."

Oh god. College Flirting.

As the college tour group comes in, the significant level in the ambient volume is enough to drag Claire out of her thoughts. She lifts her gaze, briefly, to regard them before slouching down a little further into her seat and her eyes beginning to follow suite.

Then she spies a very, very familiar face, and suddenly she just can't stop staring.

'That can't possibly be him,' she thinks to herself. 'This is New York. And he was in Texas.' Willfully pushing her gaze down, Claire tries to look at her hot chocolate. She fails, due in no small part to the sound of a lithe dancer calling his name. Within moments, her gaze is back up, looking at him all over again as she sits up straighter to get a better look. Maybe he doesn't recognize her. Maybe he doesn't want to. They're all very good reasons to not say anything. But there is no doubt that she is outright staring at him with wide blue eyes and both lips pulled in to lightly grip between her teeth as she tries to calm her unsettled stomach. If he sees her, maybe he'll give some sign that he knows her. That he'd even want to anymore. …Or maybe he'll make fun of her for staring at him and inform her that he is a total stranger and this is some cosmic sick joke of coincidence. Man, she likes Option 1 the best.

The camera's on for a moment, but Zach looks up from his flirting with the dancer to turn it off. He's a college guy now. That whole 'Fag' thing is pretty much over. Especially, well, considering the school that he goes to. And dancers? Well, they love a man with a big… lens. Ahem.
In the midst of turning off the camera, Zach ends up blinking as he catches the vision of a certain cheerleader out of his eye. Definitely can't be her. She was in Texas. This is New York. Cheerleaders don't come to New York and sit in cheap coffee shops and stare at him like he's just grown a second head.

"Oh. Em. Gee." Yes, he really did just say that. "Claire?!" And his possibly flamboyant side has come out as he closes the side of his camera and opens his arms ever so wide to rush over to where Claire is sitting. She better get up and hug him or there's going to be hell to pay.
As for the girl that he was talking to, she looks as if she was about to get huffy, but then remembers that it's Just Zach and she smiles anyway. Could also have something to do with the fact that Zach is all: "I haven't seen you in FOREVER!" So it's okay that he's bum-rush-hugging.

There's a giddy, girlish little squeal that escapes Claire's mouth as she deftly slips out of the chair that she had been occupying. Her shoulders scrunch up for a moment, and then her arms are stretched out tentatively. "Zach!" As soon as she finds herself in that fierce hug with her arms wrapped tightly about his neck, her eyes squeeze shut. She'll take a friendly face wherever she can get one.

Especially this one.

She lingers in that hug before she slowly starts to let go. Okay. So. Exuberant hug out of the way. …What do we do now? Awkward silence time? Maybe. She flashes a patently nervous smile on her lips.

Awkward silence? With Zach around? Not likely. He's always got something to say about something. And thus, the question comes out. "What are you doing in New York? Have you been mugged yet? How are you? Oh my god, look at your hair. Somebody's slumming it…" And this is all said in the straight voice that Zach has when he's not being gay. Because he's not gay today. Right? Still, he can hardly peel his arms from around Claire. Because she was totally his best friend for a while there and now she's here and he's all excited! "… Wait. Are you coming to NYU? You're here for Open House, aren't you?"

"I have another year. Haven't really had time to look at colleges." There's a tiny shrug of her shoulders, Claire more than happy to let Zach drive in the conversation. Her eyes roll as she continues, moving her hands to plunge with a strange nervousness into her pockets even as he still hugs on. Despite her body language, she confesses that it feels pretty darned amazing. Like a little piece of her life is magically being put back into place. "Things… have been a little crazy." To say the least. Then one hand comes up to check the headband that's currently pulling her straight hair back from her face. "And what's wrong with my hair?"

"Nothing. That was a Claire Test. You passed." Maybe old Zach has had some issues before her arrival. Maybe there's been some illusionary things. Or maybe he's just been thinking about her too hard and caused a few too many cases of mistaken identity. Either way, he's officially decided that this is, indeed, His Claire and that she's not about to go anywhere. "Crazy? In Odessa? You don't say." The sarcasm is deafening. "Well, if you're here, then you're about to be taken on a trip through even more crazy. And I don't know if even /you/ can survive New York." And now it's time to add things on to see if he can't give her the second part of the Claire Test: "/Wonder Girl/."

At the two last words out of Zach's mouth, Claire's smile fades and her eyes adopt a wide, petrified look for a moment. Her words are, however, decisive and unwaivering as she settles her face into an expression more stern. There is no playfulness as she tucks her chin shakes her head a little. He has to understand. "Don't. Seriously. Don't." You don't know the half of what's been going on in ClaireWorld.

Know who else doesn't know what's going on in ClaireWorld? Annabelle Bianco. But, then again, Annabelle doesn't know what's going on in ZachWorld, either. She doesn't know what's going on in any other world than her own. She's been tucked away at a table close to Claire and Zach's with her music turned up - some teenage music - and a mug of herbal tea right by her elbow, steaming hot and not yet ready to drink. She just got a refill. The book that she's reading to pass the time is propped open in front of her and she attempts to reach out to get that paper cup in order to test it. However, she's in a particularly engrossing chapter and doesn't want to turn away. So she gropes for the paper cup, inadvertently pushing it to the edge of the table until, swoosh it goes crashing to the ground, spraying boiling water ever. "Fiddlesticks!"

Screeching halt. That's what happens to the happiness that is in Zach's face. Is comes to a screeching halt and he falters for a moment, definitely not having the knowledge of what may have been happening to the cheerleader. He's not going to press matters, though, it seems as he just keeps one arm around here and nods. "Sorry. But you're filling me in later." He knows this isn't the place to talk about… things. ESPECIALLY WHEN THERE ARE SECRET COMPANY AGENTS TRYING TO KILL THEM WITH BOILING WATER OF DEATH.

Or it could've just been an accident. And considering that the agent just said 'Fiddlesticks', well, it just has to be an accident. "Oh man… that looks like it sucks." Perhaps a bit rude, but Zach has been in New York for a while.

Open toed shoes. Hot water. Not the recipe for Awesome Fun. But Claire is still entirely distracted by Zach and therefore can do nothing to prevent what is coming. "We need to get together," she agrees, not really promising anything beyond that. The arm around her waist is awesome, even though she doesn't seem to be reciprocating in any way, other than to allow it to remain.

And then there is a Witch Trial in progress. There's a hiss of pain as Claire quickly lifts her foot away from the liquid, only to twist it behind the other one with a rapid motion. Nothing to see here. In fact, there's so little to see that she smiles and quickly stoops with ankles still crossed to pick up the cup. Then she uncrosses her ankles so she can step out and set said cup on the table. "Here."

Scrambling, Annabelle pulls off her large earphones and rests them against the back of her neck, the music she was listening to faint, but still playing. The pages of the book she was reading quickly flip back to the cover page, the heavier cover slowly following after. "Oh my gosh, I am so so sorry." Grabbing an entire handful of napkins, she starts dropping them onto the floor and gingerly stepping on them to start to soak up the excess tea. Everything starts to smell like a blend of jasmine and something citrus-y. For her part, Anna looks mortified and genuinely remorseful. "You didn't get any on you, did you? I just wasn't looking where I was reaching and then it was everywhere." Blinking owlishly, she nods at Zach. "It does suck. You're right." There's no hint of irony or malice in her voice. Maybe she didn't catch the sarcasm, but she seems to be honestly agreeing with him.

Zach's not a jerk. He finds it hard to be a jerk. Just all with the Sarcasm. It comes from being from Texas and having to survive on the mean streets of New York without a guide to survival. Or a bodyguard. Hint, hint. "Hey, it's okay. Everybody has their days, right?" He certainly backs up a little bit to make sure that the tea doesn't get any more on him than it already has. His shoes are going to smell delicious for a couple days, probably. "You know, how bad are you burned, Claire? We could probably sue this place and turn it into something useful. Like… anything but a coffee shop." Oh wait. He forgot. SHE DOES NOT GET BURNED.

Zach may have forgotten, but Claire surely hasn't. That may become apparent as she shoots a DEATH GLARE in his direction and an overly tight upward curl of her lips. Can we not talk about this right now? Kay? Kay. Fortunately, her fabric shoes are black and the fact that one is now absolutely soaked is not easily discernable. As Claire turns her attention back to Annabelle, there's a friendly smile that lights up her face. "No, I didn't," she lies. She even kicks out one leg and gives a little shake of her dry, kitten heeled mule sandal as an example, letting it dangle off of her foot demonstratively. "See? Dry as a bone."

When Zach says that Claire's been burned, Annabelle looks crestfallen. And terribly worried. "Oh no! It didn't burn you, did it? Oh God, I'm so sorry, please don't sue me." She doesn't realize that by this place they mean the coffee shop and no their family. "I mean, if you've got to sue someone, you can sue my best friend's family. They're super rich and could probably afford it and the only reason I'm here is because they found me eating the last of their chicken tikka masala out of the fridge and they kicked me out. Anyway, her father is a lawyer, meaning he'd be able to get out of it, because he talks really fast about things I can't even begin to understand. Something about laceycorsets? What are laceycorsets?" Yes, she says it as if it is one word. And she's rambling because she's nervous. Then, the friendly smile brings a breath of relief and the young girl almost slumps against her chair. "Oh, thank God. I really am sorry. I can pay for your next coffee or something."

"Milk it." Zach says, nudging at Claire to shover her closer to Annabelle. He might as well get her some free coffee while she's visiting in New York. Which could be one good thing he's done to rectify all of the bad word-slipping he's been doing lately. As in, like the past five minutes. He keeps on a smile and even gets to looking down at his camera, to make sure everything is on the up and up. Can't have some boiling tea of doom shorting out his livelihood. That would be very bad for the upcoming semester.

Another glare. Not helping, Zach. "Really. It's okay." Just to show no hard feelings exist, Claire extends her right hand towards Annabelle with that smile still intact. "I'm Claire." Then there's a sideways tilt of her blonde head, jerking in the filmmaker's direction. "And that's Zach."

Eyes flicker between Zach and Claire. Annabelle isn't the most perceptive person in the world, and, in fact, she doesn't always pick up on the worse things in life, but something tells her something just happened between those two. It could be the fact that Zach is telling Claire to milk her for all she's worth. However, she can't believe he actually said that, so she'll just assume he means actual milk. Yes. "Hi. I'm Annabelle." She gives a confused and a little bit of a shy smile between the two of them. She's normally very friendly, but that's when she hasn't almost scarred the people she's meeting. "Nice to meet you. Other than the whole tea spilling thing. Really, if you go home and you find you that your toes have fallen off or something because of burns, we can work something out." How? She's not sure. But the offer is there.

"Told you to milk it." mutters Zach, but he's holding up his video camera to turn it back on. "Hold on." And as soon as the thing boots back up, he's turning it towards Annabelle, so that she can say that into the camera. "Okay, say all that again. I'd like to have a video documentation for the court of law." He then offers Annabelle a smile to show that he's mostly kidding, but continues to film. "Okay, this just in. Claire Bennett, my best friend, is in New York. Will she go to NYU? Or will she return to Odessa, Texas with her toes of tea-burned injustice…?"

Claire's eyes are wide for a moment, and then she finally snaps at him in irritation. "Zach." She just said her toes weren't burned. Stop! "I… I'm really sorry about him," she's quick to continue. Funny ha ha! This is all just a playful show! REALLY. TURN THAT THING OFF. "Apparently, all the excitement's gone right to his brain." And then she makes a move to try to cover up the lens of his camcorder with her hands.

What is she supposed to be saying to the camera? The moment the lens is pointed toward the red-head, Annabelle blinks and starts turning the shade of her hair. "Uh. Uh. H-hi? I'm Annabelle?" That's what he wanted her to repeat, right? Not her horrible verbal mess ups from before. He may be kidding, but that doesn't mean that she gets it. Finally, the camera is covered up with hands and the girl gives a big sigh of relief. Phew. That ordeal is over. "No, it's okay. I'm sure it'd kind of like a brain freeze." Taking her empty cup of tea, she taps the soaked napkins a few times with her feet and then crumples them up and shoves them all into it. "I should, uh, throw these out. Really sorry to interrupt or anything."

"Oh come on! This will get me an A! It's like Documentary Filmmaking! You can't /write/ stuff like this!" But then the lens is all covered up and he's lowering the camera and he's forced to turn it back off. Filming hands is not going to get him good grades. Unless there's some sort of artistic meaning behind it. "Look, I'm sorry. Really. I get a little crazy with the filming sometimes. It's like an addiction." He decides now is a good time to make a couple digs. "Like chocolate. or Cheerleading."

Talking over her shoulder to Annabelle, Claire restores that smile of hers. "Oh, no! You're not interrupting. At least, not any more than I am." Then? A thought. Her smile becomes wider to show a generous amount of pearly teeth as she turns to look the younger girl fully, a hopeful gleam shining brightly in her eyes. "If you have a pen, though, I think you'd end up being the hero of the day." A bookworm stands a good chance of having one of those, right?

After tossing the cup filled with soggy napkins in the trash, Annabelle plops right back down into her chair. The request is taken with measured seriousness. "I think so! Lemme check." She normally has a pen somewhere. Reaching for her backpack, the girl starts rooting around inside to try and find what she can find. Books, notepads, gum, Mary Poppins, she's got a lot of things in there. Finally, she just shakes it all out onto the table, a huge pile of paper and books and a wallet, all those things that a young girl deems necessary in order to keep existing. A tube of lipgloss bounces off the table and goes rolling somewhere. Finally, the last thing that falls out is a Bic pen, slightly chewed on, but still good. Pleased, she picks it up and holds it out. "Here you go!" Beggars can't be choosers. "Heroine to the rescue!"

"You rock," the blonde commends with a grateful smile as Annabelle indeed comes through, even as the vibrating phone in her pocket starts to ring, too. Quickly grabbing up the pen, Claire shoots out to take a hold of Zach's. And then, regardless of whether he's willing or not, she starts scribbling on the back of it. It's a phone number. "Look. We'll catch up. I… I gotta go. Call me." Once the contact information is thus inscribed on Zach's hand, Claire turns back around and lays the pen back on the table in front of Annabelle. "It was really nice to meet you. Maybe I'll see you around here again sometime!" As she turns to leave, there's another smile for Zach. It really is good to see him, and she pauses for a moment before throwing her arms around his neck once more. "And it was really good to see you, too." Alright. HUG DONE. At the speed of light — okay, not really, but it's really fast, Claire extricates herself and then grabs her cup of hot chocolate. And… it's cold. Ew.

Okay. So the cocoa isn't so much to go anymore as it is destined for the trash can. Which is exactly where she throws it as she practically scurries out the door. CLAIRE VANISH.

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