2007-02-22: Skin Deep


Noah_icon.gif Claire_icon.gif

Summary: A quiet evening at home in Costa Verde is broken by Claire's uncanny ability to hurt herself. Luckily, she's indestructible, right?

Date It Happened: February 22nd, 2007

Skin Deep

Butler Residence - Costa Verde, CA

It's evening in Costa Verde, and from the kitchen, there are rich aromas of chocolate and sugar wafting out into the rest of the house. Standing before the oven, Claire is impatiently peering through the glass window to inspect the cookies inside. There's a plate of cookies already cooling on the counter, decorated with the initials of her high school.

Times have changed, but in the Butler household women are still women, and men still take out the garbage. It's a quiet and balmy night, though the dark clouds piling up in the sky promise rain later on. "Hey Claire-bear," Noah says as he closes the door. "Something smells good."

There's a bright grin on her face as Claire looks up from the oven. "Cookies for the bake sale tomorrow," she informs him, sweeping up the plate of cookies as she circles around the counter. Balancing the plate on one hand, she offers them up to him as she slides an arm around his waist. She hugs him in this manner, still balancing the plate, her smile warm. "Want one?"

"Just one," Noah says as if he were the one indulging her. He puts one arm around Claire's shoulders, and reaches for a single cookie from the place. "How is school?" he asks, voice casual.

"Very school-like," Claire replies in her typical manner, sounding almost dismissive as she withdraws from her father and heads back to the counter with the plate of sweets. "Maddy wants me to try out for the cheerleading team." Before her father can even say anything to her, she adds: "I told her I had a bum knee." She continues speaking as she's pulling open the oven, checking on the cookies inside by reaching inside with a hand to poke at one experimentally. "I think she bought it." Dissatisfied, she closes the oven again, glancing back to Noah. "How's work?"

Noah's mouth opens to protest the cheerleading, but closes it with a nod of satisfaction. No cheerleading. Good. "Work-like," Noah answers, which is very different from what work-like used to be. "You know it's for your own protection," he adds.

"I know," Claire replies, waving a hand dismissively. "We had this talk. Four times." She doesn't sound all that frustrated, however, and she glances back to her father with a quick smirk as she heads back to the oven. "Don't worry." Which is about when there's a mishap. Because teenaged girls with an uncanny ability to hurt themselves should never say 'don't worry.' As she's opening the oven to take the sheet of cookies out (with a potholder, thank you!), some strange set of circumstances conspire against her. Everything is fine until she's pulling the cookies out, when she angles her hand the wrong way and brushes her knuckles against the side of the oven. She drops the cookie sheet back onto the grill by reflex, pulling her hand away from the oven sharply. "Ow! Son of a—"

A sound of pain is compelling even to the parent of an indestructable child. Noah takes a step forward before he remembers himself, and wears a half-smile. "Claire, are you alright?" There isn't a lot of worry in his tone. He looks down at her fingers.

This particular child ought to be indestructible, but when she withdraws her hand from the oven, it is anything but intact. She turns her back to Noah, leaning over her hand and hopefully blocking it from view. She winces, looking down at the burns and debating how best to proceed from here. …it's not an easy question. "I'm fine," she replies, sounding convincing enough, if it weren't for the fact that she's still fussing over her hand.

Noah blinks once, and the his small smile falters on his face, but not in his voice. "Are you sure?" His smile is back in place should she turn around, and he appears to be unconcerned.

With her back turned to Noah in such a manner, Claire can close her eyes and scrunch her nose without worrying as much about him watching as she contorts her face in pain. "F—" She seems to cut herself off, as if remembering that swearing would be wrong in this situation. Even if it's completely justified. "I think I got something in my eye," she explains, even rubbing at her eye with her good hand to prove it. See? She totally got something in there! "I'm just going to go look at it." She steps away from him then, headed for the hallway and the washroom beyond.

Manner radiating calm, Noah opens the cupboard under the sink to collect the garbage from there, efficiently tying a knot in the top. At a casual pace he walks outside, carrying it towards the trash cans waiting at the curb. The bag in place, he opens his cellphone and hits a few buttons while walking back towards the house. "Yes. Tonight." A short pause. "Oh, not quite that late," Noah says, looking up at the window to his daughter's bedroom. "I have work in the morning."

By the time she returns to the kitchen, the cookies have burned, and Claire is looking more and more frustrated with this entire situation. She takes advantage of Noah's absence to give the oven a good, solid kick without having to explain why. Being much more careful this time, she takes the cookie sheet out of the oven and sets it on top, the cookies clearly ruined. "Stupid," she hisses, still to herself. Her hand, for the record, certainly… /appears/ to be fine. There's nothing visibly wrong with it.

Noah goes about his evening business. Reading the newspaper, watching the news on TV, and then later Jeopardy. He doesn't ask about her hand again, and doesn't even so much as glance at it more than once. But he is omnipresent, at least while Claire remains downstairs. He just always manages to be around, waiting for everyone to head to bed.

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