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15 May 2011 @ 02:17 pm
Fic: Exes and Oh's  
Rating: PG
Word Count: 806
Disclaimer: Heroes characters belong to Tim Kring.
A/N: For the Plaude Bingo prompt "finding the perfect gift."
Summary: Claude attempts some gift-shopping for Peter, and gets a bad surprise.

In Claude’s opinion, when a man just wanted to be alone with his thoughts, there was nothing worse in the world than having a nosy empath around.

He’d thought they had an understanding. When he crammed himself into the far corner of the living room near the window, invisibility optional, that meant “don’t bother me.” It hadn’t seemed like a complicated concept. But then, he knew perfectly well Peter could complicate a piece of string, so it was really only a matter of time anyway.

After barely an hour, Peter dropped onto the sofa that faced away from the window and laid an arm across the back of it, chin propped on his bicep, looking at Claude with those ridiculous eyes of his. “Hey.”

Claude decided to keep his gaze trained outside, but had to acknowledge him with the slightest of hums.

“You’re quiet today.”

“You’re welcome.”

Peter chuckled softly, and Claude had to see that. The dipped head, the fall of dark hair and flicker of darker eyelashes. Then he remembered, and his stomach churned. He looked away. “Not the start of a trend, is it? It’s nice every once in a while, but...”

Claude sighed, “Too soon to tell, mate.”

“And what’s that supposed to mean?”

Claude shrugged, already busy marshalling his forces.

“Come on. You were fine this morning, then you went out after lunch and now you’re sitting here like you’re catatonic. It’s creeping me out. What happened?”

Should’ve gone to the park or somewhere, Claude belatedly realized. That’s what I get for bein’ in this mess though, ain’t it? Instincts’ve withered. “Was just shopping.” Even that came out as a confession. A simple action completed by hundreds of millions of people every day and to Claude it was as exotic as brain surgery. What’m I even doing here?

“And?”

“And I bumped into someone.” His heart actually hurt. That couldn’t be normal. He dared to glance at Peter’s confused face.

“Who?”

“James Brayford. Nice bloke, very congenial.” Claude gazed masochistically at Peter’s dawning realization. “He says hello.”

“Wow. James,” Peter said with a soft laugh, looking away, “I haven’t seen him since-”

“October, 2004. He remembers.” A wistful reverie in the stranger’s eyes, all Peter’s doing. Claude would’ve guessed he’d want to punch James, but all he’d done was feel tired. Alien.

Peter shook his head, “Wait, what- how did you run into James?”

Claude winced and fixed his eyes on the wall. It was perhaps the most pathetic part of the story. He sighed again, “Almost your birthday, isn’t it?”

“You were gift-shopping?” Peter’s tone dragged Claude’s eyes back to him. He was smiling- practically glowing with pleasant surprise and that was the entire problem right there and Claude knew it.

“Yeah,” he snapped, “An’ I was wandering around, no clue what to get, and here came dear helpful James, who knew exactly what you’d want when I could’ve searched for days and come up with nothing.” He huffed out a breath and pressed the back of his head to the wall. A hundred stinging thoughts swirled his mind, all patterned on a theme: I shouldn’t be here.

He remained motionless as he heard Peter stand and walk around the couch. When he sat down and put his cheek on Claude’s shoulder, he deigned to put his hand on Peter’s knee. “Claude, he’s an ex. Everyone has exes. He’s not here now, and I don’t want him to be. And he doesn’t know me anywhere near as well as you do. He couldn’t. You know that’s true.” He managed another tiny laugh, “It sucks meeting someone’s ex on your own. I’m sorry about that. But I’m actually a little glad too. You know he would’ve asked what I’ve been up to since I last saw him. What the hell would I tell him?”

Claude frowned. “So, being with me... that just saves a lot of awkward explanations.”

Peter did laugh then, “You’ve never seen a glass half full in your life, have you? I’m impressed.” He reached up and took Claude’s cheek in his palm, turning him to face the other man, “If you think I don’t have enough awkward explanations in my life, then you haven’t been paying attention for the past three years or so.”

Claude had to give him that one. He felt some tension ease out of his body. He closed his eyes and let his forehead fall to Peter’s.

“Better?”

“Somewhat.”

“Okay. So what’d you get me? Did you follow James’ advice?”

Claude lifted his head and rolled his eyes with a scoff, “You think I’d do anything that idiot said? Managed to get himself dumped way back when- give me a little more credit.”

Peter cracked up, and burrowed into Claude’s chest, wrapping his arms around him. “You’re impossible.”

“That makes two of us.”
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Jenngingerberrysnap on May 21st, 2011 10:51 pm (UTC)
Perfect summations of Peter and Claude:

But then, he knew perfectly well Peter could complicate a piece of string, so it was really only a matter of time anyway.

And...

“You’ve never seen a glass half full in your life, have you? I’m impressed.”

This was really sweet. For some reason, I enjoy Meeting the Exes fic. Though I do wonder how Claude and James figured out they shared a mutual boyfriend. ;)
formerly rainne83: joynesslotus0kid on May 22nd, 2011 12:11 am (UTC)
Thank you! I was kind of planning to intercut flashbacks of Claude's ex-encounter, but I chickened out. I'd say it went something like James asking questions about the person Claude's gift-shopping for, and somehow Peter's name slipping out, and James immediately putting the pieces together and getting all misty-eyed abou the one that got away.
I had fun once and it was awfulvisiblemarket on May 22nd, 2011 03:09 am (UTC)
Aw, I always love quiet domestic moments with an undercurrent of angst.

After barely an hour, Peter dropped onto the sofa that faced away from the window and laid an arm across the back of it, chin propped on his bicep, looking at Claude with those ridiculous eyes of his.

Aside from that being an adorable image (and it is), I'm honestly kind of impressed with Peter being able to leave Claude to sulk for a whole hour.

“You’re quiet today.”

“You’re welcome.”


*snort* Loved that. Because I'm sure there are times when Peter would very much like him to shut up, and yet once he does, it only freaks him out.

Anyway, this was great!
formerly rainne83: joynesslotus0kid on May 22nd, 2011 03:16 am (UTC)
And Plaude does them so well. ^^

Well, he has learned that Claude needs his sulking time every now and then.

Eeexcept when he can tell it's something more than just sulking, and he gets worried, the softie.

Thanks!
I had fun once and it was awfulvisiblemarket on May 22nd, 2011 03:28 am (UTC)
Plaude does them spectacularly, which may be at least part of the appeal.

I know, but in between the two of them, the sulking can probably get a little bit silly.

Also I kind of want to know what Claude bought him.
formerly rainne83: joynesslotus0kid on May 22nd, 2011 04:06 am (UTC)
Undoubtedly.

*snort* It wouldn't even be a story, but the image of them having marathon sulks off in different corners of the apartment is beyond hilarious.

You got me. Reader's choice.
game_byrdgame_byrd on May 27th, 2011 08:22 pm (UTC)
Thanks for sharing. It's been a while since I've read Plaude.
formerly rainne83: joynesslotus0kid on May 27th, 2011 09:48 pm (UTC)
Thanks for reading! Hope you find some more time for Plaude in the future.
(Deleted comment)
formerly rainne83: joynesslotus0kid on November 17th, 2012 05:30 pm (UTC)
Thanks very much! Dang, didn't know anyone was still reading these. Anyway, Claude is such a charming mix of bravado and insecurity, I love it.

Heh, just wait until one/both gets hungry- passive aggressive fun in the kitchen!