Notes: Another of the mini drabbles! Thanks for the comments, guys!
The Art of the Pick Up
(Prompt: based on a conversation Angelikah and I had re: pick up artists and fake accents. Rated K+)
"Is this seat taken?" Klaus asks, and the blonde he's been speaking to jerks to attention, her head snapping up from where it had been bent over her phone. Her eyes narrow and she gives him a very thorough once over.
Klaus is a little offended when she blows out an unimpressed breath and turns away, "Another one?" she says, into her wine glass, "Dear god I need to get out of this city."
It's far from the warmest invitation he's ever received but it's enough to further pique his interest. He slides on to the stool, returns the bartender's nod and scans the televisions over the bar. They're unfortunately all set to American football, which doesn't interest Klaus in the least. He glances at his neighbor, finds she's once again oblivious to anything but her phone. He leans over slightly, "I'm Klaus," he offers. "Can I buy you a drink? Or an appetizer, maybe? As thanks for your hospitality."
Her spine straightens, and she tosses her hair back, crossing her legs as she turns to face him. The smile she shoots his way lacks any warmth, sickly sweet and venomous. "Listen, Klaus. If that's your real name."
He's about to interrupt, offer to produce his driver's license (and perhaps a supporting document or two, just to be on the safe side) but the woman plows ahead. "I'm so not in the mood to be picked up. I don't know what it is about me that says 'Hey, garbage men, try your sketchy mind game-y lines on me' but I will figure it out. And you will all be sorry."
He finds himself staring at her, his mouth open as he tries to decide exactly how to respond. Where to even start? With the not entirely incorrect assumption that he was looking to chat her up? Or perhaps with the ominous bit at the end? Klaus settles on something neutral, "You've obviously had a rough night."
He'd assumed as much before he'd approached – she'd made something of an entrance. In a clingy blue dress and heels that made her legs something to marvel at, she's significantly overdressed for the quiet bar. She'd stomped in a half an hour ago with a storm cloud over her head, made a beeline to the bar, and had downed a shot as soon as it had been set in front of her. A second had quickly followed, a third waved away in favor of a glass of the glass of wine she's been nursing.
Several of the bar's patrons have been admiring her form but she's not paid them any mind. Klaus, never one to back down from a challenge, had decided to attempt to make her acquaintance.
The woman huffs out an aggrieved breath, "Look, in case you're totally missing the vibes here you have zero chance of getting into my pants. Or up my skirt, I guess. If you wanna get technical."
"I'd gathered," Klaus answers blandly. "But I'm invested now, you see. Won't be able to sleep tonight if I don't get your story."
She rolls her eyes but takes another sip of wine, her eyes sharp and critical. Klaus suspects she's itching to talk out whatever's bothering her and he's her only convenient, in person, option at the moment. After several moments where she seems to overcome an internal struggle she finally says, "I had a third date tonight."
He props his elbow on the bar, turning to give her his full attention. "Oh? I take it something went wrong? What did he do to rile you so?"
"That's kind of a long story."
Klaus lifts his half full tumbler of bourbon and takes a sip, "I'm in no hurry."
She relaxes slightly, her features growing less guarded. "So, the first two dates were pretty good. He was hot, apparently not a serial killer, practiced good hygiene. A little obsessed with classic cars and pomade but I figured I'd chalk it up to his being Italian, you know?"
He does his best not to smile, certain her prickliness would return if she suspected he was amused at her expense. Still, he can't resist teasing her, "You obviously had an intense connection. Why, is sounds like you were practically soulmates."
Her eyes narrow and he'd bet the contents of his savings account that she'd just considered to shoving him off his stool. "Listen, Mr. Judgemental, do you know how much dating sucks in this city? Sometimes a girl has to make concessions when she's sick of staying at home alone and overindulging in Halo Top on Friday nights. I wasn't going to marry the guy."
"I just moved here," Klaus tells her. "I do hope you're exaggerating. I'm not entirely sure what Halo Top is but the rest of it sounds bleak."
"Sure, you just moved here," the woman drawls, her tone heavy with skepticism. She adopts a truly atrocious approximation of his accent, "Just hopped across the pond, did you?"
Klaus is finding this conversation, her jabs, more and more mystifying. But he can't say he's not having fun. "I'd offer to prove it to you, my flat is more boxes than furniture at the moment, but I suspect you'd take such an invitation the wrong way."
"Damn right I would. Will you just drop the accent already?"
His mouth falls open again, a surprised laugh coming from him. "I suppose I could try. Did you have one you'd like me to attempt?"
She slams her hand on the bar top, leaning into his space, "Pop quiz time, which royal baby is the cutest?"
He's beginning to wonder if she'd had a few more drinks than he was aware of. Perhaps she'd been drunk when she'd arrived? Her bag looks too tiny to contain a flask and her gait, as far as he recalls had been perfectly steady but it's possible he'd missed the signs of intoxication.
Evidently he's taking too long to reply because she shakes her head sadly. She makes a harsh noise like a game show buzzer, "Ehhhh! Time's up. It was a trick question by the way. They're equally adorable with ridiculously squishable faces."
"I'm quite certain squishing the heir to the throne, or the spare, would be frowned upon."
She throws her hands up in frustration. "Ugh. I almost admire your commitment."
"What is it that you think I'm doing, love?"
"Oh, a pet name. Sure, that'll convince me."
"If you'd like to supply your real name, feel free."
"Nope," she denies immediately. "Not going to make anything easy for you. I've been doing some research."
Ah, that explained the laser focus on her phone. "On what subject?"
"Reasons why a guy would fake an accent. It's called peacocking and it is icky."
Klaus is rarely been at a loss for words. He's certain it's happened more over the course of this very odd conversation than ever before in his life. Despite the novelty he finds he has no desire to excuse himself. He'd been joking earlier, about being invested, but if he left now he'd wonder about this woman. Best to solve the mystery. "Peacocking," he repeats slowly. "I'm afraid I'm lost once more."
"Some showy, flashy thing to trick women into thinking you're interesting. Because apparently teeny tiny lady brains are attracted to sparkly things or something? Honestly, all the justification I read was evo psych bullshit. Most dudes have cottoned on to the fact that fedoras are a douche signal nowadays so they've gotten sneakier."
"With fake accents," Klaus says dubiously, just to be sure he understands things correctly.
She nods vigorously, her blonde curls swaying wildly. "We went for pizza. He ordered ham and pineapple. No actual Italian person would do that. Also, I might have misjudged his personality a bit. He's probably also evil."
"Because of the pineapple." This time he's not especially successful in trying to hide that he's having difficulty not laughing. Luckily, his fascinating new friend doesn't seem to notice.
"Exactly. I totally dodged a bullet."
Klaus shakes his head, his laughter spilling out as he takes in how serious she is. The woman looks peeved, her lips pressing into a thin line, but he fishes out his cell phone, tapping in his passcode before he hands it to her. Her brows creep up in surprise, "What am I supposed to do with this?"
"Up to you. I'd be happy to produce any number of pieces of government issued identification proving my nationality. And my name, since you were so skeptical. Klaus is technically a nickname but everyone who's not directly related to me uses it these days."
"Fake ID's are a thing."
She certainly is an insistent little thing. "I thought you'd say that. Which is why I gave you my phone. Feel free to call anyone you'd like. Most will confirm my identity. Not happily, since it's near 4 AM in England right now. And, word of warning, if you select my brother Kol I insist you not hold whatever undoubtedly crass offer he makes you against me."
She glances down at his phone, then at him once more, surprise etched plainly across her face. "You're serious? I can call anyone I want?"
"As long as you agree to endure me saying 'I told you so' afterwards. Over dinner. I find myself craving Italian."
She finally cracks a genuine smile, "Wow. You really want to go out with me even after I just poured out buckets of crazy?"
Klaus shrugs, "Apparently my options are rather limited in this city. And this is the most entertaining conversation I've had since moving."
She stares at him for a long moment, still assessing but in a way that's warmer than her earlier evaluations. Klaus takes it as a win. She hands him his phone back, "I'm Caroline. How about I buy you a drink?"
Klaus agrees immediately, of course. He's not stupid enough to waste the chance she's taking on him.