****Just a shout out to a few people. Riana, Haruka, Gail, mightyheart, Sanetwin and her insanetwin: You guys are awesome. Thank you so much for your continued support; you have no idea how much it means to me. Thanks to everyone for their reviews, and I'm sorry this chapter took so long. A few of you I've talked to already know this, but I am in the process of starting back up with school. Classes actually started today, so... until I get more situated, my updates might not be quite as speedy as they used to be. Thanks for your patience :)****
"Mmmm… this one?"
"Damnit," Elle grumbled as she held the can out in front of her. She studied it intently before she turned to Claire with the most adorable pout on her face, "But it's purple?"
Claire snorted. "Put it back, Elle."
Elle continued to pout as she shuffled back over to the shelf and returned the can to its' spot. Ah… spontaneous grocery shopping date, Claire chuckled and shook her head as she reached the end of the isle. They had been there for two hours already and they weren't even finished with her mom's grocery list. She hadn't expected it to take this long, but bringing Elle to a foodmart was like taking a kid to Disney World.
"Hmmm," Elle skipped out ahead of her and was already turning down the very next isle.
"Elle, we don't need anything from that section," Claire told her calmly.
Elle only scoffed, "Well, how do you know until you look?" She ignored Claire, once again, and continued down the isle, leaving the shorter blonde to stare after her. Claire rolled her eyes and shook her head, but followed the girl anyway with a small grin. She got the feeling she'd do anything to keep that gorgeous smile on the older blonde's face.
Claire watched as Elle bounced around from shelf to shelf. She is too easily entertained, she thought while Elle started examining the different flavors of coffee. It's a wonder she gets anything done… she'd probably be distracted by a hole in the wall. Claire chuckled at her thoughts as she slowly pushed the cart behind the other girl. It wasn't like she was complaining, no no… far from it. The longer she was in Elle's company, the better. She could never grow tired of watching the girl. Speaking of… Claire let her eyes drop to take in Elle's form for possibly the tenth time since they arrived.
Mm, yeah… can never tire of that.
Elle was oblivious to Claire checking her out, of course. The icy blue eyes were trained on cookies now. Claire smiled softly as she took in the other girl's outfit. She was slightly disappointed when Elle had arrived more casually dressed rather than in one of her fine business suits, but Claire would take this, too. It was very similar to the outfit she wore to the carnival: loose fitting t-shirt accompanied by pants that were almost too big for her. For some reason Elle still wore baggy clothes… Claire guessed after so many years they just became more comfortable. Claire let her eyes roam over the girl again. She had on a faded band tshirt along with worn and torn khakis that could have easily been bought from a second hand store, but they looked good on her. Of course, Claire would probably find a garbage bag attractive on the older blonde.
Claire's eyes lowered and she found her gaze glued to the waistline of the pants. They were slightly tattered but hugged the girl just right; hanging low on her slender hips and leaving Claire to wonder just how easily they could be pulled off … Ugh, Claire squeezed her eyes shut, bad thoughts… bad thoughts!
Claire was never what most people considered a "typical teen". Of course, being raised by an adoptive family… and the fact that she was otherwise immortal… probably played a big role in that. She wasn't like other girls. She didn't sneak out past curfew or get mixed up with drugs or boys. She had crushed on Brody for several months, yeah, but, despite his efforts, Claire was one of the few girls in her class who still had her virginity intact. She told herself she was waiting… waiting for the right person to come along. She had thought that person was Brody, but then, of course, he had shown her a different side to himself. Even before that, though, when she was still convinced he was this great guy… she had no overwhelming desire to sleep with him. She didn't understand the girls who would practically drool whenever he walked past… She didn't understand the desperation her classmates shared to have a "piece" of him…
Maybe I really am gay…
Because even though she never had those lustful feelings for Brody… they definitely began to manifest themselves whenever the electric blonde was around.
Claire didn't understand it.
She was a perfectly calm, laid back teen with amazing control over her hormones… that is until Elle walked into a room. When she did… Claire's eyes would immediately take in the gentle swing of her hips, or the hair that fell across the sensual curve of her neck… then Claire wasn't so fine. Her heart would start pounding against her chest, her palms would suddenly start to sweat… all the while butterflies swarmed around in her stomach, leaving her knees to the point of almost buckling underneath her.
When Elle was around… she was just like any other hormonal teen… daydreaming about sex.
A throat cleared in front of her.
Claire snapped out of her trance, a blush swiftly coloring her face as she realized she'd still been staring at the older blonde's hips. Swallowing hard, she looked up to find Elle's questioning gaze. Probably thinking something was wrong with her outfit, the taller girl glanced down at herself before meeting Claire's eyes again, raising her eyebrows at the younger blonde. Claire gave her a small, tight smile and shook her head. Elle's expression relaxed a bit, but she pursed her lips to the side as if contemplating something. Without breaking eye contact, Elle's right hand slowly reached out and pulled a box of oatmeal cream pies from the shelf, holding them out to the young cheerleader.
Claire bit her lip and slowly bent forward to rest her head on the cart, letting out a tired laugh. "Nooo, Elle," she finally said, still chuckling softly under her breath.
"Damnit!" Elle cursed and tossed the box back on the shelf.
Claire lost herself in a fit of giggles then, staying in her same position as she leaned against the cart, exhausted, her face pointed towards the worn linoleum tile. She heard soft footsteps approaching as she slowly reigned in her laughter. Biting on her lip, she watched while a pair of ragged converse sneakers stepped up next to hers. "Are you… laughing at me?" Elle spoke quietly.
The muscles of her stomach started to cramp in protest as she fell into her laughing fit again.
"Ohhh," Claire said, chuckling, while she straightened back up and leaned against the cart close to Elle. "You are just adorable," she responded, grinning ridiculously as an unexpected wave of giddiness washed over her.
Elle sighed softly, relenting. "I am pretty adorable," she agreed seriously before meeting Claire's gaze again and returning her grin. Claire laughed.
Mmm, she thought, absently reaching up to tuck some yellow blonde hair behind the taller girl's ear as she gazed at her adoringly. Elle scrunched up her nose and gave her an 'aren't I cute?' smile. Claire chuckled and shook her head, tugging on the girl's hair gently before moving to push the cart forward again. Elle fell into step behind her and reached out to grab the cart on either side of the shorter girl, helping her push it along while she pressed in close behind her. Claire smiled softly and relished in the nearness of the electric blonde, shivering every so often when Elle's front accidentally brushed across Claire's back. Hmmm, she thought absently as she slowed to a stop next to the breads. She took the opportunity to lean back against Elle while she studied the different brands. Now this is what I call shopping, she sighed contentedly.
Claire tried to take advantage of the older girl's presence as much as she could. It was hard dating this strikingly beautiful woman but not being able to show her off. Almost five days had passed since the first night they kissed, and although she'd seen Elle almost every day since, it was only for brief periods of time. They had to hide from everyone; from her father, from Elle's father, even from the people at school… No one could know about them without it getting back around to their parents.
Claire let out a slightly weary sigh as she thought back over the last week.
They had texted, sure, but aside from that, they were only able to spend the short amount of time it took Elle to drive her home from school every day together. Of course, they'd hang out in her car for a little longer to, uh… make up for lost time, but it wasn't enough for Claire. Ten minute make out sessions every day hardly qualified as a relationship. Claire bit her lip then as she leaned her head back against Elle's shoulder. They hadn't even been together for a week… but that was the fun part about being in a new relationship. Everything was new to them and they should be spending all their available time together. She didn't want to rush things, but at the rate they were going, they wouldn't have a real date until Claire graduated from high school.
She sighed again and picked out some bread before moving on to the next isle; Elle following behind her silently.
At least Elle came to the football game, Claire smiled at the memory. They hadn't spent a lot of time together since the carnival, but seeing Elle sitting in the stands when they got ready to do their first cheer… Claire had felt her heart lodge in her throat. Jackie eventually had to nudge her to make her snap out of her daze and start the cheer. Elle had smiled at her then, and every moment Claire looked up into the stands after that, she was sure to find the electric blue eyes trained on her. Up until that night, Elle had still been kind of hesitant about the kissing thing. Whenever they were in the company car together, it was usually Claire that initiated the heavy kissing and petting. But that night… Elle had apparently become too comfortable with it.
Claire and her friends had dashed off to the concession stand during halftime, and as they were waiting in line, Claire spotted a flash of bright blonde hair moving to the side of the building. She quickly spouted a little white lie about needing to pee before she turned and followed Elle into the bathroom… where the taller blonde promptly decided to lay one on the cheerleader while pressing her gently against the wall. Claire had gasped and quickly held Elle back at arm's length while the few spectators looked between them with widened, shocked eyes. Luckily Claire didn't recognize any of them, but the awkwardness in the small space quickly arrived at a suffocating level as the other women hurriedly excused themselves and dashed out.
Needless to say, Claire and Elle had a long conversation afterwards about the difference between secret make out sessions and Public Displays of Affection.
Claire chuckled quietly to herself which earned her a curious glance from Elle. Claire laughed again at her expression before shaking her head.
She had almost jumped for joy when her mom asked her to go grocery shopping that afternoon. It was the weekend, and although Claire had tried to convince Elle to slip in through her window the night before, the older girl had refused; insisting that it was too risky with Noah downstairs. Claire had sighed but agreed. She was beginning to fear she wouldn't see the girl at all during her break from school when she found the perfect opportunity:
As soon as she left the house, she was calling Elle, telling her to meet Claire at their gas station. Ten minutes later, Elle was slipping into her mom's SUV and they were off… to the shopping center just a little ways outside of town. There was a store closer by, but she figured it would be better this way… they'd run into fewer people they knew.
And her plan had turned out fantastically… aside from Elle getting distracted by every other item on the shelves.
"Mmm," Elle stated behind her. She turned her head slightly to see Elle's gaze had fallen on the donut section. Oh, here we go…
Elle let out an exasperated sigh when she noticed Claire's expression. "Ugh, I just… want to look at the sugary halos, Claire Bear," she said, using her childhood nick name. Claire rolled her eyes in response.
"Fine," she gave in, noticing that the fruit section wasn't too far off. She could get her mom's bananas while Elle hugged the glass case full of pastries. "Just look though," Claire said, giving her a stern look. She'd really hate it if Elle were thrown out because she was giving herself 'free' samples. "I'll be over in the fruit section" she finished, nodding farther down the way.
Elle nodded, a bright smile blossoming on her face before she skipped away. Claire gave a small snort of laughter before turning away from the girl.
Okay, bananas, Claire looked down at her list and was glad to see that was the last item she needed. She wandered aimlessly through the fruit section while her eyes sought out the flash of yellow and green. Hmmm bananas, she repeated again, unaware that she'd silently started singing the Gwen Stefani song in her head... B-A-N-A-N-A-S!
Ah, there you are, she thought as she quickly grabbed a handful. She started to inspect them closer to see which ones her mom would prefer when the sound of laughter caught her attention. It wasn't Elle's laugh, that was for sure, but it seemed to be coming from the donut section. Claire casually glanced over the variety of shelves until her eyes spotted the electric blonde hair.
Elle, of course, was completely facing the case of pastries, resting her hands on the glass like that would somehow bring her closer to the sugary goodness. Behind her though… was a shorter girl, her dark hair pulled back into pigtails. Upon inspection, Claire noted that the girl was wearing an apron… She must work in the deli section, Claire decided but the thought quickly drifted from her mind when she took note of just how close she was standing to Elle… her Elle. Claire felt her lips tighten ever so slightly and her brow furrowed. The electric blonde seemed to be indulging the stranger in conversation, but it was clear to Claire that the donuts were her first priority. This other girl however… Claire studied her stance; her hips jutting out ever so slightly while her hands rested in her back pockets… and the smile she wore? Claire watched on as the girl took another tiny step forward to whisper something in Elle's ear. Oh yeah… she's definitely flirting.
Claire threw the bananas into her cart and quickly started to storm back over to the donut section.
As she watched on, the girl laughed at something Elle said again while reaching out to touch her arm lightly. Who the hell does she think she is? Claire fumed as she came to an abrupt halt beside the girl. She jumped, startled, as her eyes came to rest on a very livid Claire… and Elle, of course, was still in her own world.
Claire shot daggers at the girl with her eyes, causing the short brunette to blush furiously and duck her head down in shame… but not before dropping her eyes and taking in Claire's form as well. Really? She thought, disgusted. The girl seemed to mutter some apology before quickly shuffling off, leaving an oblivious Elle to drool over the donuts. Claire sighed and relaxed a bit as she turned her gaze to the unsuspecting woman's back. Without really thinking about it, she took a step forward and slipped her arms around the girl's waist while resting her head on her shoulder. Elle tensed at the contact, but relaxed when she noted it was Claire attached to her. The taller girl sighed quietly and leaned back into Claire's embrace; Claire smiled softly.
After standing there for a few moments she raised her head to speak into the girl's ear. "Would you like to get some donuts for the road?" she asked quietly, hoping that the low volume of her voice would somehow lessen the level of excitement she knew she was about to witness.
Elle practically jumped out of Claire's arms to turn around to face the shorter girl, beaming with excitement. "Really?" she asked, bouncing on her toes.
Claire laughed at her reaction and nodded, "Yes yes, now hurry up."
Elle squealed and hurriedly grabbed a plastic bag before chunking more than a few donuts into it. Claire rolled her eyes and proceeded to lead the girl away to check out. She was ready to get out of there… Not that she was eager to leave Elle's company, no no, but because she was planning a little… detour on their way back into town.
Once they were in the car, Elle had immediately stuffed an entire donut into her mouth… of course, choosing that time to ask if Claire wanted one. She had to repeat herself a few times as Claire couldn't hear the muffled question through the donut and her own laughter. Oh Elle…
They drove for several minutes in silence while Elle munched happily on her treat. Claire smiled softly to herself as her destination came into view. Starting to chew on her lip anxiously, she quickly pulled into the abandoned gas station parking lot.
"Hmm," Elle glanced around the setting. "This isn't our gas station," she concluded, a question in her tone.
"I know," Claire responded, smirking softly to herself as she pulled behind the gas station and parked the van out of the view of the street.
Elle scrunched her eyebrows together and looked over to Claire with mock terror in her eyes. "Are you going to kill me now?" she asked.
Claire snorted. "Shut up," she said and quickly climbed over the van's console to pull herself onto Elle's lap. Elle immediately accommodated the position by releasing the back of the seat, letting it fall backwards while she laid back, pulling Claire on top of her.
Claire didn't need any further invitation.
"Mmm," she moaned softly as her mouth finally came into contact with Elle's. She had wanted to kiss the girl all day; her lips just as soft and inviting as the cheerleader thought they would be. Claire combed her fingers through the taller blonde's hair and pushed in closer, tasting the sugar on the other girl's lips. She normally tasted just wonderful by herself, but now Claire could detect the small traces of sugar still left on her. Mmm, she thought, Sugar coated Elle…
Claire tentatively slipped her tongue out to run it across Elle's bottom lip which elicited a tiny moan from the older girl. Claire grinned smugly before deepening the kiss, quickly tangling their tongues together. "Mmm, Elle," she moaned the other girl's name softly as Elle's hands found their way to her hips and squeezed softly, causing an unexpected shudder through the shorter blonde's tiny frame. Mm yeah, just keep doing that, Claire's mind screamed as she gripped onto the electric blonde hair, tugging on it softly. The move brought on another moan from the taller girl's mouth and she responded by slipping her hands under Claire's shirt, scratching her back softly. Claire momentarily broke away from Elle's lips to catch her breath, "Ugh, God Elle." She tugged on the girl's hair again, tilting her head back while Claire promptly attacked Elle's neck with her mouth.
"Mmph, Claire," Elle's voice was soft and cracked slightly on Claire's name. It stirred something inside the cheerleader which made her press in even closer against the taller girl's body, claiming the girl as her own. Claire bit the side of her neck softly, causing a small whimper to fall from Elle's lips before quickly kissing the spot to make it better. Elle swallowed hard and slowly started to slide her hands up Claire's back, taking in the smooth expanse of skin under her fingers while her hands crawled higher and higher, pulling Claire's shirt with them. Claire shivered at the cool air now on her exposed back and stomach and reached down to help Elle pull her shirt off-
Because your love, your love, your love-is my druuug. Your love, your love, your looove.
Elle groaned and flopped her head back against the seat while Claire muttered a curse and reached back over the console to grab her phone. "You really need to turn that off," Elle grumbled bitterly.
Claire sighed and nodded at Elle's frustrated expression, "I know I know." She quickly answered the phone and held it up to her ear, "Hello?"
"Claire? Thank goodness," Zach's panicked voice came through the phone.
"Zach?" Claire asked, picking up the note of urgency in his voice, "What's going on?" She looked down at Elle to see an agitated look on her face. Claire quickly leaned down to peck her on the lips before sitting up again and pulling her shirt back down. Elle grumbled.
"Claire, I… Please don't hate me, but I lost it," Zach spilled out.
Lost? Lost what? Claire wondered. She was about to ask when a hand slipped back under her shirt to pet her stomach. Claire gave Elle a look and placed her own hand on Elle's forearm in an attempt to cease the movement. It didn't work.
"What did you lose, Zach?" Claire asked, her eyes slightly fluttering closed as Elle's hand moved to trace the waistline of her pants. Mmm... wait, is someone trying to talk to me?
"Claire, are you there?" Zach's voice cut back into her thoughts.
"Huh?" Claire said, focusing on her phone again. Elle snickered. "I'm sorry, Zach, what did you lose?"
"The tape, Claire," Zach said exasperated, "Have you not been listening? The tape! You know, the one where you're trying to kill yourself like twenty times?"
Claire heart constricted painfully and her stomach dropped. "WHAT?" she shouted into the phone, making Elle jump and stop her teasing.
"I'm sorry, Claire, I'm so sorry," Zach continued, "I don't know what happened! I mean, I never took it out of my video camera, but my camera is sitting on the desk and the tape is nowhere to be found!" He groaned, "I've searched everywhere, Claire."
Claire took a few deep, calming breaths while she rubbed her forehead, "Okay… okay, well, just keep looking for it." She let out a shaky breath, "You have to find that tape, Zach."
Zach sighed, "I know… I know. Maybe I left it in my locker or something, I don't know." He paused before continuing, "I'll look for it."
Claire nodded even though he wouldn't be able to see it. "Alright," she started, "Keep me updated." She hung up without waiting for a response and deflated; her shoulders and head slumping forward while she let her arms fall useless on Elle's stomach.
"Claire?" Elle asked after a moment.
Claire bit her lip and looked up to see Elle's concerned expression. The older girl reached out and slowly rubbed her arms. Claire sighed in defeat and swallowed gently before starting. "Zach lost the tape," she said softly.
Elle's eyebrows scrunched together in confusion. "What tape, Claire?" she asked, worry slipping into her voice.
Claire sighed again and leaned forward to drop her head against Elle's shoulder. "The tape…" she started again, "When I was first discovering my ability, my friend Zach and I made a tape… of me trying to kill myself."
Elle gasped and shot up, pushing Claire back against the dash. "You did what?" she shouted.
Claire bit her lip hard, feeling tears starting to well up in her eyes. "It was just an experiment… I knew I wouldn't get hurt."
Elle let out a disbelieving scoff. "If it was an experiment, Claire, you couldn't have been absolutely sure that you would survive, now could you?" she started, her eyes filling with disappointment, "What were you thinking?"
Claire bowed her head then, sniffling softly. Elle, hearing this, sighed softly and shook her head, trying to get a reign on her emotions. After a moment she wrapped her arms around the trembling girl and hugged her close. Claire welcomed the hug and squeezed herself as close to the older girl as she could, feeling safer in her arms. Elle buried her face in the honey blonde hair while she thought quietly for a moment. "And now this Zach guy has lost the tape?" she asked quietly. Claire nodded gently against her shoulder. Elle sighed again, but started to rub the cheerleaders back, hoping to soothe her.
"I'm sure everything will be fine, Claire," she started, "We better get you home though before your dad decides to track us down."
Claire nodded absently, still biting down on her lip as she extracted herself from Elle's hold. Climbing back over into her seat, she started the van and headed back into town. They rode in silence. Claire could feel the older girl watching her, but she didn't take her eyes off the road. After a moment Elle finally relaxed back into her seat, staring off into the distance with glazed eyes.
She reached over and took Claire's hand and held it tight. "Everything's gonna be okay," she heard the older girl say softly. Claire gulped and nodded. Right, she told herself... but she couldn't help wondering what would happen if that tape were to fall into the wrong hands...
A/N: Mwaha. What did y'all think?