The problem with being Claudia was that she had this mix of being loud, obnoxious and obvious, and being quiet and in the corner going for her.
She supposed this was why she was so good at observing what went on in the warehouse, why she knew about Helena and Myka before even Leena and why she knew Artie was lonely before he ever admitted it.
It was also why she noticed Pete pouting in the main room of the bed and breakfast and made her way over to ask him, "Hey, Pete, what's up?"
He made a noise of surprise and jumped, eyeing her. "Geez, Claud," he said. "Way to sneak up on a guy."
She shrugged. "It's a talent." She walked over to him and the sofa. "What's up?" she asked again.
"Nothing," he said and the smile he gave her was falsely bright. "What about you?"
"Worried about you." She sat down next to him. "Wanna talk?"
"No." He looked down at his knees and picked at his fingers. "Maybe."
"Pete," she said.
He sighed. "It's my fault Myka got pregnant."
There was a long pause and then Claudia said, "Myka's pregnant?! You got Myka pregnant?!"
"No!" squeaked Pete. "No! Didn't we tell you? Um! Last week, there was... a thing and I touched the thing and Myka was like...!" He gestured a big stomach. "And pregnant!"
She stared at him. "So you didn't knock Myka up?"
"No!" he said again.
"All right then." She leant back against the sofa and watched him for a moment. "But you wished you had?" He shrugged a little and she frowned. "So... you want to have babies with Myka?"
"Yeah," he said. "Well, no. But... yeah. I mean. She's like my best friend? Almost a sister! But... she shares this crazy life with me and I'm getting older. Who am I going to meet that likes me and knows about this place and wants to be with me like that?" He sighed. "I already used my one person up."
"You need someone who already knows about the warehouse then," said Claudia.
"And we're back to Myka," said Pete, "except I don't like her that way. There's Myka, Leena, you... Oh, hey, Mrs. Frederick."
Claudia snorted at that but her mind was looping on you. "I understand why not Myka and Mrs. Frederick," she said, "but..."
Pete shrugged. "I don't think Leena's interested and we both know you're not," he said.
She looked at him sharply and stared at him.
He blinked at her. "What?" he said.
"You just assume that I'm not interested!" she exclaimed.
"Are you?!" he said.
There was a resounding moment of silence and then she said, "Maybe," and looked away, crossing her arms.
This could go one of two ways, she figured. One, Pete would tease her for life, starting now, or two, he'd be a sweetie about it and let her down easy. She wasn't sure which was worse, but it turned out he didn't go with the first option.
"You like me?" he said.
"Sure," she said and looked at him. "I mean, I'm not wanderin' around carrying a giant flaming torch with your name on it, but yeah. I like you. You're cute and you're funny and you know what we do. You're not the only one that sees a giant chasm of time stretching out in front of you with no one to be with because you're either too crazy or they don't know about the warehouse."
"Giant chasm of time?" he questioned.
She shrugged and looked down.
"Claud," he said, because when she was quiet it was a bad thing. "Claud." He reached out and with gentle fingertips on her chin turned her to face him. "You're beautiful, intelligent, funny... Any guy would be lucky to have you."
She met his eyes. "Yeah?"
He smiled a little. "Yeah," he said.
She swallowed and didn't break eye contact as she asked, "Are you feeling lucky?"
He seemed nervous as he said, "Yeah," again and brushed his lips to hers. She closed her eyes, placed a gentle hand on the back of his head and kept the kiss going, kissing back and pressing against him just a little.
He ran his hands around to her back, pulling her closer with his warm palms just below her shoulder blades and she went willingly, parting her lips and kissing him some more. She'd just lifted up to her knees for a better kissing angle when she shoved him away, grabbed him by the front of his shirt and said, "I'm not making babies with you."
He laughed. "That's okay," he said, then paused. "Ever?"
She faltered. "No," she said. "But definitely not now."
He grinned. "That's okay," he said again. "I can wait."
"This isn't just because you can't have anyone else?" She felt the need to check.
He kissed her again, just gently. "Nah," he said. "Nah, Claud. It's because I just want you."
She smiled, placed a soft hand on the side of his head and kissed him again.