HIDE AND SEEK

A Relic Hunter One-Shot

by serennog

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Summary: In which Nigel hides, a student seeks, and Claudia gets even. Nigel/Claudia friendship and humour.

Disclaimer: Just borrowing some much-loved characters for my own unprofitable amusement. Don't mind me.

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"You should go for green. Not mallard, or pea – but the snazzy lime. Y'know. Eye-catching. It's the new pink, apparently." Claudia adjusted the phone in the crook of her neck and examined her newly-filed nails. "And it'll totally suit your complexion." At that moment, the office door was yanked open and in stumbled a dishevelled Nigel Bailey, gasping as though he'd just run a marathon.

"Uh… I'm sorry, ma'am – you have the wrong number. Bye!" Claudia quickly set down the receiver, inwardly hoping Ashley remembered the protocol, before turning to her superior with the most innocent smile she could muster. "Nigel?" He startled in his place reclined against the now-closed door, apparently having forgotten he'd burst into an occupied room. Claudia didn't bat an eyelid, however. This was becoming an all-too-common occurrence.

"Claudia…" He blinked, pushed himself off the door and eyed it as though it would swallow him whole. "She's coming!" he hissed. Before Claudia could ask any questions, he'd dashed towards her and crouched behind her desk. There came a knock at the door as it slowly inched open, revealing a girl who looked like she might have dressed herself blindfolded. She glanced timidly around before her eyes settled on Claudia. The blonde smiled encouragingly. Not everyone had the gift of good fashion sense, after all.

"Yes?"

"Oh… uh…" She blinked owlishly – eyes magnified to bug-like proportions by a pair of unfortunate tortoiseshell spectacles. "Have you seen Doctor Bailey? I was sure he came this way."

Claudia's gaze drifted to the man sitting with knees drawn up to his chest beside her crossed legs. He looked back, gesturing 'no' with vicious slashing motions to his neck.

"He's… not here," Claudia hesitantly assured. Her continued smile was starting to make her cheeks ache. "Not here at all. Not anywhere in this room." She heard Nigel quietly groan. "He must have bypassed."

The girl's face was blank – something Claudia couldn't decide was good or bad. "Oookay." She daintily sniffed, reached to push the glasses further up her nose. "Could you tell him I'm looking for him?"

"Mm-hmm." Claudia nodded.

Miss Fashion-faux-pas didn't move, but gave the secretary a look that took her back to the High School algebra classes she preferred remain in the recesses of her mind. "The name's Dorothy Almens. You might want to write it down."

Claudia's smile wavered. "Oh, I have a very good memory." Nigel snorted - a little too loudly.

"What was that?" Dorothy's head was cocked like that of a dog who'd caught the distant ring of a paperboy's bicycle. Nigel visibly paled - both hands clamped over his mouth to suppress further noise - and Claudia decided then to indulge in a little payback. No-one laughed at her less-than-impeccable mental retention and got away with it.

"Oh, that?" She ignored Nigel's 'don't you dare' glare, smirking as she leaned down to pat his head. "The pooch-in-a-purse is all the rage right now." Nigel batted her hand away with a growl that was surprisingly convincing.

Dorothy lifted a sardonic, unplucked brow, but seemed to have bought it. "Uh-huh. Just tell him I need to speak with him. It's urgent." That said, she made her exit – a flurry of tweed and God-knows-what other unsavoury fabrics – leaving Claudia glaring at the spot she'd recently occupied.

"Is she gone?" asked Nigel, finally, in a stage whisper.

Claudia let out a little shriek of annoyance, completely ignoring her companion. "'Write it down'? Seriously?"

"Charming, isn't she?" said Nigel with forced cheer, rising to his feet.

Claudia scowled at him as he dusted off the butt of his pants. "You owe me, Nigel. Big time."

The teaching assistant scoffed in disbelief. "Owe you? You nearly gave the game away!"

Narrowing her eyes, Claudia coaxed her computer from sleep mode, opened a new window, and began typing. Through the corner of her eye she could see Nigel begin to fidget.

"What are you doing?"

Claudia casually shrugged. "Searching for Dorothy's contact details. Oh, look! Her email address!"

"Don't you dare!"

"'Dear Miss Almens'," she read aloud as she typed. "'I hope you check your email regularly-'"

"Alright, fine!" Nigel abruptly grabbed a hold of her wrists with a sigh of resignation. "I owe you."

Claudia smiled smugly, easily extricating a hand from Nigel's grasp to vigorously ruffle his hair. "There's a good boy."

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FIN.