“The calm before the storm,” Claire repeated slowly, noticing with a small amount of pride that he was impressed by her skill with the blade. In his position, she might have been too. “Well, if it’s so imperative to have me relaxed for this to work, then I hope it stays more calm than stormy. I know of a stable not too far away that offers trail riding, though I have yet to go there.” His eyes met hers again and she smiled faintly as he started to tell her about this Mario Kart…only to trip over his own words.
Oh, the wee lamb…she wouldn’t laugh out loud at his verbal stumbles, but she had to purse her lips together to keep that from happening. It was positively adorable, and the tiny maternal part of her wanted to pat him on the head and tell him it was okay, girls don’t bite. Unless he was just the nervous sort in general? Something told her it had more to do with the fact that she was a woman than anything else. My princess…oh, she’d have to store that away to chuckle over later. “Well, I’ll have to see if this Princess Toadstool lives up to my exacting standards for fictional characters,” she joked, hoping it would help him relax. “And thank you, though I’m sure you would’ve cut them up just fine.” She was beginning to see he was generous with his praise, learning she should expect that sort of thing from him.
But she hadn’t expected the apron; gaze back on what she was doing, Claire hadn’t seen him come over with the apron, didn’t know what was going on until Mohinder slipped the thing over her head. She tensed, at first out of instinct at being caught off guard. That usually earned someone a knife to their throat and her sweetest smile. But then she felt his fingers at the back of her neck and the aggression melted out of her, replaced by goosebumps on the sensitive nape of her neck as her mouth formed a silent ‘oh’ of surprise.
Clearing her throat, she was glad he couldn’t see her face for the moment. Normally quite…salacious…this was a man she needed for different purposes, and she didn’t want to jeopardize that by responding to him with any of her normal lusty enthusiasm. No matter how pretty those big brown eyes and soft curls were. Besides, he seemed a gentle soul, not at all the sort she pegged for a casual affair. “You’re quite forgiven,” she replied, expression shifting to a smile as she nudged the cut bits of onion to the side with the flat of the blade. Moving on to the peppers, she hesitated for a moment–diced or julienned? No, diced would be better, smaller. Catching sight of the apron’s design as she looked down again, Claire actually did laugh this time.
“Kiss the scientist,” she read, “that’s….how precious.” She opened her mouth to say something about how such an act would require the right chemistry, or 'Depends on how well you science together this omelette,’ but quickly decided against it. No need to make him uncomfortable again. Instead, she lamely finished with, “I don’t think I’ve ever used an apron before.”