Her own mirth spent, it didn’t take all her considerable powers of observation to see that Mohinder had gone all stiff on her, and not in the fun way.She’d done it, the very thing she’d been afraid of, and it’d happened because Claire was completely, totally incompetent at being a decent human being. She’d known it, but it hadn’t been an issue with William and no one else had mattered.Yet the sheepish, pained sound of his words caused a peculiar tight sensation in her chest. Was she only imagining that’s what his voice sounded like? Was this what guilt felt like? That aside, she knew what it looked like when someone was eating their feelings, having done it a thousand times herself. She suddenly had to swallow hard and pushed the remaining bites of crepe around her plate, finding herself unable to enjoy his efforts.
“Don’t…don’t worry about last night.” she replied, sounding equally as pathetic herself. “It happens to the best of us, I promise.” A little half-hearted smile accompanied her words though her eyes didn’t meet his, and she eventually forced herself to finish the crepe. Bloody terrific, Claire. You’ve ruined a perfectly delightful breakfast and quite possibly lost your only friend…Claire practically jumped at his mention of retreating to his lab, resisting the urge to tell him she had no idea what a regular life was like, but that was best saved for later, if at all. Likely the man was already regretting letting her through his door, no need to give him more reasons. She set her dish in the sink and followed Mohinder in silence, tail between her legs, as it were.
Claire sat, unprotesting, in a chair next to his array of devices and equipment, only mildly interested in looking at them despite her natural tendency to catalog rooms she entered for exits, possible tools, etc. Lab coat donned, Mohinder began his necessary tests, focused in his work.At least he could be…or appeared to be. The quiet, once companionable, was now heavy on her shoulders, itchy like a wool sweater that didn’t fit. She was hyper sensitive to his proximity now, somehow afraid she would do something to further damage the repartee they’d only just begun, but as the stethoscope crossed her heart, Claire couldn’t take it any longer. Swallowing, she let out a quick burst of air and spoke before she could think about it and stop herself.
“I don’t…know how to do this…being friends, or more than friends….or even friendly,” she said, words tumbling out on top of each other. Admitting this particular fault made her feel exceptionally vulnerable and she wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible; that feeling was even more intolerable than what she now assumed was guilt. “I’ve never had a friend and I’d really rather make you smile than retreat into your shell, and I’m terribly sorry…” Lips pursed together and she glance away, grasping one arm in a sort of self-hug.