aroceu: (sleepyhead)
black slacks with accentuating offwhite pinstripes ([personal profile] aroceu) wrote2014-07-28 12:27 pm

WIP Amnesty: Claire/Kate kidfic

Claire struggles with the doorknob. "Charlie?" she calls, and then sighs. "Charlie?"

He must be occupied, which Claire can forgive. She adjusts the grocery bags in her hands, tries to get the door open. "Charlie?" she says one last time, before managing to stumble in.

All of the bags fall to the floor. Claire sighs and picks herself up.

Charlie skids, and look horrified at seeing her on the floor. "Sorry!" he says in a hushed whisper. "Aaron's asleep, and I wasn't sure if I heard, so I—"

"It's fine." Claire grins. She picks up the groceries with him, and together they put the food on the table.

"How is he?" she asks.

"Great," says Charlie, running a hand through his hair. "Real great, um, listen, I gotta get back to work, otherwise Liam's gonna kill me—"

"Go ahead." Claire shrugs.

"I changed Aaron's diaper and he had vegetable turkey for lunch, y'know, the little orange can—"

"Great, great, thank you Charlie," says Claire. "Honestly, if Liam's gonna kill you, you might as well leave so he'll spare you with a painless death."

"He wouldn't be that nice," Charlie chuckles. He leans in and kisses Claire on the cheek. "See ya."

"Bye," says Claire, and then Charlie's gone.

Claire sighs, before examining the food on her table. She still has to put it all away. It hasn't been easy, living in Los Angeles by herself, especially as a single mother. She wouldn't have moved all the way out here if she hadn't had Aaron, anyway. She'd almost given him away but the surrogates backed out and then she had him, on the same day.

Luckily, her best friend's a famous rock star. And happens to be staying in L.A. for a period of time, too.

She's been here for six months already, getting by on Charlie's donations, and a part time job as a waitress with irregular hours, as long as Charlie's free to babysit Aaron. It's not easy, of course; but her mother calls at least once a week, Aaron still smiles when she gives him his formula, and Claire, well.

It could be worse.

She puts the grapes in the refrigerator first, and then the apples. She's about to get the milk when she hears Aaron crying down the hall, and runs down to check on him.

Most of the apartment is undecorated, but her and Aaron's room at least has her bed, his crib, and a rocking chair (presumably had been used by Charlie.) Claire cups Aaron's face and coos, "Mommy's here, Mommy's here. Your nap all done?"

Aaron stares up at her, and Claire smiles. She wipes a stray tear on his cheek and kisses his forehead.

*

Claire works at a diner in Santa Rosa. The drive isn't very far, but the first few times Charlie had babysat, she was worried. She trusts Charlie, almost with her life (but they've never been in that sort of situation before, so she wouldn't know), but sometimes she doesn't know if she's cut out to be a mother.

Everything had been spontaneous. Flying from Sydney just to give up her baby initially, first of all. And then deciding to keep him. And then accepting Charlie's offer to help her move here.

"You can move in with us," he'd said at first.

Claire had said with a smile, "I don't think you or your brother would appreciate baby screaming waking you up in the middle of the night."

She feels so young with it, and when she'd first told her coworkers about her situation, they'd scoffed about teenage pregnancies.

"I'm not a teenager," Claire had replied hotly, and that was the end of that.

Most of the staff are above thirty, though, so she's still the youngest employee there. She's certain she wouldn't have gotten the job in the first place if Charlie's brother hadn't put in a good word for her. The cooks and cashiers either scoff or ignore her, but most of the waitresses are nice to her, so it's alright.

She's changing into her uniform when she hears shouting from the front. "What's that?" she asks Rose, who's closer to the door.

Rose peeks her head out and sighs. "Diane's daughter actually came here to fight with her," she says. "Unbelievable."

Claire's heard about Diane's daughter enough from the other staff to know that it's not a regular occurrence, and thank god for that. She's never met her, though, so she quickly stuffs her feet back into her sneakers so she can meet her.

"I'm an adult, Mother, I am allowed to own a damn horse—"

"Not when that damn horse is living in my garage, in my house—"

"You mean our garage, our house! Just because you're single for the first time in, oh, forever—"

"You will not speak to me like that, young lady!"

Rose mutters, "Same old, same old." Her arms are folded across her chest.

"Should we do something about it?" Claire mutters.

Rose shrugs. "Nah," she says. "It's not scaring away the customers. They need to sort out their issues, anyway. It's better than when Diane's just sulking about it."

When Diane sulks, she smiles too much and talks more to the customers than to their coworkers.

Claire asks, "What's her daughter's name again?"

"Oh, Kate," Rose answers. "Honestly, I don't know why they're at each other's throats all the time. I heard," she lowers her voice, "they'd been in a pretty bad situation before, so Diane got them out from Iowa and moved out here."

Claire doesn't really know where Iowa is. Kate seems very defensive of her horse, so Claire wonders if there's any horses there.

Something like interest flits inside her, and Claire realizes that she actually wants to meet this girl. Kate, who's yelling, "I know a shit ton about raising horses if you just let me keep her," red-faced, curly brown hair flying everywhere.

"Hey," she asks Sun, who's about to go out and pick orders. Sun's kind of magical, able to hear people even with a din like this. "Has anyone actually stopped any of their fights?"

Sun glances at Diane and Kate, and then shakes her head. "Mostly because it's none of our business," she says. "But some of them are scared, too."

She nods at the cashiers, who're literally shaking in their shoes.

Claire says, "Thanks." She goes over to Diane and Kate, and says, "Hi."

They stop. Diane asks, "What are you doing?"

Claire smiles at Kate, holding her notepad. "Hi," she says. "I'm Claire, and I'll be your waitress today. What can I get you?"

"Uh," says Kate, glancing between her and her mother. "Well a horse would be nice."

"I'm afraid we don't sell horses here," says Claire. "Maybe something to drink."

Kate looks at Diane hesitantly again. "Water's fine," she says.

Claire gets her a water. She's acutely aware that most of the diner's attention is on her, now; but getting a water's a task she's done hundreds of times already.

She gives Kate her water and asks, "Anything to eat?"

Kate shrugs. "Nothing. I'm broke."

"Oh, well then." Claire grabs a nearby menu and hands it to her. "I'll cover you, don't worry about it. I recommend the bacon cheeseburger, and definitely get the fries, they're always cooked to perfection. And did you know that we have a wide array of sauces? We have peanut butter, even."

"I, um." Kate keeps looking at her mother, but most of her focus is on Claire now. "It's fine, really—"

"Please," says Claire, and Kate stops.

"Alright, then," she says. "I'll have that. And, um. The peanut butter sauce too, I guess, but I've never had French fries with peanut butter before."

"Got it," says Claire, picking up the menu once more. "And I'll promise you like it."

*

Kate, as it turns out, is not the biggest fan of peanut butter, nor peanut butter with fries. She gives them back when she's done with the rest of her meal, and says, "Thanks, but not for me."

Diane's gone back into the kitchen, after Rose had suggested for her to take a break. She hadn't said anything to Claire when she left, but Claire hopes she won't be too angry.

Claire cleans up Kate's placemat, but she decides to finish the fries and peanut butter herself. When she comes back out, Kate's giving her a funny little smile.

"You didn't have to do that," Kate says.

"I didn't," Claire agrees. She pops a fry into her mouth.

"Then why did you?"

Claire shrugs. "I know what it's like, y'know, fighting with your mum all the time. Before I came here, that's what I did—I was horrible." She shakes her head. "But these things come to bite you in the arse, and then we were in a car accident, and she was in a coma for years. She woke up only a few months ago, and now we don't stop calling each other."

Kate has her mouth open, but she closes it immediately when Claire's finished. The only thing she asks is, "Um, where'd you come from, then?"

"Sydney, Australia."

"Explains the accent," Kate remarks.

Claire smiles.

"I don't think you're awful for fighting with your mother," she says. "Things play out, though."

Kate gives a heavy sigh and grabs her keys. "They sure do," she says. "Well, one day I'll tell you my life story too," and they both laugh, "but I gotta go. It was nice meeting you… Claire?"

Claire glances down at her nametag. "Yep, that's me," she says.

Kate laughs again and says, "Bye, Claire." Claire says goodbye, too, and wonders where these butterflies are coming from.

*