Disclaimer: Roswell, its characters and situations, are owned by the WB. No
Summary: Claudia, Max and Liz's daughter, is more like her parents than you might guess, especially when she becomes lab partners with a new boy at school.
Authors Note: This story is the part of an evolving future storyline that currently includes (in order): "Decisions," "Looking In," "Christmas Envy," "From Another Place," "Husbands and Fathers," "Claudia and Nicole," "Stars," "Going Home," "The Ethics Lesson," "Redefining Terms," "Beginnings," "First Date," "A Quality Heart," "In Every Ending," "Birth," "Rose Petals," "The Littlest Czechoslovakian," "Joshua and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day," "Guysí Night Out," and "Girlsí Night In." More stories may be forthcoming.
He was going to do it. Finally. He was going to talk to her. He told himself that everyday, but today was different. He was really going to do it.
She was pretty quiet. Not in a stuck-up way. Just quiet. She didnít hang out with the popular crowd or with the chess-playing crowd. She kind of kept to herself.
Thatís why he thought he could approach her, even though he was the new kid in school.
She smiled at him when he fell into step beside her in the hallway between classes, and his chest felt tight all of a sudden, the way it always did whenever he saw her slow, gorgeous smile. It felt like his heart seized up then started beating again really fast.
He told himself to calm down and smiled back.
"So," he began hesitantly, searching for the right words, the ones that would keep her at his side a little longer. "So," he started again then finished in a rush: "Youíre, um, really good at biology."
She looked at him oddly.
What a witty opening, he congratulated himself sarcastically. Could I be more lame?
"Thanks," she said slowly, clearly trying to figure out where he was coming from. "Itís my favorite subject." She shot him another curious look from under her lashes.
Okay, he thought to himself, weíre having a conversation. She answered me. Okay, okay. Calm down. Donít blow it.
He took a deep breath and picked up the conversational token. "I kind of noticed that you seemed ahead of the rest of the class."
She shrugged and said wryly, "My parents have this thing for biology." As she looked down at the books she was carrying tightly in front of her, her long dark hair swung forward to conceal her expression, and he tried not to think about how soft her hair looked as he watched her shrug again. "I guess my parents have a thing for education in general," she continued. "They never let me goof off."
Suddenly she looked uncomfortable, as if sheíd just realized that sheíd said more than three words in succession. She glanced at him, and he felt bereft. It was the only word to describe how he felt when he saw her eyes. It was as if a shutter had dropped over them.
She cleared her throat. "Excuse me," she said politely in a low voice. "I have to go. To, um, get to my next class. Iíll see you around."
And he was left staring after her as she melted into the throng of students rushing to get to their classes before the second bell rang.
* * * *
The next day, he slid into the seat beside her in the sophomore biology laboratory, determined to start a real conversation. He looked over at her, hoping for a natural opening.
As always, he was struck by how self-contained she looked. So reserved and untouchable and utterly beautiful. He watched her tuck her hair behind her ears, and he thought again that her ears were cute. They stuck out a little. And her little nervous habit of re-tucking her hair behind her ears was cute too.
Actually, he thought everything about her was cute.
He had seen her around town, of course, even though he and his mom had just moved to Roswell. Heíd seen her mostly with a man and a woman, who heíd assumed were her parents since she resembled them so much. Heíd also seen her with a younger blonde girl, who heíd found out was her cousin.
Whenever heíd seen her, heíd felt that funny tightening in his chest, that pull to talk to her.
He wanted to understand the facets that made up her. He saw glimpses of those multiple facets all the time. The way she laughed and acted silly with her cousin. The way she seemed to have serious conversations with her parents. The way she was so focused in class. The loneliness he thought he caught in her eyes sometimes. Her glorious smile.
While he was musing, the class flew by. The high point of the hour for him was their teacherís explaining that lab partners for the year would be assigned by rows. The gods had taken pity on him and made her his lab partner. He could barely control his elation.
Finally the first bell rang, and class was over. He caught up with her as the students filed out of the lab, and touched her arm to get her attention. She jumped.
"So, I was wondering," he said quickly, not wanting to lose the momentum his elation had given him. "I was wondering if you wouldnít mind helping me out with my biology stuff sometime. I mean, since weíre now lab partners. And since youíre so far ahead of the rest of the class."
He could tell heíd surprised her again. For a second, the way she looked at him reminded him of nothing so much as the old clichť of a deer snared in oncoming headlights.
Then she nodded. "Sure. Why donít we meet after school at my grandparentsí restaurant? You know, the Crashdown Cafť?"
He thought he knew so much about her, but he hadnít made the connection. He admitted as much: "I didnít realize you were related to the Parkers."
She gave him a serious look. "Yeah. Theyíre my grandparents." She glanced around at the faces of passing students. "My parents grew up in Roswell. In fact, they went to West Roswell High." She paused. "All of our familyís here. Um. I guess Iíll see you later. I should get to class." And then she was gone again.
* * * *
When he arrived at the Crashdown after school, he saw that she was already there, standing at the counter, talking with Mr. Parker. Watching them together, he could tell that her grandfather doted on her. He realized that her grandfather must have seen him come in, because after he said something to her, she turned towards the door and waved.
His feet seemed glued to the floor. All he could think about was how lovely she was. Her dark eyes were so beautiful they seemed unearthly. Walk, he told himself. Just walk.
She introduced him to her grandfather. "Grandpa, this is the boy Iím going to be studying with today. Thomas Lindsey." She flashed him one of her gorgeous smiles, and he felt his knees go weak. "Tom, this is my grandfather, Jeff Parker."
"Nice to meet you, Tom," her grandfather said. Tom ducked his head to hide the besotted expression he knew was on his face. He wasnít fast enough because her grandfather grinned at him knowingly right before he said, "Why donít you two take the last booth? Itís out of the way and a little quieter if youíre going to study."
She nodded and led the way to the booth her grandfather had suggested. He followed tamely, wondering when heíd completely lost his backbone.
Once they were seated in the booth, she flipped open her biology textbook to the most recent chapter covered in class. "So. Where were you having problems?"
He cleared his throat and tried to focus. "Uh, the last chapter."
They studied for a while, until he noticed that she was rubbing the back of her neck tiredly. When he saw her tiny movement, he suggested they take a break. Okay, this is it, Lindsey, he coached himself. Start a real conversation.
"So you said your parents are into biology." Good, good, he applauded himself. Parents were probably a good topic with her. She seemed to like her parents. Which was pretty unusual for a fifteen-year old, but he had seen them together, so....
She nodded with shy pride. "Yeah. My dadís a pediatrician, and my momís a molecular biologist. My dad started a practice here in town when we moved to Roswell two years ago. And my momís writing a book." She looked down at her textbook. "My momís book is sort of why we moved here, actually."
"Whatís it about?" he asked. Hey, he thought in amazement, this isnít so bad. Weíre actually talking. Going back and forth and everything.
She nodded again with that same shy pride as she warmed to her subject. "Itís really cool. Mom has this hypothesis that the biological proof for the existence of life on other planets is encoded in the molecular makeup of our cells." Suddenly her cheeks flushed, and she looked embarrassed and some other emotion that crossed her face too fleetingly for him to identify. He guessed that she was thinking that he was probably just being polite and wasnít really interested in her motherís book. He tried to look encouraging and fascinated at the same time. "Mom and Dad talk about it at dinner sometimes," she mumbled, again looking down at her textbook.
He tried to get her talking again. "So you and your parents moved back to Roswell two years ago for your momís book?"
She glanced back up. "And because weíre from here originally," she reminded him. "All our familyís here."
"Right, right. Sorry. I forgot you told me that." He felt stupid that heíd forgotten so he covered quickly, "I think I knew that about your family too. I think Iíve seen you around town with your cousin. A tall blonde girl, younger than us."
"Nicole. Weíve been best friends forever, more than cousins."
He shifted awkwardly in the ensuing silence. "So. Where did you move here from?"
"Boston," he repeated, searching his mind for something intelligent to say about Boston. "So, if youíre familyís from Roswell originally, what were you doing in Boston?"
She shot him another of those odd looks that he interpreted as a warning not to invade her privacy too much. "Both my mom and my dad went to Harvard, my mom for graduate school and my dad for medical school. I was born while they were still students, and they stayed in Boston when I was little. Until we moved to Roswell, my mom taught at Wellesley College, and my dad was a staff doctor at Childrenís Hospital."
Impressed, he leaned forward. "So your parents went to Harvard."
She smiled. It was clear to him that she was really proud of her parents. "Actually, they did their undergraduate work at Stanford. Then they went to Harvard."
"Thatís really something," he said in awe. He was eager to keep her talking, so he asked, "So, do you miss anything about Boston?"
She laughed then, and he was startled by how sweetly musical her laugh was. He wished he could hear her laugh all the time. "Well, I donít miss the cold," she said. "Though I do miss making snow angels. But what I miss most is the Atlantic Ocean. My dad and mom and I used to go to a beach on the North Shore and stand on the rocks at low tide, watching the waves roll in, just listening to the ocean. It was our weekend ritual during the spring and summer."
He was about to ask her more about Boston, hoping to hit on something that would make her laugh again, when he realized that heíd lost her. She was looking past him to the door of the Crashdown.
He followed her gaze and recognized the two people who had just walked in as her parents. He had never seen them up-close before. She looked like a combination of both of them, with her motherís frame, features, and hair, and her fatherís eyes and ears. He watched her mother wave and point to the back door of the restaurant, indicating where they were going.
She nodded to her mother in understanding then returned her attention to him. "Sorry about that. Those were my parents. They said they were going to be in town later this afternoon to see my grandparents." She shrugged apologetically. "I should probably go home with them."
"Yeah, right," he agreed quickly. He stared down at the textbooks and notes spread out on the table between them, trying to think of something to say, something that would create a connection between them beyond this afternoon of studying. "So. You know, seeing your parents reminded me of something I was thinking about. That we actually have something in common," he said finally.
She favored him again with the little look that told him she thought he was pretty odd. "Yeah, Tom. Weíre in the same grade in high school, and we take biology together."
"No. I mean, I just moved to Roswell."
She nodded, obviously not seeing the connection between his statement of the obvious and her own situation.
He tried to explain. "My parents lived up north, in Canada, when I was born. Thatís why I have a bit of an accent, though Americans tend not to hear it. Anyway, my dadís a pilot there still. When my parents split up, I moved here with my mom. She has a weird sense of humor, and she likes tourist-trap museums."
"My parents arenít split up," she said, sounding confused. "In fact, theyíre so together, itís not even funny sometimes."
He shook his head. "No. I mean that my mother grew up here originally herself. Like you said your parents did. What we have in common is that weíre both transplants, born in another place and brought back to Roswell to be where our parents are from."
She laughed as she began to pile her books into her book bag. "Actually, my dadís familyís not from around here originally, even though he grew up here. Where heís from is pretty different from Roswell, New Mexico. But I do understand what youíre saying, I think. We do have something in common beyond biology. Weíre both caught between two, um, cultures." She tilted her head at him and laughed again. "Up north, huh?"
He wasnít sure he understood what she was getting at, but he nodded anyway. "Well, thatís a beginning, isnít it?"
She smiled at him again. "Yeah, thatís a beginning." She slid out of the booth. "Iíve got to get going. My parents are probably waiting." She slung her book bag over her shoulder and made her way to the back of the restaurant. Just before she disappeared through the swinging door, she turned back and said, "It was nice studying with you, Tom. Maybe we could do it again sometime. I mean, if you would find it helpful."
Then she smiled a last time and left. He sat there, staring after her, his jaw hanging open.
A couple of minutes later, her grandfather wandered over to pick up the leftovers of the snack they had eaten while studying. He smiled at Tom.
"Claudia is something, isnít she?"
Tom snapped his mouth shut and nodded dumbly. Claudia Evans was definitely something.
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