|"Claudia & Nicole"|
Disclaimer: Roswell, the characters, and situations are owned by the WB. No
infringement intended. |
Summary: A short vignette told from Liz's dad's point of view.
Authors Note: This story is part of an evolving storyline that currently includes (in order): "Decisions," "Looking In," "Christmas Envy," "From Another Place," "Husbands and Fathers," "Claudia and Nicole," and "Stars." More stories may be forthcoming.
|Shaking his head, Jeff Parker watched the two hellions run through the Crashdown Café, playing a game of tag that clearly involved knocking over chairs and scaring customers. Whenever his granddaughter, Claudia Evans, got together with her best friend in the whole world, Nicole Guerin, the whole world knew it. Or, at least all of Roswell, New Mexico, knew it. |
The two little girls made quite a pair. Claudia was beautiful. And it wasn’t just because he was her grandfather that he thought that. She had her father’s dark, long-lashed eyes and her mother’s straight dark hair streaming down around her shoulders. When she wasn’t with Nicole, Claudia was calm and sweet and gentle, luminous with a kind of wisdom you didn’t expect to see in a child. When she was with Nicole, it was a whole different ballgame though. Hellion became the operative description for both girls. Jeff smiled at the thought of Nicole Guerin. Nicole had been blessed with her mother’s bouncy blonde curls and her father’s mischievous brown eyes. She also had her father’s fierce integrity, plus more than a little bit of his attitude. If he had to choose one word to describe Nicole Guerin, sassy would definitely be it.
He watched Claudia and Nicole weave between tables and duck through the “employees only” door at the back of the restaurant. As usual, Claudia led the way because she was three years older. But that wasn’t the only reason. She was equal parts her father’s calm leadership and her mother’s practical rationality. He smiled at himself. Only a grandfather would come up with such fanciful stuff.
Jeff could hear the girls’ wild giggles as they pounded up the steps to the family apartment above the Crashdown on their way to find Claudia’s grandmother. Hopefully, Nancy would be able to get them to sit still for a couple of minutes in succession. Customers were beginning to wonder what was going on.
Reminding himself that he should be thinking of his customers, he turned to offer more coffee to the sheriff who was sitting at the counter. “Sorry about that, Kyle. The girls are excited about seeing each other. They don’t that often. More coffee?”
Kyle Valenti nodded, holding out his cup. His jaw tightened almost imperceptibly. “So, Liz and Max still live back east?”
“Yeah. Liz is teaching at a women’s college just outside Boston, and Max is at Children’s Hospital. They like the school options for Claudia in the Boston area.” Seeing Kyle’s clenched jaw, Jeff tried to hide a sympathetic smile. In some ways, he knew, Kyle had never gotten over Liz. But Liz had never had eyes for anyone but Max Evans. Once she’d opened her eyes, that is, and had seen the way Max had looked at her all his life, as if the sun rose and set in her. Jeff had to admit that he was happy his little girl was so happy. He liked and admired his son-in-law. He adored his granddaughter. He was happy that they were happy. And that was more than a lot of folks could say.
Jeff sighed as he heard the thump, thump, thump of the girls coming back downstairs. He exchanged a wry look with Kyle just before Claudia and Nicole burst back into the restaurant. Nicole kept running when Claudia skidded to a stop in front of the counter.
“Gotta go, Claudi, Mr. Parker,” Nicole sang as she wove between tables for the umpteenth time that afternoon. “Mom and Dad are prob’ly waiting for me!” The door jangled in protest as the small blonde dynamo shoved it open and raced off towards home.
After the dust had settled, Claudia jumped up to sit on one of the stools not far from Kyle. She looked at her grandfather, her big eyes serious. “Grandpa. Nicole had an idea, but I didn’t think that Mom and Dad would’ve liked it, so we didn’t do it. But I felt bad because it might’ve been a good idea, and we didn’t do it ‘cause I said. Was I wrong?”
Jeff put both his hands down on the counter, leaning over to return Claudia’s serious look. “Honey, I don’t think I understand what you just said. What idea did Nicole have?”
Claudia seemed to realize suddenly that Kyle was listening to their conversation. She glanced at him shyly, looking for all the world like a tiny female version of her father. “I’m sorry,” she said politely in a low voice, “I shouldn’t’ve interrupted.” She started to slide off the stool.
Kyle smiled at her, looking almost as if he didn’t want to. “No, I shouldn’t have been listening in.” He put a couple of dollars on the counter and got up. “I’ll just be heading out, Jeff. Thanks for the coffee.”
Claudia reached out and placed a small hand on Kyle’s arm, stopping him from leaving. Jeff nearly choked in surprise. Claudia was usually never this forward with strangers. She slid the rest of the way off the stool and looked up at Kyle intently.
“You’re a nice man,” she said decisively. “Not like my dad is. But still nice. My dad is the nicest man in the whole world.” She gave Jeff one of her slow, sweet smiles, the smile she had unmistakably inherited from her father. “My granddad is nice too.”
Kyle shook his head, unable to conceal the hint of pain in his eyes. “Like mother, like daughter, I guess,” he murmured. Jeff felt bad for him. In another world, maybe, Kyle would have had a chance with Liz.
Claudia nodded, pleased with her conclusion, and swung back to Jeff. “Grandpa, I’m going to see Grandma again. I don’t think that that idea thing was that important after all. If I need to, I can talk to Dad about it.”
Jeff watched his granddaughter scoot out of the restaurant again, her dark hair flying behind her like a flag. He turned back to Kyle, who stood frozen in the act of putting on his hat. “Did you need change?” Jeff asked.
Kyle blinked and shook his head. “She’s a lot like them, isn’t she?” he said quietly. “Both of them. She couldn’t be anyone else’s child.” He shook his head again as if to clear it, then pushed away from the counter. “I need to be heading back to the office. The paperwork in this job is killing me.” He turned to leave the Crashdown then stopped. Without looking back, he said, “Hey, Jeff. When you see them, say hi for me.” And then he did leave, his head down, not looking back once.
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