The boys filed into the locker room after a fairly rough practice. They had a day coming up in a day and a half and Lavi was working them hard in preparation for it after their last loss. Danny and Claude were chatting idly when the ever-popular topic of Claire came up.
It was no secret to the guys on the team that number 28 had a thing for their assistant athletic trainer. Hell, even Lavi and Jimmy could tell that his admiration for the young woman extended past friendship. Danny had been encouraging him to make a move before someone else did and their current conversation was reflecting the many others of the same nature that he had with the younger player.
“I don’t see why you won’t just do it already. It’s not like she hasn’t shown any interest in you G,” Danny chided as he sat down on the bench in front of his stall to unlace his skates. Claude frowned at his friend, “What do you mean?” The older player frowned, “Don’t tell me you haven’t noticed that when we’re out with the guys she always pays more attention to you, not to mention you’re always attached at the hip. We’ve all seen the way she acts around you and it’s nothing like the way she acts with us. Hey, Richie,” he called out as the captain walked by, beckoning for him to come over, “What’s Claire like around G?”
Mike smirked, “She gives you those ‘secret flirty eyes,’ you know, the ones girls give you when they don’t want people to know that they’re interested. Not to mention that she can’t take her eyes off you. Ever. Doesn’t matter if you’re just talking to her, in the club, or on the ice G. She’s into you dude and if I were you, I’d get on that and fast.”
Claude wasn’t sure about how to respond and looked to Danny for help as the captain grinned and walked off to the showers. The dark-haired forward gave him an “I told you so” kind of look to emphasize that point that he had been trying to make for months. “Wouldn’t it go against all kinds of rules in the organization or something?” he asked quietly, “I don’t want her to lose her job if something did happen between us.” Danny sighed, “Claude, Jimmy and Lavi both know you have a thing for her and haven’t done anything, I think they’ll let you slide.”
Claude was silent for a moment as he continued to remove his gear, getting down to his Under Armour. “J'aime vraiment sa Danny,” he murmured just loud enough for his friend to hear. Danny nodded, “Puis faire quelque chose de Claude. Lui demander de sortir.” Giving his teammate a reassuring smile, he walked off to the shower. Claude sat there thinking over all that had been said to him in the last 15 minutes. Shaking his head he slipped on his sneakers and a pair of sweats before setting off to find her.
She was sitting in her office working on some last minute paperwork when she heard a knock on the door. She looked up to see him standing in her doorway. “Hey,” he smiled, “Can I come in?” She flashed him a bright smile, “Of course!” She set her pen down as he sat in the chair by her desk, “What’s up Claude?” He took a shaky breath, running a hand through his ginger curls, “I was… I was wondering if you wanted to, eh, go out for coffee or something with me today?”
Claire was a little taken aback by his question, expecting him to be coming in with a medical or training related question or even just to chat, not an offer for coffee. He fidgeted a bit, bracing himself for rejection. “I’d like that,” now was his chance to be taken by surprise, not expecting her to say yes, “Just let me finish up on this paperwork and check out with Jim.” His hazel eyes lit up in excitement, “Great! Take your time, I still need to take a shower and get my stuff together too. Meet me in the rink when you’re done, eh?” She nodded, promising to meet him there soon.
He left the room with a slight bounce to his step. Claire stared at the now vacant doorway confused. Did he just ask her out?
Claude entered the locker room with an enormous grin plastered on his face. Danny looked up from where he stood at his stall, now in his street clothes. His eyebrows furrowed in confusion as he took in the excessively happy polar opposite of his friend, “Who are you and where is my gloomy lovesick friend? What have you done with him?” Claude chuckled at his friend’s comments, “I thought about what you said and I did it.” Danny frowned, “Did what?”
“I asked Claire out for coffee,” he chirped, the grin seemingly ever-present on his face. Danny was shocked to say the least, his jaw slackening, “You didn’t!” Claude just kept smiling that shit-eating grin, “I did and she said yes.” The dark-haired hockey player gave his friend a congratulatory pat on the back, glad that he had finally grown a pair and did what he should have done a long time ago, “That’s great G! Don’t say I didn’t tell you so.”
Claude just rolled his eyes as Danny chuckled. “I’d better hear all of the details later,” he added, “I know the boys will want to know everything.” The 21-year-old just smiled as he grabbed his towel and change of clothes, heading in the direction of the showers.
Claire sat in the stands by the locker room entrance, her knee bouncing impatiently as she waited. She was still trying to wrap her head around the fact that Claude Giroux, her closest friend had asked her out for coffee. He seemed so nervous when he asked her, which seemed a bit out of character for the always confident forward. She couldn’t help but wonder what had prompted his jittery behaviour. Fidgeting was not something he did often and it hadn’t gone unnoticed by her during their interaction in her office.
She liked him. A lot. She knew it was wrong seeing as they were technically coworkers within the Flyers organization but she couldn’t help it. Yes, he was a good looking guy… a very good-looking guy. But he was so sweet and caring, always managing to cheer her up if she was having an exceptionally bad day. He had a good sense of humour and the ability to dish and receive sarcastic and snarky remarks without much problem at all. These were only a few endearing qualities on the long list of things that she liked about him.
“Claire,” the sound of his voice tore her from her thoughts, “You ready?” She smiled, nodding as she rose from her seat and followed him out of the rink. He was driving since she had snagged a ride to work from Hartsy and in what seemed like no time at all the two entered a small coffee shop on the way back to the city from the Skate Zone.
He quickly handed money to pay for their orders before she could even open her wallet. She chose not to protest, a little surprised by the sudden gesture seeing as they usually split the cost of everything.
“You didn’t have to do that Claude,” she murmured as they sat down at a relatively secluded booth in the back of the quaint little place. “I wanted to,” he shrugged, taking a sip of his drink. The two sat in uncomfortable silence, neither sure of what to say, both as uncharacteristically nervous as hell around each other. They had never been like this. The two of them were always easily falling into conversation, joking around, and the like but now, now they were entering new territory, both completely unsure of themselves.
“This-“ she spoke up, breaking the quiet air between them, “this is really good coffee.” She took another sip as if to emphasize her point. “Yeah,” he replied, “I come here sometimes after practice.” She nodded, biting her lip and lowering her gaze to her mug. He couldn’t help but admire her as she did this, knowing full well how unaware she was of her beauty, especially in moments like these. Even in her work clothes she was still rather striking.
“You ready for the game tomorrow?” she asked, glancing back up at him. “He nodded, “Yeah, I’m ready to play. The guys have been doing pretty well the last few practices.” And just like that they were back into normal, comfortable conversation.
They had now been there bordering on two hours, just enjoying each other’s company as always, their drinks long since finished and forgotten. “Roo?” she started, eyeing him carefully, her carefree demeanour fading as a serious look took its place. “Yeah, Claire.” She seemed shy as she continued, “why did you seem so nervous when you asked me out for coffee? You’re never like that and it’s not like we haven’t done this before. Go out for coffee, I mean.”
He sighed, looking down at his hands then back up to her. It was now or never, “I was nervous because… because I, I really like you Claire. I have for a while now actually and it’s taken me forever to even get up the courage to ask you out and I… I just… Tu me plais vraiment.”
Claire felt her cheeks heat up as she forced herself to hold his gaze. He looked so vulnerable as he ran a shaky hand through his hair. The calm and confident façade of friendly conversation had vanished. “Vous m'aimez?” she asked, choosing to keep the conversation in French for privacy’s sake. There was no amusement in his eyes, only seriousness as he responded, “Oui, je vous aime beaucoup.” His voice was even as he spoke, hoping to keep his nerves in check.
The two sat in silence as they both absorbed Claude’s confession. He couldn’t believe he had actually come out and admitted that he had feelings for her while she was in shock that he actually liked her in the first place. Sure friendship was understandable, inevitable even, but feelings past that were a whole different game altogether.
She could feel the question bubbling up within her and before she could stop herself it flew from her lips, “Why?” He frowned for a moment before answering her somewhat confidently, “Why not?” She was taken aback by the certainty in his voice behind the question, rather, the statement.
“Claire, vous êtes magnifique, intelligente, spirituelle, douce et attentionnée. Vous n'avez pas les choses tripatouillages et dire ce qui est sur votre esprit et que tout homme serait fou de ne pas voir que, à vouloir cela. Pour que vous voulez et vous appeler leur.” She blushed again, dropping her gaze as she let his words sink in. He watched her carefully, hoping to God that he didn’t scare her away. He would never forgive himself if he fucked up one of the best friendships he’d ever formed.
“You really mean all of that?” she asked, slowly raising her eyes to meet his. “Yes,” he affirmed, his eyes, his tone, his face all reflecting the sincerity of his words. He cautiously took her hand, pulling it gently towards him, holding it at the middle of the small table between them. He was happy she didn’t pull away, “I want to be that man to call you mine, if you’ll let me.” She looked from their entwined hands to his hopeful face. She couldn’t deny how much she loved the feeling of her hand in his. He had laid his heart on the line and hers beat wildly at his confessions, overjoyed and overwhelmed that he reciprocated her feelings.
“I’d like that,” she smiled softly for a moment before it faded when the realization of the repercussions of their potential relationship hit her like a train, “I want to let you, but what about the organization? There are rules against this Claude, we could get in serious trouble for this.” He frowned, knowing she was right. He stroked the back of her hand with his thumb soothingly as Danny’s words from earlier played over and over in his head.
“Then we keep this quiet and if and when they find out… we’ll figure it out when we get there,” he reasoned, looking hopefully, desperately at the young woman before him. She looked hesitant for a moment before slowly nodding, “I want this Claude. I want to give this a try.” He grinned, bringing her hand up to his lips in his excitement. Her already accelerated heartbeat spiked at the electric feeling of his lips on her skin.
J'aime vraiment sa Danny- I really like her Danny
Puis faire quelque chose de Claude. Lui demander de sortir- Then do something about it Claude. Ask her out
Tu me plais vraiment- I really like you
Vous m'aimez- You like me?
Oui, je vous aime beaucoup- Yes, I like you a lot.
Claire, vous êtes magnifique, intelligente, spirituelle, douce et attentionnée. Vous n'avez pas les choses tripatouillages et dire ce qui est sur votre esprit et que tout homme serait fou de ne pas voir que, à vouloir cela. Pour que vous voulez et vous appeler leur.- You're gorgeous, smart, witty, sweet, and caring. You don't sugarcoat things and say what's on your mind and any man would be crazy not to see that, to want that. To want you and call you theirs.