Rating: mild T
Spoilers: Upto 1x02 only I think
Summary: Claire/Topher UST. Good things can come from bad things – make that very very bad things and very good things too, in the reverse retrospective order.
A/N: Kindly betaread by rodlox. Written for challenge 10 at dollhousefics using the prompt “instinct”.
He holds on to Claire Saunders, for dear life, because it's another one of those situations again. Bad things are happening and it's only by the grace of higher powers, that he may or may not believe in, that cause him to be pressed up against a rather fine lady instead of him potentially being human sushi outside in the corridor.
The universe is mocking him still. Outside certain death by one female, inside certain death by another female if he so much as lays a hand inappropriately and there is only so much space. It seems more like delaying certain death than anything. That and Claire'd probably be more humane, if she counts him as human – the way she looks at him sometimes he isn't too sure she does.
This is possibly why he so surprised that she's the one who's leaning in, sort of but not entirely he's guessing, involuntarily. There's a parting of the lips he can't help but notice her do. He really shouldn't be looking at her lips at all, but...
And she breathes out. She doesn't move her head, and hence her lips, any closer, but he feels her shift about, like she's trying to get away with him without him noticing, because if she thought he was being inappropriate he knows she'd let him know. Which leaves the option that she thinks she's being inappropriate, or about to be. His heart skips a beat, pure adrenaline fueling him as he holds his breath. Ultimately Topher sighs though.
She gives him an odd, startled, Bambi look and God, that makes him want to lean in. It could work, there isn't exactly enough room to throw a slap and a slap would draw attention too, attention they don't want. So would make-out noises though, so he skips over this one chance and curses the mocking. The universe hates him. Maybe it is the wrong job, bad karma, but it's got to be worth it right? Getting the girl isn't everything, isn't even expected for a guy like him. If they live then he should try a bit harder not to piss her off, it could be worth his while. He glances up and catches her looking at him, Claire blushing at being caught doing so and he realises it could be very worth his while if he can just control himself right now.
He closes his eyes, taking deep breaths and decides to recite pi in his mind – it's the closest thing to meditation for him and it is pretty far from thinking naughty wrong things about a colleague as he can get. Yet it doesn't work, every other thought between a number is him wondering what if, and he swears he can feel a hot breath on his neck, like she's come in closer, close enough he could just move and -
The door springs open, light flooding his view despite that his eyelids are shielding him, and he's yanked out before he knows it. I'm going to die! Frak, what a wasted chance, he thinks and doesn't bother to open his eyes. Ten seconds on and the expected pain doesn't come, causing great confusion. Topher opens one eyes to find an imprinted – and it had to be tough chick, didn't it, both fortunately and embarrassingly for this situation – Echo looking at him like he's a coward. She'd be too if she knew what people round here were capable of.
“Move it, shorty,” she says pushing him forward. Claire follows calmly, falling into step with the other woman and, genius as he generally is, Topher wishes he wasn't such a disappointment in certain areas.
He can't protect himself, that's what the security service is theoretically for, but they fail – big fail, massive fail, more than once now - and he can't reassure the one person he'd really like to be able to while a Doll (one he made) can do both and more. Nobody is perfect, not unless he makes them so. Nobody will thank him though and that's the secret of being good at his job, nobody will think they need to. Some days he entertains the thought of being a little, just a smidgen, on the side of mediocre to see if they notice for once but that would be unprofessional. He glances back at Claire surreptitiously as they turn the corner; probably as unprofessional as wanting to jump your in-house doctor.
It's not too long before he's back to wondering about more important, i.e. more currently pressing issues, like why he's the one in front.
“Hang on, am I cannon fodder here?”
But he doesn't stop and turn around like he'd thought would go so well with that comment, for emphasis on his disbelief – there's been enough embarrassment for the day. No more thinking about pressing things...