She’s staying. Why is she staying? Why is she staying? I should say something. I should grab the conversation, lead it somewhere safe before Harry can-
"So you must be the girl mom's been talking about."
My face goes red. Damnit, Harry. Clara presses a hand to her cheek, clearly a little embarrassed- "I don't, I, uh? Am I?" Harry grins.
“Well, it's not every day Norman calls home about a girl." Clara looks a bit guilty now, though I’m not sure why.
"That's sweet...” she says, feeling around for my hand. I let her take it, squeezing a bit. “Really.”
"Well, you're as pretty as I've heard,” Harry voices with a slight smirk. “But really, I'm just glad you're not made up." Clara’s not looking at him, choosing instead to look at my hand.
"I uh, I'm glad I'm not made up, too."
"Harry...." I say in a warning tone, hoping I can put a stop to this. Harry just laughs.
"Come on, Norman, did you think I'd forget about Lydia?"
Clara perks up at this. I don’t suppose I blame her. It’s not as if grown men making up girlfriends is a normal thing.
"Lydia was real...." I defend, looking away. "We just... didn't date."
"And was that the case with Patty, too?"
Clara’s hand is back on her face. She’s shaking her head, wearing a bemused smile.
"Ah.... no.” I admit. “Patty was made up..." My ARI is sitting on the bedside table and I eye it longingly. When I look at Clara again, she’s eyeing the ARI, too, frowning.
"Well, in any case, Clara," Harry says, flashing that winning smile of his. "It's good of you to be here with Norman. He's obviously had a rough time and I'm sure it helps to have you around." Clara looks away from ARI and smiles.
"I hope so. Thanks.” She looks at me. “Does it?” I give a smile, but it only goes up half way.
"Yeah. It really does." Harry stands.
"So, should I leave you two alone, then?" Yes. Yes, please do. Clara looks at me, indicating that I be the one to answer.
"If you don't mind....." Harry smiles knowingly.
"All right, well I'll be back to see you again later. Clara, nice meeting you."
"You too," she responds.
When Harry leaves I melt into the bed with relief. Clara grins.
"Come on, that wasn't so bad."
I don’t smile.
"Oh, hush," she admonishes.
"I didn't say anything."
"Yes you did." She puts on a serious face, an imitation of my own.
"Look, Clara, you saw him. You should understand." Clara looks vaguely amused, but mostly curious.
"What, you didn't notice his perfect teeth and his perfect nose and his perfect hair that doesn’t do this stupid flippy thing in the front?" I point at the offending chunk of hair. Next thing I know, she’s got her fingers in it, playing with the hair.
“No, I didn't. Wasn't looking at him much. Why?"
"You'd be the only girl who hasn't...." I don’t mean to sound bitter, but I do. Clara raises an eyebrow. I look away. "I already told you about his wife..."
Suddenly her face is right there in mine. She’s tracing her nose along my forehead, then into my hair. "But I'm busy, you know."
I can’t help it, I scrunch my face.
"Not spending much time ogling men I meet, you understand,” she goes on. Explaining? “Busy."
"Oh, no, I got it but... you're just touching my face an awful lot is all."
"Well, can you blame me?"
"I...." She smiles absently.
"That's good. Never took you for a narcissist."
"Clara...." I start, and she pulls back, reluctantly.
"I..... I.... l....." I look away. I want to say it, but I can’t. Not right now. "Lllllike having you around...."
Clara scoots over and lays down next to me, closing her eyes.
"I like being around." I reach hesitantly, and then rest my arm around her.
“GodIneedtripto,” I mutter. Clara nuzzles closer.
"Ahh... I said 'God, I don't know.' You know... lots of stuff on my mind, these days. Kind of overwhelming...." Clara sighs softly.
"You're doing okay, though? You're doing better?"
"I'm doing.... all right."
"It's the best I can do right now."
"Then that's--" Clara lets out a huge yawn. "That's good."
"Tired, cupcake?" I ask.
"Yeah..." A moment later she’s mumbling something.
"Remember...?" I try.
"Hmmm..." Clara shifts.
"What?" Clara lets out a slight snore. I sigh, looking at her. I hesitate a moment and then I stroke her hair.
"Sweet dreams, cupcake...."