It occurs to me that I haven't said much about Claire's friends and family. That's not entirely an oversight on my part; her parents live in Minnesota, so I haven't met them. (Apparently they met in college, married, and - unlike my entire family - are still married to their first spouses. Imagine that.) Her three closest friends all live in Colorado, and I missed seeing them the last time they came to visit. (I was, if you'll recall, off consulting with The Thing In The Well.) So how did Claire wind up in Texas? Well, she moved down with an ex-boyfriend who'd gotten a job here. After they broke up, she hung around to finish some courses she'd been taking. Not too long after that, she met me, and when we became an item, well... that gave her another reason to stay here.
I mention all this because one of her friends - I'll call her Anna - came through town last weekend. Anna is petite, pretty, blonde... and at the risk of sounding old-fashioned, I'll call her "vivacious". Actually, "vital" might be a better word, but that sounds even more old-fashioned.
I don't usually mention these things in advance, but Anna actually did give us plenty of warning. Claire's schedule is a lot more flexible than mine, so she had already made plans for them. I happened to be off Saturday night, but not Friday - so they had a chance to catch up at dinner on Friday, and we all went out on Saturday.
We went down to Sixth Street, of course. Anna had a good time dancing, and Claire and I joined her on the dance floor. I felt clumsy and inarticulate, and judging by Anna's responses she didn't think much of my dancing... but Claire was happier with me trying to dance, even badly, than she would have been with me refusing to dance, even gracefully. And really, Anna's opinion was only important insofar as it influenced Claire. I don't dance that badly, though my training emphasizes some movements that aren't really part of the club scene, and neglects some others that are.
Beyond our outing, Anna was actually a very pleasant visitor - not least because her presence cheered Claire immeasurably. When she spoke to me alone, it was basically a request for mundane information: what did I do, how did we meet, what did I think of Claire? She probably had Claire's impressions already, but I was happy to add my own.
Anna and Claire have been friends since middle school. I was, to be honest, kind of hoping that she'd pass her impressions along to Claire's parents. I'll meet them sooner or later, but it never hurts to lay positive groundwork... especially when you're meeting people without the sort of background you were raised to expect.
We're not at war with the Snake Cult. Not yet, anyway. I don't know what's going on, but we haven't had any deaths or disappearances. Maybe it won't come to that. If it does, I hope I can protect Claire - I'd really hate to lose her to something I brought on her in the first place.