Claire's parents are here.
Her father is - well, I don't want to give too much physical description, for reasons that should be obvious; but he's extremely thin and tall enough to be intimidating in spite of it. Some people, because they're thin, look frail. He doesn't. He just looks lean. He was dressed in a white button-down shirt and navy blue slacks, both neatly pressed... but no tie, and I thought I saw the edge of an interesting tattoo behind his collar when he turned around.
Claire's mother is not so tall, and more heavily built. I'm not sure quite how to describe it, except to say that she's big boned - and that I mean that as a compliment. She's darker overall, too: hair, skin, and eyes. I'd say she was an Autumn, except I can't remember the colors for the seasons, so I probably shouldn't. She wore a black shirt covered with a pattern of lighter swirls, and lightweight tan pants. (It's warm here - in the seventies - despite being mere days from Christmas. It's enough to make me wonder if Texas got moved to the southern hemisphere and nobody noticed.)
I mentioned earlier that they're still married to each other, unlike all of my immediate family and most of my extended family. It showed, too - not as casual displays of affection, but as a sort of comfort in the way they stood together or moved around each other. Claire charged down the stairs and practically leapt into their arms, and I was both warmed by and slightly jealous of her obvious affection for them. My parents stuck me in a compound in west Texas, where I could Learn Our Ways. I knew who they were, and I came to like them later, but this kind of intimate knowledge and family solidarity was both strange and touching. Claire obviously grew up loving these people. By contrast, I might as well have grown up in an orphanage.
Claire's father studied me for a long moment, while I stood and waited. I could have moved forward, made polite gestures, but that didn't seem appropriate in the face of that cold, Nordic regard. And after a moment he nodded, and offered his hand. I offered a firm grip, and got one in return. For a moment, I was intensely glad that the kid who had tried to kill me outside the pharmacy hadn't had this sort of build, but I forced that image out of my mind. Hey, it's only natural to be intimidated by someone who might one day be your father in law, right? (Actually, that's a serious question. I have no idea. Is that normal?)
Claire's mother smiled and greeted me by name, and hugged me as if I was already part of the family. I found myself hugging her back, more by reflex than intent.
We all went back into Claire's apartment. Her parents looked around - noting, I'm sure, the signs of my regular presence. Thank the Dark Gods I haven't actually moved in yet. My lease isn't up until Friday, so if I need to I can sleep at my old apartment (on a one-inch mattress that's about as wide as my shoulders, left over from some very old camping trips, but what the hell). Mainly, though, they seemed to be making sure that the place was well kept, and that Claire was well and happy. Again, I found myself slightly jealous.
Well, to make a long story short, they seem to like me. Surprisingly, I like them too. I had really expected this to be an exercise in simply fooling them, but they're bright and enjoyable. I shouldn't be surprised; Claire is bright and enjoyable, too. I offered them wine, or something stronger, and they took me up on it.
Then we went out to dinner. I insisted on paying, just to show I could do it, and her parents let me - but they insisted that when we go out again, later in the week, they were going to pay. I'm fine with that. I think it's a sign of approval.
Hector the Cat, by the way, shows nothing but affection for Claire's parents. His fundamental and elemental dislike of me appears to be an entirely personal matter. Stupid cat...
After Friday, I'll be living with Claire in her apartment. Her parents will be visiting through the weekend, and I'll drive them back to the airport on Tuesday. (Claire happens to be working, and I happen to be off. I was a lot more bothered by the prospect before I met them.)
I haven't been given any more assignments from the Elders, perhaps in recognition of how busy I am already. Also, I haven't heard about any new assaults from the Snake Cult. Maybe that means that they've decided to back off, but probably not. So I'll stay wary until I have a reason to relax.
Reflections of a Deranged Cultist is a work of fiction. No homicidal cats were slain while writing this post, not even in self-defense. The same goes for possible in-laws.
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