"Thank God for Julian Avery."
Everything around her was happening far too fast for her own good, but in the midst of the exchanges Claire found herself taking careful notice of Julian's successful coercion of Teo. The more threatening boy lowered his weapon and put it away, and Claire found herself in a far more comfortable position. At least now, if worst came to worse, she'd have the upper hand.
"Claire, you pull anything useful? Anyone got a plan?"
"Think fast, Claire. Think f-..."
"...i-if you call a notebook useful," she stumbled uncharacteristically, with faux irritation. Rolling her eyes, Claire lowered her duffel bag to the ground and unzipped it, retrieving a bound purple notebook out of the bag and flashing it towards Teo. She didn't have time to consider whether the bluff was believable or not - though, to her credit, not many students would have brought a notebook with them on the senior trip, aside from the other members of the editorial staff writing the final issue of the school paper - all she knew was that her story was out, and she was sticking to it.
"Like I said, yours is much better," she added to finish the thought, replacing the book in her bag and zipping it up.
"Oh, come on
, Teo..." came a sly voice in the distance.
Claire's head snapped in response to the sound of Marybeth Witherspoon descending upon the group. Her first instinct was to reach her hand towards her back pocket, but she resisted, noticing that Mary had drawn some kind of kitchen utensil (which she couldn't quite make out from this distance) as her weapon, and it looked rather harmless. Her taunts, however, dealt far harsher blows.
"Oh, how I'd love to put a bullet between that sorry bitch's eyes..."
Claire mused internally, noting that her everyday frustrations were now intensely amplified by the tension surrounding the parish. What was Marybeth trying to do, get people killed? Claire was more than familiar with her desperate desire to have (and create) all the latest gossip, but this was definitely pushing the envelope.
"Shut it, Marybeth," Claire snapped, unaware that this probably wasn't the first time she'd ever used that line. "None of us are killing each other," she affirmed, casting a glance towards the three boys on her sides. The last word Ryan and Kelly Lambert's daughter would ever be called by anyone was "pushover".
Claire relaxed herself, forcing a sigh and shaking her head. It was pounding. She wasn't sure if it was the after-effects of the tranquilizer, or just sheer frustration, but she couldn't shake the feeling of an all-encompassing beat that echoed against the walls of her cranium. Marybeth's provocation wasn't doing much to ease that pain.
"...Sorry," she whispered to nobody in particular, hoping to cut the tension before anyone could scold her. Teo, however, still had his attention focused on her.
Oh, a plan. Right.
"I'm gonna..." Claire paused, scrambling to figure out exactly what
she should do. She hadn't given much thought to anything besides the fact that she was trapped on a deserted island with all of her classmates and fighting for her life.
"...find Aislyn," she concluded, looking more directly into Teo's eyes. "I never got to thank her for the help she gave me at prom..." Claire trailed off, reminiscing about how the beautiful Italian girl had helped her steer clear of JJ for an entire night. It was thanks to her that she was able to have a relatively pleasant evening.
...It was thanks to her that Claire was able to have what would most likely be the last enjoyable night of her life.
"...I'm sorry, but right now, she's the only one I trust."
Never one to be dishonest, Claire picked up her duffel bag once more, nodding curtly to Teo and Marybeth.
"Stay safe," she wished formally, turning in the direction of Nick and Julian as she began to walk away. She first passed Nick, whom she whispered a rushed "thank you" to as she waltzed by him briskly, keeping the corner of her eye trained on Teo to make sure he didn't pull any sort of surprise attack. After a few strides she caught up to Julian, whom she also thanked, before casting one last glance back at the group and breaking into a determined jog.
(Claire Lambert continued in Bump in the Night