downplaying: ((( old photo )))





[Title:] family name
[Prompt:] Family
[Summary:] He can't run from his surname.
__________

"I'm French," he answers when he's on job and people ask him where he's from - it's an old habit, accentuating his nationality, from way back when his father left for the Ivory Coast, leaving Claude with nothing but a big hole in his childhood naivety and a surname that could give people the wrong idea.

"I'm French," he says, cutting off half of his family tree. The half whose roots extend beyond the pond to a country Claude never visited willingly. Because he might not be able to run from his family name, but he can definitely run from them.


downplaying: ((( mr trench coat )))





[Title:] back cover
[Prompt:] History
[Summary:] Every book tells the same story about him.
__________

Claude Bérubé (born 1965)

Claude Laurent Bérubé is a French-Luxembourgian journalist and author who has lived and worked in various countries such as France, the Ivory Coast and Senegal as well as worked regular correspondent jobs all over the African continent.

Trained as a journalist from three different universities, he began his professional career as an author at age 22, contributing to an independent French-Senegalese poetry collection under the pseudonym Lau de C. In terms of genre, however, he now primarily writes celebrity biographies.

Privately, he resides in the vicinity of Luxembourg City with his spouse since 2010, Vincent Fortesque.


downplaying: ((( remember remember )))





[Title:] oblivious
[Prompt:] Without
[Summary:] There's no luxury to an unrequited love.
__________

It quickly becomes a romance he travels to and from, leaves (for Africa) only to return to later and on top of it, it's an unequal romance as well. Claude knows none of his feelings are reciprocated, not the affection (not in any way that matters) and certainly not the overwhelming desire. To fuck or be fucked, whatever would suit Matthieu better, but Matthieu regards him as a close colleague, hardly even as a friend and is as straight as an arrow anyway, even when dead drunk at Le Monde's annual Christmas party, hanging over Claude's shoulder. Oblivious.


downplaying: ((( browns and blacks )))





[Title:] a native tongue
[Prompt:] Meaningful
[Summary:] Two conclusions about Vincent's French.
__________

You can tell two different and very distinctive things from listening to Vincent speak French.

One, he’s definitely not of French descent. Sure, it’s a subtle difference, but Claude knows most of the French dialects by heart now, having travelled throughout his home country for so many years and the sort of… flatness to Vincent’s French corresponds with none of them.

Two, it’s obvious that Vincent has spoken French since birth – no pun, no wordplay is ever lost on him and you can try as you might to hide anything at all in your words, he’ll find it.

Easily. Effortlessly.


downplaying: ((( gentleman )))





[Title:] strauss, op. 114
[Prompt:] Obvious
[Summary:] He knows that waltz pose was perfect.
__________

It's just practice - and not even for any big contests. A small show at the annual Christmas market nearby, that's all. Nevertheless, Liliane drags them both to a halt in the middle of a perfect waltz pose, shoving his shoulder slightly as she steps back.

"You're doing it wrong, Claude!" Her voice is frail from teary frustration. Her beautifully shaped shoulders rising and falling in time with her breathing. In and out, the same motion he'd fucked her with. With about as much impact, too. Empty exhalations. So Claude doesn't defend himself.

Because they're not really talking about dancing anymore.


downplaying: ((( mr trench coat )))





[Title:] tastes
[Prompt:] Writer's Choice (Woman)
[Summary:] What if... Claude had fallen in love with Mireille Duroc.
__________

Claude realises – during one of their hour-long interview sessions – that he would really like to kiss her. Because Mireille is incredibly beautiful like this. Relaxed, with a cup of tea held gingerly between her slim fingers. There are several reasons as to why the urge should disturb him, of course. They’re both married, not to mention that he is, for all intents and purposes, very much… well, gay. But it has ceased to matter. Somewhere along the road, he’s fallen in love with her.

Months later, when he finally does kiss her, it’s like tasting a new kind of freedom.


downplaying: ((( the current picture )))





[Title:] für elise
[Prompt:] Innocent
[Summary:] What if... Vincent and Claude had gotten children.
__________

The watch on the nightstand reads 03.14 when Élise starts crying. “Your fucking turn,” Vincent mumbles, rolling over on his side, leaving Claude to get up and blindly make his way to her cradle near the foot of their bed.

She stares up at him through the darkness when he leans in to pick her up, her crying ceasing momentarily. As he adjusts her weight, she’s so light in his arms and he rocks her gently while heading for the kitchen where her bottles are stored.

“Hey little one,” he says in a low voice, smiling. “Don’t mind us, okay?”


downplaying: ((( ascending )))





[Title:] fool me once
[Prompt:] Hurt
[Summary:] Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice...
__________

Jean-Baptiste leaves Claude’s apartment in a huff, waving one hand in the air melodramatically and muttering in Luxembourgish under his breath. The door closes behind him, cutting off the stream of words that Claude doesn’t understand anyway, leaving the both of them alone. Jean-Baptiste on one side, Claude on the other. Claude sits down on the nearest chair, running a hand through his hair and sighing. Loudly. There goes. Another relationship. Because his man couldn’t keep his dick in his pants.

And when looking at himself in the mirror later that night, the only reason provided is his own face.


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Claude Bérubé

December 2015

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