The One with the Secret Closet
In hindsight, Claire wondered how she had missed it. How she had never really clued in before. It wasn't like she didn't know Owen. She had lived with him pre Lockwood, after all.
She blamed it on their time in the van. They hadn't had space to collect unnecessary stuff. There was nowhere to store anything extra, and so he had been limited to what fit. She just hadn't realized at the time that that was what was holding him back. She should've. She'd been by his "bungalow" on Nublar, after all.
Still, she was shocked when she pulled onto their driveway only to have to come to an immediate stop. The garage door was wide open and it looked like it had thrown up its contents all over the driveway. She barely had enough room to park her car at the very edge.
Her jaw dropping, Claire slowly climbed out of her car, gaze swinging wildly over the area. Finally, it locked on Owen, who was inside the garage, although he had looked up when she'd parked. "Oh my god, Owen!"
"What?" Owen replied, coming out of the garage. He was wearing old jeans and a ratty t-shirt, and she could see grease and dust and who knew what else covering him.
"What happened?!" Claire exclaimed.
"Just going through the garage," Owen shrugged, coming to stand by her.
She looked around again, before furrowing her brow, as a bigger question hit her: "Where did all this stuff come from?"
"What do you mean? From the garage," Owen looked over the contents on the driveway, before turning back to her in confusion.
"This? This was all in there?" Claire asked, gesturing wildly at the driveway and then pointing to the garage. "Are you sure?"
"Of course I'm sure," he replied, rolling his eyes. "Where else do you think it came from?"
"Owen, we just moved here two months ago," she said, turning to him. "How the hell did we accumulate this much stuff in that time? There's no way we had all this stuff before."
"Not all of it," he agreed. "But, there was everything from your condo, plus all the new stuff we had to get for this place, and then there's the stuff from my place…"
"Your place? What stuff from your place? You had a trailer and partially built cabin, Owen, how did you have 'stuff'?"
"I had a whole lot," Owen said, shrugging. "Tools add up. And you got me the motorcycle. I had to get other tools for working on it. And then there's everything that we didn't know where to put in the house. Did you know we still have unpacked boxes?" he pointed to a pile sitting on one side of the driveway. "I don't even know what's in them."
"How did all of this stuff fit in there?" Claire said, still unable to grasp the sheer volume of things that were now on the driveway. "Where were you keeping it all?" Her gaze darted between the driveway and the garage a few times. "Oh my god, you're Monica!" she exclaimed, her hand slapping against her forehead. "How did I never see this before?" Claire looked around dazedly for something to sit on, finally settling on the exercise bench.
"I'm who?" Owen looked from Claire to the garage and then back.
"Monica Geller. You know, from Friends," she said, cupping her head in her hands, elbows resting on her knees. Owen had to strain a bit to hear her, as her voice was muffled. "You cook. And apparently you pretend to be tidy. She had a secret closet and you..."
"I don't pretend," he replied, sounding offended as he moved to sit next to her. "I am tidy."
"What do you call this?" Claire said, not looking up as she waved at the driveway with her other hand."
"I'm reorganizing," he reminded her.
"I don't even know why I'm surprised," she said, ignoring his comment as a weak laugh escaped her. "I saw your place on Nublar. There was... shit everywhere. And your lot's like that, too."
"There's not 'shit' everywhere," he disagreed, looking offended at her characterization.
"Owen, when we went out there last time I found your frying pan sitting on the table with the cabin model. And when I went to you before Nublar, you had a canoe in the cabin."
"How is the canoe a mess?" Owen asked. "It had to go somewhere, at least there it was unlikely to get tripped over."
"Do you hear yourself?" Claire said. "Tripping? If everything is in its place there should never be tripping concerns." She lifted her head to take in everything still spread across the driveway. "We can't leave it like this."
"Wasn't going to," he agreed.
"How are you going to fit it all back in there?" she asked. "Where's it going to go? How's my car going to fit?"
"Well, you could always park on the driveway, like I do," Owen commented. She turned to him, aghast. "Kidding, kidding. It'll all fit. I needed to go through what I had. I've been thinking about rearranging the garage to make it more useable."
"What do you mean?"
"Well," Owen got up and reached for Claire's hand and pulled her up with him. He led her towards the garage. "So, you've got your office and Maisie and I have been planning out her tree house–"
"Right, and the garage is your space," she nodded.
"Well, I've been thinking about that," he said, stopping just under the garage door. "There's three main things that the garage is used for, and right now only your car usually has a clear area."
"Not my fault," Claire said, meaningfully looking over her shoulder at everything on the driveway.
"Anyway," Owen let go of her hand to wrap his arm around her shoulders, directing her view back into the garage. He lifted his hand, pointing as he spoke. "So, this area is where you park and that will stay the same. What I need, or what I want to do, is to set up separate areas for working on my motorcycle and the home gym stuff. Right now I'm constantly tripping over weights or tools whenever I'm out here."
"O-kay," Claire nodded, drawing out the word, a thoughtful look on her face. "That makes sense."
"Yeah, so I was thinking that this area," he gestured to their right, "could be my work area. I need more space for it really, then the gym. I mean, all we really have right now is my bench and weights."
"Maybe we should get some shelving units," she said. "We could put them all down that wall. And over here, we could get one of those work benches? Or some cupboards?"
"Yeah, shelves would help," he agreed. "I'd like to put up a big pegboard here. Then I can better organize most of my tools."
"You mean actually organize," she commented.
"Hey, I knew where everything was before," Owen said with a grin. "But, yeah, it could use some more organization."
"What if…" Claire started, her gaze jumping between the two sides of the garage.
"What if we swapped the side I park on?" she suggested. Their garage wasn't quite a rectangle, with one side extending further back by a few feet. It was the side Claire normally parked on, the back part of it having been full of boxes, until now. "If we did that, there'd be more space for your exercise bench. Maybe we could add a treadmill?"
"Sure," Owen nodded, eager. He had been thinking about a treadmill or an exercise bike, but hadn't known where they'd fit it.
"Where's Maisie?" Claire asked, realizing she hadn't seen her since she'd arrived home.
"Out back," he said. "She didn't want to help."
"Shocking," Claire said, rolling her eyes. "Well, if you're going to do this, we should probably go get some shelves."
"Well, doesn't have to be right this minute," she said, "but if we don't get them tonight, where were you going to put everything?"
"Oh." Owen looked a little chagrined, his gaze darting behind them to the driveway, before he added, sheepishly, "I guess I didn't think that far ahead. I didn't even mean to start this, really, but I was looking for my favourite pliers and…"
Claire sighed, shaking her head at him. Although, she wasn't surprised. He often jumped into things before thinking them all the way through. "You better start measuring. I'll go get Maisie."
Owen nodded, his gaze darting around as he tried to remember where he'd put the measuring tape. He looked up, just as Claire was about to disappear through the doorway into the house. "Oh, Claire?" Owen called out, and she turned back to look at him. "You might want to change first…"
"Well…" Owen winced, before holding up his hands. "Sorry."
Claire quickly looked side to side, finally catching sight of the black grease splotch on her left shoulder. "Owen!"