2007-09-10: A Father-Daughter Chat


Claire_icon.gif Noah_icon.gif

Summary: Claire and Noah talk. About cheerleading, school, Evelyn and what to not tell Peter.

Date It Happened: September 10, 2007

A Father-Daughter Chat

Noah's Office — Bennet Home

Bill, bill, bill, bill.

The papers are put on desk, Noah's office mostly neat save the load of papers that are opened and organized due to importance and nature of need. Seems like the closer to a big city you are, the more junk mail you get. In the flood of other mail is a letter for Claire. Written by one of the nicer friends she had back in Texas, it's already opened. There is no sign that Noah tried to hide it, as it's ripped across the top. It's set by itself on top of the keyboard, likely to remind him to talk to Claire about it… Or just give it back to her. Currently, he's looking through his credit card statement, making sure nothing was purchased without his or his family's consent. After all, the Bennets have too much to deal with without adding identity theft to the list.

Eventually emerging from its den, it is the (not-so-)elusive Clairebear. Note, its blonde lockes pulled back into a lazy ponytail and headband holding errant strands of golden hair back from her face. Currently wearing a simple pair of grey running pants with pink stripes down the sides and a pink tee shirt, the beast is currently sipping away at a bottle of water. When the creature hears the rustle of papers in the office, it turns its head and peers down the hall. Quietly, the Bear makes its way towards said office, movement muffled by the white socks on its feet.

When Claire finally makes it to the door of the office, she peers inside. "Dad?" Her head rears back, face scrunching up with a little bit of disbelief. "You're home early."

Dressed in a gray dressed shirt, black socks, and a black tie, it's clear that Noah went to work today. Glancing up toward his special bundle of joy, he merely gives a weak smile as he puts down the paper to look at his daughter. "I didn't feel that hungry today… So I just decided to spend my lunch hour here. I only have thirty minutes or so before I have to go back… Sometimes it's nice to have your lunch break be an actual break." Does Noah do this often? If you consider the one time 'often'? He sure does!

Taking the letter addressed for Claire, the father offers it to her without standing up. "Sorry about the envelope… saw the address and didn't see that it was labeled for you. I think it's from…" he pauses as he looks at the front for a reminder. "Mandy? You know a Mandy right?"

There's a frown of confusion that plays on Claire's lips, and it shifts imperceptibly into a frown of sullen displeasure as she crosses the room to take the letter. Her father opened her mail. Whether it was actually an accident or not is really up in the air, but it's not worth arguing about. Not right now, anyway. "Yeah. I do." She didn't give Mandy the new address, so how that happened to get out is anyone's guess. And she sure as heck isn't going to tell her father that — he hardly needs is an excuse to search through more of her stuff. Thus, all she offers is a simple and non-committal "Thanks."

It's okay, Claire, he's likely already looked into it. After all, if Claire promised to not give the addresses out, either she lied to him, somehow Mandy found her again, or something is trying something. Hopefully, it's Option B. Social networking can be an evil thing sometimes.

Understanding that his daughter is unhappy with the letter, Noah just lets the subject change as swiftly as he can. "No problem. So, how is school going? Got a feel of how the homework's gunna be yet?" he asks, turning his chair in order to give Claire his full attention.

Claire operates under no delusions and has no doubt that Dear Ol' Dad's on this like a tick on a hound. But she, at least, didn't lie about this. Not this time.

Still not looking happy, even through the false smile Claire paints on her face, she shrugs and folds the letter — envelope and all — under her arms to sit with her water bottle. "I can actually read. I think that means I have a head start on twenty-five percent of the school." There's a pause and then a shallow little chuckle. "Just don't tell me to start pretending I'm illiterate to blend in, and I think I'll be okay."

Bennet replies to the false smile with a smile of its own. Is it a lie too? "Claire," he begins, his tone gentle as he rises up slowly. "You don't need to pretend to be dumb. You're an intelligent and beautiful girl who is going to turn out to be a wonderful woman. I just want you to be careful." He is about to say something else as he gives a faintly troubled look for just a second, but decides against it. He moves to get on his jacket, removing it from the coat rack. It seems like he is starting to get ready to go.

And then, for she is teenager, Claire does what teenagers do best: she toes the line. There's a tiny bounce of her body as knees act like tiny little pistons, setting her whole frame into motion over a careful slide of her hips in her very best 'Daddy, Please' sway. "So does that mean I get cheerleading back? If I'm careful? I mean, involvement in afterschool activities is endorsed by most Parent-Teacher Organizations as the single best way to help keep your kids off of drugs. That… That should count for something."

"Cheerleading?" There is a long pause. On one hand, this leads or could lead to problems. Should the team do well, she will be seen by many people. There is a chance a cheerleading accident could reveal her powers. On the other hand, this is Claire's life and letting her do this now gives him the leverage on things later on.

"…I suppose on THREE conditions." Noah begins, putting on his jacket as he lists off the requirements. First, you stay low to the ground. No pyramid tops or getting tossed in the air. Last thing you need is to break an arm, only for it to mend in five seconds. You get a major injury and they know about it, off the rest of the season to let it 'recover'. Secondly, there are NO boyfriends unless they get my express permission. I find out about any secrets involving the first two and the only after school activity you'll be part of is the Computer Club. Are we clear?"

UGH. Computer club. He can't be serious about that part because… ew. But… cheerleading. It's a start. Still in bargaining mode, Claire bites her lower lip. It's a crappy public high school squad that doesn't even rank anywhere. Seriously, is he going to make her sit at the bottom of a pyramid? And she's short! Short people don't belong on the bottoms of pyramids. "What if I promise to not fall? Can I not have people step on me?" Insert more adolescent bobbing at the knees, as if she'd never had to play company agent ever at all. "Pleeeeease?"

Noah is a Company Man. Deals are not bartered, they are offered. "If you want to focus on your studies this years, I'll more than understand. Middle of the pyramid isn't worth all the work of staying after school." Noah moves to his briefcase, making sure he has everything in it. Once he does, he closes it up and locks it up.

"Fine," Claire offers with a tiny bit of petulance to her tone, but a sigh and look of resignation reign supreme. "Middle of the pyramid. It'll go really well with my middle of the bell curve." It won't be her fault if she gets promoted, right? Assuming she gets on the winter squad, anyway. Noah's got a while to worry about it. And the boyfriend thing? That is so easy to promise when you don't have one. Thus, all of this gets filed away into a big Claire Folder labeled proudly: Ask for Forgiveness Later if Necessary.

"The third condition is that you be grateful that I'm willing at all to consider this after Costa Verde. While you might be quick to forget things like that, I'm not… Hope you enjoy yourself and remember our deal." Noah bends down to give his adoptive child a hug, still holding the briefcase in one had at his side.

"Before I go, there's one important thing you need to know. That person that is said to have caused that horrible windstorm that destroys New York? It's Evelyn Tash. Try not to get close to her, the Company is aware of her. Just because they promised to leave you alone doesn't mean they might accidentally forget their deal in the heat of the moment. I want you to be safe above all else." Getting up, Noah adds an important side note. "Don't tell Peter. However, you can tell him that I don't appreciate him withholding information involving my daughter's safety." It's odd that Noah would share information like that out of the blue, but Claire did serve the Company for awhile… And it seems like things might get problematic for that Evelyn girl.

Claire is in the middle of celebrating her tiny victory when …Noah drops a flippin' bombshell on her. Whipping around to face her father, her entire face is contorted into the folds and creases of a seventeen year old's righteous fury. After everything that the younger of the two Bennets has been through, he should know better than tell her to steer clear of a girl whom she's going to assume must be somewhere around her own age… because of what the damnable Company has in store for her. "Excuse me?!"

"You heard me" is the simple reply, HRG having used most of his allotted word count for this conversation. Noah moves toward the kitchen, planning on getting himself a V8 or two for the road. It's not the tastiest treat around, but at least it's sustenance and is good for him.

And Claire is right behind him, be-socked feet making a whole lot more noise now. Her hands are thrust out at her sides emphatically. "You can't be serious! You're gonna let that stupid Company do something to her? She hasn't even done anything yet. You could let Peter help her! I could help her!"

Noah had hoped she would take a far less direct approach to her anti-Company efforts. It seems like indirect is a word that only he seems to be aware of when it comes the 'Heroes'. "I can't talk about what I'm doing, but what I'm trying to do is for the family. I promise I'll be doing all that I can. As for Peter, he is getting to be a much more competent individual with his powers, but he is not a person I'd put all my faith in. Not yet."

Peter's all with the don't help. Dad's all with the don't help. Claire's thus left with sit around and pretend you're ordinary. Which is all well and good, except that she's not and it's driving her UP THE WALL. Her hands are balled up in angry little fists at her side as she glowers at her father. She hated being with the Company. HATED it. They treated like a prisoner or slave or tool depending on the day of the week and how well she'd been behaving herself.

But at least they recognized she was different and had plans to let her do something someday, maybe, that would have — Oh, who are we kidding? Nothing good was going to come out of it. But right now Claire is remarkably angry and frustrated and her brain goes there for a split-second. It passes.

"Fine. Whatever," she finally spits out, audibly releasing a flippant sigh. Her hand nearly goes up into the disrespectful accompanying hand gesture, but she stops herself short. "I'll go to school, avoid 'Evelyn Tash' if I ever see her, and just forget we had this conversation. Claire Ordinaire Strikes Again." They don't want to let her help? That's okay. Great, even. She'll just do it on her own. Stop Tash; eliminate one more ingredient of the Doom Future that didn't have her in it. Unfortunately… this is New York. It could take a really, really, really long while.

That's okay! We'll just file this under 'Long Term Goals.'

"Thatta girl, Claire. Trust me, I'll get resolved soon. Just focus on your homework. When you get all As, then we can discuss more noble side efforts." Is he serious? Who knows. Not like Claire's gunna get all As anyway. While she's smart, she doesn't exactly apply herself to classes she isn't thrilled in… Like most of them.

Moving to give Claire a hug, he continues in his most important duties. Being a protective father. "Now, I KNOW you were going to ask me if you could go be with Peter for the ice skating, so I'll just answer you now. Yes. Though be careful what you say around him, okay? He means well, but…" He stops himself, giving his beloved daughter a kiss on the head. "Time for me to head back to work, I'll see you later though, okay?"

"Yeah," Claire offers sullenly through a smile, even as she looks down at the opened letter in her hands. The betrayal of privacy — while perhaps with her best interests at heart — coupled with the lack of trust are not sitting well with the Bennet girl. Her stomach churns, but she finally manages to the superficially respectful response that Noah is undoubtedly awaiting. "Have a good rest of the day at work, Dad." And with that, she stretches up on the balls of her feet to offer a kiss to his cheek.

It would be foolish for Noah to think that his daughter agrees with his logic. She might understand him and his reasoning, but even if she does, seeing eye to eye won't be possible for years if ever. She still believes that good people can always overcome, that love and hope are far stronger than cunning and foresight. Part of him hopes she'll learn better, part of him hopes she'll never have to.

"I'll try, Clairebear. See you tonight." With that, he releases her and makes his way out the door with a solemn look. Apparently he's gotten a couple of business meeting with people that ALSO don't see things as they should. Thankfully, Mr. Bennet does for the Company what Noah does for home… Make sure things stay on the right track.

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