Date: April 05, 2010
Turns out Claire's birthday party goes a lot like Family Brunch. Just with more yelling, no nosey reporters and less brunch.
"Just Like Brunch"
The table isn't huge, and the pile of gifts doesn't overflow, but there are a few. Carefully wrapped presents, mostly dark blue shiny paper, with ribbons, and whatever it is the grandmother may have put together. There's no cake visible, cause it's in the freezer, made of ice cream.
Peter stands near the end of the table, looking at his watch and making a frowning face. "He said he was going to be stopping by. Maybe I should go get him." He even starts to move as if getting ready to go.
The birthday girl — now 20 — actually set aside her cut-off jeans and sweats that she'd been wearing around the house for the event, and is dressed in dress of all things — just a casual wrap dress in a black and white damask print, her feet in black flip flops. She drums her nails on the table, glancing from Peter to Angela and back — they'd run out of any new conversation days ago, let alone in the several minutes they've been waiting on Nathan.
"Don't worry on my account. My feelings aren't hurt," Claire says quietly. For once they're not — she knows that if he's avoiding them, it's Angela he's avoiding. "But you know, for the plan to talk sense into him… I don't know he'll listen if you bring him forcibly though."
Angela reaches out for Peter's arm as he almost makes his way past. "Claire's right. He'll either come or he won't," she reminds him sharply from her seat at the table. "You should know you can't make Nathan do anything." A statement which extends beyond this gathering into much darker realities, perhaps, a fact which prompts Angela to wave her other hand and smile. On the table with the gifts is a wide vase of flowers, lilies and other varieties in a decorative splash of blues and greens. "If he doesn't show I'm sure it's not about Claire, unless her twentieth birthday is reminding him of his middle age."
Despite Peter losing faith that he is indeed coming, Nathan pads to the back door — he's coming to the house from behind. It took him a lot longer to get here than expected. Mostly because the present he's carrying wasn't too fond of flying, in fact, it cried every time he hovered from the ground. And so Nathan took the train and it cried on the train. "You're just a big baby," he murmurs to the floppy-eared, blue ribbon wearing, chocolate lab puppy (whose ears and feet are far too big for his body) he holds close to his chest.
He opens it with one hand, prompting the puppy to squirm a little within his arm cradling him. "You're okay," he urges quietly while stepping into the house and padding towards the table where his family are seated. He walks over to Claire, aiming to drop the puppy into her lap. "Happy birthday, Claire," he issues her a smile.
"Well I'm worried," Peter says, beginning to close his eyes, about ready to teleport out to make sure that his brother hasn't been picked up on the way here— or something. It could happen. But he doesn't get that far. The back door opens with a sound, and his eyes pop open to see a new addition to the house— no, not Nathan.
A squirmy puppy with too big ears and feet. It will one day be a big dog, but right now, it's tiny and getting dropped into the birthday girl's lap. "Nathan— I was starting to think you wouldn't show. A puppy, huh."
In a way, it makes him miss his dog. The one he had to give up. "Well, I think you may win best present award." And despite those words, he's smiling.
"I —" There's a dog in her lap. Claire blinks, first at her biological father, and then down at the puppy, her arms coming around to hold it before it wriggles off of her lap. "Oh, my God. He's already bigger than Mr. Muggles," she says, laughing as the little brown puppy noses and licks her face. "It's so cute, but … I mean…"
Her eyes go to Peter — it's his house, after all. "Is it okay to have a dog here?" she asks, even as she stands, the puppy picked up and held against her chest, to give Nathan a hug. "Thank you." Her green eyes swim with tears that may seem a bit dramatic, but she knows how angry he is at Angela, and yet he came anyway.
Speaking of being angry at Angela— the woman in queston forgoes greeting Nathan entirely, but she certainly does stare; they haven't spoken since the night she arrived here. Her pierced gaze and raising eyebrows aren't only for her son, but for the creature he carries. In addition, the puppy earns an incredulous look that could nearly be amused, if it weren't for Angela's otherwise stern face. When she looks at Claire, however, it softens — by a margin. "I hope you have somewhere to put it when you go back to college."
Nathan envelopes his daughter in the hug. "You're welcome. I hope you like him." He plants a kiss on her forehead before releasing her moments later. "Hey. Hey. Hey, no reason to cry, puppy does enough of that for everyone," he says gently with a small smile.
He pads over to Peter and gives his brother's shoulder a squeeze, "Sorry I'm late. The puppy didn't like flying. Taking a cab seemed unwise. So I took the train and then walked. He didn't like the train either, for the record." But the effort was worth it for the reaction. He grins.
And then his gaze turns to Angela, his smile turning into something entirely different: complete and total strain. It's diplomatic, but his eyes can't even reflect diplomacy. "Hi Ma," he manages with a small wave. Instinctually he takes a step towards her to plant a kiss on her cheek and stops himself mid-action, choosing a chair instead.
"Of course he can stay, Claire, we have a big enough back yard, and I'm sure everyone in the house can pitch in and take him for walks. Or I can," Peter offers, looking at the puppy and unable to keep from smiling. It reminds him of childhood, the dogs that they'd owned together. They'd been good dogs. All of them. It actually makes him forget he should be stomping his foot and telling his brother not to be a dumbass. "I guess I should bring the cake out, now," he adds, moving to the freezer to pull out the decorated cake. It's decorated with sugar flowers and frosting, as he puts it down to let it thaw out enough so it can be cut.
"If puppy didn't like flying, he probably won't be Super Dog." Mr. Muggles would be jealous anyway.
"Poor puppy, did flying scare you?" Claire croons to the little puppy, going back to sit in her chair, cuddling the puppy. "He can be Super Dog, even if he can't fly. He can be anything he wants to!" Her voice is sweetly singsong, babyish in the way people speak to animals like they're babies. "Oh, God, I just turned into my mother."
She closes her eyes and opens them again, saying to the dog in a much more Claire sort of voice, "I will never talk to you like that again, I promise." She flashes a grin at the rest, and then at the cake. "Yay, cake," she adds, then nods to the chair. "Sit, Nathan."
A strained smile is given to Nathan in return from his mother, especially strained when he stops himself and sits down. Her dark eyes are watchful on him, but the smile remains as she looks around the table, well-mannered, not addressing the elephant in the room for the sake of Claire. Angela's smile warms. "Happy birthday, Claire."
Nathan smirks as he sits in the appointed chair that he was standing behind. "Yes ma'am," he manages another grin at Claire, today is about her, right? It seems he did well with the gift at least. Is grin slips into strain again very easily as he steals another glance towards his mother. He manages to hold his tongue and remain silent.
Now, Peter's the only one still on his feet, and he's not moving to sit down, either, cause who else will serve the cake? He could do it with telekinesis, if needed, but right now, he's just doing things the old fashioned way. "I got you a couple presents too, they're the shiny blue ones," he says, pointing at the wrapped boxes. There's also cards, with silly little things on them, jokes about her age, and how happy they are to have her, things like that.
One box has a necklace, with a green gemstone, the other one— has a matching bracelet.
Claire beams when Nathan sits, happy to have her family together for the moment — this family, anyway. She called her mom and Lyle earlier, but kept the conversation short and sweet lest she get too maudlin about being away from them. "Thanks," she says to Peter, watching him for a moment — who's going to start the Natervention? Certainly not her. She reaches for the first of his shiny blue papered presents, reading the card and smiling, then ripping the wrapping. "Ooh, pretty," she sighs, holding the necklace up to show the others.
"Very nice," Nathan admires the jewelry with a small smile. He'd considered getting her jewelry, but had opted for the puppy instead. He bites his bottom lip as he glances at his mother once again, still unsure whether to even broach the subject on his mind. Of course, he shouldn't, not yet, anyways, it's Claire's birthday.
He shifts uncomfortably in his chair with that still-strained smile playing on his lips. Quietly, he rests his hand on his table and drums his fingers against it gently.
Oddly enough, Peter has a good eye for jewelry. No, that's not because he was supposed to be a girl. It probably does have a lot to do with their mother's taste in jewelry, though. Though these could hardly be as expensive as what his mother would have been buying herself with their father's bank account. He's a little more frugile. Even with a thief for a girlfriend.
"So Nathan, what exactly are you planning for your press conference?" Any chance he was going to quietly tiptoe to the topic have been blown out of the water.
Claire finishes unwrapping the bracelet as well, murmurs her thanks, and slips it on — this takes a while due to the wriggling puppy in her arms. She leaves the other presents aside for the time being when Peter finally broaches the topic, addressing the neon-pink elephant in the middle of the room. She turns to look at Nathan, her green eyes large and her mouth shut as she waits to hear his response.
Angela shoots a quick, warning look Peter's way — a precise warning to tread carefully, not to stop. "Well I'm glad someone said it." Folding her hands on the table, a touch more anxious a gesture than her usual, it's Nathan who she now focuses upon: all eyes are no on him.
Save perhaps for the dog's.
That was unexpected. From Peter, anyways. Nathan sideglances his mother, Claire, and then turns to face Peter. Things are starting to make more sense. "Huh," he manages, through a tightened jaw. He manages to relax it some as he responds, "My press conference? My people aren't holding a press conference." It's not even a lie; George's people are doing it. He stares at the table, "But there's no mention of abilities, if that's your concern. It's about illegal weapons trade. Just enough to alert the public without outing anyone. And before anyone publicly answers for any of it, it'll be swept under the rug, anyways." And quite possibly his political career with it.
He looks at his mother and then back to Claire and Peter. "Is this an intervention? I'm not an addict, I'm not being reckless. I'm a Senator; I'm doing my job. And all that it entails." He slides his chair out from the table, no longer feeling much like sitting.
"If your people aren't behind it, then let whoever is do the announcement. They must have clout if you've got then to call the conference at all." Peter says, putting the candles in place as he talks, which lets him hide his concern as he does busy work. 1, 2, 3, 4…
He picks up the cake, and carries it over to set it in front of the birthday girl. It would appear, judging by the big knife, he's trusting her to cut the cake. Blood and icecream don't mix! Or so he hopes she realizes. A hand waves over the 20 candles and suddenly they're all lighting up. One of the many abilities he picked up in recent years.
"We just want you to be safe, Nathan," Claire says softly. "Here, hold the puppy," she says, pushing the dog toward him so that it doesn't get in flaming candles or frosting. Dog saliva isn't very good on birthday cake, either. "Cheater," she adds to Peter when he uses his power to light the rest of the candles, though her lips curve into an uneasy smile. She bites her lower lip and thinks for a moment, a little furrow of her brow as she glances at her father once more, before turning to blow out the candles. Angela and Peter can probably guess her wish.
"You know full well it could go wrong, I know, I've had years of experience sweeping things under the rug," Angela counters with instant adamancy. The flare of the birthday candles distracts her — or rather, Claire seems to. The elder Petrelli is somber as her granddaughter makes her wish. She looks from fire to Nathan with a glimmer in her eye. "I'm not going to sit here and pretend you don't already know why we're talking about this. I tried to tell you and you wouldn't listen."
Nathan hmmms quietly before shaking his head at Peter's comment. "Sometimes things aren't that simple. And if I'm going to my job, the job that I'll remind you," he looks specifically at his mother, "I was pushed into rather reluctantly before I had my memory back —" Of course, Brayden was far less stubborn and basically gave into whatever Angela asked. Go figure. But then, he didn't know the history and couldn't remember his family at all. " — I have to be the one on the podium."
"I know full-well I'm doing what I can and using what little influence I have as one of the first-ever fugitive Senators to repair what's been done. I just hope to god it's not too little too late." He swallows and shakes his head again, "And you know full-well why I didn't listen — your future and your predictions are unpredictable. You have no idea what will happen. You can't jeopardize my life, the lives of my children, and my… well, Heidi, and expect me to pretend everything is okay, can you? Really?" He purses his lips.
"Nathan you don't have to do it," Peter says, stepping away from the birthday girl's cake to give his brother a hard look. Yes, he's a cheater. He could have cheated a lot more, too. But lightning all twenty candles would have taken forever, so this way she gets to wish faster! Or that was his idea. The wish that he hopes Claire is making happens to be his as well. He wants his brother to stay out of danger— he already lost him enough times. "Please, you don't have to be the one, Nathan. It— it can be someone else. It doesn't have to be you."
Claire's green eyes, much like the puppy's, flit from person to person, and she turns to Nathan after Peter speaks. "I'm proud of you for wanting to do your job, and do a good job, but not if it endangers you. We're not saying we should all sit by and do nothing but maybe we can discuss … alternatives. Something that we can all agree to? Is that possible?" She bites her lower lip and nods to the chair. "Please? Just talk to us. You don't have to … you don't have to agree with the things she's done before but you have to listen if death is a possibility, right?"
"Please?" she adds, for good measure.
Angela is quiet for a moment — allowing for Peter and Claire — before she speaks up, her voice gaining a whispery, but harsh, quality. "No, you're right, my dreams aren't always clear," she says, but she is far from conceding. She rises to her feet abruptly, staring down Nathan with an intense gaze that do not mirror the three pairs of puppy dog eyes in the room. "I've seen a lot of things lately that I'd rather not come true and if you think you can stop those I'm proud of you, all I know is I'd rather not lose my son again in the process."
She turns on her heel and whisks around the table briskly, past the birthday girl and the presents and cake and Peter. Where there was a whispery voice, there is now a rapidly rising one as Angela seems to cut a path straight out of the room. "Do whatever you will, Nathan — the future can be changed."
Peter's hard look is met with a substantially softer one from his older brother. Nathan can feel himself wavering, just a little, a softness in his eyes reflecting his true thoughts, "I can't ask anyone to do something I won't." His eyebrows furrow at Peter, "That's what leadership is, right? Doing what it takes?" His voice is substantially gentler, softer.
To Claire he offers a very weak smile, "Life is full of danger these days, Claire. When we step outside, we're endangering ourselves. I'm trying to make the world safer for all of us. And if that means…" he swallows as his voice breaks. He can't say it, even if in a way he's already accepted whatever will happen.
Gaping at his mother, Nathan shakes his head as he traipses after her, the softness drained from his eyes, replaced with fierce determination. "The future can be changed, but to what end?! And who's to say our changes won't create the future you'd envisioned? When will us Petrellis stop trying to change the future? You've done it. Pete's done it…" He swallows, "I'm guessing Dad did it… hich begs another question, why did he feel it necessary to give babies synthetic abilities? Was that another Petrelli-future-fix?" He stands close behind her, his eyes narrowing, "Why? Logan wanted armies. What did he want?"
"Syn… Synthetic abilities? How is that possible?" Claire asks, looking from Nathan to her exiting grandmother and then to Peter, frowning a little as she sees he's giving up. She doesn't agree that Angela's tactics are good, but she isn't okay with Nathan going about actions that are likely going to get him killed, either. She frowns and picks up the knife to slice the cake before it melts, busying herself with the task instead of looking at anyone. Cutting the cake might keep her from crying.
If there's one thing the Petrelli's have in common, it's their own brand of stubborness. Peter looks at Nathan for a time, as he argues, and speaks ideally, and then he lets out a sigh. It's one of him giving up. Finally, he falls into the chair, and looks at the puppy, who luckily doesn't have to deal with any of this.
"I think dad wanted to create a world where we ruled. Specifically him, I'm sure, but people like us. Deciding the coarse of things." It's speculation, but that's what he's seeing. Every future he's seen was horrible… What if the one Nathan will make is even worse? But… He looks across at his mother.
She said she had a back up plan. Maybe they'll have to go with it after all.
"Syn… Synthetic abilities? How is that possible?" Claire asks, looking from Nathan to her exiting grandmother and then to Peter, frowning a little as she sees he's giving up. She doesn't agree that Angela's tactics are good, but she isn't okay with Nathan going about actions that are likely going to get him killed, either. She frowns and picks up the knife to slice the cake before it melts, busying herself with the task instead of looking at anyone. Cutting the cake might keep her from crying.'
Vehemently ignoring Nathan (or seeming to), it doesn't seem as if Angela is going to stop marching away until she very suddenly does, whirling around to meet Nathan. The fierceness in her eyes is not unlike his, but those eyes widen, become surprised. She looks from him to Peter, past him to Claire with a frown, and back again. "I imagined you'd find out about that some day, all things considered," she says soberly. All things considered because of the later version of the formula that surfaced thanks to Arthur — and Logan. But the origin…
"Back then, it wasn't only your father's doing, it was— it was the Company, it was genetic experiments. We were trying our hand at playing God. A number of infants who weren't born with the genetic code for abilities were given the formula. At least some of us had the good sense to realize it was wrong and make amends. But yes. You could say we fixed the future." Angela, smiling without warm, but with a twitch of regret, gives Nathan a pointed look. "We fixed yours, Nathan."
"Unbelievable!" Nathan's temper has gone from a simmer to an all-out boil. "So you caused all of this for me! ALL of it!" He twitches as he takes a step away from his mother. "I —I don't want this. Any of this. Tampering with the future…" his head shakes again. eyebrows furrow as the distance grows between them. "I never asked for this." The Senator's features are grim, narrowed eyes and a prominent frown have virtually transformed him. "Experiments. Nice, Ma. Nice. H-how could you?" He can't imagine a world where he (not Logan) would let that happen to Simon or Monty.
"You did what?" Peter asks in surprise, eyes on his mother now, rather than trying to command his brother to do something that he's obviously not going to do. "You did that to Nathan? What if— I saw what that thing did to people. I know what dad had wasn't complete, but— he could have gotten anything at all. You could have…" Turned him into a nuclear bomb? Was he given his ability too? No, he honestly doesn't want to know.
None of them asked for any of this. Claire didn't. Peter didn't. Maybe his mother did, but he's sure there's things in her past she's not proud of or that she didn't want to happen…
But then there's a beeping sound in his pockets, and he reaches to grab his phone. Any other time, he would ignore the call for his niece's birthday, but right now— things are far too important. The phone is bought up to his ear, to listen. Who is on the other side?
"You fixed his… Do you mean by giving me away?" Claire demands, turning to look at Angela, but then Peter discusses abilities, and yes, for once she realizes the world doesn't revolve around her. Sometimes. But then, sometimes, it really really does.
She glances down at the melting cake angrily and gives a shake of her head. "No one's eating this now, might as well put it away." She packs it up, avoiding everyone's eyes. Her own are fiercely trying to keep angry and frustrated tears at bay, and right now she's losing the battle.
Interestingly enough, with the flare up of Nathan's anger, Angela's cools. There might just be a flash of guilt in her eye when she regards Peter but, to Claire (who is correct), she's steely, though the new twenty year old is only treated to this look when she's avoiding it.
"Your father was disappointed that you weren't born without any… special powers," she explains slowly to Nathan, with, yes, some attempt at delicacy; likely lost. She seems to notice Peter and his important phone call out of the corner of her eye; it's a good a change of subject as any. "Peter, is everything alright?"
"Unbelievable," Nathan sputters again, raising his hand to his head and taking another step away from his mother. "I have nothing else to say to you. Regard your future how you want; I'd be more concerned about fixing mistakes of the past," the words are said coldly. Peter is regarded for a moment before Nathan follows Claire into the kitchen where he regards her, "I'm sorry. This wasn't supposed to… I didn't want… this is your birthday…" and it's turned into a fight of sorts. He sighs.
"Some family we are," Peter mutters as he puts the phone away into his pockets. With a flick of his wrist, his coat flies off the coat rack near the door across the room and into his hand, and he puts it on as he speaks, "There's a report of something possibly ability related going on in the meatpacking district. I have to go check it out." Either stop them before it gets worse, or save them before AP gets there. His contact? Most likely himself, in this case. For all they know he may have a clone sitting next to a radio listening to the police band all day long…
"Nathan, stay with Claire. I'll be back as soon as I can." And oddly, he doesn't say goodbye to his mother, before he disappears.
To save the fucking day.
"I'm sorry we ambushed you. We just wanted to … she told us she dreamed you dead, and I can't lose you. I just found you," Claire whispers, leaning her forehead against the freezer door rather than looking at him. "I just thought we could figure things out for once as a family instead of …"
She pushes off from the refrigerator and scoops the puppy up to bury her face in his chocolatey fur. "It was a mistake." She glances back over her shoulder as Peter leaves, and shakes her head. "You don't have to stay." She looks up, her green eyes teary but angry. "I wouldn't."
Nathan doesn't feel much like sticking around, but it's Claire's birthday, and she's upset. And he cares. In a moment of fatherly instinct, he opens his arms envelopes the puppy and his daughter in a hug. "I know. I get it," he whispers quietly before glancing towards the door. "You don't need to apologize." He smiles faintly.
With a small smirk he releases her from the hug and reaches for her hand. "You don't have to stay either. Come with me…? Where would you like to go? Probably best if it's not in the US… I hear Fiji's nice this time of the year…" He manages a small smile.
"I think it's hurricane season," Claire says wryly, but she takes his hand and smiles. "If I said yes, would it keep you away from the press conference?" she says, slipping the dog down to the ground and sighing. "She'll go sit in her room and pretend we don't exist. You don't have to fly away… we can watch a movie or something… til Peter gets home to be sure he's okay, and so he doesn't disown you."
"It's good to know her battle tactics haven't changed," Nathan's tone verges on sardonic. He doesn't address the comment about the press conference, instead sighing. "Are you sure you can't leave? I know a great little pub in Cork, Ireland… bet I could get us free drinks… maybe…" After getting slapped. Things didn't exactly end well with Caitlin. Although he did leave with the crew's blessing. Oddly.
"You're right though, we should make sure Pete gets back."
"And we have cake," Claire says, though for now it's put away. She frowns at the dog. "Do we have dog food and stuff? Is he potty trained? I don't know how to train a puppy. And I need a name. Any ideas?" she heads to the living room to find a DVD she hasn't watched, pulling out the box of movies to rummage through. "At any rate, this will be a birthday I remember."
"He's not trained… well he's paper trained, but I'm always skeptical about that, and I'll get food and stuff when Peter gets back." Nathan says thoughtfully, scooping up the brown lab, as he follows her into the living room. "Just please don't give him a fluffy name… like Bubbles." Or Muggles. "I'm just sorry it's not a better memory." And then, muttering, he adds, "It went about as well as family brunch."
Ah, good ol family brunch.
Suddenly there's a shift in the air. Peter wasn't gone very long at all. But there's red stains on his clothes, from the blood, dust and debris, broken rocks all over him. And the coat he tk'd across the room? Gone. No where to be seen. "I need to go change," he says, shaking his head as if he'd not intended to teleport into the kitchen. He looks tired, sweaty, and as if something blew up on him. But the blood must not be him, cause his clothes aren't even showing the tale tell signs of cuts.
"And no, don't ask."