2010-03-30: Little Too Little Too Late

Starring:

Claire_V4icon.pngNathan2_V4icon.png

Date: March 30, 2010

Summary:

Claire and Nathan chat. Things… change. Maybe.


"Little Too Little Too Late"

Petrelli Safehouse

Boring. Bored. Boredom. Sure, she can come and go, but there's no where she wants to go that would possibly endanger people she cares about. Claire lies on her stomach on the couch, flipping through Us magazine — total trash, but at least it keeps her mind off the fact she misses her family and that she's worried about Noah.

She looks like the typical teenager (only for a few more days!) with her legs kicked up behind her, bare feet adorned with little pink toe separators as she air dries her toenail polish — which is not so pink or so sweet, but instead a deep deep red that's almost black. It suits her mood.

Unfortunately, the next page of the magazine stills her flipping hand — there is a picture of Nathan, the smile she hates, that fake one! And underneath is an article discussing how he is supposedly ill. "Ugh," she says, shutting the magazine and flinging it across the room — toward the door.

Fortunately for Nathan, Claire just misses him — the magazine grazes his leg, "Hey watch it!" he manages before actually padding into the room. He still has the helmet tucked under his arm despite ditching his motorcycle last night. Fortunately Brayden still had money stockpiled in a foreign bank account, it lets the Senator do what he needs to financially without being tracked. It's great being a former criminal who hid money so he could access it later.

He, however, sees the picture — lying on the floor, there he is. He can't help but smirk before plucking it from the floor. The media are in for a shock. But not yet. Not yet. His gaze then turns to Claire, "Hi Claire…" He frowns — a stark-contrast to his smiling face in US. "I… how are you?" as he speaks he pads over to the small bag of clothes he'd purchased after getting out of AP custody — nothing fancy, but there's no reason to spend more money on it.

"Bored," Claire says, sitting up, carefully swinging her feet around so she doesn't mess up the perfectly painted toes. "I didn't throw that because it was you, by the way," she says, cheeks flushing a little in case he thought she was angry at him. "Just the fact that… you know. That they're covering up where you are, and telling these screwed up lies, you know?" She stretches her legs out to flop them on the coffee table, watching him through narrowed eyes. "I didn't hear the motorcycle. Did you fly?" There may have been the sound of a car pulling up, but she didn't notice if there was.

Relief crosses Nathan's features as she explains why she threw the magazine. "Yeah, I flew." Nathan nods. With the helmet. Not that he needed the helmet for that, but after having to break through Angela's window yesterday, it just seems safer. "Haven't seen Ma yet?" his eyebrows furrow some. In a way he's checking if she's around, if he'll have to contend with meddling without having to ask. "I… I'm not gonna be around here much anymore…" His eyes narrow some as he bends down and zips up his bag. There really is nothing to pack, he keeps it all in there. Altogether.

"Anymore?" Claire arches a brow. Because that will be different from the past, how? "No, I haven't seen your mother." Not 'my grandmother' and not 'Angela.' Somedays, she's not sure she wants to be related to this bunch of people, except Peter. Unfortunately, right now, this is the only family she can be with, without putting Sandra and Lyle in danger.

She sits up from her lounging position, feet firmly on the floor, hands moving to her knees. She watches him pack. "Where are you going?"

"Yeah. I've been staying here mostly," other than once in awhile, when he hasn't. Nathan considers what to tell her about where he's going and finally responds with a smirk, "Not here." He shrugs a little as he slings the back over his shoulder. "Honestly, I have a place to go. Another safehouse I've been in contact with," he shrugs, "It's safe. Still crowded, but right now it's better than here for me…"

Something in her face flickers before she sets her jaw and nods. Of course, anywhere is better than here, right? Because here is where she is. Claire stands and shoves her hands in her pockets. No hugs goodbye from her. "I get it. You don't have to explain," she says tersely, chin lifting a touch as if to dare him to try and start shoveling and back pedaling, to reassure her it's not her that's the problem. "I'll tell Angela you were looking for her," she adds, just to fill the space as she begins to head out to the kitchen.

Nathan frowns. "Get what, exactly?" Yup, he's confused. "And for the record, I definitely don't want to see my mother, in fact, that's the real reason I asked if you'd seen her. Or is she not staying here now?" His eyebrows are arched at Claire. His own jaw tightens. His eyes narrow. "Because if she's not…" he places his bag on the floor again and shrugs.

Claire stops midroute to the kitchen, and turns. "Angela's here? She was in that apartment, the one she trapped us into seeing each other at, last I saw her," she says, fierce brows so like his knit together in irritation. "What did you two argue about? I always thought the two of you got along swimmingly."

"They invaded her apartment," Nathan says as he picks up the bag again, assuming that Claire just didn't know. He sling sit over his shoulder and sighs heavily. "I managed to get her out and brought her here late last night." He rolls his eyes, but doesn't regret having rescued her, even if he's angry at her right now.

"We have a difference of opinion when it comes to knowing the future and taking risk." Nathan purses his lips together. "And I don't appreciate being used as some chess piece. In fact, I won't stand for it… not anymore…" he sighs.

Worry overtakes the anger on Claire's face. If they found Angela's safehouse, won't it just be a matter of time they find this one? And there's so many more people here to take. And Angela — Angela seemed untouchable, somehow aloof and above all of the dangers the rest of them face, but apparently no longer. "Damn it."

She sighs and leans against the wall, arms crossing as she regards him, the physical distance of half the room between them, the emotional distance so much wider. She frowns a little, as if trying to think of something more profound to say, but fails. "Peter knows how to reach you?" she finally says.

"Pete will find a way if he needs to," is Nathan's simple response as he issues her a small smile. And then something strange happens. His sense of urgency kicks in, but not in anxiety, not in fear, in something entirely different. "You're a good kid, Claire. Your parents did well. I… I'm convinced you were always better off with them." He swallows and smiles weakly. "They'll be okay. I know they will." Quite the time to have this conversation. "I'm sorry I didn't know about you sooner." His eyebrows furrow. "I'd like to say things would've been different, but I don't think Ma would've let them. I guess I've been living under her thumb too long." He sighs before shuffling towards the door. "I'm proud of you. I have no right to that, but I am just the same."

Her eyes widen with surprise and her mouth parts to speak but she merely shakes her head for a moment. The words are kind and they've been craved for, ever since she found out about Meredith and Nathan, so long ago. But this is not the time. Not when he's walking out the door.

"Why," the word is a husky whisper, "Why does it sound like you're saying goodbye?"

Nathan runs a hand through his hair somewhat uncomfortably before shifting his weight from one foot to the other, eyes fixed on Claire. He opens his mouth to speak, but closes it moments later. "We live in trying times. I don't know what's going to happen or what the future holds, but it's overdue. And for once, I managed to say what I've been thinking…" His answer is diplomatic at best. Polite, but vague.

Claire nods, just once, her eyes dropping to the ground. What if it was the last time she saw him? He could be taken by the Protocol and she might never see him again. He might lose his memory and end up in a foreign country for months on end (again). He could be killed. Without looking up, she moves across the room, the floor blurring through her tears at all the anger and all the lost time between them — at Angela for not allowing him to know her, to acknowledge her. She all but collides into him, arms wrapping around his waist in a surprising and long overdue hug.

Surprised, Nathan says nothing, he just returns the embrace, hugging his daughter — his only daughter — tightly while his own eyes well with tears. He doesn't release the hug, doesn't try to ruin the moment with words, instead he closes his eyes. He's regretful. How did he let this much time pass without this discussion? How did he do this? With a heavy sigh, he tightens his embrace even more.

For once, Claire doesn't ruin the moment with her jaded teenager comments, but instead takes refuge and solace in her father's tight and comforting grip. It doesn't make her feel as safe as Noah's might; instead, quite the opposite — as she presses her face against his chest, her tears damp against his clothes, she's overwhelmed with her own what-could-have-beens and what-might-bes… the former sweet and heartbreaking in that they will never, can never be, and the latter terrifying in the fact they might very well be.

She takes a deep breath, and exhales with a shuddering sigh. "Be careful," she finally whispers. She knows that whatever it is he is going to do cannot be safe — but maybe he can be careful as he tries to save their world.

Nathan just holds his daughter as she cries, feeling altogether helpless to soothe her. He's never done this part. He's never dried his little girl's eyes, never bandaged her knee when she fell off her bicycle, never threatened an ex-boyfriend after breaking her heart, and hasn't been the hero she needed when she needed him. In short, he's no superdad, and has no delusions to the contrary, even if he can fly. Yet in an odd moment of parental instinct, he blinks back his own tears, releases her, and uses a single finger to usher the tears off her face. His own bloodshot eyes stare at hers before he manages another smile — weary, regretful, and sad.

He plants a soft kiss on her forehead. It's gentle, as if assuming she could break at any moment, the polar opposite of how Logan had handled her. "I think that's my line," he says with a very small smile. "Be careful, Claire. I promise I'll make this better for you, somehow. And don't worry about me." His voice is now a husky whisper, "I'll be alright."

When he releases her, Claire glances down, blinking back the rest of the tears before looking up at him. A small half smile curves her lips upward and she gives a slight shake of her head. A silent admonishment for trying to shut her out, even if it's for her own good.

"It's not up to just you to make the world better. It's my fight, too," she says in that fierce whisper. "Remember. I want to help. I need to help. I know you want to protect me, Nathan, but I'm not a little girl anymore, and I'm tougher than I look." Her half smile turns into a smirk, for they both know how true that is. "When you think about a plan, keep me in mind, all right? I want to be a part of this. I can't just hide for the rest of my life. I don't want to live like that."

"I…" Nathan begins "…alright. I'll let you know when things are a little more clear," he says softly. "And I get it. Hiding isn't any way to live. That's why I'm aiming for more for you. All of you." He leans forward and plants another soft kiss on Claire's forehead before disappearing into the kitchen for a few moments. He comes back with a piece of paper and a phone number scrawled over it. "Please don't share this number — it's a disposable mobile phone I picked up at a grocery store. Get in touch if you need to. And don't hesitate to call." He issues her a last small smile as he pads towards the door again.

Claire nods, taking the number and glancing at it, before her fist curls around it. Teary green eyes watch him move toward the door, before she follows to see him out. She smiles wryly. "I might take after you more than we thought, huh?" It seems they share the same philosophy in this, at least. "Thanks," she adds — whether for the phone number or the conversation or the hug, or maybe all three, it's unclear.

Claire is issued one last smile. For now, anyways. With a deep breath, Nathan leaves the house, disappearing down the back alley before pulling on his helmet. With a deep breath, he soars into the sky at a fast rate. He might not be superdad, but he's certainly trying, even if, as in all things, it may be a little too little too late.

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