2010-03-24: The Cake Is A Lie



Date: March 24, 2010


Claire moves into the Petrelli safehouse! Huzzah!

"The Cake is a Lie"

Petrelli Safehouse

Would she like to come stay at his place?

That was the question Peter asked, when he stopped by to bring Claire a change of clothes at his mother's request — the girl having nothing but a pair of ripped and bloody pajamas on her when she arrived at Angela's secret apartment on the Upper East Side. Claire's response had been something along the lines of, "Is the Pope Catholic?"

It isn't that she doesn't appreciate Angela's generosity, but the two have a tense relationship on a good day, and the days following her escape from the ominous sounding Protocol were anything but good for Claire. She's worried about two families and yet again, her chance at some semblance of a normal life was stolen away — this time by the government. She's not in a good mood, and if she had to drink another cup of tea…

A duffel bag with a few changes of clothes on one shoulder, Claire emerges with Peter, looking around as soon as they "land" from the jaunt through space and time to the safehouse. "… many people are here?" she asks, the beginning of her question having been interrupted from Peter's teleportation.

"There's a lot now— but not as many as some of Kitty's safehouses," Peter says with a motion around the spacious living room. Or, it could be spacious. There's two couches that take up a lot of space, and a good sized television. They have cable and a DVR even, and on demand! But both those couches are set up as makeshift beds, with sheets and pillows and other such things.

"There's four bedrooms, though, so you'll have to share a room with someone. Probably Lena. I'd put you with Isabelle, but— she's a little odd— she usually sticks to her own room." He glances around toward the stairs, to check and see if anyone happens to be up and about. The hours of activity in the big house have been odd, lately.

"Someone usually cooks, I do if no one else does, or you can see if Daphne will run and get take out." She's good at doing that. She could get them take out from California, if they wanted.

"I can cook sometimes. I'm not great or anything, but I can make tacos and spaghetti and pancakes," Claire says brightly enough, happy to be out of Angela's apartment for the first time in days. "I'll just be good to have someone to talk to that's not… you know. Angela." She grins a little wryly, and shrugs one shoulder. "No offense."

She moves to the sofa and sets her duffle bag beside it. "So … house rules? I'd guess we're not supposed to come and go in ways that people can see us — easier for you, not so easy for me," she says, sitting on the arm of the sofa, looking up at her uncle.
From afar, Claire nods. :)

There's actually a laugh, despite the no offense talk. "I don't think I could handle talking to mom all the time, either," Peter says, understanding the uncomfortable faction that Angela can inspire at times. "You don't have to sneak, exactly, but you should be careful. There's a back alley you can go down and come out at the street if you have to go somewhere. It's mostly covered from easy viewing, except by the other houses. So you can come and go if you want."

There's no move to make them stay where they are— that's what freedom is supposed to be, right? Freedom.

"I'm trying to make them think I'm in the Bronx right now. I try to make sure they spot me up there. If you do go out, just be extra careful and make sure you know somewhere to bolt to so you can call me. Have me on speed dial." Before, he'd warn he won't answer, but now— now he won't not answer. Any call could be someone in danger.

The noise of the black motorcycle in the back alley beside the house may get the attention of neighbours, but the helmeted figure dressed entirely in black, doesn't remove said helmet as he walks up the sidewalk to the front door, but when he reaches the front door, he randomly forgets where he put his key, or… with a muffled scoff he plucks the leather gloves from his hands — one finger at a time — before searching each of his pockets in turn, stirring a moment of panic from the man underneath it. Did he leave the key behind?

And then — uh-huh! It's in his jacket pocket, sure enough. With a click, the door unbolts before helmeted Nathan enters the safehouse. His helmet is removed once the door is closed, and the door is bolted shut once again. Before removing the helmet he hadn't really taken the time to look in the room, in fact, he'd just assumed no one else was there, so he's somewhat startled when he turns from the door and spots Peter and Claire, although startle doesn't exactly register on his face. There's something else there. Weariness, perhaps. Fatigue, most definitely. And something else: an odd-yet-knowing twinkle in his eye.

"Claire?" he glances from Peter back to Claire. "What are you doing here?" Last they'd talked, Noah was still managing to keep her safe.

"That's good. Though the only place I'd want — I don't want to go to my mom's… I don't want them to see me near there, better they think I'm long gone. If you could check on them… on my mom and Lyle?" Claire asks, her eyebrows furrowing with frustration at not being able to do so herself. She sighs slightly, then looks up at the sound of the motorcycle.

When Nathan enters, she looks equally surprised to see him as well. The question gets a scowl — not because he doesn't know, as it's only been a few days since she's been in hiding. "Guess," Claire says a little gruffly, arms crossing her chest as she looks to her father. "They came for me," she adds.

"I can do that, sure," Peter says with an understanding nod of his head, before focusing his eyes on the sound of the motorcycle. It's a surprise, and he moves a bit to get in front of Claire— until the door opens and it's just Nathan pulling off his helmet. "I wish you would have left a note if you were going to be out all night," he says, giving his brother a stern look for a whole instant— before he's smiling a little. At least his brother came back.

"She's not safe at home anymore. So she's going to be joining us here for a while. I know— I need a bigger house. I set up a couch for you, though." Cause his brother is not allowed to sleep with any of the girls. Especially since the whole house is pretty much… girls. And them.

"Yes… dad… " Nathan manages with a dimpled smirk and then a shake of his head, "I didn't expect to be gone otherwise I might've." Maybe. Possibly. Probably not. Tucking the helmet under his arm, the elder Petrelli frowns at the notion of Claire's predicament. This can't mean good things for Noah. Jaw tightening, he manages a diplomatic smile — the one featured on virtually all of his campaign posters. "Well the more the merrier."

"And yes, I know. The couch." He shakes his head a little. This is precisely why he nearly panicked earlier this morning with Building 27 flashbacks. "I'm sorry, Claire. I hope it's temporary." His smile turns weary despite his best efforts, "A lot of people are doing what they can to fix things…"

"Don't give me that fake smile," Claire says irritably. "And you don't have to pretend to be happy to see me. It's not good that I'm here, and I know it as well as you do." So much for diplomacy. Now that she and her father have sort of made up, she can be a brat without it having to mean she hates him, right?

"So who's in charge of this Protocol thing and how do we dismantle it? I don't want to just hide. I want to help." Which reminds her of something. She turns her green gaze on Peter. "Next time you pop over to my mom's house, can you grab me the knife that's on my dresser? It's in one of those little holster things," she asks. Too bad she didn't think to have it strapped on over her pajamas, but the neighbors might have thought that was strange when she was out taking out the trash.

"One of us has to be," Peter says with a hint of Claire's own snarky attitude. Cause Nathan sometimes fails at being dad? Well, not really. That would be why it comes off as more of a joke. His brother had long replaced the father-relationship that he'd should have had with the man who… well… let's not go there.

"Did you run into any trouble?" Why else would his brother be out all night? There's that sparkle in his eyes, but perhaps he's just not wanting to see that… The concern is there. They are in a lot of trouble. All of them are.

"Taking out the leadership won't stop them, unfortunately." He knows, he tried. "Another one will just step up to take their place. But— what we need to do is find out where they were taken, and get them out. We'll need a way to deactivate the collars. And we'll need to stop the money." A knife probably won't help but…

"There's going to be something in April. The 15th. I— I found out that already caused an accident with abilities before, a weapons testing, I guess you could say, and it sounds like they might be doing it again on the 15th. If we can stop that and get the people free— we might be able to stop them. It would also help if someone could talk to the President. Half the operation is funded on US tax dollars and I don't think that's what he agreed to." Or he really hopes it's not.

Nathan manages to hmmm, but holds his tongue at Claire's comments, even though there's a very reckless side of him wanting to compare her to her biological mother. Instead he manages so keep his comments to himself. "Look Claire, the smile is for me as much as it is you. Believe me." It helped him endure weeks in the barracks. "And no, it's not good that you're here, but that doesn't mean I'm not glad to see you in general."

He turns back to Peter and shakes his head with a weary smile, "No trouble. Not this time. But I did learn a lot about what's going on. And yes — the President needs to know." Nathan's eyebrows knit together tightly. "And I think… I'm going to speak to a contact and get them to feed it to the press. The White House watches the news."

Claire closes her mouth and slips from arm of sofa onto sofa proper, looking a little contrite for being snarky at the man who was held captive by the same people who came after her. He understands — more than most. "Sorry," she says, more to her lap than to him, her cheeks flushing a little. She tucks her fingers into the cuffs of her sweatshirt, fingertips toying with the edges as she listens to the rest of his words.

At the word press, she looks up, looking confused. "What are you going to tell them that will make sense to the general public? I mean — I've been gone a while, but they don't know about people like us, right? Isn't that —" She turns to Peter, alarm in her eyes and tone. "Your dream — if everyone finds out about us, won't that make your dream more likely to come true? Not that it's not already…"

"Telling the press is probably not the best idea," Peter says, frowning a bit as he tries to think what exactly the press could even be told about this whole situation. That wouldn't end up making it worse. "Alpha Protocol, as far as the populace is concerned, is an anti-terrorist organization— perhaps if we explain that they're— I can't think of any way to do it through the media without risking…" Everything he's fought so hard to stop from happening?

There's so many futures that he's seen, and all of them horrble in their own right. Will he ever see a future that isn't horrible?
"No, I think we should go to the President directly with this, not through the press. The press is too big a risk."

"With the right amount of tact, the general public won't know," Nathan explains with a sigh. "It'd be a colleague with something invested in all of this. I have one in mind…" And Tracy proves correctly based on the general feel in the room. "I don't think anyone can easily reach the President or get him to listen." He places the helmet down on a nearby coffee table.

"Or… would you both rather be weaponized and go public that way…" Nathan shakes his head just a little. "The President knows what's going on with people like us as far as the gathering is concerned, it wouldn't need much explanation."

"If the press knows, the public will know. That's the whole point of the press, right? Unless they put a gag order on it, but there will still be leaks. And I hate to say that I think they will forget all the things they say they won't ever let happen, when we talk about them in history. Movies like X-Men might be fiction but I think they're pretty right on when it comes to what people would treat us like. It'd be pitchforks and burning crosses, not acceptance and peace signs," Claire muses darkly.

"But if you can get someone to get him to listen…" She looks over to Peter. "Are the collars on radio signal or something? Is there someone who can disable them all?" She doesn't know how that would work, but surely someone would be able to — but who is that someone, and are they on their side? "Never mind. I don't know anything, just thinking aloud," she mutters, annoyed at her own ignorance.

"Hiro could get to him— or I could," Peter says, though honestly, that's an idea straight out of the X-Men movie and he knows it. With time stop, instead of telepathy. But— he shakes his head. "I don't want anyone to be used as a weapon again— The first test already killed… people. Nathan, that's how Niki died." Perhaps the first victim of the Protocols. Her, her husband, and anyone else in the museum that collapsed. "It was explained away as an earthquake, and I'm sure they'll be explaining away all the attacks that happen… How better to keep your secret weapon secret than to not let people know it's people."

They'd known in his dream. How? He really wishes his dreams were more detailed. He keeps seeing outcomes, but not the events that led to the outcome?

As if the stress is getting to him, he starts to pace again. "I don't want this to turn into a war anymore than it has already. We have to stop the demonstrations— set anyone they still have free— There has to be a way to deactivate the collars. They probably don't transmit wirelessly, but maybe they receive. The one that they made for me is supposed— do something on command," it's supposed to kill him but he doesn't want to say that to his family. "So there has to be a way to receive the command. If we can find that— it's a good thought Claire. We can get people free that way. And I still think we need to talk to the President directly. Get him to realize what he's actually funding."

Niki. Involuntarily Nathan's cheeks flush. He can feel his face warm at the mention on the name and his thoughts turn to her sister which only makes his cheeks flush a brighter red. He turns, the news about Niki is a lot to process considering he's still processing everything from his conversation with Tracy last night. He raises his hand to his forehead and shakes it. "I'm not sure the President would listen to just anyone. I'm not sure he didn't trap me, but I am sure he has no idea the program is selling people to our nation's enemies."

"No President would tolerate that. No matter how misguided or corrupt. They're patriots. That's how they get the job." His cheeks remain that deep rouge.

"They're… selling people to our enemies?" Claire repeats, her voice low but dangerous in its anger. She doesn't miss the strange red flush that has come over Nathan, but that just gets a wrinkle of her brow and a shake of her head. She doesn't know him well enough to know, really, if that's normal or not, and he's been a stammering mess in front of her when he hasn't been evil, so she really doesn't have much of a frame of reference. Awkward or evil — that is Nathan's spectrum in her experience.

"He has to listen… I mean, you've been missing and all, shouldn't you of all people be worthy of an audience with him? I'd think that's pretty noteworthy. And whoever your super secret press person is, if they're someone that has any clout. I'd be willing to go in there with you and stab myself to get him to listen, if you think it'd get his attention." She smirks a little, only half kidding. "You know. In English class, they always tell us to have a hook to get the reader's attention."

What's the b— oh right. Nathan cheated on his wife with Niki— but that's not something he'd blushed about before… Maybe before she wasn't mentioned in front of the fruit of his loins. That could be it. Keeping his pacing up, he nods. "I doubt he knew. The brief time I was with Alpha Protocol— I don't think even Ivory knew about what they had planned. I think he genuinely thought they were helping people. But they're not." As is abundently clear now. How many people knew?

"It could have been deSouza. Maybe she wiped the President's memory. Maybe I'll have to get close enough to heal him and make him remember." Like he'd done with Tracy, and Nathan both. Fix what's broken inside them.

"I think the President already knows, so you shouldn't have to stab yourself…" he adds, a tension on his face for the moment. Stab herself. Shoot herself. Claire certainly knows how to get attention in ways her uncle doesn't like…

"But yeah, they're selling people to our enemies. Apparently a terrorist paid ten billion for me."

"No. Not missing. Sick," Nathan corrects with an arch of his eyebrows. "Everyone thinks I'm on my deathbed. They think I'm some frail Senator who has essentially stepped out of the picture again, just like last time. Just like Wynn." He shakes his head, there's some resolve in the attitude already. "No, I need to step up to the plate and do my job. Someone smarter than me reminded me of that yesterday. And while we've been looking for heads to smash, there's no way we'd even get access to them. We need to convince a lot of people at once that something is amiss."

"And Pete's right. The President knows about us. He knew about me. We talked about it. Or…" Logan did. "Well. Yes. We talked about it. He definitely knows. And he expected me to die. After Wynn and deSouza, he didn't think anyone heading the project would live through it."

"Oy. Human trafficking. Weapons trades. Honestly, to get the President involved, all a person would have to talk about is illegal weapons trades out of the country. He'd know what it meant. He thinks of us as weapons." He smirks. "I'm pretty sure I was more deadly flying an F-5. Or… maybe that was to one of the agents?" His eyes narrow a little as he tries to remember.

Claire watches the two men talk, quiet for a moment. Her face is grim, her eyes narrowed as they flicker from her uncle to Nathan and back. Those eyes widen a touch at the mention of how much they were willing to pay for Peter, and narrow again when Nathan clearly grapples with that first-person-plural pronoun. She can figure out just who 'we' was from the awkwardness he handles the word. She sighs, clearly frustrated with talk and not being able to do anything.

The frustrated sigh does not go unnoticed. Peter's pacing around the living room finally stops, and he looks over at his niece for a moment. Oh, he realized what Nathan meant too, but… "If worst comes to worst, I can get close enough to him to pull him aside and make him listen. To us." This us, seems to include Claire, because he's looking at her. "I could even replace him temporarily so no one notices he's missing at all." It's not something he wants to do, but…

He moves away from the living room, toward the kitchen, where he opens the fridge. Who the hell keeps buying cake?

Oh well, he's not going to ask on it, because he pulls it out and holds it up. "Cake?"

The cake is a lie.

Or at least a distraction.

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