2010-03-20: Through a War



Date: March 20th, 2010


Claire shows up at the door of her grandmother.

"Through a War"

Upper East Side

It's sometime past 11 o'clock when Claire finally makes it to the current home of the Petrellis. Barefoot and without any money, grimy with dirt and a little dried blood, the regenerator didn't take the most direct route from Queens to the Upper East Side apartment — given that the agents were likely looking for her in the streets and she wasn't about to lead them to the hiding spot of her other family. The route was a zig-zagging one through parks and schoolyards, doubling back a couple of times to make sure she wasn't being followed. In the more populated areas, as it's a Saturday night, the girl got a few odd looks but New Yorkers are almost apathetic to the sight of strange dirty people wandering the streets in inappropriate attire — no one pulled out a cell phone to call the police at any rate. They just edged away and looked in the other direction.

No money, no cell phone means she couldn't call in advance — and she doesn't know the phone number to call collect, even if she could find a pay phone. They simply don't put them everywhere like they did in the days prior to cell phones. So it's no doubt a surprise to whomever is awake and at home when there is a knock on the door, and a glance through the peephole will reveal a very dirty Claire standing and shivering just a touch in a pink tank top and a pair of PJ bottoms adorned with hearts and a certain yellow and square cartoon character.

It's one Petrelli, singular, who is awake. It's one Petrelli who lives here at all at the moment, hiding in the Upper East Side — an unfamiliar building with familiar luxury. Claire's grandmother looks through the peephole and wastes no time in opening the door, eyes wide. It's hard to surprise the prophetic matriarch, but every now and then she's capable of a scare. She too is dressed in sleepwear, though hers couldn't be more opposite than the nineteen year old's — navy blue satin pants and a robe of the same fabric.

"Claire!" Claire is undoubtedly more out of place in this neighbourhood than any other and Angela hurriedly takes the girl's shoulder to usher her inside and shut the door. Behind them is a set of elegant stairs that leads to the apartment proper. "Get inside, hurry up!" Perhaps she's not so surprised after all, given the lack of questions. "You look like you've been through a war." Overstatement. There would be more blood otherwise.

Claire hurries in, hobbled a little which might seem strange until she flops down on the floor of all places to pull one foot over the opposite leg, glancing down and pulling out a chunk of glass — somewhere along the way she stepped on the bottom of a beer bottle that got wedged in her heel — she didn't stop or slow down to get it out until she was safe. There are now a couple of bloody foot prints on the clean tile.

Claire looks up, her brows knit together with worry and also apology. "I'm sorry, I didn't know where else to go. They came… Company or someone else, I'm not sure. Can I … I need to let my mom and Lyle know I'm okay… I can text them, I'm pretty sure Dad got us secure cell phones, but I don't have mine with me." She stands, moving deeper into the house to find a trash can for the bloody bottom of the beer bottle. "I … can I stay here? At least just tonight. I don't know what else to do."

Angela shows little alarm or revulsion at the rather gruesome act of Claire pulling the glass out of her foot; she only frowns mildly, as if to say: well, that's unfortunate. Granted, the bloody footprints earn the same gaze. She makes a point to make sure the door is locked before she follows up the stairs, into the living area. "It wasn't the Company," she gets that out of the way first of all, absolutely sure and a touch defensive on the point. "It was the Protocol. There barely is a Company anymore and if there were, we'd have more productive things to do than chasing after you. I guess your father's promise wasn't so solid after all." Angela does not sound surprised by this fact in the least. If anything, the matriarch sounds faintly smug, though her voice is anything but light. "Of course you can stay here, Claire. I'm afraid I don't have clothes that'll suit you… you can call Peter in the morning."

The little blond heads to a chair, obviously not concerned about getting the furniture dirty — it's not like it's really Angela's taste anyway. Her grandmother gets a skeptical look about what the Company would or would not do in regards to her. "Right. Productive things. Like bagging and tagging innocent people," she mutters. "The Protocol? Is that what we're calling this governmental thing that's kidnapping people with powers? Why are these weird agencies always named vague abstract nouns that don't mean anything? Like… like the Initiative on Buffy." The allusion will no doubt be lost on her grandmother. "Are the phone lines okay to use? I really need to tell them I'm okay."

As she whisks through the room past Claire with a rustle of satin, Angela shoots the young woman a dark look for her comments re: The Company. She disappears, briefly, into another room. When she emerges she has a black cell phone, a pay-as-you-go phone so many fugitives have resorted to in this day and age. Every other phone line in the place is unhooked. She hands it to Claire. "Yes. I knew it was just a matter of time before Noah's precautions fell apart and they came after you. Make no mistake, Claire, these people aren't like the Company."

"Sorry if my view of the Company isn't as rosy as yours, Angela," Claire says, reminding her grandmother that a lot of things are different in their respective perspectives. "Thanks," she adds for the phone, punching in a number and bringing it to her ear. Lyle will be less likely to ask a hundred questions and make it harder than it already is.

"Lyle," she says breathlessly when he answers the phone. "I'm okay. I'm safe. That's all you need to know. Tell Mom." There's a pause. "I love you. Tell Mom I love her, too." She hangs up, and hands the phone back to Angela.

"So they're different, but they're still rounding up people like me. There's not a lot of difference in my eyes, except I guess that the Company lets the less dangerous ones out and this new 'Protocol' doesn't. They're legit? An actual … governmental thing, not private?"

Angela sits down on an armchair to Claire's right and takes the phone only to set it on a nearby end table. "They have the approval of the government," she answers. "Homeland Security. The President. If they continue to succeed they're going to change the world and life will never be as we knew it. The Company existed to stop that from happening."

The teenager looks properly chastised for a moment. Her arms wrap around herself, dirty fingers curling around the opposite upper arm as if she's cold. "So what do we do? Hole up like this for the rest of our lives? I mean… you have money but what about the people who don't? Not everyone has that luxury. What's the plan to stop them? How long have they been in existence? We can't just let them win." Now that she's safe in the house, Claire is growing angry. They took away her right to a normal life — as normal as it could possibly be when one's almost immortal, anyway.

"Luxury is sometimes an illusion." An illusion that hides the truth. Angela casts a quick glance around the living space. Nicer than some hole in the wall, but it's temporary. Even the Petrelli matriarch isn't as better off as she may seem. "No, we can't let them win," she says in vehement agreement, matching the anger of her granddaughter. "For now we do what we can to set things in motion. But you go and join a rebellion, you should have a shower."

Claire knows a dismissal when she hears one. "That's me. A rebel without any clothes…" she says wryly, glancing down at her escape apparel. Dammit, there's a whole in one knee. These were here favorite PJ bottoms! She stands.

"Thanks for letting me crash here. I'll try to figure out something more permanent so I'm not in your hair." The implication is there that her grandmother won't want to actually live with Claire for any length of time. "Once I talk to Peter or … you know. Whatever you decide is best." Somehow she knows that what she wants to do and what is deemed best for the safety of all might not be the same thing.

"Peter has a place in Staten Island these days," Angela readily answers, getting to her feet again as well, so soon after sitting down. "He has a full house, but I'm sure you're welcome." Moving to face Claire, she places both hands on the grimy young woman's shoulders, one finger reaching lightly tapping her cheek. "You're welcome to stay here as long as you like, of course. Everyone at your uncle's is a fugitive of some kind or another though, you'd be in like company. I know it's hard Claire, everything you want being taken from you." After a glance to her right, Angela smiles, a warmer expression, though pulled tight. For a moment, she at least acts like a run of the mill grandmother. "Well," she fusses, "The ladies room is that way, I'll lay out something for you to wear."

Another contrite expression colors Claire's face. One day she'll learn to not show every emotion as it passes through. "Thanks," she says quietly, though sincerely, eyes dropping from her grandmother's gaze. "I just hate to be in anyone's way." She heads toward the bathroom, finding the idea of a long hot shower very inviting. After that, a long sleep, if the visions of black-clad army men invading her house doesn't keep her up all night.

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