2007-05-20: Who Really Is The Freak Show?

Starring:

Claire_icon.gif Heidi_icon.gif MrMuggles_icon.gif

Summary: Heidi has a chance encounter with Claire in the park. Claire and Mister Muggles. They talk about Harry Potter… And Nathan.

Date It Happened: 20 MAY 2007

Who Really is the Freakshow?


Small Park, New York

The last time George came by, he had a message from Nathan. Heidi had a feeling he would eventually, but she hasn't given a reply just yet, because she's not sure she wants to meet with him. Eventually, she'll have to get back to Real Life instead of spending her nights with the kids in a hotel, it's just that she has no idea for once just how to adjust and fit back in. What's she going to go back to?

With George spending an hour with Simon and Monty so their mother could clear her head and do some thinking, Heidi's in a small park near the hotel. There are a couple swingsets - the ones with the heavy chains and the black plastic seats - and Heidi's sitting in one of them, watching a couple squirrels playing across the park. There are a few other people here, but not many. It's quiet, the sun's still high enough in the sky for it to be warm, and she's almost half-asleep just sitting there. She could use a good rest, honestly.

—-

Claire, on the other hand, has escaped no such responsibility today, with the care of her youngest sibling having been handed off to her. This is not as easy as babysitting, however, as this 'sibling' is neither a child nor human. No, Claire is walking a dog. A stupid ball of fluff named Mr. Muggles, forced to wear little socks on his feet and a vest to protect his coat from the big, bad city. There might as well be a raincloud over her head, because the blonde teenager looks about as pleased to be suffering this humiliating chore as she would had she been relegated to cleaning the washroom. It isn't so much the actual task of walking the dog; with her earphones in, Claire is content to walk through the city listening to music, lost in her thoughts. But the looks the dog's ridiculous attire garner from the people she passes? Those are bad.

—-

Heidi didn't expect to see anyone out here that she knows, because she specifically picked a hotel where Nathan isn't as likely to look for her. Doesn't mean she's not close by /other/ people she may or may not know. When she sees Claire…

Well, it's a reminder that Nathan—

She shakes her head. No, it's not Claire's fault. It's pretty hard for Heidi to be angry with anyone, let alone someone who has no fault at all in this current situation. Besides, the dog she's walking actually causes Heidi to smile as she puts her feet on the ground, stepping off the swing. Her path forward will take her toward Mister Muggles and the young blonde teenager. "Claire?" she says when she's close enough.

—-

Heidi speaks at an opportune moment when there is a quiet moment in a song, and Claire turns her head when her name is called, surprise registering on her face at the sight of her biological father's wife. …why does her family have to be so complicated? Pulling the earphones from her ears, Claire smiles warmly, raising a hand in a wave. "Hey," she says, though it's awkward, as the greeting sounds as if she meant to add a name at the end but never quite got there. Almost like someone interrupted her. In reality, she's not certain what she ought to be calling this woman: Heidi? Mrs. Petrelli? When the dog yanks at the leash, Claire rolls her eyes and scolds him quickly. "Mister Muggles, knock it off."

—-

As she gets closer, it might become slightly apparent that Heidi hasn't been taking care of herself as good as she usually does. No make up for one, which means there are dark circles under her eyes. Her hair's back in a pony tail and seems to still be damp from a shower. Despite this, she smiles as Muggles tries to get to her, and crouches down so she can give the dog the attention it's asking for. "Heidi," she says to Claire as the 'hey' trails off. Yeah, definitely Heidi at the moment, since she's not quite entirely sure if 'Petrelli' is accurate anymore. She's still thinking about it.

Her hand is still bandaged, though that doesn't stop her from using both hands to scratch behind the pomeranian's ears. "He's adorable," is offered, despite the fact that he's wearing silly dog-socks. "Mister Muggles? Like from Harry Potter?" —Yeah, quiet. Her kids love it.

—-

To Claire's relief, the pomeranian takes a liking to Heidi and doesn't go on one of his inexplicable growling and oh-so-fierce biting fits of canine rage. Easing up on the leash some, she still keeps a careful eye on the dog, but she's more relaxed about the interaction. "Heidi," Claire finishes with a fleeting smile, ducking her head slightly. "Yeah, 'muggles' is from Harry Potter. My mom is kind of obsessed with those books." Pause. …flashbacks of being forced to endure release parties and her mother dressing up in costume for Halloween elicit a wince from Claire, and she adds: "It's embarrassing."

—-

Blue eyes turn upward toward Claire. She's smiling, then suddenly, she isn't. Hit with that wave of 'oh my god, my husband cheats on me' again, Heidi has to turn her attention away, back to the dog. Claire looks nothing like Nathan, really, but still… It's enough that she knows. It's not fair to the girl for her to practically represent what could be the end of a marriage… so she's not going to burden her with it. At sixteen, Claire's just too young. Besides, she wouldn't want to diminish Nathan's image in his daughter's eyes— anymore than it is, that is. "You're adorable, aren't you?" she says to Muggles, before she laughs, forcing herself to look back up again. "I've been taking my boys since Order of the Phoenix." Or, Simon anyway. Monty was too young at the time, and Si was bearly old enough to understand it himself. "We're going again in July. Last one, so you won't have to suffer anymore." There's a brief lapse in conversation, then she changes the subject. "I wanted to tell you something last time, but I couldn't, because of the kids."

—-

"God, I hope not. I like the books, just not that much." It's a strange reversal for Claire to have to look down at someone while speaking to them, at least when it's an adult she's speaking with. The corner of her mouth twitches in a smirk. Entirely oblivious to the turmoil in Heidi's mind, unaware that she represents anything nearly so grave as the end of a marriage, Claire looks to Heidi expectantly at the latter remark. There's a twinge of concern on her face, both because of the woman's tone and her current state. "What is it?"

—-

Heidi has to chuckle. She likes the books herself - they're cute. A little dark, though she's never had any reason to censor things from her kids. They can't wait for Deathly Hallows, and neither can Heidi!

Getting tired of crouching, Heidi drops to her knees, allowing Muggles to climb all over her if he wants to. She likes dogs enough. Besides, the fluffy pup gives her time to think about if she should actually say what she was going to when they met at the zoo. At the time, she was very much still in love with her husband, but now… She sighs. "Thank you, for what you did for Nathan." She takes a quick glance around to make sure there's no one, say, in the trees spying on their conversation. "I think what you can do is amazing." —Take the concentration away from him and put in on Claire. Wise move, Adelheid.

—-

"I" Well, that takes Claire by surprise. While the dog is climbing all over Heidi, sniffing after the scent of the kitten and generally begging for attention, the blonde teenager can't help but stare. She is taken aback. "you know?" Astute observation, right? Canting her head to one side, Claire finds herself gripping the leash perhaps tighter than is necessary for a dog the size of Muggles. She shakes her head, holding her eyes closed for a few seconds as she collects her thoughts before looking back to Heidi. "You're welcome. I… had to do something."

—-

Maybe she should have gotten a dog instead of a cat. Hopefully Nathan's taking care of Spike at the moment… She should have taken the kitten along, but the hotel said no. She'd never give Spike up now, though, because she's adorable, and sounds like a little motor almost all the time. "I didn't find out too long ago," Heidi says. "…Accidentally." —Is putting it lightly, but the explanation behind how she found out is so long and full of twists and turns that she's not sure if she could really explain it in enough detail to do it justice. "I don't think Nathan thought I could take it. Simon and Monty don't know yet. It's why I didn't say anything before." Giving Muggles another scratch behind the ears, she stands again, brushing grass off her knees.

—-

Claire isn't quite sure what to say to that, and she finds herself turning her attention to the passersby rather than staring blankly, helplessly, at Heidi. "Accidentally?" The idea is mildly amusing, and though she desperately wants to ask after the circumstances, she restrains herself. She considers what the woman says for a few minutes, strangely comforted by the fact that Heidi would even approach her after finding out when she so easily could have looked the other way. "Are you going to tell them?" Again, flashbacks: this time, the memory of her brother finding out about her ability, and the possibility that these boys might do the same. She looks back to Heidi, both curious and apprehensive.

—-

"Accidentally," Heidi repeats, and she can at least say a little without giving the whole thing away. Oddly, this conversation is making her miss Nathan, which is kind of making her feel like crying, which she can't do right now. "I saw him flying." Her voice lowers when she says it, just a little. "There was a situation. He didn't intend for me to see. It explained a lot, though." —Heidi's pretty sure that if Nathan knows Claire can heal, Claire knows Nathan can fly. It's only fair, after all.

Heidi'll have to remember to tell Nathan that—

Right, not going home.

"Eventually. Once we're sure they'll be able to keep it a secret. It's not just Nathan they'd put in danger," she explains. "They deserve to know, though, since I've been told it's possible that they'll end up with — abilities one day."

—-

It's also reassuring to Claire to hear that Heidi knows about Nathan's ability, as well, and the girl lets out a breath in a sigh of relief. "He told you about me after that?" There's nothing accusatory about her tone, nothing annoyed or upset in any way; it's simple curiosity, really. And a strange flicker of surprise and amusement that Nathan would speak about her at all. "They might be scared," she says, returning to the subject of the boys. "Some people freak out when they find out about this… stuff. I mean, you don't want them running away because they're scared to be in the same house." Some bitterness, there. Lingering guilt, maybe.

—-

Heidi nods. "I asked him how he healed," she says. There's a frown again, her attention focusing on the dog before she suddenly seems very uncomfortable, one hand raising to run through her hair. Fidgity, that's what it is, like she isn't comfortable just standing there. It doesn't pass, even as she considers what Claire says about the boys being frightened. "I did a little," Heidi admits with an embarrassed smile, finally dropping her hand back to her side. "I wasn't sure what to think, honestly. And the boys, they'll probably take it better than I did." Because Monty already runs around with a towel around his shoulder, pretending to be superman or something. Which is so coincidental and hilarious and only she and Nathan know why.

The last thing Claire says, though, is what grabs most of Heidi's interest. "Scared to be in the same house?" she echoes, sensing something in the girl's voice that might be resentment.

—-

"So did I," Claire admits in turn, her tone meant to be reassuring - because if the girl who can heal herself freaked out when she discovered it, then it isn't so bad for other people to panic, either, right? "I still do, sometimes. I don't think I'll ever get used to it." It, in this case, being an unnatural ability to wake up under circumstances that would otherwise mean she'd be dead. Reluctance washes over her as Heidi questions her remark, and she rubs one arm with the opposite hand, frowning. "My brother didn't take it very well when he found out. He… locked himself in a car to get away from me."

—-

Unfortunately, given that she has nothing supernatural herself, she really doesn't have the right to call it /weird,/ even if it is, so a slight uncomfortable silence follows as Heidi tries to figure out what to say. "I suppose it would take some acclimating," is what she finally decides on. And Heidi herself is still kind of like a kid in a candy store now that she's gotten over the 'oh god, you people are FREAKS' part of her acceptance of this - which wasn't a very long phase, thankfully. She even asked Nathan to show off. Cue the fresh stab of loneliness here as she recalls the flight, which was just too cool.

The fact that Claire has a brother makes her blink. It's completely inappropriate to ask— No, she can't. Not that it'd matter if Nathan had another child, anyway, since Heidi's nerves are about as raw as they can get at the moment. Temporarily, the walls she's put between herself and her husband come back up, but she finds herself wanting to comfort Claire despite that. "Oh, no," she mutters under her breath, frowning. "Is everything all right now?" Differences resolved? Brother back at home? "I'm sure he still cares for you."

—-

Heidi still feels the need to be protective of Claire, and she's almost angry at this brother of hers. Granted, she can understand, being someone who's sort of looking in on this herself… It's not easy to comprehend something that goes against everything that's supposed to be real. Something kind of clicks, though— Maybe Heidi's just looking for a parallel, but she sees it, so she takes it. "Talk to him. Schedule a time if you have to. Let him ask questions." She doesn't know if they've already had a chat, but it's the best thing Heidi can think of. It's what she did with Nathan… Just talked to him, and he let her, until she understood. Maybe if he gets used to the idea that it's cool instead of frightening, he won't be scared anymore. "I know you don't know me that well, but… trust me on this one. You'll thank yourself."

—-

"I'll try." Hugging herself again, still keeping a tight grip on the dog leash lest her charge decide to try and make a break for it, Claire offers an appreciative smile to Heidi. "We were okay, until things got… confusing. Then we had to move here, and it's my fault that he had to leave all his friends and move across the country. I think he's mad about that. A year and a half ago, we were normal. Our lives were normal. Then his freakshow adopted sister had to go screw everything up, you know?" After a brief pause, she shakes her head again, flashing the woman an apologetic smile. "Sorry. I didn't mean to go on like that. Thanks, though. I'll try it."

—-

No one should thing of themselves like this, and Heidi's frown clearly shows that sentiment. It's like she's looking in a mirror, though… Claire feels inadequate for having an ability, Heidi feels inadequate because she doesn't. "Don't apologize. And don't sell yourself short, either." Heidi leans down to give Muggles another couple quick pats, though her focus remains on the teen. "And don't think of yourself that way. Who's to say you're not normal, and everyone else is the freak show?" Not— a word Heidi's used to using, and she hopes she hasn't offended Claire by repeating it. Glancing over her shoulder, back to the hotel, she realizes that she's been gone longer than she said she was going to. "I know it's not the best way to put it, but we are who we are." Turning, she starts to walk away, but offers one last smile over her shoulder. "Take care, Claire. Good seeing you again."

—-

Claire never once appears offended by anything that Heidi says, particularly if she was the first to say it. "Maybe everyone's a little bit of a freak show," she suggests, partly in jest, an attempt to lighten the mood. Her own, that is. It occurs to her afterward just how accurate that statement could prove to be, as even the most 'normal' people she knows, those without any abilities at all, are just as deeply caught up in this as she is. "Thanks, Heidi." Her smile now is warmer, more sincere. "Say hi to the boys for me, okay? Maybe I'll come by to see them soon." Cue potentially awkward moment wherein she shows up at Nathan's looking for Heidi and the boys and finds them gone. There's some part of her begging to ask the woman what's wrong, why she looks so down and tired, but Claire lets the woman go. It isn't her place to meddle. Tugging gently on the dog's leash, she turns Mr. Muggles around and begins to lead him down the street.

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