Word Count: 3,078
I've strayed away from the heroes50 prompt table from this point forward, so no more prompts.
He stared at her - and at nothing - for a while. It seemed like hours, but it was probably only five minutes or so. She kept her focus on Molly, had to because she couldn't look at him now.
At the diner, she'd wanted to blurt it all out to her dad. He'd asked her what was on her mind, but she hadn't known what to tell him. Or where to begin. She'd thought about talking to someone about her options, just hadn't gotten around to it yet. She'd be eighteen soon, but knowing no one here, what would she do? She really didn't see any other option. And, yet, where would she be if her mother had made the same decision? At least she'd given Claire the chance to live.
She took a deep breath, glanced at him from the corner of her eye. He hadn't moved, probably hadn't blinked. He didn't look mad, just shocked and thoughtful.
"Are you going to say something?"
"I keep coming back to you waited until now to tell me this."
"Haven't had a chance. What was I supposed to do? Tell you when you walked in the door of where I work? I want to keep the job, and I'd certainly prefer not to be made a fool of in front of the people I work with."
"Made a fool of how?"
"Oh, I could think of a few ways. I did it on purpose. I tricked you. I seduced you so I should have thought of everything."
"I would have said no such thing, but certainly you could have told your father you needed to speak with me."
"And he would have asked me why. And what was I supposed to tell him?"
"I was embarrassed. I feel pretty stupid. I mean, I've head Health class, I know how it works."
"You were upset, emotional, stressed, and not thinking clearly. People have gotten into this situation with far less on their plate than what you were dealing with."
"And your excuse?"
"A person I'm attracted to comes to me, needs me, I was not thinking past that."
"I don't know. I shouldn't have… God, what am I supposed to do now?"
"What do you want to do?"
"I don't know. I want to be normal again. I want my life back. I can't have that. May as well throw this into the mix and make me a bigger freak."
"You are no such thing. If anything, you should realize how special you are, knowing there are others similar but not altogether like you."
"You disagree? Where would the world be had it not been for you, the information you were able to provide them."
She shrugged. Okay, he had a point there. They'd managed to save millions of lives. "I just don't know what to do. I'm not old enough."
"How long have you known?"
"A couple of weeks. I didn't think anything of it at first, but when two weeks late turned into more," she shrugged.
"So you have time to decide."
"What? No telling me what to do?"
"I cannot. Were it up to me there would be no question, but it's not up to me. Not solely."
"So, you'd let me not have it?"
"If you feel that's the course of action you must take. I would caution against that, however."
"If, as you asked me earlier using yourself, Micah, and your biological father and uncle as examples. You could be ridding the world of someone special."
"Or another Sylar."
"No," he said adamantly. "I do not see how that is possible. My gifts do not harm people nor do yours. I come from a family that heals, that leads."
"But you don't know."
"No, of course not. There are no guarantees." He grew quiet, regarding her. "There is always the option that your biological mother took."
"Yeah, I'm just not sure I could do it. Carry it and give it up, knowing how I felt growing up. The curiosity, the wondering. You don't know what that's like unless you've lived with it, always the sense of not quite belonging. I mean, my parents love me, but after they had Lyle there was always that question of whether they loved him a little more because he was theirs."
"Or they realized they saved you from an uncertain fate and cherished you, believing you could have died."
"I just don't know what to do."
"Are you feeling well?"
"Yeah, okay. Mornings are kind of rough, but it passes. I don't feel like anything's different, but I know it is."
"So, that's all you're going to say on this?"
"What would you have me say?"
"I don't know. It just seems like you should say something."
"Well, I'm rather limited in my options until you've made your decision. I will support whatever you decide. If you chose to terminate, I will go with you."
"I never thought this would be a decision I'd have to make. I've got college, my whole future to look forward to. Do you know how disappointed my parents will be? The Petrelli's? That's the hardest part."
He slid an arm around her, drawing her so she could rest her head against his shoulder. "You cannot live your life, make life altering decisions based on them, Claire. This has to be your decision."
"You want me to have it."
"I will not deny that would be my choice."
"And what? You go on with your life like Nathan did? And I get to what? Live life working at a diner. Maybe if I'm lucky I'll have a three bedroom trailer instead of two?
"I am not your biological father, you cannot compare us. He was under the impression you were dead."
"Would you be able to forgive me if I didn't?"
"I believe all life is precious, Claire, a gift. But, yes, I could see where such a thing would be inconvenient at this point in time. And while I don't understand them I realize your feelings on adoption are real."
"Where are you staying?"
"I rented a suite, unsure you'd want to see me. I realized that was a possibility. I felt guilty for that night to some extent so wouldn't have blamed you."
"I should have had better control."
She lifted her head from his shoulder and regarded him. "This isn't your fault. If anything it's mine. And I liked that you lost control."
"You do that to me I'm afraid."
"You and Molly can stay with me," she said softly, noticing that Molly was walking toward them. The other girl left, presumably to go home.
"You do not have to do that."
"I know. It's small, but there's a spare bedroom. Molly can sleep with me."
"Or I could."
"We shouldn't. I mean, she'd know."
"If you're going to have a child, Claire, she'll know anyway."
"I haven't made that decision yet."
"Just pointing out the facts."
"Is this your way of telling me you want to be in bed with me again?"
"If you can forgive me and understand why I stayed away this long."
"And when you leave?"
"I know where you are now. I will return."
"Will it be another two months?"
"I told you why I stayed away this long."
"Yes, but you make it sound as if I'll be eternally in danger."
"And in need of someone to watch out for you."
"Collecting women to protect, are you?" She turned her attention to Molly. "Would you like to come stay with me while you're here?"
"Can we? I don't like hotels very much."
"I don't blame you, but I still have to go to work. Okay? I can't take a vacation."
"I know that."
"Is that all right with you then?" she asked the Haitian.
"I already gave you my answer."
"Yes, and stated your preference as well. We'll see."
She offered her hand to Molly. "Maybe we can convince him to drive by a store and we can pick up some food that you like. I don't have very much to offer you."
"Can we?" Molly asked.
"Of course," he said dryly, though Claire detected a touch of amusement in his tone.
"Thank you," she and Molly said together.
"How can I resist?"
"I think we bought every kind of cereal the store had," Claire said with a light laugh, setting the last bag of groceries on the counter. Her apartment wasn't fancy, but it was decent. Comfortable but modest, so no one would wonder how she was affording it on a waitress' salary. Calling the second room a bedroom was pushing it, but there was a bed in there and a dresser.
"And what are these things?" The Haitian asked, holding up a box of Twinkies.
"You've never had a Twinkie?"
"I'm afraid I missed out on the delicacy."
"Only the best snack cake around. And, hey, they're so full of preservatives they'll last for like a hundred years." He arched a brow at her. "I'm serious! Well, maybe a hundred years is an exaggeration."
"This is nice," Molly said, taking a seat on the chair. "Can I call you Claire here?"
"It's fine, as long as you remember to call me Amanda when we're not in here."
"I can do that."
"All right then." Claire handed Molly the remote control for the TV. "I don't know what you watch. I don't get any movie channels, but I have Nickelodeon and Disney Channel."
"Oh, those are good. I like That's So Raven."
She glanced at The Haitian and smiled, feeling a little sorry for him. "You've been subjected to That's So Raven and SpongeBob SquarePants, haven't you?"
"Yes, as has Mohinder."
She laughed then, putting the loaf of bread they'd bought in the bread box she had. She'd always wanted one, thought they were very cool for some reason. And here she had an apartment and her very own bread box.
He was behind her then, hands at her hips and then around her waist. She turned to face him and he lifted her with ease onto the counter. He scanned her face, looking for something. She didn't know what and so, she asked.
He laughed. "It occurs to me I have yet to kiss you."
"I hadn't noticed." She was a liar, and was going straight to hell for telling such a bald-faced one. The lift of his lips told her he didn't believe her either.
"I had. Of course, there wasn't much time. I would have taken the opportunity at the park, but someone sidetracked me."
"Oh, well," she whispered with a smile. "You could correct that mistake now if you wanted to."
"That would be acceptable?"
"I don't see why not."
"It may blur the lines, confuse things for you. You may think I'm trying to influence your decision about other things."
"I think I can compartmentalize a kiss with the other things."
He smiled. "You think so?"
She slid her feet up, hooking them around his legs to draw him closer. "Yes."
He kissed her then, evidently needing no more prompting. She remembered lots of things of their one night together, but kissing him had gotten lost somehow. She could tell anyone how he felt to the touch, what he felt like inside of her, on top of her, her back pressed against the shower wall, and how she'd felt waking up beside him. Kissing him, though, felt new and different. She vowed to commit it to memory this time.
As her arms went around his neck, drawing him closer she realized he was probably right. This probably would confuse things, but she already felt that way so a little more couldn't hurt.
"We should get Molly dinner," she whispered, kissing his cheek.
"Yes, we should."
"I'm hungry, too," she added.
"Well, that, too, but that's not what I meant."
"I promise to be on the couch by sunrise."
She giggled softly. "That's tempting," she whispered. God was it.
"I think that's what I liked about that night."
"There wasn't time to think. It just happened. We were tempted and gave into it."
"Yeah, more nights like those and I'll need more than a two-room apartment. I think I learned my lesson on not thinking."
He grazed her cheek with the back of his finger. "If I could undo it I would, if only to save you the pain I can see in you're eyes you are experiencing. I, however, cannot."
"I know. I wouldn't want you, too, anyway. You'd carry the guilt around with you."
"Either way I would carry the guilt with me, if I did it or someone else does it."
She sighed heavily. "Can we not talk about this tonight? With Molly right there anyway?"
She kissed him lightly. "Dinner. Children get very cranky when they're not fed."
"I've seen evidence of this phenomenon."
"I'll just bet you have. Do you want to help me? I know there's not much room in here." There was barely enough room for her in the tiny kitchen, but she wouldn't complain if he just wanted to stand there and talk to her. Or even just stand there and look at her.
"I'll help if I can."
"Great. I'm going to go change. You can start the hamburger patties if you want to."
"I'd rather help you change, but if I must remain here I will see to dinner," he said, stepping away so she could slide off the counter. He helped her, though.
"Thanks." She saw Molly was engrossed in some show on Disney Channel. "We're going to have hamburgers for dinner."
"Okay. I'm pretty hungry. All I had to eat today was that sundae."
Claire glanced in the Haitian's direction.
"She refused to eat. It was not my fault. I offered to stop, but she was too anxious to find you to allow me to."
"Hmm," Claire said, making her way to her bedroom. She made an assessing gaze of the room. Nothing was too severely out of place. A few clothes on the floor, which was easily fixed. Otherwise, her bed was even made so she was good.
She realized midway through the eating part of dinner that this was a very bad idea. The food was real good and he'd helped her out anytime she'd asked for it. Molly had even set the table for her.
Sitting there together at the small table she had seemed family-like. And it made her start wondering what her child would look like, their child. She hadn't thought much about it before now. Denial maybe, or just choosing not to pay attention to the countless kids she waited on as part of her job. This was different.
She fought back the tears as she and Molly cleared the table. There just was no easy decision. She wasn't going to be entirely happy whichever way she went. Crying certainly wasn't going to help, but once she started these days it was difficult to stop.
"We should go make your bed up and then we can watch a movie if you want to."
"Okay," Molly said. "I can do it myself. My bed I mean."
"I'm sure you can, but I need to find the sheets." She scrunched her nose, regarding Molly. "I don't suppose you can locate objects?"
"It's okay, I was kidding anyway, I know where they are."
Molly helped her, which left Claire wondering what movies she had that Molly could not just see but that she'd like. Any movie suitable for Molly would probably bore the Haitian to tears.
"Are you having a baby?"
"What?" Claire asked, more harshly then she'd meant to.
She spotted Molly holding a pamphlet that she'd brought home from the clinic after getting the test done. She'd forgotten about it, not even sure how it get into this room. She never came in here, but must have at some point over the past couple of weeks.
"I, uh, I don't know. Just curious I guess, you know?"
"Oh," Molly said, and if Claire didn't know better she'd say the girl was disappointed. "My parents wanted more than me, but weren't able to."
"It's okay. I just always thought it would be fun to have a baby brother or sister."
"You miss them a lot?" Claire said, sitting on the edge of the bed.
"I don't blame you. I'm sorry, which I know doesn't help you. But you have a lot of people who care for you and are looking out for you."
"I know. You're not with your parents either."
"No, but it's different, not the same at all."
"So, if you had a baby, would I be able to see it?"
"I don't see why not," Claire whispered, wondering if the Haitian had put Molly up to this somehow. No, he wouldn't stoop that low. "Let's go pick out a movie. Maybe we can make some popcorn, too. All I have is microwaveable."
"Good," Claire said, taking the pamphlet and stuffing it in the waistband of her sweats. She just hoped out of sight would equate to out of mind and Molly would forget about the pamphlet.
"How about this one? Paul Rudd's kind of cute," Molly said, pointing out Claire's copy of The 40 Year Old Virgin.
"Mm, no, I'm afraid that one's out. Sorry."
Molly sighed, but Claire could tell she wasn't mad exactly. "Okay. This one then," she said, pulling out Claire's copy of Sweet Home Alabama.
"Sure, I guess this one is okay."
"Thanks. I like her."
"Yeah, me, too," Claire said.
Molly settled on one side of the Haitian on the couch while Claire started the popcorn and put the movie in.
"You really don't have to sit through this if you don't want to."
"What about it?"
"Well, it's a girl movie."
"Would you rather I leave?"
"No, I just didn't want you to think I expected you to sit through a movie you might hate. You could go lay down or something if you'd rather."
"I'll tough it out."
She got the popcorn and some drinks for them, settling in to watch Reese Witherspoon realize that the life she was living wasn't necessarily the right one.
Info. on icons used for background:
The non-illustrated icon is courtesy of lay-of-luthien @ LJ. She's got some nice work, and did this and 4 others very quickly! The illustrated icon is courtesy of: julietbunny who gave me this in addition to some other great goodies for the Heroes_Holidays Spring Hiatus project.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com