Word Count: 1,595
They'd been gone for only a week. It felt like forever to Claire. She was currently at work, counting the minutes until her shift ended so she could go back home and wait for them to get back.
"You could come with us, Claire."
"No, I can't."
"You have the means…"
"I know I have the means, but the money I have is for emergencies. Not jet setting off to Vegas on a whim. That's not blending in very well, and that's not something Amanda would be able to pull off. Plus, it's not a very good way to keep my whereabouts a secret."
So, her Haitian and Molly had gone to visit Micah, DL and Niki by themselves. It would have been nice to see them, to see someone she knew.
She'd slept beside him every night for two weeks. Fell asleep in his arms, woke up to him always nearby even if he'd already gotten out of bed. The past week had been awful. She couldn't sleep in her bed, because it smelled like him. She swore if she put her hand on his side that she could even feel the outline of him. Ridiculous.
Neither Molly nor the Haitian had been happy with her decision to stay behind. He probably would have stayed with her if he hadn't promised Molly a trip to Vegas to see Micah. And if he was anything he was true to his word. She just couldn't take the time off. Nathan and her father had worked too hard, gone to too much trouble to get her here safely for her to ruin it by doing something stupid.
Speaking of…The bells above the door rang, signaling a customer. She looked up and smiled, happier than she could remember being at seeing his familiar face.
"Hi," she said cheerily.
"Hi yourself. How are you today?"
"I'm doing all right."
"Just all right," he asked as she poured his usual cup of coffee.
"Anything I can do?"
She sighed heavily. She had to tell him. If she was going to do this, he had to know. He'd figure it out eventually, of course, which was why she needed to tell him. And for some reason it seemed right that he be the first person to know.
"What can I get for you today?"
"Whatever pie looks good. You choose, you haven't let me down yet."
"All right. I'll be right back."
She took an extra minute to write him a note on a second ticket, telling him to meet her at the movie theatre she'd gone to with the Haitian and Molly when they'd first gotten to town. It was the only public place she really knew of that could still be private and no one would pay attention to two people coming in separately.
She set the pie and the two tickets on the table. "I'll be back to check on you in a bit."
She didn't take a break like she usually did when he came in and he seemed to sense she didn't want to talk to him at the diner at all. He left without saying much more to her.
Her shift ended uneventfully. She changed and said goodbye to Doug and Monica and walked to the movie theatre. She bought some popcorn. What was a movie without popcorn? She didn't see him in the theater, so she took a seat away from others but not totally off by herself.
He came in a short while later, sitting a few seats away from her. They watched the movie like that, in silent companionship. She cried more than once even though the movie wasn't a sad one. This close to her dad, doing a father/daughter thing, but not quite able to go all the way with it.
Once the movie was over and most of the people had left he moved next to her.
"That was pretty good."
"Yeah, I saw it last week."
"Yes, it was how I knew it was playing and the time to tell you to be here."
"Oh, yeah, I guess I hadn't thought of the fact you knew the time and name like that. So, you're making friends?"
"A few, that's not who I came to the movie with."
She turned to look at him, wondering what he'd say. If he knew, had a clue. Did Angela tell Nathan and Nathan then tell her dad that she hadn't spent her last night in New York in her bed.
"I came with The Haitian."
"I was wondering when he'd find you."
He shrugged, pushing up on his glasses a little. "I suspected. He betrayed not just me but your biological grandmother for you."
"I'm not sure what you're wanting from me. My approval? I can't stop you, and I can't deny that I'd rather it be him than some guy who didn't know who you are. He can protect you."
"No, that's not it." She took another piece of popcorn and chewed.
"We're running out of time, Claire. I know why you picked this place, but the ushers are going to come through."
"Oh God, I know. It's just not something I ever thought I'd have to say to you. At least right now."
"What would you say if I told you that I'm pregnant?"
She nodded just enough for him to see it.
"Well, then there's not much I can say. Certainly not under the current circumstances."
They were both quiet. She wasn't sure what to say.
"He wants me to have it."
"I wasn't sure until he left again. I've had a week to miss him, to think about it."
"And your decision?"
"I wouldn't be telling you I was if I wasn't going to have it."
"Wow, you're surprisingly calm about this."
"What do you want me to do? Yell? Scream? Call you irresponsible? Go after him?"
"Good, because you're not irresponsible. I'm sure it was an accident not stupidity on your part." He held up his hand. "I don't want to hear about it. You're still my little girl and I'd prefer to keep those images out of my head."
She smiled slightly. "Sorry."
"Are you going to go to school?"
"I'm going to try. I don't want to be like my mother. My birth mother I mean."
"I understand. Is he coming back?"
"Yes. He took Molly to Vegas to see Micah. I think he's going to live with me, so I should have help."
"She'll enjoy that. There aren't too many other specials out there who are children. And I'm glad, school is important. You have potential."
"Thanks," she said with a sad smile. "I just wanted you to know, because it'll become obvious if you keep visiting me. I didn't want you to wonder."
"If you need anything."
"I'll let you know."
He leaned over then, kissing the top of her head. "I can't say I'm thrilled, but I think you'd be making a mistake if you didn't go through with it."
"He said the same thing."
"He'll be good to you."
"I know, because if he's not he's got you and Nathan and Peter and…"
He chuckled. "Yes, there is that too." He kissed the top of her head again, smoothing down her hair. "Good bye, Claire. I'm glad you told me."
And just like that, he was out of the seat next to her and gone. She sat alone in the theater for a while longer, finishing her popcorn. The usher came in and started cleaning up the theater. She stayed until he was about to her row and then got up to leave, throwing her popcorn and cup away on the way out.
She took a deep breath, glad it was over with. Telling her dad, but it still didn't seem real. Probably because he was right, there wasn't anything he could really say about it now. She was on her own here. And that was part of the reason she'd come to the decision she had.
She didn't want to be alone. Wrong reason to have a baby perhaps, but it was incredibly lonely living as she was. Having nobody to talk to, to trust, to just be with. He'd given her that for two weeks. When she wasn't working they were doing something together, the three of them. He seemed as much in agreement as she was about not leaving Molly alone even if she was capable of doing it on her own.
Their only alone time had been here at the movies, and she'd gone with them just to a movie she wanted to see. And in her bedroom.
Feeling more alone than ever just then, she made her way home more than anxious to have them back later. She decided to busy herself with dinner so it'd be ready for them when they got home.
"Home," she whispered. It was such a simple word, but it meant so much. This was her home now. It wasn't great, was on the small side. But she'd had two months now to settle in. And now she wondered if she'd have to move all over again?
No, because Molly would go back to Mohinder eventually, which would leave the extra bedroom free. She kept busy picturing what the room could look like while she made dinner, passing the time until they got back.
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