Word Count: 1,426
It was early enough in the morning they didn't need to worry about being discreet. The bartender would never remember a black man conversing with the man in horn-rimmed glasses while he sipped a Bloody Mary.
This was how they handled business, meeting at the Dallas airport before or - sometimes and - after assignments when necessary. They arrived here at different times, on different flights and did the same heading home. Neither was willing to chance someone noticing them. The Haitian had requested a face-to-face meeting for the first time in months so it had to be something important.
"I will be unavailable until after the baby comes. Unless it's of the utmost urgency." Straight and to the point. He liked that about The Haitian.
"Is she that close? She was barely showing last I saw her."
"A couple of months."
"She shouldn't be alone anymore than she has to be from now on."
"My sentiments exactly."
"How is she?"
"I left before you this trip if you recall, so I have not seen her since you have."
"Yes, but I meant, how is she really? We can't talk at the diner."
"She is fine, busy."
"I don't know why she insists on that job."
"To fit in, I believe."
"There are other ways to fit in."
"It gives you the opportunity to see her."
"It does have its benefits."
Both men were silent as Noah sipped his drink. He regarded the other man. He was more than a co-worker, especially now that they were trying to bring The Company down. And he was the father to his grandchild. No, The Haitian was his friend. A friend he had not envisioned ending up with his daughter.
When Claire had told him she was pregnant, he hadn't known what to say. Instinct told him he should be upset at the man sitting next to him. A man old enough to know how things work. A man who had no business taking advantage of his daughter.
He, however, knew his daughter well enough to know that he couldn't imagine her sitting idly by while someone did that. Memory of the car she'd crashed in retaliation of someone trying to do that was still far too fresh in his mind.
And so he was stuck. What did he do? What could he do? He wasn't in a position to do anything the stereotypical father would do under the circumstances.
He couldn't tell her to get an abortion, though apparently she'd thought about it judging by the tone of their limited conversation the day she'd dropped the news into his lap that he was going to become a grandfather. He still hadn't come to grips with that, he thought of himself as too young.
He conceded that perhaps she'd been dealt a difficult hand and had to grow up a little too fast so maybe he shouldn't be too hard on her. He didn't think she was the type to sleep around, so had to assume what she did with The Haitian had meant something. And now that they were living together. Well, he didn't want to go there.
He couldn't very well demand they get married. He wouldn't be able to ensure they carried it through anyway. And did he want that type of life for Claire anyway? A forced marriage, one out of convenience? No. He and Sandra had their moments and issues, certainly many had come to the forefront during the past few months that he hadn't anticipated. But, they had genuine feelings for one another and were able to weather the storm. He wanted nothing less for Claire. The fact she was with someone who knew her secret was a little easier. He knew what living a lie was like, living one at home was the hardest thing of all. Constantly lying to Sandra was unfair, a violation of the very vows he'd taken when he married her. That was done now, the lying. No more secrets, lies and deception. Their marriage was better for it.
"I have questions."
"All right," The Haitian said. He was never bothered when there was silence between them.
"Were you seeing her under my nose?"
"No, I would not do that," he said, but didn't sound entirely convincing.
"All right," he said quietly, satisfied with the answer even if it was evasive. He wasn't lying, but he wasn't being totally honest either.
"Are you with her only because of this?"
"I went to her because of the night she came to me that resulted in this, yes. But I went to her before I knew the results of that night. I would never have sought her out if she had not done so first."
"Because of me?"
Apparently, he wasn't going to elaborate on what the other reasons were because he said nothing more.
"You will take care of her?"
"Until my last breath."
"You have money?"
"I didn't mean it that way. She's mine, carrying my grandchild, I have a right to know if you can afford a family."
"Yes. I've lived a meager existence for years now with no one to be responsible for or spend money on but myself. My expenses were covered generously. Same as my time. I have more than enough to support her and a child. Even one or two more if she so desired."
"Another one comes I'd best hear that there was a wedding somewhere along the way first."
The Haitian smiled slightly, a glimmer of something in his eyes.
"She deserves better than that," Noah added.
"One is excusable, a mistake, but even if she doesn't you'd best be thinking from now on that she apparently gets pregnant quite easily."
"It would seem so."
So, he agreed with him. That made him feel better for some reason. He hoped he was just waiting for the right time, a new mother at barely eighteen was not the right time. Even Noah Bennet knew that much.
"I won't ask any more questions."
Silence again. It was time for him to go. He finished his drink, setting enough money on the bar to cover the tab. The bartender wouldn't remember what the money was for, but it would be there. He wasn't a thief.
"I haven't told my wife."
"Any of it. I'm not sure I should. Becoming a grandmother, well, that's liable to set her off and lead to her saying something to someone she shouldn't."
"But I also promised that there would be no more secrets."
"You have to decide which is more important. The safety of your daughter or one secret when so many have already been revealed."
"And if she finds out?"
"I do not know. My interest is in the well-being of your daughter and my child first and foremost. If you believe your wife might endanger us then I suggest keeping a secret is necessary."
"So, just never tell her she has a grandchild? That her daughter is in a relationship?"
"If you feel it is necessary. You donít tell her you see her anyway."
He was right. He hadn't told Sandra that he stopped to see Claire as he did. Why? She'd want to come with one day and it was best this way, completely cut off. So, he was already keeping a secret he supposed, but he liked to think it was for everyone's well being. He sighed, shaking his head as he stood to leave. They'd been there too long as it was, they needed to go their separate ways now.
"Are you off to home now?" he asked.
"Yes, I needed to tell you that this is it for me for the time being."
"I understand," he said, shaking The Haitian's hand. "Tell her I said hello, that I miss her."
"I will. She misses you very much."
"I miss her, too, more than she probably knows. I think it's the hardest thing I've had to do, send her away."
"I will take care of her."
"I know you will, it's one of the few thoughts that allows me to sleep at night. Let me know when she has it."
"I will," The Haitian said, preparing to take the bartender's memories away.
They went their separate ways then, Noah toward one terminal and The Haitian toward another. They even flew on different airlines, their paths never crossing except briefly at the bar. The bar where the bartender wouldn't remember them being together.
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