Did he not understand? The one day every little girl wants their mother with them was quickly approaching and Claire's wasn't in possession of her mind enough to come. And she was alive. So people weren't going to understand.
Explaining her absence at her shower was easy enough. She was based out of New York now and her mother was in Texas. Angela and Heidi Petrelli had been there, but it wasn't the same. Angela wasn't really her grandmother and Heidi wasn't a step-mother. She was just Nathan's wife. But no mother would miss their daughter's wedding day. Even her birth mother was coming, not that anyone knew who she was. Only Claire. Only Nathan.
"No, it's his fault she's like this. He does not deserve to have that song played for him."
"If that's how you feel then you must fault me as well. I am the one who actually did the mind wiping."
"Under his orders! And you said you've mind wiped others pretty regularly and they didn't react this way. So, it was something about my mother that made her react differently."
"What would you have had him do, Claire?"
"Tell her the truth!"
"He was under orders not to."
"Claire," he said, looking at her as if she was being very irrational. She hated when he did that. Hated that she was going to cave in and have the stupid song played anyway. Because when it got down to it, she knew it wasn't her father's fault. It was just convenient for her to blame him.
Not blaming him would make her look at herself, because if it wasn't for her the Haitian would never have had to mind wipe her mother to begin with. She was special and her father had to alter her mother's memories to account for that. So, it was her fault really.
"I'm off the hook as you say because I was following your father's orders. Off the hook, mind you, enough that not only do you forgive me but you're marrying me."
"But your father who was following orders to ensure no one found out about people like you and that's unforgivable."
"She's his wife! He shouldn't have had secrets from her!"
"Claire, it's one song. It's three minutes of your life. It would make your father happy and your mother would not like knowing you're carrying a grudge."
"Don't you start talking about my mother now! You don't even know her."
"I know her well enough to know she would not want you to hold your father accountable for what he did out of obligation to those he thought were doing the right thing."
She sat in her chair, her large desk separating them now. She was a lawyer, something both her father and Nathan had been proud of - all the Petrelli's really. And she had the Petrelli's to thank for it. It was their their money that got her into the best schools.
She wasn't thinking like a lawyer right now. She was thinking like a girl who'd lost her mother too soon but not too death. It was so hard seeing her, and Claire tried to see her every chance she got. It wasn't as easy now that she was grown up and working to do it, though.
He stepped around her desk and knelt on one knee. Her hand instinctively went to his face. When he was this close she wanted to touch him.
"It's not your fault, Claire," he said softly.
Tears formed in her eyes. She'd waited years for someone, anyone to absolve her of guilt. To tell her that she wasn't to blame. To forgive her so that she could forgive herself. No matter how you spun it, she was the reason this had happened to her mother.
His arms went around her. "Your parents love you very much. Both of them. Your mother wouldn't want you blaming him for this. Or pretending to blame him so that you can take the focus off yourself. Both are unnecessary."
The tears started falling now. "But if it wasn't for me…"
"If it wasn't for you, she never would have had a daughter."
She sighed heavily, taking a Kleenex from the nearby box and wiping her eyes with it.
"I'm just tired of getting told she's better only to have her relapse."
"And you don't think it bothers me? That it's my power that has caused her to be this way?"
She sighed heavily, staring at him. She wasn’t sure why she was being so difficult about this. He was right, it was a couple of minutes out of her life.
"Play the song."
"Are you sure?"
"I think maybe my father and I both have one another to forgive and know we forgive one another."
"You will be happy you came to this decision."
"Maybe one day. Right now, I just want my mom."
"I know and I am sorry."
"Me, too," she said softly. Her phone rang then, signaling the end to their private moment. That they'd gotten this long was amazing.
He'd been right. As much as she wanted her mother here, not dancing to Daddy's Little Girl would have been wrong. Her father had held her a little closer than he should have, glad that they got this dance. Their dance. And she found looking into the eyes that she'd looked into as a young girl thinking he could do no wrong that he hadn't done wrong. He'd done what he thought was right. To protect her. She'd needed that protection. She'd trade it for her mom's well being in a minute, but neither could go back and fix it, even if Hiro were to offer to help them they wouldn't do it.
"I love you, Dad," she whispered as the song ended.
"Me, too, Claire-bear."
He gave her a gentle kiss to her cheek and just like that he was walking away. She knew he'd leave the reception altogether if she let him. He didn't think she wanted him here. He'd come to give her away and stayed through dinner and this song.
"I was hoping we could dance again. Later."
He nodded then, removing his glasses and she thought she saw the glimmer of tears in his eyes before he looked away.
"I'd like that."
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com