"Yes, Dad, I am. The last place I want to go is the Petrelli's right now. I couldn't look at Heidi, those boys without telling them something. Even if it was just with my eyes. And besides, I want to be with you. I haven't seen you in forever. At least that's what it feels like. I'll get my stuff tomorrow."
"Tell me about it," he said. And she felt a little guilty. She had her memories. She wasn't sure just how much of his were gone. "All right. It's going to be pretty cramped."
She shrugged. That was supposed to bother her? Her dad, the one who'd raised her, who'd loved her, who'd done whatever he could to ensure her safety was here. She was with him again. Not that she wouldn't miss Nathan. She supposed, glancing at the sky before following her dad to a nearby taxi, that there was a possibility he survived. If Peter had gotten control of things enough to use his brother's power and fly off on his own. She hoped so.
She was exhausted to the point she thought she'd fall asleep in the backseat of the cab on the way to wherever her dad was taking her. And if she'd learned anything during her time spent in New York, it was that cab rides were typically anything but smooth and nap worthy.
She glanced up at the apartment building the cab stopped in front of, confused. She'd expected a hotel or something.
"You have an apartment here?" Just how much was there about him she didn't know?
"No. We had an operative here and her apartment was still vacant, so three others and I have been using it. Tonight, just two others, including you."
"Oh," she said simply. Ted was dead. She had no idea what Officer Parkman's condition was. Getting shot in the chest and torso couldn't be a good thing.
"He's got a wife back at home, pregnant. If he dies it's my fault." As if he'd been reading her mind and knew she'd been thinking about Matt Parkman.
"Dad it is not."
"I could have left him back in Texas. I should have. Too many families, too many lives have been ruined already. That woman may lose her husband, their child may never know its father."
"It is so not your fault, Daddy. You didn't force him to come, did you?"
"There wasn't anything you could do to stop him. He seems like a good guy and he's a police officer. He was going to come anyway. He's the type of guy that would do the right thing."
"You're right. I just can't believe how long I let this go on. It took almost losing you, knowing they'd take you away from me without batting an eye that woke me up."
She smiled, tears filling her eyes. More of them anyway. There were already plenty there from watching Nathan come at the last minute and take Peter away. He literally saved the day. He was a hero and sadly, no one would know the truth but those that witnessed it tonight.
"There's someone I want you to meet. Two actually," he said, knocking on an apartment door.
"I'm not really up for meeting anyone."
He looked her over and she couldn't help but get a fuzzy feeling in her stomach. This was her dad, looking at her as if she could never disappoint him or let him down. She hugged him tight.
"What was that for," he asked as a man she recognized from tonight answered the door.
"Just because I love you and I can."
"Lots more where that one came from."
"I think I'm supposed to say that to you."
"You made it," he said, glancing at Claire.
"How is she?"
"Frightened, but otherwise all right. She's been asking for the boy. The other one that was there tonight. I helped his father before we escaped from the building."
"Micah," he said, entering the apartment and approaching a young girl. "We'll see if we can't find out where his parents are. How does that sound?"
"You're not going to hurt me?"
"No, Molly, I'm not going to hurt you." He stood then and gestured to Claire. "I'm sorry about earlier, but just like Officer Parkman made a promise to you. I made a promise to my daughter to keep her safe no matter what it took. There are people who'd like to take her from me because she's special like you are."
Wide eyed, Molly stared at Claire. "Why can't I detect anyone in here?"
"You're asking me?" Claire was confused. What did she look like someone with answers? Or maybe because Molly didn't see Claire as an adult.
Claire scanned the room, looking for help from her father or the other man. And then her eyes landed on him. How she'd missed him she wasn't sure. It wasn't like he blended in with the furniture.
"Hi," she said simply with a smile. Here was someone familiar to both New York and Texas. It was because of him she was here and had been able to help save the world.
He nodded simply and she rolled her eyes. Apparently, he still didn't talk to - or in front of - anyone but her.
"Are you special, Molly?"
She nodded simply.
"She's the tracking device," her father said softly.
"What? What does that mean?"
"I can find people. I think about them and I can tell you where they are. But I can't do it in here."
Claire's eyes flicked to the Haitian. He nodded once more.
"I think it's because of him," she said, gesturing to the Haitian. "He's special, too, like you and like me. Part of what makes him special is being around him we're not special. I'm not sure why or how else to explain it."
Molly turned to look at the Haitian then.
"I don't understand. Why is she here?" Claire asked her father.
"Well, ironically enough, Officer Parkman found her at a crime scene months ago, using his telepathy. Both her parents were murdered by Sylar. She was taken into protective custody and somehow the company got a hold of her. They've been holding her ever since, using her to find specials."
"You mean they took her and no one missed her? Didn't she have relatives, a case worker, or something?"
"I don't know how it happened, but Thompson got a hold of her. And someone got a hold of Micah Sanders, too."
"He told me what they did to him. There was a lady who could look like anyone she wanted to. They fooled Micah into thinking the lady was his mommy so he wouldn't leave. He said she could make the room look different, too. So, he never knew how to actually get out. I didn't believe him at first, because that sounds like a lie. But he was smart and he helped get us out of the building by making the elevators work. So, I think I believe him."
Claire's dad stooped again, placing a hand on Molly's shoulder. "They did that to me, too, Molly. Fooled me into thinking she was my wife."
Molly's eyes widened. She seemed a little relieved that it wasn't just kids that were fooled.
"So, you're okay here then with Dr. Suresh?"
She nodded. "Yes, he says he can help me."
"Yes, he can. And we will, too."
"Can I stay with him?"
"We'll have to see. Okay? If your mom and dad had family that you were supposed to go to, we need to get you there." She looked a little scared then. "That doesn't mean you won't see any of us again. You're special, and besides you know how to find us. Right?"
She smiled a little at that. "Okay," she said and Claire had to admire the girl's bravery. She'd been kidnapped and used for who knew what end. She turned her attention from Claire's father to Claire then. "What can you do?"
"Me? I heal. I can't get hurt or die."
"Cool. So, like you could chop your arm off…"
"You know," Claire said with a soft laugh. "I haven't gone that far to find out just how much I'll heal. But I did come back from the dead."
"Really?" She sounded very interested in that.
"Well," she said, taking a seat on the couch next to the Haitian. He seemed to be paying her as much attention as Molly. So was her father. He didn't know this story either, she didn't think he did anyway. She'd always wondered how it was she'd shown up on a table in the morgue and her parents hadn't been called.
"I was alone with a boy who tried to hurt me. I did something kind of stupid. You know? Because I thought he liked me?"
Molly's nod was the only response.
"I fought with him and I'm not sure what happened. I hit my head on something. The next thing I remember is waking up on the doctor's table. The coroner - doctor - had pulled a big branch out of my head."
"Was it scary?"
"It was very scary and weird. I was dead. I didn't know if my parents knew, if they'd been told. So, I had no idea if my going home was going to be scary to them. But you know what?"
"It helped me save Peter Petrelli's life. Do you know him?"
She nodded. "I've never seen him, though."
"You saw him tonight. He was one of the two men that disappeared into the sky."
"The one who was glowing."
"Yes," Claire said with a smile, fighting back the tears. "He had something similar happen to him, something imbedded in his head."
"So, he died, too?"
"Yes," the man her father said was Dr. Suresh said. "Here in my apartment. I didn't know you saved him."
"Well, I pulled a glass shard out of his head as long as my forearm. His body did the rest and regenerated."
"It was quite a mess in here after that. He kept healing when Sylar tried to hurt him."
"Because he'd saved me in Texas a while ago. He got my power."
"That is so cool," Molly said, sounding very much like the child she still was. Claire hoped she had a long time to stay that way.
"It's time for Molly to get some sleep I think. It's been a long and busy night."
"Okay," Claire said with a smile. "It was nice meeting you, Molly."
"You, too." She said, following Dr. Suresh to the other side of the apartment. Not that it was very far to go or anything.
"You never told me something happened to you," her father said.
"That night with Brody."
Her father's eyes met the Haitian's. She saw something pass between them but didn't quite get it. They'd erased his memories. What more was there to do?
"Why do you think I crashed his car? Do you think I'm insane or something? Please don't go all protective on me okay? Maybe you shouldn't answer that."
"No, but you are a teenager."
"Ha ha, so not laughing here. He tried to hurt me, and I know he actually hurt others."
"You can say it, Claire."
"I don't want to, Molly might hear." She leaned back against the couch and glanced at the Haitian. "Where were you tonight?"
"As you so aptly pointed out to Molly. He prevents powers from working. He could not be near any of you."
"Oh, I hadn't thought of that. I just assumed you couldn't handle the hard stuff."
He chuckled softly, but still said nothing.
"Dad, I'm tired."
"I know, honey. Let's get you to settled. The apartment's right next door. Good night, Dr. Suresh. Good night, Molly."
"Good night," both called out at the same time.
"Good night," Claire repeated, surprised when the Haitian followed them out the door and down the hall. "Why is he following us?"
"I told you there were four of us. He's the last one standing."
"Besides us," he said, unlocking the door.
"I should call Angela."
"She already knows," her father said, glancing at the Haitian. Of course she did, the Haitian would have told her.
"I'm going to go out for a little bit. See what I can find out about Officer Parkman. And the others that were there tonight."
"Can't I come with you?"
"No, I'm not sure it's safe. With you and Molly here near the Haitian and Dr. Suresh, I know you'll be safe."
"Okay," she said softly, watching as he went back to the door. "Dad?"
"I love you."
He hugged her tight, kissing the top of her head. "I love you, too, sweetheart, and I'm so glad you're all right. I don't know how we both ended up in New York, but I thank God I found you. I'm not letting you go again. We'll find somewhere safe."
"Okay." If anyone could do it, he could. Oh, she was past the age of thinking her dad was all-knowing and could do anything, but he hadn't let her down yet.
She turned then, back against the door, realizing her dad leaving meant she was alone with the Haitian. She hadn't been alone with him since the day she'd gone her way, leaving him without a passport or plane ticket.
"I have your passport back at Angela's."
"I'm not too worried about it."
"Now he talks. People are going to think I'm crazy talking to you when you don't talk back to me in front of them."
No response. This was going to be fun. "So, what's going to happen to her?"
"Yes, the girl. She's kind of dangerous, isn't she? She can find any of us whenever she wants, for whoever wants her to find us."
"That has proved problematic, yes."
"And yet, I stayed under the radar for a while. Why?"
"Your father worked very hard to keep you a secret, Claire."
"I can't even imagine what she and the other one, the boy, went through. How scared they must have been. I mean, I'm scared and I can get shot and survive it."
"They'll be fine. Your father, Mohinder Suresh, and I will see to it."
"They're just kids, though. I mean, essentially they were kidnapped. Molly maybe it was different, I'm sure she felt and was safe. But the other one, they deceived him to keep him there. That's not right. And how will he ever know for sure the woman he looks at is really his mother?"
"I do not know the answer to that." He was watching her and she wondered what he was looking for. It was unnerving that he talked so little. "This truly distresses you."
"Well, of course it does. I mean, what Angela did wasn't very nice but at least I wasn't being held somewhere unable to go anywhere because I'm special. I had a family, a life. And I didn't know any different. Molly and Micah do. Molly's parents were murdered by Sylar. Dr. Suresh said Micah's father needed medical help earlier."
"And Molly and Micah will both get lives now, Claire. What is really bothering you about this?"
"He was a part of this."
"Yes. I mean, sure he had a change of heart, but up until what a month or two ago, he was in the thick of it. If they had found me a year ago, would he have given me up? Would I be in a building somewhere tucked away like Molly?"
"He came to New York prepared to kill the tracking system for your safety, and the safety of all the others who are special." He stood then, walking to the window to look outside. "As to the other. I cannot speak as to what your father would have done a year ago. I can speculate and I would say no he would not have given you up, even then. It may be Petrelli blood coursing through your veins, but you are a Bennet as far as he is concerned."
She walked up behind him, sniffling from the tears, and hugged him from behind. "Thank you." He stiffened against her hug and she drew away. "Would you do me a favor?"
"I can try."
"Would you sit with me?"
He frowned, seeming to process the question. "Where?"
"While I sleep? Until my dad gets back?"
"Of course, Claire. I'm not going anywhere. I'll watch over you."
"Get some sleep. We'll know about Peter and Nathan tomorrow."
"Do you think…?"
"I do not know, I truly do not."
"At least you're honest." She went to the couch then, curled up, surprised when a minute or two later he draped a blanket over her. "Thank you," she said sleepily, stifling a yawn. "You won't leave?"
"It would serve you right, considering you left me."
"Not fair. I just wanted to find Peter. Turns out I needed to."
"I said it would serve you right, I did not say that I would. Your father or I will be here when you wake up."
"Do you sleep?"
He chuckled then. "If I remember to."
"Oh," she said softly, drifting off so she wasn't entirely sure he was joking.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com