thebratqueen: Captain Marvel (Claire defy)
[personal profile] thebratqueen
So I, uh, wrote fic.

I'm just as surprised as you are.

Anyway, here 'tis:

Issues
By: The Brat Queen
Fandom: Heroes
Warnings: Petrellicest
Characters: Nathan, Peter, Claire (N/P, P/C)
Rating: PG-13
Words: ~ 3,900

Summary:

***

It was entirely Peter's fault.

Sure she could say it was losing her dad again, or it was finding out that she'd almost lost her other dad again, or it was her Mom, or Lyle, or the Company, or saying she didn't feel safe at school when really it was more about not liking the other students and thinking that the Costa Verde cheerleader uniforms made her look stumpy. Those things were true, to be certain. They weren't wrong. But when push came to shove there was one reason and one reason only why Claire packed her things up and moved in when Nathan asked her to.

“I'm glad you're okay,” Peter said when she'd gotten off of the airplane at JFK. He engulfed her in a tight hug, his arms wrapping so far around her that his hands came back to touch his chest again. “God, Claire, I worried about you.”

Which Claire felt was kind of a lie, since she'd been told the whole story of Peter and the Company and, you know, amnesia. But the last one wasn't his fault, and his overall sentiment was true, so Claire replied by shrugging it off in what she hoped was a worldly fashion and said, “Hey, can't keep a cheerleader down.”

Claire then wanted to crawl into a hole and die forever since oh my God could she have sounded more lame? But Peter looked her in the eyes, smiled like Claire had just told him something wonderful, and said, “No, no you can't.”

It was around then that Claire stopped denying to herself how badly she wanted her uncle.

***

The moved into the house that Claire recognized from her last time in New York City. The big, rich, marble-filled one that had provided the perfect ominous backdrop to the chapters of Claire's life called Claire Learns That She's Crushing On A Relative, Claire's World Ends When Peter Shows Up Dead, as well as Claire Finds Out Her Grandmother's Kind Of A Psycho Bitch.

The psycho bitch part turned out not to be as much of a worry. The house had her, and Nathan, and Peter who visited so often he might as well have lived there, but when Claire asked about Angela Nathan replied with "Ha, no." and sure enough she was not to be seen. Claire didn't know if Angela had moved out or been kicked out, but neither did she care. Claire only wanted to deal with the two Petrelli men and luckily she was able to.

Peter had taken a different viewpoint.

"She's our mother, Nathan!" Peter would say, in any of many arguments that he and Nathan were known to have about this.

"She tried to have you killed, Peter," Nathan would reply in the exact same How much do I have to spell this out for you? tone, though much quieter and more in control than Peter managed.

The fights would then go in any number of directions. ("We can't turn our back on her!" "We're talking about family!" "How can you be so cold?") Claire didn't have to be nearby to hear them. Petrellis - even Nathan - could get loud when they felt strongly enough about something. Claire always eavesdropped, shamelessly, and would give a silent rah rah shake of her hand when Nathan inevitably shut the argument down with his unwavering conclusion: "I don't care if I live without her, Peter. I know I can't live without you!"

The usual response to this was for Peter to shut up, and for Claire to think that maybe her biological dad wasn't a total loser after all.

***

Then Claire actually saw them arguing.

She'd come in after a jog - had to keep in cheerleading shape after all - and she was climbing the stairs when she heard it.

"That can't be how we handle this!"

"I am asking you to trust me. Please."

Experience told Claire that meant they were at the ending. Which was possibly why she felt it was okay to turn her head, to go from eavesdropping to actual looking. She could give a wave all Hey, guys, what's for dinner? and help diffuse the tension and move them all on to happier things.

Her hand was off the banister. Her mouth was open, ready with that H to start her greeting. It was all systems normal and set to go, except for what she saw.

Nathan and Peter were kissing.

Not brotherly kissing. Not even emotionally kissing. Like Wow you could've died and I don't have words for this so I'm just gonna cling for a while kissing. No, this was - this was kissing. Kissing like when Claire used to put her Barbie and Ken together and she didn't exactly know how things happened between them just that something happened between them and it somehow involved rubbing their plastic bodies back and forth and a tight, hot feeling in Claire's stomach.

She was feeling that now. Hot, clammy, and not a little panicked. Like she was going to be in so much trouble if she got caught but that didn't mean she could stop herself. It was wrong, wrong like being near Playboys was wrong, like sure she knew that they existed but the reality of them made her blush in unflattering shades of red and wish that she was elsewhere.

If it was just Nathan it wouldn't have mattered. Nathan and anybody would've meant nothing to her. A moment of ew, perhaps. But it was Peter, her Peter, doing things with his hands and mouth that were making it easy for Claire's mind to fill in some of the gaping blanks between having Barbie and Ken lie down next to each other and the rude jokes that the jocks made in Health class.

Claire fled to her room.

***

"I saw you," Claire said.

"Hum?" Peter glanced over at her from the driver's seat. Claire saw this out of her peripheral vision, because she didn't trust herself to keep a neutral expression if she raised her gaze higher than Peter's hands. She stared at them as he drove and she tried not to imagine herself between him and the steering wheel.

"I saw you." Claire had rehearsed this in her head, so the words came easily, if not naturally. "And Nathan."

The great thing about Peter was that he didn't make a habit of lying to her. Which made sense in its own sick way. You couldn't ask your niece to shoot you in the head and then be vague on other subjects. Well you could but it'd be kind of dicky on your part. Peter wasn't like that, so instead of immediately offering up denials he replied, "You mean me and Nathan - "

"It's okay," Claire hastily assured him. She didn't mind talking about it because she didn't want to have it as a secret between them. Claire already hated the one secret she had to keep. This one could be out in the open. However talking about it and possibly hearing details were two separate things, and Claire wanted that to be clear. "I mean, it's not like you two could have babies together, right?"

She was proud of the way she'd said that. It came off as natural, even relaxed. Not at all like Claire spent days and nights googling any site she could find that talked about genetics and inbreeding. Definitely not like Claire wanted to cry and kick things over how unfair it was that for Nathan this wasn't an issue.

"He's my brother," Peter said. He was talking to her with that serious, intimate tone he used when he was putting himself out there with no walls or protection. Peter used that tone a lot, which was one of the many things Claire liked about him. "I love him. He's one of the most important people in my life."

"He's family," Claire said, to show that she got it. She closed her eyes and listened to the hum of the car's engine. "Of course he's important."

"Exactly," Peter said, even though Claire felt that they weren't being exact at all.

***

When Peter disappeared - again - Claire immediately took it out on Nathan.

"You have one job to do!" she shouted at him. Any minute now she would start throwing things. First would be taking his coffee cup and smashing it into his framed law degree. "Keep him safe! Keep him with us! How could you let him go like that?"

"Yes," Nathan said, with that patronizing manner that made Claire want to take his coffee cup and smash it into his face. "Because if I'm known for anything, it's giving a green light to any of the jackass schemes Peter comes up with. I'm real big on enabling his stupid side."

"He could be anywhere!" Claire said. "What if the Company got him? What if he got sick? What if he's hurt or - "

Claire didn't want to continue with "or." She knew from personal experience that death wasn't the worst thing that could happen, which meant that on her darker days she pondered all the things that someone could do to her that would be worse than something sharp stabbed into her skull. She didn't want to imagine Peter in her place, especially since with him there was no guarantee he could turn her power on whenever he needed it.

"We'll get him back," Nathan said. He sounded more human now, more like the guy Peter talked about whenever he spoke of Nathan. "We're not losing him again."

Claire sank down into one of the leather couches. The 'we' had thrown her. When Peter had supposedly died Claire had tried to convince Nathan that they were a 'we' and he'd pushed her away every time. Now he was admitting that she was right, that they did share a bond over how much they cared for Peter. Only Nathan, like Peter, didn't know how right that was.

"I miss him," Claire said. She looked Nathan in the eye, because she wanted this to be clear. Strangely she wasn't frightened. Maybe because it wasn't like Nathan could judge her. Maybe because she knew Nathan would understand. Or - and she realized this to be true as she thought of it - because for Nathan she was the only one who could understand. "I miss him like you miss him."

Nathan narrowed his eyes and looked at her assessingly. "Claire, what are you - "

"We haven't done anything," Claire told him. She gave him a wry smile. "Maybe because he likes you too much. Anyway, it's not like he even knows. I'd love to say it's because he sucks at the empathy and telepathy, but it's probably because I'm not even on his radar for all kinds of reasons, only some of which might be because we're related - "

Claire ran out of steam. She didn't share the rest of her thoughts, which were that since Peter clearly didn't see being related as the obstacle that most people did that put greater odds on the reason being her. She wasn't smart enough, or pretty enough, or interesting enough, or whatever.

Sometime during all of this Nathan had gotten up from behind his desk and gone to sit beside her. He put an arm around her shoulders. "We'll get him back."

"When he does you'll have to kiss him," Claire said. She leaned in to Nathan's touch because yes, finally she could talk about this and be understood. "Really hard. Because I can't. And then hit him. Also really hard."

"You could hit him," Nathan pointed out.

"Oh I will," Claire replied. "I just think it should happen twice."

"When you're right you're right." For the first time that day, Nathan had something like a smile.

***

Peter came back, which was good. Peter came back with a girl, which was not.

"This is Caitlin," Peter said, gesturing to the petite brunette beside him. "She helped me when I was in Ireland. I don't know what I would've done without her."

"It's a pleasure to meet you both." Caitlin said. She was holding hands with Peter.

Claire hated her on sight.

***

"She can't stay!" Claire hissed at Nathan when she was able to pull him aside for what, for them, was a private father/daughter chat. "Look at her! She's all over him! How can you let her get away with that?"

"We never said no to girlfriends," Nathan replied. "I was married, remember?"

"That's different!" Claire said. She didn't know how but neither did she care. There were more important issues at stake. "We don't know who she is! What if she's with the Company? What, Peter just so happened to get found by some girl with boobs and an accent and a lack of freakage over his superpowers?"

"Let's get to know her first," Nathan said. "Peter likes her. We should respect that."

"Just once it wouldn't kill you to go back to being the jerk you were when we first met," Claire told him. "The old you would've never put up with this."

"The old me wouldn't have done a lot of things," Nathan said, and left it at that.

***

Caitlin told them all about how she and Peter had met. It had drama (mysterious man with powers), pain (dead brother which, okay, that did suck), horror (apocalyptic plague-ridden future), and excitement (Peter finding her again, when he thought she'd been lost in the last time-jump). Caitlin told it all animatedly, her hands dancing in the air as she gestured, her eyes sparkling as she laughed and mimicked Peter's attempts to use his powers again.

Peter laughed with her. Between the both of them were all the details, mutual finishing of sentences, smiles, and in-jokes.

Claire really, really hated her.

***

Caitlin stayed and kept staying. Days became weeks and she was still there. Ever smiling, ever cute, and so friendly and thoughtful that Claire longed for rain just so she'd have mud that she could shove Caitlin into.

Nathan had been different. He was Peter's brother, he was a guy. Claire could understand why a girlfriend couldn't be a threat in that situation. But Caitlin? She was female, closer to Peter's age, and - oh yeah - not related.

This blew.

Claire tried to be happy for Peter. She wanted Peter to be happy so that got her halfway there, right? And it wasn't as though Claire's other feelings for Peter had resulted in anything but heartache and a mixed collection of VC Andrews novels that Claire bought via the method of snatching them off of the drug store shelves, burying them in the comparatively less embarrassing pile of tampon boxes and pore-cleansing face masks, and then hiding them in her room where she never ever touched them again. (Partially because the idea of a romance novel that validated her feelings for Peter gave Claire that tight ache in her stomach, partially because the writing kinda sucked.)

So Claire resolved to treat Caitlin with an open heart and mind. She'd try to view Caitlin the way that Peter did, and from then perhaps learn to love her and welcome her into the fold.

Claire got as far as hearing "Maybe someday I can be lucky and have a niece like you." before deciding that she was going to spit into Caitlin's drink.

***

It turned out that TV, amongst other things, totally lied. Because on TV pretty much anybody could spit into a drink for the heck of it. In reality Claire discovered that the end result was this floating blob of bubbles on top of an otherwise perfect glass of red wine. Caitlin might be many things - presumptuous, intrusive, slutty, probably faking that accent - but stupid wasn't one of them. Well, not that stupid.

One option was throwing the wine out and getting another glass. But, in a broad way, that would've meant doing something nice for Caitlin and Claire was just not having it. So she hid out in the kitchen with a tiny red straw she'd snatched off the bar and stirred and stirred in the vague hopes that it would help.

Nathan came into the kitchen. He saw Claire and quirked his eyebrows upward, silently asking if he wanted to know what she was doing.

"It's not fair," Claire said. This was nothing like the ongoing litany of Hate her, hate her, hate her... that had been going through Claire's head, but it was true all the same.

Nathan found a stool and dragged it over so he could sit across from her on the other side of the stainless steel island. "I told Heidi," he said.

Claire's hand slowed as she tried to make the connection. Finally the name clicked. "Your wife?"

"I told her everything," Nathan said, by way of confirmation. He loosened his tie. "About my powers, about what put me in the hospital, about Peter - I just couldn't lie anymore, you know?"

Claire nodded. Yeah, she knew.

"'course she ran off," Nathan said. He gave a wry shrug. "Took the kids. Won't speak to me. Can't say I blame her. Still. I'm tired of secrets. They're not good for any of us."

"No kidding," Claire said, thinking of all the secrets that had been kept because of her and her powers. "Not that I'm not enjoying getting to know my bio-dad, but - "

"But," Nathan agreed. He folded his arms and leaned against the counter. "Peter started it."

"Secrets?" Claire guessed, then immediately knew she was wrong. "Oh."

"I knew what I felt," Nathan said. "But I also knew why I could never do anything about it. He's my brother, he's younger, he'd do anything for me so I've got no right to take advantage of that - " Nathan made a circular gesture in the air, indicating yadda yadda. "I told myself it would never happen. I wouldn't let it happen."

"Peter didn't get the memo?" Claire pushed the wineglass aside, giving Nathan her full attention.

"Wasn't even on that page," Nathan said. "Which - and I'll spare you the details - but suffice it to say he made it real clear what he thought about the subject. It made it hard to deny how I felt after that."

"Must've been nice," Claire said, not a little wistful.

"It was." Nathan stood up. He reached for the wineglass. "Caitlin's, right?"

Claire tried to take it back. "Yeah, but I - "

"I got it," Nathan said. He gave Claire a wink as he left.

***

Claire followed a moment after. She hid behind the door to the dining room, opening it just enough so she could see as Nathan handed Caitlin the wineglass and hear as he said "So, tell me about your family."

It was then, as Claire watched Caitlin obliviously put the glass aside so she could talk about her relatives and how she cared for them, that Claire got it.

She waited until she saw Peter excuse himself then went to intercept him in the hall.

***

"Okay, so," Claire said as she dragged Peter into Nathan's study. Easy part done: get Peter alone, get the door closed behind them. Check and Check. Now came the talking. "Um...."

"Are you okay?" Peter asked. He reached out to touch her forehead, like he was going to check for a fever.

Claire took his hand before he could make contact. She then held on since hey: Peter's hand. Being held by her. This was good. "We need to talk."

"I'm all ears," Peter assured her.

"Right. Yeah. So - " God, there were so many things she could've inherited from her biological father and his way with words was apparently none of them. "So - I know. About you. And Nathan."

"Right, we talked about that," Peter said. He gave Claire's hand a squeeze, the gesture one of comfort and therefore something Peter did as easily as breathing. "Did something go wrong? Are you okay?"

"I am," Claire said. "I am okay. More than okay. Because I get it. I get how he's family and you love him to the point where if he's not around it's just wrong. Like - like you're connected, and you feel like nothing should ever come between you. Not fights or distance or - or what people might say."

Peter's face was filled with concern. Still holding Claire's hand, he reached for her with his other so that he could cup her cheek. "Claire," he said, softly, "are you sure you're all right?"

Claire's face felt hot and flushed and damn it she was not going to cry. She was being strong now. The whole point would be ruined if she burst into tears. "See, I get it because I am it. Have it. For you."

Peter's brows furrowed. "What are you talking about?"

"Oh for - " It was so absurd at that point that Claire had to laugh. "God! Read my mind already! I'm in love with you! What else could I possibly be talking about? I love you and I want to be with you."

Peter was going to say more. Something gentlemanly and kind and above all stupid so Claire railroaded right over that and kept on talking.

"Caitlin's nice, okay?" Claire could say that now that she knew why Caitlin wouldn't be the winner. "But she doesn't get it. She doesn't love you like I do and she'll never understand how you feel about Nathan and damn it you're my hero, not hers!"

Peter's mouth quirked in a smile. "Oh really?"

"Yes, really!" Just because the words were stupid and Claire was blushing a blotchy, beet red didn't mean she was going to deny them.

"I honestly didn't know," Peter said.

"That's because you're an idiot," Claire told him. Then, because she could, she added, "Nathan agrees with me."

"Guess I am," Peter said. He was closer now, much, much closer.

Claire wanted to say something, or maybe just giggle out of relief and nerves. But Peter was near and all it took was a slight turn of her head for closeness to become a kiss. She kissed Peter in a way that she hoped showed that she knew what she was talking about even if she didn't have much experience to back it up. Peter kissed her in a way that was soft, and wet, and unhurried. The hot-tight feeling in her stomach became relaxed and warmer, sinking deep into her belly and turning from a fear of getting caught to a fear that this might stop.

Then Peter murmured, "I love you too, Claire." and she knew that as screwed up as it all was, it was going to be okay.
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