Thirteen O'Clock Cont'd
Peter didn't know how long they had been kissing - it could have been minutes or hours - when the chirping of Claire's cell phone broke into their cocoon of bliss. They pulled back at the same time, startled by the noise, as well as what they had been doing.
Reluctantly, Claire answered her phone, licking her lips as she did so. "Hello?" she asked, slightly breathless. "Hey, Zach."
Peter reclined against the headboard while Claire got up to talk to the person who had interrupted them. He wasn't sure if he should be angry or grateful for the interruption. He hadn't planned on kissing her. She had to be at least ten years younger than him. It was wrong on so many levels. Only it hadn't felt like that when he'd had her in his arms, her soft lips pressed against his. Instead, she had felt like home. A first kiss had never been so perfect, not even with Simone.
"Not yet," Claire said into the phone. "Tomorrow. No, we're at a hotel. No! Get your mind out of the gutter. As if." She laughed at something Zach said, then rolled her eyes. "You can't be serious. Okay, fine."
Claire turned to Peter, holding out the phone. "Zach wants to talk to you."
"Who's Zach?" Peter asked.
"My friend. The one who had his memory erased," she said.
Peter gulped as he took the pink phone and held it to his ear. "Hello?"
"Can I trust her with you?" Zach said by way of greeting.
Peter's eyes flew to Claire's, wondering if she had known what Zach was going to ask him. Knowing he already couldn't be trusted.
"I would never do anything to hurt Claire," Peter sincerely answered.
"She trusts you," Zach said. "She says that you have some kind of bond. If you do anything to hurt her I will find a way to track you down and make you pay. Understand?"
"Yeah, I understand. It won't be necessary, though," Peter said, feeling ridiculous for being afraid of this teenaged boy he'd never met.
"Good. Now give me back to Claire," Zach insisted.
Peter didn't bother saying goodbye. "He wants to talk to you again."
Claire looked apologetic as she took the phone back. "Are you done protecting me yet? Good. Yeah, I'll call and let you know what happens. Bye, Zach."
Claire hung up the phone and set it aside. She hesitated before resuming her place on Peter's bed. "Sorry about that."
"I thought you didn't have a boyfriend," Peter said, feeling even guiltier.
"Zach isn't my boyfriend. He's just a friend. My best friend," Claire insisted.
"He's very protective of you," Peter observed.
"Sounds like most of the guys in my life," she agreed, looking at him through her eyelashes.
"Look, about that kiss..." Peter started to say, but Claire cut him off.
"Please don't say it was a mistake."
"Claire, you know nothing can happen between us," Peter said.
"Why not?" Claire pouted.
Peter wanted to take that protruding lip between his and nibble on it for hours. He shook himself out of that fantasy.
"For starters, I'm like ten years older than you. Plus, you're a minor..."
"No, I'm not," Claire interrupted. "In Texas, the age of consent is seventeen, which I am."
"Not with someone ten years older than you, I bet," Peter countered. He couldn't allow himself to believe her blindly. He could get in enough trouble for taking her from her home, no need to add a statutory rape charge to that.
"But does that mean we can't kiss?" Claire asked. "It was a really good kiss."
"Yeah, it was," Peter agreed, losing his focus for a minute as Claire licked her lips. He started to lean towards those inviting lips again, but abruptly pulled back. "We shouldn't tempt fate, though."
"I'm gonna get ready for bed," Claire suddenly announced, getting up. Peter watched her dig around in her bag for her night things before she disappeared into the bathroom.
He groaned, flopping back on the bed. He was in for a long night; he just knew it.
Several minutes later, Claire emerged from the bathroom in a tank top and a thin pair of shorts. Peter could see her bra among the items she'd removed and he bit back a groan, trying not to look at her loose breasts beneath her top.
"I'm just going to go..." Peter said, getting up. He grabbed his toiletry bag from his suitcase and edged towards the bathroom.
When Peter emerged from the bathroom in a t-shirt and his boxer shorts, it was to find Claire in 'his' bed.
"Oh, I though you wanted the other one," he commented.
"I changed my mind," Claire said, then lifted the covers in silent invitation for him to join her.
"Um, Claire, we already talked about his," Peter nervously said. He should not be so nervous because of a teenager. Actually, he should be, because she was a teenager.
Claire rolled her eyes. "Nothing has to happen. I just wanted to sleep next to you. That's not illegal, is it?"
"No, no it isn't. I just don't think it's a good idea," Peter said.
"I promise that I won't jump you," Claire told him.
"This is a very bad idea," Peter said to himself as he slid under the covers. Once he was settled, Claire snuggled up against his side.
"See, this isn't so bad," she contently said.
Peter slid his arm around her waist and had to agree, "No, not bad at all."
Peter came to consciousness slowly the next morning. He burrowed his face in the hair in front of him, pulling the warm body he was spooned behind closer. His hand slid under her top, gliding along soft skin to cup a full breast. Unconsciously, he rubbed his morning erection against her.
"Mmm, Peter," his bedmate cooed.
That wasn't Simone's voice. Peter's eyes shot open and all he could see was blonde hair filling his vision. Blonde...Claire! He was molesting Claire in her sleep.
Peter fell out of bed in his haste to get away from her. The sound of his fall woke Claire.
She slowly rolled over to peer at Peter sitting on the floor. Lying on her stomach, she snuggled into the pillow, smiling lazily at him.
"What are you doing down there?" she asked.
Peter was relieved that she didn't seem to remember his hands all over her just a few minutes ago, let along anything else touching her.
"I, uh, misjudged how close I was to the edge of the bed," Peter said, sounding embarrassed. Well, he was embarrassed, just not for the reason he was telling Claire.
Claire shifted over, leaving room for Peter as she lifted the sheet. "Are you coming back to bed?"
Peter glanced at the clock. It was a little after 7am. Normally, he'd crawl back into bed for another hour or so, but his body still remembered holding and touching Claire in ways that he shouldn't know about.
"Actually, I'm kind of awake now. I think I'll just go and shower," Peter said, slowly standing, keeping his hands in front of his groin, hoping she was too sleepy to notice his arousal.
"Okay, I'll stay here 'till you're done, then do the same," Claire said, her eyes drifting closed again.
Peter hastily grabbed a change of clothes and practically ran for the sanctuary of the bathroom. He debated taking a cold shower to rid himself of his little problem, but knew that wouldn't be enough with such a tempting siren on the other side of the door.
Turning the water on to warm, Peter removed his clothes and stepped into the shower. His eyes closed as he took himself in hand, stroking quickly to memories of holding Claire just a little while ago. He surprised himself by just how quickly thoughts of her brought him off.
Once he was able to get his breathing back under control, Peter quickly washed his hair, along with the rest of his body, hoping to wash away his guilt. He couldn't believe he'd just jerked off to thoughts of a seventeen year old high school kid. A very sexy, sweet, alluring high school cheerleader.
When he emerged from the steamy bathroom fully dressed, it was to find Claire sitting up in bed, watching some cartoon on TV.
"Good morning," she chirped, glancing over at Peter.
"Morning," Peter replied. He sat on the opposite bed. "Did you sleep well?"
Claire was blushing faintly as she replied, "Yeah, really well. Better than I have in a long time." She looked at him through her eyelashes, the implication that it was because she slept in his arms very clear.
It made Peter wonder if maybe she hadn't been asleep when he'd been touching her.
"How's the water pressure?" Claire asked, breaking into Peter's thoughts.
"What? Oh, it's good," Peter said.
"Great. There's nothing worse than staying in a hotel with a crappy shower," Claire informed him.
She got up and picked up the small pile of clothes that Peter just notice had been set out at the foot of the bed. Claire started for the bathroom, then spun around as if she'd just remembered something. She quickly crossed to Peter and before he could react, kissed him on the lips before skipping off to the bathroom and shutting the door.
Peter lay back on the bed, his hand over his eyes. He was going to hell - or maybe he was already there.
After gathering up their belongings and checking out, Peter and Claire went in search of breakfast.
"How are you feeling this morning?" Peter asked, enjoying the hot cup of coffee.
Blushing faintly, thinking about their kiss the previous night, Claire answered, "Really good."
"Really?" Peter asked, surprised. "No more nerves about meeting Meredith?"
"Oh," Claire said, realizing what he'd meant. "Oh, um, actually, I'm still kind of nervous about that."
"Then what..." Peter started to question before realizing what she must have been thinking of at first. "I mean, that's understandable."
Claire took a big bite of her omelet and couldn't meet Peter's eyes. It was silly really, being this nervous after one kiss. Okay, so it was a really incredible kiss. The best she'd ever had the pleasure of experiencing, actually.
"Yeah, but I think that I'm ready to see her. Today," Claire admitted.
"Good, that's good," Peter rushed to say. "The trailer park you said she lives in isn't too far from here. We can head over when we're done here."
Claire gulped. "Great."
They finished the meal in relative silence, each lost in their own thoughts.
When they returned to the car, instead of pulling on her seat belt right away, like Peter moved to do, Claire pulled Peter to meet her lips. Peter only resisted for a moment before giving in to her demanding kiss. Why deny himself the pleasure of her kiss when she was so eager to have him kiss her?
"I thought we weren't going to do that again," Peter panted out when they finally parted.
Claire smirked, running her hands through his hair. "For luck."
It didn't take long to find Meredith's home in the trailer park. Claire took Peter's hand in hers as they approached the door, hoping he didn't mind how sweaty her palm was. As much as she loved Sandra Bennet, Claire was about to meet the woman who had given birth to her.
Peter gave her a reassuring squeeze of the hand. Claire looked at him, thanks in her eyes, and she knocked on the door with her free hand.
A blonde woman in her late 30s opened the door. She looks at Claire for a long moment, then asked, "Claire?"
Claire nodded and Meredith stepped out and pulled her into a hug.
"Mom," Claire whispered, hugging Meredith back tightly.
Peter stepped back, keeping a respectful distance as mother and daughter were reunited.
Meredith finally stepped back and noticed Peter for the first time. She wiped tears from her eyes to get a better look at this young man who looked vaguely familiar.
"I'm sorry, where are my manners? Please, come in," she said to both of them.
With a hand at Claire's back, Peter followed her and Meredith into the trailer. Peter and Claire sat on the small couch, while Meredith sat on a chair near Claire after handing out glasses of water.
"Claire, you didn't tell me you had a boyfriend," Meredith said, to break the ice.
"Oh, Peter's not my boyfriend," Claire quickly said, wishing that he was. "He's just a friend. A very good friend."
"Peter, if you don't mind me saying so, you look very familiar. What did you say your last name was?" Meredith asked.
"I'm sorry, I didn't properly introduce myself. It's Petrelli, Peter Petrelli," he said.
Meredith dropped the water glass she was about to take a drink from. "D-did you say Petrelli?" she asked nervously.
Claire frowned at Meredith's reaction. She exchanged a look with Peter, who said, "Yes, Petrelli. Does that mean something to you?"
Meredith swallowed nervously and stood to find a cigarette. She fumbled with a lighter she kept around for when guests were over, turning her back to light it with her fingers instead. She inhaled deeply, letting the tobacco help soothe her nerves.
"I knew a Petrelli once," she admitted, turning back to the pair on the couch. "He was on leave from the Navy, a little over sixteen years ago."
"Nathan," Peter quietly said, the pieces slowly falling in to place. "My older brother, Nathan, he would have been in the Navy around that time." He turned to Claire. "My brother is your father."
"What? But you... and I'm... How is this possible?" Claire babbled, feeling lost with all of this new information. Peter, her Peter, the man she was rapidly falling for, was her uncle? No, it wasn't possible.
"That's right, his name was Nathan," Meredith confirmed. "He swept me off my feet, he did. He just had this confidence about him. Like nothing could get in his way and the world should bow before him. Don't know what he saw in me, but we took a fancy to each other right away. After he found out that I was knock-- was pregnant, he asked me to marry him. He had to go back on duty though before it could happen and then the fire happened, and, well, you know the rest."
"Did you know about this?" Clare asked, her voice hard as she turned on Peter. "When you saved me, did you know we were related?"
"No! God no," Peter said, taking her hands in his. "I never knew anything about this. I was only ten at the time. I hardly ever saw Nathan when I was a kid because he was off at college and then in the Navy. I kinda remember him coming home for a little while around then, and he was really sad, but they never told me why."
Peter felt his stomach twist with guilt and sadness. Sadness that his brother had to go through believing that he'd lost a fiancée and a daughter. And guilt for being sexually attracted to his niece. He thanked God that they hadn't made love the previous night, as much as he had wanted to. The kissing was bad enough, but at least that's all that it had been.
Sitting again, Meredith asked, "If you two didn't know about each other, then how did you meet?"
Claire interrupted Peter before he could tell Meredith about Homecoming. "Wait." She stood and moved to Meredith's kitchen. "Before we tell you that story, there's something you need to see." She grabbed a large knife and before Meredith could finish protesting, she slashed her arm.
"Just wait," she told Meredith, who had moved to stop her. Before she had finished speaking, the wound began to heal. "Please say something."
Meredith took it all in, realizing that Claire was special, like her. Smiling, she held out a fist and when she opened her hand, a ball of fire appeared. She closed her hand to snuff out the flame. "Some family."
Peter had come over during the exchange, to make sure that Meredith didn't react aversely to Claire's healing. Out of curiosity, he opened a fist and a small flame did appear for a moment before going out.
"How did you do that?" Meredith asked in awe. "I've never met anyone else who could produce fire."
"I'm some kind of mimic," Peter admitted. "When I'm around people with abilities, I can do what they do."
"And Nathan, does that mean he can do something too?" Meredith asked, guessing that he could.
"He can fly," Peter told her.
"That doesn't surprise me," Meredith said with a small smile. "He certainly knew how to sweep me off my feet."
"Is that how you survived?" Claire asked, bringing them back to Meredith's ability.
"Yeah," Meredith confirmed. "I didn't start that fire, mind you, but it didn't hurt me. I'm guessing since you can heal, that's how you survived?"
"I guess," Claire said. "I only found out about being able to heal about six months ago, but I suppose that it was there all along."
"Me too," Peter said. "I only started notice things about me and Nathan having abilities about six months ago."
"Is that when y'all met?" Meredith asked.
"No, that was just a few weeks ago," Claire said. "Peter saved me at Homecoming. I was supposed to be the Queen."
"That's wonderful," Meredith said. "Wait; supposed to?"
"There was this man, Sylar," Claire started, then got choked up.
Peter took over the story. "Sylar's been hunting people with abilities. He kills them and somehow takes their abilities. He was after Claire that night."
"But he killed Jackie instead," Claire picked up the narrative again. "She had told the cops that she had saved a man from a fire, when it had really been me. Sylar saw the article about her and thought she was me. He killed her, but before he did she told me to run."
"How did you know to be there?" Meredith asked Peter.
"There's this artist I know in New York, Isaac. He can paint the future. He painted me saving Claire at Homecoming. Oh, and there was this Japanese guy who came to me from the future and told me to Save the Cheerleader to Save the World."
"It's like some kind of comic book come to life," Meredith mused.
'Or a Shakespearean tragedy,' Peter thought, looking at Claire.
"Not that I'm not happy to have you here, but don't you need to be getting back home?" Meredith asked after they had all finished dinner.
Claire guiltily looked over at Peter. "Actually, I kind of ran away from home," Claire nervously admitted.
"What?" Meredith asked in disbelief. "Claire, what happened?"
"It's a long story," Claire said, not wanting to get into it. "The short version is that my dad isn't who I thought he was and I can't stand living with all of his lies anymore."
"And Peter, you're helping her?" Meredith guessed.
"Um, yes," Peter confessed. "Claire called and begged me to come help her and I just couldn't say no."
"Where are you going? Back to New York?" Meredith asked. She debated inviting Claire to stay with her, but she was in no more of a position to be a good mom now than she had been sixteen years ago.
"We hadn't really discussed that yet," Peter admitted. "Isaac had painted us coming here, so that's what we did. Also, Claire told me about you when I got here and she wanted to see you right away."
"I'm so glad that you did. I-is Nathan in New York too?" Meredith asked.
"Yeah, he's running for Congress," Peter said.
"Congress, really?" Meredith's eyes flickered with greed for a moment. "Learning that we're both alive probably wouldn't be a good thing for him right about now, then."
"No, you're probably right," Peter agreed. "Politically, at least. But if the press doesn't find out who Claire is, there's no reason she can't meet him. I bet Nathan would be very happy to learn that the daughter he thought had died is still alive, let alone can't be killed."
"Do you really think he'll want to meet me?" Claire asked in a small voice.
Peter turned his full attention to Claire. Forgetting for a moment that he was her uncle, he ran his fingers through her hair soothingly. "Of course he will. Nathan will probably come off as kind of cold at first, but that's just a mask that he wears for the public. He's a good man, and I know he'll be ecstatic that you're alive."
"Can we... Can we go to New York?" Claire asked, meeting Peter's eyes. "Will you take me to meet my bio-dad?"
"It'll be an honor to introduce you to Nathan," Peter told her, giving her a kiss on the forehead.
"What about you?" Claire asked Meredith.
"What about me?"
"I mean, I just found you and here I am making plans to go off to New York. Will I ever see you again?" Claire asked.
"Hey there, of course we'll still see each other. You've got my phone number; we can talk whenever you want. It's probably just as well that you're going off to New York. I was getting ready to head back to Mexico soon anyway. I've spent a lot of time there over the years and have been feeling drawn back there lately."
"Oh, you're leaving too," Claire said, sounding disappointed. "I guess it's all for the best. Good thing we found you before you left."
"The timing certainly did work out well," Meredith agreed.
Peter silently agreed with the timing. Although, he wished that he'd known Claire was his niece before he'd kissed her. But at least they hadn't done anything more before learning the truth.
Standing, Peter said, "It's getting late; we should go."
"Do we have to?" Claire asked him.
"I don't want us to overstay our welcome. We've all learned an awful lot today and need time to process it all," he said.
"Do y'all have a place to stay for tonight?" Meredith asked, hoping they'd say yes.
Before Claire could admit that they didn't, Peter said, "Yeah, we have a room at the Kermit Inn." He shot Claire a look to silence any contradictions.
"When are you leaving for New York?" Meredith asked.
"I'll call the airlines tomorrow to see if we can get on a flight," Peter said.
"I guess the price of a last minute ticket wouldn't really be an issue for a Petrelli, would it?" Meredith asked.
Peter tried not to be offended by her tone. "No, it's not."
Trying to diffuse the sudden tension, Claire crossed to Meredith to give her a hug. "I'm so glad to have finally met you."
Meredith couldn't help but to return the hug. "You're everything that I'd hoped you'd be. Even more so. You've made me proud, Claire."
Claire had tears in her eyes when she pulled away. "Thank you. I'll be in touch, I promise."
"I look forward to it," Meredith said, ushering Claire and Peter out.
Back in the car, Claire asked, "We're going back to the same motel?"
Peter shrugged. "May as well. It's too late to get a flight out tonight."
"So, um," Claire nervously started, "you're my uncle?"
Peter sighed. "It looks like it." He turned slightly to look at Claire. "I swear to you that I didn't know."
"I believe you. I doubt you would have kissed me if you had," Claire said. "What do we do now?"
"About what?" Peter asked. "Now we know that we're related so we won't do it again."
"I still... I'm still attracted to you," Claire admitted. "I can't help it, but I still want to kiss you."
"We can't," Peter harshly said, tamping down the thrill he felt hearing her say that. "I may still want you too, Claire, but we can't. We have to just forget that it ever happened."
"What if we didn't go to New York?" Claire proposed. "Only you, me and Meredith know right now. If we didn't tell Nathan..."
"No," Peter cut her off. "I can't do that. He's my brother and he deserves to know you're alive. Besides, we'd know. It would still be wrong."
"So that's it? I had the two best kisses of my life with you and you're saying it can never happen again?" Claire pouted.
It tore up Peter's guts to hear her say these things. He wished he could make it untrue. That he could be with her, but it just wasn't in the cards. He was losing a potential lover in order to gain a niece.
"I'm so sorry, Claire, but that's just the way that it has to be," Peter said. "Just think though, you're getting a father out of the deal."
"But I'm losing you," Claire whined.
"No, you're not. I'll be in your life even more now," Peter pointed out.
"But not like how I wanted you to be," Claire said.
"Not like how I wanted either," Peter admitted. "But it's gotta be better than nothing."
"It'll have to be," Claire reluctantly agreed.
"Come on," Peter said, pulling into the motel parking lot. "Let's get settled and I'll tell you all about Nathan."
Sequel: Under Your Ever Watchful Eye
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