Divide the Light from the Dark

Participants:

arthur1_icon.gif claire_icon.gif goodman_icon.gif maury_icon.gif

Scene Title Divide the Light from the Dark
Synopsis Claire finds herself faced with the terrible secret that is Arthur Petrelli.
Date March 25, 2009

Outside the Orchid Lounge


In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

A light rain drizzles down from dark clouds that refuse to part way overhead. Dark towers of stone, steel and glass reflect each other's studded lights that shine out into the haze of falling raindrops. Concrete is slicked underfoot, and the red glow of tail lights creates a sea of crimson that flows up one side of the street, bordered by a line of white headlights down another. The upper east side feels both close to and miles away from the ruins of Midtown, all at once.

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep.

High up, the towering skyscrapers glitter with slowly pulsing red lights, the glow of windows, and the amber haze in the distance from billions of watts of power coursing just beneath the streets. The lower one looks though, the less pristine this neighborhood becomes. Graffiti becomes more and more prevalent, structural damage from arsons, windows shattered from food riots, and down some streets sandbag barricades still mark where the handful of National Guard blockades on traffic linger.

And the Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters.

Here, amidst the falling rain and urban decay, with her face reflected in shattered storefront windows, with her eyes able to focus beyond the lights of the city to where the dark never rises, to the black pit of Midtown where no illumination remains, Claire Bennet departs from her meeting with an old friend. The Orchid Lounge, now two blocks away, is cast to memory, and her primary concerns become staying dry and warm, to spite the rain.

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

That sea of white headlights divides, parting way for a single black vehicle that rolls along wet pavement as the rain continues to pick up. The car is an old black relic, with fins on the back and chromed trim. Windows tinted and hubcaps shining and spoked, tires of an old white-wall fashion coming to a squeaking stop as it pulls up to the sidewalk alongside the former cheerleader.

And God saw the light, that it was good…

The moment's hesitation as the car pulls up, affords Claire the sound of the rear driver's side window rolling down, to reveal a thin man possessed of chocolate brown complexion and deeply sunken eyes. His lips are downturned into a frown, black eyes settled on her slight frame. "Miss Bennet," civility reigns in his tone of voice. No man could ever say that Roger Goodman was a rude man, despite everything in his life that spits in the eye of his cultured nature.

…and God divided the light from the darkness.

"…may I have a moment of your time?"

"Sorry," Claire murmurs without turning her head - she can see the reflection of the car in the window beside her, "my mother taught me never to talk to strangers." Black car, tinted windows. Never a good sign, no matter which agency the vehicle hails from. Just a few more feet, and there's an alleyway she can duck into. Then she can double-back to the Orchid Lounge. Even if she's not hiding there, she might be able to find safe haven.

The door to the car clicks open, followed by the popping of an umbrella springing open. The sheer black nylon creates an umbral shroud to keep the rain off of the tall and rail-thin man that rises up from the vehicle. "Meredith was a good woman, I had the fortune of meeting her once when she was still with the Company." Hard-soled shoes click on the sidewalk only for two steps. But it is the brief violet flash behind Claire, and the immediately following violet flash from the alley she moves to duck down that shows the man pursuing her is more than merely persistent.

Standing now in the mouth of the alley, Roger Goodman's dark eyes settle on Claire, as he holds out the umbrella towards her. "It's funny that you bring up family, Claire. I have to talk to you about just that…" His head tilts to the side imperceptibly, "I need your help, to save Peter Petrelli… and to save the world."

It's been a long time since she heard that.

Claire stops in her tracks when she sees the flash in front of her. Son of a— "Give me one good reason to trust you." She really wanted to say 'go to hell,' but that seems a little overkill even to her. For now. She makes no move to step closer to or further from Goodman. She'll listen, for now.

There's a bit of a sigh, and Goodman shakes his head, taking a few slow steps towards Claire. "You and I both know that's just an excuse, nothing I say will completely earn your trust. It's best if you speak to the man who can, because right now, he's worried about his son…" Dark brows furrow together, "and you are — at the present — the only person who can help him save Peter, and Miss Dean and Mister Kuhr." A too-white smile creeps up across Roger's lips, and once more he offers out the shelter of the umbrella.

It's ironic in its symbolism.

"If my intention was kidnapping you, I wouldn't have come alone, without weapons." His free hand is held out openly, "You know how the Company operates. And while I am of their employ…" one darkly-clad shoulder rolls, "I am what I like to call a free thinker."

"No. I'm fairly certain that that is your intention." Claire steps away from the Company man. "Who are you?" Nobobody in the Company is a free thinker. Noah Bennet claimed to have his own agenda, but in the end he was still only furthering Company goals. That's all they ever do, personal ambitions aside.

"Roger Goodman, former director of the Chicago, Illinois branch of Primatech." His dark eyes flick up and down Claire as she backs away, mildly amused by the pedestrial movements. "Current Assistant-Director of the New York branch under Director Sabra Dalton." The umbrella is drawn back some, to keep the rain from pelting his back and part of his shoulders as it had.

"However, that is not my only hat I wear. You… could say I am a man of many hats. I work for a biological research company called Pinehearst…" Roger takes a few steps forward, finally, matching Claire's pace. "The man at the head of this organization, Arthur Petrelli, has been looking for you since the time of the bomb, he desperately needs your help to secure his son Peter from the Moab Federal Penitentiary, where your young friend Helena Dean is being imprisoned, alongside your former compatrior Julian Kuhr."

Well informed, and handling himself with the serpent's grace of an Adder, Goodman stops well out of arm's reach of Claire, offering her space under his umbrella once more from the drizzling rain. "You are the only one who can help Arthur save his son, and save your friends. I am not your enemy, Claire, no matter what appearance may seem to indicate."

Roger Goodman. She read that name just recently. And it was not in a good context. Fight or flight, Claire? "He needs my help to save Peter," she repeats. "In what way? I'm…" Just a cheerleader runs through her mind. "Peter doesn't want to be rescued," she settles on. Internally, Claire is flip-flopping more than a politician in an election year. Should she run or should she give up?

"What Peter wants and what he needs to do are two wholly different things. His inveterate state of wishy-washy behavior will come to an end eventually, but his father will not let him simply rot in a prison cell for the remainder of his life, for a crime his mother forced upon him." Watching Claire carefully, Roger's dark eyes do not move from her slight form. His stare is predatory, almost wolfish in the way he watches the subtle tension of muscle and the stiffness of her spine.

"You, Claire, have a singularly unique gift which is the crux of all of this." Droplets of water fall from the brim of his dark umbrella, disappearing in the dark of night once they fall and cease catching the light of the street lamp overhead. "You don't even know just how special you are, what we did to insure your protection. But…" His free hand motions ephemerally to the air alone, "This can all be discussed, Arthur can tell you himself. He's been waiting for you for a very, very long time."

"Then tell him to come down from his tower and approach me himself." Claire scowls. The phone is retrieved from her front pocket, her movements slow so as not to indicate she's going for a weapon. "A text from my roommate," she explains absently. "Taking longer than I said I would. Let me just send a note back or they're likely to start calling everyone under the sun." Green-blue eyes flit up to regard Assistant-Director Goodman. "We wouldn't want that, would we?" Fingers work over the keys deftly, barely having to look as she taps in the message.

"Arthur is in no position to go anywhere, which is exactly why you are needed, Claire." Roger's eyes narrow as he looks to the phone, "Be careful what you say, Claire. The wrong information reaching the wrong people could very well have unintended consequences that could harm people close to you. The Company, Nathan, Angela…" His hand grips the umbrella closely. "I cannot stand here all day and discuss this with you, time is very much of the essence."

Watching Claire carefully, Roger eyes the phone, then her again. "Will you come with me, or not? Ultimately the choice is yours to make, but think soundly on your reasons as to why you make the decision."

Claire lifts her eyes from the phone, narrowed slits. "Did you just threaten my family?" Bad idea. Claire puts the phone away - but not before she's sent her message to whomever. Perhaps surprisingly, her next move is to stalk over to the car, grab the handle and yank open the door. She looks over her shoulder, past the hood that's just a bit too damp to be completely keeping her hair dry now. "Coming?"

Shaking his head, Roger remains quiet on his way towards the car, "No, Claire… they are the ones who would be a danger to you. You don't have any idea just how dangerous Angela Petrelli truly is, but I have a feeling," he moves to stand beside the door after Claire gets in, watching her cautiously, "that Arthur will tell you in no small terms just how dangerous she really is."

Instead of getting inside, Roger closes the door and leaves Claire in the car on her own, though the driver up front sees fit to roll down the window partially, allowing Roger to lean in and give parting words. "This is where you and I part ways, Claire. I'm glad you came to the decision you did…"

The window slowly begins to roll up, and the driver remains wordless even as the car is pulled away from the sidewalk and back into traffic. It's the tinted windows that blacken out the streets that mute the violet flash that accompanies Roger Goodman's departure from the sidewalk.

There's no need to crowd her any more than she already is.


Pinehearst Headquarters

Fort Lee, New Jersey


The ride out of the city gives Claire time to think about the decision she made. The abject silence in the car is kept company only by the sounds of rain pattering on the roof and the rythmic sound of the windshield wipers brushing against glass. Nearly a half an hour drive due to traffic congestion, the trip comes to an end through two security checkpoints as the car winds through a rural park where the research facility is located.

Surrounded by trees and grassy hills, the Pinehearst Building looks like a welcome beacon of light in the forested gloom. The car pulls along a paved driveway up front of the main facility entrance, beneath a covered awning supported by thin columns that lead to a small sitting area situated around the glowing double-helix logo of the Pinehearst Company.

The door to Claire's right unlocks, and while the driver says nothin, it is the man who greets Claire at the facility who says everything necessary, "Good Evening, Miss Bennet." Holding the door open, the thick man in a chocolate brown suit looks for all his worth to be an overweight and unassuming old man. His thick fingers grip the top of the door lightly, head ducked down to look inside the car. "My name's Maury, why don't you come on out and I can show you inside." There's a brief pause, followed by a weak smile, "It's really good to see you again…"

Again?

"Again?" Oh, this is bad. Claire for a moment wants to shrink back. The next she wants to lash out with both legs and kick the man square in that tubby stomach of his. But instead, she asks herself, What Would Angela Petrelli Do? The answer to this is, quite obviously to her, step out of the car, hold your head high, and be observant. Wait for your chance, Claire. Peter would blow something up, but Peter can do that sort of thing. It must be nice to be Peter Petrelli sometimes.

Claire Bennet rises from the vehicle and pulls her hood back, untucking her hair from the back of her sweatshirt before shaking it out. "Forgive me. I'm bad with names and faces. Where did we meet before, Maury?"

"Oh, that wasn't very polite of me was it," he closes the door with a soft click, moving to walk beside Claire as he escorts her towards the front doors of the glass-faced building. "I used to work with your father — your adoptive one — at the Company. I remember when you were just," he motions one hand towards the ground, a smile creeping up on his face. "Oh, you know, just a little thing. I heard about the day that you were given to him, when we thought we'd lost poor Meredith…"

Moving along the walkway, Maury tucks his hands into his pockets, a thoughtful expression crossing his face. "You know, I think it's funny how everything in this world works out. How someone like you — this little miracle girl — gets born and has such a tragic upbringing. Now, how it's all come full circle… it's like a beginning and an end all rolled into one." Withdrawing a hand from his pocket, Maury swipes at ID card at the door, eliciting the glow of a green light and the front, glass doors clicking open.

"You look a lot like your mom, you know," Maury steps back, pulling the door open as he watches Claire with a weak and awkward smile. "Though, the dark hair?" He motions with his nose towards her, "I don't know if it suits you." He's treating her like some long-removed uncle more than a representative of whatever this company is.

Company man. Company men every freakin' where Claire seems to go. Should've known. "I'd like to think my story is far from over." At least, it had better be. Or else what has she been fighting for? Sure, she wants to secure a better future for generations yet to come, but she's not so selfless to not want change to come about in her lifetime. "Thank you," she says in response to resembling Meredith. Though she's quick to defend her dark locks, holding one between thumb and forefinger. "I guess I'm just typical offspring. Don't want to look too much like my mother just yet." Conversation is kept light and… conversational. It's all just a front, though. It's always just a front.

"Most ladies would kill to have her looks," Maury notes with a crooked, if not slightly lecherous grin. Leading Claire inside, Maury walks past the empty front desk and towards elevators that line the far wall. Though he's grown more quiet than his talkative introduction, the old man does little to hide the fact that he's watching Claire like a hawk.

Swiping his card one more time, Maury opens what looks to be an elevator reserved for special-use only, letting Claire move in before following her inside. One of the basement buttons is depressed, and as the doors close, Maury's eyes settle on the young woman again. "Arthur's been waiting to see you for such a long time, Claire. He lost track of you when… when midtown was destroyed. It's taken so long to get a hold of you, especially after everything that happened to PARIAH." As the elevator descends, Maury watches Claire with an inspecting expression, much in the way Goodman was, as if looking for something.

"If he was so concerned about me, why didn't he approach me before?" Two years is a long damn time to wait. Part of Claire is still skeptical as to whether this man she's supposed to meet is really Arthur Petrelli. It couldn't be, could it? It just… doesn't make sense. "I don't really understand why all this fuss had to happen. Couldn't he just call or write like a normal person?"

"I— " Maury winces at Claire's question, "It's complicated, and it's not really my place to explain. Arthur has a problem, one that he needs your help to fix, which is preventing him from doing much of anything as of late." The elevator stops on those words, doors sliding open to reveal an empty, white-painted hall with pale fluorescent lights recessed into the ceiling. Wordlessly, Maury nods to the hall, and steps out of the elevator.

Claire is led past several medical examination rooms, most of the lights off save for the main hall itself. It lends a somewhat haunting quality to the underground corridors. With Maury's shoes clicking on the tile floor, he brings Claire to one nondescript door, behind which the beeping of a heart-rate monitor sounds off with muted pitch.

With nothing said, Maury just pushes the door open, revealing the presence of a large, four-post bed situated in the middle of a hospital room. An IV stand, a respirator pump, all manner of machines keeping a weathered old man alive. It's the tube running into his throat, and the motionless way he rests in the bed that is clearly indicative of exactly his complicated situation.

Arthur Petrelli is a harmless old man on death's door.

For all the eerie quality of the building around her, Claire finds herself unperturbed by the empty rooms. Lack of activity can only be a good thing in this situation. A full house would be less than ideal. She isn't sure what she'll do with this knowledge that there are several empty rooms, but it's filed away. He looks so much older and more fragile laying on the bed than in the photographs she's seen in Peter's apartment, on Nathan's desk and in Angela's home, but there's no mistaking it.

This man is Arthur Petrelli.

"This is my grandfather?" Claire's brows knit together in equal parts concern and apprehension. She approaches the bed slowly, staying out of arm's reach. "I thought he was… dead. Everyone did." Though her question's directed at Maury, Claire's eyes are on Arthur and the equipment keeping him alive. "Why doesn't anybody know? His family would be thrilled." Peter and Nathan would be, she imagines. Angela seems to take on a more lukewarm tone when recounting stories of Arthur's part in when the Petrelli family was whole.

"Thrilled." Maury notes with a sarcastic tone, quietly closing the door as he walks to the foot of the bed. "Angela Petrelli had Arthur killed. She and a man called the Haitian that worked for your father at the Company, conspired with Daniel Linderman to have Arthur killed. They poisoned him, and the Haitian negated Arthur's power — prevented him from fighting back."

Resting his hand on the foot of the bed, Maury looks from Arthur to Claire. "She took a father away from his sons, split a family, and used the rift that loss created to maneuver Peter into destroying Manhattan so she could place her favorite son, your father, as President. She and Daniel had this plan for years, Peter's whole life was… orchestrated for that moment."

Maury's eyes turn to Arthur now, "When some of us — the founders of the Company — found out about this, we turned on her and went into hiding. Arthur was a casualty of this, and he was barely able to cover up his death by use of the few abilities he has that only require conscious thought." Abilities. It seems the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

"This is why he hasn't been able to do anything, this is why he wanted to get you away from Angela. This, Claire, is why he needs you…" Watching the young woman for a moment, Maury tilts his head to the side. "Someone once said, save the cheerleader, save the world." Echoed at her after so many years, it's hard to imagine there was a time when she was so naive. "Arthur is like Peter, he takes the powers of others," such subtle truth in Maury's deception. "He needs your healing ability, to repair the damage done to him… to be able to help people again. Because Arthur is the only man capable of bringing down the Company, and saving this world from the future your father and Grandmother helped make."

She listens. Claire listens and she… she isn't sure she doubts any of it. But she does know one thing, Angela Petrelli loves both of her sons. She may not be the best at showing it, but Peter is more than just an instrument for the destruction caused two years ago. He has to be. She's seen Angela smile at her. She smiled when Claire told her Peter was alive. There was a light in her eyes that was too genuine. Could she be capable of murdering her husband? With good reason, Claire assures herself. "What if I don't want to do this right now? What if I want some time to think?" She sends a pleading look toward Maury, "This is a big deal. I…" She sort of teeters backward before stumbling two steps in that direction, a hand on her head. "I need some air."

"We've waited too long as it is. Right now, the Company is learning of Roger Goodman's intentions to pull a fast one on them and attempt to expose them to the public. Any day now they could find out about Arthur, here, and there's only so much I can do to protect him from them." Maury steps from the footboard towards Claire, watching her carefully.

"Please, Claire… think of Peter." And as he says those words, there's an impulse in the young girl's mind. He's been more than pliable with her, but right now he feels that she needs to be more pliable to him. And it's with that thought, that a seed is planted in Claire's mind, a deep-rooted psychic urge that seems so much like her own thoughts.

Maybe I should go hold his hand, and comfort the poor, old man.

The respirator clicks and hisses, in tune with the heart-rate monitor's beeping.

Arthur's mechanical symphony.

He looks so pathetic laying there like that. Lonely. After a few deep breaths, bracing a hand against the wall as she seems to recover her sense of balance, Claire approaches the bed. Slowly. "Do you think he can hear us?" Surely all family members ask that question as they look down on a loved one in a coma. He's not exactly a loved one to Claire, but he's family. Maybe… Maybe there's some truth to what Maury's saying.

Green-blue flits up to regard flashing green making patterns of peaks and valleys. Each rise accompanied by a beep, orchestrating with the punctuation of each breath, the sound of a click. Claire reaches for the man's hand.

The monotonous autonomous chorus rises to its triumphant crescendo.

I can, Claire.

His hand reaches up in a sudden jerk for hers, as if that small motion was a monumental effort on Arthur's part. There is a sudden and immediate reaction upon Arthur having touched Claire's hand. Her skin reddens and a light flashes across her body. Almost instantly she can see bruises on Arthur's forehead that Molly had inflicted on him healing slowly, bruising folding in on itself like ink being leeched out of cloth.

Then, comes the sharp pain. It's a funny feeling, like a bandaid being pulled off too quickly, magnified tenfold. As Arthur sits up in the bed, the machines begin to beep and chime erratically as tubes snap and pop out from his body. One hand rises, ripping the breathing tube out of his throat with a wet suction sound.

The tube strikes the bed, and Arthur begins to rise up, his hand firmly around Claire's wrist. "I'm sorry, Claire. But I don't have any other choice." His voice is strong, just as the one in Claire's mind was, given a sandpapery texture on the edges. And as the prolonged physical contact continues, there is a sudden rush of light that surges out from the young woman's body, a bright reddish-pink glow that suffuses Arthur and floods him with a brilliant radiance that is slow to fade.

Immediately, Claire begins to feel tired, her muscles fatigued, her body aching from sore joints. Finally, when Arthur's hand lets go of her wrist, and he looms over her, eyes focused down on the young girl, he breathes in a slow breath through his nose, watching as Claire slouches against one wall, sliding down with her back pressed up against it.

"Maury," Arthur states in a firm tone of voice, his free hand moving to gently guide Claire down with a brush of telekinesis, ensuring that she doesn't fall and injure herself. "You've done well."

Claire cries out first from the surprise of the sudden motion from the invalid man, and again as the pain begins. She tries in vain to pry her wrist free from his grip, clawing at the skin of his hand with her free one only to watch as the scratches heal up just as the bruises on his face and the hole in his neck. "No!"

Fatigue. Claire can't remember the last time she's felt like this except after a long and active day - this has not been one. Her knees feel weak and they buckle under her weight. Staggering backward, she finds the wall. And the floor, with Arthur's help. From her crumpled heap, she stares up at her grandfather. "What have you done to me? Why?"

A red light surges up and down Arthur, a diffuse glow of ambient energy that had been robbed from Claire, "You were entrusted with something very special, Claire. I needed the catalyst, and your ability, in order to assure that the world is made a better place." He turns to the young woman, even as Maury approaches from across the lab, draping a long wool jacket over arthur's shoulders to give him some more semblance of dignity than hospital attire can afford him, "and I promise you, once I'm done if you want that ability of yours back, I will do everything in my power to make sure you get everything you want."

His eyes settle on the brunette, one hand moving up to feel at his throat where the hole from the tube was, "Look on the bright side, Claire. Now you can live a normal life, like a normal woman." A few steps carry him across the floor towards her, fingers still working at the loose skin under his chin, "I'm sorry it had to be like that, but I have to protect you from Angela and Daniel." His eyes narrow, "And now… now they're going to pay for what they did to my son."

Claire's eyes don't waver from Arthur's form. "I don't— I don't want normal." There's no going back to normal for a girl who never was. "Angela's been protecting me. You've got it all wrong." He has to. The whole prospect of this situation - what Arthur is proposing - is frightening.

"Angela has been protecting her own interests, Claire." Perhaps he does not see the pot calling the kettle black, "She manipulated Peter to become a weapon, to destroy this city so that the world would become fearful of our kind. So that her son, a son born without an ability, could come into his own right as President, to fulfill some short-sighted vision of the future distilled from the insane ramblings of Adam Monroe."

Crouching down to bring himself to Claire's level, Arthur realizes how sharp his tone had become, and he offers his hand out to her again. Harmless, after all, the damage has already been dealt, right? "You're my grand-daughter, Claire. All I do, right now, is to protect you and Peter. All I ask is that you trust me… I don't want this to have to be any more difficult than it already is."

Claire shrinks back. The feeling in her muscles - she can feel it to her bones - is alien. It's horrible. "Don't touch me," she pleads. How can she trust him? "You sent someone to drag me off the street. You tricked me." The indestructible cheerleader knows fear.

Breathing in a slow breath, Arthur exhales it as a sigh as he slowly rises to stand up straight. "I did what I had to do, to protect my family." Maury moves to stand by Arthur's side, head tilted at a questioning angle, but Arthur only shoots him a single glare, followed by a stern rebuking, "No, you've done enough. She'll come to on her own or she won't — stay out of her head."

Arthur focuses on Claire again, and while he's looking directly at her, he speaks as though she weren't even in the room any longer. "Lock her up in the room next to Walker, I'll come talk to her in the morning. Right now," he looks over to the bed that had held him confined for too long, robbed him of too much of his life, "I have to pay my dear wife a visit…"


Text message received by Hiro Nakamura on the evening of March 25th
From: The Cheerleader
911 Goodman
Save the Nurse, save the world.


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Previously in this storyline…
The Only One

Next in this storyline…
Thy Will Be Done

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