Grounded

Participants:

angela_icon.gif claire_icon.gif matt_icon.gif

Scene Title Grounded
Synopsis The Homeland Security Agent releases his newly-registered detainee to her grandmother's custody.
Date September 23, 2008

Petrelli Mansion, Upper West Side


If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.

And this time, there's no room for letting it be done wrong to begin with. Normally, the transfer of a detainee into the custody of a family member would be done by some low-ranking Homeland Security officer, but seeing how this is Claire Bennet and she's being delivered to Angela Petrelli, Matt Parkman has decided to do the deed himself. It's late when his sleek black sedan pulls up in front of the Petrelli mansion, but it isn't too late for their presence to be considered rude. Besides, the longer Claire sat in that cell, the worse the agency looked.

Straightening his suit jacket and overcoat as he steps out of his side of the car, keys in hand, Parkman walks around to the other door to let out Claire and guide her to the door with his hand firmly around her upper arm. In reality, he's being as gentle as he can afford to be. The bell is rung, and Parkman waits with a patient, idle smile on his features.

After all, of all the hands to place Claire in, the Petrelli matron's are certainly the most capable.

Dressed in the same red outfit she was captured in, Claire's led up to the door by Parkman's insistent hand on her arm. "I'm not exactly going to run, you know. You can let me go." She stares at the entrance to the house, lips pursed tightly. This was the last place she expected to be, but at least it isn't locked away in a cell. Locked away in her nightmares. With her free hand, she shakes out her brown hair restlessly.

But Parkman knows better. "You may not run, but I know two people who'd snap you up in an instant as soon as I wasn't able to keep you grounded." Claire may be easy to fly around with, but add a slightly overweight middle-aged man to the mix, and you've got trouble. "You know," he continues, shrugging his shoulders somewhat innocently, "most of you guys wouldn't be much of a problem. I mean, if you registered. Pretty harmless, if you think about it. Just like putting the fact you wear glasses on your driver's license, or that you want to donate your organs." A thought strikes him. "You ever thought of doing that?"

"We shouldn't have to register," Claire spits out bitterly. "It's nobody's business what we can or can't do." She then stares at Parkman incredulously. "Donate my organs? I'm pretty sure I still need those." Sure, she can grow back a toe, but would she regrow a liver? A heart?

Claire is asking the right questions, and with any luck the woman on the other side of the door can answer them. The lock turns, and a moment later Angela Petrelli is standing on the mansion's threshold. For once, she's dressed in casual attire — dark gray sweat pants and a long-sleeved t-shirt with the words "McGill University" printed on its front — and wears her hair not up, but down. "I was wondering when you'd get here," she murmurs, her gaze shifting from Matt to Claire and then back again. "Nobody from the facility followed you, I hope?"

"It's just a thought," Parkman replies as he looks at Claire, eyes slightly narrowed. "Besides, think of how many lives you could save." Assuming it worked, that is. But then the door is open, and Parkman is looking at the girl's grandmother. "No ma'am." But that doesn't mean they didn't know where they were going. That it isn't 'on the books' as one might say.

When the door opens and Claire lays eyes on her biological grandmother, her composure cracks. She wrenches her arm free of Matt's grasp and rushes forward to throw her arms around Angela tightly, sobbing uncontrollably. A likely unexpected greeting from the girl who ran away in Paris.

Angela is taken aback. So taken aback, in fact, that she narrowly avoids tumbling to the tile floor underfoot when Claire collides with her. Only by reaching out and seizing the doorframe does she manage to right herself — and Claire — just before the teen offsets her balance to the point of no return. Her other arm drapes around Claire's shoulder, the palm of her hand pressed flat against the small of her back. This is the sort of thing she expects from little Simon and Monty — not a girl who's almost twenty.

It's such an odd display that Parkman tilts his head and squints as he looks at Claire and Angela, turning up the 'volume' of nearby thoughts in order to better hear what is going on in the family members heads. He had no idea that the two women were this close, given politics and whatnot.

Claire teeters for a moment, but stays upright thanks to Angela. I never thought I would actually be afraid to lose her. But I can't stop crying. Dammit, of all the people to lose it in front of. She's never going to let me live this down. She's never going to even let me out of her sight again, is she? She eases her grip just a touch, turning more into a hug than a crushing embrace.

"Thank you, Agent Parkman," Angela says, lifting her chin just enough to peer at Matt over Claire's shoulder, "for returning my granddaughter to me." But if what Bishop has told me is true, then perhaps she was safer in his care than she will be in mine. I don't suppose you've made any progress tracking //him down?//

"You're welcome," Parkman replies, his own words almost mumbled, his focus being on the words left unsaid. Not yet. We've been thinking that Claire's…friends would be a resource when it comes to that, but she hasn't been that cooperative. We, of course, not being Homeland and the Company, but Parkman and Homeland.

"I can have a car keep an eye on your place, if you'd like." Is Parkman being legitimately concerned with the White Elephant on the doorstep, or is he just buying time and masking his unspoken conversation with the Company Founder?

If Claire's aware of the non-verbal conversation, she makes no indication of it. When Matt makes the suggestion of sending a car around, however, she shakes her head against Angela's shoulder as imperceptibly as she can manage. This is, of course, ruined by the fact that she's thinking much too loud. Don't let him do it. Please keep him away from me. Keep them away.

"I would appreciate that." Let me know if there are any further developments, and tell Bishop that I'll be by some time this week to check in on my son. The hand on Claire's back drifts up to her hair and, gently, Angela brushes the bangs from her eyes. "Let's get you inside. You can sleep in Peter's old room for tonight."

Parkman nods, then turns to go. "Not a problem, Ma'am," is his all-encompassing answer. He's down the steps before he turns for a moment.

She had a bad dream when she was with us. Might still be jittery from it. There is a pause, then Parkman adds with narrowed eyes. She said it was me. But if a mental voice can have a tone, Parkman's is one of determined innocence.

It's a lot to say, but Parkman's pause at the bottom of the steps is only a glance before he continues on to his car. In another few seconds, he's in and pulling away, already on the phone to arrange a team to keep watch on the Petrelli's estate.

Claire sniffles miserably and then pulls away to step inside the house. Anything to give distance between herself and Parkman. "I wish you would have told him no," she confesses after the door's closed. "You don't understand…"

"I do understand." Angela punctuates her statement with the click of the lock. "More than you could ever hope to. Now go upstairs and get ready for bed. We can discuss the situation in the morning, when we've both had an opportunity to sleep on everything that's happened."

Claire hesitates before stepping forward to hug Angela properly again. "It's really good to see you again," she whispers. And she means it, too. "I'm so sorry." Maybe not for running away, but for what she's put the woman through.

"Upstairs," Angela repeats, her voice firmer, colder than it was a few moments ago. Claire's apology is neither accepted nor denied, but it's probably a safe bet the teenager will discover the extent of her grandmother's anger come daybreak. Right now she's too tired, too emotionally drained to handle her either way.

It's like she's thirteen again. Claire nods weakly when Angela makes a second announcement of the girl's banishment and she heads for the staircase quickly, in decidedly low spirits.


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September 23rd: The Right Fit
Previously in this storyline…
Into the Dark

Next in this storyline…
Pizza and Plotting

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September 23rd: Scission
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