Try Some Normal Living


claire4_icon.gif curtis_icon.gif

Scene Title Try Some Normal Living
Synopsis Claire shows Curtis the results of Rupert's meddling in her memories. She asks him for help learning to defend herself like a normal person and he pushes her to try some normal living.
Date March 10, 2011

New York Public Library

She isn't really sure when during that first meeting that Claire Bennet ended up with his number, but she did. There was some staring at it, pondering when he would have done it. A small voice in the back of her head kept telling her not to bother with Curtis. To keep away now that she knew who he was and what she did to him.

Yet, Claire couldn't.

She didn't know why, something had her dialing that number a few weeks later. She told him there was something she needed to show him. Something that might put into focus what Rupert did to her.

And she waits now withing the walls of the ruined library. A place she missed at times, since there had been a lot of good times with friends, before their lives were turned upside down back trips around the world. Nothing has ever been the same since. He stomach churned with a sadness, but also with the nerves of what she was going to show Curtis.

Pressing a hand to her stomach, the ex-regenerator fidgets nervously on a set of steps within the building. Telling herself over and over, this needed to be done. Claire didn't want him think she was so cold blooded… even if there was a part of her that's probably not much different then Sylar.

There's a part of all of them that isn't much different than Sylar. A part that is ready to snap from everything that has been done to their kind. It's there, in all of them, or so Curtis believes. His steps are barely heard on the concrete outside of the library as his footsteps bring him closer. He parked a little ways back, walking the rest of the way to the building, his eyes watching the city of New York, seeing the scars of everything that has been done to her, in the name of progress, in the name of freedom, in the name of control. All parties are guilty of atrocities, and they show on the streets of the city.

He pauses at the doors to the building, looking them over before plucking one open with one hand. He turns to the side and slips into the partially opened door, closing it behind him. He stops just inside, his eyes adjusting to the ambient light, and looking across the ruined place. His steps echo here, though that's intentional. He'd rather not spook anyone using this place as a home or otherwise.

Hands tighten on the shotgun that lays across Claire's lap, where she sits on the stairs that lead to another level of the library. The footstep's echo reaches her and makes her stomach flutter with a touch of fear. It was only a couple of months ago that she would have not cared if whoever was coming might want to try and kill her, but that's when she wasn't really able to be killed.

Now she was very much mortal.

Slowly, she climbs to her feet with shotgun in hand. When Curtis comes into sight, Claire lets out a relieved sigh. She hadn't even noticed she was holding it. "Hey," she offers with a nervous smile. As she relaxes, the ex-cheerleader gives a slightly guilty glance to the gun. "I wasn't sure if there would be an surprises." She explains even if he doesn't ask for one.

Curtis is only mildly mundled up. A black peacoat on his upper body, a scarf around his neck, and that's about it. When he hears the scuff of feet a hand slips beneath his coat, but it doesn't emerge, just remains there until he sees just who it is. When his eyes settle on the young regenerator, or former regenerator, he gives her a shallow nod and his hand slips from beneath his coat, the click of a safety rather distinct. "I doubt me coming prepared is a surprise, but no, no surprises for you, unless this turned out to be something it wasn't." He tucks his hands into the pockets of his coat, his eyes doing a quick glance about the place before settling once more on Claire.

"I'm curious though what inspired you to ask me to come here. Cardinal's people used to operate out of here didn't they?" He arches an eyebrow as he takes a few steps closer, but will stop if Claire seems to get nervous again, and he'll back off a step or two. "Glad to see you're doing okay. Was getting a bit worried, thought I'd have to track you down and make you sure nothing had happened."

There is a slight twitching at the corner of her mouth, as if what he said amuses her. She nervous, very nervous, but she's trying rather hard not to show it. "Worried about me?" She sounds almost disbelieving of that, as if… she can't fathom why he'd care. Is that a faint coloring to her cheeks? Maybe. Claire glances over her shoulder further into the ruined library.

"It… it was where we lived for a time, yeah. Worked out of here." There is a wistful quality to her voice a yearning for those days. "Now with the robots wandering around at night… it's not safe."

Claire's gaze shifts back to Curtis and he can see she's just this side of terrified, but why? "I had you meet me here, cause there is something I thought you should see. I told you, Rupert broke me… the proof of it is here."

Curtis rolls a shoulder some at the question of being worried about her. "Yeah. Claire you've been through a hell of alot, and I only know some of it. I've been through alot myself, but I've had years of experience with fighting, killing, death, mayhem. I've been doing it since I was 17.. and yeah, you started a bit earlier, I've been at it longer." He winks, then sighs and looks down at the floor. "It's kind of complicated I guess… but it's always been my duty and responsibility to protect the citizens of this country… people like who you were Claire… and now… this chaotic mess, and so many people hurt and injured and I can't help but think there's something I could have done to stop it…" he pauses then and laughs a bit. "Sorry, rambling. You're a good ki… suppose you're not a kid anymore… but you're good people… you've had a rough time of it, and now you've had a big part of what made you who you were ripped away. I know what that feels like…" He pauses, then tilts his head to the side, and nods. "Yeah sure, we'll go with that. I always sucked with words anyway."

A slight smile touches his lips at the mention of the robots, nothing more than that smile, just it, and it fades after a handful of seconds, leaving his face pleasant, but impassive again. He shfits his feet a little bit as he listens to her, and gives a slight nod to her statement. "So… why do you feel the need to show me the proof of what Rupert did to you?" It's not a patronizing question either, it's an honest and curious one.

"No… I'm not a kid. I haven't since…" Claire trails off and shakes her head, deciding that part of her life is not important at the moment. His words seem to have a somewhat calming effect, maybe she still feared he was going to kill her, but she seems to relax some.

His question however, make Claire a little nervous again. "I — I don't know." She admits, glancing down and away rather then looking at him. "I guess…" There is a bit of hesitation, before she looks up at him again, uncertain. "I guess I want you to see how far Rupert took me to ensure I did something like I did to your grandfather."

I don't want you to hate me.

That's what's going through her head, but doesn't say out loud. Claire doesn't understand why, but… it's what she's thinking. Her hand reaches out as if she might take his to pull him along, but she stops quickly and turns away. "Come on. It's this way," she says with both hands gripped firmly on the shotgun.

Curtis nods his head, reaffirming his own correction, and her statement that she is not a kid. "YOu're not…" he mumbles softly, though still audibly. His hands leave his pockets, though his thumbs still hook on them, the man's eyes constantly moving about the place, looking for threats, even though there is not much likelihood of him finding any here. He caught the unfinished sentence, but doesn't press at it, though he'd like to know what was left unsaid.

"Rupert… did horrible things. I fought a mob of zombies and then turned on the man who I fought besides just because of what he did. He did alot worse to you." He takes a step forwards, then glances to the hand that starts to lift, and he lifts his up, willing to let her lead him by the hand, but when her's goes back to the shotgun his shoulders shrug a bit and his hand falls back to his side, his steps carrying him along in her wake. "I really wish he wasn't dead. There are some very bad things I would like to do to that man for what he did. There's alot of blood on his hands…" He sighs and gives his heda a shake, one hand going up to rub back along his military short hair.

"Yeah…" Claire says softly, but doesn't voice her own desires to hurt Rupert. She could thing of some things herself that she'd like to do to him as well.

As they approach a shut door, Claire look more and more nervous and even ashamed. She can almost swear she smells the metallic tang of iron, taste it on the back of her tongue. She remembers what happened so very clearly.

Her hand on the door knob Claire hesitates and then glances at Curtis. "Just remember. What you see in here, was done by a girl that I no longer am." Her blue eyes search his face for a moment, before she opens the door, pushing it open she walks into the middle of the destruction. The lingering smell of blood is in the air.

Light suddenly flares at the far side of the room, bathing it in the harsh white blue glow of a camping light. Turning to look at him, Claire seems almost waiting for judgment. Her long hair left loose and her dark clothing seem appropriate for the morbid condition of the room.

The red coloring has long since faded into the blackish color of dried blood. A large area of the floor has dark circle stained there, Claire stands in the middle of it watching him, her eyes seem to almost shine, like she's fighting the urge to cry. All around him on the floor, on the walls. Words written in blood, stand out as a testament to what Rupert turned her into. Repeated over and over.

Empty. I can't feel. I am numb. I want to feel again. I want to care.

I have killed so many. Over and over. So much blood. I don't feel anything. No regret.

I die again and again. Always getting up again, too die again.

I'm not human anymore.

"This is what that monster made me." He made her a monster, too.

Curtis arches a brow somewhat slowly at the words from Claire. He's expecting.. some kind of horror scene… broken mutilated bodies, or something equally horrifying. What he gets is… very different. He walks into the room, no hesitation, and begins to walk around it, slowly, looking at each and every set of words written in blood, Claire's blood he is guessing. Eyes trail around slowly.

He takes several long minutes to explore the room, crouching down at a few spots, fingers tracing letters in a very familiar way. When he's done he straightens up and walks back to her, and lifts a hand, slowly so as not to startle her, and settles the paw like hand on her shoulder, not squeezing, just settling it there, a reassuring presence. "I've seen rooms like this before Claire. Not exactly like this, but similar enough. Most marines can't take what is demanded of them mentally, and they break at some point. Usually it means they retire, sometimes it means they're retired rather than doing it of their own accord, and sometimes…" He waves a hand slowly around himself. "It happens to every soldier who sees real violence, real blood shed. The fact that you had to have it forced upon you just goes to show how strong you are. He had to break you, because you weren't going to break on your own." He smiles down at her, it's a sad sort of smile, but he's attempting otbe comforting with it as his hand finally gives her shoulder a squeeze.

There is almost a confused quality to the look she gives Curtis. Claire expected disgust and a harsher judgment. He calls her strong, but all she sees is weakness and failure. There is a flinch at the touch, but she doesn't shy away or pull away from it.

"I'm not a good person, I didn't come here to try and make you think otherwise." Her eyes focus on his chest as he stands there in front of her. "I can't honestly tell you I wouldn't have done something like that if the reasons were good and there were no innocent people around. A part of me wants to believe I wouldn't… but…" Claire glances around her before tilting a look back up to him again. "I don't know for sure anymore… so much has happened and I still don't think my mind is completely whole.

"But the reasons why I threw myself on your grandfather's car were all lies." Claire pulls away slowly, not looking at him again. Instead, her gaze lingers on some of the words she wrote on the floor. "Every last one. Manipulation of my memories and opinions."

Something catches her eye, her head tilting a little with recognition, and the ex-cheerleader moves that way.

Curtis laughs a little bit at the statement, the man's eyes lighting up in amusement of all things. "Of course you don't think you are Claire. You think that I believe myself to be a good person? The path to hell is paved with good intentions. Everything I have done in my life has been for damned good reasons. But it doesn't change the fact that I have killed alot of people, and some of them have been innocents. I've done horrible and unspeakable things in the name of freedom for this country, and that includes everything I did as Ash. I became Ash to serve my country. It failed, spectacularly, but … it's why I did it. I'm not a good person." He smiles a bit, but it's gone back to sad and he gives her shoulder another light ssqueeze, though this one doesn't relax, keeping a light pressure there, until that is she shrugs his hand off and pulls away. He lets his hand fall back ot his side once more, the man's eyes watching her as she finds something interesting. He doesn't intrude upon her discovery, letting her have it while he stands sentinel in the middl eof the room.

"Claire, I don't hate you for what you did. Would I like to kill someone for what was done to my grandfather? Yes, but not you. That's another thing to lay at Rupert's feet…." He looks down, eyes lingering on the floor. "I was supposed to be a team leader for Frontline…" he murmurs it, a soft laugh escaping him. "My grandfather had mentioned a project that he was working on and wanted me to help him lead up when I got back from being Ash. But everything went to hell, and they failed to retrieve me multiple times…" He looks up and towards her, a soft sigh broaching his lips. "Somehow, I don't think my welcome would be very warm amongst them."

Crouching down on hands and knees, Claire ducks her head under a table and her upper half disappears under it for a long moment. When he talks about not hating her, there is a soft thump, her head hitting the top of the table with surprise. Finally, she's out from under it, a knife covered in dried blood, gripped in one hand. The other hand rubs at the back of her head tenderly.

Unlike before the slight pain doesn't go away right away.

Once on her feet again, Claire gives him a funny look and then fore the first time smiles. A real one, not something forced. It makes her look a little younger, a hint of the old Claire within. Then too quickly it fades. "Why did you let that stop you?" she asks softly, bringing the knife towards him. The blade doesn't shine like a metal knife. "You probably would have done a great job there. Compared to bodyguarding Richard."

It made no sense that her. He was trained for one, but did something totally different.

Curtis watches her crawl underneath the table, curiosity in his eyes, and a slight amount of amusement at the pretty ex-cheerleader, ex-terrorist crawling around beneath a table. He folds his arms across his chest and watches her, unable to stop himself from chuckling lightly when she thumps her head. "You okay?" He asks, wincing when she comes out rubbing he rhead. "Still not used to stuff like that huh?" He offers her a hand up, and no he won't take no for an answer, he'll take hold of her hand or her arm and help her to her feet, fingers lifting though to part her hair and check to make sure she didn't bust her scalp open. She's short enough that he can do that with no trouble, then crosses his arms over his chest again and looks down at her.

He returns her smile, his slightly lopsided in a very Han Solo fashion, though thta smile falters when she asks her question. "I'm not sure I could pull the trigger on one of the people I called friend. Sure I told them that I could, but I don't know…. if it was Peter… Melissa even though I can't stand her… Perry… you…" He looks down at the floor and pulls in a slow breath, then lets it out again. "I don't know if I could pull the trigger on someone I called friend. In a different life sure but… I just don't know if I could. And I'd end up with that choice before me at some point…" He pulls in a slight breath, holds it, then exhales and gives his shoulders another roll. "I don't think Richard is going to let me bodyguard him anyway… so I honestly have no idea what I'm going to do…."

There's something more to his decision to not join Frontline, though he might not even be aware that there is, but there is definitley a sense of something else being a part of his decision, whether he knows it or not.

It amuses her to know end when he check her over, Claire holds still with lightly flushed cheeks. Being fussed over like that… it's been awhile. She really can't even look at him for whatever reason. Nails chip at the blood, rubbing it off the knife once given to her by a friend, not an ounce of metal in it.

"Growing up, I wanted nothing more then to be normal." Claire continues to not look at him, hair hanging around her face as she keeps her focus on the composite knife as she does a half-assed job of cleaning it, careful of the sharp blade. "Now that I am… I'm whoafully unprepared."

She sounds like she's winding up to something.

Blue eyes lift to meet his, there is a question in them an almost pleading. "I need help… I've always just… thrown myself into things with no sort of training, relying on my ability to get me through. I need to prove that I can still be a useful fighter."

Curtis glances down at the knife finally, eyes watching as blood is flaked and chipped off of it, his eyes watching the non metal blade get revealed. "Normal is over rated." he murmurs to her statement, though his eyes do catch sight of her flushed cheeks. "Sorry, didn't mean to embarass you…" He, assuming that she's embarassed at the fussing. "We often are unprepared for the unexpected. You've spent so long as shotgun barbie, able to dive on grenades and live, or take on damn near anything and come out alive and usually unscathed, that you have no idea how to not be that. How to be a normal person, with normal limitations. I'm not normal, but I still bleed and die just like anyone normal, and my power doesn't make me super human, just… max human… so in essence… I guess I'm fairly normal…" He arches a brow, glancing up towards the ceiling before giving a shrug. "I guess, maybe…" He flashes her a little grin, though it fades as she continues on.

He pauses for a long little bit, his face thoughtful, but words don't leave his lips for a bit. He lifts a hand up, running his fingers back through his short buzzcut hair. It lowers and he tilts his head to the side. "Why? Why do you need to prove you're still a fighter? Why do you still need to fight? I'm not saying I won't help you, so don't assume that.. but I'm confused as to why you believe you have to keep fighting. What's wrong with being normal?"

"Because… I might be normal, but my life never will be, Curtis." Claire's words are softly spoke. This is what she truly believes. "I'm still wanted. I would still stand at Richard and Elisabeth's side in a fight." Her eyes glisten with unshed tears as she adds. "I want to still be useful to them.

"I… literally don't know how to be anything else." It's a frustrated admission, lips pressed together to keep them from trembling. Then tears threaten to slide down Claire's cheeks she ducks her head down to look at the knife. "I eat, sleep and live the life of a terrorist. I hadn't even had the desire to date."

That has her cheeks coloring again, the knife held but the cleaning abandoned. "Fighting is all I've known for over four years. I need to get the confidence back. To know I still can. Even if not in the same way."

Curtis tilts his head to the side a little bit, a sad sort of look on his features as she says that. "One day it will be Claire. There will come a day when it's all over, one way or another. If the government can't come up with a 'cure' then they will be forced to look at equal rights, and all the people that fought against them. The government is balanced on a wire. If they can't produce, they will lose everything. So either they come up with something, or they will fail and everything you'v ebeen fighting for will win out." He lifts a hand up and runs his fingers along his scalp again, a nervous tick for him, though it was never something he did as Ash. "And yes you do. You know how to be a daughter, a sister, a student, a cheerleader. You need to learn how to be an adult outside of the fighting is what you need." He looks down at the floor, then sighs and sinks down into a crouch, fingers running along the blood stained floor.

"Of course you hadn't. You were too busy fighting and surviving to think of your emotional needs. Just like most of us. Only a few find time amidst all that for anything romantic…" He sighs and lifts his eyes from the floor, up towards Claire's features. "Look around you Claire… this is what comes from fighting and doing nothing else. You don't need to be trying to get back into the fight. You need to heal. You need something that resembles a normal life so you can find out who you are outside of the fighting, the killing, the destruction."

Rejection has her straightening, though Claire doesn't gain any height. Stubbornness sets in and her chin lifts a little as a result. Fingers tighten around the knife in her hands, the blade biting into her skin reminding her to be careful. "If you won't teach me how to fight and defend myself…" She takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly. "Then I'll find someone else who will."

She takes a step to the side as if she might slip past him and out the door. "And I will. Someone will be willing." Claire had hope with his obvious military training he's be able to show her more then most. "I'm too easy a target anymore."

Curtis blinks slowly at the straightening and the setting of jaw and lifting of chin. He tilts his head to the side at the response to him. His tongue wets his lips and they part to speak, pausing to let her finish. He puts out an arm to stop her from slipping past him and he grunts. "Hold on a fucking minute. I just said when we started down this topic of conversation that I wasn't saying no to the idea of helping you out with this. I said I wanted to know why. You don't get to make a request of me, and then get all pissed off because I question why you want something." He steps back inf ront of her, and looks down at her, his eyes narrowed. "Someone might be. But they're not as good as I am." It's not said arrogantly, it's said matter of factly. Curtis is a soldier, a warrior. It's who and what he is, and there are very few out there as good as him, and fewer still that are better. "I let you run off back at the apartment, but I'm not going to let you run off here Claire. What is so wrong with the idea of a normal life? I can train you and you can have a normal life… but why can't you… give it a chance? A try? I'm sure the Ferrymen can get you a fake identity…" He sighs softly and removes his hand from in front of her. "If you want training I will give it to you, but I'd like you to at least consider the possibility of trying to live a relatively normal life."

The mention of the Ferry has her flinching away. Going to them, means going to her father and she's not sure she's ready for that yet. A part of her can see that look and he'll freak out. She's sure of it. "I'm not going to them," Claire declares softly. "Too much… it wouldn't go well," she amends.

"I'm sorry." Claire offers after, giving him a strained smile. "I'm use to being told no… or protected." She takes a calming breath and lets it out slowly, suddenly feeling the sting across her palm. It's sharp, but more of an irritation.

She turns her hand over so she can stare at the line of red, it's not more then a superficial cut, with only a little bit of blood rising to the surface. That will be a sight that takes awhile to get use too. "I don't want my dad to know what happened, he'll spirit me away… and I'll lose what little life I do have."

Curtis doesn't know why she says no to the Ferry, but he just shrugs his shoulders, dismissing the option since she said no. He shifts his feet, shoes scuffing softly on the floor beneath them, the man watching her as she apologizes. "Who am I to tell you no Claire? You're a grown woman. You might not look like you're old enough to vote…" he flashes her a playful smirk, his lips curling on one side, though it fades away quickly enough. "But you're a grown woman. You can make your own decisions. I would just like to see you explore some of that, and see what's out there for you rather than rushing right back into the fight to get killed…." he trails off, his head canting to the side slightly. "Your father? I'm afraid I have no idea what you're talking about… why would he spirit you away? How? Nevermind… doesn't matter… I'll train you so you can defend yourself, and not get yourself killed… but… like I said… I'd like to see you try to live a more normal life.. you might like it…"

"You going to show me how?" Claire says without thinking, joking really. Then it occurs to her what she said and to whom she said it. The former regenerator blushes fiercely out of sheer embarrassment. She blew up his grandfather for goodness sake!

She bites off another apology, giving him a strained smile. Instead she says, "Thank you for agreeing. I'll feel better with some true training under my belt… and I promise not to whine." Too much anyhow. There may be some whining involved when the sore muscles start.

Her head shift about, as her eyes wander the room. "Let's get out of here." Claire looks back at Curtis and gives him a more genuine smile. "I said my peace, showed you what I needed. It'll take forever to get the smell of blood out of my nose."

Curtis doesn't understand what she means with the statement right away, though it causes a slight chuckle that dies off as he thinks of his own life and how un normal it is. He pauses, his lips parting to speak, then closes his mouth and sighs. "Suppose I'm not the best person to be trying to get you to live somewhat normally… my own life is anything but… but I still go out to eat, go to the gym, go and see a sports game of some kind every now and then, or well… I used to, and have been trying to do so again since I got back…"

He glances about the room a little bit, though he does snort softly. "You'll whine plenty." He admonishes with a bit of a weak smirk on his lips. He turns and heads towards the door out, pushing it open, and holding it as he waits for her to exit. Once she does he'll close the door behind her before taking her hand and looking over the cut. "I have some bandages in my car if you want to wrap it up. I'd suggest doing so as I doubt your body is used to fighting off infection on it's own yet." He tucks his hands into his pockets and looks down at the floor. "I'm going to a college hockey game this weekend. If you'd like to go let me know… give that normal thing a shot."

"They said they fixed it where I'm like everyone else, but I'm not sure how much faith I have in what they say," Claire states blandly, letting him look at it after shyly stepping out the door when it's held open. "So yeah… I should probably wrap it." She keeps the knife with her, it was her's after all and it was a gift. It was no longer something that was going to take an innocent life.

When she takes her hand back, she curls her fingers around the cut protectively. "I know… like… next to nothing about hockey," Claire muses softly, but her tone says she's seriously thinking about it.

"As long as you don't mind a lot of questions." She isn't sure she'll have any, but you never know. Claire is suddenly feeling a little shy as she starts to walk out. "If you don't mine then I think I'd like too." She's never done something so normal in a very long time. Even if she knows next to nothing about it, there is an appeal to doing something so normal.

The walk out of the library and to his car is a decent one, seversl blocks, so they have plenty of time to talk as they walk. "I wouldn't trust it either. Better to be safe." The man's steps are light for such a heavy frame, barely any noise on the concrete as he walks through the New York day, his eyes casting about again, alert once more for possible danger or threats.

"Don't have to know all that much about it really. The idea is to put the puck in the goal past the goalie. You can hit the enemy team as hard as you want as long you don't use your fists or your stick. If you do it's a penalty. If you clearly injure someone intentionally you get a penalty. If you launch the puck down the rink to get it away form the opposing team, it's called icing. Sometimes they call icing even when it's an accident because it disrupts the game. And for the most part, that's all you'll need to know to follow the game." He smiles a bit, it's a hesitant smile though, his eyes settling on her features, watching her. "I don't mind questions. It means you're out doing something instead of being cooped up and on the run."

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