Characters: Nathan, Claire, Mr. Bennett
Prompt/Notes: The prompt was [Nathan, Bennet] common ground. So as you can see I snagged my title straight from the prompt.
Summary: Claire calls her dad and tries to reassure him of her safety without being really sure herself. Nathan intervenes.
"Um, Dad?" Claire said into the phone, and there was a sharp intake of breath on the other end.
"Claire. Where are you?" It is as urgent as she has ever heard him sound, and for a surreal moment she can hear the echoes of Nathan Petrelli's voice within it (my daughter? what's going on here?).
"I can't tell you on the phone Dad." She says. She wants to, but that doesn't matter. "But I'm safe."
"Claire-bear," he says, and she feels suddenly near tears, "you don't know that."
Claire looks quietly around the room. It is small, dimly lit, and poorly furnished. There are only a few other people in it -- Hiro is sitting cross-legged on the floor, reading a comic book, his sword next to him. D.L. and Micah are playing scrabble, and Nathan is standing by the window, staring out. His back is to Claire, but she knows automatically what he's looking at. The sky.
"No," she agrees, "I don't. But I think I'm safe Dad. I trust the...people that I'm with. I just wanted to call you and tell you I was --"
Claire stops. She knows her next word should be "okay." But she can hear her mom and Lyle talking in the background about football and pork chops for dinner, and suddenly she doesn't feel okay.
"Claire?" He asks, sounding worried. She wonders, with a sort of grim humor, what he thinks happened to her. Abduction? Unconsciousness? Death?
"I'm okay Dad." She says. "I'm safe here."
"Claire, you can't trust anyone. Anyone could be working for The Company. You can't --"
"Dad you shouldn't talk about important stuff on this line." She says. She wants desperately to ask him what (or who) "the company" is, but Micah already told her he can't secure their phone line completely. Whoever "the company" is, they could be listening right now. "I'm safe, okay?"
If she doesn't get off the phone, she's going to start crying, and she doesn't want him to hear that. She knows he'll worry -- maybe even try to find her. And that could be disastrous.
"Here." There is a hand in front of her, palm up. She looks up to see Nathan standing there. He wants the phone, she realizes.
"Um, Dad, I'm going to give the phone to someone who's here with me. Okay? And you can -- you guys can talk. Okay?"
She shoves the phone into Nathan's hand and hurriedly swipes a hand across her eyes. She could swear she sees sympathy in Nathan's own eyes as he puts the phone to his ear.
"Hello? Mr. Bennett? Much as I would have liked to tell you this in person, I'm not sure when I'll get that chance. I'll tell you in advance -- I usually have more tact than this. It's in my line of work."
He was trying, Claire realized, to give her dad hints as to who he was.
"I'm Claire's father Mr. Bennett." Nathan says into the phone, and Claire cringes. She cannot imagine her dad's expression, and does not want to. It isn't that she isn't proud most days to claim Nathan as her father. It's just that she has another father, one she's had for a very long time. And she knows it isn't easy for any of them to get the news the way they have -- suddenly, bluntly, and without time for explanation.
"Yes, I know Mr. Bennett. It was a surprise to me as well." Nathan is saying dryly, and Claire can almost grin. She can remember the scene all to well: Nathan had walked in the door, and his mother (Claire's grandmother, she thought distantly) had stood up and led him to where Claire sat on the sofa.
"This is your daughter Nathan." She had said, and Nathan had gone very, very white.
"I'm keeping her safe Mr. Bennett." Says Nathan's voice, jolting Claire from remembrances of a comparatively comfortable past. "Trust me."
There's a strange, not unfamiliar conviction in his voice, the sort of reassurance that Nathan dishes out on a regular basis -- he sounds so absolutely sure, even though he's not, that you can't help but believe him.
She realizes with a start that her dad often speaks in exactly the same way. Lots of "of course" lots of "trust me."
She wonders for a minute if that means something about Nathan. Is he keeping her safe? Can she trust him?
She studies the way he is gripping the phone, his fingers strong and sure but his knuckles white. His jaw is strong and determined, but his eyes are sparking with the worry she's come to expect there. She remembers her father's hands as he held her shoulders in the hospital, begging for a chance, his words reassuring, full of strong promises, but his eyes desperate.
She can trust him, she realizes.
Claire holds out her own hand for the phone and Nathan raises an eyebrow but hands it over with a quick goodbye. Claire speaks into the phone with more certainty than she's had for days.
"Don't worry Dad," she says, and there is an added quality to her voice, a ring of certainty and reassurance that is hauntingly familiar to both men listening, "I'm as safe as I'll ever be."