Summary: What's a girl to do when she has a crush on a guy - who just happens to be her uncle? And what's an uncle to do when his niece starts acting out on him?
Spoilers: to 1.19 .07
Disclaimer: Nothing is mine, just borrowing. All NBC's and Tim Kring's. Please don't sue!
Author's Notes: Canon, non-AU. Product of insomnia, so pretty random one shot. If it entertains you, it's done its job.
Feedback is love!
Peter had come home early for the weekly family dinner that night, letting himself into the fashionable Manhattan townhouse. He'd expected the place to be empty as it always was during this time of day, but instead he'd followed the blaring from the surround sound system Nathan had just installed in the rec room to find Claire slumped on the couch, legs on the coffee table (something Heidi had pointedly warned them not to do), looking thoroughly over life, the universe and everything.
"What're you doing home?" He asked, curiously surveying the mish-mash of potato chip packets, soda cans and used, crumpled tissues scattered across the floor.
"I'm taking a sick day." The blonde replied, not bothering to turn around.
That was certainly not what he'd expected to hear. "You don't get sick." He pointed out. When she didn't respond, he decided to use the tried and true tactic of just pushing her buttons until she exploded with that famous Petrelli temper. He plopped onto the couch next to her, nudging her feet with his. "Aren't you just a little too old to still have teddy tears on your socks?"
She whipped on him, biting back. "Aren't you a little too old to be wearing Converses?"
Peter looked down at his black Converse shoes, well worn with all the walking around he'd done the past few months. "Actually, no. They're cool shoes."
"Says someone who was born an entire decade before me."
Her irritation was pretty interesting to watch. Claire tended to erupt like her father, but as a long time observer of such phenomenon Peter was well versed on the warning signs. First came the snide irritation. Next would come offensive bickering. "What're you doing home?" He asked again, knowing full well it'd drive her crazy. "Don't you have classes or something?"
She fixed steely green eyes on him. His niece was pretty cute when annoyed. "Yes. But I'm taking a sick day."
His repeated questioning should be driving her nuts. "You don't get sick."
She finally exploded. Furiously she turned to face him, punching his arm – hard. "Oh my god, I know, okay? I'm taking a day off precisely because I don't get sick. I never get sick so I might as well take a day off whenever." She muttered under her breath. "Idiot."
Goading her was almost as entertaining as baiting Nathan. Except in Claire's case, Peter didn't need to worry about being held in a head lock. That was a refreshing feeling. "What're you watching?" He sniffed curiously, trying to be conciliatory.
She was having none of his overtures, so he tried again. "Is it Titanic?" He asked, needling her. When his second attempt was met with stony silence, Peter decided to pull out all stops. Never let it be said he never paid attention to weepy chick movies. "That one with Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet? Where they, um, die and stuff?"
That got her attention, but unfortunately for Peter it was entirely the wrong kind. Her face grew red, the way it did when her irritation boiled over into anger. "You know I've never seen the end of this movie, don't you?"
Peter blinked owlishly. "What do you mean?"
"What the hell do you think I mean? I haven't seen the end of this movie and now you've gone and ruined it for me!" She screamed, furious.
"But … but …" He stumbled on. "How could you not have seen Titanic? My girlfriend in high school watched it about 17 times when it came out."
Her emerald eyes narrowed. Peter saw her knuckles gripping the remote control tightly, her anger barely held in check. "Yes, and when precisely did that movie come out Peter?"
He had no idea. In more than one sense of the word. "Er …" It finally clicked. "About 1996. Maybe 1997." He mumbled.
"And how old were you in 1996?"
Oh he knew where this was going and it wasn't going to end well. "16." He barely got the words out.
"And how old did you think I was?" She seethed. "Go on, take a stab."
Okay, the girl had a point. He had to hand it to Claire, she sure was wily. Just like Nathan was. "Sorry." He hoped his humble tone would smooth things over, but unluckily for Peter, it didn't.
"Well?" She demanded, clearly having been offended beyond the bounds of good taste.
"How old do you think I was in 1996?"
"Come on Claire." This had gone far enough. Why was she making such a huge deal about this? It was just a stupid movie. An extremely long, guaranteed to make every girl that watch it sob copiously for at least an hour before it actually ended kind of stupid movie.
"Oh all right. You were 6. I can do the math you know."
"Great!" She'd evidently decided she'd tortured Peter enough for one day, because she returned to ignoring him, crossing her arms for good measure. "Next time just keep spoilers to yourself. Idiot."
"Hey! You can't talk to me that way." Peter protested despite knowing that it'd set her off again. Which it did.
"Oh, and why not?" She huffed, turning dangerous eyes towards him.
"Because I'm your uncle!" He blurted, promptly realizing he shouldn't have said anything of the kind.
If Peter thought Claire had been furious before, he was treated to an incandescent eruption of a magnitude he'd never seen before. Looking back, he couldn't believe he'd been such a prized idiot.
She stood and carefully took the bowl of potato chips that had been precariously balanced on her stomach. Without further ado, she tipped the entire contents of the bowl over him.
Despite his abilities, he was only able to partially stop the shower of chips raining down over his head, but Claire was ready for that. Before he knew it, she'd emptied the remnants of her soda over his hair, hair that he'd only washed a few hours ago.
Peter gasped in shock, stunned at what his niece at just done.
"Serves you right." She muttered, calmly stepping over Peter's outstretched legs on her way out of the room. "Moron."
Peter didn't have much luck explaining the situation to Nathan the next day, who automatically blamed him for upsetting his precious daughter, not to mention destroying Heidi's favourite couch with soda stains. Boy was their family screwed up. "But Nathan, she –"
"Peter, grow up." His brother was pretty unfair sometimes. Claire was the one behaving immaturely and yet somehow, it was Peter's fault – yet again. Old habits died hard. "You're supposed to be the more mature one here, suck it up. Give the kid a break, she's going through some stuff right now."
That managed to snap Peter out of his righteous indignation. His sometimes volatile relationship with Claire over the past few years had been punctuated by a series of such fights. In fact, the only time he and Claire had managed to behave civilly had been in life and death situations, something that hadn't escaped the notice of even his career obsessed brother. But that didn't mean that deep down, they didn't care about each other. In fact, if push came to shove (and there certainly had been a lot of pushing and shoving, at least from Claire's end) Peter would've said that their bickering was them caring a little too much about each other. After all, they had literally saved each other's lives, an experience hard to replicate with anyone else.
"What's wrong with Claire?" Nathan scrutinised him and Peter couldn't help but be offended. What did Nathan think he'd do, hurt her? That was just stupid.
Nathan shrugged. "Can't tell precisely what's up. Heidi thinks it's a boy."
Peter's ears weren't quite long enough to perk up, but if they had been they would most certainly have done so. "Oh?"
"Yeah." Nathan began fixing himself a sandwich, not bothering to ask Peter whether he wanted one which Peter thought was rather rude. It was still a few hours to dinner and he was starving. His stomach veritably growled. "Apparently she's been stalking around the house muttering about nuns and convents and stuff like that. Heidi thinks it's probably a date that went south."
"Is that why she was home yesterday?" Peter didn't like this mystery guy already. Despite his problems with his often tempestuous niece, he'd literally kill anyone who dared to hurt her. As in, literally hands wringing the life out of them kill.
Perhaps it was time to dust off some of his more 'special' powers, the ones which lent themselves to torture and mayhem.
Nathan was looking at him curiously. "Yeah, that's what Heidi thinks. Couldn't get the whole story out of her though. Something about how cruel life was, finding someone she'd liked but … well, something."
"How long has this been going on?" The last time he'd checked, Claire hadn't dated anyone since the last boyfriend six months ago. Not that he'd been really checking that closely of course.
Nathan shrugged, munching on his sandwich. "Apparently since last Saturday."
It took the significance of the day some time to fully register on Peter but when it did, his heart literally stopped.
Oh god. That was the night he and Claire had declared a temporary truce to indulge their mutual love for the latest Tarantino. Saturday night had been a night of unusual laughter, chatter, popcorn and slightly irresponsible drunk karaoke singing. His memory was hazy owing to the number of beers he and Claire had steadily downed throughout the night at the karaoke bar, but … surely not. Surely they couldn't have … could they?
Oh god. Oh god. Oh … god.
Peter couldn't quite face is niece for a whole week, during which he'd steadily convinced himself that what he thought could've happened did not, in fact, happen. Could not have happened, because even in a wildly inebriated state he would've known that making out with his own niece was inappropriate and what's more, a felony. For which he could go to prison and become someone's bitch, something Peter desperately did not want to become even though technically he could break out of prison if he really needed to. Which he didn't want to.
Peter shivered, drawing his coat around himself. This was a pretty stupid situation he'd gotten himself in. The worst he'd been in, in fact for a really long time. It was right up there with flinging himself off a fifteen storey building because he'd dreamed that he could actually fly. Which was a pretty stupid thing to do in retrospect.
After a week, the suspense had been killing him. To the point where it could physically have killed him, so he decided to "suck it up" as Nathan would say and confront the issue head on.
Issue being a euphemism for possible incest. Nathan would kill him dead if he ever found out.
He noiselessly let himself into the townhouse. Peter knew the entire family was out for the night at one of Nathan's charity balls for god knew what disease. Nathan had been inadvertently helpful and had called Peter to see whether he could drop by and check on Claire, who had pleaded a headache and had stayed home.
"Claire?" Peter called out into the gloom. Despite the complete absence of light, he had no trouble pinpointing Claire's exact location in the house; she'd evidently shut herself in her room and had cranked up some angry girl band music to drown out whatever was bothering her.
He climbed the ornate stairs two at a time and quickly reached her bedroom door, knocking politely. "Claire?" When the music continued to blare, Peter figured he had two choices. He could go away quietly, with Claire being none the wiser to his nocturnal visit. Or he could just barge in and demand to know whether he had, in fact, kissed his own niece last Saturday night.
He knew which option he'd rather go with, but went with the other instead. "Claire." He hollered at the top of his voice. "It's Peter!"
There was a moment of silence in the form of music being turned up even louder, before Peter barged into her room. As expected, Claire looked livid and ready to skin Peter from head to toe. "What are you doing? You can't come barging into my room without permission!"
"Can you turn the music down?" It was vintage Alanis Morrisette of all people and even in his calmest frame of mind, her screeching would've driven Peter insane. And Peter wasn't calm by any stretch of the imagination.
"No!" She cranked it up even louder, which infuriated Peter. Here he was, trying to get to the bottom of whatever was bothering her, had come all this way to check that she was okay and this was how she decided to behave?
She was being really immature about this. So he did the only thing he could do – switched her stereo system off telekinetically, yanking the entire thing out of the wall for good measure. The silence was a balm to his ears.
"Hey! You can't do that."
"Oh yeah?" Peter was getting testy despite his good intentions. "I just did." He'd evidently regressed to adolescence, which given her age, was probably not the best thing for him to have done right now.
"You're a bully!"
"And you're a selfish, whiney 19 year old girl who doesn't know when to shut up when people that care about her are checking to see whether she's okay! And oh by the way, I mean you."
This was usually about the point where she'd either a) quieten down and start turning on the waterworks, making Peter feel bad for having made her cry, only to then turn around and tell on him to Nathan, or b) give it as good as she got, using biting sarcasm as effectively as a ninja wielding a sword to cleave him efficiently in half.
But instead, she did neither. She sank onto her bed, crossing her arms. "That's real mature. Are you sure you're almost 30?"
They stared at each other for a while. Then, taking a deep breath, Peter crossed the room and sat gingerly next to her. "What's the matter Claire?"
"You know what the matter is." Claire mumbled miserably, and the complete lack of hostility let him know that this was going to be one of their more genuine moments.
He shook his head. "I'm sorry, I'm … not sure."
Hurt, confusion then disbelief crossed her face. "You don't … you don't remember?" She asked in a tiny voice. "You don't remember what happened last Saturday?"
What was the best way for Peter to say that he may have remembered getting his niece (his under the legal drinking age niece he hastened to add) drunk and proceeding to have done … whatever he thought he'd done. He didn't know. "Not really. I think we …" He shook his head ruefully. "I'm not sure."
She squinted, trying to determine whether his confusion was genuine. Evidently she believed him because she relaxed and sank into the bed, depressed. "Oh god." Her hands covered her face. "It's so stupid."
He brought his hands to hers, gently prying them away from her face. "What is?" Noting her averted eyes, Peter added softly. "You know you can tell me anything."
"I'm not sure I can tell you this."
Although he had an inkling of what it might have been, hearing those words tumble out of her mouth made him feel a lot worse that he would have thought possible. He and Claire had had their differences, but deep down, they were friends and he hated that she couldn't confide in him. "You can." He responded calmly, staring deeply into her eyes. "You can tell me anything."
Seeing her face redden and tears welling up, he decided to take the plunge. "Well, can I tell you something?" She nodded, curiosity stilling her tears. "I'm not sure because my memory's a little hazy, but I think –" Peter swallowed, and his throat was suddenly very, very dry. "I think we might have – you know –" He gestured awkwardly.
"Kissed?" Claire finished off, reddening again.
He couldn't even nod, it was that ridiculous and painful. Not that it was ridiculous and painful to think that someone was tempted to kiss Claire because if he really had to admit it – and he guessed he did – she was growing into a very desirable woman. Putting aside the whole spontaneous regeneration thing, she was young, bright, gorgeous and had a smile to die for (literally). What red blooded man in his right mind (who wasn't related to her) wouldn't want to kiss her?
She must have taken his flustered state as agreement, because she rushed on. "Peter, I never meant to tell you all that stuff."
He couldn't lie to her, not now. "What stuff? I … don't remember."
"Oh." She said faintly. She looked like she wanted to throw up. "Um, maybe it's best if we don't –"
"No, you should – I mean, if you want to. You remember what we talked about, I think it's fair for me to remember too." If he hadn't been too drunk to forget, he added silently.
"All that stuff. About …" She gulped hard, summoning her courage. Peter had to admire her resilience. "About me having a crush on you." She blurted out. "Even though you're my – you know – uncle."
Peter blinked, his throat dry. Now that they were re-enacting their conversation, he did have a vague memory of it. Which was uncomfortable to say the least as the rest of it tumbled back into his confused brain. "Oh." What else could he say? That he actually remembered confessing drunkenly to her, "Sometimes I imagine what it's like to kiss you. Sick, huh? Kissing your own niece? I'm a sick bastard."
There had been a rather stretched out, awkward silence that had ended with them stumbling back to his apartment, doing decidedly un-uncle/niece like things, things that had only stopped when he realised they were on the floor of his kitchen, Claire undoing the zip on his jeans, reaching in with her slim hands and –
Oh god. He was sick. He was a sick, disgusting, perverted bastard of a man that had tried to take advantage of his own niece. On the floor of his kitchen. A kitchen that she had once baked him cookies in, when she'd been younger and less … appealing.
He licked his lips, trying to get a grip on his excitement. He couldn't believe he was actually getting excited, which proved once and for all his folly couldn't be blamed purely on alcohol. He cleared his throat. "I … can remember some of it." He confessed lamely. "I'm sorry."
Hurt, confusion and anger surfaced again. "You are?"
"Well – yes. I took advantage of you. I'm – we were both drunk but I'm your uncle, I can't be doing – that sort of thing to – with you."
There it was again, that odd, protracted silence. "Why not?" She asked quietly, eyeing him suddenly with desire.
Peter couldn't believe he was in this situation again. What was worse, he was entirely sober this time. "We can't! We're – I'm your uncle." He stuttered, quickly looking away.
"So?" She countered, inching closer to him.
He backed away from her but she kept on coming, like some determined, hell raising she-cat. "So – it's wrong. Morally wrong and bad." Despite himself, he couldn't stop staring at her slightly parted lips, lips that she was licking provocatively. "Very, very bad."
Her next words almost undid him. "I want to be bad." She whimpered, finally cornering him – on her bed, against the wall, with nowhere to hide.
"Claire, we can't –"
"I don't want to hear it."
"You – you really should." Peter continued lamely, all the while not able to tear his eyes away from her as she pressed her lithe frame down onto him. He groaned at the contact. "Oh god, we can't."
"You're saying 'can't' a whole lot." Claire smirked, beginning to grind against him. The combination of the friction and rhythm almost made him lose it right there. "I know you feel it." Heavy emphasis on the feeling.
Peter stared at the ceiling, at a crossroads in his life. Their mutual crush had spiralled out of control to the point where they were now at the point of no return. Whoever said a crush was harmless, hadn't known about Peter Petrelli and Claire Bennet.
What was a man to do?