Claire's not a little kid. She's seventeen, and her mom even used to say that she was very adult for her age. The past year, she felt, had aged her even more, added a weight to her shoulders that she figured must come from newfound maturity. She saw the world through weathered eyes, finding out for the first time how grim it really was. Having her whole life taken away and flipped upside down could do that to a girl.
She wasn't that young when she found out that she was adopted, so she never had the fantasies that she suspected other adopted children had. She never imagined that she was a princess, or a child of spies, or really the daughter of Tom Cruise, even when she saw Vanilla Sky for the fifth time. Instead, she had more grown-up reveries where her parents were like her, and they spent family game nights cutting off fingers and toes for a laugh. She didn't want to be someone different, most of the time; she just wanted to live in a world where she could be herself.
Because she's almost an adult, Claire doesn't daydream or fantasize before she goes to bed. She just thinks, very logically, about the fact that her mother can make fire and her father can fly. She simply wonders, not unrealistically, not unintelligently, about the past that her parents had had before she was born and Nathan left and everything went to shit.
Maybe they stopped robberies, wearing ski masks and giddy smiles left by the glow of puppy love. Nathan could fly them in and Meredith could superheat the bad guys' guns so that they couldn't shoot. Then, Nathan could fly everyone out super fast (could Nathan fly super fast? She'd have to ask Peter), and they'd be gone even before the police showed up. Maybe there was a super-special division of the Dallas PD dedicated to cracking the uncanny mystery of the crime-fighting duo, puzzling over charts and graphs, physical evidence and eyewitness accounts. And as Meredith cooked them tacos at night while Nathan finished his economics homework, they would watch the ambiguous news reports and laugh together, sharing the kind of secret that makes two people closer.
Maybe they used their powers around the house on Sunday mornings while they cleaned. Meredith could light a nice fire as the snow fluttered outside, and Nathan could float up to the ceiling to get the extra-dusty corners. They'd joke that the spiders would never know what hit them when Nathan grabbed Meredith gently by the cinch of her waist and carried her up into the rafters to ignite the pervasive cobwebs. When they broke for lunch, they'd put on their long underwear and have lunch on the roof of the building, sitting safely on the highest perch that overlooked their modest suburb, eating soup that never got cold. Meredith, who had been working in the late nights on controlling her power, would put her thin arm around Nathan and keep him just warm enough to feel safe.
Maybe they didn't know that they were each special when they met in Intro to Political Science. They just knew that they were young, and single, and pretty cute when they smiled. So they went on a few dates and stayed guarded, like they imagined their parents would tell them to, if their parents knew what they could do. But then Nathan would decide, after three months - an eternity in college years - that it was time to come clean with this girl who he might even love. He would set up a picnic with candles and pie and more than one kind of fork in the clock tower at the height of campus when they were both staying in Dallas for Thanksgiving break. And he would lead Meredith to the base of the tower by the hand, jumping out of his skin with anxiety and excitement, like the little boy on Christmas he was never allowed to be. Meredith would giggle and enjoy this new, carefree Nathan, and when he grabbed her around the waist and held her against his chest, she would enjoy the closeness even more than the feeling of lightness and air beneath her feet. They would float wordlessly, not even looking in each other's eyes until they reached the clock tower. Nathan would nervously, expectantly, lift up Meredith's chin and look for a reaction. And without changing her expression, she would just snap her fingers and light the candelabra, and Nathan would smile his white grin as the flames danced in his eyes.
To Claire, these aren't childish flights of fancy. They're careful examinations of the life she could have had - would have had, had the world not gone insane and led her through a labyrinthine series of events to her parents, finally, who are separated and inutile and businesslike at best. If her life were a movie, or even a comic book, a family like hers would not be forced to suffer the same mundane dysfunctions as the families of those other adopted kids who had only fantasies, and not her uncle's seemingly endless string of superpowers, to rely on.
Claire isn't a kid, and she isn't a dreamer. She's only a girl - an independent, capable young adult - who wishes that everything had turned out the way it was supposed to.