Title: "It's Just A Session" (sequel to "It's Just A Conversation") Feedback is love!
Rating: PG-13 (minor swearing)
Characters: Peter/Claire (canon)
Summary: "One week is apparently a really long time when an uncle and niece have requited feelings for each other that are definitely un-uncle/niece like." Peter and Claire are being smart about this. They've decided to see a shrink.
Spoilers: General spoilers for Season 1; assume up to 2.05 Fight or Flight
Disclaimer: Nothing is mine, just borrowing. All NBC's and Tim Kring's. Please don't sue!
Author's Notes: Continuing to explore the reality of what being in love with your uncle or niece means. Squeaky clean, popped out of the blue (as these things tend to do). I'd definitely suggesting reading "It's Just A Conversation" first.
Feedback is love!
It's Just A Session
Sequel to "It's Just A Conversation"
"So Claire, why are you here today?"
Claire stares agog at the trim older man sitting on the recliner, trying to gauge whether he's hiding a smirk behind that big, Santa Claus beard. She'd expected some tough questions to be asked today, but not this one. In fact, nothing about the day is turning out quite as she expected.
First she'd met Dr "but you can call me Mal if ya want" Feldman, taut and oddly youthful for a shrink dealing with a seriously disturbed person like her. He looks too young and friendly to be a shrink full stop; she'd always imagined them as sinister old men content to puff on pipes with evil smiles hidden under cordial geniality.
"Er – what do you mean?" She clears her throat, tries again to be coherent. Refuses to look at the eyes she knows are trained directly on her. "You know why."
She's so mortified she can't even look into Mal's kindly blue eyes. She knows they're full of candour and good humour; so very different to another set she often looked into, eyes of hazel midnight.
No, it wasn't good for her to think about them like that. Better off thinking they're just plain hazel. Dull, confused hazel and leave it at that.
She shifts uncomfortably on the couch, annoyed at how lumpy it is. Another stereotype debunked by this most unexpected of days. Aren't these couches meant to be leather and brown and comfy? Not only does she not have room to lie on it, there isn't even enough room to put a comfortable (safe) distance between her and her uncle to ensure no accidental skin on skin contact is a possibility.
She pretends not to see his hand retreating from the chasm between them.
"What do you mean? You know why. I mean, why I'm here. Why – why we're here."
When she'd asked Peter whether she could come to his next session with him, she obviously hadn't thought of how monumentally awkward an experience it'd be. She could probably think of – oh let's see – maybe three other things more uncomfortable than sitting in Mal's office right now, refusing to chew her fingernails because then they'd look ugly, refusing to meet Mal's shining, expectant eyes because everything would be so real then. Worse still, refusing to meet the eyes of a caring, handsome man she's totally in love with but who just happens to be her uncle because – well, there isn't any because. That's the biggest fan shitter right there.
Stupid, stupid Claire-bear.
She exhales, stubbornly trains her gaze onto her flip flops, bought from a cool little store in SoHo yesterday. It's almost 90 degrees outside which apparently is goddamn (when did she start swearing so much inside her head?) hot even for a New York summer's day which would be awesome because she's a Californian girl now and loves the beach, but not so good when there's a moratorium on all touching, including but not limited to family dinners, birthdays, anniversaries, Christmases and Thanksgivings. Gratuitous skin exposure is absolutely outlawed – Peter insisted on that one, which slightly offended her – as well as no one on one time, ever. They'd even drawn up a contract, signed it and solemnly shook pinkies, immediately breaking said moratorium.
The self-imposed moratorium hadn't done their issue – sick, incestuous attraction, let's be frank about this – any good, but whatever. One week is apparently a really long time when an uncle and niece have requited feelings for each other that are definitely un-uncle/niece like.
For example, she'd been idly combing the internet the other day, procrastinating from a sociology paper that was due in two days. So far, so okay. What wasn't normal and what made her a freak of gigantic proportions was that she'd found herself looking up the states and countries where she and Peter wouldn't actually be illegal.
As if she isn't already freaky enough being the mira-gro girl, biologically related to the largest family of uber freaks this side of the universe. Now she has to add incest to that list?
Then there was the Petrelli family dinner a few nights ago. Contrary to the familiarity of ages past, Peter had wedged himself between Monty and Simon, who didn't even want to be there in the first place. At dinner, Claire made sure she was super interested in the latest charity fundraiser Angela was heading up, completely ignoring her uncle.
Unfortunately their strategy had the entirely opposite effect than was intended – not that either of them were thinking that clearly during the week – and ended up fielding questions left, right and centre about their uncharacteristic distance.
Angela asked Claire whether she was sick; or maybe she was pregnant?
Nathan asked Peter how he'd managed to upset Claire, and can't he just ply her with chocolates and teddy bears as usual to get back into her good books?
Heidi shushed Nathan sharply, wanted to know whether Peter had accidentally said something to hurt Claire's feelings?
Simon asked why Peter was suddenly interested in Harleys, and could he lend his favourite nephew a few thousand bucks so he could buy one to do up?
Claire had frowned, horrified. For the first time, she realised she and Simon were on the same biological level. Peter was both Simon and Claire's uncle. Was Claire being in love with Peter as icky as Simon being in love with Peter?
But it didn't feel icky (Claire and Peter she meant, not Simon and – ew, by the way). Which wasn't really the point, was it?
The dinner, needless to say, was another one of those uncomfortable experiences Claire never wanted to repeat, like ever.
Mal's looking at her expectantly, hands resting on his modest mahogany desk. Peter shifts at the opposite end of the couch and thanks to its general state of deterioration she's propelled up and down, like riding the crest of a humiliating wave that has all the earmarks of a farce.
"What?" Two can play at this game.
Peter clears his throat again and she wants to throttle him. Can't he say something? Why does she have to do all the talking? This is his shrink, isn't it?
"We all know why we're here." Hear, hear. Or here, here as the case may be. "But the first step is for you to say it. Out loud. Openly acknowledge why you're here."
Finally, something she can deal with. She's prepared for shrink-wrapped words that mean nothing and it oddly sets her at ease. "I'm here because I asked Peter. Whether I could come to his – his sessions. With you." She blurts, still refusing to meet golden eyes shrouded in worry.
Hazel, his eyes are hazel. And they're too small, or maybe too large. And his lashes are too long, like a girl's. And those god awful puppy dog eyes, they reek of a little boy lost. He's too pretty, with that hair, and the arms, and the eyes. She hates pretty boys.
Wait, when had she decided that?
Mal's nodding, thoughtful. Plotting his next assault on Claire's sanity no doubt. "Good, we can work with that."
And … she's back to being completely puzzled again. "Go on what?"
She has to give him props for not sighing in exasperation. "Why are you here? What's troubling you?"
Oh, that. "The same thing … why Peter's here."
Right on cue, Peter clears his throat, again. Crosses his arms for good measure, if she knows her uncle. And unfortunately, she does.
Mal blinks his wide, blue eyes. They're nothing like a girl's, Claire notes with satisfaction. Squarish man's eyes that leave nothing to the imagination. "And why is Peter here?"
Dead silence, but she knows she's not going to get out of this. She has to suck it up and end it, right now. She's being a coward and she hates cowards.
She's the girl who'd jumped off a water tower and filmed it for posterity.
She's the girl who's broken at least every bone in her body and lived to claim it was no big deal.
She's the girl who'd jumped through a window, landing thirteen storeys below only to brush herself off to save her uncle.
So why can't she be the girl to own up to her feelings, no matter how rank and unacceptable they may be?
If Peter – her handsome, irresistibly cute, puppy dog eyed, incredibly kind, soothing, caring, nice, smart, super powered but in no way arrogant about it uncle who she has decidedly un-niece-like feelings for can do it – then so can she.
She takes a deep breath. "I'm in love with my uncle. I'm in love with Peter."