Notes: Angelface Universe, set sometime after Jimmy Novak was revealed to be alive and living as (the human) Castiel and accomplice to the infamous Winchester brothers. A big thankyou to OneLastCigarette for giving me the idea, and to Aithilin for her usual patience.
A note to any newcomers - it's highly suggested that you read Angelface first, so you have a handle on the basic premise of the AU.
Claire didn't talk about her father much. In fact, most of the time she went around pretending that he didn't exist. It was much easier than facing up to reality, the comments from her peers, her mother's quiet watchfulness, and the child psychiatrist she was determined never to go back to. She had only been twice. Once when her father disappeared, and again when he showed up on the news.
The first time she was ten years old and her father had just skipped out on them. The false brightness of the office still didn't detract from the judging stare of a woman forty years too old to relate to anything she might have wanted to say.
Claire remembered thinking that the psychiatrist was only using information about children that she'd read in a textbook, that there was no way this woman remembered what it was like to be ten years old. She remembered trips to the guidance office at school, where a nun with a degree in social and community service would show her the box of tissues on the desk and ask if there was anything the school could do to make it easier on her. While she sat there, stiff-backed in the overlarge chair (why did counsellors always have too-big chairs?), knowing full well that this was a secret assessment to make sure she wasn't going to act out.
Most of all, Claire remembered her mother watching her through eyes that were swollen and red from crying. She remembered the assumption that her father was dead, rather than just gone. She couldn't remember where she'd gotten that idea, but it seemed to fit with how her mother didn't want to tell her anything about it. All of their family pictures stayed on the wall and her mother never took off her wedding ring, so Claire had just assumed.
Two and a half years later when the man from the FBI showed up on their doorstep, just hours before the news story broke, Claire had been banished to her room while her mother and the man spoke. She had crept back downstairs to listen anyway, and remembered a feeling of numbness as she'd listened in. Her mother hadn't let her watch the news that night, but Claire had gone to the network's website and watched it online.
She was sent to see the psychiatrist for a second time after that, the office as uncomfortable and the woman as severe as she remembered. She'd decided then and there that she never, ever wanted to be back in that office, so she'd lied and pretended that she was fine. Doing the same at the guidance office at school was even easier.
The comments in class and at lunchtime were harder to ignore, but somehow Claire made herself act as if she didn't even hear them talking about her father. She ignored the sudden surge of interest in serial-killer culture at school, concentrated on her studies, and dropped several friends when they wouldn't shut up about Jimmy Novak and the Winchesters. (God, it was like they were pop stars. 'And now here's Jimmy Novak and the Winchesters, performing their number one hit, I Shot You In the Face With A 12-Gauge'.)
A few months later the hysteria died down and Claire was left alone. She watched her teachers watch her, kept her grades at a steady A-, and went to the mall on weekends with her friends.
Outwardly she was everything a well-adjusted teenager should be. She was a good student, a good friend, a good daughter, and even a good Catholic. She went to church with her mother, got along well with her mother's new boyfriend.
Naturally, it was too good to be true.
On the inside Claire knew full well that she was a wreck. She'd read plenty about basic psychology on the web, read everything there was on dealing with grief and possible depression in young people. She knew all about denial, anger and acceptance – she could recite statistics about teen suicides without needing to reach for any books. None of it really helped. There was no self-help handbook titled 'Help, My Father is a Serial Killer'. She'd done enough searches. One day, if she actually managed to figure it all out, she might write one.
In the meantime she spent a great deal of time thinking. She composed letters to her father in her head, never daring to actually write them down in case her mother found them. (She wasn't going to buy that one-way ticket back to the psychiatrist. Thanks, but no thanks.) Most of them started with 'Dear Serial-Killing, Possibly Satanic Dad...' Which sounded sarcastic even in her head.
If it had been possible for her to send them she didn't know whether she would. After all, she didn't know the man. She hadn't known him for years, maybe hadn't known him her whole life. The man who's blank-faced picture stared at her from her computer screen wasn't the same smiling father she remembered.
Claire never mentioned her letters to anyone, always wiped her browser history clean before she got off the computer (just in case her mother went snooping). The links in her favourites were to reference sites for schoolwork and blogs full of cute fluffy animals, a couple of online stores she had bookmarked but never tried to spend her allowance on.
Outwardly, Claire didn't talk about her father much. In fact, outwardly, you would think he didn't even exist.