AN: Here is the next chapter! I hope you liked the last one! :) Thank you so much to any and all who reviewed, it is greatly appreciated! I am so sorry this chapter is so short, but I will have you know that it was INCREDIBLY difficult to write as I have had really horrible writers' block over the last few weeks/months. I have also been having some health problems that have interfered with my writing severely, which I am not too happy about. :( But I am trying my best, promise! And, just to hint at you all, reviews give me inspiration. ;)
DISCLAIMER: I own nothing but the plot and any OCs.
Claire sighed and turned over slightly in her sleep. She was exhausted, and had fallen asleep on the couch while trying to work on a report about Matt. It was only nine in the morning, but she had gotten up early to work on the report so she could drop it into the office on her way to talk to her future employer about some things over lunch at a new, reasonably cheap restaurant in town.
After being asleep for only 10 minutes, Claire felt a strange tickle on her face, and she scrunched her nose, moving slightly and sighing contentedly as she continued to sleep peacefully. She frowned as a distant voice penetrated into her dream, and she slowly opened her eyes.
There was a thudding of footsteps and the slam of a door, and Claire sat up slowly, confused. Then, she felt something wet on her, and she looked down,
She was soaked.
She stood and moaned. "PETER!" she screeched.
"What?" came a confused voice, and her uncle stumbled into the room with a frown. He took in her appearance and soon doubled over laughing.
"Peter! It's not funny! Did you do this?" Claire demanded, glaring at him dangerously.
He shook his head quickly, but she didn't believe him. She stood and began to walk toward him, and his smile faded as he jumped back, out of her reach.
"I didn't do it, I swear!" he insisted, but Claire continued to harass her poor uncle, still not believing his words.
"Then why did you laugh?" she demanded angrily, still advancing on Peter, who was now backed into a corner, literally.
"C-Claire, please, you must admit, it was funny..." Her eyes flared, and he instantly regretted his words. "NO, it wasn't funny at all. It was the opposite, actually. Tragic. Horrid. I am so sorry that happened to you. Whoever did it deserves to be...punished...or...something..."
"Peter, if you didn't do this, then who did?" Claire demanded. "I am sure Emma wouldn't have dared do such a thing to me!"
Peter gulped. "Well, there is only one person who would..." he trailed off, unsure.
Claire frowned, before it dawned on her. "He's here, isn't he?" she asked her uncle, and he gave her a pained and pitiful smile.
Claire took a deep breath, trying to calm herself. In through the nose...out through the mouth...
And then she let it out.
Matt yawned, stretching his muscles and opening his sightless eyes. He felt refreshed and ready for the day, something that had become a rarity for him over the past year. He lay there for a few moments before slowly sitting up, the bedcovers gathered at his waist as he slid his hand over to the Braille clock he had on the bedside table.
It was 9:30. Not too bad, but not too great either. Groaning, Matt rubbed his face and pulled the covers off fully, turning and swinging his feet out bed. He stood and walked around the room, his hands running along the walls as he did. Usually, he wouldn't have to, but lately he had found himself doing so for reasons unknown even to him. It just made him feel safer.
His stomach grumbled, and he walked into the kitchen, making sure he lifted his foot well over the step in the doorway to the kitchen. He had stubbed his toes on it many times, and had learned from his mistakes.
His bare feet slapped on the cold, tiled floor and he swung the cupboard door open, leaning on it as his hands ran along the shelves, reading the Braille that told him what food item was what. He found the bread, pulled the packet out and stepped back, tapping the cupboard doors lightly with his hands and left them to close themselves with a dull thud. He took three steps across the room to the bench where the toaster was, and he checked to see that it was plugged into the wall.
He put two bread pieces in the toaster and walked back over to the cupboard to retrieve his spreads.
It was shaping up to be a pretty ordinary day.
At noon that same day, Matt found himself seated alone at a table in a restaurant, waiting for Claire to show. She was now 20 minutes late, and he was confused at to why this would be. She had been there on time for their initial interview, and she didn't seem like the person to take too long to do things.
Finally, the door opened, and he heard her soft voice as she excused herself as she walked past people and their chairs before finally making it to their table.
"I am so sorry I am late, Matt!" she apologized immediately as she sat.
"It's fine, Claire. How are you?" Matt asked, shrugging and brushing off her mistake.
"I am fine," Claire breathed, happy that he wasn't too mad about her being late. "Yourself?"
"I am good," he replied, and Claire took her time to look him over. He was in a suit, as was usual in his profession, and he was wearing his sunglasses once more.
"I am really, very sorry I am so late," she apologized once more. "I was just getting some last minute stuff done, and I lost track of time."
Lie. Matt was actually shocked when her heart rate sped up, telling him that she was lying. Not only was it such a small thing to lie about, but she hadn't lied to him yet. He trusted her, more that he should, but why on earth would she lie about something so small?
"What were you getting done?" he asked cautiously.
"Oh, just something a friend of mine wanted me to write for him," she began to explain. "A character reference. But, I got it done and got here as fast as I could."
Matt decided to not pursue the issue any further, though he knew she was lying. "You smell really sweet today...sweeter than last time," he told her, and she paused, frowning a little.
"Umm, pardon?" she asked, confused.
"It's just, last time, you smelled like lavender, but today...you smell like honey."
She sighed. "I cannot get anything past you, can I? Fine, I didn't lose track of time, I just let myself sleep for a little bit, and while I was asleep on the couch, my brother showed up for a visit, and, as a greeting, decided to cover my stomach and arms with honey, so I woke up in a wonderful predicament."
Matt chuckled, and was relieved to know she wasn't lying about this. It was also genuinely funny.
"He sounds like a fun guy," Matt told her.
"Oh yeah," she replied sarcastically. "Real fun."
"Excuse me, sir, ma'am, is there anything we can get for you this evening?" a waiter asked, and Claire turned to look at him. Matt didn't bother to move his head, and the old man didn't look impressed by the apparent lack of manners.
Claire picked up the menu from the table. "Ummm, I'll just have a steak and salad, please." She then realized that Matt would have no idea what was on the menu. "Matt? They have-"
"Steak and salad sounds great," he interrupted. "I'll just have what you're having."
"All right, that's two steaks with salads on the side?" the waiter double checked, and Claire nodded in confirmation as he jotted it down. "Will there be anything else? Drinks, perhaps?"
"Just water for me," Claire replied, before turning to Matt.
"Water," he told the waiter quickly.
The waiter jotted it all down before turning to Matt. "I'm sorry sir, but I am going to have to ask you to remove your sunglasses." Matt heard Claire's heartbeat speed up, and he could tell she was angry. "We don't allow them to be worn inside the restaurant."
Before Matt had a chance to reply for himself, Claire beat him to it. "You can make an exception, sir," she told the waiter firmly.
"I am sorry, but there are no exceptions. We have rules for a reason, and they are to be upheld. There is a dress code in here."
"Yes, well, it looks like the code will have to be broken for this particular occasion," Claire informed him.
"Look, ma'am, I don't know who you think you are, but-"
"If you have any problems with my behavior, feel free to give my grandmother a ring and have a chat with her. Here's her business card for you," she leant over and handed it to the man, and Matt sensed the man pausing.
"That will not be necessary, ma'am. I shall go and inform the other waiters to not bother you two. Your food should be ready soon." With that, he turned and all but ran from the table.
Matt turned to Claire, and she saw one of his eyebrows rise above the line of his sunglasses.
"What?" she asked innocently, leaning back in her chair comfortably.
"Well, first of all, I am able to defend myself in those situations, as I have been living with my lack of sight and need to wear sunglasses for a long time now. And secondly, why did he change his mind so quickly?"
"I handed him my grandmother's card," Claire told him simply.
"And why would that make a difference?"
"Trust me, it does. Let's just say I have friends and family in high places, and as a result of that, I know how to get what I want, when I want and how I want, and today, I wanted you to be comfortable. So I arranged it."
Matt shook his head with wonder. "You are completely unlike anyone I have ever met," he told her in awe. "How on earth did you become so..."
"Bold?" Claire suggested, and he nodded. "I've learnt the best ways to get what is necessary in life, and I've had good teachers. I suppose some would call it arrogant, but I prefer to think that I just know my way around people a little better than absolutely necessary. I guess I have my father to thank for that."
"What is he like?" Matt asked, trying to make conversation.
"He was...absent. But that didn't mean I loved him any less. I adored him as I grew up, and always looked forward to him coming home after a business trip. Every time he was delayed I would cry myself to sleep, but the moment he eventually walked through the door a few days later, I would run to him. He didn't even have to apologize, because I just forgot all about it straight away. He was a good man, but...sometimes life can change even the best of men."
Matt frowned. "What happened to him?"
"He changed. Well, I found out some things about him I didn't want to know. I still love him, I just...all the secrets he kept tore our family apart, and now I can't even look him in the eye," she said regretfully.
"So who do you go to if you ever need help?"
"My uncle is always there for me, no matter what. He always has been. He's my best friend all at once, and I really love him," she explained, and Matt could hear in her voice that she really meant what she was saying, though her heart was racing. This was obviously bringing some things up that she didn't want to remember, as he sensed fear in her.
"I am glad that there was someone to care for you. But make sure you let me know if there is anything you need. You aren't living with your uncle any more, so he can't be there every time, but I can, and I will do my best to help you," he promised, and Claire smiled.
"Thanks, but I mainly look after myself these days," she replied, and the waiter soon returned, and Matt could hear by his racing heartbeat that he was nervous.
"I have your food, Miss Petrelli," the waiter informed her, and she nodded.
"Thank you," she said calmly, motioning for the him to put them down.
Matt heard the plates being put down, and felt the vibration of the table.
Matt scratched his chin thoughtfully. "Fair enough. So, when would you like to start work?" he asked her, deciding it was time to get down to business.
"I honestly don't mind. Is there any reason you would like me to start later or earlier?"
"No, not that I can think of. I am open to any time that suits you, honestly," he replied, trying to make things easier on her.
"How about next week sometime?" Claire suggested, and Matt nodded. "Does Monday sound alright?"
"It sounds perfect, but I do start work pretty early. In the afternoon or evening sometime maybe?" he asked, and she now nodded. "How does 6 o'clock sound for you?"
"Fine. I will pack my things over this coming weekend, and say my goodbyes to everyone. Thank you, by the way."
"Giving me a job, a place to belong. I don't like just staying there at my uncle's and not being able to do anything to really contribute. I am just...there, I guess," she finished lamely.
"I am sure they are happy to have you there though," Matt assured her.
"Maybe. I do want to be there to help Emma through the last stages of her pregnancy, but at the same time I don't want to smother her and Peter. This is an important time for them, and I don't want to get in the way of them enjoying going through the ups and downs together. I am also not a huge fan of changing nappies, so maybe I'll just time my visits right," Claire added with a smirk, and Matt laughed.
"That sounds like a good plan. So...tell me about yourself. What kinds of things do you like to do for fun?" he asked, making more conversation. Claire really was more interesting to talk to than other girls.
"Well, back in Texas I loved horse riding, but I guess that's a bit difficult here," she said, laughing. "These days, while I enjoy adventure and going out and doing things and making memories, I will always love that feeling when you smuggle up in front of a movie with a bowl of popcorn and just watch it until you fall asleep. It's amazing."
Matt nodded. "Well, I wouldn't know, but I am sure that is just as good as you say it is," he said, and Claire bit her lip, feeling sorry for mentioning it.
"What about you?" she asked to break the tension. "What kinds of things do you do for fun, in your spare time?"
Matt snorted. "Spare time? Oh! I remember that..." he trailed off as though he were reminiscing about a time long past. "I don't really have much spare time. I usually spend it sleeping, I guess."
"That doesn't count!" Claire exclaimed, shocked at his lack of social life and interests outside of work. "So all you do is work?" she asked, disbelievingly.
"It's not that bad. I like my work," he defended, but Claire was still shocked.
"Matt, you're supposed to work to live, not live to work. All work and no play will make Matt a dull boy, and I am going to find at least 4 things to do each month where I take you out and you can have some fun outside of work. All of your enjoyment can't come from arguing inside a courtroom! You have to get out and experience the world! I understand that it might be hard for you, but you have to give it a try. Please? For me?" she pleaded, and he smiled.
"We can try it, I suppose," he acquiesced finally. He had only known the woman for a few days and she was already taking over! The strange thing was that in some strange way, he kind of liked it. Ever since the accident that had left him blind as a child he had only ever trusted himself to do things, but it was nice to have someone else there to watch out for him and give him things to do. Between her and Foggy, he was sure going to have his hands full from then on!
"Good. Now, I have a question," she announced, and he nodded.
"How do you feel about jumping castles?"
Claire found herself deliriously happy by the time she returned home from her lunch with Matt. She trotted up the driveway and opened the already unlocked front door, kicking her heels off immediately and throwing her jacket over one of the sofas in the lounge room.
"Hey!" an indignant voice called, and Claire turned to see Lyle sitting on the couch, part of her jacket covering his face.
"Whoops," Claire said unenthusiastically. "Didn't see you there. Of course, had I noticed your presence the outcome probably would've been worse."
He sighed, removing the item of clothing off himself. "Claire," he began with a sigh, but she ignored him and walked away, headed for the kitchen.
She put the kettle on to boil as she prepared to make some tea (coffee was not allowed in the house during Emma's pregnancy as she couldn't even stand the smell). She heard her brother's bare feet on the tiled floor behind her, but she ignored it and continued preparing her drink, pulling out a cup and grabbing a tea bag.
"Claire, you can't seriously still be mad about this morning," Lyle told her with a roll of his eyes. He sat himself on the counter near the kettle so as to be unavoidable, but Claire still insisted on ignoring him. "Claire, are you really ignoring me right now?" No reply. "Are we still children?"
Claire sighed, slamming the cup down on the counter. "Look, Lyle, I've had a really good day that has left me in an awesome mood, and I am trying to ignore you in the hope that you will not ruin my buzz, yet you persist to irritate me!"
"Lyle, are you annoying your sister again?" Emma asked as she walked (waddled) into the kitchen, a plate covered in crumbs in hand.
"No ma'am, just trying to make amends," he replied respectfully, trying to get on the pregnant woman's good side.
"He was being a jerk," Claire confirmed.
"Ignore him," Emma told her.
"I was," Claire replied. "He's just an ass that never seems to give up."
"He will eventually, just keep ignoring," the older woman advised. "How was your lunch date?"
"You had a lunch date?" Lyle asked, hopping down from the counter, his bare feet hitting the floor with a thud. "How come I am just hearing about this now?"
"Because you're an annoying ass that doesn't know when to give up," Claire shot back, picking up the kettle and pouring the boiling water into the cup. "And it wasn't a lunch date, it was a meeting."
"She's getting a new job," Peter told him as he walked into the kitchen. He took his wife's plate from her hand and began to rinse it.
"And why didn't I know this?" Lyle asked, feigning offence.
"Because you're an annoying ass that doesn't know when to give up," Claire repeated herself. "That, and you only arrived this morning, and between rushing to get ready for the meeting and yelling at you there wasn't a whole lot of time for us to catch up."
"Well is there anything else I need to know about your life?" he asked. "Are you dating? Engaged? Pregnant?"
Claire smirked. "Nope to all three. Don't have the time. What about you, Lyle? Are you dating? Engaged? Pregnant?"
He rolled his eyes at her. "Ha-ha. Very funny," he told her, his voice dripping with sarcasm. He turned to Peter, who had an arm wrapped around his wife's waist. "She thinks she's so funny."
Peter snorted. "Yeah," he said, agreeing. Claire and Emma both glared at him. "It's because she is," he said awkwardly. "Funny, I mean."
Claire rolled her eyes at his weak attempt at a cover up and turned back to her brother. "I'll tell you who is pregnant though," she continued, gesturing toward Emma.
"Yeah, I noticed," Lyle commented, looking at Emma's 8 month old belly.
"Well good, because that means you're making dinner tonight. She's not staying on her feet for hours cooking food for you. Make yourself useful," Claire ordered before taking Emma's elbow and leading her out of the room before Lyle could protest.
Lyle looked at Peter with irritation. "Do we really just let them walk all over us like that? I mean, we're the men, right?"
Peter laughed and ruffled his hair. "So young, so naive. You'll learn eventually. In the meantime, have fun making a mess in my kitchen and then cleaning it up."
And with that, he walked out of the room, leaving a very panicked Lyle all alone.
Again, I am so sorry for the super long delay, I feel horrible! Please leave a review...