When Claire awoke the next morning, she found that it was rather late, "Damn," she whispered, angry with herself that she hadn't woken up earlier. Had she left before the waking of her family, she reasoned, then she wouldn't have had to tell anyone where she was going.
With tired eyes and a steely expression, Claire got ready for a day of reading before walking downstairs where her grandmother was already eating lunch by herself. Claire blinked unenthusiastically, before she asked, "Angela, where is everybody?" Claire's tone was extremely cold, almost as impersonal as the ice queen before her.
Angela looked up, her hazel eyes calculating, her expression one of pity, "They've gone back to their homes, Claire, but they'll be back for the party this evening," she said with a half grin.
Party? Claire thought to herself, nearly forgetting in all that had happened that yesterday really had been her birthday.
"The presents are in the den, if you'd like to open them now," Angela said, her tone far more cheery than expected, earning a confused glance from her granddaughter.
Claire nodded and approached the pile of presents with a smile. Nathan and Peter had probably wanted to gauge her reaction on their gifts, but Heidi had ordered them to give her space, knowing that Claire had been having a rough couple of days. Claire silently thanked her stepmother as she peeled the silver wrapping paper off the first of the presents.
It was from Peter, a beautiful ring, princess cut with an emerald residing inside, laying beside a pair of silver strappy heels. The card read, "Diamonds are a girls best friend! Happy birthday, my beautiful little niece. Love, Peter" Claire laughed, knowing fair well that Peter had gotten some help from somewhere, seeing as his last birthday present had been a two tickets to see the Mets.
The next package was from Heidi, Simon, and Monty, an elongated rectangular box with Spiderman wrapping paper. Inside Claire discovered a floor length Grecian style dress in a pale green with small rhinestones covering the area where the strap and the bodice met, along with two small popsicle frames with Monty and Simon's faces smiling up at her. The card read, "This would look marvelous on you tonight. –H" along with the messy scrawls of her two half-brothers.
Claire's third present was wrapped with what appeared to be chiffon, showing the bare box underneath rather clearly. Upon opening the box, Claire found a picture of Nathan and herself taken on her twelfth birthday, on top of a key and a note that read, "Be safe, Claire, I love you. – Dad," Claire wondered where the key would take her as it seemed to be a door key of some sort. After no concrete answers as to where it might lead, Claire made a resolve to ask him about it tonight at the party.
There where now two boxes left, one, Claire assumed, was from her paternal Grandmother, Angela Petrelli, but the other?
Claire opened Angela's first and found a new coat along with tickets to a Broadway show. There was no card, and Claire pushed the gift aside to discover the mysteries of the other present.
The gift was concealed in a small box and Claire assumed it would be jewelry of some sort. What she didn't expect is what she found inside. All that was in the box was an address and a lighter and Claire knew instantly whom it was from. Meredith, her biological mother who her father had paid off, the two of them had connected at Claire's last visit, after the young girl invited her up. Claire had discovered that just as she had the ability to heal, her mother had the ability to create flames, merely from her hands along. "Mom," Claire whispered, testing the word on her lips, "What are you telling me?"
Stuffing the address and lighter in her pocket, Claire put the other gifts in her bedroom, before sneaking out of the house, in the direction of the library. Luckily, for the blonde sixteen year old heiress, there was a library within walking distance, and she didn't have to hail a cab.
"Could I get all the newspapers with reference to Angela Petrelli?" Claire asked, knowing fair well that her grandmother was involved. The media specialist looked at Claire with an odd expression.
"Aren't you Claire Petrelli?" she asked, remembering the article last week about lawyer Nathan Petrelli's run for congress. The woman was sure that she had seen the girl's pretty face and name mentioned in the article before.
Claire nodded with a grin, "My English tutor is making me write a paper on the woman I admire most," she explained, the lie falling from her lips like a perfectly rehearsed song.
The librarian nodded, before heading back to where Claire presumed they kept the newspapers in order to gather all the 'Petrelli' articles. It didn't take long, and the woman smiled at Claire apologetically, "I have everything on Petrelli, will that be alright?" she asked, giving Claire a much broader search than she could have ever hoped for.
Claire nodded and grabbed the papers, before taking a seat in a deserted cubicle towards the back. The only Petrelli daughter stifled through the records of her family for a little over three hours, before she discovered what she was looking for. In a manila envelope, looking completely out of place among the records, Claire found a photo of her grandparents alongside many others, a few of which she recognized such as Daniel Linderman, the man her grandfather spoke fondly of, and Charles Deveaux with whom she had spoken just a day ago.
"This is it," she mumbled as she searched the envelope for something else that would give her a definite as to whether or not this was the company or not. All that she discovered was an address in Odessa, Texas. "That's funny," she said to no one in particular, "I could have sworn this was from Mr. Deveaux' rooftop."
With a look at her watch, Claire swore and stuffed the envelope inside her purse before throwing the papers back on the front desk and rushing out of the library.
Claire arrived home with just two hours until the party and she headed up stairs to begin curling her thick mess of hair. Claire finished her hair and makeup with thirty minutes to the party, her hair elegantly pulled up, with two braids crossing her head and curls cascading down her neck as if by magic. Claire was quick to pull on her new dress, along with the heels Peter had given her and the ring along with her favorite dangly earrings and her usual locket.
Coming down the stairs, Claire found that her grandmother was already waiting for her, ready for the high-class party that every debutant in New York as well as a few family friends fro other places would be attending.
"You look beautiful," her grandmother, said appraisingly, "now put on your coat dear, it's quite chilly outside."