Disclaimer: The only thing here that is mine is the character of Theodora “Thea” Frost (she’s named for my late dog, Teddy, who was a traditional empath and the poet Robert Frost.) I don't get paid for this; I'm just a fan having fun.
Rating: PG-PG13 due to language and subject matter
Characters: Claude, Thea, mentions of other characters
Pairings: None at present
Note: I started writing this back in April after completing part one of Crossing Paths, and have gone through 2-3 rewrites
Spoilers: Heroes season one thru “.07%”
Part 1 is here.
Crossing Paths 2 of ?
Claude ran from Peter’s apartment in a panic, his only thought to escape. He left
His mind racing and arranging plans and back up plans, Claude suddenly found himself with yet another setback. The bus he was riding broke down just over the Massachusetts/New Hampshire boarder, as the bus entered the highway running through
Claude was exhausted, between stress, adrenaline wearing off, and all the walking. Pushing on, Claude made his way from 93 to 28, and along 28 he found a 24 hour Wal-Mart “
Meanwhile, and a short time later, not far away from Wal-Mart, Thea was just getting off work. She worked as an RN on the 11-7 shift, in charge of the Hospice/Long term care floor of a nursing and rehab facility. For some odd reason, Thea had the urge to go to Wal-Mart. This was not entirely unusual, as she frequented that store both when she had been on the 3-11 shift and now on 11-7 as well. What was odd about the urge happening now, was that Thea had just been to Wal-Mart yesterday, and didn’t need anything from there per say. However, Thea had learned, over the years, not to ignore these sudden impulses to do things that seemed illogical. The last time she’d made the mistake of ignoring one, Thea had wound up in a car accident. So, as she left work, she headed for Wal-Mart.
When Claude awoke, he was understandably hungry. According to his earlier made plan, he found his way to the grocery section, and had a look around for something quick that appealed to him. Claude pocketed a few items, just in case, to eat later, then he helped himself to a soft pretzel. The staff didn’t see Claude, of course, but they did notice that the door to the pretzel cabinet was open as well as the tongs being misplaced. Claude continued to wander the grocery section, taking note of what was available. He pocketed a few more items then stopped.
Given that he’d stayed hidden for 7 years, Claude had a few instincts of his own, and he had the distinct impression that someone was watching him, so Claude cautiously glanced around; given what had happened with Peter via his empathic gift, and Bennet and the Haitian via the high tech goggles, Claude wasn’t taking any chances. There were no company agents; they would stand out like a sore thumb with their goggles, and Claude was doubtful that they’d go after him in such a public place. Claude spared the store security cams a quick glance, but he could tell that these weren’t sophisticated enough to spot him. Claude took a slow look around at the other people in the store and noted a fairly good cross section of society.
There was a mom with a young baby, trying to soothe the child in Spanish, an African American couple picking out cold cuts near the deli, an old Caucasian woman with white hair and thick glasses squeezing the produce and trying to make a selection; all seemed fairly mundane individuals. As Claude continued to look around, he finally spotted her: a young woman in her 30’s, in nursing scrubs, with brown hair and hazel eyes. There was no doubt about it: she was looking right at Claude.
What is it with these nurses? Claude wondered to himself, recalling that Peter was a nurse as well. He took a good long look at the nurse, just to be certain, and there could be no other explanation for her meeting his eyes, other than that she could see Claude. Given that no one else was paying him any mind, Claude knew he was still invisible. He also knew that the nurse wasn’t invisible herself, as he’d seen the old woman and a few other random people go up to her and ask questions. The old woman was just leaving the nurse to go back to browsing the produce section, when Claude made his move. He walked right up to the nurse, looking very stern, and demanded of her, “You can see me, how?” Then Claude saw something unexpected; there was a flash of recognition in the nurse’s hazel eyes.
“Claude?” she asked.
That one word question created so many more in its very asking. Not only could this nurse see Claude, she knew him. Claude looked her over again, wondering if he knew her. She did look familiar, like a face from a long time ago. Claude took hold of the nurse’s name tag that was on a string around her neck. It had flipped around backwards the name on it he recognized, once he’d flipped it right way round: Theodora Frost RN. Disbelievingly, Claude then examined the nurse’s forearms, and saw the old line scars there: 3 large 1 small on the left, 2 large one small on the right. The scars confirmed it; this was the same Thea Claude had met 11 years ago and rescued 6 years ago. “Thea?” he asked, still trying to take the rather bizarre coincidence in.
“Yeah. I thought it was you. No wonder I felt the need to come here.”
“You were drawn here?”
“Yeah. It happens sometimes. I get these impulses to do things which don’t make sense until I do them, or in one unfortunate case, ignore them.”
“What ‘appens when you ignore them?”
“The last time I did that, I got into a car accident.”
“So now you do whatever it is, even if it seems pointless?”
“Yeah, though, like I said, I usually find out why later.”
“You reckon you’re here because of me?”
“I’m positive. The sense of needing to be here suddenly got clear, when I saw you, and stronger still, when I recognized you.”
Claude leaned in close, “I’m invisible. You shouldn’t be able to see me at all.”
“I’m clairvoyant. That’s probably the only reason I can see you.”
Claude looked at Thea, considering his options and recalling his last interaction with her, 6 years ago. Thea hadn’t seen him then, not at first, but, shortly before he’d left her, it was apparent that Thea could see him, though Claude wasn’t certain how clearly. After all, Thea had been under a great deal of stress and Claude had been in a disguise of sorts for most of that encounter. When Claude had left, the fact that Thea hadn’t tried to follow him, made Claude question whether she’d actually seen him or not. Now there was no mistaking it and no question at all: Thea could see him. Given however, that Thea wasn’t an empath like Peter, and therefore not invisible, one of the other people in the store came over to her. He totally ignored Claude.
“Are you all right ma’am?” the store clerk asked. He thought it strange that the nurse was conversing with thin air.
“I’m fine, just talking to a friend on my phone,” Thea replied indicating the small hands free earpiece and mike she had on as well as pulling her small phone from her scrub pocket. The way she held it the clerk could see it was a phone, but not that Thea didn’t have it on.
His curiosity satisfied, the clerk left.
Thea turned to Claude and said, “Glad I decided to bring this in with me.”
Claude was torn as to what to do. Trust was not something that Claude did easily, especially not after being shot and nearly killed by a man he’d thought was his best friend. Claude was quiet as he weighed his options. While Claude did recall that Thea had tried to him warn about Bennet and had now done her best to cover for Claude, he was still reluctant to trust her. Claude was glad to see that his efforts 6 years ago had not been in vain, however, the fact that Thea knew his name, and who knew what else, and moreover could see Claude, made her a bit of a liability. Claude wondered if the company had gotten to her. So without warning, Claude closed further into Thea’s personal space, and shifted her loose scrub top so he could see her neck and shoulders.
Thea didn’t resist him and asked, “What are you looking for?”
“This,” Claude replied as he let go of Thea, and moved his own shirt so Thea could see the double line scar on his right shoulder near his neck.
“What is that?”
“It’s for the lucky ones. That’s what we were doing when you met me at college. We were giving a set of these to Brett and taking him in for testing.”
“You’re not with those people any more.” It was a statement, not a question, but Claude nodded anyway.
“Bennet betrayed me, just like you said he would.”
“I wish I’d given you a longer reading.”
“I wish I’d stayed for one and not brushed you off. D’you still read?”
“Yeah. My gift has gotten stronger over the years, case in point,” Thea gestured at Claude, in reference to the fact that she could see him.
“You ever go missing and couldn’t remember where you’d been?”
“Nope. Though I have reason to suspect that I’ve had a few close calls over the years. There have been some others in places who’ve vanished, my ex among them. Somehow, I always seem to leave before any of your former business associates show up.”
Claude’s original plan had hinged on the fact that he would be safe, for a while, in a place as public as the department store, but with Thea’s apparent intuitive flashes, Claude reckoned he might stay safer even longer. “You still live in that same flat?”
“Got a roommate?”
“No. Just me. Why? You need a place to crash? Sure, fine by me. Just be aware, my sleep schedule is a bit screwy, given I work nights.”
“I can work with that.”
Thea was suddenly quiet, pensive.
At first, Claude thought she might be going to reconsider, which would leave him very few options to cover his tracks, but as Claude watched Thea, he saw her eyes change. The tigers-eye hazel with black pupils faded away into two small mirrors for a split second and then returned to normal. When Thea spoke, there was a sense of urgency to her voice.
“Claude, we have to go, now. Fortunately, my car is close. You don’t have anything that’ll set off the door alarm, do you?”
“No. Just some cheap quick food.”
“C’mon.” Thea walked briskly towards the exit, Claude at her side, still invisible. The door system remained silent as the duo exited and Thea’s presence alone was enough to get the automatic doors to open. Once outside, Thea opened her car’s passenger door and made it look like she was searching the car for something to cover for her invisible companion getting in. Then she got in the driver’s side. Just as they were leaving the parking lot, a Primatech company van was pulling in and parking. After the van parked, 2 agents that Claude recognized got out and went into Wal-Mart.
“That was close,” Claude commented. He realized that Thea could have turned him in easily, but instead she was taking him to her home. Claude pondered these things silently. Claude could do anything to the nurse while she slept, and yet, she trusted him without question. This was puzzling to the invisible hermit, as he knew, better than anyone, how Thea had been betrayed. So Claude remained wary while Thea helped him settle in, but he wasn’t about to kick his gift horse in the mouth, though he would be watching for Greeks looking to sack