Word Count: 1,320
Disclaimer: Heroes characters belong to Tim Kring.
A/N: Boy do I love putting these boys in restaurants. Almost as much as I love the stupidly romantic idea of them invisibly wandering the world with only each other
Summary: S1 AU where Peter goes with Claude when he runs. Basically, invisible people on the lam have to eat too.
Claude can’t really imagine what goes through Peter’s head when they hear the news about the election. He watches Peter stare up at the television perched in a corner of the bar, the special announcement interrupting the constant flow of sport. He hasn’t talked much about his brother, or any of the mess so recently left behind. For his part Claude has let the ever-present concerns of food and shelter dominate most of their conversations. Peter has to get used to that, and soon.
But now, with it thrown in their faces, Peter lets out a small sigh and says, “All that work. Ma’s gonna be disappointed.”
Claude doesn’t fool himself into thinking that’s that, and so takes no surprise from the sullen silence that radiates from Peter once they’re on their way. It’s when he catches him shooting furtive glances at passing busses and lingering at a train station that he starts to truly worry. And then he has to laugh at himself- exactly what will he lose if Peter gives up and crawls back home? He’s a liability, Claude knows that. Knew it even as he suggested Peter run with him. Something stupid and selfish and human took hold and would not let him let go of Peter. And he hasn’t yet managed to convince it otherwise.
Night has fallen by the time they make it into a new town. It’s a small island of civilization along the river of the highway, so sleepy the only lights still on are streetlamps. Claude hears Peter’s stomach growl and catches the other man’s inward grimace. He glances up to see Claude looking and turns away. “We can keep going, it’s fine. Anyway I don’t see a diner or a 7-11 around here.”
Claude smirks, an idea presenting itself, “Who says we need one?” He bumps Peter’s shoulder with his own, “Follow me.”
He leads him another block down the street to a restaurant with a “SORRY, WE’RE CLOSED” sign hanging in the darkened window beside the door. They walk around to the building’s rear entrance. He glances back at Peter and finds him hunching his shoulders as if anyone could see him.
“Y’can calm down, Pete, we won’t get caught. Gimme a minute now. Invisibility is all well and good, but it won’t get you past a locked door on its own.” Claude digs in one of his many pockets for his set of lock picks. They’re not as good as the set from his Company days, but they get the job done, and he and Peter slip inside the restaurant. A small blinking light catches Claude’s attention, and he frowns, “What have we here?”
Peter follows his gaze to a small, wall-mounted security device next to the door. The read-out on a bright green screen gives them fifty-four seconds to input the numerical code before the alarm goes off.
“Let’s go, mate, I can’t pick this.”
He wraps a hand around Peter’s elbow, but the other man tugs back, “Hang on a second.”
“We don’t have many to spare. Unless you want to wait for the police and just sit very still until they leave, ‘s not my favorite but it is an option.”
Peter doesn’t answer, his attention is focused on the security device, his face faintly lit green as he seems to peer straight into it. He places his fingertips on it and lifts the plastic cover off, revealing the circuitry within. A few unplugged wires and the screen goes dark, the light stops blinking.
Claude lets out a surprised laugh, “How’d you do that, then?”
Peter looks at him, and for a second it feels like he’s taking Claude apart piece by piece, dissecting him with nothing but his eyes. They both flinch and turn away from each other. An uncomfortable silence passes.
“Another ability, yeah?” Claude manages.
“I- I guess so.”
“You don’t know?”
“I’m not sure. It felt really weird.”
“Yeah? Try bein’ on the receiving end.” He shakes his head, shrugging off the chilly, exposed sensation, “Come on, we’re in now.”
He flicks a switch, lighting up the kitchen in sharp florescent. The contrast always interested him between where the food was made and where it was eaten in most restaurants. Looking through the long open window that completed dishes were passed through, even in the dark Claude can make out a warm cozy dining area. Meanwhile, the kitchen is as monochrome and sterile as any operating room.
“So, I was thinking,” he says, “I know you’re not used to this yet. Moving around like this, not... not havin’ your own place. Thought you might like it if, ah...” he stumbles, suddenly unable to get words around what he wants to say, “You like to cook, right? I counted about eight recipe books back at your- old place.”
Peter blinks, eyebrows lifting, “Uh, yeah, sure. I mean, when I get the chance to. Got the chance. Yeah.”
Claude nods, “Okay, so... go on then.” He gestures at their general surroundings.
Peter frowns, “You want me to cook something?”
Claude frowns right back, though resists rolling his eyes. “I want you to cook something if you want to cook something, yes. I know it’s not as fun as it sounds, basically eatin’ out for every meal. There’s... there’s something to makin’ your own food. If you like to cook at all, I think you know that.”
Peter stares at him like he’s trying to translate a foreign language. Then his eyes drift around the kitchen, expression pensive. He gives a half-shrug, “Sure, y’know, I could do that.”
They explore the kitchen for at least half an hour before they can gather the ingredients and equipment to make a meal. Claude is happy to follow Peter’s direction, figuring he’s earned as much. Eventually a pot of vegetable-laden marinara sauce simmers on the stove next to a pot of boiling noodles.
“Pasta, why am I not surprised?” Claude jokes.
Peter smirks, “Hey, it’s easy and it’s good, so quit complaining and pass the oregano.”
Claude finds an easy smile on his face, can’t deny the fact that it feels good to make Peter feel good and bloody hell he’s far gone, isn’t he? He would panic but Peter sends him on a quest for plates. They end up sitting on the kitchen floor with their food and a glass of red wine each.
“Could sit up on the counter,” Claude remarks, fidgeting against the tiles, “Probably more comfortable.”
“And when’s the last time we washed these clothes, huh? Come on, if we’re gonna use someone else’s kitchen, we’re at least gonna keep things clean.”
“We’ll be washing up later, won’t we,” Claude says with dull certainty.
Peter just shoots him a look, and Claude wonders if he’s imagining the fondness he sees in it. He has no earthly clue what he would prefer.
They do end up at the large, deep, stainless steel sink washing every pot, plate, glass, and utensil they used. Peter does concede that he can’t remember exactly where they all came from, so they leave the squeaky clean pile in the sink. They head for the back door, and Claude flicks off the lights while Peter pauses at the deactivated security device.
“I should fix this,” he says, but Claude can read the tension in his body.
He lays his hands on Peter’s shoulders, “Leave it. The owners’ll fix it.”
“I don’t know how I did that, before,” Peter murmurs, “It’s like it wasn’t me, you know?”
Claude doesn’t know. He’s not an empath. But it doesn’t stop him from turning Peter around to face him. “We’ll work on that. Can’t be too hard to figure out.”
Peter nods, a tiny flicker of strength coming through the distracted fear. They step back out into the night, and Claude’s arm stays anchored around Peter’s shoulders. They walk through the strange silent town together.