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Three Ring Circus
Private story line with girl_ofsecrets.

It was kind of like falling into an old routine for him, dressing up and playing Golden Boy for the crowds that came to see him and his family. Sure, they all said it was for charity, to fight Multiple Sclerosis or whatever the cover was this time. Peter probably sounded like a man with a raging bitterness for charity work, but the heat was aimed more at his family. His mother, specifically. He loved her dearly, of course, but he no longer knew why she kept herself, her family in the limelight. After his father's death, he had been prepared for the Petrelli name to fade out, for the novelty of their name to finally lose steam. But it was as if Arthur's death had increased it tenfold, and now everyone was itching to peer into the glass box of his family's private life more than ever.

How frustrating.

So he stood near the edge of the room of the rented out banquet hall, champagne in hand, hair slicked back (God forbid his mother caught sight of those unruly bangs), suit tailored to fit him to the tee. He watched the crowd, the small throngs of people in their idle chatter, lightly amused. They all knew their parts quite well... not that he wasn't well aware he was committing a downright sin by lurking in the shadows.

Hors d'oeuvres made their rounds around the room, and he spared a glance at his gold wristwatch. His mother, surprisingly had opted for a buffet, and he knew the food was going to be brought out soon, as the appetizers were dwindling down. It would be quite the procession to watch, as this was a top-notch event and the caterers would not be able to disturb the flow of the party. So out they would come in a single line, buffet tray in hand, the other tucked behind them, and make their way around the buffet line to set their trays on the waiting flame before disappearing back into the kitchen. All in all, in should take less than a minute.

Peter wanted to get a good spot to watch (hey, it wasn't every day he got to see that kind of precision, EMTs flew by the seat of their pants), so he started working up towards the buffet line. Not surprisingly, no one else had an idea of what was to come, so he had no trouble getting close. Sticking one hand in his pocket, he took a sip of the champagne and smiled to himself as the first waiter appeared through the doors.

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Thankfully the the dinner went quietly, with idle chit-chat and talk of the next event the Petrellis were supposed to attend, which thank God they didn't have to host. But of course, Nathan had prodded him about a date. Brotherly love and all that. Shortly after dessert he excused himself, grabbing his things and giving his mother a quick kiss on the cheek before leaving.

The sun setting as he walked down the sidewalk, his mind returned to the disappearing act the cut on his palm had done. It was frustrating to think he was daunted with yet another phenomenon, but this time... he knew where, or rather who, it came from.

Running his hands through his hair, he tried to think of how he could approach her. He hadn't seen her at the hospital lately; either she was avoiding the ER or their timing had just not matched up. He didn't think he was appropriate to really try and track her down... was it even that big of a deal? Well, yes it was. Apparently she had a power, and he had absorbed it, which explained a lot of the other powers he had found within himself.

Frustrated with the conundrum, he turned a corner, not really paying attention where he was walking--and ran right into someone, knocking them back. "Oh my God, I'm so sorry!" he cried, reaching out to the grab the person's arm before they fell over. When she was straightened out and he saw who it was, he laughed internally.

"Claire," he said quietly.

Claire was somewhat relieved, and disappointed, that she hadn't seen Peter since their last exchange. She wondered if it was maybe their hours that kept them from running into each other or was there some reason that he was avoiding her? It didn't make sense to her because there wasn't a reason for him to considering the fact that it was him who was trying to find out things about her. Then she told herself not to be paranoid, it was just because she had finals that she hadn't seen him or anyone else for that matter.

Not that she should be paranoid or disappointed if he wasn't coming around to see her. It shouldn't matter. He was some guy, a little strange yes, but he was just a guy. A rather cute guy with an adorable crooked little smile and bangs that she kept wanting to play with every time she saw him but he was just a guy. A guy who had seen her ability and she knew that was dangerous. If her dad knew, he would force her to return home to avoid any risk of exposure.

It was playing on her thoughts as she turned a corner and ran right smack-dab into someone. She gave a little squeak, dropping her phone as she tried to catch herself but the other person managed to catch her arm before she fell right over.

As she straightened, she heard her name and so her eyes snapped to his face as his name left her in breathless surprise. "Peter."

Before he could really process who it was, he heard her iPod fall and he instinctively reached down to pick it up after letting her go. He glanced at it with slight curiosity--what kind of music did she like?--before handing it back to her and giving her an awkward, slightly nervous smile.

If this wasn't serendipity at its finest. "Out of all the people to run into," he commented softly, shaking his head. Not that he minded seeing her again in the least, and not just for the fact that he needed to talk to her. She was really cute, although maybe a little too young... pre-med made her an undergraduate, but it was obvious she was beyond her years.

"Are you ok?" he asked suddenly, realizing he had forgotten his manners. "I hit you pretty hard..." he licked his lips, giving her a once-over.

Honestly? She liked all different kinds of music and it would be rather hard to pin down what her style was by going through the list that she had on her iPod since she kept the songs on shuffle. She watched as he grabbed her iPod for her and she had to admit that she was a little charmed by the smile that he gave her even though she told herself that she had to be wary of him.

Still, it was rather interesting they kept running into each other. "I know." She murmured, brushing some hair back from her face as she reminded herself to not look at him too closely. He was older than her after all, he would have no interest in a young woman like her. He was probably more interested in women his age.

"No, I'm fine." She laughed softly, brushing it off. "I'm sturdier than I look." She waved a hand in dismissal at him before arching a brow. "Are you okay?"

For a moment he just stood there awkwardly, not sure what to say, and she didn't look to sure either. He had a feeling she expected him to leave then, now that she wasn't injured and her iPod was returned to her, but he wasn't passing up this opportunity.

"Well I'm actually glad I ran into you," he chuckled, "No pun intended, but I need to talk to you." He shoved his hands into his pockets. "Can we get coffee and talk? Something happened today I think you might be interested in hearing about."

Peter looked around, trying to find the nearest coffee shop or diner. Spotting one, he turned back to her. "Please don't think I'm... being forward. It's important."

Claire didn't really want him to leave but how could she tell him to stay? Wouldn't it seem rather weird considering the awkwardness? She was sure that it would be and so she didn't know what to say to him as she looked at the iPod in her hand before tucking it in the pocket of her jacket.

So it surprised her when he actually asked if they could get coffee and talk. She was sure that she shouldn't go with him anywhere. One, he was a stranger, and two, he had seen her ability even though she had tried to convince him that he was crazy.

So she surprised herself right after by nodding. "Okay. Sure." She murmured an assent to going for coffee with him.

He broke out into a relieved smile. "Thank you, Claire." He said her name easily, secretly liking the way it felt in his mouth and rolled off his tongue. Peter took a deep breath and moved to cross the street, naturally leading the way.

Ever the gentleman, he opened the door to the coffee shop he had spotted, a clear knockoff of Starbucks. Hopefully the drinks would be as good. Before getting into line, he saved a table for them, as the shop was unsurprisingly busy (this was New York City after all), and gave her a smile over his shoulder.

"What would you like to drink? And don't say nothing," he directed, immediately blocking the feeling she probably had to be polite. "It's my treat." He moved to get in line at the counter, suddenly realizing the fact the shop was busy could pose a problem for their discussion. They would likely draw attention.

Would she even believe him? Peter had to be prepared to demonstrate, he felt.

Oh dear, she liked the sound of her name rolling off of his tongue too, and probably a little too much. She had to remind herself to breath and act natural as she nodded, following after him.

When he opened the door for her, she gave a little smile and looked around before following him as he got a table and then headed for the line. At his comment, she laughed softly. "I wasn't going to say nothing." She smirked a little, an almost teasing hint there.

"I think a chai tea would be good for me." She decided after a minute of looking over the menu board. She focused her greenish eyes on him and gave a little smile, feeling her stomach flutter. "Should I go hold down our table?"

"Good," he said in playful stern-ness, before giving her another smile. "I wouldn't have let you get nothing, anyway," he confessed, nodding at her request of a chai tea.

"Good idea," he agreed. "My bag's on the chair, but that doesn't mean people can't move it."

He returned a few minutes later, two drinks in hand as he took a seat and tried to get comfortable. He took a quick sip of his iced coffee (a little weaker than Starbucks, disappointing), and cleared his throat before speaking.

"I haven't seen you at the hospital lately, are you still working there?" Maybe she had had an "incident" there too, but it was more small talk than anything.

She laughed, amused as she nodded her head. "I could tell, so I thought I should listen." She lifted her hands in a little in a show of surrender before moving over to the table that he had picked out for them.

Sitting down, she checked her phone for messages and saw one from her mom and a text from a friend who wanted to know if she wanted to head out to a party but she ignored it. She didn't feel like going to a party and honestly, she kind of liked where she was.

As he joined her, she took the drink from him and had a little sip before looking up as he asked her about the hospital. "Yes, they just gave me fewer hours while I did my finals." She explained. "I'm done now though." So perhaps he would see her more.

((I'm so sorry I've failed at posting lately.. getting ready to go on vacation takes a lot of time! >< ))

Ahhh, finals. Well that explained her absence rather well. In fact, he felt a bit guilty for assuming that she was avoiding him. "I bet you're happy that's over, huh?" he smiled. Nope, he didn't miss finals in the least, especially pre-med finals.

"Listen," he began after a pause, ending the small talk quickly. "Something happened to me tonight, and I think you're the only one that could understand what happened to me... but." He took a deep breath; Peter just had to throw it out there. She had to get her denial out of the way. "I healed."

"God, yes." She admitted with an easy laugh that bubbled out of her as she nodded her head. There was no denying it, she was glad that finals were over and she had a few months before she would throw herself back into the school life. Once that happened, it was hard to focus on things in the outside world but she figured it was a good shield for her secret.

Then he told her something happened and she looked worried, her gaze narrowing a little bit. "What do you mean?" She asked softly, curious as to what it could be that he would think she would understand. It made sense once he told her and she felt her stomach drop just a bit but it wasn't necessarily a bad thing.

Still, she looked wary. "What do you mean?"

He chuckled at her honest happiness about being done with school; it reminded him just how young she was. She may have been beyond her years, but when it came down to it, she was still a young woman enjoying the small things in life.

"I mean," he sighed heavily, taking a long drag from his cold coffee. "I healed. I was peeling potatoes for dinner earlier, and I sliced my palm. I know I did," he interjected quickly before she could disagree, "Because there was blood... but when I rinsed my hand, there wasn't a cut at all."

Peter chewed his lip and watched her reaction.

And it was easier to enjoy the small things in life when you weren't racing from class to class, working on assignments and spending all your time trying to keep good grades. So yes, she was definitely looking forward to the summer even if she would be working more hours.

Not that it was on her mind at the moment.

As she listened to him, a bit of blood drained from her features as she took a quick look around to see where everyone else was and then she turned her attention back to him. "So....you're like me?" There was her admission, the one that he had been looking for.

Well, that point blank admission was the last thing he had been expecting. As a result he gave a wry laugh, shaking his head. "No. Well, I don't know. Maybe." Peter sighed. "Is healing all you do?" he questioned. Best to start with her diagnosis, rather than his own complicated one.

((Eep, sorry that's so short.))

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