Fan Fiction Going Home Again: Chapter III

Claire Avalon

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Violet Nowak
Claire Nowak
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"Blue Genes"

Buenos Aires, three weeks ago...

Claire steadied herself with a deep breath as the nurse showed her to the private room her father was confined to.

"He has good days and bad," the young nurse pulled Claire out of her thoughts, "Yesterday he was fairly lucid. We try to avoid the news, and keep the curtains closed. He's still sensitive to light. There's a call button beside the bed if he gets agitated."

"You're not staying?" Claire felt guilty for saying it even before the words left her mouth.

"I'm sorry miss, I have rounds to make. But someone is always close by if you need something."

And with that, Claire was left to confront her father, whatever that meant now. It took her eyes a moment to adjust. The room was nice, for an inpatient facility, but sparse for the safety of the patients. Her father's salt and pepper hair was half hidden by a bandage, one cheek was marked with the greenish hue of a fading bruise. She noted a small cut above his eyebrow. Other than that her father looked normal. She strode the length of the large room, stilettos clicking on the cold floor. Why Claire always felt the need to dress up around her father was beyond her, maybe because the dynamic between them was more akin to two business colleagues than a father and daughter.

"Dad?" She asked tentatively, still retaining a few yards of distance between them.

The older man's bruised brow knotted with a soft kind of confusion, "Mija! You...you're grown up!" He frowned, squinting a little. "Come closer, I don't know why they keep it so dark in here."

Claire was taken aback. Her father almost never spoke Spanish to her, and her certainly never called her a pet name. In fact, between her nannies and her mother's German-American heritage, Claire assumed her first language had been English. She'd always been rather disconnected from her Argentinian half, inferring that her father relied on her pale skin, neutral accent, and English fluency to protect both the privacy of his business dealings and guard her from prejudice.

Before she had a chance to reply, her father spoke again, "Your eyes! Your mother always said they'd darken when you grew up."

Oh...Claire knew well that her eyes had been unmistakably dark brown from birth. She closed them tight, as if trying to teleport herself out of the room by sheer will-power. Anything not to have this conversation.

"Dad, I'm Claire. Do you remember me? You were hurt, you hit your head."

"Claire? No...no that's not right." the man seemed frustrated, fidgeting instinctively with the bandage around his temple.

Claire took his hand, sitting gingerly on the very edge of the hospital bed.

"Dad, you're having some memory problems. I got here as fast as I could," that was a lie, she prayed he didn't couldn't tell. "Are you alright? Can I get you anything?"

Avalon shook his head, more so out of confusion than in response. "Where...is Marguerite? Where is my wife?"

I'm not doing this, thought Claire, exasperated and emotionally overextended. It hurt to see her father like this, however disconnected their relationship. And she was not ready to unpack the knot of emotions unearthed against her will by a robbery gone wrong and a kidnapping gone worse. She pushed the call button, feeling pathetic. How long had it been, ten minutes?

The door opened quickly and Claire said a silent prayer of thanks to any deity who cared to hear it.

"Everything okay?" A different nurse appeared, for which Claire was extremely grateful.

"My father seems a bit distressed by my visit," she said in hushed tones, "perhaps I should come back another day when he's feeling better."

Avalon broke through the whispered conversation, "Where is Marguerite? Has she been hurt?"

The nurse, clearly familiar with this line of questioning, replied calmly, "No need to worry, Mr. Avalon. Your wife is safe and well. You'll see her soon."

The response settled Avalon and he reclined back into his pillow, eyes growing heavy.

"We find it's better to tell him what he wants to hear. He won't remember asking in a few hours. He asks about you and your mother a lot."

Claire tried desperately not to roll her eyes. "No...he's not asking about me. Marguerite isn't my mother." She knew this information was inadequate and her delivery less than polite, but finding her emotional tank completely drained, Claire left the room, her father, and the bewildered nurse, and made her way down the hall.

He's well cared for here, my company will just confuse him, Claire thought to herself, not quite believing it.

Pulling her father's black jaguar up to the gate at the bottom of the long driveway, Claire punched in a security code and drove past the empty gatehouse. She'd known what she needed to do, and she'd know it since she dismissed the guards. Maybe since she booked her flight from California. She needed an audience with the owner of those blue eyes her father remembered. Preferably alone, and realistically, not through a prison phone and a glass wall. And absolutely no one at ACME, even her fiance, could know about this.

Now... thought Claire, in a voice that sounded a little too much like her intended target, what does one wear to an audience with the queen of crime?
 
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