Pairing/Characters: Angela Petrelli, Sandra Bennet
Word Count: 1,998
Spoilers: Through S4
Disclaimer Heroes doesn’t belong to me, and I don’t make a penny off of it.
Author’s Notes: Written for amles80 for heroes_exchange. Thanks to brighteyed_jill for betaing!
Summary: Angela gets a call to help Sandra with a problem she knows very well. But the solution turns back on her in a way she couldn’t have expected.
Angela’s driver was well-paid to be incurious where he drove the Petrellis. Doubly so now, with specials being outed only six months ago, and the Petrelli household at ground zero for the consequences of Claire’s jump. Even though Claire was far more a Bennet than a Petrelli, she had chosen to stay in the New York Petrelli mansion and spare her parents and brother the media storm that surrounded her. The Petrellis had experience in dodging the press and handling publicity. It had left the remaining Bennet household in quiet obscurity. This visit request was more than a little irregular.
Angela briskly rang the doorbell, and heard the yapping of Sandra’s little dog howling at the noise. She waited impatiently for the door to open, only to hear Sandra inside, shouting “It’s open!”
A curious omission of courtesy for a woman who prided herself on hospitality. Angela had read the reports; Sandra had welcomed Sylar (before she knew who he was), she’d been courteous to the agents who’d been watching her house in Costa Verde, and René had told Angela that Sandra had always been helpful and kind each and every time he’d been sent to modify her memory.
Angela pushed the door open, and then quickly shut it behind her to deny any prying eyes a glimpse inside. Sandra’s not-quite-a-plea over the phone had been curiously informative in its brevity. The inner side of the door looked like it had been hacked with a cleaver, the gouges in the wood and the metal lock mangled to scrap. The railing upstairs showed the same damage. Shredded bits of cloth and paper littered the floor, and Sandra’s overly-excitable Pomeranian looked like he’d been at the non-existent mercy of a drunken barber with a vendetta.
“I’m here.” Sandra’s voice was a little faint from the distance. Deeper into the house, the damage become worse. The kitchen itself was a wreck. Pots and pans were punctured and twisted, and deep slashes showed in the sink, counter, and stove. The remnants of a dinner preparation (chicken and rice with green beans) were completely ruined. A mangled iron fireplace poker lay on the floor next to the phone. Sandra herself sat in a kitchen chair, her elbows on her knees, her hands spread out before her. Gingerly, as if they were dangerous.
Without hesitation, Angela sat down in kitchen chair across from her.
“Well. I see why you called.” That was all she said for a long moment, and waited for Sandra to start spilling out her story. How she had been busily preparing dinner for her son and her boyfriend when she had suddenly began to cut and slice everything she touched uncontrollably. Of how her ever-helpful dog had nearly been skewered trying to jump into her arms. Of how Sandra had called the last person on Earth she wanted to see, for help. Angela had been in that situation before. Back when the Company hadn’t had very many agents, she had gone out alongside Kaito or Charles or Arthur, and later alongside their normal allies, to bag and tag specials. She’d heard dozens of these stories.
Sandra, however, didn’t say anything of the sort. What fear Angela had heard over the phone was long-since gone.
“Lyle’s going to be home in an hour, Doug is joining us for dinner, and Mr. Muggles needs an emergency grooming.” Sandra’s stiff silence shouted, unspoken, And what are you going to do about it? She was not pleading with Angela, but rather demanding that she deal with the mess. Not because Sandra was incapable, but because this was Angela’s purview, Angela’s responsibility. This was a bit of revenge for everything Sandra had endured over the past few years.
Touché, my dear, Angela thought, giving Sandra a respectful nod.
“Let me make some calls.”
Twenty minutes later, things were much improved. One of Lyle’s friends had ‘spontaneously’ invited him over for the weekend. Doug suddenly had a minor family crisis to handle out of town, and Mr. Muggles was on his way to a doggie spa and kennel. Thirty minutes later a Company clean-up crew descended on Sandra’s home. In ninety minutes, there was no evidence that anything had ever happened.
Only once Sandra had bestowed her nod of approval did she let Angela give her a ride to the Company headquarters to find answers.
“Let me see,” Angela said gently.
Sandra’s hands looked normal; her short, even nails tinted with pink polish, her skin slightly reddened and chapped from washing dishes. But there was a bending of light around her them, a distortion in the air. Force had hardened into a shell around Sandra’s fingers, faceted like a gemstone. Dragging a metal probe around them, one could “see” their shape, and a little experimentation bore out the evidence Angela had seen at Sandra’s house; her new claws were sharp enough to wound the wind.
“Can you feel through them?” Angela asked. Sandra nodded, a bare hint of nervousness in her demeanor sublimated by determination.
“Yes. A lot more than normal, actually.”
Angela was no scientist, but even those intelligent worthies that she employed had very few solid, concrete answers about abilities. She had no rational explanation for Sandra’s late-blooming ability, nor its odd shape. But many people did not show their potential until later in life. Peter had been in his mid-twenties before he’d blossomed. Nathan had been injected with the formula as a child, but hadn’t shown anything until his late thirties.
And as for the ability itself… they all seemed to reflect something of the person. Nathan, who could wriggle out of any consequence, could fly. Peter, ever compassionate, was an empath. For Arthur, who could ever have enough power, he had been able to steal abilities. Angela considered how many times Sandra had been forced to take up arms to defend her family. Destiny, it seemed, had taken a belated interest.
Or perhaps not so belated.
“What was happening when you nearly cut the counter in half?” Angela asked.
Sandra’s mouth twisted in a faint, bitter smile. “I got a letter from Noah. He wanted to warn me about a few things that Claire might not tell me.”
“A letter?” Angela asked incredulously.
Sandra colored slightly in anger. “He wanted me to keep it just in case.”
“What did he need to warn you about that he couldn’t call you?”
“Oh, this and that. He’d caught someone outside Lyle’s school, he was helping Claire handle the press conferences…” Sandra paused significantly. “Sylar is living under the same roof as my daughter.”
Ah. Noah’s cowardice with the letter made sense now. Not that Angela would accuse Noah of being a coward to his face, but considering how Sandra must have reacted (even minus the unexpected revelation of her ability), he must have wanted a few days to prepare for the consequences.
“Sylar is reformed.”
“Claire is my daughter.”
“Peter is my son, and he lives in the same house too.”
Sandra did not look convinced at Angela’s argument. Probably Claire had told her mother about Angela’s original plans for Peter. Well, no one would accuse Angela Petrelli of winning the Mother of the Year award.
“You wanted to know what happened, what set me off, Angela? That was it. My daughter living in the same city, in the same house, with a man who attacked her in ways I don’t like to imagine, plus all those damn photographers trying to find our family, and right now I can’t touch my son or my dog or Doug-.” Sandra cut herself off, high color rising in her cheeks as she held back emotion.
Angela put her hand on Sandra’s arm, sympathy, strangely genuine, suffusing her. When had been the last time she’d touched any of her relatives in the past six months? Claire was only distantly polite to her, Peter was still nursing a rather justified righteous grudge, and the last time she had touched Nathan or Arthur, they’d been dead.
“Then we’d better work on that,” Angela said softly.
Simple touch. Angela hadn’t expected teaching that to be so hard. She’d counseled agents before, those with extraordinary strength, or those whose touch could burn or freeze or disintegrate. Surely Sandra’s claws should have been no more difficult than that. And yet, Angela had to admit she’d been very narrow-minded in her previous teaching. She’d trained agents to be agents, to run and drive and tackle rogue specials. She’d never trained them to be housewives; they’d had to figure out normal home living on their own.
Angela had never laughed with them when a spoon had fallen to pieces in the soup, frowned with concentration in keeping a pen intact as they wrote a grocery list, or cursed in dismay as the fourth refrigerator door in a row acquired inadvertent slash marks. She’d never worked alongside another mother trying to be a mother, without servants, without old money and power, without a grand destiny for her children, with nothing but love for her son and daughter, and fear for their happiness and safety.
Angela had never spent so much time with another woman, another mother, without having some kind of agenda. Her society friends held barbs behind every bit of gossip, and her fellow Company founders or agents all held secrets of dreadful significance and dire import so close that it was impossible to relax around them. Sandra was like the kind of friend young Angela Shaw might have had, before her ability had manifested. How different her life would have been.
By noon on Sunday, Sandra smiled as she delicately picked up a thin-skinned apple. Her fingers made contact with its surface, no longer impaled by the razor-sharp field Sandra could generate.
“Excellent,” Angela said warmly.
“Wonderful,” Sandra said, with only a slight bit of sarcasm. Angela took the subtle insult without flinching; a day’s worth of practice with a potentially lethal ability under the tutelage of a frienemy was unlikely to endear her to Sandra, no matter the results. “I can handle a fruit.”
“It’s a short step from the fruit to flesh,” Angela promised.
Sandra’s eyes flashed with all the frustrations of the past two years, and the apple fell into neatly sliced fifths.
“I do appreciate your help, Angela,” Sandra said quietly. She extended her hand towards the Angela’s expensive suit. “You’ve done a lot for me, for Claire.” She paused, her hand hovering above Angela’s arm. Angela didn’t flinch. “For Noah.” A twitch of Sandra’s hand, a puff of air, and Angela’s sleeve was ribbons, though the skin below was intact. In spite of herself, Angela was impressed.
“But I don’t much care for what you’re teaching Claire, how hard you’re working Noah, and how you’re trying to handle Lyle and me.” The tips of Sandra’s claws stirred the hair on Angela’s arm, like the threat of a mother cat defending her kittens. “So you and I, we’re going to be the best of friends. I’m going to tell you all about my daughter and my son, about how I raised them. And you’re going to tell me what Noah and Claire are up to, not just what they think I should know.”
Angela revised her opinion; Sandra was less a mother cat and more a mother grizzly bear.
“And then together we’re going to help them like a good mother should.”
Angela felt a faint prick, as Sandra withdrew her hands, the distortion-force fading from around her fingers. Bringing her head up, Sandra held Angela’s eyes until she saw her nod.
“Perhaps you can teach me that,” Angela said, folding her perfectly manicured hands together. Hands that hadn’t lifted a finger to help her family, truly help them, in far too long.
Sandra dropped her hand on top of Angela’s joined ones, her palm warm and her fingers sharp. The grizzly claws squeezed her hands gently as Sandra smiled.
“I think I can do that.”