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sam_storyteller ([personal profile] sam_storyteller) wrote2005-07-13 12:16 am
Entry tags:

Cagaran Gaolach; Heroes; PG-13

Title: Cagaran Gaolach
Fandom: Heroes
Rating: PG-13 for some language.
Summary: He didn't know if he would disappear like the Invisible Woman in the comics, or if he'd disappear completely and stop existing. This is quite the existential dilemma for your average six-year-old. Of course, little Claude was anything but average.
Warnings: Depiction and discussion of child abuse.

Originally Posted 3.2.07

Now available at AO3.

***

As far as Claude knew -- and if anyone would fuckin' know, it would be Claude -- his was the first generation to manifest.

Oh sure, you got your standard myths and legends, and all that bollocks in the comic books had to come from somewhere, but there was no hard evidence that anyone before his time ever showed any sign of being -- and he laughed whenever he thought about this -- "different". Different was the word they used, because "freakshow" was a bit pejorative and anything else sounded really pretty stupid.

Claude's generation, raised on comic books, raised by parents who'd discovered comic books, they were the first. For all he knew, Claude might have been the first. He'd met freaks who were a bit older than he was, but none who'd manifested younger than he did. He'd read files about kids who had, but none of them were old enough to drive yet. The only thing they all had in common was that they intrinsically, deep down, knew something. Either that they were special, or destined for greatness, or that they definitely had power if only they could figure out how to use it. Commonly this was called "delusions of grandeur".

He'd been certain, when he was a tow-headed six-year-old, that if he closed his eyes and clenched his hands just right and thought just the right thoughts, he could disappear. He already knew all the best hiding places, and that was a short step away. The problem was that he'd never quite had the guts to do it, because he didn't know if he would disappear like the Invisible Woman in the comics, or if he'd disappear completely and stop existing. This is quite the existential dilemma for your average six-year-old.

Of course, little Claude was anything but average. Even his teachers said so, though they sort of sighed resignedly as they said it. ...a bright and engaging child, but his disruptive behaviour in class...

"What's this?" asked his father, shoving his grimy hands in his pockets and standing in the middle of the kitchen. Claude looked up guiltily from the sink. He was too short to reach it, so he'd dragged a chair across the kitchen, and true, it had left little scuff marks on the lino, but he'd planned to wash those off before Dad came home...

"Dishes," Claude said hesitantly. Funny, even in his memory he was Claude. Hell, maybe that was his real name. Memory got a bit blurred when you thought about being a kid, didn't it. Probably a mercy.

"What for?"

"Cos on account of they was dirty," Claude replied.

"Who said you'll do the dishes?"

"Nobody," Claude said.

"Ain't the place clean enough for you?"

The Council flat they lived in, on Dad's dole cheques? Sure, clean enough inside. The halls always smelled kind of like piss and the stairs were full of trash, but inside was fine if you ignored the fraying carpet, ashtrays, spilled ash, grime in the bathroom, and the sink full of dirty dishes. Claude could never figure out how they ended up with so many, since mostly they ate take-away.

"Well?" his father asked, glowering.

"Thought you might like if I tidied, like," Claude mumbled. He still cringed at the memory of that submissive murmur, thirty years later. What a wee pillock.

"Wouldn't need so much tidying if I didn't have you," his father grunted. Claude felt his fingers tighten on the plate in his soapy right hand, but that shifted the balance of the plate slightly. It slipped right out of his grip, crashing down into the sink. Greasy water sloshed everywhere.

"You did that on purpose!" his father shouted.

"No, dad, swear I didn't -- " Claude did have this to his credit, he didn't wait to be hit. He was a smart little nipper and he jumped off the chair instead. His dad, whose reflexes weren't quite so good, broke his wrist on the edge of the sink (Claude heard the bones snap) and howled in pain.

"You little fuck!" he screamed, but Claude was already well away, at least as far as he could go in the tiny flat. He should have run for the door, but Creepy Willie was in the stairwell round this time of day and Claude was more afraid of being grabbed by Creepy Willie (an unknown article; years later he read the man had been picked up for soliciting underage girls) than a thrashing from Dad.

He tried to get his breath back as he hid behind the dresser in the closet, one of the places Dad sometimes forgot to look. If he were lucky he'd realise his wrist was broken and go off to the doctor and Claude could get his wits back before he came home.

Dull thuds in the hall told him he had no such luck. Dad looked in his room first, probably under the bed, behind the grubby drapes, and in the toy bin (a gift from some charitable group long in the distant past). After Claude started hiding behind his bookshelf, Dad had moved it against the wall and bolted it there, so that hiding place was right out.

He closed his eyes and tried not to breathe. His soapy hands were clenched tightly, ragged bitten nails scraping against his palms. The door to Dad's room opened, and he heard him get down to check under the bed.

The closet door opened.

Claude squeezed his eyelids shut so tight he saw stars and clenched his fists that much tighter and wished himself Disappeared.

Nothing happened.

He opened his eyes and looked up into the face of his father, blotting out the dim light from the single bulb in the ceiling lamp. Now he did brace for the blow, but it never came.

"I know you're somewhere," his father said, loud enough to make Claude shy away from the noise. Still, it was as though his father didn't see him. After a second, the closet door slammed shut again and Claude was left in the dark. His father's footsteps receded down the hallway.

He kept his left hand clenched and held his right hand up to the slats of the closet door, expecting to see slantwise shadows interrupted by his fingers and palm. Instead, the light shone right through him.

A feeling of rightness that he wouldn't experience again until he lost his virginity (fourteen, Gent's loo, nightclub, Sheffield) coursed through him.

He'd done it. He'd Disappeared himself.

Cautiously, he eased the closet door open and stepped out into the bedroom. The lamplight passed straight through his body -- a delicious, almost physical sensation. He looked down and saw shallow indentations in the carpet where he was standing.

He walked down the hallway and found his father in the kitchen, phoning a mate to get a ride to the local hospital. He stood and listened, then stepped back quickly as his father walked to the front door and left. Claude followed, down the hallway, down the stairs, right past Creepy Willie, out to the street. As his father waited, he cautiously picked the keys out of his back pocket.

He watched his father get into the old junky car and ride off, cradling his wrist to his chest. Claude went back up the stairs and inside, unlocking the door with Dad's keys and then locking it again after himself. His left hand, still tight in a fist, was beginning to cramp; it would be months before he could Disappear without having to keep it in a fist, years before he forgot the urge completely.

Claude opened both hands, turning them upright. He felt nothing, but when he held them up to the sun streaming through the dingy window, they cast shadows on his face again.

***

Claude lay on the ledge of the building, heedless of the drop, more comfortable on filthy rooftops than anywhere else. No people up here to bump into him, no conversations to overhear, no secrets to come across inadvertently. Sure, when you're sixteen it's a thrill to sneak into someone's flat and watch 'em fuck, but the thrill pales by the time you hit seventeen.

He put the cigarette between his lips and held the lighter sideways, inhaling.

"That'll kill you," Peter said, drinking from a thermos. He'd brought his lunch with him, so that inbetween pummelings he'd be properly fed. What a fucking schoolboy.

"Thank you, nurse," Claude replied. "I'd almost forgotten. God forbid I engage in a moment of pleasure."

"I'm just saying."

"I'm not breathing in your direction."

"I'm not worried about me. It won't matter anyway, if I go up like a torch in a week or two," Peter said.

"If you go up, I go up, so you might as well not bother."

They sat in silence for a while, Claude blowing smoke rings, Peter sipping his soup. Aw Jesus, he was pouring it into the little sippy-cup lid, even.

"Can I ask you a personal question?" Peter asked finally.

"Do I have a choice?"

"When'd you find out you could -- do things? Did you, I mean. Did you know, before you found out?"

Claude inhaled, flicking ash over the edge of the building.

Fuck me, what was my name. Kemp. Someone Kemp.

"Robert Kemp," he said, when the name finally got past the tip of his tongue.

"Huh?" Peter asked.

Claude glanced at him. He still sometimes Disappeared himself, without meaning to, when he was embarrassed; this time he managed to control it with no outward effort, and Peter none the wiser.

"Reckon I did," he said. "Why?"

"When did it happen? For you, I mean," Peter said.

Claude blew a thoughtful smoke ring.

"Break time's over," he said. "Back to work."

END

[identity profile] almightyhat.livejournal.com 2007-03-03 04:26 am (UTC)(link)
*knows not this fandom but enjoys tales of invisible men*

Well. I liked it. And good for wee!Claude. Disappearing is quite the feat when you're six and scared of someone much, much larger than you are-- but quite a useful feat, too.

And I noticed Kemp if no one else does.

[identity profile] sam-storyteller.livejournal.com 2007-03-04 12:26 am (UTC)(link)
Hee! I thought you might get the Kemp reference. I was tempted to name him Griffin, but that seemed a bit too obvious :D

[identity profile] almightyhat.livejournal.com 2007-03-04 01:25 pm (UTC)(link)
Course I did! And shoot, naming him Griffin would only be a shade more obvious than naming him Claude. A very slight shade.

[identity profile] sam-storyteller.livejournal.com 2007-03-04 05:22 pm (UTC)(link)
Well, we do know Claude isn't his real name :D I doubt we'll ever find out what it was, though. Maybe; the writers have a habit of keeping back or concealing important information (Claire's bio!parents, the cause of Nathan's car accident, Peter's abilities) until they can cause maximum OMG amongst the viewers....

[identity profile] fox-of-no-grace.livejournal.com 2007-05-13 05:29 am (UTC)(link)
Whoa..really? I must've forgotten that little tidbit...when do they tell us that Claude isn't his real name?

[identity profile] sam-storyteller.livejournal.com 2007-05-13 11:37 am (UTC)(link)
Well, it's implicit in the fact that "Claude Rains" is the name of the man who played the Invisible Man for Warner Brothers. There's some interview where they say it's not his real name, but I couldn't recall which.

[identity profile] fox-of-no-grace.livejournal.com 2007-05-13 05:53 pm (UTC)(link)
oh o.o
wow.
thankya =D

[identity profile] skipthedemon.livejournal.com 2007-03-03 05:20 am (UTC)(link)
Sam writes Heroes fic! And it was good. Yay!

I'm afraid I don't undersand what Kemp my be a reference to.

[identity profile] sam-storyteller.livejournal.com 2007-03-04 12:26 am (UTC)(link)
Kemp is the name of an old friend of the original HG Wells "Invisible Man", who sheltered him when he was trying to make himself visible again. :)

[identity profile] ruisseau.livejournal.com 2007-03-03 05:21 am (UTC)(link)
Thank you for writing Heroes fic! I love that wee-Claude had a fucked up childhood (in the sense that it works for the character, not that I love that he's been abused).

Translate the title?

[identity profile] sam-storyteller.livejournal.com 2007-03-04 12:25 am (UTC)(link)
The title is from a folk song, and translates to something like "My little darling". It's a song about a parent who is certain (and proud) that their child will grow up to be a great thief. :D

[identity profile] happi-feet.livejournal.com 2007-03-03 05:30 am (UTC)(link)
I was a little confused until I realised I was out of my usual genre.

Interesting, though, but then, I always like your stuff.

[identity profile] futuresoon.livejournal.com 2007-03-03 07:14 am (UTC)(link)
Oh, this was lovely; hitting all the right notes on a character I dearly want to know more about. You need to write more Heroes--like Studio 60, it's a fandom in which I fear to tread, but in the hands of the right writer it can be so good, and you are most definitely one of those writers.
ext_3472: Sauron drinking tea. (Squee)

[identity profile] maggiebloome.livejournal.com 2007-03-03 08:25 am (UTC)(link)
Wheee! Claude is awesome.

[identity profile] pinkfinity.livejournal.com 2007-03-03 01:52 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh, *squee*.
You're amazing, you know.

[identity profile] sam-storyteller.livejournal.com 2007-03-03 09:31 pm (UTC)(link)
Thank you :D

[identity profile] farwing.livejournal.com 2007-03-03 02:33 pm (UTC)(link)
This is really awesome...I do need to start watching this show.

[identity profile] te-non-sum.livejournal.com 2007-03-03 02:35 pm (UTC)(link)
... Eeeee.

Claude is easily my favorite character (not that I'm biased 'cause he was the Doctor or anything), and... yeah. This was just yay. "What a fucking schoolboy" indeed.

Also, I quite like the comparison there to the Invisible Woman, and the questions inherent -- the "will I disappear like her, or disappear completely?" bit. Quite the existential dilemma, indeed. :D

I need a Heroes icon.

[identity profile] sam-storyteller.livejournal.com 2007-03-03 09:28 pm (UTC)(link)
I'll be posting some icons at some point -- Going to have to redownload the Claude eps to icon him up :D
trinity_clare: (hallelujah)

[personal profile] trinity_clare 2007-03-03 04:05 pm (UTC)(link)
Ooooooooooooh.

[identity profile] cleversimon.livejournal.com 2007-03-03 04:42 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm not sure I'd love Claude as much as I do if he weren't played by Eccleston. I'm also not sure I'd have liked this story so much if I hadn't read it in CE's accent in my head. But I liked it quite a bit for whatever reason. Yay.

[identity profile] sam-storyteller.livejournal.com 2007-03-03 09:27 pm (UTC)(link)
Well, I love Claude to pieces and I've never watched Who (at least not CE's Who). I just like how horrifically cynical and wicked he is :D

[identity profile] gypseian.livejournal.com 2007-03-03 05:01 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh, I love it, I love you for writing it *spews love on everyone*

[identity profile] ncp.livejournal.com 2007-03-03 06:11 pm (UTC)(link)
Dammmit Sam, You've gotten inside Tim Kring's head, haven't you? That's a really, really accurate portrait of Claude. And Peter too.

[identity profile] sam-storyteller.livejournal.com 2007-03-03 09:26 pm (UTC)(link)
It's what I do *grin*

[identity profile] jazmin-firewing.livejournal.com 2007-03-03 06:25 pm (UTC)(link)
Cool. I don't have time to watch Heroes right now (I'll get around to it, I promise!), but this was really cool. I especially like the phrase "Disappeared himself". That sounds very six years old.
I think I'm gonna join the chorus of people asking you to translate the title for us. Is that Gaelic?

[identity profile] sam-storyteller.livejournal.com 2007-03-03 09:25 pm (UTC)(link)
The title is the title of an old folk song, it translates to "My little darling". :) It's from a song about how the singer's child will grow up to be a thief. :D

[identity profile] thespatz.livejournal.com 2007-03-03 07:10 pm (UTC)(link)
*happy squeaking sounds* Claude fic! By Sam! Totally awesome. You nailed his voice - I could practically hear CE in every phrase, and I love the image of Claude lying on a ledge, smoking and snarking at Peter. I also adore that he disappears himself when embarrassed.

[identity profile] centricity.livejournal.com 2007-03-03 09:35 pm (UTC)(link)
Dig it. I am so glad to read Heroes fic. I haven't gone searching for any, yet. The warm blush of first love hasn't faded yet. But this was solid. Thanks. =)

[identity profile] elucreh.livejournal.com 2007-03-04 08:58 am (UTC)(link)
I am seriously considering hating you right now.

I DO NOT NEED ANOTHER FLIPPIN' FANDOM, THANK YOU KINDLY.

[identity profile] sam-storyteller.livejournal.com 2007-03-04 05:19 pm (UTC)(link)
COME TO THE DAAAARK SIIIIIDE WE HAVE SEXY INVISIBLE PEOPLE.

[identity profile] elucreh.livejournal.com 2007-03-04 05:41 pm (UTC)(link)
Okay, that? That tipped the scale. I will now proceed to hate you forever. *goes to chase down torrents*

[identity profile] sam-storyteller.livejournal.com 2007-03-04 05:41 pm (UTC)(link)
You can watch the pilot on nbc.com, as well as the four most recent episodes -- but I recommend watching the pilot, downloading the rest if you're interested, and watching them in order.

[identity profile] sparkysparky.livejournal.com 2007-03-04 05:14 pm (UTC)(link)
You just took my Heroes!fic virginity! This was great! Claude totally wins!

[identity profile] stvincent.livejournal.com 2007-03-05 12:09 am (UTC)(link)
Wow. That was really, really good.

(Though, I'm still just happy that you've finally gotten into Heroes. :D)

nice!

[identity profile] feanna.livejournal.com 2007-03-05 09:48 pm (UTC)(link)
A feeling of rightness that he wouldn't experience again until he lost his virginity (fourteen, Gent's loo, nightclub, Sheffield) coursed through him.
Sure, when you're sixteen it's a thrill to sneak into someone's flat and watch 'em fuck, but the thrill pales by the time you hit seventeen.

I love the part where these persons are real people and him sneaking into other people's bedrooms, how awesome is that? I would totally have done that, even if I didn't just admit this right now. For the same reason I can see how it would get old.

These abilities may seem so cool (and I totally want one) but they don't make you happy (no more than money does).

I do like Claude (even if I sometimes can be a little good kid like Peter and therefore don't apprechiate all he is like I could...)

Nice work

Re: nice!

[identity profile] sam-storyteller.livejournal.com 2007-03-05 10:30 pm (UTC)(link)
Thanks! I'm glad you liked it. I'm totally a Claude-type, so I do often get those "omg Peter you're such a teenager" moments :D

[identity profile] mystery-sock.livejournal.com 2007-03-20 07:42 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh, that's awesome. Awesome, I say. Great details, great character voices. Chilling story.

I have to ask though...
"What's all this, then?" asked his father,

Is his dad a policeman by any chance? :)
Image

[identity profile] sam-storyteller.livejournal.com 2007-03-21 01:44 pm (UTC)(link)
ROFL! Nah, cos he didn't shout "YOU'RE NICKED, YOU ARE!" :D

[identity profile] nina-ds.livejournal.com 2007-04-18 03:16 pm (UTC)(link)
I didn't catch this in my first trawl through your LJ - this may be my favourite of your Heroes fic so far! (not that I'm not really enjoying The Hiatus Continuations, but I love character work, and Claude is so rich with potential backstory - partially, I think, because CE tends to bring a weight and wholeness to a character that hints at so much, partially just because Claude rocks. For all his strength and confidence, Claude reflects a lot of damage.

[identity profile] sam-storyteller.livejournal.com 2007-04-18 03:47 pm (UTC)(link)
Thank you! I do think a lot of it is CE's doing :)

[identity profile] quarterturn.livejournal.com 2007-07-10 07:04 am (UTC)(link)
Congratulations, this story was nominated for Best Claude Characterization in a Fic (G-PG13) at the [livejournal.com profile] bestofheroes Fanfiction Awards! Voting ends July 23rd and winners will be announced July 30th. Good luck!

[identity profile] persekore.livejournal.com 2007-11-07 02:32 am (UTC)(link)
... this will seem to be coming very far out of left wing, but I'm so terribly excited to have found you again! I had [livejournal.com profile] copperbadge friended years ago on a journal I've long since forgotten, and couldn't for the life of me remember your username, until lo and behold, here I am and suddenly recognized the writing style.

And have now made myself look like a ridiculous fangirl which, I suppose, isn't really all that far away from the truth.

At any rate, I highly enjoyed this - the details you included in parentheses are simply wonderful, really brought life to the story. Lovely work.

[identity profile] sam-storyteller.livejournal.com 2007-11-08 03:13 pm (UTC)(link)
Hooray! I'm glad you found me again, and welcome back! :)