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[personal profile] black_hat
Pairing: Adam/Claire
Prompt: After Sylar's attack, Claire goes to Adam for answers
Warning: Unbeta'd and part of a longer fic.
Rating: NC-17 overall, but PG-13 for this chapter
Word Count: 6, 557 for this part



It had been a terrible betrayal to have to find out the full implications of her ability from Sylar. Her father should have been the one to tell her. That was what hurt most of all. She figured out she had to find out more for herself.

Here in Japan, alone, Claire focused on the light by the hotel. She took step after step, struggling under his weight but maintaining her balance. This situation still didn’t seem real. None of it really did, but in fairytales, the rough edges were always filed away. Or maybe they were just so dark they had to be buried.

Much like men who didn’t age.

She had come to Japan and had expected the coffin to be empty. It was three/fourth’s disbelief that there could be another one like her, but the measurement of her horror of someone—for a year—that was definitely more than half of her disbelief.

The world was not that insane.

Already, she remembered the darkness of the cemetery and praying she had found the right coffin. She never ever saw herself…uh, digging up graves. Yet another anomaly in her life. When someone was actually in the grave, it had been the accumulation of all her fears. And Claire was so sick of being afraid.

But since she had dug him out, this was her reality and she had to deal with it. The hotel manager looked out the window and hurried out to greet her (them).

“Has there been an accident?” he asked in perfect English.

“No, my friend had a little too much…” Claire made a drinking motion to her mouth and rolled her eyes.

She didn’t want to mention that the unconscious man had been hit with a shovel. Repeatedly. Not the best approach but she realized that she truly hadn’t believed anyone would be buried alive and remain living. Besides herself.

“Ah,” the man said and held open the door for her. He helped her to the room where Claire placed Monroe on the futon and then smiled her thanks at the manager.

Then she sprung into action, setting up the chair from the side of the room and propping him up in it. He was heavier than he looked, and yes, he was a human being. Real, live and breathing.

Claire tied him up quickly. Good thing rope was allowed in the baggage compartment in the plane. Nervous, she closed the blinds and turned, not wanting to leave her back open to him.

Then Claire sat cross-legged on the floor and waited. It was a slow moment in time, and Claire had a thousand accusations ready to throw. She had read the file out of her father’s drawer (hidden in the wooden panels) in its entirety. Every second of her flight had been spent hating him more and more. She tortured herself by looking at all the people on the plane and thinking they could have been dying, twisted and diseased.

A virus. A plague. Really?

Her mind saw what would have happened to her like a horror movie. She saw herself wandering among ruins, maybe finding him and other survivors or maybe just being alone, her family having been killed slowly in front of her. Her family she had just left behind several hours ago.

It really didn’t click that there was someone else out there, and if there was, she was going to…going to see the differences. Claire had never heard of a mass murder that brutal and cold and horrible except from a movie.

Claire was going to face this, too, and come out…resolved in some way. She was going to take Adam Monroe back to the Company, and prove something to herself in the process. She was not bound by immortality: not to him, not to Sylar, not to herself.

She looked at him, watching him breath, and remembered the dreams she had had before. Lying in bed, wondering what you had to be thinking…

A coffin. Buried alive in a coffin, helpless and done for—over and over again. She even fell asleep on the flight to avoid the horror and thought the cylindrical body was a coffin. What they did to him, full well knowing—Claire was chilled and afraid and upset.

So, really, Claire hadn’t had a choice in coming to get him. Her father, her grandmother. They had allowed this. She did have a twisting sympathy for him, an actual feeling against the numbness in her head and body.

Claire’s initial approach, after struggling with obtaining a car, had been to be kind and considerate when she dug him up: a blonde, handsome (kinda), put together guy. Then things had gone wrong. Claire had wanted to step back when he opened his eyes, but she swallowed back her fear.

“Adam Monroe,” she had said firmly.

“Are you sure I’m not this…” He looked at the grave. “Kaito fellow.”

Claire had frowned at him, caught off guard. He wasn’t what she had expected. “You’re definitely not a Kaito," she said dryly. “Here’s what we’re going to do. I know you’ve been through so much, but we need to—hey, hey,” she said, in the voice she used with Mr. Muggles. He was struggling to get out of the coffin. “Stay there!”

He made a face at her. “The hell I am!”

And so—the shovel incident had taken place. She had struggled for the taser in her belt before remembering she didn’t have a taser, and he was halfway out of the grave and she could see the reverse scenario happening, see him dumping her in a coffin. The shovel was in her hand.

He, uh, had expressed pain. For that, she felt terrible. To say the least.

She knew Adam had to be faking, playing dead, because that hit would have only knocked her out for a few minutes. She was completely out of her element. Her life would never be normal, and she was alone. Well, she’d handle it.

She watched him carefully and thought he looked young. Obviously but more than that, he felt young. His head was tilted back at an odd angle, and Claire was beginning to believe—irrationally—that her last shovel blow had been the thing to tip the scales and kill him for good. Go to a foreign country and see the sights and become a murderer!

But he had to be faking. Had to be.

“Look, I know you’re awake,” Claire said, trying to project confidence. “And alive. Alive and awake. Quit playing possum.”

She kicked at his foot. To portray toughness, yes, but also, she just didn’t want to get too close to him. Finally he began to move, his eyes opening like she had been punching him for hours. He tugged at the rope and sighed.

“This is completely uncalled for,” Adam said. “Usually I know the girl’s name first.”

Claire’s mouth opened in surprise but she regained her composure.

Truth be told, she was really impressed. If she had been locked in a coffin for months, she’d be rambling. She might not even be able to talk. He must have a mind of steel.

She opened her mouth to retort, but he continued. “It’s not that I blame you.”

“So I’m right to tie you up,” Claire observed. “You agree.”

“Not quite. I’m only saying that if it makes you feel safer to do so, you should.”

“All right then.”

Adam’s mouth twitched. Claire looked out the window. She was close to panicking, and trying not to. She had ditched her bio-mom at the airport and had basically used her to get the passport. Meredith was an expert at getting passports and giving her the right connection for this cheaper hotel in Japan.

Claire had lost her in the crowd.

“Where are you from?” he asked, settling down against his struggles.

“America,” she said, on the sarcastic side.

“Texas, more specifically, right,” he replied, smiling at her. Claire stared at him. “The accent gives you away. I visited a place there several times, Odessa it was called. That was the main station for the Company if I recall correctly. And I do.”

“When are you from?” Claire asked.

“Oh, that’s clever.” And he didn’t answer.

“I’m sorry about hitting you with the shovel,” Claire apologized. “You tried to get out of that grave, though.”

“How dare I.”

Claire tried to think of the next question. The flight back wasn’t scheduled for three days. Covering by a faulty sleep over excuse, she figured that was enough time.

“Are you all right?” he asked, changing tactics. “You seem nervous.”

“I’m fine, thanks for asking,” she snarked.

“Not in the mental realm, you’re not. You’re a raving lunatic.”

“What?”

“All right, all right. My mistake. You’re not raving.”

“I think that’s ironic,” Claire said, hinting. “I want to help you. I heard about…being buried alive, and I thought that no one deserved that.” He remained impassive. She looked at her hands. “I'm not going to play a game. I have a feeling that you were thinking about using that virus to-."

“You know exactly what I was going to do,” Adam corrected, with offensive casualness. His eyes were almost too intense to met, but Claire did so, clenching her jaw.

“Comments? Questions?” he asked, smiling slowly but charmingly, as if they were old friends.

“Is wiping out the world’s population the immortal equivalent of…” Claire began, thoughtful. He waited, ready for anything. “… ‘You pesky kids get off my lawn’, only writ up large?”

She saw a flash of anger on his face. Then he looked pleasant again.

“That’s absolutely ignorant of you,” he said.

Claire laughed. “Well. Ignorant me has a glass of water.”

She got up and was ready to be humane and give him some water when he shook his head. “I’d prefer sake. If you would be so kind.”

“I guess your liver won’t suffer,” Claire said. “But you’ll live with the water,” she finished, pouring the water.

“You’re all alone, aren’t you?”

“No, I have you,” Claire said, and here was the important part: her hands couldn’t shake. She walked over, as confident as she could be, and offered him a sip. His eyes never left hers, and it was as awkward as she thought it’d be. She held the cup in her hands, then, studying him.

“Thank you,” he said, politely. It made her angry.

“You created the Company.”

“And you have a gift for stating the obvious. Is that your ability?”

Claire shrugged. “I might have more than one. Your secondary one must be getting trapped…pretty much constantly.”

“Hmm,” Adam said, his lips tight in a smile. “Since we are being so honest with each other, let me show you another trick.”

His expression changed, and he popped the back of the chair out instantly, grabbing a broken edge of wooden backing in his hand. Claire gasped and threw the glass in his face. He made a face as it smashed against his nose but he didn’t cry out. (Even now, her mind couldn’t stop noticing differences. He hardly felt it. He had been faking with the shovel.)

She rushed for her bag in the corner of the room. She needed the knife. Something whistled through the air and caught between her feet—the wooden backing from the chair.

Claire careened into the wall, headfirst, and slid down it. Her body reacted to the impact anyway, her vision threatening to flicker to blackness.

He was on top of her before she knew it, his arm across her throat. She bared her teeth at him, horrified by how quickly she had lost control of this situation.

“Now show me yours.” Her vision was blacking out this time, and she reached her hand up to try and get his eye with her fingernails. He moved his head back easily. “Stop struggling.”

Claire struggled harder, trying to knee him. Being overpowered wasn’t happening to her again! Couldn’t! Her vision was starting to spin, and his blue eyes were getting brighter.

“There’s no need for this,’ he said through gritted teeth.

She kept struggling, but she had a plan. He’d go ahead and kill her. And then she’d get the upper hand on him when he least expected it. But his eyes arrested on her hand and he suddenly let air flood back into her throat. She coughed despite herself and tried to see what he had seen.

One shard of glass was sticking out of her palm. But the other cuts were fading. He pulled out the shard, and Claire couldn’t do a thing to hide her healing ability as he kept her pinned down. She smirked at him but her smirk faded as he stared at her in a whole new way.

“I see we have something in common.”

Then he increased the pressure around her neck tenfold. She struggled weakly, her feet hitting the floor in a frantic beat, hoping the manager would at least walk in (he was going to dump her in his coffin, she just knew it)…and then she sank into darkness.

And woke up into darkness. There was the smell of must and age, and Claire shook her head. She squinted in the gloom and saw the sheen of armor in the corner. She was on an even older futon, and she scrambled up, looking at the ceiling that was really the floor of the building above. Light streamed through the cracks.

There were footsteps above her. They stopped.

Claire patted her pockets. Of course. No phone. Scared, she drifted along the walls, searching for a way out. There was none. A metallic grinding sound directed her attention to the side of the wall. It was a dumbwaiter? What?

She crept towards it, and slid it open. On a tray was some sort of sushi. Along with a cup of sake. Under the plate was a note. It was hard to read with the lack of light, but Claire held it close to her face where it trembled in her fingers.

I’m stepping out for the day. But I’ll be back quickly (as I’m sure you want me to be) and we’ll have a chat.

-Adam

P.S. Enjoy the drink. With our powers, you just savor the taste.


The tray jerked and she grabbed the plate and glass, almost dropping them completely. The dumbwaiter was lifted back up, and she listened, heart-beating in her chest, as the footsteps moved around the room and then faded.

She was left in the darkness.

Trapped.

***

“I’m not going to do what you’re afraid of.”

There was a silence while Claire tried to figure her next move. He was drawing it out, the sleaze.

“You’ll have to be more specific,” she called up through the floorboards. He had to be talking about one thing only though. Keeping her down there for months up to years.

“It'd help someone in your position to be more humble."

"I'm not going to beg," she said simply. Hopefully, he was at an impasse. If he backed down now...she didn't think his ego would. She waited, holding her breath, and heard a metallic whine.

Claire looked up and a small trapdoor opened. A ladder was lowered down slowly.

“Come on up. No need to ask permission.”

That was it. She had had it. Enough of his devil-may-care crap. Claire grabbed the rung and climbed, determined to…do something. She didn’t know what, but she’d figure it out.

Adam was standing away from the small door when she made it to the top. Now, he looked completely comfortable and sure of himself in a new suit. “We got off to a bad start, you and I.”

“You choked me to death.”

“And tied a rope around your neck to keep you dead while I moved you, I know,” he added, and she raised her eyebrows. “But you did inflict blunt object trauma on my person and…you scratched me. Therefore, we are even. Take note of the table.”

Claire glanced towards a small table with a cloth covering it. He had wine there. To coin a Lyle-phrase, fuck that.

“The middle of the table,” he said. “I got you a new cell-phone. Yours broke in the scuffle. They can entirely transfer the memory card now, you know? Amazing…There’s cash, from me, and your ticket home.”

“I’m not going anywhere without you,” she said, determined.

“You do move fast, don’t you?” Adam asked.

“Keep trying to disarm with lame attempts at humor,” Claire said dryly.

He narrowed his eyes at her, but she saw a challenge in his smile. “I still didn’t catch the name.”

Then he moved closer. She didn’t back away but she was prepared for anything. He held out his hand. Apparently for her to shake.

She crossed her arms. He stood there and seemed prepared to stand there all day. Thank god for Meredith's fake passport. He wouldn't know her last name, and she figured she could get back in time to warn her family. If he dad would listen to her this time, that is.

She got a hold of her fear and took his hand, answering the challenge. His skin didn’t feel old at all. “My real name is Claire.”

He waited for her last name and she shook her head. “My family has nothing to do with this. This is between us.”

“So you do have a family presently? I thought as much. You didn’t seem too old…”

Claire narrowed her eyes. How much worse could this get? She had to think quicker.

“Like an old soul, is all I meant. Do you want to leave now, or-.”

“I said I’m not leaving.”

“Your choice. Then by all means, take a seat.”

Claire did so promptly, just so he couldn’t pull her chair out for her after he had just killed her.

“Why did you really come and find me?” Adam asked.

She met his eyes, not wavering. “I came to get you out. Honestly, though, I wasn’t even sure you would exist. It’s hard to imagine, living that long.”

“You really are young. And you don’t want this power,” he said. She started at his accurate judgment. He smiled to himself. “You were going to hide it from me.”

Claire couldn’t hold back. “How could anyone want this power?”

She knew it was coming. He was all smirky. She knew the reply she’d get. And she got it. “Not dying could be a part of the appeal but I’m sure it’d be not paying for an insurance policy that’d really seal the deal.”

“Even after being trapped?” Claire persisted. “How did you even keep it together?”

He was quiet for a moment, and she didn’t want to admire him one little bit for him toughing it out like he had.

Claire could tell he was basing his answer off of her. It would change with the audience. Only, this was different because she had this ability too. There was some instinct inside of her that told her that she’d be able to tell when he lied.

“I thought about what I was going do to the man who buried me alive. When I got out.”

He was telling the truth. Her thoughts never let Sylar get too far away from her either.

“You know…most of the world would kill for this ability.” As if she didn’t.

“Someone did,” Claire answered, and it was his turn to look confused. She savored it and went on, reaching for her glass. “It’s the choice. Either you live alone, or you kill yourself some day.”

“Well. That’s a first for me. Aren’t you a right ray of sunshine.”

“You can’t tell me you never thought of it in four hundred years.”

“All right, I won’t tell you. But if you wanted to engage my sympathies…” He touched her arm with one hand, wrapped his hand around the back of her neck. She shuddered a bit, feeling something, and was determined to meet his eyes. “You’d best up the ante because I’m busy feeling sorry for my own grave situation.”

She smiled a little because…that was true. “Okay, fair enough. I’m uh, sorry for the shovel. I might have panicked.”

“Might have,” he observed.

“I would have just tasered you but I couldn’t get the taser on the plane.”

She had meant her statement in complete sincerity. It was her explanation as to why there was a shovel directly involved in subduing him (a term she was sure her dad would have used).

He burst out laughing.

"I guess it's lucky I panicked," she interrupted.

He shrugged, and there was a dangerous undercurrent. Something emotionally unavailable and disengaged. Like sunshine covering up a polar icecap.

“How much pain did you feel?” she pressed on.

He smirked at her eagerness, made a game of it.

“I didn’t mean it like it sounded.”

“You could have fooled me, judging by your choice of attire,” he said, looking at her all-black outfit.

“Ew,” she commented.

“I don’t have that much pain at all.” She refused to believe it. “It suits my personality. I’m wondering how a personality like yours came to evolve my power, though. Puzzling.”

Claire’s eyes widened. “You think that’s why I have this. That there’s something in my personality that hates being normal-.”

“I don’t think. I know. The chemistry, once more. Our research was hinting at it, and we had very good evidence for the theory.”

She studied him. “What does the power say about you?”

He started (only slightly) and then grinned. “I suppose I walked into that.”

“Intentionally.”

It might be her imagination that he was enjoying himself: only it wasn’t her imagination and he was enjoying himself.

“Hmm, there’s obviously variations in this power, as I don’t like pain and suffering as much as you do. All the experiences, all the living, is beyond compare. Constant sensation, intellectual stimulation. As long as you stay away from the more boring areas of life, that is…”

“You weren’t lonely once?” Claire asked. “I find that hard to believe.”

“You would.”

“All right, I’ll bite. What does that mean?” she said.

“ Something tells me you’re lonely when you’re not even alone. You have a present family and yet you’re here. Alone,” he added, after a pause. “That’s interesting and rather tragic. If not…well.”

Her head jerked up and now she was angry. “And because you’re a big fan of the world and never felt any way but perfect, you decide to kill everyone in it.”

“Make myself more lonely? Is that the logic you’re aiming for?” Adam asked. “I’m afraid your teenage pop psychology magazines have misinformed you.”

“Hurt others because you were hurt.”

He sipped his wine, looking amused. Too amused, maybe.

“More like, heal others, because I’m a healer. As are you. We are meant heal more than just people, you know."

Like the world's problems. It was what he was getting at. That was pretty much just defining himself by this power. She felt that...she felt like what he was saying was true. Deep down, something instinctual told her that her power could be bigger than her.

But she didn't want to be defined just by an ability she didn't chose to have. He obviously didn't have a problem with it at all.

"Therefore," he continued. "I wouldn’t be involved in the creation of the virus as you were led to believe. I was framed."

"I don’t believe you," she said instantly.

“Why?” he asked. “I’m curious. I’ve been the one assaulted and trapped and beaten.”

“One, they would have let the virus out anyway.”

“The formula could have been a binary component,” he said, easily. “I destroyed the first part, the catalyst, before I was caught. Set them back a few years.”

“Two,” Claire said, knowing a thing or two about peer-pressure. “People with like ideas hang out together most of the time. I know the kind of ideas that are in the Company involving big cities and mass murder. Like minds, and I figure…someone started those ideas, or at least, didn’t mind hanging around with people who prompted those ideas. And all those ideas were grotesque anyway.”

“Usually these arguments come in threes. What’s your third reason?”

“I just…have a feeling,” she said, “that being alive so long could be a problem.”

“For one out of two people, and I’m not talking about myself.”

“There’s a fourth reason. I don’t think anyone who was really unfairly blamed would want me to take a chance with something that big. You’d give me evidence, not just your words.”

He stared at her, considering his options and then deciding. “True. Then yes. I was intending to save the world. Very good accusations, is one of your parents a lawyer by any chance?”

“Actually yeah, he… he was.”

Adam rolled his eyes at her hesitation, and she hid her clenched fists underneath the table.

“You should be happy,” he said. “Your mission is a success. This is why you came here, after all, to look at me and say I’m a monster?”

“No, that’s not why, I did come to help-.”

“God, but you’re a bad liar.”

That stopped her cold. “You think I’d let someone stay trapped like that? Uh. No. Most sane people wouldn’t have.”

“Most sane people wouldn’t be here. It doesn’t directly concern them, and they wouldn’t have come alone.”

“So you still think I’m a lunatic,” she said, smiling slightly because this conversation wasn’t what she had pictured in her mind. “I must be, because even if I wasn’t involved, I deeply doubt I’d have just sat I mean, I’ve not always been the best person, but that’s pretty extreme.”

“You often travel great distances to rescue every stranger you hear about?”

“Just the person only I know about,” Claire said, severely. This was insane.

He looked at the glass on the table, un-sunny and fake for a moment. “All right, perhaps your lunacy is an immature form of bravery, and concern had a factor in it, albeit of a self-righteous flavor.”

“Thanks, I think.”

“All the other factors are that I’m like you, and you wanted to access the damage privately.”

Claire wondered what he thought of another immortal being around but he kept his poker face on. She was definitely failing in that regard. She was immortal. Immortal.

“Yeah, sure. That’s true. But now I don’t want to make the call on whatever it is you’re about. None of this—and I mean none of it—is normal.”

“Define normal. Or any of its virtues..”

“Normal is not wanting to kill the person who caught you before. I’d say that’d be a virtue.”

“Certainly, I want to kill him before he gets his Nazi hands on me again. I’m sure you can’t relate.” He was baiting her but he noticed that her poker face was non-existence.

“Yes I can. I want…to hurt the thing that attacked me,” Claire said, knowing she had hit some nerve in this untouchable man.

“…I missed that part the first time around.”

“You can feel some pain still?” Claire asked.

“So sorry to disappoint.”

“I could before…there’s this other special that can take people’s powers. He saws off their skull and eats…well, he said he doesn’t eat their brains, but the brains are gone.”

“Brains?” Adam asked and then looked at his glass and grimaced, giving up on the wine.

“Yes. He calls himself Sylar and he can look at your brain, and touch it, and take your power somehow. He took mine.”

Adam’s caviler expression turned into one of intense scrutiny . “Really.”

Claire nodded. “Now I can’t feel any pain.”

That got his attention. "Not a thing?" he asked.

"No," she said. That was all she needed to say. He'd get the message, surely. He'd understand, and she half hated him for it.

"Well." He paused. “Only sooner rather than later. This state, this condition, was always where you were heading.”

“No. No, you’re wrong. It was him,” Claire said, adamantly and incensed, and Adam flippantly hand-waved her concerns.

“Think what you want."

"You're lying," she said. "You know this is completely different."

Now he wasn't looking at her.

"I do. I can barely feel it, but it's never...well. You can only look at it as a positive. A plus, which in some ways, it is. In some ways, it is not, but in several, it is. It's what you have to do."

"I know. I don't have a choice," she said.

"No you don't. The quicker you learn that..." Claire tried to read his expression, but he was moving on a little too quickly. "But Sylar let you live.”

“I’m sure you get the point of why.”

“Yes. I haven’t met him, but his personality would desire a constant feedback and attention, it seems, that would guarantee your survival. Is that your assessment?”

Claire looked away, a bit…uh, taken back. “That’s probably right. I guess I read too much into everything, though. Since I’m the only one who’s lonely.”

“Eh, that’s every boring sod on the planet,” he said, distantly, thinking of Sylar more than her, which did bother her. And ‘boring sod’. What the hell? “Myself excluded, naturally,” he added. “I’ve always enjoyed the present company. I remember my wives fondly.”

“Wait. How many wives are we talking about?”

“Twelve.”

“Twelve. Wow…” She hadn’t expected that. “I see you move on.”

“I do. You can have more than one…significant other,” he challenged. No, she mentally thought. Unlikely.

“What did they do when you didn’t age?”

“I disappeared for several of them, sometimes leaving a sum of money behind. That lessened their suffering immensely,” he joked, at her expression.

“Jesus,” Claire said, disgusted. Maybe she should leave, right now. She’d call her dad and then report this-

“Wait. A moment,” Adam said, holding up a hand. “You’re…fairly frustrating. You hold as much sensitivity as the blunt object you bludgeoned me to death with.”

She had obviously bothered him, but she wasn’t going to apologize this time. No way.

“How old are you again?” he asked. “Twenty, thirty? Hopefully.”

“I’m seventeen,” Claire answered, trying to calm herself down. “Really seventeen.”

“And yet you act like you’re sixty.”

“I thought you said I sounded young.”

“I formerly retract the statement. If you continue to mope like this, immortality will be hell for you. Just like you want it to be.”

“I do not,” Claire protested.

“All right. You have no pain. Trust me, this is a plus," he asserted, and again with the lying.

“I’ll stop feeling anything,” she hissed. “If you still feel and—sorry to point out something negative to you—and did all that, what am-.”

He did something that surprised her. “You’ll be all right,” he said, gently.

Claire stared at him, something in her loosening. But then she caught herself swiftly.

“I don’t need a comforting talk from you.” She pulled back, put up walls. He was annoyingly undaunted.

“Then you’ve gotten what you needed from me.”

“Needed? From you? I came to help you,” Claire said.

Adam smiled. “Come now, Claire. We both know that just isn’t true.”

“Okay, fine, how about further reassurance that I’m nothing like you. I think I’m covered though.”

“There’s probably more ground to cover in that regard,” Adam said dryly.

‘There is!” she attacked. “This Company of yours. They kidnap people from their homes at night.”

He laughed. “I’m sorry, your phrasing can be distracting. Let me guess, you have a problem with the approach.”

“Just a little, yeah.”

“Having met this…Sylar, do you have a problem with the creation of the Company? Do you think some people deserve to judged?”

“Sylar is a different case than most people.”

“Do you really believe that?” he asked.

She hesitated, thinking of all those files in the drawer.

“What if they move on to hurt these other people you care about?” he continued. “Don’t you think they should be stopped before that occurs?”

She was about to protest again but she remembered something, and it showed on her face. Brody, she thought.

“I see your point.”

Adam looked curious but let it go. But she did have something else that ate at her.

“Who do you have in the Company? Who has kept you out of their grasp, didn’t allow you to be experimented on like I was? It has to be a family member."

“He has nothing to do-.”

“But you raided his files and found out about me and came here on your own. I must say, I do admire that. Though you have your weak points-.”

“Excuse me?”

“You weren’t going to plead with me to get out from under the ground. But do you see how that was counterproductive to your situation? Yes, you could survive it, but blindly running ahead without forethought is a complete waste of yourself and not a true representation of power...Not to mention utterly stupid. ”

Claire shrugged, defensive. “You were going to do what you were going to do. Nothing I could say would have stopped you.”

“Except that’s not entirely true. In any situation.”

She stared at him, getting a little angry again. “But back to the kidnapping and torture and experiments and cages. How do you justify that?”

“Super-humans. What can they can do. I’ve had a lot of experience in the world, Claire. I’m fit to see patterns, and I saw that I had the responsibility of changing the end of the world. Gods in mythology? Most likely our kind. But my power—our power—holds the most responsibility of them all. Do you see that?”

Claire stiffened, crossing her arms. “I understand, but…how would you know you’re right about holding people captive?”

“I’m operating on the assumption that we will be feared by those who don’t understand. I think I’m right on that one. I also have to say that with powers, some failed to see their uses. Some didn’t and made poor choices. If I were to…to use your word, as inaccurate as it is, kidnap them all at once, there’d be a panic, so I have to be cautious. If I brought them all together at once, some would join up and fight to take over the world. It would just happen this way because they don’t know better.”

She frowned, studying him. He continued.

“If specials were integrated into society, there’d be disruption to the core. For instance, there would be superhuman weapons. Some powers are-.”

“Like nuclear power,” she said, more to herself than him.

“Exactly. That sort of power. Can you imagine it in the hands of the government? The experimentations to try and take our power for their use? Could you imagine if that person got with a group of like-minded disgruntled and destroyed the world?”

“Yes.”

He nodded. “It’s not that I was squashing their potential. I’ve stopped natural disasters, when we worked together. As you pointed out yourself, I brought them together, Claire. They would have never taken initiative, would have never had the forethought and organizational skills to pull it over.

I saved lives. Stopped chaos and pain. Because it’s my responsibility to do so.”

She swallowed hard, chilled, because that in some way was what she had wanted to do after Sylar attacked her. To be useful enough to protect and help...wait, she couldn't let him fool her. She wanted to be normal, he wanted the exact opposite. Who had the right to judge most of the world's population?

No one.

“The virus was a last resort," he said, reading her expression better than she could read his.

“For what? I mean…there were children you would kill. Who had nothing to do with anything, who didn't do anything wrong.”

“Who were in danger of being killed and twisted and lost. But I never said, once, that I was about to unleash it. I was going to retrieve it. It couldn’t be in their hands, obviously. Obviously.”

“Because your third power can see the future of those kids too, you automatically knew they'd fit the definition of who you consider bad,” she said, not about to be distracted.

“Because it happens all the time. Nowadays. They die in the street, callously abandoned. I’ve seen it for years. Someday, the world will end. It’ll be out of petty strife. People can show amazing…amazing nobility during tragedy but that’s when everything is lost. Still, it won’t be enough, and the world will break apart. Slowly and painfully and pointlessly.

That’s on my shoulders too. Do you understand that? Do try and think about it.”

He waited, sitting back in his chair and actually looking as if he cared what she thought.

“…they locked you up for years. You must hate them.”

“Claire. Don’t dodge the question.”

She sighed. Feeling heavy of heart and tired. What answer was there?

“I understand. I do. But that's taking an easy way out. I don’t think eliminating humanity will give people the chance to do good. I guess for them, it’s about the choices too. They have the right to make it; otherwise it doesn’t matter, period."

He stared at her, not angrily but it would have been clearer what he was thinking if he would.

“That’s a fair argument. I'd say the truth will become self-evident to you over time. My words won't be enough,” he said, with a slight smile.

"We'll see but I doubt it," Claire said.

“Then what’s your solution to the problem?”

There was a beat of silence.

“…I guess there is no answer,” she said, realizing it to be true. He quirked an eyebrow, and she thought of yet another difference. He was actually more of an idealist than she was. She almost burst out laughing yet she held her cool.

"Do you agree with the idea of my Company?"

"...Sometimes. There are people who could hurt others."

Including you, she thought.

“Exactly. We should address this monster situation. He’ll come back for you, for your family. I can help you.”

There was the hook. Claire could not have been more disappointed. She had known what to expect; it didn’t stop the dislike of feeling a lie there, an maneuver.

“Thanks but I will handle him myself,” she replied. His eyes grew cold though he didn’t show his discomfort through words.

He saw her as a problem. She didn’t care. She wasn’t going to use him, and now, bringing him back wasn’t about anything other than the fact that he was dangerous.

Very dangerous.

The true horror was that she could see the steps towards him as if those steps were the only thing illuminated in front of her. She did feel sorry for him, and if this was what she could be, she was lucky to know now.

No matter what happened, she did feel sorry for him. She was picturing a cell for another forty years, and though it was necessary (because all those people...that could never happen)... Nothing he did was justified, but still. The solution was to keep him locked up? Yeah, she felt sorry, she felt this was wrong.

She thought he might know what was going on in her head.

Judging by how he smiled at her, even now, she knew he did.

That might be a problem.

Date: 2010-06-17 11:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] superkappa.livejournal.com
Oh god Jess.

You don't even know how excited I was to see this in my inbox. You just...have no idea. I've only been dying to read it forever.

And it did not dissapoint at all. I don't even know where to begin with what I liked about this, except for everything. I loved the characterization. I think this is one of the most difficult periods to write Claire from and you don't edge around the nastier parts of the results of Sylar's attack on her. You capture her obsession with making him hurt the way she did, damaging him the way he did her pitch perfect.

And then Adam..was the perfect devil's advocate. Playing his words carefully, knowing exactly what to say to rile her up, make her think. You really captured how cunning and manipulative he can be, which is often a side of him I see ignored in fic.

I love how they're mutually fascinated and weary of one another.

I can't wait to see the rest of this. Thank you so much for writing this for me!!

Date: 2010-06-18 08:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bellonablack.livejournal.com
<3333 KATIE <3 *glomps!*

I'm so happy that you liked this chapter thus far, because yeah, nervous, but now not so much! Yes, this Claire needed to be a balance, and I had hoped I would capture that darker side-effect without going too far, so I'm thrilled that this characterization worked for you.

And I beamed at your Adam comment XD. He really is very cunning, and I had hoped I'd bring it out in this fic as best I could. :-) .

I was also hoping for a mutual dynamic, too. XD I just love this comment.

The rest will be up soon, hopefully in double-posting chapters. Thanks for being supportive and patient and just so awesome!

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