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[personal profile] black_hat
Pairing: Adam/Claire

The thoughts tonight were like ghosts in that Claire had had these thoughts many times before, and they were just visiting again.

Claire had left the Company facility around three in the morning. Adam had made himself comfortable and napped in front of her, so…yeah. She decided to go to the mansion (it wasn’t a home) to see what was happening, what the next move was, only to find that Angela had left the building.

As well as the city.

Her grandmother had taken Adam’s threat very much to heart. Claire called her up and told her that Adam had lied about going nuclear.

“Do you recommend we stop investigating the facility based on his word?”

She flushed but kept her tone cool. “No. I was just giving you information”

Now, an agent or two probably would get cancer. She knew it wasn’t beyond Adam’s capabilities to do such a thing either. He just wanted to see them run around like idiots to show he could.

Good survival plan, Adam. She wasn’t going to start insults going on in her head towards someone who couldn’t even hear her for too long, so she got it all over with in the beginning of the day.

Angela told her that backup was on the way, to wait until everything was proven safe. That she had a tracer on Adam and not to worry about standing guard today. Actually, it was more of an order than anything else.

During the day, she did not think of him at all. She read her GED study guide. That night, she got a call from her dad on her cell phone, and she quickly turned on a lame movie that Lyle would like and took out a pan.

For effect.

“Claire.” There was a tentative, not-safe sense in this ‘Claire’. Like they were speaking over a wall.

“Hey, just finished making some brownies with Mom.”

Or did her mom tell her dad where she was yet?

“Your mother didn’t mention it before.”

“I think she’s been distracted lately. Besides, it was a between-us moment.”

There was a pause, and she heard a huge truck shake by the phone.

“Where are you?”

“On assignment,” her dad replied.

“With who?” she fished.

“My partner.”

“Did it go well?” She stared at her reflection in the window, hoping he’d just even lie and tell her it went horrible.

“…It was a success,” and she heard a modicum of respect in her father’s voice. She had to swallow down a huge lump in her throat to keep speaking.

“I’m glad. Funny how things all just worked out.”

Somehow, they managed to say goodbye to each other. Claire kept running the water across the baking pan and thought how odd it was for Angela to have a baking pan.

It was just strange. Everything felt strange.

Claire listened to the empty house, and she stood by the sink, transfixed. She didn’t know how long she stood there. The water was on scalding, and she finally turned it off. It wasn’t a self-punishment thing, she was just too out of it to really think.

She needed to do something. Claire realized that Adam hadn’t had anything to eat. She should fix that; Angela had forbid staying there but she hadn’t said a word about visiting.

If she were more introspective, it’d be that Claire was beginning to wonder if she could survive Adam in the long run. Maybe her introspection leaned more towards intuition.

Because she found herself driving right to Company with a meal for two.


Claire opened the door to his cell, full well knowing he had to have been out and around while she was gone.

Her plan was to be quiet and calm, and just get still in a corner and read her book. She dropped the bag holding his food by the door.

Her quiet wasn’t going to last long.

“You finally thought about your negligence,” he said, stepping out the door without a care in the world (oh she’d like to mess him up again-again-again, but she bit down on that urge), no matter that he looked ridiculous in the cage dressed in a suit, and picked up the bag. “And look how much thought you put into it…”

“Yeah, exactly six bucks worth. And you owe me.”

“Six dollars? For this grease pile killing most of the public. You do your American roots proud.”

“I wouldn’t charge you over a happy meal. I’d charge you for dry cleaning for the sundress.”

“You took a bullet-riddled dress to the dry cleaner? You know what you’d see if you looked in the dictionary under subtle?”


“No the bloody definition. You should put it to memory.”

“I’m an old hat at this, remember,” Claire said with a sigh. “I split chocolate milk all over it.”

“…Christ. You’ve actually shown some foresight.”

She shrugged and continued down the hall. He followed along. She had hoped he’d wander around. Unlike Peter Pan, she wished she’d lose this shadow.

“This happy meal isn’t up to my usual fare.”

“I’m sure during the course of four hundred years you had some Cheetoes or something once in awhile. I ordered yours with you in mind, okay.”

She opened the door to the dining hall, and the Company clearly copied the style from high school.

He acted like she was killing him as he sat down forlornly to his meal. She set up her computer and books, pretending not to watch him. The bag rustled. She covered her mouth with her hand, looking absorbed in a blank screen.

Opps. She hurried to turn the computer on.

Rustle, rustle. Pause.

She peered around the computer. He held the plastic toy car that came with the special kid’s meal in his hands. The computer made the ‘Window’s sound’ and she cringed as he got to his feet and walked over to her table.

She studied the Window’s XD like it was the Holy Grail. He started to unwrap the toy car. He was actually unwrapping it.

“If only someone had given me this before…would have changed everything.”

Don’t look, she told herself.

She felt something touch her arm. He was running the car across her arm. In a certain way she couldn’t interpret. All she knew was she was suddenly overwhelmed and aware.

So, she took the toy car away from him.

“I’m studying.”

He took her book away from her. “Hey!” she accused but didn’t grab for the manual back.

“Since you could study at home, you must need my help.”

“I don’t need any help.”

She just threw that out there. He glanced up at her.


“Yeah. I don’t like to use others.” Hah.

She watched him pick up her diet coke. “That means you won’t need a computer technician once I pour this drink in your computer?”

Then he actually moved to do it. Claire gasped and grabbed the floating disaster out of his hand.

“Are you insane?”

“So they say.”

He went back to reading, very zen about it. Now she really wanted to mess him up, bother him greatly somehow. Clamp down, Claire, clamp down.

“You’re not insane. That’s, by far, the most irritating thing about you.”

Except the fact that if he wasn’t so…horrible, he’d be a good…well. She wasn’t sure she wanted to finish up that thought. He stiffened slightly (which was a weird reaction) and then hmm’d under his breath.

“Don’t worry, I’m sure I can find more things about you that top the lack of insanity.”

“Well, I for one apologize for reacting to a statement that was fundamentally ridiculous.”

“…Which statement?”

He dramatically winced while laughing. It seemed like genuine laughter this time but she wasn’t sure she was so thrilled about it.

“I meant for you to clarify which statement was stupid because none of them were,” she…clarified.

“You can’t save it. Let it go.”

She sighed and rubbed her head. “You’re right, that was confusing. And for the future, you don’t need to apologize to me.”

Adam made a face at her, but she was already turning on her computer. There were several minutes of peace, and she was starting to learn the material. It didn’t seem like a difficult test, and she’d scored high on-

“Angela left the city, didn’t she?”

Claire thought lying would be futile. “Your trick worked.”

“It hasn’t yet. It will in ten minutes, when her safe house blows up—preferably with her in it.”

She looked up slowly.

“I’m joking.”


“You mean clever.”

“I mean slightly clever.”

She kept her eyes on the screen because she felt him appraising her. She didn’t care that he was, as she didn’t care about anything he thought. And there was now a book in front of the screen.

“This isn’t how that battle went.”

It was a battle during the Revolutionary War. She went with it, mostly because he wanted to monopolize her attention and he couldn’t have had many people to talk with before about it. Maybe she wasn’t the first, but she wouldn’t be one of many, in other words.

“How was it different?”

“We won.”

“If you take away all the other battles lost, it’s definitely a win. And they wrote it differently for fun? Why does it matter if overall, the war went one way?”

“To make the overall winning more believable.’

“…You mean we didn’t win the war? Yes we did.”

“There was a great deal of payoffs running between the two sides. Mercenaries were paid to kill off the leaders of the revolution. Turns out, sometimes the leaders of the revolution were inclined to pay more.”

“You got close to some of the founding fathers to kill them. Like George Washington.”

“Samuel Adams.”

“…I guess he paid you more.”

“Offered me more, yes. And I’d feed them information, time to time. Sometimes they believed they killed the messenger. Then the true rulers of England decided to fund the rebellion. I did eventually get into contact with someone within a very secret society. They wouldn’t let me in, but I did get them willing to let any son of my lineage in later.

And that’s how I basically inducted myself into the society.”

Opportunistic much? You’d have to recruit yourself, she thought, but held off on that one. The diet coke was still nearby, and she was a fan of her computer. But she saw his face.

“You recruited yourself.” Neutral tone.

He flipped through the book, a little on the rough side. All right: divert, divert.

She tilted her head. “And through that, you’ve kept off the map, right? You don’t really exist at all.”

“I’m a figment of your imagination? Four hundred years of living, and in the end, it’s all about you. Perfect cocktail for the mother of all existential crisis’s.”

“Adam,” she said, refusing to bristle at his implications…or trying to . “You’ve kept off the map, right? No social security number…”

“As much as I could. I had to fake a few numbers in my time.”

“Because you could hide easier. You could make them think they killed you, and no one would know. Now it’s harder, with technology being in every single aspect of life.”

“I blame it for my current situation,” he said. “Too many lines of communication open.”

“In general, too. I doubt it’ll be long before the world finds out. I can see anyone with powers on youtube.”


She raised an eyebrow (haha very funny, she’d ignore any reaction to that: ignoring) and pushed the book out of the way. “You’re slipping.”

And so she introduced Adam to the magical world of instant streaming online.

This might have been a mistake. He took in the experience with an alert solemnity, filing it away in his mental rolodex. As in very keen interest. His blue eyes took on this bright sheen, and Claire was…impressed.

“You’ve figured out how to use youtube to your advantage in world domination, haven’t you?”

“Sadly not the world as of yet. Just the nation.”

Claire did think this was funny, and she bit her lip. The sad part is that he was serious. She was pretty sure he was serious.

“Don’t you ever getting tired?” she asked.

“Of thinking? No, though I could see how it’d be a tedious activity for some.”

“I’ve learned not to trust your implications.”

“Then let me be more clear. It’s a tedious activity for most everyone but me.”

“Still technically an implication. The truth must be the exact opposite.” His jaw clenched, and she had gotten to him again. It made her feel really, really good to know there was something going on underneath all those ideas. She got to her feet, looking around at the empty room.

“Where are you off to?”

“No one’s here because of your radioactive stunt. I’m going to see if everything’s running right. This electromagnetic…whatever it was that Ang--.”

“You just now thought of that?” he burst out.

“I was waiting for…” She waved her hand, waved it aside. “You know where it is, don’t you?”

He gave her a piercing look of cold death that didn’t phase her one bit. Well, it did a little, but she so didn’t care what he thought and she was going to make sure he knew that.

Claire followed Adam down the maze of halls, most of the lights being out or dimmed.

“You know this building really well. I guess you’ve been out why I was gone.”

No answer.

“In the movies, spies leave things like string in the door to see if it’s been opened.”

Imply that. He stopped so suddenly that she ran into him, and then couldn’t help be captured with him wrapping his well-suited arm around her.

“You’re cute.”

Claire felt as if she turned to stone.

“What?” she hissed.

“That was a cute attempt to trick me into telling on myself.”

“That’s me. Cute,” she said, realizing that reacting (or being reactionary in general) seemed to give him control.

“All right, then, new. You’re new at this side of life. And, to put you out of your misery, yes, I was out and the equipment room is right this way.”

“I’m not, you…” She was fuming. She jerked away. “Why didn’t you check it then?”

“I was busy being an exemplary prisoner.”

“You’re not a prisoner, prisoners don’t want to stay in the prison and people aren’t trying to get into them!”

He shrugged, with casual, and she wanted to slap him. It was a very near miss.

The equipment had rows and rows of video screens and just…

“Everything’s on,” he whispered in her ear.

“Please just check everything. Don’t touch a single thing,” Claire said and moved up against the wall as to not let him touch her. She could only hope her backup would arrive, and teach her the correct way to operate this machinery.

Any time now.

“You’re still upset about what happened at the café, aren’t you?”

“The whole thing made me sick,” she retorted. “Literally.”

“You were afraid?”

How was that not allowed? “It was horrifying, not knowing what was going on, not knowing if everyone was going to drop like flies. Excuse me for being a human being.”

“For you, there is no excuse for that,” he said, pointedly, and she wondered what he meant by it but he continued. “I think I see now. You not being in the loop is the crucial element in your violence towards me.”

Claire smiled, wrapped her arms around his shoulders (his eyes widened considerably in surprise though he steeled himself well), and said, “Yes.

All that thinking is really paying off.”

“I don’t know. Upon reflection, I’m not adverse to you hitting me.”

She backed off quickly, her eyes widening this time. “Oh. Well. Get used to it.”

Adam smiled down at her, and spooked, she somehow managed to be walking away from the prisoner quickly.

“You’re leaving?”

“You’ve got it covered.” Hurry-hurry to get her books. “I have to study this. Please allow me to pass this one test, and then, as you said, I’m yours.”

He stood in the threshold of the dining hall, refusing to look away—he was completely in his element. Her, not-so-much. It was such a clinical and detached place, a living concept. She now thought of the crisp Company as an old temple sacrificing people. Claire was all for facing her fear, but hadn’t she faced it enough?

“I did have one question on my mind. If that’s all right. If I have permission to ask.”

“Go on. You’ll ask anyway.”

“How and when did you speak to Sylar, when he delivered his threat? I’m curious. I would have thought you weren’t allowed to travel too far from home without family or acquaintances.”

Do you not use the word ‘friend’? Guess not.

“He snuck into my bedroom and made himself at home in my home. He was being an exemplary stalker.”

“You’re…certainly casual about it.” She couldn’t identify his tone.

She finished packing her bag, keeping her head down. “A stalker is kind of anticlimactic at this point.”

Adam didn’t move from his place at the door, hands in his pockets, and she felt she should say something more. She met his eyes.

“It’s not a big deal. The house is safe enough.”

“You might as well stay here. The security is superior. Besides I might be tempted to try something diabolical if left to my own devices.”

She narrowed her eyes.

“I’ll stay in my cell the entire night,” he added.

Claire had nothing. Oh wait. “I know you…well, I know I’ll be okay during the night with you.”

He left his place by the door, dismissing her, and giving her no other reaction.

Claire looked after him for a moment and then chose a cell herself. She was feeling tense—tied up—but she now, when she thought about it, was exhausted. Almost too tired to sleep…

She thought about putting a chair in between the door and the hallway. If it slammed shut, she’d be able to get out. But she wanted to trust her instincts on this. She didn’t think it’d happen.

If it did, she’d wait and go after him again. So, she slept.


Claire wondered when Adam would get around to getting her back.

She did not think he’d let it go without a mention. Eventually, he’d come around full circle as he often seemed to do. She woke up, and he had kept his word, had kept far away from her. She thought about it but then she figured she’d take things as they happened.

He just wanted her here because Sylar might be here, sometime, and Adam could throw her at him as a distraction before fleeing into the night.

Claire used the time to study and then sign up to take the test. She was required to give her social security number. She thought she should get rid of it sometime in the near future. Sooner rather than later.

She gave him space and waited for Angela’s call. She’d have a better idea what to do with the situation that way. She closed her eyes, holding on to her cell phone and napped intermittently.

Night came, backup-less. Bored, she dug out a DVD of Lyle’s that she borrowed and slide it into the computer. She could watch a movie while she waited, and so she made herself comfortable, sitting cross-legged on the floor and using the bench as back support.

The first intro part? She could tell this was going to be a weird movie. Space Odyssey or something? Should she be thinking of space travel as an option for her long future?

A shadow fell over the bench, and she looked up slowly.

Claire was starting to notice something new about him each time. She thought he moved with so much confidence, with surety, because he was sure. She was a little bit admiring of it.

“What did you do all day?” she asked.

“Thinking,” he said, smiling down at her. She could tell by his eyes that he had.

She smiled back, just a little. “About?”

“How we squandered the potential of precogs, back in the day?”


“Where’s your altruism? I’d say we could have prevented attacks, couldn’t we have? It doesn’t infringe on free will.”

Attacks huh? She felt a lump in her throat that was an uncontrollable, visceral reaction. She remembered a locker room a long time ago, and how seeing that coming would have…He liked to, in a word, fuck around with her. He couldn’t have known and yet…despite him being a very smart and intelligent (ruthless) person, Adam was an idiot.

“Good idea,” she said, lightly. It was a good idea. Only. “Barring the whole free will approach.”

“Would you be interested in making it work? With me?”

“I would, if I didn’t have my work cut out for me already. With you.”

“There is such a thing as multitasking. Though I understand if I take up all of your attention.”

She turned back to the flickering screen with religious devotion.

“Stubborn,” he commented, and took a seat behind her. “You notice life is spent watching other people.”

“…I did not,” Claire said. “Too busy watching.”

“Or thinking off being watched. Do you ever try to do anything without picturing yourself in an image, Claire? With your changing wardrobes of moods. Would you ever try?”

“You first,” she answered because really. That wasn’t going to work.

“I have. I should have been found out years ago by casual observation. They don’t want to see it.”

She guessed he had to have been very isolated. At some period of time. She knew that could happen, but she shrugged off the realization of it.

“That’s because they didn’t know it was even out there. You can’t blame people for dealing with their own stuff.”

“Human observation is limited in that way. Mostly just a poor excuse of living.”

“I bet you’ve said this before, haven’t you?”

“The first time I ever wanted a real response,” he said, in mockery of a remnant of their earlier conversation.

“I bet you said that too,” Claire said. He grew quiet again, and…she wasn’t being fair. “But that’s survival, I guess,” she added.

His response was aggressive. She suddenly was grabbed underneath her arms and pulled onto the bench, and it was hard to balance a computer while being lifted into the air. “Hey, hey!”

“Claire,” he said, in a calm tone. She waited. “Sit and watch the movie.”

She made a face but sighed. “You missed the best part, the monkeys beating each other with sticks before. It’s kind of pointless to tune in now.”

He was opening his mouth to tell her off for disobeying, or something, and then he stopped, horrified.

“Are you serious?”

She nodded. He raised an eyebrow. “No, those must have been the writers of the picture, getting the credits out of the way.”

She laughed. Because it was funny, how he said it. It was really surreal, watching a movie with someone who—well, had their heart beating for that long. She was the majority of the reason—if not all of the reason—that his heart was beating now.

She felt a little too good about that, like…She focused more on the movie, as a rule.

“So. Space,” she said, to say something, when there was a whole orbit on the screen.

“Something to look forward to.”

“Do you think so?”

“I know so. They’ve traveled to whole galaxies in this film. To be the first to institute such a change, the first to see another life, would beyond the stretch of human imagination.”

“Are you going to be the first in space, Adam? How about we work on sending you to the moon, together?”

“I was planning to use you as a test subject.”


“Not particularly.”

“So, big black empty space. Is a good thing. I’ve learned something new.”

“Look, it would be brilliant, especially when--.”

At that moment, the astronaut in the space suit lost his grip on the shuttle and flew off into space, spinning around in the abyss. Forever. In an abyss. She looked at Adam.

“Well. Shit,” he said.

She smiled at him. He could be fun, just a little bit, and she could feel herself almost forgetting his track record of horror. It wasn’t hard to withdraw during the movie, not due to will power but due to the fact that this movie got embarrassing. Really quickly.

She faked spontaneous sleep, just to get past the moment. Her face flushing and the fact that she radiated heat gave her away. She peeked one eye open, cautious.

His expression was priceless.

“You’re supposed to be sage-like. What did the ending mean?” Claire asked.

“You tell me your interpretation, and I’ll tell you if you’re right.”

“You don’t know what it means,” she teased.

“Not in the slightest, and I have no inclination to find out. Take this as a sign of my infinite wisdom.”

“No more space then,” Claire said, closing up the laptop. “I didn’t own this dvd, by the way. It’s my brother Lyle’s movie.”

He didn’t seem surprised that she had a brother. He must have done his own form of research on her. Instead, he surprised her.

“You’re in a better mood now. Ready to tell me what was bothering you today?”

She almost fell off the bench. He had known? How transparent was she? She didn’t like feeling as if she was, and she glared at him.

“You were having a sulk,” he continued, pleasantly. “I could tell because you’re wearing the black outfit. So get it over with and tell me.”

“No. You seem like you’ve been told a lot of things. Like people have told you a lot.”

“…I like how you said the same thing two different ways. Are you saying that I reached my limit? I don’t have limits.”

“Doesn’t it seem exploitive?” Claire asked.

“What?” He seemed to give her a look as if she had surprised him. Granted, it was a quick look, and she hurried on, as this was unsteady ground. “I don’t want to use you, it doesn’t seem fair. Also the problem is just not that important.”

He tilted his head. “Then what is so important? What is so wrong with you?”

She stiffened.

“Wrong in general,” he corrected. “And it’s not exploitive. You ruined that aspect by asking my permission.”

“I’m a monster,” she said.

It just came out: it was as if she had been engaging life with the door half shut. She didn’t care about his opinion like she would her father’s, for instance, so…well, she just said it, threw the door open, and he could do whatever he wanted. He could laugh at her, try to hurt her, but it was the truth, something he was incapable of dealing with on any level.

And he took her admission seriously, like she knew he would.

“You really believe that.” He seemed curious. “What did you do?”

“There was this girl from my high school,” ---and for a minute, she forgot about running a jock into the wall and potentially…ruining his life for good by almost severing his spinal column—forget about that because she still felt somewhat…--. “…I saved a man’s life by pulling him out of a fire. I was wearing my uniform, so they narrowed the search down to a cheerleader who could…run into a fire and not get burnt. I stayed back, and let her take the credit for it.”

“Because you have sense.”

“I was scared,” she said, and no, she shouldn’t be telling him this. Not this, and yet it was like a black, rotting tooth she had held in her head for years. This was just happening. “I was fine with hiding behind her. Sylar was looking for a power. He didn’t even have my name. But the story was in the paper. It was our Homecoming, more hers than mine, and he killed her right in front of me.

I can’t die. She could.”

She thought if he said that she wasn’t a monster for letting that girl die, Claire would have punched him in the face. It wouldn’t have been planned, it would have just been the only thing she could do. Deep down, she knew that Jackie would have lived her life how she wanted to, and would have enjoyed this power. Somehow, nothing felt—true.

“I know you tried to help her at the time.”

Claire was surprised she could meet his eyes at all. “Tried. Anyone else could have made a difference, could have stopped him. You could have magically talked him down or something. You’re like Tom Sawyer with a British accent…and shoes.”

“I can do more than magically talk people down.”

“I said ‘or something’.”

“About your monstrous state of existence, you’re probably right.”

“…What?” she asked, blinking.

“If you say you’re a monster, you’d know far better than I.”

“I’m…” she narrowed her eyes. “Wait.”

“How do you propose your life would work then, if you changed based on everyone’s opinion? I say you’re not, and someone comes along and says you are. What would you do? Change based on a whim?”

“Not listening to other people is extremely self-absorbed.”

“As is looking for a certain answer from other people.”

“You really suck at giving emotional comfort.”

His smile turned harsh. Remained a smile, somehow, but was harsh. “I was giving you perspective. It goes further than comfort.”

She had nothing to say to that but feel cold and hurt. She even thought he was right, but…wow. She had no idea why she opened herself up to that. Good thing his opinion wasn't treasured above all.

He scoffed at her quiet.

“It’s like this-you’re going to see so much in the future, things you can’t even imagine. If you continue to take every single thing to heart in your lifetime, you’ll end up in a room with padded walls.”

She paused in her rage. “You’re trying to be helpful right now…”

He shook his head, apparently in response to some internal monologue. “I suppose I’ll have to look after you until you improve with age.”

“I’m looking after you,” she said, moving his hand away. “And thanks. I guess.”

“You don’t think you’re an emotional person. Or should I say, you don’t feel you’re an emotional person.”

“It’s not a bad thing, is it?”

“I never said it was bad, you’re reading my words through an emotional filter.”

“…Is that bad that…wait, hey, I think I’d have to be emotional over some things. I should be.”

“’Should be’ emotional,” he mused. “As in an insincere obligation.”

“That came out wrong,” she said, lightly, trying to calm down. This was Adam being…Adam. “I didn’t mean it like that.”

“There was nothing you could have done differently, with what you knew. Instead of lamenting about what you can’t change, would you like to learn how to stop an enemy before they can do harm?”

Her mouth fell open, and he took the opportunity to take her hand and pull her down the hall. She tried to pull away but his grip was like steel. He pushed open this door to a larger room. Letting her go, he pushed tables aside to make space.

Claire had a horrible feeling.

“Come here,” he said, motioning her over to where he was standing. She did it after a moment of hesitation, trying to figure this out. He stepped behind her, and she tried to see him. “What is that look? Be still.” His hand was on the back of her neck, and okay…what was he going to do?

“He attacked the other girl, so I’m assuming, by what he sounds like, that he was focused solely on her and had his back to you.”

“Yes,” she said, trying not to shiver. Out of fear, of course.

“Pay attention. I’m only going to do this once. You feel my hand here.”

He pushed against her neck, in a place just below her jaw line, and every limb just lost its ability to support her body from the neck down. Claire fell to the floor with an ‘ooff’. He knelt by her, all seriousness.

“Some powers need hand movement, but the shock of paralysis will suspend their thoughts for the time being for most abilities. But, to be safe, you quickly--.”

Then he grabbed her and knocked the back of her head against the floor, knocking her out.

She came to and saw an empty room, and groaned. That goes for the stupidest moment of the century—or any century— award. She rubbed her head, not because it hurt, just because, and heard a rattle of something metallic coming her way.

Adam reappeared in the room, holding two swords. He came back. And with swords. She recognized one. How did he get those in here? Oh for.

“Your recovery time is slower than mine.”

“How would you know, you weren’t here to time it.”

“You’re still on the floor,” he stage-whispered, smirking, and he moved forward, she thought, to help her up. So, she quickly got to her feet.

“…I don’t think I got the technique the first time. I think I need to try it on you.”

“Of course, you need practice,” he said, as if it was ‘of course…you need practice’ and setting the swords aside, turned around.

Claire gaped. “You’re serious? Right now, you don’t mind me attacking you?”

“You can’t hurt me.”

All right. She could do this. She wanted to do this, because she was numb and wanted to move something. She felt for that place again, and there being no pain was a slight problem, but she got near the area. Then she rushed him and lunged—

And got thrown, landing on her back.

She glared up at him behind her blonde hair.

“I adhere to realism.”

She got to her feet, steeling herself and near a boiling point, and went to get the two swords. “Maybe I need something a little more to the point.”

Claire tossed his sword at him and was mad that he actually caught it, when he actually slid the sword out very gracefully and skillfully.

She swallowed hard and kind of made the rusty blade shimmy out of the, the sheath. Her mind was a mess, muddled, and suddenly she felt as if her body, instead of the former jelly feeling, was made of clumsy stone.

“I’m uh.” She looked at the sharp tip and frowned. “How much pain do you…I mean. How much pain would this cause you?”

“That didn’t stop you before,” he said, easily, and held the sword in front of him jauntily, like it was a walking stick. Now her mind turned to stone, at what she had done and could do.


He shrugged. “Too much heart, there. Go ahead. It’s cathartic. For me as well.”

Claire couldn’t. What had been building up, in her head and heart and life, just dammed up, and she stared at him, unsure.

“Then I’ll begin.”

And he did. Adam could move fast. She’d say like the wind if it wasn’t clich…no, he moved like the wind. She gasped and ducked…something swished by her face. He stumbled backwards with pulling back his swing and cursed.

“Why. Did you. Duck in front of the blade!” he demanded.

Claire got over her stillness, and lunged for his side. And hit, what she thought, was a hipbone. Surreal. Yet direction for her. Blood went everywhere. Adam hissed with a smile and ducked away.

She realized why. He had let her hit him. Now reality was crashing over her. Before, when she had hit him, he had let her.

“First blood goes to me.”

She followed his gaze, and saw that he had managed to cut off the tip of her nose. The tip of her nose.

That was it.

She rushed him, slashing, and anything she could hit, he let her. Most of her tries, he blocked. Her questioning that he thought (knew) she wouldn’t go for his neck was an odd, distant, pinwheel of a thought.

She just wouldn’t.

“You should use my strength against me,” he offered. Block, block. Like trying to stab through a fan.

“I would if there was some.”

“Come now, you can barely hold the blade in your hand.”

“It’s in my hand, that’s all that-.” Slash of silver.

It was technically still in her hand, although her hand was lying on the floor, holding on to the blade.

She held her forming hand up, which was—extreme. For a minute, she thought, irrationally, well, that went too far, can’t be undone—and finally bones and then…someone else was watching, too.

With a very rapt expression.

There being no camera between this person and her, to make this all like a movie, she quickly lowered her horror movie of a hand, but he stopped her.

“I know you’ll take this the wrong way,” he mused, watching. “But I think you’re beautiful.”

She head-butted him.

He wiped his mouth, oddly solemn, and what was it going to take to leave a mark?

“Asshole,” she muttered, and he looked at his bloody hand, his mood shifting. She peeled her old, soon to be rotting, hand off the sword. “I just did my nails.”

Adam laughed, and she did too, and it was an ugly, desperate relief at something else dying. Just like that old rotten secret. She seemed to die with feeling this time. The difference seemed to be dying with someone else.

Claire felt better, clearer, good (in the place of old pain, there was only a vague goodness), with each time she made a stabbing, imaging a new face, an old memory, in place of it. As clarity grew, she decided to play with him.

Claire leapt forward and impaled herself on his blade, then wretched her body away, tearing the sword out of his hand. His running commentary silenced as he was surprised.

“Admit it, that was cool,” she said. He lunged and pushed her backwards. Pinning her to the table through the sword.

“It lacked follow-through.”

“I…” was still bleeding, due to the sword being in her.

He placed both arms beside her head, as he rested, panting and studying her. Bright-eyed.

“You really are. Beautiful. I’m not meaning anything but an observation of fact, by the way. You’re just so-.”

“All-American,” she said, with blood in her mouth.

“You had to, didn’t you?” he sighed. “Very well, All-American.”

“I have…a question,” she said, feeling lightheaded and dizzy and fading in and out. She was like ten years old, riding a bike weaving in between the lines. Carefree. He listened. “Are we closely related? Because I’m related to everyone, and I would have, just…hated to have punched my grandfather in the face. Because that would be wrong.”

“No, and," he said, "I am not your grandfather. As intriguing as Angela was, when she had a heart, I did meet Arthur Petrelli who only cared about his bloodline. He would know, you know.”

“Yeah, yeah. I’m just checking.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised if Angela had met on occasion with Daniel. Poor bastard loved her.”

He grabbed the sword and tugged. Life came back.

“Wow,” she breathed out. “Wow.”

“I know. Angela, being loved. Shocking really.”

Claire gave him a look.

“So. Once more?” he inquired.

This went on for hours because apparently she had a high endurance. She ran, fought, and still didn’t tire. Neither did he. This was a new aspect of her power that she hadn’t really thought about before. After six hours straight of it, she wouldn’t have stopped but he did, holding up his hands after tossing the sword to the side.

“I’m unarmed.”

“For us, that’s not unarmed,” she teased but uh, placed her sword nicely on the table.

She felt spent. After venting like that, she had nothing else to do but pick a corner against the wall and slide down it.

He was brushing off invisible lint off his suit where the blood stains didn’t seem to phase him. She closed her eyes, breathing hard and brushing damp hair that stuck to her face behind her ears.

She could stand up to him, in one more way, and make it by. There was nothing more stable and secure for the minute, a little more faith in what she could deal with.

“I’m sorry for your friend’s death.”

She opened her eyes and he was in front of her, kneeling. She gazed at him in shock.

“You are?”

“I am,” he said, as if he knew this would be her reaction. She thought he’d be offended if he hadn’t expected it. “What an unfortunate and unnecessary way to die.”

She didn’t know if this was worse, noticing one death over the millions and billions you were going to kill off? That’s just wonderful, thank you for being so confusing and just…

He put his hand on her knee. She almost put her hand on his, in a habitual…motion, but she stopped at his fingertips. Her acknowledgment of it at all was through a very-thin lip purse.

Adam didn’t seem to mind, sitting beside her. The quiet was good after all the fighting. It seemed natural when he broke it, measured perfectly.

“I have to request a favor from you.”

She sighed.

“If things don’t pan out and I’m caught by this Sylar. If something is done to me, something you know is irreparable beyond a doubt—and you would know…I think you know what I’m asking.”

Claire felt something twist in her chest. He was asking not to be left in such a way, if it happened. “That’s not going to happen, Adam.”

“If it does.”

She hesitated (how would she know what was irreparable after a certain time) but nodded after awhile, firmly. Committed because she would do that for him.

“I highly doubt it will,” he said. “I do want to preserve some dignity.”

She couldn’t look at him, because her throat proved it was hard to swallow. She’d cry or something at the thought, and she didn’t want him to see what he knew.

“Well, I’m going to clean this place up,” she said.

“You do that,” and he was off down the hall towards his cell.

Back to lip-pursing anger. Blood and limbs, everywhere. She got a mop, and it was grisly. She needed some garbage bags, and while she cleaned, she did have time to think. About what he had said about precogs and using them to prevent crimes. This had to be wrong. On principle, fate wasn't her thing. Only...she kept running over what had happened to Jackie in her mind. How it was missing Jackie but also missing herself.

Claire wouldn't want that to happen to anyone else.

The problem with Adam was that being inside the loop was really what everyone thought: they thought they were on the inside, tricking someone else, when really they were the ones being tricked. From what she could see.

Yet the idea itself, if it could be worked out and thought through. Maybe not fate, or anything, but...she sighed again, wary of any suggestion.

“There has to be a rule,” she muttered under her breath, at the threshold of the door,“ that people pick up their own fingers after-.”

“Holy shit. What happened?”

Claire looked up, caught. Two men stood there, in suits. Agents. Backup.

“Hi,” she said, flushing red. “Escape attempt. Got pretty intense but I handled it.”

They were all eyes. The blonde one opened his mouth hesitantly.

“Ms. Petrelli says that Sylar is on the move, for the tracker. It’ll happen in a few days.”

Claire nodded, and after a few more awkward exchanges, they took their places at the door. Claire wondered to herself if they’d tell Angela. What would Angela think, what the future plans would be…

She didn’t have to wonder too long.

A few weeks later, Angela was dead.

credit: 'the look up the definition in the dictionary' was inspired by a line from a movie. I don't know the movie, as well, it was in a clip of great insults...but tis not mine, is what I'm getting at. :-)

The idea of the precogs is inspired by The Minority Report.
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