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[personal profile] black_hat
Adam/Claire
prompt: silk
This didn't turn out smutty at all, and therefore I post it here. What in the world. But I totally had an angsty ending that I didn't do. So. Hm.



Tonight had all gone to plan quite nicely.

Playing large powers off one another was a dangerous game, and even if he wasn’t as strong as he used to be, Adam found that the rush was still the same.

That his abilities were still the same.

He closed the door behind him quietly, the lights from the now-fully metallic world shining in the window. He hadn’t given up his idea about healing the world.

He won’t ever give it up.

Tonight, he was one step closer. Alcohol had no effect on him but he opened a bottle anyway. Most of his current fortune came from selling it on the sly, and he could express his appreciation.

The light switched on. He turned around, and she was in the doorway, staring at him.

He expected a scene, but she, after a few minutes, nodded to the drink in his hand. “Can I have some?”

He set up a glass for her. Sometimes she surprised him, every now and then, and Claire took her drink and disappeared into the recesses of the large suite, giving him space.

She had surprised him the first time he met her.

He had heard rumors about a small, off-color village that was suddenly overpopulated. To anyone else, this would be a blip on the radar. To him, this signified something entirely different, and he organized a group to do business with the underground locals.

The second night there, he had poisoned a shard of glass and had a little accident. The poison kept him from healing fully but it didn’t kill him obviously. The goodwill of the leader—who wanted to do business more than anything—took him to the source of their healing power.

Adam followed them, down twists and turns, and found the source of their healing ability. A young girl he recognized from the TV a century ago.

She was a horror. Bright green eyes behind a layer of dirt. She was chained to the wall, and stared past them. She had gone completely inward.

Though he owed her no favor for her actions, he did see potential and a need, and he didn’t much like the idea of her being trapped as long as he had been. He’d decide her fate, not them.

He dispatched the men quickly enough, having brought a bottle of toxin with him in his pocket. He walked through the smoke and poison, and ended up right in front of her.

“I’m here to rescue you.”

She met his eyes and shook her head, as if she knew better.

“Well, I’m going to rescue you now,” he amended, intrigued that she had any defiance left.

At his home, she was still intriguing. Still defiant. In one act of forgetting himself—a rare event—he fetched a washcloth for her, after placing her gently on the couch. He moved to wipe her face, and she took the cloth from him.

“No, it’s no…it’s not a problem. I can do it myself.”

And she seemed desperate too. He didn’t appreciate his offer being spurned. But he did smile slightly, respecting it enough because that, he could understand. He didn’t know if he liked it but he understood it.

She kept to herself for weeks, food disappearing from the refrigerator (that was the only sign of life). She hadn’t even asked his name. He made note of it. And so, he went about his plans.

The world was getting worse, and he wasn’t going to give up.

***

“I’m leaving.”

He found her sitting by the window, watching the cars outside. She was huddled over as if she was cold.

“You’re going out?” she asked.

“I’m leaving,” he repeated, hands in his pockets. She looked at him, slowly.

“Have you decided what you’re going to do with me? How to take advantage of my power?”

He smiled at her and saw the bottle on the dresser. He broke it swiftly and she tensed, eyes flashing. He made a large gash across his arm, and let her see it heal. She got to her feet, the shock apparent on her face.

He didn’t expect her to push him.

“You…didn’t tell me,” she accused, hurt.

“You didn’t ask much about me.”

She glared at him and then her face softened. “Well. That was wrong of me. Um.”

“I’m Adam,” he said, holding out his hand. She took his hand, her face full of thought.

“Claire.” But he knew that already. She tilted her head. “And you’re leaving. For how long?”

“Well, I didn’t want…this place has gotten dangerous. They’ve built another layer of cities above this one, and I want to travel up there. But I didn’t want to presume that you’d come with me.”

Claire looked down.

“I’ll go. If I can presume you’d want me to come with you,” she added, smiling.

“I know it’s soon. You must hate…people at the moment.”

“I, I don’t really. I should, but they were desperate. I mean, I went there to help.”

“You…” He was surprised yet again. He couldn’t decide if she was very human or different. If she was human, he’d have to wait longer for her to improve, to become to see things his way. Only he couldn’t decide what this was, yet. “I suppose that’s noble. But you’re older now.”

Claire frowned up at him. “That’s why I wanted to help.”

He was curious but this wasn’t a good thing. “I’m leaving tomorrow. I’ll come by and pick you up.”

He touched her cheek, and she smiled at him. Unsure, but she met his eyes.

He left, feeling more frustrated than he had in centuries.

***

There was a problem.

A problem in the form of Claire. He had picked up new clothes for her, and she had dressed well. Adam had had this trip in the works for months. He had all the angles worked out.

Except that even in a heavy jacket, Claire attracted attention.

“Danvid wants to talk to you.”

Just when he was almost on the craft. “I paid ahead, but that doesn’t mean I can’t withdraw the money. I have to make to it where I’m going to confirm the transfer.”

The go-fer’s eyes widened at this unexpected information. Claire was alert and thinking, looking between the two of them.

“It has nothing to do with the money. In fact, he has a better deal for you.”

“For him, you mean,” Adam said but he relented. Claire watched him, following after hesitatingly.

In the room off to the side, it was clear what he wanted. He wanted Claire for the trade, not the money. Adam was glad he told Claire to wait outside.

He thought about it. It would have been best for him; he would have gotten his money back and had more favor. But…he didn’t know. He didn't want to, because he didn't have to, and he wasn't going to yield to this filth.

“She’s promised to someone else,” he said instead. “All tied up. Actually the point of my travels.”

Danvid was a determined man. “Name his price, and I’ll double it.”

“It’s not all about the money. The connections…I’m sorry, but it would bring problems down on all involved.”

“More for you, I think. Bring the girl in here.”

Adam knew he could see a way out, and he forced himself to remain calm. This was a disaster over nothing-

“She’s not there.”

That got worse.

“All right, we can make another deal,” Adam said. “She has a sister. Spitting image.”

He’d be willing to drag Claire to get a double to fool the man—if he could find her.

“Find her,” Danvid said, and well, he was beginning to get angry. He could rush the man and take him out the window with him. It’d be a longer fall than usual but more than worth it. He just wasn’t sure the quality of the glass; some glass felt like steel here and broke just as easily as it.


“You’re crazy. She is not available for you.”

“She’s worth the trivialities.”

“Have you not had a woman before?”

That went over as well as expected. He had prepared to rush him, get ‘killed’, and then take the advantage. But he got fists instead. And he couldn’t hide how his bruises healed. Danvid was not a stupid man. Brutal but not stupid.

“Why…I think we might have a better deal right here.”

He didn’t panic. He wasn’t afraid, not one bit. He was prepared to outthink his way out of this one as well, but one of his own toxin weapons that fell through the air vent saved him all the trouble.

He survived, surprised while everyone else was on fire or dead. Claire came through the vent, landing in front of him.

“You nicked that from me.”

She looked at him, waiting.

“I told you to pack light,” he added.

“We’ll be late if we don’t go now,” she told him, eyes glinting, and he hadn’t expected…her to come back. He thought she had run.

“They wait for ten minutes,” he said, calmly, and reached for Danvid’s gun.

She put her hand on the end of the barrel, stepping in front of him to block the shot.

“But we’ll lose the good seats,” she said, unyielding.

Claire. A problem. He knew better than to leave the man alive. But he was tired and wanted to get a seat. She was right about that.

He did make sure to give the man a good swift kick on his way out.

***

The travel was cold and long.

Adam hated closed in spaces. The fiasco at the gate had put him in a bad way. Claire was quiet, as she often was, but it seemed loud this time. He watched her, and knew she had to feel the same.

She didn’t show it, or anything, easily. Rather like he did. It was for the best, but his mood was still poor. The walls rattled as the ship travelled further and further up, and he knew he could have done better. Made this different.

He closed his eyes.

Claire moved like a cat and was gone when he woke. He had the knee-jerk paranoia, suspicion, but he was counting on the fact that she needed him. Like most people did.

She wanted something from him, surely. He just hadn’t figured out what. It didn’t usually take this long.

She appeared with two bags of food and something purely ridiculous. Two paper fans. Pinwheel fans.

“Those are for napkins, I trust,” he said.

“Two kids were selling them. I used to buy them in Texas with my friends.”

“I saw them in Japan, once, when they were in fashion,” he said. He had no idea why he had wanted to one-up here.

“Here,” she said, and tucked the fan by his pillow.

“There’s no air current here.”

“Use your imagination, kids can figure it out, she offered, simply. The fans were immature, under-formed, and the dinosaur on his seemed angry. Wait…was that a dig? He looked at her, and discovered there was no dig.

“There’s no denying you stole a weapon from me.”

She handed him chopsticks of all things. “Good thing, right?”

“Don’t do it again.”

“I don’t think I’ll need to,” Claire said. “I heard what you did. You didn’t have to say no to him.”

“Dignity demanded it,” Adam protested.

“Dignity wouldn’t keep you alive this long,” Claire said, knowing.

He scoffed.

“I’ll be two hundred and one this April,” she said.

“You still count birthdays?”

“How about you?”

“I’ve stopped counting.”

“I got these, to make me feel like I’m outside,” she said, too carefully, because she was still too young to hide it. It had been a courtesy for him.

But she was too old to have really bothered. He wouldn’t have.

Adam went along with it, letting her stretch out beside him, letting her hang the fans on the edge of the bed.

He watched them only to make her feel better about it.

***

Claire pulled something when they landed.

He couldn’t be sure if it was a game or not. She simply asked if he wanted her to stay with him.

“Whatever you’d like,” he answered, just as flippantly.

“I don’t want to be a burden. I’ll get my own money. I promise.”

He shook his head. “There’s no need for that. I can support you.”

She seemed unsure. “I don’t want to use you, or anything. I know how that feels.”

“But we share the same ability. Technically, we should stick together.”

“You’re more than your ability. I know how that feels too.”

“I am more,” he said, smiling a little harshly. Claire remained calm, waiting. He sighed and motioned his head, and she followed him through the streets to his new home.

Though he supposed it was their new home. For now.

***
Claire kept her word and found some means for money.

He supposed he didn’t find a problem with it. He had his own time, for the next steps. He brought other women to the apartment sometimes, because usually space was taken at where they usually lived.

She hadn’t approached him, so he took it in stride. To be honest, he hadn’t been putting in effort with keeping her here. With him. Her independence was fine, remarkable even, but she wouldn’t let him guide her.

Claire never left.

In fact, she was irritatingly helpful. When he sold his blood for an underground pipeline, she pitched in at the last moment when he was about to miss the deadline.

She was helpful.

If she’d just let him…do something, be useful, then he wouldn’t have to keep his distance.

Though whatever means necessary.

***

Claire threw a grenade at last.

In the form of a silk fabric robe. The detail work on it was quite accurate.

Very accurate. He stared at it, cold.

She laid it out on his bed, and left a note that she thought it’d remind him of home.

It did.

Damn her.

He confronted her by handing it back, saying he simply couldn’t accept such an extravagant gift.

“You don’t like it,” she said. “That’s what you mean.”

“It’s not what I said.”

“Exactly,” she said. “But that’s okay. I’ll return it.”

“I meant for you to have the material. I have someone coming over to fit it for you.”

Claire gazed at him.

“Can’t I give you anything?” she asked.

“They’ll be here at two.”

And that was all he was going to say on the matter.

***

He knocked on her door, impatient. There was no need or want to take anything from her.

He merely wanted to know if she liked her gift. She opened the door, and he asked her, just that. Perhaps to see it on her.

“Adam, I pissed you off somehow,” she said.

He laughed, and stepped inside. “You couldn’t do anything to me that I didn’t let you. I’m old enough to avoid such games.”

“I’ll go get it. It is beautiful.”

He waited, looking around at what she had chosen to decorate her room with. Childish things. It was disconcerting to him. That was all, he felt, really. A slight disconcertion.

He supposed it’d be different for a woman. For a young girl. He imagined she was rather innocent before, everything. Hard facts of life, and he didn’t abide by sadness or moping.

Adam meant to throw the whole thing back on her, but when he turned around, he saw that she was…well, it was beautiful on her. It reminded him of something old and forgotten.

It almost looked like a kimono.

He moved closer and touched the fabric on her shoulder. She stiffened. He wasn’t angry. He wasn’t.

“You see, it’s better suited for you.”

He nodded, courteously, and went to leave.

“It’s not you,” she said. “I can’t give you…I’ve had a hard time with…it’s not you.”

“What are you referring to?” he asked, stirring it up. She turned red but kept his gaze.

“I’ve had bad experiences. The first almost time, was a bad experience. Later on, you really can’t trust people. So it’s not you.”

“It sounds like me,” he said, but he. This. “You look beautiful.”

He came back, and she tensed, but he didn’t do anything untoward. He held her.

“I know. I know,” he said. It was just because it was what he was supposed to do.

He certainly didn’t expect tears. It was odd to see her cry, because the rest of her face didn’t express the same emotion. Not anymore. She was almost perfect. Seeing it on someone else was…nothing he had ever prepared for.

“It’ll be all right,” he offered, smoothly.

“That’s a very nice lie.”

“I’ll make it happen, you’ll see. You don’t have to worry anymore. I can take care of you.”

She began to balk, to tense.

“If you let me. Will you?” he asked.

Claire paused. “I can’t give you much. As I could have, maybe.”

“If we both give something, we might have…close to the halfway mark of what is appropriate.”

She laughed, and he felt oddly satisfied.

***

Her not-as-much was more than enough.

Adam told her things, the darker side of his experiences, but it was to cement her loyalty to him. He noticed she never looked away.

“I must warn you,” he said. “Live as long as I have, you have more time to do a little bit of everything.”

“You don’t have to warn me.”

She’d be ready, someday, to join him fully. She was relating to him more and more.

She was useful, after all, and she had proven that she’d be willing to stay with him. He had pushed the limits, as much as he dared, and she never waivered.

She was a strange girl, like that.

***

Claire finally approached him, wearing that kimono.

She kissed him, and he felt the thrill that he’d have her. Finally. With this one, it had taken quite a while. She smiled up at him, and in such a way, that he paused…

“It’ll be better if you’re not wearing this.”

She blinked, hurt, and he hadn’t intended to do so at all. She tried to pull away.

“I’ve had my experiences too. Let’s not…let’s try something new.”

Claire seemed unsure in her confident way. Studying him and then relenting. He rubbed her arms.

“We can take our time,” he said. “Until you trust me better.”

The way she looked at him now was just too much. Apparently she hadn’t been hurt enough in that way.

He had no intention of hurting her that way. It didn’t suit his purpose, at all. Besides, she was his, and what was his—as in his—he wanted to remain as uncorrupted as possible. He had thought it was too late, but perhaps…perhaps.

“So, are you getting rid of the silk covers?” she asked, playfully

“Over my dead body,” he quipped.

She slept beside him, comfortable, and upon reflection, this was the first time in his life that such a thing had happened.

Still, until she was older, until she understood completely, he’d have to keep his distance. This might never happen: she might never develop into what he had become. Like the underdeveloped, she might not accept him.

But he’d be optimistic. Adam was good at being optimistic, and even better at making things work. He’d begin to involve her into becoming a hero again, involve her in making the world a better place.

He had his doubts. He didn’t want any contamination like what seemed to happen, but she was stronger than she looked. What he wanted was inhuman, but that was the point...that what he wanted wasn't impossible. It had to be in her nature, as it was in his.

Optimism it was, then.

Claire turned in and leaned into him, the silk cover slipping off her shoulder, and she looked strong, steady, and there underneath the lights of space.

He hoped that time was sooner rather than later.

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