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Pairing: Adam/Claire



'How did the computer scam work out?' Claire texted in the morning, unable to really sleep.

'It worked. I deleted and purged all the files.'

Claire smiled, feeling as if something was finally going on. 'Where is my dad, do you know?' she texted, looking over at Elle.

'He's trying to inflitrate in Washington.'

Of course he is. Claire should be happy. 'Don't tell him where I am.'

'I kinda got that...:-)' She was relieved there was no questions asked. She waited until she heard the knock on the door, and Daphne was there, looking dead on her feet but strangely fulfilled.

"Wow. I feel like this was what my speed was made for."

Stealing vans, she wanted to say. But hold. Holding. "Carrying Adam around," she joked.

"Oh, he wouldn't be a fan of me if I let you get hurt. He told me as much."

...

"What?"

"He told me off for leaving you with McKesson, and told me he'd hold me responsible if you got caught. So, I really hurried back. He's an intense guy when he wants to be," Daphne said, raising an eyebrow.

"Everything about him has a purpose," Claire corrected.

"Right. It's morning now, and Rebel told me to take you to a new location. I can go as fast as I like because you two don't mind a few concussions."

"I'll go get your second passenger," Claire said, lounging in front of the door, enjoying what appeared to be an egg breakfast. She wasn't giong to ask--pointedly. Instead, "Sunny-side up? Why am I not surprised?"

"I never pegged you for the type of person who found a deep meaning in how eggs are cooked." He was wearing his sunglasses again.

"We're going to my house. It's the last place they'd look."

"Because it's such a stupid move. A genius approach," he smirked. Claire was not in the mood for attitude. He wasn't going to ask how it went, either.

"Are you finished with your breakfast?" Claire asked.

"Yes. I lost my appetite."

Claire separated and hung out in her room until Daphne was ready to take them. It was a long boring day of soap operas. She didn't want to think of her life as one, so she changed to talk shows. Everything on TV seemed distant from what she had gone through, which only made her more determined to watch Dawson Creek marathons. Painful. Until Daphne came back.

The run to her house: killed her two times. She thought she beat Adam by one kill. Daphne was a little too enthusiastic about breaking the sound barrier. Arriving there...it was as if she'd been gone a couple of centuries. It was a foreign and weird place now; beginning from the attack till now, it was just a place that felt like she had been away a thousand years.

"Thank you again. You didn't have to do this, not really," Claire said to Daphne. Daphne shrugged.

"I was happy it ended up the way it did, so-."

Adam went on into the house, apparently not keen on hearing it. As she hugged Daphne, she heard a frantic yapping and him being to cuss. "I'd better go save him from my dog. If you need a place to stay sometime..."

Daphne nodded. "Stay safe."

Adam was in the corner of the kitchen, trapped by the bouncing fur ball on the floor.

"I see you've met Mr. Muggles," Claire said, and knelt down, picking up Mr. Muggles.

"I've never gotten on with animals," he said, simply, keeping his poker face on. Mr. Muggles wagged his tail.

"Why not? Animals are anti-corruption." Adam seemed to think differently, eying Mr. Muggles carefully.

"I just never have," he said. "Now...where's my room? I don't mind saying that I'm tired from being woken up at three and would like a place to shut my eyes."

Claire pursed her lips in annoyance and led the way.

"Good Christ," he said, looking around her room and picking up a picture of her in her old uniform. She waited for the axe to fall. "This explains so much," he said, snarking at her, and she pointed to her closet.

"You can think all about...me in there," she said.

He stared at the closet. Then at her. "You're kidding. You want me to sleep in your room with you. In your closet. Are you...have you lost..." He stared around, apparently appealing to the rows of bears for comfort. "You've gone spare."

"It's what I can do at the moment," Claire said. ."

"I'm not doing it," Adam said. "You're being absurd. Claire."

"It's either this, or a shoebox. Or under the bed."

"I." Adam shut his eyes. "The real joke of this all, is earlier in my life, I could have sworn I was claustrophobic. Now, well-I might find myself in a shoebox."

She half smiled at that.

"Claire," he sighed. "Are you very sure you want me in your home?"

At that, she stopped. "Why not?"

"I'm a danger at this point. I'm hunted by everyone, due to that damn file. Once caught, I can't seem to escape it. Your Rebel will watch me for you. I don't need to be in your home, with your family."

Oh, what is he doing? Divert, divert. "But I've been watching you for uh, weeks," she said slowly. "You didn't seem to mind then."

"Things have been...very taxing. I wouldn't want to bring trouble here."

She caught on. "Adam. All that melodrama. Over wanting your own room."

He paused, eyes flickering. "Well, I have a right to a room," he said. It had to have been an act, that he finally dropped.

"You've had your own room for a very long time," Claire said, and he smirked. "But all right. I'll think of something-."

"How about moving me to another room?" he challenged.

"Adam," she said. Now, he was starting to make her mad. "Here's a compromise. You're staying in here during the day. I'll sneak out during the night and sleep on the couch."

"While I sleep with the teddy bear village of the damned," he said, frowning. "How did it come to this?"

"Then knock them to the floor...no. Put them neatly on a chair." She didn't want him throwing her things around.

He burst out laughing. "I'd be better off putting them in the closet with a crucifix against the door. It's on the creepy side, dear, you have to admit."

She was this close to having a fight with him, until she heard the door downstairs open. Her mom. Claire felt as if she could run downstairs, now that her mom was in the area, but Adam tilted his head.

"Is that your father or your mother?" he asked quietly.

"Can't you hear the high heels?"

"Is that your father or your mother?"

She was about to come up with some response that was very scalding, but was out her bedroom door before she could blink. She raced over, to see him peering around the stairway as Lyle and mom got out of the car, and it was clear no one else with them.

"Mrs. Bennet, I presume?" he announced from the top.

"Lyle, get me the gun!" And Claire had to be proud.

"No, I've brought something of yours," he said quickly, and pulled Claire into view.

"Claire," her mom cried and dropped the groceries. Adam gave her a push--as if she need to be pushed, and her mom ran the rest of the way, grabbing her up. Claire fell into the hug quite easily and held on tightly. She didn't realize how much she had missed her mom during all of it, and

"And I'll give you your privacy. Lyle, isn't it? Your sister's told me...well, she's left you a mystery. Shall we give them their moment?"

"Wait," Sandra ordered, before Adam could pull Lyle out of range. "Wait right there, mister," she ordered. "Who are you, and why are you with my daughter?"

"I-."

"Wait, Claire," she said.

"Claire can explain quite well herself," Adam said, smiling at her. Claire refused to feel appreciation, after he had taken over her seeing her mom again.

"Claire, you told me you were in New York volunteering to help senior citizens!" Sandra began, and Adam's face...well, it was an epic expression, and Claire felt satisfied.

"I was," Claire said. "But um...well..."

Sandra said, "You disappeared for a week, worried us all sick, and-."

Adam said, "But your daughter was assisting me. She's saved my life quite a few times now. And I should add, she was very aggrieved that she couldn't contact you."

Claire gaped at him. You know, he'd only ever say that indirectly. But she did take it as what it was (at least for everything else. Adam had McKesson in his pocket, so he technically hadn't needed her to save him). Her mom calmed down. Marginally. "Then I'll be getting the truth about what happened."

It was a very awkward conversation, and her mom agreed to let Adam stay hidden. She didn't thrill for it, and neither did Lyle.

"Well, I suppose you're staying for dinner," her mom said grudginly. "Mr.?"

"Davis," he answsered, and Claire didn't make one flinch. She was zen. "John Davis."

"Ah. Right," her mom answered, knowingly. Lyle followed her into the kitchen.

"That person was rather frightening," Adam whispered to her.

"That's my mom," Claire said.

"No, not her. She's a delightful woman. I'm talking about your brother. I was afraid there'd be an impromptu massacre."

"From Lyle?" Claire asked. "No, he's just being himself."

"Take my word for it, it's always the quiet ones. Now, if you'd excuse me, I'm going to make myself presentable for dinner," Adam said.

"Do you need a new shirt?" she asked, not wanting to give him a used one, really--she'd have to find a brand new one for him at least.

"No, I'll keep this. One has to dress for the occassion, and tonight the occassion will be active combat." Adam winked at her. "Where's the shower?"

She pointed the way, and decided that she'd go to her room to think about how she'd handle tonight herself. She took a shower herself and tried to find a shirt for herself. She stared at the sundress, once bought for a party by the lake one summer. Well.

She put it on anyway, to be normal and make her mom feel better. She brushed her hair, put on her make-up--it was older, but still good, and soon it became a big deal. A weirdly big deal, though she couldn't place why.

Claire went to the foot of the stairs and heard that Adam was already downstairs. Their voices were floating from the kitchen.

"Let's be honest with each other, Mr. Davis? What has Claire been up to?" Sandra flat-out demanded. Shooting people, fighting in secret government hide-outs, electrocuting herself...Adam could tell her mom any of it.

"Just keeping me out of harm's way."

"So you're like Claire?"

"She's her own sort, but there's a similarity," Adam said. "And it was a very boring job, watching over me, but she handled herself gracefully. You should be proud."

"I am," her mother said, slightly mollified. "How old are you, exactly?"

"Don't I look twenty-seven?"

"I'd have said you were younger, about twenty-five."

"I've been told I age well."

"Have you talked to your family?"

"No, and it's best I don't," Adam said. "I fear that'd be an awkward conversation, all things considered, with what state they are in currently."

Okay, enough. She walked in and gave Adam a look, at which he did back off. She felt completely different as she usually appeared to him: tough. And he looked...clean, and...he wore clean well. She was torn, and decided to just go with what her mom would want to see.

Her plan was to ignore him.

"What are we having?" Adam asked.

"Pasta."

"Goes wonderfully with wine. In fact, it's a much needed note. I see the bottles over there."

Her mom was perplexed, staring after him as he opened the wine cabinet, but Claire fixed him a plate. "Oh, that's an anniversary bott-."

Too late.

"My mistake," he said. "We shouldn't leave it to waste."

Claire shoved the plate at him, making him juggle the bottle and the food. Lyle next, and then her mom. She fixed her own plate, dodging Mr. Muggles, and she wanted such a normal experience as this was her home. This was the part played. Adam stood up politely as she entered and pulled out her seat for her. Next to him. Her mom's face was watchful, and he knew it. This...Claire sat down, and it was almost instinct to be prim about it.

"Now, tell me about yourself, Sandra," Adam said, jumping into a conversation immediately. "That is short for Alexandra, correct?"

Claire mentally scoffed.

"Why, yes," her mom said. "I don't talk about it often, but how did you know?"

"Something about you just struck me. What did you study in school?"

Her mom seemed to have to think about it, after it not being asked for quite some time. "English literature, mostly."

"What else?"

"I was interested in French, at the time."

"Ah," Adam said, and begant to speak in what Claire presumed to be French. And then her mom smiled.

"That is my favorite poem," she said. "Oh wait--" And then her mother...started. To speak French. Lyle looked over at her, fork hovering above his food. Claire had nothing. This was pretty bizarre.

"Your accent is perfect, it's like I'm back in the country itself," Adam enthused, and her mom flushed slightly.

"So, what can you do?" Lyle interrupted. "I hope it's not something lame and gross like Claire's."

She looked down at her plate.

"Lame," Adam observed. "Define lame."

Claire sighed and stabbed Adam's shoulder, and there was a moment of absolute shock.

"That'd be a great definition of lame, Claire," Adam snarked, rubbing in his arm.

"You have the same power," her mom said. "Why, I guess you have something in common. I suppose that's why he's here?"

"Not all of it," Claire said. "He's a good person," she said, and didn't know why she did. All those things--certainly wasn't, and his actions, but...it was the only label she could think of that fit. It wasn't 'good' but it was the only thing she could think of. She noticed he stiffened a bit but her mother accepted it.

There wasn't a lot to say during the rest of it. Oh, but Adam did keep talking, discussing, distracting. For all that happened, neither her mom or Lyle disliked Adam. They couldn't quite manage it. Adam's truly special talent.

Claire fixed the couch up for him, and he wandered in after saying goodnight to her mom.

"You're very quiet," he said.

"You must be exhausted," Claire said softly. He was about to protest...

"A little," he said, sighing. "Did it go well?"

"Yeah, but...you didn't have to."

"I do. Most of the time."

She rubbed his arms, quickly, just trying to shake him out of the mood, or high, he had been in. Playing a part was draining. "Not here."

"You do have --."

"Your past. I know." She whispered under her breath, and she wasn't going to go into her own turn at indirectness at the dinner table. Instead, she found a moral point that she couldn't give up on stabbing him with. "But you see?" she teased. "You could have killed Lyle that first time." That cracked him up again.

"I'm sorry. I--it's the name. The debate point is lost with that name included in it."

"Well, I'm not over forty, remember?"

At that, his eyes fixed on a point on the wall, and he seemed...well, that was Adam. He thought more in ideas and concepts and even ideals rather than practicalities and people. It wasn't necessarily malicious, just a little blind.

"Anyway," she hurried on. "I won't make you rue the day. You can have my bed. I can sleep on the couch."

"No, you have the bed."

"I can really take the couch.

"I'll take the couch," he said.

"I'll take the couch,' she said.

"I'll take the bed."

"Look, I'll take the cou..." Her mouth fell open and she huffed up.

He winked at her again and stretched out on the couch. "I know you want to fight with me."

"Can't."

"Mum's the word," he said drily.

"Because of Mr. Muggles. He eats anything on the floor. Goodnight, John." She began her trek up the stairs.

"Good..." Then he thought about what she said and he bolted up. "Lord."

She winked at him and turned off the light. She still felt out of place. In her head, she was thinking about how to protect Adam if something happened. Protect anyone if something happened. She kept her eyes peeled on the phone until eventually she slept.

Naturally, there was a problem in the morning. Adam woke up quite 'vexed' when he discovered Mr. Muggles had slept on his face.

....That's what you get when you sleep on the couch.

***

Adam sat in the chair in the living room like a king.

When she said he could relax and be himself, she did not intend for him to be a jerk on purpose.

It was quite a contrast, him and this living situation, and Claire observed him quietly--at first. She had leant him some books--especially the genetics book by Dr. Suresh, and that kept him busy for most of the day. Now, at night, he was undistracted and being obnoxious.

Lyle was in the living room, not about to be intimidated, and he played his videogame on the TV, leaving carnage and destruction in his wake. Adam watched him, and seemed to make a sport of it. He'd smirk and not blink, staring down at Lyle. Now, he was Lyle, and had lived with her all of her life. For all that was between them, Claire was having enough of it.

And she did have a legitmate curiosity too. When Adam said he showered, what shampoo did he use? No, this was very important. Her dad was away. So that left her mother's shampoo. To quench her curiosity, Claire wandered past him and sniffed his hair. That was all she did. Then she moved on, knowing the answer. Mom's shampoo.

He slapped his hands on the armrests. "You. You can't just do that and walk away without a word."

"Claire's weird," Lyle said from in front of the TV. Because he had eyes on the back of his head that could also see through a hoodie. Last time Claire defends Lyle.

"I'm not weird," she protested, feebly, and went into the kitchen to finish baking. It was a stress release, and like they had covered, no knives involved.

"She's not the one planted in front of the TV," Adam said.

"Hey," Claire said, turning around. Apparently not the last time. "He's...doing something. He's playing a game and winning. It's a skill."

"It can't be that difficult."

"Why don't you try then?"

"...All right," Adam said. "I will. Give me a control, Lyle."

And that was when it got to surreal for her. She went to do the cupcake baking thing. Lyle came in, grinning about his winning. "That guy sucks."

"Don't rub his nose in it," Claire said, feeling as if she was teaching basic human manners to two people today. "Just teach him how to play better so it'll be...you know, fun?"

Lyle shrugged, walking back to beat Adam some more. Apparently he was back in the kitchen, slumping into the table, because the tide had changed. Mysteriously Adam started to win. Claire went in and saw him really tearing things up.

"Wow," she said. "I have to admit, you learn quickly."

"I wouldn't call it learning," he said. "I'd call it adapting."

She looked down at his chair. (He had moved the chair rather than sit on the floor). "I'd...call it cheating."

Claire spied a spare bit of paper protruding from the cushion. She took it and pulled it out and---it was cheat codes. She remembered Lyle getting that with the game, a bunch of cheat codes that conferred, of all things, immortality to the players. You could also program one player to immortality.

She looked at Adam, who kept a very straight face but didn't look back at her.

"You cheated at Mariocart," she said, putting it out there.

"He shouldn't leave the book out in the open," Adam said, shrugging.

"Now, he's hiding," Claire pointed out. "He has spent like...a whole summer on the game. Like that is his life."

Adam turned to see into the kitchen where Lyle was hiding in his hooded sweatshirt.

"I suppose it is your brother."

"Well, it's just a game. Don't worry about it," she said.

"Yes, but...hold on a minute. I should set things to right with him."

Claire was curious as he walked into the kitchen. "That was interesting. Are you up for a more challenging game, Lyle?"

"I think that was challenging enough, yeah."

"You know, I have a talent for spotting other people's talent. You have quite the poker face. Would you like to try your hand at the game? And profit." Adam held up a wad of bills that he stole from the guard. Really classy. Lyle showed no emotion, but he did shrug.

"Dad has some cards somewhere." Claire raised an eyebrow from her position in the kitchen.

"Go find them," Adam said, "and I'll get us another player."

Claire sighed, about to agree for the sake of it. "Not you, Claire, you don't have a poker face. Sandra," Adam called. "Care to have a game of poker?"

Her mom came into the room from the laundry room, looking interested. "I'm too good at Texas Hold'em to play. It wouldn't be fair," she said, smiling at Adam. Claire was floored. Absolutely...confused. She was about to get angry, until she saw Lyle come back with the cards. Then she got it, as hard as it was to get. She went back to lay on the couch and watch a movie, going back and forth occassionally to check the oven.

She'd admit she'd have a bad moment here and there. They always crept up on her.

"You're very good at this," Adam said, after her mom had folded and left. "You could be great at espionage. Just like your father."

She froze a little, swallowed, and kept on looking at the timer.

"...Yeah?" Lyle asked, as casually as he could.

"Spitting image. It's your turn to deal."

Claire turned off a lot of the lights on her way out, making sure the oven was off so she wouldn't have to come back in there.

"That adds to the ambience. Thank you, Claire."

"Next, we'll have the smoke," Lyle said, a little more animatedly, and Adam chuckled. Yeah, they had a good time. She faked sleep on the couch. He'd be forced to go to her room and suffer teddy bear hell. She heard Lyle go upstairs and she kept her eyes closed.

"Quit playing possum," he said, as an echo of their first meeting.

He moved her over, and she had to wake up. "I'm just staying out of the way," she gripped.

"Claire. Why are you sulking?" he asked, not in a mean way. She was on edge though. "I was making an effort."

"Yeah, but you didn't have to go that far," she said. "Leave my dad out of it."

"Why?" he asked. "I'm not...fond of the man, but he is his son. If anything will make him alert, a comparison to Bennet," Adam said, with a grimace, "would do it."

"Yeah, and I'm the adopted child," Claire pointed out. "It's a struggle to have any relation to people that aren't...it's hard to explain. But I fight to have for my relationship."

"And no one, especially me, could understand that," Adam said. She froze as his words sunk in deep.

"...I'm sorry," she said. "I wasn't thinking."

"Think nothing of it," he said, punning her, but letting it go, a rarity for him. Her heart was still racing. "What about your mother? How do you feel in regards to her?" At her look, "I'm curious."

"She thinks I don't tell her things, which...is true. I'll say it's true, that I lie," she said, punning him back. He smiled slightly, shaking his head. "I was wondering how to even tell her about how long I'll be around."

"Don't," Adam said quickly, deadly serious.

"She'll kind of notice," Claire said. "I should, and will, tell her."

"I'll say this for your sake, and yours alone. Certainly not for your father's. The potential of our power can be too much for some minds to handle."

"My mom's tougher than you think."

"I'm not questioning that, but any mind can snap." He hesitated, inwardly debating something....then deciding. "My wife snapped-- two of them, actually--went mad when they realized what I was."

She looked at him with shock and sympathy, reaching out to touch his shoulder--hesitating.

"In short, I'd advise against it," he finished, squeezing her hand briefly, and moving her off the couch. "Go to sleep. There's no harm done to your mother, or Lyle."

Claire accepted it, but took Mr. Muggles upstairs with her. She guessed he needed some real rest.

***

In a surprising turn of events (and she should have seen it coming), Lyle had teamed up with Adam to make her life miserable.

The first offense was showing Adam a scrapbook of her as a kid, and the things, the pictures, in there...she hated Lyle. She should have let his self-esteem die with the burning Mariocart, is what she should have done. Adam now saw her as a girl with bubbles in her hair, smiling at the camera with no teeth in her head, and he'd always remember it. This. Wasn't...

She hated Lyle, as she sat trapped on top of her refrigerator. But overall she now found it too ridiculous to be offended, only amused. They had played her really well. Adam had told her to make some better food for them both, and Claire said, 'sure, if you can get me into the kitchen', which meant never. He had picked her up--picked her up--and carried her into the kitchen and then put her on top of the refrigerator until she agreed to his terms.

"I'll jump down. Not like it'll hurt me."

"Lyle, go get items of sentimental--and expensive--value and place them all around the refrigerator."

What was he up to? Claire wondered, and let him keep her up there. Lyle did as he was told, not thinking in the larger picture, and Claire pulled on Adam's hair roughly while he held her there. Eventually Adam disappeared into the other room while Lyle watched her and then had to watch the stove upon which Adam had placed a lot of food. With the potential for a grease fire.

"What are you doing?" Lyle (finally) asked Adam, when he heard the drawers slamming.

"He's snooping," Claire said, lounging on the refrigerator (as much as one can lounge on a refrigerator).

"Don't call it that. This is espionage. Lyle, you should be paying attention," Adam chided, finding the locked drawers and trying to break into them. Lyle looked nervously up at her and all the items scattered about.

"Dad's too smart," Claire comforted him. "Watch the stove."

"You might want to come in here, actually. I'm close to breaking in here."

"He's trying to burn our house down," Claire clarified for Lyle.

"What a shame for your father's pocketbook." Adam was spiteful because he couldn't get in the locked drawers.

"I don't know why, he's hiding here at the moment."

"Lyle, watch the stove," Adam said.

It only ended at five o'clock. "Good lord, get off the fridge, Claire, your mother's home." And he took her off the fridge, while breaking several items.

Such was her life.

***

Claire wished her life could remain the same, sometimes.

The text came that McKesson was replaced, and now a more brutal man was in charge. They weren't going to collect as much people. They were...

Claire went to find Adam, glad that Lyle and mom were gone for the day. She told him the news, and he lowered Dr. Suresh's book. She waited and he didn't say anything, and she was standing there...

"What does it mean?" Held up the text.

"It means," Adam said, finally speaking, "that since McKesson failed, they'll put an even more brutal man in charge of the operation. Take more brutal and decisive actions. It was better to have the evil we knew, wouldn't you say?"

Claire stared at him. "You...knew this would happen."

"Common sense, really."

Claire's mind was filled with the evil going on because she had gone back, had gone back, and Adam had told her it'd end badly, and he had known--the one thing she did, and it turned into a monsterhorror show. She almost threw the phone but she...restrained herself.

Claire marched upstairs to get her bag packed. She'd take Lyle's phone.

"What are you doing now?" Adam asked.

"You're going to stay here. My mom likes you, and Lyle does too. You'll be fine. And then Rebel will call you and tell you where you can go. He can watch you better than I can, anyway, what with the electronics."

"And where will you be?"

"I've got to go to D.C. Find my dad. My other dad. Get this fixed. Get what I did fixed," she admitted, tears in her eyes, because she wasn't going to let him call her out on it first. She claimed her mistake before he could. She hated being forced to...

"Your best bet is to go shut down the Company first. They are using a very valuable resource. It's unparalleled."

"Thanks. I'll go there first."

"Claire. Now-."

"I'm not a user," Claire said. "I'm not a blackmail artist, whatever it was you called me. If that's what you truly think, Adam, we need to go our separate ways."

"Well. Now-."

She picked up her bag, determined to go out that door on her own.

"Wait, there will be agents out there now," Adam protested.

"I'll wait till I have a distraction," Claire said.

"You don't have to feel uneasy at using me," Adam said-.

"I do because that's what everyone does to you."

"...Excuse me?" He raised an eyebrow but she could tell--she continued.

"I've watched you with my family. They do like you. But they more...relied on you to tell them what to do, and there's something wrong there. You shouldn't have to do that all the time. Even though that's what I do all the time," she muttered. No use hiding it. "Relationships aren't all games. This isn't a game to me, not anymore. And what's happening out there isn't a game; the stakes are serious. And to make sure I don't use you, because I sincerely don't want to--it's such an ugly, nasty thing to do--we go our separate ways."

"...You mean it," Adam said. "You think you can do it on your own."

"I don't know for sure, but I'm going to try."

"I'm going to volunteer to help," he said.

"You," Claire shook her head.

"Telling me what to do like that would be using me. By the way. For your information," he said. "Christ. I'm going to help, free of charge."

"Really?"

"I do need you to shut down the Company. It belongs to you, officially due to Angela, so...."

"I thought so," Claire said. He had roped her back in. Just like that.

"Blackmail may have been a poor choice of words," Adam said. "I can lead you to the Company. It'll make the difference."

May. Claire closed her eyes. "You can come."

"Excellent. When are we leaving?"

"There are agents," Claire reminded him.

"I can distract them."

She wrote the note to her mom, wondering how a daugther (with what she was) can tell her mom (who deserved a normal, happy girl) that she was leaving. All her life--she had wanted to behave the right way to be...what, accepted, a part. Being a cheerleader had been her goal to be the top, to make them proud. What would this do?

"I need to leave your mother a syringe of my blood. I did promise her."

Claire was distracted mid-word. "Why?"

"Her mind. She hates not to remember a good three-fourths of her life." Claire waited. "...She will remember everything."

She wrote her note, thinking it through. "Do you want me to? My apologies, I just wanted to repay the debt I owe her."

"You don't..." She closed her eyes again. "Does she know that? But now that you've brought it up, she'll think about it until she does it. There is no real choice. Isn't that true?"

He looked caught, and surprised, as if he hadn't realized what he was doing. It was as if it was subconscious at this point. Honestly subconscious, that he had intended to sabotage her father as her mom found out more.

"I shouldn't let it happen," Claire said. "It's more mind-tampering in a way."

""I wasn't," Adam began. He stopped and smiled, defensively. "I don't believe I was intending anything specific."

"I'd have done the same if I had thought about it first. But thinking about it..."

"This is the best I can do, Claire," Adam said. "You need to understand I'm what I am now."

"I do. And believe or not, I like what you are. I...lied to my mom all week, so... But you need to understand," Claire said, "that things can be lost, even if we are immortal. There are stakes here. That is my mom. In a hundred years, yeah, it'd be different but not right now."

He looked away. "I'll give it a go."

"We'll play it by ear. See how it goes," Claire said. "If it becomes twisted enough, we'll drop it. But step by step...that's the best way to go about whatever this is."

He nodded. "And the blood? What would you have me do?"

"Leave it. My mom is pretty smart. She'll know what to do."

Adam seemed satisfied. She finished her note.

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