He had no business being here. He didn't know her beyond the things spoken of her by her father. And others who knew of her. He'd never officially met her or anything.

So, why did he care what her reaction would be to seeing that her classmate was no longer the young man she'd known just a few hours ago?

He stood outside the room, listening as she talked.

'I know you probably don't want to see me right now or hear what I have to say, but I have to say it.'

A pause, likely collecting her thoughts or getting the courage to go on.

'What you did to me, what you tried to do to me was wrong. But what I did to you was wrong, too, and I'm sorry. I think that everyone deserves a do-over at least once in their lives.'

Her words surprised him. Astounded him really and people had stopped surprising him years ago.

'I don't know you. Who are you?'

'Brody, it's me, Claire.'

'Why do you keep calling me Brody?'

He grimaced slightly at the tone the conversation was taking. She'd leave in a minute, confused. She'd go home and talk to her father about it who would feign lack of knowledge regarding the situation. Her father would then come talk to him. More memories to erase so that she wouldn't remember. And it would have to be more than just this conversation because likely she'd try again if she could recall all that had happened leading up to this moment.

What Claire's father didn't understand about his gift, no one did really. When he took the memories, he saw what he took. The good and the bad. The evil in people.

The young man lying in that hospital bed had very little good in him for Rene to see or leave behind. It was why, unbeknownst to Claire's father, he would keep an eye on him to ensure he wasn't harming anyone else. Some people, Rene believed, no matter how memories were altered were inherently good or evil. This one was evil. Claire hadn't been the only one victim to him. Rene witnessed several attacks, escalating. Claire was lucky she'd survived, the next one likely would not be so lucky. He'd gotten a taste of killing and with it the realization that there was a way to silence his victim permanently. He'd be sure the next one didn't show up at school the next day.

He'd seen what had happened to Claire as well as the others. Claire's attack was the one that affected him most, though, because he knew her. The pictures were accompanied by a soundtrack of her screams, her attempts at pushing him off of her to no avail. He experienced it just as the young man she'd known as Brody did when she stopped breathing. He saw him drag her and dump her into the river like a piece of garbage.

A piece of garbage that was currently standing beside his hospital bed apologizing to him. It was baffling to Rene that she would feel the need to do that. There was little Rene felt the need to apologize for. Everything he'd done was for a reason. At first it was to survive. And now? It was to make the world a better place, one safe for those like him and Claire.

He tried to remember the first time he'd found her beautiful. He'd known her since he was barely a teenager and she was learning to crawl or some milestone babies her age accomplished. He hadn't touched her mind, her memories the night he had first altered Sandra Bennet's. She was just a baby so there'd been no need. He hadn't seen her again for years and at first it had only been a picture on his partner's desk.

What her father did not know was that he'd been chosen to be his partner for a reason. Those who had more influence than even Mr. Thompson himself had ensured it happened. All to protect Claire. To ensure no one knew who she really was.

The stories her father shared failed to do her justice. Her spirit. The young man she apologized to tried to rape her.

What had stopped him?

Not a conscious or a change of heart upon hearing her screams.

Her death.

That was the only that that had stopped him from seeing that violent act to an end. (He was grateful this was the case, too. He knew full well that there were some out there who wouldn't have let the fact she was dead stop them.)

He hadn't gone to the police to report it (and as he hadn't actually raped her he could have told a story about what happened without incriminating himself) so that her parents could get some peace in at least being able to bury their daughter. He'd dragged and dumped her, going to school the next day as if nothing different had happened the night before.

Rene thought of himself as a good man overall. The morally grey things he did were for the greater good. Some wouldn't think that was a justifiable excuse, but they didn't know what he did. Hadn't seen what he had. Nor would they ever, for only he knew what he saw. Only he knew what his gift fully entailed. It wasn't as simple as pulling memories out. How no one stopped to realize that he had access to those memories baffled him. Of course, no one but Noah realized he could speak so he imagined even if people like Mr. Thompson suspected the full extent of his gift he assumed his secrets were safely tucked away in the brain of a mute.

She'd never know the reason the young man couldn't remember. She'd wonder, yes, but like everyone else she'd move on and forget without his influence.

He'd be tempted to take or alter her memories here without her father asking it of him. Surely she'd be better off not remembering her attack. What woman wouldn't be?

Until he'd heard this conversation. Heard firsthand the forgiving nature that made her so inherently good.

He'd leave her intact, let her remember even when her father asked it of him tomorrow. It hurt a part of him to think of her being in pain, thinking the next young man who tried to kiss her would turn violent.

She needed to remember, though, to know what she was willing and able to forgive. Taking her memories would alter that somehow; change her outlook, however slight.

His memory, though, one last alteration had to be done. He could not remember this conversation with Claire. The name she'd called him by, or the fact that she'd implied he'd done something wrong or bad. These things had to be wiped. He would leave nothing to chance that the young man's second chance took.

Rene would act at the first hint that the second chance was a futile one. He would not allow another woman to suffer through what too many already had because of this young man.

~The End~