Summary: (PeterClaire) Semi-AU. On the day of Claire's wedding, Peter confronts her about the kiss they shared the night before.
Notes: I don't know if I like this one as much as my first, but it came to me and who would I be to deny the almighty plot bunny? ;)
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters/places/things mentioned.
Warning: Cesty Paire.
She wore all white.
A lie. Pure. Virginal.
She might never have had sex, but she was anything but pure. Her make up sanctioned further untruths. She looked angelic, innocent -- neither of which accurately described the real Claire. All these adjectives fit the woman in the mirror that looked back at her: a vision in a white dress, tanned, blonde, and beautiful. The only thing that didn't lie were her eyes; they were dark blue, a haze of confused, chaotic emotion.
She had kissed him. Peter.
Peter, her hero, mentor, friend.
Peter, the man who had just appeared behind her in the mirror. He was dressed in all black, the image of them filling the mirror with a harsh contrast of color. At the site, her heart sped up, breath catching in her throat. It had to be an illusion.
Claire stood, spinning around, the rustle of her dress grating her eardrums, an unpleasant, vexatious sound.
"Peter," she breathed, "What are you doing? You shouldn't be here," she added, perhaps a tad more sharply than she intended.
"You know why I'm here," he stated cryptically.
She did. God help her, she didn't want to, but she did.
"Peter, please don't go there," she pleaded.
His normally kind gaze was succinct, determined. "We kissed."
"I was drunk," she excused.
"Keep telling yourself that."
"Claire, you had two beers. I checked with Niki."
"Two beers is not enough to get you drunk; only enough to loosen your inhibitions."
"Believe whatever you want. I would have kissed Hiro or Matt or Mohinder if they had been standing there. It just happened to be you."
"So, it meant nothing?" His gaze searched hers deeply, stripping her skin away and baring her bones, her soul, her very being.
"Exactly," Claire forced herself to look into his eyes as she said the word, fighting off the urge to launch herself at him and apologize, to tell him that of course it meant something; it meant everything.
"You're really going to stick to that argument?"
"Why not? It's the truth." If you could call a blatant lie the truth.
"It's the farthest thing from the truth, and you know it."
"No, I don't. It was a mistake, Peter. What else could it be?" She was on the verge of tears but to cry now would be to annihilate the whole façade she had constructed in the last twelve hours. "And don't answer that; it was rhetorical," she cut off his impending comeback.
"You're lying." His voice was suddenly quiet, but it was still filled with disbelief and a hint of anger.
"No, I'm not."
"Yes, you are," he insisted.
"I'm a good liar," she said, standing her ground, "There's no way for you to know whether I'm telling the truth or not."
"But I can," he countered, and took a step towards her.
She took a step back, knowing instinctively that this was a dangerous game, and the odds were not in her favor.
"I don't need to bluff." Another step. "I know you, Claire, probably better than anyone has your whole life." Another step. Claire had to back against the wall to maintain the personal space she needed. "I know you use cucumber scented shampoo," he reached out and touched a golden strand; it took all her willpower not to shudder. "I know you sometimes put chocolate milk on your cereal, that you hate horror movies. I know your favorite snack is Cheetos, and I know that you only drink Coke because you hate the taste of Pepsi."
Another step, the last one. She was now pressed against the wall and he was merely a few scant inches away from her, his breath tainting her lips, coating them with an intimate reminder of the sins she had so recently committed and longed to repeat.
"I know that you bite your bottom lip when you lie." He leaned forward even more, hands against the wall on either side of her head, lips just brushing against her ear, and this time Claire could not have stopped the shiver if she had tried. It rolled over her body, an intense, heated sensation. Visions of their kiss from the night before danced and whirled about in her head even as she soaked in every minute detail of the present. "I know," his voice lowered an octave, "that kiss was not a mistake, and that you wanted it every bit as much as I did."
"God, Peter," she breathed, "You know we can't do this." She latched desperately onto the familiar excuse, clawing at the few remnants of her shredded willpower. She wasn't going to last very much longer, especially if they maintained their current proximity.
"Yes, we can." He backed away enough to make eye contact.
"We can't, and you know it!"
"Why not?" Claire couldn't believe what she was hearing, "It's wrong, damn it, Peter! I'm about to get married! Did you hear me? Married!" She was on the verge of hysterics; the floodgates had opened and a myriad of emotions came gushing out. "You're my uncle! My fucking uncle. It's illegal for us to be together! Not just wrong, but illegal!" She yelled at him, hitting him on the chest with the last point.
Tears streamed in sooty tracks down her face now, tainting the formerly ethereal illusion the carefully applied make up had constructed, and she hit him again before collapsing against his chest. She wrapped her arms around him, then, her lifeline, her sustentation.
"But I love you," she whispered, almost to herself, her face pressed into the cotton of his t-shirt, hidden from his view.
"Then run away with me."
"What?" These words tore her mind away from the exceedingly painful idea of losing him forever. Or, more accurately -- and even worse -- still having him but in any way but the one she truly wanted.
"We'll move to Paris. It's not illegal there, and people still need saving in France," he said, gazing earnestly into her eyes, "I can't live without you, Claire. I tried. I failed. I love you too much."
She shouldn't have even considered it; she should have told him "No," immediately, and proceeded to live a peaceful, though unhappy, lie. What was her life, anyway, if not one huge web of lies?
"Peter..." Claire shifted away from him slightly, hating the emptiness that surrounded her when she wasn't in his arms.
"Claire, listen to me." His hands rested on her shoulders, then, gripping them lightly but firmly. "Give me one reason why we shouldn't do this, and I'll leave." His eyes were hypnotizing in their intensity, and Claire knew he meant everything he was saying. "No lies, and none of the We just can't because it's wrong, bullshit. Just give me one real, true answer, and I'll walk out this door right now. You won't ever have to see me again, if that's what you want."
To send him away without even trying would be to tear her own heart to shreds, and Claire just wasn't that strong. So she tried to come up with a decent reason; she really did. She racked her brain again and again but failed. He was right. There was no true, logical excuse for her not to run away with him.
How had she never been aware of this before? It would have saved her so much grief, so much longing. She had to tell her fiancée, of course; she wasn't cruel enough to simply leave him standing at the altar. He wouldn't understand -- no one would -- but it didn't matter. Claire knew she was saving them both from the inevitable pain that would have resulted from the marriage.
Peter watched as the realization dawned in her eyes, followed by shock, hesitance, then, last of all, uninhibited joy.
He kissed her then, strongly, passionately, lovingly, and Claire responded in kind for a few seconds before she pulled back.
"I have to go tell him," she explained.
"Go," he said, "I'll be here when you get back." His eyes were kind and understanding as they held hers.
Claire started to walk away but paused when she glimpsed herself in the mirror. She stopped in front of the glass to wipe the mascara smudges off of her cheeks, and Peter stepped in behind her. The image of the two of them together still made her heart skip a beat; the only difference was that this time, it was from happiness instead of longing.
"You're making the right choice," he whispered into her hair as he drew her close.
And Claire knew with complete certitude that she was.
A/N: Just a friendly reminder to click on the little purple button:)