Title: Promise
Characters: Peter, Claire
Word-count: 754
Rating: PG-13 (broken bones and blood)
Disclaimer: If they were mine, well, things would be different.
Spoilers: "Homecoming," based around dialogue from the episode; could be seen as an extra prologue to "Lines" as well.
Feedback: Duh.
Teaser: The cheerleader looks like a nightmare, red shadows and blood, but Peter finds he doesn't care.

-

Falling is oddly quiet, just air and—

And then nothing in a way he's never felt before—

And then he's Peter again, and his body feels wrong as he chokes and coughs and shudders, mind snapping back from something he doesn't understand, feeling as if something is hurting him from far away. But it still hurts even if it doesn't hurt as much as it should, so he twists, instincts to get up and survive winning out against the fear of causing himself more pain in the process. It's only as he feels his hip move as he lifts it and resets it, pop and shift and finally settle, that he finally really sees her, couching before him with wide eyes and open fascination.

The cheerleader looks like a nightmare, red shadows and blood, but Peter finds he doesn't care.

"You—"

He feels something happening on his face, but he doesn't let himself raise a hand (could he, if he even wanted to?) to probe it, instincts warning him not to touch. Feels a bit like someone smoothing fingertips across it and then pressing into the skin, and a bit itchy, too, and he shudders the smallest bit under his skin, resisting the urge to scratch. Makes him think of being five years old again and stuck in bed, Nathan telling him not scratch the spots because they'll never go away then—

"How did you— do—"

Peter remembers a shadow but not one like her and turns, knows that he should be in agony from the movement but isn't really, not really. There's nothing around them, and he looks harder, searching for the body that followed him down to the ground, crashed beside him. He'd tried to grab some part of the other person as they went down, he remembered, tried to make it easier to slow him down if, God forbid, the fall didn't kill him—

How far could one get dragging a big body that refused to let go?

"Where is he?" and his mind's working again in the right way, as if the last little bit is back in the right place—

"I don't know— he ran away before I got here…" He keeps an eye on her but keeps looking around, something like frustration bubbling up in him, curling fingers against the pavement and forcing himself to breathe, aware of glittering eyes on him and the girl's heavy breathing just a foot or so away. He's an adult, he remembers suddenly, and his head swings back around to her, finds her staring back with that same look. "Police," he states shakily, and then feels better at having a plan.

Up until now, the only plan has been to save her, and be prepared to die doing it.

This is completely new to the plan, sitting here with broken bones and feeling half-way okay with it.

"Go get help," he added carefully, and then she's moving, unfolding herself and nodding furiously, bloodied hair hanging around her face in straggling waves. "Okay," she agrees and she's nodding more savagely, so much that a part of him is afraid she's going to hurt herself. "I'll be back," she says, and she gives him a last look that feels like a silent promise, leaving him to study his own mangled body as he hears her footsteps start up and then slow into silence again.

"Hey," she starts, and he looks up immediately, finds her still; she's bloodied and breathless but she's alive, he saved her, he did it, and it's like some piece he hadn't been aware was missing has been fit into him in just the right spot. "What's your name?" she's asking and it takes a heartbeat, a second, to remember before he suddenly does. "Peter," he tells her, and watches her smile faintly, a little thing of relief and gratefulness as she nods a bit, so slightly he almost misses it.

"I'm Claire," she tells him softly, and it sounds like another silent promise.

"Are you the one? Did I save the world?"

He watches her shake her head, eyes glittering in the dim light, and she looks at him in confusion, a tremble under her voice when she answers him. "I don't know," she finally murmurs and shakes her head again, more slowly, "I'm just a cheerleader." And then she's gone, a shadow disappearing into the shadows, and he's aware of the impossible fact that his heart's beating in his chest.

It sounds a bit like a promise.