Title: Shadows
Rating: R (dark themes)
Characters: Claire, Peter, Adam
Pairing: Peter/Claire (implied)
Beta: gidgetzb, who never fails to be amazing!
Spoilers: 2x07, "Out of Time," and even those have been tweaked
Warnings: dark undertones, emotional torture, character death
Timeline: AU as of 2x06, "The Line"
Disclaimer: Dude, if I owned them, this is what we'd be seeing!

Notes: Because Claire looks way too much like Adam, and because my love for David Anders is apparently something I will never, ever escape - first of a three part fic and, yes, they all fit together to tell a really cool story - no, seriously!

Teaser: It's what she would remember, after everything else faded.

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White (Claire)

-

A single shot, a body falling, a bitter scent in the air, so sharp she could taste it.

Broken glasses catching the light, spattered with crimson, ones she remembered picking out.

-

It had been nobody's fault when they caught her, except for his, the one she trusted.

Sedated her and folded her into a body bag, not worried about being gentle.

They couldn't hurt her anyway.

Transported her fast, truck and helicopter, and rushed her into the first facility.

Stripped her out of bloody jeans and a torn blouse, dressed her in white cotton and wheeled her into the room.

Dropped her onto the little bed and closed the door behind them.

-

The room was white, flawless. It had flat walls and a high ceiling she couldn't brush her fingers across even when she reached to her full height and stood on the bed she woke up on. There was a toilet in the corner, as white as everything else - even the little button on the side and the paper holder on the other.

The bed was low to the floor, cold metal and a mattress that should have left her with a sore back and aching shoulders, sterile white sheets covering it.

The metal stopped feeling cold after a while, and she dragged her mattress off and into the corner, badly unnerved.

When she woke up the next morning the metal frame that didn't feel cold anymore was gone.

-

They searched for her as they buried her father, his hands still reaching for her, trying to keep her safe.

Went through each compound they could find, found special people but no cheerleader.

-

She stopped counting the days after the first sixty-eight times she woke up, bored.

Besides, someone would come and save her soon, she just had to be patient.

Well, unless she died of boredom before then.

-

For months, they fought to get to her.

And then things got worse, and the younger one couldn't spare her a second of worry as he saved the world again.

-

She came to the realization that not even boredom could kill her.

-

Saved the world again, promising himself he would find her afterwards.

-

The bright lights in the ceiling were somehow set just right, and they took away her shadow.

She started singing crappy pop songs and wished she could do shadow puppets.

-

They saved the world, and forgot about the cheerleader, busy with another upcoming apocalypse.

Except for two of them, they forgot about the cheerleader.

Three special people in Illinois died but nobody was worried.

-

There was nothing to kill herself with, nothing but the walls.

The fifth time she woke up bloodied, the wall stained red, she gave up and crawled onto her mattress, exhausted.

Fell asleep there, and woke up to find the walls white again, the sheets beneath her clean.

Ran at the wall again, but the same thing happened all over again, and she gave up on that course of action.

Went back into her corner and focused on how uncomfortable the mattress was.

-

They saved the world again, but they still didn't go back for her.

But two of them kept looking.

-

They took her mattress, and left her with nothing but flat walls and a high ceiling and no shadow.

She had the vague suspicion that only real girls had shadows.

-

Found petite blondes all the time, but never the right one.

But the two of them kept looking, because they wanted her back.

The death count rose to three dozen, and the antibodies stopped working.

-

She remembered reading about something called sense deprivation in school (remembered a stool that was uncomfortable and sunlight coming through windows and the smell of chalk) but she hadn't realized or understood—

They had said it was torture, but it wasn't.

It wasn't anything.

-

Two of them kept looking even though they kept finding nothing.

If she had known about it, she would have clung to their determination.

But she didn't, so she couldn't.

-

There wasn't any sound.

Nothing came through the walls and while she could make noise, she eventually stopped and went out of her way to be quiet.

Her own voice sounded odd and unfamiliar, like someone she had known before but couldn't remember.

It reverberated against the walls and came back sounding wrong, so she was careful to keep her clothes from making any noise when she moved, careful to keep herself still except for the moments when she truly needed to move.

A normal person would have rotted away, sitting in the corner all day, but not her.

Her muscles would never atrophy.

-

The two who were still looking for her finally realized they were both looking for her.

Together, came to the sickening realization that they were the two with the most ability to find her but still couldn't.

Looked together from that day forward.

-

Woke up one day (or night) and remembered fingers under her skin.

Pulled her plain cotton top up but found her skin fine, unmarked, no hint of anything.

No pain, but she remembered it anyway, cold metal under her back and someone pulling at her insides.

But there was no proof so maybe she was going crazy.

Didn't let herself think about dissecting frogs in science class.

Didn't let herself think about vivisecting frogs in science class.

-

Found even more facilities and went through each.

Kept looking, because they knew one thing for certain—she wasn't dead.

-

Went to sleep in a white room and woke up in a white room.

But she was sure that she didn't spend all her time asleep in a white room.

Memories came in flashes, white as everything else— hands and scalpels, severing flesh and pulling it out.

No pain, but pressure, and when she woke up in the white room, there's no ache and no scar.

No, of course not— only real girls had shadows and felt pain, had scars.

-

The death count rose into the thousands.

Others finally started looking, but got nowhere.

The two kept looking.

-

Vaguely, she remembered movement.

Remembered launching herself into the air and coming back down, moving to a beat, cheering.

Sun on her face and a dog that yapped at her; sleeping against little stuffed bears that watched her.

A single shot, a body falling, a bitter scent in the air, so sharp she could taste it.

Broken glasses catching the light, spattered with crimson, ones she remembered picking out.

She stopped letting herself remember.

-

They were tired of finding petite blondes that were never the girl they were looking for.

Even the hopeful one, after a while, was tired of hoping.

It was what he was though, so he kept going even when he came out of one facility with a scar that didn't heal.

They kept looking.

-

She pressed her hand down against the floor, palm flat against cement.

Pressure, she decided, watching as her hand compressed against the white.

White noise in her ears and pressure in her hand—

No shadows and no pain, walls that never ended and a ceiling too far away to reach.

The only color was the food sitting at her feet every time she woke up.

So one day, last shadows of her real self flaring in a last desperate attempt to survive, she painted the walls.

-

The older one remembered why living hurt so much.

But he kept looking.

-

Woke up to find the walls white again and colorless food, a mash of white against white.

Pushed the food away and crawled into the corner and cried soundlessly.

-

The death count hit a billion.

And out of the original group, they were the only two left, the two that were still searching.

-

No day or night, only light that cast no shadows.

No pain, just hands that pulled at her insides while she slept and pressure when she tried to hurt herself.

No color, even her hair going pale and lifeless, gold fading to off-white.

No smell, not even herself— she woke up clean every time, smelling sterile and blank.

No noise, except the sounds she made that came out wrong.

She sat in a corner and listened to nothing, didn't let herself think, tried to remember color but couldn't.

The white bleached everything she tried to use against it.

-

No one ever living was as determined as they were.

There were so many girls with blonde hair, but never the right one.

Felt their hearts helplessly jerk in their chest when they saw a flash of gold, only to die inside again when they realized it wasn't her, that the girl wasn't who they were looking for.

They kept looking, because they had all the time in the world.

-

One day the anesthesia wore off, and she woke up as fingers were curling into her insides, white gloves red.

No pain, only pressure, but she passed out anyway, overwhelmed by colored scrubs and voices.

It had taken a good century for her father to stop being affected by drugs— it didn't take her nearly that long.

If the circumstances had been different, he might have been impressed.

-

Sometimes, they talked.

They didn't like each other, didn't trust each other, but grief had a way of changing people.

They talked every time they came back with nothing, so they talked quite a lot.

-

Had to use a new drug each time, and only had a little while to get what they needed before she woke up.

Never actually woke up anymore, but they still had to be careful.

She ate her white food and stared at white walls, stared up at the lights, eyes on the one that sometimes flickered.

She knew she was waiting for someone, but she wasn't sure who.

-

They finally figured out why none of the younger one's powers could find her.

Why he could find anyone else but not the cheerleader, why he could go to anyone else but her.

So they set out to get rid of one person to save another.

-

She stopped waiting for someone she didn't remember.

It took them three years to destroy the indestructible girl.

-

They found her but they didn't.

They found her fading into the walls, folded into a corner, food uneaten on the white plate near her feet.

Green eyes that stared up at a flickering light high in the ceiling were the only color in the room.

When the light flickered, shadows wavered across the room, made it real.

Spoke to her but heard nothing in response; stroked her face like she was a child and murmured her name.

Realized she couldn't even hear them.

Finally gathered her up and carried her out, took her back to the remaining seven percent of the population.

And they realized with complete certainty that it was too late for any of them.

-

Her new room had colored walls and open windows and a door they always kept open even though she never seemed frightened of it closing. They talked to her when they could, the older one sharing centuries of debauchery, leaving out the loneliness of immortality and what it was like to watch your children wither and die.

Not letting himself think about the fact that this was worse.

The younger one brought her teddy bears every time he came home, told her where he got them as if it mattered.

Voices came through the walls as the men set out to save the cheerleader, using the world as an excuse.

They weren't wrong.

The question they needed to answer wasn't how, it was when.

The younger one finally remembered a sketch in a back page of a notebook in Ireland, a small pale shape in a white room, hair that had once been gold as pale as everything around her. Remembered ignoring the sketch for something else, tossing it to the side and moving past it, deciding to save the world without knowing what the world was.

Didn't see the sign until three years and seven months too late, and ninety-three percent were gone.

Found their when, figured it out—save the cheerleader, save the world.