Their first kiss was a mistake brought on by the mistletoe hanging in Claire's dorm room. What was supposed to be a simple, polite peck on the cheek between family members turned into a full-on, tongue-dancing, ass-groping, five minute make out orgy. Thankfully, Claire's roommate was already packed and gone for winter break.
No one saw them; no one would ever see them, because that couldn't ever happen again.
"You don't have to say anything, Peter. I know." Claire stepped back, bumping into her three luggage bags in the midst of her embarrassment. She should have never moved to New York City to go to NYU, shouldn't have tagged along with Peter on his many silly, stupid heroic pursuits, shouldn't have made eye-sex with him practically every time she was over her father's house, and-- "Oh, god. I really shouldn't have kissed you."
"It's okay," he said, trying to put her at ease. He could always make her feel comforted, even when things in her life got screwed up (and man, was this screwed up). She hated him for it; she always found the protector archetype attractive. Her psychology professor would have so much to say about this situation. "It happened. It's over. But we can't ever let it happen again."
He tilted his head slightly. "Unless the world is coming to an end and we're about to die.. or we're both completely drunk. But.. yeah.. never, ever again."
She nodded in agreement.
Ever since Claire Bennet locked lips with Peter Petrelli, she'd been out in California, riding out the long, slow year. Distance made her crush go away, at least a little.
She didn't spend every waking minute thinking of him and how he had the tightest butt and the best shoulders. She didn't check her hair to make sure every single piece was in place on the off-chance she might bump into him. And she certainly didn't doodle the name 'Ms. Peter Petrelli' in her notebook margins (graduating from university made that part especially easy).
She was doing so well. She was making progress. She was dancing from all the progress she was making, oh yes, how she danced!
Then her death knell was sounded with one unassuming piece of mail, the invitation to Nathan's remarriage to Heidi. Scrawled underneath the time and date were the words: 'Hi Claire, I'd like you to be a bridesmaid in our wedding party. We'll pair you with Peter, he's about your height and you guys get along so well. Call me for more info. -Love, Heidi'.
Claire folded the card back up again. Maybe she could just forget to RSVP and say the invitation never reached her. It was a good excuse. Nathan might accept it.
Then again, she wasn't about to miss out on her father's wedding just because thinking of being in the same room as Peter gave her happy, little worried butterflies in her belly. They were uncle and niece, they were family; they could handle one day without touching each other in tempting places. Couldn't they?
The wedding was a beautiful, decadent affair of roses, chiffon and romance. She envied the happiness her father and her step-mother found with each other. It was the kind of relationship she wanted someday, they were both so sane and.. unrelated. Why couldn't she find something like that?
Despite the growing envy, Claire was enjoying herself. She didn't even jump when Peter linked arms with her and began to lead her down the aisle. He made a gorgeous groomsman, all dashing in his tux and-- she squeezed her eyes shut and cursed herself for thinking of his good looks again.
Someone took a photo and she grimaced even more, knowing the odd face she'd made while scrubbing dirty thoughts of Peter out of her brain would now be captured for posterity. Maybe she could pass it off as a pre-sneeze, brought on by the flowers in her bouquet. Yep, that was it.
'It's okay to have those kinds of thoughts, Claire. We just can't act on them,' she heard Peter tell her in her mind. He patted her arm, which was still linked snuggly around his own.
She shouted back with all the telepathic force she could call on, 'Stop being nice to me! And stop being so goddamn cute! This isn't the time or place or--' . Her thoughts derailed as she caught sight of Matt in the third pew from the alter, a curious expression fixed on his face. He couldn't know, no one could know. What happened was their secret and couldn't be shared with anyone who wouldn't understand.
She sighed as they reached the alter and unlinked from Peter to stand with the other bridesmaids. She grit her teeth in fear as the priest seemed to stare her down; he was one of those old, grumpy ones who ranted about how god would smite the unbelievers at every single mass she'd ever been to with her grandmother. She honestly was starting to wonder whether Father Thomas might someday begin smiting them himself, just to get a jump on things before they all got to the pearly gates.
'I am so going to hell,' she thought to herself.
Peter, who kept taking sideways glances at her, replied 'Me too'.
'Shut up, Peter!'
Claire managed to avoid Peter the whole afternoon, except for photo taking time, which was when she put on her fake smile and ignored the fact that every part of her body thrilled when he stood beside her. The photographer's mantra was verbal torture; every time he repeated it she flinched a bit more. "Everybody closer now. Closer."
Once everyone got to the reception, it was a bit easier to stay away from her uncle. They weren't stuck together in one small church and there were no more photos they needed to pose for together. If she could get through the next four hours, Claire could go back to the hotel her father put her up in and she wouldn't have to see Peter until they were both old, gray and neither of them were attractive anymore. Maybe then the whole cute butt thing wouldn't be an issue.
She ducked down a hallway of the vineyard mansion, hoping Peter wasn't around to notice her evading him. He wasn't worth hiding from anyway; it would have been silly of her to do so. They were family and they got along so well. Heidi even said so. Maybe a little too well but this pointless crush would have to fade away at some point in the future.
So, really, it was pointless to hide.
Yet, she entered the stairwell and did just that. She sat on the cold stairs, her rose red dress bunched up beside her. It felt like she was sitting on a pillow of itchy crinoline. She was probably staining the back of it too since it wasn't the cleanest place to hang out. Most people didn't go to weddings to loiter on the stairs, but then most people didn't get crushes on their relatives.
She was content to stay there until everyone left the reception.. or maybe the apocalypse.
Claire was sure she could stay there until the apocalypse if that meant never having to feel that close to him and never having to want Peter to dance with her like her father was dancing with Heidi right now. Their first dance at the wedding she dreamt about.. it would have been nice. It would have been perfect. It would have been illegal in 48 states.
"Claire?" Peter asked, walking down the staircase from the floor above. She cast her eyes aside when she saw him still dressed up in the tuxedo's jacket, looking gorgeous as per usual. "What are you doing here?"
"What am I doing here?" She narrowed her eyes at him, wondering if he was stuck in this dusty, cold stairwell because he was avoiding her too. Great, they could hide together.. like a bunch of scared little rabbits, not like the people who mated like bunnies that they couldn't be. "What were you doing up there?"
"Oh. I wasn't.. hiding, if that's what you were thinking."
Claire knew when he was lying, she could tell it in the tiny movement of his eyebrows. Those damn eyebrows and the way they wiggled. "Me neither." She stood, brushing off her dress while he took another step down, another step closer. "I totally wasn't doing everything I could to stay away from you."
He frowned, hurt by her words.
"That came out wrong." She babbled, which wasn't like her. Usually she knew what to say and when to say it, she got her diplomacy from her father.. who was Peter's brother.. which made him her uncle, and she was back in the whole circle of wrongness. "I just meant.. I think it's best if I don't see you anymore. Except for those two exceptions you mentioned."
"Right. About that drunken apocalypse we're supposed to have someday.." He placed his hand on her back, sending happy vibes through her body. Happy vibes soon turned into guilty vibes and she pulled away. "Did you see the wine cellar? They've got wine dating back to when.. Adam was an infant. I could show it to you if you'd like."
"You know what, Peter?" She met his eyes and knew the same exact thought was racing through his head. "I think that's the first sensible idea you've had all day."
"Are you drunk yet?"
"I'm trying. I'm really freakin' trying." Claire sat on the ground, her dress getting more ruined as their little, private party went on. She downed a whole bottle of the most expensive wine in the house, not even pausing to think about how they were going to be in so much trouble for destroying the whole stock of wine.
She finished one and Peter handed her another, they'd been at this for an hour now. She desperately needed to pee but wanted to keep every last bit of alcohol in her system. She could feel the effects of the drink starting to work but then her damn healing factor kicked in. It was impossible to poison oneself with alcohol and therefore reap itself benefits when your body kept growing new undamaged cells.
"This isn't working, Peter." She pouted, chucking another empty wine bottle at the wall and letting the glass explode in a bunch of pretty shards. She beat her fists into her dress, like a little girl about to have a temper tantrum. She was so close to having sex with Peter.. so very close.
Peter handed her yet another bottle and got back into position under the spout of a two-hundred-pound keg tank. He drank it straight from the source but still didn't look anymore tipsy than she did. "Keep drinking. This has got to work. It's our only hope."
"And when your brother finds out that we've drank our way through the whole 100 Bottles of Beer on The Wall, what then?" She flopped on her back, knowing a hopeless situation when she saw one. "He is so going to kill us, you know? And we didn't even get to have any fun out of it. I don't like getting yelled at for something I can't even benefiting from."
He shut off the keg spout and then crawled over to her. "Claire.. claaaaaire.. I think I'm drunk. Sooooo very drunk. Seriously, I think it worked.. it's good.. we are cure-ed. We can has teh sexxors now."
"Cut it out, Peter. You're obviously faking it."
He winked and then looked at her through half-lidded eyes. "Reeeeally, Claire. This is me when I'm shitfaced and ready to jump on any random girl, even my niece. That's how-- how drunk.. I am! The que-question, dear Claire, honey, sweetie.. is," he pointed his finger lazily at her, then made circles with it in front of her face. "Are you.. the apple of my eye, my Claire.. are you, drunk enough to make out.. with me?"
Alright. She could play along. "Oh yes, Peter.. I'm sooooooo drunk. I feel all lightheaded.. and tipseee. I can't believe you-- dragging a sweet, innocent thing like me.. down to this.. this booze house to have your way with me! How rude!"
"I'll have you know.. that I would never drag you to a booze house. This is a fine esa-esatb-establishment." His head bobbed; unable to hold it steady in his pseudo-drunken state. "Only the bestest for you my Claire, my Claire-bear."
She bristled against that name coming from his lips, that was the nickname her father gave her; only people related to her called her Claire-bear. And Peter was certainly not related to her tonight. They were just two random, drunken fools that met at a wedding.
She kissed him, shutting Peter up before he could say another word. After all, there were so many other things to do with mouths that it was a shame to use them to simply talk to each other. He tasted the same, the way he had that day in her dorm room and she devoured every inch of him.
"Best drunken sex I've.. ever.. had." Claire breathed heavily, laying there in the afterglow three hours later while Peter regained the ability to walk. He stumbled to his feet, stretching out his legs with a pained expression on his face. All that repression finally unleashed itself in one wild night neither of them would be able to forget for a long time afterwards.
Now that they were sober though, Peter would make some excuse about his dizziness being the result of the wild drunken wine party and not the amazing sex he'd just received from his niece. It was better that way. With any luck, they could pretend to completely black out from the alcohol and not remember a thing the next morning.
"We can never speak of this ever again." Peter sat down, still not very capable of putting one foot in front of the other. He looked down, noticing that half the buttons on his shirt were undone and started to fix them. "It was just.."
"A mistake brought on by too much liquor and I'm a minor anyway, so I really wouldn't want to get you in trouble for corrupting me." Claire pulled the straps of her dress back onto her shoulders. It was now wrinkled and possibly torn in the back, she couldn't quite tell. She grumbled. "My dress is a mess. What am I going to do with it now?"
"You hated that dress anyway."
"Yeah," She smirked, crawling over to him and leaned her chin against his chest, forcing him to stop buttoning his shirt. His abs were just as nice as his butt, if not better than, especially when naked.. but she wouldn't remember that when they were both sober again. "But you certainly enjoyed ripping it off of me."
He tickled her chin and then leaned in for another kiss. This one only lasted a few seconds before he broke away. "We're supposed to be pretending to be sobering up, remember? That's how this works."
"Oh. Right." She frowned, pondering over what her next move would be in that scenario. This happened to her once at high school, at a party she was too young to attend but Claire managed to sneak into anyway. She'd just do exactly what she did then, except for the throwing up on the boy part. Holding a hand to her head, she got off the floor and moaned. "Oh god, headache. I have the worst hangover ever. Eww... Peter Petrelli?! I told you I wouldn't sleep with you if you were the last man on earth. I can't believe you took advantage of me like that."
She marched for the door, but heard him call out to her. "Well.. hey, come on, I was drunk too! I never would have slept with you if I hadn't done all those funnel shots. You're hideous--"
She spun around, arching an eyebrow sexily. It appeared to be opposite day. "Am I now?"
He lied horribly. "Oh, yeah. And ugly."
"What else am I?"
"Well.. you're obviously.. a bad dresser."
"Bad dresser? That's the best you can come up with?" Sauntering over to him, Claire grabbed the back of his neck and pulled in for a kiss. She tickled his tongue and felt his hands wrap around her tiny waist, zippering up the back of her dress, which would have brought a couple of odd stares from the guests in the dinning hall. Not that they wouldn't be wondering about the two of them anyway. She managed to drag herself away, knowing that would be the last kiss between them. "Flattery will get you nowhere, Peter."
When Claire got back to California, she put all her effort into building a successful, happy life. She was ready to tackle the career world and really make something of herself. Something that would make both her father's proud, especially Nathan. He was still pissed at her for the bill the vineyard handed him for the destruction one of his wedding guests did to their private stock.
At least, Nathan didn't know the whole story. Or maybe he just pretended not to know for fear his brain might explode too. At any rate, the version of the story they gave him that night completely left out the part in which Peter gave Claire seven orgasms in three hours and she returned the favor by-- doing things she was still trying to forget about.
Still, she couldn't block everything from that night out of her poor, fragile mind. Every now and then, her mind would drift and she would recall the scent of Peter's cologne-- or how he stood so tall and proud next to his brother when Nathan said his vows. Or how he looked lying naked on the basement floor of the vineyard.
She kept a photo of the whole wedding party on her desk at work. The photographer knew what he was doing, they really did look better when they were close together.
It was stupid though, a childish fantasy with no barring on the real world. They had their one night and she should have let it go after that. Claire told herself a millions times that she would do just that.
She would no longer spend nights pondering where Peter was at that very moment. She would no longer refuse dates because none of the boys on the west coast could match his charm. She would hold their one night precious in her mind but get over it.
After all, Peter told her it couldn't happen again. Not unless they were both drunk, which probably didn't count anymore since they already used that excuse. The only other way--
Claire grinned, the word 'eureka' stretched across her lips.
The only other way was for something apocalyptically bad to happen that would put the both of them in danger. It didn't even have to be real trouble. Peter only needed to believe that their lives were in peril for as long as it took to get undressed, make with the incestuous buggering and enjoy some cuddling afterwards.
It was time to call in the experts.
"Okay, so run this by me again." Sylar spoke slowly as he stirred his tea and sat down in the small so and sat in his living room with Claire. He'd been out of the killing business for three years now but being at his apartment still gave her the creeps. "Because I'm beginning to think you may be high.. which, of course, would make it all the funnier when I do what you're asking but--"
"I want you to pretend to kill me and Peter." She sounded eager, possibly a little crazy. What was that phrase she heard once 'love makes you do the wacky', well this was certainly the wackiest she'd ever gotten over Peter. Still, she thought over this plan during the long trek back to New York City and it was solid.
"So that you can.." He'd heard it before, but needed her to say it again.
She glanced down at the cup of tea she was drinking, mumbling out her answer. It was embarrassing enough without having to repeat it. "Sleep with my uncle."
He nodded, still looking at her like she'd lost her mind. "Right. Um.. Claire, I would love to help you out with your weird little.. thing.. you have with your uncle, but I don't kill people anymore and if the company got word that I started back on my old tricks they'd put a shunt in my head faster than--"
"They won't. I promise." She'd never tell the company anything about the event they were planning. It would be yet another secret to add to her growing list of things to keep bottled up where Peter was concerned.
"So, he's really that important to you?" Sylar wouldn't let it go without needling her a bit. Claire knew she was going to laughed at when she knocked on his door for help, but when you needed people killed you went directly to the best source. "Is Peter that great in bed? Does he know how to make little Claire-bear squeal in pleasure?"
"What? I'm just asking.. and I think I have a right to know, considering what you want me to do. This could completely ruin my 'clean and sober' reputation I'm trying so hard to maintain."
"I think-- oh, god.." She sat back in her chair, the truth so hard to accept, especially in front of someone who would tease her endlessly about it or possibly use it against her in the future if he ever switched back to the other side again. "I think I may be in love with him."
"Wow. And people say I'm fucked up."
She sighed, not wanting to deal with this from him. Couldn't he just slash and kill without constantly mocking her? This was his fault anyway, if Sylar didn't try to eat her brain back when he was evil, then Peter never would have saved her during Homecoming and she wouldn't still see him as her hero and she wouldn't still think he was the only boy who could ever make her truly happy.
As annoyed with Sylar as Claire was when all the facts were added up to it being his fault, she couldn't resist begging for an answer. "So.. you'll do it?"
He set his cup of tea aside and clasped his hands together. "Claire, if it means that much to you; I would be happy to kill you and your uncle."
"But I don't really want you to hurt either of us-- it's just pretend, like acting, you'll remember that, right?"
He gave her a smug look that brought the temperature in the room down a notch. "Of course."
They laid out the plan that night. Claire was supposed to bring Peter along when she went to the movies. Sylar would be waiting outside at the end to kill the both of them, just like the old days when she was just a cheerleader and Peter was just a random hero who was completely and in every way unrelated to her.
"Come out, come out wherever you are. I just want to play." Sylar called down the alleyway. He sent a few pieces of heavy metal sheeting soaring down the darkened back street. They nearly careened with Peter's head while he zipped up his pants, still wobbly after the oh-my-god-I-think-we-might-die-so-let's-fuck-each-other-while-we're-still-alive sex.
Their quick romp in the alleyway wasn't as comfortable as the vineyard sex but it was just as pleasurable, maybe more so now that they knew how each other's bodies worked.
The afterglow didn't last as long this time. Claire covered her head in her hands as the metal crashed into the wall behind their heads. Either Sylar was a really good actor or he wasn't playing anymore. Before she could figure out whether Sylar was still pretending, Peter grabbed her hand and they started running away together. Sylar followed closely behind.
She had to admit it was exhilarating and brought back all the feelings from their sprint through her old high school, back when Sylar tried to kill them the first time. Peter broke a store front window and pulled her into the abandoned building, dodging their enemy for the time being.
"What the hell is his problem?" Peter scowled, watching for signs of an approaching serial killer. "I thought he was in rehab or something.. the company said--"
"Peter. I have a confession." Claire bit her lip. He wasn't going to like this but she couldn't keep the reason why they were being hunted a secret for very long. "You know how you said we could only have sex if our lives were in danger.."
"Claire, what did you do?" He approached her with a oddly placed smile. He actually seemed more amused by the idea than angry. He rubbed her arms, warming her and giving her enough courage to tell him the truth.
She took a deep breath. "I may have accidentally enticed Sylar to start killing again because I needed to get laid. Is that a bad thing? Do you hate me now?"
"No." Peter shook his head. "But now I need to get in contact with Adam."
"Well, let's just say we won't be needing his services anymore."