Rating: PG-13 by default
Fandom: HeroesSeason: Two
Through S2.
Warnings: Character Death(s)
Characters: Claire Bennet

Disclaimer: I'm borrowing these from the striking writers.

Summary: Claire thinks she understands now what forever really means.

Forever by SLynn

Claire Bennet was going to live forever.

No one, not in her shoes, could really understand the meaning of the word forever.

To most people it's an abstract. It's a word thrown out, that to them, indicates an extreme amount of time. The say it, but don't understand it. It's meaningless.

They don't ever really think about how infinite time is; how endless is forever; how ominous.

At first, it had been reassuring, that sense that she would never die. That no matter what harm may befall her, she would survive it. She was going to be okay for the rest of her life. It had taken awhile to sink it, but once it did, she'd felt invincible; she'd felt safe.

That feeling, that safety net, had made her reckless, and foolish, and unwise.

That's what power does.

She knew now that she hadn't been ready for it. Claire hadn't been ready for the knowledge of what her power really meant. She hadn't been ready for the consequences.

She wondered if anyone ever could be ready.

The first time it should have really struck her, what this new found invincibility meant, was when her father had died. Claire should have known then, but she didn't. How could she? Most children know instinctively that they will outlive their parents. It's sad, but it's a fact of life. It is how nature works.

She'd been grieved, and angered, and panicked over his death, but she still didn't understand. It was a stray thought in the back of her head, never quite brought to life.

Maybe she didn't see it then because he'd come back.

Maybe she should have seen it for that same reason.

Noah Bennet had returned from the dead, aided by her blood, and forever still felt abstract.

Everything was alright again. That stray thought was silenced. It was tucked away with a victorious smile. She would live forever, and so would they.

Claire would see to it.

And then, not long after, Nathan Petrelli died.

Nathan Petrelli, her biological father, whom she grudgingly loved because she would.

He'd been too far away to do anything for; too far away to help or to save.

When he died, the word forever began to lose some of its appeal; it began to feel less abstract.

Nathan had been the first to leave out of her life, but he'd hardly been the last. One by one, they'd slipped away while she wasn't looking. One by one, they'd disappeared, forever, out of her life.

Her mother was next.

Sandra Bennet had died peacefully in her sleep after Claire had realized that, even if she didn't age, her blood could not stop others from doing the same.

Her mother, her father, her brother; they all went in their turn. Friends and family, she'd watched it all. Claire had tried to help them, had tried to prolong each life that she could, but no one wanted that. Not really.

Peter Petrelli was the last to go.

He'd stayed the longest, he'd held on for her. His ability mimicked her own power, for many, many years, just so she wouldn't be alone, but it didn't last. Peter had begun to age. Peter had begun to grow tired. Claire knew that he would have stayed longer if she asked him to, and she almost had. She had been a selfish creature, but by then she was no longer unwise. Eventually he would succumb, it was only natural, and it would be cruel to ask him to resist.

Claire had told him to go.

Peter's death marked the end of what Claire now called her first life. He'd been the last one left to remember the beginning. He'd been the last one left to remember her roots.

For some time, Claire had despaired. She wasn't even sure how long it had been. It could have been days, months, years or decades. Time was no longer important. Time was now the abstract; forever was what was real.

Still, she persisted. There was no other choice.

Claire began her second life.

In her second life, she had a family. She needed someone to share her time with. She needed something to ground her again.

And, part of her hoped, that maybe one of her children would have her ability. That maybe she'd find out that she didn't have to spend forever alone.

In total, Claire had four daughter and three sons. Not all in one life; not all with one husband.

Not one of them shared her gift.

The first family, the first she had to leave, was the hardest to get over.

Claire hadn't realized when she'd begun that eventually, prematurely, it would have to end.

Part of her life was always a secret from them, for their own protection, and because of that, she could never stay too long. Claire couldn't stay too long, afraid to attract unwanted attention. Forever had made her ageless, and eventually someone would notice.

Still, she'd always waited, perhaps longer than she should have, until her children were grown. She couldn't stand the idea of them growing up without both of their parents. Claire was still selfish, too selfish to be alone, but she couldn't be cruel.

Even after she left their lives, she continued to watch out for them; for all of them. Claire had tracked over the years her children, her grandchildren, her great-grandchildren and so on. Claire had extensive records of it all: their births, their lives, their deaths. She kept track because she cared, and because it gave her something to do.

She never regretted it, but it never made her as happy as it should have. Claire knew each time she met a man and fell in love, married and had children, exactly how it would end. Exactly how soon it would end.

After her first family, at the end of her second life, Claire decided to travel.

Claire spent years living abroad in Europe and Asia and Australia. She'd been just about everywhere. She learned many different languages. She adopted many different religions. Secretly, she might have been looking for more. Like answers or others like herself. She never found it.

Or, at least, so far she hadn't.

Never was like forever now; an abstract. When you had an eternity of time at your disposal, there's no such thing as never. Never was, in reality, just an eventually.

Claire still held out hope that eventually would be someday.

It had to be.

She knew that she could wait. After countless lives lived, she'd grown very patient. She hoped now she wasn't as foolish as she once been; as naïve.

Claire knew now exactly what forever meant and what it felt like. It wasn't about being invincible or protected. It wasn't about being special.

Forever was endless, and expansive, and exhausting. It meant starting over. It meant losing what you love most over and over again. It meant never having an excuse. Forever came with no obligations and no conscious which you did not make for yourself. It was tedious and mundane, ever-changing and new.

Forever wasn't an abstract measurement of time. It was a curse.

Claire Bennet was going to live forever.

The End