Title: Lifetime
Rating: NC-17 (sexual content, adult themes, disturbing imagery)
Warnings: Implied emotional incest, huge age gaps, lack of actual dialogue, character death, voyeurism
Pairings (in no exact order): Peter/Claire, Peter/Elle, Elle/Claire, Adam/Elle, Claire/Adam, Elle/Claire/Adam
Beta: gidgetzb, who not only checked it over but assured me that, no, this was not shit! Any mistakes are mine!
Spoilers: Through S2, just to be safe, but, yeah, just the basics on who everybody is.
Disclaimer: Dude, I so wish they were mine— I think everybody here knows what I'd do with 'em.

Notes: Things to be found in this fic include but are not limited to - a softer Adam than usual, my first not-just-implied threesome in a while, a healthy dose of vaguely written smut, excessive overuse of the word "and," a depressing look at future!Paire, and a good amount of angst because, you know, this is me that wrote this thing. Bottom line, I think, is that I'm convinced that Claire's pretty much fucked when it comes to her romantic life, eh?

Teaser: This is how she spends her first lifetime - and the ones after that.


Claire loses her heart, the first time, to the worst possible person, and it takes her a long time to realize she does.

They both cry when they see each other for the first time since That Night, the night the sky lit up, and they hold each other until neither of them can breathe but neither of them care so it doesn't matter. They split up again (a half-dozen different homes for her and New York for him) but they stay close and when she's preparing for college, he's the one who offers suggestions that don't have any motives. He even promises (laughing but sincere) to help her move into her dorm, chuckles that he'll carry her boxes for her because it's the "guy thing" to do.

She's not close to Nathan, doesn't think of the Petrellis as family, but Peter's there whenever she needs him.

If they're closer than they should be, she doesn't worry about it— because she has him, can depend on him.

Peter comes by when she's heading off to prom and stands at the bottom of the stairs as she tromps down carrying her heels, her hair up and her body wrapped in green and gold. She doesn't have a date but she's going to have a prom and she knows it's only because of how much her father worked for this that she has it, has even this chance to have this. So she's happy, and she wonders later on if it was because she was happy that everything changed.

Maybe she tempted the Fates, and they punished her for it.

She's halfway down the stairs when she notices the way he's staring at her, and she hesitates because of it, not because it's a new look (it's not and she sees it whenever he shows up for a visit in that moment before he wraps his arms around her) but because he's never looked so horrified at the same time. Her joy is shredded but her smile's still there and she starts moving again, jerking in a breath (stung) when he looks away from her like he doesn't want to see her.

Her mother hugs her then, a crushing squeeze, and by the time Claire's able to pull away, Peter's gone.

Things are different after that, and she ends up moving into her dorm alone.


Claire loses her innocence, one small blow at a time.

Elle is the one that Peter brings with him (as a fucking date) when she gets dragged to a Petrelli dinner.

Elle is tiny and fine-boned and almost too beautiful, blonde hair a neat fall around her face, and he keeps her by him always, touches her wrist when Claire walks by. He's never alone with his niece, keeps Nathan between them when they happen to share a room, and even when he talks to her, he never says a word.

She doesn't have anyone else, he insists when Claire manages to confront him about it— but he doesn't meet her eyes.

Claire stays in New York for the holidays, stubborn, wanting her anchor back, but it's a disaster and he breaks her down over a few weeks with bad excuses and a cold shoulder.

Elle hates small dogs and despises cheerleading, sings annoying pop songs extra loud when Claire's in the room, complains about how "young" Claire is and how "useless" her power is, and she only ever says the words when the other girl's in the same room. But Peter doesn't stop her, just stares at a spot above Claire's head and crosses his arms and looks like he's trying to be anywhere but there.

One day when they're alone, away from Peter, Elle laughs and calls herself the anti-Claire, but her voice cracks and her mouth trembles and Claire has to look out the window to blink away sudden tears burning in her eyes.

Things are different between them after that, and when she leaves New York, her heart bleeds for Elle, too.


Claire loses her sense of balance (irrevocably) when she finds Adam Monroe sitting outside her English lit class.

She knows who he is immediately, recognizes him from the picture Peter showed her before he stopped looking her in the eyes, and she remembers how panicked everyone was when they had found out that someone had dug him up. And then she notices Elle beside him, and she takes a quick nervous breath as she tightens her fingers around the strap of her bag and takes them both in, two pairs of blue eyes that seem fascinated with her.

Elle's staring at her the way Peter used to, and she realizes it's been six months since they've been together in the same room because Elle's been busy with something everybody whispers about but then won't share with her because she's just a child—

Claire looks at Elle, drinks her in, and knows with sudden clarity who it was that dug Adam up two years ago.


Claire loses her normal life, and this time she knows it's going to stick.

Her mother's somewhere safe with her brother but her father's in danger (the fact that she's being protected by Adam Monroe and Elle Bishop lets Claire know how much danger) and the Company's floundering and Adam's the only one who knows enough to help keep them from going down with it.

They spend a week traveling together and she finds that Adam has a story for every occasion and seems to share a secret language with Elle, conversations of slight smirks and side looks that make Claire feel like an outcast. They all share a hotel room (Adam says it's best to stay together) and Elle and Claire end up sharing a bed while Adam watches infomercials and stuffs himself with bad room service.

When she wakes up in the middle of the night and finds Elle slipping fingers back and forth across her stomach, she doesn't push the hand away, swallows and glances over, meets blue eyes in a dark room luridly lit by the television that Adam's now watching a rerun of Facts of Life on. She thinks of Peter for a moment and then she stops because Elle pushes her hand up and beneath her shirt and Claire bites her tongue and closes her eyes because it actually feels good.

And then she remembers Adam's in the room and opens her eyes and looks over, not sure what to expect.

He's watching the screen but he's grinning, so she pushes Elle's hand away and rolls over, wrapping herself in the sheet, heart beating so hard it hurts in her chest. But when she feels an arm slide around her waist nervously a few minutes later, she doesn't shove it off, instead laces her fingers through Elle's and falls asleep like that, comfortable in a way that she knows she shouldn't be with a centuries old murderer and a sociopath who could burn her to a crisp.

Somehow, it's the best sleep she's had since she came down her stairs on prom night.


Claire loses what's left of her fear of Adam.

Two days before they get to New York, she leaves them asleep and heads down for coffee only to end up walking around the pool with bare feet because she hasn't gotten to enjoy the clear air for a while. By the time she heads back for the elevator, the coffee is cooled but she isn't bothered and knows they won't be either, sets it down as she digs out the key card and slides it in.

Twists the handle and peeks in and then stops, frozen, watching blonde hair move against a pale back.

Elle's back and it's odd how beautiful it is, the long sweep of a spine and the way her waist curves into her hips, how the hair sways back and forth. Claire's not a virgin, hasn't been since she was seventeen but she's never been very sexual because she's been so busy pretending to be someone she isn't. Dimly, she's aware of the fact that what she's doing is worse than watching really bad porn on her father's computer when he was away for the weekend.

Then she remembers Adam grinning when Elle felt her up and decides that he doesn't deserve any fucking privacy, the smug hypersexual asshole.

So she stands there and watches Elle move in that steady rhythm on top of Adam, bites her lip softly when she spots Adam's hand gripping a small hip— and then bites her lip harder when Elle makes a noise that can only be a moan, and the sound goes straight to Claire's groin like a jolt of liquid fire and it's fucking embarrassing that she's wet but she can't stop watching—

She had known that they had sex on a regular basis, they hadn't hidden it from her, but still—

Elle makes that noise again, louder than before, and Claire makes a conscious decision to close the door and walk away and drown herself in shame (wouldn't last anyway) but she keeps watching because she doesn't actually feel ashamed. She isn't actually seeing anything, just a back and hands and movement that's getting faster but Elle is beautiful and Adam, she realizes with a sharp breath, has absolutely beautiful wrists and strong fingers that slide around a waist and pulls down a small body hard and the noise Elle makes at that is almost a cry—

Claire wrenches herself back from the door, closes it slowly and drags in short panting breaths, furious at the ache between her legs and cursing them for not just doing it in the shower so she wouldn't be caught in embarrassing horrible situations like this. She notices Adam's coffee at her feet and almost kicks it over but then stops herself because that would be a childish thing to do and she's not a child—

She thinks of Peter for a heartbeat, how he used to look at her when he used to meet her eyes—

There's a noise behind the door and she tightens her hands into fists, knowing Elle's voice even through the wood and she grips the railing in front of her because the sound does things to her, leaves her breathing fast and staring down at the pool far below, the way the sunlight makes it sparkle. There's silence in the room but she waits anyway, stares at the pool until her eyes hurt before letting herself in.

She finds Adam stretched out under the tangled sheets and flipping channels, looking like some kind of sated cat, all long lines and sharp eyes and he grins at her when she hands him his coffee.

Through the bathroom door, she can hear the shower running full blast and she wonders what Elle looks like wet.

Claire realizes then that Elle and Adam always meet her eyes.


Claire loses the respect of the others.

When the three of them get to New York, Peter looks her in the eye for the first time in years, glares at Adam and Elle and then turns and stalks out of the room and she hates him suddenly, violently, wants him to suffer. He's acting like a brat, a child, and he needs to get over it, be an adult because they all need each other right now. Hiro treats her like the plague, and the others stare at her like she has an extra head but Elle is always at her side.

Adam comes and goes but he gives her a massive amount of his time when he's there, watches her as if he's been waiting for her. He shares his secrets with her, reaches out sometimes and slides his thumb gently across her jaw and stares at her the way Peter used to, as if he could never want anyone other than her, eyes heated and impossibly dark beneath the clear blue. It's overwhelming (how Adam sees her when he looks at her) and the way Peter glares at them when he catches them sets her teeth on edge because he's staring at her as if she's stabbed him in the back.

One day she tries to talk to him but all he does is make more excuses about how even talking about it (they both know what it is) is wrong.

We were made for each other, Adam tells her softly one night on the stairs when he's about to leave, as he's slipping on his coat and running his palm over his scalp in that way she notices he does only around her or Elle. She's in her sleep shirt and ends up blinking dumbly when he kisses her slightly, carefully, as if he's afraid she's going to break into pieces and he won't be able to put her back together again. We were made for each other, but I'm a patient man, Claire, and I can wait forever.

He's gone then, but not completely, and she finds Elle standing at the top of the stairs and staring down at her when she turns and heads back up to her room to lie in her bed and consider his words and what they mean.

When Elle kisses her later that morning, a quick nervous press of a soft mouth against hers, Claire kisses her back.

And it's just them, and the others don't matter.

Not even Peter.


Claire loses her father, and this time she doesn't get him back.

There's nothing left to bring back (no body to inject blood into) and she sends the Haitian to her mother and her brother as she washes soot and ash off new skin, blames the burning in her eyes on the water she tilts her head back to stare up at. Only when she's sure that it's been done, long after the water begins to freeze her, only then does she step out to fold a robe around herself, fumble blindly out of the bathroom and into her bedroom.

Pauses in the doorway when she spots her cell phone blinking at her from the bedside dresser and snatches it up, realizes there's a single voicemail, startled to hear Adam's words of quiet consolation reach her. He's on the other side of the world, she knows, and despite the fact that he didn't give a shit about her father, he does give a shit about her.

She listens to it again, memorizes it, and then she saves it and puts her phone away and then she cries.

Claire's still crying when Elle knocks on the door and then lets herself in, soot-covered and smelling like burnt meat, dirty face tear-streaked as she smoothes palms down her thighs. She opens her mouth and then closes it, and she looks small and breakable and Claire goes to her. She's not sure who's holding who, who's the anchor but it doesn't matter and it's more than enough because Adam lets himself care and Elle's here.

Peter doesn't come to offer his condolences.

So Claire doesn't go to him for any.


Claire loses her heart a second time, to Elle, and finds a true happiness.

As the Company collapses, she grieves and slides into Elle's life and even though she misses Peter now that he's again pretending she doesn't exist and even though she desperately misses Adam (somewhere out there trying to keep the aftermath of the Company from touching the two of them) she loves Elle—

They manage to share a normalcy together that neither of them ever had in their own lives.

Elle even brings home rings one day after a few years, slim gold bands that fit them perfectly.

It's fragile and yet it's theirs, just theirs, something nobody else will ever have, and Claire doesn't think about Elle getting old or losing Elle or anything else that she can't handle even thinking about. They go to a carnival for their first date and she'll remember it forever— she spoils Elle, buys her cotton candy and teases her mercilessly as they wait in line for the roller coaster and she snaps a picture of weak-kneed Elle getting off the coaster green-faced and saves it for Adam and then later sends it as Elle is trying to win her a bear.

This is theirs, just theirs, and it only belongs to them— and yet he has a place in it, a place where he fits just right.


Claire loses control when Adam comes back into town, promising more than a few days.

She already knows Elle's body, the curves and dips of it, the way it fits together and now she explores Adam's and there's a certain grace to it, to the way his parts fit together to make a form. He has beautiful wrists, delicate but strong, and she likes those the most and he chuckles when she says it because apparently he's had other women who decided those are their favorite part of him.

Adam sleeps like a cat, arches into a position that can't possibly be comfortable and then settles, tucking an arm under his neck and closing his eyes and it's almost too comfortable, not because it's two bodies she's stretched out between but because they both seem to gravitate to her and it's a lot to find herself in the middle of. And yet it's more than even that— they have a language that she can understand but still can't speak, and sometimes their fingers knot together against her skin.

Sometimes their fingers don't just knot but push, stroke inside her until she comes apart and she doesn't feel her body anymore. When she falls back into her skin long minutes later, she always finds herself squished comfortably between Elle (and her usual post-coital babbling about food) and Adam, who sleeps like a cat and gets restless when she tries to curl herself too tightly around him when he's already asleep.

He likes falling asleep curled up with them, though, and the distinction seems to be everything for him.

Claire doesn't realize it at first but Adam visits less often as the years roll by and she finally understands that he doesn't want to risk tainting what time the two of them have together— and that's how much he loves her.

Peter calls her every night and always leaves a message but hangs up when she tries to speak to him.

And his voice sounds the same as it did when he saved a cheerleader in Texas decades before even though it doesn't.


Claire loses Elle after five decades, and she knows this is the end of her first lifetime.

She gets to her mid-twenties before she stops aging, grows up to be a small but well-built woman with long blonde curls that Elle spends hours twirling around her fingers. During the last years, she pretends to be Mrs. Bishop's daughter and then later her granddaughter because it was always better to comes up with answers before people felt compelled to ask the questions. And it hurts (and Claire knows that Claire Bennet is dying too) but she never once wants to leave it because she wants to be with Elle.

Then Elle's gone, and the silence is deafening.

Peter comes to see her to offer condolences— but even though he could break down the door or move right through, he doesn't, just knocks a few times and then tells her he's sorry through the wood in a cracked voice and leaves. It's Adam who finally tracks her down two days later, finds her sitting in the dark and covered in her failed attempts to end it. She doesn't know how he knows but she's not surprised to see him and when he crouches, she pools against him, drops her face into the curve of her neck and breathes him in.

As he packs her clothes an hour later (after she finally lets him wash her off and wrap her in clean clothes) she digs through his wallet because it's something to do to keep from thinking about Elle.

Fake credit cards, fake ID, proof of the existence of a man who doesn't exist—

And a picture from years before of a weak-kneed little blonde getting off her first roller coaster, printed and carefully cut out, slipped into the plastic sleeve beside a snapshot of herself, a woman with an already old sad smile and long blonde curls. She clearly remembers sending it, hoping he would get some enjoyment out of it, and yet to see it causes her to jerk in a breath, startled at how something tight and horrible inside her loosens, allows her to start breathing again.

Claire's not the only one Elle made human for a lifetime.


Claire loses her first lifetime, but not the memory of it.

They carry Elle with them— Claire with two rings around her neck (she remembers when Elle brought them home with a blush because she was so embarrassed by how badly she wanted them both to wear rings) and Adam with a picture in his wallet and no matter how often he loses his wallet, he always has the picture.

In Italy, she has him for the first time in decades, bites him in some attempt to mark him as fingers drag a crushing orgasm out of her, almost painful because it's been so long but Adam still knows exactly how to pull her out of herself. They lay quiet and languid after they're both sated (after they would be numb if they were normal) and when she rubs her thumb against that spot just below his navel, he shivers like he always used to.

Things are different after that, and they're different in the right way—and she enjoys this, the way she laughs delightedly at making him react so strongly and he gives her a wounded look like she's just hurt his delicate male pride and that just makes her laugh harder.

Adam still has a story for every occasion and every place, remembers names and faces and she knows that's just the fact that they never lose brain cells but it still makes her laugh because he can even imitate the most ridiculous accents. He still hates even the mention of Japan— time has yet to erase the bitter sting of the betrayal he still can't get over (gnaws at because he still hates himself for falling for the "hero spiel," as he calls it even now) and she knows she's the only one who sees the way his eyes go bleak and too soft all at the same time when he talks about it.

Proof that he's human and she knows her loss will be just as raw in four hundred years, she's sure of it.

They don't forget anything, and it's just one of the many perks they have from their seemingly simple power.

Adam still knots fingers against her skin in the nights, pushes and pulls at her until she begins to fall apart with small noises and dragging movements against him. His mouth moves across her skin as if he's been starving (years, decades, centuries— lifetimes) and he always calls her Claire when she comes that final time, whether it's a murmur against her back or a short cry when she's being brutal the way he sometimes likes it, sometimes needs it.

Claire's the only one he lets himself need— he tells her his secrets and slides his thumb along her jaw and she knows how many lifetimes he's waited for her because he says it and doesn't hide it, has waited too long to ever hide it, always meets her eyes even in the quietest moments that no one else would care about.

The two rings remain around her neck and eventually, a third one decorates her hand and that one never leaves.


February 19, 2008