Ease Your Pain

"I need you…"

"Claire? What...?" The line was dead before he could finish the question.

Peter Petrelli stood on the sidewalk of a busy New York City street staring at his cell phone. It wasn't like Claire Bennett to be cryptic, and it worried him. He flipped the phone closed, shoving it into the pocket of his jeans. He then turned down a side street. Satisfied no one was around, he took to the air.

What happened? Why had Claire sounded so empty on the phone? Peter couldn't stop the thoughts from running through his head. He had known Claire since she was fifteen, having saved her life when Sylar tried to kill her. The following three years were spent sending and receiving e-mails until Claire moved to New York to attend NYU.

Peter remained her friend until her second year in college. Then friendship turned to love. He didn't care if he was eleven years than she was. She had faced more than most teenagers had in the short time he'd known her. She was invincible, and she never thought twice about using that ability to help someone else. Claire was one of the bravest people Peter had ever known.

His heart pounding, Peter winged his way to the roof of Claire's apartment building and landed softly. He didn't have to look far to find her. The petite blonde sat cross-legged on the hot rooftop, not caring if it burned her or not. She must have known he would fly to reach her.

"Claire?"

Her blue eyes stared ahead, not really seeing anything. Peter walked around and crouched down in front of her. His brown eyes searched hers for some kind of response. She simply continued to stare ahead, looking past his shoulder.

"Claire?" he asked again.

A small spark of life crept into her eyes. She turned to him. "He's dead," she whispered.

Peter took her hands in his. "Who's dead?"

She blinked, but no tears fell on her cheeks. "My dad."

Peter's breath caught in his throat. Claire's broken voice made perfect sense now. Noah Bennett meant the world to his daughter. He spent her entire life protecting her from the moment she was born.

"Do you know what happened?" Peter asked softly.

Claire's face was impassive. "Mom said she found him in his study. His head was lying on his desk and his eyes were open." She took a deep breath. "He wasn't breathing."

Peter almost asked if it was natural or if someone from his old job at the Company had killed him. He bit back the question, though. That would be for another time. At that moment, his main concern was Claire.

"Do we need to go to California? I can get us there tonight."

Claire didn't respond, only sat there and stared at the skyscrapers dotting the horizon.

His heart broke to see her like this. He wanted to hug her, cry with her, and swear revenge all at the same time. But none of the words would come. Instead, they sat in silence - Peter watching Claire, and Claire staring at the sky.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, Claire began to sob. An entire well of emotion poured out of her. Tear after tear streamed down her cheeks. Her body convulsed with sobs.

Peter wrapped his arms around her. "It's okay."

"Is this what it'll be like?" she asked when her body stopped shaking.

"What what'll be like?"

"Everyone I love dying while I keep living?" Claire pulled back and met his eyes. "Will I eventually lose you like this?"

Peter gently pushed a strand of blonde hair out of her eyes. "I don't know. I don't know the extent of your powers. But I do know you won't lose me anytime soon. You remember how my power works, right?" Claire nodded. "I've been around you a whole lot lately, and I've soaked up a lot of your power. Nothing is going to take me away from you."

Claire leaned into Peter's embrace. "You promise?"

"I promise."

Peter felt Claire sag against him, her crying jag leaving her with no energy. He tightened his arms around her, and followed her gaze to the sky. Together, they watched the sun fall behind the horizon.

He didn't know what the future would bring - not without paint, a canvas, and a brush anyway - but he knew he would be right by Claire's side as long as she needed him.