Title: Laid To Waste
Rating: PG-13
Pairing: Hiro/Claire, Adam/Claire
Prompt: Karma, at heroescontest
Wordcount: 465
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Warnings: Character death
Notes: Sequel to "Voice Like Ruin," won't make any sense unless you read that first
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Teaser: Her finger, bare, shows no mark, no line.

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He comes home one night and the sword is gone from its usual place.

He's too old to use it now but keeps it up on the wall where he can touch it when the world is too quiet, to remind himself of when it meant something, when he could change the world without it changing him.

For a moment, he hesitates.

But he's old and his family is dead and his wife is gone (he wonders if she was ever his to begin if, if she was created for Adam, a perfect woman for a perfect man) and he's been sure this day was coming since somebody slipped into his facility and slipped out again leaving a trail of corpses and an empty cell.

Everything has already been destroyed (laid to waste).

When he turns deeper into the house after that numb realization (decision), Adam stares back at him, eyes steady and smile pleasant, the sword leaning between his legs held balanced by strong fingers. The meaning is clear, that he's just taking the sword back that was always his, that he's just here to watch, he has no reason to be involved.

Of course not.

Adam's already done what he said he would do.

He turns away, finds green eyes staring at him and a small body that's become flawless as the years go by, untouched by the time that Hiro himself can only manipulate but never control.

He knows the pistol is there before he sees it, watches her raise it with a steadiness that's always been there.

(He remembers her complaining about her father making sure she would never hesitate when it mattered.)

"Take it back," she orders, mouth trembling and he swallows, closes his eyes.

Use your power, she doesn't have to say, and go back and fix this.

But when he opens his eyes, he sees her hand, takes the image in and feels the final piece shift away from him.

If he takes his ring off (he tried once but couldn't), there's a line, a mark where gold rested for decades.

Her finger, bare, shows no mark, no line.

She's untouched, hands strong but supple, skin perfect.

"No," he finally tells her flatly and then starts to continue, because I can't, because you're not mine, because I've already tried and nothing can be changed because you are unchanged, because time means nothing to you—

But he doesn't say that, doesn't have the time before her eyes harden in a sickening way and her jaw goes tight and her fingers shift, strong digits applying the lightest pressure in the way her father taught her and that's that.

She takes his ring with her when they leave, gold pressing a mark that won't remain into the skin of her palm.

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9/06/08