Title: "Regret"
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 1,241
Characters: Peter/Claire (canon), Peter POV
Summary: They save the world while keeping their own souls white as snow. A rambling, introspective future fic from Peter's POV. Written for pairechallenge's One Shot Challenge #5: Unhappy endings.
Spoilers: Everything to end of Volume 3.
Disclaimer: Nothing is mine, just borrowing. All NBC's and Tim Kring's. Please don't sue!
Author's Notes: Aha! I'm back on the Paire horse. So to speak. It's a bit wishy washy but it's good practice, so I'm posting it.

"Regret"
By
Viv

If their lives could be contained in a single book, it should have been filled with unhappy endings. Reams and pages full of sorrow and death and destruction, but it isn't and if Peter has anything to do about it, never will be.

It's funny in a way, how much destiny and fate and everything in between have conspired against happiness for his family. His childhood had been far from idyllic and yet, looking back, he's comfortable with describing it precisely that way. Yes, he'd craved for his father's attention and approval, had been desperate to emulate and even surpass his older brother's achievements, had striven for his mother's exclusive love and affection. But for all that, they had been happy.

And then his power had manifested and everything had gone to hell.

Now his father's dead, as cold and hard as he'd been in life. Peter thought he'd been the only one to visit his father's grave but once in the aftermath of a stormy night he'd caught a familiar scent, too faint to have registered at first but it's cloying richness told of its wearer; recalled a dim memory from his childhood that he's savoured with time.

That scent is dead now along with his mother, gone and buried but she'd lived a happy life in spite of everything. There were sorrows galore and lord knows Peter knows that; he'd been her confidante in her dying days and it's really true that you should be careful what you wish for. Because he'd always wanted to be his mother's favourite, her figurative golden boy with the darkened eyes and intense love and his wish is granted when she's at death's door. That smile she'd given him at that apex of life and death; that strange, fleeing, secretive smile that had seemed so alien on her calculating features, had made him happiest of all although to this day he can't describe why.

Nathan had come that night, the first time in a long time they had stood in the same room, let alone talked, like brothers. He's made his peace with Nathan and no, he didn't even have to shoot him twice in the chest or violate the space time continuum to resolve it. They never regained the old comraderie but Peter's more philosophical in his later age and can see how all things must die to grow and change. And that's what the Petrelli boys did; they adapted and changed and grew all the closer because of it.

He's not afraid to dwell on their memories now, bodies as ashes in the dust. Gone and buried but he thanks God every day for the tiny miracle that remains behind.

Her golden hair, as brilliant and light as the day he'd met her that shimmers under the sun. Tanned skin and a glow that could rival any fresh faced beauty and yeah, he's gotten so used to thinking about her this way it doesn't spend spasms of guilt through his body to know he thinks about his niece this way.

But he does and can't deny it, it's their reality, their world; and even if their world's shredded to pieces at the moment they both hold onto hope that one day it'll be pieced together again.

It's Christmas and they're hiding as usual, but it's always comfortable and never dull when he's with her. Their abilities and age have made them prized game in the post-apocalyptic world of his brother's making, but Peter doesn't blame Nathan one bit. Understands at least the motivation behind Nathan's actions if not the actions themselves. Ruining thousands of lives for the greater good had been Linderman's, his father's dreams, but it wasn't until the very last that he had been able to accept it'd been Nathan's dream too for all his good intentions.

They're gone; all gone now and he should be sad for the things left undone but Peter doesn't regret. Can't, because he stands by his actions even if they've cost him almost everything he loves. It's the mother of all ironies that the most sensitive, indecisive member of the Petrelli family has grown to become the most single minded, most decisive of them all.

They've dedicated the better part of a century to fighting the good fight, to saving the world but that hasn't been the biggest battle they've had to face. It hasn't been fighting the monsters and demons that masquerade as human beings that populate the world but rather fighting against their baser natures, not giving in to that temptation and desire that would mar their humanity for all time.

And so they save the world while keeping their own souls white as snow. He fancies he gets the strength entirely from Claire; her company keeps him sane while her presence fuels his constant desire to change the world for the better.

It's in their blood, she'd said to him once as they lay under the stars on a temperate, fall night. It's in our blood to save the world.

That allusion to their kinship had been the last time either of them had mentioned it. He doesn't delve too deeply on the whys and wherefores, knows instinctively it's a territory they can't ever explore in depth and so leaves well enough alone.

"Regrets?" That familiar twinkle in her starry blue eyes recalls him to her.

He shakes his head. No regrets. They've lived their lives in full and then some and if there are some things that can never be, well, he doesn't – can't – regret it.

They sit at the small table; squat rather, abandoned tatami mats the own relief against cold concrete. But there's turkey (cold, and stolen from a convenience store three blocks down), roast potatoes (swiped from a restaurant because Claire loves potatoes whatever the meal), vegetables to round out the five food groups, candles and cheap wine and even clean water. It's not a feast by any standard of the imagination but it's their's and he decides he likes it.

It's how their story ends every year, on December 25th. Wherever they are, no matter how dire the circumstances, they sit together and eat. They're nomads now, content to belong together but to nowhere. But every year on Christmas Day, they sit and talk, or not. Stare maybe and become lost in thought like he is now, only to be recalled to the present by the other when needed.

If the present isn't bright and sparkling, it's at least warm and gentle and oddly secure.

She lifts her glass filled with cheap wine, burnished and dull but it doesn't dim the wonder of the moment even if they're sharing it in someone's basement, the only safehouse for their kind in this part of New York. He clinks his glass against hers and no, he doesn't regret anything in his life at all.

After dinner they lie under the covers and stare at the scratched underside of the magnificent hardwood floors above. It's too cold to stir or move and there's unfortunately no heating but hey, at least they have each other.

She curls into him, presses herself against his chest like she always does on nights like these, too significant and cold to talk and joke about insignificant things. They've said all they've had to say long ago on the strange, odd connection they share; strange because of its longevity, odd because of their blood relationship that can never be shed nor diluted.

Her proximity does things to him but she's well used to it by now and usually she ignores it, but sometimes, she doesn't.

Tonight she doesn't, and they give in to the whirlwind always riding shotgun inside them. It's wordless and silent, done in almost total darkness when the candles whittle away to nothingness. But he feels her soft skin, heated breath trail over his body like an elixir and knows to savour it because this is what true magic is, life, the universe, everything.

He only stops when she gives a strangled cry, the only betrayal of pleasure he ever hears from her. Wonders faintly whether she's always been this controlled, so disciplined but remembers the vivacious cheerleader she'd been and decides no, she probably wasn't like this before.

Her voice is faint, dreamy; so soft he almost misses it.

"I'm so glad you're here, Peter. I wouldn't have been able to do any of it without you."

"Me neither." He whispers, kisses her hair threaded through his fingers. Rocks her to sleep because despite everything they've been through, who they've become, she has her share of nightmares and if he has the power to chase those away for then yeah, he's going to do it.

It's not an ideal life for either of them, but they're not unhappy. They've gone through their share of sorrows and pain and lost too many people. But they're alive and they live; fight, survive and yeah, love, in all its shapes and forms.

So no, Peter doesn't regret any of it.

Finis