Title: Do I Have To Fall Asleep With Roses in My Hand
Characters/Pairings: Peter/Claire, Peter/Elle
Word Count: 2,511 words
Summary: This is his life, he tells himself every morning when he looks in the mirror. Not that he remembers any of it.
Author's Notes: Set in a season 2 AU where Peter did loose his memory, but did not end up in Ireland. Thanks to cheap_valentine for the beta. Written for the heroes_exchange
Back when he couldn't remember her anything, he'd dream about short red skirts and white sneakers. Haunting dreams where he'd be clutching the hand of a faceless girl and running from yet another faceless stranger. Then he felt like he was falling, which was crazy, because her hand in his gave him the feeling that he just might be able to fly. And, when he woke up, he swore he could still feel her steady grip and hear the word 'hero' echoing in his head.
Back then, the most important person in his life was still just a vision in a dream. And if he's honest with himself, he lived for those dreams. Because he was pretty sure his other life, his real life, had nothing to do with a watch shop and an electric blonde.
This is his life, he tells himself every morning when he looks in the mirror. Not that he remembers any of it. The face starting back at him is just now starting to be familiar.
He's Peter Grey, watchmaker and part-time … well he's not exactly sure if there really is a title for what Bob is having him do. He lives in Queens with his long time girlfriend Elle Bishop and he loves her more than anything. His parents are both dead – his father had a heart attack years ago and his mother died in the same accident his lost his memory in.
There is something missing though, something she is not telling him. His life seems three sizes too small. He just knows it.
Sometimes it feels like he was meant for so much more or like he should be doing something other than shuffling around paperwork and fixing watches. Sometimes he thinks he's supposed to be saving the world (but he can never quite figure out how or from what, for that matter). He clenches his fist every time Elle catches that wistful look on his face and tells him to stop it. "You were never a dreamer, Peter. Why are you starting now?"
But when she kisses his cheek, bakes him pie, and calls him 'her angel', he can't make himself burst the bubble they've created. Why would she be lying to him, after all?
Maybe this was all he was.
Sometimes, when he forgets and has more than three glasses of scotch, he dreams of her dancing. It's one of those bouncy, hips-grinding kind of dance. Herhead is thrown back, her eyes half closed, and her arms are sort of falling above her head. Shecalls out for him to join her. Then she says something about it not mattering any more, but the music is loud, pulsing, and he can't hear her over it.
Still she dances, moving in time with the primal beat, hands beckoning out to him. He can't move. He's stuck there just watching her.
When he wakes up, he's hard and feeling guilty. Something about seeing her like that makes him feel older than his years.
He comes into work one morning and a picture of the dream girl is pinned to Bob's Enemies Board. She's smiling brightly up at an older man - her father probably – and she glowed in the sunshine, just like in his dreams. He stood there frozen and staring at the picture for who knows how long.
"Do you know her, or something?" Elle asked from behind him suddenly. The hard edge to her voice was telling.
He did know her.
"Stay away from that," she said, ripping the picture away from his view. "She's dangerous. Much more dangerous than she looks." She wrapped her arms around him from behind, but he can't make himself fall into her embrace like he has before. "Promise me, Peter, promise me you'll stay away from her."
He has to push away that dark feeling tumbling in the pit of his stomach at her words. Stay away from her – all he wanted to do was get closer. But this was his girlfriend, and she was looking out for him and his best interests. She loved; why would she lie?
He turns around to face her and nods because his throat was too tight to speak. Then, she's all smiles. She laughs and kisses his check. As she flounced away, he can't shake the feeling that she was hiding something.
He tells Elle that he has to head back to the shop for something, but ends up at a bar on the lower east side of Manhattan. The bartender seems to know him (or at least what he drinks, as he placed a scotch down in front of Peter without being told). The man asks if everything was ok, and inquired about his whereabouts of the past few months. The forlorn look on Peter's face must have told the man something.
"Your girl's in trouble again, huh? For such a sweet little thing she sure does get into her fair share of danger." The man sighs and then moves down the counter to take another order, leaving a flustered Peter behind.
He can't help but wonder. The man was talking about Elle, right? Although, he'd never use the word 'sweet' to describe his girlfriend.
As he works on his second scotch, he tries to put together all the things he knows about her. Something about sunshine, and something else about apricots, and maybe something about brownies… or cupcakes. Definitely baked goods of some kind. Most of all, he knows in his heart of hearts, that she's not dangerous. Especially not the kind of dangerous that would end one up on the Enemies Board.
So why was she there?
Did she miss him? Was she looking for him? Was she in trouble, like the bartender suggested?
More than ever, he knew he needed to find her.
That night he dreams of her again. Of her shiny blond hair falling over his shoulders and tickling his chest. She has laughing green eyes that shine bright with an emotion his is afraid to name. She smells like apricots and tastes like berries. And still there is an empty hole where her name should have been.
He bets she'd have a pretty name, one that would string together with his in one breath. Like they were a pair, forever joined, like soul mates.
Deep in his dreams, where the two of them spend their time staring up at the stars and making up names for the constellations, he's sure that's what she is, his other half.
He wonders what his life was like back when his every breath didn't begin and end with his dream girl. Was it even worth knowing about?
Early the next morning, he wakes up with his face buried in blond hair that would never be dark enough. Yet he holds her tighter and tries to pretend she wasn't someone else. The early morning light brings the world crashing down around him. This was his girlfriend – not the girl in his dreams – this was the reality.
Elle wakes up with his mouth around one of her nipples and for a minute she was pretending too. But Peter is quick to ruin the illusion. His fingers trace the black lace of her panties with an air that…someone else wouldn't have had. He tears her panties off moments later.
"Wear cotton next time," he breathes against her skin of her lower stomach. She cries out at the feeling not entirely in pleasure.
Still shecalls to him - "find me".
His dreams of her become even more haunting. She's either getting shot or stabbed or run over by a train. But whatever horrible end she comes to, all the dreams share a common thread: he can never get to her in time.
He starts searching the office for another trace of her practically ever time Elle's back is turned. He doesn't feel guilty about lying to Elle, especially now that he's so sure she's lying to him too.
It's two weeks since he started the search and he manages to stumble across all the answers he's been looking for when he accidentally knocks over a wooden box stashed all the way in the back of Bob's desk. The contents inside all belong to him...Peter Petrelli, not Peter Grey.
A license, a passport, a wallet.
There's a picture of him and what looks to be his brother all dressed up in one of the first picture flaps. He digs threw it even more finding a couple more pictures of various friends and family members, before digging a folded picture of him and the dream girl, bloody and tightly hugging each other, from one of the wallet's hard-to-get-to folds.
He stares at the picture, tracing the fine features of her face with a fingertip. She looked just like she did in his dreams, sad little smile and all. Suddenly, he just knows.
"Claire." It's half a whisper and half a plea. And then…"Fuck."
He remembers everything.
"How could you not tell me?" Peter yells, holding up the box filled with all of his personal effects. This whole time his life was in this box and he never knew. She said she loved him and she couldn't really tell him.
"It was for your own good." She yells back. "You were better without all that messy stuff in your past. I was making you better." He has no idea why she is so angry; he's the one that's been lied to.
"No, you were making me someone else entirely. " Her spine stiffens at his comment and she's never looked so much like his mother before. They both wanted to control him.
"I had my orders. I did what I was told and kept you from hurting anyone else."
"So what. You thought you could just lie to me, that I would just get used to it, and then start to like it?" He sneers the words that feel like a fuzzy memory. He can't do this with her.
"You love me, I know you do." If she was hurt at all by his words, the anger covered it up nicely. Honestly, he couldn't care less about her feelings at this point (and now he can be sure that it was a first for him).
"Elle," he draws out a sigh. He doesn't want to hide from it anymore. "I don't…Claire."
"Claire? Claire Bennet?" She rips the box out of his hands and the picture of him and Claire falls to the floor. He'll always look back at this moment and wonder if he really was imagining the spark of electricity hissing angrily beneath her skin. "What does the cheerleader have to do with this?"
"What, do you love her then?" He's infinitely glad there is nothing around for her to throw at him. He's feeling so guilty he might let her hit him.
"Yes," he manages to mutter out. Saying it out loud is only another reminder that he shouldn't, can't, love her. Not like he wants to.
There's a stunned silence. He can tell that even though she asked the question, she never expected, wasn't prepared, this answer. Hell, he wasn't either.
"Do you love her more than me?" It's a timid question and he almost doesn't hear it. The way he can't look her in the eyes gives her all the answers she needs.
He calls Nathan later from the terminal at JFK. He owes his brother that much.
"I didn't die, I just lost my memory…No, I remember everything now."
His brother goes from elated to thinking about throwing things moments later, when he refuses to come home. As much as Peter loves his family, he needs to see her more.
"I need…" No, that wasn't it. He couldn't use those words when talking to Nathan about his daughter. "Someone needs to watch over Claire."
"Bring her back here," Nathan orders. "We can watch over her at home."
"Claire needs her family." The quick response just slips out, but it couldn't have been closer to the truth.
"We are her family." Even over the crackling phone line, he can tell Nathan is on his last reserves of patience.
Peter hangs up the phone in the middle of one of Nathan's protests and boards the plane. He would never understand anyways.
The orange post-it note with Claire's address is crinkled in his hand, worn around the edges from being pulled out of his pocket again and again. The ink is faded from running his fingers over it so many times. But that's ok. He's memorized the address long before now.
Her new house is smaller than he imagined (or maybe everything was just bigger in Texas). He stands on the edge of her driveway where the taxi had dropped him off for far longer than he would have liked. After all he's been though, one would think the last thing he wanted to do was waste any more time.
For some reason, he can't make himself take that last step and ring her doorbell. What if she didn't want to see him? It was safer to stay, pretend.
"Peter?" her voice breaks him out of whatever funk he's in. He looks up just in time to catch her as she throws herself into his arms, her laughter dances around him like music the whole time. "It really is you. It really is."
He wants to echo her sentiment, but instead hugs her even tighter to him. He's never letting go again; his every touch promises that.
They stay wrapped around each other in the middle of her driveway for all the world to see until Claire's mother calls them in for dinner.
She has fallen asleep against his shoulder, clutching his hand as if letting go would mean he would disappear again. All he can do is watch. For once, he doesn't want to go to sleep.
Her mother come into the living room later to gather them for bed. She stares at him hard with knowing eyes before extending the invitation. For everything she doesn't know about her daughter, this one was easy. There was no judgment in Sandra's eyes when she offers him the guest room and asks if he was going to stay.
He looks down at Claire once more and visions of the future flashes through his mind. He could stay and protect what was left of the Bennets. He would get a nursing job there in Costa Verde. Claire would finish high school and start looking into colleges. The two of them could spend their free time watching bad horror films, making cupcakes, and pretending the outside world didn't exist. He could have a life here. A real life that he could decide the terms of.
Looking down at Claire, Peter speaks his answer to the only one who really mattered. "I'm not going anywhere."