Characters: Claire, little Noah; Sylar/Claire, hints of Knox/Claire
Disclaimer: Not mine, just playing with them
Spoilers: Not sure, but you should know 3x04 and the basic idea of Fugitives
Notes: I wrote the first bits of this way back after 3x04 but the entire Sylar arc in V3 just pissed me off so much I threw it into a folder and forgot about it until I remembered it last night and got all giddy and just finished it. So while this was inspired by 3x04, I think this is totally a V4 sort of story.
Teaser: The man in a medical coma at the other end of the hall is a stranger.
She misses Knox.
Hard Knox with his predator eyes who never treated her like glass.
Gone, like everyone one else who has seen under her skin and never flinched.
Claire folds up the grief and slides it into a back corner of her mind, covers it over with the knowledge that she would have lost him anyway and that way would have been harder. Watching Knox fall apart from age would have been brutal, and what's left of him is Knox in his prime and that's all hers.
She can admit that the only child who never learned to share even after Lyle entered her world is satisfied.
At the end of the day, newly irritated over losing the idiot from the past, she's done grieving.
Mourning period complete, Claire showers again even though she doesn't have to, towels dry and dresses from the back corner of her closet— chooses the softest top she can find, white cloth that covers her arms and dips around her neck, a nice innocent lack of color. But it makes her feel like a corpse and she gives into the black pants despite her earlier promise to add some color, instead hooks emeralds drops (a gift from the First Daddy pressed into her palm) through her lobes and digs out the little bag of make-up accumulating dust on a shelf.
She works the hardest on her hair, brushes it until it shines and then combs her fingers through it until the woman staring at her from the mirror isn't her, isn't a woman who has followed in her grandmother's footsteps.
Her room is empty, will be until she can find another one like Knox, but she can feel the wolf smile at her back.
Checking herself repeatedly in the mirror, she finally grimaces and forces herself to leave her private room, heels clacking fast against the tile as she falls into her usual march. Rehearsing her words, she strides through a labyrinth of halls and down deeper still, stopping seven times to slide her key card to get access.
She's never been as good at playing roles as he always was.
Once she sheds a layer of skin, it's gone, replaced.
(Usually— and she doesn't let herself think about those, the rare things that remain.)
No, Sylar's the one who memorizes every moment, takes them apart and studies what he can find in each.
Claire has to work to put together the girl from Texas with the blonde curls, fits what she can remember together as she slows her pace when she reaches the last level, eyes drifting to the heavy door to one side. Then she discards the thought and starts walking again until she reaches her destination, peering through the small rectangle of reinforced glass.
The thrill of emotion at the sight of him, as intense as it feels, is still vague, muted— there were no long periods of breast-feeding, no laughter during bath time. But she does remember movement under her skin between one loss and another, sleeping with her father's pistol under her bed as a little body kicked her insides for attention.
A voice in her head murmurs instruction (he always would in the months before The End, telling her how to herd the sheep) and so she doesn't push it down, embraces the emotion and lets herself into the room, letting it fill her face as she finds eyes staring up at her, small fingers pausing in their fiddling. "Hi."
"Hi," she replies with a little sigh, eyes rising to meet the dark ones of the man keeping the boy company.
The Haitian stands up, the lines of his body rigid with disapproval but, as always now, he looks away first.
Stepping past the toys that the boy has taken apart in the long hours of boredom, Claire finds herself easing onto the cot, smoothing palms down her thighs as sharp eyes follow her curiously. His fingers are moving again, absently fiddling as he watches her, takes her in from hair to heels. "You're Claire."
"I'm Claire," she assures, because it's the truth.
Glancing over the boy's head, she finds the Haitian at the door, disapproval still shining in his eyes.
She remembers the terror of a palm against her mouth years before and can't fight the amusement, knowing better than he ever could what this particular power of her son's means, knowing how the regeneration works— every cell comes back, and while Claire may lose everything, she's forgotten nothing. There'll need to be a trigger but it will come back, his death.
(His third, if she remembers correctly.)
Again, Claire simply stares back and he turns away, knowing when to choose his battles.
The door clicks shut and she's being stared at, her son too fascinated to be terrified.
"Do you like your toys?" she asks, reaching out to touch the carefully sorted pieces beside him, seeing a spark of frustration in his eyes when two little piles collapse together. "Sorry."
"I didn't break them," he's saying, sorting them back apart, for the first time unsure. "I can put them back together."
"I know." Her fingers touch his hair, remembering how dark it was when he was born— it's gotten lighter with age but it's just as soft, she thinks, and there's the spike of feeling again, so sudden it makes her breath catch. "It's fine. As long as you're having fun, that's all that matters—"
"When can I see daddy?" and he's staring at her hard now, really studying her.
A snort bursts out of her and she slaps her hands against her thighs like the girl she used to be, tossing hair back from her face as she sorts through her options— it's only Sylar she can understand under her skin and deep in her gut, it's only Sylar who's never once flinched when she's done what she has to do.
The man in a medical coma at the other end of the hall is a stranger.
And strangers are dangerous, she's learned in the years since the wolf first found her.
"You can't see daddy yet," she finally tells him, knowing he can see the truth on her face, hear it in her voice. "He's hurt right now but I'm trying to fix him." She picks up a piece of plastic from his lap, allows it to sit in her palm as she uses it as an example. "It's just like you do with your toys."
"Can't I just see him?"
The lost quality of his tone causes a pang, and she can feel fingers at the back of her neck, hear his voice instructing.
"As soon as I can, I'll take you to him."
She inhales, exhales (slips deeper into old skin). "I promise."
He sighs and goes back to his bored fiddling, knowing she's telling the truth but not happy about it.
Grandmother's dead, has left only promises and fractured dreams that Claire survives on, and Little Noah is alone in a way she remembers— and she knows what to do, how to use the pull she can feel in her gut.
"You can stay with me," she chirps as she stands and takes his hand, grinning back when he hops down and bounces on his heels, head tilted back to study her. Toys forgotten, they head for the door, a small hand swinging hers between them as she steps out and he trails after. "Until your daddy comes home."