Claire sat with her back to the wall. How did she always manage to end up in these situations? Her eyes strayed to where her father leaned against a desk. He had his hands in his pockets talking to the rest of the group; two men and three women, none of which she knew. Her dad had dragged her from their home that morning without a word. Once at their safe location, he had informed her that Nathan was no longer in control of the project and she was, therefore, on the current hunt list. Also, it had become a scientific study instead of just captivity. This meant those caught with powers became lab rats.
Shortly after they had hidden in the abandoned building, they were joined by the other five. Her dad knew them and greeted them all with a handshake and grim smile. Noah then set to planning their way to safety.
"Hello Claire," a woman said and sat beside her. "My name's Capriah. How are you holding up?"
"Not so bad, I guess." Claire shrugged. "Just tired."
"Ah, how true of us all." She was silent for a few minutes. "Would you like to feel happy for a while? Or, secure, perhaps?"
"How's that?" She looked at the woman closely for the first time.
"It's my ability; to substitute emotions. They're not illusions, but they are temporary."
"How long does it last?"
"The longest I've been able to maintain control has been just over three days. But, I have to stay relatively close." She watched Claire another moment. "So…would you like to try it?"
She thought about it briefly and almost consented. She'd love to have a little security, if only for a short while. "Nah, it'd only be worse when it wore off."
"Very well. Let me know if you change your mind." She made her way back to the others and gave Noah a subtle shake of the head.
Claire could've pretended to be surprised that he asked her to do it, but that's all it would have been, pretending. Before long, the group moved away from the planning desk and relaxed across the room.
"We have a plan now. We only have to wait until nightfall to put it into action. Then it should be no problem to-"
"Noah! We've got trouble," one of the men spoke, holding onto his stomach.
"Great," he grumbled. "John you come with me. The rest of you stay here." The man holding himself followed her dad from the room, looking like he was going to get sick.
"What's wrong with him?" she asked no one in particular.
"Think gut instinct," THE other man answered. "The deeper the trouble, the sicker he gets."
"He looked pretty bad."
"Yeah," he said grimly. They waited quietly for their return.
"Damnit!" Noah's voice carried to the room before he was visible. "Capriah," he commanded entering the room. She approached him quickly and they held a whispered conversation. Claire listened intently as Capriah's voice floated occasional words to her.
"Strong…know her…work…last…token…" It wasn't very helpful. Noah pulled something from his jacket pocket and handed it stealthily to Capriah. "Claire!" He had caught her studying them. "Go check on John."
Frowning, she made her way over to the ill man and one of the women. "How is he?"
"Whatever they're planning, I think it might work; he's looking a little better." She stroked the sweaty hair from his forehead.
"What's your ability?"
"Oh, I don't have one. But my husband's not going anywhere without me." She smiled sadly.
"Alright people," Noah raised his voice a little for attention. "We're going to move in twenty minutes. Their full crew's here now. But, we have a distraction planned in fifteen minutes. We give them five to get the call and divide up."
"How do we know they'll leave?" the third woman asked, looking scared.
"They'll take the bait. It's too tempting to pass up," Noah confirmed, not giving details.
"But," Claire began.
"Peter will take care of it, Claire," he interrupted her.
He ignored her outburst. "Fifteen more minutes." He looked from John, lying on the floor to Capriah who looked very focused on the paper she held in her hands. Suddenly, she looked up and handed it back to Noah.
"It's done. And he's close."
"What's done," the second man asked.
"Capriah was obtaining us a weapon." Noah looked at Claire. She thought he almost looked apologetic.
"I just gave him the emotions, Noah. What he chooses to do about them, I have no control over."
"I don't understand." The man watched them, confused.
"I can give you love, but whether you act on it, is up to you, not me."
"Who did you give love to?" Claire asked suspiciously.
"It's best not to say right now, Claire Bear." He looked torn. "We have no idea what he'll do with it, if anything. It's just a hope."
"Dad, what did you do?"
"Claire, I just told you-" Screaming from outside stopped him mid-sentence. "I think it worked," he whispered.
"Should we go check on what's happening?" John asked, now able to sit up.
"No. Best just to stay out of his way."
"Dad?" she whispered. The screaming had stopped. She held her breath afraid of what was going to walk through the door.
"Claire," a familiar voice called as the door opened. Sylar stepped though, searching the room with his intense eyes. When they landed on her, they softened and he strode quickly towards her. She back-pedaled as best she could, but only ran into the wall. His arms encircled her and she found her face pressed to his warm chest. She started to fight to get free of his caging arms before she realized he wasn't pinning her, he was hugging her. "I was worried about you. You should be more careful who you associate with. They've really been after Noah the past week," he whispered into her hair. "You've been upgraded to their priority list now." He stroked her hair. She was still squirming, trying to get out of his tight hold; it was too intimate to be pressed against him so firmly.
Suddenly, he gripped her upper arms and held her in front of him. "Are you alright?"
She shot a look at her father for help, but he was in discussion with John, who was now walking around. Why wasn't he concerned about Sylar's sudden appearance and bizarre non-homicidal behavior?
"Does it bother you for him to see us like this?" His voice had picked up and edge, while his eyes studied Noah coldly.
"I want to know why it's not bothering-" Her eyes widened and slid to Capriah, who was watching them from the corner of her eye. "You," she accused. She tried to stalk towards the woman, but Sylar's arm swept around her waist, holding her in place. "Undo it," she demanded.
Capriah was suddenly pinned against the wall, several feet off the floor, eyes wide and terrified. "Noah," she choked out.
"What'd she do?" Sylar asked from behind her. One arm still holding her to him, the other hand trained on the frightened woman against the wall.
"What? No, Sylar let her down." Claire grabbed the wrist by her head, preparing to fight. To her surprise, he lowered her to the ground. "Dad, you have to stop this; it's not right."
"It's our only chance, Claire," Noah barked. "Peter will be starting the distraction any second. We have to be ready."
"But it's wrong!"
"Claire," Noah began, but stopped when she moved. She spun in Sylar's arms and stared up into his eyes.
"Sylar, they're using you-"
"Claire! That's enough," Noah warned. His worried eyes watching the killer's reaction.
"They are!" she yelled. "They're-"
"Claire, it doesn't matter," Sylar said softly. He raised his head to see the others watching. He pulled her to the furthest corner of the room and turned his back on them. She could feel everyone's attention follow them across the room and focus on his back.
"They're manipulating you."
"It doesn't matter. I'm not doing anything for them." He cupped her cheek gently. "I'm here to get you out. If that happens to be their plan too? At least we'll have their cooperation."
"No. That's not what I meant." She pushed his hand off her face and tried not to feel guilty for the hurt that flashed across his. "This isn't real. What you're feeling for me, it's not real."
"What are you talking about? Of course it's real. I love you, Claire." He touched her cheek with just his fingertips. "Don't you love me?"
She hated the pain and confusion in his normally cold eyes. "No." Grunts came from behind him. He closed his eyes and turned his face away from her. "I'm sorry but I don't love you. And you don't really love me either." She watched his brow furrow and his hands clench.
"We don't have time for this. We have to go. Now," Noah commanded.
"I'm sorry, Sylar. But you'll be glad as soon as she let's you go." It was hard to tell in the poor lighting but she thought she saw a tear streak down his face. "Sylar?" She didn't like feeling sympathy for her former attacker. But she'd never seen him so…human before.
"How could I ever expect you to love me? I know I'm a monster."
"No, Sylar, I-"
"I'm still getting you out safely." His voice broke as he said it.
"Sylar, I…" she trailed off as she watched him raise a large hand and roughly swipe away the tear track. She'd never noticed quite how handsome he was before. The way his heavy brows loomed over his beautiful glistening eyes. How expressive he could be and that it was only for her. "I love you."
"You," his eyebrows lowered, "you do? Then why would you say-"
"I know. I was only scared. I've never felt this way before." She stroked his scratchy cheek. "I'm so sorry I hurt you." His lips descended suddenly on hers. She sighed into his kiss and wrapped her arms around his neck.
"No time!" Noah's voice cut through her bliss. He grabbed her arm and started to pull.
"Noah, I'll take care of Claire. You worry about the rest." She watched her dad wrestle with the decision.
"Just go, Dad. He'll protect me." She didn't have even one doubt, as his hand wrapped around hers.
"Let's go," Noah called, and followed behind the lovers. "Don't let it fade, Capriah. Or we're all dead."
Claire wondered what he was talking about. She trailed behind Sylar until they reached the large door that led outside. John was feeling queasy again, but he was still mobile.
"Stay behind me," Sylar said, releasing her hand. "And watch out for my head."
"Same here," she whispered.
"I will." Her stomach started to knot.
A/N: So, what do you think? It's my first Heroes fic. Be kind, rewind. No, wait that's wrong. Be kind, review. Yeah, that's better.