Prologue: Changes

Author's Note: So, this is my first venture into the realm of Heroes fanfiction, hopefully I'll do it right. As always, please read and review. I'd really like feedback on this, especially about characters. As I've never written with these characters before, I'd like to know if they don't sound like themselves.

Disclaimer: Heroes and all of its associated content are property of Tim Kring. I am making no profit from this whatsoever.

Sylar and Elle lay on the darkened beach as Sylar found the right words to say. "That was temporary, and then I got my powers back. And I understand now, that I'm never going to change. Neither are you, because we're both just damaged goods."

Elle looked at him with fear and a sudden understanding in her eyes. He pressed his weight against her and kissed her softly, just once. "You're hurting me," she whispered.

"I know," Sylar replied, almost remorsefully. Lifting a nearby rock, he slammed it against the side of her head. The world around her went black and Sylar's face slid out of view.

Sylar stood slowly, looking down at Elle's motionless body. He doubted anyone would find her here on this godforsaken beach. There was no one around now, and it didn't appear that there were any roads leading to the beach. Dropping the rock next to her body, he turned to leave. "Goodbye, Elle. It was fun."

Six hours later, Elle awakened to a creamy white hospital room. It was dark outside, early morning. Her head ached more than anything she had ever felt. The rest of her body was fine. She lay on top of the blankets on the small hospital bed. Her wounded leg had been taken care of, and was tightly bandaged. She pressed down on the call button attached to her left pointer finger.

A young nurse entered the room a few minutes later. She smiled cordially at Elle. "Hello, Ms. Bishop. Glad to see you're awake."

"Yeah, me too. How did I get here? I was on a beach," Elle said as she struggled to sit up straight.

The nurse came to her bedside and adjusted the bed so that Elle could sit up at the waist. "You were. A group of teenagers went there to hang out and found you. Called the police and EMTs. You're lucky. Without medical attention, you probably would've died."

Elle smiled and nodded slowly. "Very lucky, it sounds like. How soon can I leave?"

"Oh no, you've only been here a few hours, Ms. Bishop," the nurse began. "The doctors will probably want to observe you for a few more days. And then there's the police. They'll want to talk to you soon as well. Come to think of it, I think they're actually waiting for you to wake up. I'll just run and get the detective."

The nurse patted her arm before turning and leaving the room. Elle removed the call button from her finger, and pulled the sensors off of her arms. She yanked the IV needle out of her right arm and stood shakily. She couldn't speak to the police. She needed to go. The window wasn't an option, from the view outside she was clearly on the third floor and a fall wouldn't help her healing leg.

Walking to the adjoined bathroom, Elle found a spare pair of what appeared to be nurse's scrubs. She pulled them on and pulled her hair back in the mirror. The right side of her face was bruised and stung when her fingertips grazed it. She quickly tousled her hair and moved it so that it covered this side of her face, and the bruising.

Moving out of the room, Elle wandered down the hall quickly. Her attempt to look like a nurse worked wonderfully and she soon found herself in an elevator heading to the ground floor. She put a smile on her face and walked to the information desk she came to as she exited the elevator. "Hi, excuse me. It's my first day, and I can't remember which way it is to the parking garage?"

The older man at the desk nodded sympathetically. "You're not the first today. We're hiring so many new people these days. If you head out the double doors over there and keep going left, you should see it at the end of the sidewalk. There are attendants in the deck that can help you find your car if you don't remember what section you parked in."

"Thanks so much!" Elle said as she turned and walked quickly in the direction the man had indicated. She found the parking deck with no problem and sought out the section labeled for extended stay guests. She chose a neutral colored minivan and wasted no time in hotwiring it. Elle sat in the minivan looking at her reflection in the rearview for a minute as she considered her options.

Pinehearst would kill her if she returned without Sylar. The Company wouldn't take her back at this point, after all the destruction she had caused for them. She breathed a heavy sigh as she put the van in reverse and backed out of the parking space. She was headed for Costa Verde.

A knock on the door awoke Claire, who lay resting on the couch in the Bennet's family room. It was late. The clock on the DVD player read 11:52, and she doubted her father was expecting any company. She rose cautiously and walked to the door. She didn't need to let any more trouble into the house, not after what had happened last night. Confusion crossed her delicate features as she saw who stood on the other side of the door.

Quickly opening it, she stepped out onto the front porch. "Elle?"

"Hey, cheerleader," Elle said softly. She wore medium blue nurses clothing, and her hair was combed differently. "Is Noah home?"

Claire sat at the top of the stairs while her father talked with Elle in the kitchen. Elle told quite the sob story. She told Noah everything that had occurred between her and Sylar at Pinehearst, and everything that happened after Hiro had intervened and teleported them away from the Bennet house.

Noah paced the kitchen, rubbing his temples fervently. "This is difficult, Elle. Less than a day ago, you break into my house and try to kill me and take my daughter, and now you're back saying you need my help? Give me one good reason why I should let you stay here."

Elle was perched at a stool by the kitchen counter. Her eyes didn't attempt to meet Noah's at all. She hated this feeling of helplessness. "He's still out there, Noah. And you know he'll keep coming back whenever the answers point in your direction. You want to keep the cheerleader safe, I need a place to stay. This could work for both of us."

"Are you saying that if Sylar comes back, you'll fight him?" Noah asked, mildly interested at this point. Elle was a more than capable security guard, especially when her feelings pushed her to rage against specific people. This could work out.

"After what he did, I'll kill him. You want to keep your family safe, but you can't always be around to do it. Let me stay here, and you won't have to worry. You know what I'm capable of," Elle replied coolly, finally meeting Noah's gaze.

Noah let out a deep sigh before nodding. "Okay. We'll give it a shot. But you mess up at all – and I mean anything – and you're out. There's a guest bedroom upstairs, second door on the left. I'll expect you up at eight to talk about this arrangement some more."

Elle stood up and moved towards the stairs. "You won't regret this."

Two Months Later

Elle puts the car in park as Lyle opens the passenger door. Grabbing his backpack, he steps out of the car before saying goodbye. Elle lets the car idle for a minute as she watches Lyle walk up the steps into school. She wondered what it was like on the inside.

Dismissing her thoughts as useless, she put the car back in drive and navigated the streets of Costa Verde. It was a beautiful day out. The sun was just barely over the trees, and people were out and about. Elle lost track of the number of joggers she drove past as she returned to the Bennet house.

As she pulled into the driveway, she saw the garage door open, with Sandra walking out. She had a large, rolling suitcase of luggage in one hand, and Mr. Muggles' pet carrier in the other. Elle exited the car and went to help.

"Oh, thank you, Elle. We're headed off for another show. We shouldn't be gone more than two days. Noah's off on a work trip, so that leaves you in charge. You won't have to worry about much, I asked Lyle's friend Sam's mother if he could stay over there for the next few nights. It'll just be you and Claire, maybe you can have a girl's night out," she mused. She strapped Mr. Muggles' pet carrier into the front passenger seat and made sure the doors were locked before addressing Elle again. "Now, if Claire gives you any trouble, it's probably best if you don't fight too much. Just wait until Noah and I are home, and we'll take care of it. Have a good time!"

Elle stood in the driveway as Sandra pulled off, wondering exactly what a girl's night out entailed. While she and Claire had been behaving amiably towards one another, she doubted they'd spend much time together over the next few days. Claire was an adult, and as far as Elle was concerned, not to be bossed around.

She walked into the house through the garage, making sure to shut the door behind her. The sound of the television could be heard throughout the house. As Elle shut the door leading to the garage, she heard the television go silent. "Mom?" Claire called.

"Just me, cheerleader," Elle replied. She removed her suit jacket and placed it on the back of a dining room chair before joining the other girl in the living room. "What are you up to? It's really nice outside."

"Mom and I went out and rented movies last night so that I wouldn't have to bug you for anything while she was away," Claire explained as she took the television off mute. "Want to watch it with me?"

Elle walked around the couch and sat down opposite Claire. "What's it about?"

"It's a romance. Every girl our age has seen it, cried over it, and loved it. Come on. Just think of it as an observation mission, about normal human behavior," Claire offered. She passed Elle her bowl of popcorn.

"Okay, I'll give it a shot."

Claire found it difficult to concentrate on the movie with Elle's almost constant stream of questions. When she wasn't asking questions, the older girl's brow was furrowed in confusion. Maybe this movie wasn't the best one to start her out with, but Claire had wanted to spend time with the older girl. Things had felt different to Claire since their plane ride, and she wanted to get to the bottom of it. When Elle had moved in, Claire had considered every interaction the two had had. Knowing that Elle was only staying with her family to keep her safe, Claire had decided that it was time to let go of the past grudges she held. She had forgiven Elle for shooting her, forgave her for leaving her at the doors of Pinehearst.

But even though she was trying her hardest, it was hard to interact with the older blonde the same way that she interacted with other people their age. Elle had no concept of normal social interactions, and was consistently hard for Claire to read.

"I don't get it. Why would you lay in the middle of a road at night? It's not safe!" Elle exclaimed. This movie didn't make any sense to her whatsoever. These people weren't making good decisions. She certainly wouldn't have associated with either of them.

Claire shook her head before taking back her bowl of popcorn. "Because they're in love. He's showing off to make her pay attention to him. He wants her to feel special when she's with him."

"He wants her to feel special, so he makes her lay with him in the middle of a dark, dirty road at night?" Elle put her hands up in exasperation. "Whatever you say, cheerleader. I'd never ask a girl to lay in the middle of a road with me in the dark."

"Well then I guess you'll never get a girlfriend!" Claire exclaimed. She had had enough. "Because every girl in the world has seen this movie and this is the standard that's been set."

Elle looked at her, utterly dumbfounded. "Who said I wanted a girlfriend?"

Claire stopped for a second. She might've taken it a little too far. "I mean, you said you wouldn't treat a girl that way, I just assumed that you dated women."

"I've never dated," Elle said plainly. "Is that allowed? Not dating, I know that's okay. But women dating women. Or men dating men too, I guess."

Claire nodded. "Yeah, it's allowed. Some people think it's weird, but it doesn't really matter. As long as it makes them happy, it should be okay, right? I mean, love is love, you know?"

"Have you ever loved a woman?" Elle asked as she hit play on the remote once again. When Claire didn't answer right away, Elle looked over at her. "Claire?"

"I'm not sure yet."

Elle had gotten better about keeping her questions to herself as the movie progressed. She could see that Claire didn't like it when she interrupted, and she vaguely remembered that you weren't supposed to talk in movie theaters. Maybe you just weren't supposed to talk during movies at all. Either way, she didn't want to upset the younger blonde, who had been exceedingly nice to her since she had moved in.

But right now, she couldn't not ask questions. She hit the pause button the remote. "Claire—"

"Elle, this is the best sex scene ever created!" Claire cried as she tossed the bowl of popcorn. Movie watching with Elle was useless.

"I just don't get it. I mean, I've had sex before, but we weren't really together, and I didn't feel that special. She looks like she feels really special," Elle said, pointing at the screen.

Claire nodded. "Because he's her someone. Everyone has a special someone who's perfect for them. They compliment each other. Maybe the person you had sex with just wasn't your special someone."

Elle immediately became quiet. "I don't know. Why would anyone…? Nevermind," she said quickly, pushing play again on the remote.

Claire reached over and snatched the remote from her, pausing the DVD once more. "Why would anyone, what?"

"Why would anyone want to be my special someone? I don't understand how anything works. I'm a quarter through my life and I'm just starting to learn how to be around real people. No one would ever want to put up with me," Elle said softly. Though her voice held what sounded like sadness, her features were completely blank.

Claire reached a hand out and touched Elle's. "It's like I said, everyone has a special someone. Even if you don't think you're worth loving, they will."

Elle raised her eyes to look at Claire. "Do you think I'm worth loving?"

Claire knew that this was it. Moving quickly so that there was no more time to talk herself out of it, she leaned in and gently cupped Elle's face in her hands before pressing her lips against the older blonde's. Elle was stiff at first, but then pressed into Claire, even opening her mouth to allow the younger girl access. Claire deepened the kiss and Elle's hands went to Claire's sides. They continued to kiss for a few minutes before Elle pulled away, short of breath.

Claire brought her hands down to her lap and gently locked her fingers with Elle's. "I've thought you were worth loving since we flew to Pinehearst together. I just needed to be sure that I was right. I think I'm sure now."

"Even though I'm really no good at this feelings stuff?" Elle said softly. Her gaze was on their fingers. She seemed fascinated by the way Claire's hands looked as they interlocked with hers.

"We'll work on it together. I'm not so good at them either," Claire said as she reached a hand up to push Elle's hair out of her face.

Elle raised her eyes to look at Claire. "Do you think we could try that again?"

Footnote: Wow, that was long. I've never written REAL romance before, so this is a first for me. Hopefully it didn't turn out too badly. This is just the prologue, with lots more on the way. Please review if you made it this far!