It takes her a couple of weeks longer than she thought, but Claire tracks him down near New Orleans, hiding in a house on the outskirts of a town that could definitely qualify as nowheresville.
It's hot and sticky as she makes her way up to the door and for some reason, makes her crave Cajun chicken.
Her hand stills, millimetres from the door. She's been so gung-ho about this path until now. But for some reason, reaching this threshold, coming so close to the only person she's ever truly trusted, makes her heart skip a beat.
She wants to knock, but can't. All those weeks on the run, all that planning and anxiety and loneliness. Finding one person in a world of six billion had seemed an impossible task for anyone besides Claire Bennet, but she'd done it.
She'd done it, but now what?
She doesn't know. So she sits on the steps and waits in the oppressive heat for a sign. What precisely it'd take, she doesn't know.
* * * * *
It's just as well the wind had been sucked from her sails, because it turns out Peter isn't home anyway.
She only discovers this when she sees a shadow loom over her, tall and distorted in the blazing afternoon sun.
It's his tone that makes her look up. It isn't surprise or shock or reproach, but a strange, half-shattered release of emotion that's all too familiar to her. She knows it because it's the strangled sound she makes crying alone in the dark, in those fractured moments of in-between when she can let the frightened teenager reappear, the cheerleader who'd been so complacent about her normal life and feel what her life's become.
She's imagined this moment many times over the past weeks; imagined how strong and she'd be for him. Show Peter how much growing up she's done since their hasty separation; show him that the cheerleader he'd rescued lifetimes ago has become a hero herself and, in turn, was rescuing others.
But instead she can't utter a word; can't even open her mouth. Flies buzz hotly over her face and the glare of the sun should blind her vision, but it doesn't because she can't see anything but him.
She flings herself against him, doesn't realise how much hope she's pinned on the thought of seeing him again until now. Revels in the tightness of his grip and fancies that yeah, he's glad and relieved to see her too.
It's a while before he's able to untangle himself but when he does, asks a really good question.
"Claire, what the hell are you doing here?"
* * * * *
She doesn't mean to sound so broken or frightened, but he has a way of getting under her skin. She's sure it's unconsciously done but somehow it comforts her, that there's at least one person in this world who's capable of getting under her fiery armour without premeditation or thought because that's just the way he is.
Peter sits across the table, patiently watches as she cries her heart out. She hadn't realised until halfway through her gibbering how much stress she'd been under, how lonely she'd been having no one to share her burden with. Alex had been a great listener, but he hadn't known, hadn't gone through what she and Peter and Matt and the others had.
And there hadn't been that spontaneous intimacy she and Peter had shared; that rapport that had made her instantly trust him without question.
He doesn't ask whether she's okay, because he knows they're not. How can they be when their world's been turned upside down until it feels like they're hanging onto the only life they'll ever have by the skin of their teeth?
He doesn't say anything that can be construed as a lie; doesn't make false promises that it's all going to be okay because even he knows it may not be okay. The best they can hope for is to stay alive and to save as many people as they can with the powers they were given.
Claire finds it sad, that the eternal dreamer in him is no more. Sees the hard man he could become if their life continues down the path they've both chosen and been forced onto.
It makes her grieve before her time.
* * * * *
He chuckles when she recounts how she'd found him, having the stones to go to Angela right in the dragon's den. It's the first time the worry disappears off his face and she can't lie; she's relieved her hero can still smile.
"I'd pay a lot to see you forcing her hand like that. No one forces mom to do anything."
And because he's smiling, there's a smile on her face, too.
She offers to wash the dishes in the sink (because let's face it, Peter's her hero but he's also a man) and make them a simple dinner. She'd spent enough years as her mom's disciple in the kitchen to know that anything she serves would be better than what he can conjure.
She hums as she cooks, doesn't know she's doing it until she catches him staring with the most imperceptible of smiles. Considers a retort but bites it back; the simple domesticity is actually a respite from the high stakes game of life and death that's ensnared them both.
It's half way through dinner that he surprises her.
"I missed you, Claire. I'm glad you found me."
The nakedness of his admission disarms her completely. She smiles awkwardly and jokes, yeah, she's sure he's missed how annoying she can be but adds, almost against her will.
"I've missed you too."
There's too much to say; they'll never be finished saying it. So they finish their food in silence.
Afterwards when she's washing the dishes his hand snakes along hers, stilling them. His breath is warm against her face and for a moment, for a crazy, split second of a moment, she thinks –
Well, she doesn't know what she thinks.
His grip on her fingers tighten.
"I'm glad you're here."
"Are you –?"
"I'll stay as long as you can put up with me."
She doesn't need to turn around to see his smile. She can feel it, as sure as she can feel the one spreading across her own face.
For the first time in weeks – months maybe – she feels herself relaxing. It doesn't have anything to do with safety or having enough sleep or food, but something else she'd been missing since those simple days in Odessa.
She can relax and feel safe because she's at home.
She's home, with him.