Disclaimer: I don't own any of this, and this is not for profit.
Author's Note: Okay, I have no idea how old Claire is at this point of the show. So I went with this, since I can't remember any hard evidence to the contrary. Oh, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to the special hell for being so obsessed with this pairing, but hey, that's something I've accepted by now.
In truth, Claire hadn't known, not really, until the night of her 18th birthday. There had been hints, sure, but she had no idea what they meant. She hadn't known she should be looking for bits of Sylar buried inside her biological father.
After all, wasn't he supposed to be dead? She'd watched him burn that day. She'd wanted to see him dead for so long; when the moment finally arrived, it was anticlimactic. She'd felt nothing of the joy she thought she would feel at his passing, nor did she feel any sense of triumph over the enemy. All she'd felt was a dull sense of loneliness, a feeling which grew in the following weeks.
Like it or not, his words had taken root in her mind and she couldn't seem to escape his logic, twisted though it was. She hated him. While he was alive, she hated him with every regenerative cell in her freakshow of a body. But eternity was a long time to be alone, and after he was dead, she was left to look over the eons in her future and wonder if, even after everything, Sylar might have been able to mean something to her. Anything. If she would have stopped hating him enough to make him simply an acquaintance, it would have been better than the nothing she was facing now.
So, with the full belief that Sylar was finally dead, she didn't notice the little changes in Nathan, the hints that something was off. Until he gave her the watch.
On the night of her 18th birthday, both of her families had gathered for a nice dinner. Such a momentous event in any girl's life was, in truth, dull by comparison to everything else she'd been through, but it was one of the few things in the world that could possibly pull all of these people together to one place at the same time. Her adopted family was there: Noah, Sandra, and Lyle. She still considered them more family than those she was related to biologically, except perhaps Peter, but the bio-family was there as well: Peter, of course, Nathan, and Angela.
They were going around the table, each giving her a gift in turn. Peter had been first. He'd given her a gift certificate for scuba diving lessons, to go with the tropical vacation Angela gave her next. Then Nathan had slowly slid the box across the big round table. She'd opened it carefully, making sure not to rip the holographic wrapping paper, and then gazed at the beautiful antique watch he'd given her.
Despite the vacation she'd already received, she couldn't stop herself from saying, "Wow. This must have cost a fortune. It's beautiful." She studied it as much as she could without removing it from its box. It looked so delicate. But then, so did she.
"Barely cost a thing," Nathan corrected her with a smile. "I found it broken. But I took a chance on it anyway. I've been kind of good at repairing those sorts of things lately. Talent I never knew I had, I guess. Fun hobby, though."
Everything snapped into place for Claire in that moment, and she was sure it all would have shown on her face if she hadn't gotten so much practice with putting on a facade for almost everyone in her life, at one point or another. But while her mind raced, trying to figure out how it was possible, she smiled and told the man who looked like Nathan, "Thank you so much." She saw no trace of Sylar in his answering smile and she was suddenly sure that he was completely in the dark as to who he really was.
The rest of the night was a blur, at least as far as what was going on outside of her mind. On the surface, she accepted the rest of her gifts with grace and a big smile directed at each member of her family, but inside, she was piecing together clues. She was a smart girl, and she was able to figure things out quickly.
First, just as she was sure that Nathan didn't know he was really Sylar, she was sure that both her father and Angela were in on it. That would certainly explain why they were so twitchy lately, and neither of them had found Nathan's gift as charming as everyone else, including her, seemed to. The sense of betrayal she felt at this went beyond words. How could they tell her that the man who had tormented her for years was dead? She saw him at least once a week, and he was obviously a ticking time bomb, just waiting to turn back into her enemy. On the other hand, Peter's easy smile told her that he didn't know. That was a relief. She probably couldn't have handled his betrayal too.
Next, she went over the details, trying to figure out how this had happened. She had, after all, watched Sylar burn. And how could Sylar truly believe he was Nathan? The pieces clicked into place one after the other with barely any thought required of her. Sylar was a shapeshifter. He had to have acquired that power from someone, and that someone was probably the one who burned. He'd felt a need to be Sylar, for one reason or another, and he'd died that way. As for how Sylar thought he was Nathan, she could only think of Matt. Only he had that kind of power, to her knowledge.
By the time she was headed back to Peter's house, where she'd been staying for the past several weeks, her mind had moved on to what this meant. The loneliness she'd felt at Sylar's death was gone, replaced by some form of acceptance. Her fate was going to be grim, but it could be worse.
If Sylar ever remembered who he was, Claire knew that she would eventually cave and prove him right. Eternity spent with him would be better than eternity spent alone. Sure, she could find someone else to fall in love with, and even be happy for a time. Peter would have been ideal for her, if only they hadn't turned out to be related. But she knew that the deaths of the people she knew now would tear her soul apart...and she couldn't imagine herself purposely becoming attached to anyone else, knowing they would die of old age, if they were lucky, while she remained timeless. She knew, if she chose that path, that after the first few men she married withered and died, she'd turn to Sylar. He would do the same. He'd sealed their fates that day when he'd taken her ability, and she wondered if he'd already thought it through to the conclusion she was just coming to now: the two of them, the only immortals, needing each other despite their distaste and their history.
So she waited. She knew Nathan, the real Nathan, was dead, probably killed by Sylar, and she quietly mourned for him, while she became angrier each day at her father and grandmother. She felt guilty that her grief for him didn't seem to compare to the relief she felt that Sylar was alive. She chalked this up to the fact that she knew he would die eventually. Sylar had been a constant, psychotic and murderous, but constant. He wasn't ever supposed to die. And he hadn't.
Five weeks later, Nathan called her into his office. She'd known that he'd remembered as soon as she saw him. Though he was wearing Nathan's body, his stance and smirk were clearly Sylar's. Still, she marched straight into his office and prepared herself to face anything. She thought his rage was most likely. Who wouldn't be pissed about being shoved into the body of the person he'd just killed? She knew he'd have questions, and she hoped this time, it wouldn't be necessary to rip off the top of her head to find his answers. She was even prepared to deal with his desire, so long as he reverted to his own body. Looking like her bio-dad while hitting on her in his charming but evil manner was something she didn't think even Sylar would try.
But he simply closed and locked his office door, then stared at her. After five minutes, when Claire finally started to squirm, he sat behind his desk, leaned back in his chair, and asked, "So what did I miss?"