Disclaimer: I don't own Heroes and am not gaining anything from this story, other than the enjoyment of writing it.
A/N: I couldn't help myself – this pairing just demanded a story from me and it was 95 % done about a week after the season finale, but then I just couldn't stop editing it on and off until now. I don't normally do one-shots and I'm not completely sure about how it's turned out, but I'm done editing it so please let me know what you think. The start is a recap of that amazing scene from the season finale that all of you reading this pairing probably love as much as I do, but from there its all mine :) Enjoy!
Sylar & Claire
Where did this obsession start?
Was it the first time he'd tried to cut her head open? Was it the second? Was it when he realised that she was the only one who could survive what he would do to her?
Or perhaps it was when he saw the possibility contained in the years stretching ahead, with only one person who would keep him company … however unwillingly.
She opened the bottle of wine with jerky movements, the cork flicking droplets of red liquid through the air and on to the expensive carpet at her feet. She stood with the opener and cork in one hand, and the bottle in the other like a marionette until given direction by the only other occupant in the lavish room.
"Don't you love a good Pinot?" the man asked, lips quirking in a smirk as he watched her back.
Claire grimaced at the casual tone in his voice that overlay something deeper and darker. Now, while she was facing away from him, she fought back tears. She would never show him how much he affected her. Never. She would never let him know how she hated him for being the cause of this helplessness that overwhelmed her, making her feel like a child.
"My Dad's on his way." Her voice was firm with conviction. "He's going to stop you, and then I'm going to kill you." The thought alone made her rage overtake her fear.
Sylar drank in her anger, still smiling. He whipped her around with a flick of his fingers, enjoying her gasp of surprise. "No." It was a statement of fact. "Actually I am going to kill him …" He pulled her closer, controlling her movements like the puppet-master he'd ripped the ability from. Claire placed the wine bottle on the low table between the two couches, baring her teeth as she fought his control to no effect. He met her glare, considering. "Or have you kill him," his head quirked to the side as he studied her expression. "I haven't decided yet."
Claire's face reflected her horror, her anguish as she stared at this man, this murderer. No, nonononono! Not my father!
"Don't give me that look," Sylar snapped, forcing her to turn back towards the drinks cabinet. His tone was harsh, angry. "Everybody dies sometime." His mood changed swiftly again, the anger morphing into speculation. "Well, almost everybody. Pappa Petrelli, Mamma Bennet … Mr Muggles …" He mockingly used the tone her mother did when saying the name of her beloved dog before whipping her around again to face him, with two wine-glasses in her hands. Sylar frowned, thoughtful. "What's your brother's name again? Larry?"
"Lyle," she breathed his name. Her normal, teenaged brother who had nothing to do with this life except what she had forced on him by being who she was.
"Lyle, right. He's going to die too." Sylar spoke the words casually, though he must have known how they tore at her heart. His power forced her to set the glasses beside the wine bottle. "As we speak my father's dying." Claire shuffled backwards awkwardly, fighting every step as a flick of his fingers made her sit across from him. "Did I tell you I got to meet my real dad?" he asked conversationally while pouring the wine. "Boy, was that a disappointment."
Sylar leaned towards her, considering her again. "Have you ever stopped to think about how much we have in common, Claire?" He stood up, and started to walk closer.
"You were adopted, I was adopted. You can't die, I can't die." He was smiling as he sat next to her, his arm sliding behind her shoulders.
"Oh you can die – I'll make sure of it." Claire snarled, straining against his control.
Sylar leaned back, and forced her to mimic him as he sipped the red wine. He breathed deeply, drawing in the bouquet of rich scents arising from the liquid, and considered how much more he preferred the smell of her fear. It was utterly intoxicating …
"You'll get bored, after a hundred years of trying to off me. Watching all of your loved ones drop like flies." He watched her expression as it twisted with pain and denial. "You may eventually come to forgive me," he whispered, shifting closer as he ran his fingers through a lock of her hair.
"Maybe you'll even love me."
"I'll keep trying to kill you – for the rest of my life!" she snapped in disgust.
"Well, everybody needs a hobby." Sylar shrugged as he took another sip. "I mean, I'm not saying there aren't bridges that need to be built." He curled his fingers in her hair while stroking the side of her face gently. His voice dropped lower, and she could almost feel the darkness inside him reaching out to entrap her in its tendrils. "But if we start building them now, who knows …" he leaned in to whisper in her ear, "You could be my first … first lady …"
"Never." She replied, her voice as soft as his.
He smiled. "Never is a long time Claire, especially when everyone you know will be dead – except me." Sylar leaned away, staring towards the apartment window. "I suppose I can wait for you," he said, almost to himself. "Yes. After all, when you've seen enough people die, when you've killed enough, then you'll come to me."
He stood, setting down the glass as he moved away. Sylar turned back towards her suddenly, an eager smirk on his lips. "But for now, dear Claire, you're in my way." And her flung her through the apartment doors into her father and uncle's path.
And then he fought them, and killed her father.
And her grandmother convinced Matt Parkman to make Sylar, that monster, think he was Nathan Petrelli. A selfish desire to keep her son alive, even in that twisted form.
But none of them could stop Sylar. None of them.
He'd heard her coming, but waited for her to say his name before standing to greet her. Even though the name felt wrong, he enjoyed the thrill the sound of her voice gave him. Was that wrong?
He wasn't really sure what was wrong anymore.
"Claire." He moved to give her a hug, and she blinked in surprise. "How are you?"
"Fine, just fine," she replied, stepping back.
His hands lingered on her shoulders a fraction too long …
"Good," he smiled, brushing a lock of her hair behind her ear before going to sit on one of the couches, beckoning for her to join him. "I wanted to find out how your assignments are going. I feel like I hardly see you anymore."
Claire shrugged wryly. "My dad keeps me running around. Every time you've phoned something seems to come up, but work brought me nearby and I decided to drop in."
His eyes watched her every move, drinking her in.
Nathan's lips widened in a pleased grin. "Thank you, Claire. So how have things been going?"
She was a bit surprised by his interest, but decided it was a result of their Mexico trip. Claire settled on to the opposite couch, leaning back with a sigh. "Fine, I guess. It's pretty useful when the bruises heal almost immediately, but at the same time it doesn't give me anything to show for what I've been doing." She looked past him, out of the window of his office. A slightly bitter laugh escaped her lips. "It would be even more useful if I had an ability that was a bit more … offensive, I guess is the word I'm looking for."
Nathan leaned forward, his expression intense. "Don't demean what you can do, Claire. It's a true gift, being able to cheat death. Sometimes I think your power is the most remarkable of all. The most special."
He stood, taking a few steps away from her and towards the windows. "What do you think the purpose of all this is, Claire?"
"What do you mean?"
His head turned back to her, and for a split-second she could have sworn that it wasn't Nathan's face … but that was crazy. It was just a trick of the shadows, falling across his features. Falling across them a little wrong. "Why do you think we have these abilities, Claire? It can't be just so that we can restrain others who misuse them, otherwise there would be no point in any of us having anything. So what is the point of it all? Random evolution? But then for what purpose? And if Peter foresaw the world's destruction if everyone was to have these abilities, then will there only ever be a few of us?"
It was obvious he'd put a lot of thought into this, and Claire had to admit she had as well. But it was an endless circle of questions that she couldn't find an answer to. The ex-cheerleader shook her head slowly. "I don't know if it will ever make sense. I once thought we were meant to save the world, but those others that came before us – your mother, Hiro's father – almost destroyed it when they tried. I don't think we will ever know."
"Maybe if we live long enough we will," Nathan replied softly, a strange undercurrent to his voice that she couldn't read.
"I suppose I should get going." She said at last, standing to leave. Nathan hugged her again before he let her go.
A little too long, a little too intense.
"Goodbye, Claire. Look after yourself."
"You bastard! You killed him! You killed them!"
Her tears flowed as thick as their blood. They fell to the soaked earth, where the bodies lay.
"It was thanks to you, Claire." He smiled, taking on her father's face again for a moment. After so long in another's shape he seemed to be battling to keep to his own. "Being with you brought it all back. How I feel about you is hardly fatherly, after all."
She screamed, shooting at him again and again. He shifted to her father's form once more, enjoying the anguish in her face as she kept firing.
"Claire, I'm hurt," he laughed in her father's voice as he continued walking closer. She kept squeezing the trigger, even as it clicked from one empty chamber to another. Claire shuddered, her body shutting down as he wrapped his arms around her. The tears fell thick and fast as he whispered to her, sounding, feeling and even smelling like the real father she had unknowingly lost so long ago.
"I suppose it will take a long time for you to forgive me for this, Claire. But I'll wait for you."
She held his hand, trying to ignore the way his skin felt. Papery and thin, fragile and old. Would his bones crack if she squeezed too hard? The hum of the air-conditioning couldn't drown out the rasps as he breathed in and out slowly, weakly. She could hear the whispering in the hall – his children, and grandchildren – as they wondered who she could be, this strange woman who arrived during their elder's last days.
"I'm here, Lyle," she whispered as she smoothed her fingers over his hand.
His eyes opened, training on her though their focus was hazy.
"It's me." She smiled a little.
His face shifted as he turned his eyes to the ceiling. He started mumbling, grinding his teeth in anxiety.
"It's alright," she tried to reassure him, but he wasn't even really seeing her. Claire watched him as her heart broke. He really didn't see her – his mind was scattered. Her voice may have triggered a reaction, but he couldn't hear her.
Her brother was gone.
"I love you, Lyle. Please tell Mom and Dad that I love them too, okay?"
Claire pressed her lips to his wasted cheek, before slowly moving away. She left the room, not wanting to disturb her brother or his family any more. Although a few of them gave her strange looks, they walked past her into the room without saying a word.
His family crowded around him, their patriarch. The doctors had recommended that they all say their goodbyes.
Claire watched them, staying by the door of his room but not going in again. She waited as they held his hands and spoke softly of old times. Of how much they loved him, and would miss him.
When the heart monitor flat-lined, they held each other and sobbed. The nurse standing at the bedside quietly turned it off, offering her condolences before leaving them to their grief. As she left she saw Claire standing there and offered her a tissue with a sad smile. Claire hadn't even realised she was crying.
She could feel him standing behind her. He'd been there for a while, but she refused to acknowledge him and he stayed silent.
She stood there for a long time, even after his family left and his bed lay empty, the body gone.
"Why are you here?" she asked at last, her voice hoarse.
There was a long silence before he replied. "I'm here for you, Claire." Sylar laid a hand on her shoulder.
Claire shrugged it off violently, spinning to face him furiously. "You don't get to say that, you bastard! I don't want you near me! Are you happy now? The only one of my family you didn't take away from me is dead!"
His expression was impassive, but there was something in his eyes … something that made her think that he enjoyed watching her pain and disliked it at the same time.
They knew each other quite well now. She'd beheaded, burnt, poisoned and sunk him to the bottom of the ocean at least twice each over the years. It had been difficult each time – as his store of powers grew it became harder to get the jump on him. Finally, it became impossible.
This was after he'd acquired the ability to find anyone with powers from a woman called Molly. Yes, little Molly. Claire would always remember her as the little girl Matt Parkman had protected so ferociously. She preferred that image to the one Sylar had left when he was done with her only five years ago. Molly'd been an old woman then, but Claire still hadn't forgiven him for it.
Now Sylar kept tabs on his cheerleader, if only because he found reassembling body-parts tedious.
"Death comes to everyone but us, Claire." He replied. A wry smile tugged at his lips. "At least you can't blame me for this one."
She glared at him, suppressing a shudder at the way his eyes fixated on her. Her body had changed a little, and she'd been glad to know she wouldn't be frozen as a teenager forever. She'd stopped aging in her early twenties, her body in its prime. Through all those years since, everything had changed except for her. And him.
Her eyes closed as pain rippled through her. "Why can't you leave me alone?" she pleaded brokenly.
His fingers brushed across her cheek once, and he pulled back as she turned her face away.
"I don't know."
She was in love.
He hated it.
Sylar watched, his lips twisting in disgust as Claire stood on her tiptoes to kiss the man with her. He fought the urge to gag as they hugged and held hands and whispered sweetly to each other.
He wanted to thrust his hand under the bastard's ribcage and rip his fucking heart out.
It didn't matter that the latest one was gifted – why should it, with a gift as pathetic as his? Claire could at least have found someone who was worth killing. He was only marginally better than those ordinaries she kept picking out of the gutter!
Sylar sneered as he watched them link arms, heading further into the park. Claire turned to the other man, laughing at something he said. Her expression was clear, bright – free of worries. Unless you knew her well enough to see behind the façade.
Was she remembering the people who had died around her in that train accident? Or the man she'd killed to save the wife he'd beaten almost to death? Little Claire wasn't the innocent she'd once been. He loved reminding her about the blood on her hands – all the blood that made her more like him.
When they stopped to kiss again, Sylar turned away.
"She said she wouldn't do this again," he cursed to himself. "She wrote it in her bloody diary!" Well, it wasn't like she'd tell him anything, so he had to resort to subterfuge to check on his Claire. His Claire. The bastard was just going to leave her and break her heart, or die on her. If not the former, then he'd make sure of the latter. A heart attack, a stroke, a well-placed bus … you name it.
Sure, it'd hurt her. But he'd rather have the guy die now than watch her suffer through seeing him grow old and the love in his eyes turn to resentment and then hatred.
Besides, it wasn't like it was the first time he'd had to kill someone for her.
The drugs made her mind foggy for a while, until her healing powers filtered it from her system. They worked out pretty quickly that there wasn't anything they could really do to her. Cut off a finger, and the removed limb would crumble to dust while her body regenerated a new one. It seemed like once it was removed from her, it had lost its ability to regenerate and returned to its real age – disintegrating before their eyes.
They found it fascinating.
Someone given her blood would heal, but only once. It was the reason why they hadn't been able to bring Nathan back, when Sylar killed him. It was why she'd had to bury her other father when Sylar dispatched him, as well.
But there was no storing of her 'miracle blood'. It had to be transfused directly now for the same reason as the finger, because she was old – older than any of them realised. Older than she cared to remember.
Sometimes she hated it – like now. All the powers she could have had, and she ended up with this. What was the point of being invulnerable, if a simple piece of rope could hold you? If you were held prisoner by people used to keeping captive freaks with far more dangerous gifts?
There weren't many people with gifts left. They'd been hunted down by the government, secret agencies, and Sylar. Maybe the powers went back into hibernation or those left were just good at hiding, whatever, but there were fewer freaks running loose and she'd just happened to be one of those caught.
It had been stupid, really. Staying in one place a little too long without getting a wrinkle or a grey hair – what was the crime in that? A lot, apparently. She'd gotten too attached to that little town – she'd actually made some friends. But for some reason life seemed to be determined to condemn her to a solitary existence.
Well, almost solitary.
Considering who the other person was, she wished it was. She wished the bastard would just die already!
It was hard to truly hate someone for as long as she had, but she managed somehow.
Speak of the devil …
Screams echoed down the hallway outside her cell, along with gunshots and frantic shouting. Her jaw clenched as she listened to the grim, sickening sounds. She could almost picture the blood splattering the walls, slick matter crusting on skin and spilling across the concrete floor. Claire could hear them pleading, to no avail.
This demon didn't believe in mercy.
The door crashed open, and Claire gazed up at him expressionlessly.
Not even a drop of blood stained his clothes, though it would be hard to tell on all that black. A smug grin stretched across his face as his eyes came to rest on her.
"Why, Claire! What a surprise to see you here. Were you waiting just for me?" He sauntered closer, drinking in the sight of her. His eyes tightened as he saw the restraints, which were ripped off as soon as he looked at them.
"What the hell do you think I'm doing here, you bastard?" she snapped, losing her composure and furious that all that blood didn't seem to ever touch him. These people may have locked her up, but it was hard to torture someone who couldn't feel pain and she felt sorry for them more than anything else. They would never really stand a chance against the freaks of the world – it was hard to blame them for trying. "Why are you here? I didn't need to see another of your lunatic killing sprees and I sure as hell didn't need rescuing!"
His eyebrow rose sceptically as he glanced pointedly at the now-free wrists she was rubbing the sensation back into. "Of course not, Claire. I came to see the stash of abilities they considerately gathered together for me to take my pick of."
She surged to her feet, "You sick-!" and then swayed on her feet, almost falling.
He caught her arms, holding her steady while she shook her head. If she could have seen his face, she would have been surprised to see the black fury there. "What did they do to you, Claire-Bear?"
Claire pulled away, glaring. "Don't call me that! It was just those drugs – an overdose. Its just taking a bit longer to get rid of it, that's all. I'm fine!"
Sylar frowned, serious for once. "Let's get you out of here."
"I don't need your help!" she snapped, but he ignored her and wrapped an arm around her shoulders to steady her as they left the room. His abilities hindered any attempts she made to break free, so she tried taunting him. "What about all those tasty abilities, Sylar? Too much for you?"
He pressed his cheek to her temple, a dark smile touching his lips. "They won't get far, Claire. Besides, you didn't think I'd let you go so easily, did you? I haven't forgiven you yet for that bomb. I really liked that house …"
The first time she tried to kill herself, he wasn't there. It wasn't like he spent every moment watching her – he had his own life, after all.
When he first realised he couldn't sense her anymore, as she was the only one he kept track of constantly, he'd been pissed. Sure that she'd just figured out some way to circumvent his freak-radar, he'd gone to the place she'd been last.
The ruined warehouse hadn't been what he'd thought of as a suitable place for his Claire, but despite his surety that she'd just given him the slip a quickening in his step gave away his growing unease. This place wasn't right, not for Claire. How could she have done anything to stop him sensing her anyway? Unless …
He was running when the scent of blood hit his nose and sped up his heart.
"God damn it, Claire!" he snarled when the ripped floorboards revealed her cold corpse. She'd tried to hide herself from him! He pulled her free, turning her head aside roughly so that he could yank out the metal splinter she'd obviously thrust into her brain. "What the hell is wrong with you?"
It seemed to take forever for the colour to slowly flood back into her limbs, her face – her lips. When she took that first breath, his heart eased at last even though he was still suffused with rage. He brushed her hair back behind her ears, wondering absently when she'd cut it. He didn't like it short – it didn't suit the image of Claire he held in his mind.
Her eyes opened at last – he'd been considering moving her if it took much longer – and the emotion in them stopped his angry reprimand in its tracks. The sadness – no, there was no word that could encompass the sorrow, the utter despair and desolation in her eyes – quenched the anger in an instant. Her blue eyes looked up at him, so empty as she lay there drenched in her own blood. It called to something inside of him – this sadness, this extent of darkness.
"You're never going to let me die, are you." Her words were rough, her throat dry with the recent death.
He ran his fingers down the side of her face gently, and she let him.
Claire closed her eyes and the tears slid down her cheeks, turning pink with her blood.
"Why?" Her voice was broken. "Why? What have I done to you, that you won't let me leave this godforsaken existence? I've seen too many die … I can't stand the thought of falling in love again, only to know that it will end in any one of a number of horrific ways. It always does. I don't have anything left in me, Sylar. Please. Please let me die.
"Or just kill me."
Sylar stood. He stared down at her, expression mostly impassive but his mouth curling with a hint of disgust. "Claire … It looks like I was wrong about you. I didn't think you were so weak."
She winced, her hand clenching into a fist. "Please …"
He wrenched her up, one of his hands fisting in her hair, tilting her head back so that she had to look at him. " 'Please', Claire? Are you begging me now?" He bent her body into his, leaning over her with the anger and darkness burning in his eyes. "Have you forgotten who I am, Claire?" he whispered harshly as he yanked on her hair, bending her body even more. "Have you forgotten what I've done? How many I've killed … tortured … ripped apart? Don't you hate me?"
"Yes," she breathed. But it was quiet, lacking the conviction he was used to hearing in her declarations of hatred.
So he goaded her. He shifted into Peter, Nathan, Noah. Before her eyes he became her mother, her brother, her grandmother. But he eventually went back to the shape that was still so familiar because he'd been in it so long.
"Do you remember what I did to your father, Claire?" he asked her in Nathan's voice, wearing Nathan's face. Her heart broke, seeing the people who she'd loved so much, who'd been gone for so long. Would she never see them again? Had she been banished to this god-awful existence of loneliness? Where she stood still, and the world flashed by year after year after year …
"You slit his throat, and then pretended to be him."
He stroked his fingers through her matted hair. "I was Nathan, for a time. And you loved me then, didn't you Claire?"
"I loved Nathan, not you Sylar. Never you." His grip on her had loosened, but she didn't pull free. There was some comfort in this familiar struggle – this conflict of theirs that had been ongoing since the very beginning. She'd learned to read him, this strange psychopathic serial murderer. Claire knew that her attempt at suicide had shaken him more than he would ever admit. He was trying to make her angry, trying to give her some focus for her life. If she was trying to kill him then she wouldn't kill herself.
Because she was the only constant in his life, just as he was in hers.
And he would never let her die while he lived.
Maybe he'd been obsessed with her once, just as she had once hated him. But the truth was that emotions like those didn't last hundreds of years. His obsession had morphed into something else, just as her hatred had. Feelings more complex than anyone else, subject to only a few years of them, could understand.
Her fingertips traced the lines of her father's face and her eyes flitted from one feature to the next, trying to memorise the way he looked while ignoring the look in his eyes that didn't belong to Nathan. So much time had passed, so many years that she'd started to forget what he was really like. A photo could only do so much – too two-dimensional to give the real feel of a person. Sylar wasn't Nathan, but for a second she could just pretend … couldn't she?
It was then that she began to realise, that she started to understand.
She couldn't pretend that she was with Nathan, because no matter what face he wore Sylar wasn't able to deceive her any more.
She'd recognise his eyes, his presence in a crowd of a hundred … a thousand. He couldn't hide from her any more than she could from him. Was it just a by-product of time? Of proximity? Or could it be the stirrings of something else …
Claire stepped away from him at last, shaking away the disturbing thoughts. The ex-cheerleader forced herself to show no sign that he'd affected her in any way – something else she'd become proficient at – and her lips twisted in a cynical smile. "You'll get tired of all this sometime too. And then I'll finally get a little peace."
Sylar smirked back at her, his features shifting back to his own face. "What makes you think I'd go so easily? As long as you're around to torment, I'll never get bored." Something inside him eased as the light returned to her eyes – that spark that made her Claire.
They stared at each other for a long moment, more passing between them than either would ever admit. Finally the blond turned away, waving one hand dismissively. "I'll just have to think up new ways to kill you then, that's all."
"You can try." He replied, his tone almost teasing. Sylar couldn't see her amused expression at his challenge, but he could picture it.
And the smirk on his lips softened to a real smile as he watched her walk out of the door.
I'll be waiting for you, Claire. Always.