Title: Adaptation
Rating: R (slight sexual imagery)
Characters: Sylar/Claire, little!Noah
Disclaimer: Not mine, making no profit.
Prompt: "you're so spoiled"
Timeline: AU; takes place in a series I'm writing
Teaser: Adapt. Make fit for, or change to suit a new purpose.


Five months after the world ends (one month after he slides on top of her, inside her), Claire has somehow decided that he's to blame for the lack of bras she can find on the run. Forget the attack in the high school, the stolen power and the dead mother, Sylar is single-handedly responsible for the fact that she's being forced to make due with a single bra.

It's a mystery he has no interest in unraveling.

"You're not getting everything."

"I brought you everything on your list."

"I shouldn't have needed to add this stuff."

He glances up, finds her buttoning the new shirt he's brought her over the worn cotton she's trying to keep together with the little sewing kit she stole from a little old lady at a bus stop. (He has to avert his eyes when she brings it out because she doesn't know how to sew, is only getting worse at it and he still knows how even though it's been years.)

Sylar hasn't touched her except the release he found a month before (throwing her through the diner window doesn't count) and her hair is still blonde, still long and heavy against her back. She needs to cut it, dye it, make it harder for them to be found, but she just spits words at him when he brings up the suggestion.

When she gets herself caught because of her vanity, he won't go back for her.

"I don't have any more panties," she mutters as she walks past him to the bed, flops back.

Sylar pauses in the middle of his reading, acutely aware of the fact that he never saw his mother's undergarments even though he had done all the laundry after it got too difficult for her. She'd always said there were some things a boy wasn't supposed to see.

He glances at her, glances down at his still fingers over the book he stole hours before.

When he looks up again, his eyes settle on the curve of skin he can see through the neck of the blouse he picked out for her, thin bra doing nothing to hide what he can see at this angle.

Sylar adds underwear to the list of things to pick up next time he goes out for supplies.


Three months after the incident, as he has begun to think of it, Claire spends the time not surviving muttering at him about teen mothers and daytime talk shows, complaining that she's always tired but not sleeping when he finds her a bed, gagging whenever he puts food in front of her.

When he dismisses her, irritated at the theatrics, she does something painful but admittedly creative with a fork into his palm.

For weeks following her furious announcement, he thinks about getting rid of her, irritated at her treatment and sure that this is why the male of a smart species is not involved beyond conception, and uneasy about traveling with her this long beyond his annoyance. But he remembers excelling in Catholic school, and there's a pressure at his back that feels like his mother is leaning over his shoulder, murmuring sharply in his ear, twisting his lobe the way she did when she thought he was being shameful.

At a loss, he waits, processes his thoughts and puts up with her.

The new President is sworn in, shark smile broad as he reads his lines, and Sylar hesitates for different reasons.

When she demands crackers for the nausea the morning after her father takes office, he moves them again and gives her the crackers, listening to her much calmer chewing as he drives.


Six months along and muttering to the swell of her stomach when she thinks he isn't listening, Claire's obsessed with breakfast, wakes up every morning and finds some way to get what she wants. He puts up with it at first, glad to have her focused on something that keeps her out of the way, but when she throws open the door of the house they've found and heads out herself in the middle of the night when his back is turned because she wants syrup, he finally has enough.

No diners now, too dangerous— he drives to a store in another town, locks her in the car with the keys and pistol in case any happens, and goes into the Wal-Mart with a list filled with her confusing, looping handwriting. He gets eggs, packs of sausage and bacons, the frozen hash browns and waffles she complains about and drops all the items into the hand basket he picked up at the front.

At the bottom of the list, there's 'hair dye – something dark' listed.

When he reaches that aisle, it's a solid wall of boxes so he picks up one at a time, discarding complete black and settling on a dark brown that will look natural with her coloring. Halfway to the cash register, he remembers his mother talking about how hair dye was dangerous for pregnancy and she was sure because she had read it in one of her magazines. He remembers her insisting it could be important.

Now Sylar dismisses it as ludicrous because women dye their hair all the time when pregnant and Claire's body filters out anything that could harm the baby anyway, they've seen it repeatedly in the last several months.

He doesn't dissect why he thought about it in the first place.

Later, when she finishes cooking and sits to eat, she cuts her sausage into pieces with the fork she carries in her bag, opens the yolk of her egg until the yellow runs across the plate. The hash brown is broken apart and then she opens the bottle of syrup, pours it right on top of her food and starts shoveling forkfuls of the mess into her mouth, chewing so violently that he can see the food in her mouth.

It's the most disgusting thing he's ever seen.

He looks away, stomach flopping, and spots the hair dye sitting on the counter.

"There's toxins in that."

The chewing beside him stops for a moment before: "I'm not going to drink it."

Sylar says nothing else, and Claire goes back to her food.


Twelve months after the incident, her hair still falls darkened around her face and she looks like she never had a child, no sign of the changes that her body had gone through beyond the fact that the curves of her body have adjusted.

When she first comes up with it, he dismisses it.

Claire has initiative, motivation, is good at propelling herself forward. But she doesn't think the way he does, she can't, she thinks of the whole she wants to change instead of the parts that can be used to change the whole. She ignores his dismissal, fingers light against the keys of her laptop as the baby stares up at her from where he's nursing.

It's something that Sylar is startled by, the way his eyes are always wide open and watching.

"I'm doing this."

Half through a cup of the tea that Claire makes disgusted faces at (she whines how she can't have coffee now every morning), he watches small fingers open and then close against the swell of her breast and doesn't offer a comment. He knows that she's going to get her way, is already smoothing out the weak spots in her plan— but her pride is only eclipsed by his ego and both are acting up now.

Claire taps a finger against a key in a final kind of way, pushes the computer away.

"It's done," she tells him needlessly.

He holds his tongue because he knows it irritates her when he doesn't just admit defeat the way she wants.

Now her eyebrows come down like always and he smirks into the mug, hearing the huff of breath when she rolls Noah onto his stomach, rubs easy circles across his back even as wide eyes settle on Sylar with an impossible focus.

"I'm going to spoil him."

"You won't," he says after a moment, pinned down by the stare from the bed. "That'll be her job."

Claire glances at him from under escaped strands of dark hair, and says nothing.


When Noah's five, after they've been hastily reunited and before his parents share a flash of inspiration on how to handle the President, he's obsessed with breakfast as they travel. Noah wants his eggs scrambled and his waffles heavy with butter and grape jelly, wants bacon and sausage and chocolate milk.

Claire has enough connections and Sylar enough power that they can accommodate him.

As Noah opens the yolk on his egg and mashes his sausage into bits, mixes it all together, Sylar watches the road outside and listens to Claire dial numbers into her phone. Under the table, he can feel her foot against his calf, drifting up and down when she bounces it between messages to a teenage boy in New Orleans.

There's a nudge against his ribs.

When he glances down, brown eyes are focused intently on the syrup beyond his reach.

"No," Claire says without looking up from her food, reaching out to pull the syrup closer to her, wrapping fingers around the handle in a refusal to let him have it. "You already have jelly on the waffle, that's enough."

Sylar is nudged again, finds Noah staring up at him hopefully as Claire repeats "no" more firmly.

A minute ticks by, Noah gripping his fork tightly, looking desperate.

When Sylar reaches to grab the syrup, Claire tightens her grip on it, jaw clenched and eyes narrowed, no longer afraid of being the bad guy. Her hair is finally blonde again, last traces of the dark coloring fading away, and strands escape from her ponytail, frame a face that's somehow harder than his.

Government face.

A jerk of his wrist and he has it, ignoring Claire's chilly look as he drips syrup onto their son's plate.

When Noah is satisfied and joyfully shoveling food into his mouth, Sylar gives the syrup back with a dismissive smile, resettles and turns his attention back to the road. After a minute, a foot drifts back and forth along his calf.

-

07/18/09