This has been sitting with three sentences finished on my hard drive since last year. In the process of my procrastinating about packing, I discovered it.
A lot has happened in a year. I completed my first year of college, and also made the decision to transfer. I'm another year older and another year more tired, and my writing style is nearly unrecognizable. I'm another year more developed and another year closer to realizing what I want from life, and writing and creating is it. With that in mind, it didn't quite seem right to leave this where I left it.
This was always more or less meant to be the last chapter. I had more ideas, but the plot line is tired, and I'm sure you as my readers are just as frustrated with my absence as I have been with my inability to make sense of my own brain. All things considered, this is everything and then some of what I was going to end up butchering in countless more chapters. I decided that it was time to let Claire and Gabriel have some rest. They sure deserve it after what I've put them through.
After this, I've got some summer projects in mind, including a Nuzlocke comic, some original writing and developing of my books, which have been my real babies since before 2007, when I opened this account. By no means am I closing this down, nor does it mean I'm going to stop writing fanfiction—it just means that I have a lot of things that I want to share my time between. I'm also trying to find a job and figure out what the hell I'm doing.
By all means, though, I am so, so thankful for you guys. You've put up with me through it all, through surgery and graduation and my first year of college, which was a year-long absence. You've left kind, constructive reviews that have helped me grow so much, and every single one was read and appreciated, even if I wasn't able to reply. Believe me when I say that I really, really love you guys. I write for my own enjoyment, but I get so much out of knowing that people like you read this, too. I love knowing that my crazy ideas and elaborate, stupid headcanons about everything under the sun can be considered by people like you, and who even give their opinions on my drivel, taking time out of your already busy days to leave comments on some anonymous authoress' writing made from other peoples' characters.
If you ever want to chat me up, my Tumblr is wide open, and if any of you are interested in whatever else I may or may not be working on (including my books, which are a long time in coming, but keep growing as I grow), catch me there. I love to talk to you guys, really. Seriously. I love it.
tl;dr, thanks guys.
Without further ado, I present the final ( FINAL ) chapter of Lie to Me.
Post 4x18— "Brave New World"
Once Gabriel had taken hold of Noah, the baby seemed unwilling to be taken away—which was probably a good thing, as the man seemed utterly unable to let him go. Rene had relaxed only slightly as he watched Gabriel hold the boy that was just as much his own son. However, Gabriel's wide-eyed, sincere adoration for the boy seemed to reassure him slightly, if nothing else.
Claire wasn't bothered that she hadn't gotten to hold Noah for terribly long—she knew that the bonding between father and son took precedence, and that if all went well, she would have more than enough time to hold Noah later. For now, she was content to watch the blatantly awed expression of her partner as their son's curious hands discovered about this new, unfamiliar person, tugging his hair and shirt and earlobe and gumming at Gabriel's shoulder.
She kept an eye on her overenthusiastic uncle, who attempted to be sneaky about the ridiculous faces he was making at the baby from behind Gabriel's back, making Noah giggle with glee and Claire fondly shake her head, her lips curling upward more than she thought possible.
Angela had been right about one thing, at least—once Noah had arrived, it seemed that no one was interested in speaking of anything else. It was good that they had hashed out most of the plan already, even though some parts were shaky—Claire was sure she could handle any sudden twists, and if someone showed up from the future and shot her (Angela insisted vehemently that she would be just fine), well, she would survive.
For now, she had barely an hour to spend with her family before things either fell apart or fell together.
"Alright, well, let's at least move into the living room if we're going to have Noah here," Claire insisted, nudging each of them away from the table and toward the couches, picking up the mugs they left behind and putting them into the sink. She smiled wryly at the arrangement—Peter and Gabriel sitting close together on the couch, Angela sitting off to one side in an armchair. Bennet was sitting in the chair closest to Gabriel and Noah, not close enough to imply that he was comfortable, but close enough that he wasn't far from his miniature namesake, Lauren standing close behind him, her hands resting on his shoulders. Rene sat directly across from the rest, posture impeccably straight, the only outward sign of his remaining tension. Claire caught his eye and gave him a reassuring smile, sitting on the arm of the couch on Gabriel's other side, her fingers drifting across the arch of her partner's shoulder and brushing against the tiny fingers of her baby, gripping with surprising strength to Gabriel's shirt.
She hated to break the calm so soon, but she knew it needed to be done. "We'll have to go soon," Claire said with deceptive calm. Inside, she was uncertain and anxious about her new introduction to the world, only minutes away. "We should get there early, right?"
"What, are you kidding?" Peter asked in surprise, looking up to give Claire an incredulous look. His expression was still open and pleased from Noah Jr's proximity, but his gaze was intense. "And give them more time to pester you before the conference even starts? No way, Claire. If anything, you get there late, if only to make sure that once you hit the podium, you can start immediately and not forget what you need to say."
Gabriel shot Peter a distracted glance, barely able to tear his eyes from his son, but it was enough that Claire could see his comprehension. "To make it even more clear that she doesn't have to be there, and that her information is doing them a favor."
"Impressive," Lauren agreed. Noah Sr. looked up and gave her a thin smile—as Company agents, they had handled the press more time than they cared to remember, even if the fodder for the masses was usually anything but the truth. "You're very knowledgable about the thought process of the public, boys."
"Yeah, well, spend any amount of time digging through the thoughts of the public, and you'd get the idea pretty quickly, yourself," Peter replied with a grin. With that, his weight shifted back toward Noah and his whole demeanor seemed to brighten, back to making goofy faces and being the goober that Claire knew and loved, instead of this strange shadow of Nathan that she'd never met.
"Peter is very quick on the uptake, as is Gabriel," Angela cut in, more than willing to carry on a conversation that didn't include cooing and babbling at the infant across the room. Rene seemed very much like he was paying attention, but Claire saw as well as Gabriel did that Rene's dark eyes made frequent, shrewd glances between father and son.
Claire slid into place beside her—mate, she supposed—drawing his immediate attention. The brown eyes she had come to love regarded her with a whole new level of awe; once, it was a look of appreciation and compassion at her very presence. Now, though, it had evolved into something very primally male, regarding her with a silent promise to cherish and protect her, nor only as the woman he loved, but as the mother of the child he never expected to have.
She saw that same promise, then, when Gabriel looked from Claire to the child in his arms. Even still, he was stunned by the realization that, for once, this reflection of something infinitely precious and beautiful was something he had helped to make, instead of destroy.
When he leaned closer, his forehead pressing against hers and his eyes closing in true, perfect contentment, surrounded by the family they had somehow made, Claire was more than happy to join him for a just a few seconds of the calm before the storm.
It wasn't really much of a plan, when Claire thought back about it. There was so much discussion about the ifs and maybes of the situation that she was practically expecting to be shot or mugged or chased by an angry mob.
In reality, the press conference went something along the lines of this:
Claire arrived five minutes late to the conference, the entire, still-destroyed area of Central Park packed absolutely full of reporters, and the cameras started flashing when she hit the block. Claire was flanked by Gabriel and Peter, who the press assumed to be her bodyguards, of some sort.
For the moment, she had let them assume.
Claire climbed up onto a portable stage and faced the masses from behind a podium, clothed in a button-up blouse and dark denim, hair in a clean, simple bun that Angela had approved of, and started to speak into the multitude of microphones.
She started with her name, and then she told her story.
Well, the short, edited version, anyway.
In the end, she had said that she was a college co-ed, and that she had discovered her ability to heal when she was sixteen. The people below didn't understand, not really—they considered her to be a medical miracle.
They didn't realize that Claire's healing was one of a multitude of abilities. This was rectified swiftly when an eager reporter nearly hit Claire with a boom microphone, and the next thing they all knew, it was floating ten feet in the air, apparently of its own free will.
The screaming had hurt her ears, but Claire hadn't budged.
The subsequent calm explanation from her was taken much better than Claire had expected, though she had a sneaking suspicion that Gabriel and Peter were using that subtle ability to influence the emotions of the reporters around them. When questions were shouted out in alarm, she remained calm. The reporters, at the very least, kept themselves in control, because if a nineteen-year-old college co-ed could, then why couldn't they?
When Claire's legs got tired nearly three hours in, the invited the reporters to sit as she answered their questions, a huge crowd of smartly-dressed professionals all riveted on one petite young woman. Another hour later, when her stomach let out a complaint loud enough that it was heard by everyone present, she laughed and excused herself with a surprisingly little amount of fuss, with a promise to countless reporters that yes, in fact, she would give them interviews, and yes, if they sent questions to her newly-created-and-Company-monitored email address, she would answer them as best she could.
No one tried to shoot her, and no one ever knew that, half a city away, where a Haitian man and his wife fussed over an infant, Claire could have told them all the exact color of the baby's eyes.
Time passed quickly after that.
Three days in, Claire had entire fan blogs dedicated to her, as well as speculation about the other "Anomalies", as the world had taken to calling them.
A week in, she'd also amassed enough people who thought she was an abomination that they tried to pass a law against her... personally. Thousands were disappointed when the legislation fell through a month later, but no one dared to doubt the President when he informed them all that Claire had very personally saved his life a few years ago. That he couldn't identify the person who had attacked him in the first place, well, he was an older man and it must have just slipped his mind.
Four months from the conference, a photo was captured of Claire holding hands with a tall man wearing a sweatshirt as they walked back from a long day at the beach. Speculation was wild until Claire put an end to it all, informing the world via Twitter in a 'shocking' confession that said, "Save the date! #hesaidyes". In days, magazines had discovered Gabriel's identity (though neither would ever really know how, though they suspected Angela had something to do with it), and the silly moniker Clariel became the talk of everyone between eight and eighty.
The wedding was never public, much to Claire's fans' eternal disappointment. However, one photo was released a year later, featuring Claire in an elegant gown (Simply classic, Angela had said) and Gabriel in a suit, faces splitting with smiles and rings gleaming on their fingers as they held a small, sandy-haired toddler between them.
Personal lives aside, leaps and bounds were made toward Anomaly Equality, which was both a slogan and a movement that set fire to the world. Peter Petrelli and his wife, Emma Petrelli, expanded internationally, providing jobs, references, and doing well-funded research for those considered to be Anomalies, and no one was particularly surprised when he returned home and years later became the second Senator Petrelli.
Sometimes it was still extraordinarily difficult, though. With new abilities and more Anomalies being born every day, it was a nightmare to keep track of who was who and did what. New groups of radicals called for complete segregation, some even demanding execution of the Anomalies, and not only those who were dangerous. An entirely new justice system had to be developed in complete secrecy, specialized agents trained to handle those criminals that were considered "unconventional". However, things became less strained when a man named Matthew Parkman became the Secretary of Defense. The people had confidence in him, you see—because even the younger folks knew that no one could pull the wool over the eyes of Parkman.
Claire and Gabriel Gray travelled for a while, a sandy-haired boy in tow as they explored little-known areas and discovered the secrets of the modern world. Noah developed very quickly once he had Gabriel to keep him on his toes, the father always posing questions and riddles and challenged for his son that even Claire could sometimes not decipher. Father and son grew close over time, but to Gabriel's bittersweet amusement, he could never quite sway (though he never quite tried) Noah from referring to Rene as Papa. It was lucky, then, that Rene and Annalise's young daughter, Giselle, very much liked the idea of an older brother. Noah, Giselle, and Nathan (only a few years younger than Noah himself, and who kept Peter on his toes) wreaked havoc as a very fearsome triad of teething, language barriers and Early Onset Abilities.
When a well-researched and well-written book called What to Expect When You're Expecting An Anomaly was released, Peter, Gabriel and Rene all grudgingly (but good-naturedly) admitted that Emma, Claire, and Annalise's time "neglecting them", as they claimed, was well-spent. They doubled back on these gracious proclamations when each of the women revealed in a very similar timeframe that secondary offspring were expected.
As it turned out, Noah Sr.'s tenacity in tracking criminals also translated well to tracking down half-chewed vegetables, even when they managed to find their way under the fridge. He did love his granddaughter Meredith, after all. Antoine and Claude weren't half bad either, really.
For lives that had been so complicated, they wound down in a surprisingly smooth manner, and with time, Claire and Gabriel graciously stepped aside to make way for their children, Peter and Emma and Rene and Annalise following their example with poise. Their children were all very gifted, but no one gift was greater than the gift of peace that they brought to the world together.
Watching their friends and children age was strange to both Gabriel and Claire, but they were both—all—still young. In this day and age, who could even tell how long normal humans could live, anyway? For now, they were content to watch the world change from their own backyards, lounging around the pool and the grass from Costa Verde, California, family and friends all close and together.
Gabriel turned to Claire, who sat close to him on the porch swing, with a small, satisfied smile. "Are you happy?"
Claire gave him a long, lingering look with green eyes glowing from the sunset, and leaned into his side with a quiet sigh and a twist of her lips. "Absolutely not."
The itch at the back of his mind made his smile grow tenfold as he processed her little white lie.
She was happy, she loved him, and she was as much his as he was hers.
For now (and forever), that's what mattered.