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It starts when they let Peter out. Claire is there, flinging herself into him and crying into his neck a little, and he hasn’t been in long at all, not long enough to justify this reaction and she’s only seventeen and Jesus.

But actually, it really starts when he’s still in prison. Nathan’s already been to visit, to chastise, and his mother, whispers about the campaign. Peter’s half-hatched some plan involving flying out of there, but of course Nathan won’t go for it and it’s full of holes anyway.

He thinks it’s Wednesday when the guards call him out of the exercise yard but it’s not Peter, and as soon as Claire sees him she bursts into tears. He picks up the phone and her sobs sound tinny through it, like a transatlantic phone call. “Hey, hey, it’s okay,” he hears himself saying, “It’s okay, I’m okay, it’s not the important thing.”

“But-but-but I let them take you! My dad, I wanted to go back but he said you’d be okay, I didn’t know the cops would take you, I didn’t know they had but it was in the paper, your picture and name and everything, and then he wouldn’t let me come visit you and Mama wouldn’t even help me, and Zach doesn’t have a car. So I came as soon as I could, you have to believe me.”

The tears are stopping now. She looks so out of place, this bright blonde girl with her glowing tear-streaked face in her jacket—what color is that? It’s some kind of blue, more green than purple, light but not pastel. Isaac could paint it, he thinks, incongruously. She’s so small with her bright colors in the vast grayness of the visitors’ area.

“I do,” he says. “I do.” He doesn’t even know who Zach is. “Did they catch that guy?”

“No,” she says. “I don’t know. Maybe. My dad… I told him about my thing. But I think he knows more than he’s telling me.” She looks away, almost shy but also determined.

Belatedly he realizes she’s waiting, for his approval maybe. “Yeah. Yeah,” he says, “that’s good. We gotta figure out what’s going on. And I… can’t figure much in here.” Which may be the wrong thing to say. The corners of Claire’s mouth tug down. “No, no, hey. This thing,” he starts, “is bigger than any one of us. This Japanese guy with a sword came to me from the future while I was riding the subway in New York City and told me I had to save you and that would save the world. There’s this guy who can paint the future. He painted your dance; that’s how I knew to be here. So don’t blame yourself for letting them take me. They would have taken me eventually—they have to take statements. They took your statement, didn’t they? Can you imagine that? ‘Why were you there in the first place, sir?’ ‘Well, I knew I had to save Claire because a Japanese man came back from the future and told me so, and I knew where and when because of a painting a heroin addict painted several weeks ago.’ But there are more of us—more people like us, I mean.”

Claire is smiling, slightly. “You’re like me? You—can’t die?”

“No. I… There are more people, with different powers. This guy, Isaac, he paints the future when he’s high. And my brother, Nathan, can fly, but he’s running for Congress so he doesn’t want anyone to know. And Hiro, the Japanese guy, he bends space and time. And there’s you. I… pick up on other people’s powers. But on my own, I’m not really anything. I can’t do anything. You saved me, Claire. If you hadn’t come over there right after I fell, I would have been dead. In the painting I was dead. So thank you.”

“Just returning a favor.” She grins a little shyly, eyes downcast. Is she flirting? Does she know? Peter remembers seventeen all too well, but damn if this girl isn’t something special, even more than Simone, even more than anyone. “But yeah, I knew all those things were possible. My friend got me this book—Activating Evolution. By… some Indian guy.”

Peter grins. “Yeah, I read that. Oh, hey! That Indian guy? He died recently, but his son was in Manhattan awhile ago. Mohinder Suresh. I think he left, but if you can track him down… he might want to know about this. I don’t think he took me very seriously because Hiro visited me right while we were on the subway, and he stopped time when he did it, so I looked a little crazy. But if you tell him about healing, and then you tell him about that guy who tried to kill you, and then you mention me and Hiro… you might hook him. And maybe he’ll know something.”

“All right. Hey, um—how do you spell that name?” From her purse she retrieves a little pink pad of post-its and a pen topped with a fluffy pink feather thing, like freaking Elle Woods from Legally Blonde, and copies it down.

She tucks everything back in her purse and replaces it by her feet. Then she just sort of looks at him. “So…”

“So?”

“So it was nice to meet you, Peter Petrelli.”

“It was nice to meet you, too, Claire…”

“Claire Bennet.”

“It was nice to meet you too, Claire Bennet.”

And she puts her hand up to the glass and he puts his there, too, mirroring hers. And then she starts to crack up a little, giggles escaping out of her mouth, effervescent, like bubbles escaping off the top of a soft drink. “What?” he asks.

“It’s just… so corny. The hand thing. Like a movie.”

He grins, too.

But she still hasn’t moved her hand.

And that’s when he thinks this might be something.


And then there is now, the world gone and Sylar a blur beyond the edges of this room, and no problem but this:

Peter has been kissing the same spot on Claire’s neck for well over ten minutes now, biting, licking, sucking. One hand holds her head gently, rests next to it on the pillow, his forearm supporting his weight; the other moves down to her hip, then up her ribcage, under her shirt to toy with a breast, back to her hip. She’s writhing under him, rocking up against him. And finally, “Peter. Peter, oh—what are you doing?”

“Trying to leave a mark. I want to give you a hickey, Claire. But you keep healing. I want you to remember. I want you to know you’re mine.” And she rocks up against him and is gone, one desperate moan, shaking. He doesn’t stop.

And then, breathily, “But you know… as long as you’re here with me, I probably can’t leave a mark on you either.”

“Well, damn. It appears, Claire, that we are at an impasse.”

They share a grin.
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