Title: We Are So Fragile.
Pairings or Characters: Peter/Claire.
Warnings: Spoilers for 3x02, incest, one instance of swearing.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything and I certainly don't own this.
Summary: Peter Petrelli hates Claire Bennet..
Notes: Written for pairechallenge. Title from Ingrid Michaelson's Breakable - I'm not entirely sure why, I've been listening to her a lot recently.
Recorded as a podfic by twasadark here.
Peter Petrelli hates Claire Bennet. He's destined to hate her because he's been cursed to love her.
And he'd like to think of it like that, you know? That some black eyed, scraggly haired witch has laid a curse on the two of them, and somewhere there's a scroll or a book or crystal ball that will show him the path he has to take on his quest, and that at end of the rainbow instead of a pot of gold, there'll be a birth certificate: Claire Bennet (father NOT Nathan Petrelli).
(He's mixing his metaphors.)
Pretty blonde girls are never evil. They just aren't. Glinda was blonde, and the Wicked Witch of the West was green and ugly.
And Claire's pretty – the prettiest girl he's ever seen.
And there's a gun in her hand. She'll do it, he's knows that; he sees the thought and feeling and intent crystallised in her mind.
(Claire's not blonde any more.)
His quest pits him against monsters who breathe fire and demons who devour fear, and Peter feels himself change, feels the dragon ridges slide down in his spine, feels his skin pucker and break open and weep for the boy he used to be.
But a glamour has been cast over him, because the mirror shows his face smooth and unlined, his body lean and finely muscled, and when he shatters it into dozens of pieces beneath his knuckles, it throws his face into a disarray of incoherent sharp edges, but his skin remains unmarked.
(That's seven years bad luck.)
She's his princess in a tower, and he'd like to think that a moustache twirling bad guy had locked her in there; Noah or Nathan or Bob Bishop or Sylar or his mother, but none of them did.
He did. He trapped her in there with no means of escape and no way of defending herself and no hope of him ever coming back for her.
The wrong decision, made for the right reasons. He couldn't have known. Couldn't have; he tells himself that, over and over like an incantation to make it all better.
He couldn't have known that it was true, that actions do speak louder than words ever could, and that while he'd told her he was sorry, she hadn't understood that. What she'd understood was that he'd left her in that field.
He'd thought the tower would keep her safe; that the heavy doors slammed shut by his words would hold her in, and keep others out, but he hadn't considered one thing. He hadn't considered that she might hold the key to their shared destiny.
(This isn't a fairy tale.)
The past doesn't want him. The past looks at him with his disfigured face and his cold eyes and says, we want the pretty one – we want the good one.
The future doesn't want him. The future looks at him and says, go away – don't remind us of what we are.
Claire doesn't want him. Claire looks at him and says, I told you you'd fail – you made me into this and I hate you for hating me.
And Peter wishes he wasn't this person, he wishes he could feign ignorance and be a child and take responsibility for nothing at all.
(In every way but the way it counts, he's Peter Pan.)
He doesn't come from an oil lamp, but Peter has a genie of sorts.
He doesn't like to be rubbed, either.
You've already used one of your wishes, he tells Peter amid the rubble and the falling ash that turns their clothes grey. You have two left; would you like to use them now?
He's come to Peter once a year for the last seven with this offer, and every year he's been turned away, and every year Peter's resolve has gained a new crack, spreading outward from the centre, threatening to splinter him irrevocably into pieces.
Under his foot, the dry hand of someone who has had all the moisture sucked from their body explodes into dust, a gold wedding band pinging away and glinting in the light of the traitorous sun. His resolve crumbles with it, mixing together with the dust and ash of the dead until not a soul – not even Peter, the most powerful man on earth – could separate them out again.
You must want it, the genie says. You did not want it before, that is why it did not work. Your body, your mind must want it, or you shall forever reject it.
Brown eyes follow him as his jaw spasms and his muscles clench, and his heart screams that this is what he wants, this is everything he wants, the only thing he wants, but he can't move himself to speech.
The genie hears his unspoken words. One for you, and one for her. No more. No one else.
Peter nods, shuts his eyes, feels a cool hand on his forehead and--
(Where was he? Peter can't quite seem to remember.)
Peter loves Claire. He thinks it might be destiny, because when he woke up in that field hospital and they told him that a war he had no recollection of was over, her name was on his lips, and the nurse asked him if she was his girlfriend and he didn't know, but he thought she might be.
And when they let him out of bed, he explored the makeshift hospital, sneaking into the girls' wing, separated from the men by a dirty sheet hung from a series of metal poles dug into the ground, and it felt kind of like spying on girls as a child – but he wasn't sure, because he didn't remember his childhood all that well, and the nurse had said that it was the concussion that had done it and that he'd probably get his memories back, but he wasn't really very worried about that.
Because there she was, sitting with her knees drawn to her chest on a rusty cot, dressed in dirty grey sweatpants and a t-shirt, her hair dark at the ends and blonde at the roots. She turned her head towards him even though he was sure he hadn't made a sound, and her perfect pink lips dropped into an 'o' shape, and before he knew it, he was sitting on her bed, fingertips dancing over her cheeks and jaw and nose, mapping out the lines of her face, ignoring the protests of the matron.
“Claire?” he whispered, as a hand closed around his shoulder to pull him away.
Yes, he thought, yes, I'm Peter, I'm your Peter. He said, “I love you.”
“I love you too!” she yelled as they marched him back to his bed, unable to wipe the grin off his face.
Now they're building everything from scratch; them, the government formed after the treaty was signed, after someone important decided that the best thing to do was to split America straight down the middle – normals on one side, freaks on the other.
“Like the goddamn fucking Berlin Wall,” the angry guy in the prefab next to Peter mutters as he gets his daily ration of water, but Peter doesn't catch the reference, so he just shrugs and smiles.
Peter doesn't care about Berlin, whatever that is, or about what those guys with deep voices say on the radio, and he doesn't join those late night meetings that Angry Guy Next Door goes to, even though everyone says he's the most powerful among them.
All he cares about is flying to Claire's prefab at night, tapping his fingers against the glass and her letting him in.
He's going to propose to her, you know.
Her house mate knows to leave them alone when he visits. Claire ties a ribbon around her door handle, and Peter slips in under her covers, producing a tiny flame in his palm to light up their cocoon as she curls up around him.
There's shouting outside, sometimes – loud cracks and brief bursts of light, and one day Angry Guy is gone, a little old lady taking his place, setting out potted plants in all the colours of the rainbow on the windowsills.
“They're pretty,” Claire says, holding his hand.
“You're pretty,” he replies, and she blushes pink, poking him in the ribs and wrapping an arm around his waist.
The brown is almost gone from her hair now. The blonde shines in the midday sun.
(She says yes, by the way.)
Uh... it was super adorable? I especially enjoyed the part where the puppies and kittens frolicked together in the meadow.
(OUR AWESOMENESS CANNOT BE DENIED. Good choice to slowly and subliminally introduce the general population to it. We don't want to shock them with too much, too soon.)
(Also? Please never use "duh" on me again. I WILL CUT YOU. *sharpens knife*)
I thought the puppies might have been overkill, but the meadow really pulled it all together, I think. (Uh, but seriously, the general response to this has been 'awww', and THIS WAS NOT MY INTENTION.)
(No, it wouldn't do to scare the future minions away.)
(I SENSE THAT YOU HAVE PAST TRAUMA.)
Oh, the meadow definitely sold it. Especially the paragraphs you dedicated to describing the way the butterflies fluttered through the thousands of daisies. (I'll admit that towards the end with the introduction of the genie and wishes and possible alternate realities I was scratching my head but I definitely didn't get "aww" before it. More of past reminders of a better time contrasted with the fucked-upness that is Peter's now. Naivety and hope turning into cynicism and resignation and all that jazz. The first line of this fic should kill any happy feelings. And if that doesn't work then the way you killed fairytale cliches should have.)
(Brainwashing is a tricky thing.)
(I JUST HATE THE WORD. ESPECIALLY WHEN PEOPLE USE IT TOWARDS ME. BUT SINCE THAT WAS YOUR FIRST TIME YOU GET A FREE PASS. YOU'VE BEEN WARNED THOUGH. I WILL KICK YOUR ASS IN THE FUTURE.)
(Hm, there aren't supposed to be alternate realities. And the genie is supposed to be the Haitian, and Peter just views it that way as he becomes increasingly disconnected from reality. Huh, metaphors are hard to write. D: And yeah, the fairy tale killing should stop any of those icky happy feelings people insist on having. Peter and Claire get their happy ending but at the cost of everyone else.)
(Indeed. I'm taking an online course.)
(THANK YOU FOR BEING SO FORGIVING. SOMETIMES I JUST HAVE TO THREATENED IN ORDER TO LEARN THINGS.)
(The Haitian! *facepalm* I totally get that now. I knew it wasn't an actual genie but I couldn't think of an established character for the life of me. The hand on the forehead totally should have clued me in. YES, I'M DENSE BUT I ALSO BLAME IT ON THE FACT THAT I HAVEN'T SLEPT IN TWENTY FOUR HOURS.)
(I'm currently attending the Evil University of EVIL. Those bad guys sure don't know much about originality.)
(CAN I ORDER YOU TO WRITE MORE FIC? YOU CAN LEARN THAT FANDOM IS BETTER THAN REAL LIFE.)
(Yay, I didn't fail as a writer. AND I CAN'T BELIEVE I'M GOING TO SAY THIS, BUT WHY ARE YOU UP EPIC COMMENT THREADING WITH ME WHEN YOU SHOULD BE SLEEPING?)
(Damnit, you always have to go one better than me, don't you? Well, I'm studying politics - what says instant evil better than that?)
(YOU CAN POKE ME ABOUT KEEPING TO MY 'WRITE A ONESHOT AFTER EACH EPISODE' THING IF YOU LIKE. I'M HOPING FOR MOLLY OR MATT FIC.)
(WHY DO YOU SPEAK SUCH BLASPHEMOUS THINGS? AND I REALLY HAVE NO CLUE WHY I'M STILL UP. IT'S ALMOST TWO SO I COULD GET SOME SLEEP IN BEFORE PRIME TIME STARTS BUT I MAY JUST TRY STICKING IT OUT.)
(Running over the puppies that are frolicking through the meadow? Maiming animals instantly make you evil.)
(I HAVE A GOAL IN LIFE!)
(And where the hell does your icon come from? I can't place it.)
Okay, FINALLY getting around to tell you that I LOVE YOU. This fic, and several of your other recent ones, have just made my jaw drop in awe. Not only are you a fantastic writer but your sheer ideas are so original and fascinating and "damn, I wish I'd thought of that!" Lol.
I cannot wait to see what else you've got in that eccentrically wonderful head of yours, because I get excited everytime I see you post! =)
(Wait for it...)
Lol. The ending, in many ways, is adorable. And now that I get that it was The Haitian who is the genie, I understand it. It reminds me of the Paire chapter in the graphic novel, "Resistance", and the way that Peter said that he wouldn't make her forget again. Anyway, I like that you used that to give them a happy ending. And their part was, of course, so cute. His initial reaction to her was adorable.
The rest of it was very cynical and angsty though. I liked it too. Especially the end where, like you said, their happy ending came at the cost of everyone else. It's like "Tristan and Isolde", only he chose them instead of the greater good (eventually). The whole part of the US being split down the middle with specials on one side and nons on the other is scarily good. Given world history, and American, it's more than feasible and it's also frightening.
Oh, and the part of Peter locking Claire in the tower was really good. He was trying so hard to do what was right there, but he definitely spurned her on towards becoming the Future Her from his world in that scene. And the first part was great too. I'm in denial too, just like him. And I really liked the "Peter Pan" section (XD) because it's so true, and so sad. Well done.
Great fic! Thanks for sharing. :)