fic: 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.)