Fandom: Heroes, after episode 207: Out of Time.
Word Count: 1003 words
Summary: Claire and West have different ways of dealing with adversity...
Author's Notes: A birthday ficlet for ksarasara. Her prompt: "Claire and West talk about their powers and stuff." After the way the last episode ended, I had to take this a little different direction than I had originally intended. Hope you like it! Thanks to van_el and sean_montgomery for the beta, and jadeblood for the wonderful story banner!
Claire sighed tiredly. Ahead of her, she could see the tall steel letters and the scaffolding which held them in place, with the lights of Los Angeles beyond... but the security fence only inches from her face prevented her from getting any closer. She had switched buses several times between Costa Verde and the Hollywood sign, and even shelled out a little extra cash to get a taxi to take her as close as possible. She had walked all the way up, only to be stopped short of her goal. Her feet hurt - her healing power didn't protect her from exhaustion - and her jacket wasn't doing much to cut the wind on the top of the hill, either. I didn't even notice the fences the last time we were here... Of course, when your boyfriend could fly, why would you notice?
After the blowout she had with her father tonight over West, she had locked her bedroom door. She hoped that he felt guilty enough not to check on her until morning. But she couldn't count on it - she half-expected the house to be packed up by the time she got home, no matter how much she refused to leave. And once he found her gone, he certainly had the resources to find her...
Claire shivered and pondered the fence again. She could probably climb it, since she would heal from any injury, but the signs posted along its length warned of a high-tech security system as well. Well, this was as close as she was going to get. She pulled her cell phone out of her jacket pocket, checking her text messages one more time. No new messages. She opened a new text window: At the sign now. Just me. If you really meant you never wanted to see me hurt...
Bending slowly, Claire settled herself cross-legged on the ground to wait. She couldn't leave things the way they had, not without an explanation of why she had kept her father's identity a secret. Besides, wasn't West the one who had been trying to get her to trust him? she thought angrily. He had taken off, literally, at the first sign of trouble, just like her biological fa--
"I did mean it, Claire." West's voice floated down from above, his smooth tenor laced with fear and pain.
Claire stood quickly, looking up at his backlit form, hovering at least 20 feet in the air. "Did you? Or maybe a better question is - do you anymore?"
He flew nearer, but still out of reach. "I love you, Claire... but when I saw that man - your father? - in your house, what was I supposed to do?"
"Oh, I don't know..." she began, unable to keep the hint of sarcasm out of her voice, "...maybe something other than fly off 'faster than a speeding bullet.' You could have let me explain."
Even from this distance, she could see him flinch. "But, he's the one who took me, Claire. The man who gave me this mark." He touched his right shoulder briefly, where the two thin black lines were tattooed on his skin. "What explanation could there be? Are you telling me that he isn't the man who abducted me?"
"No, he is..." West's breath caught, echoing in the air. He hadn't expected her to admit it. "But he's not. The man who abducted you was the man my father used to be. When he worked for the Company."
"Worked? As in, he doesn't anymore?" he asked, hope warring with disbelief in his tone. "How do you know he's not lying to you?"
She stepped closer. "I don't. But my dad has always done everything he could to protect me. That's why we're here, West - we're in hiding from the Company. He's so afraid they'll find us that he forbade me to date, you know."
West drifted downward just a few feet - she could almost see his face. "So when you said your dad was overprotective..."
"I wasn't kidding." A flash of annoyance filled her suddenly. "Besides, it was you who pursued me, West, not the other way around. I mean, for godssakes, you were in my kitchen making me waffles only this morning."
"I know. I did. But that was before..."
"Before you really knew what you were getting into?"
He didn't answer, hovering there silently. She just wanted to reach out and take his hand, to let him know that he was safe with her, the way she had felt safe in his arms when they went soaring over the L.A. skyline. But she was beginning to see that he was a lot more fragile than he looked... a scared bird, afraid of getting his wings clipped. He loved to fly free, but put him in a cage...
She tried a different tack. "You know, it's funny... my dad wanted us to pack up and move immediately as soon as he found out about you. He was sure you were dangerous, and would lead the Company straight to our door."
"He did?" West asked in a quiet voice.
"And I told him no. I'm not going anywhere, West. I've survived a lot worse than just a boyfriend with a few, um, stalkerish tendencies."
He laughed, but added seriously, "Not all of us are invincible, Claire."
"And not all of us can touch the stars." Claire extended a gentle hand toward him. "But come down to earth. You were right before, West, we've got to stand together... or it'll be too easy to pick us off one by one."
Finally, West stood before her, still clearly frightened. The tension between them snapped and they fell into each other's arms, holding on tightly. "Oh, Claire, I'm sorry..." he murmured.
"I'm sorry, too, I should have told you, but I was afraid you'd... well, what you did."
"I promise..." He pulled back to look into her eyes. "Next time I fly away, you'll be right here in my arms."
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