Claire Bennet was sitting on a bench at the Car Rental, tapping her fingers gently on the cool metal. She sighed in unison with the man standing beside her.

Ted Sprague. The man who had almost killed her and her family only a few days earlier. She looked up at him out of the corner of her eye, and silently wished that Peter would hurry up with the car. She felt awkward being alone with him.

He looked down at her, catching her looking at him, and he gave her a puzzled look. "What?" He frowned at the young girl. "I'm not going to hurt you, you know. I-."

"I know." Claire cut him off and stared at the floor.. "You can sit down if you want to. He might be a while."

Peter had gone to pick up the rental car, and from the looks of the crowd, she knew it might take longer than a few minutes.

Ted hesitated.

"You don't have to worry about being close to me, I can't get hurt, remember?" she smiled and patted the space beside her.

"I'm not a dog, you know." He rolled his eyes and sat down on the spot she had specified. "How much longer is he going to be?"

Claire shrugged and stared at him at him as he looked at his watch, furrowing his brow in frustration. "Is my company really that bad?" she said with a laugh

"No." He looked over at her without turning his head. "Actually, I like you." He smiled weakly. "Probably hard to believe considering what I did, right? But right now you're the only person I can be with and not have to worry about hurting. Do you know what a relief that is? To be able to touch someone and not hurt them?"

Her smile faded and she looked at him. She hated how much pain he was in. He really wasn't a bad guy underneath. She imagined how hard it must to never be able to touch the people you love; be close to them. Be near them. "Well then, at least there's me, right?" She carefully laid her hand on top of his. He looked at her like she was insane, but then his expression softened. He gave a sad smile and thanked her, their fingers interlacing. "Do you miss your wife?" she asked softly.

"Every day. I miss her touch. I miss holding her while we slept.. I miss her laugh. Her smile." He looked over at Claire. "You remind me of her."

"Do I look like her?" she asked

He smiled and shook his head. " Not really. You're forgiving like she was. I killed her, but she still forgave me. You forgave me for what I did to you."

She noticed that tears were forming in the corner of his eyes and reached up to wipe them away before they fell. "I'm so sorry." She touched his face and he looked into her eyes, putting his hand on hers. "You're a good person, Ted." she smiled and leaned into him. "I know you

He could feel her heart beating as she pressed against him. He had forgotten what this felt like. Being touched. He missed it more than he thought possible. But this wasn't right.

He should have pushed her away, but instead he closed his eyes and wrapped his arms around her. He didn't care. He needed this. He needed her touch. He didn't know if this was the last time he'd ever be able to to experience this feeling again.

"We could die today, you know. I don't want that to happen," she whispered into his ear, so quietly he could barely hear her.

He pulled back and looked at her. Her face had an expression he couldn't quite grasp. Fear? He didn't understand. "You can't di-"

"I've never had a boyfriend."

Ted stopped talking.

"What if I die alone?" she looked up at him "When you were talking about your wife, I just thought how if I die, I'll never be able to experience that. Someone touching me, loving me. I want that."

"Who doesn't?" she noticed that his tone was bitter and wondered if he could be feeling like her.

"I just don't want to have any regrets."

He shut his eyes and considered what she said before carefully put his hand on her thigh. They sat there silently for a minute, as she felt the radiation from his hand spreading through her leg. "Do you know what it feels like to be lonely, Claire?"

She looked at him and her heart sank. She knew he was lonely. He had to be. Her eyes met his and they held eachothers gaze, eyes saying what words had trouble getting accross. She didn't need to answer his question because he already knew the answer.

She wanted to be loved for once. In a way her father or Peter never could. Claire looked over at Ted, the man who almost killed her and her family and closed her eyes. "I'm the only one who you can..." She exhaled and stared at the floor.

"I can touch you." He nodded in understanding, but his voice was uncertain.

There was a moment of tense silence before Claire said something that made Ted forget that it was wrong, that he shouldn't, that they were both in a state of grief.

"Can you love me?"

She said it as if it were the most basic question in the world, with a kind of innocence and warmth in her voice. Her eyes were pleading. She didn't want to die without feeling what it was like to have someone love her. Even if it wasn't real love, she wanted to be touched, to be consoled by someone who needed her just as much.

She knew he was that someone.

Ted pulled her closer and she leaned against him, lying her head on the rough flannel of his shirt. She loved how warm he felt, even if the source was less than ideal. He breathed her in and brought his hand up to gently stroke her head, as she nuzzled her face against his. They both closed their eyes and basked in the other's touch, hoping it might fill the emptiness in
their hearts, if only for those few moments. She felt his skin grow hotter as she leaned down and kissed him. She smiled into his mouth and wrapped her arms around him, her eyes still closed. His beard felt rough against her smooth skin, and the could feel her lips burning from the radiation, but the pain just made it better. She would never forget this. His touch may not
have burned into her skin, but it was burned into her memory.

"Thank you, Ted."

"This is our secret, okay?"


They smiled sadly at one another, holding hands, his touch leaving burns on her skin that healed just as quickly as they appeared. They continued to repeat this strange routine until they saw Peter approaching. They both stood up, trying to pretend nothing had happened
while he was gone.

"What took you so long?"

Claire smiled and pushed the memory of Ted's touch to the back of her mind. She knew they had more important things to worry about right now. They both did.

"The car rental guy was being an asshole, he-"

"Don't worry about it, let's just hurry and leave."

Ted interrupted Peter, already heading towards the exit. He looked over at Claire and their eyes met once more before he walked ahead of her out the door.

"So, this Sylar guy... He kills people like us?"

A/N: Takes place right before the scene where Ted gets captured by the FBI.

Comments are appreciated! Hope you enjoyed the crack, bb.