Title: Fragments of a Girl Soft and Sentimental
Rating: Adult (warning: includes non-con and some graphic violence)
Disclaimer: Do not own.
Beta: Super thanks to my awesome betas kathrynthegr8 and eeyore9990!
Summary: She's traded one prison for another. And not by choice.
The clock radio next to her bed blinks 4:36, an angry reminder that she should be asleep by now. She pulls her covers over her head. It does nothing to block out the hiss-ping of their hideout's air filtration system. Counting the system's cycles never did have the same effect as counting sheep.
She flexes her sore feet and tired calves. I'm never wearing five-inch heels on an assignment again. With the muscles tense, she imagines pouring all her frustration into them. Then with a deep breath, she relaxes them slowly. All her pain and disappointments were supposed to disappear with the tension; Mohinder had insisted. She sighs. This was just another reminder that Mohinder isn't that kind of doctor.
Twenty minutes of restless tossing and turning later, and the hallway's intercom system buzzes, startling her from the closest thing to sleep she's been able to achieve all night. This is just typical. She opens her eyes enough to watch her security detail pass her not-allowed-to-be-closed doorway to answer the phone.
Enough of this.
There's a secret way out of this place. Peter had showed it to her not long after she officially moved in. She climbs up on her desk to move the ceiling tiles. The particleboard tiles leave smudges of itchy gray dust on her fingers, but she doesn't have the time to pause and wipe them clean. She levers herself up though the hole and crawls through the sub-ceiling, to where it connects with the main heating line, before her crackerjack security team even notices she'd pulled the old pillows under the covers trick.
Works like a charm every time.
Her bare feet hit the damp grass and she's off running. Faster and faster, she tramples alongside the forest until she reaches the stream marking the edge of the property. The wind blows right in tandem with her, as if it too is urging her to escape. She can't remember the last time she felt so free.
She sinks down on the bank of the stream with a giggling sigh. The cool almost-mud is probably irrevocably staining her silky nightgown, but she couldn't care less. It's just another silly material trapping of a life she never wanted. Her feet swing and dip into the murky water in practical defiance. Alone, away from everyone's stiflingly watchful gaze, she can be Claire again. This is the way she's supposed to be.
One minute she's humming the last top forty song she can remember, and the next, a sharp, unexpected pinch in the back of the head sends her world to a fuzzy black.
She wakes up chained to a bed, in a room that's achingly familiar. Her brand new prison has black silk sheets and pale blue walls. It's got the same teak nightstand and matching roll top desk she remembers, even if they both are out of her reach. The antique Tiffany lamp stands unlit next to the dresser. It's much too close to how she remembers the room for it to be a coincidence.
She can hear her father in her head, telling her to stay calm and take inventory of the circumstances. He'd be disappointed at the wisp of fear that threads through her. Concentrate, Claire. Focus. Telling herself this works even less than Mohinder's silly exercises.
She tugs at her restraints. The handcuffs are so tight that even breaking a few small bones in her hand wouldn't free her enough to slip though them. The chain doesn't give much either and the door is too far away for her to try and open the lock. There are dust-covered spider web cracks in the half-windows high above her head. They tease her with hints of the fading sunlight of dusk. It's the only light in the small cell.
She can't focus on tactics right now. Not with the memories her prison brings rushing to the forefront. It might be missing the action figure collectible case and eighties movie posters, but there is no way of doubting what the room is modeled to look like. She had gotten her first real grown-up kiss in this room; she had gotten her first of a lot of things here.
I won't break in this room for the first time. I'm better than this.
She screams for someone to help her, for someone to let her out. But no one comes. So much for Daddy's Little Secret Agent. After days of this, weak from the lack of food and water, she even welcomes the sight of her captor. If only to summon enough strength to attack the bastard for ruining this memory for her.
His dark shadow haunts the doorway of her cell. Finally. Maybe she will learn why she was being kept here.
The unending loneliness gave her plenty of time to think of all the possible people who could be holding her. Hell, she's even listed all her suspects alphabetically and chronologically. Her father and Angela have many more enemies than friends. Maybe this is a company test; maybe Dad and Angela should be on the list.
"Why are you doing this?" she cries out to the man she can't make out. Her voice is desperate and she pulls against her chains. She tugs harder, causing the skin on her wrists to break, as he walks towards her. The rusted metal stings and the blood drip-drips down her arms. It doesn't stop him from coming close enough for her to feel his hot breath against her cheek.
The lamp light flickers on and she runs though her mental list, crossing out anyone who doesn't have telepathic powers. Well, that narrows it down.
"I want something from you and you're going to give it to me." His index finger trails down her delicate cheek and she can't stop the flinch. In the newly lit room, she can see him as clear as day. Shocked isn't nearly a strong enough word for this situation. The man standing in front of her hadn't made any of her lists.
"No." Whether she's referring to his statement or voicing her disbelief, she doesn't know. But the word keeps echoing thought her mind. No. It can't be. Never.
He just laughs. "This is my game, Claire. I wouldn't play if I knew I wasn't going to win."
His hands run down her sides in a gentle caress she isn't expecting. That kind of behavior is so far away from this kind of situation. He is looking straight into her eyes when his hands travel back up and her thin nightgown gets tugged up with the motion. She squirms at the bare feeling she's left with.
"Now, now, Claire. Play nice. It's nothing I haven't seen, after all," he drawls out. Perverse discovery lights up his eyes as he lowers a hand to the skin he just bared, but her eyes are squeezed closed and she misses his very telling expression.
"These are pretty," he purrs, fingering the edge of her lace panties. Her eyes fly open and she growls at his action. He no longer has the right to touch her there. He must know what she's thinking – well of course he does, telepath remember – because he yanks them off with her next breath. "Maybe you'll even get them back one day…If you give in, that is."
"Never," she bites out. She won't; there's too much between them now. She won't be the one to betray her side. She gives another tug at her bindings as he laughs at her again.
"We'll see." He leaves, taking the lamp with him.
Oh joy, more darkness.
She picks up the pattern of his visits after that. He's as predictable as clockwork, a quality he never seemed to master when they were sort of together.
He drops off her first meal of something that might resemble microwaved oatmeal much too early in the morning. The bed is feather soft, but she can never manage to get a good night's sleep. He unchains her with a happy smile, as if there is nothing at all wrong with this picture. His hands massage the blood back into her sore wrists in a way that never fails to make her skin crawl. She always has to bite back a retort when he does this. It's not worth the beating she'll get later.
He drops off her second meal after leaving her alone for a few hours of what he calls "meditation time". She bets he wouldn't regard those moments as fondly if he knew she's using them to plan her escape. Before her lunch is digested, he beats her for information (or maybe for pleasure, it's getting hard to tell). He only uses his powers when he beats her, not his hands. No, never his hands. She would say he's afraid to touch her, except that never accounts for how handsy he gets afterwards.
She hates that part of the day the most.
He drops off her third meal and re-chains her to the bed. It's only afterwards that he brings out a washcloth and bucket of warm water. The soap is lavender scented and he hums the rubber ducky song from Sesame Street as he washes all sorts of grime and bodily fluids from her skin. It would be an almost calming gesture, except for the fact that he pays perversely special attention to her breasts and the still-tender area between her thighs.
Between her punishments, as he likes to call it, he talks to her as if they never happened. Small talk mostly – he seems to know more random facts than most Jeopardy contestants. But sometimes, after particularly bad days, days when he can't stop himself from killing her, he recalls some of their fonder memories.
"Remember that day at the mountains, Claire?" God, she wishes she didn't.
She swears he's pumping aphrodisiacs into the room – that sick bastard – because for two days her cell has smelled slightly of chemical cleaner and ginseng tea. She can't get the memory of her their first time out of her head. Blue walls and black silk sheets, tender kisses and gentle hands, it was everything she could have ever wanted. It was a whole other lifetime ago.
She twists against her chains, careful this time not to spill any of her own blood - he's been doing enough of that for her – and presses her sticky thighs together. She hates that she's so wet, hates that he can control her like this.
Come on, Claire. Think unsexy thoughts; West flying, Lyle eating spaghetti, Angela and Arthur making out…um, unsexy, not disgusting.
This isn't working. I need…
She holds out as long as she can, primed with a hatred stronger than anything she's ever felt before. The knot of pressure at the base of her spine keeps building unbearably. And when she gives in, much later, her only saving grace is that his name no longer leaves her lips in a sweet cry as the feeling becomes too much to bear.
She can feel the sun almost burning her shoulders, the salty sea breeze wiping her hair behind her. She burrows her toes into the wet sand and only has to wait seconds before the next wave washes the particles away. She wants to bury herself in it, much like the clams she and her mother used to try to catch when she was a child.
But she's no longer a child, and sandy beaches might just be the farthest thing away from this dim little hell-hole.
The illusion is ruined. She opens her eyes at the sound of dinner, or maybe supper, she's never really been clear on that terminology, being delivered. She's getting better at this visualization thing. This last time, she almost believed the illusion she created for herself.
Opening her eyes is always the cruelest form of torture.
He's behind her this time, holding her up in a way that makes it clear she can't escape.
"Are you ready to give in?" She wishes she couldn't make out the words he had just kissed against her neck. There's a spot behind her ear that makes her purr. It takes him no time at all to find it again.
"Stop it." She's not even tied down this time, and still she can't get away. She begs him to stop, all pride flying out the window as her nightgown is yanked down over her breasts. What would her father say if he saw her now?
"You want this. I can tell. Your nipples are as hard as rocks." His fingers pinch them to prove his point.
She tries to jerk away. "It's freezing in here, asshole."
He moves in front of her, smirking like he doesn't believe it. It's such an unfamiliar expression on his face. She wants to turn her head, to close her eyes, but for some reason she can't. Fuck, the Puppet Master.
His cock is hard and throbbing in front of her and without meaning to, her hands lift up to stroke it. He must be controlling her moments; her hands move in an unfamiliar rhythm. He moans her name just like he used to and she hates herself even more.
"You want this," he whispers in her ear as he comes on her tits. Tears leak out the corners of her eyes.
She wills his words not to be true.
"What do you want from me?" she screams at the closed door. She knows he can hear her. He's probably getting some sick satisfaction over breaking her down until there is nothing left. It's one she never would have expected from him, but why else would he be doing this?
They used to be so close, best friends really. Well, until ... forget about it, those memories are better left buried. She's never been able to put together what changed. Maybe, she never really understood him at all.
She claws at the concrete walls until her fingers are bleeding again. Little tick marks, one for each day she's been held here. What little is left of the Institution, blue paint, is stained with her dried blood. Just another way she could count the passing of time, she guesses. It's either keeping her sane or driving her further into despair, she never can tell.
"Haven't you taken enough?" she yells and collapses down on the cold floor, truly and finally broken.
The answer is apparently no.
He makes her kill her father the next day. She's seen him shot before – more than once, in fact – but she's never had to do it herself before. She can't bear to look at her father as her fingers are made to curl around the cool metal of the trigger. She pulls it…once, twice, and then three times, until the man that wanted nothing more than to protect her is lying lifeless on the ground all because she wants a few moments of freedom.
"It's our six month anniversary, Claire. Don't you want to celebrate?" She glances up at him long enough to see the bottle of '95 Clos du Mesnil champagne in his hand. Idly, she remembers their first Christmas together when they stole a bottle from Nathan and shared it between sticky kisses.
He'd always preferred Dom Perignon.
The cork of this bottle bounces off the far wall, coming to a skidding stop on the floor in front of her tick marks. She doesn't look at them. Time is meaningless when he is here. She closes her eyes and plays along for now. Might as well.
She sips her champagne slowly and the bubbles tickle her nose. These sticky kisses don't feel the same – surprise, surprise – and she's weirdly ticked that he doesn't remember them.
Her eyes close behind the blindfold he ties on her. He's almost gentle this time, gracefully laying her down on the bed and pressing his pelvis into hers. She soon gets too lost in the slow-slow, quick-quick rhythm he seems to favor these days, to truly realize his hands on her breasts feel different, larger maybe.
No, that can't be right. Must be a trick of the blindfold.
And when his tongue touches hers, her stomach goes fluttery in a way that hasn't happened is such a long time. It feels like being alive again, almost like falling in love for the first time.
But she knows better than that.
This isn't love.
She tries to run, even though she knows he left her cell door unlocked for just that reason. It doesn't matter. She'll hate herself even more, if she doesn't at least try – even if she can't imagine how.
Her cell door creaks open to a creepy cement hallway. The cement floor is rough and crumbly beneath her bare feet. While her cell had been cleaned to obsessive perfection, the rest of the building is definitely showing the signs of a decade's worth of neglect and fire damage. It isn't until she reaches the end of the hallway that she notices the faded red five still mostly visible on the wall. Sick bastard. Bet he thinks this is funny, huh.
She climbs up the stairs to where she remembers the offices being. And that's when she sees it.
Oh goodness, real live sunlight. She can practically taste the fresh air on her tongue. She makes a break towards the open outer door. Finally.
She doesn't make it. He's sitting there on the stoop, waiting for her, twiddling his thumbs in a manic fashion. He shakes his head. "Don't you love me, Claire? Don't you want to be together forever?" The disappointment in his voice hurts like a punch to the stomach. The door slams shut and she's drowning in darkness once again.
No, don't fall for it. Escape.
She breaks into a sprint back down the hallway. It's a desperate move and she knows she can't actually get away, not with him a hairsbreadth behind her. She shuts herself in the first storage closet. It's going to be different this time. You're going to make it out.
Even as she's thinking this, he's wrenching open the closet door. He looks down at her like he just found his lost puppy. Why can't the floor just swallow her up?
"You always hurt the ones you love," he snarls, grabbing her by her hair and dragging her back to her cell.
She spits blood on the ground in front of his feet. It's the last defiant gesture she has in her.
He breaks her jaw for her trouble.
"Baby's done a bad, bad thing." He's practically gleeful as the candle wax drips onto her skin in pretty pearl-like splatter patterns. She hisses and tries to will the tears away. She never thought she'd miss the days when she wasn't able to feel.
"But that's ok," he says, flicking off the hardened wax with ice cold fingertips. "If you ask me nice enough, I might even forgive you."
He lays his palms over the slight roundness of her belly with a decidedly wicked glint in his eyes. "I always get what I want, Claire," he says. Fire and lightning crackle from his fingers across her skin. It only burns for a moment, and then he is leaning down to kiss the ash off. He must enjoy the taste because he does it again.
From kissing her stomach to kissing her breasts, she wants none of it – especially not the tentacles of pleasure-pain drawing her deeper and deeper down into this hell. She gives in with a moan and lets herself ride out the feeling. He comes inside her hard and dirty because he knows she won't like it. She never does. And when he pulls out, the come mixes shamefully with the blood on her thighs. She snaps them closed as soon as he lets her go.
She's flushed from exertion – both from trying to resist and from the multiple orgasms he had forced on her body – but still she tries to pull at the metal spike that was driven into her palms and holding her to the wooden headboard. The metal tears into her skin something fierce, and she can feel every cell of her body on fire.
"This can all be over," he murmurs, placing a slight kiss at the crown of her head. "All you have to do is give in."
Her response of denial is weaker than it's ever been.
"This is our destiny, Claire. You can only fight it for so long."
The next time she wakes up, she's chained to the basement wall again.
There's nothing left to do but listen to the rain patter against her subbasement window. If only it could lull her back to sleep.
She's wrapped in a blanket as threadbare as can be; the one he tucked her into bed with the night he made her kill her father. The chill from the cement seeps into her skin, making the blanket practically useless. But it used to smell like her father's cologne and the only thing that is keeping her sane right now is trying to remember those big bear hugs he used to give her as a child.
This really is hopeless. There is no one left to come and rescue her now. She waits patiently for his noontime visit. At least he never leaves her alone.
A week later, he leaves the door open again. She gets up quietly, as if not to make a sound, and walks over to it. Her hand strokes the solid wood, an almost reverent move.
And then she shuts it herself.
After that, he doesn't bother with the chains.
He finds her crumpled up in a ball, a nearly unrecognizable shell of the girl he met in the locker room all those years ago. Perfect. She winces at the footstep, wanting to be left alone, but she doesn't look up. She doesn't want to give him the satisfaction of it.
"Why is it me that's always saving you, Babydoll?" At his question, her head snaps up, eyes wide in shock.
"Sylar?" she rasps out in a voice rusty from weeks of silence. He was the absolute last person she expected to see. "Why aren't you dead?"
"You and I are one and the same, remember? Because of your lovely power, I can't be dead. I'll always be around to save you." She doesn't protest as he scoops her off the ground and carries her out of her specially designed hell.
Just past the entrance, her captor's body lies prone and headless. "Peter," she whispers.
"He'll never be able to hurt you again." The words sound final and she believes them easily. He guides her face into the crook of his shoulder so she can't look at the dead body any longer and begins to stroke her hair in a fashion that most would describe as soothing.
She clings to him tighter as he carries her out of her hell and into the sunshine. Her eyes are closed and she doesn't see the winning smirk planted on his face, as the illusion he created fades away.
He always gets what he wants.