Disclaimer: I do not own Heroes or the characters, and I am not making profit with this. This is simply for my own enjoyment.
Title: Visitor (Chapter 2 of Numb)
Rating: Still T (for now)
Spoilers: Very missable spoilers throughout the three seasons
Well, this chapter took me a while. I'm not completely happy with it, so I may go back and edit it later. The plot starts, more or less, in this chapter. Background info on Claire is done and over! Hope you enjoy! =)
Watching the recorded memories of her and her family, Claire rested her head on her knees, watching the television with a small twinge of sadness twisting in her gut. She missed them. No matter how numb she became, she would always miss them. They had been her only ties to the world - the living, normal world - and now they were gone. She could never have them back. Claire could never hope to see them in heaven. She was stuck here in this place, where she could no longer feel anything strong enough to make her want to stay. This was hell.
Her head lifted off of her knees slightly as she heard a soft rapping at her door. Raising her wrist, she checked her watch and frowned slightly. Who could be at the door at this hour? Was it Jake? Sighing in slight annoyance, Claire slid from the comfort of her chair and paused the movie.
She didn't care that she was in her sleep clothes, or that they showed quite a bit of skin. Jake was a gentleman; he had already proved that to Claire. Padding up to the door, she pulled it open. A bit of surprise lit on her face as her eyes came to rest on a teenage boy in a delivery outfit. She glanced down at the package in his hands, and then back at the boy.
"I didn't know any companies delivered this late," she said, eyeing him a little suspiciously.
“Well, someone’s gotta make the deliveries,” the boy responded, shrugging.
Something wasn’t right. He didn’t even look old enough to drive. Frowning slightly, she looked him over again. Finding nothing wrong with his appearance save a few pimples here and there, she stepped aside and pulled the door open. "Come in, set the package on the kitchen counter there-" she pointed into the kitchen, "and I'll go and get my purse." It wasn't necessary to give tips to delivery men (or boys in this case), but he was a kid, and he was at her house extremely late. Who was making a teenage boy work these long hours? If something was wrong, she’d find out soon enough.
Walking back into her bedroom, she pulled out a ten-dollar bill from her purse. “I’m supposed to sign something, right?” She called, returning to the kitchen. She found him standing next to the kitchen counter - box on top - with a clipboard in his hand.
“Yes, ma’am,” he responded politely, holding out a pen to her. He moved a little closer to her to hand her the clipboard, pointing to a line at the bottom. “If you’ll just sign here, Miss Bennet, I’ll be on my way.”
Claire froze, in mid-reach for the pen. Her eyes narrowed, and she backed away from him. “What did you call me?”
The delivery boy frowned a minute, looking like he was thinking, and then clapped his hand over his mouth in melodramatic surprise. “Oops! Looks like I let the cat out of the bag.”
Claire’s eyes widened as the skin on his face started to bubble. His bones shifted, he grew in height, his hair and eye color changed right before her eyes…
“Sylar!” Claire gasped in surprise. What the hell was he doing here after all these years? She hadn’t spoken to him once since he posed as Nathan, trying to get a meeting with the President.
A wide smirk spread across his lips, and he nodded. “Surprise, surprise! I know it’s rude to show up like this, and I’m sure you weren’t expecting me.” Sylar pulled out a bar stool from underneath the counter and sat down, making himself comfortable. “I’ll bet you were expecting… Jake.”
His eyes swept up to Claire’s, his head tilted slightly downward, making his gaze all that more sinister.
“How do you-“ Claire stopped in mid-sentence, pursing her lips as the realization dawned on her. “You’ve been following me.”
“I’ve been keeping tabs on you for a while now – Alessandra, is it? You have a high class job with a paycheck way over the general average, you have designer clothes, you own an extremely nice apartment, and you even have a handsome young photographer pining after you. Well, gosh, you’ve got it all, don’t you?”
Claire didn’t respond. She knew he had a point to prove, and he hadn’t made it yet.
He leaned forward, resting his head on his knuckles. “But… even with all your possessions and all your money… you just aren’t happy.” Straightening, he slid from the stool, taking a few steps towards her. “I’ve seen you watch your home videos for hours every night. I saw you leaving Jake’s apartment a bit too soon for the full, allotted romantic evening.” Claire tensed as he moved closer, his black-clad body seeming to loom over her, even at a distance.
“You’ve lost everyone who you’ve ever been close to. You have no one left.” He started to move behind Claire, and she shifted, keeping him in her line of sight. She wanted to make sure she could see him at all times. She had no idea what he would do.
“I’m not here to hurt you, Claire,” he said, putting husky emphasis on Claire’s real name in a way that made shivers tremor up her spine. “I have a proposition for you.” He paused then, for dramatic effect she supposed, and then finished with, “I want you to come live with me.”
Claire let out a surprised laugh, and then, studying his face, realized he wasn’t joking. “You’re serious about this,” Claire said slowly. His stiff, un-changing expression was her answer. Shaking her head in response, Claire gave him her response. “No. A million times no. I told you a long time ago that I will never stop hating you, and that hasn’t changed.”
Sylar shook his head, smiling, Claire’s words having no affect on him whatsoever. “Oh, Claire, even after seventy years you’re still so much the same. You don’t hate me Claire. I know you don’t.”
“What are you talking about?” she sputtered, “Of course I do!”
“No, you don’t,” Sylar said, a flicker of annoyance crossing his face. Claire backed up as Sylar advanced on her, jumping slightly when she felt the harsh edge of the kitchen counter press into her back. Sylar leaned into her, laying his hands on either side of her on the counter. She could smell him, that musky and dangerous scent, and it was making her nauseous.
“You don’t have the ability to hate anymore,” Sylar said, his voice low in his throat. “You don’t have the ability to feel much of anything nowadays, do you, Claire? You can yell at me, stamp around, and even throw a tantrum like you’re as angry at me as you’ve ever been, but it’s all a show.” He lifted one of his hands, his fingers trailing lightly through her curls to slide down her cheek. He looked at her with what seemed to Claire to be mock sympathy. “You’re just an empty shell of a human, Claire.”
His words hit her hard, and she found herself wincing as if she were in pain. He was right, she knew he was, but how could he know? She thought she had been doing a pretty good job of pretending. No one else had noticed – or so she thought, anyway…
“Don’t worry Claire, your cover buddies haven’t seen behind your mask. But they haven’t seen you when you walk through your apartment door. As soon as the door shuts, that mask falls away.”
When Sylar brushed his fingers down Claire’s arm, she planted her hands firmly against his chest and shoved him away. He disgusted her. “If you think this is going to make me come with you, you’re wrong.” He needed to leave. He needed to leave now. If she had to call 911 and make a scene to get him to leave, she’d do it.
“Oh, I beg to differ, cheerleader. See… what would you do if I told you that I could reverse that little problem you have?”
Claire froze. Her attention was suddenly focused completely on Sylar, and not on how to get him out of her apartment. “What?” she whispered, staring up at him.
“I can make you feel again… I can fix you, if you come with me.”
Claire was surprised that she didn’t doubt what he was saying – not one bit. She completely believed he could fix her. She wasn’t sure why she hadn’t thought about it before. He knew more about the part of her brain that controlled her ability than any doctor, and he was the one who caused the initial numbness to start in the first place. Claire stared at him, a part of her wanting to say yes and leave immediately so she could feel as soon as possible. Another part of her was hesitating, because she knew there was a catch. It wasn’t just about her coming with him. There was something else he wasn’t saying, and she was worried that something else would be something terrible.
“What else?” Claire asked slowly.
Sylar raised his eyebrows innocently. “Beg pardon?”
“What else does this agreement entail? I know this isn’t all of it.”
A sly smile spread across his face, and he nodded, leaning calmly back against the wall. “You always were smart, Claire. The “catch” that you’re looking for, is that once you come with me, you can’t leave. If you leave, I’ll find you, and I’ll take away your new feelings and emotions. If you want to feel, then you stay with me until I grow bored and decide to throw you out myself.”
Claire’s stomach lurched unpleasantly, and she felt nauseous again. She wouldn’t be allowed to leave? Spending any amounts of time with Sylar was not something she even wanted to think about. Having to spend every day with him for who knows how long would drive her crazy. Who knew what she’d see, what he’d do? He was a sociopath, for Christ sakes!
But… the life she was living now couldn’t even be called a life. She wasn’t really living. Living life without feelings – without emotions – wasn’t really living. She was acting the part, but it wasn’t real. Having her feelings back, even if she had to stay with Sylar… it would be better than the empty life she had now, wouldn’t it?
“Tick tock, Claire.”
Startled out of her thoughts, Claire looked up to see Sylar inches away from her. She jumped back in surprise, almost falling over. His grin in response to her reaction made her want to rip his mouth from his face. “There are a few other rules we’d need to work out, but that’s the main one.”
“Why do you want me to come with you? Why are you here, now?”
“We’re the only ones left from “our generation” of people with abilities, Claire. We’ve outlived everyone. We’re going to live forever, and living forever alone is… not my ideal lifestyle. I want your company, in a manner of speaking. I can give you your feelings back, and in return, you stay with me and fulfill a few simple requests.”
There it was. There was the other part of the bargain he’d neglected to mention. “What requests?”
“Oh, I’ll think of them when the time comes,” he said, brushing past her question with a wave of his hand. “So what’ll it be, Claire? Do you want to keep living this pathetic excuse for a life, or will you come with me and get your feelings back?”
Claire already knew the answer. She was just stalling now, and Sylar knew it. Anything was better than this, even living with Sylar. “I’ll go.”
I've only recently found out what a beta is, and I do not have one. This chapter is unbeta-ed. If you consider yourself to be a good beta and would like to offer your services, please let me know!
Rating: T (for now...)
Summary: It is seventy years into the future, and Claire's family and friends are gone. She's all alone. Ever since that day Sylar took her regenerative powers, she lost the ability to feel pain. Now she's loosing the ability to feel all together. Has she lost everything? She's resigning to an empty life, when Sylar pays her a very unexpected visit, offering her a proposition. Will she accept?
“Yes, yes I understand, but he cannot reschedule. He’s a very busy man. Well, I would suggest you get someone else to take care of your sick mother for the next couple of days, or you are going to lose this deal. Okay, good. What will I tell him? Nothing. Nothing has changed, there’s no need to disturb him. I’ll see you next week. Yeah. Uh huh. Bye.”
Claire – now known as Alessandra Brienne – hung up the phone, running her hands through her hair. It had been a long day. She always had long days working for Narciso Rodriguez, but those long days paid the bills.
Narciso Rodriguez was a top fashion designer in New York, and Claire (Alessandra) was one of his personal secretaries (oh yes, he had many). She mostly handled his phone calls and set up his appointments. One of the reasons she got the job was because she apparently had a “soothing phone voice,” and because she could handle his phone calls. Many people who called yelled, or tried to maneuver their way into his office without an appointment, or tried to cancel appointments, or tried to get out of contracts or deals. Claire was hired because she never wavered, and she never got emotional.
The pay was pretty darn good too, and the benefits were amazing (though she really didn’t need over half of them).
Mr. Rodriguez was a nice guy, all things considered, but he tended to get rather stressed around deadlines. Claire helped by keeping everything organized and making sure nothing changed last minute. In return, she had a paycheck every month, she had a very nice apartment, and her youthful appearance wasn’t questioned since everything in the fashion business was about looking younger and skinnier. She had been working there for the past few years, ever since her brother Lyle passed away.
She had known it was inevitable; she couldn’t die or grow old, but that didn’t mean everyone else would stop too. It had hurt more than she knew she could hurt when her parents died. She watched as her family and friends grew old, and she stayed the same. One by one, they all left her. Lyle was the only one left, and then he was gone. It happened so quickly – too quickly for Claire. Each one leaving was like a tear in her heart. She had so many that she could barely feel anything anymore.
She was used to not feeling pain – Sylar helped her with that – but she never thought that her emotions would leave her as well. Whether it was tied to that same night she lost the ability to feel pain or whether it was because she had no loved ones left, she felt numb. Her emotions were dulled.
She smiled, but it rarely reached her eyes. She laughed, but it sounded empty. She winked and flirted, but it meant nothing. She tried to cry, tried to mourn her lost family and friends, but the tears wouldn’t come. She yelled at stupid people on the phone, but she wasn’t really angry. She felt hollow – like a shell of the person she was. What was she if she couldn’t feel anything? A robot. A thing. An it. Not a person. Not a human being. Not a girl.
Forwarding the calls to the office to her cell phone (courtesy of her job), she pulled her coach bag over her shoulder. Cleaned up her desk, and walked over to Mr. Rodriguez’s office. Knocking quietly, Claire slowly pushed open the door and stepped in. “I’m leaving, Mr. Rodriguez. I forwarded your calls to my cell phone, and if you have any problems, you can call me.” She gave him a small smile, and was dismissed with a nod and a wave. He was in the middle of designing some new chic dress. Apparently it was the next big thing.
Her high heels clicked in the empty hallway and echoed as she walked towards the elevator. She was the last one left. It was after midnight, and every other sane person who had a social life had already left except for Mr. Rodriguez and his personal staff.
The elevator slowed and came to a stop with a soft little ‘ding!’ The doors opened, and Claire walked out into the lobby. “Have a nice night Miss Brienne!” The door guard said with an enthusiastic grin as he held the door open for her.
“Thank you Charlie,” Claire responded coolly and walked out into the cold winter night. She had a warm jacket to block out the chilled wind, but she didn’t need it. Cold was gone from her too.
Her phone vibrated in her hand, and she lifted it up, unsurprised, reading the caller. It was Jake, of course.
Jake worked with Mr. Rodriguez as well – he was a photographer. He flirted shamelessly with Claire the first day she came onto the set, and kept flirting and sending passes every time he saw her. He was extremely good looking, and to pass up his attentions would seem strange to everyone else. Besides, it wasn’t as if he was a bad guy. He was very sweet, very rich, very handsome, and very romantic. He was perfect, according to all the other workers in the building. So, Claire had accepted his requests for dinner dates, movies, romantic outings, and even let him take her up into his apartment for an apparently “life-changing” bottle of wine and a bouquet of red roses.
They had just come back from an evening at the opera, and he pleaded with her to come upstairs. Even with her muted feelings, the smallest pricks of nervousness fluttered in her stomach. She knew what was going to happen that night, and she was worried – or as worried as she could get. She was inexperienced, she hadn’t done anything with anyone before, and she wasn’t exactly sure what would happen.
She had no need to worry. He was a perfect gentleman. He poured the wine into two wine glasses set on his table, and made a toast to her. Though alcohol couldn’t affect her, she still enjoyed the taste of it. It was one of the only things she could feel – the burn as it slid down her throat. She wasn’t sure she would call the wine life changing, but she agreed with him that it did taste exceptional. They talked by candlelight with soft music in the background, he gazed into her eyes and kept murmuring her name and how beautiful she was, and then he asked her to dance. He took her hand and pulled her up out of her chair, bringing her gently into his arms. They swayed back and forth, his lips brushing against her cheek and her neck, his breath on her skin. His hands ran over the soft fabric of her dress, and he bent forwards, sliding Claire into a dip. His fingers ran down her cheek, and Claire was briefly reminded of that moment between Sylar and her with the wine many years ago, before he pressed his lips against hers in what she thought would be an incredible kiss.
She felt his tongue brush against her lower lip, and she parted them in acceptance, even closing her eyes, waiting for something to happen… Nothing. There was no tingle, no butterfly flutter… nothing. It wasn’t at all like the brief kisses she had shared over 70 years ago when she could feel. She felt the beginnings of the soft boil of anger in her gut. Was this really gone from her too?
He led her into the bedroom, pulling her onto Egyptian cotton sheets, lifting up the straps of her dress and slowly sliding them down her arms. His fingers danced across her skin, his mouth leaving trails of kisses along her collar bone and below as her dress slipped to the floor. Claire lay on the bed, trying to feel something, anything, as he touched her. There was still nothing. Beginning to feel desperate, she grabbed a fistful of his hair, pulling his head up to hers, kissing him forcefully. Nothing. Slowly pulling her hand from his hair, she let him continue his means of foreplay, his hands roaming her chest while his head dipped lower. Nothing. Claire closed her eyes, the first tear to grace her skin in years running down her cheek. That was when the night ended.
Claire made some excuse, saying she wasn’t ready, pulling her dress back on, giving him a kiss and telling him how amazing the night was. He was nice about it, understanding even, and told Claire he’d be ready whenever she was.
The phone vibrated again, pulling Claire out of her thoughts. That night had been a week ago, and she done anything with him since. She had been avoiding a few of his calls, but she couldn’t do it forever. Hailing a taxi, Claire answered, putting the phone to her ear. “Hey, Jake.” She said, sliding into the backseat of the yellow car. She told the cab driver her address.
“Hey Alessandra… I’ve been trying to get a hold of you for a while now.” He sounded worried.
“Yeah, I’m sorry Jake, I’ve just been really busy with this fashion show coming up. You know how Mr. Rodriguez gets.” The lie was easy.
“Yeah, I know. Look, I was wondering if you wanted to do something this weekend after the fashion show is over. Go grab some dinner somewhere, or go see a play. I have tickets to Phantom, I know how you’ve wanted to see that.” He was such a nice guy… he deserved a girl who would be able to appreciate that – a girl who could love him.
Love… Was Claire capable of even that?
“That sounds great, Jake,” Claire said softly. “I need to go, I’m at my apartment, but I’ll call you later, okay?” The cab stopped in front of her building, the cab driver turning to her and holding out his hand, pointing to the amount shown on the small screen on the dashboard.
Claire nodded, fishing through her purse for her cash.
“Okay. I’ll talk to you later Alessandra. I miss you.”
Claire gave the driver his money, with some extra for a tip, and stepped out of the cab. “I miss you too.” She ended the conversation, sticking the phone back in her purse. That lie was easy too.
She was on the fourth flour, and had half of that floor as her apartment. Her paychecks allowed her luxuries she never had before. Of course, whoever said money couldn’t buy happiness certainly was right. None of it made her happy - not the nice apartment, the Prada shoes and bags, the fashionable and expensive clothes, the designer furniture… nothing.
She set her bag on the kitchen table, and pulled out a bottle of Everclear and poured herself a small glass. She brought the glass to her lips, tipped her head back, and downed half of it. The burn made Claire smile. Everclear was 95% alcohol, and was illegal in most states. Of course it wouldn’t hurt Claire, but it gave her the closest feeling to pain or pleasure than anything else had. Swallowing the rest, she closed her eyes, the burning sensation leaving all too soon. Pouring herself another glass, she stuck the bottle back in her cabinet, walking into her room. Setting the glass on her bedside table, she slipped out of her skirt and blouse, setting her high-heeled shoes neatly in the empty space on the floor of her closet. She put on a laced-edge white tank and some matching cotton shorts, grabbing the glass.
She padded softly into her living room, grabbing the remote, turning on the tv, pressing play. She sat in her big comfy chair, pulling her knees to her chest. She took small sips of the everclear, and continued watching another home video. There were many of them, all in stacks hidden in cabinets. She had some from when she was little, and many more from later. Her family decided it would be a good idea, since Claire wouldn’t grow old. It would be a way for her to remember them, and still see them. Every night she put in a DVD, watched recorded memories of days when she was happy and loved and not stuck in a life that meant nothing - absolutely nothing.
Let me know what you think! =)
(Sorry that Sylar hasn't made his cameo in this first chapter. I needed to lay down the background story and Claire's situation first. He'll be coming in soon, though!)