Summary: Morality wasn't worth the price of their suffering.
Spoilers/Warnings: Picks up at the end of "Parasite", and this one's canon, so beware of the incest and underage sex.
Disclaimer: I claim no ownership over these characters. I am merely borrowing them from Tim Kring et al.
Feedback: Yes please! It makes me happy and keeps me writing.
Thanks to kallie_kat for the beta.
Peter watched her across the room playing with his nephews. He watched his niece playing with his nephews, he reminded himself. His face unconsciously darkened as he forced himself to remember that Claire was his niece. She was Nathan's daughter. His brother Nathan's daughter.
He seemed to have this conversation with himself repeatedly throughout the day. Every day. Every day since he had come home to find Claire in his apartment with his mother as she explained that she was Claire's grandmother.
It had been a knife to his gut. Claire, the girl from Texas who had saved his life not only after he had saved hers, but whose power had saved him after Claude threw him off the building. He'd barely been able to get her out of his head after that night with Claude. If he were honest with himself, he'd been thinking of her since he'd woken from his coma.
At first, he'd told himself that he was remembering her because her power lingered with him. That wonderful ability to heal. Too bad it only healed physical wounds, and not emotional ones.
He'd tried to deny that he was attracted to her. Brushing off her flirtation as hero-worship.
You're totally my hero.
How could a man not have his ego stroked by those words? Especially when they came from such a beautiful mouth. He was shamed to admit that his ego wasn't the only thing stroked by those words.
Time away from her hadn't lessened the immediate attraction that he'd felt towards the beautiful teenager. Peter was almost grateful that his life had been so crazy that it didn't leave him much time to dwell on the fact that he was lusting after a high school student. No matter how beautiful and mature she was.
So he threw himself into a relationship with Simone, telling himself that she was the one he truly wanted. She would make him happy. She was an adult. And she was still in love with Isaac, pretending she wasn't, so it was perfect. It was all a lie.
Learning that he was Claire's uncle was like having a bucket of cold water dumped on him. Shocking, uncomfortable, but eventually it dried. What was left was more discomfort and embarrassment. Embarrassed to discover that his fantasy lover was his blood relation.
He'd hoped that his desire for Claire would fade with time and knowledge. The fact that in addition to the age difference they now had an even fiercer taboo against them should have made his feelings disappear. Shouldn't it?
He cursed his raging hormones that refused to listen to his brain's rationalizations. He couldn't stop his heart from racing every time Claire smiled at him. That beautiful, sad smile he'd remembered from Odessa. Only now it seemed even sadder. He didn't like to dwell on what could possibly make her sad.
As Peter watched Claire laugh at something the boys said, he remembered the day he'd learned the terrible truth.
He'd stumbled into his apartment, broken hearted over the loss of Simone. He may not have loved her the way he should have, but he felt responsible for her death. Knowing that Nathan was otherwise occupied with his own business, he'd decided that it was safe to return to his apartment.
His shock at seeing Claire standing in his living room was rivaled by his shock to find his mother there. The Petrelli matron rarely lowered herself to set foot in his apartment. Yet here she was, smiling graciously at a stunned Claire.
"Ah, Peter, there you are," Angela said. "Marvelous timing, my dear. I'd like to introduce you to--"
"Claire," Peter interrupted. "What are you doing here?" He crossed the room to engulf her in a hug, having forgotten that he still wore Simone's blood.
"I-I came to see you," Claire said, wrapping her arms tightly around him. She buried her face in his chest, clinging to him. "I had to see you."
"What's happened?" Peter asked, pulling back slightly to look at her. She was even more beautiful than he'd remembered. She looked tired, more so than a sixteen year old should.
"Yes, I'd like to hear the whole story as well," Angela said, interrupting the moment.
Claire immediately pulled out of their embrace, suddenly remembering what Angela had just told her. She couldn't cling to Peter, no matter how much she wanted to. He...he was her uncle now. He had been her uncle all along, she supposed, but she hadn't know that before.
Peter looked at her quizzically, but respected her withdrawal, ignoring how cold he felt without her body pressed against his.
"What are you doing here, Mother?" Peter asked.
"I came to wait for Claire," she said. "Who knew if or when you'd be home again."
"How did you know she was going to be here?" Peter asked.
The Haitian stepped out of the next room as Angela said, "I have my sources."
"Who are you?" Peter asked the new arrival.
"He works for my dad," Claire said. "My adopted dad."
Peter frowned. "But why would you..." Peter trailed off, looking to his mother for answers, suddenly very confused. "Did you two know each other?"
"I've known about Claire since she was born," Angela cryptically answered. "Your brother was going out of his mind worrying about what to do."
"My brother," Peter repeated, realization slowly dawning on him. "What does Nathan have to do with..." Peter blinked and whipped his head around to look at Claire. "You're... but how? Why didn't he tell me?"
Peter stumbled to the couch and sat down heavily on it, looking back and forth between Claire and his mother, hoping one of them would give him some answers.
"I'd like to know that too," Claire said, gingerly sitting next to Peter. "If you've known about me all this time, why did I grow up with the Bennets?"
Standing before them, Angela said, "Nathan came to me when Meredith learned she was pregnant. Luckily they agreed not to do anything rash, like get married. He was on tour when the fire happened. By the time I heard about it, Bennet had already adopted you. Nathan was in no position to be a father. He had his career to think of. I told him that you had died along with Meredith in the fire."
Claire stared at her grandmother through tear-filled eyes. "You didn't want me?"
Peter silently reached down to hold Claire's hand.
"It's nothing personal," Angela said. "And it's not like I haven't been keeping tabs on you."
"So you knew what my father did, who he worked for, what I could do, and still you left me there with him!" Claire said, standing to face off with the older woman.
"You had protection," Angela calmly stated.
"Right. I had a man who pretended to be mute spare me the removal of my memories," Claire retorted. "He wasn't able to stop Sylar from coming after me."
"No, but my other son was," Angela said, pride in her voice.
"You knew what I could do?" Peter asked, finally participating in the conversation.
"Of course I did. I'm your mother," Angela said.
"But Nathan and I just figured it out a few months ago," Peter said.
"Now is not the time to go into that," Angela told him. "There is a time and place for everything. Today we need to decide what to do with Claire."
"Do with me?" she incredulously asked. "I'm not something that has to be dealt with! I'm a human being. I came here to see Peter."
"Yes, and now you have seen him," Angela said. "Given what you have both learned today, I'd hardly allow you to stay here with him."
"Isn't that up to me to decide?" Peter asked. "Claire must have come to me for a reason. I'd like to know what that is. She's welcome to stay here for as long as she wants, be that a few hours, days, or weeks."
Angela reached up to brush Peter's bangs out of his face. "So caring, so naïve." She sighed. "Peter, you live in a one bedroom apartment. You can barely take care of yourself these days. Do you honestly think that you are up for playing host? Besides, with this revelation that Claire is your niece, it wouldn't look appropriate for her to be living with you."
"I don't care what it looks like," Peter said. "I haven't been able to stop thinking about Claire since I woke up from that coma. I'd like to get to know her better."
"For heaven's sake, I'm not forbidding you from seeing the girl," Angela said. "You're more than welcome to come over and see her any time you'd like."
"Excuse me, but aren't you going to ask me what I want?" Claire interrupted.
"We already know what you want, dear child," Angela told her.
"I'm not a child," Claire said between gritted teeth.
"Then act like it. Don't stand there being petulant. I have a room ready for you in my home. Tomorrow you can meet your father when he returns from Las Vegas."
"I don't know you. Why should I agree to come and live with you? Of the people in this family, Peter is the one I already know. I think that I'll stay here, with him. I don't care if he lives in a small apartment. I'll sleep on the couch."
"I am your grandmother. I can provide for you better than Peter can."
"I don't care." Claire sat back down and crossed her arms. "I'm staying here."
Seeing that she wasn't going to make the girl see reason, Angela decided to let it go. "You'll take good care of her?" Angela asked Peter.
"Of course," he said, breathing a sigh of relief.
"You'd better. You can start by taking care of yourself. Take a shower for goodness sake, you look awful." Angela kissed Peter on the cheek and collected her belongings. "Come along," she said to the Haitian.
"I will not be far away," he told Claire as he followed Angela out the door.
"I thought he didn't talk," Peter said, more to himself, sitting back down.
Claire shrugged. "He does to me." She looked around the room, suddenly realizing that she was now alone with Peter, in his apartment. "Um, sorry I just kinda showed up like this. I didn't know what else to do. Where to go."
"You can always come to me," Peter said. "Especially now, I guess."
"Yeah, Uncle Peter," Claire teased. The word 'uncle' felt sour in her mouth and caused her to cringe.
Peter winced too. "Maybe we can keep it at just Peter."
"Yeah, I like that better, too," Claire readily agreed. She'd like it even better if the uncle thing could be completely forgotten and Peter could go back to being just her hero.
They drifted into an uncomfortable silence, each of them trying to come to grips with the knowledge that the person they had been secretly lusting after was now a relative.
Finally, Claire blurted out, "What's he like? My bio-dad?"
"Nathan's... Nathan's very much like our mother," Peter said. "He's running for Congress right now. He's always been the ambitious one. When he decides that he wants something, he goes after it full-force."
"And when he doesn't want something he pays it off," Claire muttered under her breath.
"What?" Peter asked, having heard what she'd said.
"Oh, nothing. I saw him. In Texas. He went to see my bio-mom to give her money so that she'd keep her mouth shut about me. Meredith told me that he didn't want to see me so I kinda eavesdropped while they were talking. He did, though. He asked to meet me but Meredith told him she'd sent me away and he didn't even tell her she'd done the wrong thing. Then he just left. He gave her money and he left."
Claire was crying by the time she finished and Peter instinctively pulled her into his arms. He held her while she cried out her frustration and anger. He ran his hands over her hair and back and tried to tell himself that he was just offering comfort.
He whispered that it would be all right against the top of her head. He told her they'd figure everything out. She'd get a chance to meet Nathan and ask him about it. He'd be there to support her.
"Really?" Claire asked, blinking up at him.
Peter wiped away her tears with his thumb. He stared into her stormy eyes as he said, "Really. If you want me to, I'll be there when you and Nathan meet. He's really not so bad once you get to know him."
"What if I don't want to get to know him now? He didn't want to meet me," Claire petulantly said.
"I don't believe that. He wouldn't have gone to Texas himself if he didn't want to meet you. I'm sure of that. It was a risk for him to go, given how soon the election is."
"He's not going to publicly claim me, is he?" Claire asked, a mixture of disappointment and relief in her voice.
"Not right now, no," Peter agreed. "An illegitimate daughter would be very bad press."
"Maybe I should out myself," Claire said.
"You don't really want to do that," Peter told her. "You may be angry with him, as well you should be, but he's worked hard for this. He'll be good at it, too."
"I don't want to talk about him anymore," Claire decided, resting her face against Peter's chest.
He'd forgotten that he was still intimately holding her until that moment. It had just been so natural, holding Claire in his arms. When she started idly drawing patterns on his chest, Peter reached up to cover her hand, stilling the motion.
"Claire," he choked out in a pained whisper.
She looked up at him with eyes full of desire. "You felt it too," she whispered. "I didn't just make it up. There was something that sparked between us back home."
Peter swallowed thickly. He couldn't think with her so close; her delectable mouth just inches from his own. He licked his lips nervously. "Yes, I felt it," he admitted. "But it doesn't matter. We can't do anything about whatever attraction there may be between us. Forget the fact that I'm ten years older than you. You're my brother's daughter. We just can't."
Peter tried to pull away; put some distance between them, but Claire held onto him, refusing to let him go.
"Wait. Please," she pleaded with him almost desperately. "Just... Can I have one kiss? Please. Before everything goes crazy, can I have just one thing to hold on to?"
"Claire..." He should say no. He knew he should say no. It would be wrong on so many levels. But he didn't want to. He wanted to kiss her and forget for just a little while that she was now his niece; forget that Simone was dead; forget that he was going to destroy New York.
Peter reached out and brushed a stray piece of hair behind her ear, taking in the desperation on Claire's face. "Maybe just one..." he said as he lowered his lips to hers.
Claire whimpered at the first tentative brush of their lips. Her hands reached up to fist in his hair, holding him to her, not letting that be it. She pressed her lips to his, wanting to make the most of it if this could be their only kiss.
Peter knew that he shouldn't be enjoying this as much as he was. He should stop this; pull away. When he felt Claire's tongue brush against his lower lip, he shouldn't reciprocate. But God help him, he did.
It's finally Nathan's voice in the back of his head saying, "For God's sake, she's my daughter, Peter. Get your hands off of her" that forced Peter to pull away. Breathing heavily, Peter slowly pushed Claire away and stood on shaky legs, moving to the other side of the room.
Claire looked slightly bewildered when he glanced back at her. Her skin was flushed and her lips swollen from their kiss. Peter wanted nothing more than to go back to her and kiss her again.
"That was..." Claire trailed off. "What was that?"
"That was a mistake," Peter said.
"Because it felt so right?" Claire retorted. "If that was a mistake, then what's it supposed to feel like when it's done right? Because I have never felt like this after just one kiss."
"You're young," Peter said dismissively. This wasn't a discussion he could have right now. Not when she was right. He had never been left so confused and shaken from a single kiss.
"You're lying," Claire countered. She stood and crossed the room to stand before him. "Tell me you didn't feel that."
"I didn't..." Peter tried, he really did. He wanted to tell her he felt nothing so they could move on, move past it. One look in her eyes and he found himself saying, "I can't."
"So what do we do now?" Claire asked.
"Nothing. There's nothing to do. Nothing can come of this...whatever this is between us."
Peter was startled out of his memories by a gentle hand on his shoulder.
"Hey, it's just me," Claire said, casually sliding her hand down his arm, prolonging the contact until she knew she had to let go.
"Claire," Peter acknowledged dreamily. He looked around, as if suddenly remembering that they weren't supposed to be touching. The boys were playing quietly on the other side of the room.
"Where'd you go? You looked pained," she told him.
Peter barked out a harsh laugh. "I was remembering the day you arrived in New York," he told her, meeting her eyes.
Claire sucked in a sharp breath at what she saw there - lust, frustration, anger. "You still think about it too?" she whispered.
They hadn't talked about that kiss again after that day. Peter wouldn't let them. If it even looked like she was going to talk about it he'd change the subject or find an excuse to leave. They'd hardly been alone together, afraid of their lingering desire.
Peter's eyes widened. He hadn't thought that she would still be thinking of the kiss that haunted him night and day. He nodded silently, afraid to speak.
Holding his eyes for a moment longer, Claire came to a decision. "Boys, I have to show Peter something in my room. Be good while we're gone, okay?"
"Yes, Claire," they answered together.
"Come on," she said, pulling Peter to his feet. She held his hand as she led him to the room she had moved into after having met her bio-dad.
"Claire, what are you doing?" Peter asked when she'd closed and locked the door behind them.
"Do you still want me, Peter?" Claire asked, moving back to him.
Peter backed away. For every step she took towards him, he took one back. "It doesn't matter if I do or not," he protested.
"Yes, it does," Claire insisted. Peter had reached her bed and could back up no more. She closed the distance between them. "It matters to me." She could see the answer on his face, but needed him to say it. "I haven't forgotten about that kiss. I can still feel it. Even now, my lips still remember what it felt like to kiss you."
"Please, stop," Peter begged in a pained whisper.
Claire pressed her body against his, her hands sliding up his chest and into his hair. "That's not what you really want, is it?"
Peter forced himself to meet her questioning gaze. All that he could see was her desire, and her sadness. Sadness caused by her desire, for him.
"No," he whispered, the word barely audible as it was lost against Claire's lips.
Peter pulled Claire to him, ravaging her mouth with months of pent-up passion. His tongue plundered her mouth, capturing her taste, imprinting the feel of her on his senses. He'd be afraid that he was being too aggressive if Claire wasn't digging her nails into his scalp in an effort to keep him in place, pull him closer.
When they parted to suck in deep breaths of air, Peter asked, "Is that what you wanted?"
"Yes," Claire purred. "That and more. Please, Peter, don't stop. Do you have any idea how hard it's been to be around you, in this house surrounded by your things, and not touch you? Every accidental touch I thought Nathan would be able to see how I felt about you. I tried not to want you, so hard. I did everything that I could think of to make myself stop wanting you, but nothing worked. If anything, not being able to be with you has only made me want you more."
"God, Claire," Peter groaned, running his hands over her back. "I felt the same thing."
"Can't we just forget?" Claire pleaded, fingering the buttons of his shirt. "Can't we just be two people who want each other? I need you."
"Even if we do this, it's not going to change the truth when we're done," Peter forced himself to say.
"I don't care!" Claire practically shouted. "I can't stand living like this anymore. How can denying our feelings make us so miserable? I don't care what society says. We didn't grow up knowing each other. What we feel isn't a familial bond. Denying it isn't helping anyone."
"But if anyone found out... If you got pregnant..."
"So don't get me pregnant! We'll be careful, and we'll keep it a secret, just between us. No one needs to know," Claire pleaded.
"Do you really want to live like that? Sneaking around and hiding the truth?" Peter asked.
"If it means we can be together, then yes. I don't need anyone to know about us, I just need you. If lying and sneaking around is the only way that we can be together, then so be it."
"I shouldn't agree to this. I should say no," Peter said, meeting her eyes, losing himself in them. "But God help me, I don't want to. I need you Claire, so much."
"Then stop talking and show me," Claire said, pulling Peter's shirt from his pants and unbuttoning it.
Now that he'd decided to give in, Peter couldn't wait to be skin to skin with Claire. Unbuttoning was taking too long, and he pulled the shirt off over his head before removing Claire's top. Claire unhooked her bra as Peter opened her jeans, sliding them down her shapely legs.
All Peter could do was stare at Claire's beauty as he knelt at her feet, his hands still resting against her calves. "You are so beautiful," he breathed. He slowly moved his hands up her legs, over her hips, along her ribs, around to cup her breasts, until he was standing before her, cupping her face and drawing her into a kiss.
Claire's hands eagerly explored his bare chest as they kissed, marveling at the strength she could feel beneath his skin. Eventually, she let her hands slide lower until she reached his jeans. Her fingertips dipped beneath the waistband as she opened the button and slowly lowered the zipper. She pulled away from his lips in order to lay kisses against his bare torso. Each kiss was placed lower, her hands pushing his jeans and boxers down as she slid down his body.
When she was kneeling before Peter, she placed a kiss on his hipbone, causing Peter to take a shuddering breath. He closed his eyes against the sight of her looking up at him with so much desire. Which is why he was completely unprepared for the feel of her tongue against the head of his cock. When he jumped, Claire was ready with her hands on his hips to keep him steady. She grinned wickedly up at him before running her tongue along his cock from balls to tip.
"I'm never gonna last if you keep that up," Peter admitted.
"We wouldn't want that," Claire said, slowly standing.
Claire gave Peter a moment to calm himself, sliding her panties off and stepping out of them. She crossed to her dresser and dug around in her underwear drawer for the box of condoms she'd hidden in there, hoping she'd be in this position one day.
She tossed the box on the bedside table, handing one to Peter as she stretched out on the bed.
"What are you doing with these?" Peter asked, awed by her preparation.
"Let's just say that I really hoped you'd change your mind. I told you we'd be careful," Claire said.
Peter stretched out next to her, running his hands over her body, paying special attention to her breasts.
"I guess I just assumed that I'd be the one supplying the protection," Peter said, his eyes following his fingers' motions. He bent his head to take one taught nipple between his lips.
Claire's giggle dissolved into a moan. "Did you actually have a condom on you?"
"Nathan taught me never to leave home without one," Peter said.
"Can we please not talk about him?" Claire asked, her hand circling his cock.
"Talk about who?" Peter asked.
"In fact, let's not talk at all," Claire suggested, capturing his mouth in a hungry kiss.
Peter eagerly agreed, kissing her back. He let his hand travel down her body and between her legs. His fingertips teased her lips before dipping lower, finding her warm and wet. He groaned into the kiss, sliding one finger inside her. Claire rolled her hips, encouraging the action, kissing him even harder.
Peter fingered her for a while longer, a second finger having joined the first. He couldn't wait to be buried deep inside her.
Claire was the one to break their kiss, panting out, "I'm ready. Please Peter, I want you inside me."
Peter ripped open the condom packet and sheathed himself before rolling on top of her. He met her eyes and forced himself to ask, "Are you sure about this?"
Claire gave him a look that clearly said 'Duh', and told him, "This isn't my first time, Peter. I've never wanted anyone as much as I want you right now. I need you. Please."
It only took Peter a moment to process Claire's admission before he was sliding home. It was even better than he'd imagined this to be. He was finally buried deep inside Claire, where he knew he was supposed to be, always.
"Oh, God, Claire," he ground out. "I don't think I'm gonna be able to last long."
"I don't care," she told him, sounding just as desperate. "I've wanted this for too long. We can go slow next time. Just fuck me."
Hearing his good, sweet, Claire using such vulgar language pushed a button Peter didn't even know he had. Bracing himself with his elbows above her, Peter began to pound into her. Claire wrapped her legs around his hips, moving with him, encouraging the pace, meeting his every thrust with one of her own.
Claire pulled Peter's mouth down to hers, needing him to help muffle her moans of pleasure. She may want him, but she didn't want to alert the whole house as to what they were doing.
Peter shifted, changing the angle of his thrusts so that he now brushed against her clit with every stroke. The additional stimulation was enough to send Claire spiraling over the edge. She broke the kiss to bite his shoulder as her body shook with pleasure.
The feeling of Claire clenching around him in orgasm was enough to rush Peter straight into his own. Holding her to him, Peter raggedly thrust a few more times before being overcome with his own release.
Peter lay boneless on top of Claire for a couple of moments, unable to move after the power of his orgasm. Knowing he had to be getting heavy, he reluctantly disengaged their bodies and removed the condom before collapsing next to her on the bed. Claire immediately curled into his side.
"That was even better than I'd been imagining," Claire quietly admitted.
"Yeah, me too," Peter had to agree. He shuddered as she ran her hands along his chest.
Raising herself up to meet his eyes, Claire told Peter, "I can't go back to not having this. I hope you know that. Now that I've had you, I don't ever want to go back to not being able to do this."
"I can't either," Peter admitted. "A part of me knows that I should, that we shouldn't give in to each other again, but the rest of me just doesn't care. This feels too good, too right, for it to be wrong." The relief on Claire's face made him chuckle. "Did you think that I'd disagree with you?"
Claire blushed, finding it odd that she didn't blush when she'd seduced Peter, but did now. "I was afraid that you'd change your mind after having gotten me out of your system."
"I could never get you out of my system," Peter sincerely told her. "We could make love fifty times a day, every day, and I would still want more of you."
"Fifty, huh?" Claire asked, amusement in her voice. "I know that I have instant healing abilities, but do you really think you're up to doing it fifty times a day?"
Peter laughed. "Well, I don't know about fifty, but I'm game for experimenting with recovery time."
Claire kissed him, moving to straddle him.
"What do you know, looks like we're already up for round two," she said as she reached for a condom.