Author: Jacqui, wily_one24.
Prompt: #013: Grief
Word Count: 1,220.
Spoilers: Everything screened in the US.
There was no one left to grieve for Elle.
It came to Claire in a transient thought some two weeks after the fire at Primatech, the casual news thrown aside, not even a full sentence. Just two words, a pause in the conversation, Elle’s dead, and then a return to the business at hand.
She hadn’t thought about it at the time, she’d returned home to wrap herself inside the slightly confused arms of her mother and fill her brain with years of incidental hugs and caresses, make herself too bright and too cheerful as she helped with Mr. Muggles and did the dishes. All the while remembering with a sharp, harsh pang of guilt the possibility of fire and flesh and biology, a woman that had never treated her like something fragile.
All gone, all burned.
And one day, folding a towel in half, Sylar’s words came back to her.
Two simple words that planted themselves in her brain and took root.
“What happened?” She asked her dad one day over dinner. “What do you think happened?”
He looked at her, part warning part boredom, and a strange little flicker of fear.
“She partnered with Sylar. What do you think happened, Claire?”
And that had been the end of that conversation.
She didn’t know much about Elle, just the basic facts. Elle had grown up in the company, her father was Bob Bishop and had been killed by Sylar, she hurt people with a startling lack of remorse, she’d hurt not only Claire, but Sandra and Lyle as well, probably even her father.
Barely enough to write a blurb.
The brief memories she had of Elle weren’t very substantive, but they were hers. Admittedly, her first memories of Elle at all were tinged with bile rising in the back of her throat, forever associating her with the day her dad had died. That sinking feeling of knowledge and guilt and realization threatening to break through as she watched Elle, sharp, young, alive Elle shepherded back into her daddy’s arms while she, Claire, had been dragged into the sky to mourn.
Even after she’d gotten her dad back, Claire had never truly forgiven Elle, even after the slow trickling of knowledge, the careless, all knowing, bitter truths her dad leaked out like a cautionary tale. The company, the brutality, the lack of conscience.
Elle had hurt people, Elle had hurt her and her family, had dared flash electricity through both Lyle and Sandra, an unforgivable sin in Claire’s eyes. The disdain and loathing and utter disregard for the girl had been easy and comfortable and habitual. She found reassurance in it.
Until the day Elle crackled like an overloaded motherboard, crying out in pain and Claire had actually seen a person under all the pretence. She was, she supposed, a sucker for a bleeding heart story. And there had been nothing more bleeding heart than the mighty fallen into a crackling, shivering heap begging for help.
The flight to Pinehearst had opened her eyes a little more, fleshing Elle out from a two dimensional villain to a three dimensional person, had given them both a brief flicker of kinship and then Elle had run into the building and that was the last Claire had seen of her until she’d shown up by Sylar’s side, threatening them once again.
Claire could not fathom the mindset of anyone who could side by their father’s killer so easily, a murderer, a true psychopath who had little if any emotion towards anyone but himself.
They were glimpses, though, mere blinks of an eye in Elle’s life and Claire was left curious and hungry, desperate for knowledge and understanding, to know whyElle had done the things she had, why she hadn’t cared or shown even the remotest spark of concern or guilt for the things she’d done, or empathy for anyone. She wanted to know what would turn a fairly normal, possibly even nice girl – because surely that plane trip hadn’t been the lie, surely - into the psychotic creature Elle had become.
But no one was left who knew Elle.
As far as Claire knew, the information she’d gathered, Bob Bishop was the main person in Elle’s life. He was dead and there was nobody left to ask.
Angela Petrelli’s chin rose when Claire asked her, an affect mainly so that she could look down her long slender nose and frown around the name.
“Elle? Now, Claire, she’s gone. You don’t need to worry about the likes of her anymore.”
She thought about it so much, she began to dream about Elle. Faint, blurry, insubstantial scenes inside her subconscious, her brain’s need to feed the demands she’d put upon it. Learn, learn, find out, a relentless hunt that went nowhere.
Claire found nothing but dead ends around a labyrinth of corners, the same old company line, Elle had a hard life. Elle was a disturbed girl. Elle was probably better off now, anyway.
But Claire didn’t think so. She couldn’t quite grasp the meaning of it. How could anyone die and not be mourned? Not leave behind anyone who cared about it? How could anyone, despicable or not, flicker and die and not cause a ripple in the air around them?
It saddened her and ate at her and guilt twisted inside her stomach until she couldn’t eat and her mother looked at her with large, sad eyes and asked if she was still thinking about Meredith.
Across the table her dad looked up, a frown in the middle of his forehead, and his eyes warned her off again. She’d learned not to ask about Elle anymore, not in front of him, not... She had no idea why it upset him so much. She knew they’d gone on missions together, that it meant they had some sort of history by pure necessity alone. But he was acting afraid, scared, and that made Claire’s hackles rise.
Peter blinked when she asked him, a blush rising on his cheeks, and told her Elle was simply misguided.
Everyone she asked acted the same, that bland kind of impersonal sad that meant nothing, that people everywhere adopted for the sake of appearances when talking about the death of someone they never knew. Oh, did you hear about Joe down the road? Poor man....
After a month, that was it. That was all she could find out. Elle was a disturbed young woman that had spent the majority of her life being tortured and used and experimented on, mind wiped and mind fucked by the very man supposed to protect her. She’d grown paranoid and psychopathic in the end and alienated the few that might have helped her otherwise. Her only real contact was her father, who was now dead. She’d had a brief relationship with none other than Sylar, which Claire would have assumed had ended when Sylar killed her father, but apparently hadn’t.
And then Claire knew.
She understood why everyone stonewalled her, she understood the flash of fear in Noah Bennett’s eyes when he dismissed his daughter’s questions.
Because there might not have been anyone left to mourn Elle, but there was still one man that had known her.
And Claire knew it was only a matter of time before she questioned him, too.