Characters/Pairings: Claire Bennet/Gretchen Berg
Warnings: Mentions of past violence, past attempted rape
Disclaimer: Heroes belongs to Tim Kring, NBC, et al.
A/N: Written for nbc_las for the prompt: "Children show scars like medals. Lovers use them as secrets to reveal." ~ Leonard Cohen
Summary: Claire can’t show who she really is.
When Claire was forty, and still looked seventeen, her girlfriend Gretchen finally left her. It wasn’t because they didn’t love each other, because they did. It wasn’t because of secrets untold, because Claire had stopped keeping them from her when Claire had jumped from the top of a Ferris wheel, unharmed, to reveal the existence of special abilities to the world.
But it was because of that, that finally drove them apart.
“I feel like a child molester,” Gretchen had said tearfully, pushing her slightly-graying hair back from her face. “The way people look at me, at us… I just can’t handle it. I’m so sorry. Please, Claire, I’m so sorry.”
That night, Claire had gone back to Central Park. The carnival had never moved; the Ferris wheel had become something like a sacred place to people with abilities. She liked to come there after it had closed and climb back atop the Ferris wheel to think.
Even though people knew about special abilities now, even though everyone knew that Claire’s body could repair itself of any injury, it was hard to get people to remember that she was no longer a child. She had no evidence to show them, nothing visceral and immediate that reminded them of everything she’d been through. A birth certificate was cold and distant fact compared to what people saw when they looked at her.
Claire’s ability had erased her past. There were no old scars on her knees from falling off her bike when she was seven, no old slice on her finger from trying to pick up a broken glass when she was twelve.
When people looked at her, they saw the perfect Homecoming Queen, the darling daughter of a Texas high school, and no matter what they knew about her, that was how they treated her. Like glass. Like something innocent and fragile that needed to be protected from the dangers of the world.
They didn’t see all the scars she would have willingly revealed to them. There was no puckered scar in her chest where she’d been impaled on a branch trying to escape from being raped by a classmate. No burn scars covered her skin where she’d gotten very close to a radioactive man to keep him from detonating like an atom bomb. No scars marred her legs, arms, or torso where she’d repeatedly flung herself from high places, trying to understand why she couldn’t die. No bullet wounds graced her heart from narrow escapes, no scar decorated her forehead where Sylar had cut into her.
I’ve died hundreds of times. I can’t be hurt, she said over and over again to the reporters that had dogged her footsteps for over twenty years, since her jump. But it was so hard for them to believe. Claire Bennet was perpetually seventeen, not a child, but not old enough to be a lover. In Limbo, unable to honor her past or reveal it and show her true age. Pristine. Always.
Claire sat atop the Ferris wheel and looked out over the glittering lights of New York, wondering where Gretchen was. She thought of her scarless body, and wondered hopelessly if it was too late to take it all back.