DISCLAIMER: Heroes and its characters are the property of Tim Kring and NBC. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Special thanks to Wye (w.y.back) for being such a wonderful friend and encouraging me to… be me =D and write!
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Normal is overrated
By xxmadlaxx


The walk back to their dorm was quiet. Gretchen didn't quite know what to say, somehow talking about coming out and sexuality didn't seem appropriate. Not when there was a crazy b-tch with super-powers after you.

"So… what now?"

Claire, lost in her own thoughts, took her time answering that. "I guess we go back, regroup. I need to find out where this Becky came from and what exactly she wants."

"You mean besides killing me?"

Stopping, Claire turned to the taller girl. "Gretch, nothing's gonna happen to you. I'll make sure of that."

"How? We can't even see her."

"I'll call my dad, he can fix this."

"This is getting very close to dangerous grounds here."

"I know, but it'll be okay, I promise."

Biting her lip, Gretchen resumed walking. "You know, maybe I should go home… for a while…"

"No!" Claire exclaimed, stopping again and grabbing Gretchen's arm. Taking a breath she continued "I mean, I don't want you to go. My dad will take care of it, okay? Just, please don't go." She didn't know why, but the thought of losing Gretchen so soon after she'd just found her made Claire very anxious.

Encouraged by Claire's protectiveness and desire to keep her around, Gretchen smiled. She started walking again, because talking to Claire while looking into her eyes made her feel very vulnerable.

"We need to get better locks. In fact, we need to start using the locks we already have."

Relieved, the short blonde released her arm and fell into step with her. "We could set up some visibility traps. With… baby powder or something?"

"Baby powder? I thought this superhero life was supposed to be more glamorous than that."

"I'm not a superhero."

"Well, you saved my life today. I think that makes you at least my superhero."

Claire's heart must have found that very amusing, because for some reason it decided to skip a beat. Meanwhile Gretchen was berating herself for flirting with Claire… again… and being left out in the cold… again…

"Sorry, I shouldn't have… let's just get back and get some rest." the tall girl apologized, suddenly feeling very small.

Claire wanted to say something, make Gretchen understand that the reason she was out of words was not because she felt uncomfortable, but because it felt so good to feel… special? Needed? The words didn't come, and the moment passed. Soon, they were back in their dorm, getting ready to sleep. But Claire's mind was still stuck in that moment, totally lost in time.

Weeks later there was still no sign of Becky, which made Gretchen extremely relieved. However, Claire seemed to be growing more and more anxious everyday.

One day after class, Gretchen catches up with her at the cafeteria. "What are you wearing to the party?"

"Party? What party?"

"At Jennifer's?"

"Who says I'm going to any party? Besides, I thought you hated those things…"

"Well, as a matter of fact, I do. However, you need a little cheering up and hey, I thought you were here for a full college experience," lowering her voice and leaning towards the shorter girl, Gretchen continued "normalcy and all that?" Straightening up she finished "That, my friend, includes stupid college parties and worrying about outfits and so on. So back to my initial question, what are you wearing to Jennifer's?"

Smiling, the blonde took Gretchen's hand and together they walked to the lunch line "You're a really good friend, you know that?"

Satisfied with that, Gretchen smiled back. If friends were all they would ever be, at least she was good at it and for the moment, that was enough.

Claire ended up wearing faded jeans and a top borrowed from Gretchen. Together they arrived at Jennifer's. The loud music soon reminded Gretchen why this was a bad, bad idea and that she was, in fact, a really, really good friend. What the hell was she thinking, she hated these parties…

The short blonde immediately picked on the party vibe, feeling normalcy running through her veins. Maybe she couldn't get drunk, but she was sure going to enjoy herself and this glimpse of normalcy as much as she could.

Sheilla, a good looking brunette almost as tall as Gretchen, greeted them "Hey, you guys made it! Jenny is too busy with Will to care, but feel free to… anything really" She walked off leaving a plastic cup on Gretchen's hand.

"Erm… thanks…?" Gretchen said to Sheilla's back. She then looked down at weird looking contents of the cup in her hands "Did she actually drink this?"

Claire laughed. "Maybe we should get something fresh?"

They walked to where all the booze was. At the table, a jock-looking type guy approached them and asked Claire for a dance. Gretchen gave her a half-hearted fake-smile "Go ahead." Great idea Gretch, bring her to a party full of guys and booze and loud music…

Grabing the first drink she could reach, she made her way to the door, almost bumping into the girl they saw at the door, Sheilla, making out with a tall blonde girl. At least someone is having fun…

Meanwhile Claire was enjoying normalcy. College party, music, dancing with a good looking guy conveniently named Peter, it couldn't be better. Or maybe it could, Peter could keep his mouth shut for a second, who wants to hear about all his medals and big games anyway?

Outside, Gretchen found herself a bench to sit on. She thought the night couldn't get worse, but of course nothing good ever happened after that kind of thought.

She felt a whisper in her left ear. "Greeetchen… your little girlfriend left you all alone?"

When Peter finally shut up, it was to try and kiss her, which Claire expertly avoided, looking to the side so that he caught her cheek instead of her lips. That's when she spotted them, a tall brunette making out with a tall blonde. Her heart stopped.

The girls parted for air after what seemed like hours and Claire's heart started beating again. Not Gretchen. Of course it wasn't Gretchen, she was wearing a black shirt, not a green one, that was Sheilla. So where the hell was her brunette? Getting away from Peter and his dozen medals, Claire went looking for Gretchen.

"She's not my girlfriend!" Gretchen got up with a start, heart beating fast, but her mind was so caught up in feeling bad about Claire and whats-his-name getting cozy on the dancefloor that she almost didn't care that some invisible uber-bitch was standing... somewhere nearby.

Opening the door, Claire was immensely happy to see her her friend standing there.

"Gretchen -"

Turning quickly, the brunette screamed at her "Claire watch out!"

Too late, Claire was hit in the stomach with a bottle and had the air sucked right out of her. When she recovered, she saw Gretchen on the floor struggling with the invisible Becky. Claire grabbed another bottle and started hitting the air above Gretchen until they stopped struggling and she accidentally hit her friend's arm, who started struggling against her.

"Stop stop! She's gone."

Still breathing hard Claire helped Gretchen up, while looking around for any sign of an invisible uber-bitch. After she made sure they were alone and her friend was okay, she spotted something that looked like a pocket watch on the floor and picked it up.

"What's that?" Gretchen asked while trying to clean the dirt from her clothes.

"I don't know… but I think we should get out of here."

After weeks of keeping tabs on Gretchen, keeping her safe, the minute she left her alone Becky Taylor was there. Just her luck.

Once in their dorm, they ended up really using the baby powder to make sure Becky wasn't around. After that, Claire sat on Gretchen's bed to look at her arm. Not many words were spoken between them besides the "I'm sorry I hit your arm."

Since they'd left, her mind kept going back to the party. For a moment she thought she had it all, normal life, normal college party, normal dancing with a normal-though-lame guy… why wasn't that enough, why didn't it feel quite right? Maybe it wasn't about normalcy, normal life… it was about something else. That same something that kept bringing her back to Gretchen. Gretchen, her friend, the girl who went out of her way to make her smile, even enduring a college party.

Satisfied that nothing was wrong with her friend's arm, just a bit of a swelling, Claire got up, but she didn't move to her bed. Making up her mind, she turned back to Gretchen who was already settling in to sleep and said "I'm sorry about today."

"You already said that, it's okay. I don't heal as fast as you, but I'm sure it'll go away soon."

"I don't mean your arm, I mean, I shouldn't have left you alone at the party."

"Claire, you don't have to baby-sit me. I'll be fine. I'll go ho-"

Sitting back on the brunette's bed, Claire interrupted her "It's you I should've danced with."

Surprised, Gretchen almost dared to hope. "What do you mean?" Sitting upright she quickly added "and please don't tell me you don't know."

At that, Claire smiled and took a deep breath.

"All my life I've been chasing this… 'ideal' life. Or what I thought was an ideal life. And at that party, dancing with Peter, I thought that was it, that I had it all." Noticing that Gretchen's body language had changed and that she was about to be interrupted, Claire continued "Please just let me finish."

Gretchen sat back again, crossing her arms, bracing herself for the imminent heartbreak.

"As I was standing there, moving to a ridiculous song and fake-smiling at some guy I realized I was wrong. Normal is overrated, what I really want is… to belong. And I belong with you, Gretchen."

As the other girl didn't move or say anything, Claire felt the need to fill in the awkward silence that followed. For a moment she knew exactly what it felt like to put her heart out there only to have it broken. "I'm sorry I almost got you killed twice, and for the emotional hell I p-" she couldn't finish because Gretchen was kiss-attacking her again. This time though, Claire wasn't surprised at all, she just felt… real.

The End

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