DISCLAIMER: Heroes and its characters are the property of Tim Kring and NBC. No infringement intended.
SPOILERS: This story immediately follows the episode STRANGE ATTRACTORS, so I would advise you watch it if you do not understand something here.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
By Kirk Baldridge
Claire Bennett was having a rather ordinary day.
Which, unfortunately for her, meant having the secret of her healing ability exposed to more people, and dealing with yet another seemingly psychotic, super powered person.
Claire and her roommate, Gretchen, had been taken to an abandoned slaughterhouse along with two other girls as part of a scavenger hunt/hazing ritual for a sorority. Gretchen wasn't really interested in joining; she was just along for the ride, and to be near Claire. In fact, the crush she had recently disclosed was the very subject they were discussing when the girls from Alpha Ki came to 'kidnap' them.
Any chance they might have had for a real conversation, not to mention a relationship, was threatened by the leader of the sorority, Becky. For reason neither of them understood she tried to kill Gretchen several times. When they confronted her, she turned invisble. To make matters worse, during the fight, Claire was impaled through the chest on a metal rod and Becky managed to slip away, though not before the other would-be sorority members came upon the scene. They saw both Becky turning invisible and Gretchen pulling Claire, already healing, off the rod.
Fortunately, Claire had been through this sort of thing before. She convinced the other girls everything they had seen, from her impalement and miraculous healing to Becky's invisibility, was just part of the hazing. She and Gretchen were not actually pledges, but part of their test, which they had passed. When the other Alpha Ki girls returned Claire took her own roommate by the hand and slipped away.
Back in their room, Gretchen sat down on her bed and watched Claire peel off her bloodstained shirt. Her eyes went wide as she realized Claire was apparently comfortable enough around her to walk around in her bra right in front of her. This helped her find her voice. "Umm...can I ask you something?"
"Sure." Claire, half distracted by trying to determine if her shirt was a lost cause or not, had a feeling she already knew what Gretchen was going to ask.
Claire half smiled. "Not really." She made up her mind, threw her ruined shirt away, and went into the closet. "I do feel it, you know? When something happens?" She missed the disappointed expression on Gretchen's face when she came out with a new shirt on. "But it's not painful anymore."
"Anymore? You mean it used to hurt?"
Claire sat down on the bed beside Gretchen. "Actually, yeah. I caught my hand in a garbage disposal one time and it hurt like a bitch until I got the fingers back in place, then it was fine." Seeing the stunned look on her roommate's face, she put a hand on her arm. "Now I'm the one freaking you out."
"N-No, I'm not..." Gretchen sighed. "Ok, maybe a little." She put her other hand on Claire's. "It's just, you're so amazing, Claire. You get run through, by Becky, who was trying to kill me, and she's invisible...I mean, that's not even fair, you know? How do you fight an invisible girl?"
Claire chuckled. "Practice."
"You mean you've done that before?"
"Not that specifically. I've never fought an invisible person, but I have fought people with powers. I usually get in over my head. I can't really be hurt, but that doesn't make me good in a fight."
Grinning in open awe, Gretchen shook her head. "I don't know about that. I saw you when Becky and the others came in our room. You didn't even hesitate. You went right after them, and you took Lisa down so fast."
"I was trying to protect you."
Claire nodded. "I thought they were after me, and you'd just gotten in the way. It wouldn't be the first time." She sighed. "Besides, it's not like I have to worry about myself."
"Maybe, but that isn't the point. In my life, no one has ever done anything like that for me." Gretchen lifted Claire's hands with her own and gently kissed them. "Thank you." Reluctantly, she let go and sighed. "But I also understand what you were saying, before and during the whole Becky's house of horrors thing. We're just friends. I can live with that."
"Yes, we are friends, and I am very fortunate to have you in my life right now. You have no idea how wonderful it feels to have someone who likes me for me. Not for what I can do." Now Claire took Gretchen's hands. "And you are not as freaked out by me as most other people would be." She took a deep breath. "I guess what I'm trying to say is...I'm not sure what's going to happen between us, but I want to find out."
"I thought you said you just wanted to try and be ordinary?"
Claire stroked Gretchen's cheek and smiled. "This is."
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