DISCLAIMER: Heroes and its characters are the property of Tim Kring and NBC. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: While this story features the same characters, it is not actually a sequel to ORDINARY. In that one, I diverged from the events as they aired. In this one, I am using them. This particular story follows the events of the Thanksgiving episode. If you haven't seen it, I will try to explain what is happening at least enough so you can enjoy this, hopefully without boring those of you who actually know the series.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
By Kirk Baldridge
Claire Bennett glanced up from the compass in her lap toward the person behind the wheel of the car, and just like every time before she couldn't believe her eyes.
Gretchen had come back.
After everything that had happened; finding out Claire could heal instantly, and that the leader of the sorority they were pledging could turn invisible and wanted her dead for some reason, Gretchen had been so freaked she boarded the first plane out of town. Later she changed her mind and returned to school but not to their room, and didn't seem to want anything else to do with her onetime crush.
Not that Claire blamed her. She was just glad Gretchen was okay.
Then came Thanksgiving, a holiday Claire had always loved as a kid. Sitting around the table with her parents and her brother Lyle. It was great. Sure, her father was often late, or had to leave town on business before the meal was done but while he was there, they enjoyed one another's company.
Of course, that was all before her world fell apart. When Claire discovered she could heal any wound and later would no longer feel any pain, and that her father was part of a secret government agency that hunted down people just like her. Before the psychotic Sylar tried to kill her, copying her apparent immortality in the process, before her mother learned all the lies her husband had been telling her and sought a divorce, and before Claire found out her birth father was a US Senator who could secretly fly.
Noah Bennett, her Dad, invited her to Thanksgiving dinner, along with his ex-wife, her mother. Lyle couldn't be there but her mother's new boyfriend was, which made the meal tense to say the least. Adding fuel to the fire was a woman who had apparently worked with her father in the past. Just to max out the discomfort level Claire decided to announce to her parents she was seriously considering leaving school, with no particular plan in mind. In truth, she was thinking about Samuel, Becky, and everything she had learned recently, and apparently her father had figured part of this out on his own because he had one last surprise in store.
He had invited her and she accepted, though she didn't arrive until late. After Claire made her announcement and in the resulting argument with her parents pointed out her abnormality by slitting her wrist, which caused her mom's boyfriend to pass out when she healed so quickly. Then there was a knock on the door and Claire virtually forgot about everything else that was going on when she saw Gretchen.
It actually scared her a little how much she had been missing her ex-roommate, and how good it made her feel to see her again. She knew Gretchen had a thing for her, the kiss was a dead give away, and they were in the process of discussing this when Becky and the other sorority girls arrived. Now that Gretchen was here, and willing to talk to her again, Claire felt her whole world coming back into focus. Once dinner was over, she got Gretchen to give her a ride. Instead of going straight back to school, which didn't start for a couple of days, she convinced her to take a trip with her, following the compass she had 'borrowed' from her father.
Startled from her reverie, Claire looked up. "Yes?"
"For the record, this car has GPS." Gretchen smiled. "We don't have to use tools from the dark ages."
Claire shook her head. "Except your fancy modern technology wouldn't help much in this particular case, since I don't actually know where we're going."
"I see your point." Gretchen glanced at the compass. "But that does?"
Claire shrugged. "This isn't a normal compass apparently. It has something to do with people like Becky and me. I'm hoping it will help me answer some questions."
"Wait, so you're using a magic compass to find more super people?" Gretchen frowned. "I thought you said you were trying to be ordinary?"
"I am. I just " Claire sighed. "While you were gone, some more stuff happened, Gretch. I finally realized, this is normal, for me, anyway. Being at school, around regular people, it's quiet and safe, but every time I see them laughing and talking and holding hands it's like there's a voice in the back of my mind saying I don't belong. I'm not like everyone else, no matter how much I might want to be. I've been thinking maybe it's time I stopped pretending and just went where there are other people like me."
Gretchen blinked. "So, you're leaving school?"
"It's not like there is anything " Claire bit her lip. " or anyone, there for me, really."
The next few minutes were awkwardly silent. Gretchen kept stealing glances at Claire, each time turning away an instant before Claire would do the same thing. Finally, their eyes met and both of them said the exact same thing at the exact same time. "I really missed you." They both laughed.
"We're not in any hurry," said Claire. "Why don't you pull over, so we can talk?"
"Okay." As she looked around for a good spot, Gretchen wondered if Claire knew how desperately she wanted to do so much more than just talk, but she wasn't about to pressure her. They were good again; there was a possibility they might even move back in together, so she would take what she could get. She saw a sign for an upcoming rest stop and finally parked under a shady tree. "Look at that. Privacy." She turned. "I " She gasped as Claire threw her arms around her and threatened to squeeze the air right out of her.
Gretchen felt like she was going to pass out, for more than one reason, but she wasn't about to say or do anything to push Claire away again. She hugged her back. "For what?"
"Everything. Sucking you into my warped little world. Nearly getting you killed." Claire shrugged. "Having to deal with my dysfunctional family." They both smiled. "You name it."
"I'll admit I could do without a psychotic invisible girl trying to kill me for no particular reason." Gretchen cupped the blonde's cheek. "But this whole time I was away, not a day that went by I didn't think about you. I know I said I just had a crush, but god Claire, I really think it's more than that." She leaned in and kissed Claire, and to her delight realized Claire was kissing her back. They sank deeper into one another's arms and didn't speak again until she finally had to stop to take a breath. "Where did you learn to kiss like that?"
Claire grinned. "Let's just say it's one of the perks of having a super powered girlfriend."
"I didn't know I did."
"Well, you always were a little slow."
"I'm not trying to jinx this, but are you sure, Claire? I mean, you said you've never really thought about being with another girl before. Is it a good idea to just jump into a relationship?"
Claire shrugged. "Maybe. Maybe not." She kissed Gretchen this time. "I think you're worth the risk. I've been thinking about you too. A lot. Nothing has been the same since you left, Gretch. I don't know for sure if we have a future or not. Nobody does." She paused. "Well, except maybe my grandmother. Remind me to tell you about her some time." She shook her head. "But I don't want to let you out of my sight again."
"I've never been in love." Gretchen kissed Claire's neck. "Not really."
"You know what they say." Claire arched her back and gasped. "There's a first time for everything."
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