HEROES

HEROES

"INDESTRUCTIBLE HEART"

Claire Bennet sat on her bed in the small motel room that had become her family's home, fighting back tears as she tried to cram a lifetime's worth of memories into a small backpack.

She couldn't believe all this was happening to her. Just a few short weeks ago, she had been a normal teenager, and a popular cheerleader. Then she discovered she had the incredible ability to heal herself. Any wound she suffered would heal itself within moments. She had even died – twice – and her powers had brought her back. At first, Claire had tried to keep her powers a secret, afraid of what everyone might think of her. Afraid they might think she was a freak…

Things had happened so fast since then. Now she was running for her life from the mysterious 'Company' her father worked for. Claire didn't entirely understand what they wanted with her, but from what little she already knew about them, she knew it wasn't good. Her father had a plan to spirit her away, and keep her safe, but it meant leaving behind everyone and everything she had ever known... perhaps forever.

Mom… dad… Lyle… how am I supposed to just walk away and never see you again? You're my family I love you! Tears stung Claire's eyes as she shoved clothes into her bag.

It's not fair! All I ever wanted was a normal life!! A sudden jolt against her hip snapped Claire out of her sad reverie with a panicked jump. Looking down, she realized it was only her cell phone. She picked it up to see there was a text message waiting for her… from Zach.

Oh, god… Zach. What am I going to tell him? Part of Claire wanted to just ignore the message. Saying goodbye to her family was painful enough; having to say goodbye to Zach as well was more than she could even bear to think about. Could she really just leave without saying anything to him, though? Zach had stood by her through everything she'd been through lately. Even after his memory had been wiped away by the mysterious Haitian, their friendship had endured. Zach had come to mean more to her than she had ever thought possible.

Reaching out to reply to the message, Claire paused. She knew she didn't have much time. Her father was waiting, to take her to safety before his 'employers' realized what was happening. She had to hurry… but this was something she knew she had to do. Swallowing, Claire tapped in Zach's number. A few moments later she heard him pick up.

"Claire?"

"Zach, where are you?"

"Home, where else. What's going on?"

"I need to see you… right now." Claire had to fight to keep the emotion out of her voice. Zach's own reply made it clear she hadn't entirely succeeded.

"Is something wrong?" he asked, sounding a little anxious.

"Just get over here, okay?" She stopped to look over her shoulder. "I really need to talk to you." Claire swallowed.

"Please, Zach." There was silence on the line for a few long, tense seconds. Then, finally, Zach answered.

"I'm on my way," he said simply, and he hung up.


Fifteen minutes later, Zach arrived on his bicycle outside the motel. Claire was there waiting for him, looking furtively around herself to make sure no one – especially her father – had seen her sneak out.

"Okay, I'm here," Zach said, walking over to her. "Now what's going on?" Claire swallowed the lump she felt forming in her throat. She hadn't realized just how hard this was going to be.

"Zach…" She took a step towards him. "I have to go away." Zach frowned.

"What do you mean, you have to go away?"

"The people my dad works for… if they find me, they'll take me away, Zach. They'll… hurt me." Claire wrapped her arms around herself, shivering like she was cold.

"Why?" Zach asked. "Why would they want to hurt you?"

"Because of what I can do," Claire replied. "I think they want to take me apart, and see how I do it." She looked up at Zach, the wind blowing through her honey-blonde hair.

"I have to go away, hide somewhere they can't find me… and I might not ever be able to come back." It was Zach's turn to swallow.

"Ever?" he repeated. "You mean I… I might never see you again?" Fighting back tears, Claire nodded.

"I know you don't remember the same things I do about us. Maybe you don't even believe me… but I couldn't leave without at least telling you why." It was Zach's turn to take a step towards Claire.

"I believe you, Claire," he said softly. "Maybe I'm crazy, but I believe you." He resisted the urge to reach out to her.

"Even if I don't remember half the things you say we did together, you're still my friend… and I still care about you."

"You really mean that?" Claire practically sobbed. Zach swallowed and nodded.

"Yes." He lowered his head.

"I'll miss you," he said, not quite under his breath. Claire heard him easily, and choked back another sob. Then, without warning, she threw her arms around Zach in a crushing hug. He awkwardly attempted to return the embrace.

"You really have to leave?" Zach asked quietly. Claire managed a nod.

"I don't want to," she whimpered.

"I don't pretend to understand everything you're going through right now, but if this is what you have to do… then do it. I just wish I could help you." Claire gently pulled herself away from Zach and looked up at him.

"Promise me something?" Zach nodded wordlessly.

"Promise me you won't forget me." Claire swallowed. "Promise me this time you'll remember."

Zach could practically feel her trembling. After what she'd told him that her father and his mysterious Haitian 'friend' had done to everyone who knew her secret, after everything she'd nearly lost before, Claire was terrified of losing it all again.

Zach wished her could promise her that everything was going to be all right, but he knew he couldn't. After everything that had already happened to her, who knew what the future would bring for an indestructible cheerleader. In the end, the simplest reply seemed the best.

"I'm not going to forget you, Claire… I promise." A sudden thought occurred to Zach. He reached for his cell phone.

"Come here." Claire frowned.

"What?"

"I've got an idea." Reaching his arm around Claire, Zach pulled her beside him and lifted his cell phone towards them. Pressing a button, he took their picture.

"There," Zach said. He showed Claire the picture he'd just taken of the two of them together. "Now I'll always be able to remember you." Claire stared at him, speechless. Her bottom lip began to tremble.

"Zach…" She was interrupted by the distant sound of her father's voice, calling out to her.

"I have to go," Claire whispered. She looked up at Zach for what might well be the last time. She wanted to say something to him, but nothing seemed right. How was she supposed to tell him all he'd meant to her in just a few short words? Claire realized she couldn't. Again, the simplest gesture seemed the best. She flung her arms around him in a fierce hug.

"Take care of yourself." Zach said quietly.

"You too," Claire replied, fighting back tears again. "And Zach?"

"Yeah?"

"Thank you… for always being there for me." Then, before Zach could say anything, Claire turned and ran back towards the motel. Zach watched her go, and released the deep breath he hadn't even realized he'd been holding. That was when he realized he'd never even had the chance to say his own goodbye.

Guess her heart's not as indestructible as the rest of her, Zach thought to himself as he watched Claire disappear in the distance. Then again, with everything she's been through, and still has to face, she doing a hell of a lot better than I would be. I just wish she would've let me say goodbye…He turned sadly back towards his waiting bicycle. Then he stopped suddenly.

Wait… Maybe I still can…Smiling, he reached for his cell phone one last time.


Back in the motel room, Claire quickly grabbed the last of her things and zipped her bag closed. She could already hear her father starting up the car outside. Summoning up all her courage, she turned towards the door. Just then, her cell phone chimed against her hip. Without thinking, she flipped it open. A message from Zach was waiting for her, and when she saw it she felt her breath catch in her throat.

It was the picture he'd taken of them together just a few minutes ago, and with it were two simple words: Good Luck