It was her salvation.
She was going crazy, slowly but surely. The pressure was building, and there was nothing she could do to stop it. Looking at her father, being in the same room as him was getting harder. Every word she said to him was a lie, everything he said to her she wondered if it was true. The only person she could talk to was Zach, and even he didn't understand it completely. How could he when she barely understood it herself?
She wanted to get away, she couldn't go to her real mother. Her biological father had proved to be nothing but a disappointment. She had nowhere to go, no one to go to.
It didn't make sense, her life was a complete mess, nothing made sense, and she still had to go to school. Had to do her homework, be a cheerleader, act like a normal teenage girl.
She found it while she was being normal, an innocent looking email on the outside. Out of curiousity she opened it, not recognising the sender.
An invitation to New York of all places, to meet with someone who knew what she was, and wanted to help her. Help her understand better. Twelve months ago she would have dismissed a paid ticket, and an invitation from someone she didn't know. Now all she could do was think when could she go.
She would go as soon as she could.
"This is crazy."
"What else am I supposed to do? There is nobody here who understands me," she said.
"What about me?"
"You know Zach, you accept it, but you'll never understand it. I barely understand it," she finished quietly.
"Fine, but running off to a perfect stranger in New York is pure madness. How do you know he actually wants to help you? Maybe he just wants to run tests on you, turn you into a bloody guinea-pig!"
"I don't know that! But I can't stay here any longer, and whatever they do to me, if they are like that. It won't last, and they wouldn't be able to hurt me forever."
"But while they do, it wouldn't be nice Claire, far from it."
"Maybe so, but I have to go."
He nodded his head, and stepped back a little as people rushed past them. "What should I tell your parents if they ask me where you are?" Zach asked as he watched the bus pull up.
"Tell them you don't know where I am, that you thought I was at home or something," she shrugged. "We aren't bestest friends anymore, remember? So it's not like I'd tell you anyway."
"Of course," he said with a small smile. "I'll claim ignorant."
She looked up at the bus watching the people get on, turning to him. "Thank you Zach, for everything. What you did before, and then after, I doubt I'd have stayed sane without you."
"Nothing to it," he smiled, with a little trace of pink in his cheeks.
"But thank you," she said again, reaching up and kissing his cheek softly. "I better get on."
"Yeah," he said looking at the bus driver. "Good luck Claire."
She took a deep breath, and hopped aboard the bus bound for New York. Finding her seat quickly, she looked out the window and saw him standing there watching. Sitting on his bike ready to leave. Pressing a hand to the window as the bus pulled away, he nodded as he left her sight.
She was doing the right thing, it was the only option left to her.
It seemed typical, one more disappointment to put onto the others.
Her great saviour, the one that could help her, had told her that he could help her; had abandoned her. Claire had arrived at his apartment, and there was no one there. She had knocked, called, sat on his door step for an hour. According to the neighbours who had looked out when she first arrived, they hadn't seen him in weeks.
Well that just wasn't possible. Dr. Suresh had sent her that email only five days ago, maybe they just weren't very observant. He had to be around, she wouldn't be left all alone. Claire started to believe that maybe she was all alone when it turned five o'clock. She had been sitting here all afternoon, she was tired, it was getting cold, and she didn't particularly want to spend all evening sitting outside a strangers apartment.
She hopped up, and put her bag over her shoulder, and headed towards the stairs, when she heard someone coming up. The footsteps slowed as they neared the top, and a tall man appeared around the corner, coming up the final lot of steps.
"Excuse me," she said, stepping closer. "You aren't Dr. Suresh are you?"
"No," he said softly. "I was just coming to find him myself."
"Well you wasted a trip," she said bitterly. "He's not here."
"Oh, that's a shame," he sighed. Leaning against the rail. "I was so sure he'd be able to help me."
"Help you? He was going to help you too?"
"He said he would," he said standing up straight. "So you are special?"
"I suppose you could say that," she smiled slightly. "A curse, and a blessing. I don't quite understand it"
"Well maybe if Dr. Suresh can't help us, we can help each other understand it."
Claire looked at him closely, he looked like her, lost and confused. She knew she couldn't stay here, and here was someone like her. "I have nowhere to stay."
"That's fine, you can stay with me if you like."
"I don't even know your name," she said.
"Gabriel, Gabriel Gray," he told her as they started walking down the stairs.
"Claire Bennett, do you really think you can help me?"
"I can only try."