Author's Note: Hey everyone! This is my first Heroes fanfic, so don't be too harsh. Hope you all enjoy it! It is an AU fic; Claire is not Nathan's daughter, and she's eighteen. PostTheFix.

Disclaimer: I do not own Heroes or anything related to Heroes; I'm but a lowly fan writing a story.

Pressure
by IndestructibleDreams

Claire Bennet
Odessa, Texas

Claire Bennet paced. She was worried and she was scared, but she knew what she was doing was right. Her house was empty; Lyle, her mother, and her father were at the hospital, her mother having another appointment with the neurologist. She had a good two hours at her disposal to get everything together and get out of the house.

A plain white canvas duffel lay open on her bed, still empty. All of her dresser drawers had been thrown open, allowing her the quick choice of clothing she would bring with her. Her toothbrush, hair brush, and perfume sat in zip-lock bags next to the duffel. Those would go in last. Shaking her head, she emptied a drawer full of socks and underwear into the bag, followed by jeans, simple cotton t-shirts, and a few pairs of pajamas. She didn't need to pack heavy. She just needed to pack and go.

She slung the bag over her shoulder and descended down the stairs. Her Sidekick was safely tucked into an inner pocket of her light blue zip-up hoodie, along with a hundred and fifty dollars. She didn't know how long it would have to last her. She wasn't sure of anything at the moment.

With one last goodbye to her house, Claire turned and left, locking the door behind her.

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The blonde's eyes fluttered open as the early morning sun streamed in through the Greyhound window. It was only about six a.m., and Claire had been on the bus since leaving her house in Odessa the day before. She only had so much money saved up, and needed to save as much as she could, just in case. A Greyhound ticket was much cheaper than a plane ticket to New York. She sat up, cracking her neck. Sleeping on a bus wasn't fun. It didn't help that her stomach was growling from hunger, and she was still scared out of her mind. She couldn't trust her father right now, and had to leave. Odessa didn't feel safe anymore. Claire didn't feel safe anymore. She rubbed sleep out of her eyes and curled her legs underneath her indian-style. Pulling her Sidekick out of her pocket, she flipped it open. She had twelve missed calls, all from home. But she wouldn't return the call. She wouldn't let anything, any indication of where she was going slip.

There was only one person that Claire Bennet felt she could trust, and she was running straight to him. Claire only hoped that Peter Petrelli remembered who the hell she was.

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Peter Petrelli
Manhattan, New York

His mind had been jumbled since he had awoken from the coma. The last waking thought he had was diving five stories off of a stadium to protect…her. Claire was her name. The cheerleader. Save the cheerleader, save the world.

So many dreams. Premonitions, he thought to himself. New York blowing up…because of him. Peter was the exploding man. It had repeated so many times in his head he had every tiny detail memorized. He knew that unless he learned to control the power, come November Eighth, Peter Petrelli was going up in smoke, and New York was coming with him.

He sighed and ran a hand over his face; he was sure that purple bags drooped underneath his eyes, and his face was stubbly. It was then and there that he decided that he couldn't just sit and ponder on this. He had to do something. Anything.

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Claire Bennet
Entering New York

Nineteen hours and counting. Nineteen hours since Claire Bennet left Odessa. Nineteen hours she had been on this Godforsaken bus. She had been in the same outfit – blue jeans, pink Nike Shox, a plain white cotton t-shirt, and her blue zip-up hoodie for two days. She had pulled her blonde waves up into a pony tail that morning, having not washed it since the morning she left. She was exhausted; she couldn't afford a hotel room during their night-long stopover in Virginia. She had just stayed on the bus, napping on and off in the stiff seat.

Each minute she was on the bus her heart broke a little more. She wanted so badly to call her parents, tell them that everything was okay, but another part of her never wanted to speak to her father again. She wasn't even sure if her mother would remember her. Lyle probably didn't even care. The only thing that was currently looking bright for her were the skyscrapers in the distance; she was finally in New York.

She looked at her hand; a scrap of paper with messy writing was enclosed in it. Before leaving for home, Peter had scribbled his phone number and address down, just in case she needed anything. Probably just being nice…Claire thought. It wouldn't have surprised her if he turned her away at the door. She wanted to call him, to tell him that she was coming, but she couldn't. She couldn't risk it. What she was sure was an irrational fear haunted her thoughts now; what if her father had somehow tapped her cell phone? What if he found out where she was going? No, she just couldn't risk it.

Claire sighed and rested her head on the seat. It would be another forty minutes before they reached their final destination and she could finally look for Peter. Her eyes closed, and the events of the past two weeks came rushing back to her once again. Sylar, Jackie's death, Peter's heroic acts. She also thought of her father's lies; all of those lies she had been fed since she was young. She honestly wanted to accept her father's apologies this time, to believe him once more, but she couldn't do it. She had a strange feeling at the pit of her stomach that her father would end up hurting her far worse than this.

Her birth mother had also been a source of stress for the young cheerleader. Meredith Gordon was…nice, but obviously didn't want to get to know her long lost daughter. All she told Claire was that she was a fire starter, and that her father was dead. He had been in the apartment fire with the two of them, but he was the only one that didn't make it out. After only two visits, Meredith had told Claire that she was going back to Mexico, where she had retreated for so many years, and that Claire shouldn't contact her.

She was shaken from her thoughts when the bus came to a halt. She had apparently been deeper in her thoughts than expected. She offered a smile to the bus driver as she exited, canvas bag slung over her shoulder, tired eyes downcast. The Greyhound station was located right in the heart of New York City. With one look around, Claire decided that she was already hopelessly lost. She had never been to New York, let alone by herself. But she wouldn't let this get in her way. Stay calm, Claire. Just step inside that store and ask for directions. It can't be that far away.

And she did just that. A convenience store was right next to the Greyhound station, and she walked right in, showed the clerk Peter's address, and they pointed her in the right direction. It was only about a mile away, nearly a straight shot from where she was. It was a warm day for October, and Claire would enjoy the walk. She set out from the station, hands tucked into her hoodie pockets. Her eyes were kept downcast as she walked the mile trek to Peter's apartment complex. Deciding to move her phone and money into her bag, she pulled them out of her pocket.

But before she could slip them into her canvas duffel, something solid, yet invisible ran directly into her; she was caught off guard and fell to the ground. While it was true that any cut or bruise she may have received from the fall would heal nearly instantly, it didn't help her pride any to seemingly just fall in the middle of a crowded street.

Worse yet, when she went to get up, her money was gone.

She couldn't decide whether or not she wanted to curse or cry. But as her trek continued on to Peter's apartment, the waterworks started. A few fat tears made their way down her bronzed cheeks at first, and by the time she reached his building, she was full out sobbing. Another tearful glance at the paper in her hands told her to head to room 303; there was no elevator in the shabby old apartment building, so she slowly traveled up the stairs three flights, and found his apartment easily. As she reached his door, she sucked up her sobbing and wiped the tears off of her face, and reached up with one tiny hand, knocking lightly on the door.

Footsteps were heard inside, followed by the door creaking open. And there was Peter Petrelli, in all of his Italian, awkward glory.

"I…I'm sorry to just burst in on you like this," Claire began, trying her hardest to keep her voice from cracking. The pressure from the past weeks was finally catching up to her, and she almost felt like all she could do right now was cry. "I don't know if you even remember…"

"Claire, come in." Peter said gently, touching the blonde's elbow. And that was when she lost it again. He pulled her inside of the apartment, took her bag from her and sat it on the floor, and led her over to the couch. He sat down first and she sat next to him, and he automatically pulled her into a hug, comforting the small girl. She buried her face into his chest and let out all of her emotions, sobbing hopelessly like a child.

"I'm so sorry," She sniffed through her tears. "For not calling, just showing up. I just…I didn't know where else to go." Her sobs finally subsided once more, and she shyly looked at Peter. She had convinced herself that he was going to hand her bag right back to her and tell her to leave.

He smiled at her, reaching to her cheek and brushing her tears away. "You're welcome here, Claire. Always."