Pressure
by IndestructibleDreams

Chapter Two

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Claire Bennet and Peter Petrelli
Manhattan, New York

Claire had finally calmed down. Evening was approaching, and Claire had already changed into a tank top and a pair of pajama pants. She had been going, going, going for nearly twenty hours, and she wanted nothing more than to relax. She took a moment to glance around Peter's apartment while he was in the kitchen; his apartment was large, with high ceilings, but he kept it simple. A dark blue couch and armchair, a coffee table, a couple of lamps, and a television were the only things in the living room. She could see back into his bedroom from the living room – it was just as simple. Large, plain bed, bedside table, one small lamp. She also saw a bookshelf stacked high with thick novels. The apartment was an old one, she could tell by the aged wooden door, with its peeling paint, and the equally aged and scathed wooden floor.

"Here," Peter's voice was as gentle as his eyes as he handed her a warm mug. Without giving whatever liquid it was a moment to cool, Claire brought the mug up to her lips and took a sip. Hot chocolate. It was burning hot, but Claire couldn't feel the heat. She offered him a forced smile before sitting the mug down on the table beside her. He looked equally as tired as she felt. Her eyes drifted again, meeting the blue of the couch. She didn't know where to start. Peter deserved an explanation as to why she was there, but the words were backed up in her throat.

"I didn't know where to go," She began. Her voice was meek, so unlike Claire. Her eyes wouldn't meet his, but stayed glued to the couch. "This whole time my dad's been lying to me. My entire life. I can't trust him anymore. After Jackie died, when you saved me, he had some…man…erase my best friend and my brother's memories. Mom's too. Dad sent him to wipe mine, too, but he didn't. I just…I don't understand any of it," Claire's eyes narrowed in concentration, and her face finally tilted up, meeting Peter's. "I hated lying to my father about my memory. I hated playing dumb. At least I did until I thought more and more about how long he had been lying to me, and I just got so angry." Once she started the words wouldn't stop.

"I found her, too. My birth mother." She nodded slightly, mostly to herself. "She lived about two hours away from me. I tried to…I guess make a relationship with her. I wanted to know her," Claire looked up now, her eyes meeting Peter's. "The only things she told me were that my birth father is dead, she's a fire starter, that she was going back to Mexico, and that I shouldn't call her anymore."

Peter reached to her, his hand resting on the crook of her elbow comfortingly. Since Homecoming, he had been faced with equally as many troubles; the haunting nightmares, the lack of support from Nathan, and the constant worry that he was going to destroy New York City.

"You've been through a lot, for somebody so young." The twenty-six year old's eyes held more wisdom than any normal man his age. Most Peter-aged guys were only worried about their next business move, how many women they could pick up at the bar. Not Peter, though. No, Peter had real concerns, real worries.

And one of Peter's main concerns was keeping Claire Bennet safe.

Save the cheerleader, save the world.

He took that extremely seriously. Claire would have died the night of her Homecoming had Peter not sacrificed himself for her – luckily he had adapted her regenerative powers, and lived to see the days ahead. Claire hadn't been absent from his thoughts since that night in Odessa – she had been there in his nightmarish coma-induced dreams, and she had been an ever-present staple in his day-to-day thoughts.

Apparently he had been in her thoughts as well.

He couldn't tear his eyes away from the tiny eighteen-year-old. She seemed vulnerable, even through her invincibility. He could see her heart breaking right in front of his eyes, and this made his heart go out to her. She was young and confused, and had no where else to turn but to him. He was her hero, and he felt good about that. She needed him now more than anyone or anything had ever needed him.

A soft smile crossed his features as he pulled her closer to him, wrapping her in a gentle hug. She seemed to collapse against him, the exhaustion and confusion of the last few weeks washing over her. She buried her face in his chest, her legs tucked underneath her.

"You have nothing to worry about, Claire. You're safe here."

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The Bennet Family
Odessa, Texas

"She's gone."

Lyle's words were crushing to hear. He and his parents had been at the hospital for the better part of the afternoon, a very trying experience, only to come home and find Claire missing. Only a simple note was left: 'I'm safe. Don't call.'

Her mother didn't understand. Lyle seemed indifferent to the situation. But he knew. Her father knew exactly why Claire had ran. And, contrary to what Claire believed, he knew where she was running to.

Stay calm, she'll be fine.

His command to his wife and son had been simple. They were to act as if nothing was wrong. He promised to have Claire home within the next two days.

Locked away in his home office, he flipped the cell phone open, dialing the familiar number of his New York colleague.

"Simone," His greeting was simple. "Claire is missing."

The woman on the other end of the line had secretly been working for 'Primatech' for nearly as long as he had been. On the outside, though, she was simply Simone Deveaux, art dealer, daughter of Charles Deveaux. Her assignments had been simple throughout the years; to become romantically linked to as many of them as possible. Her two most notable assignments were Isaac Mendez and Peter Petrelli.

She did her job quite well, if she did say so herself. Isaac had fallen in love with her almost instantly, and she had received close to the same result from Peter. They spilled everything to her; Isaac's incredible ability to paint future happenings, and Peter…dear, sweet Peter, who adapted the abilities of the others he was around.

That included Claire Bennet.

"Not to worry. She'll be found." Simone's reply was equally as simple, before closing the phone.

It was lucky for her that Peter Petrelli was wrapped around her little finger. Or so she thought.

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Author's Note: Yay, the story is starting to pick up some steam! Thanks to all of my reviewers so far – ms.renziie-, XunspokendisasterX, Arianette, TrueNightingale, dtng4ever, and SkyRogue. You guys really made my day when I saw the reviews! Anyway, leave me some love and tell me what you're thinking so far, and what you'd like to see go on – I love getting feedback from all of my readers!

-ID