Author's Note: This is going to be multi-chaptered (I hope) and a great new thing for me is that I kind of know what is going to happen in this story and when it's going to happen. So enjoy, and let me know what you think of it!
Chapter One: The Loneliest Day of My Life
Claire Bennet had finally become what she always had wanted to be; a normal girl. A cheerleader with a good-looking boyfriend and all A's, not a freak who could cut off her own toe and watch it grow back. Being normal came with a small price, she had had to leave her hometown of Odessa, Texas, and move to Costa Verde, California. And her last name was now Butler, as far as anyone concerned. But these were very small sacrifices for her freedom and the happiness of her family.
When she had come home from school that day, she had fed Mr. Muggles and plopped onto her bed to get some studying done. After about an hour of advanced geometry, she could hear her father come home from work.
"Anyone home?" she heard him call from downstairs and she looked up from her books, leaning her chin on the palm of her hand.
"I'm in my room studying," she called back and returned to the book, knowing that her father would soon be knocking on her door.
Sure enough, a minute later there was a knock and she told him to come in. He was smiling but he looked pretty tired, and Claire thought of how much he'd been working lately. She knew that he really was trying to get by with this new job, and she was very proud of his hard work.
"Honey, I have to work tonight," he said calmly, still smiling and resting a hand on the doorknob. "There was some crisis at a book company and I have to deliver some paper."
"Okay, dad," Claire said, smiling back at him. This was a normal occurrence and one of the things that made her proud of him. "Have a nice night."
He nodded. "See you tomorrow," he then said and left, closing the door behind him.
A couple of minutes later, she heard the door open and close. Sighing, she got back to her studies. After another hour, the words began to blur together and her wrist was feeling sore, so she gave up. Not knowing what to do next, and as she didn't want to disturb her mother - who was lying in her bed three rooms away with a migraine - Claire ruled out listening to music or watching TV.
She spotted her cell phone on her desk and got an idea. Of course, why hadn't she thought of it earlier?
Tone after tone rang out and Claire started to think he wouldn't answer. Just as she was about to hang up, he did.
"Hey," West said, sounding breathless.
"Hey you," said Claire, smiling. "Where are you?"
There was a silence, and Claire thought she could hear that he was outside somewhere.
"Uh, nowhere," he finally answered. "Just at home, studying."
Claire frowned. Was he lying to her?
"Okay," she said uncertainly. "What are you doing later tonight, then? Do you want to hang out or something?"
"Can't," her boyfriend answered quickly. "It's just that I have all this homework, so I really think I should spend the night on that. But tomorrow, for sure."
"Alright," she sighed. "Call me tomorrow?"
"You know I will," West said warmly, and Claire smiled.
They hung up at the same time and Claire sighed again. This was turning out to be a very boring night.
Later that night, she was lying on her bed with her feet on the pillow, staring up at the dimly lit ceiling. She came to think about her biological father and what he was doing right this moment, but she quickly stopped the thought when her heart constricted. Thoughts of Nathan always led to thoughts of Peter. Peter, who had saved her life. Peter, who had made her stomach do some weird fluttering thing. Peter, who had turned out to be her uncle. Peter, who had died to save the world.
She made a choked noise and wiped her eyes. There was no point in thinking about him. He wasn't coming back to save her anymore. She was all alone with her secret. West didn't have that quality, the need to save the world, or at least do something. He just thought it was cool that he could fly. She almost chuckled ironically. That boy really had depth. But then she felt guilty. West had done nothing to deserve her ridicule, he had always been there for her when she needed him. He had done his best to protect her from what he could. And she was very thankful that he was willing to be with her, even though he knew what she could do to herself.
But she still missed Peter. She couldn't talk to West about him, or any of the members of her biological family. Her adoptive father had strictly forbidden it. But she couldn't figure out why Peter died. Didn't he have her healing powers anymore? Had he forgotten how to use them? Had he been too scared or too hurt to use them? The last thought made her throat burn and she sniffed quietly.
Her cell phone beeped suddenly right next to her ear, and she almost jumped in fright. She had received text message from someone with an anonymous caller ID. Claire frowned, everyone she knew had public caller ID.
Go to your school, on the side of your gymnasium. Be prepared for what you will see.
Her heart was thumping wildly. Was this some kind of joke? Would someone be standing there waiting for her? Was someone trying to kill her?
She didn't know, but she had to find out.
Ten minutes later, she was standing at the front entrance of the gym. She wrapped her coat around her more tightly and waited for something – anything – to happen.
After five minutes, something did. She heard a call for help and turned around quickly. It came from the other side of the gym. Her heart started beating faster. When she looked around the corner, what would she see?
She quietly pressed against the wall, peering around the corner of the building, and almost called out in surprise.
Two men were standing, looking towards the wall. Another man was lying on the ground, propped up against the wall. One of the men was holding a gun and pointing it at the man on the ground, who was whining and begging for his life. Claire couldn't see who the man without a man was, but the armed man she knew very well.
It was her father.
"If you won't cooperate with us, I'm sorry that we'll have to bid you goodbye," her father was saying, and Claire felt bile rise in her throat.
"No," the man moaned, and she saw that his nose was bleeding and he had a huge black eye. "Please don't."
Claire watched her father's face intently, tears running down her own. He gave the man a small smile and then he pulled the trigger.
She saw that the gun had a long round thing on it that made the sound muffled. The shot man gasped and blood began running down from his mouth. Claire's father looked at the man next to him, who seemed very nervous. Claire wished she could see his face, to see if he was as upset about this as she was, but her father grabbed his shoulder and they went the opposite way of where she was standing.
Claire turned around, walked a few steps but stopped and emptied her stomach into a nearby trashcan.
A couple of hours later, she was on a plane to New York. Sneaking out from her house hadn't been easy. When she got home her father was there, smiling at her as if she hadn't just seen him kill a defenceless life. She had given him a brief acknowledgement and ran up the stairs.
She packed quickly and left everything she wouldn't need in the next day or so, and jumped out the window. When she ran down the street, she thought of how stupid she had been, and that thought tormented her on the flight as well. She spent hours thinking of the betrayal of her father, and ever so often Peter popped into her mind as well, but she pushed all thoughts down after a while and started listening to her iPod instead.
After a cab ride which had cost her almost all of the money she had, she was standing at the gates of the Petrelli Mansion. She was breathing hard, as if she'd just ran, and pulled the gates open. The garden was spectacular and Claire stopped many times to just stare in awe at the exotic flowers and exquisite plants that were all around her. When she reached the front doors, she came back to reality and took a deep breath before knocking twice.
A beautiful woman opened the door. She looked to be in her mid-thirties with shoulder length dark hair and red lips.
"Yes?" she said politely. "What can I do for you?"
Claire looked at her uncertainly. "My name is Claire," she said in a low voice.
The woman looked confused for a second, and then understanding dawned on her face. "Oh," she said in a startled voice. "You're Claire?"
Claire nodded, looking away from her. She didn't know why, but she felt ashamed for being there. The woman looked at her for another second and then she began to smile at her.
"Come in, Claire," she said in a warm voice, and Claire felt surprise surge through her body.
This woman has to be Nathan's wife, and she's inviting Claire in and treating her with respect? She was almost too stunned to move before her stepmother gestured for her to come in.
"Please sit down," Heidi said politely when they reached what would be called the living room in any simpler house. Claire obeyed her, folding her hands on her lap. "I'll go get Nathan for you."
Claire took deep breaths while she waited, and looked around at the mansion. She never thought she would set her foot here again after… It looked exactly the same. She realized she was sitting exactly where she had pulled a piece of glass out of Peter's head, and the thought made her heart constrict again. How she wished she could pull a piece of glass out of him again, just to have her hero back.
"Claire?" she heard someone exclaim in a surprised voice from the stairs.
Recognizing the voice, she turned around and smiled politely. "Hello."
Nathan hurried down the stairs and stood in front of her, gaping down at her. Then he seemed to remember himself and gave her a quick, practically emotionless hug and sat next to her on the couch.
"What are you doing here, Claire?" he said, and Claire was surprised to hear that he didn't sound hostile, just startled.
"I…" she began, but stopped when she heard steps thunder through the whole mansion, and someone came into view on the stairs, running so fast that he almost stumbled down them. Then he slung his long black hair back from his face and looked around frantically, eyes landing on her. She thought she was going to have a heart attack.
It was Peter.