Title: "Home"
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 2,642
Characters: Peter/Claire (canon), Claire/Alex (implied)
Summary: After she loses Nathan's protection, Claire is free to run back to the only person who's ever made her feel safe.
Spoilers: AU after 3.17
Disclaimer: Nothing is mine, just borrowing from NBC and Tim Kring. I am not profiting financially from this. Please don't sue!
Author's Notes: Written after 3.17; my version of what Claire might have done after helping Alex at the comic book store.

"Home"
by Viv

She misses Peter.

Although if anyone asked, Claire wouldn't be able to say what precisely she misses about him.

Maybe she misses his idealism; his obstinacy against the odds. Or maybe she misses the child-like innocence that sometimes plays across his features even in the solemnest of moments.

Or maybe it's his love of hot dogs, or appreciation of art and beauty in the most unlikeliest of places; or his knack of lightening the mood whenever things get too tense and unbearable.

Most likely it's all of the above.

She likes to think a part of that could have rubbed off onto her if their lives had intersected more; if she'd been allowed to know Peter as a friend (and uncle) for real. But as it is, she's only seen him a handful of times since those New York halcyon days, when they'd talked of flying and Superman and wearing underpants on the outside.

More than anything else, she misses the kid she'd been, with him.

She misses the girl who'd jumped onto his back and asked for a piggy back just because; misses the giggle that bubbles from somewhere near her diaphragm and erupts at a joke he makes or a goofy expression he pulls. Misses the simplicity of thinking of something other than life and death and rebels and rescues and being on the run; thinks that it's aged her way before her time.

She's 17 but her real age is indeterminate. Age is only a number when fighting a war she hasn't asked for.

Peter's been forced to go on the run from their own government and the whole thing is, as Alex says, royally and epically fucked up. Her two fathers are hunting Peter, Matt, Mohinder and the others like animals, turning law abiding citizens into fugitives. Up is down and down is up and when the Hunter shows up one day on her motel doorstep with tasers and team at the ready, she knows Nathan's lost his influence on the hill for good.

So she does what she does best, and runs. But Claire isn't scared; she has no fear of being caught.

Because it's her chance to run back to him. She'd left him in the middle of nowhere running for his life and it seems only appropriate she runs back to him now. He's the only one who's ever understood her, made her feel like she isn't alone in the universe. With Peter, she doesn't feel like a freak but a perfectly normal girl.

After all, she's only ever wanted to be normal.

* * * * *

It takes only a few weeks, but she works out why she likes Alex so much; had liked him even from moment she had first laid eyes on him.

He's smart, sensitive, trusting, caring; a dreamer. In short, he's Peter as a younger man, albeit one who can breathe underwater (which is all sorts of cool, in a freaky, awesome way).

She discovers how their emotions play off each like two counterpoints in a melody. Everything they do resonates and it isn't just that she's attracted to the way he looks (because let's face it, he's about seven different kinds of hot) but in a way, he reminds her of both Peter and Zach, an amalgam of cool and geek and excitement and idealism all rolled into one athletic, slightly short sighted package.

The fact that he has a hidden ability of his own only emphasises their bond.

So yeah, she isn't afraid to admit that a part of why she likes spending time with Alex is that he reminds her of people and happier times gone by. Except she's moved on and the roles have changed; she's the hero in this scenario and he the cheerleader because she no longer needs to be rescued. She's the one who showed up into his perfectly normal life unannounced and plunged it into persecution and danger. It's her responsibility now to keep him from being caught and she constantly moves them on, recalling places and names from her dad's files that frankly she's surprised she remembers. Who knew that the cheerleader had a brain?

When she blurts out her thoughts to Alex he only laughs, is far from being offended at the comparison. Kisses her and says she's the only girl in the world who could get him into a cheerleading outfit, not that he would. She'd smiled coyly and teased, not that he would, but knew that if she asked, he totally would.

It's funny how close they've become even in a short few weeks.

He's the only thing she regrets when she's forced to run. There's no time to let him know the whys and wherefores, no time to say goodbye; doesn't want to think that she'd seen him for the last time in the dimly lit Las Vegas motel room they'd shared for the last few days.

Claire's not a religious girl but she prays in the days and weeks ahead that Alex will be able work out where she's gone and follow her, or keep himself hidden without her help. She isn't exactly worried about him; he's smart and savvy and a demon with the computer even if he does get distracted by comics, but she needs to know he's safe because she wouldn't be able to run without that knowledge.

Knows that she's made a choice by taking this chance to run away; knows that if she'd wanted to, she could find her way back to Alex and they'd go back to being on the run, together.

But as it is, she chooses. Chooses to run to the only person who's ever made her feel safe, to the person who's never broken a promise to her.

Not like Nathan and certainly, not like her dad.

* * * * *

It doesn't phase Claire at first that she has no idea where Peter is; he's on the run after all. What makes her think she can just up and find him? He's a pinprick in a sea of six billion people and her ability is absolutely no use in this situation.

She knows it could take her a lifetime without help, so she adopts a riskier strategy. She's a girl well accustomed to risk now and this one is the riskiest of them all.

She flatters herself in thinking it's a well calculated one but let's face it; she's brash and pig headed at the best of times and anyone else in her situation would baulk at her plan. But she's still her and it's the best and only plan she has.

Despite the bravado, she's glad when she finds Angela alone in the Petrelli house. Knows she's lucky to not have run into Nathan and even though she's not religious, thinks that maybe God is doing what he can to further their cause.

So she peers through the window, allows her grandmother to see her.

It's a credit to the older lady that she barely reacts seeing a known terrorist and fugitive at her open window.

* * * * *

By subtle signals, Claire understands they're to meet at the bottom of the garden, away from prying eyes. Not that she needed signals to understand the last part.

She waits patiently for Angela there, is happy to put her burden down if only for a while. She's taken a gamble and if it doesn't work, well – it doesn't work.

The garden reminds her of the first time she was in it. Peter had taken her out after they'd first discovered their relation. He'd known, somehow, how incredibly confusing it'd been for her, finding out about Nathan and Meredith and it had helped her a lot to have a friendly face who knew just how hard it was to feel out of place in a world where she supposedly belonged.

To say that Angela is not at all pleased that Claire's in her garden when she's on the run from the law would have been the understatement of the century; but to her grandmother's credit she never utters that one sentence that would have guaranteed Claire's ire.

You shouldn't have come here.

They talk, quickly and quietly, indeed away from prying eyes. Angela doesn't know where her other son his but knows people who would know. Warns her to be careful but not for herself; she doesn't want Claire to lead them directly to Peter and anyone he's with.

Claire understands the risk; knows she'll die before betraying Peter like that.

When she bids Angela farewell, Claire thinks it's one of only a handful of times she feels a true kinship with Angela Petrelli. The cold, ruthless empire-building woman evidently still has enough of a heart to care where her other son is, and to make sure he's safe. In a sense.

Despite the bond, Claire's glad to go. Every minute she remains in New York is another minute she doesn't find Peter.