A/N: Written pre-Gretchen moving out.
Claire closed her eyes and sighed; she really hated this class. She wasn't even sure why she was taking it. In fact, she didn't know what she was doing in college in the first place. Once it had seemed like a good idea, but now she knew it would wind up being a waste of time. Pretty soon someone or something would interrupt her new dull routine.
Wasn't college supposed to be exciting? Parties, fun, guys. Instead, her experience so far had been a series of classes, secrets, and lots of spare time. She opened her eyes to check the clock; ten minutes left. Would this class never end? Blah blah blah, something about cell division, blah bah blah. She really was bored; five minutes. Yadda yadda yadda, don't really care. People standing up; time to go.
Yawning, Claire squeezed into the line heading for the door. Geez, what was taking so long? She stood on her tiptoes but couldn't see. Leaning sideways, she saw a group of smiling girls blocking the flow out of the classroom, but she couldn't see what they were looking at.
Finally, she got close enough to the front to see what was happening. Four girls were forming a semi-circle around a tall, dark haired man. Although she couldn't see his face yet, Claire had to admit his body was enough to catch her attention. Not that she was whore enough to stop escape from that dreaded classroom just to gawk at him. She did however, consider joining a second group of girls a little further away still watching him.
Eventually, she squeezed out of the door and made for the small gathering.
"Claire," her name rolled off his tongue with ease. She froze, further blocking the hallway; she'd know that voice anywhere. "I've been waiting for you." He had moved directly behind her now. She could feel him there, hovering over her shoulder.
Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath and turned around. "Peter! Hey! What are you doing here?" She groaned inwardly at the way she had been checking out her uncle, as she hugged him.
"We need to talk." His soft eyes warned that it wasn't going to be pleasant.
"Great," she mumbled, leading him to her dorm room. She was hyper aware of all the girls staring after them. She knew the questions that would surround her later. Locking the door behind them to avoid a nosy Gretchen, she waited for him to start.
Peter sat on the edge of her bed and turned his serious gaze to her. "We may have a problem."
"Of course we do. What is it this time?"
"Perfect." She flopped on the other side of the bed. "What's he want?"
"Not sure. He's working with a group of some very talented people. They seem pretty focused on you for now."
She felt the familiar dread creeping into her chest. Not knowing what to say, she opened her mouth and closed it again. Why did this always happen to her? And why did it always have to involve Sylar?
"Don't worry; I'll stay close. You'll be fine."
"Since when does Sylar have co-workers anyway?"
Peter shook his head and shrugged. "After the whole Parkman memory loss thing, I guess. Your dad thinks they're the ones who helped him get it back." They were both quiet a moment as they thought of Nathan.
"So what do we do now?"
Claire drug herself out of her chair; she really should just drop this class. If she could stay awake, she might actually know what the professor was talking about. And while she loved Peter and appreciated what he was doing for her, the female reaction to his presence was driving her mad. Every day was similar to the first; he waited outside of her classroom and girls surrounded him. And Peter, being Peter, was too nice a guy to blow them off; which of course only encouraged them.
There he was now, and unless she was mistaken, Peter was flirting back. Some tarty looking blonde was giggling and holding onto his forearm, much to his apparent delight. Sighing, she relaxed against the wall waiting for her escort.
"Bored yet? I know I am."
Claire opened her mouth to yell for Peter but a hand clamped tightly over her lips. "Ah-ah-ah, none of that," Sylar whispered into her ear. His other hand wrapped around her waist, pulling her close to his warm body. "We wouldn't want any innocent little students to get hurt."
Ceasing her struggles, she allowed him to pull her backwards into a small, dark janitor's closet. Keeping quiet after he removed his hand was hard, but she didn't want to draw attention and cause someone to be murdered.
"We'll keep this short and to the point. Tell Noah to back off or there will be consequences."
"Fine," she growled.
"Such a temper." He smirked and shook his head. He reached a hand towards her hair but she jerked away.
"It won't work you know. Whatever he's doing, he won't quit."
"I'm only playing fair; he should know what he's risking. Besides, the fact that I can get to his sweet little Claire anytime I want, should sway his mind."
"I'd keep Uncle Peter real close than, if I were you. Never know when I'll be back. Or if I'll be alone." He shifted and gripped the door handle, but didn't turn it. "What power does dear Pete have these days?"
Claire snorted. "Like I'd tell you."
He tilted his head sarcastically at her. "Be nice Claire…You know, in your position, I'd take a day or two to send him after an ability worth having. Something that might actually help him stand up to me." He turned away. "Or let him get close enough to borrow mine." He opened the door and was gone before she had a chance to process what he said.
Why did his threat sound more like advise? Of all her…visits from Sylar, that had to be one of the strangest. Seriously, now not only did he work with other people with abilities instead of slicing open their heads, but he also delivered a warning without hurting anyone. He just wasn't behaving in typical Sylar fashion. And it left her a little off balanced.
"Right here, Peter." She stepped out of the closet. The tart was gone and her uncle seemed his usual solemn self again. "We need to talk, now."
She ignored the shiver that ran down her back and the feeling of eyes on her as she rushed Peter back to her dorm room.
"Wait, so he told you I needed to be powerful? And that I should leave you for a couple days?" He crossed his arms, leaning against her desk. "That's not gonna happen. He wants me gone so he can get to you."
"I think he pretty much proved that he can get to me whenever he wants." She ran a nervous hand through her hair. "What's my dad up to?"
"I don't know. He only shared the parts that involved you being in danger. You talked to him; what did he say?"
"Not much. Listened to Sylar's message, told me to stay close to you. Whatever he's doing, he's not going to stop."
"Then it must be important."
"That's what he always says. The question is, who is it important to?"
"And who's gonna benefit?"
"So…what is your current ability?"
"Uh, manipulating ink."
"…Ink?" He rubbed his neck and nodded, looking sheepish. "And what are you gonna do with that? Draw a scary picture?" She held out her hand so Peter could absorb her power.
"Funny, very funny." He accepted the offer. "I only need to touch Sylar."
"Which he was kind enough to remind us. Don't you find that just a little bit odd?"
"Yeah, a little," he admitted. "But the guy isn't exactly Mr. Normal, you know."
"I know, but-"
"But what Claire? This is Sylar, we're talking about. What do you think? He was trying to help us?"
"No, I didn't say that." She felt ridiculous because it had crossed her mind a time or two.
"Good. He's a killer, Claire. You can't trust him."
"I know that." However, she couldn't help but think of the times that he had been honest with her when the rest of them felt the need to lie to 'protect' her. Frustrated, she knew Peter was right. Sylar was psychotic. One minute he was proposing to her, the next he was attacking her family. She was also aware that he threw her from the room and locked her out. And part of her knew that he was trying to protect her from himself, in his own sick way. "It's just that none of this makes sense. Sylar could've killed me so many times, really killed me, but he didn't. And I know his disgusting reasoning for it, but still, why would that suddenly change now?"
"I don't know and we don't need to know. He's the bad guy and so are these carnival people."
"I'm sorry," she paused, "did you say 'carnival people'?"
"Yeah, Noah said they have a carnival."
"So…carnies…are after me now? What's that all about?"
"Like I said, he didn't give me all the details."
"Riiiight." She rolled her eyes as Gretchen fiddled with the lock, trying to get in. It always took her a few tries.
"Hey Claire," Gretchen strolled in, ignoring Peter entirely. She wasn't happy with their new roommate. Claire had explained that he was her uncle but she still didn't like that Peter was accompanying her to all of her classes now.
"Hey." Claire caught a glimpse of Peter rolling his eyes. "So, what are we doing this weekend?"
She threw a glare at Peter. "Nothing. I'm going home to visit my folks. I thought maybe you'd want to come with me…"
"Oh! Well, I can't really go anywhere right now." She glanced at her uncle, who was shaking his head. "I think I'm going to visit my dad this weekend anyway. We have a few things we need to discuss."
"I could go with you."
"Um, I don't think-"
"You really shouldn't get involved in this. If they think you and Claire are close, they might try to use you too."
"Bet you're going though," she said bitterly.
"Of course he's going. He's my uncle and he's trying to protect me here." Claire was seriously tired of the whole jealous friend thing. She had made a point that she wasn't interested in Gretchen that way. That she had only been a little curious and confused that day in the trunk. What she didn't tell her, was that she completely regretted that moment of wanting to spare her friend's feelings. She had been afraid she would lose her only friend, now she almost wished she had; the girl was a non-stop jealous machine.
"You know, I don't know if I believe your whole 'he's my uncle' story. I mean how old is he anyway?" She stage whispered, further irritating Claire and getting a huff from Peter.
"We really don't have time for this," Peter interrupted. "If we're going to make it to your last class, we have to get going."
"Right. Gretch, we'll talk later. Okay?"
"Yeah, sure. Later."
Claire ground her teeth in frustration and wished she'd have a new roommate by the time she returned.
A/N: This is going to be several chapters, not sure how many. Thanks for reading! Don't forget to review.