She also needed to know if her father had hurt him. Had he erased his memories, too? If he was a mimic like the Haitian said, maybe his memories couldn't be erased. She needed to know someone else remembered the events of that night. She needed to know she wasn't alone. That her father wasn't really a monster.
The idea of her memories being altered was abhorrent to her. Had he done it before? The very thought sent shivers down her spine. Had there been times before the fire that she'd played hero? She supposed she'd never know.
She rang the bell, her hand shaking as she drew it away. What if he didn't remember her? What if he thought she was silly for coming all this way? What if?
Her thoughts were cut off by the door opening. There he was. She saw instantly he recognized her. Remembered her.
"It's you. You're here."
"How did you find me?"
"You'd be surprised what I can do."
"I guess so. Come in."
He stepped away from the door and she passed through the doorway. It was small. She imagined most people in New York had to settle for apartments like this. She'd heard it was incredibly expensive to live here. It wasn't something she thought much about, still living at home and all.
"You remember me?"
"Of course I do. Claire, the cheerleader. I almost didn't save you."
"But you did."
"Why did you let the other girl take the credit?"
Claire shrugged. "I was already considered a freak for hanging out with my friend Zach. Who, by the way, does not remember what happened anymore."
"Neither does my brother. It's okay, but that's why I had to come."
"Why?" His brow furrowed, and she realized she probably wasn't talking too linearly right now.
"I needed to be sure you remembered, that he hadn't gotten to you, too."
"My memories are intact."
"So, you came all this way just for that?"
She sat in a nearby chair. "I wanted to say thank you. I wasn't thinking clearly that night. Realizing, well, someone else, Jackie, died because of me," she shrugged. It was something she'd probably live with for the rest of her life. She'd been responsible, no matter how indirectly, for someone else dying. She hadn't made her claim to be the one to make the rescue. But, still, it was on her shoulders.
"It's not your fault."
"I know that. I mean, on most levels I know that, but there's a part of me."
He knelt in front of her, hands resting on her knees. He looked so cute. He had a way about him, soothing, calming. She could picture him helping others. Just like he'd helped her.
"You didn't make Sylar kill her. You didn't make him the way he is."
"No, I guess you're right."
She smiled, it was forced, but she was grateful he tried. It was just one of those things she'd have to process on her own.
"Anyway, I never got the chance to really thank you. You risked your life. You could have died. You were willing to do that. For me."
"I had to."
"You didn't have to."
"Save the cheerleader, save the world."
"I don't know what that means. I'm just a girl."
"I don't either, but I had to do it."
"Even if it meant you would have died?"
She cupped his face with her hand, letting her thumb graze his cheek. "You're an amazing man, Peter Petrelli."
"It was nothing."
"It wasn't nothing. And I was afraid my dad erased your memories, too, that you wouldn't remember me. What you did. It was special, something I'll never forget. And never be able to repay."
"You came here. That's payment enough."
"I don't think I can go back."
"My dad. He's liable to find out I do remember."
"Claire, you have to go back. You have to act as normal as possible. I don't think you're supposed to be here. Not yet."
She reached with her other hand, touching his face now with both hands. She wanted to memorize the way he looked, the way he felt. She wasn't sure she'd ever see him again. Or if her father would ultimately get his way and have their memories altered.
"Just give me a few days."
He swallowed, she saw his throat work and she smiled. She kissed him, lightly nothing more than a peck really. She just needed that connection to him.
"I can do that."
"What did you have in mind?"
"Well, I was hoping I could stay here."
"Here? With me?"
"I don't have any money or anything. I had enough for a cab here."
"How did you get here?"
"I had some help."
"From someone who seemed to want me to see you as badly as I wanted to see you."
"The black guy?"
"How did you know?"
"Just a feeling I had about him."
"So can I stay?"
He stood then, her hands no longer able to touch him. He raked his fingers through his hair. He looked a little frightened.
"I don't know if that's such a good idea."
"I'm just a girl."
"That's the problem. If someone found out, saw you here, your dad."
"No one's going to know, and it's not like you're going to do anything to me." She stood then, hoping her eyes matched the wickedness in her smile. "Are you?"
He backed even further away. She scared him. But why? Because of her powers? Or was it something else?
"No, but it could look bad."
"Only if you think so."
He closed his eyes and turned his back to her.
"Listen, I'm not proposing anything seedy. I just need a day or two before I go back. Don't you understand? No one else remembers. I just need to know someone else gets it." She bit back the tears that were starting to fall. "I just need!"
"I'm not sure I can be what you need."
"You are! You saved me."
"I didn't know who you were."
"And you think that makes it less of a big deal?"
"I think it means I was supposed to save you and I did."
She sighed, tired and frustrated. "I just wanted to know I have a friend. Someone in this with me."
"There are a lot of us in this with you, but friend I can do even if we were the only ones."
She swiped the tears away, hoping he hadn't seen him. It didn't seem very invulnerable-like to cry.
"I've never been to New York."
"You haven't, huh?"
"I suppose I could take a couple of days and show you around. Since you came all this way and everything. And I've always wondered how comfortable my couch would be to sleep on."
She smiled then. Whether he saw the tears or not didn't matter. Not really.
"I can take the couch."
"We'll worry about that later. You must be hungry."
"Well, we can find something here to satisfy just about any appetite." He walked out of the room, returning a minute or two later with a phone book. He opened it and set it on the table. "Take your pick."
Her eyes widened. "There's so many. I couldn't possibly. You choose."
"Anything you don't like?"
"Well, I don't know about you, but good Italian always hits the spot."
"Sure. Am I dressed okay?"
"You're dressed fine."
That was good, because while she packed a small duffle bag she hadn't packed anything different than the jeans and shirt she wore now. She had no idea what she was doing, only that she had to come here. And now, here she was, about to have dinner with her hero. There were fairy tales written and devoured by girls around the world about knights in shining armor coming to the fair princess' rescue. She'd been fortunate enough to find hers, now if only she could convince him he was not just knight material. But her knight.
She smiled at that thought. She was resourceful. She'd figure out how to do it.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com