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"The Patrol", a Heroes fanfic (PG-13 for language)

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  • "The Patrol", a Heroes fanfic (PG-13 for language)

    Title: The Patrol
    Rating: PG-13
    Spoilers: Through "How to Stop an Exploding Man"

    A cold drizzle soaked the sidewalk where Claire walked. The pooling water along the storm drains played the unwelcoming streetlights and passing headlights into her eyes. It was mid-November in Manhattan. A life in Odessa, Texas had never prepared Claire for so many people and an entire climate that felt so full of despair.

    Of course, it wasn't only the weather. She passed a bodega and the newspaper box in front of it. The Daily News was still speculating on the election night disappearance of the charismatic Congressman-elect Nathan Petrelli. Between his disappearance and the explosion that the government was calling a failed terrorist attack, the nights in New York were steeped in paranoia and depression.

    It wasn't the sort of night that would typically find a 17 year old cheerleader walking alone. But of course Claire was the least typically 17 year old cheerleader in the world.

    Not typical. Not a cheerleader. The cheerleader, Claire reminded herself with a touch of bitterness. The same stupid prophecy that had saved her life apparently had cost her the life of her birth father and her uncle, both of whom she had known she could have truly loved as family. Family? She had even felt the first onset of a crush on the man who had saved her, the man had so improbably turned out to be her uncle, Peter. That was totally embarrassing, and she was glad that, at least in that case, she had no girlfriends to whom she had been able to talk about him.

    Claire dug her fists deeper into the pocket of her hooded sweatshirt. Her jeans and sneakers were already soaking through and the evening was cooling into the high 40s. This hadn't exactly been what she had in mind when she had planned this night out.

    She knew her dad would freak out and handcuff her to the minibar in the hotel room they had taken if he knew. Sylar had vanished, her dad's company was still after them, and there was no telling if her incredibly bitchy grandmother might be stalking her. But she had told Peter that she was going to do it and she meant it. He thought they had a destiny. She wasn't going to let him be wrong after what he'd done for her, and for all of them.

    "?After we save the world, I might go on patrol," Claire muttered to herself as she shuffled down the dark street. Here and there she could see people rushing to get in from the rain, to get to their car or taxi, women dressed for a night out, or maybe hookers, she couldn't tell, running toward the bodega she'd passed. She hadn't spent enough time in a big city to be able to tell the real New York from the clich├ęd. She just trudged along believing that if she walked around long enough she would find trouble or trouble would find her.

    Claire's dad would probably have killed her if he'd known what she was sneaking out to do. She wondered for a second whether or not he really would kill her for that. She had learned exactly how bad-ass her dad was, and it's not like she wouldn't get over it. She stifled a giggle at the idea of getting shot in the stomach instead of grounded for breaking curfew.

    "Peter Petrelli was a good man," her dad had told her. Claire remembered the glare she'd shot him with for the past tense and his look of guilt. "He saved a lot of people last night, Claire-bear. It's normal to feel like you owe him something for that. We probably all do. But Peter wouldn't want you risking your own life like that. A lot of people have taken difficult steps to keep you from having to risk your life like that."

    The topic had been her declaring that she wanted to go after Sylar. When everyone in Kirby Plaza had been able to look around again after the explosion, he'd vanished down a manhole. For the next two or three nights, Claire had been constantly pressing the issue to her dad that they should go after him. That lady, Nikki, was crazy strong. Claire could go in first and distract Sylar and survive pretty much anything he threw at her, and Nikki could sneak up and tear his head off. Probably literally. And who knew what else the other people around there could do that might help?

    Her dad had been smart enough not to laugh at the idea, but he was also deadly serious and a little afraid when he'd told her no.

    But that didn't change Claire's mind about patrolling. I'm not after Sylar, so he didn't say anything about doing this. This is a perfectly acceptable use of my time and energy, Claire rationalized. She drew in a deep breath and looked around the street again. There were fewer people, but somebody had to be up to something. She wished that she had some sort of crime-detector, it would make this a lot less pointless.

    Oh, screw this, Claire thought angrily. She had been walking around Manhattan for the better part of three hours, in a steady drizzle, with no earthly idea where she was going other than a general sense of how to get back to their hotel. She had watched a lot of Law & Order and had probably decided that she could see a crime being committed by just hanging around on any corner. So much for being a hero ?

    "Help me!!!!"

    Claire heard the plaintive, desperate cry so clearly she thought she must have imagined it. She was already two or three blocks past the bodega she'd seen and the streets were almost empty, but the ambient noise of cars on wet pavement made it hard to hear.

    She ran toward the shout when she heard the voice call out again. It was coming from an alley between two apartment buildings. Claire pulled her hood back, feeling the drizzle soak into her hair and run over her face. She crept along the sidewalk by the edge of the building to peek around into the alley.

    She had found the right place. About 50 feet into the alley, she saw two men accosting another, a boy who looked almost her own age. A delivery man? It seemed likely. She'd found a real New York City mugging in progress, more or less exactly what she'd spent the evening walking around hoping to see. Now that she had found it, she wasn't sure she wanted it.

    "She rushed into a fire and saved a man's life. Sounds kinda special to me." Peter's voice, of course. She remembered the pride she felt at someone describing her that way, even if he hadn't known it was her he was talking about at the time.

    Claire felt her resolve return to her thinking of Peter's face, and of her dad's face. Drawing in a breath, she entered the alley.

    "You could have just handed it over, bitch, remember that!" one of the thugs was growling as he brandished a knife in front of the delivery guy. He was tall, wearing a thick sports parka. The shorter man threw the delivery boy against the wall and began frisking him. Claire assumed he was looking for the kid's bank, probably his wallet, too.

    Claire wasn't a soldier, she wasn't a martial arts expert, but she was an athlete: mobile, flexible, and familiar with using leverage. She sprinted the distance between her and the boy's attackers, her tiny feet not disturbing the rainwater enough to warn them she was coming.

    The one with the knife turned as she got within arm's reach, whipping around to his right. It was too late. Claire saw him swinging the knife toward her, completely confused to see a teenage girl ambushing him. She grabbed the wrist of the attacking hand as she slid up against him with her back to his chest.

    "What the ?" the mugger gasped. Claire planted her hip into his and flipped him over her shoulder into the wet, dirty pavement. She saw his knife clatter away and quietly remembered to thank her dad for the few judo moves he'd taught her.

    The cheerleader turned quickly to face her other attacker. The delivery boy skittered back against the wall as the second mugger dropped his hand under his jacket, toward his rear waistband. Claire lunged ahead instinctively, shoving him with both hands. The thug backpedaled, nearly tripping over the wheel of a dumpster. Claire pressed her advantage, and delivered a high kick to his cheek. Go team go, she thought savagely, watching her victim sprawl to the ground against the alley wall.

    "Mind your own business, bitch!" It was the knife man. Claire realized she had lost focus on him a moment too late to prevent him from spinning her around by the arm. He was back on his feet, the knife was in his hand, and she had only a second to wince as she felt the butterfly blade slip into her stomach.

    It never really gets less painful, she thought as she felt warm blood begin pouring out of her and soaking into her t-shirt, her underwear. She clutched her stomach as the man pulled out the blade, and saw welling red on her blue sweater. When she looked up again, gritting her teeth, she saw the man grinning at her.

    Her stomach was throbbing, but it was temporary and she knew it. She had to run these guys off before she lost consciousness. She swung a bloody, balled up fist at the man with the knife, but pain slowed her and he jumped back from it easily. The knife man's arm flashed again, and new pain erupted on Claire's face. She screamed, dropping to her knees in the alley. With a shaking hand, she felt the deep laceration reaching from her left cheek down across her throat. She wanted to vomit ? if she was anyone else she'd be dead for sure. And even now, she could feel herself losing consciousness. Faster! She commanded her bizarre power. Faster or the kid is screwed!

    She heard the knife man shouting to his friend ? "Get the damn money, Jeff, let's get out of here!" ? and heard his splashing footfalls as he fled the alley. Feeling dizzy, Claire dropped face first onto the pavement.

    As she struggled on the ground to stay conscious, she heard the other mugger, the one she had kicked, taunting the delivery boy. "Should have just given up the money. Now you're getting laid out next to her." The delivery boy was sobbing suddenly, and Claire realized what the man had been reaching for behind his back when she heard the dull clicking of a pistol hammer being cocked.

    Claire controlled her breath, and realized she still could breathe ? the wound to her stomach had healed already. With as much quiet effort as she could, she struggled to her feet behind the mugger. His gun was drawn, pointed at the boy. A boy no older than her.

    With the hot blood still streaming down her cheek and neck, Claire reached behind to her own waistband. She felt the metal barrel slip from between the fabric of her panties and her jeans. She heard her dad's voice again: "Claire, I know I've held a lot back from you for too long, but you know this isn't over. You know it'll be a long time before any of us is really safe. You're ready for so much more than I thought you were. If you're ever in trouble and I'm not around? I want something of mine to be with you."

    Thanks Dad, she thought, staring at the long custom slide of her father's M1911 pistol. Her mind cleared and she raised the pistol. She held her left hand up under the butt like she had been shown.

    "Hey," she called out casually. The mugger turned to her, his gun training on her instantly. A long moment passed as they stood in the rain-soaked alley, close enough to hold hands. The raindrops came faster now. The barrel of Claire's pistol nearly reached to the man's nose. His revolver was aimed at her chest, almost brushing against the loose cotton of her sweatshirt.

    "Bitch, I don't know what you think you're going to do, but you try to shoot me, you're dead, too," the mugger seethed. But before he could even start to posture some more, his eyes went wide. Claire realized why as she felt the familiar itching. The slack-jawed criminal was seeing her check and throat repair themselves before his very eyes. Claire couldn't resist a smirk, could feel the twinkle in her eye, despite the sting of healing.

    "I'm game if you are," she said, grinning wickedly.

    The mugger's nerve broke, and his gun hand dropped. Claire stepped forward and struck down at his neck with the gun. She followed by pistol-whipping across the jaw. The second hit knocked him to the wet concrete. He stopped moving.

    Claire crouched to retrieve the man's gun. She hadn't thought of what to do in this situation. She settled for putting the revolver into the front pocket of her hoody, and tucking her own gun back into her rear waistband. Now she was a minor with two unregistered firearms, and it occurred to her she probably should probably go straight back to the hotel.

    "What? how?" The delivery boy finally spoke up, stepping away from the wall. He was no longer terrified but confused by what he'd just seen. Claire realized he'd just seen a stranger in New York come running to help him, watched her get stabbed and slashed across the face, and still get back up and knock out an armed mugger.

    "It's better not to think about it," Claire interrupted. The rain was pouring again, and she could feel her hair beginning to flatten against her cheeks. "I try not to, anyway."

    The boy stared dumbfounded, staggering toward her. "You saved me, can I? how? what can I?"

    Claire smiled and nodded as graciously as she could. She was more concerned with her appearance. The rain was washing the blood off her skin, but her sweatshirt was soaked through. "Oh crap," she muttered, thinking of how many blocks she'd have to walk to get back to a shower and clean clothes.

    "What is it?"

    Claire heard the question and looked up at the delivery boy. He was tall and lean, and wore a thick canvas jacket for a Chinese restaurant. Inspired, Claire took the gun out her sweatshirt. "Hold this," she ordered, handing the kid the mugger's gun. Awkwardly, she peeled off the sweatshirt and threw it out. Great. White tee-shirt, she thought. At least it wasn't as bloody as the sweatshirt, other than at her waist.

    "Hey? can I borrow your jacket?" She smiled sweetly.
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