|Fic: On The Road
||[Sep. 26th, 2006|10:18 pm]
NBC's Heroes: Niki/Claire Shippage Community
Title: On The Road|
Disclaimer: I don’t own any of the characters mentioned in the story. Just borrowing!
Claire hadn’t thought about it when she stepped in front of the bullet heading for the blonde woman she had passed as she came out of the grocery store. She’d heard the crack of the gun and responded instantly stepping in front of the woman at her side as the car drove past, almost out of sight by the time she registered the bullets hitting her chest and tearing through her skin, the force sending her back into the body she had been protecting.
A few seconds later her head cleared and she registered the people standing around her gaping at the large red blot on her stomach just above her navel, or maybe they were looking at the one by her shoulder, or the one on her side or maybe even the bloody hole in her hand where she had lifted it automatically to protect her face. Whichever it was it didn’t particularly matter.
Her first instinct was to pretend she hadn’t been hit but she surveyed the damage to her body she knew that that was no longer an option and just stood there staring back at the strange – and a few familiar – faces watching her. They were thinking she should be dead, or at least on the ground wounded, they couldn’t understand how she was just standing there without the slightest indication of pain … just staring back at them, and she couldn’t blame them.
There was no way her parents wouldn’t hear about this.
So, when the strange blonde woman grabbed her arm and hissed “come on” at her she allowed herself to be dragged along for a few steps before snapping out of it and breaking into a jog following the blonde around the corner of the store and to into the passenger side of a beat up black Gremlin.
The woman asked if she needed to go to a hospital, but the way she said it indicated to Claire that she already knew the answer. It was more like she was asking because it was the polite thing to do than because she was actually curiously. Claire simply held up her newly healed hand and said she was sure, before pulling down her sweater over her shoulder and reaching into the bullet wound to remove the bullet still inside. It couldn’t really hurt her, but it was uncomfortable and the wound wouldn’t heal over until she did.
The woman stared at her for a second, or as much as she could stare while driving, her eyes flashing to the road for a second and then to Claire for a second, the pattern keeping up for over a minute until Claire finally said “I’m different”. The woman laughed at that and said “I’m Niki, and I’m different too,” before focusing solely on the road.
“I’m sorry, I’m so rude,” Niki said her voice somewhat muffled as she dug through a large black duffel bag. They’d arrived at a motel on the outskirts of town about five minutes before. “I haven’t even thanked you yet,” she continued finally standing up straight two shirts clutched in her hand as she turned to face Claire. “You saved my life.”
“I seem to do that now,” Claire muttered remembering being surrounded by fire as she dragged a grown man out of a flaming train wreck. “But you’re welcome, I’m glad I could help.”
“Um … here,” Niki said somewhat awkwardly a moment later as she held out one of the shirts in her hand to Claire. “It’s a bit tight on me, which means it’ll probably be a bit big on you, but it should feel a bit nicer than … that,” she continued her eyes drifting down to Claire’s ripped and bloodied sweater.
“Thanks,” Claire said reaching out for the shirt suddenly realizing how badly she wanted to get out of her clothes and be rid of the evidence of what had transpired half an hour before.
“There’s a shower,” Niki replied pointing to the back of the room. “There’s a clean towel, shampoo and complimentary soap. If you want,” she went on a moment later as Claire looked down at herself thinking that a shower seemed like the single greatest thing on the face of the planet at the moment.
“Are you sure?” Claire asked, her mother’s etiquette lessons making her seek confirmation that she wasn’t imposing before accepting the offer.
“Yeah,” Niki said smiling, laughing softly. “Yeah, I’m sure.”
Niki was standing at the window gazing through a small crack in the curtains when Claire emerged from the washroom scrubbed clean and in half a new outfit.
“It’s a good fit,” Niki commented when she turned around her eyes finding Claire immediately. The shirt wasn’t as big on the younger woman as she had feared. “Make yourself at home,” she went on moving towards Claire, “I’ll be out in a couple minutes,” she finished before disappearing into the washroom.
Claire was watching Wonder Woman fight some raven-haired woman in top hat on the slightly grainy television set wondering if it would be polite to inquire about the open suitcase of children’s clothes off to the side when Niki emerged from the washroom wrapped in a towel.
Watching as the blonde walked across the room to the bed closet to the door, her towel riding up to expose an even greater expanse of tanned thigh when she bent to retrieve the clothes she had laid on the bed before moving shower, Claire thought about how her apparent indestructibility wasn’t the only thing that made her different.
Sighing softly she resolutely turned her gaze back to the television set repeating to herself that she absolutely would not look. And she tried not to, she really did, but her eyes kept drifting over to the side as Niki changed.
She’d never seen a body like that in real-life before.
Niki made a conscious effort to keep her back turned to the girl so that they wouldn’t accidentally make eye contact. She knew that Claire was watching her – she’d gotten very good at sensing that over the years – but she didn’t mind and didn’t want to make her uncomfortable. There was something kind of sweet about the girl’s hesitant, furtive gazes as opposed to the predatory and expectant ones she usually got.
She had just finished hooking her bra when she caught her reflection in the mirror, which was once again acting as it shouldn’t. She knew that she wasn’t smiling let alone smirking, but her reflection was, and while she knew she was standing perfectly still, her reflection tilted it’s head to the side – towards Claire – and licked it’s lips.
Niki blinked her features tight as she gazed into the mirror her eyes meeting Claire’s as she looked away from herself, the girl immediately looking away and dropping her eyes down to her lap when she realized Niki had caught her looking.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to stare, I was just … I was only …” Claire started to ramble, her head still facing down unable to look at the other woman. ‘I was just perving on you’ she thought to herself, knowing that there was no reasonable excuse that could cover her actions.
“It’s okay,” Niki said pushing her mirror images actions out of her mind. “Claire,” she said moving over to the other bed sitting on the edge of it, almost but not quite touching the girl. “Claire,” she repeated gently, “really its okay.”
“I shouldn’t have …” Claire began struggling not look again. Niki hadn’t put her shirt on before moving over to the bed. She usually had better control than this. Then again most of the girls in her gym class or the squad didn’t look like Niki.
“There’s nothing wrong with looking,” Niki interjected before Claire could continue chastising herself, smiling slightly and feeling a little lightheaded as she spoke. “Or touching,” she continued leaning towards Claire slightly. “Curiosity is only human,” she went on hearing the words come out of her mouth without any memory of consciously thinking them.
Claire looked over at her, her eyes wide as she stared at the blonde woman sitting next to her, her eyes focusing on Niki’s lips which a teasing, and perhaps even provocative curve to them, her eyes drifting down to Niki’s hand a moment later as the older woman moved the appendage to her bare stomach stroking the skin softly before slowly beginning to trail it up her side.
Claire flinched, her eyes closing and her breath hitching as Rhianna’s “S.O.S.” started to blare in the background.
“My cell,” she mumbled sliding off the bed and moving over to her purse, watching out of the corner of her eye as Niki shook her head looking slightly dazed before standing up as well moving over to the other bed to grab her shirt. Unsure whether she was relieved or disappointed by the other woman’s actions Claire flipped open her cell phone and looked at the caller ID.
It was her mother.
Claire shut the cell phone and stared at the closed lid for a moment before turning to face Niki who was finally fully dressed.
“My mother,” she said softly as Niki looked up and over at her from her seated position on the bed where she was pulling on a pair of shoes.
“I can take you home,” Niki said running a hand through her still damp hair as she looked at Claire not close to convinced that it was what the girl actually wanted.
“I don’t think I can go home,” Claire said finally stumbling back over to the free bed and collapsing down onto it. “I mean I ‘can’, I’m like physically capable of it. But … they know. I saw people that I knew looking at me back there. Everyone talks to everyone in this town. They’ll know by now and my family … is very conservative,” she said her father’s face flashing in her mind.
Niki nodded but remained silent. Claire didn’t need to explain her impulse to run away from home. It was a feeling she was very familiar with.
“You could come with us,” Niki said finally looking over at the girl. The girl had saved her life and she seemed sweet enough that Niki worried about her taking off on her own. Besides another set of hands that could work when they stopped places would make things easier.
“Us?” Claire asked the other suitcase in the room momentarily forgotten.
“My son, Micah, and I,” Niki replied nodding over to the suitcase Claire had been wondering about earlier. She was lucky she had managed to find him at the bus station before he took off for New York. “He’s in school,” she continued off Claire’s questioning look. “I was hoping not to have to move again so quickly,” she finished sighing and looking away.
“They were shooting at you weren’t they?” Claire asked a moment later. She hadn’t really considered the oddity of a drive by shooting in Odessa before, but hearing Niki talk about moving like it was a regular occurrence she realized it wasn’t just some bizarre, random event.
“I owe some bad people money,” Niki said softly glancing over at Claire. “On second thought I should probably take you home. Whatever camp or whatever you’re parents send you to will be far better than …”
“I could help you,” Claire interjected quickly. “I can’t be hurt. I’ve been shot, burned, jumped off of buildings, stuck my hand in garbage disposals, stabbed myself, dropped a toaster into the bathtub … and nothing hurts me. It could be … I mean if they come around again I could, you know stand in front of you … or Micah.”
“I can’t use a teenager as a human shield,” Niki replied even though a part of her was tempted by the idea.
“Seventeen almost eighteen, which makes me old enough to decide. And yes you can,” Claire replied firmly. “We can help each other.”
Niki was quite for a moment, her eyes drifting around the room for a moment in thought before they caught her reflection in the mirror once more. Her mirror image’s expression was serious this time instead of lecherous as it glanced over at Claire and nodded slowly its eyes never leaving the girl to her side.
“This isn’t going to be some romantic road-trip,” Niki said finally not sure why she was trusting her mirror image, but also not wanting to upset it – which was just too weird for her contemplate at the moment.
“I know,” Claire responded smiling. “I can handle it. They build us tough in Texas. Plus, I can turn anything that’s even remotely grill shaped into a barbeque which could come in handy.”
Niki smirked at that. If that was true Claire would certainly get along well with Micah.
“Okay,” Niki said sighing give her consent dubious as it might be. “I have to go pick up Micah now, and after that we’ll stay here until dark and then swing by your house so that you can pick up some clothes or whatever,” she continued standing up turning to face Claire unable to help the smile that spread across her face when Claire beamed at her. She still wasn’t convinced that taking the girl with her was the best idea, but it had been a long time since she had someone watching her back and the idea was extremely appealing.
Besides, she did love barbeque.