Claire took a deep breath, blinking back tears. "I hope he can find heaven because he was a terrible navigator," Claire joked to Peter across the counter, trying to bring levity to the conversation. "I mean, for a guy who could fly." That made her think about West, which made her think about… She laughed out loud.

"Why you laughing?" Peter asked. "What's so funny?"

"He gave me endless grief for dating a guy who could fly," she explained. "He said I had daddy issues, which… I do."

Peter frowned. "Whatever happened to that kid? What was his name?"

"West. He and I are still Facebook friends." She saw the opportunity to mention Gretchen. She took a chance and continued, "So, I've kind of got in a new relationship now… The, um, person is really cool, and they can accept me for who I am."

He nodded distantly. "What's his name?"

She hesitated. "Um… Gretchen?"

There. She said it. She let go of it. Her secret was out there now, and she waited anxiously for Peter's reaction.

Peter nodded slowly, his thoughts clearly on Nathan and not on the topic. "Gretchen…" He frowned. "No. Gretchen. That's a girl's name…" Then she saw it click in his mind. "Oh." He blinked. "Oh. That's, um, cool. It's, um, okay with me, Claire. College is a time to discover yourself, find out who you really are."

She smiled with relief. "Thanks, Peter. It's just… you hear about all these things about people being hurt just 'cause they're… because they're dating someone who can go in the same restroom as them."

Peter stepped over and gave her a comforting hug. "Claire, you know whatever happens I'm on your side. It's like Nathan used to…" He closed his eyes, winced, and trailed off. "Just know you don't have to worry about me. I'm not an enemy."

She answered by squeezing him in a tight embrace.

"Have you told your parents yet?" he asked.

She sighed. "No. I'm afraid to tell them."

"Well, I imagine they'd be fine with it," he said. "But, of course, it's your right to keep things private for as long as you like. If you ever want help talking to them about it, just ask anytime."

"Thanks, Peter," she said again, stepping back to reveal her face wet with tears. She rubbed at her face with her sleeve, and Peter handed her a handkerchief. "It's just…" She paused. "Can you really imagine a man who made his living bagging-and-tagging and a woman who devotes her life to her dog really accepting their deviant daughter?"

"Claire, the world isn't so black-and-white," Peter said. "This kind of people, and that kind of people – it's not that simple. People are complex and can't be pigeonholed. If I've learned anything from playing hero, it's that normalcy isn't all it's cracked up to be. Sometimes people are special, and that's okay."

"I…" She coughed. "I guess that's true."

"So, what?" he asked. "Are you going to tell them?"

"Yeah," she said, nodding. "Just… later."

He smiled knowingly. "There's always a later."

She swallowed. "Can… I have another hug?"

He nodded, opening his arms.

Author's Note:

Okay, I'm pretty annoyed at Heroes for their treatment of the Gretchen character thus far. It really seems like they just took advantage of her sexuality to make a big push for ratings from the straight guys in the audience, gave them a big kiss scene, and then eased the character out of the story. I hope I'm wrong, and that the rest of the season will be cool to the gay folks in the audience, but I doubt it.