Apocalypse by SLynn
Summary: Three years have passed since the explosion and life has drastically changed for everyone. This isn't the world they imagined they'd be saving.
Spoilers: Up to 'Fallout'
Disclaimer: I'm just borrowing and will return them all when I'm done, virtually untouched.
Notes: Thank you Tripp3235 for your help!
Chapter 1: Promises
"Peter, I can't just leave you here."
"There isn't time to argue. You have to go. Now!"
"There isn't time to argue. You have to go. Now!"
"Damn it, Claire, I said run!"
"Damn it, Claire, I said run!"
She woke with a start, sitting straight up as she drew in ragged gasps of breath.
Claire looked towards the voice with some surprise.
"Yeah," she answered as casually as she could. "What time is it?"
"Just after seven," Matt answered from where he stood, leaning into the corner of the room.
She nodded, swinging her legs over the side of the cot before reluctantly getting to her feet.
"You were having that dream again."
It wasn't a question, and Claire knew it. It was almost an accusation.
"It was three years ago, Claire. It's time to let go."
She said nothing. Just sat and stared for a moment.
"It wasn't your fault."
"I could have saved him," she said forcefully.
"No," he said. "You couldn't have. We've been over this. The explosion would have killed you both."
"So instead we just let Peter…"
Claire couldn't finish, choked on the words.
"He wouldn't have it any other way," Matt said quietly.
Claire nodded silently in agreement, rubbing the palms of her hands vigorously across her eyes.
"I'm worried about you. We all are. This isn't healthy."
"There's nothing to worry about," she said dismissively. "I'm fine."
"I could hear you from the other room."
'Then stop listening,' she thought rather cruelly.
"I can't," he answered flatly.
"I hate it when you do that."
'Try it on my end.'
"I hate that more," Claire said with a disdainful look on her face, pulling a sweatshirt over her head as she made her way to the door.
Matt smiled a bit and just shrugged at her. In the past year all of their powers had changed, evolved. Matt was still working on controlling his talent for reading thoughts and his even stranger ability to push his own thoughts into other's heads.
"I've got to practice on someone," he said, as if that excused it.
"And the house is full of freaks, so pick someone else."
"We're not freaks, Claire," he said as he followed her out the door and down the steps.
"Speak for yourself."
"Listen," he said, catching her by the elbow and stopping her just outside the kitchen door, "I'm just saying that maybe you should talk to someone about it."
"We've talked about it."
"I meant someone else."
Claire raised an eyebrow at him.
"You're the only one who was there," Claire argued, "right there when it happened. Have you talked to anyone else about it?"
"Audrey?" Claire asked.
"So have I," Claire contended. "I've talked to Hiro…"
"Asking Hiro to go back and warn…"
"How do you know that?" she accused.
"Why bother," she interrupted. "Why don't you just pull it out of my head?"
"Claire," he said in a tone reminiscent of her father.
With one last glare she pulled free from his grasp and pushed her way into the kitchen.
Matt hesitated, wiping a hand across his face. None of this had been easy, not for any of them, but Claire just couldn't seem to move on. Didn't seem to want to. She was taking all the blame when in reality it was no one's fault.
It had been destiny.
Finally Matt made his way into the kitchen only to find Niki and D.L. there as well, ending all hopes he had for continuing his conversation with Claire.
"Matt," D.L. said, "we've got to talk."
"And we need to train," Niki said directly to Claire.
"What do I need to train for?" Claire shot back. "It's not like I can get hurt."
Niki shook her head in exasperation.
"Or like I'll ever get the chance to do anything," Claire added under her breath.
"Its good exercise," Niki said.
"Fine," Claire relented, leaving her seat at the table.
"I'll be downstairs in a minute," Niki said to her. "I'll get Micah to join us. He could use some practice too."
"Good luck," Claire said sarcastically before leaving the kitchen.
Niki smiled at both men as she headed out the opposite door in search of her son.
"What did you need to talk about?" Matt asked.
"We've got to move."
"Again?" Matt asked. "We've only been here two nights. They can't…"
"They are," D.L. confirmed. "Micah has been on the net all day pulling down information. They're onto us."
Matt nodded, feeling guilty that the 'us' really only meant him and Claire. The rest of them were still off the militia's radar for now. Hiro had garnered some attention, just after the blast, but they didn't have much more than his name to go by.
"Why don't you just…"
"It ain't going to happen," D.L. quickly cut in. "We're all in this together. I know you're only trying to do what you think is right, but I can't let you do that. I can't let you leave."
"We're holding you back."
"You saved our lives."
Matt shook his head vehemently.
"No," he said. "I didn't save anyone. There wasn't anything…"
"Don't argue with me," D.L. cut in. "I know what happened. I was there too."
Matt just kind of laughed and did his best to shrug it off. Like Claire, he was living with his own regrets.
"I was thinking," D.L. continued, motioning to some maps he'd laid out on the table, "that we could head north a little this time. They won't expect that."
"No one would expect that," Matt agreed. "It's not safe."
"I'm not saying we should go right into the thick of it," D.L. said, "but just close enough to keep the militia off our backs."
"Let me talk to Audrey before we decide," Matt said. "See if she knows if they are still patrolling the state lines."
"I doubt they can even find them," D.L. added.
"True," Matt returned, "but it's better to be safe."
D.L. agreed and for a moment Matt thought they were done.
"We've been talking and…" D.L. began earnestly.
'How do I say this?'
"Quickly," Matt answered to D.L.'s internal question. "Just do it quickly."
"We're worried about her."
"Whose 'we'?" Matt asked.
"Us. All of us. Niki, me, Micah, Hiro, Ando. She's restless. Antsy."
"So, what are we supposed to do?"
"Not we," D.L. corrected, "you."
"Yes, you," D.L. stated. "You're suffocating her. She can't stay cooped up forever. You have to let her out…"
"Do you realize how dangerous that is?" Matt asked loudly. "Her name, face, description are everywhere. People are looking for her. The wrong type of people, D.L."
"They're looking for you too but that doesn't stop…"
"It's different with me and you know it."
"She's not a little girl…"
"I know that," Matt said defensively. "It has nothing to do with her age."
"Then what?" D.L. asked. "What is it?"
Matt just tossed his hands in the air in frustration and shook his head, unable to explain it further.
"Micah is my son," D.L. said, speaking in a low tone that just betrayed the emotion behind the words. "He's my son and he's my only child and it kills me to know that when he goes out that he might not make it back. It's harsh and cold, but it's a reality and a necessity. He's got a gift that's done us all a lot of good and to hold him back would cause us all to suffer. Niki and I do everything we can to prepare him for this world, but the most important thing we can do is trust him. Claire is not your daughter, Matt, but I know how important she is to you. She's special to all of us, but you can't keep this up; you can't keep her from contributing because you're afraid of losing her. She wants to be out there…"
"You don't know that," Matt interrupted.
"But you do," D.L. returned pointedly.
For a minute nearly of them spoke until finally D.L. broke the silence.
"We're all afraid."
"I promised him."
D.L. looked at the other man surprised. Matt didn't typically volunteer information like this. For a man who could read other people's thoughts, he was extremely private.
"I promised Peter," Matt continued as he looked around the room, anywhere to avoid looking directly at D.L. "It was the last thing I said to him. The last thing he asked. He asked me to take care of her and so I have."
"It's time to let her start taking care of herself."
Matt thought it over before slowly nodding his head.
"What do you have in mind?"
"Tonight we've got a raid planned; me, Micah and Ando. She'd be safe, I promise. Very easy, very routine."
"Fine," Matt said tersely, "but I'm coming too."
"I'm coming," he said firmly.