Chapter 21: Save the World
"I'm so glad you have decided to join our cause." Linderman said as he and a few nurses escorted Claire back to her cell.
"Yet I'm back here." She said.
"In time." Linderman replied with a hand on her shoulder, "Comes trust. Good night." He said as the nurses locked her door and they strode off down the hall.
Join his cause… yeah, over my dead body… Claire didn't plan on helping Linderman in any way.
A body moved in front of her plate glass window. Claire's blood ran cold. She'd know that scowl anywhere, that square jaw… it was Nathan. He stood before her, studying her harshly.
"YOU!" She screamed, her eyes full of hate.
He looked up at her. "Don't look at me like that, kid."
"Nathan, it's obvious you don't care about me, but please help Peter."
Nathan avoided her eyes.
"He's your brother. You love him, if you don't help him, he'll die!"
"No one can help Peter." He said hollowly.
His eyes snapped to her again.
"I can help him! Nathan, please!"
"What do you mean?" He asked.
Jacques materialized beside Claire. His hand was on a woman who materialized with him. "Will both of you shut your bloody big gaping pie holes?"
The female, a tall leather clad woman with brown hair said not a word, but flicked her eyes to the ceiling. "That should keep them busy. I downloaded a virus into Linderman's security software."
Jacques beamed, "The naked dancing Pandas?"
The woman gave him a smirk.
Jacques's grin grew wider. "You're quite a woman, Hana!"
The woman known as Hana rounded on Claire, "Claire Bennet?"
Claire gave a brisk nod. "Who are you?"
"My name's Hana Gittelman. I'm someone your father played for a fool."
Claire didn't know how to respond to this, so she said nothing at all. Jack Bennet did a lot of bad things, but…
But weren't they all to keep you safe? Claire shook her head, there would be time for that later.
Hana looked up at Nathan. "The politician? And how does he play into this?"
"If you haven't noticed, our young Nathan hasn't alerted the others to our presence, so it's safe to say he's on our side."
Claire snapped her head to Nathan again. His stern jaw was clenched, as if he was fighting a moral balance within himself.
"You're going to help me?" Claire asked aloud.
"I told you I was a friend of Peter's, didn't I?" Jacques said, "Just as Linderman has plans, so do we. Linderman wants the Petrelli brothers dead, and wants you on his side. It's our job to keep you all fantastic and good. Time for the puppet to become the puppet master."
Nathan swore under his breath, "Don't you get it? Don't any of you get it? I have a family that is going to die if I don't do what Linderman wants! Save the cheerleader, save the world, but who will save my wife and kids?"
Jacques turned to him, "I need time."
"I don't have time." Nathan said quickly. "You do what you have to, and so will I."
"Nathan…" Claire started.
"Go. While you still can." He said, and stepped aside.
"Come with us." Claire urged Nathan.
Nathan grabbed Claire by the arm, and searched her eyes, "What do you mean you can help him?"
Claire wretched her arm free and snarled, "When your brother explodes, he needs something to counteract it, to stop him from exploding. That counteraction is me."
Nathan searched her eyes once more, and then stepped aside once again. "Then you have no time to waste."
"You're as good as dead here." Claire said.
"I scrambled the surveillance they have at your house." Hana said. "Another virus."
Jacques gave a little wave, "Think of it as a victory present. Should be enough time to get your family far away."
Nathan said not a word, but hurried down the hall.
"After the congressman, ladies." Jacques said.
"My mother…" Claire said, "I want to bring her with us."
"You and I both know there is no place for her out there." Jacques said, "I'm sorry…"
"We have to move!" Hana yelled, and grabbed both Jacques and Claire by the arm, and hurtled with them down the hallway.
Once free of the compound, Claire jerked her arm away from Jacques, her eyes like daggers. How could he? How could this two faced lying scum bag wretch her away from her mother? "Why did you do that? Why did you bring me to her just to leave her behind?"
Jacques sighed softly, "She's not your mother, Claire."
And Claire felt like a deflated balloon. Like the one thing she wanted most in this world had been dangling right in front of her and was then snatched away. Claire searched his eyes, "What?"
"She's not your mother. I knew your mother, and that thing inside is not her."
Claire felt tears well in her eyes again. "But she knew me…"
"She knew you because it's what Linderman wanted. Those nurses in there are nothing more than drones. They live and breathe orders. It is all they know, it is all they have ever known. They don't think or act independently, Linderman makes sure of that."
Claire was silent a moment.. "So, she's…?"
"Later," He said, with a hand on her shoulder, "We'll visit her grave together."
Claire bit back tears. For a glorious moment, she thought her mother was alive and well again. "But you knew her?"
"Oh yes," He said with a smile, "I swear you're just as beautiful as she was." He said, "She loved you, and you loved her, and that's all I can tell you right now. We have to find Peter."
Back to reality. The cold hard truth bit Claire in the back, a nasty little reminder of what lay in store.
"The politician went that way." Hana interrupted.
"I've got it!" Mohinder cried. "So simple, it's ingenious, it's brilliant!"
The sudden outburst from the geneticist caused a jump from the others.
"What?" Peter asked. He had been sitting, watching Sylar sleep in his drugged state.
"We've had it all wrong, Peter! You have to get to New York, you have to be near Claire to counteract the explosion!"
Peter turned to Hiro. He was the only one who could get them right where they needed to be in time. "Can you…?"
"I always wanted to see Manhattan." Ando replied.
Hiro gave a short nod.
Matt couldn't believe his eyes when he saw Peter Petrelli and Hiro materialize right before him. "What the hell are you doing here?" He demanded. Hiro had vanished, most likely to retrieve the others.
"Claire can stop me from exploding."
"Interesting." Matt said, "How're you feeling?"
Peter shrugged. "As good as can be, considering…"
Matt grabbed his walkie, "HQ, any sighting of the girl?"
Matt shook his head, "We have outposts all over the city for Claire."
And then it happened. Peter felt the sudden jolt go up his spine, felt a wave of heat emitting from his body. And he looked down at his hands. They were becoming a bright orange color, and he felt himself beginning to sweat.
Peter put a hand to his head, "Oh God, I don't feel so good."
"Sit down," Mohinder suggested, (Matt jumped when he heard his voice) and lead him to a bench.
"No, all of you get away from me, evacuate the city!"
And that's when they heard the pounding of sneakers on the city pavement, and saw the girl in the cheerleading outfit racing toward them. Claire Bennet was right on time.
"Thank God!" Matt cried, and turned to Peter, "She's here!"
She was the last thing he saw before his eyes glazed over. All he could see was deep red. No, Claire, get out of here!
"I have to save him!" Claire screamed, and raced over to him. She cupped his face in her hands, and saw nothing in his eyes but flames. "It's happening…" She had to think fast. She grabbed his hands, and they were bright red and white hot. She dropped them out of pure reflex, but grabbed them again. She looked up into Peter's eyes, and it was like he was a shell, he stared straight ahead, those horrible flames licking his pupils. It was up to her now.
Matt's cop instincts kicked in, "Good luck, Claire." He grabbed Mohinder by the arm. "Get back, everyone, give them some room…"
Claire's hands were clamped onto Peter. It was hot. Horribly hot, and the heat was drifting up her arms, making her sweat, causing her arm to tremble. But she didn't dare break contact, not after flashes of light danced before her eyes, not even after her head felt too heavy to hold up.
"Oh…" Claire whispered, fastening a hand to her head. "I feel dizzy." Even that was a struggle.
"Will this work?" Matt asked.
"It has to." Mohinder said.
Peter seemed to snap back into his body, and he lowered his head, staring down at the small girl holding onto him, and his hands.
And then it happened. Peter looked down at his hands. They were glowing, and then it came from deep inside of him, a low growl, signaling that this was the end. And all he could think was of everyone else. "Get away!" He screamed, "Save her!" he felt like he was bursting at the seams, and he jerked himself from her grasp so hard that it sent her to the pavement… and he screamed as his body became alight with bright red flames. And through this madness, all he saw was Claire back on her feet, running toward him.
"STAY AWAY!" He tried to say, but all he could do was scream in agony. She threw herself at him, the force of her body against his nearly knocking him over. And she circled her arms around his neck, her legs around his waist, desperately getting every inch of her body to touch him.
At first, there was nothing, and then Claire started to scream too. She had never felt pain like this before, every inch of her skin that was touching Peter felt like it was melting from her bones.
Matt didn't know how much longer he could stand this, the both of them embraced, screaming at the top of their lungs. This isn't going to work. He put a hand on his gun, ready to put Peter out of his misery.
And then it happened.
In those bright red flames glowed a thin blue light from Claire, almost like a blanket, and it was devouring the red flames. Fast at first, but steadily declining as Claire hung onto consciousness.
"Claire, stay awake, you can do it!" Isaac cried.
Sweating, Claire dug her nails into Peter's skin. The blue light was strong, it covered the two of them in an electric haze, and they had stopped screaming.
But she was beyond the point of exhaustion. Her body was shutting down, and there was not a damn thing she could do to stop it. With a final burst of energy, she raised her eyes to Peter's. "I'm sorry." She mouthed as she collapsed, and as she fell, she took what was left of her blue energy.
But a strong arm caught her before she hit the ground.
The light was gone, and everything was calm, and quiet. And the young girl that had saved millions of lives slept.
"Claire," Peter whispered, his eyes examining her. A thin trail of blood oozed from the side of her mouth. He looked up at all of the heroes standing around him. "Why didn't you stop her?" He demanded.
"She was the counteracting agent needed." Mohinder said solemnly.
Peter closed his eyes in disbelief. No. No this was too cruel. God wouldn't let Claire die while he lived. He wouldn't. "It was too much for her. It was just too much."
Mohinder bent down to Claire, and felt her wrist for a pulse. "Peter, she has a pulse. I think she's just unconscious."
And then Peter felt a slight movement in his arms. He looked down, and seeing her eyes open was the most beautiful sight for him in days. "Claire!"
She smiled weakly up at him, "You're okay."
"Thanks to you." He said.
They both smiled at each other.
"Is everyone okay?" She asked.
He nodded, "Everyone's fine."
Claire sat up, and wrapped her arms around Peter's neck, burying her face in his shoulder. It felt so good to be near him again, to feel his body, to feel his heart beat… She lifted her head up and looked into his eyes. He smiled at her.
She felt his heart race increase.
"Peter," She said, and brushed her hand across his cheek. "I can feel your heart." She whispered, and draped her hand down across his chest.
"I can feel yours too." He said.
Their gazes drifted to each other's lips. Claire locked her hands around his neck, and he leaned in, and their lips lightly brushed against each other's. Soft at first, and then more passionate.
They only broke away when they heard jeering cat calls from the group. Claire looked up and saw them all watching her: Isaac's grin, Hiro's thumbs up, Ando's warm smile, Matt's wink, and Zach was cheering the loudest. Her gaze then landed on Simone, who looked extremely upset.
Peter saw her too. "Simone," He said.
She gave her head a shake, and rested her head on Isaac's shoulder.
"Simone, I…" Peter started, and then turned back to Claire. "I don't know what to say."
Claire rested her forehead on his. "Go to her."
Peter shook his head, "Why? She has Isaac, and I have you."
Claire reached her hand up and ruffled Peter's bangs. "You're bleeding!"
Peter stuck his hand up to his forehead, and his fingers came away slick with blood. "It's clotting… probably just leave a scar…" He looked around the group and saw that Hiro wasn't among them.
"Yes?" Hiro smiled down at him.
"Let's go home."
"What're you going to do with him?" Claire asked Peter as they walked up to the door of the safe house.
"Wait," Isaac said, grabbing Peter's shoulder. He turned to Hiro who had an out of character expressionless face.
"What is it?" Peter asked.
"Claire, wait outside." Isaac told her.
"Why?" She asked.
"Sylar's dead in there. I painted it three days ago."
There was a pause between them and then she said, "I want to see him."
"No, Claire…" Peter started.
"What did I tell you?" Claire asked. "I'm not a child. I can handle it. He killed Jackie, Peter."
Peter let go of her arm, and she walked inside.
Sylar sat slumped over in the chair, his chin resting on his chest. Peter walked over to him, and lifted his head. A thin deep gash was in his throat, and the front of his shirt was covered in dried blood that pooled at his feet.
"Looks like he was stabbed," Isaac said. He once again turned to Hiro, who was busy chatting away with Mohinder.
It then became an unspoken truce between all of them.
Claire stared down at the body. He can't hurt anybody else… it's over… one small tear escaped her eye and trailed down her face.
That was the last she would give him.