The pouring rain and heavy security had cut down the crowd to the point that it only numbered well into the thousands. It didn't matter the every Weekly Address was broadcast on every television, computer, and phone in the world, everyone just wanted their chance to be there in person. Peter tried to refrain from shifting uncomfortably in seat, forcing himself to focus on Matt as he worked his magic.
"Some more good news for all of you," Matt said affably, "we've discovered a little girl in Montana who can actually help repair the ozone layer just by exhaling."
The crowd erupted into thunderous applause.
"Now," Matt said, holding up a hand, "keep in mind she's just a little girl and there's only one of her... so don't take your Hummer out of storage just yet."
The was a massive wave of polite laughter.
Peter watched Matt work the crowd in cold fascination. Even if he was pushing a few buttons here and there, the crowd definitely loved Matt; they saw him as one of them.
They'd never seen his real face.
"Or next announcement is a little more personal," Matt said, waggling his eyebrows warmly. "Our very own Peter Petrelli," he gestured to the man seated next to him despite the fact that everyone in the world knew his face, "and Elle Bishop have officially announced their engagement!"
Those that were seated rose to their feet and there was a massive roar of approval from all present. Peter shyly tried to calm the crowd with a wave of his hand, but it was no good. Matt, signaled for Peter to step up to microphone and say a few words.
"I'd, uh, I'd like to thank all of you," he began. Suddenly, Peter's enhanced hearing picked up a silencer going off on one of the nearby rooftops. Telekinetically he reached out, spun the bullet around completely, and forced back through the arm of the sniper, effectively crippling him. And suddenly, Peter found himself speaking much more comfortably. "We'd like to invite you all to the ceremony, but there's a shortage of chairs," he joked.
Another wave of laughter rolled through the crowd.
"We haven't met the chair-girl yet," Matt chimed in.
"We haven't found chair-girl," Peter repeated.
And the crowd ate it all up.
Once they were safely removed from the eyes of their devotees, the friendly facade slipped away from Matt Parkman's face and the Nightmare Man started to peak through. "How many assassins were there in the crowd this time?"
"Three that I dealt with," Peter replied evenly. "Probably more that we'll find out about later."
Matt nodded. Once they had decided to rule, it had all been ridiculously simple.
With their powers and the resources culled from the Company, they were able to effortless provide real and lasting solutions to environmental problems and resource issues that simply might not have had any other answer; keeping law and order was handled effectively with crime officially having disappeared in the early months of their campaign while Matt and the Haitian actually had all major offenders privately reprogrammed or worse. When they finally announced they were officially taking power, they had been welcomed with open arms.
Still, there were always detractors.
"I'd say things went pretty well, then," Matt agreed.
"Yeah..." Peter grumbled.
Matt sighed in exhaustion. "What's the problem this time?"
"I don't see why I have to marry Elle," Peter muttered.
"We've been over this before," Matt reminded him.
"I can barely stand to be in the same room as her," Peter said.
"Big public ceremonies are just what The People live for," Matt explained once again.
"Why does that automatically make it me and her?" Peter sniped/
"You've got the most valuable DNA of any of us," Matt pointed out. He would have asked who died and made him Peter's big brother if they both didn't know the answer to that question. "And since the only female with a higher degree of genetic compatibility with you is Claire..."
Peter shot him the evil-eye. "I'm not having sex with Claire."
The guard nearest him couldn't help but think that's not what the press is saying.
Peter snapped at the man instantly. "You're done."
"You... you can't!" the shocked guard sputtered. "I know too much!"
Peter shrugged. "You have no idea how small a problem that is."
And without further word from Peter or Matt, three of the other guards dragged away the man who had been their colleague mere seconds ago.
"I still don't see why I have to marry Elle," Peter repeated.
"Why don't you like me?" Elle asked sweetly.
"I do like you," Peter mumbled back as groped his way across her body feverishly. He could have taken her anywhere in the world and been greeted as a prince and princess, yet they always found themselves in the supply closet.
Elle smiled, letting thousands of light shocks dance across his skin. "How much?"
Peter pulled away just far enough to flash her the old lop-sided smirk.
As always, Matt found the Haitian kneeling in prayer alone in his personal sanctuary, mockingly referred to as "the Inner Church."
"You know, for as many times as you tell me that you've accepted your own punishment, I always find you looking for forgiveness," Matt chuckled.
"For myself I ask nothing," the Haitian replied darkly. "I seek forgiveness only for the rest of you."
"Maybe the rest of us don't think we've done anything wrong," Matt argued gently.
"Then you deserve my prayers even more," the Haitian replied, completely without malice.
And, for a moment, there was silence.
"You know," Matt said finally, "all that we've been through together and I still don't know you're real name."
The Haitian brought his eyes to the other man's and smiled warmly. "To you I am mari. All else is secondary."
Matt nodded, returning the smile. "We need you to wipe another guard."
"Let me guess: he had an impure thought about Claire while Peter was in the room," the Haitian said knowingly.
"You know that suggestion no one's allowed to make?" Matt said.
"Oh, dear..." the Haitian sighed. "He's lucky to still have a head."
"Yeah... he's a little over-protective," Matt chuckled.
The Haitian nodded. "Indeed."
Human beings, even with their gifts, were all too frail. Claire Petrelli knew that, having seen a man with gifts identical to her own beheaded and vivisected until he was well and permanently dead. That did away with anything thoughts of immortality she might have entertained pretty quickly. And after all Peter had lost, she could understand his need to keep the last living member of family alive.
She had been promised that she would be an equal partner in this. That she would treated as an adult, by Peter and all the others. Elle was given more responsibility than her. Elle. She was free to walk among the people she used to murder so casually while Claire was sealed away for her own protection; locked up in yet another one of the ivory tower prisons that the men in her life had been building for her since birth.
She knew that there were plenty of people out there that could kill her, even with her powers.
She just wished they be quick about it.
Hiro and Ando popped back into existence a few blocks away from Central Park, only collapse backwards in a fit of time-sickness.
"Argh!" Ando gagged.
Hiro followed suit. "It's never felt this bad to travel time and space before!" he lamented, trying desperately to avoid expelling his own endocrine system. "I think we must have damaged the time-space continuum."
"Right now I'm more worried about the damage I've done to myself," Ando gasped. It was then that he realized that he was still holding holding the shining metallic head. "Guh!" he shouted, dropping it to the ground and taking a few steps back.
"The futurehead!" Hiro exclaimed. "We brought it back with us!"
"Nn!" Ando replied, having already noticed that much.
"We have to get rid of it," Hiro said with nervous decisiveness. "Bringing it here can only hurt the time-space continuum more."
Ando nodded vigorously. It had been such an amazing adventure that neither of them had really had time to think about time, but now that they finally had a moment to breathe... "Hiro... is this New York?"
Hiro gave his friend a confused look. "Of course, this is New York. We walked down this very street eight months ago when we were trying to get my sword fixed."
"There's something different, though," Ando insisted. "Take a deep breath."
Hiro breathed deep of the New York air.. "It's seems cleaner..." he agreed, crinkling his nose in confusion.
"Right," Ando said.
"It's probably just the time shift," Hiro decided. "Let's bury the head."
Ando nodded. He was sure it wasn't important.