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Chapter 3

Peter's attempts to convince everyone, including himself that he could walk out of the hospital on his own, were somewhat spoiled when he tripped over his own feet and nearly fell into one of the nurses.

Fortunately Nurse George was experienced at handling Peter, and saw the funny side of it.

Miriam sighed, tiredly. She understood that this was Peter's attempt to reinsert control over his life, to retain his independence, and most of the time she supported this.

However, both before and after an idiomatic fever, Peter's coordination was shot to pieces. Indeed it was one of the few symptoms that gave any warning.

So despite her frustration, she reassured the medical staff that this was perfectly normal, and that Peter was fine. She didn't think they believed her, as she was pretty certain she saw two orderlies and three doctors following them.

The seatbelt, as usual, presented difficulties. Medication for Shanti's virus had the effect of rendering complex movements hard, and the co ordination difficulties from the fever meant that the seatbelt presented a battle, one Peter was determined not to lose. The similarities between the two brothers were never more evident than at that moment, so Miriam had to fight the desire to laugh.

Miriam shut the door, and started the car. Peter lay back against the seat.

"You can fall asleep, you know?" Miriam said, watching the road as they passed out of the hospital. "I won't be offended."

"I'm not tired." The worlds come out in a rush, and are obliviously a lie. Miriam managed to keep her eyes on the road, while she snorted.

"You didn't sleep a wink last night. And don't waste your energy lying to me."

Peter turned his face away from her, as he said, slowly.

"I had that dream again."
"The exploding man?" Miriam asked, though she already knew the answer. And if she was honest, she was annoyed. The therapy was supposed to be helping with the nightmares, but all Miriam had seen it doing was making it worse.

Peter's eyes stayed on the road, but his head moved slightly up and down. Miriam paused. Before working with the Petrelli's, she'd been in the army and worked with combat fatigue cases. The symptoms were not dissimilar to Shanti's virus, and normally she used the same treatment.

Gently, as though to a child, she said,

"Get some sleep huh? You can hop in the back if you think you'd be more comfortable."

The only answer was a small snore.

Nathan had a tattoo. This had been something of a surprise to Tracy the first time she'd seen it.

Nathan didn't seem the sort of guy to get tattoos, and when she'd asked about it, he'd refused to discuss it.

Eventually he'd told her that he got it when he was out in Bonzia, and she had felt obliged to leave it at that. Nathan never discussed his military service with anyone.

She had no idea why these thoughts were going through her head as she sat on the airport lounge. Possibly it was to avoid thinking about the messages left on her phone. One from Nicki and two from Nathan.

Neither were exactly areas she wanted to think about.

She hit the number for the Petrelli's.

Miriam voice, with a hint of a British accent came through the line.

"Hello Miriam." She said.

"Tracy." It sounded like she's been crying.

"Is everything O.K.?"

"Yeah." Miriam said. "I've just been cutting onions." She breathed in. "what's up?"

"I'm trying to get hold of Nathan. He's not picking up."

"he's meeting Hiro Nakamura. Won't be back till late."

"Oh." Tracy said. She really needed to talk to him. "How's Peter?"

The question was polite and automatic, so Miriam answered it as such.

"He's fine. He's sleeping at the moment."

Tracy nodded.

"If you hear from Nathan, let him know I'll be home tonight."

"O.k." Miriam hung up. Tracy sighed and glanced at the clock. Only 4 hours to go.

The smell of smoke was what woke him. The heat from the flames wouldn't come till later.

He tried to get to his feet, but his legs wouldn't obey him. His lungs were screaming at him. He had to get out of here.

"Easy, Peter, easy. It's alright. It's O.K." he opened his eyes to see Miriam peering down at him. The phone was in her hand and could just make out Mohinder's number all but the last three digits.

"I'm alright." He muttered, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. "It was a just a nightmare. Not a hallucination."

She didn't believe him, but she didn't try and stop him as he pulled himself into a sitting position.

"What time is it?"

Miriam glanced at her watch.

"Nearly five." She shrugged. "I was about to wake you up, I need to pick up the boys and Claire, and frankly I don't think I can face Victoria on my own."

If he was honest, Peter wasn't sure he could either. Still he grinned up at her.

"Give me a minute to shower."

The alarm on her phone went off. Claire grabbed for her bag.

"Can you get me a glass of water?" she asked. Zach put down his camera, got up off the bed and headed for the door. He returned a few seconds later with a glass of water.

"This for your medication?"

"It's not medication." Claire said, defensively. At the look on Zach's face, she relented. "Not in the true sense. It boasts my immune system. To give me a chance against Shanti's virus."

She swallowed the small white tablet, as Zach's mother's voice came up the Stairs.

"Claire, you're rides here."

When they got back from the Plats, where the boys had had a play date, there were two messages on the machine.

One was from Nathan, letting Miriam know that he'd arranged to speak to the FBI tomorrow at ten. The second was more mysterious.

"I know who you are."