Reporters crowded each other and pushed to the front, trying to get the best angle. Camera flashes blinded spectators from every angle, making causing Gabriel to come outside of the tent. He squinted his eyes, trying to figure out from a distance what was happening. Peter joined him and they walked closer to investigate.
“Is she dead?”
“I can’t believe she did it.”
“Call an ambulance!”
Through the crowd, Gabriel saw her head pop up as she stood.
“My name is Claire Bennett, and that was attempt number…I guess I’ve kind of lost count.”
Peter started shaking his head in horror. He was filled with raw energy and adrenaline, knowing he shouldn’t stand still, but too petrified to move. She was going to ruin it. She was going to ruin everything. Memories flashed through his mind. All of the futures that Hiro had seen. The horrors he saw when he visited his future self. This couldn’t happen. This had to be stopped. They had to stop it.
The questions poured out of the mouths of the reporters at an unprecedented speed.
“How is this possible?”
“Is this some kind of miracle drug?”
“How did you develop this . . . trick?”
“This is not a trick,” Claire said loudly. “You are seeing what you think you are seeing. There are others like me in the world. People with abilities; people who can do amazing things!”
“This way,” Peter said.
They pushed their way to the front of the crowd. The people were dazed and stunned, without a word.
“Do something,” Peter whispered to Sylar.
“Why? What if this is the way the world is supposed to be? What if we can live in peace? Without fear!”
“Keep your voice down!”
Peter met Gabriel’s eyes with a fire that Gabriel found difficult to resist, yet he still felt petrified. He was so newly sober, still vulnerable, inches from the towering edge of relapse. Peter would not rob him of his moment of hope. His curse was a battle with every moment. Every second he wanted to act out, to understand, to rip open, to kill. Peter had lived with this for such a short while, he couldn’t possibly understand it. The drive, the hunger, the starvation. He was helpless. He had so badly wanted to kill Doyle just moments ago. He couldn’t bear to relieve himself of this glimmer of hope. This world-changing moment. That things could change. That he could live without fear, as one of the heroes.
One of the heroes.
Just then, he saw it. The fear, the hunger, the paranoia; it all left him in an instant. He only felt one thing, one word, one name. Claire. Claire was in danger. He had to save Claire.
A bullet pierced his shoulder as he lunged past Claire. Screams erupted and the crowd fled. Even the news crews ran. The place was nearly vacated in a matter of seconds. Peter saw the revolver smoking in the hooded figure’s hand. He threw his hands to the ground and a tunnel of rock threw the man on his back.
Gabriel clutched his chest and screamed in pain. Despite the throbbing sensation, he dug his fingers into his shoulder, screaming more with every moment. He pulled out the bullet and dropped it on the ground. He slowed his breathing as his skin closed over the wound and mended itself. His vision was blurry from the hormones pumping through his body. He looked up and saw Peter holding the man on the ground next to one of the tents, earthen rubble behind them.
“Are you okay?” he asked Claire.
“Of course I’m okay!” Claire exclaimed. “What did you think you were doing?”
“He was going to shoot you!” Gabriel said.
“And I would have survived!” Claire said.
Right. He should have thought of that.
Gabriel walked briskly to Peter and the stranger without a word to Claire. She didn’t want to talk to him or see him, and he knew that.
“Who are you?” Peter growled.
The man said nothing.
Peter punched him and asked again.
“Who are you? People don’t come to carnivals ready to kill.”
“I’m a man ahead of the curve,” the stranger said as he spat out blood. “Trust me, I’m not that only one that wants her dead. It’s only a matter of time. You may think this is a brave new world, but you’ve just sentenced your little immortal girl to a living Hell.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Peter, we have to get her out of here,” Gabriel said.
“Not before he gives us more information,” Peter said without breaking eye contact with the stranger.
“You can’t stop it,” the man said. “I have seen it. I only came here so I could stop it all from happening, and even I couldn’t do anything about it.”
“What?” Peter asked, perplexed.
“You will know. The Age of Buhari is coming, Peter. And you can’t stop it.”
Peter scowled, took the man’s head, and bashed against the ground, knocking him unconscious. He took the man’s gun and left him. Noah was already getting Claire in his car when they got back to her.
“Who is he? I want to talk to him.”
“Noah, calm down,” Peter said. “He isn’t going to give us anything.”
“Calm down? Calm down?! He just tried to kill my daughter!”
“We need to get her out of here, not take revenge,” Gabriel said.
“Don’t you ever talk to me about my daughter,” Noah said. “I’d sooner have Lucifer give me advice about Claire’s well-being than you.”
“I just jumped in front of a bullet for your daughter.”
“Too bad it didn’t stick.”
“Stop it! Both of you!” Peter said. “Claire is in danger. The only way we’ll be able to keep her protected is if we move fast. We’ll take her to my place—”
“Your place? I’m her father, she’s coming with me!”
“Your house is the first place they’ll look,” Peter said. “She was on the cheerleading squad and she has a Facebook, it’s not going to be too hard for people to find her picture on the internet. And once they do, your apartment is the first place they’re going to go.”
“Doesn’t anyone care what I have to say?” Claire asked from inside the car.
“Sweetie, this is for your own good.”
She was out of the care in the blink of an eye.
“Don’t give me that! This is my life, and I’ll go where I want to!”
“Okay, fine, where do you want to go?” Noah asked.
“I’m going to Peter’s.”
Noah sighed, seeing that he was outnumbered.
Hiro and Ando stood next to Noah, and Ando spoke.
“What can we do?”
“Hide,” Peter said. “Things may get better, but they’re going to be worse first. Get hidden and stay hidden, because they’re going to come after you.”
“Who?” Hiro asked.
“The radicals. The ones who want us dead.”
He turned to Gabriel.
“Take him,” he said, gesturing to the stranger. “I have a feeling he won’t give us any more information, but we can’t have him getting back to wherever he came from, or to this Buhari. I have a feeling things are about to get ugly.”
“How do you know this is our future?” Gabriel asked. “Couldn’t this be the start of something great?”
“I know it’s out future,” said Peter, “because I’ve seen it.”