Dawn was nodding off. She was uncomfortable, but she was so tired that her body just didn't care. She looked up when Edgar handed her his jacket. It was very hot, so she did not understand why he was handing it to her let alone why he had it in the first place.
"Wad it up for a pillow."
"Oh," Dawn said. "Thanks."
"Listen, your friends, when are they getting here? The redhead looks a little worse for the wear, and sometimes, her hair ain't red. Think she can keep this up?"
Dawn looked at Willow. She was showing signs of strain. It had to be tough holding the carnival in place.
"Let me make a call."
"Then you need rest. You'll be no good if you're exhausted."
They landed in Midland just before sunrise.
A panicked Dawn had called saying that Willow was having trouble holding the carnival, and that they needed to hurry, so Noah Bennet had put himself, Lauren, Warren and Gretchen on a plane to the Midland International Airport.
Now they were trying to rent a car.
"This is crap. Why don't we just steal one?" Warren muttered.
Noah looked at him. "That would be a little conspicuous, don't you think?"
"And not to mention wrong," Connor added.
Warren glared. "And you never did anything wrong, Teach?"
"In which life?" Connor asked.
"Hi," a peppy woman with a very heavy Texas drawl said. "My name is Tina. Can I help ya'll this mornin'?"
Connor blinked at Tina. She was all hairspray, fake nails and frosted hair.
"Yes," Noah said, slipping an arm around Lauren. "My family and I just landed and we'd like to rent a car."
"Ya'll don't look alike, and you don't look old enough to have three grown kids," Tina said to Lauren.
"Um... thanks?" Lauren replied.
"Oh," Gretchen said. "We're all adopted, and thank you for bringing up that painful memory."
She sniffed dramatically and hung her head. Connor put a sympathetic arm around her while Warren glared. Connor petted Gretchen's long hair.
"Oh my gosh," Tina said in alarm. "I am so sorry, ya'll. I didn't mean to... Here, let me get ya'll somethin' roomy real fast here. I didn't mean to hurt anyone's feelings, honey. It'll be all right. Family ain't always blood. I just say things sometimes, and I don't think. I didn't mean anythin' by it. Swear."
Connor could feel Gretchen giggling as Tina typed furiously on her computer with her fake pink nails.
"Hey... Dad," Warren said sarcastically. "Can we stop and Ihop and get some pancakes? I'm hungry."
Bennet glared at him. "Sure... Son."
Warren flashed his fake smile with lots of teeth.
Claire woke early. She and Lydia had a plan, but so far it was not working. Amanda was never alone for Claire to grab her and slip away. It was as if Samuel knew what they were planning even thought Claire did not think they were acting suspicious.
Lydia didn't even have to ask what Claire was doing when Claire entered her trailer. She slipped her robe off of her back and held up a hand. They'd come a long way in the few days Claire had been here. Especially with Claire promising to help get Amanda out.
"What am I supposed to do?"
Claire watched with wide eyes as an image appeared on Lydia's back.
"Well, that's not helpful."
"What is it?" Lydia asked. "What do you see?"
"It's a guy," Claire said, frowning. "With long hair and he's... scowling. This is what I get when I ask what I'm supposed to do? I'm supposed to do him?"
Claire's face turned red. Lydia started snickering.
"That came out really wrong, didn't it?"
"Or really right," Lydia said. "He cute?"
Claire tilted her head to the side. "I guess."
"I was just going to take care of him, children. What makes you think I need your help?"
Micah and Molly were struggling where Sylar had them pinned to the wall.
"And I bet Mohinder would be really upset if I cut your little skull open, wouldn't he, Miss Walker?"
"You didn't kill me before."
He glared at her. "I could rectify that now."
"Or you could go help Claire," Micah said.
Sylar looked at him sharply. "Samuel has Claire? Claire Bennet?"
"How many Claires you know?" Micah snapped.
Molly rolled her eyes. "Micah, can we not be snippy with the brain-slicing killer?"
Sylar turned his back and started to pace. Molly and Micah immediately slid down the wall. They'd looked at one another. He'd released them. Because of Claire?
"You gonna help?" Micah asked.
"Ironically, I think I am," Sylar replied in his disaffected tone.
"Because of Claire?" Molly asked.
"Maybe. Or maybe I just don't like the fact that Samuel was using me and thought he could get away with it. Nobody uses me."
Dawn was stiff from squatting and hiding in the bushes all night. She had slept a bit off and on, and now her neck felt funny. She stretched a bit, the sun rising having woken her. She was about to yawn when a hand clamped over her mouth. Dawn squealed and struggled.
"You could be dead right now with as long as I have been watching you. Not very perceptive for the sister of a slayer."
Dawn elbowed Conner in the chest, getting him to release her. She was glad because she didn't want to admit even to herself how nice and warm he had been wrapped around her. She also didn't want to think about that drawing that Micah and Molly had brought from the seer in India.
Mr. Bennet was speaking in animated whisper with Edgar. Gretchen was looking sullen and Warren was looking annoyed. Lauren was checking her gun.
Warren walked over. "Do we have a plan?"
"I don't know," Dawn said. "I think-"
"Oh shit," Connor said, pointing. "Looks like we had better come up with one fast."
Dawn turned. Two girls were running at a dead heat out of the carnival. One of them was Claire. They were also being chased. Dawn was running before she knew what she was doing. She heard someone shout her name. She did not stop. She threw herself full force at the first person chasing Claire and the other girl. Dawn grunted in pain as she hit, but her force did manage to tackle. That had been her goal. Someone grabbed her and yanked her up. Dawn screamed. She heard gunfire. Things were moving so fast. It was quickly spiralling out of control.
Claire just about wet her pants when Dawn came running out of the trees and tackled one of the carnies chasing her and Amanda. She had not expected that. Nor had she expected the group of people running out after Dawn. Her father and Lauren included.
"Claire, get down!"
She dropped, pulling Amanda with her. A fireball hit the ground next to them. Claire looked at Amanda with wide eyes.
"It wasn't me," she said, and then Amanda pointed. "It was him."
Claire blinked at the guy. It was the one from the ink on Lydia's back. She was stunned for a moment. He so was not her type, but the whole fire thing was hot. No pun intended. And Samuel was levitating a rock to shoot at this guy.
"No," Claire shouted as she scrambled to her feet.
She jumped between him and the rock. It went right through her throat. Claire instantly made a gurgling sound. She could taste blood as she fell to the ground.
Warren grabbed her and rolled her over. The blonde was coughing up blood and making a terrible sound. There was a giant hole blown through her neck. Blood was everywhere. He went to put his hand to the wound - like that would help. Then it started closing.
Claire took a great gasp of air when she could.
Willow walked into the open with black hair and black eyes. Wind was swirling all around her, and Edgar was circling her and deflecting all attacks. She was becoming increasingly angry, and after a night of holding the carnival, her control was slipping.
Claire and Warren were both grabbed. Claire screeched and tried to fight. Dawn was grappling with one of the multiples of Eli. Connor was surrounded by most of the rest of them, but he was still kicking their collective asses.
As Mr. Bennet got near Samuel, he grabbed Claire. "Don't, Bennet. She belongs with us."
"Everybody take it easy," Noah said. "You too, Rosenberg."
Connor and Dawn were surrounded by Elis. Connor moved close and slipped his hand in hers. Dawn was surprised by how natural that felt.
"Let go of me, you psycho."
"Now, Claire, that's not very nice."
Everyone froze. Especially Claire. That voice haunted her in her nightmares.
"Here I thought I was the only psycho in your life. Have you replaced me? I think I'm hurt."
"Sylar?" Claire said.
"How's my favorite cheerleader?"
Sylar was standing behind Samuel with Molly and Micah on either side of him.