Title: Burning Sun
Author: Del Rion (delrion.mail (at) gmail.com)
v Fandom: Heroes
Era: Post-show, some undefined future
Genre: Drama, AU
Rating: K+ / FRC
Characters: Peter Petrelli (, Hiro Nakamura)
Summary: Peter’s ability to teleport takes him to a place and time he never thought of seeing.
Written for: Heroes_Contest’s (heroes_contest) One-shot Challenge 13: Little Things
Warnings: Possible alternate universe, implied end of all humanity, possible errors differing from actual facts for the sake of fiction.
Beta: Mythra (mythras_fire)
Disclaimer: The show, its characters, its places, and everything else, belong to Tim Kring and the other respective creators and owners of ‘Heroes’. I have made no profit by writing this story, and make no claim over the show.
Feedback: Warmly received. Constructive criticism allowed.
About Burning Sun: I had the last line in my head before I began to write the rest of the story. Instead of trying to work something around a certain pairing, I came up with something a bit more… apocalyptic.
Not a very in-depth story, but I hope you’ll like it nonetheless.
Story and status: Below you see the writing process of the story. If there is no text after the title, then it is finished and checked. Possible updates shall be marked after the title.
Written for Heroes_Contest’s One-shot Challenge 13 (Little Things).
Every time things start to get difficult and the world is seemingly falling into chaos, it is an automatic reaction for a human mind to do one of two things: to go into a panic and hope they can tough this out, or to tell themselves that it could be worse.
Peter had never been good at abandoning hope, so he tried to stick with the latter. It could always be worse. Sometimes he could simply take an example from his past and decide that yes, he had been through things that had looked worse than this. He had survived then, and he would survive now.
But sometimes, it made him wonder what could really be the worst thing to happen. A few scenarios came to mind, like worldwide disease – similar to the one he had seen in the future, caused by the Shanti virus. But even then, people had survived, and could that really be the absolute worst that could happen?
While it was rather unpleasant to ponder such things, at dark, desperate hours of the night it kept haunting Peter’s mind. He once mentioned it to Hiro, since he was also a time-traveler, but as he had guessed, the Japanese man wasn’t willing to entertain such dark thoughts. He was too much of a hero to think of the worst possible thing to happen, because the thing with worst case scenario was that no one could stop them – otherwise they would hardly have ever been categorized under ‘worst things’.
Peter was still intrigued, though. Perhaps it was the dark future he had seen, and the elaborate plans he had helped to stop, but the subject of something so great, so terrible, and so unstoppable kept circling his mind. What could it be?
Then one night, he made the mistake of allowing his mind to swim too deep into that pool of thought.
He kept trying to envision it while he sat on top of the Empire State Building, looking down at the noisily buzzing New York night. The sound of cars and people kept drifting up to him, a steady cacophony that helped to lull his mind away. He thought of the ways that could bring this all to an end.
“What could it be? What could it be…” he kept asking back and forth in his mind. A moment later he chuckled, shaking his head, thinking how ridiculous it was to think of such a thing for no reason. Was his life not bad enough, the challenges he had to face not difficult enough? They were, certainly, but still, to know what could be the worst possible calamity…
The world began to blur around him suddenly, and Peter stood up in alarm, but it was already too late.
Suddenly it was no longer a New York night surrounding him. Even his stomach flipped a little when he looked down along the structure atop which he was standing now. It was… high. “Most certainly not New York,” he mumbled, looking around.
The ground below looked parched, and the fact that he could actually see ground on the horizon told him he most definitely wasn’t in the same city anymore. Skyscrapers rose high around him, but none of them nearly as tall as the one his powers had selected to drop him atop of. Well, at least the view was… well worth it.
He looked around, and the more he looked, the more it felt as if something was seriously wrong. Little things like the fact that he could hear nothing. It was midday, he was pretty certain of that, and it was incredibly bright everywhere – he wished he would have brought his sunglasses with him. When he peered down, he estimated a fall of a couple thousand feet at least. It wasn’t the drop that astounded him, though. It was the fact that below him, nothing was moving. Not a thing.
Peter listened carefully, but couldn’t hear anything other than the lazy wind. He peered up at the sky, lifting his hand to protect his eyes from the unusually bright sun, but he couldn’t see any birds, either. Not one single bird. He wasn’t sure where he was, but he would have still assumed some kind of birds to be around somewhere.
Then it dawned on him. Had he accidentally teleported himself into another broken future? He groaned and walked around a bit, though there wasn’t far to go; the building got thinner as it rose up, and on top there wasn’t that much room to pace. He looked about himself, and figured that perhaps there had been room before, but the debris around him took up most of the space; broken pieces of metal and tangled wires. It had perhaps been electronic equipment of some sort, a long time ago, but now it was simply rusted broken pieces lying here for no reason. Weather had certainly taken the best of the structure. He kicked some pieces around for a moment, then stopped.
There was a creaking noise coming from somewhere below. Right beneath his feet, to be exact. The wind had picked up a little, and now that he paid attention to it, he could feel a slight sway in the building beneath him. He walked back to the edge, and looked around. Some of the skyscrapers had already partially fallen down, and judging from the movements of the one he was currently occupying, it would only be a matter of time before gravity and weather would complete their task.
“Time…” he mused out loud. He wondered what year it was. Perhaps he would find a clue at ground-level. The metallic creaking from beneath him encouraged that idea, and focusing his mind he lightly pushed with his legs and soared into the air. He took his time descending, admiring the tall building that was certainly the highest one he had ever seen. It was possibly also the worst kept building he had ever seen, but then, its neighbors didn’t seem to fare any better. Broken glass windows and bent iron was what made their public face now. If there had been any writings or decoration, those had been eroded from the surfaces long ago. Tattered, torn, faded curtains hung on some of the windows, but mostly it seemed as if they had been eaten away.
He landed after he had looked around enough, and craned his neck to look back up along the building’s side. His eyes ached from the brightness of the sky, and he was aware that the air was unnaturally warm and dry. It was an unpleasant thought, and he briefly wondered if it was healthy being here; how much was his healing power regenerating in his body right this moment? If not for that power, would he already be dead?
Peter wasn’t sure why he would be dead, but somehow, looking up and down the deserted streets, he was pretty sure he wasn’t going to find anyone to ask if it was dangerous to be out here or not.
“Hello?!” he shouted nonetheless. There was barely an echo to meet him, and he huffed. It was too hot to just stand there, so he took off his jacket and walked around a bit. He couldn’t see anyone anywhere. Not a man, not an animal – not even an insect. In the distance, a building crumbled down, as if to show him how much time had passed from that night in New York he had just left.
He hoped to find a piece of paper somewhere – anything to tell him where he was, and when. The whole city looked abandoned, so how come there was no trash he could dig into? He looked around, then saw something that may have been a sign once upon a time, and went closer to see if there would be a hint.
If there had been writing upon it, there was nothing of it left. He traced the surface with his fingers and guessed that the paint must have faded away, just like everything else. “Great,” he muttered, feeling as if he shouldn’t be talking and bothering the silence.
He looked up to the sky again. There was nothing but the bright sun to greet him. No sign of airplanes. No clouds. With a huff, he took one more look around, then tightened his hold of his jacket and kicked himself off the ground.
Peter must have flown for a good part of an hour before he came across another potential looking city. Only, it didn’t look any better than the one he had just left once he took a closer look; broken windows, fallen structures, faded colors and not a soul to be seen. He didn’t even bother to shout this time, accepting that there was no one to answer him.
“So,” he asked himself, suddenly tired of the suffocating silence. Even the creaking of the metal seemed ominous somehow. “What has it been? Famine? Disease? Not an explosion, surely… Maybe radiation.”
Sweating under the sun, with no answer, he soon grew frustrated. In hopes of finding a clue somewhere, in a place that wasn’t directly under the sun, he ventured inside one building. It was chaos in there, but not the kind that he had expected if there had been some sudden, violent end to the people living here. It was like in some program he had seen on TV, about how the world would look like when the human race was wiped of the face of the planet in a heartbeat; everything just stayed where it was until nature eroded them away. It was a grim thought that made a shudder run through him.
He couldn’t find any wood, so he guessed perhaps it had been burned, or then it had rotted away. He preferred the option that someone had used it to warm themselves, because that would explain why he couldn’t find any papers anywhere either. Just metal and plastic and such.
Parched from the sun, he tried one of the taps for water, but after wrestling with it for a moment, he decided there was no water to be had; the tap wouldn’t move, and when he tried to shift it with telekinesis, he just broke the whole thing right off the wall. Now that he thought of it, he hadn’t seen a lake on his way here, or swimming pools although some of the buildings looked like remnants of a hotel.
He wandered deeper into the building, but found nothing that would indicate his whereabouts. Then, finally, when he had phased through some floors and down into some kind of basement, he found a small metal plate with engraved writing in it. His initial delight turned into a frown when he tried to read what it said; even though dirty and worn, he could tell it wasn’t any alphabet he could use. So, his guess was that perhaps he was somewhere in Asia, because it looked a bit like Arabic letters. With a sigh he dropped it, since it was too big to carry around. He tried browsing for something else, but gave up after a moment and returned outside.
Gazing up at the sky, he wondered if he was meant to realize something here. He had teleported accidentally in the past, but usually there was something for him to find there. Something he needed to see. “Well, there’s nothing to see here for sure,” he decided, then took flight again and flew back to the high building he could see even from a distance.
Once he was perched atop of his skyscraper again, ignoring the creaking and swaying, he tried to find something in the wreckage surrounding him. Cables and scraps of metal was all he discovered, though. A structure brought down by age.
He wondered once again where everyone was. If there was still someone here, were they hiding? Peter closed his eyes, tried to focus and find a thought somewhere, but ended with naught. He wasn’t a master in telepathy, but surely in this silence he could pick up at least one thought if there was any to be found.
Frustrated, he kicked at a piece of metal by his feet and listened to it fall, clanking against the building walls on its way down. It seemed to take forever before it was silent again, and just for the hell of it, he spent the next few minutes dropping things and listening to them crash down. There was something very satisfying about that.
He wondered what time it was when he finally sat down on the edge of the building. His feet dangling off the edge, he felt tempted to take off his shirt, but he knew it wouldn’t help him against the heat. He was thirsty, too, but knew he would manage without a drink for a bit longer.
The silence was starting to get to him again, though. The wind had stopped, the sun kept blaring down at him, and the ominous creaks from the skyscrapers were like the electronic hum he was used to living in the middle of; something that was always there.
“Hello!” he suddenly shouted from the top of his lungs, almost scaring himself with its abruptness. No one or anything answered. He wondered if his powers had dropped him into the wrong place. What if there was someone out there, but he was miles, maybe thousands of miles, away from them? Perhaps he was supposed to be dropped off in New York, but instead he wound up somewhere in Asia.
He got up, brushing his jeans, and looked around, trying to decide which way to fly next. Maybe he was close to Japan, and he should go find Hiro somewhere. Yeah, maybe that was it. Find one of the other special people like him.
Peter was just on the verge of a decision, trying to choose between one direction and the next, when it seemed the air got just a tad bit hotter. He looked up, frowning at the sun, then froze. It seemed that the sun was… He stared, he panicked, and just when he could see everything starting to melt and burn, the air evaporating, he teleported back, almost staggering off the edge of the Empire State Building. He caught himself just in time, and threw himself against the side of the building, gasping, feeling his skin patch itself up. His eyes were positively blinded at the moment, but he could hear the calming sound of the cars passing by twelve hundred feet below and the people shouting at each other.
“Oh. My. God.” He said that carefully, one word at the time, and sat down heavily. It still felt as if he was burning, but the building was cool to the touch, and he had never felt so glad for just sitting there, with the notable smell of pollution in the air, listening to the noise everywhere.
He opened his eyes cautiously. His vision was back to normal, and he looked up, barely making out the moon behind the clouds, but happier than ever to see it. Perhaps if he waited for a few more hours, he could see the sun as well – a sun that wasn’t about to eat the whole planet. Peter wasn’t certain if that had been the case, but then, on such short notice, it wasn’t as if he had been taking notes or anything.
Next he wondered why he had teleported there to begin with. What was the meaning of it? What had been the point of almost getting killed over there? A nanosecond more, and surely even his regenerative powers wouldn’t have been able to save him…
Then it dawned to him. “The worst thing that could happen,” he said out loud, with astonishment in his voice. He had wanted to see it, an end to everything, or at least an end to all humankind which was decidedly among the worst things that could happen. And he had. Only, he was certain now that where he had just been, no human had walked for a very long time.
Shivering a little, trying to wrap his head around it, he stood up, and looked down to the streets littered with lights and life. In a few hundred years, or a few million years… or billion… this would all be gone, like over there in Asia. He was sure of that now. But that was so far away he didn’t consider it an immediate danger, which led him to wonder why he had teleported there. Did his power have such a sarcastic sense of humor that it grabbed onto his exact words?
Peter chuckled. He had seen it now. The end of everything. And surprisingly, it felt like such a little thing, compared to all this. The silence, the emptiness… And here, the flood of information everywhere, unstoppable and unaccountable. It seemed so weird that this could all just end. But one day, it would happen, and Peter didn’t think that was something he could stop. There was a fair quantity of things he could fight and try to set right, but some things were beyond him.
The little things like the end of the world.