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Author’s Note: A sequel to my stories “Deep Sleep” and “Sounds”.
Art of the story was made by Krystal (Chosenfire chosenfire28).
Written for Heroes Big Boom’s (heroes_bigboom) Round Three at LiveJournal.
He feels the last few inches of the spike sliding out of his skull, and everything is silent. He blinks, slowly, eyes regenerating to restore his vision.
Nathan is standing next to him, a smile on his face, although it seems a little… off. Everything seems a little strange. “Come, Pete,” Nathan urges. “Come give your big brother a hug.”
Peter leans forward and sits up, then hugs him. Some part of his mind is trying to tell him this is illogical. “Nathan?” he murmurs, voice barely there yet. His eyes slide past his brother, noticing a few unmoving bodies on the floor. No blood. The lights are flickering irregularly, electricity cracking in the air. The smell of burnt flesh…
Nathan just smiles, sliding a hand through his hair, catching Peter’s gaze again. “I’ve come to release you, Peter,” he says and smiles.
Not his brother’s smile.
Peter woke up with a start. He blinked once, then looked to the side – and jumped as he found Nathan beside his bed, head resting on his arms, brown eyes locked on Peter. Staring.
The younger man shifted uncomfortably, sitting up a little. His head was spinning, making him feel unsteady even while he wasn’t standing.
“Nightmares?” Nathan asked.
“How long have you been sitting there?” Peter questioned in return. It was really making him nervous, because Nathan was still looking at him. Staring… because there was no way someone could call that ‘looking’ – there was too much weight in his stare, too much intent and focus. Peter wished he would look at something else.
Nathan smiled at him instead of giving him a response, then got up as if watching Peter hadn’t been all that important. He moved to a table at the other end of the room, shifting some supply boxes, but when Peter looked up, he could still find the older man’s eyes on him, watching him through a mirror hanging on the wall.
Peter wasn’t sure what it was, but it made him uneasy. Nathan had never made him feel that way, really; not as far as Peter could remember, but then, his memory was acting up these days. It was like someone had put it all on film, then cut away a piece…
Nathan’s brown eyes flickered, and Peter blinked, looking away. Sometimes he was certain something about Nathan had changed, but he just couldn’t put his finger on it.
Ever since saving Peter, Sylar watched him carefully. When he was awake, he kept his eyes on him, making sure he was always aware of what Peter was doing. When Peter was asleep, Sylar would sit next to him, his mind embedded in Peter’s dreams, making sure inappropriate visions stayed away. He had never met a person who dreamt so much and so vividly, and while most of Peter’s dreams were nothing to be worried about, they made him frown a lot – not to mention questioning the younger man’s sanity.
But he had decided to play this game as long as he could, which meant that instead of being annoyed by Peter’s mind and its odd creations, he milked it for all its worth.
When he rescued Peter from his self-imposed imprisonment and waited for him to come back to life, it had taken him a few seconds to realize that someone had tampered with Peter’s memories. Luck was with him, though; he had decided to wear Nathan’s face to get a rise out of Peter, but instead he realized that even after all this time, Peter didn’t question a single one of his brother’s words. The suspicion lasted longer than Sylar would have liked, but it wasn’t enough to alarm Peter. Not yet at least. Peter saw, heard, and touched Nathan, and that seemed to be enough to convince him that it was his brother although a small part of his mind remained in doubt.
Sylar was smart enough to see an opportunity when it was so openly offered to him: as long as Peter believed he was Nathan, however grudgingly, he would be much easier to handle. Even when Peter remembered that he was no longer confined to one power at a time… Sylar was still in the process of discovering how many memories Peter had lost, but it seemed he wasn’t aware that his empathy was working, or that he had a wide arsenal of powers at his disposal.
So even when Peter was suffering from nagging doubts, they weren’t enough to make him question what he clearly wanted to be the truth. Sylar knew it would not last forever – things like this never did – but until Peter discovered the truth, Sylar would wear Nathan’s body; wear it and loathe every second of it because it reminded him of the time he had spent locked behind this false face that wasn’t his. But he was patient. He had waited for years for Peter to come to his senses – and a few more after realizing it wasn’t going to happen.
He could wait a little more until the truth was ready to come out of its cocoon, its once fragile wings strong and resilient against the changing wind.
Nathan never told him where exactly they were, but Peter could tell there was something seriously wrong with the world.
For one, he hadn’t seen another human being for… he wasn’t sure how long. That detail was kind of foggy.
Another thing was that there was nothing going on. The buildings were empty, most of them a little unkempt and worn out if not completely broken apart. Where Nathan found their supplies – food and such – was beyond Peter. There was no electricity, no stockpiles of food and supplies, or clean water in the pipes. It would have been wrong to say there was nothing alive because sometimes he saw animals in passing, but even those were few and far apart.
There were clues, though, like the one he stumbled upon that morning as he walked down to the beach; his leg got caught on something, and after several hours of digging, he had managed to uncover enough of it to tell it was a bent, rusty sign welcoming him to California. It was the closest to discovering their location that he had come to up to this point. He spent the next few hours uncovering the rest of the sign, then sat down beside it, staring at it as if he was expecting it to tell him its life story. It didn’t, of course, and when Nathan came looking for him, it seemed his brother wasn’t pleased.
“But, Nathan,” Peter insisted, sitting in the dark sand. He always accepted that Nathan didn’t want to talk about it, but today he was too curious. “Have you ever looked at the sea?” he pointed out, away from the shore. “I’ve even flown above the surface, and for miles and miles you can see random objects sticking out of the water. Some of them… well, they look like old structures, like buildings.” He didn’t dare go underwater because there were some strong currents, but by using Nathan’s ability to fly he had been able to take a look further off shore than his eyes could see. It was mesmerizing – and frightening.
Nathan sighed and sat down beside him. “I know I’ve kept the truth from you, Pete,” he said haltingly. “It’s painful to remember it. Indeed, we are where the State of California used to be. There was an earthquake, many years ago. It was a terrible ordeal. Millions died. Cities were wiped out. The restless tectonic plates here caused enormous destruction, washing almost the entire state into the sea.”
Peter gaped at him. “The whole state?”
“It was a huge disaster,” Nathan pointed out, as if that explained all of it.
Peter looked towards the sea, suddenly apprehensive of what waited below the few peaks of stone and steel he could see protruding from the water. “When did that happen? What caused it? And how come I can’t remember any of it? And… that doesn’t explain why we’re the only people living here,” he added. Now that he had got Nathan talking, he wasn’t going to stop.
The older man sighed, looking at the old, worn sign beside them. “What usually causes these things? It was a natural disaster of huge proportions. I wish I couldn’t remember it most of the time, so you’re lucky, Pete, not to recall it.”
“There’s a lot else I can’t remember,” Peter muttered, kicking the sand. “Like why we’re here, just you and me?”
“I’m keeping you safe, Pete,” Nathan said, placing his arm around Peter’s shoulders, pulling him closer. “You have to trust me. Things got ugly back home, but we’re safe here.”
Peter nodded. He could remember some kind of interference by the government, but the details were hazy. Nathan was just trying to protect him, and he was glad. “I trust you, Nathan,” he said with a smile, then looked at the sea again, although it was hard to forget that beneath the waves lay miles and miles of destroyed cities that used to be filled with life.
Peter walks on a dirt road. It makes a sound beneath his feet; with each step, small stones grind against each other beneath the soles of his shoes. On either side he can see trees, two neatly planted rows that follow the road – and all of them are dead. They are not burnt, and all of their limbs are intact, which makes Peter uneasy.
He keeps walking, and after a while comes to a house at the end of the road. There is a car parked outside, dented and a little rusty. One of its doors is ajar, and Peter cautiously peers in, but there’s no one there. He takes a better look, finding some old papers, dated March 2014.
A sound comes from behind him, and Peter spins around, almost hitting his head on the roof of the car.
Behind him stands a little girl, dirty and pale. Her little fists are clenched, and she reeks of fear.
“Are you okay?” Peter asks kindly.
The girl doesn’t say anything.
Peter looks towards the house, then at her again. “Where are your parents?”
“My family’s sick,” she says.
“Maybe I can help,” Peter offers. He is a nurse, after all.
The girl leads him to the house and pushes the door open, but she doesn’t enter. “Mommy said I shouldn’t go in. Not before she said I could, because they are all sick.”
Peter nods and steps inside. The stench is mind-blowing. He cringes, steps further – and sees the bodies. One of them is huddled on the floor, two on the beds, all of them clearly several days old. All of them are covered in boils, and Peter remembers a picture from their school book; radiation poisoning.
He goes back out, feeling sick. He looks around for the girl, but can’t see her anywhere. There’s only the sound of wind, swaying the overgrown weeds on the yard. Looking around some more, Peter wonders if she’s afraid of him.
“Hello?” he calls out. “It’s okay, I won’t hurt you.”
He rounds a corner of the house, then comes to a violent halt as he first sees the little girl’s body lying on the ground, then looks up at the wall behind her and reads the words that are getting messier by the second as the red liquid slides down the wooden surface:
He can smell the blood and see the rest of it soaking to the ground beneath the girl. Her face is now full of blisters too, and Peter is absolutely certain there weren’t any before…
Cautiously he looks at the letters again, almost unreadable now as the blood is sliding and smearing the writing. The words are creeping him out almost as much as the dead family inside, and the dead girl who wasn’t dead a minute ago. Who killed everyone? Peter doesn’t understand, but somehow he feels like the message is meant for him, and he doesn’t recall killing anyone, much less –
Nathan’s voice dug through the haze of the dream, pulling Peter out of it.
“Peter, you’re having nightmares again.”
Of course Nathan was there, sitting on the side of his bed, one hand on his arm. Peter blinked rapidly, sweat sliding down the back of his neck, his hair stuck to his skin rather disgustingly. Eventually he nodded, wondering how Nathan knew. Had he been shouting out loud, or was it just so clear…?
Nathan smiled a little, smoothing his hair. “It’s okay. I can tell, after all these years.”
Peter guessed Nathan was right.
“Want to talk about it?”
Surprisingly, Peter did not. He usually told Nathan everything, but this… he didn’t understand the dream, and until he did, he didn’t feel like sharing.
It’s silent. The wind sways the seat of a swing set, a sharp creak filling the air at each movement. The ground is littered with garbage: hats, papers, trash, clothes, toys.
Peter tries to step around them, but he’s too busy looking at the unmoving rides of the amusement park. He has never thought a place dedicated to fun could be this… scary.
No lights are flashing. There’s no laughter or screams. Nothing moves but a torn flag that has tangled around its pole, and still the wind is trying to tug at it.
He wonders for a moment if there should be a Ferris wheel somewhere; his mother likes them because they move so slowly, she says, and she has time to look around. Peter gazes around for one – which he shouldn’t have to do. He walks on until there is an obstacle in his path. It takes him a moment to realize that it is a ride, but instead of towering above him, it has been smashed down to the ground. The asphalt is broken beneath it, and he is pretty certain that the dark brown stains are not candy…
Sidestepping, he moves on, more frantically now. Most structures seem almost whole, but every now and then he can see cracks in the cement and finds another fallen ride. And eventually he finds the Ferris wheel; he can’t see all of it because the wheel continues so far out on each side that parts of it disappear beneath other destroyed rides and buildings…
He walks along it for a while, then away. He is feeling sick and cold. “What’s going on?” he mutters to himself.
Passing a chair swing, he suddenly notices a little girl sitting in one of the chairs, moving slowly back and forth. Peter walks a little closer, watching her, making sure not to blink in case she might disappear or something. He stops once he’s in front of the child, and she looks up at him, still swaying softly.
“Where is everyone?” Peter asks.
“You killed them,” the girl says matter-of-factly.
“What?” Peter exclaims. He looks at the girl, and notices that a trail of blood is starting to make its way down from her hairline. Then another, and another…
“You killed everyone,” the girl whispers.
“But, no, you don’t understand –” Peter tries.
The girl sags in the chair, going limp. Peter moves towards her, reaching out, his heart beating hard –
Nathan shook him so violently he almost fell from the bed. His fingers that had been reaching for the dying girl now clasped his brother’s shoulder, determined not to let go.
“Peter,” Nathan said again, softer this time, almost whispering.
Peter just held onto him, shaking, trying to solve the puzzle tearing at his mind: why was he having these dreams?
Smoke is thick in the air. Glass… shards of glass are floating like snowflakes. It takes Peter a moment to realize that everything is moving in slow motion.
He looks around, moving faster than the world around him. There is a pressure in his head, as if he’s just about to teleport…
Peter isn’t certain where he is, but he is at once certain that he doesn’t want to be here; buildings are coming down all around him. Shattered skyscraper windows fall like rain. Flames, looking strange while barely moving, are engulfing the ruins. He looks down, finding people. Some of them are running along the streets. Some are falling from the collapsing buildings, their fall no faster than the descending glass. It looks like they’re trying to swim.
He can feel his heart beating frantically. He wants to scream. Wherever he looks, destruction spreads, and he doesn’t even know where to start if he wanted to save someone…
Peter shouts in frustration, and as if spurred on by the sound, everything falls back to normal speed: glass rains down on him, making him crouch lower, hands on his head. A body hits a car parked next to him, a sickening sound of broken bones and bending metal make him retch.
Anxiously he looks around, hearing the collapsing buildings coming down around him. Smoke and debris mix in the air. Screams… screams are everywhere, pushing into Peter’s head. He kneels down in the middle of the street, on top of broken glass, head bowed and panting hard. A high-rise crashes beside him, making the ground jump, and it almost touches his toes as it lands. Peter can feel the impact, and the whoosh of air, but it doesn’t move him. As if he isn’t really here at all…
A scream fills the air, and Peter looks up just in time to see a body being flung out through a building’s window, flames and the sound of explosions following. She falls, landing ten feet from Peter, body twisted and unmoving, pieces of glass and metal sticking out of her flesh.
Peter sits still, shivering. He can’t stop staring at the body – just a child, a little girl – even though everything is coming apart around him.
The girl moves suddenly, and Peter almost jumps out of his skin. She rolls over onto one broken arm so that he can see her face, and for one brief second he is certain he has seen her before, only he can’t place her. Not with the torn, bloody skin and smashed bones.
“You killed everyone,” the girl states, her jaw moving funnily, but the voice comes out clear. Blood drips from her lips, her eyes stare at Peter. Dead, bloody, broken – accusing.
A store across the street explodes into flames, and Peter closes his eyes against the flying debris. His skin burns, and the girl is screaming as if she is falling all over again.
Peter woke up with a gasp, and for a moment he just touched his face, certain that he could still smell the destruction if he just inhaled deep enough.
Part of him was glad to notice it had all been a dream.
A bigger part wondered if he was going insane.
He had hoped the dreams would be erratic and come at random, but after several months had passed and Peter saw them whenever he closed his eyes… Sylar knew his brain was trying to send him a message although it seemed Peter still wasn’t convinced about that.
Most of the time Sylar caught the pattern and changed Peter’s dreams into something more peaceful before they got out of hand, but there were times when he wasn’t watching as attentively as he should have been, or he was gone from the other’s immediate vicinity. Each time afterwards he could see the look on Peter’s face, though, like he had been shot in the gut, and Sylar couldn’t help but feel irritated.
Sometimes he was tempted to shove the truth down Peter’s throat, but their current arrangement also had its rewards. For one, they weren’t constantly arguing, and while Sylar sometimes missed a good fight that would bring the taste of blood to his mouth, he would have this instead – as long as it lasted.
It seemed Peter’s guilt was so deep, though, that no amnesia could hold it at bay forever.
That the younger man hadn’t told his brother about the nightmares was odd. Sylar tried to pry into his thoughts to figure out the reason for that. It seemed Peter was both afraid of and determined to find out the meaning of the message his dreams kept handing him; he didn’t want to tell Nathan until he knew for sure. There was also shame, bitter and acidic, which made Sylar frown each time he encountered it. He couldn’t believe that the main reason Peter didn’t speak of his nightmares was that he felt like maybe he had done something terrible, and he didn’t want to disappoint Nathan.
Sylar felt like gouging out his own brain at the uselessness of that thought.
The longer that went on, the better he understood why Peter had allowed men weaker than himself to kill him, then bring him back to life so that they could order him around to do their dirty work. Slavery was an old practice, but as long as men like Peter existed, it wouldn’t disappear from the world.
Unless, of course, there was someone to set them free.
Nathan was out looking for food. Peter often volunteered to go with him, but his brother always told him it wasn’t safe out there, and that Peter was out of harm’s way when he stayed home. The word ‘home’ sounded strange because Peter still expected them to go back to New York. He trusted Nathan’s judgment, though; he had kept them safe thus far.
Yet no matter how great his trust in his brother, the dreams he was having from time to time made Peter suspicious of the reasons for their hiding. Had he done something terrible, and now Nathan was forced to live out here with him, alone and away from all other people? He couldn’t remember, which infuriated him. Peter knew he could have plainly asked Nathan for the truth, but he wasn’t ready for it yet. Somewhere in his mind was the key to the answers, and he would find it.
In the meanwhile, he just had to go on dreading each time he closed his eyes and hope there would be no vision of terror and gore waiting for him. The girl that kept following him from one dream to the next had her voice haunting Peter’s waking thoughts as it was, and he needed no more reminders of her creepy, pain-filled proclamations. The voice of someone who was already dead… It didn’t make a whole lot of sense, but then, none of those dreams really did either.
Peter wished he knew what to do. Should he pursue the hidden meaning of these dreams like he first did with those of flying, or should he keep away from them? Had he killed everyone, or was it going to happen some time in the future? And if it hadn’t come to pass yet… why was he feeling so strongly about it after each dream?
Agitation twisting his gut, he kicked a piece of metal lying on the ground. The impact made his toes hurt, and he grabbed at it instead, hurling it away. He watched it go, then looked down to his hand, noticing the burning pain. Blood was sliding down the side of his palm, a long cut parting his skin. Peter grimaced, holding his hand still, and for a brief moment he thought of Claire, and how he had often taken her ability to heal for granted; yet, she felt pain, but not for all that long… and he had an inkling of a memory that she had said the pain, too, disappeared at some point. It hadn’t for Peter – not as far as he could remember. He had just learned to tune it out, to re-direct the information about pain away from his brain.
He frowned. Strange how he had no real memory of it. All he could remember clearly was feeling pain when he was shot, or stabbed. He couldn’t remember the exact moment when he learned to block the pain from his brain. But he was certain he had done that.
Looking back down at his hand, he gasped out loud. Before his very eyes the wound was healing. Peter raised his hand, turned it around, watching the wound close, then fade completely. The pain was gone, too. “Oh my god…” he said very slowly, favoring each word.
He had Claire’s power. He had Nathan’s power. Or did he?
Carefully he jumped off the ground, and sure enough, he could still fly. How could it be he had not even realized he had two powers?! He hadn’t managed to make two powers stick at once since… not since his father took his original power away from him.
Peter landed again, and walked over to where he had tossed the piece of metal. He seized it, then held it with determination as he pushed it against his other hand. It cut to his skin, making him bleed and hurt. He concentrated, then braced his body and kicked himself off the ground.
He was flying – and his hand was already healing.
Peter threw aside the scrap of metal as he watched the regenerative power work, his eyes devouring the sight as he soared higher and higher in the air, joy filling him. He didn’t know how it was possible, but it was working. “I have to tell Nathan,” he muttered to himself, grinning – then stopped. His mind flipped back to the first moment he could clearly remember, which was Nathan saving him from that… place.
The thought came, unbidden and unexpected: did Nathan know?
But how could he, and why would he not tell Peter he could hold onto more than one power at once? Perhaps they had done tests, and altered Peter’s DNA or something. Maybe Nathan was just as clueless as he was.
It had begun.
Sylar could tell something was off as soon as he flew in. Peter approached him, a look on his face; he had discovered something, and was bursting to tell his brother about it. Sylar’s thoughts scanned the younger man’s brain at once, and he saw, felt and tasted the news before Peter even got one word past his lips.
“Nathan, I can heal.”
In his mind, Sylar swore.
Nathan’s face didn’t flinch, more than into some kind of a half-smile after a slight delay. He could feel Peter waiting for his response. “How do you know?”
“I cut myself, and thought of Claire. Next thing I know, I’m healing. I tried again, and I could fly and heal at the same time.” Peter was excited, but there was also a hint of nervousness. Not knowing how this had happened was clearly upsetting Peter.
“Well…” Sylar said haltingly, “perhaps that power sticks? After all, you didn’t have to really think about her to heal, right?” He was grasping at straws, but Peter swallowed the bait whole.
“Yeah, that could be it… After all, it brought me back from the dead a few times.” Peter was a little disappointed, and Sylar put a big, nice smile on Nathan’s face. It felt more and more like a lousy rubber mask these days.
“Don’t worry about it. I know it’s hard, not remembering everything you’ve been through,” Sylar explained, resting a hand on Peter’s shoulder as they returned to the abandoned building they had selected as their home.
“You could tell me about it.” This time it wasn’t a mere plea; Peter was probing, wanting to hear Nathan’s response.
“I’m sorry, Pete, but I know less than you think I do.”
Was it just Sylar, or did the lie come out of Nathan Petrelli’s mouth a lot easier than it should have?
Nathan had been gone more than usual. Peter didn’t know why, his brother wasn’t telling him, and something was clearly wrong because there was that look on Nathan’s face every time he left. But then, there seemed to be a lot of things going on with his brother… Most of the time Peter felt confused when he was watching him; he had always been able to read Nathan, but these days it felt like he was watching a total stranger wearing his brother’s skin.
Since he discovered he could heal, Peter had been flying around more than before. He felt more confident about his powers, somehow. The knowledge that he could heal was comforting, and gave him a sense of strength he had been missing lately.
The further he went, though, the worse he felt. Maybe there had been a childish hope in him to find people, but he just came across more destruction and more abandoned cities. It was a sad sight, and sometimes he would land and walk the streets, feeling the emptiness. His dreams came back to him strongly at such moments, and he wondered what he had forgotten. There was something significant, he knew, but he couldn’t grasp it.
With Nathan gone most of the time, he was left to entertain himself. Peter knew brooding wasn’t good for him, especially when he felt closed-off from the rest of the world, but the echo of his dreams lingered in his mind, forcing him to pay attention. Some days it got too intense.
Just like one morning when he was sitting near the shore, thinking about his dreams, watching as a random peak of some sunken structure was revealed by an occasional wave. He often thought of the myth of hidden Atlantis, and it was the only thing to cheer him up from the brutality of reality. Nathan always said he felt sorry for something he couldn’t fix, or change. Peter often wondered if he was right saying that.
He sighed, then looked up to the sky, leaning his head further and further back until he turned around to keep from falling. The thought of sunken, broken cities and millions of lost lives was bothering him, as it did from time to time, and instead he looked towards the miles of deserted terrain stretching out in the other direction.
While ghost towns and cities were terrifying in their own way, it was still concrete evidence that the world Peter had known had been there, and was now merely broken. It was something he could touch – streets he could walk – instead of just watching it from a distance, a shadow beneath the water.
Peter got to his feet, brushed the sand off his clothes, then bounced off the ground. Air whirled past him as he zoomed into the sky, flying inland. He passed few familiar cities – he didn’t know what they used to be on the map, but he had explored them often enough to recognize them – but today he wanted to go further still. So he flew and flew until he was afraid to go on without getting lost. He didn’t want to explain to Nathan how he had lost his way and ended up flying blind for days.
He landed on a hill, looking around. The Rocky Mountains loomed in the horizon. A cracked highway ran into the distance, leading away from him until it disappeared from his view. Here and there rose an abandoned building; some of them stood broken and lonely while others had crumbled to the ground as if a huge fist had smashed them into pieces.
Peter looked around, his ears straining to hear something other than the sound of the wind or his own breathing. The silence bothered him sometimes; he had always lived in a world of noise, but these days there were more sounds in his dreams than when he was awake.
He gazed up at the sky, wondering how much noise there was that he simply didn’t hear. Because he remembered… he had met a guy once, with an ability to hear frequencies like skipping between radio channels. Peter couldn’t recall what he had looked like, or where they had met, but he was fairly certain he’d had that power. The power to listen to silence, and find noise in there…
Closing his eyes, he held his breath, trying to listen. He knew it was stupid, but there was nothing else for him to do so what did it matter? He could stand there all day, pretending that he could hear something others didn’t. Maybe an old 80’s song, or the scoop from last night’s baseball game. Anything but the deep, oppressing silence he and Nathan lived in.
A scratchy noise filled his head suddenly, making him jump a little and lose his concentration. He blinked, staring at the dry, desolate land around him, and wondered if he had just imagined it. To be sure he closed his eyes again, forced his body to relax, and reached out. He tried to silence his mind because he wasn’t sure if the mantra ‘please be there’ could be messing with the possible sound.
Please… he whined in his head, but there was nothing.
He opened his eyes and huffed –
“We have located the target.”
A male voice said, scratchy as if coming through some kind of filter, but it was there.
Peter held his breath.
“Do we have the permission to engage?” The same man again.
“Do we have identification? How close is the target?” Another voice, coming through a filter too with much more authority; the way Nathan spoke sometimes.
“We have a visual, Sir. Sylar is moving close to the ravine.”
Peter’s brain came to a screeching halt. For some reason that didn’t sound like it should, and he frowned until he remembered why: they had buried Sylar. Burned his body in Coyote Sands…
He focused again, wanting to hear more. He had no idea what the ‘ravine’ was, but it sounded like a landmark… Something significant. It took him a while to rediscover the transmissions, but he was unwilling to go without more information, and eventually heard the familiar voices run through his head again,
“Target has crossed the ravine. We are moving into position.”
“Fire when you have a clear shot.”
“Guns in position. Launching in… 3… 2… 1…”
Peter jumped when he heard an explosion in the distance. He looked up, again losing track of the transmission, and instead tried to find the source of the sound. He couldn’t see anything, so he pushed off the ground and flew higher. Just before he reached the clouds, he thought he saw something briefly flashing in the east, but he wasn’t sure. He couldn’t find the voices again either, and knowing that he had already been gone longer than usual, he headed back towards California.
Their home was empty when he arrived there, and he stepped back outside, walking around restlessly until he heard the telltale sound of Nathan’s approach. He had barely landed before Peter opened his mouth:
“Did you know Sylar is alive?”
The look he got in return was both secretive and confirming Peter’s suspicion.
“Why can’t I remember?” he finally sighed, kicking the sand in his feet. “And why didn’t you tell me?”
“Would it have made a difference?” Nathan was acting reasonable, and it infuriated Peter even more.
“We should go after him.”
“And do what? We don’t even know where he is.” Nathan was putting away bags of food. Since they had no electricity, a well they had found served as their cooler. Peter never dared to ask how far Nathan flew to get them food and other necessities, just like he knew it was smarter to hold back from asking why he couldn’t join his brother.
“What is ‘the ravine’?” Peter asked instead.
Nathan’s hands stopped. He looked up at Peter, and not for the first time was the young man unsure of whom he was looking at. Because the expression wasn’t Nathan’s… and yet it was. “Where would you hear that name?” Nathan asked after a moment, trying to sound casual.
“Just… picked it up somewhere.”
Peter knew that Nathan was aware he was avoiding the truth. But Nathan didn’t press him for more, and Peter did the same.
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