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The dream is different, somehow. Peter doesn’t know how to describe it, but he can feel it.
For one, he isn’t in the middle of some macabre scene of destruction; the world isn’t falling apart around him. There are no screams, no dead or dying, no cities burning and skies turning black with smoke.
He recognizes the graveyard. This is where they buried their father – or thought they did. Peter never visited his grave unless he was told to.
There is nothing significant he can see, so he walks forward. It is eerie and silent, the sounds of the city muffled, and Peter feels uneasy. Anything could happen. Something always happens in his dreams these days.
Only… he has never known it’s a dream this clearly.
He frowns, turns to take the path on the right – and stops.
There are people standing a few hundred yards from him. A man and a woman. At their feet is what looks likes a freshly covered grave, and slowly Peter moves forward. He stays behind trees and headstones, just in case, and is very glad he did so when he realizes that this dream is indeed different: once he is close enough, he can recognize himself standing there, Claire beside him.
He peers at the elegant headstone, but he is too far away to read the name engraved on it. But he can recognize the one beside it: it’s the one his mother selected for their father after Sylar killed him for sure. Peter swallows, creeps a little closer, trying to listen.
The other Peter looks angry. He is dressed in black, but not in a suit. It seems odd since his mother and Nathan have always made sure he wore a suit for occasions like these. Even Claire is dressed smarter than him.
“It’s okay to feel sad, Peter,” Claire says. She lifts her gaze to look at her uncle. “She was your mother, after all.”
Peter swallows, trying very hard to see the letters now. He doesn’t want to believe it, but somehow… somehow this all seems kind of familiar.
His other self – past, he assumes – just tightens his fists and stares at the headstones and freshly dug ground. “I don’t have to forgive her for the lies we had to pay for. She kept it from us that Nathan’s dead. Lied to us, over and over.”
“I know what she did –” Claire starts, trying to take Peter’s hand.
“I was the one who had to find out!” Peter snaps, shrugging off her touch. His eyes are dark. “I was the one who walked into Nathan’s office, and saw Sylar instead. I’ve had to deal with the taunts, while trying to accept the fact that my brother’s been gone all this time!”
“Well, I lost a father,” Claire snaps. “I lost someone who meant a lot to me.”
“You still have another father; another family. I lost the person who meant most to me in the entire world. And now that mom’s dead, I’ve lost everything. Everyone.” Peter turns away, starts walking.
“I’m still here!” Claire screams. She is crying.
Peter doesn’t turn, doesn’t comfort her. Instead he simply disappears.
In his hiding-place, Peter kneels down. He can still hear Claire crying and aches to go and comfort her, but he can’t. Is this part of the past he can’t remember? And… if Nathan’s dead, and Sylar is alive, and Angela lied to them… Peter feels his heart pumping harder and faster, his chest tight. He’s going to be sick.
He woke up with a start. It was one of those painful ways to return from a very deep, ugly sleep. Blinking, Peter looked around. He was alone in the room. He listened for a while, then slowly sat up on his bed. Still no sound.
His legs were tired as he got up and walked to the door, then carefully opened it. He went and checked Nathan’s room, but found it empty. He couldn’t remember hearing him leave, but after he checked the entire house, he was certain he was alone.
Peter sighed, sat down beside their kitchen table, but got up again after a while, too restless to be still. The dream was clear in his head, his own words, rougher and darker…
“She kept it from us that Nathan’s dead.”
He shuddered, feeling sick again.
“…to accept the fact that my brother’s been gone all this time!”
Each time he played the words over in his head, they sounded more and more like the truth; a long-forgotten, deeply buried truth. While he couldn’t logically explain it, his dream seemed more real than anything he’d felt for a very long time.
As minutes passed, his frustration grew. He wished he could have gone back to sleep and see more, but his mind wouldn’t slow down enough for him to even consider relaxing. If only Nathan had been here, he could have asked him…
Peter stopped pacing. His fists tightened.
In his dream, Peter had said Nathan was dead.
Just days ago, he had heard that Sylar was alive.
While he felt a little suspicious of his dream, he could also remember all those times when he had looked at his brother and felt something was terribly wrong.
Like the first moment he could recall after losing his memory… Being in that facility and Nathan smiling at him, saying he had come to release Peter. Only, it had not been Nathan’s smile. Close, but still not his brother’s smile.
His own words echoed in his head, but he couldn’t remember uttering them, and that was tearing at his mind more and more each second. Peter fisted his hands in his hair, pulling, trying to remember, then stopped when he felt blood running down his fingers. His scalp ached, but the pain turned into a dull throb as his skin healed an instant later.
“I’m sorry, Pete, but I know less than you think I do.” Nathan’s words, just some weeks ago.
Peter decided it was time to stop thinking. He needed to know the truth.
He was flying before he could even think of it, faster and faster away from the sea. Miles flashed past him, wind beating at his face, but he pushed forward. Faster until he reached the Rocky Mountains and had to rise higher so that he wouldn’t go splat into the mountainside. Then forward again, and although he couldn’t see the coast anymore, he knew he was going to the right direction.
Hours must have passed and he began to doubt his own reasoning. There was nothing there but more abandoned land, rural landscape, and broken, long abandoned cities. It was the same world he had been looking at for over a year now.
What did I expect? he asked himself. A great vision? A sign?
He stopped, body aching as if he had run the entire way. Peter rarely felt this powerless and frustrated. Utterly, completely beaten and so tired…
He must have gazed at the shadow in the distance for several minutes before he suddenly realized it wasn’t a shadow. Eyes narrowed, he flew forward, and with each mile he traveled, his heart seemed to get more and more uncomfortable in his chest.
A black chasm opened before him. Burned land began a hundred miles before it, and the tear in the ground spread to his left and right as far as he could see. And the tear… Peter instinctively knew that this must be the ravine. He was still floating high in the air, and the sheer size of the thing made shivers crawl under his skin. Dozens of miles… hundreds… He could barely see the other side of it!
Slowly he landed on the very edge of it, his entire body shaking. He looked down, swallowing, and saw nothing but darkness. Perhaps if the light had been right, he may have seen to the bottom of the gorge – or not. He had no real desire to find out what loomed down there.
As he stood there, feeling small and insignificant, all his dreams of blood and destruction began to make sense. Whatever had caused this… whoever had caused this…
Peter tensed. Nathan’s voice was nothing he hadn’t heard before; he used the same tone when he found Peter stealing liquor from their father’s cabinet.
“Pete, what are you doing here?”
Peter could feel the hairs on the back of his neck rise. He felt cold. With the drop of several miles just a step away, the complete scene of destruction surrounding him, his past self’s words rang suddenly clearer than before.
“You’re not my brother.” Peter’s eyes still stared at the opposite side of the ravine, far in the distance. Actually, he wasn’t certain if he even saw it, or if it was a mere shadow…
There was silence behind him, and Peter frowned, then turned to look. Nathan stood behind him, but his face was totally expressionless. No smile of a shark, no disapproving frown. Just… impassive, looking at him.
“I had a dream,” Peter ventured. “I saw myself, at my mother’s funeral. I said that Nathan’s dead.”
Still no real reaction. There was a flicker in Nathan’s brown eyes, though. “And what made you think that dream was anything but your imagination playing tricks on you?”
Peter shrugged, although it was hard because his body was so tense he could hardly breathe without making a sound. “It felt more real than anything else has since you saved me.”
A smile. Not his brother’s smile.
Peter didn’t know why he felt so certain about it all of a sudden; he had no recollection of it ever happening. Most of his dreams had made no sense recently. And yet…
“Sylar,” he finally said, faintly. He could barely hear it himself.
“I can’t hear you, Peter.” Nathan’s voice, but not his words.
“Sylar.” Peter wanted to shout, but he felt such pressure coming from around him that he couldn’t. He said it louder than before, though.
And there, right in front of his eyes, his brother’s face melted away. His shoulders, his posture, his hair… it all shifted and disappeared, re-forming into a face he remembered almost just as vividly as Nathan’s.
Sylar smirked at him, then laughed. “Took you long enough,” he said, still chuckling. “I almost told you after I had to repress so many dreams in one night – and I knew some of them slipped from my grasp long enough for you to see enough. But you kept going, ignoring the message… What was the message again, Peter?”
His fists ached, Peter was squeezing them so hard. Before this he hadn’t even really considered the possibility, but now… he just knew. “You killed Nathan!” he screamed, then lunged at Sylar.
The other laughed again, clearly amused, and an impact of telekinesis flung Peter back, over the edge of the gorge. With a shocked gasp Peter swiftly took flight, emerging from the darkness of the ravine. Sylar was waiting for him in the exact same spot as before. The only thing that had changed was that he wasn’t smirking anymore. Not even a smile.
Peter landed again, his breaths loud in his own ears. All this time…
“You’re wondering why I didn’t tell you,” Sylar stated. Simple and ruthless; a precise, surgical cut right to the point.
Peter halted. Although he didn’t want to hear another word coming out of this man’s mouth, it was kind of hard to dismiss the fact that Nathan – Sylar – had saved him, and kept him safe. Only… had any of that been true either? Was Peter really a fugitive with a shoot-on-sight note attached next to his image on some wall somewhere? “Maybe,” Peter finally answered.
It seemed that either Sylar was reading his thoughts, or then he was just good at guessing. “How much of it was a lie? What if I told you that none of it was? Other than the part about me not knowing anything, of course.” He huffed, looking past Peter. The younger man didn’t have to turn; he knew that the ravine filled the entire horizon, nothing else.
Sylar took his time to return his attention to Peter; he seemed more thoughtful than Peter ever recalled seeing him. The dark eyes, while still filled with sinister intent, appeared to have less hatred in them than Peter currently felt for him in return.
“The year is 2070. Your world is long gone; your family is dead, your friends are dead… Things have changed,” Sylar told him. “I’m all you have left.”
“Why should I believe you?!” Peter asked, furious – and scared. If Sylar was telling him the truth, then the loneliness of past months wasn’t a lie. It was reality, harsh and unbearable.
Sylar shifted slightly, looking down at the black ground. “At first I pretended to be Nathan because I knew it would mess with your head,” he went on conversationally, looking up slowly. Beneath the bushy eyebrows, his eyes were dark and ominous. “Then I realized you couldn’t remember, so I continued to lie to you because it was easier that way. You were less troublesome when I was Nathan. Ever since I woke you up, though, you brain’s been trying to tell you that everything is a lie – and you took your damn time to figure that out.”
Peter frowned. It was almost as if Sylar was accusing him of being… stupid or something.
The man smiled – or rather, one side of his mouth twitched upwards. “Sure, I did my best to keep some of the most disturbing dreams at bay, but I couldn’t watch you at all hours.”
There were a lot of things he wanted to say, but none of them felt right all of a sudden. Peter still had a huge gap in his memory; he couldn’t even remember for sure how he had found out the truth about Nathan in the first place. All he had, really, was the dream of his mother’s burial, and Sylar’s confession.
Feeling frustrated, he turned around to watch the ravine and the hopeless land of destruction spread around it. “What happened here?” he finally dared to ask. Part of him was prepared for another lie or dismissal.
Sylar took a step forward instead, looking around as well. “We did,” he said slowly, gravely, then smiled again. “You and me, Peter.”
Peter blinked, looking at the other man in confusion. His body was starting to shake.
“You killed everyone.”
The words echoed in his head, over and over. Each dream he could remember. Every gruesome detail of death and destruction. Next to the gaping gorge, it was hard not to believe what Sylar was saying. “How?” Peter finally asked, faintly.
“At this pace, I would say it won’t take long for you to remember it all,” Sylar decided.
“You could tell me,” Peter shot back, taking a step towards him.
Sylar raised one hand, electric sparks between his fingers. He observed the blue light, then glanced at Peter again. “You can’t make me.”
It sounded like a challenge. Peter felt more than ready to take it, although he wasn’t sure what his opponent could do. He wished he could remember which powers Sylar had possessed the last time they fought, but what did it matter when years had passed in between? There was no damn way for him to know what abilities the serial killer had found in between.
Telepathy seemed to be one of Sylar’s many abilities, though, because there was no other reason for him to grin like that after Peter finished his thought.
Determined to end this, Peter rushed the other man, but before he could even think of the most efficient way to hurt Sylar, an invisible force grabbed him, bringing him down to the ground with bone-jarring force. Peter struggled to get up, but a wave of pressure landed on him like a giant foot, squeezing the air out of him faster than Claire’s power could heal him.
Sylar stepped over him, towering between him and the sun, making Peter’s vision a little hazy on the edges. With an unholy halo around his face, Sylar regarded him. His scrutiny had never been easy to bear, and Peter tried to struggle, but each time the pressure increased, draining the air from his lungs, making him feel like he was suffocating.
“You were never strong enough to defeat me,” Sylar said. “Just like you weren’t strong enough to break the world on your own. But that’s okay,” he decided, moving down to one knee beside Peter. “You’re amusing enough to be kept around.” Then he got up and walked away, the pressure slowly fading, allowing Peter to cough and struggle up to his elbows.
“Why did you save me?” he shouted after the other man.
Sylar halted briefly, looking back. “I guess I overestimated my own tolerance for loneliness,” he replied, then shrugged as if it wasn’t important and took off. Peter’s eyes followed his journey through the sky until he was certain that anything he saw was just a trick of his eyes.
Slowly he sat up, feeling drained. The sun was glaring down at him, but the ground was cold beneath him nonetheless. He thought of getting up and flying further east, to see cities and people, but at the same time he dared not to. What if there was nothing there?
“I’m all you have left.”
Maybe Sylar had been telling him the truth. Or maybe this was just another cruel game to twist Peter’s mind. After all, he had thought Nathan was alive all these months, and while learning the truth had been a relief, it was also painful. He had fallen for the act, his own hopes and desires making sure that each time his mind had screamed that something was wrong, he ignored it.
He had wanted Nathan to be alive so badly…
Instead of getting up, Peter just lay back down on the black rocks, feeling defeated and completely alone.
Sylar had envisioned the moment many times, and he felt slightly disappointed once it was over.
Peter knew, but instead of an outburst or a clash of the titans, Sylar had merely left him at the Ravine, conflicted and doubtful. Sooner or later Peter would come around, but for now he was too confused to believe anything he said. Not that belief was mandatory; Sylar’s only concern was that Peter would decide to go out in search of civilization, and end up being captured once again. It would be aggravating after all the trouble Sylar had gone through to release and keep him sane while his mind tried to unlock itself.
Knowing he needed to keep an eye on Peter, Sylar didn’t fly too far. That the empath hadn’t re-discovered his abilities yet was a small victory, because it made it much easier to control him. Sylar was confident of his ability to keep a tight grip on Peter, but sometimes it was nice to see things go smoothly.
Night grew close, and the air got significantly cooler. While the regenerative power would keep him safe, it didn’t mean Peter would feel comfortable once he got cold, and Sylar decided it was time to make his move. He kicked himself off into the air once more and silently soared through the darkening sky. It was easy to find Peter: he hadn’t moved, he was the only living creature within thousands of miles, and Sylar had several powers that could locate him anyway.
Peter sat huddled by the edge of the Ravine, staring towards the opposite side which couldn’t be seen with normal sight.
“Done brooding yet?” Sylar asked conversationally.
Peter didn’t answer, but his shoulders tensed. He was listening.
“There is nothing for us out there,” he added, his words coming out with a tenderness he hadn’t felt for decades – except when he pretended to be Nathan. It was strange how softly the older Petrelli had always spoken to his brother, even when in anger.
Peter raised his head, but didn’t get up yet. He was considering his words, and Sylar waited. He had the patience this would require; Peter had never been one to take his time when he made a decision. He was fool enough to follow his heart.
“Did you mean it?” Peter asked finally. “That you and me… that everyone else is gone?”
“You told me, a few years ago, that Mohinder is dead; had been dead for some time. He was the last one.” Sylar had no reason to lie. The two of them were kindred spirits, their own race among the weak humanity, and after the lonely years he had spent here in isolation, Sylar was tired of pretending he was better off alone. If he had to suffer Peter’s companionship… well, it could be worse.
While he came to that conclusion, Peter had stood up and was staring at him. The brown eyes were narrowed in suspicion. “I wish I could read your mind. There’s… you’re thinking about me, aren’t you?” he demanded.
“Oh Peter,” Sylar chuckled. “We really need to work on that memory of yours.” The memory that was the only thing between Peter and his unlimited powers… “Let’s go. I brought us some fresh bread for supper.” With that he took off, Peter following him.
A bolt of electricity strikes him in the back, and he looks at Sylar who is hovering above him. “Stop!” Peter screams at him. “We have to stop this before it’s too late!”
Sylar doesn’t answer. He is looking at something, and Peter rises higher to see himself. A city up north trembles – then collapses and disappears. Explosions can be heard, and Peter tries to listen harder.
The screams begin. Beneath the deafening roar of shifting earth, he can hear thousands of voices crying out in several languages. Peter cries out in pain, trying to block it out, but it’s all too loud. It’s as if… everyone everywhere is screaming at the same time.
He doesn’t even notice he is falling until Sylar grabs him and stops his uncontrolled fall. The thick eyebrows are drawn together in a frown, but instead of letting Peter go, he holds onto him as the tremors go on all around them.
The ground is being torn apart below them, molten rock sliding out through the rupture, spreading heat and smoke everywhere. Explosions echo in the distance, mingling with the sound of earth collapsing into the gaping wound in the ground.
“We have to stop it,” Peter says weakly.
“I don’t think we can,” Sylar answers.
Peter is covered in blood. Not from head to toe like in some of those horror movies, because that would be absurd, but wherever he looks he can see torn skin, burn marks, and bruises forming. Part of him wishes he had Claire’s ability to heal right now. A bigger, angrier part is glad that he is able to savor the pain.
“Peter!” His mother comes running down the hall. Her hair is a mess, and Peter wonders why that is the first thing he notices. Not the panic in her eyes. Not the unconscious clenching and unclenching of her fists.
“My god, Peter,” Angela Petrelli goes on, halting before him.
Peter automatically stops, not wanting to collide with her. The pain he’s in right now is enough.
Angela is still looking him over, then reaches out to touch, but Peter jerks away. Her look of mortification doesn’t make him want to forgive her. Not this time.
“You lied, Mom,” he says slowly. Talking hurts. Maybe his jaw is broken. Sylar threw a mean punch at him…
All these months.
All the discussions he had with Nathan – who wasn’t Nathan at all.
The hugs, the embraces, the confidential whispers… the secrets; secrets he would have never told anyone but his brother. And now Sylar knows them, and knows exactly how much it will hurt Peter when they are used against him.
And most of all, the greatest pain – a loss that keeps eating at him more and more – is that Nathan is gone, and Peter could never properly say goodbye.
“Peter…” Angela is crying.
Peter doesn’t care. “How could you do it? How could you lie to all of us like that!?” He is shouting, but doesn’t care. A little more pain doesn’t really matter, does it? Peter is in a world of hurt, and he hopes he won’t be leaving it for a while.
“He was my son, my first-born! Don’t make it sound like it was an easy decision to make!” Angela screams back.
“He was my brother!” Peter answers in kind. “All these months I believed I had him by my side, but instead it was…” He can’t say it. Not yet. Not out loud.
Angela knows, somehow, and steps forward again. She has a napkin in her hand, her body trembling. “Peter, let me help, you’re bleeding.” Her voice is shaking. The tears are still on her face.
“Go to hell,” Peter snaps, and finally pushes past her. He is limping, one of his legs almost numb, but he doesn’t care; not as long as his heart is numb with pain.
“What are you going to do?” Peter asks. He isn’t certain if he wants to know, but in a twisted sort of way they are together in this.
“Disappear. Be my own man. You know, there’s lots of empty, unpopulated land on the west side of Rocky Mountains.” The serial killer smiles to himself.
“Contaminated and desolate is more like it. Nothing can live there,” Peter argues.
He feels his skin healing, body catching up. The hollow sensation is still there, though, deep inside his skull where the metal spike was. It still feels like the first time… well, almost. The first time, he didn’t think he would wake up again.
“Do you know your name?”
“Peter Petrelli.” The answer comes fluently.
“Do you know why you’re here?”
Peter hesitates. Then: “I am yet to be told why I’m here.”
The man steps into his line of sight. He smiles. “Excellent. He is stable; we may proceed.”
He walks into Nathan’s study with a silly question in mind – but he forgets it the second he steps through the doors. He sees him standing there, his face – entire body – changing between that of his brother and the man Peter thought they buried.
It is Sylar’s face when he first looks at Peter, half-way morphed from Nathan’s. Then back again. It’s a sickening sight.
“Ma didn’t tell you, huh, Pete?”
Peter can’t think of a reply before he turns into Sylar again, hissing in what sounds like pure agony. “Your damn mother…” His voice keeps changing, making it hard to comprehend the words. “All these months, in this body. Looked into the mirror and wasn’t sure who was looking back… I kept looking at things, and didn’t comprehend. I knew I should, but I didn’t. But it’s all going to end now.”
He doesn’t need to tell Peter it was Angela’s idea, though; Peter instinctively figures that out for himself.
While he has zero sympathy for any pain Sylar might be experiencing, he can still relate because it suddenly hits him this has all been a lie. His brother is long dead, probably before they burned and buried Sylar’s body at Coyote Sands. “I’m going to kill you,” Peter promises. He has never wanted this man dead as badly as he does now, and that’s pretty serious, thinking of how much hatred he felt for him before.
“Go right ahead, Pete,” Sylar smirks, still trying to imitate Nathan’s speech. “Do your worst.” Electricity sparks between his fingers, but Peter doesn’t care that he doesn’t have a power to match the other’s.
“You knew my grandfather, Peter Petrelli,” the boy tells him.
Peter just nods.
A scientist steps closer to him. “Modify his memories. We can’t have an accident like this happening again.”
The boy nods, and his hand moves over Peter’s eyes. Peter sighs and tries to relax. His head burns, and he can feel that something is missing. And then he isn’t all that certain. A strange black boy is standing beside his bed, in a room that looks far too modern to be 20th century. A man circles the table he lies on, but Peter rather looks at the boy.
The boy leans in and whispers in his ear: “You can’t dream if you’re dead.”
Peter frowns. “Yes, you can.”
There was one more flash, far brighter than the ones before. The last actually hurt, and Peter groaned as white agony passed through his brain.
Finally, when he had regained his voice, he gasped: “You can’t dream if you’re dead.”
“You’re alive, Peter,” a dry comment met his insightful statement. “Alive and kicking.” Sylar was standing beside his bed, much like Nathan used to, all those months Peter kept having nightmares. Sylar in Nathan’s body… A wolf in sheep’s clothing. “That was quite a wild ride,” the older man eventually observed.
Peter looked at him, wondering what that meant.
Sylar tapped his head with one finger. “Telepathy. It has been quite interesting to watch your dreams until now. Less naked skin in there than I would have expected from a man of your age, but I guess the gruesome mass-destruction makes up for it.” He turned and went to get himself a cup of water, just like that.
Peter shuddered. Yes, he had sometimes felt like someone was filtering his dreams, but the ones that got through… There had been nothing even remotely sexually arousing in them. “You didn’t have to watch if you found it so distasteful,” he finally groused, feeling like someone had invaded his privacy. Well, Sylar had, and he wondered if he should just get used to it.
“I didn’t want you to find out the truth about me too early. I believe I told you that,” Sylar replied.
“Yeah, it would have been such a loss for your mindfuck to end,” Peter muttered as he got himself a clean glass and some water. His head felt like he had sat in the sun all day; too many memories and flashes pushing in at once wasn’t working, but every time he closed his eyes, they kept coming like a holy flood. The truth about his brother had triggered a lot of memories, and while Peter still felt disoriented, he was putting pieces together at a rapid pace. Sylar wasn’t offering him any help, but he wasn’t stopping him either.
All in all their arrangement was… strange. Peter didn’t know why he had followed Sylar back from the Ravine, but now that his memories began to resolve the forgotten mysteries of his past, it made sense; there was nothing else for him out there, other than cold medical tables and a metal spike thrust into his brain to keep him dead until someone saw fit to wake him up for some patriotic mission. He doubted his own sanity for allowing them to use him like that.
Sylar chuckled where he sat in the corner of the room.
“Stop reading my thoughts,” Peter snapped.
“Start using your own telepathy, and maybe you’ll block me next time. Until then, I guess you’ll just have to deal with it.” A smug grin on his face, Sylar emptied his glass then let go of it, the dish floating through the air towards the sink.
With a sudden burst of anger, Peter swung his hand – and the glass followed the motion to the wall next to him. They both jerked at the sound of the breaking glass, but Sylar’s smile, when he stood up, was as genuine as it could be.
“That’s the sound of progress, Pete,” he noted, then walked out the door, leaving Peter to seethe, alone with the shards of glass that seemed to mock him as much as the other man’s words.
There were days when Peter was convinced his mind was going to fall apart like a badly constructed house of cards. The tension between him and Sylar remained palpable. The number of visions assaulting his brain was overwhelming. Sometimes Peter wished he could just shut it all out, but at the same time he wanted to regain all his lost memories as soon as possible.
As the days went by, he came to one conclusion, though; there was very little pleasantness to remember. So much death, pain, hurt, nightmares and agony… The truth was, Peter had been much happier not remembering any of it.
Sylar kept away from him. There were no dry, biting comments, and he maintained his own face instead of antagonizing Peter with Nathan’s. Peter wasn’t sure why, but as time went by and his past slowly pulled itself together, Peter had an inkling that maybe he knew why Sylar was doing all this.
For one, he had spent a significant amount of time as Nathan, before all this began, and after saving Peter from the US government. He had absorbed Nathan’s memories, thought-process, and learned to instinctively care for things Nathan had cared about – like Peter.
Also, it was one thing to be lonely, a whole other thing to be completely alone. While Peter knew Sylar went to get food and other necessities from cities on the other side of the Ravine, he still spent a significant amount of time alone, away from any other living creature. The silence was deafening sometimes, and if it was ready to drive Peter nuts after a few months –even when he had the other for company – he couldn’t imagine what it had been like when Sylar was alone.
But the biggest reason of all, Peter decided, was the fact that they were the last of their kin. It was the motivation behind Peter’s decision to stay instead of flying away, or fighting Sylar until one of them was dead. That feeling of togetherness and a bond thicker than blood was what made him stay. There was no one else out there for either of them, and frankly… it seemed no one out there wanted them to even exist. So, an alliance with Sylar was the only reasonable option Peter could find. Maybe it should have been the right action from the very beginning instead of giving himself up…
After an animosity as deep and long drawn out as theirs, it was hard to find common ground. It was funny how the ‘end of the world’ changed that, though. Frankly, they had never had more in common in the past as they had now. Ironically, while Peter hated to admit it, they were both aware of the fact, and that kept them from attempting to kill each other – most days, anyway; some conflicts couldn’t be avoided, and while trying to beat each other to death was a way to pass time, it seemed neither of them was as keen on it as before. The motivation behind the anger was gone, whatever it had been during the previous decades.
Alongside the return of his lost memories were the return of his powers. Peter felt more at home in his own skin than he had in years. He was free to use his powers as he wanted, and it was to his choosing whether he displayed them – or not. Frankly, he kept from displaying most of them because he still had nightmares of The Earthquake, and every time he woke up it took him a few minutes to convince himself that the ground wasn’t shaking.
There was no real routine to their lives. When they got hungry, they either suffered or flew out in search of food; Sylar took Peter with him, showing him the ropes. They both got invisibility and the ability to phase through walls, so stealing food was ridiculously easy. No one knew they were even there. Especially after Peter began to teleport again, it was simple to travel with bigger loads of food, but he didn’t do that unless he had to because he knew sometimes that power was far more unstable than most of his other ones, and while Sylar argued it didn’t matter where they ended up since they were practically immortal and capable of protecting themselves, Peter wasn’t willing to take unnecessary risks with it.
For some months Peter tried to make something grow in their backyard, but the ground was dead and each spot he tried yielded the same sad results. Sylar just kept giving him looks, those thick eyebrows drawn together. Peter knew that in their lives, his efforts were providing the other some amusement, which was why he didn’t tell Peter outright to stop bothering.
After he gave up at their home on the coast, he flew closer to the Rocky Mountains to try there. He was finally successful, and Sylar couldn’t really keep on complaining when they had their first batch of fresh peas and carrots; they tasted better than the ones they stole from East America, for some reason. Maybe it was the fresh taste, or just the fact that it was their food.
Encouraged by this, Peter made it part of his day to fly to his garden. Sylar followed him sometimes, and although his expression said that he found it all incredibly useless, he never said anything. It wasn’t as if they had anything better to do.
It was on one such day, when Peter was kneeling between his straight lines of carrot and lettuce, and Sylar had himself propped up against a rock, that a strange roar filled the air. It began distant, barely there, but Sylar lifted his head, eyeing the sky. Peter looked up as well, instinctively switching into enhanced hearing and vision. He couldn’t see anything, but the sound was getting stronger.
“What is it?” he finally asked, slowly getting up and wiping his dirty fingers on his pants.
Sylar sighed and climbed to his feet with an expression that may have been annoyance – had his eyes not been glittering. “That’s our fellow Americans sending us a gift,” he answered languidly.
“A gift?” Peter frowned, baffled. He almost reached out with his mind to read Sylar’s, but he was still too preoccupied listening to the sound; sneaking through the other man’s defenses wouldn’t work unless he focused on it.
Sylar didn’t seem too keen on answering him. He was still eyeing the sky, the sound still growing. Then, finally, Peter could see something. He narrowed his eyes to identify the object on the sky. It was too big to be a person, and hardly anyone could make such a sound.
It was a hard angle, and he had to stare at it for some time until it was close enough for him to recognize it for sure. Peter let out a gasp when he did, swallowed, and took a step back. He had seen a missile flying only a few times in his life, but the fact that one was steadily falling towards them didn’t fill him with awe – quite the contrary. For a brief moment he looked around his beautiful garden and felt an overwhelming urge to save it.
Sylar glanced at him just then, a look of total disbelief on his face.
Peter stared at him sourly, which didn’t stop Sylar from commenting, of course.
“Seriously, Peter. We have a nuclear warhead aimed at us, and you’re thinking of your tomatoes,” the older man derided him.
“We could have watermelons next week,” Peter replied.
Sylar sighed – the long, agitated sound of a person who was grudgingly agreeing on something. “I can’t believe we’re saving your ridiculous greenhouse project…”
“It didn’t seem so ridiculous this morning when you were poking at the cucumber to see if they’re ready to be eaten,” Peter defended himself.
“I was hungry,” Sylar snapped, but clearly he had already decided to make his move because he raised his hand, a ball of radioactive fire burning just an inch above his palm.
“Keep that away from the plants,” Peter pleaded. While he was certain their bodies could deal with food that had been exposed to radiation, he really preferred not to go through with it if he didn’t have to. Besides, he wasn’t sure how good it was for future crops either. He should probably snatch a book about horticulture when they went into a city next time.
Sylar didn’t have anything to say to that. Instead he released the ball of fire which rose through the air, higher and higher while the missile was heading down. Peter bit his lower lip, then let out the air in his lungs when he was certain the fire wouldn’t hit its target. Sylar frowned, then jerked his head sharply to the right – and the missile spun violently, following the movement, then blew up with an enormous bang as it hit Sylar’s shot.
“You would have missed,” Peter noted once he straightened up again. He had reflexively bowed down at the explosion although the invisible force field he had spread above them was more than enough to protect them from any pieces of shrapnel falling at them from the sky.
“Maybe,” Sylar said.
“You moved the missile,” Peter pointed out.
“Just to make sure the watermelons wouldn’t be hit.” With that, Sylar took off, and after Peter had pushed the falling rubble a safe distance away from his garden, he took off after the other. Instead of heading towards California, Sylar sped over the Rocky Mountains and stopped only when he reached the Ravine.
Since his memory returned, Peter had been there only few times. The place made him shudder still; the cold, utter destruction they had caused. He had enough reminders of his actions during their daily activities, and had no reason to come here and feel the thick wall of despair that tried to crush him each time…
“Perhaps we should go and say ‘hello’,” Sylar mused, regarding the horizon as if he was waiting for the weather to change.
Peter looked at him, driven out of his dark thoughts. He knew that it wouldn’t be a handshake and a kind smile that waited for them there.
Sylar grew tired of waiting for his response and shrugged. “You’ll have to do it at some point, Peter.”
“Fight for your existence.”
Peter had a lot of arguments against that statement, but Sylar had already pushed himself to the sky and was speeding towards East America. With a growl, Peter followed. He wasn’t going to fight, but someone had to keep an eye on Sylar. In their monotonous, uneventful lives, a chance to fight someone looked attractive, but those people were simply afraid of them – for a reason. While Peter wasn’t going to go back to them willingly, it didn’t mean he would start killing anyone who thought different.
The flight across the Ravine took longer than he would have liked. He felt tempted to just teleport to the other side, but he wasn’t certain what waited for them there. Besides, it was only fair that he looked at the legacy he had left this world…
“You’re making me sick, Pete,” Sylar commented. While the other was flying way ahead of him, it seemed he was still paying attention to Peter’s thoughts.
“If you felt half as responsible for causing all this as I do, I’m sure your cold heart would crack in half,” Peter shot back. He flew faster, anger spurring him forward.
“You’re just making an excuse to feel sorry for yourself. This is something both Nathan and I agree on: grow up.”
Peter sneered, the air whipping past him. Electricity crackled between his fingers, and once he was close enough, he would make Sylar pay for saying that. Sure, it might be true, but he didn’t get to say things like that about Nathan after all the lies he had been feeding Peter in the past.
When he finally reached Sylar, the other was floating in the air. A mile further on stood a massive collection of war equipment; tanks, cars, helicopters, missile-launchers and hundreds of armed men. There was a roar in the air, and Peter snatched a transmission from the air just in time to know that there were gunships coming at them.
“Ten seconds,” Sylar nodded, and although his eyes were on the ground, Peter knew he was waiting for the fighter planes to come close enough for him to hit them.
“Let’s just disarm them and go back,” Peter said. He didn’t plead, but it wasn’t an order either; he couldn’t just make Sylar come back with him – not without a fight, and he was worried that if they really got into it, some of these soldiers might get caught in the middle.
Sylar just smiled, an expression on his face as if he was looking at a treat he was just about to seize.
The fighters roared past them, and Peter sent forth an electrical burst to destroy the rockets launched at them. Sylar had swung around, an electric bolt of his own reaching after the planes and hitting them easily. Peter could see several explosions as the planes’ systems were fried, and a moment later they began to fall without control.
“Asshole,” Peter swore, taking after the planes. He stopped them with telekinesis, then wrenched open the cockpits to get to the pilots and gunners. They were all alive, and he made sure he dropped them to the ground a safe distance from their wrecked planes.
While he was rescuing the men, Sylar had busied himself with the rest of the army. He was in the middle of flipping two of the tanks into the air when Peter arrived and forcibly took the control away from him, making them land a bit awkwardly, but at least the people around them weren’t crushed.
“Stop it!” Peter shouted, although he knew it was in vain.
Sylar just laughed and launched another attack. Fire, this time, which Peter stopped by creating a vacuum around it. He had it nicely under control when suddenly a rain of huge bullets flew past him, one hitting him in the shoulder, splintering his concentration with a brief flash of pain. He felt like shouting in rage and brainwashing the men on the ground to just sit still and not shoot at him while he was trying to help them, but he didn’t.
The bullet had left a hole the size of three of his fingers, and he grimaced while looking at it close as Claire’s power kicked in. His collarbone seemed to have some trouble setting itself, and so he had to push his fingers in to shift the bone so that it could heal. His hand now covered in fresh blood and his shoulder throbbing, Peter looked for Sylar again.
Below him the ground shook lightly, and Peter felt his heart miss a beat. The way Sylar was grinning, especially when he looked at Peter to see his reaction, was the final straw; Peter mustered all his strength and hit Sylar with several powers at once. There was telekinesis, a force field, and something that converted even the smallest force of momentum into something a hundred times stronger. As it hit the other man, he was propelled back through the air, so far that Peter could barely see him once he managed to stop.
Sighing, Peter allowed himself to fall to the ground. The men backed off from him, and he spread his arms. “I don’t want to fight. Just go back, and no one will be hurt.”
He heard a rustle of metal and leather. Panting breaths. Frantic beating of several hearts.
Choosing the man right in front of him, Peter locked eyes with him. He could have used mind control, but he wanted them to make the decision for themselves. “I won’t hurt you,” he told the man, spreading his arms further, trying to find reason.
The gun pointed at him shifted, just slightly, and for a moment Peter was certain the man was going to lower it. Then there was a loud noise – and nothing.
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