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By the time Sylar managed to stop his embarrassingly uncontrolled plunge, he was miles away from the action. He had to hand it to Peter; when the other got mad enough, he could still attack harder than anyone Sylar had ever met. He had the potential. It was such a pity he rarely if ever used it.
He took his time flying back, monitoring the sounds and transmission passing in the air. Let Peter have his fun. Sooner or later the younger man would have to admit his method wouldn’t work unless he brainwashed the entire human race.
“The target is down. I repeat, the target it down.”
Sylar groaned and sped up. Whatever Peter had done – or hadn’t – had turned against him. While he was tempted to just leave him to deal with it on his own, there was a small fear screaming at the back of his head. The voice had a distinct echo of Nathan’s tone in it, which he disliked greatly, but the message was stronger than all his loathing put together: he couldn’t let anything happen to Peter, because after that it would be a harsh return to loneliness once again, while the world dragged its feet around him.
When he reached the battle zone, it took him a few second to determine what had happened. The soldiers were gathered together, still holding their guns, and the air was filled with messages – enough to make Sylar stop listening to them unless he wanted to give himself a headache.
He landed before anyone noticed him, then parted the entire army like Moses must have divided the Red Sea; cleanly in half, cast on both sides carelessly as if someone had swept aside a pile of toys. In the middle lay Peter, a bloody hole in his head. His brown eyes were glazed over, and Sylar could only sigh and shake his head. Peter had more than a dozen abilities to stop the bullet. He had used none of them, apparently.
Annoyed and tired of this, Sylar merely picked the other man up then took off. A few rockets were shot at him, and he returned the favor by messing up their signals and sending them back down at their shooters. The screams were somewhat enjoyable to listen to, considering all the trouble they had put him through today.
He landed once they were at home on the coast, and lay Peter down on his bed. He was tempted to let him be for a bit longer, but decided it wouldn’t really make a difference, and so he fished out the pieces of the bullets from the younger man’s head. It was tedious, difficult work, and eventually he just sawed Peter’s skull open to have a better look, then held it back together when the final bullet had been removed and the healing kicked in.
Peter coughed and sputtered, blinking rapidly. His entire body shook, and Sylar wondered if he had forgotten a piece of metal in his head. It seemed the other man was fine in a few minutes, though, as he looked around in slight confusion.
“I can’t believe you let them shoot you,” Sylar finally snapped.
Peter just hung his head, clutching it with one hand. Sylar thought it better not to tell him that he had done some serious digging around in there. Peter looked pale enough as it was, and he didn’t need him to get sick before he was at least able to scramble outside on his own feet.
Sylar told him there had been a change of power; a new man was in control, and it seemed that whoever the guy was, he had a serious problem with Peter and Sylar’s existence. Since the first attack, they were harassed almost weekly. Peter wondered where they got the firepower since nothing they took home with them could be used another time – if they even bothered to drag it back. After all, Peter fought to keep the men alive, but had no problem destroying their guns and machines.
Over the next few months, though, it was harder and harder to keep the soldiers safe and Sylar in check. Peter’s patience was ending, because no matter what he said or did, he was still being shot at. He didn’t allow them to kill him another time – he had learned his lesson, not only because the sharp remarks Sylar had given him about it would drive him insane if repeated. Nonetheless, it was very hard to protect everyone, because that usually left Peter highly vulnerable.
So came the day when he decided that saying: “I don’t want to hurt you,” was enough. He wouldn’t guarantee their safety, but at least he would let them keep their lives. In Peter’s opinion, that was enough, especially after he had to re-grow his entire jaw after a lucky grenade got too close to him. Sylar kept joking that his teeth had never looked so pretty, but Peter found little humor in it.
Months went by, and Peter’s tolerance for violence came to an end.
“I didn’t ask you to come here,” he muttered as he mentally pushed a helicopter to the side, thusly avoiding the bullets it would have otherwise spewed at him. “I didn’t do anything to you,” he went on, landing to touch a tank beneath him, turning its metal into dust. The men that had sat inside it fell to the ground, looking around with various expressions of horror and dismay. “Just leave us alone!” Peter snapped as someone shot him in the back, pain radiating through his entire body. He looked down to see the damage, then gnashed his teeth together.
He had seen a lot of horrible things in his life. He had been a nurse. His own body had been horribly mangled a lot of times. But looking down at his side, and seeing the gaping hole the size of a few baseballs, the flesh still emanating a burnt smell… Peter honestly felt a little sick, not to mention furious with pain.
Angrily he turned around, and yanked closer the man who had shot him. His fingers curled around his neck, and although the soldier was bigger than him, it didn’t matter against inhuman strength. Only when Peter heard bones snap did he stop and let the body drop to the ground. He was breathing hard, the hole in his side still healing. He gingerly touched his chest just above it – then jerked as five bullets hit him from behind, one piercing his body and palm as it shot through him.
He briefly wondered if shooting your enemies in the back was what they taught in school these days, but didn’t particularly care. This time he didn’t even turn to look as he reached out with his mind, turning the soldiers behind him at each other, then made them fire. The bodies fell to the ground with a series of thuds, and finally Peter dared to breathe, although one of his lungs was still healing.
Sylar landed beside him. He hadn’t been shot by the look of it, but he was bloody and his clothes were a little torn. He looked at Peter, and his already annoyed expression twisted a little. “Ouch,” he stated, and Peter knew that was all the sympathy he would get.
“This has to end,” Peter stated firmly.
Above them a helicopter spun in the air, smoking and on fire, before crashing down into the Ravine, an explosion following long seconds after.
Sylar nodded absently, then looked up. Peter followed his line of sight with dread, and saw two objects rushing through the sky. Missiles. Their enemies must have become truly desperate to kill them; they had never shot such weapons at them while their own soldiers were still in the area. Not that most of them were walking home on their own these days…
“How does your side feel?” Sylar asked conversationally.
“Just give me a few seconds,” Peter sighed.
“Good, because I don’t feel like going up to stop them,” Sylar decided.
Since the first time, they had discovered that actually flying up to meet the missiles was much more effective than trying to shoot them from the ground.
“I didn’t say I wanted to go either,” Peter whined. “I was just shot!”
“Well, maybe you shouldn’t be so easy to shoot at.”
“At least I still care for human life.”
“Fine,” Sylar hissed. “A draw, then. Rock-paper-scissors okay with you?”
Peter blinked, then shrugged. They put forth their hands, counted “Rock, paper, scissors,” out loud, then stopped.
Sylar muttered, looking down at his index and middle finger that stood out from the rest of his hand, then shot up to the sky. Peter looked down at his own clenched fist – stone – wondering why Sylar always chose scissors. Above him the missiles exploded, and even where he was standing he could feel the slight impact of pressure. With a sigh, he rose to the sky as well, following Sylar as the other already sped towards their territory on the western side of the Ravine.
A few days passed with two more attacks. The American government didn’t send more men, but there were several missiles that kept them occupied. Some unmanned fighter planes were set out as well, but they were considerably nicer to deal with because their explosive power wasn’t as great as in fully armed missiles.
All the fighting was making Peter incredibly wound up, and he spent his days and nights trying to find a way out of it. Inevitably though, he could think of only one possibility that would undo it all.
“I have to go back,” he announced to Sylar one morning.
“Back to the government lab?” the other asked, trying to cover the apparent anger in his voice.
“No,” Peter shook his head. “Past. Before all this happened.”
Sylar was silent for a long moment, then shrugged. “If you think that will make a difference. But what if you make it worse?”
Peter had thought of that. From the very beginning, that had been what held him back. Sure, most days he couldn’t think how things could be worse, but he was certain that one mistake in the past would cause it somehow. “That’s why I’m taking no chances. I’ve planned it to the last detail.”
“Really,” Sylar said conversationally, although his face remained as one of mocking doubt.
“Yes,” Peter said simply, stepping forward. “And you’re going to help me.”
Sylar froze, his eyes narrowed. He could probably sense something was off although Peter was shielding his intentions. When Peter moved again, the other stepped back, but the younger man was faster and grabbed his arm.
He tried to anticipate it, but when Sylar pushed him back with telekinesis, Peter couldn’t hold onto him. With a groan he landed against the opposite wall, then sighed and stopped time. It was the one power Sylar could never have since he killed Hiro without taking it, and it remained Peter’s ultimate weapon against him.
Peter walked back over to him, placed his hands on either side of his face, then focused to release the time-freeze and plunge into his head at once. He succeeded, sliding into Sylar’s mind before the other could fend him off. A disarray of memories attacked him, most of them Sylar’s own, and some of Nathan’s and other people’s he had pretended to be. Peter didn’t stop to look at them, though, but sought that one particular memory he was interested in… the day Sylar killed Nathan.
Sylar fought him bitterly, but Peter pushed with all the determination he had, and finally he had it all, in clear detail. His mind burned with strain and fury at seeing his brother die, but when he was done and he pulled back, Peter smiled. “It’s never going to happen. You won’t kill Nathan, you won’t become him, and so… we will never fight each other and destroy the world.”
Sylar stared at him, dark and menacing, his nose bleeding. Peter felt a warm wetness on his own face, guessing he didn’t look much better. He had made his decision, though. Sylar could either agree, or stay out of his way.
He concentrated, turned invisible, held his breath, then teleported.
Stanton Hotel, Washington D.C.
What Peter noticed first was the smell of pollution in the air. He had rarely paid attention to it before, but now… it was thick enough to make his nose burn for a moment.
It was not why he was here, though.
His eyes scanned the building before him, and soon he spotted a window above him, broken, pale curtains swaying as if they were trying to climb out. And instant later he could see two shapes flying through the sky.
Nathan crashed in first, aided by Sylar’s telekinesis. Peter felt his heart jump and anger burn, seeing his brother, but he had to focus. Sylar followed him in, slow and majestic, taking his time; Sylar had always liked to taunt when he had the chance, to toy with his victim…
Peter shot up, phasing through the wall because he didn’t have the patience to aim for the window, and just when Sylar raised his hand, Peter swung him to the side. He turned visible, knowing it would be pointless to try keep himself that way if he fought the other; his concentration would break sooner or later.
He looked briefly at Nathan, who stared right back at him. It was one of the rare moments when Nathan was utterly speechless. Peter just nodded at him, then stepped to the side to face Sylar who was climbing back to his feet. The serial killer’s face was identical to the man’s Peter had just left behind, almost seventy years into the future. Yet there was something different about this Sylar too. Perhaps it was the pure rage he attacked Peter with – and the weakness.
Peter flung him back, easier than he had ever thought possible. The groan he forced from the other almost made him laugh. “And you’re calling me pathetic…” he mused out loud, stepping up to the other man. “I would kill you, but because you saved my life… I won’t.”
Sylar frowned in obvious confusion. For a moment Peter expected him to reach out to try to read his mind, but there was none of that. Then it dawned to him that Sylar hadn’t yet acquired the power.
“Doesn’t matter,” Peter muttered, then touched Sylar’s forehead, focusing, upsetting the chemical balances in his brain, and the other man fell unconscious to the floor. It wouldn’t last forever, but it would give them room to breathe.
Peter turned back to look at his brother, alive and well. The real Nathan.
“Peter?” Nathan asked uncertainly.
“From the future,” Peter explained.
Nathan just nodded, accepting the fact a lot easier than he would have a few years ago. His brown eyes fell down to look at Sylar. “What should we do with him?”
“I guess that’s up to you. I won’t kill him,” Peter said simply.
“He saved your life?” Nathan asked, suspicion in his voice.
“In more ways than one,” Peter confirmed, his voice softening. “Where I come from… The world turned out terrible, Nathan. You were going to die today, and they turned Sylar into you after I stopped him. Mom told no one, and when Sylar finally broke through, I was too angry to even think clearly –”
“Whoa, whoa, slow down,” Nathan interrupted him. “I was going to die?”
“Just now,” Peter smiled softly. “But none of that matters now.”
The door on the side burst open and Matt Parkman rushed in, followed by Angela Petrelli. They both stopped as if they had hit a wall, looking at the ruined room and Sylar’s still form – then Peter.
“Well,” Matt said a bit tensely. “Was this in your dream, Mrs. Petrelli?”
Angela stared at Peter, and after all these years of hatred and regrets, Peter stepped forward to hug her. She was tense in his arms, and eventually pushed him away. “You don’t belong here,” she stated, voice shivering.
“No,” Peter admitted. “But I… I’ve been wanting to say this for a long time, Mom: I’m sorry I let things end the way they did.” He stopped for a moment, looking at her confused face. She looked tired and worried, but she had so much more life in her than the last time Peter saw her alive. “It doesn’t matter anymore,” he finally said, smoothing her hair from her face, then stepped back as her phone rang.
“Noah,” she said after checking out the caller’s ID. She answered, bringing him up to speed on what had happened. Every now and then she still gave Peter a look, as if trying to decide if she was pleased to see him or not.
Peter looked at Nathan who had now sat down in the chair behind him. The chair he died in… He shook away the memory he had taken from Sylar. It didn’t matter anymore. Things were going to turn out the right way. “I love you, Nathan,” he said suddenly, and realized he had longed to do so for a very long time.
The door opened again, and Peter looked up, feeling the immediate confusion flowing from his niece and his past self as the two followed Noah Bennet into the suite.
His body was still aching from the recent fight as he followed Claire down the stairs. He was worried about Nathan, and hoped that his brother was okay. If only he had been able to do more! Seeing him and Sylar take off through the window and knowing he was unable to follow now that he had absorbed one of Sylar’s abilities made him feel incredibly weak.
They rounded a corner and Peter stopped short so that he wouldn’t collide with Claire. While her healing power may have been a blessing right now, he needed to hold onto the ability he got from Sylar…
Reaching the main floor, Peter ran down ahead of her. “We should separate here,” he told her. “You go that way. I’ll look for Nathan over here.” He turned – and almost ran into Noah and his gun. Claire had also stopped, stepping forward.
“Noah?” Peter asked, slightly confused about why he was pointing the gun at them.
“You tell me that’s Claire, not Sylar.”
“I just fought Sylar, okay? That’s Claire,” Peter explained impatiently. He was already beginning to hate this shape shifting power. “Put the gun down,” he urged, then watched as Claire stepped forward. It seemed to work a lot better than Peter’s reassurances.
“Did you take his power?” Noah finally asked after he had embraced his adopted daughter. His voice was low, barely a whisper.
“Yeah,” Peter nodded. The blood drying on each side of his head pulled on his skin, but there was no time to get cleaned up now.
“So we can stop him,” Claire looked at them both. Noah smiled; he had waited for this for a long time.
“Freeze!” someone suddenly shouted, making them all turn. The men of the Secret Service stood in the hallway, pointing guns at them. “On the ground!” the man, Liam Samuels, urged. Peter wondered if he could manage to convince him without Nathan being there.
“The president’s life is in danger,” Noah stated before Peter had time to think of anything. “You want him to live, you need to listen to us,” he went on, slowly placing his gun to the floor.
“I said on the ground!” Samuels shouted.
Claire seemed to have had enough. She walked forward, her voice determined yet laced with none of the urgency that Peter felt in his body. “You can either listen to me now…” she told them, then stopped when Samuels’ gun was pressed against her head, “or I’ll tell you after you shoot me.”
Peter stared at the scene, then closed his eyes briefly, and when he reopened them, Samuels had lowered his gun. Claire didn’t smile or say thank you, and Peter wondered when she had begun to change. It hadn’t been that long since she was a cheerleader in Odessa, warmth surrounding her instead of this coldness and resolve.
Noah pulled out his phone, and Peter waited to see whom he called. The expression of utter dismay that took over his features soon after made Peter frown. When he finished the call, Noah looked at Peter for a long time. “It seems… Sylar’s down. He and Nathan returned to the suite.”
“Nathan got him?” Claire asked in apparent disbelief.
Peter knew his expression mirrored hers, although he felt immensely relieved as well.
“Not really,” Noah said slowly. “Peter did.”
With that cryptic message he turned and began to climb the stairs, Claire and Peter following after an exchange of looks. “What did you do?” his niece asked.
“I don’t know,” Peter replied, honestly baffled. It didn’t make sense. His head was pounding as he struggled to keep up with Noah, yet his relief was great when they finally stepped into the suite and he saw Nathan sitting in a chair, alive and breathing, and Sylar lying at the opposite side of the room.
Then his eyes found a man in the room that certainly didn’t belong there.
“He’s from the future?” Noah asked at once. He had his gun in his hand, yet it wasn’t pointed at Peter’s double.
The guy looked like him, as if they were the same age, only his eyes seemed older, and his hair and body were different. He was thinner than Peter, yet the way he stood he seemed a lot stronger at the same time.
“It would appear so,” Angela stated, her voice shaking a little.
Noah nodded, then looked to the side at Sylar. “Well, I suppose we should say thank you.”
The future Peter shifted a little, looking at Sylar before his eyes returned to Peter’s own. He smiled, faintly, probably feeling the awkwardness of the situation.
“Why are you here?” Peter finally asked. Last time he had seen one of his future selves, it had been the day one of them shot Nathan, if he was correct – or when said Peter took him to the future where Claire almost killed him.
“To… change the future,” the future Peter stated, his eyes briefly locking with Nathan’s.
“He says I was going to die today,” Nathan told them. It seemed there was something else, because Nathan looked thoughtful, but it wasn’t as if today’s events weren’t weird enough as they were.
In his corner, Sylar shifted, and the other Peter turned, raising his hand. Sylar snarled, then rolled back as if he was being pinned down by an invisible force.
“Stay still,” the man from the future said. “I don’t want to hurt you, but I will if you push me.”
Sylar laughed, the sound strained. “You can’t kill me.”
“I would love to disagree,” the future Peter shot back, his voice cool. “You think you’re powerful? Maybe twenty years from now, when you’ve collected almost every power there is. Right now… you’re a pitiful shadow of your future self I just left behind.”
Peter swallowed. It was hard to imagine such power, so he decided not to think about it. And it was a future that was going to change today for all he knew. That was why his other self was here, right? “Maybe we should finish him,” he suggested. “If we imprison him, he’s just going to escape again, and this whole thing will start all over. Let’s finish what we came to do here.”
Claire nodded. Noah lifted his gun, loading it.
Future Peter shifted his head, just slightly, and suddenly the gun in Noah’s hand was jerked away from him, flying out of the window.
Sylar chuckled. “You think that weapon would have been any good anyway?” Then his entire body jerked, an electric flash passing through him, and he lay on the floor, gasping.
“Shut up,” the future Peter told him.
Nathan stood up from his chair, a little unsteady on his feet. “They are right. He has to die.” Both Peters looked at him.
It seemed for a moment that his future self was going to argue, but then he just hung his head and took a step to the side. “I trust you, Nathan. Killing him is what we were going to do today, right?”
“Right, Pete,” Nathan smiled at him, although the expression seemed a little strained; perhaps Nathan felt just as uneasy around him as Peter did.
“You’re doing the right thing,” Peter told his double, reaching out to touch his shoulder, and his fingers accidentally brushed against the skin of his neck. At that very instant Peter felt a wave of heat pass through his body, and instead of the single power that he could usually feel when he touched someone with an ability… he felt dozens. All at once, some more powerful than the next, all trying to push into him.
He stepped back with a gasp and stumbled as his legs refused to carry him. Nathan grabbed him before he fell to the floor, and Peter tried to hold onto him in vain to stop the tremors that suddenly shook his body.
Voices were in his head. Screams…
Darkness, but the sky’s on fire. The horizon lit with ugly shades of red.
“Pete!” Nathan shouted, shaking him. Peter heard him only briefly before the visions in his head got worse again.
Children crying. People screaming. Metal bending and glass breaking.
“Peter, come on…”
Cities falling, sinking to the ground.
Peter struggled to breathe. His lungs felt as if they were filled with smoke.
Ground tearing, rock crumbling, a gap spreading like a terrible, buck-toothed grimace, growing and growing…
“Pete.” Nathan’s voice filled his ears, and he tried to hold onto it.
“Nathan,” he gasped.
He looked at Nathan, but Nathan’s face kept changing. His, Sylar’s, then his again. A constant transformation, like a battle. A battle that Sylar won.
“You’re not my brother.” Peter’s voice. Horrified, betrayed. Angry.
So much anger.
“Nathan,” Peter whispered, trying to reach out for him.
“Peter, you’re hurting –”
Nathan was gone.
“No!” Peter screamed. In his head, and out loud.
The ground was still shaking, wouldn’t stop. It would never stop. And Nathan was gone, always gone.
“Make him stop!” Claire screamed, but her words were muffled in his ears.
“What the hell’s going on?” Matt, so scared…
“It won’t stop,” Peter chanted, holding his head with one hand, Nathan with the other, because maybe if he didn’t let go, he wouldn’t disappear. “The world’s ending… it will never stop!”
“Pete, just calm down,” Nathan said, his voice urgent and worried.
“I can’t stop it,” Peter finally realized, his eyes snapping open, looking at the identical brown ones of his brother. “We can’t stop it, Sylar.”
“Peter, what –”
Hot pain flashed through Peter’s head before Nathan ever finished.
“What did you do?!” Nathan roared as younger Peter’s body collapsed in his arms, a metal rod piercing his brother’s head.
“He couldn’t control it,” Peter told him. Although it pained him to see his past self die like that, it was only temporary; Peter would heal, like he had healed so many times before and after. But piercing his brain with the first object he could find in the room had been the swiftest action he could take.
As soon as Peter had touched him, he had felt the connection like the worst of Sylar’s electric shocks. It took a few seconds for him to come out of it, and as soon as he had, it was clear something wasn’t right. His past self was shaking on the floor, his eyes… he was looking around frantically, but Peter could tell he didn’t see what the rest of them did. And then he began to speak: incoherent broken sentences which made Peter swiftly fight his way into his mind to see what was going on.
He stumbled back quicker than he went in, realizing that Peter’s mind was being assaulted by each of his own memories, and slowly, steadily, the Stanton Hotel was beginning to shake around them.
Nathan tried to make his brother stop, but Peter knew he was beyond comprehension. His brain wasn’t capable of coping with all the information. He didn’t have the sufficient powers to handle it. And whichever powers he had taken…
Killing him was the fastest way to make it stop, and Peter had long since learned to accept that fact. Nathan’s shout of outrage made him feel guilty, but while the shaking still went on, he didn’t particularly care what his brother thought at the moment.
The chandelier fell from the ceiling, smashing between them. The walls were beginning to crack, and the windows were breaking in the buildings around the hotel. Peter felt his heart beat faster, and he tried to focus and calm the earthquake.
An electric shock with a patented telekinetic push broke his concentration. Peter fell to the side, then rolled over to meet Sylar’s next attack, matching it with his own. Paint and rubble were falling on them like rain, and he could hear the telltale sounds of the building beginning to fall apart. People were screaming outside; crying for help, afraid, dying…
“Fuck,” Peter swore. He didn’t have time for this. He focused and pushed Sylar with all his might, plunging him through the wall and out of the building. He could track him later, but right now he had to make this stop.
“We have to get out of here!” Matt shouted over the noise. The floor was starting to crack and bend, like crumbling paper.
“Move!” Peter ordered.
Nathan held out his arm for Angela, who grabbed him. With Peter’s limp form on his other side, Nathan took off through the window.
Peter looked at the remaining three people in the room, then extended his hands. “Touch me.”
“Why should we trust you?” Claire asked hotly. “You just killed Peter!”
Peter bit his jaws together, not bothering to answer. While Matt was already touching his other hand, he jerked Claire closer with his free one, and Bennet grasped at him right after. Peter focused, and teleported them outside. Only, it was almost worse out there. Buildings were collapsing and there were tears spreading along the ground, some of them big enough to swallow a car. People were rushing past them, back and forth, and Peter had to take a deep breath to clam his mind enough to focus on the earthquake, and to make it stop.
It was just as hard as before. Peter knew the trick was to not let it get out of hand, because once it did, there was no way to just stop it at will. But he tried, hard, dimly aware of the falling concrete around him, and that someone pulled him to the side… When the shaking finally stopped, reduced to minor shivers that would eventually fade, he opened his eyes.
He was lying on the ground, Matt Parkman half on top of him, both of them covered in dust and broken glass. Only some feet away from them lay a crushed building that would have trampled them had Matt not moved them both out of the way. “Thanks,” Peter said simply.
“Is it over?” Matt asked, coughing and rubbing his eyes.
“Yeah,” Peter replied, then slowly got up to his feet. People were still running, and some nearby buildings were teetering on their foundations, ready to collapse. As far as he could see, the city was completely devastated. Sweat ran down his back, and Peter ran a hand through his hair, panic rising in his chest.
Matt got up to his feet beside him and they both looked towards Bennet who was on the other side of the street. They both ran over, halting at the gruesome sight: while he and Matt had escaped the falling building, Claire hadn’t. Her crushed body lay lifeless beneath concrete and metal, her head twisted in an odd angle, the skull smashed in from one side, blond hair matted with blood and dust. Peter could tell that there was no coming back from that. Bennet seemed to know it as well since he was just sitting there instead of trying to dig her body free.
Angela and Nathan came running to them, dodging people going the opposite way. Nathan stopped first, standing numbly as soon as he saw Claire. Angela rushed closer, falling to her knees beside Bennet.
Peter took a slow step back, then looked around and spotted the body of his past self where Nathan must have laid him down on top of a smashed car. He walked over to him slowly, purposefully, taking a look at the empty eyes and pale skin. Was this how he looked before they woke him up? With a grimace, he turned Peter’s head and grabbed the metal rod, then pulled it free. He tossed it to the side, then waited for the wound to start to close.
Peter felt considerably worse than before. He looked at his own face, still and lifeless, and still nothing happened. Somehow, Peter wasn’t healing…
Only then it struck him that perhaps he didn’t have the power. He had taken one of Sylar’s earlier, and then touched him, after which he re-created The Earthquake he could see in his head through his future self’s memories. Was it indeed possible that he couldn’t…
He turned back to look at his family, and found Angela’s teary eyes on him. She had moved to Nathan’s arms, her expression one of tired fury.
“This wasn’t supposed to happen,” Peter said faintly, pushing his fingers through his hair. “Not this. It was all supposed to end well!”
In his head, he could hear the transmissions passing in the air.
Frantic calls from people to their relatives.
A reporter telling her station about a 8.7 magnitude earthquake shaking D.C.
The Secret Service calling the Pentagon with the information that the president was dead.
Peter blocked it all out before his ears started to bleed. He wanted to cry, and scream. He looked down at his own dead face, yet it felt like he had killed a stranger. And Claire… it was surely a work of irony that both times he lived to see her die, it was in an earthquake.
He looked around again, and knew he had to change it. This couldn’t be the future he created! Anything was better than this. Even…
Peter looked at Nathan, took a step towards him, but he sensed that his presence wasn’t welcome. As far as Nathan’s thoughts went, he had just killed his brother and daughter. Nothing he did could possibly change the hatred he felt for him.
“I love you, Nathan,” Peter said, needing to say it one more time.
Then he stepped back, concentrated, and teleported.
He reappeared beside the Stanton Hotel a heartbeat later than he originally had. He couldn’t see himself since he had been invisible, but he could sense the thoughts and the heat from his body. When Nathan and Sylar rushed into the suite above them, Peter shot up, grabbing the air – and tugged himself to a halt. He saw himself turn visible, a shocked expression on his face, and he shook his head.
“What? Why? Where did you come from?” his other self asked, confused.
Peter hung his head, feeling his dead self’s blood still on his fingers. “It won’t work. It’s only going to get worse. I – we – can’t risk it.”
There was clear indecision on the other Peter’s face, and he looked up – they both did. They had both come this far, and it was unfair it had to come to this. Turning invisible, and signaling the other to do the same, he floated up to the broken window.
Sylar was just raising his hand, then drew a clean cut across Nathan’s throat, making his body jerk. It was just like in Sylar’s memory, although Peter couldn’t feel all his feelings and thoughts this time; just his own despair and urge to stop it. But he couldn’t. Even as Nathan fell back to the chair he had just sat in a few minutes ago, and struggled to breathe, Peter knew that he couldn’t risk everyone dying. He couldn’t risk another terrible way for the world to end.
Maybe there was no way to stop it. Maybe it was Peter’s fate to watch his brother die, and witness Sylar’s satisfied smirk as he turned into Nathan and walked out of the room. Peter swallowed, tears in his eyes, then looked at his other self who couldn’t understand why they hadn’t done anything. He was crying, clutching at Peter, his mind screaming Nathan’s name over and over although his lips remained sealed.
It wasn’t all that different from Peter’s own expression, he guessed.
“It’s over,” he finally said, and his double nodded, stricken by shock. Together they teleported back, though only Peter reappeared in the future; he was glad, because he had feared the confusion he might have to deal with otherwise.
Sylar looked at him from his seat. He hadn’t moved since Peter left, and perhaps no time had passed at all. To Peter, though, it felt like a lifetime. To look at Sylar, and still remember how he murdered Nathan…
Peter walked out through the door and to the shore. In the distance, he could see a peak of some ruined building sticking out of the water like a mocking finger pointed at him.
He fell to his knees in the sand and screamed until he had no voice left and his throat was raw. Raw and bloody like Nathan’s, suffocating on his own blood while Sylar stood there, smiling, and Peter was too afraid to stop it.
When Peter came back, Sylar didn’t ask how it went. Clearly nothing had changed because they both still existed – if that was how it worked. Either way, some of the light had gone out from Peter’s eyes, and the hollow expression that haunted his face for weeks after was enough to make even him worry.
The attacks still went on. Peter ventured out alone more often and fought viciously. Normal men and their pitiful weapons didn’t stand a chance against him, and it was a pathetic excuse for a battle, but that wasn’t why Sylar eventually came to the decision that it really had to end; he made the decision based on the fact that inside, Peter was dying.
With only the two of them left, Sylar didn’t want to take the chance of losing Peter. If the other got much worse, he would be more trouble than help, and Sylar didn’t want to deal with that. So, he had to come up with a solution. Destroying the American government was a pleasant thought, but didn’t seem like the perfect plan because it would just create more outrage against them.
In the end, the idea was almost too simple.
While Peter was preoccupied by his own sense of utter failure, Sylar had time to seek for a potential spot for his plans. After all, when he thought about it, one big motivator for the attackers was probably the fact that he and Peter alone held half the American soil under their rule. While people couldn’t necessarily live there yet due to the utter destruction caused to the area, it still pained the American ego not to be able to stake claim for their own land.
So, Sylar decided it was a high time for them to have a place of their own.
Far away in the ocean, in international waters he finally found a sufficient spot. The climate was nice – not that it was a problem with their powers that could control it anyway – and it was far away from every country and inhabited island he could find. After that he prodded Mother Nature’s natural process of creating a new island; he raised land by activating a volcano, but speeded the process that may have otherwise taken thousands of years into a few weeks.
Once he finally stood upon the bare piece of rock, he felt for the first time since discovering his abilities that he was truly closer to God himself.
Peter was sitting on the edge of the Ravine. Actually it was the very same spot he had sat the day he first realized Nathan was dead, and that Sylar had been lying to him.
It had been the longest year he could remember; the army still kept attacking them, but the distraction was much welcomed by him. It gave him something to do with the violent thoughts plaguing his mind. Sylar was gone a lot, and Peter didn’t know where he went, but he honestly didn’t care either. He hadn’t told Sylar about how he had almost ruined the past, or that he had stayed to witness his brother’s death, but things were tense between them nonetheless.
Peter sighed, looking down into the cold darkness. He wondered if allowing himself to fall all that way would kill him. Probably not; he had no such luck in his life.
He often felt tempted to go back to the army these days. To allow them to kill him, or put him into what he had called ‘deep sleep’. Kill him, maybe wipe his memory clean, and not let him come back ever again. After all, how did he deserve to live when so many had died? When Nathan had died?
Peter took a small rock in his hand, shifted it around in his fingers, then tossed it down into the Ravine. It took a long while before he could hear it hit the bottom, or a rock wall.
A slight swoosh of air told him that Sylar had arrived. He didn’t look up at him, nor did he say anything. He would leave soon enough.
“Peter, I want to show you something.”
That’s a new one, he thought. Peter glared up at him, frowning, then decided that Sylar didn’t look like he was going to leave even if he told him he wasn’t interested. “Is it important?”
Sylar didn’t answer, but took off instead, leaving Peter to follow. They sped back towards California, after which Sylar headed to the sea. Peter wondered about this, but followed him nonetheless. He looked down, seeing the drowned, devastated cities beneath the masses of water. Such a beautiful sight on a summer day, but it didn’t fill him with happiness to know he had caused all that. Thousands of corpses lay there, at the bottom of the ocean…
They flew further out, and after a few hours had passed, Peter moved to catch up with the other. “Where are we going? If this is a trip to Japan, I have to say I’m not interested.”
“Just a little further,” Sylar told him.
Peter groaned but kept following, and indeed, when Sylar finally began to land, it hadn’t been that much further. They dropped down to an island which wasn’t all that remarkable. Peter glanced around with disinterest, waiting for an explanation.
Sylar just spread his arms.
“This?” Peter raised an eyebrow, looking around again. “An island.”
“Our island,” the other corrected.
“You wanted a place to go to on vacation?” Peter mocked, kicking some stones at his feet, then looked around again. There were some trees growing here and there, but they looked young. All in all, the entire place seemed a little… off somehow.
Sylar snorted. “This island isn’t on any map, and there’s no one who can stake claim on it because I made it.”
“You what?” Peter turned to look at him, then at his surroundings again.
“Well, I’m still in the middle of things. Bringing soil and dirt here to make something grow was quite bothersome, and I had to boost the growth of those trees… I didn’t want to wait for a few decades.”
“You made us an island,” Peter repeated, blinking, not understanding why Sylar would go through such an ordeal. He didn’t even want to ask how he made it. Had he dragged a huge piece of stone from somewhere and planted it here in the middle of nowhere?
“I was thinking maybe we needed our own place. Our neighbors were getting rather annoying, and I don’t see them coming all the way over here on a whim.”
Peter turned to look at Sylar again, suspicious. The other looked rather pleased with himself, standing there and looking at his project. Sure, this explained why he had been gone so much, but Peter still failed to see the reason. “I thought you liked staking your claim on half of the American soil?”
Sylar raised an eyebrow at him, then shrugged. “It gets a little old. In the beginning it was fun to have power like that, but… In a few days it was already getting a little stale. Add a few more decades, and there really was no point. We are being harassed all the time, and I thought you could use fewer reminders of your failures.”
Peter wasn’t certain how to respond to that. He knew the other was being honest, which was even more terrifying… Finally he just looked around again, trying to distract himself from the fact that this was probably the most unselfish thing Sylar had ever done for him – if saving him from the fall at Pinehearst didn’t count.
“I thought you might want to make a garden over there,” Sylar pointed after a moment. “Tomatoes and watermelons…” He sounded surprisingly sheepish, a side of him which Peter had witnessed only when he visited a potential future and met Gabriel and his son Noah.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Peter finally admitted, then began to walk around. The island was rather big for just the two of them, and there weren’t any animals, but Sylar had said worrying about the plants had been giving him a headache as it was. Sylar seemed interested in creating his own ecosystem, though, and Peter wondered if that had something to do with his original power; he knew how it would work, so he only needed to know what he wanted.
When they had strolled around for a few hours and the sun was beginning to set, they went back to the shore and sat down there. Peter watched the sun, which seemed to be sinking into the ocean itself. It was beautiful, and it was hard to remember how depressed he had felt this morning.
He turned to look at Sylar, who was busy picking small stones and tossing them further from the water, as if he was afraid his island would disappear with the next wave. Peter smiled, then leaned closer to him and hugged him awkwardly. They both tensed a little, but Peter didn’t let go. Instead he closed his eyes, trying to remember when someone had been this close to him before now. His mother, maybe, when she hugged him in the past.
“Thank you,” he said quietly, then pulled back before Sylar got it into his head to push him back. “You… I don’t know how to say this without sounding too pathetic, but I didn’t think anyone would do something like this for me after all the horrible things I’ve done.”
“You’re right, that was rather pathetic,” Sylar decided, but he was smiling.
Peter nodded, then leaned back on his arms, looking at the sea. “I failed, you know. I tried to change it, and I had it all under control when I… when the past me suddenly touched me, absorbing some of my powers and all my memories. He couldn’t control any of it. He re-created The Earthquake he kept seeing in his head. I killed him. I didn’t mean it to be final, but he didn’t heal. Claire died too. D.C. was almost destroyed. So I went back and… just watched it all happen again. Watched you kill Nathan.”
Sylar was silent beside him. Peter didn’t want to ask him to say anything, but he really craved for a kind word – anything that would make the gnawing guilt and endless sorrow vanish, or at least lessen.
Finally Sylar leaned back as well, their shoulders touching slightly. “This might sound awfully selfish, but… I’m glad you couldn’t change it.”
Peter gave the other an openly shocked look.
Sylar just stared at him, his strong features shadowed as the sun finally disappeared from the sky, leaving them to deepening gloom. “Because if you did, we wouldn’t have this. This world of ours. As much suffering as there has been… there has to be a reason for it. I made this place for you, Peter; to make you let go of the demons, because they would be long gone if you only let them… Just live.” It almost sounded like an order, making Peter smile a little.
“Maybe… you’re right. Maybe it’s time. And we have this place,” he decided, craning back his head to look at the small trees now hidden in shadows. “It could be paradise,” he finally decided. With their abilities, they could make it into anything they wanted.
“Our Garden of Eden,” Sylar agreed, then laid back, resting his head on his arms.
Peter joined him, looking up at the stars – the only thing that hadn’t been changed by the discovery of their powers, the end of the world, or today.
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