They flew to India. It wasn’t as if they could have just stepped on a plane with Sylar’s history and Peter’s condition. They didn’t even debate about it.
After grabbing what provisions and clothes they needed, they set out. Flying cross-country took a bit longer than usual because Peter sought refuge an hour before dawn each morning and refused to move from there. He could see how it made their traveling a lot harder. Sylar explored during the days, trying to find some way to shelter Peter from the sun while they flew, but if he brought back one more burqa with him, Peter had promised to slice his throat so many times it would no longer patch itself up.
When they got as far as crossing the Atlantic and Europe after that, things got tricky in another way. For one, while crossing the ocean, finding refuge during the day forced them to camp out on small, uninhabitable islands where they often had to battle with territorial birds or other, bigger animals, and sometimes they had to settle for an island that was no better than a rock sticking out of the water. Those days seemed to last forever because Peter had to hide beneath a tarp they had taken along for the trip just for this reason.
In the air, it wasn’t much easier; no matter where they flew, it got cold pretty fast, and more than once they almost collided with a plane. The closer to land they came, the more crowded the skies seemed to be as well.
Getting to India wasn’t as easy as one might have thought, although they had a map and a compass. When they eventually found the right country, they faced another difficulty: to find one man in a city of millions. It wasn’t as if they could stop to ask for directions. To make it worse, Peter was feeling increasingly hungry – and not for solid food.
“Try to behave yourself,” Sylar told him one night while they walked down a street. Peter wasn’t sure, but Sylar seemed to have finally located Mohinder, and they were on their way to meet the man. He was still of the opinion that Mohinder would not help them, but it would be amusing to see Sylar try and sweet-talk him into it.
The streets of Madras were crowded even at night, and the people brushing past him made Peter try and stop every now and then. To smell all of them…
Sylar tugged him along, though, not allowing him to wander. “Do I need to put you on a leash?” he muttered. Pulling Peter into an alley between buildings, he looked up, then glanced at the small map he had drawn. “This should be it.”
“It’s kind of late to go up for a visit,” Peter pointed out. It was past midnight already. A good night for a midnight snack, though… He gazed at the people on the street. Their collective pulses caressed his ears, almost tickling, and he was more desperate by the minute to scratch the itch.
“Let’s go,” Sylar snapped, took Peter by the front of his shirt and pulled him up into the air with him. He had definitely gotten more and more irritated with Peter’s vampire ability. He wasn’t alone – whenever Peter had a clear head to think about it. Right now he was going into the zone where he couldn’t remember his own name not to mention what species he represented.
They landed on a balcony, and Sylar pushed the doors open telekinetically, pulling Peter in behind him. It was dark, although Peter’s eyesight was getting better and better as the thirst increased, which helped him to spot the two people sleeping in a bed a few feet in front of them. He took a step, excited, but Sylar held onto him. “Don’t make me hit you,” he hissed at Peter, then reached over to shake Mohinder.
To his credit, he managed to wake the man up without stirring the woman sleeping next to him. Although the second Mohinder woke up and realized he wasn’t alone in the room, he almost screamed, but Sylar must have done something to stop the sound because Mohinder stayed quiet, grabbing onto his throat.
“We need to talk,” Sylar said, gesturing towards the door of the bedroom. Mohinder looked very unhappy, even when Sylar released his invisible hold, but apparently Mohinder decided that if he was going to throw them out, he would prefer to do it in another room.
Mohinder closed the bedroom door after they stepped through it, glaring at them both. “This had better be really good,” he told them, then glanced at Peter. “Hello, Peter,” he greeted.
Peter attempted to lunge towards the Indian. The smell of his sweat, the beat of his heart, the nervous, angry pulse visible on his neck…
“We need your help,” Sylar told Mohinder.
“I’m not interested,” Mohinder said at once. “I left that life behind. I promised Mira…”
The woman in the bedroom, Peter’s mind connected the name. At least he assumed it was her. Not that he needed a name label on his next dinner… It was enough she looked tasty.
“I know,” Sylar said, “and we’re sorry, but it’s serious, and…”
How long were they going to talk? Impatient, Peter took a step, opening his mouth, then felt something grab him by the neck, holding him back. He tried to reach Mohinder, his fingers grasping at him, only inches away. So close… He pushed forward harder, then felt himself being jerked into the air and the next thing he knew, he collided against the far wall and hung there, Sylar’s right hand raised to mimic the movement his power had executed.
Mohinder’s eyes were wide, and he was opening and closing his mouth rapidly. “What is wrong with him?”
“That is the problem,” Sylar supplied. “It’s a power… sort of. The first time he caught it, he could just get rid of it by replacing it with another ability. But then someone took him and they… made it stick. He gets a bit out of hand if you don’t watch it.”
Mohinder stared at him, then stepped closer. He actually took a flashlight from the table and pointed the light into Peter’s eyes, and as he opened his mouth, trying to reach for him, Mohinder probably flashed it towards his mouth has well. The Indian took a step back after that. “That’s… But really, I can’t help you. I don’t know how. And even if I did… I just can’t get involved in it again, I’m sorry.”
Sylar shifted. Peter could sense his frustration. Perhaps if he didn’t like where this was going, he would let Peter go and have a drink – or two.
“Do you want him to run around in the streets like this?” Sylar asked.
“If you want to play the hero,” Mohinder said dryly, “like I’ve heard you’re doing, then you better keep an eye on him. Find a way to contain it, and eventually it might wear off. Now get out of here before Mira wakes up!”
He made to return to the bedroom, but Sylar stepped in front of him. “You have to help him,” he demanded. With the old threat missing from his voice, though, it wasn’t half as effective.
“I can’t,” Mohinder said. “Even if I wanted to… I wouldn’t know were to begin! I don’t have the facilities, I don’t have the research, and at the very least, I might make it worse! Why don’t you try going to the source of this problem and try to get help from there.”
Sylar looked at Peter, struggling on the wall, and when Mohinder disappeared from the room, he didn’t try to stop him. All he did was to drag Peter after him, then phase them through the wall and take them back to the alley. “Great,” he said. “Back to where we started and… would you stop?” he said, looking at Peter who was staring at him now.
Peter blinked. It was getting harder to think, the thirst burning in his veins, his stomach empty, growling, clenching… And to hear Sylar’s heartbeat right next to him…
Sylar sighed, then undid the collar of his shirt quite suddenly. “Go ahead,” he finally said. “Better me than someone else.”
He couldn’t believe his luck, but he wasn’t going to waste it. In a flash Peter had gone forward, baring his teeth, a brief twinge of pain in his mouth mixing with the excitement, and then he had flesh between his teeth, and biting in until he felt the wet warmth… He drank and drank until finally Sylar jerked him back by the hair. Reluctantly Peter pulled back, watching longingly as the wound patched itself up. Sylar looked a little pale, but in the next few minutes the color returned to his face and Peter felt a lot better – and plenty ashamed.
“Sorry,” he finally muttered, staring at his feet. He couldn’t believe how out of control it got in the end, how he had no way of denying the urge.
“We’ll fix you up, Peter,” Sylar promised him. “Until then, you can drink from me. After all, I can heal.” His voice was humorless, but it seemed he was taking Mohinder’s advice to heart: “I’m going to manage your condition, no matter what it takes, until we figure out how to get rid of it.”
Sylar kept his promise: he allowed Peter to drink from him whenever the thirst got unbearable, and that worked for several weeks. During that time they tried to find out where Peter had been taken – the facility he had escaped from. It was hard to determine that; Peter had been more than a little out of it, barely himself, and how he had eventually found home must have been pure instinct. He remembered some details, though, and they had somewhere to start looking.
While they searched, their living situation changed from day to day. Sometimes they would stay in cheap motels that didn’t really care to know who they were, as long as they had the money. They usually got suggestive looks, coming together and leaving together, but that wasn’t enough to turn them from the possibility of a bed and warmth. Otherwise they lived on the streets, sleeping in abandoned buildings and trying to get by.
Eventually they began to run out of money, and although they knew they would be more than capable to survive even without food and certain comforts, they weren’t yet so turned off by normal life’s comforts.
Peter sometimes wondered whether they could stay at one of his friends’ places, but Sylar usually took that moment to point out that they wouldn’t be that welcoming to either of them, especially after they found Peter sucking on their blood.
He had a fair point there, although it always made Peter sulky. He didn’t want to admit that the vampire power was so out of control, yet it was an undeniable fact; a few times he got out on his own, when Sylar was either sleeping or off in search of something and unable to come back before sunset. Those were the few unfortunate moments that Peter’s animalistic nature reacted and he found himself prowling the night and hunting. He would try to hold it back, but it seemed that those rare moments of freedom triggered the thirst for blood.
A few times he almost got caught feeding. Once that resulted in another killing because he had been seen and he really didn’t like being distracted while he was in the middle of feeding, and another time he had to abandon his fresh kill because he ran into an armed guard and didn’t feel like dodging bullets. Even the animal inside him learned pretty quick where to make a kill and to avoid crowds at all times.
He may have not gotten caught by Sylar, but a few times he got so excited that he didn’t make it back before dawn, and had to wait till nightfall in whatever spot he had picked out for his meal. After the second time, Sylar started to put some real effort into finding the answers for curing him.
“We can’t have you going around murdering people!” Sylar said.
The beast within him tried to point out that at least they died for a good cause…
They were narrowing down the possible locations where Peter had been held. Once, after waking up covered in blood and spending hours trying to wash it off, Peter had suggested he could just allow them to capture him again and take him back, but Sylar thought it was too risky.
“If I can’t follow you, then what? You’ll be on your own. And by the sound of it, they underestimated you the first time. We’re going to go the way we’ve been heading until now, and if it doesn’t work, then we’ll think of another way to track them down.”
Peter knew better than to fight him on this. He really couldn’t deal with this on his own anyway. That Sylar fed him his own blood kept Peter on the safe side of coherency, and if he was captured, it could be they would kill him on the spot. If they could, that was. Peter wasn’t sure if it was that easy anymore.
Finally, in Connecticut, they found it; Peter recognized the river, and after they flew across, low above the water, they found the sewer pipe after an hour’s search in the dark. They stared at it, the tunnel freshly blocked with new, strong iron bars, which clearly were there to stop anything bigger than a mouse from getting in or out. They could phase through it, of course, but Peter had no desire to take another trip that way, and Sylar didn’t seem a fan of the idea either.
“There has to be another way in,” Sylar decided, and they climbed up the bank. They were met with trees, but behind the forest there was a high fence and a facility whose purpose for being was hard to determine. It seemed there were still people about, but none could be seen as they waited in the cover of trees. Peter half-dreaded suggesting to Sylar that perhaps the sewers was the way to go after all, considering they didn’t have all that many dark hours left.
Peter mused that perhaps he should be the one with the plan, but Sylar had driven them to come this far. If it wasn’t for him, Peter would have been on a killing spree for a while now, driven mad by the bloodlust. It wasn’t a comforting thought at all.
“Shall we?” Sylar asked at length, his dark eyes still looking at the facility through the fence in front of them.
“Shall we what?” Peter asked. He didn’t want to make the wrong conclusion.
“I guess it really doesn’t matter whether we go in through the front or back…” Sylar mused, then sighed heavily and looked at him in the dark. Shifting a little, Sylar lifted one hand off the ground. “Which power do you want?”
Peter blinked. After all this time, this man still managed to surprise him. Hesitantly he reached over to touch his hand, grasping it for a moment as he picked one; he chose telekinesis because frankly, it was the best option to go with, considering what they were probably going to face.
“Do you need a drink?” Sylar asked after Peter let go of his hand, startling him again.
“No,” Peter said tightly. He had drank from him just this morning, his stomach burning with thirst that wasn’t natural, and after he was done and sat there on the floor of some crappy motel, watching as Sylar’s skin healed itself and color returned to his face, he had cried. To sink so low… He wished there was a way for him to control it, but the longer he had the ability, the more it took over, like some sort of disease. Peter wasn’t sure what he would do with himself – or the people inside that facility – if they couldn’t make him better. He refused to think about it. They had made this happen, so they had better fix it too.
“Okay then,” Sylar said briskly, getting up.
Peter followed him, a bit uncertain about how to proceed, but apparently Sylar had no problem with that; he walked straight to the fence, the pointed his hand towards it, and as he snapped his fingers, Peter saw the metal turn into some kind of liquid. It practically melted away like snow in a microwave.
They walked through the hole and down towards the facility. It was eerily quiet all around them. A few lights shone here and there, but other than the signs on the fence telling them not to trespass, no one tried to stop them.
For a moment Peter had a terrible thought in his head: what if everyone inside were dead? What if he had killed everyone? He was pretty sure he hadn’t, although the details about his escape were a little hazy…
What if he had released some kind of virus that spread from one body to the next? What if he created some kind of army of vampire zombies in there?
“Peter,” Sylar called to him in a low voice.
Peter had stopped walking while Sylar had proceeded to a door and melted the lock on it.
Shaking himself out of it, Peter decided he had seen one too many horror movies recently. He needn’t have bothered, since his own life had plenty of it…
They stepped inside the facility. The hallway stretching before them was just as eerily silent as everything else, but the lights were on, and it didn’t feel like no one had been there recently. Sylar walked forward and Peter allowed the door to fall shut behind them. They didn’t encounter another person until they came to the end of the hallway. It was quite shocking, actually, to see someone sitting in a guard booth, and if the guy there was armed, it was impossible to know that before he pulled out said weapon.
Sylar stopped before the booth’s window, as if waiting to be acknowledged. Peter hovered further back, uncertain whether this kind of approach was a smart one. He would have rather avoided all people until he couldn’t help it anymore.
The man raised his eyes, then frowned and moved to stand up, abandoning the magazine he had been reading. “You can’t be here –” He didn’t get further than that before he was slammed to the opposite wall and went limp, then fell down to the floor with a thud.
Sylar glanced at Peter and shrugged. “I guess visiting hours are over.”
Peter wasn’t sure if that was supposed to be funny. He was quite certain the man had hit his head on the wall when he crashed to it because he could smell blood, and when he did, his senses seemed to sharpen and the monster inside him began to claw at his self-control.
“Let’s go,” he heard Sylar say, as if through a dream. His eyes kept going towards the booth, though, and the body on the floor by the wall, and he actually took a couple steps towards it before he felt a hand on his arm, gripping it tight. “It’s not dinner time,” Sylar told him.
Peter licked his lips, his jaw aching. He knew that in his mouth, changes were happening. If he touched the roof of his mouth behind his teeth, he would feel them pushing through…
“Peter,” Sylar told him again, and pulled him along. He had been babysitting Peter so much recently that he was used to pushing and pulling him around when the lust for blood took over. It wasn’t bad yet, as Peter still had control over himself, so he followed his friend, although grudgingly. Was one bite going to be so bad?
Only that one bite would not be enough.
Squaring his shoulders, Peter focused on walking, and the thirst dissipated a little, the beast left disappointed for now.
They came to an elevator, but chose the stairs beside it; dissolving a lock or kicking down a door was much easier than tinkering with a password-protected elevator. As they progressed, Peter got a bit uneasy. Sure, he had never been in this part of the facility, as far as he could remember, but the hallways looked and smelled the same, and the memory of his escape still troubled him. They weren’t going to turn back now, though, that much was for sure. They needed answers, and as much as Peter hated being here, he couldn’t keep living like this. Neither could Sylar, he suspected.
In the next hallway they chose to enter, they saw two guards. “There has to be something of importance here,” Sylar decided.
Peter could only agree. It wasn’t as if his input was needed; Sylar had already raised his hand and the doors in front of them flew across the hall, knocking down one of the guards. It was very loud and made Peter cringe, but it was nothing compared to the sound of a machine gun pattering the wall between them as the remaining guard responded to their approach.
Sylar and Peter threw themselves away from the imminent path of the bullets, then Sylar vanished into the wall. A moment later the bullets suddenly stopped coming. Peter didn’t smell blood this time, but knew something had happened and dared to step out into the open.
The guard with his gun still loosely in his grasp was lying on the floor, face down. Peter stepped over him, forcing himself not to look.
Sylar was waiting for him, then turned to walk down the hall when Peter caught up.
The shots had probably been heard a good distance away, and Peter flexed his fingers, preparing himself for another attack. Or was it defense since he and Sylar were the intruders? He decided it wasn’t important. They had something here they wanted – information – and they were going to get it. If they wanted to complain, they could look into the mirror and debate whose fault it was that Peter was like this.
They continued down the hall, finding that the doors were locked. Most of the rooms had windows to the hallway, though, and they were all dark and empty. Peter felt mildly disappointed, but Sylar would not be discouraged so easily. “We’ll try the next floor. If they have armed guards here, we can’t be going in the wrong direction.”
So down the stairs they went again, Sylar melting the lock on the door, but when he pushed them open, both he and Peter froze to the spot. They were greeted by a dozen guns aimed at them. Clearly they had been expected.
Staring down the barrels, Peter didn’t feel that confident about the aftermath of this shootout, but Sylar simply sneered, almost as if he was disappointed. Peter was about to point out to him that getting out of this one was going to be slightly more difficult than from their latest predicament where they only had two men to deal with, not to mention the element of surprise, but of course he needn’t have worried; seconds later the floor began to melt, turning into liquid beneath the soldiers. A few of them were quick enough to squeeze their triggers as they fell down to the next floor, but they weren’t even close to hitting their intended targets.
Sylar sneered again. “If they mess around with our powers, one would expect them to be a bit more prepared…”
Stepping around the newly formed hole which was almost the entire width of the hallway, they set forward. The doors on either side were locked like before, but this time Sylar stopped in front of one of them, cocking his head.
“Someone’s inside,” he stated.
Peter looked at the door. This room had no windows, so it was a good place to hide. Now that he really focused… “Elevated heartbeat,” he muttered. He knew it wasn’t Sylar’s, because he was relatively calm, and there were more than one nearby. Probably in the very room they were facing.
Sylar gave him a look, probably to check whether Peter was losing it again, then stepped to the door and pushed it open. The amount of inhuman strength sent parts of the frame flying as well, and the men and women inside the room jumped back. They all wore lab coats, and the scene was eerily familiar; it felt like the night when Peter escaped and killed a room full of scientists. The way some of them paled, it felt almost like they knew what he had done.
Stepping inside the room, Sylar scowled at them, which definitely didn’t help with the generally frightened mood in the closed space. “Evening,” Sylar greeted, not bothering to make the pleasantries particularly long. “We were hoping you could help us with a bit of a problem. See, your fellow scientists here messed him up a little…”
Peter watched the crowd. The rush of their blood was getting maddening, their joined heartbeats making his head thrum, but then one of them looked back at him, and of all the people in the room, Peter knew he was familiar with the topic. He approached him, and the man must have realized his error of looking at him, swiftly backing away. There was nowhere to go, though, and with newfound resolution, Peter jumped across a table and pinned the man against another one.
The scientist swallowed and leaned as far back as possible, as if he thought Peter was contagious somehow. He kept looking at his mouth, and Peter had a fairly good idea what he was looking for. A frail, thin man, past his prime age; he had no chance at all if Peter began to lose control.
“Talk,” he snapped at the man. “How do I get rid of this… power?”
The man blinked, as if unable to believe he was able to talk. Peter wondered whether their little test had gone wrong after all, and Peter hadn’t turned into what they wanted.
As the man continued to stare, Peter shook him a bit, then threw him across the table and followed him over it in one leap, landing on the floor with feet on either side of him. He could just snap his neck… No! He had to hold it back until they got the man to talk.
“You weren’t…” the man started, jaw shaking. “The others… none of them survived!” he finally stammered. “All the other ones we experimented on, their bodies destroyed themselves in the end. They couldn’t sustain the virus.”
Peter shifted impatiently. “Well, I’m not dead, so how do I get rid of it?”
The man looked desperate, and his heart was beating madly. He would probably die of a heart attack if Peter didn’t rip his chest open first.
“Answer him, or this is going to turn a lot more unpleasant for everyone,” Sylar joined the discussion. The other scientists backed way from him another inch.
The man on the floor shook his head in despair. “There is nothing to be done! It’s bonded to you on a cellular level. The only way to kill the virus is to completely destroy your body.”
“That’s unhelpful,” Sylar noted. “Is there any research left? Maybe you’re not the person we should be talking to.”
The man looked at him a bit wryly now. “I’m the last remaining person in this entire facility who was involved in the tests. He killed everyone else with information on the virus when he escaped. If you want to help him, find a way to kill him.”
Peter hadn’t really thought it would come to this. It was man made – sort of – so he had assumed they could have some kind of antidote for it. Apparently not. He was a failed experiment… or he was the only successful result. Either way, if the man was speaking the truth and there was no point for him to lie, they were fucked.
A sound came from the outside. Peter guessed the men Sylar had dropped one floor down had made their way back up, probably with reinforcements.
Sylar glanced towards the hallway, then at Peter. “What do you think?”
Peter pursed his lips, feeling powerless. “I think he’s telling us the truth and is just afraid we’ll kill him because we don’t like his answer.”
“A valid fear when talking to a blood-thirsty monster seeking vengeance. However…” Sylar fell silent, thoughtful. The clatter in the hallway was increasing. They were going to come in soon, probably with more firepower than before, and Peter had the feeling they would shoot first and ask questions much later.
“Is there anyone else alive who knows about this project? Anyone who could help us?” Peter insisted.
“I’m sorry,” the man on the floor said, shaking his head.
Peter felt his spirits crash a bit. Every last bit of hope…
“We need to go,” Sylar said abruptly. “Right now.” He stepped over to Peter without further explanation, grabbed his arm tight, and suddenly they were dropping. They fell down at least two floors before Sylar let go of him and they crashed to the floor. The impact momentarily pushed the air out of Peter’s lungs. Above them, the muffled sound of guns could be heard. Peter detected a few screams as well, but forced himself not to rush back up there. Who knew what those scientists had been working on lately? When a vampire virus experiment fails, what would be the natural next step? He’d rather not think about it.
Sylar got to his feet, looking up and down the dark hallway they were in now, then chose a direction at random. Peter followed him, feeling defeated and trying not to dwell on the dark thought that this may well be what his life would be like forever.
Peter sighed. His face was beginning to burn, and the sun hadn’t even climbed past the horizon yet. It seemed his nights got shorter as his tolerance of sunlight lessened. He suspected, though, that there was a valid reason for that; he hadn’t been drinking for a while. Thirst churned in his stomach, making him feel like he was dying of thirst, but he would not give into it. Not before he absolutely had to.
After the disaster that was their visit to the secret government facility, he had tried to keep the monster at bay. If he had to live the rest of his life like this, he would not turn into New York City’s own Count Dracula; he would fight it to the last breath and only indulge the need to feed when he could no longer survive without it.
Looking at past experience, he wasn’t sure whether he could actually hold out that long. The monster had the tendency to take over once it was ignored long enough, and the suffering it put him through when he denied its wishes was getting old fast.
Another minute passed as he sat there, and the pain on his exposed skin was almost unbearable. His eyes were hurting, like when you came out of the dim indoors into brilliant sunlight.
Footsteps approached him, and he knew it was Sylar; they were hiding in an abandoned house which looked very uninviting, so there was no one else around. Not at this hour. “You should get inside,” Sylar stated needlessly. “There’s no point sitting out here.”
“But isn’t it that through suffering you can achieve… something?” Peter couldn’t quite remember what it was.
Sylar chuckled. “Big words from someone who didn’t know much about suffering. Now come on.” He took Peter’s arm and pulled him up, guiding him down to a cellar he had been preparing all night.
“My very own crypt,” Peter sighed miserably. “Where’s the coffin?” He had been making bad jokes like that all the way home from the facility.
“We’ll figure something out,” Sylar promised. He probably wasn’t talking about the crypt, though, or the coffin.
Peter sat down on assorted pillows and blankets that had certainly seen better days, but it was better than nothing. As he sat there, his stomach rumbled violently, making him jerk in pain. It was like every muscle in his body was clenching in pain.
“You should eat,” Sylar told him in a low voice.
“You make it sound like a picnic in the park,” Peter snarled, pulling up his knees.
“Just make sure I don’t attack some innocent person after I wake up,” Peter told him. He knew that while he slept, the beast might take over, and if it was in control when he woke up, there was no way of knowing who ended up as appetizer, entrée or dessert. He was hungry enough for all three in an all-you-can-eat buffet.
He lay down, trying to ignore his burning insides. His skin was still hurting as well, even though he had been indoors for a while now. From somewhere drifted over the smell of freshly baked bread. Thinking about real food didn’t make him feel sick, but it made him even hungrier for the only thing that could actually satisfy him. Better not think about any of it, he decided.
Sylar was still looking at him steadily. Like he was gazing upon a brooding child bothered by a dilemma that was hard for an adult to handle as well…
“You should drink,” Sylar finally said. He didn’t even pretend with ‘eat’ this time, because they both knew Peter’s diet mostly consisted of liquid these days.
Peter looked at him, feeling rebellious. He really wished the other man would stop talking about food, because it wasn’t helping. Then again, Sylar probably knew that. After all, there was only one source of food he could use rather freely, and that had to do with the strong pulse beating beneath the skin of Sylar’s neck. Even in the darkness of the cellar, Peter’s eyes could find it, hungry and yearning no matter how he tried to look away.
He could wait…
“You can’t wait forever, Peter,” Sylar told him pointedly. “Better do it before you’re going crazy with thirst. At least you’ll have some control over it.”
“I’ll be fine for a bit longer,” Peter said and lay down. If he managed to fall asleep – he usually did during the day, because he got very tired when the sun came up – he would be fine until sundown.
Sylar wasn’t buying it, though. He shifted, then suddenly straddled Peter, his weight pressing him down to the worn mattress. Peter tried to push him off, but Sylar wasn’t concerned with that; his fingers hovered over his neck, and then a smooth line appeared there, blood trickling out.
Peter’s entire body froze, then convulsed. The smell and sight of blood was too much. So long he had waited, so much he had suffered, and mere inches from his face…
He shot up as Sylar leaned down, and his teeth sank in before the wound started to close. The brief sting at the roof of his mouth didn’t matter since soon he would be able to suck in more. The warm trickle down his throat soothed his stomach almost at once, and he sighed, then sucked for more.
Sylar shifted, and Peter grabbed him to keep him close. The other man wasn’t moving away, though. He lay on top of Peter, his breaths changing a bit either with pain or the fact that his blood was being sucked out at a deadly pace. Even through the bliss, Peter wanted to stop, hanging onto consciousness. It was so easy to get lost in the thrill of feeding, but he didn’t want that to happen. He wanted to be aware, even though it made him sick inside – yet not sick enough to throw up. It was as if his body would do whatever was necessary to hold onto the blood once it got some.
Finally the blood wasn’t coming that easily anymore, and Sylar’s body was getting limp and heavy on top of him; the man wasn’t holding himself the way a person awake would. A dead weight… Withdrawing his teeth and leaning his head back, Peter breathed contentedly. He licked his lips, feeling the blood cool on his skin. He had been in such a hurry and had probably made a mess because the smell of blood was still strong.
Once the thrill disappeared, though, two things came to him at once; regret and a hunger for more, although he wasn’t that thirsty anymore. It was a craving for something delicious, though, like candy. He could not go out looking for more, though, because the sun was up. A wise choice on Sylar’s part.
So, the regret took over.
He looked at the other man’s body, eyes unblinking and unfocused, the chest unmoving, no pulse left to detect. Peter had seen plenty of dead people before, but there was always something when it came to his own victims. The overbearing sadness and self-hatred. Desperation since he knew that no matter what he did, he could not stop.
Pulling himself a few feet away from Sylar’s body, Peter tried to rub the blood from his skin and clothes, the smell of it driving him crazy with both need and disgust. The monster and the man struggled, and eventually the monster withdrew since for now, it had been fed and was content to lie dormant.
Peter felt the tears on his face and bowed his head, rocking softly, crying alone in an abandoned, broken house that no one had any use for anymore. It was almost like his life; he had once been a hero, someone who made a difference. Someone who helped people. Now he had to watch himself – have Sylar watch him – so that he wouldn’t jump an innocent person out on the street.
A shuddery breath broke him out of it eventually, and he watched as Sylar blinked and began to move slightly. The first breath of life after being dead was never pleasant, Peter remembered that. The way one’s lungs would burn, the shock, the initial what the fuck? before the brain picked up on the fact that it had been shut down for a moment – something that didn’t occur naturally.
Sylar eventually turned to his side and looked at him, still breathing carefully, trying to get his body going. The wound on his neck was long gone. And then he just smiled at Peter.
Another morning. Another painful sunrise that he wasn’t going to see in this fucked up new life. The more he thought about this, the more he didn’t understand how someone would want to create a virus to replicate the original power. Well, it wasn’t as if the scientists themselves were going to spend the rest of their lives haunting the night.
“It’s almost time.”
It wasn’t as if Sylar needed to come and tell him, but it was the man’s way of saying that he had everything prepared for Peter’s long sleep during the day.
“Maybe I should move to the Arctic,” Peter pondered.
“And suck on icicles?” Sylar countered. “Because it’s way too cold out there for me. Plus, people tend to come out there on expeditions, so it wouldn’t be as if you were alone. Someone would eventually join you for a Happy Meal.”
Peter sighed. “True.” He looked out towards the horizon. “I’ve been thinking,” he went on after a while.
“About?” Sylar asked.
“What that scientist said. That to destroy the virus… I have to die.”
“We’ll find a way,” Sylar shrugged, sounding sickeningly positive about it.
“I’m not saying I want to die,” Peter said, “but I most definitely don’t want to keep living like this either. So, something needs to happen.”
“We could try Suresh again.”
“Because that went over so well last time we were there.”
They could go from one scientist to the next. Most of them would not take it seriously. Some of them could not comprehend the whole matter. Plenty of them would probably end up on Peter’s menu when he got frustrated enough.
“You know how in nature animals are usually most afraid of something that’s dangerous to them?” Peter pondered. It was really starting to hurt him to stay outdoors, so he slowly rose to his feet. Just a few more minutes, and he would go inside.
“Yes, that is a very useful function,” Sylar replied pleasantly enough, eyeing Peter as if checking whether there was smoke rising from his skin or not. He was probably burning to suggest that Peter should get out of the sun.
“The way I’ve figured it… What is the thing I’m most afraid of these days?” he asked.
Sylar sighed. “Drinking someone’s blood and killing them,” he said without hesitation.
Peter pursed his lips, then turned and went inside and downstairs; they were still staying at the same abandoned house as the last time he drank from Sylar. Until now, they hadn’t been disturbed, and Sylar would be able to take care of intruders until it was safe to move to another location if need be.
“Okay, maybe I phrased the question badly,” Peter said as he sat down and Sylar took a seat on the stairs leading up. “What is it that this… thing is afraid of?” he asked again, referring to his own personal Mr. Hyde.
Sylar frowned. “Not getting fed regularly?”
Peter shook his head impatiently. “No. That’s just inconvenient, but hardly the biggest fear it has. Try to think outside the box.”
Sylar thought about it, far longer than it probably should have taken him. “Well, you don’t have an allergy for garlic yet, and wooden stakes or religious figurines don’t give you a rash…”
“Very funny,” Peter snapped.
Sylar regarded him, the smile fading from his lips.
“The sun,” Peter finally gave up on him.
Sylar nodded, almost hesitantly. “The sun,” he repeated like he had known the answer but had simply been unwilling to give it to Peter.
“Every day, I feel anxious whenever the sun’s coming up and it lasts until sundown,” Peter said. “We’ve tried things, and it’s almost as if this thing has its own way to regenerate. Not like Claire, but… I don’t think I could, say, stab myself to death. But the sun,” he said, looking up towards the ceiling. “The sun is a constant terror. Which means, logically, that it could destroy this thing.”
“I thought you weren’t ready to die,” Sylar said.
Peter looked back down at him. “True. I’m not.”
“That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t try it, though,” Peter continued.
Sylar shifted uncomfortably. After all of their time together, Peter was beginning to think that it wasn’t just the feel of responsibility that kept Sylar here. They had become friends. If Peter wasn’t around anymore, where would Sylar go? He was still a wanted felon, after all.
“Since I’m able to hold onto one special ability on top of the vampire power… If I had the power to regenerate at the same time as I step into the sun, what do you think would happen?” Peter asked him.
Sylar’s brow furrowed, a clear sign that he was thinking about it. “Well, it sounds logical… With the power to regenerate, you can bring back your body from almost anything without the need to be alive. But there is also a chance that in your current state, the sun will burn you into dust, your other ability included.”
Peter nodded. He had figured as much. It wasn’t as if they could test it somehow. “I’m not going to live like this forever,” he said again, with determination. “One way or another… I’m going to try it. If it fails… well, I don’t have to worry about it.”
Sylar looked unhappy with that conclusion, but he had been with Peter this whole time, so he probably knew that this was totally ruining his life. Besides, if Peter’s condition would ever evolve, say, to infect others, neither of them would forgive themselves.
Two days later was the first time they even talked about it again. Peter had given Sylar time to get used to the possibility that Peter was potentially going to die. Well, it wasn’t easy for him either, but he had felt dead inside for so long it wouldn’t make such a huge difference to him if things didn’t work out. It wasn’t as if Peter would know the difference if their theory didn’t work.
“I want to do it,” he told Sylar one morning when he was heading out to hide from the sun again. “It’s not likely a better option is going to come our way anytime soon, and I’ve lived with this long enough.”
Sylar nodded a bit grimly, drawing the curtains and closing doors. “I just wish we were absolutely certain.”
Peter snorted. “When was the last time either of us was absolutely certain about anything?”
The other man didn’t reply. He seemed to be thinking about it, and even when Peter yawned and curled up to sleep, he knew that Sylar was wracking his brain for all its worth, trying to understand the whole process of it. Part of Peter wished he would accept their theory, and yet there was a voice that hoped Sylar would discover a weak link that could hold Peter back from doing it.
When Peter woke up near sundown, Sylar was still seated at the same spot. Whether he had remained there all this time, Peter didn’t know. His expression was solemn and serious, which Peter took as a good sign: Sylar hadn’t found any excuses for him not to try it.
As they waited for the sun to set, Sylar seemed more thoughtful. “Perhaps we should go see Claire,” he mused. “Make sure you have the real thing…”
“I refuse to see her like this,” Peter said at once. If he got hungry, it would be a mess. “Yours is good enough. After all, it is her ability.” Somehow Peter still didn’t mange to say that completely free of resentment – even though that very ability had kept him alive and away from disaster for a long time now.
Sylar sighed and nodded. “Fine. When do you want to do it?”
Peter knew he could give them more time, but why? So he could perhaps lose control again and kill someone? He wasn’t going to miraculously heal himself. It hadn’t happened, and he didn’t think it would happen in the future either. If he dragged this out, he was just cheating them both. “Soon,” he finally said. “Maybe tonight…”
“I guess it might be better to find more privacy, then,” Sylar suggested.
If Peter burst into flames and died – or burst into flames and then came back to life – it wasn’t the kind of spectacle he wanted to do around other people, so he had to agree that they needed some privacy for this. So, after the sun was no longer visible from behind the horizon, they took flight.
Lately they had become good at finding places where people didn’t hang around, be it wilderness or suburban areas. They chose wilderness this time because the chance to be seen or heard was less likely there, and if worst came to worst and there were remains to be hidden, it would be easier to do.
They landed in the middle of a forest, and Peter sought high ground, finding a rocky spot on top of a hill. He wasn’t sure how this would happen. Each vampire movie he had seen had their own version on how vampires died, and he really wasn’t sure which one to begin with. He didn’t want to start a wildfire, though, so the fewer the trees and undergrowth there were, the better.
The remaining hours of the night seemed to drag on forever.
At first Peter just sat on a rock and stared at the sky, but since the sun hung back and refused to come out, he got a little bored. He wondered if any restless human being could actually stay still, quiet and calm for such a long time and contemplate the great mysteries of life.
Sylar seemed just as restless, tugging weeds from the ground or breaking twigs into small pieces. It was quite amusing, actually, envisioning him as the great serial killer that Peter had once hunted, and seeing him now, sitting there nervously and once in a while glancing at the sky or his watch.
Peter smiled at him briefly. “No time like the present, they say.”
Sylar looked up at him. “We can still go back if you want to.”
“No,” Peter shook his head. “I’m doing this.”
“I hope you realize you’re not doing this to save the world or anything,” the other man mused.
“Maybe this is for me, then.”
“Kind of selfish, don’t you think?”
“Do you miss me sucking your carotid artery so much?”
They both laughed, then fell silent. It wasn’t that funny, really.
Peter tried to think of something lighthearted to talk about, but clearly his success was no greater than Sylar’s; they sat in silence, which got heavier as nature began to wake up around them and Peter was starting to feel anxious. The monster wanted to start finding shelter, but today he would not allow it.
When the horizon started to change color, dyeing the entire sky bit by bit, Peter smiled faintly. Sure, he had watched this before, but as the sunrise progressed, it was easy to believe it had been a long time since he had last seen it. The things people took for granted…
His eagerness to leave the scene grew each minute, especially when his skin began to feel a bit too hot for comfort. It was like watching certain death approach, and the need to run was overwhelming, but Peter stood his ground, even with difficulty. He could do this if he wanted it enough, and he did want this to end.
Sylar stepped up to him after a bit, probably sensing the fight inside, and suddenly slid his hand to hold Peter’s. Gripping the offered support, Peter felt slightly more grounded. He had been Sylar’s anchor when the man searched for his life and purpose, first in Parkman’s nightmare and later in this life. Now it was Sylar’s time to be an anchor to Peter.
“If this doesn’t work…” Sylar started.
“You’ll be fine,” Peter told him, certain of it.
Sylar shook his head. “Not that, although I’m sure I’ll manage, but… I’ll miss you. And I’m… thankful for this time we had.”
Peter smiled a bit. “You’ll do just fine, you know? As long as you remember you’re a hero.”
Not the kind of hero Hiro was. Not even the kind of hero Peter was; hopefully Sylar would be less naïve, make fewer mistakes, and keep on trying to be better than the rest of the humanity around them.
“Okay,” Peter said. His skin was really starting to hurt, and he needed to run, but he could beat that urge, one final time. “You can let go now,” he told Sylar.
The other man hesitated, so Peter slid his hand from his grip. It wasn’t as if he wanted to be alone for this, but this moment… it was his and his alone, and not even the comfort of a friendly, encouraging touch would keep him back from facing it alone.
Besides, if he burst into flames, he didn’t want to hurt Sylar.
He was almost certain he could see the first trembling slice of the sun, slowly rotating into view. It was beautiful, and he had almost forgotten…
His eyes burned, making them tear up, and his skin felt scorched like after extreme sunburn. The burning sensation grew hotter and sharper, soon bordering on unbearable. Peter focused on watching the sun rise, the beauty of it, and yet it seemed teasingly slow as well, as if determined to drag out his torment.
A smell of burning skin reached his nose, and the waves of pain kept washing over him. Although he knew a human body had a limit as to how much pain it could take, he wasn’t sure if those rules would apply to him as well. His bloodsucking condition had brought him such agony until now, he was sure it would be able to withstand a bit more as well.
Suddenly he knew, however, that he had reached a breaking point. The sun seemed to grow brighter, and he finally felt the absence of thirst. He hadn’t really even noticed it until now, but now that it was no longer there…
Then it was like exploding above New York City all over again.
His body unable to contain the power within, tearing itself apart.
Pain – and relief.
It was finally over.
The first breath was always painful. Lungs expanding, heart beating a mile a minute, and the brain trying to catch a ride on the flow of information.
Ringing in his ears, coughing and heaving for breaths, his body feeling tender like after a good beating, Peter tried to put his thoughts into some kind of coherent order.
“Peter!” Sylar exclaimed happily from beside him, making his ears ring all over again.
Wincing, Peter closed his eyes, trying to take it a bit easier. Where was he? When? What was the last thing he could remember?
For a moment his mind was like a page wiped blank, but slowly things started to come back to him.
New York. No, a forest. The sun. Beautiful and painful…
“You did it, Peter,” Sylar said, his words now barely a whisper.
Peter dared to open his eyes again. “I did?” For a moment he was confused, but it had to be something important.
“I think so,” Sylar nodded, but sounded a little less certain. Still, he was absolutely beaming. “You sure took your time, but considering you were just a smoking corpse by the end…”
It was coming to him now, slowly. They were no longer in a forest, though, but in a building. Indoors, in a basement the likes of which he had seen too many times. A faint rumble of traffic could be heard, vibrating along the walls.
He had done it… But had he really?
Slowly he sat up. Covered in blankets, what he could see of his body was almost baby-smooth skin. He guessed he was still regenerating from the inside out, but all the important pieces were there. The rest was just tuning up.
He didn’t feel different, but he dared to think that after this, he would feel hungrier than ever, and he didn’t.
“You didn’t feed me?” he asked Sylar testily.
“There was nothing to feed,” Sylar told him flatly.
Peter guessed that answered his questions about few other things…
He sat there, wondering how he could test it. If the virus was lying dormant, still healing with the rest of his body, it would surface later. If it was gone, there was no way to know, unless…
Looking up, he saw a small ray of sunlight coming in from between two floorboards, and he stood up a bit shakily, wrapped in his blanket, and walked over to it. He placed his hand in front of the beam of light, and felt nothing but gentle warmth. Maybe it was too soon to tell, but it filled him with such joy, happiness and relief that it was hard to contain it.
“I think we did it,” Sylar told him.
“I sure hope so,” Peter told him. “Because either I’m becoming immune to their biggest weakness…”
“I’ll tell you if you start to sparkle,” Sylar promised him, and Peter laughed.
There was only one way to figure out whether the monster was truly gone, and that was to go out into the world and see for himself. Peter was more than ready to try and enjoy some sunlight on his skin again. He was even paler than usual, like he hadn’t seen the sun in years.
“I’ll get you some clothes,” Sylar told him, as if reading his thoughts.
If they stuck together, Peter was sure this was going to work out in the end. Because that’s what heroes did for each other, even when one of them turned into a monster.
Author’s Notes: Took me long enough to write this, and even longer to get it ready for posting. For now, this is the last part I have planned for this little series (but at this very moment I’m already thinking that if I were to write another part for the series, I know what it would include). However, no promises made!
Of course leaving good & honest feedback never hurts, so if you feel like commenting, feel free! And if you would like to see more of this stuff, say so (I’m a pushover, since I wrote this one after popular demand).