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Del Rion [userpic]


Story Info

Title: Zugzwang

Author: Del Rion (delrion.mail (at) gmail.com)

Fandom: Heroes

Era: Post season 4

Genre: Drama

Rating: T / FRT

Characters: Peter Petrelli, Sylar

Pairing: (a hint of) Peter/Sylar

Summary: Peter has a tendency to make bad choices when it comes to trusting other people. Sylar does his best to protect him, but sometimes it isn’t enough, and once again the world is in peril even though the idea was to guide it to a better future.

Written for: Heroes_Contest’s (heroes_contest) One-shot Challenge 30: Black and White

Warnings: Dirty language, description of war, a hint of slash (m/m).

Beta: Mythra (mythras_fire)

Disclaimer: The show, its characters, its places, and everything else belong to Tim Kring and other respective creators and owners of ‘Heroes’. I have made no profit by writing this story, and make no claim over the show.

Feedback: Feel free to drop me a line.

About Zugzwang: zugzwang, noun; a situation in which a player is limited to moves that have a damaging effect.

A rather random idea starting from the color of the eyes (black and white).

The puppy? A dedication to one of my most recent new favorite movies, Marley & Me.

Story and status: Below you see the writing process of the story. If there is no text after the title, then it is finished and checked. Possible updates shall be marked after the title.


~ ~ ~

Written for Heroes_Contest’s One-shot Challenge 30 (Black and White).


The whites of Peter’s eyes were a sharp contrast from the black saucers of his dilated pupils. The vacant stare made it all the more eerie, and Sylar truly hated this ability.

A month ago they had met Carla – or Carl, depending on whether he was wearing a dress and eyeliner or not. His – her – ability showed multiple futures at once, depending on one’s choices, and for some reason the newest addition to the Carnival had wanted to meet Peter.

Peter being Peter had wanted to meet her, far more interested in her ability and the fact that she wanted to share it with him rather than what she hid under her dress. Sylar had nothing against cross-dressing or confused identities – he had suffered plenty from the latter himself – but he was really starting to hate it whenever Peter wanted to go to the Carnival; every time he would sit with Carla, staring into space, just like now, and unless Sylar managed to switch that power with one of his later on, Peter would keep walking spaced out for as long as he could, looking at the world and its ever changing possibilities.

Sylar was starting to think of it as some sort of drug. He had already given Peter the big speech about living in the ‘now’ instead of one of those worlds that might never come to pass.

Peter, who thought he was working to create a better world – again – gave him the speech about how Sylar should start his own life instead of couch surfing at Peter’s. Since Sylar wasn’t planning on being kicked out of his temporary home just yet he held his tongue, but that still didn’t stop him from accidentally touching Peter and replacing the stupid future-gazing ability with something else.

Peter usually believed that he had done it by accident, although he did seem irritated every time he was interrupted. “It’s important, Sylar. You have to be more careful. I could have found a solution today…” he kept saying.

A solution to what?

The mess Claire had caused by jumping off the Ferris Wheel?

World hunger?

Sylar’s reluctance to be kicked out?

Peter never told him. He just kept going on about how useful Carla’s power was, how they were working to piece together a perfect string of events that would bring about a better world.

Sylar, in all honesty, though that he was starting to sound like some sort of crazy person, living in a non-existent world. He didn’t have the heart to tell Peter that, though, especially when Peter had been the one to show him how to be a hero in the first place. The best he could do was to keep an eye on things, and strip Peter of that power whenever he could get away with it.

Three years later

Their surroundings were like a war-zone; burning pieces of paper fell from the sky, whipped around by gusts of wind. Cars lay upside-down on the street which was littered with broken glass and various abandoned items people no longer thought worthy of carrying with them to safety.

A lonely puppy barked, its dirty leash caught in the wreckage of a bike, and Sylar took an extra dozen steps to release it and scoop the puppy up in his arms before reaching Peter who was huddled against the base of a building, a flattened news-stand beside him.

Peter’s eyes were bloodshot and dark. His clothes torn, hair covered in a layer of dust and fine sand that made it appear gray, he looked like he was going to fall apart.

“This is not supposed to happen,” Peter told him as soon as his eyes spotted Sylar’s feet; he was looking straight ahead, not even lifting his eyes to see his face, and Sylar guessed he was in shock.

He and the rest of the nation, probably, after New York City had been bombed a few hours ago – only one in a string of attacks that had been raining down during the day. In the distance people were still shouting and emergency vehicles were trying to get to the site of another disaster, but the street they were on was silent and abandoned.

The puppy in Sylar’s arms sniffed his neck, which was stained with dust and blood. “We can’t stay here,” Sylar told Peter.

Not only might there be another flight coming, but Sylar wasn’t entirely certain it was safe for them to be out here, considering that Peter had been giving advice to certain people for months now, which for some reason hadn’t led them to a paradise on Earth.

They were speaking of World War III now, and the aircraft carriers docked off the U.S. coastline were a clear sign that they were going to get much more fucked than this.

Well, there had been threats flying back and forth, so it wasn’t a shock, really… especially since the U.S. Army had been sending its men to various locations around the world – as a precaution, it was said – before any actual attacks took place.

Peter just sat there, shaking and blinking, and Sylar finally dumped the puppy in his lap and forced him up. Almost reflexively Peter held onto the dog, appearing to notice it for the first time, and followed Sylar down the street.

“Where are we going?” Peter demanded after a moment.

“Somewhere safe,” Sylar replied. He would know it when he saw it.

Eventually he chose the subway tunnels; it would be safe for a brief rest, seeing as most of the tunnels had collapsed and no one would be going in or out of them. No one who would care about them, anyway.

Before going underground, Sylar stepped into a convenience store with a partially collapsed ceiling and grabbed them some food and water. As he turned, he saw that Peter had picked up some dog food from the shelf, and even a toy. The puppy in his arms looked interested in that, wagging its dirty yellow tail.

As they descended below street level it was dark in the tunnel, but Sylar urged them forward. Once they were deep and Sylar was certain they were safe, they sat down and lit some candles. The puppy sniffed around, then returned to them and curled up in Peter’s lap after getting something to eat and drink.

“We can’t stay here forever,” Peter pointed out after a moment, chewing on a cracker.

“We’ll leave tomorrow, find a better place, figure out what to do.”

Peter was silent for a moment, then spoke up again: “We could go to the Carnival.”


“But we would be safe there!”

“No!” Sylar almost shouted, waking the puppy.

Peter looked hurt, and scared.

“We can’t go back there,” Sylar told him.

“Carla might be there,” Peter mused.

“That’s exactly why we can’t go there,” Sylar growled. “That woman, man, whatever the hell he or she is… that bitch tricked you, and you swallowed it like the fool you are. Have you learned nothing during all these years, after all the mistakes you’ve made by trusting the wrong people?” Sylar berated him.

Peter looked down, patting the dog, shaking a bit. Whether it was the shock, cold, or just fear, Sylar didn’t know.

“Maybe we just misinterpreted something,” Peter tried after a bit.

“She led you on,” Sylar told the other man, grabbing his shoulder, making Peter jump and look at him with wide eyes. They were all black and white in the flickering candlelight, yet seemed normal. Sylar knew Peter was with him in this moment, although he probably didn’t want to be. “For months, you’ve been giving the authorities advice on how to negotiate with the other countries to bring us to a better world. You did all that on her orders. Now we’re being attacked, and I’m sure we’ve already retaliated on the countries assaulting us, and still you think he didn’t see this coming?!”

“She,” Peter corrected.

Carla has a goddamn dick hanging between her legs,” Sylar hissed and shook Peter. The puppy gave him a sharp look, but didn’t move.

Peter looked at him angrily, like he wanted to remind Sylar to show some respect, but perhaps he was finally seeing it. Once again he had been majorly fucked over by someone, used as a tool to bring about another selfish end-of-the-world scenario. So far, Carl had done good, if global war was on his to-do list. As mad as Sylar was at Peter for swallowing the bait and allowing himself to be treated like cattle being led to the slaughter, since Carl never came out in public, allowing Peter to do all that for him, Sylar hadn’t lifted a finger to stop it. He had known something would happen if it went on long enough, but perhaps he had wanted to believe that they were changing the world for the better…

Now they were here, though, and the only thing they could do was move forward. To redeem themselves. To stop the world from sliding into chaos even more than it currently was.

What a fucking nightmare.

The puppy looked up at him, panting a bit, and Sylar decided it was a cute little fellow under all that dust and grime. He didn’t know enough about dogs to tell what exactly he or she was, but the puppy looked like a Labrador. Peter’s fingers were slowly rubbing the little neck, making the puppy yawn, and once again it laid its head on Peter’s leg and closed its dark eyes.

Peter looked sad, staring into the darkness, and Sylar could tell he was going to cry. Perhaps it was good. Maybe after that, Peter could move on from this, to make the right choices for a change.

Dismissing the feelings of rancor, anger and disappointment, Sylar shifted, slid his arm over Peter’s shoulders and pulled him closer to lie against him, which was as much comfort as they could create in their hideout. A moment later Peter started to cry softly, and Sylar held him close, the puppy’s warmth a surprising comfort in the middle of all this. Perhaps whoever had lost the puppy would be missing it right now, or perhaps they weren’t even thinking twice about it, worrying about their own lives and futures.

Either way, they were all in this together, and until the world straightened out around them, Sylar was going to take one day at a time while planning his life, which for the time being included the two beings next to him.

It almost felt like he had a family, at long last.

18 months later

After months of running, Peter’s tears were beginning to vanish and his eyes starting to fill with rage. If they hadn’t been specials, with various abilities at their disposal, they would have surely either died or been caught and killed. Peter’s name or face weren’t shown in public, but any man or woman of law enforcement or the military they met seemed to know him and wanted him caught.

After about ten months of running, Peter said ‘enough’, and turned a new page in his life.

They started to look for Carla.

It took them half a year to get on her trail, and several weeks to actually catch up with her. Perhaps they would have been faster about it had they taken a more brutal path of questioning and torturing people for information, but with nations at war around them, and perhaps because of Peter’s nature that no betrayal could change, they did it the hard way.

The Carnival was where they finally faced her, ironically enough. She still had that same trailer with strings of beads hanging across the doorway and wind chimes tinkling outside. Like nothing had changed.

Sylar was looking forward to her explanation of things. His body felt tight and tense, and he wanted nothing more than to slit her head open, regardless of the fact that he hadn’t done so for a very long time and had no desire for her ability either. Not after he became a hero. He could make this one exception, though.

Joop the dog looked up at him as they walked towards the trailer. The animal had stayed with them all this way, growing up and perhaps keeping them a bit saner throughout their run across the war-ravaged country. Between the two of them, he and Peter may have forgotten about certain necessities in life, having access to Claire’s healing ability, but having Joop around forced them to think of food, shelter and warmth.

Peter looked equally tense and almost nervous as they approached. No one came out to greet them. Besides the chimes, it was quiet. They stopped a few feet away from the doorway, and Sylar waited for Peter to make his move. It was because of him that they were here, so it was only fair for Peter to have to make the decisions.

“Carla!” Peter finally called out. It didn’t feel like he wanted to enter the trailer, which he had been all too happy to do in the past; to sit with her, incense hanging in the air, their minds reaching forward…

Nothing happened.

Peter shifted anxiously, fists clenching. How many different variations of this moment he must have created in his head – and this probably wasn’t one of them. He opened his mouth to shout for her again.

“Peter,” Carla’s unmistakable voice came from behind them, and they all turned. She looked the same in her robes, strong make-up underlining her eyes on the masculine face.

Peter swallowed hard. “Why?” he demanded finally. “Why would you let this happen? It wasn’t supposed to be like this!”

Carla actually laughed in his face. “Oh Peter, you’re such a naïve little child!” she gloated. “I said we were going to create a better world. Can’t you see it shaping all around us?”

“Another World War?” Peter said, dismayed and angry. “This is your idea of a better world?!”

Carla snorted. “The human race needs a… cleansing before it can re-shape its future. This is the best way to do it. Millions of lives lost, cities wiped out. Leaderships destroyed. After it’s over, it’s a time for a new era.”

Peter seemed surprisingly shocked, considering how many times he had been used like this. How many times he had put his faith in other people… Sylar was probably the only one who hadn’t betrayed him in the end, and he was going to make sure that never happened. Peter had helped him build his life anew, and he was ever in his debt for that.

“Why me?” Peter finally asked, resignation in his voice.

Carla stepped forward, a smile on her lips. “Because of your brother, of course. Nathan was a great man, many knew him. If I had stepped up to whisper my truths in their ears, they wouldn’t have listened. But you… you come from a family who is recognized, and you have a respectable profession, helping people. Everyone can see you mean well; you’re too innocent and good for anything evil.”

“And everyone shall learn the truth about you!” Peter snapped at her.

She laughed again. “When they find you, they’re going to kill you quietly in some dark corner of the world where no one will find out. Whatever you do, it’s just going to hurt you more. Let it go, keep running away, and perhaps when this all blows over, you and your little boyfriend here can start a new life.”

Sylar didn’t like that. He didn’t mind the boyfriend comment, not really, but her tone irked him. Not to mention that she had played Peter, driving him so far into the corner that whatever Peter tried to do now to save the world, it would just end in self-sacrifice. They wouldn’t listen to him anymore. He was the enemy of the world, although all he had tried to do was to create something better. Not that anyone cared under the current circumstances.

He lifted his hand, and Joop growled; the dog seemed to sense that something was going to happen.

Carla looked at him, then seemed to recall that Sylar’s ability was far more dangerous than her own. “What will killing me accomplish?” she demanded, her high voice dropping lower, almost into a growl. “The war will still rage on. Your precious Peter will still be the cause of it all. Just take him and disappear for good.”

Sylar’s hand wavered, just a bit. She was right. Killing her would accomplish nothing. It would simply give him some brief satisfaction, but had killing ever made him feel better in the long run?

“Killing you will ensure that you won’t lie to anyone else, ever again,” Peter said, then suddenly pulled a gun from beneath his jacket. Sylar didn’t know where he’d gotten his hands on it, but they had come across enough dead people recently that it could have belonged to any of them.

Carla’s smile was a bit tense. “You won’t do it. You’re a good person, remember?”

“Not today,” Peter growled – and pulled the trigger.

She fell back heavily, all feminine grace gone, and lay there on the ground, a dark circle spreading on her chest.

Peter lowered the weapon and dropped it, then petted Joop almost absently.

Sylar stared at the body of the man who had ensnared Peter with promises and lies, guiding him to see a truth that was only a fraction of what would happen. Much like Carla herself. Peter had perhaps seen the paradise on the other side, but getting there was another matter entirely. He wondered if she could have used anyone else like she had used Peter, but it did not matter. He didn’t regret Peter killing him.

“I don’t think we’ll be welcome here either,” Peter noted, looking towards the other trailers. People were coming out, alarmed by the gunshot, and while they were all specials and friends with some of the carnies, killing one of them would be hard to explain. Which side of Carla had the Carnival seen?

“Come on, Joop,” Peter called and set out into the trees surrounding the trailers and tents, and Sylar followed them.

“You know that killing her didn’t change anything?” Sylar asked Peter as they walked through the forest, Joop running ahead of them, sniffing and chasing birds. Out here, it seemed like the war didn’t exist.

“If the world were only black and white, that would be the case,” Peter agreed, then stopped to look at him. “But in the gray… ridding the world of her and giving me some peace of mind had a meaning. No doubt I’ll regret it – but not enough to want to undo it.” He smiled hesitantly, and Sylar smiled back at him, nodding.

They started walking again.

“We’ll get there one day, you know,” Sylar mused after a moment.

“Get where?” Peter asked.

“The better world you dreamt about.” Whether it took years or decades… the world was bound to get better, and Peter had seen it, although the immediate results were different. Perhaps Carla had been right, and through decimation they would reach a new era of greatness. Perhaps this time humanity would get it right.

The End


Posted by: DD3 (dancingdragon3)
Posted at: August 20th, 2011 04:26 pm (UTC)

This was fabulous! So well written. So many great parts:

- your OC Carl/a.
-The little bit of funny at Sylar not wanting to be kicked out in the first section
-the description of the war torn streets and explanation for how it got that way
-Peter being used
-the puppy and Marly and Me
-Peter crying on Sylar's shoulder and Sylar finding a family in the midst of all that destruction
-Sylar's outburst about Carl/a's dick.
-Peter shooting Carl/a
-the slightly hopeful ending

I could go on and on about what I loved about this story. As you may be able to tell, I really liked it. (BTW, I always look forward to reading your entries in the contest.) Cheers!

Posted by: Del Rion (del_rion)
Posted at: August 20th, 2011 04:32 pm (UTC)
Milo *smirk*

Haha, it would seem you enjoyed this one XD (I hope no one finds Carl/a offensive, though. Not becuse of what (s)he is, but how (s)he was treated in the fic XD)

Thanks for reading and dropping a funny comment that just about sums it up how you felt :D

Posted by: DD3 (dancingdragon3)
Posted at: August 20th, 2011 04:41 pm (UTC)

What can I say? I'm enthusiastic when a fic hits the spot. :-)

Posted by: amles80 (amles80)
Posted at: August 21st, 2011 01:23 pm (UTC)

Oh, this is wonderful! Carla's power is fascinating and I can definitely see why it is appealing to Peter - "to piece together a perfect string of events that would bring about a better world", sure, he likes that idea... but it's not surprising that it doesn't work! Even without Carl's manipulation of him, controlling the future by already knowing it just seems way too complex to ever work out successfully at the end. And Sylar knows this but it makes sense that he can't do anything to stop Peter...

Carl is a very good "crazy villain character", wow, this idea about creating a better world through violent "cleansing" never stops being so fascinating to some people... Poor Peter who always wants to believe the best about people.

Also, I like the way you write about Carla, changing from "her" to "him". :) Oh, and the puppy! Cute. <3

Posted by: Del Rion (del_rion)
Posted at: August 21st, 2011 01:46 pm (UTC)

Mm, yeah, Peter really keeps on wishing for a perfect solution, doesn't he? even though he's seen it doesn't work...

I don't really even know what made me think of Carl/a. (well, I have an idea, since I've been watching True Blood lately and I kept thinking of Lafayette, who is a bit feminine... so this is only an extreme version of him, LOL)

Glad you liked this one! Thanks for also dropping me such a nice review ^^

Posted by: amles80 (amles80)
Posted at: August 21st, 2011 01:57 pm (UTC)

*lol* An extreme version of Lafayette, yes, I can see that! :)

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