Disclaimer: Owned by NBC.

Spoilers: Massive for Five Years Gone

Thanks to: Resolute for beta-reading.

Brave New World

In the end, he was grateful to them. They had all helped him. Everyone, from pathetic Brian Davis onward. Even Hiro Nakamura, so eager to save people that he never wondered why a woman who could look like anyone she wanted would need to hide. Hiro had taken "Candace" to Bennet, who wasn't nearly as naïve and seemed to have something of a hostile history with Candace anyway. But that, too, had turned into an advantage. Bennet had turned Candace over to the government without hesitation; he obviously had some sort of arrangement with Matt Parkman. Sylar didn't even have to work to be brought to a locked area full of people who couldn't use their gifts nearly as much as he did; they were delivered to him free of charge. He felt like a kid in a candystore, he truly did. And then, oh, then.

Really, the Petrellis had been the most helpful of the lot. If Peter Petrelli had not exploded and managed to wipe out half of New York – and wasn't it typical that this mass of insecurities had not managed to get a grip on his talents, which Sylar so effortlessly managed to? – if Nathan Petrelli had not told all and sundry that it had been Sylar who was responsible, and therefore dead, why, then this brave new world which was Sylar's for the taking would never have existed. He'd still be reduced to hunting down one undeservingly gifted person at a time, would have been bothered by those various insects who thought they could bring down the most extraordinary person of their time.

It was only fitting that he thank them properly.

In spite of various accusations, Sylar was not insane. An insane person would have gone after Peter Petrelli and his unwarranted collection of powers. No, Sylar was practical, first and foremost. The thrill of the hunt not withstanding, it really wasn't worth the effort if you could have all the resources of the world's most powerful nation at your disposal to do your work. So he went for the older brother; that ever so successful Congressman and source of inspiration for the population at large, chief instigator of the Linderman bill, the running mate of the President-elect, Nathan Petrelli. Nathan Petrelli was about to become Vice President. Clearly, his career could need another push.

Sylar posed as various members of Petrelli's staff for a while, to get the hang of the man's mannerisms, day-to-day habits and important relationships; the mechanisms which made Petrelli tick. He couldn't afford to be sloppy. True, at this point it was unlikely that anyone would be able to discover and stop him, but Sylar was a perfectionist. He despised amateurism of any kind. No, he was an artist.

The actual kill would be a work of art, too. After all, it was a matter of gratitude; Nathan Petrelli had made it all possible. It wouldn't do to just let one of the servants surprise him. There were various candidates available, and for a while, Sylar thought he'd choose Mohinder Suresh, if only because it annoyed him that Mohinder had attached himself to the elder Petrelli. Well, that would soon turn to Sylar's advantage, too. But Mohinder would not have enough of an impact on Nathan Petrelli. No, it would have to be someone Nathan Petrelli really wanted to see, would be desperate to see. It would have to be someone Nathan Petrelli had not seen for a while.

Due to the little waitress in Texas, Sylar had an eidetic memory. He didn't have to look at the photos that stood around, those photos the public relations people had tried in vain to get rid of in their ongoing effort to disassociate their employer from a rumoured terrorist. Sylar gave up his latest disguise, Petrelli's former campaign manager, and reconstructed the features he recalled all too clearly, bit for bit. Then he folded them into the expressions he remembered. The first one was panicked, but that wouldn't do; angry would, but that might spoil the surprise a little. Sad, he finally decided. Yes. Sad, and perhaps somewhat longing, longing for a lost past.

Having rearranged his features to his satisfaction, Sylar entered the study where the soon to be Vice President was busy brooding over the latest reports of terrorist activities in California and Nevada. Petrelli looked up, and Sylar, who had assumed he had by now studied every expression the man was capable of having, enough to make his imitation flawless, was surprised and delighted to find out there were a few more. It proved he had made the correct choice for the final blow.

There was the expected surprise, of course, and some disbelief; but there was also something so strong that it melted all the careful, waxen man-of-strength square-jawed blandness Sylar was familiar with away. What remained was a mixture of pain and joy that was bereft of any moderation, and Sylar, who had made it his business to study this man, felt for a brief moment absurdly betrayed, as if Nathan Petrelli had deliberately holding out on him.

Well. It just proved Sylar had made the right choice to wrap his gift in, that last gift Petrelli would ever receive. Time to properly thank him for his part in helping Sylar to fulfill his destiny. Then there would be another expression, a last one, when dear old Nathan realized what his visitor had really come for.

But first, this. "Nathan," said Sylar, and decided that since on the few occasions he had heard him speak, Peter Petrelli always had an undertone of confusion in his voice, this would do here as well.

It seemed his brother agreed. When Nathan replied, that rasping voice was a bit deeper than usual; something to use in the future. After all, the leader of the free world should sound a bit more… committed than Nathan Petrelli usually did.

"Peter," he said. "Pete."

If Sylar ever did feel the need to catch up with the younger Petrelli, he'd know exactly how to thank Peter as well.