Set immediately following "Brother's Keeper" and spoilers through that entire episode.

Peter came out and leaned against the door to the balcony. "Nathan this uh… this idea, this thought, that you're uh…"

"Sylar?" Nathan said bitterly into the pause.

Pete exhaled roughly. "Yeah."

Nathan sat at the small table, hands in front of him, looking slumped and defeated. "Change a voice, change a face. Still him underneath."

Peter ran his hand over his face. What did all of this mean? It was ridiculous and his first instinct remained his strongest: that was Nathan, not Sylar, and any idiocy to the contrary was just lies. It was hardest to hear it coming from Nathan himself.

Nathan turned his hands over. "These hands have killed dozens of people, Pete. Friends of ours. Whoever Nathan Petrelli was is gone now. Just some random thoughts in a mass murderer's head." His expression clouded with self-loathing.

Peter shook himself. This was ridiculous! "K, look, assuming that I believe any of that…" Pete shrugged, but his voice became uneven and heavy with emotion as his heart hiccupped at the possibility that Nathan was really dead. He grasped at a straw. "What would it matter? I mean, didn't Matt say that he forced Sylar out?"

Nathan smirked darkly at him. "You really think Matt could purge every sick thought from that head?" Nathan looked up and then down. "To the rest of the world, I'm Nathan Petrelli, Pete, but every time you look at me," Nathan looked at Peter and narrowed his eyes slightly, "the way you're lookin' at me right now, you're gonna see Sylar."

Peter looked straight at Nathan with his eyes a bit too wide, expression neutral.

Nathan said, "Tell me I'm wrong." Peter didn't say anything, only moving his head a little. "Tell me I'm wrong, Pete," Nathan said softly.

After a painfully long pause, Peter walked to the other man. What was this person in front of him? Nathan? Sylar? Something else, some unwholesome, power-spawned combination? He didn't know, but he kneeled next to what his heart said was his brother, despite the confusion of his brain. "Nathan… right now, I see my brother. I see Nathan Petrelli, my big brother, who's always been there for me." Pete voice caught a little. "Maybe tomorrow I'll see someone else." Pete glanced away and exhaled, then looked back at Nathan, who was watching him curiously, anguished. "But whoever else that is, I'm always going to see my brother in you." Pete looked down at Nathan's hands and reached out to take one in his. "Mom said… that Sylar was my brother. I know… it wasn't true then. But maybe this is what she saw. I've seen Sylar… Gabriel… be a good man. So even if…" Pete shook his head, "if you're not always Nathan…" Pete cocked his head to one side and looked away, his eyes tearing as his heart seemed to finally realize his brother, or at least a part of him, was gone.

Nathan turned and hugged Peter to him, gently at first and then more tightly, as if he was hanging onto the most important thing in the world. "I'm so sorry, Peter. I am so sorry." It was Nathan's voice, but with Sylar's inflection and intonation. Peter didn't miss the difference, but he didn't know what to do about it. What did it mean? The man even smelled like Nathan. The younger brother breathed unevenly, but he didn't sob. Maybe Nathan wasn't dead after all. He hugged Nathan back for a while and then stood, wiped his eyes and paced the balcony, trying to get his thoughts in order.

Nathan and Sylar watched him, heart in their shared throat. Nathan wanted to be the brother Peter wanted. He didn't want to hurt him by being Sylar. Sylar realized he'd done something awful and he'd done something wonderful. There was a chance, a tiny chance that he could keep the life his body had been living for the last two months. He'd always wanted to be special, but as Sylar, all he was, when it came down to it, was a killer. As Nathan, he was powerful and special and more importantly, he was special to people. Strangers knew and respected his name and he had a family who loved him. Loved him so much that they'd even accept an unstable psycho killer like himself if he just wore Nathan's face and didn't challenge their fantasy that he might be Nathan. If there was any chance he could keep that for himself… it would make life worth living.

"Nathan… listen, this is a lot to process." Peter gestured inside. "Let's get some sleep. We'll meet mom tomorrow and we'll deal with this… as a family."

Nathan blinked at him and nodded. Whatever Peter wanted - and meeting his mother was guaranteed to be annoying, but it had to be done and better sooner than later. Sylar snarled and frowned inside. He was losing Peter. He had to be. There was no point to this. He might as well end it. "Fine," he muttered and stalked inside. Peter frowned at the body language and followed him in. Halfway across the room, Nathan turned and froze, realizing Peter hadn't left. For the second time that day, he asked, "What are you doin?" This time it was Peter's turn to blink in surprise. "I was just going to surf the couch. Is that alright?" Nathan's posture, which had been tense and closed off, relaxed suddenly. He looked between the couch and Peter. "Yeah… that's great… I thought, I thought you were leaving." Leaving me, Sylar thought.

"No." Peter spoke slowly and carefully, realizing that Nathan wasn't understanding him as intuitively as his old brother had. "I just said that we'll deal with this together. Together. Until… unless you don't want to. But even then, you're my brother. Tomorrow we'll talk to mom." He waited a beat. "Okay?"

Nathan nodded. "Alright. Whatever you want, Pete." He walked into his room and closed the door softly. He had to get away from Peter before he screwed things up worse than they already were. He ran his hands across his face. Who was he? He had to be Sylar. Sylar, wearing Nathan Petrelli's face. And although it made sense, it was impossible to integrate. A part of himself was Nathan, or at least wanted to be Nathan so badly that he couldn't see himself as fully Sylar anymore. He'd curse Matt Parkman for that if it wasn't giving him a connection to something he wanted more badly than powers. Now he was not much better than when he'd been stuck in Parkman's head, but instead of being stuck in Parkman's, he was stuck in Nathan's and even Nathan was convinced that he, Nathan, was Sylar. He just couldn't or wouldn't give up his identity as Peter's brother to take up the mantle of being a serial killer. It was wrong. It was the wrong thing to do. It would hurt Peter too much. It would hurt himself too much. He didn't want to be Sylar! And so Sylar was a prisoner, or at least a bystander again, but this time in his own mind. He laid on the bed and listened to the music of his watch ticking away, almost, but not perfectly, synchronized with Peter's watch.


Neither of them slept much. They were both quiet and distant the next morning. Even though (and perhaps because) they'd said hardly a word to each other, Peter stopped Nathan at the door and hugged him awkwardly. When Nathan didn't hug him back, he cut it short and they headed out to the Petrelli residence.

Angela had not expected them. She chided them for not calling first and acted like everything was very normal between them. She hurried around with the servant to get brunch ready, for neither of them had felt like eating earlier. Sylar stood at the back of the room and fumed. This was the woman who had done… this thing to him. He wasn't sure whether to thank her or to kill her, but in any case he was angry at her presumption for doing it in the first place. Neither Nathan nor Sylar liked to be manipulated. With his mother, Nathan largely expected it, and while he resented it, that was as far as it went. Sylar was enraged. No one treated him like that and lived. So he glowered at her whenever she came into his line of sight.

Angela caught the hint, but she mistook the cause. She gave Peter a pointed look and all he said was, "He's not feeling like himself today." "Mm-hmm?" Angela answered. Then Peter volunteered to help with setting out the dishes, so she didn't get a chance to find out what he meant. Nathan himself had been saying the same thing to her for nearly two weeks. As Nathan and Peter seated themselves, Angela served Peter and then Nathan. She smiled thinly at him and said, "Well Nathan, how was your vacation?"

"Oh, it was just great!" He answered snidely, "I did just what you said. Found a fast woman with a young car and had a blast." He paused a moment, touching the tines of his fork to his plate. "Or, maybe it was the other way around. My memory hasn't been the best recently." It was almost not Nathan's voice at all. The inflection, the word choice, the tone was all Sylar. Angela blanched. Peter, eyes wide, cleared his throat. "Um, uh, this is a great salad, mom. Thanks for having us on such short notice."

Angela took a half step back from Nathan's side and said, "Of course, Peter. A mother should always take care of her sons."

Nathan put down his fork and turned to look directly at her, snarling, "Like you took care of me?!?" Angela looked at him, shocked. Nathan continued, still in Sylar's voice. "I'm dead." He jerked his head at Peter. "He knows it. You know it."

Peter tried to interrupt, "Nathan…" But Nathan turned to him and said levelly, "Guess again." He wasn't Nathan. He couldn't be Nathan. Not for what he was about to do to Angela Petrelli. What she deserved.

Angela breathed, "Nathan, oh god!" She put her hand over the bread knife as she stood next to Nathan's seat at the table. Sylar saw the motion and put his hand on the knife as well and looked up at Angela. "Sylar's in there with you, isn't he?" she gasped. Peter got up and slowly moved behind his mother, glancing at the knife that neither of them had quite grasped.

Almost yelling, Nathan said, "You put him there!"

"This wasn't supposed to happen…" she faltered. Peter took her shoulder with one hand and with the other he pulled out her chair. She sank into it heavily as Sylar stood up in front of her, intending to end her, but hesitating because he wasn't sure how to get Peter out of the way for long enough to do the deed to his satisfaction. Before he could come to a decision, Angela buried her face in her hands and sobbed, "I loved Nathan! I just… I couldn't see him gone. I couldn't!" Sylar hesitated, remembering his mother crying and fearing him, not accepting him. Whatever Angela had done, she had accepted her son for what he was. Nathan exploited the moment and fought with Sylar for control. The man stood stock still for the moment, fingers twitching slightly.

Peter knelt next to his mother like he'd knelt next to Nathan the night before. He held her hand and looked up at Nathan without judgment. He moved his head, pointing with his chin and eyes at the other side of their mother. Sylar blinked at him, unbelieving, but Nathan did as Peter suggested and knelt awkwardly on the other side. He didn't touch her. He didn't trust her. More importantly, he didn't trust himself. Sylar rebelled at being on his knees for her sake. Nathan told him to stuff it.

Peter stroked his mother's hand. "He knows. We went to Matt Parkman and he told us everything. But…" As he hesitated, Angela looked up at him with a tear-stained face. "It doesn't have to change anything." She blinked at him in confusion and looked at Nathan, who was kneeling silently next to her, staring fixedly at her knee. He wanted to put his hand on it and comfort her, but Sylar still wanted to kill her.

"It… it doesn't? But he's…"

"No, no." Peter cut her off. "He's Nathan. He's still Nathan. That's still Nathan in there."

Her voice hardening, she snapped, "Sylar is in there too!" Nathan looked up at both of them with a sullen, sour expression. Sylar didn't like the direction this was taking. Maybe he should just kill her quickly? Nathan struggled to remain in control.

Peter agreed with her to the surprise of both, "Yes, yes he is. But so's Nathan. Are you going to kill Nathan? Because you're going to have to, if you can't accept this. Anything you do to Sylar, you're doing to Nathan." He looked past his mother and locked eyes with Nathan. "That man is my brother." He looked back to Angela. "You're our mother. He's kneeling next to you. Look at him!" He looked back at her intensely and after a long pause, she turned her eyes to Nathan's. Peter held his breath. He hadn't missed any of the murderous looks Nathan had given her earlier and his current expression wasn't much of an improvement. But they had to reconcile. They were family, one way or another.

Angela looked into her son's face and tried to see Sylar there. She tried to see a stranger, a murderer, someone she hated and who hated her. But all she could see was the man she'd raised, the boy she'd loved, the babe she'd cradled. Nathan looked at her face and cold-cocked Sylar before he could twitch and ruin this. He swallowed nervously, looking back at his mother. "Ma?" he said with a very small voice. Would she still take him with this taint in him?

"Oh, Nathan!" She started sobbing all over again and threw her arms around him. Peter started breathing again and patted her on the back. It was going to be okay. He knew it. It was all going to be okay.