Yes, the final installment! Hope you like! Please leave a review!!
It had been enough years that finally Sylar had stopped counting. He still felt his internal clock ticking at the base of his throat, but if he distracted himself sufficiently, with work at the Wall, tinkering on watches, or reading, it would fade into the background.
As he sat in the book room, alone, he absently rubbed his thumb against a callous on his palm. His eyes traced the familiar words, and his lips moved as he mouthed them, still absorbing their full meaning after all this time.
"Vainly he strove to rise; and Evangeline,
Kneeling beside him,
Kissed his dying lips, and laid his head on her bosom.
Sweet was the light of his eyes…"
He sighed, closed his eyes and leaned his head back. He couldn't read any further. His neck was stiff, and his shoulders were sore. Besides which, he hated this part.
He opened his eyes and glanced over the top of the book at Peter's empty arm chair. Peter hadn't come back from the roof yet. Sylar looked out the window. It was very dark, and the wind moaned against the outside walls. He set his book down on his desk, got up and left the room.
He trotted up the stairs in the dark—he had no need of a light. He had memorized the way a long time ago.
Sylar opened the heavy metal door and winced as the cold wind bit him. He had forgotten his coat. He stepped out onto the roof, leaving the door open behind him and stuffing his hands in his pockets.
Peter sat in his spot, perched on the edge of the roof, gazing out over the empty city by the pale light of the moon.
"Aren't you cold?" Sylar asked, coming to a stop near the air conditioning unit.
"It's not cold. It's your imagination," Peter said without looking at him, his gaze far away. But the usual fervor was gone from his voice. Sylar knew why. He knew Peter came up here to think about Nathan, and his other family and friends he had left behind. He came here to grieve. And it had always been Sylar's job to bring him up out of that.
"Yeah, I know," Sylar let out a breath. "But it's getting late and I don't like being in that room by myself for hours on end."
"Why?" Peter scoffed. "Scared of the dark?"
"You know I am," Sylar answered right back. Peter chuckled. Sylar smirked, then shook his head.
"No, I'm just deadly bored. I just read Evangeline through for the hundred and fifteenth time."
Peter met his eyes and frowned.
Sylar's throat caught. He didn't know why, but every time Peter saw him with that book, or Sylar mentioned it, Peter would get this look in his eye like…
Like he knew why Sylar read it. But he couldn't. It was impossible. Sylar had never come close to telling him. And yet there that look was again, penetrating straight through him.
"Yeah, Evangeline," Sylar managed. "The poor book is about to fall apart—I've been too abusive."
Peter's gaze drifted off again.
"Okay," he sighed. "I'll come down in a minute."
Sylar nodded, turning back to the door. Then he hesitated, and faced the other man again. The moonlight lit up Peter and the cityscape, and for some reason, tonight, the scene didn't look so desolate.
"I don't think I've said this before, Peter," Sylar said quietly. "But I should have." He took a deep breath. "Thanks for coming after me. I know, I know—it wasn't for my sake," Sylar held up a hand as Peter's head turned. Sylar studied his own shoes. "But the very fact that you came here says something. I mean, not everybody would be brave enough to jump straight into this basket case." He gave a weak smile and tapped his temple. Peter just waited. Sylar cleared his throat. "What I mean is…Somehow, despite everything I did, you still believed deep down that I would want to get out of here with you, and that I would go save Emma. No one's ever had that kind of faith in me." Sylar watched as Peter ducked his head and gazed steadfastly out over the city. Sylar went on.
"Parkman was right—those first three years were the epitome of my worst fear. But you saved me from that, Peter." Sylar watched him steadily. "I was right when I said this isn't exactly heaven for either of us. But it isn't a nightmare anymore, either."
Peter didn't answer. Sylar didn't expect him to. And so, as silence fell again, Sylar returned to the room of books. And in a few minutes, he heard footsteps coming down the stairs.
Peter didn't feel like hammering today. He just didn't. He told Sylar to go on ahead, which he did. Peter kicked back in his chair and rubbed a hand over his face. The sun shone in through the window. He felt like he was getting a headache.
You are not getting a headache…he told himself weakly. Frustrated, he kicked a stack of books over. The leather Bible thudded to the floor. Peter sucked in his breath through his teeth and quickly snatched it up, glad Sylar had not seen that.
Peter had begun reading it a few months ago, but had neglected it lately. Guilty about kicking it onto the floor, he flipped it open to a random place—the beginning of the book of Luke.
For a long while, that kept him absorbed—as did Sylar's notes, which filled the margins. The apostle Peter's denial of Christ and his retreat from the side of his master stunned Peter Petrelli for a while, and by the time he reached Jesus' sentencing, Peter was completely immersed, and ached behind his sternum.
And then he came across the verse. The verse that branded itself on his mind as soon as he read it:
"When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals—one to his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.'"
Peter went completely still as the hammers rang through his mind.
Thud. Thud. Thud.
The heavy hammer used in the execution couldn't have sounded too different from the ones they used on the Wall. But those struck through the flesh and bone of Jesus' hands and feet…
And he forgave them.
Peter's eyes clouded up and he choked, trying to get past that part. A portion in the next column caught his eye. He frowned at it. Sylar had underlined it in green pen, and put two stars by it. Curious, Peter quickly read.
"One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: 'Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!' But the other criminal rebuked him. 'Don't you fear God,' he said. 'since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.' Then he said, 'Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.' Jesus answered him, 'I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.'"
Peter let his air out slowly. Something had now caught within his chest and would not dislodge. In fact, even as he sat there, the pressure built. He stood up, put the Bible on the desk, and turned to leave.
His foot caught the edge of a book and sent it sprawling. Its pages cracked loose and splayed out all over the floor like spilled water. Peter groaned and ran his hands through his hair. Sylar's copy of Pillars of the Earth had finally given up the ghost.
The hook in Peter's chest remained. But as his mind caught hold of an old memory, and his thoughts traveled down the ensuing path, the pressure became a driving force. He had planned to go down and beat against that Wall. Instead, he began digging through the cluttered room.
It took him almost all day. His neck cramped and his back hurt from lifting books and filing through papers, but he finally found it as night fell. He sighed in satisfaction, ran his hand through his hair, then took up his newfound prize and, absently whistling the tune to "When the Boys Come Rolling Home," headed out to find some newsprint with which to wrap it.
Peter strode out into the night and turned down the familiar alley. A light from a work lamp glowed against the face of the stoic Wall. But the chilly night was silent. Sylar was not working. Instead, he sat before the Wall, arms wrapped around his knees, looking up at the crude, stone edifice that had consumed both of their lives for so long.
Peter could sense Sylar's vulnerable sadness. The man never experienced mild emotions—any of them could be overpowering. Right now, Peter felt Sylar's melancholy sweep through the space like waves in the Baltic sea. Switching his wrapped prize to his right hand, Peter came up behind him and tapped Sylar's right shoulder with it.
Sylar's head jerked up, and Peter came around him and tossed the package into his lap. Sylar's dark eyes met his, surprised.
"Happy birthday," Peter greeted him. Sylar frowned, confused.
"It's not my birthday," he said, but he began to open the package anyway, revealing a newer, much less-worn copy of Pillars of the Earth.
"Yeah. I know," Peter admitted, nearing the Wall but facing him. "You just wore out your other copy, and I saw that one digging around." The pressure in Peter's chest was back. He glanced down briefly, then took a breath as he tried to form the words he had come here to say. "I appreciate you…being patient with me. Keeping me sane."
Sylar looked at him. The sadness remained, but surprise melted into it.
"That's very kind of you, Peter. Thank you."
Sylar looked so raw right then, his frazzled sentiments reflecting Peter's so exactly, that Peter could think of nothing more to say. For a lack of anything better, he moved and picked up a hammer.
Sylar's brow twitched, and he set the book aside.
"You wanna know something weird?" He stood up, his bearing child-like again. "Every time you pick that thing up, I think you're gonna hit me with it, really hard."
Peter chuckled. Okay…so they were finally going to confront this after all. This could get interesting. But Peter wasn't afraid of a confrontation with Sylar. Not anymore.
"That is weird," he said, straight-toned. "Because every time I pick it up I feel like I'm gonna hit you with it too. Really hard."
Sylar looked at him earnestly.
Peter sighed. Even if he wasn't afraid, he didn't relish having this conversation. But one look at Sylar told him it was unavoidable now. Perhaps that was the reason Sylar had been sitting out here, staring at the Wall. Peter looked right at him, tired, and, for the first time, was honest without being angry.
"Because you are who you are."
Sylar's stark look sharpened.
"I wish I could accept your apologies," Peter confessed. "But if I forgive you, then I'm not doing right by him."
"Nathan," Sylar said, and the name lifted into the air. His brow furrowed. "If you let go of your anger, you're afraid you'll lose him forever?"
Peter didn't answer. But something began churning in his heart, something old and stiff and resentful of being ignored. Sylar advanced a few steps, his expression suddenly pierced by painful realization.
"So you've held onto it this entire time?"
"I feel it slipping away," Peter admitted. "But then I look at you…I see you killing him."
Sylar blinked, stunned. And then Peter wearily drove the rusty nail into the coffin.
"You took my brother away from me." He hefted the hammer, turned on the Wall, and struck it as hard as he could.
Sylar came up behind him, sudden urgency in his voice.
"We've been here for I don't know how many years. Together."
Peter didn't reply. He kept hammering, even as Sylar came up close to his left side.
"I've changed—I've repented—I'm never gonna hurt anyone, ever again," Sylar insisted, his tone making the churning in Peter's heart build to a painful strain. Peter swung the hammer over his shoulder, prepared to strike again.
And revelation flashed across Sylar's face. It was as if a bright light had suddenly glared through their dim alley.
"And all this time," Sylar mused. "You were afraid to let me out?"
Peter's strength staggered.
That was it. For heaven's sake, that was it. His heartbeat wavered as he struggled to bring the hammer back up. But his hands shook.
Sylar was right.
The Wall belonged to Peter.
He struck the bricks again, and the blow shivered up his arms.
"Peter!" Sylar cried, and stepped in front of the hammer. Peter pulled his next strike and lowered the hammer. Sylar's gaze captured him. His voice was deep, low and steady.
"I'm not that guy anymore Peter. You know that."
Peter had to look down. His throat threatened to close as his heart rebelled against his reason.
"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."
And he looked up at Sylar again. Sylar did not shy away.
Gabriel did not shy away.
Because Peter could not escape reality. He had been trying to ignore it all these years, trying to hold on to his hatred and rage with a death grip, despite any changes Sylar underwent. But it was impossible now. Peter could do a lot of things. But he could not lie to himself. Not when the truth was staring at him.
Slowly, Peter nodded.
"I know," he murmured, the words breaking through his chest and filling him with sorrow. "I know you're not." He bowed his head as a new, aching wave of grief swept through him.
He's right, brother. You know it as well as I do.
Goodbye, Nathan. I love you.
Peter felt Gabriel watching him, unsure if Peter really meant what he said. Peter couldn't bring himself to speak anymore. And so he did the only thing he could think of—the action that had, unwittingly, been displaying his true faith in Gabriel for five years. He swung his hammer, fast and true, and struck the same place as before.
The sound snapped through the alley. And a large chunk of brick broke away from the Wall.
They both stared, frozen.
Peter's heart leaped into his throat. Gabriel's widened eyes flew to his.
Gabriel dove for a hammer.
Arms shaking, but gaining strength, Peter brought the heavy hammer down once more on the cracked brick. He felt it give beneath him, felt other pieces shatter.
Gabriel quickly took his place beside Peter—the place he had occupied thousands of times—and together they struck with rapid precision, as the Wall began to break away.
Thud. Thud. Thud…
And then a light. A narrow, piercing white light.
Thank you, thank you. :D My thoughts about the books they read are below. Oh, and if you're interested in a sequel, drop me a note about it and I'll see what can be done. ;)
-First book: Don Quixote by Cervantes. Application: Peter coming after Sylar so that he might save the world. To everyone else, this seems like insanity (Quixotic, I believe is the word), but in the end, it is a noble action, and he proves himself a hero.
-Second book: The Odyssey of Homer. Application: Sylar, Peter and Nathan. Sylar and Peter because they struggle through endless and seemingly insurmountable troubles brought on by powers greater than their own as they try to get home. They are imprisoned, and their mettle is tested, but in the end, they win out. Nathan, because he was a lot like Odysseus.
-Third book: Evangeline, by Longfellow. Application: Sylar, and his relationship with Claire. He feels they are meant to be together, but circumstances, bad choices, and sometimes accidents have kept them apart…and they may be apart until it is too late to salvage happiness.
-Fourth book: A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. Application: Nathan. He fought the good fight, went up against a great foe, and sacrificed his life for the people he loved. Also Sylar: he fears that even if he has a change of heart and becomes a hero, he will not have a happy ending.
Fifth book: Moby Dick by Herman Melville. Application: Sylar is Captain Ahab, spiraling toward certain destruction…but for Peter.