Title: These, And All My Sins

Rating: T

Author: PinkFreud

Disclaimer: I don't own Heroes.

Dedication: For Rachel the Amazing, and for E.

It feels like years. The illusion wears heavily, so heavily that reality becomes irrelevant. But isn't it always? The wall is seemingly impenetrable, so vast and opposing; it looms mockingly, taunting Peter, coaxing him into rage and despair. But at the same time, it is a friend, a comfort. This is something for him to do every irrelevant hour of each blurry, gray fading day and year. To chip away aimlessly, to channel all of his pent-up sorrow and aggression into a task, pitting himself against this futile goal, this friend and enemy that he spends his immeasurable time with.

Sylar is watching him, as always, as difficult to understand as this wall, as hard and complex and impossible an entity to overcome. He is repentant, he sits like a small boy sometimes, doing nothing but stare pensively into space, a contrite man-child being punished, made to sit in the corner and contemplate his sins.

''Forgive us our trespasses…''

They have all sinned. All they know is sin, whether intended or through poor judgment or misguided intent. Sylar, or Gabriel, or whoever this strange, gloomy dark person sitting and staring and atoning continuously really is, wants to be forgiven. Peter wants to be forgiven more. He wants to be forgiven for loving, loving so much that he has hurt others, hurt himself. He loves every ghost that haunts him, every life he couldn't save. Sylar mourns for every life he took, and his ghosts, like Peter's ghosts, will never fade.

''As we forgive those who trespass against us…''

Peter feels like he is betraying his ghosts. Because every time he looks at Sylar, he feels a great mix of pity and softness and even something else, something infinitely more dangerous. There is an awful beauty in Sylar, not the former deadly, menacing loveliness of a predator stalking his prey, but a loneliness and depth that creates shadows around him and gives his eyes a soft and haunted look, like a weathered statue in a graveyard.

Peter chips away at the wall, no progress made, as usual. The empty city echoes. He wants to scream. From where he is sitting, Sylar suddenly says: ''Your name fits you.''

Peter turns around. ''What?'' he asks tiredly. He doesn't want to talk to Sylar. But he cannot stand the overly loud echoes in the quiet every time he hits the wall again and again.

''Your name,'' repeats Sylar, drawing his knees up to his chest, once again childlike and atoning, ''It's a Biblical name.''

''Yeah, I guess, whatever,'' says Peter, shrugging and wanting to turn away again, but there is an eager look in Sylar's eyes that makes him stay where he is. Sylar seems to be on the verge of some great revelation. ''Because you're full of guilt,'' he explains to Peter in a gentle way.

Peter won't deny this. But he does say: ''What does that have to do with my name?''

''Because,'' Sylar tells him slowly, ''In the Bible, Peter was the best friend of Christ. But when it mattered, he said he didn't know him at all. And then he felt so guilty afterward that…''

''Yeah, yeah, he felt so guilty about the whole thing that he was crucified upside down,'' Peter interrupts him, annoyed. ''I went to Sunday school too, Gabriel.''

And there it is. Peter is instantly regretful for calling Sylar by his real name, instantly guilty, though he does not really know why. But he says, then, because they are on the subject, ''I don't think names really matter. I think they can be random or stupid. I mean, your mother named you Gabriel, didn't she? You think that name fits you? If she'd named you Lucifer, I'd say maybe you had a point.'' Peter tries to grin, slightly, trying for whatever reason to assure Sylar that he was only joking, or at least half-joking.

Sylar looks at the ground, and Peter feels the nagging shadow of guilt wrap around him like a cold blanket.

''Gabriel was a messenger,'' mutters Sylar, still looking at the ground.

''All angels are, aren't they?'' replies Peter quietly, almost to himself. He turns once again to stare at the wall.

''He was also a destroyer,'' Sylar continues, raising his head slightly to stare at Peter's back. ''Gabriel is supposed to be the angel that sounds the call to bring forth Judgment Day.''

Peter wonders why Sylar has suddenly taken such an interest in theology. But then he supposes that it goes hand in hand with their situation: sin and forgiveness, destruction and creation, good and evil. And then he thinks harder and realizes that this is all so despairingly accurate: Peter, the man full of guilt, overcome with grief for the loss of his best friend, his brother; Noah, the collector, trying to gather together ones that could be saved from a terrible storm on the way; Isaac, a sacrifice; Samuel, a mad prophet in the wilderness; and Gabriel, the unlikely angel who rained destruction down and opened the floodgates letting loose the Apocalypse.

Peter lets out a breath that he didn't even know he'd been holding. He's thinking about the angel Gabriel. In his mind's eye, Gabriel is not an enormous, shining being with wings, he is sadder, darker, low to the ground, crying while fire and brimstone showers down over the earth.

''Maybe he didn't want to do it, you know?'' Says Peter. ''Maybe he just…had to. Maybe that was his purpose, as an angel.'' He turns around once more, and is sickened to see that there are tears on Sylar's face.

''To be a killer? A destroyer? That's a hell of a great purpose. To kill because it's some kind of a divine master plan?'' Sylar covers his face with his hands. He does not want to look at anything, anymore. He's seen enough fire and brimstone. He understands wrath and sin, but wants no part of them. He no longer wants to be the messenger.

Peter walks to where Sylar is crouched and weeping, then kneels down beside him. Almost as if acting of their own free will, his arms go around the crying dark angel. Sylar leans against Peter, clutching at his shirt, trying, it seems, to pull him closer, to beg for forgiveness or comfort or compassion.

There are ghosts everywhere still, echoing, surrounding them both. ''Deliver us…''

The denier and the destroyer. The saint and the angel.

Sylar is calmer, now. He leans his head into Peter's shoulder, his lips so close beside his neck that Peter can feel every breath Sylar takes, warm air against his skin. He doesn't want this to feel as comforting as it does, but he allows it to be. He allows his arms to tighten around Sylar, around Gabriel, and Peter realizes that he is learning something about forgiveness. He is learning that really he and Sylar want the exact same thing.

Prophets wandering through the desert, saints, men building ships to salvage humanity, angels, all wanting an answer, playing their roles, overcome with guilt and confusion, at times pitted against each other, waiting for the flood and the fire and the brimstone, wondering who will be saved, in the end.

It's quiet now, in the shadowy, empty city. It looks here like the flood has already come and gone, all washed away except for two men, holding each other, and this wall. There are no echoes left. The men and the wall are silent.