Sequel to PURGATORY. What happens when an unstoppable force meets and immovable object? One of them must yield. Keeping step with a fairytale, this is the story of Sylar's redemption in the eyes of the one who matters most, with the help of Peter, Emma, and the threat of certain death. NO SLASH
This is a sequel to either "Purgatory", "Brave New World," or both. The fairytale text is by Andrew Lang, 1889. Claire's pieces will be in first person, the others in third.
Latin for "Penance."
"An act of self-abasement, mortification, or devotion performed to show sorrow or repentance for sin."
"I'm not exactly Prince Charming. More like…Beauty and the Beast."
"Yeah, well, the last time I checked," Peter said, kicking back in the chair again. "That story didn't exactly end with 'And the Beast lived miserably by himself ever after."
Sylar said nothing for a long moment.
"Yes," he finally murmured. "You're right."
Peter stood next to Gabriel. Their shoulders almost touched. No alarm registered in Peter's mind. In fact, he barely noticed Gabriel was there. But he would be disconcerted if he wasn't there—just as he would be if he glanced down on a sunny day to discover his shadow had vanished.
Their feet were planted on worn grass, their eyes cast upward to watch the distant Ferris Wheel that blazed colorfully against the backdrop of the dark sky. Neither one moved as a golden-haired girl leaped from the height of it and fell to the earth with a thud. Peter glanced at Gabriel. His pale face looked almost proud, his black eyes glinting.
Through the crowd of panicked reporters and the flashes of camera bulbs, the duo watched the girl pick herself up from the ground, relocate her right shoulder, and dust the dead grass off herself. Then she advanced on the frenzied paparazzi, and began speaking to them with the poise of a queen.
"You wanna go talk to her?" Peter asked.
Gabriel's head whipped around.
Peter turned to him. Gabriel's look of pride was gone, replaced by one of fear. Peter smirked.
"She isn't going to eat you."
"Right," Gabriel's voice cracked. "Forgive me if that isn't comforting."
"Better now than later," Peter assured him. "Before you have time to get worked up about it, and before she and her dad have time to hear rumors about you."
Gabriel swallowed hard, but nodded. Peter slapped his arm, giving a crooked smile.
"Come on. I'll introduce you."
"She's already met me," Gabriel protested weakly. Peter shook his head once.
"No, she hasn't."
Once upon a time,
in a far-off country,
There lived a merchant who was enormously rich.
As he had six sons and six daughters, however…
He did not find he had a penny too much.
But misfortunes befell them.
One day, their house caught fire and speedily burned to the ground…
The father suddenly lost every ship he had upon the sea,
Either by dint of pirates, shipwreck or fire…
And at last from great wealth he fell into direst poverty.
So nothing was left for them but to take their departure to the cottage,
Which stood in the midst of a dark forest.
Roughly clothed, and living in the simplest way,
The girls regretted unceasingly the luxuries and amusements of their former life…
Only the youngest daughter tried to be brave and cheerful…
But she was really far prettier and cleverer than they were.
Indeed, she was so lovely she was always called
I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I mean, who would? I hadn't even had dreams as far-fetched as this. But I'd barely gotten halfway through all the reporters' questions when I saw them coming toward me from across the abandoned carnival grounds.
Two men. They were dressed in black, and they walked in stride with each other. One man was taller than the other. They both had dark hair and dark eyes. I recognized them instantly.
One was Peter Petrelli, my young uncle, whose determined face I had not seen since he almost got himself shot in a cubicle a little while ago. I loved him fiercely.
The other was the monster that had haunted my nightmares for years. His voice came out of the silence when I was alone in my room. I looked for his shadow when I walked at night. Any mention of his name sent searing pain straight through my head, and sickness plunging into my gut.
And yet Peter was walking beside him, comfortable and purposeful. Straight at me.
I could not react. I could not breathe.
I just froze there, staring.
Dad swore from behind me, and grabbed my shoulder. The reporters went silent. Peter and Sylar halted behind the group with the cameras. Peter looked calm. Something flashed across Sylar's black eyes. He took a step behind Peter.
"That's enough questions for right now," Dad said over my head, voice booming. I sensed that the reporters would have argued under normal circumstances, but the looks on our faces must have been a glaring signal that something was not right. And so they slowly drifted away, curious, but probably still shaken enough about what I'd just done that they were willing to leave.
And finally, the barrier that they had created that blocked Peter and Sylar from Dad and me was gone. Silence fell.
My eyes locked with Sylar's. His expression was unreadable—but his black gaze plunged straight into my heart.
"Peter," Dad said, as if he was talking to someone who held a loaded gun. "What is this?"
Peter cleared his throat and glanced back at Sylar. Sylar finally broke contact with me and looked at Peter, shifting his weight.
"Noah, Claire…" Peter said, stepping to the side of Sylar and gesturing to him. "This is Gabriel."
Sylar looked at me again. The skin tightened around his eyes, and he gave me a feeble smile. A glance at my dad made him turn his eyes to the ground.
"Gabriel." The disbelieving sarcasm in my dad's voice was unmistakable. I could do nothing but gape. Peter nodded firmly at Dad.
Silence. Dad's grip tightened on my shoulder.
"What is he doing here?" he demanded.
"He just saved all those people…and Emma," Peter said, glancing behind him. I forced my eyes to focus beyond Sylar to where a young, blonde lady who waited by the base of a motionless ride. She saw Peter turn, and began to walk toward us. But like gravity, my eyes were pulled back to Sylar, who watched me still.
"Oh, and how did he do that?" My dad was not giving an inch.
"Samuel was using Emma to call people here, so that he could open the earth and kill them all. That's her power—to use music to call people," Peter told him, standing closer to Sylar. Sylar's eyes flickered downward again. Peter went on. "Doyle was forcing Emma to play the cello to lure them here. Sylar stopped him."
"And what did you do?" I finally said through my teeth. "Slice his head open? Or cut his throat?"
Sylar blinked. When he spoke, his voice was unsteady.
"No, I…I tied him between two metal poles and secured him with a string of lights." His eyes darted between mine and my dad's. "I used the electrical surges to disable his power. He's…" he pointed behind him. "…in one of the tents back there."
I frowned deeply. Something was so off balance. My gut churned and my head felt light, but I couldn't figure out what it was. I had memorized Sylar's face a long time ago—unconsciously but irrevocably—his heavy eyebrows, prominent nose, delicate mouth and limitless black eyes, but as I saw him now, I didn't recognize him. The shadows had gone around his eyes—they didn't seem hooded, or as dark, or…
My thoughts thudded to a stop. I knew why I was confused. It was because Sylar was standing next to Peter in the exact way Nathan always had.
Motion penetrated the haze when Emma, a plain-looking lady about Peter's age who had pretty eyes, soft features and blonde hair, came up behind the two men. But the wary look she gave was to me and Dad—she settled just behind Sylar's shoulder, like an uncertain family cat beside the family dog. He glanced at her. They smiled at each other. I almost fell over.
"Claire, Noah, this is Emma," Peter said. Then he leaned around Sylar so she could see his face. "Emma, this is my niece Claire, and her step-dad, Noah Bennet."
"Nice to meet you," Emma said, extending her right hand to me and keeping her left in her pocket. I recognized instantly that she was deaf, by the manner of her speech, but I saw that her eyes had been keen and quick when Peter spoke—she probably could read lips. I limply shook her hand. Dad just nodded at her. And then Peter lifted his head and looked past Dad and me.
"Hiro, Ando, this is Emma and Gabriel."
Rustling issued from behind me, and I turned to see Hiro, followed closely by an uncertain Ando, creep out from behind a tall shrub. They came up to stand beside Dad. Hiro's eyes narrowed at Sylar.
"Why is the Brain Man here?" His voice was low and dangerous.
Peter sighed and ran his hand through his hair, looking at all of us. It was only then that I realized how weary he appeared, as if he had not slept in weeks.
"Look, Gabriel and I are gonna go to my place, eat and crash, so why doesn't everybody come along and we can tell you what's been happening, and I can fix Emma's hand, okay?"
Sylar turned to him sharply.
"I don't want to be an imposition."
Peter gave him an indignant look.
"An imposition? What are you talking about?"
Sylar's eyebrows went up.
"I just thought, after the past five—"
"Heck no, I've got that whole huge—"
"Yes, you do have that one empty room. If you just gave me a pillow, I'd be—"
"Dude, I'm not gonna let you sleep on the hard floor. I've got an air mattress."
"Peter?" I cut in, my voice shaking, tears burning the edges of my eyes. I felt like the ground was crumbling out from beneath my feet.
Peter stopped and regarded me. Then, before I could react, he had stepped forward and wrapped me up in a hug. Dad reflexively let go of me. And Peter's arms tightened around me and he leaned his head down onto my shoulder—as if he hadn't seen me in years.
"I have so much to tell you, Claire," he murmured. "It's okay. I'm right here." He backed up and put his hands on my shoulders, his bright eyes capturing mine. "But we need to get out of here. Will you come with me so I can tell you?"
"Peter," Dad cautioned, but Peter ignored him. So did I. I swallowed my tears and nodded. Glancing past Peter, I saw Sylar give me a soft look. I went cold. Peter took my arm and guided me out of the park, with Dad, Hiro, Ando, Emma…and Sylar trailing behind.
TO BE CONTINUED