Title: Just Another Crack in The Wall
Rating: T, PG-13
Characters/Pairings: Peter/Sylar, cameos by various other characters
Words: around 5,500
Summary: The Wall Inception crack you've been waiting for!
Warnings: Slash kissing, brief mention of sex, zombies, mentions of torture, almost ceaseless pop-culture and internet meme references, heavy on the science fiction side of things. Not very well-beta'd. I ran out of steam on it, but at least it's finished and wraps up nicely.
Notes: Inspired by by hola_lola_soy and lornrocks on LJ, thanks to asmodesgold.
Peter swung the sledgehammer over and over into the wall and although it sounded like crack, none appeared. Maybe he just wasn't looking hard enough. He sighed. This metaphorical bullshit was much more annoying than the genre-blindness and the idiot ball he'd been forced to carry around for so long. He stopped and mopped at his sweating brow. At least he wasn't emo anymore, which was weird because now that Nathan had died, he actually had something to be depressed over. Oh well. There had to be a way out of here, because otherwise things were boring and if anything were true, it was that Peter Petrelli's life was not boring.
Of course, he'd said that to himself several metaphorical years ago and it hadn't done any good then either. Sylar walked up behind him, looking at the unblemished wall. "You know, I always thought a wall banger was when two people had really violent sex against a wall."
Peter gave him a long-suffering look. Sylar had initially been very quiet and distant, but as time passed, Peter had come to realize the man possessed a very dirty mind… and he'd begun to flirt with Peter a lot, which was disturbing on several levels, not least of which was that Peter appreciated it. "No," Peter said. "A wall banger is what we're in right now."
"Huh," Sylar said. He picked up one of the extra sledgehammers. "Well, I can't always tell my tropes apart, but I can sure as hell swing a sledgehammer." He joined Peter in slamming the heavy implement into the wall in rhythmic counterpoint, both of them sweating and grunting in a way that wasn't suggestive at all of something entirely different.
Peter walked up behind a mopey, introspective Sylar and dropped a wrapped book in his lap. "Happy birthday," Peter said, which was as much of a non-sequitor as almost everything else in this world, but it seemed like the right thing to say so he said it.
"It's not my birthday," Sylar answered, looking at the book in surprise. He began to unwrap it. Inside was another copy of his favorite book, the Diary of Marty Stu. "Thank you, Peter. You gave me a book! That's like clothes! You gave me a sock!"
"Uh… what?" Sometimes Sylar made no sense to Peter at all. Actually, a lot of the time he didn't. His knowledge of pop culture was a bit hard to take, but since they were in his head, the world worked according to Sylar's rules, including, at times, the dialogue.
"A sock! Haven't you ever read Harry Potter?"
Sylar told him, "You should. It's about a boy who never thought he'd be special, but then he finds out he is and he has all these magical abilities… just like you. Or me."
"What does a sock have to do with it? My mother used to steal socks all the time and I never did buy that weird story about her sister."
"Well, in the book, there are these people with magic who have been forced to serve the most powerful wizards and they aren't allowed to have anything of their own. If someone helps them out, then it makes them free." Sylar shrugged, "It's not a perfect analogy, but it works. And I have no idea what's going on with your mother. She's like the wicked witch of the west. Are you sure she doesn't melt in water?"
Peter snorted. "Yeah, I'm sure."
Sylar nodded. "Thank you for the book. Just think, all this time, we were trapped in here because you couldn't share anything with me, couldn't accept my apology. It was you that kept us here." He scrambled to his feet and shoved the book into his back pocket. He took up the other sledgehammer. "Not that I really minded, because if there's anyone I wanted to be trapped with forever, it's you."
"Um." There it was again – that constant flirting. Peter looked at his sledgehammer thoughtfully. This was the guy who killed his brother, after all. And a lot of other people.
Sylar told him, "You want to know something weird? Every time you pick that thing up, I think you're gonna hit me with it really hard."
Peter responded, "That is weird, because every time I pick it up, I feel like I'm gonna hit you with it too... really hard."
"Well… it's not like I don't deserve a good hammering."
Peter looked at him for a long moment. He could hit him and hang onto his anger, or he could let it slip away and just laugh at the joke. He smiled and for the first time, he let himself feel the humor. Nathan's death had been scripted. It wasn't really Sylar's fault. And anyway, if they'd really wanted Nathan alive they would have just used Claire's healing blood to restore him. Since they hadn't (stupid plotholes!), Peter laughed.
"There now. Was that so hard?" Sylar asked.
Peter smiled and shook his head, mumbling to himself, "It still feels really out of character." He swung the hammer against the wall. A big chunk of masonry chipped off, creating a small hole. Peter looked at Sylar with an amazed expression and Sylar grinned. Together, they slammed their tools into the hole until it widened and expanded and they felt a rush of joy and profound satisfaction as the last of the barriers fell before them in a spray of dust and flying brick bits.
As they worked, the silent, empty city behind them fell into darkness and before them shone a bright, bustling vista. With bricks scattered all around them, they stared out.
After a long pause, Peter said, "That's… New York."
"Yes. We're not out yet," Sylar said, looking intently at Peter. "We need to go deeper!" He took a single step forward, standing balanced on the shifting rubble. He reached back for Peter. "Come with me if you want to live."
Peter shook his head, looking back at the darkness behind him. "But… dreams within dreams are too unstable!"
Sylar answered, "You've already taken the red pill, Peter. It's down the rabbit hole with you."
Peter set his face in determination, because Sylar was right. They had to get out of here. It didn't matter if the world had shifted, because the only thing real in it was them. He reached out and took Sylar's hand, hanging onto his hammer with the other, just in case there was another wall in this new world. He let Sylar pull him through into the next chapter.
Peter and Sylar walked along the streets of New York. "How do we know this isn't real?" Peter asked.
Sylar pulled out the book Peter had given him and flipped it open. "Can you read anything in here?"
Peter squinted at it, but no matter how hard he looked, the writing was unintelligible. "No, it's garbled."
Sylar nodded. "That's because you're not a true Seeker of the Truth. When you are, you'll be able to read this. Or hit things with your hammer. That's your totem. This book is mine."
"What? I can hit things with my hammer now."
"Well, yeah, but you can't damage them. It's just like the other place, when you were trying to hit the wall."
Peter scowled at him. "I don't believe that."
"I want to believe," said Sylar wistfully. "But that's how it is, Scully."
Peter shook his head in denial and gestured at a store window. "Fine. I'll prove it. I'll conduct a scientific experiment." He lofted his hammer, swung it hard, and was floored to have it bounce off the glass much as it had from the brick wall.
"Damnit!" He tried hitting a few other things with a similar lack of effect. People veered around them, giving them a wide berth. Peter noticed that no one seemed bothered by his actions, but they were shooting suspicious, sometimes even hostile looks at Sylar. "What's going on?"
"I think these are manifestations of my subconscious. They don't like me. I've got a bad feeling about this." Sylar paled suddenly and grabbed Peter's arm, stepping behind him as if seeking protection. "Peter!" he hissed. "I see dead people!"
Sylar pointed at a crowd of people beyond the normal pedestrians. The crowd shambled along, their faces bloody, most of them missing the tops of their heads. As they neared, Peter could hear them groaning out, "BRRAAIIINSSS! He touched our BBRRRRRAAAAIIIINS!" They shuffled faster as they got closer and Sylar jerked at Peter's elbow.
"Zoinks! Let's get out of here! Isn't Mom's place a- Damnit! I mean, isn't Angela Petrelli's place around here?"
Peter wheeled on him, filled with a surge of anger for Sylar forgetting himself again. He menaced him with his fist, but Sylar just fell back and cringed. "Please, Peter. You're the only one who can protect me here."
"I'm not protecting you! You deserve this!"
Sylar looked past Peter. The zombies were getting closer, fast. "Can we argue about this somewhere else, please?"
"Fine." Peter glanced back and then started running. Sylar kept up with him easily. Curse those longer legs. A random pedestrian yelled after them, "Run, Forest! Run!" Soon they found shelter in the Petrelli family house.
Angela was there and she frowned at the both of them. She was setting out a pair of pies, one peach and one pumpkin. Sylar hid behind Peter again, which Peter was beginning to find annoying. Kind of cute, but annoying. "Mom?" Peter asked. He looked at the two deserts. "Why are you putting out pies?"
"Because the cake is a lie."
He blinked. Sylar sniggered. Peter looked at his mother intently. There was something different about her. "Are you part of Sylar's subconscious too?"
"No, I'm not. My ability involves dreaming, so I'm real here. I am an Architect, and an Oracle. I can tell you what's going to happen next."
"What's going to happen next?" Peter asked.
"You're going to say 'what,'" his mother answered.
"What?" Peter said.
Sylar fell over laughing. Peter gave him an irritated look. Looking back to his mother, he said, "No, really? What's going to happen? Why are we here?"
"It has been said that the primary questions everyone has to answer are 'Who am I?' and 'What do I want?' Do you know the answers to those questions, Peter?"
Peter took a deep breath and thought about that seriously, even though he was pretty sure it was another obscure science fiction geekdom reference that he didn't get. "I am Peter Petrelli, your son, Nathan's brother, a nurse and paramedic, and I want everyone to be good and have safe, happy lives."
"Very good, Peter. What happens next is dependent on you and how much you believe what you just said. You're here because Matt Parkman trapped Sylar in his own personal hell and he will remain there until someone thinks he's worth saving."
"Emma's worth saving," Peter said. "I came here for her, not for him."
Sylar, who had picked himself up a bit before, said in a very hurt tone of voice, "I thought you'd forgiven me, Peter?"
"I did," Peter explained, looking at him. "It's over between us. When we get out, you can save Emma and then we'll go our separate ways. I don't need revenge for what you did to Nathan, or Ma, or anyone. It's over."
Sylar inhaled sharply and staggered back, as if physically hurt by the realization Peter wouldn't help him. Peter could hear the distant groans of the zombies. He wondered if there was a connection, but he wasn't sure if he was smart enough to make it. It all depended on what season it was. Angela said, "They're heee-rreee!" She smiled at them both, warmly at Peter and nastily at Sylar, adding, "Well, I need to wake up now, naptime's over and I need to go steal some socks! Be safe, Peter, and whatever you decide is fine with me."
"Decide?" he said, but she faded out of existence before he could wring an explanation from her.
The zombies came crashing in, grabbing Sylar and hoisting him into the air. He screamed as they took him into the parlor, slammed him down in a chair and got started on him. They avoided Peter, other than a little inadvertent jostling and Peter avoided them in turn. Sylar deserved this. Nathan wasn't the only person he'd killed and just because Peter had forgiven him didn't mean everyone else had. Peter sat down and began to eat the peach pie. It was really good.
When Sylar's hoarse cries began to get on his nerves, he tried to leave, but found there was nowhere to go. There was a brick wall over every exit Peter tried to use, even though the other residents of Sylar's head could come and go as they pleased. Peter tried hitting the wall with his sledgehammer, but it was just as useless here as it had been in the empty city.
He went back in to watch the torture. It seemed that everyone Sylar had ever killed wanted a piece of him - most of them very literally. Fortunately Sylar regenerated in this level of the dream, but that only meant they got to hurt him over and over again. It was disturbing to watch. There were also scores of people who merely knew the people he'd killed, or had been witness to a killing, or otherwise affected by it, and there were a few people there who just hated him because he was different.
He saw Elle yell, "Die in a fire, you bastard!" and zap him with enough electricity that he caught on fire. After he recovered from that, a tow truck driver beat him senseless with a tire iron. After that, Samson Grey came to gloat over him, standing next to a bald young man whom Samson claimed was his favored son, Lex. Peter heard Samson tell Sylar he was a genetic anomaly and then said, "Fluke,I am your father."
Sylar yelled, "No. No. That's not true! It's impossible!" Then Samson cut off Sylar's hand and there was more screaming until it regrew.
Peter was beginning to feel quite bad about this. He stood up and looked through the press of people waiting their turn and thought he saw Nathan. He surged forward, calling out, "Nathan! Nathan!" The man he was calling to didn't respond until he moved right next to him and took his arm.
The man looked at him blankly, then adopted a genial, if somewhat false smile. "I'm sorry. I don't think I know you."
"Nathan?" Peter questioned.
"No, I'm Jim. Jim Profit. I think you must have mistook me for someone with a soul. Mine's over there." He gestured at Sylar. "And I intend to get it back."
"Oh… um… okay." Peter backed away. He went back to the front of the line, next to Sylar. Chandra Suresh politely waited while Peter talked to Sylar for a moment. "Why are you putting yourself through this, Sylar? In the other place, the loneliness, that was your worst nightmare. What's going on here?"
"I'm so afraid, Peter. We're going to get out and you're going to leave me. I'd rather be tortured here forever than have it be over between us."
"That's what your mother said you'd say." Sylar seemed morose and serious.
Peter sputtered, "Sylar, there's no 'us!'"
"You said there was! You said it was over! It can't be over unless there was something there to begin with."
"All that was there before is that I hated you!"
Sylar nodded and looked hopeful. "I know, Peter. That's what foe-yay is for. But it's over now… you don't hate me anymore, so we can't be together."
"Sylar, that makes no sense at all. I'm not even sure what foe-yay is. In any case, you're not the same guy who killed my brother. You've changed."
"Maybe I have, Peter, but you haven't."
Peter blinked at him. "I have to change? What more do I have to do? I've forgiven you!"
Sylar looked around at the waiting crowd and said nothing. Peter huffed and said, "Sylar, every one of these people deserved a happy life. They deserved to be safe. You took that from them."
Sylar looked sadly at Peter and said, "Don't I deserve the same thing? If you prick me, do I not… leak?"
Peter stood abruptly and walked away, running his hand through his hair, disturbed. Chandra put earphones on Sylar's head and made him listen to the Backstreet Boys back to back with the Barney the Dinosaur song. Sylar's face contorted in agony. Peter picked up his sledgehammer and ran his hands up and down the handle restlessly. He looked back and saw that Sylar was watching him. It occurred to him that his motions up and down the shaft of the hammer were a little suggestive, so he quit and put it down. Sylar sagged in his chair as Eden McCain put a gun to his temple and then pulled the trigger.
Peter jumped at the bark of the gun and flinched as Sylar's body toppled lifeless from the chair he'd been in. The next in line, Alejandro, pulled him back into the chair as he regenerated. Then he began insulting Sylar in Spanish and smearing him with scrambled eggs.
Peter went back to Sylar, pushing Alejandro out of the way. "Stop that, really." Alejandro huffed at him, but desisted. He didn't have any real power anyway - not after the writer's strike. Peter turned to Sylar and said, "What is it I'm supposed to do? I can't watch you get hurt over and over. I can't stand it anymore. I was wrong to let this happen."
"You have to admit that I'm one of those people you want to have a safe, happy life. You said you wanted everyone to have that. Is that what you really believe?"
Peter pulled back again. Did Sylar deserve to be protected and defended like Peter would protect anyone else? Alejandro was back to defacing the man with egg products. Even though Sylar looked humiliated and ashamed, it didn't look like that bad a torture. Peter walked over to his hammer, hefting it and thinking. He was facing away and so didn't see the changeover as Alejandro went away and the next in line stepped up. It was Meredith.
In a surprisingly masculine voice, she said, "Heh, heh, heh, heh. Fire! F-f-f-fire!" Peter turned to look, and with a whoosh and a flash, Sylar went up in flames. He screamed and fell to the floor, writhing.
Peter held up the hammer as if to shield himself. He saw the head of it turn silver in the light of the fire and the name 'Maxwell' appeared on the shaft in cursive elven script - a secret that only fire could reveal. He looked at Meredith, who was turned from him, still shooting a jet of fire onto Sylar's burning form. He knew what he had to do. He had to stop people from hurting Sylar. Sylar was a human being - flawed, yes; a sinner, yes; a bad person, maybe, he certainly had been, but he was trying to be better - and he didn't deserve pain and suffering. No one did - no matter how evil.
Peter hit Meredith in the head with his silver hammer and she was dead. With the fire off of him, Sylar began to heal. The mob grumbled angrily, no longer polite and waiting their turn now that it appeared their prey might be denied to them. Peter stood over Sylar and brandished the hammer over his head. "Alright you primitive screwheads, listen up! This… is my boomstick! If you fuck with me or Sylar, I will hit you. And every time I do, I'm gonna smash something off. And I promise you, they will be things you will miss."
Sylar staggered to his feet behind him, naked except for a ragged set of scorched underwear because the rest of his clothes had burned off. The fanservice was as glorious as it was gratuitous. "Peter? You're protecting me?" Meredith had fallen on the chair and broken it. Sylar now grabbed up one of the legs that had sheared off to a sharp point. When the next undead charged him, he stabbed it in the heart and it exploded into dust.
"You were right, Sylar. No one deserves to be hurt. Not even you. Now how do we get out of here?"
"How the hell should I know?" They tried the front door, and found the brick wall gone. However, the mob of angry, vengeful wronged folk followed them out, having somehow become armed with pitchforks and torches. "Quick! Give me a kiss!"
Startled, Peter did. Is this supposed to help somehow? he wondered. Sylar's lips against his own weren't nearly as disagreeable as they should have been. He pulled back. "They're still looking at us," he said of the zombies, though they had stopped to watch.
Sylar shrugged and tried to fight down a naughty, pleased smile. "Yeah, but it was worth a shot."
Peter looked at him sharply, realizing he'd been tricked. He thought about objecting, pushing Sylar away or doing something violent to him, like punching him in the face. He just sighed and looked back at the encroaching mob. Being kissed by Sylar isn't the worst thing that's about to happen, he reflected and put it aside.
At that moment, they charged. "My God," Sylar said, "They're worse than a legion of fangirls!"
"It's hammertime!" Peter yelled and swung the sledgehammer straight down, hitting the pavement. He wasn't sure why he did that, but it caused a shockwave that rippled out and knocked everyone but him and Sylar off their feet. "Can't touch this."
"Whoa," Sylar said, deadpan.
The more able-bodied of the mob got to their feet first. Noah Bennet was the first to close with him. Peter didn't realize who he was until the hammer connected with the side of Noah's face, sending his patented horn-rims flying. Oh my God, I just killed Noah! I'm a bastard! Peterthought. He didn't have time to think about it, because Mohinder was right behind, dodging around the fallen Noah and brandishing a torch in one hand and a tuning fork in the other.
Peter fought like mad. He had a few moments of doubt, but he was willing to stand up to everyone he knew to protect Sylar, whether they came at him alone or in groups, no matter what Sylar had done to them. Even Claire. Sylar didn't deserve to die. He'd been redeemed. If they couldn't see it, that was their own problem. He wasn't going to let another person suffer for it.
He heard a metallic scraping noise and looked back to see that Sylar had pulled back a manhole cover.
"Quick, Peter. In here! We need to go deeper!" Sylar's nearly nude form dropped into the darkness.
Peter delivered some smackdown to Isaac Mendez, feeling a surge of vindictiveness towards him as he did it. "That's for Simone too, you jerk! And for the shire!" He stepped back and misjudged where the hole was. He fell, flailing for support.
He had the sensation of falling, like he'd been asleep in a chair and someone kicked it over and he fell into a full bathtub. With a shock, he awoke, lying on a bed. It took a moment to get his bearings. He appeared to be in a bedroom, or a hotel room. He was on a huge round bed shaped vaguely like a clam. The room also had a fireplace (currently lit) and a kitchenette.
"Where are we?" Peter asked.
"The honeymoon suite, I believe."
Peter got to his feet. "I never thought I'd be in one of these," Peter muttered.
"Really? I mean, I'd marry you in a heartbeat. I love you, Peter. More than anything else in the world. More than clocks, even! No one else has ever been willing to defend me against anything. That's why I became such an ass. I'm just tragically misunderstood."
"Misunderstood?" Peter asked. "You're a murderer!"
"Well, yes. But a misunderstood murderer. That makes it all okay." Sylar took one step closer, looking hopeful.
Peter reached over and picked up his hammer off the bed. He hefted it, frowning, and looked at Sylar. Sylar eyed the hammer too, as if still concerned he might be hit with it.
"So what's the trick to getting out of this level?"
Sylar looked longingly at the bed. "You don't want to stay here?"
"No, I don't." Peter walked over and tried the door, but behind it was a brick wall. He checked the door to the balcony, but as soon as he opened it, there was a brick wall there too. He even tried the refrigerator in the kitchenette, just for kicks, but Caitlin was stuffed inside, sharing space with chopped up parts of Claire. Peter rolled his eyes. "Great! Just great! Why is it that all the women in this show end badly?"
Sylar looked over his shoulder. "And what is it with Claire's absurd tendency to attract damage? It's like her power isn't so much healing, but causing the strangest accidents all the time."
"I know!" Peter threw his arms up and shut the fridge (after all, there wasn't anyone he wanted to be with in there… strange Petrellicest vibes aside). "At Nathan's funeral we were cutting up lemons and she manages to slice her finger. Every time there's a scene with her and a sharp object in it, you just know she's going to get hurt. It's like Chekov's Gun!"
Sylar nodded. "I'm just glad the only ability they always remember me having is telekinesis. It's cool – doesn't hurt me."
"It's easy to demonstrate," Peter said.
"Yeah, that's probably why," Sylar agreed. He walked over and opened a door Peter hadn't tried. "Hey, what about this one?"
"That's the closet."
"Yeah?" Sylar gestured in it anyway. "It's like a wardrobe, Peter, made from the wood of a mystical apple tree."
Peter stared at him for a moment and finally said, "What?"
Sylar sighed. Peter never got his allusions. "It leads to another world, okay? A blessed world of magic and supernatural powers. You wanted to know how to get out of here."
"If I go in the closet, I have to come out of the closet. The metaphor is a little strong, don't you think?"
Sylar smiled a little. "Well, yes, Peter, it is a bit obvious, but the subtle ones didn't seem to be making much of an impression."
Peter walked over and joined him. "I'm not sure I'm ready to come out of the closet."
"Peter, you've already played a homosexual in the past."
"I know. That's not the issue. It's just that I don't think the world is ready for a main character who is gay unless the show caters specifically to that audience. Much less in an actual relationship." He stole a glance at Sylar nervously.
Sylar laughed. "Peter! This is slash! It's practically a requirement that we be together. Just be happy this isn't porn-without-plot."
"Um… well, at least then I wouldn't really need to think about it."
Sylar turned to him thoughtfully. "You mean you…" He tried again. "Are you thinking about it?"
"I don't know. Doesn't seem like it would be that bad," Peter hedged. "I mean, isn't that what the subtext of The Wall is all about? That we spend years together, living together, working together, talking about our innermost secrets, learning to accept even the worst parts of one another and fall in… um… get along?"
"Yes, that's it exactly." Hope flared in Sylar's eyes. "I was just wanting something a little more 'text' and less 'sub'."
"Sure, if you want."
Peter took a deep breath. "I don't think the rating supports that. Let's… see what's on the other side." He walked into the closet and Sylar followed, closing the door behind them.
They stood in the dark for a bit. Eventually Peter said, "So… um...?"
Sylar said conversationally, "I was in a closet once with Claire. I was pretending to be her lesbian girlfriend. The irony was thick."
"I don't think that word means what you think it means."
"Stupid Alanis Morissette song."
Sylar cleared his throat and his hand brushed against Peter's. "You know, Peter… If we're going to get out of here, we need to go deeper."
Peter sighed. After a moment he took Sylar's hand and said, "Oh hell, let's just get this over with." And he kissed the other man full on the mouth, with lots of sloppy tongue action and a plethora of bad descriptions worthy of a hundred fanficrants. When they parted, Peter said, "Deeper than that?"
"Oh yes, god yes, Peter."
Together, they stumbled out of the closet and into a sex dungeon. "This is the last level," Sylar said and Peter knew the only way out was to give himself over to Sylar entirely, but by now he didn't care very much, as writer fatigue had set in and the muse had just about left him. Anything at all sounded pretty good, including plagiarizing wildly from other people's fics (not that that hadn't been going on already).
Peter tossed the sledgehammer down and said, "I just realized I don't need that anymore."
"You don't?" Sylar asked. "I thought you were going to be my sledgehammer?"
Peter snorted. "I am. The hammer… is my penis."
Sylar grinned wickedly and they had gorgeous sex, all the while Peter was shouting, "Deeper! Deeper! Oh my God, Sylar, go deeper!" and then they both came in such an enormous explosion that the bricks of Matt Parkman's wall were thrown across the basement in disarray.
The two stood up and gasped in the dust, looking at each other. Sylar said, "That doesn't make it any less real, does it?"
Peter answered ambiguously, "Let's go save Emma."