Title: More Between Us Than A Wall
Characters: Peter Petrelli, Sylar
Rating: PG-13 through chapter 16 at least. Eventual NC-17 expected.
Warnings: Occasional violence, eventual sex
Setting: The Wall
Author's Notes: This is a collaborative writing project between myself (writing Peter's sections) and means2bhuman (who writes Sylar's sections). Sections are divided by XXX. After each division, point of view switches and the story continues from the other character's perspective. So the first section is what Peter knows/sees/thinks, and the next is what Sylar knows/sees/thinks, usually in response to what the other character has said or did. This initial chapter follows canon closely. It is essentially the "training wheels" of our writing project/role play, where actions were laid out for both of us to see and we used that as a vehicle to get familiar with the style and writing conventions we were going to follow.

There is an important deviation from canon that will affect later chapters: Rene's power, in this AU, allows a person to take a memory. They do not destroy it - they take it, and have that memory walled off within their mind to access or ignore as they see fit. Rene knew his power worked this way, but he is a man of few words and Peter wanted the nullification - nothing more. But then, Peter drained every memory Sylar had. They're stored away in his head, surfacing only when Peter is free-associating, dreaming, or experiences strong deja vu. Sylar regenerated his memories as per canon and is as unaware as Peter is of what's going on there.

Sylar has his own memory issues. Nathan's memories are sometimes indistinguishable from his own and his sense of identity slips from time to time. In the text, Nathan's memories are denoted with underscored text. A single slash mark, /blah, blah/, denotes one of Sylar's own memories (though we are less consistent with these than with differentiating Nathan's memories). Thoughts, in general, of either character, are in italics.

We begin as soon as Peter goes to enter Sylar's mind.

XXX

Peter rushed into it headlong, not stopping to think, because he knew if he did his nerve might fail, his resolve falter. He might start thinking about what was rational and logical, about other options, and ignore the path foretold by the dream - the path to Emma's salvation and through her, that of many more. He reached past the brick, impervious to the dangers Matt's voice was trying to hammer into him, and touched the face of his sworn enemy.

The skin was warm under his touch. Sylar's cheek was a little stubbly under his pinky, the hair silken and fine at his temple where Peter's index and middle finger rested. Peter's thumb pressed lightly against his cheekbone. He felt very human. That, too, was an impression Peter walled off, pushed away, and ignored. He didn't need Sylar's humanity. He only needed him to save Emma, so that thousands of others wouldn't die. She was the key to Samuel's plan.

Sylar's eyes twitched and rolled as he sensed a presence, if only perhaps subconsciously, and between one blink and the next, Peter was gone from Matt's basement and standing alone in a street. He looked around. It was an empty street...somewhere. The details of the place seemed to shift in place, sliding in and out of focus. The glare of the sun made it hard to see. Peter squinted and shielded his eyes, waiting for the mental landscape to adjust to his presence.

That thought left him almost amused. I'm waiting for me to adjust to the mental landscape. The other way around is false. It's a projection. None of this is real.He felt a profound sense of isolation seep into his bones. For a moment he was tormented by the idea that he was alone here and would never find Sylar. That too, held a hint of amusement. It wasn't like he really wanted to find Sylar. Well, he did, but...He shook his head. I need to focus. I have to find him.

XXX

Screaming; that was the first thing he remembered and soon forgot. No one. No specials, no people, nothing. Void of life but for him. Strange how he didn't miss people until they were gone, dust and ashes. This truly was a nightmare. Fate went beyond 'bitch' with this, leaving him alone without a chance. Bleeding throat, torn and scraped hands were all he had to show for his first day, his knees were even sore.

After living in New York for all but a few years of his life, he'd begun to feel a deep sense of punishing irony at surviving the apocalypse and being trapped by his own immortality. Where was Claire? Peter? That Adam guy he'd heard about? God, but he hated this power now. Fuck immortality. Sylar wished he could remember how this had happened. The last memory in his mind was standing in Parkman's house, asking him to hack into his head. Willingly this time, to take away what made him special.

Too often he pitied himself, but his sins wouldn't let themselves be ignored. Wasn't this enough? Hadn't he suffered enough for the blood on his soul? Hell of a lot of bleach, he thought. Finally he picked himself up and searched again, this time with less hope and more certainty of neglect. This wasn't supposed to happen. Hiro said I would die alone and no one would mourn me. But...it's backwards. WHY IS IT BACKWARDS! He'd been trying, for God's sake, didn't that count for something? When he thought about it, Sylar didn't know which he feared more at that point; a lonely death or a lonely life. But death was starting to look better all the time. And with each passing day and the nights were worse, it looked like a sunrise over his horizon.

Then three years without a living sound. While he may have been accustomed to his own company, this was a new brand of quiet. His Hunger no longer ticked in his head; that was nearly a relief. In one thousand four hundred and eighty-five days he hadn't found a single person; not a body or even animals. Sylar hadn't realized just how much noise had an effect on the human psyche.

Wandering, he'd had plenty of time to get to know everything intimately and then some. Each building and what it was, where all the facilities were located, the food and supplies, where to find scarce entertainment, which was pretty much just books...It was all still here. Radio and television didn't work...Maybe some sort of comet wiped out the satellites...

Anger and pain. The lonely vacuum of miserable tears that no one but him could hear. Sylar hadn't cried so much or so deeply in…well, a long time. Over the years, his moods swung like a crazy pendulum in a grandfather clock, his emotions, once fast and furious, slowed. They were wasted on this wasteland, barren deserted desert of a city. Wasted on himself.

For a sign of life…

He'd searched and searched; for about a year and half until he lost hope. He'd clawed and kicked and destroyed nearly everything in sight with his hands and any type of blunt instrument in his fear; bashing and tearing and bludgeoning. He had to fix his book shelves and a lamp after he'd broken them because he wanted his shelves and his lamp after all these years. An anchor, Danko had called it.

…A speck, a molecule…A waste of time.

XXX

Peter huffed out a breath. He looked around, expecting to find Sylar immediately, but having the strange feeling that he was the only one here. What was it Matt had said, something about trapping Sylar in his worst nightmare, of being alone? And there was something else he'd said about not being able to get out, as Peter had moved to Sylar, his haste bred from a combination of his own desire not to think this through and his contempt of the inhumanity of what Matt had done.

He was a hypocrite in that regard, but at the moment he didn't ponder that. Instead he wondered if perhaps what Matt had meant was that if he went into Sylar's nightmare, he'd be in Sylar's nightmare, but Sylar wouldn't necessarily be here. Perhaps the other man's consciousness was walled off, insulated in his own desolation, and Peter would find himself in a version of the same thing, like him and Adam inside their own cells at the Company...but not even able to make their presence known to one another.

He looked up at the walls of the skyscrapers, at the tree-lined boulevard and felt a moment of panic and heightened concern. The first thing he called out wasn't the name of the man he'd come to find. "Matt?"

He waited, but there was nothing but an echo. He turned in a slow circle where he stood, searching. Time skipped irregularly. How long had he been waiting for a response? Had he called only once or twice? He started walking. There was no point in staying in the same place. He turned in a circle as he walked, trying to be aware of everything around him. He called out, "Hello?"

The glitching and unsettled jumping of the dream reality continued and Peter could feel a part of his mind struggling with the construct. It was locked up, like a machine with a broken gear. That was Matt's ability, fighting, trying to accomplish Peter's will and bring him to Sylar so he could get the hell out of here. But Sylar wasn't here and Peter wasn't doing what he needed to do to reach the other man.

Peter walked in one direction, then suddenly found himself heading in the opposite. Irritated, he focused on the double yellow line in the middle of the street and walked down it - that way, he couldn't get lost. He called out again, "Hello?" He turned in a circle again as he walked, putting his hands to his mouth to yell louder. "HELLO?" He kept walking, finding himself suddenly further down the block than he'd expected. He yelled again.Was there anyone here at all? Was the city itself Sylar? It occurred to him that Sylar need not manifest here as the man he'd met. That was a troublesome thought.

Things glitched again and there was a deep-seated pain between his eyes, behind his skull. He put his hand to his forehead, wincing. He was next to the curb, somehow having strayed from the middle of the street. Angry that he couldn't even accomplish walking in a straight line, he kicked a parking meter. His foot hurt, which was strangely reassuring, and the base of the meter made a 'pang!' sound and wobbled.

When he stopped hopping on one foot and ascertained he hadn't actually broken any bones, he reached out and shook the meter. It wobbled a lot. He was feeling destructive, so he shifted, grasped it, got some leverage, and pulled, leaning his whole body into it. It slowly bent. He worked it back and forth a few more times before it snapped off, shearing.

He hefted it, remembering Sylar hitting him with something like this years ago. He'd experienced a lot of major trauma in the last few years, even if you only considered the physical - numerous 'deaths', injuries that should have left him crippled or maimed for life and various shocks to the system. Claire said she couldn't feel pain. Peter could feel it, but he had to admit he'd become somewhat numb to it, having experienced it so much. He'd become calloused inside.

His lip curled as he took a few practice swings with the meter, getting a feel for it and imagining hitting Sylar like Niki had done. He wasn't done feeling destructive. He looked at the sweeping expanse of glass facing the nearest store. He'd always wanted to do this, on some level. Maybe the city was Sylar. Maybe this would hurt a little - or a lot. He grinned savagely. He took several steps to the glass and swung the meter, letting the heavy metal head of it crash through, sending shards everywhere. Peter's grin morphed into a snarl as he moved to the next pane.

Once the destruction began, he didn't stop easily. He yelled; he cursed; he smashed things; he slammed the head of the meter against frames and counters; and when he ran out of easily breakable things nearby, he started hitting the brick. Pieces shattered and flew with the first solid strike he made. The head of the meter bent and the casing cracked. He didn't care. He swung it again and again until the top came off, pieces flying apart violently. The sudden change in the balance of the object caused him to stagger and nearly fall.

He regained his feet, panting, leaning on the metal pipe for support. He looked around himself, at the ruined glass, bits of brick, and twisted metal. It was ugly. It was damaged. He tried to take joy in the ruin, tried to think that he'd wrecked some small part of Sylar's mental equilibrium. But there was no way to tell if the other man had noticed. Even if he had, Peter realized with a sudden sag to his shoulders, he wasn't here to hurt him. He was here to get his help. This, what he'd just done, was not helping.

He stood straighter, remembering one of his father's more colloquial sayings: Any jackass can kick a barn down, but it takes a man to build one. He sighed. He'd made a mess, and for what? He was still alone, Sylar still wasn't here, and he hadn't made any progress. He'd thrown a tantrum like a child when the task had proven harder than expected. He wiped at his eyes with the back of his hand. His head hurt abominably.

He shook his head and turned, walking away from the havoc. It wasn't real. It was just an illusion. He kept carrying the pipe though, occasionally entertaining himself by thinking about what it would be like to hit Sylar with it. The end still featured bolts sticking out of it irregularly, like spikes. It would make a fearsome weapon. He had to keep reminding himself that he hadn't come here to start a fight. He needed Sylar's help.

He kept calling out until his voice grew hoarse. He didn't notice, but he never called Sylar's name - not once. He called for Matt off and on and otherwise just yelled, "Hello?" and "Can anyone hear me?" He took to hammering the ground with the pipe when his voice failed him. At first his blows were irregular, but after a while he fell into a pattern and the strikes became rhythmic and steady. He couldn't say why, just that it was what he did. The dull thudding sounded a lot like ticking. Finally, Peter had created a sound that carried and connected to the other occupant of this world.

XXX

The ticking of the world had always been off and it sounded eerily like the steady tempo had previously resided in his head. Sylar knew something was wrong with this world; almost as if it had a bad smell or the hair on the back of his neck stood up. Cold, dead and lifeless, except for him. Did that make him lifeless, too, then?

Sylar wrote it off as he adjusted the tiny pieces of his latest treasure; a tourbillion. Momentarily happy in his trinket, it only had a common problem, however; the self-winding coil had snapped. It broke his heart further to see such a beautiful piece in this condition of disrepair.

After he'd fixed it, and many others, he sat back to think; the old chair creaked as he moved. His hands had cramped from hours of endless work, eyes strained and neck tight. It was insulting and angering to be back to the same place where he'd begun his journey for glory. Just with less in the world. Sylar had never been able to understand how people could live with broken watches, how someone could let it sit on their body, next to their bed, on their walls and desks and do nothing; the world ran on time, or at least it used to. Now time ran him again.

The clocks that he'd filled his room with all ticked wrong, so did every watch he'd come across. Not one was even remotely close to keeping the correct time. He supposed it was a good thing; it gave him something to do. Did he even know the correct time anymore? There was an ache in his head that replaced the Hunger; it refused to be eased or worked away. It clung to him like the loneliness did. It wouldn't fade like the gray misty weather of New York would on occasion.

And it confused him; he used to be able to self-analyze. He'd always been so sure of what he wanted, what his needed. His brain had always given him his marching orders; kill and take powers or be driven mad. His goal was always clear, he'd be clear in his own sense of self, for what it was worth. Or so he'd thought. Sylar had once been able to see with crystal clarity how the pieces of the world fit together and he'd never questioned his role in it. But one was what one ate, right? With no people to make him special, to stand apart from….what was he? In this hell hole one day could go on for a hundred years, yet the same night could last...minutes, leaving him still tired and lost yet again.

It was easy to get lost here, in the city he'd grown up in, lived nearly his entire life in. The mysteries piled up with no answers, barely any theories to guide him. No signs of disease, apocalypse or natural disaster, he might be tempted to guess of the Rapture and for that he'd have to thank his mother. It was a big world, he rationalized; Claire and the Adam guy could be anywhere in it. Strange how he'd never needed people, really, until they were all gone.

Moving on to the next piece, he sprung open the back to peer at the gentle, if untuned insides; the most important parts. Sylar noticed the noise immediately; a dull throbbing clang of a sound; sound with a hint of metal. Sitting up, he dropped his tools, for once uncaring where they landed, suddenly finding himself elsewhere.

Dressed in his black pea coat where he hadn't been before, he stood on a long road. It was still a shock to see no bright yellow taxis parked bumper to bumper. He knew he'd heard something; his face screwed into a worried frown. Crazy, that's it. That's what this was, what he was. He was going crazy.

Not a whisper as he walked, nearly stumbling in his restrained haste to find the source of the noise. For long minutes, he just stared around as if a ghost would appear, but he didn't call out. There was no reason to. Eventually a deep-seated curiosity, maybe a hope, made him voice a coarse, weak "H-hello?" Immediately he'd buried his hands in his pockets, shoulders hunched in. No answer. So he tried again, stronger, louder, as if speaking to someone he knew was there, "Hello?" But was anyone really there? It couldn't be...Who would be alive?

XXX

Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Then something happened. Peter didn't know what, but he felt it. The hair on the back of his neck stood up and he stopped the constant hammering he'd fallen into just recently, banging the pipe on the ground time after time in measured beats. He looked around, but he couldn't see any visible change. Still, he felt like someone was looking at him or aware of him.

He looked at the pipe. It would make a good weapon. He looked around himself a second time. There was no one there. I'm not here to attack anyone. I'm here to get him and get out. I'll deal with the rest later. The feeling of being watched was fading. He looked at the pipe again. It had a different use and maybe that was what had engendered the change. He lifted it and struck the asphalt solidly with it. Bang! And then again, intending to drum out the same beat as before. Bang!

After the second beat, he felt the 'something' again, but this time he didn't need to rely on his intuition. For there, a half block down, in the middle of the previously empty street, stood Sylar, summoned like a reluctant spirit. Peter stood up straighter, hefting the pipe slightly. There was the man who had killed Nathan.

XXX

Slouched down, Sylar trod down the blank street when he heard the noise again; this time much, much closer and...dare he think it, real. He stopped on a yellow light, turning slowly in the direction of the sound, that...hopefully blessedly true sound.

Standing down the strip was a man, darkly dressed. Sylar squinted to get a better look before placing the silhouette. "Peter…" His throat couldn't decide if the name was to be uttered in surprise, joy, or disbelief. Of course Peter could have survived, just as he and Claire had, wherever Claire hid now.

The last time he'd seen Peter was...Kirby. No, Pinehearst. Level 5. Stanton. No...Thanksgiving. The hospital, there it was. Being nailed into a table. Hardly the way he'd planned that meeting to go, but when had it ever gone to plan? No love lost between the one-time brothers. But none of that mattered now.

Moving towards the other man, Sylar stared at him. Distractedly he saw Peter's face was one of disgust and resolution, partly hidden by his dark brown mop of hair that he always seemed to have. Sylar ignored the large pipe his new companion held; instead focusing on the discovery of whether Peter was a still crueler trick.

"Is that really you?" He asked in a faint, unused voice. Sylar kept his body on one side of the painted lanes as Peter dropped the potential weapon with an echoing, ringing echo. The noise was that much more beautiful since it had not come from himself. Oh, just let this be real.

XXX

For a moment, Peter squared off, preparing to fight. He drew himself up, taking a deep breath. It was needless. One look at Sylar's body language told him the other man wasn't brewing for anything. Sylar was hunched inwards, looking shorter and smaller, managing to take up less space. Peter noticed it - he didn't ponder it. He had a mission.

He paced down the street towards his target, moving faster than Sylar did towards him. He shifted his grip on the pipe a couple times, then glanced down at it and threw it aside. He didn't need the temptation of having it in his hand. As he approached, he became more sure that Sylar wasn't going to fight him. He hardly seemed to be the same person. Sylar regarded him in obvious wonder and disbelief, circling a little and reaching out a hand towards him.

Peter glanced at that hand, but otherwise ignored it. "Came to get you out of here," he said brusquely. Sylar did not drop his hand, moving closer, close enough that Peter looked down at it again as his personal space was invaded. He looked between it and Sylar's face. The Italian didn't withdraw. The touch seemed harmless - unwanted, but harmless.

XXX

In this hellish world, the only way to know if this...Peter was real or not was to touch him. Even then, it wasn't one hundred percent. Human contact. Sylar's mind hadn't been what anyone would consider stable before the people disappeared. This would...have to be real, right? This had never happened before.

The other man would notice immediately the lack of aggression towards his person. Sylar's entire demeanor lacked his usual deadly, almost feline air. Instead, his body was timid and innocent, if such a thing were possible for a man labeled a serial killer.

His hand hovering a moment as if deciding whether to break the pleasant illusion. Finally grasping the man's shoulder, he felt the soft canvas of his jacket and firm shoulder beneath and glanced up, shocked. Surely even his own creative mind couldn't fake that to this degree. Soon after the discovery, he whispered low, "It is you...isn't it?"

Then he noticed Peter's confused look. Maybe confused wasn't the right word; the other looked like he'd really like nothing more than to commit Sylar. Taking a step back, still hunched over, but having removed his hand, he tried to focus and balance whatever was left of his equilibrium. He frowned, his face screwing up, attempting to realize pieces to this insane puzzle that barely had pieces to be found let alone put together.

"I thought I was alone here...that everyone else was dead." Taking a breath, (Steady, steady...) he asked more firmly with the intent of getting an answer, "What are you doing here?" Never mind that it had probably been answered, he wanted it clarified. Why would Peter come to get him of all people? Out of where?

Sylar mostly tried to avoid Peter's gaze, wanting to keep away from the look of horror and disgusted disbelief he surely wore; but at the same time, tried to subtly drink in the sight of the other man, if he was real. Too long without faces…

XXX

You thought everyone else was dead? Peter's mind stuttered on that. Did Sylar think this was real? It didn't really matter what Sylar thought. He dismissed it as soon as he thought it. "I came to drag your sorry ass out of here. Now let's go."

XXX

Sylar scoffed a little and said, "There is no getting out of here, Peter. I've tried." He looked away. "For three years."

XXX

"Three years?" Peter replied, almost smiling at how absurd that was. "What are you talking about? It's been three hours." The degree of self-delusion Sylar was operating under was ridiculous. How could anyone mistake hours for years? Was this some mental command Parkman gave him, twisting his perception of reality?

He could see that Sylar didn't believe him - not in the least, no more than if he'd claimed black was white - and that meant Peter stood there silently, trying to make sense of it, as Sylar answered. Peter's eyes narrowed as he listened to that response. This was not the reaction of a confident, self-assured killer.

XXX

Sylar looked back to Peter to catch the tail end of a smile, but it wasn't a kind one. Peter thought this was funny. Again, his face crunched up, displaying his misery unconsciously. Peter didn't understand. How could he? Sylar's observation was confirmed when his companion next spoke. 'Three hours?' Tilting his head to stare the other man down, as if it would give him the desired, no, needed answer as it had in the past. The pieces fell into place with silent clashes of mental shock.

"Wait a minute…" he whispered, backing away from the man, the...illusion. "You're not...really here..." was his quiet spoken horror. Still not resigned to the fact yet, his voice firmed to cover his uncertainty, "You're not real." Turning from the smaller man, his dark eyes searched over the cool, immovable glass of the buildings that cast them in shadow. "This is my mind, isn't it…"

Was it really worse to have no one or an illusion of someone? Why Peter of all people? "This is my mind playing tricks on me...as a-a part of my punishment." His mind thought it was so clever, didn't it? Sylar was not to be taken for a fool and he refused to turn into a babbling idiot who talked to himself on the streets.

Facing "Peter" again, Sylar sneered and backed away nonetheless, "You think I'm going to let you taunt me?" Giving a slight shake of his head, his voice changing to become what the real Peter would have known it to be; deep, rasping and full of danger, "You stay away," was his command, backed up with the deadliest look he could muster. Since the real Peter had been stubborn, Sylar enforced his wishes further, pointing at the illusion and shouting in a slightly hysterical tone as he turned and ran; ran where he didn't know, "If you follow me, I WILL KILL YOU, YOU UNDERSTAND ME?"

XXX

For a moment, Peter stood there thinking, He's gone insane. Or maybe he was already insane. Then he realized that if Sylar got out of his sight, then he might not be able to get the bastard back. He launched into a run, calling out, "Sylar!"

Sylar ran oddly, weaving like he wasn't quite sure where he wanted to go. Peter was catching up to him, despite the other man being taller and Peter having those damn bandy legs. The world glitched again, for the last time, as the reality they existed in became a truly shared construct. Peter wasn't going to let Sylar get away from him. Whatever Sylar thought about being pursued, he wasn't rejecting the other presence so totally as to isolate himself again. Sylar was the key; Peter's dream had made that clear. Wherever he went, Peter was going to follow.

XXX

Sylar didn't turn to see if the illusion of his nemesis tagged along behind him, but he felt the need to make extra turns in attempt to lose him if he was there. Leave me alone! Just go back where you came from, I don't need this!Not another ghost to add to his collection; he had a small army and more than that in horrified guilt.

Darting around the various brick and glass corners, slipping twice in his haste and he panted quietly as he ran, just ran. This was fucked up weirdly even by his standards and Sylar had seen a lot in his relatively short lifetime. Peter just...appeared here out of nowhere - no.

Get away...

After he tired, air coming more difficult in his lungs, eventually, Sylar found himself running towards his old apartment building where he ironically found himself living currently, if he could call it that. What year was it, anyway? Bursting into the building, he took the stairs two at a time, long legs pumping in near fear to get him away from the mental threat, smacking open his own door from the book-lined hallway.

Slamming the door behind himself, he didn't spare a thought in his panic to the renovations he'd made to the place. Instead, grabbing up his beloved hammer to defend himself now, prepared to damage as needed. No sooner had he done so, the sound of his door being kicked in followed and he whirled around to face the attacker. Yet Sylar didn't know what was worse...the threat of harm or the implications that Peter might just be real...Perhaps he feared the retribution.

"I swear I'll kill you! Get out of my head!"

XXX

As they ran, it occurred to Peter that he should think of a way to circle or head off his quarry, but he quashed that thought as soon as he had it. This is all in my head. Just keep him in sight - that's all I have to do. He almost caught up to the killer several times: Sylar didn't seem to be running all out; he was unaccountably clumsy. Then it was like he made up his mind that he was going to get away from Peter after all. He started pulling away as they ran down one long block after another, turning at every intersection in a fashion that seemed random.

Peter fell behind, until he turned onto the next street to find it empty. He pulled up. Sylar hadn't been that far ahead of him. So...either the old adage 'Out of sight, out of mind'was even more true here, or he'd ditched into a building. Since Peter couldn't do anything about the former, he jogged forward. Immediately to his right was a set of concrete steps leading up to an apartment building. The door was ajar, still swinging with a slight motion. He looked up, hearing distant footsteps. Peter launched himself towards the structure.

Just inside the door was a mess of clutter - accumulated possessions and detritus, stacked in corners or leaned against the walls. There was a clear path to the stairs though, and Peter heard a distant banging of a door being shut. He hustled up the steps.

He knew when he got to the right floor, because once more, his way was indicated by the signs of life. Later, Peter would puzzle over this and try to find the meaning in it, because he was sure there was one, though at the moment he was in hot pursuit and followed the path by instinct. The rest of the world was tidy and orderly, sterile in its sparseness. No trash blew down the streets, things were all in their places, and nothing was 'in progress' - it was all complete and waiting, unattended forever. But here in this building, the one Sylar had run inside of, things were messy and out of place. There were projects and tools and materials, as well as refuse and cast-offs. Above all, everywhere there were books.

Peter paced rapidly down a drab hallway that featured stacks of books nearly everywhere that you wouldn't actually walk. There was a shopping cart full of them outside a door, and above that a single dingy light. He looked at the door. It was unprepossessing. He wondered if it was a trap. He didn't bother to see if it was locked. He just pulled back his foot and kicked it hard, near the jamb. It burst open and he glanced back and forth inside before walking in.

Sylar wasn't hiding - at least, no more than he was by having retreated to this place. The interior of the apartment was packed with more books and things than the hallway. Peter didn't care about the place, as they were leaving it as soon as possible. Right now though, he needed to get Sylar to cooperate with him. The other man was brandishing a hammer, reminding Peter of the unconvincing death threat he'd issued before fleeing. But now he'd cornered him. Pressed too much, even the most nonviolent person would defend themselves. Sylar was hardly nonviolent.

Peter put his hands up, but he continued to walk forward, undeterred by Sylar's renewed threat. "Calm down," he told him with careful emphasis. "I am telling you the truth." He moved his hands downward just a little in emphasis. Sylar was listening to him - clearly. The other man was still facing him, holding the hammer firmly, with his entire attention fixed on Peter. There was an intensity to the man that was impressive - a charisma Peter couldn't deny even if it seemed a little maniacal at the moment.

Peter dipped his head slightly, keeping his motions understated. "I came to take you out of here." He moved forward just a bit, leading with his left shoulder, the beginnings of a fighting stance. Peter's teeth set together and his eyes narrowed a little at the thought that he needed Sylar's help.

XXX

The expression on Sylar's face was one of disbelief, "Why do you keep saying that?"

XXX

Peter breathed out and quickly reassessed what he was here for. He relaxed his jaw and leaned forward slightly, trying, at least a little, to reach out to the other man. He genuinely needed his cooperation. He spoke slowly and deliberately, trying to make his words count. "I went to Parkman's house to look for you." Sylar was still watching him, still holding the hammer steady between them. "He put you here." Peter gestured slightly to indicate…everything. "Thisis a dream."

XXX

Calm down? What did "Peter" think he was; a damn dog? Sylar had never been on this end of Peter's…emphasis before and it felt weird. No wonder everyone followed him. He was damn convincing. The hammer in his hand wavered toward the ground, but returned to its position towards the other man.

Frowning and blinking, confusion written in every line of his face, Sylar listened, albeit reluctantly, to Peter's little explanation.

"IT'S NOT A DREAM!" he shouted right back, his face twisting up as he did in ways Peter hadn't seen for a while. Hell if he didn't know that by now! Peter just frowned, tilting his head back away from the outburst, hands moving into more of a defensive position. Would he stop staring at me like I'm fucking crazy already?

"This is real…" Sylar avoided eye contact, voice shaking slightly, instead choosing to glance around the apartment, hoping for an escape, maybe a miracle. Just go away… Stay. This was humiliating. It made him feel powerless all over again. Sylar adjusted his grip on the wood of the hammer's handle; there was no way he was letting go of it now.

"You really don't understand that this is all just a nightmare?" Peter still felt the need to speak to him like he was a small child, giving him that patented Petrelli 'I'm disappointed in you' expression, his hands gesturing in that Italian way of his.

"Hell, yes, it's a nightmare…Three years…completely alone…." Could Pete understand that? His eyes still wandered until he reached the part about the length of time, risking a quick, brave and hopeful look into Pete's eyes, darting away again. God, he was just so unsure about all this. Stupid Peter. All his fault.

XXX

On one hand, 'it's not a dream,' and 'it's real'; on the other hand, 'it's a nightmare' and 'you're not real.' Yet here Sylar was threatening to kill the 'not real' person in front of him. Peter couldn't figure out if the other man was genuinely confused or…no, he was genuinely confused. He risked another step closer, raising his hands in entreaty. Sylar could hit his hands at least with that hammer at this distance, with those long arms of his. Peter was not unaware of it. But the other man was looking around the room, looking desperate maybe. He looked…distressed. Peter tried to be calming. "Not years, hours."

Sylar looked back at him, mouth agape in disbelief. Peter went on, hoping he was making some sort of connection. He was at least making an impression. "Alright? Parkman trapped you here."

XXX

Sylar began shaking his head before Peter was even done speaking. He looked confused. "Parkman? That's impossible!"

XXX

"Is it?" Peter held his left hand steady, gesturing for emphasis with his right. The set of his shoulders had relaxed a little. The head of the hammer had drifted down several inches. How had Sylar even gotten into this mess? Or a better question, how had he gotten messed up this much? Peter was too much of an empath not to entertain such questions, despite his feelings about who he was dealing with. "What's the last thing you remember, before coming here?"

If they could find some shred of common ground, maybe he could work from that. Because something had to happen between the 'here' of this mental construct and the 'there' of Sylar saving Emma and thereby so many others. The man he was looking at right now wasn't 'there' yet. They didn't even seem to be agreeing on basic reality.

XXX

This was all so very wrong. Pete. Here. Speaking. And….that wasn't caring in his voice. The other must want something of him like everyone else. Why would "Peter" ask him of all people a question like that? Sylar just scoffed, but he was oh-so tempted to believe the other man's words.

But it was a good question, his mind just….glossed over it, like he couldn't focus. Sylar couldn't focus. On his own memory, too, goddamnit. The hammer's metal head floated nearer and nearer to his own midsection as he thought on the question. Jeez, it was just a question. Sylar felt his intelligence slipping by the second. Just a stupid question… It doesn't have to mean so much. Or did it?

Dark eyes turned away to stare off to the side as he murmured out in a rambled, rather broken stream of consciousness, "I remember…" he began slowly, "wanting my life to change." Here he gave a slight pause, embarrassed; his voice slipped lower and into a less audible tone, becoming thicker with repressed emotion because of it, "Thinking I was going to spend all of eternity alone…" Sylar didn't expect him to understand. Claire hadn't even grasped the concept. (Well, she was blonde…)

Peter, ever the bulldog with a chew toy with a subject (so similar, he thought) wouldn't relent, "Exactly and here you are. Look, I've got Parkman's ability," his voice was rising, becoming chopped with haste, determination and impatience at Sylar himself, "I can take you out of here." Peter was so confident and assured it was difficult not to let his brusque yet gentle forcefulness sweep him under. So very intent on his goal; he stepped well within Sylar's striking range, but neither man paid any attention.

Near tears at the man's words, Sylar gaped at him, honestly dumbfounded and practically stuttering past his closing throat, "W-why would you want to do that…" his voice lilted as if unsure where or when to stop talking, "the brother of the man I murdered coming to my aid?"

Sylar still held the hammer between them, with no real will behind it, no intent on wielding it, but it gave him something against Peter's supposed powers. Nathan trained him. Instantly something seamlessly clicked in his mind, his memories unconsciously shifting into the eldest Petrelli's.

That time with the nailgun.

XXX

'Why?' What a moment for Sylar to throw that up in my face. His body language froze, like he'd forgotten the delicate conversation he was trying to have without words, parallel to the one they were verbalizing. His right hand was held close to his chest; his left reaching out, but his gesture was meaningless without motion, just as the sound of a single letter means nothing without the context of the rest of the word. Peter's jaw worked for single breath, before he answered, "Because I need you to help me."

It wasn't as tough as he'd expected, to have to say it directly to Sylar's face. Maybe that was because he'd already had to repeat it so many times to himself. "Listen, I could leave you here to rot," and here he lifted his chin, nose wrinkling just slightly at how much he'd like to do just that, how offensive Sylar was to him, "but I need you to save her: my friend, Emma."

Peter's expression shifted back to appealing, and his hands finally found purpose again in helping him communicate. "In the dream, you save her before she kills thousands of people."

Sylar shook his head and looked off to the side. Peter's words sounded a little ridiculous even to him, so what must they sound like to Sylar? Of course, they were having this conversation inside Sylar's head, which lent a certain believability to otherwise surreal statements.

XXX

"Nuh," Sylar said. His eyes tracked back to Peter, but he kept them down, not quite making eye contact. "You've got the wrong guy. I'm not the savior kind. You should know that better than anybody."

XXX

Guilt. Peter recognized it in Sylar's failure to look him in the eye. He wondered what to do with that bit of information. He recalled Sylar saying something fatuous at Kirby Plaza about how he was the hero and Peter was the villain. He wants to be the hero. A moment of frustration passed through Peter. Then why…!

He put those thoughts aside. "It's gonna happen. You're going to save her." That was the important thing. That was what he had to stay focused on. He wasn't here to punish, or pass judgment, or figure Sylar out. He was here to get him, get out, and have him save Emma, whatever it took.

XXX

What is Peter thinking? He must have a few screws loose himself. Sylar knew the reason, one Angela Petrelli, mistress of the mindfuck. Still, he persisted. Emma, huh? Well, she's dead already.

The firm reply even after Sylar picked a…painful topic had him slivers from being convinced. Still, Sylar was no fool, and he refused to be taken for one, especially by a Petrelli. Again, he reminded himself, even if this was probably the most honest of the bunch. It kind of made him want to smack the only other living human on the planet. But all he did was tilt his head up to make eye contact after the uncomfortable moment had passed, quirk his black eyebrow and give a derisive exhaled snort of breath.

Tossing away the hammer, he saw the other's eyes follow the motion (the weapon?). Out of frustration and annoyance, but mostly to shut the other man up, Sylar spat, "Fine. You really think you can get us out of here?" Here his voice dropped down nearly into his killer's raspy snarl, goading and taunting the younger man into action, even lifting his head and giving him a narrow eyed sneer. "Let me see you try."

Sylar saw Peter clench his jaw and approach, very unwillingly, but determined nonetheless, not complete without his seemingly permanent expression of annoyed hatred. Can't shake him.Placing his hand on the much taller shoulder as Sylar kept his body turned somewhat away, Peter's eyes closed and his face went calm as he focused.

While the world spun, and Sylar watched, not shutting his eyes (because it won't fucking work), pushing him forward, almost dragging him further into the room….they didn't move. Or leave to Peter's deluded fantasy "real" world. I knew it.

Peter's dark hazel eyes opened and widened in shock, quickly looking to his hand as if the appendage was to blame, his mouth gaping at words that eluded him. "See? We're not going anywhere." There was no way Sylar was letting him off the hook for pulling that stupid stunt; a good thing he hadn't let himself give in to the hope. He could have smirked had the situation not been so….unpleasant. He was, however, a little saddened, for once, to be wrong. Peter inhaled a quick, absolutely horrified breath, his hand sliding off Sylar's shoulder as if he had no strength left.

"We're trapped here forever."