Day 34, January 13, Afternoon

"Are you ever going to make your point, the reason for all the questions? Or was that all just a joke to see if I'd talk?" Being pampered took the edge of Sylar's questions. Would he ever feel stupid if that was the case, if it was a joke; his attempt at helping Peter through whatever weird therapy was turned against himself and he blabbed his secrets for some of Peter's or perhaps some stories that he didn't particularly care about. The ice pack was chilling the blood to his head via his carotid; it served the dual purpose of aiding his headache a little. He could easily curl up somewhere despite his hurts, with his companion in the vicinity or even closer. "Knowing you, you'll tell me 'I just wanted to know; that's how I am, Sylar.'" He did a credible job of imitating Peter's voice, cute frown included. "But I told you so you could tell me what you were freaking out about earlier."

XXX

"Huh?" Peter pulled himself out of his introspection. It wasn't important at the moment, anyway. Peter huffed a laugh at Sylar's imitation. "Um, it wasn't a joke, but, uh, the questions were the point. I wasn't trying to make a different one." He waited a long beat, then asked, "You thought I would tell you what was bothering me?"

XXX

"Yeah," Sylar allowed some 'duh!' to slip into his tone. He'd still fallen for it, though, knowing that Peter was asking just to know and judge and he'd still answered the questions anyway. Or maybe now I'm trying to change my reason for answering in the first place.

XXX

Peter's eyes hooded and he looked down to pick at the way his jeans were folded around his knee. "I told you most of it, part of it." He plucked at the cloth a little more. Voice lower, he continued, "I didn't have much control over my abilities before. You know that. They didn't give me any help in Level Five. Adam was … selective in what he told me. And then I lost my memories, so I didn't even have that. In Cork, my abilities were coming and going and I didn't know what I had and didn't have." He paused to chew his lip, still studying the floor and his knee aside from the occasional glance up. "I teleported us – Caitlin and me – into a city in the future. It was … an accident. The place was deserted, like here. When people found us, they were in decontamination suits and took us to a treatment facility, mostly by force. They were yelling at us, panicked, not how you should treat patients, but I doubt they were trained. We were separated – Caitlin and me. I found out a disease had been released …" He sighed. "About the time I'd teleported forward from, near the time I'd been in Cork, maybe a month later. It had spread fast and killed about … over ninety percent of the people in the world – in the entire world." He frowned up at Sylar for a long moment. "I found out later I'd been the one who released it. So, you know, obviously I went back and I didn't."

Peter chewed his lip again, hunching in on himself. He almost whispered. "But … I didn't take Caitlin back with me." He was quiet, letting Sylar work out for himself what that meant.

XXX

Sylar just…stared. A lot of things started making sense about Peter Petrelli. "That's what you meant…" he mused aloud. Unfortunately, Sylar could imagine all too well the kind of burden that entailed, killing the entire planet basically. It was so much worse than .07 percent of New York, one city and it paled beyond Sylar's personal count. I'd…freak the fuck out, too, if something like a bar and a backroom reminded me of it. While he heard the part about Peter's former fuck-buddy, his 'girlfriend' (of course that would be what Peter focused on), he had a more important question, pertaining to their current situation. "Who was immune to the disease? What was it like, do you know?" Was it like the Shanti virus? Were specials immune? Is that why we're here? /He remembered Angela telling him the quick-and-dirty, need-to-know, vague details about the virus when he went after Adam when Peter was with him./ Now this information made more sense and connected to other things Peter had said or done.

XXX

Peter gave Sylar a measuring look, then came out of his huddle somewhat. Those were questions that didn't hurt to contemplate the answers. They had nothing directly to do with his own culpability. "Um … I know it had visible symptoms, because we were examined and decontaminated. So that says a lot about its pathology. It can't have a significant incubation period if they were mainly relying on visual cues." He paused, staring off into the distance and trying to remember dry charts and facts from his epidemiology class. The more recent and easily remembered bioterrorism protocols he'd been inculcated with as an EMT weren't what Sylar was asking for, or so he thought.

He shrugged finally. "I don't think I saw enough to say. I didn't see anyone who was infected and the corpses were covered. There was hardly any quarantine period at all, but I don't know what that meant." He sighed. "I know Nathan died in the first outbreak. I know Mom was alive. I … I met her. They called her. They acted like I was so lucky to have a living relative they could call for me." He shook his head slowly at how their surprise had driven home the reality of the disaster to him. "She brought back some of my memories – early ones, family stuff, so at least I understood who I was. But the rest, like my abilities and anything recent, I was still struggling with. Then we ..." were walking and saw Caitlin and I teleported and that was it. He shook his head slowly. "That was it." He poked at the fabric on his knee again, tensing and releasing the muscles of his legs. He knew he needed to give a better explanation. In a rushed, glum, and bitter voice, he said, "I tried to get to Caitlin. They wouldn't let me, so I teleported, and ended up back here and now." Peter looked up, around the bar. "Well, sort of here and now. 'Here and now' for then, back when I'd left. Adam found me."

XXX

"Is that disease responsible for this?" Sylar twirled a finger in the air to denote the world around them. "Could it be responsible?"

XXX

Peter looked around the place and considered, including considering the possibility that his own idea of the past – carnival in danger, Sylar in a basement, Matt Parkman's mental prison – could be fabricated, as false as Sylar thinking he was Nathan. He didn't think so, but he supposed it was possible and somewhere along the line, Peter allowed that Sylar deserved the respect that his idea of reality was as valid as Peter's. After a few moments, he said, "Not that I know of. Where are your memories of it? Where are mine?" He chuckled as a particularly morbid thought struck him. "Where are all the zombies?"

XXX

Sylar tried to chuckle and choked it off quickly. It was uncomfortable to do that. "I'd say they ate each other," he grimly half-joked. "But there's no bodies and no signs of natural disaster or radiation, nothing. I don't have any memories of any of this. I was at Matt's, then I'm here. I'm not really immortal and neither are you. It's not like the world works like it used to – it's fucked up. There's no explanation," he heard his voice rising in upset because the confusion and worry was compounded from having been here so long alone, but he thought that Peter could understand that much by now. He shook his head. "I always thought I fucked it up. The world, that is. Any explanation that works is a good one, you know?" (What explains it is actually Peter's 'it's not real' thing. Didn't he call it a dream?) "Did you ever have any…connections with anyone with abilities? Like the…ones you mentioned before? Not a family member or co-worker, but a friend?"

XXX

"My life hasn't exactly been rife with friends lately, or since I got my own powers." Peter swallowed, thinking and making the assumption Sylar meant 'close friendship' for 'connection' instead of 'lover'. "There have been people I've talked with, and been friendly with - like Mohinder or Matt. Rene maybe, or Hiro. Adam, but that didn't turn out well. Neither did Matt, I guess. All I can really say is that compared to strangers, I guess we were friends. But if you mean ..." He tilted his head and looked at Sylar curiously, applying the definition to the man he was regarding. "I never lived with any of them for a month, or sat around and talked about ... anything with them. We never talked except about whatever crisis was going on right then. That's it. I hardly knew them." Which was probably why Adam had found it so easy to lead him astray.

Peter continued to study Sylar steadily. He's more my friend than any of them were or are, and I still want to beat the crap out of him ... a lot of the time. Not all the time, though. Not right now. He made a single, amused noise in his throat and looked away. Not like my family got off any better. I'm pretty rough on them, too. Am I really thinking Sylar's my friend? He smiled wryly at the floor. I've got lousy taste in friends, then. He tried the idea on like an unflattering suit. He wasn't sure what to make of it, but Peter wouldn't deny they'd built a kind of relationship in the time they'd shared here. He shrugged and glanced back to Sylar. "I don't know what ability any of them would pick to fight off the zombie hordes."

XXX

Sylar considered that and looked right back at Peter during the visual examination. The empath was probably wishing he didn't know Sylar so well and that he'd rather 'live and talk' with anyone else instead. There was nothing to be done about it, though Sylar tried not to squirm in place even after Peter quit looking at him. Sylar couldn't help his lips moving at a grin; it didn't come to completion but the rest of his face relaxed because the man's meaning was obvious and it warmed him. He doesn't trust them either. I know he's said it, but he means it. He…only works with them because…he has to. Same as me, same as anyone. That's why he never talked to them after the crises or…maybe he was too busy being a hero. He allowed the grin to bloom into a smirk. "Have you ever slept with someone with abilities? I know Simone didn't have one, but did Caitlin or Emma, anyone else?"

XXX

Peter smiled a little. "Ma fell asleep on my shoulder in a church we were hiding in overnight. But I doubt that's what you mean."

XXX

Sylar snorted. "No."

XXX

Peter studied Sylar for a moment, trying to decide how much he was willing to tell him of personal things that weren't Sylar's business in the least. Peter pursed his lips and then chewed on the lower one briefly, coming to a decision. "I haven't slept with Emma. We aren't even dating. She has an ability, but she's still trying to come to terms with it." He moved on before Sylar asked him things he wouldn't answer. "As far as I know, Simone didn't have an ability and neither did Caitlin. That's everyone, because before them, I wouldn't have known if they did." He glanced away and then back. "What happened with Elle … didn't go that far."

XXX

Wait, not sleeping with Emma? Not even dating? Why not? They're just…friends? I bet he doesn't want to be 'just' friends. And she has an ability? Please. He wants her. The old 'I'll help you control your power' move. Sylar was opening his mouth to pursue this Emma information but Peter had already moved on; clever boy.

XXX

With the intention of making sure Sylar didn't get a follow-up for details, Peter asked the question in return. "How about you?"

XXX

Sylar's smirk returned with evil promise. "Two women. You already know about Elle. I fucked Lydia, at the carnival. The empath-tattoo lady I told you about." I sort of slept with her. Almost twice. Rounding up…

XXX

Peter grimaced at the coarse way Sylar phrased it. "Did she mean anything special to you?"

XXX

Sylar frowned at him, confused by the logic. Oh, his 'fucking because you care' thing. "No. She was…with someone else who didn't like me. She had a daughter, maybe fourteen, fifteen years old – the kid had a power, so...No good mother in her right mind would keep a predator around her kid. Samuel sent her to…figure me out but she wanted me to kill Samuel. She was nice, but…for obvious reasons…" He waved it off.

XXX

Peter nodded and said nothing, wondering if there was anywhere Sylar drew the line as far as the taking of abilities was concerned. In Peter's own bout with it, he'd turned on brother and mother without hesitation. Peter knew Sylar had gone after Claire when she was no older than sixteen. No one in their right mind would let Sylar loose on the world, he thought bitterly.

XXX

"Who would you pick to have here, if you could have any woman? No family members. It has to be someone you can fuck, someone you know. Emma?" he asked the last like it would be a scandal if Peter chose otherwise.

XXX

Peter's brows rose. "'Someone I can fuck'?" he repeated. "That's a pretty crass way to put it." He waited a few disapproving beats. "Maybe Nurse Hammer, so she can help me deal with you," he said sourly, but he laughed at the end, making light of it. He looked away and sighed, letting a moment pass before answering, "Caitlin. Not because I'd be saving her – well, not just because it would save her – but because I thought … You talk about connections? I thought I had one with her. Or that I could have had one." Peter frowned and reached over to pick at the brace, thinking they'd been sitting long enough and really ought to go.

XXX

It took him several seconds to place Nurse Hammer – the large black nurse he'd impersonated at Mercy. Sylar assumed that was a joke. Ah. So it's Caitlin he wants. I don't know if that's better for my chances or worse. Despite his concerns, he wanted to know. "Describe her."

XXX

Peter scratched along the edge of the brace. He'd gotten it wet at some point in the mopping and although it had dried, it was now itchy, probably due to soap suds. "She was … Irish. About my height, shoulder-length, curly-wavy reddish-brown hair. Green eyes, pale skin, freckles." He smiled softly, looking at Sylar's feet but seeing something entirely other. "She was quick. And smart. She had a mouth on her, and I mean that as far as verbally, so don't get any ideas. You would have liked her wit. She was good with people, but she saw things as they were, too. She gave me a chance. She gave me a lot of chances. She liked me just as I was, without any of the past or the abilities or the other reasons. She wanted me to be … family. Hers, maybe." Peter glanced up at Sylar and shrugged one shoulder. "I basically told her yes." He'd agreed and she'd inked him, though all her careful, beautiful work was washed away within minutes of finishing.

He sighed and changed the subject pointedly. "Who would you choose to be here with?"

XXX

It made him depressed, intrigued and a little warm all at once to hear Peter talk about his misplaced girlfriend or…fiancée? Sylar knew he couldn't live up to that. If Peter liked her so much, he almost wished to meet her. The regard Peter had for her was clear: she actually sounded like a decent human being. "I'd pick a…doctor I knew. Dr. Gibson."

XXX

"A doctor?" Peter asked. That was surprising, given the aversion Sylar seemed to have to all things medical. But maybe Gibson wasn't a medical doctor. "How do you know them?" Although he used a generic pronoun, Peter assumed Gibson was female, given Sylar's previous statements linking 'women' to 'someone you can fuck', as though the male gender were mysteriously off-limits. It was a weird attitude to have when coupled with Sylar's offers to couple with Peter.

XXX

"She was at the police station when they found me after…um…I barely knew her. The police chief wanted to torture me into confessing and she wanted to talk – you'd like her," he said wryly. "She had an English accent and thought my hearing," Sylar pointed to his ear, "hearing clocks, was cool. She kind of helped jailbreak me. I had a gun at the end, but she didn't flinch. She…saw I had abilities and she let me go; it wasn't like she had a power or anything. I guess if I brought her here she'd be safe," Sylar sent a checking look to Peter. "It's safer now," he insisted about himself and the world. "No…car accidents, no natural disaster, no Company, no powers…" Actually, the more he thought about it, she would only need protecting from himself and from Peter, who, even if he had a girl of his own, would probably steal Sylar's – there was no guarantee she'd like him, Sylar, anyway. He rubbed at his forehead, "Maybe not. Just…thinking out loud."

XXX

Peter nodded. "Now that you mention it, that was one of the things I liked about Caitlin. She saw my abilities, but they didn't scare her. And unlike her brother, she wasn't leaping at having me use them to benefit her. Not that he was all that bad about it. She just ..." He shook his head and shrugged. "I could read her mind now and then. She liked me." He said it like it was astonishing that someone might appreciate him for himself because, well, it was. It wasn't about his family or connections or money or looks. Not that Caitlin had minded his appearance, but she didn't covet it; it was a benefit, but not a trophy to her.

"Come on." He gestured at the bag Sylar was holding to his throat. "Let's ditch the carrots and get moving."

XXX

No, Sylar decided. He wanted this perfect lost girl kept far away. Wherever she was, she could stay there. There was no way he could stomach Peter in love with someone right in front of him while Sylar had nothing and no one. He was a little irritated his choice had been ignored. Your abilities don't scare me, he thought with determination. He stood, replacing the carrots in the freezer, and followed after Peter. Once outside, Peter waited for him so he led the way towards the bridge and Home Depot.

XXX

"Where are we headed?" Peter asked as they took off in the same direction they'd been going before. "I think we should go back to the apartment for now. I don't want to get stuck out here after dark, or have to walk back late." He was concerned about Sylar's stamina for it and not too wild about the prospect himself – especially when he wasn't sure how much further the place was, or how the weather might turn as the day wore on. It was cloudy at the moment, which could turn to snow at any point, or clear up, or remain the same. He put on his headband and slipped on his gloves.

XXX

Slightly irritated, Sylar paused before reorienting them towards the Pegasus. It was going to bother him if he'd unintentionally ruined their errand – how many times had they tried to finish one stupid project? What he said was, "So you're not dating Emma. Do you want to be?"

XXX

"I wouldn't have minded. She's nice." It was about the blandest answer Peter could give. He hoped Sylar would get the hint.

XXX

"Does she like you?"

XXX

Peter frowned. "I broke her cello – busted it all over her living room floor, the instrument someone gave her as a gift. We're not even on speaking terms anymore, Sylar. Why do you want to know?"

XXX

"You came here to save her or get her back, so I want to know what she means to you." I might need to know what she means to you, what I'm dealing with here. "I want to know about her, so I'm asking. That's what normal people do, isn't it?"

XXX

Peter grumped, grunted, and shrugged. "Fine. What do you want to know?"

XXX

Excellent. Peter bought it, as Sylar had expected he would. "Where do you know her from?"

XXX

Peter couldn't help being prickly, suspicious, and defensive about the whole subject. "I think the first time she really paid attention to me was when I saved her from being run over by a bus." Maybe he could distract Sylar by telling him that story, but even that would lead to the information Emma was deaf, a weakness Peter didn't want to reveal.

XXX

Sylar rolled his eyes. Typical. Fucking damsel in distress. Or maybe he just goes around perceiving catastrophes he needs to avert. It was a line of questioning he'd have to explore another time, after more thought. "How do you know she has an ability?"

XXX

"Would you drop it, Sylar?" Peter snapped in exasperation. "We were just talking about how no one in their right mind would let you around their kid if the kid had an ability. Well, Emma has one. And it's not dangerous or defensive or anything that will warn her you're coming her way. I'm not going to tell you where to find her or why you should. She's a human being in danger and I know her personally, so I care about her even if she's never 'someone I can fuck'."

XXX

"Hey!" Sylar protested in affront. "I wasn't asking where you 'thought' she is, or was, or where to find her. She doesn't exist except as a figment of your mind. And I don't kill kids, thank you very much. I told you, I let three or more of them go and treated them well. I took care of some of them, died for them sometimes. What I said earlier was about Lydia's mothering skills - just because people won't let me near them or their children doesn't mean I'm going to do something. Hell, I was free to roam around her kid, who was still alive when I left." He allowed that to sink in before continuing, "Now, I want to know how you know she has an ability – obviously you saw it or you have it, either or both." An expectant look was aimed at Peter. "So, what is her ability?"

XXX

Peter huffed, rolled his eyes, and stomped along quietly for a while, chin tucked to his chest as he considered what Sylar had said. So Sylar didn't kill children. Little help that was, given that Emma was an adult. But it was worth something. Peter wondered if he could talk Sylar into not wanting Emma's power. Sylar had a good point about how she wasn't in any immediate danger – at least not from him, not here. "Her ability lets her see sound as colors."

XXX

Sylar stared for an extra few seconds. Are you kidding me…? "That's it? That's useless!" All this fuss for a lady who sees sound as colors? How annoying!

XXX

Good. Glad you think so. Peter shrugged and kept his chin tucked. "It's an ability. Does it matter to you how useful it is?"

XXX

"Eh, sometimes." Questions in this vein were complete, for now – he moved on seamlessly, "Why did you hit me just then?"

XXX

Peter lifted his head to look Sylar over – mainly just his face, neck, and chest. They were walking fairly close to one another, within arm's reach. Peter noted the proximity only because of the subject of hitting. "I told you to stop and you didn't. You were," he quirked a brow, "escalating. So was I, I suppose." That's what I do when I can't figure out how else to resolve a situation.

XXX

"Huh," Sylar grunted, acknowledging that he'd heard. It had been nice, getting to ask his questions and bother Peter a bit, mostly without incurring damage, lethal, lasting or cumulative. Now he wanted to think about it. Bed sounded like a welcome destination, especially since he got to share it.

XXX

Sylar said nothing for the next block and looked to be continuing that trend into the next. Peter eventually asked, "Does it matter to you how useful or powerful an ability is, when you're deciding whether to take one or let them live?"

XXX

"What, you mean about Emmy?"

XXX

"Emma!" Peter corrected testily. He shot Sylar a look, beginning to think the guy was messing with him about her name. He seemed to remember everyone else just fine. "And no, I meant about anyone, not her specifically."

XXX

Sylar smirked a bit about that and continued, answering the question. "Not in this case. In this case, I'm just curious. I like abilities. If you're asking about how it was with my ability, with people around, then I have to know if you're 'still asking now' because you already punched me and you might not like the answer."

XXX

Peter's next look was more uncertain than anything else. He didn't get what Sylar was asking for, aside from a 'don't hit me for my answer'. He frowned, wondering what Sylar could blurt out that would deserve a punch. Maybe it's something about me and my old ability? If that were the case, then Peter didn't think Sylar was in any danger. "Yes, I'm still asking now."

XXX

He spared a side-eyed glance at Peter, considering it. Perhaps they were developing something of an understanding or at least a similar code. It depends how…much my ability is pushing me. It depends on my options. (I've taken ones I've never even used…). "I haven't come across many that I've turned down, consciously or otherwise. But I have turned some down before. I do…choose the better ones, I like to think." Just as he chose his words carefully, changing 'target' to 'choose.' Peter was awfully sensitive about word choices sometimes, even though the man abused the concept himself and waffled on it, with words like 'fucking.' 'How crass of me!' Sylar checked his companion again, seeing how that was being accepted (or not).

XXX

"Huh," Peter grunted. There was nothing about the statements he found provocative, which was both a relief and a concern, since it meant Sylar still had no idea of what sort of things caused Peter to react. Yet he'd asked, just a few minutes earlier, about the punch Peter had thrown in the pub – asking was a good sign. "What about mine? The new one, the one I have n-, yeah, well, sort of now. I don't know. I haven't tried to swap it, if I even can." He wasn't sure if he'd survive if he were able to do it – where would his mind go? Would it get split like Sylar with part of him residing in comatose Sylar's brain and part of him running around in his body? What would that be like? What would Matt do about it? Could he fix it? That sparked a new thought. "You didn't kill Matt Parkman when you had the chance, and his ability is really useful."

XXX

Sylar didn't want to address the half-voiced question about Parkman, so he went with the other. "What about your power? I don't want it."

XXX

Peter frowned, which he thought was a dumb expression to have on his face. It was the rejection, the 'you're not good enough', that he took from Sylar's comment even if Peter didn't want to take it that way. "Good," he said more roughly than he intended. He took a deep breath and let it out, trying to shed the insecurity with it. It would help if he had more information. "Is there a reason?"

XXX

"Are y-?" Sylar straightened as a new thought struck him and he looked at Peter differently, wonderingly, like things made sense. "No, how could you. You said you never took a power with my ability. My ability is understanding how things work." He paused to see if that connected with Peter in any way. "When I use my…. method, my body copies the power, but I also understand how to use it. There's very little…'experimenting' I need to do. With your method," and he tried to say that without being excruciatingly condescending, "you just copy the power and you have problems like being unable to control or use it or, like you said, even knowing you have it. That's why my control will always be better than yours because I'm not getting unknown, unstable abilities just by brushing shoulders with people. That's why I don't want your power."

Sylar checked his partner, almost eagerly for several paces. It was making his head and neck throb but it was worth it and the cold helped. "I wonder if that's the difference between us. I've always had to control myself and you haven't – precision versus quantity…Whether you believe it or not, I do control myself." I wish I didn't have to or have to as much but…there it is, he thought enviously without admitting it. "The strange thing is that I got a virus that wiped all my powers and when I fixed it, I still had my original. And when /Dad/ took your abilities and you took that synthetic one, you still got empathy."

XXX

Peter's head bobbed once in a nod, but otherwise they walked in silence for a while. Sylar might have thought the subject was dropped, but far from it. Peter was feeling his way through it, remembering what it felt like to gain a new ability with both his original and the later power. The original had felt like almost nothing at all – a wisp, a faint stirring inside of him – but once he knew what to feel for, he'd felt it a few times. His later power was much more … tactile. It gave him sensation on the skin of his hand and racing through his veins. It felt good, like a drug hit, and sometimes he even shut his eyes during the taking, though it seemed inappropriate and rude to the person he was borrowing from to let on how much he liked it.

"But, what if you-" No, that's stupid. Don't ask him that. He frowned severely, watching the road in front of his feet as they walked. But he was going to ask anyway. "I mean, it's not that I'm suggesting you do this, but if you did ..." He glanced over at Sylar a couple times, intent and questioning without having asked the question. He's not an idiot. He must have thought of this already. It's not like I'm giving him a new idea. I'm just asking why he's not interested. That's it, right? (I don't think I should care so much that he's interested.) "If you … took my ability … then wouldn't yours still work?" He shrugged shoulders tense from the thought of his own murder. "You'd be able to understand whatever you got, right?" He went on, speaking a little faster, "Like if it was my original ability. Yours would still work. You'd still know any power you got that way?" The end of the sentence lilted up in question even the exact words didn't reflect one.

Is that my destiny? To let him get more powers without having to kill people? But then … I'd be dead. Peter sighed unhappily. If it saved other's lives, if it saved Emma's life … would I do it? "Would that … guarantee that you wouldn't have to kill people anymore?" He asked hesitantly, not sure what to do with the answer.

XXX

Sylar raised an eyebrow, meeting the look cast his way. He deduced the reason for the other man's hesitance, what with the direction the conversation was going, but let Peter voice it in his own time mostly because Sylar was so surprised to hear it. Did it involve what he suspected it did? Is that an invitation? I know he says he's not suggesting it but…it's the way he's wording this…Peter's motive became clear at the end – a relief of sorts that Peter wasn't that suicidal. Casually, testing, Sylar dissembled, playing a little dumb, "I don't have my powers right now and you don't have your original ability."

XXX

"I know that!" Peter said testily. "But I don't think it will always be that way. I can't think it will." Then he snapped, "You're avoiding the question again!" Sylar's evasion about something so important pissed him off. Peter was considering sacrificing himself (not at the moment, of course, but later) and to get some vague non-answer went all through him, like not even his life deserved a direct answer.

XXX

Sylar smirked humorlessly. He'd wanted to know how Peter really felt about that…concept he was putting forward and now he knew. "I don't think that would work. There's…lots of reasons why," he artfully omitted his own intermittent empathy and acquisition of powers he didn't intrinsically understand, "but the primary one is that you didn't understand the abilities you got with your power. That's like expecting your power to work differently just because it's in my brain – you've had my ability and it acted the same, I think. I've never had two abilities work at the same time, except my ability with another power plus regeneration; that type of thing. I had chances to take your power…I guess I, or my ability, wasn't interested." He shrugged because it could be very useful but it didn't help him fulfill his end goal and sate his hungry desire. "I want the understanding. Sometimes my ability is smarter than I am."

XXX

Peter frowned severely at him. He was still angry – not only had his possible solution been trashed, but Sylar was still not answering one of Peter's core concerns, which was whether he'd kill him as soon as they were out of here and back in the real world. "You sure seemed interested back in Mohinder's apartment!" Irritation strongly flavored his voice. He wasn't happy about being murdered, either. Beating the crap out of Sylar would do a lot to even the score there, and maybe it would do something about his unacknowledged fears as well. He balled and released his left fist and his stride became springy as tension ramped him up. But … wait … "What happened after I died then? What did you do? Why didn't you take my ability then?" The questions came rapid-fire as Peter realized he didn't know what had happened between the time the glass lodged in his skull and when Mohinder had brought him to Petrelli residence. Did he really pass me by? Is he serious about that? "How did Mohinder survive?"

XXX

Sylar just huffed. It was the allure, and what's more, the display of Peter's other powers at the time that had tempted him to try to kill Peter, not the least of which was the fact that he'd survived throwing them off the high school stadium, possessed regeneration and other abilities. "If I didn't tell you before, I think you've exceeded the limit for asking questions about the past," he intoned like he was in control.

XXX

"Asking, maybe, but you haven't answered any of them!" Peter canted his body towards Sylar as they walked, punctuating his words by gesturing widely with sharp, agitated motions. "Answer me for fucking once!" If Sylar was compelled to obey him, then he would, right? "What did you do after I died?" he repeated doggedly. "You were going to take my ability before, so why didn't you once I couldn't stop you?" Wait, what if he can't take an ability from someone who's dead? Peter hesitated, brows pulling together. "Why did ..." But maybe he didn't let Mohinder get away? What if Mohinder got away on his own? (Carrying me? … Or maybe he came back for me.) What if I'm giving Sylar too much credit here and Mohinder not enough? Peter cocked his head, asking with more curiosity than exasperation, "How did Mohinder get away from you again?"

XXX

This time Sylar growled under his breath. The answer was beyond embarrassing, so he didn't explain it. "Mohinder can be a slippery bastard. He got lucky and took you away. I was after the list anyway, but you…literally walked into it and fell into my lap, so…" Sylar's eyes scanned up and down Peter briefly because they were walking and his head was pounding worse. He was not going to put up much of a fight if Peter attacked today. The young empath's brain and pluck had been delicious back then. Sylar had enjoyed that brief struggle, a sign that his prey wasn't weak, was someone to play with. "Don't worry. Mohinder is on my list." A tilt of his head before he added amused and confiding, "Though he's not at the top."

XXX

He got lucky? Peter watched Sylar scope him out. 'My lap' … 'slippery' … 'on my list' – Huh. It's sexual, is it? The taking of powers, or something else? No, I think it's something else. Sylar, laughing at Peter while Peter hit him, came to mind. It's something else. "What kind of list is that?" Peter asked with an undisguised, beat for beat copy of how Sylar had just looked at him. Peter was still plenty amped up, but the admission that Mohinder had bested Sylar somehow had taken a lot of the anger out of him, even if the upshot of the answer was that Sylar had not 'passed him by' in any intentional sense. It put Peter right back to where he'd started in thinking he would likely be a victim if they ever got out of here. He wasn't done making digs, though. "Who tops your … list?" he said, his delivery not as deadpan as he wanted it to be.