Sylar tried not to be too obvious in his perusal of Peter's flushed, half-naked body as the other man exited the bathroom. He decided that seeing Peter's perfectly smooth and sculpted physique was something else he could acquire a taste for. He'd certainly been seeing a lot of it lately. He wondered if the skin was as soft as it looked.
He had never touched another man's naked body before. Thought about it. Had looked forward to it even, but that road trip had been cut short on account of poisoned tea.
Oh well, it was probably for the best. He wouldn't have wanted something real back then, anyway. Even if he had, Mohinder was too much of a cold-blooded scientist to ever be truly trustworthy. His loyalty went to whoever funded his research. And then there was that bit about Mohinder's father.
Ah, the irony. Another road trip, another beautifully androgynous young man, and another murdered father. At least Peter didn't seem to be holding that against him. And he really was beautiful. Painfully, breathtakingly so. Sylar's gaze wandered down to the cheap, too small, and washed too many times towel around Peter's hips. He could easily see the outline of Peter's glutes as he bent to pick up the TV's remote control. He wondered...
Sylar quickly stood up, clearing his throat. "I, uh, ordered a pizza, drinks. There's cash here. It may come while I'm in the shower." Keeping his eyes on the floor, he moved towards the bathroom. Peter's hand on his arm stopped him.
"I had to wash my clothes, what's left of them anyway. They're drying. Do you have anything I could sleep in?" His hand moved slowly down Sylar's arm to his wrist before pulling away.
"Yeah, sure." Sylar handed Peter some shorts and an undershirt from his bag.
Peter turned the black cloth over in his hands bemusedly. So this is what it's come to, he thought. I'm wearing his underwear.
"Thanks," he spoke aloud, a half smile on his face.
An hour later Peter lay on his bed eating sausage and mushroom pizza and watching Sylar do the same on his bed. The Cartoon Network played half-noticed on the TV in front of them. They were wearing identical black tank tops. Peter would have been more comfortable in a pair of pajama pants like Gabriel was wearing instead of the boxer briefs he had been handed, but he supposed he shouldn't complain, given the circumstances.
He had settled on calling him Gabriel in his head since the man kept on saving his life. What else was he supposed to do? It was hard to harbor feelings of resentment over a near scalping that happened in what felt like another lifetime when faced with the reality of a man who stubbornly kept on being there when you needed him the most.
He was impressed at Gabriel's taking of an army satellite computer, and chagrined that he hadn't thought of doing it himself. Surely he had had opportunities? He needed to be smarter if he was going to out think the United States fucking military. Christ! A big part of him just wanted to pout and scream and rail against The Powers That Be, his brother, that had unfairly brought him to this place, but Sylar - Gabriel was right.
He had to think about Claire and his mom. Eventually their free passes would. run. out. That was how these things always went, and they didn't have aggressive powers. They were smart and resourceful and downright scary when they wanted to be, but in the end his mother was just a middle aged woman with prophetic dreams and his niece, regenerative power or no, was just a teenager who may or may not become a deadly assassin, but sure as hell wasn't one now.
Right now they needed him, and he needed someone too. Someone he could count on. To stand beside him. Watch his back. Someone powerful. Someone he could trust.
What he really needed was someone to hold him back from doing the stupid shit that always got him into situations he couldn't get out of. He also realized that maybe he needed someone who was heartless when he couldn't be, who wouldn't care who they had to kill to survive.
God, he missed what Nathan used to be for him. He hadn't realized how dependent he was on having an older brother, until that brother turned into their father right before his eyes.
And now Nathan's my enemy, and my enemy is my protector.
Peter closed his eyes as the craziness of the situation threatened to derail him. He breathed steadily and looked again at the man in the next bed.
The enemy of my enemy.
Peter remembered how protective Gabriel could be. Primatech. Pinehearst. He could be loyal too, as long as he didn't find out he was being manipulated.
But Peter wasn't like his parents. He didn't want to use Gabriel as a weapon to dispose of when necessary. He wanted to team up with him. He wanted a partner. Embarrassed as his horny mind made a double entendre with accompanying illustration of male partnering, Peter set down his pizza crust. Now was not a good time for his tendencies to be showing. Never mind how warped it made that hug in the future seem.
He could see it now. Mid-fuck and he'd flash back to that fight in the hallway at Primatech. (I'm your brother Peter, you've got to listen to me.) Rolling his eyes at the imagery, Peter let his mind wander to another time that Gabriel had saved him, from Mohinder at Pinehearst. (It's what brothers do, Peter. They look out for each other.) Like he was quoting from a goddamn rule book.
God, that's sad.
Peter knew what it was like to have a brother look out for you. Gabriel didn't, not really. But it was pretty obvious that he wanted to. He wanted something.
Peter took a drink from his soda and made the first verbal sound in what felt like an eternity.
"Why did you come and get me? This time I mean. Why were you so determined to have me live?"
"You don't like to waste time with the small talk, do you Peter?" Sylar asked, setting his pizza down and wiping his hands on a napkin.
"Well, I suppose I could start off easy, like 'What were you doing in the neighbourhood? Where did you spend your Christmas break? Did you run into any army guys? And hey, way to go at stealing their cool high tech gadgetry,' but come on Sylar. It's the middle of the night. We're hiding out together in Pennsylvania. You just saved me from a grisly death, and I'm wearing your damn boxer briefs. The least you could do is open up a little." Peter moved so that he was sitting cross-legged on his bed facing the other man.
"Point taken," Sylar responded. He purposefully set the destroyed napkin aside and looked at Peter directly for the first time in almost an hour. The younger man had that motionless, intense expression on his face. The one that made Sylar feel very... uncomfortable. When he spoke, his voice started out low and flat.
"I'm on a road trip. The ultimate myth. The hero's quest for long lost dad. I even had a sidekick named Luke for a while. A teenaged human microwave, before I sent him home, unharmed, to his mommy.
"I found my real father. It was a nightmare. He was a lot like yours, actually. Evil, but a hermit, hiding from the world in a crappy trailer filled with dead animals he had stuffed. We spent all day taxidermying a rabbit and discussing the finer points of human nature. Then he nailed me to a wall with crossbow arrows and tried to take my power of regeneration so he could go off and have some kind of late in life killing spree and power grabbing quest. Again, much like Arthur. I objected to this and left him there in his pathetic little hole, dying of emphysema." Unable to maintain eye contact, he focused on the ceiling and took a deep steadying breath to continue.
"I'd run into the army many times until I took one of their handy little devices. Why your altercation happened to be in my backyard, I cannot say. Providence most likely. If I still believed in that stuff. I saved you..." Sylar paused, searching for words that wouldn't give away too much, finally deciding for simple truth.
"I saved you because I did not want you to die." He rolled his head on his shoulders enough to meet Peter's eyes again. "And I really do not like seeing you have to kill." There was a pause. "And I don't want to be alone."
Spooked by his own admission, Sylar sat up and turned away. He cracked his neck and rubbed his legs nervously, before gripping his hands together between his knees. His head hung as he thought about what he had just said. What was it about Peter that made him feel the need to bare his soul?
"I don't want to end up alone," he whispered a minute later, as though speaking to himself. "A dried up, crazy, bitter old husk like my father because I'm nothing but a killer, and a monster. And I don't even enjoy that anymore because it's pointless. And meaningless." His eyes widened with realization.
"But I don't have anything else," he continued, voice rising with emotion. "Because I'm nothing. Nothing! But a soulless, heartless, killing machine." The last was said with desolation. Sylar's breath was shaky and his eyes blinked with unshed tears.
Peter felt stunned, horrified, and hopeful in turn. Jesus, talk about opening up. After a moment of silent processing, Peter closed his mouth, swallowed, made as if to speak, stopped, turned his head to the side and scrunched his face up, before turning back and starting again.
"Well, we can work on that," he promised.
Sylar, incredulous, turned and quirked an eyebrow at Peter. We can work on that? The fuck? Seriously? First one noise, then another escaped him, before Sylar finally broke down in helpless laughter.
"Yeah Peter, let's work on that. Ha!"
A smile fought loose from Peter's mouth. Yeah, he had to admit it. That was pretty lame. Soon both men were rolling around, laughing hysterically. And if they were also crying a little, no one mentioned it.
Nothing was said again until they had settled down to sleep. The only light was coming from the television, whose volume had been turned down low. Peter lay on his side facing Sylar's bed. "So how long have you been on your own?" he asked.
Sylar turned over and put his arm under his head. "Just a few days. You?"
"The last couple days have been pretty busy. You got all that from me before, right? About us questioning Noah? Nathan, Emile Danko... all that..." 'Crap that he didn't want to talk about' went unspoken. Not like it was important. Just drugging his niece's father. Treating him like the enemy. Threatening a federal agent and telling his brother to go to hell. That's all. Just another day in the nightmare that was his life now.
Sylar nodded, not mentioning that he had also gotten Peter's emotions about the events. Anguish. Rage. Despair. Abandonment.
"Yeah, well, before that... it was weeks on my own," Peter went on.
"A lot, yeah."
"I probably have a bit more experience with life on the run than you do."
Peter gave a small smirk. "Maybe you should write the rest of us a manual." He looked down, depressed by his own joke. He focused intently on his fingers as they stroked the blanket. "I don't want to be alone anymore either," he said softly.
"You don't have to be," was the solemn reply.
Peter regarded him with openness and longing. "Can I... I mean, don't take this the wrong way, but... Can I come over there with you? You know, to sleep?" he asked quietly.
"You want to sleep. Over here. With me?" Sylar said haltingly. He made his expression suspicious to belie the increasing tempo of his heart. Is this a come on? he asked himself. Wouldn't that be a little fast?
"Didn't I just say 'don't take this the wrong way?' It's called comfort, Sylar. Surely you've heard of it. It's something brothers do," Peter said defensively, already regretting his impulse.
"We're not brothers," the older man said gruffly. Definitely not a come on.
"I know. But you just went out of your way to save my life. Rather dramatically in fact. And, you as good as promised to keep doing it. I'm pretty sure that makes us something," Peter said earnestly.
"As in 'I save your life and it belongs to me now?' That's only in the movies, Peter." I am not a fucking security blanket, Sylar thought. Even Luke knew better than to ask me to share a bed. Trust Peter Petrelli to try and take a mile.
"Look, just because I saved your ass, don't expect me to hold your hand while you cry yourself to sleep. I am not Nathan," he told the younger man.
"Fine. Forget I asked. I don't know what I was thinking." Peter turned away, angry and embarrassed. He pulled his blanket up over his shoulders. He hoped he did have nightmares, now. Just like he had been worried about. Big, loud, relentless ones that kept the both of them up all night.
After a few uncomfortable minutes, Sylar's voice floated through the dark room. "I suppose this comfort does involve some form of hugging or... cuddling."
Peter rolled onto his back. "Usually. That is the point of being in the same bed." He heard an enormous sigh.
"Fine, but you do realize that if there is any of that... I get to be the big spoon."
"What?" Peter asked, looking at the other man, whose focus was on the ceiling again.
"Spooning. If there is any spooning, I am the big one. Unless you really did change your mind..."
"Oh, right, sure," Peter stuttered, getting out of his bed. He crossed the distance between them in two steps, and then just stood there, frozen. Jesus, are we really about to... Peter tried to slow down his breathing.
Sylar's eyes moved, finally meeting his own. "Get in here before I change my mind," he ordered, lifting the covers and sliding backwards a little. "And no crying."
Peter held back a smile and climbed into the bed. Sylar was a good liar, but Peter was learning how to read him. His grudging act was just that, an act. He was as lonely as Peter was. Had admitted to it. He just didn't seem to know how to fix it.
Well that's okay, Peter thought, settling down near the edge of the mattress. We can work on that.
He very purposefully scooted back a few inches and waited. After what seemed like forever there was movement behind him. Peter held his breath.
A hand loomed for an instant before settling on the mattress in front of him, the attached arm coming down to lay heavy and secure across his waist. He sighed quietly. Gradually, they moved closer together. The larger man wrapped around him, until finally there was no space left between them, arms and legs and chins tucking in. For the first time in forever Peter felt like he could sleep.
They both did.