Days passed, then weeks, and finally, months. So many things happened that drew them closer together. The argued over things and they made up. They staged contests with one another, pushing and shoving and jockeying for dominance. Sylar lost most of the physical exercises, but he sure had fun bending Peter over the weight-lifting equipment afterward. Peter laughingly called it the 'consolation prize', but he gave it up gladly. The tables were turned in when the subject matter was trivia, riddles and word games. Sylar started letting his guard down and telling about his life - what was really important - in the discussions that followed.

Peter taught Sylar new songs on the piano, sitting next to each other not too differently from how he'd sat next to Emma. Emma was someone he finally felt safe enough to discuss, telling what he knew of her life, what kind of person she was, and that she, too, had an ability. Sylar showed Peter how to do basic repairs on a mantel clock - something he'd never done with anyone. He liked having a student as much as Peter liked rekindling the memories of the larger world. In an empty movie theatre, staring at the depressingly blank screen, Sylar told the stories of the father figures in his life, what he'd wanted out of them, and how he hadn't gotten it. Peter listened and he didn't judge. Instead, he told about his own, just as twisted and conflicted, and they shared the difficulty in finding one's way when those who are meant to lead you instead set so many barriers in your path. They talked about mothers - the strangest and most infuriatingly mysterious of beasts. And finally, they talked about brothers, setting aside the past and reaching peace.


Three years later (Five years from Peter's entry into Sylar's mind) …

They lay together in the park, rolled up in the blanket they'd thought they'd lie on for their picnic. It had been too cold for that, though, so this was how they'd ended up. They made a ridiculous burrito, with only heads sticking out of the end, pillowed by their folded jackets. Peter was spooned behind Sylar, their feet uneven, but shoulders and heads roughly level. They were warm and surprisingly comfortable in the chilly air. It was improbable, silly moments like these when Sylar thought it made perfect sense for all of this to be some kind of mental trip.

"You've never thought any of this was real, did you?"

Peter was silent, snaking a hand around to rest on Sylar's stomach. "I've never thought that this place we're in is real."

Sylar smiled slyly, appreciating Peter's careful word choice more than he let on. "What will you do, if you finally wake up?"

Peter exhaled sharply and Sylar could imagine him pursing his lips, even though he couldn't see his face to be sure. "I'll try to save Emma."

Ever the hero. He loved that about Peter, honestly. It made him dependable, reliable and trustworthy once Sylar had finally wrapped his mind around why and how that motivated his lover. Until then, it had just been erratic, but Sylar had come to understand it. There was something different, though, that he still needed to understand. He needed to know how Peter saw their future. "It's been years since you came here. What if all of that's over?"

Peter was quiet for a moment, withdrawing his hand to Sylar's side and rubbing up and down in short, uneasy strokes. Obviously, he didn't like the idea. "I guess I'd … try to get in touch with my old life. My mom. I figure my apartment would be gone again."

"So …" Sylar had to clear his throat to keep it from cracking, "So it would be like nothing had ever happened here?"

"No," Peter denied firmly, wrapping his arm around him completely and hugging him tight. Sylar felt relief flood through him. "Would you come live with me?" Peter asked so earnestly it hurt. "If we got out?"

"In your apartment?"

"I guess. My old one might be gone. And anyway, I'd get another if you were moving in with me." His hand stroked slowly up and down Sylar's chest and he rested his lips on his shoulder, kissing lightly, begging, in Peter's way.

Fuck, that's … moving in together? That's kind of like a proposal. I did want to know how he felt about us … "We keep different apartments here. I thought you liked it that way," Sylar said, a little afraid at the change in commitment level Peter was suggesting. Hypothetically, though. This is all hypothetical.

Peter replied, "That's because no one else is here. If we were outside, among everyone, then I'd want to have somewhere I could go … retreat to, with you, where it was just us, like here. I'd want to live with you. Like here." He gave Sylar another tight hug in emphasis. "All of here is living with you."

Insecurities soothed and ego pumped, Sylar teased, "Maybe I don't want to live in your apartment."

Peter snorted and shot back, "Fine. I'll live in yours. You got one?"

"I'll get one."

"Okay. Can I live there?" Peter sounded positively eager, which made butterflies tremble in Sylar's stomach.

Sylar laughed. "Yes, Peter, you can live there."

Peter snuggled in, happily rubbing his face on the nape of Sylar's neck. "Good." They lay quietly for a while as Sylar tried to decide if he'd just agreed to something, or if it was just 'hypothetical'. Peter interrupted his contemplation by asking, "Did you have anywhere in mind? City, neighborhood …?"

Sylar shrugged and exhaled, thinking it over. Now that they were making plans for 'getting out', it seemed almost real, like it was something that might truly happen. Where would I want to be, if I could be anywhere? I know New York best. Peter's mother is there and he wouldn't want to be too far away from her. It's not like getting anywhere else in the world would put me out of her reach. I don't want to be in some random apartment like anyone else. Nathan's apartment is right out. So's Isaac's loft - too many murders there. "Who do you think is in the Deveaux penthouse these days?"

"Uh? … um, no one, I figure. I guess the Deveaux Foundation still owns it."

Sylar nodded, already working it out in his head. "That's where I'd like to be. It's big, spacious, plenty of room for my work. We wouldn't crowd each other. And I know you like rooftops. I like places with memories. It works."

"How do you know about the Deveaux place?"

Sylar laughed again. "He was one of the old Petrelli family friends, you know. Nathan went up there personally shilling for money for his campaign. A few days later, you were hired as Charles' personal nurse. Funny how that works." Nathan actually had no idea why Charles Deveaux had rushed out to hire Peter within days of agreeing to a very modest contribution to Nathan's campaign. But he was sure it wasn't a coincidence. Sylar added, "It's a special place. That's why I want to live there."

"Okay," Peter answered. "Then we'll go there." He said it as firmly as though they were settling on tomorrow's adventures.

Sylar turned a little to look back at Peter. "What would you do - continue heroing?"

Peter lifted his head so he could be seen. "I think I'd still be a paramedic, yeah. I liked it. I was helping people. What would you do?"

That was something Sylar had given considerable thought to over the previous months. Not that he'd been thinking they'd ever return to a populated world, but it was just one of those 'what if' scenarios he liked to amuse himself with when alone. He'd been having more and more of those in regards to the mysterious 'elsewhere' world Peter thought existed outside of here. "I think I'd buy and sell collectibles and antiquities, unique items and works of art. Special things." His voice caught briefly. He cleared his throat and added, "I'd keep them in the world for other people to see and enjoy. I could sell them to rich people and museums, who could put them on display. Or maybe lease them. I'd have to research however they go about doing that."

"Hey, that's a really good idea."

Why, thank you, Peter, for your ringing endorsement. But despite his mental sarcasm, Sylar preened inside that Peter approved. It made it seem doable. Maybe this could work. He dipped his head, facing forward again to hide his blush. "I'd know if they were the real thing, from my powers. You'd help me, wouldn't you …?" He felt, rather than saw, Peter cock his head, probably trying to work out what sort of help Sylar was asking for. Biting back his pride, because this was really fucking important and he trusted Peter more than anyone or anything, he elaborated very quietly, "Help me so I was collecting things instead of powers?"

"Yes," Peter answered, voice deep and sure. "Always."

Sylar exhaled and reached around to find Peter's hand. "Always?" he asked with a tilt of his own head. There was a certain, definite implication to 'always' he wanted cleared up - was that a figure of speech, or did Peter actually mean it?

Peter gripped him back. "For as long as you'll have me."

He means it! Sylar shivered, shutting his eyes and bowing his head. I don't fucking deserve any of this. He drew in and released a shaky breath. For so long he hadn't cared if anything else existed in the world because he knew, deep down, that he deserved to be here. He'd hoped in his heart of hearts that Peter was right and he'd been imprisoned here to keep the rest of the world safe. He'd destroyed or walked away from everything worthwhile he'd ever had in that world. It was fitting for him to be stuck here with nothingness for company. And then there was Peter - at first his own personal demon, punishing him with his hate; then with his disdain and lack of interest, totally unimpressed; and then it wasn't punishment at all. After finding love, how could he risk letting Peter go? How could he even start to believe that there was a way out, because what if it was possible, and Peter left him? He couldn't tolerate the risk, but here Peter was telling him, promising him, that he wouldn't leave, that he'd be with him forever, or as long as he was able. It was so much more than Sylar felt he deserved from anyone. He sniffed.

Peter laid his lips sweetly on the back of Sylar's neck, adding, "And I'll probably still chase you around after that, and be a huge pain in the ass. Just so you know."

Peter felt lonely and cold and uncomfortable when he woke, something he hadn't felt in quite a while. Even when he slept apart from Sylar, which was about as often as not, he felt a connection to the man, spiritual, mental, emotional - some kind of empathetic link that had grown over the years and comforted him even when they weren't together. Now it was so distant he had to strain to feel it - faint, but present, and the weakness of it was frightening.

He blinked awake to find himself in Matt's basement, slumped at the bottom of a freshly built brick wall. Stray bricks and other building materials, as well as the damp smell of uncured mortar, made hope flare inside him that time had not passed much. But where was Sylar? He followed that tenuous link to the brick wall, putting his ear against it only to be warned of the impending explosion. He jumped back just in time to avoid the flying debris.

Weeks later, Peter and Sylar stood together, staring off the terrace of the penthouse apartment. The last of their guests for the night had gone. The combined engagement and housewarming party had been simpler to pull off than Peter had expected. Peter had been surprised at how easy it was to convince Claire, Noah and Matt to attend, though not too surprised when he managed to interrupt them speculating about whether Peter was mind-controlled by Sylar. The amusing and yet disturbing consensus seemed to be that even if he was, they weren't going to do anything about it - Peter seemed happy and Sylar wasn't killing anyone - so that was that. Emma, Hesam and Peter's other friends from work were happy for them without reservation. Heidi had been a tough choice to invite, but she was Peter's sister-in-law and he wanted what was left of his family included. Sylar had done his best to stay away from her for the evening. Angela hadn't come at all, to the relief of everyone who knew her.

A glass of champagne was in one of Sylar's hands. His other was snaked around Peter's waist, his head tilted over so his cheek brushed the top of Peter's head. He had not been so determinedly clingy after they'd escaped the mental prison. For days, Sylar seemed to be waiting for Peter to bail on him. Peter would be lying if he claimed he hadn't feared the same in return. But then things had settled; they'd started planning for their future and moving to make it reality. The trust rebuilt fast, and gestures of affection and support had quickly resurfaced. "That went better than expected," Sylar said.

Peter snorted. "They knew before they came, you know. But you're right. It looks like it will work."

"You're still serious about …"

"Marrying you? Yes."

Sylar snuggled against him, scorching passion burning through the man, drowning him in a happiness Peter could feel loud and clear. He took Sylar's glass away from him and set it down on the ledge, then turned to look up into the man's dark, lustrous eyes, "It was all real. Every second. Just like this." Peter rose up on his toes, pulling Sylar in, guiding them together until he felt the first soft, ticklish brush of warm, sensitive skin against his lips. He breathed out, opening his mouth to accept his lover - his fiancé - who pressed into him with increasing intensity, surging desire, and boundless devotion.

The truth of how Sylar felt was always known to Peter, but it still surprised him to hear those words fall from his lips for the first time:

"Peter?" Sylar asked when they parted, looking down at him with the utmost of seriousness.


"I love you."