"What the fuck are you doing here?" Sylar yelled at Nathan, coming up from behind them.
"No! Sylar, wait!" Peter called out as Sylar passed by him and his mother. Angela had neglected to mention she had called him too.
"You trust too easily, Peter." Sylar allowed himself to be restrained. "This is what you brought me here for, remember?"
"Peter, are you actually working with this monster?" Nathan said as he approached, walking ahead of Claire.
Peter slowly blinked, eyes opening in fury as he turned to face his brother.
"Why shouldn't I? You think you're better than him? How many innocent people are dead because of what you've done? How many more are being hunted down as we speak?"
"Too many, but you know I didn't mean for any of this to happen. You know..." Nathan's voice was choked off as Sylar broke away from Peter, telekinetically grabbing the other Petrelli.
"You didn't mean it? Are you serious? What did you think would happen when you started treating people who can fight back like the Japanese and it's 1942?" Sylar's voice rose with every word, and with every step he took towards the man.
"You personally arrest you own brother, your daughter, and you have the nerve to call me a monster?" As his hand met Nathan's throat Sylar released his TK hold. Maintaining the grip with only his own strength, he baited Nathan into trying to fly, allowing him to copy the power.
Applying telekinesis once more, they slowly rose into the air together.
"I think this is a conversation best had in private," Sylar said as they ascended.
Claire watched powerlessly as the father she was just getting to know was taken away by her nightmare. Sylar. The one man she hated and feared more than she had ever imagined possible.
Claire didn't get more than a moment to worry though, before being pulled into a hug by her uncle. And then another by her grandmother.
Angela pulled back until she was holding each of Claire's hands in her own and just looked at her for a moment. "Oh, my dear. It is so good to see you well. You and Nathan."
"Yeah, you too. Speaking of Nathan, isn't anybody worried?"
Peter's eyes, which had been focused on the men high in the distance, lowered to hers. "It's alright, Claire. Sylar isn't going to hurt him."
Her own eyes widened in disbelief. "Peter..."
"Ma, could you give us a minute?" Peter interrupted.
"Of course," she nodded. "I could use a minute to myself as well." Angela kissed her granddaughter once more and then walked back to the car. She looked around, wondering where Luke had gotten off to.
"It's so good to see you, Claire. I've been so worried." Peter pulled her close again and kissed her hair.
"I can take care of myself. And Nathan too, apparently," she replied hugging him back.
"Should be the other way around," Peter said with a trace of bitterness in his voice.
"Yeah, yeah. Peter, what's Sylar doing here? Are you really working with him?" She pulled away to meet his eyes.
Peter opened his mouth, but no sound came out. He looked down into her young face and wondered, what do you tell your eighteen year old niece in a situation like this?
"I... ah... a week ago, I was in a fight with a big group of military. I almost died. Ga... ehem, Sylar, came outta nowhere, saved me. We've been hiding together ever since. Working with this Rebel person, trying to save others."
"Rebel? I've been working with Rebel out in Costa Verde."
"Imagine that." He smiled and touched her face with the back of his hand.
She didn't return his smile. "You can't trust him."
"No! Sylar. He's nothing but a killer, Peter."
"You don't know him like I do."
"The hell, I don't!" Claire pushed him away in anger. "Or maybe I know him even better," she continued, beginning to pace.
"He gave this reform song and dance before, you know. Working with my dad. Acting like he was sorry for what he did to me. Trying to bond. It made me sick! And it was all a lie!"
She rounded on him.
"You know what he did after that. Trapping us in Hartsdale. Playing with us. He killed my mother, Peter!" She shouted into his face, tears starting to cloud her eyes.
Peter put his hands on her shoulders. "I know, Claire. I know. I'm not trying to apologize for anything he's done. All I can say is that he's not lying about wanting to help us now."
She shook her head. "Why are you so quick to trust him lately?"
"I'm not!" he said indignantly, letting her go.
"Oh, like when he threw you out a window and you claimed he was doing it to protect you?" she challenged.
"Actually, I was right about that," Peter said reluctantly, eyes drifting off to he side. "And about him breaking my fall."
Claire's look was flat, level, and left no room for doubt as to what she was thinking.
"You know, I always thought that what everybody else mistook as naivete was just your amazing hopefulness. Your compassion. Your ability to see the good in the world that everyone else is too busy, or self-absorbed to notice."
Her eyes raked him from head to toe. "Do you want to know what I think now?" she asked with a trace of hostility.
"No, not really." He looked around, shaking his head. "Claire, I don't know what to tell you." His voice rose in frustration. "Maybe I am being naive. Because I do trust him. He has saved my life again, and again. How can I not?"
He grabbed her when she went to turn away. "And let me remind you that the government is hunting us all down, whether we are on the same side or not. And whether you like it or not, we need him," he insisted, lowering his head to catch her eye again.
"Claire, you have got to trust me. He really wants to help us. And I really believe that we stand a much better chance of winning this with him by our side. He may be our only chance. And, for what's its worth, Mom agrees."
A moment of staring and Claire sighed. She closed her eyes and shook her head.
"I don't know, Peter. I just don't know." She looked up into her beloved uncle's face. Her hero. "This is irony you know? You asking me to trust the man you saved me from."
He touched her cheek again. "Yeah, I know. It's probably not fair, either."
"No, it's not. And I'm not... going to trust him. But I do trust you." She relented, reaching up to take his hand. "I trust you. Okay?"
"Okay," he agreed, squeezing her hand.
Peter glanced over Claire's shoulder and smiled in relief when he recognized the driver of the car that had just stopped. He nodded his head and told her to turn around.
"Dad!" Claire shouted, running over to where Noah Bennet stood beside a station wagon, talking to Angela.
"Noah," Peter extended his hand once he was close enough. "Glad you could make it."
"Peter," Noah said in greeting, shaking his hand, the other arm still around his daughter. "It's nice to be on the same side again. Where's Nathan? I thought he was with you all too?"
Everyone else exchanged glances before raising their eyes skyward.
"Well, here we are," Sylar said as he and Nathan floated high in the clouds. "And in such lofty, heavenly surroundings. Definitely worthy of a United States senator. Don't you agree, Nathan?"
His hand dropped from the other man's throat. Without letting him drift too far away, he settled them both for a lengthy chat. As if on bar stools, they hovered inches away from on another in the brilliantly blue, cloud laced sky.
"Now let's see... where to get started?" Sylar asked, propping his head on one hand and rolling his eyes.
"I know! How about...the blood of every agent and soldier I've killed is on your hands. But I guess that's nothing new to a man like you, is it? What's the lives of a few more peons and jarheads worth stacked up against world domination?"
"It's not like that," Nathan protested. "I was trying to protect everyone from each other."
"Oh, really? And how's that working out for you?"
"Obviously, not very well," Nathan answered, sounding defeated. He rubbed his eyes tiredly. He couldn't believe that this was where his road had led him.
'Gabriel, please. Don't kill him. He's my brother. My responsibility. Sylar... I'm not ready for him to be dead yet. Please understand... he was like a father to me. A good father.'
"Do you have any idea how lucky you are? What I want to do to you right now? I could tear you apart. I could cut you into tiny, little filets. Slowly. I haven't actually taken the time to conduct any experiments on how long it takes a fully grown man to bleed to death. Would you like to help?"
Nathan was stone faced.
'Relax, Peter. I'm just going to play with him a bit. See what's going on in his mind and if we can trust him.'
Sylar smirked. "I have to admit, I'm a little impressed, Senator. You haven't pissed on yourself or vomited. You haven't begged, cried, tried to get Peter or your mommy, or even dear, sweet Claire to come to your rescue.
"What I haven't figured out yet is if you're trying to take the easy way out of this mess by letting me kill you, or if you're just stubborn."
"I know you think I'm a coward," Nathan started, "a greasy, dishonest politician. You're right. I am."
"No shit. Save the heartfelt speech..."
"So it's okay for you to ask for forgiveness, but not me? And don't say that's not what's going on here, Sylar. You're driving across country with my family! Why did I think hypocrisy was beneath you?"
"Oh, you are good. All right then, let's hear it. Or better yet," Sylar said, pushing up Nathan's jacket sleeve and putting his hand on the exposed forearm, "let's feel it." His eyes were inches from his adversary's.
Nathan closed his eyes and swallowed, skin crawling from the killer's touch. He took a deep breath to say what he had to to get away from him.
"I was wrong. I was selfish and short-sighted and I let my ambition blind me to everything else. I was angry at Peter for betraying me and dad. For destroying our project with the Marine Corps. I wanted to get back at him.
"I thought I could use the information from Pinehearst and Primatech Research to win over a position with the President. Because I have no policy, no experience, and I thought his endorsement and the prestige this would give me was the only way I could win re-election.
"I sold out my family. I sold out everyone like us. For power. And now I've got so much blood on my hands... I don't believe in forgiveness, Sylar. Not for our sins. Not from God. I believe, in the end, we all get exactly what we deserve. I am going to hell, just like you. And there's not a damn thing either one of us can do about it."
"Then what's the point of all this?" Sylar asked, well aware of all the shameful little feelings the senator wasn't talking about.
"To earn their forgiveness," Nathan answered, looking down at his family. "I wasn't always like this... such a monster. I was... well not great, not a hero, like Pete. But I was a better man. I used to deserve his love. I used to be brave. I could be again."
Nathan turned his eyes to the man he assumed was his judge and jury.
"Give me the chance to prove myself. Let me help fix this mess that I've caused." He closed his eyes and gritted out the last word. "Please."
Sylar too clenched his jaw as he judged the truth of Nathan's words. And he had thought having empathy was neat.
"Here they come," Noah said. Everyone watched as Sylar and Nathan landed separately, a few feet apart.
Peter walked over to Sylar, whose gaze was still fixed on his brother's.
"Sylar? Is Nathan staying?" 'Can we trust him?'
"For now," was the reply to both questions.
Peter took an audible breath and turned to where Nathan stood, now being embraced by Claire. He watched, feeling a little like an outsider as Noah and Angela greeted him as well. He glanced at his partner out of the corner of his eye.
'So what now?'
'Stay and have some time with your family. Take flyboy to get us all some food at that diner we passed. I think Noah and I could use some lengthy private time. He needs... different handling than Nathan.'
'What are you going to do?'
'Try to find someplace suitable to give you that piece of somethin' somethin' you were angling for.' Sylar turned and waggled his eyebrows suggestively before catching Bennet's eye.
"Hey, Noah," he called out. "Care to help me scope out some habitable cabins in this mess? Get a few beds cleaned up?" He cut his eyes over to the Petrelli family and back.
"You're not getting me alone so you can kill me are you?" the older man asked.
Sylar rolled his eyes to his partner. "Peter..."
"He's fine, Noah. Trust me. And while we're on the subject, to be clear, this is mine and Sylar's show." Peter's eyes moved from person to person as he spoke.
"If you choose to stay with us, it's by our rules. And make no mistake. We are not here to run. Or hide. We're here to make a stand." His eyes stopped on Nathan.
"If you stay, you fight with us. Both of us. I'll understand if some of you want to leave in the morning. But," he glanced at Sylar before continuing. "All of you are welcome to stay. Fair enough?"
Noah nodded, looking skeptical. Nathan and Claire wore identical expressions of vague horror. Angela just sighed. Luke had walked up and was eyeballing everyone with curiosity.
After Peter's speech, Sylar and Noah went to explore the cabins. A barked out "Luke" had the boy following behind.
"Peter, what the hell is going on here?" Nathan began.
Peter looked beseechingly at his mother. Claire, he was happy to handle. But he was not ready to be reasonable with his brother yet.
"Nathan," Angela smoothly took over. "A lot has changed recently. Because of your... because of you. Your brother's been forced to make an alliance that is insanely dangerous, but unfortunately, necessary. Smart. He's trying to fix your mess, Nathan. And using Sylar to do it.
"They rescued me from Danko's men. They rescued that... boy. And there are other reasons for Gabriel to have the right to be here. Reasons that don't have anything to do with you or this most recent catastrophe. Either way, he is here and they're in charge. And I'm staying here, with them. I hope you and Claire decide to as well."
Nathan remained unconvinced. He turned big, brown eyes to Peter.
"Don't. Even." Peter gritted out. "After what you've done, you're lucky Sylar hasn't torn you into little pieces. Did you know I almost got captured and killed last week? Someone shot a missile at me, for Christ's sake! If it wasn't for that man, and that man alone, I would be dead right now!" he yelled, pointing in Sylar's direction for emphasis.
"He says we can trust you, and I trust him. So you stay, for now." Peter walked closer as he spoke, until his face was inches from Nathan's. He raised his chin defiantly.
"But if you betray us all, again? I will kill you myself," he promised, the words over enunciated and filled with anger.
Claire pulled Angela aside while the men were distracted by their stare-off. "What's really going on here?" she asked suspiciously.
"Whatever do you mean?"
"Please. Something funny's going on between Peter and Sylar. I just know it." Claire eyes darted around.
"Oh my dear, you never cease to remind me how much smarter you are than I was, at your age. You are right, of course. There is something going on between my son and that... and Gabriel. Something that must run its course, I'm afraid."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
Angela simply gave her a look. When Claire remained uncertain, Angela widened her eyes and kind of motioned with her head.
Claire's eyes widened in return. "Oh my god. You mean they're really... together, together?"
"I'm afraid so." Angela closed her eyes, and nodded with a frown.
"But that's... he... that's..." Claire closed her eyes, raised her hands, and backed away from the mental conundrum.
"I don't even know what that is," she spit out, raising angry eyes to her grandmother.
"It's best not to dwell on it. Suffice to say, it is, and there's nothing we can do about it. Except hope for the best," Angela advised, sounding resigned.
"Hope for the best?" Claire's jaw dropped. "Excuse my language, Angela. But, are you fucking kidding me?"
Sylar held several mattresses in the air as he, Luke, and Noah beat years of dust out of them with some wooden tennis rackets they had found.
"Hey Luke, can you send some microwaves into these things? I think that will kill any bugs," Sylar asked.
"I might burn 'em. They're like, a hundred years old."
"Not if you concentrate and control your ability. Come on. This will be good practice."
"Practice using my power while doing a household chore? So, now you're Mr. Miyagi?"
Sylar walked around and began cleaning another mattress. After a moment he looked up to see Noah standing behind him, staring at him.
"Your arm worn out already, old man?" he taunted.
"What are you doing here, Sylar?"
Sylar looked from side to side and back to Noah. "Cleaning mattresses?"
"No. Here. With us. With the Petrellis. Again. If I believed you actually had feelings left, I might think you'd developed Stockholm Syndrome or something."
Sylar raised his eyebrows, nodding slightly. "That's a very disturbing thought, Noah, thanks."
"Well either that, or you're working on some long term revenge scheme."
"And if I was, what would you do about it, Sheriff Bennet?" Sylar's voice was a western drawl as he got in the older man's face.
They stared at each other for half a minute.
"Are you?" Noah finally asked again.
"Am I what?"
"Are you planning to kill us all? Mess with our minds? Put sugar in my gas tank? What do you think?" Noah was beyond exasperated.
"Only if you keep asking stupid questions," Sylar sneered.
"Dammit Sylar, I am..."
"I'm here because Peter asked me to help him. To work with him. Be his partner," Sylar interrupted.
"Really? He asked for your help, and you gave it, just like that?"
"Well, he did ask me very nicely." Sylar smiled and cut his eyes to the side, after hearing a choked off laugh coming from the mattress next to him.
"You're working with him because he asked you nicely?"
"You should know that you get more flies with honey, Noah. Sincerity goes a long way, even with monsters like me." He crossed his arms in front of him, regarding the man with superiority.
"Is that so?"
"That is so." Sylar nodded with a smirk.
"Still looking for a home and family, Sylar?"
"Aren't we all?"
Noah just huffed out a breath. "And the kid?"
Luke came around. "The kid's name is Luke," he said.
"I found him in Newark, New Jersey," Sylar explained.
"Newark? So the EMP was you?"
Sylar raised his eyebrows with a cocky grin.
"And it was to get you out of the jail?" Noah asked Luke.
The teen nodded, smiling from ear to ear.
"So what do you do?" Noah gave the kid a once over glance.
"I shoot microwaves from my hands."
"Is it?" Sylar's voice was all sarcasm. "What, you never caught and imprisoned one of them before? What a pity."
"You were a killer. You deserved to be behind bars," Noah said later, as the three of them were taking a break inside one of the cabins.
"And being treated like an animal, a lab rat? Tortured to death? Did I deserve that too?" Sylar asked, putting down what was left of his fries.
"No. You didn't." Noah looked away and took a sip from his drink. "You were right, before. When you told Claire that I didn't see you, any of you, as human beings, you were right. And I was wrong. We were all wrong. I'm starting to believe... that we were wrong about a lot of things."
(We created a monster. We set him loose on the world.)
(He had a soul, Bennet. He could have been saved.)
(We're not missionaries. We follow orders, Elle. We're agents.)
"That's quite a change of heart," Sylar said to the man sitting across from him.
"Lot of empty nights lately. Lots of time to think." Noah's eyes flitted around the room in discomfort. "What's been happening in D.C., it's not good. Working with Danko..." He frowned, unable to find the right words.
"See something familiar? Something you didn't like?"
Noah laughed and nodded. "Yeah, I did. And no, I did not like what I saw. Don't like what I've become," he said in disgust.
He turned to Luke. "You know, before your mentor here, I was the boogeyman for people with abilities. I'm what they warned their children about at bed time. I was their monster."
"If we had known about you," he continued, "we would have come to your house and tazered you unconscious. Drugged and abducted you. We would have interrogated you, tested you, and experimented on you for days. Then wiped your memory and taken you back home, complete with an implanted tracking device. Tagged like an animal on National Geographic."
Luke swallowed his bite of hamburger. It stuck in his suddenly dry throat.
Noah set his iced tea down and leaned forward, to make sure he had the boy's full attention.
"Unless we deemed you to be a threat, that's is. Then, we would have never let you go. No trial. No authorities. No defense. No parents. We would have just locked you up, and thrown away the key. Or maybe offered you a deal to work with us, bagging and tagging other specials. Either way, your life would have never been your own again."
Luke didn't know what the fuck to say to that. He turned wide eyes to Sylar, but his focus was still on the very scary man in the nerdy glasses.
The two men stared at one another. Sylar's forefinger rubbed his lip absently as he studied his former hunter, his former partner.
'So what do you say, Sylar? Are we actually going to try and trust each other this time?' Noah projected.
Sylar was surprised, and a little impressed. Apparently, his newly acquired telepathy had not escaped the company man's notice. He lowered his hand and relaxed.
"Oh, why not? I seem to be trusting everybody these days. Why not you? Besides," he suddenly leaned forward, dark eyes hungry. "You have a lot of valuable information stored in that head of yours. About us. And about our enemies. We could definitely use you."
"Is that supposed to make me feel welcome?" Noah did not want a repeat of his most recent interrogation session. Somehow he didn't think Sylar's mental fingers would be any more gentle than Parkman's had been.
Sylar jumped up and stuck out his hand. "But you are welcome here, Noah. No further mental interrogation necessary. Scout's honor," he said cheerfully, winking.
"Just like that?" Noah asked, standing up, but not taking the offered hand.
"Well, you see, I have a lot of nifty powers now, that when combined make the world's most accurate bullshit detector. And though it pains me to say it, you're telling the truth."
He lowered his voice. "And it doesn't hurt that I got the chance to read your file while I was at Primatech that last time. I know what got you into this... business."
As Noah's face darkened with anger, Sylar switched to telepathy.
'Relax, Bennet. Your secret is safe with me. I just wanted you to know that I understand. You weren't always a monster, either. Even you used to a good man. And you said we didn't have anything in common.'
"Now the real problem, is that you don't have any powers to tell you whether or not you can trust me. Trust me with your safety. With Claire's." Sylar said her name carefully.
"And I can't let you hang around here if you don't. For obvious reasons." He stuck his hands in his jeans pockets and waited for the verdict.
Noah glanced over at Luke, who was eating again, but with eyes glued to the action. It could have been Lyle sitting there. Noah missed his family, terribly. But he still didn't miss crossword puzzles, and Sandra and Lyle were exactly where they should be. Safe, for now.
His focus returned to Sylar. The man offering him his latest job. And the only man left it seemed, with the means and the motivation to get them out of this current fiasco. He sighed, accepting that he was where he should be too.
"If your loyalty is to Peter, then we shouldn't have a problem. He's been thrown a little off course lately, but I still trust his heart to be in the right place. And I have never doubted your intelligence. If anyone can knock some sense into him, and keep Nathan in line, it's you. If for no other reason than to show you up.
"And don't forget, I know quite a bit about you too, Gabriel. If you're really trying to be anything like the man that used to restore timepieces, then I think I can trust you." He held out his hand.
Sylar gave a small smile and stepped forward. Part of him expected thunder to sound and the earth to shake as their hands met. He got the feeling that Noah did too. His smile widened and he used their joined hands to pull the older man close.
"Only Peter calls me Gabriel," Sylar said threateningly.
"Is that right?" Noah said with an answering grin, not in the least bit scared.
Sylar's expression had cat got the cream written all over it.
"Angela calls him Gabriel too," Luke added, as they walked out of the cabin into the cool night air.
"She's family," Sylar said.
"Since when?" Noah asked with a hint of hysteria in his voice. He tripped down the last two steps.
"Didn't you get the Company memo, Bennet?" Sylar caught him and slapped him on his back. "Turns out, the Petrellis are really my godparents. Neat, huh?"
"That's... not in your file."
Sylar smirked. "No shit."
Peter was walking out of the cabin he and Nathan had been setting up for their mom and Claire when he saw headlights in the distance. He ran over to where everyone had parked and couldn't believe who was getting out of the car. He thought for sure that the darkness was playing tricks on him.
"What are you..." They met and hugged briefly before Peter suddenly backed up and looked at the other man with unease.
"Wait. Weren't you captured?" He looked around like he expected agents to swoop down on them from all directions.
"Yes, but I broke out with Matt, Daphne, and Tracy."
"Daphne? Is she..."
Mohinder shook his head sadly. "She died at the hospital."
Peter appeared pained for a moment. "But what are you doing here?" He followed Mohinder around to the back of the car.
"I found these files among my father's things back in New York. He worked here in the early sixties." Mohinder opened the trunk and indicated the boxes within.
Peter bent down and began rifling through the folders. "He was a scientist here?" he asked.
"Yes. He conducted interviews and... experiments on people with abilities. Children mostly, it seems." Mohinder's voice reflected his grief at learning this new piece of the puzzle that was his father.
"Oh man, Gabriel is not going to take this well," Peter said, pulling a file from one of the boxes.
"Gabriel? You mean Sylar? He's here too?" He lifted his head and looked around.
"Yes. And this," Peter held up the folder, "is his mother's file."
Mohinder tilted his head to look at the name. Giovanni, Maria. She was the one who... his eyes widened. "That was Sylar's mother?"
Sylar was walking across the quad with Luke, when he heard Peter and Mohinder's voices. They were still behind the buildings on the other side, and he was only getting part of the conversation.
"That was Sylar's mother? ...some right to kill my father, he just didn't know it... what are you all doing... my mother was held here too and met..."
"Who's that?" Luke asked, as Peter and Mohinder appeared between two cabins, headed in their direction.
"That's Dr. Mohinder Suresh." Sylar stopped and raised an eyebrow at his young companion.
Luke straightened up, clasping his hands behind his back.
"Mohinder Suresh. Tamil Indian geneticist. Super-strength. Gave himself his ability through a serum he invented.
"His father, Chandra literally wrote the book on people with abilities. He found the genetic code for them and generated a list using the Human Genome Project that Angela mentioned. Found you in New York and the two of you worked together for a few weeks. Then you killed him, took the list, and that's how you got all your first powers. And Mohinder gave you a ridiculously painful spinal tap in return."
Sylar smiled and nodded. "Very good. You have been paying attention."
"Well, this is a lot more interesting than anything they tried to teach me in school." Luke grinned conspiratorially.
They turned as Peter and Mohinder walked up to them. Mohinder hung back, clutching two folders in his hands.
"What's going on?" Sylar asked, looking beyond Peter to the new arrival.
"Yeah, I see that," he said sarcastically. "Why?"
"Okay, don't freak out."
"Mohinder's dad was a researcher here. He conducted experiments on people with abilities."
"Well, of course he did. What else? You were talking about my mother," he said accusingly in the scientist's direction.
Mohinder stepped closer and handed over one of the folders.
"Sylar." Mohinder was relieved that his voice remained steady.
"Mohinder." Sylar took the folder and looked the man up and down, suspiciously.
"This... it's your mother's file, from her time here. It doesn't mention you obviously, but your grandparents... you should just read the file." Mohinder finished with an impatient gesture.
Sylar opened the cover and saw a picture of his mother. He blinked and closed it again, needing a moment to regroup. He was getting way too much information from just holding the damn thing.
Both Peter and Mohinder took a step towards him, then stopped and looked at each other questioningly. No one made a sound. Eventually, Sylar looked up at Mohinder and swallowed. His expression and voice were subdued.
"Thank... thank you, Mohinder."
"Please, don't thank me. I'm... very sorry for what's in there." He said sincerely.
Peter's attention was drawn to Mohinder's hand as it seemed to make an aborted attempt for Gabriel's arm. His gaze moved back and forth between the two men. He looked over to Luke who was also watching the scene closely.
"I wanna get settled in for the night before I read this. And we need to get the rest of our stuff from the car," Sylar said to Peter, before turning. "Noah, you can show everyone the cabins we picked, yeah?" Sylar called out, as Noah, Angela, Claire, and Nathan walked up to them.
"Yeah, I got it. Go on," Noah said. He and Mohinder exchanged measuring looks.
"Luke, you're with us. Let's go." Sylar, Peter, and Luke walked off towards the makeshift car park.
The others went in the opposite direction across the quad.
"Claire, honey. You're with Angela over there. Right Nathan?" Noah pointed to a nearby cabin. It had a battery-powered lantern sitting on its front porch, and light coming from inside. "Mohinder, you can bunk with me and Nathan, until we can get another one cleaned. I'm pretty sure we have an extra mattress."
"Yes, thank you," Mohinder replied. He handed his other file over to Angela.
"Why did Peter go off with Sylar and that kid?" Nathan asked.
Angela and Claire exchanged a look.
"Well, I'm off to bed. Claire, I trust you can take this one," Angela said as she bent to kiss her granddaughter's cheek. "I've already had a similar conversation with him once. Goodnight, Nathan." She kissed him too and nodded to the other men before walking to the cabin that Noah had indicated.
"Thanks a lot, Grandma." Claire crossed her arms in front of her as she watched Angela walk away.
"All part of the service, dear." The older woman waved backwards.
Claire looked to Nathan's expectant face, her dad's amused look, and finally to Mohinder, who said, "I was actually wondering that myself."
Claire looked at the scientist in surprise then closed her eyes, gathering strength.
"Look, I don't know any details. Thank god. But from what I gather... Peter and Sylar... are together. As in, sleeping together." She slowly opened her eyes at the dead silence.
Nathan looked like he was going into shock. Mohinder looked stricken. Most disturbing was her dad's look of total "I knew it".
"And, I'm done here. Dad?"
"Sleep tight, Claire-bear." He hugged her close and kissed her hair.
Noah looked first to Mohinder who was breathing shallowly. "You all right there, doctor?"
"Yes, of course. As if I'd care..." He cleared his throat. "Where did you say our cabin was?"
"It's that one." Noah pointed to one that had another lantern in front, and Mohinder walked off without another word.
"You gonna to be okay, Nathan? Do you need to talk?" Noah tried to fake concern as he started to enjoy feeling like the last man standing.
"I just, I knew Peter... but, this isn't right." He was definitely not operating on all cylinders. Honestly, Nathan was exhausted. And he would swear he could feel that damned tequila hangover coming back.
"Is that why Sylar's helping us and not killing us?" he asked wearily.
"Actually, probably not. Sylar's been trying to change for a while now. Rehabilitation, he called it. Until he fell off the wagon, with a bang. You do know that last year he thought he was your brother, right? And that he worked for your father? And with me, for Angela at Primatech?"
"Someone must have forgotten to mention that." Nathan really felt like he might be sick now.
"Oh, yeah." Noah was having fun getting to twist this knife. "Angela and Arthur both had him going for awhile. It was almost painful to watch. If it hadn't been so hysterical, watching a monster jump through hoops for two old loonies who don't know better than to play with fire, that is. But I guess that must run in your family, huh?"
"I thought Peter shot dad," Nathan said faintly, ignoring the loonies comment.
"From what I understand, Sylar was there, helping."
"So it's been going on that long?"
"Honestly, I don't know. I do know that Peter and Sylar had some... encounters while they were both in Level Five. Apparently, it was pretty serious.
"And then there was Sylar running to the rescue when Arthur had Peter locked up in Pinehearst. But like I said, they thought they were brothers at the time. So surely nothing would have happened then... right?" Noah hadn't had this much fun in a long time.
"Exactly what are you implying, Noah?"
"I'm not implying anything, Nathan. Are you inferring something?"
"You know what, Bennet? I am done for the night. I don't need to know anything else." And with that, Nathan marched towards their cabin.
Noah watched him leave with an immense sense of satisfaction. He had been getting really tired of dancing to Nathan's arrogant, ignorant tune.
(Daughter or not, she is running out of favors.)
Noah had realized then that he had made a mistake trusting Nathan. Having to see Claire covered in her own blood again had solidified his fear. Playing double agent with Danko had given him more than few grey hairs, as well as an ulcer. And Sandra...
Things had to be bad when the idea of working for a murderous sociopath like Sylar seemed like a fine time to cut loose and stop playing the good boy. Noah started laughing to himself.
The inmates are running the asylum, he thought, looking around at the rotting cabins they were going to be calling home. It's a mad house. He took his glasses off and tried to compose himself, wishing for the millionth time that he had thought to take some of his wife's pills when she had kicked him out. He replaced his glasses and took another look around.
Ah well, no time like the present to get back to work.
Mohinder had been returning from making his own facilities when he had seen them. Sylar and Peter, kissing. They were standing against the side of their cabin, a few rows down from where he hid. No doubt getting a moment away from their new protégé. Luke?
Mohinder didn't think of himself as a voyeur, but he couldn't help being captivated by the sight of the two handsome men. Their dark heads moving together, mouths and hands caressing tenderly, maybe even desperately.
In the midst of all this desolation, it was beautiful. A siren's call.
It was clear that they were practiced at this. Comfortable with one another. But what struck Mohinder as telling was the way they were kissing. Like they knew that it wasn't going to go any farther, but they wanted to enjoy it anyway. He couldn't tear his eyes away from the erotic display. It was so obviously filled with genuine feeling.
Their bodies were touching but still, all motion confined to above the waist. Peter was leaned against Sylar, whose back was against the cabin.
Every so often, one would start moving his hips. Soon they would both be moving, grinding together. After only a handful of seconds though, they would stop frotting, stop kissing altogether, and simply stand in each other's arms.
Mohinder bit his lip, his hand absently gripping the corner of the cabin he was standing behind, as they started the dance all over again.
So that's what he kisses like. And after all this time, when we are finally on a similar footing...
Mohinder's thoughts trailed off as he heard footsteps behind him. He turned to see Noah Bennet skulking about.
"What do you want, Bennet?" Mohinder's quiet voice still managed to convey his contempt.
Noah looked to the men in the distance and smirked. "I was just takin' a walk. What do you want, Mohinder?" he asked silkily.
"Just a good night's sleep." Mohinder tried not to sound defensive. "I think that's all any of us can ask for at this point."
Oh, I don't know, Noah thought as the scientist walked away. He glanced back to the show, which had heated up when they weren't looking. Apparently, there's a little bit more you can ask for these days. He smirked again.
'Not bad, Gabriel. Not bad, at all.'
Sylar gave him the finger behind Peter's back, not breaking their passionate kiss.
Noah chuckled as he followed Mohinder back to the cabin. He felt hopeful for the first time in months. Peter would be a positive influence on Sylar. The boy was so damned good, it would probably soak into the killer through osmosis, judging by the way they were going at it.
And Sylar... Deep down, Noah knew the man really wanted to change. Despite Noah's best efforts, it looked like he was going to get a real chance. And was grabbing it with both hands, it seemed.
Noah was nothing if not adaptable. He could tell a desperate situation when he was smack in the middle of it. And if he was going to quibble about working for a psychopath, he should have spoken up long ago. He was so lost in thought, he didn't see Claire until she was almost beside him.
"Dad, there you are. We need to talk," she said, taking his arm.
"Why, what's wrong?"
"The Petrellis are crazy. Can they not be my biological family anymore?"
"Claire, calm down and tell me what's happened."
"Angela just told me that Sylar's her godson? Apparently, Catholics take that very seriously. And she keeps calling him Gabriel. It's freaking me out, Dad. Add to that Peter shacking up with him and some slacker kid from New Jersey... it just doesn't make sense. I thought I knew Peter, but this..."
"Claire, I know it's a lot to take in, but..."
"Oh no, not you too," she moaned, letting go of him. "It's like Nathan and I flew through some vortex and landed in Bizzaro World."
At Noah's curious look she added, "did I mention I got a job at a comic book store?"
"Claire, honey, listen to me." Noah pulled her to sit down with him on the steps of a nearby cabin. "This sort of thing happens a lot in my world. When new players enter the scene and change it, allegiances often change too. Sometimes people end up on sides, and with allies they never expect. They don't call it strange bedfellows for nothing."
"I am so tired of everyone telling me to listen. No one listens to me. Sylar is dangerous. As soon as he gets tired of playing the good guy, or Peter and he have a fight, he's going to turn on all of us."
"When did you become so cynical?"
She just raised her eyebrows.
"Okay, I'll admit. I'm the first to be skeptical of anything Sylar says. Or Angela Petrelli for that matter. But I think it's time you learned that there are always two sides. If you want, I could give you another perspective."
"What do you mean?"
"Ah Claire," Noah paused as he ran his hands over her hair and down to her shoulders. "I thought I could keep you out of this. Keep you safe. Innocent. My little girl."
Father and daughter shared a sad smile.
"I know, I know." He pulled her close, never wanting to let her go.
"It's time I accepted that it's too late for that. So I'm going to tell you a story. About me, Elle, and a man named Gabriel Gray. And it's ugly. And I'm not gonna come off lookin' too good in it, but it's the truth. About me and Sylar, and the men we used to be. And if you and I are gonna stay here... join this army he and Peter are creating..." Noah looked into his daughter's eyes one last time before taking this incredible chance, "then it's a story you need to hear."
Sylar broke the kiss with a groan and leaned his head back against the wall.
"Peter, if we don't stop, I'm going to throw you down and fuck you right here. To hell with whoever walks by."
"Did someone walk by?"
Sylar just smiled and lowered his head to kiss those soft lips one more time.
"We really need to get some sleep," he whispered against Peter's mouth.
"I know. I'm just... keyed up, you know? Meeting up with everybody. This place. The idea of bringing everyone else together here. Everything's gonna change, now. We're gonna change everything."
"Not that I don't appreciate your enthusiasm, but what if... it's already too late to stop this?" Sylar asked carefully. "What if it's just fighting back for the rest of our lives? Never winning. Never being free."
"It can't be. We can't let it be. If we don't have hope, if we give up, then we're as good as dead. We have to believe that it's never too late to change things."
"Isn't that a song lyric?"
"Would you shut up? I'm serious."
"And I'm teasing. Babe, do you think I'd be here if I didn't seriously have faith in you? If I didn't respect you? If I didn't think we could pull this off?" He cupped the back of Peter's neck and pulled him close again. "It'll be all right. I promise, we'll fix this."
Peter's eyebrows reached his hairline as he tilted his head and looked up at the man sideways. "Who are you, and what have you done with my Sylar?"
The taller man looked chagrined. "What can I say, making out with you while you're feeling so hopeful, doesn't exactly make me feel very Sylar-y. Man, maybe Noah was right."
"Osmosis," Sylar answered solemnly.
Peter frowned with uncertainty. Sylar just shook his head. Lowering his arm to Peter's shoulder, he steered them back to the steps.
Luke was on his cot listening to a CD player with headphones and reading '9th Wonders' by flashlight when they entered. History homework, Peter had called it, when he handed the stack of comics to him.
Peter walked over to the table they had set up in the middle of the oblong building, separating the two sleeping areas. He picked up Maria's file and another flashlight and joined Gabriel on their bed. It was really two cots melted together and the mattresses were stacked two levels thick, so it wasn't too bad. The lack of bedding sucked though.
They went through the file together. There wasn't much. Several reports stamped Building 26 were about experimentation. They were all signed by Dr. Chandra Suresh. Peter found the report that he assumed had Mohinder so upset. It was from her original arrest by a government agent with army escort.
She had been one of the first to be rounded up, so the men responsible were inexperienced. The agent writing the report said clearly that they hadn't known what to expect, and that two of the soldiers with him had panicked.
One of the parents had apparently had telekinesis, and had tried to stop them from taking her. Maria was the only one in the household that spoke English, and had not been able to translate fast enough, or possibly well enough. Her parents had also panicked. The author speculated that as immigrants from Sicily, perhaps they had misjudged the situation.
Either way, both of Maria's parents had ended up dead. She arrived at the camp several months before Angela, fifteen, and alone. Her parents' bodies were retained by the government for scientific testing. Initial examination had been done... by Dr. Chandra Suresh. The bodies had been removed to D.C. for further analysis and storage.
The author ended the report by recommending that they begin detaining whole families, and expand the facility at Coyote Sands accordingly. Reasons he lists are that abilities seem to be inherited, and to prevent other incidences like this one.
Later, Peter sat leaning against the foot rail with his focus on Gabriel, who was laying on his back across from him while staring up at the ceiling. Luke seemed to be asleep. He watched with relief as his far too silent partner slowly stretched his hand out over the bare mattress. Peter crawled across the bed, and knelt beside him to take it.
"I'm really glad you asked me to be your partner," Sylar said quietly, kissing Peter's wrist.
Peter reached out with his other hand and combed it through his hair, stroking down his cheek. He leaned over and kissed his forehead.
"So am I," Peter whispered, nuzzling his face against the other, stubbly one. "So am I."
Peter laid down, facing him. They stayed like that, holding hands, enjoying the calm after the day's excitement. It was nice being alone again, even with Luke on the other side of the room. It had gotten crowded and complicated fast.
"Do you know what Giovanni means?" Peter asked after a few quiet moments.
"Yeah. I uh, did a report in high school on Italian surnames."
"Giovanni means 'God is gracious'."
Sylar let this sink in. "And Petrelli?"
"Same as Peter. 'Rock'. As in 'the rock God built his church upon.'"
A picture of his old apartment flashed in Sylar's mind. Where jagged pleas to The Almighty covered the walls in paint and blood.
"Do you really believe in all that? God? Grace? Forgiveness?" he asked quietly.
"Yes, I do."
Sylar looked down to their joined hands, a troubled expression on his face.
"Talk to me, babe. I can feel you going crazy over there." Peter whispered a little while later.
"All of this is crazy, Peter. This whole situation is... ridiculous, and unbelievable. All my life, I never felt like I fit in. I was small. Insignificant. A simple watchmaker's son from Brooklyn. Even after I started killing, part of me always wanted to be just that.
"I was nothing to nobody. I was always alone. I didn't have friends, or girlfriends. Just my mother. The woman I thought was my mother. And she... I know she loved me, I guess... but she always pushed me to be more than I was. More than I wanted to be. She was never satisfied, with just me."
Peter moved so that he was laying against Sylar's body as he waited for the rest. Long arms came around him and one hand found it's way into his hair.
"And when I found out that I was more?" Sylar went on. "That I could take what I wanted? More was all I wanted. Until I looked around, and all I saw was blood. I hated myself. I hated everything. I wanted to kill, everything. And I could. And it felt so good. It made me feel so powerful."
"I know. I know exactly what you mean. "
Sylar closed his eyes and held Peter tighter, kissing the top of his head.
"By the time I realized that I didn't want to be alone after all, that maybe I didn't hate as much as I thought, or maybe I had exhausted it, that maybe I didn't need to feel so powerful, if it meant also being alone, I'd gone so far. I didn't know how to come back. If it was even possible.
"And now I find out that all along, I've been a part of this... it's not even a conspiracy really. It's just this huge, god-awful thing. I thought I was special. But I'm just another bloody piece of this terrible history that's already drenched in blood. I don't know who I am anymore. What I'm supposed to be."
Peter lifted his head from Sylar's chest to look him in the eye.
"You are Gabriel Giovanni-Gray. And you're Sylar. And you're whoever you choose to be from now on. My partner. And the man who's going to help me save everyone."
"And you'll save me?" Sylar's fingertips lightly stroked Peter's cheek.
"If you let me." Peter's eyes were wide and serious, shining in the moonlight. Equally dark eyes, glistening too with unshed emotion, found his.
"Who else could, but you?"
"You," Peter answered, giving him a soft kiss. He put his head back down and closed his eyes.
Sylar sighed as he wrapped his arms around the best thing to ever happen to him.
"There's more," Sylar spoke up suddenly.
"Angela's got more to tell us about what happened here."
"Do you know what?"
"There are bones in them thar hills." At Peter's startled expression, he elaborated.
"Bones, remains of dead specials. I didn't get all of it, but there is some mass unmarked grave from some tragedy that happened here. Her parents' bodies are here, I think. She wants us to find them, and that is what the shovels are for."
"My god, that's... Can this day please end now?"
Sylar nodded in commiseration and closed his eyes.