Title: Handle with Care
Peter Petrelli/Sylar
Rating: NC-17 (only chapters 6, 9 and 10 are NC-17. The rest are PG-13/T)
Warnings: Mild violence, explicit sexual content, descriptions of the after-effects of torture and a very brutal beating
Setting: This begins three days after Powerless at the end of season two, in an AU where Peter and Nathan decided to deal with the Company's moral lapses themselves instead of having a press conference. In second twist of AU, Elle's lightning bolt hit Sylar as he was trying to escape from Mohinder's lab with the serum. He was never able to inject himself and was captured.
Summary: Peter is trying to figure out how to fix the many lives the Company has ruined when he discovers that a powerless Sylar was dropped off at the facility days earlier and has been unaccounted for all this time.
Notes: Thanks to DancingDragon3 for inspiring me. This was my second attempt to write to DD3's prompt, "Petlar, pre-Wall, first time sex with each other, Peter tops, force and seduction, minimal dialogue, PWP, something fun." I got started on it, saw that it was going to be a long story, and tabled it for a few weeks, struggled with writer's block, reworked it, and here it is. For those who pay attention to my characterization of Peter, note that this is 'full power empathy Peter', whose ability to perceive and understand the motivations of others is significantly stronger than any of my season 4 portrayals of Peter.

Peter scowled at the paperwork, trying to make sense of it. He pointed at an entry from a couple days before, the morning after he and Adam had come here, to the Odessa, Texas facility to find the virus. He'd destroyed Strain 138 of the virus, Hiro had taken out Adam, and Nathan had come up with a plan to take over the Company to prevent that sort of disaster from ever happening again. Peter was fine with that. Nathan was off chasing financials in some sort of 'follow the money' obsession. Peter's job was managing people.

He tapped the line on the log, turning the clipboard so the facilities manager could see it. "What's this here? 'Elle Bishop and cargo'?" He'd already learned that 'cargo' was the usual euphemism for a prisoner, since no one wanted documentation that they'd been illegally abducting and incarcerating people.

"Ah," the man said, reading it. "Yes, Ms. Bishop was returning an escaped inmate."

"You had an escapee?" Peter said, brows rising.

The manager backpedaled. Peter might be young and largely ignorant of how businesses operated, but he had two things going for him that had these people scared, if not respectful: his last name, and a multitude of abilities. He had yet to work out which was more frightening to the staff. The facilities manager told him, "There was an escapee some time ago, but not from this facility. We had nothing to do with it."

Peter looked at him blankly, trying to catch snippets of thought. Without being obvious, he couldn't focus the mind-reading well enough yet to get a constant insight, but he was getting better at it every day. Adam had helped him with the fine points of several of his abilities, but telepathy hadn't been one the ancient had encouraged, for reasons that were obvious in retrospect. Peter's ego was still bruised from the lies he'd fallen for.

"Sylar," Peter breathed, but what he was seeing in the man's mind was far from the tall, arrogant killer Peter knew from Kirby Plaza. It was a man broken, cut open with tubes leading out of him. He was being resuscitated for the fourth time after what amounted to exploratory brain surgery had caused his body's autonomic processes to shut down.

The facilities manager, an older, balding man, nodded. "Yes, Gabriel Gray, but I believe his alias is Sylar."

Peter blinked at him, parsing the memories of Sylar's moans of agony even while sedated - in fact, only while sedated. While awake, he was silent and dangerous, more of a security threat than anyone else they had on level five. "You tortured him."

The man stared back at Peter, an expression of slight befuddlement on his face. He glanced off to the side, then back. "I don't think you understand what we do here, Mr. Petrelli," he said, with the peculiar emphasis on his last name that the Company people tended to use, as if Peter should know all about the company by simple mechanism of who he was related to. "Torture is a morally laden word. What was carried out on Mr. Gray was more akin to testing."

Peter pulled back in revulsion at the callousness he was detecting. The man was so detached from the humanity of his subjects that he didn't even register the pain, suffering and trauma they were inflicting on these people. Peter looked down at the log, lips moving slowly even though he was rendered speechless. The Company staggered him. He really didn't know what to do with it. He kept running across things like this. They made him think that Nathan's initial idea of having a press conference and blowing it wide open might have been the better plan. What worried Peter was the question of where Peter himself (and the rest of his family) would be categorized, if all the facts were known. It seemed likely that the public would feel just as this man did about their 'subjects.' It wasn't like the world had all that good a track record regarding human rights abuses.

Then I'll start fixing things here, because here is where I am. "This," Peter started, giving himself a little shake, "this man, Sylar. The reason I was asking about this log entry was because no one was admitted to the cells, but Elle showed up with him. Did she take him with her when she left?"

"No, no, I don't think so." The man looked at Peter blankly, without the slightest interest in what had happened to a human being in his facility. He'd held his position, comfortably, for over two decades. 'Jaded' would be an understatement.

"Don't you care?" Peter asked, hoping there was some spark of humanity underneath all that scarring. There had to be.

"Well … I spoke with Ms. Bishop very briefly. Mr. Gray didn't have any abilities. We injected him with the Shanti virus some time ago. He probably won't live out the month. He's not a security risk any more."

He won't live out the month, because of something you did to him? Peter made a frustrated, exasperated exhalation. "Don't you care what happened to him? Where is he?" Peter pointed at the log again. "There was no admittance record into a cell. I've been to the prison cells on levels four and five," disturbing as that was, and inadvertently picked up a half dozen new abilities that I didn't really want, "and he wasn't in them. I'd have recognized him. So if she brought him here, and she didn't leave with him, then where is he?"

"Oh!" The man brightened, finally getting it. "Oh, I don't know. Since he was infected and not dangerous enough to be kept in a cell, he was probably dropped off in research. That was the standard procedure, for assessment, you see."

Peter stared at the man, dread filling him. "I ordered the research wing shut down." It had been one of the first things he did, actually, and the first organizational thing that stuck. Anything that smacked of human experimentation Peter had full-stop ended as soon as he got in control.

"Well … yes, but Ms. Bishop probably didn't know that. She wasn't here long enough to hear about the shutdown, so she might have thought someone would be along to treat him very shortly. In fact, she left as soon as she found you and your brother were in charge."

A cold sensation ran through Peter. "That was almost three days ago. Are you telling me he might still be …"

Peter paced rapidly down the corridors, stopping every fifty feet to listen. Ironically, he was pretty sure the enhanced hearing was a gift from Sylar as well. He found himself hoping, actually, that the man had slipped whatever restraints Elle had probably used on him and escaped while no one was looking. Peter doubted it, but it was possible, despite the assurances of adequate security from the facilities manager. It was also possible that he'd died - died on Peter's watch.

The idea that Peter's first major action in trying to curb the Company's atrocities might have caused someone a gruesome death by privation was haunting every step he took, even if that someone was Sylar. He took some solace in knowing that for a healthy young man at room temperature and low exertion, death was unlikely, but Peter had no idea what stresses the Shanti virus put on a body. Just how many viruses does the Company have out there? At least 138.

The walls between the various floors of the facility were so thick and reinforced that even with enhanced hearing the sounds were muffled. Perhaps if Sylar had called for help, Peter might have heard him, but to pick out that one sound among so many was improbable. Given what he'd seen in the manager's mind, Sylar was not the sort to cry out for assistance. In any event, most of the time Peter actively tried not to hear too much. At the moment he was listening for a heartbeat, or any other sign of life.

He was halfway down the corridor when he heard the syncopated beat of a heart - it was at the other end, and human this time, as opposed to the rats he'd homed in on earlier. He strode down the hall hurriedly to the last door, which would have been the first for Elle, who had likely come in through the service elevator. Peter had taken the stairs at the opposite end of the wing. He hesitated with his hand on the door. Sylar. He recalled the locker doors flying towards him at Claire's high school, the terror of the fall from the stadium, being fixed in place against Mohinder's wall as his skull was cut open, the dim awareness of the flying glass that killed him, being hit with a parking meter, being choked, Sylar's heckling laugh: 'Turns out you're the villain, Peter. I'm the hero.'

He'd felt fear, confusion and anger then. He let the feelings wash through him now and fade away. On the other side of the door was a human being - not a hero, not a villain. Peter opened the door.