Author: Del Rion
Era: Year 2050
Rating: K+ / FRC
Characters: Claire Bennet, Gretchen Berg, Gabriel Gray (Sylar), Peter Petrelli (, Micah Sanders)
Pairings: Peter/ Sylar, implied Claire/Gretchen
Summary: Peter wanted his old power back, went a little crazy and took off. Now that he's back, will things work out for him and Gabriel?
Written for: Heroes_Contest's One-shot Challenge 32: Chaos Theory
Warnings: Mild slash & implied femslash (means men with men & women with women), implied (attempted) murder.
Disclaimer: The show, its characters, the places, and everything else belong to Tim Kring, NBC, and the other respective creators and owners of the TV show 'Heroes'. I have made no profit by writing this story, and make no claim over the show.
Feedback: Welcome, hoped for, and worshipped in a non-religious fashion.
About Requiem: A random idea born from a piece of a sentence, "I have a theory". Doesn't fully match the challenge theme, I think, but I tried to make it close enough.
Another funny fact is that this story was written in its entirety on an airplane.
Story and status: Below you see the writing process of the story. If there is no text after the title, then it is finished and checked. Possible updates shall be marked after the title.
Written for Heroes_Contest's One-shot Challenge 32 (Chaos Theory).
The diner's lunch rush was ending when Peter entered. Several tables and booths were still occupied, but the first wave of working customers had already taken off.
He selected a table away from the other customers and watched the waitresses go by. One of them finally stepped over to him, ready to take his order, and Peter looked at her.
Neither of them spoke for a moment, then she touched her hair nervously and smiled a bit. "Hi, Peter. It's been a while." She sounded surprised, and Peter knew it was nothing unexpected; he had taken off and had been gone several years.
"You look good," he said, knowing what she was thinking.
She laughed, but there was irony in it. "That's very nice of you, but unnecessary. I know how I look." She touched her hair again. "Can I get you something?"
"Why not," Peter decided. "What do you recommend?"
"Well, there's this special blend of hot chocolate and coffee with cream on top," she said. "I like it. Wakes and cheers me up at the same time."
Peter nodded his approval. He hadn't really thought of staying, but it might seem a bit off if he just left without ordering anything after being seated for several minutes.
She left, and a while later returned with a large cup. It smelled nice, Peter thought.
Afterwards she kept standing there, looking at him, and Peter met her eyes. She lowered hers, looked away, touching her hair once again. "I hope you don't take this the wrong way, but it's nice to finally see one of you who has aged, at least a little."
Peter looked her over once more. Yes, she would think that; Gretchen had aged several decades. There were circles under her eyes, her skin wasn't so young anymore, and while she still looked good, in her own way, she was a drawn-out version of her old, vibrant self.
"Does anyone know you're here?" she asked then.
"No," Peter replied. "Other than you."
She looked conflicted. "You should tell Claire," she said then. "She has been worried. Well, was…"
Peter guessed she had stopped speaking about him years ago. It happened; life went on, one's priorities changed. He knew from personal experience how that went. How easy it was to let go if you didn't pay attention.
And then there were things you could never leave behind.
"Are you and Claire still…?" he left it unsaid, but his intent was clear.
Gretchen nodded slowly. He could sense, however, that she was having difficulty with that fact. Perhaps when you aged, and your partner did not…
She had to get back to work before coming up with a verbal answer, and Peter sipped his drink. It was good, although he doubted it would really do anything for him. Peter watched Gretchen, wondering about her life and all the strangeness she had to deal with, then heard the door again, and a moment later a very familiar figure came in.
Claire hadn't changed a bit.
Gretchen was behind the register when she noticed Claire, and an uncomfortable look came over her at once. Claire didn't seem to notice. "Hi!" the blonde greeted her, leaning over to kiss her cheek, and she still looked like that cheerleader Peter once saved. A bit more confident, sure, but other than that, she was the same.
"Claire, I've asked you not to come," Gretchen started.
"Hi," another waitress interrupted her loudly. "Who's this?"
"This is Claire," Gretchen started, but refused to elaborate.
"You never mentioned you have a daughter!" the other waitress went on. She seemed the type to stick her nose into everyone's business, whether it concerned her or not. "She's really pretty, although… Does she have her dad's looks? You've never mentioned him either. But then, people have such different families these days you really can't know," she laughed.
Claire looked at her hotly, whereas Gretchen just looked increasingly uncomfortable; there was no way she would tell anyone she and Claire were together – and had been since they attended college together. That might confuse people a bit.
Peter frowned and focused. The annoying waitress was just about to speak up again when she suddenly shut her mouth and a vacant look came over her, just for a second. "I have things that need to be done," she said then and left.
"What was that?" Claire asked.
Gretchen simply looked after her, then turned her gaze and met Peter's eyes. It seemed to come to her very quickly what had happened.
Claire turned to follow her gaze, then froze, noticing him for the first time. After she had decided he was not a hallucination of some kind, she strode over. Peter wished she hadn't, but it could not be avoided now, unless he left, fast.
"Peter," Claire said before he could even stand. Her voice was angry while her face told a completely different story; she was glad to see him. Before Peter had time to think of a reply, other than 'Claire', she was there, hugging him, making him tense, then sat down across from him. She didn't get comfortable in the plastic chair, though, as if expecting him to plan some kind of getaway.
"Have you been sitting here the entire time?" she demanded to know.
"Yes," Peter said simply.
"Why didn't you say something?"
Peter didn't reply, knowing she would get it even without one.
Claire leaned back a bit, a frown on her face. "Have you contacted Gabriel?"
It was Peter's turn to make a nervous gesture with his hair, which he had allowed to grow long enough to fall on his face. "His name is Sylar."
"People call him Gabriel these days," Claire told him. "You would know if you had been around recently. Where have you been?" she asked then.
"Doesn't matter." This time he started to get up, knowing that if he didn't, she would find some way to keep him here.
She followed him hastily. "He's been a great help to a lot of people," Claire went on. "You should let him know you're back."
Peter wasn't going to do that. Coming here had been enough of a mistake, but he had wanted to see a familiar face…
He started to walk out, and actually got through the door, but felt Claire grab his arm a moment later. Peter didn't really think about it when he raised an invisible shield between them, pushing her back.
Claire stared at him, then smiled. "I see you got your power working again. Two different powers. I'm happy for you." She seemed to look him over again, and a petulant frown appeared on her face. "You haven't aged much… Did you find someone else with a regenerative power, or have you had your powers back longer than it took you to come home?"
"I haven't 'come home'," Peter told her.
"You came here for a reason! You don't just show up in a diner where I might be if you wanted to stay hidden."
They stared at each other, and Peter tried to find the excuse again that he had used to come to this exact diner. He couldn't find it anymore. "Don't tell him I was here," he said finally.
"Oh no, I'm not lying for you," she said hotly. "Why can't you call him, or see him? He's missed you. Every time, he talks about you. How he misses you and wonders where you are. Whether you're okay." She shifted, demanding him to keep talking, to stay longer, to make him convinced that he needed to see Sylar. "What happened?" she asked then.
"Haven't you asked him?" Peter was actually surprised. If they had spent so much time together, why hadn't Sylar told her?
"He won't tell me – not even after all this time," Claire said. "The only thing he said was that you were trying to save some people who died, and you wanted to understand why you couldn't get your original power back and be stronger. Then you took his ability, it gave you the hunger, and something went wrong after that. Then you just left."
Yes, Peter thought. Then I just left.
"I have a theory," Peter said. He had been awake for days, thinking it over, unable to sleep or rest. It took a longer while for it to affect him, but in the end, his thoughts became more delirious by the minute. He was reaching a point where he went around one problem for minutes before realizing he hadn't gotten anywhere beyond that for a while. Chaotic…
"Theory about what?" Sylar asked him. He had been sleeping, but not much, too busy to tell Peter to get some rest and accept the fact that he couldn't always save everyone.
So easy for him to say; he had spent half his life killing people on a mindless journey for power.
"Powers," Peter said impatiently. "Haven't you been listening?"
"To your insane mutterings? Not really," the other man said. "Please, Peter, get some rest. You're going to drive us both nuts."
Peter waved him off. "I've been thinking… All specials are truly compatible with one ability – the one they originally have. If you mess with it, you'll never get back into that perfect harmony where your mind, body and ability work in synch." It felt to him like a religious revelation. How had he not seen it before? That was why he wasn't strong enough now; he didn't have the power he was born with. It had been taken from him, and now he was flawed, even though he had a power.
He felt like a cripple.
"I have to figure out how to get my old power back. Perhaps there is a way to restore it…"
"Your current power is just fine," Sylar informed him.
"It's easy for you to say," Peter snarled at him. "You can grab any power you want and hold onto it. You're strong."
"Just let it go."
He could not.
He would not.
His eyes looked at the man he now shared his life with – his home, his food, his bed – and suddenly he realized his answer lay closer than he could have imagined. "Give me your ability."
"What?" Sylar asked, suddenly alarmed. "Which one?"
"Your ability; it will tell me how to fix myself." Yes, it was perfect. Sylar was perfect.
"No," Sylar told him at once. "Absolutely not. You had it once, and the hunger is not something to play with. You might not be able to get rid of it."
Peter didn't want to listen to his fears. "I'll just take it. After all, that's how my current power works; take it, then leave it."
Sylar leaned away from him, a determined look on his face. "We're not doing this."
"Are you going to refuse to touch me for the rest of my life?" Peter challenged.
That made Sylar pause. Peter knew he could not do it; they had found too much mutual enjoyment to let it go for something like this. "You promise to let go of it?" the ex-serial killer demanded. "If you start to lose it – more than you're losing it now – you'll switch to another power?"
Peter nodded absentmindedly. Yes, of course. He didn't want to make matters worse, but he needed to solve this.
Sylar gave him his hand, and Peter dug in deep. Sylar's intuitive aptitude was harder to find than all the stolen abilities, but it was there, lurking, and once Peter had it, he would be able to solve any problems he had.
Taking Sylar's power had solved nothing. It drove him more into madness, because he could not solve the problem. In time, he told himself, but time worked against him. Everything worked against him. He couldn't reconnect with his old power. It was beyond his grasp. And all other powers at his disposal were not the same.
He was weak.
He was damaged.
His entire life revolved around that fact, and Sylar demanded, more often than not, that he had to take another power.
Seeing that Sylar was standing in the way of his healing, wanting him to remain weak so that Peter would always depend on him, he finally sought to remove Sylar from the equation; he cut open his head, killed him, and took all his power and knowledge, but it wasn't enough.
That was when Peter left.
Obviously the healing ability taken from Claire eventually revived Sylar, but Peter could not live with himself after the incident. He wasn't about to face him now, either. Sylar might find forgiveness in his heart for what Peter did to him, but Peter could not.
That's what he thought about when he walked away from Claire.
The door opened to him with an almost inaudible hiss, and Gabriel entered the base's observation room. It was dim, but the screens on the walls around him gave off a steady, unnatural glow. Coming there after the brightness of the outside world almost gave him a headache.
Only a few people were present, among them Micah Sanders, who was seated in front of a cluster of monitors. The man was leaning back in his chair, hands under his chin, fingers crossed. His brow was creased in concentration and annoyance.
"Something wrong?" Gabriel asked him.
"There's always something wrong," Micah muttered, probably not as much to answer him as to berate something or someone who was making his life harder than it should be.
Some days, it was better to leave it alone, and Gabriel decided this was probably one of those days.
He continued on past Micah and sat down in his chair. The desk didn't feel exactly like his, but he had tried adding something personal to it; an old clock and a picture of him and Peter – taken before Peter went a bit crazy and left. Looking at it gave him pause every time.
Where was he? Why hadn't he come back to Gabriel? He refused to believe it had ended, just like that…
His phone rang at that moment.
Micah looked at him, probably knowing who was calling him, but he was used to that. Sliding his phone from his pocket Gabriel looked at the caller's ID.
"Wonder what she wants," Micah mused.
It was Claire.
Gabriel moved his thumb along the screen and put the phone to his ear. "Hi."
"Peter just showed up at the diner."
At first Gabriel wasn't sure what Claire meant, but the key words 'Peter' and 'diner' registered in his brain. "What do you mean?"
"Peter was just here. He's walking away now… What do you want me to do?"
Gabriel's first question was why Peter was walking away when Claire was there. "At the diner Gretchen works in?" There were no other diners they usually included in their conversations.
"Yes. Do you want me to go after him – although I don't think I'll be able to hold him here much longer; he has abilities."
Gabriel didn't start to think about that. He disconnected the call, stood up, glanced briefly at Micah who probably knew exactly what they had talked about – then teleported.
He arrived at the diner a fraction of a second later, finding Claire, and she pointed out without missing a beat.
Gabriel couldn't see him anymore, and knew he couldn't waste time running around in the nearby streets.
Not with Peter constantly moving away from him.
He focused, closed his eyes, and stopped time. Everything around him froze; heartbeat, blood flow, a paper flying across the street. Now he had all the time he needed, and he started walking. It really didn't take all that much time finding Peter, and once he caught sight of him, Gabriel slowed down – he had almost been running, although it wasn't necessary. Force of habit, perhaps, when you always felt you didn't have enough time to do all the things you wanted.
Slowly he circled Peter, taking in his features which were slightly older, but not old enough; he had stopped aging at some point. Claire had mentioned he had abilities, which meant he had found a way to work around his ability.
Perhaps he had found the answer he had fervently been looking for, to unlock his original power…
Gabriel felt an ache in his chest as he looked at his long-lost love. Every day at work he would look at the picture of them, but to be able to touch Peter, to smell him and be aware of his presence was quite different. It made it all real.
It also made the long wait very, very real.
He stopped moving, standing in front of Peter, and slowly touched his face. Frozen in time the skin felt unyielding and hard, so he allowed the time to move on again.
Peter finished the step he had been taking, started another, then jumped as Gabriel remained standing before him. Their chests collided and eyes met. Gabriel didn't move – other than to use his touch on Peter's face to guide their mouths into a kiss.
Still shocked by his sudden appearance, Peter didn't move, but it was more than just shock. In the next few seconds he could have done many things to stop it, but he chose not to.
"This means yes," Gabriel breathed when he finally pulled back.
"Yes what?" Peter frowned.
"You still want me, since you didn't blow me away with one of your new powers," Gabriel informed him. He had no idea what exactly those powers were, but if they would have been enough to stop Claire chasing him, he knew he was well capable of at least pushing him away.
Peter still regarded him while people moved past them on the street. If anyone else had noticed Gabriel just appearing there out of nowhere, they didn't say anything. Human perception was limited, after all, and sometimes it felt like people just appeared within your line of sight without a warning. Peter, however, was not limited to such thinking: "You have Hiro's ability," he said.
"Did you take it from him?" Peter asked next, slightly accusatory. As if he expected that in his absence, Gabriel had become a killer again. A monster. Well, he had killed a few people, but it was to protect many others.
"He gave it to me before his death," Gabriel replied to him patiently. "To allow me to continue on his path of being a hero."
Peter seemed satisfied by that, at least for the time being.
"We need to talk," Gabriel said then, and took Peter by the arm – not that he expected him to make a break for it.
They sat down in a nearby park, side by side on a bench, and for a moment Peter just stared at the small oasis of nature and the people walking around. Gabriel, on the other hand, could only look at him.
"You've gotten your power back," he ventured after a moment.
Peter nodded slowly, then seemed to open up a bit. "I went to Asia," he said. "Some monastery, up in the mountains, away from everything. It was quiet there, and allowed me to think and meditate. To reach for what I couldn't reach before. It felt like I was stripped bare, and then lifted anew, reborn, and suddenly I could tap into my power again. It was as if I could breathe again."
It sounded like a spiritual awakening of some kind, but Gabriel could tell it had worked. Whatever Peter had done – or had tricked his body into accomplishing – was a small miracle. "I'm glad for you," Gabriel said honestly.
Peter nodded again, then very slowly slid his hand over, and Gabriel readily opened his own, joining their fingers.
They sat there, holding hands, watching the world go by. No more chaos, Gabriel realized. No more theories of how to make it work better. It felt like harmony, being with Peter again, and knowing the other man had found himself.
He wouldn't have cared if they sat there forever like that, but eventually his phone chimed, and he knew he had to pick it up after leaving headquarters so unexpectedly.
"When are you coming in, Gray?" one of the officials asked.
"In a moment. Call me again if there is anything urgent." There always seemed to be some part of the world in peril, but Gabriel felt like that could wait just a bit longer.
"Claire said you have been… doing well," Peter said.
"I work with the government. Well, the UN, actually. In an attempt to make the world a better place – like you taught me," Gabriel smiled at him.
"They don't call you Sylar anymore," Peter added.
"It felt like… the thing to do. But you can call me Sylar; that is what you've always called me, and that is the man you loved…"
"I love the man, not the name," Peter told him, and Gabriel knew it came from the heart. He was finally opening up, the hard shell cracking that Peter had built around himself, probably so that he could stay away from the people he loved. Well, after killing the man he loved, sort of, Gabriel guessed you needed a little adjusting to return. It had taken him long enough.
"I have to head back soon," he said reluctantly. "Unless… you do not want me to." If Peter wanted to go and disappear, Gabriel would go with him; if he didn't like his current job, he would find something else. Now that Peter was back, he would do anything to stay with him.
Peter looked at him, knowing that he meant it, and shook his head. "It's okay. I'll… wait for you. I won't disappear. It's time I came home."
Gabriel smiled, and quickly fished into his pocket for his house keys. It wasn't the same place they had lived before Peter left; too many bloody memories in it prevented Gabriel from living there alone, and besides, his job was no longer situated in New York City. "Here, take the keys. I'll write you the address," he added, taking out a piece of paper and a pen. He then handed them to Peter and looked at him steadily. "I hope you'll be there when I come home tonight."
He didn't say he would come and find him if he wasn't – but he would. He had let Peter go once, and had lost track of him. This time, if he went and disappeared, he would go and search the whole world for him if he had to.
Peter simply nodded. "I will be there."
Gabriel guessed he would just have to trust him – or wait and see.
Peter looked up at the knock, then slowly rose and crossed the room to the door. This place felt alien, and yet, there were so many things that reminded him of the past they had shared; there were pictures of them, and little pieces of this and that Peter had collected for his home even before Sylar had moved in.
He wondered if it really mattered what he called him. Regardless of what he had said to Claire, he could understand why people wanted to call Sylar by a different name. He was a changed man, after all.
It was only fitting Peter too had changed.
He reached out to open the door and found Sylar standing on the other side, an almost apprehensive look on his face.
"You could have just opened the door yourself," Peter informed him. The man had telekinesis after all, and he used to use it to open their door so that the jingle of keys wouldn't wake Peter up in case he was sleeping.
"I think I just… want to see how it felt, you opening the door for me. Makes it feel more real, that you're here."
He walked in, and Peter closed the door behind him. "I guess I deserve that."
"No, no," Sylar hurried to say, "don't take it like that! I'm just glad…"
Peter shushed him, then stepped over to Sylar – Gabriel – and just looked at him for a moment. Slowly he lifted one hand and traced his forehead above the thick eyebrows, where he had put a wound, years ago, cutting his head open to get a better look at how his mind worked. When he moved his eyes, Sylar was staring at him, and Peter gave him a small, crooked smile then leaned up to kiss him.
Perhaps there were some things you could leave behind, to forget, and move on. To be forgiven. At least in theory it would work, and Sylar made it feel like reality.