Characters/Pairings: Nathan, Peter, Sylar, Claire, Angela, Matt, Noah
Rating: PG-13 sliding into R for descriptions of gore (no more than the episode)
Spoilers: 3x25 “An Invisible Thread”
Warnings: Gore, canon-bending
Disclaimer: Heroes belongs to Tim Kring, NBC et al.
A/N: The great thing about fanfiction is that if you don’t like something about an episode, you can write it differently. I did not appreciate the ending of 3x25 “An Invisible Thread” very much. So I’m re-writing it, my way. Written for the How It Should Have Gone Meme.
Summary: An alternate ending, an alternate fate, an alternate route for the Heroes to take… (Click on the link for further Author’s Notes, and then scroll to the story!)
This takes place immediately after the Petrelli brothers/Sylar fight scene, when Claire runs in to find the suite in ruins.
I was going to do this from multiple viewpoints, but then Claire informed me that she would be narrating the bulk of this story, thank you very much. I protested that I hadn’t ever written her before, that I wasn’t even that enamored of her character, and she tartly told me to get over it and start writing.
This isn’t exactly as emotional as the original, and there’s far less dramatic plot twists, but I hope I preserved some emotional intensity while still providing catharsis. Do let me know what you like, don’t like, or what could be better!
This place is a complete wreck. Did either of them even survive?, Claire thought, looking into the suite with trepidation.
A groan and faint movement filled Claire’s heart with hope, and she turned to find Peter, bloody and battered but alive, limping to his feet from behind a chair.
“Where’s Nathan and Sylar?” she asked urgently, helping him up.
“They went out the window,” Peter said, sounding out of breath.
“Can you fly after them?” Claire asked frantically.
Peter looked up and seemed to strain for the sky. “No, I can’t. I took one of Sylar’s powers,” he confessed. “Come on, we have to find them!”
He started to lead her out of the suite, but Claire hesitated. Nathan could fly and Sylar had had plenty of practice with his telekinesis to fake even that by now. She’d already been the recipient of his attempts to replicate Doyle’s powers with his telekinesis, so mimicking flight wasn’t out of the question…
“Wait, they might still be up there!” she said, and they both hurried back to the window. Staring up into the sky, she strained for a glimpse of her blood father. Two specks high above the city started to grow in size, descending rapidly.
“Hide!” Peter hissed. They dashed for the closet, shutting it most of the way behind them, and waited, hearts in their throats. A terrific crash sounded as Nathan was suddenly flung into the room, breaking a piano as he slammed into the floor. Sylar arrogantly floated in after him as Nathan struggled to regain his feet.
Peter and Claire watched in horror as Sylar slit Nathan’s throat, clutching each other tightly enough to bruise. To go out there right now was to die, and Claire knew it. They couldn’t fight Sylar. She choked back sobs even as she held Peter back from rushing to his brother’s rescue. Claire forced Peter to look at her in the dim light as her mind raced for an answer, a way for her to put herself in the middle of this and make a big difference.
Blood, she mouthed, and tapped her wrist. Save him, my blood. Claire clung to Peter with strength she didn’t know she had until he understood.
Her own father had been saved by her blood; she had to believe it would save Nathan too. She just had to make sure Peter didn’t get himself killed before they’d found some way of stopping Sylar. Claire had told Sylar she’d try to find a way to kill him herself, but that wasn’t as important right now as saving Nathan.
Peter and Claire watched, Claire’s skin crawling as Sylar took on Nathan’s form again.
“Claire’s going to be so mad at me,” he murmured, with an arrogant amusement that made her see red. That final obscenity was nearly enough to throw her into an unthinking rage, but Peter returned the favor of holding her back until Sylar had gone.
Both of their faces were soaked with tears when they emerged; free to run to Nathan’s body. The blood was everywhere, and the wound on his neck was ghastly. Claire was horrified, and Peter looked devastated.
“…Sylar,” Peter said softly, almost a question as he clenched one hand the sleeve of Nathan’s jacket. He looked torn between his plan to stop the killer before he got to the president and his brother’s plight.
“Go after Sylar,” Claire said forcefully. “Otherwise Nathan died for nothing.” It was exactly what her father would have said…
Peter choked back a sob, and pressed a fast kiss to his brother’s forehead. “Save him,” he whispered, and fled the room.
Claire began to frantically search the moment Peter was gone, hunting for anything she could use to transfer her blood to Nathan. She had no needle, no tube, not even a scalpel… Out of desperation, she finally checked Nathan’s pockets, and came up with a pen and a pocketknife. Those would have to do. It wasn’t going to be pretty, but her only other option at that point was something she’d seen in a vampire movie.
The knife opened a vein in her wrist, and the stripped-out body of the pen kept it from healing over. Sylar, the bastard, had left plenty of ways to get her blood into Nathan.
“Please work, please work, don’t be dead. Please Nathan, get up, please…” she chanted desperately.
Claire couldn’t look; she squeezed her eyes shut, more scalding tears running down her face as she kept her hand steady on the pen. Her blood dribbled into the slice in Nathan’s neck in a steady stream.
She didn’t know how much time had passed before she heard a faint sound, a gasp, an indrawn breath, suddenly as loud to her as a shout. Claire opened her eyes to see the horrible gash rapidly healing into nothing, to see Nathan’s chest moving, his eyes blinking…
“Claire?” he asked in wonder.
She thought her heart was going to burst.
“You’re alive!” She flung herself at him, pen flying away, headless of the blood soaking everything, and hugged him fiercely. She hadn’t known she loved him until this moment, hadn’t realized he meant as much to her as Peter, or Angela. That he meant almost as much to her as Mom, Dad, or Lyle. He was the father she’d never known, and he was her friend.
“Peter?” he asked.
“He went after Sylar-,” she started. Nathan nearly leapt out of the chair in panic, desperate to go after Peter, when the door opened again. Claire jumped too, terrified it would be-.
Peter strode in, a heavy wrapped bundle over one shoulder that he abruptly dropped the second he saw Nathan. The two brothers practically lunged at each other, wrapped each other up in an embrace so tight Claire thought she heard bones creaking. Nathan reached out blindly to pull her into the group hug, and she abruptly realized they were all crying again.
“I thought I lost you Nathan-.”
“Never should have done anything like this in the first place, Pete, Claire, I’m so sorry-.”
“Claire saved me-.”
“I love you.”
“I love you too.”
Claire just clung to them both for long minutes, all of them afraid to let go in case something else were to happen.
The door creaked open again, and all three turned to see a white-faced Angela, a concerned-looking Matt Parkman, and Dad, looking very grim, standing in the doorway.
“Dad!” Claire exclaimed in relief, and broke free from her blood father and uncle to hug him. He’d gotten through, gotten free of whatever place the government agents had taken him to…
It took her a moment to realize the burden Peter had dumped practically as her father’s feet was Sylar’s unconscious body. She choked back a scream or a curse, she wasn’t sure which, when he looked at him.
“How?” she demanded.
“Sylar wanted to meet the president,” Peter said, finally letting go of Nathan. “So I let him.” Peter’s own form began to warp and twist in a horribly familiar way until the familiar face of President Dorn stood in front of them. “Noah gave me a heavy tranquilizer to use on Sylar. All I had to do was get close.”
Peter shifted back into himself and then decisively walked over to Claire, an expression on his face somewhere between triumph and nausea. “Can I borrow? My head is killing me, and that power makes me sick to my stomach.”
Claire smiled and reached out a hand to him. Peter clasped it, and sighed in relief as the cuts on his head quickly mended themselves.
“My dream,” Angela said softly, looking at Nathan in something like awe, before looking down at Sylar with trepidation. “In my dream, Matt saves Nathan.”
Nathan stepped up to her, putting a comforting arm around her as he looked down at Sylar.
“He’s not going to stop Ma, not ever. He knows too much about me, he could be me at any time… If he wakes up and escapes, he’ll come after me,” Nathan said, his face stony.
“Or me,” Claire added, shuddering at the thought of Sylar’s “offer” to her. “He said he’d kill everyone I knew. That-.” She stopped herself. Dad would go ballistic if she repeated everything Sylar had said and done. “He’s insane.”
“So what am I supposed to do?” Matt asked, frustrated.
“I’d like to put him out of commission permanently,” Dad said flatly. “But Sylar moved his…” He trailed off, making a vague gesture at the back of his head. He was probably trying to find a tactful way of saying “soft spot” in front of her. Claire supplied him with an untactful way.
“Off switch?” she said. Claire bit her lip as he looked down at Sylar. This man had been the author of so much of her family’s misery for the past few years, she should want him dead. Decapitation or full-body cremation would kill even her, she was certain, so something like that would kill Sylar too.
“Are we going to kill him?” she asked baldly. Peter looked somewhat shocked at her suggestion, Parkman too, and it made her feel both grown-up and inexplicably chilled to realize Angela, Nathan, and Dad were seriously considering it.
“Wait,” Parkman said forcefully. “I’m supposed to save someone here, right? So it has to be something only I can do.” Unspoken was the fact that Officer Matthew Parkman wouldn’t let anyone here kill an unconscious man, even if that man was a serial killer. Claire swallowed and felt herself warming inside.
Dad brought his head up, and Claire saw the strangest expression cross his face, like he’d just remembered something incredibly painful.
“Sylar wouldn’t go after Nathan… if he wasn’t Sylar anymore,” he said quietly. Angela shot him a fierce look, but Dad’s face hardened. “The Company helped create Sylar; I was there. If we, I, hadn’t made the choices I did, he wouldn’t have become like this. Matt, before he started calling himself Sylar, his name was Gabriel Gray.”
Matt stared at her father for a long moment, and Dad shuddered, shaking his head. Parkman jerked back and glared at her father as if he were slime.
“This is all your fault!” Matt yelled.
“Matthew, please, we don’t have time to place blame. Can you get rid of Sylar?” Angela asked.
Before Matt could answer, Peter cut in, glaring at his mother.
“It’s the hunger,” he said, eyes haunted. “His power, his original power, gives him this hunger to know how everything works, to be everything. It’s… strong. I had it… for a little while. It’s… I know that’s why he’s crazy.”
“You think if I can stop that, he’ll stop going after Nathan? He’ll stop killing?” Matt asked.
“He can learn to control it. I saw it, in the future. He was sane there. He was acting normal, he… had a family,” Peter said softly.
“Can’t you just make him forget he ever was Sylar?” Angela asked.
“I think I could, I could convince him he’s not, but that’s…” Matt trailed off, looking conflicted, his body tense and his fists clenched.
“No! Don’t do that,” Claire broke in suddenly. “What if it wears off and he suddenly remembers he’s Sylar some day? I’m going to be around forever and-.”
“So is he,” Dad finished, his arms tightening protectively around her. Dad wouldn’t be around forever either, and he had to be thinking what would happen when she was on her own. Claire hadn’t been before an hour ago, and but she was definitely thinking about it now. To be on a planet that contained a murderous Sylar forever and ever was horrifying beyond her ability to articulate.
“Claire’s right,” Dad continued. “We either kill him now, or do this right.” Dad turned to Parkman. “Gabriel Gray had control. He had remorse. I’m not asking you to make him forget. I’m not asking you to change him into some kind of doll. I want you to make him remember. Everything, including things he’s forgotten how to feel. Remorse. Regret. Connection. Control. Wanting to be himself and not someone else.”
Matt closed his eyes and breathed out, some of the stiffness and tension leaving his body.
“Nathan, do you honestly think you can fix this?” Matt asked, eyes still closed. He waved his hand vaguely at the room, clearly indicating more than just the wrecked décor.
“The president will listen to me. He knows me, trusts me, and I know I can convince him to get the right kind of help for us. I don’t think anyone else would be able to prove what’s going on,” Nathan said, back straightening in as he assumed what Claire thought of as his “baby-kissing pose.” Who else would be capable of getting that much politicking done on such short notice? No one else amongst them had the connections in D.C. to get closer to the president than a hand wave. Nathan would have to fix this himself, or everyone would suffer. And Claire knew that by now Nathan would see himself dead before letting people down.
Matt seemed to detect no lies in Nathan’s words, and sighed in resignation and relief.
“We trust you to do the right thing,” Nathan urged.
Matt knelt next to Sylar’s body, one hand hovering over the killer’s head. “If this doesn’t work, do we have a back-up plan?”
Dad nodded and left the room for a long moment. He returned carrying an emergency fire axe.
“Noah!” Angela exclaimed, shocked. Claire rolled her eyes at the hypocriticalness of it all. Like it hadn’t crossed all their minds at one point or another.
“We’re not taking any chances, not with Sylar,” Dad said shortly. “This either works, or I’m taking him down myself.”
Matt looked like he wanted to puke, took a deep breath, and laid a hand on Sylar’s head. It didn’t look like much, just Matt kneeling there with an intense expression of concentration on his face. After long minutes, Sylar started to shake, and Claire could hear Matt whispering words that he must have been reinforcing mentally. What she was seeing could be no more than the tip of the iceberg.
“Remember… remember… Gabriel…” Matt finally jerked his hand away when Sylar started convulsing, and then abruptly curled up on his side. Matt stumbled to his feet and stepped back several paces, watching Sylar like a hawk. When he finally rolled over and opened his eyes, Claire swallowed when she realized he’d been crying.
He slowly looked up at them, and scrabbled a few steps backwards, a horrified look on his face. “I’m… sorry!” he gasped out, and abruptly flew out of the window.
“Damn!” Nathan shouted. He started to go after Sylar, but Matt held him and Peter both back.
“It took,” Matt said softly. “Believe me… it took.”
“We can’t leave him out there!” Nathan protested.
“You said you were going to fix this whole mess, right?” Matt asked.
Nathan met his gaze squarely. “Yes, I’ll make it safe for all of us.”
“Then I can bring Molly back from India. She’s been helping Micah, and I know she’ll want to make sure the ‘boogeyman’ doesn’t hurt anyone else again.”
Claire hid a smile at the mention of Molly Walker even as Nathan started in surprise. When her dad had told her about little Micah being Rebel, it only made perfect sense that he was getting help from the girl that could find anyone. How else did Rebel find her or any of the specials in need? Not everyone was in a government database!
“Then-,” Nathan started, looking pole-axed.
“Better get cracking on this fix of your Senator. I have a son I promised to keep safe, and a daughter I want to bring back home,” Matt said sternly.
Nathan looked horribly confused, but nodded anyway. “I will. Look, we better get back downstairs before Liam calls the entire Army up here after us.”
Claire looked over her shoulder, out the window where Sylar had disappeared, and shivered as they all walked from the wrecked suite. Dad put his arm around her and gave her a sympathetic look; she knew that if she hadn’t been willing to go along with his idea on how to deal with Sylar, Dad would have killed him for her. That shouldn’t give a girl warm and fuzzy feelings, but it did.
She bit her lip as they all walked down the hallway, and started to smile. Despite everything that had happened, they’d actually won. And they’d won together.
Six weeks later, Nathan’s office…
“And you’re sure about Sylar?” Nathan asked, hiding anxiety behind a pleasant politician’s tone. It was twice as easy to do over the phone as it was face-to-face, particularly with a telepath.
“He’s calling himself Gabriel now,” Matt answered, and Nathan could hear him cover the phone briefly. There was a muffled conversation, and he was back. “He’s keeping company with one of the others that was missing, a Luke Campbell from New Jersey. They’re in a cabin in Montana; Molly has the exact address.”
Nathan smiled to himself. When Noah had taken control of the new Company, he’d initially gotten some resistance from Matt about having Molly help them out locating people that had gone to ground. That resistance had evaporated when Matt had discovered her and Micah secretly texting the information to Peter and Mohinder.
“That daughter of yours is going to have quite the college fund. I do believe she’s the youngest person on record to be on the government payroll,” Nathan said. Matt made a small snort of amusement, and then sighed.
“She deserves it; she’s tougher than me. If I hadn’t found out she was already looking up on Sylar… Gabriel, I don’t know if I could have gotten up the courage to ask her.” Matt paused for a brief moment. “There’s no problems in Gabriel’s area either. No murder, no mayhem, nothing.”
“Thank God,” Nathan muttered.
“Noah’s keeping on top of things, but we’re still having problems. Four unexplained drownings, all of them former Building twenty-six agents. We’re trying to track who’s responsible, but it’s difficult. Trying to recruit people with abilities to be government agents is-.”
“Impossible?” Matt said, not without a touch of “I told you so” in his tone. Nathan couldn’t blame him, but it was still irritating.
“It’s going slowly. Claire says she knows someone who might be willing to help out on this case… Either way, we have to start moving faster. The president gave me a lot of leeway, but if we can’t keep this contained, the back-up option is not something I want to contemplate. Keep up the good work Matt, I’m counting on you.”
“Do you think this new Company is going to work? Honestly?”
Nathan hesitated a long time before answering. Matt kept asking him that question, at least once a day, trying to keep him honest. After everything Nathan had done for almost a year had blown up in his face, Matt wouldn’t leave him alone. He’d saved Nathan’s life, and knew it, and was going to keep cashing that check for as long as Nathan would let him. Peter kept him honest too, but Nathan knew better now than to lie to a telepath, even over the phone.
Because if this did blow up in his face this time, Nathan figured he was out of second chances, out of miracles and last-second saves. He would make this work, or die trying.
“It has to Matt. It has to.”