Art: Love and War Stories Movie Poster
Characters/Pairing: Luke/Elle, Matt/Mohinder, implied past Luke/Mohinder, implied past Luke/Sylar, implied past Sylar/Elle, also includes Molly, Micah, Hiro, Ando, Monica, Eric Doyle, West, Alex, Peter, Nathan, Noah Bennet, Angela, Claire
Word Count: 31,880
Spoilers: Specifically up through 3x15 “Trust and Blood” and brings in some chosen canon elements up through 3x23 “1961.”
Warnings: Violence, sexual situations (see pairings and implied pairings), implied abuse, character death, and bogarting of canon.
Disclaimer: Heroes is owned by Tim Kring, NBC, et al.
Notes: Written for heroes_bigboom 2009. This a sequel to Killing with Kindness, and much of it won’t make sense unless you’ve read that story! Thanks to redandglenda, brighteyed_jill, and ashedrake for betaing.
Summary: After being rescued by Mohinder, Luke joins up with a group of rebels led by Peter Petrelli. Luke finds himself intrigued by another damaged rebel, Elle, as all the rebels struggle to free other specials, hide from the hunters, and keep themselves sane. But when an unexpected turn of events have things going from bad to worse, Peter realizes the rebels will have to enlist the help of the strongest special any of them knows. By making a deal with the devil, can the rebels stop the war and manage to keep themselves from turning into monsters? Can the rebels hold onto what's good in their lives throughout this time of war?
The rest of the group turned up at the bunker within a day of their safe house blowing up. Grim-faced, Peter explained the latest convoy had been a decoy.
“If Matt hadn’t caught someone in the back of the van thinking about the gun in his ankle holster, they would have gotten us too,” he said. The group of “captured specials” had actually been more hunters, secretly armed to the teeth and ready to kill.
Mohinder was shaking as Peter told about the botched rescue and they heard about the rocket. He had been responsible for taking out the fake specials, hurling the hard-bitten, well-trained agents into the nearest unyielding surface as Matt (with an assist from Peter) and Eric held the remainder of the hunters at bay. Even that hadn’t been enough, and they’d needed the rest of the group to come in just to get out in one piece.
Poor Alex was nursing a bad concussion after getting a rifle butt to the head when he’d tried to keep someone off Matt’s back, and at least two of the hunters were probably in the hospital with sword slashes after Hiro had cut them to defend the unconscious Alex. Ando’s supercharging power worked just as well to knock out normal people as it did to power-up specials, and he’d been able to hold his own, though he’d been pretty shaken up after seeing how many people he’d laid out with one panicked burst of red lightning. Elle had laid out as many people with far less remorse, but with a teeth-gritted determination to win that wouldn’t let her fail. West was untouched, but then again he’d never come close enough to the ground to even be seen, let alone hit. That irritated Mohinder, but he didn’t say anything. West had volunteered to help, not throw himself wantonly into danger.
Sometimes I think he’s smarter than the rest of us, Mohinder thought. Smart enough, at least, to realize that if the hunters had laid one trap for the rebels, why not two? But even in his worst nightmares, Mohinder hadn’t thought they’d blow up a building. If Monica hadn’t gotten them out in time, if Luke hadn’t been able to get them into the bunker… That’s why he was shaking as if he couldn’t stop.
“What are we going to do now?” Monica asked. She was still sitting with the kids, hovering like if she blinked, they’d disappear.
“We wait,” Peter said, eyes bleak. “We’re not going out again until we know what their next move is. This is-.” Peter cut himself off.
-My fault. I should have known, should have stopped it. I’m so sorry, Mohinder finished in his head.
Squaring his shoulders, Peter help up under the burden, straightening his spine under its weight. “I’m sorry. We’re going to hole up here until we know what nasty surprises they’re planning, ok? I don’t want anyone else getting hurt.”
Mohinder sighed in relief. He’d been afraid Peter might buckle under all the pressure, and if that happened, he didn’t want to think about what would happen afterward. Matt might have stepped up, but it would be hard working for someone who could change your mind for you. And Mohinder couldn’t handle the responsibility. Even if he’d had an idea of what to do, he didn’t deserve it, not after what he’d done. Let him take the hits he was now built for; it was the least he could do to atone for his sins.
Luke shivered in his seat as he waited for Elle to wake up. It was the second morning after the false raid, and everyone was still sleeping a lot, partly because everyone was exhausted, partially because of the nightmares. Luke had chanced boredom in hanging out in the common room to waking up screaming from bad dreams. Again.
The bunker was smaller than the old base, and much colder. It was far enough beneath the earth to act like a cave, warmer than the freezing woods, but still cold enough to be uncomfortable. Everyone was just bundling up like bears for the winter and trying to deal with it; the alternative was a warm jail cell or a cold grave.
Luke was mostly zoned out, watching Molly and Micah try to find the names of the people who should have been in the false convoy. They had been working industriously since before Luke had been awake, the Styrofoam cups and breakfast bar wrappers attesting to that. Molly grabbed one of the cups as Luke watched, sipped, and made a face.
“Aw, it’s cold,” Molly muttered softly in complaint. She set aside her cup of cocoa with regret and went back to checking her list of names.
Luke spied it, and had a sudden memory of one winter’s morning when he was about five. His mom had made him cocoa after he’d come in from playing in a snowstorm. She’d smiled at him that day.
Luke reached over and grabbed the cup, holding it between his hands.
“Go ahead, you can have it. I don’t like it when it’s cold,” Molly said absently.
Luke swallowed and let his power surge through the cup briefly, warming it up.
“Ding,” he said listlessly after a moment, and held it out to her. He’d done the same office for Sylar dozens of times.
Molly blinked when she saw steam rising form the cup, and cradled it carefully in her hands. “Uh…” She took a tentative sip, and smiled in appreciation. “Thanks! That’s handy.”
Sylar had never thanked him before. Never smiled at him either, at least not for things like this. Luke swallowed, trying to get a lump out of his throat, and got up.
“Yeah. I guess. Where’d you get that?”
She pointed to the corner of the room, and Luke went to get his own cup. At least if his back was to the room, no one could see him cry. He didn’t know why it was hitting him so hard today. He’d been injured and nearly killed, and now he was on the run and hiding. He should have wanted to go back to Sylar rather than stay here.
But this was the first place where anyone had ever thanked him for his power, where anyone had been willing to help him if he screwed up, where anyone wanted his company, and only wanted what he would give. He owed them. He owed all of them.
And Luke found he didn’t mind being in their debt. He owed them, her, the truth. Gulping down the scalding hot chocolate, Luke went back to wait for Elle as the other rebels began to wake up. He turned himself away from Mohinder and Matt as they entered, sure that today, of all days, he didn’t want to ask for advice.
“I have to tell you something,” Luke said, as Elle flopped down next to him in a chair in the corner. His stomach was cramping with nervousness and he took a few deep breaths. He had to tell her, today, now, before he lost his nerve. Things had been going so well, almost too well, at least for him. And considering the situation he was in right now, that was saying something.
Mohinder had warned him, not in so many words, that talking about Sylar might hurt Elle. But wouldn’t it be better for her to know before she found out for herself? Elle would probably kick his ass if she found out on her own.
“Well? Spit it out, tiger,” Elle said, leaning against him in an attempt to get warm. “Tell me a story.”
Luke hated himself for what he was about to say, but plunged ahead anyway.
“I was with Sylar.”
Elle froze, and turned to look at him, just to make sure he wasn’t shitting her.
“When?” she asked flatly.
“A couple months ago, he broke into my house… He was the coolest guy I’d ever met. I hated my mom. He wasn’t scared of my power. And when I killed the agent he’d brought, I wanted to go with him,” Luke said, things tumbling out of him in no particular order. He wasn’t making much sense, not even to him, but plunged ahead anyway. “I went with him for two months, because he was trying to find his dad, and I knew where he was. I was with Sylar,” Luke said desperately, not wanting to have to get into specifics.
“And then we got to this place where Sylar had some stupid emo childhood trauma, and he just pinned me to a wall and left me. Didn’t even look back. Just left me… Mohinder found me and brought me here.”
Elle stared at him for a full ten seconds while Luke braced for the impending apocalypse.
“You were with Sylar?” she repeated, as if just making sure she heard him correctly. She didn’t sound angry…
“Yeah. You’re not mad?” he asked tentatively, stopping his preemptive wincing.
“Are you kidding? I’m relieved!” Elle said, throwing her arms around him. Luke stiffened reflexively and awkwardly hugged her back. This wasn’t bad. Actually, this was several kinds of very good.
“Um… why?” Luke asked, almost afraid to hear the answer. After Mohinder’s not-quite-warning, he’d expected a much worse reaction.
“Oh, come on, nearly everyone here is like six degrees of Sylar, and I thought you were the only one that wasn’t! Sylar and Peter have tried to kill each other like a dozen times, Sylar put five bullets in Matt once, nearly killed Eric, killed Molly’s parents and tried to kill her, he and Hiro tried to kill each other once. And he killed Mohinder’s father-.” Luke’s insides froze at that last statement. God, how could Mohinder have even stood to look at him, let alone…?
“Mohinder and Sylar tried to kill each other like ten times, and he killed my dad-,” Elle cut herself off, and Luke heard a sniff in his ear that sounded suspiciously like a sob. “And I thought we had something together, me and him, you know? Sick, right? Killed my dad and I thought we’d end up like Bonnie and Clyde or something, running around, doing whatever we wanted. Then he tried to kill me… And picked up you. I don’t know why he didn’t try to kill you.”
She sounded jealous, and Luke hugged her probably harder than was comfortable, not sure what to say at first. This was the second time he’d heard a recitation of Sylar’s crimes, and now that he could put faces to all the specific acts of atrocity, it made him realize how fucking lucky he was not to have ended up much worse off than he had been.
And Elle had been with Sylar. She knew what it was like, in a way that no one else ever could. So he told her the hardest truth he could, one he was still learning to believe himself.
“He didn’t care enough either way,” Luke said, feeling himself knot up inside. “I gave him everything he wanted and he just… threw me away when he was done.”
He didn’t care. He never cared and you fucking know it Campbell, Luke told himself fiercely.
Elle pulled back from him and suddenly crushed her lips down on his. It sparked between them, literally, but Luke didn’t break away. Pain was an intrinsic part of his existence, and apparently hers as well. She was worth a little pain.
“Come on,” she said, pulling at his shirt, dragging him towards her room. “We don’t need him. Come on…”
Mohinder almost got up when Luke and Elle disappeared together, but Matt held him back.
“What are you going to do?” Matt asked him.
“She’s just… so damaged,” Mohinder whispered.
“And he isn’t? What are you going to tell him that he doesn’t already know? Tell him to back off because Elle didn’t have a good childhood?”
Mohinder shut his mouth on an answer. Matt was right. He had no firm objections, only a sort of latent jealously and a well-earned fear of what Elle could do. And despite that, she could be sweet, when she chose. He’d seen that when she’d saved him from Sylar.
He could only pray that the two of them wouldn’t eat each other alive.
Luke tried to keep from stumbling as Elle pulled him down the hall to her room, never stopping kissing while she did. He couldn’t believe this was happening, that Elle actually wanted him despite Sylar, even when she closed the door behind him and tackled him to the bed.
He hesitated at first, but Elle was not slowing down. This was starting to go like some of Luke’s best daydreams. She certainly wasted no time trying to get him naked, accompanying every newly exposed patch of skin with a little jolt.
The shocks started to get more intense, more frequent, and finally, more painful as the clothing fell away. Elle was only giggling with each shock, but Luke was only flinching.
“You’ll get used to it, promise. You’ll like it,” she whispered in his ear. She accompanied that with another zap to his backside.
Luke’s first instinct was to ride out the pain in hopes of getting something better, just like when Sylar had-.
That thought brought Luke up short. He knew this didn’t have to hurt. He was willing to put up with pain, but he didn’t want to, not even for her. Not anymore. It didn’t have to be this way.
“Knock it off,” Luke said. Elle only giggled again and ran a sparking hand down the side of his face. Luke jerked back, pulling himself off of her entirely. “Quit it!” he snapped.
“Don’t be such a baby,” Elle complained.
“I don’t fucking like it, okay?” Luke said, reaching out to her again. She quirked an eyebrow and zapped the tips of his fingers. Luke snapped.
“Fine! What-the-fuck-ever, I’m going!” Luke snarled, reaching down to grab his clothing. He’d wanted her, but not like this. He didn’t want to have to fight against bad memories.
Elle grabbed his arm. “What’s your malfunction, seriously?” she said in irritation.
“Fucking excuse me if I don’t want to get zapped!” Luke said, eyes narrowed. “I spent two months getting the shit beaten out of me and you said you got cut and burned, so maybe I was fucking imagining things when I thought you wouldn’t want to get hurt making out!”
“It’s not the same thing!” Elle protested, looking honestly surprised. “I thought you’d like it, I really did.”
Luke’s anger faded, and he curled up a bit on the bed so he wouldn’t feel so exposed.
“Sylar shocked me too,” he confessed, looking at the bedspread. “He had a power like yours. If I… didn’t move fast enough or something, sometimes he’d shock me.”
“Not ‘like’ mine,” Elle said, slowly edging closer. Luke didn’t flinch away when she curled up next to him, still fully clothed. “Mine. He has mine. He doesn’t have to kill to take powers, not anymore. He just does it because it likes it.” Luke could feel she was shaking.
“What’d he do, Elle?” Luke asked. Elle sniffed hard and looked up at him, sweeping her hair completely away from her face. She’d always kept it down, and now he could clearly see the burn scars running up one side of her neck.
“Look,” she said, closing her eyes. “Go on and look.”
Luke’s hands were shaking hard as he moved them to the buttons on her shirt. Despite the fact Elle was hot (smoking hot, if anyone had asked Luke), she always wore long sleeves, long pants, and her shirts buttoned all the way up. As Luke slowly peeled the fabric away, he could see why. She had pink burn scars all over her body, crossing her stomach and chest, going down both hips and striping down her legs. Elle had tears running from her closed eyes as she helped Luke unhook her bra, showing the scars running over her breasts too. It was like someone had squirted her all over with lighter fluid before lighting a match- which was probably exactly what had happened, Luke realized after a second.
He wrapped his arms around her and didn’t say anything, just hugged her hard and pressed his lips to the red slice on her forehead.
“It doesn’t have to hurt,” Luke said, and could hear his voice cracking.
Elle leaned up to kiss him again, this time completely free of electricity. His breath shuddering in his chest, Luke remembered the last time someone had touched him with gentle kindness. Sliding his hand through Elle’s hair, he hoped he could show her what he’d learned.
“Molly, can you find Nathan for me please?”
This had become a nightly ritual for Peter: finding his brother and seeing what he was doing. He’d done it every night since the plane crash. It was sort of masochistic when Peter thought about it, like worrying at a sore tooth. Even though Nathan had betrayed them all, he was still family, still the brother Peter had adored as a child.
Molly knew the drill by now, and Peter fully expected her to land her push pin on D.C. and then tell him something like, “He’s in bed,” “He’s doing paperwork,” “He’s talking with Mr. Bennet,” or “He’s talking with Mr. Danko.”
Instead Molly’s brow furrowed in confusion as she rapidly flipped to the national map and began to drag her pin over it at a good clip, going westward from D.C. Peter’s heart leapt.
“He’s flying,” Molly said in awe. She’d seen West fly before, but Peter knew Nathan’s flight was much faster. And if he was flying away from D.C…
“Micah, I need a clean phone!” Peter called. The phone was in his hand almost before he’d stopped talking. With shaking hands, Peter dialed Nathan’s number.
One ring. Two. Click.
“Nathan, it’s Peter! Where are you?”
The rush of air in the background nearly drowned out Nathan’s words.
“Where are you going? What happened?” Peter demanded.
The air and static began to break up the connection. “Danko- found me out. Have- run. Claire- fr- pass -one. –oming for her.”
Claire, the only one who’d remained free, on Nathan’s belligerent orders. If Danko had discovered Nathan’s secret, everything was forfeit.
“Get Claire, and then get out of California. Call me back as soon as you have her, got it?” Peter said.
“-ot it. Love y-.”
The phone clicked off, and Peter got a pit in his stomach. God damn it. Nathan just couldn’t say things like that… Shaking his head, Peter forced himself to think. If Nathan was no longer in power, who else was vulnerable?
“Molly, where’s my mom?” Peter asked urgently.
There was just a moment’s pause before she said, “New York.”
“I have to get her. She’s not safe,” Peter said, and tucked the phone in his pocket. Almost as an afterthought he asked, “Noah Bennet?”
“He’s in Tennessee already,” Molly reassured him.
Thank God, Peter thought to himself. Noah Bennet was a survivor. And he’d be damned useful… particularly if he knew the resistance had already saved his daughter.
“Micah, can you send him a message-?”
“Already done,” Micah said absently.
Peter smiled at the kids, and went to talk to West briefly.
“I have to borrow,” Peter said quickly. “My mom’s in danger. I have to get her out of New York tonight.”
“Good luck,” West said shortly, clasping Peter’s hand. Peter felt the lightness of flight settle into his body, and nodded. There was no offer of help from West, not that Peter would have taken it anyway. West didn’t like the idea of being locked up, but he also wasn’t about to put himself in harm’s way for a woman he didn’t know.
Stepping outside, Peter took a deep breath of the night air and launched himself into the sky.
Two days later…
“They’re coming!” Molly announced, shouting loudly down the hall. The doors opened, and people began to pour from their rooms. Luke had been pretty surprised to wake up to find Peter gone, and even more surprised when the kids, Matt, and Mohinder had sat the resistance down to explain about Peter’s family. Luke had initially felt jealous that Peter had gone to rescue them, until he realized, even with hearing what he was sure was the sanitized version of the Petrelli family history, how fucked up they all were. This was a mercy mission, a family obligation, not some selfish, bleeding-heart rescue attempt.
Besides, everything they’d gotten from Peter in the intervening days said they were using their “family time” to figure out something important. The most relevant to Luke was that Peter’s family was coming here, today.
The members of the resistance gathered in the common room. It was two days since their leader had left them to rescue his mother, two days since senator Nathan Petrelli had been forced to flee. Messages from Peter said he’d been someplace called Coyote Sands along with his mother, his brother, his niece, and his niece’s adopted father. And now he was bringing them all to meet the rebels.
Nathan’s arrival at their headquarters was a cause for a full turnout. Everyone wanted to see the man responsible for making them into fugitives. Everyone wanted to see the hypocritical older brother of their leader. When Mohinder had told him about the weird little family triangle Peter had going, Luke was obscurely impressed. He’d had no idea Peter even had a brother, let alone that his brother was the asshole jerkwad who had been in charge of running them down like dogs.
They arrived in the area at sunset, and Peter smuggled the group inside under the cover of darkness. The four new people stood awkwardly just inside the doorway while Peter just seemed to blend back into the group like nothing had happened. There was a blonde girl maybe Luke’s age, a dark-haired older woman, a tall man with glasses, and Nathan. Elle quickly gave Luke the other names, Claire, Angela, and Noah, letting him put faces to the names Matt had told them about yesterday, but everyone’s attention was focused on the ex-senator.
It was dead silent for a very long time, and Luke watched Nathan seemed to struggle, mentally discarding one speech, after another. Peter sometimes looked like that, though it never took Peter long to stop hunting for words and just speak straight from the heart. Luke guessed Nathan wasn’t used to that. Nathan finally seemed to give up, turned and looked at Noah, who nodded.
“I screwed up,” Nathan said, and let out a huge sigh, hanging his head.
“How’d you end up here? No one does unless everything’s fucked up.” Luke suddenly remembered Elle’s words to him when they’d first met, and thought a lot better of Nathan for saying something that simple.
“Do you think you can help us?” Peter asked quietly, looking at Angela and Noah too as it said it.
All three adults looked out into the crowd, unflinchingly accepting the hate-filled glares that stabbed back at them. Well, hate-filled from some of them. West had the bitchface down pat.
“Just let us know what we can do,” Nathan said, his politician’s voice brittle.
“Whatever it takes to keep everyone safe,” Angela added, looking up at Peter.
Peter looked out at everyone, his face gray with exhaustion. “You guys vote. I can’t make this decision on my own. Do they stay?”
“Well, if you didn’t bother to keep me out, I suppose you can’t keep them out,” Eric drawled suddenly. Claire glared at him with ice in her eyes, and the other rebels looked at him uneasily. Eric made everyone nervous; Elle had told Luke something about his background, and he was a creepy, creepy old man. The fact that he was usually so quiet made every time he spoke something of a surprise.
A creepy surprise, Luke added mentally.
Luke thought Eric liked making people uncomfortable, because now no one would admit that they were a smaller man than the Puppet Master.
“Well, I always liked Pom-Pom, so she can stay,” Elle said loudly. Claire jerked in surprise when she saw Elle, and smiled tentatively. Elle waved back, and Claire took the two steps that separated the two groups.
“Angela, I know you can help us,” Matt said, and the two seemed to get locked in a staring contest. After a long moment of mental talking or whatever the heck Matt was doing, Angela nodded sharply.
“Of course I can. You can count on it.” She stepped towards Matt as Mohinder moved out of the crowd to confront Noah.
“You need me,” Noah said, way too fucking arrogantly for a middle-aged dude with glasses, in Luke’s opinion. But to his surprise, Mohinder didn’t hesitate, and waved Noah in. Eric waved at him with a smile, and Noah gave him a glare that should have struck him dead on the spot, if he’d had eye beams or something. Luke seriously hoped he didn’t…
Only Nathan was left, and the room got ominously quiet. No one was speaking up for him.
“Do you think you can do some heavy lifting?” Peter said into the strained silence.
Nathan nodded tersely, and bowed his shoulders. “I can do that. Just tell me what you need me to do.”
Moving stiffly, Peter put a hand on Nathan’s shoulder and pulled him into the group.
Peter sat on the bed in his room, holding his head in his hands while he tried to stop his head from throbbing. It had been a rough few days, not just in rescuing his family, and trying to forgive his brother, but also in confronting the evidence of the past. It had been heartbreaking to realize exactly what had happened the last time the government had discovered specials, and Peter couldn’t get the images of small, child-sized skulls riddled with bullet holes, buried with their baseball gloves and baby dolls.
They were up against so much worse now, not just a small camp full of people, but a whole country on the verge of ripping itself apart. If Peter had known this earlier, had known anything earlier-.
The door opened and closed, and Angela sat on the bed next to him, hugging him like she had when he was a small boy. There was still dust in her hair and on her clothes, something Peter knew meant things had changed, and changed almost out of recognition for both of them. The mother he’d known would never let herself look less than her best.
“Did you dream about anything here?” Peter whispered, not lifting his head.
“Peter…” Angela started.
“Did you, Mom?” he demanded. “You saw what was going to happen at Coyote Sands before it happened. That why you survived and no one else did. What about here? What about now?”
“Peter,” Angela repeated, running her hand over his head like she had when he was a kid. “I’m so sorry-.”
“You lied to me, Mom,” Peter hissed, jerking away. “All my life. About what was happening to me, to Nathan. Our powers, our destiny! And we never knew, we just had to try to do the right thing, and people died. People died, Mom, and we could have stopped it.”
“I’ve tried to do whatever I could to protect this family,” Angela said, reaching for Peter’s hand. He let her take it, too tired to pull away.
“You know something,” Peter accused. “You do. And-.” He stopped himself, took a deep breath, and plunged on, “Tell me, Mom. Tell me, or don’t tell me, just don’t give out little hints whenever you think I need them. I’m not going to have Matt read your mind. I’m not going to borrow your power and try to see for myself. I just want you to be straight with me for once. Please.”
His voice came out soft and pleading, but his grip in Angela’s hand was iron. Smiling sadly, Angela leaned over and whispered in Peter’s ear.
Angela left Peter thinking in his room about what she’d told him. She’d never wanted Peter to be burdened with her power, but that hadn’t been her choice to make. Seeing into the future was an uncomfortable gift, no matter what form it took. Peter would have to decide what he wanted to do with her dream on his own.
Instead she went to look over her fellow rebels. Peter had probably thought she’d consider this quite a step down from the power she was used to. And yes, after nearly fifty years of privilege and unprecedented control, it was entirely disconcerting to have to be on the run for her life. Particularly when her fellows consisted of children, juvenile delinquents, criminals, idealists, confused “ordinary” people, and the others that had fallen from grace.
Arthur, Angela was certain, would have found this virtually repugnant. To Angela, it reminded her of the first days of the Company, back when a handful of teenagers and their immortal mentor had united to save the world. Angela hid a proud smile behind a cup of coffee. Whatever was to come, foreseen or not, Peter had proven himself to be a better man than any mother could have hoped.
Peter stepped out of his room sometime well after midnight, too tired to sleep, his mind not wanting to quiet down after hearing what his mother had told him. The rest of the bunker was quiet, and when he drifted into the common room, the only person there was Nathan. He had apparently taken over the night watch for Matt and Mohinder, leaving the two of them alone.
Nathan looked over at him as Peter sat down, wrapping himself in a blanket to try to keep the chill at bay. They’d barely begun to forgive each other for everything that had happened, but Peter just couldn’t hold onto his anger at this time of night.
“What were you and Ma talking about?” Nathan asked quietly.
“How did you decide what you were going to do, Nathan? When you knew people might die?” Peter asked.
Nathan flipped through the pictures from the security cameras on screen for almost half a minute before answering. “I used to be in the military, Pete. And they trained us to know when to cut our losses, how to save the most lives, sometimes by letting other people die. Dad was like that-.”
“You’re not Dad,” Peter said sharply.
“I still wanted to make him proud, even after what he did to you,” Nathan whispered, and closed his eyes for a moment. “I thought I could do something to make sure other people wouldn’t get hurt by us. All of us, Pete. We’re dangerous.”
“I know,” Peter said miserably. “But not everyone. Molly? Monica? We can’t sweep everyone into some ‘dangerous’ box and stick them in a hole.”
“That’s why I’m here now. Because you know how to look at all the different people. All I was seeing was a mob,” Nathan said. He sounded sad, worse than he had at Coyote Sands, and Peter reached out to put a hand on his shoulder. “You see the better side of people, Peter. You always did.”
“You can learn,” Peter promised. “But they’re not going to see you for a while either.”
“I’ll deal with it,” Nathan said, and straightened a little out of his slump, wincing a bit when his back touched the cold metal of the chair.
“Did Danko really push you out a window?” Peter asked, concerned.
“Yeah,” Nathan said, and suddenly smiled slightly. “I wish you could have seen his face when I flew.”
Peter chuckled and felt himself starting to warm up.
The next day…
“Matt, I hate to ask you, but we are seriously out of options,” Peter said softly. Matt looked over at Mohinder, and then over Peter’s shoulder at Micah and Molly. He finally glanced over at Bennet and Nathan. He hated being cornered like this, particularly first thing in the morning, doubly so when he damn well knew what Peter was asking for.
“Don’t they know anything?” Matt whispered. “They went on the run only a couple of days ago. Tell me they gave us something we don’t know.” Matt didn’t need his telepathy to know what was going through Peter’s mind. With the false raid and the fact that the hunters had switched to live rounds meant that things were deteriorating fast. Unless the rebels wanted to get lethal, they had to do something to end this fight soon, or there was going to be a steadily rising body count. On both sides.
“Danko hasn’t raised the alarm about Nathan having an ability because that could put the whole operation under suspicion. And he has exactly zero people skills, according to Noah, so he has to have lawyers argue his case without having any real understanding of what they’re arguing for. We’ve hidden and rescued so many people that it’s getting harder and harder for Homeland Security to justify keeping Danko funded.
“They have almost a hundred people we haven’t been able to account for, and they alone are enough to convince the right people to keep the hunt going. But if they no longer have those people, that proof, then the bottom drops out of Danko’s funding. Then he’s just a single guy with a gun, not the head of his own private army,” Peter explained nervously. He had plenty of right to be nervous; there was a serious amount of “if” coming off this tentative plan.
“So we have to find these people?” Matt hazarded.
“I think we do, but I don’t know where to look. Danko’s group is getting smarter. Whoever these people were, they took their names completely off the computer once they started moving them. Micah can’t get any names-.”
“Which means Molly can’t find them. Damn,” Matt muttered.
“Is there anything else we’re supposed to be doing?” Peter asked, his eyes almost begging. Peter wasn’t as bullheadedly proud as Nathan, but he had tried his best to be as self-reliant as possible. He had seen how trying to invoke visions of the future wore at Matt’s psyche, knew how hard it was to interpret the paintings properly, and hadn’t asked him except in direst need.
Matt knew the need was pretty damn dire at the moment. Though he hadn’t been trying to look in Peter’s mind, or anyone else’s, he’d been getting enough of a cross-section about Coyote Sands to make his blood run cold. Behind Peter’s nervousness was an iron determination that matched anything he’d ever felt from the formidable Noah Bennet or the even more formidable Angela Petrelli. Peter would do anything to prevent a repetition of the Coyote Sands massacre. And Matt would too.
Though he hadn’t tried to go looking for a future vision for weeks, something had been steadily tickling at the back of his mind, a sense of being at the edge of a cliff, or having a heavy stone balanced on its edge. All it would take would be a single nudge to go one way or the other.
Before he’d even consciously decided, Matt felt himself go blind, eyes and mind leaping into the ether of the future.
When he broke from the trance, Mohinder and Molly were at his sides, carefully pulling away several drawings from his now-cramping fingers.
“Matt?” Mohinder asked tentatively.
“I’m back,” he said, rubbing his hands together. “I think… What… did I draw?”
Matt was suddenly conscious that everyone in the room was crowded around them, and he ducked his head, wanting to shrink into himself. He didn’t like that he’d had this “gift” thrust upon him, and if he’d had a way of getting a hold of Usutu, he would have begged to have it taken away. But he was stuck with it, like it or not, and Peter knew sometimes you needed as many minds as possible to look for the meanings in these drawings. Secrecy had nearly killed them all more than once; they’d dispensed with as much as possible.
Mohinder had the first of four drawings in his hand. Matt took a look before passing it around the circle; it showed several ugly stone buildings on a rocky shore, the picture framed by some kind of window. It definitely looked vaguely familiar, but he just couldn’t place it.
“I swear I’ve seen this before…” Claire muttered as she passed it along.
“Yeah, like maybe on TV or something,” West said, furrowing his brow.
“It’s Alcatraz,” Alex said positively, the second it got into his hand. Both the other Californians almost slapped themselves in the forehead in simultaneous “duh” moments. “I went there with my parents last summer. It’s how it looked when we took the ferry out there.”
Matt looked down at the next picture, color starting to drain from his face. Mohinder, Monica, and some of the others were hauling people out of stark jail cells as chunks of stone rained down from the ceiling. A shadowy figure stood in the background, hands raised to the destruction around him, red lightning striking him. When that picture was passed to Ando, he started to look extremely grim.
The third showed the buildings of Alcatraz in utter ruin, pulled down brick by brick into an unrecognizable heap. Fire burned in places, and a silhouetted boat seemed to be fleeing from the wreckage. The fourth showed a crowd of people surrounding a limousine with American flags fluttering from the back. Matt thought he recognized himself and possibly some of the other rebels in the crowd, all of them smiling at the open door of the limo.
“Please tell me that’s not the presidential limo,” West said, gingerly holding the fourth picture.
“I could, but that would be a lie,” Nathan said positively. “Granted, it could be the governor’s, or a senator’s, but somehow I doubt it.”
“At least we look happy,” Molly pointed out optimistically. “That’s a good sign, right?”
Matt didn’t have the heart to tell her it could be for a more sinister reason. He’d seen a few mobs as a cop, and he knew sometimes people in a violent crowd could be grinning their heads off at things they’d be horrified at later.
“I hope so,” Matt said quietly. He also didn’t want to mention that he wasn’t exactly certain all the rebels were in the crowd. However Isaac Mendez’s gift had been put into his hands, it hadn’t given him overwhelming artistic skill. Trying to identify tiny faces in a small drawing could be difficult, at best. He couldn’t tell who might be missing.
“So they’re keeping the prisoners in Alcatraz. That’s smart,” Noah Bennet said. “Very difficult to get everyone out of there, even for people with abilities.”
“Ok, if we’re supposed to pull down Alcatraz, how the hell do we do it?” Elle asked.
“Whoa, whoa!” Nathan broke in, and received several glares of monumental proportions. “Look, I know none of you like me, but you’re talking about destroying a famous national landmark. That won’t look good-.”
“It’s a prison, not the Statue of Liberty,” Peter broke in quickly. “We’re destroying a cage, a very old prison that’s being used to hold American citizens against their will. This is symbolic, Nathan. We have to show people something they’ll remember! I think these drawings are saying we need a symbolic victory, along with rescuing people.”
Nathan set his jaw, but finally bowed his head in acquiescence.
“So, back to the wrecking crew question?” Elle asked.
Eyes slid to Mohinder, and he merely glanced down at the drawings before shaking his head.
“It would take me days, if not weeks of effort to take down buildings that size. Even Peter and I working together would take quite some time,” Mohinder said sadly. His eyes flicked over to Ando. “Even with your help, it would take a while.”
“We need more people,” Peter said fiercely. “We can’t do this with who we have here. Noah, you said there were a hundred people probably there, right?”
“Who else is going to join a last stand? Sorry to say, I think you already have your entire suicide club,” West said pointedly.
“Then we need a one-man army!” Peter sighed, “I’d give my right arm to have my powers working like they used to. I’m not sure how we’re supposed to get to an island, avoid all the guards, get out a hundred people, and level the place with who we have.”
“Someone can do that.” The words were out of Luke’s mouth before he could stop himself, and he felt the entire room staring at him. Peter was clearly hoping for a miracle. Luke only knew one person who could do something like that. Hoping he wasn’t about to get lynched, Luke plunged on, heedless. “Sylar can.”
The room erupted in pandemonium.
“You have got to be kidding me!”
“He’s a killer, we can’t trust him!”
“He’s insane, he’d never do this, even if we could trust him, which we can’t!”
After the initial wave of screaming and yelling were over, tempers had still barely cooled.
“We’d be asking a wolf to defend a herd of goats against wild dogs,” Bennet was saying, glaring at him. It took Luke a second to process that complicated animal analogy, but once he did, he admitted it was pretty accurate.
He didn’t like being a goat though.
“Why would he be willing to defend us instead of killing us for our powers?” West asked. Of everyone here, West had never had the pleasure of meeting Sylar face-to-face, or being close friends of anyone who had. He, at least, was being semi-calm about the whole thing; he could think about in the abstract.
“He didn’t take mine. He could have, lots of times, but he didn’t,” Luke pointed out.
“I would expect him to throw in with the government before us. He’s not exactly self-sacrificing,” Matt muttered.
Elle mumbled a faint protest, and Mohinder looked like he was trying to keep his mouth shut.
“If we’re going to die either way, then what do we have to lose by trying?” Luke demanded.
“He will help, if you appeal to him in the right way.” Angela Petrelli’s voice cut through all the others, and brought the argument to a screeching halt. “He may need help, but he is the only one who can accomplish this.”
Luke stared at her, stunned that he had an ally in his ill-conceived non-plan, and that of everyone, it was the leader’s mom.
Peter looked like he wanted to spit nails, but bowed his head.
“I think we have to,” he said.
The room went completely silent, except for a weird croaking noise that sounded like Matt was trying to keep himself from saying something he was going to regret.
“Peter, why?” Claire asked, sounding shocked and betrayed.
Peter looked up, eyes bleak and damp.
“Less than a week ago, Danko’s hunters pumped an explosive rocket into a building they thought held two twelve year-old kids without any kind of warning,” he said flatly. “A week before that, they used live rounds on a raid, and shot Luke. Danko doesn’t have anyone holding him back anymore, now that Nathan and Noah are gone. He could kill those people in Alcatraz, or worse. We’re out of time.” Peter had to pause, and Luke could see him clenching one hand into a fist, nails biting into his palms for control.
“We’re out of time. Sylar is the only person any of us know who can help us make a stand. If we can’t do this now, than I don’t think we’re going to be able to do anything but run.”
There was another long moment of deathly silence, and heads started to nod, jerky and reluctant. It was unanimous; Sylar, or probable gruesome death. Same thing, in Luke’s mind.
He went to the bathroom later and puked his guts out. From the sounds in the stalls next to him, he wasn’t the only one.