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?
Peter hadn’t wanted to ask, but Molly located Sylar before Peter could broach the question, though she looked pasty white and sick from “seeing” him again. Micah, as Rebel, sent him the invitation. After that, it was just a matter of seeing if he decided to take their offer. Peter waited with Monica and the kids, feeling like a ghoul for having them make the initial contact. But what else could they do? Mohinder had told him Luke didn’t know where Sylar might go after visiting his father, and no one wanted to go looking for him.
“I got a text message back,” Micah said suddenly, and Peter looked up. “He’ll meet us. He wants a location.”
“Here,” Peter said loudly. “We’ll meet him here.”
“Peter…” Angela started.
“We don’t have a back-up location,” Noah broke in. “Anywhere else we meet could be targeted by Danko unless we had plenty of time to check it out beforehand. We don’t have that kind of time.”
Peter looked out at the rest of the rebels, and could see his own exhaustion written, to a greater or lesser extent, on every face. Meeting Sylar could be deadly dangerous, but everyone’s store of awed terror was starting to run thin. There was only so long you could go around in a fearful daze.
“Micah, do it.”
They had to wait two days for Sylar to arrive, and Molly kept them up-to-date on his location at all times. He was definitely coming their way, but no one knew if it was to kill them or to help them. By the second day, Micah had gotten another text message that Sylar wanted to meet Rebel. Peter immediately vetoed Micah going alone. He didn’t want anyone alone with Sylar, something that Luke had very mixed feelings about.
Elle hadn’t said a word about Sylar, and neither had Luke, but he knew they were both thinking about what they’d say to him when he got to the bunker. Luke wasn’t exactly sure if he’d be able to say anything at all, and didn’t know how he was going to act. It had only been a little over a month since Sylar had left him, and things had changed so much since then…
“We’ll meet him all together or not at all. I’m not taking any chances with Sylar. We can say Rebel is me if we have to.”
“He’ll know,” Luke said. “He knows when someone is lying.”
“Ok, why the hell didn’t someone say so before?” Peter asked, glaring at Bennet.
“He must have gotten it after…” Bennet trailed off and flicked his eyes to Elle.
“Me,” Elle finished.
“He had it when I met him,” Luke said flatly.
Peter took one deep breath to calm himself a little. “Ok, ok, then everyone just be careful about what you say.”
“He’s coming here now! Five minutes,” Molly warned.
His stomach in knots, Luke went outside with the others, shivering in the cold and snow as they hiked to the place where they hid the cars.
Sylar showed up in the same dusty, silver-gray truck, wearing a new black trench coat and looking more dangerous than ever. People were flinching in the crowd when he swept his eyes over them appraisingly. The ones who hadn’t met Sylar before were tense and wary. Sylar looked idly amused, like a tiger debating what fat, crippled rabbit to eat next, right up until he caught sight of Luke and Elle. He suddenly had an expression of total shock on his face, complete and utter disbelief, and Peter used that to his advantage.
Stepping forward, he spread his hands in a nominal non-threatening gesture. Luke knew it couldn’t be that non-threatening; he’d seen Peter talking to Eric right before they’d gone out. “You wanted to meet Rebel? He’s here. We have a challenge for you, like the message said.”
Luke mentally congratulated Micah on that. A plea for help Sylar would have probably rejected out of hand. But a challenge was sure to peak his interest. Sylar liked being the best at whatever he did.
But Luke expected Sylar would have come back with a snappy retort to Peter’s request, if he weren’t still shell-shocked. The very idea of challenging Sylar directly was laughable.
“Challenge,” Sylar repeated at length, as if he wasn’t certain he’d heard that right.
“Yeah. Everything’s starting to implode; you know it. We have to stop this now, and we’re going to get overwhelmed unless we all fight together. If the hunters throw enough people at you, eventually even you’ll go down.”
“And you want my… help,” Sylar stated.
“We need your help,” Angela corrected. Sylar glared at her with enough force to make Luke flinch. “I’ve seen it. It’s been painted.”
“Where the hell did you get one of Isaac’s paintings?” Sylar demanded. “I know I never painted anything with any of you, so unless Peter went through a blue phase before Arthur drained him dry or Isaac sold a few extra pieces before I-.”
“Shut. Up,” Peter said tightly, hands clenching into fists.
“I painted it.” Matt stepped forward, holding the drawings in question. Mohinder was right at his side, a dark-edged shadow prepared to spring to Matt’s defense if necessary.
“What?” Sylar looked like Matt had just spoken to him a foreign language, he was so blindsided.
“I. Painted. It.”
“But-. How?” Sylar demanded.
Matt smiled, a small, twisted, bitter smile that held nothing of mirth in it. “Destiny, Sylar.”
Peter let Sylar hang for another moment before getting back down to business.
“If we can stop this, it has to be now.”
“And you want my help doing what?”
“Taking down Alcatraz. There are prisoners there; all we have to do is free them, and we can force the government to come to terms, to show them all we ever wanted was to be left alone-.”
Sylar seemed to have gotten his aplomb back during Peter’s offer, because he did exactly what Luke expected him to do.
He laughed. Sylar threw his head back and laughed at them all.
Next to him, Elle started sparking, and Luke could see everyone tensing, preparing to fight.
“What’s this?” Sylar asked, voice rich with amusement. “Either I’m with you, or I’m dead meat?”
Hold. Matt’s thought rang through everyone’s head, and Luke found himself swaying in place, hands glowing with power. God, he wasn’t sure if he wanted to fry Sylar’s head or…
“You don’t really give us much of a choice,” Peter said tightly. “You’re a killer-.”
“Spare me your rhetoric, Petrelli. Your brother does it better,” Sylar said dismissively.
“Maybe, but he doesn’t need my help,” Nathan spoke up from the back of the crowd.
Sylar snapped his gaze to Nathan, and his eyes widened with genuine surprise. “You got yourself caught.”
Nathan nodded, looking grim.
“Then we are in trouble,” Sylar said, sobering.
“So?” Peter prompted, not dropping his ready stance.
“Why me? And none of your usual impassioned B.S.” Sylar glanced over at Matt. “And if you mention destiny again, I will cut your head open.”
Glancing to the side, Luke could see Claire bare her teeth at Sylar. Next to her, Bennet was sliding a gun out of his holster.
Peter gritted his teeth together at Sylar’s arrogant tone, took a deep breath, and spoke. “We have to end this now, as decisively as we can. There aren’t enough people willing to risk it all to save us, because they don’t understand how bad this is going to get. Everyone here knows what’s at stake, especially you. We need a one-man army to pull this off; that’s you Sylar. If you don’t help us, they’re eventually going to capture and kill us all, and that means no more new powers for you, ever.”
Sylar considered that statement at length, eyes closed, raising a finger to silence Peter when he would have spoken.
“I’ll do it,” Sylar said finally. Peter seemed not to hear him at first. And then he did, but didn’t look like he believed it. Sylar just smiled at him until Matt nodded.
He’s telling the truth, Matt whispered mentally, and everyone relaxed marginally.
“Ok. Come on,” Peter said finally, and led him towards the bunker.
“I don’t know if I want to fry him or fuck him stupid,” Elle murmured in Luke’s ear.
“I hear you,” Luke replied fervently. Even knowing what he did about Sylar, about what he’d done to everyone here, and knowing exact how Sylar had treated him and Elle, Luke couldn’t stop himself from staring at him. From remembering how, at least for a while, Sylar had been the one that had made Luke feel powerful for the first time in his life. It wasn’t something he could forget easily.
“Maybe both,” Elle added speculatively.
“I think we’re warped.”
“There you are.”
Luke froze, cold from more than the frigid Montana weather. He’d gone out alone to think, and the last thing he wanted was to confront Sylar. Apparently he wasn’t going to get that lucky. He’d thought Sylar had been sufficiently distracted with whatever elaborate planning Peter and the others had going, and didn’t think he could handle being in the bunker when Sylar was being so ostentatiously… Sylar. Elle had said she’d try to cover for him; her having a little more anger to shield herself. Luke needed the space before he did something stupid.
“It took me forever to find you,” Sylar continued, and Luke turned around to look at him.
Luke felt his insides flip-flopping, from anger to fear to a sick longing. Going with Sylar had been his first taste of freedom, even if had involved him getting smacked around, yelled at, abused, and abandoned. Even now, even with all the kindness he’d been shown, his friendship with the rebels, his relationship with Elle, sometimes all he wanted to do some days was be back on the road with Sylar. Most of the rest of the time his brain was in gear and forcibly reminded him that Sylar had considered him a combination of punching bag and sex toy.
Remembering Mohinder’s care, Peter’s concern, and sharing what he had with Elle, and then comparing that to what he’d gotten from Sylar, let him get angry enough to say what he wanted to.
“Why’d you care? You left me,” Luke said, glaring. “Twice.”
Sylar stepped forward, almost gliding through the snow, until he was looming over Luke. Luke knew he should back up, or run away, but he felt like his legs were stuck to the ground. He froze in place while Sylar reached out to twine his fingers through Luke’s hair.
“You pissed me off. Besides, I didn’t need you tagging along when I went to see my dad.” Sylar’s caress was almost gentle, like petting, a possessive gesture he’d used on the road.
“You kill him?” Luke asked, trembling. His hands were warming up, but he just couldn’t move them to burn Sylar off of him. God, he didn’t want him to touch him, he didn’t!
“Didn’t need to; he’s dying of cancer. I decided to let the old bastard die a slow and painful death.”
Luke didn’t have anything to say to that, and Sylar seemed confused.
“Well?” he prompted.
Luke blinked and stared at Sylar like he’d never seen him before. Sylar wanted Luke’s opinion. He honestly wanted it. He wanted someone to tell him how great his decisions were.
“So, it took you a month to figure out what to do?” Luke asked sarcastically.
Sylar scowled and his fingers twitched. Luke braced himself to be thrown, but it never came. “Watch your mouth. I was trying to find them.” Sylar jerked his head back in the direction of the bunker. “The ‘rebels.’” His caress through Luke’s hair had finally stopped, tightening painfully. Luke felt his breathing get faster; a few months ago, this would have been a prelude to shoving him on his knees.
“Why? You didn’t even want me around. Why did you want to find them?” Luke asked, trying to distract him. If it had just been for power-collection purposes, Sylar probably just would have said so.
“My dad had one good piece of advice, that there’s no point in going after small game. I’m going to step it up,” Sylar said proudly. His hand tightened on Luke’s hair, and he felt tears prick in his eyes at the pain.
“Kill the rebels?” Luke asked, trying to hide a growing panic. Why was Sylar out here alone? Had he already killed them all while Luke was out here?
“None of them offer any real challenge. I’ve beaten all of them before,” Sylar said breezily. Luke viciously wondered if Sylar’s lie-detecting power worked on his own bullshit. He’d believe Mohinder and Elle’s accounts of Sylar’s previous defeats before Sylar’s arrogant account of his omnipotent awesomeness. Hell, Luke had seen Sylar nearly get taken down by agents before. If Luke hadn’t helped him escape the first time, Sylar would have been the one unconscious or dead in the back of the truck, not Luke.
“No, I’m going after the hunters,” Sylar continued.
Luke stared at the new fanaticism in Sylar’s face. Sylar had been so annoyed at the agents before, and had been so careful in avoiding them, and Luke hadn’t thought he’d want to make himself an even bigger target by starting a one-man campaign against the government.
“Just like that?” Luke asked, incredulous.
The stare Sylar pierced him with should have left him dead. How quickly he’d forgotten how Sylar didn’t like his word questioned. Not that Luke had done it very much before, but now the stakes were higher. More people than Luke would pay the price if he managed to provoke the serial killer into a rage.
“Not ‘just like that,’ Luke. It’s my goal. A challenge, as Peter put it. I want to see if the government really has what it takes to put me down. I don’t think they do. And I’m going to prove it.”
Luke felt a bolt of pure fear as Sylar pulled him into a hard, bruising kiss. He brought his hands up to shove at Sylar’s shoulders, wanting to burn him, but instead found his hands just clutching at Sylar’s jacket. The hand in his hair, the pain and force on his mouth, all threw him back to their time on the road, and Luke wasn’t sure how to break free. He’d used to want this, he would have begged on bleeding knees for Sylar just to kiss him and acknowledge he was there.
That ringing cry was accompanied by a blast of blue lightning that literally blew Luke and Sylar apart. Luke flopped backwards in the snow until Elle grabbed him by the arm and hauled him up. He was torn between relief and anger, and finally settled on relief, at least until he saw Elle and Sylar’s faces. They both looked nearly ready to kill.
“Who’s the fucker?” Luke whispered urgently. “Him or me?”
“Yes,” Elle said shortly. “But I’m not going to kill you because you won’t grow back.”
“Thanks?” Luke said, straightening up at Elle’s side. She tended to have lots of violence in her banter, but he was pretty sure she wasn’t exactly in a bantering mood right now.
“If you wanted to join in, you just could have said so. I’m sure Luke wouldn’t have minded.” Sylar was rapidly going from angry to amused, and Luke could feel his hands heating up in reaction. He wasn’t some kind of goddamned party favor!
“No,” Elle said, her voice deadly. “You don’t get to fucking come back here and just pick up where you left off. We’re done. I’m ‘stick a fork in me, I’m done,’ done.”
“I’d expected better from you, Elle. I remember you being the one that was so insistent that we were special, that we didn’t need to play by the rules. And now you’re Peter Petrelli’s personal battery?” Sylar shook his head. “You shouldn’t lower your standards.”
“Fuck. You. At least I know Peter won’t go psycho on me.”
“Takes one to know one, I suppose,” Sylar said, smiling tightly.
“Yeah. Exactly.” Elle actually bared her teeth at Sylar, and Luke had to swallow hard to try to get himself back under control. He hadn’t thought seeing Sylar again would be like this. He thought he’d either knuckle under, like he always had, or grow a spine and defy him. Somehow managing to do both, and then see Elle lash out… Luke didn’t know what to think anymore.
“Peter’s going to get you both killed, and you know it,” Sylar said, narrowing his eyes. “His plan isn’t going to work. I was hoping you two, at least, would see it. You’re better off with me. You always were.”
“What the hell?” Luke managed, voice cracking with fear and disbelief. “Fucking leave me behind, leave Elle practically dead, and we’re better off with you?”
“What’s your goal, Luke?” Sylar asked, his voice going soft and persuasive. Almost introspective, reminding Luke of those few times on the road when Sylar would almost be vulnerable, reachable.
“I want to-,” Luke cut himself off, and took a deep breath. “I want to live.”
“You know you’re safer with me, then. Peter already got you shot.”
Elle gripped Luke’s arm hard, and Luke could feel his muscles seizing as she accidentally let current loose. Weirdly, the pain helped get his brain in gear. Or maybe it was the extra electricity.
“At least he’s doing something about it. What the hell were we gonna do, Sylar? Just drive around the country until the hunters forgot about us?” Luke asked.
Sylar actually flinched at that.
“Peter’s got a goal; he’s gonna try to make all this crap stop. Come on, man, that’s a fucking goal.” Luke watched Sylar slowly straighten up, looking at them both like he’d never seen them before.
“If I end up dying trying to meet Peter’s ‘challenge,’ I’ll just get up after a few minutes and walk away. You two won’t. Peter’s as ruthless as his brother; all the Petrellis are ruthless, they just show it differently. Yes, Peter has a goal. And he won’t stop until he sees it through. You understand?” Sylar asked, eyes hard and voice soft.
Luke blinked. It almost sounded like Sylar had managed to work some actual concern for him and Elle into his diatribe.
“What other party are we going to get an invite to, Gabriel?” Elle asked, her voice poisonously sweet. “At least this way we actually get to do something, instead of just being dragged around as your toys.”
“Fine,” Sylar snarled. “Have it your way. You’ll need me to carry you through this anyway.”
The menace in Sylar’s voice left Luke shivering as Sylar turned and walked back to the bunker. Peter was right, and so was Sylar; they were going to be lucky to get out of this alive. This was a suicide club.
“We don’t need him,” Luke said, half to himself, more trying to convince himself than anything else. “We don’t.”
Elle gripped his arm even more tightly in silent agreement.
Two days later, San Francisco
“It’s here,” Hiro said, his voice muffled through the fog. “Yes, careful. Don’t fall in.”
Peter squinted through the fog, and managed to see the ramp up to the old ferry before he tripped over it. Gesturing carefully, he got the others on the boat first, counting heads to make sure everyone was there. Well, everyone but his mother and Noah.
“This is a symbolic act you’re doing, Peter, and we have to be certain it’s interpreted correctly. That’s something Noah and I can do while you’re rescuing these people,” Angela said.
Noah Bennet didn’t exactly look pleased at the thought of being separated from Claire during the destruction of Alcatraz, but Peter thought the very intense conversation she’d had between her father and Nathan had convinced him to let her. Peter certainly hadn’t been willing to step onto that ant’s nest. However that miracle had occurred, it freed Noah up to protect Angela on her mission.
“Between the two of us, there are enough favors owed to the Company to get a few minutes with the right people. If we don’t handle this correctly from the political end-.”
“I know,” Peter said, biting his lip. His mother and Noah might have done some terrible things during their lives, but Peter knew it had all been, in a strange way, to try to protect everyone. And they’d done it with extensive lying and manipulation. If anyone could help them spin the wholesale destruction of a historical landmark as a good thing, Noah Bennet and Angela Petrelli could.
“Be careful.” That was the only thing Nathan had said to her before she’d gone, hugging her as hard as Peter had before her and Noah had left to go to Washington.
When they’d left, Peter had said to Nathan, “You know they’re not going to be careful, right?”
Nathan nodded silently. He’d been much quieter in these past few days, knowing that his politician’s voice was anything but welcome here. And knowing he needed to earn his forgiveness by his actions, not his words.
“You know, Ma would make a better Senator that me.”
Peter had laughed at that. It was the first time he’d cracked a smile in a week.
The boat rumbled to life under Monica’s hands. Though her muscle mimicry power didn’t let her intimately learn the skills of a sailor, Micah had had her studying the instruments for a week. It wasn’t like anyone could see where they were going anyway; she was working solely off the high-tech heads-up display Micah had gotten for her
“Ok, so how do we get to Alcatraz? It’s kind of a long swim,” Claire asked.
“Like Alex said, a ferry,” Hiro said, pointing to the docks.
“Yeah, but they shut down tourism to the island. Most of the ferries are decommissioned, and the others are owned by the government,” Noah pointed out.
“Yes, but Yamagoto Industries purchased one for its company retreat yesterday,” Hiro said proudly.
Ando grinned in pride as everyone stared at Hiro in amazement.
“How close are we?” Peter whispered, unwilling to talk too loudly in the nighttime fog.
“Twenty minutes,” Monica said confidently.
“He’s right where he should be,” Molly said positively.
“Sending the signal… now!” Micah cried.
“Great, awesome, so we have a fricking boat. How the hell are we going to get these hundred or so people off the island and onto the boat when the place is swarming with hunters?” West asked. “I sure as hell can’t fly them out one at a time, even if I wanted to make myself a target every time I got near the island.”
“The hunters won’t be a problem,” Sylar rumbled in amusement.
Peter closed his eyes and counted to five. “We don’t want to kill anyone,” he said, biting off each word. “That won’t help anything.”
“Then I suppose they will be a problem,” Sylar amended smoothly. He did not, Peter noted, add any alternative suggestions.
“Do they have the people drugged?” Elle asked.
“They seem to like that. Low maintenance storage,” Eric added meditatively.
“Good point…” Peter said. “Micah, how’re you coming with the plans?”
Micah ran a hand through his hair in frustration. “I’m trying! But the database is huge and I’m running out of places to look!”
“They must be hiding it under something innocuous,” Noah said. “That’s what Primatech did.”
“Hey, Alcatraz is actually run by the National Parks service,” Alex piped up. “Is there something under that?”
“Wait… Look into the National Parks' west coast financials,” Noah said, getting up. He looked like a lightbulb had just gone off in his head. Micah shrugged and worked his magic, bringing up lists of folders and financial records. Noah scrolled down the list, and smiled tightly in triumph.
“What do you think the National Parks needs with several hundred thousand dollars’ worth of merchandise from a major pharmaceutical company? Purchased last month?”
“Bingo,” Claire said. “So the people are drugged… what does that mean?”
“Fewer hunters. You don’t need so many guards when your inmates are comatose,” Noah said.
“So very true,” Sylar said, his voice perfectly even. Peter saw Noah’s back stiffen at his tone, but he didn’t flinch.
“Wow! Oh wow, they bought millions of bucks of stuff from ZFT!” Micah said suddenly. “Look at this stuff! I mean, they have ten fifty-five-fours, twelve seven-sixty-two-Z-five-hundreds-.”
“Hey buddy, I can appreciate the full-on geek-out, but I didn’t memorize their catalog numbers,” Alex broke in.
“And what the heck is-?”
“Robotics company,” Alex broke in, before the question could be finished.
“Robotics, AI, all kinds of new circuit… boards…” Micah trailed off as he seemed to realize something. “Uh guys, those model numbers are for robotic sentries. Fully automatic robotic sentries.”
“A secondary defense system in case of an incident,” Noah said, nodding in understanding.
“So, if we can figure out some way to manufacture an ‘incident’ off the island, the hunters would leave and we’d just have to worry about robots?” West said. “Sounds kinda too easy.”
“The hunters would leave a skeleton crew behind. And I doubt the robotic sentries have a ‘stun’ setting,” Noah clarified.
“That,” Sylar repeated, “is not a problem for me. In fact, I believe that’s the reason you brought me in, isn’t it?”
There was a half beat of silence from everyone in the room before Peter spoke.
“What kind of incident would get the hunters off the island?”
“Should just send a distress signal from the neighboring sector,” Alex muttered, half under his breath.
“Yes, yes! Like Star Trek!” Hiro agreed enthusiastically.
Half the people opened their mouths to object, when Noah commented, “Not a bad idea.”
Monica checked the radar, and smiled. “Peter, they’re following the beacons out. The way Alex has them spread, it’ll give us at least forty-five minutes before they come back.”
Peter sighed in relief as Monica revved the boat’s motors to get them to the island as quickly as possible. He’d always thought there would be almost no time when Alex’s ability would be useful on a raid, but he’d been proved wrong. Though the currents in the bay were strong, and the water cold, they couldn’t stop Alex from doing his part.
He’d gotten a drysuit to keep himself warm, and a series of beacons to simulate the emergency distress units (the “panic buttons,” as Noah called them) the hunters used to call for help. And he was now placing them along the waterfront, making it look like a group of the hunters’ friends were in a running, losing battle through the downtown area. If that hadn’t worked, Peter wasn’t sure what would have, aside from setting a building on fire…
“Ok, we’re almost there,” Monica said, the cheeping from her display reaching critical levels. They’d chosen a very foggy night to do this, and while it gave them great cover, there was also the possibility they’d run the ferry right into the dock.
“Can you see it?” Peter asked, squinting to see the faint lights from the island.
“They hear you, I’m going to jam them,” Micah said suddenly, and clutched both hands around his modified radio jammer. As long as he had it, he could selectively jam the hunters’ communications on and from the island, but keep the rebels’ communicators clear. Unfortunately, that meant he couldn’t do anything about the robotic sentries at the same time. He was effectively chained to his equipment.
“Got it,” Peter said in acknowledgement. He heard someone come up from behind him, and could practically sense Nathan looming at his back.
“Pete, you ready?” he asked, putting a comforting hand on his brother’s shoulder. Peter squeezed his eyes shut, almost undone by that touch alone. He’d been trying so hard to hold himself in, knowing they were laying everything out on the line here, and all of it because of Nathan.
“Are you?” he asked in return, concentrating to absorb Nathan’s flight, feeling a welcome and familiar lightness settling into his body.
Peter turned around, and saw Nathan in his battered jacket, hair standing every which way, looking as far as possible from the slick politician that had inhabited his brother’s body for over two years. He actually looked like his brother again.
“I love you. You know that, right?”
“I love you too, Nathan,” Peter said, and felt something more than the lightness of flight in his heart. “Let’s do this.”
Before the boat even docked, two hunters were out there, yelling and waving their rifles. From across a hundred yards of water, Matt concentrated, and they suddenly fell silent. Swaying on their feet, they lowered their guns, and finally collapsed to the docks.
“They’re asleep,” Matt gasped, shaking his head. He wasn’t used to using his power that far out.
“Ok, hang on!” Monica swung the boat into position, and Mohinder leapt out to tie it in place. Hard on his heels came Nathan, Peter, Elle, Luke, Eric, Ando, and after a long moment, Monica.
“Keep everything ready, we’ll be back!” Peter called. Matt nodded solemnly. He, Hiro, West, and Claire would be protecting the kids. If they could, they would have left Micah and Molly somewhere safer, but no one knew where “someplace safer” was, away from the rebels. At least here, they could help see through the end of the job they’d taken on for themselves. And if everything went to hell, there was still a chance they could get away.
Mohinder pounded up the long, steep concrete ramps, keeping himself as close to Sylar as he dared. At every seemingly endless turn, the group had been met with either a robotic gun or a frightened, lone hunter. The former Sylar mentally dismantled with contemptuous ease. The latter Mohinder would tackle, knocking them out and binding them so Peter or Nathan could fly them back to the ferry. Peter was determined that not a single person should die tonight, in spite of all the dangers. They were treading in deep enough political waters as it was. A single death could turn a powerful political statement into a rallying point for further violence if they weren’t careful.
Mohinder and Sylar paused at the top of the last ramp, waiting for the others to get inside. With Micah concentrating on keeping communications down, they would have to get the cell doors open the old-fashioned way. Hence why they’d brought along everyone with the most destructive abilities. Peter and Nathan flew up first, followed by the others, the out-of-shape Eric wheezing behind. Ideally he should have stayed behind at the docks, but Mohinder knew they’d be trying to move around a hundred recently-drugged people. Someone with Eric’s power, to make people move like he wanted them to, was priceless in this situation. And even though Eric knew he’d have to run, he’d volunteered for this anyway.
“Ok, go!” Peter shouted, and Mohinder rammed the door. It took three hits, but buckled in its frame, letting him fling it out of the way. The rebels poured in, Sylar first to crush the robotic sentries in their tracks. He made it look easy, but Mohinder could guess those guns could to frightful damage if even one went off.
“Ando, the lists!” Mohinder said. Ando peeled off from the main group as they ran into the central cellblock, Mohinder pausing just long enough to crack open the door to the security office for him. While the others would be breaking and entering, Ando would get the lists of names of every person in here, the lists Molly had been denied for a week, as well as all the hunters stationed here. She’d make sure they wouldn’t leave anyone behind.
“I’ll go high, you go low, tiger!” Elle said gleefully, letting her lightning spark across the electronic locks installed on every cell. Luke was smiling grimly, letting his microwaves scorch every bit of circuitry he could see. Behind those cell doors were still figures, dressed in white scrubs and strapped to their bunks, tubes going into and out of them like some kind of weird sci-fi experiment. That could have been him, he realized, and used the anger that caused to fuel his power. Cells were popping open in their wake, letting the others in to free the trapped specials.
As long as he could concentrate on destroying stuff, Luke could keep his mind off of Sylar. Trotting along behind him, watching him coolly break apart the robotic guns that could have ripped any one of the rebels to shreds, had made him remember Sylar’s ultimatum back in the woods of Montana. If Sylar hadn’t been here… Luke didn’t even want to think what would have happened. He was carrying them all right now, and Luke knew it.
Luke shook himself out of his thoughts, and looked back as he reached the end of the row. He could see there were already a dozen, wobbly-legged people being helped out of their cells.
“Is that it?” Peter asked into his communicator. “Molly, you have the list, right? Is there anyone in any other building?”
“That’s it. Just get them down here, fast!” Molly said.
“Ok people, let’s move like we have a purpose!” Elle announced, reaching into the closest cell and unstrapping the man on the bunk. “Wakey, wakey! We need to take a walk. And if you puke on me on the way down to the dock, you’ll wish you’d never been born-.”
Luke snorted with laughter despite the grim situation, and moved to unstrap the guy closest to him. If he could keep his mind on doing this, then he didn’t have time to think about the fact that in probably less than fifteen minutes, Peter was going to ask Sylar to take this very building down around their ears. Something that he knew for certain Peter hadn’t discussed with him beforehand, and probably for good reason.
“Go on, get these people out, and then make sure the ferry’s ready to cast off,” Peter urged, and Mohinder heaved two semi-conscious specials onto his back. With a last, reluctant look at Sylar, he nodded at Peter and ran out the door. Eric was the next-to-last rebel in the prison, and he had the last four specials, so out of it from the drugs that they needed him to move them.
“That’s the last of them,” Peter said, and Eric nodded. He paused his group of living marionettes and looked back at Sylar, who was at the end of the block.
“If you’re going to do it, I’d do it fast. The others will get curious and come back for you otherwise,” he counseled. Peter could feel himself going pale, but nodded. Somehow he wasn’t surprised that Eric Doyle had been the only one to call him on what he was about to do. It seemed fitting.
Eric hustled the last of the specials out of the cellblock without another word, leaving Peter and Ando alone with Sylar. Eric had been right; Peter didn’t want any more witnesses than were absolutely necessary for what was going to happen.
“I have to say, this was a fairly boring party,” Sylar said, strolling up with a contemptuous yawn.
“Not enough of a challenge for you?” Peter asked, trying to slow his hammering heart.
“Not nearly. Dismantling robots is hardly difficult work.”
“How about something bigger? We need the hunters to know they can’t ever pull something like this again.”
Peter pulled Matt’s drawings from his pocket. During all their planning with Sylar, no one had ever shown them to him, and he’d never asked. Maybe it had been out of arrogance. Maybe, like Mohinder had suggested, it was because Sylar’s last few experiences with future drawings had been particularly brutal. But either way, Peter needed him to know now. He handed the drawings over, and let Sylar draw his own conclusions.
“He can tell the history of any object he touches. That was an ability he acquired while he was at the Company. You have to be very careful what you tell him, Peter, because eventually he’ll figure out any lie. And when he does, he won’t be pleased.” Angela hadn’t asked for understanding or forgiveness for her part in that chapter of Sylar’s past, but Peter had been grateful just for the truth.
“You want to take down the damn walls?” Sylar snarled, not at all pleased by this turn of events.
“We have to! That’s what Matt drew,” Peter said. Sylar narrowed his eyes.
“How the hell am I supposed to do that, Petrelli?”
“With his help.”
Peter turned, calling, and Ando came running, up dodging the debris from the robots Sylar had already taken out.
“Hiro’s friend,” Sylar said flatly. “What the hell are you going to do?”
“Help you,” Ando said, just as flatly.
“I didn’t want him to know about you,” Peter explained. Ando nodded, looking over his shoulder in paranoia, even though he knew Sylar had gone out for a walk. It didn’t take a genius to understand that his ability, initially so useful, could be deadly to him if Sylar found out about it. Everyone had been ostentatiously ignoring the fact that Ando even had an ability.
“Yes, I understand, but why do you want him to know now?”
Peter looked across the room at Angela Petrelli. Ando saw him go pale and start to look sick.
“My mother dreams the future,” he said. “If Alcatraz falls, and we’re able to change something about this whole government mess for the better, then someone is going to die.” Peter swallowed, and finally said it. “If we give him the power he needs to destroy the island, Sylar dies.”
Ando flicked his eyes to the door where Sylar had gone, and then over to Hiro. Sylar was a killer, a psychopath, a villain in every sense of the word. He’d seen Sylar’s handiwork close up, on poor, innocent Charlie, on Isaac Mendez; he’d watched the man kill his own mother, for God’s sake. Shouldn’t he be glad that Peter had found some way to end the man while still doing something good?
He didn’t, though. He felt just as nauseous as Peter looked. To bring someone in to help and then use that unspoken trust to lure him into death? He could practically hear what Hiro would say, “That is not the hero’s path. A true warrior would meet his enemy face-to-face.”
“New York didn’t blow up,” Ando said instead. “Your mother dreamed that too, right?”
“Yeah,” Peter said, looking relieved.
“So… we can change it?”
“We won’t know until we try. I don’t care if it is Sylar, I don’t want anyone else to die!” Peter said, sounding like he was in agony.
“Then let’s do it.”
“You wanted power, Sylar,” Peter said, briefly clapping Ando on the shoulder to absorb his ability. Ando’s heart began to pound, and hoped to hell Peter knew what he was doing. “We’re going to give you as much as you can handle. All you have to do is bring this place down. Every. Single. Stone.”
“What kind of power can you give me that’ll take this place apart?” Sylar asked, looking from side to side at the sturdy walls.
“Supercharge your own powers. Then you can do anything,” Ando said, raising his hands to let red lightning jump from palm to palm.
Sylar stared at him with shock and hunger, and then fixed his gaze on Peter, sobering.
“So, that’s how this is going to go. Kill two birds with one stone.”
He knew. Ando didn’t know how he’d figured it out, but he knew.
“I don’t want anyone to die tonight,” Peter said, and Ando knew he meant it.
Sylar looked up at the ceiling for a few heartbeats, and Ando would have given a lot to know what was going on in his head.
“Let’s do this,” he said suddenly, and braced himself.
“Peter, stop talking and do it!” he yelled.
The tension in the room snapped. As one, Peter and Ando raised their hands and hit Sylar with a double blast of supercharged power.
As Luke hustled the last of Eric’s woozy specials into the ferry, he could feel the dock beneath him begin to rumble. Behind him, orange light began to fill the sky. Turning, hearing gasps and screams from the others in the ferry, Luke saw the buildings above him begin to rip themselves apart. A howling crescendo of sound was coming out of the main prison, and the other buildings began to disassemble themselves, stones coming apart in a frightening display of telekinetic power.
Nathan and Hiro stared up at the destruction with horror, and Luke did a quick mental headcount.
“Oh fuck,” he muttered. Peter, Ando, and Sylar were still up there.
“I’m going after them!” Nathan said, and Mohinder abruptly yanked him down before he could take flight.
“You can’t fly into that! It’d be suicide!” Mohinder yelled. “We have to get these people away from here as soon as possible.”
“I’m not leaving anyone behind!” Nathan screamed, trying and failing to pull free from Monhinder’s grasp. “Damn it, let me go! I can’t leave him, I can’t do that to him again.”
Luke looked up at the unholy Armageddon going on above, realizing Sylar was the cause of all of it, and finally felt fear untainted by any of his old desire. Whatever Sylar might have been, now that he had as much power as he could handle, he was showing his true colors. Luke could have been a part of that, of the world ripping itself apart for his own pleasure. And it scared him to death.
He felt Elle’s hand slip into his own as Nathan continued to rage against Mohinder.
“We don’t know if they’re even alive!” Mohinder was saying, still holding Nathan back.
Molly’s voice rang out through the half-panicked crowd like a clarion trumpet. “Peter and Ando are alive!”
Luke felt his heart skip a beat. She hadn’t said anything about Sylar.
Matt stepped forward and put his hand on Mohinder’s shoulder. Mohinder abruptly let Nathan go, and turned aside.
“Go, get them!” Molly urged. Nathan didn’t have to be told twice, and was out of the boat and into the sky like a shot.
“Cast off!” Monica screamed to Mohinder. “Cast off now! We can’t be this close!”
Mohinder ran for the ropes, leaping back onto the ship as Monica began to pull away, opening up the engine the minute they were pointed towards open water. The still-woozy specials were mostly just clinging to whatever rails and chairs they could, staring open-mouthed at the destructive kaleidoscope above them. West, looking green and terrified, was standing with Matt over the bound hunters. The few of them that were awake were too smart, and too distracted, to talk.
Luke and Elle squinted up at Alcatraz as the ferry pulled away, and Molly joined them at the window.
“Where are they?” Elle whispered, and Luke nearly couldn’t hear her above the clattering of the engines and the roar of the exploding stones.
“He’s going to die,” Luke said, the words out of his mouth before he could stop to filter them.
Sylar was riding the wave of his own powers, enhanced clairsentience letting him “see” every building on the island, every beam, every rivet, every stone. His mind stabbed out in all directions, wrenching stones from their mortar, screws from their walls, bars from their moorings. He was disassembling everything he could sense like it was a poorly made watch, and then started to dissect them further. Stones began to split in half again and again, and metal began to shred. Sylar realized that with his powers pumped up so far, with red lightning crackling in his veins, he could reduce things to a molecular level, cause a chain reaction, recombine the elements to scour the entire place clean. He’d never been able to do so much, so quickly, and it was unbelievably intoxicating.
A voice, insistent and nearby, intruded. He turned to see Peter and Ando standing on a crumbling platform of rock surrounded by a fine mist of particles. The same platform he was standing on, soon to be lost to the greater work, the perfect cleansing.
“Sylar, that’s enough! Please, we have to go!” Peter pleaded.
Sylar looked up to see Nathan forcing himself through the haze of stone and metal, flying through the sharp shards to land at Peter’s side.
“Pete, we have to get out of here,” Nathan said. His grip on Peter’s shoulder was implacable, the no-nonsense grip of a man determined to spare his younger brother any further harm. Not a politician, not anymore. And Ando, frightened into silence by what Sylar was doing, scared that he might be the next thing dismantled, but standing strong in the face of almost certain death. Just like all the rebels had, from Molly to Luke, even in facing him, their worst nightmare.
They were going to pull this off. The rebels were going to actually change the whole damn world.
And that was the truest thing Sylar had ever known. Maybe the only true thing he’d ever known. What good were goals when they brought him nothing he’d been able to truly savor? He didn’t belong in the world the rebels were going to make. He’d always wanted to be special, and maybe this time he actually could be.
The deadly haze suddenly stilled for a second, and all three of the others turned to stare at him, not knowing what was going on.
“Go,” he said shortly.
“Sylar, come on-,” Peter started, reaching out a hand.
“Go!” he roared. “Tell Luke and Elle… they were right.”
Sylar saw Peter opened his mouth to protest, turned his mind towards them and shoved them clear of his own funeral pyre.
Molly suddenly shrieked as the sky turned yellow and white. Luke shielded his eyes futilely, tears stinging them when he put his arm down to see Alcatraz Island scoured down to the bare rock.
“He’s gone,” Elle whispered. “He’s gone…”
“Look, look!” Molly cried, and pointed up into the sky. They could see three faint figures silhouetted against the exploding sky, two of them flying away from the wreckage, carrying a third between them.
Luke didn’t ask which three people it was. He already knew.
Luke lay on the floor of the warehouse, Elle next to him, so worn-out he didn’t want to move for the next three weeks. Most of the others looked the same, to one degree or another. They’d barely gotten docked when they’d had to hustle everyone into a warehouse, needing to protect the specials, and themselves, from a retaliatory attack from the remaining hunters. All it would take would be one angry hunter team to find them, and mass carnage would ensue.
For a half hour, they’d sat in tense waiting, every little noise making everyone jump and prepare to defend themselves. Then Micah had straightened up behind his laptop, looking surprised to the point of being in shock.
“The hunters are being called in,” he said in wonder.
A few moments later, Peter had gotten a call from Angela, and Luke watched his expression go from stressed to relieved in the time it took to blink.
“They’re coming. Hang tight everyone,” he said, and had to sit down, eyes looking suspiciously wet. Nathan put an arm around his shoulder, and Luke could see everyone in the crowd starting to go limp with relief. Peter had been wound so tight, that to see him actually sitting down meant something.
Around the warehouse everyone else was doing the same. Matt and Mohinder were hovering over the kids with Monica, West was staring blankly at the floor, and Alex, newly arrived, wet-headed, and still trying to warm up again, was curled up in a blanket. The other rebels were scattered amongst the rescued specials, or guarding the very intimidated hunters.
It was only when Luke and Elle had managed to find an untenanted patch of floor that Ando found them. Like Peter and Nathan, he was smudged with soot and had small cuts on his face and hands. He looked, in short, like he’d just lived through a war.
“Sylar wouldn’t leave,” he blurted out. “Peter wanted to save him, but he wouldn’t stop using his powers.”
The rest of Ando’s words seemed to stick in his throat, and Elle just shook her head. “I don’t want to talk about him anymore.”
“Wait,” Ando got out. “He said… right before he pushed us clear… he said, ‘Tell Luke and Elle they were right.’”
“God damn it,” Elle said, softly and fervently. “God damn it, Sylar.”
“Why didn’t he go?” Luke asked out loud, his eyes feeling tight and hot.
“I don’t know, I-,” Ando cut himself and looked away. Flushing with embarrassment, he finally worked his way back through the crowd, leaving Luke and Elle alone.
“What the fuck?” Luke said quietly. Elle wrapped her arms around him, and Luke realized he was crying. “What the hell was he thinking?”
“He’s done,” Elle said, and Luke could hear the thickness in her voice. “He’s done, tiger.”
Luke reached up to hold onto Elle, feeling her shaking just as badly as he was. Sylar was done, but he’d never be gone, not for them.
Peter jerked to his feet when the main door to the warehouse suddenly opened. He felt stark panic when men in suits and earpieces began to pour into the place, panic that was only relieved when Matt’s voice echoed through his head.
It’s Angela and Noah, don’t panic. They’re here, and they brought the president!
What?!” Peter said, hearing the same questions ripped from another dozen throats. Angela had said she’d succeeded in bringing in a higher power, and Matt had drawn it, but still, to hear it and see it face-to-face in light of all that had happened tonight was incredible.
Hard on the heels of the secret service agents was a black limousine with American flags fluttering from the back. It glided to a halt almost right in front of Peter, and he felt his mouth go dry. This was what they’d planned for, hoped for, sacrificed for, and now that it was happening, Peter wasn’t even sure if he was going to be able to talk. This had always been Nathan’s sort of thing, rather than his.
The agents ringed themselves around the limo, looking dour and suspicious, but not nearly as afraid as Peter had feared. After all, for several months, people like him had been potential terrorists.
The door to the limo opened, revealing Angela and Noah. His mother, Peter saw, was looking more than usually smug. Noah, even more so. They had, he hoped, good reason. Peter was heartsick at Sylar’s loss, afraid that he wouldn’t be able to face the music that was coming, and also painfully triumphant that the rebels had finally managed to make something change.
The rebels and specials were almost unconsciously crowding around the limo, trying to get a good look as President Dorn stepped out. A hush descended over the crowd as he took a few steps forward, meeting Peter and Nathan’s eyes.
“Senator Petrelli, I believe you and I will have to have a long conversation about the best way to protect the American people,” he said.
“I’ve had recent cause to reverse my previous stance, Mr. President,” Nathan replied, with a precise incline of his head.
Not smiling, the President turned to face Peter squarely.
“Mr. Petrelli, over the course of the past few months, you have been running a rebellion against American soldiers. You’ve been the cause of dozen of fake identities, the injury of many men, and the destruction of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of U.S. government property, in addition to the complete… dismantling of Alcatraz.”
“We didn’t ask to be born how we are,” Peter started, but the President cut him off.
“You did not, but it doesn’t stop the fact that some of you have been born with abilities that are more powerful than any weapon. And these abilities cannot be detected, cannot be regulated, and cannot be controlled by anything more than the will of the user. They could be anywhere, at any time. While some of you are decent people who want nothing more than to live their lives in peace, all it takes is one person willing to use their powers for selfish, illegal personal gain, and there will be an outcry such as this world has never seen. The panic and destruction that would ensue would make a world war look tame in comparison.” The President looked over at Nathan while he spoke, and Peter suddenly realized, in a way Nathan had never been able to explain, why he’d done what he’d done.
“However, in the course of your rebellion, you never killed anyone. You never let a single soldier die, no matter the cost to you, not even in retaliation for the extreme violence of the tactics brought against you by rogue elements. You rescued over a hundred people without harming anything but property, and you did it for the right reasons.”
“Mr. President, what do you want?” Peter asked, a lump in his throat. “What are we going to do?” What could they do in the face of everything that had happened? What could compensate for the crimes he’d committed to try to stop the government madness, or the crimes some of the rebels had committed before Peter had known them? What could possibly compensate for the people that had died on both sides, the lives that had been lost, and the people that had been sacrificed?
“We can’t go on like we have been. And we can’t go back to the way things were. I think there’s a middle ground, and we can find a solution that works for all citizens,” he said, looking out over the crowd of specials as he spoke. “You went to a lot of trouble to get my attention.” He nodded in the direction of Alcatraz. “Let’s see what we can do together.”
Peter stepped forward to shake the President’s hand, and could feel everyone behind him beginning to straighten up, taking on the strength of new hope. Peter could feel it too, feel the end of the war, and the start of something new.