Pairings/Characters: Peter, Sylar, Nathan. Nathan/Peter if you squint.
Warnings: Language, Angst, Mention of Past Character Death
Word count: ~2250
Disclaimer: I do not own Heroes or its characters, and I make no money from the writing of this story.
Summary: While Peter and Sylar are trapped in Matt’s nightmare world, Peter’s grief over Nathan’s death starts getting the best of him.
A/N: Takes place during the time period of season 4, episode 18, “The Wall”. Prompt used: Author’s choice. Also for Themed Table: Horror, Prompt 02: Nightmare at mission_insane. Thank you to ilikethequiet for the quick beta and more.
The only thing worse than spending eternity stuck in a nightmare with Sylar, Peter thought, was knowing that even this eternity wasn’t forever.
It seemed like months had passed, but Peter knew better. They had sustenance in this dream world, but in reality that meant nothing. Sylar could lie unconscious trapped behind that brick wall in Matt Parkman’s basement indefinitely, cursed to die and regenerate over and over from lack of air, and of food and water. Peter, on the other hand, had maybe a week tops.
The focus wasn’t so much on saving Emma anymore: it was on saving himself. So many people were going to die if he couldn’t find a way out of this Godforsaken place.
And Sylar wasn’t helping. He was content to believe this was his reality now, no matter how Peter tried to convince him otherwise. He would pore over a dog-eared copy of The Catcher in the Rye, or try to strike up conversation with Peter when he took short breaks from smashing futilely at the wall with his sledgehammer.
He could hardly stand to look at Sylar, let alone talk to him. He’d taken Nathan from him with just a simple twitch of his hand. All the apologies in the world couldn’t change it. Sylar’s repeated insistence that that part of his life was behind him? That didn’t matter, either. Peter was still angry, still hurting. He had to get them out of here before his real body gave out, or he drove himself crazy with his grief. He had to get away from the person who’d destroyed everything.
Sometimes the anger was all that kept Peter going. Every swing he took, he imagined he was hitting Sylar instead.
You killed my brother. Slam.
I should leave you here to die. Over and over again. Slam.
You deserve it for what you did to Nathan. Slam.
You’ll never change. You’ll always be a killer. Slam.
That was his thought process, from morning until night. A ritual that helped keep him from going insane, and not to mention prevented him from actually turning the hammer on Sylar. He only relented when his body ached and his muscles screamed for rest, until the calluses that had formed on his hands opened and bled when he went on for too long.
For a nightmare world constructed by Parkman’s power, everything seemed extremely real.
Day gave way into night, each in equal measures, and it started all over again. But the weather never changed. No rain, no snow. Not even a breeze. Physical pain and exhaustion? Those were real. They were welcome, exceptional tools to insure Peter would not slip back into his denial.
Sylar had a habit of unintentionally emulating his brother, remnants no doubt of Nathan’s personality left inside him. He would recall memories Peter himself didn’t even remember well, brought to the surface of his mind just by that slight change in Sylar’s voice and body language.
But he’d never be Nathan, even as much as Peter himself had wanted it to be true the night he’d asked the Haitian for his help. Nathan had really been gone for months, even while he was right there in front of him the whole time. Peter had been overcome by denial and desperation, and even his greatest efforts had failed. Sylar had emerged the victor, and Peter had accepted his loss.
Or so he thought.
Sylar would never be Nathan, but his lapses into Nathan’s personality just made it that much harder.
Sometimes in the middle of one of his marathon sessions at the wall, Peter would entertain the possibility of Sylar inadvertently shifting into his brother’s form. Just to be able to see him one more time, be with him one more time. He knew it could never happen; after Peter asked him to, Sylar had tried going at the wall with his telekinesis with no result. Sylar had cut himself shaving and hadn’t healed. Powerless, both of them.
“God damn it,” Peter sighed, throwing down the hammer in frustration, the sound of the metal clattering on the concrete almost deafening against the silence of the empty city block.
“Here, take a break. You look exhausted,” Sylar said, handing him a bottle of water and a plate of food. Peter was reminded yet again that his real body was in danger, and he refused it as per usual.
“Fine, suit yourself.”
Sylar sat cross-legged, resting his back against the bricks, and dug into his own plate of chicken and rice. “You should try it, Peter. It turned out better than I expected.”
Sylar might have been powerless, but was Peter, really? He had Parkman’s ability; that was how he’d gotten into this mess in the first place. That alone hadn’t been enough to end the dream, but if he tricked his unconscious body into thinking he’d eaten, maybe he could buy himself some more time. Mind over matter, right?
He sat down next to Sylar and took the plate, and after the first bite, ate as if he hadn’t tasted food in months. Technically, it was the truth.
“You win. You always do,” Peter said, with more animosity than he’d meant to let show.
Sylar merely smiled at him, and answered, “I’ll take that as your expression of gratitude. Enjoy.”
Thankfully, Sylar was quiet for the rest of the meal, and when Peter set down his empty plate, a wave of sheer exhaustion threatened to overwhelm him. Willpower wouldn’t help him here, not with a full stomach and that comfortable shoulder he was currently leaning against. Sleep would be wonderful; it had been so long…
Can’t sleep. Can’t waste time, his mind demanded. He tried to lift his head, stop his eyelids from drooping closed, but to no avail.
“Come on, rest for a little while,” Peter heard him say. “I don’t know how you can do that all day, and then lie awake all night.”
Peter opened his mouth to retort, but he only managed a sigh. What the hell was Sylar doing watching him when he thought he was alone? There was a whole damn empty city out there that Sylar could wander at night while contemplating his supposed redemption.
“Always so stubborn,” Sylar observed softly. “When you set your mind to something, you never give up, even when the odds are stacked against you. I always loved that about you, Peter.”
There it was, that slightly higher tone that came into his voice. “You’re doing it again,” Peter whispered, trying to push himself out of Sylar’s arms. But his muscles just wouldn’t obey his commands. “Stop it. Just stop it. Let me go.”
He was lying to himself, and he knew it. He missed Nathan so badly, and in his tired, susceptible state, he didn’t want him to stop. He didn’t want him to let go. Just to be with Nathan one more time, to see him and talk to him one more time, maybe that was all it would take for this nightmare to be worth it.
“I’m not doing it on purpose, Peter. I keep trying to tell you that,” Sylar said, sounding like himself again. “Forget it. I know you don’t want to hear it.”
At that, Peter snapped awake and wrenched himself out of Sylar’s embrace, pushing him back. “Don’t want to hear what? That you’re sorry, for the hundredth time? You’re absolutely right. Now leave me alone.” Peter got to his feet, wobbling a little, and Sylar stood up immediately to steady him before he fell.
Sylar’s face was obscured somewhat by shadows, and Peter was glad for it. He didn’t want to look up and see the apology he didn’t want to hear in Sylar’s expression instead.
“That’s not what I was going to say,” Sylar said, reaching out to touch Peter’s face. “I think…he’s not really gone. I know I can’t fix what I did, and I can’t make you forgive me. But I keep trying anyway. It’s all I can do. Ever since you’ve been here, he’s been here too. You don’t want to let him go, and he doesn’t either. You say this is just a nightmare, but it’s real, Peter.”
Peter turned away, trying not to let the words get to him. “No, it’s not real. Just because you know everything there is to know about my brother doesn’t make it real. You just don’t get it, do you? You’re not him!”
But God, I wish you were…
Peter shook Sylar’s steadying arm off of him and walked away. Where was he going to go? He couldn’t get out of here, not unless he found a way to bring down that wall. Maybe this wasn’t Sylar’s nightmare anymore…maybe it was his own. Not only was he condemned to spend an eternity with the man who killed his brother, he was doomed to be reminded of that fact every single day.
Death really would be a better fate than this.
He fought against the tears that blurred his vision while he walked, and stopped only when he was too tired to take another step. He curled up in that dark, secluded alleyway and fell asleep almost instantly, into dreams that felt real, dreams of Nathan. Dreams he never wanted to wake from.
But he did, eventually. Bright sunlight shone down on him, and Peter jerked awake.
How long had he slept? How much time had passed? A day? A week? Was anything real anymore?
Peter got up and ran as fast as he could towards the place where the wall stood. Still there, of course, large and looming and not broken in the slightest. Nothing had changed. Peter resigned himself to another exhausting day of hammering at the wall.
Sylar was conspicuously absent, but Peter didn’t think much of it. Maybe his outburst had finally sunk in, and Sylar really would leave him be.
A few more days passed, every one the same as the day before it, and Peter had taken to talking to himself to fill the silence. He was losing it because of his self-inflicted solitude. Talking to oneself was the first sign of insanity, wasn’t it?
So while Peter hammered incessantly at the wall, he decided any company was better than none at all.
“Sylar, you win again! I give up! Where the hell are you?” he called, turning around towards the building where he knew Sylar spent most of his time.
No answer. Peter was alone, just like he’d wanted.
He let the hammer fall from his exhausted, numbed arms, and collapsed to a sitting position at the base of the bricks, pressing his face into his hands. When he opened his eyes, he was not prepared for the sight that greeted him.
Nathan stood before him, dressed immaculately in a three-piece suit and a shirt so white it almost blinded him.
What the hell?
“Great, I’m fucking hallucinating in my nightmare,” Peter moaned, rubbing at his eyes. Nathan held out a hand to him, and Peter took it, getting to his feet.
“Maybe. But Sylar’s not here. You sent him away,” Nathan said, smiling slightly. “You needed me, so I came for you. You want to get the hell out of here? Forget him. You don’t need him to save that girl. You can do it all by yourself. I told you that, remember? You can do anything.”
Nathan looked up at the wall, and his smile widened. He gave Peter a conspiratorial look, one that Peter never realized he’d missed so much.
But what was Nathan suggesting? How could he get through the wall?
“That’s bullshit, Nathan. I can’t get out of here. I’ve tried.” Peter leaned over to pick up the hammer, but Nathan grabbed his hand.
“You don’t need to break it down. Just fly over it. It’s your dream now. I’ll stay here and make sure Sylar stays right where he belongs.”
Peter sighed, ready to object, but figured he could at least try. He gripped Nathan’s hand and concentrated, imagined taking Nathan’s flight. There it was: the bright blue flash that meant it worked.
Before he could stop himself, he took his lost brother in a tight embrace.
“Thank you,” he murmured into Nathan’s shoulder. Everything about him, about this, was real. This dream world couldn’t be so bad if Nathan were here, could it?
But he knew he couldn’t stay. Nothing was forever. The real world needed him back.
“Go on, get out of this nightmare,” Nathan instructed, the smile never leaving his face. “Go save the world, Pete.”
“All right,” Peter answered, finally letting him go. “I’ll see you again one day, Nathan.”
Before he could change his mind, he turned to the wall and pushed skyward, clearing the wall, hopeful he was leaving the nightmare behind him.
Peter opened his eyes, and for a second, thought maybe he’d been dreaming again when he saw the bricks inches from his face. After he got his bearings, he realized his mouth was terribly dry, and his limbs were stiff and painful from lack of movement.
He was really awake now, in Parkman’s basement where it had all started, the wall still intact. Sylar was still locked away, where he belonged. Thanks to Nathan.
Or had Nathan been right? Had Peter done it himself after all? He’d never really know, would he?
Peter did know one thing, with absolute certainty. It was time to do what he did best: save the world.
Assignment: Rating requested (G-NC-17): G through hard-R
Characters or pairings requested: I prefer fanfic that isn't Mohinder or Matt-centric...any other characters/pairings are fine by me. I especially like Peter and/or Nathan fic.
Prompts requested (please list at least 4; you may list more if you wish):
(not in order of preference)
1. Micah - all grown up.
2. Claire - "So scared of growing older/I'm only good at being young."
3. Nathan/Meredith- "Slow dancing in a burning room."
4. Peter/Nathan - "But even at our swiftest speed we couldn't break from the concrete."
5. Author's choice.
Things you DON’T want in your fic (squicks, triggers, genres you dislike etc): Non-con or incestuous pairings, besides Peter/Nathan.