Notes: Headers/details on main page.
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow
Life is very long
Niki's sipping on a glass of wine at her table when the door opens, and someone walks in. There aren't shouts and warrants, so that rids her of one vague fear, and since the person entered at all, there's no need to grab a stake, holy water, and get on the defensive.
"Hey, stranger," she says, and turns around, waiting for the blank air in front of her to dissolve into Peter. She's missed him, gotten a little paranoid, she'll admit that to herself. Sure, she didn't weep every night waiting for him, and she's pissed that he's still obsessed with a job that'll never get done. He'll never change things, and she wishes he'd live in the world he has to live in. But maybe he'll never change, either, and she has missed him. She reaches out, ready to pull him in for a kiss, but two figures appear in front of her, instead-- Peter, looking dark and pretty much the same, with his hand on the shoulder of a girl with her arms crossed, a thin scar streaked across her lips, blonde hair tied tightly back in a braid, bearing pointed, split tips, flung over her other shoulder. She's staring darkly at Niki, and Niki stares back, glance flickering between her and Peter.
The girl cocks a hip, keeps her arms crossed. "Buffy Summers." Her voice sounds bored.
"The Slayer," Peter says, and Niki crosses her arms, too. "Uh," she says. "What is she doing in my home?" Niki notices how Peter furtively takes his hand off of Buffy's shoulder as he comes forward to her.
"Niki," he says, and belatedly comes to kiss her. She turns her face so his lips get her jawbone instead, and he pulls away, face concerned-looking. She tries to ignore his glance.
"I asked," she says, shrugging her hands in the air and then letting them hit her thighs, "What is this?"
He holds out a hand to stop her from speaking. "I can explain. I know you don't like me fighting, but--"
"We're doing it for Claire," Buffy says, sticking her chin out with emphasis, disdain in pools in her eyes. Her voice is mock-heroic, mock-triumphant. Niki hates the girl already.
Peter shoots Buffy an incredulous, horrified look, and then looks at Niki. Before he can speak again, she takes a breath and says, "Excuse me. Peter, can I talk to you for a second? In private?" He nods, and Buffy gives a shrug, and Niki and Peter trail into the kitchen.
"What do you think you're doing?" Niki hisses. "You told me you were done, you told me you were moving on."
"We can't, Niki. I've gotta try and take these people down. We can never live normally with my brother and his people still in office, and these vamps running the streets. We can't even have kids, Niki, they won't let us. The fear, we've gotta--"
"We are not having kids, Peter. Especially not now." Her body language is all on the defensive. "You slept with her."
"Why would I--" Peter begins, but she shakes her head roughly.
"Don't lie to me, Peter." Her voice is cracking with the start of tears. "I love you too damn much for you to lie to me." When she says it, she knows two things-- that she's right, and that she's not lying to him. He looks at her, his eyes and face still so boyish despite the scar, and then he looks down.
"You did," she says, and looks away in disgust, violently swiping a tear off her cheek.
"Listen," Peter says. Oh, so now he's trying to calm her down. "I did, but it was just once, okay, and I don't love her, Niki, I--"
"And you don't love me enough, either. Get out." He makes a coaxing move and she screams it next, "Get out!"
He closes his mouth and nods, and walks out of the room. "I guess that's one less person in on this," she hears him say to the Slayer.
"The way I like it," Buffy says back. Niki stands staring, furiously, at the wall, blinking hard, and smearing the tears off her cheeks.
"Peter," Hiro says, raising his head as Petrelli appears into the room, rather than walking in. "I was just thinking about coming after you."
"Things are heating up, yeah, I'm glad you noticed," Peter says. "Sorry to just barge in here. Listen." He takes Hiro's shoulder in his hand and pulls him aside. "I've been drawing again, and there are some really weird things--"
Peter suddenly does a double-take, and Hiro's almost disappointed, like he didn't want to share this with anyone else.
"Ando?" Peter says. "You are here?" His pronunciation is all Americanized, like Peter's saying "and", not a name.
But Hiro thinks Peter's emphasis has to be important, too. Has he heard something, or--?
Ando-- ahn-doh-- waves cheerily. "Everyone's so surprised to see me."
Hiro sees Ando staring curiously at Peter's face and remembers that the scar hasn't been there forever. It's just that everything after Ando's death has felt like forever.
"Did you tell--" Peter begins, to Hiro, and Ando's expression darkens, and he and Hiro say, "Yes," at the same time.
Peter nods, and keeps looking at Ando. "Huh," he says. "Well, it's really good to see you, Ando, but Hiro, I've got some bad news. I did some more drawings." He pulls a folded bunch of papers out of the back pocket of his pants, unfolds them, and hands them to Hiro. He's seen so many of these over the years, seen the progression of Peter's art, but he knows it's never been a passion for Peter. Especially not with the subjects of the drawings.
There's a few sketches of building signs all bearing the same words: The Bronze. There's one of an old vampire, ancient-looking, surrounded by smudged pencil blurs that look vaguely like people in motion, dying, falling, killing.
And then there's one of Ando, slumped over a table, head contorted at an odd angle, some sort of dark liquid pouring out of is mouth, a gun next to him. It's only pencil and dirty notebook paper, but it's graphically, sickeningly clear that Ando's dead. He stares at the page.
"Yeah," Peter says, gruffly, hesitantly. "It didn't make sense before I knew that--" Hiro's still staring at the paper, but sees in his peripheral Peter turning towards Ando. "Before I saw you here, Ando," Peter finishes.
Peter gives them silence for a few moments, before, "Sorry. I figured you should know."
Hiro nods, but says nothing.
Another pause, and then: "Why does the Bronze sound familiar?" Peter asks. He looks like he's wincing a little to address a topic Hiro knows he knows is inane in front of the other messages the papers bear.
"It's the main hot spot in California. They center of Sunnydale. They took it over," Hiro says, dropping the hand holding the papers to his side. He can't keep looking at them morbidly, can he?
"Huh," Peter says.
"Will you-- uh. Will both of you-- meet me in D.C., I guess? I was with the Slayer in Cleveland, and we've decided we've gotta do something. I sent her to work on the government stuff right now in D.C., see what the connections really are, and then we're gonna get our plan together. I'd be great if you could get involved." His voice gets a little quieter. "I know the pictures--"
"They always come true anyway," Hiro says, sharply, and Peter nods.
"I know," he says. His voice is grim. "Believe me, I know. Save the cheerleader--"
"Save the world," Hiro finishes, with none of the determination he once had, a sarcastic, finished emphasis if anything. It never works, and he knows it, and he's heard little of Peter's niece, little of what she was really like, besides false hope, but he knows Peter's felt the same desperation-- and the same resignation.
"Let me know," Hiro says, "When you're attacking, what you'll do. I'll come with you."
Peter nods again, and then he's gone.
The sting of the future never disappears. Hiro feels like he's failed, once again, and this time, he's not naive enough-- innocent enough-- to believe that he can actually change the future. It never stops happening. Hiro turns. He can't think of anything to say, so he just looks at Ando, intensely. Ando looks uncomfortable and a little scared, but he's not looking away from Hiro, he almost looks apologetic, like he wants to comfort Hiro, rather than focus on himself. And he'll die. Hiro wishes-- he wishes--
"Maybe," Ando begins, and Hiro keeps looking at his eyes, a little surprised. "Maybe you didn't bring me here to save me."
"I can't. I'll try, but I don't think-- I don't think it'll work."
Ando doesn't look any more scared with this declaration; he just nods. "Exactly. Maybe..." Ando's voice is slow and uncertain, but he continues anyway. "Maybe you brought me here so you could see me again. Even though you couldn't save me. I mean," Ando slips into a little grin, "You appreciate me even more now that I'm going to die. You wanted one more chance, maybe, to look at my godly face."
Hiro feels a tiny smile tugging at his mouth, too, even though he's staring, awestruck, at Ando. "I've always appreciated you," he begins, but Ando's not done.
"And, you know, another chance to properly say goodbye to me." Ando looks almost gratified, very proud of his conclusions.
"And confess how much I love you?" he says, slipping back into Japanese. It sounds like a joke, Hiro makes sure it sounds like a joke, but Ando understands anyway, and Hiro sees his eyes go a little softer.
Ando nods, smile softened, too. "Yeah."
Hiro hasn't touched him, hasn't given him a hug or touched Ando's fingers while taking things from his hands. He hasn't touched Ando since the past, and he thinks he's been afraid to touch him, afraid that maybe the past, too, would dissolve under his fingers, and he'd be left with only the present, nothing behind him or in front, without Ando ever, without Ando in the office back in Japan, without Ando living before dying, and without the memory of even missing Ando for the future that wouldn't come.
But Ando doesn't disappear when Hiro finally lets his guard down and throws his arms around him like in the old days. They stand in a tight hug, not letting go, and Hiro doesn't have to think of his plans yet, doesn't have to think of being without Ando. Not yet.
He thinks maybe Ando's right, maybe that was his reason after all.
Ando would know Hiro's old self better than Hiro himself. It's exactly what Ando would have to remind him of.
An agent considerably younger and larger than Giles-- the agent's name, Parkman, dangles on a Homeland Security badge attached to his pocket-- drags him, handcuffed, plainly sore, and exhausted, through the darkened streets of Sunnydale. Giles wonders if it'll be better if a vampire attacks them right now, and kills the both of them, before any of the government madness can go on any longer. But, no, Parkman, Parkman-- there was a deal, Noah had a deal, and Parkman's wife--
"Bennet's already dead, and he tried the same lines on me, so don't. Even start. Okay?"
Giles closes his eyes briefly, while still jaggedly walking. But of course. He didn't know that part of the deal. And the government surely knows about the mind-reading. Such hypocrisy. It shouldn't surprise him any longer.
"Get in here," Parkman says, annoyed, and shoves him, into the sudden violence of lights. It's not bright, by any means, but far brighter, and louder, than the night streets, and Giles suddenly realizes, with a sickening drop in his stomach, where he is and what creatures he's surrounded by.
"Yeah, we're in the Bronze," Parkman says, and then louder, shouts to the whole crowded room of lounging, noisy vampires, "Don't even think about biting us, or your Master'll have you all beheaded."
"You can't hear us anyway," a voice mocks. Parkman spins and, and points to the vampire with dyed-green hair with a face that looks like some sort of desecration of youthful innocence. "Him," Parkman says.
Giles staggers at the implications and the show of power, astounded, terrified even, as three vampires surrounding the younger one pounce. There's a scuffle of a quick, uneven fight, and the flick of a lighter, a burst of flames, and the rest jump away as the young vampire explodes into a clump of dust suspended in the air, and drifting to the ground.
"Good work," Parkman says, not even bothering to glance more than briefly in the direction, and the next thing Giles knows, a door is being swung open, and he's thrown roughly down a short flight of stairs. It's the afflictive drop in his stomach of falling, and a hard, splitting pain pounding into his back. His head hits stone with a sickening thud, reverberating in his ears, and he groans. It's only half-lit in the room, but when he opens his eyes, he's fairly sure most of the darkness he sees is not the lighting but black floaters in his vision, swimming in and out of his eyesight.
He's slumped in a corner, feeling his body contorted at odd angles, but not in any position to move. Parkman's standing, nonchalant, over him. "Well, let's see what we've gotta do with you." Giles hears, vaguely, the beeping of buttons on a phone, and Parkman's voice, "Suresh? We've got the head of the White Hats here. There's more back at the school, I already sent in some guys to take care of them. Got any orders for this one?"
Giles feels his breath stop in his chest, hitch. He listens. Suresh-- Chandra? No, the son. Trust, trust, such a malaligned concept-- and the First, dear lord, the First, and--
"Will do, Professor." Parkman clicks his phone shut, and pulls his gun.
"If this is some sort of collaboration with vampires, why-- why are you-- wouldn't they prefer it if you kept me alive?" Giles croaks out, desperate.
"Just doin' my job. I guess you're just too much of a risk." Parkman sounds so cold.
"Your wife," Giles chokes out. "What about your wife?"
It at least merits a response. Parkman grabs the front of Giles' shirt. Giles sees anger in his eyes, fury, frustration, even in the dark.
"I'm doing this for my wife. I told you Bennet already tried that scheme too far. This is for her, and my kid."
Giles manages a scoff, inevitability giving him more dignity. "I see. You think you're-- you're building a better world for your child to live in?"
"There is no better world. I'm letting them survive," Parkman says.
Giles wishes he had met the Slayer, just once, to have spoken to her, been able to witness such struggle and force, necessity of good, some good, just that much. Just that, meeting her once, to make do for the empty concept of God.
The pain's gone with the first sound of a shot.
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom
He's treading on dangerous ground, but it's all about intent, so he thinks it'll be safe enough. It's paranoia otherwise, to believe Sylar will find out, and stop him, and hurt him. It's only that it's so easy to slip into complete fear (worship, Sylar would call it, and he would nearly be right), so easy that Mohinder sometimes forgets that Sylar isn't omniscient, Sylar doesn't know everything. He can sense emotions and hear the changes in breathing patterns, and well, yes, of course he can kill, in any way he'd like, Mohinder's more than aware of that and more than a little bitter.
But slipping him some secobarbital sodium in a glass of water? It's all about his motives. And with his intent, he can pull it off. It's almost a thrill, an odd knife-thrust of rebellion and self-respect in Mohinder's stomach when Sylar drinks it. He doesn't want to kill him-- well, sometimes he wants to, but it's not as though he will, would ever, they've already come to that conclusion together. And it's not as though Mohinder's doing anything against him.
He just wants Sylar to sleep, once, sleep without sensing everything around them, the conversations of the business men two floors down. Sleep without being able to wake up, god-like and warning, if Mohinder moves out of the bed even for a few minutes in the middle of the night. Sleep without being Sylar-- so Mohinder can look at the breathing form next to him, and see a man whose powers are inhibited, and therefore gone, having never existed, having never killed. So Mohinder can rest, next to someone just as naked and vulnerable as he is, just as unextraordinary. Sylar's Nathan enough during the day-- and Mohinder maintains acceptable professional boundaries with that Nathan, that President-- that Mohinder's sick from it. Neither suggest Sylar looks anything but himself when they're alone. But Sylar does look so different, so much more untainted, if not innocent, when he's sleeping and not waking.
He's slipped Sylar the medication at least three other times, after Sylar's touched him, unrelentingly, overpowering him on the expensive, 300-count percale sheets, mouth open and panting and pressed against Mohinder's forehead, teeth leaving marks there. Or Mohinder's gotten angry, so angry, and has forced Sylar down on his back, gripped Sylar's shoulders and lain heavy on him, thrusting against him with force Sylar allows, permits with first amusement and then rash, mindless abandon, until Mohinder's tables turn on himself again, and he's gasping and losing control, anger flickering away from his face. Sylar laughs a little and then there's the collision of mouths and they both come, tears sometimes stinging Mohinder's eyes with the release of overpowering emotions, the failure once again to ever deny or hurt the murderer he sleeps with every night, pressed close until morning.
And when Sylar's drugged and asleep, and Mohinder's still uncomfortable, drained, and chilled from cooling sweat, he runs a hand against Sylar's face, neck, almost hesitant, almost repulsed, and, too, almost longing. He watches the complete lack of malevolence in his face, the slight angles of his chin-- not hard and blocky like Nathan's jaw-- the stubble forming, the shut, overshadowed eyes, the noise of breathing, unmagnified in Mohinder's ears. It's all a parody, something that seems too regular, too right, so human. But Sylar is human. Both of them are. Thoughts and conspiracy theories of the future, of some imminent redemption for the both of them-- it all spins, around and around, in Mohinder's mind. It's what keeps him alive, keeps him sane.
Sylar's unconscious, and Mohinder's staring at the dark of the ceiling, when there's a slight metal clanging. The nightlight from the bathroom sends a dim glow to the entrance of the room, where Mohinder looks, sitting up slightly. Before he can even fathom anything, the doorknob of the bedroom door is thrust violently out of place, and the door slams open.
The President's security are under firm instructions to never disturb Nathan Petrelli at night, unless someone uses the room's intercom to call for help. But Mohinder cannot even move to clothe himself before the door is slammed shut behind the intruding figure again, and the room is flooded with too-bright light. A slight, blonde figure holding a loaded metal crossbow comes into clear and unwelcome view.
"Buffy Summers?" he chokes out, lamely gripping the sheets around him and (dear god) Sylar-- in full view, sleeping, in his own form. He grapples for his glasses, puts them on.
"What the hell is this?" Pure confusion verging into disgust is showing on the Slayer's face. "You're the goddamn Advisor, and he's the President? And you're letting him screw you. That's Sylar. Oh, you've gotta be fucking me."
Everything's rapidly collapsing before him. Mohinder flings his arm out and jerks a gun out from the drawer, points it at her. "You can't shoot us first before I shoot you. And kill you." His voice is shaking.
Buffy's face doesn't show the slightest amount of fear. "Maybe."
As though he needs to explain himself to her, through some strange impulse, he says, still holding the gun, "He has the power to read emotions, he can feel other's emotions as if they were his own. If he can feel them, he-- he can be redeemed."
He's never seen more disgust on anyone's face. "That's a pretty little facade of humanity," she says, "And it doesn't mean a damn thing. You're sleeping with something that isn't even human."
"I--" Mohinder begins, but she cuts him off, even though he's the one with the gun.
"You make me sick. I'm going to come back, and when I do, I'll kill you both. You can't even kill him in his sleep, can you? You're disgusting."
She turns her back completely, not even bothering to glance back at him, and he can't pull the trigger. She throws open the door, walks out, and is gone.
Mohinder takes the gun and points it in his own direction, lightly, for only a moment, before turning it, in shaking hands, and placing the barrel against Sylar's temple. He holds it there for a long time, listening to Sylar's breathing, looking at Sylar's closed eyes, remembering a different time, in a room that stank of his and Peter Petrelli's blood, when Sylar lay, helpless, unconscious, ready to be killed by the only person left aware in the room-- Mohinder. He had looked, a long time, then, too.
He still can't-- can't.
Mohinder puts the gun back in the drawer, gets up, switches off the light, and climbs back under the sheets. The sheets are his bars, his prison-- one he willfully, voluntarily, goes back to. He always goes back.
They meet where they planned, in the D.C. park. It's not like she's concerned that government agents are going to come after her. Not now. Good god, Buffy's sure Killer's precious little Suresh would have loved that, if she'd gotten ahold of the panic button and pressed it. How to explain something like that sleeping in your bed to the Secret Service, no matter how corrupt they are to begin with.
When Peter appears, she doesn't even flinch, just walks up to him. He looks out of breath, a little windswept, like the one time they screwed.
Buffy says, "Get this-- the President isn't Nathan Petrelli."
If he doesn't stop looking like he's been hit in the face, she'll have to actually punch him to make up for it. "What do you mean the--?"
"Sylar's the President," Buffy says, flat-out, full of ironic humor. "Don't ask me how or why, but I guess I'd better kill him. And good call on my part about your buddy Mohinder, I found him in Sylar's bed."
The confusion dissolves, leaving Peter's face filled with fury. "Out of his own free will?"
"Didn't look like he needed any convincing at all. So, better or worse than the niece thing?"
"Buffy, just don't." Peter brings a hand up to his face, rubs his scar, hard. "He's-- Nathan. So Nathan didn't--"
"Uh huh, whatever. Are we going to get some weapons and get back there?"
"Sunnydale first. I think something's happening there, and I think it's important. I did some research, and it's the Order of Aurelius that's camped out there. I drew a picture--"
"You drew?" She's somehow not surprised Peter's turning their goals into kindergarten art class.
"Right, the Slayer who's never heard of a prophecy. We need to--"
"Fine." Not like it's a problem for her anyway. "I go in, I kill whatever big wig vamps are camping out, rescue the fine people of Sunnydale, and then can we go back to actually taking care of this?"
"Yeah," he says, sharply. "Hiro Nakamura's meeting us, maybe ten miles away, and--"
"No, if you want backup, you can get it for government raids, but a nest I can take care of. Now just get us out of here."
Peter shrugs, face still furious. "Get your stuff, and we'll head out."
Once one of the most-wanted terrorists is finally caught-- Nakamura or Petrelli-- this'll be so much easier than a private jet. At least the pilot's always ready to make the trip to or from Sunnydale-- perks of being President.
The Master's teeth sink into Sylar's neck, and stay there, hard. Sylar feels his skin healing around the sunken teeth, but it seems like it's enough, he certainly feels the draining, too, the heightening pressure and the blood gushing out into the Master's mouth. Not too much, though, not too much-- he can never be sure if the DNA is present enough in his blood to transfer to someone else, and wouldn't that destroy his plan. He thinks the Master expects him to fall to his knees in gratitude and lightheadedness, but he holds himself up.
The Master draws his head away from Sylar's neck-- he feels the wound close over in an instant, and has never loved that little blonde bitch more-- and moves his arm, without rush, as to cut himself with a nail so Sylar can drink, too.
But Sylar impatiently knocks the hand away and sinks his still-human teeth into the Master's wrist, sucking. It's all familiar, this, luckily. The taste of blood is sharp and welcome, although this tastes a little stale, a little old and uncirculated.
Sylar takes his face away and wipes his mouth of the blood, and says, "Well, thank you very much."
The Master's neck snaps off and severs with a flick of Sylar's forefinger. With a shudder of the air, there's only a pile of dust on the floor, and the Master, standing, looking gratified, somewhat hunched, staring at wrinkled, clawed hands.
Sylar practices the trademark flick of the wrist shrug the Master's body does so royally.
He strides towards the curtains, reaches a hand to pull them back.
"Now we're getting somewhere," he says.
For Thine is the
Mohinder has papers spread out in front him on the rickety table, official documents with small print blurring in front of his sleep-sagging eyelids. His head is in his hands when the doors to the lab slide open. He looks up, immediately fixing his glasses, sitting up straighter.
"Yes?" It's the Haitian, still mute as ever, even now in the face of the United States government, followed carefully by another man-- Japanese, from the looks of it-- escorted by two agents. The detainee's eyes are wide and there's some mixture of fear and attempted courage on his face.
"What-- what is this?" Mohinder asks, standing.
One of the guards clears his throat and says, "He's been apprehended, Professor." Mohinder waits for further explanation, and he continues, "He was with Hiro Nakamura-- we've got Nakamura drugged. He's on his way straight to the factory, as ordered." Mohinder's stomach sinks-- yes, the appeasement Sylar so eagerly informed him of.
"Hiro will escape!" the prisoner blurts out. "He can teleport!"
"Not with our IV fluids running through him," Mohinder says, trying not to look at the prisoner. "Who is he?" he asks the guard.
"This one's Ando Masahashi. Immediate termination's in order."
"I-- and-- why have you brought him here?"
The head guard looks uncomfortable. "We're dropping Masahashi off. He asked you to do it."
The use of 'he' is completely unambiguous. The President's orders, of course. A test, to see just how deeply Mohinder will commit himself. A warning. He feels as though even the agents in the room can feel his shame, like Sylar himself would, feel it deeply and revel in it, taunt him.
Mohinder opens his mouth, and then shuts it again, bowing his head, squeezing his eyes shut briefly, in a tight blink. He swallows, and then nods. "Leave him here." The guards look reluctant, but he says, a little angrily, "The Haitian can stay if you'd like. This man's an accomplice only, not a terrible threat. I'll do it. Leave us."
They pass the handcuffed Masahashi to the Haitian, who grips the struggling man firmly. He's started to yell. "Hiro will find a way! He--" The man seems to catch sight of the table and the gun Mohinder pulls from off the lab shelf, and stutters over his words. "He al-always does."
"Sit him down," Mohinder says, and the Haitian nods and slams him down into the chair, holding him there firmly, despite the struggling and panting. "Move to the side," Mohinder says. He feels numb, almost, and ready for this.
Masahashi throws his head back, and starts yelling, "He'll show you! I swear to you, even if--" Mohinder takes the opportunity of the open mouth to shove the barrel of his pistol in his mouth. The man can barely gag, choke on his words, before Mohinder pulls the trigger, one conscious act, far easier than it seems.
The man's head jerks back with the shot, hard, blood splattering the room. The Haitian, slightly distastefully, pushes the body forward so it falls hard to rest on the table, and takes his hands away, brushing them together.
It's so easy. Such a simple choice, to bend his finger, squeeze a piece of metal. And Sylar has made him this way, Sylar has given him this-- he'd say power, but Mohinder's stomach convulses, and he thinks curse instead. If he had never-- this would have never-- it's all because of--
Mohinder cocks the pistol again, and aims and shoots, quick, before considering it, and the Haitian looks at him, blankly, eyebrows beginning to knit in some form of realization, before dropping. There.
There's something Sylar wouldn't expect. There's something for his idea of obedience.
Mohinder staggers, pounds the gun down on the table and grips the edges himself, gasping in large, stench-filled breaths. So this is defiance. So this is what people do, how they fight? He should leave the lab, he should hide the second body, he should-- he should leave, while he can, while his President's on the other end of the country, he should leave, he should stay, disappear, die, keep going. He doesn't-- Mohinder doesn't-- he doesn't know. He clenches his jaw, bites the inside of his mouth so he can taste blood, too, instead of just smelling it.
He can see the dark pools expanding slowly, unconcernedly across the floor.
They're in a safety-glass containment cell with about a hundred others, crammed in close. Larry's pressed up against Oz in front, and, behind, against a complete stranger who's sobbing. He'd want to try and comfort her, if he actually had the space to turn around. If he were ever to become claustrophobic, now would be the time.
Some are already dead, and it's starting to stink, although Larry's sure the vamps and the government agents (because, shit, this is worse than they thought) haven't noticed yet. Two are dead from electric shock-- because of a young boy, eleven at most. It was an accident, power under duress. The third body's the boy himself, killed by those surrounding him, evading his crackling hands, slamming his head against the thick, glass panels, strung through with wire. Larry feels sick just thinking about it-- he wonders if the people even realize they just beat a kid to death.
Only a few others in the cell have shown signs of abilities, as far as he can tell, and it's little stuff, water dripping out of the tips of fingers, accidentally giving off light. Some probably have more subtle powers, some might, Larry thinks, be simple citizens (he wouldn't put it past the government by now), and some, maybe, might have tried to fight, like him and Oz and Giles and Nancy. Those who can are probably hiding their abilities, too, hoping for a last ditch effort at pretending to be normal, a chance at getting set free.
Oz only just had time to dizzily pull on some pants-- he was stumbling all over, Larry had to help him-- when the sun started to come up and the agents found them. Larry is worried about Oz's unprotected chest, arms, neck, all bare skin, but more so, he's concerned about the lack of cross or crucifix. He'd give Oz his own if he could move his arms enough to take it off and get it around Oz's neck.
Oz is still pretty messed up, and so Larry has one supportive arm around him, helping him stand. Maybe it's better that Oz doesn't have to be fully aware for all of this-- Larry's not terribly optimistic about the outcome, although he'll fight if he ever gets the chance. But from the look in Oz's eyes, Larry thinks Oz can tell anyway, thinks Oz knows the sickness and the gravity of the situation there're in. He's more silent than ever-- whether from rage and grief, or the tranquilizer, Larry's not sure. It's probably both.
Larry tried to look for Giles as they were escorted into their sort of cage, but there's so many people in such a small space it seems impossible, and nobody answered to Larry's calls in the chaos. He would fear the worst for Giles, but honestly, he fears the worst for all of them.
He can barely see above and through the crowd of people, big and tall though he is, but the voice of the Master-- the one vampire they always failed with, the one they never dared to take down, and now look where they're at-- is echoing throughout the factory, and filtering into the cell.
"Undeniably we are the world's superior race. Yet we have always been too parochial, too bound by the mindless routine of the predator. Hunt and kill, hunt and kill. Titillating? Yes. Practical? Hardly."
There are crowds outside this cage, but with their faces, it's pretty clear they're not just humans who happen to be free-- excluding, oh, the few agents here and there. He wonders how long before the government realizes that demons only care about demonkind, and that humans are just torture toys and food. He'd almost feel bad for Homeland Security and the CIA, but can't quite bring himself to. Cheers erupt from the audience, chants of "mass production", and calls for a demonstration.
Oz stirs against him, and Larry asks, "How you feeling, man?" Oz is starting to stand, more of his own accord.
"I'm okay," Oz says, and shudders. "Damn."
They stand like that, people shifting, people weeping, until Larry's legs feel like they're going to fall asleep, and to distract himself, he resorts to staring back into Oz's eyes. They're giving each other looks, conversing as well as they can without words, some mixture of concern and apology and looks that transfer into emotion like the tightening grip of Oz's fingers on Larry's arms, like Larry's hand on Oz's back. Just saying they're there, like they have been. They're lucky to be there, and here together, instead of gone like Nancy and Nancy's mom and Giles. And that they'll probably be gone, but they'll go together, into a line, into a machine until their blood is all gone, but by then, they won't care anymore, they won't notice.
This is what's important, right now. And they're not afraid anymore-- Larry can tell from Oz's eyes, and he's sure Oz can tell from his.
They're not afraid, so they’re ready and more than appreciative when the cell's door flings itself open and a once-invisible figure, some man, appears with a bag full of weapons, yelling at the top of his lungs for everyone to grab some and fight. The vampires are going nuts, launching themselves into attack, the modern assembly line blood machine lying vacant as they all start to fight, hand to hand, like the dirty creatures vamps and humans are. Larry rips his cross over the top of his head and tosses it to the shirtless Oz, who catches it, and throws it on while staggering in the opposite direction with a stake swinging in his palm. It's this small, transferring gesture, and they're definitely not looking at each other anymore, Larry's throwing a heavy vampire to the ground, grappling with the rough wood in his own hand, but it's enough. It's like him and Oz are still staring at each other. This is what they do. They aren't fighting to keep themselves alive-- they're fighting to keep themselves alive for the other one. It's what they do best.
Hiro feels empty, insignificant, inept, without his sword, but he's long past the time when he thought he had no skill at all without it, no power. So maybe it's also that he's, once again, without Ando. His disorientation doesn't help. He doesn't think he could teleport now, go anywhere, and he's sure that was, after all, their plan.
But Hiro wouldn't leave now. He'll fight.
He's using what he can get, so he grabs what Peter shoves into his hand-- a group of stakes-- and only glances at Peter again before disappears into the masses. They were supposed to meet, and Peter wasn't there, but at least he's still alive, for now. Hiro wishes he could speak to him, but now's not the time.
Hiro ducks a fist, and stakes a vampire, and then avoids a group of blindly running civilians. He works his way to the front of the crowds, the head vampires in front. He sees the Master in a flash, above heads that he's shoving aside, hands itching for his sword to cut off the heads of the demons in one swipe, plunging the wooden dagger into those around him jerkily. He keeps seeing flashes of the Master, and a few of his strongest-- crowds blurring in front of him, the Master, more bodies, the Master, more moving figures, a flash of... Sylar? But it's the Master once more, and then is vision is swallowed again by charging, falling, dying figures.
He's not imagining. If it was a flash of the image of Ando, he might wonder if he's hallucinating, but Sylar? And in his place in the Master, once again. It's all starting to piece together now. He runs towards the platform, spinning and staking to clear a path for himself, and sees someone's already there, a blonde girl. She's cleared a path for herself and the Master's eyes are completely focused on her. Hiro almost retreats, because the look on her face is that of someone like him-- she wants the battle all to herself.
He's at the edge of the platform, and it's as though everyone else in the battle is ignoring him. He watches, drawing his weapon, and it's almost like time is drifting slowly, although he hasn't stopped it.
She throws herself at the vampire, throwing punches, intense, but before Hiro can do anything to prevent it, quicker than he would have imagined, she's spun around, and her neck is snapped. Hiro freezes time, quick, with an unusual effort, one that makes him sway with exhaustion, but the violent, sudden contortions of her head angled against her shoulders lets him know he's too late.
He throws himself at Sylar, too, but he sees, with a drop in his stomach, Sylar's eyes, still in the form of the Master's, dark and bloody, flick towards him. They're not supposed to move. Time is-- time is--
The vampire's whole body moves, shoving the girl fighter's body away with a disgusting drifting motion, and Hiro himself is frozen. He feels hands around his own neck. Maybe Ando is still alive. Maybe the picture never happened, and Hiro will die instead. That seems better.
When he first awoke from the drugs, head still spinning, he found some paper and a pen that the guards didn't bother to keep away from him, and with last-ditch force, wrote the letter and sent it back. Send Ando five years to the future. Just Ando.
Hiro's grateful if anything.
He can't move. But it's better this way. The girl's body is slowly drifting to the ground, like it's sinking underneath water. Her mouth is half-open, the scar on her lips is prominent. He can't breathe, and he knows he's dying, but it's not himself he's wishing against all hopes for.
It never has been.
Peter's backed into a corridor where the fighting seems a little diminished, and there's a gaunt, male vampire with a penchant for eyeliner launching itself at him. This smaller fight, the punches thrown and received, almost take his mind away from the overall battle. He could use telekinesis, throw this guy away and give himself time to get grab something for a stake, but it's so impersonal. He wants to feel the pain slamming into his jaw, the jolt running through his arm when he actually touches these vampires, actually uses his own force to bash them into the walls.
He's getting all the humans killed, he doesn't think they'll turn out on top, they're just going out and taking as many of these sick animals with them along the way. He grabs the vamp's face, and thinks bomb, and there's a jolt of fire out of his palm that retracts and then just leaves the vampire's dust coating his hand and wrist. He's going to run back into the main factory room, when a voice, with a commanding, "Hey, Pete," down the corridor makes him spin around.
And, no, hell, it's not. That make it better or worse? He doesn't have the time to consider it.
"You're not my brother!" he shouts to the figure approaching him, and jerks a knife out of his pocket and flings it at Sylar, speeding it on with telekinesis. It spins around on him, and flies back in Peter's direction with a flick of Nathan's-- Sylar's-- hand. Peter ducks.
"Enough of the child stuff, Pete, why don't you use some real powers? Or do you want to paint me a pretty picture? I can do that, too, you know."
"Show yourself," Peter shouts, hoarsely, and swears under his breath when Claire's suddenly in front of him, cheerleading uniform and all.
"But I missed you so much." It's such a goddamn taint, it's--
And Sylar's there. "Fine. This better?"
Peter chokes in and out a breath. They both raise their hands with flame and ice.
He's only now almost thinking about having moral objections to the whole deal, watching-- and hearing, in more ways than one-- these people screaming in agony. But he stays solid, strong, because it's his job. Matt Parkman's not even bothering to fight, although he has his gun. He's observing, because that's what the President ordered. He's just keeping his family safe. Sure, he was a little shocked when he first heard Sylar's thoughts coming out of Petrelli's body, but it was either accept it, and follow without question, or get killed, and he's not about to let that happen.
But he's got one hell of a headache. Enough so that his eyes are watering, because even though the vamps in front of him have no mental reflection-- he can't hear a thing, which he's noticed on Mr. President lately, too, but his job is still not to question-- these swarming mounds of humans in front of him are all thinking, shrieking in their minds. He can barely make out anything coherent, except for the snippets of fear and attempted self-preservation, obscenities, and pointless strategy. He hears flashes of incongruous memories, too-- like I remember that time in the library when or Oh god, when she went the same way, and now or I remember when mom made meatloaf and I hated it. All inanities, but that's how everyone ends up dying. Parkman knows that by now.
He sees a human fighting and lasting too long with a vampire, and so he finally pulls his gun and shoots. One less voice invading his mind. He clears his throat and puts his gun back, crosses his arms, and keeps watching. Keeps listening.
"I killed Claire!" Peter yells, loud and deep-scratching in his throat, blasting an icy gust in Sylar's direction.
"And that's my fault?" Sylar slams into the wall, ducking away from it, laughing. "You'll blame me for that pointless explosion you caused, just like everyone else?" He pauses, and then continues. "She didn't die in that explosion, interestingly enough. You actually," Sylar shrugs and sighs, "Didn't kill her."
"I-- I don't believe you."
"You didn't die in it, why would she?"
The tiniest glimmer of hope springs to Peter's eyes. The scar seems to fade, he smiles a little. "She's not dead?"
"Oh, no, she is. I definitely killed her."
Before the rage and grief can even light back into Peter's face, the air pulsates, and Sylar's changed into the Master's form. Peter flings flames at him, and they light the wrinkled skin aflame, but as it dissolves, it reforms again, and Sylar as The Master runs forward. His clawed fingernail, forefinger, plunges deep into the cavity behind Peter's head, up into his skull, and twists. Peter's eyes film over, go white, and his arms drop lamely to his sides just as his legs buckle and collapse.
Sylar clamps his teeth against Peter's neck. Blood running down either side and staining Peter's jacket front and back, he drains Peter, drinking greedily. He drops Peter's corpse to the ground when he's finished, and as the air moves again, he's suddenly Nathan, blood smeared around his mouth.
Sylar, Nathan, pants, starting to grin. "And the Lord said unto Cain, 'What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying to Me from the ground.' It's very profound, isn't it?"
Nathan's gone, and a few moments later, Sylar's gone, too. The corridor is empty of anything but a limp, drained body unmoving on the floor.
Neon-colored crosses border the stage, blinking and flashing and changing colors with electrical pulses, as Niki gets on her knees and arches back in the strobe light pulsations and heart-beat music. The crosses only deter them from her, from jumping on the stage, but not from the show itself-- for them, it's a mixture of pure sexuality and danger, a little painful jab at mortality for even the immortal, and she knows like everybody else, vamps and humans in this world both like pain, reminders of death. She doesn't know where Peter is, now, she doesn't know if he's alive or dead, and she's trying not to care.
She's sliding herself up and down the pole, and putting a stage grin on her face, tossing back her head and flinging her hair away from her face. Her bottle of holy water dangling around her neck pounds on her breastbone like a painful blow. A tough-looking human, all decked in black, is getting his wooden stake necklace ripped off his neck by the chain, and he's flailing and flopping in between two of her usual customers. An outline of her body with hard-pressed fingertips, while rocking her hips smoothly to the music. He's almost sucked dry by now. Peter could be dead. He wouldn't let her stop him. It's like he worships death.
Niki's eyeing the bills collecting on the platform, making a general estimate in her mind. She's spreading her legs on the ground, on her knees again, hands running across the insides of her thighs. She's turning around, swaying forward to touch her toes, swaying upwards again, fingers along the slippery floor and then metal, bearing her neck to the audience, outlining her cross tattoo, and covering it back up with a hand, to cheers and jeers.
It's like they all worship death here.
Mohinder goes back. He could go anywhere, he could kill himself, he could attempt to absolve himself and run and hide, until Sylar finds him, assuming Sylar would even put out such effort to seek out Mohinder. He probably would. But Mohinder could try. He could change his name, his identity, never trust anyone ever again and lie to everyone, because no one would take him in, not after knowing how much harm he's caused, not when he's so unredeemable. Unredeemable, like Sylar himself-- and he has no luxury of regret, he cannot. He's a murderer now, too.
No one's come in a very long time to try and persuade him to give in. That's been done so long ago.
He could try.
He doesn't. Mohinder walks into the bedroom he's so used to, and it's not Nathan standing there, it's not anyone else, because Sylar's waiting for him. Sylar's always waiting for him, and who's he to persuade himself that karma, fate, will allow him anything else? Anything better, anything less?
"I killed the Haitian," Mohinder announces, and hopes his voice isn't too full of shame. He'd hate for it to be misconstrued as embarrassment over his deed-- it's the only deed he's proud of. He hates his mistakes. He hates his knowing choices. He hates that he's made the world unfit for the living, that he's joined in a case of genocide, murder, the end of humanity. All the phrases now empty with convincing and overuse.
His actions? He hates those, too. But he supposes it doesn't matter.
"I know. I don't enjoy acts of defiance, Mohinder. But what's a leader if he's not full of forgiveness, willing to pardon?"
"I killed the Haitian because I hate you," Mohinder says, and his delivery is even more unconvincing-- it's full of rage, but choked, too, and he looks down when he says it.
"And yet," Sylar says. "And yet." He comes near, infiltrating, invading the space around Mohinder, and on shaky instinct, Mohinder's arm raises as though it would force him away, but instead sinks, trembling, around Sylar's shoulders, letting him stay near. He thinks he sees a flash of teeth, a contortion of the face, but he doesn't pull away to look. If he doesn't see it--
Mohinder's breath is shuddering, uncertain, wavering with emotion. Sylar scrapes a kiss, too gentle for him, across Mohinder's temple. He sees another glance of Sylar's mouth. Mohinder closes his eyes, face burdened with repulsion only at himself.
"It'll always be like this," Sylar says against his ear.
Mohinder thinks vaguely that it's almost like a vow.
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper
x-posted to mylar_fic, btvs_heroes, crossoverfic, heroes_slash, niki_peter, heroes_fic, hiro_ando, rarebtvs, paire_love, and mature_heroes.