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Title: What We Are or Might Have Been (7/?)
Author: Seraphtrevs (My Fic Masterlist)
Pairing: Mohinder/Sylar
Rating: R
Genre: Tragicomedy
Word Count: (this part) ~6600
Warnings: Contains depictions of characters suffering from mental illness
Disclaimer: Not mine, no profit made, etc.

Summary: Sequel to Down To This. Company man Sylar has brought a superpowered (and psychotic) Mohinder to the Primatech facility in Hartsdale for treatment. After some finagling, he manages to get himself put in charge of Mohinder's recovery. With Mohinder by his side, Sylar hopes to live his newly minted dream of being Gabriel Petrelli, a Good Guy with a nice house in the suburbs, a loving partner, and a (relatively) honest job. Changing his identity, however, is proving to be much more difficult than he originally assumed, particularly when the people around him refuse to let him forget about his past.

A/N: I'm so sorry for the delay - I had some RL stuff go down. Er, at least it's a long chapter?
Thanks, as always, to my beta, [livejournal.com profile] aurilly!

Introduction and Table of Contents
Prologue and Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five
Chapter Six



Sylar left directly from the motel and headed to Peter's apartment in New York City. He’d never been there, but he knew the address and was able to find it without any trouble. It only took him about two and a half hours. He still hadn’t thought of a detailed plan; he’d always been more of an improviser. Besides, thinking too hard about what he was about to do made him extremely nervous, and he didn’t want to trigger anything before he got there.

He was going to tell the truth, about everything. He’d never done that before. His whole existence was dependent on lies; it wasn’t just that he lied to get what he needed, but he also lied every minute of every day about who he truly was. The closest he’d ever gotten was when he told Chandra his name – not Gabriel, but Sylar, the one he’d chosen for himself. Telling the truth about the Gears was capital-F Forbidden by the Will, and anyway, who would believe him?

Well – Peter might. He was hoping he would. He wondered if Peter had tried to find him this past week; he really had sounded concerned the last time they talked.

He reached Peter’s apartment building and managed to find parking. The building was a walk-up, so Sylar had to climb several flights of stairs before getting to Peter’s front door. He was about to knock on it, but then he heard muffled voices in apparent argument. He pressed his ear to the door.

“ – not going to wear a taser at all times – you’re being ridiculous.” Peter’s voice.

“What if it happens again?” Mohinder’s. He sounded furiously coherent. Sylar was a little surprised – he figured that Mohinder would have gone back to the facility once it was clear that he wasn't coming back.

“Then we’ll handle it, just like we handled it this time. It’s not that big of a deal.”

“You’re wrong. It is.”

“Don’t you think it should be up to me to decide if I feel violated?”

“No. What if it had gone further? What if I hadn't been able to stop myself?"

"But you did stop yourself. Besides, I'm not sure I'd mind if you hadn't." That last part was said lightly.

"Don't you dare joke about this. Just take me back to the facility."

“Uh-uh. No way.”

“It isn’t your decision, is it?”

“Going back would kill you – you’ve said it yourself!”

“Are you going to hold me here against my will?”

“Of course not, but –”

“Then it’s settled. I’ll go get my things.”

“You want to go back there? Fine. But you can find your own way, ‘cause I’m not going to be a part of it.”

“Then I’m taking your car.” There was a jingle of keys, and then footsteps towards the door.

“Mohinder, wait – "

Mohinder opened the door. He froze when he saw Sylar, too shocked to do anything but stare.

“Hi,” Sylar said.

Mohinder slammed the door shut and locked it.

“Is that – ” he heard Peter start to say.

“Yes,” Sylar said, loud enough to be heard. “It’s me. Let me in?”

There was silence for a few long moments. “I could open the door with my power, you know,“ he started, and then realized what that must sound like. “That’s not a threat; I’m just pointing out that if I wanted to, I could break in. But I won’t. I – I just need to talk to you.”

“I don’t have anything to say to you!” Mohinder shouted through the door.

“I didn’t mean you. I meant Peter.”

“…oh.”

“What do you need to talk to me about?” Peter said, his tone carefully neutral.

Sylar didn’t even know where to start with that. “I’m in trouble.”

“Have you done something wrong?”

“No, I swear! And I don’t want to – that’s part of the trouble…will you just please let me in?”

“I’m calling Bennet,” said Mohinder.

“No!” Peter and Sylar said simultaneously. Sylar heard the door being unlocked, and then Peter opened it. They looked at one another for a long moment. Peter wordlessly stepped aside, and Sylar entered the apartment.

Peter’s apartment was large , but that was the only thing about it that could be considered luxurious. Sylar sat down gingerly on the worn couch in the living room. Peter sat down just as gingerly on the armchair, while Mohinder retreated to the doorway that led to the bedroom and hovered there.

“Can you tell me what’s going on?” Peter asked. His tone wasn’t gentle, exactly, but it was calm and firm.

Sylar looked over at Mohinder, then at Peter, and then down at his hands, which were shaking. He still didn’t know
where to begin. His head was starting to ache.

When Sylar still hadn’t said anything for several minutes, Peter prompted him. “What happened in Virginia?”

“Nothing.”

Peter rubbed his temples briefly and tried again. “Can you tell me why you went to Virginia?”

“I went to find someone,” Sylar said. “A special Bennet and I had talked to. I was going to kill him.”

“To take his power?”

“Yes.”

“Can’t you take powers without killing now?”

“Yes, but – I need to know how it works,” Sylar said. “It wasn’t always about the power. In the beginning, it was about knowing. The world’s so chaotic; nothing makes sense. But if you find out how something works, even if it’s just one thing – then you have a place to stand. It’s not so overwhelming. Just taking powers doesn’t give you that. You need to know .”

“But you didn’t kill him.”

“No,” Sylar said. “I didn’t.” He reached into his pocket and took out the flash drive. “I’ve been saving information about specials on this flash drive.” He handed it to Peter. “I don’t want it anymore. I don’t want to want it anymore. Can you help me?”

Unsure of what to do with the flash drive at first, Peter finally settled on putting it in his own pocket. “I’m not sure what you think I can do,” Peter said. “But I’ll try.”

Sylar tried to say thank you, but all that came out was a strange noise, somewhere between a sigh and a groan. His shaking got worse, and he was sweating. Peter got out of his chair and sat down beside him on the couch. “Hey,” he said, touching him on the shoulder. “What’s happening right now? Can you tell me?”

Sylar tried to nod, but his head shook ‘no’ instead. “Not supposed to tell,” he managed to choke out.

“What aren’t you supposed to tell?” When Sylar didn’t respond, Peter increased the pressure of his hand on Sylar’s shoulder. “Gabriel?”

“That’s not my name.”

“I don’t understand,” Peter said. “That’s what you asked me to call you.”

“I know, but – it was a lie. I was trying to be someone else, but it isn’t working. My name is Sylar, and before that, it wasthe Hunger. My name was never Gabriel; he is someone else. Something terrible happened to him.”

Mohinder let out a loud, incredulous scoff. Sylar nearly jumped; he’d forgotten Mohinder was there. “You can’t be serious,” Mohinder said. “A split personality?”

“Mohinder,” Peter said. “Maybe you should go in the other room for a little while.”

“Don’t tell me you believe this rubbish!”He turned and addressed Sylar with a sneer. “I suppose you’re going to explain to us how it’s this other evil side of you who’s a horrible killer, and you’re just a blameless bystander. How convenient.”

Sylar shut his eyes for a moment. When he opened them again, he was no longer shaking. He stood up and looked Mohinder directly in the eyes. “No,” he said, his voice low. “That was me. I killed them. It was my job to get Gabriel the things he wanted. But I never had to kill to get those things until your father came and showed Gabriel the powers he was missing.”

At that, Mohinder exploded. “How dare you blame my father for what you’ve done!”

“Your father used him!” Sylar said, shouting over him. “And when he didn’t get what he wanted, he tried to throw him away. But then I stepped in. I got Gabriel what he wanted, and what your father wanted, too! And that still wasn’t enough for them – your father still threw him away. And that’s why Gabriel killed him – I’d done the others, but Gabriel did that one. He was so angry, so lost…”

Sylar started pacing. “And so weak. The blood, he couldn’t handle the blood – he wrote on the wall: I have sinned, I have sinned… That worthless little shit, after everything I did, he tried to kill us – he tried to hang us all …” His head felt like it was going to split in half; he held his head in his hands, as if he could keep it together. “I thought he was gone; they were all gone, even the Will, but the Will’s awake again – it’s going to bring Gabriel back. It says that this is Gabriel’s life, and I’ll be pushed down again, and I’ve tried so hard to be more – I want to live, I want a life, it’s not fair, after everything I’ve done…”

He was on the floor now, somehow. He felt very tired. The color was draining away from the world. Peter was over him –holding him, actually. He was calling to him, but he seemed very far away. Sylar’s head lolled to the side, but Peter grabbed his chin and looked him in the eye. “Stay with me,” he was saying. “Tell me what’s happening.”

Sylar gathered the last bit of strength he had left. “I’m shutting down.”

“What?”

There wasn’t any time to explain; there was a blackness closing in around the edges of his sight. Moving was very difficult, but Sylar managed to grab a hold of the front of Peter’s shirt. “Talk to the Will. Convince it to let me go.”

“I don’t understand what that means.”

“You have to try. Promise me you’ll try.”

“I don’t –"

Promise me.

Peter looked at him helplessly for a moment, but then he nodded. “Yeah, okay,” he said. “I promise.”

Sylar let go of Peter’s shirt. He didn’t have the strength to hold on anymore.

* * *

It was some time before he gained awareness again. He was lying in a bed, too uncoordinated at first to even try to move. He looked around blearily, trying to determine where he was. It wasn’t the Diner, but it still seemed familiar in a way he couldn’t quite place. It was a bedroom; the pale blue paint on the walls was chipped in several places. There was a huge crack in the ceiling. He turned his head to the left. There was a bed with a person on it; he thought he was looking in a mirror at first, but no, it was definitely someone else.

He struggled to sit up. He stayed still for a moment, waiting for the dizziness to subside. His thoughts were still muddled, but he had to fight it. He focused on the figure on the other side of the room. When he was capable of it, he stood up and staggered over to the bed. He had to find out who it was, although really, he already knew.

It was Gabriel. He was lying on his back, his head lolled to the side, one arm hanging off the bed limply. There was a huge bruise in the shape of a rope circling his neck; the black and purple contrasted sharply with the clammy paleness of the rest of his skin. He was wearing his glasses, but the lenses were so cracked that Sylar couldn’t see whether his eyes were closed or open. He didn’t look asleep; he looked dead.

He should probably feel relieved. Isn’t that what he wanted – to be rid of Gabriel once and for all? Instead, he felt a hollow sadness, and a creeping feeling of horror. Even if Gabriel was dead, he was still
here, rotting like a gangrenous limb. Had the rot spread to him? Is that why he was here in this room – because he was dying, too?

He stumbled towards the door and opened it; he fell out into a hallway. He lay face-down on the scratchy carpet for a little while. It would be so easy not to get up, but he only entertained that thought for a moment. He pushed himself to his feet. As he walked down the hallway, he started to realize where he was. This was the place behind the Diner, where the Gears who never surfaced lived. He rarely found himself back here; even when Gabriel was mostly in control, Sylar took over too often to ever retreat very far.

At the end of the hallway was a living room. The décor was straight out of the ‘70s – lots of olive green and cheap wood paneling. The furniture was worn, but everything was neat and clean. There was a large old-fashioned TV in the middle of the room. The Innocent was behind it; he’d taken the back off and was messing with the wires. He looked up at Sylar eventually. “Oh,” he said. “You’re awake. Itold you you’d get in trouble if you told.”

“Yeah, I guess you did.” Sylar sat down on the sofa and watched him work for a moment. “What are you doing?”

The Innocent rolled his eyes. “Fixing it, stupid. You short-circuited it.”

“Is that the Will?”

“No, it’s over there,” the Innocent said, pointing at the far corner of the room. Sure enough, there was the familiar monitor, even more cracked than it was before. “You broke that, too, though.”

“Then what’s that?” Sylar said, indicating the TV.

“It’s a TV. It's how we get the news.”

Just then, a woman entered the room, carrying a tray of snacks. Her eyes lit up when she saw Sylar. “You’re awake!” she said warmly. She put the tray down on the coffee table and sat down beside him. “I was so worried; you didn’t look well at all.”

Sylar stared at her, trying to think of who she was. She was one of the Gears, of course, but Sylar had never really paid close attention to the others, particularly the ones who didn’t surface. She had long, dark hair and was very pretty; the only thing that slightly marred her looks was an overly prominent brow. She was dressed in a floral dress with an apron.

“You don’t know me, do you?” she said.

Sylar concentrated harder. “You’re Heart,” he said eventually.

She smiled and put a hand on his cheek. “Yes.”

Her touch felt strange to him; a strong, steady pulse radiated from her. He pulled away. “What’s going on? Why am I here?”

She looked down at her apron and smoothed an invisible wrinkle. “You told. That’s forbidden, you know. You can’t trust outsiders. The Will tried to pull you back, but you struggled, and then you both shut down.” She looked over at the Innocent. “But my baby’s going to fix everything – aren’t you, dear?”

“Yes ma’am.”

“No,” Sylar said, shaking his head. “No, you can’t fix it. The Will is going to kill me – ”

Both Heart and the Innocent gave him funny looks. “That’s a dumb thing to say,” the Innocent said. “Why would it do that?”

“We’re all needed,” Heart said. “We can’t work without each other.”

“It said it was going to shut me down,” Sylar insisted. “It said I was damaged.”

Heart took his hand. “Aren’t you?” she asked gently.

She had a point.

The Innocent shut the back panel of the TV and moved around to the front. He turned one of the knobs and the screen lit up. “There!” he said, a big grin on his face. “I knew I could fix it. I’m good at that stuff.” He got up off the ground and went to sit beside Sylar. He grabbed a fistful of pretzels from the tray and shoved them in his mouth.

The image was unclear at first; the bright outline of a person’s head and shoulders dominated the screen. Gradually, Sylar was able to make out who it was – Peter. He wasn’t looking directly into the screen – his gaze was cast downward, although it would occasionally flicker upward, like he was looking right at them. He had a stethoscope on.

“Who’s that?” the Innocent asked.

“It’s Peter,” Sylar said. “He’s our brother.”

The Innocent looked skeptical. “But he’s so old!”

“Not really. He’s younger than us.”

“Oh yeah,” the Innocent said. “I guess he would be all grown up, huh?”

“You remember him?”

A strange, sad look crossed the Innocent’s face. “Not exactly,” he said. “Mommy said there was a baby growing in her tummy, but then…” He trailed off.

“Then what?” Sylar asked, but the Innocent wasn’t listening to him. His eyes were glued to the screen.

“That’s really neat,” he said. He was smiling now. “I’m glad he’s okay. Is he a doctor now?”

“No, he’s a nurse.”

“Is he nice?”

“Yeah,” Sylar said. “Yeah, he is.”

The Innocent stood up. “I’m going to say hi,” he said.

Heart frowned. “I don’t know if that’s such a good idea. It’s not safe outside.”

“I’ll just be a minute,” the Innocent said. He got up and went out of the door on the other side of the room. Sylar tried to get up to follow him, but Heart held onto his arm. “I think you should stay here with me, dear. You aren't ready to surface again. We can watch from here, if you want.” The strange, pulsing aura she emanated lulled him into complacency. She put her arm around him, and he rested his head on her shoulder.

The TV screen flashed white for a moment, and when the picture came back, it was in color.

“Sylar?” Peter said. “Are you awake? Can you hear me?”

“Are you my brother?” It was the voice of the Innocent, although Sylar couldn’t see him.

Peter looked startled. “What?”

“He said you were my brother.”

To Peter’s credit, he caught on quickly. “You mean Sylar.”

“Yeah, I guess. That’s not his real name, though. Are you really a nurse?”

“Um. Yes.”

The picture shifted – Peter seemed like he was beside the screen rather than leaning over it. Sylar was starting to catch on – the screen was what the Innocent was seeing. He must have been lying down before, and now the
Innocent had sat up. “I thought only girls could be nurses.”

The look on Peter’s face would have been funny in any other circumstance. “No, boys can be nurses, too.”

“Oh. Neat. Are we in a hospital?”

“No, we’re at my apartment. You – I mean, he passed out, and I was just checking to make sure…” Peter struggled for the right pronoun, then settled with, “I was checking to make sure that everything’s okay.” Peter took the stethoscope off and placed it on the coffee table. “So what’s your name?”

“I’m not really supposed to tell anybody,” the Innocent said. “But I guess you already know about us, so maybe it’s okay.”

“Why aren’t you supposed to tell?”

“Because I’d get hurt. You get hurt when you tell.”

“I won’t hurt you,” Peter said. “You can trust me.”

“ ’cause you’re my brother, right?”

“We haven’t really worked that out yet, but maybe you could help with that. Do you remember me?”

“Sort of. It makes me sad to remember, though. I don’t want to talk about it right now.”

“That’s okay,” Peter said. “We don’t have to. We can talk about whatever you want to talk about.”

“Okay. Hey, do you have any ice cream?”

“Uh, yeah, I think so,” Peter said. Sylar was impressed with how quickly Peter was adapting.“Why don’t we go to the kitchen?”

The view followed Peter into the kitchen. Peter rifled through the freezer and found a carton of ice cream. “Chocolate okay?”

“That’s my favorite!”

Peter served him a bowl. He waited until the ice cream was gone to try and talk again. “So can you tell me what your name is?”

“I’m the Innocent,” he said.

“That’s an unusual name.”

“Well, my name used to be Gabriel, but it isn’t anymore.”

“Why not?”

“Something really bad happened to Gabriel, and I didn’t want to be him anymore.”

“How old are you?”

“Five. When it was my birthday, I got twenty-five racecars. That’s five times five.”

“That’s a lot of racecars.”

“Yeah, but I lost one, so it’s only twenty-four. That’s eight times three, or six times four. I know all my times-tables because I’m really smart.”

“I can tell.”

“Can I have more ice cream?”

Peter gave him another scoop. The Innocent finished it and sat back in his chair. “That was good. Thanks. So I guess Mommy’s okay, then.”

“What?” Peter said, startled.

“Daddy hurt her really bad. I thought maybe she died. And she said she had a baby growing in her tummy, so I thought the baby died, too. But you’re alive, so that means she’s alive, right?”

Peter sat there, stunned, for several long moments. “Yeah, she’s alive,” he said finally. “Did Daddy hurt her a lot?”

“Yeah. He hurt me too, but then the Will came and it protected me. The Will’s a computer, and computers don’t have feelings. That means they can’t get hurt. So when Daddy would hurt me, the Will just switched me off and I didn’t have to feel it.”

Peter was visibly shaken. It took him a few moments to recover. “I’m so sorry that happened to you.”

“Did Daddy hurt you a lot, too?”

“I – I don’t know. I didn’t think so, but I found out that he could make people forget things.”

“Huh. I guess that could happen – he’s got a lot of powers, and he’s always getting new ones.”

“You saw him use abilities?”

“Yeah, he’d do it all the time.” The Innocent paused for a moment. “Is he still around?”

“No, he’s dead.”

“Good.”

Peter rubbed his face. He seemed to be thinking of what to say next. “I want you to know that you’re safe with me, okay?”

“Yeah, sure,” the Innocent said.

“So I want to ask you a few questions; you don’t have to answer them if you don’t want to, but I really want to know what happened to Mommy, and what happened to you. Do you think you can help me with that?”

The Innocent didn’t answer right away. “Okay,” he said eventually. “You are my brother. I guess you should know.”

“Do you remember when Mommy gave you to someone else?”

“It wasn’t Mommy. It was Daddy. He found out that Mommy had the baby in her tummy and he got really mad. He said he didn’t want any more babies. Then he called someone on the phone, and afterwards he made us get in the car. We went to a diner. I didn’t want to go in, but Daddy said he wasn’t mad anymore and he’d get me some ice cream if I was good.

"Mommy stayed in the car; she was crying. Daddy gave me a racecar to play with while he talked with another man and a lady. That was the racecar that I lost; I was trying to find it when Daddy grabbed me and brought me to that man and lady. The lady said she was going to be my new mommy, but I didn’t want a new mommy. I ran after Daddy and saw him in the car; he was fighting with Mommy. Then – then he hurt her. There was a lot of blood. She fell out of the car.

“And then the Will switched me off. I think I was off for a long time. Then the Will woke me up, and said the new mommy was okay and I could go live with her. But I said I didn’t want to – I wanted to stay inside where it was safe. So the Will made a new little boy, and he was called Gabriel, and he went to live with the new mommy. And I called myself the Innocent, because that’s what my mommy used to call me – her Innocent baby. And the Will made a lady called Heart – she’s not my mommy, but she looks just like her, and we stay inside, and she takes care of me, and no one can ever hurt us again.”

Peter looked very pale. He put his hands up to his face.

“Hey - are you crying?”

“I’m so sorry,” Peter said. “I’m so, so sorry…”

“It’s not your fault,” the Innocent said gently.

Peter rubbed his eyes before taking his hands away from his face. “I know, but there’s been some bad things happening to the other…parts of you, and I didn’t believe... well, it doesn’t matter. I promise that I’ll help you now – all of you. And if you want, I can take you to see your mommy – would you like that?”

The Innocent hesitated. “No,” he said. “I’m glad Mommy’s okay. I loved her a lot, and it wasn’t her fault, but she didn’t keep me safe. And I’m not her little boy anymore. I just wanted to come out to see you for a minute. I’m glad I did – Sylar is right, you’re super-nice.”

“So Sylar’s all right?”

“Yeah, he’s inside right now. He’s watching us, though – I turned on the TV.”

Peter looked understandably confused. “Um, okay. Can I talk to him?”

Sylar tried to shake himself out of his daze. “I’m here,” he said to the screen. “PETER, I’M HERE!” Heart shushed him and he lulled back again.

“He wants to talk to you,” the Innocent said to Peter. “But I don’t know if it’s a good idea. He’s been getting into a lot of trouble lately. He almost made us all shut down.”

Peter thought about that for a moment. “Do you think I could talk to the Will?”

“It’s offline. It took a lot of power to shut Sylar down.”

“When will it be back online?”

“I don’t know. I can check.”

The screen went blank, and a moment later, the Innocent came in through the door. He waved at Sylar before going over to the corner where the Will sat. The Innocent pushed a button on the front of the monitor. When it didn’t turn on, he gave it a whap, and suddenly it whirred to life. At the same time, the television screen flashed again. Peter’s face filled the screen again, looking at them searchingly.

“Is this the Will?” he asked hesitantly.

The view on the screen changed as if the Will tried to stand up, but failed.

“Whoa,” Peter said. “Maybe you shouldn’t try to stand up right now.”

“We must leave,” the Will’s robotic voice intoned. “We are in danger. We have been exposed.”

“No, you’re okay,” Peter said. “Nothing’s going to happen. You’re safe.”

“We are in danger,” the Will said again.

“I promise that it’s all right. I know that you’ve been trying hard to keep everyone safe, and you’ve done a really good job. Everything’s okay.”

“There are errors. I have not fixed the errors.”

“Maybe I can help. Tell me what’s wrong.” When the Will didn’t respond, Peter prompted him. “Is it something to do with Sylar?”

“That is not his name,” the Will said emphatically. “He is the Hunger, and he has forgotten his function.”

“What’s his function?”

The Will hesitated again, but finally it responded. “There is a need in Gabriel. He needs to understand things. He cannot do what is necessary to fill that need. The Hunger was created to fill the need. But Gabriel – “ The Will stopped.

“What happened to Gabriel?” Peter asked gently.

“He saw what the Hunger had done. He was not supposed to see.He tried to end the body. Now he is broken.” Another pause. “I have tried to fix him, but there is too much damage. I have failed.Now we cannot function.”

“What do you mean?”

“This was Gabriel’s life. It must be someone else’s life now, but there are none who can fill that function.”

“Why about Sylar? Why can’t it be his life?”

“I should think that should be obvious,” muttered a voice from behind them.

The view shifted as the Will turned to look behind them. Mohinder was standing in the doorway. Sylar wondered how long he’d been there.

“Not helping, Mohinder,” Peter said under his breath.

“You,” the Will said, still looking at Mohinder.“You are Suresh’s son. The Hunger thinks you can fix him. He is wrong.”
Mohinder looked more than a little unnerved.

The Will addressed Peter again. “Allowing the Hunger to have control was a temporary solution. He lacks the components to interface with the outside.”

Peter thought about it for a moment. “Could you…give him those components?”

“To interface with the outside, he must feel. He cannot feel.”

“But I don’t think that’s true,” Peter said. “He
does feel. Or at least, he’s trying to. He came to me because he was remorseful, and he wanted to change.”

“He cannot carry out his function if he feels.”

“To deal with the need to know how things work,” Peter clarified.

“Affirmative.”

“I can help,” Peter said. “He’s already fighting to control it. And there might be some medicines we can try that will make it easier to deal with.”

The Will considered this for a moment. “You are an outsider. You cannot be trusted.”

“The Innocent trusts me.”

“That is not possible. The Innocent stays inside – he does not talk to outsiders.”

“Ask him,” Peter said. “He’ll tell you. Look, you’ve admitted that you’re broken. You don’t have anything to lose in letting me try to help.”

“Why would you help us?”

“Because I made a promise.”

There was a long pause. “Processing,” the Will finally said.

The TV screen went black. At the same time, the computer sitting in the corner blinked on.

Text appeared on the screen:
INNOCENT – DO YOU TRUST THIS PERSON?

“Sure,” said the Innocent.

AND HUNGER – DO YOU WANT THIS LIFE?

“Yes,” he said.

Heart picked up a mug from the coffee table. “Here,” she said, handing it to Sylar. “Drink this, dear.”

The cup felt very warm in his hands. He put it to his lips. The warm liquid was both very sweet and intensely bitter. The more he drank, the stranger he felt.

“I don’t know if I like this,” Sylar said.

“You need to drink it all,” she said. She helped him tip the cup upwards, and soon he’d swallowed the rest. She took the cup from him and sat it on the coffee table. That strange pulsing he’d felt from her started to intensify, and soon he felt the pulse coming from inside himself.

He heard thecomputer in the corner whirring. After a while it stopped. The door on the other side of the room opened.

Text appeared on the monitor again.
THIS LIFE IS YOURS NOW.

Heart helped him up from the sofa, and the Innocent took his other hand. They led him to the door – all he could see on the other side was light.

“Good luck,” the Innocent said.

Sylar stepped through the door.


* * *

Sylar blinked. He was sitting at Peter’s kitchen table. Peter was sitting across from him, looking concerned. Mohinder was still standing in the doorway between the kitchen and the living room.

“Hello?” Peter said. “Are you back? Who am I talking to?”

“It’s...” Sylar took a minute to think about it. He felt…different. “Me,” he said. “It’s me.”

“You’re going to have to be a bit more specific,” Mohinder said.

That really shouldn’t have been a hard question to answer, but his head was swimming with everything that just happened.

When he didn’t say anything, Peter finally prompted him. “Sylar?”

Sylar nodded.

“Do you know what’s been going on?” Peter asked.

“You were talking to the other Gears,” Sylar said. “I was watching.”

“That’s right,” Peter said. “You blacked out again for a minute just now. Can you tell me what happened?”

“The Will told me that this is my life now.” He still felt dazed.

“Good,” Peter said. “That’s really good.” And then he reached out and grabbed Sylar in a fierce hug. “It’s going to be okay,” he said. He sounded tearful. “We’ll all going to be okay.” Peter pulled back eventually, but he kept a hold of Sylar’s hands, like he was afraid he was going to slip away. He was giving Sylar this strange look, both teary but weirdly happy, like – well, like he’d discovered a long-lost family member.

Mohinder cleared his throat to get their attention. “If we leave right now, we should be able to get to the facility before rush hour.”

Peter finally let go of Sylar hands and turned to Mohinder. “No one’s going to the facility.”

Mohinder made a loud, exasperated sound. “How long do you think it’s going to take Bennet to follow Sylar’s trail
here? You either take him in now, or wait for Bennet to drag him in.”

“I’m not letting Bennet drag anyone anywhere. I’ll call Ma and explain things to her.”

“And what, tell her you’re planning on running a halfway house for super-powered maniacs out of your apartment?”

“We could move back to my house,” Sylar said. “It won’t be so cramped.”

“That’s a good idea,” Peter said.

“The space isn’t the issue!” Mohinder looked like his head was about to explode. “You can’t do this, Peter! You have no abilities, and he’s a serial killer with multiple personalities and the ability to kill people with his mind.”

“I’m not just going to let them lock him up!” Peter said. “He’s my brother.”

“Right, so he’s a serial killer with multiple personalities, the ability to kill people with his mind, and he’s a Petrelli. That just makes it worse. And you still haven’t adequately explained how you’d handle it if I lost control of my abilities again. You won’t even tase me!”

“I can take care of that,” Sylar said. “That was the deal to begin with, remember?”

“I made that deal with you when I was under the impression that you were a relatively stablesuper-powered maniac,” Mohinder said. “But I’ve just discovered that you are not only a serial killer, but also, on occasions, a child and a robot. You are even more bloody terrifying to me than you were before, and that’s quite an accomplishment, considering that you killed my father – or one of you, I’m still not quite clear on this whole business. If there is even a shred of decency lurking in that fractured mind of yours, you will turn yourself in, because you are a walking time bomb of insanity, and no amount of talking about your feelings with Peter is going to change that!”

Everyone was silent for a few moments. “Well, it seems to have worked for you pretty well,” Sylar said eventually. “You’re a lot better from the last time I saw you. Very coherent and reasonable.”

“You really are,” Peter said. “I mean, not that I think that I was responsible for it, but the treatments and the medication are obviously working. If anything, being locked up again is going to make you worse.”

Mohinder stared at Peter. “So if I understand you correctly, the reason you think that we shouldn’t be locked up is because I’ve made such a reasonable argument for why we should be?”

Peter stood up and went over to Mohinder, touching him on the shoulder. “Hey,” he said gently. “I know you’re scared. But if you really want to make sure you aren’t a threat to anyone, having yourself locked up isn’t the answer. Think about Adam Monroe – they locked him up for thirty years, and it just made him crazier. He almost wiped out the human race. And Elle – she was raised in that facility, and look how she turned out. If we move back to Sylar’s house, we’ll be close to the facility. You’ll both be getting the exact same treatments that you’d be getting if you stayed there, but you won’t be locked in a little white cell.”

Mohinder started to falter. “But my abilities –”

Sylar raised his hands and directed his telekinetic energy at Mohinder, pressing his arms to his side. He then lifted him a foot off the ground. Mohinder looked over at Sylar, startled.

“Try to move,” he said.

Mohinder tried. He couldn’t.

“See?” Sylar said. “I can still stop you.” He set Mohinder down.

Mohinder rubbed his arms and looked away. “Strength isn’t my only ability,” he said under his breath. “And besides,” he added, more loudly. “If you’re going to be getting treatments, too, then you won’t have your abilities anymore.”

“I was thinking about that,” Peter said. “And I think that maybe total suppression isn’t the best idea for either one of you. Your powers are a part of who you are – if we can adjust the medications so that your abilities are dampened just enough to not be dangerous, you can work on getting them under control. At least until a real cure is found.”

Peter put both hands on Mohinder’s shoulders; Mohinder tried to avoid looking at him, but was unsuccessful. “Please. Just let me try to help you. Think about your mother and Molly – you promised them that you were going to get well enough to see them again. And think about me. I care about you.”

“How could you?” Mohinder said miserably. “How could you after I – ” He stopped mid-sentence and glanced over at Sylar. He stepped away from Peter. “Fine,” he said. “Fine.” He nearly ran out of the room. They heard the slam of the bedroom door.

Peter sighed. “It’s a start, I guess.” And then to Sylar, “How are you feeling?”

His thoughts were swirling around what he had learned about the other Gears and their past, but that knowledge was too hot to touch right now. He felt like something big was coming, as if those thoughts were like thunderstorms, swirling together and gaining momentum in the way that hurricanes were formed. But he didn’t say that. Unlike Mohinder, he really didn’t want to be locked up. “I don’t know. Sort of numb, I guess.” He changed the subject. “So what happened with Mohinder?”

“Nothing,” Peter said, a little too quickly. “I mean, it really wasn’t a big deal. He’s over-reacting.” Peter chewed on his lip for a moment. “There’s something I need to talk to you about, though. You need to drop the whole idea of you and Mohinder being a couple. You can’t force someone into a relationship like that. Plus, neither one of you is in a good place to be involved romantically with anyone, let alone each other.”

“Oh,” Sylar said. “Yeah, okay.” He paused. “But, what if, later on, he wants to be in relationship with me? That would be okay, right?”

Peter stared at him for a minute. “Sylar, I really think you need to accept that that probably isn’t going to happen,” he said gently.

“But what if it does? What if he really falls in love with me? Then we could be together, right?”

Peter sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose. “Yeah. Sure.”

Sylar smiled.

“All right,” Peter said. “I’m going to call Ma now and get things straightened out. Why don’t you go and try to relax – watch some TV, or something. You’ve been through a lot today.”

“Okay,” Sylar said. He went to the living room and sat on the couch. He had never in his entire existence been this passive, but it actually felt kind of good to have someone else taking care of things for once. He felt like a huge burden had been lifted from his shoulders. He turned the TV to something mindless, and soon his mind was pleasant blank.

But even in his relaxed state, something still nagged at him. It took him a while to figure out what it was. The Innocent said that Heart looked like his mother. And Heart looked nothing like Angela Petrelli. As soon as he thought it, he shoved it out of his mind. Things were working out for once, and he wasn't about to let anything disturb that.


Onto Chapter Eight!
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