"No. No, you can't do that. If you go into his head, you might not come out! Peter! Peter, don't! PETER! NO! Peter!"
Peter ignored Matt's frantic shouting and clinging hands. Calm down. Get your hands off me, he thought to the telepath, pushing the thought just a little. It was enough to make Matt hesitate, which was all Peter needed. Hand on Sylar's temple, he scanned through the unconscious man's mind. Sylar was in there, trapped deep inside just as Peter had seen in Matt's thoughts.
"Peter, you can't-"
Peter pulled away from Sylar, turning to deal with the annoying former cop. "Matt. I'm not going to let you do this. This is inhumane beyond …" Peter shook his head, rolling his eyes at how awful what Matt had done was. And Matt knew it was that bad, which was precisely why Matt had done it: hate. "Beyond like, the worst of war crimes. People in solitary confinement in the real world at least get an hour a day to get out and exercise a little. They know there are guards and they're not alone. This isn't happening," he said with a backwards gesture at Sylar's comatose form.
"He's a killer, Peter. There's no other way."
"There's always another way," Peter answered calmly.
"No! You can't contain him!"
Obviously, Matt had made up his mind and his emotions were running high. There would be no arguing him out of it, so Peter opted for subterfuge. "Matt … just go upstairs. If there's no other way, then there's nothing for you to worry about. Regeneration or not, you can't keep him bricked up like that." Peter had no idea what the limits were on regeneration, but he wasn't about to let Matt use a human being as an experimental subject to find out. Even if that human being were Sylar.
Matt looked past Peter untrustingly, eyes on Sylar. "What are you gonna do?"
Peter shrugged. "I don't know. Go upstairs, leave me alone, and let me figure that out, okay?" He sounded reasonable, unhurried, and relaxed.
Matt swallowed tensely, glancing up and down Peter's form, taking in his body language. He got the message Peter was trying to communicate - that Matt's borderline hysteria about this, his over-reaction to this whole thing - was over the top and unnecessary. "Okay. Okay," Matt said, nodding and looking down, a bit chastised. Peter thought Matt was getting off supremely light, but he wasn't here to teach moral lessons to Matt Parkman. He was here to get Sylar. Matt shot Peter a look before he left, though, saying, "Don't let him out."
Peter frowned at him, promising nothing. A few moments later, alone now, Peter turned back to Sylar and considered the situation. He'd come here with the firm knowledge that Sylar would save Emma tonight, at the carnival in New York. It was destiny. By implication, Peter was going to forgive him, let him out, and allow it. This, too, was fate, and Peter had come to terms with it enough to come here over his mother's objections and his own lingering vengefulness. There were a lot of things that might happen between now and tonight. Awakened and let loose, there was a lot of harm Sylar could do. But Peter had already seen from Matt's memories of the day that Sylar had come here of his own free will, seeking a release of sorts from the weight of his many sins. Peter had also seen that Matt had verified Sylar as being sincere in his desire to find a connection, an authentic social tie that wasn't just another betrayal in hiding. Peter could relate to that. Given what had been happening in his life for the last few months, he could really relate to that.
Peter frowned some more, pulling a few bricks away from the wall and letting them fall to the floor with heavy clunks. Damp mortar posed no barrier. He reached in and checked Sylar's pulse, idly, still allowing his mind to free-associate on what he ought to do. Sylar's vitals seemed fine. Peter brushed the guy's eyelashes, which was a standard EMT check for consciousness. They usually used it on people they thought were faking, not that Peter thought Sylar was. Peter was just pondering; gathering information. Sylar had no response to the touch. He'd twitched and reacted earlier when Peter had scanned his mind, so there was still a link between his mind and body. Peter wondered what it would take to exploit that link.
He put his hand to Sylar's forehead, rather than his temple, and checked again with telepathy. Sylar's awareness was still just as firmly locked away inside the tortuously small box Matt had made inside his head. Peter felt around with Matt's ability to see what else was available in Sylar's head - there was nothing of interest that he could get to - no memories or stray thoughts. Then he noticed something that was of interest. Peter's own ability had recognized Sylar's, and the continued contact was slowly revealing one ability after another. Peter felt his way through them, looking for something that might help.
To his surprise, there was something that might.
It was a variant of Peter's own original ability. This was some sort of specialized, low-powered empathy. It would, or should, reveal what a person wanted. Perhaps that would show him how to pull Sylar out of the box and back into full awareness of his body, because it seemed likely that Matt was right and if Peter went in there with Sylar, he wouldn't be able to get back out. It was a monkey trap he didn't intend to fall for.
Peter glanced back, listening to Matt's uneasy footsteps as he paced on the floor above him. He could distantly sense the man's mind, as well. Peter swapped for this new kind of empathy, losing that sense of Matt's presence. He took a moment to understand how the ability worked, then began pushing more bricks out of his way with determination. He needed to get closer to Sylar to use this new power - kind of embarrassingly close, but that was how it worked. When he had them down to waist height, he leaned in and hooked his hand behind Sylar's neck, pausing to consider what he was about to do. Peter had kissed (and more) guys before, but still …
He thought about that dream he'd had, where Sylar saved Emma - Sylar was doing good. He thought about the images Matt's mind had shown him when he'd asked what Matt had done to Sylar - Sylar's past had a lot more to do with making him the monster Peter had seen him as than Peter had known. He thought about Nathan and Nathan's (or was that Sylar's?) unshakable faith in him, articulated as he hung off the side of Mercy Heights Hospital - it was strange to think those sentiments might be Sylar's. So - a man mistreated by fate, with faith in Peter's ability to save him, who was destined to be reformed and become good. Peter swallowed slowly, tilted his head a little and pressed his lips gently against those of the comatose man.
They were nice lips, but nothing happened. The ability was thwarted. Peter realized he had to do something more erotic than just press flesh together. There had to be an element of intent there; he had to step up his game and really mean it. He knocked a couple more bricks out of the way and cupped Sylar's face with both hands. It was a good face, very handsome, especially in slumber. Peter brushed the man's cheekbones with his thumbs, then ran one hand into Sylar's hair. He had to make his touch erotic, which meant, he supposed, that he needed to engage and open himself. It wasn't too different from how he used to be, all the time, back when he had his original ability.
He turned his head and brought his face to Sylar's, lipping slowly and gradually along the other man's generous mouth. Nature had truly spared Sylar no gift in the looks department. Peter had never had someone be completely unresponsive to him - it wasn't really his kink - but he put foremost in his mind that Sylar was trying to change and the dream had shown that he did change. Already, he'd come to Matt's for help. He wanted to be saved. Maybe Nathan's memories had shown him a better way. Peter hoped that was the case. He hoped he wasn't making a horrible mistake, because his own battered soul really couldn't take much more of this.
This time, Peter felt faint sparks where their lips were in contact, and a buzz of warmth shot through him. He sucked in air as his heart beat faster and his eyes slid shut. "Sylar," he breathed against the man's mouth, letting the ability and his instincts guide him through uncharted territory. He trusted in his war-weary heart and a moment later, he saw into Sylar's. An ache filled Peter, the emotions gleaned from the deepest recesses of Sylar's spirit - loneliness, desperation, frustration and a crushing feeling of insignificance. Peter had no trouble, whatsoever, in empathizing with the desire to matter to someone, to be important, to have a life of meaning. Somewhere along the way, Sylar had gone so wrong, but that was far in the past. What Peter could see now, oh-so-clearly, was how to fix it.
He hesitated, resting his forehead against Sylar's, considering if he wanted to do it. He could leave Sylar in this mental prison, perhaps take shape-shifting or … no, that wouldn't work. He didn't know what would work, but just because he didn't see a solution immediately didn't mean he had to stop looking. Or he could take the leap of faith and use this intimate empathy to forge the connection Sylar needed so badly.
He pulled back, one hand still cradling the back of Sylar's head. Could I love you? After everything you've done? Do I have that in me? He remembered Nathan? Sylar? telling him he could do anything. He sighed. Such a strange, strange world. It was a simple choice - show kindness, have compassion, forgive; or else leave Sylar here to rot just like Matt intended. Because that was what it came down to - was he better than Matt? Peter had already condemned Matt's actions, but was he willing to actually step up and sacrifice of himself, take a risk, open his heart and really give Sylar a chance to be the man Peter had seen in the dream? Or was he going to leave him in the eternal purgatory of never knowing human contact ever again?
Peter had become so reckless and detached lately, but what was being asked of him now was to very deliberately make himself vulnerable to someone, bare himself and lay down his grievances. Noah had talked to him about the dangers of isolating himself from everyone, but this was the opposite - the dangers of making himself too open to someone, to someone who many wouldn't think deserved Peter's kindness or even a second thought. But Sylar was still human and Peter recognized that, despite everything. He was a human being; he'd come for help (and based on Matt's mental images, not for the first time, either); and he'd been denied (again). Peter's heart was damaged, but it was not so far gone that he, too, would ignore a genuine cry for help. Even from his brother's killer.
He could feel the soft, fine hair between his fingers and the warmth of Sylar's scalp under his palm. He could see the delicate lashes fanned out over his lids, hear his quiet breaths, and smell the clean, fascinatingly engaging scent of another person up close. Peter kissed the sleeping beauty and a second later, he leaned into the kiss with fervor, opening Sylar's mouth and teasing inside to taste him and complete his tour of the senses. The sparks flew, his face warmed and flushed, butterflies rioted in his gut, and his heart fluttered wildly. Something changed inside of him. The muscles under his hand at the back of Sylar's neck suddenly tensed and the man's eyes flew wide as he was instantly liberated from the prison that had been forged from his own self-loathing and feelings of worthlessness.
Sylar made a strangled noise in the back of his throat. Of all the possible ways to wake up, Peter had to admit this was probably pretty … um, well … surprising. All things considered, that Sylar was perfectly still and hardly even breathing, but taking no other action, was really about as good a reaction as one could expect. Peter drew back, letting his hand drop to Sylar's shoulder. He looked at Sylar's wet, shining lips and then up to the poor man's shocked, startled eyes. Sylar licked his lips very slowly, starting to breathe again.
"Welcome back," Peter said.
"Peter?" Sylar said in disbelief, looking him over for a moment, then looking down at his situation - propped up behind half of a badly done brick wall in someone's basement. He straightened a bit and there was a clatter of wood from the boards that had been keeping him upright.
Peter gave his shoulder a squeeze, keeping the connection between them. "Matt Parkman trapped you in your mind. He was going to seal you up in here - a fate worse than death. I wouldn't allow it."
Sylar's brows climbed slightly. "Oh." He looked rather pointedly at Peter's mouth for several seconds, then up to his eyes, letting his brows rise a bit more in obvious question of why Peter's disapproval of Matt's jailing methods included macking on the inmates.
Peter's cheeks and ears heated in a blush of embarrassment.
Seeing the reaction seemed to put Sylar at ease somewhat. "Jeez, Peter," he drawled, "is this how you wake up all your patients?"
"I …" Peter patted Sylar's shoulder and withdrew his hand as he tried to explain. "I took your empathy - that ability that lets you tell what someone else really wants?"
Sylar's sarcasm faded and his face paled as he realized what that meant. Sylar was quick - no doubt about that. His expression turned calculating as he said, "Turnabout's fair play, then," and reached out to seize the front of Peter's jacket. He jerked him close, bending his neck to bring their faces together.
Peter wrenched his head back, barking sharply, "Hey!" He knew what Sylar was about to do, but with not so much as a 'by your leave'?
Sylar gave him a disapproving frown as one mobile brow twitched upwards and he tilted his head to the side. It was something of a 'really?' look. Although he gave Peter a few seconds to process, he still tugged him in closer for that kiss.
One of Peter's hands ended up on the wall next to him and the other found Sylar's shoulder. For the hell of it, he kicked on the ability himself as soon as Sylar's lips touched his. Peter let his lids flutter shut under the barrage of images and impressions. They were so much more varied, layered and nuanced now that Sylar was awake. He saw everything he'd seen before, along with Sylar's need to trust, and his uncertainty in what Peter was doing.
Trust me, Peter thought, and a moment later Sylar's needs shifted - that one, oddly, was filled simply by Peter's wish and probably by Sylar's certainty, through the empathy, that Peter was sincere. A delicate dance began of identifying needs and trying to figure out how to project his willingness to meet them. Peter could sense Sylar very tentatively trying to figure out how to do the same thing, trying to work himself up to offering … himself - the devotion and loyalty he'd given up to so many and had it spurned, been used. His fear of being manipulated was strong.
It's okay. I really mean it. I'm not going to betray you ...
"Wha- Peter!" Matt squawked from the stairs, interrupting the moment.
Peter pulled away and shifted to look back over his shoulder. Both he and Sylar regarded a shocked-looking Matt, who had stopped nearly mid-stride in rushing forward with the intent to pull Peter away from his 'attacker'. The consensual nature of what he'd broken in on made an impact on the former cop. "Uh," Matt said, having no idea how to deal with whatever it was he had in front of him. The thoughts he was probably reading from their minds almost certainly wasn't helping his equilibrium any. "Peter … you, uh, you alright?"
Peter cleared his throat and arranged himself very casually against the wall, like this was just an everyday thing. No big deal. Just down here making out with Sylar. Buzz off. The reddening of his skin gave him away, but otherwise he seemed collected. "Yeah. Fine, thanks. I was just working things out with Sylar here. As you can see, I haven't actually let him out."
Sylar looked over Peter's posture and copied it. With his left elbow against the wall a little over his head, he let his hand swing out so his fingers could play with Peter's hair. Peter thought it felt nice. He leaned his head back into it a little, perfecting the image that was blowing poor Matt's mind. Matt looked like he was busily shorting half the circuits in his brain.
"Matt, go back upstairs," Peter directed calmly. "I need to finish talking to Sylar about stuff."
Matt blinked and, after a moment's delay, turned and left, doing exactly as Peter had asked. It was almost like he'd used a mental command on the befuddled cop. Not that Peter was above that, but all he'd had to do this time was present Matt with the immediate and easy solution to the confusion he was experiencing. When Peter turned back to the man he'd been kissing, Sylar merely said, "So, we were talking, huh?"
"Shut up," Peter said with an amused smile.
"No," Sylar responded with a little smile of his own. "I don't think I will. I have a few more things I'd like to say." The hand toying with Peter's hair slipped behind his head and drew him closer for another round of kissing. "Yes," Sylar murmured between returned smooches, "quite a bit more … to say."