Summary: After a virus decimates New York and turns the city into a ghost town inhabited by sun-shy creatures with a lust for blood, doctor Mohinder Suresh doggedly searches for a cure, alone. Sylar can’t stay away.
Fandom: Heroes (with I Am Legend fusion elements)
Original story: Downpour by cruiscan_lan
Notes: Many thanks to jaune_chat for beta reading and encouragement.
Sylar stood at the edge of the rooftop and scanned the street below for movement. The sun was still rising in the sky, so nothing should be moving down there. There was very little left in New York City that could move around freely in the daylight. The creatures—the infected humans to whom this city really belonged—couldn’t stand the sun. Sylar hadn't seen any people, real people, not infected shells of human beings, in eighty-two days. Unless he counted Mohinder. Which he didn't. Mohinder was a special case.
It had been a year since the infection had broken out. Evacuation had emptied most of the city. Some misguided few had stayed to try to fight the deadly virus. However, powers like flight and telepathy were not much use either against the spread of infection or the enraged monsters the infected had become. Those would-be heroes who hadn't died of their heroism, Sylar had dispatched. Eighty-three days ago he’d killed his last human: sliced the top off the head of a sweet southern girl who could mimic any motion she saw. She’d come up here to save the world, to be a hero. She’d never had a chance against this horde. No one did, really. She should really be grateful that Sylar had put her out of her misery.
After that last kill, the muscle mimic, he’d tried killing the infected, to pass the days and to assuage the hunger for blood that still assaulted him from time to time. But it wasn’t the same.
Contrary to popular belief, Sylar didn’t actually enjoy killing. He didn’t mind it, but although he could appreciate the aesthetic pleasure of painting walls with spattered blood, he wouldn’t have done so if it hadn’t been necessary to get what he wanted. Murder was just a way of tearing through the wrapping paper to get to the prize he wanted.
When the prizes were all gone, he found that killing no longer held any pleasure for him.
The days had become very long, alone and with nothing left worth hunting. From his rooftop vantage point, he was king of all he surveyed, but that fact brought him no comfort. He was alone in New York City with a horde of bloodthirsty, diseased madmen, and one Mohinder Suresh.
The infected swarmed and hunted at night, so every time the sun set Sylar found a new place to hole up. At first he'd liked the sense of being nomadic. Then it began to chafe, the constant work of finding food, finding shelter, sometimes having to dispose of bodies before bedding down for the evening.
One summer morning he hot-wired a car, abandoned on the street with its fellows, and drove to Queens, to his old apartment. The place echoed with emptiness. All his things--his books, his bed, his clothes, his kit of watch-repair tools--were gone, taken by the Company. He thought for a moment of stopping by his mother's old place, but surely her things had long since been taken away: her snow globes packed into storage somewhere, or sold off, or thrown away. All trash, just like the rest of the city, now.
He drove most of the way back to Brooklyn, until the car sputtered out of gas. Then he walked. He kept an eye on the sun as he made his way through the too-quiet streets. Light still shone weakly through the murky air, but shadows loomed in the shade of tall buildings, so Sylar stayed alert for danger. Luckily, the building he sought stood on the sunny side of the street. He hadn't been here in over a year, but he'd thought of it often. He checked the street carefully, listening hard with his enhanced hearing for any sign that he might not be alone. Once he was satisfied that no one was watching, he entered the building.
Mohinder's apartment was mostly as he remembered it. Papers littered the floor and clothes were strewn about the bedroom, as if he'd packed in a hurry. Sylar stood in front of the half-empty closet, just looking, for several minutes. He reached out to brush his hand down the back of a brightly patterned shirt. The fabric was soft.
A thin layer of dust covered everything in the apartment. Mohinder hadn't been here recently, but there was always the chance he'd come back. Sylar set to work boarding up the windows and barricading the door in preparation for nightfall.
Sylar knew Mohinder was in the city. He'd seen him from time to time, first in the company of other humans, as they strove in vain to hold back the tide of infection, and more recently on his own, striding purposefully into a science building at NYU or creeping through the streets, eyes searching the shadows for danger. Of course Mohinder had stayed. He felt accountable, somehow, for this outbreak. Though the good doctor hadn't actually been responsible for the release of the virus—Noah’s Company deserved the credit for that—Sylar imagined that being immune must have felt like some sort of a condemnation to Mohinder. Like destiny handing him a ticket to ride: you're the only one with the power to fix this, Mohinder Suresh. Now that all the other would-be saviors of New York were dead, the mantle of responsibility would certainly be weighing heavily on Mohinder.
Sylar had kept track of Mohinder all this time, which wasn't terribly difficult in a city that was mostly lifeless. Manhattan teemed with the walking dead: infected former humans who attacked anything that smelled of life. One human was like a shining beacon of light in the midst of all that death. Sylar watched Mohinder from a distance, always careful not to be seen, and made sure that nothing threatened him. With the abilities Sylar commanded, he was easily a match for several infected, but it still paid to be careful. Sylar didn't want to risk becoming infected himself and leaving Mohinder alone. Sylar saw the empty look in the eyes of the infected, the loss of control as they changed from humans into something less and more at the same time. Theirs was one gift he didn't want. He was afraid. And if he, Sylar, was afraid, he couldn’t imagine how Mohinder felt.
Sylar hung around mid-town most mornings to catch a glimpse of Mohinder as he went dutifully to work in the lab he'd claimed as his own at the NYU School of Medicine. Sylar had been inside several times, early in the morning before Mohinder arrived, or later, after he'd gone for the day. Sylar knew enough about how things worked--and especially about how Mohinder worked--to know that he was trying to formulate a cure for the virus.
White rats in a bank of cages along one wall attested to Mohinder's continued failure, as every time he visited, the rats that weren't stiff and unmoving were thrashing against the bars of their prisons in impotent rage, infected with sickness and madness.
Mohinder maintained several safehouses to choose from when he wasn't at the lab. Sylar had discovered most of these by the simple expediency of following Mohinder home. It wasn’t difficult to avoid being seen if he kept to the rooftops, or followed a few blocks behind, keeping track of Mohinder by the familiar sound of his footsteps, his breathing.
One autumn afternoon when wending his way through alleys that took him parallel to Mohinder's course, Sylar spotted an infected man, his sallow skin pale in the shadows, watching Mohinder from the dark safety of a covered stairwell. He used telekinesis to drag the man out into the sunlight and pin him to the brick wall of the alley while he ripped him apart, standing far enough away to avoid the spray of infected blood.
The dying creature's screams had brought the attention of the rest of his pack, who boiled out of the dark building and into the conveniently shadowy alley like hornets from a nest. Sylar whirled to face them, but then he felt the loss of warmth on his face as the sun passed behind a dark cloud. The infected—a dozen at least—charged toward him. He ran.
The alley, like most places in the city, was cluttered with the discarded detritus of a dead and decadent people. Sylar dodged old shopping carts and jumped piles of trash as he sprinted down the canyon of buildings mired in shadow. His heart pounded and air rasped in his throat as the deranged screams and hungry moans of the infected swelled behind him.
Satisfaction at having lured the creatures away from Mohinder turned to fear as the chase became a run for his life. He was a match for any of the infected, but he wasn't immortal. If one of them got close enough to bite him, or even to bleed on him, he could catch the virus. He could become one of these mindless, feral killers. He could die.
Sylar veered to the right at a t-intersection, leading his pursuers away from any path Mohinder might take. Around the corner, Sylar pivoted to throw an icy blast of cold back at his attackers. The power caught one creature—a hollow-eyed woman with strands of hair still clinging to her scalp—and sent her reeling back into her fellows.
Sylar raced away to the sound of renewed screeching. Ahead of him, at the end of the block, the grassy expanse of Madison Square Park gleamed in the fading sunlight. He put on an extra burst of speed, careening out into the sunlight and leaving his pursuers screaming behind him, trapped in the shadow of the last building. Sylar trotted out into the sunny expanse of grass, gulping in air and shaking out muscles still bow-string taut from adrenaline rush, eager to get as far away as possible before the sun went all the way down.
That night he lay in Mohinder's bed, thinking of the scientist at home, in one of his safehouses, blissfully unaware of the danger he'd barely escaped, thanks to Sylar. Sylar thought about what Mohinder might do at home, those long, lonely evenings with nothing to do but dwell on his mistakes and await the dawn.
As he thought of Mohinder lying awake in the dark, he let his hand drift down to the front of his pants. He touched himself through the thin cotton, and tried to imagine Mohinder, warm in his bed in his little safehouse, cheerfully unaware of the risk Sylar had run for him. Mohinder had been alone a long time now. Did he feel lonely? Did he wonder if there was anyone else in the city, thinking about him? One hundred and six days now without seeing another person. Surely Mohinder missed human warmth and connection. What old memories did he call up to comfort himself in the dark of night, when the screams of infected echoed through the empty streets?
Sylar replayed the memories of a time when he and Mohinder had shared something, before Mohinder had known who he was, when the scientist looked at him with kindness, with want. The memories of those few days were almost worn out from replaying, but tonight Sylar took comfort in the thought that somewhere, Mohinder might be reliving those same moments.
Sylar stroked himself steadily, and imagined that somewhere across the city the only other living man in New York was doing the same.
After that, Sylar took a closer interest in Mohinder than before. He scouted out breakfast at dawn— usually something from a convenience shop on his way to Manhattan--and sat on the roof of the building across the way from Mohinder's chosen lab so that he'd have the best vantage point to see his friend, whatever his approach.
Sylar became familiar with the rotation of safehouses: a different one for every day of the week, regular as clockwork. Before long Sylar was able to predict which route Mohinder would take to his lab in the morning, and which way he would go home in the afternoon.
One hundred and thirty-seven days after Sylar and Mohinder became the last humans alive in New York, Mohinder didn't show up to the lab. Sylar waited until almost noon to go looking. He knew his way to all of Mohinder's safehouses, and the second one he checked held the scientist. The windows were boarded up, but if he concentrated, he could hear Mohinder moving around inside. The place was a charming townhouse, a much finer place than Mohinder could ever have hoped to afford in the time before the virus. Sylar felt proud of Mohinder for choosing a place worthy of him rather than punishing himself by squatting in some hovel.
Sylar sat on the steps of the townhouse five doors down and wondered why Mohinder had skipped the lab today. Sylar had personally watched him go to the lab the last thirty one mornings in a row, and Mohinder had been at the lab every single day that Sylar had happened to check over the past year, but it was possible that Mohinder was following some long-term calendar that Sylar didn’t yet understand. Perhaps today was a holiday; Sylar knew what time it was, but he wasn't sure of the date. He thought it might be October.
Another possibility presented itself: perhaps Mohinder had simply grown tired of his futile efforts to fix the unfixable, and given up.
If that was so, Sylar wondered if he could get Mohinder to leave New York with him. Surely there were places, sunny places, where the need to guard against the infected hordes was not so sharp. Places that before the outbreak had had more sparse populations.
Then he remembered that Mohinder wasn't his friend, not really. Mohinder might not even know that Sylar was protecting him, or that he was in New York, or even that he was still alive. But he should know. If Mohinder was having a crisis of faith, he should know that there was someone else alive in all the world who cared.
Sylar would wait and see. Perhaps today was a regularly scheduled vacation for Mohinder, and tomorrow he'd go back to the lab as if he hadn't given up hope of ever finding a cure. But if Mohinder was finally ready to write off the possibility of ever saving the world, Sylar would be ready to pick up the pieces.
The next morning Sylar took a Pop Tart with him and settled under the trees across the lawn from Mohinder's lab. He didn't bother trekking up to the roof because he didn't think Mohinder was coming. He'd stay here a few hours, then seek Mohinder out at his safehouse. Today, he'd speak to him. Today he'd find out about Mohinder's crisis of faith.
A few minutes past nine o'clock, Mohinder came striding down the street, his messenger bag slung over his shoulder, heading purposefully toward the door to the School of Medicine. Without realizing how it happened, Sylar found himself on his feet.
Mohinder turned, then, instantly on guard at the sight of movement. Both men froze. Even from twenty yards away, Sylar could see Mohinder's face slide into a pinched frown. Without saying a word, Mohinder turned on his heel and marched into the building.
Sylar stared after him. After months of speaking to no one, of not seeing another human soul, Mohinder would rather ignore Sylar than have any human contact at all.
Sylar didn't wait to escort Mohinder home that afternoon. Instead, he returned to Brooklyn. He stripped down and stood in the living room of Mohinder's old apartment, leaning over the desk where Mohinder had worked so diligently, in his early years trying to discover the origin of humans with special abilities, and later to unravel the mystery of the virus that struck first them, and then the rest of humanity. Sylar braced one hand against the desk as he tugged at himself roughly, imagining Mohinder in his lab, working doggedly, despite all odds, to find a cure to save a world that was already dead.
He knew the stubborn set in the doctor's jaw that meant he'd follow his course to its conclusion, no matter how ludicrous. Mohinder’s look, his dismissive, cruel glare, cut through Sylar. He hadn’t believed Mohinder would welcome him with open arms, not really, but Sylar had thought there might be some comfort for Mohinder in seeing another human, even if that human was his enemy.
Sylar bit his lip hard as the fantasy of the kind, soft-spoken Mohinder who’d looked at him with shy interest so many years ago was replaced with the sharp image of this current Mohinder: harder, more assured, who wouldn’t speak to Sylar even if they were the last two men on Earth. Sylar climaxed into his fist, sobbing Mohinder’s name.
Sylar didn't bother concealing himself, after that. He sat in the courtyard at NYU every morning, and Mohinder ignored him on his way into the lab. In the afternoon, he escorted Mohinder home, following a block or so behind him. The first few times he relished the frustration written all over Mohinder's body as he fought between the urges to ignore Sylar or to demand he stop following him. Silence won out.
After a week of being ignored, Sylar began following Mohinder into the School of Medicine. The first time, Mohinder whirled around at the door, fury etched into every line of his face, and opened his mouth as if he was about to tell Sylar to go to hell. Instead, he just waved a hand dismissively, went into his lab, slammed the door behind him, and locked it.
Sylar would have had no trouble turning the lock with telekinesis, or tearing the door wholly off its hinges, come to that. Instead, he walked to a little Korean grocery store two miles away, one he knew hadn't been picked over, and filled a bag with nonperishables: brown rice, pasta, two cans of tomato sauce, pinto beans, raisins, a box of almonds.
He could still hear Mohinder working in the lab when he returned to the school, so he left the bag right outside the door and went out to his post in the courtyard.
At half past two, Mohinder came out holding the brown paper bag in one arm, and eyed Sylar suspiciously. Still, he said nothing, and after Sylar had followed him to the block where he lived, he waved from his doorway before going inside.
For seven days, Sylar played provider. He followed Mohinder inside to the door of his lab, and every time Mohinder locked it after him. Sylar went out foraging. One day he brought back a first-aid kit assembled from materials he'd found in the school. Another day he brought back an electric lantern with two sets of batteries. One day he found purified water; he brought back a five-gallon jug, but made a note of the storeroom so he could get more if Mohinder needed it. On the seventh day, while out scouting for some new prize to bring back, he stopped in front of the seventeenth police precinct. The place was a little more challenging to break into than most buildings in the deserted city, but Sylar managed. A windowless room in the interior of the station held what Sylar was looking for. He took four handguns and two boxes of ammunition, along with a few shooting targets. He didn't think Mohinder had had much practice with guns. He stored it all in two metal boxes and brought it back to leave outside the lab.
Instead of retreating to the courtyard, Sylar stayed inside, taking a seat on a bench down the hall. Mohinder saw the boxes first, before he noticed Sylar watching and scowled at him. Nevertheless, curiosity got the better of the doctor, as Sylar knew it would. Mohinder flipped open the top box, and his eyes widened in surprise.
He looked warily at Sylar, then back at the weapons. He picked one up--the nine-millimeter Glock--and loaded a clip quickly and efficiently. Perhaps Sylar had been wrong about Mohinder's experience with firearms. Mohinder pulled back the safety and then turned to level the gun at Sylar.
Sylar sat calmly, unmoving. He was fairly sure that if Mohinder wanted to kill him, he would have tried before now. And in any case, Mohinder's pointing a gun at him was certainly a step forward from ignoring him.
After a moment in which neither of them really believed anything was going to happen, Mohinder lowered the gun, re-engaged the safety, pulled out the clip, and returned it to the box. He picked up the two boxes and headed outside. Sylar went after him.
Sylar followed Mohinder into the school again the next morning, and this time he caught the door before Mohinder could slam it behind him.
Mohinder shot him a glare, but the look was more weary than angry, and in any case he didn't seem to think it was worth breaking his silence to protest. He turned away and went further into the lab. Sylar stepped inside and shut the door behind him.
Watching Mohinder work was fascinating. He shrugged on a lab coat over his jeans and shirt: no bright patterns anymore, just drab earth tones. Sylar wondered if the change was deliberate, or if Mohinder was simply limited in his selection of clothes. Sylar entertained the idea of bringing Mohinder some clothes from his old apartment, but dismissed it, at least until he knew why Mohinder hadn’t returned to the place himself.
Mohinder grabbed a clipboard from his desk and made a few notes as he looked at his cages of rats. He picked up a handheld voice recorder from the counter by his microscope, and was about to hit the button when he seemed to remember Sylar was there. His eyes slid sideways to look at his guest, then flicked back to the recorder. He was still for a moment, and Sylar imagined he was debating with himself whether it was worse to speak in front of Sylar or to acknowledge that Sylar had made him change his routine. In the end, he hit the record button on the device and turned his back on Sylar.
"Subjects 19 and 41 have died, as expected, after formula seven was administered."
An unexpected wave of pleasure shuddered through Sylar. He hadn't heard another's voice in... A long time. To hear any voice--much less this voice, smooth and cultured, the lilt of the accent making English sound like some ancient, foreign tongue--was an almost sensual pleasure.
"Subject ten seems to be exhibiting the early signs of infection. Hair loss is apparent on the back and hindquarters, and subject's movement has become nearly constant." Mohinder made a mark on his clipboard and stepped down the row of cages.
The next rat he looked in on wasn’t chattering madly or throwing itself at the walls of its cage. Mohinder pulled a nearby lamp toward him and shone it into the cage, but the rat did nothing other than blink at him. "Subject thirty-two is still alive, and shows no loss of motor control or sensitivity to light. Will proceed with modifying formula fourteen and monitoring effects."
Sylar slid into a chair in the corner and watched Mohinder silently as he puttered about the lab. Mohinder's movements, even the twist of his wrist as he adjusted the microscope, or the touch of his fingers against his forehead as he brushed his hair out of the way, seemed terribly intimate. This was as close as Sylar had been to another human being since he'd made his last kill. Mohinder was beautiful, even when frowning at his notes or injecting a squirming white rat with another experimental compound.
At two o'clock, Mohinder shrugged off his lab coat. He didn't look at Sylar, but he did leave the door open for Sylar to follow him out. On his way home--Sylar knew this route, knew the location of today’s safehouse--Mohinder stopped at the door to a little restaurant whose sign was obscured by graffiti. He took a key out of his pocket and unlocked the garden level door. Sylar followed him in through the restaurant’s dining room and into the kitchen.
A small generator hummed in one corner, powering a freestanding freezer that sat under the window by the alley. Mohinder tugged open the lid of the freezer and pulled out a square packet. After a moment's hesitation, he stuck a hand back into the freezer, rummaging around until he found what he was looking for. He pulled out another package: this one oblong and slightly lumpy, before shutting the freezer. He set the second package on the counter next to the large industrial sink and said, "I don't eat meat, so..." before snapping his jaw shut. His face closed off as he realized what he'd done. He tucked his own frozen packet under his arm and stormed out of the room.
Sylar watched him go before looking at the package Mohinder had left. A t-bone steak. The first real meat Sylar had seen in ten months or more.
Back at Mohinder's old apartment, he felt slightly guilty about cooking a steak over his little propane camping stove in a skillet that once belonged to a vegetarian. But the steak was just right: tender and slightly bloody, still cool at the center.
Sylar lay in bed with a full belly, and replayed the memory of Mohinder's voice, dictating his notes, even notes about viruses and formulae and test subjects. Sylar had almost forgotten Mohinder's voice, but now that he'd heard it again, he could imagine that voice saying other things. He reached a hand inside his pants and touched himself as he imagined all the things Mohinder could say to him, soon, if things went on this way. "Please, I've been so lonely," Mohinder would say. "I didn't want you to know how much I needed you." And of course, "Yes, please, harder." Sylar came with Mohinder's name on his lips, his own voice harsh and cracked from misuse.
"Mohinder," he said again, as his fingers still slid through the slick mess around his over-sensitized skin. "Mohinder, please."
Sylar knew almost nothing about contagious diseases. But he knew that dead rats were bad, rats that lost all their hair and screeched horrible, piercing screams were bad, and live rats were... interesting. So he had some idea of why subject thirty-two was so important. Four days now Sylar had been watching Mohinder while he worked, and still the rat was alive. Today, though, another one of the test subjects, thirty-eight, who had been clawing at the walls of her prison yesterday and mewling in pain when Mohinder shone a light into her cage, was likewise healthy.
Mohinder dictated into his recorder, and today his voice held a more hopeful note than usual. "Formula fourteen seems to have reversed the effects of the virus on a previously infected subject. More study is necessary to determine if this effect can be repeated, or if it can be transferred to use on a human subject, but this formula is the most promising lead in my research thus far."
He spent the afternoon watching, enthralled, as Mohinder injected several more rats, ones already showing the signs of infection, with his new formula. He dictated extensively about the characteristics of the formula, postulating theories on why it might be more effective and explaining how he'd developed this strain from findings in his ongoing work. "I've known since the beginning that I have some sort of natural immunity to the virus, and that if I could only find the proper arrangement, my blood could be used as a base for an antidote. So far formula fourteen seems to confirm this theory."
Sylar was watching him fill a small vile of the vaccine when he realized the sunshine outside was fading. "It's after four," he said suddenly.
Mohinder jerked as if he'd been slapped. He stared at Sylar. Neither of them had spoken to the other since the incident in the restaurant kitchen. For a moment, Mohinder looked as if he might snap at Sylar. Then irritation became concern as he processed the words. Mohinder's eyes went to the window, and he made the same assessment as Sylar. He grabbed his recorder. "I'm leaving a sample of formula fourteen here and taking a sample with me for safekeeping. The notes on how to manufacture the formula will also remain here, along with a sample of my blood, and the antigen it contains." He stopped the recorder and set it aside. Then he pulled a syringe from a drawer and drew a measure of the pale blue formula out of the bottle he'd been using. The syringe went into a hard plastic case that Mohinder slid into the pocket of his messenger bag. He grabbed a few more things from around the lab--his clipboard, a few papers, and the recorder--before heading for the door. He didn’t look at Sylar on his way past.
Outside, the sun was sinking beyond the tops of the highest buildings in the skyline, throwing dangerous shadows across the narrow streets. Mohinder headed for the nearest safehouse, abandoning his usual rotation in favor of expediency, nearly running down the sidewalk. Sylar followed only a few yards behind, eyes darting around constantly, scanning the shadows for danger.
This safehouse was in a loft, a converted factory with a penthouse only accessible by a narrow staircase. Easily defensible. The building loomed in front of them, blocking out the setting sun and throwing the entirety of their path into alarming shade.
Sylar saw them move before Mohinder did.
"Hey!" he shouted. Mohinder paused in mid-stride, and the two infected who'd been lurking between the buildings to their left came charging out into the open, no longer trapped by the sun's light.
Sylar called up radioactive heat into his fist and let loose a ball of energy. The two creatures reeled back, screeching in pain just like Mohinder's poor infected rats did when exposed to light. Ahead of him, Sylar saw Mohinder stumble, too, and remembered that radiation was not a precise weapon. "Run!" he shouted, but he needn't have bothered. Mohinder was stumbling to his feet and fleeing again.
The two infected were back up. This time Sylar took aim with an outstretched hand, using telekinesis to push them away and slam against the wall of the building across the street where the sun's last rays still shone. They screamed in pain as Sylar held them there, letting them burn. So focused was he on his work that he almost didn't hear Mohinder's shout of distress. But he turned to see Mohinder, almost at the door, slowly backing away from an infected man who prowled after him with a predator's grace.
Sylar dropped the two he was holding and sprinted toward Mohinder. His movement caught the eye of the doctor's attacker, and soon the man was charging toward him. Sylar's hands shot ice across the space between them, freezing the man's diseased blood and stopping him in his tracks.
Mohinder was running into the building now, Sylar had time to note with satisfaction before he was attacked again. One of the previously pinned infected tackled him, knocking the breath out of him as they tumbled to the ground. Frantically, Sylar pushed him away with telekinesis, but the second one latched on to Sylar, clawing at this skin and tearing at Sylar's neck with his teeth.
Another radioactive pulse made the creature scream. Sylar could smell the sizzle of burning flesh, but the infected man wouldn't be dislodged.
Sylar's attacker looked up, and then Sylar was sprayed with blood as a bullet shattered the infected's skull. He slumped lifelessly on top of Sylar as more shots were fired. After a moment, silence permeated the street.
Mohinder appeared, crouching beside Sylar. "Come on," he said. Mohinder pushed the ruined corpse off of Sylar and grabbed his arm. Together they stumbled into the converted factory and Mohinder bolted the solid metal door behind them.
Sylar pressed a hand to the torn flesh of his neck and slid down against the wall. "It bit me," he said. This time the roughness in his voice didn't come from disuse.
"I saw," said Mohinder.
Silence drifted between them for a minute, and Mohinder wiped one bloody hand absently against his jeans. He held the Glock Sylar had gotten for him clutched in his other hand.
"I can't stay here," Sylar said. He'd seen what had happened to the rats. He knew what became of the people. He would become a real monster, not just an unappreciated evolutionary imperative. He would kill Mohinder.
"You can't go out there," Mohinder said, looking at the metal door as if he could see what was happening beyond.
Sylar's eyes drifted to Mohinder's messenger bag, which lay discarded on the stairs that led up to the loft. The case that held the syringe of formula fourteen poked out of one of the pockets of the bag.
Mohinder followed his gaze. When he turned back to Sylar, his eyes were sad. "I can’t," he said softly.
Sylar dropped his gaze. Of course he couldn’t. He hadn’t expected Mohinder to help him. Not really. Despite his fantasies, he had no illusions about what Mohinder thought of him.
“I’d already decided,” Mohinder said softly. He slid to his knees next to Sylar. “I thought about this. I thought about you. Even before… I thought about you so often.”
Sylar leaned his head back against the wall. His wounds kept up a dull, throbbing ache, but Mohinder’s words were a comfort. Someone had been thinking of him, those long lonely nights. He hadn’t been alone. “Then why?” he asked. He words rasped in this throat, harsh and painful.
“I’d given up.” Mohinder shifted to lean against the wall next to Sylar. “That day, when I saw you, I was certain I couldn’t do it anymore.”
“I thought so,” Sylar nodded.
“I was going to the lab to…Put everything away. Destroy all the test subjects. Burn my research. I wasn’t sure exactly. Then when I saw you, I was so angry… Angry that you were alive and everyone else was dead. I told myself I had to find the cure, and that I would never give it to you.”
“Well, you found the cure.”
Mohinder waved a hand dismissively. “I wouldn’t have, if you hadn’t been there.”
Sylar coughed, then, choking on the blood trickling down his throat. Although the virus couldn’t possibly be taking hold this quickly, he imagined he could feel the contagion starting to stir in his blood.
“Sylar…” Mohinder whispered.
Sylar shook his head. He thought of the dead city, of Mohinder left alone in a sea of hostile monsters, alone with his rats and his notes and his work. But Mohinder had never been so pathetically lonely as Sylar. He had purpose. He had hope, again. “You’ll be fine,” he rasped. He dared to reach out, to brush his fingers against Mohinder’s cheek.
Mohinder closed his eyes, turning his face sharply to the side, and Sylar let his hand drop away.
“I’m a coward,” Mohinder said softly. He pushed himself up and away from the wall, away from Sylar. “But I can… I can help you at the last.” He held up his gun. “I can give you something.”
“You’d do that for me?” Sylar looked from gun to Mohinder’s eyes, earnest and sad.
Mohinder came back toward Sylar, dropped to one knee, and leaned forward. He pressed a chaste kiss to Sylar’s lips, though they were streaked with blood. Sylar held still, as if he could preserve this moment forever, this final kiss, the end of the legend of the two last humans. Then the moment was gone.
Mohinder stood up. He raised the gun.
Sylar closed his eyes. “Please, Mohinder.”