Summary: And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. (Rev. 6:8)
Spoilers: Seasons 1 & 2; first few episodes of S3.
Warnings: Apocalyptic themes, sexual situations
A/N: With many thanks to my beta. All Biblical quotes from the KJV.
Original story: Out of the Ashes by neshel
Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust (The Pale Horse Rider Remix)
And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.
– Revelation 9:6
Seven months after Mohinder had cured him with his blood, Sylar finds him on the topmost floor of Lenox Hill Hospital trying to cure the others.
A skeleton staff patrols the wards; those who possessed the skills and stomach to help have themselves became infected. Mohinder turns away from the IV he’s checking and spots Sylar standing in the doorway. From across the room, Sylar can see his body tense. But all he says is, “You should wear a mask.”
Sylar shrugs. “I’m immune.”
“Being immune doesn’t mean you can’t be a carrier. The virus is mutating, Sylar. Who knows how many survivors of the original strain you’ve killed off, acting like Typhoid Mary!”
Sylar snatches the mask from Mohinder’s outstretched hand to shut him up. He snaps it tight over his mouth and nose and walks down the line of beds, peering in through the clear plastic curtains pulled tightly around each bed. It’s a precaution as useless as the PSAs that urge everyone to wash their hands; ninety percent of New York City’s population is dead, dying, or infected, and the transmission rate is only rising.
“What are you doing here?”
Sylar turns around at the sound of Peter’s voice; he expected to be met with anger, but Peter only sounds exhausted. The world has become unrecognisable since they last met and maybe, when everyone else they’ve ever known has died, it doesn’t matter so much who last tried to kill who or why.
“Same as everyone else,” Sylar murmurs. “Trying to get through the day.”
Peter tucks his hair behind his ears. It’s grown long again since the outbreaks first began.
“No change in Ward C,” he says to Mohinder.
“It’s only been a week since the trial began. You need to give it time,” Peter soothes, but Mohinder thumps his fist against the wall.
Sylar takes a vial of the new serum Peter’s been administering. He turns it up and down, watching the viscous fluid lazily churn. Sylar’s seen the future, sketched out in thick, charcoal lines, in his own jagged hand; he knows that this, hospitals and vaccinations, government posters telling them to cover their mouths and noses when they sneeze, isn’t how this will end.
Then, the tray Peter holds is being shoved into Sylar’s hands as he and Mohinder rush across the ward. They rip aside the curtain from the bed where a patient violently convulses. The oxygen mask that covers her face is spattered inside with blood.
Mohinder’s injecting her with adrenaline and Peter’s yelling, “Clear!” but Sylar calmly sets the tray aside and places his hand over her chest.
He pulls aside the flimsy paper mask that shields his face and crumples it in his hand; as he stares into her vacant, sunken eyes, the charade that everything will be all right is one he can’t keep up. His fingers curl as telekinesis pulls tight around her heart and against his invisible grip, Sylar can feel its beat slowly weaken.
“No!” Peter claws at him, tries to pull him away but the wail of the monitor screams out her death at Sylar’s hands.
Sylar slides her eyes shut and pulls the sheet over her face. He makes the sign of the cross and mouths an almost forgotten prayer, not for her soul but for theirs, and for the future that he’s saved her from, the future they can’t avoid.
And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone. By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths.
– Revelation 9:17-18
Desolate silence fills the air. It’s been months since Sylar last heard traffic or crowds or construction. The New York he knew is already dead.
He sits on the edge of the roof, his legs dangling over the side of the building many stories above the ground. He leans forward, almost, almost far enough to fall, and wonders if those who jumped had more courage than those who fruitlessly continue to fight the virus that ravages their bodies from the inside out. The wind whips through his hair and catches at his shirt, buffeting him closer and closer to the edge, but just before he allows himself to fall, Mohinder calls, “Sylar?”
Theirs is a choice that Sylar doesn’t have the luxury of making.
Mohinder comes to sit beside him, his back to the outside world and his feet firmly on the gravel that covers the hospital roof.
“What are you doing up here?” he growls. “Shouldn’t you be ministering to the sick?”
Mohinder ignores his dismissive tone and pulls an empty syringe from his pocket. “I need a sample of your blood. Maybe there’s something there. Something we’ve been missing.”
“It won’t work,” he says, even as he lets Mohinder cinch the tourniquet around his arm. “My blood’s no different from Peter’s or Claire’s. If there was something to find, you would have found it.”
He doesn’t wince as the needle breaks his skin. Mohinder’s silent as he draws his blood and Sylar keeps his eyes trained on the distant street below.
“I have to try,” Mohinder whispers. Underfoot, the gravel crunches as he walks away.
And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.
– Revelation 14:8
They sit in the nurses’ break room. The TV echoes through the empty halls.
“This morning, twenty more people were killed trying to escape the cordon around New York City. The White House issued a statement today. The President is urging the people of New York not to panic. He says that New York has not been forgotten and that the barricades are only a temporary measure. To support this position, extra supply drops have been scheduled to help the survivors.
The Department of Homeland Security went on to reiterate that anyone caught trying to contravene the quarantine order will be labelled a domestic terrorist. Deadly force has been authorised to maintain the integrity of the barricades. The hearts of everyone here at CNN goes out to those of you inside the cordon. We ask you sit tight and keep tuning in--”
Sylar shuts off the news and throws the remote across the room. He stands at the window, looking out at Lexington Avenue, at the boarded up stores and the abandoned cars, at the trash rotting in the gutters. He knows that even if he stands there all day, he won’t see a single person walk down the street.
“It’s spreading,” he says.
“You don’t know that!” Peter snaps almost before the words have left his mouth. Sylar rolls his eyes and turns to face them both.
“We can’t afford for you to be naïve right now.”
He takes the sketch from his front pocket and carefully unfolds it, smoothing out the well-worn creases in the paper as he lays it on the coffee table for them to see. “It’s time.”
Mohinder sinks down to the sofa, his head cradled in his hands, but Peter angrily shouts, “No! There are still uninfected people in the city. And what about the immune? We have to get them out.”
“The virus can incubate for up to six months,” Mohinder says flatly. “It’s too risky.”
“So, that’s it? They’re just collateral damage?”
“You’d trade their lives for the rest of the world?” Sylar asks.
Peter’s hands glow with sudden blue electricity. “You can’t play God!”
Sylar walks towards him and lets the current sear his skin. He leans in to hiss in Peter’s ear, “Why not? You and Adam already did.”
The sparks die on Peter’s palms and he shoves Sylar away.
With a sarcastic sneer that Sylar doesn’t quite feel, he says, “Really, Peter. Someone has to do the right thing. I just never thought it would be me.”
Mohinder lays a hand on Peter’s shoulder, squeezing gently to quell another argument before it starts. “He’s right. It’s time.”
And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.
– Revelation 16:18
Sylar stands in Kirby Plaza. The red helix sculpture is in pieces at his feet, a casualty of the first riot to sweep the city.
One year and seven months after Isaac’s death, the prophetic painting they had all so feared will finally come true.
Peter’s arms lock around Mohinder’s waist; Mohinder clings tightly to his neck. They look at Sylar with haunted, watchful, waiting eyes and Sylar nods.
“Fly up as high as you can and then head west. Don’t stop until nightfall.”
“Sylar…” Mohinder starts to walk towards him but with a flick of Sylar’s wrist, telekinesis pushes him back into Peter’s arms.
“No, Mohinder. Just go.” Sylar looks at Mohinder sadly and softly adds, “You were right. We don’t get the luxury of regret.”
For a moment, Mohinder stares at him blankly and Sylar wonders if he recognises his own words on Sylar's tongue or if so much has happened that the memory of that desperate phone call has already faded. Then, Mohinder nods, once in understanding, and presses himself to Peter’s chest.
“Half an hour,” Peter says.
“Half an hour,” Sylar agrees. He watches as they lift off and disappear into the clear blue sky.
He sits on the edge of the fountain, disused for months, and watches as the pond scum moves with the breeze. He looks around the abandoned buildings and the empty streets and wonders how many people, dying and survivors, are hidden behind those breakable concrete walls.
He glances at the broken watch wrapped around his wrist and counts the seconds as they pass.
And when he explodes, crouched down at the epicentre of a blazing inferno, buildings topple and flatten. Sylar burns to purge the world of sins that are not his.
And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
– Revelation 21:1
He stands at the window watching. In the glass, he sees himself reflected back, dark, hollow eyes that glow red with the flames that roar on the horizon. The city burns as bright as daylight and he thinks that as long as the fires crackle, he will not sleep again.
Sylar lays his hand against the glass to blur the face that stares at him.
In stocking feet, Mohinder pads up behind him. The hand that settles on Sylar’s back is warm, alive, burning him in a way that the flames never could.
“It had to be done,” he murmurs.
“Easy for you to say,” Sylar whispers back.
Mohinder rests his forehead against Sylar’s shoulder but doesn’t reply. Together they stand and listen to the distant rumble of destruction. Even in the night, Sylar can see the dark cloud of ash that spreads towards to them and he knows that long after the flames have died, the soot will leave them marked. He knows that they will breathe it in and be black from the inside out, tainted in a way that none can see nor cleanse.
There’s the faint impression of a kiss on his neck; Mohinder’s fingers trace down his forearm to tangle with his. And when Mohinder gently pulls him back from the window, Sylar’s eyes still see the dancing flames, a bright yellow-white glow just out of reach that follows Mohinder’s retreating form like the dying halo of a fallen angel.
He holds Mohinder’s hand tighter and lets himself be led deeper into the darkness.
Their bed is nothing more than a narrow pallet on the floor. Peter lies, half-asleep, in the twisted sheets, an empty space beside him where Mohinder’s body should be. He sits up and reaches for Sylar’s other hand. Together, they guide Sylar down.
Under the thin sheet, it’s hot, hot enough that Sylar’s skin begins to prickle, a sheen of sweat slicking the way where their bodies press together. Each kiss, each lick, each bite and nip and press of lips is a brand that burns his skin. The air is thick, so thick, with the smell of smoke and the scent of sex that clings to them, but still Sylar gulps it down even as it leaves him scorched.
It isn’t love and it’s barely comfort. Peter’s spit-wet fingers work inside him while Mohinder’s mouth wraps around his cock; they punish him with pleasure that isn’t his to take.
With every touch they tear him down until there’s nothing left.
And when he comes, Sylar makes no sound, suffocated by the heat that presses all around him and burns his lungs. Mohinder’s lips press to his, salty-slick with semen and Peter’s body curls behind him. Between them, they’re all that keeps the ashes of who Sylar is from being blown away in the hot, dry air that curls through this barren world they’ve made.
Peter’s fingers brush over his cheeks, the dry rasp of skin over stubble loud, and he catches Sylar’s tears when they begin to fall.
I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
– Revelation 22:13