Shona (toestastegood) wrote,
Shona
toestastegood

The Illusion of Life - Heroes - Mohinder/Sylar

Title: The Illusion of Life
Pairing: Mohinder/Sylar
Word Count: 6628
Rating: R
Warnings: dub-con, general creepiness
A/N: This is set in a 'Five Years Gone' style AU, and was inspired by the novel 'Remainder' by Tom McCarthy and 25fluffyfics 'dancing' prompt, but it quickly veered in a different direction. Also using varietypack100's 'diamond' prompt.
Summary: President Petrelli always gets what he wants.




Sitting in front of Sylar in the White House, with guards in black suits on either side, Mohinder looks like an exotic and dangerous trinket. His eyes blaze with barely restrained fury behind thin-wired glasses that Sylar hasn't seen before: his anger is as beautiful as ever.

"President Petrelli, I—"

"Nathan," Sylar murmurs. It's a name that he's still getting used to but it's his now. He owns it just as he possesses the last owner's job and life and identity. "Call me Nathan."

"Fine, Nathan, I really have to object to this. Your men walked in on one of my lectures: my students have to be wondering what on earth is going on. I was escorted out by police officers… With all due respect, I have to hope that there's a reasonable explanation."

"You think I'd bring you here without one?" Sylar asks – wanting to see him once more is a 'reasonable explanation', is it not? Judging from the righteous anger painted on Mohinder's face, it isn't. Sylar sighs and wonders when life will become easy for them. Mohinder should bend easily to his will, a blade of grass in a hurricane, and yet he's always fought every step of the way since he discovered Zane Taylor's true fate. It's as infuriating as it is enchanting.

"At the moment, yes," Mohinder says, leaning back in his seat. There's liquid grace in his movements right along with the jerky anger of his words. Sylar can't stop watching: he doesn't think he'll be able to let him leave either. "Convince me otherwise."

"You're a leading scientist in the field of meta-genetics, aren't you?" he asks, jumping to his cover story and it's so easy. It's like Mohinder actually wants to be fooled once more. "Is it really so surprising that, considering today's issues, I'd want to contact you?"

"Considering today's issues, no, but considering how we parted— I don't think this is appropriate, Nathan."

'How we parted'

Damn. Sylar keeps his face carefully neutral as he studies Mohinder silently. Mohinder doesn't fidget or look away. Instead he meets Sylar's – Nathan's – gaze with a defiant ease. His hands are folded in a mild-mannered and gentle way in his lap, but there's nothing soft about his eyes. They belong fully to the man that once was perfectly willing to strap him down and torture him. Beautiful. Utterly beautiful, like a poisonous insect.

"That's in the past," Sylar clips out, trying not to let his mind stray to these facts he doesn't know. He'll have Parkman retrieve them for him later. "This is the future – I need you to work for me, Mohinder. Here, where I can keep an eye on you." His phrasing causes Mohinder's eyebrows to rise, but he doesn't take it back or alter it. He's the President now, revered and praised. He can say whatever he wants. "You'll have all the funding and help you could ever need."

Mohinder looks away, out of the window to stare at the green trees outside. The position bares his neck, clean and unmarked: if the guards weren't in the room with them, Sylar's sure he wouldn't have been able to restrain himself from marking it. "I have work and funding back home, Nathan. I'm sorry, but I don't need your help."

"This isn't an offer, Mohinder," Sylar says. His voice bristles with gentle menace. "You're going to do this. You're going to stay here. You're going to work for me. There's no other option."

His words bring Mohinder's fierce gaze back to him, and Mohinder starts to stand up until Parkman's heavy hand on his shoulder pushes him back down. From afar it looks like a kind gesture, a gentle one, but Sylar can just imagine the demanding force that runs down his arm. He watches Mohinder's jaw clench and his mind whirl. "You can't keep me here against my will."

"I'm hoping I won't have to." Sylar leans forward, willing Mohinder to agree. "This is an amazing opportunity, Mohinder. You can make progress here – you can change the world."

He wants that, doesn't he? Mohinder wants to pin down his science and change everything for the better. His soul sparkles with naïve idealism. "Nathan, I…"

"Then it's decided; you're staying." Sylar smiles, that politician's smile that he's worked so hard on. Mohinder frowns at him but it's alright. He'll come around eventually. "I already have a lab and living quarters set up for you. Parkman, take him to them."

Parkman nods and his orders are followed without question. Mohinder's heated anger still radiates from him quietly, subtly, simmering constantly, but he'll calm down given time. Sylar knows he will, because he wants it.

And the President always gets what he wants.

*


Mohinder works and Sylar watches. Invisibility has even more benefits than one would imagine: he sits at the back of Mohinder's lab and observes him as he works late into the night. The concerned, concentrated twist to Mohinder's face is a triumph of nature: Sylar's sure it says something wonderful about the power of evolution and the beauty of Darwin.

He fades into visibility as Mohinder peers into a microscope. The other workers went home hours ago but Mohinder's still there, the very definition of a workaholic. A white lab coat drifts over his form and he idly holds a pair of safety goggles in his hands – he looks more like a scientist now than he ever did when he and Zane were racing around the country together.

"You seem tired," Sylar says – Nathan's voice drifts from his lips so easily.

Mohinder's shoulders tense and he glances behind him to find the esteemed President Petrelli watching him. Sylar expects him to relax but he doesn't, not at all. "You startled me," Mohinder says. He sounds like a sulking teenager.

"Sorry." Sylar thinks that's the first time he's had to say that in years. "I just slipped in the back, didn't want to disturb you."

"Well, you did." Mohinder turns to watch Sylar fully. His eyes are so alert now behind his glasses: alert and closed off, so far from the freedom and trust that had been there when Sylar first met him. He suspects that he is partly to blame for robbing those qualities from him. "Is there anything you want, Nathan? I'm busy."

"You're tired," Sylar counters. He hates to see the weary exhaustion in Mohinder's movements and the dark rings that hide under his eyes. "You need to sleep."

"No." Mohinder shakes his head. "I'll sleep once I've finished this damn research for you."

Sylar smirks. "That could take years."

"Then I won't sleep for years."

"Even you can't do that," Sylar says as he moves forward. Mohinder's dark eyes track him carefully, examining every movement. "Go to bed, Mohinder. Your research will still be here in the morning."

The defiance still burns in Mohinder's eyes, growing stronger and stronger as Sylar approaches. "Nathan, I—"

"Please," Sylar says. His hand reaches to brush over Mohinder's cheek. Stubble grates over his skin like worn-down sandpaper. Mohinder's skin seems incredibly hot, like that inner fire is reaching the outside. "I'm worried about you."

It seems as if his simple touch has tamed Mohinder for now as easily as a horse whisperer. His brow creases and confusion takes over but he nods. "I'll sleep," he says. "If that's what you want."

"That's what I want," Sylar confirms: he wants to be there too, he wants to lie in bed with him and hold him gently, he wants to slip deep into Mohinder's life and take root, he wants to own him and claim him and mark him – and eventually he'll ensure that he gets all of those things.

For now, this is enough. Mohinder nods and takes a step away, Sylar's hand falling from his face back to his side. "Very well. Good night, Nathan."

"Good night," Sylar replies as he watches Mohinder leave. He gives him a five second head-start then he once more fades from sight and follows: Mohinder sleeps peacefully in a way that would make even a log jealous. If Sylar didn't know better he'd say Mohinder is a mutant too: it takes something special to look adorable even while snoring.

*


Working in the White House is hard, with speeches and decisions to make almost constantly – Sylar tires of it quickly, but he won't release his chokehold on power. Instead he looks to Mohinder as an antidote to monotony. The man seems to belong to his work and his lab now, a state of affairs that makes Sylar's skin prickle. That ownership should belong to no one but him.

It's slow work getting past Mohinder's defences. It was so much easier the last time around, when Mohinder had taken to Zane instantly. Mohinder's learnt his lesson from that experience and the tragedies that followed it. Now he's made the game harder.

Sylar's never wanted to back down from a challenge. He goes to Mohinder's lab at the end of each day and verbally prods and pokes him towards bed. Sometimes, when he's lucky, Mohinder will smile at him. Sometimes, when he's incredibly lucky, Mohinder will laugh and Sylar will imagine that the sound has drifted down from heaven.

Sometimes, when he's unlucky, Mohinder will frown and scowl and ask why 'Nathan' is keeping him here.

Sylar will never answer those questions and he has to hold back the temptation to hurt Mohinder to get him to stop asking. He could slam him against the wall, hit his head off the desk, or chuck one of his precious pieces of equipment at him until he could simply appreciate his luck at being here.

"Nathan," Mohinder says. His voice is as soft as freshly washed cotton but there's strength to it that says that this is going to be an unlucky day. "I've been here for three months now."

Three months, two weeks and two days, Sylar wants to correct him, but he holds back. There's no need to antagonise him further, despite how charming Mohinder looks when he's angry.

"And I still feel that I could be making a lot more progress back in India. I know people there. I have colleagues, friends, people I trust. I haven't been allowed to leave the building since I arrived here. It's not-"

Sylar cuts in: he doesn't want to think about those other people that Mohinder knows, that he thinks he needs. They're bullshit. They don't know anything – they don't care about Mohinder like he does. "I want you here," he states.

Mohinder shakes his head and this, Sylar thinks, is one thing that he'll never understand. Mohinder is purposefully oblivious to the world, hiding away in labs and science and genetics. "I don't understand why," he admits.

The adrenaline, the want, the need that has been building for years now pools in Sylar's stomach – Mohinder's naivety and lack of confidence must be faked, he's sure of it. It's impossible to look like him, to act like him, to think like him and not realise how perfect you are.

His fingers tingle and he's sick of waiting – sick of waiting, wanting and watching.

"Let me show you then," he whispers. He takes one step closer and his head bows. His lips – Nathan's lips – touch Mohinder's. He's demanding; he's forceful; he pushes all of his need and desire forward. His eyes fall close and Mohinder doesn't react but he's past caring. Mohinder may be standing there motionless but his mouth is warm and pliant as Sylar plunders it.

And then he moves.

Mohinder's breath catches and he moves, just slightly. It's unsure but it's enough. Sylar's fist grabs the front of Mohinder's white lab coat, holding on tightly so that Mohinder can't get away. He needs this. He has since Mohinder first showed up looking for Zane – and now, now he's going to get it.

Mohinder makes beautiful sounds for him, half-moans and whimpers as Sylar pushes him back, lifting him easily onto the lab bench. He stands between his legs and he can't stop this: addicted and devoted already to the taste of Mohinder's mouth and to chasing those noises.

He breaks away and his lips move to Mohinder's neck. He's needy and he's desperate but it's hidden behind the frantic onslaught. Mohinder's hand has tangled in the short hair at the back of his neck, holding him close as he bites down on tender skin: it's this moment that Sylar's been waiting for, the willing surrender to what he can offer.

"Nathan," Mohinder breathes as Sylar's hand pulls up his shirt to touch hidden, forbidden skin, "Nathan, I— Stop, please. I can't do this here."

Sylar grunts in annoyance, lips still pressed to Mohinder's skin. Vague plans of taking him here, surrounded by the research that Mohinder appears to treasure more than him, fade away reluctantly. He withdraws his hand and moves backwards, though it takes all his self-restraint not to hold Mohinder down and force him to want this. "Right," he murmurs, "Of course."

"I'm sorry," Mohinder says as he lowers himself from the bench. His feet land lightly on the ground but he doesn't let go of the surface behind him, as if he's using it to hold himself up. "I had no idea you… I didn't know you felt that way."

Sylar shrugs: he won't look at Mohinder now. If he does he'll lose control – Mohinder will be hurt and his cover will be ruined. Nathan Petrelli was not the sort of man that let his emotions or desires get the better of them, Sylar's convinced of that. Perhaps he'd simply watched too many political broadcasts before he'd finally taken this identity.

"I should go," he says.

"Yes," Mohinder agrees, "Perhaps you should." The pause after those words feels like a stake being driven into his heart, but the next set heals him again. "I'll see you tomorrow?"

Sylar smiles and looks up at him from under his lashes. "Yes. You will," he confirms.

He watches Mohinder pick up his notes and his books and leave the room with a bashful smile and a rushed goodnight: the world seems to be getting better every day.

*


Every moment that he gets the opportunity, Sylar pushes the boundaries. He places a hand on Mohinder's shoulder or his back or his waist. He stands too close and he smiles too much and when he gets the opportunity he breathes in the scent of Mohinder's hair.

And Mohinder—

Mohinder treats him to more of those smiles. He seems embarrassed by the attention and often ducks his head when he feels Sylar watching him too intently. He babbles too, words rushing out about the progress of his research. His face lights up when he thinks of it: it's a joy to watch.

"… at first I thought I was just chasing shadows, but if you look at this," Mohinder says, pulling back to allow Sylar to look down at the papers and slides he's collected, "It proves it. More or less. I mean, there's still so far to go but I think I'm getting somewhere. Eventually I'll maybe even—"

"Come out with me," Sylar says. He loves to listen to Mohinder talk but he's fed up of this laboratory. He needs to see Mohinder out in the open air again.

"Excuse me?"

"On a date. Dinner. Tonight. I'll take you somewhere nice."

Mohinder looks at him, completely perplexed. A curl of black hair has fallen forward to hang over his forehead but he ignores it. Behind the safety of his glasses, he blinks and looks down. "I- I'm not quite sure what to say."

"'Yes' would be a start."

Mohinder shifts and glances to the door, looking for answers that he won't find. His blood samples and microscopes won't be able to help him assess this situation. "Well… Yes. Alright," he says, flustered.

Sylar smiles – a predator's smile, a tiger about to pounce. "Good," he murmurs as he nods, "I'll pick you up at eight."

He leaves before Mohinder can try to argue with him: now he needs to figure out how the President of the United States can find a small and homey restaurant at this time of day.

*


Parkman is a genius, Sylar decides as he watches Mohinder over the flickering of candlelight. In just a few hours he's managed to rent this place out, clear it of customers, pay the owners and set up the security that he feels is required. It should feel odd to be attempting to charm Mohinder as stern-faced men stand at the exit of the restaurant, but it feels more right and natural than anything has in a long time.

Candles and flowers and red table cloths adorn their surroundings – a loud crash from the kitchen indicates that the nervous chef's hands aren't as steady as they normally are, but Sylar's gaze never leaves Mohinder's face.

And they talk.

Mohinder talks and Sylar listens; he can't find the right words himself, but Mohinder is able to speak with an easy grace. It's been a long, long time since Sylar was on a date. His memories of dates are awkward affairs: stilted conversation and rushed fumbles in the backseat of a car. This isn't like that. Mohinder isn't like that. Sylar isn't like that, not any more.

The red wine that they drink has the desired effect, until Mohinder's smile is looser and his self-control is weakened, just enough. Sylar wants to take him home and slowly undo the buttons on his shirt. He'd force himself to take his time: he'd go carefully and listen as Mohinder's heart sped up and his breath stuttered desperately.

He can imagine it so clearly: it takes him some time to snap out of the daydream when Mohinder calls his – Nathan's – name. "I'm sorry," Mohinder says, looking down to his napkin. He plays with the edges of it absently. "I'm boring you. I have a tendency to talk too much."

"No," Sylar says. "I love listening to you speak."

Mohinder frowns and Sylar hates that: he hates that Mohinder can't take anything at face-value any more, and that when he's given a compliment he'll react like it's some kind of bomb. "I… Thank you, Nathan."

"I mean it. You're amazing."

The waitress saves Mohinder from having to answer, appearing beside them with their desserts. Mohinder smiles graciously and thanks her like she's rescued him from drowning. Sylar only allows himself to scowl when Mohinder's attention is elsewhere.

When the food is gone and the plates are cleared and the bill is paid – he could've had Parkman take care of it before hand, but there's something more empowering about knowing he's just personally bought Mohinder's food – and the night is over, Sylar doesn't want to move. He wants to buy this restaurant and make sure that the night never ends.

"It's been a pleasure," Mohinder says as he stands and places his jacket on. Two men linger close-by already, ready to escort him back to his government-funded living quarters: regardless of how nicely they dress it up, Sylar knows that Mohinder's being returned to a prison.

He no longer cares, if that's what it takes to keep him near-by. This is what's best for Mohinder. One day he'll realise that too. "We should do it again sometime," Sylar says as he steps closer – and he doesn't mean 'should', he means 'will'.

"Of course," Mohinder agrees. He ducks his head and looks at the ground, but Sylar's curled finger under his chin coaxes him to look up again. Sylar moves down to kiss him: he can't resist and he doesn't want to.

Mohinder's lips taste enticingly like the ice cream they shared and it's difficult not to lose control once more. The guards are looking away and Parkman purposefully avoids looking at them, but Sylar doubts if even they'll be able to pretend not to see if he tries to take it any further in this tidy little restaurant.

He pulls back, his thumb swiping over Mohinder's lower lip for a split-second. "Goodnight," he murmurs.

"Goodnight, Nathan," Mohinder says as he leaves with his bodyguards, his captors, his imprisoners. They'll be gentle with him, Sylar has given them those orders, but it still pains him to let Mohinder go with those strangers.

Parkman shuffles beside him; Sylar can sense his professionalism and appreciates that no questions are asked. "Did that go as you expected, sir?" he asks.

Sylar nods. "Better."

"Good. Shall I arrange another?"

"Yes," Sylar says. He has work to do and 'policies' to construct and a country to run, but this, this, will be what keeps him going. This will be his little shelter, his quiet hobby, in the centre of his life as his plans progress. "For Friday."

"Consider it done."

Sylar does.

*


He takes Mohinder to movies, to the theatre, on picnics, to more restaurants, and once to a funfair. Anything that he can think of to make them smile – anything that Parkman suggests.

Mohinder doesn't ask to leave as often any more. Sometimes Sylar will even allow him to phone his friends back in India or his mother. The conversations are heavily monitored by his security but Mohinder never once appeals for help. Maybe he no longer wants it, or maybe he's simply resigned himself to his fate as the White House's resident scientist. There are worse fates, Sylar knows that. He's inflicted a lot of them.

He watches him in his lab when he gets the chance, hidden from visibility and able to observe Mohinder at his most vulnerable – but he's so busy now. The terrorists are rising, are regrouping, are gaining hope. He hides the news from Mohinder: hope is dangerous. Hope is something that he cannot afford to let his enemies have.

He allows Parkman to carry out more raids. The deaths are numerous, unavoidable, and perhaps he feels a stab of guilt for them: the sensation passes quickly.

He watches Mohinder as hundreds die in the outside world.

He watches Mohinder and he smiles.

*


"Mohinder," he says as they walk back through the corridors. His hand holds Mohinder's and refuses to let go, but if Mohinder minds then it doesn't register on his face any more. He seems used to it. He seems used to everything.

Mohinder glances towards him, eyebrows raised curiously. His mind had been elsewhere and there's something about that that makes Sylar's blood boil: he wants to destroy all science, all genetics, all DNA, just so that he can ensure that Mohinder's attention is on him at all times.

"Mm?"

"I've been thinking," Sylar continues, "I want you to come and stay with me."

"I already stay with you," Mohinder says. Perhaps there's a wistful, resigned sigh in his voice as he thinks of India – his work, his friends, his life, left behind and long gone now. "I'm just down the hall."

"That's not enough." It's not, it could never be. "I want you in my room. In my bed."

He's used to it now, to Mohinder numbly nodding and submitting to his will. He's used to getting what he wants, but it always feels so, so good. "If that's what you want…" Mohinder agrees.

Sylar squeezes his hand, happiness blooming on his face.

That night, Mohinder lies in bed beside him. He mutters in his sleep and sweat lines his forehead; when he awakes he's terrified, gasping for air. It takes Sylar too long to comfort him again. He holds a trembling man in his arms and his mind goes blank. He loves Mohinder, he knows he does, but to find the man he worships suddenly broken into pieces in his bed isn't something he is ready to react to.

He hushes him and strokes his hand through his hair, fixing it where it sticks to his forehead in sweaty clumps and rings. He whispers caring phrases and he promises the world until Mohinder's breathing begins to calm.

"Thank you," Mohinder whispers back in the dark as he looks up at him. "I just- I need to go home, Nathan. I need to get away, I need to—"

– and this time it's Mohinder kissing him, hesitant but needy and sickened with his hands still shaking. This time Mohinder crawls into his lap, loose-limbed and graceful, and this time Mohinder pushes him back against the bed. His mouth still tastes faintly of toothpaste but Sylar clings to him and won't let go, not for the world.

He can't believe how easily everything has fallen into place.

It takes clumsy manoeuvring to get them ready, to get Mohinder on his hands and knees and Sylar positioned behind him; this is how he wants it, this is how it is meant to be. It's just one further submission from Mohinder, just final evidence that he truly does own this vibrant person now.

They grunt as they move and sweat-slicked skin slaps together. Sylar moves with swift jerks, because he's waited…

God, he's waited so long for this and all it took was a nightmare to have everything he wants handed over. "Fuck," he grunts as he thrusts forward. It's tight and it's beautiful and it's perfect, everything he expected.

Afterwards Mohinder rolls over and doesn't talk to him, still shaking and broken.

For now Sylar doesn't care.

*


"I thought that was what you wanted," Mohinder snaps, breaking the silence. They sit together at opposite ends of Sylar's couch, but Mohinder won't look at him. "I thought you'd let me go if I just…"

"You thought I'd lose interest if you finally let me fuck you?" Sylar asks – he enjoys the flinch that accompanies his words. Good, let him flinch. Let him flinch and cringe and hide if he thinks that Sylar is that shallow, that easily satisfied. "This isn't lust, Mohinder."

"Don't, Nathan, don't—"

"It's love." The word echoes in the room like a struck tuning fork. Mohinder still won't look at him. "I love you."

"You don't."

"I do. Don't argue."

Mohinder falls silent with an angry puff of air out his nose. The fury radiates from him so strongly that Sylar's sure he could warm his hands from it. He shifts along the couch towards him, towards that fire, towards that heat. "Last night was special – it was the start of something. You realise that, don't you?" He has to, surely. He has to know that he can't let Sylar have one taste, one sample, and then take everything away again. It doesn't work like that. It never has.

"I realise that your presidency appears to have rotted your mind, yes." Mohinder clips out the words with all the authority of a pissed off librarian.

Sylar smiles indulgently. "I get what I want now, Mohinder. I'm finally getting what I want." That's all that matters. Everyone else's wishes and desires are secondary to his own. "You'd better be in my room tonight."

"What happens if I'm not?"

Sylar's smile bares his teeth and he wonders if he wants that: he wonders if he wants Mohinder to push too far, so that he can unleash his wrath. "You don't want to know," he says.

The threat works: that night when Sylar finally comes to rest, Mohinder is already asleep on the left side of the bed. He crawls in next to him and kisses his forehead before turning out the light. This is his family now.

This is home.

*


The months pass and winter crawls around with uncharacteristic speed. Sylar watches the snow drift past the window with Mohinder by his side. "I love the snow," Mohinder says as he watches it. "It always seems so innocent. Fresh."

Sylar glances over to him and chooses not to hear the tortured pain in his voice. "Let's go outside," he says. "I bet you look beautiful in it."

Mohinder doesn't duck his head anymore and he doesn't blush: the onslaught of praise seems to fall on deaf, unbelieving ears, as he gives one numb nod. "Thank you," he murmurs.

You're welcome, teeters on the edge of his tongue but he pulls it back and grabs Mohinder's wrist instead. "Let's go."

He's right, of course. Mohinder comes to life as the first snow flake lands in his black hair. His eyes widen and he smiles, so brightly, like the sun has come to join them. Sylar wants to protect that smile, that happiness, but he has no idea how to. It's the one thing he wants that he can't get.

*


He's waited a long time for this, Sylar reminds himself as he runs his finger over the edge of the small box in his pocket. So long – it's been nearly a year since he first asked that Mohinder was brought here, and so long waiting even before he'd managed to seize Nathan's identity. It's time. Finally.

Mohinder's eyes have tracked him carefully all evening, seeming to sense that he's planning something. He's smart like that, always has been. The light from the candles reflects in his glasses; Sylar can feel butterflies in his stomach, impossible to ignore.

He needs to get this over with, and there's really nothing to feel nervous about. Regardless of Mohinder's reaction, they'll be going through with this. Sylar wants it – but he also wants Mohinder to smile when he asks. He's taken them back here, to this restaurant they went on their first night. He thinks that's a romantic gesture but the table cloths are green now and it's a different waitress serving them: it's not the same, not like it should be.

Mohinder doesn't talk as much as he did on that first night. Instead he eats quietly as Sylar watches. "How's your research going?" Sylar asks, knowing that that will probably prompt an excited outpour of chatter about things he doesn't understand.

Mohinder shrugs. "Well enough," he says, and the silence falls again.

Sylar holds tightly onto his cutlery to try and ground himself: he tells himself that shaking Mohinder won't help to fix things and that hitting him will make it worse. The temptation still boils through his blood but he strokes his finger over the box in his pocket and he calms again.

"Mohinder, I've been thinking," he says. Mohinder looks up to him, suspicion back in his eyes now. "I want to take this forward – we should take the next step. I think it's time."

Mohinder frowns, confusion painted prettily on his face, but comprehension dawns as Sylar pulls the box from his pocket and places it on the table between them. It's small and black – when he opens it with one finger there's no doubting what's inside. The ring is delicate, made of thin white gold, and a single clear diamond is embedded in the metal. He'd considered something more extravagant but Parkman had suggested that perhaps Mohinder valued subtlety more than he did.

"Marry me," he says, and it's not a question.

"Nathan, I…" Mohinder shakes his head, and that's not the right answer. He stares at the ring like it's a shackle waiting to drag him down. "I don't-"

"You're going to." He has to. There's no choice in this, not for him. Mohinder is part of the happily ever after world that Sylar is creating; he needs to be there, by Sylar's side, at all times.

He takes Mohinder's hand, limp and unresisting, and places the ring on his finger. The diamond catches the light from the candles and sparkles like there's magic within it. Sylar smiles and Mohinder stays neutral; Sylar tells himself that Mohinder's reaction doesn't matter. The ring is there. That's all that counts.

*


There are plans to be made and venues to be arranged and guests to invite, but Sylar makes sure to rush through the arrangements: it has to be perfect but it has to be fast. Mohinder seems to break apart a little bit more each day.

Two months later, the day before the wedding, Mohinder stands in the doorway. He's as stunning a presence as ever, but his time here has taken its toll. He seems malnourished despite Sylar's attempts to make sure he gets the best possible diet and he hasn't been sleeping properly: he doesn't sleep at all any more unless Sylar slips sedatives into his food. It's a cruel, blunt method but it works. Sometimes Mohinder needs to be forcibly looked after even if he doesn't realise it.

He stands in the doorway, staring at Sylar for long moments before he speaks. "You're marrying me tomorrow," he says. "You're really going to go through with it, aren't you?"

"Of course I am," Sylar confirms distractedly. He has documents to sign and in half an hour he has to get ready to give his latest rousing speech. As pleasurable as Mohinder's company is, he doesn't have time for this now.

"I was going to leave," Mohinder admits. "I was going to try to escape. I memorised the security codes and I stole blueprints and I tried to make deals with the guards." Sylar silently decides to have any of the people working near Mohinder killed. "But- You'd find me again, wouldn't you? If I left, you would just track me down and bring me back."

"Yes."

"Then I'm stuck here for as long as you want me to be."

"Exactly," Sylar says, glad that he's finally starting to understand. Once understanding has arrived, acceptance will eventually follow.

"Very well. Is Molly Walker safe?"

"She's a terrorist."

"So I hear – but can you promise me that no harm will come to her if I stay here?"

Sylar smirks because he hears a deal in the making: at heart, Molly isn't as dangerous as Petrelli or Nakamura. She's a child still, even if she's trying to play in an adult world. Leaving her alone and offering her hidden protection isn't much of a compromise in exchange for Mohinder's cooperation. "That'd make you happy?" he asks, because that's really the most important thing in this deal.

"It would help," Mohinder confirms.

Sylar nods. "Alright. I'll give Parkman the instructions today."

Parkman. The degree to which Sylar is forced to depend on him grates, but he has no choice: the man is a telepath. It's vital that he keeps him close at hand.

Mohinder backs away from the door. "Thank you," he murmurs before he leaves Sylar alone.

*


The wedding ceremony goes exactly as Sylar wants it to. Mohinder won't look at him when he slips the ring onto his finger, but he doesn't flinch away and he intones the vows when he's told to. It's a small wedding – as small as the president can get away with – and it seems to pass too quickly. He wishes that he could slow it down, perhaps rewind the best moments, but in no time at all they're at the wedding reception with soft music playing around them.

Mohinder's palm is sweaty when Sylar leads him to the floor and holds him close. He can feel the heavy thumping of his heart against his chest as they sway softly; their first dance, with many more to come if Sylar gets his way – which he will, he's sure of that much. Mohinder stays passive in his arms and doesn't look up, doesn't do anything.

Sylar stares at Mohinder's hand and the gold band around his finger. He hardly pays attention as the music changes and other couples gradually drift around to join them. They stay locked in their own bubble world, together and safe for eternity.

He brushes his lips against Mohinder's temple, leading the dance as Mohinder falls easily into step. They go through the movements as if it's been rehearsed a thousand times over.

"I can't wait to get you alone," Sylar whispers in his ear, "Professor Petrelli."

It's the wrong name, but it still marks Mohinder as his. It still places his thumbprint on him and demands that nobody else touches him. It's enough.

Mohinder gives a mockery of a smile and nods. "Tonight," he whispers. "Tonight."

*


"I hate flying," Mohinder mutters as he looks out of the window of their private jet. Sylar decides not to take it as a personal insult against his ability.

*


They stay in a hotel a few minutes away from the beach. Security is relaxed, just enough to let them enjoy themselves, but Parkman stays nearby and the Haitian is forever on call. It should be relaxing – and it is, when he showers with Mohinder and when they eat together and when he gets to hold him close and pretend that the rest of the world doesn't exist.

Everything's perfect, until the night before they leave.

He wakes up with a hand over his mouth and a knife pressed against his throat and, yeah, that's his perfection ruined – because it's Mohinder that's crouched over him holding the handle there. There's a spark back in his eyes while his beautiful anger burns, but all that Sylar can focus on is the blade.

"Mohinder," he says levelly once the hand has been moved from his mouth. There's nothing to fear: he knows that Mohinder won't truly hurt him, otherwise he would have done it as he was sleeping. "You should think about what you're doing."

"I already have," Mohinder hisses. "I've had a year to do nothing but think about this."

"That's not—"

"Show yourself. I know you're not really Nathan Petrelli. Show me who you really are."

Sylar meets his eyes and he can't admit to it. He can't: he's already broken Mohinder far too much, he won't take the last step. "You won't like it," he says.

"I already know it's you, Sylar. Just confirm it for me." Sylar. It's been so long since that name was directed at him; a pleasured shiver runs down his spine to hear it spilled from Mohinder's lips. So angry, so passionate. "Do it," Mohinder snaps as he presses the knife down just enough to show he's serious.

He's not, he can't be, Sylar doesn't believe that he has it in him any more, but he closes his eyes and the illusion slips away. It's like shedding a suit at the end of a work day; the tension leaves his shoulders instantly.

Mohinder stares in the dusky light of their hotel room, horror painted on his face as if he didn't believe it, as if he didn't really believe it until this moment. It's nice to know he still has the ability to shock a wearied soul. "Oh god," Mohinder murmurs, but the knife never moves.

"I think you should go back to sleep now," Sylar soothes. "I won't hold this against you; we can just forget all about it."

"I don't want to. Molly found me, Sylar. She found my lab weeks ago and Hiro, he— and I'm— We're leaving tonight. I just have to-" He looks to the blade in his hand as his words falter. "And they're going to get me away from here."

"You won't get away with it," Sylar says neutrally. Mohinder's many things, but he's not an assassin. "You'd never be able to stop running – do you really want to reduce yourself to little more than another terrorist?"

"I don't have a choice." There's something that might be sympathy in Mohinder's eyes. Sympathy, compassion… If Sylar wants to, he can convince himself that it's love. "I'm sorry. I am so sorry it has to be like this."

Mohinder lowers himself to gently kiss Sylar's forehead; the last thing Sylar feels before the blood starts to spill are those gentle lips and a soft offer of forgiveness.

Tags: fanfic:heroes, pairing:mohinder/sylar
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