At first, I was going to write a “missing scenes” fic like everyone else, but I enjoy Sylar and Claire's interactions so much and I had this little conversation bouncing around in my head for days! I had to write it down!
Beta-ed by the lovely notferretkun
“Hey.” Claire took off her oversized sunglasses and smiled weakly at the disheveled Peter who opened the door.
“Claire!” her uncle wrapped one arm around Claire's shoulders and pulled her into both a hug and the apartment, closing the door behind them. Once they were inside he grabbed both her shoulders and kissed her forehead gently.
“God, it's so good to see you.” Peter said, “I was worried.”
“I'm fine.” Claire made a face like she was trying to laugh and waved him off, “Dad got me out of there pretty quick. We're kind of “half hiding” or whatever.”
Noah had her holed up in hotel room, but had agreed to a tentative appointment with a reporter who seemed discrete. She was not supposed to call Gretchen, or even leave the room, but she had to talk to Peter. He was the one person who's advice was always free of personal vendetta, and who she could actually explain herself to and feel unjudged.
“That's a scary thing you did, he's bound to be protective.” Peter released her and loped into the living area. Claire let out the breath she had been holding and smiled as she watched him pick up, slinging dirty clothes into the crook of his arm and kicking magazines under the couch.
“Please. Sit.” he gestured towards the now free sofa, “Would you like anything? I'll go get something...From the kitchen...”
“Uh, sure.” Claire raised an eyebrow at him as she sat down.
“Anything in particu-” Peter was cut off mid sentence by resounding footsteps and a familiar voice.
“Peter, you don't have any food in your kitchen. What do you eat?”
Claire and Peter both turned to stare wide-eyed at Sylar, who had just come out of the kitchen holding a jar of olives and wearing a quizzical expression.
“Oh.” Gabriel said softly. “Claire. How are you?”
“What the HELL is he DOING HERE?!” the blonde sprang from her seat, body going into what might be a fighting stance, though Peter wasn't sure what she planned to do.
“Now let's hold on.” he said diplomatically, standing between the sad-eyed ex-villan and the cheerleader with a grudge, “He helped Emma, remember? He's on our side.”
“'Our side,' Peter?” Claire scoffed, “Don't be ridiculous. He's a murderer! He killed my father! Your brother!
How can you just let that slide?!”
“A lot has happened since then, Claire.” Peter took a step closer, putting a hand on her shoulder and peering into her eyes imploringly, “Please just...let me explain.”
Peter watched her, head tilted to the side, eyes cautious. He waited until her face was less panicky, until her anger went back to the place where it always lay, smoldering, but not longer a flame. She both hated and loved him for this, her stupid, brave, beautiful, selfless, empathic uncle. He didn't always know what was best, but he had always tried to do right by her. She took a couple deep breaths and calmed herself down.
“I know this must be strange for you, Claire...” Gabriel began, in a voice that was no doubt meant to pacify her, but only brought to mind dozens of bad memories.
“What do you know?! You don't know!” Claire shrugged off Peter's touch and walked around the coffee table to stand right in front of Sylar, “This isn't the first time you've tried to be good, and it's not the first time you'll fail, either. You. Are. Evil.”
“You were the one who said my powers made me this way.” Sylar leaned towards Claire, to set the olives down on the coffee table, and she backed into it reflexively. There was a split second when he was in her space, threatening her, before he backed off, contorting his face into a kind of pained determination.
To Sylar, to Gabriel, to the person he was or was becoming, it seemed that Claire should be his friend. It was written in ink, and so fate, if you believed in that kind of thing. And how could he not, after all they'd been through?
“I'll figure it out, you know.” He said calmly, “It all lies in the brain, and I should be able to use my power as easily to figure out my own mind as I could for someone else.”
“Great. Then why don't we crack open that skull of yours and we'll poke around a bit?”
Peter had a brief moment to wish he had never used his inheritance to accessorize his apartment, before Claire had grabbed up a ceramic vase and smashed Sylar over the head with it.
“Gabriel!” Peter exclaimed, taking a step forward then remembering (yet again) that none of them could get hurt, “Claire! There's no reason for this.”
“Yes there is.” Sylar said darkly.
Claire let out a shriek as Sylar's hand curled around her ankle and he used it to take her legs out from under her. She fell on the floor. Hard. But before Peter could do anything about it, he found himself pressed up against his living room wall by Sylar's telekinesis. All he could do was watch as Sylar took up the half of the vase that was still intact and returned Claire's earlier gesture.
“You son of a bitch!” Peter cried, struggling against his invisible bounds, even though he knew it was no use. How could he be so blind?! All those years! All those...moments. “Dammit!”
Sylar stood over Claire's body and watched her heal effectively. He smirked in appreciation as she wiped her hair out of her face and all but growled in rage at him. The formidable man took half a step back, waiting to see what the cheerleader would do. No reason to initiate more violence if it wasn't necessary. He was, after all, trying to be a good guy here.
“I knew it.” Claire spat as she brought herself to her feet, “You're a psychopath. How long did you think you'd be able to keep this up before something like this happened?”
“I wasn't sure.” he answered honestly, “I was hoping longer.”
“Gabriel, think about what you're doing.” Peter wriggled, writhed, and Sylar tried not to be distracted by the little movements.
“Oh, I am, Peter.” Sylar replied, sounding more confident than he felt, “This is the only way.”
“What could you possibly...”
Once again, Peter was unable to finish his sentence, as there were more important things going on. Claire grabbed the end of the coffee table, flipped it over and at Sylar's head, but it halted an inch away from touching his skin.
“You're going to have to do better than that, Claire.” Sylar smiled. He liked their little chats, he and Claire. Both of them so yearned to be understood, but fought so hard to make sure they couldn't be. They would be great friends.
He aimed the coffee table at Claire and let it fly. The wood splintered ever so slightly as it hit her square in the gut. She was impaled, almost cut in two, on the wall between the living room and kitchen. She screamed, but it was in rage, not pain. Sylar watched as she shoved as hard as she could at the furniture trapping her, and considered that perhaps trapping her so soon had not been the best idea.
“You son of a bitch! You bastard! How could you?! How could you?!” Peter was still struggling like it was going to make a difference.
“How long have we known each other, Peter?” Gabriel asked, trying to sound both serious and cocky.
Sylar reached forward with his right hand and tore the table away with his power. But he was reckless, and its trajectory was pointed right at Peter. The moderately petite man cringed, shut his eyes, knowing he would heal since he had recently touched Claire, but still not looking forward to the assault. At the last moment, Gabriel flicked his wrist and the blood-soaked wood smashed on the floor instead.
Peter gasped, looked up, watched Claire slide the two inches to the ground as she re-knit herself. She had not even completely healed when she grabbed a piece of the broken coffee table and ran at Sylar, stabbing him in the heart with it.
“That's better.” Gabriel gasped out, staggering back ever so slightly before pulling what turned out to be one of the legs of the coffee table out of his chest.
Claire wasn't done. Before Gabriel had a chance to heal she had grabbed Peter's DVD player off the entertainment center and was bashing him in the head with it. Sylar fell to the ground, raising a hand up to protect his face instinctively. Claire had no such instinct, so when he stabbed her in the eye with the table leg, she wasn't ready for it.
“Consider that payback for the pencil incident.”
Peter tried to make sense what was going on in his living room. There stood Sylar/Gabriel, stance wide, face light. He wasn't advancing, though. It seemed like the twisted person was waiting for Claire to act before he went any further. Claire, for her part, was yanking the splintered wood out of her eye and panting as she waited for it to heal.
“Payback?!” Claire screeched, “You're the one who forced yourself on me! Took Gretchen!”
Peter didn't even get a chance to begin his sentence this time before Gabriel was answering.
“First of all, I never took Gretchen, only her bag.” he said calmly, “And secondly: Oh boohoo! Poor little lesbian had to kiss a boy!
It's not like a raped you.”
“You forced me down. I couldn't get away! I didn't know it was only going to be a kiss,” she ran at him mid sentence, fists raised in a classic fighting style, “you son of a bitch!”
The punch landed, and Peter realized, finally, that Sylar had meant it to. Peter relaxed in his invisible restraint, and watched as Gabriel fell backwards with Claire atop him, the tiny girl raining punches on his comely face. The blonde was breaking knuckles with every punch, using her other hand to punch him again while that one healed, over and over again. Gabriel had stopped fighting, he just lay there, letting Claire ruin his face. Soon her grunts of rage turned into sobs, and her punches became less forceful and more like she was simply shoving his jaw from side to side. In a last futile move, Claire slapped Sylar bloody face and shoved herself off of him, clearing a path through the debris to the couch, which she leaned against as she sobbed.
Gabriel sat up slowly and wiped his face, but too much blood had already dried for it to really make a difference. When he looked up at Peter, the empath's eyes were kind, if not entirely unconfused. Slowly, he was lowered to the ground so that he was on his feet, Gabriel only hoped the gesture would be appreciated.
Peter, for his part, was doing his best not to think about the kissing, or mentions of homosexuality, and instead was just trying to decide who he should comfort first. Gabriel stood, and both he and Peter turned to look where Claire was staining the couch, sobbing and wiping blood and snot all over the place.
“What happened?” she finally gasped, turning to Peter, “Why do you trust him?”
Peter looked at Gabriel, then at Claire and leaned down to stroke her hair.
“We spent time together.” Peter said stupidly, “I can't explain it, but I know he means well.”
Claire looked into her uncles eyes, disbelieving.
“I spent some time busting down walls.” Gabriel said with a small smile. He reached out his hand to her, as if to help her up. Claire just stared at it, and him, like he was crazy.
“I've seen the error of my ways, Claire.” the watchmaker (sorry, restorer of timepieces) said without retracting his hand, “I spent a lot of time with Peter without having my powers. I learned to be a human being without them. I can never truly die for the crimes I have committed, but luckily you can kill me as many times as you like to make up for the pain I've caused you.
“I had a lot of time by myself. Alone with my sins and my notions of what me and my future is supposed to be. I figured out that we should just consider our powers to be a part of a longer list of traits, like loyal and good skin.”
“You do have good skin.” Claire parroted wryly.
Gabriel smiled and moved his hand ever so slightly forward, re-initiating the gesture. Claire stared at the hand for a few very long moments, and Peter held his breath, watching.
It was like a miracle; Claire slipped her petite hand into Sylar much larger one and he pulled her to her feet. They stood there for a few moments,
Then Claire hit him in the face with her elbow. Sylar reared back at the blow, but when he turned back to face them he was wearing a smile.
“You're just like your uncle. Elbows of steel.”
“I still don't trust you.” Claire said vigilantly, but she didn't try to attack him again.
“Don't worry Claire, I expect to have to earn that.”
Peter beamed at Gabriel, not being able to remember ever feeling so proud. Well, perhaps with Nathan's successes, but that was a can of worms he didn't want to open in his subconscious right now. Instead he gazed at the bigger man and wished he could pull him into a tight hug. Maybe his methods were a little bit questionable, but he was trying to do good. And, though Peter himself could never imagine intentionally hurting Claire, both she and Gabriel were basically immortal, and Peter could see how being hurt might not hold the same connotations to them as it did to his sentimental soul.
“Do you mind if I use your phone,” Claire asked almost shyly. “I need to call Gretchen.”
“No problem.” Peter smiled.
Claire picked her way across the demolished living room and finally found the phone. Peter and Sylar watched her dial with her blood encrusted fingers and make her way into the kitchen for a more private conversation. As soon as she was out of the room, Gabriel began using his telekinesis to do away with the bulk of the mess they had made. Peter held out his hand and received the power as well, and the two of them kept busy in silence for a few moments.
“Peter. Say something.” Gabriel finally pleaded, pushing everything into a corner with invisible hands and moving to stand closer to the other man.
“I don't know what you expect me to say, Sylar.”
Gabriel flinched at the sound of his alias, sad eyes looking down at the bloodstains beneath his feet. It was unspoken between them that which name Peter chose mattered. In the years they had spent together, Peter had at first only used the name Gabriel in mocking. But slowly he had begun to use it like a pet name, when he approved or wanted to show the slightest bit of affection. He spat the word “Sylar” but the way he said “Gabriel” could be like a gentle caress.
“I was only trying to let her get her anger out.” Gabriel plopped down on the couch and sighed, gazing up at Peter like a child getting reprimanded.
“And you couldn't have warned me?” Peter wasn't really angry, but he wasn't ready to let his pride slip away without a little bit of a fight, “You had to trap me with your powers? Taunt Claire with...secrets?”
“Yes.” Gabriel replied flatly, “How else could she be angry enough? She wasn't going to hurt me with you standing there unless I taunted her, and she wasn't going to do a damn thing if she thought it's what I wanted her to do.”
It was Peter's turn to sigh and sit down on the sofa. He ran a hand through his hair and then turned to Gabriel with a small smile.
“I think it was good for her, but...you really scared me.”
“Scared you?” Gabriel looked appalled, “Peter, you didn't think...How could you think I would change so quickly? I thought you'd...”
“Forgiven you?” Peter blinked slowly and look deep into Gabriel's eyes, “I have. Somehow, I have.”
Peter suddenly found himself wrapped in the strong arms of Gabriel Gray, and he returned the hug because he had wanted it too. They sat there for some moments, just holding each other. Peter could feel Gabriel's breath against his neck and their heartbeats so close together. He hated himself for forgiving him, hated himself for enjoying the hug just a little too much. Peter didn't want to think about what they had done inside Sylar's mind. He had told himself at the time that it was just because they were the only two people. Men have needs, and when they acted out those twisted little fantasies while locked away it was no more than that: filling a need. But the closeness, the real closeness, he still yearned for it. All the women in New York City (and the men, for that matter) couldn't fill that place he now had in his heart for Gabriel.
They parted when they heard the phone beep as Claire hung up. She was just as bloody as she had been when she left, and it made Peter realize that he must be too, clinging to Gabriel like he had been.
“How is she?” Sylar asked conversationally.
“Good, I...” Claire swallowed, frowned, the rolled her eyes and started over, “My dad wouldn't let me call her. He took away my cell phone. She was worried because she saw the news and I had her car and...it's all a big mess.”
“She's not angry, is she?” Peter asked.
“No, just worried.” Claire sighed, “We kind of fought before I left, and now I'm afraid she won't want to be my...She won't want to be around me now that I'm famous.”
“She loves you Claire.” Gabriel said with a smile.
There was an extended silence as Claire searched Sylar's face, like she was trying to find a hidden piece of it she hadn't seen before.
“I hate to ask again, but...” she gestured down the front of her body. Everything she was wearing had turned that nasty rust color and she had holes ripped too big to be really decent.
“Shower and clothes.” Peter finished easily, standing and walking towards the bedroom, “I'll see if I can find something of mine that might fit you.”
Claire stayed where she was, going back to staring at Sylar once more.
“You love him?” she asked, and Gabriel was clearly startled by the question.
“What a strange question, Claire.”
“That's not an answer.”
“You have your subtext, I'll have mine.”
Claire actually smirked at that, and for once, didn't say another word. This is just my little take on the whole situation. I know there's not really as much petlar as most would probably prefer, but it's what my muse gave me. I might write a sequel with some actual smex if anyone really wants one.