Gabe was certain it was much too frigid for any man living as he hugged his bare arms to his chest and willed the snow to stop falling. Nothing happened, of course, so Gabe just kept on walking, as quickly as his gawky frame would carry him. He listened to the cars speeding by, the people noises in nearby buildings and on nearby street-corners. He decided then that he would give everything to be any one of them. Gabe was tiring of being thrown out, but perhaps it was a blessing of sorts. He didn't want to think about it anymore, so he focused once more on the daunting task of placing his left foot in front of his right.

A rustling noise penetrated his senses and Gabe spun around. There was nothing. He was in that part of town that every city has--the part where no one travels alone at night. Gabe was already regretting his choice of taking this route. He walked backward in an attempt to keep his wits about him. He caught a glimpse of something moving in a narrow alley, and that was enough. He turned to run but, unfortunately, hadn't bothered to look before he did so, and collided with a large city dumpster, immediately losing consciousness.

When he came to, Gabe went about trying to stand only to find himself rather abruptly brought back down on his back. He hissed, flexing his arms only to find they were bound to a headboard. Moving his legs, Gabe discovered that they were free and confirmed that he was on a large, soft bed. He meant to call out, but that same movement from the alley caught his eye and his breath hitched.

"It was necessary to restrain you," a deep, but strangely articulate voice sounded from the darkness. "How is your head?"

Gabe disregarded the man's question, trying to make out his features in the dark. Then he felt something cool touch his lips, and upon moving them experimentally he discovered it to be a small drinking glass. The stranger tipped the cup so that Gabe could drink. He swallowed the harsh tap water greedily and the cup was taken away. The man's form retreated into the shadows once more.

Gabe just laid there, utterly alone in the black silence. He began wiggling his wrists around, at first because they were falling asleep. He wasn't quite sure what to make of his predicament as he wasn't certain he was in any danger as of yet. Then he thought, Why am I waiting? I am tied to a strange person's bed! and began struggling furiously with his bonds. Surprisingly enough, they weren't very tight, and soon his left restraint was loose enough for him to get his hand through. He heard the man returning, however, so he stilled, allowing his left hand to hang in the rope.

As the hooded figure reentered the room Gabe felt his whole body tense. He suddenly felt very cold, and with some subtle wiggling and shivering he realized that he had been stripped down to his underwear. He murmured something incoherent, his voice trembling.

"Say again?" his captor asked softly.

Gabe swallowed rather loudly, feeling little beads of sweat slide down his forehead. He wondered idly if he should make a run for it, but decided against it as he didn't know whether this man was armed or not, and the apartment was much too dark to navigate. An apartment? Where did that come from? Cold realization struck that Gabe really had no idea where he was or who he was with, or what this stranger's intentions were.

"What do you want?" he suddenly demanded, his fourteen-year-old voice attempted a strong tone, but settled for audible if squeaky. The figure loomed, suddenly very close, and Gabe tried not to flinch. The man's face became visible, as did his vivid burn scars. Gabe felt sick, but also fascinated by the pale, dead flesh. He stared unabashedly, taking in the man's strong features through the gruesome scar tissue. His left eye socket seemed to droop, obscuring his vision, and there was a large section of flesh hanging from his right cheek. Gabe shuddered, and it wasn't from the cold.

"You are beautiful," came that rumbly tenor as his equitably-scarred right hand came up to cup Gabe's cheek. The boy twitched away sharply.

"Don't say that," Gabe pleaded, looking anywhere but the stranger's face. He felt the contact disappear, but before he could breathe a sigh of relief the hand came back down as a harsh blow across his face. He could feel his skin raise and redden at the abuse, and he smelt the metallic pang of his own blood before he registered the pain. Reflexively, he drew his tongue across his lip to assess the damage and prevent the liquid from falling, but before he could gather it up another tongue collided with his, a large hand gripping the back of his head to just the wrong side of painful. He remained perfectly still, unreacting as his mouth was licked swollen and bitten bloody. Gabe screwed his eyes shut and pretended he was elsewhere.

When the man clambered up on the bed to settle himself on Gabe's hips, however, reality became sharp and painfully, well, real. He began to cry involuntarily. Shallow, shuddering, silent bursts of air coming out as tears tracked down his face. Fight back, said that voice that he had never listened to. He could not fight back because he was weak and scared and so horribly deserved this.

Gabe felt a hardness pressing into his thigh, and it took him a moment to realize what it was. He suddenly felt very ill. The man began rubbing his chest with those repulsive digits in tender, almost-comforting circles. Gabe forced his eyes to his abuser's face and saw not lust, or anger, but something much more disturbing: love.

"Do I know you?" Gabe choked out, distracting the stranger from seeing his left hand slip out of the loosened tie.

An unreadable emotion flickered over the man's eyes, and suddenly he was removing his pants. Gabe forced himself not to look away. He seemed to struggle with the enclosure on his pants for ages. It was like torture.

"Why are you doing this to me?" Had he really said that aloud?

"It is nothing you do not want," the man hissed, placing his palm over Gabe's lips, and discarding his pants one-handed. Gabe suddenly felt very angry. He didn't get angry, no matter what his father called him or how hard his mother hit him, or how useless his sister made him feel. But he was livid at the disgusting suggestion of him wanting this… this creature. He reared back and bit the scarred flesh, hard. The man yelped, pulling his hand back and shaking it. It was bleeding. Gabe found a sick sort of pride in that. The man started to strangle him and he panicked, kneeing his attacker in the groin and flipping around to free his right hand.

Before he could do so, however, the man had pinned him on his stomach, gripping his hips to the point of bruising. He was forced down on his elbows, his right hand painfully stretched above his head. He felt the man's fingers hook their way underneath his boxers and begin to peel them away. Gabe swallowed the bile that rose in his throat.

And then, without any more pretence, that filthy man thrust all the way into Gabe. It threatened the young man's resolve, but he refused to give this monster the satisfaction of his cries. Those revolting fingers were stuffing their way inside his mouth, thrusting in time with his hips. Gabe pretended, yet again, that he wasn't there.

"You fucking faggot!" Robert was drunk again, and Gabriel was confused. "Some fucking son you are!" A beer bottle came glancing by Gabriel's head, to smash and send glass and liquid into the child's face. A jagged edge came up to glide across his eyebrow. The cut wasn't deep. Gabriel convinced himself it didn't hurt at all, and just stared at his father, dumbstruck. Rachel was coming, he could hear her footsteps.

"Why don't you ever listenGabriel?" And that was the last thing he remembered before waking up on his sister's bed. His sister was fifteen, he was eleven.

"You fuck everything up, Gabby," Gwen cried in ragged, teenaged soprano. Gabriel flinched. How he hated it when she called him that. It made him sick. "No wonder Mom and Dad hate you." She was always like that, utterly unforgiving.

Gabe snapped out of his memory and back into his even-worse reality. The man was now gripping Gabe's penis and was running his hand idly up and down it. His body was betraying him with its reaction to this repulsive creature. And then Gabe was sick, violently, and all over the man's headboard.

The hulking figure came inside Gabe. He was sobbing and this so-sick man was untying his hand, turning him around to bury the young boy's head in his chest. Gabe pushed against him, struggling to get free, but the older man held him fast; Gabe whimpered.

Fight! the voice reiterated insistently; Gabe threw the man off of him, feeling possessed. The man stayed in a half-crouch position on the floor, looking perplexed. Gabe quickly flew to the front of… whatever this series of rooms was. He groped around in the dark and found a counter. He heard the man in the other room and he started searching for something, anything along the edge. Bing-o. His clothes. He quickly threw on his jeans and tee-shirt, and out of curiosity continued to search for something, anything really. What he found wasa pack of cigarettes and a matchbook.

Gabe heard the man stirring and quickly pocketed the items, eyes casting about in the blackness to find a weapon. He heard a small pop and focused in on the sound. A fireplace. The makeshift fire was nearly out as he sidled up to it. He knew the man would be coming for him soon. Gabe found the wrought iron poker leant up against the wall by the limited glow of the waning embers. He took a deep breath and picked it up, raising it above his head and allowing it to rest on his shoulder. He threw a few practice swings, trying to get his courage. There was a loud crash and then a groan. Gabe was sweating.

The stranger staggered through the darkness, making out Gabe's lithe form by the fire. He approached slowly, but he never saw the hot iron bar clutched in the teen's fists. Gabe closed his eyes and swung, letting motion take the place of thought. The follow-through of the swing, the dull and yet deafening crack as the metal struck the man's skull—Gabe didn't register any of it. The poker slid from his hands; he was shaking.

He wasn't sure what he was doing, but then he was pulling cigarettes out of his pocket and lighting them, one after the other after the other. It took half the matchbook to light them all and it made Gabe's head spin. He took each lit cigarette in hand gingerly and, fishing rubber bands out of his pocket, attached matches to the circumference of each. He lit about five of them and dropped them onto the prone form at his feet; he didn't dare look. Gabe proceeded to throw cigarettes and lit matches into each room until he smelled the first sign of fire coming from that dark bedroom. He ran through the blaze and past the scarred man, who was twitching and crying out in his unconsciousness.

Gabe cringed, and quickly fled the burning structure, taking the matches and remaining cigarettes with him. How did I think of that? Gabe wondered, running barefoot through the woods. Woods? Where the hell am I? He heard the familiar rushing of cars and followed it, as fast as he could manage. He hit a spot of the city he recognized and realized that where he had been was just a shack off the highway, and he wasn't even all that far from home.

That isn't your home anymore, that voice demanded inside his head.

Who are you?! Gabe had to know, once and for all.

I am your conscience. The smirk was audible. It disturbed Gabriel that he was not only having an internal monologue, but now the other half of it was smiling. But you can call me SYLAR.

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"Are you Dr. Suresh?" An all-too eager youth answered the door. It was all Sylar could do not to cringe. Wait, Dr. Suresh? Where had he heard that name before? A large grin had spread itself across his face before he could think to control it.

"Why yes," he said cheerfully. "Yes, I am. Can I come in?"

And then Zane Taylor, punk extraordinaire, was showing him his miraculous toaster-melting skills with wide eyes that begged for approval. Sylar feigned interest, wishing he had found someone with a much cooler ability. But, perhaps, metal-melting could serve him well after all. He would have to ponder it for a while.

"That's amazing, Mr. Taylor!" Sylar exclaimed, widening his eyes in faux amazement. If he thinks I'm Mohinder Suresh then all I have to do is pretend to be him and… Zane's grin was bigger than his face. This time Sylar winced.

"You can call me Zane!" The young man beamed, tugging self-consciously on his Ramones tee-shirt.

"Alright, Zane," Sylar said with gritted teeth. "Why don't we sit and talk a while?" He gestured to the couch as he sat down.

Zane soon joined him eagerly. Everything the youth did was eager. It bothered the hell out of him.

"Who are The Ramones?" Sylar asked, honestly having no idea. Gabriel Gray was more of a classical music man himself, and Sylar… Sylar had no use for music.

"Only the guys who started punk rock, Dr. Suresh!" Zane cried, mock-offended. "They were revolutionists. They were the death of hippies in America. They marked a new era." Zane's eyes went all glassy as he described "the best band in the world" as if it were some profound, religious concept. Sylar suppressed a roll of his eyes.

"That sounds… awesome, Zane. You may call me Mohinder, you know." And there was the Gabriel Gray™ warm smile, putting people right at ease. Zane smiled, and told him anything and everything he wanted to know. This is just too easy. "Zane... have you heard of the man they call Sylar?" Zane narrowed his eyes, a small frown gracing his features. Sylar couldn't quite push down Gabriel's thought that the man looked cute that way.

"He's that murderer," Zane recounted slowly. "From the news."

"That's right, Zane," Sylar answered, in a way that could really only be construed as patronizing. "But what they don't say on the news, Zane, is that he's not just a serial killer." Zane leaned closer to him on the sofa, making Sylar squirm just a little bit. "He kills your kind, Zane. The people with the genetic marker you possess."

"Are you trying to scare me or something?" Zane paled.

"Of course not, Mr. Taylor, to the contrary. I wish to lend you my protection," Sylar said, chuckling warmly.

"What are you saying exactly?" Zane furrowed his brow in confusion. Sylar sighed exasperatedly, rubbing his temples in slow circles. This man is thicker than concrete, he thought. Gabriel identified with Zane, but this was beginning to wear on Sylar's nerves. Sylar smirked.

And with that he had Zane against a wall, hearing his delicate screams as he cut through the young man's scull precisely, exposing his precious grey matter. Zane was not half as gratifying as his other kills, and for that Sylar allowed himself a bit of time to mope. He had lost control there, towards the end. He had allowed Gabriel too close and he snapped.

He carefully peeled Zane's clothes away, trying to be detached. How could he be with Gabriel so near the surface? He worked as quickly as he could, placing his clothes on Zane carefully so that if, for any reason, he had to return to the kitchen he would not be taken by one of Gabriel's inconvenient urges to vomit. He gave a small shudder, moving about the house in an attempt to learn more about Zane Taylor. He was going to become him, after all.

In Zane's bedroom he found a myriad of picture frames placed all about the room: on the walls, on the tables and bureau, under his bed, even in the drawers. Zane must have cared for a great many people. Either that or they must have cared for Zane. Sylar picked up each and every picture, delving deep into the mind of Zane, lover of punk music. Then he came across a rather interesting photograph. Oh no.

There was a knock at the door; it was show time. Sylar ran down the stairs, stopping before the door to muss his hair briefly. He flung the door open, grin busting out the sides of his face.

"Hello, I am Doctor Mohinder Suresh."

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Gabriel remembered the first time his father had introduced him to timepieces. It was his earliest memory, but it was clear as quartz.

"Do you see how the cogs interlock, Gabriel?" Robert asked, tapping the insides of a table clock gingerly. Gabriel could only nod. Robert continued, "Each piece of the clock's inner workings is like a person. We are all connected, but some of the cogs are much more important than the rest. Sure, every cog has its place, but some cogs actually cause the clock to function, and others merely push the process along." His three year old brain seemed to reel from the implications of this seemingly innocent speech about clock mechanics. Even at three, Gabriel understood.

"Am I an important cog?" He had to know, staring up at his father in earnest. Robert only laughed.

"Oh, Gabriel," his father said warmly, back when there were such times, and ruffled his son's hair lightly. It had become a nervous tick of his ever since.

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Sylar froze, taking in the doctor inch by inch, devouring his delicacy with his intent-filled stare. Bouncing ebony curls, strategically-placed stubble, warmly laughing brown eyes. Always laughing. Laughing at us? Sylar ran a hand through his hair, a well-ingrained Gabrielism by now. One he did not even hate himself for it was so automatic. As he peered down at the geneticist, he realized he was carrying his height in a way that could be construed as arrogant. The picture of Zane in his pocket seemed heavy, and he allowed it to weight him down, bringing his shoulders into a half-hunch.

Eyes darting and fingers twitching, Sylar invited Mohinder inside. The Indian flashed an easy smile, arm brushing Sylar's casually as he stepped past him.

"Would you like to see what I can do?" Sylar asked in a half-whisper, excitement reverberating through every muscle, ligament and tendon.

Mohinder was even more ecstatic, having waited for this for months. Someone had returned his call and invited him into their home. He was going to have data and a test subject and damn was he ever ready for the second step of his mission to commence. He beheld Sylar melting a kitchen appliance in awe akin to that which the killer had feigned earlier.

"That's incredible, Mr. Taylor," Mohinder related breathlessly.

"Call me Zane." Sylar smiled wolfishly, and if his expression was bordering on overexcitement the good doctor said nothing.

"Call me Mohinder," the geneticist returned euphoniously, blinding Sylar with his instant trust.

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The tiny clock fell, shattering on impact. He crumpled at the small tinkling sound it produced. Gabriel couldn't breathe.

Gabriel ran a hand through his unruly locks, looking up at Robert expectantly as he so often did. The older man was trying to be patient with the child; he was his only son after all. He carefully deconstructed the wristwatch he had been working on, and it became Gabriel's special project.

"Father, what does 'Sylar' mean?" Gabriel asked, wide-eyed and innocent. Robert had scowled, tiring of this game.

"It doesn't mean anything," he admonished. "It's just a name."

Sylar.

"Gabriel Sylar." The words passed his lips before they had any right to.

My name is Sylar.

"I can fix you," he promised. He remembered how it felt to wield the poker as he picked up the crystal. He took in the sight before him, Brian looking so afraid. The young man could see what was coming, but he didn't really fight, and Gabriel enjoyed the telekinetic's screams even as he denied what he had done.

"Sylar," he hissed, testing the word on his tongue. "Sylar," he said again, with more confidence. The lump that was once Brian Davis made a small noise. Gabriel flinched, lowering the makeshift weapon.

I am an important cog. I will be special.

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Sylar grinned at the bloodied iPod, wondering how he was going to explain Zane's sudden affinity for rap music. He didn't much care, he conceded, humming to himself as he practically bounced his way back to the hotel. He whistled, placing his hand on the door and jamming his key into the lock. He heard the soft takataccatakakataca like hammering through the thick walls. Sylar rubbed at his temples, Mohinder's heartbeat raising in pitch to blend and mesh with the sounds of furious typing. Zane sighed, taking the key out of the lock and slipping it into Sylar's pocket. He turned to instead knock on Mohinder's door.

Sylar could hear the scientist's smile through the door, and Zane grinned right back.

"Zane, is that you?" Mohinder asked blearily, groping around for the doorknob. He didn't wait for Sylar's answer however, pushing the door open and leaning against the doorframe. Neither man's brightness waned, even as the seconds ticked without a word between them.

"I couldn't sleep," Sylar said suddenly, shattering the silence. Mohinder gestured to the small pull-out couch.

"Want some tea?" the Indian man asked jovially as the kettle went off in the tiny kitchen space. Zane nodded eagerly, sitting down to wait for Mohinder to return.

He's going to find out,Gabriel warned.

Not before I get the list, Sylar said contrarily, a terse smile imprinted on the thought.

"Thank you," he said aloud, taking the mug from Mohinder. Sylar hated how close the other man always seemed to be. Their thighs were nearly flush as they sipped their green tea in silence.

"Nightmare?" Mohinder ventured, raising his eyebrows questioningly. He put his cup down on the adjacent table, crossing his legs so he was turned towards Sylar. Every ounce of him sung of a sincerity Sylar had never known. He was so genuine it almost pained the murderer.

"What?" Zane started, teacup shaking for dramatic effect. Sylar put the cup down next to Mohinder's, reaching across the shorter man's lap to do so. Their eyes locked for sluggish seconds in which Zane and Mohinder forged a secret pact. Sylar wanted in, but he knew he never could be.

"Did you have a nightmare?" Mohinder's evenly clipped voice cut through Sylar's ear canal devastatingly. "Is that why you couldn't sleep?" he clarified.

"I'm afraid," Zane said in a small voice, mostly Gabriel. And then he was being held by the tender man beside him; Sylar just barely fought off the urge to push away.

Disgusting, mused Sylar as Zane's arms came up to rest lightly on the scientist's back.

Comforting, Gabriel countered when Mohinder squeezed him close, rubbing in soothing circles.

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Gabriel tinkered with the insides of an antique grandfather clock. It wasn't broken but it was a beautiful piece. The nineteen year old sighed, pushing around the cogs without purpose.

The small chime on the Gray & Sons door went off and Gabriel's eyes snapped upward. A dark-haired man strode in, smiling at Gabriel easily.

"W-welcome to G-Gray and sons…" Gabriel stuttered, readjusting his glasses.

The man had strong features and a rather pronounced nose. He wore tweed and stood gawkily, thin as a rail but not nearly as tall. His hair was shortly clipped, but one or two dark curls spilled across the man's forehead, giving his countenance as a whole a soft appearance.

"Can I help you?" Gabriel asked suddenly, jerking himself out of his reverie.

"Ah, yes, I've come to see if my watch is repairable." The man's thick eyebrows furrowed thoughtfully, brown eyes sparkling. He drew out a tarnished silver pocket watch, laying it on a case tenderly.

Gabriel's breath hitched as he leaned toward the timepiece, fingers ghosting over its exterior.

"Well? Are you going to open it up?" The man's tone was bemused.

Gabriel started, blushing and quickly looking down at his shoes. He bit his lip and looked into the man's calm irises. With the utmost care, the youth pulled the watch from the glass and placed the metal against his ear. It was still ticking, but the noise was distorted, uneven.

"I can fix it," Gabriel whispered, taking the back of the watch off with precision and ease. Gabriel loved the insides of clocks, even the unmoving ones. The parts all clicked together perfectly, each having a specific duty to carry out. He smiled wanly to himself as the lean stranger left his father's shop.

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Mohinder rang the doorbell to the small cape. It was a cute house with its natural siding and green-tinted roof. It couldn't have been older than ten years and it was set in the middle of a beautiful property. Flowing hills and babbling brooks could be seen along its landscape from the large bay windows placed strategically throughout the small home. Gabriel smiled at its quaintness. Zane and Sylar were nearly bursting with excitement.

A pale man with short curly hair and bright brown eyes answered the door, quirking a small smile at the two men.

"Dr. Mohinder Suresh, I presume," he said, shaking Mohinder's hand. The Indian was positively glowing.

"Yes," he answered cheerfully, shaking back a little too vigorously. "This is my companion, Zane Taylor. He is special, like you." Mohinder beamed, his too-white teeth gleaming, catching the rays from the early morning sunshine.

Gabriel practically preened at the phrase. Mohinder thought he was special.

"Hello," Zane said amicably, opting to place a hand on the man's forearm briefly and squeeze it. He, too, smiled brilliantly. Sylar froze. The man with the pocket watch.

"Marion Feldman," he introduced, ushering Zane and Dr. Suresh inside.

Mr. Feldman was a rather boring Jewish accountant who just so happened to be able to turn things inside out. Sylar felt his stomach growing hotter as Feldman moved about his house, turning open anything in his wake—showing them his ability. Zane clapped lightly when one of the objects suffering this unfortunate fate was a small clock radio. Gabriel felt sick.

Mohinder took all the blood samples and data he needed, but he always needed more. Sylar and Mohinder were the same in that way, Gabriel thought.

"Would you mind terribly meeting with us one more day?" Mohinder asked, turning the charm on full power. Sylar visibly twitched. Mr. Feldman's smile widened.

"Of course!" he agreed, clapping Mohinder on the back. "You boys are welcome to stay here. Now that my kids have moved out it gets rather lonely." His expression turned melancholy in a flash.

Oh please, Sylar thought, rolling his eyes mentally.

"Oh, no," Zane declined. "We couldn't possibly take advantage—"

"—It's fine," Marion Feldman reassured, his smile once again sunny.

Marion pulled that silver piece out of his pocket, it still ticked like a charm. Zane peered over his shoulder, pretending to check the time and yawning pointedly.

Zane sighed, mumbling that he really had to get some rest, and climbed the stairs. Marion and Mohinder stayed awake talking and doing more tests for hours. Sylar paced, listening to every tightening muscle and change in heartbeat.

Sometime around 2 AM (who was he kidding? It was 1:53) Mohinder weaved exhaustedly up the staircase, and Sylar listened to his every breath until he could assure that the man in the next room was in deep REM. This was sometime after he had heard Marion settle into his bed on the floor below.

Sylar descended the staircase silently, solidifying his plan in his head. It was sketchy to him even, if he dared question it. Gabriel was praying furiously.

Our Father.

Sylar edged the door open, wincing as it squeaked.

Who art in Heaven.

Sylar tiptoed into the pale moonlight that illuminated the small bedroom.

Hallowed be thy name.

He gave a sigh, standing next to Feldman's sleeping form.

Thy Kingdom come.

Sylar brought his large hands up to the man's face, placing one behind the man's right ear and the other below his chin.

Thy Will be done.

He snapped his wrists jerkily, the cracking of bones echoing in his head.

On Earth as it is in Heaven.

Sylar traced the so-familiar incision across Mr. Feldman's forehead, barely clotting blood flowing like water down the dead face, frozen in sleep.

Give us this day our daily bread.

Sylar bit back a small moan as the skullcap was completely removed.

And forgive us our trespasses.

He crept back up the stairs, lips twitched upwards in the false pretences of a smirk. Sylar paused, staring at Mohinder's door. It was ajar; he felt a wave of cold panic wash over him.

As we forgive those who trespass against us.

Sylar slid into the room, letting out a sigh of relief when he saw Mohinder's still sleeping form. The Indian stirred and the window pane on the front door broke, scattering itself down Feldman's front hall.

And lead us not into temptation.

"Zane?" Mohinder asked sleepily, levering himself of the bed to approach Sylar. When he was standing mere inches from the other man, he frowned. "Are you okay?" The dark eyes were clouded with concern. How touching.

But deliver us from evil.

"Did you hear that?" the doctor asked, biting back a yawn. Sylar said nothing, but only stared, tracing patterns on his thigh with his fingertip nervously. Eventually, Zane shook his head. "Couldn't sleep again?" Mohinder asked, not waiting for a response before he gathered Zane into his arms carefully, embracing him briefly.

When the scientist pulled back, gazing into Zane's eyes worriedly, Gabriel pitched himself forward. Before Mohinder could bring his hands up to stop it, he brushed his lips against that dark mouth.

Amen.

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"Get out!" she screamed. The sound made Gabriel flinch, even more than the shove that ended with him on his stomach in the dirt. Gwyneth stood over him, hands on her lips. He groaned at the sharp kick that came, forcing the tiny Mary-Jane into his gut. Tears were streaming now, causing the red clay to stick to his face.

"I'm sorry," he whimpered. She stepped on his head and he heard a crack. The tears were coming harder now, racking his small body with loud sobs. "It was an accident!" Gabriel cried, picking his glasses up to inspect the damage.

She snorted derisively, giving another swift kick to Gabriel's abdomen. Gwyneth clacked away on her little-girl shoes, nose turned up in disgust.

He remembered how it felt, lying in the backyard face-down, when its life had left it. It was so exciting and there was that voice in his head, growing steadier every day. It told him what to do; placated him. When the voice said something he didn't think, he simply did and it was liberating.

Kill it, Gabriel, it had taunted, snakelike in his ear. Snap its little neck.

And Gabriel had, even as the rodent struggled. A little bit of blood foamed out of the rabbit's mouth but he didn't care. He had done it. He had been strong.

He had looked up into the steely eyes of Gwyneth Gray, and his breath had caught.

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Mohinder and Zane had prepared to go back to New York after Feldman's death. The Indian geneticist was extremely shaken up, but upon seeing the mess of broken glass and the man's injuries had surmised that Sylar was following them.

"Zane, we need to leave."

"Yeah," said the punk, shaking.

On the road, Zane called Emergency 911 from Mohinder's cell phone, just like when Sylar had killed Dale. Gabriel seriously considered that Sylar was trying to get caught.

A hand dropped on his shoulder and he jumped, surprised. Mohinder positively radiated concern, alarmed at Zane's reaction. Sylar smiled nervously, shooting Mohinder an apologetic look. The other man pulled the car over. Zane cocked his head questioningly.

"What's up?" he asked casually. Mohinder smiled softly at the steering wheel, still clutching it lightly.

"I…" Mohinder started, rubbing his face and looking anywhere but at Zane. The cell phone rang again and this time they both jumped.

"Hello?" Zane asked the tiny device, shaking it when nothing happened. It rang again. Mohinder laughed melodically, causing Sylar to scowl inwardly.

"Hello, this is Dr. Suresh," Mohinder said, pressing the green button that answered the call as he took the phone from Zane's limp fingers.

Mohinder was nodding, confirming the person on the other side of the line. Sylar could hear every word but began tuning them out after the accent-laden, "Hello, my name is Hiro Nakamura." He didn't feel like the headache, honestly, so he sunk down in his seat and glowered.

Mohinder and Zane didn't say a word the whole way back to the New York flat.

The second he walked through the door, Mohinder looked pained. But he threw his coat over the back of his computer chair and began scribbling "Hiro Nakamura; bends time and space" on a small post-it note. Sylar sidled up to him, grinning at the map.

"Can I do the honors?" Zane asked mock-majestically, going into a small bow. Mohinder smiled for the first time since the phone call, handing the post-it note up to the taller man.

Sylar half-stepped forward to place the post-it over "Isaac Mendez" in New York, then half-stepped back to admire the haphazard organization of the map, suppressing the urge to tear it down and pocket it. Instead he settled for scanning the map, filing away each and every name and location with the precision of the memory enhancement ability that he had freed from the carefree waitress in Texas.

Lost in memory, Sylar not so much heard Mohinder's heartbeat as felt it pick up pace. He exhaled heavily, turning to face the darker man. Mohinder leant forward, his eyes unsure but his flesh thrumming, begging for contact. Time seemed suspended, their lips millimeters from touching. Gabriel couldn't help but compare the moment to the crystalline stillness of Gray and Sons.

The door made a small clicking noise as it was opened from the outside. Sylar jolted himself back, moving away from Mohinder and adopting a defensive stance.

Since when is it defense? Gabriel laughed, but it was a hollow sound.

A short Japanese man stepped through the door, a painfully cheerful smile stretching his chubby features.

"Konnichiwa!" he exclaimed, causing Sylar's eyes to widen in horror. Why did people like this exist?

"Are you Hiro Nakamura?" Mohinder asked, the epitome of calm as he stretched his hand out to this odd character who had just barged into his home.

Not my home, Mohinder thought, sighing as Hiro nodded vigorously.

"Have a seat," he offered, waving Zane over to sit with him on the couch as Hiro plunked down on the ratty old chair across from them.

"Peter Petrelli sent me to you. Said you could help," Hiro related, expression becoming grave. Mohinder nodded, leaning forward to rest his wrists on his knees.

"Peter Petrelli…" Mohinder said softly, trying to recall when he had met him. Then it came back: the boy who claimed he could fly; the politician's brother. "And what is it that you need help with, Mr. Nakamura?" he asked the question carefully, hovering over each syllable before speaking it fully.

"New York is going to explode," Hiro said with more than a modicum of lucidity. Mohinder's eyebrow rose of its own accord, but he didn't interrupt, even as Hiro made an explosion noise with his mouth and threw up his arms to illustrate. He then, by force of habit, pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose and smiled. Was it a smile or just the natural state of his face? It was hard to be sure.

Sylar pinched his nose and strained his eyes; this man's impossibly loud heartbeat was giving him the most unpleasant migraine headache.

"Excuse me," Zane interjected, a little too heavily. "But what are your sources?"

"I do not understand," Hiro replied, blinking owlishly.

"I mean, how do you know New York is going to blow up?" Sylar was seething, so that every time breath escaped Hiro's lips he wished to strangle him that much more.

"I go to future," he explained matter-of-factly, accent blurring everything he said until it was barely recognizable as English. "I see explosion!"

"You could be wrong, you know." It's Zane who says it, but the patronizing tone is all Sylar.

Do you want him to stop you? Sylar twitched, seemingly at his own statement.

Shut up, Gabriel, Sylar warned, gnashing his teeth internally. This does not concern you.

Hiro frowned, his face clearly saying: "I'm not wrong; I can't be wrong" without him having to open his mouth. Sylar sighed exasperatedly.

Sylar felt that steadying hand once more fall to his shoulder. Zane mouthed "thank you" while Sylar's soul screamed "murder."

"I am special," Hiro stated after the long silence. "I come from Japan. Save the world." Zane stood, face flaming in fury. Mohinder's hand dropped away as his features were overtaken by a look of dismay.

"Yes," Mohinder said in a clipped tone, attempting to catch Zane's eyes. "You are, Mr. Nakamura."

"I am a hero," the Asian man reinforced, looking quite unsettled.

"What a delightful play on words," Sylar snarled, tilting his hip upward to reach into the pocket of Zane's jeans. As his fingers came into contact with the worn metal discs, the back of his hand clung to the stolen photograph so that as he pulled the change up and out the photograph flew into the air, unnoticed by Mohinder or himself.

The coins liquefied in his palm to sprinkle upon the thin carpet, splashing to form metallic pools on the floor. Hiro watched with barely-contained awe, filing the face-down photograph away to check while no one is looking.

"I am special, too, you see," Sylar said gruffly, staring at his shoes. Zane gave a defeated sigh.

"You are hero, too!" Hiro was just so excited all the time. "We save the world together!" he shouted cheerfully, pumping his arms up to the sky.

Then something inside Sylar snapped and suddenly he was standing, advancing towards the Japanese man in a way that could only be construed as menacing.

"Zane!" Mohinder called, stumbling to his feet to grab at Sylar's arm. Sylar half-turned, shrugging off the contact pointedly, meeting Mohinder's molten irises for a few sacred seconds. He caught the offending appendage and pulled it hard, drawing the shorter man flush against himself. They were both breathing a bit too loudly, heartbeats matched for pace. Sylar brought his other arm up to grasp Mohinder's chin, angling his face upwards to align it with his own.

Their lips touched and Sylar felt his control crack, just enough. He began moving his mouth over Mohinder's in a way that he was sure spelled sloppy inexperience, but slowly the scientist responded in kind, eyes sliding closed as he leant up to meet Sylar's advances.

Hiro smiled quietly to himself, holding Zane's photograph up in the limited light of the apartment. He sat up straight and crossed his legs, content to just watch the scene play out before him.

Zane wanted this; Gabriel needed this—any human contact really. Sylar though, Sylar needed to replicate the photo, as was his illness. He was obsessive; he had to be Zane Taylor up to the last inch. For that he needed Mohinder to want him back. He had that, he thought bemusedly as the Indian's free arm came up to caress his cheek, a deft tongue snaking its way into his mouth. Zane smiled into the kiss, bringing Mohinder's outstretched right arm across his chest to rest over Sylar's heart. There was something off, unsteady about the sporadic beat.

"Your heart's beating kind of fast," the mechanic said, furrowing her eyebrows at the musician. "You nervous about something?"

Mohinder's eyes flew open and then he was shoving the taller man away, suddenly infuriated. The man that he had so naïvely trusted, allowed to get under his defences... O god, had he seen the list? He had stood idly by while innocent people had been murdered. I'm sorry, Father. I have failed you again. Mohinder missed Sylar's briefly melancholy look, as occupied with his guilt as he was.

Hiro raised his eyebrows, not entirely sure what had transpired. He had a language barrier to contend with and was confused as to whether or not the doctor and the metal-melter were romantically involved. He felt the niggling sensation that something was amiss and so he made his way toward the dramatic scene.

"Zane?" he asked tentatively, stepping in between Mohinder and Sylar. "Dr. Mohinder? Are you O.K.?" His wide eyes looked to the geneticist expectantly, flickering to Sylar.

That's it, Sylar said definitively. He dies now.

Sylar moved so quickly, Mohinder didn't even see. He had Hiro suspended in the air away from him. Mohinder leapt at Sylar, knocking him away from Hiro. Taken by surprise, Sylar fell back. He barely stopped himself from having a nasty spill, breaking his telekinetic field and sending Hiro to the floor.

As he tried to get his balance Mohinder caught him roughly in the jaw with a square left hook, causing Sylar to grunt and rub his face as he righted himself. He bounced on the balls of his feet, shoving Mohinder back fluidly.

Sylar hated hand-to-hand combat. It was too personal, nearly intimate. Sylar had no use for it. Gabriel loved to fight. He was not a strong boy, by any stretch of the imagination, but he could throw a punch. How it exhilarated him, even as he spat his own blood out on the pavement. Sylar shuddered, disgusted. He was above this.

Mohinder motioned to Hiro frantically to the door as he finally regained his footing. At first he was confused, but slow realization of Dr. Mohinder's intention for him to run did come. He had gotten halfway through the apartment before he realized he would be abandoning the doctor, who had no abilities, to Sylar. The man who had killed his Charlie. Sylar's next push knocked Mohinder to the floor while Hiro screwed his eyes shut in concentration.

That familiar feeling of time tugged at the edges of his senses and Sylar was turning to him sluggishly, affected by not time stopping but rather time slowing down. Hiro had no time to try for better execution before planting himself in the middle of danger.

An eerily slow smile came across Sylar's features. Hiro did not have a well-thought out plan however, and as he grabbed Mohinder's arm he found himself propelled towards the ceiling, in slow-motion. He tried to stop time again, speed it up, back it up, anything. But try as he might, with his facial muscles clenching and relaxing, nothing would happen.

Mohinder started, his heart pounding fast. What had happened? His eyes automatically sought out Zane Sylar and drops of sticky wetness rained down in front of where Sylar stood, an indecent smirk fixed on his countenance. He followed the red rain up to the ceiling, and what he saw caused an instantaneous tremor of disturbance to rack his body, throwing him back into the wall, where he slid to shiver in a puddle on the ground. Mohinder would always hate himself for it, but he looked away as Sylar's latest victim screamed his final exhalation.

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Time is liquid; it flows. When time stops it doesn't so much stop moving as cease to flow. Caught in this state, every person down to the last stoic soul has every expression, every nuance of emotion splayed all over their frozen faces.

Sylar grinned, kneeling down to where Mohinder sat, curled in on himself. His head was turned to the side, eyes glittering with barely restrained tears. Sylar held out his hand curiously, tracing Mohinder's jaw line in the barest of touches. Mohinder was solid and still under his fingertips in sharp contrast to the softly rippling time around him. Sylar traced a pattern across Mohinder's cheek, laughing at the unmovable melancholy of the man.

Just do it, Gabriel cried. Don't play with him like this. Sylar chuckled, but complied, and time moved around them like a videotape in rewind.

And then everything was still once more, throwing Sylar into the flow. The room was spinning, but nothing was moving, and he felt like vomiting. Sylar glanced about, trying not to look too terribly out-of-place, and focused on catching his breath.

When the rushing blood in his head quieted enough that he could possibly get his senses in order another heartbeat permeated his eardrums. Mohinder. The geneticist placed a companionable hand on Zane's elbow, and stepped into his personal space. Sylar's head was reeling as he realized quite suddenly that Mohinder was leaning in for a kiss.

The door opened and he could have screamed. This time it wasn't Hiro (certainly reassuring), but the young Petrelli, the empath. Sylar quashed a grin as Mohinder nonchalantly moved away from him. He wondered idly if he could keep looping time and meet every hero on the planet as they strolled through Mohinder's door.

"Mohinder?" Peter called, turning to close the door behind himself. Mohinder was in full Dr. Suresh mode and already making his way toward Peter, leaving Zane to stare dumbly in his wake.

"Peter Petrelli," Mohinder's satiny voice greeted, eyes crinkling as he shook Peter's hand. "Nice to see you again."

Peter frowned, but didn't dispute the point. He put his hands in his jacket and made his way inside the apartment, standing in front of the place where Hiro had sat. Mohinder made an awkward gesture for Peter to sit, and moved to get the tea. Sylar started.

"I'll make it," he said cheerily to cover up his nerves, disappearing into the kitchen.

"Can you show me your flying ability?" Mohinder asked evenly, trying to displace his excitement. Peter shot him a look that sung of betrayal; Mohinder managed not to wince. And then, quite suddenly, Peter wasn't there. Mohinder let out a small breath he hadn't known he had been holding.

"No," Peter answered, reappearing. Mohinder paled.

"I thought you said you could fly," Mohinder protested.

"I did," Peter said obstinately. "But I can do other stuff, too."

Same. It's the same, suddenly burst into Peter's head and he closed his eyes, trying to judge why this stray thought so disturbed him. We're the same. You and I. These thoughts, Peter conjectured, had to be coming from the kitchen…

"Who is that man?" Peter asked with a bit too much alacrity. Mohinder looked alarmed. Peter dropped his voice a few decibels. "In your kitchen. Who is he?"

"Zane," Mohinder responded, smiling lightly as the man in question entered the room with a small tray. Sylar placed it on the rickety table and sat next to Mohinder, feeling a most eerie state of déjà vu wash over him. "Zane Taylor. His ability is liquefaction."

At Peter' s confounded expression, Mohinder laughed, getting up to find Zane something to melt. This left Sylar and Peter locked in an awkward staring contest.

We are the same, whistled through his head once more, and Peter found himself suppressing a shudder, trying to be subtle about burrowing into his coat slightly.

"Cold?" Zane inquired, quirking his head casually. Going to scream so pretty. Bleed, Petrelli-boy...

"No!" Peter said. Too much, Peter thought, squeezing his eyes shut tight. He took a shuddering breath, and flashed Zane an apologetic look. "No, I am fine thank you."

Just then, Mohinder returned with an out-dated toaster and the widest grin Zane had ever seen him wear. Sylar made the speech about Peter's clothes getting dirty and melted the toaster with practiced ease. Peter's eyes widened, watching intently as the appliance was broken down to its molecular level.

Zane grinned, and it was all teeth. Like the cheerleader did. Like the other one was supposed to.

"You bastard!" Peter cried, balling his fists and fighting his urge to stand. Mohinder looked alarmed.

"What are you talking about?" Zane asked, that same casual expression coming over Sylar's face once more.

That was it. That was all Peter could take. He was across the room with his hands around Sylar's throat in an instant. The killer twisted his face in what Peter supposed was his version of a smile. He waved an arm and Peter was sailing through the air to land feet-first into a book shelf, genetic texts going airborne as the boy's neck made a sickening crack as it made contact with the floor.

Mohinder looked from Peter's prone form to Sylar's rising one frantically, conflicted and twisted up on the inside. Before he could make it halfway to Peter he found himself in a similar situation as the empath, defying gravity and making peace with a far wall. On impact, he quickly slipped into unconsciousness.

Sylar crept silently toward Peter, squinting as the boy's body shimmered and then vanished into thin air. The empath appeared behind him, sending Sylar flying with a flick of his wrist. He threw out his telekinesis, stopping himself mid-throw and floating gently to the floor.

The former watch-repairer held out his hand, steely gaze fixing on Peter as a ball of ice formed at his fingertips. It elongated and sharpened itself before launching right for Peter's face. The younger man ducked and the shard entered the hollow in between his clavicle and shoulder.

Peter grunted, trying to grab hold of the foreign object, but it was too slippery. He couldn't heal. Sylar stalked over to him as he was preoccupied with the ice in his chest, and grabbed the front of his shirt. Peter was jerked up and off the ground, and all he could think in that moment, despite heavy denial, was his mantra of Nathan Nathan Nathan.

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Nathan paces the tiny room, counting seconds until the stripper loses it and shoots him in the head.

"Shutup shutup…" Niki whimpers, clutching her temple with one hand and waving the handgun around in vague patterns with the other.

You can't do this, Jessica growls. I'll only win out in the end. Give up, Nicole.

The blonde finds herself cringing at the name. Her sister used to call her that when she was angry. She tries to ignore the nearly-haughty 'I know' that pops into her head next.

Nathan is looking concernedThis is no ordinary stripper, is it? He groans. Why did Peter always have to be right?

"Alright, I give in," the politician sighs in a quite put-upon manner. "What can you do?"

Niki's face turns suddenly stony, her entire frame vibrating. She can feel Jessica surging to the fore, discarding her into some dank facet of their shared mindspace.

"I can kill you, pretty boy." Niki's eyes darken, voice deepening. She takes a heavy, heeled step toward Nathan, a calculating smile twitches at the corners of her mouth.

Jessica holds the revolver like the extension of her hand it is, and takes aim. Nathan is frozen to the spot. She squeezes the trigger without a moment's hesitation.

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Niki's face suddenly turned stony and her entire frame vibrated. She could feel Jessica surging to the fore, discarding her into some dank facet of their shared mindspace.

"I can kill you, pretty boy." Niki's eyes darkened, voice deepening. She took a heavy, heeled step toward Nathan, a calculated smile twitching at the corners of her mouth.

Nathan blinked. He couldn't help but feel he'd been there before. Suddenly a blur of hair and coat barrelled into him and he was hit almost violently with the scent of home.

"Peter?" he exclaimed, clutching the younger man almost bruisingly tight.

"Can't breathe, Nate," Peter heaved in a gulp of air, shoving Nathan as another shimmering entity flew through the air, this time landing on Peter. He nearly clattered to the ground, but Nathan kept him up, yanking him away from the figure.

"Pete, we need to get out of here," Nathan hissed, tugging at Peter's jacket sleeve. His hand came back coated in a thin, runny red substance; upon closer inspection he saw the ice lodged in his brother's chest. The younger man glared, trying to free his arm from his older brother's grasp.

"We can't just leave her here," he tried, but Nathan had the window half-way open.

Sylar was already bored with the brothers, glance sliding to Niki, who had returned during the confusion. His expression turned predatory, grin crawling its way across his face.

Nathan grabbed Peter around the waist, ignoring his resistance, and shot out the window before Sylar could take a step. The murderer frowned, debating on whether or not to use his telekinesis. He decided to focus on the girl instead; Peter was a special creature that would take special attention, at a much later date.

Niki scrambled to move somewhere, anywhere to get away from this man beast.

Don't be so dramatic, Nicole, Jessica chided, smirking ruefully.

Niki's head was forced into the door, and with a crunch she slid to the carpet, slipping into a near-catatonic stupor.

Sylar raised one of his freakishly large eyebrows, was it really going to be that easy? He frowned, crooking his finger. Niki Jessica had herself up like a shot, pushing Sylar back and knocking him over as if he were a paper crane. He sprawled across the floor, the back of his head colliding with the oak frame of the four-poster bed.

The blonde stood over him, docile demeanor demolished; wearing an all-consuming grin. Gabriel shuddered. Jessica's fist connected with his cheek, bone cracking and shifting upon impact. One of the bone-fragments pushed back into his eye, and Sylar's opal fluid was draining down his face in brilliant magenta.

He attempted to stand, but found himself launched across the room by seemingly-spindly arms. His back hit the far wall and he was on the floor again.

Super strength, Gabriel, Sylar said dazedly. Imagine the possibilities. But Gabriel didn't really want to, nor did he have to.

Before Jessica could make her way over, Sylar was up like a flash, pinging back to where she stood. He smiled languidly, taking her by the shoulder and raising his hand once more into that too-familiar pose. Before he could make the first incision he felt this overwhelmingly intense urge build up inside him. The air crackled and buzzed around him, and when he thought about telekinesis nothing happened. Gabriel was beginning to panic.

Niki was frozen, staring at her attacker while Jessica sneered. They were completely paralyzed and at Sylar's mercy.

The woman's skin began to undulate, rippling like a circus tent. Sylar stared with wide eyes, unable to control the situation and loathe for that. Her flesh was sagging and tugging as if there were a thousand little termites burrowing inside, eating her innards and trying to push out.

Sylar capitulated to the strange sensation, enjoying Niki's muffled screams as she drifted in and out of the fore. Finally, blessedly, the skin began to peel away, lifting up and out directly at the center of her body, effectively splitting it and pulling another layer with it.

Blood gushed out of every makeshift orifice, coating Zane's next-to-new shoes. Gabriel was vomiting in some secluded corner of his mind as inertia literally split Niki in two and rejoined her body. She had screamed until her heart had breathed its first oxygen, and then her eyes had faded, as they were turned in on themselves. That was the longest anyone had ever screamed for him. Thank you, Marion Feldman, he thought, grinning from ear-to-ear.

There was that precious grey matter, splayed out for the pillaging. Super strength was just a small step away.

Sylar whistled while he worked, drowning out the sounds of Gabriel's sickness.

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Peter says that while, regrettably, no, he can't show Mohinder his flying ability he can show him a myriad of other things. The geneticist is intrigued. And is it just him or is Zane taking an awful long time to make tea?

Suddenly the long-haired boy before him vanishes with a nearly audible pop, causing Mohinder to take a step back, a look of astonishment fixed to his face.

Astonishment morphs into horror as Zane appeared before him, covered in dust and debris. His face was nearly obscured by blood, his entire left eye covered in reddish film. Mohinder winces.

"Don't like what you see?" GabrielSylar grits out, the pain in his eye becoming unbearable. Mohinder takes a step in his direction.

"Zane." He speaks softly, omnipresent worry marring his tone. "What happened to you?" It's barely a whisper, and the doctor reaches his hand out to brush Gabriel's cheek, but the manboy jerks away.

"Don't insult us both by calling me that!" Gabriel screams, instantaneously irate.

"What are you talking about?" Mohinder asks, eyes widening, patience failing him.

"I am not who you think I am." Gabriel's good eye digs into Mohinder with a look, piercing his heart. "You know who I am," he announces, decibel level dropping.

Before Mohinder can answer Gabriel flees to the toilet, and soft coughing is echoing through the apartment.

When Gabriel successfully empties the contents of his stomach, he stands on shaking legs to lean over the sink. The cold eye of a killer bores at him through the looking glass.

"You have no right to be here," Sylar says, the epitome of calm.

Gabriel ignores him, stifling a cry as he washes out his damaged eye-socket.

"Zane?" Mohinder calls from outside the door, afraid to enter.

"I'm not Zane!" Gabriel shouts.

"Shut up!" Sylar screams, banging on the glass from the other side.

Mohinder cracks the door open, and ZaneGabriel spins around.

"We need to disinfect your eye," Mohinder says quietly. "I should take you to the hospital..."

"Stop this now, Mohinder," Gabriel bites out, staring at his shoes as he wills himself not to cry. The Indian man takes a deep breath, realization setting in.

"Sylar," he mouths, no breath accessible to him.

Gabriel feels himself being shoved out of the fore and he recedes reluctantly, allowing Sylar to take control.

"So you saw through my little façade," Sylar hisses, the sound completely reptilian. Mohinder notes the switch, tensing slightly, trying not to be too obvious. Sylar can hear his heart anyhow, to be sure, beating right out of his chest the way it is. "Took you long enough, doc."

Sylar pops out of the bathroom, face inches from Mohinder's. He is reminded of Zane, the gene sample... All of that is too far away now, too inconceivable.

"Thinking of Zane," Sylar muses, and it isn't a question. Mohinder knew he doesn't have telepathy, but it still shakes him to the core.

Stop this, Gabriel pleads, but it lacks its usual venom.

"He cares for you," Sylar relays, glancing out the window disinterestedly.

"Who does?" Mohinder asks desperately, hysterical laughter threatening his constitution. "Zane's dead." The words are more of a wet choking noise in Mohinder's throat.

"Gabriel," Sylar corrects, reaching forward to take Mohinder's jaw in hand.

This close and Mohinder feels sick. This close and Mohinder wants more. He can't stop himself from leaning into the touch as he stares at Sylar with wide eyes.

"You want me." Again, it is not a question and Mohinder pulls away. But Sylar is hunting and prey doesn't say "no." He surges forward, his other large hand wrapping around the base of Mohinder's neck, pulling him closer. His lips seal over the geneticist's as he forces the full line of their bodies together.

Mohinder places his hands on Sylar's chest, leaning into the kiss for one forgotten moment before shoving the killer away. Sylar bites Mohinder's lower lip as the kiss breaks, a fine line of red trailing down the scientist's face.

Where he still had a handle on Mohinder he tightens his grip, propelling him into a far wall…. Or at least that's how the scene plays out in Sylar's mind. In reality, Mohinder doesn't move more than a few inches. What the fuck? He holds up his arm, waving it dismissively backward, but no satisfyingly crunchy sound follows. Sylar frowns, wondering if this is fear; this heavy anxiety that is weighing on his lungs.

You're weak, Gabriel snarks.

Sylar's eye widens, his other one leaking dangerously vibrant puss. Mohinder's fingers itch with the desire to fix it.

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Gabriel woke to the pleasant sensation of warmth, a firm arm across his shoulders. He borrowed into Mohinder, grateful for the contact even as it caused a pang of guilt to seize his guts. He entertained briefly how wonderful it would be if he never had to move, forgetting that he was not the only one inhabiting his mental space.

None of that, Sylar berated mockingly. Gabriel sighed, moving to stand, but that supportive hand kept him stationary and Mohinder levered himself off the couch instead.

"We have to tend to your eye, Zane," Mohinder said, as if to a small child. Gabriel winced at the use of the stolen name, but it was nothing compared to the reaction of large quantities of bactine being poured into his eye. He was keening, trying to stay still under Mohinder's ministration. The patient man held him by the shoulders and cleaned every inch of his face meticulously, finishing the job by taping a gauze patch over his eye.

"Do you think I'll be able to use it again?" Gabriel asked, unwilling to break the comfortable silence and yet curious, always having to know how things worked.

"In time," Mohinder said gravely. "The tissue may completely degenerate, but in all likelihood it should be partially functional if you keep up on maintenance." An easy smile spread over Mohinder's cheeks. Gabriel thought maybe Sylar had rewound time once more. He so wished his alter ego would stop doing that.

I didn't, Sylar protested. Apparently, that was the only help he was offering. Gabriel ran a hand through his hair, thoroughly exhausted.

A smaller hand closed around his, drawing it out of his hair as Mohinder refilled the seat next to him. Gabriel's gaze flickered to their joined hands as Mohinder stroked the back of his lovingly. He felt that too familiar sick.

"Don't do this, Mohinder," Gabriel pleaded, his lone iris tracing every plane of the other man's face. Then the doctor was leaning towards him in what was becoming a habitual motion. Gabriel tensed, squeezing his eyelids shut tight, dreading; anticipating what was to come. The second 'don't' was swallowed by chocolate lips.

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Mohinder had him pinned to the couch cushions, nails digging into Gabriel's wrists.

Hurt me, Gabriel thought as Mohinder bit into his neck, drawing blood. Sylar stirred, always more than riled by the sight of blood, even if it was technically his own.

"You killed my father," came the justification, making his skin hurt where Mohinder's breath trailed upon it. "Want to make you hurt." The word was spoken hotly, like coals left out in the sun. Gabriel shuddered, making sure to remain completely stationary as Mohinder removed his clothes. It would have seemed a detached, clinical experience except for the doctor's shaking hands.

Bites across his lips and chest left violent, vibrant welts in their wake. Gabriel felt possessed, and in the dirtiest way imaginable. All this intensity, and focused on him, on Gabriel. He was reminded of the cogs and of his father as long fingers were inserted unceremoniously into his mouth. He swirled his tongue against the intruding digits, examining every little facet and curve. Break me, Gabriel begged.

Mohinder muffled a cry of pleasure, recoiling and withdrawing his fingers. Was it just him or did ZaneSylar look disappointed. Couldn't think about that had to make Sylar pay.

Make me pay, Gabriel screamed inside his own head, still refusing to be much more than a lump. Something must have betrayed him in his expression however, because then Mohinder was clambering off of him, breathing too hard to be unshaken.

One of Mohinder's hands was still firmly attached to his wrist and Gabriel took it, guiding it to the patch of skin right over his heart. Mohinder could feel the slightly elevated beat under his palm and, the gods help him, it was arousing to him. But there was something else… something missing to the fluid lubdublubdub. Of course that was ridiculous, but Mohinder would swear that he could feel the man's sincerity, hear his innocence.

"You're not him," Mohinder said, as revolt and guilt took over, steering his every move. He felt hot rage as it bubbled up inside him, threatening to spill over. How to hurt Sylar when Sylar wasn't there? He groaned a gratingly frustrated sound as he pulled at his own hair, kicking out at anything he could reach. "Who are you then?" It was nearly a scream, aimed at the ceiling as Mohinder couldn't trust himself to look into those eyes. Zane.

"Sylar," Gabriel whispered, trying to bring some of that hate into his tone. Mohinder looked surprised, but not excessively so.

"I don't believe you," he said gravely, narrowing his eyes as he searched blindly for the small antique clock that was sitting on the table behind him. His mind flashed to his father's files on his "patient zero." Break the workman's craft, Mohinder thought, but couldn't think of the reference—decided it didn't really matter.

Gabriel gulped, his every muscle tensing and twitching to move as Mohinder's fingers closed around the object, an exceedingly evil smile engulfing his features.

Mohinder raised the piece above his head, bringing it down with an ungodly noise. Gabriel let out a small whimper, unable to quash it as clock-parts went skittering across the floor.

"You are him," Mohinder was already justifying, grinding his heel into a collection of cogs. Gabriel couldn't watch, but he had to, deserved to. He transfixed his eye to the center of the mass and watched as the little pieces were broken into smaller pieces, a bit of Gabriel breaking as he wrapped his mind around the implications.

"I am," he said solemnly, willing his resolve to stay put. Mohinder's legs were the only chunk of the man visible to him as he couldn't rip his gaze away from the shattered clock. They made their way toward him, and as he felt the man's weight settle back down on his hips he swallowed, looking up. Gabriel noted that Sylar's mental presence was strangely absent from this surreal scene.

It's close enough, Mohinder conceded, shoving his conscience into a dark corner. There would be time for guilt later, now was—"Revenge." And then he was fumbling with the closure on his pants, a persistent numb washing over his consciousness.

Gabriel couldn't stay still, his whole body was quivering. He forced himself to keep his gaze trained on the smaller man as Mohinder undressed with robotic motions, rocking against Gabriel absentmindedly. The paler man resisted the urge to move against him through the tenuous hold he had on his own body.

Mohinder entered him, too fast, no preparation. Gabriel let out a strangled cry. This was pain; this was redemption. Gabriel deserved this, Make me pay Make me pay.. I have sinned… His body thrummed in white-hot pain agony, and yet he revelled in the feel of Mohinder's skin, eye boring into eyes as the dark man thrust.

Sylar plucked a memory with as much care as one would a lily, forcing it to the forefront of Gabriel's thoughts. Gabe squirmed under the visual attack—scars—fingers—thrust—fill—sick. A wave of tremors attacked his flesh anew, vibrations moving through Mohinder.

Before Mohinder could react, Gabriel was shoving him away, kicking and screaming. A heel connected with his ribcage and he grunted, pulling out of SylarnotSylar hastily.

"You're not him," and the words were tremulous and soft; they reminded Gabe of where he was.

He was making things right, Gabe protested obstinately.

He was raping you, Sylar growled.

More memories were flooding Gabriel's consciousness. Blaze—thrill—justice—he could see the man on the ground, on the floor of Mohinder's apartment. His shrieking filled the room, and now even Sylar was swaying. Gabriel felt lost; lost in flame.

He felt his eyes roll back, hot sensation unravelling him. His mind shot out, nearly blind, striking Mohinder and sending him into the black. All was black. An incredible drive to burn tore at him as if he were paper as the air turned static around him, an electrical buzz growing in intensity—swallowing him whole. A spark ran across the floor before bursting into blessed flame at long last.

As the conflagration spread and licked about him, the memories slowly faded to leave a thought he shared with Sylar:

Mohinder.

Gabe was running to him before he could think, flame rippling around his telekinetic field. Mohinder was unconscious, but still breathing. Gabriel reached down, and rolled Mohinder over. His eyes were open and unseeing; Sylar's countenance reflected there.

Forgive me, Father, tore through his head as Sylar struggled to the fore, immediately dashing for some blankets. Layout of Mohinder's apartment having been carefully catalogued away on an earlier date, Sylar made a mad dash for the linen closet. He thanked whatever god Gabe believed in that his telekinesis was still going strong.

He didn't bother with trying to put out the fire, just tied a covering over his lower body and made his way back to the geneticist, Gabriel praying all the while. He swaddled Mohinder's abused body in another few blankets, lifting him as if he were fine strands of time hanging haphazardly together.

Propelling himself with enhanced speed, he fled the flaming apartment structure, clutching Mohinder tightly to his chest as he flew down flights of stairs to finally hit open air. As he traversed the darkness with bare feet he felt his burden stir, curling into Sylar's abdomen. Sylar holds him tighter as he echoes Gabriel's lone thought:

I walked through fire and didn't get burned.

fin