The same disgusting gray walls.
The same freezing temperature penetrating the same thin, white tee shirt and cotton pants.
Sylar is angry, to say the least, at having been captured once again.
He's sore, pounding a bruised fist against the thick cement wall of his cell in frustration.
There's no observation window this time; no way for him to glare at the people poking, prodding, and monitoring him. For all he knows a hidden camera has taken its place and he's being watched, circling his cell and pacing like a caged animal much to their fucking enjoyment.
He tries not to think about how this all happened because his head is aching too much from physical and emotional pain. But the images of a rampant car chase and a bone-crushing crash replay in his mind. Sylar thinks they will forever; burned into his retinas as though at the time his brain thought to store it as a near-death experience.
For the first time, he curses his eidetic memory with a feral growl.
Bad luck, plain and simple, because Sylar is better than that.
He'd crashed just the right way; pinned between seat and ground to perfectly corner himself. He'd given the Company easy access with a needle full of drugs while too stunned from a head wound to fight back with his powers.
The simplicity of his capture nearly makes Sylar chuckle.
He settles for shaking his head instead, rubbing a battered eye socket tiredly.
Now, powerless presumably from whatever drug they pumped into his system, he can do nothing but wait for the anticipated welcoming committee.
He doesn't have to wait long – Sylar's impatient pacing is interrupted by his cell door flinging open.
He whirls on foot, skin scraping painfully against the roughness of the cold floor. Nonetheless, Sylar grits his teeth and puts on his most frightening scowl as Noah Bennet slides into his cell with two stout men trailing close behind. They hold threateningly large needles and one has a straight jacket draped over his shoulder.
"Welcome home, Gabriel."
Sylar matches Bennet's smirk, swallowing his pride.
"Noah Bennet. I thought you'd smartened up and ditched this place."
He takes a step forwards and ignores the two men as they do the same. Bennet waves them off, and that alone is enough to anger Sylar. Bennet thinks he's weak.
"We did some house cleaning. I run the Company now and things are done differently, as you'll see."
"Who'd you kill?" Sylar chuckles. He catches the uneasy twitch that falls across Bennet's face and his joke suddenly turns to a serious question. "Wow. You murdered the head of the company? Tisk tisk, Noah."
"We did what we had to. I'm sure you're familiar with that."
"Quite. So what does this newly reformed Company want with little old me?"
Sylar walks in a slow circle, trailing his fingers along his bed (if it can even be called that – cement slab is more like it) and smiles at Bennet.
"I haven't lost my interest in learning how you work, Gabriel. Tell me, what exactly do you do with the brains?"
The redundancy is not lost on Sylar as he shakes his head in disappointment. If he didn't get out of here soon, he'd be questioned to death.
"That's it? You want to know if I eat the brains, and then you'll let me go."
He knows the answer before it falls from Noah's lips.
"Help us…teach us how you gain the abilities, and we'll see if we can't work something out for you."
"Now, I have a hard time believing you're just going to…release me back into the wild. Free to take life again."
Noah shifts and flips open Sylar's thick file.
"We can't have that, can we?" he murmurs, scanning down a page.
"You'll kill me. That doesn't give me much incentive to help you, does it?"
Bennet looks up and grins with an 'I know something you don't know' glimmer behind his eyes.
"Let's just say we're hoping you'll change your mind about being a normal member of society."
"Normal?" Sylar sits down onto his bed and cross his arms. "Normal? That's so…bland. Nice try. Come on, what aren't you telling me, Noah?"
His file is slapped closed and Bennet seems lost in thought for several moments before clearing his throat.
"We've assigned one of our best doctors to work with you. I'm sure you'll show him the same courtesy you've shown me, Gabriel." Noah tilts his head much like Sylar does when he's peering into the very soul of another human being.
"I'm still not convinced."
"You will be Gabriel. You can help us, and we can help you. We're willing to give it time, if you are."
Noah nods to him and there is something there; something foreign and scary to Sylar. The other man's face seems genuinely promising and concerned. Sylar fights back a shiver at the unfamiliar compassion.
"He'll be in first thing tomorrow," Bennet shoots over his shoulder before slipping out the door, his goons following like they're attached to a leash.
Sylar scoffs out loud as the lights shut off, wondering just how stupid they think he is.
He didn't sleep but a few hours that night.
Tossing and turning on a poor excuse for a bed, Sylar's mind raced with excitement and anticipation at how he was going to turn their game around on them.
He awoke to his door opening and a metal tray clanking loudly against the floor.
Something Sylar hadn't taken the time to enjoy in quite a while. Life on the run wasn't exactly brimming with luxuries, he'd learned quickly.
Rubbing an eye he gazes in disgust at the pitiful meal on the floor of his cage; a couple pieces of toast, a juice box, and a single crusted egg. Delicious.
Sylar would have just as soon thrown it against the walls of his cell, being the animal they assumed he was, but the excitement of his upcoming visitor was enough to keep him in check.
Nerves are getting the better of him, though, as he sits on his bed, staring at his only nourishment in a few days. Sylar decides to relent in his stubbornness when his stomach growls angrily at him.
He crawls over to the tray and picks up a piece of burnt toast, nibbling around the edge.
It is rock hard, like everything else in this place.
Sliding the tray away from himself, his heart skips a beat at the sound of keys clanking against the other side of his door. There is a distinct click of inner locks and a soft sweep as it pushes open.
He stands, preparing his best grin, only to stumble back in shock at who walks through.
This situation is all too familiar.
A door swinging open to reveal an unsure beauty; dark, golden skin glimmering in any light – real or artificial – ebony curls lying haphazardly in a mop of messy hair, and there is always that one single strand of curly lock that hangs down.
Drapes in front of large, sparkling, midnight eyes.
Sylar balls his fists and fights the urge to lunge at the man.
Why? He couldn't say. Anger, fear, instinct, lust, dominance; or simply the need to hurt.
The want to destroy something that is too beautiful for words and can never be his. Because if he can't have him in all of his breathtaking glory, nobody can.
His doctor hesitates at the door, clearly taken back by Sylar's entranced gaze.
He smoothes out the long, white lab coat – that would look boring on any other man, Sylar notes – and swallows before taking the final steps through a dangerous threshold. Into the forced domain of a trapped murderer.
Sylar's stare is broken only as the same two men from yesterday push in after him, equipment in hand; ready to take him down with a single word from his doctor.
He looks from them, back to enchanting eyes, not speaking a damn word. If he tries to talk, he fears, his voice will have run away from him.
This most certainly was not what he had expected. Mohinder Suresh is supposed to hate him; loathe the very air he breathes. And Sylar was growing embarrassingly hard at the very sight of an old friend – enemy – that he's dreamt about taking for more nights than he can count.
What kind of sick game is this?
"Sylar," Mohinder states in his own form of a nervous greeting. There is no malice in his voice, no condescending tones. He speaks as though they've met before on no more than boring terms.
It's all he can say for his brain isn't even working. It's his heart that pushes the word through a clenched throat.
Mohinder nods to the men who close the door and stay back as the doctor paces cautiously forwards, setting down a tray of tools on his bed. By now, Sylar is standing with his back to the opposite wall, mouth open in a combination of shock and thrill.
"What're you…why are you…"
He blinks in rapid succession as Mohinder concentrates on filling a syringe with what Sylar would have assumed to be the drug blocking his abilities – if his mind was in proper working order.
"They asked me if I wanted to try and help you." Mohinder swallows and looks up. "I said yes."
It's simple, really, and Mohinder states it as though Sylar will understand completely.
Understand how Mohinder is willing to forgive so easily and why he wants to help a man he should despise? A man he did despise the last time they met?
Sylar laughs. He can't escape it as it bubbles up from his gut and causes him to grip his hair in near insanity at the situation.
Mohinder's eyes squint at the display as he approaches Sylar with a readied needle.
"Give me your arm please."
The laughing halts abruptly and they stare – just stare into each other's eyes for several moments and Sylar can hear nothing but the soft, calm breath escaping Mohinder's parted lips.
He's waiting patiently for Sylar to extend an arm but he can't for the life of him understand why Mohinder Suresh is standing in front of him relaxed and collected like they hadn't been trying to hurt each other for the past 6 months.
His eyes flick to the men at the door, and then back down to Mohinder, whose face is completely unreadable.
"Have they brainwashed you, Suresh? Why aren't you trying to kill me right now?" Sylar asks as he offers his right arm.
Mohinder frowns slightly before swabbing his bicep with an antiseptic pad and sliding the needle in – a lot nicer than he had the last two times they'd played with medical equipment.
He injects the drug and Sylar grits his teeth, knowing what it is already starting to do to his precious powers.
"I have no desire to kill you," Mohinder replies after removing the needle. He dabs the injection site clean and turns back to his tray.
"I find that hard to believe. Did they wipe your memories? Have you forgotten that I killed your father?"
Sylar is growing concerned – what? Concerned?
Mohinder acts a little too different and something isn't right.
"I will never forget that. Please sit on the bed."
He's instructing Sylar like any doctor would do to a patient; clinical but not detached. There's too much familiarity in his soft tone.
Sylar scratches the back of his head before obeying Mohinder's request. He walks a few steps and then sits down next to the tray, watching Mohinder prepare another needle.
"Is it alright if I take a blood sample?"
Did you really just ask permission for that?
"You've already pumped me full of drugs, I doubt I could stop you," he says slyly, eyeing the men standing stoically by the door.
"The serum isn't meant to harm you, Sylar. It's for our safety as well as yours."
Mohinder wraps a band of rubber tightly around Sylar's bicep.
"Right, leaving me defenseless to whatever you feel like doing. I understand."
The bite in his words phases Mohinder who simply shakes his head, cleaning the inside of Sylar's left arm before slipping the needle expertly into a vein.
"We don't want to hurt you."
From any other person, he wouldn't have believed that. But something about the low sadness in Mohinder's voice made the phrase feel more like I don't want to hurt you.
A full sample of blood is drawn and Sylar winces slightly when the needle is removed. He can already feel bruises forming on both arms. Mohinder places a tiny band aid over the area and then sighs through his nose as he grabs a stethoscope from the tray.
"I'm just going to check your vitals."
"You don't have to explain everything to me like I'm a child, Mohinder. I've been here before."
"Right. Of course."
Mohinder looks almost embarrassed and Sylar returns the look with one of confusion. How much sarcastic bite does he have to throw at Suresh to get a response?
Sylar narrows his eyes and watches Mohinder intently as the man listens to his heart, his breathing; asking Sylar to take in deep breaths before scribbling the data down in his file.
"Am I healthy?"
He's fishing for anger – hoping Mohinder will use the phrase 'unfortunately, yes' in his response.
"Perfectly. Everything looks and sounds good. Are you feeling well?"
Sylar can't take it any longer. The obvious disregard for their past is driving him more insane than this tiny cell ever could.
"What the hell is wrong with you, Mohinder? I don't know what kind of mind fuck they're trying to play on me here, but you're too smart to be controlled by them."
A hint of anger shows on Mohinder's face, bordering on frustration.
"They're not controlling me; I'm here on my own desire."
"And they told you to pretend like I didn't try to kill everyone you love? Like I didn't kidnap you three months ago and threaten to kill Molly?"
Come on Mohinder, give me something. Anything to show me that this isn't all a game.
Mohinder pinches the bridge of his nose and sits down on the bed next to Sylar.
"Are you familiar with the Buddhist monk Thich Hanh?"
"No…not at all."
He shifts more towards Sylar and licks his lips, excitement and passion brewing behind wide eyes.
"He's a very inspirational man who has dedicated his life to helping others. He teaches how to focus energy to rejuvenate parts of one's life that have been shattered by anger. I've been reading his manuscripts lately and-"
"So you're forgetting everything that's happened, everything I've done, because of something a book tells you?"
"Not forgetting. If I try to hurt you then I'm no better than you are. Out of everything bad comes something good, and that includes all the rage and hurt you've caused. I believe I can turn it around and, well, help you."
His face is caring, needy, visibly striving to make good on a false hope.
Sylar thinks this is what being in shock feels like. His limbs won't move, his mouth is dry, and his brain is fuzzy from overload. Or is it the drugs….
"That is ridiculous, Mohinder, and you know it. You can't help me, nobody can."
He wants the fight, he wants the struggle. He wants the pain because the ache, physical and emotional, separates him from this penitentiary. And he can't for God's sake understand this sudden turn of events.
"I'm sorry you feel that way. Maybe I can change your mind."
Sylar stares in awe as Mohinder gets up and steps gracefully over a tray of untouched food, staring down at it when he passes.
"Is this what they're feeding you?" He looks back up with a grin, and that smile, oh God that smile; it snaps Sylar out of his astonishment and he shakes his head, looking at his breakfast and shrugging.
Eyes connecting with Mohinder's once more, he beams, because the friendly smirk hasn't faded from dark lips.
"I'll see if I can't get you some real cuisine," Mohinder says as he turns and nods to the men who open the door. Before stepping through he throws a final courtesy at Sylar, one most unexpected.
"Oh, and an actual bed. Would you like that?"
"Very much. I can't really sleep at night," he replies with skepticism in his voice.
With that Mohinder leaves Sylar in his cold cell, two sore arms and a mind tripping over itself in confusion.
Yes, things were getting very interesting.
Mohinder returns in the evening and Sylar is nearly as shocked as he was that morning.
It gives him hope that he'll see his doctor many times a week.
Shock fades to joy at the site of a large, brown paper bag in one of Mohinder's hands, a rolling desk chair pushed by the other.
And of course, two annoyingly silent men attached to him.
"Nourishment," Mohinder smiles, setting the bag on Sylar's bed. "Though I'm not sure how edible it is. They tore it apart on my way inside looking for weapons. Must think I'm going to break you out."
He chuckles and then frowns at a hopeful glint in Sylar's eye.
"What is it? Or…what was it?"
"Chinese food. Soup and Lo Mein. I got you the same thing you ordered that night in Montana."
They share a silent gaze, memories flooding into both minds. Mohinder breaks the gape and sits in the chair, knee to knee with his patient.
Sylar reaches in and pulls out a plastic container of soup, still hot, and pops the lid off.
Spicy aromas drift up with steam and overpower his senses with more recollections of a cold night – two strangers talking about anything and everything over take-out to better acquaint themselves on a starchy motel bed.
"No problem. Though, I don't want you to get your hopes up on this being a regular thing. I don't think they'd let me, nor would I be able to afford it."
He nods to Mohinder, sipping the soup quietly after failing to find a spoon in the brown bag.
They took the utensils out because obviously I can kill a man with a flimsy piece of plastic, he thinks sarcastically.
"I don't expect it. I just haven't eaten anything since a few days before the car crash."
"I meant to ask you about that this morning. Anything unbearably sore?"
Mohinder's eyes dance over various cuts and bruises peppering visible, pale skin.
Sylar sips, shaking his head.
"No. I was able to shield myself from any perilous blows with telekinesis. The resulting cuts are just heavy reminders of my mistakes."
"Mistakes, yes, and unfortunate. For what it's worth they were going to capture you in a much calmer manner. You ran and they panicked."
"I wonder why."
A challenging look makes its way back into Sylar's murky eyes and Mohinder represses a shiver.
He clears his throat and motions to the soup.
"Is it good?"
"Could be better."
"Ah. Well, tell me what you might like differently in the future and I'll try to sneak you things on occasion. If we make progress, that is."
"I get it. Be a good boy and get rewarded with treats. Is that it, Mohinder?"
"Of course not. I would just like everything to stay positive in here."
"Positive? I'm locked in a cement box. Poked and prodded, no sunlight, no fresh air. Barely enough room to walk. And privacy? Completely out of the question. This is far from positive."
To Mohinder, Sylar doesn't sound angry or frustrated – his voice cracks slightly and he can hear the desperation underneath; the sorrow of having to relive a nightmare again.
"I know, and I apologize. Unfortunately that part of the situation is not under my control. I am, however, working on that bed for you."
Too nice, too forgiving. Wrong, this is all wrong.
"I suppose this is what I deserve, isn't it Mohinder?" Sylar is speaking matter-of-factly, stating what they both already know. He's not even sure if it's a plea or idle conversation. "After everything I've done, it only makes sense to be locked up and shut out from the world."
"No." Mohinder slides his chair forwards so that their knees touch, just barely. "There's so much you can do out there, so many good things. This is all temporary, remember that."
"And what makes you sure that I can change? That I will change?"
"Because I know who you used to be. I see that man inside you still. You don't enjoy killing, as much as you'd like to convince everyone otherwise, and you want some part of your life to be ordinary. Everybody needs that. You wanted to be special? Known by many? You've achieved that. Now its time to stop and fix the things you've broken by being a good man. I won't let you waste everything you've worked so hard to gain by destroying more lives, including your own."
He fights for a response, the vision of Mohinder's stern face blurring behind a shroud of painfully hot tears. Nothing comes to his tongue in defense because there is nothing; he knows Mohinder is right. And the level of self sacrifice Mohinder is offering him is something that Sylar cannot comprehend, because nobody has ever shown him that much care.
He drops his eyes and stares at the soup on his lap, combating tears from taking a plummeting leap and bestowing vulnerability.
"Just, please, Sylar. Open up a little to me because I want to help. I hope you believe that. "
The lack of response from his patient causes Mohinder to shift uncomfortably before scooting back and standing. Sylar's gaze falls to the side, fingers curling too tightly around the warm plastic at his inability to express anguish.
"If all goes well they'll be bringing in an extra mattress for you sometime tonight."
He doesn't even nod in response and Mohinder fears that he's said something wrong, crossing all boundaries of their 'connection' and upsetting Sylar.
Mohinder sighs and turns to leave.
"I'll be back tomorrow morning," he says quietly, oblivious to the glimmering eyes burning into his back when the door clicks shut.
Bewildered but still very hungry, Sylar sniffles lightly and sets the soup aside, digging through the rest of the bag. He pulls out a couple of white containers, opened and spilling their contents from rough treatment by skeptical guards.
Fingers fumbling for any remaining food, his hand strikes something that he's not sure if Mohinder either forgot about, or wanted to surprise him with.
Sylar pulls out a book, 'Anger' by Thich Hanh, and brushes off a few stray pieces of rice from its cover.
It's used - Mohinder's own copy, Sylar assumes, as he flips through and catches many highlighted pages sprinkled with Mohinder's polished scrawl.
He cant resist the urge to bring the soft pages to his nose and breathe deeply; taking in the scent of a man and an apartment that he's longed for so many hours of so many days.
If Mohinder really did want to help as much as he was promising, he could use that to his advantage. The thought never crosses his mind that this can be an opportunity for genuine change.
Sylar brings a finger-pinch full of rice to his mouth as he turns to the first page, hoping Mohinder's choice in reading material will drown out tormenting thoughts about the tense confessions of his day.