The good side of humanity
Sylar came back to consciousness progressively. He was lowered on the floor in the most uncomfortable position, his arms bound together around a beam behind his back. The place was dark and cold, with a bare floor, probably some kind of cellar. As he tried to move, he let out a moan and almost choked on the gag in his mouth. His whole body hurt like hell, he could feel every single punch and kick that Bennet had given him. No more power meant no more ability to heal, and no possibility to escape, even from this miserable cell. He wasn't Sylar anymore, just Gabriel, the watchmaker, average and common in every possible way. This thought made him feel worse than the idea of death itself. He didn't know why Bennet hadn't killed him like he did to Elle, but that didn't seem so important anymore, because all he wanted was to be Sylar, and Sylar certainly didn't give a damn about what could possibly happen to Gabriel.
Two floors higher, Sandra was watching her sleeping daughter. It upset her to see Claire so vulnerable again, but somewhere deep inside, she liked having her mother role back. This time, Noah wouldn't be the only one taking the vital decisions. Sighing slightly, she closed the door and went down to the kitchen. The phone rang, making her sigh again: it sometimes seemed to her that she would talk to her husband the most often through the phone.
- Where are you? , she asked calmly, already knowing that she wouldn't get an answer.
- How is Claire?
- She's ok, considering the circumstances. Did you stop whoever did that to her?
- I did.
The tone of the voice, as well as the short silence afterwards, told her that bad news was coming.
- Listen, Sandra. I can't come home right now, probably not for one or two days. I know it's a lot to ask you right now, but I need you to care of something for me.
She rolled her eyes. After so many years of marriage, he knew as much as she did, that she would never refuse him her help, no matter what. But the fact that he had to ask for something was a very bad sign, since he usually kept everything secret from her.
- Alright. But I won't leave Claire alone until I'm sure that she's ok. What is it?
- The man that shot Claire? It was Sylar, the same one that assaulted her some time ago. I brought him to the house, he's in the cellar.
Sandra almost dropped the phone as she pictured this monster in the cellar of her own house. She tried not to wake up Claire as she yelled on the phone.
- What?! What is he doing here? I can't believe that you put us in such danger! What am I supposed to do now?!
- Nothing. He's not dangerous anymore, at least not like he used to be. And he's not in the best shape, I had him pay for what he did.
Noah tried to sound as calm as possible. He didn't feel nearly as confident as he wanted his wife to believe he was. He had had very little time to decide what to do with Sylar, after the phone call of the Company saying that they wanted him alive for further experimentation. He even hesitated to tell them that it was too late already, but his training was too powerful to allow him to lie to the Company. So he had to put Sylar somewhere. Taking him with him directly to the paper factory was too risky, as the guy was not so good looking after he paid for shooting Claire. Then the Company said "come back now", and so he did, letting the monster in his home. And now, there he was, asking the impossible to his wife.
- Look, I know how this sounds, but we need this guy alive, or at least not completely dead. I'll be gone for some time, so I need you to give him some water. Just that, you don't even need to talk to him. And it doesn't even have to be today. Tomorrow will probably be enough. If he dies in spite of that, I'll deal with it, but it'd be a shame if he simply died of thirst. Do you think you can do that?
The last words sounded almost insulting to Sandra. Can you do that? As if she was some poor little girl, unable to make a move without her dear husband behind her. As if he wasn't asking for something impossible, something insane. She didn't believe it as she heard her own voice on the phone.
- Very well. I'll take care of that.
She put the phone down, not waiting for the answer. I can do that. He shot my daughter and killed countless others, but I can do that. She kept repeating herself as she sat heavily on a chair.
Down in the cellar, Sylar/Gabriel was trying to move his hands behind his back. If only he could release them, he would find a way to escape, no doubt, and even get his power back. He had done that already. He wasn't the most powerful person on Earth by chance only, he worked hard to get all his powers, and he would work even harder to get them back.
But as time was passing by, he realised that he wouldn't make it. He was feeling weaker every moment, he already couldn't feel his arms anymore, because in his position the blood wasn't circulating normally. On top of that, the gag was obstructing his breath. With plain horror, Gabriel realised at that point that he was actually going to die here, in this cellar, alone and miserable like never before in his life.
Sandra had been sitting in the kitchen for almost an hour, unable to make a move, unwilling to even think of it. But Claire would wake up any moment now, so she had to do something, at least cook for her daughter. With this task in mind, she finally managed to stand up and begin the cooking.
If Sylar was the strong one, Gabriel alone was weak and scared. As less and less air made it into his lungs, he began to panic completely. Ignoring the pain, he shook his body frantically, hoping to free himself one way or another before it would be too late.
Sandra felt a shock under her feet, as if the floor was moving all by itself. She stood still, waiting to see what was coming next. As she felt it again, her mind raced to find the explanation. Of course it had something to do with the man on the cellar. She was just on top of it. What was he doing? Trying to free himself? And if so, what for the sake of Christ was she supposed to do? The idea of this monster coming up the stairs put her in motion. She took the biggest knife she had in the kitchen, and headed to the door up the stairs going down to the cellar.
Gabriel had worn off his last forces. He was now focusing on his breath, trying to take some more air with each intake. He closed his eyes in exhaustion.
As Sandra went down the stairs, all she could hear was her heart pounding loudly in her chest. The cellar was dark, but the open door gave her just enough light to figure out what was to be seen: Sylar was attached by his arms to a beam; he was still, his eyes were closed and he had a gag in his mouth, one made of one of her kitchen cloth. She came closer, but not close enough for him to touch her. She could now see what her dear husband called "not in the best shape": the man had obviously been severely beaten. Every part of his body that she could see was damaged in some way, like his nose that was broken. Now that she had calmed down a little, she could hear his uneven breath, and guessed that he was choking on his gag.
She stood there, right in front of him for what seemed like an eternity, her body frozen while she couldn't make up her mind about what to do. On one hand, she was supposed to stop him from dying, it was her "mission", like Noah and Claire would have called it. But on the other hand, she wished nothing more than for this to end definitely now. She could always pretend she didn't hear the noise: after all, Noah said she didn't have to do anything that day.
His heart was now pounding with less and less energy. Gabriel was feeling his strength leaving him progressively. He wasn't even afraid anymore, as he realised that the end was coming soon. Eventually, he reopened his eyes to greet the coming death. He was surprised to see the woman looking down at him, but not that much. He remembered her, Claire's mother, Mrs Bennet. His last thought was that he wasn't alone after all.
When Sylar opened his eyes, Sandra couldn't retain a small cry. What surprised her the most then was his expression as he looked up to her: it wasn't the expression one would expect on a killer's face, at that moment he just looked like the guy next door, all mischievousness gone from his gaze. Then he passed out. She knew he would die any minute if she didn't free him. She eventually came closer and removed the gag, aware of how dangerously close to him she was for a few seconds. He didn't react at first, and she began to think that maybe it was already too late. For some reason, she didn't enjoy the thought that much anymore. But after some time he began to breathe more deeply, which caused him to cough badly and bring him back to consciousness.
He thought he was dead already, but then he felt his lungs getting full of air again. It was a wonderful feeling, but the coughing afterwards was horribly painful, as was his whole body because of the jolts. The woman was still there. He realised that she had just saved his life, even though he couldn't find a reason why she would do that.
His own voice sounded strange to him. His throat was raspy, and he was very thirsty now. Then the woman left, going up the stairs and closing the door silently behind her. He was alone again, and alive, but now that he didn't miss the air, the pain through his shoulders was growing more intense, until he had to prevent himself from screaming out of pain. He knew that if he did that, he would get the gag again. Instead, he tried to get on a standing position, but this wasn't easy considering all the wounds he had to endure, plus his arms closely bound behind his back. He eventually managed to get up on his knees: it was the best he could do, and his shoulders were a little less painful this way, but just a little, and he knew it wouldn't last.
What am I doing? God help me, I should stay away. Sandra could see herself from the outside, as she was exploring the closet in the bathroom, searching for anything that could be useful. He is dangerous. He would kill me. No doubt, he will. But then another voice could be heard in her mind, one that she hadn't heard in years, since her marriage, since she stopped being a nurse to become a wife and a mother. It was the voice of a young woman who never had any doubts in life, the person she stopped being many years ago. There is a man in your cellar. He's hurt and he is your responsibility. You can't just ignore him. Somehow, this voice sounded like nostalgia.
A third voice interrupted her thoughts, the one of her very real daughter. For one second, Sandra felt totally foolish for planning to go back into the cellar and help the monster that terrorised her little girl and threatened her family. With a calm attitude that surprised even her, she went to Claire's room, talked to her like the attentive mother she always was. Then she finished the meal she had prepared, and brought it to Claire. Somehow, she wasn't surprised to see that she had made a lot too much of the soup: this wasn't unusual after all.
Gabriel had no way of knowing how much time had passed since he woke up in there the first time. It seemed like ages to him, but it may very well have been only a couple of hours. And he didn't know how much more time he could stay in there before losing it. It was torture: the thirst, the pain in his whole body, but especially in his shoulders. He was almost regretting now to be still alive. Maybe this was Bennet's plan? To keep him in this cellar until he finally died a very painful death? Wasn't that a middle age torture method, binding people so they couldn't move and had to endure all the muscular pain? But this wasn't like Bennet: he would have been there himself, watching him die like he once did. Bennet would want to enjoy the show, so this wasn't his plan.
The light surprised him, piercing trough his eyelids directly to his brain. He heard steps, someone was coming. When he finally could see again, Mrs Bennet was there, looking down at him. She had something in her hands. At first, he thought of a gun, but it appeared to be a mere glass with a straw. She directed the straw toward him, so that he could drink. Like the air before, the water was a fantastic feeling going down his throat. He sipped until the last drop, and then released the straw. Mrs Bennet took back the glass. Gabriel noticed how careful she was around him, and her fear warmed his heart. Not dead yet. He suppressed a smile, there was no reason for smiling yet.
Sylar avidly drank the water. In the light of the only bulb of the room, he looked really terrible. Sandra's biggest concern was his arms, twisted like they were behind his back for some hours now, it must have been extremely painful. Dear Noah really wasn't as smart as he thought himself: in less than 24 hours his prisoner will be dead by the mere effects of blood circulation and gravity law. But in order to help that, she would have had to free him from his bonds, and that was absolutely out of question. She wasn't that insane.
Gabriel hesitated: he didn't want to feed her potential perverse pleasure, but he didn't seem to have any other choice than to trust her for now. So he nodded. She had indicated his shoulders, maybe she would agree to free him, and then…
Sandra clearly had mixed feelings toward her prisoner. She would never have admitted it, but seeing him like that, on his knees and in much pain, wasn't all that uncomfortable.
- I'll be back.
She came back with a bowl of soup. At the smell, Gabriel realised how starving he was. He ate it with a straw, too. Obviously, the compassionate woman didn't want to come too close to him. What a shame! As he finished eating, she broke the silence again.
- I should examine you. See how I can help.
- Why do you want to help me?
It came out of pure curiosity. On second thought, he probably shouldn't have asked. She observed him for some time, before answering quietly, as if speaking more to herself.
- Why indeed?
With that, she turned back and headed to the stairs.
- Wait! Please…
Gabriel hated the pleading sound of his voice, but he couldn't help it. With these words, Mrs Bennet stopped and looked back at him. Her voice was so soft when she spoke, that the sound almost brought tears to Gabriel's eyes.
- It's ok. I'll be back.
When she came down in the cellar for the 4th time that day, Sandra was so focused on the task she assigned herself, that she almost wasn't scared. The monster didn't seem so dangerous to her anymore: after all, he really was only human now.
Mrs Bennet carefully cleaned his face with a towel, then she did the same with all of his wounds. When she came to touch his shoulders, she even massaged him a little with her delicate fingers. Gabriel was careful not to scare her away by moving to fast. He didn't want her to go away. Her warm presence near him was a blessing. After that, she came and sat in front of him. She looked thoughtful as she observed him attentively.
-Do you feel better?
Once again, Gabriel didn't think before speaking: he was so utterly surprised by the way she was acting around him that he had to ask her.
-I'm much better, thanks. But I still don't understand, why are you helping me?
Sandra took her time to think that through.
-Because you need someone's help, I guess. We are not animals, we have to help each other, that's what it means to be human. At least, that's what it means to me.
Gabriel couldn't help but think how "human" M. Bennet had been with him earlier. No doubt, this woman was a naïve and a fool: humanity is a super predator, it didn't come to be the dominant breed of the planet by chance. And as Sylar, he was the ultimate predator of the human race. Nevertheless, it felt good to have such company as Mrs Bennet in his situation.
-Well, thank you for being so "human", then, I guess.
Above them, Claire was in the kitchen, looking for her mother. She had awoken some time ago feeling totally healthy again, and wanted to tell her the good news. Beside, she had never before thought about her power in such a positive way, which was even better news. But Sandra was nowhere to be seen. This surprised Claire, who knew her mother would never let her alone in her condition without at least a note. She was wondering about what to do when she heard some voices coming from the cellar. Curious about who would rather hold a conversation in the cellar than in the living room, Claire slowly pushed the door.
The scream surprised both Gabriel and Sandra. Looking up the stairs, they saw Claire standing there, her hand still on the door lock.
- My God! Mum! This is… Sylar!
At first, Claire couldn't move, horrified by the vision of her mother standing next to Sylar. She kept hoping she would finally wake up for good. Then she realised that it wasn't a nightmare, or at least that she wasn't asleep, but it was too late already: she felt something invisible pushing her against the wall at her side. Sylar was holding her in his power.
Gabriel soon realised his powers were back when he saw that the cheerleader had healed again. He could finally free himself. Becoming Sylar again, that was so great! Now that the pain was gone, he definitely felt like a god again. Holding the girl with a part of his mind, he stood up, observing the scene with a new sense of calm. The Bennet family, so many possibilities…
Sandra hadn't made a move since Claire had interrupted them. She was staring at Sylar, petrified by the realization of the danger she put herself and Claire in. Making up her mind, she decided to keep the initiative since Sylar wasn't holding her yet. Trying to sound as calm as possible, she addressed to him with an apparent confidence she far from felt.
- So, now what? Are you going to kill us like you did to all those people already?
- Why not? Could you stop me?
When Sylar grinned, he didn't look like the guy next door at all anymore: his smile was pure evil. Sandra knew that she couldn't stop him if he decided to do just that, but she had to try and find a way to save her daughter. Even if Claire really was immune to death, there were still plenty of horrible things Sylar could do to her, and Sandra could have bet that's exactly what was on his mind at that moment. She couldn't bear the way he was gazing at Claire now. To beg in order to win time, that was the only thing to do, hoping that Noah would arrive really soon to save his family from the monster he had put in his own house.
- Please, don't hurt her. You can do anything to me, but leave her alone.
Somewhere deep inside, these words hurt Sylar. He instantly lost his calm, and with a movement of his hand, he slammed Sandra to the wall. He barely heard Claire screaming, as Sandra landed on the floor. Had he killed her? This thought hurt him even deeper. For the first time, he realised how Mrs Bennet reminded him of his own mother. He killed her, but he didn't intend to, it was an accident. Strangely enough, it was also the only death he caused that he ever regretted.
Sandra felt her head knock against the wall. Sylar was obviously losing his temper. She couldn't say if that was good news, though. She forced herself to stand up. Sylar was coming closer, but she couldn't read his look. She was desperate to find a way to stop him, but there was nothing helpful around, nothing that could be used as a weapon. Then he stretched his hand toward her face. She closed her eyes and waited for the coming blow. There was none. Sylar gently stroke her face. When she opened her eyes after some time, he was gone.
Standing outside under the rain, Sylar was observing the Bennet's house as the lights were finally switched off one after the other. He was perplexed: it bothered him not to know why he hadn't killed Mrs Bennet when he had the chance. He could go back of course, but he didn't feel like doing it right away. Another day. After all, he really was the boogeyman.