Author's Notes: It occurred to me that I've had this fic on LJ for months, and never bothered to post it here. I figured it's about time to rectify that.
This fic is my attempt to explain how the 3x04 alternate timeline started to play out, since the writers never really clarified why Sylar's son was named Noah, why they were living in the old Bennet house, and so on. In this fic, Sylar actually is a Petrelli, since he seemed to still believe it in 3x04.
I'm a little hazy on how it all gets started.
All I know for sure is, some time after assigning Sylar to be my partner—in the most twisted rendition of one of us, one of them to date—Angela sends her wayward, serial killer son to Pinehearst to collect his captured brother. When he returns, he has not only a sheepish Peter in tow, but also a certain petite young blonde.
Neither Angela nor I are particularly thrilled to see Elle again, and I immediately have all manner of unpleasant flashbacks to our first (and only) mission together, that one involving Mr. Gabriel Gray. And from the way the two of them act around each other when said former Mr. Gray brings her back to Primatech, it's clear the hearts-and-flowers-and-peach-pie feelings which were kindled during that first mission are back in full force.
I steer clear of any and all details. When it comes to psychopaths playing lovebirds, on a scale of one to ten my interest level hovers somewhere below zero. That said, it wouldn't be entirely truthful of me to say I didn't secretly hope the relationship might just end with the two of them killing each other.
As time passes things settle back into what you might call "status quo" around here. Sylar and I continue to play at a partnership, slowly hunting down the scattered Level Five lowlifes and hauling them back into the fold.
But on one particular mission, I start to get a bad feeling from the moment Sylar steps into the car.
It's obvious his mind is lightyears away from the latest Level Five escapee. He barely says a word when I tersely fill him in on the plan, only giving a distracted nod and a few mumbled comments. He spends the rest of the drive staring out the window, reaching up every few seconds to yank at his tie as though it's strangling him.
Great. Just what I need. A fidgety, unfocused, brooding serial killer on my hands.
My grim predictions come within an inch of being realized when he slips up during the mission and almost allows the other villain to flee the premises—endangering several hapless onlookers in the process. But he snaps back just in time and we get the guy in custody, and no one ends up dead. A success, technically, but the second the situation is under control I whirl on him, letting loose the tongue-lashing that's been threatening to explode all day.
I'm only a few seconds into it—and I can tell he's getting increasingly agitated—when his eyes suddenly snap to mine, and he blurts out possibly the only thing that could actually bring me screeching to complete dumb silence.
I stand there staring at him for a good ten seconds, jaw unhinged, before I finally grind out the only thing running through my head.
"You have got to be kidding me."
So much for my hopes that they would just kill each other. Instead, they go and decide to be fruitful and multiply?
Trust a couple of psychopathic killers not to use contraception.
He stares at me for a long moment with an unreadable expression—not that I bother trying to decipher it. I fix him with another well-practiced withering glare before I turn on my heel and head for the car, tossing over my shoulder, "I hope you're not waiting for me to congratulate you."
It's not until we're back on the road—with the silence smothering and my jaw as tight as my grip on the steering wheel—that I finally glance over at him. "So tell me. What do you think?"
His head jerks a little as he looks over at me, clearly not having expected me to speak to him during the ride back to Primatech. Or maybe ever. "What?"
"What do you think?" I repeat. "About your impending bundle of joy?"
If my tone were any drier it would be the Sahara.
"I'm still just…surprised, mostly," he says haltingly after a moment, brushing off my acerbity as he always does. "She just told me this morning. I'm still trying to process it. I didn't…" He hesitates before continuing quietly, almost more to himself than to me. "I never thought I would be a father."
I give a snort. "That makes two of us."
My eyes stay stubbornly fixed on the road, but I see his head turn in my peripheral vision as he looks at me sharply. "You didn't think I would be a father? Or you didn't think you would be?"
Every line on my face deepens as my mind automatically flashes back almost seventeen years to a cloudy afternoon on a New York City rooftop, to halting Japanese phrases and the weight of a baby in my arms. I don't think I'd be a very good father.
"Both," I finally mutter, my voice tight.
He doesn't say anything more, but it's a long moment before his head turns to look back out the window.
* * *
Apparently, he warms up to the idea of fatherhood fairly quickly. One morning, after several months have passed—and Elle's stomach has begun to pop on her tiny frame—Sylar meets me at the car wearing a grin that's entirely different from anything I've ever seen on his face before.
Sadistic, I've seen. Smug, I've seen. Annoyed, definitely seen that too. But this looks almost…giddy.
"All right, what is it?" I ask, faintly alarmed. "If I didn't know your appetite tends toward…other areas, I would have sworn you've just eaten a canary."
"I felt the baby kick today for the first time," he says, looking positively gleeful. "Elle's been telling me for a few weeks that she's been feeling him—or her—move around, but this morning was the first time I got to feel it myself."
"Sorry I asked," I say with an eyeroll, my brain trying and failing to reconcile this man with the monster who once stood behind glass and goaded me about how sweet and ripe my daughter was.
He still hasn't quit grinning by the time we reach our destination, and as we climb out of the car I raise an eyebrow at him.
"So help me, Gabriel, if you ever try to show me ultrasound pictures, I will put a bullet in your chest. Regeneration or no regeneration."
He only smirks at me, and it's not until a minute or so later that I realize I just called him Gabriel for the first time since our partnership began.
* * *
Baby or no, Angela refuses to re-hire Elle at Primatech. Her enthusiasm level for the pregnancy is only slightly higher than mine, but she does deign to make a few changes, probably at the persuasion of her "long-lost" son. Her attitude towards Elle warms up a notch from frigid disdain to thin civility ("only for the sake of my grandchild, Noah," she tells me once, the slightest pained expression crossing her otherwise stoic face). She also—against my vehement objections, naturally—begins allowing Sylar increased opportunities to roam the facility unsupervised, and even occasionally make trips off the base. He moves out of his Level Five cell and into a significantly nicer room, which he shares with Elle.
He takes advantage of his newfound freedom to spend most of his time with her, which is fine by me—it's easier for me to avoid both of them if they're together in one place. Someone strolling through the facility is likely to see them side-by-side, talking quietly. As the pregnancy progresses, Sylar develops a fierce protectiveness towards Elle and their unborn spawn, often keeping her close with his arm around her waist and his fingers resting against her protruding belly. He shoots death glares at anyone who passes by too close, and you can practically see his nostrils flare and the hair stand up on the back of his neck.
It's almost like watching a nature show about wild animals, actually.
But on one occasion, Sylar and I are in the parking lot, about to head out on another mission when Elle returns from some baby-supplies shopping errand. She hefts her ballooning self slowly out of the Company vehicle that Angela grudgingly requisitioned to chauffeur her around on pregnancy-related trips. Sylar hastens over to her and they murmur sociopathic nothings at each other while I wait impatiently by the car, drumming my fingers on the roof. Finally I occupy my hands by whipping off my glasses and polishing them on my shirt.
Sylar returns a moment later, his hawk-eyed gaze locked on Elle's back as she steps carefully toward Primatech's front entrance.
"I think I understand now, Noah," he says after a moment, eyes still focused on the slightly fuzzy blonde, her diminishing form sharpening after I slide my glasses back on.
"How you feel about Claire," he says softly.
My shoulders stiffen, but he continues. "Do you remember back when my mother first assigned us to be partners, and you were so angry you almost shot me because of what I did to Claire? I thought you were just overreacting, especially since she can't die." He tilts his head, his eyes thoughtful as he watches Elle disappear into the facility. "But now, I understand why you reacted the way you did. If anyone ever tried to hurt Elle or the baby…"
His eyes darken, brows lowering, and he doesn't finish. He doesn't need to.
"It's not the same, though," I counter, narrowing my eyes at him as we get in the car.
"I'm protective of Claire because I love her," I tell him matter-of-factly. "You, on the other hand, are a psychopath. You can't feel love. You don't act protective toward Elle and the baby because you care about them. It's nothing but sheer instinct. You're like an animal that gets defensive when someone encroaches on its territory."
I look over at him with one eyebrow raised, gauging his reaction. He stares silently back at me, and his expression is calm but his jaw is clenched.
"After all this time," he finally says, "you still believe you're better than me? You still think I'm incapable of really feeling anything, even for my own child?"
I shrug one shoulder, flippantly. "This isn't even about me being better than you. This is just about plain and simple facts."
He doesn't answer, doesn't talk or fidget or even look at me the entire time we're on the road. It's not until I pull the car into the parking lot and kill the ignition that he stirs a little in his seat.
"You're wrong," he says quietly, still not looking at me.
"About what?" I shoot back.
"It is the same," he tells me, turning his head to stare me in the eye. "I do care about them. They're my family, and I would do anything to protect them just like you would for yours. You keep telling yourself I'm an animal because you don't want to admit how alike you and I actually are."
"Save it, Sylar," I growl immediately, shaking my head and throwing off my seatbelt, shoving the door open with a little more force than is necessary.
"Don't call me that," he says calmly, following me out of the car. "My name is Gabriel."
I ignore him as I stalk across the parking lot, but it's not as easy to push away the sudden churning feeling in my gut. I tell myself it's just disgust at his words.
But for the rest of the day I keep hearing his voice in my head, repeating ad nauseum something he said to me years ago, just hours after I met him for the first time.
We're quite alike, you know.
* * *
It's just past midnight one chilly evening when the world's most genetically unlucky child decides to begin making his grand entrance.
Of all the nights for me to be staying late to finish up some paperwork, I had to choose this one.
I'm leaning back in my office chair, trying not to fall asleep, when I hear a decidedly high-pitched female shriek echoing from down the hall—a scream of pain mingling with terror. I jerk in my chair and adjust my glasses, paperwork instantly forgotten.
I reach the entrance to Sylar and Elle's room at the same time as one of the night-shift guards, but it's me that Sylar immediately focuses on as he scrambles to the door. "Noah," he gasps, his eyes as wild as his hair. "It's happening—she's in labor. I have to get her to the hospital, now."
I look at him, and a for a second he seems to morph in front of me, changing from a ruthless serial killer to a young and panicked first-time father.
But only for a second.
"What, you don't feel like playing midwife?" I snort, glancing past him into the darkened room. I can just make out Elle's miserable form, huddled on the bed and rocking back and forth, clutching her stomach.
"Noah, please," Sylar resorts to begging. "I don't have access to the cars. You have to take us. Can't you see she needs a doctor?"
"Gabriel!" Elle calls from the bed, voice shaking with desperation and fear. Her cry rises to a scream as another contraction hits, and Sylar's face wrenches into an expression of agony that matches hers.
I mutter a heartfelt curse under my breath.
"Noah!" Sylar implores.
"Fine!" I bark. "Grab her. I'll get the car ready."
My teeth grind together all the way to the garage, and I climb into one of the sedans, swinging it around to the front entrance. The parents-to-be appear a moment later, Elle nearly doubled over in pain, tiny blue sparks popping out from her skin every few seconds.
I take off as soon as they're piled into the backseat, and I can just make out Sylar's murmuring voice.
"It's okay, it's okay. Shhh. You're gonna be okay."
I don't stick around the hospital long after I drop them off, taking the sedan straight back to my house and falling into bed.
The rest of that paperwork will just have to wait.
* * *
When I walk into Primatech the next morning Angela is waiting for me, looking as cool and put-together as always. Clearly, she didn't stay up all night waiting for baby news.
"Noah," she greets me with an inclination of her head, and breaks into the slightest smile. "Thank you for taking up chauffeuring duties last night. It's a boy, by the way."
"Does he have horns and a tail?" I ask, only half joking.
She gives me a look. "I'd like you to take the Haitian and head to the hospital. We have a few doctors and nurses who need their memories altered."
My eyebrows shoot up. "Oh?"
Angela's lips twist wryly. "Elle had some difficulty keeping her power under control during labor. Apparently the pain was…extreme. Don't worry, no one's hurt—Gabriel took the brunt of it. But needless to say, the medical personnel were a little surprised to see lightning shooting out of their patient."
"Understandable," I say dryly. "But why do you need me for that? Couldn't you just send the Haitian out?"
"I could," she says, and one corner of her mouth takes on a decided quirk that instantly leaves me suspicious. "But I thought you might like to meet your namesake."
I blink, my smile freezing in place. "I'm sorry, my what?"
Angela Petrelli doesn't smile often, and when she does, it's generally not a mirthful expression. But right now, she looks as though she's trying her hardest to suppress a full-fledged grin. "They named the baby Noah." She pauses, letting the full impact of her words sink in. "Noah Robert."
"They—" I snap my mouth shut. "This is a joke, right?"
Angela only raises one eyebrow. "Go on, now. The Haitian's waiting."
The Haitian, seeming completely unperturbed by any of this insanity, immediately goes to work as soon as we reach the hospital. I leave him with a glare of pure envy as I make my way to the killers' room and force myself to knock on the door.
"Come in!" calls Elle's voice from inside.
I step inside to see her propped up against her pillows with Sylar by her side and the baby in her arms, and I give the infant a quick once-over. No horns, no tail. Just a wrinkled little face that looks exactly the same as all newborns, and a few tufts of light brown hair.
"Noah," Sylar says, a grin in his voice, "meet Noah."
I cross my arms and look over at him, shaking my head. "This is out of spite, isn't it?"
His eyes widen a little, but their gleam—nothing short of wicked—belies the show of innocence. "Elle and I both like the name. We think it's fitting." He leans over to run one finger over his son's downy head. "Considering how much trouble he gave his mother on the way out, we think he's going to be just as stubborn and determined as you."
"Would you like to hold him?" Elle asks, all sweetness and wide-eyed charm. I don't buy it for a second.
"Not particularly," I say, but I grudgingly lean down to gather the infant into my arms anyway. He opens his eyes as if on cue, and stares up at me unblinkingly. I can't help but think back to the first time I ever held Claire, even though I try my hardest not to.
"Good luck, Noah," I say, and his mouth opens in a little O as though I'm telling him a weighty secret. "With parents like these? You're gonna need it."