Disclaimer: If I owned Heroes, this is what would happen. But I don't, so it won't. (And don't sue me.)
Summary: Nathan knew that something inside of him did not belong, but he could never figure out what it was until the dreams started.
Spoilers for all of Volume 4
Nathan Petrelli could feel that something was wrong. Something was always wrong. There was something inside of him that did not fit.
This kind of matched up with the descriptions of depression that he had read, this feeling like he did not belong in his own skin. He thought about how he had stood before his constituents and told them that his brother, Peter had attempted suicide, when he knew that was not true. He did it for himself, to bolster his political career, barely even thinking about Peter's feelings. How ironic would it be if he, Nathan, turned out to be the one suffering from depression?
It did not feel like he was depressed though. He did not believe that this was depression. There was answer to what this was, something other than mental illness, and Nathan felt that he should know what it was, but he just could not put his finger on it.
On the surface, everything in his life was going really well. With the whole Building 26 mistake behind him, he was able to focus on being a senator, on doing the job he had been appointed to do. He had reached out to his family and was able to take the time to just be a father to his two sons. During the last few months, he and Heidi had finally talked about the circumstances that led to their separation, and they realized that they still cared about each other. They were still officially separated, but the divorce had been put on hold indefinitely.
So Nathan had no reason to complain about his life, nothing that he could pinpoint as the reason he felt this way. But something was wrong, and he could not figure out what it was.
In his dream that night, Sylar found Elle waiting for him in the Canfield house. The house looked different. The floor had been repaired and the living room decorated. There was a beachy feel to the room now. The walls were painted a color he thought of as ocean blue, and the bedspread (A bed in the living room?) had shells on it. However, despite the changes it was definitely, recognizably, the Canfield house.
Elle was lounging on the bed, kicking her legs a little, wearing his button-up shirt and boxers. She looked happy to see him walk in, as though she had been waiting for him for a very long time.
Sylar could feel that something was still wrong, and it was not the room or Elle being there in the clothes he killed her in. Something about him was wrong. He felt that he was getting closer to it, but he was still so far away. He looked at his hands and down at his body. He had on a bloody white shirt, but that was not it either. It was not anything about the dream; it was still something on the inside.
Elle got up from the bed. "You're here!" She took his arm and pulled him over to the bed. "Do you like what I've done with the place?"
"Yeah, sure," he said, even though he actually did not like it at all.
Elle pushed him back onto the bed. "So I guess things are going really well for you. I heard you got back together with your ex-wife."
Sylar tried to sit up. "Well, sort of. I mean we're working at it. There's a lot of..." He stopped because he did not think that Elle wanted to hear about this.
She climbed on top of him. "Do you love her?"
"Yes," he said truthfully. "I lost sight of it for a while, but I've always loved Heidi."
Elle cocked her head to the side. "That's so sad." She brought her head down to kiss him. "Because you're going to cheat on her again."
Sylar did not worry about that because he knew that this did not count as cheating. For one thing... And then that first reason was gone, whatever it was. But the other thing, the most important part, was that this was a dream, and it was not like he could control his dreams.
Elle lifted her head. "I think you can control your dreams, Gabriel. I think you're in complete control right now."
Nathan woke up, disappointed. He felt that there was something else she was going to tell him, something important that he needed to hear. He closed his eyes and tried to get the dream back, to get her back, but it did not work. If anything, the dream got further away, and after a minute, he could not even remember how he knew that young, blond girl. She was Elle Bishop, Bob's daughter. She worked at the Company, but they had never met. Had they?
He put his hand to his head. He felt like he was losing his mind. What had that dream even been about? It was something important, and yet, it was just gone. His alarm went off, startling him. He had to get ready and go to work. He did not have time to worry about what his subconscious was trying to tell him.
The next night, the scene was exactly the same. Same house, same walls, same bedspread. Elle was waiting in the same way, like she had been there the whole time. "I see you're back in control," she said.
Sylar did not know what that meant. He walked cautiously over to her and sat next to Elle on the bed. "Well, I am all about control."
Elle smiled, as if at a memory. "Yeah, maybe you are. I seen you both in and out of control, in a lot of different ways, and I have to say that I liked you better when you were in control, especially of the hunger. Which I guess you are now." She laughed wryly. "But my opinion doesn't matter anymore. You're looking for a different kind of control, and that's why you have to fix this, Gabriel."
Sylar remembered again that Elle had the answer to what was wrong with him. He wished she would be more specific. "Fix what?"
She shook her head. "I can't tell you that." After a beat, she added, "But you'll figure it out. I have faith in you."
Sylar wanted to ask her for a hint, but he knew that she would not go for that. He thought maybe it would be more fruitful to trick her into telling him something. It was difficult to figure out how to do that when he had no idea what was even wrong. He tried to piece it together from what she had already said. This had something to do with control, with him not having control. He was in control of the hunger right now. None of this meant anything to him.
Elle watched him as he tried to think this through. "Why can't you think of anything to say to me? Over the six months, isn't there anything you've wished you could say to me?"
That was a good question, but Sylar realized that there was not anything he particularly needed to say. "I haven't really thought about you much since you died."
"You mean since I was murdered. How can that be true?" She did not sound angry or hurt. She seemed genuinely curious about how it was that he had not thought about her.
Sylar was a little curious about that as well. He found it really difficult to believe that she had only been dead for six months. It seemed like much longer. The grieving process had happened, and now it was over. He tried to remember a time when he thought about her more regularly. He remembered setting her body on fire on the beach. He had done it out of respect. He could not just leave her there to decompose or be picked apart by vultures. He needed to dispose of her body himself. So he burned her. He remembered that, standing there, saying goodbye to her, but that was all he could remember. It was as though his mind had put up a firm mental block and was telling him that he did not want to go any further down that road. "Maybe it was too painful to remember."
Elle laughed deeply, like she thought that was just so cute. "That's not the reason. I like it, but no. There's a reason you don't think about me, Gabriel. Once you figure out what that is, maybe you'll know what's wrong."
Sylar was getting frustrated. She knew what he wanted to know. She could just tell him instead of playing these games. He wondered if there was a way to make her tell him. He look at her head. She was already dead; threats were probably useless.
Elle was still smiling. She seemed to be having much more fun with this than he was. "Threats are definitely useless. And not just because I'm dead, but because this is a dream. I'm not even real," she said with laughter in her voice.
Sylar sighed. "So now what? If you aren't going to tell me, where do we go from here?"
"Mmm." Elle stretched and arched her back. "We could go back to cheating on your wife."
Sylar did not think that was the worst idea in the world, but he felt the need to point something out. "It's not cheating; you're not even real."
That sobered Elle up. She stared at him with those mesmerizing eyes. Sylar reached out to touch her face, but she batted away his hand. "It's not cheating because you're not--"
Nathan sat up, feeling much the same as he had when he woke up that morning. It was the same kind of confusion, the same feeling like something important was on the tip of his mind. Something about control. Getting control, being in control, being out of control. Control of what?
Nathan looked at the clock as he lay back in bed. It was still too early to be awake. He had an important day ahead of him, and he needed to be well rested. Dreams come and go. It might be frustrating not to remember, but he was sure that this one was no more important than any other. Nathan fell back to sleep and had unremarkable, unmemorable dreams.
The third night, Sylar was not surprised by what he saw. He was expecting to have this dream again. He could not remember anything specific about the last two nights, could not remember any hints she might have given him, but he remembered Elle.
He walked toward her, wracking his brain to come up with something that might be significant. "So I'm in this shirt." He pulled at his collar. "With the blood, but you're not shot, which happened first."
Elle was sitting cross legged on the bed. She put her hand over the thigh where she had been shot. "Do you want me to be shot? I can be shot." She winced, and blood started to trickle through her fingers.
That was not what he meant. "No, I don't want that." Immediately, the blood was gone.
Elle smiled, pulling her hand away from smooth, unmarred skin. "See, you can have anything you want, Gabriel, as long as you stay in control."
It came back to him now, her obsession with control. "Of what?"
"Of your mind," she answered simply.
Sylar felt like that was more of an answer than she usually gave, but it still did not mean anything. He looked around. "And I can have anything I want." He saw the counter where she popped his shoulder back into the socket and watched that whole conversation play out in his mind. "I can take what I want."
Elle lay back on the bed. "Go for it."
Sylar had not really mean it like that, but there she was, wearing his clothes, looking beautiful. There was no reason for him not to be able to hold her again, if just in a dream. He pushed up the shirt and ran his hand over her bare stomach.
"What I don't understand," she said, "is if I was what you wanted, then... what happened?" She sat up suddenly, pushing him away. "What did I do wrong? I mean, I gave you everything. I forgave everything. What could I have done to make you love me?"
Sylar sighed. He supposed it was a good question. "It's not you, Elle. I'm just not capable of loving anyone."
This made her a little angry. "You love Heidi."
"Nathan loves..." It sunk in. This was what she had been trying to tell him. "Nathan loves Heidi," he repeated. "And I'm not Nathan.
She gave him a sad smile. "I think it's time for you to wake up."
Nathan woke up feeling strongly that something was wrong. That same feeling he had for months was intensifying to the point where he just wanted to rip off his own skin. He got out of bed and went into the bathroom to splash water on his face.
In the bathroom, he looked at his reflection. Something in his mind told him that he knew of a way to rip off his skin. He concentrated on his reflection, on being in control, on fixing himself. He closed his eyes, and when he opened them, Sylar was staring back at him from the mirror.
Sylar felt his face, his face. His hands, his arms, his chest. For the first time in four months, he was Sylar. And he never would have realized it without Elle. He wandered back to his bed, Nathan's bed. He reveled in being able to make that distinction. He lay his head against the pillow. He wanted to go back; he wanted to thank her.
Elle seemed really surprised to see him. She got up from the bed, where she was still sitting. "Wow, twice in one night. I'm a lucky girl." She walked up to him with her head tilted. "I think we're done here, though."
Whatever else he wanted to say flew out of his head. "I've been Nathan for four months. That's why I haven't thought about you. I couldn't remember you."
She raised her eyebrows. "But how much did you really think about me during those other two months?"
Probably not as much as he should have, and he felt that Elle knew that, but he still lied. "I thought about you all the time."
"Really?" She sounded very doubtful. "All the time? Even when you were hitting on Claire? Perfect, indestructible Claire."
He did not think that he should have to feel guilty about that. She was dead; why would it matter to her? Why would anything that happened after her death matter to her? "I just wanted to thank you. After everything I did to you, you still came to help me."
"Whoa." She held up her hand. "This is just a dream. I'm not some kind of angel."
He knew all of that, but he felt that there was some essence of her there. It was not just his mind doing this. There was a remnant of Elle that was a part of him. "Yeah, you are. An angel with a broken watch."
She shook her head, like she did not want to hear that. "You realized a long time ago that that's not true." She created a large ball of electricity with both hands, something Sylar had yet to master. "And all of your victims are part of you, for as long as you have their ability. I'm no different."
She was different. Just the way he had gotten her ability made her different. He put his hands on her arms and pulled her close.
Elle shook her head, refusing to look at him. "This, remembering, it's not going to bring me back. You need to let me go, Gabriel. You should just wake up now."
Sylar opened his eyes. The clock by the bed told him that his alarm would be going off in about ten minutes. He needed to think about what he was going to do with this new development. He had only vague memories of Parkman trying to erase Sylar, and Gabriel, from his mind. It was better to go on as Nathan for now, until he knew how he wanted to handle the people who had done this to him.
Author's Note: There could be more. I have this whole idea about Sylar trying to find a way to bring Elle back. I might even have some thoughts about how he would deal with the others. But I'm busy, I have another story going, and the new volume is starting soon. Most of all, I think I need to let Elle go too. So I don't know if this is going to continue or not. I'm leaning toward no.