AN:I took a page out of the Heroes' writers' book and played it fast and loose with the laws of physics here. If they can make an eclipse last hours and be seen equally well from all corners of the globe, I can exaggerate the power of rubber.
Second Chance Miracle
He walked causally down the street. It was a small town so he was likely to be recognized but it was late enough that there was no one else around to see him. Most of the businesses had closed and, as Sylar headed towards his destination, the only crowd of any sort he found was teenagers inside a diner. He kept to the opposite side of the street, turning at the next corner. From there it was only a few short blocks to the apartment building. The address had come from a man in a nearby town, eager to save his own life by sacrificing someone else's. It hadn't saved him.
As he came up the street he saw a woman struggling with her many grocery bags as she tried to open the door. He jogged up the steps and gallantly opened it for her, flashing a smile as he did. She blushed, muttered a quiet thanks, and hurried inside. Sylar waited several ticks before following.
The apartment he was looking for was 4D, it was at the end of its hall with a view of the street and the side alley. He paused outside the door only a moment, listening to be sure that the sounds of life were coming from that apartment instead of another one. Water was running somewhere and dishes were clanging together. Over that was the TV, loud, the sound effects indicative of a cartoon show. Laughter sounded and Sylar smiled. A little boy.
He tapped into his new power and stepped easily through the door. The entryway was small, a closet directly before him and the opening to the living room on the left. A decorative window was between the two and around the frond sitting there he could see into the kitchen where the mother was washing dishes, her back to him. The boy sat on the couch, legs crossed beneath him, holding his ankles and rocking back and forth wildly as he laughed. The sound on the TV decreased slightly and the boy tilted his head back. His mother came into view, her pale hair falling around her face as she looked down at him. He smiled brilliantly and she leaned down to kiss his forehead before returning to the kitchen.
Sylar impulsively decided to start with the mother. The boy would probably scream but she might keep quiet in hopes of saving her son. He stepped through the wall separating him from the kitchen and crossed the distance to the sink, wrapping his arms around the woman and pulling her to him. He kept his hand clamped firmly over her mouth as she clawed at him through her rubber gloves.
"Quiet," he ordered and she stilled momentarily before fighting once more, "you wouldn't want your son to be frightened, would you?"
Her heartbeat had increased dramatically when he spoke, giving him a slight thrill.
"Come on," he said quietly, holding her tighter in an effort to stop her struggles. She wasn't doing any damage, was actually so frantic that she was only succeeding in nearly pulling her gloves off. He pulled her towards the doorway, intent on taking her further into the apartment where the boy was less likely to stumble upon them. He lifted her up with one arm, noting the way she fit against him, just as one of the gloves fell to the floor. She grasped the arm holding her mouth with her bare hand and electricity shot through him. It was so unexpected that he fell back with a cry. Because they'd been touching she was shocked too, but recovered before he did.
"Noah!" she cried as she ripped away her other glove. "Run! Now!" She stood in the doorway, blocking what she thought was his only way to the boy, and turned to face him. He could only stare up at her dumbly.
"Elle?" he asked.
"I'm not going to let you hurt him," she said, lightning crackling in her palms. His confusion cleared as she let it loose and he threw her back, wincing as her power surged through him, touching his heart. God, he'd actually missed her killing him.
Slamming into the wall didn't even seem to phase her and she lashed out, hitting him again and sending him sliding along the tiled floor. He hit his head against the oven with so much force he dented it. As he shook his head to clear it his eyes fell on the discarded rubber gloves. He grabbed them swiftly and threw Elle back again, this time following it up himself, grasping her sparking hands in his own gloved ones.
"Stop!" he demanded, mentally forcing her head back in an effort to disorient her. Her eyes clouded over and he took the moment to study her.
It was definitely Elle, same eyes, same nose, same mouth. If he hadn't been holding her he would have touched her forehead. There wasn't even a scar. Of course, he knew of ways to take care of things like that, but all of them would have required that someone save her and he could think of no one who would have. Despite his concerns the question he asked when Elle's vision cleared had nothing to do with her miraculous survival.
"You named him Noah?"
She struggled against him once but he held her fast. When she didn't answer he cocked his head to the side.
"Is he Noah's?"
Her eyes widened and a look of revulsion crossed her face. "No!" she yelled, lightning flaring in her palms. It didn't get through the thick rubber of the gloves but he could feel the heat and wondered how long before she melted through them.
He waited until she calmed down before asking quietly, "Mine?"
Fear flashed in her eyes and he thought he saw a charge flare between her eyelids. "If you go anywhere near him, I swear --"
He pushed her harder against the wall. "You think I'd kill him?"
"You killed me," she said simply.
"I didn't know you were --" He sighed heavily and almost leaned his head into her shoulder before realizing she could shock him if he did. "What have you been doing all this time?" he asked, glancing at the apartment.
She let out a laugh. "I've been raising my son."
"Our," he amended.
"Mine," she said vehemently. "He's never going to know his father is a killer."
He smiled incredulously. "And what about his mother?"
She met his challenging glance and his smile widened, but it fell when she turned away. "Kill me if you want," she said without passion, "just leave Noah alone."
He studied her calm profile. There was no fire in her words, her expression, only quiet conviction.
"You're serious?" he asked.
"Promise," she said suddenly, facing him, "promise me you'll never see him again, never go near him." There was the spark he remembered, though he didn't much like the direction she was going. "Please, Gabriel."
The way she said his name sent a shock down his spine and he wanted nothing more than to find the bedroom and drag her into it, but something nagged at him.
"Can I kill you?" he asked.
She closed her eyes. "I don't know," she said truthfully. "I've healed from little things ever since that night, but I've been too afraid to try anything bigger."
"Huh," was all he could think to say. After several beats he let her down and stepped away. She flexed her hands but didn't use her powers so he pulled the gloves off. "Extra thick," he remarked, handing them to her.
"Can't be too careful," she said.
"So, does he have invisibility or superspeed or something?" Sylar asked, glancing around.
"You are not going to meet him," Elle said angrily, poking him in the chest. "You are going to leave while I look for him."
"You don't know where he is?"
"Of course not!" She pushed past him angrily. He followed a step behind, closing and telekinetically locking the door behind him. "If I told him a place to meet me after an attack a telepath would be able to find him through me. He's just supposed to hide."
"And how well has this method worked in the past?"
"This is the first time we've ever been in trouble. Well -- since he was born, anyway."
He waited one flight of stairs before asking, "Are you going to tell me the story behind that or --?"
She let out a ragged sigh of annoyance and he only grinned. "Bennet found me a few months after you killed me."
"Mistakenly left you for dead," he amended. "And he didn't kill you?"
"I'm sure he would have if I hadn't been pregnant."
Sylar grabbed her arm as they reached the street, turning her to face him. "What's his power? Could he be using it to hide?"
Elle avoided his gaze, craning her neck to see up and down the street.
"He has mine, doesn't he?"
The way her muscles tensed under his hand was all the answer he needed.
"What do you think's gonna happen?" she asked, looking at him finally. "We're just gonna be one big happy family? Even if you really wanted that, it's never going to happen."
He opened his mouth to ask if she really wanted that but she continued.
"Between the two of us we have so many enemies … what do you think will happen if anyone ever finds out that Sylar has a son? You think they're just going to let that go?" Her voice was rising with each word, betraying the fear threatening to spill over if they didn't find Noah soon. He touched her face, running his hand gently from her temple down along the curve of her cheek. At first she tried to pull away but he still held her arm. When she closed her eyes, silently giving in to the comfort he was offering her, he smiled.
Lights flashed, casting blue and red on the dark street. Sylar released her, stepping away as the sheriff's car came closer.
Elle gasped, her eyes flying open, before the reality of the scene descended on her and she turned to see the car. Sylar may have disappeared, but he was definitely still there, watching.
"Laurel!" Frank called as he stopped the car and climbed out. "You'll never guess who I found running down Cypress." He opened the back door and Noah came out, streaking towards her with tears running down his cheeks.
"Mommy!" he gasped before she lifted him up into her arms, holding him tight and shushing him gently.
Frank approached them slowly. "You wanna tell me what's up?"
"Oh, Frank. Not tonight, please."
"Laurel," he said slowly, "this doesn't look good."
Elle stiffened, knowing she had to come up with an excuse for Noah's behavior. If she said there was a break-in Frank would come up and, as much as she'd prefer not to be alone with Sylar, the sheriff would probably be dead before he took two steps into the apartment. Finally she said, "Noah's F-A-T-H-E-R found us tonight."
Frank touched her arm gently, his eyes clouding with worry. "Did he hurt you?" he asked, looking to Noah meaningfully.
"No," Elle said, feeling a possessive pressure at the small of her back. "We're fine," she added, forcing a light tone. "He's gone."
Frank frowned, glancing up at the apartment building. Elle was instantly thankful that her short battle with Sylar hadn't broken any windows.
"All the same," Frank said, adjusting his hat, "I'll come check on you later. If that's all right?"
"How about in the morning? I think we both need some rest."
Frank nodded. "I'll be sure to drive by though, make sure no one's hanging around who shouldn't be."
"Thank you," Elle said sincerely and headed up the steps with Noah still clinging to her neck. Frank followed her, opening the door so she could more easily get inside and she gave him a smile. She didn't dare look over her shoulder as she headed up to her apartment, knowing that a glance back at Frank would only endanger him.
When she reached the apartment she was unsurprised to hear the lock click open and the door swing in, seemingly of their own accord.
"Sweetheart," she said, carefully pulling Noah away so that she could look at him, "are you all right?"
He nodded. "What happened?"
"It's complicated, sweety. But you did the right thing. You ran when I told you to and I'm so proud of you."
His fear faded in the face of her praise and he beamed up at her.
"Now, I think it's time for bed."
He whined, but seemed to know that taking his usual half hour to get ready wouldn't be appreciated today. She watched from the hall as he brushed his teeth, then tucked him in under his airplane bed sheets. She promised to keep the light on in the hall and to tell him a story in the morning to make up for tonight. She felt Sylar brush past her when she headed for the door and he was leaning casually against the back of the sofa by the time she got it closed. She gave him her best glare, the one she gave Noah when she stepped on a toy he'd forgotten to pick up.
After a long silence he asked, "Laurel?"
She let out a slow breath and marched towards him, changing her route at the last second to grab up the rubber gloves. She scoffed at him as she turned away, heading into the kitchen to finish the dishes.
"I'm gonna need a new oven," she sighed when she saw it. The dent in the door was considerable.
The water in the sink was cold but she didn't want to wait for the sink to refill, she had too much anger to burn off to stand doing nothing. There was a dull crack behind her and she realized Sylar had fixed the oven. She bit back her anger, rationalizing that as much as she hated accepting his help she didn't have enough money to buy a replacement.
His hands came around her, sliding down her arms to grip her gloved hands under the water. He pressed against her, his body molding closely to her own. She took a shuddering breath, trying to force herself not to think about how much she wanted to turn around.
"It's cold," he said in her ear, his breath on her cheek making her shudder. Light glowed beneath the suds and the water warmed. "There, much better."
"Stop it," she said tightly.
He squeezed her hands and rested his chin on her head. "Why didn't you find me?"
"You killed me."
"And yet here you are."
"Don't," she said, twisting away from him. "Don't use your master manipulator tone with me."
Sylar grabbed an apple from her fruit bowl and tossed it from hand to hand. It would have seemed lazy, detached, but she didn't miss the way his eyes moved to her every time the apple reached the apex of its arc.
"I'm just wondering how you can be alive."
"Maybe someone who owed my father found me and brought me back, maybe the eclipse had something to do with it, maybe it was Noah -- I don't know!"
"Maybe I did it," Sylar said quietly.
Elle slowly pulled off the gloves, deciding that she wasn't going to get to her dishes while he was here. "And then you just left me?" she asked sardonically. "That's not much better."
She moved into the living room to clean up the toys Noah had left strewn about and could feel Sylar following her.
"It did occur to me," she said, toying with the ears of a stuffed rabbit. "It's possible, given what you can do." She nearly gave him a smile. "But even if you did, it doesn't change anything."
Elle lifted the bunny. "Noah."
Sylar's face was a picture of disgust. "Why did you name him that?"
She shrugged, tossing the bunny into the box at the side of the room. "I told you Bennet found me. He let me live. He may have been a jerk, but he was always a family man. Noah could have a worse namesake."
Sylar looked away, towards the hall. His son was sleeping in that tiny room under sheets that were clearly secondhand. He could probably count the number of firsthand items in this apartment on his fingers. Clearly Elle had meant it when she said they couldn't just take what they wanted anymore, she had worked for everything here.
"When was the last time you used your powers?" he asked. "Before I got here," he added quickly, cutting off her snide remark before she could start.
She smirked at him and for a moment it was the old Elle standing there. "Winter. Noah had to go to the emergency room and between that and Christmas presents and things being slow at the diner there wasn't much money left so I saved a bit on electricity. Not much, just the microwave and the light in my room. Oh! And I used an emergency generator for the TV for a couple weeks."
A smile tugged at Sylar's mouth when he heard the laughing pride in her voice, it had been hard for her but she was making light of it. His smile faded abruptly and he asked, "He was in the ER?" his voice raw.
"Yeah, he fell, cut his head. He's fine. He didn't lose consciousness so the doctor's sure that he's fine." She didn't tell him that the cut on his head needed to be cut again so it could be cleanly stitched. Seeing a man cutting into her son's forehead had awakened her deepest fears -- which were now standing in her living room.
"What did you tell him about me?"
Elle paused, surprised by the question, before shrugging. "I told him that his father repaired watches."
He nodded, seemed to accept that. "What about why I'm not here?"
"He hasn't asked yet. I'm debating between killed himself and killed by a serial killer. Though, I think the second one might just be setting us up for some horrible Star Wars-like future." She said it like a joke but neither of them so much as smiled. "I think it's time you go," she said.
"I don't have to. We could be a family, you know."
She smiled and approached him, running her hand down his arm to take his hand. "We could. But for how long? People will come looking for you, Gabriel, and then what will happen to Noah?" She rose to her tiptoes and pulled his head down to meet her. "People like us don't get happy endings."
He closed his eyes sadly and she kissed him, pulling away before either of them could deepen it. He grabbed her hips, keeping her from backing way further.
"I'm going to save the world."
"I mean it."
She smiled coyly up at him, knowing she shouldn't encourage him but unable to help herself. "From what?"
He shrugged. "Whatever it needs saving from. There's always something. And then I'll do it again and again and eventually I'll have enough friends that we'll be safe from the people who hate us."
She shook her head. He'd be sawing someone's head open by the end of the week.
Reluctantly he let her go and she stepped back, gesturing towards the door. He went, with her following close behind. She watched from the doorway as he headed for the stairs.
"Hey," she called. He stopped, turning back. "If it makes you feel better, his middle name is Grey."
Gabriel smiled and she couldn't help but return it.
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