Title: Not The Same Without a Gun
A/N It's been awhile since I wrote something that wasn't overly depressing, so I thought I might have a little fun. I'm not even really sure if Sylar can get drunk, what with the super-healing and everything, because Claire supposedly can't, but oh well, suspend already suspended reality for a little while. Enjoy!
''Ok—remember the deal. No powers. We're just going to have to rely on luck like everyone else.'' Peter glanced sideways at Sylar, who looked somewhat annerved. The night air was cold. Snow was falling very lightly, flakes landing on the two men.
''Luck?'' he echoed, raising an eyebrow. Luck was not a force typically kind to him. And the thought of having to rely solely on an unfriendly force, without the aid of any kind of ability, made Sylar very wary. He shoved his hands into his coat pockets and shivered.
''Yes, luck.'' Peter replied, almost grinning at the perplexed, troubled expression on his friend's face.
''But—'' Sylar hesitated for a brief instant, then swallowed and continued, ''we'll lose.'' Losing was not an experience he was overly fond of.
Peter sighed, then took hold of Sylar's arm and dragged him toward the front doors of the casino. ''Mostly everyone loses. It's just for fun. See,'' he explained as they moved out of the cold and into the warm, bright lobby, ''it's the chance that you might win that makes it so exciting. And so dangerous.'' He smiled.
3 Hours Later
''You're doing better than me,'' Sylar told Peter, frowning, concentrating hard on the slot machine in front of him. It was making him slightly dizzy. He wasn't sure if this was fun, not being able to control any outcome, leaving it all up to chance or fate. It was simultaneously frightening and liberating. But also, oddly addictive.
''Nah, not really,'' Peter responded. ''I only made about 200 bucks so far. Lost 350.'' He made a face, the way a child might when being forced to eat something disgusting and healthy, like beets. Brushing his longish, unruly hair out of his eyes, he looked at Sylar. The intense concentration in his eyes made Peter want to laugh. He squeezed Sylar's shoulder, leaned closer and whispered, ''Hey, remember, you're supposed to be having fun. You look like you're in pain.''
''I am in pain,'' answered Sylar. ''terrible pain. I lost 200. I only made 79!'' Almost to himself, he said, ''Why do people do this for fun? It's sick. It's like self-torture!''
Peter laughed. He pulled Sylar by the arm and dragged him to his feet. ''Come on,'' he said, ''you need a drink.'' The two men walked over to the bar, Sylar still muttering to himself. He looked phenomenally depressed. They sat down and ordered. The bar was crowded and noisy with conversation. To the left of them were two women, probably in their early twenties. One of them was red-haired, heavy-set and slightly stoned-looking. The other was a petite brunette whose despondent expression mirrored Sylar's.
''How much did you lose?'' Her friend asked her. ''I don't want to talk about it,'' the brunette mumbled and took a sip of her drink.
''All of these people look sort of unhappy,'' Sylar remarked, glancing around. ''But they stay. They keep playing.''
''They're persistant,'' replied Peter. ''They're hopeful. Or, they're compulsive gamblers. Either way, they're human and ordinary. And so are we, right now. Persistant, hopeful, stupid ordinary people.'' The bartender set their drinks down in front of them. Peter raised an eyebrow. ''But we're about to become just a little bit happier.''
Sylar looked doubtful. But his doubtful, perpetually serious expression began to slowly evaporate within the next half hour. Maybe it was the vodka. Or maybe it was the fact that he actually was enjoying being out with a friend, something he hadn't had in…well, forever. And he was becoming fonder and fonder of ordinary people, of their ability to take chances, to take risks without the aid of any special, superhuman ability to make them just a little bit more comfortable, to give them that added edge. Sylar realized that he'd been away from ordinary too long. He'd always been chasing specialness, wanting to run from anything simple and mundane. But specialness, he'd learned, definitely came at a high cost.
And he was also starting to really like Peter's hair, for some odd reason. He kept reaching over and brushing it away from his face, in an attempt to see his eyes better. And then Peter would smile and laugh lightly and smack his hand away, and Sylar was always grateful for the contact. He liked to touch Peter; it made him feel less alone.
''You are probably the worst lightweight I've ever met,'' Peter told Sylar matter-of-factly. ''It's kinda hilarious, actually.''
''No, no, no—I'm not the worst,'' Sylar grinned drunkenly. ''I'm the best, right. One of the good guys.''
''One of the good guys?''
''Yes.'' This was stated emphatically.
''One of the good drunks, you mean?'' Peter teased.
''Er….no…I mean, yes. Yes, I am. I've repented.'' This was like Sylar's new mantra. He was perpetually reminding everyone of this fact, that he was a good person now.
Peter started laughing. He couldn't help it. He couldn't help a lot of things at the moment, like the fact that he was having a great time, or the fact that whenever he could make Sylar smile, when he could force that moody, atoning expression off of his face, well, that feeling made up for all of his losses tonight. And he wasn't even sure why. But there was something so new and childlike about Sylar now, like he was discovering the world and all of the people and sensations in it for the very first time.
''You promise you've repented?''
''I have. You've seen it!'' Sylar's tone was wildly emphatic, almost desperate.
''No, I think you need to prove it to me again.'' Peter signaled the bartender. ''With more vodka.''
''How many more times do I need to prove it?'' The question was an honest, sober-sounding one. It was asked quietly, and very sadly.
Peter took note of the crushed expression on the other man's face and guiltily rushed to explain. ''No, no, listen Sylar, I was kidding. I was just messing around with you. I know you're a good guy. The best guy, in fact.'' Maybe it was the shots talking, but Peter felt like he was telling the god's honest truth. And maybe he was.
Sylar grinned warmly in response. ''You really mean that?''
''Jesus, he's a cheap date, isn't he?'' the petite brunette asked Peter, from where she still sat, mourning her losses. The long-suffering bartender glanced over at the two men and nodded at the girl, rolling her eyes in obvious agreement.
''Mind your own business, Trina,'' said her friend, not even bothering to look up from texting on her cell phone.
''No, I think they're cute.'' The brunette grinned at Sylar, who looked confused.
''I'm a what?'' Sylar asked Peter.
Peter rolled his eyes. ''She thinks you're drunk and cute.''
The girl raised her glass. ''I think you're both cute. You're cute, like, together…'' she set her glass down then and drew weird shapes in the air with her hands, almost as if she were trying to make shadow puppets, ''like as a set, like, you know, those things that hold books up.''
''Bookends,'' her friend supplied in a bored monotone, still texting.
''Yeah, like bookends. I like, think that you guys should hold each other up tonight.''
''Bookends hold books up, dipshit, not each other,'' stoned texting girl explained.
''Mind your own business, Cass. I'm sayin' that they are a lovely couple, and I wish them all the best.'' She smiled at Peter and Sylar.
Texting girl sighed. ''Oh, Jesus Christ''
''We're a what?'' asked Sylar, now working his way through another vodka.
''We're a lovely couple of somethings. Bookends, I think,'' Peter answered, lightly resting a hand on Sylar's back. His hand felt warm.
''Lovely,'' repeated Sylar, looking like he was trying to think about something, but not entirely succeeding. ''Lovely is a lovely word, don't you agree, Peter? I think it is. Lovely, as in, 'this is a lovely casino. Norah Jones sings lovely songs…''
''Norah Jones?'' Peter interrupted incredulously, before bursting into a small fit of laughter.
''…palm trees are lovely,'' Sylar continued, unfazed, ''and your hair is lovely.''
''Oh, good grief.'' Peter coughed, still laughing stupidly. ''Lovely is the last word I'd ever use to describe my hair. And it's certainly the last word I'd ever expect to hear you use. You're trashed.''
''No, I mean it. The way it always falls over your eyes, like you're trying to hide from the world…'' Sylar was becoming alarmingly poetic.
''I swear to god, Gabriel, if you start singing 'Come Away With Me', I'm leaving your drunk ass right here and walking out the door,'' Peter threatened.
''No singing, I swear,'' Sylar promised, holding up one hand.
''Why don't you take him home and have him sing to you?'' the brunette interjected again. The bartender choked back a laugh.
''Trina, leave them alone.'' Stoned texting girl lit a cigarette as she frowned down at her phone.
''What did she say?'' Sylar whispered to Peter. His breath felt warm against Peter's ear.
''Nothing,'' Peter whispered back.
Sylar was quiet for a few moments. He was really beginning to love the way the world was becoming so soupy and colorful, how everything made him want to laugh. He felt a bit lighter, a lot less gray. Peter's eyes were starting to look slightly greener in the light, too, and Peter himself was starting to become almost beautiful.
''You look a little bit like a…like a church,'' Sylar stumbled to explain, resting a hand on Peter's chest, the way he liked to do, because he simply liked to feel his heart beating a steady rhythm, tick-tock-tick-tock like a clock, even for just a few seconds, because it was so comforting.
''A church?'' Peter had been compared to many things in his life, but a church was never one of them. Sylar's hand was still resting on his chest. Peter wasn't sure how he felt about this.
''He wants to have a religious experience in you…'' the brunette supplied helpfully, flashing Peter a wicked, Cheshire Cat grin.
''Thanks, Trina,'' Peter said, waving at her. Looking back at Sylar, he asked, ''What the hell does that mean?''
Sylar tried to figure out the best, most coherent way to explain it. ''Well, because of the way that your eyes look, all sad and deep…''
Out of the corner of his eye, Peter watched as Trina, still obviously eavesdropping, began to mime playing the violin.
''….and you're just this space where you can find forgiveness and guilt at the exact same time.'' Now Sylar pulled his hand away. His dark eyes regarded Peter intensely. Those eyes were terrible. They made you feel like you were drowning and on fire at the same time.
Peter sighed, and stared at his distorted, blurry reflection in the drink set before him. ''You know, Gabriel, if being a hero doesn't work out for you…just promise me that you won't try writing poetry for a living.'' He smiled, though, that lopsided half-smile that was becoming so familiar and comforting to Sylar.
''Come on,'' he said suddenly, grabbing Sylar by the wrist and pulling him to his feet. Peter tossed a couple of bills onto the bar. ''You've had enough for right now, Lord Byron. Let's see if we can get back some of what you lost.''
Sylar swayed clumsily. ''You think I can ever get it back?'' He might have been talking about more than money.
Peter gripped Sylar's arm to steady him. ''I know you can,'' he said.