A/N: So, I'm adding my own touch to the post-Brave New World pile. This will eventually have three major pairings: Pemma (because it's perfect), Clach (because they had me at "do you want a ride on my handle bars?" in the pilot back in September, 2006...I think it was a Monday), and Syelle, because for like four episodes it totally worked, and what she's doing alive will be explained later. Enjoy.
"Hey, sugar, you need some more coffee?"
"Sure, thanks," the young man answered, looking up from his computer screen.
"What you been working on? You've been in here almost every night this week," the waitress pointed out as she filled his cup.
"Oh, I'm just working on…stuff," he replied cryptically. "I have four roommates. It's quieter here."
"I understand, sugar. You just keep on keepin' on."
He sipped his coffee and returned his concentration to the videos on his computer screen. Editing was so much simpler than it had been a mere three years earlier. Three years earlier when he made videos with Claire. Claire. He hadn't really thought of her in the last three years, but she was always in the back of his mind.
A young woman walked in, a raven-haired toddler sleeping on her shoulder. He looked over at her, like most people would, but she caught his attention. She wore jeans, a green t-shirt, and black converse. She reminded him of Claire. She was tiny and blonde, but her eyes sparkled blue instead of Claire's grayish-green. She was also pretty, but in a different, slightly more impish way.
"Hey there, sweetheart," the waitress greeted quietly, careful not to wake up the child. "You need a booth?"
"Oh, no, I don't want you to have to clean up a whole table for me," the young woman replied. "I just need a highchair for him and I'll sit at the counter. He'll probably sleep anyway."
"Okay, sweetie, I'll be right back."
The young woman struggled awkwardly with her child, diaper bag, purse, and coat. He got up from his stool and said, "Here, let me help you."
"Thanks," she said, letting him take the bags from her shoulders. "I guess people are friendlier here than what I'm used to."
"Where are you from?"
"New York, originally, but I've been in California for a while."
"Welcome to Texas," he said, holding out his right hand. "I'm Zach."
She took his offered hand and replied, "Elle, and this sleeping bundle of joy is Mikey."
"Nice to meet you."
"Crazy New Yorkers. They should have never trusted a carnie like that," the waitress said, shaking her head at the report on the television.
"No kidding," Elle muttered.
Zach looked over at her. "You're from New York. You ever seen anything like that?"
"Not in New York," she answered between bites of Tahitian pancakes. "She's right, though. Samuel Sullivan is more dangerous than your average carnie."
"You know who that guy is?" Zach asked, glancing at the man being shoved into a black SUV on the television.
She shook her head. "No, not really," she said quickly.
Moments later, Zach heard a voice he recognized. "Holy shit," he breathed as he looked up at the screen.
"Watch your language, son," the waitress admonished. "There's little ears about."
"It's okay. He's sound aslee—holy shit."
"What are you two carrying on about?" the waitress asked, looking up at the screen. "Oh. That girl does look familiar. Didn't she go to Union Wells when that murder happened?"
"Yeah, she did," Zach said quietly. "She is not seriously doing this."
"What is she doing? She must have a death wish."
"I wouldn't call it a death wish," Elle said, moving closer to the television and standing next to Zach.
"How do you know Claire?" he asked, turning his head to look at the petite blonde.
"Long story," she answered, folding her arms across her chest. "Glasses can't be letting her get away with this."
"You mean her dad?"
Her gaze toward him narrowed. "How much do you know?"
"How much do you know?"
"Oh, my God!"
Zach and Elle looked up at the television screen in enough time to see the former cheerleader swan diving off the top of a Ferris wheel.
"My name is Claire Bennet, and that was attempt number…well, I guess I've lost count."
"No fucking kidding," Zach muttered.
The waitress was on the phone immediately, and paying them absolutely no mind. Elle gasped when the camera whipped around and she caught sight of two raven-haired young men.
"What is it?" Zach asked her.
"Nothing…I just-I thought I saw Mikey's dad," she answered, glancing back at her sleeping baby.
Zach considered her for a long moment. "Do you have a car?"
"Huh? Oh, uh, no, we came in on the bus."
"I'll make you a deal," Zach began after a moment, "I'll drive you to New York if you tell me how you know Claire Bennet, and what the hell could have made her do that."
"Well, Zach, I guess we have a deal," she replied, offering her right hand.
He shook her hand once, slapped a twenty down on the counter, and said, "Let's go."
12 Hours Later…
"You haven't asked any questions."
"I already asked them," he replied. "I figure you'll answer eventually."
"How I know Claire Bennet and especially how Samuel Sullivan could be involved is rather complicated," she explained. "Why don't you tell me how you know the cheerleader first?"
"We grew up together," he answered. "Your turn."
"Okay…you didn't seem too shocked when she got up from a fatal fall and just popped her arm back in place."
"I've known for a while now."
"But you're not—"
"No, I'm not."
Elle laughed slightly. "One of us, one of them."
"That was the rule: one of us, one of them," she explained. "You see, my father helped found a…Company that identified and tracked people with abilities. Claire's dad worked for them and so did I. He was one of us, I was one of them."
Her hand crackled with blue electricity to emphasize her point.
"Nifty," he replied simply.
"Wow, you are the most unaffected normal person I've ever met, not that I've really ever met that many normal people."
"Did you live in a cave or something?"
"Practically," Elle replied. "Claire's dad wasn't super-important in the Company, but he was certainly one of the most experienced. He tried to hide from us, but we caught up with him, of course. That's how I met her. I was trying to kill her father. Maybe I should have warned you: I'm apparently psychotic."
"I'm not afraid of you."
"Okay, maybe you're psychotic."
"If you wanted to kill me, you would have done it already, and you've only answered half the question. What's the deal with the carnival guy? What could he have done to make her do something so irrevocably stupid?"
"Stop trying to sound so mature. You haven't got the face for it."
Zach sniggered. "You're one to talk."
"Well, I've got Mikey. That instantly ages me," she said, glancing at the one-year-old playing with a rattle in a car seat in the back.
"Not really. Now, back to the carnie guy."
"Samuel Sullivan is like your average carnie: he's a manipulative bastard, and he can literally move the earth under your feet," she explained. "There was something else dangerous about his ability, but I never knew what it was, and I don't think anyone else at the Company did either. Do you think we could ride the rest of the way in peace now?"
"Maybe," Zach replied. "Which one of those guys was your baby daddy?"
"That was crude and unnecessary and none of your business."
"Fair enough. It's gonna be a long ride," Zach muttered.
12 Hours Later, Lower East Side, Manhattan…
"What are you doing?" Peter asked, trudging into his tiny kitchen from his bedroom.
"This clock is terrible," the former serial killer said without looking up from his work. "I'm building you a new one."
"I don't really need a new clock."
"I don't really have anything else to do."
"Where did the bagels come from?" Peter asked, motioning toward the box of fresh baked goods as he got a glass down from the cabinet.
"Like I said, I have very little to do. Mrs. Finnerty thinks you're a very nice young man, by the way."
"That's what she told me when I helped her with her groceries after I got the bagels this morning."
Peter squeezed his eyes shut and shook his head as he poured himself some orange juice. This new Sylar/Gabriel Gray was going to take some getting used to.
"Look, I gotta go to the hospital and make sure I still have a job," Peter explained before taking a swig of his drink.
"Okay," Gabriel replied, not looking up from his project. "Um, have you thought about what you're gonna do?"
"About Claire, about everybody knowing about us?" Gabriel asked, finally looking up from the clock in pieces.
"I am going to do absolutely nothing."
"But Claire is your niece."
"Yes, and fortunately my brother never had the balls to admit to that, so I think I'm safe."
"Please shut up," Peter cut him off. It wasn't a request.
Gabriel's shoulders slumped. "Sorry."
Peter rubbed the bridge of his nose and said, "It's not your fault, not really. Look, I gotta go. You should probably avoid police stations or federal buildings with that face."
Gabriel smirked slightly. "I know."
"See ya later."
Mercy Heights Hospital, New York City
"Peter, man, you're back!" Hessam said cheerily, pulling him toward the television in the locker room. "Have you seen this?"
Peter tried to look away as Claire's swan dive replayed on the screen. Instead he just bit his lip and shook his head.
"What?" Hessam asked him. "You think it's some big hoax, right?"
"I don't really know what to think," Peter admitted honestly.
"You okay?" Hessam asked more seriously, turning down the volume on the television. "I mean, I know you and your brother didn't always get along, but losing him must have been hard."
"Yeah, thanks, Hessam," Peter mumbled. "I have to go. I'll see you Monday."
"See you Monday, man," Hessam said, slapping Peter's hand.
"Monday," Peter agreed.
He debated dropping by the file room, or just going straight back to his car. He didn't have to make that decision when a familiar voice called out, "Peter!"
"Hey," he replied, turning around and giving Emma a genuine smile.
"What are you doing here?" she asked.
"I was…making sure I still had a job," he explained. "I do. They still had me on bereavement leave. Is that what you're doing here?"
"Actually, I just turned in my resignation," she replied, shifting uncomfortably.
"Oh," he said, unable to hide his disappointment.
"I'm still going to be here for a couple of weeks, until they find a replacement."
"Oh," he replied, more hopeful, though he really wished he could come up with more than one syllable at a time. "How's your hand?"
"Better," she said, glancing at her bandaged fingers. "My mother sort of went overboard with the bandages."
"She's a doctor here."
Peter laughed sardonically. "Your mother is Dr. Irene Coolidge? Wow, I probably should have figured that out before now."
"Probably," Emma agreed, smiling.
Peter shifted uncertainly. "Um, do you remember that lunch we never had?"
"Yeah," she answered cautiously.
"How about Monday at one?"
"I-I'd like that."
Peter smiled. "I'll see you then," he said, signing simultaneously.
"Bye," Emma replied, smiling girlishly.
Peter turned and walked away from her feeling lighter. When he hit the oppressive New York atmosphere, however, he knew there was something else he had to take care of.
He hailed a cab and slid into the backseat. "Where to, my friend?" the driver asked in a heavy Indian accent.
Peter had to resist the urge to ask a complete stranger if he ever felt like he was meant for something extraordinary. "Seventy-third and fifth, please."
He got out on the Upper East Side and walked up the steps of his childhood home. He hadn't really liked the place when he lived there. He liked it less since he moved out. He knocked on the door and waited. A blonde woman he vaguely recognized from the carnival answered the door.
"Can I help you?"
"No," Peter answered. "I need to talk to Claire."