Written in the Dark
She never looked at him quite the same ever, ever again.
Claire jumps off a ferris wheel and the world changes forever, and ever, and ever.
There's meetings and news and press and religious groups protesting and a huge coming out that makes Claire Bennet the new post-girl for what the world never knew.
The next time they see each other after that fateful night is actually in the grocery store. She's still tiny, still quite a presence. He watches her peruse the coffee selection for a long bit before coming up behind her.
"I was always fond of Folgers," He says, looking both ways before telekinetically inching a can closer to the edge – the bold blend, "Always a classic."
She doesn't turn around, just peers over her shoulder at him.
His eyes are bright, almost soft. She's so confused by the expression in them she forgets to glare.
"It's Gabriel, actually," He puts out a hand, "Gabriel Gray."
When her small hand fits into his, it begins again.
Gabriel Gray; he goes back to his watch shop for awhile, tucks his powers away to a hobby instead of a lifestyle, and never ever really looks back. Even when he's watching Claire on the 5' o'clock news fighting for rights that will take centuries to gain, he doesn't miss it a bit.
Sometimes he and Peter get lunch at the corner café and talk about things; most often it's each other's professions, or literature, or shared interest in the same music.
More often, these days, Peter talks about Adrianna, this Special he'd met when on the picket line with Claire. He wonders aloud about Emma, and Peter turns crimson.
"It – it, uh – it didn't work out." His eyes are downcast, "She decided to go back to med school – which was perfect for her, really. Adrianna – she's Jay's sister, actually."
"Who's Jay?" Gabriel inquires, and when Peter hesitates, he looks up from his pancakes to peer inquiringly at the other man.
"Claire's fiancé." He finally says.
Gabriel doesn't finish eating after that – his appetite is suddenly completely, utterly, gone.
Claire finds out Gabriel has left New York two weeks after she and Jay calls it off.
When she inquires after him, Peter only raises an eyebrow before giving her an address in Los Angeles.
Specials are being tagged these days – the complete opposite of what Claire had been trying to accomplish nearly seven years prior. It was very much America, much to Gabriel's chagrin – too afraid of what they didn't know.
Like many others with powers, he flies under the radar as long as he can, opening his business in downtown Los Angeles and keeping personal relationships to a minimum.
He opens his mail one day, after jogging a half a mile in the sudden rainstorm that he hadn't been prepared for. The paper is soggy, the ink runs. There's no return address and it's not signed, but he knows exactly who it's from.
I haven't forgotten you, It reads, There's always forever.
He puts it on his refrigerator door, after that.
Claire hates what her mission has become and is very close to hating herself for causing all the turmoil when she gets a letter back.
Forever it is, it says, and she folds it into a tiny rectangle and puts it in her wallet.
Claire is walking right beside Peter when he's killed and it's the most reckless, pointless death she'd had ever been witness to. It'd only taken a drunk driver and poor street lighting and he was gone, slumped over the steering wheel with his lifeless eyes staring at her as she screams.
Nothing works – not trying to transfer her powers or giving him her blood. Later, she'll think it's the most stupid, cowardly way for Peter to die. She'll spend hours being mad at him for it, not caring if it's irrational.
She doesn't make it to the funeral and finds herself on a plane instead.
He expects her sometime, and he's not surprised it's after Peter's gone. Claire has always had a stationary male figure in her life; her father, Peter –
When she shows up at his shop he barely looks up from the old pocket watch he'd been repairing. He knows it's her by her scent, and from the flash of golden hair that curls over his shoulder as she presses herself to his back. He puts down his tools long enough to curl his fingers through hers over his beating heart.
He supposes it's his turn to be the figure now.
"Popcorn?" She asks, rummaging through cabinets, "Chips, Ring Dings? Ice cream? Nothing?"
He's lounging back on his couch, eyeing her scavenging through his cabinets. His book is abandoned the coffee table, face down. He looks at it longingly from his perch.
"No, no – nothing."
"Syl – Gabriel- I don't get it. You have no junk food? At all?"
"No – for the third time."
They glare at one another from across the apartment for a moment.
"Why? You're never going to die, Gabriel. You're not going to get fat. Who cares?"
He shrugs, "There's rice cakes in the cupboard."
Her roll of eyes is very fitting to the 17-year old body she still resides.
"No one eats rice cakes while watching B movies on Sunday afternoons."
He picks up his book, carefully pulling the bookmark out to resume his pace.
"Take it or leave it, Bennet."
He hears, not sees, her pout. He hides a grin between the pages and wonders what the next thousand years will bring.
The past is there, sometimes, hanging them between a hazy, flimsy reminder that a lot has changed. She's often afraid of him, and has nightmares of the dark look in his eyes. Sometimes she doesn't know who he is when they're pouring over a crossword or when he's criticizing her latest beau. He looks the same, down to the rather dark and broody look. He smells the same, too – of warm masculine aftershave and surprisingly expensive hair products.
She can't decide if she likes or hates it sometimes – watching him stay the same as everything around them changes so rapidly.
They're sitting next to one another when James Wan, the current President of Specials and USA United is shot rather publicly. Gabriel's wearing the same shirt, the same exact outfit that he'd been when he'd appeared as Sylar at her college those years ago, and it's in that same shirt she buries her face in to cry into.
"I did that," She says, as his arms tighten around her, "I did that."
He says nothing at first, because she knows he thinks so, too.
Finally, his lips brush the top of her head.
"Fix it, Claire."
And she does.
The new committee is named P.A.S.T., or People Are Specials, Too, a name which Gabriel sincerely feels is cheesy beyond belief, so much so that he tells her that he laughed for an hour after the first press release.
P.A.S.T., though, it targets the new generation, the up and coming college and high school kids; it teaches tolerance and understanding. Just like any sort of movement it's slow coming and there's road blocks and disappointments but the venture is a total positive step to the first attempt Claire had made years ago.
She starts to smile again, and soon, she's out more.
Then there's Eric, who's power includes the ability to control color and light.
Gabriel feels it's more of a pretty ability then a practical one, but doesn't tell Claire how unimpressed he is by her beau. Instead, he pulls Eric aside one day and glowers in a way he hasn't in years and plays the protective male figure, enjoying just slightly how the younger man flinches under the Sylar glare.
Eric is pale and thin and short, with blond hair and dusty gray eyes. He plays guitar without a pick and has a sharp wit and isn't scared to face even the most well-known of adversaries. He stands toe-to-toe with Claire on the picket line and works with grade-school kids, using his powers to capture their hearts.
He's not the first of Claire's boyfriends to rub him the wrong way, but as their relationship goes beyond her usual year expiration, he's the one Gabriel certainly hates the most.
In between re-capturing the world's heart, Claire drops by to make sure he's functioning and doing laundry and not getting to caught up in his own head. She usually appears while he's in the shop and lets herself into his apartment, opening shades and dusting shelves and re-stocking his cupboards with foods and snacks he doesn't eat. Sometimes she's there when he gets home, sitting with a cup of chai at his kitchen island reading through a trade magazine, but sometimes she's already long gone, only the smell of lilies and a short note scribbled behind.
This time it reads:
Get a hobby! A crooked smiley stares back at him, looking childish and empty. He's not sure what to feel so he just slips it under a magnet on his refrigerator, much like the other notes he's received from her.
Later, when she calls with news, he falls asleep on the couch with the sound of her voice in his ear. He dreams, then, of years past and wrongs he never could truly make right.
When he wakes up, his cheeks are wet and there's only a dial-tone in his ear.
He meets Miranda when he finally takes up that hobby.
He starts running to feel the burn in his lungs, and she's in the park, reading one of his favorites on a nearby bench. By the time he passes her for the third time in one week, he introduces himself.
By the end of the month, he's in love.
When Claire stops by, Miranda's there, and she's already done the job of the opening shades and dusting shelves and getting him out of the house once in awhile.
He comes home from the shop that day and Miranda's eyes are an interesting shade of curious.
"Claire Bennet stopped by," She says, "Of the Specials Campaign fame."
Gabriel – he stops and stares at her, unsure of what to say.
"Did she leave a note?" He asks, at loss. Miranda's auburn curls shake as she dismisses the question.
Instead, he writes her.
I got a hobby, it reads, and for once, it's not waiting around for Claire Bennet.
He doesn't hear back from her for awhile after that.
Claire watches, unknowingly, as Gabriel walks hand in hand with Miranda Littleton on a cool day one fall. It's been ten years, three weeks, 2 days and thirty minutes since he'd killed Nathan, and he's still got the same face, same walk. His expression is still grim and he still has a wicked sense of humor. He's Gabriel Gray, he's Sylar.
Now, though, she knows that he hates a lot of technology, that he has nightmares most nights, that he's obsessed with waffles, and that green is his favorite color. She knows he collects stamps and records and actually used to be quite fond of wearing glasses. She knows he misses New York and Peter and in his worst days, he misses Sylar and what his name represented. Mostly, she knows he's found himself finally, and while it'd taken a long time, he was finally satisfied with where he is.
One day, she knows, he'll stand in front of a mirror at his expression and she'll be there, looking over his shoulder. He'll shrug and touch his sideburns experimentally, and they'll talk about things. He'll talk about things he wish he'd had and things he had had, and he may just cry. They'll talk about missing the chance to grow old, and the wish to turn back time and what they think the future will bring.
He'll still prefer books to movies and she'll still cluck at his inability to eat and enjoy junk food. They'll be milestones of the past, portraits of the present, and descriptions of the future.
He'll have married and lost Miranda, whether it be by death or time, and she'll be onto the new man of the moment. They'll touch hands and think maybe, and this time, maybe might be right now.
For now, his hand falls at the small of Miranda's back as they cross the street. She beams up at him graciously and his eyes glimmer with life she hasn't seen him have much of since their tentative friendship had begun.
Tomorrow, she'll send him a letter.
Forever and ever and ever and ever, It'll read in her girlish handwriting, Let's meet in the sunshine, Little Prince.
And next week, she'll get a response.
Rain or shine; only for you.