Title: This Night
Disclaimer: Yup, I'm sure they're not mine.
Spoilers: Post- Brave New World
Summary: One-shot. After murdering a man, Claire goes to the one person who can help her cope.
A/N: When I heard the song This Night, by Black Lab I couldn't get this idea out of my head. So here's the result! Huzzah, for bad days and great music!
A/N 2: All mistakes are definitely mine as it is past 1am on a Wednesday morning and I am definitely a little bit intoxicated. Woot! :)
With a wave, Peter exited the apartment. He mentioned he hoped to return around 8am, but Sylar was doubtful with the recent troubles that had popped up over the last year. Violence was more common nowadays, especially amongst those who had powers.
Settling into his chair, Sylar opened up his book with every intention of finishing it.
However, a short while later, a knock at the door proved him to be very wrong.
Sighing, Sylar put his novel down and opened the wooden door, not expecting the guest standing behind it.
"Claire?" Though he was genuinely surprised to see her there, the question in his voice referred to her physical appearance. She was soaked to the bone. Her stringy hair dripped and rain water rolled down her pale face. The dark circles under her eyes were sunken in as though she had not slept in weeks. Two weeks ago she had stopped by the apartment and she had been full of lively laughs and smiles; despite the significant stress added to her life. Now here she stood dull and sickly, if the latter were even possible. "Why are you all wet?"
She barged past without an invitation, rubbing her left hand incessantly, almost scratching at the skin. "I've been waiting outside." Her eyes all around the apartment, not focusing on one space for very long. Sylar couldn't take his eyes off her nervous form as he shut the door. At the clack of the wood connecting with the jam Claire jumped, spinning to look at what caused the noise. Sighing in relief she rubbed her forehead to calm herself.
He figured that a blind man could see the tension coiled all throughout her body. "Peter isn't here. He's working the night shift."
"I know," Claire stated in a voice that was stronger than she looked. "I waited for him to go to work before coming up."
Sylar raised an eyebrow. That meant that she had waited to talk to him, but why? Water was forming a puddle where she stood fussing with her hand again. She starred at him with empty eyes, opening her mouth occasionally to say something, but deciding against it each time. Deciding to give her time to gather her thoughts, he began to walk past. "Let me get you a towel –"
"You've killed a lot of people."
It wasn't a question, just an unnecessary affirmation while she struggled to reach her point. It stopped him in his tracks at any rate. "I have."
"Can you remember them all?"
"Most of them."
"Do you still think about them?"
His gut twisted at their memory, but it didn't show on his face. "Daily."
"But you didn't always." Claire removed some hair that was stuck to her cheek as she began to pace. "You used to not care."
"Not a bit."
"Didn't it ever bother you then? Knowing that you robbed someone of their life? No matter how cruel they were?" She was no longer talking to him as she starred off into the distance, losing herself in her own thoughts as she walked back and forth. Sylar remained where he was, tilting his head as he observed her frantic pacing. "Did you ever think about what kind of life they had? What may have happened to them if you hadn't cut their potential short? Ever think if they had a family? If they had children? Oh, God…" She leaned against the wall and brought her shaking hands up to cover her face. Her entire form trembled as tears rolled down her face.
When she began to slide to the floor, Sylar snapped out of his own motionless trance. Grabbing onto her shoulder before she slid far, he wrapped a strong arm around her shoulder to support her to the bathroom. Keeping a hold of her for a moment longer to be sure she would sit up, he left her on the edge of the tub to fetch a towel. Shutting the linen door he glanced into the bathroom to observe her listless, broken form.
It ate away at his heart.
Swallowing a lump in his throat, Sylar stopped by his room to grab something new for her to wear. Not even sure if she would wear the clothes, he returned to her to find Claire staring into space scratching at her left hand.
"Here," he said, holding the sweats directly in front of her face. As though on autopilot she slowly reached up to take them, eyes not moving to look at him. "You can change and hang your wet things here." When she didn't make any indication she heard, Sylar heaved a heavy sigh before leaving the room. He closed the door to give her some privacy, returning to the left side of couch to try and read. The words on the page didn't register with his mind as he continually glanced at the bathroom door.
From Claire's instability and bizarre questions Sylar had already inferred what she had done, but he needed to hear her confess it. He could not imagine what drove her to do such a thing. Was she attacked? Provoked? Was it an accident? Who else knew?
Thumping the book down on the coffee table he grunted and leaned back to rub his eyes. The thousands of worrying thoughts that passed through his brain nearly reawakened the monster inside him.
In the past year he and Claire had become closer. He had been one of the few people who supported her rash decision to dive off the Ferris wheel. And no matter how much she hated him before, Claire was not so petty to push away support when it was really needed. Usually he was around when she dropped by once a month to visit Peter for a catch up dinner. Though he at first kept his distance, but at Peter's insistence he joined in their talks. Sylar sensed her resistance at first, but as the months continued their relationship moved into something she might call acceptance, and he would call a friendship.
Without warning, the bathroom door creaked open and out came Claire. Her zombie like form wandered to the couch where he sat and she settled in the middle cushion just beside him. Once again she starred into space, the never ending quiet tears streaming down her cheeks.
Leaving her be for the moment, Sylar went to get a glass of water. While the glass filled his eyes shifted to look at Claire and her deadened expression.
And that just made it hurt even more.
Returning to the young woman he gave the glass to her, squeezing her hands around it to be sure she had a firm hold. Her empty gaze did not change as she sat there holding onto the glass. Sighing once more, Sylar flopped onto the cushion to her left. He patiently sat, waiting for her to move or speak, and simply looked at her.
Sylar remained leaned back attempting to appear relaxed, but her stillness combined with the nonstop hand scratching made it difficult. He was determined to let her speak first. Theirs was a shaky relationship as it was and he wasn't about to frighten her off by filling the air with unnecessary chatter.
"I killed a man."
He had been right. "When?"
"Four, wait what time is it?" Claire reached across to grasp his wrist to see his watch, her fingers ice cold on his skin. "Five days ago." When she let go her fingers resumed their clawing.
Setting the glass on the table, the scratching on her hand intensified as her skin started to bleed. "He's dead, what does it matter how –"
Unable to stand it anymore he whipped his hand out. "Stop that." His tone was firm, not harsh. "You came to tell me about this so now you can deal with my questions; how did you kill him?"
Claire threw him a glare as she ripped her hand away from him. He never thought he'd be so glad to see that look from her again. Flipping her hair back, she desperately looked everywhere but at him. Sylar was sure to keep his eyesight locked on her. "Do you remember that reporter who kept following me around?"
Of course he remembered the asshole. Pat the Twat, as Peter so fondly called him.
"He's been hounding me for weeks to give him information on other specials. But, even now, I am not going to betray those who trusted me with their secret. Anyway, Pat figured out I knew more than I let on and called me to arrange a meeting at the river. Like an idiot I accepted." She took a moment to wipe her nose with the back of her hand before continuing, voice shaking more than before. "He had a file about Dad. It had credible information linking him to multiple deaths over the past few years, including Nathan's, Nikki's, and a few other's you committed." A slight stab of guilt entered him, but Sylar allowed her to continue onwards. "I couldn't let him go through with the story, so I grabbed the file and ripped it to little pieces before throwing it into the river.
"When I started to go he got so mad he grabbed my arm and hit me in the face." Her hands ghosted over where he touched her. Sylar felt an angry boil in the pit of his stomach. "He started leave and I knew he was going to use the information anyways and I was so angry and scared and before I knew what I was doing I picked up a rock and hit him in the head with it." Claire mimicked the blow with her left hand shaking intensely.
A protective urge flared inside him, but he knew he had to make her go through this. He didn't want her to have to suffer anymore than she had. "How many times?"
The question jolted her out of her trance and she looked at him as though surprised by it. Closing her eyes she bobbed her head as she mentally counted. "Four. One to his knees, two on the ground, then three and four because I couldn't stop."
"How did you feel while you did it?"
"Awful, guilty –"
"Wrong," he interrupted sharply.
Her head jerked in his direction. "You don't think I feel bad?" she asked infuriated, voice cracking unlike anything he had ever heard.
"I asked how you felt as you were bashing his brains in." Claire was like him, to get over the trauma she had to face the truth straight on. It was the best chance for her to begin to forgive herself.
It had worked for him.
Claire blanched, knowing she had been caught. She swallowed as though she were trying to not vomit at the memory. Ashamed, she weakly rasped out, "Elated, alive, relieved." She gasped as though in pain and it cut him to the core. Turning to face him she grasped onto his shirt as though grounding herself to something. "But it only lasted for a second and once I realized what I did I could hardly stand to be myself. And ever since I feel like my entire body is being split in two. I've never hurt this badly in all my life. I've wanted to feel pain for so long, but now all I want is for it to go away."
Sylar used both arms to pull her into an embrace. He tucked her head under his chin, rubbing arm as she sobbed. Warm tears seeped through his shirt as she buried her face into his chest. Her normally tiny frame seemed all the smaller when in his arms.
"I don't want to end up like you."
Her quiet confession might have hurt him, made him angry; but Sylar just grinned and put his face into her hair. The reason she came to him was to reassure herself that her immortality wouldn't make her dead inside. "I tried for a long time to turn you into a coldblooded killer. I have some perspective on your psyche and I can guarantee that you are incorruptible," he assured with a little laugh.
"I'm scared that I won't feel this in a hundred years time," her voice croaked between the tears. "You're immortal and you killed a lot of people without feeling any guilt."
"You have people in your life, Claire." The noisy cries subsided to hiccups, but she didn't move. "People who care about you and will want to help you no matter what happens."
"Who cares if people care about me? What does it matter? Pat is dead and I murdered him."
Her response was barely understandable underneath the heavy sobs and cracking throat. He petted her hair, enjoying the closeness that she unintentionally offered. "How many times have you tried to kill yourself? Or, I guess, how many times have you succeeded?"
Her head bowed more downwards. "Enough."
"You still have guilt, empathy, emotions that make you care about people. Embrace those." Sylar's hands moved along her head and moved down to her arms, feeling her relax more and more into him. "I was serious when I told you people care about you too, and they won't care what you've done. Noah, Peter, your roommate, your mom, your brother." After a pause, he tilted his head adding, "Mr. Muggles."
Claire's melodious laugh was a blessed relief to his ears. She leaned back just enough to look at him, a hint of a smile forming on her features. "Good to know that Mr. Muggles is on my side."
"He is the number one on your list." She giggled once more before settling back against him. Rubbing her arm once more, Sylar decided to take the opportunity to continue with honesty. "You have me, too. None of us want to lose you. Ever."
All motion from her froze as he said those words. Fearing he may have crossed a line, Sylar remained perfectly still as Claire moved to look at him once more. Her eyes glistened with unshed tears and a bit of curiosity. Surely she would push him away, get up and go, tell him to leave her alone, lecture him on how his confession was perverse.
What he certainly did not expect was her lips against his.
There was the soft feel of her lips against his and in no time her hands captured his head, catching her fingers around his hair. He couldn't even process what was happening. He responded eagerly, capturing her mouth in kiss after kiss after needy kiss. Both of Claire's hands grasped his head in attempt to deepen every contact and he was more than happy to comply. A bit stunned, his hands remained by her arm where he had been stroking and on her knee to try and calm her.
Unexpectedly, Claire slid onto his lap and was the one who moved his hands. The left one she placed by the hem of her sweatpants, adjusting it just under her sweatshirt, while the right one she placed on top of her right breast. He knew she needed the physical contact.
His left hand stroked over the smooth flesh by her belly, just before his left thumb flicked underneath the elastic of the pant waste line, moving more south with every little motion. His right hand squeezed her breast and fingers flicked over her nipple through the fabric, causing her to moan in pleasure. That throaty moan did unspeakable things to him. At the same time Sylar wondered if he would be able to control himself, especially with her hips digging into him like that. The hiss he responded with promised that he would not.
His mouth roamed hers with little guilt as she pulled him closer. Sylar nipped and bit at her lips, her neck, as his hands wandered over her writhing body.
But the more skin he touched, the more he felt the truth.
She wanted to forget her transgressions.
And that he was the perfect way to do that.
Placing a lingering kiss on her one last time, inwardly relishing the smacking sound their lips made and the heat that rolled off her body, Sylar ripped his head away from her vice grip. Her confused and hurt face was one that he was not likely to forget for a long time. "Stop." His command was far stronger than he physically felt.
"What's wrong?" she questioned breathless, lust dancing in her eyes. Sylar took pride in knowing that he was the one who made her this way. Claire rolled her hips again over his ready crotch, eyebrows knit in confusion. "I thought you wanted to do this?"
"I do," he nodded, swallowing deeply, somehow finding the strength to state the next sentence. "But you don't. Not really. Not right now."
Her eyes lit a fire while on top of him. In one smooth movement Claire got off of him and headed towards the door. Somehow Sylar managed to grab a hold of her sleeve, his sleeve actually. "Let me go," she demanded, hurt and rejection flaring through every part of her body.
"No," Sylar commanded. "Sit back down." She resisted, tugging against the fabric he held until he pointed out, "I can make you, you know."
With a pout, she sat back down with crossed arms.
"You know I tried to commit suicide after I killed my first man."
Curious eyes ticked in his direction and Claire unknowingly turned towards him a little more.
"Then why did you keep murdering people?"
"Because my support was a lie," he admitted tersely, remembering bitterly how Elle had used him. "Yours completely understands and believes in you. No questions asked. They'll never betray you, Claire. None of us will."
The crying commenced as Claire once more buried her face in her hands. Assuming she would push him away in a matter of seconds, Sylar took the opportunity to reach out and hold her. Instead of pushing him off Claire leaned into his embrace, clutching into his shirts material. Her head cradled into his chest and he could feel her hot tears dampening his shirt again.
Not certain of how much time lapsed, Sylar continued to pet her hair as she wept against him. The shaking shoulders eventually ceased and he was certain their heart to heart was soon coming to an end, but Claire didn't move. Risking a peek down at her, he saw that she had fallen fast asleep.
Picking her up, Sylar carried her sleeping body to his bed. Tucking her in, he left the door open just enough to hear her; fully intending on sleeping on the sofa. However, as he was getting a blanket to sleep on the couch, he heard her yelling out. Returning to his room, he saw Claire tossing and turning and crying out in fear. Going to her side, he placed a hand on her forehead, stroking back the bangs that had fallen into her face. Her whimpering ceased, but by the time he made it to the door her distress flared up once more.
Sylar understood her pain. She was seeing her victim over and over and over again. No rest would come to her as long as she would see that face.
Slipping under the covers with her, Sylar laid next to her. Every time Claire would make a noise he would caress her arm and squeeze her hand.
Before long, the pair of them fell into a deep, restful sleep.
The first in quite awhile for both.
Sunlight drifted into the room blinding Sylar as he blinked out the light. Twisting his fingers in midair he closed the blinds. Rubbing his eyes he suddenly remembered the slumbering figure next to him. During the night her head had come to rest on his shoulder and an arm had been draped against his chest. As she inhaled and exhaled a small pieces of hair sucked to her mouth and blew away. Sylar smirked at the motion, tucking the hair behind her ear, hand lingering on her warm skin. He could not recall the last time he had been this close to a person both mentally and physically. Even under the upsetting circumstances, last night had been nice.
At that moment Sylar's eyes ticked away from her face to the timepiece on his nightstand. 7:37 was the proper time and he knew it to be correct as he had built the clock. Though he wanted nothing more than to remain in bed with Claire, Peter would be home soon. No matter how strong their relationship had become, there was no way he would be able to ignore any man in bed with his niece.
Scooting out of the warmth had been difficult and the small sigh that escaped Claire made him want to crawl right back in. Instead logic won in his mind as he got up, showered, changed, and retreated to the kitchen to make tea. While the drink steeped he heard a noise, but ignored it until he saw a golden figure rubbing her hair in his doorway. Claire was wearing the clothes she arrived in, sans the jacket. She rubbed her tangled hair with her left hand and his sweats were in her right. The dark circles under her eyes had faded significantly and she appeared somewhat refreshed. Last night was probably the first time she had slept well in a week.
Her sleepy form never had looked more gorgeous.
She awkwardly handed the clothes to him. "Where's your jacket?"
Rubbing her hair some more, still sleep deprived, she mumbled sleepily, "It's still wet."
Accepting the pants, Sylar offered her the zipper hoodie. "I'm not using it."
With a sheepish smile, she mumbled thanks before slipping it back on and zipping it up. While he finished preparing the tea, out of the corner of his eye he watched Claire as she wandered around the apartment. One arm around her middle the other rested just under her chin as she observed the bookshelf with a tilted head. As he poured the drink, Sylar swore he was her sniff his jacket.
Handing her a prepared cup, she smiled in thanks, for more than just the tea. She complimented the drink, before once more she turned her attention to the titles on the shelves. He figured she hadn't read many of books and allowed her to stare at them as he adjusted the contents of his cup. Turning back around he saw she had discovered the book on the coffee table from the night before.
"You're reading Pillars of the Earth?" she questioned, holding the book with her unoccupied hand.
"Not my first time." Eyebrows lifting in surprise, Sylar asked back, "You have?"
"I had to read it for class, some sort of 21st century lit class." Claire put down the mug and started to flip through the pages. "It was the only book I liked in it. I actually adored it. It was amazing to look at the evolution of Jack and Aliena relationship. Their love actually hurt to read play out. It's like they were… they were…"
"Inevitable," offered Sylar, not intentionally inferring it to mean something else.
"Yeah," replied an enthused Claire, looking up at him. Her breath visibly caught in her throat as she met his gaze, seeing everything unspoken that he felt. Clearing her throat, she put the book down. "I should go."
Handing him the mug, he mutedly mumbled that he understood; even though every part of him wanted her to stay longer.
Opening the door, she turned to him and expressed her gratitude again; for the sweater, the tea, for everything he had done for her.
Hesitating momentarily, Claire added, "I'll be back Monday night to return the sweatshirt."
Glancing at the calendar, Sylar pointed out, "Peter works Monday night."
"I know." With a quick grin and gleeful eyes, Claire turned away and walked down the hall.
Sylar closed the door smiling widely, knowing that things were going to work out better than he could have ever hoped.