Ally never seemed to run out of things to say.
She never stopped talking, never stopped blabbing about whatever thought came to her mind. Sylar's past. His future.
So naturally, Halloween gave her something else to jabber on about.
"Ew, look at that kid! Wow, seriously, don't get into your mom's makeup. Woah, protective mother alert! Oh, hey, now that's no fair, that kid looks exactly like you, Sylar! That is messed up! You know, I never really liked Halloween. Actually, if I'm honest, I hate it. I mean, come on! It's kidnapper city! These kids are walking right to your door, for crying out loud! Plus, some kid came to my house in a really freaky costume once when I was little and I totally freaked out. Man, I would have thought that these humans wouldn't have let their kids out! Oh, hey, I wonder if any of them are heroes?" Her eyes darted about, and Sylar knew she was reading the minds of anyone she could see. "Yep, that kid there is one, oh, hey, there's another! Ouch, his mom doesn't know. Tough luck."
Sylar smiled very softly, allowing her voice to seep into the corners of his mind. He sat back in the car seat, slowly starting to relax as Ally's ramblings began to numb the aching questions he still had.
"You know, I'm surprised that these idiots are still celebrating Halloween. It's really stupid, if you think about it. I mean, Christmas I can understand, because Christmas so awesome and you don't even have to leave your house. Oh man, it was so cool, this one time, my mom got one of her friends over to our house and he did this amazing light show and everything. He was only human, of course, but he had this little flashlight-battle with green and red and…"
Sylar sat bolt upright.
She looked at him. "What is it? What's wrong?"
He looked at her. "I never really asked. You had a family."
Ally raised an eyebrow. "Yeah, Sylar. I had a family. I think everyone does."
Sylar sat back again. "It's interesting, that's all."
"Wow. You are weird."
Sylar smiled, and Ally began her one-way conversation again. But now his curiosity was growing. Ally seemed indifferent to Sylar talking about her family, but he'd seen it. The briefest spark of panic in her eyes.
Ally had spent so much time talking about Sylar's past. Maybe, just maybe, she'd been avoiding her own.
Nightshade hated Halloween, even more than she hated heights.
She whimpered as she ran, stumbling under the surge of fear that kept crashing over her head in wave upon wave of energy.
She ran into the darkest, strongest room she could find.
She gasped. There were so many people out there, alone and afraid.
Nightshade sobbed as the power struggled to take control of her. If she lost control now, there would be so many new murders on her hands.
She screamed in agony, pounding her fists against the walls, fighting to remain in control of her ability.
"No!" She screeched. "Do you hear me? NO!"
But the fear was so incredible, so powerful. She sobbed.
"Mommy, I don't want to go to sleep. I'm scared of the dark."
"But you can't be a hero! You can't be!"
She slammed her hands into the walls again, crying out. "No! Please, just stop! Just stop!"
"Daddy, I can't stop it! Help me, please!"
"He changed you, Alyssa. I'm sorry. But I can't help you anymore."
Nightshade's violet eyes burned with hatred. "Father." She hissed.
But her thoughts were drowned out by the thoughts and fears of others.
"But I don't want to die…"
"Don't throw me out in the cold. Please, not again. It's not my fault!"
Nightshade's eyes were wide and staring. Now, she no longer only heard the fears. She saw them.
A young child came closer to his mother as one of the costumes scared him.
A hero looked at his glowing hands in hatred, pleading with his friends to understand.
A human backed into a corner to get away from a hero, hiding behind a mask.
"NO!" Nightshade felt her heart splutter and skip as she struggled. The energy taken from these fears pulsed over her, wave upon wave of it crashing down on her. There was too much energy, too much power in the child's hands…
It was her first Halloween without Sylar, the first time she'd been forced to endure this alone.
She hated him for this. She hated him for leaving her to struggle against the ability she had no control over. It was easier if he was there, because she could focus all of the energy into him.
Because he couldn't die, even when his heart stopped.
But now she was left alone. Now she had to keep every fear locked away, all of the energy had to be kept away from all those outside.
And so she stayed there, locked inside a room, screaming.
Because Nightshade was terrified.
Sylar heard a child shriek in surprise and winced. The little boy ran away, probably taken off guard by the 'scary mask.'
"I don't blame him." Ally blabbered on, listening in to both the boy's thoughts and Sylar's. "He's only… what? Six? A little young to be seeing something like that, I mean, I'm scared of that. Poor kid's probably traumatized for life, and I don't think the parents are going to think too much of it, oh no, it's just a little kid being afraid of something he shouldn't!" She spat out the words with such venom that Sylar looked at her, surprised by her tone. But Ally continued, not seeming to notice or care.
"After all, a kid's fear is nothing! Hey, why not, every kid is afraid of the dark! It doesn't mean anything that your kid is! Cause they don't want anything to be wrong, so they fool themselves into believing there isn't anything wrong, and it's all lies!"
Ally looked at Sylar, seeming to notice him for the first time. She turned back to the road. "Sorry."
Sylar looked back at the road. For the first time since he'd met her, Ally was driving slowly. She preferred driving as though someone was chasing her. Maybe she thought someone was.
There was silence for a very long time.
"Oh, crap." Ally said suddenly. "Sylar, you didn't think that particular fact was important enough to mention?" She swore. "Sylar, why would you leave Nightshade alone like that? On Halloween? There are so many scared kids out there…"
"I know." Sylar said.
Ally looked at him. "Sylar, you have to find her."
"She'll figure it out."
"She'll figure it out."
Nightshade gasped; it was the first proof she'd gotten that Sylar was alive since she'd seen him run away from her a few months ago. She'd started to think she was imagining, dreaming, but this proved it.
Sylar was scared, too. Terrified, even. "She'll figure it out." The words rang through the girl's mind. They were meant to be so indifferent, so nonchalant, but there was a deep, instinctual fear in them.
"She'll figure it out."
She took a deep breath, closing her eyes. He was right. She had to figure it out.
A blazing, icy pain spread through her chest as she fought to take control. I am not human. I am a hero.
She took a harsh, ragged breath, and let out a long, piercing, drawn-out scream.
She opened her eyes. They blazed violet against the dark night.
She stood up straight, the power rushing through her fingertips. She looked down at her hands. She could practically see them glowing, if only faintly. The fear pulsed around her like a living thing, and she was in control of its movements.
And then she collapsed again.
She'll figure it out.
Ally parked the car and closed her eyes. "Night."
Sylar glanced at her; it never ceased to amaze him how quickly the telepath could fall asleep. She was out like a light in barely a minute.
Which was just fine, considering what he wanted to do.
Sylar looked at her. Her telepathic defenses would be down; after all, she was dreaming.
He closed his eyes and entered her mind.
A young girl sat at the table, keeping her eyes on the vegetables her mother had told her to eat. She was five years old, as of yesterday. She had short, blonde hair, and small grey eyes.
She picked at the green, leafy substance half-heartedly. "I'm not really hungry." She said softly.
"You always say that when there are vegetables." Her mother said dismissively.
The small child winced at the word 'always.' She didn't like that word. And her parents said it a lot.
She forced herself to eat the green stuff. It tasted like a lawn, in her opinion, but apparently, lawns were 'good for her.' Though that hadn't stopped her parents from stopping her when she had really tried to eat the lawn.
Her mother smiled softly at her. "Ally, sweetheart, it's time for bed."
Ally turned to face her mother, her grey eyes pleading. "Do I have to?"
"But he's up there! And he'll be mad at me!"
"Honey, why would your imaginary friend be mad at you?"
"He's not imaginary!"
The little girl was unsure of how many times she'd had this conversation with her mother. Each time, her mother insisted that this was 'all in her head', that he was her 'imaginary friend'. Because that's what all little kids did. Played with imaginary people that their parents couldn't see.
But the outcome was the same as usual. Ally hid her tears, and chocked back a sob as she walked to her bedroom.
She paused by the door, then opened it slowly.
She looked around, and walked slowly to her bed. She breathed a sigh of relief.
The little girl jumped and cringed at the voice that appeared from thin air. "You going to take me away yet?" She tried to make her voice sound bitter, angry. She'd seen it in movies; they tried to sound mad so that they looked braver than they felt.
"No, not quite yet. But we're still monitoring the situation."
She often had to remind him of this fact; she was, indeed, only five years old, and had no idea what large words like 'monitoring the situation' were supposed to mean to her.
She heard him chuckle, and the other end of the bed sank as he sat down. "Of course. I'd forgotten." She felt his hand ruffle her hair in an annoying way. Like how a friend of her parents would. The words, 'she's so adorable!' normally followed with such friends, but that wasn't the case this time.
They stayed there in silence for a minute.
Ally's mind strayed to her parents, who were in the other room, watching a movie. They never believed her when she spoke of the invisible man. They never understood why she was so terrified of the dark. They didn't know what she did, and when she tried to tell them, they passed it off as an 'overactive imagination.'
But she did not have an 'overactive imagination.' She just knew more than they did. Because she saw more.
More importantly, she heard more. Almost as though no one was speaking, but she heard them talking anyway.
Though the invisible man, the one who always came to see if he needed to take her away, to put her in a cage, didn't know that.
The day Ally realized what she could really do came with a sense of fear that she had never experienced.
She'd never thought, never imagined that she could read minds.
She did the first thing a ten-year-old child would do if they realized something like that. She told her parents.
She'd been dreading their reaction. Dreading what they would think of her. What if they thought she was a freak? Or that she was lying?
But what really happened was something less than what she'd expected.
"That's nice, sweetheart."
Ally looked at her mother in shock. Her eyes hadn't lifted from the book she was reading.
"I'm not lying, mom."
"I know you're not."
"I'm not kidding, either."
"Mom, I'm not playing. I'm serious! I can read minds!"
"You said that, sweetie."
"Mom, why don't you believe me?"
"I do believe you."
Her mother sighed in exasperation. "Why don't you tell your invisible friend about this? Maybe he can read minds too."
"He can't read minds, mom, that's not his power! He's invisible!"
"Well, why don't you discuss 'powers' with him?"
"Because he's not my friend! What does it take for you to believe me? Do you want me to prove that I can read your mind?"
"Honey, please. I'm trying to read."
Ally slammed the door behind her.
"Telepathy." The invisible man's voice seemed to echo around her. "Interesting."
She whirled around, looking for the source of the sound. "I don't know what you're talking about!"
"Of course you do, Ally. You were just telling your mother that you can read minds."
"It… it was a joke! I was playing!" Ally whimpered.
"That's funny. It didn't sound like a joke."
"Just leave me alone!"
"I'm afraid I can't do that."
"Then… Then I'll… I'll…" She held up her fists in an attempt at bravery. "I'll fight you!"
The man chuckled. "Oh, Ally. Don't make this harder on yourself. We just need to have a few things checked out, and then life will go back to how it was."
Ally froze momentarily. "You mean… I won't be able to read minds anymore?"
"Well, no. You'll keep your ability; we can't do anything about that."
"Then how will anything be 'back to how it was'?"
"It'll be all right. Just hold still."
Ally saw him inject the needle into her skin before it happened. She saw it, heard it, in his thoughts.
She ducked away from it. The man swore as he missed.
"Hold still!" He barked. But now Ally knew. Now, she knew what she had to do.
She listened in to his thoughts, trying to see where he would go next. He aimed in one direction, and she shot in the other, then bolted for the door.
She cried out as his hand latched on her wrist. She whirled around and, with as much force as a ten-year-old could use, brought her fist to his face. It was enough to stun him, at least, but he didn't let go.
The needle came down to her arm. She slammed her hand where his must be, then yanked the needle out and threw it to the ground. But this came with a cost as she stumbled into a shelf, knocking a picture frame to the floor, where the glass inside it shattered.
"Ally!" She heard her mother cry from the other room. She saw her mother's panic-stricken face as Ally lifted up one of the larger glass shards to defend herself.
"Ally, what are you doing?" Her mother roared. She came foreword and yanked the glass out of her hand.
"He's here, mom! He said he needed to take me back, take me to The Company, because I can read minds!"
"I have had enough of this nonsense! The invisible man is not real! And YOU CAN NOT READ MINDS!"
Her mother bent down to pick up the shards. The invisible man was remaining quiet; he seemed to have no objection to her mother's statement. Ally saw the front door open and close behind him as he left.
"I can too!" She said suddenly, turning to face her mother. "And you're scared! You think I'm crazy! You think that this 'imaginary friend' thing has gone on too long, and you think it's your fault, because you 'encouraged' it!" Hot tears streamed down her cheeks. "And it is your fault! It's all your fault! Because you didn't believe me, and he's going to come back! He's going to come back and there's nothing I can do about it because you won't help me!"
A worried look passed across her mother's face. She opened her mouth to speak, but Ally got there first.
"NO! I do not need to be taken to any doctor, or 'psychiatrist' or whatever! I don't! I'm not crazy, and I'm not making it up!"
Ally's mother looked at her. Her mouth was gaping open, opening and closing as she tried to think of what to say.
And Ally ran. She ran out the door, ran from her mother, her father, her past, her future. She ran as fast as she could.
"ALLY!" Her mother screeched behind her.
"NO!" Ally screeched back. Before she realized she was doing it, Ally was trying something she'd never tried before. "I am not your daughter! You don't have a daughter named Ally, you never did! Do you hear me? You don't have a daughter!"
Her mother slowed as Ally's words took hold of her mind. The suggestion grew in her.
And she forgot. She forgot the ten years that Ally had been in her house, forgot the life that Ally had. She forgot everything, and her mind grew new memories, false memories, that filled in the gaps.
And Ally ran.
Sylar's world was spinning. He felt himself being forcibly ejected from Ally's mind.
He came back to the real world with a harsh gasp. Ally's eyes were hard.
"What do you think you're doing?" Ally spoke the words through clenched teeth.
Sylar swallowed nervously. "I was just a little curious…"
"Curious?" Ally looked at him. Sylar had never seen her so angry. "Curious? If you're so curious, Sylar, don't you think that you could, oh, I don't know, maybe ask me? Or what, you think it's better just to walk right into my head?"
"Isn't that what you do, Ally?" Sylar demanded, on the attack suddenly.
Ally glowered at him. "There's a difference between reading the thoughts of a person who is awake and can kill you and prying into someone's worst secrets when they're asleep and can't stop you."
Ally took the blanket in her hands and opened the car door. She stepped on the side of the seat, using it to propel herself onto the roof. Her movements were surprisingly fluid and graceful, the motions flawless. She placed her head on her arm and closed her eyes.
"Good night, Sylar." She growled.
Sylar sighed as Ally fell asleep on the roof of the car. She wasn't going to forgive this one too quickly, of that Sylar was sure.
The next day, Ally refused to speak to Sylar any more than necessary. Normally, Sylar would have been just fine with this, but, as Ally was the only thing that kept him from thinking about everything, it was actually much harder on him than he'd expected.
When she finally did speak, Sylar whipped his head around to listen attentively. But always it was small, simple questions, like, 'where are we going?' 'Left or right?' and 'Can you please stop falling asleep? You snore too much!'
Nights were no better. Ally would always sleep on the top of the car, exposing herself to humans but seeming to prefer that than to sleep anywhere near him, as though she was afraid he'd try and get inside her head again.
But Sylar would call out every so often, sometimes during the day, sometimes at night.
"Ally…" He'd use the same, mocking, sing-song voice that Ally used to use. He'd never get a reply.
So it was a perfect shock when, a week later, Ally called back.
"What?" It was the same sing-song voice as his.
"I'm sorry." Sylar recovered quickly.
"No you're not." The entire conversation had been spoken like that, a half-singing, half speaking melody that normally went with childish taunts.
He smiled and closed his eyes, knowing that he'd gotten as far as he could for now.
The next morning, Ally spoke a little more.
"So, when are you going to find Nightshade?"
Sylar winced. "We're back to that, are we?"
"Look. If you can say you're sorry for searching through my head while I was asleep, you can also answer my questions honestly. Why won't you go back and find her?"
Sylar sighed. He should have seen this coming. "Because I don't want to kill her."
"Huh. Well, that's a lie."
He looked at her, biting his lip. "You're not going to let it go, are you?"
He sighed again. "I don't want to go back because… because I can't face it. I can't face what I did to her." He closed his eyes, his features betraying the pain he really felt. "I… I saw that scar on her forehead and… and she didn't deserve that. She trusted me and… and she shouldn't have."
"Because you're nothing but a killer?"
He looked at her. "Yeah." His voice was soft. "Because I'm nothing but a killer."
Ally swallowed. "Sylar, we both know that you're doing your best. And she knows it, too."
He looked away, and suddenly realized that this was one of the first two-way conversations they had.
That night, Ally slept in the driver's seat again, instead of on the roof. She smiled weakly at him, and he smiled back.
It was another week before Sylar made the decision. Ally had been back to her rambling, and Sylar had to cut her off to be heard.
He took a deep breath. "You're right."
Ally looked at him with one eyebrow raised. She smiled as she read his mind; he'd decided to allow her to do that without any complaints, something she'd been taking advantage of frequently.
She smiled very softly. "Well, all right, then."
And she started driving.
It was a while before they found what they were looking for. Ally promised to get out of sight, and they could talk later if he needed to.
But that didn't make it any easier as Sylar waited, watching Nightshade in the distance. He'd decided to wait until the darkness had enveloped them both, and Nightshade had fallen asleep again.
This time, he wanted to do it right.
And, at two o'clock in the morning, Sylar crept over to the young girl's limp form.
He carefully lifted her into his arms.
Violet eyes snapped open. They blinked once.
This time, she didn't try to stand. She didn't look at him in shock or panic. She just stayed there, in his arms.
Nightshade felt two arms wrap around her, lifting her up off the ground.
Slowly, she opened her eyes. Doubts were creeping into her mind, thoughts of humans who would destroy her blazing. But natural instinct told her that she was safe, safer than she had been in a very long time.
She blinked once, unsure what to make of the sight in front of her. Her breath hitched in her throat.
The serial killer looked down at her, his dark eyes glittering in the shadows. She felt his hand, stroking her hair back, gently moving it away from her eyes.
They just sat there for a very long time. Nightshade didn't know what to think. She didn't know why he was here, if he was staying. She didn't know anything.
Finally, Sylar spoke. His voice was barely a whisper, and the sound of it made Nightshade's heart skip a beat. "Hello, Nightshade."
Nightshade listened carefully to his voice, trying to remember it, trying to memorize it. Because he wasn't going to stay; he couldn't.
She didn't know how long they stayed there, just looking at each other, trying to think of what to say next, and yet somehow happy with the silence.
"Things are going to be so much easier when I kill you."
Nightshade looked at him. She understood the meaning of his words; she understood what he was saying. But she didn't really care. "'When'?"
"There's not really an 'if' anymore, is there?"
"I suppose not."
Silence again, and then, "You really are a strange little girl."
Nightshade closed her eyes. With those seven simple little words, it seemed as though Sylar had never left.
He smiled and stroked her hair back again. He gently traced the line on her forehead.
She gripped his coat tightly. "You're going to leave again, aren't you?"
"I'm not sure yet." He replied. It seemed like an honest enough answer, but it tore at Nightshade nonetheless.
"Please don't." She whispered. A single tear slipped past her control. "Please."
"I won't. Not yet."
She smiled weakly and closed her eyes again. She didn't want to sleep; she wanted to stay awake, to make sure Sylar didn't leave her again.
"Shh… It's ok… It's ok…"
Only when he'd spoken did Nightshade realize she was crying. Her sobs were soft, but still uncontrollable.
Slowly, she began to drift into unconsciousness.
Nightshade was awake long before she opened her eyes.
But she didn't dare open them. Because then she would see. Then she would know that it was all a dream, that Sylar really wasn't there.
She took a deep breath, trying to steady herself for the disappointment that was sure to come.
But, no matter how hard she tried, she couldn't completely destroy the last spark of hope inside of her. She couldn't make herself believe that he absolutely wouldn't be there.
She opened her eyes.
A sob forced its way up her throat. No Sylar.
"You low-life son of a bitch." She hissed, trying to use her anger to keep herself from crying. "You bastard! How could you?"
But the anger did not last. She started crying again. She buried her face in her hands, trying to hide the tears, and herself, from the rest of the world.
Nightshade's eyes whipped upwards. They widened as she saw Sylar, standing in front of her. He had a sandwich in his hand, wrapped in a plastic bag.
He smiled at her. "Thought you might want something to eat." He explained, gesturing to the sandwich.
Nightshade wasn't listening. She stood and ran over to him, wrapping her arms around his neck, almost knocking him off his feet.
"Woah! Hey, 'Shade, relax!"
"What is your problem?" She demanded, trying to sound furious through her tears and the happiness that surged through her. "You didn't think that maybe, just maybe, I might actually need you out there? It's a dangerous world, and I don't know if I…"
Sylar placed a finger on her lips. "Shut up, Nightshade."
She couldn't help but smile as he stepped back to look at her.
"You've grown up." A worried look passed his face. "How many fights did you get in, kid?" He gently stroked a few of the scars on her arm, and one on her neck.
She punched him in the arm. "Well, it wasn't like you were there to help, oh no!"
He looked down somewhat sheepishly. "Yeah. Sorry about that."
"You should be."
There was silence for a minute, then Sylar lifted up the plastic bag. "Sandwich?"
She smiled as he handed it to her, taking it gently from his fingers. He took that as an invitation to sit down, and did exactly that. Nightshade sat next to him as he pulled another sandwich out of his pocket.
They stayed in silence for a minute. Both had so many questions they needed to ask, but neither of them knew which to ask first.
Nightshade swallowed after a moment. "You said 'when' you killed me."
It wasn't technically a question. It was a simple statement of fact.
Nightshade nodded slowly and started eating again.
"Do you want me to leave?" Sylar asked after another silent moment.
Nightshade shook her head. "Not really."
"Even though I'm going to kill you?"
"I'm not dead yet."
"Yes. But it's going to happen."
She shrugged. "Then it happens."
Silence filled the air again.
"I can see what you mean." A new voice entered the conversation. "She really is strange."
Nightshade leapt to her feet, but Sylar just nodded his head at the new arrival.
"It's all right, Nightshade. She's a friend."
Nightshade looked at the woman, then nodded slowly and sat down.
The woman beamed and sat next to Sylar. She held out a hand. "I'm Ally. A telepath."
Nightshade took it. "Nightshade. I create and control fear."
"So I've heard." Ally kept smiling. "Sylar's told me a lot about you. Well, not voluntarily, but still. He knew I knew." She grinned.
Nightshade found herself smiling back.
Maybe this world wasn't so bad after all.