Title: Once Upon a Time in Mexico
Rating: R (M)
Warnings: language, sexual imagery
Spoilers: through the final season
Summary: Fifty years gone, Claire is remembering Nathan in that small bar in Mexico. Guess who finds her there...
A/N: written as ficathon assignment in the Sylar/Claire LJ comm (for starianprincess/moonlit_soule
Huge thanks to my amazing beta kathrynthegr8 for her help, support and patience.
ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO
"Por favor, señorita."
A whiskered bartender smiled at Claire flashing two gold capped incisors and placed another three shots of tequila in front of her.
Nodding her thanks, she moved closer to the counter and drank them all, one after another. Then ordered three more. The bartender shook his head disapprovingly but completed her order. Mutely. God, she loved it in Mexico!
"What is a pretty girl like you doing in a place like this?"
Claire made a face. That guy was the fourth one to hit on her that evening. Were they standing in line behind her back waiting to be brushed off? Not even bothering to turn around, she emptied another shot and thrust her hand out for the next one.
"Hey! Do you speak English?"
Claire rolled her eyes.
"Do not touch lady!" said the bartender, giving Claire a sympathetic look. No doubt, he thought she was some brokenhearted chick drowning her sorrows in tequila.
"Am I talking to you, huh?" the guy said far from nicely. "I'm talking to the lady."
He flopped on a bar stool dangerously close to Claire and sighed heavily, obviously trying to gather his thoughts.
"So where were we?"
The voice was as deep as the Mariana Trench and very, very sinister. If Claire were her new friend, she'd get up and run. A buen paso.
"Sylar," his name still tickled her tongue. "What took you so long?"
"I got into a cyclone. Tequila, huh? Did they ask for your drivers license?"
"You sound just like my Daddy."
"Which one?" he asked, looking for the bartender.
She sighed, gazing into her glass.
"Any of them actually."
"Hey," her forgotten admirer barged in. "Who the hell are you? Get your hands off my girl! Right, sweetie?"
Disquieted, Sylar and Claire exchanged glances.
"A new boyfriend?" he said sweetly, sneering like a hyena. "Cute".
"Oh please!" Claire pretended that she was about to throw up. "Do you really think I could be tempted? He's at least fifty years old and as bald as an egg!"
"Too young and handsome, I see," Sylar was obviously enjoying himself.
"Hey! What the..."
"Excuse me for a moment, Claire," Sylar turned to her adorer who was swaying by Claire's stool in his righteous indignation and looked him in the eye. "Go home," he said weightily. "Your wife's waiting."
The man blinked.
"I should probably be going," he offered. "My wife's waiting. Nice to meet you, miss!"
Having said that, he placed his beer bottle on the counter next to Claire's elbow and stumbled towards the door.
"Impressive," admitted Claire. "Simple, effective, bloodless. Who did you kill for this power?"
"No one. It just stuck to my fingers. Kind of. More tequila?"
"Sure. Splashing your hands with brains in the process, I take it?"
He flashed her a look of injured innocence.
"No, Claire. I'm not killing for powers anymore."
She turned to face him.
"Ah, so nice," she said in a singsong voice. "So you think you can say this and all of your crimes would be forgotten? You murdered my parents, Sylar. Don't think I'll ever forgive you that."
"I don't think you will, Claire. Not yet. It's too soon. But trust me, in fifty years..."
"It's already been fifty years."
"Than in a hundred years..."
"Shut up! Even in thousand years..."
"You'll still be trying to kill me," he finished Claire's sentence for her. "Don't bother, I remember."
He placed another empty shot glass on the counter and gestured for the bartender to come closer.
"Frankly speaking, I'm impressed too," he said softly. "I've been around you for ten minutes, and you haven't even tried looking for my sweet spot yet".
Claire glanced around but there was nothing sharp in sight. Sadly, nachos were not very helpful when it came to vendettas.
"Maybe that's because this time you're not trying to kiss me," she said without thinking.
Clearly surprised, Sylar cocked an eyebrow. "Was that an invitation?" he asked innocently.
"No, that was a warning," Claire answered sharply. She was so angry with herself. It had been fifty years, yet she still had to tiptoe around him as if he were a mine field. One wrong step and — boom! "So don't you even think about it".
His eyes narrowed dangerously. He moved closer.
"You should've known by now, Claire, I have trouble controlling my wants."
She looked him in the eye.
"Which only means that Peter was wrong. You haven't changed. More tequila?"
Before he could answer, she nodded to the bartender.
"I bet he thinks we are some drinking contest winners," she whispered to Sylar, looking at the bartender open the fourth bottle of tequila.
"Or aliens," he smiled moving away from her.
Claire let out a shaky breath. She didn't even realize that she had been holding it all that time.
"So, what have you been doing all these years?" she asked, putting her empty shot glass on the counter and wincing at the flavor of the cheap liquor. "God, this tastes awful!" she complained.
"Do you want me to order you a Margarita? I've been here and there... Seen the world. What about you?"
"Most of the time I was burying people I loved," she admitted. "They don't serve Margaritas here, by the way."
"Sorry to hear that." He picked up his shot and then silently emptied it. "I heard about Noah. I'm sorry. He was a..."
All of a sudden she grew pale and made a weird sound.
"What is it, Claire? Are you okay?"
"No," she wheezed out. "I think I'm going to throw up".
He looked worried. It made her feel even sicker. She lifted her head up and took several deep breaths feeling Sylar put his arm around her shoulders to protect her from falling back.
His hand moved between her shoulder blades, rubbing small circles soothingly.
"Okay, let's call it a night," he decided. "I'll take you to your hotel. Where are you staying?"
"No, wait," she grasped his hand. "Tell me something. Are you mad at me because of... what I did at the Carnival?"
"No," he said without hesitation. "It was for the better. Before you did that, I used to think: what would happen if people find out about us, specials? Would it make us heroes or villains? But they, it turned out..."
"...didn't believe me," she finished.
That day she jumped from the Ferris wheel in front of a TV crowd was bound to become a turning point of her life. Claire was positive about it. What was she thinking? That a brave new world would open in front of her, in front of all of them? It didn't. Enter Parkman, who turned out to be following Sylar and Peter on they way to the Carnival, – and soon the reporters started talking about the circus tricks and the Carnival "magicians".
Later, on Claire's way home, a black car drew up with her. The place where she was taken (against her will, naturally) had no address. When Claire finally broke away from there, years later, she didn't have any more intentions to tell the truth about the specials to anyone. Ever.
"Why did you want to see me, Claire?" Sylar asked, watching her closely. "Miss me that much?"
She smiled bitterly.
"No, I didn't miss you," she confessed. "It's just... there's no one else left."
Claire didn't out stare him this time. She averted her eyes, swallowing hard.
"I think you're right," she said. "That's enough for tonight. I need to go."
Her legs felt shaky. She'd probably fall down if Sylar hadn't caught her round the middle, steadying her.
She felt tired and frustrated beyond expression. She used to hope that seeing Sylar would make her feel again. At least something. Eternity only makes sense when you know what side you're on. What is good and what is evil? Do you need to fight or seek protection... But hating this Sylar was hard. He wasn't the killer she had known any more. He was just a hot guy who picked her up at a bar.
Claire leaned heavily against his shoulder.
"You know why I wanted to meet you here?" she said as he was leading her towards the door. "Nothing has changed in this place since I was here last time. It's been half a century and it's all the same. Same tables, same music... See those guys at the corner? Even they seem the same."
Sylar looked at the group of young and obviously intoxicated American men trying to drink each other under the table.
It flashed through his – no, Nathan's – memory: Claire's laughter, a line of tequila shots on the table...
"It's only Nathan who's missing now," she added.
Sylar shot her a quick glance.
"Close your eyes," he said softly. "And count to three."
"Gentlemen," she heard a painfully familiar voice. "Is this tequila?"
Claire opened her eyes. Smiling to her from across the room stood Nathan.
She slept with him, of course. Sylar, not Nathan. Though technically they were one and the same.
She didn't do it because she had secretly wanted him for last fifty years. Unlike love, lust doesn't live for that long – Claire would know just as much. Though that had nothing to do with love either.
She did it because Sylar never treated her like a stupid little cheerleader who everyone just wanted out of their way. Even though she was only seventeen at the time, he had treated her like a woman he wanted to spend an eternity with. Or at least a night.
It almost didn't work out at first.
"So, you want to die?" he said, breaking their kiss reluctantly. "Was that why you wanted to see me? Sorry, not interested."
Claire felt so frustrated that she didn't even have the strength to ask, how the hell had he...
"It's not what you think," she said quickly, grasping his hand. "That was taken out of context! And, by the way, who let you poke in my brain again?"
"I can't control it," he sounded innocent, but she could swear that he had crossed his fingers behind his back. "When we kiss..."
"What?" She bit on his lower lip.
His tongue assaulted her mouth like a snake's, entering roughly and the next moment slowly sliding back. Her knees went weak.
A young couple from a nearby motel room passed by, laughing. "Excuse me," said the girl. "Do you know where we can find a bar around here?"
Sylar's hand on the small of her back balled into a fist, and her heart skipped a bit.
"Sure. Go straight and turn to the right over there, see?" his voice sounded perfectly calm, but his heart was racing madly. "It's still open, we were just there."
Listening to them thank him before continuing on their way, she could only think of this: when she heard him say "we", she almost melted into his grasp.
"So what is that you want, Claire?"
His voice was tense now. Careful, Claire, she warned herself. This man has always had trouble controlling himself.
But it was in vain.
"You," she breathed.
For a moment or two he went completely still, waiting for that characteristic shiver indicating a lie. But it never came. Claire knew that if she wanted to lie to him and get away with it, all she had to say was a half-truth... She lost her train of thought when he pressed her against the door and kissed her again. He tasted like sin mixed with tequila.
The room that they had entered, she noted between the kisses, looked exactly like that room she had spent the night in half a century ago. With Nathan. Maybe it was the same room? She quickly decided that if the son of a bitch was thinking of nathanization again, she'd find something sharp... stick it in the back of his skull... and leave him to rot...
When did he manage to remove her skirt?
He was as hot as noon in hell, and she was melting against him, burning her lips and hands from the simplest of touches. Yes, she wanted him. She wanted Sylar. Not Gabriel fucking Gray.
"So, how's Peter doing?"
He sighed, looking at the ceiling.
"Honestly, I have no idea. Last time I saw him – and that was about twenty years ago – he was in Baton-Rouge, Louisiana."
She propped herself on her elbow, looking closely at him."What were you doing in Baton-Rouge?"
He shrugged and moved a strand of hair from her face. "Travelling, I told you."
Such an intimate gesture, she noted. Like they were sharing something more than a night. She didn't like being that close to him. What had just happened between them didn't count, of course.
"Travelling, huh," she said pretending she'd believed him. Who travels to Baton-Rouge, when there's Europe?
He broke into her thoughts – elegantly, as usual.
"Tell me, how did Noah die?"
She turned away from him.
"None of your business."
He pulled her close, lying her across his chest, back down, and bit on her earlobe.
"Yes it is."
Claire let out a shaky breath.
"I'd better tell you something else," she said. "Do you know how many times you used to scare me to death?"
He tensed under her. She felt his heart beat faster.
"No. Tell me."
"I used to be so scared I left the lights on at night," she whispered.
"Really?" Sylar caught his breath. He shifted under her, running his hands up her body. "You did?"
He cupped her breasts, squeezing her nipples between his fingers.
"I did," she confirmed, turning her head to kiss those delightfully sinful lips. In return, he pushed her legs apart, positioning himself at her entrance. "I used to have nightmares about you. I saw you at the Homecoming again, ripping my best friend's skull open. Her name was Jackie..."
"Jackie," he echoed hoarsely and pushed his hips up, entering her roughly, and she forgot how to breathe.
"It was blood... everywhere," she finally managed. He wasn't moving now, which was a good thing – otherwise she wouldn't be able to speak. Claire closed her eyes, remembering the scene: Jackie's legs are dangling in the air, blood drops from her open skull, Sylar's hand at her throat...
"Tell me more," he pleaded, moving that very hand between her legs. "Tell me..."
"And then you turned your head," she whispered against his lips. "Just turned your head and looked at me. I've never been so scared in my whole life."
A low groan escaped him. In the next moment her back hit the mattress and he was looming over her, shoving her both hands in a tight grip above her head. Seeing him rise above her, feeling him move inside her, she could only think of one thing before her reality shattered to pieces: would she still be alive by the morning?
When she woke up next morning, Sylar was gone.
But in three days she had gotten a small package with no return address. There was a local Baton-Rouge newspaper inside, an article on the front page ringed with a red marker.
The headline read "Vicious murder: man's skull cut open!"
Looking through the text, she suddenly noticed that the red line on the front page formed a heart.
Claire placed her hand in her jeans' back pocket to find a sharp metal nail. She got it for herself actually, right before that tequila night with Sylar. But death could wait now. She smiled, wondering when Sylar's next birthday would be. Looked like she had already had a present for him.
Prompt:Mexico, last-man-standing contests by downing shots, Claire remembering Nathan