Fandom: Heroes

Pairing: Sylar/OFC (Zabela)

Rating: T

Warnings: light angst

Author: Lily Zen

Notes: This is a follow-up to my AU fic, Cautious. For those of you who haven't read it, I strongly recommend you do so as the events of this story probably won't make much sense to you. For those of you who have and are reading this as well, thank you; I hope this lives up to your expectations. There will be another story following this one shortly. Romanian translations provided by Google Translate.

Disclaimer: Heroes is not mine. Zabela and any other OCs are.


Part of me hates myself, what I am, the things I've done…

Hard to believe, right? I've always put up a front of aloofness. People never saw what was going on behind the curtain. My gift made me a monster—I was helpless under the compulsion of the hunger. Of course, the seeds for making me into a monster were already present long before the eclipse awakened my ability. I can admit that watching my mother die had a certain impact on my development.

When the second eclipse took away my ability, I was relieved. For the first time in a long time I felt grounded, centered. There was no craving urging me onward. I felt freed.

Then there is that little slice of me that finds its freedom only when I kill, when I terrify. There is a certain appeal to a life of lawlessness—living by no one's rules but your own. The part of me, I suppose the part that's held under the sway of my power, rejoices in it.

That was the side of me I chose to nurture.

Zabela's words come to mind now. Her sitting so prim and proper in her armchair saying, '…because it was easier to twist myself to do the things I've done than to try and fit myself back into a cookie-cutter existence.'

That was exactly it. I couldn't pretend to be the same person I'd been before. It would have been farcical. Besides, back then there was no way I could have fought the cravings my ability forced on me. At least I didn't think so. Looking back on it, I might have been able to, but…the seeds had already been planted and taken root. I was already beginning to shed my vestiges of a conscience.

Then, of course, Matt fucking Parkman and the rest of the sadistic little bastards made me into Nathan Petrelli. Since then I had been different—irrevocably changed. My conscience, little by little, was gaining power and I was aware of myself in a way that I hadn't been in forever.

For so long the only things that had mattered were power and vengeance.

Those things were starting to seem not as important.

The changes in me were fast and subtle and more than a little scary.

I wondered if that was why I had latched onto Zabela so quickly, and then cursed myself because she had invaded my thoughts again with so little effort on her part.


The weekend moved slowly for me, one day blending effortlessly into the next.

I tried to act normal, to do normal things, but it was apparent my mind was elsewhere, even when I met Claire on Fifth Avenue for a day of shopping. Slowly we were becoming closer friends—she was even moving toward forgiveness for my subterfuge when we first met. It was nice to have at least one person that I didn't have to pretend for. Maybe a little too nice as she stopped in her tracks and said, "Okay, what's your deal? You've been distracted all day."

Shaking my head, I tried to make excuses, had my mouth open and was drawing the breath to speak when she cut me off.

"Zabela, don't even start with me. You're weird today. Now just tell me why."

I tried to stare her down for a moment, but when she didn't budge, I sighed and smiled. "Alright. Can we do it over lunch though? I'm half-starved." She conceded and we found a nearby café with fairly private seating. I ordered the caesar salad with grilled chicken and Claire got one of the specials.

"So…" she began when the waiter hustled off.

I bit my lip, not sure what to say. I knew how she felt about Sylar, the things he had put her and her family through. Still, I had made a promise to Claire not to lie anymore, and I knew that keeping something like this from her would be a heavy infraction against her tenuous trust.

"Let me start off by saying that none of this was something I'd planned on."

She nodded and her blond hair bobbed with the movement.

"I ran into Sylar at the grocery store. We talked for awhile and he helped me with my bags as I'd bought way too much to carry in one trip. Then he left. A few weeks later he showed up at my place, said he wanted to talk."

"Dammit!" Claire hissed, "Did he hurt you?"

"No," I said quickly, "No, he didn't. Let me finish, Claire."

She sat back in her chair with her arms crossed over her chest, a silent prompting.

"We really did talk for awhile. I can't tell you exactly what we said—I feel like that would be a violation of his confidence—but the subject of his ability and him wanting my ability did come up. He said that somehow I'd blocked him out, kept him from absorbing it empathically. This is where things got weird."

"Oh god…" Claire groaned dramatically.

"He…he kissed me."

Claire's eyes flared and she got that look in her eye like she was about to curse.

"Just wait. I kissed him back…"

She made a hissing noise.

"And we had sex."

"Ew! Really, Zabela? That's gross. Honestly, that is the most fucked up thing I've ever heard. He is a…" she leaned over the table and whispered heatedly, "serial killer!"

I rolled my eyes heavenward, stopping for a moment to stare at the plaster work on the ceiling. "I'm aware, but…hello pot, this is kettle calling; you're black."

"You're not a…" Claire hesitated.

"No. Not like that, but my point is that I don't have much room to talk. Besides, I don't have the same sort of biases against him that you have."

"…Sylar kissed me once too," she admitted shamefully.

"We should start a club," I joked lamely.

"What would we call it?" She smiled half-heartedly.

"No idea." Laughter bubbled up from both of us and the waiter showed up with our food. We ate slowly, chuckling occasionally until Claire looked up from her food. Her mouth opened and closed. "Well, spit it out," I laughed.

"Just out of curiosity, how was he…y'know?"

"In bed?" I cackled and the mortified blush on her face said it all.

"It's just…"

"I get it. He was good. Attentive. Intense in that way he is. He didn't hurt me, if that's what you're getting at."

She nodded slowly, thoughtfully. "Well, that's good; otherwise I'd have to kick his ass." Then we both burst out laughing at the absurdity of that statement, disturbing some of the other patrons.

It wasn't until much later after we'd returned back to my place laden with bags and eaten an entire ice cream cake that she asked, "Wait, so does that mean he has your ability now too?"


"Oh shit."

"You said it. This could go very, very badly very, very fast."

"What were you thinking?" she fumed after a moment of silent contemplation.

"What was I thinking? I was thinking that my hoohah needed some maintenance work done, Claire," I replied in as dry a voice as I possibly could. She tried not to smile at my words, but all I could think of was just how happy my hoohah had been. It made me chuckle to myself even when Claire huffed disapprovingly.


Zabela was an uncontrollable variable to me.

Oh, I understood her to her very core, and I understood logically why she called to me. Then I reasoned that I had already obtained her ability, yet I still found myself ruminating over her frequently. It was frustrating; infuriating, even. I should be done with her…

But instead I kept thinking of the way she'd moved against me, on top of me, underneath me; her long hair, dyed red like hibiscus (her roots were dark like my own hair), splayed out on her blue-green comforter while she stared up at me with unfathomably dark brown eyes; the way she said my name.

Utter ridiculousness.

I occupied my time that weekend with trying to learn a little more about my newly acquired ability within the safety of my rat-trap apartment. Yes, I'd promised Zabela I wouldn't use it, but I figured that was a flexible rule as it was impossible to turn off. I just didn't try anything fancy.

I went to work—having a normal job after what I'd been through was almost pure torture—like usual, and firmly ignored any sort of excitement about seeing Zabela on Tuesday.



The morning was filled with anxiousness and dread that I stubbornly refused to acknowledge to myself. Despite my conscious denial of those feelings there was a knot of tension underneath my shoulder blades that made me wince every time I moved, and my stomach felt like it was trying to climb its way out through my throat.

I told myself that I was being ridiculous as I spent the morning doing my yoga, tai chi, and kick boxing. I even ran three miles on the treadmill in the spare room, hoping that physical exhaustion would sap away any emotional energy I had. Of course, nothing stopped my power from making shadows that should be barely present so early in the day deeper than normal as they reached out, knocking over my bottle of water, flinging my cereal spoon across the room, and smashing the light bulb in the bathroom while I was taking my shower.

It was apparent how much of a tizzy I was in by just how much inadvertent damage I was causing. I was embarrassed that one sexual encounter with Sylar had me so tangled up and thought that my own behavior was unacceptable. I felt trapped, as helpless as a firefly in a glass jar. I was at the mercy of whatever demented child had thought my capture was a good idea in the first place. In this case, the child in question was obviously Fate, if one believed in such a thing.

It was totally unfair. Who had decided that I, Zabela Noapte, was a good role model for Sylar? We were both peas in the same murderous pod.

Stupid. So, so stupid. Damn you, Anca, and your stupid prophecies.

I needed to put away my useless fretting for another day though, because Sylar was returning that day to learn how to use my wily ability.

For reasons I had no desire to closely examine, I dressed carefully: bright and feminine, yet sophisticated and trendy. I could have been going to a club or out on a date. My cell phone started ringing as I was getting dressed. I hurriedly tugged down the outrageously patterned dress, thinking the lime green, marine blue, and midnight black splatters against the stark white made my red hair pop out even more. Like she had somehow been summoned by my traitorous thoughts towards her, Anca's name popped up on the screen. "Hello," I answered, turning on the speakerphone and letting it sit on one of the shelves in my closet.

"Hello," my cousin's voice rang out, "I thought I should call you with an update before you start doing serious damage." She laughed.

Somehow I refrained from joining in her merriment, though my lips twitched into the beginning of a smile. "Don't be a smart-ass," I said instead.

Anca just laughed harder. "Oh," she sighed when she could catch her breath and I would've put money on her wiping tears from her eyes, "You're so funny."

"You mean my life is funny."

"That too. So things went well after I left?" I heard a dry, rapid pat-pat-pat-pat noise over the phone—the noise of cards being shuffled.

"You should know," I responded tartly, cinching a wide, black patent leather belt around my waist.

"It went well. You're busting out your sexy underwear. He's coming over soon then?"

"At two, but not for sex; for training."

"For shame. I bet it was good."

My silence was apparently enough of an answer as the next thing I heard was more peals of laughter. Black patent leather heels completed the outfit and I moved on to my make-up.

"Zabela? You there?"


"Oh. I just wanted to let you know that I can't see anything else yet. It might be easier if I met him—"

"No." My voice was severe and adamant. The last thing any of us needed was that. Sylar might be tempted by her power. Anca would be putting her life on the line. I would feel guilty if anything happened, and I feared not a little jealous should he employ a similar tactic to the one he used on me to get her ability.

"—or a picture," she continued, "or even something he's touched a few times. That way I would have a focus. Jeez, Z, you are-in the words of my roommate—trippin'. Get it together."

"I'm working on it," I snapped, smoothing on black eyeliner and mascara. One of the lower bars of the closet—the one holding my collection of vintage tees—was ripped out and fell to the floor. I put down my tube of lip balm and forced the bar back into place physically, replacing the hangers one by one.

"Everything okay over there?" My cousin asked, sounding amused, "That was kind of a loud noise."

"Everything's fine. I'm just a little out of sorts today."

"I think you're scared because you've never been friends with a man you're having sex with."

I scoffed. "Sylar is not my friend."

"No? That's not what the cards say," she sing-songed.

"And I'm friends with Niko," I added defensively.

"Not you're not," she laughed, "Niko calls you when he needs help saving the world one freak at a time. Other than that you only see him when you want to be someone else and have uncomplicated sex. Don't even try to bullshit me on that one, Z. I can pretty much quote you there."

All I could do was grunt in exasperation. Then I had a thought. "Besides, it's not like we're having sex on a regular basis. We fucked once—he only did it to get my ability. It's not like we're lovers. He's a one-night-stand that I have the awkward problem of having to see again." I slipped on my favorite sleek silver watch and pulled my hair into a loose tail held in place with a black barrette.

I smiled at myself in the floor-length mirror, thinking that I looked very pretty.

"Well," Anca stated, "I think you're getting awfully dressed up for an awkward teaching session with a night-one-stand who won't disappear and definitely isn't your friend."

I didn't respond.

"Zabela, I'm going to let you go now. He should be showing up soon and you've still got to put on your perfume and then dance around so it doesn't smell like you put on perfume just for him…which you did. I'll call you later so I can say I told you so." She ended the call and I almost hit myself when I reached for the bottle of Noir perfume on the dressing table…but she was right—I still sprayed myself and promptly twirled around to try and make the scent fade a little faster.

I don't want you to think that my dressing nicely is an unusual occurrence; it's not. I have always been fastidious in my presentation. Now that I'm an adult and can afford those expensive clothes I always admired, I find any excuse to dress up, though I don't really need to. I have enough excuses when I'm working. In fact, the only times I don't dress up are when I'm not expecting company…though in that situation Anca may have been a bit more on the money. When I entertain at home I usually stick with nice jeans, slacks, sweaters—that sort of thing.

As the doorbell rang, I tried not to over think my appearance. I opened the door with a polite smile and simple greeting, and fervently did not check out Sylar's ass in his tight, dark wash jeans. Really. I didn't.

"I'll be right back with something to drink. Make yourself comfortable," I told him, gesturing to the living room.

I headed off to the kitchen to make a pot of tea, a hostess-habit I learned from my grandmother. Just as I was crossing into the tiled area, Sylar's voice stopped me mid-step. "So I should just get naked now instead of later?" I could tell by the tone that he was making a joke, but my head whipped around anyway, shock written clear as day on my face. He was smirking, but there was a heat in his eyes that belied his humor. It made something clench in my lower stomach. My cheeks began to burn. I turned quickly, fleeing into the kitchen, hopefully before he had noticed.

My only verbal response was, "do you prefer Oolong or English Breakfast?" and was called out down towards the granite countertop.

"English Breakfast, please," Sylar replied innocently enough, but I could hear his unspoken laughter. I took my frustration out on the tea, boiling water with a vengeance and making it stronger than I usually would. "Thank you," he said when I returned with two steaming mugs. I met his eyes and tried to remain unmoved.

I failed.

I wanted him. I was pretty sure he wanted me. Why weren't we naked already?

That, of course, was my naughty impulses' argument.

Firmly reminding myself that he had other motives for being there, he didn't just want my company, I got down to business. "So how much have you already figured out?" I asked, taking a large drink of hot tea.


Why did I make that stupid comment about getting naked? Even after all this time, Gabriel Gray, the geeky watchmaker, still popped up with his infamous ability to be awkward around women. Thanks, Gabe, you douchebag.

…It may seem odd that I referred to myself in the third person sometimes, but I liked doing that at least in my head. I'd been so many different people, lived so many different lives just in this one. I liked to keep them all straight, delineated. Gabriel Gray, the watchmaker, was as different from the me as I am now as the moon from the sun. Then there was my brief masquerade as Zane, Special Agent Hanson, Nathan, and that frightening limbo wherein I was neither Nathan nor Sylar. I think for the sake of my own sanity, I needed to keep those pieces of my life all labeled separately.

Zabela was nervous at my poor attempt at humor. I felt the sudden twinge in her mood, a vibration like a string just having been plucked. She shied away, hiding in the kitchen to regroup while she talked about tea. Not that I'm opposed to tea. I like it just as much as the next guy, I suppose, which is to say that I don't mind drinking it but I would never think to buy it for myself. When she returned, walking with an ease and grace that should have been impossible in those stiletto heeled shoes—god, she had really great legs—Zabela handed me a heavy ceramic mug filled with the dark, fragrant brew. Some people referred to English Breakfast tea as the British coffee, and it was easy to see why. I took a sip. The flavor of it was potent but naturally sweet, seeming to send a slight jolt to the tastebuds.

I noticed that the shadow-bender's tea was lighter than my own and figured she had added milk or cream to it.

Again, she sat in the chair across from the couch, but her distance didn't seem to matter. I still felt her wanting me, enjoyed the quick flare of desire that rose up in her. It was reassuring that I wasn't the only one still stuck on our previous encounter. I could tell from the way she crossed her legs so primly and took a deep draught of her undoubtedly hot tea that she was striving for cool professionalism. Her question proved that.

"So how much have you already figured out?"

I grinned ruefully. For someone who did not have any empathic abilities, she was certainly astute, or maybe my character was just a little too predictable. Like a small child, I simply couldn't resist not playing with a shiny new toy. At least she knew me that well.

"I trust that you didn't try anything extensive," Zabela added, her pale countenance unnecessarily grave. I tried to look innocent to assuage her worries.

"No killing sprees, I promise," I responded with a wink, "In fact, I didn't use them outside of my own apartment and all I did was flex them a little bit then. I tried my hardest to honor our agreement since you held up your end." Lifting my mug to my mouth, I waited while Zabela digested that information. Finally, after a long pause where she simply studied me with dark, inscrutable eyes, the redheaded woman shrugged.

"Good," she murmured and tipped her mug back, pouring the last of her tea down her throat. I didn't even realize that she was so close to being finished. Didn't that hurt, that hot liquid sliding down her unprotected throat? Then leaning forward, Zabela placed the mug in the center of the coffee table between us. "Show me what you can do."


Accessing my different abilities that I've acquired was a little different from what Zabela did. With her, she only had her shadow manipulation to worry about. She described it as being there constantly, responding to her subconsciously. It was that aspect of her power that made her control her emotions so tightly. A small bout of fury could easily cause considerable damage. Intense fear could make her dissipate into the shadows in that strange form of travel she was capable of—I was really looking forward to trying that out.

However, I had many powers, all of them secondary to my natural ability, addendums to the original power. The way I accessed them was by calling them forth individually in my mind. I thought 'lightning' and electricity formed in my hand, or 'move that' and my telekinesis took over. Looking at the mug on the table, I let my eyes drift down until they focused on the slender ring of shadow visible on the light wood. I thought about darkness, about cool shade, and felt the awareness called forth. Suddenly, I was as much a part of the shadows as I was sitting there on the couch. I could feel them, the slightly cooler spaces where light was absent. It was almost like they whispered to me, like they were alive with the way they shifted and wavered.

I thought about less light and the shadows grew deeper. I didn't have enough control yet to just affect the area around the mug. The whole room grew darker. The effect seemed to be limited to whatever room I was in at the time.

Zabela glanced around with a pleased little smile and I felt her amusement. "Now settle them back down," she prompted. Her odd phrasing made me hesitate. It was strange, but she spoke of her shadows like they were sentient, echoing my earlier thoughts. Apparently I took too long because suddenly I felt her power cut through my inexpert control. "Like this," Noapte breathed, closing her eyes to focus, and the shadows shrank back to their normal size and depth without my conscious will at all. It seemed to me as though she had soothed them, like a hand running over an anxious feline's back. Then I felt her power stretch out and make them lengthen again, creating shadow where there shouldn't have been any at that time of day. "Now you," she prompted.

I copied the process. It was easy now that I understood what she'd been saying. It wasn't so much the skill that had stymied me—I had done simple things like that in my own apartment—but rather that I hadn't understood her words.

We worked for three hours. I learned how to bend the shadows away from the flat surfaces, how to shift them out into open spaces. Another thought made them thicken, denser than any amorphous thing had a right to be. It was using this technique that Zabela was able to move objects with her gift and create solid objects that were held together only by strength of will. There was such potential in this ability. Just a thought and nearly anything was possible.

But Zabela was right, it was unpredictable. Her ability, now mine as well, reacted to things subconsciously, and not always in a positive manner. When I grew frustrated with the process of solidifying shadow, the darkness leapt out and shoved a whole row of books off the shelf in the living room. It took incredible emotional control to keep her ability from overreacting to such situations. Now I understood why it had been so difficult for me to make that initial empathic connection with my cherry-haired mentor. To maintain control over her gift, she had to distance herself emotionally from the world.

Just when I was starting to get the hang of it, I heard a phone ringing.

Zabela excused herself, smiling politely, and moved quickly towards the bedroom where the sound was originating from. "Keep practicing," she called over her shoulder. The door shut and soon after the ringing stopped as she picked up the phone. I waited, playing a little with my new ability, for her return.


My cell phone was chiming in the bedroom. It was the generic tone, not one of the specialized tones for one of the few people in my contacts list. I left Sylar alone and went in my bedroom to pick it up. I didn't recognize the caller number on the screen, but the area code was from Bucharest. With a strong sense of already knowing who it was, I answered, putting the phone up to my ear.


There was a moment of hesitation, then a woman's dulcet voice spoke my name in obvious inquiry. The strangely lilting accent marked her as a Romanian native. "Noapte?"

"Alo, Strigoi," I replied. There was a slight smile on my face as I spoke in my father's native tongue.

Strigoi was actually named Lizuka Bojin. She, like myself, was a career criminal, though admittedly of greater infamy than myself. I was a bit-player in the world of crime, focusing mostly on espionage those days. My fascination with the darker aspects of the underworld had long since faded. I had no true desire to kill and even less desire to be caught and imprisoned. In addition, I thought it wise to avoid being put on the watch lists, unlike Strigoi, who was wanted by both Interpol and Europol.

Of course, they didn't actually know that Strigoi was Lizuka Bojin. Strigoi was the nickname they'd given the case files. It literally translated as 'ghost.' They had no idea what Strigoi looked like, whether the criminal was male or female, or the approximate age. Lizuka was a special and her ability was invisibility. She had a genius I.Q. to boot and was naturally endowed with an eidetic memory, though it wasn't related to the four genomes that marked her as one of the specials. Those skills were the reason she was one of the finest assassins in the world, though that wasn't her only skill. She had actually started out her career as a petty thief and pickpocket, like most of us do, and evolved into grand larceny, weapons sales, arson, and electronic crime. It only seemed natural to her to take that last step into killing for hire. After all, she did everything else for money.

Strigoi was the person who had introduced me to Nikolai Molotov, an associate of hers who was former KGB and a pyrokinetic, and his son, Nikolai Molotov Jr., or rather Niko. Like those of us who aren't sociopaths, Lizuka had a bit of a guilty conscience regarding her activities and as such, tried to make up for it in certain ways. She donated a portion of her freshly laundered money each quarter to various charities, and she also volunteered with Niko's operation over in Russia.

Niko was a gentle soul who had been cursed with a genetic abnormality passed down through his father. He was telekinetic. Whereas the manifestation of Molotov's ability thirty years ago had pushed him further down a dark path, Niko had sought only to do good with his gift from the moment it manifested. He helped other specials, particularly those whose abilities left them unable to live normally in society. Molotov assisted in some aspects of this project, as did Lizuka, though Niko was not aware that Lizuka was anything other than a girl with an ability.

It was through this strange association that Niko and I became involved. Like Lizuka, he had no idea that I lived a double life as a mercenary. I was just a girl to him, a girl who could turn into a shadow, but a girl nonetheless. It was a pleasant association that allowed me to feel normal or as close to normal as it gets for a short amount of time.

So a call from Lizuka could mean one of two things: she had a job offer for me or she wanted help with our little extra-curricular activity.

"Este bine să aud de la tine," Strigoi replied, her voice pleasant yet neutral, "Ce mai fasi?" It's good to hear from you. How are you?

"Eu sunt bine. Şi tu?" I'm good. And you?

"Nu este mare. Am nevoie de ajutorul tau," Strigoi answered calmly. Not great. I need your help. She often spoke with a frankness that some people found disconcerting, but I appreciated her not beating around the bush.

"Cu ce?" With what? I kept my voice quiet, not wanting to be overheard by Sylar in the next room.

Strigoi released a short burst of air over the phone. "Un loc de muncă. Am nevoie de cineva cu abilităţile dumneavoastră special. Eu nu pot da detalii la telefon, dar eu vă asigur că este profitabil. Esti interesat?" A job. I require someone with your particular skills. I can't give you the details over the phone, but I assure you it is lucrative. Are you interested?

There was an unusual thread of urgency in her voice and something in me stated that Strigoi really did need my help, possibly more than she was insinuating over the phone. Responding to that rather than thinking of the blatant inconvenience, I told her, "Da. Eu va prinde următorul zbor spre Bucureşti." Yes. I'll catch the next flight to Bucharest.

"Sună-mă când ajungi aici. Utilizaţi acest număr." Call me when you get here. Use this number.

I was already in my closet, pulling out the small navy blue duffel bag I used as an airplane carry-on. "Bine." Okay.

"Şi Zabela? Mulţumesc." And Zabela? Thank you. Then a short beep resounded in my ear as Strigoi disconnected the call.

I tossed the phone on the shelves in my walk-in closet and straightened my spine, realizing that I had to get rid of Sylar first. Taking a moment for myself, I took a deep breath, held it in for a second, and then slowly released it, forcing myself to let go of any anxiousness I might have felt. Then I turned and walked back out through the bedroom towards the living room where Sylar was still patiently waiting.

He looked up at me with a little grin on his face that faded fast when he felt whatever I was carefully not feeling. Or perhaps it was simply the somber look on my face. "I'm sorry," I began carefully, standing on the threshold to the living room, "But I have to ask you to leave now. I have to go."

Sylar's thick eyebrows drew downward as he frowned and stood up. "Is everything okay?" he asked me.

Shaking my head, I responded with, "Not really, but it's nothing to concern yourself with. We'll resume your lessons upon my return." My hands were folded demurely in front of me and I fought the urge to twist them nervously. Settle down, Zabela. A deep breath in and out, released soundlessly, and I was fine again.

"Are you in trouble?" Sylar asked, "Do you need help?"

"No," I replied with a polite smile, "I'll be fine. Thank you for your concern."

Sensing that he wouldn't get any more from me, Sylar shrugged his slender shoulders and started walking towards the door where his shoes sat. "Okay," he said mildly, shoving his feet into his chuck taylors, "Call me when you're back."

"I don't have your number," I said quickly as he was unlocking my front door. He turned, grinning, and pointed a finger at the notepad magnetized on my refrigerator door. A second later a phone number appeared there as though he had just written it. Then Sylar slipped past me with one last look at my face. I couldn't tell what he was thinking from the expression he wore, but as he walked out the door, he touched me casually on my arm.

"You can also call if you find that you do need my assistance after all," Sylar dropped casually just before I closed the door on him.

I packed quickly and was on my way out the door twenty minutes later. Without stopping to think too much about why I did it, I entered his number in my phone just as I was leaving.