Chapter 31- Moving On
In the weeks that followed that awful rainy night, Peter kept busy trying to manage the influx of new acquisitions and all of the questions they had about the mysterious man that murdered their awful owner. For the most part, he deflected their hushed inquiries and he was a little dismayed that they viewed Sylar as something of a folk hero for his actions. He understood that they suffered under Arthur's ownership, but he couldn't bring himself to celebrate the man's death as though he won the lottery either.
The house seemed just a little lonelier now that Hiro and Ando were gone as well. While Maria's plan didn't exactly go off without a hitch, it still had a happy ending. Ando did go to Tipton, but the intended buyer was delayed by a few days and he missed his connection with Hiro in Minnesota, but they were eventually reunited in Canada and by all accounts were doing well now that they were free of their chips. Not surprisingly, Hiro vowed to make it his mission to help other specials by simply teleporting them to Canada or Europe himself. Why climb a ladder when you can jump to the top? He offered to come back for his former colleagues, but they all preferred to work within Maria's system in part because Hiro was only one man, even if he was stubbornly determined, and there was still a need for the ladder to function to keep funneling people north in a steady stream. Mohinder, Matt, and Peter all decided to stay because in reality it wasn't so bad for them and they believed in her cause enough to forgo their own freedom to help others achieve theirs. Peter also stayed for Maria's sake, although he never outright said it.
Something had undeniably changed for Maria since her encounter with Gabriel. Although she smiled bravely and continued her work on the quiet dissemination of the serum to friends while publicly pretending to support the slave system, it was as if she had lost a part of herself. All too often, the house was permeated with a sense of sadness and it drove Peter mad because no matter what he tried, he couldn't fix it. Sylar's presence had altered the very fabric of their existence and there was no going back. He sometimes wondered if he should have left him hanging in Tipton's tent that day. Someone else may have eventually bought him, but in the end he couldn't see doing it any other way. Realistically, it would have been a death sentence and he knew it. Either Tipton himself would have killed him eventually, or chances were he would have been bought by someone like Jessup who would have punished him to the point of death for his defiant nature, or he would have ran away and been caught just like he did, but Peter and the others wouldn't have been there to help him and he would have been executed for his insolence. Any way he looked at it, persuading Maria to buy him was the only real option that day even though he couldn't have anticipated the consequences of his mercy.
While going through her desk looking for a pen one day, he found the gold bracelet he ordered still in its box. He removed it and faintly smiled when he read the inscription: Gabriel Gray- property of Maria Siegel. He didn't know exactly what was behind the sadness Maria felt or why she chose to keep the bracelet, but he hoped it wasn't anything romantic because things could have been so much worse if she got involved with him in that way. It was none of his business to question if an affair such as that would be dishonoring Bryant's memory, but one thing was for sure- Sylar could never be the man Bryant was for her. He wasn't exactly what one would consider boyfriend material and despite all of his abilities, he could never give her what she truly needed or deserved. The very thought of it pissed him off. How was it Sylar kept falling into piles of gold and never seemed to appreciate it? It was as if he carried a leprechaun in a pocket of the dark clothes he always wore, never worrying about the outcomes of his actions because he knew luck was always on his side.
He tried to muddle through his days the best he could, content to know that each day he worked he brought one more person closer to freedom by doing the most mundane of tasks and today was no different. He stopped in the garden to check on two of Arthur's former slaves, ordered more cleaning supplies, picked up the dry cleaning and made a stop at the post office and it wasn't even lunch yet. He breezed through the house with mail and packages in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other. He used his telekinesis to open the door to Maria's library and started to smile when he spotted her at her desk, but he noticed she had company and he shot her a panicked look. He couldn't believe he let himself get so sloppy to forget to knock first and use his power so openly; he hoped it wouldn't cause any trouble. "It's ok, Peter." She laughed at his stunned expression. "It's just Noah." Noah turned in his seat and smiled in amusement.
"Oh." He sighed with a relieved smile. "Thank god." He nodded as a greeting to Noah and plopped the pile of mail down on her desk. "Know anybody in Italy?" He asked her knitting his brows in suspicion.
"No," She replied equally perplexed. "why?"
"You got a package postmarked from Florence." He gestured to a small, plainly wrapped box with her name neatly printed on it and no return address.
Noah eyed it from where he was sitting and observed, "Whoever addressed it was left handed."
She looked at the package and smiled in confusion at his suggestion. "How do you know that?" He never ceased to amaze her with the random things he seemed to just know for certain.
"The letters slant forward." He stated as though everyone knew this. "People who are left handed have to turn the paper 45 degrees so they can see what they are writing and it causes the letters to slant forward when you hold the paper straight." He chuckled and asked, "Do you know any left handed Italians?"
"Just the fabulous Petrelli brothers and I think they are both right handed." She glanced up at Peter and he saluted her with is coffee cup and his endearing lopsided grin.
Although she wouldn't normally tend to her mail while she had a guest, the curiosity was killing her. With Noah's gracious permission, and his unspoken piqued interest, she carefully opened the small package to find a black velvet bag and a grey velvet covered box resting next to it. She pulled apart the string closure of the bag and dumped out the contents in her hand. She smiled in disbelief to see her Ebel watch that she had given to Gabriel to fix. It went missing along with him and she never expected to see it again, but it had been polished and returned in better condition than she left it.
"Well," Peter shrugged, "Sylar's not Italian, but he is left handed."
"He sent you a watch?" Noah asked mystified. The very first thing that popped into his mind was the possibility that it was some kind of calling card. It would fit him perfectly, although if that were the case, he didn't plan on having many victims because it was a fairly expensive item.
"It was mine. He returned it." She explained while she slowly opened the grey box. Her eyes went wide and she gasped. "This wasn't mine." Resting in the box was a beautiful silver watch with a clean and simple yet elegant design- clearly well made and very expensive.
Peter craned his neck and read the gold lettering printed on the silk lining of the lid, "Vacheron Constantin- Geneve 1755." He nodded in appreciation. "That's…that looks like some pricey bling."
"Constantin is considered one of the best timepiece companies in the world." Noah seemed impressed despite himself and he had to question Sylar's motive for such a gift. She glanced up at him with another curious look and he added, "I used to travel to Switzerland frequently and no one does timepieces better than the Swiss."
Tucked in the box was a small piece of paper. She unfolded it and in the same neat lettering was a note that read simply, "From someone else with impeccable taste." She smiled when she remembered that was what Gabriel said about the Shakespeare book Bryant bought her. "But how did he get this?" She wondered aloud.
"It's probably better you don't ask." Noah warned shifting uncomfortably in his chair. He knew that brand of watch often ran north of a million dollars and he could only imagine it was stolen- directly from a shop or off the cold dead wrist of one of his victims.
At the very bottom of the box was a photograph. It was taken from a table in an outdoor café, the empty trellis chairs and tables scattered like leaves among the perimeter of red geraniums that marked the establishment's border on the sidewalk. In the distance was a statue surrounded by pigeons in an open cobblestone square flanked by an impressively ornate marble building that could have been a cathedral. On the back were the words 'La dolce vita'
Peter laughed. "The sweet life, huh? I'll bet he thinks it is."
She gently placed the box on her desk and smiled warmly. She didn't know where he got the watch or why he chose to send it to her, but in her mind she took it as his way of thanking her without explicitly doing so. At any rate, she was genuinely glad to know that he was doing well after he dropped off the face of the Earth weeks ago. Although she knew he was more or less invincible with his abilities intact, she couldn't help but worry about him the same way she still worried about Micah, Molly, Claire, Hiro, and Ando. They had all touched her life and gave her meaning and purpose; Gabriel was no different in that respect even if he was just a little more special to her- just like Peter. Even though Peter and Noah had subsequently filled her in on some of his past, she chose to remember the man she knew for a week rather than the one that rose from the dead on her lab table in the basement and was responsible for the death of her husband. She didn't know that man and still didn't entirely forgive him, but she did know Gabriel- the shy and awkwardly sweet watchmaker.
Sylar wrapped his black coat around himself a little tighter while the cold air tousled his dark hair. The square was mostly empty save himself, some blowing leaves, and a bronze statue of an angel looking down at him with a mix of sadness and pity. It was nearly midnight and a storm was blowing in from the sea. The cold air was heavy with the smell of salt and he looked out at the dark choppy water off the western coast of England toward his homeland.
He never could have guessed that he would find himself in this position. Although the journey was long and hard he made it out, crossed the border into Canada like a fugitive, and lied about his nationality and name in order to travel to Europe. Initially he wanted to get as far away as possible and he found the warm climate and culture of the Mediterranean to be pleasant, but he soon grew restless and bored. He roamed the continent, never really stopping at any given place for anything other than food or rest before moving on. He never thought it possible, but he- the loner- actually missed all that was familiar.
Perhaps that was what made him send Maria's watch back. He originally planned to sell it to fund his journey, but it remained in his pocket as he found other means to get money. Try as he might, he couldn't identify an ulterior motive for her actions and he spent plenty of time on the pursuit. Unlike Angela who constantly had her claws in him, or Noah who had a target tattooed on his forehead, or any of them for that matter, she didn't try to force him to participate in her schemes or ask for anything in return for helping him. He was still far from being her ally, but just as he respected Iago's solitary nature, she seemed to honor his. The watch meant more to her than it did him and he knew this because sometimes he would see the memories attached to it when he touched it. What he most often sensed was what he himself had always wanted: unconditional love.
It was only a stroke of luck that he found the Constantin in the home of a very wealthy socialite with an ability he wanted. He could have kept it, but it was a small act of contrition on his part to also send it as his gift to her. He knew its worth and although he could never replace what he had taken from her, he hoped in some small way that it would at least signify a slight tip of his hat to her for her efforts. He would probably never see her again, but he did have to admit that she treated him well even if he didn't agree with her continued indirect support of the system.
He shivered slightly as the wind picked up and he felt small drops of rain on his face. He didn't understand it, maybe it was because he never actually got Bryant's power or maybe his hunger was fading somewhat, but things were different for him now. He was still every bit the cold, calculating machine he had always been, but his time in the system had changed him and although it was uncharacteristic of him, it was what brought him to the square late at night in the middle of a storm.
"Sylar," came a small, world weary voice, "always on time, as usual."
He turned to see Claire's small frame before him, her blonde hair whipping wildly in the wind. She didn't look at all happy to see him and he suspected she still held her grudge against him for taking her power. She would have to let go sooner or later, he reasoned, forever was a very long time for them to be around and he wasn't about to apologize. "What else would you expect from a watchmaker?" He smirked.
"An evil one." She spat. He couldn't blame her for her mistrust, but he didn't feel as though he owed her an explanation for his motivations either. Her eyes softened a little and she asked in a quiet voice, "Did you really kill the Jessups?" There was something almost hopeful in her voice and it gave him pause. He knew she was at Maria's before him, but he never considered the possibility that she too experienced their sadistic tendencies. He assumed Peter would have stopped her from going over there… He gave her a small affirmative nod and she seemed to be relieved by it to his surprise.
They were joined by another figure who remained in the shadows and it was obvious that the meeting was going to be short. "Sylar." Nathan greeted hastily while he glanced around nervously. It just wouldn't do for his career back home if he was caught consorting with his illegitimate special daughter and a supervillian serial killer. His large, brown eyes were earnest yet cautious. "You sure you want to do this? I was quite surprised to hear that you of all people were signing up."
"Why would it surprise you?" He asked narrowing his eyes. "Do you know what they do to people like us?" I can't even sneeze without an alarm going off somewhere…
Nathan gestured for him to lower his voice and he sighed. "Yes, I am well aware and I have been trying to end it through diplomatic channels, but I think it might take a push from the inside to get the job done."
"I'm not in it for political purposes." He clarified in a menacing tone. "I just want to go home and live my life and I can't do that so long as the system is operational. I will help you take it down, but after that I walk away and you don't follow me."
"Fair enough." Nathan reluctantly agreed. He knew that in exchange for Sylar's talents, he would later have to give him a free pass down the road, but some things were just bigger than either of them. If this plan was going to succeed, they would need someone like him on board- someone who would be willing to do the dirty work and not get caught. It wasn't pleasant, but it was realistic and if he could be trusted, Sylar was the man for the job.
"How did you find out about the revolution?" Claire asked, tucking a strip of her hair behind her ear to keep it from flailing.
Sylar quirked his eyebrow in confusion. "I don't know. I got this text message from 'Rebel' to meet you here…."
A/N: So thanks to everyone who reviewed, voted, and added this little ditty to alerts and favorites! It was fun while it lasted, but we have reached the end ;(
Before you ask, I wasn't planning on a sequel…RL is a little crazy right now….