AN: This is for julyisfree's prompt: Happy birthday. When I saw this prompt I couldn't help but write it. This is AU for it takes place in The Protector universe and to those who are familiar with this universe it takes place years before the first chapter, but after the prologue. I also want dedicate this to Purple Lex whose b-day is today and so I rushed to finish this especially since the prompt fit the occasion. ;) I hope you enjoy!

Disclaimer: Sadly I don't own Heroes.

The doorbell rang. Five-year-old Claire didn't hesitate to pull away from her group of friends and run toward the door. "That has to be him!"

"Claire!" Noah called over the loud noise. "Don't run!"

She instantly stopped and looked over her shoulder smiling sheepishly at her father. "Okay daddy." He nodded at her giving her the signal to go ahead and open the door. Without a second thought Claire finished speed walking to the door and opened it.

"Happy Birthday!"

Claire found herself forcing a smile as another one of her friends hugged her. She grabbed the gift her friend was offering and thanked her along with parents before welcoming them in. Claire tried not to let the disappointment she felt inside be seen; nonetheless a frown marred her face as she continued to look through the open door. She wanted to run out there to see if he was walking toward the house instead of driving, but before she could even take a step outside the house a warm hand on her shoulder stopped her. She didn't have to look over her shoulder to know who it was. "Has he called?"

"No he hasn't Claire Bear."

"Have you tried calling him?"

"Yes, but he's not picking up."

Her small hands curled into fists not caring that her action was ruining the beautifully wrapped up gift. She felt like stomping her foot and throwing a tantrum, but her mother made sure to remind her that was not how a polite little girl would act.

"Sweetheart," Noah crouched down so he was at eye level with her when he turned her around. He could see tears welling up in her eyes, but she was fighting them back, her bottom lip trembled with the struggle. "I'll tell you the moment he calls."

"Promise?" She asked rubbing her eyes.

"Promise." He placed a kiss on his daughter's forehead before prying the gift from her fists. "Go play with your friends."


Just as Sandra began to gather everyone to cut the cake Noah's cell phone rang. He met his wife's curious gaze before glancing at his daughter who was looking at him hopefully. Noah excused himself. "Where the hell are you?" He growled the question in greeting once he was in his office.

"I can't make it."

"I got that memo when I noticed that the party would end in an hour and you're not here."

"You know I had every intention to go." Sylar snapped losing his last ounce of patience.

Noah sighed dropping the matter knowing it was rare for Sylar to lash out. "What happened?"

"Thompson called me in last minute to do a hostage negotiation."

"Couldn't he get Claude to go in?"

"Claude is on another assignment right now." Sylar sighed. "I have been trying talk to the SOB for the past three hours and he still won't budge."

"Suicidal?"

"Maybe, but right now I don't give a shit anymore. I'm going to storm that shit hole and drag that fucker kicking and screaming."

"So what time should I tell Claire to expect you here?"

"As soon as I'm done here."

"Tomorrow?"

"Morning."

Noah smirked when he heard Sylar curse.

"Thompson is coming back. Tell Claire I'm sorry."

"I will."

"Don't forget to give her my gift."

"As soon as I remember where I put it."

"You better pray to God that you're joking Bennet."

"I'll save you a piece of cake."

"Bas—"

Noah ended the call and slipped the phone back into his pocket. He stepped out the room and met his wife's gaze signaling for her to continue cutting the cake. Claire who had seen the exchange met her father's gaze only for him to shake his head and disappointment flooded her again.


"I'm done."

"What?" Thompson looked over his shoulder to see Sylar taking off his suit jacket and rolling up his sleeves to his elbows. "What are you doing?"

"Something I should have done a long time ago." He growled. "I knew that since the first time I spoke with him he didn't want to compromise. There are only two possible ways this could end. He will kill those inside before killing himself or he will simply kill himself."

"Are you sure?"

"I read the report. His powers manifested and as result he killed his wife. Unintentional, but even so he knows that he's responsible. The man is on the thin line between sanity and insanity. Guilt is eating his conscious away. I don't know who the bigger idiot between me and him is."

Thompson looked at him curiously. "What do you mean?"

"This is his cry for help and I didn't bother to act sooner." His hands clenched into fists. He could have figured it all out hours before, if his head wasn't in the gutter, if his mind was here instead of wondering about a little girl he broke a promise to. "Now the question is, should I end his misery or force him to live with it?"

"We bag and tag him."

"Options, options, options…" Sylar shook his head.

"Did you hear me?"

"Yes I did." He glanced at his mentor. "Don't you ever think that it's better if the ones that wanted to die should be allowed to?"

"That's not my call. We don't play Gods."

"Yet in a way we still do. We exert our will over theirs." Sylar walked passed him.

"Remember bag and tag."

"Of course." The smile that curved on Sylar's lips invoked fear.

The doors to the building parted at the wave of his hand. He strolled in as if he owned the placed. Thompson watched him go with a heavy conscious. He knew what Sylar meant, but the field they worked in had many shades of gray. It could never be just white and black. They only thing that kept them from going rogue or breaking under the pressure was that fact that there were rules to follow, but each individual had their own moral code. They brought in the subject whichever way they chose as long as it gets the job done. The sound of glass breaking pierced through Thompson's thoughts and had him looking up only to see the target Bastian Zabini falling from the building, while Sylar stood by the broken window smirking.

Just as Bastian's body was about to make impact with the cement it stopped and hovered in the air. Thompson let go the breath he didn't realize he had been holding only to mentally curse when the body lifted back into the air toward Sylar. "Come on Sylar, don't do anything stupid!" Thompson ran into the building and took the stairs up to the fourth floor. "Sylar!"

Sylar stood by the broken window with his hand wrapped around Bastian's neck holding his body out the building.

"Put him down."

He looked at Thompson amused. "I don't thi—"

"Inside the building." Thompson specified.

"Now that makes perfect sense." Sylar turned to meet Bastian's eyes that were now filled with horror instead of the crazed look it had moments ago. "Hopefully that little stunt will satisfy your thirst for death just a little." He said to him lowly so only he could hear. "Let it sink in, let your power settle. We can help you."

Tears gathered in the man's eyes as pain made its face known in his gaze. "No amount of help will bring her back to me."

"You're right. She will never come back, but because of her untimely death you should live for her." Sylar pulled the man back in and set him on his feet. "If it's still too much to bear than you can take your own life away, but don't throw it away without even trying. You owe her that much at least." He let go of the Bastian's neck and watched him crumble to his knees as his body shook with sobs. Without another word Sylar turned away from the broken man and walked toward Thompson. "He's all yours."

"I'll take care of the rest." Thompson clapped him on the shoulder. "Go do what you have to do."

"I will." Sylar used his telekinesis to levitate the company car keys out of Thompson's pocket as he walked passed him. "Make sure you call someone to come pick you up." He said in farewell before whistling as he walked toward the elevator. Just as Sylar entered it and turned around he saw Thompson looking through his pockets only for understanding to dawn on his features. Sylar smirked and waved when Thompson met his gaze as the doors closed.


"He promised he would come daddy." Claire tried hard not to cry as Noah broke the news to her.

"I know Claire Bear, but Sylar got called in to work."

"Did he not ask for the day off?"

"He did, but he still got called in." Noah pulled out a small package from his sweater. "He told me to give you this in case he couldn't make it."

"Gabriel gave you my present…" She bit her bottom lip. "He knew he wasn't coming."

"That's not it." He told her gently. "It was a precaution."

"He broke his promise daddy." This time the tears fell and Noah was not prepared.

Noah was coming to a startling realization that when it came to Claire and the subject surrounded Sylar he didn't know how to deal with it especially when tears were involved. "Sylar didn't mean to." He wiped her tears away. "Don't you want to open his gift?

"No! I don't want it!" Her actions contradicted her words as she grabbed the gift and ran up the stairs passed Sandra.

"It's okay." Sandra told her husband soothingly and rubbed circles back on his back. "The worst is over."

"I'm going to murder him for making her cry."

"No you won't." Sandra smiled. "Claire wouldn't forgive you."

"She won't have to know."

"Even so she would miss him and cry more with his absence."

"You're right." Noah sighed taking off his glasses and rubbing the bridge of his nose. "I don't know if I should be worried that Sylar's absence kept her from enjoying her party to the fullest…" He glanced at the table filled with gifts that had yet to be opened.

"She did enjoy herself."

"When she wasn't opening doors or looking through windows."

"Now you're over exaggerating." She chuckled. "She likes him and if I am being honest I would approve of a relationship between her and him than any other boy who could walk into her life. At least with Sylar I know he will look after her and not intentionally hurt her."

"We are not having this discussion. She is too young."

"I can't wait to see your reaction when she starts dating."

"That won't happen for a very…very long time."

"You'll be scaring those poor boys away."

"You know me too well." Noah smirked before giving her a small kiss on the lips. "If my intimidating look doesn't work then one look at Sylar would send them running to the door."

"You're wrong." Sandra smirked. "He won't even let them walk in through the door."

"I knew there was a reason why I kept him around all these years."


Sylar waited patiently for the front door to open and when it did he couldn't stop the smirk that curved on his lips as Noah greeted him with a glare.

"When you said morning I thought you meant with the sun rising."

"It is AM."

"It's midnight." Noah growled. "I should be asleep at this ungodly hour."

"I know but I had still wanted to make it on the day of her birthday…even if she was asleep."

He raised an eyebrow. "You're a minute late."

"I know, now are you going to let me in?"

"I'm still thinking on it considering you woke me up."

"Don't think I'm not telling Sandra about this in the morning."

"Not a word to her." Noah relented by stepping aside.

"I'm still thinking on it considering you had me standing out in the cold."

He tried to not smile at the way Sylar threw his words back him. He would never admit it out loud, but after not being able to truly catch up with the young man for almost a month had him missing their banter. "Still being a smartass."

"I learn from the best." Sylar winked before entering the living room.

Noah went upstairs to grab a pillow and blanket from the closet before walking back down to see Sylar lying on the couch face down. The sound of faint snoring echoed in the living room. Normally Sylar would sleep in Lyle's room since it used to be a guest room and after it was turned into a nursery he didn't mind sharing a room with the baby. The nights that Noah couldn't make it back home after Lyle had barely been born Sylar had been there. Sandra would tell him how much help Sylar was by putting Lyle back to sleep when he woke up in the middle of the night so she could have more time to sleep. Trying not to make a sound Noah carefully placed the blanket over the twenty-one-year old.


The sound of a gasp woke Sylar up. He sat up sleepily to see Claire looking at him surprise. "Good morning Claire Bear."

Claire forced herself to stay where she was instead running to him and hugging tight like she always did. He had broken his promise. He hurt her and yet she slept with the necklace he gave her as a gift. Holding it in her hand the entire time because it reminded him that he cared, that he tried to make it and yet here he was and she couldn't run to him like she wanted to. "Only dad calls me that."

"Are you still mad about yesterday?"

"You broke your promise."

"I tried to keep it Claire. I really did."

Her hands curled into fists. The necklace bit into her palm.

"If breaking a promise hurts you this much then I won't make any more promises to you."

Claire tried hard not to cry at his words. This was not how she planned their meeting would go.

"I don't want to ever hurt you." Sylar told her gently when he saw the tears in her eyes. "Not when I can prevent it."

Promises were the only thing that kept him coming back. If he didn't make any more promises with her then he won't come back. The thought of not seeing him again had tears silently streaming down her face. "You won't come back."

He remained silent confused at her words. She was one of the few who kept him on his toes and at such a young age it was a wonder to him. He didn't know what to expect of her when she grew older and he could only guess that things would be more complicated when it came to her.

"I make you promise because…then I know you will come back." She shook her head. "No promise, then you won't come back."

When it dawned on him what she meant he felt disappointment. He had not made it clear that he would always come back to them, to her, his bundle of joy. "Claire, I thought it went without saying that I will always come back. No matter how long I may go without visiting I will come back."

"Do you really mean that?" Claire asked as she wiped her tears away.

"Of course you're my bundle of joy."

A smile curved on her lips at the nickname he bestowed upon her. She had no idea just how true it rang. Just like that the tension was broken. Claire ran to him throwing her arms around him and holding him tight. "Welcome home."

A smile that mirrored hers graced his lips as he hugged her back. "I'm glad to be home." It was when she pulled away that he noticed she wasn't wearing the necklace he bought her. "You didn't like the gift I gave you?"

"I did." Claire looked at the ground sheepishly.

"Then why aren't you wearing it?" He asked genuinely curious since she always put on the trinkets he would give her, but this time she didn't.

"You weren't here to put it on me." She responded meeting his gaze shyly. "You always put it on me."

It wasn't until she stated it that he realized she was right. As a baby he made sure to put on the bracelet he bought her, the plastic set of necklaces he got her when she turned one, a pair of earrings when she turned two, a small ring attached to a bracelet by a chain at the age of three, and at the age of four he helped her put on the tap shoes she wanted after watching a Shirley Temple movie with him. He wasn't there for her fifth birthday. "Do you have the necklace?"

Claire nodded and handed it to him. Without another word he brushed her hair aside and clasped it on. She looked at it for a moment before meeting his gaze again. "I love it!"

"I'm glad you do." He ran his hand through her hair affectionately. "I still have one more present I want to give you."

"Another one?" she asked barely keeping herself from jumping up and down.

"Yes another one." Sylar chuckled as he reached for his suit jacket and searched the pockets until he found what he was looking for.

Claire watched curiously as he pulled out a small red ball.

"I have had this ball since I was eight and over the years it reminded me what I was and what I did." Sylar met her gaze. "I don't need it anymore because I have people to remind me now and above all else I know what I am capable of. Even so this ball is very important to me and it is my most treasured possession, but I don't want it collecting dust. I want you to have it."

"Why me?" She looked at the red ball with wonder and held it carefully in her hands when he gave it to her.

"You are the person I treasure the most." The way her face lit up he knew he did the right thing. That he could trust her with the ball. Sylar picked her up and placed her on his lap cradling her, while she cradled the red ball in her hands. She chuckled when he lay back down on the couch taking her with him. Silence settled over them and it wasn't long before Sylar's mind began to wander off as he ran his hand through her hair. He remembered the man from the day before. The thought of losing someone close to him because of his power disturbed him. He had yet to reach that level of love for anyone that could drive him to the brink of insanity or contemplate taking his own life.

Then there was the issue with obtaining powers. Many got them at an older age, while he and some other few exceptions had gotten them at a young age. With each year that went by Sylar became concerned. What if Claire got them? Would Noah turn her in like he's supposed to? If so, would he go against him and Thompson in order to protect Claire? His hand stopped running through her hair as his other arm tightened his hold on her. Was there ever an option for her? Was there ever an option when it came to her? "I'll protect you." The words slipped through his lips on their own accord.

"I know you will." Claire moved her head so she was looking up at him.

He would protect her and in doing so, give her the option to chose her own fate in this life.

"Gabriel."

"Hmm."

"I love you."

Without missing a beat he uttered the words that no other living soul had heard from him except for her. "I love you too." She was always the exception for him.

AN: I apologize for any grammatical errors. I hope you enjoyed it nonetheless! Please don't forget to review I love hearing from you guys. (^_^)

AN 2: If you're looking for some good Sylaire fics to read check out julyisfree, Purple Lex, Heoresfan1, and Anei. They have some really amazing ones.