Warnings: Suicide attempt, blood and guts and murder! Really, this is maybe kind of dark.
Disclaimer: Not mine, blah blah blah.
Summary: In the mirror he is only what he was before. Set circa episode 3x08.
Word count: 1,338
Author's notes: Written for my claim at sacred_20. This is kind of like a weird experimental character-study thing, and it is, naturally, extremely angsty. You have been advised.
X-posted to: sacred_20, heroes_sylar
He is done with all that, he tells himself now: done with guilt and the splintering of bone, the smell of copper on his skin. He can stop, he can change. In the mirror he is only what he was before; wan and unremarkable, with bitten lips and dark staring eyes. He runs his comb under the tap and flattens his hair against his forehead, watching his reflection warily all the while. He can't say what it is, exactly, that he's looking for: a feral glint behind his glasses, maybe, or the corners of his mouth twitching into a smile. He will know it when he sees it. He tells himself he'll never see it again, the face he has worn for the past six months, and the thought fills him with hope and despair in equal measure.
He is done with all that, he tells himself now.
In the mirror he is only what he was, with lips parted as though startled and dark dissatisfied eyes. The dissatisfaction was there all along, which is how he can pretend it's nothing to do with his other self, with the things he has done. He pretends not to know better.
He is done with all that, he tells himself now.
He tells himself. He tells himself. He waits for it to begin to ring true.
It was a hot night, for October, and the taxi's windows were fogged so that everything outside appeared to Sylar in soft focus. Nothing looked as ugly as it was. But he could see Suresh clearly enough: eyes bulging in their sockets, the inarticulate workings of his mouth. When his neck snapped, it was too loud inside the small cab. It was a dull wet crack like hands clapping together, and the sound of it jolted Sylar awake.
(Sylar, or else Gabriel. Neither name seems to fit anymore.)
Walking home, after, there was a sourness at the back of his throat, a heaviness to his steps. Sylar felt disoriented, and a bit stupid, as though he had just caught himself in some ridiculous daydream. He flexed his fingers impatiently, sure that he could still feel Chandra Suresh's pulse slowing beneath them. And other things as well: the grit of hair, a rough edge of shattered skull. Brian, David, James; only names, only what he could rip from them. His mouth tasted the way it always did, in the moments after taking a life, when the reek of fresh death swelled in his nose: metallic and rotten, vivid as blood.
It was a hot night, for October. Sylar
(Sylar, or else Gabriel. He is both. He has been both.)
paused at a streetcorner. A bus sped past, making him jump. He saw himself adrift in the darkening city, the quavering glow of headlights and neon, the chattering and mostly drunken crowd pushing down the sidewalk behind him. He pressed the button for the "walk" sign, and it struck him suddenly as grimly hilarious, that he should be reticent to jaywalk when he had shown no qualms about committing the worst crime he could think of, committing it again and again. A laugh bubbled up from his throat, but it snuffed itself out before it could pass his lips.
The first coherent words he thought were, Forgive me.
In the street, the cars inched forward, one stopping just feet before him. His reflection rippled in the side window's tinted glass. He was only what he was before: white and trembling lips, frightened eyes.
He was done with all that, he told himself then.
He told himself. But he had always been a good liar.
He steps into the shop and pauses, tilts his head to listen for the ticking of the clocks. He knows their language, by now. I have fallen behind, they say, or else I am moving too fast, I can't stop. He is less interested in the ones he's already seen to, waiting behind the counter for their owners to return. They have nothing to say for themselves: they can only observe the hours and the minutes; seconds ticking past while he stands motionless in his darkened shop.
(Gabriel, he will be Gabriel again; silent and guileless, washed clean in the shadows)
hears himself swallow.
His footfalls are drowned out by the ticking as he makes his way to his workbench. The piece waiting for him there is a good one: a Blancpain, antique, its exposed mechanism a delicate and visceral tangle. It judders obscenely. With its sour notes, it asks to be remade. There are things missing, is what it tells Gabriel. Things inside of me.
It is the first time in days that anybody has spoken to him.
His fingers do not shake as they prise loose the first cog. A steady hand is important, for repairing watches. For other things as well. But Gabriel bites his lip and chases the thought from his mind: those other things, they are over and gone. He is done with all that, he tells himself now.
The Blancpain grinds in complaint at his ministrations. Its silvery bones rasp gamely, keeping nothing like time now; an automaton in its unthinking paces or a small broken body struggling for life. Gabriel
(and someday it will not feel like playacting, to be Gabriel again)
fixes his gaze on the moving parts, not looking away as he feels blindly on the table for his tweezers. Precisely, without disturbing the fluttering all around it, he pulls free a lever, and in the purity of his satisfaction he recalls all at once what his life really was, before. The dissatisfaction was there all along, which is how he’s let himself forget that it was not all bad. There were moments like this one, more than he can count, and there are more of them waiting to be taken. If these flashes of understanding are only a simple triumph, they are a triumph all the same.
The lever gone, the watch falls silent in his hands. And
(His fingers did not shake as they snapped away thin shards of Brian Davis’s brain, six months from where he is now. Three steps from where he is now. In every way that counted, Davis was already dead, but each bit of bone came away to reveal more secret pink flesh, and something there was flashing still. He is done with all that, done with all that, but when will he forget the things he has seen, the small personal miracles he created? Gabriel did not know then that he would never simply be Gabriel again. He knew only that he had found a new kind of machinery, richer than clockwork, and that without being told how he could read it like a map.)
in that silence he sees himself clear. There are things missing, inside of me.
In the back of the shop, he finds a length of rope. It is filthy, and ravelling at the ends. It must have been here since his father's day, but when he pulls it appraisingly between his hands, it does not give. He understands at once that it will hold his weight. Gabriel knows what to do next.
(Gabriel, or else Sylar. He will slip away from them both. In the air his legs jerk like dancing.)
He is done with
The bells above the shop door chime, breaking the silence, and Gabriel, he falls.
There is a moment in which he believes that it has worked, but then he takes a breath, and another. The air burns at his throat. His head throbs in time with his heart. The first coherent words he thinks are Forgive me. He doesn't mean to say them aloud.
(And he will believe, for hours and days, that he has been forgiven; like anybody else, he knows himself so little. He is done with all that, he will think tomorrow upon waking, but in the mirror he will still be what he was.)