Two Is Company



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jenny_icon.gif gillian_icon.gif

Scene Title Two Is Company
Synopsis Ghosts of the past come to torment Sylar while locked in Kazimir's cage. But it's not all bad.
Date January 19, 2009


The beach was better.

Sedation comes in waves. No one monitors him but the drugs, they continue to wind down the tubes feeding into his system to keep him under. He had spent a long time like this but even then, there was someone to check on him, at least. Someone in a white coat, looking at him like an interesting specimen and certainly not human, extracting needles, pushing new ones in. No, here, no one comes. Perhaps they do when it all shifts to black, but he doubts it. He wonders if they've forgotten about him. He wishes he could breathe properly.

Sylar lies atop the cold metal table, restraints around his wrists and ankles, straps snaking over his knees, hips, chest, across his forehead. Four cement walls loom over him, bleeding into a ceiling of the same material, and in the bottom of his sight, there's a glass window that remains lit up, but empty. IVs feed into his arms, a plastic tube snakes its way into his nose, taped to his lip, and his eyes are barely open.

For once, he'd like to wake up to the beach again. At least there, the presence of Kazimir was on the horizon. But here, this cell, the needles, the restraints - this is Kazimir.

The beach would have to be better.

There's calming sounds, the breeze of air. All there happens to be here is the soft sound of the IV drip and something else… a drip, like a grate appearing in the floor, and some water falling down miles into the metal pipes. Each drip exaggerated, each one taking longer than the last, as if the bottom of the pipe gets further and further away— or as if something's making the distance longer.

A scrap of metal follows, and then there's a voice. Though shaking, there's a hint of defiance wrapped in the voice. "This looks familiar," she says, moving a little closer— until a shadow falls over his barely open eyes. There's a drop of liquid that falls on his cheek, blood. The top of her head is missing for a moment, skull cut through, hair even more red from the blood. It drowns down her face, making her eyes impossible to see, her lips red.

The flash changes. She's whole again. Skin pale from negelect, gaunt from lack of nurishment.

"I remember what this was like. Being trapped. Being closed in… No escape. Treated like I was less than human…" Her hand reaches up, touching the line of warm blood she dripped on him. "I just wanted to go home."

The image of the girl standing there, head sliced open and raining dark red down her face, makes Sylar flinch away, the blood landing and streaking down his face doing more to rouse him. His hands fist weakly, restraints creaking, before he goes still again. Through a bleary gaze, he watches her loom over him, blocking out the harsh lights, haloing around red hair, almost enough to wash out her gauntness. Another twitch, a flinch as she touches his face, and his mouth opens. His tongue feels dead, rough as sandpaper, and at first only a small, choking noise is his response.

Eileen had told him. The others were here, in his head. Naturally the only one to wander this far into Kazimir's trap would be the one who would potentially leave him there.

"Help," murmurs, lips dry, cracked from a lack of hydration. The sound of the ocean, he can hear it now, and it wraps around them. But it's not the sound of reprieve of before, no, it's the sound that follows the ghost of Jennifer Childs, the ocean outside the warehouse wherein she lived her last moments.

The hand on his cheek runs down to his chin, then to his neck. It smears blood over his shirt, sliding toward his stomach. Jenny can't help but tilt her head, looking at him in much the same way that she'd been looked at, many times. "A change of position, wouldn't you say…" The hand stays on his stomach for a moment— and the moisture in the room starts to grow, humidity rising. That drip that seemed so far away, the sound of ocean, gets closer… Water seems to be sliding down the walls, coming in cracks, making the way into the room. It drips to the floor, rises up the walls unseen. The room seems to be filling with water.

"You didn't help me, did you? You didn't even tell me why I was there— what I did wrong. I was just an experiment to you… And isn't that all you really are here?"

The water slides up her body, down her arm, soaking his shirt.

"Isn't that what all us are? Is there really any difference between the captor and the captured? Between the guinea pig and the scientist? Isn't there always someone stronger than you? Someone who will make you feel like you're— this?" She shifts her hand, grabbing the IV in his arm and pulling until it's ripped out.

Setting him free? Maybe… or perhaps she wants him aware when the water rises high enough.

The water rises and so does his panic, lazy breathing heightening, becoming shallow as he feels the water trickle over him from her hand, hears it undulate against the walls, beneath the table, the scent of it taking over the smell of chemical and cement.

A small, sharp cry echoes off the walls, eyes squeezing shut at the pain of the IV ripping out of his arm. Sedation ebbs away but negation doesn't. Sylar isn't even sure he has those powers anymore, he's not sure what he has. "Yes," he rasps in agreement, groggily turning his head to look at her better. Rising water starts to lap at the edges of the table, soaking under him. A full-bodied twitch is given against his restraints. He can't even lift his head. "There's always someone…" He feels like he's moving in slow motion, the words coming slurred. He hasn't talked in days. "S-someone stronger. What makes them monsters is what they do with their strength."

The water soaks through fabric, soaks his hair, almost high enough to trickle into his ears. "Jenny. You're not a monster."

"I'm not a monster," Jenny agrees quietly, red hair hanging around her face, beginning to curl in the dampness, catching a natural wavyness that had faded out from weeks in the holding cells. She looks far more like that first night, when she'd been at her sister's apartment, trying to remove garbage from the apartment for her missing sibling. Who wasn't so missing to the man here.

The hand slides up the middle of his chest, then touches his face, as she leans in closer. It keeps rising, soaking the binds that hold him, threatening to come high enough that he might have difficulty breathing… "Water can be vengeful… angry. Driven by emotion… instinct. You learned this…" It splashes up against him once, threatening to go higher…

"But it can also be defensive, nurishing… protective." Her hand slides over his lips, dropping into his mouth, as if making an attempt to heal cracked lips. "Water follows the path of least resistance— and wears away on the hardest metals, the strongest rocks with time… And time is all we have now, isn't it?"

Instead of rising further, it begins to seep into his restraints, as if trying to do what she claimed water could do. "It's too bad," she adds, voice a little shaky again, scared. "I can't do more… but I'm not one to make you stronger."

The water seeps over the corners of his mouth before dipping lower again, uncomfortably high still but the threat of drowning passes, barely. As Jennifer's skin takes on a healthier tone, as her hair thickens and she becomes the woman she was before her capture, the water does something similar, wakes him up as if it were flushing the sedatives out of him, giving him the nourishment he'd been depraved of. The touch of her fingers against his mouth causes Sylar to close his eyes, as if under a spell, the hope of freedom or kindness something he can't take for granted anymore.

The leather wrapped about his wrists becomes looser, although clinging still - the same for the four straps keeping his body to the table. He can shift, he can breathe just a little. His eyes blink open again, stare up at her.

"Don't leave me here," he asks, breathless. "Please don't leave me here." He struggles, just a little, water splashing uncomfortably as he fights against the loosening restraints.

Water's effect on leather is slightly different than she'd mentioned for rock and metal. The leather expands at first— and then starts to shrink, growing harder. It slides under the binds and against his skin, giving some slippage, perhaps making the illusion that it's still loose— though it's not. Jenny remains leaning over him, hair hanging until it too touches his cheek. Red. Not the color of blood, but red. "You left me alone— I was alone for days— the longest company I had— was you."

There's no smile as she speaks, though her lips do part and stay parted for a quiet inhale. The leather continues to harden— but the effect is something else entirely. It's become more brittle. Cracks appear in the leather. What she said was still true. It wears away at the binds.

"Is you, actually. You made it so I'll never have company again— but I'll never be alone again, either. Always here… always a part of you."

There's a pause. "But you didn't care about me."

Pop. It's the sound of a seal breaking. Bubbles burst near the surface, splashing water onto his face briefly. It threatens to go into his nose, over his eyes, wash his face clean. She straightens up, hands pulling away. As the water rises up, it drains away, as if someone pulled a plug on a giant tub, letting all the water swirl and drain away. She starts to pull back, as if being dragged away with it.

As she's pulled away, dragged out of his sight into the depths of the water that vanishes down an open hole in the floor, a voice echos, as if carrying down a tunnel, "Told you. Not the one. To make you stronger."

Drip. Drip. Weakened binds, awakened state. But for a time he'll be alone. Except the the rhythmic dripping of water. So much like the tick of a clock.

The lights above him flicker, as if imagined water damage were tampering with them, and in a blink, they go out all together, leaving him in the dark save for the glow of light behind the window. The steady drip seems to echo through the darkness, accompanied with his own frightened breathing. "No," he whispers.

He's been saying that a lot lately.

Sylar shuts his eyes as if to keep the dark at bay, and then, attempts to fight against the recent binds. Loosened, the one from his head slips back, twisting his head to free himself from the loop of leather like a dog liberated from his collar. A leg kicks, breaking a restraint at his ankle, leg twisting to escape the strap over his knees, although his other remains caught. It's his hands, it's hands he needs, but even in the binds weakened state, he can't

…but I'm not one to make you stronger.

The words echo only in his memory— which means they may as well bounce audibly off the cement walls, that's how far deep in his mind he is— and he knows what it means. He knows who can make him stronger. But down here, maybe only the dead dare to walk. A growl of frustration erupts from his chest, and he struggles harder, pulling and thrashing in the dark like a trapped animal.

Alone. In the dark. It could be that way forever. As he struggles, the dripdrop of water becomes more difficult to hear, especially with the growl of frustration. When he stops for even a second, he'll hear it. A beat. Not water, more bass. A synthesized beat— dance house music. A slower sound— something from a memory. The music from two doors down, filtering through the walls, the hallways, the apartment that sat between them. The sound that always always came whenever she'd been home, heartbeat and sounds of life mingling into the beat and the music.

It sounds so far away.

A new scent attacks his nostrils. Jasmine, roses, carnations— flowers mixed with apple and wood. One of her favorite candle scents— one of the many that he rescued from her apartment when he helped her move. Storm Watch, the scent had been called.

A tiny flicker of light appears in the corner. A table is there, with a candle. The candle. It casts shadows around the room, until a hand touches his wrist. "Fuck, Gabriel— Thought you were tougher than this," the voice says, not shaky or desperate— far more determined than the younger sister. The light illuminates part of her, casts others in shadow. She's not wearing a stitch. The chinese dragon coiled around her right breast almost seems to be moving, the scales flexing, whiskers twitching, almost as if it's breathing.

He slumps back against the table as this incarnation of Gillian makes her presence known, head thunking gently against cold wet metal, knowing an unwilling surge of relief, and then wariness. It'd be too easy for this to be a trap. He takes a shaky inhale. "I used to be," Sylar says, voice heavy. "He's winning. I'm sorry." His gaze catches the candlelight, then back to where, from the twin bright points of her eyes, down what of her face he can see, the slope of her neck and shoulder, down down her marked body. The sudden thrash of frustration against his bindings is almost comical, last a few seconds before relaxing again with a breathless laugh. You have to laugh. "He knew what he was doing."

Could be a trap, easily enough. Even as her thrashes, Gillian's fingers play along the binds of his wrist, touching the cracks that have formed. Not enough to break through on his own. Fingertips move, sliding up his arm, until she pushes the sleeve of his shirt up enough to run fingertips over the tattoo that got scarred into his own skin. If anything is physical proof of the connection between then, it's that. He even got it under the influence of this manifestation. "You're just a man."

Fingers play over flesh, the chinese dragon continues to breathe. A hint of smoke pushes out his nostrils. "Especially now. Powerless. Forced into the depths. You could be lost here forever— just a man."

Her hand touches the table beneath him, pushing herself up, until she's sitting on it with a knee positioned between his legs, and the other hanging on the edge of the table. Her arms move to rest on his chest, pinning him down in a new way. Maybe she is a trap. Maybe she's part of the restraint…

At least until she speaks, leaning in close until her words whisper breath against his formerly dried lips, "Do you know what he is when you take everything away, Gabriel?"

If Kazimir learned a new trick— learned the value of honey over vinegar— than this is an insidious one indeed. It's one he could give into, get lost in forever. Sylar's hands curl into fists, the leather creaks again as he pulls at his captured wrists, the one freed leg lying slack on the table as this manifestation lithely moves onto the table, above him.

At her question breathed into him, Sylar's mouth parts a fraction, for a moment torn between seeking a kiss, the honey of kindness and human contact, and responding to her. Finally, his wavery words are breathed out in turn. "Nothing," he whispers, almost serenely, defined eyebrows lifting a little as he makes this realisation the split moment before he says it. "He's nothing. I think he died a long time ago. But how do you kill something that's already dead?"

The restraints make their audible protest again as Sylar attempts to reach for her, torso rising an inch off the table and pulling taut the strap that goes across it, muscles in his arms straining, making the tattoo imprinted there shift.

The answer he gives makes the young woman smile. Gillian continues to press warmths against him, drying the damp clothes he wears. The clock on her upper arm does something it could never do any other place. Much like the chinese dragon breathes, it ticks, the hands moving. It'd been five minutes to midnight for eternity, but now it's just at three thirty-two, a second hand moving one peg at a time, ticking toward three thirty-three, the time on her broken watch. The one he took with him. For his own reasons. The one she broke when she realized she loved him.

The kiss he's tempted to steal, the honey to go with all the pain, it comes. Hair spilling around them, one moment black, the next brown, then highlighted with red— the natural chestnut settles in finally, but the hair acts almost as a veil when her lips play against his, much as they had many times before.

It doesn't last long. There's a question to answer.

"You live," she says, eyes still closed, not even pulling her mouth away, whispered against his lips. "You survive. You wait for the chance to tell him to fuck off… and you do it. You're a man. He's nothing."

His eyes fall shut in peace as Gillian's mouth finds his, the kiss lingering, sweet and incredibly warm. Sylar's eyes stay closed as she whispers that affirmation, and gently, he brings his hands up. The restraints fall away as if they were loose all along, and his fingers twine through her hair of shifting colours and tones, pushing it back from her face, cradling her head as he opens his eyes to briefly study hers. Fingertips dance across her cheekbone, down her face, throat, further down to touch over the shifting dragon tattoo. He remembers - as vividly as he remembers Gillian, her sister, Eileen - a man's capacity to love, even when he's empty in every other respect.

Perhaps Kazimir is right. Perhaps Sylar is an animal. Perhaps Eileen's right too. Perhaps people like they aren't able to show love and kindness and security after all they've been through. The broken people, damaged goods. But one thing he doesn't have is the hunger that had always blotted out the stars. That's Kazimir's burden to reckon with. Down here…

He's just a man.

"I will," he promises the this figment of imagination and memory. "There are things I forgot to tell you. The real you." He lifts his head to kiss her again, hand cradling the back of her head.


The hand settles into place. 3:33.

The candle flickers, almost going out, and Gillian's eyes stay closed and she leans in closer, pressing her mouth against his. Almost demanding, stalling. As his hand travelled, so does hers, moving around him, pressing herself closer against him. Stronger. Free. "You won't forget, when the time comes. Can't." Maybe right now it's all hazy, half drugged, and things just don't work the same. The candle continues to flicker, as if a draft suddenly broke into the room. Shadows play along the wall, along their skin, the dark tattoos shift and bleed along her skin, almost as if they possess a mind or spirit of their own. "Not alone, Gabriel. Never alone," she says, still kissing him, shifting so that they're enwtined even more than before. The way she says it sounds like it could be bitter sweet. At this point, definitely leaning toward sweet.

The candle flickers out, plunging them into darkness. Darkness that might be trying to protect them, for a time. Because all other traces vividly linger. Breath, touch, warmth.

He's a man, and this part of him doesn't seem inclined to let him forget it.


- Art by Teo.

January 18th: Patience
January 19th: Your Invitation
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