Sylar's true motivations start coming to light.Rating:
R, to be safe. Warnings:
Kink is sensory deprivationNotes:
~4500 words. This chapter has no sex (I know, gasp!) and a lot of dialogue. It feels a little exposition-y to me but Sylar monologues far too much in canon not to include at least one in this piece.</b>.
* * *
The memories from this morning were already fading, becoming things that had happened to someone else or a story she'd been told one time instead of the horrifying, agonizing torture that he'd inflicted on her but his bedroom games were still fresh as he locked the steel shackles so tightly she couldn't rotate her wrists in them. As she stared up at him the new 'rules' he decided to impose on her repeated in her mind. In one deft blow Sylar had taken away walking, using furniture, or making eye contact, three things that made her human and gave her a place in the world of people. Claire wouldn't be surprised to find him calling her 'pet' next and putting a collar on her.
Worse than that had been the way he'd been turned on by her fighting; he'd got off on her hate. It took away her last way to resist and she hated him even more for that. And then, then her stupid traitor body had wanted to come anyway and he wouldn't let her.
She still thrummed with arousal as he closed her thighs, re-secured the chain, and stretched out on her side. Like the other time he put a pillow under her hips and she wasn't stupid, she knew why, but she knew it'd be pointless to try and find that slack. He'd caught her and he'd trapped her and now she'd have to find her moment and take it perfectly. Until then she needed to rest and convince him she'd been broken. With the way the fear bit into her and she couldn't even think of trying to resist his rules that part shouldn't be so hard, though she wished it would be.
“Babydoll, are you still awake?”
Could she sleep? “Yeah.” Her lips twitched but she added 'Master' before he could get mad. “Do you need something?”
He didn't exactly answer her question. “You're beautiful.”
If she'd thought it'd be safe she would have sighed. “Yeah, lots of guys think I'm hot.” And dumb. And helpless.
“I don't mean your physique, though you are attractive.” Who the hell used words like 'physique' anymore? “Looks are an illusion. This, this is real. I prefer you how you are now because I know I did this to you and I know it's how you really feel about me.”
Claire knew she didn't look her best right now, not even close. Streaked with blood and other fluids, aching, desperate, and vaguely nauseous, she probably looked about the same. And it suddenly seemed hilariously funny that maybe Sylar had some touch with reality after all, if he knew that. “Oh.”
“I'm trying something else. Relax as much as you can,” he ordered and it made her tense, of course, expecting the pain. His fingertips gripped her temples on either side of her head and he closed his eyes for a long minute before a rush of information came at her.
Sign language. He'd given her knowledge of American Sign Language. Why?
“What'd you do to --”
His hand came up and suddenly her voice rasped and cut off entirely. She couldn't make a sound. Slowly she realized she couldn't hear a sound, not even the sound of breathing or chains clinking against each other, and she glanced up at him before remembering the 'rule.' Shit. He'd given her knowledge of signing and then he'd fucking made her deaf. 'Did it work? Can you sign?'
The words shook through her head and she almost jerked her head up instinctively.
Stopping herself at the last second, she waited for the chains to slacken and tried signing, “Why did you make me go deaf?” but because of the weird way the language worked, like nothing she'd ever seen before, the real translation would have been 'why' 'go' 'deaf' 'me' and an eyebrow raise for a question. Her eyes raised enough to risk watching his hands.
“I want to see what sensory deprivation does to you. It's an experiment.” Without looking at his face she couldn't tell shit about his tone anymore and it bugged her. Calm? Angry? Pleased? “Good girl.” Pleased then.
She took a deep breath and laid back on the bed, trying to enjoy the fluffy blanketing he preferred and how, for the second, he kept his hands to himself. Everything inside of her ached; she didn't know how else to describe the strange hollowness she'd started to feel. It'd eaten out the inside of her and now he poured in new thoughts, ones that went down like poison, so she tried to ignore him.
It didn't work for very long. When he wanted her attention he tapped the side of her face roughly and she opened her eyes, training them on his hands. As she'd laid there her mind had drifted into a haze, a floating that made it hard to focus and reminded her of the one time she'd tried pot with Jackie before her ability kicked in fully.
She watched his hands, her vision tunneling so that they were the only things that seemed real to her, and he spoke. Gracefully. As predatory and alive as his voice sounded when he talked his hands moved in the same way and reminded her of all the ways he could touch her and bring her pleasure. Or, she shuddered, pain. “You've done very well today. I've decided that deserves a reward.” Her eyes went wide at the announcement but he kept talking. “To make it more interesting I'll assign a reward to each hand. You'll pick which hand, right or left, and then you'll get the reward. That way you can choose it yourself.”
Wasn't exactly choosing it herself if she didn't know what the rewards were or where they were, was it, but she kept that thought to herself. Maybe he'd reward her with a break. “Left,” she signed quickly.
Please let it be a break.
Sylar had discovered that he loved watching the cautious hope fill her face when he offered her something she wanted, like a visit to her mother, relief from pain, or time to rest. Not to crush it – well, not only to crush it – but because he could fulfill it. She could rest her hopes in him and he could, if he chose, come through. If he were that sort of man, he'd say it made him feel warm and fuzzy inside. Mostly, it made him feel possessive and predatory. Oh well.
He kept his word, assigning actual rewards and not changing them based on what hand she picked, but the helplessness message had been reinforced. Her 'choice' hadn't been a choice and the twitch of her mouth said she knew that.
Cupping her cheek, he bent forward and kissed her softly on the mouth before he released all except the metal cuffs themselves from her wrists and ankles with a flick of his fingers. She gasped at the sudden freedom and he pushed himself off of her, standing. “Come with me.” Would she remember the rule? Would she follow it? He found this uncertainty exciting, thriving in the fun of figuring out a new puzzle. He thought she would, for now.
Claire straightened and shifted over to the edge of the mattress, glancing down at the floor. For the barest second she stood and then she crouched down and slid into a kneel with the grace of a long-term athlete. He reached over and stroked her hair at the good behavior, telling her 'good girl' even though she couldn't hear it. Her enforced deafness had been a stroke of genius; it would increase sensation while cutting off her avenue to speak with other people, forcing her to go through him as a translator. In a very literal way he had become her whole world.
Which was why he had to tread carefully now.
As he started his slow walk towards the master bathroom, a monstrous room that contained a claw-foot tub, a separate shower, and a double sink among other things, he thought about his next plan. The roughness and blood had been to put her off-center and make her more malleable to his mind. Now he'd be gentle, confusing her and putting her on edge. In some ways he preferred the gentle.
After all, if he'd wanted a simpering slave girl who followed orders blindly and without hesitation he wouldn't have started with Claire Bennet. No, he wanted her to listen to him, he wanted to be able to trust her, but he still wanted her to be her. He couldn't break her completely.
When they reached the bathroom he nudged the double doors open with his palm and stepped in, watching her expression twist up in a hiss as her knees hit the cool and unyielding tile. He kicked the doors shut behind him, smiling to himself, and put the stopper in the tub to hold water before he started to fill it. Then he started to sign. “We're going to take a bath while I pamper you,” he told her, sitting down on the closed toilet and smiling down at her head, “with salts and a massage afterward.” It made the perfect reward; on one hand she'd be able to relax but on the other it'd come at the touch of his hands, his fingers stroking her. “Would you like that?”
Claire simply nodded, her eyes returning to the floor.
Oh, well. She'd talk again soon enough. With a little help the tub filled quickly and he picked out a nice pine scent, nothing flowery or sweet, from the selection of bathing salts he'd picked up at the store. That'd been fun. He'd walked into a small shop that sold handmade soaps and bathing products in San Francisco, rubbing the back of his neck and affecting the guise of an embarrassed boyfriend. The soap maker had been charmed by his Southern accent and sweet gesture to his girlfriend. If she'd only knew. Once he poured out a measure of it and swirled the water around he turned to face Claire, who got the message without prompting. She scrambled over the side of the tub and dropped in, splashing a little as he stripped off the remainder of his clothing.
The green-themed bathroom filled with the scent of pine trees as he sunk deep into the water, groaning at the sudden warm, soothing contact. His muscles, though not sore with injury, had been tight for days. Now all that muscle uncoiled and left him boneless, his head rolling back against the edge of the tub until she shifted.
Sylar looked up and gestured 'Come here,' a move she didn't seem to want to make. She came anyway, sliding across the bottom of the tub on her knees and right in between his spread thighs. He turned her easily, putting her back to his front, her smooth muscle pressing into the wet hair of his chest. His erection nestled between the crack of her ass. But his hands interested him the most as his fingers played along the lines of her ribs, the curve of her breasts, and the plane of her stomach.
“Good girl,” he signed and she flicked her head, a strand of blonde hair snapping straight as he leaned against her. The water had already started to pink up, filling with washed off blood, but his eyes were only for her amazing body.
Truthfully he'd been with hot girls before. Even as Gabriel he, thanks to his ability, understood how people ticked and he could assume any role necessary to close the deal – only in his own shop would he be truly himself. It hadn't left him hard up for sex, a fact no one who knew him as Gabriel Gray would believe, and left him open to assume the identity of Sylar. It'd only felt natural. Just as this felt natural, his hands cupping her hips to rest there. Claire would never be the skinniest girl with such defined muscles and clear curves, her compact body built up with strength and killer thighs, but the blonde hair and the golden skin almost had the effect of making her seem thinner to go with people's expectations.
He liked the meat; his tightening his hands on her waist pressed warm flesh against his palm and he shivered a little in anticipation. He only regretted he had to let go to communicate, raising his hands above the water. “I think we should have baths like this every few days.” Both of them had drifted in a relaxed state in the warm, lulling water already. Doing that regularly could only help.
She shivered too for a second as her breathing steadied. The night before he'd watched her sleep exhausted from the overwhelming pleasure he drove into her body, her limbs sprawled out and deep red pussy raw and glistening with fluids, and her expression captivated him. Unable to smile at him during waking hours her lips had the slightest tug up as she slept, somewhere between happy and satisfied. “Yes.” This time he bent forward and kissed her temple, taking in the scent of her hair.
“Do you know why I'm doing this to you?” he asked. Of course she knew some reasons – he'd been nothing but clear at points, so brutally honest she'd flinched back – but that still left room for understanding and he needed her to understand. He needed her to accept her place by his side.
Claire shook her head slowly without an attempt to raise her hands. He'd already told her but she probably thought that was another trick in light of this morning. But this morning made it even more true.
“Would you like to know?” he asked casually and she nodded jerkily. Forcing himself to relax his hands and keep his gestures smooth and simple, he tucked one ankle over her calf and started to explain. “I don't want to be a monster. I thought I had a choice. I thought that if I wanted it badly enough, worked hard enough, I could strip this gnawing need for more out of me and breathe.” His eyes fluttered shut as he remembered the eclipse. “Sometime during the escapades of my very own who's your daddy search, I came to a realization. My biological father is a monster, hiding away in his hole from the world now that he's become weak and infirm, alone and unable to look back on his life and remember anything but the hunger.
“My biological mother was butchered by him, an event he barely remembers and I repressed for many years. Undoubtedly she thought he wouldn't do that to her, that she was special. But something went wrong.” He sucked in a breath, breaking the line of his hands long enough to rub his palm over her collarbone with a sigh. “My adopted father was a watchmaker with not nearly the skill I showed for the craft who bought a child in hopes that it would allow him to escape a wretched marriage with a woman he despised. He expected me to kill him when I found him; I think he knew what I was.
“And my adopted mother, the most important of them all as she was the woman that raised me, couldn't accept reality.” His nose burrowed in the back of her hair, taking in the spicy-tang scent of sweat and blood on her skin. Signing left his mouth free and he used it to taste. “Oh, most mothers think their children good and righteous, at least at first, and, sure, many are flighty. She's always been flighty; it's why she pushed me so hard to be successful. I could better take care of her that way. When I was young she used to be cruel, exacting.” Pictures flashed behind his eyelids, reminding him of home. “I remember days where I'd done something wrong – hadn't cleaned my room to her standards, had told a white lie, hadn't used the proper form of respect with a neighbor – and she made me kneel in the corner for hours, head down, praying. Trying to cleanse my soul.” And this was the most he'd ever told anyone about who Gabriel Gray really had been. No one, not Danko, not Luke, not Chandra Suresh, not even Noah Bennet knew all this about him. Claire had gone still in his arms but he went on. “Sometimes she'd put down grains of rice if it was especially egregious.
“At fifteen I had a growth spurt. I went from 5'1” and the shortest boy in my class to 6'0” during the summer. It'd been years since those punishments. I mean, I'd learned to control my behavior and perform to her standards exactly. I wanted to make her proud. And, honestly, I needed to manage her. She was agoraphobic, she never left the apartment. She collected disability and sometimes sold crafts but I did all the shopping, all the errands. I had to or they wouldn't get done. It made me so angry at her then when she'd go on about how I was squandering my potential, that my grades should be better, that I needed to do more extracurricular activities. Oh, and, of course, get scholarships and an afterschool job so that I could pay for college.” He hissed out a deep breath. “I spoke back to her rudely one day, just a normal day, and she went to slap me but I grabbed her wrist. And then I slapped her.
“I can count on one hand the number of times I've hit her but she doesn't count them at all. The day I killed her she insisted I could never hurt anyone.” A bitter laugh passed over his tongue and, even though she couldn't hear it, Claire stiffened at the story. “I just wanted to stop. I told her I wanted to stop, come home, be a normal watchmaker, and put it all behind me. I thought I was a day off from blowing up Manhattan at the time. And she insisted I had to be special.
“Look how that worked out for her.” He tried to collect his thoughts, remember why he'd started this line of conversation. His throat felt rough, raw, and he knew that it'd only be minutes, if that, before he started to tear. People insisted crying shouldn't happen with boys, let alone men, but somehow he didn't doubt his masculinity because he felt his emotions. “When I realized that I wasn't the villain at Kirby Plaza I felt... relief. Instant, absolute, unquestionable relief. I went there knowing that Peter would lose control of his powers. I thought maybe if I could stop him it would be enough to redeem myself after what I'd done. Two dozen lives were nothing in the wake of .07% of the population.
“Then Nakamura arrived and... he saw me kill my mother, you know. I put his sword to my neck afterward and I screamed at him to do it, but he was a coward. When he arrived again it surprised me enough he was able to run me through. You saw that part. I collapsed and instead of letting me die, just letting it end, the Company took me in. They repaired the injuries and removed my powers.”
Aloud he repeated, “They took my powers.” His voice shook with rage and regret.
“I'd lost my mother, my home, my life to this power and I could still feel it clawing its way out, trying to do something, and starving again.” He bit down on the corner of his lip for a second, ghosting his hand along her shoulder before he went back to signing. “I had to get it back. I got it back, thanks to your blood which Bob Bishop harvested while faking your father's death. Again the Company that should have been trying to eradicate me decided to use me instead. I lashed out at that idea and that was where you came in.” He reached up and stroked her hair.
She'd gone still, so still, in his arms, with her knees pulled up and pressed against her chest and her face almost burrow against their shoulders. But curiosity still burned bright inside of her and she struggled to take in every word unflinchingly. That was his girl.
“Near that time it appears Angela had a vision that the heroes would lose, every last one of them die.” The psychometry she'd gifted him with had backfired when 'Nathan' touched her pillow one day. “Even you. Though maybe you would have recovered eventually. She was left, facing five villains alone, until I came up behind her in support. I stopped them. She decided then to begin the charade of me being Peter's twin brother, the one that she promised to the Company in the same way you'd been sacrificed or Elle had been sacrificed, because she knew I loved my mother.
“She knew my weaknesses pretty well.” The bitch. “I tried to make her proud. Blahblahblah. Hostile partner, untrusting 'brother,' suspicion from every turn, and I would have happily have put up with it if it'd been true. When I realized it wasn't all the things they'd done to me, all the ways they'd kept me alive when I wanted to end the suffering and stop myself, that was what made me a monster. And if I was going to be a monster then, at the very least, I'd be my own.” The tears choked his throat now and he coughed quietly, the rumble catching Claire's attention. She turned, staring at him without comprehension for a long second before she raised her hand and brushed some of the tears away. “Then I found my father and...
“It disgusted me. So, I took the ability to shapeshift so that I could be someone else, start over, not be that monster anymore.” He smiled at her, a wobbling smile. “And I began to lose myself entirely. Danko, who did deep cover work, suggested that I find a touchstone that would always remind me of who I was. The real me. So, I had my mother's personal effects sent over.
“She used to collect snow globes. She had the entire North American continent except for Oregon because every time I traveled to, well, I brought her one back. She loved those things. And just touching them forced me into becoming her. I shifted. It... It wasn't right. It wasn't her; it was how I saw her or how I thought she saw me.” He shook his head. “Danko used a well-kept pocket watch that had belonged to his father as his touchstone, which was why I started with my mother's things. But I realized I was not Gabriel Gray. His life couldn't ground me anymore.
“So I thought. I thought hard about what in this life could ground me. What had been my constant since the first doubts, the first complication of my decided path had occurred. Do you know what it is?”
Claire eased down into the water, facing forward again and raised her hands. “Killing? Getting more powers?”
He laughed and she could feel the vibrations. “No. No, not at all. It was you. Going after you had changed everything. It got the attention of Noah and Peter. It changed the path you were on. It introduced me to the Company. Part of the reason I was drawn to New York, or to stay there when I still thought I'd be the one to destroy it, is that I thought you were there. Then your blood, your miraculous blood restored me. It gave me back the only thing I had. I can never repay you properly for that and though I know you think of this as torture for my own cruel amusement, I'm trying to pay you back. I want you to be stronger.” He kissed the top of her head.
“You were terrified, alone, abandoned by the people who were supposed to love and protect you, just like me. And still you did what five adults with offensive powers were unable to. You almost killed me.” Sylar smiled. “I was so proud of you. When the time came you did what had to be done. And I got to see it again in Primatech. I wanted to show you what you were capable of so that you would stop allowing them to show you what you weren't. You did amazingly. While I had three trained adults, not to mention the three psychotics your father released to lure me in with bait, on the rails, thrashing, you simply... killed me. It needed to be done and you did it.”
In his arms Claire stopped breathing, her warm back pressed flesh against flesh, rubbing along the wiry hairs of his chest as she shivered in the water. Her hands dropped -- refusing to communicate or unable to. As she drew her legs up towards herself it made her small. And with a tiny hitch air flowed in, bringing movement and color back into her rhythms. But, except to lay her cheek against the top of her knee, she worked on seeming invisible. Even her mind, which had exploded in fury at his last words, stilled and left her thoughts a quiet oasis that he couldn't skim.
Lights on; nobody home.
In an attempt to coax her out of her minor rebellion he set his hands on her shoulders and began a slow, through kneading of the tense muscle underneath. Anatomy had, at one point, been a mystery to him. As a gawky youth who stayed too short for too long he'd suffered the taunts of other boys and rejection of girls. By the time he'd caught up the girls knew him as the little brother type and gave him little leeway for advances. He knew better now, his ability combining with his experience to tell him just where to touch, how much pressure to use, when it felt good and when it hurt. He'd started taking on personas to attract people and escape being Gabriel; now he shed all of them to be himself. I am Sylar.
And she, she was his touchstone.
* * *
I want to thank everyone who commented. Some of you I can't respond to 'cause you're anons (which suddenly clarified why this story has few comments *laughs*) but I very much appreciate the feedback and the time you guys took to leave it. Feel free to comment anonymously in the future as well.
And, yeah, this chapter really does have no sex. Read it anyway?