Gabriel adjusted the light for the umpteenth time. There was a screw that needed tightening on the bracket that held the light. Although knowledge of which one and how tight had sprung unbidden into his head about an hour ago, he hadn't been moved yet to do anything about it. He bent back to his work. Maybe he'd fiddle with the light after he finished with this watch. In the course of removing the crystal, debris had fallen into the mechanism - sloppy, shoddy work - not his, of course. Another chronograph repairman had committed this crime of laziness and Gabriel was gaining another customer by being given the opportunity to fix the problem. After using canned air, the only thing for it was disassembly, removal of clingy foreign particles under magnification with a fine tip set of tweezers, and then reassembly. And a LOT of concentration.
He was not concentrating so much that he wouldn't have heard the jingle of the bells over the door had someone entered. He was certain of that, and yet despite it, there was a man in the middle of his shop anyway - an Asian man, probably Japanese if he were to judge from facial structure, but dressed in American clothes and carrying a messenger bag. After looking around the shop with eyes wide and a childish expression of amazement that pleasantly pumped Gabriel's ego, the man's gaze settled on him. The small smile left his face, replaced with great seriousness.
"Sylar," the Asian man said with a respectful bow of his head.
Gabriel blinked at him. He had a Sylar. It was incomplete. The final part should be arriving within a few days, custom fabricated to his specifications. But he had neither told many people about it nor listed it for sale. Why would someone show up unexpectedly, having somehow bypassed the bells over the door, to address him with the brand name of a broken watch?
There were a lot of ways he could answer this short, possibly-foreign person's greeting and many questions that sprang to his mind. But despite his innocence, Gabriel was also inherently cautious. He rose to his feet, stepping away from his worktable and moving to the counter. "Yes?" was all he said, tilting his head to the side slightly and raising his brows to exaggerate the questioning tone. 'Do go on', his expression was saying.
"Tomorrow, a man will come to this shop to tell you that you are special. He will want to test you. He will do so and then tell you that you are worthless. You will become angry and begin a quest to prove him wrong that will end with his death and that of many others, as well as the loss of your soul."
Gabriel blinked twice, his entire attention captured. When the Asian man paused and seemed disinclined to continue immediately, he prompted, "How do you know this?"
"I am Hiro Nakamura, and I am from the future. I have come here to save you, so you can save the world."
An hour later …
Gabriel set aside Hiro's small and surprisingly sophisticated laptop, balancing it carefully on the end table next to him. The protective plastic cover of the overstuffed chair crinkled with his motion. He paid it no mind, attention absorbed next by the soft-cover notebook Hiro had provided him. He flipped through the pages. There was more here than he could take in immediately, but it was enough to lend veracity to Hiro's extraordinary claims. Seeing a future version of himself on Hiro's computer screen explaining the path his life might take had been enough. The other messages, intended for other people, he'd watched anyway. Both this future 'Sylar' and Hiro seemed to expect it. Parts of the notebook were devoted to them as well - messages and warnings from their future selves to their present, ignorant identities.
He paused on a page titled 'The Company' with a peculiar symbol drawn beneath it. He wanted to spend the hours that it would take to properly drink in all of this information, but even though he shared his living room with a time traveler, the clock was already ticking. He turned to his quiet, reserved companion and said, "So now we go find this Peter Petrelli guy, and then you'll take us both to Odessa where we'll meet his niece?"
Hiro nodded, his oddly respectful manner making Gabriel feel important and confident in a way that he'd never felt before. Special. He had been approached first. He was allowed to see everything, including the opportunity to remove the information about himself from that provided to the others. Given what he'd learned, he fully intended to exercise the option. That he was being given the option at all was astounding.
Hiro's lips curled in the smallest of smiles as he said, "Then you make your own future."
Peter had been reduced to reading the directions of the paper lantern lights he intended to festoon his apartment with for mood lighting. The other decorations for his graduation party were stacked on his table, still in bags. He couldn't wait for everyone to show up. Recently he'd been feeling so out of sorts when he wasn't near people and the weird dreams that had been disrupting his sleep lately hadn't been helping anything. He knew the speech about college ending and it being a time of great stress. It didn't help that his family was imploding and he'd been dumped two days before finals.
He was trying to work out what plugged into what when two men popped into existence right in front of him. He jumped back, flinging the cords and tiny lampshades to the side as he jumped the other way. "Whoa!" Hands up defensively, he looked at the pair, who weren't doing anything threatening.
The taller of the two waited until Peter stopped moving before breaking into an ear-to-ear grin. "That is incredible!" he said, glancing around the place in awe at their translocation.
The shorter, Asian, did not allow his focus to stray from Peter. "Peter Petrelli-" he began before Peter cut him off.
"Whoa, you know my name? What are you doing in my apartment? How did you get here?"
The taller man murmured, "He's a little more excitable than the one in the future." Then he gave Peter a look up and down that was definitely highly appreciative - almost predatory, in fact.
Peter straightened at that look, all defensiveness gone in an instant as his expression hardened and he took on a challenging posture.
"No!" Hiro said firmly and both men looked at him. "You will not fight!" He looked sternly between the two of them, and although neither made the smallest gesture of agreement, Hiro nodded as if they had. He turned to Peter and walked towards him slowly, extending his hand in a gesture that looked unfamiliar for him. "Peter Petrelli, I come to you as a friend. My name is Hiro Nakamura. My hand is the hand of destiny. Take it, and together we will change the world."
Peter exhaled slowly, calming down from the rapid ramp-up he'd felt when the other guy had checked him out. He swallowed and looked over Hiro's offered hand. He glanced between the two again, still not sure what was going on, but the guy was offering friendship. It was a start. Peter reached out to shake his hand. When they touched, it was like the whole world stood still. Time itself seemed to stop. A moment later, Peter realized that wasn't just a feeling.
Hiro released his hand and time resumed. Peter's eyes darted around, focusing on the stutter-stop of motion the taller man had made as he moved closer to Peter's couch, looking at the jumble of cords and lights. Hiro said, "We have a message for you, from your future self."
An hour later …
Peter thumbed through the notebook while Hiro replaced his laptop in his bag. "Who are all these people?" Peter asked, pausing on a list of names, with locations and an incomprehensible word or two next to them. The words were legible; he just didn't know what 'seismic manip' meant. 'Sylar' as he'd introduced himself, had listened quietly, letting the time traveler handle the explanation.
Hiro answered, "It is a list of people with abilities."
"So these are the people I have to stay away from."
His erstwhile mentor said, "In every hero's journey, there comes a time when he must embrace the source of his power so that he can use it for good. You have your ability now, but before you can be a hero, you must learn to control it. And to do that safely, we need Claire."
Sylar spoke up, "And after that, you and I will do it."
Peter eyed him, lifting a dubious brow at how intentionally open to interpretation that was. Sure, it was the plan that he and Sylar would train one another on control, but the word choice demanded response. "You seem awfully confident of that."
Sylar shrugged one shoulder. "I think of it as acknowledging the inevitability of our fate."
Peter snorted. "I think I'll put my faith in what's already happened. The future isn't immutable, or else none of this would be happening."
"Point." It didn't stop Sylar from eying him hungrily.
Hiro stood, adjusting his bag and interrupting the obsession was starting to form behind Sylar's eyes. "We must go quickly. Your brother does not have much time."
"What? What about my brother?" Peter said, rising as well.
Hiro gave a resolute sigh. "There was too much to put in a few pages or a short film. Your brother is in danger tonight. But first - Claire."
Claire lay on her bed, flipping idly through her biology textbook, trying to summon the motivation to study. She was doing well in class, so there didn't seem to be a need. On the other hand, her innate sense of responsibility told her she should study, because that was what was expected of her. She frowned sourly at the book, thoroughly bored by the idea. Then, between one blink and the next, her book was replaced by a fancy laptop, open, with a video queued up.
She jumped back. "What?" Her hair whipped as head turned to look all around the room, but no one was there. After a moment, she leaned back down, looking at the screen curiously. The name of the video was simply Claire Bennet. Frowning for a totally different reason now, she picked it up and leaned back against the pillows. Biting her lower lip nervously because she knew she ought to tell her mother, or see if Lyle was pranking her, she couldn't resist hitting Play.
An hour later …
She walked towards the library, alone and uneasy as she carried the laptop. Her mind was still busy with everything she'd seen in the video. The clincher had been Jackie's arrival just after it ended, offering her a position on the cheerleading squad just as predicted. According to her future self, she was meant for so much more. Claire hadn't quite turned Jackie down, but she was pretty sure her friend was going to dangle the opportunity in front of Kristy Chan. The importance of that was fading into the background as she began to realize the larger role she was destined to fill.
Three men were waiting for her in the little park next to the library. A smile quirked her lips as she looked over them. These were to be her real friends, a team that would change, and save, the world, if only she could hold them together to do it. "So, tell me about this operation I'm supposed to be in charge of."