The mid day sun beamed down brightly on the rented tan Prius as it pulled into it's destination. The passenger stepped out and stretched, even though the drive wasn't all that long, he'd been on a plane recently and the stiffness hadn't completely gone away yet.
The passenger was a tall man with pale skin and jet black hair. He went by many names; Gabriel Gray: the good son, Sylar: the murderer, but right now he was going by Zane Taylor. He'd taken the moniker of a dead man to gain his companion's trust. His companion being a geneticist named Mohinder Suresh.
The ruse had worked well for him so far, and he planned to keep it that way. As long as the scientist was kept in the dark, he would be led one after the other to more unsuspecting victims. A win / win.
Mohinder stepped out of the driver's door and shielded his eyes as he exited the rental car. The East Coast had been experiencing a lot of rain and clouds recently and he didn't seem used to the hot California sun just yet, despite his skin tone which showed his Indian heritage. "This is the place."
"Mohinder, there were names a lot closer than this on the list. Why are we here?" Sylar scowled up at the building they were parked in front of; the Santa Barbara Police station in Santa Barbara, California. It wasn't the most inconspicuous place for him to be and didn't know if his picture and "most wanted" profile had gotten this far west yet.
Luckily, Mohinder remained oblivious to all this as well.
"I told you Zane, Mr. Spencer is a public figure and he might be high on Silar's list. After what happened in Montana, I'm taking no chances." Mohinder didn't see the slight smirk on Sylar's face at the statement. "Besides, if he works with the police and we might be able to consider them credible witnesses wouldn't you say?"
He nodded, feigning agreement. He'd looked over Mohinder's shoulder on the short plane ride and it looked like Shawn helped the police solve a dozen or so murders in the past year, but it still didn't look promising. It was part of the reason he was so annoyed to be taken so far away, with little chance of obtaining another useful power. "Didn't your father mark him as a fraud anyway?"
"My father marked him as a maybe I think. He fits the formula, and is claiming to be psychic. I'd say there is a good chance he has a genuine ability." The excitement on Mohinder's face wasn't hidden. He was willing to do almost anything to legitimize his father's work, and Sylar knew this was a good way to do it.
"Alright." Sylar shrugged, "I hope we can get all this done before our flight leaves. We only have a few hours." They'd unfortunately decided to take the early afternoon flight rather than the red eye, so it left them with little time to find Shawn Spencer. He looked at his watch with his namesake Sylar on the face, just for show. If he played his cards right, Mohinder would they should split up, leaving him to hunt his prey alone.
Just how he liked it.
Mohinder contemplated for a moment before his features turned resolute and he headed towards the stairs. "We at least have to talk to the officers he works with before we go searching the town. They might know where he is and I want to be able interview the officers too. I need some hard evidence, and this is like a gold mine."
His inner monster was unhappy at the delay, but Sylar put his best face forward and smiled, "Good idea. Let's go."
Inside the station, the lunch rush was just winding down, and a crew of officers and detectives were slowly and reluctantly making their way to the bullpen and their desks to finish out the afternoon. Head Detective Carlton Lassiter was not one of them. He was still stuck at his desk, doing paperwork that his partner, Junior Detective Juliet O'Hara, should be doing. She was still on her week leave after the axe murder case, and wouldn't be back for at least a couple more days.
To her credit, she insisted she was fine. However, Interim Chief Vick insisted that after a minor psychotic break, and almost being hacked into small pieces by a maniac, she deserved some time off. So, his partner relented.
Carlton sighed, putting down the last bit of his paperwork and rubbed the back of his neck wearily. Without Juliet it had been a long week, but things inside the station were finally starting to quiet down.
"I'm having a vision!"
Well... it was almost quiet. Carlton groaned at the after lunch ritual of psychic readings by their resident 'Head Pain in the Ass' Shawn Spencer.
"I'm sensing that you−" Shawn pointed to one of the bald cops in the bullpen, "−have been recently looking into hair transplants."
"Yeah! I have!" The officer said excitedly.
"Oh c'mon..." Carlton grumbled through gritted teeth. Half the station knew that fact but everyone looked at Shawn like he was the second coming for throwing out that useless bit of information.
Shawn's face got serious, "I'm sensing that might not be the way to go right now with a baby on the way."
Now that one got some gasps, and Carlton finally looked over at the shocked expressions of the other officers.
The officer spoke quietly. "I haven't told anyone about that. She's due next month."
"Trust me. Your wife loves your look, and you can spend the money on more important things. Like that cradle she's been looking at?" Shawn smiled and patted the officer on the back. "Okay! Show's over for today!" Groans and boos floated up from the crowd, and the group slowly dissipated.
Carlton had no idea how Shawn did half the things he did, but it was not psychic abilities, that he was sure of. Now that the production was done though, he knew he only had seconds before the psychic hunted him down to beg for cases. If he wanted to get a lunch in, he'd have to go now because the last person he wanted to spend the afternoon talking with was−
Looking up, Carlton saw a pair of men. The one who'd spoken was Indian man with a British accent, the other was a tall, dark haired man who seemed awfully familiar.
"Is that Shawn Spencer? The psychic?" The man asked again, pointing at Shawn, who was already heading their way.
"Did I hear my name?" Shawn came up and put his arm around Carlton's shoulder.
Smacking it none too gently so he'd remove the offending appendage, he spun around accusingly, "Spencer, this isn't your office. If I catch you bringing your clients here without just cause one more time−"
"Actually, we're here to see you about Mr. Spencer." The Indian man stepped forward. "My name is Dr. Mohinder Suresh." He indicated the other man.
"Uh, Zane. Zane Taylor. Pleasure to meet you officer." He gave a small, almost shy wave.
This Zane person seemed respectful enough, and Carlton tried to shake the eerie feeling he got from him. "You want to talk to me about him?" He asked incredulously.
Mohinder explained, "I'm a geneticist and I've come to talk to you about his ability. I actually wasn't expecting to find Mr. Spencer here himself. I don't know if I'm quite prepared yet−" He trailed off and started searching his pockets for something.
Surprisingly, Shawn wasn't basking in the lime light of some scientist coming to see him. To Carlton, he almost seemed, dare he say, nervous. "Yeah, uh. I'm not quite prepared either. I have some places to be so, do you mind of we hook up later? Lots of psychic stuff to take care of right now." Shawn started backing up towards the exit.
"Wait, I know you're feeling overwhelmed but I can help."
The scientist tried to reassure him, but Shawn seemed to be having none of it. "Yeah, like I said... stuff to do. I'll catch you later Lassie."
"Spencer what−?" Carlton started but the psychic was already out the door and gone. "Weird." He turned back to the pair.
Mohinder looked taken aback and genuinely concerned at Shawn's actions. "Do you have a number we can contact him at? I didn't mean to upset him. I've found some people with abilities can be sensitive about them."
"If he has business, he'll probably be at his poor excuse for an office. It's right on the pier at Stern's Warf, you can't miss it." Carlton then remembered something. "Why did you need to talk to me about Spencer anyway? I'm prohibited from sharing information about the cases he's worked on." Maybe that will get them off my case.
"No, I just need some ideas about his abilities. What he can do, how he can use them." Mohinder must have seen he was losing him so he added. "We'll discuss it over lunch. My treat?"
At that his stomach growled and Carlton was sold. "Fine, but don't expect much."
His companion Zane stepped up. "Mohinder, our flight leaves in a couple hours. I'll see what I can do. It won't be more than an hour or so okay?"
Mohinder seemed to reluctantly agree. "If you can convince him to talk to me, that would be great. I'll meet up with you after."
"Alright." He turned to Carlton. "Nice meeting you detective." Zane reached out his hand to shake his own.
A chill went up Carlton's spine at the contact. Without saying anything, he shook the man's hand and followed the scientist to the door. The detective still couldn't pinpoint it, but his instincts were saying that he knew this guy from somewhere...
Shawn ran down the steps as fast as he could out to his bike. He'd expected some publicity from his year of psychic crime fighting, but a scientist looking to study him? It meant bad news if the man found out he was a fraud. It was one thing to spout 'psychic' information after talking to a cop's wife who came to see him on his lunch break, but it was another to have to have someone who knew what they were doing judging his every move.
Man! I can't believe Gus was right. His dad was also right, but he wasn't ready to admit that yet, even to himself. He whipped out his cell phone and called Gus. He had to lay low just until they left, and he needed Gus to cover for him.
It rung two times before Gus answered with his 'annoyed at Shawn voice.' "Shawn, I am in the middle of a presentation right now. Our company president Haversham is giving us a rundown of next year's product−"
"Gus, I don't care." Shawn interrupted rolling his eyes at his friend's lame side job. "I'm in a crisis situation right now. A genetic dude showed up at the station wanting to study me. They want to know how I got my psychic abilities and stuff."
"I knew it! I KNEW it!" Gus' panic stricken breaths came through he line loud and clear. "I don't want to go to jail Shawn... This is all your fault!"
"Would you relax! I just need to lay low for a day or two until they leave. No biggie." Shawn tried to play it off, despite his own worry. "I'll just hang out at Psych."
"Oh really? Why would people looking for you ever go to your place of business. That would just be crazy."
Shawn sighed at the heavy sarcasm. "Alright point taken. I'll have to go deep underground."
"You don't mean..."
Nodding, despite being on the phone, he confirmed, "My dad's." It wouldn't be so bad, until Henry wheedled the reason he wanted to stay over out of him. Gus knew the lecture he'd be getting over this, even if it wasn't his fault they were here.
"I'll meet you there later. Make sure he has food."
Shawn opened his mouth to reply, but he noticed one of the men had come out of the station and was heading towards him. "I gotta go." He quickly shoved the phone in his pocket, started his bike, and slammed his helmet on his head. Then he squealed his tires and took off out of the parking lot.
He figured he was home free once he started to turn the corner onto the street, but there must have been a slippery spot because his back tire seemed to slide out from under him and it toppled both him and the bike into the pavement. Worse yet, the car he'd been trying to beat on the road was barreling down on him at forty-five miles per hour and was going to hit him for sure. Shawn covered his head and braced for impact... but with a screech of tires the car stopped two inches before hitting him.
He didn't want to open his eyes at first. There was absolutely no way that car could have stopped on it's own. Oh my God, what stopped it? Slowly, he opened one eye, then the other and saw Zane, the man with the scientist, standing in front of him.
"Hey, are you okay?"
The driver of the car jumped out quickly, probably expecting to see a corpse rather than just a scraped up biker. He ran up to him with a relieved look. "Oh my God! I thought I hit you! There was no way I could stop and the car just−"
"Yeah, I'm fine." Shawn looked around; people were starting to stare, and the last thing he needed was to make a scene right outside the SBPD, so he quickly got up, brushed himself off, and moved his bike out of the road.
The driver got back into his car but Zane followed him. "Sorry about back at the station there. Mohinder isn't the best at subtlety."
"I gathered." Shawn deadpanned, and winced slightly when he went to take a step. His knee would be acting up again for a while. Great. "Anyway, thanks for the help but I have somewhere to be so−"
"Listen, uh... Shawn. I know what you're going through, and I'd like to talk to you." Shawn narrowed his eyes, trying to find out what this man's game was. "I'll buy you lunch. Please."
Everyone who knew him knew the way to his heart was through his stomach. He could hardly pass up a free meal, and the guy didn't seem so bad. He doesn't look like a scientist, what harm could it do? "Sure. I'll bite."
"Great! I'm new around here so any place you want."
Shawn put a finger to his lips in contemplation. "Hmmm..."
Sylar was skeptical when Shawn picked a chain restaurant like Red Robin, but once he tried their shakes, he was sold. At least the psychic had good taste. He'd figured if Mohinder's trick worked on the detective, it might make him seem more personable if he asked Shawn too. All he needed to do now was get him in a quiet place, away from people.
He smiled politely as Shawn babbled on about something or other, glad his 'heroics' were well received. Sylar almost wasn't sure he'd be able to stop the car in time, after almost ripping the bike out from underneath the psychic, but with a little more effort than usual he did it. His power was growing, but he still needed more.
The conversation Shawn had on the phone with his friend had him puzzled though. With his new hearing ability he'd overheard what could have been an admission of fraud, or fear of being locked up for an ability. He wasn't sure what it was yet, but he'd soon get to the bottom of it. Shawn was still eyeing him warily though, and Sylar knew he'd have to put his best face forward if he was going to nab this one.
"How long have you had your powers?" Sylar hadn't meant to blurt it out like that, but he was getting impatient. He didn't usually have to wine and dine his victims, but this one seemed different.
Shawn shrugged. "I was born with it. I've had visions since I was a kid. The spirits speak to me."
"Okay." Sylar was trying to stay calm, sociable, and above all: ignoring the urge to take this guy's skull right here, right now. Even with his new special ability, he couldn't hear any falter in the psychic's heart, or breathing. "So it's just spirits then that tell you the future?" He wasn't so sure if he'd be interested in a power that gave him hallucinations.
"Not always. Sometimes I see things, or hear things that are going on in the present. I feel things about people too. You for example." Sylar stopped chewing his food and stared, waiting for the psychic to out him as a monster. "I can see that you have mommy and daddy issues from a mile away."
Internally breathing a sigh of relief, he chuckled. "Don't we all have some kind of issue with our parents?"
"I can't argue with that." Shawn smirked back. "So, how is it a guy like you ended up traveling around with a genealogist?"
"You mean geneticist?" Sylar helped out.
"I've heard it both ways."
"Well..." Sylar took a big bite of his burger, "he's trying find people with abilities and help them. He found me using a formula his father made. It can tell from our blood if we have a specific gene."
Shawn smirked, almost skeptically. "Okay, so what can you do?"
"I can melt things."
"Riiiight." Shawn rolled his eyes.
Taking the skepticism as a challenge, Sylar started to reach for the salt shaker, but the waitress had come with their check and he decided against making a scene. "Can I get you boys anything else?" He noticed that she winked at Shawn, and set two pieces of paper down on the table. One had a phone number on it and she pushed it closer to him.
Shawn looked at the number and smiled, but left it where it was. "No thanks Jean. I think I'm good. How about you Zane?"
"I'm okay. The shakes were delicious by the way." He handed her a twenty he'd found in Zane's wallet. For a struggling musician, the man had a nice wad of cash.
"Alright. Thank you guys." She eyed Shawn again. "See you later."
As soon as the waitress was gone, Sylar's curiosity got the best of him and he had to ask, "Does that happen to you often?" He tapped the number, still on the table.
Shawn gave a nonchalant shrug, "More often than not and less often than I want." He gave a sly smile and stood up, stretching. "Well, thanks for the meal Zane. Don't forget to tip your waitress, because she's going to be paying for the movie tonight."
"Wait!" Sylar had to think fast. "Um, you said you had an office didn't you?" He'd remembered the detective saying something about it. That would be the perfect place for him to see just what made the man tick.
"Did I?" Shawn asked puzzled.
"Yeah. I'm kind of shy about my power too. I'd like somewhere private to show you. It's really cool, I'm sure you'll get a kick out of it." His smile was genuine, there was nothing more than he wanted than to show Shawn his power.
Shawn's shoulders slumped in defeat and Sylar's inner murderer grinned. "Alright fine. Just don't invite your friend along. I don't think he'll have much of a sense of humor left after he's done talking to Lassiter."
"Oh, I wouldn't dream of it Shawn... Just us." The curiosity was almost killing him, ironically enough, but he only had to catch a cab and meet Shawn at his office. It shouldn't take long, and he and Mohinder would be on the plane out of here before anyone was the wiser.
As they were leaving, Shawn was still looking at him, and talking and didn't notice that he'd almost run into a petite blond haired woman. "Oh, sorry I... Shawn?"
"Jules! How are you doing?"
Sylar's eyes narrowed. He saw a spark there, something he hadn't seen between Shawn and the waitress and suddenly knew it would be a lot harder and a lot longer before he'd have Shawn to himself. Looking at his clock he saw he had an hour left before he had to meet with Mohinder.
This guy is really starting to become a problem.