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The Bar At The End Of The Universe

Title: The Bar At The End Of The Universe
Author: jaune_chat
Fandom: Heroes
Characters/Pairings: Charlie, Caitlin
Rating: PG
Wordcount: 1,503
Spoilers: Up through 4x08, “Once Upon A Time In Texas”
Warnings: none
Disclaimer: Heroes belongs to Tim Kring, NBC et al.
A/N: Written for tiptoe39, because she told me to. Apologies to Douglas Adams!
Summary: Charlie’s day has just gotten that much stranger when she meets someone else marooned in time.



Charlie’s head was spinning, and she felt shaky and weak all over. She thought that she’d gotten used to feelings like this back when she’d gotten diagnosed, but this was an entirely new version of that.

“Hang on, just lay there until the spinning stops. You’ll be ok in a few minutes.”

Charlie obediently lay there, listening to the Irish-accented voice’s very reasonable advice. Finally she felt well enough to sit up, and blanched as she looked around. This wasn’t Texas, or Japan, or any place she’d seen or read about. And that was saying a lot.

It wasn’t so strange at first glance, just a bar, a pub with the name “Ricky’s” set up over back wall. But the fact that outside the windows was nothing was what scared Charlie the most. It wasn’t a street or a field or anything. Just nothing. Empty blackness. And somehow Charlie knew that even the strongest light would reveal nothing out there.

The woman next to her was about her age, with green eyes, dark red hair, and a sorrowful air about her. “Ok?”

“I think so,” Charlie said tentatively, trying to ignore the black. “Where’s Hiro?”

“There’s no one else. You showed up alone.”

“No. No, that’s just not possible. Hiro was going to take me Otsu, we were going to-.” Charlie caught herself choking up and fiercely hugged herself hard to keep from crying.

“Where is this place?” Charlie asked, trying to calm down.

“Nowhere. Nowhen,” the woman said, shaking her head. “Do you… know about abilities?”

“Well, yeah! Hiro, my friend, he could travel through time-.”

“Peter could do that too,” she broke in. “Guess it’s not so strange you ended up here. This is what happens when someone makes a mistake with a time-traveler.”

A mistake. Charlie felt her eyes mist with tears. How could Hiro make a mistake with her when they’d been ready to start on something new? The tears spilled over before she could stop them, and Caitlin reached out to hug her close, letting her cry out her shock against a comforting shoulder. Pulling her up as her sobs died down, Caitlin tugged her to the bar… which now looked halfway familiar. The dim, green-walled pub now seemed to have some features Charlie recognized from the diner.

“I didn’t think this was going to happen,” Caitlin said, walking around to push a cup of coffee across the bar. “I get plenty of visitors, but someone that didn’t come here under their own steam…” She trailed off, her voice a question.

“Charlie. My name’s Charlie.”

“Charlie. Glad to meet you. My name’s Caitlin,” Caitlin said, smiling. Charlie didn’t know what to say, she was so wrung out from everything that had happened today.

“How- how long have you been here?” Charlie asked tentatively, taking a bracing sip of coffee. Crying wouldn’t help her, having hysterics wouldn’t make anything better, she’d learned that a long time ago. She’d learned how to look on the bright side of everything… though this was enough to throw anyone for a loop.

Caitlin nodded her head at the wall behind the bar, where dozens of tally marks showed, carved into the paint. “I’m real careful about setting my alarm. If I’m right, I think I’ve been here about five months.”

“Are we stuck?”

“Yeah…” Caitlin trailed off, and sighed. “Not fair, but what’re you going to do? Peter didn’t mean to do this to me. He was trying to find his family, his memories. He pulled us both to some future, a horrible place where almost everyone was dead. Then… He didn’t have really good control over time-traveling, and went back without me. Whatever he did when he got back, it made it so that future never existed. Except I wasn’t born in it, so I didn’t wink out when it did. I ended up here.”

Charlie stared at her with wide eyes. A distillation of every sci-fi film she’d ever seen, every science fiction book she’d ever read, and every real theoretical science article she’d ever perused were all clamoring for attention in her ordered mind, along with everything she’d ever learned in Sunday school.

“Are we in Purgatory?” Charlie asked without thinking.

Caitlin’s return smile was incredibly sad. “It’s crossed my mind. I’d’ve said yes, except you aren’t the only one who’s come here. Like I said, I get visitors. People come and go, but I stay here. Peter’s come back a few times, or… at least some version of him, from some other future. He doesn’t always know me.” She smiled a little more genuinely. “Let me tell you, I really let him have it the first time he showed up. Beat him senseless with a bar stool.”

Charlie couldn’t help it, she giggled.

“Oh, he got up right after. He heals himself, in addition to whatever else he can do, and he apologized a lot. He’s always apologizing, trying to get me out of here when he figures out who I am and where I came from. Doesn’t work though. I don’t think the universe wants to let me leave. Either that or Peter still hasn’t figured everything out yet.” She paused, looking thoughtful. “Actually, it’s probably that. He’s a passionate man, and prettier than me, but has the common sense of a doormat. I expect I’ll be here a while yet.”

Charlie laughed, almost snorting her coffee, and Caitlin laughed along with her, sounding easy and relieved.

“So, Charlie, who’s this Hiro?”

“My best friend,” Charlie said, and hesitated a moment, unwilling to tell anyone such an unbelievable story. Then she glanced outside, suppressed a shudder, and turned back to tell Caitlin about the unexpected tourist from Japan that had defied time and space to save her.

“And I was mad after. Is that weird? He saved my life, and I was so mad at him. He let Sylar go, and he told me that man was a killer, but he had a destiny too. And me… I was ready to die.” Charlie looked deep into her coffee, trying to find the words before looking back up into Caitlin’s face. “I mean, I’d already tied up all the loose ends and had everything figured out and then all of a sudden there I am, my whole life ahead of me again, and I don’t have any idea what to do! It’s a shock, and I wasn’t ready!”

“I think I’ve met him,” Caitlin said softly, reaching out to grip Charlie’s hand in hers. “Hiro. He keeps coming back here, looking for you. He just never told me your name. I think he was afraid to jinx it.”

Charlie returned the grip so hard it hurt. “I said he loved me. And I know he did. He was the best thing that ever happened to me. He wanted to give me that happy ending, I know it. I just don’t know what happened to us…”

“Butterflies. He said once that it was something about butterflies, that stepping on too many could destroy the universe. Or something. Sometimes he gets a little excited and impossible to understand.”

Charlie smiled and let go of Caitlin’s hand. “That sounds like him.”

“D’ya want to help me? Until this place lets us go?”

Charlie looked around. “Help you with what?”

“Serving the customers. I said you weren’t the only one that comes here, just the only one that wasn’t trying to. Most of the time travelers come through here, and when they do, they’re hungry. And I think they’re getting tired of my cooking,” Caitlin said. “Can you make anything?”

Charlie blinked at Caitlin’s matter-of-fact acceptance of her strange fate, and turned with a start as the bell over the front door rang. Standing in the doorway, almost blending in with the blackness, was the dark-haired man she’d last seen in the storeroom of the Burnt Toast Diner.

“Sylar, good to see ya,” Caitlin said, cocking her head. “What’ll you be wanting?”

He stared at Charlie like he’d seen a ghost. Which, she reflected, he probably had. Who knew when or where he had come from? He couldn’t hurt her now. He’d had his chance, and he hadn’t. And here and now she was protected by whatever strange universal laws that had sent her here. The bar at the end of the universe.

“How about the best pancakes in all of Texas?” Charlie suggested suddenly. Caitlin grinned at her, and Sylar stared at them in something like shock before nodding.

“I’d like that,” he said slowly.

Charlie jumped down to go to the kitchen, and Caitlin caught her as she walked by. “One of the perks of the job, you can ask them about anything. And they’ll tell you. Trust me, if they’re here, they’re desperate to talk to someone. You can learn anything from them. One of them’ll help you find your Hiro, I know it.”

“I’ll remember that,” Charlie said, smiling. She finally walked back into the kitchen, no longer afraid.

Comments

( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
scorpionvoices
Nov. 5th, 2009 02:18 am (UTC)
I like this one a lot! I know next to nothing about the Bar at the End of the Universe and everything I know about Heroes I learned from fanfic, but this fic really resonates well with me. :D
jaune_chat
Nov. 5th, 2009 02:30 am (UTC)
I'm so pleased you liked it! Actually, I'm referencing the book The Restaraunt at the End of the Universe, the sequel to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams. Cult classics of sci-fi literature. Awesome books. If you get a chance, I highly recommend them! Thank you so much for commenting.
scorpionvoices
Nov. 5th, 2009 03:06 am (UTC)
D'oh! Believe it or not I knew that, I just forgot that it was actually Restaurant instead of Bar. And that series is one that I've been telling myself for years that I'm going to get around to reading, and I haven't quite managed it yet. I suppose I'll get there someday; it's just really hard to convince myself to read the classics, for fear of being disappointed.
jaune_chat
Nov. 5th, 2009 10:41 am (UTC)
Unlike some other classics, the "Hitchhiker's" series is funny and bizarre and off-the-wall. I don't think you'll be disappointed. :)
tiptoe39
Nov. 5th, 2009 02:33 am (UTC)
AHHHHHHHHHHHH WINNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm on deadline I can't say more buttttt WINNNN!!!

you're so lovely. *loves on you*
jaune_chat
Nov. 5th, 2009 02:38 am (UTC)
*points to icon* You set loose the plot bunnies. My plot bunnies are vicious creatures. They don't like to be denied.

So glad you enjoyed it Tippy!
miss_miso
Nov. 5th, 2009 04:04 am (UTC)
Adorable! I love it. Thanks for the pick-me-up :)
jaune_chat
Nov. 5th, 2009 10:47 am (UTC)
So glad you liked it miss miso! :-)
themaskedmckay
Nov. 5th, 2009 04:10 am (UTC)
Awww! This was great!
When Charlie was whisked away I immediately thought of Caitlin; I'm glad she's been keeping herself busy. =p

jaune_chat
Nov. 5th, 2009 10:48 am (UTC)
Pleased you enjoyed it! Yeah, all these forgotten characters have to go somewhere. They might as well do something while they're there!
eternal_moonie
Nov. 5th, 2009 09:00 am (UTC)
awesome story!
jaune_chat
Nov. 5th, 2009 10:48 am (UTC)
I'm tickled pink that you like it! :-)
ariana_paris
Nov. 5th, 2009 11:10 am (UTC)
Excellent idea to put Caitlin and Charlie in the same "lost in time" place. I appreciated the reference to Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy too - it seems like an apt place for them to end up. I wonder what Sylar is doing there.
jaune_chat
Nov. 5th, 2009 12:28 pm (UTC)
Glad you liked it Ariana! Sylar? He's just one of the many time-traveling patrons of the bar, from some future or past where he ended up with that power.
lemomina
Nov. 5th, 2009 09:06 pm (UTC)
Man , I had a similar idea while watching the episode , I was like " Samuel is such a nice guy , He knew Caitlin was so lonely so he decided to send Charlie to keep her company " . So i thought this would be Cracky but instead i found a very well written fic , with good Humor " but has the common sense of a doormat " and Depth ( the books and all )

Great job , Very well done ;D
jaune_chat
Nov. 5th, 2009 09:23 pm (UTC)
I pondered going the cracky route, but instead I had this mental image of someone who mans a really lonely outpost and only gets the occasional visitors. So I figured that's what Caitlin was doing, and I knew Charlie would be willing to accept that fate for a while, so together they'll be dispensing practical advice to time-travelers the whole 'verse over!

I'm glad you liked it and thanks for commenting!
angary
Nov. 6th, 2009 02:01 am (UTC)
Holy crap, are you me? I've been sitting on a fic like this for such a long time that I had forgotten about it until I saw your header. Well, I had a different idea about how things would go, but it's like you read my mind!

Anyway, I love how you incorporated the last episode's events to this scenario. It would be awesome to see Charlie and Caitlin canonically meeting each other and getting to talk about their experiences with time-travelers, but reading this fic was the next best thing. I thought it was really cute that you had them team up by the end of the fic. I also like the touch at the end with Sylar appearing in the diner, and slowly taking everything in stride after the fact. Yay pancakes!

Fantastic job on this! Now I don't have to finish my fic, because you've said pretty much all I had wanted to say in my version of events XD


Edited at 2009-11-06 02:05 am (UTC)
jaune_chat
Nov. 6th, 2009 02:55 am (UTC)
jaune_chat - reading your mind, all the time!

I'm so glad you liked the story! Yeah, I think these two would have a really interesting friendship, and I'm pleased as punch that tiptoe39 threw me the plot bunny. I wonder how many other people Hiro and/or Peter are going to maroon in time? They could end up turing this bar into a really first-rate establishment!
raissad
Nov. 6th, 2009 09:06 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :)
jaune_chat
Nov. 6th, 2009 10:46 pm (UTC)
You're so welcome!
anansie_s
Nov. 7th, 2009 12:20 am (UTC)
Wow, what an interesting concept, and I really liked how you wrote Caitlyn especially. Talk about survival instinct.
jaune_chat
Nov. 7th, 2009 01:06 am (UTC)
Sister of a gangster? If she didn't have survival instinct, I don't think she would have lasted too long. I viewed her as a fairly tough and adaptable cookie. Thank you so much for commenting!
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )

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