HeroesVille: Beginnings

Part Two: Consequences

That might have been the end of it—Angela has the list now, and although Lionel is adorably naïve, quite intelligent, and excellent in bed, she's seen his future and it doesn't have her in it.

And this was always about Arthur and his mysterious plans, anyway.

Angela is in Arthur's office at Primatech Paper, the one place, ironically enough, she's sure she won't be disturbed (unless her husband decides to come home early from that business trip he refused to tell her about). She's reading the list.

After each name, there's a long string of numbers and letters. Angela doesn't know the code Arthur is using, but she doubts, somehow, that any of this has to do with paper. Primatech is still a fledging effort, barely a business, and Arthur isn't really interested in it anyway, but its employees are more loyal than those at Arthur's law firm.

Angela has dreamed about this list—she saw Arthur holding it and then grabbing a child she's never seen before, and both of them were surrounded by a white light—and then Arthur shot green lightning from his fingertips.

She's not anxious for the dream to come true—and she's thankful that she has more backbone than Cassandra; she'll do something to stop it.

She's not sure why she doesn't like the idea of Arthur gaining another ability, but somehow she feels it will ruin everything. And Angela Petrelli has learned to follow her intuition.

Before she can change her mind, Angela lights a match and burns the list. Carefully, she sweeps the ashes onto a spare piece of paper, and tucks a blank page into the envelope, which she reseals. Then she picks up the paper with the ashes on it, and opens the window. There's a strong wind blowing, and the ashes of the list disappear within seconds.

Satisfied, Angela props the unmarked, resealed envelope between the leg of Arthur's chair and the side of his desk, so that, if he really looks, he'll find it—but otherwise, it can stay lost forever (or get recycled by the janitors). She doesn't care.

Now there's no way Arthur can get that green-lightning power. Angela brushes off her hands, conscious of a job well done.

She doesn't suspect that anything has gone wrong with her plan until several weeks later. Two things happen which rather shake her imperturbable calm, mostly because, unusually, she didn't dream about them.

The first is the pregnancy test. She didn't even mean to take one, honestly, but she walked past a drugstore, remembered that her period was late, and decided to check—just in case. She couldn't remember herself and Lionel using protection (alcohol; she should swear off it now, but she knows she won't), and she and Arthur are in a stage of their relationship where they always do.

The pregnancy test is positive. And it's Lionel's baby, she's sure of that.

The second thing is a conversation with Arthur.

"Sweetheart?" he asks, over lunch in the spacious home they can just barely afford. "While I was away, were there any packages delivered?"

"Not that I know of," Angela lies mildly. "Why, were you expecting something?"

"It's probably just lost in transit," Arthur says, smiling at her. Angela feels a slight chill—Arthur is undoubtedly on Lionel's track already, and she really did like him—she didn't mean to get him in trouble.

Angela realizes she may have to do something—not least because Arthur will eventually realize that she's pregnant and that it can't be his child.

As always in times of crisis, she goes up to the bedroom and takes a nap.

She dreams of her baby—a beautiful boy with her dark hair and Lionel's dark eyes. She and Arthur name him Gabriel. He and Nathan quarrel all the time, growing up, he needs glasses at a young age, and he is Arthur's favorite child, though he tries to hide this. Nathan is the one who'll be a success, Angela knows, but she sees Gabriel studying to be a doctor, with Arthur's blessing, and then comes the day when Arthur and Gabriel disappear into a tall building and the next thing Angela knows, there's chaos and blood and death, and her son and husband smile at one another while Nathan flies around making rallying speeches. But no one is listening. Angela begs her baby to see her, but the sky turns red and Arthur laughs—

She wakes up. And she knows she can't let this baby, her Gabriel, be raised with Nathan. She can't let Arthur see him, can't even let him know about the baby's existence. Passing Gabriel off as Arthur's son might work, she knows now, but only in the short term.

What should she do?

"I found your messenger," she hears Arthur telling someone on the phone. "He's living in some hick town in Kansas."

Lionel!

Angela isn't sure why she cares (she'll blame the hormones) but she can't let Arthur kill Lionel. Not that it would come to that, she tells herself experimentally. She doesn't buy it.

"Honey?" she calls casually. "I'm going to the store, want anything?"

"Running low on toothpaste!" he calls back. "Want me to come with?"

"No, that's all right, you're busy! See you in a few!"

And she's gone, out the door before Arthur can say anything else. She hates to admit it, but she needs help.

She runs through a quick mental list of her own and Arthur's acquaintances, with a special emphasis on any that have been to Kansas. As far as she knows, she doesn't actually know anyone who's been to Kansas—although she has a friend who lives in Paris whose husband grew up there, she's pretty sure.

Still, Elise and her husband—last name Painter? Potter? Printer?—don't have any abilities, so Angela is reluctant to trust them with covering her tracks—they just won't have had the proper experience.

No—clearly it's time to talk to Kaito. Such a nice man.

She uses a pay phone, after having bought the toothpaste and some orange juice for herself. "Kaito?"

There's the sound of his voice speaking Japanese.

"It's Angela," she says.

"Ah. Is something wrong?"

"Do you know anything about Kansas?"

"No, I can't say that I do. American, yes?"

"It's one of the ones in the middle. Ever heard the name Luthor?"

"No…I can have it looked into, if you like."

"Thank you. The name is Lionel Luthor. Luthor with an 'o,' not an 'e.' I'm looking for an address. And anything else you can get me."

"Of course."

"Thank you, Kaito."

"My pleasure, Mrs. Petr—Angela." She can hear the polite bow from here.

Click. Just like that, Angela, here in New York with her as-yet-unsuspicious husband and her six-year-old son, pregnant, and about to fudge her receipt to make that orange juice look really expensive, doesn't feel so alone.

It's not as easy as that, of course—neither she nor Arthur finds Lionel as quickly as they expected, but then comes the day Arthur flies to Kansas and Angela tries all the numbers Kaito found for her—before falling asleep, and dreaming that Lionel is coming to see her.

When she wakes up, she laughs at the marvelous coincidence.

There's a knock at the door, and she rises gracefully to answer it.

"Angela," he announces. He may be young, but he has presence.

"Lionel," she acknowledges, and holds the door open wider.

"You look well," he tells her, sitting across from her at her real kitchen table.

"You, too." It's the truth. He looks confident, successful…happy.

In that moment, Angela knows she won't tell him about Gabriel. Not yet. When he's born will be time enough. Lionel has his own life to live, after all.

"Want something to drink?" Angela asks belatedly. "Tea? Coffee? Milk?" She almost laughs at the thought of watching Lionel drink milk.

"No, thank you. I'm here on business," he claims suavely.

Angela waits. He surely can't mean he's in her kitchen because of business—unless he's looking for Arthur. Brief moment of panic, which she quickly quells.

"So…how are you?"

"Fine." Angela isn't going to explain. Still, perhaps she'd better warn him about Arthur. She wants him in one piece and not locked away in a lab somewhere being experimented upon, after all. "And you? Still delivering personal packages?"

"Not anymore," he smiles. "I wasn't precisely an expert at it, was I?"

"Oh, I don't know," Angela says slyly, before she can stop herself. She and Lionel exchange shy smirks, and then he's telling her all about his amazing, marvelous new company, and it's like old times again.

Angela doesn't realize how much fun she's had—nor what an excellent opportunity she's missed to make plans with him for Gabriel—until after Lionel's gone. Apparently he really does have important business in town.

Tired, Angela goes upstairs and lies down. Maybe her dreams will help her figure things out…

--

Some months after his frustrating, fruitless trip to Kansas (he didn't even have the list of people with abilities, so the trip was a complete waste), Arthur Petrelli is sitting in his office, putting together all the different data he's acquired from people's minds.

Telepathy is an amazing power, one he's very glad he was able to acquire. However, it's usually necessary to write down everything in an orderly list before he can really process things—especially when he's just read a lot of different minds. He'll burn the list when he's finished, of course. The fact that he smokes cigars comes in handy for the destroying of secret documents.

The facts are woefully few (trust his Angela for that) but his secretary saw her pull what's-his-name into the side office, and what's-his-name was holding an envelope…then there's Nathan's babysitter snooping through Angela's closet and finding a maternity shirt she didn't have seven years ago with Nathan…and now Angela's off to spend some months in Japan, helping Kaito and Ishi build their own company (a legitimate one; trust Kaito to toe the line)…

Arthur doesn't believe in coincidence. The senator sent him the messenger who never arrived, and yet someone did, didn't they, and if Angela's pregnant why wouldn't she tell him, and she's never left Nathan this long before—they're lucky they've found such good babysitters…

There's one way to test this, isn't there? Arthur isn't sure if what he's considering is even possible, but then, his estimates of what's possible have inflated rather rapidly since he realized what he can do…

What he needs is a leading geneticist. He can't do this on his own. And he'll have to convince Bob to come up with the necessary capital (so convenient, having a friend with the Midas touch)…tell him it's for Nathan's birthday party. Seven, an important age…

"Hello? Arthur Petrelli speaking…put Dr. Hamilton on…I think he'll be interested…"

--

Angela adores Elise and her husband's home in the middle of nowhere, France. How could she not?

How could she not adore her old school-friend who doesn't ask what she's doing, heavily pregnant and her husband nowhere in sight, eating a croissant and pretending everything's normal?

The two little girls are about Nathan's age, and they're adorable, too. Nell and Laura. Very English names for Elise to have chosen—it's probably her husband's influence. Angela can't remember his first name, but he's Something Potter, she's ascertained.

"Thought about names yet?" Elise asks brightly.

"His name is Gabriel," Angela says. She's not going to fight fate.

"Oh, how sweet! He weel be your leetle angel!" Elise says in English, clapping her hands.

"No doubt," Angela agrees (rather sardonically, but Elise is too tactful to notice).

--

Ishi hasn't heard from Angela in months. Arthur's a little frustrated. Kaito swore to him that his wife was staying with them, but surely Ishi would know, if that were the case…

Meanwhile, progress with Messenger-Two is quite rapid; Arthur finally got hold of that man, Luthor, that's his name, and it was easy work to swipe a DNA sample. Luthor probably would've been more suspicious if it hadn't been for the check (thank you, Bob!). He was such a bore, going on about agriculture and the economy. Arthur's never been very interested in any of that.

The law has slightly more appeal, but only insofar as he's able to manipulate, evade, and in general break it.

Dr. Hamilton thinks Luthor's clone is nearly ready. Looks his age, by now. All Arthur needs to make it work, make the clone live and have an ability so he'll be able to control whatever hellspawn Angela's pregnant with, is Ishi.

--

It rains when Gabriel is born. Angela supposes that's to be expected. She feels like maybe the Universe is having a bit of a laugh at her expense.

Elise is very supportive. And her little girl, Laura, actually asks to hold Gabriel.

Angela makes her sit down, and she doesn't quite let go of her son even when Laura's holding him. She'll have to give him up soon enough, but that doesn't mean she'll tolerate carelessness.

"He's beautiful," breathes Laura.

"Looks like an ugly old man to me," argues her sister Nell. "And I thought babies didn't have eyebrows."

"Everyone has eyebrows, darling," reproves Elise.

Now that Nell mentions it, though, Angela has to admit that Gabriel's eyebrows are rather prominent. He's already got a bit of dark fuzz on his head, and his eyes, when open, are dark as well.

He's not as beautiful as Laura Potter seems to think, but he's got a certain charm. Then again, what can you expect, from a newborn?

Angela won't let herself get carried away.

--

"Well? Can you do it?" Arthur only asks because he feels the need to say something. He knows Ishi can do it.

"You're sure this will be for the good of everyone?" she asks again, looking worried.

"Ishi," Arthur says, holding his impatience back with an ease born of desperation (and long hours of practice), "have I ever lied to you?"

Technically—he thinks, but then this is hardly the time to get sidetracked.

Ishi brightens. "That's true…" she says. "You are a man of your word, Arthur Petrelli."

He crosses his fingers as she turns toward Messenger-Two (whom he's decided to name Samson Gray—Samson because of its Biblical connotations, and the fact that 'son' implies anything but a clone; Gray because that's the moral area he, his wife, and their associates seem doomed to exist in). Ishi breathes on the body that looks (that is!) identical to Luthor's, and kisses his forehead. Arthur can almost see Samson Gray, complete with dormant formula and falsified memories, wake up and exist.

It's magical—and probably the first time that Arthur decides he needs the power to do that himself.

Ishi gives him a little bow, and leaves, saying only, "You are a brave man, Arthur."

Arthur grins. He's going to keep an eye on this baby. He doesn't know where Angela is at the moment, but he's sure she'll come back once the baby's born. And there Samson Gray will be, a tool ready to Arthur's hand.

--

"I'm glad you agreed to meet me," Angela says, smiling tiredly at Lionel. She hasn't been getting much sleep lately. Nathan's seven, now—she'd forgotten how much babies cry.

"Of course, Angela. Is this him?" Lionel asks. He sounds a little stilted.

"Yes," Angela says, pulling back the blanket from Gabriel's sleeping form. "This is Gabriel—your son."

Lionel holds out his arms, and, reluctantly, Angela hands Gabriel over. She knows this is for the best. "Goodbye," she says, and goes, before she breaks down crying (only from exhaustion, of course).

It's only later, after Angela's had a good night's rest and said hello to Nathan, darling child, that she realizes. Impossible as it sounds, that simply can't have been Lionel.

Where was the subtext, the sexual tension, the amazing, powerful confidence she's felt coming off Lionel in waves every time she's seen him before this?

That was someone else. Angela's about to put two and two together further, when Arthur comes into their shared bedroom.

"Forget about Luthor and the baby," he orders, and Angela closes her eyes for a moment.

When she opens them, it's to say, "Oh, Arthur, sweetheart, I didn't hear you come in. Is Nathan settling down all right?"

"Nathan is your favorite son, isn't he, darling?" Arthur asks.

"Of course," Angela replies, looking confused. "He's my only son."

--

It's not too long after that when Dr. Hamilton's lab burns down. The doctor is inside. A tragic accident.

Lionel Luthor wasn't born yesterday, after all.

Besides, what kind of person fishes someone's used coffee cup out of the trash, anyway?

All of Lionel's fastidious soul recoils from Arthur Petrelli. The man is clearly insane.

His poor wife, Lionel thinks. A goddess among women.

Pity that he won't be able to see her again. Luthorcorp couldn't afford the scandal.

And Lionel leaves it at that—for the moment.