This was hardly the first time Peter had told someone he was romantically involved with that he loved them. This was, though, the strongest reaction he'd ever gotten to such a statement. He knew he had a tendency to blurt out his feelings way too soon, but when he felt this way, he couldn't not tell someone. He was shot down so often that he'd come to expect it. He didn't know how to take Gabe's response.

"Guh," the man said, sucking in air like Peter had punched him in the sternum. His mouth opened to speak again, then shut slowly as he stared at the empath. He gave a brief shiver and stood there otherwise struck dumb, hands at his sides.

Shit, Peter thought worriedly. I'm an idiot. It's too sudden. There's too much between us. What was I thinking? What the hell is he supposed to say to that? I'm going to ruin this. What is it I need to be doing? I'm doing something wrong! He stroked Gabriel's cheeks a few times before letting his hands drop, schooling his expression to something less disappointed than he felt.

Peter started to step back, but Gabriel reached for him the instant he moved. "No, no, no, no," Gabriel said quickly and softly, putting his hands on Peter's shoulders and preventing him from pulling away. Peter paused and looked up at him.

Gabriel rubbed the outer edge of Peter's shoulders very gently like he was delicate and fragile. "P-Peter …" he started haltingly, pausing to clear his throat. "That's … that's true." He blinked several times, eyes glistening, and swallowed.

Peter's brows drew together slightly in puzzlement. Did he think I was lying to him? That mistaken belief seemed likely and wasn't unreasonable. It hadn't been hard for Peter to gather that people had lied to Gabriel and played on his affections all his life. The stories Gabe told of himself were littered with the false promises he'd been given to manipulate him into what others wanted him to be, never asking what he wanted for himself. For the most part, he'd gone along with it because something was better than nothing; that was just how life - his life - was; and he was good at immersing himself in fantasy. It was all a game of pretend and make-believe, a fake world where he could imagine someone cared about him. There were way too many parallels to Peter's own life for him not to have noticed the pattern. He could understand how, when Gabriel was required to face the reality of a hateful, disinterested world, that he became Sylar and wrecked vengeance. Peter hoped the man understood that Peter's promises weren't false and he wasn't trying to make Gabriel into anything he wasn't.

"I have my abilities now," Gabriel told him. "One of them is to detect lies." The man blinked and looked down, to the side, breathing a little deeper. "It's true … real. I …" He brought his head back up, looking searchingly into Peter's face. His right hand crept around to the back of Peter's head. "Can you trust me … one more time? Please?" He tilted his head. "I have to be sure." His eyes darted briefly to Peter's forehead and he pressed his lips together firmly, then jerked his gaze back to meet Peter's.

That tiny flicker reminded Peter of the desire Gabriel had experienced, just seconds out of Matt's nightmare world, for Matt's ability. He remembered a Gabriel from the future telling him that he felt and fought the Hunger every day. Peter took a deep breath and let it out. The only way they could be together was if Peter trusted him. He nodded shallowly.

Gabriel's long fingers cradled the back of his skull in a secure grip and pulled him forward a little, turning Peter's face up as Gabriel moved closer and bent to meet him. Gabriel's lips touched Peter's and he raised his left hand to caress Peter's cheek, delicate touches that explored the edge of stubble near his jaw. Gabriel's lips slid lightly against his, warm and gentle and sensitive. It tickled and tingled. Peter smiled a little at the weird sensation. His own lips were parted, softly touching Gabe's and moving back and forth across them.

The odd feeling continued, even as Peter licked at Gabriel's upper lip and ran the tip of his tongue across it. It was like sparks were flying between them, each one something precious and vital and unbelievably intimate. Warmth suffused Peter's body, flushing him from foot to crown. Something was happening and it wasn't just a kiss. The feeling flashed him back to an embrace of utter betrayal, when his father had hugged him and stolen his abilities. And now that he thought about it, he was certain - something was being taken from him. This wasn't just a kiss.

Peter stiffened and jerked, but Gabriel held him firmly where he was. 'Trust me'? 'One last time'? Or did he say 'one more time'? Like I'll never trust him again after this? He was certain Gabriel was doing something to him, pulling something out of the deepest recesses of his soul. Peter's breaths became hard huffs and his mouth stilled as his blood ran cold. He's stealing my ability. He did all this just for my fucking ability?

Gabriel released the back of Peter's head, but Peter wasn't trying to pull away anymore. He was fucked anyway; his father's theft had been fast. Gabriel had already had plenty of time. Gabriel still tried to kiss him - succeeded, one might suppose, but Peter's lips were frozen. He was fixed to the spot, his heart breaking. Gabriel pulled back, his expression having changed to sorrowful. Peter, though, glared daggers at him, fists balling at his sides. He shook with barely contained fury. Gabriel said pleadingly, "You can trust me. I-"

"Trust you?" Peter burst out suddenly, swinging and punching Gabriel squarely in the mouth with everything he had. He felt bones break satisfyingly in the man's face, but with regeneration, that wouldn't last. Pain lanced up through Peter's hand and for him, there was no healing. Gabriel went straight down on his ass and stayed there, flopping bonelessly and making no move to fight back. It was the fear on Gabe's face that stopped Peter from doing anything else immediately to vent his frustration and rage at the base betrayal. What the fuck is he afraid of? Did he think I'd be happy about that? That I could ever trust him again? Peter's mind caught on that thought. Gabriel wasn't good at reading emotions or predicting how people would feel about things, but he wasn't so awful at it that he'd think Peter would tolerate having his feeble replacement ability stripped from him. "You stole my ability!" His tone had a hint of a question in it - a doubt.

"No, I didn't!" Gabriel barked out immediately. He blinked and jerked a hand to his lips. "That wasn't-"

Peter's brows drew together. If Gabe had done this just for his ability, then now that he had it, he should be leaving. He wasn't. Everything in Peter told him he'd misread things. He huffed, thinking over that tingling feeling. He scowled and raised his hand to his own lips. They'd been sharing something there. He was sure of it. But what?

"You still have your ability," Gabriel said firmly, picking himself up off the floor and wiping his nose. "Use it!"

Peter dropped his hand and sneered at him, "I'm carrying Samuel's. We're in New York. Fourteen floors off the ground. I'm not going to use it here." But even as he said that, he reached out mentally. He could sense the earth far below him and to a lesser extent the concrete and steel of the apartment building all around them. Unless his mind was playing tricks on him, there was nothing missing. He knew what it felt like not to have any abilities. This wasn't it.

An idea brightened Gabriel's face and he held up his hand, palm outward. "Then take one of mine. Take the last one I used."

Peter looked at the hand suspiciously, but the gut-wrenching feeling of betrayal was already fading fast. He knew he'd made a mistake because he still had his power; Gabriel hadn't taken anything from him. Thank God the man had regeneration. Peter put his hand out to match Gabe's, letting his fingertips touch, feeling the soft skin and brushing against it lightly. He glanced up to see the relief building on Gabriel's face. Peter let out a deep exhalation. Gabriel was awfully forgiving of being hit and being hurt. He had been even before the nightmare. Peter wondered about that. He turned his hand a little and let his fingers twine with Gabriel's and then tighten, palm-to-palm. He took the last ability Gabriel had used, skipping over anything that worked constantly like regeneration or lie detection.

The power was unfamiliar to him and unlike Gabriel, Peter didn't always know intuitively how to use what he had. It danced through his mind as he tried repeatedly to activate it. Nothing happened. There was something sparking faintly where their hands were joined. He pulled his hand free and looked at his palm, puzzled. Nothing continued to happen, though he had a strange urge to pull Gabriel to him and kiss him. It was an urge detached from any emotion of affection - like a habit or a reflexive action - so he ignored it.

Gabriel was looking on hopefully, watching Peter try to figure it out. Finally he said, "Come here. I'll show you," and leaned his face in for a kiss.

"Hey!" Peter jerked back, irritated and baring his teeth for a second. He wasn't completely over the feeling of being taken advantage of.

Gabe flinched like he expected to get hit again - not an unrealistic fear under the circumstances. "Please!" He swallowed and made a soothing motion. "Please, Peter. It works through touch. Erotic touch, mostly. Let me show you. I'll show you how it works. Okay?"

Peter relaxed and nodded. Gabriel brought his face to Peter's slowly, leaning into a simple, chaste kiss, his hands stealing up to rest on Peter's hips. Peter felt a pinging inside of his skull. A channel had opened. He tuned in to it and the same tingle he'd felt before began, but this time the information was flowing into him instead of out. He could sense Gabriel's desires: Trust me, trust me, trust me. Oh, Peter, please trust me. I don't want to hurt you. I want to be with you. Let me in. I know you want to. Care for me? I know you do. Please let yourself. Let it happen. Let it be. Let us be.

They weren't quite thoughts. More like motivations and wishes - what he wanted, what the man really, deeply wanted and Peter knew he was getting a level of desire that might even be deeper than Gabriel's knowledge of himself. He pulled back from the kiss, understanding now what Gabriel had done to him before and why. Gabe also feared being taken advantage of, and rightly so. He was checking if my intentions were honorable, Peter thought with a flash of amusement. "I believe you," Peter said softly, bringing his hands up to touch Gabriel's arms, stroking lightly.

Gabriel smiled slowly and gratefully, kissing Peter again and again in small pecks. Each one made a buzz in Peter's head: desire, lust, promise, trust, thankfulness, I can be good, maybe I'm special enough, I want to please you, I want you. Peter let his eyes slide shut and basked in it, letting the knowledge from the depth of Gabriel's soul wash through him. It was like being inside of his heart. His hands roamed from Gabriel's arms around to run up and down his back. Gabriel's hands, likewise crept around to the small of Peter's back, fingers rubbing small circles just a bit lower.

"You want me?" Peter asked unnecessarily. He could feel Gabriel's arousal in his head, his heart and against his groin, but he wanted to hear it.

"Yes, I do," the other man murmured against his skin, lipping across his temple now and up to his forehead. Very intentionally, he was giving Peter a window into everything he was and wanted. He was sharing himself and Peter felt so privileged by the trust being placed in him. He swore to himself he wouldn't let Gabriel down.

"You want to go to the bedroom?" Peter whispered.

"Uh-huh," Gabriel breathed between smooches.

Peter broke away and took the other man's hand, leading him in. Gabriel released his hand and started disrobing, looking between Peter and the bed uncertainly. Apprehension colored his features and slowed his undressing. He stood to the side of the bed, holding his pants and his shirt, looking around like he didn't know what to do with them.

Naked now, Peter walked over and took Gabriel's clothes from him, tossing them to the side. He smiled slowly to look up and down Gabriel's body, admiring the long, lean lines of his frame. Gabe still wore his underwear and socks. With a blushing glance at Peter's groin (and the empath's obvious interest in the situation), Gabriel turned aside and finished stripping. Peter reached out and smacked the proffered ass that Gabriel presenting to him. The other man jumped and shot him a nervous, but pleased look. Peter tilted his head and said, "You don't need to be afraid."

"I'm not," Gabriel said, straightening and tossing his underwear onto the pile with the rest of his things. He stood taller, acting self-assured. Peter smiled, because that was such a quick turnaround it had to be false. He stepped closer, pulled Gabriel's face to his and kissed him, letting that wonderful ability hum between them. This time it went both ways, but what Peter read from his partner was: I'm worried, will you be gentle?, will it be like in the dream?, are things different?, I'm afraid.

"Liar," Peter smirked when his mouth was free.

Gabriel hesitated, looking Peter over with reservations etched on his face. He nodded a little. "Hm, yeah … yeah." Gabriel kissed down to Peter's neck, his hands cradling his head. Peter gave a soft, pleased noise and ground against him, feeling Gabriel's likewise swollen cock between them. Even that motion gave him information: I want you, I like that, take me, I'm concerned, do you really love me?, prove it. Gabriel murmured, "There's no hiding anymore between us, is there?"

It was kind of intrusive, Peter allowed. Maybe Gabriel doesn't want to share this much, he thought. "I can swap for a different ability if you like."

"No," Gabriel said immediately. He paused with his lips at Peter's ear. "I want you to … know me. I want to be yours."

Peter absorbed what that might mean and the many-layered signals he was getting. "You want me to fuck you?"

They'd done that once, because Peter had insisted Gabriel receive before he pitched. As far as Peter had been able to tell, Gabriel had suffered through it, struggling with memories of abuse from long ago. Peter had refused to try again - and he didn't need to anyway. Gabriel had been a little rough at first as a top, but he'd taken well to instruction.

"Yes," Gabriel said firmly, pulling back to look him in the eyes. "Yes," he repeated, kissing Peter and conveying his certainty: Be the one for me, show me how it should be, prove that you're different.

Peter rubbed his nose along Gabriel's. "Get on the bed." He parted from Gabe, allowing the other man to do as he was told as Peter rifled through his sock drawer for something other than socks. He pulled out three neckties. Before climbing on the twin bed himself, he snagged a bottle of lotion from next to it. He didn't have lube or a condom, but he was tested regularly at work and Gabriel's partners were few. They'd worked out the other mechanics in the dream world. I'm going to need a bigger bed. "Get up on all fours."

Gabriel complied. Peter fastened one end of the tie around the man's right wrist and pulled it up off the bed. He put his hand between Gabe's shoulder blades and pressed. "Down," he murmured. "Chest to the bed. Leave your butt up." Gabriel cooperated and Peter pulled the man's left wrist behind him, tying them over the small of his back. The next necktie went over Gabriel's eyes as a blindfold and the last Peter put before his mouth as a gag. He leaned in and kissed Gabriel's cheek, waiting a moment as the man understood his intentions and opened his mouth receptively. Peter gagged him and secured it behind Gabe's head, tightly enough to draw a little at the corners of his mouth.

Peter nuzzled him, making sure of what Gabriel wanted through the empathic touch. Even though he could use (and was using) the ability to know, he said, "If you want me to stop, shake your head. You understand?" Gabriel nodded enthusiastically, flexing his arms against his bonds and beginning to breathe harder, an eager anticipation flooding through his body. Peter moved behind the man, looking down on him - bound, gagged and blind-folded. Peter stroked himself slowly, taking in the sight of Gabriel submitting himself completely. They'd played at this a little in the dream world, but they'd never made the dominance and submission so overt.

Gabriel whined. Peter had paused too long in contemplation. He caressed Gabriel's ass, smoothing his hands over the taut flesh. "I was just looking at you," he said in answer to the unasked question. "You're beautiful." He laid over him, wrapping one arm around Gabe's chest, folding his body around him and letting his erection nudge against the other man's balls. "I love you. I want you." He kissed the middle of Gabriel's back. "It's going to be okay." Gabriel nodded unevenly, head down on the bed.

Peter could feel Gabriel's desires thrumming along under his skin because everything they were doing now was eroticized. The ability was running wide open. Peter mouthed at Gabe's back, making a slow thrust against his ass, his cock rubbing against Gabe's scrotum. Everywhere they touched, his skin tingled and buzzed. He could feel it going both ways, too, with Gabriel using the ability to read Peter's desires and motives as thoroughly as Peter was reading his.

Peter wondered what Gabriel was getting - his desire to take care of him? To help, heal and cure? To dominate and control? Because yeah, Peter admitted that last one to himself. He didn't like to let Gabriel call the shots. He'd never liked it when others tried to run his life - his father, his mother, his brother, anyone. Even Adam had figured out fast that the way to win Peter over was to make suggestions, not to give orders.

Peter straightened and picked up the lotion, squirting some on his hand. He tossed it aside and explored the other man's crack. If Gabriel already knew Peter's darkest desires, then like the man had said, there was no point in hiding. "You are mine," Peter said low and firm. Gabriel whined in wordless agreement, pushing his rump back against Peter's hand. Peter put his free hand on Gabe's hip to steady him as his fingers began to probe at his anus. "You like this?"

Gabriel whimpered at the touch, pleading for more. What Gabe wanted was clear: Oh!, there!, take me, prove it, own me, want me, please … This was even better than telepathy (or rather, better than Peter had fantasized about telepathy, since he'd never had the opportunity to use an ability like this). He adored it. Peter's eyelids fluttered at the intensity of how much he was needed and wanted. He bent and kissed Gabriel's back, working two fingers in and out in steady, sure motions, hooking them expertly to stroke across the man's prostate. He listened to Gabriel gasp and felt him tense and shift under him. So responsive! Peter could hardly wait to be inside of him.

Peter pulled his hand out and snaked it around Gabriel's waist. He rubbed his index and middle finger - the ones that had been inside of the man - up and down against Gabriel's shaft. It was like a brand, hot and hard, straining against the contact. Gabriel keened and shivered, making an inarticulate sound of need, deep in his throat.

"Uh-uh," Peter remonstrated. "You don't get to come until I let you. If you want to belong to me, you have to give me control. Surrender. Show me I can trust you."

Gabriel nodded, his breathing shifting to broken. Had Peter not been sharing the empathic link, he'd have stopped things then and there out of fear he was pushing too far. But no; this was what Gabriel wanted and Peter knew that - he felt it. Gabriel wanted someone to take control out of his hands. He wanted someone he could trust to lead him. He wanted to give over responsibility and put it all on someone else - someone he could trust; someone who would love and respect him; someone who would come for him, who would take care of him, who would put up with him and see who he was through all of the facades. He wanted to be topped by someone who cared for him and cared about him. Peter wanted to be all of these things for someone and he wanted it desperately. The repeated mantra from the empathy that Peter needed to prove himself was making him high with desire.

Peter lined himself up behind him, confident that Gabriel would obey to the best of his ability. Peter slicked himself with more lotion and pressed in, stabilizing his penis with his thumb along the head. He pushed in an inch or two. Gabriel grunted sharply with pain and gave a shudder. He was tight. Even though Gabe wanted it, he was nervous; he was fearful and his body reflected that. He'd been far more relaxed for the prep, but the penetration itself wound him up. This was sex for Gabriel in a way that a blow job wasn't. It was letting someone inside him; and in this case, inviting it, asking for it, and making it his. He was no one's victim in this; he was a fully-present participant, with all the excitement that came with that. He was so keyed up that had he not been told he wasn't allowed to come yet, he might have lost it from the penetration alone.

"Easy, easy," Peter crooned. He took Gabriel's hands, still bound at the small of his back, and held them, curling their fingers together to comfort him. He listened to Gabriel's labored, straining breathing around the gag, teeth clamped into the fabric. Peter was hardly moving at all, letting Gabriel adjust. Peter could feel the man's muscles clenching unhappily around his dick. It felt wonderful to Peter, if a bit tight, but he knew it was hurting his partner. For the moment Gabriel's previously incessant empathic urges of 'take me!' had paused. Now it was a welter of fear and uncertainty about being violated and used.

"It's me. It's just me, buddy," Peter murmured. "Just me. And I love you. A lot." Gabriel's fingers tightened around his, squeezing steadily. The man took a deep breath and relaxed visibly. Gabriel loosened his grip somewhat and pressed his body back briefly before squeezing Peter's hands again and pulling his body forward with a soft sound. Peter waited for a few iterations of the motion before joining him in gentle counterpoint. Gabriel let out a deep, guttural moan as Peter worked his way inside him. Gabriel sagged and let go of everything but the moment - his fears, his expectations, his demands - all of it. He surrendered and let Peter take over.

Peter released Gabriel's now-slack hands and ran his own back and forth along the man's hips. He guided Gabriel in the movements, adopting a steady swaying until he was all the way in. Gabriel began to keen and Peter felt the hot band of pressure around his cock ease as his partner's body accepted the insertion at last. He pushed harder, grunting and holding Gabriel's hips for leverage, pumping into him faster. When he was able to move in and out freely enough, he reached down and urged Gabe to spread his knees a little. It changed the angle and let Peter thrust downward more easily, hitting the prostate. He knew the second he had it right because Gabriel jerked, gasped and stiffened.

Peter chuckled briefly in a smug satisfaction at making Gabriel react so strongly. No matter what had happened to Gabriel in the past, Peter was sure they hadn't made an effort to let him enjoy it. That's the spot. After a minute or two to get up to speed, Peter started fucking him ruthlessly, ramming it home time after time to a symphony of Gabriel's choked, gasping mewls.

Peter plowed him relentlessly, sensing it through the empathy as Gabriel's desires focused down to a single thing: release. There was no fear, no confusion, nothing but being possessed and played and brought off. Peter reveled in that, orchestrating Gabriel's reactions with finesse and careful attention to every detail of his need. The utter control made Peter feel full to bursting by itself. He was barely keeping himself from popping. The bright pinpoint of Gabe's rapture finally began to be edged with an awareness of actual suffering. Peter reached around and stroked Gabriel's painfully engorged member, extracting a plaintive cry that was half-begging, half-agonized.

Peter could feel something faint, like a shadow of sensation, passing through his hand as he caressed the man's shaft. Telekinesis - that's how he's doing it. That's how he's keeping himself from coming. He leaned over him with a final deep thrust and murmured, "Let it go. Let it all go. Come for me, buddy. Come for me."

Gabriel made a heaving sob and loosed the hold he had on himself. A second later he climaxed with a drawn-out shout, the orgasm ripping through him harder than Peter had ever seen. Peter felt it run through himself and rebound, provoking his own release with the empathic whiplash. It left them both shuddering in the aftermath. Peter could hardly see, he came so hard. He struggled to get his thoughts in order, because he knew aftercare was when Gabriel would need him the most.

Gabriel was always emotional after sex, but this time he was out and out bawling. His desires were a contradictory jumble: I'm filthy, that was incredible, I'm horrible, do it again, please hold me, do you still love me?, am I okay? Peter hurriedly unfastened the bindings on the man's hands and then pulled out gingerly. Gabriel collapsed to the bed and curled up on his side, crying and struggling to breathe. Gabriel tugged at the gag, but only succeeded in tightening the knot. Peter lay in front of him and struggled with it, unable to get it untied. He could feel Gabriel beginning to panic when Peter's efforts weren't solving the problem. Peter swapped abilities for telekinesis, which caused Gabe's sobbing to end with a sudden, frightened hitch. Gabriel stopped breathing and held perfectly still.

"It's okay, it's okay," Peter soothed, cutting the necktie free and throwing it away. He pushed the blindfold up and pulled it off. Gabriel started breathing again, studying Peter's face for a moment before Peter gathered him into his arms. This time he warned him rather than just snagging whatever ability he wanted, saying, "I'm going to swap back for empathy now." That one was just too damn useful.

Gabriel returned his embrace, crying quietly on his shoulder as Peter slowly stroked his back and occasionally nuzzled the side of his head. It was enough intimacy to continue sensing his feelings: I want you, I need you, you've saved me, I'm yours, I belong, I fit, don't leave me, thank you, fuck me, I'm special to you, I love you ... I love you. Peter very slowly laid a kiss on Gabriel's temple as the other man finally got back under control after the hysteria of his release. Maybe Gabriel wasn't one to say the words, but Peter could feel the sentiment and that was more than enough. His affections were returned - he was certain of it.

His voice still rocky and uneven, Gabriel looked up at him tearfully and said, "Peter - I will never leave you. I will not turn on you. I'm not going to get tired of you. We had years together and I want to have more - more years. With you. Do you understand?" He moved his hands up to Peter's face. Gabriel knew what Peter's most hidden fears were and he was addressing them directly.

Peter realized just how deep in he was here. On the one hand it felt like it had been years, but on in reality it had been little more than a few hours. Yet here he was being asked to make a commitment - a long-term commitment. He didn't exactly have a lot of experience with those (actually, none). A reformed serial killer with a Titanic-sized boatload of issues was not the best relationship material. Knowing that didn't make any difference - not to Peter. "I understand," he whispered like it was a sacred vow. "I will give you every year I have."