Author's Note: Once again, a special shout out to the reviewers who keep me inspired! BIG thanks to Kessi38, GaaraHinataWake, and Maya for your helpful comments! And thank you to everyone else who has been reading as well!
All of the memories were so twisted, so confusing. Sylar's psyche had been pulled in so many different directions that he hardly knew which memories had existed during the time that Nathan's consciousness had been forced into his body and which memories had been Nathan's long before then.
When Sylar had awoken after being drugged by Peter, nothing had made much sense. Later, when Sylar had become whole again he could barely remember what had been real and what had been a weird amalgamation of experiences that were his, Nathan's, or even Matt's.
Parts of his memories had resided in Matt Parkman's head. He remembered being in a battle of wills and of the mind against Matt, trying to convince the man to take Sylar to be reunited with his body. He also remembered being very confused and conflicted as Nathan Petrelli. A third fracture even remembered being Gabriel...but feeling so lost, so strange, a man that shouldn't exist and who was new to the world and all of its sensations.
The memory of everything becoming whole and real again was the strongest of all. Sylar had later found that Angela Petrelli and Noah Bennet had convinced Matt Parkman to use his mental powers in order to push Nathan's thoughts into Sylar's body in an attempt to resurrect the oldest Petrelli son while destroying Sylar once and for all. This had backfired, however, when Nathan had begun feeling as if he was no longer himself. He had tried searching for answers...but this had only led him down a dark path of uncovering more of the real Nathan's secret past. As a younger man, Nathan had been involved in an accident that had left his girlfriend dead. Angela had later erased those memories, but now they had resurfaced due to a power that Sylar had acquired in which he knew the history of every object he touched.
After he had admitted his guilt to his former flame's mother, he had been shot in retribution. His body had instinctively healed itself and he had awoken as Gabriel once more...in the purest sense of the word. He had no background, no memories, and no life experiences to form or shape him. It was as if he had truly been reborn, only genetic coding and innate personality there to guide him. He was shed of the influence that a childhood of loneliness and isolation within his sick mother's house had brought him.
But then somehow...and he could never pinpoint the moment...he had been Nathan again and everything else had been completely forgotten. He had awoken to find himself the Senator once more with absolutely no clue as to where the week had gone. He was scared and he was deeply shaken...the continual aching feeling that something wasn't quite right had only intensified within him. So he turned to the one man who had always had his back. He turned to the little brother that had always seen him as a hero, who had always given him strength and confidence even when he was feeling lost and uncertain.
He went to go find Peter.
And Peter had been everything that he always was to Nathan. Peter was compassionate and supportive and ready to drop everything in order to help Nathan fix what was wrong. But things turned out to be far more wrong than any of them could ever imagine.
The images became grainy and distorted...Nathan's dead body...his real dead body...was found in a storage unit. Somehow Nathan...or Sylar...had gotten strange flashes of Matt Parkman resurging in his mind. Peter had suggested that they go find Matt in order to get answers.
But then these memories kept intermixing with Sylar trapped in a hospital bed...Matt Parkman having committed suicide by cop...in hopes of silencing Sylar with this action as well. Even so, Sylar could still feel himself screaming out to his body to come and save him from death...his soul was fighting, fighting, fighting against the dying of the light with just as much strength and fortitude as always.
Matt had been lying in a hospital bed, unconscious and with his vital signs dangerously low. Nathan had turned to Peter curiously, "Can you help?"
Peter had glanced over at him. "I can try."
The moment that Peter placed his hands on Matt's chest, the man's vitals began to spike. Peter let out a heavy breath as he felt his healing power flow out from within him and into Matt. Matt began to wake up, his injuries simultaneously disappearing.
Matt jerked up in a panic, but Peter was quick to place a comforting hand on the older man's shoulder as he murmured softly, "Matt."
Matt tried to stand, but he noted that he is handcuffed to the bed.
"You're okay...Matt, you're okay." Peter reassured, gently, his grasp still firmly on Matt's shoulder. "It's me, Peter."
"Uh...what happened?" Matt wondered, groggily.
"You're okay." Peter reassured him before moving away to get Matt some water.
And then, it was as if one had been blind their entire life and then suddenly granted the ability to see the world in all its splendor and colors. It was like being roused from a deep and groggy slumber. Sylar had risen once more to the forefront of Parkman's mind and something deep within was making him hunger to reach right out and touch Nathan.
And Nathan was confused...so confused...and so deeply disturbed by everything that he had felt and saw today...and the soul wanted the body...and the body wanted the soul...it was against nature that they should have ever been separated to begin with...body and soul...
"Good things do come to those who wait." Sylar hissed to Matt, slowly and mockingly.
Matt seemed to realize what had happened, his face contorting in horror...yes, Parkman my body was drawn right to me...Peter hand delivered my salvation and he'll never even know until it's too late...
"You son of a bitch, get out of my head!" Matt yelled angrily, making Peter return to the other man's bedside out of surprised concern.
"You're in a hospital, I brought you back." Peter explained, soothingly.
"No, you don't understand. This is exactly what he wants!" Matt replied, the terror and realization now clearly painted on his face.
Nathan watched with growing curiosity...there was a puzzle here that needed to be solved...a mystery that needed unraveling. Something very wrong and curious was happening to him and he wanted to know what it was...damn it...he had been aching to know for months.
"What's he talking about?" Nathan had asked, even as Sylar had demanded towards Parkman, "Bring him closer, Parkman. One touch is all I need. You can have your miserable life back. And I can have my body back."
The words all ran together now upon recollection...what parts Nathan had said and what parts Sylar had said...it all washed together like a laundry full of ill-matched clothing.
"SHUT UP!" Matt shouted, leaving Peter and Nathan both looking very concerned. Peter and Nathan turned around, but found no one behind them. Matt continued, clearly distressed. "You guys, run. Get away from me before he comes back."
Oh...something missing was just within grasp, Nathan could feel it. There were so many answers at the tip of his fingers...he just had to reach out and grab them before they could slip away again. "Before who comes back?"
"SYLAR!" Matt exclaimed, clearly panicked and worried.
Peter looked skeptical but also slightly unnerved...was he having second thoughts about the body he and Nathan had found in the storage unit? You should have doubts, Peter. You know that I could shape shift. You know that Mommy always lies.
"Sylar's dead, Matt." Peter settled on replying, but his eyes were still marked with uncertainty, as if he was starting to doubt the entirety of his words.
"No, he's in my head. He's trying to control my mind." Matt replied, blinking quickly as his breathing deepened.
Sylar was wearing at Parkman's resolve...witling away at his mental capacity until only his own influence was left...there was a stabbing, aching pain churning in his gut that was begging and pleading to touch the man before him...Nathan, Nathan, he needed Nathan...and he knew that soon his body would begin to feel the pangs of needing him too.
"I know it sounds crazy, but if he controls me...if he gets my power..." Matt continued, his words spilling from him in a rushed fashion. "He's gonna jump back into his body."
Peter's whispering something in my ear. He thinks that Matt is crazy...he thinks that Matt is delusional. But no...there is more...there is so much more going on than that...
Oh, Peter don't deny the truth. You know that Nathan is dead and you know that I still live. Be honest, Peter...it's one of your better qualities.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa. Slow down, Matt." Nathan interjected, but his words were a bit more curious than Peter's skepticism. "What do you mean his body?"
"This should be good." Sylar deadpanned, watching both Petrelli brothers intensely through Matt's gaze. He had once wished to only touch Peter...to caress those soft, chocolate locks...but now the only brother he craved was Nathan...and for an entirely different purpose. Because that wasn't Nathan, it was Sylar's body...and I don't understand. Who was that body I saw? What is Matt Parkman saying? Who am I really?
"Nathan...you're...you're dead." And Matt's voice was clear-cut and dry. There was no mistaking his words now. "Sylar...murdered you."
So many distorted images floated around in his mind's eye...at one moment Sylar's viewpoint is a flurry of his own thoughts...prowling near Nathan's body like a cat eager to pounce on a mouse...the next moment he is watching Peter's face furrow with concern...and there is dread mixed with subtle understanding seeping into his being.
"He cut your throat." Matt continued to explain, with deliberate certainty.
Oh...the puzzle was taking shape...but its picture was a grotesque and frightening one. Peter...he needed Peter to tell him that it wasn't true...that he wasn't dead...murdered...but another part of him thirsted for only the truth now...
"I used my power to purge his mind from his...b-body." Matt bravely pushed on, the pain clearly painted across his features. "Put your thoughts in..."
Peter positioned himself protectively against Sylar's...Nathan's...body as if to shield his brother from the unwelcome words. Sylar had stalked towards Peter with unchecked passion...beautiful man...that's not your brother you're guarding so closely...it's my body and I want it back...then I can use it against you, if you so wish...and violently so. Sylar touched his neck in disbelief...he had been killed...no, no...Nathan...Nathan had touched his neck...
"You're weakening, Parkman." Sylar gloated, and he could feel it...it was throbbing continuously in his heart now...or Nathan's heart...he wasn't sure.
"I'm not gonna let you do this." Matt insisted, straining against his handcuffs as he continued to breathe hard. The possibility of what was about to happen...Sylar, the monster, the devil unleashed upon the Earth once more...seemed to be taking a toll on him.
"I don't have time for all the five stages of grief." Sylar stated, simply. It was time to take control of Parkman...he could've done it all along, he had just been waiting for the ripest moment to pick. "Let's go right from denial to acceptance."
Nathan was talking to Peter. Peter was giving him that familiar look that Peter always got when he desperately wanted for his older brother to listen to him.
"You heard him, Pete. You heard what he said." Nathan whispered, his hand still gingerly touching his throat. He wasn't really Nathan...he was Sylar...and maybe the last bloody pieces of that jigsaw were starting to round into place.
"I don't believe it, Nathan." Peter replied, those hazel eyes shining with such fervent determination. His little brother Peter...or his enemy, Peter. But no, no...he cared more for Peter than he had cared for anyone else in the whole world...and whether that was Nathan's or Sylar's memory, Gabriel was no longer certain.
Matt's sudden cries and thrashing broke the intent concentration between the two brothers. They turned to face the third man; surprised and disconcerted to find him struggling and grunting in what seemed to be an exhaustive fight.
"Nathan..." The voice had called out to Nathan.
"Nathan..." He had murmured towards his body.
"It's true."It had been simultaneously heard and spoken, and whenever Gabriel tried to sift through these memories he found he was unable to discern between the senses.
Nathan raised his hand and walked towards the bed in child-like curiosity. There was some choking, demanding, all-encompassing force of nature urging him forward now. It was all so scary...but so right...and so impossible to say no to.
"I'm so sorry." Again, the words were coming from everywhere at once...he was hearing them...he was speaking them...they were reverberating off of the very walls.
"You're saying I'm Sylar?" Nathan had murmured...but something else was stirring in all of Nathan's memories, clawing to find its way out of its protective shell.
Innocent Gabriel...fresh, new, reborn Gabriel...he just wanted to know how things worked. He didn't want to kill, he didn't want to maim, he didn't want to destroy. He just wanted...to know...why.
"Yes." Sylar whispered, softly...oh, god...his body...his body...a soul needed a body. "But I can make it all right...all you have to do is take my hand." He lifted Parkman's eyes as innocently as possible, his hand outstretching for his other half to take it.
Oh, and now the images were so wrought with intensely provocative metaphors. Nathan...Gabriel...the innocent lamb, the untouched virgin to the world. All of Sylar's memories...corrupted; insane, twisted with dark desires...he was the hungry wolf that was ready to bite down into the pure little lamb.
And Peter...he was forever the beautiful guardian angel...he was prepared to protect all from the temptation of the devil's snare.
Body and soul stared each other in the eye...neither moving...neither taking their gaze away...all was still and calm before the brewing of the tempest.
"All you need to do is take my hand." Sylar urged on.
Take my hand and be whole again. Take my hand and be well again.
Yes, yes. To take his hand will be to finally make everything right. But not in the way Pete wants it to be...no...in the way it needs to be. In the way it should've always been.
Matt was crying out once more...everywhere, confusingly and deafeningly from all angles...but body and soul were in such a trance that none of Matt's words reached them.
"It all makes sense, Pete." Nathan...Gabriel...Sylar...all three breathed out at once, realization dawning on him from every point of tangled memory.
"Get away from him." Peter demanded, darkly; reaching out his hand in worry as unease began to paint those sharp features.
Peter...you can't save a dead man. Hush. Hush those lips and don't speak. I don't want to hear from you anymore...ever again.
"It all adds up...these powers aren't mine." Nathan whispered, and the puzzle had cemented in his mind's eye. "It's Sylar's. I don't exist." And he knew what had happened...he knew how it all worked now. Knowing never brought happiness...but it brought understanding.
And that had been nothing he had stolen. That ability had always been his. Since a child he had read books from cover to cover...he had cut up his stuffed rabbit with a pair of sewing scissors to see what made it feel so soft when he hugged it...he had taken clocks and watches apart...and he opened skulls and discovered secrets of the brain. His body hadn't been robbed of that...his genetic coding still craved...and still knew.
If Gabriel was remembering everything correctly...and sometimes it seemed as if he couldn't possibly have been seeing it all the way it had actually happened, so much of it spread out in strange, confusing scenarios...he had seen his body standing in the very center, between Peter and his soul, like mortal man in the Garden of Eden. He had seen good stand beside him in one direction...sweet, sweet Peter...and evil on the other...Sylar's damned, broken soul.
And he had to decide which hand to take.
Sylar remembered Peter looking right at him...those piercing, hazel eyes never disappointing in their intensity...before turning back around to face Nathan again...his brother...but really him...
"Doesn't make sense." Peter stated defiantly, reaching out to grab Nathan's elbow. "I don't buy that."
I know I make you angry, Peter. But this isn't about us anymore.
"Take my hand, Nathan."
Please, take my hand...TAKE MY HAND!
Peter kept pulling him away...but he couldn't take his eyes off of Parkman. God, it was all so infuriating...Peter needed to stop...needed to let him go...
"TAKE MY HAND NOW."
Take his hand...take his hand...that felt more right than what Peter was urging him to do...Peter was taking him away...but that wasn't right. No...he had finally found his magnetic polar opposite and it cried out for them to connect.
"DO IT...TAKE MY HAND."
And the last thing that he could remember...the last thing that was burned into his memory for an eternity it seemed...was the moment Peter had pressed him away...had pressed him away so that he wasn't facing Sylar anymore. Then Peter had stuck his finger in Sylar's face...in my face...and shouted in uncontained anger, "I'll kill you first!"
But Peter was getting in the way...too many voices in every head...Matt screaming in Sylar's head...Peter shouting in Nathan's head...and Sylar's body had taken to throwing Peter against the wall...because it seemed that Gabriel had inherently been an impatient child...and Peter was delaying his gratification...and so Peter was dutifully sent away.
"NATHAN, NO!" Matt cried out, but his words were even now broken and very far away sounding...the pulsating pounding of hot blood billowing with increasing tandem was the only thing resounding in both soul and body now.
"It's okay, Pete. Matt's right." Nathan said, serenely...his arm still outstretched towards his fallen brother. "It's time to end it."
"One touch, Nathan, and it's over." Sylar promised, his desperation growing...his hunger for reunification almost unbearably ferocious now.
He wanted to touch him so badly.
He wanted to be touched so badly.
Nothing else mattered...not Peter...not Parkman...not anything. Only that hand mattered...only that hand brushing against his own mattered...
"You, back away from the prisoner!" And just then a prison guard had burst into the room, intent on pulling Nathan away from Parkman's hand.
"Take my hand, do it now." Sylar murmured, trying to temper the growing frustration with gentle persuasion.
"I said get away..." The guard insisted, grabbing Nathan by the arm.
"GET AWAY!" Matt roared in Sylar's head.
And in one, powerful, precise moment...Sylar remembered seeing Nathan spin around...he remembered seeing Nathan's hand drift painfully near his own...he remembered feeling the light yet overwhelmingly satisfying sensation of Nathan's hand brushing against him...and in that moment a surge jolted through both body and soul.
They had joined once more. But as Sylar had rushed into Nathan...and Nathan had rushed into Sylar...so many memories...so many different, conflicting versions of events rushing before his mind's eye...both Nathan and Sylar were lost to a raging battle of wills.
He had thrown the guard away using telekinesis. Everything felt lost...and wrong...and confused...as he struggled to remember where he was and...and who he truly was.
"NO!" Matt yelled in utter frustration. "Nathan, where is he? Nathan, where is he?"
Nathan...Sylar...Gabriel...it all rushed together as he glanced around at his surroundings, at a complete loss. He hadn't a clue as to how he had even gotten here...or why it was so loud and upsetting in this room, or why Matt continued to shout incoherently at him...
And then he saw it...the thing that made his blood run cold. Peter...
Peter was lying on the floor, dazed and slipping in and out of consciousness. God, someone had hurt Peter...god; he had hurt Peter, hadn't he?
"Pete..." He whispered, rushing over to the young man and helping him to stand. Seeing Peter injured had seemed to draw Nathan's memories to the forefront once more...because Nathan was Peter's protector, after all and Sylar...well, Sylar had always hurt Peter...hadn't he?
"C'mere...we gotta get out of here." Nathan continued, as he helped carry Peter over his shoulder. The younger Petrelli merely gave a small grunt in reply.
But it was Sylar who strode to the window...so focused, so calculating...it was Sylar who threw open the window with merely the swish of his fingertips.
"No, Nathan!" Matt shouted, still bound and helpless to his hospital bed.
And it was Nathan and Sylar...it was the two of them together that turned back to look Matt in the eye. Both knew that Matt understood exactly what was happening...that Nathan truly was dead. That Sylar truly was lost, drowning in a sea of unfamiliar emotions and memories...but that eventually he would sift through it all and be his same, twisted self once more. And that Peter was brotherless...that Peter...the only man on Earth that could've forgiven Sylar for his sins would now only hate him forever.
"Is he in you?" Matt demanded, in a last ditch effort to struggle against his cuffs. "Son of a bitch, is he IN YOU?"
Gabriel could barely differentiate memories any longer. Sylar...Nathan...so many of them intermixed these days. But he was certain of one thing. It was both of them that turned to look at the wall that Peter had been thrown into.
Both realizing that Nathan was truly gone...and that no one could protect Peter anymore. The thought was chilling to both in strange ways.
Looking back on it, Gabriel realized something too...something that was all the more painful and heartbreaking. He realized that his innate actions that day had been all too revealing. When angry and lost, he would throw Peter into a wall. Nathan had been right...no one was left to protect Peter anymore.
Because Gabriel would only continue to hurt him.
Gabriel hated feeling this way. He hated the sick torment that had settled coldly in his stomach. He hated the heated, unbearable anger that was pressing...burning...against his chest. He hated feeling as if the situation was spiraling out of his control. He hated feeling small and scared. And she had always made him feel all of those things.
It's just what mothers did, he supposed.
Oh, Angela Petrelli. She was just as much of a monster as he was. She had manipulated and lied to her family. She had used people as nothing more than mere instruments in her sick, twisted games. She had never thought twice about playing God.
And now she was determined to take Peter away from him.
Gabriel knew he shouldn't have gone to her with such rage pounding in his veins. He should've given himself some time to calm down. But Jennifer's betrayal and Angela's manipulations and Peter's absence all seemed to cause a twisting fire to smolder hotly in Gabriel's core. He couldn't help himself now, couldn't help but take action...to take control of his own destiny. Because he was a good person now...and Peter loved him...and he defied anyone to change those facts. Peter had told him...Peter had said that Gabriel could choose his own path from now on, regardless of the past. And that's exactly what he was going to do.
Gabriel quickened his pace, the nighttime streets made darker by the gathering storm clouds overhead. It had rained earlier, but the storm's threat didn't seem to have entirely passed. It was as if the weather was now mirroring his mood...dark and tumultuous; his breathing hot and heavy as his shoes sloshed through the chilling puddles that had gathered on grimy sidewalks. He ignored the ice water that seeped into his socks. He was already cold all over.
He hardly had a plan for what he would say to Angela once he was actually face to face with her. He just knew that she needed to listen. Oh, today she was going to hear him speak and finally understand.
He had always known that she would be back. She wouldn't let him have Peter. He ignored the irritating voice in his head that asked himself whether he deserved to have Peter. After what he had done to Peter...after he had hurt Peter.
Gabriel shook his head resolutely, turning down the street that he knew Angela's apartment would be on. He had seen her address tucked away into Peter's things before. He told himself that it was his love for Peter that pushed him on now...not his hate for Angela, not his anger at what she had done to him in the past, not his surmounting regrets that continued to haunt him. No, this was in defense of what he and Peter had built together.
Gabriel was surprised to notice that he had already arrived at Angela's apartment complex. He hesitated, realizing he hadn't thought of a means to get in. And not just into the building. Had he expected that Angela would open the door to him? Her eldest son's murderer?
After all, he would always be Nathan's murderer. No amount of repentance could ever change that fact. Peter knew it and deep down, so did Gabriel.
Gabriel pursed his lips tightly together in frustration. He could easily enter the apartment complex through the use of his powers. He outstretched his arm, his eyes concentrating on the lock. He hesitated for a moment as he felt his pulse throb in the wrist he was about to flick to open the doors. Peter stressed that the powers were a gift...but only if they were used for good. Gabriel often followed Peter's lead as to when the use of a power was right or not. But Peter wasn't here...and Gabriel had so acutely felt the hunger again today, throbbing against his senses like the continuous perverse wave of want that it was. It was dangerous to give into using his powers now, after he had brushed up against his addiction so powerfully today.
But that's why it was so important that Gabriel make things right with Peter. Because without Peter, Gabriel was weak...and hungry...and really hadn't changed very much at all. He was still that lonely, angry young man that cursed at the world. He was still filled with a hot rage that begged to be taken out on everyone else; because it hurt too much to focus it on the one person it was truly intended for: himself.
His eyes narrowed with intensity as he gave a small flick of his wrist. The lock to the building slid open and Gabriel silently walked through the double doors.
Angela had moved out of the lavish Petrelli mansion and had taken to a much smaller and simpler apartment. Peter had mentioned that after his father's and then Nathan's death, the mansion seemed much too large and empty for her to stay in. It was also filled with unpleasant memories...and more than a few unwelcome ghosts of the past.
Gabriel sighed, hating this feeling too. Breaking into someone's house...slinking into the complex with inhuman stealth and subtly. He had done this before...when he had still been a monster. But he wasn't a monster anymore; he kept reassuring himself...trying to make things right between himself, Peter, and Angela was a sure sign of that.
Are you really trying to make things right? Or is that anger you've carried around with you for so long finally ready to erupt? You want to make Angela pay for what she's done to you. You want to see her gone so that Peter will only have you left in his life.
No more father.
No more brother.
Just a mother.
Gabriel gritted his teeth as he angrily tried to silence his overactive mind. He bounded up the stairs, passing a heavyset man without as much as a pause to step out of the man's way. He knew the man was glaring at him for his rudeness, but Gabriel found he didn't care. He could hear Angela's heartbeat now...it was slow and steady as if she were asleep. That would make it easier to enter. But it also made it all the more sinister feeling somehow...
Gabriel paused to catch his breath as he reached the top of the stairs, his eyes turning towards Angela's apartment door. He could feel his own heartbeat pick up in his chest...oh god, he hated her. He had forgotten how much he hated her. Peter had made him forget so many terrible things with his tender love, his soft kisses, his gentle caress. Now those things were gone and Gabriel began to remember everything else instead. He remembered hunger, and hatred, and seething anger, and being a lost, scared child that was ready to lash out at the world...
Releasing a low hiss, Gabriel clicked open the lock to Angela's apartment. He hesitantly pushed open the door, feeling a rush of adrenaline and nerves wash over his system. The apartment was eerily silent as he peeked into the dark shadows. Taking in a small breath, Gabriel stepped inside. God, what would Peter think? But this was all for Peter's sake, he had to remember. This was about making things right...
It was about making Angela go away. To leave them alone. To cut Peter off from the rest of the world so that it didn't matter if they loved each other in secret or not.
Gabriel blinked, his eyes adjusting to the darkness that enshrouded the room. There was a table with three chairs around it, as if Angela was still expecting both of her boys to come home for dinner someday. The apartment wasn't anything like Peter's was starting to look again...messy and slightly disorganized when it wasn't for Gabriel's help...no, instead it was pristine and very cleanly. There was not a dirty dish in the sink or a single item that appeared out of place. It reminded him of his own mother...his own childhood home.
He cautiously ventured in further, slightly certain that Angela was indeed asleep at the moment. Her heartbeat remained steady and restful. There was a buffet that was lined with pictures of her two sons. Her husband, Arthur, was nowhere amongst the memories, but that wasn't surprising in the least. It hadn't exactly ended well between them, Gabriel reasoned.
He wasn't supposed to be here...Angela's heart resounding louder now that he was nearer to the bedroom. This was wrong...he was an intruder in her home...the boogeyman, right?
No, no. This was all for Peter...for making things right for Peter. Peter had hurt for so long. Gabriel had broken so much in Peter's life; he needed to fix this one thing for the young man. These thoughts percolated in Gabriel's mind as he noticed a picture of Peter on Angela's buffet. He was a young boy, barely out of his toddler years. He looked so young and precious, boyish smile still quirked on his face with the expressiveness of youth. A mop-head of dark, brown curls cascaded down his chubby face.
Gabriel gave a small smile, as he reached out to gently touch the picture. He missed Peter so much. Oh, he wanted to hold Peter so badly right then.
He wondered what Peter was doing right now. The young man was probably getting ready for bed...he'd let Claire have his room as he camped out on the couch. Gabriel wandered towards the next picture of Peter as a young man. He wasn't smiling in this picture, but his eyes held that intent gentleness that never went away.
Peter would have changed into his sweatpants and white T-shirt by now. The shirt clung to his body in a wonderful manner; accentuating the lean strength in his chest and back. He would be lying on the couch, a hand pressed to his forehead, as dark hair fell into his sharp eyes.
The couch he and Gabriel had made love on before. Gabriel smiled faintly at the memory; Peter having been the one to take charge that night. Gabriel had been leaning against one of the arms of the couch, reading his newspaper diligently as Peter absentmindedly watched the nightly news report. Something seemed to have sparked playfulness in the young man, however, as he had soon fluidly crawled the length of the couch and had slid his form between Gabriel's long legs. Peter had begun teasing Gabriel dreadfully: soft, full lips pressing into the side of Gabriel's face, his ear, neck, clavicle, chest...soon Gabriel could hardly breathe, Peter's hands having found Gabriel's belt as he began quickly working it off of the taller man. Gabriel had tried to get some of his own kisses and touches in, but Peter was quickly taking his presence of mind away. Instead, Gabriel found that it was much more pleasant to simply allow Peter to have his way that night: he found himself gasping and biting into the couch's pillow as Peter moved sensuously over him from behind; the feel of Peter's lean, tight form gliding against him again and again as his strong arms trembled on either side of Gabriel's shuddering frame.
Gabriel drew his hand away from the picture of Peter and pressed it against his lips. God, he missed Peter. He couldn't waste any more time...he had to talk to Angela.
And what would he tell her? What was he planning on accomplishing this dark, rainy night? What if something went wrong...what if something very bad happened...like it had when he had went to visit his mother years ago...
Gabriel paused, his ears perking up slightly. The heartbeat...Angela's heartbeat...it had spiked sharply. She had awoken from her sleep...perhaps she had dreamed of him coming. Gabriel turned his back towards the buffet as a cold, numbing feeling seeped into him. It was as if he were outside in the storm...the rain pouring down steadily now...as he felt quite drenched from head to foot as he stood, frozen in awkward anticipation for Angela to find him.
What would he say to her? He had murdered her son...and Peter said she would never forgive him for that. Nothing he could say, nothing he could do could change the fact that Nathan was dead because of him. But he could convince her to stay away...to stay away forever...that both her sons were gone from her now and she only had herself to blame.
Her footsteps quickened as she rounded the corner. Gabriel steeled himself...some of his anger seeping out of him as he realized how frightened she would soon be to see him. He was feeling something else now much more acutely...fear. Angela scared him still. She was a mother after all...he almost wished that she was his mother...and she was capable of anything in the name of defending Peter.
But so was he.
She was beautiful, just like he remembered. Her long raven hair had been let out for nighttime and it cascaded down her slim shoulders in waves. She was wearing a long, yet simple nightdress that swept down her form and stopped at the floor. A dark, purple shawl was wrapped around her for warmth. Her eyes were sharp and piercing like Peter's...but not nearly so gentle and tender. But they still held so many of the beautiful color's that his eyes held...and right now they were a glowering, dark green and a biting, fierce gold.
"My god." She hissed, her hands rising up to press into the base of her throat...the imagery was chilling. "Sylar."
His bravado, his certainty, his burning rage was dissipating. Gabriel sucked in a deep breath; his insides trembling readily as he felt his whole body take a nervous step backwards. He felt himself bump lightly into the buffet, the pictures rattling in response.
"Angela." He replied, his voice grasping for calmness but only coming out low and strained. He tried to keep his own gaze focused on hers, but he was faltering. Her eyes were so much sharper than Peter's...and colder.
"What are you doing here?" Angela demanded, an icy harshness seeping into her tone. She was frightened, but she was holding her ground with fervent determination...Peter was more like his mother than Gabriel had ever realized. "Where's Peter?"
"He's home." Gabriel breathed out, thankful to be able to put some of her worries at ease. "He...he doesn't know that I'm here."
"I dreamt you would come to me." Angela responded, her lips pressing together tightly. Her eyes flashed towards the door, as if trying to determine how he had gotten into the apartment. Her gaze turned back to burn into him; a dark and ferocious hatred was present and clawing to get out of her. "Something had happened to Peter."
Peter. At the mention of the young man's name, Gabriel felt some of his fire stoked once more. She was trying to take Peter away from him.
"Are you sure that it was all a dream?" Gabriel pressed, stonily as he took a cautious step towards her. He could feel her disgust for him roiling off of her in waves. "Because a little bird told me that you were actually spying on us."
"Jennifer told you." Angela deduced, succinctly. Her eyes darted towards the kitchen, and Gabriel knew that she was looking for some sort of weapon to use against him.
"This doesn't have to get violent." Gabriel retorted...the flames licking against his heaving chest once more. "This isn't about what happened between you and me anymore, Angela. This is about Peter."
"I'd be very careful saying my son's name right now." Angela hissed, her eyes narrowing as Gabriel continued to slowly stalk towards her.
"He made me a good person." Gabriel murmured, his voice becoming like ice as he turned to circle around her. Her eyes followed him everywhere...and he could feel every ounce of the hatred that she was stabbing into his skin. It was taking all her strength not to come at him right now with merely fists. But she had to listen...he would make her listen tonight. "He showed me how to be a hero. Which is lucky for you, considering what I've found out you've been up to."
Gabriel paused, a sick want to punish her flitting across his mind. He pressed his lips closer to her ear. "You're up to your old tricks again, aren't you?"
"Get away from me." Angela seethed, her composure flickering away for only a moment. But her mask was as well practiced as his and tonight it would be a battle of wills. Their well-practiced masks were the one thing that Peter had never understood even though the two people he loved the most had mastered them. "I want you to leave me and Peter alone. Forever."
"I would love to leave you alone." Gabriel conceded, pulling back in his proximity. "Believe me, nothing would make me happier. But I'm afraid I'm not going to leave Peter alone. You see, things have changed quite a bit since you last tried to tear my life apart."
"Nothing has changed." Angela spat, her body posture still strong and steady. "You're still just a scared little boy trapped in a man's body."
"I've changed more than you'll ever know!" Gabriel snapped, bitingly. And the words were said to convince himself just as much as they were to convince her. "I've changed for the good. I'm never gonna hurt anyone ever again...and I'm..." Gabriel closed his eyes as an onslaught of emotions threatened to tear through him once more. He had to say it. He had come here in part to say it. "I'm sorry that I took Nathan away from you..."
He hadn't expected her to slap him across the face. But he should've, after all of the punches he had received from saying those exact same words to Peter. Peter was more like his mother than Gabriel had ever realized.
Gabriel brought a hand up to lightly touch where his cheek burned crimson from where she had struck him. He glared at her accusingly.
"Don't say his name." Angela mouthed, her eyes now dark and glassy even as her tears refused to fall. "You don't say his name at all tonight."
Gabriel nodded, slowly. "I'm sorry."
"Why are you here?" Angela demanded, pulling her shawl tighter around her shoulders. "And what happened to Peter? I know that there was a fight."
Gabriel felt his mouth grow dry as he tried fruitlessly to wet his parched lips. "Peter is fine." Gabriel placed a hand against his heart, urging Angela to understand the most important thing that he was trying to convey by reaching out to her tonight. "But there's something you need to know. That you need to realize."
Angela narrowed her eyes, her breathing growing shallow as she watched him closely.
Gabriel felt his courage falter, but he knew he had to press on. In order to make things right for Peter. He sucked in a deep breath, his eyes averting towards the floor. "Your son. I love...love him. I love Peter. And he...he loves me. He lovesme and..."
"Peter doesn't love you." Angela hissed, her voice drained of emotion once more. She had cut him off so suddenly and with such disregard for his words, that Gabriel almost felt as if he had been slapped again. "He's just very confused right now. You will never see him again and he will get better."
Her words beat upon his soul. Peter doesn't love you.
No. No, Gabriel had too many memories proving the contrary. Those memories...past, present, it didn't matter...those were all real. And they spoke of love, even someone as broken and messed up like Gabriel could recognize that.
"No, you're wrong." Gabriel intoned, as he raised his palm upward as if seeking the forgiveness he knew she would never grant him. "I know I hurt you and your family. But I'm different now. Your son showed me how to be a good person."
"You're a monster." Angela hissed, a small mirthless smirk escaping her. "A monster. And you will never lay a hand on any of my children again."
"Peter forgave me. He forgave me for everything even though I know I don't deserve it." Gabriel replied, a ferventness grabbing a hold of him. She had to believe he had changed. Peter couldn't be the only one who saw the change in him...Gabriel was a good person now. That had to be apparent...it had to be painfully clear that he had changed, didn't it?
"I don't believe that any more than you do." Angela whispered, her eyes as dark as coal as she was the one to now take a purposeful step forward. "I know my son. He loved and adored his brother. And he doesn't have the capacity to forgive you for what you've taken away from him. And you know that too. You know that he will forever hate you even if he tries to convince you and himself otherwise..."
"NO, LISTEN!" Gabriel raged, grabbing her by the wrists and forcefully yanking her forward. Angela was practically jerked off of her feet, her head snapping back as she found herself inches from Gabriel's contorted face; his hot breath splaying across her stony features. "No, no...you need to listen to me now."
"Peter hates you for what you did to this family." Angela reiterated, ignoring his plea as her wrists trembled helplessly in his strong grasp. "I know my son."
"Well, you obviously don't know him quite as well as you think." Gabriel snapped, his voice laden with sarcasm as he drew her body flesh against his own. She was shaking now...she was terrified. He was glad...she had said such awful, awful things just then. She deserved this. "I mean, for one thing...he lies. Did you know that? Although he probably learned from the best..."
Angela pursed her lips together; the glassiness seeping into her unwavering gaze once more as she tried to control the trembling of her form.
"How many times did you call him to come over, Angela?" Gabriel pressed, throwing her away from him as he stalked back towards the buffet. "Let me know if any of these responses sound familiar. 'You can't come over today, Ma. I'm really busy.' Or maybe, 'I have to work a late shift tonight.' And of course, let's not forget, 'No, I'll come over to your place later.' Is that why you got Jennifer to help you? Were you starting to hear some of yourself in him whenever your sweet, honest little boy began lying to you with such ease?"
Gabriel turned to face her once more. She wasn't looking at him any longer, her gaze boring back into the kitchen. Still desperate to kill him, he was certain.
"He didn't want you over because I was there." Gabriel hissed, hoping that every revelation was hitting her as roughly and painfully as possible. He wanted her to feel out of control and helpless for once just like she had always made him feel. "I was staying with him almost every day."
Angela shut her eyes tightly as if to not see him would somehow be able block out his ruthless words. In an instant, however, they flashed open again. "He's sick, did you know that? Peter's not well and hasn't been for a while now. He suffers from manic depression. It gives you a false sense of grandeur. It makes him think he actually has the ability to save you." Angela's hands clenched into fists at her side as her shawl slipped from of her shoulders and fluttered silently to the floor. "And he thinkshe's in love with you but he's actually just suffering from a manic high. Now tell me...is that really what you want from him?"
Gabriel closed his eyes in annoyance as his ability to detect lies buzzed angrily against his consciousness. This was tiresome. Their interaction...it was as if they were forever stuck in the past together. She was lying and he was cruelly demanding and there was not a shred of truth or goodness to be found between them. This isn't what he wanted for tonight...he had changed, damn it!
"Please." Gabriel begged, his own fists coming down to grip onto his pant legs with waves of anxiety. "God, please...just stop lying to me!"
"Then what do you want from me?" Angela cried, and he saw a side of her he had never seen before. She had always been a stonewall of emotion. But that was before he had taken her baby from her. That was before he had ripped Nathan away. Now she was broken...she was just as broken as him...he had stolen all from her and laid her bare.
"I just want you to leave me and Peter alone." Gabriel responded, his eyes narrowing at her in determination.
"I don't want to hear you say my son's name anymore." Angela breathed out heavily, her jaw tightening as she spoke.
Oh, he had just as much of a right to say Peter's name as she did. Maybe even more of a right, considering that he had never lied to Peter. He had never manipulated Peter...
"Does Peter even realize what a monster his own mother truly is? When I tell him about Jennifer he's not going to want anything to do with you ever again." Gabriel seethed; bringing himself back around to Angela...circling her like a wolf circles its trapped prey once more. "How do you think he'll react to that fact that you manipulated a young girl to spy on him? A young girl with a power, I might add..." Gabriel paused, placing one heavy hand on her shoulder. "Now, did you warn her about me? Let her know that you sent her after someone that you think is an irredeemable monster? Something tells me not..."
Angela closed her eyes once more, and he knew his touch was causing her to falter again. "Do you want to know, Angela?" He hissed, darkly in her ear. "Do you want to know what I did to her once I found out?"
Angela remained silent, but he could see the worry painted clearly in her eyes. She was scared...she was scared that her soul had more than ever to answer for on judgment day now.
"Why don't you take a wild guess?" Gabriel seethed, taking his hand off of her once more. She slumped visibly. "What do you think I did to that poor, innocent girl?"
He was punishing her. Yes, he had changed but she would never see it. Peter was right, she was without mercy because she was just a coldhearted monster herself. If she was incapable of forgiveness, then he would be content with making her pay.
"Where's my son?" Angela murmured, her face growing weak and weary. "You hurt him, didn't you?"
Gabriel glanced away in shame. Yes, he had hurt Peter. But so had she, why couldn't she understand that? He had to stay strong...he had to focus on the real reason he had come here.
"I want you to leave me and Peter alone." Gabriel stated again pitifully, his hands taking to clutching at his sides as if to ground himself once more. He was certain he both sounded and looked pathetic. But she was doing no better. Peter was both of their weaknesses. "Please...just please leave us alone. We've all suffered enough, haven't we?"
"No." Angela murmured, eyeing him contemptuously. "Some of us haven't."
"You don't think I've suffered?" Gabriel demanded, the rage and torment churning within him once more...for himself, for himself...he always hated himself. "I have seen all of Peter's tears and pain. And I have to live with the fact that it's because of me that he's hurting and..." Gabriel trailed off, something heavy getting stuck in his throat. He swallowed heavily, unwilling to meet Angela's eyes. "And you're not God. You don't get to decide whose worthy of salvation and who isn't."
"You need to stay away from Peter." Angela warned, her features becoming tight and controlled once more. His own slight venture into hysteria seemed to have had the opposite effect on her. "Listen to yourself talk. You're hurting him. You don't want to hurt Peter anymore. Now do you, Gabriel?"
"No. No, I don't." Gabriel whispered, his eyes stuck on the ground. It was raining outside and another storm was brewing in his heart. All he could see...over and over again...was Peter slamming into that wall. He had hurt Peter...god, why did he keep hurting Peter?
"I believe you, Gabriel." Angela murmured, soothingly. He leapt, surprised when he felt soft hands lightly touch his back. She was comforting him...like a mother would. "I believe you when you say that you don't want to hurt Peter anymore. But don't you understand? Being with Peter is what's hurting him. You need to let Peter go. You need to let him move on and heal now. If you really love him, you're going to do the right thing."
"But he loves me. I just have to stop messing things up..." Gabriel shook his head, hopelessness rising up and threatening to drown him. Nothing was happening the way he had meant it to...wasn't he supposed to be showing her what a good person he was...how good he had been to her son...how someday she could come to love him like family again... "If I can make things right, Peter's gonna be so happy with me. I can do it...I know I can make him happy..."
"Gabriel, stop hurting Peter." Angela insisted, her hands continuing to comfortingly caress his back. Her hands were warm...he didn't want her to take them away. He had felt so lost and alone these past few days without Peter...he had been so desperate for connection again.
Gabriel pursed his lips together resolutely; hot tears stinging at the corner of his eyes. He wouldn't allow them to fall, though...not in front of Angela. "I know that I can make this right. I've...I've changed..."
"Then you can't be selfish anymore." Angela insisted, softly. "Let Peter go."
God, was that truly the only answer? But what about his memories...three years worth of those damn memories from hell...didn't those prove that destiny demanded that he and Peter be together? Or had it always been Gabriel desperately grabbing at straws in order to convince himself that he...the murderer, the villain, the messed up, twisted angry young man...somehow deserved something good and beautiful like Peter.
His beautiful Peter. Eyes like waves of amber and dark chocolate. Lips like scathing fire and soothing rainwater combined into one. Mercy that bathed Gabriel in sweet holy water daily.
"I love you." Peter had whispered in the hushed, safety of the night, his fingers threading through Gabriel's dark mane with a sweet tenderness.
"No." Gabriel hissed, pulling away from her touch as his dark, brown eyes flashed with wild intensity. "No, that's what you want. That isn't what Peter wants."
Angela scoffed, her arms crossing over her chest as a means of self-preservation. And Gabriel could see the look in her eyes now...she was disgusted that she had ever had to touch him. The comfort...calling him Gabriel...god, she had been manipulating him again...
"I've changed." Gabriel whispered, desperation seeping into every word he spoke. "Your son sees that, why can't you?"
Angela rounded on him, her eyes sharp and heated once more. Gone was the act of loving mother. "Because you remind me of a mouse that Peter tried to save as a boy. It was a sick, pathetic, and wretched little creature. Peter thought that he could nurse it back to health. But there was something so severely wrong with it that the only humane thing to do was to put it out of its misery. And that's exactly what you remind me of. A sick, disgusting little mouse that Peter's trying to save."
Gabriel stumbled backwards, his hands rubbing at the sides of his pants. Why couldn't she see that he had changed? He was a good person...he was a good person...
No, he was still just a lost, angry young man. It takes a long time to exorcise all of one's demons and Gabriel had more than a lifetimes worth. Angela's words had reawakened the volcanic burn within him that demanded a release, lest he set himself aflame from within.
"That's a cute story." Gabriel hissed, mocking her in order to shield himself from the realness of the pain. "You know, I've got a cute story too. It's almost like yours, only...did Peter spend more time with the sick mouse than with you? Because that's what happens in my story. And did Peter spend the night with the mouse, 'cuz that kinda happens in my story too..."
"You bastard..." Angela seethed; the emotionless expression on her face now made all the more dangerous by the small, mirthless smile quirking her lips.
Gabriel rushed a trembling hand through his mess of dark hair. That hadn't been the right thing to do. Peter wouldn't have wanted him to do that. God, everything was falling out from underneath him. Everything was wrong, wrong, wrong...
"Angela, I don't want to play this game with you." Gabriel insisted, reaching out to grab onto her arm...to grab onto something, because he could feel himself blowing away. "I don't want us to hurt each other anymore. I know you don't want to hear it, but you have to. I love Peter and nothing will change that. And I am sorry...I am so sorry for the pain that I've caused you by taking Nathan away from you..."
She had warned him not to say Nathan's name again and her reaction was instantaneous. It was as if she was the lightening that had lit up the stormy night skies just outside the windowsill. Because one minute, Gabriel had seen Angela standing before him in composed silence; her entire form stoic and unmoving. But the next minute, she had pulled a small knife out of the top of her nightshirt and had lunged towards his head.
She was roaring with rage and grief as she plunged the knife into his body again and again...searching for that one spot that would fell him for good...and he could feel the pain coming over him in continuous waves even as his body tried to rapidly heal each and every wound that she was gouging into him. Hot blood coursed into his mouth as he tasted and smelled his own death fast approaching him.
"Don't say his name!" She cried out, and this time she aimed to pierce the center of his forehead with her blade. "You killed my son, you bastard!"
Gabriel reached up to grab onto her arm...to still the knife from reaching its target...but as soon as he did so...as soon as he began wrestling to get the weapon out of her hand...he was plagued by dark and gut wrenching memories of himself and his own mother.
They were fighting over the sewing scissors...and somehow she had stumbled into him...or he had pulled her, it was so hard to remember all of the sickening details...and the scissors had found her heart...he had killed his own mother...
In the midst of their struggle, his eyes met hers briefly and he understood. She was bent on killing him tonight and that had been her plan all along. This had been about Nathan just as much as it had been about Peter. He had stolen one of her babies from her...he would die before she ever let him have the other one. Maybe she had always expected Jennifer to tell him the truth...maybe she had always expected Gabriel to come to her tonight. Maybe she had truly dreamt the whole thing and had fully manipulated this meeting into happening.
And both were struggling with more than the knife now. There was a lifetime's worth of regret and anger present in this battle as well as a need for some sort of self-redemption. More than that, they were fighting over their love for the same man. They were fighting over Peter, but there was a cruel irony present in that. Because whoever won tonight would almost certainly go on to lose him forever.