Title: Gabriel's Decision
Characters: Gabriel, Maya, and Alejandro
Rating: PG-13, adult themes (no sex, no overt gore)
Spoilers: Up to 2.04 "The Kindness of Strangers"
Word Count: 2,650
Author's Notes: This story came to me after watching Heroes' 2.04, the Kindness of Strangers. Due to how it's coming out, I'll be AU as the season progresses, but hey, that's how fanfic works. I see a little something and I springboard off it it.
Summary: Gabriel makes an unusual decision in the face of the kindness of strangers.
He wasn’t enraged, that impotent anger had burned itself out over three days struggling through jungle and plain and desert. His powers he had so painstakingly acquired were gone, the watch had been smashed, and his first attempt at taking had failed. Anger was no longer useful. He could no longer move things with his mind, freeze things or melt them, could no longer generate radiation, remember well, or hear things from miles away. Anger had given way to despair by the time he had collapsed on the road.
Frustration had even ruled his dreams. He had broken into Michelle’s skull to see exactly how her powers worked, but he hadn’t been able to make the right connections within his own mind. Maybe his own powers had been at fault. He could have truly lost everything in the stabbing and subsequent surgeries. Four months of laying in a near-coma had stripped him of most of his reserves; he was lucky to be alive and he knew that.
He didn’t have to like it though.
He had suffered the fools who had picked him up, even though he had needed them desperately, as he had suffered the heat and the thirst, right up until the girl pulled out Suresh’s book. Hope flared again for the first time in a week. That book was like a siren, leading him right to power again. Gabriel Gray had been powerless, useless, stuck in a life of no meaning. But it seemed Gabriel’s luck was turning. Sylar had risen very high, very fast, and maybe that was his undoing. Pride, hubris, like Icarus soaring towards the sun, his wings had melted and he had plunged into the cold ocean below.
Gabriel’s life hadn’t been special; it had been horribly mundane. And Sylar’s life had burned the candle at both ends. There must be a middle road, a way between the power he wanted and the danger he faced, a way to take powers from the unworthy without falling prey to the overconfidence that had undone him. A length of steel and the distraction of that emo twin of his had nearly taken him out, and that had been insufferable.
His second night after he had killed Michelle had been spent huddling in the lee of a rock, fitfully sleeping on a bed of stones. And for the first time in months he realized how terribly quiet his mind was. He had changed his mind in over a dozen different ways, a little each time he acquired a new power. And why not? He was much better at using them than any of their original owners; it was an evolutionary imperative for him to improve himself. He had Ted’s power figured out in a few hours; Peter had nearly blown up New York because he had no control. If that man ever practiced with his abilities, Gabriel would have been very surprised.
But now, with no powers, no one and nothing to go to, he found the silence very odd. It wasn’t the tense silence of knowing he somehow had to become great and couldn’t figure out how. It wasn’t the silence in between words when his mother was trying to push him into a life he wasn’t sure he wanted. And it wasn’t the hungry silence of searching for his next power, his next evolution. It was just quiet, accepting silence. No buzzing in his ears, no ache to lash out, no need to acquire, just the silence of being the only living human within fifty miles.
He was free, after all, free as a bird. Tied to nothing, risking nothing… Well, that was how it had played in the cool twilight. In the morning he was still hungry, thirsty, and his chest ached like a demon. But he felt a curious lightness, an emptiness as well. He had been given a clean slate, of a sort, even if it wasn’t in the way he would have wanted. Now all that remained was what he saw fit to do with it.
Maya and Alejandro had inadvertently proved themselves to be far better traveling companions than the bumbling, fearful Derek. He had seen the newspaper and promptly had a panic attack. Gabriel had nearly smiled before he remembered that homicide was generally frowned upon by most of the population, and had managed to put on a façade of concern. He could practically see Derek’s mind working, and swiftly came up with a plan of his own.
The grateful Maya and her suspicious brother were probably many things, but they definitely didn’t fit the description of cold-blooded murders. It took one to know one, and these two didn’t fit the bill. But it did bind them together in a way that mundane little Derek simply wouldn’t understand. Twin-bond or no, the spilled blood on all of their hands gave them another reason to stick together. They hadn’t shown him anything yet, but the presence of Suresh’s book boded very well indeed.
Two seconds and a chunk of brick had taken care of Derek, so there would be no further pesky pursuit. But the headlines on the newspaper… that had done something entirely unexpected when he confronted the twins. Maya gasped and panicked in a way that made him think they had been on the run for far longer than he. Then her eyes went black, and horrible pain and pressure erupted behind his own. His vision dimmed, and even as he weakly asked for an explanation, Alejandro took Maya’s hands, took Maya’s power, taking it into himself, drawing away the blackness and pain.
I was right, he thought without much surprise, his mind analyzing the twins minutely. And in that moment he knew at least one of his powers hadn’t abandoned him. It was hard to tell detail from the outside, that’s why he had to open the skulls, but he didn’t need every single detail to tell him what he needed to know.
She, she was the poison, the disease, and he was the cure. She couldn’t stop what she had started, and he had no ability to fight, only to absorb. But I could. Twin powers, the flip side of a single coin, one twin giving, and the other taking. One power in two bodies. He would be able to control it, far better than Maya could, far better-.
He stopped that thought even as his analysis drew to a conclusion. Yes, one power in two bodies, but what if that one power was in one body? Could he use them both? Or would they cancel each other out? Would he have two corpses and nothing to show for it? Would it even be able to work while he was still recovering? He had wasted Michelle’s power by trying to take it before he was ready. Weakness and pain still stalked him; he still woke up a lot in the night from fever and bad dreams. If he collapsed and died of his wounds after surviving so much, he’d be very put out with himself.
Besides, when he had told them he was still interested in helping them, that he believed them that the murders had been an accident, that he didn’t hate or fear them for their powers, the trust and surprise in their eyes had been very endearing. Mostly in a vague, puppy-dog kind of way, idly amusing at best, but endearing nevertheless. They trusted him. Him! Even the suspicious Alejandro had softened a bit, particularly when he produced the keys and had gotten them out of there.
That had given him a surge of energy that had got him through at least another two hours of driving. Then everything had returned in force. The weakness and fever had claimed him as the last of his energy had run out, and Alejandro had been forced to drive when he nearly nodded off at the wheel. Maya carefully laid him out in the back seat, his head in her lap, trying to cool his brow with water.
He had been too far-gone to care too much, only being able to lie there and accept her clumsy ministrations. This weakness was intolerable, particularly if he wanted to see the expression on Suresh’s face when he showed up on his doorstep.
Maybe he was farther gone than he realized.
His vision faded to black, and by the time he resurfaced into consciousness, darkness had fallen. He found himself still laid out in the back seat, but the car was stopped, and soft Spanish conversation was going on above his head. Gingerly propping himself up, he found the twins sitting quietly in the back, whispering to each other.
“Gabriel, you’re awake!” Maya said with a tremulous smile. “It’s ok, we haven’t seen anyone following. We hid the car, Alejandro has to sleep.”
She seems chipper, he thought ungraciously. Or perhaps she was simply in denial; religious people were good at that. His mind skittered over a bad memory, and he had to catch his breath when his chest muscles tried to clench.
“Fine, I’d rather not crash when we’re so close. I promised I’d get you to New York,” he said softly, hissing a little as pushed himself upright, feeling the stitches tighten painfully.
“Thank you, thank you so much for helping us,” Maya said, covering one hand with his own. “So many people… we didn’t mean to, but it happened. They say we are cursed, devils, demons…”
“You’re not my son! You’re evil, possessed! What have you done with my son?” His mother’s voice echoed across his mind, and he swallowed hard. He had been telling the truth when he said he understood them, but this cut far too close to the bone. Empathy was not his strong suit.
“I just want to help,” he said after a minute. “It’s not your fault.”
“I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt you either. It happens when I’m upset and…. I don’t understand it very well. How… how do you know about these things? From the book?” she asked. Alejandro looked at her quizzically, and she quickly translated for him, turning her attention back to Gabriel. Maya’s brother had his hand on her shoulder, but was slumped against the window, barely able to keep his eyes open. He wasn’t about to leave his sister alone with Gabriel, even if he had to prop his eyelids open with toothpicks.
“I have power too,” Gabriel said slowly, reluctantly. I had power. I had more power than almost anyone else. I was going to be perfect, and then it was taken from me-. He quickly calmed himself. It was thinking like that that had gotten him into this mess in the first place.
“What can you do?” Maya asked a little fearfully.
“I know how things work. I can see when something’s wrong, and then I know just how to fix it,” he said, hiding the bitterness that he could only say that. I used to have telekinesis, cryokinesis, enhanced memory and hearing, liquefaction, precognition, induced radioactivity, and so much more. I could melt this car and crack open your skulls. I could level this entire county. I used to be so special…
“Even people?” Maya asked urgently.
I’ve had this conversation before, Gabriel thought suddenly. It was an intense feeling of déjà vu.
“Yeah, even people,” he confirmed.
“Can you tell what’s wrong with me, with us? Could you fix it?”
“Nothing’s wrong with you. You have power; you have a gift. You’re both evolving, just like Suresh’s book says. Nothing’s wrong with either of you,” he said forcefully, ignoring the pain in his gut as he sat upright to make his point. His hands suddenly itched for something heavy and hard.
“Can you fix it?” Brian asked, fear in his voice as he looked at the coffee mug he had mentally shoved across the table.
“I can fix it Brian,” Gabriel said, his hand closing upon the smooth planes of a quartz crystal cluster. “It’s an evolutionary imperative.”
A single hard blow to crack the skull, and then…
He jerked himself out of his memory, hissing a little with pain, waving Maya away when she leaned forward with concern.
“You don’t need to be fixed,” he said more calmly. Maya looked helplessly at Alejandro, and Gabriel throttled down irritation. It had been so easy to take most of those powers, because their previous owners hadn’t even wanted them. These two would have been so very easy indeed. Easy, of course, if having both powers himself wouldn’t cancel them out. He wouldn’t be able to tell without a closer examination. Easy, if he didn’t need them to make sure he didn’t fall into a coma and die.
“But could you?” Maya persisted. Gabriel closed his eyes.
“It’s an evolutionary imperative.”
I still need them. And their powers together are useless, and alone… Maya’s ability to make disease would make him powerful again, able to do something to defend himself. And he could use is far more effectively than she could. But… Alejandro has always been around to stop her before it got too far. I could easily see it getting out of control, of multiplying around the globe. It could make the original Andromeda strain. And that wouldn’t help anything. He really had no need to kill random people. He only wanted power and he didn’t want to be caught. Mass murder held no interest to him.
And Alejandro’s power alone would be fine, if he were interested in absorbing the diseases of others around him. Or he could find himself shackled to Maya for the rest of his life, unless he killed her too. Neither particularly appealed. He wanted to be special; he didn’t want to be tied down or forced to kill one of the special ones for no reason.
He opened his eyes again.
“Not without killing you,” he said, and Maya began to cry. Gabriel sucked in a breath, waiting to feel that God-awful pain behind his eyes, as Alejandro quickly grabbed her hands, whispering to her in Spanish, stopping it before it even began. Even then, there was a very long tense moment before Alejandro sat back again, nodding in understanding as Maya translated what Gabriel had said.
“I’m sorry,” Gabriel added, surprising himself, and Maya shook her head.
“No, I am sorry. Please, forgive me,” she pleaded.
Forgive me father, for I have sinned.
“I shouldn’t have upset you. I…” he paused, debating between the work this was going to cause and the possibility of dying of some lethal disease before they even hit Texas. “I know how it works. I can see how your powers work. I could… teach you a little-.”
He suddenly had the breath squeezed out of him as Maya threw herself at him and hugged his neck so hard he was in danger of blacking out.
“Thank you, thank you Gabriel. I knew God placed you in our path for a reason,” she cried, sounding so relieved even the suspicious Alejandro looked a shade less wary.
“Yeah, it’s ok, it, Maya, my chest,” he protested, and she let him go quickly as he tried to get his breath back.
“In the morning?” she asked hopefully, and Gabriel nodded absently, trying to breathe slowly so the pain wouldn’t be so bad. She bestowed another bright smile on him, and then curled up next to her brother, falling asleep so quickly she looked like a little child. Alejandro dropped into unconsciousness right after her, no longer able to keep his eyes open now that Maya was no longer talking.
Gabriel followed right after, lying down on the backseat and dropping into a dreamless sleep. Only one thought crossed his mind before blackness claimed him.
I can't believe I'm doing this...