Characters/Pairing: Gabriel, Luke
Rating: PG-13 for language (repeated use of the f-bomb)
Spoilers: Specifically 1x10 “Six Months Ago.” General S3 knowledge of Luke Campbell.
Disclaimer: Heroes belongs to Tim Kring, NBC et al.
A/N: Written for speccygeekgrrl’s birthday, a sequel to Special - an AU where Gabriel Gray and Luke Campbell grew up a few doors down from each other, and are BFFs.
Summary: Two friends try to work out how special each is going to be.
“He called you again,” Luke accused, slinging his backpack behind the counter. “You’ve been all broody and emo all day.”
Gabriel tried to repress a guilty flush and failed as he straightened up behind his workbench. “How did you-?”
“Dude, you have your tools arranged in some kind of fucking floral pattern. And I could practically feel the emo vibes all the way over at school. Were you listening to some whiney chick with a guitar music all day too?” Luke said, pulling out a notebook, a pen, and a novel from English class.
Gabriel took in a breath as if to protest, and just let it all out again, words unspoken. Luke knew him too well to bother to lie to him. Chandra Suresh had called again, asking Gabriel to participate in some testing, so that Suresh’s theory on special abilities could be proven. He’d been asking for months, periodic calls ever since he’d walked into Gabriel’s shop, handed him a book, and told him he was special.
The book was long ashes, and Gabriel had caller ID, but he hadn’t stopped listening to the messages, even if he hadn’t talked to Suresh since the first time.
“No music,” Gabriel admitted, tacitly telling Luke he was right.
Luke stared down at the book in his lap, and decisively put it on the counter.
“You think anyone else is gonna come in today?” Luke asked, standing up.
Gabriel looked around the quiet shop and shook his head. He lacked a half-hour until closing time, locking up early wouldn’t hurt anything.
“Get your toolbox, we’re going to work,” Luke said, packing his things up in his backpack.
“When’s that book report due?” Gabriel asked pointedly.
Luke scowled and sat back down. “Ok. Fine. Gimme an hour. Then we’re going to work.”
“I swear if I ever see that guy, I’m going to scorch that beard right off his face,” Luke muttered, handing Gabriel the half-inch wrench.
“Screwdriver next. Well, it’s his life’s work,” Gabriel said, his voice echoing oddly from behind the water heater. “I feel kind of sorry for him…”
“Screw him! I fucking heard those messages you saved,” Luke said, slapping the screwdriver into Gabriel’s open hand with far more force than necessary.
The clanking sounds of Gabriel trying to bring the water heater back to life stopped suddenly. “When did you hear them?”
“When you went to take a dump. That guy’s pathetic, and he’s fucking trying to use you, man. How many brush-offs do you have to give him before he gets the damn message? I thought we had a deal.”
Gabriel paused for another long moment, one hand on the wrench, the other on the screwdriver. They did have a deal; a deal to not let everyone else dictate what they could and could not do with their life. Gabriel didn’t have to be the President, Luke didn’t have to end up dead in a gutter of a drug overdose by the time he was eighteen. That was why they “worked.” The apartment buildings around Gabriel’s shop no longer suffered from slow plumbing, leaky faucets, inadequate hot water, or unsafe electrical sockets, thanks to both of them.
Gabriel had an intuition for fixing things that was positively supernatural. People started to learn that they could drop a note in Gabriel’s mailbox about whatever was broken, and a few afternoons later, he and Luke would show up, and the problem would be mysteriously solved. No one called the cops on Luke just for existing anymore, and people actually started to notice Gabriel from time to time. Having a pair of competent, resident handymen was beyond price in this neighborhood. That made Luke and Gabriel just as special as they wanted to be.
The only thing messing up what had become a comfortable, happy friendship was Chandra Suresh.
“I haven’t contacted him,” Gabriel temporized.
“Blah, blah, you’ve been listening to your mom again,” Luke retorted.
Gabriel didn’t answer as he tightened the leaky pipe with one hand, and with the other, gave the pipe an instinctually light tap. There was a gurgle, then a shudder, and finally the pipe started running without leaking. Now all he had to do was reopen the gas line and get the thing lit.
“She… thinks she wants the best for me.”
“Gimme that wrench.”
“Because I’m going to crack you over the skull with it,” Luke deadpanned.
Chagrinned, Gabriel opened the cover to the pilot light and let Luke get down there.
“Sometimes I just think I should be doing more than just this,” Gabriel said carefully. “Not ‘special,’ just… better. Fix something bigger, more complicated. I just don’t feel like I’m doing enough.”
Luke grunted in the, “I think you’re batshit insane, but keep talking and maybe you’ll convince me otherwise,” way as he crawled on the floor, bracing one hand on Gabriel’s foot as he fumbled for matches with the other.
“I haven’t talk to Dr. Suresh. I haven’t. But I think he’s on to something. I’ve repaired watches around the shop that have been there since I took over, ones that no one was able to fix for years, and once day I just could do it. And this-,” Gabriel tapped the water heater. “I couldn’t fix those three months ago. Or leaky faucets, or bad wiring. But now I just know. That’s not normal.”
“If you fucking say ‘special’ again, I’m setting your shoes on fire,” Luke warned. “Ok, crank the gas, slow.”
Gabriel turned the valve slowly, and watched Luke try to light the matches one-handed, a feat of dexterity that even Gabriel’s clever hands couldn’t duplicate.
“Damn cheap shit!” Luke swore. “They won’t light, turn it-.” There was a tiny, muffled explosion below as the gas suddenly ignited, and Gabriel leapt back as a burst of searing heat scorched his foot. Except his foot hadn’t been anywhere near the pilot light. The only thing it had been near was Luke’s hand.
Luke pulled himself away, eyebrows slightly singed, and looked at his hands with more resignation than surprise.
Gabriel put the pieces together in a hurry. “You want to talk to Suresh,” he said positively.
“Fuck my life,” Luke said fervently.
Gabriel shook his foot for a moment to get it to stop hurting, and then sat down on the floor next to Luke, putting a companionable arm around him.
“When did you know?” Gabriel asked, the tension and fear he’d been holding inside of himself for weeks suddenly gone when Luke had accidentally burned him.
“Few weeks ago. Matches kept going off before I’d even struck them, shit kept burning and melting when I got pissed off…”
“The usual,” Gabriel said dryly.
“Yeah, all that shit,” Luke agreed with forced casualness. He was quiet for another minute, and then exploded with, “I’m a freak.”
The water heater grumbled contentedly in the corner, working perfectly now, and Gabriel pointed at it and raised his eyebrow at Luke.
“We’re freaks, then,” Gabriel corrected.
“Never happened when I was around you. Never got mad enough… Gabriel, what’s going on? What the hell is happening?” Luke asked, the perfectly reasonable fear of being sixteen and a living, breathing anomaly coming to the forefront.
Gabriel took his arm away and looked at Luke more closely. Being asked seemed to remind him that there was a problem here, possibly something that he could fix. He didn’t know how his ability worked, only that it did, and trying to actually concentrate on something instead of just letting it passively flow made it work better.
“Show me,” Gabriel said, and watched, fascinated, as Luke screwed his eyes shut and turned over one palm, shimmering heat waves dancing above his dully glowing red palm. He stopped with a gasp, beads of sweat on his face, and looked at Gabriel with smothered panic in his eyes.
“It doesn’t hurt? Wear you out?”
“No, doesn’t hurt. Makes me kind of tired if I do it a lot, but that’s it.”
“You’ll be fine,” Gabriel said, feeling unusually certain. “It’s normal for you. This is normal for us. We’re fine.”
It wasn’t much of anything to go on, but Luke looked immensely relieved.
“Dude, I thought you’d want us to go to Suresh’s together,” he said, letting out a breath of relief.
“Why would I…?” Hadn’t Luke spent all afternoon all but burning Dr. Suresh in effigy?
“Proof, man. I’m proof. I mean, your mojo takes knowing you to realize you’re like Mr. Wizard plus Tim the Tool Man on steroids, but this, what I’ve got, you can’t say I’m fucking faking that. Then that Suresh dude realizes you can do fucking anything and he proves his damn theory and probably publishes some really popular book and takes you on TV and people will know you can fix the whole damn world and here I’ll be just some punk ass kid who burns shit and why the hell would you even want to remember me…” Luke took a second to breathe, and Gabriel almost forgot how to as the possibilities danced in his mind.
He could be lauded, appreciated, his talents put to use the world over, setting to rights everything that was wrong. Gabriel Gray could indeed be one of the most important people in the world, even more important than the President. World leaders would listen to him, disasters would be forestalled, all because his friend Luke had been willing to help him gain the attention of the one person who could help lift him out of this small, limited life.
“You could come with me,” Gabriel said, eyes dazzled from looking at the lights of the future.
“And do what? I can’t fix anything that you didn’t teach me how,” Luke said, starting to hunch into a ball. “No one can do what you can.”
Now Gabriel started to squirm, his sense now telling him that something was broken, badly.
No one can do what you can. No one. Fixing the world meant doing it alone, without anyone along to call him on his bullshit, to remind him to get his head out of his ass, to tell him that it was ok to listen to rock music once in awhile. It meant being surrounded by the broken people and things of the world every day. There would be no comfort unless he did it himself. No one could help him.
“Anyone who’s that desperate to meet me and overlook you isn’t a very good scientist,” Gabriel said, putting his arm back around Luke, but still feeling a vague pit in his stomach.
“He’s got tunnel vision. Shitty use of the scientific method,” Luke added, relaxing a bit.
“And being that persistent is a sign of desperation.”
“Needy isn’t cool. He can’t hack it, and you’re too cool for him,” Luke finished, a smile coming back to his face.
“We’re far too normal for him to bother with,” Gabriel said loftily, his unease vanishing when Luke had started bantering with him again. Nothing was broken, now.
“Yeah. Fuck testing!” Luke laughed. Then he got an oddly pensive look on his face. “I bet you could get through engineering school in like two years. Then you could tackle some really big shit. No more water heaters. No more getting antsy and thinking you need some bearded hack to validate you.”
“You’d be in college then. Who’d I get to help me?” Gabriel asked.
“Fuck you! I can get into a fucking engineering program if I want to. You can loan me your books, and then get me job,” Luke declared, looking positively fierce.
“Got it all planned out?” Gabriel asked. Luke just nodded, smirking, and pushed himself upright, holding out his hand to help Gabriel up. Gabriel didn’t hesitate to clasp Luke’s palm as he got himself standing, and packed his toolbox. Brushing themselves off, they left the building, just two normal guys going home after a hard day’s work.
Looking behind him, at an apartment that wasn’t going to run out of hot water anytime soon, Gabriel reminded himself to have Luke erase Dr. Suresh’s messages when they got back to the shop. They’d already decided they were going to be just as special as they wanted to be.