Characters: Sylar (moar like Gabriel here, I guess), Virginia Gray
Timeline: A year before episode 1x10, "Six Months Ago". So... one year and six months ago? :D
Warnings: Rly bad parenting? Snow-globe fetishism?
Disclaimer: I'm neither NBC nor Tim Kring.
Summary: The pain behind his ribs is the knowledge of his own failure; no more than he deserves.
Word count: 547
Author's notes: Written for sacred_20. This is sooo going to be jossed when 3x08 airs. :(
X-posted to: sacred_20, heroes_fic, heroes_sylar
"Gabriel," she says, and turns away from the window, the lights and the noise that can't get in here. "Gabriel," she says, her eyes all tremulous with the weight of her disappointment. And Gabriel, he runs his tongue along the dry arc of his mouth and finds no words hiding there, so he keeps silent. In the space where his protestations should be, there is nothing like quiet. He can hear the leaky tap in the kitchen, a maddening uneven staccato. He can hear the rhythm of his own breath, and the television chattering blithely behind him. Down in the street, a car's horn honks, somebody shouts: but Gabriel is suspended far above all that, in this room he knows as intimately as the web of lines clasped within his palm.
"You could do great things," she says. Taken at face value, this is not an accusation.
And she walks towards him, her steps so hesitant that he's surprised she doesn't go backwards. Her hand when she rests it on the crook of his arm is warm. Through the skin of her fingers, Gabriel can feel hard knots of bone. The poisonous taste on his tongue is shame: and in that moment he believes it will be enough to pull him under. In that moment, he believes she is holding him upright.
She says, "I expected you to be more than this," and it's the past tense that makes his cheeks burn. Because that's what he had expected, too. He hadn't realized, until now, that he had given up.
It is only for the briefest moment that he wants to shake her hand off, that his anger is for her as well as for himself. I expected you to be more than this, but what is she? Bitter and unremarkable, resigned; standing hunched before him in her faded housecoat. Collecting snow globes of places she would never think of visiting. Gabriel bites his tongue, bites back his words. His mother gazes up at him, lips peeling back from teeth, and it is unclear whether she's smiling or cringing.
"You could be more, Gabriel," she breathes, quelling his anger. The words are so familiar: they are almost a comfort, now. "I know you could. You were always so special."
Gabriel shakes his head. The pain behind his ribs is the knowledge of his own failure; no more than he deserves. She's right. She loves him. She's only saying these things because she wants to help. All he can make himself say is, "I know." But there are things moving behind his eyes, half-understood, and he doesn't know yet how to shape them into words. They shift; they bloom and turn, all jagged edges. "I know," Gabriel says again, and his mother's smile widens without ever reaching her eyes. Her hand flits haltingly from his arm to his cheek, and then, as though in a gesture of blessing, his forehead.
"You'll do better," she tells him. "I know, Gabriel. I know you'll find your way." And here is benediction. Here is salvation. Gabriel closes his eyes, swallows the bitterness on his tongue. He will try harder, he will find a way. He will shed his own mediocrity like a skin he's outgrown. Somehow, someday soon, he will do better.