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Of light and shades (6/7)


Title: Of Light and Shades
Chapters: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5
Characters: Elizabeth Porter, Sylar, Megan Thomas, Kara Wycliffe, Meredith Kershaw (OC)
Disclaimer: Heroes is not mine. Elizabeth's character is, though.
Rating: R
Summary: This were bound to be different now. But how much different, Elizabeth would've never imagined.

Note: Megan Thomas doesn’t belong to me but to my good friend[info]dana_serenity. You want to know more about her, go check her LJ!


 

Chapter SIx
 

Elizabeth watched the view outside her window without really see anything. She blamed the apathy on her medications… That inhibitor clouded her mind, and in a way impaired her sight. She had always relied on her power to understand the world, the people… Like a blind girl would do with her stick, she probed everything and everyone with her empathy. Now she was alone in her head. She cherished the silence, but still she was feeling incomplete, like someone cut one of her arms out.

She chuckled, and went away from the window. What a stupid thought. She had asked for the inhibitor as soon as Kara mentioned she had used it till not long time before to keep her power – magnetokinesis – from getting out of control. She begged for it. Without someone to shield her from her powers the way Peter did (the Haitian was too important an asset to stay all the time in her room), everyone agreed it was the better solution until she would find a little peace of mind. Until she would realize that what she did wasn’t a mistake. Like she could wake up one day and turn off the guilt she was feeling…

She heard the door opening, and she jumped off the bed, adjusting her plain shirt and sweatpants.

“Well, Elizabeth, how are you doing?”

Kara was a gift from God. She seemed genuinely interested in her and in her situation, but unlike the others she didn’t want to push her recovery. Elizabeth didn’t develop a full depression, but she was still overwhelmed by guilt and pain. Kara remembered when she had found herself in a similar situation, when she was eighteen and she accidentally blanketed a few counties with an EMP. Different scenario, same state of mind.

And then there was a brown-haired girl that never entered her room. She just stayed outside the glass, and looked at her. Elizabeth couldn’t tell how she was feeling towards her. One day she looked angry, the other sad, but most of time it was like watching a Sphinx in the eyes. When Elizabeth told Kara about that girl, she replied saying that the girl’s name was Megan Thomas. That name immediately rang a bell in Elizabeth’s mind. Megan. The prom girl, as she labeled Megan many years before, when Gabriel told her about his horrible prom experience. The other girl in Gabriel’s life. His first love.

“She hates me, doesn’t she?”

“No. She knows Sylar had to be stopped. I think she’s just curious about you.”

“She wonders what Gabriel might have told me about her. The best friend and the former girlfriend… a guy’s worst nightmare, if the two became friends,” Elizabeth commented grimly. “Of course, the guy has to be conscious of what’s around him. It can’t work if he is in a permanent catatonic state.”

“Enough, Lizzie,” Kara said. “Stop torturing yourself. You defended yourself… it’s called self-preservation instinct, everyone has it.”

“I never thought I’d be able to hurt someone. This is not me.”

Kara put an hand on her shoulder. “Listen… It’s been two months. the doctors think it’s time for you to stop taking the inhibitor… to get your power back. So? What do you think?”

Elizabeth bit her lip. “I don’t know. Maybe. But if I don’t feel comfortable…”

“You go back taking the meds. Don’t worry.”

“Ok, then. I want to try.”

“Awesome. I’ll go telling the doctors, then.”

Kara left immediately. It was clear enough that she was happy she decided to go off the inhibitor… It had worked for her. Elizabeth hoped it would work for her too.

Three hours later, Elizabeth could clearly feel her empathy coming back. The other people’s emotions were still weak, just a sensation in the back of her head, but that was enough to make her smile. She had spent enough time in the darkness… enough time mourning her friend. It was time to go back to her life.

Suddenly a strong wave of coldness hit her without warning. It was completely different from the gentle feeling the dampened emotions gave her… she had never felt something similar in her life.

Then her eyes met Megan’s gaze from behind the glass, and Elizabeth understood.

The coldness. That was Megan. Her ability. The total absence of feelings… Elizabeth inadvertently smiled. They were the two sides of the same medal.

Megan entered the room and closed the door behind her.

“I heard you’re stopping taking the inhibitor.”

“People talk around here.”

“Do you know who I am?”

“Yes. I… sort of feared this moment.”

Megan frowned. Elizabeth had to give her that… her mimic of human emotions was good. She really looked confused, even if she didn’t feel that emotion inside her.

“Why?”

“Because of what I did. I know you and Gabriel…”

“Exactly. Gabriel and I had a past. Sylar was just a monster. You of all people should know this. He killed your fiancé in cold blood to steal his power.”

Elizabeth flinched, feeling the wound reopening. Megan noticed, and apologized.

“I’m sorry. I never know when to stop.”

“How can you…? I mean, the inhibitor…?”

“I’m not afraid of my ability.”

“Neither am I. But how can I concentrate on myself if my primary instinct is to listen to others?”

“Have you tried that with him?”

“Yes. He almost killed me in his shop. But I could feel it, Megan… Gabriel was still there! Mercy, love, kindness… all those feelings that always defined him were there! Like a candle in the darkness. I couldn’t harm him… I was sure he couldn’t harm me either.”

“Then the light extinguished itself and you found the courage?”

“Sort of. He wasn’t Gabriel anymore.”

“Then why are you here? It’s what Bishop and the others don’t understand. You probably saved thousands of people with your Jedi mind trick.”

“Maybe you’re used to torture or to see people killed, but I surely am not. I took away the soul from another human being. If he’s a monster, so am I.”

“Are you planning to do that again? Are you planning to do that to innocent people as soon as you walk out of this place?”

“No!”

“Then you’re not a monster. You’re just… human.”

Elizabeth sighed and sat on the bed. “So, what now? I’m not so naïve to think you people are going to let me go like nothing happened, so I’d like to hear what’s the Company has in store for me.”

Megan folded her arms in front of her. “Nothing you wouldn’t want to do already. An empathic psychologist could be really useful around here. And after what you’ve done for them, they’re willing to give you everything you want to keep you inside the Company.”

“It sound like a good offer. Then why do I have the impression I would sell my soul to the Devil If I said yes?”

Megan looked at Elizabeth with a curious expression, but Bishop entered the room before she could speak.

“I heard the good news, miss Porter. When you’re ready I’d love to have a word with you… in private,” he said, eyeing Megan.

“Certainly, Mr. Bishop.”

“Please… call me Bob,” said with a smile. He left soon after and Megan gave Elizabeth a warning look.

“Be careful with him. He’s…”

“Shady, morally gray, ambiguous, not trustworthy and without a conscience? Come on, Megan, give me a little credit,” she said with a small smile. “I’m good at studying people, too.”

Megan gave her a little smile as well, and exited the room. Elizabeth followed her figure walking down the corridor, then she combed her hair and took a deep breath, ready to face the head of the Company. But at least she wouldn’t have to fly blind.

Elizabeth felt her smile vanish moments before she approached Bishop’s door. The empathy was gone, again! It was like she was once again on her pills. Confused, she opened the door. Inside the office there was Bishop, plus a young Haitian man. Right, the Haitian. Bishop wanted to talk with her without her analyzing every feeling, or using her power as a lie detector. Smart move, she had to give him that.

“Please, miss Porter, sit down. And please, don’t mind my colleague, you can talk freely in front of him.”

Elizabeth sighed deeply, and did as she was told. She politely refused the drinks Bob offered her and she asked, feigning ignorance, why he wanted to speak with her.

“I was told you’re a psychologist in training. An empathic psychologist is definitely an asset for every man smart enough to recognize it. Have you already thought of your career opportunities?”

“I… no, actually, I didn’t. I’m still busy with my classes, and with all that happened I’ve fallen behind with my schedule…”

“Everything has been taken care of, Elizabeth. You can give your missed exams again, at a time and place of your choosing. You won’t lose the year.”

“Well… thanks. Really.”

“About your career… your gift might be very useful here. Your ability to recognize when someone lies, other than understand the inner turmoil a person can experience… you’re a godsend. I hope you will join us after your degree.”

“I don’t know what to say… thanks, Mr. Bish… I mean, Bob. I’ll definitely keep your offer in mind.”

“I’m sure you will.”

“Bob… are there any news on Sylar’s condition?”

“His condition is stable. He won’t harm anyone ever again.”

Elizabeth slightly nodded. Her friend was already lost when she attacked Sylar. She killed the monster, not Gabriel… she had to keep that in mind. It was what everyone expected her to do, anyway.

Going back to her life, though, was more difficult than she anticipated. Peter now knew of her ties with the Company, and he didn’t like it, no matter how much Elizabeth tried to convince him that they just helped her without using her as a guinea pig. She wasn’t calling her only surviving best friend a liar, but… but there were things she didn’t understand of that place. There were people like Bob and that psycho girl, Elle… but also people like Kara and Aaron, so caring and willing to help. Why couldn’t she be like them?

Of course, for that to happen, Bob didn’t have to run the Company anymore. Elizabeth didn’t trust him one bit. That was why she couldn’t believe her ears when Kara showed up at her doorstep a few days after telling her that Bob Bishop was dead and a friend of Kara’s, Meredith Kershaw, was filling the position until a new head was found. Elizabeth couldn’t understand why a British girl could step in and take the reins of that place like nothing happened. Wasn’t there a chain of command? But according to Kara, Meredith’s father was very rich, very well-connected, and decided to try and take over the Company. Another war between the original founders… Elizabeth wasn’t interested at all in their fights. But she wanted to know how Bishop died.

“He died in his office. Carbonized. If Elle didn’t have a real strong alibi…”

Incertitude. Afraid to tell something important. Something personal?

“Do you have something to do with that alibi?”

“We were having dinner together at my place. Then we had a Meg Ryan marathon all night long. Who would’ve thought she loves romantic comedies so much…”

“Funny. Sounds like something I would do with my sister.”

Embarrassment.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing! I just forgot how perceptive you are… ”

Elizabeth frowned. Something she said just caused that reaction. And the only possible thing was…

“You’re so kidding me.”

“I’m afraid not.”

“She’s your sister?!?”

“Yes, I know, no one would believe it.”

“Including me! Why… Your name is Wycliffe! How did you…?”

“Come out nice and mentally stable? I love to think it was thanks to my adoptive father.”

“Adoptive father?”

“Long story.”

“The gist of it?”

“My father experimented on us. One of the doctors couldn’t stand it. He tried to get both of us away from him, but he managed only to save me. There’s more to this, but I really don’t like to talk about it. I run a place called Level Three near Hartsdale… I teach children how to use their abilities.”

It wasn’t a lie but it wasn’t the truth either.

“And other things, if I’m not mistaken.”

“Yes,” Kara said with a smile. “But it’s classified. Sorry. Besides… Most of the time I wish I didn’t know all that stuff.”

Elizabeth couldn’t blame her. “I know the feeling. But… Bob? How are you coping?”

“I never considered him my father. Just my boss. Elle on the other hand… she’s my sister. She needs me. And I think we’ll both need you… If you feel like taking two patients before your graduation.”

“Listen… your sister might need to see someone more qualified. And less afraid of being electrocuted if she gets angry.”

“Strange as it sounds… Elle’s a sweet girl. Bob was so focused on her power to forget her and her needs. And I need to know what’s going on inside of her. Otherwise I can’t help my sister.”

Elizabeth bit her lip. “Come tonight… we can have dinner together and see if she wants to talk to me.”

Kara hugged her. “Awesome! Thanks!”

Elizabeth was sure Kara wasn’t sad for her biological father one bit. Elle, on the other hand, grew up with him. He had been her only source of affection and love, and her grief for his loss was mixed up with the anger for what he had done to her. She was like a little girl… like the trauma of losing her big sister and of what Bob did to her prevented Elle from properly growing up. But Kara was very good with stubborn kids with great powers… Elizabeth was sure Elle would be no exception.

Listening to Kara and Elle and their messed-up family history helped Elizabeth not to think of what happened. In addition to that, Julie, her sister, had been more than happy to dump their bitchy mother and her horrible work at Marge’s Diner to come to the Big Apple and live with her sister, but when Elizabeth went to sleep at night and she was alone with her thoughts, she couldn’t help but think of Gabriel and Sylar. In Elizabeth’s head, they were two distinct entities, but one couldn’t exist without the other, and vice versa. And now neither of them existed, thanks to her. She killed the monster, but she couldn’t stop thinking that she sentenced an innocent to oblivion at the same time. She was happy shady Bob wasn’t in the equation anymore. Now that Meredith, with her father’s money, changed the chain of command and put herself permanently in charge of the Company (much to Angela Petrelli’s chagrin), things were bound to be different. But how much different, Elizabeth would’ve never imagined.

A couple of weeks later, in the middle of the night, Elizabeth received a phone call from Meredith. The young woman didn’t say anything, but she wanted Elizabeth to go in a Company facility just outside New York.

“Meredith, I don’t understand. What’s going on?”

“There’s a choice you have to make. I really can’t do it in your place.”

“Great. Can you be more cryptic?”

“Sorry about that. Get your things, Liz, I’ll stop by your house in thirty minutes.”

Meredith refused to tell her anything until they arrived to that medical facility, and even once they were there Elizabeth didn’t understand. If she had to see a patient, why wouldn’t Meredith just say so?

“Listen to me carefully, cause what I’m going to tell you it’s very… Well, I’m not sure myself of how to describe it. A few weeks after Sylar attacked you… Bob ordered his death.”

“What? He was completely helpless!”

“Not exactly. Whatever you did to him, it was starting to wear off. He was going back to his old self… and Bob didn’t want that to happen. He gave order to inject him with the Shanti virus… do you know what it is?”

“I read all the medical documentation you sent me when you offered me to work for you.”

“Still waiting an answer on that one, darling.”

“Keep waiting. So he’s dead? Gabriel… is dead?”

“Judge for yourself,” Meredith said, and opened a door.

Elizabeth didn’t even need to watch the dying man in the bed on front of her to know it was Gabriel. She walked to the bottom of his bed, and clenched the metal footboard so hard her knuckles went white. Anything, not to start crying.

“He fought the virus for as long as he could, but there’s no cure for this. I thought you might want to say goodbye, before it’s too late.”

“Is he… is he aware of…?”

“Completely. I’ll be outside, if you need me,” said Meredith, and after touching Elizabeth slightly on her shoulder, she left the room. Elizabeth kept her eyes closed, and listened to his ragged breath. How much time did he have left? Meredith was convinced he was going to die that night…

“Lizzie.”

It was just a whisper, but Elizabeth heard it anyway. Her eyes snapped open, and she found herself staring at Gabriel. She moved and sat on his bed, taking his hand in hers.

“Hi.”

“How…?”

“My soon-to-be new boss actually has a soul. I’m sorry for what I did to you…” said Elizabeth, starting to sob.

“I’m the one that has to ask for forgiveness, not you.”

Elizabeth blinked a couple of times, trying to hold back the tears, “Then we call it a draw. What do you say?”

“You don’t hate me… after all that I’ve done to you.”

“You hurt me more than everyone else, and took away from me the things I cared most in the world. But I look at you now, and all I can see is my friend.”

“I wish you wouldn’t have left. Things would’ve been… different.”

“We would’ve figured out this thing together?”

“You would’ve kept me from killing people. You were my anchor, Lizzie…”

“As you were mine. Gabriel, I…”

The sound of the heart monitor shifted into a single flat tone.

Gabriel, I wish you could have a second chance. I know you would get things right this time…

Elizabeth lowered her head and started to cry. In an instant, Meredith was next to her hugging her shoulders with her arm, attempting to console her.

“Elizabeth, we did the best we could to save him. I’m sorry, but…”

Meredith never got to end her phrase. The distinct sound of a steady heartbeat interrupted her, and left her speechless. Both women turned and looked at the man on the bed. He was unequivocally breathing. Elizabeth brought a hand on her chest, unable to believe what she was seeing; Meredith, after regaining a little composure, ran out of the room and yelled for some doctor to come there.

Elizabeth slowly sat on a chair against the wall and watched the doctors rush inside the room and start checking Gabriel’s life signs, while Meredith explained what had just happened.

Elizabeth was speechless. Gabriel died in front of her, and then came back to life. How was that even possible? And she wasn’t the only one wondering that. It took the doctors all the night and part of the following morning, but in the end they came out with a theory.

Sylar’s DNA, according to them, assimilated too many abilities and changed its structure. The virus, then, attacking the mutated genetic code, it produced an unexpected reaction: he didn’t kill the host, but erased every trace of the assimilated abilities from his DNA… and everything he ever learned in his life as collateral damage.

“What do you mean? He lost his memory?”

“Miss Porter, he lost everything. It’s like…”

“Like what?” asked Meredith.

“Like he’s a newborn. We theorize he could learn to speak and walk again, His brain doesn’t show any sign of damage, after all, but his memories are gone forever. That’s it. He’s a blank slate.”

“A blank slate that we have to hide,” said Meredith, earning a surprised look from Elizabeth.

“What do you mean? I thought you were…”

“I’m in charge but I don’t fool myself into thinking I’ll sit on that chair for much longer. And… and he’s not a threat. Not anymore. Everyone deserves a second chance. Even Sylar.”

“You’re wrong.”

“What?”

“Sylar doesn’t deserve a second chance.”

Elizabeth got up from the chair and walked to the bed where her friend was laying. She took his hand and squeeze it gently.

“But Gabriel does.”

And I swear to God, she promised, I’ll do everything I can to give you your life back.