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Of light and shades (3/?)

Title: Of light and shades
Chapters: 1 | 2
Characters: Elizabeth Porter, Peter Petrelli, Gabriel Grey/Sylar
Disclaimer: Heroes is not mine. Elizabeth's character is, though.
Rating: R
Summary: Elizabeth meets Sylar...
Beta: dana_serenity 

Elizabeth awoke smelling fresh coffee. She yawned and rose from the couch. Peter was already up and drinking his coffee in the kitchen.
“Morning, Elizabeth. How did you sleep?”
Elizabeth sat at the table and poured herself a cup of coffee.
“Good, incredibly. The hard part is when I’m awake.”
“I guess being assaulted by emotions that aren’t your own doesn’t help.”
“Well, today I feel slightly better than yesterday; I can keep them under control. Like a radio when you lower the volume, so to speak.”
“Nice metaphor.”
“How can you bear it, Peter?”
Peter froze with the cup to his lips. He sighed, and put the cup back on the table. It didn’t take a genius to understand she was talking about Nathan and his death. It had been months, but yet he couldn’t accept it. He had been more than happy to leave New York for a couple of days, even to attend another funeral. Elizabeth needed him, but it was also true that he needed her as well.
“Sorry” Elizabeth said sheepishly. “I can’t help myself.”
“I have no idea, Liz. The pain never goes away. I feel…”
“Hollow, like you can’t feel happiness again; like there is a massive black hole inside your soul that sucks everything in.”
Peter looked at his friend in complete astonishment. Elizabeth shrugged and gave him another apologetic look. Peter smiled sadly.
“I couldn’t have put it better myself.”
“I hate this shade of pain. It’s like you can’t feel happiness anymore in your entire life.”
Elizabeth gave Peter a small smile “When you have to handle all these emotions, you learn to see the slight differences between them. Like the shades of a colour. I’ve always called them that.”
“If I’m not mistaken, this thing started when I was five. It just grew with me.”
“Sounds like a heavy burden to carry.”
“Right now, it is. But I know it won’t always be like this. The pain will… evolve, become something else. I’ll move on; I will be happy again, even if now I can’t believe it’ll eventually happen. And so will you.”
“It won’t be easy.”
“Never said it would be.”
“So… what are you planning to do now?”
“Find a job, go back to college… see my old friends. I put together the pieces of my life once before; I can do it again. I think.”
“Which friends?”
“Well, Grace, for starters. I heard she’s preparing The Swan Lake with her company, so she’s in town. Gabriel is here, too… I’m going to meet him this afternoon.”
“Be sure to slap him in the head for the way he treated you on the phone.”
“I’ll try and remember it.”
Peter left a few minutes later to go to his mother. Losing a son just months after her husband’s death took a heavy toll on her: she barely came out of her house anymore. Peter was her only contact with the outside world. Peter didn’t say a word, but given her power, he hoped Elizabeth could help his mother, as soon as she would feel better. Angela had refused any kind of therapy; only his friend could shed some light on what was really happening inside of her.
But in that moment Elizabeth’s biggest problem was finding the courage to enter the American Ballet facility again. She phoned Grace on her way there, so she knew she was rehearsing with the other dancers. But when she agreed to meet her there for a quick lunch, she didn’t imagine how many memories this simple action would bring back in her head.
“Elizabeth? Elizabeth Porter?”
The French accent was unmistakable. Elizabeth laughed softly and turned on her heels to greet Marie-Hélène Danton, one of the theatre choreographers.
“Hello, Marie. How are you?"
"Everything’s fine. What about you? You disappeared from the face of the planet!”
“Well, after what happened, disappearing from the face of the planet sounded really tempting; but no, I just went back home to Missouri.”
“And now you’re back here! Does that mean… well, is your knee…?”
“No. I can walk but that’s it.”
“This sucks. You were such a good dancer… I loved to make choreographies for you. You enhanced my work.”
“Stop it right now, or you’ll make me blush!”
And Elizabeth really meant it. She was used to be complimented on her dancing, but feeling Marie’s sincerity while she was telling her this was even better. She entered the building with her, chatting about shows and Elizabeth’s work as a dance teacher. Marie was sure she could try and apply for a job at the American Ballet school.
“You were a star, here. I’m sure everyone would be happy to have you back.”
Elizabeth was flooded by Marie’s positive feelings. She closed her eyes for an instant and took a deep breath, enjoying the moment. Elizabeth replied to the woman that she would think about it. She needed a job, after all, and teaching in her old school might give her the closure she was looking for.
And when Grace finished her rehearsal and joined her in the mess hall, she told Elizabeth the same thing.
“And the others would be so happy! We missed you.”
“And I’ve missed you.”
 “Liz, listen… I wanted to tell you again how sorry I am for what happened to you. Do the police have a trail to follow?”
“Nothing. According to the FBI…”
“The FBI?”
Elizabeth nodded. “They are investigating other murders like Rafe’s. According to them it is the work of a serial killer named Sylar.”
“A serial killer? Oh my God… if you had gone home just a little earlier…”
“Maybe Rafe would be still alive.”
“Or maybe you would’ve been both killed. God, fate… pick the reason you like the most, but I really think everyone has a destiny to fulfil before dying. And clearly yours wasn’t to die that day.”
“Maybe I have to save the world” said Elizabeth ironically, thinking of Peter’s words at the funeral.
“Well, if that happens, give me a call. I’ll take some pretty pictures” Grace said, laughing. Her smile disappeared when Anya entered the mess hall.
Grace narrowed her eyes, and Elizabeth felt hate and resentment coming from her friend.
Certain things never changed.
“So… Anya is still here.”
“Well, the bitch is sleeping with the artistic director. She won’t go anywhere anytime soon. But not even she will take away my role in The Swan Lake. Oh no. I worked too hard to get my role, she won’t take it away from me.”
“You have something she lacks. You are determined and strong-willed. And everyone can see your talent. Don’t worry, no one will steal your part.”
Grace took Elizabeth’s hand. “You always know what to say to make people feel better. How in the hell do you manage to do that?”
“A magician never reveals his secrets” said Elizabeth with a smile. “By the way, tell me when the show premieres; I’ll be there.”
“Honey, I can do better than that. What about first-row seats for you and whoever you want to bring?”
“You’re a star.”
“And you better graduate, because if my life will get any crazier I’ll need your professional help. Got it?”
Elizabeth smiled and nodded. She promised Grace to apply for a part-time job as soon as she would settle down, and then she let her go back to the practice room.
Elizabeth looked at her watch and decided to go. She still had time before her meeting with Gabriel, but she wanted to be sure to arrive on time, just to avoid his jokes on her lateness being written in her DNA.
Gabriel was still cleaning his long-forgotten shop when Elizabeth showed up. For a moment he panicked. He was nothing like Gabriel Gray. The hair, the clothes, they were all wrong. He thought that, with Elizabeth always being late, he would have more time to get things done… Apparently, she got more punctual in the last two years.
“I’m so sorry for the mess…”
“I’m here for you. Who cares about the mess?” said Elizabeth smiling. He found himself smiling back at her. He let the broom go, and he hugged his friend. He was going to tell her the truth – that he had really missed her – when he felt that oh so familiar sound in the back of his head.
Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock… He couldn’t be wrong, he heard it too many times not to recognize it. He smirked. Elizabeth was like him…
Elizabeth let him go and smiled again.
“You have no idea of how much I missed you. I thought often of taking a plane and coming for a visit… but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Until now.”
Sylar put his hands on her shoulders and told her how sorry he was for her loss.
“I’m sorry I didn’t show up, but with this new job of mine… I barely have time for myself. “
“I know. Well, remember what you always told me when I danced: breathe every now and then!”
“Listen… why don’t we get upstairs, in my apartment? We could have a cup of tea and talk without being interrupted.”
“Sounds nice.”
Sylar grinned. Perfect. Absolutely perfect. He led the way up the stairs, thinking of how it would kill two birds with one stone. A brand new power… and the knowledge that from that moment on, she would always be with him, like they were when she lived in New York years earlier…
Elizabeth stopped dead on the stairs. What were those feelings coming from Gabriel? They were… Elizabeth realized she didn’t know how to classify them. She could recognize excitement, maybe joy, but the rest… the closest feeling she could associate with them was lust. But Gabriel never considered her that way... And there was something else beside that peculiar shade of lust, something dark and intoxicating…
“Lizzie? Is something wrong?”
Good question. Was there something wrong?
“No. I’m fine. Just tired… I’m always tired, lately.”
She smiled with the absolute certitude Gabriel would buy her lie. She didn’t like to lie to her friends, but she discovered that she was very good when she did it.
“Ok, then. Good, here we are… ladies first” said Sylar, after opening the door. He watched Elizabeth walking inside his house, and stopping near the window. She always did that. Sylar walked in the kitchen, and filled the kettle. Then he looked for a couple of mugs. And a big knife.
“So, Lizzie… what are your plans?”
“I’m going back to my Psychology classes. I suppose I don’t have much of a choice.”
Elizabeth didn’t reply. Sylar went to look what Elizabeth was doing and he found her looking at Chandra Suresh’s book. Elizabeth then looked at him with a strange expression in her eyes.
“You read it?”
“I gave it a look. You?”
“Yes, me too… Oh God, I didn’t plan things to go like this… well, here goes nothing.”
Elizabeth opened the book at the Empathy chapter and gave it to her friend.
Sylar looked at the book, shocked. Of all the people… of all the people that he could kill to acquire their powers, Elizabeth was gifted with the one he craved the most. But he had to be patient. Elizabeth was a friend, after all. He owed her that. And a quick and painless death.
He smiled at her, and found the chapter dedicated to his original power.
“I lied. I didn’t give it just a quick look” he said, giving her the book back.
Elizabeth looked at the book, and then looked at him.
“You have a gift, too? And when did you discover it? Come on, I’m curious!”
“I think I always knew it. I just didn’t call it with its name.”
“I know. It’s always been there. Your ability, my empathy… they’re gifts from God. That’s why I’m studying Psychology. I can help people. But what I wish now is to understand what I am feeling…”
“Sit down, Liz… I’m going to check the kettle in the kitchen. If I may ask… what exactly happened to your boyfriend?”
“You really don’t know? It was on the news. And in the newspapers.”
“I was busy.”
“He was murdered.”
“God… Do the police already have a name?” said Sylar, taking the mugs and walking out of the kitchen.
“Yes. Sylar.”
Sylar froze in shock. The mugs shattered on the floor.
The evolved human… Dr. Jordan… was Lizzie’s boyfriend? Did he kill Elizabeth’s boyfriend?
“Gabriel? Is everything OK?”
“Yes… Of course it is” answered Sylar from the kitchen. “I’m just my usual clumsy self.”
“Do you need help?”
“No! No, I’m fine…” started Sylar, but before he could say more, Elizabeth appeared in the door.
She kneeled on the floor without a word and start picking up the pieces.
“You don’t have to lie to me, Gabriel. I know what you felt when I told you that name. It’s not the first time you heard it, right?”
Sylar got up from the floor and turned to take a cloth. He also reached for the knife.
“I heard something. He’s more like a ghost… no one knows who he is or how he manages to kill people without leaving a trace behind. Nothing more.”
He clutched the knife, ready to turn and  take Elizabeth’s life, when he heard a chocked sob. He let the knife go, and turned to face Elizabeth. She immediately got up with the rest of the shards in her hands.
“Sorry. I…”
Sylar cupped her face gently and wiped away her tears.
“Don’t. You’re not the one that has to be sorry.”
He took the ceramic pieces from her hands and then hugged her. Elizabeth rested her head on his chest, and cried.
Sylar prayed Elizabeth was too confused to feel what he was feeling right now. He would kill Rafe again without thinking twice, but the mere thought of being the one that caused Elizabeth so much pain affected him more than he was willing to admit.
Sylar gently stroked Elizabeth’s hair, and he couldn’t help but think how easy it would be to slice her head open in that moment. She was distracted, she wouldn’t fight back. But Elizabeth pulled him closer to her, and he did the same. No, he wouldn’t kill her yet. But he would. He was sure of that. Empathy was too rare a gift to waste such a precious opportunity.
Elizabeth would meet Sylar real soon. But today she needed Gabriel, and he would do his best not to ruin his good proposition.
“I’m sorry” said Elizabeth, after calming down some. “Look at your shirt…”
“And I’m sorry for your cup of tea, that you had to pick up from the floor. We’re even.”
Elizabeth gave him a small smile, and looked at him while he took another two mugs from a kitchen cabinet and filled them with hot water and a new teabag. Elizabeth murmured a thank you when she received hers, and the two of them walked out of the kitchen to go in the small living room.
“Are you going to tell me what happened to you?” asked Elizabeth, sipping her tea. “Hair, clothes… I swear, for a moment I didn’t recognize you.”
“Do you like it?”
“Suits you.”
“How can you tell? You just met me.”
Elizabeth placed a hand above his heart. “Remember, I can read people. And what I feel now suits your appearance. That’s all.”
“And what are you feeling?” asked Sylar, intrigued.
Again, Elizabeth felt that strong, dark desire she felt on the stairs not long ago. It was in his eyes as well.
“What’s this?”
“What, Lizzie?”
“These feelings. I don’t recognize them. I never felt them before, actually. What are they?”
“I’m just my usual self, Lizzie. You’re probably still upset. You don’t feel things right.”
Elizabeth knew he was lying. Another side effect of her power: she was almost a human polygraph. But she didn’t understand why. What happened to Gabriel, and why did he have to keep things from her?
She closed her eyes, and when she opened them she told him that he was right. Another lie, but it did the trick. He relaxed a little, but those strange feelings just grew stronger. She promised herself after what happened with her mother that she would never, under any circumstances, underestimate her sixth sense again… but he was Gabriel. Her best friend. She was sure those feelings had an explanation. Every person was different, after all. And Gabriel was Gabriel; no one else was like him.
The ticking in his head was almost unbearable. Elizabeth was talking to him about her roommate – this Peter he never had the chance to meet – and of her plans to find a place of her own. God only knew how he resisted, enough for Elizabeth to walk away from there unharmed with the pink roses that made her so happy, like he knew they would. She asked him to come over for dinner by the end of the week at Peter’s; he didn’t remember what he answered. He probably accepted the invitation. Good. Their last meeting would be the last.
Deep inside his soul, the part of him he kept on repressing was shouting that he couldn’t do that. Not to her. Not after what he had already done. Sylar shut down that voice.
Elizabeth awoke his conscience. That made her the most dangerous between the evolved humans.
That was the reason why she had to die.