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Of Light and Shades (1/?)


Title: Of light and shades
Characters: Elizabeth Porter, Gabriel Grey/Sylar, Peter Petrelli; other Heroes will make an appearance 
Rating: R
Summary: Elizabeth meets Sylar. Almost.
Warning: character death
Author’s note: This fic will cross-over with Reveille around the fifth chapter…

***

Elizabeth’s expression made June Carter, her friend and doctor, laugh. Hard.
 
“Oh, come on! You didn’t imagine that?”
 
“Certainly not! We have been careful…”
 
“According to your analysis Liz, you have not been careful enough.”
 
“I can’t believe it… I’m pregnant?”
 
“Yes, darling, you are.”
 
Excitement. Joy. Elizabeth felt her friend’s emotions and smiled. She was happy and excited, but she was also confused. When she was a ballerina she thought she would wait before having children, even when she came back to Dittmer and started taking Psychology classes between knee surgeries and rehab sessions. She never thought that now wasn’t so strange an idea anymore. Especially considering that the handsome orthopaedic surgeon that put her back on her feet – Dr. Rafe Jordan – now was her boyfriend.
 
Elizabeth loved Rafe, but she never carefully analyzed the emotions she felt towards him. Definitely not what someone would expect from – according to Activating Evolution, by Chandra Suresh – an empath.
 
Rafe’s feelings for her were deep, true, and incredibly strong. He was a former admirer of the star Elizabeth Porter, and when he discovered she lived near him he immediately contacted her. He never promised her more than he could give her and he never lied to her. Elizabeth now had a completely normal life thanks to him and she could walk like anyone else. She limped a little, but only when the weather changed.
 
Rafe encouraged her to give dance lessons to her niece and then to apply for a job at a proper dance school. Elizabeth owed everything she was to him. When she came back from New York, life was incredibly hard for her. Peter and Gabriel called almost every day to keep her fighting. They wanted to come see her, but Elizabeth always said no. She was depressed, apathetic, and had no clue what to do with her life. And then Rafe entered her life like a ray of sunshine…
 
Elizabeth smiled. Now she knew. She felt an enormous gratefulness towards Rafe. What else? Happiness. Because a guy like him loved a broken girl like her. And, love. Yes, love. It was one of the many shades of the feeling people labelled as ‘love’ anyway.
 
It was, however, not the same one he was feeling for her… But now, with this baby, things would change.
And they would change for the better, she was sure of it.
 
She phoned her boyfriend as soon as she left the hospital with her first sonogram. (She almost fainted when the doctor told her she was already three months pregnant… how in the hell had she managed not to notice?) She didn’t mention it; she just assured him that everything was fine and that she had something to tell him.
 
“What a coincidence, Liz, I have something to tell you as well.”
 
“You got the promotion?”
 
“No. Better than that.”
 
“OK, now I’m curious.”
 
“Quite right to be. Listen, I have to go to the gym and I know you have to meet with your mother, so… see you later. I’ll cook. Don’t be late!”
 
Rafe ended the call before Elizabeth could beg him to stay away from the kitchen. She could tell that he was really excited, like a soda can on the verge of exploding; and she felt that shade of happiness that she had become accustomed to in the last few years. Only children and her boyfriend could make her rejoice in life that genuine and complete way.She was just like him before the accident. She was always ready to see the bright side in every situation. If dancing hadn’t been so great a part of her life then maybe she could have found a positive side in her situation as well.
 
According to her grandmother, the positive side was that she could now study Psychology.
She kept repeating to her that helping others by using her gift would make her feel better and take her further than her dancing career. Elizabeth hoped she was right.
 
She still wasn’t ready to let go. Elizabeth never told anyone but she still had her pointe shoes, the ones that she never had the occasion to wear. Sometimes she took them out of their box and imagined dancing in a theatre with her good friend – now promising star – Grace Ozpetek.
Everything ended so abruptly; she never had a proper chance to say goodbye. And probably never would.
 
Elizabeth shook her head and plastered a smile on her face. She was a mommy-to-be and she had to look happy and excited seeing as she had to stop by her mother’s. If she saw her sad, she would conclude that Elizabeth was thinking of New York and her broken dreams; and hearing her ‘you have to move on and stop thinking miracles could happen’ speech again was the fastest and best way for Elizabeth to go home to Rafe angry.
 
Luckily for her, everyone – her mother and sister – was too busy acting weird to notice her eventual sadness. They were doing a great effort not to look excited. Elizabeth could tell it was the same kind of excitement she felt when she was talking to Rafe.
   
“OK, game’s over. What’s wrong?”
 
“Nothing, dear, everything’s fine!” said her mother. “And you? What did the doctor say? Are you pregnant or aren’t you?”
 
Her mother’s feelings almost flooded her. Elizabeth took a deep breath and decided there was no point in denying the truth. Her mother was deliriously happy to become a grandmother, and everyone else felt the same as she did. Everyone seemed more excited for this baby, but Elizabeth thought it was just because she was still shocked by the news. Anyway, she still had the feelings that she had felt before telling them about the baby… what were they hiding from her?
 
Her mother tried again to dissimulate and change the subject, but Elizabeth wanted the truth. In the end her sister gave up and told her with a smile that she hoped she would like the gift Rafe bought her.
 
“Gift? What gift?”
 
“Well, he couldn’t imagine you giving him a gift too, but they fit very well together. Some would say you can’t have one without the other.”
 
“Enough with the riddles, Sue! What gift?”
 
“What do diamond rings make you think of, sis?”
 
Elizabeth put a hand over her open mouth. Oh, God. A marriage proposal?
 
“Oh, we have to start with the planning now! You surely don’t want to go down the aisle looking like a barrage balloon. Believe me, nothing like a baby can help you see things clearer. Only the future matters, not the past… and you probably won’t have time for college, but that’s fine… you have found the right man to take care of you…”
 
Elizabeth couldn’t believe her ears. Suddenly she was back to the day she announced she wanted to go to New York. Her mother thought that the big news she was going to tell them was that she and her high school boyfriend were going to get married. She was actually disappointed that her older daughter dreamt of something bigger than having a family. And here they were again, only this time they weren’t discussing a dancing career, but her college education. The only thing that mattered was that she had found a man that could ‘protect her from the world’.
 
“I’ll keep studying, Mom. I want my degree.”
 
“But darling, where will you find the time to look after a child, a husband and your studies?”
 
Condescendence. She hated when people talked down to her and made her feel this way inside. Like she was a child who couldn’t do anything by herself…
 
“I will find it.”
 
“Hiring a stranger to raise your child?”
 
Superiority. And something else, just lying underneath… Frustration? Elizabeth wasn’t sure. What she was sure of was that if she didn’t go out of there quickly she would say something she wouldn’t regret. She didn’t want to become a housewife like her. She knew the world was a bigger place, she saw it with her company during her brief career and she didn’t want to be confined in Dittmer forever. Rafe and the baby were her future, but so were her degree and her gift. Her mother didn’t want to hear that, and Elizabeth stormed out of the house. She decided to go home. Rafe was probably still at the gym, so she would have the apartment all to her self before his return; and enough time to calm down and work on a convincing surprised face.
 
But Elizabeth realized that Rafe wasn’t at the gym. He was probably inside working like a madman to surprise her. There were rose petals on the doorstep and a long red rose was tied up to the doorknob with a silk ribbon. It was enough for Elizabeth to forget all of the anger and her doubts. Everything would go just fine. She was happy; he was happy; there was a baby on its way; and they were going to get married. He would get his promotion; she would get her degree; and then they could move to a bigger city after a year or so. Maybe not New York, but some place like that. Family was good, but when the fights started to happen too much often it was the signal she had to go away. Far away.
 
“Rafe? Where are you?” asked Elizabeth once inside, inhaling the flowers’ scent.
 
Everything was set for their dinner in the living room (and Elizabeth felt relieved to see Rafe was only joking when he told her he would cook: catering bags on the kitchen counter!), but Rafe was nowhere in sight.
 
Then she looked inside their bedroom and the smile disappeared from Elizabeth’s face.
Rafe was lying in a puddle of his own blood. His head was cut open and she could clearly see that his brain was missing. Elizabeth started breathing faster. She wanted to scream, but she somehow lost her voice. She wanted to run and ask for help, but she was petrified.
 
The only thing she could do was to look at Rafe’s body and beg God to wake her from this nightmare. The last thing Elizabeth felt was her body falling on the floor. Then everything went dark around her.