Gabriel and his bride paused in the dining room doorway, considering the table with both of it’s wings pulled out for extra space, and the people gathered around it. Their family. Nathan and Peter, beside each other at one end of the table, an empty seat to Peter’s right, at the end of the table, and across the table from him – their seats. Across from Nathan sat their mother, and beside her Noah Bennet. Across from Noah sat his daughter, and beside her, next to where Elle would sit, was Virginia Gray. The table was laid out with all the delicious food that Elle had spent the last two days cooking.
There was green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, several different kinds of pies, vegetables of every shape and size… and then, at the end of the table where Gabriel moved to sit down, was the turkey. Far from the naked looking creature that Elle had dropped on the floor that morning, it was now a golden brown, brilliant bird, juicy and perfect.
Peter grinned. “Hey, sleepyhead. It’s about time you got up!”
Nathan smirked. “We were beginning to worry that I’d have to carve the bird.”
Gabriel smirked back at his brothers. “My house, my bird, I’m going to do the carving.” He took his seat at the head of the table and picked up the carving knife and fork, standing up as Elle took her seat beside him. “First though, in the spirit of the holiday, I’d like to say something.”
He looked from each member of his family to the next. “At the chance of sounding trite… I think I’m the luckiest man on the face of the earth. I have two amazing moms, two great brothers… a wife that I love more than life itself… I have a wonderful niece, and great friends.” His eyes met those of each of his family as he spoke. This really was a paradise – this place that he ended up. These people were more than family, they were his entire world. He couldn’t imagine living without them. “I’m thankful for each and every one of you. I love you all.” He smiled at the “here here!” and ovation that rose up from his family, then he grinned and raised the knife. “And now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for!” He lowered the knife to cut the bird.
From the moment, the knife touched it’s skin, the bird began to bleed. A long slit appeared even where the knife hadn’t touched. Gabriel stiffened and took a step back from the chair, almost tripping over it on the way. “No… no!”
Peter blinked at him. “Gabriel? What’s wrong?” But somehow, Peter didn’t look like… himself, anymore. His face was twisted in fury, and over the words he heard so clearly, there were other words… Yet still Peter’s voice. An angry, furious, cynical Peter. “You monster! You killed my brother!”
Gabriel felt sick and his eyes shifted to Nathan. “Nathan, don’t you-” he cut himself off and almost gagged. Nathan’s head was lolling back in his chair, his throat cut so deep it had almost severed his spine. Blood was pooling and dried over the entire front of his dress suit. “No! Nathan, I…”
He did trip over the chair now, and fell backward. He was vaguely aware of the others standing up from their chairs – but suddenly it was their normalcy that seemed to be the illusion. He scrambled to his feet, chanting “No, no no no no….” But what he saw was FAR too real. Virginia Gray, dead in her chair, the scissors sticking out of her chest. That’s what he did that night… what he thought she had forgiven him for – he killed her. He killed her! Angela Petrelli looking at him with a horribly sad, disappointed, and furious expression… Clare glaring at him with absolute hatered in her eyes. Noah looking at him as if he was a dangerous bug that needed to be squashed… And Elle. His precious angel. His beloved wife… she was dead where she sat, her head sliced deep, just as he’d seen it in the vision on the bed…
Gabriel Gray was crying, running into things in his desperation to run from the truth. He slammed into the wall beside the dining room door, then pushed through it, skidding to a stop when confronted by his mother’s dead body, lying in a pool of her own blood by the sewing kit. He screamed, turned, and ran to the hall.
“You’re a disgusting monster, Sylar! You’ll always be a monster!” Claire’s voice followed him from the dining room.
“No! NO!” He kept running through the house that, only moments ago, had seemed like paradise. Now it was a nightmare. Nathan’s bloody corpse in the chair. Elle’s body on a beach in the bedroom. And the hate radiating from the living members of his “family,” thick enough that he could taste it, along with the sickening tang of blood in the air, was a presence in and of itself, chasing him through the house that, around him, was going back to the way it had been when it was the Bennet’s.
Chased by the nightmares that some part of his brain knew were real, he screamed as he crashed through the front door and out into the California night. The voices still followed him, the images of his dead family burned into his eyes. “NO!! NOOOOOOOO!!!” He felt it building within him before he could even think – Induced Radioactivity. He’d lost that ability to the Shanti Virus, but somehow… to break out of this false reality, this… this false paradise… he’d managed to regain it. And as he cried, screamed, and raged, the glow built up.
When the explosion came, there was nothing left for miles in any direction.
* * * *
“-against their wishes. Dont’ you think, Nathan?” Angela’s voice cut through the haze of Sylar’s jumbled thoughts. He didn’t know where he was – the last thing he remembered made no sense… a paradise. A perfect world.. Where was he now? Was this another illusion?
He stiffened and his eyes cleared. He found himself looking into a mirror, and the face staring back at him – was Nathan Petrelli. But somehow he knew, this… THIS was real. The rest of the memories came flooding back, including things he had to have heard while unconscious. Parkman’s voice… “You are no longer Sylar. No longer Gabriel Gray…” Angela talking to him… A funeral pyre… How long was he trapped within Nathan’s life? How long had it been?
Angela touched his shoulder; the gentle, loving, worried touch of a mother for her son. “Nathan, are you alright?”
Sylar closed his eyes, taking a slow, deep breath with Nathan’s lungs. Parkman hadn’t been able to remove him. Instead, he’d trapped him somewhere that Sylar would be happy… And as the serial killer came to the decision that every one who did this to him would have to pay, he also had a profound realization as he pulled away from the last loving touch of a mother he would ever know.
He’d pulled himself out of paradise. For the rest of his existance, he’d be in hell.
“I’m fine, mom.Everything’s fine, now.”
Somewhere, deep inside Sylar, a boy named Gabriel cried.