2008-04-28: Lesser Evils


Angela_icon.gif Gabriel_icon.gif

Summary: Is an ounce of sacrifice is worth a pound of prevention?

Date It Happened: April 28th, 2008

Lesser Evils

Coney Island, New York

It's a lovely day to be out.

It's warm, and although the sky has a tinge of grey that hints at rain later on, the afternoon is primed for festivities.

Throngs of people — of all ages, tiny cooing babies to the older with their children and grandchildren, and some of them alone just enjoying the day — drift about in between food stands and buildings. Children run, screaming and laughing and carrying stuffed animals, messy hot dogs cotton candy, in-between amusement park rides that, to them, seem as tall as the sky.

Yes, Coney Island is nice this time of year.

Angela Petrelli is one of the rare birds on their own, no family at her side. No children, no grandchildren. A black suit dresses her from head to toe, truly too cloistering for the day; what would be a get-lost-in-the-crowd visage is shot through by a pale pink scarf loosely fashioned around her neck, its light fabric blowing in time with a pleasant breeze. The lone woman lingers on a boardwalk, facing an empty wooden bench.

A lovely day for most people.

For certain other people, ex-killers to be specific, Coney Island represents something he could never truly enjoy. Families out and about with friends, siblings, parents, grandparents. Young couples enjoying a romantic day of fun with each other. It's all so very… out of his reach.

He doesn't like being here.

"I wouldn't have thought a woman of your stature could be found here," Gabriel says from behind Angela, emerging from the crowd and looking at her. Eyes linger on the pink scarf for a moment, before he steps forward, moving past her and taking a seat on the wooden bench. His attire is fitting for the day: a pair of regular jeans, matched with a white shirt over his torso, which is covered by a greenish, denim looking jacket. No purple hoodies. Hands tucked into his pockets, he looks up at Angela, an expecting look written on his face.

Angela quietly surveys the crowd. She's waiting, but she's patient; now and then, certain passer-bys gain her distant attention. Gabriel's appearance doesn't startle her in the slightest, and truly, she barely reacts, remaining precisely where she is in front of bench, looking past him. "I used to come here with the boys every spring. After Easter, just after it opened. Usually it would rain, but there was no stopping Peter and Nathan from getting on those rides." The woman looks up at the gradually greying sky for a moment, dark eyes distant in their nostalgia. She folds onto the bench beside the powerful man, a space between them.

There's nothing in response from Gabriel at first as he watches the crowd around them, never watching someone for more than a few seconds, eyes sliding from the one person to the next. He finally looks back up to Angela, eyes narrowed slightly in the light of the day. "Is that why I'm here? To listen to an old woman reminisce about her family? There are much better things I could be doing with my time," he says, voice low, a hint of harshness behind it. His gaze stays on the woman even as she sits down, but he finally looks away, eyes flitting back to the crowd of moving people in front of them.

"Yes, there are." The Company head regards Gabriel with a calm, calculating gaze while he's looking away. "But if you hadn't come, you'd be at home staring at the walls. I'm right; there's no denying it." Angela stands up suddenly, turning an expectant look of her own down on him. "Come, Gabriel. Walk with me. Indulge a reminiscing old woman her prophecies."

"Staring at walls is what keeps people safe," Gabriel says, his voice turned down a notch lower. Whether Angela hears him or not depends on how close she's listening. Looking up at the older woman when she stands, he reluctantly follows suit, moving into step besides the woman he once briefly thought was his mother. "I take it you called me for a reason, then."

Angela starts to stroll, knowing Gabriel is following at her side. "I didn't call you for ice cream, although it comes recommended down the street." Casual observers would mistake her slow pace for casual, and perhaps the man beside her as her son; who else could he be? She's silent as she walks, showing no clues as to their destination. For a moment, passer-bys garner the same detached nostalgia as she had when speaking of her sons, the rides, the rain.

"Hey mom, can we get our fortunes read?!" A young teenage girl — in a family of tourists passing by — exclaims, tugging on the hand of her younger, toddling sister toward a building with a sign out front emblazoned with PSYCHIC READINGS INSIDE! SEE YOUR FUTURE. LADY CADAVRA'S FORTUNE TELLING. "Oh drop it, Chelsea, you know that's just a scam. I'm not wasting your dad's money on that garbage." "But m— " "Chelsea! We're going to the aquarium."

Stopping just past the fortune teller's, Angela turns to look up importantly at Gabriel, the casual veil lifted and a darker, serious moue usurping all. "I know you think you're on the right path, and it's admirable, what you're trying to do. Oh, Gabriel…" The matriarch reaches out to touch the denim of his jacket sleeve, frowning as she watches the small motions her thumb on the material. "I wish I didn't have to be the one to tell you that it will fail."

There isn't much for Gabriel to say to Angela as they stroll down the boardwalk. He shakes his head slightly at the mention of ice cream, eyes falling on the vendor a bit down the way. He ignores it for now, even if ice cream does sound rather good right now, as there are more pressing matters at hand. Whatever Angela has called him here for must be important, even if it's not something he necessarily wants, or needs, to hear.

The young girl wanting her fortune read elicits a reaction from Gabriel, his eyes falling on her and the younger toddler. He watches them with an unredable expression on his face, the corner of his lip tugged up in the slightest of smiles, before he finally looks back to Angela, eyes falling to the ground as she speaks. Gaze moving to her thumb, it's with reluctance that he looks up to meet her eyes, a questioning look in his own. Even before he knows the question, he already knows the answer that's coming. It's something he's felt and worried about ever since he started his path of redemption. "What's going to fail?"

"Redemption," Angela speaks the singular, weighty word with a matter-of-fact confidence that has a rather melancholy note underneath. The woman's hand stays put on Gabriel's arm, but she stills her little gestures. "At least the way you're trying to go about it." She looks down the boardwalk, considering decisively. "Somewhere we can speak more freely," she indicates, beginning to walk further along.

The public around them doesn't care to eavesdrop now, but their conversation, of murder and redemption, would be out of place amidst the smiling faces. Angela doesn't travel far before she turns to step into a rather … unexpected structure. A Circus Sideshow.

"And what's wrong with the way I'm going about it?" Gabriel says, following Angela as she begins to walk again. It's almost like a lost little puppy, searching for love and somewhere, someone to call home. Despite the lies and twisted versions of the truth (if it ever was the truth), he can't do anything but follow.

When they arrive at their next destination, a Circus Sideshow, Gabriel looks up at the structure, a frown flitting across his features. He glances sidelong at Angela, before stepping through the entrance and into the attraction.

Angela buys the tickets—the show is just starting. What timing. That couldn't have been a coincidence.

* * *

She stands with Gabriel at the back of the crowd, a rigid and prim-poised figure at his side. It's dark here, theatrical lighting making its way back in only a desperate orange glow. Everyone is all-eyes on the stage and a tough-looking man who speaks charismatically, his voice booming, as loud as his many tattoos are colourful.

"Who else among the world of men would attempt the great feats you're about to see here tonight?" the man commands the crowd. At the back of the stage, a woman juggles bowling pins set aflame. "Freaks of nature! Human oddities! Living legends! You're in for a rocking, shocking good time, ladies and gentlemen. I hope none of you have a weak stomach!"

The man's voice certainly travels, but it's quieter where Angela and Gabriel stand. "The longer you deny your nature, the worse it will be when you snap," she speaks quietly, eyes ahead, although whether or not she's truly watching the gaudy stage is up for debate. She's unmoved by the bellowing of the sideshow master. "That day will come, unless you take charge of your own destiny."

The man on stage goes on as his associate swallows fire. "No ordinary man or woman can stretch themselves to superhuman feats, risking DEATH and DISMEMBERMENT!…"

At the back of the crowd, Gabriel's eyes are kept forward, focusing on the show as the loud man bellows across the crowd, entertaining and keep everyone's attention on him. He shakes his head, almost imperceptibly, and at Angela's next words, he turns to look at her. Voice low, but loud enough for the matriarch of the Petrelli family to hear, he speaks. "You've seen this?" he says, searching her eyes (what he can see of them) and features for any indication that she's lying.

A sudden bout of irony strikes the ex-killer, as the last time he came close to snapping was in the very presence of this woman. He doesn't believe this will happen again, because he needs to avoid any confrontation or trouble with others around. He frowns slightly, eyes moving back to the show at hand. "How do I take charge of my own destiny?" he says, a hint of bitterness in his voice that comes with the word 'destiny.'

"In a manner of speaking. Yes." Angela's words are vague, but there's nothing in her features to indicate she believes them to be anything but the truth, however vague they are. The woman certainly sounds confident. "How else would you take charge of your destiny…" The Petrelli matriarch turns to regard her unusual acquaintance sternly. "…than to accept your ability for what it is?"

Angela's arms fold, her attention focused entirely on Gabriel; meanwhile, the stage show begins, sword-swallowers and lizard men and hammers and nails and flesh, burlesque and mermaids… "One day, it will all be too much. The need to kill, to gain power. You could go on living as you are and let that happen… Many innocent people will die. People who don't deserve to have their life and ability stripped from them. Or," Angela nods ever-so-slightly, looking up in expectant anticipation with a faint, encouraging lift of her brows. "You could direct your power at those who have it coming. Of course, there are other paths…"

"I have accepted my ability for what it is. A dangerous ability. Something I don't know if I can fight. I could snap at any moment. I've certainly come close to it, and you should know that better than anyone. It's…" The ex-killer struggles for a word to properly define what it has become. "It's a curse." He pauses, eyes on the stage as he watches the various performers and the sights they bring to the table for one to behold.

"Direct it at those who have it coming? I've heard this before," Gabriel all but spits, turning to Angela. "From a Petrelli, no less. Your husband. You want to turn me into a weapon. That's the path you want me to take, even if there are others." Another pause, and a small sigh escapes the man. "Even if those other paths lead me to snapping and killing again…" Killing. Acquiring abilities. Simply the thought of it sends a near shiver through Gabriel. It's been so long. That part of him, the hunger… it wants to come out. Sylar wants to strike again. Gabriel is doing his best to keep that part of him down and out, to keep people around him safe, and Angela's words aren't exactly helpful with keeping it in check.

The mention of her husband causes Angela's demeanour to flicker, to sour and firm up again into stoicism. "If you snap, there will be no coming back from it this time," she says in a calmer-than-might-be-expected voice. There's little in the way of regret; little in the way of anything. It's simply a statement of fact. Her next words, however, hold a melancholy much at odds with the lively contortions on stage. "Just because I'm asking this of you … it doesn't mean it's what I wish. It's simply what is." Until the tides turn once more.

"Then why are you telling me this?" Gabriel says, gaze boring into Angela's. "If it's not what you wish, and it's simply what is, there must be some reason. You know something you're not telling me." Such is always the case with Angela, though, isn't it? "You have other problems to worry about. Your husband. Your son. Both of your sons. Pinehearst. Why bother with me? If I'm going to snap.. I'm not going to snap tomorrow. That's not how you're making it sound." He continues to watch the woman, the crowd and show out of focus, ignored. Any clue he can gleam from her… her body posture, the twitch of an eye, anything to give him a clue to what Angela is playing at.

As always, Angela must choose her words carefully. "It won't happen tomorrow," she says, looking straight back at him. Unlike Gabriel's, her eyes don't bore into his; they bear a calm intensity, knowing and certain, without a twitch, minus a flicker. "I'm here to make sure what happens… happens on time. The logical thing would be to have you pay for your sins, past and future. Be contained. Or worse — for you, dear — killed. By all rights, I should." The woman eyes Gabriel pointedly. Should and could, her dark gaze seems to say, unwavering even as her eyes narrow, wrinkles drawn deeper. "So you can make a worthwhile sacrifice, you can let what you care about die at your hands, or you can go back to a life on the run. It's your choice, Gabriel." No, it's not. "What do you choose?"

"You'll never lock me up," Gabriel says, eyes narrowing, a dark cloud passing over his face as he looks at the floor. He's been locked up before. A rat, trapped in a cage, helpless, unable to do anything, until the people around him make silly, stupid mistakes that allowed him to go free. That won't happen to him again. He certainly won't die. He doesn't want to, has no need to, and even then, if they tried to kill him, they would have a tough time doing so. Looking back up at Angela, a smirk pulls at the corner of his lip, shaking his head slightly. "Should? You couldn't even if you wanted too," he says to the woman. A challenge?

His options do indeed seem limited. Containment, death, or running. Struggling with the hunger in any of those scenarios. People could die if he doesn't do something, and, according to Angela, he could even let what he cares about die at his own hands… "What would you have me do?" he says, crossing his arms over his chest. It isn't an acceptance of her offer. It doesn't mean he's going to whatever it is she wants him to do. Call it playing the field.

Perhaps he's not accepting, but he's considering it, isn't he? Mrs. Petrelli watches Gabriel as closely as he watches her. She doesn't look pleased when he asked the question, no satisfaction, not this time. "There's a man," she states, reaching into an inner pocket of her coat behind the lapel. A small photograph is passed to Gabriel with the same hand that bears Angela's gold-link wristwatch. "His name is… "

"WELCOME ON-STAGE THE INCREDIBLE OLLIE! Who from the audience wants to set him on fire? I know you do!" The enthusiasm from the man on stage draws a clamour from the crowd, momentarily drowning out the low, intense notes of the conversation in the back.

Hand extended towards the woman, Gabriel accepts the photograph from Angela, but not before gripping her wrist in the process. The sound from the stage and the resulting clamour from the crowd in front drowns out what he says next, his eyes on the woman's watch. He lets go, slipping the photograph into the inner pocket of his jacket. "Your watch," he says, glancing down at it again, "it's running a second fast. Every two hours. But it's a nice watch."

There's a crackle of electricity in the palm of his hand, kept low and hidden from view. He watches Angela for a few more seconds, before he slings his hand upwards, in a hooking fashion, sending a jolt of electricity straight at the Incredible Ollie, setting part of the man's costume on fire, eyes moving back to Angela. "Have to give them what they want."

A few people in the front row shriek. A crackle ensues as the Incredible Ollie starts to burn, laying supine as he is on a slab. He starts to scream and wave his arms, electrical-borne flames eating up his pantleg, licking at his skin, scorching. This wasn't how his well-planned, well-timed trick was meant to go. The sideshow host starts shouting for the EMTs, but the crowd doesn't hear him: they cheer on the show.

For the first time since this encounter, Angela looks surprised. Her eyes fly open wide, unable to help the gape that comes and goes as she watches the spectacle on stage past the shadowy heads of those in the crowd ahead of her. She whirls around to address Gabriel.

She's standing alone. He's nowhere in sight.

Angela looks down at her hand and wrist, still outstretched to where the man used to be. Specifically, she looks at her watch; considering, she brings it up to her ear as chaos erupts on stage.

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Ticktickticktick—

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