2008-01-14: The Unexpected

Starring:

Angela_icon.gif Gabriel_icon.gif Elle_icon.gif

Summary: Never assume you know what's coming next.

Date It Happened: January 14th, 2007

The Unexpected


Manhattan

No morning light filters through the darkly tinted windows. Through the glass, the sun appears to be a white sphere in the cloudy sky, reflecting surreally on the faces of the skyscrapers. In the back seat of a long, black car, Angela Petrelli folds her hands over her knee. A starkly-lined black coat with a large, bold black fur collar prepares her for the day. As the car drives glides at a snail's pace through the streets of New York City, not far from Hyde Park, she tilts her head to look out the window, up at the sky. Despite the sun, it looks like it's going to rain. Perhaps snow. There's a storm on the way, regardless.

Deprived of sleep and full of plans and obligations and unwillingness to give in to a moment's rest, weariness eventually takes its toll. The drive to Yamagato Industries is a long one in this morning's traffic, and for a second, just a second, Angela lets her eyes close and her head fall slightly to one side. But peace never comes. It's only been a few minutes when the matriarch awakens — with such sudden terror as if her eyelids were being torn open and an unseen force were shaking her. Barely giving herself a chance to grasp for air and get herself under control, she leans forward, angular knuckles rapping on the partition between herself and the driver. "Change course," she says urgently. "The Staten Island Ferry."

Staten Island, NY

The move from the old hotel to the new hotel was relatively easy, considering that he and Elle are fugitives from multiple people. Peter made it a lot easier, bless his soul; the ability to teleport from one place to another in an instant comes in handy from time to time, especially when you're doing your best not to be seen in public.

In the new room, which is much like the old one, if not a bit bigger and little bit nicer, Gabriel is currently sorting through his belongings. He doesn't have anything in particular that he's looking for. No, this is mainly because he has nothing better to do with his time. The majority of it is clothes, plus a few leftover groceries that have no need to be stored in the mini-fridge by the beds. He opens his mouth to say something to Elle, but closes it abruptly, picking up a shirt and tossing it onto the bed beside him. Little does he know that trouble is on its way.

Being cooped up inside a room with the same person day in and day out is growing tiresome for Elle, but she isn't nearly naive enough to risk another step outside the door without the protection of invisibility. This hotel room, like their last, provides little by way of entertainment. She isn't the type to have books in her apartment that she might have brought with her, nor is she the type to work on crossword puzzles in daily newspapers; her options are limited.

Using all but one of the pillows from both beds, Elle lies on her belly on the bed designated as hers, with her arms crossed over the pillows and her chin resting atop them. The television is showing some sort of soap opera with terrible acting and soft light, though she's only half paying attention. Restlessly, she lifts her feet from the bed, bending her legs at the knee, and swings them through the air absently. Kind of like a child might.

A considerable time after telling the driver to change course unexpectedly — Angela made as must haste as humanly possible, but a car and a ferry can only expedite the process of city travel so much — she arrives. Oh, the woman has never been to this precise location before, she wasn't planning to be here today, and no one even has it under surveillance; yet it's with confident precision that she makes her way through the hotel after calmly dealing with the front desk. Outside of the door that Gabriel and Elle share, Angela's succinct footsteps come to a halt. She stands, shoulders squared, head tipped back, the thick fur collar of her long coat turned up sharply around her neck. The elder Petrelli's dark hair is pulled up and back, dignified, some sweeping above one bold brow. She is every bit the picture of decorum and poise - despite her flash of terror after her dreams.

And she's here alone. No one lingers in the corridor behind her. No one waits on the stairs. This is not exactly the Company ambush they were expecting.

A pallid hand knocks on the door concisely. One-two, one-two-three.


Belongings sorted, as much as he cares to sort them, anyway, Gabriel pushes the bag of clothing over to the foot of the bed with his hand, before leaning up and sliding himself up the bed so he can rest with his back against the headboard. He does his best to get comfortable, swinging his legs up onto the bed, and he settles down to watch the TV, even if the show on it is completely uninteresting. His eyelids begin to slip close as he relaxes into the bed. He has no interest in the show whatsoever, and the next best thing to do is sleep, so he may as well do that.

Just before he's able to completely slip into sleep, however, the knocks on the door come, and he's awake instantly. Tensing, he moves to the door, glancing at Elle as he does, before looking through the peephole. He's half expecting it to be Bennet again, but the person on the other door surprises him. Stepping back, he turns towards Elle, confusion on his face. "It's a woman. She was there the night I attacked Claire at the mansion. She said she knew about me… tried to talk me out of what I was there for."

The knock on the door is unwelcome and alarming for Elle, who jerks her head around so quickly a sharp pain shoots up the side of her neck. "Motherf— " But Gabriel's words are an effective distraction, despite the hand rubbing at her neck, and it's difficult to say whether the grimace is due to pain or the realization at who must be at the door. "Angela Petrelli. I was there." And threw him through a window, in case he doesn't recall.

Shoving the pillows aside, Elle slides off the bed and gestures for him to move and allow her space. She rises on her toes to peer through the peephole and confirm her suspicions, and the quiet curse beneath her breath would suggest that she was, much to her chagrin, correct. "How the hell did she find us?" Her eyes flash to where she left her phone lying on the table next to the bed. "Don't let her in. She's Company and she's dangerous." Because Elle very much doubts that Angela Petrelli came alone. Shoving away from the door now, she crosses to the table to retrieve the phone.

"Let me in," the unexpected visitor on the other side of the door requests — it's a demand, actually, but her tone is civil, even polite. "I don't bite." A wry smirk passes transiently over Angela's lips, all to herself, as she gazes on the door patiently. "I know you're in there, Gabriel." The door is only made of wood, and though she may be in her sixties, the woman is not deaf. "Hello, Elle." A brief pause is allowed before she adds, in the courteous tone she's been using all along, "The Company doesn't know that I'm here. I'm alone." A bold confession to tell an ex-serial killer and an unstable ex-Company agent, but Angela Petrelli is a bold woman. "I just want to talk."

Angela Petrelli? Does that make her related to Peter? It must. It all makes sense now that he thinks about it. What Arthur told him, what Angela said to him that night at the mansion. Still, Peter could have told him… "I'm sure we can handle one old woman," Gabriel says to Elle, turning so he can look at the door. He continues to speak, even though he isn't looking at Elle. "It's the Company. If they already know we're here, they're going to get in either way. I would rather let them in than have them come in by force." They haven't even been here a whole day. If the Company has already found them, as far as Gabriel is concerned, there's really no hope for them.

Turning back towards the door, he steps up to it, but he doesn't move to let her in just yet. It's obvious that she can hear them, so he speaks to her through the door, raising his voice to be heard. "We just want to be left alone. I've already told Noah Bennet the same thing. What do you want from us?"

Snatching the phone from the table, Elle can feel her frustration rising, and with it comes a very loud and powerful urge to lash out at someone. Though she flips the phone open, she does not dial Peter's number, turning back to the door. For a brief moment she's silent, staring at the door as if she could see Angela through it. The last representative of the Company to claim to be alone was lying, as far as Elle knows, and the knowledge that Meryl's injury likely made its way back to Angela sets the blonde on edge.

At the same time, Elle is not ignorant to Angela's dispassionate opinion of her. In sixteen years, she's made some spectacular mistakes, yet the Petrelli matriarch was largely dismissive of her insubordination. "Not from us," she corrects, her voice loud enough to carry through to the woman on the other side. "She's here for you, hot shot. Open the door if you want. It's your choice."

"And let your neighbours overhear? No." Angela stands her ground calmly, watching the precise the door's peephole stares out on, giving the impression that she's looking straight inside, should either of them look. "If you don't let me in now," the woman's tone remains collected, but raises in pitch, becomes more urgent. "People may die. Let me in."

Sometimes Gabriel wonders why he even bothers. Shaking his head at Elle's remarks, he turns to look at her for a few moments, and with a roll of his eyes he turns back to the door, hand moving down to the doorknob. He pauses for a few moments, but he does open the door, opening it just wide enough that he fills the gap, looking out at Angela from inside the room. He doesn't step back to allow her access into the room. He watches her silently for a moment, before he finally speaks up, hand still on the doorknob. "What do you want?"

People may die? Safely inside the room, Elle rolls her eyes at the woman's attempt to reason with them, unimpressed by the ultimatum. Phone still in her hand, she considers phoning Peter and complicating the situation further— but they can handle this, she decides. It's Angela Petrelli. What can she really do? Unless she lied and has agents with her, in which case this encounter will get significantly more interesting. Shifting her weight, she builds a charge in her free hand, an idle threat against the other woman who is all but hidden behind Gabriel. "Hey, Mrs. Petrelli," she chirps, her tone saccharine. "Long time no see."

So surly. Would it kill everyone to show some manners these days? Angela raises her hands in the universal sign of "I mean no harm". What harm could she possibly hope to cause to the likes of these firecrackers, after all? She's a grandmother. She gives the room a cursory look beyond the blockade that is Gabriel, taking in its details as well as Elle's threat, with a single critical glance (particularly unimpressed at Elle). Otherwise, her intent focus is on fully on Gabriel.

… In fact, the woman's poised countenance, with its stern lines, softens; her dark eyes, sharp with intellect, warm up to him, and the corner of her mouth flickers into a reflective smile. She looks … fond of the man. "I finally get to see your face after all this time." One of those surrendering hands reaches high up as if to touch that very face. "I can end this mad hunt, Gabriel. I never wanted bloodhounds on your trail. I'm sorry for that, but it was the only way."

Standing there patiently, Gabriel allows Angela to look into the room behind him, but he still doesn't budge. He simply stands and waits for her to say whatever it is she has to say so they can get this over with. Looks like he and Elle will end up having to move to another hotel, or something. Of course, he doesn't doubt that the Company will find them there, either.

Angela's words are confusing at best. See his face after all this time? She's seen him before. At the mansion, for sure, but probably countless other times that she's gone over Company records. When her hand reaches up, Gabriel pre-emptively pushes it away, moving his own face backwards at the same time. "So end it."

Witnessing this strange encounter, a perplexed look descends upon Elle's face, her eyes darting anxiously between the pair. There are several things she wants to say - things meant to caution Gabriel against the older woman's words, warn him that she's manipulative and underhanded - but she keeps her mouth shut. See? Elle can change. "Let her in," is all she says, her tone deceptively nonchalant. In reality, she would love nothing more than to see Angela walk away from the hotel this very moment; if that can't happen, then she'd rather this exchange happen inside, away from prying eyes.

Angela simply clasps her hands in front of her, after the gesture is shunned. She's unperturbed. The Petrelli mother steps closer, however, subtly trying to weasel her way inside the room. Good timing. "Thank you, Elle," she says tightly with graciousness that is more than likely contrived. She'd rather the little blonde weren't here, but she's unpleasantly resigned to the fact that where Gabriel is, Elle is, for the time being. Fixated firmly on Gabriel, she answers. "You fortune is your decision," Angela states matter-of-factly. "You can't hide like a mouse under a rock forever, that's not you, that's not who you're meant to be. Nor is being locked away in a cold cell. I can help you. But you have to stay away from Peter."

At Elle's words, plus Angela stepping closer, Gabriel relents and steps backwards, holding the door open for Angela to enter. He'll close it behind her when she does, remaining in front of the door so that he blocks the only way out of the room. He doesn't know if he should trust this woman to be in their room with them. For the time being, he doesn't. Peter failed to mention that his mom was part of the very people that were after him, and if anything, this makes him upset with Peter. But it's all starting to come together, everything he's learned over the past few months, including a certain man residing at Pinehearst. The man who said he was his father. The man Peter and his family thinks is dead.

"Why can't I?" he finally responds, staring Angela down. "I've made it this far. I can stop anyone who comes after me. What's to stop me from killing you right now and ending this whole charade? Peter is the only one who believed me, the only one who tried to help me in the beginning. Why do I have to stay away from him?"

Though she was the one to invite Angela in, Elle finds her guard creeping higher still once the woman is allowed in by Gabriel. Having him block the door is only a small comfort. She winces when Gabriel effectively threatens the older woman, the blue light in her hand faltering for a split second, but she says nothing. It isn't her place to step into this conversation - not yet. For the time being, she's listening attentively, edging nearer to them.

"Because it was a mistake, the two of you collaborating. I'm afraid it might be too late and now it can't be undone." Taking no comfort in waving her cryptic messages at Gabriel, the wrinkles in Angela's face become deeper-set as her whole demeanour grows dark and serious with mounting urgency. "If that's the case, then at least you have a chance to redeem yourself." The statement is made admirably, a glint in the woman's eye; redemption. Is she, like Peter, offering Gabriel that? She steps closer to him, holding just one hand up, this time, held low and unthreatening; a gesture one might use to calm a nervous animal. Closer, closer, she reaches for his arm. "Shh, shh. Listen."

"What can't be undone? What are you trying to—" Gabriel begins, the confusion in his voice obvious. When you're an ex-serial killer on the run, sharing a hotel room with a woman who may be just as dysfunctional as he is, getting help from someone you thought was your brother, and then said person's mother shows up and starts saying all of this? It's confusing to begin with, but now it's just so far gone Gabriel doesn't even know what to think.

Should Angela try to grab his arm, this time he'll let her. He's watching her, his mouth hanging open slightly as he struggles to find something to say, but the most he can do when she shushes him is to listen, and that's what he does. His eyes drift towards Elle for a moment, before he slowly looks back at Angela, waiting.


"Back off." Elle's tone is commanding as she steps nearer again, the light in her hand flaring as a warning to Angela. Her insistence on being so near Gabriel is beginning to put the blonde on edge, her eyes transfixed on the elder woman even as she speaks. "Careful, Gabriel. You think she cares about you? She's manipulating you. She doesn't give a damn about you, me, or anyone whose last name isn't Petrelli." One swift, fleeting glance to Gabriel out of the corner of her eye, and then Elle's attention slides back to Angela. "Peter's a big boy. He can take care of himself."

Angela's intent with moving so close to Gabriel is yet to be seen, given the interruption from the other occupant of the room; her hand curls around Gabriel's forearm while her head whips around to settle an icy glare on Elle. Unable to ignore her any longer, Angela shows her true colours. "You don't know everything, Elle, you think you do but you don't. You've done enough damage as it is. Deal with your failure, stop acting like you care about anyone but yourself. It would be in everyone's best interests if you left well enough alone and went to live out the rest of your days on a tropical island." Her hand tightens on Gabriel, as if anticipating a poor reaction; she shoots him a firmly imploring look. Stay. She still has things to say.

When Angela turns on Elle, Gabriel simply watches, seemingly having nothing to say. He doesn't know if he exactly agrees with everything Angela says to the woman, and he stops himself from lashing out at Angela in Elle's defense. He does tense at her words, although whether it's because of what she said or that he fears Angela is about to get a bad shock (and him, considering she's got her hand wrapped around his forearm) is anyone's guess.

Staring in stunned silence at the woman who berates her, Elle is very clearly injured by the words. It's a valid concern - that she might allow her temper to take control and harm Angela - but with a deep breath, she fights it back, closing the hand as the charge dissipates and dropping it to her side. "Some people think otherwise," she says, half-hearted at best, as she takes a step back. If she doesn't back away now, she can't guarantee she won't harm, maybe even kill, the mother of one of her few friends. What a lovely predicament. So she looks to Gabriel as she turns away, hurt, and says, "Say the word and I'll call Peter." And that's it. She shies away several more steps, though she still listens attentively.

Angela regards Elle with judging eyes, confident in the fact that she's hit home in some regards. For now, that's enough. She'll save any other words she has for Elle for another time; or, in a perfect world, for never. A warning look is shot to Gabriel, then. "Don't call Peter, that's the worst thing you could do," she tells him — not Elle; he's obviously holding the cards, here. "It's very important that you listen to me, Gabriel.” She tips up on the toes of her black pumps in order to reach his ear, to whisper.

Angela steps back after her clandestine words. "It's not your fault. It was never meant to happen."

Even after Elle looks at him and turns away, Gabriel eyes are still on her. He saw the hurt in her eyes, and while he might not admit outloud to her, especially Angela, he doesn't like it. There isn't time to think about it, however, or even say anything, really; what Angela whispers to him causes Gabriel's eyes to go wide, and he stiffens, one hand shooting up to grab Angela's forearm, much like she is him. The grip isn't painful, and it isn't meant to hurt. He's just completely shocked at what she says.

But. Elle's words from earlier come back to him, and he lets go of Angela's arm, pulling away from her slightly as his eyes narrow. "Why should I believe you? You could just be lying to me, trying to get me in on your good side." His eyes narrow further, and a cloud passes over his face as he watches Angela. "You're a Petrelli… you're not the first one that's lied to me. I don't like being lied to."

Being relegated to witness status in this pseudo-confrontation is uncomfortable for Elle, and the longer it goes on, the more secretive Angela gets, the more awkward the former agent is beginning to feel. The sense of injury hasn't yet gone away, and likely won't for some time. It's clearly taken its toll, as even when secrets are being shared she doesn't step up to demand to be included. No, she shrinks back again, dropping into the armchair by the table, keeping a careful eye on Angela lest she try some surprising move.

"I'm telling the truth," Angela says, resolute as stone. "You don't have to take my word for it. Paint it, if you don't believe me. You'll understand soon enough, hopefully before it's too late. There's only one way to take care of this." Now is the time that a 'surprising move' presents itself: the woman's grip on Gabriel slips away and she unbuttons her coat, just enough to reach in — slow movements — and pull out a gun. Sleek, Company issue. It's offered to Gabriel, its flat side pressed against his chest, harmless. "You took Claire's ability, you know how it works. Help end this before it truly begins. Be the hero Peter wants you to be."

As soon as Angela reaches into her coat, despite the slow movements, Gabriel tenses once again, his hand instinctively flexing at his side. His tension is for nothing, however; when she pulls the gun out and presses it against his chest, he reaches up and takes it from her, the weight of it in his hand surprising him. He stares at it for a few moments, before he slowly looks up at Angela, and nods once.

The gun certainly garners a strong reaction from Elle, who swiftly rises to her feet and holds out a palm, blue light crackling into existence. To her credit, she realizes Angela's intent before she can lash out with her ability, and the woman escapes a defensive shock - if narrowly. Her expression is questioning as she looks to Gabriel, drawing her hand back and allowing the charge to disappear once more. Still, she asks nothing; that much can wait until Angela and her manipulative words are gone.

Following a sidelong glance to Elle and her sparking hand, Angela returns Gabriel's nod in a singular slow, somber confirmation: this is what has to be done. She touches both hands to either of his arms, looking straight up at him. "I've always had high hopes for you, Gabriel." Long fingers stroke Gabriel's right arm repeatedly as if she's more familiar with Gabriel than reality would suggest. Despite the bomb that she just dropped upon him, despite the subject matter, she smiles ever-so-slightly.

"I've been watching you ever since you were a boy, like a mother. I understand your potential better than anyone. I want to believe that I can count on you now, when it matters. Don't let me down, Gabriel. I can only take so much disappointment from my own boys." With one last intent look on Gabriel, and one last dismissive glance to Elle, Angela Petrelli is ready to leave.

Looking over at Elle, Gabriel gives her a small shake of the head at the questioning expression. He'll explain when Angela has left. Despite Angela's apparent.. dislike of Elle, Gabriel has no intention of keeping her in the dark. He turns his attention back to Angela, listening to her last words. He doesn't trust her. He has questions about what she says. There are things he wants to know, things he needs to know, and maybe Angela is someone who can answer those questions, but now is not the time. He takes a step back from her when it's clear she's about to leave, and he has nothing else to say to her.

With no more to divulge, Angela opens the door, steps out, and shuts it behind her, leaving the two alone once more. A productive day, to say the least … for better or worse. Good or evil. Maybe even life or death. She's gone, and none of her colleagues make surprise appearances in her confusing wake. Of being alone, she was speaking the truth.

Throughout their final exchange, Elle remains silent, her features caught up in an expression of conflict and anxiety. She doesn't quite understand what happened here tonight, but for the moment, she's grateful for her restraint in not calling Peter immediately. The second the door clicks shut, however, she lets out a breath and hisses beneath her breath, "Bitch."

Part of her is expecting someone to knock anew once Angela has left. Maybe they won't knock; maybe they'll simply break the door down and burst inside, guns blazing. It will take her quite some time to relax her guard now that the Company woman is gone, and she turns away from the door. She doesn't look at Gabriel, her expression still bearing some hint of injury at the woman's harsh words. Or is it smoething else? As she crosses back to her bed, realizing the television is still on, she says, "Thanks for the words of support, by the way."

As soon as Angela is out of the room, the door closing shut behind her, the tension leaves Gabriel. He lets out a breath he didn't realize he was holding, and he takes another look at the gun in his hand, turning it over and studying it from all angles. He then moves to the bed, pulling the pillow case off of a pillow, which he sticks the gun into. Wrapping it up, he puts it into one of the duffel bags for lack of a better place to keep it for the time being.

At Elle's words, Gabriel looks shocked, and maybe even a little bit hurt at what she says. "Words of support? Words of support?" he says, holding his hands out at his side. He stands that way for a few moments, looking rather comical as he stares at Elle, and finally he shakes his head and lets out what sounds like a snort of disgust. "I just wanted her out of here as soon as possible. I didn't expect her to… you know, Elle, I don't understand you. One instant you're mad at me, the next minute I wake up and you're lying with me in the bed. Now I guess you're mad at me again."

Though she may be curious as to what the woman whispered in his ear, Elle is too caught up in her selfish sense of personal injury to question that transpired. Gabriel's response doesn't help matters in the least, it would appear, but she draws in a breath before speaking. "Forget it," she says dismissively, still unwilling to glance his way as she crawls into her bed. "It doesn't matter."

It does matter, or she wouldn't sound so dejected, but Elle doesn't pursue it any further. Instead, as she turns to face him now, sitting cross-legged on the bed, she switches gear. In her very best oh-so-innocently-curious tone, she asks, "What did Mama Petrelli say to you?"

"If it didn't matter you wouldn't have said anything," Gabriel says, reaching down near the bed and coming up with a black jacket, which he slides his arms into. Making sure it's straight, he doesn't look at Elle as he buttons it up, not even when she changes gears and asks about what Angela told him. "I need painting supplies," he says to her, turning towards the door and putting his hand on it. There's a soft shimmer and he disappears from view, but the door hasn't opened, not yet.

"It's not your problem," Elle clarifies, her voice quiet as she turns away from the door once more and slides up until her back is against the headboard. Taking one of the pillows from the pile, she hugs it to her chest, wrapping her arms around it, her attention drifting back to the television. "Right," she says, uncertain what else to respond to his complete dismissal of her question and intent to leave. When she casts a sidelong glance to the door, she can no longer see him, and she frowns before turning away again. "Be careful."

Even though he can't be seen, Gabriel watches Elle for a few moments before he opens the door. "I will," he says in response. The door opens, and then closes.

When she hears the door close again, Elle lets out a long breath, the television nothing more than background noise. A year ago, had someone said to her what Angela had said, she'd have slapped them with an electric charge and never thought twice about it.

But she isn't supposed to do that, and as a result, that stress has nowhere to go. Even alone in the room, sulking, she won't allow herself the responses more well-adjusted people might. Making a quiet sound, she runs one hand along her cheeks, brushing away the pair of tears she can't quite hold back. She's not crying. In fact, she's trying very hard not to.
__

Oh, is Gabriel going to regret this. He probably should have left the first time, but he wanted to make sure Elle was going to be okay. Of course, standing there waiting, she most likely would never let him see that she wasn't okay, so he did the next best thing. He pretended to leave. Now that he's here, now, watching her struggle very much not to cry, he's speechless. What is a man to do? He does the only thing he can think to do: he walks across the hotel room, not even caring if it betrays his presence. Once he's close enough, one hand goes out to her cheek, lifting her face up. It may be surprising to her, especially the fact that he's still invisible, but the next thing Elle will feel is Gabriel's lips on hers in a passionate kiss, as he slowly comes back into view. Paint supplies, at least for Gabriel, are forgotten.

Suffice it to say that Elle was not expecting him to still be in the room, let alone do what he just did. She's oblivious to his presence until she feels his hand on her cheek, her immediate response tempered by her initial surprise. Recovering quickly despite a quiet sound of alarm, she allows the pillow to fall to the side as she unwinds her arms, one hand tugging at the lapel of his coat, the other curling around the back of his neck. She returns the kiss with equal passion, drawing it out without impatience or urgency; and when she finally does pull away, she makes one tiny, amused sound beneath her breath. "I thought you were going to get painting supplies."

When Elle pulls away after the kiss ends, Gabriel leans back, setting himself down on the edge of the bed in such a way that he can still look at her. He keeps his hand on her cheek, and he can't help the small smile that crosses his lips at her words. "Some things are more important," he responds, before leaning in to kiss her again.

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