Ever since Retrace 76, I wonder how many moments has Gil thought about the fact that he left Vincent behind.
He could tell himself that it was Vincent’s decision not to come with him and that he respected and knew his brother well enough that Vincent would take care of himself.
He could reason that he was on the run from the Baskervilles and that Vincent wouldn’t be a threat to them and so would be safe for now.
He could argue that with the world collapsing into the Abyss, everything from here on out has to be prioritized.
He could justify that now that he was heading back to the ruins of Sablier, he might have one more chance to find Vincent before something terrible happens to him. That he was going to rescue Vincent as well as Ada.
But you cannot deny this one fact—-
He told Vincent he was grateful to have him by his side throughout his childhood, that Vincent was an integral part of who he was and he would never deny how important Vincent was to him. And then he left him behind.
So any remorse, compassion, loyalty, and love he has for Vincent did not overcome his own need to find out who he truly was. Justifying his own life and his own sense of independence did not extend to embracing the one other person who had suffered as much as he did. I’m sure Gilbert understood this amount of suffering, but pulling himself out of his own personal torments was more important than pulling up Vincent alongside him, though he had been so “glad” that Vincent had been there all along.
Gilbert appreciated Vincent — he can even love him, and I think he does — but in this Retrace, he also used his brother as a soundboard and a prop to vindicate his own emotional declaration of finally becoming a “free man.” He passed on his love to his brother but did not act on said love. Vincent was a mere stepping stone on Gilbert’s personal life journey. Because ultimately, the love he has for Vincent was not enough.
So as great as his personal epiphany is, I cannot get over the idea that Gilbert’s an asshole because of it too.
I will not deny that, yes, in the retrace with them together, Gilbert did declare how he was grateful to Vincent for staying by his side and that Vincent was an important part of his life, and he did indeed leave him.
However, you have to remember that Gilbert reached out to Vincent. He physically offered his hand and offered Vincent to come with him, to fight by his side, to be with him, to properly be in his life.
And Vincent was the one who pushed Gilbert away. It was Vincent who didn’t want to go with him. He swatted away Gilbert’s hand. He didn’t want to accept that love from Gilbert.
He swatted his hand away because he didn’t want Gilbert to remember. He didn’t want Gilbert to remember what has happened to both of them. He didn’t want Gilbert to remember the suffering that happened to him. But either way, he did, and Gilbert embraces that and still wants to move on. Gilbert wants to grow to be a better person than he was because he regained his memories.
He declared his newly realized emotions and thoughts to Vincent not for Vincent just to be a thing to listen to him. He did it because he thought Vincent, of all people, needed to be told that Gilbert really does care and appreciate him.
Gilbert isn’t responsible for dragging Vincent along if Vincent willingly chooses to stay behind. He isn’t responsible for getting his stubborn brother to accept that he wants to be in his life. Because at the moment, yes, Gilbert had better priorities then dragging Vincent along.
Gilbert does love and care for Vincent, I think that’s quite clear to most everyone. But Gilbert needed to save Oz, save the world from collapsing into the Abyss, needed to keep his priorities straight. Gilbert didn’t have time to needlessly argue with Vincent. He needed to go. (Besides, by preserving the world, it’d also save Vincent.)
Gilbert tried to reach out to him, to be with him, and Vincent rejects him. That is also a fact.
(I also think that Gilbert did a pretty fine job ‘acting on his love’ when he stepped in between Vincent and a bullet. I’m pretty sure that’s a fine example of appreciation for Vincent.)