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[personal profile] indecision

and i'll be so alone without you, maybe you'll be lonesome too
Peter/Nathan, pg13-ish, ~7,600 words, spoilers for up to Brave New World, starts after. Because surely Peter wasn't meant to be without Nathan.
much thanks to A. for beta, handholding, and everything really.

Peter has died five times:

(1) When saving a cheerleader that turned out to be his niece, and what a surprise that was at the time, although if you told him now that Nathan has illegitimate children littered around the world and they all have powers and he needs to save all of them to save the world or end the world or some permutation inbetween he'd just nod his head and go, "Sorry, the Petrelli brother with the superhero complex is retired now, please find someone else, thanks." There's not a lot that surprises him anymore, not really.

Claire knows where they are, of course. Peter flies in sometimes and picks her up for visits, when she's not busy going on Oprah or The Today Show and slowly, inexorably, changing all of their lives. No-one's quite figured out what to do yet, it's just panic-driven hysteria and fascination, but sometimes Claire sits at the dinner table and is nothing but pensive and worried, and she won't respond when Nathan or Peter asks her what's wrong.

Nathan's still mostly immensely fond of his daughter, but Peter has a sneaking suspicion that her sky-dive is going to go down eventually as "that time Claire Bennet royally fucked up". But it was her choice to make in any case, and on that matter Peter agrees with Nathan at least: they're both proud of her.

Claire never asks why Peter has given up his entire life to babysit Nathan, and for that he's grateful. She probably knows anyway, although Nathan would be appalled if he realized she did.

(2) By the hands of a man who he, for a brief, perplexing moment, thought he was related to. Thankfully that turned out to be patently untrue, but it was close for a minute or two there. In any case, he then had to spend five years trapped with him in a private universe consisting of just the two of them. Peter likes to call those years "the lost years", and he refuses to ever talk about them with Sylar, or with anyone else for that matter, even though Sylar likes to call him sometimes just to chat, because apparently you can't let your pet former-serial-killer out of your sight for too long before he starts getting antsy and starts complaining to your mother about what a bad son she has.

Sylar seems to be expecting a dinner invitation at some point, and Peter can't put it off forever even though he's not looking forward to an evening of supreme awkwardness: Nathan, him and the man who succeeded in killing both of them. But it's not as if he can hope that Sylar will someday accidentally fall off a cliff or something, the man can't die and he has all the time in the world.

(3) Boom, in Kirby Plaza. This led to the whole Adam incident, which neither Peter nor Nathan ever like to bring up, specifically because Peter will just call it "the Adam incident" and Nathan will go on about how he believed Peter dead for months only to find him again and have Peter's future self shoot him hours later, but it wasn't that big a deal, really, let's move on. In Nathan's own way, this is him making the best out of what was once surely a very grave situation. Except in light of everything that happened after, Peter has a tendency to look back at that time with a mild sense of nostalgia.

It's easy, see: Peter screws up and Nathan fixes things for him. Except that's not who they are anymore, and Peter's still far too forgiving of Nathan, even now, far too willing to accept his inherent selfishness and opportunism - but that's probably because Nathan doesn't really get much of a chance to be opportunistic nowadays. Nathan has a tendency to issue apologies like gifts, and expects thanks in return, and Peter can't really do anything about the selfishness, but it nice that he's had so many years of it he barely notices it anymore.

(4) This one's a bit tricky. He can't truly blame Sylar for exploding after he lost the son that no longer will ever have existed, and yet. Sometimes he can still feel the imprint of his entire body dissolving, then stitching itself back together again, piece by painful piece. That Sylar never even existed, and mostly Peter likes to pretend it doesn't quite count because that means that what happened afterwards didn't count either.

It's the little things that make it easy for him to sleep at night, his hand over Nathan's heart while Nathan stirs in his sleep, and sometimes there's a trick of a light, the moon's shadow falling over them in a particular way, and he can almost see a crown of blood across Nathan's forehead, hear Nathan's strangled voice telling him to stop. This only leads to Peter trying to reassure himself that Nathan's still alive of course, spreading his fingers across Nathan's forehead until Nathan stirs awake enough to go, "Christ, Pete, you're insatiable. I'm an old man, I need a good night's sleep." Nathan's cock never seems to be in agreement with the rest of him though, so those nights usually end up pretty good.

(5) He asked Noah once, what happened to that boy that could heal people, maybe he could get that particular power back, it might come in useful at some point, but Noah just made a face and told him the kid was dead. Peter found out what happened eventually, and he mostly blames himself even though it was hardly his fault or responsibility, but he sometimes sits and wonders about probabilities, of the chances that there'd be another person in the world that could heal like that kid. Like Linderman. The odds don't look very good, as far as he can tell, in four centuries there were only two regens born, and Wes can't even fly the same way that Nathan can, but perhaps.

He feels selfish, sometimes, holding on to flight, when he should be seeking out a more useful power like superspeed or superstrength, he knows where Mohinder is, and Edgar is still bouncing around somewhere as the new head of the carnival. But then he remembers their objectives: stay low, stay hidden. No heroics whatsoever, and if that's what it takes to keep Nathan, then that's what it takes. Everyone lives their life in compromise, and it's just taken Peter longer than most people to come to terms with it.

So has Nathan:

In retrospect, it's about even to the number of times that Nathan has died, although Nathan's final death was supposed to be, well. Final. But final means nothing in a universe where you could return to life from someone else's blood or from the touch of a healer or from the mind of a telepath, forcing your consciousness into someone else's brain.

Peter's favorite form of rendering death immaterial though, of cheating it of its awful final hand, is the re-boot.

Carefully, because it wasn't easy. Not impossible, but not easy. It was a sleight of hand that he told himself he'd play only the once, not because he particularly felt he deserved it, but because he literally, months later, couldn't imagine going on with the alternative.

He even went to grief therapy for a while, and the really lovely counselor said: acceptance is the first step to moving on with the rest of your life. He wasn't sure how to tell her that he'd belonged to Nathan for as far back as he could remember, and how he wasn't really equipped to be any other way, to move on. In his case, acceptance was only the first step to realizing that what he really needed was a dedicated plan and the means to accomplish it.

On time travel:

Nathan asks him once, "Why am I here - how did I get here." Peter hems and haws, then babbles on about the space-time continuum and some other stuff he cribbed from Star Trek, until Nathan snaps, "For god's sake in English, please."

Then he just says, "I went back in time and I rescued you. Kind of. Uh, it's complicated?" At Nathan's raised brow he finishes lamely, "You wouldn't understand. But I don't have that power anymore so there's nothing else I can change." As in, he can't go back and make Nathan Petrelli not officially dead. Can't go back and make the fake plane-crash not exist anymore. Everyone went to your funeral, Nathan. I can't change that.

This he repeats until it sinks in, until Nathan realizes that there's no reasonable means for him to return back to life. Not when Claire's still making constant headlines and the Government is in an uproar and every other day someone is coming forward to say, "Look what I can do." Nathan Petrelli could fly, and it's not quite the big deal that it used to be, but magically returning from the grave will no-doubt cause undue attention to fall upon their family, even more than usual. The Petrellis have too many secrets that need to be kept, too many skeletons buried, some literally, and Nathan knows this better than anyone.

"What do you want me to do, then," he tells Peter finally. "Just - stay here? In fucking Madrid?"

"Madrid's nice, Nathan. I chose it because it's pretty cosmopolitan, they have a lovely arts scene - I know how you love the classics, plus we both speak Spanish, and the people are, um. Friendly." Open to the idea of two guys living together, is what he doesn't yet feel appropriate to say.

"God, are you even listening to yourself? You sound like you're on the fucking tourism promotion board." He's stalking back and forth across the room now, hands low on his waist except when they're busy waving dismissively in Peter's direction.

"Why do you act as if this is my fault, Nathan. I didn't kill you."

"No, that was your new best friend. He asks that you call him back, by the way."

"We're not friends, for the last time," Peter says, tired of explaining. Tired of this conversation. Some small part of him wants to go: I brought you back, that means I get to keep you.

Nathan stops pacing to eye him speculatively, as if he knows what Peter's thinking, and Peter shuts up. "I just want -"

"You just want what? The whole world thinks you're dead, including Monty and Simon. Those are facts, and you yelling at me won't change that. But hey, if it makes you feel better."

"Nothing could possibly make me feel better, Pete. Except for maybe getting my old life back."

"Unfortunately, we both know that's unlikely to happen. Maybe you should try adjusting to your new one."

Their fake IDs and histories give them different last names, different pasts, even though René had frowned when he handed the bundle over and said, "Are you certain this is what you want, Peter. Giving you a shared history will make it easier for you to keep your stories straight." Which makes total and utter sense, but there are things that Peter wants more than easily remembered backstories. In the back of his head, percolating as vague, mostly unformulated thoughts, Nathan and him hold hands as they go grocery shopping, and they kiss in the aisles when they think no-one is looking. They eat out and no-one questions that they're together, and he introduces Nathan to everyone as his partner or something close to it, or just by his name, and everyone will just come to the logical conclusion that Nathan belongs to him and vice versa.

The reality, of course, is that Nathan mostly stays at home and sulks, and what they do - Peter pushing Nathan up against the kitchen counter and going down on him, or them jerking each other off in the shower, or at night, when they fuck, long and slow or quick and hard or somewhere in between - is still entirely private, not meant for the prying eyes of outsiders. "Why do you always have to behave like this," he tells Nathan, the first time they go out together and Nathan reacts as if he'd been scalded when Peter leans over to peck him on the cheek.

"You're my brother, Pete," Nathan says. "It's inappropriate."

"But no-one knows we're related," Peter points out, quite reasonably.

"I do. That's enough." Which has never stopped Nathan before, not when they're alone, but apparently in Nathan's head his behavior is entirely logical, and Peter can't seem to persuade him otherwise.

"Fine, whatever. Be like that," Peter says eventually, and storms off into the produce aisle.

He doesn't think Nathan will follow him, but when he turns around he's standing there, legs apart and arms crossed over his chest, his gaze invasive, judgmental. "This makes you happy, doesn't it," he says, and he waves his hand around to indicate the entire supermarket.

"What? Organic beetroot? Of course it does. Everyone deserves to have their bodies be free of toxins and pesticides, Nathan." Not what Nathan means, but he's holding a bag of produce in his hands and he had a vision, at some point, of what domesticity with Nathan would be like, and even here and now, with no other options left for either of them, Nathan sees fit to ruin it, like he sees fit to ruin every single chance of happiness that he's ever been given.

"This isn't a joke, Pete," Nathan says.

"Yeah, I'm not trying to be funny," Peter says, and shoves the bag of beetroots at Nathan's chest, forcing him to grab at them and stagger backwards. He lowers his voice, "If you're bored, I suggest a hobby. Take up knitting or something. Now if you don't mind, there are some oranges calling my name."

The problem with Nathan is that, deep down, he doesn't believe that he should have been saved, and it's ultimately Peter's fault for saving him, for being weak enough to continuously have faith in Nathan and his ability to redeem himself. It's why he gave up, why he threw himself off that roof, even though that wasn't exactly the same Nathan. Peter doesn't differentiate between the two. Nathan, like Ma, thinks unconditional love is a weakness, but he will still choose Peter in the end.

All this Peter understands, is patient with, but it doesn't make it any less irritating, especially since he's promised himself he won't react with his fists first anymore. Nathan's never made anything easy though, not ever.

The house:

"This place is designed for the socially conscious home owner," the perky real-estate agent tells him, "It's great for a single man or a family, if you're so inclined, Mr. Perry," she says, but Peter ignores the implied question and instead spins around, imagines Nathan living here. Too expensive, too overtly rich for Peter's tastes, despite the environmentally positive aspects of it, but it's far up on a hill in a neighborhood that values its privacy, and as far as compromises go, it's probably a fair one to make. Mostly he likes the library in the basement, rows of shelves made from rich dark wood that he's reassured is harvested in a sustainable and responsible manner. "What do you think," the agent says. "There are other houses, if you'd like we can -"

"No, it's fine," Peter says, and smiles at her. "I'll take it."

He uses the trust fund money that's his and his alone to purchase it, despite his initial instincts to say "Fuck you" to the entire Petrelli heritage and disown it all. Through a convoluted means of course, he has to call Molly who calls Micah who says, "I can make it untraceable to you, Mr. Petrelli. Transfer whatever funds you have to your new identity." It's not that he doesn't trust René not to tell Ma where they are, but his loyalties have always been with her first. Micah's a sweet kid, and for once Peter doesn't feel the urge to automatically correct the "Mr. Petrelli" that comes out of his mouth. And now he has money, and a new identity, and a lovely house with an equally lovely garden, and more importantly, he has a Nathan to live in it with him.

Nathan, at least outwardly, seems to approve, he stands at the floor-to-ceiling glass windows and marvels at the view for a while, trails his hands across the all-natural marble kitchen counters. He doesn't even comment on the solar powered panels on the roof, or the self-sustainable water processing system, or the electronically controlled lights that dim automatically when no-one's in the room to conserve energy. "The best part's the bedroom," Peter says, and draws him up the large, curving stairs to the second floor. "We have a skylight, and a hot tub right out on the balcony. Come on, tell me that's not awesome."

Nathan only frowns though, says, "Whose bedroom is this, yours or mine."

Peter falters, but only slightly. "Well, there are two other bedrooms, I thought maybe one could be the guestroom, and the other one, we'll see. But this is the master bedroom, and the biggest." He waves hesitantly at the walk-in closet. "There's space enough for both our clothes. I brought all of your suits from home, told Ma I was going to put them into storage. The bed's huge -" He was so sure of all of this, up to a second ago. His plans never included any kind of objection from Nathan for some reason, even though that's usually Nathan's default state, a strenuous objection to any and all plans laid out by Peter.

"Ah," Nathan says, and he slides his hands into his pockets. Peter only starts breathing again when he wanders over to the closet door, opens it and starts rifling aimlessly through the suits. "You thought of everything, didn't you," he says, and his voice is only slightly bitter, only the barest hint of strained.

"I just want you to be happy, Nathan." He follows Nathan into the closet, slips his arms around his waist. Nathan stiffens, but doesn't move away. It's been a while since they've done anything even remotely close to this. Too busy trying to stop the world from ending and trying to tear each other apart, even more so than they usually did. Nathan twists in his arms until they're face to face, cups Peter's jaw with his palms until Peter has to look away, and even then the space is too cramped, too constricted. Nathan sucks the air out of every room he's in, always and forever.

"I love you," Peter says now, and his voice sounds small, a tiny six year old clinging to the shirtsleeves of his big brother, begging him not to go away again the way he always did. Begging him to stay.

"I know," Nathan says.

Nathan doesn't remember dying, or being inside Sylar's body, or saying goodbye on a rooftop, so far away. He doesn't remember what Peter did. What Peter will do, will keep doing, until the end of time, if that's what it takes, everything that it takes. But Peter does. He won't let himself forget.

(They break in the bed, that afternoon. Skylight closed because it starts to rain almost as soon as they get their clothes off, but Peter stares up at the heavy drops landing on the glass panes, an insistent patter and slide as the water sluices off, and thinks drowsily that he could live here forever, Nathan in him, his body a hard, beautiful line and his face closed off and mouthing Peter's name, only Peter's name.)

The first thing Nathan does though, after he finally decides to settle in, or at least comes to the conclusion that he has no choice but to settle in, is to buy himself a muscle car, speeds it up the driveway, causing such a racket that Peter has to come out from behind the house to gape.

"What do you think," Nathan says proudly, patting the car like he's a new daddy.

"Are you kidding me? Tell me you're kidding me."

"American cars, you can't beat them."

"We're not even in America," Peter retorts.

"What, do the Spaniards make cars now? You're such a killjoy," Nathan says, and beams. It's quite possibly the first genuine grin he's seen on Nathan's face since all of this started, so Peter just sighs, and lets it slide.

"Will I get to drive it sometime," he asks hopefully, at one point, and Nathan doesn't even bother to reply. Peter buys a hybrid, a Toyota, and ignores Nathan's exasperated head shake. He does take Peter for a ride in his shiny red car though, one hot summer night, with the windows down and Peter ending up, quite naturally, with his head in Nathan's lap and his feet jammed against the top edge of the passenger seat window.

First interlude:

Sometimes he wakes up in the middle of the night just to hear Nathan breathe, sits up against the headboard and watches the slow, steady rise and fall of his chest. Nathan still sprawls across the bed as if he's the only one in it, and Peter's always glad he got that super-king instead. Once, Nathan opens his eyes and blinks slowly at him, says, "You keep doing that. Why."

Peter shrugs. "I lost you once. I just need to reassure myself sometimes you're still here."

"I've got nowhere to go, Pete," Nathan says, and if he sounds slightly resentful Peter can ignore it. Instead he scoots down and back under the sheets, wraps his arm around Nathan's waist. Nathan shivers, but pulls him close, whispers in his ear, "I wake up because I dream of dying. I always dream of dying. What do you dream about, Pete?"

"I dream about you dying," Peter says.

The job:

He's a paramedic. "Not a nurse?" Nathan asks, but he doesn't respond when Peter rolls his eyes at him. Does his job, more or less, relatively well. Tries not to take it personally, skips all the heroics, doesn't blame himself too much when he can't save someone. Doesn't listen to the whispers that go, "she wouldn't have bled out if you'd flown her to the hospital in time," or, "if you had superstrength you could have pulled him out of that car before he suffocated to death," all the thousand and one things that he could have done, would have done, if he were still Peter Petrelli and not Rick Perry, thirty-two years old, utterly unremarkable paramedic at a hospital, two months into the job and competent, but not extraordinary.

(Bad nights, when he loses someone, he comes home and as grouchy and irritable as Nathan usually is, he will take one look at Peter's face and lead him upstairs, settle him between his legs in the hot tub, back pressed to chest, with a bottle of wine nearby. Nathan never speaks, nights like these, even though Peter knows he wants to. Can hear the lecture in his head, impatient and condescending in the way only Nathan knows how: You're not responsible for their lives. And if the job's so hard, then leave. I don't even know why you continue to do this, it's not as if we need the money, Pete.

It's almost jarring, Nathan's continued silence, and eventually Peter will tilt his head back and kiss him, closed-mouthed but desperate, and Nathan will drag them both out of the tub and they will stumble to the bed, not caring how wet the sheets get. Nathan will drive into Peter relentlessly, and Peter will grip the headboard with tight fingers and beg openly, wantonly. "Please, Nathan. Please." Nights like these, Nathan always knows how to give Peter exactly what he wants. What he needs.)

His first partner is a six-foot tall woman named Carmela who wears dreadlocks and has the most striking face on a woman that Peter has ever seen. He flirts with her for a while, harmlessly he thinks, until he realizes he's dangerously close to falling for her, and then he has to remind himself that Nathan's waiting at home for him - for some definition of waiting, anyway. Nathan's simply not the supportive househusband type.

Peter doesn't even mind that much because it's just not in Nathan's nature, but then, and this Peter realizes while on break and sharing a flask of coffee with Carmela as she regales him with a tale about some nightmare call or other involving yet another guy and his creative use of a household appliance leading to disaster, he's never been in an exclusive relationship with the man before. There's always been someone else, either on Peter's side or on Nathan's, or both.

There's a first time for everything, he supposes, but what it means is he can't flirt the way he's used to, and that's why the next day he lets drop to a nurse, "Yeah, the guy I'm living with loves this restaurant as well." They all assume he's gay after that; Peter's never thought about it in that particular terms before, it was always Nathan, and other men who weren't Nathan, and women that he loved in almost entirely different ways, save for one identical factor, in that they weren't Nathan either. "It's okay, honey," she says, accessing the expression on his face, "I won't tell anyone if you don't want me to."

"No - I guess it doesn't matter," he says. Which of course it does, except the only real difference is now he's the weird American that's also gay.

Everyone finds out, eventually, or at least everyone that matters, and there's a strange feeling that he can't quite put his finger on, and he figures it out only as he's driving home that night, that it's contentment.

Nathan Petrelli, the man with the plan, except now:

Their arguments are always and forever the same. Nathan doesn't adjust well. Nathan grows a beard and wears ill-fitting clothes that Peter swears used to be his, and slouches around the house drinking too much wine and ignoring everything else. Peter makes lists, household chores that need to be done, but Nathan stares disbelievingly at him and within the next hour a cleaning service is at the door. "There's a personal chef service as well," he tells Peter flatly, "Or we could just get a live-in maid. If we're willing to pay a premium, they'll even give us one that speaks English." Peter really shouldn't have given him equal access to all their funds.

"We are not getting a maid," he says. He's putting his foot down. Of a sort. Nathan decides, eventually, who does what and when. There's always food on the table when they want it and the house is spotless though, so Peter can't complain too much. Except for when Nathan bitches about how bored he is, how directionless and unfocused his life has become. "Some second chance, Pete."

"You could get a job, Nathan. Do whatever the fuck you want - you don't need to stay here and mope and feel sorry for yourself all day." This, because Nathan's becoming increasingly out of reach, and increasingly hostile towards Peter. The only time Peter ever feels that they're still connected to one another is when they're in bed, but that's the one thing that's always been a constant between them, the way their bodies align together, separate yet perfect parts of a whole. "Anything you want, Nathan."

"Really? Can I go back to New York?" At Peter's look he says, "Yeah, I didn't think so."

"Maybe you could try gardening. I heard it's very calming for type A personalities like you."

"You say that as if that's not exactly what you are."

Peter crosses his arms and says, "Yeah, but I've come to terms with how I'm never going to be a hero again. Maybe it's time you did as well." Strange, but the word hero doesn't quite have the same meaning it used to. Now it's mostly associated with mistakes and lives not saved. It's not enough. It's never enough.

"I never wanted to be a hero, Pete," Nathan says. "It's just that I always had responsibilities. You know, that word you're so afraid of."

"Yeah, well. Now you're dead, and all you have is me." It's the wrong thing to say, as soon as he's said it Nathan's face fences up, turns blank. "I'm sorry, Nathan -" Peter says, but Nathan's already flown off.

God bless the child that's got its own:

Once, after he's dropped Claire home, he comes back and finds Nathan on a deckchair by the pool, a pensive look on his face. Peter trails his fingers over Nathan's hair as he passes by to grab his own chair and drag it closer. He sits down on the edge of it and says, "I saw Gretchen today. She sends her regards to the bio-dad."

Nathan only says, "I'd already left them."


"Meredith. And Claire. I'd left them, before the fire. Arranged for money to be sent, enough so that Meredith would never bother me again. I wouldn't have been a part of their lives even if they'd lived. Didn't want to."

"Dad -"

The look Nathan shoots him is both derisive and angry. "Dad only gave me the choice. I was the one that made it. You can't keep blaming him for my decisions, Pete. Besides, I made the same choice years later, didn't I?" His lips twist wryly. "It was a relief when it happened. It meant I didn't have to deal with them anymore. Who feels relief when they find out their daughter is dead?"

Peter leans close, puts his hand on Nathan's neck. "I remember you that summer, okay? You were so distant and unhappy, and I could never figure out why." Nathan's very good at lying to everyone, even lying to himself, but he's never been able to successfully hide from Peter, as hard as he tries. Peter kisses him on the cheek, then gets up and straddles him, settles in his lap. Nathan's hands automatically come up to encircle Peter's waist, but he refuses to look up.

"What happened that year -"

"You gotta stop this, Nathan. This self-pity thing you've got going on, it's not cute anymore, man." He wraps his arms around Nathan as Nathan chuckles, and even like this, Nathan still feels solid, larger than life and capable of doing no wrong. "Come on - you want to go for a swim? It's a nice night for it."

"No," Nathan says, his voice deepening in that particular way that always makes Peter's spine curl. "Let's not."

On choosing your parents, and other wishful thoughts:

Ma's lonely, and alone, so of course Peter flies back and visits her as often as he can. Which isn't often at all, but she tells him, in her quietly guilt-inducing way, "That's fine, dear. I have plenty of things to keep me occupied." What these are, she doesn't elaborate on, but Peter has a faint inkling.

No doubt they include Claire and the Specials, and what's going on in Congress that Peter's only aware of because Nathan, to Peter's horror, in his vast amounts of spare time, has figured out the computer and the internet. At some point Nathan hooked up his laptop wirelessly to their flatscreen TV and so they have news streaming in from all around the world, almost twenty-four seven. Peter tries to ignore most of it as best he can, but Nathan's obsessed, and he has force him upstairs some nights and soundly ignore him while he goes on about feeling powerless and unable to help. "I'm a US Senator," he says. "I should be in the thick of things. Not here."

"Yeah well, the last time you were in the thick of things, Senator, it didn't turn out so well, did it. Besides, you're not a Senator anymore."

Nathan flushes unhappily, but he stops bitching, at least for a while, although his eyes are sometimes distant, a million miles away, and Peter tries not to think about what Nathan might be planning, tries to convince himself his wheels are not spinning, plotting his triumphant return from the dead.

It's a look Ma gets in her eyes as well, suddenly sharp and contemplative, and if the two of them got together they could no doubt spin it in such a manner as to be plausible. The last time Nathan came back from the dead he got a Senate seat. Who knows what he might get if he comes back one more time. In the end though, Ma will mostly just kiss him on the cheek and say, "You're a good son, Peter," and what she means is: I owe you this, at least. Because they're both aware: Nathan will choose any plan of hers if he were given the slightest hint that it might be possible.

"Why can't you just be - Just be," he wants to ask Nathan. Because at some point, surely, everyone wants to rest. To live a quiet, unremarkable life. But that's not Nathan, and it was never him either, except that he's changed and Nathan really hasn't. Nathan's still partly in mourning over who he used to be, rather than looking ahead to what he might become.

He broaches the subject only once, over breakfast. "I thought maybe you'd be happy," he says. "You can be you now."

"The problem with you, Pete, is that you always thought that who I was wasn't who I wanted to be. Not everything is Dad's fault. Please pass the salt." Peter has no response to that, so he just hands the salt shaker over and they eat in silence.

Afterwards, Peter goes for a swim, waters the plants, until he gets bored enough or misses Nathan enough to search him out. He thinks maybe Nathan's watching tv, but instead he's sitting at his desk in the library, head bent over an open page. The basement is now overspilling with books; Nathan has law-review volumes taking up half the space, a fair number of them for the Spanish legal system, but he avoids the subject when Peter asks tentatively if he's considering maybe going back to work. David Colton went to Stanford Law, top of his class. Impeccable career back home, with references that even hold out. "I'm sorry," Peter says, when Nathan's shown no interest in acknowledging his presence.

"For what?" Nathan blinks at him from behind reading glasses. Peter walks over to the desk and sits at the edge of it, removes them from his face.

"When did this happen," he asks.

"A while ago," Nathan admits, affording Peter a ghost of a smile. "I don't really need them. Why are you sorry?"

"Of course you don't." Peter sets the glasses down and says, "Pick something. I don't know, Nathan. However you feel I've failed you."

Nathan only curves his hand over Peter's knee, slides the material of his board shorts further up so he can press his cheek against Peter's bare thigh. "You don't have to be sorry, Pete," Nathan says, his voice muffled by Peter's skin. The contact makes it hard for Peter to breathe, he buries his fingers in Nathan's hair and drags him up, kisses him until they're both flushed and heady. Like this, they make sense.

Second Interlude:

Sometimes Nathan takes flight and disappears for days, and Peter frets and worries he won't come back. That he'll disappear and Peter won't see him again and all this will be for naught, but he always returns eventually, his cheeks pink and his hair windswept. Peter never knows what kind of mood he'll be in, he might snap at Peter and slam the basement door, bury himself in the library, or he might smile and kiss him like he'd been thinking of doing nothing else the entire time he'd been gone.

Peter doesn't really care either way, so long as he's home. That probably makes him a sucker, or a loser, or any one of those things that Nathan's accused him of being throughout their lives, although "clingy" is the one he enjoyed using the most, but Peter honestly can't imagine being otherwise.

Things to do in Denver when you're dead:

Peter's still halfway in love with Carmela, but at some point he found out she actually likes girls, though she tells him, only partly joking, that if he were skinnier, "You'd look a little bit like a hot chick I would so go for." Which, coincidentally enough, is similar in a way to what Nathan used to say about him, back when they were younger and Peter never could put on any weight despite how hard he tried. Peter would complain about it, and Nathan would go "Uh-huh," uninterestedly, then tell him while he mouthed the hollow between his hipbone and his thigh, "Don't change, you're perfect."

They both run nowadays, five miles every morning, and Nathan's still faster than Peter, but only by a hair, and it's startling to realize that one day he will probably beat Nathan. That Nathan's aging, and when he sometimes clutches his back and grimaces in faint pain it's because that's what happens to men in their forties, their bodies slow down and parts start to ache. Nathan's almost touchable now, although most of the time he's still larger than life. Even Nathan seems to realize this, his gaze on Peter nowadays, when they've run back into the house and are cooling down, is surprisingly assessing.

"What," Peter says once, uncomfortable under the scrutiny.

"Nothing," Nathan says. "It's just - you grew up, Pete." There's an odd undercurrent in his voice, one that Peter distantly recognizes as pride.

"Yeah, well. I grew up a long time ago. I turn thirty-two soon, remember."

"I guess I just never noticed before," Nathan replies. He tosses Peter a bottle of water, but before Peter can open it Nathan has a hand on the back of his neck, drawing him close. Peter grimaces, but they're both equally sweaty, and in any case he's always loved Nathan's scent, loved Nathan when he's sweaty and disheveled just like this. His fingers are briefly on Peter's cheek before he backs away. "Come on, I'll race you up."

Upstairs, after Peter loses because Nathan cheats, they shower together. Nathan pushes Peter up against the wall and kisses him unhurriedly as the water splashes onto them, making Peter gasp for breath. He's about to slide to his knees but Nathan says, "Turn around. I'll soap up your back."

Peter relents for a while, but eventually he just leans into Nathan's chest until Nathan drops the scrub carelessly onto the floor to wrap his arms around him and kiss the side of his throat. Peter blinks water out of his eyes, then tells him about the Christmas party that Carmela invited him to. "Both of us, I thought we should go, you know."

"As what." Nathan's body stiffens against Peter, but when Peter shrugs his response is unexpected. "Yeah, okay. Why not. Your birthday's coming up, right. Consider it a gift."

"What, no flowers? I know you're unemployed, Nathan, but -"

"Shut up," Nathan replies, and somehow his fingers are on Peter's cock, stroking him deftly, all strength and heat.

"Fuck," Peter says, pleasure coiling around him like a snake as he tries not to buck. He presses his hands flat against the wall instead and drops his head forward, lets the water beat down on the back of his head like rain.

In truth, Peter doesn't expect it to happen, expects Nathan to change his mind, right until the night itself, when Nathan puts on a suit that Peter's not seen in a while, and even shaves, which is amazing in and of itself, Peter's been chasing him to do so for ages now. The suit's a little too loose, Nathan's gotten trimmer, but he still wears it as only Nathan can. Privately Peter thinks the cufflinks together with the tie-clip are a bit much, but far be it from him to tell Nathan how to be Nathan.

Peter finds himself leaning in, brushing imaginary lint off his shoulder, until Nathan pushes him gently away, "Go on, get dressed."

"But I am -"

"No, you're not. I bought you a decent suit, it's in the closet." Peter wants to argue, he's a paramedic, they really shouldn't, Nathan will already draw attention to himself simply by showing up looking like this, but this is a victory and he doesn't want to jinx it. When he comes back down Nathan's in his coat and he's holding up Peter's. Peter allows Nathan to slip it onto him, and Nathan smooths his shoulders down before squeezing them gently. His breath tickles the back of Peter's neck when he says, "Come on. We're already late."

As expected, everyone's gaze lands on Nathan when he enters the living room, the man creates an entrance without even making an effort, and he only shrugs sheepishly when Peter glares at him.

Carmela is by their side immediately, telling Nathan, "So you're the mysterious man Rick keeps talking about. Honestly, we were starting to believe you didn't exist. But here you are, and I can see why Rick wants to keep you a secret." She leans in and stage-whispers to Peter, "You want to keep him away from the queens at the corner there, they've been salivating ever since your guy stepped in." Beside him, Peter can almost feel Nathan bristle, but he doesn't say anything. Instead he just drifts away while Peter talks shop with Carmela, and eventually, when Carmela goes to greet some other guests, Peter searches him out and finds him, predictably, flirting with a blond doctor that has a hand gripped on his arm and her head thrown back in laughter.

Peter stalks over and Nathan affords him a brilliant, if distracted smile. "Rick," he drawls, his voice drawing out the name as if it amuses him.

"David," Peter responds, and Nathan's eyes darken. Peter only leans in though, and whispers into his ear. "Hey, you wanna dance?" Thinking, surely not, because Nathan's just not the sort. Not publicly, not privately even, most of the time. But it's a night of firsts, apparently, because all he does is nod his head at blond doctor girl, Peter can't remember her name, Tanya or Tamarind or something equally ridiculous, and follows Peter to the middle of the room that's been set aside as a make-shift dance floor. His hand is firm at the small of his back as he pulls Peter to him, his other one holding Peter's as he leads, of course Nathan leads, he taught Peter how to dance and never once told him that Peter was playing the role of the girl.

"Everyone's looking," Peter says at some point, because surely this bothers Nathan, inwardly at the very least.

"No they're not." Then: "They're mainly looking at me anyway."

"True. But you know. They might get ideas about our sexuality, or our relationship or something. How mortifying." Peter rests his cheek against Nathan's, breathes in aftershave and cologne and Nathan, sighs. "I like this song," he says.

"You would," Nathan says, but he doesn't sound irritated, just amused and indulgent. "I remember teaching you how to dance. What was it, that girl you were so in love with? I can't remember her name now."

"It was Krystal."

"Right, yeah. Krystal with a K. The one with the teeth."

"The braces came off eventually. And you never did like her."

"I was just happy you were seeing someone, anyone. For a while there I was worried -"

"What, that I was going to be a fag?" Nathan's hand tightens on his waist, but he doesn't respond, so Peter says, "I didn't want girls, Nathan. Or boys. Because even back then I already knew. It was always you. Always." The music fades out, and a fast song comes on. Peter makes to pull away, but Nathan won't let him go, and so they stay there for a while.

The end, of sorts, or the beginning:

"I just wish," Nathan tells him one night, and they're drinking wine on the veranda of their beautiful house overlooking the hill, a million and one lights laid out beneath them like stars. He sighs heavily, but only says, "I love you Pete, you know that, right?"

"Yeah," Peter replies, his voice cracking despite his best efforts. "But enough?"

Nathan's intake of breath is sharp. He wasn't expecting that. He smiles though, in the end. "One thing has nothing to do with another. I wish you'd realize that."

"Of course it does, Nathan. It always has."

"Perhaps," Nathan says. "I know what you sacrificed for me. For us. I'm not - I should be dead."

Honesty, coming from Nathan, is still unexpected, even now. "I love you too," Peter tells him eventually, because he can't think of anything else to say that makes sense. "Don't leave."

And every step is a choice you make:

Date: 2010-04-07 12:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

I didn't even know that I wanted this kind of fix-it until now and it is *perfect*. I wish I could say more, but pointing out the details feels sort of diminishing at the moment. Your writing is so empathic and I loved the way you painted Nathan's emotional state without over-explaining anything.

Date: 2010-04-07 03:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
i feel that i should just keep writing fix-its until nathan comes back on the show! or urm, you know, maybe this is finally it.

Date: 2010-04-07 04:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
oh man, i think this stays even truer to peter than the actual show, not letting his brother die and you know, doing it the right way, not the my-brother's-actually-a-serial-killer-with-a-false-personality-forced-into-his-head compliant way. i'm actually shocked he didn't take hiro's power. *ahem*

also, you know, i could get used to reading stuff like this...

Date: 2010-04-07 06:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
i could get used to reading stuff like this...

come join us, holly! the darkside has hot brothers and puppies and unicorn jizz!

Date: 2010-04-07 05:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This. Absolutely this. I don't think I've seen this sort of "fix-it-fic" yet, and I'm surprised because it works so well! I love your characterization of the boys so much; it's more canon than canon. :) There's this undercurrent of tension that's gorgeous and fitting, and at the core of it is their love, like it always is. Great work. :D

Date: 2010-04-07 06:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
thank you so much! i feel that sometimes fix-its need um, nathan and peter to buy a house and like, make dinner together or something ahem. <3

Date: 2010-04-07 05:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I loved this! Fantastic writing and characterization and I don't know how you always get the details down so well. And the fact that you brought Nathan back? Extra cookies for you.

And these details? So much hearts for these:

- eco-boy Peter
- Edgar running the carnival
- slow dancing!!!
- "Rick" and "David" are the perfect names
- Peter's hipbone thigh dip
- Nathan's illegitimate children littered around the world! He simply must have a half-Filipino boy somewhere around Claire's age wandering through Asia


Date: 2010-04-07 06:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
i will always bring nathan back! well you know, that is whenever i can!

re: rick and david, we just couldn't resist! i can't believe that milo has played a character with the same name three times!

and totally the half-filipino boy will no doubt decide to come to the US to seek out his father, y/y? maybe even go to college, possibly the same college as a certain blonde ex-cheerleder. ahem.

Date: 2010-04-07 06:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh, that was so...god, I can't even explain, sorry. I mean, yes it's wonderful and gorgeously written as always but I'm having a hard time articulating how affecting it is. It's sad and wistful and *not* perfect in the most perfect way, by which I mean: the 'reboot' that hasn't quite worked, Nathan's discontentment, and Peter's awareness and fear that love mightn't be enough. For all the timetravel and resurrections and flying, this is an acutely realistic portrayal of a couple trying to salvage their relationship. That last section! So sad. I mean, this ~

"I love you too," Peter tells him eventually, because he can't think of anything else to say that makes sense. "Don't leave."

~ made me want to reach in and push them together give Peter a hug. Nathan too, because Peter's changed everything, his life has been so drastically altered and he can't know what it was like for Peter to be without him. But mostly Peter. Because it seems he'll take whatever he can when it comes to Nathan, but I'm not sure Nathan *will* stay.

Sorry, I'm not really making sense (I'm a bit tired today). I loved it though, hope that part's clear.

(also: ahaha, Peter's pseudonym is Rick. Couldn't resist, huh?)
Edited Date: 2010-04-07 06:14 am (UTC)

Date: 2010-04-07 07:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
thank you so much for your lovely comments (as usual), doll. i hope you're feeling okay, just general tiredness and not unwell.

i feel peter needs a hug! and a biscuit! but mostly a hug! and also nathan, although that is a given?

Date: 2010-04-07 07:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
(also: ahaha, Peter's pseudonym is Rick. Couldn't resist, huh?)

ahem. how could we resist! other suggestions for the name included:

rick grayson
rick pierce
rick harper
richard thorne
chris harper
ted thorne
ted grey (because haha surely he'd take sylar's name)

nathan was pretty easy compared to peter. we went from "johnathan monroe" to "jim colton" to "david colton" in about two sentences.

Date: 2010-04-07 07:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Aw, I get it now! Rick Perry - so cute! *pinches Opposite Sex MV's cheeks affectionately* But, Jonathan Monroe? I recognised all the other MV/AP roles, but what's that a mix of?

Date: 2010-04-07 07:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
the first name wasn't! i just chose the johnathan monroe because it amused me (the -nathan AND the monroe). then i decided to amuse myself some more with AP characters' names. AP was so easy! we wanted to call him james at first instead of jim. but then david was so pretty.

Date: 2010-04-07 07:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Useless trivia: I heard that in the original pilot script for Heroes, Nathan's character's name was Ethan and Peter was named Harrison. Ethan, I guess I can see... but Harrison? Orly? LULZ.

Date: 2010-04-07 08:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
oh i read that! harrison! imagine that! how utterly awful.

Date: 2010-04-11 11:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It´s as if you mended the heroesverse. At least to some point- because you did save the real Nathan, and that one can´t be satisfied with staying at home and having nothing to do (and by his own definition thereby being meaningless). Nathan always needed his work to define who he is, and he needed to be the one in control. Now Peter has taken over (more or less unwillingly), and Nathan can´t really respect him for that- because Peter does exactly what Nathan feels HE should be doing himself, right?

I can totally see it before me, each and every moment of the fiction. It´s not really just fiction then anymore, is it?! Please go and replace the writer´s team at Heroes. I want to see that on screen. Of course with all the little and not-so-little sexy incidents. Thank you.

Date: 2010-04-11 06:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
thank you for the really nice comment - sigh, i wish they'd bring nathan back for season five, but i think i possibly might have made my peace with it at some point? you know, after writing stories where he comes back.

Date: 2010-04-11 05:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This is so wonderful and so heartbreaking at the same time. I have a little lump in my throat right now. It's just so sad that this comes as close to a happy ever after as they'll ever get. Because nothing is ever easy with them and for Nathan. They are simply not made of sunshine and puppies (heh). That's not who they are and I love you for staying true to their relationship and dynamic even though my heart broke numerous times for Peter. Don't leave him, Nathan!

And whenever I look at this icon, I will be thinking of your dance scene from now on.
Edited Date: 2010-04-11 05:47 pm (UTC)

Date: 2010-04-11 06:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
oh that icon is perfect they're the perfect height for one another are they not. *smishes them together, sadly*

*uses the puppy icon for you*

(i swear though, for my next fic there will be like, random toe-painting between brothers. \o/)

Date: 2010-04-11 09:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
They are. And Milo did not have to climb apple boxes during filming. But seriously, one of the reasons they look so good together is their height.

(i swear though, for my next fic there will be like, random toe-painting between brothers. \o/)

Yes, please. Or the tales of puppy!Peter and Nathan! :D :D :D?

Date: 2010-04-12 01:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
reason number one not to slash peter with anyone else, amiright?! ahem ahem. i still remember the first time i watched heroes and they were walking down the street. i immediately perked up all "i bet there's tots going to be fic about these two" and then peter uttered the word "brother!" and i was all "scandalous! do tell me more!" ah, if only i'd paid more attention then instead of wasting all my time on rock bands in suits.

couch cuddling and lassie watching and face licking, yees! i feel peter the pup will lick nathan's face constantly. \o/

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