DISCLAIMER: Heroes is so not mine.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: I decided to add my own offering to the obligatory post-finale Petrelli bonding story. I thought I'd explore the fallout in an overly sappy story of the sort I seem to be excessively fond of writing lately.
NEVER LET ME FALL
Sixteen-year-old Nathan Petrelli sighed with frustration. "Come on, Peter. Just jump and I'll catch you."
Nathan's six-year-old brother stubbornly shook his head from his perch in the beech tree. "No."
As usual, Peter was quickly trying Nathan's patience. "Listen, Peter, it's not that far. Look." He stretched his arms up. "See? I can almost reach you."
Peter shook his head again.
Nathan put his hands on his hips. "It was your brilliant idea to climb up there," he said. "Now you've got to get down. You can either climb down, let me catch you, or stay up there for the duration. Take your pick."
Peter stared down at Nathan with wide, frightened eyes.
"OK." Nathan turned around and began to walk toward the house. "Suit yourself."
Nathan turned around and regarded his sibling with raised eyebrows.
"You can catch me."
Nathan moved back to the tree. "All right." He lifted his arms up to his brother. "Come on."
Peter bit his lip and reached forward.
"Grab my shoulders, Peter," Nathan instructed. "I'm not gonna drop you."
The younger Petrelli did as he was told with no small amount of frightened whimpers. "All right, here we go." Nathan took hold of Peter's sides and lowered him from the tree. "I got you."
Peter wound his arms tightly around Nathan's neck. How can something so small be so strong? "Hey, Peter, ease up a little bit. I gotta breathe."
"Sorry," Peter apologized.
Nathan set the little boy down on the ground. "Let's go inside, Pumpkin Eater. It's too darned hot out here."
"Hey!" Peter swatted Nathan's arm at the hated moniker.
Nathan laughed and gave his brother a playful shove toward the house. "Told you I wasn't going to drop you." He said with a mix of playfulness and big brother smugness.
Peter turned around and wrapped his arms around Nathan's waist. "I know," he said earnestly, his voice muffled by Nathan's stomach. "You wouldn't ever let me fall."
So this is how you stop and exploding man, Nathan thought sadly as he shot into the atmosphere with his little brother wrapped in his arms.
He could feel Peter's chest hitching against his own. I never could stand it when you cried, Peter, he thought. I wish this hadn't happened. I wish-
"Peter!" Nathan exclaimed as he felt Peter pushing him away. "What are you-"
"Nathan, get away!" Peter told him. "I can fly on my own; leave!"
"No!" Nathan negated. "You can't! You can't fly if I'm not here, Peter. You'll just fall."
Peter pulled back and looked at his older brother. The poor kid looked absolutely miserable. "If you love me enough to make sure I don't have to do this alone," he said, "then I love you enough not to let you die up here!"
Before Nathan could protest, he felt himself propelled far away from his brother. What on earth?
Then a sound louder than the loudest sonic boom filled the air. Nathan was pushed further away and landed on something solid and hard. The ground? He opened his eyes. No, not the ground. A rooftop.
Where am I? Nathan looked up into the sky. Waves of radiation were still pulsating from a white-hot center directly above him. No matter what happens, Peter will be OK, he reminded himself. Even if he splatters on the ground. But can I find him before that happens?
"Peter!" Nathan called. "Peter!" Like this is going to help. He probably can't hear me. Nathan looked up, searching for any sign of his little brother.
There, as if on cue, was Peter falling out of the sky like an airplane without wings. "Peter!" Nathan shot off the roof and caught his baby brother in his arms. Peter was dirty, his clothes ruined, his hair filthy and plastered to his head. But he was alive.
Nathan gently lowered them back the rooftop. Peter was barely conscious and shivering. "It's OK, Peter. I'm here; I've got you. It's OK."
Peter didn't respond to any of Nathan's words. He's probably going to become hypothermic soon if I'm not careful. Nathan quickly stripped his suit coat and wrapped it around Peter's quaking form.
"Say something, Peter," Nathan urged. "Don't shut down on me. Let me know you're still in there."
For a few tense moments Peter was silent. Then, "Nathan?"
"I have to stop doing this to you."
Nathan laughed softly and gathered Peter to his chest. "You can do this to me as much as you want," he murmured into Peter's hair, "as long as you promise me you'll always be OK afterwards."
"I knew you were going to catch me," Peter mumbled into the crook of Nathan's neck.
"Hm?" Nathan tilted his head down to look at his brother.
"I knew you were going to catch me," Peter repeated, looking up. "You remember that time when I got stuck in the tree?"
Nathan froze. He'd forgotten about that incident.
"You promised you wouldn't drop me," Peter continued. "And you didn't."
For one of the few times in his life, Nathan Petrelli was speechless.
"I really do love you, Nathan," Peter said. "I wasn't just saying that because you were about to die or anything."
A laugh escaped Nathan's lips. He's still in there after all. "I know you do, Peter." He placed a gentle kiss on his little brother's forehead. "I love you too. Now let's get out of here, Pumpkin Eater."
Peter gave a weak laugh. "'Pumpkin Eater'? You haven't called me that since I was, like, fourteen."
"Come on," Nathan hoisted Peter closer. "I promise not to drop you," he said half-jokingly.
"I know," Peter said tiredly, leaning his head on Nathan's shoulder. "You wouldn't ever let me fall."