If you want to read a better-formatted version, please go to my Fanfiction Livejournal theblackmonster.
A/N: Because how are you supposed to know if you've really been awake the whole time? Asleep the whole time? Or something like that. This is set like during Godsend but it definitely doesn't follow it. It's kind of like alternate (very alternate) version of it.
Also, spoilers for Fallout and Godsend.
Disclaimer: I don't own Heroes.
Warnings: None, really.
Awake Is The New Asleep
The first time Peter wakes, Nathan isn't there.
His mother calls him and all he can hear is Peter is awake. After that there is a brief buzzing sound and the world starts tilting and suddenly he's sitting down when before he had been standing.
Peter is awake turns into He just walked out of the hospital and They don't know where he went.
Anger thrums within his veins then but he's already on his way to the hospital before it even has a chance to flow into his brain. He knows before he gets there that Peter won't be conscious when he sees him again, and the anger is replaced by fear.
The knowledge that Peter is out there, somewhere. Alone, and most probably hurt, without him makes the world blur at the edges and he couldn't get there fast enough even if he were there in the start.
They find Peter two hours later outside of the hospital, unconscious, and Nathan puts the fact that Peter was even awake to begin with deep into his mind. It's easier that way, to forget.
Peter won't remember waking this time, and neither will he.
He still thinks, perhaps, that it hurts less to know that he wasn't there for Peter when he woke up. Because he knows it hurts more that he wasn't there to catch Peter when he fell once again.
The second time Peter wakes, Nathan is there.
He wakes in sobs and screams and the only thing Nathan can do is gather him into his arms. Peter screams into his shoulder and blunt fingernails try to dig their way into his neck and back as tears soak into his shirt.
This is the only thing he can do.
Words tumble from Peter's mouth soon after the sobbing and screaming stop, and the only things he can make out are Nathan, oh, god and It's all my fault and Stay away from me and I can't, I don't know how.
Please, I'll hurt you. I can't know I hurt you, Nathan. Please, please.
He whispers to Peter then, "It's okay, it's okay. I've got you, Peter. We'll figure out a way."
Peter stills then, and he ignores how Peter feels less like Peter in his arms and more like something broken, where the missing pieces can never be found again because they were never there in the first place.
The room grows silent, and he doesn't bother to whisper I won't leave you or It hurts more to leave than it would to stay.
The third time Peter wakes, he's still in Nathan's arms.
Nathan brushes the hair away from his eyes and Peter just looks at him and not at him all at the same time. He looks beyond him, toward something neither of them could see, nor would they ever really want to.
Peter looks to him then and whispers, "I want to wake up. Let me wake up. Please."
Nathan doesn't understand, but Peter is asleep once again, and so it doesn't matter.
The fourth time Peter wakes and Nathan isn't really sure either of them are quite there.
The doctor assures both Nathan and their mother that Peter is fine and Nathan blocks out words like miracle because he's sure there is nothing miraculous in the world at all. Especially their world. Especially.
Their mother leaves with the doctor then to discuss something, but Peter is awake and alive and it feels like he's been waiting forever for this moment to happen. As if the other times before were just rehearsal and this was the one that actually counted.
He hands Peter clothes to put on and their fingers touch briefly and something in him breaks when Peter flinches at the contact and pulls away from him.
He stares at Peter and Peter glances up at him only for a moment, and another part of him chips and breaks away when he sees the barely masked look of terror in Peter's eyes before it clouds over and they become emotionless.
Peter shakes his head and smiles, "Sorry," and moves to put a shirt on.
Nathan starts wondering if he's the one asleep this time.
The fifth time and they're both awake, standing opposite of each other and Nathan can't help but wonder if they're both still rehearsing the moment that Peter finally wakes up.
It's like a game they're playing.
He steps forward, Peter takes a step back. He moves to the right, Peter moves to the left. Actions equal but opposite, and he doesn't understand this at all.
His hands drift over Peter's shoulders, turning him to face him and Peter allows this, but Nathan can tell in the way that Peter looks at him nervously that he doesn't want to. Peter is afraid of him.
It could almost kill him to know this, and it hurts more than knowing he couldn't catch Peter and that he causes Peter to fall in the first place.
"The third time you woke up," Nathan starts, "You told me you wanted to wake up. But you were already awake. Do you remember that? Do you remember what you meant by that?"
Laughter sounds then, and Nathan feels his hands being removed from Peter's shoulders, and it feels more like his own arms being removed than Peter simply removing them from himself.
"What are you talking about?"
Peter turns from him, moving to walk away, but Nathan grabs him and spins him around so they're facing each other once again. Peter flinches and then is perfectly still, emotions quickly being replaced by a mask, but Nathan holds onto him.
He hadn't said I won't leave you but he had meant it, even then.
He won't let go.
"You're awake right now, Peter. This isn't a dream. You are not asleep right now. Can't you tell? Don't you know?"
Dark, distrustful eyes turn to look into his own eyes then, and it's the way-
"Of course, Nathan."
It's the way he knows Peter is lying.
For the first time he actually hopes Peter is asleep and that he only is just part of Peter's dream, because he knows he won't be able to fix either of them. Especially himself.
And maybe this is what hurts the most.