Learn to Fly
Disclaimer: I own nothing. Everything belongs to Tim Kring. Parts of this story were borrowed from the first episode, "Genesis," written by Tim Kring. Patty is mine – sort of.
Author's note: I adore Peter and Milo's portrayal of him. This is only my way of playing "What if?". Much, much thanks goes to Seimaisin for her awesome beta job.
The city spread wide beneath her feet. Tall buildings sprouted out of the concrete garden like trees sprouting from the ground. She could see the tops of the medium-sized ones where pigeons perched on the edges. She glanced down to see cars zoom by each other. They formed a multicolored rainbow against the dark-blue and black topped streets. She looked away, tossing her head back and breathing in the cool October air. She held her arms out to her side. For once in her life, Patty Petrelli felt free.
She hadn't planned on climbing to the top of her building and standing on the edge. But the painting in the artist's studio had changed her mind. There she was - arms out, hair flying, sailing off the edge of the building. It had to be proof, irrefutable proof she could fly.
Gathering her courage, she fished her cell phone out of her pocket. She couldn't do this by herself. Someone else had to see. Someone who meant the world to her. She punched in the number, fighting to keep the grin off her face.
"Petrelli," Nathan answered, his tone serious.
"Nathan, I need you to come to my apartment right away."
"Patty? What's going on? Are you all right?" Ever the protective older brother.
"Sure. Just take a cab to the side street beside my place and look up." Then she hung up without giving him a chance to respond. She knew Nathan. He'd come.
She stuffed the cell phone back into her pocket and took in the city again. So many buildings to fly past, so much to see. She bit back the excitement bubbling inside of her. She couldn't wait to do this, couldn't wait to prove Nathan wrong. Not only Nathan, but her mother as well.
All Patty ever seemed to do was disappoint her mother. She never could sit still and "act like a lady." She had even tripped on her dress and knocked her escort off the stage at the debutante ball. She didn't find a perfect husband in college (apparently, no rich man would be seen with a girl who didn't look her best, according to her mother). The nursing thing had been the last straw, though. How dare the darling Petrelli princess clean bedpans for the rest of her life? Patty smiled. Bedpans sure beat the hell out of snotty debutantes.
Her phone rang, pulling her out of her thoughts. She answered it at the same time she saw the taxi drive up the deserted side street.
"Patty, I don't see you," Nathan sighed heavily into the phone. He was exasperated again. Ever since he started running for the Senate, Nathan was always exasperated.
"Get out of the car," she said. Below, she saw the back door of the taxi open. "Now send him on his way," she instructed.
She watched him pay the driver and shut the door. Then the taxi disappeared. Nathan turned a full circle.
"All right, I'm here. Now what do you want?" he asked.
Patty tossed the phone to the ground. It crashed at Nathan's feet, causing him to look up. She couldn't see his face from where she stood, but she knew he was probably worried. He didn't need to be worried. If Simone's artist really could paint the future, then Patty would be flying in a few minutes.
"I've been up here all night thinking about this," she called. "Thinking about my destiny."
Nathan's breath caught in his throat. Ah, shit, he thought. He knew his little sister was a dreamer, but she was going off the deep end this time – in more ways than one. He clicked his cell closed and shoved it into his pocket. Taking a deep breath, he fell into his politician mode. The smile felt false, but it was all he knew to do.
"What are you doing, Patty?" he asked.
"It's my turn to be somebody, Nathan," she announced.
On the outside, Nathan remained calm, but inside, he shook like a leaf. Patty was his baby sister, his responsibility. She always had been.
No one had planned for Patty's birth. One child, one son, that's all his father had wanted. Then Patty appeared unexpectedly. Nathan wasn't sure if his mother had been happy with this new development, but he knew he had. At ten, he wasn't alone anymore. Sure, the squirmy little thing in the crib was a girl, but maybe she could learn to pitch a baseball as good as any boy. When she was old enough, Nathan kept his promised and taught her to play. Of course, their mother almost had a heart attack the first time Patty came home covered in mud.
But as far back as he could remember, Patty never liked girly things. She forever ripped or destroyed her dresses, and her dark hair always fell out of the curls their mother insisted she wear.
Nathan never cared if Patty acted like the perfect rich princess or not. He spent most of his time worrying about her tendency to walk around with her head in the clouds. She never caused too much trouble so Nathan never saw any reason to discourage her dreams. She got enough of that from their parents. Nathan mostly kept an eye on her and kept her out of trouble if one of her ideas didn't work exactly like she planned.
But this was different. When Patty first showed up at his office declaring she could fly, he didn't think he had to take it seriously. Hell, he didn't mean for her to actually try to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge, much less her own apartment building. Watching her teeter on the edge of a roof was a problem he was sure he couldn't solve. If she jumped, he'd never be able to forgive himself.
"Why don't you come on down and we can talk about this flying thing?" he suggested.
Patty didn't answer him. She merely tossed her hair over her shoulders and held out her arms.
Nathan took a step forward. "Come on, Patty-cakes. Quit screwing around." No, don't do it. It's not possible, he thought.
He was too late. The world slowed down around him. His heart stopped as Patty tilted forward and fell.
For one brief moment, she felt the chilled wind on her face and the freedom it brought. Nothing but air touched her. She was in the sky. She was flying. Nothing above her, nothing below her. She looked down at the small dot representing her brother. He looked so tiny, so insignificant. She looked at the red brick building beside hers. She couldn't see the top of it yet. Maybe if she angled upwards. All she had to do was pull up. It was so easy.
Then the moment ended and gravity took hold. Patty's brown eyes flew open. She looked straight down, gasping as the ground rose toward her. Oh, God, what have I done? She thought.
Then two strong hands grabbed her wrists. She looked up and met Nathan's worried brown eyes. How? She glanced down and felt her jaw drop. Nathan wasn't standing on anything but air. He wasn't falling, he wasn't moving, and his hands were the only things holding her suspended.
"Nathan, you're flying. How...?" The words tumbled out of her mouth, her brain unable to form a coherent thought.
"I don't know," he replied.
"No!" Fury whipped through Patty, her face burning with it. He couldn't take this from her. Not this. He had everything. He was the one their parents wanted. He wasn't considered the Petrelli mistake. He had a family, a successful career, and respect. She only wanted this one thing. She struggled against his grip.
She pulled harder. If he could do it, she could, too. She wasn't his burden anymore. He didn't have to protect her and bail her out this time. She was her own woman, her own person. She could do this. She knew she could do this.
One arm fell free and flailed in the air. Nathan tightened his grip on her other arm. Biting her lower lip, she pulled harder.
"Patty, I can't hold on."
Patty pulled as hard as she could. She felt her weight knock Nathan off balance. His grip loosened and she slipped out of his grasp. She plummeted the rest of the way down.
"No!" Nathan flew down, trying to get underneath his sister. Her long, dark hair caught the breeze, flying like a ribbon behind her. He picked up speed, desperate to reach her. He held his hand out. His fingers grazed hers.
No! No! Not like this. She was the only person who didn't expect anything from him. Anytime he was around her, he didn't have to be the perfect son, the lawyer, or the politician. All he had to be was Nathan. Patty had always been proud of him no matter what. If he lost that, he'd lost everything.
Helpless, he watched her fall.
Then, all of a sudden, Patty stopped. She hovered inches above the ground, her eyes half-closed. Hell, he wasn't even sure if she was awake. Did she pass out? Nathan wasn't sure. She only hung suspended in mid-air.
Nathan didn't hesitate. He grabbed her around the waist and held on as tightly as he could. Once he had her in a steady grip, she sagged against him. Relieved, he let his feet touch the ground.
He picked up her legs and cradled her against him. "Patty, what's gotten into you?" he sighed. He had to get to a hospital and fast. God only knew what would've happened if she hadn't flown. Flown. Patty had flown. Hell, he had flown!
Nathan shook his head as he placed Patty on the asphalt. She couldn't know. She would try again and again, eventually exposing them both. Neither they nor their family needed that, and it had nothing to do with the Senate race. All that mattered was Patty would be safe. She had to be safe for his sake.
He made his choice. He wouldn't tell her what they had done. She fell. The fire escape broke her fall. It was all she needed to know. It would protect her, and that was his job.