Title: And All the World to Nothing
Summary: This is his nightmare coming to life. This is everything he's fought against. Only it's worse than he ever imagined. Because he knows that Nathan is going to die with him. Spoilers for the season finale.
A/N: It's been nearly two years since I wrote anything not starring Sam and Dean Winchester, so it feels a little weird (okay, a LOT weird) to be posting in a different fandom! But the season finale of Heroes was just plain amazing and I was squeeing with the ever-so-energetic kalyw and she somehow got me to write this little ficlet to satisfy her need for a happy ending. Brotherly fluff abounds. Probable AU. Spoilers for the finale. Thanks to kaly for the beta and the inspiration and thanks to geminigrl11 for the last minute go ahead.
Disclaimer: I don't own them! And truthfully I don't even know who does.
And All the World to Nothing
He feels like he's coming apart. Every synapse, every nerve, every part of him. Like he's stretching, burning, exploding from the inside out.
Then he realizes that he probably is.
The glow is blinding—he is blinding—so blinding that he can hardly see Nathan's face.
He doesn't need to.
They're flying, higher than Peter's ever been before. Peter remembers standing on a rooftop in New York yearning for this very thing. He'd failed then, on his own. But here, in Nathan's arms, he feels like he can do anything.
"Nathan," he tries to say, tries to reach out.
Nathan shushes him. "Don't talk, Peter," he says. "We're almost there."
And it hurts now, pulsating and vivid, and there's someone chanting a verse in the back of his mind. It's saying this is the way the world ends, this is the way the world ends and he knows he's going to die. Not like before, not like the times he came back, but completely this time, a way he doesn't think he can come back from. He's not scared of death, but he's scared of this. This is his nightmare coming to life. This is everything he's fought against. Only it's worse than he ever imagined.
Because he knows that Nathan is going to die with him. For him.
Peter feels like his heart could detonate with that alone, that the sheer weight of his brother's sacrifice could make him burst. It could make him explode, more than the powers literally ripping him apart.
Nathan has always been there for him, always protected him, and Nathan doesn't deserve this, doesn't deserve any of this. Nathan has a wife, kids, a future, everything. Nathan has everything to lose and Peter's the reason for all of this.
There has to be another way, Peter thinks with sudden clarity. Another way to die. Another way that wouldn't hurt him so much, that wouldn't hurt Nathan so much. Because Peter's not worth it. Everyone has always known that—his mother, his father, even Peter himself. He should have been stronger. He should have tried harder.
Peter can't even die right. Nathan has to bail him out of this one too.
If Nathan had just never come back, then he'd be bleeding on the streets right now, the bullet already popping out of his brain. If Nathan had just never come back, then Nathan would be safe. Nathan would be secure. The free world would have the best leader they could ever want.
But if Nathan hadn't come back, this wouldn't be over. It would have been postponed, put off; it would have been a temporary reprieve, a wait before he lost control again. His destiny is calling him and he's avoided it too long. Nathan will save him from himself and it will cost them both everything.
If Nathan hadn't come back, Peter wouldn't have known just how much his brother loved him.
And he can't be sorry for that. Not at all. Nathan's love is the only thing he's ever really needed. He doubted it sometimes, wondered sometimes, and now it's all encompassing, overtaking him, filling him, holding him together when he's literally flying apart at his seams.
"Nathan," he tries again, but the air is rushing by him now, loud and intense, and he can't even hear himself.
Nathan's head is close to his, his arms cradling him. "You know I'll always catch you," Nathan says. Peter can feel the brush of his brother's lips against his ear. "Always."
Peter leans into it, lets his head rest against his brother's, and relishes the safety of that position just like he had when he was little.
Until suddenly, it's torn away.
For a second he thinks he's already blown, that that's it, he's nothing more than a ball of flame and microscopic body parts.
Instead he's free falling.
He's weightless and alone and all he sees is blue and black and light and dark, tumbling end over end, then nothing.
When he comes to again, the fall is real. Atmosphere screams around him and he wonders if he's still alive.
His senses are on fire, burning and surging, and it's too much, too overwhelming, and he wonders if his brain's been put back together yet. He can feel himself reconstructing, bits of himself rejoining and reforming, and he knows he has Claire to thank for this.
He shouldn't be afraid, because he's invincible. This fall won't kill him, but he almost wishes it would. He almost knows it would be better if it did.
Because Nathan is...
Nathan has to be...
Something catches him suddenly, softly, nabbing him from the air as if he were weightless and pulls him close as if he were a newborn baby. The arms around him are strong and he knows the presence better than he knows his own.
"I told you, Peter, that I'd never let you fall."
The air is rushing past him now, and he can hardly breathe, hardly see, hardly think. There's just Nathan. Just like there's always been Nathan, every day of his life, in every way, but Peter's never known it like this.
He chokes on a sob and smiles. "Thank you," he whispers. "Thank you."
Nathan says nothing, just smiles and evens out their fall into a burst of flight that takes them far away from everything they've ever known and into the blissful hope of what could be.
It's not strength the world needs, and it's not just hope. It's both and more. It's sacrifice and love.
Peter's spent his whole life trying to be special, trying to be more, and he'd never found it before. It always eluded him, even until the end.
But this isn't the end. This is the beginning. And whatever he was looking for, everything he was looking for, he's finally found it here, in his brother's arms.