Disclaimer: All owned by NBC.

Spoilers: Up to Run

Thanks to: Yahtzee, for beta-reading and advising on rich kids in Manhattan.


Five Lies That Made Nathan Petrelli

I.

You don't get to be top of your class throughout high school and college without hard work, no matter how naturally intelligent you are. That should be obvious to everyone, but Nathan considers himself lucky, because apparently it's not. Here is something even more obvious: students who work hard aren't popular. They're nerds. They're derided. It's not that you aren't expected to do good when you're on the Ivy League application treadmill, but you have to look as if it's easy for you, something that only that only takes five minutes before class, not entire hours each day of the week. Nathan doesn't intend to spend high school at the fringes. Nor does he intend to have lower grades because other people are stupid. The solution to this is lying, clearly. He has to make sure to talk about nothing but sports and girls, of course, to pretend being bored by anything more challenging than spelling tests, and he has to cover for the time he spends studying. This becomes easier once Nathan isn't a single child anymore. "Shit, I'm stuck with babysitting my brother again," is a great excuse, and nobody ever asks "isn't that the nanny's job?" Well, Larry Osborn does once, and Nathan gives him his best superior smile and says "yeah, but the nanny is really hot". Cue whistles and eager questions for details, and no one wonders about his alibi again.

II.

Actually, Peter goes through several nannies, just as Nathan did, which is probably intentional on their mother's part, and most of them aren't teenage boy fantasy material. When Nathan is sixteen, an exception arrives, one who is way more interesting than any of the girls at school, and Nathan manages to lose his virginity to her. He never mentions this to anyone, though, because that is the day of his father's second heart attack. Nathan and Consuelo are sneaking off to one of the unused guest rooms for a follow-up and find him. Pills this time, most of which they make Mr. Petrelli throw up again. After this, of course, Consuelo is dismissed and Nathan's mother tells her icily that if one word that casts doubt on Mr. Petrelli's heart attack gets to the press, Consuelo will end up in jail for sex with a minor.

At four, Peter doesn't know about any of this, naturally. He only understands Consuelo is gone and complains, telling Nathan he wants her back and asks whether Nathan doesn't, too.

"No," Nathan replies, who tried to give Consuelo the money he got from selling the car his father gave him, which had been his father's attempt of making sure they never talked about this again. In vain. She had simply slapped him and left.

"Liar," says Peter.

III.

It's a simple question; just a thing for the paperwork. Heidi's family contains a lot of lawyers, too, and it's understandable they wanted a prenuptial agreement. No reason to stare at the question for a solid minute in silence. At least he's alone.

Previous children?

She's dead, Nathan thinks; there is no point in bringing up a dead girl. Nobody knows, except for his parents; he hasn't even told Peter. In theory, nothing spoke against telling Heidi, of course. His relationship with Meredith had ended years before he met her.

He can't bring himself to do it. Maybe it's because as long as he never says it out loud, never says "I had a child once, a baby girl, and she died in a fire", it isn't real to anyone else, and maybe it's because he was not there when it happened, and he doesn't want Heidi to know that he failed Meredith and her child in that way.

No, he writes, and is lapsed Catholic enough to expect a cock to crow somewhere, but his office is filled with nothing but silence.

IV.

It didn't happen. There is no possible way in which it could have done. He didn't fly. This is crazy, and maybe he has finally lost it, and his father's depression caught up with him.

"Nathan," Heidi whispers, heavily drugged, "Nathan, where were you? You were – in the car, you were suddenly - "

He's holding her right hand in both of his. He knows she can feel his fingers caressing her. Because she still has feeling in her upper torso. She won't be able to move her legs again, not ever, though the surgeon tried to phrase it somewhat more euphemistically. You could bang a hammer against Heidi's legs, and she would not feel it, not ever again.

"I was thrown out of the car," Nathan said. "When we crashed." His mouth feels parched. He doesn't recall the last time he drank something. "I'm sorry."

"But…" Heidi protests, and falls silent. Her blue eyes are full of doubt and confusion. Then she closes them again, and though she doesn't pull back her hand, it's clear that she wants him to go.

V.

Drunken wakes are Irish, not Italian. Still, when all the guests are gone and their mother has withdrawn, Nathan and Peter end up in the garden with a bottle of Scotch, and Nathan realizes he will have to stay for the night, because he's on his way to getting truly drunk. Well, Simon and Monty are with Heidi's sister. And Heidi… is in the hospital.

Peter is in a weird mood. As opposed to Nathan, he has never been close to their father. Maybe he hoped that would change one day, and maybe he had given up on it. At least he doesn't know the truth about the way in which Pop died.

"It wasn't your fault," Peter says and for a moment, Nathan thinks he made the unforgivable mistake of thinking out loud so Peter did learn the truth, after all, but then Peter continues: "It wasn't his first heart attack, okay? And he chose to have Linderman as a client. He chose that. So stop thinking it was your fault."

"I don't –" Nathan starts, trying to get the bottle back from Peter, and Peter gives it up, putting his hands on Nathan's shoulders instead. He's wearing the same suit he had on the day he was supposed to give his deposition, but his hair, combed back today as it was then, is starting to fall into his face again.

"I want to hear you say it," Peter insists, voice just a little bit slurred. "You need to. Nathan."

"It wasn't anyone's fault," Nathan whispers, and it is done.