The Vow She Made
Disclaimer: I own nothing and no one. All belongs to Tim Kring.
"You can what?" Heidi Petrelli kept her eyes on her husband's face for any sign of teasing. Nathan used to tease her all the time, but not since the accident. His sense of humor seemed to disappear, and he rarely cracked a smile around her. His face remained as impassive as always.
"I can fly, Heidi," Nathan repeated, his brown eyes never wavering.
Heidi smiled as a forced chuckle escaped her lips. She imagined a different kind of conversation when he had come to her earlier and said they needed to talk. She had expected him to say several different things, such as he was running for President or he'd had an affair. Flying had not been one of them.
She leaned forward in her chair. "Fly? Like Superman?" Nathan nodded. At that, Heidi really did laugh. "Nathan, you've told quite a few whoppers during this campaign, but that's the best one yet." She glanced from side to side. "Are we on some politician pranking show or something?"
Maybe her humor would spark his. Maybe this was good. After months, they were finally talking to each other instead of at each other. But when Nathan didn't return her smile, Heidi felt her heart sink.
Nathan sighed, taking a step toward his wife. He knelt down in front of her. "I'm telling you the truth." He captured her chin his hand, making her look at him. "I don't want to keep this secret from you anymore."
Heidi settled back in her chair and crossed her arms. "Prove it," she dared. From the moment she'd laid eyes on him, Nathan Petrelli could do anything to her. Making her look like a fool would not be one of those things.
Nathan stood. "All right." He held his arms straight out on either side of him. He looked so silly, Heidi struggled not to laugh again. Then all thoughts of laughter vanished from her head as Nathan's feet left the ground and he hung in midair.
Heidi's breath caught in her throat. Her heart beat a little faster. She involuntarily wheeled back an inch. "How...?" was all she could manage.
Nathan's feet touched the ground again. He placed his hands in his pockets and took a step toward Heidi. She moved back another inch. Nathan stopped midstep.
Heidi took a few deep breaths, trying to get her breathing under control. Nathan flew! He held out his arms and... flew. She met his eyes, not sure whether to be amazed or afraid. Her instincts told her to turn her chair around and leave as fast she could. But she wouldn't do that. She wouldn't leave until she had a full explanation. "How long have you been able to do that?"
"Six months," Nathan answered without a pause. His face remained stoic, but Heidi could see her husband's thoughts in his eyes. She always could. Those eyes were begging her to trust him, to accept him. She looked away and let the meaning of his words sink in. Six months?
She focused on the plush couch sitting a few inches away. "Did you know before or after the accident?"
Silence hung heavy in the air. Then Nathan's steady voice reached her ears.
"I found out the night of the accident."
Heidi didn't remember much about that night. She remembered Peter's party, remembered how her husband had whispered in her ear as they danced to the music. She remembered bits and pieces of the drive home – the cold wind cooling her face as she turned to talk to her determined husband. What happened next was a jumble. The following car hit theirs in the rear. Heidi jolted forward, the seatbelt holding her in place. She expected to hear the tires screech as Nathan hit the brakes, only that sound never came. She thought she had looked over and saw the driver's seat empty, but she convinced herself that wasn't possible.
She closed her eyes, fragments of memory clicking into place. She carefully opened them and met Nathan's. "That's how you didn't get hurt, isn't it?" She pushed her chair forward, closing the space between them. "You weren't thrown from the car like you told me?"
Nathan looked down. "No."
Heidi let her head drop into her hands. She wanted to scream, to cry, to demand he tell her what else he'd been hiding from her. She looked into his eyes again, the naked emotions still there for her to see.
"I'm going to need some time to deal with this," she said. "It's one thing to learn you may never walk again, but something completely different when you learn your husband can fly."
Nathan didn't say anything. It was just as well. She wasn't sure there was anything he could say to make her feel better. She wasn't even sure how she felt about this news. Flying shouldn't even be possible, yet she had seen Nathan's feet leave the ground with her own eyes.
Then another thought crossed her mind. Her children! Simon and Monty. What if this flying thing could be passed on? What if her boys woke up one morning floating above their beds? How did she explain that? How could she?
She had prepared for all types of changes that came with being a future senator's wife. But no one could prepare for something like this.
Heidi took a deep breath and gripped her wheels. She fully intended to take the time and sort this out. Without another word to Nathan, she wheeled past him and out of the room.
She rolled down the hall, letting her anger take over. Why didn't he tell her to begin with? Hell, why didn't he fly her out of the car with him? She looked at the pictures on the wall as she moved past them. Family portraits, baby pictures of Simon and Monty. And then she saw one that made her stop. A portrait of Nathan and her on their wedding day.
She wore white, her dark hair flowing long past her shoulders. She had wanted to cut it, but her mother made her promise. Nathan wore a traditional black tux. They held hands, hers on top of his, showing off their wedding rings. They looked down at them together, smiles on their faces.
Heidi wheeled closer and touched the silver frame. She had made a promise to him that day – for better or for worse. She looked down at her lap. Nathan had kept his promise. It took him a while to accept the wheelchair, but he hadn't left her alone, not for one minute. He stayed with her through the hospital and the difficult journey afterwards. As far as she knew, he planned to stay with her through the physical therapy ahead. She sighed and looked back down the hall. Her anger crumbled. How could she, bound to a wheelchair by fate, condemn him?
She turned her chair around and rolled back into the living room. Nathan stood at the window, staring at the clouds. Now that she thought about it, Nathan had always done that. It made sense now.
"I can't do it," Heidi said, breaking the silence.
Nathan turned to her. "Do what?"
"I can't turn my back on this." She moved closer to him and took his hand in hers. "You're dealing with my wheelchair; it's only fair I deal with this." She met his eyes. "I love you, Nathan. I love you when you're sweet. I love you when you're an asshole. I believe I can love you when you fly."
For the first time in a long while, a genuine smile crossed Nathan's lips. He knelt down, keeping his eyes on hers. He didn't say anything. Heidi knew he didn't need to.
A quiet acceptance passed between them, and Heidi knew she'd kept her vow.