A/N: Hey guys! After I watched the season 1 finale of Heroes, I was inspired to write a brotherly-love fic with the Petrelli boys. I've been meaning to write one for a while. Enjoy!
"Welcome back, Pete."
Peter blinked, the lights in the room causing a dagger of pain to shoot through his already-aching head.
"Where... where am I?" he mumbled, trying to look up at Nathan. His eyes had adjusted to the light quickly, but a sudden feeling of dizziness caused him to lose focus again.
Nathan was busy covering Peter with another blanket. "In your apartment. You blacked out. After you went nuclear, you regenerated, flew a little, then started falling, and I had to help you get here. Oh, and I wouldn't get up if I were you. I'm betting anything that you're still in pain."
"Uh huh." Peter winced, the pain suddenly flooding back into his body as the waves of a deep sleep slowly washed away. "It's so hot in here... why's it so hot?"
Nathan sighed. "You've got a fever. A really high one, actually, most likely from all the strain. Just stay in bed, and I'll take care of you. Want something to drink?"
"Yeah, just some water, please."
Nathan handed Peter a glass, which the younger brother took gratefully, downing it in a few seconds. He placed a cold washcloth on Peter's forehead as soon as he lay back down.
"You've had a rough night, little bro. We all have, but mostly you. It must've taken all of your energy to regenerate."
"Yeah... it did..." Peter muttered, closing his eyes. "I can barely see straight..."
"Just go back to sleep, okay? You still need more rest." Nathan patted his brother's arm, but he hissed in pain. He noticed that the burn on his hand looked substantially worse than before.
Peter opened his eyes again, straining to stare at Nathan's hand. "I'm sorry that you got burned, it's all my fault..."
Nathan hushed him quickly. "It's not your fault. You couldn't control it. And you let go once we got high enough so I wouldn't get burned as much."
"You need to go to the hospital, I know that those probably hurt a lot."
"Not as much as it hurt to explode, I bet. It's a miracle that you're alive, thank God for Claire... Anyway, I'll go some time tomorrow. They're not that bad..."
"If you say so."
"Oh, I forgot something. I need to call Ma..."
Peter had closed his eyes again but heard the shifting of fabric and the noise of the chair moving, and he grasped Nathan's other arm quickly.
"Don't leave me, please?" he implored, his tired eyes widening. "I'm afraid I'll... I just don't want to sleep alone... you know, just in case..."
"I know, I know. I won't leave you," Nathan kissed the top of his little brother's head. "But don't worry. I think you've got it under control now. The city is safe."
"Thanks to you, Nate. You're the one who flew me up into the sky. If it hadn't been for you... well..."
"Ka-boom goes New York?" Nathan offered, cracking a tiny smile.
"To put it lightly, yeah." Peter winced again. "God, my head is killing me... it feels like it's gonna..." The word almost escaped from his lips, but he was afraid to let it pass through them, as though saying it would make it happen again.
"I can imagine, with all those powers you've absorbed and all the energy you've used. I'll get some aspirin, hold on." Nathan left the room, then returned with a small bottle of pills. "Here. These might help your fever, too. Hopefully we can get it down soon."
Peter nodded, sitting up for a moment to swallow a handful of the pills and chase them down with another glass of water.
"Thanks, Nathan, for... for everything. But... are you sure I'm gonna be alright?"
"Go to sleep, Pete." Nathan chuckled softly.
"Okay." Despite the surge of heat in his body and the beads of sweat forming on every part of it, he curled underneath the blankets and shut his eyes again, willing his body to relax and his heart to slow down again. He chanted a silent mantra in his mind, steadily lulling himself back into a welcome sleep.
I'll be fine... Nathan's here... I'll be fine.
"I need you." "Don't leave me, please?"
The words rang in Nathan's head, causing his chest to tighten. He couldn't stand seeing Peter upset, but it pained him even more to see him afraid or hurt. It made him feel like a failure as a big brother. A big brother, he reasoned, was supposed to protect their little brother at all costs. Nathan examined his arms, grimacing at the poorly-wrapped wounds. He knew he needed to receive proper treatment for them, but he couldn't bear to leave his brother behind, and he didn't think Peter had the strength to even get out of bed, let alone come with him to the hospital.
"I need you."
"Don't leave me, please?"
While Peter was asleep, Nathan took the opportunity to survey his brother, checking his chest, arms, legs, and head to make sure that he really was back in one piece. He monitored his breathing and heart rate, taking his pulse every few minutes and his temperature every hour. After he had looked him over a couple of times, he took his brother's hand and started rubbing it softly, more for his own comfort and reassurance than for his passed out brother.
"I love you, Peter. I love you so much..." he whispered, kissing Peter's burning forehead and cheeks.
He and Nathan hadn't spent so much time together in a while. Peter was glad that his brother was willing to sit and deal with him through it all, despite his odd patterns of sleeping and passing out from exhaustion, his long minutes spent hugging the toilet and emptying out what felt like everything he had, and his sudden bursts of tears and delirious, fevered ramblings as his body tried to cope with the after shock of the explosion. His mood changed almost as often as his body temperature; one minute he would be fine, talking to Nathan in a quiet, tired voice, and the next, he would start sobbing like a three-year-old and cry out for help that only his brother could give him. Sometimes he would sleep peacefully, but other times he would have fits and nightmares and wake up screaming or simply mutter to himself about random things.
A few times, he would get so worked up in his delusions that his powers would flare up into overdrive, or, even worse, his hands would start glowing again, scaring them both, and Nathan would have to either kiss his brother's worries and tears away and mutter into his hair or slap him in the face to bring him back to his senses and help him regain control. Peter would moan, begging for relief from the agony of the burning and pain. Soon enough, the tears would stop, his breathing would slow, and he would fall back to sleep, praying that his nightmares wouldn't follow him any more.
Peter's nightmares became more vivid every time he went to sleep, and he often had to make Nathan swear that he was okay, that Peter hadn't accidentally burned him alive. His expressions of pain and guilt made Nathan's heart break, almost more than it hurt to watch Peter's fitful slumber. All he could do was assure Peter that things were still all right, and that he was burned no more badly than he already was. Nathan was worried that with all the stress that Peter was under that he might really explode again, but he knew better than to let Peter know that.
Soon, Nathan learned that lying in bed with his brother comforted him more than just hugs and kisses. Even with the extra body heat, Peter still loved the feeling of being next to someone, and he tended to have less nightmares when he was cuddled in Nathan's strong arms. Or maybe they just didn't scare him as much when he knew he had a protector right there, closer than ever.
"The government has declined to release any statements about the blast above New York City aside from claiming that they had received no bomb threats or prior intelligence of anything that may have lead to the event. Health officials have deemed the air free of any radioactive fallout and assure the public that there is nothing to worry about as far as the air is concerned in regard to the explosion. Local law enforcement requests that all residents of the city report any suspicious behavior by calling the telephone number below..."
Peter reached for the remote and turned off the TV.
"Still worried that they'll find out somehow?" Nathan had a hand on his hip and was leaning against the doorway. "Believe me, Ma and the others were careful with their 'plan'. They wouldn't let anything that might reveal it slip out. The only people that know are them, and the others at Kirby Plaza that night. I doubt they'd say anything, because they seem to care about you." He walked over and plopped down onto the couch that Peter was sitting on.
"I know... I'm just... I'm just scared. I don't know why anyone would ever want this to happen. And I don't want it to happen. Ever. That was the most horrible thing that's ever happened to me, and it scares me so much to know that it could've been worse. A lot worse. Sometimes I wish things would just... well... go back to normal. Except I don't know what normal is anymore." He looked at his hands, making sure that they weren't radiating with any more heat than a normal human had. "And even though the city is still in one piece, people are scared. They don't know what happened, and they're afraid it was a terrorist or something. I mean, what if this happens again? I might as well be called a terrorist..."
"Pete, stop it. You're not a terrorist. You're a guy who has amazing powers and a loving personality. That's what it means to be an empath. Terrorists want to instill fear into the hearts of people, they want to hurt people, but you want to make them feel safe. You didn't do this on purpose. In fact, you did everything you could to try and stop it. You're as far away from a terrorist as someone could possibly be."
His little brother sniffled. Nathan hadn't even noticed that tears were falling down Peter's face until he was done speaking. He pulled Peter into a tight hug, ruffling his hair softly.
"Thanks, Nathan," he mumbled into his brother's shoulder, sniffling again. "I love you..."
"Love you, too."
"Remember when I used to get sick, and you'd stay home from school to take care of me?"
Nathan smiled. "Yeah. I'd read you comic books all day and make snacks for you."
"And then, Mom would come home and I'd be running around the house, and she'd think you were a miracle worker or something."
"Maybe I should've been a nurse, too. Even though you running around was just part of your natural energy."
"I think I'm the better nurse, Nate," Peter laughed. "Taking care of a sick little brother doesn't count as training."
"Counts for something, doesn't it? I mean, now I know what to do if I'm home with one of my boys and they're sick."
"Well, yeah. And you know what to do now that you're stuck with me. By the way, when do I get to leave the house?"
Nathan scoffed. "Not anytime soon, Pete. It's only been about five days. You're not ready to go out again."
Peter pouted a little, but soon he became tired again and more than willingly allowed Nathan to tuck him back into bed and lie with him as he went to sleep.
After about a week, Peter started getting restless. Nathan would often catch him trying to do simple things at first, like microwaving a frozen dinner or doing laundry. Then he tried to leave the house, and Nathan threw a fit about that. He barked at him, telling him that it was his duty to make sure nothing happened to Peter, and it would be a hell of a lot easier to do that if Peter would just stay put.
"Nathan," he begged. "I can't stand being in that bed all day. I need to go out. Please."
Nathan considered this for a moment, then sighed. "Alright. You can come with me on my morning walk. I usually jog, but I guess you can't do that right now. But the minute, no, the very second you get tired, we're coming back. Okay?"
Peter nodded, a crooked smile appearing on his face. "Then I guess we'll be walking for a long time."
They had been on the path in the park for almost thirty minutes, walking slowly but at an even pace and watching the other joggers and bikers. Nathan stopped occasionally to greet an acquaintance of his, and at those times, While Nathan was distracted, Peter would slowly edge away and take a short rest. His stamina was dropping, but he didn't want to go back yet. He couldn't stand the thought of being in that house all day long for another day.
Nathan, however, noticed this, and he casually quickened his pace until Peter was almost panting. If Peter wanted to play stubborn, Nathan was going to play right back. He soon began to feel guilty, however, when Peter's face turned red, his breaths quicker and more shallow than before.
"What?" he gasped. "Are we done already? 'Cause I'm not tired..."
"That's pretty lame, even for you, Pete," said Nathan, pulling his brother close. "I'll get a cab. Can you make it back to the park entrance?" Peter nodded, and Nathan helped him make his way back to the main street so he could hail a cab.
After two weeks had passed, after nightmares, morning walks, and spending time with each other, Nathan finally allowed Peter to come and go as he pleased instead of watching him every second. He still felt a little anxious about letting him go, but he knew that he couldn't keep a free spirit like Peter's caged up for too long. Peter also started using his powers again, as he had rebuilt his confidence in his control of them. He limited himself to little tasks at first, like moving cups around using telekinesis, then, after a few more days of practice, he worked on his flying.
Peter knew that soon, Nathan would have to go back to work, and that the time they'd spend together now would be limited, especially since Nathan had won the election. Nathan actually offered for Peter to move into the mansion with his family, saying it would be a good chance to see him a little more often, as well as spend time with his nephews. Peter politely declined, saying that he preferred to have his own apartment, but was thankful for the offer. He told Nathan that he would just stop by his office whenever they both had time, and maybe have lunch with him sometimes.
Nathan decided to make a better offer.
"And, in order to contribute to the effort to make our local medical facilities a better place, I, Nathan Petrelli, will help organize charity events to raise funds for the hospitals of New York City. Thank you."
The audience roared with applause as Nathan left the podium, flashing a bright smile at the crowd. As he ducked behind the curtains, Peter ran up and hugged him.
"Thanks for arranging for a new job for me, Nate," said Peter, grinning. "Pretty nice of you to start the charity events for my hospital, too."
"Eh, what can I say? Most of these hospitals really have turned to crap. So now I have a perfectly valid excuse to watch over you for a few more weeks." Nathan kissed his little brother's forehead, patting his back. "Now, I gotta go arrange some things and fill out some paperwork, then I'm going out to dinner with Heidi and the boys. Are you coming?"
"What do you think?" Peter smirked, and Nathan punched him lightly on the arm, then headed off to finish his work.
Maybe things could go back to "normal" for Peter after all. No matter what happened to him, though, he knew that his older brother would always look out for him, and the two would never take each other for granted ever again.