Title: The Lost Ones.

Author: Jubilee3 (Starvinbohemian).

Fandom: Heroes.

Pairing: Simon/Monty Petrelli.

Rating: R.

Summary: Petrellis keep their promises. Except when they don't.

WARNING: Petrellicest (a.k.a incest) for the next generation.

The Lost Ones

"I know I haven't been around, and I'm sorry about that. But I'm coming home. I promise. And what do Petrellis do when they make promises?"

"Keep them!"

— Nathan Petrelli, "The Kindness of Strangers."

It's the banging that jerks him awake.

He jolts up at the sound, having only just slumped over what he's pretty sure was a second ago. His head's already pounding, and the banging on the bars of his holding cell isn't helping.

"Rise and shine, Petrelli."

Simon bites back an acidic response. This guard has been hurling his name at him every chance he's had since Simon got processed, as if to make sure Simon knows that he didn't vote for Nathan Petrelli and his kid sure as hell isn't going to get any special treatment from him. Normally, Simon would applaud this pointless defiance, but he's been here for five hours already. Everything aches, and he just wants to go home.

"Your father's here," the guard informs him as he unlocks the gate.

Simon's head shoots up just as the ringing in his ears and the pounding of his head increase two-fold. "My father?"

"Here to bail his delinquent son out of the cooler. Aren't you lucky?" Simon doesn't think he's ever heard anyone put so much disdain into one word before. And he feels fairly far from lucky at the moment.

"I didn't call him," he says numbly.

"Like I care? Get going," the guard grunts, already walking away.

For just a moment, Simon considers stomping his feet like a petulant child and refusing to leave. His cell isn't so bad, really. Maybe the guard will respect him more for denying himself use of the legal exemption card his father's spent so much time cultivating.

"Petrelli, move your drunk ass!"

Yeah, right.

Simon sighs and slowly, carefully, rises to his feet. Just when he thinks it can't get any worse.

***

The hero Simon looks up to abruptly disappears after his father's accident.

No one bothers to explain what kind of accident it was exactly, but it doesn't really matter because they aren't allowed to talk about it after Nathan comes home. It soon becomes clear why.

They visit him in the hospital once and only once. He has been warned prior to the visit what to expect, but all the warnings in the world aren't enough to prepare him for the sight of his formerly handsome father. Simon only has a moment to be terrified by the horrific disfigurement before Nathan freaks out. They've interrupted his physical therapy, and by a cruel trick of fate, they arrive just as Nathan's legs buckle under the strain.

Looking back, he has to assume that it was all just too much to deal with, between the pain of the accident and the humiliating struggle through the physical therapy in front of his family. His father is good at absolutely everything he does, from court cases to building train sets. Now, he can barely walk. It's a long way to fall from so high.

He'll understand all of this later, but right now his father— with the face and the roar of a monster— is screaming, "Heidi, get them out of here! Get out!"

Startled into obedience, Heidi rushes them out of the room, clearly just as shaken by Nathan's rage as they are. Monty starts to cry, and he doesn't stop until they're back home again. Heidi tries to comfort him, but her voice keeps shaking and it's only making it worse. Her eyes dart around the room in a panicked way, as if their very recently former nanny will materialize from the darkness and help her. His little brother is prone to meltdowns, and Mandy has a talent for dealing with Monty when he's like this. It's been a hard adjustment for everyone since Mandy left, but their mom isn't in the wheelchair anymore so her services "are no longer required." Explaining that to Monty does not go over well.

Watching his family suffer an emotional meltdown sets off butterflies in his stomach, so Simon goes into his father's study to call Uncle Peter. He's scared, everyone's crying, and he really needs his uncle. The phone rings four times before going to the answering machine. He tries again three more times before finally giving up. Apparently, they're on their own.

When Nathan finally comes home a few weeks later, Simon and Monty find themselves fascinated by his seemingly magically-repaired face. They stare at him every chance they get, searching for some sign of the terrifying disfiguration, until Nathan finally snaps.

"Don't you have anything better to do?" he growls. His sons freeze. Everything they do these days seems to set him off, and they still aren't used to being frightened of their father.

"Nathan!" Heidi chastises, though it earns her a baleful stare from her husband.

"What is it, Heidi? Do you have something to say?" He starts pouring himself a drink, practically daring her to tell him to stop.

Her lips purse in such a way that tells Simon that she isn't used to being this frustrated either. Her eyes don't leave Nathan's face when she says, "Boys, why don't you go upstairs?"

These days, those are familiar key words. They don't have to be told twice. Simon and Monty are only halfway up the stairs by the time their parents start yelling. This is new, too, but their fights are quickly becoming commonplace. As is his father's drinking.

The closed door to Simon's bedroom doesn't block out their screaming, but the headphones to his iPod usually do the trick. Monty is already starting to look wet around the eyes, so Simon gently places an ear piece in each of his ears.

"What the fuck do you want from me, Heidi?"

They both flinch. Simon cranks up the volume, but just to be sure, he also places a hand over each of Monty's ears.

They stay that way for a long time.

***

They live in a tenuous stasis for two months before it all comes falling down. The last straw is really Simon's fault.

He's fallen back into old patterns, and there's shattered glass at his feet. He couldn't have chosen a worse time. His dad's two hours into the bottle, and tempers are already stretched thin from another fight between his parents. This time, it's about Uncle Peter. Where is he, and why won't Nathan talk about him? He's obviously tied into all this somehow.

Simon has had enough of the tension in their house. He feels like a rubber band, ready to snap. It's almost an involuntary spasm when his arm knocks the "priceless" Faberge egg from the shelf.

The sound brings Nathan, red-eyed and unbalanced, out of his study. It takes a moment for him to connect his frozen son to the pile of no-longer-priceless glass and gems at his feet. Simon knows when he's made the connection because anger abruptly clouds over his face.

Suddenly afraid and remorseful, Simon tries to run, but even in his inebriated state, Nathan is quicker than him. He grabs Simon's arm too hard, yanking him back in such a way that Simon first feels a pop in his arm and then there's pain. A lot of pain. He wails.

"Daddy, don't!"

They both spin around to see Monty and Heidi standing in the doorway, back from the dentist just in time to see Nathan break his eldest son's arm.

Nathan stares down at him in horror, and then he drops Simon like a hot coal, backing away as if he were the scared one. Monty, his pint-sized savior, is instantly at Simon's side. "Are you okay?"

Simon can't speak. He's too busy staring between his parents. If he thought the tension was high before…

Their dad doesn't even show up to contest Heidi's protection order. In lieu of a babysitter, he and Monty sit in the back row of the courthouse, trying to make themselves appear smaller. Simon's arm is itchy inside his cast. He wraps his free arm around Monty's shoulders, but his arm feels too short and too light for the gesture. This is the best he can do for him under the circumstances, and Simon is so very, very sorry. This is all his fault, and he's too much of a coward to say it aloud when it counts.

The judge grants Heidi full custody with the added bonus of making sure that Nathan isn't allowed within three-hundred feet of his children. But three-hundred feet apparently isn't enough for Heidi, because she promptly moves them all several states away.

***

Things change drastically for Simon after the move to Washington D.C., aside from the obvious fact that he never sees his dad.

While Monty gets enrolled in everything he was involved with in New York— soccer, piano lessons, and whatever the hell else— Simon loses interest in his former pursuits. Weighed down by guilt and resentment, he becomes withdrawn and sullen.

His grandmother is surprisingly supportive of the move, so much so that he suspects the whole thing was her idea. She even makes a huge donation to a wealthy private school to make sure that Simon and Monty have a place, despite the mid-semester move. It must have been a huge donation, because even in an exclusive school full of senators' children, they stand out. In a way, this makes it easier for Simon to remain pissed off at the world.

It's hard to make friends when you're in a perpetually bad mood, and he gets sent to detention on a weekly basis until the kids finally learn not to mess with him.

His mother has it hard enough as it is without having to deal with him, too, but her confusion and disappointment just drive him on. They go round and round in a vicious circle, and his mother cries a lot these days. But what really grates on his nerves is that Monty is disappointed in him, too.

Monty is more subtle in his approach, though. Less crying (for once) and more gentle, hopefully unconscious, manipulation. They're watching television when he leans his head on Simon's shoulder. He waits until there's a hand threading absently through his hair before he strikes with that solemn tone. "Why are you acting like this?" he asks, sounding genuinely curious.

Simon doesn't know what drives him. He doesn't mean to be a problem. He just feels angry all the time.

Days stretch into weeks, and weeks stretch into months. Then, their father shows up at their school. Four months and they haven't seen or heard from him.

In an instant, Simon sheds his melancholy like an unwanted sweater. When his father grins at him, the months melt away and it's like they never happened. Like he doesn't blame Simon for messing everything up.

He tells them that their grandmother is in the hospital.

Simon is momentarily thrown by this news. A miracle brought their dad back to them, but it seems to have come at a cost. "Is she okay?"

"Yeah, she's gonna be fine. But when you get home, I want you to get your mommy to help you call her, okay, cause I know she's gonna want to hear from you."

"Okay," Monty answers for both of them.

"I know I haven't been around," he tells them, "and I'm sorry about that. But I'm coming home. I promise. And what do Petrellis do when they make promises?"

"Keep them!" they chorus.

The reunion is regrettably brief because Monty's teacher suddenly materializes behind them. She's understandably frazzled over finding one of her students talking to a strange man on the street. "Can I help you?"

"I'm their father," he tries to explain. Oddly, his explanation seems to upset her more. Simon feels a horrible crushing weight on his chest when she reminds him that he's not supposed to be there, because it really is his fault. If only he hadn't baited his father that day…

The fact that his father is so clearly struggling to maintain some remnants of pride with so little afforded to him in this moment only makes Simon feel a thousand times worse. "Go ahead," he says, smile now forced.

Monty isn't going easily, not after so long in exile. "No, I want to stay with you!"

"It's okay." He even winks, as if this isn't absolutely humiliating for him. "Go on."

Monty's teacher manages to drag him away, leaving Simon alone with his father. They stare at one another for a long moment before Nathan's hand folds over his on the bar. Simon almost cries.

"See you soon, okay?"

It's not the first lie his father ever tells him, but it's definitely the worst.

***

More times passes, and Simon eventually has to face the fact that he's been viciously lied to. Not only does Nathan not come home, but they enter into another long period of heavy silence. No phone calls, no visits, no nothing.

Finally growing out of his tantrums, Monty bears it all with a quiet acceptance that gradually becomes his general attitude about most things. A kid takes his lunch money? He just sighs and goes to share Simon's lunch. Their father "forgets" to call? He shakes his head and tries— futilely— to distract his mom and Simon from noticing. This passive strategy works as a coping mechanism for just about everything except Simon himself. Monty can't just walk away from or ignore his brother; rather, he compulsively follows Simon around much like Uncle Peter used to follow their dad.

Simon rebounds from the disappointment of their father's continued absence about as well as can be expected. At some point, he stops feeling sad and guilty, and he just becomes angry.

It's no longer a compliment to be reminded of how much he looks like his father. He starts to assume that there's a subtext to the dubious compliment, like people can see that monster he remembers from the hospital inside of him. The kind of monster who drinks and hurts his family and then disappears, leaving everyone else to deal with his mess. Monty at least has their mother's eyes and hair that seems to lighten more and more every day. When Simon looks in the mirror, he sees nothing of his mother. Only his father. A Petrelli all around. And the association makes him want to hit something.

Eventually, he gets it into his head that his resemblance to his father must upset his mother. She doesn't like to talk about him, but he sometimes hears her crying in her room when they're supposed to be asleep. In a spontaneous moment born of sheer frustration, he attempts to dye his hair blue.

His act of mercy does not go over well. His debut is met with horrified silence from both Monty and his mom as he stands, defiantly proud, before them. His moment doesn't last because Heidi, after getting over her shock, immediately drags him into the bathroom to scrub out the dye. He's made to stand in his swimming trunks while she attacks his head with a disturbing fervor.

"You're so handsome," she says. "Why would you do this?"

She can't get all of the dye out— possibly because Simon, in lieu of actual dye, used Easter egg dye from the grocery store that he managed to sneak into the cart when she wasn't looking. He ends up having to go to school with pool-green hair, which leads to more fights and more detention.

***

Simon finds out about his father's shooting when he walks in on his mother crying in front of the television.

He registers her crying before he realizes that his father's face is on the television.

"Why didn't anybody call me?" Heidi demands into the telephone. "I'm his wife, damn it! Yes, I know that, Angela. But he was shot! He could have been killed, and no one thought that me and the boys should be kept in the loop?"

On the television screen, his father is shot over and over again.

"Uncle Peter's there," he mumbles absently. She doesn't hear him.

"What do you mean 'sit tight'? How am I— What about the boys? He doesn't even—? They're his sons, Angela."

Monty suddenly appears at his side, a red popsicle sticking out of his mouth. The stain makes his lips look swollen. "Why is Uncle Peter on the television?"

"Dad got shot." He has no idea why Uncle Peter is there. Uncle Peter is supposed to be missing.

"I just— Fine. I know that you're— Will you at least keep me updated? Okay, just make sure that he knows that the boys and I… Okay. Bye."

Heidi slumps down onto the couch, staring, defeated, at the silent telephone in her hand.

Simon realizes that the horrible beard is gone from his father's face just as Monty's hand clamps down painfully on his arm. "Someone shot Dad?"

It's true that Simon could have put it more delicately. But he didn't. He feels as if he's underwater, and Monty's mouth is moving, but he can't make out the words.

Monty's distress seems to snap their mother out of her stupor. She clicks off the television and rushes to reassure her son. Gone are the days when they would all look around for Mandy during times of crisis. Back in her element and free from the overwhelming force that is their grandmother, her words roll over them like a warm current. "He's okay, baby. He's all right. Your daddy's fine. He's in the hospital, but he's okay. The doctors saved his life."

Simon moves across the room and switches the television back on just in time to see his father die again. Wait, not die. He's alive. Mom just said that, didn't she?

"Are we going to see him?" Monty asks.

An expression that can only be called agony passes over her face. "Um, no, honey. We're not. Your grandmother… Well, we think it's best if your daddy gets enough rest so that he can get better. We want him to get better, right?"

"I guess…"

Convincing Monty is only half the battle. "Simon? You understand, don't you?"

Simon just grunts as he mentally shakes off his grandmother's regurgitated reasoning. His mother doesn't really believe it, so why should he? Nonetheless, it somehow feels right that they're not going to see him in person. Nathan Petrelli exists for them mainly in bylines anyway.

Simon probably won't feel that way once the fog clears from his head, but for now, he watches in detached fascination as Uncle Peter catches his falling father over and over again.

***

During the five long hours in his cell that Simon has to stew over the ruin that is his life, he's surprised by how many times his mind comes back to his uncle. Even now, as he shuffles down the corridor to where his father is waiting, he's thinking about him. Maybe because he's such a mystery to Simon. One day there, the next day gone. He disappears with an efficiency Simon's father must envy.

Or maybe it's because there was a time not so long ago that Simon missed his uncle like a missing limb.

Once upon a time, he writes some stupid essay for school about how Uncle Peter is his favorite person. His mother thinks it's adorable, he remembers, and shows the essay to his father, who reads it over with a frown on his face. When he realizes Simon's watching, he chuckles indulgently and says, "We'll show this to your uncle next time he comes over, huh, pal?" His dad is smiling, but Simon gets the distinct impression that he's done something wrong.

Even as a little kid, Simon knows that his father is one of those "big personalities" that always has a way of sucking up all the attention in the room like a black hole. Nathan Petrelli stands at the center of every room.

Simon doesn't really care about most grown-ups ignoring him in favor of his father. Why should he? They're all boring anyway. But Uncle Peter is a different story. Unfortunately, he follows his dad around as if following a beacon, so sometimes Simon has to work a little harder to get (and keep) his attention. The sacrifice of an expensive vase or piece of crystal is worth it. And when he gets scolded, he takes advantage and runs to Uncle Peter for comfort. Even then, Simon gets a small thrill from the way his father's nostrils flare in annoyance.

"Thanks for the support, Pete," he says.

Uncle Peter rolls his eyes at Simon (and maybe at Nathan, too), but he only half-heartedly attempts to disentangle Simon from his waist. Then, he sneaks him into the kitchen for a consolation treat as soon as his parents are no longer paying attention.

He's given a wink as he's handed a spoon. "Chocolate ice cream is the favored Petrelli coping mechanism. At least, it's mine."

Sometimes they get caught, but Uncle Peter just gives Dad "the face" and says, "Come on, Nathan." His dad scowls, but Simon knows that Uncle Peter's won. He usually does.

The effortless power of his uncle is something Simon has never been able to duplicate, but he sees it sometimes in Monty. It makes him wary. People like Uncle Peter and Monty are dangerous if you don't know the warning signs. At least with political sharks like his father you know that you're probably being manipulated. He takes comfort in the fact that Monty would never pretend to care about him if he really didn't. He's too sincere for that. No, he needs Simon.

But Uncle Peter eventually fades away just like everything else associated with his father. One day, he's just gone. No more visits, no more calls. Just gone. No one seems to have any idea where he went or else they just won't admit it. Simon figures that if anyone knows the truth, then it's his grandmother, but she remains tight-lipped and Simon has too much pride to beg her for his phone number. Anyway, he figures that if Uncle Peter never calls or visits, then he obviously doesn't care how or what they're doing.

This understanding occurs simultaneously with the first time that he sees more than a physical resemblance between his father and his uncle. Apparently, a Petrelli is a Petrelli no matter what shade they come in. No matter how much you love them, they always let you down in the end.

Simon is no exception.

***

Around the same time as their father's highly publicized return to politics— and his bizarre religious conversion— their mother starts to date again.

His name is Joe, and he has the same strong jaw and intense eyes as their father. He's a lobbyist, and they meet at some fundraiser. Simon hates him. They get into fights all the time. For once, Monty agrees with him, but Simon suspects that he only dislikes Joe out of some misplaced loyalty to their father. After months of blistering silence, Simon really doubts that their father cares.

Simon knows that his mother deserves to be happy, but this guy is such a tool. He just appears one day, and he's automatically Father Knows Best, always lecturing Simon about everything he's doing wrong and how much he's hurting his family with his behavior. What the hell does Joe know about his family?

He would feel guilty about sabotaging his mother's happiness except that he doesn't believe she really loves Joe anyway. She watches the news channels almost compulsively, and he would bet his Gameboy that it's because they're all covering his father. Joe is only a diversion.

But as much as he dislikes Joe, Simon resents Nathan's residual hold over his mother more. He's like a disease she can't rid herself of. Maybe she doesn't even want to be free of him.

Simon does.

***

Simon is fourteen the first time he gets into serious trouble with the law.

Bored of his solitary sulking, he's fallen in with a rough crowd— well, as rough as he can find at an elite private school for barely adolescent boys— and they've broken into some random person's house. They're eating popsicles straight from the fridge and high-fiving each other when they hear a police siren. Apparently, a group of rowdy fourteen-year-olds do not make the most stealthy of thieves.

His mother has to come collect him at the police station. She's so upset she can barely speak, and her hands are shaking when she signs the forms to get him released. Monty's been dragged along for the fun after being checked out of school early because, yeah, Simon cut class, too, to commit his juvenile delinquency. He looks scared. Simon doesn't know why. He was the one who got arrested, and he isn't afraid. He feels reckless. And alive. Like there's something moving under his skin.

Monty is so sensitive sometimes that he wonders how he sprang from the same gene pool. No matter how much Simon tries to encourage a thicker shell, he just doesn't get it. When Monty is sad or angry, then he's sad or angry and he doesn't know the art of pretending to be otherwise. Or maybe he does know, but he purposely leaves himself exposed if only to prove Simon wrong, that it doesn't have to be the way he thinks it does.

He's a lot like their mom and in ways that Simon can never be. For all her bravado, Heidi Petrelli really isn't one of them and she never was. She's too bright and pure— like Monty. She doesn't get that moving them across several states isn't going to free her sons from their legacy.

Heidi doesn't talk to Simon even after they're home. But she must have spoken to someone, because an unforeseen side effect of his travail is that he gets a phone call from his father.

It isn't the first conversation they've had since that day at Simon and Monty's school, but it's been weeks since his last call. Politicians are busy people. Simon gets that. He does. But it doesn't make him any less annoyed that he's expected to drop everything the second his father remembers that he used to have a family.

During this particular phone call, Nathan mostly yells, and Simon mostly listens, but it's hard to convey his sense of shame when his father won't stop complaining about all the favors he had to call in on his wayward son's behalf in order to make sure that this never shows up on his record.

By the time that Nathan actually pauses for breath, Simon has already put the phone down and escaped to his bedroom. One of the benefits of having an absent father is that he doesn't have to listen to his lectures.

His arrest is apparently a wake-up call for his mother. Until now, her own guilt over their situation has kept her from employing a firmer hand to curb Simon's behavior. That's over now. Nathan's reach has proven to be too short, so it's up to her to be proactive.

She bids farewell to Joe and promptly moves her sons back to New York. For better or worse.

***

Being back in New York City is a mixed bag of victory and defeat.

Simon hated D.C., but he's not terribly fond of New York City either. The buildings are too tall, the people too brusque, and Simon feels small, sucked up and swallowed under, here. This is his father's city. But in an unexpected twist it also ends up being the home of Simon's own political awakening.

It starts when Simon takes pity on his mother and finds himself a friend at his new school that comes complete with a parental approval guaranteed sticker. Jimmy doesn't smoke, drink, or possess any priors, just an unhealthy love for basketball. He isn't impressed by Simon's brief tangle with the law, but they love the same video games. Simon feels less compelled to disrupt the classes in which he has Jimmy sitting next to him to distract instead.

Jimmy is almost ideal for bringing home to the family, so to speak. Almost. He would be if it weren't for his father.

Jimmy's father, Frank, is a political radical, outspoken in his fight for the rights of the newly discovered "evolved humans," or those with "heightened" abilities. People who can jump higher or dive deeper or whatever. He overhears some nut on one of his mother's news programs insist that it's a government conspiracy to make American sports teams superior for the Olympics. Simon hasn't given it much thought at all. What difference does it make to him if there are even more people out there who can boss him at basketball? Jimmy takes care of that all on his own.

The cause is new, just recently projected into the public eye, but Jimmy's father is already at the center of it. His face is all over the newspapers.

What initially bonds them is that Jimmy seems just as uncomfortable with his father's politics as Simon is with his. Apparently, they get a lot of threatening phone calls in the middle of the night. Frank isn't intimidated. "All in a day's work for a revolutionary," he says to Simon, grinning roguishly while Jimmy rolls his eyes.

Simon is just starting to settle into his life again when everything comes tumbling down. Technically, Jimmy's life crumbles first, and it causes a domino effect that quickly reaches Simon.

He's at school, minding his own business for once, when his new friend comes storming up to his locker.

"Petrelli!" he yells, as if Simon hadn't noticed him barreling up.

Instinctively, Simon prepares himself for a punch. This is hardly the first time someone has come up on him like this. He doesn't know what he did this time, but it must have been bad if his usually mild friend has that expression on his face.

The punch doesn't come. Instead, the boy hovers over him, breathing hard and radiating anger and pain in a way that makes Simon really wish that he knew what he did to cause this. He's been having a pretty uneventful morning up till this point. Maybe something he did yesterday?

When the silence just stretches on and on, Simon has no choice but to break it himself. "Um. Hey?"

"My dad," Jimmy finally says.

Simon sucks in a breath of relief. Maybe this has nothing to do with him after all. "Is he okay?"

That's the wrong question to ask. Jimmy does throw a punch even though it's directed at the lockers. "Your dad," he hisses.

Your. Dad. It's as if those two words are the only indictments he needs. But Simon isn't used to his father offending people outside the family. "What about him?"

"My dad was always talking about how politicians like your dad are Nazis and how they're gonna start rounding up all the people who are different or who disagree with what the government is doing."

He pauses as if to let Simon try to deny it. But Simon can't deny anything when he has no idea what the guy is talking about. He feels queasy, though, and the overwhelming urge to run away. He won't, though, because Petrellis don't run away from a fight. At least, he doesn't think so. He never has anyway.

Jimmy is getting more frustrated with Simon by the second. "My dad is gone! They took him!"

"Who took him?"

"The government! Your dad!"

Now Simon knows this kid is crazy. His father is a lot of things, but he's no kidnapper. "You're nuts."

Jimmy finally snaps and shoves Simon so hard that he bounces off the lockers behind him. "Fuck you and fuck your dad," he says.

Normally, this would be the part where Simon throws a punch. But the kid looks as if he's going to cry. So he just watches him storm away.

Simon goes home that afternoon and runs a Google search for the first time on his dad. Tons of sites come up, and he reads until he fears his eyes will fall out. He finds several scientific journals that he barely understands and a link to a video of people being led away in orange jump suits.

Something dies inside of Simon, a naivety he didn't even know he possessed.

***

Jimmy won't talk to him anymore, but that isn't the end of it for Simon. His Google search leads to the discovery of a group of students at Columbia who are performing protests on behalf of the "evolved humans."

His first few meetings, he sits in the back, trying not to call attention to himself as he soaks up the excited atmosphere and all the new information. There's so much more going on than he ever would have guessed. The students are passionate, if unorganized.

It takes him a few meetings before he builds up the courage to approach the president. The twenty-year-old Poli-Sci major looks him up and down skeptically. Simon knows that he's being judged on his age, but there's nothing he can do about that. Simon's sprung up in the last few years, but there's still no way that he passes for college-age. He almost leaves in defeat, but then the president happens to place Simon's last name.

Suddenly, he's in. Apparently the temptation of having Nathan Petrelli's son as a mascot is too great to resist. The irony is not lost on him.

Over the next two years, Simon works his ass off trying to make a difference, to atone for his father.

He goes straight from school to the Columbia library where his fellow activists meet three days a week. Sometimes— or a lot of the time— he skips school to avoid missing a meeting or a demonstration. It's not a big deal. He learns more things that actually matter when he's with the group than he would have trapped in a tiny classroom anyway. Who cares about Mark Twain when a building in Brooklyn supposedly housing numerous evolved people was burned down under suspicious circumstances last month or when entire families have suddenly disappeared into the night?

Simon is sincere in his passion, and after awhile the older group members stop treating him like a kid and more like a brother in arms. They should because despite his age, Simon, finally finding an outlet for his anxious energy, brings an organization and a focus to the group that wasn't there before him.

His family isn't exactly supportive.

"You have no idea what you're doing," Nathan tells him on the phone, maddeningly condescending. "It's not cute anymore, Simon."

He'd be lying if he said that Nathan's disapproval and the idea that maybe he's causing some discomfort for his father in the political arena don't appeal. His father would actually have to be around for more than two seconds at a time if he wants to enforce his will on his sons.

"You should listen to your father. There are better ways to combat a problem than screaming at it in a public place," Angela says, barely paying attention to him as she scans her morning newspaper. "Politicians know that you have to work behind the scenes if you ever want to enact real change."

Simon isn't a behind-the-scenes kind of guy, and he has no interest in following his father into politics. Ever. It's a corrupt game that only the corrupted can win. He tells her as much, but she just rolls her eyes and mutters something about stupid children and Uncle Peter.

Heidi is the exception, as she typically is. She constantly nags him about his dropping grades, but she can't fully discourage him when Simon is finally channeling his energies in such a way that doesn't land him in the nurse's office on a regular basis. "As long as you're happy," she says warily. Simon loves her a thousand times more when she offers to actually participate in one of his demonstrations in Central Park, but he doesn't take her up on it. He'll never forget how Jimmy's dad was singled out for his visibility in the movement. He's already lost one parent.

Simon meets his first evolved humans through the group. He also meets his first girlfriend. The two events are not unrelated.

Her name is Sarah. She has big brown eyes and hair the same shade of honey blonde as Monty. They meet at a protest. She's two years older than him, but she comments all the time on how mature he is, probably to justify the age difference. Simon doesn't care what she has to tell herself as long as she keeps seeing him.

Sarah can manipulate water. She'll take a bowl of water and create shapes that dance around Simon's head like liquid dreams. Her kisses taste of orange soda and popcorn, and they're the greatest thing in the world.

He ends up dividing his time between school, the group, and Sarah with little time to spare in between. Balancing everything leaves him exhausted but exhilarated.

Monty becomes sulky and withdrawn around this time as he takes up the angsty teenager mantel Simon discarded to become an ardent activist. He quits playing soccer after school and disappears into his room for hours at a time. Strange clinking noises can be heard coming from within, and if Simon didn't know any better, then he'd think that Monty was building something in there. Simon takes a look one day, but the only thing he sees is a big pile of change and some magnets. Weird, but not panic-inducing.

"I think he just misses his brother," Heidi says, smiling indulgently. "Couldn't you take him with you to some of your meetings?"

He won't. The group and Sarah are the only things in the world that solely belong to Simon, and he absolutely refuses to mix them up with his family. Sarah has never met anyone from his family— the very idea of introducing his free-spirited Sarah to his high society grandmother is laughable— and that's the way it's gonna stay if he has anything to say about it.

Monty is just a shadow on his periphery right now, but he's aware of the way that Monty's eyes follow him everywhere, full of scorching hot accusation and something else entirely. His little brother is becoming a very intense young man and in ways that are entirely different from Simon. He doesn't always know how to handle him anymore, but he gets the distinct impression that Monty feels as if he's being left behind.

Simon would tell him differently if he could just find the time.

***

Once more, Simon is just starting to feel comfortable when everything gets shaken up again.

He's walking home from a meeting one day when he sees a black car parked across the street from his house. There's nothing conspicuous about the car, but something about it gives Simon pause. He can't put his finger on what it is, so he continues on his way and soon forgets about it entirely.

The next time he sees the car, he's too distracted by his own inner turmoil to really pay much attention. It's pretty much the worst day of his life. He discovers that he's been dumped for an older man when he walks in on Sarah and Brian, the Poli-Sci president, kissing in her bedroom. Apparently, Sarah's spirit is a little too free.

Within the course of maybe two minutes, Simon burns all of his bridges. Furious and hurting, he breaks Brian's nose and subsequently gets himself kicked out of his activist group. It could have been over at that, but Simon is running on rage fumes as he blindly makes his way home, and he ends up (literally) bumping into the wrong guy. He throws a punch before he even sees the guy's face, let alone registers the massive friends he has with him.

Monty is in the music room when he gets home. His eyes widen in alarm at the sight of his brother. "Simon!"

"It's not as bad as it looks," he lies. Even the soft sofa aggravates his bruised body as he carefully lowers himself onto it, but he's strangely thankful for the pain. It temporarily keeps him out of his own head. "Keep playing."

Monty half-rises as if to come closer, but Simon snaps, "Damn it, Monty, just play."

Monty looks reluctant, and Simon doesn't really blame him. He's bleeding all over the sofa.

But for whatever reason, Monty bends, gives in just as Simon knows he will, and the mournful notes of "Moonlight Sonata" soon flow from the piano. Simon closes his eyes and just breathes.

Monty plays the piano beautifully. Back before the move to D.C., they both took lessons, but Simon whined and complained until his mother gave in and let him quit. He doesn't have the patience to sit still long enough to learn an instrument.

But Monty loves the piano, and it's a good thing because he's really talented. Simon likes to lie on the couch in the music room just as he is now and listen to him play for hours. He'll bring in books and things under the pretense of wanting space to do homework, but it's a silly ruse. They both know he doesn't care about his homework.

After a moment, he realizes that the music has stopped. He opens his eyes to see Monty standing over him with a wash cloth. He sits up without a word and allows Monty room to sit, and then he lowers his head back into his brother's lap. The warm water on his face feels heavenly— except for when it stings like a bitch.

Monty runs his free hand through Simon's hair and over his temple. The gentle touch reminds him of Sarah, and he has to bite his lip against the pain the association wells up.

"She broke up with me," he blurts out.

Monty's hand pauses stroking his hair. "Oh. I'm sorry."

"Are you?"

Monty frowns. "I just said I was. Simon, I thought you were done fighting."

"One more for the road," he jokes.

Monty sighs and resumes stroking his hair. "You're just like dad, you know."

Simon grabs his arm, suddenly angry again. "I know you didn't just say that."

"It's true," Monty says serenely. "You're both passive-aggressively self-destructive. Dad drank so that he'd have an excuse to push us away. You get into fights to punish him."

"Well, thanks, Dr. Phil," he says snidely, "but too bad that you don't know what the fuck you're talking about. Fights aren't passive-aggressive."

"They are when you bait someone else to hit you so that you don't have to confront the person you really want to fight. Or when you're just trying to get his attention. Dad's, I mean."

"Fuck you, Monty."

Monty continues as if he can't hear him, his hands clutching the stained cloth in white knuckles. "Sometimes, I think you're going to disappear, too," he says. "Like you'll never be happy until you've finally pushed it too far and ended up in jail or dead."

"I'm not going anywhere."

"You're lying."

He is. The second Simon turns eighteen, he is out of here. He won't join the Army, and he doesn't think there's a creditable college that would take him at this point. But there is an inheritance, and it's all his when he turns eighteen. His grandfather set it up for him when Simon was born.

Simon thinks he'll travel. Where doesn't matter. Maybe he'll send postcards to Mom and Monty from all of the exotic places he visits. Or maybe he won't. Maybe he'll take a lesson from his father and just evaporate from their lives. Though, Nathan hasn't even done that right. Like the salt left behind from evaporated sea water, Nathan still leaves traces of himself everywhere he goes. He's a ghost in their home, except for when he randomly pops up in the flesh every so often just to remind them that they'll never be free of him.

No, much as he's tempted, Simon will never disappear completely. He can't. His mother and Monty would never forgive him. Aside from that, Simon would miss them. Hell, he'd miss his grandmother, too, despite the way that she constantly nags him. The ties that bind and all that.

But that doesn't mean that he's going to let them tie him down and especially not to New York City, the enforced (upon him) Petrelli hub. He'll go wherever he wants, be his own person. Simon is going to be free if it kills him. He likes to tell himself that leaving isn't the same thing as running away. Certainly not from Monty.

"Simon?" Monty says, pulling him back from the Mexican beaches and African savannahs that his mind has flown off to.

"Hmn?"

Monty hesitates. His fingers briefly tangle in his hair until Simon, wincing, pulls away. "What is it?"

"What if… What if I… Um…"

His brother forces him to be patient, stalling as he mentally works out what he wants to say. Simon can't imagine what could be so difficult. He's had his heart ripped out and his kidneys kicked in today, but he'll always be there when his brother needs him. Monty has no secrets from him, and if Simon keeps some things to himself, then it's for his brother's own good. He's so sensitive sometimes, and there are things that Simon's done— stupid things— that Monty doesn't need to be worrying about.

Monty is his harbor, and harbors need to be kept safe. He may drift away for a little while, but he always comes back. "What is it?" he repeats.

Monty sighs in frustration, as if he wants Simon to just read his mind already. Now annoyed himself, Simon grips Monty's chin, forcing him to look at Simon directly. They share a stare for a long time as Monty searches for something in his eyes. It goes on for too long, and Simon abruptly realizes how close they are. Monty's hair is almost brushing Simon's forehead as he leans over him. They're close enough that Monty could whisper his question, and only Simon would hear. A knot forms in his stomach.

Simon is about to pull away when Monty abruptly releases him from their staring contest. There's something on the tip of his brother's tongue, but he never hears what it is.

"Nothing."

***

Simon has had everything taken away from him in the course of one afternoon, so the only obvious recourse is to get stinking drunk. And Heidi isn't home.

It's not as simple as a trip to the liquor cabinet as it once would have been. Ever since his father moved out, Heidi hasn't allowed so much as a drop of alcohol into the house. Luckily, Simon has prepared for such an occasion by stealing a bottle of his grandmother's vodka. You can always count on a Petrelli to have a stocked liquor cabinet.

"Do we have to do this?" Monty asks.

"You don't have to do anything," Simon says, pouring himself a shot's worth of vodka into a mug in lieu of actual shot glasses. "You can leave if you don't want to drink with me."

He doesn't wait for a response before pouring another shot for Monty. He performs this song and dance every time, but they both know that he isn't going anywhere.

Simon downs his first shot. "Just eat your strawberries." It's the best he can do in regard to a chaser since their fridge is more or less empty at the moment.

Simon doesn't need a chaser, and it's lucky for him because he's allergic to strawberries. Naturally, this means that he has a pathological interest in them. It drives him absolutely crazy knowing that there's something out there that he absolutely cannot have. But he isn't a masochist, and it really is a coincidence that they're all he has to offer Monty.

Several shots later, Simon and Monty are slumped against each other on the floor. Monty's free hand is tracing over his face as he sucks on a vodka-dipped strawberry. He's been doing that for a long time now. Simon is too drunk to do anything other than giggle and occasionally mumble something about Sarah. The more he drinks, the more he watches Monty's mouth as the strawberry slides in and out. His lips are stained a brazen red. It makes him giggle harder.

Monty snuggles closer to Simon, pressing his face against his brother's neck. His cheek is warm. "I'm glad she dumped you," he murmurs.

Simon clumsily pats his head. Monty is lying across his arm, making the gesture difficult. "I know."

"I never got to see you."

"S'okay," he slurs. The world is spinning pleasantly, and Simon is too drunk to be upset. How Monty is still forming whole sentences is a mystery to him. He matched Simon shot for shot. At least, Simon thinks he did. He doesn't really remember much after the fourth one or so… For instance, he doesn't know how they ended up all tangled together like this.

Monty drops his strawberry so that he can slide his hand over Simon's cheek. His fingers leave a sticky trail on his skin. "I missed you."

Simon rolls over so that he's facing Monty. His brother blinks surprisingly lucid eyes at him as Simon's hand covers his heart. When they used to visit Uncle Peter's apartment, he sometimes let Simon listen to Monty's heartbeat through the stethoscope. He doesn't know why that comes to mind all of a sudden.

Monty tilts Simon's head down so that their foreheads are resting together. "I love you, Simon."

Simon laughs. If nothing else, he knows that much. He drops a kiss on Monty's nose, expecting him to laugh at the sloppy gesture. Monty doesn't laugh. He cranes his neck so that he can press a kiss to Simon's cheek. In turn, Simon drops his mouth to his brother's neck. Monty makes a funny noise in his throat, causing a vibration under Simon's lips. He laughs again as Monty grips his hair so hard that he feels the tug all the way to the roots. The sting of it reaches him even through his vodka cloud, but he's still grinning. He feels giddy, warm, and kind of outside himself. All this touching is almost a game, but there's no way to tell who's winning.

Well, there isn't until Monty presses his strawberry-stained lips to Simon's.

***

Simon has a royal hangover when he wakes up the next day.

His body screams in protest as he rolls over and blinks blurry eyes around his bedroom. He doesn't remember going to bed. He doesn't remember much. Well, not much beyond the fact that he's never going to see Sarah again.

Simon's mouth tastes like wax and cotton, and it's unpleasant enough to propel him out of bed, through a nasty cloud of vertigo, and into the bathroom. He's scrubbing at his teeth with his toothbrush when he's suddenly hit with the memory of warm hands on his face, kisses that seem to go on forever, and a sweet-flavored tongue that slides against his.

Simon chokes on his own spit. Panicked eyes meet his in the mirror above the sink. He didn't think it was possible to feel sicker. Did he…?

No, he realizes. He didn't. He couldn't have. Simon is a lot of things, but he's not… There's no way. The pounding of his heart eases as his mind insists that it's all too hazy to have been real. The alcohol messed with his head. A fever dream.

Simon rinses out his mouth and leaves the bathroom and his burgeoning panic attack behind. Unfortunately, he can't leave the nausea behind, but that's okay because he's fine. Everything's fine. Nothing has changed.

It's probably that masochistic streak he supposedly doesn't have that drives him to his bedroom window. He pulls back the curtain, wincing against the bright sunshine. It's a nice day. And that black car is there again.

Maybe a little late, but it finally occurs to Simon that his house is being staked out. He doesn't know why, but that black car has become a regular feature outside their home. He feels a paranoid, sinking sensation in his gut. This is it. Jimmy's dad all over again. But this time they've come for Simon. He wouldn't have thought himself important enough to warrant this—he's still in high school for crissakes— but maybe he's been naïve to think he can do whatever he wants without any repercussions. Oh, no, was he father actually right?

Simon sets the drapes back so that they're covering his window and then he high-tails it out of his bedroom.

"Mom!" he yells, bursting into her bedroom with no real idea what he's going to say. It turns out not to matter, because her room is empty. Simon backpedals and dashes downstairs to find her, but Heidi isn't in the kitchen or the living room. She's nowhere. Simon is starting to feel the onset of a panic attack when he hears a noise from upstairs.

He checks Monty's room first, but he ultimately finds him in the computer room. Simon takes a moment to breathe through his unnamed panic— why shouldn't his mother or Monty still be here?— before he realizes what his brother is doing.

Monty is looking at their father's webpage. Simon had momentarily forgotten his hangover, but the full weight of it crushes down on him again, and he sags a little against the door. He doesn't mean for his voice to go all quiet and menacing when he says, "What the hell are you doing?"

Monty jumps as if he'd screamed. "Um."

For no real reason, Simon feels his hands clench at his sides.

"I was just wondering what he was doing," his brother says, looking ashamed.

He should be ashamed, Simon thinks, feeling oddly betrayed. Looking at their dad's political site for anything other than ammunition is pathetic. They shouldn't have to browse websites to see their dad. Not to mention that it's just weird that their family information is all over the internet.

Their family information is all over the internet. And just like that, his panic breathes life again. "Where's Mom?" he demands.

Monty shrugs. "Store, I think."

Is it still safe to go to the store? Would they even target her? Simon doesn't know. He needs to talk to somebody. He needs help.

Nathan's smiling face on the computer screen seems to be mocking him. See what you've done now, his visage says. Don't you wish you could ask for my help?

Simon wants to smash the screen in and then he wants to make a follow-up of punching Monty for being this pathetic. Why doesn't he understand that Nathan has ruined Simon's life?

But standing here, near his brother, Simon starts to feel a little silly. So what if there's a black car parked outside? Maybe one of the neighbors bought a new car. Why should he jump to the most paranoid conclusion just from that? He really isn't so important that the government should want to kill him. Right?

"Are you mad?"

He is, but at the moment he's more concerned with finding an anchor to reality. He isn't really thinking as he shoves Monty over so that they're sharing the computer chair. He just wants to feel the physical presence of another person to assure him that he's not crazy. But as soon as Simon's thigh presses against Monty's, he remembers why this isn't a good idea.

Monty stiffens in a way that Simon would think guilty if he weren't so intent on denying that there's anything for him to feel guilty about. But then there's suddenly a flash of a memory of a thigh sliding between his, and Simon is instantly hard.

He freezes. No, no, no…

Not realizing Simon's predicament, Monty merely grumbles a protest before shifting accommodatingly, settling into a comfortable warmth against Simon's side.

Simon squeezes his eyes shut, willing this thing away. Pressed up against the computer desk as they are, Monty can't see Simon's hard-on, but he would if Simon were to stand up, so he does his best to just ignore it. God, what is wrong with him? If he thought yesterday was a bad day…

When Simon actually glances at the computer screen, he's caught off guard by a picture of his father, Monty, and himself. It's an old picture from a trip to the Cape that he barely remembers. The hell?

"See? He hasn't entirely forgotten about us."

Monty sounds so wistful that Simon can't bring himself to set him straight. But an old photograph on his political website that helps boost his "family man" persona does not a special bond make. There's a reason why whoever put this page together had to use such an old photograph. Monty is one thing, but Simon doesn't know why he feels surprised. He would have expected to see a bunch of bull about making America "safe" from the Other on his father's site— yeah, way to go, Dad, way to set human rights back a thousand years— but this…

Simon really doesn't appreciate being used.

Monty clicks away from the image, bringing up another picture of his father in his Navy uniform. The caption reads:

"The Petrelli family has a long, distinguished record of service to their community and country. Nathan's father served in the United States Army in Vietnam where he learned the value of loyalty to country and fellow man."

Simon's aware of his grandfather's time in Vietnam. He let Simon hold his Purple Heart once. He remembers sitting on his lap in his study, running his fingers over George Washington's profile, as Grandpa told him what it felt like to be shot through the abdomen. He remembers feeling scared, awed, and not a little bit proud that his grandfather was a war hero.

Long before he can locate the countries on a map, he also knows that his father served in Bosnia, Serbia, and Rwanda when he was a pilot in the Navy. He knows because he saw his father's election commercials like a billion times during the campaign and because his grandmother has taken to bringing it up every chance she gets. He suspects that she knows about his poor grades, because now when she visits she also likes to remind Simon that his father was top of his class, the valedictorian.

In turn, Simon likes to remind his grandmother that his father has also turned out to be an alcoholic, a deadbeat dad, and not to mention a neo-Nazi fascist. Comments like that never go over well. In fact, they earn him a stare so icy that he actually shivers, but he doesn't care. He's not going to join the Army or the Navy just because his father had early political ambitions. He'd sooner move to Canada.

"With a family that has strong ties to the community, Nathan Petrelli serves his constituents with the same dedication he shows his family— a dedication that always puts their well-being and happiness above his own. Remember, Nathan Petrelli came to politics with his own family in mind, and when he represents his constituents in Washington, it's with everyone's families in mind."

Simon is stealing a gulp of Monty's soda, but he actually spits it back out all over the screen.

"Simon?"

He blinks hard a few times as if that will fix the words into something that makes sense.

Monty is tugging on his arm. "What's wrong?"

What's wrong is that Simon really doesn't like being used, especially not like this. An old photograph is bad enough… He doesn't realize he's up and walking until he's already through the hall and in his bedroom. Monty tries to follow him, but he gently closes the door on his wide eyes and trembling lips and trips the lock. His brother's cajoling voice from the other side of the door is a low buzz at the back of his head as he slumps against his side of the door.

"Monty?" he says.

There's a pause in the noise on the other side of the door. "Yeah?"

"Were you in my bed last night?"

This time, the pause is longer. "Simon, open the door." Monty sounds almost as panicked as Simon feels.

Simon groans and bangs his head back against the solid wood. What did he do? And why is he still hard? Fuck!

There's a strange banging noise behind his head, soon followed by more clinking and banging. Startled, Simon jumps up and opens the door. He doesn't know what he's expecting to see, and he stares in astonishment at the sea of nickels, dimes, and pennies that are suddenly littering the hallway. He looks to his brother for explanation. Monty's mouth works open and closed like a fish, but no explanation comes forth. His eyes are wide in surprise, but he's got nothing on Simon.

"Monty, did you throw change at my door?"

***

After their grandfather dies and their grandmother moves in with them, Simon and Monty accompany her to church every Sunday and then out to lunch afterward. It's their own little tradition, and it picks right back up when they move back to New York City, as if they never left.

Simon could do without the church part, but he doesn't mind the quality time with his grandmother. When she's not picking at him over his grades or his "behavior issues," she makes for some fairly fascinating company. He just wishes that— for once— she would take him somewhere to eat that didn't require expensive loafers and a dinner jacket. He bet Monty ten dollars once that he would get her into a McDonald's before his sixteenth birthday. He lost. And so watercress soup till the end of time it is.

He has no reason to suspect her motives on this particular outing, not even when she neglects to invite Monty along.

They're coming out of St. Patrick's when someone bumps into her so hard that Simon instinctively reaches out to catch her fall.

"Excuse me," says a man as he hurries past. Simon watches him cross the street and get into a black car. The black car.

"The absolute nerve of some people," Angela says, righting herself.

Simon would agree, but he finds that his voice is gone. He doesn't say anything all the way to the restaurant. Even when he's sitting inside the restaurant, he sits facing the door. His eyes dart nervously around the room, and he tugs at his collar. He can't stop sweating.

Angela doesn't seem to notice. She chats about this and that in such a steady stream that be barely notices when she abruptly changes tracks. "Simon," she says, "I think it's time that we have a conversation about what you're going to do with the rest of your life."

Simon sighs. "Again?"

She takes a casual sip of her champagne. "You're aware of the men who have been watching your house?"

His spoon freezes halfway to his mouth. She knows?

"Apparently they've expanded their surveillance, because they were at St. Patrick's today. Perhaps you noticed?"

He nods dumbly.

"This means that they'll probably be popping up at your school next. I'm sure they must have a spy by now in your little club. Lucky for us, these people are very sloppy at their jobs, and they've given us plenty of warning." They could be talking about the weather for all the emotion she's displaying.

Simon is fairly certain that the whole world has gone crazy. "Grandma, what are you talking about?"

"You know exactly what I'm talking about," she says, dabbing her mouth pristinely with a cloth napkin. "You've done nothing but ramble for the past two years about the injustices being done to specials, evolved humans, or what have you. You know that the government is not your friend right now, and you also know that sometimes people go missing."

Simon's spoon accidentally slips through clammy fingers. Her gaze follows the splash of watercress soup onto the tablecloth before sliding, reptilian-like, back to him. "My friend? Because of the club? I don't understand why they'd care about me. I'm just a kid."

Angela settles back in her chair and gives him a long, hard stare that makes him shift uncomfortably in his seat. This isn't the first time he's wondered if she can read minds. "Simon, I know," she says, still looking unimpressed. "I know about what you can do."

What he can— Oh. Oh. Simon almost laughs. She thinks he's one of those people with abilities? "Grandma, I'm not the 'evolved man'! I suck at much pretty everything related to physical fitness." Unless she counts thumbs of steel from countless hours with his Gameboy. But he doubts that she does.

"Simon, I would appreciate it if you would stop treating me as if I were an idiot."

He's the one who feels like an idiot right now. Dumbfounded, he stares at her, wondering how she could have gotten this crazy idea into her head. Is this what the government people think? Is that why they're following him?

Angela takes his silence as… well, something, and rolls her eyes. "Simon, you need to listen to me very carefully. There are those in positions of power that are doing everything they can to eradicate those with abilities—"

"Like Dad?"

"Simon, the facts are what they are, and there isn't any more time for foolishness. You have an ability. And so do I."

Simon's mouth drops open. "You… You're…?"

"Yes, dear. You could say that it runs in the family. I can see the future. Your grandfather… Well, let's just say that he had many talents. Just like your uncle. And your father. And now your— what shall we call it? Your heightened magnetism?"

She pauses to take another sip of her soup. Simon can only gape as he waits for her to reveal her admittedly bizarre sense of humor through a wink or a laugh. Because this has to be a joke. And a bad one at that. His grandmother can't really see the future. Can she?

He decides to humor her. "You're saying that… that my dad can…? And Uncle Peter?"

"That's right. You're not alone in this. In fact, there are many more of us. Most have gone into hiding, which is where you need to go as soon as possible. For your own safety."

"I don't know what you're talking about?" he explodes. So much for humoring her. But she isn't laughing, and he's fairly certain that she isn't kidding, so she must have lost her mind. "I'm not an— an evolved person. Why would you even think that?"

She sighs. "Simon, I can see the future. And I saw you protecting your brother with your ability. Well, you were trying anyway. I saw metal objects flying toward you. Unless it's a form of telekinesis, then I have to assume that it's heightened magnetism until you prove otherwise."

Metal objects? Flying at him and… "Grandma, that's…"

Simon's voice abruptly leaves him as a flash of something like recognition comes over him. It's like an epiphany except that it's only a feeling, a buzzing at the back of his mind. But, no, it's more than that because Monty was trying to tell him something that day, but Simon was too distracted by his own problems to actually listen.

Startled, he meets her intent gaze. "Grandma, what exactly did you see in… in the future?" He struggles over the words even as he forgets that he's supposed to be humoring her and not the other way around.

She hesitates, either because she's struggling to remember the exact details or else because she's trying to decide which part to tell him. Simon is suddenly the one with no patience for games. "Tell me!"

"Simon, keep your voice down," she snaps. He's forgotten that they're in a public restaurant. But a glance around them reveals no curious onlookers.

"The dream wasn't specific," she tells him. "They aren't always. That would be too easy. No, everything was very confused. But I saw you shielding Monty with your body from metal projectiles. You were holding your arms out as if you could stop them, and then you did."

Something cold blooms in his chest. No. No, it can't be. This is crazy.

"You're sure that…" He almost can't say it. "You're sure that it was me? That I was the one controlling the metal?"

He can tell that he's thrown her off. Any other time but now, it would feel like a victory. "Grandma, you're sure?"

"I thought I… Simon, what are you saying?"

Magnetism. Metal. There's metal in coins. Even pennies. He remembers doing experiments with magnets and spare change in science class. Oh, God, it was never about Simon at all. The men and their black cars haven't been watching him. Just his family.

"Why is the government even doing this?" he moans miserably. "Why can't they just leave everyone alone?"

"I'm sorry, dear, but there are always going to be people who don't understand. And people fear what they don't understand. People with abilities pose a threat because what we can do is beyond their imaginations, beyond their fears. Their instinct is to try to control us, and the only way to do that is by force. It's only a matter of time before they come for you in the middle of the night. And trust me, my boy, when I tell you that no one will ever hear from you again."

He doesn't care about other people or what they fear. There's only one person he's afraid for right now. "Am I in danger?"

His question seems to put her back on her game because she visibly relaxes, which is odd considering the question. "I'm afraid so. We need to move you to a safe location where the government won't be able to reach you. It's the only way."

Simon reaches for his glass of water— his mouth is suddenly dry as a bone— but his hand is shaking so bad that water spills over onto the tablecloth. "You can't…" It's hard to talk through his cottonmouth. "You can't know it'll happen that way."

Except that's exactly how it happened to Jimmy's dad.

She smiles, but it's a sad smile. "Darling boy, it's already happening."

Simon pushes away from the table with enough force to make the dishes rattle. "I have to go," he gasps.

She calls after him, but he doesn't stop until he's out of the restaurant and onto the sidewalk outside. Then, he starts to run. He has to get home. It's the lone thought that sets itself on repeat as he sprints block after block. He dodges around people who shout after him. Simon's heart threatens to explode, but he ignores it, ignores the screaming stitch in his side, instead urging his body in forward momentum. He curses his stupid, overpriced and inconvenient loafers. They won't stop him. Nothing matters, not the people blocking his way, not the distance, not anything.

By the time he makes it to Hyde Park, Simon is drenched in sweat, and he feels as if he's going to die. But that car is already there waiting for him. Or else it's another one. They're still here, so he isn't too late. Further motivated, Simon pushes himself up the stoop and into the house. He instinctively heads for the staircase, taking the stairs two at a time, until he's outside Monty's bedroom. He doesn't bother knocking.

When he sees him, Monty tugs off his headphones with a distressed cry. "What happened to you?"

Simon couldn't speak at that moment if he wanted to. Instead, he clutches the doorknob in a sweat-slicked grip and gasps in desperate gulps of air. Monty is on his feet in seconds. He moves forward as if to catch Simon if he should fall, but instead Simon grabs his arm and hauls him out into the hallway and then into Simon's room.

"What's going on?" he asks worriedly as he rubs the part of his arm that Simon gripped. "Are you okay?"

No, Simon is about as far from okay as a person could possibly get. But he could get a lot worse in a few moment's time. Simon quickly locates his mini gumball machine that doubles as a piggybank. There's no hesitation when he picks it up and smashes it into the floor.

"What are you doing?" Monty yells, clearly freaked out.

In lieu of an explanation, Simon grabs a handful of change from the floor and turns to Monty.

His brother's eyes widen, understanding coming quickly. "Simon, don't—"

Ignoring him, Simon opens his hand and watches with sick satisfaction as the coins fly out of his hand and straight for Monty. He tries to duck, but the coins smash into him— "Ow!"— and stick like magnets to a fridge.

A loaded silence settles over them. Monty looks terrified, but Simon is the one about to cry. He should have known. He was an activist for the evolved human cause, for fuck's sake. If Simon could have known about this, about his brother, then he could have done something— anything— differently.

"How long?" he chokes out. How long has Monty been hiding this… this thing from him?

"It just started happening! I can't help it!" Monty looks so pathetically miserable that he's practically begging to be held and told that everything will be all right. He even twitches like he might throw himself at Simon. But Simon won't lie to him. It won't be all right. Not ever, if their grandmother knows what she's talking about. And somehow Simon thinks that she does. If she knew about Monty— even though she was mistaken about Simon— then there's no reason to think that she isn't right about the rest.

God, what else doesn't he know about his own family?

"You should have told me," he says, suddenly angry. This is all Monty's fault, after all. Simon is supposed to be the freak in this family, not him. Simon can take care of himself, but Monty…

"I'm sorry," he whimpers. "I wanted to! I tried!"

Not hard enough, he thinks. Now, it's too late. "I'm sorry, Monty. But it's out of my hands."

His brother looks like he's been punched in the gut. "What? Simon, what are you talking about?"

"You can't keep this a secret anymore," he says, picking up his cell phone from where he left it on the chest of drawers.

Monty does lunge at him now, desperate hands scrabbling for his phone. "Simon, no! You can't tell!"

Simon temporarily drops his phone so that he can twist Monty into a headlock. He makes choking sounds as Simon hauls him to the door. He shoves Monty out into the hallway with as little force as he can manage before slamming the door shut. He turns the lock just as Monty hurls himself against the door, the thump of his body loud enough to cause Simon to stumble back in surprise. This situation is scarily familiar.

"Simon, please!" he pleads, banging his fists against the wood.

He can't afford to listen. Not when he's already suffering flashbacks to every Holocaust movie he's ever seen. If losing Monty is the only way to keep him, then there really is no other option. He picks up his phone.

"Simon, don't do this! Please! I didn't mean to do it! I can stop! You don't have to be afraid, I promise! Simon?"

Simon's heart clenches painfully in his chest, but his death-grip on his cell phone remains steady. As if he would be afraid of Monty. But this is for his own good.

"Hello?"

He has trouble getting his voice to work.

The voice on the other end of the line grows insistent. "Simon? Are you there?"

"Yeah," he manages.

"Where are you? What's wrong?"

"Simon, please!"

I'm sorry, pal, he thinks.

"I need your help."

***

They wait for her in the music room.

This time, Monty has his head in Simon's lap. Lying on his side, stretched across the couch, he clutches Simon's knees as his brother runs soothing hands over everywhere he can reach. Simon wants to be able to remember what his brother feels like beneath his hands. There's no telling when they'll see each other again. He refuses to think if. He refuses to think about a lot of things right now.

"Where will I go?" Monty's voice is rough from all the crying and carrying on.

"I don't know," he says honestly.

"What will you tell Mom?"

That's another thing Simon can't afford to think about right now. As it is, it's taking everything he has to keep it together. "I'll think of something."

Monty turns his head so that he's looking up at him. Rather than answering all of the questions he sees swimming around in there, Simon uses his thumb to gently wipe away the tear tracks from around his brother's swollen eyes. He finds the old gesture comforting, but Monty catches his wrist, halting the impulse. They're left staring at each other.

"I love you," Monty says solemnly.

A lump forms in his throat, and Simon has to bite down on his tongue to keep the tears at bay. But he smiles. For Monty.

"I love you, too." His smile threatens to wane, but he holds it. "Don't forget about your screw-up of a big brother when you're living it up in the Caribbean. Or wherever."

Monty leans up and presses his lips against Simon's. The kiss is so light that it's barely even there, but there's a promise in it. Simon will have his freak-out about all the ramifications of what they are to each other later, when Monty's safe.

A moment later, they hear the front door open downstairs, and Monty sits up.

When their grandmother enters the music room, she is followed by the last person Simon expects to see.

"Uncle Peter!" Monty cries, already running to embrace him.

He looks older than Simon remembers, tired. But he has that same indulgent smile on his face as he allows Monty to squeeze the life out of him. "Hey, buddy. It's been awhile."

Years. It's been years.

"Are you coming with us?" Monty asks, now looking excited.

"You'll find that your uncle has many useful talents for getting us safely out of the country," Angela says, answering for him.

Uncle Peter suddenly notices him. "Simon?"

Simon knows he should stand and accept the hug that will no doubt be bestowed on him, but he remains rooted to the couch. The most he can manage is a curt nod and a "hey."

"You're all grown up," Uncle Peter says wistfully.

He wants to say something sarcastic and cruel, but Monty is suddenly moving back to him, and Simon does stand this time to embrace his brother. Monty's arms close around like a vice, and Simon can't help but smile into the tuft of hair pressed against his face. He shuts his eyes to block out the sight of his uncle and grandmother watching them with pitying gazes.

"You do everything they tell you, okay?" Simon says gruffly, his arms clutching a little too tightly. "You stay safe. If you don't, then I'll kick your ass."

"Everything's going to be okay," Monty whispers against his cheek. "You'll see."

Two seconds in the presence of Uncle Peter and Grandma, and he's already lying.

Simon finally pulls back from the hug. Taking Monty's face in his hands, he kisses his forehead for what may be the last time. "Time to go."

Watching them walk out the front door is the hardest thing Simon has ever had to do. But he forces himself to remain still and not to go after them. Someone has to stay behind to make sure their mother is okay. And one boy is easier to hide than two. He doesn't even want to know what direction they're going. Simon gives it five minutes, and then he goes to retrieve the last of Angela's vodka from his room.

Simon has been drunk before. But he's never been as drunk as he is when he winds up in front of his father's old campaign headquarters.

Later, he won't remember much apart from the good, solid feeling of the baseball bat in his hand and then the cracking sound as it connects with the window. He's too drunk to do much damage. Hell, he can barely stand up. But apparently he causes enough of a disturbance that the sound of a police siren soon penetrates the air.

***

Nathan has already paid his bail and slicked whatever needed slicking to get Simon out of his mess. He's waiting in the front lobby, foot tapping impatiently.

He takes one look at him and then tells Simon's good friend the guard, "If you've used even one iota of unnecessary force on my son, then—"

"I'm fine, Dad," Simon interrupts quickly before Nathan can entirely confirm the guard's politician stereotype.

Nathan looks skeptical. "You're all right?"

He nods. If he looks like road kill, then it's due to the early onset of a brutal hangover and what might possibly amount to a bout of alcohol poisoning if the nausea he's experiencing is anything to go by. The guard can hardly be blamed for that.

Instead of taking him directly home, Nathan takes him to a café that stays open 24 hours a day.

They sit across from each other in awkward silence. Simon has never felt more depressed in his life, and he can hardly remember the last time he was alone with his father.

"Monty's gone," he blurts out.

Nathan calmly sips his coffee. Black, no cream, no sugar. Because that is his father. He probably thinks putting any kind of sweetener into his drink would make him somehow less of a man. If Simon had the energy or anything other than this gaping hole in his chest, he would have emptied several Sweet n' Low packets into his untouched cup. Because that is Simon, caught in a perpetual rat race that has no real victories, only the illusions of them.

"I know," he says finally.

Simon stares so hard that his eyes start to burn. "How do you know?" he demands.

"Because I just came from seeing him and your grandmother off at the airport."

He's fairly certain that his jaw drops. Again. "You know? And you let them leave?"

Nathan sits back and gives him the lawyer stare. "He's my son. I'm not the monster you think I am, Simon."

He feels strangely shamed as he remembers the long ago broken arm. What might have been different if that had never happened? He doesn't know. Maybe everything, maybe nothing. Monty would still be what he is.

"Your grandmother told me that she told you about me."

It takes Simon a moment to remember what he's referring to. In his rush to protect Monty, he'd forgotten that his grandmother also implicated his father as one of the evolved humans.

There are many accusations he could throw at his father in this moment, and he would deserve them all. But Simon feels tired. "So, what can you do?" He isn't really certain he wants to know, but it seems the thing to ask.

Nathan seems reluctant to take the conversation further, but he is the one who brought it up. "I can fly."

Simon laughs. Because, really, what else can he do?

"What happens now?" Will he ever see Monty again? Simon is the one who was supposed to disappear, not him. He feels a strange combination of freedom and renewed suffocation.

"I'm going to fix all this, Simon."

The only way his father could ever fix this would be to bring Monty back and to guaranty that no one would ever come after him again. He doesn't think Nathan can give him that. But what does he know? The answer: absolutely nothing. Simon has no idea what's going on. He feels as if he's trapped in vertigo. Up is down, down is up.

What really gets him is that there isn't a damn thing he can do beyond handing his little brother off and hoping for the best. He has no control over anything. Monty is gone, and Simon is powerless.

Nathan leans forward, trying to entreat some response from Simon. "You believe me?"

No. "Yeah."

His father makes a satisfied sound. "You just leave everything to me. Okay?"

Too tired to fight, too tired to hurt anymore, Simon nods. He has no other choice but to trust in his father, to trust in the belief that he'll do what he can to keep Monty safe. He has to give his father a chance to be a hero.

"Okay."

His next cup of coffee, he takes black.

Finis.

***

Note: Much of this fic was based off of Heroes supplemental material such as the deleted scenes from S1 (Simon's strawberry allergy) and S2 (Nathan freaking out about his sons seeing him during his recovery), the online webcomic (Arthur's Purple Heart and the shot through the abdomen that earned it), as well as Nathan's political website (). All are worth a look if you're as obsessed with Petrellis as I apparently am.