A/N: I can't believe I did this. I had a dream about it though, and I couldn't resist writing it. I'm going to hell. WORTH IT. XD
This is an alternative to the roof scene from "The Fifth Stage."
"Gonna make a mistake… gonna do it on purpose."
—Fiona Apple, "A Mistake"
"You're only going to see him." Nathan's words echoed in the deep recesses of Peter's brain. At first, they'd horrified him; his brother's soul, his memories, were alive in the body of a depraved serial killer. And, after Thanksgiving, he knew that Sylar could emerge at any moment.
Lately, though, all Peter could think about was the fact that Nathan's body was not his own.
The late November air filled Peter's lungs with cold as he stepped onto the roof of the hospital. "Remember the last time we were up here?" he mused, glancing at his brother.
"Yeah, I do." Nathan nodded toward the edge. "You were standing on that ledge right there like an idiot. Asking me about Dad's depression. Asking me if I could fly."
"Do you remember what you said?"
The day flashed through his memory, vivid as the skyline. "I said we could both fly."
"No, before that. You denied it."
He shrugged nonchalantly. "It was an election year." Slowly, he made his way to the edge of the roof. "Denial was the go-to."
Peter joined him. "Seems like a million years ago, huh?"
"A lifetime," agreed Nathan.
"And we made it through. Together." Peter set a hand on his shoulder. "Made it through all the craziness. We can make it through anything."
"Even death?" Nathan's voice was hoarse, cracked.
Peter tightened his grip. "Why not?"
Nathan met his gaze, and the sadness in his eyes hit Peter like a punch to the gut. "Because this isn't me. It's not my body. It's Sylar."
"No. It is you, Nathan. I'm looking at you."
"Pete." The voice was unmistakably Nathan, soft yet gravelly, like a mixture of tar and silk. "Why in God's name did you bring me to a roof?"
"So we could fly," Peter managed.
Nathan tilted his head. "What?"
"Look. I need to tell you something, and I don't want either of us to run away, and the only way I know that's not going to happen is if you're hanging onto me in midair."
"You know you can tell me anything."
"Yeah, I can. But this requires special circumstances."
Mystified, Nathan approached his brother, arms open. "Alright. Let's go."
Peter sucked in a breath of cold air. "Yeah."
Nathan wrapped his arms around him, and they shot into the night sky.
"So what's going on, Pete?"
He hadn't planned a speech, not really, and he suddenly wished he would have prepared a little better. Painfully aware that every bit of their bodies was touching, he exhaled. "Your real body," he began, "the one that our mother gave birth to, is lying dead in storage."
Nathan sighed. "I know it. And every time I think about it, I feel Sylar surface."
Suddenly, Peter realized that if Sylar did surface, the bastard would let him plummet to his death. No going back now, he thought, as he clung to Nathan. "Don't think about him."
"I'm not. You're all that's keeping me here. But why are you bringing this up?"
Peter stared at him. "Don't you get it? You're Nathan Petrelli. Mind. Heart. Face. But in body… you're no longer my brother."
For a moment, he looked incredibly affronted; then realization dawned. "No," he whispered. "No, I'm not." He stared back at Peter, through eyes that weren't really his. Wind rushed through his hair; for the first time since finding out the truth about his own death, he felt exhilarated. "So… what do you need to tell me?"
He didn't want to be blunt. "You mean you don't know?"
Aware of the pounding in his chest, Nathan stared up into the clouds. "Pete… I've known since you were seventeen."
Memories flooded Peter's brain. In his senior year of high school, over holiday break, he'd pulled a friend out of the Hudson River, and got hypothermia in the process. The last thing he thought of before losing consciousness was his brother. The first thing he saw when he woke up in the hospital was Nathan's face, relieved and flushed, tears in his eyes. He'd been too choked up to speak properly, but Peter would never forget the demand he'd made—you can't leave me, Pete. Don't scare me like this again. Ever. After that, embraces started lasting too long. Kisses seemed more intense than they should have been. Wandering eyes, out-of-place stares, a connection that held them like a vise…
"We've always been more than brothers," Nathan said in a low voice.
The corner of Peter's mouth curved upward. "So… you've felt it too."
"All these years," Nathan whispered. "But my real body's cold and dead, and the rest of me is still here… so…"
"So now we can, right? Without it being awkward. Without it being wrong…"
Peter could have cried. He understood. And he wanted it.
"Tomorrow," Nathan said. "Let me go home and rest. You can clean up. I'll meet you tomorrow. We can have the whole day."
Nathan cocked his head.
"I don't want either one of us to have time to change our mind," explained Peter, his voice catching in the back of his throat.
"Yeah." Nathan nodded. His lips twitched into a half-smile. "We've waited long enough, haven't we, Pete?"
"Take my power," Nathan said quietly. "You're the stronger one. Bring us to your apartment."
Without a second thought, Peter placed a hand on Nathan's arm and absorbed the power of flight. As they sped off, Nathan stared back down at the roof. "We can both fly," he whispered, almost to himself.
For the first time in months, Nathan felt like himself. Wholly himself. He was acutely aware that he was in someone else's body; but his decision to give in amplified the power of his mind and heart more than a pile of items from which he could dredge memories. This was a part of himself he'd never given permission to show and, at this moment, it felt like the core of him had been illuminated.
He didn't even notice that they were descending.
Peter's feet hit solid ground, but he still felt weightless. He pulled a ring of keys out of his pocket and wordlessly led Nathan up to his second-floor apartment.
Nathan immediately noticed the conspicuous absence of newspaper articles tacked to the wall. "Quit keeping your wall of fame?" he remarked offhandedly.
Shrugging, Peter locked the door behind them and tossed the keys onto the kitchen counter. "Yeah. Some guy I'd saved threatened to sue me, and… long story. It's not really important."
Nathan approached him from behind, setting hands on his shoulders. "What is important?" he whispered.
"This," Peter said, turning around, his gaze settling on Nathan's sharp features. "Us."
They stared at each other for a brief moment; it was Nathan who leaned forward, taking Peter's face in his hands, pressing their lips together.
The knot in Peter's chest tightened; tentatively, he let his fingers find their way into Nathan's hair, sifting easily through the fine strands, letting each one glide over the ridges of his fingertips. After a while his hands wandered, drifting leisurely over Nathan's shirt; then, he hooked fingers into his belt loops, drawing him impossibly closer. They brushed against each other, each one sucking in a sharp breath as they felt the other, both hard, caged within their slacks.
"Just… there's just a few layers of fabric keeping us apart," Nathan whispered hoarsely.
They headed into the bedroom together, Nathan fumbling to get his tie undone, Peter kicking his shoes off in the hallway.
Simultaneously, they hit the bed; Peter launched forward, pulling his brother's shirt off with reckless abandon, too impatient to care if he pulled off a button or two. Nathan sent Peter's belt flying across the room and barely paused before pulling his paramedic's uniform over his head.
Before long, every stitch of clothing lay haphazardly on the floor, and the moon bathed two pale bodies, flushed and anxious, in opal-white light.
Their hands, hungry for contact, explored each other's bodies. The touches felt so familiar, yet so new; they'd always been intimate, but now the intimacy was raw, unbridled, exposed for what it truly was. Peter turned onto his back, ready, eager.
Nathan, meanwhile, took his time, savoring every second. Reverently, he brought a finger up to trace the small shell of Peter's ear. His gaze fell to his shoulder, on the cluster of beauty spots burned into his skin like dark stars, a negative of the night sky. On impulse, he bent to kiss them, and placed his right hand flat on Peter's stomach.
Beside him, Peter trembled. "Lower," he begged. "Nathan… please… touch me."
He obliged, sliding his hand down, through the tuft of hair, between his legs, over the juncture where his left and right thighs met.
As Nathan's fingers moved over his skin, Peter felt his every cell charge with electricity. He turned, breathless, and pulled Nathan's lips toward his own, breathing hard into his mouth as Nathan finally curled his fingers around him.
When the kiss broke, Nathan stared intently at Peter. "It's not really me," he whispered.
"Yes," replied Peter adamantly. "It is—"
"No, Pete. You've got the only real part of me that's left. You're always going to have it."
Peter kissed him again, wrapping his arms around Nathan's torso, pulling him so close that it hurt.
Nathan felt as though he'd been plucked out of time; his past, his future, his present, everything that mattered was alive in the night, pulsing and breathing within the four walls of his brother's room. His brain couldn't process any vision of a tomorrow; just here, now, nothing but the moon and the soft linens and the heat of Peter's skin against his.
"Come on," Nathan begged. "I can't wait any longer."
Peter's eyes went round. "You want me to? I thought—I thought you'd—"
"Let me have this," Nathan whispered pleadingly.
"I just don't want to hurt you."
"You won't, it's just—" He sighed. "Pete, I just want to feel. I just want you…" He trailed off, unable to verbalize his entire thought.
Peter's eyes shut. "Say it again."
"I want you."
It was all he needed. Peter left a kiss just beneath his collarbone, then pushed Nathan's legs apart and straddled him.
Right before he entered, Nathan put a hand on Peter's arm. "Tell me," he whispered, "that this is real."
"I've just—I can't know what to believe anymore," Nathan continued, a note of panic penetrating his voice. "The world isn't what it used to be. It's spun apart. People can manipulate our minds, cage us in illusions, make me remember things I've never lived. There's nothing tangible to hold onto, and I can't know what's real…" A tiny tear formed in his eye.
Peter took his hand and held it, palm-down, to his chest. "This is real, Nathan. I'm here. This is happening."
Silence reigned for a moment as Nathan felt Peter's heart beat beneath his fingers. "It's just that… I've spent so many years creating this moment in my head."
"Me too," admitted Peter. "But it's not just a fantasy anymore."
Nathan let his hand fall, replacing it on Peter's thigh. "I'm ready."
Slowly, carefully, Peter eased inside. Nathan's eyes drifted shut, his eyelashes standing out like ink against his moonlit skin.
Peter studied his brother's face. Nathan had always complained about his thick eyebrows, while Peter insisted that they looked fine; incidentally, he'd never done anything to change them, and they were one of Peter's favorite features as a result. He'd always felt like they'd been left alone just for his benefit.
As he began to thrust, Nathan's thin lips parted, drawing sharp breaths. His eyes fluttered open. "God, Pete, it feels good."
He let out a breath. "Really?"
Nathan bit his lip. "Yes." He sighed in exhilaration. "Harder. Come on, don't hold back… Pete, c'mon…" His eyelids fluttered again.
He obliged, thrusting harder, inching closer to climax with every rapturous expression on Nathan's face.
Nathan had already reached ecstasy. Even in his fantasies, it hadn't felt this amazing; it's real, he kept reminding himself, and it's all I've ever needed.
Peter's breathing grew ragged. "Nathan…"
The eyes gazing back at him shone with ardor. "Pete," he whispered. "Let go…"
So he did. And as the years of built-up tension exploded, any remaining fragments of normalcy shattered into pieces. He released everything into him, then fell over onto the bed, flushed and panting. Instantly, he ran a hand over Nathan's chest.
"Now you," whispered Peter, breathless. "You…"
Nathan helped him turn onto his back; he couldn't help but trace the afterglow on Peter's chest. "Pete, you—look at you."
His eyes were fixed on Nathan's, dark embers, glowing with need. "I'm looking at you."
"Are you ready?"
He nodded; Nathan took both ankles in his palms and brought them up to rest on his shoulders.
The pain came, brief but intense, and Nathan put a hand to his thigh. "Are you alright?"
"Yeah," Peter gasped. "Yes. I am." Truthfully, he felt enraptured at the feeling of Nathan within him, at the satisfaction of acting out the fantasy that had pulled him apart for years. It's happening. Nathan is inside me, he's—
He drew in a sharp breath as the warmth of Nathan's skin hit his own flesh, and smiled up at him. "Don't hold back," he echoed, and Nathan bent down to kiss him. Peter expected him to lean back and lift his ankles again; instead, he stayed close to Peter, letting their chests touch, expelling heavy breaths into Peter's ear, dropping kisses on his shoulder, his neck.
He melted beneath the touch of his lips. "Nathan…"
"Pete." The voice was a husky whisper. "I'm so close already. I'm—"
"I want to see you. I want to see your face…"
Obligingly, Nathan rocked back, never breaking his motion, then arched into him, shaking, emptying himself, filling Peter. Immediately, he collapsed beside him.
Peter ran his fingers over Nathan's chest. "How do you feel?"
"Good," he replied, still somewhat dazed. "Better than I've felt in a long time." Sighing, he nestled into the pillow. "I could die happy right now."
"Don't," Peter said, pulling the comforter over them.
He smiled in contentment. "Pete… I love you."
Peter brushed the hair out of his face. "I love you too."
Nathan closed his eyes for a moment; then his peaceful smile faded into a thick-lipped smirk, and Peter instantly took him by the shoulders.
"Hey," whispered Peter, tears springing to his eyes. "Nathan. Come on. Don't leave me now. Don't—"
Peter found himself staring into the eyes of a killer.
"Nathan's gone," Sylar said, his voice dark and thick.
"No." But even as he spoke the word, he knew it was true. It was only Sylar now. You're all that's keeping me here. Nathan's words echoed in Peter's head.
Sylar smirked; Peter lunged at him, longing to wipe that self-satisfied grin off his face.
"And you say I'm twisted," deadpanned Sylar, freezing him in his tracks with a hand.
"You could never understand," Peter snarled, struggling to break free. "You have no idea what it's like to have a connection like that with someone."
A short, sarcastic laugh punctuated the sentence, and Sylar shook his head, sitting up. "Peter, you forget that his mind was up here too." He tapped his temple. "I could hear what he was thinking. You know, my ability—my original ability—is to know how things work, but for the life of me, this—well, this, I just can't wrap my head around."
Peter's face was full of anguish, but his eyes shone. "That's because Nathan didn't want you to," he managed. "That's because it was between us."
"And the only thing between you now is death." Sylar raised an index finger. "How about it, Peter? How badly do you want to be reunited?"
Nathan's words from years ago echoed in the deep recesses of his mind. You can't leave me, Pete. He took a deep breath. "I made a promise to him," he whispered, voice shaking.
Tears glistened in his eyes. He wouldn't get to say goodbye to his mother, but he supposed she'd soldier on, the way she always did. And Claire. He'd known for a long time that she was destined to outlive him, but he never thought he'd have to leave her this early. As his gaze flickered past Sylar, he saw hundreds of tiny colored lights illuminate a Christmas tree in the window across the street. A little girl perched precariously on a chair, crowning the tree with a star. Life would go on—just not his life.
"Just do it," Peter finally said, and he was surprised at how steady his voice was.
Sylar lifted a finger.
The last thing Peter saw was a liquid curtain of red—
—and then a flicker, Nathan's smile, welcoming him into the light.