thebratqueen: Captain Marvel (Nathan/Peter laughing)
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I wrote fic again! Wheee!

Benjamin Franklin
By: The Brat Queen

Fandom: Heroes
Pairing: Nathan/Peter
Rating: PG
Warnings: Hi, did you SEE the pairing part?
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Word Count: ~3,500
Sequel to George Bernard Shaw
Summary: Peter should never be left alone long enough to recruit co-conspirators.
Notes: Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] ladybug218 for the beta.

***

When Peter graduated from sixth grade he was given a ten-speed bicycle. It had a light for nighttime, a rack in the back for toting things around, a drink holder complete with a bright blue water bottle, and a vanity plate on the back which read "Peter." As the Petrelli bank accounts were only applied to the best of the best, the bike cost approximately about as much as what Ma's favorite hairstylist made in a week.

Peter leapt upon the bike with savage glee, and took to riding it everywhere he could get away with. Since the servants liked Peter far more than anyone else in the family they didn't mind when his favorite path included riding it across the long hallway that swept past the study, through the kitchen, into the laundry room, and back again.

This lasted until the rainy afternoon when Peter had the misfortune of attempting to ride this circuit on a day when a new maid had moved their father's art collection, including a stoneware storage jar dating from the Muromachi period, into the hallway for dusting; their mother had cancelled on a lunch date without telling anyone; and a classmate of Peter's had bet him a pack of grape-flavored bubblegum that he couldn't do wheelies with his eyes closed.

The results of this were, in no particular order, five stitches, yet another new maid, their father yelling at Peter for exactly twenty-three minutes, and the classmate's family moving to Belgium in what everyone swore was a coincidence. Peter was also forbidden to ride his bike for a month.

This lasted about a week before the look of large-eyed sorrow and haunted woe in Peter's eyes made Ma sigh "Honestly." and give the bike back so long as Peter swore to only ride outside, with a helmet, and where someone could see him.

When Nathan had graduated from sixth grade he'd been given a desk blotter, a textbook on Earth Science, and a reminder that it was never too early to start studying for the Regents.

This explained a lot about their family.

***

"So... you're saying in love with me?"

They were in Nathan's bedroom. They were in Nathan's bed. Peter had finally been convinced to stop devoting his every waking hour to trying to paint his way from here to wherever Hiro had ended up. He had not, however, been convinced to clean his room. This meant two things: One, that if Peter was going to sleep in a bed, sharing Nathan's remained the only one available to him; and Two, that Peter continued to have the same cavalier attitude about doing his chores that he'd had as a kid.

Nathan squinted at the clock. Its red LED digits stared back at him. "It's two in the morning."

"You weren't asleep."

"And talking to me was going to change that?"

"I'm just saying - " Peter turned over so that he was on his side, facing Nathan. For all the good that'd do him in the dark. "When you said love, you meant in love? With me?"

"Yell it a little louder. I don't think Mohinder heard you."

Even in the shadows he could see Peter roll his eyes. "Everyone else is on the other side of the house."

"Fine. Parkman then."

"I'm trying to make sure that we're on the same page here," Peter said, finally lowering his voice to a whisper.

"You can read my mind," Nathan reminded him. "What part of my thoughts were ambiguous there?"

"Nathan," Peter leaned in, lowering his voice even more, "I have spent my entire life dying for your approval. Now you're telling me that not only do you love me - which I knew - but you like me so much you're in love with me?"

Nathan wondered if putting a pillow over Peter's head would end this conversation. "If I say yes, can we go back to pretending to sleep?"

"I want you to say yes if what you mean is yes," Peter said, with the sort of touchy-feely attitude that made Nathan hate that one semester Peter had thought he could go into psychology as a career.

"Why don't you read my mind again if you want to know what I'm thinking?"

"You're thinking that it's 2:07 in the morning and you want to go back to sleep."

"There we go."

"Nathan."

"On the record, if you wanted to make me fall out of love with you this was a great way to start."

The mattress creaked as Peter raised himself up on his elbows. "So that was a yes?"

"You - " Nathan rubbed his face, feeling the stubble along his jawline and wondering what the moment had been, exactly, that had turned their lives into something where this was normal. "Did you think I was lying? About that? Practical joke, maybe? My attempt to lighten the post-apocalypse mood?"

"Give me a break," Peter said. "My big brother says he's in love with me. You're telling me I'm not supposed to be at least a little thrown by an idea that shifts the entire way I view our lives together?"

"Oh for - an idea? You can turn invisible!"

"You can fly."

"So do you."

"You started it."

For that Nathan shoved Peter to the floor.

***

Nathan was enjoying a cup of coffee. It was late morning, which meant everyone else had already torn through for breakfast and gone on to do their own things. This allowed Nathan some much-needed peace and quiet as he sat at the small table by the window - he refused to call it a breakfast nook - and divided his time between reading the Wall Street Journal and enjoying the view of the valley that stretched out past the south east side of the house.

He'd been up for five hours and had, amongst other things, gone for a jog, caught up on MSNBC while doing free weights, showered, and drawn up contracts for how to handle the house in the unfortunate event of Nathan's demise or, more likely, capture.

A rattle of silverware and the thunk of a cardboard box indicated that Peter had come downstairs This meant that Peter had been awake for about five minutes.

"Morning," Peter said.

"Mm-hm," Nathan replied. He turned the page. Nissan stocks were up. Good for them.

There was the sound of cereal and milk being poured into a bowl. Then there was the sound of chewing. Loud, crunchy chewing. Loud, crunchy, sloppy chewing. Nathan steadfastly ignored this until the noise stopped. The silence stretched on for so long that Nathan allowed a corner of his paper to drop down so that he could look at Peter.

Peter looked back at him. To all appearances he was staring.

"What?" Nathan finally asked.

"That your breakfast?" Peter replied. He used his spoon to gesture at Nathan's coffee cup.

"This from the guy currently eating a cereal that has many colors, none of which can be found in nature."

Peter took another big spoonful and crunched down. "Nothing wrong with Lucky Charms."

"It has marshmallows in it."

"And vitamins."

"Name one." Then, noticing Peter's eyes shift over, Nathan added, "Without looking at the box."

"This from the guy who last ate a vegetable... when?"

"I've been known to - "

"Fried doesn't count."

Nathan put his paper down. "What is this, Pete?"

"I've been thinking." Peter folded his arms on the table. "You say that you -"

Nathan stared daggers at him.

"- care about me," Peter finished, smoothly. "I'm not sure I buy it."

"Buy it," Nathan repeated.

"Yep."

"You're having one of your episodes," Nathan decided. He picked up his newspaper again.

Peter reached across the table and pushed the paper down. "You know, feelings like this - caring about people like this, it means something."

"Means I've lost my mind," Nathan muttered.

"When I care about somebody," Peter continued, as though he hadn't been interrupted, "I like to show it."

"No, I was right the first time," Nathan said. "You've lost your mind. Can I have my paper back now?"

Peter kept his hand where it was. The pages crinkled from the pressure. "Doesn't have to be anything big. Nothing showy. Just a sign of appreciation."

"Peter," Nathan said, patiently, "I would appreciate getting my paper back."

"Not what I meant."

Nathan debated trying to snatch the paper out of Peter's hands, but past experience with this tactic had taught him that this only lead to a ripped paper and Peter grinning with victory. Nathan took the opposite approach, which was to let the paper go and pretend that he'd never wanted it to begin with. "What are we talking about here?"

"A sign," Peter said.

"A sign," Nathan repeated, as though he was warming up a witness. "That I... care about you."

"Yep." Peter looked far too pleased with himself.

"Which I'm doing because...?"

"Kinda thought it was self-explanatory," Peter said.

"Nothing about you is."

Peter made a face at him. "I'm just saying that if somebody wanted to show me how important it is for me to stick around for the long haul he'd meet me halfway."

"Halfway," Nathan said. This was the tone he used to question whether the defense truly expected the court to believe that five kilos of cocaine could wind up in the backseat of someone's car by accident.

"Like eat healthier?" Peter suggested. "Maybe look at a vegetable once in a while?"

Nathan stretched out his shoulders. He looked around the room. Barring anybody else gaining invisibility the two of them were as alone as they ever were. "What do I get in return?"

"Brotherly affection isn't it's own reward?"

"I can't begin to tell you how much that isn't true."

Peter shrugged. "Okay, what do you want?"

Nathan wanted Peter not to give him open-ended questions like that. He settled for, "No sugar cereals."

"What am I? Six?"

"You want me to stick around, I want you to stick around," Nathan told him. "Eat something with fiber."

"I'm not your age either."

"Hilarious, Pete, really."

Peter drummed his fingers on the table. "How long we talking about?"

Nathan did a mental calculation on a reasonable limit to Peter's patience. "One week."

"Real week or business week?"

"Business week," Nathan conceded. "Until Friday. I give you your little gesture, you go until Friday without any cereals with cartoon characters on the box."

Peter snorted. He sat back in his chair. "Prove it."

"We have a deal?"

"Hell yeah." Peter jerked his chin at him. "You first."

Wordlessly Nathan got up from his chair. He went over to the windowsill by the kitchen sink. Molly had taken a small juice glass and used it as a vase for some tiny yellow flowers that Mohinder had gotten for her. Nathan brought the glass over to the table, placed it between him and Peter, and sat down again. "There."

"...it's pretty?" Peter offered, waiting for the rest of it.

"My part of the deal," Nathan told him.

"The hell - "

"You wanted me to look at a vegetable." Nathan gestured at the flowers. "There. I've looked."

Peter gaped at him. "That is not -"

"It's not animal or mineral."

Peter snapped his mouth shut. He glared.

"Deal's a deal," Nathan told him, all smiles.

"I hate you so much," Peter said as he got up to throw his current bowl of cereal away.

"Should've gone to law school," Nathan replied. He resumed reading his paper.

***

Revenge came that afternoon.

"This can't be good," Nathan said when he saw Peter and Claire sitting together in the room Nathan had taken over for his office. They had near-identical looks of innocence in their eyes. Which proved that they were related, and that Peter should never be left alone long enough to recruit co-conspirators.

"We've been thinking," Peter said.

"Talking," Claire agreed.

"About what you and I discussed this morning?" Peter said, as though trying to prompt Nathan's memory.

"Uh huh." Nathan jerked his thumb towards the hallway. "Hey, Pete, can I see you for a sec?"

"I'm pretty comfy here," Peter told him. He patted the couch he and Claire were on. "This isn't bad for second hand."

Nathan turned to Claire. Ever since he'd saved Peter she had stopped looking at Nathan like he was the source of everything wrong in the universe. Instead he was one of her three favorite people. Or four. Maybe five. Possibly six depending on if Mr. Muggles ranked as a person. "Hey Claire, how about - "

"Fluffy pillows," Claire replied, mirroring Peter's gesture. She was smiling like she was getting ready to be a prom princess. Or torture someone. With Petrelli genes in her it was a close call.

"Great." Nathan pinched the bridge of his nose. Seven. Right under memories of the dog. "You were thinking about - "

"This morning," Claire supplied.

"Over breakfast," Peter added.

Nathan gave up on trying to use words. He shot Peter a glare of Tell me you did not tell Claire about what I told you.

Peter responded with the grimace and open hands of Of course not! How stupid do you think I am?

To which Nathan gave him the raised eyebrows of How much time do we have for that conversation? Because it's going to take a while.

"He looks stressed," Peter said, out loud. He turned to Claire. "Don't you think so?"

"Tired too." Claire brought her right hand up and tapped her index finger against her chin thoughtfully. "Almost as though he's having a hard time relaxing."

"I can't imagine why," Nathan said.

"Stress is not good." Peter turned to Claire as though this was a continuation of their earlier conversation. "I learned about that when I trained to be a nurse."

"It totally shortens your lifespan," Claire said, nodding. "Plus? In my Bio class? We found out that stress in rats? Causes cancer."

"Cancer," Nathan said. "In addition to the shortened lifespan."

Claire pursed her lips as she thought it over. "Yep. That sounds right."

"Very short cancer then?"

"See, Claire," Peter continued, "you and I don't have to worry about that kind of thing. We can heal. So we could spend day after day not sleeping, not having any fun - "

"Wearing suits," Claire suggested.

"Wearing suits." Peter agreed, as though he hadn't thought of that. "And as soon as we stop we're right as rain. Other folks, though - "

"I bet it'd take a while," Claire said. "They'd heal, but slower."

"Which is very sad for them," Peter said.

"Horrible."

"A true tragedy."

"See," Peter leaned over, as though he was confiding something to Claire instead of talking loudly enough that Nathan didn't need an extra superpower to hear him, "that's why if it was me? I'd do something to change that. Make some adjustment in my life so that those people that I cared about would know that they mattered so much to me that I was going to stick around."

"Oh me too," Claire said. "Absolutely. I might even make several changes."

"You're not too old for me to ground you," Nathan said.

"Can you do that?" Claire frowned, though it was a pantomime of confusion. She turned to Peter. "Can he do that?"

"Well," Peter said, "I'm sure an older relative certainly could. So it depends. Are you related to anyone whose driver's license says Bruce Wayne?"

"Hmm." Claire made a show of scratching her head with thought. "Nope. Don't think so. I'd remember the name. It stands out."

"Guess he can't ground you then," Peter replied.

"Who said I was talking about her?" Nathan asked. When Peter only grinned in response, Nathan said, "Okay, what's the bottom line here?"

"We think you should dress more casually," Claire said.

"Oh we do?" Nathan asked, looking at Peter.

"Like maybe a t-shirt?" Claire suggested.

"We live in Colorado," Nathan said. "And it's winter."

"Polo shirt?" Claire tried to come up with more options. "Sweater? Hoodie? Non-dorky golf shirt of some kind?"

"Lose the tie," Peter said, tossing it in there like that hadn't been what he'd had in mind the whole time.

"That'll end this?" Nathan asked. "Tie goes, you two get off my back?"

Not seeing any disagreement from Peter, Claire nodded. "Sure. For now."

"Great." Nathan yanked off his tie and went to hang it back up in his closet.

It wasn't until he got there that he realized he didn't know what he was getting in return for this.

***

"We're having game night."

Nathan put his Blackberry down. He didn't let it go, just lowered it. "Am I going to get any work done today?"

Peter sat on the edge of Nathan's desk. "Everybody's going to be there."

"So I can work then?" Nathan reached over and snatched a letter opener out of Peter's hands just as Peter started fiddling with it.

"You should join us," Peter said. He picked up one of Nathan's pens.

Nathan took the pen from him too. "Why?"

"Because it's fun?" Peter said. "Because it's nice to do something as a group that doesn't involve talking about death or genetics? Because I'm your brother and you care about me?"

"Still not - "

"Try to imagine how much I could bug you if I brought TK into this," Peter said. He tapped Nathan's stapler for emphasis, rattling out a jumble of meaningless Morse Code.

Nathan pulled the stapler out of reach. "If I say yes will you leave me alone?"

"Until tonight, sure."

"Fine."

Peter got off of Nathan's desk. "That wasn't so hard now, was it?"

Nathan somehow managed to refrain from throwing the stapler at Peter's head.

***

Nathan joined in on the game after he'd finally gotten some work done. He didn't wear a golf shirt, dorky or otherwise, but he did roll up his sleeves, grab a beer, then take a spot on the living room floor when there weren't enough chairs to go around. Somebody - Nathan later found out it was Mohinder - had gotten a fire going in the fireplace. Micah and Molly were dressed for bed, and their parents and parental figures had given the okay for a post-dinner snack of hot chocolate.

Niki was sitting cross-legged on the edge of the area rug. She had thick decks of cards in her hands and was showing off her skills at shuffling, flipping, and one-handed cuts of the deck. When Parkman complimented her she blushed and acted like it was no big deal, but smiled all the same.

The cards were from some kind of fruit game Nathan had never heard of. It involved having cards and matching them to other cards, then debating to see whose match was best. Some cards allowed for a write-in, which gave DL a win for pairing "Center of the universe" with "Vegas" and Ando a win for pairing "Awesome" with "Hiro."

In the next round Nathan put in the card "Brother" to match up with "Annoying." He immediately got Claire's vote as she went off on a story about Lyle and flea shampoo and why he was never allowed near her bedroom ever again. It was one of the first times Claire had talked about her other family without looking like she was going to cry. For that Nathan not only won the hand, but got another nod of respect from Bennet in the process.

The game lasted until Molly started to nod off, Parkman joked that he was starting to get too tired to use mind reading to cheat - not that mind reading gave any kind of advantage in a game like this - and Bennet pointed out that it wouldn't be a bad idea for Claire to go to sleep before midnight either. This set off a chain reaction of yawns, stretching, and gathering up supplies as goodnights were said and everyone drifted back to their own personal corners, Nathan and Peter included.

***

"So you're in love with me, huh?"

Nathan looked at the clock. Two in the morning again, as if Peter had deliberately waited that long to ask him the question.

"Yes," Nathan said. Because he knew, now, that saying yes quickly would get Peter to shut up.

"Hey, Nathan?" Peter tugged on Nathan's arm.

Nathan turned over. "Wha - "

And then it was Peter's mouth. And Peter was kissing him. Soft. Lingering. Hand tangling in Nathan's hair. Faint scrape of teeth. Deep. Attentive. Like Peter was devoting everything inside of him to the touch and felt no need to stop anytime soon.

Nathan was breathing hard when they pulled apart. He wanted to say something. He was going to say something. Only no words were coming yet.

"I just wanted you to know." Peter said, enviously calmer, "I'm in love with you too."

The rest of the night was pretty quiet.

***

"Energy and persistence alter all things." - Benjamin Franklin

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