Rating: PG (language)
Disclaimer: Heroes belongs to NBC, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer belongs to FOX (I only mentioned Buffy, but I just want to be safe.
Author's note: Written for the mission_insane prompt, "Fireflies." This is the second part of the Moving series. Many thanks to oh_mcgee for providing a metaphor that allowed me to make "Fireflies" work.
Summary: Nathan calls Peter.
(Fear Of the Future)
“When a firefly is trapped, its light will diminish and eventually die.”
Peter was used to being alone; his parents were often out of town, and his brother was usually busy with work and his own family. He had a life of his own as well, but he had graduated from high school, and his friends were getting ready to go away for college; they spent most of their time out partying—something that Peter just wasn’t in the mood for.
Lately, Peter had found himself lazing around, becoming increasingly agitated as his mother smothered him, his father avoided him, and they both discussed him when they thought he wasn’t listening. At first, he’d been annoyed, but now anxiety was beginning to seep in as well, keeping him up late at night, making him absent-minded and putting him in a generally foul mood.
Nathan hadn’t been much help, but not because he hadn’t tried; Peter had refused to call him after his first failed attempt, not wanting to bother him, but now he found himself constantly looking at the phone, believing that things just might get better if he told his big brother everything. Of course, this happened between times when Nathan called him, trying to find out what was wrong and nagging him until he snapped that everything was fine and hung up.
Now Peter was stuck at home on a Tuesday night, not eating any of the leftovers taken out of the refrigerator, and not watching the latest episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He sighed for the umpteenth time and shifted positions on the couch, stretching out and rolling over onto his stomach so that his left arm was draping off the edge and brushing against the floor. He was almost grateful when the relative silence of the house was interrupted by the electronic ringing of the telephone. He lifted the cordless out of its cradle and wedged it between his shoulder and the sofa cushion. “‘Lo?” he muttered, almost certain of who was calling.
“Peter? It’s Nathan.”
Peter rolled his eyes. “No, really?” he said sarcastically, muting the TV.
“Have Ma and Dad left for the fundraiser yet?” Nathan asked, seeming distracted by something—he was probably reviewing the details of yet another important case.
“Uh, yeah,” Peter replied, trailing his fingertips back and forth on the thick, soft carpet, “they left awhile ago, Nate.”
“…Right. Do you want to go catch dinner and a movie tomorrow night?” A brief pause stretched out between them, then Nathan added, “We don’t have to go if you already made plans.” When Peter continued to remain silent, the older Petrelli sighed. “Come on, Pete. I’m trying here.”
Peter closed his eyes and breathed in. “No, you’re fine. It’s just… I just don’t want to be with people right now; I’ll drag ‘em down and I don’t want to be a pain in the ass.” Even as he spoke, he could feel tears stinging the backs of his eyes and matting his lashes. He clenched his jaw in frustration, refusing to be a weak bitch while he was talking to his brother.
He could hear Nathan drop a pen onto his desk. “Peter, you need to get out and do something; you’ve just been inactive for a little too long.” He hesitated for a moment, and Peter could practically see him leaning forward in his chair, bringing the phone close to his lips so he could whisper, “Besides, I miss you.”
Peter’s cheeks flushed, even as his throat constricted. He squirmed slightly on the furniture, maneuvering his right arm so it was curled up underneath his head. “I miss you, too.” He exhaled, trying to figure out how to explain himself to his brother. “I feel… I feel like I’m drowning here, Nathan,” he whispered, grimacing at how melodramatic he sounded. “It’s just… I don’t know how to describe it.” He braced himself for some version of a brush-off, and was surprised when Nathan said simply, “Move out.”
“Yeah, just move out,” Peter scoffed, rolling over so he was lying on his back. “Because I have somewhere to go and the means to pay for it, and I’m sure Mom would be thrilled at the prospect of me just packing up my stuff tonight and taking off.” He smirked, almost tempted to try it.
“I’m serious, Pete,” Nathan persisted, his tone determined. “If living at home is making you this miserable, it’s time to get out.” Peter could hear a rustling noise on the other end of the line. “I’ve got some people I could call for available apartments; you can start looking at locations tomorrow. I’d be there with you, but I’ve got the Barry case to deal with.”
“Uh, Nathan,” Peter cut in, pushing his feet against the arm of the couch in order to lever himself up into a half-sitting position. “Money, remember? I don’t even have a job.”
“Lisa’s sister has an opening for a barista in her coffee shop,” Nathan suggested, “and I’ll pay the rent on your apartment.” Peter opened his mouth to protest, but Nathan rushed to add, “You can just worry about staples until you can afford to make rent on your own—you’ve got school to focus on right now anyway.”
“Nathan…” Peter hesitated, not wanting to be completely dependent on his big brother. “I don’t know…”
“Oh, come on, Pete. At least this way you won’t end up hating each other there.” Before Peter could protest further, Nathan said, “All you have to do is check out some places and let me know what you think, okay? We’ll talk about the rest later.”
Peter closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose, unconsciously emulating his older brother. “Fine,” he agreed, part of him liking the idea of Nathan paying for his apartment—at least this way he might get to see him more. “Give me the list,” he prompted, grabbing a pen so he could write the information down. He could practically feel Nathan’s triumphant grin. “Good,” the older Petrelli said before reading off his list of addresses to look over. Maybe Nathan was right; a change could be good for him, and eventually he would be able to afford the rent on his own and maybe even pay his brother back—if Nathan would let him.