Title: Family Psychology
Author: Del Rion (delrion.mail (at) gmail.com)
Era: Pre-Heroes, Post-Heroes
Rating: K+ / FRC
Characters: Angela Petrelli, Nathan Petrelli, Peter Petrelli
Summary: Peter wants to know how his family works.
Written for: Heroes_Contest’s (heroes_contest) One-shot Challenge 16: Psychology
Warnings: Some language. Slight spoilers for season 1. Implied alcohol use and a homosexual encounter.
Beta: Mythra (mythras_fire)
Disclaimer: The show, its characters, its places, and everything else, belong to Tim Kring and the other respective creators and owners of ‘Heroes’. I have made no profit by writing this story, and make no claim over the show.
Feedback: The good, the bad, the ugly – as long as it’s fair, keep it coming.
About Family Psychology: A story that started on a bus, and sounded good enough to be continued and finished for the challenge. It still is rather random, though. Don’t take it too seriously.
Exploring Petrelli family relationships is always fun. Poor Peter never has it easy, does he?
Story and its status: Below you see the writing process of the story. If there is no text after the title, then it is finished and checked. Possible updates shall be marked after the title.
Written for Heroes_Contest’s One-shot Challenge16 (Psychology).
“Petrelli!” a voice called out.
Both Nathan and Peter automatically turned to look, but Peter was still focused on his ice cream rather than the man coming towards them.
“Hey, Peter,” the man said once he reached them – and just as quickly turned his eyes towards Nathan. There was some strange psychology whereby everyone only ever called Nathan “Petrelli” – Peter was always just “Peter”, or something far less dignified when they were still younger.
“How’s it going, Steven?” Nathan smiled smoothly, but Peter could tell his brother didn’t particularly care for this person; he had that look on his face – the one to fool the public eye into thinking he was out saving babies from burning buildings in his spare time – and that tone that indicated he wished this chat to be over soon. Peter knew because he often got both. Steven went on about his career, being careful to subtly yet efficiently kiss Nathan’s ass whenever he could; Peter focused on licking his ice cream, eventually lamenting the fact that he was left with only the wooden stick in his hand.
“Look, I would love to stay and chat, but I need to take Peter home,” Nathan finally said. “Sure,” Steven replied hastily. Had it been one of their family’s female friends, he probably would have ruffled Peter’s hair at this point. “Maybe we could catch a drink sometime?”
“Sure,” Nathan said, meaning he was planning to do no such thing. “You realize that excuse about ‘taking Peter home’ got a little old after I turned sixteen?” Peter noted as they began to walk again.
“As long as it works,” Nathan decided. “Do you want another ice cream?” He only asked to make sure Peter didn’t ruin his future exits at his bother’s expense.
And of course Peter was always up for another free ice cream. Who wouldn’t?
There was some weird family psychology about Nathan being allowed to fuck anyone he wanted, but Peter immediately getting disapproving glances from their mother whenever he did such a thing. And when Angela Petrelli got upset, it lasted for weeks. Peter believed it was so that everyone got her point and couldn’t possibly miss it.
Her argument, when Peter claimed how unjustly he was being handled, was that Peter didn’t think of his family’s reputation. “Nathan does it discretely. You, on the other hand, paraded around with that…”
“Drag queen,” Peter sighed. “And it was only one night! After a party! I was drunk, wanting to explore the possibilities this modern world has to offer. And he was nice.”
“Nice doesn’t save face for your family. If anyone ever finds out –”
“So this is all about Nathan?” Peter interrupted, which of course offended Angela. But Peter was already walking out on their argument, knowing there was nothing more to be added to it.
Yes, there was one family rule that had been branded into his brain since he was a kid: always think of Nathan first.
Sometimes Peter wondered what his life would have been like had he been born first. He usually wanted to get impossibly drunk after finishing that thought.
The psychological condition between them must have been categorized under “abnormal”. Peter saw no other way around it. After all, one day Nathan was willing to have Peter popping pills for dreaming that he could fly and publicly claim that Peter was depressed to gain himself some sympathy votes, then the next he was flying his brother to safety so that he wouldn’t blow up the entire city – which had actually been an idea Nathan was voting for, just hours before.
“I love you, Pete,” didn’t quite cover it, but usually that and a hug were enough to stop Peter from worrying about it more than he absolutely needed to.
It was a complex mix of love, hate, jealousy and mistrust which only got worse over the years. Peter wasn’t certain if he understood it, and he didn’t have high hopes for anyone else doing so either.
Of course that didn’t mean he didn’t feel the temptation to solve the mystery every now and then. Nathan just loved it when he did that.
“Are we done?” he whined.
“We could go see a few more things,” Peter answered.
“We’ve already crept around to see a dozen displays of weird family events,” Nathan groused.
“Crept around isn’t what we’ve been doing; standing there invisible is the same as being in plain sight, but… not being seen.” Peter didn’t really know what to call it other than being invisible and trying to breathe very quietly while not bumping into anyone.
“Either way…” Nathan sounded as if he didn’t give a shit about Peter’s quest to find out what really made their family tick “The only thing we’re going to find out is that you hated dad and resented me all your childhood years, and that you were being treated like a second-class citizen by your own family.”
“Now that’s just you being dramatic,” Peter rolled his eyes at his brother. “You’re saying that only because you want us to go back.”
“This time traveling makes me nervous,” Nathan replied.
“We’ll go soon enough. We’re not changing anything, and no one is seeing us.”
“Until you sneeze and lose your concentration,” the older man muttered.
Peter snorted. “For your information, I have practiced my concentration. And besides, I can change reality and control minds, so it isn’t as if it’s the end of the world if someone sees us…”
Nathan threw up his hands and sat down on the bench beside them, breaking contact with Peter and becoming visible. A pigeon that had been walking nearby took flight in sudden panic. Otherwise they were alone, if you didn’t count the Petrelli family on the far side of the park. Angela was just now lecturing Peter on looking like a hippie. His hair sure was longer than it was now…
Peter smiled, looking at them. Nathan was looking bored, aviator sunglasses on his face, probably thinking of the cases waiting on his desk at work. Peter reached out with his mind, and flushed a little at the thoughts he encountered in his brother’s head instead.
Nathan was giving him a look as he turned visible with a cough, and Peter offered him a lopsided grin. “I would have never thought such a thing about you. In the Oval Office…”
His brother scoffed. There was no way he could remember what he had been thinking on this particular day, several decades back, but maybe he had an idea. “Can we go now?” he demanded.
“Maybe just a few more events….” Peter brooded. He had a list in his pants pocket.
“If I buy you ice cream, will you then take us back home?”
Peter considered that, then decided they could always take another trip later. “Sure.”
“Finally,” Nathan muttered, getting up to drag Peter towards an ice cream vendor they had passed earlier.