Characters/Pairings: Nathan, Tim Kring
Spoilers: 4x13 – “Upon This Rock”
Warnings: Lots of threats and swearing
Disclaimer: Heroes belongs to Tim Kring, NBC et al
A/N: Written for the Nathan Petrelli Memorial Kink Meme for the prompt: “The character gets PISSED at what he's been put through over the past few years and goes APOCALYPTIC on his creator's ass. Catharsis ensues.”
Summary: Every creator has wondered what their creations would say to them free of the page or screen. Meeting Nathan one evening doesn’t quite go how Tim Kring had imagined.
“It wasn’t enough, was it?”
Tim looked up from a batch of paperwork on his desk (it multiplied when he wasn’t looking, he was certain of it), blinking in bewilderment when he saw Adrian standing in the doorway, in full Nathan makeup and wardrobe. All of Adrian’s scenes were filmed, all the voiceovers were done, all the promo photography and magazine shoots were done, so there was absolutely no reason for Adrian to have gone through the entire rigmarole just to talk to him. Unless this was some kind of elaborate practical joke or something.
“What?” Tim asked tiredly. He had been invited to dinner with Adrian, Natalie, and Milo later, if he wasn’t completely dead from the paperwork, and there was no way he’d ever actually get done if he played along with Adrian’s game.
“It wasn’t enough to make me such a stone-cold bastard in the first season that I turned away my baby brother when he needed help. The finale helped redeem me, don’t get me wrong, but up until then? I was a dick,” Adrian said, in a full Nathan-style low growl.
Tim put his eyebrow up. Maybe Adrian had Milo nearby with his camera filming this stunt for his YouTube channel. Some kind of weird fan catharsis or something; stranger things had happened.
“Then second season, you turn me into a self-pitying drunk that drove away his own wife and kids. After you crippled me with horrific radiation burns. I can’t tell you how much that hurt. The morphine did almost nothing, and I was in complete agony for four damn months. And I thought Peter was dead for almost half a year. Do you have any idea what that did to me? It damn near killed me! Peter… God, I couldn’t be there for Peter after I finally got my priorities straight. The first time I could even do anything for him, you shoot me and have me nearly bleed out in his arms. If you didn’t care what you were doing to me, why didn’t you care what you were doing to Peter? He’s the one that’s always been trying to save the world!” Adrian took a step forward, fists clenched, face a mask of fury.
Tim’s other eyebrow had crept up. He thought they were in danger of being lost on the upper regions of his forehead. Ok, maybe Adrian was doing some personal catharsis for his character…
“Third season, damn. If I hadn’t known better, I would have assumed I was schizophrenic from all the times I kept switching sides. Religious fanatic, mama’s boy, father’s boy, head of the new Captain America program, head of a damned concentration camp, were you just throwing darts at character motivation from week to week? Because I could barely wrap my head around it all. And I threatened my brother with death and drove him away. It took being shoved out a window for me to admit any kind of responsibility for running specials down like rabid dogs. What in the name of God was that about?
“Then right when I was starting to have something resembling normalcy… Well, barring that bit in Mexico with Claire. That was not particularly wholesome, you realize that, right? After that, I finally get to go after someone that we’ve been trying to kill forever, and you have me do a damnfool move and go after Sylar alone. You killed me, you heartless bastard. Right after Peter had forgiven me, when Claire was actually starting to trust me in some little way, you killed me! That hurt like hell! Do you have any damn idea what it feels like to bleed out through your neck?”
Tim had retreated into the back of his chair and his chair had retreated to the back wall. He had never gotten this kind of unbridled rage out of Adrian during any performance; they saved that kind of fury for Zach or Milo’s scenes.
“If that wasn’t enough, I can’t even believe the bullshit you pulled next. Forcing Sylar to become me? Did you want everyone to hate Angela and Noah? And poor Matt, you fucked him over royally too.” Adrian advanced a few steps, coming around the desk and leaning over so he could spit right in Tim’s face. He was getting scared, seriously frightened. Hadn’t they discussed all the plot twists before? Adrian had been on board with all of Nathan’s developments, or at least he had acted the hell out of them, regardless of any deficiencies in the plots. He was an easy-going guy; Tim had never seen him get this mad before…
The phone rang. Adrian pulled back a notch and gestured for Tim to answer, his smile shark-like, like he was getting ready to lunge in and draw blood.
“Hello?” Tim managed.
“Tim? Tim hey, it’s Adrian.”
Tim felt a faint roaring in his ears.
“Hey, just wanted to let you know our babysitter canceled, so Nat and I had to find a replacement. I think we’re going to be able to make dinner, but we’re going to be late, ok?”
Tim stared up into Adrian’s -no, Nathan’s- face, and couldn’t say a word. Nathan only broadened his fierce smile.
“Tim? Hello? You still there?”
“Yeah, ok. See you there,” Tim said faintly, and turned off his phone. Nathan plucked it from his grasp and tossed it on the desk.
Tim half-expected Nathan to vanish when they touched, but there was no such luck. He felt solid and real. Insanely, impossibly real. Tim was reasonably certain he wasn’t insane, but he couldn’t think of another way to explain what was happening. Any writer, any creator sometimes wondered what his own creations might say if they had the chance to speak to them directly, instead of through the medium of scripts and actors and wardrobe. Somehow this wasn’t exactly turning out as Tim had imagined.
“That still wasn’t enough, was it?” Nathan hissed, looming over Tim. “I had to share a body with Sylar, had to fight that psychotic monster for months until Peter was finally able to let me go. You screwed over my family, Kring. You put my mother through hell and nearly killed my brother. You gave Claire more issues than any three teenagers combined. Peter… He wasn’t doing very well before now, not with everything else you put him through, but now? He went and got himself shot to try to prove something! Don’t you care what you’re doing to us, you heartless bastard?”
Nathan grabbed Tim by the front of his shirt and hauled him out of his chair. Unrelenting, Nathan dragged him out of his trailer and onto the lot. It didn’t occur to Tim to even put up a token resistance. Part of him was just dying to see what happened next.
“You don’t understand who you’re dealing with.” Then Nathan wrapped his arms around Tim in a brutal embrace and hurled himself into the smoggy L.A. sky. Tim repressed a faint shriek and frantically popped his ears again and again to equalize the pressure, too afraid of blowing out his eardrums to worry about how he was now God-knows how high above the city with nothing between him and a very long drop but a pissed-off character of his own design.
Tim revised his opinion when Nathan stopped ascending. Yes, he could be terrified of heights too. Very, very terrified of heights. How had he never considered some of the practicalities of flight? It was cold up here, his ears were still popping, the wind was brutal, the air seemed thin, and there was still absolutely nothing stopping him from falling but Nathan’s whim.
“How?” Tim finally got out, not able to meet Nathan’s eyes.
“I don’t think you deserve an answer to that,” Nathan growled. “You spent four years killing me, slowly. I’m the one that deserves answers. And you should be glad it’s me and not one of the others. Eden would humiliate you. Elle would have already killed you. Danko would have probably gone after your family. Jessica too. Niki and D.L. might have been nicer, but they’re still pretty mad about being taken away from their kid. Arthur I don’t even like to think about. And all of Sylar’s victims? Well, that would have been like being torn apart by ants. They’d all want a piece of you. Be grateful it was me.”
Tim managed to look up and give a very meek nod, swallowing dryly.
“Tell me why,” Nathan demanded.
Tim had to swallow twice to get enough spit to answer. “Nathan was important,” he said.
Nathan glared at him in pure hatred. Then he let Tim go.
He shrieked in registers that probably could have only been picked up by bats, right until Nathan caught him again, cracking ribs with the force of tackling him in mid-air.
“Important, you righteous little shit? How was I important when you spit on me in every season finale and fucked me over with every new character development?”
“You-, you were important! You had the power to change the world everyone lived in, all at once. Not like Sylar; he could only affect one person at a time. But Nathan, you could change everything. You affected a lot of people around you. You made things happen, just by being who you were. Every time you died, you sent huge ripples through every part of the world-,” Tim cut himself off as Nathan loosened his grip. Tim tried to cling on, praying he wouldn’t be dropped again.
“Cut the bullshit. The rhetoric might play well at Comic-Con or an interview, but I think I know better,” Nathan said.
“Ok, ok!” Tim yelled. “We couldn’t have you change the world too much! Those future episodes are kind of fun to do for a one-off, but it’s a hell of a lot easier to keep things as normal as possible. If you had really blown up New York, or told people about specials, or even killed our most popular villain, the rest of the writers would have been screwed. We’d have to completely change our own basic background canon for some of that stuff, and that means changing a lot of wardrobe, props, and a hell of a lot more make-up. It’s expensive, and we’re on a budget! And we really couldn’t get rid of Sylar; he’s too damn popular.”
“Just consider yourself lucky you never killed him permanently. Just think of what he’d have to say to you.”
“Oh God,” Tim said, closing his eyes briefly. “Zach was doing all that Star Trek stuff, and we had some new writers, and the whole character became a real mess. I got nothing, really. We’ve been trying to fix it for a while.”
Nathan was silent for a moment and Tim dared to open his eyes again. A smirk was on Nathan’s lips.
“Glad to hear you admit it. The rest of us were getting pretty worried. Sylar was getting worried too. He never knows what he’s going to be on any given day. I mean, you fucked me sideways for three and half seasons, but at least I got a break from time to time. You don’t let up on him. Or Peter,” Nathan said.
“Peter’s going to be ok-,” Tim started tentatively.
“Peter’s been through hell and back,” Nathan said sternly. “You made us close, so damn close, even when we were arguing and nearly at each other’s throats. We love each other so damn much, and then you just knocked that emotional support out from under him when you killed me. What’s he supposed to do now, without me? Who’s he supposed to turn to, to lean on? Claire? She shouldn’t have to shoulder that burden. Noah? He’ll use Peter as much as helping him. Ma? She’s barely holding things together as-is. And I miss him Tim, I miss him so damn much… Hell, I miss him more than I miss my own children, that’s how important you made him to me. That’s how much I lost when you killed me, finally.”
Tim wasn’t shocked to see tears in Nathan’s eyes, not when he was talking about leaving Peter behind. Adrian and Milo had always poured heart and soul into Nathan and Peter’s scenes, bringing to mind a relationship far closer than brothers, more like soulmates. Or long-time lovers. The whole cast and crew had been chuckling about that, egging them on since the pilot. Tim had found it pretty funny too, everyone had. But when confronted with the reality of that love, right in front of him, he felt lower than dog dirt for being responsible for separating them.
“I’m sorry,” Tim said. “I’m really, really sorry. I knew it was going to be tough. This show isn’t easy at all… The cast is so big, and sometimes we have to make sacrifices for the story. We aren’t going to forget Nathan.”
“Not with a funeral like that. Not with Peter taking flight back,” Nathan cut in, eyes softening as they looked inward.
“No… I know we’re going to have Nathan’s influence in the show as long as it runs. You know that, right?” Tim pleaded, feeling Nathan’s grip on him wavering.
“They’re never going to forget me,” Nathan said softly. His eyes hardened, and he caught Tim’s gaze in an unbreakable stare, his hands purposefully sliding so Tim was at a precarious angle, almost ready to drop. “You listen to me, you egotistical little man. Treat Claire right. She’s just a kid, and you’ve dropped things on her that would have floored her dad. She’s going to turn into that crazy, sadistic killer we saw in the future unless you let her have a little love.” Nathan paused and revised his statement. “Something real, not trips to Mexico with her bio-dad or surprise lesbian encounters without consequences, got it? If you’re going to do something, give her some happiness, not more angst.”
Tim nodded faintly, wishing he could write this down.
“For fuck’s sake, don’t forget about my sons either. It’s heartless to drop of pair of kids that young into my world, get them embroiled with my family, and then forget about them. Don’t be a dick about it.”
Nodding more frantically, looking over his shoulder at the long drop below, Tim was ready to agree to just about anything.
“Last thing,” Nathan said, and his voice became soft. “Take care of Peter. God knows he’s not going to have it easy. But don’t let him forget… Don’t let him forget all the things he’s learned.”
“He won’t forget you,” Tim said, realizing what Nathan would want to hear.
Nathan looked at him sharply, and nodded in satisfaction. Then his lips twisted in a wicked grin, and he dropped, taking Tim with him. Screaming in fear, ears popping again and again, Tim closed his eyes against the rushing wind and prayed the end would be quick. Then everything lurched sideways, sharp enough to give him whiplash, and his feet were back on the ground. Prying one reluctant eye open, Tim realized they were standing in front of his trailer again, back on terra firma.
Nathan let him go, but stayed in his space, close enough to make Tim break out in a sweat of pure nerves.
“You’re like a god, you know,” Nathan said casually. “You gave us life, and power. Once we’re free, we can do what we want, but you still have your responsibilities to us. Don’t you ever forget that.”
A rush of wind, and Nathan was gone into the night sky. Tim staggered in relief, wincing at his cracked ribs and sore neck. Limping slightly, he went back into his trailer for his phone. He had to get to the restaurant, and have a very long talk with Adrian and Milo. He needed to learn a little something else about their characters and what made them tick. And he had to listen this time, and make it work. Because that was his responsibility.