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Summer House

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The sun shone around the crisp outlines of the shadow that fell over Peter's chest and face. He slid his sunglasses off and smiled up at his brother. "Hey."

Nathan's face was shadowed, but Peter felt the weight of his frown. "Skin cancer. Now there's a good look for you."

Peter rolled his eyes. "It's summer. I'm eighteen. I can lay out if I feel like it."

"You can also, apparently, run away when Mom suggests you get a job." Peter finally noticed that Nathan was still in his shirtsleeves, and snorted.

"You came all the way up here from work to be Mom's errand boy? That's pretty damn pathetic." One point in Peter's favor already, but judging by Nathan's frown, the battle hadn't even begun. Peter slid his shades back over his eyes and lay back, trying to catch the last of the sunlight. "Besides, I don't feel like working in some stuffy law firm all summer."

Peter heard Nathan's jaw click open and closed a couple of times before he got an appropriate reply together, and pressed his grin back.

"You're going to need the connections, Peter." That was Nathan's be reasonable, Peter, listen to your successful big brother voice. Peter had long since gotten over it.

"What if I don't care about the connections?" he shrugged.

Nathan sighed, and started the lecture again. Peter mouthed along and rocked his head from side to side, much to Nathan's annoyance. "You should care about them. Hard work and luck will only get you so far. It's about the people you meet and impress."

Peter kept his eyes closed and his lips pressed together, trying not to smirk. "You finished?"

"I guess," was Nathan's wary reply.

"Good." Peter stretched and curled up to a sitting position. "Because you know what? I don't really give a fuck. I think I'll stay up here at the beach house. Maybe get a job with Raoul's landscaping business. Or the DOT. Something that's outdoors and fresh air." Peter considered. "Well, more or less."

Nathan rolled his eyes. "You going native on me? And there's no way in hell I'm going to tell Mom you've taken up manual labor."

Peter snorted and smiled his best smile. "And here I thought Nathan Petrelli was going to be America's next great communicator."

Nathan laughed, finally giving up on the battle and sat on the sand next to Peter's lounge. "You're still a little shit, you know that?"

"Yeah, but I'm your little shit with a case of beer in the fridge. Want one?" Peter figured he could afford to be gracious in victory.

"You're too young to have beer," was Nathan's automatic reply, but he stood and brushed sand off his pants. "What kind?"

"Not your jurisdiction, lawyer-boy, and you're the one who gave me my first wine cooler when I was, what, twelve? And I thought some PBR would fit my career choices nicely." Nathan's frown and glower made Peter burst out laughing. "Nah. Some of that Sam Adams stuff you like. C'mon. Inside."

The Petrelli beach house was a modest place--only three bedrooms, as opposed to the six of the Manhattan townhouse and the ten of the Sands Point estate. But there was a private beach, and both Nathan and Peter had spent several summers there.

Of course, once Nathan had gotten old enough to start making "connections," the family's visits had been curtailed. Peter still had some lingering resentment from that. It totally wasn't fair to deny a summer at the beach to an eight-year-old boy just because some people wanted to keep his big brother at work all day.

Which explained why, once he got his own car for his sixteenth birthday, Peter made a point of driving up to Cape Cod at least twice a year. His parents didn't care too much, unless they needed him for something.

Another bitter thought to wash down with another bitter swallow of beer. Peter grimaced and shifted around on the couch, trying to get comfortable again. He was nicely mellow, and Nathan was a bit further along, twirling his fourth bottle in the air with his fingers.

Peter smiled. Despite their differences, it made Peter happy to see Nathan relax. "Need a fresh one?"

"Nah," replied Nathan, who turned to face Peter head on. "You serious about the DOT job?"

Peter shook his head. "Not really. I just don't want ..." He sighed. "Look, you're a lawyer, Dad's in whatever kind of business he does... I'm just not that guy, you know?"

Nathan's face clouded briefly at the mention of their father, but he shrugged it away. "So, don't let them railroad you. Mom can be insistent."

"Tell me about it." Peter let his head fall backwards so he could watch the beaded boards in the ceiling. He had a sudden thought and laughed quietly. At Nathan's raised eyebrow, Peter explained, "Too bad I'm not artistically inclined. Mom would have a cow if I became a painter or something, wouldn't she?"

Nathan snickered. "Peter Petrelli, great American novelist."

"Hey!" Peter tossed a wadded up beer label at his brother. "I can write. Sort of."

Nathan rolled his eyes. "Yeah, you took composition with Mrs. Reilly, and she gives easy A's to all the cute boys in her class."

"Hey, you're the one who told me to smile at her." Peter shot back.

"It worked, didn't it?" Nathan picked up the beer label and began spreading it flat against the coffee table. "But Mrs. Reilly's class wasn't the most challenging. You probably write like I do, competently, but..." Nathan shrugged.

"Whatever." Peter shrugged. "I don't really have that urge anyway, you know?" Nathan nodded in quiet solidarity. Peter took another swig of beer. "I just don't see me going into business or law."

Nathan shrugged. "You're still young. You can figure it out. College is good for that."

"I guess." Peter put his bottle down. "I'm wiped. Sun and beer does that to me." He stood and stretched. "Hey, Nathan?"

"Hm?" Nathan stopped in the midst of picking up their empties and looked up at Peter, a fond smile on his face.

Peter smiled back. "Leave that stuff for the morning. Remember that bunk bed we used to sleep in?"

"What about it?" Nathan's fingers were still twitching in the direction of the random mess they had made.

"Last one upstairs gets the bottom bunk." Peter whooped and started racing towards the stairs. He laughed as he heard Nathan push off from the sofa and stumble into a run just on Peter's heels.

God, he loved the beach house.