wow this is quite nearly late but happy valentines day @williamherxndale as part of the @upperclassmennet v-day exchange!!! here are some nathaniel hc’s just for you, my sweet connie <3
The only thing Nathaniel fears is his father.
His childhood is unusual, a natural byproduct from life on the run: chased by feds and hounded by Butchers, bleeding from his father’s knives and bruising from his mother’s fists. He does not know what it means to settle down and make friends. He does not want to know, because knowing means staying, and staying means dying.
His mother told him to be anyone but himself. They craft their personas, developing the masks they wear— Alex, Stefan, Chris— but never the people underneath.
Yet there still is a person underneath.
He has his father’s eyes and smile and temper. He has his mother’s paranoia survival instincts and wit and height.
Mary Hartford dies on a California beach after she extracts promises from her son. Nathaniel grieves, but he doesn’t linger, destroying the body, the car, and the phones before fleeing east. He has his mother’s survival instincts, after all.
Although his eye often wandered towards the Exy court, he held back before now; playing means staying, and staying means dying. Nathaniel knows better until grief threatens to drown him in Arizona. Still, he keeps her promises; he keeps his father’s tongue in check so that he doesn’t get caught, and he makes no friends, choosing instead to make plans on where to go next.
He shoves Nathaniel deep down. Neil takes his place, fitting quite comfortably, and Nathaniel doesn’t emerge again. Not when Andrew Minyard comes at him with a racquet, not when
That is, until that fateful interview with Kathy Ferdinand.
The only thing Nathaniel fears is his father. This man, with a one tattooed on his cheek and his words like knives to Kevin’s guts, is not his father, nor is he anyone who commands his father’s attention.
So Nathaniel doesn’t fear him.
So Nathaniel tears Riko apart on live television.
Later, Neil will come back with all of his fears, and will almost regret this. Later, he’ll want to run, because if his personas share anything, it’s that their quick with their tongues and quick to flee.
Neil is an “easily spooked runaway,” but Nathaniel is all temper and instinct. He only resurfaces when Riko needs to be taken down a notch, when grief for his mother consumes everything, or when playing Exy.
Neil and Nathaniel can both agree; they live for Exy.
For six months, Nathaniel watches quietly as Neil makes friends and becomes a real person. They’re quite similar, really, except Neil is afraid of more than just his father. He’s softer, breakable. Human.
Maybe that’s why, when Lola handcuffs him in a car and drives a cigarette lighter into his face, Nathaniel takes control. Neil does not deserve his final moments to be blood and pain and regret. He has no business in Baltimore; his place is with the Foxes. Nathaniel pushes Neil down so that he lives on with his friends, untainted.
It’s too late for Nathaniel. He was tainted at birth. He was tainted when the Butcher first shoved a knife into his hands.
The only thing Nathaniel fears is his father, but he’s willing to face his fears to protect the part of him that learned to love.
On a happier note! He gets rescued, and Nathaniel can sit back.
Of course, this drama loving hoe does not stop running his mouth.
When he mouths off reporters? Nathaniel. When he taunts Riko after winning the championship (almost getting himself killed jesus christ)? Nathaniel. When he punches Jack in the face and says that he didn’t survive Baltimore just to put up with a whiny child’s petty jealousy? All Nathaniel.
Then there are the days when he awakens from dreams of knives and auburn hair and blue eyes. That’s Nathaniel too. Andrew knows the difference by now. He puts a hand on the back of Nathaniel’s neck and keeps him grounded until his eyes (his eyes, his father’s eyes) focus again.
Nathaniel might not say it, but he appreciates it more than anything. Before the Foxes, he would never have been able to imagine having a boyfriend, someone he could trust with his entire soul. But he has Andrew.