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A Monster’s Nature by phylos is an AU of the film Brightburn, starting when Brandon Breyer visits his classmate, Caitlyn Connors, to apologise for breaking her wrist. Where in canon Caitlyn rejected him out of fear, in this version of events she tentatively 'accepts' Brandon’s apology, starting a new twisted chain of events that draws her closer to Brandon and simultaneously further from humanity, even as Brandon becomes that little bit more ‘human’ in the process.

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A Monster’s Nature contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: The mother of Caitlyn's friend Gwen is revealed to be a drug addict who often hits Gwen; along with her grandmother being in hospital while her father tries to find work, it is almost understandable that Gwen would consider any change in her accommodation to be an improvement.
  • Adaptational Heroism: To a degree; Brandon still uses his powers primarily for his own 'benefit' (albeit with a relatively unrefined agenda), but considering that in canon he destroyed an entire plane just to cover up three deaths, it is significant that he takes care to keep Caitlyn safe when facing AN-3.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Compared to canon and based on Caitlyn’s perspective, anyway; the Breyers attempting to kill Brandon out of fear might be understandable considering his recent actions, but the Breyers asking a thirteen-year-old girl to kill their son for them is crossing several lines.
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  • Admiring the Abomination: Even when he learns that Brandon’s coming to kill him, Doctor Morgan Bishop continues to be impressed by Brandon’s abilities before any other response.
  • Adult Fear: Caitlyn’s mother is constantly terrified as she learns more about what Brandon is capable of and his ‘fixation’ on her daughter.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Basically defied; Caitlyn loves Brandon despite knowing everything he's done, but when they briefly 'break up', she dates a kind boy in the grade above her, but can't forget her feelings for Brandon.
  • Anonymous Benefactor: The mysterious 'K.C.' initially attempts to act as such, but drops this when Caitlyn spends a few weeks being held captive by the government before being rescued by 'Brightburn'.
  • Appropriated Appelation: Brandon officially adopts the name ‘Brightburn’ as the plot unfolds.
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  • Area 51: Apparently Project B2- the official name for the government project to research Brightburn- was holding him at Area 51.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Most of the time Brandon can deflect Caitlyn’s attempt to come up with one by focusing on the ‘evidence’ of his own superiority, but the idea of her leaving or getting killed forces him to verbally confirm that she’s important to him, as well as a tentative concession that not all humans are worthless to assure her that she does have value to him despite his superiority.
  • Asshole Victim: Regardless of her discomfort at the ease with which Brandon kills people, even Caitlyn doesn’t feel that sorry after Brandon kills most of the research team that had been holding them captive and had killed her mother.
  • Better the Devil You Know: Caitlyn adopts this philosophy when she receives an e-mail from ‘K.C.’ offering to help her get away from Brandon; as she reasons to herself, she isn’t going to trust someone she’s never met when she already knows Brandon won’t hurt her.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Most of the time Brandon's acts of destruction are relatively impersonal, but any attempt to keep him and Caitlyn apart sets him off.
    • In chapter 29, while Brandon was tolerating talking with the cultists and treating them in a civil manner, he becomes briefly outraged at the implication that they were taking precautions to ensure his safety as he is certain of his invulnerability.
  • Beware the Superman: Naturally applies, considering Brandon’s abilities.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology:
    • An examination of Brandon affirms that some elements of his DNA defy categorisation by Earth science, although scientists speculate he might be able to breed with humans.
    • After Brandon spends around three weeks being constantly gassed into unconsciousness and nearly starves to death, he quickly regains most of his lost weight by gorging himself on raw meat and other protein-rich foods.
  • Blood Knight: Brandon basically comes across as this as he enjoys any opportunity to use his powers, to the point of enjoying the chance to face AN-3 in battle for the sake of finally having an opponent he can't just take down with one hit, even if he acknowledges the need to keep Caitlyn safe during the fight.
  • Boldly Coming: Basically applies to Brandon and Caitlyn, although Caitlyn initially turned down Brandon’s ‘offers’ of sex as she didn’t feel ready for that kind of intimacy yet. After a near-escape from a plane crash, they engage in a brief session of mutual masturbation, Brandon eats Caitlyn out and Caitlyn gives him a blowjob during their time in a hotel before they go to Greece, and they have sex for the first time around midnight on Brandon's fifteenth birthday when Caitlyn is consoling him after his first actual loss.
  • Break the Cutie: Caitlyn is faced with a burden that would be incredible for anyone to bear, as she has to face the fact that the only reason the most powerful being on Earth hasn’t destroyed the planet yet is that he’s attracted to her.
  • Brutal Honesty: Brandon and Caitlyn eventually establish this dynamic with each other, with Caitlyn in particular able to get away with her ‘defiance’ of admitting that she wishes Brandon was normal by conceding that if it’s a choice between not having Brandon in her life and having him in her life while he kills people, she’d rather be with him (although she does request he not kill people in front of her any more).
  • Chekhov's Gun: Potentially applies to the shard of Brandon's ship that the Breyers gave to Caitlyn so that she could kill Brandon with it; Caitlyn loses track of the shard after that night until after she and Brandon escape from Project B2, and when she rediscovers it she takes it with her only until she can find some way to dispose of it.
  • Comically Missing the Point: When the President receives a call from Project B2 to get permission to detonate nuclear weapons to try and kill Brandon, even after hearing Brandon threaten to destroy Washington DC if nobody tells him where Caitlyn is right then, the president’s immediate response is to express incredulity that ‘Brightburn’ has a girlfriend.
  • The Corruptor: Brandon’s ship is heavily implied to be this, with Caitlyn attempting to encourage Brandon to ignore it; he eventually melts it down and throws it out of the atmosphere, albeit justifying it to himself as getting rid of the only thing on Earth that can hurt him.
  • Cult: Various cults have sprung up that worship Brandon/Brightburn, but Brandon considers them just as worthless as the rest of humanity, although Caitlyn does suggest that they could be a useful place of safety after their narrow escape from the government.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: In Chapter 22, Brandon and Caitlyn engage in a brief session of this after escaping a crashing plane, each pleasuring the other while sitting against each other in a forest.
  • Despair Event Horizon: The discovery that his parents tried to get Caitlyn to kill him drives Brandon to kill the Breyers, throw his ship into space, and abandon Caitlyn.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Brandon kills a boy Caitlyn had only gone out with a few times when she had every reason to believe that Brandon had abandoned her; however, on a wider scale his responses are comparatively more ‘mellow’ than they were in canon, as whenever he is attacked he only kills enough people to make the rest of the opposing force stop, and his destructive assaults are limited to empty buildings or religious structures rather than explicitly trying to kill large numbers of people.
  • Drama-Preserving Handicap: In chapter 26, Brandon essentially identifies Caitlyn as one, claiming that the only reason he didn't destroy AN-3 in their fight was because he didn't want to risk Caitlyn being injured in its destruction.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: Not explicitly stated, but considering Brandon's low opinion of any human that isn't Caitlyn, this arguably applies to him letting Michelle ask his cultists questions as she makes valid points.
  • Entitled to Have You: Essentially sums up Brandon’s attitude towards Caitlyn, as he acts as though she should just wait for him even after he flew away following the deaths of his parents while giving her no clear sign that he would come back.
  • Even Evil Can Be Loved: While the Breyers still tried to kill Brandon as in canon, even after witnessing some of his later attacks Caitlyn still feels a strange affection for him.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Even after killing his parents when they tried to kill him, Brandon retains his feelings for Caitlyn, to the point that he later appears to accept her request not to kill anyone when she’s with him, and later notes that he considers her his family rather than his aunt and uncle.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Depends a bit on whether Brandon should be defined as ‘evil’ or just warped, but in either case, while he resents Caitlyn rejecting his attempts to make their relationship sexual Brandon has never actually forced her despite how easy it would be for him to do so.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Granted, when Doctor Bishop’s primary goal was to stop Brandon’s attacks, he’s not exactly ‘evil’ in the traditional sense, but despite appearing kind to Caitlyn during initial interrogations he swiftly drops that approach when Caitlyn calls the research team horrible, calling Caitlyn ‘a dumb girl feeling sorry for a monster’.
  • Foil: It has been affirmed that part of Caitlyn's role was to serve as this to Brandon's ship, encouraging Brandon's humanity where the ship amplified his alien nature, to the extent that Brandon and Caitlyn's relationship became 'official' after Brandon 'introduced' her to the ship and both relationships were essentially 'ended' at the same time when Brandon destroyed the ship and abandoned Caitlyn after killing the Breyers, although Brandon does go back to Caitlyn later.
  • For Want of a Nail: Things start to change when Caitlyn shows a slightly more ‘positive’ response to Brandon’s attempt to apologise for breaking her wrist.
  • God Guise: Partly applies to the cults that have sprung up to worship Brandon, as while he isn't particularly bothered about the cults themselves he considers the possibilities of using their faith in him to give him and Caitlyn a place to hide.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Chapter 33 sees Brandon finally find 'the Witch' that he has been searching for, only for the woman to prove to be more than a match for him in a physical confrontation.
  • Homicide Machines: Caitlyn references reports of a machine killing people in South Africa, which the author confirms is intended to be an Expy of Cyborg from the DC Universe; chapter 26 introduces this character directly, which identifies itself as AN-3, originally known as Symon Veers.
  • I Can Rule Alone: Even after learning about other superhumans, Brandon still feels that he can rule alone rather than even briefly contemplating the idea of working with the others.
  • Ignorant of Their Own Ignorance: Until chapter 24, Brandon was unaware of the other 'superhumans' active on Earth as he was focusing on looking up reports about himself.
  • In Spite of a Nail: Regardless of Caitlyn’s influence, Brandon still kills the Breyers and Erika dies later, albeit not by Brandon’s hand.
  • Ineffectual Death Threat: Basically applies to anyone who suggests that they threaten to kill Caitlyn to try and get Brandon under control, as Caitlyn bluntly points out that if they kill her they would remove the only reason Brandon hasn’t destroyed the world already.
  • Innocently Insensitive: For a given value of 'innocent'; Brandon walls Caitlyn up in a stone structure for several hours to guarantee her safety while he burns his sigil over Brightburn just to make a point.
  • It's All About Me: Basically the reason Brandon doesn't learn about other superhumans until Chapter 24, as he was only looking for news articles about himself rather than looking at anything else.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: While Caitlyn will still argue with Brandon about whether or not he ‘has’ to kill anyone, she has to concede that he makes a valid point when he observes that she’s too tough to give up by killing herself and she doesn’t have any serious objection to the idea of living with him beyond the fact that he just made the decision for her, or when he refuses to wait outside when she's looking for one of her old friends.
  • Kryptonite Factor: After Brandon destroys his ship while killing the Breyers, the only remaining trace of it is the shard the Breyers gave to Caitlyn to kill him with, and she initially loses track of it after that night and subsequently plans to dispose of it once they reunite.
  • Lack of Empathy: As in the film, Brandon can't really emotionally connect to other people; even when he admits to Caitlyn that he can't take the thought of losing her, he just pays lip service to feeling sorry for her after the death of her mother (Caitlyn privately speculates that he still resented Erika's attempts to keep them apart), although he does show genuine concern for Caitlyn herself more than once.
  • Love Confession: Brandon explicitly states that he loves Caitlyn in Chapter 24, and Caitlyn reciprocates.
  • Monster Fangirl: Caitlyn is accused of this when she is captured by the government, but she is clearly defined as being aware of Brandon's nature and wishing that he wouldn't kill even as she finds that she can't reject her feelings.
  • Monster Sob Story: Played with for Brandon; he might be willing to kill on relatively limited excuses, but it’s hard not to feel somewhat sorry for him after his own parents tried to kill him, particularly when he shows actual regret for it afterwards.
  • Morality Pet: Caitlyn is basically this for Brandon; while she can’t actually make him stop killing at all, she does manage to ‘talk him down’ to a point where he only kills people who are actively trying to threaten him or her, rather than destroying buildings or crashing jets just because he feels like it.
  • Murder by Cremation: Brandon’s traditional method of killing others, using his heat vision to incinerate the immediate ‘threat’.
  • Never My Fault: To a degree; Brandon makes it clear as the story unfolds that he considers it humanity's fault if he has to resort to mass murder to make his points, rather than just destroying major attractions to show his power.
  • No Kill Like Overkill: At one point, Brandon informs AN-3 that he will kill everyone on the planet if AN-3 kills Caitlyn, 'justifying' that act as the only way he can make sure that he kills whoever sent AN-3.
  • Not So Stoic:
    • For all of Brandon's usual emotional detachment, he appears genuinely scared at the thought of losing Caitlyn and looks at her with something that could be considered love, to the point of having a panic attack when he thinks he's left her in a coma while escaping a plane crash.
    • Brandon even has a mini-breakdown when he admits during his reunion with Caitlyn that he actually does mourn the deaths of his parents, shakily affirming that he misses them even after they tried to kill him.
  • Place of Power: In chapter 34, Caitlyn is taken to a clearing by the Witch that is apparently sacred to the Witch's gods, which apparently weakens Caitlyn and Brandon when they are in the clearing to the extent that the witch becomes the first person to defeat Brandon in a fight.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Regardless of how powerful Brandon is, he is still a teenage boy who makes teenage errors, such as having difficulty coming up with a plan that would warn others not to hurt Caitlyn that wouldn't basically give away that there’s someone ‘Brightburn’ cares about, and his 'plan' to take over the world so far just consists of him attacking religious institutions or other prominent structures and defeating any armies sent against him until he comes up with an actual plan.
    • When Brandon is being held captive and subjected to constant gas exposure to keep him in a coma, although Project B2 couldn’t find anything capable of killing him, he did become emaciated as he obviously wasn’t getting any sustenance in that state, although it was noted that he was starving far slower than a human would have in his situation.
    • While nuclear bombs can’t kill Brandon, he still needed to take a detour to get the radiation ‘cleaned off’ so that he wouldn’t contaminate Caitlyn once he went to rescue her.
    • When preparing to fly back to America after being held captive, Brandon has to make 'arrangements' to have a private plane made available for him and Caitlyn as he can't fly across the ocean with her at a safe speed without risking her freezing or starving to death in the process.
    • By chapter 33, pamphlets are being issued warning against the dangers of Brandon and other superhumans, with the pamphlet on 'Brightburn' simply affirming that people should try to avoid him.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Aside from tearing the Breyer house apart after they tried to kill him, Brandon also destroys Area 51 and a few other government facilities once he recovers from being constantly gassed and kept unconscious for three weeks.
  • Sigil Spam: As well as Brandon marking his attacks with his symbol, his followers also start wearing it to symbolise their devotion to him. When Brandon decides to send a message that Caitlyn is off-limits, he burns the sigil on a massive scale over the town of Brightburn, justifying this action as a demonstration of what he could do to a more populated town if he's angered.
  • Shooting Superman: At one point Brandon let a missile hit him just to see what it would do to him, and even survives a nuclear explosion while just being thrown off-course for a minute or so.
  • Silence, You Fool!: Caitlyn suggests that Brandon can do this when she wants to talk to her old friends, in order to ensure their silence about Caitlyn's relationship with Brandon.
  • Single-Target Sexuality: This seems to basically apply to Brandon, as even after various cults emerge worshipping Brandon, he has shown no interest in pursuing any female other than Caitlyn, to the point that he lets her get away with defying him on various occasions where he would just kill anyone else who contradicted him.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Essentially the first moment when this story diverges from canon is when Caitlyn talks Brandon out of attacking her mother (although Erika dies later on anyway), and Brandon's aunt and uncle Merilee and Noah have outlived the Breyers.
  • Spotting the Thread: In chapter 26, both Caitlyn and Brandon independently realise that AN-3 is equipped with a force field.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Brandon still starts out as this, but Caitlyn's willingness to actually engage with him early on helps to discourage some of his more obviously creepy behaviour, even if he's still excessively focused on her as a partner beyond a traditional teenage 'romance'.
  • Stop Worshipping Me: Caitlyn doesn't say it out loud, but in chapter 29 she is privately uncomfortable when the Brightburn cultists call her 'ma'am' and refer to her as 'the lady' even if she also likes it.
  • Supporting Protagonist: Arguably applies to Caitlyn, considering that she's essentially the Lana/Lois to Brandon's Superman (making the necessary moral adjustments) and yet the story focuses on her perspective of events rather than Brandon's.
  • Sycophantic Servant: The Brightburn cultists come across as this when they're introduced, although this can be justified as they weren't expecting to actually meet their 'god' at that time and so weren't prepared to talk with him in any way.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: 'Kindness' may be an exaggeration, but at the very least Brandon accepts Caitlyn's request to show a degree of mercy when he's attacked, with the result that he stops killing the opposing forces when none of the soldiers left are actively trying to shoot him any more, and his attacks on civilians have been limited to empty religious buildings rather than any occupied residences or businesses.
  • Tracking Chip: In chapter 30 Caitlyn is disturbed to learn that she was implanted with one while she was captured by Project B2, hence why so many people have been able to find her and Brandon since their escape.
  • True Love Is Exceptional: Applies to both Caitlyn and Brandon, as Caitlyn can't ignore her feelings for Brandon even as she wishes he wouldn't kill people and Brandon makes it clear more than once (in his own unconventional way) that he genuinely loves Caitlyn despite his regularly-expressed belief in his own superiority over the rest of the human race.
  • The Unfettered: Basically Brandon's whole philosophy; nobody can actually stop him, so he doesn't particularly care how they feel about him (although he will make some tentative concessions where Caitlyn's concerned).
  • Unwanted False Faith: To a degree; when cults spring up worshipping Brandon, he doesn't actually care how they feel about him as he only sees humans as animals (with the exception of Caitlyn and possibly his parents, considering that he has genuinely mourned their deaths even if he doesn't want to miss them).
  • Unwanted Harem: Brandon at least has the potential for this, considering that he has actual cults worshipping him- at least one of whom has shown an eagerness to make physical contact with him- and yet he has explicitly stated that the only girl he's interested in is Caitlyn.
  • Villainous B So D: Brandon basically has one in chapter 35, albeit just based on him reeling from the fact that he lost a fight for the first time.
  • We Can Rule Together: Brandon essentially makes this offer to Caitlyn, albeit in a scenario where Caitlyn’s only power would be based on the fact that anyone who disobeyed her would make Brandon angry.
  • We Didn’t Mean to Kill Her: Basically the defence offered by the staff on Project B2 when their efforts to get Caitlyn to talk result in them killing Caitlyn’s mother as they try to ‘interrogate’ Caitlyn about Brandon by threatening her mother in an electric chair.
  • What Measure Is a Human?: Brandon explicitly states that he considers humans to just be wild animals compared to him, with Caitlyn being the only exception.
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