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17 April 2008 @ 11:13 am
[fic repost] A Simple Twist of Fate, Chapter 4  
Title: A Simple Twist of Fate
Chapter: 4 of 7
Author: tiptoe39
Rating: NC-17 as a whole; this chapter is R for brief sexual content.
Summary: What if Matt, not Janice, had picked up the phone when Mohinder called in Season 1?



I awaken with heat and sunlight and an unfamiliar sensation of heaviness. I'm all tangled up and can't move. Matt. That's right. He's here. He's so close to me. We...

My breath catches. Fear floods me. This wasn't why I came out there. I have an important reason for this trip. One that could save lives. This is not a romantic sojourn or a descent into debauchery. I need to find these people. Warn them. Answer their questions, if I can. I didn't fly across the country to have a torrid affair with a man I just met, who is, among other things, married.

Then his eyes open and he smiles at the sight of me, and all my good intentions go flying madly out the proverbial window.

"Hi," he says, the sound tripping over a croak in his throat.

"Good morning," I answer.

It's perfectly natural that we kiss. There isn't even another option.

His hands run down the length of my arms and it's like being touched by sunshine. I lose my ability to think altogether.

He makes slow, gentle love to me in that motel room bed. I'm warm and covered with him. His hand wrapped around me is like liquid. The way he moves is like music. What we do is all about flowing and sharing, about beauty and blossoming. There's no tension, no gravity. Nothing but the two of us. He slides over me and I slide in the sheets. Everything moves. We proceed from warmth to fullness, open up, shudder with release, and sink back into idyll.

I want so badly to just stay in these arms forever. Never mind the rest of the world. Never mind save-the-cheerleader or are-you-on-the-list or this-is-destiny or any of the other phrases I've heard echoing in my dreams. Leave them all behind. Just run away to a new, secret place and live in bliss.

But that isn't fair. I am a man of science, and in science one must face unpleasant truths. One of which being that we still have four hours to drive before Montana. So off we go.

It's far colder today, and as we drive up past the state line, we start to see frost patches on the grass. We stop for coffee and I get a jacket from my suitcase. Matt has to buy one; he didn't exactly pack for this weather. He grumbles a little bit, saying he's worried about his finances and about a friend who called him in the middle of the night. I must have slept through it. Well, I was pretty much exhausted.

Eventually the saintly device known as GPS takes us up a hill to a rugged-looking, secluded garage. A few broken-down cars, coated with frost and rust, squat outside like aged guard dogs. We get out, marvel a little that there's actually snow on the ground, and enter, shouting our greetings.

There is a figure underneath a car that's jacked up in the middle of the room. I assume it's Dale. She seems to be engrossed in wrenching or twisting or doing something of some sort. "Dale Smither? Pardon me. Ms. Smither?" I shout, peering underneath to catch a glimpse as Matt looks around. She's wearing a welder's mask. It's impossible to tell anything about her from this angle.

Finally the figure pauses, sets the wrench down, and comes sliding out from beneath the vehicle. The figure straightens up and raises the mask.

Dale Smither is a man.




Well. This is a surprise.

"I'm sorry," says Mohinder, "I don't mean to interrupt. I was looking for Dale--"

"You found him," says the man, who is light and lean, with heavy eyebrows and doe eyes. "You're Dr. Suresh, right? I got your message. So sorry I didn't have a chance to call back, but I've been looking forward to meeting you." He removes an oil-stained glove and shakes Mohinder's hand with a winning smile that makes me bristle. Something's not quite right

Chandra's son, no mistake, I hear him think. I frown, and he seems to catch my hostility and process it. "I'm sorry, who's your friend?" he asks Mohinder, eying me cautiously.

"Matt Parkman," I say, thrusting my hand forward. He looks at it, then grudgingly shakes. I immediately want a shower. His hands are too delicate, too finely groomed for a man who's spent his life working on cars. Not a cuticle out of place. They're so clean that I feel dirty.

"A pleasure," he says through barely moving lips. "So, Doctor," he goes on, turning to Mohinder so decisively that I feel immediately cut out of the loop, "what can I do for you?"

Mohinder stammers. "I-- it's actually more of what I can do for you," he says.

"Who was the woman on your answering machine?" I ask, more to remind him I'm still here than anything.

"My former receptionist," he says blandly.

"Receptionist?" I look around. It hardly seems like the kind of place that requires an office pool.

"Things get busy in the summer, with everyone getting their inspections renewed," he shrugs. "Unfortunately, I found her rifling through my things and had to let her go. I just haven't gotten around to changing the outgoing message yet. So what brings you up here, Mr. Parkman?" He smiles, and I have a sudden image of a spider unfolding its web.

"Matt is like you," Mohinder jumps in. "You both have a certain genetic marker that causes you to have particular abilities not shared by most of your fellow human beings."

Dale leans toward me, suddenly very interested. "You don't say," he breathes. "So... what is your ability, Matt?" The familiarity makes me shudder.

By way of answer, I turn to Mohinder. "He knew your father," I say.

Dale's eyes widen briefly. Mohinder says, "Really?"

"I read his book," shrugs Dale. "It was very influential to me. In a way, I consider Chandra Suresh to be the man who changed my life."

The way he talks is almost like a chant, slightly hypnotizing. It brings to mind shadows and sharp angles and smooth lines. "Before I read Chandra Suresh's theories," he narrates, "I didn't really understand what was happening to me. I felt so alone, like I was strange or defective somehow. But now I understand." His smile grows broad. "It's evolution. It's the destiny of mankind to evolve, to become superior to its previous self. I have learned to embrace that destiny."

Mohinder is enthralled by this narration. I feel a little ill, personally. "What I can do must surely be just the tip of the iceberg," Dale continues excitedly. "After all, I'm just able to hear sounds that are very far away. I can't imagine what it's like to be like your friend here and hear thoughts. Although I'd love to know." He smiles at me, his eyes angling up from beneath the thick, knitted eyebrows, and I feel a little like a pig being sized up for its suitability to become a Christmas ham. Or something like that.

"Would you mind if I asked you for a DNA sample?" Mohinder says, drawing the small disposable kit from his bag. Dale takes it, but then the phone in his front office rings, and he hurries off to grab it. I can barely wait for him to disappear.

"I don't like him," I say, hurrying to Mohinder's side.

He looks at me, wide-eyed. "Why on earth not?"

"He's creepy. I don't like the way he's looking at you. He knows too much about you. You shouldn't trust him so easily."

"I don't really want to hear about trusting too easily from the married man who slept with me after knowing me less than a week," Mohinder snaps. I cringe visibly, and he relents. "I'm sorry. But he seems like a decent man, and I can't help thinking that you're jealous."

"It's not that! It's just..." I sigh. "Something about him rubs me the wrong way."

"You're thinking too hard," he chides, and his hand takes mine briefly. The contact is still so new and overwhelming, and I flush. His fingers slide through mine and drop away. "It's flattering, but... don't borrow trouble. Please."

When Dale returns to give Mohinder his DNA sample, I look at the two of them earnestly discussing some theory or other and wonder. Perhaps I am just jealous. But this man's eyes are so plain and innocent one minute, then so fierce and penetrating the next. Like he can turn on and off at will. All I can think about is the story of the wolf in sheep's clothing.

So when he looks at me and thinks very deliberately, If you can read thoughts, that means I can talk to you without your doctor friend knowing. Am I right?

Discomfort bubbles in my gut, but I nod. He smiles like a child with a new toy. I'll remember that.




Dale offers to tune up our car before we leave. Matt sits inside-- weak to the cold-- and looks out a frosted window at us as we converse. Dale is a bright and inquisitive sort. He says he started fixing cars when he was just a boy. "I've always loved to see how things work," he explains. "Speaking of which--" He straightens up and peers over the hood. "How did you find me, anyway? I mean, I understand the basics, but... is there some way you can actually figure out where to find people with special abilities?"

"I don't completely understand the algorithm," I respond, "but my father, before his death, was able to locate about fifty individuals world wide. You were on that list, as was Matt."

"A list." His eyes glow with possibilities. "How I'd love to see it. Not that the names would mean anything to me, of course, but still."

"My father died trying to protect the people on that list," I say bitterly. "I'm merely trying to finish what he started."

"By warning us about this man named Sylar?"

"Yes." I nod resolutely.

"But you don't know who he is, do you? Or what he looks like. He could be anyone. He could even be your friend in there." He shrugs a shoulder toward Matt's face behind the glass. "Just waiting for the opportunity to kill you like he killed your father." His eyes flash dark for a second, and for a moment I worry that Matt may be right about him.

But the moment passes. "That's impossible," I say, shaking my head and smiling. "Matt is a police officer. He's been trying to find Sylar as well."

"Or so he tells you," Dale says. "How do you know for sure? What else has he told you that you've chosen to just take his word for?"

The baby isn't mine.

The thought is in my head before I know it. I curse myself for even daring to think it.

"Look, I don't mean to pick on your friend," Dale says, slamming down the hood and shrugging apologetically. "But you really should be careful, Mohinder. This killer could be anywhere. He could even be me."

I smile. "That, I highly doubt." I clap him on the shoulder. "But thank you for the warning."

"You should have someone looking out for you," he insists. "You shouldn't put all your trust in one person. It's not safe."

I walk toward the doorway to the small garage, intent on telling Matt that we are ready to go, but Dale follows, Quick as a rabbit, he's jumped in front of me. "I've always wanted to see New York," he says. "And I could help. With the driving. And if the car breaks down." There's real excitement in his shining eyes. "To think that all this time I've been dreaming of what it would be like to meet Chandra Suresh and find out just what I really am, and then you find me. It's got to be destiny." He seizes both of my hands. "You can't come all this way and just leave again. Let me come with you."

"I don't think that's a very good idea," I warn, glancing through the window at Matt. He's frowning. "It's nothing personal, Dale. But I don't think Matt would be very kind to you."

His voice gets very low. "I can handle him." Again, that flash, but then it's gone, and I worry that Matt's paranoia is affecting me, because Dale's all excited schoolboy again. "Don't you see? It's a perfect arrangement. Suppose I'm really a bad guy. Your friend is there, so I can't do you any harm. Right? Now suppose-- just suppose- he's the bad guy in disguise. That means I'm here to protect you. Either way, you'll be safe."

I look at him. I don't know why he's so sure that I am in mortal danger, but he's right about one thing: I will be safer if it's not just the two of us on this trip. Matt is proving to be a very significant distraction. I need to be reminded why I'm doing this. I need to get back to New York, get the DNA samples processed, and figure out the key to my father's research so I can warn these people that a killer may be after them. Perhaps Dale's presence will keep me focused.

"Let me talk to him," I say.




"He wants to what!?" The words are out of my mouth before Mohinder can even start talking. I heard him thinking it as he came in. It had to whirl in my mind another moment before I could even process it. And I still cut him off before a single word. "No way. No fucking way."

"I knew you'd say that," he says, his eyes burning. So I'm predictable. So what? That's a good thing. It's unpredictable assholes like this guy that are the problem.

"So why would you think for a second I'd be OK with it?" The truth is, I'm not all that concerned about me and the guy not getting along. It's Mohinder I'm worried about.

Ted called last night. He said he'd met someone who had information on Bennet's operation. Wanted me to meet him in Texas to see if we couldn't corner the bastard. I want to know what he found out, and I'm afraid for whoever this new person is who's in the mix. Being around Ted is like being on a bridge with a suicidal guy who can never get down from the railing. It's stay up there or jump, and my job around him is to keep delaying and delaying his inevitable... meltdown, for lack of a better word. I can handle him, and luckily enough he hasn't had too much other human contact since his wife died. But the wrong person comes into his life, and, well, boom.

So what happens if I have to leave to take care of Ted because he's threatening to go nuclear in Texas? And Dale and Mohinder end up trekking cross-country alone? Mohinder could end up in big trouble. And there's something about this whole setup that strikes me as very, very wrong. I can't quite name it yet, but...

Oh, hello. Mohinder has his arms around my waist. There's a gorgeous brown face in mine. "What do I need to do for you to trust me?" he's asking. The plaintive note in his voice is making me want to cry.

I touch his face. So smooth. "It's not you I don't trust," I say.

"Then prove it," he responds. "Have faith in me. I need you to."

"Why?" My voice sounds hollow. "Why do you want so badly to have this guy along?"

"Because I don't trust myself," he admits. His eyelashes are long, and he gazes at me through their curtain. I want to kiss him into submission when he looks at me like that. "I--" His voice falters. "I never expected this. To meet you. To feel... To like you as much as I do. It makes no sense." I'm scared, he thinks.

This I understand. I understand it so much it hurts. I don't trust myself, either. This trip has turned into something so totally different from what I thought it would be. All because of him. What he does to me. How utterly defenseless I am around him, and how connected we seem to be. And now, to hear he's freaking out in the exact same way? How can we be this in sync, that our fears about each other are the same? It makes it all even more frightening.

"But I'm not here for you, Matt," he says slowly. "I keep forgetting that. I wish I was, but I'm not. I'm here because there are people out there who need answers and there's a killer out there who needs to be stopped. I can't afford to forget that."

I nod. "I know. I know you can't." A sigh escapes me. "Just... just tell me this isn't it for us. I don't..." I can't bring myself to tell him that I don't think I can live without touching him, that the moment we kissed I was addicted and can't remember what life was like before him, that I'm scared to death he'll ask for three rooms in the next motel and I'll be sleeping alone, dreaming of arms that are too far away. That isn't stuff a guy like me can say.

"It isn't," he says. "And I don't, either."

That ends up being the only comfort I can take. What else can I do? Stamp my foot like a child? No. Better not to worry him unless I can really put my finger on what's bothering me.

It's just an hour into the ride that I think I've nailed it. "Hey, Dale," I ask, "when did you say you fired that receptionist of yours?"

He shrugs. "I don't know, a few weeks back. Why?"

I feel cold hands pulling at the pit of my stomach. "No reason," I say, trying to sounds as light as I can. But I shut my eyes and picture the workbench at the corner of the garage. There was a purse beneath it, hung carefully on a peg near the wall. Like it belonged there.




It will be three more days of driving before we reach New York. We can make it as far as the North Dakota border tonight, but then we'll have a long day of driving ahead only to get as far as Minneapolis. And it will still be a full day and a half before we reach home. I'd wanted to stop for one more name in Minnesota, but I'm afraid these two might kill each other. I'm wondering if it might be better to bring Dale directly to the apartment, satisfy his curiosity, perform the tests, and then set him loose. Then Matt can...

Well. Matt can do whatever he pleases, I suppose.

Dale is a bit of a back-seat driver. He's constantly asking what the plan is, how far we're going tonight, wouldn't the back roads be faster. But he's also asking me about my father, about genetics, about evolution, and in general keeping me awake for the last leg of the drive. In contrast, Matt is silent, staring out the window and only asking an occasional perfunctory question. I know this is hard for him. I will just have to endure his sulking, I suppose.

When we finally pull off the road for the night, Dale asks if he can pay for the motel. He's so grateful, I end up letting him. He smiles broadly and marches up to the reception desk. "Three rooms, please."

"Two," I correct. "Two rooms."

Dale turns, surprised. "Are you sure?" I nod. I suppose I should have told him, but he is a smart man. He'll figure it out.

When we're safely inside the room, Matt sighs heavily as he sits on the bed. I climb up behind him, loop my arms around his shoulders. "Thank you," I say. "You were very admirable."

"He was talking into my head the whole time," he grumbles. "Asking me all kinds of questions that I couldn't answer. 'If you're a policeman, why are you all the way out here?' 'Do you really believe all the things Doctor Suresh is telling you?' 'You have a ring tan on your left hand. Are you leaving someone behind?' 'How come you couldn't read that street sign correctly?' It was awful."

"Well, it's over for tonight, so just get to sleep." I breathe. His proximity is exciting me. We've been at arms' length all day and all I want is for the tension in those big muscles of his to go to better use. This man could potentially turn me into a sex-crazed maniac.

I kiss the back of his neck, his ear. "Unless, of course, you don't feel like sleeping quite yet."

He doesn't respond other than heaving a long sigh.

"Matt. Look at me," I plead. I hate seeing him like this. Is this what happened when he and his wife lost their magic? Did he shut down this fully the moment he became suspicious? "Please."

He turns to face me. I lose my breath again at how beautiful he is, how every line of his face is so sincere and strong. He's what the gods intended when they created the man. A provider, a shelter, a friend and a protector.

"Why won't you let me protect you, then?" he asks. I've got to get used to that. I can't be constantly thinking the alphabet, after all.

Then something occurs to me that makes me laugh out loud."I have a theory," I say. "Would you like to hear it?"

He sits back and frowns, disconcerted by my sudden smile. "All right," he says doubtfully.

I let it rip. "My theory is that I'm attracted to men for the same reason I'm a scientist."

He screws up his face into the funniest expression of confusion I think I've ever seen. "Huh?"

I laugh. "A scientist is never satisfied," I lecture. "My job, my passion, is to continually probe the meanings of things. Once I know how something works, I need to know why it works, why it didn't happen the millions of other ways it could have happened. Why the way it works works. Why do we stay on the ground instead of floating into space? That question makes one a student of physics. And the answer is gravity. But why gravity? Why do objects attract each other? Asking that question makes one a scientist."

He's silent, but his mouth is starting to twitch. It's the closest to a smile I've seen this evening. Encouraged, I continue. "I want to keep asking questions. Keep challenging and being challenged. There's an inherent jigsaw to life. A man as protector, a woman as nurturer. It's stereotypical, and these days it's not a constant, but it's undeniably an archetype of society. I'm not satisfied with it. I don't want to be a protector and have a woman depend on me. I prefer the tension of challenges to the comfort of easy answers. I want a lover who is a rival, who I can admire and seek to overcome and clash with and meld with. So by all means, go on protecting me. Just don't expect me to fit into the role of the protected. I've got higher ambitions than that."

It's like glass shattering and sprinkling sunshine over the room. The Matt I knew is back. He's grinning and laughing. I'm suddenly trapped in a bear hug. I struggle and fight against it, anxious to see his face again. He doesn't let me. "You're in for a hell of a time, then," he says against my ear. "I don't give up easily."

"Glad to hear it," I whisper, all the tension draining from my shoulders. My hands touch his back and it's like connecting with a network of warmth that's been denied me too long. The need I feel in the pit of my stomach is frightening and overwhelming. I embrace it, too.

We go to bed happy, but I awaken in the middle of the night to feel him rolling into me. His hands go around my waist and his breath is on my shoulder. "Stop it," I hear him whisper into the air. Is he dreaming? He's squeezing me tightly, and I have the distinct feeling he's afraid.

I'm afraid, too. Because if I follow my theory to its conclusion, there's a sad moral to be found. We've come together too simply, too easily. Does that mean it will be nothing more than another simple twist of fate that breaks us apart?

Next: Discord

Previous comments:

kleenexcow
(217.42.76.122)

Sylar nooooooooooo! His manipulations are so subtle and well characterized.

And in general...this series is great! I mean, I know you know I think that already, but I still like telling it to you. I'm just so impressed with the plot that you're drawing out and the alternate universe you've created.

Mohinder's little speech at the end is totally awesome. I love this take on relationships.

(The question I'm most curious about now--besides, of course, how they're going to shake off Sylar--is if you're going to connect them with Molly. Because, I mean, she's totally their fate-daughter)


6th-Mar-2008 06:12 pm (local)
crystal_mk
(71.60.48.141)

Oh noesss!!!!! When will Mohinder learn to listen to Matt!

This is great. I love your plot and how it's all playing out and Sylar just showing up. Now I'm left to wonder how Sylar plans on convincing Mohinder that he is Dale when the DNA turns up as female?
Just ignore my ramblings; I'm loving this and can't wait for more!

6th-Mar-2008 07:09 pm (local)
boymommytotwo
(66.41.180.97)

I lose my ability to think altogether. ******* this is why i love mo - he falls sooooooo in luv!!!

They're so clean that I feel dirty. ******** matt is SO hot when he's perceptive...

The way he talks is almost like a chant, slightly hypnotizing. ********* ugh, sylar is sooooo creepy.

love the twist of sylar already finding dale (OH NO!) and his dynamic with matt. matt is incredibly sexy in this installment and i love mohinder's desire to be with matt... he's convincing matt and himself, as well as showing his desire... mmm... yummy...

6th-Mar-2008 07:32 pm (local) hanuueshe (68.195.92.216)

Okay, so

1)Oh noes, Sylar! Creepy, creepy, creepy...

2)You write the boys so perfectly. The way they interact, their entire relationship, it's just all so perfect.

3) Until Sylar messes it up by trying to seduce Mohinder and annoy the beeejezus out of Matt. Grr...

4) I agree with klenexcow. They still have to get to Molly eventually...

5) Yep. Your writing is still awesome.

6th-Mar-2008 08:26 pm (local) teecub (156.34.35.104)

Ohohoh! That last bit Mohinder said to Matt about challenging, Matt's bearhug response - wow! Also, to have Sylar coming along with the two - EEEEEK! I am DYING of excitement!!! <3

6th-Mar-2008 10:58 pm (local) boudecia7 (72.208.141.72)

OH, this has gotten SO good!! I love how you've introduced Sylar into the story!--It was great when Matt realized the inconsistency in his story about the "receptionist," too; seeing his detective skills in action is so hot.

And now Sylar messing with his head...I'm seriously anxious for the next part, and more yummy protective!Matt, please...

6th-Mar-2008 11:25 pm (local) rosiecotton95 (24.78.224.137)

"Does that mean it will be nothing more than another simple twist of fate that breaks us apart?"

:( I hope not!

But wow this story is getting exciting. I like the way Dale/Sylar is annoying Matt, it seems like something he'd do.

Keep it coming!

7th-Mar-2008 01:25 am (local) arabella_w (200.57.22.253)

Oh my shoe!! Sylar!! (insert here psycosis tune) I'm so worry for the guys now... and that's so cool because this is getting so exiting.

this is excellent!

10th-Mar-2008 06:26 am (local) matty_parkman (83.42.109.127)

CAZZO.

Ehm,sorry for that.

But...OH MY GOD!

I'm scared, now. For real.

10th-Mar-2008 06:38 am (local) tiptoe39 (72.192.252.174)

Is that an italian swear word? :D

:goes to rewatch 1x21-22 to prepare to write the last 3 parts of this sucker:

10th-Mar-2008 06:39 am (local) matty_parkman (83.42.109.127)

it is.

it means...uhm...dick. it's the most popular swearing espression. together with VAFFANCULO,that literally means 'go fuck someone's ass'...stupid Italian slang.

21st-Mar-2008 05:00 pm (local) saavikam77 (71.114.87.215)

Gaaahh!! Freakin' Sylar! O_O *whimper*

This is so brilliant, I just don't have the words... My stomach's all knotted up and I think I might be holding my breath. O_O

 
 
 
Shoneéscarletfbl on July 20th, 2008 11:43 am (UTC)
*Waves rolled-up newspaper* Bad Sylar!