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18 April 2008 @ 09:03 am
[fic repost] A Simple Twist of Fate, Chapter 5  
Title: A Simple Twist of Fate
Chapter: 5 of 7
Author: tiptoe39
Rating: The fic as a whole is NC-17; this chapter is PG-13 for language and mentions of violence.
Summary: What if Matt, not Janice, had picked up the phone when Mohinder called in Season 1?



When I wake up, he's gone.

Not a great way to start the morning. He's left a message on his notepad, which is sitting on the pillow. I squint at it. I think it says "Downstairs at breakfast." That makes sense. I wish the "b" would stop pretending it's a "d." Or a "q," for that matter.

Shower. Wipe sleep from eyes. I had a nightmare that Mohinder had Ted's power and was dropping nuclear bombs on New York, trying to kill Sylar, but in the meantime he was killing lots of other people. I'm no good at interpreting dreams, so I'm screwed for knowing what the hell that means.

Downstairs at breakfast it said, and downstairs at breakfast they are. Of course, this is a motel, so breakfast consists of sitting on the couch in the front office eating cereal in prepackaged disposable bowls. Dale is getting crumbs all over the couch. They're talking animatedly.

Dale sees me coming first and waves a halfhearted hand. His mouth is full of cereal, but that doesn't stop him from greeting me in his singular way. So you're not just with Mohinder, you're with him. Interesting. Is that why you left your wife? He seems pleased to see me scowl and turns his attention fully to the topic of conversation, which has something to do with mitochondria and is entirely over my head.

Mohinder, on the other hand, lights up when he sees me, and I feel a bit of relief. "Good morning," he calls out. "We've been waiting for you to join us."

"Why didn't you wake me up?" I say, sitting with them after grabbing one of the cereal bowls. Oh, great. Raisin Bran's all they have left. Oh well, could be worse. Could be Special K.

"Mohinder figured you'd want to sleep in," Dale chimes in. As though he had any part in that decision as all. Not that I'm jealous. I can't be jealous of anyone with eyebrows that fugly.

"Well. That was nice of you," I mutter, chomping on disgusting dry cereal. "What's the plan today?"

"There's a name on my list in Albert Lea, Minnesota," Mohinder says. "I thought we could go as far as Minneapolis today and visit tomorrow morning on our way to Chicago."

"Anything in Chicago?" Dale asks with a full mouth. I'm no fainting fop, but it's disgusting even for me. Like he doesn't even care.

"Not that I know of," Mohinder says. "It's just on the way. If we drive about twelve hours tomorrow after the visit, we can make it to New York by midnight."

"I see. So there's nobody on the List in that town?"

What's he so curious about? "You sound disappointed," I interject.

He frowns a moment, then turns those big brown eyes upward at me like he's a little boy who's been caught in the cookie jar. "Well, I'd love to meet others like me. You know."

"I've met some others," I say. "Nobody you'd really be interested in."

But interested he sure is. "Really? Who!?"

I'm on the verge of telling him about Ted, in effect warning him I've got friends with powerful weapons, when some instinct freezes me in the act. That would be wrong somehow. "Nobody," I mutter. "Just a guy from New York. Can do the same thing as me." That's disappointing, he thinks. "And I got close to Sylar once."

For one instant, panic flickers across his eyes. Has Mohinder been telling him horror stories? Serves him right. "How close?"

"Not close enough," I growl, remembering what the bastard did to Audrey and how close he came to that little girl. "He got away."

"What do you suppose he wants, anyway?" Dale wonders idly. "Why would he want to kill so many people?"

"I'm unsure," Mohinder says, getting up. "He seems to want something they have. I'm operating under the assumption he wants to eliminate others like him, but what does that earn him? I'm really at a loss."

"Doesn't matter. We find him and lock him up." I say it out loud, but I'm really just trying to convince myself. Mohinder can have the scientific curiosity. I'm a law-and-order kind of guy. I don't need the reasons behind everything. And I don't need to go down to Texas and find out what Ted knows. What Bennet knows. I should be here. Damn it. This shouldn't be bothering me so much.

"Except, isn't he a telekinetic?" Dale is saying while I'm agonizing. "Wouldn't he be able to, I don't know, bend steel bars with his mind?" How could someone like you stop him? His thought cuts into my introspection, and it stings thirty ways.

I rise to my feet, startling Mohinder. "I'd do whatever it takes. I'm a cop. It's not a superpower, but it's what I am. And it means I have an obligation to enforce the law. And that's just what I'll do if Sylar-- or anyone-- threatens someone I care about."




He looks at me as he says that. I think I'm supposed to be flattered. He's being possessive. Trying to tell me I'm what he cares about. Well. The sentiment is appreciated. But I told him once before, I'm not likely to fall into the role of the protected.

I think I might be a little bit wicked, but I'm enjoying this. The instant antagonism between these two is entertaining. It really strikes me as a fascinating clash of incompatible personalities. Matt is grounded, earthy, and so very real, whereas Dale is practically transcendent, he's so anxious to find something greater and better than what he's been given. Perhaps I am playing a little too much the armchair psychologist, but the scientist in me wants to stand back and observe. After all, as exciting as these interactions are on a cellular level, they're even more intriguing on this scale. I shouldn't be so interested. These are people's lives, not some experiment in a petri dish. Still, I want to see how they work, what sort of instinct drives them to butt heads like this.

Well, I think I know part of it. Dale is obviously socially inept. The filter between his mind and his mouth is not terribly well calibrated. The causality between that and his isolated workplace is an interesting puzzle; I can picture scenarios going in both directions on that front. And for Matt, who can pick up on not only his ill-chosen words but his thoughts, he must be doubly insufferable.

Even so, I'm rather fond of Dale. Not as a friend, but as a sort of stunted pet. He worshipped my father. He thinks I've got all the answers. It's hard to say no to that kind of affection. And even if he hasn't got the purest soul, I have the feeling I can handle him.

Not so with Matt. The moment he grabs my hand and drags me into a corner to talk, I feel my pulse accelerating. All I can think about for a moment is where I want those big hands of his. How badly I want to just dive into that broad chest and spread my fingers across his back. Bring that weight crashing down on me. The image knocks the air out of me, and I'm dazed for several seconds. When I come to, I shake my head back and forth vigorously, and whisper, "H-- how are you doing?"

"What do you think you're doing alone with him?" Matt demands.

"Having breakfast, I suppose," I say slyly. I'm egging him on. I should stop. "Did you think otherwise?"

He blushes, mutters "Well, I wish you wouldn't," and looks down at his feet. He's on guard. Good. That means he has less of a chance of stealing my breath away.

"What is it about him that upsets you so much?" I ask, my curiosity getting the better of me. "I thought you could get along well with anyone you just met. Didn't you once tell me that? That you were always able to say the Right Thing, capital R capital T? What about him is so different?"

It gives him pause. "I don't know," he admits. "To tell you the truth, I don't think he is any different. I just think I'm... out of practice." His eyes are almost painful in their honesty, in the vulnerability they betray. "I haven't had to pretend anything in days. I've been so natural that I just forgot to try."

The admission touches me, but I smirk. "I'll take that as a compliment."

His eyes go dark,and he kisses me hard. For a moment, I'm a moaning idiot against his mouth. None of my muscles work. He does this to me. Every time. And it's a little frightening. Can I really be blamed for wanting to exercise some modicum of control?

He pulls away, smiles, and says, "You should."

When we leave the motel twenty minutes later, he's in the driver's seat, whistling and smiling. Master of his domain. Or so he believes. I'd like to think I'm still in control here.




"So Matt," Dale says suddenly from the back seat. He's been sitting there silently, playing idly with his wristwatch, for several minutes. "Mohinder was telling me that you two only met a few days ago," I glance at him in the rear view mirror, but he doesn't meet my eyes. "Talk about a whirlwind courtship. You sure turn around quick."

"Dale, that's--" Mohinder starts, but I can see how this is going to go.

"No, that's fair, he's got a point," I say, smiling. "If you think eleven years of marriage is quick. But I'd think you of all people, Dale, would appreciate the concept of destiny. If we were meant to be, why fight it?" And just to add insult to injury, I take Mohinder's hand.

Dale glowers. I feel like crowing. Mohinder just shakes his head sadly. "The two of you are going to give me gray hair," he says.

I shrug and smile at him. But the next minute, the stakes are higher. Dale is smiling pleasantly, but he's thinking into my head, I'm going to promise you one thing right now. When this car arrives in New York, there will be only two people in it.

And all of a sudden I've lost my sense of humor.

How we manage to survive the next four or five hours is anyone's guess. I think we just manage to avoid ticking each other off for a while. We just stew in our own juices until something comes along to take our thoughts in a different direction. In this case, it's on the second leg of the trip, when Mohinder's driving. And it's a phone call.




Matt picks up his cell phone and mumbles into it. "Y'ello?"

It's midafternoon. We're approaching the Minnesota border. North Dakota has been almost the opposite of the drive north through Utah and Idaho-- not red mountains but green fields lay all around us, terrain flat instead of ridged, uniform instead of wild. It matches the mood in the car. The craziness of Matt's music and the rambling nature of our conversation has been stifled so completely, it's like a funeral in the car. I'm somewhat disappointed. I'd hoped for more of a spark than this. I suppose it serves me right for wanting to perform this social experiment.

Matt sputters the name "Ted" into the phone, and his voice goes down to a mutter. "What do you know?"

I watch the small expressions of interest, fear, and furtive curiosity play across his face as he speaks to this Ted. I wish I knew what was going on with that. The conversation as I see it is tense, guarded. "How can I get in touch with you? You won't give me your cell," he says at one point, then his eyes go wide. What could he possibly be hearing?

At the end of the call, he says, "Minneapolis. Ted, wait a sec. Who's this friend?" But it's obvious his caller is gone. He puts his phone away. "Damn."

"You should go with your friend," Dale says suddenly.

"Go with whom?" I wonder. "Matt?"

Matt glares at him.

"I'm sorry!" Dale pleads, putting up his hands in a gesture of surrender. He points to one ear. "It's this. It's my hearing. I could hear both sides of the call. I didn't mean to betray your confidence, Matt."

I don't need Matt's ability to know what he's thinking: Yes, you did, you bastard. "No problem. It's no secret," he covers, turning to me to explain. "I have a friend who's in some trouble in Texas and he's hoping I can fly down to help him out."

I feel the bottom drop out of my world. For the first time I consider that Matt might actually leave. I don't know what's scarier: that idea, or that the idea scares me so. I'm suddenly reminded of how big my feelings for him are, how out-of-control he makes me feel. I keep forgetting how dangerous that is. Perhaps I should encourage him to go so I can get back to what I'm supposed to be doing. "Oh. Is it very serious?"

He shrugs. "Kind of. But so's this."

"Well, you know there's no reason you have to come to New York right now." I need to be matter-of-fact about this. "If you need to go, go. There will be an airport at Minneapolis. You can come back when you're done."

"I... I think he'll be OK. For now." But he leaves the option open. I feel a small ocean of dread open up in my stomach. I drive on in silence.




We pull into Minnneapolis late at night and find a 24-hour newsstand and cafe. Mohinder is still unsure whether he wants to visit this next person on the List or just continue on for two more days to New York. He's browsing the newspapers and I'm sipping a decaf that tastes like tooth decay when suddenly he gives a shout.

I jump up. Behind me, I hear Dale say in that oozy voice of his, "What is it? What's wrong?"

"That," he says, pointing. The paper is the Virginian-Pilot. There's only one left on the rack. The headline reads, "Local musician found slain."

Mohinder picks up the paper as I look over his shoulder, and he points to the name in the story's first paragraph: Zane Taylor. "He was on my father's list. It's Sylar. It has to be. Damn!" In a rare moment of violence, he kicks the side of the empty newspaper stand. It rattles, and a screw falls loose onto the floor. The cleck behind the counter looks up, disturbed, but decides not to say anything.

Dale bends down to replace the screw. "I thought you said he was last seen in Texas," he says. "How did he get as far as Virginia?"

"I don't know. Maybe he can fly," Mohinder snaps bitterly. "One more name to cross off, I suppose. God! If I had just gone there instead..."

"That's... awful," says Dale, concern lining his face as he stands again, moving backward to sit in a nearby chair. He rubs his temples as though he has a bad headache. "That poor guy. What on earth did he ever do to deserve that?"

"He was there," Mohinder says darkly. "Which is why I've got to get there first next time. This paper's a half-week old. Sylar could be anywhere by now. Damn it!"

"We should get back to your study. Check the List. Make as many phone calls as we can. Warn them about what happened to this Zane guy," Dale suggests. He looks slightly green.

Mohinder's nodding blankly. He looks dazed. All I want to do is wrap my arms around him and comfort him. How can he shoulder this much responsibility? How can he possibly think he's to blame for what happens to some musician half a country away?

For once in his life, Dale does the prudent thing. "I, uh, need some air," he says, rising again and backing toward the door. "I'll... just be out by the car."

The minute he's gone, I move to Mohinder, grab him by the shoulders and wrap my arms around him. He shakes, grabs my waist with weak hands. "I've been wasting time," he whispers. "I let him die. I... I can't afford this... Other people will die if I don't.."

"What? What are you talking about?" I can't believe he's saying this. He's frightened, more so than I've ever seen him. I feel like crying for him. It's just heartbreaking. "Hey. Mohinder. Hey. Hey. It's me." I touch his face, trying to bring him up for air. "Look at me. You haven't done anything wrong. You couldn't have done anything."

"I could have," he protests. "I should have gone there first. I shouldn't-- we shouldn't have happened, Matt. It was an unnecessary complication..."

I go to pieces. It's just ridiculous, what he's saying. "A complication? Are you insane?" I shake his shoulders. "I've been living nonstop complication! Finding out you can hear people's thoughts? Getting abducted? Losing your wife and getting her back to just to lose her again? Those are complications!" I'm roaring again. I've got to stop. I grab his face with both hands, smile despite the fact that I feel like crying. "You-- this, us-- this has been the easiest, simplest, most natural thing to happen to me in years! There's nothing complicated about--"

I bite my lip. I was about to say loving you.

His face has that flat, amused look on it that means anything but amusement. It means he's putting up walls. "You're right," he says, the scientific bite in his voice. "It's very simple: I want to be with you. So much I can taste it sometimes. So much I want to throw everything else away. All those other, unnecessary things. Like people's lives."

I knew it was coming, but it stings nonetheless. "Why?" I beg him. "Why does this have to be your cross to bear?"

"Don't play this game of am-I-my-brother's-keeper with me, Matt," he says, folding his arms. "You should be worried about the things that are your responsibility, too. Like your friend. Ted. He's in trouble. Go to him."

"What?" I gape at him. "Mohinder. I'm... I'm not leaving you. Especially not now."

"Please."

It's the one thing I don't expect, and it has me stumbling backward. "What?"

"Dale's right. You should go. You have to." I need you to, he thinks.

"Dale--" I fly apart. "That bastard. How long before you figure out that he's trying to drive us apart? Trying to make us not trust each other? He's jealous, Mohinder. He wants you. Can't you see that?"

"I can handle him," Mohinder says in a low, seething voice like the coil of a cobra. "This is for me. Matt, you're too much of a distraction. I'll never get done what I need to, because I'm too--" He clams up, looking down.

"You're too what?" I glare at him. If he's going to throw me by the wayside, he'd better damned well be able to articulate why.

He's silent. But his thought is clear enough. I'm too happy with you.

I should be flattered, but instead I'm just livid. "OK, that is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. You are dumping me-- no, you're asking me to dump you-- because you're too happy?"

"Matt, I cannot afford to fall in love right now!" There are tears in his eyes. "I can't..."

"It's not a goddamned yacht, Mohinder!" I don't know why this makes me shout. Maybe because it's the closest he's come to admitting he might be in love with me. Maybe because I need him to admit it first before I can admit it to myself. "You don't only do it if you can afford it!"

"Please." He's truly crying. I feel like a monster's fist is clutching my heart, crushing it. "You're making this too hard..."

"Then let me make it a little easier." There's something reactionary in me, something cruel and masochistic, that takes over then. I'm watching myself in horror, unable to believe what I'm saying. But I'm still saying it. "What if I told you I don't love you? That this is all just a rebound, that I'm a cop and cops don't have lasting relationships with other men if they want to keep their jobs? That I went into this knowing from the beginning it'd never be more than a fling?"

And then I'm tasting blood, because Mohinder has punched me. Hard.

I'm falling. The newspaper rack goes rattling to the ground under me. The loose screw goes to the floor again and spins there like a demented top. Mohinder is standing over me like a triumphant monster. I haven't felt this small since the third grade. "Is that what you think is the Right Thing to Say?" he demands. "Or do you really mean that?"

"What do you think?" I am spitting blood from my mouth, on my hands and knees. "You want me to mean it?"

"I think," he says deliberately, "that if everything you just said is true--" if you don't love me, he thinks, though he doesn't say it-- "you'll leave. Right now. Tonight. Go to your friend and forget all about this 'fling.' Because you obviously don't need someone like Dale to destroy the trust between us."

It's just then that the clock strikes midnight. It's a dull, nauseous, ominous chime. The screw wobbles on the floor with the force of it.

The screw.

Dale had been on his hands and knees, replacing the screw. Then he was in the chair, looking down. Then he was backing toward the door.

The whole time, the name Zane had never been spoken aloud.

He knew it.

He knew it...

I get to my feet and wipe the blood from my jaw. The clock is still chiming as I tear out of the building.

Next: Fast-forward

Comments


11th-Mar-2008 12:13 am (local)
boymommytotwo
(70.58.236.137)

UGH! there and back and to and fro... every-which-way-wretched direction!!!

i always enjoy your dialogue, the banter, the pride, the challenge of it all... i guess in order to love fierce they fight fierce, huh?

12th-Mar-2008 05:12 pm (local)
tiptoe39
(198.67.17.9)

I guess so. They are two strong personalities after all. Things will get worse before they get better... :sigh: :glares at chapters 6 and 7:

11th-Mar-2008 01:51 am (local)
arabella_w
(200.57.22.253)

ouch! that fight was really ugly, but I loved the interaction between the characters, the harsh words Matt said to "do things easier" and the reaction from Mohinder were just excellent.

And I really like the last part, when he put the pieces together.

I can't wait to the next chapter.

12th-Mar-2008 05:13 pm (local)
tiptoe39
(198.67.17.9)

Me neither. But it's being obnoxious. It wants to, you know, have a narrative strain and themes and stuff. :annoyed:

11th-Mar-2008 12:34 pm (local)
00smut
(24.174.100.125)

Oh Darling, this is great. That Sylar is a sneaky bastard <3

Love this.

12th-Mar-2008 05:14 pm (local)
tiptoe39
(198.67.17.9)

yes he is. :mad at sylar:

11th-Mar-2008 02:42 pm (local)
starlingthefool
(63.226.228.164)

AGH NO, IT'S A CLIFFHANGER.

This is excellent.

12th-Mar-2008 05:14 pm (local)
tiptoe39
(198.67.17.9)

Glad you like it. :D

11th-Mar-2008 02:54 pm (local)
crystal_mk
(72.95.156.89)

Eek! Run Matt run! Save Mohinder from himself! I gotta tell you, pride or not, if a telepath told me not to trust someone you better believe I'd be packing my bags and getting the heck outa there.

Matt and Mohinder's fight was perfect. The tension and the yelling and Matt "making it easier" worked so well.

12th-Mar-2008 05:15 pm (local)
tiptoe39
(198.67.17.9)

well mohinder i think is still having trouble believing matt can really hear thoughts... I mean, it's not like seeing a guy melt something, it's hard to prove, ya know? besides he is vulnerable and doesn't really know how to handle this huge honking big thing called love that has just parked in his driveway....

but I babble.

11th-Mar-2008 06:28 pm (local)
hanuueshe
(68.195.92.216)

*Oh*, the clock chimming when he figures out that Dale is Sylar. Nice touch.

I really, really like this twist. Up until now, the whole Matt/Mohinder dynamic has been more or less effortless, so this little-only-not-so-much, sort of superman-esque thing of Mohinders about not being able to afford the distractions of falling in love is very in character (if you ignore the fact that that makes Matt his Louis Lane) and I could totally see him thinking that it was entirely his fault. I'm just a little afraid that Mohinder will misinterpet Matt's whole running out of the room thing (but I know you'll resolve that later, so not too worried.)

12th-Mar-2008 05:17 pm (local)
tiptoe39
(198.67.17.9)

You have hit the proverbial nail on the head. There is a huge issue here about what is easy and what is hard, what is simplicity and what is complication. Is love an unnecessary complication when one is on a mission? Or is love the sort of thing that you want to get to eventually, and everything else is just an obstacle? It's gonna take Mohinder a while to figure out which end is up here. Luckily enough, he's going to have some unlikely help.

:iz mysterious:

11th-Mar-2008 08:08 pm (local)
teecub
(192.207.76.43)

Whoa! The intensity keeps on building! Matt knows now, it seems, and I am really excited to see how he responds! Methinks he is out for blood!

Also, the whole mess between Matt and Mohinder right now is so believable. The poor boys! I really cannot wait to read more! <3

12th-Mar-2008 05:18 pm (local)
tiptoe39
(198.67.17.9)

It is very messy is it not? The question is what exactly needs cleaning up... ^___^

11th-Mar-2008 10:08 pm (local)
boudecia7
(72.208.141.72)

Yay for Matt putting the pieces together!--I certainly didn't (well, yeah, of course I knew, but I didn't pick up on Sylar's slip). Awesome.

But what will happen now??? I really loved Sylar's creepiness when he told Matt only one of them would be in the car by the time they got to NY...so sinister. I can hardly wait to see what Matt's gonna do. Wring Sylar's neck, I hope!

More soon, please

:D


12th-Mar-2008 05:18 pm (local)
tiptoe39
(198.67.17.9)

detective!matt rocks my world on a daily basis. I swear.

Hugs!



12th-Mar-2008 03:27 pm (local)
votebob
(67.165.213.99)

I really like how you're putting this plot together using elements from canon but in a different way. At first you might say it's AU, but at the same time it could be totally in canon because of how much the show already plays with the notion of time and how one event changes multiple others. All the original events are still taking place, just in a different way. You're kind of amazing.

(and I forgot to say in the last chapter I commented on, you get double awesome points for actually using lube and protection in the sex scene. A lot of writers don't do that and it grates on me every time.)


12th-Mar-2008 05:20 pm (local)
tiptoe39
(198.67.17.9)

Hey, thanks. Actually I notice a lot of people/most people who write mattmo use protection in their sex scenes. I think it probably has to do with the reasons for the shippage. I'd hazard a guess that Mylar writers like it dangerous. Mattmo fans like it stable and permanent. ^_^

But that's just my personal speculation.

12th-Mar-2008 06:14 pm (local)
baehj2915
(209.62.171.136)

OOOOOHH!!

i think this is my favorite chapter. with the tension and the angst and finding out about sylar-ness.

i'm really excited for the next chapter!

JLB


21st-Mar-2008 05:47 pm (local)
saavikam77
(71.114.87.215)

Gaaaaaaaaahhhhh!!! *flails* O_O

Holy crap!

I seriously don't think I can manage coherent thought after *any* of your chapters, the endings are such masterful cliff-hangers. O_O Damn.

And I want to smack Mohinder for being so damned blind. :(
 
 
 
Shoneéscarletfbl on July 20th, 2008 12:31 pm (UTC)
Isn't Sylar just the perfect villain?

*Sigh* Why did Mohinder have to hit Matt? My poor chubby bear. 何でーーーーーーーーーーー?

Matt to the rescue!