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19 November 2007 @ 11:16 am
[fanfic] Serendipity, 3/3  
Title: Serendipity (part 3 of 3)
Author: tiptoe39
Rating: PG-13 for language, violence & some mild innuendo.
Summary: You always find it when you're looking for something else.

Matt was so deep in thought - others' thoughts, of course, not his - that he didn't even see Mohinder rushing up to him. In fact, he jumped when the man grabbed his arm with sudden urgency. "Mohinder, what the hell--" he began, but his words trailed off as the sketch Mohinder was pointing to came into slow focus. "That's here," he said. Mohinder nodded wordlessly. "Holy shit, that's here. All right. Don't panic." He grabbed the pointing arm, forced it down to Mohinder's side. "Don't make a fuss. If anyone else notices that picture, it'll be a madhouse in here. Just stand there. Don't face it. Watch people. I'll go around the edges of the room, keep an eye out. Just don't panic."

He had gone into full cop mode, Mohinder noted as he watched him stomp away purposefully. He'd seen Matt with a gun in his hand, seen him struggle back from the brink of death, but this was Matt Parkman in his element. And the thought of leaving it up to him made Mohinder kind of confident. He smiled.

Matt wasn't aware he was in his element. He wasn't aware of anything but the fact that there was a real danger here and he needed to stop it. He scanned the throng, muscling his way through their lines where he needed to and getting more than a few clicked tongues and disapproving glares. They didn't faze him. They didn't have to like him, they just had to survive, and that's where he came in. Situations like this were why he became a cop in the first place.

He wasn't even looking at the artwork, but there was a man across the room staring at one painting, transfixed, and as Matt got closer, he could hear a steady stream of Oh my God oh my God oh my God in his head. Remaining several feet behind him, Matt inched up to where he could see the image on the wall. Abruptly, his mind began echoing the man's horrified shouts.

It had been three months ago, one of his first New York cases. Two children being held hostage in an apartment by the mother, who had been thrown out by her husband and had forced her way back into the apartment. On the phone she'd been demanding crazy things of the police, that they get her a helicopter and $10,000, that they arrest her husband and lock him away, that they get the president of the United States on the line because he was inside her head. They talked her down as best they could, but by the time the team made it into the apartment, she'd shot herself, and the place was ablaze; the kids had suffocated in the smoke. The poor father had survived, but he was too distraught to even give testimony, and the case had been closed.

Matt recognized the apartment's decor immediately. Worse, he could see the body of one of the children, tiny legs poking out from under a sofa like the Wicked Witch of the East. But the foreground of the picture was what made it so stomach-turningly awful. In it, he could see the mother, sweating and shouting into a cell phone... but a gun was being trained on her by the father, whose madness was palpable in the picture. The woman looked only frightened.

And it was that same father who was staring at the painting now.

Matt considered retreating and calling for backup, but as he watched, the man bolted. Matt could only hear the edge of his thoughts as he ran off: ...destroy it and nobody will ever know...

The guy had gone out a small side door labeled "Employees Only." Matt shot after him, barreling through a semicircle of chatterboxes. He wished he'd brought his gun. At this rate he'd have to depend on muscle and the element of surprise to stop him. On the other side of the door the dark hallway doubled as a cleaning closet. The closest thing Matt could find to a weapon was a tall broom, which he grabbed. He could hear the panicked thoughts of the man he was after dimly in the darkness-- he was close, but not close enough.

Then the thoughts abruptly changed. Catch, catch, catch! Matt came to a corner and peered around, his back flat against the wall. The back room he was looking into was a storehouse for artworks, and canvases and prints were stacked up in huge, leaning piles against walls and file cabinets. Like a scurrying raccoon, a dark shape was in one corner, squatting against one of the stacks.

Catch, catch, catch! It was almost too dark to see, but light was flickering from behind him, and Matt realized with horror what he was trying to do. There was no more time for doubt. He broke into a run, determined to knock the man's tools of arson out of reach before that picture had a chance to become reality.

The man heard the footsteps and turned to be knocked flat on his back by Matt, who grabbed his wrists and forced them above his head. "Police!" he bellowed, hoping the tone would be enough. The man struggled, kneed him in the back fruitlessly.

"Hoping nobody would notice?" Matt's adrenaline was in control of his tongue now. "Hoping you could torch the place and be off the hook? Nice try, pal."

The guy was wild-eyed. His hands were black as though covered with soot. He spat, "How can I torch the place? I haven't got any matches, no lighter, nothing! You crazy-ass cop!"

Matt's eyes darted to and fro. There was nothing in the guy's hand, nothing on the surrounding floor. Had he made a mistake? His hands loosened their grip.

And then he heard, Dumbass.

Another half-second, and he'd been knocked backward himself, his head hitting wood plank flooring with a sickening crack. There was a huge snapping noise and then heat by his side, and when he turned his head he saw red and blue flame licking against the edge of the frame of a discarded canvas, snapping and catching against splinters on the unsanded floor, devouring inches like an angry monster. And it was all radiating from the man's palm, placed flat against that floor. His hand was the tinderbox from which the fire was spreading.

Shit, thought Matt. He can start fires. He rolled over onto the flame, praying his body weight would be enough to smother it, but by then the man had put his blackened hands on another square of floor, and there was more fire. Matt coughed heavily, tried to grasp the guy's ankles, but by then the bastard had completely regained his balance, and he kicked Matt down again, compounding smoky suffocation with bruising pain and confusion. Flat on his back, he did a half-second survey of the room. The place was dark, and from the looks of it, still in construction-- Matt doubted there was working electricity, much less a fire alarm or sprinkler system. And he didn't have time to wait for it to kick in, either. With aching arms he grabbed one of the canvases and started slamming it against the fire. How stupid could he have been to think he could just handle this off the books, with no gun or backup?

Wait, he did have backup. Of a sort. Matt took a break from berating himself and, after swiping the broom handle across the man's kneecaps, toppling him, squeezed his eyes tight and concentrated.

Mohinder, can you hear me? I need your help.

The words hit Mohinder like a shot through the back of the head. He'd been standing, sweating, trying to be nonchalant as traffic milled all around him. And then, clear as a bell, there was Matt in his head, calling out to him, giving him instructions. It was a phenomenon he'd never experienced before. Direct telepathic contact. This had implications for--

Don't just stand there, hurry!

Mohinder bolted from his spot, startling several of the young women who had decided he must be one of the exhibits himself. They cooed and gasped as he made for a side wall, where a fire extinguisher hung from a hook. With a mighty effort he pried his way through the crowd and grabbed the big red bolt of metal.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?" It was the Asian woman who had been giving the lecture earlier. Mohinder wheeled, sure he looked like a crazy person, hugging a fire extinguisher and sweating like a hog. But the woman's sharp features changed the minute his face came into view. "Doctor Suresh, pardon me... is your friend...?" She looked as though she wasn't sure whether to smile or gasp. "Don't let me stop you," she said finally. I'll arrange for backup."

Mohinder was fairly sure he'd never seen her before tonight, but he didn't have time to ponder the situation. He shouldered his way through the employees' door into the dark hallway.

Matt had thrown his body across the man's legs, keeping him from getting back up, but now the man was hitting him with flame-laced fists, and his shirt was burning, and Matt was yelling from the pain and the effort of keeping him down. The guy was cursing at him. "Your fault if I torch the fucking place," he screamed. "Was just gonna lay low, ya know, grab the thing, but no, you had to be a goddamn hero! It's on your head, you pig! You made me do this!"

The words stung to Matt's core. All of a sudden everything was in doubt, and questions were everywhere. Had his being here tonight put all those people in danger? Should he just have ignored what he thought those paintings and those whispers were trying to tell him? Had he come searching for a perp, a destructive force, and discovered that he was that very force? He winced with both guilt and pain.

Then the world was full of gray-blue mist and it was hard to breathe for a different reason. "Matt!" called Mohinder through the haze, his voice panicked. "Are you all right?"

With the voice came a clarity of purpose, and Matt's doubts faded. "Put out the fire!" he hollered. "Don't mind me, make sure it doesn't spread!" The certainty gave him strength, and with a roar he captured both the firestarter's hands, forcing them into fists. The man yelped as he tried to ignite Matt's hands and ended up burning his own palms before the sheer lack of oxygen killed the flames on arrival.

A few minutes later there were private police on the scene, and how they knew to encase his hands in airtight bags was anyone's guess, but the Asian woman was giving orders, her arms folded smartly in front of her chest. As they turned to take him away, Matt walked up, leaned over, scowled into that crazed visage. "I didn't make you do anything," he muttered through gritted teeth. "You made a choice about how to use your power. That's all you."

The man spat, and his hands in the bags glowed faintly but were useless.

Mohinder watched. His pulse was racing. He'd been in more life-and-death situations in the past few months than he cared to recall, but this felt different. He felt as though he'd stumbled into this one by accident. There was no great master plan at work here; nobody was saving the world. And yet he could have sworn he felt the hand of fate at his back. Did Isaac Mendez know, when he drew those sketches, that someone would step in to save his legacy? Could he see that far into the future?

His mind flickered back to the series of sketches that had mortified him earlier. What else had this prophetic painter seen? Could he have known that Mohinder would be shocked to find himself the subject of erotic drawings? Had he expected it?

And more than any question, one thought wrapped around and around itself like a Moebius strip in Mohinder's mind: If he hadn't seen those sketches, he would never have thought to look at Matt in a different way. But he had, and he did. And now there was a melting inside him that he couldn't explain. He'd come here searching for answers, for a glimpse into the mysteries he probed every day, perhaps even a peek into the future. But what he'd found was a hero.

Wasn't there a word for that?

The woman's name was June Sakamoto, and she was more than grateful to the pair for their assistance. She also seemed to know a hell of a lot more about both of them than either was comfortable with, and as they sat in the back office later that night after the gallery closed, they glanced at each other nervously.

Among other things, Miss Sakamoto seemed to like hearing herself talk. She'd gone on an extended ramble about how during his life, Mr. Linderman had been consumed with creating a better world, and he saw Isaac Mendez's talent as key to that effort. "At first it seemed to be the assumption that everything Isaac Mendez saw when he painted was of earth-shattering significance," she explained. "But it became clear, as more of his work was added to the archives, that there were more personal, smaller-scale events depicted as well. The death of those children and their mother, and the subsequent threat to this gallery, was one. You may have seen others," she added, her eyes darting toward Mohinder and making him gulp.

"So you're telling us you were aware of the potential that your gallery might be burned to the ground, and yet you proceeded with the opening?" he asked.

"Of course," she said. "It's very difficult to change destiny, after all. Mr. Linderman was acutely aware of that, which is why he was so determined that these works should see the light of day."

"So you put all those people in danger?" Matt was beside himself.

"Not necessarily," Sakamoto answered smoothly. "Consider your presence here tonight. If you hadn't been here, would that gentleman have panicked quite as he did?"

"But I was here--"

"--and you stopped him. Precisely." Matt's jaw opened and clicked shut a few times. He sat back, his brow furrowed as though the whole concept was too much for him.

"Isn't that what they refer to as a self-fulfilling prophecy, though?" Mohinder was sure there was a flaw in this fatalistic logic. "You expect a disaster to occur, so instead of trying to prevent it, you attempt to accelerate its coming and then profit by it? That seems negligent at best and sadistic at worst."

Sakamoto laughed. "Doctor Suresh, I was privileged to work very closely with Mr. Linderman for several years. He was a shrewd man, with a love of many arts; not just painting but literature, as well. He was a particular aficionado of certain words, which he felt accurately summed up what he knew of the human experience. One of those words was serendipity."

For a moment, a thrill shot through Mohinder's body. But he managed to maintain his poker face. "I'm familiar with the word. The act of finding something when you are searching for something else."

"Exactly." She leaned forward. "As you might imagine, looking through and inventorying Isaac Mendez's paintings led to many a moment of serendipity for Mr. Linderman and I. In some cases, the paintings led us to do a great deal of good. He felt it was only fair that he accept the risk inherent in that, for through his experience, he had found destiny to be his only worthy adversary. 'And when one has a worthy adversary,' he used to tell me, 'one must pick one's battles carefully.' "

"And accept those one cannot win," Mohinder finished. "The idea has merit. I'm just baffled at your ability to decide that this would not be a worthy battle."

"And I, Doctor," she said meaningfully, "am surprised at what you have chosen to fight."

Home was a few blocks from the subway station, and Mohinder blew on his hands, watching his breath puff around them and disappear into the cold air. Matt's hands were in his pockets, but he was shivering, too, and muttering into the collar of his coat.

"If I hadn't been there he wouldn't have... but I was there, so he.. and.."

A very unlucky soda can came into contact with his foot and was promptly kicked across the street. "God DAMN, that woman was frustrating!" His hands flew to his waist, where, Mohinder knew, beneath his coat was a shirt that was singed and skin that was probably blistering. "Ow!"

"Are you sure you don't want to visit a hospital?" Mohinder asked.

Matt, ever the macho man, smiled as though he could feel no pain. "Why would I want to do that?" he said. "Besides, I've got a doctor who makes house calls. To his own house, but still."

"Heh." Mohinder half-smirked, but his mind had begun roiling with images. Would Matt actually ask him to patch up his wounds? What would happen if, as Mohinder's fingers spread ointment over that blistered skin, there were firelight in Matt's eyes? And if he were to pull a bandage around his back, and have to bend in toward those shoulders to get an airtight fit...


He realized he'd been staring. "Nothing." Trying to swallow his pulse, Mohinder sucked in cold air that felt refreshingly bitter in his chest.

"Hey," Matt went on, "what was that word she was going on about? The one about finding something you weren't looking for?"

"Serendipity," Mohinder answered quietly.

"Right." Matt stopped walking, faced him. "I wonder if this counts."

His voice was grave, his eyes shimmering like a vibrating string that had just sounded a low note. Mohinder's heart went flying up through his ears. In that place, with that expression, he realized, Matt was an uncommonly handsome man. "What?"

"You know, this whole thing. If I hadn't run into you in that cafe, I might be dead now. But you were there, so I made it. Does that qualify?"

Breath returned. Handsome, Mohinder amended, but with no self-awareness whatsoever. "I don't think that's precisely what it means, no."

"Oh." He sounded disappointed. "I must not get it, then."

But Mohinder did. It was simple enough, really. What he'd found tonight, unexpectedly, was a sort of enlightenment.

It was not always a painting that predicted the future. Sometimes, it was the sight of a man in danger; the laugh in a voice; the confused dimness in dark eyes. Sometimes, the greatest clarity was found amid smoke and flames and confusion. And sometimes it was not what was in a drawing that predicted the future, but what that drawing made you feel and realize about yourself and the people around you.

And it was not always the answers to your questions that mattered, but who was beside you on the long journey to find those answers.

He'd wanted to look into the future of the world tonight. Instead, he'd found his own.

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Raiiningraiining on November 19th, 2007 05:35 pm (UTC)
Mmmm, lovely set. Interesting idea and well played: causal and fun, with just enough danger thrown in :)
Tiptoe39: determinedtiptoe39 on November 19th, 2007 06:16 pm (UTC)
Thanks, it sort of wrote itself and I was just following along... I may not be able to write action as well as I can write WAFF, so I was nervous about posting this. But I kinda liked the concept....
carma_babycarma_baby on November 19th, 2007 06:23 pm (UTC)
I love how you are able to turn prose into poetry without taking away the essence of that prose. I hope that made sense... Anyway, as usual, you have delivered something beautiful and intense and capable of making one think about relationships and love itself and what is behind love. Thank you!
Tiptoe39: creativetiptoe39 on November 19th, 2007 06:26 pm (UTC)
thanks hon! your reviews are practically poetry :D
carma_babycarma_baby on November 20th, 2007 02:07 am (UTC)
You have no idea how happy that makes me coming from you! I always like to review your stories because I feel like you deserve the little effort it takes to let you know how much I appreciate and enjoy your work.
JLBbaehj2915 on November 19th, 2007 06:32 pm (UTC)
hmmm? a story with a plot?

I think that's a deviation from the slash way of life.

Regardless, it was a very entertaining, Matt and Mohinder will eventually hook up story. Very nice!

My fave: Handsome, Mohinder amended, but with no self-awareness whatsoever.

~love from WI
Tiptoe39: whaaattiptoe39 on November 19th, 2007 06:59 pm (UTC)
Sorrry. Not my fault. Blame Linderman. Everything's his fault.
angeldylan628: MattMoangeldylan628 on November 19th, 2007 08:46 pm (UTC)
Yay!! You wrote my fic request! I nearly squeed out loud when I saw it posted!! And it was totally amazing! I loved the plot that wove it's way in, and you probably didn't know this but I'm a huge believer in serendipity so when I saw this fic's title I nearly had a mini heart attack and then when I saw that you didn't just use it for a catchy title but actually explored the idea of serendipity, I fell in love with it even more. *sigh* This fic is going in my memories. And I think I'm going to print it out too and read it to everyone who will listen.

Thank you so much again for writing this! I'm eternally grateful for it!
Tiptoe39: saitiptoe39 on November 19th, 2007 08:54 pm (UTC)
Oh, my, who knew? It just popped into my head. Maybe I am the anti-matt. Maybe people's thoughts read me. :D Thank you for the Icon of Doom. It wins. I'm so glad the fic lived up to your expectations.
(Deleted comment)
Tiptoe39: ayatiptoe39 on November 20th, 2007 01:19 am (UTC)
thanks i thought it was not so deep so that's nice to hear ;/

(ready to kill kiss #13 so needs the support)
(Deleted comment)
Tiptoe39: huhtiptoe39 on November 20th, 2007 01:47 am (UTC)
No but I am about to post it literally 5 minutes before the episode.... aaaaaaaaaggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhh
out_there on November 20th, 2007 08:03 am (UTC)
but this was Matt Parkman in his element.

*crazy hearts*

This story was lovely and truly intriguing. It was really interesting to have a story that felt a lot like a Heroes episode, like we could have easily got flashes of this subplot while other characters went aroudn doing their stuff.

Very, very cool.
Tiptoe39: shuichitiptoe39 on November 20th, 2007 12:42 pm (UTC)
Yay, thank you. It was a tad episodey, I agree... I uh wasn't sure that's a good thing, but if you say so.. heheh
saavikam77: Molly's Heroessaavikam77 on November 20th, 2007 10:13 pm (UTC)
Awww... this was *wonderful*! ^_^ I loved the twists and turns of 'fate' here, with the paintings, and the possibility that the sketch opened in Mohinder's mind. ^_~ Gorgeous. And Matt 'in his element'... just perfect. ^_^
Tiptoe39: matthindertiptoe39 on November 20th, 2007 10:22 pm (UTC)
Yay, I'm so glad you enjoyed!! I was very excited about the idea of using poor underrated Isaac in a fic (not to mention Sakamoto) so it was lots of fun to write. Thanks!
crystal_mkcrystal_mk on November 22nd, 2007 04:48 am (UTC)
Wonderful, wonderful fic. I love the idea of Matt and Mohinder being each other's destiny; so very sweet.
stangerine88stangerine88 on December 3rd, 2007 02:10 am (UTC)
Gah this was great! <3 <3 like crazy! It's nice to have a little action mixed in with the fluffy loving.
Tiptoe39: matt mind meldtiptoe39 on December 3rd, 2007 02:12 am (UTC)
Hey, sweetie, I see you've found the mother lode. You've got to check out everyone else's fic too... :grin:
LeiaDianaMinerva: Matt and Mohinderleiadiana on December 3rd, 2007 09:23 am (UTC)
"waves" Ummm...unless I'm mistaken you called Mohinder McKay in the first part. Otherwise, it was a great fic.

Tiptoe39: huhtiptoe39 on December 3rd, 2007 12:57 pm (UTC)
Except for McKay is another police officer and Matt is looking thru the paper at work.
LeiaDianaMinerva: Matt and Mohinderleiadiana on December 3rd, 2007 01:01 pm (UTC)
"headdesk" That would make sense. Sorry, trying to read different stories from different fandoms and I saw the name McKay...."shrug"

Tiptoe39: mattmo canontiptoe39 on December 3rd, 2007 01:09 pm (UTC)
Ahaha, sorry, maybe it was an unintentional crossover?

:watches M & M make eyes at each other in your icon for a half hour:

I'm sorry, what was I saying? :D~~~