Summary:Set after 2x09; for the purposes of this story we will assume that what we see in the preview for 2x10 does not happen immediately but rather on some subsequent day...
This is the 14th of 30 possible ways Matt and Mohinder could share their first kiss, written for 30_kisses. The prompt/theme was "radio-cassette player" (rajikase.) Previous kisses are here.
"Molly." Matt rapped on the door.
"I'm not speaking to you!" Shouted from the other side. She'd locked herself in.
Matt sighed. "Come on, Molly, open the door!"
Her voice was tinged with sadness. "Why don't you make me? You can do that now!"
So he did. Open the door.
The handle turned and her tear-streaked face appeared, glowering at him. "There. You made me do it. Does that make you feel good? That you can control me like he did?"
"What do you mean? Who?"
"You know who."
The words were enough. Matt stepped back, aghast.
"I don't trust you anymore," Molly said quietly, her voice shaking. "I thought I could trust you, and you did this--"
"Did my father make you do something?"
This was the wrong thing to say, apparently. She bristled like an angry cat and screamed "You don't get it!", running back into her room and slamming the door.
Matt sighed again, leaned against the door. "I'm just trying to help you."
"Then leave me alone!" The scream was hysterical, both angry and frightened. A moment later he could hear the screeches of her desk's legs as she pulled it in front of the door to block it.
He'd thought she was mad about something minor. One of those things only kids understand and then promptly forget about. So when she wouldn't come out of her room for dinner, he thought he'd exercise a little parental authority. How shortsighted he'd been. She had every right to be mad.
She'd been here before. She probably well knew the warps and tugs of a mind that was being manipulated. After all, Angela Petrelli had also been able to recognize-- and resist, to some extent-- his suggestions. Molly was probably no less familiar with the signs. Children are surprisingly good at picking up on things. He'd learned this in the scant few months he'd been an accidental father.
It was the fear in her voice that got to him. He'd heard that fear before, in too many situations. But it'd never been fear of him. How could he protect her from the monsters if he was one himself?
Near midnight, the latch on the front door clicked, and Matt, who was nursing a coffee and a headache, sprang up to help Mohinder with his luggage. He opened the door and scooped the suitcases off the ground, glad to be doing something that didn't involve feeling sorry for himself. Then he straightened up and saw that Mohinder's head was bowed low, his shoulders full of tension. Matt dropped the cases.
The thud of them hitting the floor propelled Mohinder into motion. He surged forward into Matt's arms, head against his shoulder, sobbing uncontrollably. Matt stared for a moment at the unexpected contact, then did what anyone would do-- he put his arms around him and held tight. Mohinder's weight was warm against him, his face hot with tears and frustration. Matt touched the black curls that were vibrating with the force of the tears. He wasn't sure of a whole lot, but he knew Mohinder needed him. And he had no choice but to be there.
It took the better part of an hour to coax the story out, but once Mohinder got talking, he didn't seem to want to stop. He was the same as most rookies who'd had their first experience with shooting a perp; it was a matter of getting all of their thought process out into the open and seeing if it stood under the light or went scurrying into the darkness. Every time, they were so afraid of seeming like a cold-blooded killer, and every time, their brothers in blue banded around them. The funny thing was, it was never the ones who agonized about it that you had to worry about. The guys who exulted in their first kill, they were the ones to watch out for.
"I suppose I'm fortunate that it's the Company I'm dealing with, after all," said Mohinder, much calmer, after a cup and a half of tea and a lot of tissues. "At least I'm assured that there will be no legal ramifications. Unless, of course, I'm confessing this to just the wrong person." He looked nervously up at Matt.
"Nah," Matt said, his voice gravelly. "I wouldn't."
Relief flushed through the delicate features. "I'm glad to hear you say that. Now I just have to learn to live with myself."
"You will," Matt said, patting his hand comfortingly across the table. "We all do, eventually." He tried to avoid wishing someone would say the same to him.
"God, I hope you're right," Mohinder sighed, getting up to refill his cup. "I have the feeling I won't be sleeping much tonight."
"No," Matt said, "me neither."
Mohinder turned around. Matt's head was in his hands. If he stared any harder at his empty teacup he would burn a hole in it.
"I'm sorry, Matt," he said, taking the cup from beneath those intense eyes and filling it with steaming water. "I've been so focused on myself..."
"No, that's fine," Matt said, giving a smile that was at least half sincere. "You had a tough time."
"It looks like you did, too." Mohinder sat down across from him again and drew the teabag in small circles along the bottom of the cup. "Did you want to share?"
Matt shook his head weakly. "Nah. No, it's all good." He stared at his tea emptily, wishing he could just curl up inside that cup and drown. "There is a favor you could do for me, though."
"Yeah." He got up, his frame feeling far too heavy and bulky to drag around, and labored his way over to the counter. "I take it you'll wake Molly up in the morning? Give her a surprise?"
Mohinder grinned despite his troubles. "That was more or less my plan."
"Good," Matt said. "Would you give her this?"
He turned around and handed a heavy black object to Mohinder. It was an old-school radio/cassette player, the kind with the carrying handle and the tiny silver microphone built into the top. The antenna was broken off and the battery pack was missing its cover - the batteries were taped in with clear packing tape. There was a tape, rewound, inside the machine, with the scrawled words "4 MOLLY" on the label.
Matt waved his hand dismissively as he started down the hall. "You'll see in the morning," he said. "I'll be in my room." Mohinder stared after him, then down at the tape recorder. He definitely would not be sleeping tonight.
"Wake up, sweetheart."
"Nnh... but 's Saturday..."
"Even so. I've waited all night to see you."
"What's...." And just like that, she sprang up and into his arms. "Mohinder!"
"Hi, princess. I'm home." There was no more beautiful morning than this, Mohinder thought as he stroked her long hair. There was no redemption he needed other than this, a morning, skinny arms tight around him, the trust and love of a child. It would all be all right. It had to be. He wouldn't subject Molly to anything less.
"I missed you," she whispered through an uncontrollable grin. "I missed you a lot."
"I missed you too, darling," he said, and squeezed her until she squeaked. She giggled and batted her hands at him playfully. "Have you been sleeping all right?"
"Perfect!" she enthused, rounding her thumb and forefinger into the OK sign. "Hey, what's that?"
Mohinder had put the tape recorder at the foot of her bed and forgotten about it in the joy of seeing her, but Molly had the curiosity of a cat and the eyes of one, too, and, catlike, she leapt through Mohinder's arms and over to the strange object. It occurred to Mohinder that she might be too young to have ever seen a tape player.
"Oh, sweetie, don't worry about that," he said, all at once nervous as to what was on it himself. He'd finally found some sanity and light after all the confusion; he didn't want it to slip away again.
But he wasn't quick enough; whether she was too young for tapes or not, she did know the shape of the "play" button, and all of a sudden white noise filled the room. Mohinder moved quickly to slide the volume button down slightly so their ears wouldn't be blown away.
Matt's voice. Sort of rumbly and a little too close to the microphone.
"Hi, Molly. I'm sorry about this, but I wanted to talk to you and I knew you were still mad at me."
Mohinder glanced at Molly. Her big eyes were shimmering; she was listening quietly, her lips turned down into a frown of concentration. He decided not to ask yet.
"Um, I don't really know how to say this. You're right, I didn't get it. I didn't realize it, but I really used you. I was kind of... excited, I guess... to think about what I might be able to do, and I sort of tested it on you before I knew it. I thought maybe I was just talking into your mind at first. I didn't realize I... but I should have. And now I'm making excuses."
There was a small, choked sound, as though Matt had bitten back tears as he was recording.
"Anyway, this is the only way I could think to, without you being worried I was getting in your head again, to say I'm sorry." His voice broke. He had been crying. And the tears were unrestrained now. "I'm really sorry. I would never hurt you, not on purpose. I'm sorry that sometimes I do without meaning it. I promise that I will never do that again, no matter how mad I get, no matter what kind of fight we have, if you can just forgive me. I hope you can."
And, with heartbreaking sadness: "You're my little girl, Molly. You're my daughter. I love you."
The tape clicked into nothing.
Mohinder was at once sure he knew what had happened and sure there was more to it than that. Someday he'd get the whole story. But right now he had to put his arms around a girl who was sobbing in relief and love and sadness, and tell her everything was all right.
Matt was fairly sure, at this point, that there were precisely 249 cracks in the ceiling. He'd counted them at least twice. And he'd just gotten around to naming them when there was suddenly another crack.
A crack of light. Coming through his bedroom door.
He sat up, the previous night's sleeplessness lost. There was a tentative hazel eye peeking through that crack.
His hair was a mess, and he needed to shave, and he couldn't speak. Matt looked an absolute sight. But his face as Molly pushed through the door, so full of love and pleading and fear to even hope, struck Mohinder as something lovely beyond words. He stayed outside the door and watched.
She stood just inside the room, fumbling with her hair, looking at her feet. Her jaw was trembling.
Matt got up, kneeled down so he could look her in the eye, but didn't approach her. Just gazed at her, waited for her eyes to meet his. Her chin was slow in turning up. Slow in reaching that moment of contact.
There was an instant where she read everything that was in those dark, sleepiness-blurred eyes.
And then she was in his arms, and he was on his feet, cradling her, crying and laughing and dancing with her, and Mohinder could believe in redemption, because Molly was redemption. They would be OK, both of them, with all their mistakes and all their flaws and all their bad choices, because she believed in them and she loved them. He'd thought that, over the past few days, he'd run out of tears. He was wrong.
Then Molly leaned back in Matt's arms and reached out a hand to him. An invitation like that was one Mohinder couldn't refuse. He came into the room, into the circle of the embrace, one arm on her back, another along Matt's shoulders, feeling the completeness and the hope that was family. Matt couldn't spare a hand, so he simply leaned his head in toward Mohinder's.
And then, still giddy with the happiness and the comfort, as though it were the most natural thing in the world, Mohinder brushed his lips against his.
Matt's eyes flew wide open. The two stared at each other for a long moment above their daughter's head. Mohinder averted his eyes, kissing the crown of those strawberry-blonde locks instead, too invested in this moment to ruin it because of just one impulsive kiss.
Finally, Molly straightened up in Matt's arms and smiled broadly at the both of them. "I'm sorry I was scared," she said earnestly to Matt, ruffling his hair further.
"I'm sorry I scared you," he answered.
"So we're going to do something fun today, right?" she grinned. "Now that Mohinder's home."
Mohinder and Matt looked at each other, the same expression on both their faces: When did this get decided?
Might as well go with it. "Sure, darling, what do you want to do?" Mohinder asked.
"Mmmm, dunno!" With a mighty push she leapt from Matt's grip, causing him to gasp in momentary panic that he had somehow dropped her. Mohinder knew the feeling well. "But I am hungry. Can I have the sugar Os this time?" She didn't wait for an answer; the cage door was open and that little bird had flown the coop.
"Don't make yourself sick!" Matt shouted after her.
Mohinder slumped backward against the door, shutting it behind him. "I think I know what happened," he said, looking down.
"Yeah. I'm sorry I didn't tell you," Matt said. "Look, I owe you an explanation. I'm not sure how it happened, but it did, and I didn't mean to do it to Molly, but I did... that sounds pathetic, I know. To tell you the truth, I did something I'm not so proud of the other day... I think I made the right decision, but it doesn't make it any easier. I guess we're in the same boat."
"Exactly," said Mohinder. "I think that's why."
"Just now. I think that's why I did that. Because we're both facing the same demons."
"Mohinder, what the hell are you talking about?" Matt's emotions were so keyed up that ecstatic happiness flew right into confused anger without so much as a change in gears. "When you say you know what happened..."
"I don't want you to worry about it," Mohinder said. "We both have enough on our minds. Much more important things."
Matt stared at him, and a question mark rose up through his throat and then died again. "Oh."
Mohinder looked up at him, cheeks flaming red.
Matt shrugged. "To tell you the truth, Mohinder? You're right. We've got enough to worry about right now."
"Exactly," Mohinder said, trying to beat back a sudden, unpleasant wave of feeling. Was he actually disappointed that Matt was agreeing with him? But he'd meant it; this wasn't the time for such things.
"I mean, why should I worry about something that made me happy, for God's sake?"
This made Mohinder's head snap up.
Matt was smiling at him. Really, genuinely smiling. "You and Molly are my family," he said. "You're all I've got. I wonder all the time if this is going to be it, this is the last mistake, I'm out on my ass. But so far, despite all the stupid things I've done, you still seem OK with keeping me around. So anytime, any way you decide to tell me you're still OK with me? I'll take it."
Mohinder cupped his hands over his mouth and nose like he had a handful of days before. Now, like then, he was seriously fearing for his life. But this time, it was because his heart was exploding, dousing his insides in luminescent red bubbles..
"Mohinder? You OK, man?" Matt put a hand on his shoulder. "That nose bothering you?"
"Nose--" He fingered the white strip of bandage and laughed. "Oh, that. No. No. I just..." His hand slackened, found its way to the large hand on his shoulder. "Matt, OK with you? You think I'm not OK with you? I need you. I wouldn't have made it through last night without you."
"Then what's the problem?"
How could he be this simpleminded? "The problem? I kissed you! Normally this would scare someone away! How can you just stand there like nothing happened?"
"I never said nothing happened," Matt said. His voice had taken on a low, guttural tone. "I said I wasn't going to worry about it."
"I don't understand."
"Let me make it simple for you, then." The voice was now husky, and oh so close. Mohinder could barely look. But it was another hug he was drawn into, nothing more seductive than that. "I'm here for you," said that whisper so close to his ear, "and nothing you could say or do is going to change that. You are my family. I can't say that enough. You're my family."
It was a long time before Mohinder could move in that embrace. When he finally circled his arms around Matt's waist, Matt sighed and smiled.
Their second kiss would come, but not today. Today was a day for family.
After writing that I feel like I need a pint of Haagen-Dazs...