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11 January 2008 @ 07:35 pm
[fanfic] 30 First Kisses - Kiss #29 (PG)  
Title:30 First Kisses - Kiss #29
Author: tiptoe39
Rating: PG.
Summary: Cosmic, dude.

This is the 29th of 30 possible ways Matt and Mohinder could share their first kiss, written for the 30_kisses challenge. The theme was "the sound of waves" (namioto). Previous kisses are here.



Matt as a teenager was sort of like Matt is today, only shorter. Short, dark, and pudgy. He stuck out in L.A. like a sore thumb. Like every teenager, he wanted to conform. He wanted to bleach his hair blond and tighten up his muscles and become a surfer boy. He wanted a Jeep or a convertible. He wanted sunglasses, sandals, and a surfboard with a painted tiger on it. And most of all, he wanted the attitude. He wanted to be cool and gnarly and laid-back, to smile calmly whenever adversity struck and just know that soon he'd be catching a wave and everything would be fine.

He had one good surfer friend. Chuck was also stoned half the time and in and out of juvie, and he had been held back at least once, probably a few times. But that just made him older and cooler in Matt's eyes. And Chuck ate it up. He thought of Matt as his pet rock, his little sidekick to be coddled and pitied. So when Matt came to him, flustered, his body bruised from a tussle with the jocks or his heart from a rejection, Chuck would take him aside and whisper the secrets of the universe to him:

"You know what causes the waves, don't you? Gravity. The earth and the moon. And the whole universe. Pulling at each other. So surfing is all about finding your perfect place in the universe. You're looking for the perfect wave, that one place and time you're supposed to be, and riding it, living it, for as long as you can. You wipe out, man, but that just means your wave hasn't come in yet.

"So whenever you get lost, just close your eyes and listen. Listen for those waves. It's the sound of the whole universe. Pulling you toward that one perfect place and time. Follow it, man. Just close your eyes, listen for that wave, and follow it."


Matt did.

When he reached the peak of adolescence and didn't know what else to do with himself, he closed his eyes and listened. A police siren sounded in the night. Matt's heart sped up. He became a cop.

When Janice was a teaching assistant in one of his criminal justice courses and he couldn't take his eyes off her, he closed his eyes and listened. When he opened his eyes again, her number was on a Post-It note on his desk. He married her.

When he'd failed his detective's exam three times and thought that he might as well be in Siberia for how far he was from the crime scene he'd been called to, he closed his eyes and listened. He heard a girl whispering, "Please don't hurt me." And his life changed.

Matt still closes his eyes and listens. What he hears still guides him.




Molly's holding a shell up to her ear. Her eyes are closed, and she has a big smile on her face. But her feet are up on the table and she still has her shoes on. So as Matt sweeps by, he grabs her ankles and swings them down onto the floor. She shrieks and giggles and says "No fair!"

"I know, I'm very unfair," he frowns.

"Listen!" she says, holding the conch aloft in an outstretched hand. "You can hear the sea!"

"Where did you get that?" Matt turns the shell over between his fingers. It's pink inside, like a baby's ear.

"I kept it," she says, looking up at him with big eyes that are already pleading for leniency. As if her keeping a relic from her old house, her old life (for that is what she means) were somehow a crime.

Matt holds it to his ear. He closes his eyes and hears the waves. Hears the beat of destiny pounding in his throat. And hears the latch lifting and the door squeaking, and a lithe body shrugging off a coat, so pleased to be home so early. He presses the shell back into Molly's hand and turns toward the window, trying not to blush.

Mohinder comes sliding through the kitchen, squeezing Molly tightly. "I love that you're home this much," she says.

"Me too, darling." He looks up at the man by the window as he says it. "Let's hope it stays that way."

"Matt, give him my shell," she says, and entreats Mohinder, "Listen to it." Matt holds it out; Mohinder hesitates. He doesn't want to. Why doesn't he want to?

"Listen to it," she says again. "It sounds like the ocean." She wonders if maybe they don't make shells like that in India. "Don't you want to?"

He smiles in defeat. "I couldn't say no to you," he says, and takes it. She's watching eagerly. He holds it up to his ear. Closes his eyes. Listens to the sound of waves. And dies a little.

Matt sees the slight squeeze between his eyebrows and wonders.

"What do you think about when you listen to your shell?" he asks Molly.

"You shouldn't have to ask," she informs him critically.

He feels redness in the base of his neck. "I was just curious. I don't read your mind when I'm just curious. Don't make me out to be some kind of voyeur."

"What's a voyeur?"

"Nothing. Never mind."

Mohinder laughs. "So what do you think about, pumpkin?" he asks, ignoring Matt's dirty look.

"Hawaii," she says brightly. "I pretend I'm in Hawaii."

Mohinder is interested in this. "Why's that? Did your parents take you to Hawaii when you were young?"

"Nope. Never been."

"Would you like to go sometime?"

"Maybe."

"Only maybe?"

She arches an eyebrow. "It'd have to be one of the good islands. One with a mountain."

"You're absolutely right." Mohinder approves. "All good islands should have mountains."

"All good islands should have beaches," interjects Matt.

"All good islands," announces Molly, "should have both."

This is something they can all agree on.




Matt wants to rent a motorcycle and take Molly down to Jones Beach. Mohinder says no way in hell. Matt laughs and says, "I knew you'd say that, you geezer." Mohinder grumbles at him.




Molly left her shell on the windowsill. Matt picks it up. He lies down on the couch, puts it to his ear, and listens to the sound of the universe.

"Is it some sort of California thing?" asks Mohinder sleepily. He's looking for milk to put into his tea.

Matt opens his eyes. He didn't hear him come in. Didn't hear him put the kettle on, either. He was too busy listening. "What?"

"This nonsense with the shell." He gestures with the edge of his spoon. "Is it some sort of Los Angeles phenomenon?"

"What are you calling nonsense? Every kid listens to seashells." Matt's cross. He feels his brow knotting up. "What kind of lousy childhood did you have, anyway, that you don't even want to listen to the ocean when your kid asks you to?"

"It's not even the ocean, you know," says Mohinder flatly. "It's simply ambient noise from around you being reflected and amplified."

"I know it's not the ocean. How old do you think I am?" Big feet stomp to the floor. The sofa creaks as Matt stands. "Do me a favor and don't mention that garbage around her," he scowls.

"Wouldn't dream of it," Mohinder responds, not looking at him. He pours the milk into the tea and sniffs ardently at the vapor rising from the mixture.

"Good." Matt replaces the shell on the windowsill and goes to his room. At the door, he pauses and stomps back. "And next time, think a little before you decide to be such a killjoy." Only killjoy isn't the word he thinks, and it isn't the word Mohinder hears, either.

Mohinder considers stopping him, to tell him the truth isn't garbage any more than pretty lies are nonsense. Then he considers apologizing. In the end, he does neither. Angry Matt is as immovable as a mountain.

Matt comes back out of his room a while later, having decided that a real Californian would never have been so harsh. Mohinder can usually hear him coming a mile away, but as Matt enters the kitchen Mohinder doesn't stir. He's sitting at the table. One of his hands is wrapped around his mug of tea. The other is at his ear, holding the shell against it. His eyes are closed.

He's listening to the waves and quietly crying.




Mohinder suggests a weekend in the Catskills. Matt nearly wets himself laughing. "Right, let's go up into the old fossils and watch old fossils laugh at some old fossil's jokes," he says. Mohinder grimaces and drops the idea.




Mohinder pours a glass of white wine and walks down the hall to join Matt on the fire escape. It's summertime, and there's a breeze coming in off the harbor that for once smells of salt and not sewage. Brooklyn is not such an ugly place, not really. It has botanical gardens and museums and playgrounds and schools. It's not its fault that it's lumped into the messy New York cluster with Manhattan and Queens and the unfailingly hilariously named Flushing.

When the air conditioner broke, they jammed open the door to the fire escape so their whole floor could breathe. Now they use the black, cramped railing as their personal balcony. When they're at one end, they can see into Molly's bedroom. And Matt always listens for trouble, at Mohinder's insistence.

"It would be nice if we could get away," Mohinder says, and at Matt's puzzled look he blushes. "For Molly, of course. It's her summer vacation and we can't take her anywhere."

"You can take her somewhere," Matt shrugs. "I just can't go."

"Yes, and you'd both love that arrangement. I'd rather not have to deal with either of you in such a situation." Mohinder sips his wine and thinks of Swiss slopes and skiing.

"God, if I had the vacation time, though! I'd love to just sack out on the beach for about three days," Matt says wistfully, turning his head into the breeze. It kisses his lips and feathers his hair.

Mohinder is silent. Matt looks back. "Not a beach guy?" he says innocently.

"No." Shakes his head. "I'm not fond of the ocean."

"What, never learned to swim?"

"I scattered my father's ashes into the ocean at Katyakumari," Mohinder says soberly. Matt catches his breath. "And half of my dreams along with them. There in that ocean, I said what I thought were my final goodbyes to the madness he bequeathed to me. I was mistaken in that thought."

His eyes are tearing up. Matt remembers the conch and the look on his face, and knows not to say anything. Instead, he closes his eyes and listens.

He hears the traffic, and the wind in the trees. And Mohinder humming a sad song, like a funeral dirge. He sees the sand and the aquamarine burying ground. And he feels the grief. When he opens his eyes, they, too, are wet.

"I'm sorry, man," he says.

"Don't be." Mohinder smiles wistfully. "That was actually the last time my life made any sort of sense. Ever since then it's been all madness. I sometimes think I haven't stopped moving since my father's funeral."

"Well, that's a good thing, right?" Matt says benignly. "I mean, you want to be moving in life, right?"

"Perhaps." Mohinder is still lit up with a bittersweet smile. "Sometimes it would be nice to rest."

"To not have to move," Matt echoes. He thinks, To ride the waves.

"Exactly. Occasionally I just want to sit down and shout, let the earth move for me, because I refuse to budge!" Mohinder punctuates his comment with a wave of his glass.

Matt thinks, But you can't feel the earth moving.




Molly suggests Hawaii. This is something else they can all agree on. It's nice to have dreams.




Mohinder has the fan directly on his face.

"You're going to get pneumonia, you keep that up," Matt says, although the sweat on his brow is evidence his impromptu paper-plate fan is sadly lacking in power.

"Better too cold than too hot," Mohinder says.

"How d'you figure?" Matt watches the whirring blades as he sits, sweating glass of water beside him. The ice cubes shrink visibly by the second.

Mohinder tilts his head. "You don't agree?" The too-long wisps of curly hair are blown across his face. He spits them out when they sneak between his lips.

"Too hot is feverish," says Matt matter-of-factly, "but too cold is dead."

Mohinder's eyes widen. "I'd never thought of it like that. Interesting analysis."

"Of course, there is something to be said for a good dunking." Matt grins, flicking water across the table at him. "Which I'd prove if I could ever get you down to the beach."

"I really don't like beaches," Mohinder reminds him. "What's wrong with mountains?"

"Mountains?" Matt stares at him in disbelief. "They're just big, dead rocks!"

"Mountains are immortal," Mohinder argues. "They never change. No matter the ridiculous extent of human folly, we can never destroy them. They live forever."

"And never move," Matt retorts. "That doesn't sound like life to me. Sounds more like being dead. But maybe that's what you like about them."

Mohinder looks away. Matt feels a swell of pity. "Hey, look," he says awkwardly. "I don't mean anything by it. Maybe-- maybe it is a California thing. I had a buddy who was a surfer, and he used to talk about the perfect wave. So maybe that's still my idea of paradise. Doesn't have to be yours."

"Waves are dead things, too," Mohinder says quietly.

"And how do you figure that one?" Matt suddenly can hear the pounding in his ears. He's about to hear something that will change him a little. He's about to understand this man a lot more than he has.

Maybe it's the fan drying them out, but Mohinder's eyes are starting to look red again. They lose their focus, and when Mohinder speaks again, it's with the voice of a ghost.

"Pulled to life by a dead moon. They rise, they travel, they build and they swell, and for what? To break and die? To be dashed violently against rocks just before they reach their destination, or to weaken and fall at the shore? The beach is nothing but a graveyard of dead waves. They begin only to end."

"Sounds like all of us," Matt says immediately, not respecting the silence that such a statement seems to demand in its wake. He turns off the fan and the quiet of the small room seems to dwarf them both. "Sounds kinda like life."

Mohinder looks at him. His eyes are hollow, glassy. "Are we so small?" he asks.

"Smaller than mountains, yeah," Matt says. He feels like it's Chuck's voice speaking in him. He doesn't think he has the capacity to be this deep on his own. "But we're part of something cosmic. We carry ships. And... and messages in bottles. Sometimes we break, sure... and eventually we all die. But in the meantime, we go on a hell of a ride."

It's very hot and very still in the room. Mohinder has rivulets of sweat on both sides of his face. His eyes are red but no longer dry. "I'm afraid of some of the things you say," he whispers.

"Afraid?" Matt blinks. "How?" He honestly doesn't know. How can people be afraid to live?

Mohinder's eyes dart back and forth. "What I don't understand is, why am I the broken one?" he asks in a small, passionate voice. "You're the one who's seen so much death, who's been married and divorced. How come you're not broken?"

"I am," says Matt gravely. "Broken. I'm broken and bruised and pretty damn sick. I'm just not dead."

"And I am."

"No, I didn't mean..."

"No. It's true. I am." Tears spilling along the sides of his nose. "That's why I'm so afraid. Of the things you say that prove me wrong. Of the things you-- you make me feel."

"Things I--" Matt can't finish the sentence. He's trying to work out what those things are, and he's so intent on figuring them out that he doesn't think to close his eyes and just listen.

Instead, he looks. He sees Mohinder's hand, so lonely on the table, like half an oyster shell. So he covers it with his own. The warmth of the touch shocks Mohinder into speech and Matt into half-lidded silence.

"I thought I'd buried my innocence, my dreams, the day I scattered my father's ashes." Mohinder shakes his head. "But the dreams continued. It was just myself that I lost."

"Everything my father had told me over the years had been right. The things I tried to do on my own-- to deny him, to avenge him-- were spectacular failures. I feel as though I'm living for a dead man. What is it that I want to do? Do I have a vision, a purpose of my own? Or am I just a minor player in some generational psychodrama?"

He's up now, pacing, gesticulating. A player on his own stage. "Sometimes I think it would be easier that way. Just play along, Mohinder. Be the good puppet. You'll never feel pain if you're already dead. But here you are, telling me to live, and I don't even know what that means."

He stops pacing, fixes his gaze on Matt. There is no small tremble in his eyes. "Except for I want to. When I'm with you. You make me want to. And that is so frightening because to live means to die all over again, and I don't want to lose myself again, Matt, I couldn't stand it..."

Matt gets up, and in one movement has him in a two-fisted hug, the man's sweaty forehead against his shoulder. "I don't know what the hell you're talking about," he growls, leaning his mouth into the matted curls. His blood is racing with the intensity of all the things the embrace makes him feel. "But it's got to be awful for you. I'm here for you, man. Let me be here for you."

He figures that's his duty. After all, that's what Mohinder expects of him right now, right? Why else would he unload on him like this? Or perhaps is is just because he's there, because by some coincidence he happens to be here at this time and place.

(This perfect time and place.)

Matt shudders down to his soul with the realization.

And up from his soul, he smiles.

He lifts his hands to cup that warm, worried face between them. There's fear and pain and a little hope in Mohinder's eyes.

He doesn't have to close his eyes to hear the roaring of the waves now. He can feel the whole universe moving. The moon. The ocean. Tides. Gravity. Him. Drawn toward this moment.

Matt leans in and rides the wave.

Somewhere halfway through, Mohinder's hands have taken hold of his arms. They are trembling. So are his lips. His ears are reverberating with the sound of the surf.

When they land, somewhere else on the planet, they both breathe deeply.

"That's good," he says. "Breathing is good."

"I forgot how for a moment," Mohinder says. His voice is different.

Hell, everything's different.

But at least they're alive.




Molly is content, in the end, to listen to the ocean through her shell and think about Hawaii. What she really likes best is the idea that the mountains and the ocean are so close together, you can see both at once. It's impossible to imagine here on this huge, flat continent that there are places where mountains rise up out of the waves like majestic dinosaurs. But in Hawaii, she knows, they do. She's seen it in pictures.

Permanence and impermanence. High and low. Princes and warriors. In Molly's storybook dreams, they are always together.


:end:
 
 
 
I had fun once and it was awfulvisiblemarket on January 12th, 2008 01:10 am (UTC)
Oh, nice. Love the mountain/wave metaphors.

I can't believe you're almost done with this! They've all been so great.
Tiptoe39: epiphanytiptoe39 on January 12th, 2008 02:34 am (UTC)
I can't believe it either! Trust me, #30 is gonna take me a while to figure out. How does one cap off 30 first kisses!? My god! :intimidated:
The Soul says: - visiblemarket on January 12th, 2008 02:46 am (UTC) (Expand)
Sheila!: I'm mobile!msbhaven on January 12th, 2008 01:35 am (UTC)
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Only one left? No!! Gawd it took this tupid thing 30 minutes to load just so I could read it. <kicks sidekick>

That was quite sweet. Awww. You do have a way with words m'dear.

Are you feeling better?
Tiptoe39: fanfictiptoe39 on January 12th, 2008 02:35 am (UTC)
Yes, only I pulled my finger today so now I am injured instead of sick. Bleaugh.

Glad you liked.

suiito datte sa!
(Deleted comment)
Tiptoe39: animalstiptoe39 on January 12th, 2008 02:36 am (UTC)
Thank you very much! I am a sucker for imagery, so please forgive the metaphor with the subtlety of a thousand stampeding elephants :D
plotbunny_tiffplotbunny_tiff on January 12th, 2008 02:09 am (UTC)
Now I understand why you were so excited to post this. It's epic. No, epic is paltry, this is...this is robbing me of my mental thesaurus.

I'm shaking right now.

I don't care whether this is inappropriate to say or not- the last time I read something that shook me up on this level was when I finished reading Alex Haley's Roots in the fourth grade.

I can give you no higher praise than this.
Tiptoe39: cmere youtiptoe39 on January 12th, 2008 02:36 am (UTC)
...

Wow!

What a comment. Thank you sweetheart. I will remember it always.

I wonder what is in your life that made this so meaningful for you. Whatever it is, I'm glad I touched you.

:hugs:
boudecia7boudecia7 on January 12th, 2008 02:14 am (UTC)
Oh god, this was so beautiful and moving. I almost didn't want to read because it's #29 and I just wanted to drag it out. In the end I couldn't of course, and then I was so swept up that I forgot to be sad about the impending series end and instead was just feeling your lovely words and imagery. This was so very sweet; thank you!
Tiptoe39: creativetiptoe39 on January 12th, 2008 02:37 am (UTC)
Thank you! Yes, I almost didn't want to post it, either :) or write it :) but... oh my god, 29/30! :runs around crazily:

I'm so glad you enjoyed.
merlin7: cinzia81clarkangel on January 12th, 2008 02:56 am (UTC)
This is beautiful. Truly beautiful and sweet and sad and serene and perfect.
Tiptoe39: cmere youtiptoe39 on January 12th, 2008 03:02 am (UTC)
Thank you so much. :hugs:
Easy To Amuse, Hard To Pleasestarlingthefool on January 12th, 2008 03:22 am (UTC)
*weeps and weeps*
This was lovely. The repetetive imagery of the ocean and mountains was striking and effective. And poor Mohinder! You managed to portray his emotional state very elegantly.
*mem*
Tiptoe39: mo and mollytiptoe39 on January 12th, 2008 03:43 am (UTC)
Aww, thank you!! Yes, poor Mohinder, he needs a place to come home to so very badly.... :huggles him:
himhilien: Heroes - Matthimhilien on January 12th, 2008 03:29 am (UTC)
This was so good and beautiful. The repetitive imagery of mountains and oceans were wonderful.

Oh no, only one more left! ;___;
Tiptoe39: creativetiptoe39 on January 12th, 2008 03:43 am (UTC)
I know! Whatever will I doooooo!!

:looks at mountains of unfinished plotbunnies:

Oh, yeah....
Artsy: Labyrinthhiddenfantasy on January 12th, 2008 04:17 am (UTC)
That was beautiful. I love the tone and imagery of the piece.

I'm so sad that there's only one left. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! -cries-
Tiptoe39: sadtiptoe39 on January 12th, 2008 01:43 pm (UTC)
I know, me too, whatever will I do?
carma_baby: lovecarma_baby on January 12th, 2008 04:33 am (UTC)
Oh! Oh, oh, oh!!! Oh!

Lovely, beautiful, exquisite, and so much more. Things like this are why I love you. You somehow manage to make the most obscure of prompts into this amazing study of human nature and relationships and how we interact with one another.

And the last little bit where Molly is looking at how mountains and the ocean are connected and separate but in Hawaii they manage to come together... Amazing.

When I grow up, can I write like you, please?
Tiptoe39: idealistictiptoe39 on January 12th, 2008 04:46 am (UTC)
All right, I need to distract myself from this bullshit elljay drama that I have created out of nothing.

I went to Maui once. I woke up the morning after we arrived and saw Lanai from my hotel room window and it was literally a mountain rising up out of the ocean. With mist coming off it and morning sunlight. And OMG. It's so amazing.
The Soul says: - carma_baby on January 13th, 2008 02:34 am (UTC) (Expand)
The Soul says: - tiptoe39 on January 13th, 2008 02:55 am (UTC) (Expand)
JLB: browncoatbaehj2915 on January 12th, 2008 06:22 am (UTC)
that was pretty epic, tiptoe... you did some actual philosophy in there a bit, i think. :D

seriously though, you do an incredible job in all of these of making psychological explorations between Matt and Mohinder. And I know I tend to favor the funny, but this one was wonderful. I have been wooed by the pretty words and the spectacular imagery.

however...

there was one part i kind of resent:

"Too hot is feverish," says Matt matter-of-factly, "but too cold is dead."

Ahem! That is a slap worthy offense, Matthew. Life long Wisconsinite here sees it a little differently. Too hot is baked and dry and uncomfortably sweaty and dehydrated. Too cold means you put on more clothes. Too cold is crisp and invigorating, thank you very much. ;D

I can assure you I have more to say on the matter, but for polity's sake, I won't.

But aside from that massive blunder... it was fab! :D

JLB
Tiptoe39: shivertiptoe39 on January 12th, 2008 01:44 pm (UTC)
Uh-oh.

Hey, I'm a New England girl. You don't have to tell me from cold. It's Matt that's deluded.

:----D

The Soul says: - carma_baby on January 13th, 2008 02:36 am (UTC) (Expand)
(Deleted comment)
Tiptoe39: caketiptoe39 on January 12th, 2008 01:44 pm (UTC)
thank you so much!
Renée: Mohinder Suresh.rogueslayer452 on January 12th, 2008 11:25 am (UTC)
Another beautifully written piece, complete with imagery of the comparisons of mountains and oceans and heat and cold, and Matt listening and letting that guide the way through his life.

What really touched me though was Mohinder externalizing his feelings. It pains me to see him in pain, on the show or otherwise, and you do a nice job with his explanations about where his life stands and his emotions due to everything changing.

This had my heart ache, though:

Sometimes I think it would be easier that way. Just play along, Mohinder. Be the good puppet. You'll never feel pain if you're already dead. But here you are, telling me to live, and I don't even know what that means.

I do think Mohinder is a strong person, but he hides behind scientific theory and logic that sometimes he needs to let go, and I liked that you had him open up to Matt like that. And hell, even though Matt didn't understand half of what he was saying he understood and comforted him when he needed to. And although the kiss had more of a poetic feel to it, it was still nice.
Tiptoe39: pridetiptoe39 on January 12th, 2008 01:45 pm (UTC)
Thanks much. Sorry for the heartache and the (apparently) unwanted poetry.

:hugs:
Carmexgirlcarmexgirl on January 12th, 2008 01:50 pm (UTC)
This was just beautiful. The stand out line: "And up from his soul, he smiles." That one will stay with me for a long time.
Tiptoe39: matt listentiptoe39 on January 12th, 2008 01:51 pm (UTC)
Thanks much. :wants to see matt smile from his soul on the show:
osmalic: minoruosmalic on January 12th, 2008 03:03 pm (UTC)
Hi. I've been seekritly following your 30 themes and love them, but this one is different, more powerful, in my opinion. I love the way of writing, I love the undercurrent philosophy and the way Matt thinks here. I love their discussion, which feels domestic, how they can talk about everything and anything, so it feels like it's the best way to start. Thank you for sharing, I loved reading it.
Tiptoe39: cmere youtiptoe39 on January 12th, 2008 08:02 pm (UTC)
W00t! I brought you out of lurkerdom! :huggles you: Thank you so much. I am really happy you thought so. I wanted this one and the next one to be special... so one down one to go! :yays: