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29 February 2008 @ 09:49 pm
[fanfic] A Simple Twist of Fate (2/?), R  
Title: A Simple Twist of Fate
Chapter: 2 of ??
Author: tiptoe39
Rating: NC-17 as a whole; this chapter R for strong sexual content
Summary: What if Matt, not Janice, had picked up the phone when Mohinder called in Season 1?
Previous parts: One
Author's note: Thanks to kleenexcow for helping me with the Tamil alphabet. And ilsaluvsrick helped me pick out some good music for this one. Hope you enjoy. Also, stay tuned, as ilsa and I may have an announcement to make shortly.

He's still numb when we meet this morning. Last night he began the conversation in a good humor, but the moment I asked the reason for his turnaround, he clammed up. He wouldn't discuss it. So I'm here at the restaurant in some suburban Holiday Inn, forcing dry rice cereal down my throat and determined to talk him out of it.

"I can't let you do this," I say as he approaches and sits. He grimaces. "I've only just met you, and I already know this is the wrong move. First of all, I never invited you to drive up with me. I simply asked you to come to New York on your own time."

"I didn't hear you say that last night," he says, a tad too loud. A few people turn their heads. I'm glad he can't see me blush. One of the benefits of my complexion.

"More to the point." I soldier on, crushing a few rice puffs with my spoon for emphasis. "Whatever is going on at home, you can't run from it. That's only going to make things worse."

"Things don't get worse," he says stonily.

This hits a nerve. "You can afford to stay at a hotel when things are bad," I say pointedly. "I come from a country where a full quarter of the people live on less than one American dollar a day. Things can get a lot worse."

His eyes darken for a second, and he seems stirred. But it's not enough to overcome whatever inner wall he's erected. "That's not what I'm talking about," he says. "Listen, Doc. You want to know more about me and what I can do? This is the deal. We go for a ride. You let me help you with the driving. I tell you anything you want to know. You can prod me and poke me with needles and anything you want. With two catches."

"Two?" I hadn't expected that.

"One, you let me come along. And two, you end up being in Bennet's pocket and all bets are off."

Now I'm lost. "Who?"

"Bennet. The paper salesman. The guy with the horn-rimmed glasses. Who broke into your place."

I hadn't put two and two together until just now. The gears slide into place in my mind with a deafening click, and I'm gaping. "His name is Bennet. I don't think I knew that," I hear myself say. "Wait. How do you know..."

"I know a lot," he says smartly. "But you have to take the deal first, Doc."

Well. Here we have a classic ethical dilemma, don't we? On the one hand, I have my very first willing participant in my research, a man with an extraordinary ability who's offering to go with me to New York and submit to any number of tests and questions. And what's more, he has information about the man who's been hounding me. But he has a wife. and perhaps a family. And by all rights he ought to take care of himself and his own life first and foremost. Besides, what if Sylar comes for him when he's gone and his family...

He stands up so violently that his chair goes clattering backwards. "How do you know about Sylar?" he demands.

I shoot up, too. "How do you know about him?"

"I've been working with the FBI. Trying to track him. This Bennet guy, his daughter was attacked by him. And he killed a couple here in L.A., too."

"And my father. He killed my father." The words are out before I can stop them.

We both sit. Stunned. I keep peering into his eyes as though I'll be able to see answers if I look just a little harder.

"Oh, my God," he says, finally. He gives a little frustrated laugh. "This has just gotten a whole lot more complicated."

I nod mutely.

And he grins wryly. "Looks like you could use my help even more than I thought, Doc."

He's right. Matt Parkman has, just like that, become the man I cannot afford to let go. He may very well be the key to unraveling this whole mystery.

I extend my hand. "If we're going to be sharing a car," I say, "I hope you'll call me Mohinder."

I call Janice at home noonish, when I know she'll be at work. I'm not ready yet to talk to her live. I'm not entirely sure I'm even ready to leave a message for her, but too late now, because the beep just did its beeping thing and now my mouth is moving.

"Uh, Jan. It's me. I'm, uh, gonna go away for a little while. I don't... I don't know what you were trying to tell me last night. Maybe I don't want to know. But I-- I know that we can't go on like this. I think..."

My voice breaks. But that's not all that's broken and that's what I say next.

"I think... I think something's broken, Jan. I think we've tried really hard, and we pretended as hard as we could, but pretending isn't going to make it right, you know? This-- this isn't who I am. I'm not the kind of guy who can just decide what I'm gonna pay attention to and ignore the rest. I-- I need to figure me out first." I sniffle, wipe away my tears on the back of my hand. "I know it's selfish, and I know it's immature and not what you want. But it's time. It's time for me. And when I think about it--"

"When I think about it, you know it's time, too. That's why you told me that, isn't it?" Saying it is like a revelation. "That's why you left the question there for me to answer. You were giving me a chance to get out. I had to take it. It was the right thing for me to do. Thanks... thanks for giving it to me, even if it hurt you.

"I loved you, Janice. I really did. Maybe... maybe I still do. And maybe you still love me. But for now... for now, it's time.

"Goodbye, Janice."

I wish the sound of the phone coming down didn't sound so much like a gunshot ramming through my skull.

Why on earth that particular film had to be on television last night I'm not entirely sure. Perhaps some vengeful god has it in for me, because now I'm petrified. This is all I need, visions of the Carmate from Hell. The movie was a comedy, that much I'll give it. I don't seriously think we'll end up bit by rattlesnakes or with cockroaches swarming the car or falling into the rapids, or beset by any of the other misadventures to befall the poor protagonists of that particular movie. But really, how do I know this is going to work out? How do I know we won't be biting each other's heads off within an hour?

When he comes outside, he's wearing a shirt that has flamingos and palm trees on it. Sunglasses are perched on his forehead. His suitcase is bulky, awkwardly packed. For a moment I feel the earth shudder as though it is about to swallow me whole. Fate cannot possibly be that cruel, can it?

Then he walks over and silently puts $20 in my hand. "For the first fill-up," he says. "Don't argue."

And my heart flies out of my ribs into the ether.

Oh, dear. Oh, no.

He puts his case into the trunk, straining to lift it. "I overpack. Bad habit, I know," he says as he sets it down with a heavy thunk, making the car bounce. He slams the lid down and turns to me, resting his forearms on the back of the car. "I really, really appreciate this," he says soberly. "It's something I really need. And if there's any chance you can give me any answers--"

"I don't know that I can," I admit. "But I'll try."

"That's all I can ask for, I guess," he says.

When he smiles, I make a split-second strategic decision that I will be reciting the alphabet in Tamil every time my thoughts threaten to get away from me. Because I'm going to need something to keep my privacy intact. If I keep the verbal thoughts simple, I should be able to think underneath the hum. We'll see how well that works.

He piles into the passenger seat. There's something about his movements that's so fascinating, it's as though he's choreographed. I don't know what it is. I get in beside him and pull out of the hotel driveway, and we're on the road.

"What do you like to listen to in the car?" he asks as we turn onto the main drag heading toward the highway. I have a GPS, but it's simply silently showing me the way. I can't stand the voice function.

"Music, you mean? To tell you the truth, I don't drive much. What do you suggest?"

He shrugs. "Classic rock's good driving music. Or if you're a political type, we've got good talk radio around here."

I can't help it-- I roll my eyes. "Please, God, no."

"Oh, no, it's not bad," he insists. "I'm a pinko commie liberal like everyone else around here, so I like the Air America station. There's a funny chick on in the early morning. Guy who does voices, lots of fart jokes. Goofy stuff."

"I repeat myself: please, God, no." I merge onto the highway. He fumbles with the radio and finds a station. The song playing lights him up like a Roman candle.

Some folks are born made to wave the flag,
Ooh, they're red, white and blue.
And when the band plays "Hail to the chief",
they point the cannon right at you.
It ain't me, it ain't me.
I ain't no senator's son.
It ain't me, it ain't me.
I ain't no fortunate one.

He drums his fingers on his thigh and mouths the lyrics, bobbing his head. My stomach is in knots for some reason I can't name. When he sees me looking and grins, I practically swallow my tongue. Why are my nerves on edge?

"So, why are you?" I ask.

"Why am I what?" He tilts his head.

"A liberal."

He shrugs. "I guess because I think we ought to take care of each other. I don't see any reason government shouldn't be the way we do that. Plus, all of the dick-waving gun-rights gay-bashing bullshit on the other side annoys me."

I laugh. "Are they that bad?"

"You have no idea. My theory is they're all a bunch of closet cases. Can't stand the fact that they find themselves fantasizing about other men, so they thump their chests and bitch and moan about how wrong it is. Am I offending you?"

"Not in the slightest. It's a very entertaining theory." And it is. I'm fairly apolitical, so for me it's just entertainment. Besides, he's got an amusing way with words. Quirky. Casual. Rather engaging. Ka, kā, ki, kī, ku.

"What is that?" he asks.


"That chant. You've been singing it all day."

Oh. Oh, no. "It's... it's my first language."

His eyebrows go up. "English isn't your first language? But you sound so fluent. I mean, you don't even sound Indian. At all."

"So I've been told." We turn onto the interstate. "I was educated in England. When I'm home I pick up some Indian speech habits, but most of the time, I'm told, I sound awfully British."

"It's nice." Ke, kē, kai, ko, kō, kau. I'm sure judicious application of the alphabet will keep my heart still. "I mean, it could be worse. You could sound like me, right?"

"That would be worse."

"That wasn't what you were supposed to say." He's pouting. He's actually pouting. But then we both smile.

Sunlight is pouring into the car. I feel somewhat drowned in it. There are mountains in the distance ahead of us. We're driving toward them, drawn on by something bigger than us, something in the flat freeway and swell of the hills, like the earth moving. I feel as though I am accomplishing something, mile by mile. Speeding on toward destiny.

I glance at the clock. We've been driving an hour. How is that possible? We just started. "Four hours to Las Vegas," I mention. He looks as surprised as I am.

He bends his elbows behind his head and whistles slightly. "So what's in Vegas, anyway?" he asks. "Besides casinos and naked women, or did I just answer my own question?"

"D.L. Hawkins," I say.

"What's that?"

"It's a name." I squint as the sun shifts, hitting me square in the eye. "From my father's list."

And like a shadow, I can feel his gaze on me. Sun on one side, darkness on the other. "List?"

I relate the whole sordid story. My father's research, his flight to America and subsequent murder, my search for his secrets, the return to India and discovery of the list. And then, for no good reason, I mention my encounter with Peter Petrelli.

"Wait, hold it, stop. Peter Petrelli!?"

I almost drive off the road. "You know him?"

"He was in Texas. When Bennet's kid got attacked. By Sylar. Oh, my God." He puts his head in his hands, laughing. "Mohinder, you ever get the feeling someone's lived the exact same life as you, but in a different place? I mean, Jesus! How many other mutual friends have we got? It's like parallel universes or something."

My mind is spinning around the fact that he's just said my given name for the first time and I kind of like the way that sounds. (N.a, n.ā, n.i, n.ī, n.u, n.ū.) "Not parallel," I say. "Parallel lines don't ever intersect."

He screws up his face. "Math nerd."

I laugh. "I've been called worse."

"So have I." He smirks. I fight down the warmth building in my chest. I like this man. I really, really like him. I'm terribly glad I met him. N.e, n.ē, n.ai, n.o, n.ō, n.au.

The song playing now is a little folky, with some nice harmonies. We listen in silence.

Once I rose above the noise and confusion
Just to get a glimpse beyond this illusion
I was soaring ever higher
But I flew too high

Though my eyes could see I still was a blind man
Though my mind could think I still was a mad man
I hear the voices when I'm dreaming
Carry on, my wayward son...

We're passing through the mountains now. I keep having flashbacks to freshman psychology. Either that or puberty, because the landscape is looking awfully Freudian to me. Swells of mountains, road like a straight arrow, penetrating the heart of them. Our little car, struggling on toward its destination, zipping through the narrow passageway. Oh, gross. I think I've just compared myself to sperm.

"So, my wife is pregnant," I say absently.

The tires screech. Mohinder (it's ridiculously easy to get used to calling him that) very nearly rear-ends a Mack truck. When he looks at me, he's sweating. "What!?" he stammers. "You're telling me that you-- that-- I should take the next exit, turn around, and bring you right back! My God!" I laugh, because he sounds just like my mother did back in the day. Quit your whining, Matthew, or so help me, I'm gonna turn this car right around and take you back home!

But then he thinks something that sobers me: If I'd known he was going to be this unreliable...

"Stop it," I say. "That's exactly what Janice thought. Right before she basically came right out and told me the kid wasn't mine. So don't even go any further."

He sits straight up as if jolted. "Oh. I hadn't realized... I'm sorry."

I shrug. "I'm feeling pretty numb about it all. I know I should be crushed, but... it's been so hard to relate to her after this whole thing happened, it's almost a blessing in disguise. Gives us an excuse to figure out where we stand."

He's silent, but I can hear his mind churning with curiosity. Well, we're got eighteen hours still to drive. Might as well tell the life story now. Maybe it'll last us to Vegas.

It very nearly does. The mountains are mostly behind us by the time I wind up. "Here's the thing about me," I say. "Ever since I was little, I've been really good at figuring things out based on what I could see. Jigsaw puzzles, that sort of thing, I was an ace at when I was a kid. It's also how I got through school. I couldn't read for shit, but I could make out maybe half the words, and the rest I got from context. That's why I'm a cop, why I want to be a detective. I'm great with clues and riddles. Just not so much the stuff that's beneath the surface.

"It's the same with people. I'm great with strangers. I can always figure out the Right Thing to Say. I can talk my way out of a lot of things, as long as I've just met the person I'm talking to and they don't know me from Adam. But once I get closer, that all goes to hell. You'd think this would help," I add, tapping my temple. "But it just makes everything worse.

"Case in point is Jan. Meeting her, dating her, getting her to say Yes and I Do-- easy. It was the living with her that was hard. After a while she started to get wise to when I was just saying the Right Thing, and it stopped being right. So now I'm just at a loss. What am I supposed to do or say?"

I realize I've been rambling. I glance over at him. Math nerd quips notwithstanding, there's something about this guy that defies categorization. He doesn't even look human. He doesn't fit among the Freudian landscape. He's not man or woman. He's a piece of art, something antiquated and indescribable, suddenly exposed to the sun and the air after ages gathering dust in some museum basement. I kind of want to show him the whole world. Weird.

"What about being yourself?" he says simply. "I mean, mightn't that be a more reliable indicator of how you'd get along with someone in the long run? If you're looking for someone to spend your life with, that is."

"First off, I don't take romantic advice from people who use words like 'reliable indicator.'" I scowl, and he laughs. (His laugh sounds like something out of a movie. It almost sounds fake. I didn't know real people laughed like that.) "Second of all, you say to be myself. My problem is, I don't know who that person is." My voice suddenly seems very small.

He adjusts his hands on the wheel. "That's funny that you should say that," he says quietly. "I get a very strong sense of identity from you."

"How's that?"

"I don't know." He shrugs. "I feel like I know you very well, and we've only been talking a few days. And you strike me as the type who knows exactly who he is."

I scratch my head and watch a hawk soar in the pale blueness stretching above us. "You might be right," I say. "I might just not like that guy very much."

"That's a shame," he says. "I like him a great deal."

I tilt my head back down to stare at him.

He's still. Chanting that foreign whatever again. I wonder if he's thinking about me in a foreign language.

I wonder if Jan's thinking of me right now. I wonder what the hell I'm thinking of right now. I feel a little like that bird. Just sort of hovering. Waiting for a meal or a place to rest to appear, carried by the wind. In a holding pattern.

Las Vegas is a tangle of smaller communities gathered as if in prayer around a cluster of skyscrapers that don't seem to ever touch ground. Where we stop the car and get out doesn't look anything like the neon images from movies. It's suburban, vanilla, sort of dry. The only bit of flavor is the red convertible, complete with fins, perched across the street like a lounging showgirl.

"So what's the plan?" Matt says, leaning over my shoulder as though the notepad in my hand contains something more significant than an address and a name. I can feel his breath on the side of my neck. I really wish he wouldn't do that. I feel like each of the hairs on my neck are standing on end.

"I don't know that there's a plan, necessarily." I swear, I haven't felt so conscious of someone's proximity in a long time. I want to concentrate on this Mr. Hawkins. I shift away. "Since he hasn't answered the phone, I suppose that means we're just going to have to knock." I shake out my legs. It's our first time standing up straight in five hours, and I think I've gone a bit to jelly in the calves. There's no motion from the small house across the street.

"That is one butt-ugly car, though," says Matt suddenly. I snort a little at his bluntness. "No, seriously. What kind of guy has a car with fins? That's a girl's car."

"That's because it's mine," says a voice, smooth as velvet, behind us. We turn around and find ourselves staring down the barrel of a shotgun.

"Move away from the car," says the blonde at the trigger end, motioning with the weapon. I throw up my hands, dropping the notepad onto the street. Matt moves a little slower than I do, but he follows suit. Thank God. My imagination had been going wild with images of him getting into a shootout with this woman. That's just what I need-- to be found with a bullet-riddled body in the middle of nowhere.

"Lady, we're not interested in you," he says, his eyes catching hers and holding. His fingers are spread wide, and his stance is steady. "We're here about a guy named Hawkins."

"That's my husband. But you ought to know that, if you're Linderman's goons." She pauses and lowers the gun slightly. "Come to think of it, you're not the usual sort he sends around. What do you want?" She puts the butt of the gun on the ground, her wrist bent around the other end, and leans on it as though it's a walking stick. Her hip is cocked, and her lips are downturned. She's a very pretty woman. Absolutely terrifying, but pretty.

"My name is Doctor Mohinder Suresh," I say. "I'd, um, hand you my card, but I'm afraid you might think I was going for a gun."

"You're not the one I'm worried about," she says, her eyes fixed on my companion. She's eying him like a side of beef. I'm somehow enraged.

"Could you tell me, Mrs. Hawkins..."

"Sanders." Her eyes dart to me, and I feel like I've been knocked backward six feet. "Niki Sanders."

"My apologies. Ms. Sanders." I glance at Matt. He's still got his hands in the air, but he's scowling. I don't feel terribly safe, even with the woman's gun on the ground. "I'm wondering if you might have noticed anything unusual about your husband lately. Any particular traits that you'd consider out of the ordinary?"

She stares at me another moment, and then throws her head back and gives a long, throaty laugh. I flinch when she twirls the shotgun upward, but she simply slings it over her shoulder like a fishing pole. "You're wondering if there's anything unusual? About D.L.!? God, that's about the funniest thing I've heard all week. C'mon inside."

It's after she's stowed the shotgun in the trunk of her car and led us inside, as we're going though the narrow hallway, that I hear her say, "This isn't a good idea. You shouldn't do this."

"What's not a good idea?" I ask. She cocks her head, looks back at me briefly, but doesn't say a word. Still, the moment she turns back to lead us into her kitchen, she starts talking again. "You don't know who these people are. What if they are from Linderman? What if they're here as some sort of trick?" The voice is higher, more anxious-sounding than the tone she'd been using before.

Then, she speaks in a louder voice. "Shut up, Niki. You think I haven't thought of that?"

Is she talking to herself? Is she nuts?

"Is there.... uh..." I tap her on the shoulder. She whirls, and the look she gives me could wither houseplants at fifty feet. "Is there someone else here?"

For a moment, she looks frightened. Then, she smiles sunnily. "Just D.L. Did you hear him skulking around?" She shouts. "Honey! We've got company!"

A lean, lanky black man with angular features appears in an open doorway. He's so tall that he has to duck to get into the doorframe. "Who are you?" he asks unceremoniously.

Mohinder goes up and introduces himself with his usual smooth professionalism. How he's not intimidated I don't know. These two are, together, the scariest-looking couple I've ever seen. In D.L.'s significant presence, though, Niki seems to melt. Her gun-toting babe schtick is a thing of the past. Now she's sweet as bubblegum, clinging to his arm and gushing about him and their genius kid. I feel a little sick to my stomach. It wasn't 48 hours ago that I'd seen this sort of future for myself. And Janice, and our kid. Our kid. Hah. Now it's all been shattered. And here comes this perfect (if somewhat bad-ass) little family, stuck right under my nose as if to taunt me. I pout.

Then, as she's telling some other story about her son, I see very clearly what I couldn't see before. It's her voice, superimposed over itself, in her head. Why are you telling him so much about Micah? If you're going to talk so much, why don't you tell him about yourself? And me? Why don't you tell him about what you've done to me!

In her head. There's someone in her head. Someone else in her head.

No wonder she laughed earlier. She's the most unusual thing about this family by far.

D.L. and Mohinder are busy discussing something. Sylar, science, something. It gives her a free moment, and she becomes suspicious. "What are you looking at?" she hisses.

I answer her question with a question. "Who's Jessica?"

I hear an inner gasp. Her eyes widen.

You can hear me? Hey! Can you hear me?

Then she smiles cattily. "You are from Linderman, aren't you? Don't worry, I'm in control here. Niki bitches a lot, but she can't get out."

Hey! You! Stop her! She's...

I just nod.

A little later on, I ask to use the facilities before we hit the road again. Mohinder has apparently been unable to move this D.L. guy into participating in his research. He's perfectly content just being at home with his weird wife and his genius kid and his "molecular manipulation" (I don't know quite what that means, but it excited Mohinder a lot). Again, I'm feeling pretty sick. Good for him, really. Everyone else gets an accepting, loving family. I get a wife who cheats on me with my partner and then somehow makes everything my fault, including the fact that I completely unintentionally call her on her bullshit.

So Niki, or Jessica, or whoever, shows me where the bathroom is, and as I'm about to enter, she gasps, "Wait."

I turn back and it's a completely different person standing there. Her eyes are wide and wild, and she's pale. "I only have a minute," she says. "There's a picture in the second drawer of the bedside table. Put it on his pillow. He has to know it's not me."

I glance into the adjoining bedroom. "You... you're Niki, aren't you?"

"I'm..." Her face contorts, and she points toward the bathroom. "Are you blind? It's right there." Just like that, Jessica's back. And she seems not to have any idea what just happened. "Hurry up. Your friend's anxious to leave." She turns and marches back toward the kitchen. I get the distinct feeling it's not Mohinder who's itching to get us out of there.

Quick as I can move, I follow Niki's instructions. The photo is of some politician, a familiar-looking guy, surrounded by balloons. A boyfriend, perhaps? It doesn't matter, really. I'm as anxious to leave as she is to kick us out. I've had enough family time to last me a while.

The sun is going down as we leave Vegas, and we drive only another two hours, over the border of New Mexico and northeast into Utah. We find a town called Saint George, with a huge Mormon temple in the center, and Matt decides that we need to go get drunk. My lip curls at the thought of it, but he's in pain and I don't mind being a designated driver.

He's been silent most of the drive, watching the sun set behind the mountains. It's given me some time to reflect on our meeting this afternoon. The man D.L. showed me some of what he could do. I could hardly believe my eyes. It's one thing to see a boy you've dreamed about or to have your mind read, but it's quite another to actually see, with one's own eyes, human flesh going through glass and wood like it wasn't even there. My mind is humming with the impossible physics of it.

And yet more than that, his decision not to pursue any answers as to why he is the way he is perplexes me. He and his family seem perfectly content to simply accept him, and that's enough. I suppose that not everyone with these abilities is a lost soul, after all. It's possible to just live and let live. No, it's only Matt who is lost. He's searching for something, a place to belong, perhaps. No wonder he wanted to come on this journey. There's a proud American tradition of finding yourself on the open road, or so I've been led to believe. (I read Kerouac in university.)

Even though it was his idea, Matt laughs hysterically at the whole notion of there even being bars in Saint George. He swears he thought everyone in the state of Utah was a teetotaler with three wives. I don't know much about Utah or Mormonism, but that strikes me as painting with an awfully broad brush. "Jesus, live a little!" he says when I criticize his generalization. He slaps me on the back, and it takes me a few moments to get wind back in my lungs. He's rather strong. I'm a little afraid of what he might do when he does get drunk.

But the first part of the evening he's fine. He munches, downs beers, shouts at the sports channel with a bunch of the other guys. As for me, I sit at the end of the bar and write down my impressions for the day, keeping a half an eye on him. The bartender raises an eyebrow at me but is silent, continually feeding me club sodas. She's sort of smiling at me a little. Eventually I feel compelled to smile back. She takes this as an encouraging sign and starts sidling toward me.

It's at that moment that Matt suddenly remembers I'm in the room, and he comes over scowling and drapes an arm over my shoulders. "Hey, dun make me jealous," he slurs. "You're goin' home with me tonight, remmmber?" He loses a syllable of the last word entirely.

I pull at his arm and grunt, "Get off me." I'm suddenly drowning in him. His breath is foul with beer. He hasn't shaved in far too long. I don't think he's used deodorant, either. Secondhand smoke has sunk into his clothes. His eyes are glittering as he tilts his head to look at me and grin stupidly. He's like a big lead blanket. Heavy and hot and a huge bother.

And I'm loving every moment of the contact. I don't want him to let go. I breathe in the breath and the odor and the beer and tobacco like it's oxygen. Like I need it to keep living.

I want him.


This wasn't supposed to happen. He's a pet project, a guinea pig for my research. A friend at best, barely even an acquaintance, really. He's also a man, which makes things infinitely more complicated. My brain's reeling (Ca, cā, ci, cī, cu, cū!) but my heart is throbbing. Not to mention other parts of my anatomy. Damn, damn, damn.

I should have seen this danger coming from the start. From the moment I heard his voice like a coil wrapped around me and thought I might melt into my chair. He's a married man, for God's sake. A married man who's disillusioned and confused and looking for meaning. A married man who has somehow slid right into my life like the interlaced fingers of lovers holding hands, who has made me feel warm and energized and oh, God, this is not helping me beat down the very unhelpful imagined sensations that are popping into my head. His hands touching me. His weight on me. That honey-and-sand voice, whispering things that are dirty and beautiful all at once. Damn.

I can't afford to act on this attraction. I'm afraid of what might happen. Part of me is afraid of rejection, true, but part is afraid of success. I don't want to use him when he's vulnerable. I don't want to face his regret. And he deserves better than a fling with a near-stranger while he's grieving over a dead marriage.

Besides, I don't think a fling would satisfy me. He's so very real. Solid and masculine. Full of all the problems and anxieties of modern humanity. Not just real-- he's human. The things that make me want him aren't just things like his arms, straining to lift his bulging suitcase as he lifts it into the trunk, or the faraway look in his eyes as he gazes at the endless mountains. I want him also for his breezy explanation of his political philosophy, for his fumbling troubles with identity and relationships, for his insight, for his outlook. I keep hearing the word forever whispering around in my head, and I wonder if the bartender has spiked the club soda I've been sipping, because looking at him is making me dizzy.

Damn. And damn again.

Now the bartender's smiling at me again, and I'm afraid she thinks my heavy breathing is for her. Or, worse, she knows I've just sort of had a bit of an epiphany. But when she comes over, all she says is, "I think your friend's had enough." And she's right. Matt is looking rather trashed. Rather like he's about to fall over onto the floor if I am not there right now. So I get there. Somehow. And I sling that leadlike arm around my shoulder again.

And I still love it.

The bartender points out a motel across the way, and waves cheerily as we exit the bar. Matt's weeping and laughing all at once, his words a mess of jumbled emotions in my ear. "Not even my kid for chrissake... that bitch... my fault she cheat... stupid mind... stoppit with zaalphabet or 'tever... shoulda married you... smart guy... cute.. wanna make out?..."

I scream the Tamil alphabet at the top of my mental lungs to avoid saying yes, yes, yes.

We enter the motel. The lobby is drab and Matt's looking like he's about to throw up, so I throw down money for a room and we grab keys and head upstairs.

It's then that I realize just what kind of a motel that bartender has sent us to. What the hell was she thinking, anyway?

I sit down on the couch, which is shaped like a rather ghastly pair of lips, and put my head in my hands as Matt grins hugely and starts wandering around the room like a three-year-old. "Dude!" he exclaims, peeking into the bathroom. "Everything's pink! Hey, M'inder--" he's lost a syllable of my name, too, I see-- "they's got condoms in the cab'net! and ... what's this stuff... eww. It's all... woo, it tingles!"

"Matt, go to sleep, you're dead drunk," I shout, not daring to look up.

He bounces on the bed. Satin red coverlet and heart-shaped pillows. It's absolutely disgusting. At least there isn't a mirror on the ceiling, although there is one just behind the fuzzy excuse for a headboard. Next to the handcuffs. Oh, dear.

"M'inder, c'mon over. Les' make out," he wheezes. I stay stock still. "D'n be so shy. Ya think I dun like guys? C'mon. I'm from C'fornia! 'Sall groovy!"

Well. That's a revelation I could have done without at this point in the evening. Or my life. Or the history of the world. I throw a pillow at him. "Go to sleep, Matt," I shout, and stretch out on the Lips Couch, trying not to imagine the monstrous plush mouth opening in the middle of the night and swallowing me whole.

He eventually complies, and I rise long enough to turn off the lights. Before I return to bed, I stare at him a moment in the darkness. His lips are slightly pursed, and he's drooling. All I want to do is crawl into bed beside him and have him hold me the way he's holding that poor defenseless saliva-coated pillow. How on earth did this start, and when did it get so strong? I've known the man three days. I feel as though I've known him my whole life. I'm scared to death.

For now, I do what any man in my position would do. I return to my makeshift bed and proceed to not sleep.

Big red bed. Big fat Matt on the big red bed. Jesus, I can rhyme!

Must remember to never get drunk again. Damn voices in head all evening long. Can't keep 'em out. Stupid fuckers cheating on their girlfriends in that stupid bar. I don't wanna hear what noises she made you fucks, get out of my head. Bartender looking at Mohinder like that. Fuck. Leave him alone. Fuckin' ass. Sends us to this bullshit motel with KY and shit in the cabinets.

And now finally quiet, alone, and dark. Parkman, in the dark, man. I'm a fucking poet. A poet who gets insomniac when he gets drunk. Damn it. I'm even a weird drunk. I should see a doctor 'bout that.

The Doctor is in, after all.

Heh. He's awake, too. He's awake and thinking about me. None of that bullshit foreign alphabet if you think I'm sleeping. Pah.

The hell's he keep thinking my name for?

Wait a sec.

The hell?

Oh, God.... oh, Matt...

No. Fucking. Way.

Block it out, block it out, oh Jesus, I can't, I'm too shit-faced to even see straight much less block out the sound of him... what IS he doing? Fantasizing?

yes, yes, there... fuck, that's good... wish your arms were...

He's jerking off!

Oh my God. Gotta not laugh. He's jerking off and thinking of me!

"Pff..." Shit. He stopped. Make it sound like a snore. He's thinking of me... and he's... oh God. Jesus. What the hell kinda weird world is this that I live in? I disgust my own wife after eleven years, but meet a guy the same week and he's already lying there thinking...

God, I wish... your hand... that big mouth of yours on my... yes, fuck, yes...

I'm kinda turned on now. He's such a pretty boy. But he said no when I asked him to make out with me.

Yeah, maybe that's kinda cause I was drunk.

Am. Am drunk.

And married. And for all he knows straight. And holy shit, this man thinks like a phone sex operator.

Damn it... oh, God... oh... Matt... want you so badly... God, if only... I want you... oh. OH. GOD! Fuck!

Shit, this is like listening to porn. I think he just...

Ahaha. Now he's getting up and going to the bathroom. Yup, he just did.

I'm a sexy beast. What can I say?

And Mohinder is beautiful...

Beautiful, sweet guy...

Never met a guy like him...

Imagine this pillow's him. All warm and sweet...

I can fall asleep like this.

Beautiful man.

:to be continued:
Artsy: Heroes: GregAliSendhilhiddenfantasy on March 1st, 2008 04:23 am (UTC)
Poor Matt. It must be hard living in a situation like that, wondering if it really is your child and knowing that your marriage is essentially over, despite the work you put into it.

I love the conversation they have about Matt not knowing who he really is. It's always hard trying to be yourself when you're not sure you really are who you think you are.

And, guh. Naughty Mohinder thinking about Matt. Yum. <3

I'm excited to read what happens next!
Tiptoe39: thankyoutiptoe39 on March 2nd, 2008 02:07 am (UTC)
What a lovely, apropo icon! Ah, there's too much pretty there...

thanks for the feedback!
boudecia7boudecia7 on March 1st, 2008 04:33 am (UTC)
Wow, this is just so fantastic...I love the rapport of Matt and Mohinder in the car, and poor Mohinder having to recite the alphabet; it would be physically painful to have to always hide your thoughts that way, I think. And then the intrigue with Niki/Jessica and DL...you've really put this all together so well. And then the HOTness at the end...damn. You do write the lust so well, dear!

You also write such nice little moments of reflection, like this one:

I wonder if Jan's thinking of me right now. I wonder what the hell I'm thinking of right now. I feel a little like that bird. Just sort of hovering. Waiting for a meal or a place to rest to appear, carried by the wind. In a holding pattern.

Love it! :)

Tiptoe39: creativetiptoe39 on March 2nd, 2008 02:08 am (UTC)
So glad my philosophososphoshoshoziing is not completely stupid :D
crystal_mkcrystal_mk on March 1st, 2008 04:33 am (UTC)
Why is everyone else's series working so well?!?!?!?

Wow that was great. Did I mention how glad I am that you took this idea up. You're really doing justice to the possibility of it. This is so what should have happened on the show!

The whole Mohinder jerking off and thinking of Matt was sooo extremely hot. Matt's drunken behavior and thoughts, too funny. He gets skanky when he drinks. LOL.

How much do I love how you wrote Niki and DL in to this. Are you going to explain to us what happens with that in the future?

Tiptoe39tiptoe39 on March 2nd, 2008 02:08 am (UTC)
Your series is working very well! :hugs you: hang in there, beat those muses into submission if you feel it necessary.

Yes, skanky drunk Matt ftw. :D
JLB: 1776-lolbaehj2915 on March 1st, 2008 07:16 am (UTC)
oh boy... yeah, that was lollerskates.

i'm pretty much in love with Parkman, in the dark, man. I laughed the hardest at that. and zaalphabet.

i'm excited for the next part. :D

Tiptoe39: cmere youtiptoe39 on March 2nd, 2008 02:09 am (UTC)
Eee hee. I live to make you chuckle. :D
Samanthor: Good timeskleenexcow on March 1st, 2008 10:01 am (UTC)
This fic is so fantastic. I'm totally in love with the sweep and scope of it.

Matt listening to Mohinder jerk off is probably one of the most hilarious things I've ever read. Not just the idea of it, but the way you wrote it. I was completely cracking up over here.

And holy shit, this man thinks like a phone sex operator.
And that's just plain hot.

Yay! I'm helpful!

(Ever since you gave me the whiteboard link, I've become a total stalker)
Tiptoe39: cmere youtiptoe39 on March 2nd, 2008 02:09 am (UTC)
Wahahah. yes, you are very helpful! your stalking is always welcomed! (does that mean it's not stalking? hmmmm.)
Carmexgirlcarmexgirl on March 1st, 2008 01:56 pm (UTC)
Oh holy wow! I don't think jacking off is used enough in fic. You just blew my mind!

"M'inder, c'mon over. Les' make out," he wheezes. I stay stock still. "D'n be so shy. Ya think I dun like guys? C'mon. I'm from C'fornia! 'Sall groovy!"

I was laughing so hard at this. I love the way you’re tying it all up with all the other characters – it’s just wonderful.
Tiptoe39: matt mind meldtiptoe39 on March 2nd, 2008 02:09 am (UTC)
Ahhahaha, everyone loved drunk matt... I'm so very glad.
00smut on March 1st, 2008 04:46 pm (UTC)
I have the zombie plague right now so this isn't going to be coherant, so I am just going to say *love this*. Cant wait for more.
Tiptoe39: thankyoutiptoe39 on March 2nd, 2008 02:10 am (UTC)
Thanks honey :D hope you feel better
zeroin_ht78 on March 1st, 2008 05:35 pm (UTC)
Fantastic depiction of Matt's search for his identity. His inner monologues are touching and funny by turns. And drunk Matt? Is. Howlarious! Matt's smug "I'm a sexy beast" was just great :) Niki/Jessica: Awesome. You have a great imagination. Weave on! And hold us in your silken web, my dear, while letting us believe we walked in on our own. Breathlessly awaiting the next installment.
Tiptoe39: matt mind meldtiptoe39 on March 2nd, 2008 02:10 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! yes, apparently drunk matt has a lot of fans. eheheh. drunk mohinder is even more fun, but let us not go there. ^__^
A Troop of Rogue Trained Monkeys from LJ's Searchhanuueshe on March 1st, 2008 08:34 pm (UTC)
//C'mon. I'm from C'fornia.'Sall groovy!\\

*snort* Best coming out line ever! As is Matt's drunken come ons, they just rock.

Oh boys. You just fit so well together. And the scene in Las Vegas was amazing. I can't wait for Virginia!

Tiptoe39: xellostiptoe39 on March 2nd, 2008 02:11 am (UTC)
Ahahahah, so glad you like.

Depending on what you're waiting for in Virginia, it may come sooner than you think. :rubs hands evilly:
Sarah: Super Mattsaharafic on March 2nd, 2008 03:01 am (UTC)
ahahaha! I love this! But omg, so much will be different now!! bum bum BUUUUUUUM

Drunk Matt ftw (and drunk sarah apparently, as it took me 6 tries to type this.) :)
Tiptoe39tiptoe39 on March 2nd, 2008 12:30 pm (UTC)
thank you! i love that icon, he is so sexy...
boymommytotwoboymommytotwo on March 2nd, 2008 04:43 am (UTC)
"Oh, no, it's not bad," he insists. "I'm a pinko commie liberal like everyone else around here, so I like the Air America station. There's a funny chick on in the early morning. Guy who does voices, lots of fart jokes. Goofy stuff."


...because looking at him is making me dizzy. Damn. And damn again.


...have him hold me the way he's holding that poor defenseless saliva-coated pillow. How on earth... I'm scared to death.


And holy shit, this man thinks like a phone sex operator.


Beautiful man.


thank you, i needed all of that.
Tiptoe39: loltiptoe39 on March 2nd, 2008 12:31 pm (UTC)
The funny chick in the morning is for real, fyi ^_@ she totally brings the lulz. I recommend downloading some of her bits if you want a giggle.
arabella_warabella_w on March 2nd, 2008 05:33 am (UTC)
Oh dear! this was fabulous! now I want to join the 'Drunk Matt' fan club hehe

I admire Mohinder, if I were him I wouldn't be strong enough to resist Matt in a satin red sheets

excellent, I can't wait to the next one.
Tiptoe39: force matttiptoe39 on March 2nd, 2008 12:32 pm (UTC)
consider this your membership card ^____^

and i dunno, satin is a little rich for this cheap-ass motel. i suspect they're polyester.
purplewind88: mohinderpurplewind88 on March 2nd, 2008 05:48 am (UTC)
I normally don't post quotes. But I have to do use this one "Oh, gross. I think I've just compared myself to sperm." Which made me literally lol. I mean laugh OUT LOUD. I had a few people in the library looking at me weird.

That end was painfully hot and somewhat sad. Damn Matt for getting drunk and not being in his right mind. Or perhaps for not getting drunk enough to lose all ambition and go with his libido. Maybe Mohinder should have gotten drunk. Stupid bartender and her not spiking his drink. Basically, anything that would have ended with them getting it on should have happened!

Than again this anticipation is rather nice too. Carry on.
Tiptoe39: haroldtiptoe39 on March 2nd, 2008 12:33 pm (UTC)
ahahaha. i'm so glad you enjoyed that line. in every fic i post there's a couple of lines that i really hope will stand out to people. That's one, so thanks for making me feel successful. :)

carryin' on!
thebackwardnilethebackwardnile on March 7th, 2008 04:51 am (UTC)
This story is soo great! So, so great, and funny and sweet and all that.
I actually had too go back in the serie and find the place you where at when they went too meet DL because I was really wondering what situation too exspect, and I just love how Matt was the one who put the picture on the pillow!
Ohh and you brought up the whole thing about Mohinder sounding brithis, except for in the first episodes or so, I actaully didn't notice it until I re-watched season 1 beacuse then in the begining I thought he sounded strange... I just thin his voice sounds much better whit the brithish accent, and Mohinder has such a beautiful voice. Seriously I love his voice,l me and one of my friends keept discussing how great if you could have him reacorder for one of those educational tapes they make you listen to in school, or as a teacher or whatever because then you would actually listen to what he said (if you weren't you know to busy sighning dreamily or something), beacuse he has such a great voice...Anyway I should really stop fangirling over Mohinder's (or well his actors really) voice...
And I totally loved how Mohinder keept repeating the tamuli alphabet whenever he wanted too keep his thoughts from straying to places he did't want Matt knowing about that was soo cute!

Anyway sorry for any potential miss-spellings in this I am trying to finish this comment of as fast as possibel before my mum comes down jelling at me for not being asleep yet, it's almost 6 am now...
votebobvotebob on March 12th, 2008 04:06 am (UTC)
In case you were wondering (which you're prosbably not, but I enjoy sharing the random bits of knowledge I absorb), Mohinder has a English accent because when the British Empire was expanding it the 18th (i think 18th. but don't take the date to the bank) century they had a large settlement in India. Basically they controlled trade all over the world at the time, and so English became the Language of trade and the well educated. Now, the educated people in India speak English their whole life with a pseudo-British accent. Same reason Austalians and South Africans have something of an English accent.