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22 April 2008 @ 12:55 pm
[fic repost] Episodic Tangents: Five Years Gone (PG)  
Series Title: Episodic Tangents
Chapter Title: Five Years Gone (Season 1, Episode 20)
Author: tiptoe39
Rating: PG-13 for non-graphic description and discussion of sexual situations.
Summary: Matt wakes up in the hospital in a strange city with strange people.

Part of "Episodic Tangents," a series of one-shots in which we start with the titles of episodes and go in completely different directions.

When Matt woke up, it was with a jumble of voices close to him. He half-expected the room to be crowded with people, there was so much noise. And it was all so close, like thousands of people were clamoring to whisper in his ear. But the hospital room he found himself in was bare, save a man reading a newspaper and a girl kneeling on the floor, drawing pictures.

They both started as he rustled and groaned, and in an instant they were at his bedside. "Thank God," the man said, relief breaking his tone. "We were so worried. Welcome back." The girl jumped up to hug him.

"I should relegate you to the couch for a week for being so colossally stupid," the man said. "Honestly. I had no idea the headaches were getting so bad. Do you usually take that many aspirin?"

"Is.. is that what happened?" Matt said, bleary. "Did I take too many aspirin?"

"If only!" The man threw up his arms in despair. "Those were Haitian pills you took. You're lucky to be alive."

"Haitian pills?" Matt mused. "What are those, like Mexican jumping beans?"

The man and girl shared a worried look.

"How come you're sitting in my room?" Matt asked. "Shouldn't you be wearing scrubs and doing surgery or something? I mean, you are a doctor, aren't you?"

The man paled. "Molly, run and get the nurse," he said, and the girl ran off. "Matt, what year is it?"

"And where's my wife? Has anyone called my wife?" Matt went on.

"What year is it?" the man repeated, leaning rather too familiarly over Matt's bed.

"What are you going on about? It's 2003. And where's all that noise coming from? It's giving me a headache."

At this, the man stepped back as though he'd been struck. He rubbed his forehead gravely and began to pace, then stopped, pointing his finger as though about to speak. Matt watched this feverish ballet curiously, still a little too groggy to grasp the implications of the body language. His mind was starting to work at its usual pace, just not quite as deeply as usual.

Finally the pacing and gesturing stopped, and the man returned to his bedside and leaned down again. "Matt," he said in a low voice, "listen to me very carefully. The year is not 2003. It is 2008. The overdose you took must have affected your memory."

Matt's brain was working well enough to see through this. He laughed. "Did Janice put you up to this? No, it was McHenry, wasn't it? Had to be him. That noise is the rest of the crew, right? They're in the other room laughing their asses off at me."

"What noise are you..." As a nurse arrived in the doorway, along with the girl called Molly, the man's face rounded into understanding. "...Oh."

"I can what?"

The nurse jumped, and the man named Mohinder panicked. She'd better not get an air bubble in that IV! said his accented voice close to Matt's ear, although his lips didn't move. Matt turned his eyes toward her. She had the good sense to start over, and Mohinder continued, lowering his head toward Matt's, nearly whispering. "Thoughts. You can hear them. It goes a little further than that, but for now, that's the essence of it. That's the noise you're hearing."

Matt looked around. To be sure, the nurse was eyeing the two of them and he was hearing a female voice say Are they gay or what? even though her lips were tightly pursed. But... but that was...

"Do you have any idea how fucked up that sounds, mister? Who.. who are you, anyway? Why haven't I seen a real doctor? Where's my wife?"

Mohinder sighed, averting his gaze. "A lot has changed in five years. Luckily enough, I think we should be able to restore you. Pet-- A friend of ours should be willing to donate some blood that..."

Matt paled. This guy was certifiable. He wanted to pump him full of some stranger's blood? He'd seen horror flicks like this. That was it-- he was getting out of Dodge.

"I don't want blood. I want my wife!" He winced and the nurse screamed as he pulled the IV out in one strong motion, pressed his hand to the gash to keep it from spraying blood everywhere, and sprang forward out of the hospital bed. He ignored the suddenly encroaching blackness and dashed from the room.

Somehow he made it to the elevator without being stopped. Safely in the crush of the lobby, he found a pay phone and dialed home, collect. The phone jangled once and then clicked into use.

"Hello? Jan?"

"'Lo." The voice was deep and unexpected, but familiar.

"McHenry? What the hell are... where..." Matt had a sudden chill of dread. "Let me talk to my wife."

"Ex-wife, pal. Or have you forgotten?"

For the first time, he was starting to believe he had.

He slammed the phone back on the receiver and panted as though he'd just run a marathon. Ex-wife? EX? This couldn't be happening. And his head was exploding with a thousand voices, as though he were at a rock concert or a political rally. Voices in his head. Maybe he had schizophrenia. Maybe this whole thing was a hallucination. Tomorrow he'd wake up in his bed, next to Jan, and all would be well. And why was it so cold in the middle of April?


A blue jacket launched itself at him. He choked on the polyester and pulled it back to see the patch sewn on the breast: New York Police Department.

Mohinder was standing there carrying a pair of shoes and a plastic bag with a number of other clothes. Matt hurried past him to the nearest window and stared through it. At the Chrysler Building. The fucking Chrysler Building. He wasn't even in California.

"Let me take you home," Mohinder said, a gentle hand on his shoulder. "You need to rest."

He nodded weakly. What else could he do? Five years, gone. Just gone.

He vaguely remembered being driven to Brooklyn and wandering up four flights of stairs and into a small apartment. Being guided to a tiny prison cell of a room, falling down on the bed there, watching dust plume up from the pillow, and going right to sleep. He had a nightmare, too. He was at his wedding, about to say I do, when a shaggy-haired man with wild eyes wandered in and started burning up like the sun. His hands were glowing red. Soon everything was in flames, and Matt was all alone at the altar. Someone told him Janice had never showed up, although he was sure she'd been there at the start.

He awoke with a shout. It took him a moment to figure out where he was, and when the previous day's events had sunk in, he sighed heavily and dropped his head into his hands. It hadn't been a dream. He really had woken up five years in the future, with no memory of what had happened in the intervening time. And apparently a hell of a lot had happened. It was all almost too absurd to believe, even now.

A girl's voice was in his head, he realized then, timidly whispering in half-voiced fragments like shards of light reflected in a prism. shouldn't have... Mohinder won't be happy... has he really... so scared.... what if he's different....

"Hey," he said as gently as he could. "You're Molly, right? Are you in here?"

The pale dome of a head rose up from beyond the foot of the bed, just enough so that a pair of green eyes appeared to blink at him. Like a little groundhog, Matt thought, amused. "It's OK," he said. "I'm still me, and I'd like to think I'm still a nice guy in the future. I don't know, am I?"

The red head nodded. She stayed as a half-face at the footboard, though.

"So I live here?" Another nod. "With you?"

And Mohinder.

Matt's eyebrows flew up. "Oh, really?" A fierce little nod from the foot of the bed.

"Hmm." Matt mused on this a bit. All the stuff in the room did seem to be his. He recognized his clothes, his favorite books on CD lined up on the bare bookshelf, and even a dusty photo album that looked like it hadn't been touched in months. Photos of him and Jan were in there, he knew. The other oddity, he noted, was that the bed had been dusty, as though it hadn't been slept in recently. But that train of thought was interrupted when Molly cleared her throat. As he'd been pondering, she'd straightened up and had wandered down the length of the bed to his side. She finally spoke aloud.

"You can't remember me at all?" she asked. Her tone was kind of pointed, like she was a little wiser than her years implied.

Matt felt his heart give a little twinge. He shook his head. "I'm sorry. I wish I did. You seem really nice."

"Mohinder says I'm not supposed to tell you anything," she said, pouting at the prospect.

"Does he, now?"

She nodded. "He says it's your decision whether or not to try and remember. But he said I could tell you one thing."

Matt smiled. This girl was an absolute ray of sunshine. "And what is that?"

She looked nervous. "That you're my hero."

His smile turned into a grin. A ray of sunshine, for sure. Matt decided then and there that Molly was the first thing he liked about 2008.

Molly led Matt down the hall to the kitchen, and again Matt saw his stuff everywhere. There were a few photos on the walls, too, mostly of the three of them together. Molly picked up a backpack from the table as she wandered to the door, where Mohinder was putting on a jacket. He turned and gave a benign smile. "I have to go to work," he explained. "I'm afraid you're on your own for the day."

"You want me here knocking around this apartment alone all day trying to remember the past five years?" Matt was already in a rage. Something about this man's presence got him all worked up.

Mohinder sighed. "I'm sorry. Of course not. Your keys are over there. Feel free to do what you like. My work number is posted with the other sitter information on the refrigerator. Coming, Molly?"

She gave a halfhearted wave as they left, but he didn't look back.

The moment they'd gone, panic started to tear at Matt's gut. He couldn't go out. What if he got lost? What if he'd changed his PIN number and couldn't get cash? What if.. what if there was something else he wasn't thinking of?

No. It was him and this weird apartment. Thank God it had a TV. He could at least get caught up on current events. He prayed that, at the very least, the war in Iraq was over by now.

Halfway through the day, when he'd gotten a good glaze over his eyes from screen-staring, Matt was interrupted in the rudest possible way.

Matt. I'm on my way up.

He prayed he'd imagined the voice in his head. Then, a few minutes later, there it was again.

What the hell...? Matt, it's me, Peter. Open up.

Grumbling, he got up, switched off the TV, and inched toward the door nervously. Then, something truly weird happened: The deadbolt on the door threw itself open. Without him even touching it. Matt goggled as the knob turned and the door opened to reveal a slender, fresh-faced man with close-cropped dark hair.

"Hey, man, there you are. I thought you were asleep or something. Well, from the way Mohinder called me in a panic last night, I thought you were dying, but you look fine!" He grinned and looked positively cherubic as he held up two paper bags full of something smelling vaguely like Chinese takeout. "I brought food!"

Peter walked in confidently. "Look, I'm sorry," Matt started, watching him. "I don't know what happened. I had an overdose of some weird pills, and..."

He faltered. But Peter looked at him hard, and Matt felt what was almost a weird tugging at his mind. Then it was gone and Peter stepped back, his eyes wild. "You don't remember? Anything? Are you kidding me? I mean no, of course you're not, but..."

"How did you--" Matt wasn't sure why he was still bothering to ask questions. Nothing made sense. Why should he expect it to?

"Because I can read minds, too," Peter said, and laughed at Matt's stunned expression. "It's a long story. The point is, I thought you'd, you know, broken your leg, or been in a car accident or something, so I came to offer you some blood. Boy, that must sound wrong, huh?" He fumbled in the plastic bag and tossed a pair of chopsticks at Matt. "Point is, I can give you your memory back."

"With your blood," Matt said flatly.

"Yeah." Just shrugging, like it was no big thing.

"That's disgusting," Matt scowled, and Peter laughed again. It only made Matt's mood blacker. He missed his home. He missed things he understood and people he knew. Sane people he knew.

"Seriously. You know Mohinder will be cool with it. Nathan will tell me not to cut myself open for just anyone, but you know how he gets--"

"No, I don't!" Matt burst out. "I don't even know who you're talking about! I don't know you, and I really wish you'd shut up about the goddamn blood already!" He said it as fervently as he knew how, wanting desperately for it to finally sink in. Then he fell silent, his face blank. He'd heard a strange echo of the words in his mind.

Peter's eyes went dark for a moment, and then he shook his head, smiling coyly. "That may work on most people, but it doesn't work on me, buddy. And you know what? The Matt I knew didn't like doing that. Tried never to go there. So I really hope you think twice before doing it again."

"I don't know what you're talking about," Matt grumbled. He wanted to punch that smile right off his face.

"You'll figure it out," Peter said. "In the meantime, you're obviously in no mood for company, so I'll take off. Enjoy the Chinese, OK?"

Matt was not about to stop him. He felt testy and discombobulated, and halfway through the conversation he'd realized that he was damned glad Janice wasn't there to give him shit about the cholesterol in the Chinese food. He was already feeling guilty for that.

In any case, Peter made it mostly through the doorway before turning back with a final thought. "Just... do your best to remember Mohinder, OK? He misses you."

Matt ate most of the Chinese in a single sitting. He was too busy pondering what the hell that meant to notice how much he'd put away. Needless to say, he promptly got a terrible stomachache.

He stayed shut in his room most of the evening, refusing to come out when the two strangers who lived with him came home. Mohinder knocked on his door several times, and Matt shouted at him to go away once and stayed silent the other times. He stood there for a moment, then gave up, shouting, "You can sulk all night, but I have to take care of Molly!" and stomping off. It hurt, but Matt didn't budge. He was too ill and tired and confused to care.

Except for, hearing the two of them talk and think-- as worried and on edge as they seemed-- made him feel sort of lonely. That was one thing he did miss: having someone there to share his confusion and helplessness. He was never very good at handling it on his own.

Things quieted for a while, and he assumed the little girl had gone to bed. Then, without warning, there was a voice at his door.

"I don't... I don't know how you feel about it, but tomorrow is Saturday, and if you like, I could take you around town while Molly's at football practice. Show you some of the places you used to know."

There was such tentative hope and pleading in the voice that it made Matt ache. Then he remembered Peter's parting words and froze over again.

"Peter called. He said you were rather short with him when he came by. I'm sorry I wasn't able to reintroduce you. But he's a good man. You ought to be able to tell that. He deserves at least the common courtesy you'd give a stranger."

At this, Matt felt a sting of guilt. He stayed silent, but after a moment, he got up and walked to the door, staring at it mutely.


He drew in a breath. The hesitance in the voice was painful.

"Can I at least see you, Matt? I don't like talking to you through this door. I don't like... not seeing you."

He couldn't say no. But when he opened the door, his first words to the startled man standing there were, "What are you to me, anyway?"

Blindsided, Mohinder stared at him with open longing and answered immediately. "Your partner, Matt, don't you know that yet? We're lovers."

It was what he expected to hear, but it still felt like a slap. Matt stumbled backward a step. "But... that's insane. I'm straight. I'm married. I love my... wife..."

He trailed off. In that moment he'd said that, something had changed. Somehow, his last memories, which he could have sworn were yesterday's, suddenly seemed five years distant. For the first time since he'd awoken in that hospital bed, he could feel the passage of time. Five years had gone by. He just couldn't remember them. It was like a black hole of nothing was sitting in the middle of his life.

He clutched his head and sat on the bed. "How in the hell did this happen?" he moaned. "How did I go from a normal life to living in some Japanese comic book, reading minds and living with some pretty boy?" He felt a swell of sadness. "How did I lose her? What did I do?"

Above him he was vaguely aware of Mohinder reaching out, then pulling back. Finally, he just sank to the floor, looking up at Matt sadly.

"It wasn't you," he said. "She... she betrayed you, Matt."

"That's not possible!" He shook his head wildly. "I was the screw-up. She's this incredible, perfect woman. I had to be the one who--"

"She had another man's child," said Mohinder quietly.

Matt froze. He remembered the voice on the phone in that hospital lobby. "McHenry.... Oh, God."

Mohinder was silent.

Matt peeked through his fingers at him. "And... that girl? Is she... but she can't be, I never--"

A hint of a smile lit Mohinder's face. "You and I share a very distinct honor," he said. "We've both had the privilege of saving Molly Walker's life."

That wasn't what Matt expected. He gaped.

"Her parents were murdered," Mohinder went on. "You were there. You found her. I met her much later, but my part wasn't nearly as heroic. I simply had the right antibodies in my blood."

"You and your friends fixate on blood a lot," Matt muttered. This brought the smile fully out. Matt pretended it didn't affect him. "Were we, um... is that how..."

"Not initially." Mohinder looked down at his hands, pushing his index fingers together in a nervous motion. His downcast eyes struck Matt as pretty, in an effeminate kind of way. Eyes that would be stunning on a woman. "She needed a place to go. I had an apartment. You were insistent upon taking care of her. We began as just roommates with a common interest. I was away most of the time. It was when I came back that we..."

"Oh." Matt was openly staring at him now, trying to wrap his mind around what had apparently been a crucial turning point in his life. In a way, he thought, it was ironic: He was living such a completely different life from what he'd imagined that it might as well be a stranger's. Which, at the moment, it pretty much was.

Then Mohinder looked up and their eyes met. A rush of heat and secondhand emotion rushed through Matt's mind. eyes so beautiful want to hold him so badly so sexy so intense need him so much. It was so intimate, Matt blushed. He turned away.

"Tomorrow sounds OK," he muttered.

"I'm sorry?"

"If you wanted to try to, uh, jog my memory. Tomorrow. Like you said. Although, does she really play football?"

Mohinder chuckled. "Soccer. Sorry. I'd forgotten you might misunderstand." His laugh was a little effeminate too, but Matt liked it. He liked it. That scared him.

"I have to warn you, though," Matt said, still looking away. "I don't know if I can-- I mean, you and me. I don't--"

"No pressure," Mohinder said quietly. "Just promise me you won't leave. For Molly's sake. She's been abandoned one too many times. She can't... lose you again."

Matt nodded, but he had the feeling the man wasn't speaking for Molly alone.

"Wait a second. Hold the phone. You're a taxi driver? I thought you were a scientist or a doctor or something."

Mohinder rolled his eyes. "We've had this conversation before."

"I'll bet we have! This is how you support a little girl? Have you ever heard of college tuition, pal?"

He was about to speak when Molly, perky in a ponytail and her soccer uniform, jumped between them and gave him a combination pout and scowl that was utterly adorable. "Hey! Don't make fun of Mohinder. He does the best he can! And he gets good tips. So leave him alone!"

Matt sighed. "Look. I guess I don't really know what's going on, but..."

"Good!" She tossed her soccer ball at him. "Now say you're sorry!"

Matt was just about to bite the bullet and do just that when he noticed that Mohinder had burst into hysterical laughter. "What's so funny?"

Molly snatched back her ball. "Juuuuust kidding," she grinned. "Mohinder is a scientist. He got the taxi when his dad died. Let's go!"

Matt stared blankly at her impish grin as Mohinder's oddly melodic laughter floated up into the sunny morning.

"God, she's a pill," Matt said as they drove into the city after dropping her off.

"You have no idea," Mohinder said, still chuckling a little.

"So, uh... where are we headed?"

"I thought we'd visit your workplace first."

This made Matt want to jump out the car window and run away. "But... wait a sec. I won't know anyone!"

That will last until you're close enough to read their mind. Mohinder smiled at him.

"Wait. I thought I could only read thoughts. How can I get someone's name?"

"I told you it didn't quite stop there." Sun glinted off the perfect teeth in his grin. Matt almost had to shield his eyes from the glare. "Why not try? Try to divine something from me that I'm not immediately thinking of. See what you can find."

Matt frowned at him, but tried to listen nonetheless. Beneath the running commentary of take a right at this next light... beautiful day... please let this work, he could hear a current of whispers, like a river running in the distance. He leaned in closer, trying to amplify them.

"Eden... Shanti... Bob," he muttered as each flew into clarity and faded, one by one. Then he heard something entirely different, something that made him blush and stutter.

"All names of people who were close to me once." Mohinder nodded approvingly. "It should be easy for you to discern what you need to at the station." He paused. "Matt, why are you blushing?"

"Nothing. No reason," Matt lied, wondering if he really did have a supremely grabbable ass.

Unable to help himself, he turned again to Mohinder. "So we were really gay, huh? And we.. had sex?"

Mohinder stifled a laugh. "Yes, Matt. We really had sex. And that's just about exactly the expression you had on your face after the first time. You sat up straight and said, 'We had SEX!'"

"Agh! Keep your voice down!" Matt pleaded, sure everyone in the cars around him could hear. Beet red, he slumped into his seat and spent the rest of the ride stealing furtive glances at Mohinder, trying to understand the concept. So he was a hell of a good-looking guy. And was pretty easy to talk to. And kind of smart. And in general a good person. How did that all add up to Matt going gay for him?

Except for Matt couldn't really think of a better example of the kind of person he would go gay for. Not that he gave it much thought. Really.

He was almost grateful when they got to the station. Of course, that brief relief died almost immediately upon entering, when the sound of a thousand mental voices nearly doubled him over with their power. He struggled to maintain his composure as a large, black man with a dour face walked purposefully in his direction. "Parkman," he trumpeted. "Good to see you. Are you feeling all right?" Neither his voice nor his face betrayed the slightest hint of caring about the answer to that question.

"Uh, yeah, uh..." Matt listened for a moment. "Sergeant Fuller. I'm doing fine. Thanks for asking." He tried to move past him, but the man called Fuller stepped to the side to block his path.

"Uh-huh." He eyed Matt warily. "Listen, you do realize we're going to have to put you on probation, right? An officer hospitalized for an overdose is a big problem around here."

"Aw. Geez, Sergeant, you think it was on purpose or something? I'm dyslexic. I messed up my left from my right and grabbed my, uh, roommate's pills instead." He was babbling. He had to do something to get this guy off his back. Just say I'm a good and solid cop and you'll overlook it this time! he begged silently, then realized that weird echo in his head was back.

"You know what, Parkman?" Fuller said. "You're a good, solid cop. I'll overlook it this time."

"Uh." Matt blinked. "Uh, sure. There won't be a next time, sir. I swear." Then he had a sudden idea. In fact, I can take as much time off as I need to recover.

It worked. "In fact, you can take the time you need to recover," said the man. "We'll hold down the fort here. Just take care of yourself." He wandered away, looking thoroughly confused.

Matt felt slightly sick to his stomach when he returned to the car. "I can do a lot more than just read thoughts," he commented blankly. Mohinder looked at him but said nothing.

They made a brief stop at Kirby Plaza, but other than recognizing the statue from movies and postcards, Matt didn't remember anything about it. Their last stop before having to return to Brooklyn to pick up Molly was Mohinder's lab, which was oddly located in a midtown apartment.

Matt went in and immediately felt as though he'd been kicked in the head.

"What the hell is THAT?" he said, stumbling backward and staring at the floor. "Are you developing the bomb or something?"

"Before this was my laboratory, it was a certain artist's studio," Mohinder said with sadness in his voice.

"Mohinder, what kind of artist paints their hometown going boom in the middle of their floor?"

"One who can paint the future," said Mohinder soberly.

"Wha--? Wait a minute. Never mind how insane that sounds. You're telling me your Psychic Artists' Network says that is going to happen?" He pointed accusingly at the mural.

"Not anymore. Thanks to Peter--"

Matt whirled, and Mohinder lost his words at the sight of the angry glare. "You know something? I am a little sick of hearing about this Peter guy. I may be having trouble with this whole you-and-me thing, but I'm already starting to get jealous of him."

Another beat, another look at Mohinder's startled face, and Matt relented. "I'm sorry. Something about this place bugs me."

"No, I'm sorry. Besides, I misspoke." Mohinder walked over to him, stood just a little too close. Matt found it hard to breathe. "The truth is, that event was prevented due to a number of people. Including you."

"Me?" Matt stepped closer without realizing it.

"At the very least, you saved my life and Molly's that night," Mohinder said. His eyes were deep and full of emotion, and his hands began to move for Matt's.

At the last minute, Matt noticed and drew back quickly. "Let's get out of here," he said, looking away.

The ride back was spent in silence. Well, Matt figured it was silent for Mohinder, that is, because Matt's own head was full of what he'd seen and heard and felt in the past few hours, his own speculation and imagination, and a thousand frantic fears. Mohinder's mental voice was a low undercurrent of wish he'd talk to me and this was a bad idea in the background. Matt felt as though there were a weight on his shoulders.

Then Molly came running over the hill toward the car and all of his worries instantly vanished. "We won the scrimmage!" she grinned, and Mohinder pulled her up into an airborne hug. Matt wanted to hug her too, despite himself. She just waved at him and grinned. What an incredibly sensitive, well-behaved, smart child she was. Too much for an oaf like him to possibly hope for.

But he sat in the back seat with her and they talked a little bit about soccer and school and she was very good about explaining to him all the details he couldn't remember, like the fact that there was a lizard also named Mohinder at home, and that her grades had gotten a whole lot better lately, and who Max Grossman was and why his name fit him so perfectly.

She even told him a little about himself. That he never stumbled over a word when reading her a bedtime story for some reason. That he had a tendency to consider vegetable pizza a nutritious meal. (Sounded about right, thought Matt.) That he was always the first one in the room when she had a nightmare, and that made Mohinder jealous. Matt had to laugh at this. Mohinder glared daggers at her in the rear view mirror.

And then she mentioned something about the voices in his head giving him headaches sometimes. His heart plummeted as they walked up the stairs to the apartment and he realized that's why he'd probably taken the overdose that had given him this awful hole in the place of a memory. He was always prone to taking a little more than he should when it came to painkillers.

"So I haven't figured out a way to turn it off?" he asked. "Or shut it down?"

"Mohinder can help you, probably," she answered brightly. "But you didn't really want him to for a while. You said you could handle it."

"That wasn't very smart of me," he mused.

"Sorry I can't help," she shrugged. "But mine's different. I have to turn it on."

Matt sputtered, "Wait, what? Yours?"

"Oh, I'm sorry! I forgot you didn't know. I find people."

First Peter, then that artist, now Molly? There was no mistaking it; he had dropped into a comic book. "Molly, how many people are there who can... do things?"

She shrugged her shoulders again, already flipping TV channels. "I don't know. Lots. I had to find a whole bunch of them when they first found me, so I know there's lots. Ask Mohinder. He studies them. He can probably answer all your questions."

Matt thought that perhaps he'd have to first figure out if he really wanted those answers. His head was aching again, and this time it wasn't because of anyone's thoughts.

"So, uh. You study us."

Mohinder turned away from his laptop. He was wearing reading glasses; Matt was surprised how well they suited him. He looked sharper somehow, older. He sometimes seemed like a disheveled college kid.

"Yes." He got up. "Actually, I study your DNA and attempt to understand how these traits develop and are passed along between generations."

"They're passed along...?" Dimly he thought of his parents. It wasn't possible. If either of them could have...

"In most cases, yes. There are some cases of spontaneous mutation, but there's also the possibility in those cases that the parents simply are denying what they nevertheless know to be true."

"Huh." Matt scratched his head. He briefly peeked down the hall at Molly, absorbed by some inanity on the TV, girls wearing too much hairspray for their age and fat-faced boys shouting at each other.

"You're wondering about yourself?" Mohinder was standing too close. Matt jumped back.

"Huh? Uh. No. I just..."

Mohinder looked down, took his glasses off and folded them in the palm of his hand. "I won't tell you anything you don't want to know," he said with a sigh. "I... didn't mean to upset you by taking you those places. I thought maybe they would trigger some memories. I... I hope this doesn't frighten you, but I miss you, Matt." The eyes flickered up to meet his, and again Matt felt that uncontrollable rush of heat. "It's only been a few days and already I'm missing you so very much. It's times like these that I'm..." He stepped back. "I'm sorry. I'll stop."

"I'm sorry, too," Matt said, meaning it. "I want... I want things to be normal. I don't want to make anyone unhappy, but..."

"But you're not ready," whispered Mohinder. "Yes. I know."

Matt turned to go. He pretended he didn't see the almost-tears catching on those long, dark eyelashes.

It was the last time Mohinder attempted to approach him. Through the rest of the following week, Matt slowly got used to the apartment and the life he'd fallen into. There was no mention of a missing past, no mention of weird powers, and no mention of a romantic relationship. Instead, there was discussion of Molly's schedule, current events and politics (Mohinder discussed the India/Pakistan arms race in some detail and Molly contributed the gem that some guy Matt had never heard of named Obama, who was running for president, was "dreamy"), and occasionally Mohinder's work.

Altogether, Matt decided he liked these people well enough to stay with them. Certainly he recalled Mohinder's admonishment about not leaving, and he certainly didn't want to see that sunny smile slip off Molly's face. He was falling in love with her faster than he had with anyone in his life, he thought. Faster than he had Janice. How strange. Janice seemed like a dream that had barely even happened. And he was weirdly OK with that. It was like, even though his head didn't remember getting over her, his heart did. Maybe it was just a survival instinct. He had to get over her, or living without her would be too difficult to take.

Hardly mattered. The point was, he was OK with it. No reason to borrow trouble by wondering why.

So things were benign until Friday night. That was the night the word slipped out.

Mohinder was complaining. They had brought in some patient or other that they wanted him to run tests on, and apparently the commute was going to be a bitch. "And for God's sake I have to go all the way out to Hartsdale for the testing," he snipped, "just like I did with Miss Dawson, only now they have to strap this man down, right in the same ward where your father is..."

"What?" Matt nearly knocked the kitchen table over.

Mohinder got pale and tight-lipped. Molly silently slipped away and went to her room. The word had affected her, too.

"Did you just say--"

He got a weak nod, but no words.

"But that's-- I haven't seen my father since I was thirteen--"

Mohinder's jaw dropped open, and the edge of a word seemed to be hovering between his teeth somewhere. Then he slammed his mouth shut again.

"I have? He's... Mohinder. What's going on?"

His question was met with a question. "Do you want to see him?"

It was raining. Gray and ugly everywhere. The drive was almost interminable, and the clouds seemed to be screaming at him to turn back, to give up. It was one of the most frightening storms Matt had ever experienced. But nothing compared to the moment when they headed down those sterile corridors to stop in front of a large, thick windowpane. Outside, thunder roared. It seemed to echo in the cavernous hallway forever.

Matt couldn't hear the machines beep, but he watched the pulse monitor make its incessant spikes with a fascinated eye before daring to look down across the shriveled gray body. There was no doubt in his mind that this was his dad. The closed eyes, the pudgy cheeks... they were easy to recognize. But he looked so weak. How long had he been lying there?

"He's trapped inside himself," Mohinder murmured by his side. "All the brain scans show that he has no reason to be unconscious. And in fact he isn't. He's conscious, but everything that's happening to him is inside his mind. He thinks he's moving and talking, but he isn't."

"That's barbaric," breathed Matt, feeling tears sting his eyes. "Who could have done that to him?"

Mohinder gave him a look that Matt had learned to recognize. It was the look that said you don't remember? Oh, that's right, of course you don't.

"You did," he said quietly.

Matt staggered forward against the window. He knew by now he could. He just couldn't believe he did. "Why?"

Over the next several minutes, as Matt stared blankly at the body on the other side of the glass, Mohinder carefully explained. By the end, Matt's eyes were too misty to even see through the window. Mohinder had to take him by the hand and tell him it was time to go. He clutched that hand for dear life as he followed him back to the car, eyes unfocused, mind full of pain.

He was starting to think he never wanted to remember. In the five years he'd lost, he'd gone across the country, lost a wife, become part of a strange makeshift family, seen the world nearly end, learned to control other people's minds, and met his father again only to have to put him down like a rabid dog. If this was what life had in store for him, why should he want to remember it all?

Maybe those five years should just stay gone. Maybe he should be gone, too.

The rain had let up, but it was getting dark, by the time they returned. Matt got out of the car but then just stood there, looking at his feet. Still wishing he could just disappear. Mohinder stared at him a moment, then walked over to the other side of the car to meet him.

"Come inside, Matt."

He shook his head.

Mohinder gazed at him sadly. "Should I not have told you?" he asked. Another shake of the head. "What can I do?"

Matt thought he maybe was able to get the words "I need" out of his mouth.

Then it was like Mohinder could read his mind, because Matt was in his arms all of a sudden. A supportive, brotherly embrace. Still no pressure, still nothing untoward, just comfort. A hug that said I'm there for you. Matt had no defenses left. He crumbled into a thousand pieces, started sobbing like a little boy, crushing Mohinder in his grip. Mohinder whispered "Shh" into his ear, stroked his hair, stood firm and steady against him. Like an anchor, like a rock. Something he could hold onto. Something he needed if he was going to survive and not be swept out to sea.

Mohinder touched his face, and Matt looked at him. Those dark eyes were wet with tears, too. Tears at seeing him cry. His mind whirled around that one point. Mohinder cried because he did. He'd never known anyone who did that for him. Not even his mother. Not even his wife. He'd never had anyone care that much.

Before he knew it, his lips were brushing Mohinder's.

And then they were bruising them, and Matt was pushing him against the parked taxicab, kissing him fiercely. He was burning up, drowning in heat, desperate for more contact. His hands were moving, doing something, touching him somewhere, it didn't matter where, and he was exploding all over, so needy, so hungry. So lost. So desperate for something he couldn't name. He needed Mohinder, he needed, he wanted, he loved...

"Oh, my God."

He spat the words as he jumped back.

"Oh, my God, I ... No. No, no, no." He kept shaking his head, backing away.

Mohinder reached out, suddenly adrift. "Matt. I... please..."

There was too much pain in those eyes. Matt turned and ran.

The voices, the noises, the pain. A crush of people and a crush of thoughts. That's all Matt knew. Somehow he'd made his way to the train station, intending perhaps to get lost in the city. He didn't know. He didn't have room to even think about it. He only knew he was aching and alone. The whole place seemed to sway with the force of the thoughts surrounding him. Each one stung him like a gust of wind; the cumulative effect was that of a hurricane. He was deafened by it all. His head beat bass drums into his ears.

He needed comfort. Something that would help him let go of the black hole in his heart that was yawning up and around, drawing more and more of him into its field of gravity. Soon, Matt feared, he'd be crushed by the weight of it. He found a bar, ordered a beer, then another. Now the sound of the TV was added to the sound of the voices and alcohol distorted everything. The whole place was swaying and kind of sickening. He was choking on it all. Fresh air. He needed fresh air. Coughing, he staggered out of the building.

The time on the clock opposite the station said 11:20. He thought that's what it said. He couldn't really trust his eyes right now. The voices faded and were nearly gone as he found his way into a small park nearby. But the black hole was still there. What would fill this void? Sleep? A punch in the gut? Yes, that's what he wanted. He wanted to be unconscious. He wanted to not be aware of all these confusing things he was feeling. How could he have handled all of this? It was too much, too big for him to take all at once. He staggered onto a park bench and looked up at the sky, watched the stars swing in arcs before his addled eyes.

And after a while, he thought, I'm lonely.

How long he sat there, crumpled, crying, abandoned, he never knew.

But he knew the minute the figure appeared at the end of the path. The thoughts were like music on the edge of his consciousness. He knew who it was before he even looked up.


Matt staggered for him, reaching out a hand. Afraid he wasn't real. Afraid he was a mirage or an illusion or something else that would disappear when he needed it the most. Afraid the darkness was playing tricks on his eyes, and he would come to meet him and find him dissolved into air.

But skin touched skin and he was saved.

He melted into the welcoming embrace, putting both hands on Mohinder's face and kissing him. The kiss was warm, like hope and family and home. Mohinder's eyes were closed. His mind was whispering gentle, soothing endearments and promises into Matt's. Things he wanted desperately to hang onto. It truly was like coming home.

He didn't remember them heading back, didn't remember how they arrived at the apartment or what they said or how they ended up tumbling into bed. He was only dimly aware of brief images like flickers of candlelight penetrating the darkness. Mohinder's eyes, deep and probing. His crown of curls at Matt's waist. The ceiling, cracked and rugged. Hands on his hands. A lean leg thrown over his. Eyes shut tight in concentration and passion. Heat at his core. The sound of his name, gasped in with a breath and let out again. And warmth, languor, sleep.

The sunlight that touched his eyelids was sort of pleasant. He blinked his eyes open and enjoyed the warmth. He felt a little bit reborn. A little bit cleansed. And Mohinder was still there with him, which brought more relief than anything.

How had he found him? Was it Molly, did he ask her to use her particular ability? Or was it something deeper, more instinctive, something only the two of them shared? Matt supposed he'd never know. Some things were unknowable, after all.

But some things weren't.

Like five years. Five years in which he'd lost his wife, seen the world nearly end, learned to compromise his own morality, found his father and lost him again.

Five years gone. And, for the first time, five years he wanted back.

Because it was five years in which he'd learned to love a little girl who thought of him as her hero. Five years in which he'd learned to love a man who cared so much that he cried for him. Five years in which he'd finally, finally found a family. That had to be worth remembering.

"Good morning," he whispered, digging his chin into the dark, lush curls and inhaling the scent of his future memories.

Mohinder's eyes tensed, fluttered, slitted open. "Good morning," he whispered sleepily. As though he was used to saying it every day and then just rumbling off back to sleep. It was something that familiar. Like home.

Matt couldn't help himself. He leaned down and kissed a patch of his hair just above his ear.

"Matt...?" Slowly the sleepy haze lifted, and Mohinder looked up at him. Matt could hear his puzzlement at his being there. Puzzlement, but also relief, and a sort of soul-deep joy that made Matt want to smile along with it. Instead, he lifted a finger, traced the line of Mohinder's jaw. His skin was like velvet on steel. Matt couldn't imagine not wanting to touch it.

"I'm thinking," he said.

"Hmm?" Mohinder was still a little groggy. Matt thought with a leap of his heart that it was sort of adorable.

He couldn't hold back a small smile. "I'm thinking we should call your friend Peter today."

Mohinder opened his eyes again. This time, he was completely awake. And his expression was blank.

"Really?" he whispered, as though he wasn't sure he wanted the answer. Matt knew what that felt like. His heart ached with sympathy, but also with affection. Once again, it remembered when his head did not.

"Yes. Really," he said, nodding. And he smiled, fully and openly, for what felt like the first time in forever. He was absolutely sure he had loved this man. Would love him again. Because he felt like home.

And when he finally did remember, it was just like coming home.

:the end:

Previous comments:

From imeru: Oh, Gawd!, this was so intense! I love it, Matt was absolutely perfect, and Mohinder so lovely.

From boudecia7: Oh my god--Best. One. Yet.

You played this so beautifully; all of Matt's angst and reactions to Mohinder and Molly are so perfect and heartbreaking. I love how even without remembering why, he still feels unsettled in Mohinder's presence. I also like that he's able to let Janice go and fall back in love with Mohinder and his family before having Peter come to restore his memory...so sweet and moving.

This one hurt my heart a little bit, but it also made me ridiculously happy, so what's that all about? :D

Absolutely gorgeous, m'dear!!

From starlingthefool: *bawls*
Ahem. This was amazing. I loved this line especially:
digging his chin into the dark, lush curls and inhaling the scent of his future memories.

Also, Obama is totally dreamy.

From hanuueshe: Things which make me squee with joy:
1) All the little asides about what happened current issue wise in the world between 2003 and 2008.
2) Matt immeadiatly assuming he's the one who screwed up his relationship with Janice :(
3) The way he discovered his other power
4) Maury Parkman...ouch!
5) The way he immeadiately fell in love with Molly.
6) Soccer/football

From saharafic: how can you continue to write things that reduce me to a puddle of goo? Oh god this was painful and wonderful and ugh! I just love how no matter what, they always get together. Because they must.

Another home run, dear. Amazing.

From scrollgirl: Excellent, excellent story! Wonderful characterisation, great pacing, and a smart, thoughtful exploration of the amnesia trope. I love that you keep it all very real and believable. Matt is such an Everyman, and you definitely captured that with his POV. Way to wrench my heartstrings!

From arabella_w: I'm dying here and now. This was just absolutely beautiful. All Matt's confusion and denial were just delightfully well played. The last part was just what my heart needed after the previous angst. I loved Peter's little appearance.

From carmexgirl: This was so achey, but so good as well! Matt's utter confusion at his situation, and his denial, was so well written. The fact that he has to go through all of the worst parts of his life again, and feel all of the bad emotions associated with them, as if for the first time, is absolutely heartbraking.

I loved how dedicated Mohinder is - he's going to see his partner recover no matter what, no matter how long it takes - that's true love. And the ending - just so sweet and lovely and perfect!

From baehj2915: oooooer. that was le angst!

it felt like a very complete little story. even though it was sad, to an extent, and a little troubling, i have no regrets reading it. it was organized very well.

and i liked the very admirable Mohinder you wrote. nice.

bravo!!! :D


From rogueslayer452: An exceptional story, I absolutely loved it. The pacing, the exploration of Matt's character and how he deals with losing five years of his life and trying to cope with this new, and strange one he suddenly stumbles into, the character interactions, the build-up was nice and certainly angst-ridden, but wonderful nonetheless. I liked how you got into Matt's head at the possible situation where he would have no recollection of what'd happened to him, and Mohinder's attempts to have him remember. His reactions were spot-on, especially when discovering he had an abilities as do others too, and his interaction with Peter was hilarious (ah Peter, always getting abused in these stories XD) I can only imagine it would feel like you've been warped inside some bizarro-land after the normal life you'd once known had been turned upside down. I'm happy that he did, eventually, gain his memory back and that last line that he'd "finally come home" was perfect.

Overall, fantastic job. As always, of course. :)

From kimmi_watch: Wow, this was an absolutely beautiful story. So intense, so sweet, so good. I loved it! I've been reading your fics for a while now and have decided to stop being a silent fan and tell you how much I love your writing. It was your stories that made me an M3 fan so thank you very much. :)

From emmyhildy: Poor Poor Poor Mohinder. That had to suck so hard, being around his Matthew and not being able to have the normal unconscious touches and looks that an established couple have... It broke my heart...

But they found each other and that's what matters. They'll always find each other! *heart sighs, whispers in mind: Hear that, Kring?!*

From saavikam77: SQUEEEEE!!!! ^_^ *flails*

Oh, this was brilliant! I *love* the desperation, to know, to not know. Gods! And Matt falling for Mohinder all over again! And ditto for Molly! :p Just perfect.


From boymommytotwo: i don't know how tis really possible for you to write something m-o-r-e--b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l than you have before. how does that work?

this was amazing. SO memming... SO faving... this is the kind of scribble i think i'll print out and put in my calendar so i can read it whenever i darn well want to. i just got lost - in matt's bewilderment, mohinder's hurt, molly's forthcoming nature - and most of all in their road back to one another.

::love, Love, LOVE::

honey, thank you... <3 -a

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Tiptoe39: thank youtiptoe39 on May 18th, 2008 12:11 pm (UTC)
thank you so much! such a sweet comment!!

small ficpimp: i'm in the process of archiving all my fics through my memories, and if you hit the tags "30 first kisses" "legacies" and "a simple twist of fate" on the tag cloud at left you will get some of my multipart fics as well... please feel free to enjoy.. I'm so glad you've found your way here and to the fandom! Hugs and more hugs!
(Deleted comment)
Tiptoe39: mattmo fandomtiptoe39 on May 18th, 2008 02:21 pm (UTC)
lolz! Comment when you have something to say, of course! Whenever that may be! :D
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Tiptoe39tiptoe39 on May 19th, 2008 02:43 am (UTC)
No danger, I am more the stalker type than the stalkee type so i love attention :D :D :D
Cute icon btw
bellonablack on July 16th, 2008 05:41 am (UTC)
Goodness, you are good, aren't you? :-)

...I think this is the most original memory-loss fic I've read. In fact, more original than the idea itself, if that makes sense. I think this is so mature, you know, and ironically, you get to know Matt better through him not knowing himself.

"But he knew the minute the figure appeared at the end of the path. The thoughts were like music on the edge of his consciousness. He knew who it was before he even looked up."

Very pretty. I think that, in a way, you don't have that type of relationship often, if ever. And all the things Mohinder represented for Matt. He was the rock in this story, imo, Mohinder was. XD

Good job!


Tiptoe39: thank youtiptoe39 on July 16th, 2008 11:56 am (UTC)
thank you so much! i really really enjoyed writing this; it was hard to deal with Matt and Mohinder in pain so much but patience is a virtue, riiight? :) i'm so glad you enjoyed and thank you for taking the time to give feedback! :)
shayeful1983 on September 21st, 2008 05:58 am (UTC)
I want you to know, that your stories are the only reason I started an account on live journal... that's all
Tiptoe39: mattmo fandomtiptoe39 on September 21st, 2008 12:23 pm (UTC)
omfg. thank you so much. i'm... i'm really touched. like, so hugely touched. thank you so much. ;_;

i hope you'll branch out beyond me and check out the wealth of amazing stories and people here in elljay land. B/c, really, I'm the tip of the titanic-sinking iceberg that is the fandom. it is an awesome place to play.

thank you and enjoy