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14 August 2008 @ 04:31 pm
[ficlet] Bravery (PG)  
Title: Bravery
Author: tiptoe39
Rating: PG
Summary: Written for the timestamp meme. Set the evening after Kiss #11: Gardenia. Thanks to hanuueshe for the prompt!

It's the strangest dinner I've ever sat through.

I'm giddy with joy and I'm grinning and I'm simultaneously so nervous. Molly chatters away about how thrilled she is that I'm finally here. The food is Indian cuisine; it's spicy and I barely taste it. I'm not even hungry. We had cake when I got here, after all. But for now there is dinner, there is conversation, and there's Mohinder's eyes, and they're all I know.

So I kissed him. And he kissed me back, I think. But here's the thing. The moment I kissed him, I felt this... rush, I guess. This big flood of joy and fear and anxiety and relief all at once that seemed completely foreign. And I thought I was having a panic attack. So I pulled away.

"Are you all right?" he asked. Oh, no, oh, no...

"Uh, yeah," I said, feeling the panic drain instantly. It was almost as if it had never happened. My head felt light. "I'm sorry. I just..." I gesture toward the room, the flowers on the sill and the clean bedsheets. "It's so nice, and..."

And that's when it came. The mental sigh and the regretful words. Gratitude. I knew it. I must be more careful. Damn it.

"No!" I couldn't help myself. "Not gratitude. Not that. I just... Well, you guys had a cake for me, and..."

"The cake was Molly's idea," Mohinder said with a sad smile. "And the roses, too."

"And those?" I asked him, pointing again at the gardenias.

He didn't answer, just told me to take my time getting settled and walked back down the hall. But as he left, I heard the thoughts plain as if he'd spoken them. Those were from me.

I've been replaying that conversation in my head ever since. Obsessively. Mohinder has let me be, and Molly asked me once why I was so quiet but otherwise seemed much more preoccupied with having a knock-down drag-out fight with Mohinder over her bedtime. Now she's screaming. "I don't go to school! Why can't I stay up late? It's a special day!"

"I don't want to have this conversation with you," Mohinder says, sounding like a beleaguered soccer mom. I picture him carpooling rugrats like Janice's friends, and it cracks me up.

"Because you can't answer me!" She's altogether too hysterical, and I remember what Mohinder said about her nightmares. He's asked me to try to figure out what's going on with her, and suddenly it hits me that I'm going to be able to say goodnight to this girl every night from now on. I get a lump in my throat the size of a Cadillac.

I clear my throat. "Can I..."

They both look at me, shaken, as though they'd forgotten I was here. Not that I can blame them. Until today, I wasn't.

My voice sounds weird, like it doesn't want to come out. "Can I put you to bed tonight, Molly?"

And just like that, the fight is forgotten. Mohinder's clapped a hand over his mouth and is choking back tears. And Molly's not bothering with even that-- her arms are around me and she's crying and saying "Please, please, please do."

Perfect, beautiful, precious girl. I'll never let you go again.

"You're going to protect me, right?" Molly says as she settles into bed.

She says it with no cajoling in her voice, no sarcasm. Innocently, genuinely. I hurry to say yes, almost not letting her finish. It doesn't take me a half-second. Nobody could let that question go unanswered.

She puts a hand on mine, peering up at me. "And I'll protect you too, if there's something you're afraid of." She means it, too, and she's doing her best to put something strong into her voice, something like steel. It's this blustery show of bravery from an eight-year-old girl and it's completely adorable.

I pat her head. "The only thing I'm scared of," I tell her, "is waking up tomorrow and having this all be a dream. So go to sleep and before you know it, it'll be morning and you can wake me up and tell me I'm still here. And then you'll be my hero."

She nods and closes her eyes dutifully. I slip out of the room and crumple against the door as I close it, fighting tears. Because it had taken the words coming out of my mouth to make me realize how deeply I mean it. I'm scared to death that this is all just a passing dream.

I sniffle and swallow the tears and come out to discover Mohinder sitting on the couch, waiting for me. I wave lamely.

"Sit down," he says. He's not smiling.

Oh, God. Does the dream have to be over already?

But when I sit, I see him look at me and hear something sad and strangled in his thoughts, like he's singing mournfully to himself. I have to stop it, he's thinking. I can't let this happen.

I want to ask him why, but he's already decided what he wants to say. Better to let him just say it.

"I'm really rather glad to have you here," he begins. "Molly will be a lot more secure here with you around."

"I can't think of anywhere I'd rather be," I assure him.

"I'm glad to hear it." He lets a smile slip. His smiles are really unbelievable. My heart's thumping like some big, dumb elephant in my chest. But he keeps thinking can't and shouldn't and I did just get here.

"So what did you want to talk to me about?" I say, leaning back and trying to act casual. He watches me move and I get a twinge of heat and another rush of panic. Damn, what is happening to me? I'm not a panicker. I'm a cop, for crying out loud. But this is something I've never felt before and it's terrifying. I honestly feel like someone's churning up my insides with a paddle. I might throw up.

He's noticed. "Are you feeling all right?" he said. "Maybe we should talk when you've gotten some rest."

"I'm fine." I'm not. My head's hurting again, like it did when I first started to hear thoughts. "Go on."

"This was my father's apartment," he says quietly. "This is where he lived in the final days before he was killed. It's a place that holds many painful memories for me, but it's something of a sacred space to me as well. I... I want you to know that." His eyes are full of sad, muted, dim flame.

"I didn't realize. Thanks for letting me stay here."

"I'll be going away soon," he says. "In the week since you agreed to stay with us, I've been in contact with some universities affiliated with my own. I'm hoping to give a lecture there about the virus and what I know about human evolutionary potential. I'm trusting you to take care of Molly and the apartment while I'm gone."

"Of course," I murmur. "How soon is 'soon'?"

"Another few days."

I'm panicking again, if that's what it is. I feel like I'm going to cry now. I don't panic, and I don't cry, so why am I doing both? This isn't like me. I hang my head.

He heaves a long sigh. "You should also know I've been in contact with our mutual acquaintance, Mr. Bennet. We're hoping to dismantle the apparatus that has kept so many under surveillance for so long."

This brings me out of myself. I squint. "Wait, what?"

"The company." His jaw is set. "We're going to bring it down."

I can't help it. The first word out of my mouth is "You?"

"I'm in a unique position." He leans toward me. "Matt," he says. "I'm doing this for Molly."

God, his eyes are captivating. I can't fight such eyes.

"You'd be doing it for me, too," I say, laughing a little under my breath. "I showed you this, didn't I?" And I reach under my collar to show him the marks. He gasps.

"They tracked me, too. Kidnapped me. I was gone for three days. My wife thought--"

I catch my breath. I said it so naturally. I'd been so OK with the whole thing. She's gone. We lost each other somewhere and we agreed to move on. But old habits die hard, and words come quicker than thoughts sometimes.

"That's the other thing," he jumps in. "I don't want you to feel badly about what happened earlier. I understand you were feeling grateful, and I appreciate the sentiment."

There's a small, sardonic smile on his face, and it's both handsome as hell and infuriating. I want to squash those cheeks between my palms and kiss that stupidly brave expression away. Why does everyone think they have to protect me?

That's it. I'm done with playing the invalid. To hell with it.

"I told you," I say firmly. "It wasn't gratitude. Well, it was, but..." I sigh. "Not just gratitude. Mohinder, you're kind of amazing. You take care of this kid, and you're going to go up against that company of theirs, and you're sitting around worrying about how I feel about having kissed you? I feel like kissing you right now!"

And then the nausea and confusion come rocketing back, but it's different this time. I finally get it. They aren't panic attacks. The reason I've been having this insane vertigo is because the feelings aren't mine. They're his. I can feel his emotions.

That's something new. Didn't know I could do that.

In other words, he was the one who was excited and nervous when we kissed. He was the one who was feeling that rush of desire when I first sat down. And he was the one who was ready to burst into tears at the thought of leaving.

Now the vertigo is gone and I just sit there feeling his confusion and feeling my heart lurch from not knowing what to do about it. "Why are you so confused?" I say. "I told you how I feel. You can say yes or no. But I kind of already know."

He avoids my gaze. "You haven't been here a day, and there's so much to be concerned about," he says halfheartedly.

I can't help myself. I touch his face. His skin is warm under my palm. So smooth. "Then shouldn't we stop worrying about this and just go with it?" I plead. "Come on, Mohinder, have some balls!"

Oh, my God, did I just say that?

I blush beet red, but he bursts out laughing. It's the first time I've seen him laugh. It's infectious. His laughter fills the small room and it's like soap bubbles flying off the ceiling, turning everything rainbow colors and shining, luminescent and wonderful. I laugh, too, although my chest still hurts when I do. This is an amazing moment. Happiness is here, in this tiny little room with this man's laughter. And when I realize that, it's no longer a laughing matter.

So I grab him by the shoulder. His voice fades to nothing in an instant. Before he can think, before he can run, I've got my other arm around him and we're pressed together, chest to chest, hip to hip on the couch. Breathing into each other's mouths. I've got to close that gap between us. I've got to. I can't stop myself.

The kiss is brief, but it's wonderful.

He's gasping a little when we part, and his eyes are locked on mine.

"Don't tell me you don't want this," I say.

"I won't," he breathes.

We kiss again, and I'm burning up with lust.

"But the implications, Matt, you're living here and what I'm going to be doing and Molly and..."

That's it. I shut him up.

This time, he moans a little into my mouth. Struggles. Pushes me away. "Matt, you're not far past your divorce and..."

"And you're leaving town in a few days." I scowl at him. "How much more time do you want to waste talking?"

He murmurs something that sounds foreign and possibly obscene under his breath. His hand is on the back of my neck pulling me in. And that's when I discover that Mohinder Suresh has some balls after all.

It's my first night in my new home and I sit on my bed with the taste of a man's kiss on my lips and the feel of a little girl's hand on my fingertips. The gardenias look silver in the dim light, like shimmering metal badges.

I feel like thunderstorms are rumbling in the distance. I can tell already that this is not going to be easy. He's going away. She has nightmares. I've got a long road ahead of me, physical therapy and recovery and trying to get back on my feet. The cobwebs might never clear entirely.

But the flowers and the feel and the taste that linger in my senses are points of clarity I can hold onto when those storms roll in. Reminders that someday the skies will clear and I'll have another day of happiness like I did today.

Until then, I'll just be brave.

A Troop of Rogue Trained Monkeys from LJ's Search: MattMo Yay!hanuueshe on August 14th, 2008 08:52 pm (UTC)


This is just- so emotinoal and powerful OMG I can totally see why you got all choked up writing this.

And, and, and Balls! *dies again from the lolz*
Tiptoe39tiptoe39 on August 14th, 2008 08:53 pm (UTC)

:do not ask me why, but i have adopted this as my catchphrase:

thank you so much. i really am pleased that the emotion came through as powerfully as it did. tho i still hate the ending, b/c i hate all endings. hah.
plotbunny_tiffplotbunny_tiff on August 14th, 2008 09:14 pm (UTC)
Congrats. You are on my Top 3 list of "Fanfic Writers I Most Want To Kidnap And Force To Write Exclusively For My Benefit"

But don't worry. I won't pull a "Misery", hobbling you so you can't escape. Unless you force my hand. [/creepy]

The gardenias look silver in the dim light, like shimmering metal badges.

Oh dearest darlingest Tippy. How do you do this to me every time? It made me so wooshy-woobly and happy. Thank you ^_^
Tiptoe39: squeetiptoe39 on August 14th, 2008 09:48 pm (UTC)
Eee hee hee! This comment fills me with glee! GLEE, I tell you!!!!! :squees like mad:

If you ever want me to write for you please just tell me what! You can be my Kathy Bates any day!!

And wooshy-woobly is now officially word of the day. :D
lea1-santomelea1santome on August 14th, 2008 09:33 pm (UTC)
Matt and Mohinder, his first kiss, second, third ...

Lindo and beautiful.

Matt feeling what he feels Mohinder.

Matt y Mohinder, su primer beso, el segundo, el tercero...

Lindo y bello.

Matt sintiendo lo que siente Mohinder.
Tiptoe39tiptoe39 on August 14th, 2008 09:49 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much!! LOVE you for always reading! :hugs: and beautiful icon btw.
jean_bee: spmpjean_bee on August 15th, 2008 03:34 am (UTC)
Why can't I stop smiling? This fic makes me feel so... warm and tingly. I loved this! I have no words. I'm going to go squee like the girl that I am. *runs around the room squeeing*
Tiptoe39: squeetiptoe39 on August 15th, 2008 11:27 am (UTC)
i squee because of your squeeing, and is that south park!matt?!!? frickin adorable!!
(Deleted comment)
Tiptoe39: pridetiptoe39 on August 15th, 2008 11:28 am (UTC)
hee hee! i loved that part. i love thinking of mohinder's laughter as a bunch of soap bubbles. it fills me with glee.

thank you sweetie for the nice comment and for always reading! it's so appreciated! :D
saavikam77: Matt/Mohinder - Minesaavikam77 on February 1st, 2009 04:03 pm (UTC)
Oh, Matt... so confused and adrift. I love that he realized he was reading Mohinder's emotions, and all that implied. ^_~