Disclaimer: Heroes belongs to NBC and is the creation of Tim Kring. Hiro Nakamura and all other characters who appear here or are mentioned are not mine; they are only borrowed for the purposes of the story. Note: Written for the 2007 What IF? AU Promptathon #30: Hiro is instutionalized for claiming to be able to teleport.

"Are You or Have You Ever Been?" by Karen

The last thing that had been able to recall from the moment they reached the casino's ground level was the confrontation with half a dozen dark-suited men who had then demanded they turn over the suitcase full of money that Ando had won gambling.

Hiro would have been more than happy to give it to them. His English improved considerably, even so, this situation was a tad out of his depth. That being the case it made sese for Ando to insist on negotiating for them both.

Perhaps this mess was just another example of what he had been telling Ando all along, heroes were meant to use their powers to help people, not use his powers for personal gain. After all if he had learned anything from a childhood spent reading comic books, that was certainly a very important lesson.

The results had been less than stellar and the entire time in the back of his mind Hiro could not help thinking that this first foray into his super-heroing career was not going according to plan.

He suddenly recalled the minor debate that they had had over the merits of using his powers for personal gain, and how that went against his ideas of what a hero should do. That was all very well and good, in theory, it simply was unfortunate that it was not working in real life.

Hiro's innate optimism had kept him going despite the various setbacks that had presented themselves.

The man held up his arm straight out from his body with his fists curled around the smooth barrel of the shotgun, pressed on the trigger and the bullet hurtled toward where they stood half down and half off the bottom steps.

At once he attempted to block out all other external distractions, heat, light, noise, and any thought of what might happen if that bullet were to connect with its intended target.

All his concentration should be focused on making the bullet's trajectory stop or push it aside by force of will alone. The muscles of his face clenched and with his eyes closed, he willed his powers to bend space and time to come into play.

When he could breath again and let his concentration relax, Hiro let out a whoosh of relief; whatever happened when his powers worked, had done the trick. Time in at the base of the stairwell had stopped; at least as far as their attackers were concerned; they were free to leave.

Ando tugged at his arm and they both mad a run for the nearest exit while they the opportunity offered itself.

In the back of his mind, Hiro thought, 'This is not the adventure I had in mind. It is definitely not going very well. Now, what exactly do I about it?'

He recalled how the men in the white coats had approached him and demanded that he come with them, it had simply seemed like another notch in their latest run of bad luck.

At present he could not remember exactly how he and his friend, Ando, had become separated.

The experts refer to that missing part of his memories as a gap, they say he has temporary global amnesia.

'Whatever that is," Hiro sighed as he summoned up the energy to engage is his daily tai-chi exercises that he had done as part of his daily ritual along with his fellow office workers in Japan.

However it was not quite the same when he was all alone in an unfamiliar place.

Hiro Nakamura did not believe in luck, good or bad, but Ando did. Hiro would prefer to call the mission that he is embarked on, destiny; unfortunately these people did not seem inclined to believe him at the moment.

Much of what occurred in the last few weeks is now a gray blur; much like the faces and voice of the American doctors and specialists, and mental health workers that occupy his time between sleeping and waking in the big white rubber room.

It might be the language barrier, or it might be the drugs they've pumped into his system, but he remembered the girl he met at the Fly by Night diner, Charlie, that was her name; and he can recall asking for both of them in his more lucid moments.

His destiny kept becoming derailed, but then something or someone would come along and put it firmly back on track once more.

The doctor came to get him and bring him to the room that Hiro had begun to think of as the "Q and A" room, as they walked through the corridors, passing other rooms that from the outside appeared to be an exact match for his own.

However, the occupant of this particular room apparently had refused to reconcile her or himself to his present situation.

The warders, big, burly men in white lab coats and the tall, thin doctor and the kind-looking nurses could be heard alternately struggling and pleading with this patient to calm down, to take their medications.

In between their voices he could her a woman's voice that Hiro, discovered, when he concentrated, that sounded vaguely familiar, but then by this time he had been hearing quite a few voices, some familiar and some not, what was one more or less? Hiro shook his head to clear it of the inevitable cobwebs and kept walking down the corridor to the session room where the doctors asked their questions.

Thought this particular session and the previous ones they relayed their questions through a Japanese interpreter they had called in for the purpose even though he had repeatedly told them that his English was much improved.

Hiro had more or less become accustomed to his stay at the mental hospital, although he never became quite convinced that this was for his own good and he desperately wanted access to his cell phone, if nothing else to have contact to the real world and be able to speak to Ando.

"Good afternoon, Hiro. My name is Doctor Massina, and how are we feeling today?"

"I am fine. May I speak to my friend, Ando Masahashi today?"

Doctor Massina paused and thought over his next remark: "At least, we have been unable to find anyone by that name so far from our contacts within the Japanese embassy, but rest assured they are working on it."

"Yes, there is, I came to Las Vegas with him, you have my cell phone, his number is recorded into the phone's memory. Hero shook his head again, this time in frustration. "It is important that I speak with him. I cannot believe he would simply go back to Japan without me."

"If I may ask, what exactly is your relationship with Mr. Masahashi?"

"We are friends and co-workers," Hiro replied.

"I see, and where did you work?"

"In an office, in Tokyo."

"Do you know why you are here?"

"No, but I suspect that you will tell me." said Hiro hopefully, sensing that somehow here was someone who might help him leave the hospital and carry on with his mission.

"Because your family is concerned about your mental health, word has reached us that you have been travelling about, in company of your friend, Ando. You have also made numerous claims that you have the ability to teleport." The doctor reached up and removed the pen from behind his ear and began ticking off boxes on the clipboard resting on the table in front of where he sat across from Hiro. "Let me see, it says here, that you say you have the power to 'bend space and time', is that essentially correct, Mr. Nakamura?"

"Yes." Hiro sighed, and wondered if it would do any good to press his claim, because during the hours he had been left alone in his room, he had ample time to think over if how his story would sound to all of these people.

Hiro had long since come to the conclusion that among all the patients in the hospital, he was the only clinically sane one there, so if the logic followed, there was essentially no good reason why they should continue to keep him locked up.

"In my thirty plus years of experience in the field of psychiatry and mental health," Doctor Massina paused and then added, "I must say, Mr, Nakamura, that is a first.

"Are you implying that I'm making it up!" Hiro said, somewhat taken aback that he might not be believed or even that his story might be construed as a lie, he felt a twinge at the back of his neck and felt a sudden drop in his stomach, and he suddenly lapsed back into his native language. When he realized what had happened, Hiro blushed furiously, glanced at Dr, Massina and sat back down in his chair. "I am sorry, I do not know what came over me. Please, continue."

"I don't mean to say that I think you are lying about this, soothed Dr. Massina, I just have to go through the motions, there is a procedure for everything, you understand?"

"Of course.

Dr. Massina suddenly placed the pen and clipboard back on the table, reached up and rubbed his eyes with the backs of his hands. "It's been a long day, Mr. Nakamura."

"Please, call me, Hiro.

"Hiro, I could wish that all of the cases assigned to me here were as cooperative and easy to talk with as you." He stopped rubbing his eyes. "That being said, truth to tell, Hiro, I want to believe you, and you know something that is a terrible and wonderful thing for someone in my position to even think let alone say aloud."

"You want to believe me?" Hiro gasped, a sudden flickering of hope that had begun to go out yet had never been completely extinguished lit up Hiro's black eyes. He leaned forward in his chair and put his elbows on the table, holding eye contact with the doctor.

"Yes, I do. Dr. Massina reached forward and snapped off the recording button on the tape recorder that had rested beside the clipboard. " I a doctor, but I'm also a human being, and I must admit to a certain amount of curiosity. Can you really do what you claim?"

"Yes, but it's been a little 'off'," Hiro replied.

"Can you show me?"

"Why?" Hiro demanded, wondering at the sudden turn around, the man sounded a little too eager to believe him, and wondered if there might be something more behind his words.

As he thought over some of things that had been said, along with the more pointed questions that had been asked, Hiro came to a sudden realization.

Someone beyond his own experiences, more people than just Ando and all of those they had met already, such as Charlie, and the man who could fly, what was his name again? Oh yes, Nathan Petrelli, and the woman in Las Vegas, and the painter that could foresee the future in New York, and that white woman that Ando had been fond of; knew about his powers, and their own.

That being the case the only other person who would have connections in high places, or have been able to pull the right strings, to use an American cliché, would have been his father, but how would have known where to find him and more importantly why send him to a mental institution when he could have just as easily demand that his wayward and possibly crazy son return home to Tokyo instead?

It was a disturbing and distinct possibility and one that Hiro would much prefer to ignore. So he squashed the notion and pushed it conveniently to another part of his mind while he concentrated on trying to move from his where he sat to the door without actually getting up and moving.

'Small steps first, then we work on the big one, getting out of here, finding Ando and continuing with our mission. Concentrate, that's it," he thought to himself, and before he knew, after he had opened his eyes he was standing on the other side of the door, looking in at the face of a very surprised but smiling Dr. Massina. "It worked, amazing."

"I thought so, too," Hiro replied as he walked back into the session room grinning from ear to ear. "So, will you be letting me go now?"

"If you can really bend time and space, I won't have to, will I, Hiro, but I'll need to do some checking first, fill out the appropriate paperwork, but," The other man smiled. "The short answer, is yes, you can go."

"Thank you, thank you," Hiro replied as he leaned forward in his chair reached out with both hands and pumped the other man's hands up and down in sheer relief and released tension that up until now Hiro Nakamura had not even realized that he had been holding all this time.

"Good luck to you, Hiro," Dr. Massina replied, "I have a distinct feeling you are going to need it."