Disclaimer: Characters and situations owned by NBC.
Spoilers: Up to 2.04.
Thanks to: Kathy for beta-reading.
Matt believes that Molly's voice was the first that he ever heard in his head.
He knows that in all likelihood, this isn't true. In retrospect, there have been odd occurences before, occasions when he couldn't be sure he was responding to something Janice had said out loud or not, but still, this is how he remembers it. Molly's voice, a little girl's voice, as clear as anything ever heard by his ears, saying the same thing over and over again.
Please don't hurt me.
Fate is a bitch, that's how Audrey would have put it, except that Audrey would have ripped him a new one long before that.
Mohinder, ever the curious scientist, once asked Matt whether telepathic voices sounded the same way spoken voices did. Matt has tried to explain, but he still can't. He heard Molly in his head before seeing her or hearing her actual voice; once she opened her mouth, there had been no doubt in him as to what she would sound like, and so she did. Maybe there would be a difference to someone else, but if so, Matt can't discern it, because his mind tells him what he hears.
When he was losing consciousness with four bullets in his chest, that night at Kirby Plaza, Molly's voice remained with him and kept him going.
Please don't die, Officer Parkman. You're my hero. Please don't die.
To this day, he doesn't know whether she said it out loud or not, and doesn't care.
Something else Mohinder wants to know is whether mental voices sound like something he calls "stream of consciousness". Matt has never read much; it's a constant exercise in painful humiliation for him, the attempts to put letters and words together with the same ease everyone else does, and failing again and again. But Mohinder manages to explain the whole stream of consciousness concept without sounding patronizing and provides some audio books for illustration to boot. Matt listens to an actress reciting Molly Bloom's monologue from Ulysses; then he shakes his head.
"It's different," he says.
The truth is that Janice sounded a lot like that when he went inside her mind, trying to fix their marriage, and the memory makes him uncomfortable. It's all too much, too raw and intimate, and he can't help wondering whether he either should have managed to respond better, or shouldn't have listened at all.
Angela Petrelli uses her mental voice like a precise scalpel. The only other person who came close to doing that was Noah Bennet, both in his own house and at the Company's labs. His thoughts were so very structured and precise, and Matt couldn't help but respond to this; it was like getting a wonderfully logical ladder out of the chaotic swamp his life had been mired in. Matt likes structure, he likes things to make sense, and he guesses he probably likes orders, at least as long as they don't go against his beliefs.
Still, even Bennet couldn't help having a bit of that every day chaos, those murmurs everyone else has in the back of his mind. Mrs. Petrelli, on the other hand, has nothing of the sort, and that is truly extraordinary. After that one thought about revenge, Matt never got anything else from her she didn't intend him to. She doesn't order or provide ladders; on the contrary, he's reminded of an elegant sword cutting off any helpful ropes he tries to throw in her direction.
He wonders whether she could hear him, if he replied, as her younger son had done. But he doesn't dare to ask. Least of all in his mind.
Ever since he lost a day of his life thanks to the Haitian, Bennet and the Company, Matt has been distrustful of his memory. Sometimes he still wakes up and can't immediately remember where he is, why Janice isn't next to him, and he wonders whether it happened again. Then he reaches out, not physically, with his mind, to something, anything, and what he picks up never fails to reassure him that he's where he is meant to be.
"What do dreams sound like?" Mohinder asks once, and Matt says they sound like bad tv reception, something between channels, overlaying voices and noises and no clear images, but that's just half of the truth. There is something unique and instantly recognizable to each person even in dreams, and it feels like humming; no words, just sound. Matt listens, in the dark, and he hears Molly, and Mohinder, and then he goes to sleep again.
In his mind, Ted had kept returning to the death of his wife; an endless loop fed by grief, rage and self-loathing. Matt had tried to keep out ouf Ted's head all the time they were together, which had been one way of training his abilities; but it hadn't always worked. Which was mostly because Matt had listened to the woman when she was dying, had opened himself to her mind completely so he could translate for her husband, and her desperate urgency had burned itself into his memory, so much so that he had felt an echo each time he looked at Ted. Ted is gone now, and Matt hasn't expected to feel it ever again, but fate surprises you that way.
On the one hand, you couldn't imagine two more different people than Nathan Petrelli and Ted Sprague. On the other, Nathan Petrelli has changed since they met in Texas; the brash, commanding presence he had then has become subdued, and when Matt first sees him filling out papers at the police station, the beard is the least thing reminding him of Ted. It's that loop in Petrelli's mind, same loop, that endless circle of emotions, and the only difference is that there is another person at the center of it.
Maybe this is why he tells Nathan Petrelli they need to work together. Sure, Matt needs information on whatever has been going on with the Petrellis and the Nakamuras, and he doesn't think Angela Petrelli will come forward with the truth any time soon. But he remembers Ted losing it at at the Bennet's house, all that grief and rage becoming damn near lethal. Matt is a cop, first and foremost. It's all he ever wanted to be. And maybe he did cheat to become a cop again; maybe Molly was entirely right about that. Still, he wants to be a cop because he wants to serve and protect. He won't make the same mistake again. He'll stick near Nathan Petrelli, and Nathan Petrelli won't harm anyone, neither others nor himself.
Maybe then that echo in Matt's head will finally stop.
"It's okay," were the first words Matt ever said to Molly. "Look, I'm a cop. I'm one of the good guys, okay? I'm not gonna let anybody hurt you."
He said these words out loud. He should have known, then. You can say anything out loud, anything at all.
But it doesn't become true unless you say it in your mind.