Disclaimer: Characters and situations owned by NBC

Thanks to: Kathy for beta-reading.

Spoilers: Up to 2.07 Out of Time


The only game in town

I.

One of the first requests which Mohinder makes once he starts working in the lab they gave him isn't for anything scientific. He asks for Eden McCain's file. It's a test, mostly, and he can't decide which outcome he hopes for: Bob admitting that all the nice speeches were just that, speeches, and that of course Mohinder won't get anything but what they deem useful for their purposes, or Bob playing along and giving him the actual file. What he gets is the file.

He remembers Eden's last words over the phone, the urgency and remorse in her voice, sounding utterly unlike the girl next door she had always been when with him.

Look, I'm not who you think I am. I lied to you, and I'm really sorry. And I'm gonna explain it all to you soon. First, I need to make things right. Starting with killing the man who murdered your father.

There is an autopsy report, but he can't bring himself to read it. Instead, he looks at the start of the file, looking at the photo showing an angry young woman with long hair and a name he doesn't recognize. But then, he probably never knew Eden at all. He looks at her psychological evaluation, the strengths and weaknesses listed, this trait and that trait which will make her a valuable agent noted with a dispassionate clarity, and then he looks at the name of her recruiter: N. Bennet.

Probably lots of Sureshes where you're from. Like Smith. Or Anderson, says Bennet in his memory, the first time they met, and Mohinder remembers getting out of the taxi and running.

II.

He wasn't in love with Eden. At least, he doesn't think so. But she was the first friend he made in this country, and he all but heard her die.

"The power of persuasion", Bennet's notes say, "nihilism resulting in a need for a purpose", "father issues", "strong emotional response to paternal authority figure".

There is a huge portion of the file missing, rather obviously Eden's reports on Mohinder Suresh. When Mohinder asks about those, again half hoping, half fearing Bob would finally take off the velvet glove, Bob just blinks at him behind his glasses and with a tone of mild irritation says:

"Well, Dr. Suresh, Eden's superior had these with him when he… left the Company. You would have to ask him."

Mohinder is far beyond running these days, but his pulse races as if he does, nonetheless. Bob knows. Bob doesn't know. It's a lie, because Bob prefers playing a mind game to saying "do you really expect us to hand over what we have on you?" It's not a lie, and Bennet did have those reports. Still has them.

"You must have felt terribly betrayed," Bob says. "When you found out Ms. McCain was working for us. Don't take it personally, Dr. Suresh. And try not to judge her. Being an operative isn't easy; the constant lies, the difficulty of maintaining emotional distance… and all the while, her handler was obviously going off the rails. According to Isaac Mendez' file, he had her spend her entire time trying to get Mendez to produce more prophecies about his daughter instead of worrying about the larger issues at stake."

"I should get back to my work," Mohinder says, and wonders whether anyone will bother with an autopsy report when he himself is dead. Probably. They need his blood, after all.

"Yes," says Bob amiably. "You should."

III.

The third time Mohinder saw Noah Bennet, Bennet wasn't in the mood for Matrix allusions. Instead, he was pointing a gun at Molly.

" As long as she's alive," he said, "my daughter will never be safe. None of them will."

"You'll take the life of one little girl to save another?"

"If I have to."

"Do you think Bennet would have shot?" Mohinder asks Matt, just a short time before Molly volunteers to find Matt's father and sinks into a coma. "Back when you two came for her. Do you think he'd have shot Molly if you hadn't stopped him?"

Matt, frustrated in his search and still reeling from the revelation his father was Molly's nightmare man, tersely replies: "It's a little late to wonder about that, isn't it?"

IV.

Every time he comes or goes from his apartment, he passes the door to the one where Eden used to live. There is a new occupant now; apartments never stay empty long in New York. Besides, the Company cleaned out all of her possessions when she died. He has seen the inventory list. Mohinder the lizard is not on it, and he wonders whether that means Eden took him with her to Texas, and that his namesake is running around free there now, baking in the sun. Mohinder misses the sun; the New York winter, lingering, with the spring refusing to start is so very cold.

"I miss the sun," Niki Sanders says to him when attempting casual conversation. It's a difficult thing to attempt, given that she has just told him she is his new watchdog, or, as the Company terms it, partner. "I didn't think I'd ever get homesick for Las Vegas, but, well…"

"We all have to make sacrifices," Mohinder says, and the edge in his voice is directed at himself as well as her.

V.

His mother, cajoled to speak at last, remembers Shanti dying in agonizing detail. It's not hard to imagine grieving mothers like her everywhere around the world if the virus really mutates. Mohinder looks at computer print-outs and changing data, and he imagines there is something of the smell of Mendez' paintings still lingering, though that must be his imagination.

An apocalypse, that voice he tries to forget whispers in his memory. They mean nothing. They're innocent. There's no gain, so why would I do it?

Sylar must have been standing in this very room when he made that call, together with Isaac Mendez' dead body.

The future can't be inevitable. There is such a thing as free will. Maybe there aren't any good choices Mohinder can make right now, but he still can make choices, and some of them have to save lives instead of destroy more. They have to.

I need to make things right, Eden told him in her last minutes of life. There are worse resolutions to die for.