Fool Yourself

Fool Yourself

In the hospital, Molly watches Matt sleep, holds his hand and whispers over and over, "Wake up, Officer Parkman. Please, you have to wake up." She chatters away to Mohinder about how Matt saved her life, repeating the story of how he found her so many times Mohinder can almost recite the words along with her. Intellectually, he knows the ritual is a source of comfort for the girl.

But he still can't suppress the stab of jealousy at her devotion. Hadn't he also saved her? Wasn't he supposed to be her hero? Matt pointed a weapon at her. Matt followed a man he didn't even trust on a dangerous mission without asking any questions. Matt ran out to face a telekinetic serial killer with nothing but a gun and an absurd sense of chivalry.

You're a fool, Officer Parkman. I was one too once upon a time, and I can tell you it won't come to any kind of good end.

Molly wants Matt to live with them. Like he's a stray pet that followed her home. Mohinder is instinctively opposed to the idea. Of course, when he assesses the situation, he does realize it's an admirable solution. Parkman's marriage is over. That's painfully obvious to everyone down to the hospital orderlies. The man has no job or prospects for employment awaiting him in California, as his soon-to-be-ex-wife eagerly shared. Why not ask him to stay? This mission of Bennett's will likely take Mohinder away from home often and Molly trusts him.

When he broaches the subject, Mohinder tries not to be annoyed by Matt's hurt expression.

"Thanks, Doc. I love being nothing more than a source of free dependable child care."

He doesn't have time to comfort and soothe Matt's ruffled ego. He has to focus on Molly. She is the only thing that matters to him. Does the man want him to lie? They aren't even friends and Matt has no other options. He should be grateful.

Hurt feeling aside, Matt's a realist and eventually is won over, more by Molly's begging than anything else Mohinder suspects.

It's a difficult adjustment. As much as Mohinder worships Molly, being thrust into the role of parent without any forewarning is difficult. But he loves Molly. She's a sweet innocent little girl who has survived a traumatic experience. Any awkwardness is more than worth it.

Matt on the other hand…Matt is so very there. All the time. Roughhousing with Molly despite Mohinder's warnings about being careful of pulling his stitches, loudly singing in the shower, constantly asking inane questions while he tries to work. The man seems to be allergic to silence.

And then there are Matt's powers. Mohinder still feels a wave of panic at the idea of Matt looking in his head, even knowing he can't understand Tamil. His personal space has been invaded, he's forced to share Molly, and even his very thoughts are no longer his own.

He does have to give Matt some credit. He did confess all the moment the topic of cohabitation was brought up.

"I try not to hear, but I'm not always so good at controlling it. It bothered Janice a lot. I'll try as hard as I can, but I just want to warn you."

He'd shrugged and refused to meet Mohinder's gaze, looking for all the world like a puppy who expected a newspaper across the nose.

It's an apt comparison Mohinder finds. Eager, rather dim, desperate for any kind of approval or affection, adored by children who don't notice the messes left behind.

The first time Mohinder sees Matt as more than just an annoyance is the night before his first trip on behalf of Bennett.

Matt is his usual jovial self during Mohinder's impromptu going away party, but the moment Molly's asleep it's like a switch has been turned on and the man is absolutely furious.

"Are you insane? Bennett held me against my will for three days! Bennett was willing to kill Molly! If he's your idea of one of the good guys what the fuck are you going to do when you meet the really bad people?"

"I'm doing this for Molly and you know it! Don't ever doubt how much I love that girl!"

Matt crowds him against the kitchen counter, face a dark cloud and hands clenched at his sides. "If you love Molly so much, why are you so eager to skip out? What the hell kind of parenting is that?" he hisses.

Mohinder is terrified. Not that Matt is going to hurt him, although there is a part of him that whispers about how little he actually knows the man, berating himself for welcoming another stranger into his home without thinking of the consequences.

No, he's terrified because he realizes Matt could take Molly away from him. Leave at any moment and there would be nothing he could do about it. Who is he to stop it? He isn't even a citizen. Matt is an American, a cop, and he saved Molly's life. No family court judge would hesitate.

Once again, Mohinder is powerless. It's not a sensation he relishes.

He obsesses over this horrible realization during his entire flight. It doesn't take him long to come to a decision. Matt is a simple man with simple needs. He just has to make Matt need him.

Once he comes to this conclusion, there is a sort of calm. He has assessed the situation from all angles. He has come up with a solution that while not particularly admirable, is most pragmatic. Now he just needs to set it into motion.

Mohinder's not an innocent, far from it. He's had lovers in the past, both men and women. He knows he's attractive, but more than that he knows Matt is attracted to him. Even during the worst of their rows, he's seen Matt's gaze sliding over him, noticed Matt start to reach out to touch his skin and think better of it.

He slept with Sylar as Zane because he'd foolishly thought himself in love with the other man and he'd lost almost everything. What was left of his innocence, his sense of safety, his self-respect. Everything except his life and that's only in the most clinical definition of the word. Molly is the only bright spot for him, the one thing keeping him going, and he will not lose her as well.

Mohinder wastes no time in putting his plan into action. After he's finished his nightly talks with Molly, he asks her to pass the phone on to Matt. Listens to the man babble about studying for his detective's exam and mouths the proper words of encouragement. Whispers how he can't wait to be home. He never comes out and says that he misses Matt, but he leaves the implication clear. When he returns from his trip, he presents Matt with a hand tooled leather case for his badge.

"For after you pass your exam with flying colors." He makes a point of touching Matt when he hands him the gift, looks up at him through the fringe of his lashes. Matt is almost obscene in his gratitude and it's all Mohinder can do to keep from rolling his eyes.

The final stage of the plan occurs after Molly's gone to bed.

Mohinder knocks on Matt's door.

"Matt, may I…may I come in?"

He's planned this all out so carefully, but that doesn't stop the sudden rush of nerves, which make his voice catch. He hopes to Matt's ears it sounds shy and breathless. If this were reality, he wouldn't hesitate at all, but he thinks Matt is the type to be more responsive to him if he's a little unsure.

"I've seen you…watching me. I thought…maybe-that is to say, when I was gone I thought of you often and I thought…maybe…" He looks down and away, momentarily unable to believe he's actually going through with this idiotic charade. But Matt takes it for being overwhelmed by emotion, or embarrassment, or some other such idiocy and immediately folds, predictably enough.

The first kiss is slightly overwhelming. Matt is desperate, holds him tight enough to bruise and then apologizes profusely for it. He's like a starving man and the intensity of it scares Mohinder a little.

Go with it. Can't back out now, give him what he wants. If he's starving then feed him.

Matt's obviously nervous. He's almost trembling as Mohinder pulls the other man's shirt from his waist band.

"I've never done this before, you know."

Of course, you haven't. You were happy with your wife and your white picket fence lie. And when you're happy, you don't want to think about what you're missing out on. Like cock.

Mohinder takes his hand and smiles patiently.

"That's alright. I'll show you."

It's somewhat enjoyable. Matt stares at him the whole time, awestruck, so very careful and gentle. It's too much for Mohinder and he snaps impatiently, "Harder! Fuck me, Matthew. For heaven's sake, I'm not going to break."

He wants Matt to leave marks. After all, if he's going to be a whore, he might as well have something to show for it.

Matt's clearly surprised by the outburst, but does as told. He fucks Mohinder into the mattress and comes with a loud moan. Mohinder tries to take some sort of dim pride in Matt's grunts and groans of approval. A job well done.

He worries he's possibly offended the other man, but Matt just pulls him close afterwards and buries his nose in Mohinder's hair.

"It's okay. Janice--I didn't ever know how unhappy Janice was until it was too late. You being honest is a good thing. I want you to always be able to talk to me."

He's slightly horrified at being compared to Matt's wife, but this is offset by an odd sense of triumph. He's got him.

After Matt falls asleep, Mohinder crawls out from underneath the bigger man and almost sprints to the shower. On his way to bed, he peeks in on Molly. She's sleeping like an angel. He kisses her forehead and goes to his own bed but doesn't get any rest.

Over the next few weeks, they fall into something resembling a routine. All in all, it's not a terrible existence.

Matt's thankfully fairly straightforward in his tastes. Simple pleasures for a simple man. He's neither the best nor the worst sex Mohinder's ever had. To his surprise and slight embarrassment, one evening after a particularly extended trip, Mohinder even comes before Matt. That night, he stays with Matt the entire evening, but regrets it the next morning. He tells the other man they'll have to be more careful, best not to confuse Molly when things are still so new.

Of course, it's more for Mohinder's own sake than anything. He's playing a dangerous game and he refuses to complicate things further by starting to believe his own lies.

When he's traveling, they talk on the phone every night. Matt's still uncertain about their relationship, so conversation never gets more heated than whispering about how much he misses Mohinder and how big the bed seems without him. It leaves Mohinder profoundly grateful. He's not sure he'd be able to keep from laughing if Matt began panting and moaning across the phone line.

When he's home they both go about their ordinary day to day activity, and then during dinner there will be the touch of a hand or prolonged eye contact and Mohinder will know to go to Matt's room that night.

It's all so oddly compartmentalized that sometimes he almost forgets. He'll be looking at Matt and suddenly remember, This is the man I'm sleeping with. He thinks we're in a relationship and I'm not even certain I like him.

Of all of it, the sex is actually the least offensive aspect.

As the weeks turn into months, Matt demands more of his time than just what goes on in the bedroom. He'll spread his files out at the kitchen table so that they can work together. Insist Mohinder join him for whatever mindless television show he's watching. Brings home little gifts for Mohinder, tins of his favorite tea, flowers, fresh coconut milk. One night Matt attempts to cook dinner and almost burns the apartment to the ground.

After difficult cases, Mohinder holds Matt's hand and listens to him pour out all of his frustrations. Railing at God or whatever higher power allows bad things to happen to good people, at the suspect, at the unfairness of society and the criminal justice system as a whole, lather, rinse, repeat. Nothing profound or earthshaking, nothing that hasn't been said before by wiser men for hundreds of years.

Mohinder worries this is the part of the charade that's going to truly drive him mad. This parody of domestic bliss that Matt so desperately craves.

After the debacle with Matt's father, Mohinder almost lets it slip. He bites his tongue near bloody to keep from screaming at the other man, berating him for his weakness.

Idiot. You're an idiot, Matthew Parkman. You want to forgive him. You still want him to be your father. You still want there to be some other explanation besides you just not being good enough. How can you trust so blindly? How can you still possibly love anyone? Don't you know you're being made a fool of?

Of course, he never gets the chance because immediately after, his own weakness makes reappearance as well.

After Sylar, Mohinder has nightmares of his own almost every night.

Nightmares about pain and blood and betrayal. Nightmares of Zane. Kissing him, holding him, whispering all his secrets (stupid, so stupid, how could he have been so stupid?)

Nightmares where Sylar watches dispassionately as Mohinder lets Matt fuck him.

"Does it make it better for you if you tell yourself you're just doing all this for her?"

Mostly, he has nightmares about being alone. Coming home one day to an empty apartment, all traces of Matt and Molly gone.

Just as he does with Molly, Matt insists on staying and comforting him. Mohinder elects not to fight him on it. They're lovers after all; it's what he's supposed to do, isn't it? So he lays there, lets Matt rest a heavy hand on his back, run his fingers through his hair, and promise it will all be better in the morning.

It's a naïve sentiment and they both know it isn't true, but he actually does sleep better with Matt next to him.

Over time, Matt staying the night after one of his nightmares evolves into simply staying every night. Without any real discussion on the matter, Matt's possessions slowly migrate into Mohinder's closet, his watch and badge onto their shared dresser.

Once again, Mohinder sees no reason to argue over this development. It makes Molly happy imagining them all as a family and from the beginning this has always been about keeping Molly happy.

And he is sleeping better.

One night he comes home to an apartment that is far too quiet. Molly is nowhere to be found and her backpack and lunch box aren't where they should be. It's enough like one of his dreams to steal the air from his lungs. Except for the fact that Matt is waiting for him at the kitchen table.

"She's sleeping over at a friend's house."

A sleep over. Matt didn't discuss this with him. There was no call about it and Molly hadn't mentioned it this morning. Mohinder's insides turn to ice, but he does his best to smile. It feels brittle on his face.

"Did you want a romantic evening for just the two of us, Detective? I didn't forget an important anniversary, did I? Or is this just because you love me?'

He moves in to kiss the other man, but Matt turns away.

"You know, when Janice and I first got together, I must have asked myself ten times a day how I got so lucky, what she ever saw in me. With you, I must have asked the same thing twenty times a day. Thirty maybe. It took me awhile to figure it all out. You're that good."

"Matthew, I-"

He doesn't even know what he intends to say, but he feels like he has to attempt to say something because Matt is so eerily calm.

"Shut up."

It's just a whisper, but Mohinder hears the words echo in the too silent apartment like a gun shot.

"I was crazy about you, Doc. You were so sexy and classy and smart. Man, I could listen to you talk for hours even though I didn't understand half of what it was you said. I was the luckiest bastard on the planet. A big dumb cop like me getting to go to bed with you every night? Too bad you started to slip. You talk in your sleep, Mohinder."

Matt looks him right in the eye and Mohinder feels like a butterfly pinned to the wall. He can't move at all except for the barest trembling of his hands.

"Not out loud, I mean. Just the occasional snatches, but enough that I could catch on. Enough that I started to really wonder what you were getting out of all this. Molly. You would do all this to keep Molly. Keep me distracted, keep me happy, so I wouldn't skip out with what was yours."

Matt suddenly stands up and Mohinder finds himself backing for the door.

"It must have disgusted you, letting me fuck you, saying all those nice things to me, making me think you loved me. I bet you must've felt all kinds of dirty."

It's all falling apart. Mohinder can see it shattering right before his eyes. Part of him wonders if Molly is even at a friend's house, maybe Matt's already hidden her away somewhere he'll never find her. The hug she gave him this morning might be the last time he ever sees her.

"At first I did. Then I just began to think of it as another job. A task to get through. You'd be surprised what you can put up with given the proper incentive." His voice is flat and cold. Matt may have won, but he can still hurt him. He hasn't observed him all these months without learning Matt's weaknesses.

Matt closes the distance between them in the blink of an eye. Once again, Mohinder finds himself cornered against the counter by the other man.

And once again, he's terrified. Even more so than before. Matt's bigger than him, Matt's stronger than him, and Matt is very, very angry and capable of things Mohinder can't imagine.

Matt doesn't hit him. Doesn't even touch him. Merely tilts his head and stares as if examining some strange zoo creature.

"Are you really this fucked up?"

Matt sounds confused, almost sad. Mohinder hears the question as if from a great distance.

"Yes, actually I am. But I wouldn't get too self righteous. You've suspected for who knows how long and never turned me away. What does that say about you?"

Matt laughs, a harsh ugly sound like nothing Mohinder's ever heard from him before and throws out his arms.

"Hey, I've got living the borrowed life down to an art form. I never claimed to be a saint and you suck a mean cock, Mohinder."

He leans in, mouth close to Mohinder's ear, his voice a raspy whisper.

"Joke's on you, though. I never would have taken her away from you. Even now, I still won't. She worships you. I could never hurt her like that. God, I was so far gone on you, ever since the first time I woke up to find you in my hospital room. I would have stayed here forever even if you never looked at me. So, congratulations. You whored yourself out for nothing."

Matt steps back and Mohinder has to grab the counter to keep from falling over. He feels sick to his stomach, his ears are ringing and he's light headed

He had carefully observed, assessed the situation from every possible angle, come up with a plan, and followed through to the letter.

And he'd been completely, utterly wrong.

Misjudged things on a grander scale than he'd ever thought possible.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…

That night he lies in his bed and marvels at the mess he's made of everything.

Matt will keep his word. Mohinder knows it. He'll be unfailingly polite when Molly is present, but the anger will always be there hovering just beneath the surface. Molly, intelligent girl that she is, will pick up on the change in dynamics. She's going to be hurt and confused. If it comes down to her best interest, Mohinder will have to leave. There's no other option. He's eyeball deep in Company intrigue and he's already proven to be a liability when it comes to her safety.

All of this begun with the intention of keeping her and now he's lost his bright haired little girl entirely on his own.

Mohinder thinks of Matt who brought him odd little gift to remind him of home, Matt who held him after his nightmares, Matt who touched him as if he were made of glass. Could he have loved Matt? If Sylar hadn't gotten to him first, twisted him all up inside, might he have fallen for Matt? Ask him six months ago, and he would have said no in an instant. Now he's unsure.

How can he ever be sure of anything again?

After all, he and Matt shared a bed for months and it turned out he didn't know the other man at all.

Molly is home from her sleepover the next day, at least for now oblivious to the tension in the tiny apartment.

Mohinder can't bear to touch her, worried the dirt under his skin will rub off on her.

The nightmares return as he expected them to.

He holds the pillow that still smells of Matt and tries for once in his life not to think so much.