The second after the heavy gate swung shut, Matt leaned against the wall and slid onto the ground. He studied the mark on his arm with interest. Human teeth made an interesting sort of bite, for all that the creature that had given it to him had been anything but human. It wasn't bleeding so much as oozing blood, but that didn't really matter; it's not the blood loss that will kill him now, is it?
"Stop looking so horrified," Mohinder snapped at him. "We have no way of knowing where or not the virus is spread through their bites. We have no way of knowing if there even is a virus."
"I don't know Mohinder," Matt replied, detached. "All the zombie movies I've ever seen are pretty clear on this point."
"Yes," Mohinder sneered. "Because zombie movies are clearly such wonderful places to obtain information about whether or not to end your life."
"Well the certainly got the 'destroy the brain' part down pat," Matt retorted.
Mohinder glared at him. Matt glared right back. This entire trip had been one big disaster from the start: granted, the fact that it wasn't really a trip so much as a hasty and not too well thought out flight from the Company and Sylar and anyone else who wanted control over the three of them had sort of made disasters prerequisite. But really, wasn't being in Madras in the middle of a heat wave enough? Or how about Mohinder's mother hating him on sight- wasn't that enough to balance them out karmatically? What about Molly's "boyfriend", who she'd never actually met in really life but apparently talked to her in her dreams and lived close enough to here the she snuck out to visit him at night when he wasn't looking? Really, that wasn't enough?
Apparently not, because, zombies. At least the Suresh house- more of an estate really- was built like a fortress. Nice thick walls, nice lockable gate, nice everything, really. Why the fuck had they been living in that shithole of an apartment when Mohinder's family was clearly rolling in it?
Not that it really matters, anyway, as he's going to die and all.
"Listen, it's a lot safer this way," he says quietly. "If I turn into one of those things, it's very likely that I could kill you or Molly. Or your mom."
The last sentence had come a few beats too late to actually be sincere, but Mohinder didn't notice. "You're not killing yourself. And I'm not doing the deed for you. We're going to dump as much anesthetic on that bite as I can find, and I'm going to keep you under observation. End of story."
"Mohinder!" Molly called from the steps.
"I told you to stay inside!"
"You said to stay in the house. I'm in the house!" she protested. "But anyway, I found something! About the zombies!"
"Can't we call them something else?" Mohinder pleaded. "Anything else?"
"Like what?" Molly asked. Before Mohinder could respond- probably with something along the lines of 'mobile deceased'- she continued. "Never mind that, come see!"
She disappeared back inside; Mohinder turned to him with a stern look and a held out his hand.
"Fine," Matt huffed, taking it and heaving himself up to his feet. "But when I turn into one of them, I'm eating your brain first."
One of the weirdest things about his little family- and there were quite a lot of weird things about his family- was watching Molly grow up, from being Ms. Walker, to being "Ms. Walker-Parkman-Suresh, Walkmanesh is okay for short, I know three last names is a bit of a mouthful". It was a slow process that sort of snuck up on him; one minute she was drawing creepy-assed eyes on the margins of her homework and pinning away for Mohinder's cooking, then next, Mohinder was waving a pink and orange striped shirt under his nose, berating him for putting it in his pile because it very obviously wasn't one of his, his didn't have lace, and how the hell had he managed to pass on his abysmal cooking skills to Molly anyway? She'd tried making a grilled cheese sandwich and now the entire kitchen smelled like burnt tuna fish, a feat which could surely only be accomplished with chef Parkman genes.
She had spread out a map all over the foyer- or maybe it was an entrance hall. Heck, it could have been the mudroom for all Matt knew- and colored in a squiggly sort of mass centering around the section of Madras about half a mile to the north.
"This," Molly began, in a very Mohinder-ish tone of voice. "Is what I found when I looked for a zombie. A zombie. Singular."
"Okay..." Matt said slowly, sure he was missing something.
By contrast, Mohinder's face lit up. "Like when you looked for an ant? Or a termite?"
"Exactly!" Molly cried, grinning madly- it looked a bit like his own grin, Matt realized suddenly. Huh. When'd that happen? "That suggests that there's some sort of hive mind connecting them- maybe some type of overriding intelligence?"
"That would be a plausible working theory," Mohinder says, squatting next to him. "I take it that you'd extend that hypothesis to assume that an evolved human is responsible for this?"
"Well, yeah," Molly said, her tone change swiftly from explaining scientist to impertinent teenager. "What else could it be?"
"A virus?" Matt suggested pointedly. Mohinder sent him a scathing look.
"I don't suppose you saw any T-virus vials while you were still working for the Company?" Molly asked dryly. "Perhaps on loan from Umbrella Corp?"
"That...sounds familiar," Mohinder frowned. "Which movie was that from?"
"The Resident Evil series," Molly answered promptly. "You know, with the woman who looks like Niki?"
"Oh, that's right," Mohinder confirmed. "but in answer to your question, the only virus I ever heard mentioned was the Shanti virus and it's variants. No other kind."
He said that last sentence pointedly. A little too pointedly. Molly sat up with a worried expression on her face, her gaze zeroing in on the rip in Matt's sleeve.
"Matt," she said, sounding strained. "Is that a bite?"
Matt didn't answer. The room filled with the sounds of the undead, groaning miserably less the fifty yards away.
Amma Suresh and Matt had quickly fallen into an unspoken sort of truce; they avoided each other as much as possible, and when they were in the same room, they did their best to ignore the existence of the other, and, failing that, they would be polite and distant and, most importantly, quick.
So it came as a surprise to him when, several hours of scrubbing and disinfecting and yelling and Molly running off to go cry and Mohinder locking him safely in a bathroom with promises of returning with dinner later to chase after her, she showed up in the doorway.
"Um," he said, trying not to sound like a complete uncultured idiot, and likely failing miserably. "I'm not sure if you got the memo, but there's a chance that I might turn into a zombie, so-"
"Mohinder's concerned that you would kill yourself," she interrupted without preamble. "In order to prevent you from becoming a danger to the rest of us."
"Well, that was my first instinct," Matt admitted. "But, I don't know. Maybe Mohinder's right, maybe it's not in the bite. Of course, he dumped so much alcohol on it that whatever caused it is probably dead by now, so..."
"But would you?" she pressed.
"Yeah, of course," Matt answered.
She's skeptical. For a fleeting nanosecond, Matt wanted to spill everything- about his power, about the nightmares he had where it was used against his family, about how close he'd come to making those dreams a reality, about how, more than anything else, he feared returning to that place. But then his common sense caught up with him, reminding him that until a week ago, the woman hadn't know her only son had a family, let alone a super-powered one.
This is apparently what she was looking for, because she left shortly afterwards, locking the door behind her.
Matt woke up around midnight that night by Mohinder bursting into the room.
"She's gone!" the other man cried.
"What? Molly?" Matt asked, instantly awake.
"What? No, no Molly's asleep, I just check on her- but my mother's nowhere to be found."
"Well, give me a heart attack, why don't you?" Matt yelled, annoyed.
"Didn't you hear me? My mother's missing in the midst of a- of a zombie apocalypse!"
"Yeah, I heard you. I just don't see how there's a thing I can do about-"
Suddenly, there was the sound of screaming- wailing, actually- from outside the walls.
"Oh what now?' Mohinder groused, wheeling around and taking off down the hallway. After a second's hesitation, Matt followed him.
Mohinder stopped short on a balcony that overlooked an alleyway on one side of the house, and Matt came up besides him. Below them, the zombies screech in agony, collapsing onto the ground, twitching violently, before finally laying still.
Bare feet padded behind them, and Molly wormed her way between them, watching the scene with her mouth agape.
"How?" Matt asked.
"I don't know," Mohinder answers automatically. Molly, however, furrowed her brow.
"Mohinder?" she began slowly. "What are the chances your mother has an ability?"
The chances are, apparently, very good.
"You're going to need to take these pills twice a day for the next five days," she says matter-of-factly, more or less the second after she walked through the door.
"Okay," Matt said cautiously, taking the proffered bottle. "Thanks?"
"You're welcome," she says firmly. "Now chances are that the Company will have noticed this latest incident-"
"What?" Mohinder asked. His mother sent him a reproving look.
"What?!" he repeated, more forcefully this time.
"Mohinder, dear, I would love to explain this to you, but there simply isn't the time," she soothed. "Now, I assume you know where the Iyers live?"
"Iyer?" Molly asked excitedly. "Like, Sanjog Iyer?"
"Yes," she replied.
"I caught his soccer ball once," Mohinder said, shrugging in a bewildered manner.
"I know where he is," Molly informed them.
"This isn't your boyfriend is it?" Matt asked cautiously.
Molly opened her mouth, but Mrs. Suresh cut her off. "I don't really see how this is relevant."
"If he's dating my daughter it's relevant!" Mohinder protested.
His mother ignored him. "The Iyers can direct you to a man who's specialty is moving people. Once you've got a safe house picked up, he can get you there without there ever being a trace."
Mohinder looked like he was about the say something indignant, but thought better of it. "Thank you," he said, his voice full of strained grace.
"You're welcome," his mother repeated, this time adding a stern look which said, quite plainly, "get the fuck out".
"Let's go pack," Matt suggested.
"Okay!" Molly agreed cheerfully, bounding off to her room.
Mohinder and Matt exchanged looks.
"And you wanted to know why we never took vacations as a family," Mohinder said finally.
"Ha," Matt retorted bleakly. "Well, when we go visit my mother, and you get bitten by a werewolf..."
Mohinder snorted. "Shall we get back to our regularly scheduled running away from the Company bit?"
Matt sighed. "Sure. I've got nothing better to do right now."