Word Count: 1,355
Spoilers: Through 3x04 “I Am Become Death”
Warnings: References to violence and bloodshed
Disclaimer: Heroes is owned by Tim Kring, NBC, et al.
Notes: This takes place in the “I Am Become Death” ‘verse. Written for megmatthews20's day of power as CEO at heroes_exchange.
Summary: Mohinder’s memories are the only thing that remind him of why he’s here.
Mohinder made his way back into the depths of his lab, feeling depression settling over him like a weight. Another day of hard labor, of carefully picking through experiment after experiment, for nothing. No change in any of his subjects, no changes in his test results, no changes at all. For five years he’d been laboring for a cure for those unfortunates that were afflicted with warped versions of the formula, to no avail. It was enough to drive a man to drink, if Mohinder had been the drinking type.
No one would touch him now, not with his horrible reputation as the man who’d changed the world, and not necessarily for the better. No one would even get near him, for he had become so immersed in his work that even the outside world for which he was fighting had faded to a distant, bright memory.
Those memories were the only thing keeping him going, and as the sun set, Mohinder would try to remember. Everything he’d done, everything he hadn’t done, everything he might do, just anything and everything to give him the strength to go on just one more day.
Chandra’s death had been the catalyst for every strange thing that had happened in Mohinder’s life. If he’d been working at his father’s side, could things have gone differently? Could two men, working together, have avoided the academic ridicule that had driven his father to work in such dangerous conditions in New York?
Mohinder could imagine it, Chandra and him working side-by-side in Chennai to crack the secrets of the genetic code that had so eluded his father’s grasp. Or maybe the two of them in a university in New York City, with enough sophisticated equipment and inherent respectability to have safely tested any special. Would his father’s subjects have come more willingly if he hadn’t been working out of an apartment in a bad neighborhood? Could he have gotten his proof sooner? Could he have avoided dying at Sylar’s hands?
If Mohinder had been there, could he have saved his father’s life?
Mohinder remembered reading his father’s notes on Patient Zero, unable to get through more than a paragraph at a time because they alternately filled him with rage and despair. But through all of that, he’d built up a mental picture of what Gabriel Gray might have been like before his powers had fully manifested. If he hadn’t believed his father’s notes, all it took was the crazed-light memory of finding Gabriel’s apartment, of the closet where every inch of the wall begged for forgiveness. There might have been a time when Gabriel could have been saved.
Why couldn’t his father have seen Gabriel’s ability for what it was? Why couldn’t they have talked and discovered his differences before alienating a man so desperate to be special that he’d turned to murder to get it?
And after Mohinder had come to New York, why hadn’t he tried harder, believed more, been more forgiving? His father’s death had made him feel a mixture of sadness, outrage, and (to his shame) irritation, that he’d let himself get in this position. But if Mohinder had been a touch less self-righteous, he could have found and talked to Sylar before more lives could have been lost.
Even later, during that road trip to Montana, something better could have happened. Mohinder should have been able to figure out that the musically challenged “Zane” was nothing of the sort, and have found a way to help him. Yes, Mohinder had still been furious the thought of his father’s death, and Sylar’s killing, and the fact that he had lied and was using Mohinder, but he could have done something else. Helped him, or if he’d had the strength, killed him at once instead of letting a desire for revenge cloud his judgment. For a few brief minutes he’d had the most dangerous man alive at his mercy, paralyzed and helpless, and he’d spent those minutes torturing and taunting him instead of ending his reign of terror.
Cringing, he realized he had an even greater chance, when Sylar had called him in desperation after painting a future he couldn’t stand to see come to light. Mohinder remembered how gleefully he’d turned Sylar away, self-righteousness oozing out of every pore as he rejected Sylar’s last shred of humanity. How couldn’t he have seen that Sylar was so alone with his power that the last person he could turn to, his last pale imitation of a friend, was him? That if Sylar was reaching out to him, things were worse than he’d ever imagined?
Mohinder imagined what could have happened if he’d said, “Yes, Sylar, I will help you.” He could see himself going to Isaac’s loft, leading Sylar away from his latest victim, the killer bowed and broken with what he’d seen. He could see helping Sylar wipe the blood from his hands, helping him learn control, making him pay for his crimes…
But he hadn’t. He hadn’t. Mohinder had shoved him away, rejected every possible way he could have actually helped, just so he could feel better about himself for an hour. If he’d helped when he’d been asked, he could have spared the lives of so many people…
Arrogance. Sheer unfettered arrogance was all it was. Arrogance and cowardice and inadequacy that he couldn’t stand to deal with on his own terms. He was tired of getting pushed around by everyone with an ability. He was afraid of getting harmed by another person when he should have been able to find a way to deal with them. And he couldn’t stand the fact that in a world full of giants, he thought of himself as nothing more than an ant.
Fool and blind.
It seemed so simple. How could anyone, having seen other human beings flying, not want to do the same? How could they not want a power that could grant them the ability to do what no one else could? How could anyone not want to have that potential?
Never mind that abilities had brought no one any peace. Of all the people he’d met, not a single one had had their life improved by abilities, only made more complicated. Mohinder had turned a blind eye to the fact that those special people were all terrified of their own bodies, many of them on the run from the Company, and none of them had been able to resume much of a normal life. No, like a child, Mohinder had wanted the prize without considering the consequences.
He’d wanted it so badly he’d foregone all possible protocols and tests. He hadn’t even tested the fact that the formula might kill him, or those around him. No, he’d only heard his father’s unspoken, inexplicable distain for his son, of the ringing of his own assumed inadequacy, and was so desperate to be special that he would have injected himself with poison if that would have silenced his too-active mind.
He had one day of pure, unleavened success, which was more than some men had in a lifetime. One day where he was faster, stronger, better than any man on the planet. One day where everything had fallen into place for him, from powers to science to love…
He curled up in his bed (nest, say it Mohinder, nest), and wrapped his twisted limbs around him, hard and insensible skin not letting him feel the cold of the concrete.
Mohinder couldn’t shiver anymore. He didn’t think he needed to, but he sometimes wished he could. He wished he were still able to cry. He wished he could sob, and scream, for everything he’d done. For every test subject he’d dragged, insensible, back to his lab. For every person outside his door changed beyond recognition by his warped formula. For his father’s life, for Sylar’s hunger, and the formula’s creation, the uncried tears made him remember why he kept going day after day. Why he needed to atone for what he’d done.
For every life lost to his pride.