Please don’t die Mr. Parkman! You’re my hero!

Molly’s words ran through Mohinder’s mind often as they waited for the surgery to finish. Four bullets. Four chest wounds. Well, three and one in the gut. It was astounding that the man had managed to live long enough to get to surgery, let alone make it through. Not that he had yet, but if he hadn’t died yet, Mohinder believed there was a good chance he wouldn’t.

Molly shifted on his lap, yawning while sound asleep and burrowing even closer, though that was hardly possible. Smiling briefly, Mohinder’s hand traveled over her long hair of its own volition. He’d never had much interaction with children, even when he’d been one.

“Parkman?”

Moving the little girl into his arms to stand, Mohinder wasn’t surprised when she didn’t wake. She’d been through a tremendous ordeal starting months ago with her parents’ deaths at Sylar’s hands. Pushing away thoughts of Sylar, Mohinder walked towards the doctor and answered, “Here. That’s us.”

The young woman’s eyebrows rose askance upon taking them in, but merely said, “Mr. Parkman made it through the surgery, but he’s in intensive care. We’re going to keep him sedated for the next twenty-four hours so we can monitor the swelling where the bullet’s path jostled the spine.”

Swallowing heavily, Mohinder asked, “But he’s going to recover?”

“We’ll know more tomorrow,” she replied. “You should go home and get some rest. We have your information and will call if anything changes.”

Torn between wanting to stay, and Molly needing a proper bed for the night, Mohinder finally repeated, “You’ll call? For certain?”

The doctor nodded and assured him, “I’ll keep you informed personally.”

“Thank you,” he said, a bit relieved.

Shifting Molly to his other shoulder, Mohinder shook the doctor’s hand and turned towards the exit. Of course, the next problem was that they had nowhere to stay. The family with the little boy had disappeared from the square. The Petrellis were gone. He’d gotten Peter back for a few minutes only to lose him in a nuclear explosion. The man with the horn-rim glasses, gun, and pretty blond daughter had vanished as well. The only person Mohinder knew in New York City lay in intensive care.

Molly mumbled in her sleep, her arms tightening around his neck.

The only other person, he silently corrected with a fond smile.

They wound up at a decent hotel not too far from the hospital. He tucked Molly into the bed and promptly fell asleep in the other one only moments after lying down.

*  *  *  *

Mohinder woke to the feel of a small, warm body curled up against his side. Startled, he jerked awake, onto his elbows, and then saw and remembered Molly at about the same time. Collapsing back onto the pillow, he gently brought his hand down on her head, stroking over her soft, tangled hair. It felt strange to know that he was completely responsible for another soul. Before, he’d been her doctor and caregiver. Now, he was…everything.

Molly yawned and squirmed against him, mumbling sleepily.

Moving carefully, Mohinder slipped out from under her, making sure the blankets were tucked in around her so she would be comfortable. Mohinder rubbed his eyes clear on the way to the bathroom. He took care of business and then peered out to find Molly still sound asleep.

Stress will do that to a body, he thought wryly. Even a child’s.

He started the shower and stripped, getting under the hot water and groaning in pleasure. Even though he’d somehow made it through the night without getting injured, he felt pummeled all over. His mind kept assaulting him with images from the insane confrontation. Sylar and Peter. Sylar and Mr. Parkman. Sylar and the blond woman. And then the little Asian man stabbing Sylar, coming from out of nowhere to deal the final blow.

The pessimist inside pointed out, But not the killing blow. His body vanished and without that final proof, I can’t, won’t believe him dead.

Mohinder didn’t know how he felt about that. Sylar was insane, of that there was no doubt. He’d murdered who knew how many people with abilities. Despite that, Mohinder remembered Zane. He remembered the voice on the other end of the phone, vulnerable. If only he hadn’t botched that conversation so incredibly badly, what happened next might need not have happened at all.

The dark thought surfaced…If only I were as smart as I think I am.

“Mohinder? I need to tinkle!”

Startled by Molly’s urgent interruption on the other side of the door, Mohinder called, “I’ll be right out.”

“I really need to tinkle now!”

Cursing silently, Mohinder grabbed the nearest towel and wrapped it around his waist before dropping it in favor of the robe hanging off the door. He’d just managed to cinch the belt when the door pushed open and Molly hurried inside. Mohinder jumped for the door as she began to push her pants down, closing it quickly, more than a bit panicked at her utter disregard for the fact that he was male.

He stood there dripping on the carpet for a few seconds before shaking himself out of the daze and walking to the window to look outside. It was cloudy and gray outside, the sun dim and ineffectual at this time of year. They certainly didn’t have clothing for Molly for this time of year. None at all, actually. On a purely practical level, they had absolutely no support in place for an eight year old child of any sort, let alone a girl.

“Mohinder? I’m done.”

Turning, he found Molly standing hesitantly a short distance away. Her hair stuck up in places and she bit her lip as she looked at him. There’d been none of this kind of uncertainty in the lab. But then, he supposed that it had been different then with the other people going in and out all the time. And seeing her hero shot down as he’d been, well, that had to be more than a bit frightening.

Mohinder smiled at her and crouched down, holding out his arms. She smiled brilliantly in return and ran to him, throwing her arms around his neck. He stood with her in his arms and observed, “I think a few rules will help us adjust a bit faster, don’t you?”

She nodded and agreed, “Uh huh.”

Sitting on the bed, turning her so that she sat on one of his thighs, he started, “Molly gets the bathroom first in the morning.”

Molly giggled.

Mohinder relaxed a bit and continued, “Mohinder gets to shower first or he can’t function properly.”

“Okay.”

“No interrupting in the bathroom without knocking.”

“But I did knock!”

“And that was excellent. Keep up the good work,” he teased.

She giggled more.

“I think that’s it for now,” he finished. “Unless you can think of some?”

Molly’s face scrunched up in obvious thought and then she shook her head. “Nope.”

He smiled and said, “All right then. I’m going to finish my shower, then you’ll take one, and then we’ll go to the hospital. How does that sound?”

She bounced on his knee and exclaimed, “And we can see Mr. Parkman?”

“I hope so, but it’s up to the doctors,” he cautioned.

That reigned in some of her enthusiasm, but she nodded acceptance.

Mohinder squeezed her briefly before setting her down. “Can you occupy yourself while I’m in the shower?”

Rolling her eyes, Molly walked over to get the television remote and then hunkered down on the bed.

“Right,” he muttered, heading for the bathroom again.

Not wanting to take a chance the second time, Mohinder hurried through the shower, washing himself and his hair as fast as he could. Drying off took even less time and he was dressed within two minutes of leaving the tub. He couldn’t even imagine being comfortable undressed with a little girl in the next room.

Mohinder ran his hand through his hair and then cleaned out the tub before folding the towel over the rack above the toilet. Stepping into the bedroom, he discovered Molly watching the news, of all things. Frowning, he was about to ask what she doing when he heard the report.

“…and authorities still have no explanation for last night’s light show above New York. Speculation ranges from a thwarted nuclear attack to an airplane collision over the city. With us here in the studio is an expert in…”

Mohinder took the remote and turned off the television.

“I was watching that!” Molly exclaimed.

Giving her a stern look, Mohinder stated, “We are not going to watch or listen or speculate about what happened above the city last night.”

Her little arms crossed over her chest in an obviously stubborn gesture. “I wanna know what happened!”

“No.”

“You can’t tell me what to do!”

Mohinder took a breath and sat on the bed beside her. Taking her hand, he said softly, “We can’t change what happened to the Petrellis, Molly. It doesn’t matter what the world wonders or thinks or believes. We’ve only got ourselves to rely on now. You and me. We have to stick together.”

Her lip trembled and then she asked, “And Mr. Parkman?”

Offering a brief smile, he nodded and confirmed, “And Mr. Parkman.”

“I’m sorry,” she whispered, biting her lip again.

Without thinking, Mohinder kissed the top of her head and promised, “It’s fine, Molly. It’s been a stressful few days. Now then. Why don’t you get cleaned up and then we’ll get some breakfast and head out to the hospital?”

Apparently once again back to her normal, cheerful self, Molly climbed off the bed and skipped to the bathroom.

A thought occurred to him and he called out, “Let me know if you need help!”

God help him if she actually did.

Thankfully, she stopped and turned around to make a face at him. “I’m not five, Mohinder.”

“Of course not,” he agreed solemnly, hiding a smile.

Looking satisfied, she continued on to the bathroom.

Once the door closed behind her, Mohinder groaned and flopped back on the bed. “What on earth am I doing?”

There was no answer, naturally. Sighing, he stared at the ceiling for a few minutes before getting up to call the hospital. He discovered that Mr. Parkman was doing better than expected and might even be allowed to wake later that afternoon. Visitors would be welcome at that time, not for the morning rounds. Mohinder thanked the nurse and mentally adjusted their schedule for the day.

It was a good twenty minutes later that he frowned at the bathroom door and forced himself to walk over to it. Knocking, he asked loudly, “Molly? Everything all right?”

“Fine!” she called back.

“It’s getting late, aren’t you hungry?”

“I’m trying to brush my hair! Go away!”

Oh dear, he thought with a sigh. He knocked again and suggested, “Perhaps I might be of assistance?”

The door opened and he looked down to find Molly with a thoroughly wet and tangled head of hair with a small comb sticking out of it. She was, fortunately, dressed. Breathing a soft sigh of relief at that fact, Mohinder pushed the door open the rest of the way and allowed, “That looks a bit difficult. Here now, sit on the toilet and I’ll do what I can.”

She complied and he followed. Taking the comb carefully out of the knot, Mohinder did his best to be as gentle as possible in the untangling. It seemed to take forever and his arms ached a bit from the necessarily small movements, but at last Molly sat there with unknotted hair. The adoring smile she flashed at him made Mohinder feel about ten feet tall.

“Can we go see Mr. Parkman now?”

And just like that, he was back to his normal height.

Laughing softly, rueful, he tossed the comb onto the sink and said, “The hospital said that he’s still sleeping, but they think he’ll be awake this afternoon. With that in mind, we’ll have breakfast and then go shopping. You need more than one set of clothing. So do I, for that matter.”

Molly pouted a little, but nodded and said, “I need new undies.”

Mohinder managed not to grimace in dismay. “Of course you do.”

She took his hand and pulled him out of the bathroom, exclaiming, “I’m hungry!”

Bemused by the change in subject yet again, Mohinder thought, Well, at least it won’t be dull with her around.

*  *  *  *

The trip to a department store was an education in girls’ clothing and not one he truly cared to repeat, though he knew he would have to at some point. Molly kept a firm hold on his hand, fairly dragging him into an area with far too much pink. He nodded whenever she asked if she could try something on, which meant they made a lot of trips to the dressing rooms. It took over an hour before she had two sets of pants and a shirt that she liked and they hadn’t even gotten to the unmentionables.

When it came to it, Mohinder just told her, “Get what you like and come straight back here.”

“Okay!” she agreed, skipping off to the underwear section.

Fortunately, the aisles were wide enough that he could keep an eye on her without looking at the actual items. She came back fairly soon and held up two items for inspection. Mohinder winced and looked away as he commented, “Very nice, put them in the carriage and we’ll go.”

“I don’t have a jacket yet,” she reminded.

Remembering how she’d shivered in his arms on the brief trip from hotel to cab and cab to store, Mohinder mentally kicked himself in the ass. “Right. Of course. Lead on.”

She dimpled at him and skipped ahead while he pushed the carriage after her.

A mere half-hour later, they had an appropriate winter coat and headed for the checkout. They sailed through without trouble and, once outside, Mohinder put the jacket on Molly, zipping her up and tweaking her nose lightly as he said, “I don’t know about you, but I am most certainly ready for a break. It’s late enough for an early lunch, if you’re hungry?”

She nodded and agreed, “Starving!”

Chuckling, Mohinder took her hand and flagged down a taxi.

*  *  *  *

By the time they reached the hospital, Molly was practically unmanageable, she was so hyped up with excitement. Mohinder finally stopped and crouched in front of her. He gripped her shoulders firmly and stated, “I understand that you’re excited, Molly, but we aren’t going anywhere near Mr. Parkman if you don’t get control of yourself. He’s still weak and recovering and won’t be able to handle you moving about so. Am I clear?”

Molly went still and then nodded seriously as she whispered, “Sorry.”

He smiled reassuringly and kissed her forehead before telling her, “It’s all right, Molly. Just be careful of Mr. Parkman. Deal?”

“Deal,” she promised.

Standing, Mohinder took her hand and they continued on their way to intensive care. When they got there, though, the room where Parkman had been, was empty. Mohinder’s stomach dropped as he immediately thought the worst. Molly whimpered, clearly thinking the same, and he quickly picked her up in his arms.

He walked over to the nurses’ station and asked the woman on duty, “Excuse me, but could you tell me to where Mr. Parkman was moved?”

“Parkman? Doesn’t ring a bell,” she replied, frowning. “You’re sure he was here?”

Mohinder nodded tightly and stated, “Quite sure. He had surgery last night for multiple gunshot wounds.”

Understanding dawned and she exclaimed, “Oh! The cop, right. Sorry, I didn’t get his name before they transferred him. He’s fine, better than fine, really since he got moved to a regular room.”

Relieved, Mohinder gave her a broad smile and asked, “What room, please?”

“Let me check for you, hold on.”

Molly rested her head on Mohinder’s shoulder and he rubbed her back, automatically soothing her.

It took a few minutes before the nurse informed them, “Room 423. Take the elevator down to four and turn left once you get off.”

“Thank you,” he replied.

It wasn’t long until they’d done just that and stood in Parkman’s hospital room. Mohinder set Molly down and watched with a pang as she instantly rushed to the man’s bedside. Sternly telling himself not to be foolish, Mohinder followed more slowly. Taking the chair and setting it closer to the bed, he sat and let the girl climb up on the bed, knowing that she would be careful.

Molly picked up Matt’s hand, huge in comparison to hers, and petted the back of it as she said, “Hi, Mr. Parkman. It’s Molly and Mohinder. We’re here to visit you.”

There was no response, but that didn’t stop her. Mohinder got comfortable as Molly rambled on about pretty much everything they’d done that day, but with a surprisingly humorous slant.

“…and you should’ve seen Mohinder’s eyes! They got so big and all I did was show him my new undies that I wanted to get…”

Mohinder coughed as embarrassment flushed his face, despite no one being in the room.

Naturally, that was when Parkman chose to wake up.

“He did, huh?” the man rumbled, clearing his throat.

Molly gave a happy screech and threw her arms around Parkman, who grunted at the impact.

Mohinder straightened in his chair and reproved, “Molly! What did we talk about?”

Immediately pulling back, Molly apologized, “Sorry, Mr. Parkman! I’m sorry, did I hurt you?”

“No, Molly, I’m fine,” Parkman assured her, frowning at Mohinder. “Matter of fact, I’d love more of that. Give me another hug. It’ll help me get better.”

Mohinder rolled his eyes, muttering under his breath as Molly happily complied. Despite the irritation, however, he had to admit that they both looked quite happy and…right…together. It was more than just the skin color, though that had something to do with it. The pinched look disappeared from Molly’s face and Parkman sighed deeply, as if wanting nothing more than to keep the hug going forever. He wondered if the other man had any children and was missing them. Really, he didn’t know the first thing about Parkman.

The doctor arrived just then, smiling at the tableau on the bed as she greeted, “Good afternoon, Officer Parkman. How are you feeling?”

“Like I’ve been shot,” Parkman replied, wryly.

Mohinder grinned in spite of himself, though he hid it quickly. Well, at least he’s got a sense of humor about things.

When the doctor stepped forward, Mohinder stood to give her room, ordering lightly, “Come down, now, Molly. Let the doctor look at Mr. Parkman.”

Molly hopped down and went to take Mohinder’s hand.

Mohinder wasn’t sure, but thought he saw another frown pass over Parkman’s face at her actions. Shaking off the odd impression, Mohinder said, “We’ll go get something to drink while you finish up in here.”

“You don’t have to go,” Parkman told them.

But the doctor spoke up, “It will make things go quicker, Officer Parkman. Give us about fifteen minutes. I want to have the nurse redress his wounds.”

Mohinder nodded. “Of course. We’ll be back then.”

He led Molly out of the room, letting her wave goodbye first, and went in search of the cafeteria. They could have just gone to the soda machine, but he wanted her to get away and stretch her legs a bit, as well as to give the doctor plenty of time. The last thing any of them needed was for Molly to walk in on a nurse changing bloody bandages.

So they spent a good half hour in the cafeteria, even with Molly fidgeting the entire time. Mohinder didn’t let himself be swayed by her pleading eyes and constant, “Can we go back yet?” When they walked down the hall back towards Parkman’s rooms, he kept a firm hold on the little girl’s hand, not wanting her to slip away and walk in on something potentially ugly. He knocked and waited for Parkman to call out, “Come in!” before opening the door and releasing her.

Standing at the threshold while Molly once again flung herself at the policeman, feeling utterly useless, Mohinder said awkwardly, “I’ll just, I’ll give you some time together. Be careful of him, Molly. I’ll be back in an hour or so.”

As he turned to go, Parkman called out, “Wait, Dr. Suresh.”

Surprised, Mohinder looked back questioningly.

Parkman offered a hesitant smile as he continued, “Stay and take a load off.”

“No, I shouldn’t intrude,” Mohinder protested.

Parkman shook his head and insisted, “Stay. Really. I want you to.”

Mohinder remained where he was for a few more seconds before acquiescing, “Very well, if you’re sure, Officer Parkman.”

The other man nodded and flashed him a surprisingly charming grin as he replied, “Positive. And call me Matt.”

Feeling as though some kind of hurdle had just been passed, Mohinder echoed the grin with a shy smile of his own as he walked towards the bed. “Then you must call me Mohinder.”

Hazel eyes lingered on him as Matt replied simply, “I’d like that.”

Strangely, so did Mohinder.