Impostor Syndrome


aman_icon.gif mohinder_icon.gif odessa_icon.gif

Scene Title Impostor Syndrome
Synopsis After escaping Plum Island with Amanvir, Mohinder and Odessa are subjected to a series of realizations about who he is and isn't.
Date February 2, 2020

Aman turns back to Odessa and Mohinder both, weight in his gaze. This has been a shitshow as far as he's concerned, but being told he's hit his exit point has given him a bit of his swagger back. "All right, fam, you heard the oni," he says, approaching them. "I'm one of those people who likes living, and a shower sounds great, too, honestly. So—"

He places a hand on their shoulders. "Keep your arms and legs firmly inside the ride at all times, all right?"

It's a joke, which is obvious both from his tone— and the fact that by the time he's finished speaking, the nauseating blip from one point to another has already happened.

Odessa, Mohinder, and Aman suddenly exist in the living room of a spacious apartment stories off the ground, the Manhattan Exclusion Zone visible in the distance across the East River. The transition leaves them several inches off the ground, landing in a stumble among empty cans and dirty laundry.


Aman's High-Rise Apartment, Bay Ridge

February 2, 2020

Aman lets out an openly exasperated sigh, hands lifting up away from his sides so he can look down at himself after he gets his feet back under him. From this angle, it looks like only his shirt's been splattered with blood, so there's that. His arms drop and swing as he cycles a step back from Odessa and Mohinder both, wary of them, but—

Well, he needs a drink after all that.

"So, we're stuck with each other," he observes flatly. "For now, anyway." Aman backpedals further with a casual arch of his brow. "You want a beer, or do you need to finish whatever lover's spat you had going on back there, first?" With an air of understanding, he tips his head in a gesture of that's fine. "I can watch." He turns on his heel to head for the fridge at the other end of the apartment. It's plain from the style of it that it's new growth, something built after the end of the war in the hopes of a sparking a brighter, less-dystopic tomorrow— a style which hasn't quite hit the rest of the Safe Zone yet, or good portion of America for that matter. Gentrified buildings don't solve major issues like devastated infrastructure, after all.

A tiss follows the turn away as Aman exhales; balking as he takes heavy steps, "This is the last time I ever try to make some extra money on one of these gigs. Fucking teleportation. I tell you…"

Odessa staggers when she hits the ground, just about buckling and dropping to her knees. But a hand on Mohinder’s arm keeps her steady until she figures out where her feet are under her. She lets go of the other scientist and backs up a step. “Oh…” She eyes him warily a moment, apologetic, then tears her gaze away to follow Aman.

“I’d love a beer, actually.” If she’s going to listen to Mohinder talk about how stupid this all is and how boned they absolutely are - in much more eloquent terms, of course - then she’d like to be less sober for that. Especially considering her alcohol tolerance has to have reset after all that time spent dry. “If you were serious, I mean.”

Unbelievable” Mohinder whispers as he stumbles forward, hiccups, and then claps a hand to his mouth to stop himself from vomiting all over the floor. He’s never handled teleportation well. After a few shaky breaths he unsteadily moves his hand away from his mouth. A large, red and purple bruise with a blotch of yellow at the middle is already beginning to form at the side of his face beside his right eye from Odessa’s fist, that eye somewhat swollen shut.

“So,” Mohinder breathlessly starts, “when do we get lined up against the wall? Now, or do we have time to pray?” There’s a potent bitterness to his tone, and Odessa can feel the bile of reciprocal empathic resentment surging up in the back of her own throat. “Or will we be handcuffed to a lab table and forced to make your biological weapons?” He’s practically an expert at being kidnapped by now.

“Um,” is Aman’s immediate response to all that. His voice drops. “Yeah,” he goes on. About that.

Leaning over to pull the fridge door open, he rifles through a cardboard box stuffed with beers and pulls out three, stuffing two into the crook of his arm. “I don’t know about that,” he shares flatly as he turns back around, shutting the door with his foot as he looks over to the other two. Man, it’s a good thing he doesn’t have a roommate he’d have to explain this to. “About any of that, to be perfectly honest. I was just told to show up, tag along for an hour or two on some illicit errands, and teleport my patron out when done.”

The trip back to where they are is short, and he sets down the two beers on the coffee table in front of the sunken-in leather couch. “And hey!” Aman points out with some forced cheer. “If I was hearing right and all, you already faced the firing squad and came out standing, even if the rest of the world’s supposed to think you're dead. But who knows, maybe I got that wrong. I’m just the guy who got spattered with the blood of the guy who got shot instead of you. Fuck me, right?” He doesn’t smile, the aches of sarcasm in his voice much more prevalent now than when he first started. He’s resisting a cringe, bringing up his own beer to place against the side of his head. That’s what you do for migraines, right? —No, Aman, the neck.

He collapses down into a seat on the mismatched black loveseat by the couch, leaning his head forward and letting the cooled beer set on the back of his neck with one hand, massaging the crook of his shoulder with the other.

“So I’m Amanvir, by the way,” he introduces himself without looking up. “You can call me Aman. Little miss dramatic said your names enough before we got out of there, so I’m pretty sure I’ve got them already.”

“You act like this is your first go at things.” He may be practically an expert on this, but she’s the pro. “Take a seat, and let me get a look at your face,” Odessa directs, albeit gently and with some exasperation. Once she’s directed him to sit on Aman’s sofa, she takes one of the beers from the coffee table and gently brings it up to rest against the side of Mohinder’s face, grimacing. “I really did a number on you. I’m… really sorry about that.” The soft sigh is to denote exasperation at herself now. “I meant to knock you out and drag you out of there myself.” Which surely would have gone well, given that she’s a small woman and he’s a ridiculous beanpole with hair.

Guiding one of his hands up to hold the beer in place, in lieu of a proper cold compress, she tosses a look over her shoulder to Aman. “Nice to meet you, all things considered. Glad we aren’t dead. Thanks for your role in that.” Her attention turns back to Mohinder as she holds up her index finger in front of him, crouching to be eye level. “You know the drill.”

For all that she’s a complete bitch, Odessa Price is still a doctor, and he is her patient.

“Don’t waste,” Mohinder slaps Odessa’s hand away, “your time or my patience. I’d hate for you to slip and accidentally slit my throat when I wasn’t looking.” It seems like being punched in the side of the head has put Odessa back on the absolute top of Mohinder’s shit list.

Blinking a look away from his new least-favorite person, Mohinder looks up to Aman. “I’m a little old for roommates,” is his deadpan and deeply-frustrated response. “I’m going to make a recommendation for you, Aman. One your employer may not have the common decency to seeing as how she just murdered a room full of people.”

Mohinder sits forward, looking up at Aman with one eye swollen completely shut now. “Pick up a phone, call the police, and turn us in. You can leave— teleport— whatever. Or you can stay and I will back you up that you were coerced.” He wasn’t, as far as Mohinder can tell, but he doesn’t care right now. “Because once you turn us over to your boss, the government is going to come looking for us. They have psychometrists who can read blood, ashes, bone, and psychic imprints in locations. Do you know, roughly, how long it will take them to get your name? The names of your family?”

“An hour.” Mohinder is bluffing, sort of, as he isn’t entirely sure what the government has access to these days. But he can theorize with the best. “An hour is all it will take to flip your life upside down and put you in the crosshairs of every private military company willing to take a government contract. Do you know what it says on the bottom of most of those contracts?”

Mohinder raises one brow. “Alive or dead, Amanvir. Alive or dead.”

The further on Mohinder goes, the more Aman’s head slowly comes up. By the end of the little spiel, he’s meeting that one-eyed look being hurled his direction, wearing a blank one in return. After a beat, the beer can slides off the back of his neck.


One-handed, his fingers arch to snap the can open, adjust to regrasp at a better angle for drinking, and then he chugs half the can in a trio of gulps. He lets out a satisfied gasp when he comes up for air, looking down at the can. “Yeah,” he pronounces. “That hit the spot.”

When he sets it down on the edge of the coffee table, it’s a little roughly. He sits back only barely, elbows on knees, hands coming together in an audible clap as he looks back to Mohinder. “Look, buddy. I get it— you’ve had a hell of a day. You’re not the only fucking one. The oni went back to go take care of all the footage and whatever else, and that place— it’s gonna blow. Maybe it already did. So— all things considered…”

He might think Mohinder’s caution about psychometrists is credible, but he’s putting on a fine show otherwise. Or it might just be: “I’m not sure what the fuck a psychometrist is, but that’s not an ability I’ve ever picked up before. So.” Aman leans back, hands spreading wide. “I don’t know, man. I think we’re good. At least for the next—” He has to pause to think, sounding it out as he remembers it. “Forty-eig…ht…”

The light leaves his eyes as a realization dawns. “Oh shit,” Aman breathes. His hands fly to the armrest and cushion to launch him forward, and then he goes barreling back toward the kitchen. “Shit, shit, shit.” He almost gets tripped up in a long-sleeved shirt abandoned on the living room floor on his way to the kitchen, and almost skids on the tile as he rips his phone off a charger on the counter. “Oh my fucking god, did the baby come? I didn’t even fucking check. Fuck.”

Odessa recoils when she’s batted away, caught somewhere between hurt and angry about it. She pouts, but she also curls her hand into a fist. “Don’t be such an asshole, Mohinder. That’s my job. You’re supposed to be the nice one.” It worries her to see him like this. She expects him to treat her like shit, but the kid…

Well, he did help kidnap them from the prison, so maybe she can understand part of it. Still, she wonders how hard it is to take a second and just be grateful to be alive, and not having burned to death.

Whatever fight she was about to pick with her counterpart dies behind her teeth when Aman starts to panic. At first, she figures Mohinder must have gotten to him, but, “Kid? You’re… gonna be a…” Odessa immediately turns to Mohinder and points a finger in his face. “Don’t.” She can already hear the monologue in her head about how it’s not just his own life he’s going to ruin, but that of a child, too.

Mohinder just flashes a wild-eyed and opaque look at Odessa and fitfully spreads his hands in a sharp but wordless pantomime of: what!?

He's out of ideas.

It’s not immediately clear if Aman’s heard Odessa start to put the pieces together as the only thing that comes from him is a noisy, wordless exclamation of someone who’s fucked up. It continues for several seconds until he gets his phone unlocked and scrolls through the messages he’s missed during his morning jaunt through a secured government work-study prison. He has to blink several times through his fascinatingly impressive headache to skim the queue looking for a certain name in particular, letting the phone slip between his fingers back to the countertop in a clatter after.

The noise that he makes sounds… not like a groan, but not one-hundred percent like a sigh of relief, either.

“Not me—” he finally clarifies, looking back up and over at the two in the living room. “The teleporter.

Arms come away from his side in a placating gesture, an attempt at a suave grin occurring. “But it’s cool. It’s good. He’s not texted me yet, so— we’re good. False alarm.” He begins a saunter back in the direction of his beer. “Sorry, anyway, where were we?”

As Aman clarifies, Odessa’s eyes slowly widen. She also subtly turns to face him, giving her back to Mohinder in the process. In doing so, however, she’s putting herself between the two men. Her right hand slowly curls into a tight fist, her left hand reaches behind her somewhat, as if to keep track of where her fellow escapee is at, even if she doesn’t make contact.

It’s killing her that she can’t feel the threads between herself, Mohinder, and Amanvir. At first, she thought she’d misheard him. Now, she’s not so sure. Instead, she reaches out toward Aman with the senses she does possess, attempting to ascertain his emotional state at the moment. Is he a threat to them? Well, even the calmest person can still be a threat. Odessa knows that perfectly well.

“You’re a mosaic.”

Mohinder rankles when Odessa says that term, his father’s term, so cavalierly. But he also doesn't correct her. There's a silent curiosity that comes over Mohinder in a way that is calming, though unfortunately also sapping his adrenaline and making the dull, throbbing ache at the side of his head all the more evident. Mohinder stays put, save for looking for a place to sit. He feels far worse than he thought he might.

Being witness to a mass murder does that to him.

Aman lets out a knowing chuckle, not even breaking stride. He shakes his head. “No,” he says with certainty, though any explanation that comes after takes a little longer to formulate. His pace slows as he nears back to them. The proximity makes it that much easier for Odessa to get a read on him, nerves still frayed despite his attempt to settle back into his routine and normalize or compartmentalize anything that’s just happened. He’s also second-guessing having opened his mouth like he did, but neither can he stop himself from continuing to let the words tumble out. He regrets it as much as is relieved by it— pretending is a bitch.

“It’s, uh,” he lifts a hand to scratch at the side of his nose, and it comes away tipped in red from the blood still across his face. He blanches, his cool gone in an instant as he looks down at that. A slow blink later, he keeps walking past the beer, heading to the bathroom at the other end of the apartment. There’s a distance to his voice as he explains, “It’s more like negation.

The sight of the blood rattled him, and he blips— one step still close to Mohinder and Odessa, and the next he’s not there. A frustrated note comes from within the bathroom, the door opening a moment later while he scrubs his face with a dark handtowel. “Like, uh… someone doesn’t want their ability for a while, and I make it go away.” He doesn’t complete the circuit, standing in place after he pulls the towel away. “So… flighty-as-fuck teleporter doesn’t want to flake out on the birth of his kid…” His head bounces from side to side briefly, like he’s silently filling in on all the rest of the details. They’re smart scientist people, surely they can figure it out.

“Honestly?” Aman voices a little flatly. “I’m starting to think it’s the ability that does it to him. Super on edge today.”

Or, it could just be denial about everything he’s seen. Who knows. Fifty-fifty.

Odessa holds very still as Aman walks the space of his apartment, following his movements with her eyes that are open just a fraction too wide to make her appear calm. And the more she focuses on him, the more her own nerves begin to fray. When he disappears, she flinches, inhaling in a hiss between her teeth sharply and eyes falling shut. Her hand held out toward Mohinder joins the other in becoming a fist.

Nodding slowly to show she understands the explanation, she gives it another beat before she pulls her ability back in toward herself. She closes her eyes as her mood abruptly shifts again. Letting out a breath she didn’t realize she’d been holding, her shoulders sag and her fingers relax again. For a moment, she wobbles and seems like she might collapse.

Her eyes open again and she catches herself, regaining her balance as she rides that forward momentum to lean over and pick up the beer from the coffee table. His explanation is a lot better than the one she was expecting. She actually lets out a breath of laughter and runs her tongue over her teeth as she pops open her beer.

For a moment there, she’d been afraid he might be like Sylar.

Having chosen to sit on the floor with his back against the wall, Mohinder blinks a look over to Aman that is at once fascinated and judgmental. “That isn’t a mosaic,” Mohinder corrects, focusing on the specificity of the term and his own pedantic concerns rather than the growing knot of worry in the bottom of his stomach. “A true mosaic retains their abilities, this is mimicry. It’s a substantial but subtle difference. Vincent King — Shard — was a mimic.”

Realizing that no one in the room may care for his immediate opinion on the nomenclature of expressive abilities, Mohinder instead touches his fingertips to the tender side of his swollen face. “While you’re fawning,” he says to Odessa, “could you ask our captor if he has anything to reduce swelling?”

"Like ice?" the aforementioned captor quips aloud. They're not uncivilized around here. They've got running water, and generally have power for the fridge. "Or maybe you just use the high-tech cold compress I just gave you." Aman suggests next. He gestures to the coffee table.

He means the beer can.

"Mimicry schmimickery, man; the ability's mine as long as I have it," he abruptly segues, wiping the towel along his hairline. He seems as territorial of his definition as he is interested in Mohinder's breakdown of differences, though, eyes narrowing curiously at him.

"Anyway. You're not a prisoner," Aman insists right at this very point in time, oblivious to how his mood might change on that mere seconds from now. "Go get yourself ice if you want ice. We can all just… chill here til we hear from the oni. Day after tomorrow at the latest." He looks back between the two, making a split second decision. "As long as you don't go shining the fucking bat signal from my window or do anything else stupid to get us caught, I'm not sure I give a damn what you do."

He peers off, heading across the apartment in a nervous, aimless pace despite the purpose to his stride. "I just want to get fucking paid." he mutters to himself.

“I’m not fucking fawning, you—” Odessa snaps off the end of that sentence and shuts her eyes for a moment, taking in a deep breath to steady herself. “Stay put,” she instructs, setting her beer back down on the coffee table. “I’ll get you some ice.”

It takes some measure of control not to stalk over to the fridge, but instead keep her pace even, almost more languid than purposeful. A quick search of the cupboards finds plastic sandwich bags and she fills one with ice from the dispenser, moving back to where Mohinder sits and crouching down on the floor next to him. “Here,” she offers gently, holding the ice out in her palm for him to take, rather than applying it herself the way she might prefer.

“I’m sorry I punched you,” Odessa says again. “I meant everything I said about respecting you and… Let’s just do what the nice man says and focus on staying alive for the next couple days. We can decide what we do after that when the time comes.”

The blonde peers over her shoulder at where Aman has paced, cognizant of keeping her ability focused inward, less his agitation get the better of her again. “Thank you,” she makes a point of telling him. “We’ll be out of your hair as soon as we’re able. I promise.”

With one eye swollen shut, it’s hard to tell if Mohinder is narrowing his one good eye at Odessa or if he’s winking. It’s probably not a wink. “Could you get me the beer?” Mohinder says with strained politeness to Odessa, letting her admissions of sincerity roll off him like rain off a duck as much as he’s letting Aman’s assertion that he’s not a prisoner.

“I’m not a prisoner?”

He’s very bad at being a duck.

“I’m not a prisoner?” Mohinder reiterates, turning a frustrated eye to Aman. “I’m sorry, but if that’s the case I suppose I’ll just walk out the front door?” He says with a wild wave of one hand. “Is that invitation open?”

Amanvir's very bad at being a warden, too. This is not what he signed up for at all. But seeing Mohinder's agitation unfurl quickly into what could very well turn into an attempt to walk out of here and not come back, he turns back, expression falling as he quickly realizes if he wants to get paid, he needs to become something he's not.

"Okay," he says wearily. "You win, man. You're a prisoner."

What a fucking day this is turning into. It's not even noon yet.

His pace takes him back to the partially-open bedroom door which he shoves open the rest of the way. He kicks aside laundry on the floor before disappearing past the doorway. A drawer opens, followed by the sound of rifling around.

Then in a blink, he's standing in front of Mohinder again, expression as close to deadpan as he can manage. It's a challenge. "Here," Aman balks, dropping a set of handcuffs into his lap. They land in a muted clatter. "You happy?"

The handcuffs are covered in a sleeve of black, fuzzy material.

At least Mohinder is less likely to chafe.

Odessa rises to her feet to go retrieve the beer she attempted to bestow upon Mohinder earlier. When he starts ranting, she visibly and full-bodily cringes, halting in mid-step. Dipping down to pick up the previously discarded can, she stands still after she straightens up, waiting to see how that whole issue resolves itself.

Pivoting on the ball of her foot and seeing the handcuffs dropped into Mohinder’s lap, Odessa is torn between laughter and concern. She settles for pressing her lips together in an attempt to keep the corners from curling upward in a grin while her eyes sparkle with mirth anyway. This is absurd.

“Well,” Odessa draws out as she makes her way back to her fellow scientist, holding out the cool can. “Here’s that beer you asked for.” When he takes it, she holds up her hands in a gesture of surrender. “Not that I don’t think those are very handsome, but, do I have to wear a pair of those, too?” she asks Aman.

Mohinder looks up from the handcuffs to Odessa, aghast at the comment that came out of her mouth. He hangs his head, beer can held against his swollen eye, shoulders slacked.

Jesus Christ.

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