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Scene Title Biological
Synopsis Jac meets her mother.
Date March 10, 2021

“Are you familiar with locked-in syndrome?”

Aria Baumgartner asks as she steps out of the elevator to the floor just below penthouse level, waiting for Jac Childs to follow her out. “We believe your mother suffers from an unusual subset of the disorder, so far as the physicians we’ve had evaluate her were able to tell.”

Walking down the carpeted hallway, Aria keeps her hands folded behind her back. Each step is punctuated by the click of her tall heels. “In most cases, someone experiencing locked-in syndrome is fully cognizant and aware, but unable to perform nearly any motor function including autonomous ones like breathing. Cindy’s case is… different.”

Aria looks over to Jac, then back down the hall. “Cindy can breathe, her autonomous body functions are all intact. However, she appears to be existing in a state of catatonia, where most people experiencing locked-in syndrome are fully awake and aware, just trapped in their bodies. Cindy doesn’t respond to visual or auditory stimuli and MRIs showed little activity in her visual or auditory cortex.”

Stopping at a door marked ‘312’, Aria looks over to Jac. “But your mother’s mind is active,” she says with a rise of her brows, “in the temporal lobe. The part of the mind responsible for dreams.”

The Clocktower Building
Red Hook

March 10th
5:17 pm

As she accompanies Aria through the hallways, Jac maintains a critically thoughtful expression. A crease has formed in her brow and her hands clasp behind her back to stall any fidgeting, but her blue eyes stare intently up at the woman escorting her. How much or little she knows of the diagnosis is kept close to the chest. But she's listening, clearly absorbing and analyzing the information that's being offered.

“Cindy’s dreaming.” The words are as much an observation as they are seeking confirmation. The memory of someone else’s voice tickles in the back of her mind, accusing her of being asleep while being awake.

Jac’s brows knit a fraction further. That would be a weird coincidence. Her focus shifts from Aria to the door, to the number on the door. “Could I see her medical records after?” It's probably not an unusual request, given the teen is going to be stepping into some kind of guardianship role. “I'd like a copy, so I can have my own doctors look at them too.”

“Of course,” Aria agrees. “We’ll give you everything we have and everything we received from the shelter she was staying at.”

Aria opens the door and leads Jac into a well-appointed suite. The decor on the walls looks rather stock-standard, somewhere between a pre-war hotel room and an actual lived-in space. Aria briskly moves through the foyer and into the living room, where Cindy sits in an armchair with a flannel blanket draped over her lap. She stares vacantly at a television that is playing reruns of old pre-war television shows streamed off of the internet.

“Would you like me to stay or…” Aria turns around and looks at Jac. “I can wait outside or just come back later.”

Jac nods when Aria agrees, and follows to the end of the foyer, stopping just before crossing into the living room space. Stopping when her eyes find Cindy. A stranger, and yet all records say that’s her surrogate mother. Her arms move from behind, folding across her middle. It’s subtly defensive, more of the uncertainty she’d displayed on Halloween. She frowns faintly, eases a step forward, then halts again when Aria speaks.

“What…” Looking up at the woman, Jac stares with vague confusion. Like a deer caught in headlights. She makes a sound that lacks commitment to any desire, then shrugs. “I don’t know,” she supplements, turning her attention to Cindy again.

She slinks forward another step, crabs to the side to keep furniture between herself and Cindy. Some part of her says it’s enough, she’s seen the woman and that’s all that’s required. Another part is a deluge of questions and demands for explanations. It’s the need to know that keeps her from leaving. The teen looks an undefined question at Aria, something that makes her frown with worry, then creeps another step closer.

Aria finds her answer in Jac’s indecision. Though she recedes to give privacy, Aria never wanders further than the unlit kitchen, navigating by the ambient light from the living room and what light from the street comes in through the kitchen window. Present, but not intrusive.

Cindy looks so much older than Jac had ever seen her. The wrinkles that line her face, the gray in her long hair, the tired bags under her eyes. She looks as fragile as she does weary. But there are some things she sees about Cindy that make her question herself. Her eyes—large, blue, expressive—they remind Jac of her own. But she knows Cindy was just a surrogate. Any appearance is just a coincidence.

Up closer Jac can see tiny scars on Cindy’s jawline, pock-mark scars of unknown origin that loosely illustrate a hard life. There’s a bigger one by her brow, the kind you get from a blow to the head. All the while, Cindy sits motionless and unblinking.

“I saw a picture of you once.” Or maybe it was two pictures. It doesn't matter. “Your driver’s license. You were younger then.” Jac flicks a glance after Aria, then focuses on Cindy as she speaks, keen on the woman’s face and eyes while slowly creeping toward the television. It gives her a better angle to see everything. And it keeps her out of immediate reach.

A quick look is directed to the program playing on the set. Partly to ensure she isn't blocking the screen. “I've been trying to learn about you.” Her eyes return to Cindy as she continues. “Who you are and… I don't know. Everything.”

Jac pauses, chewing on the corner of her lip. Can Cindy even hear anything? “When I was little I always wondered who you were.” If she's dreaming, then maybe some parts are getting through. Like how an unexpected sound plays into the dream. Brows furrowing, she takes a small step forward. “Now you're here and… I don't even know if you know that.”

Aria is as silent as Cindy, though not stationary. She wanders the kitchen, watching the interaction over the kitchen counter. Eventually Aria comes to settle with her back to the sink, arms crossed over her chest, watching the way Jac circles the conversation like a stray animal might a piece of food.

Cindy shows no sign of recognition, just a glazed-over look at the television and the faintest bit of tension in her brow that’s been there since they arrived.

Sighing, Jac looks down like some secrets on what to do might be hiding in the carpet. Of course there isn't anything to see, or if there is she's blind to it. So after a second she huffs, lifts her eyes to focus on Cindy again. There are hundreds of millions of things she'd like to say and ask.

Practically her whole life, from her very earliest memories, she'd wondered about the woman who gave birth to her. From the typical questions every orphan has, why wasn't she wanted and what did she do wrong, to the more evolved queries specific to her own circumstance such as why was she created. And sitting in front of her now is one of the only remaining sources who could possibly answer. Yet Cindy just sits there, entirely inaccessible.

It makes her angry. Jac recognizes the feeling when she looks up from the floor. A frustration with the unfairness of it that, were she anywhere else, would probably lead to screaming and things being thrown around. It prickles through her chest and burns her eyes. Her hands drop to her sides and fold into fists, and she angles her face to the side.

The teen pulls in a deep breath, holds it for a count of three, then releases it. The desire to rage remains, but it's lessened a little; maybe it'll stay more manageable.

“I guess,” Jac begins, voice suddenly unsteady. Her eyes flick toward Aria then away without really focusing on her host. “At least… at least I've seen you.” That's directed at Cindy, along with a hard, hurt look. She's not sure what she expected, even knowing about Cindy’s state. More unspoken words hang for a beat, and then Jac wanders forward, a hand reaching to lightly touch Cindy’s shoulder, in that comforting way of hers, on her way past.

Cindy’s eyes focus on Jac’s like the girl had tripped over an old landmine from a forgotten war. Jac’s heart leaps into her throat as she sees those blue eyes fixed on her own, the gaunt lines of Cindy’s cheeks. But then she feels Cindy’s hand grab her by the wrist and—

Thirty-Seven Years Earlier

The Deveaux Building, Lobby

November 8th

It’s raining outside.

A torrential downpour hammers on the city of New York. A handful of darkly dressed Company agents mill around the lobby of the Deveaux Building, most of whom are smoking cigarettes. There are a line of cars waiting out front, all of them black four-door towncars, big boaty luxury vehicles.

Maury Parkman lingers by the front doors of the Deveaux Building, watching the rain streaking down the glass in ever-forking paths. On hearing the sound of footsteps approaching across the lobby, he turns and puts on his fedora. “Charles just went upstairs,” Maury says with a look to the elevator, then back to the small group approaching.

“Then we’ve plenty of time.” Daniel Linderman carefully guides the trembling, sleight frame of Cindy Morrison with his suit jacket draped over her shoulders and an arm around her back. Cindy stares ahead, vacantly, hair matted to her face from the rain, shivering from both the cold and something bone-deep.

“You want me to take her to Arthur?” Maury asks, glancing out the door to the cars. Linderman shakes his head, looking in the other direction to the elevators, then back to Maury.

“No. Take her out to Rikers, put her in the guest suite,” Linderman says under his breath, looking back at the sound of a door opening behind him. From the stairs access, Alphonse Baumann slowly approaches in fedora and glasses, his long black coat buttoned closed. “Alphonse, is Caspar ready?”

Alphonse nods slowly, looking from Linderman to Cindy. “This is a great deal of work for one girl.” He admits with a look back to Daniel. “There’s easier ways to make sure someone stays quiet.”

“This isn’t about silence, this is about preparedness.” Linderman says with tightness in his voice. “This was just a setback, we must simply be patient.”

Nodding, Alphonse reaches up with a gloved hand and brushes a lock of Cindy’s hair from her face, then affords Maury with a silent and lingering look, and turns around to head back toward the elevators.

“You’re sure you don’t want to take her to Arthur?” Maury says with a worried look down at Cindy. “He’s gonna ask questions. We could hide her under his—”

“Arthur can’t ask questions about what he doesn’t remember. Let me handle him.” Linderman says with an edge to his voice, gently guiding Cindy to Maury. “And, word to the wise, don’t go too deep into her mind if you intend to keep your own.

Maury smiles a nervous, fretting thing and puts his arm around Cindy’s shoulders. As he shoulders the front doors open and leads the girl out into the rain, Daniel Linderman stands in silence, watching as the two disappear into the downpour.

Present Day


Jac feels the pull of hands at her shoulders and is dragged away from Cindy. Aria’s grip is vice tight as she pulls Jac out from her mother’s reach, and Jac sees Cindy’s wide eyes locked on her begin to dim and grow distant as their proximity fades. Aria interposes herself between Jac and Cindy, watching as the older woman slowly sinks back into her fugue state.

Turning around, Aria looks wide-eyed at Jac. “Are you okay?!”

Jac gasps when she's pulled free, pulling air back into her lungs like she'd been deprived. From behind Aria she stares at Cindy, wide eyed and almost accusatory. What was that!? The experience has left her shaken and feeling trembly. That memory, or whatever it was, definitely doesn’t belong to her. But, as time creates space from the moment of contact to the moment it was broken, tiny tendrils of curiosity creep into her.

With arms wrapping around her middle, Jac tips a small nod before lifting her eyes to Aria. “I'm okay, just…” It seemed like she was there, watching the Company people plan, but that's impossible. Cindy was… maybe the same age Jac is now. “Has… has that ever happened before?” Did Aria see it too? All those people on the rooftop, preparing to do something to Cindy. Her eyes return to the woman in the chair. “What did you do?”

Aria is silent. Wide-eyed and silent. She creeps out of the kitchen, watching Cindy with the wary look of someone approaching a wild animal. She doesn’t close in all the way on either Cindy or Jac, instead keeping the coffee table between herself and them both. Though she says nothing, Jac can read her stunned silence to say: I didn’t do anything.

Cindy, likewise, says nothing. With proximity gone, her listless eyes unfocus and she stares off into the middle distance with no recognition of Jac’s presence. The television is the only noise in the apartment for a long time.

“What happened?” Aria finally asks, breathlessly so, in the wake of the long silence.

“I don’t know.” It would be a lie, if Jac even knew how to explain what she just experienced. She looks both afraid and puzzled. Something important happened that night. “It was like…” Being there, wherever and whenever there was. Without any kind of reference, there’s no way to place any of it, except on a rooftop. She reaches out with a hand, toward the spaces she remembers being occupied by Maury and Alphonse, head and eyes turning just enough to where she’d seen Linderman standing. “I touched her arm and…”

Jac looks up at Aria, brows lifting toward her hairline for emphasis. “I think she did something. I saw her, she was younger though, and some others. All on a rooftop. It was like I was there. I think she’s… maybe trying to… communicate?” Uncertainty in that assumption draws her eyes back to Cindy. And her hand reaches toward the woman, more cautiously than before.

Aria looks warily between Jac and Cindy. “She’s clairvoyant,” is all Aria says for a moment, seemingly afraid of her own voice. “She’s—she could see things. Not the past or the future, though. Things happening now. But…” Aria looks over to Jac, “there were experiments the Company did, she was able to imprint her visions on magnetic tape.” Aria’s eyes track back to Cindy.

“Maybe… it’s more than clairvoyance.” Aria murmurs, reaching for her phone in her jacket pocket. She quickly texts Monica, letting her know the development, then tucks the phone back into her jacket. “This may have been a mistake, maybe we should… wait on this, until we understand what we’re dealing with better.”

Jac’s hand hesitates, hovering in the space between herself and Cindy as Aria stumbles after some form of reasoning. What happened didn't seem like clairvoyance. There isn't anything in the teen's experience to know that, but she's already decided it’s something important.

Her eyes go to Aria, anger at the sudden change in stance pulling her expression into a frown. The mistake was maybe saying anything at all. That's how it always ends when adults are included in things, they just take over. This time it strikes a nerve.

Like an animal that's been teased with a prize too many times, Jac turns away from her host to face Cindy. She doesn't want to wait, doesn't care to wait anymore. With both hands, she grasps Cindy’s head. Far more gentleness is given to the woman who'd given her life than the hastiness of her motions might show. As her fingers find resting points on Cindy’s temples, Jac brings her own head down to look into her faraway eyes.

“Jac, wait.” Aria says with a flutter of nerves. “Don—”

Thirteen Years Earlier

Pinehearst Headquarters
Fort Lee, New Jersey

December 11th

A blinding light flashes in front of Cindy’s eyes.

When it sweeps away, a short brunette doctor shakes her head. “No pupil response, I don’t think she’s in there.” A lanyard around her neck ends in a badge with a green and blue double helix logo and the word PINEHEARST down the side. There’s a photograph of her on the ID card, though she’s blonde in it. The doctor’s name: Alison Meier.

Beside Dr. Meier, Maury Parkman looks tired and old. “I can feel her,” he says, pointing two fingers at Cindy. “She’s in there, she’s just not doing anything. You need to restrain her. Trust me.”

Dr. Meier looks over at Maury with a squint, then back to Cindy. “Fine,” she relents, turning off her pen light. “Doctor Ford already sent over Jacelyn’s tissue sample, I had a chance to start the sequencing last night. It should be done by this afternoon.”

Maury nods, slowly, rubbing his stubbled chin. “How long to run Cindy’s and compare?” He asks, anxiously.

Dr. Meier tucks her pen light in a pocket of her vest and turns her back to Cindy. “Another day, tops. We’re running sequence comparisons daily, so I can just slot them into the normal schedule. But I’m not an idiot, Maury.”

Meier’s assertion has Maury’s lips tense, his throat working up and down.

“You didn’t run anything by Mr. Petrelli. And,” Alison says as she raises one hand, “I don’t care. But I know better than to try and hide my understanding or my intentions from a telepath. You do whatever it is you want to do, and it’s your head if Arthur takes umbrage with you rooting around in someone’s genes behind his back.”

“You’re smarter than you look,” Maury says with a gruff snort. “You just keep your head down in the books, Doctor Meier.”

Alison tilts her head to the side. “Question of professional curiosity?” She wonders.

“Sure.” Maury agrees, feeling charitable.

“What did you fuck up so badly that you’re hiding it from Mr. Petrelli?” Alison asks directly, crossing her arms over her chest.

Maury blanches at the accusation, but smiles at being called out by someone without his gift. “We lost track of our failsafe,” he says with a spread of his hands, “Linderman’s a lot better at the shell game than we thought, and it’s too early to play hardball with him and reveal our hand.”

Alison narrows her eyes and shakes her head. “I don’t follow, what failsafe?” She squints harder. “I thought Mr. Linderman was a part of all this?”

“Don’t worry about it.” Maury says with a look to Cindy. “Just make sure you get the full sequencing comparison and give it to me, personally. I’ll be back around tomorrow to pick it up.”

Alison looks stunned. “Wait,” she bleats out like a surprised sheep, “are you expecting me to baby-sit your vegetable until—”

Present Day


Aria’s voice floods Jac’s ears, and she feels the telepath’s hands on her shoulders, pulling her away from Cindy. Jac’s mind reels, vertigo sets in, and she feels like it’s impossible to determine where up is.

As she's pulled backward, Jac nearly manages a single step forward in resistance. She just needs a few minutes, or a few seconds more to see what else was said. But somehow, the floor seems too far away when she tries to break from Aria's hold. For a second, the teen flails like a cat who's misstep took her off a ledge, with arms outstretched and fingers splayed, unable to right herself and land on her feet.

Suddenly the floor is very close, rising up to meet her in the most dizzying and disorienting way. Jac crashes into the carpet, barely grazing Cindy's chair on the way down. Sweat prickles her forehead and the back of her neck, and she squeezes her eyes shut in an effort to find her bearings.

Jac,” Aria breathlessly states, kneeling beside the teen with her hand on Jac’s back. “Hold on, you need to relax. We don’t know what’s happening here. I grazed your mind and saw you having some sort of vivid flashback. We don’t know what kind of damage that might be causing.”

Aria looks up warily to Cindy, but the older woman is just staring off vacantly into the distance. Steeling herself, Aria looks back down to Jac. “How do you feel? Talk to me.”

Jac’s eyes stay closed, her breathing slow and steady in through her nose then out through her mouth. After a moment, she puts her hands under her shoulder and pushes herself up from the floor. Dizziness still assails her, the movement of sitting leaves her looking unwell for several seconds. Even still, she shrugs off Aria’s concerns. “I’m okay.” The lie comes easily when she opens her eyes again, and lifts them to look at Cindy.

“They did something to her, she’s trying to tell me what happened.” There’s no way for Jac to really know that for sure, but what she’s already seen seems to be a solid case. “They did something, and it’s related to what they did to me too.” Blue eyes turn from Cindy to Aria, searching, pleading for understanding. “I need to know.”

“You need to not fry your brain like an egg.” Aria says with a touch of maternal resolve. “You’re not wrong,” she adds after a moment of consideration, looking from Jac to Cindy. “I want to know what’s going on as much as you do.” She blinks her attention back to Jac. “And I mean that. But right now, we need to understand what she’s doing to you, if it’s actually her, and if there’s any long-term repercussions.”

Aria slowly steps between Jac and Cindy, with her back to the older woman. “We can run some tests, on you and her,” she says with a motion back to Cindy, then back to Jac. “But if we do this alone, unprepared, you run the risk of winding up just like her. And who does that save?”

“You can't.” It's probably an idiom being used, but Jac argues with Aria as if the words were literal. There's no possible way Aria could want to know just as much as Jac herself does. It's frustrating. Being told to slow down and warned of the dangers like a little kid would be warned is frustrating too. It shows in the set of her jaw and thinning of her lips.

Just to prove there is nothing wrong with her, that her brain hasn't been fried by the deluge of foreign memories, the teen stands. Hands use the chair beside her for extra leverage and to give herself a point of reference against the disorienting ripples of vertigo.

“Then call your scientists.” Jac looks past Aria to Cindy. “I can wait.”

And so, it would seem, could the truth.

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