If Jessica Had More Class


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Scene Title If Jessica Had More Class
Synopsis Niklaus arranges a meeting with his sister to deliver her a message from the mysterious powers that be. Mysterious to her.
Date December 12, 2010

John F. Murray Playground

Burned beyond recognition, the small park and playground that once sat at the heart of Hunter's Point is now little more than an open concrete plain littered with the warped shapes of carousels, see-saws and swing sets. Fire swept across the open park like an incendiary windstorm during the November 8th, 2010 riots leaving the playground barren and desolate. The burned out hulks of cars parked along the streetside are equally warped and twisted by intense heat. Broken glass lies shattered on the ground along with half-burned trash and odd sights, like a perfectly undamaged tennis shoe hanging from a blackened tree. Little is left here of what this place once was.

There are few better analogies to lost childhood than a ruined playground.

Niklaus Zimmerman isn't much for dramatic allusions, but his choice of meeting place is as much without his direct design. The isolation and privacy of the Hunter's Point Ruins serve as a practical backdrop for a brief interlude with someone that he has never had the opportunity to know well in his life. Amidst the burned and charred remains of children's happiness, Niklaus is a dour fixture. Seated atop a heat-warped metal carousel, Niklaus' posture is slouched and the front of his buttoned-down brown trench coat concealing much of his broad-shouldered frame. A canary yellow scarf made of thick wool keeps his throat warm as best as it can, while brown suede gloves conceal his still cold hands,

On the carousel beside Niklaus rests not a person, but an envelope. Manilla, plain, unmarked, it serves as a reminder in his weak peripheral vision of his professional reason for coming here, outside of his private one.

Niklaus' attention is fixed elsewhere, though, out beyond the black silhouettes of fire-gutted tenement buildings and distant chain-link fence. Niklaus' mind is focused on what anyone who had come here before its ruin might have: childhood. More specifically, Niklaus' abundant lack thereof.

If things had turned out very differently four years and change ago, Niki may have taken her son to this park. The ghost of his laughter may still be ringing in her ears. — And it does. But it isn't memories of this place, but memories of places that were much like it. It feels like so long ago.

Someone else ago.

Jessica Sanders cuts a subdued figure in her own black trench coat, her hands tucked into the pockets. Subdued except perhaps for the pale pink stocking cap over her head with a pom-pom'd top, flaps over the ears, and tassels dangling from them. A Christmas gift from Micah, pulled out of the closet to ward of the cold.

The coat the child had intended it to match was replaced years ago, and so the hat stayed tucked away for quite some time. Until Gina decided to put pink and purple streaks in her hair last spring. What began of practicality was carried on by nostalgia. There isn't a sign of even a highlight in Jessica's dyed-brown hair. Micah was their son. Hers and Niki's. Tough as she is, even she enjoys some reminders of his life.

"Niklaus," the woman greets when she's close enough to keep the level of her voice conversational. Niki's had a habit of calling her brother 'Klaus. But perhaps the formality doesn't seem so out of place to the brother of Jessica's sister.

Yeah. One shouldn't try too hard to wrap their head around that.

Awkward formality is the measure of normality in the Zimmerman family, if it can even be called that much. Niklaus rises with some stiffness to Jessica's arrival, reaching down to sweep up the Manilla folder and keep it at his side as he crosses the distance of blackened concrete towards her.

"I'm… sorry it took me so long to…" Niklaus' brows furrow as his voice trails off, bespectacled eyes hidden behind the glare of distant lights off of the lenses. "I spoke with Richard a few days ago, 'und he told me that we should meet. I— I agreed, I do… miss you…" As much as anyone can miss a practical stranger that he unknowingly shared fifty-percent of his biological make up with.

"There are some less emotional reasons for my wishing to meet with you as well," Niklaus admits, tapping the folder against his jacket-covered leg as if in demonstration. "How… how are you?" It sounds difficult to ask, the latter less so. "How is… how is Barbara?"

Jessica doesn't seem to share Niklaus' sentiments, lifting only one sculpted brow when he professes to have missed her. A cursory glance is sent to the envelope in his possession, but no more than that. She has to keep aware of the space around them. She's watching Niklaus' back, and - giving him a generous benefit of the doubt - expects he's watching hers.

"I'm fine," she tells him. "Barbara seems well." She pauses a moment, her shoulders hunching up against the cold, trying to nudge the collar of her coat up around her neck without having to actually move her hands from the warmth of her pockets to do it. "Niki's not doing very well."

Hi, I'm Jessica. I will be your sever today.

"She thought you were dead, you know. Both she and Barbara have been worried." It's an accusing look that Niklaus receives from Jessica. His reasons for letting her sister think she'd lost more family had better be good.

The feigned smile Niklaus manages conveys a oh this is what Richard meant when he said you were crazy sort of manic look in his eyes. Sniffing noisily, Niklaus rubs one gloved finger beneath his nose, then waves one hand dismissively in the air. "There is nothing I can do about that, is there? I am not dead, Niki is right in front of me," he protests to the psychotic woman in front of him, "and no permanent harm was done." He has no way of coping with this sort of situation, no emotional training to delicately assuage the concerns of a sister he'd never known, one who wears the face of a sister he did.

Funny, that, given why he's here.

"Our mother is the one who took me away," Niklaus explains with a furrow of his brows. "She is here, in the city. Safe." Alive goes unsaid, he'd hoped Cardinal would have informed Niki of that much. "It is… risky, for her to try and make contact, at least before now. But she wanted me to give you an invitation, you and Barbara both, to go see her." Holding out the Manilla envelope, Niklaus' brows furrow together implying that it isn't just as simple as an invitation.

On the side of the envelope Niklaus reveals, there's a business card paper clipped to the end of the folder, facing Jessica's perspective. Red, white and gray, with white font face and a stylized ochre design that vaguely resembles a flame, or maybe some kind of stylized question-mark.

"You should open it here," Niklaus admits with a furrow of his brows.

Jessica takes the envelope, and casts a look down at the ground, at broken windows, shards of bottles, crumpled wads of newsprint that have since blown past the chain link fence and into the ruins. She catches her reflection and her expression softens, her shoulders losing some of that tenseness.

"'Klaus." Niki stops herself just short of reaching out, pausing with an expression that asks his permission to continue. "I'm sorry. She… I…" She shakes her head and examines the business card first. "Gramercy Park, huh?" In her mind, she can hear the shudder of glass as Jessica pounds her fist against the prison that only exists in her head. She was taking care of things.

What does Niki know about control?

"Barbara misses you," Niki tells her brother as she opens the envelope to remove its contents. "…What's our mother like?" Despite the question, which has been burning in her mind, consuming all other thoughts like dry leaves, she knows whatever she's been handed is too important to dismiss.

"Jessica," is an uncomfortable answer from Niklaus to the question of what their mother is like. "If Jessica had more class, at any rate. She is a strong woman, made only stronger by her struggles. The entire coven of hags," as Niklaus is quick to put it, "is interested in making sure that the contents of that envelope reach Barbara. Since neither I nor they know where to find her, we were hoping you might be able to reach out. I can't risk being in public too much, one wrong camera spots me, one wrong soldier… and it suddenly will become very uncomfortable to be me."

Niklaus looks away, brows furrowed, then subtly back up to Niki as she scans the documents inside. It's all rather obvious once the first black and white glossy surveillance photograph comes out of the envelope, showing a tall, blonde, immaculately dressed woman with dark sunglasses on a cell phone surrounded by men in suits.

Tracy Strauss.

Beneath the picture are documents of Ms. Strauss' schedule and daily routine, transcripts of private emails of little consequence on the surface. More photographs of she and Nathan Petrelli standing on the steps of Congress. A photograph of Tracy shaking hands with the Prime Minister of Madagascar.

"The, ah, ladies have a suggestion for Barbara and the people she works for," Niklaus admits with a raise of one brow. "They would see it beneficial for Barbara to replace Tracy, and give her network and whomever is connected with it a concerted edge over this government. Foresight, as it were, by proximity to events closer than you or I."

Niklaus furrows his brows and looks his half-sister up and down slowly. "It is our mother's idea."

"Tracy," Niki murmurs. She recognises her sister, if only because she knows her own style. Her brows furrow when Niklaus explains why she's the focal point. "Why Barbara? I don't think Barbara's conscience is… I think she's too good a person to play deceptive like that. You should see her squirm when I take her out for a little bee-and-ee." Because breaking and entering is a great family bonding activity.

"I'm not… doubting her capabilities, but…" It's clear she doesn't understand the choice. Perhaps she doesn't know her other sister as well as she thinks she does. "Our mother wants us to do this? What about Tracy? If Barbara or I replace her, what happens to her?"

A dirty look is shot to a shard of glass, whatever comment Jessica just made was unappreciated.

Niklaus seems worried on consideration of that question. "She didn't specify," happens to leave Tracy's fate remarkably up in the air, "although I'm inferring that she'd prefer her daughter to be unharmed. But I don't think we can very well have two Tracy Strauss' running around Washington all willy-nilly," all willy-nilly, he says.

"As to why Barbara, I can only imagine that when the crones were sharing their eye around the room they foresaw something of some importance involving Barbara," he admits in tongue-in-cheek fashion with a chuff of breath masking a laugh. "But I cannot begin to profess what those women would have any one person do, any more than I can explain the course of action of their little sword-wielding courier."

Sliding gloved hands into his pockets, Niklaus narrows his eyes at Niki, then looks down to the folder. "There… is one more matter to bring up as well, and this one from a person of an entirely different form of disturbing clairsentience." Looking into the ruins when the wind howls through them, Niklaus half expects the shadows to introduce him. The silence is refreshing.

"Our mutual friend Richard says you owe him some documents?" Niklaus flicks his attention back to Niki, looking at her over the rims of his slouched glasses. "He would like them, sooner rather than later."

"You're talking in riddles, 'Klaus," Niki notes with some small annoyance. "Who are these crones and – Sword-wieling courier?" She knows one man who fits that bill. "Hiro Nakamura?"

The mention of Cardinal wanting the documents he sent her for draws a scowl. "Message received." She fixes the older man with a wary look. "Between us? Between siblings?" As in, what she's about to say stays there…

Niklaus' expression is a markedly guarded one, and any allusion to the Norns or the Fates or mythology are left by the wayside as he hunches his shoulders forward, cages his appearance and refuses to acknowledge one way or another that Hiro Nakamura has anything to do with anyone. Though at Niki's — or is it Jessica's — request, the German tilts his chin up and narrows his eyes.

"No bond more sacred than blood," he admits in a conversational tone, "diluded though it may be." One fair brow alights on Niklaus' forehead, and he considers the notion, but leaves nothing more needing to be said. He wants to hear what she has to say.

"Richard's fucked up. He's done wrong by me. By my family. I have… Very little intention of actually letting him have control of this documentation." Niki's lips purse, and she turns her head away, pulling a blown strand of hair away from her lips, peering at its shade as though it's the first time she's noticed it.

"That man, d'Sarthe. He's tried to kill Monica. Tried to kill her grandmother. Tried to kill her brother just for his relation. Richard couldn't even keep his own man alive." Kain Zarek. "I don't know who he thinks he's going to hand Linderman's empire over to. I just don't know if I can trust him with this. I'm… making Linderman my problem."

Tears glint in Niki's eyes, remaining unshod for now. Just a glimmer. "I don't know what you've been told… But Daniel Linderman is the reason my son, your nephew, is dead. Why you'll never get to know Micah." Her hand comes up to cover her mouth, though she doesn't press her fingers against her lips so as not to muffle her next words. "He would have loved to have met you. And you would have loved him."

Niklaus has a different direction to lay blame, but the knee-jerk reaction remains quiet and unfounded. "I don't much care what you do with it," Niklaus admits with a raise of his brows, "but I do know from my experiences, that what you have is something Richard Cardinal wants very much…" Tilting his head to the side, the German raises one brow slowly. "You can do what you want, gain leverage over him maybe? Make it hurt?"

Niklaus has no genetic imperative to care about Monica Dawson or her family, they're names and faces he'll never likely know. That they're important to Niki is only as tangentially important to Niklaus as she is to him. "But you should know this… if it weren't for Richard, and his schemes? My mother, your mother," he motions with a gloved hand back and forth between himself and his half sister, "would be dead."

That hand lifts, pushing Niklaus' glasses up the bridge of his nose slowly to reflect the glint of light towards Niki and hide his eyes.

Niki's jaw trembles, her lips press together in a tight line to suppress emotion. Her son missing out on an uncle is a fresh wound. The voice Micah left isn't just in her own heart, even if other people don't realise it. That all too familiar feeling of helplessness washes over her, drags her down.

Or perhaps that's just Jessica, grabbing for purchase and control over them again. "I want to meet her," is spoken more smoothly, a small smirk playing over her lips. "Your mother. Niki's mother." Dissociative to the point of rejecting Niki's family as her own. "Maybe I can track down Barbara and the three of us can make an outing of it?"

The envelope is raised, waved a moment for emphasis before the contents are carefully tucked back inside. "I'll see what I can do about Strauss. She shouldn't be much trouble. If she won't help Barbara or I step into her life willingly, well… I'll take care of it."

"I imagine that's what she'd want," is Niklaus' oblique answer, brows furrowed and tense when Niki finally slips back into her own tragic insanity. He eyes the folder, then Niki— no— Jessica and offers her an anxious smile. There's no goodbye shared between the siblings, just Niklaus slowly turning away and furrowing his brows, lifting up one hand in a passing wave as he starts to tread across the park.

"I'll see you when you see mother," Niklaus explains as his farewell. Because wherever Mrs. Zimmerman is, Niklaus isn't far behind. But then again, neither are any of the other old crones as Niklaus called them.

Hopefully for Barbara's sake she's understanding of the suggestion being made.

It means there's a family reunion coming.

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