claire_icon.gif matt_icon.gif

Scene Title Imagine
Synopsis Imagine all the people…
Date September 21, 2008

Department of Homeland Security — Detainment

While accommodations within Homeland Security's New York detention center aren't as bad as some of their more permanent incarceration facilities, they aren't much better than Primatech Paper's 'level five' either. Thick concrete walls and thicker steel doors have been installed to pen up the worst of those that the branch deals with, and it is within one of these sparsely furnished rooms that Matthew Parkman sits now, in a chair he's brought in and set up opposite the single cot, waiting for the regenerative Claire Bennett to wake.

Last night was a long, tough night for them both, and the dark circles under the top agent's eyes are a testament to how much sleep he's gotten. But in a gesture of good will, he's not about to deprive the young girl the pleasure. He sits with his fingers laced, arms on his knees. His tie is loose, and his jacket is missing, making the shoulder-holster and pistol visible both to Claire, should she awake, and the guard watching through the square of bulletproof glass on the other side of the door.

Since the raid, Claire hasn't spoken a word. She refuses to offer anything up to anyone in the facility, and she's even done her best to keep her mind a blank, lest Parkman read her thoughts. This is probably the most difficult task. Staring at the wall and trying not to think is impossible for any human being. She's taken to attempting to conjugate Spanish verbs in her head.

Waking comes slowly to Claire, who frowns at the concrete wall she sees when her eyes open. She's facing away from Parkman, but after a moment of the general where am I? that anyone goes through when they wake up somewhere unfamiliar, she's back to guarding her thoughts.

Yo soy. Tú eres. Él es. Nosotros somos. Vosotros sois. Ellos son.

There's more than one way to make a caged bird sing. As soon as that wakeful question pierces through the metaphorical air, Parkman inhales sharply, silently. He narrows his eyes and tightens his lips as he takes his power one step further than where it usually rests.

Tell me how you knew.

It's a command in Parkman's own voice, but being mental is more forceful than any verbal plea. Finding out the terrorists' source is just as important as anything else, in Parkman's eyes. Especially since he has his own people to protect from future attack.

Tell me the truth, Claire.

If she doesn't tell him anything, then she can't lie, can she? "Yo voy. Tú vas. Él va." Claire rolls over on the cot and sits up, facing Parkman now. "Nosotros vamos. Vosotros vais. Ellos van." From the way she speaks, Spanish is definitely not a language she's studied with much formality, but it makes for a good way to keep her mind occupied.

Talk to me, Claire, Parkman demands. "I'm not interested in where they are, or even where they might have run to by now," he reassures, but there is an urgent harshness in his voice. "I just want to know how you knew what you knew. I need to know where the leak was. What if Sylar found it while you patched him up, hm? Was it your blood that did it Claire? Did you keep that monster from bleeding out?"

Claire hesitates for a moment. "Yo hago. Tú haces. Él… Él…" She closes her eyes. Él.. ha… "Hace. Nost- We thought he was Mohinder." She purses her lips fiercely. "It's not like I checked to see if we were blood type matches. He didn't lose enough blood to need a transfusion." It's clear she doesn't understand what he means by using her blood to patch up Sylar. "All I did was make stew for him. He doesn't know anything. If he does, he didn't hear it from me." She turns her head to glare at the wall. "Nosotros hacemos. Vosotros hacéis. Ellos hacen."

"No one is going to blame you if you tell me anything, Claire. And believe me, it will be less painful for you if you do." Parkman sighs, but his gaze remains steady. He's seen enough strong-willed people buckle under his interrogation to know he doesn't want Claire to suffer the same fate if she can help it. "But there's no reason why we shouldn't work together against a common enemy. I know you and your friends aren't big fans of me, of us, but let's face facts - the world could use someone like you right now. Someone like your Uncle." Especially if they come with an army of Evolved in tow.

Claire turns her glare on Parkman. "I'm not afraid of you. I'm not afraid of anything. I didn't organize the raid. I don't know where the information came from. And I'm not about to point you in the right direction, either." She leans forward, defiance etched in her features now. "Yo estoy. Tú estás. Él está." Each word is enunciated in such an exaggerated manner as to prove her point. She has no intention of giving him anything he wants. "Nosotros estamos. Vosotros estáis. Ellos están." Should I go on? I can do this all day.

That's fine.

Parkman pushes up and away from his chair, moving solemnly behind it to fold it back up again. His movements are slow and methodical, and it would seem that he's taking extra time to make each squeak and clack of the metal ring out as loud and as long as it can in the small room. In suit, his footsteps toward the steel door are just as pointed. He stops before it, turning back to look at Claire over his shoulder. His expression has not changed.

But can you live with that guilt on your shoulders for the rest of your incredibly long life?

"I have no reason to feel any guilt, Parkman. I've done nothing wrong." Claire seems quite convinced of this. "Sylar has no more information than you do. He's gotten what he wanted from this facility, it would seem. He's lost his alliance with PARIAH. He has nothing. You have nothing. And I…" She rests her hands on the bed to either side of her and leans back with a coy smile, "I have no guilt."

A somewhat righteous smirk twinges one side of Parkman's mouth, then he shakes his head. "Not yet," he says as he gives the guard a nod and the muffled sounds of the heavy door being unbolted reverberate through the metal.

Imagine a world where Sylar roams free, and no one is able to stop him.

The suggestion is strong, reinforced by Parkman's own contempt at the lack of cooperation and his hatred and fear of the serial 'acquisition' murderer. It is so strong, in fact, that when the door closes once Parkman has walked through, the bang of the steel when it slams home slams Claire into another reality.

Unlike time travel, however, this reality is in Claire's own mind.

What would a world where Sylar roams free and unchecked be like?

Inside the cell and through the window, Claire stands up from the bed and she looks suddenly terrified. "Hello? HELLO!!!" She's looking around frantically, clearly not seeing the walls that surround her, but something else entirely. "No. No! Oh, no no no no no…"

Claire stands in the ruins of Midtown, a place she knows very well. A place she goes to think.

A place now littered with the bodies of her friends. She runs to each of them in turn, heads sliced open, brains removed. Only one is still alive. One didn't quite get finished off.


Claire takes off toward her boyfriend's prone form. He was worked over before it would seem that Sylar was interrupted. He's losing too much blood and he has a long bloody line across his forehead that isn't quite complete. "West! West, I'm here! Hang in there. You can't leave me. You can't. You can't go!" She clutches the groaning young man to her chest and rocks back and forth with him, sobbing. He's dying in her arms. "Don't you go!"

It wasn't Parkman's intention to catapult Claire into an imagination fueled illusion, but everyone makes mistakes. The Agent lingers outside the door, talking in low tones with God only knows who.

It's certainly not something that registers with Claire. West coughs, weakly reaching for Claire to embrace her in turn, but his fingers glance off of her arm no matter how tightly she holds him.

"Hello, Claire," comes that dark, almost velvety voice of the same man who chased her through the halls of her old high school in Texas.

It's then that West screams. Every ounce of his strength is used in an attempt to push himself away from Claire, for it's she who is keeping him from running away from the man behind her. The man who slowly draws a finger through the air, continuing to split the skin, muscle, and bone on the young man's forehead.

"NO!!" Claire screams and scrambles to her feet, rushing at Sylar without any regard for her own safety. If she can just knock him down and break his concentration… "West! Get out of here!" Maybe he can still fly. Oh, she hopes he can still fly.

There are bigger things to worry about though, and Claire should know better. She does know better. It only takes the lifting of Sylar's other hand to hold the cheerleader at bay behind a telekinetic field as he strides forward, as if nothing whatsoever was wrong with Midtown, toward West's now crumpled, bleeding, wide-eyed body on the pavement. "Do you know how many children dream that they could fly, Claire?" he asks as he stoops over the teenager's body, using his other hand to push away the top half of his head with a single finger, exposing the pink twists and curls of his brain.

"I know I've always wanted to."

No. Oh, God. No. Claire strains against the invisible force holding her in place, screaming and crying. West is dead. She couldn't save him. Just like she couldn't save New York. Couldn't stop Peter from exploding all that time ago. She wasn't strong enough then and she isn't strong enough now. She screams incoherent protests that consist mostly of obscenities. How could this have happened? How can she possibly go on after this?

With Claire so committed to this dreamscape, it suffers no ill effects when Parkman goes on about his daily business. And today, that's registering Claire Bennet as an Evolved citizen of the United States.


"Claire, you're making such an unnecessary fuss," Sylar croons as he picks and pokes at West's brain, letting his bottom lip protrude as he concentrates on it. "You'll get your turn."

"Patience is a virtue."

"You sick bastard!" Claire shout and struggles harder to break free. She can't let this happen. She can't let him get to her. If he kills her, the whole world will be in trouble. She can't let him have her ability. "I can lead you to more!" she cries. "People that will trust me. People you won't be able to find otherwise." She just needs to buy herself some time, right? She'll think of something.

But Sylar doesn't respond for several moments. When he does, it is with a slow turn of his head. HE smiles, that cool, vaguely amused smile. Straightening, he lets himself rise two feet into the air.

Then that smile cracks into a grin.

"You'd do that, Claire? What makes you think I can't do that already?" Remnants Parkman's own fear make an appearance in Claire's dream in the next words that flow from the villain's mouth.

"Twelve year-olds aren't as vicious as some people say."

"You lured everyone here," Claire reasons, forcing her brain to think. She can't bring West back. She has to try and prevent more death now. She can mourn later. For now, she contents herself with the furious tears running down her cheeks and the comfort of familiar desperation. "If you knew where to find them, you'd have picked them off one by one. But they're all here. You set a trap. You didn't know where they all were hiding."

As he floats through the air, Sylar flickers. His face, hair, and body type fluidly flex and shift until it's Mohinder who is slowly levitating toward Claire.

"You're right," he says in the doctor's voice, but as soon as he says it, he's changing again.

It is Peter Petrelli that lands in front of Claire, smiling that goofy half-smile, scar still splitting the skin of his face in two. "Wherever Peter goes. Wherever he sounds the call, everyone always flocks. You're like little sheep. And I'm the big, bad wolf."

Peter-Sylar leans his face closer to Claire, his grin growing before he scrunches his nose.


Claire tenses up, shoulders hunching up nearly to her ears as she's approached. She tries to lean away, but can't quite move that far. Oh God. Oh God, oh God, oh God. "Then I still have something to offer you that's better than just killing me." It's got to be.

"And what's that?" Sylar asks as he regains his own face and form. He smiles, those thick eyebrows lifted as he regards the blonde cheerleader as if he were a supreme emperor - no, a god - deigning to acknowledge the existence of a lesser being.

"More people are willing to trust me," Claire's lip quivers even as she tries to keep her voice even. "Sure, you could alter yourself. You could look like me. But you can't think like me. You can't know the things I know. The people I know…" Please, let this work.

Sylar leans back to look around him, one eyebrow pulled downward skeptically. "The people you know, Claire? How many of the people you know are already here? You haven't exactly had the time or opportunity to live a normal life with friends in it, now have you?"

"I know important people in the government." The girl takes a deep, steadying breath. Damn! "And I don't see any Ferrymen here. That means you haven't gotten into their organization yet."

Sylar answers with a wordless smirk. He lifts a hand to beckon to some unseen someone over his shoulder. The carnage in Midtown is vast, and the rubble extensive. Rocks fall away somewhere not too distant, and soon two bodies come hurtling through the air, as lifeless as ragdolls.

One is missing the top-half of its head.

Sylar takes a step back, lifting his other hand as the bodies of Claire's two fathers, biological and adoptive, circle around her, dusty and covered in now-dried blood.

Claire's mouth drops open and her eyes glisten again with more tears. "No! No no no no no…" She shakes her head frantically. "Let me go! Let go of me, you son of a bitch! I'll kill you! Do you hear me?! I'll kill you!"

Sylar only laughs. It starts low, almost a chuckle, but soon grows to the typical evil-maniac laugh that Claire has undoubtedly heard in movie after movie, cartoon after cartoon. And then he's gone.

The bodies of Nathan Petrelli and Noah Bennet linger in the air a few moments more, then fall in broken heaps to the ground at Claire's feet. She's free form the hold Sylar had on her, but all around here there is only violent death.

And silence.

It's her worst nightmare magnified to levels she can't even begin to have imagined on her own. And she doesn't even know how she got here. Had the Haitian gotten to her? Did somebody use an ability to confuse her and make her forget? She doesn't know. All she does know is that everyone she's cared for is dead. She crumples to the ground and screams up at the sky until her voice cracks, her throat is raw and her lungs burn.

Inside the cell, Claire has fallen to her knees, screaming and crying hysterically.

But no one comes. Not in reality, not in Claire's dream. Soon, the girl has screamed and cried herself to real, if restless sleep. Someone comes by with a plate of food, which is a far cry better than most institutional dinners these days. Hours later, undoubtedly on his way out the door to go home, or perhaps to go see Molly, Parkman returns.

He stands just inside the closed door, hands in his pockets. Squinting, he searches through Claire's sleeping, nightmarish mind, and what he finds only make him frown deeply.

Claire, he mentally calls to her. Claire, wake up. You're safe. Wake up, Claire.

Claire wakes up with a jolt, uncurling from the fetal position she was huddled in on the floor and scrambling to her hands and knees to peer about frantically. Where is he? Where is that freak?! When she lays eyes on Parkman, she's furious. "What did you do to me?!" She glares through a tangled mess of brown hair.

Him? Parkman? The agent's eyebrows furrow at the accusation. "You just had a bad dream, Claire. That's all. But you're alright." Sighing, Parkman leans back against the wall behind him and tightens his lips, pulling the bottom one in for a moment. "I thought you might want to talk a little more, but if you'd rather not, I'll understand." After a dream like that, it would make sense that the girl'd want some real sleep.

"You're lying." She scrabbles away from Matt to take refuge in the corner. "You closed that door and then-" The tears prick at her eyes again and she turns her face in toward the wall. "I hate you." Claire's very much a scared little girl right now, despite the years and the tough words. He killed everyone. What if he's doing that right now?

Realizing what must have happened, Parkman scrambles to use the unfortunate event to his advantage. "I asked you what a world without anyone stopping Sylar would be like," he says calmly, with only a marginal tint of offense in his voice. "It's not my fault you're a kid with an overactive imagination. But if you didn't like that idea, maybe you can do something to help us not let it happen."

"Go to Hell," Claire whimpers. "I want to go home. Keeping me here isn't going to do you any good. Let me go home."

Parkman studies the girl cowering in the corner for a few moments, then nods. It's not as if he won't be able to contact the Petrelli's to try and get a hold of her again. Inhaling with a sniff, he nods. "Sure. Fine." Parkman reaches into his jacket pocket and withdraws an identification card and a business card. The former has Claire's name and information on it, the latter, Parkman's. "Don't lose these," he says in a more docile tone. "If you do, and you're stopped, they'll just bring you back in. And if you decide you'd like to help us, help the world, give me a call. I'll have someone come get you and take you to your grandmother's."

"You registered me?" Claire gasps incredulously. How could you do that?! "I'm not going to my grandm—" She stops herself and wipes at her eyes. Actually, that may not be the worst place to be right now. "Fine."

Saying much more might just send Claire into more tears and have a counterproductive effect on Claire regarding her cooperation with Homeland Security. "I'll phone her myself to let her know you're coming," Parkman comments by way of farewell, leaving the cards balanced on the corner of the so far ignored tray of food. Without another word, Parkman leaves Claire's cell for the second time today, once again empty handed.

After the agent's departure, Claire crawls over to the tray to retrieve the two cards left for her.


September 21st: Regression

Previously in this storyline…
Escape, Evade, Regroup

Next in this storyline…
You're Very Analytical

September 21st: You're Very Analytical
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