Just A Memory


cat_icon.gif mason_icon.gif

Scene Title Just A Memory
Synopsis Returning home to Hartford Connecticut, Catherine Chesterfield revisits the memories of her past, and is confronted with the uncertain nightmare of her future.
Date June 12, 2009

Chesterfield Residence - Hartford Connecticut

The message is fresh in her mind as she parks the car outside the house she was raised in, as is her reply to it.


Thursday, June 11

Can't go to your house. Not safe. Arthur has lost his mind. No one is safe. Get out of New York.

Will meet you at house in Hartford tomorrow evening.

So here Cat is, stepping out of her 2008 Neon at 17:23, a few minutes earlier than she was expected here. Attire for the occasion is more formal than she would normally wear: this is Father's house and despite the peril his message indicated, she comes dressed for dinner in a real dress of a light purple and heels. They tap across the pavement as she approaches the door and opens it. There's no knocking, this is still a place she simply walks into if the door is unlocked, and upon entry she looks for the maid who would customarily be heading that way. Or Father. Maybe both.

Or, alternately, neither.

It's been a long time since Cat has been back here, back to Hartford, back to where home is supposed to be. Things have changed, and not for the better. The house looks untended, not messy, but hardly the picture of organization and cleanliness that it once was. The absence of the maid is the first jarring difference that confronts her memories — that and the rearranged furniture. It's clear that however long it's been since the maid was let go, no one has been living here.

The foyer leads across hardwood floors past the sitting room, where a thin layer of dust hangs over the glass topped tables and leather furniture. A staircase leading to the second floor as a thin coat of dust on the oak banister, same with the glass door that opens up into the kitchen. Every sound in the house seems amplified by the emptiness and quiet, amplified by her memories of a busy and living home. That memory — like so many others — likely won't ever play out in these walls again.

There's no sign of Mason, not for Cat, not at all. Her car is the only one parked in the driveway.

The guitar music, though, that's—

"Catherine!" Mason's voice roars from upstairs, "How many times have I told you not to make that horrible noise downstairs! Your mother and I are trying to work!" From within the sitting room, only a faint echo of Catherine's voice is heard, nothing more than a put-upon sound, and the last twanging note from an acoustic guitar. Father doesn't approve, father doesn't understand, father knows best.//

—it's just a memory.

It's a shock, the starkness of the contrast on entering this house, which has her standing still in the entryway for some moments before moving onward. The memories progress past the rebuke of Father for her guitar and the feelings she had at that point, moving into more clear mnemonic footage than that segment from age sixteen.

But in time Cat moves, headed for the dusty stairwell and a few steps up it, eyes traveling to record all she can see here now. It's a brief period, mere seconds before she continues upward. Just around the corner at the top is the room she used as a child and on visits home while at Yale. She opens that door and peers inside, a slight smile forming as she recalls the evening she came home from school with Thomas Brentwood in tow to find neither parent home and the servants gone. They'd grabbed a bottle of wine from the 'rental supply and made use of this room. Two glasses each later, her bed was no longer a virgin's bed.

Then she enters the private bathroom just off that room, and recalls that moment some six weeks later when she stood at the sink, staring at a stick of plastic and a pink negative symbol, closing her eyes. Oh, thank you, God.'

Memories are like a texture, a familiar feeling, and they can be brought back by anything - a scent, a sound, a sight. There's so many ways these things can play out, so many ways they can come back and remind us about who we are and — more importantly — what we were. The upstairs hallway has memories of a different kind strung up framed in wood; photographs of bygone times. Images of a brunette in a floor-length robe with a square-topped cap on her head, a yellow sash around her shoulders and a leather folio held under one arm. Proud parents, proud days, probably the first time they ever seemed to approve of her.

Mason closes the car door, stepping around to open the back and offer a hand out to help his daughter out of the car. "Catherine, I was talking something over with an associate of mine the other day — how would you feel about entering law school?" Her father's hand squeezes hers a bit, not forcibly, but perhaps reinforcing his words. "I know, I know — you just finished school, but a degree in law could get you places, Catherine, take you to areas you never imagined. You could truly do something with your life, something that music won't ever take you, you could make a difference."

Her footsteps are the only ones that carry across the wood floor upstairs, though in her mind there are so many others, so many
voices, so many sounds, so many textures that have all woven into such an elegent tapestry of thoughts, hearts, and minds.

"Making a difference," Cat murmurs to the walls which don't answer. "So here we all are, living lives we never imagined we might. But music doesn't preclude making a difference, Father. I wish you could have seen that. The Beatles were as important in tearing down the Iron Curtain as any measure of military and political containment. It was that inspiration, those aspects of culture, which ultimately led the average people to throw off shackles when the political/governmental system couldn't offer more than bleak, gray, drab life and long lines for the basics because they spent so much on military prowess."

"And it was music which put me in the right place at the right time to make the difference." But, she has to admit to herself, "without the array of knowledges, I'd not be nearly as capable. It took artistic vision and pure pragmatic resolve to pull that off."

"Catherine." The sound of her father's voice is almost like a gunshot through Cat's heart with the unexpected suddenness of it. His approach had been so quiet that even the hum of his car and the clunk of the front door didn't register. Standing at the top of the stairs, down the hall, Mason looks tired and drawn thin. The dark circles around his eyes are made more prominent by the absence of his glasses. The top button of his suit is left undone, tie loose, clothing not as pressed and proper as it usually is, giving the impression of a worn and crushed man.

He swallows, awkwardly, and begins to walk down the hall towards her. "I— I was hoping it was you up here, I," his eyes dart to the side into the partially open door of her bedroom as he passes by, "I've no idea what Arthur might do."

Drawn out of her mental travels by the voice, realizing it's here and now with her and not in memory, causes Cat to stiffen briefly before turning to face him. "Father," she begins, her voice betraying some concern and intrigue, "what exactly happened?" She watches him carefully, the eyes taking a full measure of his state and mood.

A head shakes, and Mason continues down the hall, one hand resting against his forehead. He seems like a man run through the wringer, weak and tired and most certainly put upon. "I— something horrible happened, Catherine. A few days ago, Peter and Gabriel Gray arrived at the Pinehearst building just after the offices closed, they— Peter brought Gabriel to see Arthur, and it— " words come out haltingly, erratic and awkward in their delivery. "I— Arthur snapped, he just— he stole Peter's ability, I— " his hand moves to cover his mouth, "Christ I think Arthur killed him, Catherine."

Continuing the distance towards Cat, Mason furrows his brows and breathes in a shuddering breath. "Gabriel got away, kidnapped one of Arthur's test subjects, I— your mother got hurt, Catherine. I don't know how it all went down, I just— " brows furrow, crease together, and Mason looks back up to Cat slowly. "I need to ask you a very important question, and I need you to be absolutely honest," his hand comes to rest on his daughter's shoulder, squeezing firmly. "Will you help me stop him — Arthur — permanently?"

She stiffens again, hearing this, and the eyes change. There is shock at first, then concern at something said, followed by the resolution of confidence and determination. The steel in Cat's spine has come fully into play, along with a sense of loss and smoldering rage. "Yes," she answers in a clear voice.

The question comes afterward. "Where is Mother?"

"She's fine," Mason says in a hushed tone of voice, raising his hand to lightly brush against his daughter's cheek. "More than can be said for you, I think." The words come not with Mason's gentle — if not doddering — voice, but rather the smooth and deep tones of another individual entirely. There's a crook of his head to the side, and the suit that looked all too lose and flimsy changes, fills out with the girth of a taller, broader, and older man.

Looming down on Catherine, the figure of Arthur Petrelli keeps his palm pressed to her cheek in that split second before excruciating pain comes searching across her skin, a horrible and agonizing sensation of something like hooks and barbs trying to wrench her heart from her chest, a sensation that causes blinding white flashes to blossom in her vision and a throb to echo in the back of her skull. As Arthur's hand moves away from Catherine's face, there is a hiss and snap of light that follows, as he rips forth from her body, a ghostly white silhouette that looks like her own figure, one that soon siphons towards Arthur and sinks into his flesh in the moments before her knees give out and she collapses to the ground.

"Thankfully," Arthur states with a crook of his lips, "you won't have to worry about it." Catherine's mind swims, spins and contorts as years of memories categorized and indexed are robbed from her, information and knowledge stolen as if they were hard copies on paper, leaving only the faint carbon residue behind in the cobwebbed corners of her natural memory. "You won't have to worry about much of anything."

It starts with anger coming to her features as she sees the person before her shift into Arthur. Cat reaches up to grab at the hand on her skin, her goal to wrench it away and push aside, the instinct to run and take cover, she knows what he can do. But it's too late, he already had contact with her and the theft is underway. She screams with the agony of it, her hands desperately trying to pry him away, and her knowledge of Krav Maga coming out along with another instinct. To kick, and attempt dislodging that way, the knee coming up sharply toward his crotch.

But without knowing if the attempt struck home or not, she's been let go of and collapsed onto the floor. The pain lingers in her body, and the confusion is dawning. It takes a few moments before she stirs, slowly, and pushes up to her knees. The eyes are wide when they look at the man standing there, and wider still when she sees the condition of the house. "Who… who are you?" she asks with a trace of fear coming through, and the shock. "What the…? What happened to the house?"

Limbs failed to move, telekinetic restraint keeping Cat's flailing under control. A sharp mind, in the end, did little to protect her from a man ultimately as dangerous as Peter or Sylar. Arthur stares down at Cat, head tilting to the side, as a crooked smile comes over his lips. "I'm just the boogeyman, Catherine." One hand rises slowly, and Arthur's head cants to the side as he raises two fingers towards Cat, breathing in a slow and shuddering breath as a look of something almost feral crosses his eyes, and then very slowly fades as those fingers move away.

Arthur runs a tongue over his lips, looking down at Catherine before that smile fades away entirely. "I'm just putting everything right and tying up all of these loose ends." Two fingers flick in Catherine's direction, and the young woman is sent up off of the floor and across the hall, cartwheeling through the air like a ragdoll before she crashes into one of the tall and narrow windows, splintering wood and shattering glass before she takes the plummet down from the second floor to the ground below.

Glass falls from the frame of the window, landing in clattering pieces, and Arthur turns slowly, giving a shake of his head as his hand motions down towards a wall socket, a flickering spark of light jettisoning from his fingertip before a beam of blue-green laserlight burns into the outlet, causing a shower of sparks and flames that reach up and lap at the walls, beginning to catch the nearby hanging curtains.

Our memories are transient, ephemeral things. They define our past, and shape our present, they remind us of who we were and what we have become.

Arthur strolls down the stairs, his flesh and bones popping and twisting beneath fluidic skin as his body warps and bends into the form of Mason Chesterfield once more, one hand tugging at the loose collar of his suit jacket as he makes his way back out towards the front of the house, as everything that was Catherine Chesterfield goes up in smoke and flames.

Memories are our bond to the life we have lived, the connections we have made, and the people we know and love. If we were to lose them, what then would we become?

The flames rise up to the ceiling, smoke, ashes and cinders drifting out of open windows as Arthur returns to the waiting black sedan parked out front of the estate. He moves to the back door, opening it and standing behind the black metal, looking out as the flames glow bright and orange inside of the house, a proud look of grim certainty on his face. Then, as Arthur ducks down into the vehicle and slams the doors shut, the reflection of the Chesterfield estates catching alight shines in the glass of the car's windshield.

Who would we be?

And everything that was Catherine Chesterfield, goes up in so much smoke and flames.

If not ourselves.

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