Making Your Own Future


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Scene Title Making Your Own Future
Synopsis The river of time has inertia, and Robyn Quinn is caught in the undertow.
Date March 8, 2019

A child of five years sits at a coffee table, soft carpeting beneath him, crayon in hand.

The yellow construction paper the boy works on is soft to the touch and the green crayon he uses pops out against the yellow with each full-fisted stroke.

“No, I told you I’m on a fixed income.”

Within earshot of the coffee table, the boy’s mother paces with a cordless house phone cradled between shoulder and chin. She has a phone bill in her hand, face twisted into a frustrated snarl. “Look, our stove is electric. We can’t even make dinner until the power is turned back on. I told you, we’re on a fixed income.

The name on the electricity bill identifies it as belonging to Jane Porter of Costa Verde, California. It’s a lie, though.

“No, I’m— I don’t have $150.” She says with a sharpness to her tone. “If I did I wouldn’t have made the payment arrangement with you people last month!” The sound of a knock at the door causes her to pause, a flash of fear across her face. “I have to call you back,” she says quickly, hanging up on the, while they’re in mid-sentence. She sets the phone down, creeping over to the door. It’s only when she sees the tall man on the other side through one of the nearby windows that she relaxes.

But at the coffee table, the young boy continues to draw, unaware of the personal drama playing out around him. His mother opens the door, and a tall man in horn-rimmed glasses stands on the other side, smiling fondly. “Jane,” he says with a smile, “can I come in?” She smiles, faintly, and looks beyond him to the street, then steps aside to allow him in.

Noah Bennet offers Janice Parkman a subtle nod as he walks past her, spotting the boy at the table. He walks into the room and the boy looks up with a fond, unknowing smile. Noah looks down to the child’s drawings, picking one up and looking it over, then turns to regard Janice over his shoulder.

“Mind if I take this one?” Noah asks carefully. “His father might like it.”

Three Weeks Later

“That's the deal, right?” Noah explains. “I turn you on to the dangerous refugees, and you let me help the harmless ones.” A complicit deal, with the devil, a devil who has been aware of the Ferrymen’s operations for — potentially — years now.

“Doesn't hurt that we're both harboring children of interest,” Matt offers, looking at Noah as if uncertain of how he’ll react. The other DHS agents step out of the room. “Of course, mine isn't the President's daughter…” Matt adds with a testing tone.

“She's getting married.” Bennet says.

“Mazel-Tov. I guess,” Matt mutters, looking aside. His mind swims, he looks momentarily delirious and uneasy. Brows furrow, and as he looks back to Bennet there’s a breath of a question, again, testing. “Have you, uh…” he lowers his voice a little, “…you heard anything from Janice?”

Bennet moves to the table, picks up a piece of paper from under a stack, and returns it to Parkman. A drawing, a child’s drawing, shows a crayon illustration of a happy family. Matt Jr is written on the bottom corner. Parkman takes it and smiles in disbelief. Not that his son has drawn him a picture, but because it feels so real.

“You ever wish you did something different?” Parkman asks, his voice noticeably louder now. “Wish you took a different path?” He looks up to Bennet.

“Every day,” Noah enunciates firmly. “You did right by her, Matt.” He adds, referring to Janice. “You did right by him,” for his son.

Seven Years Later

218 41st St #304

Bay Ridge, NYC Safe Zone

March 8th


The drive from Floyd-Bennett Airport was a long one. Friday evening traffic at the height of incoming flights, people getting off of work. It’s one of the few times that the Safe Zone actually has bumper-to-bumper traffic like in the old days.

Coming into her apartment after such a long drive, Robyn Quinn doesn’t feel the usual sense of relief on getting home that she normally does. All of the lights are off, and the early evening sun is hidden behind dark clouds, making the diffuse gray light that spills in through partly-blinded windows all the dimmer. But it isn’t the weather that’s changed things for Robyn.

“This building’s weird…”

It’s her new ward.

Matthew Parkman Jr. lived most of his life as Matthew Porter, unaware of his true parentage. By the time the war came and the Institute came for him, Matthew was still a child. Behind the brick walls of Sunstone Manor he grew up as a ward of scientists and researchers, but one who was gradually revealed the truth of his family heritage, of his father, of his the world his father tried to protect him from. Janice was Matthew’s tether to stability, to hope, to something real.

…and he watched her die.

It's been a quiet last several minutes. In truth, it feels like much longer. Then again, it always does when one's coming to terms with the choices they've made. Matthew's statement is met with a similar silence, as she ruminates over a response. But in truth, it's the last thing on Robyn's mind at the moment.

She stares up at the building that she's still in the process of moving into, and time seems to stop in that moment. That moment of doubt, probably the first of many,where she wonders what in the world she was thinking. When this matter had first come up, she had jumped at it without a second thought. She wasn't even sure why, she had acted before she realised what she was doing.

Maybe it was a mixture of a long buried desire and the thoughtless impulses that had made up her life the last several months. Maybe it was the fact that, for years, she had been told she was fantastic at this, with living examples of her supposed skillfulness around her. Maybe she was just tired of being alone and didn't want to admit it. Maybe it was one of the voices of another her she still hears whispering into her ear like a shade on a cold winter's eve.

Maybe it was all of that and more. Maybe it was nothing.

"Of course they are," she offers as her mouth moves before her thoughts, and the moment starts back up again. There's a strangely self confident smirk on her face; she's not sure where it comes from because she certainly doesn't feel it. "They're survivors in this town. Survivors are always a little weird. That's what makes us great."


Matthew fixes a crooked look on Robyn, eyes narrowed and brows all scrunched up. It’s funny, at this age he reminds Robyn of Lance when the Gerken boy was younger. Matthew, flicking a look back around the apartment, rolls his eyes and readjusts his backpack on his shoulder, containing the clothes he’d been purchased while in SESA custody and some basic toiletries he assumes he’s stolen from their housing.

“Whatever…” Matthew mumbles, slouching his way across the floor with the scuffing of white sneakers that look all-too-much like the kind a prisoner would wear on visitation day: no laces, plain, cheap. “You shouldn’t have done this,” is Matthew’s frustrated response to his new surroundings. “You’re gonna’ get pissed— like everyone else. And I’m gonna wind up in a cell again. I’m gonna’ wind up in a cell and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.”

Robyn had been warned of this. But she’d also been told he wasn’t talking much, and this might be the most Matthew has said in days to anyone. The death of his mother is still fresh, his time with the Institute is still fresh, the way he’s been treated for as long as he can remember is still fresh.

That sudden, smug self confidence slips away just as quickly as it came, though Robyn tries her best not to let it show. "The building is weird," she decides to opt for the actual explanation, "because before the war it was a music recording studio. One I used to go to myself before I had friends in high places." And now she owns it, the premises vacated but largely undamaged after 2012.

She knows she should respond to Matthew's continued doubts, but with how poorly she manages her own self doubt, she suddenly feels terribly unqualified for this. What if he's right? What if this was a bad idea? Should she have talked to Adel and Jolene before this, gotten some insight on-


Letting out a small sigh, she lets a smile form on her lips as she moves forward to unlock the door to the building's living space. "I'm sure I am," she notes with a chuckle, undoing the latch before moving the key to the regular lock. "But I doubt it will be at you. I don't doubt you've heard that before, Matthew, but…"

Pushing open the door, she looks back at him. "I think we have a lot more in common than you might think." Maybe not as much as Robyn would like, but hopefully just enough that they can build a trust between each other.

The way Matthew looks back at Robyn is nearly proof positive of that assertion. The first look he gives her in a hopeful one, brows raised and features soft with the vulnerability of a child. But the moment he realizes the expression he’s making, his brows drop and his lips curve into a frown and he raises his defenses again.

Oh yeah?” Matthew says with a hint of challenge in his voice, a hint of sarcastic mocking. “You spend a lot of time in a little cell, with doctors poking at you?” He asks, assuming full well the answer. But he isn’t curious about the answer, Robyn knows this tactic.

She’s used it before. On her mother.

That almost gives Robyn a moment of pause, but she masks it with a chuckle as she slips into the room. Given the building's strange construction - comparatively - they find themselves in an open reception area. Technically a remnant of the Studio's original design and purpose, it would certainly be serving that purpose again in due time.

For now, she makes her way across the empty room, pulling open a door that leads to a staircase. "No," she finally offers in response, in an honest tone. She realises he doesn't care, but that doesn't stop her. "I haven't, and while many people I considered friends were… those aren't my experiences."

Which is ironic considering what she does think of as her experiences these days.

She motions up the stairs with a smile, pausing for a moment to produce a small ring of three keyes. "This won't always be the main entrance, but you'll always be free to use it." She offers the key ring to Matthew, before attempting to usher him along.

As she starts up the stairs after him, she thinks. "I do think," she says after a moment, "if you'll permit me to say so, that our last several years have some… common beats between them." Her eyes slide to him. "But I'll leave that for you to decide. I can tell you anything you want, but it won't matter unless you want to hear it."

A small shrug follows. "And ultimately? It don't matter how similar we are. It doesn't change the fact that I am going to do my best to do right by you, Matthew. Even if you do think you'll just piss me off." She gives a wry smile at that, hoping to strike at least some sort of chord. She knows what she sounds like right now. It'll be time before he trusts her, and she doesn't sound like an after school special.

Or a crazy person.

Charging up the stairs, keys jingling in his hands, Matthew only stops when he realizes he's supposed to still be mad, or frustrated, or whatever confusing emotion he was experiencing earlier. Consistently, he leans over the railing and looks down at Robyn with furrowed brows. “Whatever…” he says before disappearing back over the railing, showing himself into the room beyond.

The ascent gives Robyn time to think about all of this. How raising an eleven year old seems like a death sentence for the dusty, cobweb-covered vestiges of her personal life. Perhaps that's not as much of a loss as she'd imagined. But making sure her own self-destructive beats, of which she now wonders how many Matthew does share, are under control could prove even more onerous.

Coming to the top of the stairs, Robyn can almost see her mother standing there, arms crossed and weight set on one foot. She can almost hear the tone she's take. She can almost feel the warmth of that frustration. Frustration rooted in nothing but love.

“Uh,” Matthew is standing in the middle of the entryway just through the door, and when he looks up to Robyn it's clear that something is amiss. There's concern in Matthew’s eyes. “You— didn't tell me you lived here with someone else.”

Robyn doesn't. That assertion causes her pulse to spike. But Matthew looks over to an empty space by one of the walls. “Is that your grandfather or something?”

There's no one there.

The smile brought to her face by that wistful remembrance falls immediately, nostalgic thoughts of how proud her mother might be of her swept aide as her gaze snaps to where Matthew had been looking. A mixture of training and paranoia means no comment, no attempt to make this seem like anything less than something being terribly wrong is offered.

Her hand slips into her purse, ready to retrieve her gun when she registers that there's no one there. She stares for a moment longer, not realising that she's holding her breath until her lungs start to burn a little.

With a cough, she shakes her head. "I don't," she states in a definitive tone. She lingers there for a moment. She would need to call this in, just as a precautionary measure if nothing else. "Might be an Expressive who didn't get the memo that this isn't squatter's rights anymore. Might be a trick of the light. That's what I do, you know." Did, it feels like. The days of being a photokinetic as she understood it seems long ago at this point.

She focuses, looks around the room for anything that stands out. It's too easy to for things to blend together when you see everything in the same shades of gray, but now more than ever she needs to work on her focus.

It brings the eternal goal of getting her eyes fixed back to the forefront of her mind for just a moment. She should start looking into an MRI again.

"We'll take a look around. I have to give you some sort of boring tour anyway, don't I? Isn't that one of the rules?" A joke, in hopes of diffusing the tension in her shoulders. A laugh, fake as any other one she's given.

Somewhere in the back of her mind,an curse rings out in a voice that's hers, but at the same time not. A feeling of anger, and yet of amusement. Not her feeling on the matter, but maybe an imprint of a feeling left somewhere in her. Robyn furrows her brow, closes her eye. When it opens again, she wears a more predatory smile.

"I'm sure it's nothing."

Robyn’s words do little to reassure Matthew, who seems even more spooked when the old man he'd thought he'd seen wasn't there anymore when he looked back. Sucking in a shallow breath, the boy slips close to Robyn’s side and follows her in. This isn't the room-by-room tour she'd been hoping to give, but it does start to clue her in on who the boy she's keeping care of is.

As they move from room to room, lights come on as they go. A lamp by the door, overhead lights in the kitchen, and so on. But Robyn isn't turning them on, she doesn't need them to see. But neither is Matthew physically activating the lights. They just— are. The switches don't even flip. The lights just go from off to on without any other intervention. Just like the electricity at Sunstone. She'd been warned his ability had untested boundaries and that this — of all things — was the most benign possible manifestation.

“I swear I saw him,” Matthew says by the time they've completed the circuit and found no signs of forced entry or habitation. No ghosts of Christmas past or present come to whisk them away. “I'm not crazy,” he says too defensively to have never been called that before in his life. Heartbreakingly, the look in Matthew’s eyes practically demands reassurance. It isn't a rhetorical sentiment, he's worried she'll genuinely think he's unwell.

The flickering on and off of the lights is rather unsettling at first - she's grown used to not needing light, so having it suddenly flick on is a bit jarring. Every time it happens, her gaze jumps to the lights as soon as she notices it, before focusing on the room around her as they continue their tour.

It's with cautious but continuous forward movement that she shows him the living spaces living room, kitchen and dining room, the two bathrooms (one full, one half), her study, and their bedrooms. There was more floor space and rooms available, but purposes for them hadn't been planned yet - though she tells him of her intention to turn one into a sort of den, a place to watch movies and listen to music.

The living spaces above the studio space are decorated similarly to her office - old era design, lots of brass and turn of the century style decoration paired with a few oil lamps to save on electricity. A bag of sconces to place in the walls sits next to her couch, each waiting to be mounted.

But the tour comes to a halt as they step back into the living room. She looks down at Matthew, a hint of sadness on her face. Gingerly, as if to test a boundary, Robyn places a hand on his shoulder. "Of course you aren't." She had meant for it to be a firm assertion; instead she's surprised with how… motherly the tone is.

Considering conversations she's had with Adel and Jolene, though, maybe it shouldn't catch her quite so off guard. "I believe you," she adds; she earnestly does as well. Though her deeper thoughts on the matter are kept to herself, she certainly does believe him. Looking towards the couch, she nudges him in that direction before heading there herself.

"I mean it when I say I want to do right by you, Matthew. I will never think such awful things, I promise."

And now she can't take it back.

There’s still a wall around Matthew’s emotions, high and crenelated like a Spanish castle’s. He regards Robyn through the ragged fringe of his bangs, arms wrapped around himself. He isn’t sure what he saw when he first came into the apartment, and at this point he isn’t sure he saw anything at all. Instead of dwelling on it, and especially so since Robyn seems calm, Matthew hangs his head and scuffs one foot on the floor.

“So… where— Where do I sleep? Where’re you gonna keep my things?” Matthew’s question is framed in such a way that Robyn is reminded that he grew up in captivity. He was raised in a laboratory after roughly the age of four. He doesn’t have a concept of something as personal as a room, nor does he have the notion that where he sleeps and where his things are kept can be the same location. Instead, he sees his life with Robyn as another holding cell, another day room to spend his time in between tests.

It breaks her heart that she’d forgotten she had all over again.

There's a light chuckle from Robyn as she moves across the room towards the couch, mostly because she feels like there has to be to counter the ambient mood in the room. She doesn't yet sit though, instead turning to look at Matthew with her hands on her hips. "Well, I imagine you can sleep wherever you want," she offers with a sort of faux enthusiasm, trying to life the mood up with the tone of her response, before looking to one of the adjoining doors at the far end of the room. "But your room is the last one of the tour."

Pivoting on her heel, she turns and starts towards it. "Your own room," she adds, in a quieter voice. "For you to do with as you please, decorate how you'd like, or fill with what you want." A small shrug follows. "I'm not a picky person. My only request is that you keep things clean."

Yet another difference in the Robyn that is, and the Quinn that was.

Motioning to the door, she lets him do the honors. On the other side is a room with it's own Twin bed, a chest of drawers, a mirror, and a small closet. Unlike the rest of the house, it is sparsely decorated. "Your room," she repeats, emphasising it carefully. "Though I do hope you're up to spending some time out here or in the office with me eventually."

Matthew doesn't move past her into the room. He lingers behind Robyn and out of her direct line of sight. He's silent, too, and for a while in that silence she imagines the faces he must be making at her back.

But, then he starts to cry.

When Robyn turns around there is no angry young man standing there. But rather a young boy with a bright red face, puffy eyes, and tears wetting his cheeks. His hands are covering his face as best as he can, sleeves up over his palms, sobbing. Part of it is because he's reminded of all the things he never had, of a mother who was afraid of him and tried to change him to be something he wasn't. But part of it is also that now, only after losing the one person he's ever loved, someone who in her own way loved him more than the world, is he getting the childhood he had always been denied.

So he stands there, too embarrassed to say anything, but too overwhelmed to stop, crying like the child he truly is.

Robyn stops in place. This is something she absolutely she should have been prepared for, and yet here she is as he cries, unsure of what she should do. She freezes for what feels like a few several solid minutes, her mind racing.

She doesn't have experience with kids. None of her own. Only stories and memories of another life. And yet, in that moment, one of those memories - a dream, to her - bubbles up to her of a young girl who had lost her family just as Matthew had, if under much different circumstances.

So, she does what felt right then, and feels right now. She leans down at wraps Matthew in a hug. She isn't his mother, but she isn't seeking to replace replace Janice Parkman.

She just wants to help a child feel better.

Matthew clings to Robyn, all pretenses of ire and fitful stubbornness gone. He presses his face against her shoulder, sobs loudly and curls his fingers into the fabric of her sleeves. She may not be able to make him feel better, not yet, likely not for a while. But what Robyn has, what her memories of a future that would never be have taught her.

Is that sometimes, making your own future is hard.

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