That's You


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Scene Title That's You
Synopsis Reunited with the father she never knew, Niki Zimmerman begins to unravel the mystery of her connection to Adam and his goals.
Date November 28, 2019

The security camera shows a teenager carrying a plain white cardboard box in her hands. She stands in the lobby of the Clocktower, the headquarters for the Deveaux Society, and waits patiently for someone to come down to meet her. A bicycle is propped up along the side of the building. Three more identical boxes sit in a container hitched to the back of the bike.

The Clocktower Building

Red Hook, NYC Safe Zone

November 28, 2019


The teenager waits for someone to receive her. “Hello? Delivery for Zimmerman!” She fidgets, seeming uncomfortable to be in so fine a space. Her eyes find the camera — one of them, at least — like she’s used to looking for such things. “I’m just going to leave this on the desk, okay?” She trusts that someone will get the message. “I’ve got three more of these to drop off. Sorry I couldn’t wait around! Happy Thanksgiving!”

She can’t get out of the lobby and back to her bike fast enough.

On the desk, the box marked NIKI Z sits, waiting to be picked up and added to the Thanksgiving spread upstairs. An apple pie. Cooling.

Praxis Ziggurat

Praxia, CA Safe Zone

November 28, 2019


Niki Zimmerman sits at a table, methodically shredding a napkin into small, confetti-like pieces without looking at her handiwork. She’s staring straight ahead, into the distance at nothing, a slice of apple pie sitting in front of her, along with a bottle of hard cider.

She’s had the time to walk around a bit, get some idea of the lay of the land. The Ziggurat is massive. News blurbs didn’t do it justice. Or maybe she just didn’t pay close enough attention at the time. Her first order of business was to secure a change of clothes. It struck her that she didn’t need to default to thick sweaters and flannels. It’s not cold in California the way it is in New York.

A thin red cardigan hangs open over a white tank top. A jean skirt stops at her knees. Casual. Relaxed. Like she’s settling in nicely. Like anything about this is normal.

She starts shredding a second napkin.

Her ears pop. It’s a subtle thing, just a change in air pressure. But she knew Hiro Nakamura when he was alive, had been party to his disappearing acts more than once. When those threads connect, when her heart rises up into the back of her throat at the memory of the last time she saw him alive, it isn’t that young man’s voice she hears out of eyeshot. “Why’re you doing that?”

It’s a young woman.

There’s a girl standing in the room with Niki where there wasn’t one a moment earlier. She’s about how old Niki was when she had Micah — young — but made to look a bit younger with bubblegum pink hair and a heavy wool sweater in horizontal blocks of rainbow striping. The sleeves are too long, coming past her hands, the whole thing’s cut feels like it’s for a taller and broader frame. “Are you Nikolette?” The girl asks, dark brows raised to pink bangs.

Blood runs cold. Bile feels like it burns in the back of her throat. Tears threaten with the pinprick sensations at the corners of her eyes. It’s been a long time since she had a reaction so visceral, so instantly upsetting. It takes longer to settle than she’d like when she hears not the voice of Hiro Nakamura, but that of a young woman.

Niki takes the space of time required to draw in a slow, deep breath before she turns in her seat and studies the pink-haired girl in front of her. “Niki,” she offers. Half greeting and half correction. Nobody’s even called her Nicole in a very long time. “Who’re you?” is posed politely, without accusation. Even if she wasn’t expecting anyone else here to know her.

“Oh, Niki, right. Nikolette got— uh— ” the pink haired young woman creases her brows and rocks back onto her heels. “Sorry, we don’t get a lot of visitors I can meet. Uh,” she says while rolling the wooly fabric of a too-long sleeve between forefinger and thumb, “I’m Valerie.” Then, with a wrinkle of her nose she corrects herself much as Niki had corrected her earlier. “Val.”

Val’s ashy green eyes turn to the door to the room, then back to Niki. “You’re Adam’s other daughter aren’t you?” She says it with the same level of fascination someone might if they were addressing an alien. But Niki can’t help but hang on the word other casually stuffed in there. “Are you here for Gemini too?”

Niki listens patiently to the somewhat rambling introduction. She can imagine how this place could be isolating for someone her age. That's to say nothing of the California Safe Zone itself.

"There are three of us," she confirms quietly, misunderstanding what other actually implies in this case. "It's nice to meet you, Val." Turning in her seat, she gestures to the one next to her. "Would you like to join me?" She might find out more about the Ziggurat, or what's actually going on here.

Flies, honey.

"I'm afraid I don't know much about Gemini." Or anything at all. "Maybe you can tell me a bit about it?"

“Three?” Val questions, slipping past the comment about Gemini to something more personally interesting. “I didn’t know Jac had so many si— ”

The sound of the door swishing open causes Val to stop in mid-sentence and takes a step back from Niki, eyes upturned to the door where Adam Monroe cuts a sleek silhouette in an all black suit with subtle floral patterning. “Val,” he greets the unexpected guest in that clipped, British tone. Val sheepishly smiles and takes a step further back before vanishing in a swirling cloud of rainbow-hued light, like a prism of mist. Adam clicks his tongue and rubs one hand at his brow.

“I hope she wasn’t too much of a bother,” Adam notes with an awkward smile. “Feel up for walk?”

Damn. Just as she thought she might get something of a straight answer from someone. No matter, a connection has been made, and it can be reestablished.

Niki smiles faintly, glancing down to the mess on her table, then back up. "Sure," she answers easily, rising to her feet. Her hands brush over the sides of her skirt, smoothing it down. "She seems nice," she says of Val. No bother at all.

"Lead on."

Stepping out of the room and letting Niki catch up to him, Adam walks with a casual and leisurely pace down the hall. The wall to their right follows the angle of the ziggurat’s outer wall and is a panorama of reinforced glass partially shielded by open shutters of layered steel. The narrow bands of landscape viewed outside are all industrial spaces and an airport.

“I wager you've got a lot of questions,” Adam says with a lopsided smile, “I… I realize how screwed up all of this is. Especially knowing what you know now about me. About— us. I didn't come to you until I had all the answers though, and none of them are good. So… so I don't know what you'll want to talk about. What's a priority for you. But today, right now? It's all about you.” Adam stops halfway down the hall and turns to lean against the metal railing that divides the raised walkway from the angled windows.

“I've nothing to hide from you, Niki.” It seems so hard to reconcile the demeanor Adam has here with the man she remembers from Level 5. “There's no one else on this floor to interrupt us either. So… don't hold back.”

Niki slows to a stop when Adam does, her focus on the landscape beyond the windows at first, then shifting slowly back the way they came, then ahead of them. “Unless Val shows back up?” she quips with a ghost of a smile. She’s not concerned in the least about the young teleporter. Maybe she should be.

As the smile fades, conflict plays out on Niki’s features. She isn’t sure how to react in this moment that’s been given to her. Keep up the mask of indifference? Let some of her frustration and anger vent? In the end, it’s a helpless look she turns to Adam. Honesty.

It’s the same vulnerability she showed to Claudia when they finally met. It served her well then, maybe she can make a repeat performance.

“I don’t know where to start,” she admits in a soft voice. She could ask what’s threatening the world. What has him holed up in the crater of California? “For once, I think I’m going to make myself the priority.” Niki steps forward to rest her hands against the railing, leaning forward a bit as she turns her head to regard the man next to her. “You said you have answers. So… Who am I? Who am I to you?” That feels like the most dangerous question to ask, but it’s also a root. It’s best to start at the beginning.

Adam nods, because of course she'd start out with the hardest questions. Resting his elbows on the railing, Adam slouches and stares out the window. “You're you. Blood doesn't change who you are, it just… changes who’s responsible for you. Which makes me a shitty… father, I suppose.” Blue eyes drift from the window to Niki. “A long time ago, Claudia Zimmerman and I were… close. In love, maybe. It's hard to be sure. But we had three children, you and your sisters.”

Looking back out the window, Adam furrows his brows. “I've had children before, watched them die young. But it was different with you, with the others. I… I wanted to be a father. To settle down. I had the Company, for the first time in forever I had purpose. I was making a positive change in the world and— I know it's hard to believe — but we all were. All of us.”

Adam closes his eyes and shakes his head. “Something happened, changed everything. The Company blamed me for it all. Memories were erased, history was rewritten to hide their sins and… and to protect the world from something so terrible that even the mere knowledge of it was dangerous.” Blinking a look up to Niki, Adam frowns.

“The story about you and your sisters being genetically engineered was a fabrication. An alternative life. You were given to Jonas Zimmerman, he took my place in Claudia’s memories, and the rest of your life… Rene erasing your memories of Jonas, your adoptive parents, Jessica’s death in 87… all real. All after the redaction.” Adam watches Niki’s reaction closely. When he said he'd needed all the information before he came for her, he meant it.

It’s hard to reconcile the notion of The Company being a good thing for the world, but Niki understands how they — the founders — must have had good intentions. Deluded themselves. While he speaks, she follows the broken lines of buildings with her eyes. When he turns his attention to her, she returns the favor, blinking back and giving a small nod of her head to indicate that she’s following along so far. He’s her father. Claudia is her mother. Her sisters are her sisters. For a time, they were all together.

The Company took all that away.

The mention of Jessica is what causes her to turn her face away again. She had held on to some sliver of hope that maybe that too had been a fabrication. That maybe there had been no Jessica and that a little girl hadn’t died. But then what would that mean for her own trauma?

Again, she nods. That was real. All of it. Her eyes close heavily and a tear slides down her cheek, making its way down to her chin, where she finally brushes it away. She isn’t sure if it’s more comforting to think that she came by her fractured personality honestly.

“That’s a lot to unpack,” Niki breathes out, her tongue darting between her lips. “You’re… really my father?” She doesn’t expect an answer. Family is as much about the people you choose as it is about who you’re born to. Right now, Adam only ticks one of those boxes.

“You said I have a target on my back. That’s related to this… thing that it’s too dangerous to know about?” It feels ridiculous to put it that way, but Niki feels at a loss for better words.

“Yes,” is the only answer Adam can give for all of that. He gives her a moment, reaching into his jacket to produce a red and gold paisley handkerchief, offering it out to Niki wordlessly.

“It knows we're related, knows that it would… hurt me if something happened to any of you. So I figured here would be the safest place. This whole building, it's designed to withstand everything that— thing can do. I've spent a long time feeling like a lunatic for refitting this building after it was completed. But designing something to defend against people like us is step one in defending against… it.”

Adam sighs, drumming his fingers on the railing. “I can't get to Barbara without exposing myself. Without drawing attention. And Tracy…” he closes his eyes. “Last I knew she was a prisoner in Fort Irwin before the government flattened it. I lost track of her after that. She might already be dead.”

The square of cloth is taken with a brief nod of gratitude, and used to dab at her face delicately. “I could—” she starts to say, but stops short when her estranged sister is mentioned. Niki’s face falls and guilt twists her stomach. Had Tracy been a victim this whole time and they’d left her in the hands of the enemy out of petty anger?

It’s too late now to wonder such things. Whatever happened, happened.

Niki’s fingers tighten around the handkerchief, holding it in her fist balled up against the railing rather than handing it back just yet. “I can probably reach out to Barbara. She might be willing to do what I ask without explanation.” There’s a moment where she looks almost sheepish. “Might. I did ask her to post my bail and she told me she hadn’t had enough coffee for that. At 6pm.”

Adam makes a noise in the back of his throat. He shakes his head, then scrubs a hand across his mouth. “I don't think there's time, Niki.” When he looks back to her, his blue eyes are haunted in a way that she's never seen before, not in any of the time they shared across from one another in Level 5. “What's going to come is going to come fast, once it figures out even a fraction of what I'm doing.”

Leaning away from the railing, Adam swings his arms at his side and starts to pace. “I just have to hope that with your help, we might be able to actually make a difference. You can emit microwaves, right? Rays of heat?” What happened in Sunspot doesn't appear to have reached Adam’s ears, even if the power swap with Luke Campbell had.

That he doesn't know doesn't come as a shock. Her own mother hadn't heard until it came up over dinner. She hadn't exactly updated her registration. And given what Michael Green had said when he grabbed her from the precinct, it stands to reason.

"I…" Niki shakes her head slowly. The look in his eyes has her rattled. Adam is immortal. The only person equipped to weather and storm. Especially those of his own making, which she suspected was what's brewing here in Praxia. This… suggests otherwise.

"No," she finally says, mouth pressing into a thin line. "Something happened to me at Sunspot." She trusts he understands the significance. "I haven't had access to an ability since then." She's as dismayed as anyone about being left without an offensive power, but she knows that doesn't mean she's without defense.

Adam’s expression sinks, his blue eyes avert to the floor and he scrubs one hand over his mouth slowly. It looks like the news hit him hard, and when he practically exhales “Fuck,” it sounds like he's at his wits end.

“I was going to— I had a plan,” Adam says with a scowl, biting down on his bottom lip. Blue eyes blink up to Niki. “It must have done that to you, scrambled your genetics so— that bitch.” He starts to pace like a caged animal, running his hands through his hair. “I can't even risk running you through the Gemini process now. I had— I was going to— ” Adam curses loudly. “God damnit!” She's never seen him lose his composure like this, not since he was a prisoner.

Pale eyes follow the back and forth movement warily. Anxiety works its way through her muscles, leaving them tightly coiled like springs. His reaction doesn’t bode well for her. Whatever use she was to him is clearly out the window. A glance over her shoulder hopes that she doesn’t wind up out the window too.

“Hey!” Niki steps forward into Adam’s path and puts her hands on his shoulders to stop his pacing, convince him to look at her. “Hey. Slow it down for me. What’s Gemini?” It’s what Val asked her about. It must be important.

It takes a moment for Adam to process what Niki had asked, but when he finally squares a look on her she recognizes the expression on his face. She’s seen it in the mirror, that stressed look of Jessica’s, that frustrated and angry visage. For a moment it’s a harrowing experience. She’d never felt that way with her adoptive parents, never saw herself in them. Claudia, certainly, but this was something astounding. How had she never noticed it before?

“It’s… a medical procedure,” Adam says with a shake of his head, nearly saying it’s nothing but thinking better of it. “It can grant someone abilities, like Arthur Petrelli’s formula. Multiples, sometimes, with the right candidate.” Meaning Niki. “But it’s… complicated.” Adam creases his brows and looks away, over to the windows out to Praxia, then back to his estranged daughter.

“It’s not possible, so we move on.” Adam recites as if it were a mantra. “I need you here, Niki. You’re a valuable, talented person. Ability or no. There’s people here who could benefit from your experience, from your understanding. The girl I’m training, one of our gemini recipients, Jac.” Adam nods, but Niki can see the downward cast to his mouth. “I recall you saying you were good with kids, once.”

“You had a grandson,” is how Niki chooses to confirm that, yes, she was good with kids, once. Her hands fall away from Adam’s shoulders, feeling her guts twist. There’s no denying their resemblance. How didn’t they see it before?

It doesn’t matter.

“You’re talking about Jaclyn Childs.” Niki nods her head slowly, understanding. “I know her. I’ll do what I can with her.” She probably needs stability. This is no place for a kid. That twists things even further. She remembers what happened when she was entrusted with Valerie Ray and Molly Walker.

Her mouth opens and forms soundlessly around the aborted beginnings of words for a moment. “I could try it. The Gemini process.” Someone has to protect that kid. Someone has to keep her from being thrown onto the front lines of a fight she never asked for.

Never again.

“I can do it.”

Adam exhales a sigh through his nose. “I can't risk it. If that thing has made contact with you, it puts you at risk. Jac’s special, different. I'm worried that without what she's been through it could just… take control of you, or Barbara, or…” Adam shakes his head, furrowing his brows and exhaling a sigh again. “You've had nothing but pain in your entire life, Niki. For once, I'd like your contributions to be something that involves nurturing, not…” he looks around for the right word, and settles on, “not death.”

Adam’s eyes are glassy, reddened, and pricked with genuine emotion that no one would ever believe if they were told this story. “I didn't bring you here to be a soldier, I brought you here to protect my family.” But then, perhaps there is some of the old Adam inside. “Because out there is going to become a nightmare.”

Special. Different. Niki squints faintly, unable to discern what could possibly make Jaclyn different from her or her sisters. But she refuses to be slighted by it. This isn’t the time or the place, and she isn’t a child.

“My mother said something like that right before the war broke out,” Niki confides in Adam. “I spent it in a bunker, waiting for news of the outside world…” Which is to say she’s wary of doing the same thing again, regardless of how grateful she is for the fact that she didn’t have to play the role of soldier again.

For a long moment, she just meets his eyes and holds his gaze. Finally, she relents. “What do you need me to do?”

“I’m putting a child in the path of an oncoming train with the hopes that she, above anyone else, will be able to stop it long enough to…” Adam closes his eyes and splays his fingers at his temple. “I’m trying to make sure Jac has the best chance of success.” Lowering his hand, Adam takes a step toward Niki with his brows creased together intently. “You’ve faced down more adversity in your life than you should have, you’ve survived, you’ve persevered. I want you to share some of that… however it is you’ve done it. Help her be a survivor, Niki.”

Adam’s shoulders slack some and the fire that was in his eyes a moment ago fades. “I don’t expect you and I to have a familial relationship,” he suddenly says. “We’re both too old for that now, too much time’s been lost. But that girl,” he waves generally toward the interior of the building, “could still have a life after this with her family. That’s the most I could hope for. To give her the things we never had.”

The more he talks, the less Niki likes what she hears. “The last time I was told we could avert disaster by using children, one was paralyzed and the other was murdered.” And her own son… Her jaw is tight, her throat even more. But she nods her head. He seems aware of what he’s asking of her. Of Jaclyn. This isn’t some idealist’s plan to save the world. This is pragmatism. A survivor’s strategy.

“I’ll do whatever it takes to keep her safe,” Niki vows. “And if you change your mind about giving the whole… Gemini thing a whirl,” she waves her hand vaguely through the air between them, “I’m prepared to take that on too.”

That hand comes up to scratch at the underside of her jaw. A thought occurs to her and she lets out a huff of laughter. “You know, Val said something to me when we met just then. She asked if I was Nikoletta. What was that about?”

Adam’s expression is hard to read, just those pale blue eyes and a set jaw. He regards Niki with a furrow of his brows and then a gradual release of tension as he presses a hand to his forehead, then lets it fall away. Soon the stern look is replaced by something more bittersweet, something gentler, something simpler.

“That’s you,” Adam says plainly, swallowing down a lump in his throat.

“That’s what we named you.”

Sometimes simple hurts.

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