The Unlucky


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Scene Title The Unlucky
Synopsis .076 looks like such a small number. With the help of Jennifer Chesterfield, Gillian finds out important things about her past, and possibly future.
Date September 17, 2009

Orchid Lounge

The Orchid Lounge, owned by the mother of Senator Nathan Petrelli, is an Asian-inspired martini bar lit by candlelight and the soft glow of wall sconces spaced evenly throughout the room. Although there aren't any employees at the door to check for identification, it's unusual to find anyone in the college-aged crowd at the Lounge, which caters to young professionals with plenty of extra money to burn. During the day, the plush burgundy drapes affixed to the windows are used to filter out the sounds of traffic and at night are drawn back to allow passersby a glimpse inside.

Seating is simple: clusters of rectangular tables fashioned from white marble, each with two leather benches parallel to the longest sides. Silk pillows in varying shades of red, brown, yellow and orange lend a splash of colour to the Lounge, vivid against the pale walls and black-painted cement floor. On one wall is a giant mirror with an intricately carved frame that reflects almost everything in the room and makes the space appear twice as large as it really is. Clearly, the proprietor of this establishment wanted to get her money's worth - real estate in this part of town isn't cheap!

«If you're viewing this message…»

The voice comes crackling over the small television, a staticy and distorted image accompanied by the pop and hiss of an old VHS casette tape. In the otherwise lightless room, the glow of the television screen flickers and sputters almost like candlelight of the digital age.

«…then I am dead. But even in my death, there is still work to be done. Now, Stephanie, that work passes on to you.»

Standing at the back of the room, arms folded by the door, Jennifer Chesterfield watches the television over the shoulder of a young woman seated in a chair in front of the screen. Her arms fold across her chest, reflection of the man on the television screen glowing on the smooth lenses of her glasses.

«Your mother and father were involved with dangerous work for the Company, work that now has been ended permanently. But the results of decades of study are not without fault. You're running on borrowed time, Stephanie.»

The figure on the screen is dressed in a hospital gown, his hair matted down to his head, dark circles around blue eyes and sunken cheeks. He looks older than he is, more tired, more worn down by the passage of time. But the voice and face is one from Gillian's past, and ultimately her future as well, it's a voice of someone — much like Kazimir — who refuses to stay dead.

«The Formula has a .076 chance of genetic destabilization in the form you were injected with as a child. Infintessimal odds to create a problem, but you're not a very lucky person.»

Stepping forward with a click-clack of her heels, Jennifer rests her hand down on Gillian's shoulder and squeezes gently, her brows furrowing and head dipping down in a silent expression of unfortunate grief. When her head tilts back up, her eyes focus on the man in the video.

«If my estimates are correct, your ability will begin to become unstable by the beginning of October, failing you intermittantly. By the end of the month, the degenerative genetic defect that the Formula has been working into you will continue to run its course… You won't live to see November.»

Tightness in the corners of Jennifer Chesterfield's mouth drawns her expression into a frown, fingers curling into Gillian's shoulder tighter, and as she looks over to the young woman seated in the chair, there's a weak sigh that slips out of her, and her head dips down in shame.

«Knowing this, I have a task for you…»

One Hour Earlier

The sound of tinkling glass and the soft melodies of piano keys make an unintentional symphony within the walls of the Orchid Lounge. With the sun just now dipped past the horizon and the blue shades of evening consuming New York City's upper east side, a meeting long waited for comes to pass. Seated by one of the windows, a glass of red wine in one hand and a blackberry in the other, Jennifer Chesterfield could pass for any other business-class socialite in the lounge.

But her eyes are focused not on stock notes or office emails, but rather voting polls for the New York City mayoral candidacy. It's no small surprise that one of two women running for the most powerful seat of authority in the city has the booth she's seated at flanked by a pair of security guards.

Spotting dark hair pass by the window, Jenn's eyes flick up, following the motion of her expected guest with a smile. The blackberry is tucked away, head tilting to the side, and she turns to look up at her bodyguards. "Jeremy, Caleb…" she nods towards the front doors of the lounge, "could one of you go retrieve my guest, and give us some space?" The two bodyguards nod, one moving away from the booth and the other headed towards the front door of the lounge to wait for the mayoral candidate's guest; Gillian Childs.

There could easily be a couple Gillian Childs in the city. But hopefully only one is walking up to a building. Dark dress hugs the wrong areas in the wrong ways. Too tight around the hips and bosum, too loose around the legs. It's either badly fitted, or borrowed. From the fact it seems fashionable and tailored, borrowed is the most likely. Only the shoes seem to be her own, black heels that give her an extra couple of inches to her height.

Dark hair is pulled back into combs, masking the fact she's not dyed her hair recently. The roots have grown out so far that the darker ends blend in with the combs. The make up is light, rather than heavy, but heavy enough to cover up the pale-ness that had set in in the last few weeks.

She's also recently lost weight, which help her fit into the skinnier woman's dress better. The movement isn't natural, she looks around nervously as she holds a handbag close. Nothing to really protect her besides the weight of it, which isn't nearly enough. Hopefully she can stomp a foot or two…

This is the nice part of town. She's meeting the Mayor to be (according to Cat) and what's the worst that could happen?

Once at the front, she clears her throat, "Um, I'm… meeting with Jennifer Chesterfield? I'm— uh— a friend of her daughter's?" This would not be her crowd. She bites back the curses that want to come out.

"This way," comes the hushed response from one of Jennifer's bodyguards, nodding his head towards the windows as he leads Gillian across the crowded dining floor and towards the window-side booth seats. There's no further introductions or explanations given as he brings her to the table, motioning to the bench seat across from where Jennifer sits, but the older woman simply rises up out of her seat and takes a few steps towards Gillian, opening up her arms and stepping forward to wrap them around the taller and younger of the pair in an embrace.

"It's good to see you again, Gillian." Jenn's voice has a relieved edge to it as she eases back from the hug, hands resting on Gillian's shoulders as she looks her up and down. "I was excited when Catherine said you wanted to talk to me. She… gave me a bit of an insight into what you wanted to discuss," there's a tilt of her head towards the table, then a look afforded to her bodyguard as she moves to sit back down where she was, gesturing for Gillian to take the seat opposite of her.

"You wanted to discuss your parents?" It's an honest enough question, but the way Jennifer asks it seems like it has two meanings, as if she's asking Gillian if she's sure she wants to talk about that, like there's some sort've underlying meaning that isn't as obvious.

Luckily, the last few months of being around her twin has helped her settle into hugs. Even with strangers that she doesn't really know. The knot in her head is an always present sensation, and doesn't try to unravel even with proximity, but she settles into her chair without another word right away, touching at the combs in her hair selfconsciously. Her hands are shaking. It could easily be nerves. Putting her hands down on the table between them, she nods.

"I— f— yeah, I want to know about my parents. Or I guess I really want to know about me, but since I don't know anything about my real parents and they might… be important to me, I thought that…" She trails off, looking down at her hands. Her fingers twine together for a moment, seperate, go back.

The black heeled shoes swing back and forth under the table, just avoiding kicking the mayorial candidate. "You're really the only person I know of who I can actually ask, I don't even know my real name, or my birthday or— any of that really. Or their names, or if I have my dad's hair or my mom's eyes, or— you know, the stuff that only matters when you don't know it."

There's a bit of a fond smile from Jennifer as she reaches out for her wine glass, then hesitates and motions with her eyes over to an empty one near the ice bucket the bottle is sitting in, a quiet invitation for Gillian to join her; alcohol makes every difficult conversation easier. "You have your mother's attitude," she says with distantly focused eyes, bringing the glass up to her lips, but not yet drinking from it.

"Your father, he was difficult to be around at times. Some days he'd be sweet and considerate, others he had this edge about him, but— all that really changed when you were born." Fiddling with the stem of her glass, Jennifer's eyes focus on her muted reflection in the red liquid inside. "Both of your parents, they… they were so happy when you and Brian were born."

Looking up to Gillian, there's a faint look of worry in Jenn's eyes. "Your mother's name was Alison, and… you really remind me of her. She and your father, Jeffrey, were both Company agents and researchers, partners long before they were married. Your mother, she was the one with the ability…" there's a faint quirk of her lips, "she was an illusionist, made the most beautiful things imaginable— had this strong affection towards faeries. She'd buy these art books with pictures of them in it, always would play with images of them in the air. I remember… the day you and Brian were born, she used to sit by your cribs and make illusory mobiles of them, flying in circles for you both."

"Faeries," Gillian whispers in repeat as she leans forward on the table, putting her elbows down as she shifts in her seat as if to get in even closer. The dress does not make this comfortable, but it sticks her toes into the floor so her legs don't swing. Alison and Jeffrey. There's a big temptation to write everything down, but she avoids reaching for the bag sitting on her lap. What she wouldn't give to have Cat's memory again, sometimes. If she just repeats it and treats it like a book she needs to put away, it shouldn't be too hard to remember.

They are important facts.

"I didn't— think one of them would have an ability. But that one… Faeries. That's kind of— I was planning to get a tattoo of kind of a… dark Tinkerbell sometime soon, cause of a… a dream I had." And wrote down, while she could still remember stuff. "It's probably silly to think that influenced it. I was just a baby when that happened…"

She trails off, obviously the one who finds it silly, even if she vaguely longs for it. Like she longs for many things. This kind of longing she can satisfy, at least a little. "So they… they loved us?"

Jennifer tries to remain impassive, but reminiscing about those days, on top of Gillian's latter question brings an awkwardly emotional smile to her face. Her head nods, a lock of coppery-brown hair spilling out from behind one ear to brush at her cheek. Eyes close behind the lenses of her glasses, and Jennifer's voice sounds smaller than it normally is. "Yes. Yes, they did. So very much." A tight swallow comes, and as she looks up there's a troubled expression on her face. "If it weren't for the decision Arthur made, to try and— " she doesn't continue her justifications, "they still love you, I— I don't doubt that."

Swallowing tightly, Jennifer clears her throat and finally takes a prolonged sip of the wine, letting her collect her thoughts as she drinks. When the glass comes down, her eyes lid partly and she asks an indirect question of GIllian. "What— What else did you want to know about them?"

"They still love me even though they're dead? I don't know. I never really believed in ghosts or life after death, so…" Gillian shrugs her shoulders, even though her eyes and mind seem to be wandering. Her fingers thread together again, curling against her skin. She's made no move to drink or even reach for anything. "I just want to know… everything, really. Anything at all you can tell me. Anything that… fuck." As soon as she says that curse word, her jaw tightens. Even hanging out with children hasn't controlled her tongue as much as Brian might wish.


Cursing in front of a very rich woman and incoming political figure. One would think meeting two Presidents (one elect, one from the future) would make this easier. It's not.

"Anything that you know, really. About me or them. I know it won't all be good. It won't all be faeries…"

"Is it that hard to believe, in something like God, something like heaven?" Jennifer asks the question with the glass of wine hiding her mouth, a curious cast to her expression. "We know people who can travel back and forward in time, bend the laws of physics over their knee, see the future… Is it so hard to imagine that maybe, just maybe we have souls? That maybe when all this is done, there is somewhere we go? That this isn't the beginning and the end, it's just a stop on the way?"

Looking away from Gillian, it's obvious to Jennifer that her own personal issues were coloring her words. Easier to think a dead husband is still watching over her, than having lost him forever. "Your father liked to play chess, your mother loved folk music. They were both close friends with the Petrellis, it's how they became indoctrinated into the Company. Your father, he was a brilliant man…" furrowing her brows, Jennifer looks over to her purse on the bench seat beside her, anxiously, then back to Gillian.

"I'm not sure where your parents went to college, but they told me it's where they met. They weren't close, back then, your mother always used to joke around about how she thought your father was an arrogant bastard when he was younger. Fate… fate brought them back together with the Company, though. Thanks to Angela— Peter's mother."

There's a faint shrug of her shoulders. Gillian might want to believe it, somewhere deep down, but it's difficult to really want to believe in it. Fate, sure, she's seen a lot of evidence for that, but the only evidence she's seen for a soul possibly carrying on is not the nicest evidence at all. Eyes stay where they are on the table, until the suddenly jerk up at a certain word. Chess. Not only do her eyes raise, but she actually sits up. Chess. Faeries. Two things that came into her dreams in recent months, independantly, but important in their own way. Maybe…

"They were friends with Peter's mom," she finally says quietly, seeming to find that topic… funny. If the scoffing inhale is any indication, at least. Her hands slide off the table and into her lap, eyes stay up looking across at the older woman.

"I don't think either of us got brillance, but— I dreamed about chess too. When I'd never even tried to play much. I've been dabbling ever sense, playing in the park, playing myself, playing kids… I mean I'm not good at it, but…" Now the eyes lower, her shoulders raise into a shrug. "Okay, maybe I can believe in souls as well as fate. Maybe they're still… somewhere. Or maybe I just have a residual memory from my infancy of chess and faeries."

"Your…" Jennifer hesitates as she looks to her purse again, then back to Gillian, "your birth name was Stephanie Winters. Brian was— and I assume still is Brian. Stephanie was your mothers middle name, and I think it was her mother's name." A faint smile crosses Jennifer's lips, eyes focused down on the purse at her side again as she asks. "Gillian… if you had bad news, something you knew someone couldn't avoid or prevent but something you knew would be important to them to be aware of… would you tell them?"

Jennifer's eyes drift up to Gillian, swallowing tightly as she shifts in her seat. "Would you tell them, even if you knew it would do nothing but hurt them? Or would you hide it, and worry that by keeping the truth from them, you might be denying that person the off chance that the bad news could be changed?"

Stephanie. Gillian nods slowly, though now she has new questions, like where the name she currently has came from. Probably a question for the Childs family instead, but it makes her wonder why they bothered to change it. Distancing her from what childhood she'd had with her real parents. Not that the past didn't come back to haunt. Or perhaps, even for someone like her, the past is a prologue.

The question makes her eyes slide up again, eyebrows lowering in confusion, eyes narrowing. If anything she suddenly looks suspicious. "You don't happen to know someone who travels through time too, do you? I've heard a lot of prophecies— seen paintings and crazy talk. Fuck, I even saw my future more times than I can even remember…" And considering the theme of her rush of futures had been her death, she's glad she can't remember them well.

"I'd tell them. I mean that fate and future stuff— it can change. A lot more than most people seem to accept." It's a serious question, and a serious answer, but a moment later she adds on, "Do you know when my birthday is? Brian's is different than mine, so I don't know which one is right. Or which one of us is older."

Biting down on her lower lip, Jennifer nods her head and forces something of a disingenous smile. "I… I know you were both born on October 29th, 1986. I remember how happy your parents were, in fact," Jennifer smiles faintly, "you were born in the Company's Primatech facility in the Bronx. There was a lot of work going on here in New York back then, more so than I think there is today…" Her head tilts to the side, one hand brushing the side of her cheek, the other cradling that half-finished glass of wine, eyes distant.

"The only person I know who can travel time, is Hiro Nakamura, Kaito's son." There's a hesitant smile offered to Kaito's memory. "But I haven't seen him since he was just a little boy. I… I don't know where he is these days, what he's up to… or if he even knows what happened to his father."

For the first time since she sat down, Gillian really and truly smiles. The kind that crinkles the skin around the eyes, makes dimples appear. "Well at least there's one thing that's still mine. I was hoping I didn't hit 23 without even being able to celebrate it. I missed my last birthday cause of things, I was really wanting to actually— you know. Cake. Presants. All that shit. Cause if Brian's was the right one I missed that too, cause it was in March or something."

There's that cursing again, but this time she's smiling, even laughing a little.

It doesn't last too long, because it settles down after she's finished with her little internal victory dance. One thing that's her own. Her birthday. Her age. Name, parents, siblings… all of that may have changed.

"I was born in the place that just got turned into a parking lot, too— that's so weird. That's where your daughter and I met up to talk…"

Jennifer offers a faint smile to that, nodding her head slowly. Her considerations of Cat come without words, just memories that cling to the fore of her mind unwantedly, painful memories of a life she's sprinting away from, trying to put marvelous amounts of distance from. Swallowing awkwardly, Jennifer puts down her glass and reaches out towards her purse, unzipping it but then hesitating. "Several months ago…" her voice is harsh, a rough whisper, "a man asked me to give this to you, when you come to me asking about your parents. He told me never to show it to you until then…"

A black case is taken out of her purse, an old and boxy VHS case with a white label on the front that reads Message In A Bottle. Jennifer's brows furrow, and she lays the tape down on the table, and slides it across to Gillian with a look of tension at the corners of her eyes. "There's a television in the VIP lounge… privacy…" her eyes downcast to the table, voice small. "You should watch it."

"Several months seems to be such a long time ago these days," Gillian comments as she reaches across for the case, boxy as it is. "Damn, talk about ancient. I haven't even seen a VCR in… I dunno. DVD seems to have taken over everything." In a way it's symbolic of the evolution of anything. Once VHS was the end all of everything. Buying blank tapes was easy. Now everything's converted to digital formats. And what hasn't seems to be considered odd.

She's starting to wonder if a day could go by without hearing someone around her's an evolved. Herself included— whether she'd been meant to be or not.

"Whoever called this a message in a bottle was being a little glib, though. It looks like a VHS case to me." Even with the comment, she starts to move to stand up, holding the case right over her small handbag, which functions as a purse. "I assume you got access to the VIP area? I mean you are going to be Mayor, according to Cat." The uncomfortable moment may have been noticed, but she's going to bring up the woman's daughter anyway. Just who she is. "Lead the way."

Tensing up slightly, Jennifer nods her head and rises up to her feet, picking up her purse as she odes. The moment she moves, her bodyguards' eyes are on her, and Jennifer comes out from the booth, moving in close to Gillian's side. Her brows furrow, head tilts down and eyes narrow subtley, "Before you watch that," she offers in a quiet tone of voice, "you should be aware of something." Looking back up to Gillian, Jennifer gently takes a hold of the younger woman's arm. "The man that delivered that tape to me…"

"…was Edward Ray."

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