Thirty Six Years


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Scene Title Thirty-Six Years
Synopsis It's a long time to get to know someone, and yet even after over three and a half decades, Jennifer Chesterfield still manages to surprise Arthur Petrelli, and vice-versa.
Date May 3, 2009

Pinehearst Headquarters

Beyond plate glass windows, the sky looks like a blanket of crystal clear emerald that stretches on forever. The world, tinted a subtle shade of green, moves on to a steady rhythm in an inexorable march towards an uncertain future. Seated with his back to that panoramic view of time's progression, Arthur Petrelli has just that very concept on his mind – time. But unlike others in this day and age, his thoughts of time aren't on ways to traverse it or change it, but rather how much of it has been wasted over the last two and a half years.

"So, maybe the two of you could explain to me what exactly happened down in the lab today." It's not a question, despite the words reading dryly like one. Everything is key in Arthur's tone, something a simple as a maybe being a polite way of demanding answers in a manner that is both polite and at the same time unsettling. Maybe it's in his stiff posture, the way he folds his hands on his desk like a disappointed schoolteacher, or the furrow of his brows at his wrinkled forehead that makes that demand all the more palpable.

"Batch seventeen had an unexpected side-effect that we weren't prepared for." Mason Chesterfield's words, while eloquently spoken, amount to eloquently spoken excuses. Seated in a chair across from Arthur at his desk, mason's head rests wearily in one hand propped up on the arm of the chair. "We had injected subject six with the serum, and – for a time – we actually got a positive result on the chromosome binding."

Mason Chesterfield isn't alone in this report, however. Seated beside him, the chestnut haired woman that guards his right flank seems far less intimidated by Arthur's bravado, far less willing to slouch down into her seat than Mason is. "Arthur," also far less formal in business meetings, "you're obviously aware of the difficulties of these experiments."

Jennifer Chesterfield's tone is something like Arthur's, a veneer of politeness overlaying something more chastising and sharp. "Doctor Meier's results in the last six months were – " she waves into the air towards an unspoken point, " – calling them a mess would be a credit to the results. Not only," and when she emphasizes her words, Jennifer's brows both raise high behind her bangs, head giving a knowing tilt towards Arthur, "were her field tests risky, but ultimately got the attention of the Company on those experiments." Her lips press together in a manner unflattering to her face, showing all those creases time has laid on once tight skin. "I'm not even going to touch how inhumane they were."

Mason hides his eyes behind one hand, always feeling like a spotlight is shining on him from a foot away when Jennifer speaks her mind. Arthur's reaction is much the same as Mason's has been for the last ten minutes, slouching back into his chair to rub one hand over his face.

"Maybe I didn't make myself clear," Arthur states with a fair amount of rhetoric, "when I asked you two to come aboard and refine Doctor Meier's process?" Focus shifts back and forth between Mason and Jennifer, before finally coming to the paperwork on his desk. Reaching out with one hand, he picks up the documents and begins to read aloud from them.

"Day six: Subject shows signs of increased aggression and paranoia compounded by escalating failure of brain fuctions." He looks up with just that one sentence, letting his eyes drift back and forth from Mason to Jennifer to make sure they're listening. They are, though the looks on both of their faces are like two teenagers being punished after school by the principal.

"Day seven: Subject has expired due to loss of lower brain functions resulting in asphyxiation from failure to maintain respiration." The paperwork is laid down, one hand motioning to it like it was some grand exhibit, "If this is either of your ideas of refinement I would be terrified to find out what you think a step backwards would be."

Exasperated sighs are all too common coming from Mason, especially lately. This particular one proceeds an attempt at self-defense, trying to advocate his case to a man already convinced of his guilt. "Our test subjects are at least maintaining their corporeal stability. We haven't had an incident of tissue breakdown in weeks, I think that alone is cause for – "

"Arthur," Jennifer's tone of voice causes Mason to wince, "you're a reasonable man. We've known each other for – how long now?" Unlike Arthur's questions, Jennifer's aren't rhetorical, they give an option to lure someone into a conversational trap.

"Thirty-six years," Arthur notes in a flat tone of voice, having an idea of where this particular line of questioning is leading to.

"Thirty-six years," Jennifer nods in agreement after parroting the words back at him, "and how often – in those thirty six years – have Mason or I worked in bio-engineering?" Dark brown brows rise up again, and this time there's a snake-like quality to her sincerity, that smile on her face almost a mocking one in its lack of merit.

One hand rubs against Arthur's brow, and his tone of voice is strained with frustration, "I understand that this is new for the both of you," when the hand moves away, and he looks back up to Jennifer, that sourpuss expression on her face is an unwelcome surprise. "But I have put a great deal of faith in both of your brilliant minds."

Leaning back in his chair, Arthur folds his hands at his stomach, breathing out a tired sigh as he looks to the paperwork. "You both have remarkable abilities… but perhaps you're right." Those words cause Mason and Jennifer to look at each other with a puzzled expression, then shift their focus back to Arthur. "I think that Doctor Meier's formula isn't going to work. Despite my best efforts, I've been unable to reproduce the work Doctor Zimmerman did for the Company back in its early years…" restlessly, Arthur leans forward, folding his hands once more on his desktop this time, "I think it's time we go back to basics."

After a moment of confusion, Mason finally chimes in with a bit of a stutter, "I—I'm not entirely…" he glances to Jennifer, seeing a look on his wife's face that is less an impassive mask than usual, "You want us to scrap the current development?"

One silent nod comes from Arthur, and he leans forward, lifting his hands up to rest his chin on laced fingers. "I have an agent in the field right now, who will be making an attempt to recover the original Formula from the…" it's hard to define exactly where Kaito Nakamura stands in all of this, "individual who has the original information. I've already ensured that the most vital component to this research is…" he moves one hand to rest on his chest over his heart, "safe and sound."

"Lewis Zimmerman?" Both of Mason's brows rise up as he looks at Arthur as if the man had three heads, "He resigned from the Company years ago after what was done to—" One hand rises, and Arthur quickly interjects over Mason.

"What happened to Miss Bishop was unfortunate, yes, and I know Doctor Zimmerman has quite an axe to grind with the Company over what happened there…" Looking down to his hands, Arthur presses his lips together into a faint frown before turning his focus over to Jennifer. "I'd like you to fly out to California, Jennifer, and see if you can talk some sense into the good Doctor for me."

Mason, caught off-guard by the request, jerks his head in the direction of his wife who has far more composure on the matter. Folding her hands in her lap, she tips her head to one side and flicks her gaze up to Arthur. "I never did have the chance to meet him personally, and I think that if we're bringing Gillian Childs and Brian Fulk into this line of work, they deserve to meet him."

Mason's expression softens some, but when he looks back to Arthur there's a faint defiance in it. "Then, what—I'm sidelined? I have three further volunteers lined up to test the next batch of the Formula. Doctor Meier is going to be livid if we're let go from this project, it's her baby, Arthur."

"I'll handle talking to Doctor Meier," Arthur smiles faintly, "don't you worry about her. And no, I'm not sidelining you; I'm just putting a temporary hold on the Formula research until I hear back from my associate in Tokyo. If things go over well there, we'll have a more fertile ground to start up on again."

Deflating some, Mason gives a slow and tired nod as he slouches back down into his chair. "Is there a possibility that I might be able to have Roger's assistance in getting to California a bit faster?" A hesitant and well-played smile flashes across Jennifer's lips, but the reaction it elicits from Arthur is nothing short of a failure.

"Jennifer," he says with a crooked smile, "Roger's not the best person to taxi people to and from anywhere, his unique gift has some very… unfortunate side effects. Besides, I need Roger here to keep an eye on what the Company is doing. I've got one more iron in the fire that I need to make sure he hammers out before all of this is said and done."

Pursing his lips, Arthur glances to the door to the office, then back to Jennifer. "However, I won't be sending you alone – just in case." Reclining in his chair, Arthur lifts his focus up to the door again, and raises his voice some as he makes a motion, "you can come in now."

Both Mason and Jennifer turns slowly, looking over their shoulders towards the door to the office as it cracks open. Slowly a young man ducks his head in, one brow raised before slipping the rest of the way inside. Smiling a bit anxiously, the blonde haired young man tucks his hands into the pockets of his pinstriped slacks as he strolls in, trying to appear more relaxed than he really is. "Allow me to introduce you to Trent Daselles, one of my inside men with the Company, he's been working with Roger for quite some time now."

Jennifer rises up from her seat, giving a nod of her head for Mason to as well as she makes her way across the room, reaching out one hand to the young man. "Mister Daselles, it's a pleasure, I'm Jennifer Chesterfield. I hear we'll be having a long, uncomfortable flight together." That same smile – difficult to assess in its sincerity – flashes across Jennifer's lips as Trent takes her hand, his expression looking somewhere between a deer in the headlights and a newborn kitten at her attitude.

"Don't mind her," Mason murmurs, taking the opportunity to introduce himself as well. "Doctor Mason Chesterfield, it's a pleasure." The formality seems somewhat more suitable to the reactions Trent expected, awkwardly nodding his head as he flashes a look to Arthur.

"Now that you're all acquainted," Arthur interjects, rising up from his desk as well, "I'd like you to get on contacting Zimmerman as soon as possible. We have to move quickly on this, I want to make absolutely certain that everyone is in place once we begin testing again."

Mason, quietly, turns from Arthur towards Jennifer, giving her a silent – though clearly understood – expression of concern that is only mirrored in her eyes, not in the confident look of assurance she wears. Then, regarding Trent, Mason gives the man a stern stare and raises one brow.

"You had best bring her back safe."

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