Spoilers: Season 3 up until "The Ballad of Kevin and Tess"
Authors Notes: Thanks to Fanwoman for the beta. Written as part of the 4400 ficathon, for the recipient Cypria. Six more chapters are to come... Apologies for the months between chapters -my life has been busy.
Nina sat at her desk, reading over the latest results back from NTAC medical about their new guests. She made to turn the page, but her concentration was interrupted by the short, sharp sound of heels clicking on the floor as someone approached. She glanced up and saw Diana striding towards her open doorway, with Tom hot on her trail. The special agent entered without so much as a hello, launching straight into a diatribe.
"Another ball of light lands, with five people in tow. Why have we only just been included in this?" Diana demanded brusquely as she came to stand in front of the desk. "They've been here for four hours, and you didn't notify your lead investigative team? Surely you're aware we'd want to know as soon as possible. Haven't we earned that right? "
Nina put the papers down and responded with a sarcastic lilt, "Nice to see you, too, Skouris," before acknowledging the man behind Diana with a nod, "Baldwin."
"'Morning, Nina," he replied, slightly sheepishly, looking a little put out, though not nearly as much as his partner. Diana stood with her lips pursed, awaiting a suitable explanation, but Nina decided to address Tom first, interested in how he saw this matter.
"You have an opinion on this, Tom?"
"I'm sure whoever you've got in there is good at their job, but Diana's right. This is big. Not nearly as significant as the first time perhaps, but I still would have liked to have at least gotten a phone call. Finding out so late after the fact is…" He shrugged to express his displeasure.
His answer had started out diplomatic enough, but it was clear he felt pretty much the same way as Diana, even if he was less vehement about it. Nina couldn't say she hadn't considered that this would be how they'd react, but she would stand by her choice. After all, she still called the shots around here, at least for now. She'd half expected Ryland to pull some strings and get in on this development, which was exactly why she'd gone to so much trouble to cover it up and present a normal front to their operations, despite the event. The general public didn't need to know just yet. They had nothing to tell them anyway, and she sure as hell didn't want Ryland finding out any sooner than necessary.
"What was I thinking?" she wondered rhetorically. "I'm sure your respective loved ones wouldn't have minded one bit if I'd woken you up at 2am for a covert operation -"
"That's not the point," retorted Diana.
"Isn't it? Because from where I'm standing, that's exactly the point. You both have responsibilities to other people, and like it or not, sometimes you will miss out because of that. You know full well that there are other agents on call for situations like this, agents who have no families and can make commitment to this department their top priority."
Tom shook his head. "This isn't some everyday situation, Nina."
"All the more reason to use the standard protocols. You two are good - my best - but you were not suitable in this instance. I needed to keep this quiet, to prevent certain parties from noticing, and bringing you two onto a case in the middle of the night would have made that impossible. Get over it. Now, if you don't mind, the preliminary data is in, but sadly, it doesn't tell us much. Five healthy people, all aged between twenty and thirty. About the only unusual thing is they're too healthy as far as we can tell."
"You think they're from the future?"
"I wouldn't rule it out, but we've got a lot of work to do before we can draw any conclusions. Our best bet is to get them talking. Tom, I'd like you to take guest C with Levvy observing – she's one the profilers on this case - and Diana, just D for now; Garrity and Park have had trouble with her and they need some one more experienced in there to do a follow up. I've already got teams talking to the others, but C and D have been particularly difficult, point blank refusing to talk to anyone. Get me something to work with. Even just a name would be a start. "
Nina kept up her defence until her top agents had left the room, then finished reading over the medical summary, the last sentence inspiring a glimmer of hope in her that they'd figure out what was going on. Anomalies found in four out of five of the patient blood samples. Further report pending detailed bloodwork.
Tom stared at the young woman. Her dark brown hair fell down to her shoulders in rivers, framing her oval-shaped face, which was distinctly turned down as she totally ignored him, humming under her breath. He couldn't make out what tune it was, exactly, but from the way she tapped it out on the table and tilted her head lazily to and fro, in time to the beats, he got the impression it was fast-paced yet light-hearted. As he watched her, he was shocked to hear her suddenly address him as if she was mid-conversation with him.
"Maia said you wouldn't be able to tell what it was." She glanced up at him coyly. "I suppose I should tell you, but I'm afraid it'll spoil the surprise."
Wrapping her arms around her thin, girlish form, she pushed off from the floor and played at keeping her chair balanced as he tried to get his mind around her statement.
"Maia told you?! What do you mean, she 'told you'? You haven't left this room for five hours, and Maia Skouris hasn't been anywhere near here."
She smiled and cheerfully put him in his place. "No, silly, I didn't say she'd told me today." Something about the way she spoke made his ears prick up. It was so familiarly delivered, but as soon as he got the impression, it was wiped clean away by her change of tone as she continued admonishingly, "You're far too presumptuous, Mr. Baldwin."
He prayed Agent Levvy - who was behind the one-way mirror watching and taking notes - was making more sense of this whole exchange than he could. He may have gotten somewhere with "C," as opposed to the initial interrogation by Klein and Harris, but darned if he knew where this was all going. The girl seemed rather manic, and though he got answers, they weren't generally for the questions he asked.
"Hmph, so you know our names. That doesn't exactly impress me much," leaning back in his chair to match her earlier movement, he added, "nor interest me. Come on, you're here for a purpose. You might as well enlighten us mere mortals."
"You think they sent me here?" She laughed at the thought. "No, no, no."
Then she fell suddenly silent again, as if she'd gone off with the fairies, captured in introspective thought. It was just as suddenly that she spoke once more, eyes darting back to him.
"The song… my mother sung it to me when I was little, though that doesn't help you much. It's barely a clue at all. It was played at their wedding, or so I'm told. I was two at the time; I hardly remember it except that it wasn't picturesque. Times were hard. They still are, for all of us..."
Her voice drifted off, her expression growing grim, but she recovered, composing herself as if she'd diligently practiced doing so before. Piercing eyes looked up at him, softening quickly before she finally admitted the one thing Nina had desired to at least get out of this.
"My name is Georgia…Georgie, if you like. I really can't tell you any more than that."
Leaning forward, he challenged her, hoping to draw out more of her story.
"What were you rambling about just now? Why babble about that but not tell us anything that really matters?"
"It's exactly that. It doesn't matter if I tell you the song was Mr. Sandman. It has no bearing on anything. It's the important things, things you want to know, that I can't give you. I'm sorry. Some things you're not meant to know yet. We know more than you, but we don't know everything we need to."
And with that, she went back to paying more attention to the ceiling tiles than to him. It was no use. He really hoped Diana was getting something more substantial out of her...suspect. It seemed cruel to think of the person in front of him as that, especially when she had committed no crime; but he knew they couldn't be trusted, not like the first batch of 4400's. The circumstances surrounding their appearance weren't the same as before, for one their behaviour between themselves had not been that of strangers. There was simply no guarantee they were friendly, despite appearances. But he hoped.
"Where are you from?" Diana asked for the second time.
All other questions - name, date of birth, nationality, etc. - had been either point blank refused or unacknowledged by the dark-haired female sitting in the chair opposite her. Garrity'd had exactly the same problem on the initial interview attempt, and supposedly her experience interviewing - which had accumulated fast in the time she'd worked for NTAC - would help them get past this obstacle. Not exactly good cop, bad cop, more like an unrelenting cycling between agents to wear the suspect down, break them in. Garrity was on the other side of the screen, observing with his new partner, Falkner, and waiting to take over again and go in for a second round, once Diana was done.
Feeling less than enthusiastic, she asked again, knowing it was important to keep it up, in case it was third time lucky. Not that she'd had that good fortune on the second try, but at least it elicited a response.
"Don't you mean when?" prompted the young woman, who couldn't have been much into her twenties. "Guest E," her current interviewee, had a crisp, defiant edge about her. She was calm under the pressure, unlike one or two of the others, who had become intimidated or agitated by their confinement, though it hadn't gotten any of them very far with finding the answers to their most pressing questions.
She was now on her second interview of the morning, having spent the better part of half an hour coaxing a name from her first person, "Guest D," only to meet a dead-end after that. He'd been cocky yet frustrated by his predicament. Apart from his name, Ian Ballard – which hadn't turned up anything useful in their searches so far – he'd revealed nothing, demanding that he talk to their director. Interestingly, he'd been reluctant to demand Nina by name, looking distinctly uncomfortable with not being able to say who exactly he wanted, but nevertheless appearing like he wished he could be specific. It was downright odd and also highly suspicious behaviour, indicating a hidden agenda he'd go to lengths to keep close to his vest for now.
Somehow, she didn't expect this woman would be much different in her reluctance to divulge any information; she doubted they'd get even a name from this one.
"Why are you here?"
"You're avoiding my question," was the retort she got from their quick-witted guest.
"You're doing the same."
"We can't keep this up forever."
"Perhaps not, but I'm willing to continue as long as it takes, and you, unlike me, do not have anyone to take over for you when you get tired."
"You've got me there," she admitted rather nonchalantly, without the spark of surprise it should have had. Instead, it had been expressed precisely, as if she'd seen that line coming and had let Diana win one at the expense of any real progress.
Diana repressed the wish to sigh in front of the suspect. She knew she wasn't getting anywhere, and it was just about time for her to give up and go get some lunch. They sat in silence for another five minutes, staring each other down, each confident and their attention attuned to the other. In the end, it was Diana who broke. It'd be better to leave the suspect to stew for a few hours before going through the questions once more, and even better if Tom or Garrity could do the third interview, to emphasise her point that they could keep on going as long as they liked, day and night if necessary. Getting up to leave, she was halfway to the door when the girl spoke up.
"You're exactly as I expected."
Diana gasped and turned round sharply, her eyes narrowing at the impudent statement. "Excuse me?"
"Oh, I know what you're thinking. 'Must be from the future.' But that doesn't say much. For all you know, future technology might allow you to live to 400...or 1000. Besides, I've only heard of you."
For a split second, Diana thought she saw a flicker of emotion cross the woman's face, along with a strange emphasis on "you" spoken, but the flash expression of her feelings was so brief as to make distinguishing it difficult. It was all too quickly squashed as her subject became serious once more.
"Don't make anything of it. You already knew we came from the future; you don't exactly need to know astrophysics to be reasonably certain of that possibility. But you've probably already guessed that we can't tell you when we came from."
"You're right," Diana said confidently as she stepped towards the desk in order to directly face down the woman, "but the thing is, we still don't know why. So don't get too...comfortable." Straightening her arms to rest her hands on the table, she leaned in to close her argument. "Until you give us something more substantial than name dropping and playing mind games with us, we'll consider you rogue elements, as good as a terrorist for all we know."
With that, Diana swiftly exited, resisting the urge to look back triumphantly, knowing it would reduce the effect of what she'd done. She'd never been quite so happy to know the interrogation was being filmed. She hoped those last few minutes might churn out something useful after she'd analysed the tape. Maybe she could even identify what the reaction was that Guest E had let slip after her peculiar comment about knowing Diana.
Marco stared at the photos of NTAC's latest recorded 4400's, or whatever name they were to be dubbed with. What stuck out was how alike guests E and B looked; both dark-haired, slightly tan skin tones, with full faces. "Guest C" - now known simply as Georgia - looked fairly similar, except that she was comparatively very thin, and her features were different enough that the resemblance could be coincidence. Her eyebrows arched up distinctly, combined with a high forehead and hairline, and she also had much fuller lips. In fact she almost looked like she was pouting in her mugshot. Still, he had a nagging feeling that at least E and B were related. Neither had given up a name for themselves, and a familial link could make identification slightly easier once they had more to work with.
Ringing up NTAC medical, he ordered a DNA test, meeting a little resistance to the idea due to them being swamped by the amount of work going on. However they conceded to do so – Nina having given the theory room practically free reign on resources – on the condition it was on a lesser priority. The test would take long enough as it was, meaning waiting for it wasted time, but he sympathised with their concerns. Marco didn't envy them having such a workload on short notice, their department probably hadn't been this busy since the troubles caused by T.J Kim, and now they had their usual load of 4400 appointments, plus the case work that Nina was putting pressure on. All the while, everyone involved in this case was ordered to keep it not only need-to-know but under wraps, making it difficult to excuse the wait on the everyday NTAC tasks that it caused.
At the desk next to him, Brady was deep in thought, going over the latest reports on this case and tapping out a beat with his pen. To be honest, the habit was grating on Marco's nerves a bit, but he didn't like to tell the guy to stop, especially if Brady might come up with a lead. So he opted to take a stroll to see the guests. He knew better than to interrupt when any of his colleagues were working on anything important, and besides, it would make Brady irritable for hours afterwards if he lost his train of thought.
He walked down to the interrogation area, signing in with Will at the security checkpoint, picking a guest at random to visit, and greeting Anne Levvy as he passed her on her way out. As he swung the door open to the observation section for Guest E's room, he was surprised to see no one but Greg Faulkner in there, manning the recording console.
"How's it going?" he asked politely, though he could tell by the look on Greg's weary face that it wasn't exactly going as desired.
"Not well. As you probably know we have a couple of names, but nothing else. Jarvis'll probably chew us out by the end of the day if we've not got anything new to go on. Skouris and Baldwin are going to have a go at this one a little later, after they've had lunch, which should be…" Greg squinted at his watch, clearly tired from working since dawn, "...about now, actually."
"Right," he replied uncomfortably. He hadn't considered the possibility he might run into Diana up here, at least not once he'd noted she wasn't already in the room with the interviewee. Now he wasn't so keen to stick around. Coming to see them all in order get a better sense of who these people were - in the hope that something might switch on and he'd find a spark of inspiration to set off a line of investigation - had seemed a good idea a few minutes ago, but seeing Diana wouldn't help him one bit. Despite his best efforts to put it behind him, he was more than likely to be distracted by the still very raw emotions that surrounded their breakup. It might have been weeks since then, but he simply didn't want to see her at the moment, not if it could be avoided.
Deciding a sharp exit was best, he resolved to get out of there while he still could, without getting tied up in any further emotional turmoil relating to her. Then he noticed the interviewee was looking in his direction. Trying to shake off the feeling of being watched, he took a step towards the door, about to make his excuses to Greg, only to find the person was most definitely staring at him, following his movements as if the one-way mirror was transparent. It was as if Guest E was looking right into him. The gaze was penetrating, unnerving to the extreme – it practically froze him to the spot, and he wondered if it was less than random he'd ended up picking this room to visit.
On the other side of the mirror, the young man got up abruptly and stalked over to in front of the pane, never once breaking eye contact as he did so. Through the glass, "Guest B's" brown eyes locked onto Marco's, and he spoke directly to him, announcing with his voice low and grim, "Marco Pacella - May 19th 2012; don't go in to work for anything."
There was a pause, in which Marco was vaguely aware of Greg's exclamation at the suspects actions in the background, before the young man carried on, speaking more sincerely, but just as surely. With an edge of melancholy, their visitor expressed an entirely heartfelt addition of, "It'll be the death of you if you do." Marco swallowed hard, taking in the statement. Enraptured as he was by the young man, and his ability, he couldn't help but believe it.