A Game Of Smiles


f_nathan2_icon.gif tracy2_icon.gif

Scene Title A Game Of Smiles
Synopsis Tracy offers her resignation, but it is declined. She learns that her boss and President are really her enemy still.
Date October 2, 2009

Petrelli Mansion

The office opens up to the cloudy, humid New York day, spills its tempered hazy sunlight inwards without the interference of electric light. It's known that when President Petrelli comes home, he likes to be home, and yet another visit to New York City sees him standing at the open doors of his office, an arm against the frame and his gaze set out towards the land that separates the estate from the rest of Hyde Park.

He doesn't immediately look back over his shoulder when he hears the quiet knock heralding the silent hinge turn of someone being admitted entrance through the interior door. Tracy Strauss is shown in, the expanse of the office stretching wide between them in all its antique furniture, decadent colours and tokens here and there he's collected over the years or inherited from his father - a model of a ship in a bottle, a painting on the wall, the collection of dusty, leather bound books high against the wall.

Moving back from the sunlight, Nathan turns to her, a mostly empty whiskey glass in his hand, still containing the amber dregs of alcohol shimmering like a jewel at the bottom of the crystal. "Miss Strauss, come on in. Can I get you anything?"

And as for Tracy Strauss? She's been living the happy life in New York. No more late-night break-ins. No more tests, no more biotechnical companies getting blown up. No more craziness. Just the usual job of a Communications expert in some of the most trying times the world has ever known.

And she loves it.

She enters, breezes in really, wearing a dark blue office pencil dress with white piping, pearls gleaming around her throat. Her hair is down today, but still combed back as she offers that glittering political smile to her boss, the same one he's seen a hundred times. "Hello Mr. President. A glass would be lovely, thank you."

He moves towards where liquor bottles are stacked into an antique tea tray, picking out a fresh glass from where they're kept, face down, and choosing the same bottle he'd sampled from just previously. Silent as the neck of the bottle clinks gentle against the rim of the glass, Nathan then offers the woman a smile as he holds out an arm for her to take the drink, a modest amount for the hour.

Despite the shining veneer of her smile, there's study in the way the President observes her, though he himself cuts a nice grin right back at her, all bright teeth and clean shaven cheeks. His shirt is unbuttoned at the throat, the wings of his collar tucked into the hem of his suit jacket, shark grey and sedate.

"And what can I do for you, besides a drink?"

Graceful, lithe and manicured are the fingers that curl around the heavy glass, bringing it close for a sip tainted by dark rouge lipstick. Yet none of it gets on the glass. She is that impecable.

"Well, now that you ask," Tracy begins, looking down at the glass for a moment, her smile faultering into a look of professional seriousness, the sort of look she has only when she hasn't solved the problem yet - a rather rare look, all things considered. "I'm going to be taking a personal day tomorrow that I thought you should know about."

Now women (and men) in Tracy's position really don't need to inform the President of the need to take a personal day. Usually they just take those days and life goes on, unless they take too many or they take one when they have something big planned…you get the idea.

And yet there's no plans for tomorrow. No meetings, no revelations. And still, here stands Tracy Strauss, informing Nathan of this. Something must be up.

Nathan's brow furrows a little at her words, though it's not out of disapproval, seeing as his next words are; "Of course." Stealing a step back, he's wrapping his hand about the neck of the whiskey bottle, tipping it to top up his own glass, just a splash of the shining liquor. Though his focus is on his task, he spares a look her way from beneath eye lashes, head at a cant to the side. "Everything okay?"

Curiousity eclipses concern, or perhaps more accurately, concern veils the inherent, sharper edge of curiousity. She is, after all, informing him for a reason.

Tracy has many things, but illusions are not among them. Veiled comments are a way of life for her, and taking things at face value is niave. Reading too much into them is also rather pointless, as a single word can mean a million things. One only has to go with what one can percieve to be true. Percieving something wrong can be devastating.

"It will be just fine," Tracy informs him, the methodically soft click-click-click of her heels on the muffling carpet bringing her up beside him as she slips a peice of paper onto the wall-stand surface beside wehre her President, boss and occasional booty-call stands. It's a letter of resignation, unsigned. "Though exactly how this is going to end, I'm leaving up to you, Mr. President." There is a moment of stark honesty there, where her words mean exactly what they say. Whatever it is, it is serious enough for Tracy to speak plainly.

The resignation letter catches his attention easily, gaze snagged upon the words as she lays them out in front of them. He picks it up with the tips of his fingers, shaking stability into the form with his other hand wrapped around the low glass of alcohol. Though Tracy's words ring honest, Nathan can't help but sense a power play. The notion falters, though, when he looks back at her.

Shaking his head to convey his own honesty, a lack of comprehension, he says, "You're not exactly the quitting type, Miss Strauss. Far be it from me to start a trend. What's this about?"

Tracy's look has regained some of it's normal perk, the corners of her lips brought up in a confident, yet restrained smile as she explains. "I would never quit on you, Mr. President, but I wanted to give you the option. My first and formost concern is your campaign."

Tracy looks down at her glass a moment, lifting it and throwing back it's contents. The ice clinks from one side to the other, making soft little flat chimes as it does so. She exhales slowly, lowering the glass after her hot breath mingled with the cool frozen water, washing up a brief spout of steam. It all passes in a matter of a breath.

Glass set aside, she stands, tall and poised, and looks to her President.

"Tomorrow morning I will be visiting Police Plaza in order to register myself as per the Linderman Act that I have supported since it's creation and I still support now."

The silence that follows borders on wry, Nathan's gaze narrowed speculatively and the corner of his mouth twisted into a smile he could easily deny. Realisation, shock, these things are kept to a simmer beneath the surface. Then, he offers back the resignation letter without a word in regards to it, and he knocks back the modest helping of whiskey he had served from himself. This is set aside in turn.

He nods to her, once the alcohol is swallowed down and forming his torso from the inside out. "If you need me to make a few calls and see that whatever your your tier rating is isn't off the charts entirely, then I can see what I can do."

The wordless return of the letter is enough for Tracy, who holds it daintily between her fingers, text facing her slim body, as the conversation continues. Her smile never faulters - it holds that slightly upturned, pleasant-yet-hidden look about it. He has not surprised her, not yet.

"That would be much appreciated," she explains. "As your Communications Director, however, no matter the Tier-rating, I'd like to make it public. Examples of your administration complying openly and freely with something as controversial as the Linderman Act can only act in our favor with Independant voters. Most people are more than happy to see a government that is not above the law." Even now, work to be done.

She says the last bit with a touch of humor in her voice, as if to say: Silly people don't understand anything, but we have to keep them happy.

His arms come to fold across his chest as he listens, jacket pinching around the rounding of his shoulders. Nathan nods, once, at her own wry observation. "Absolutely. And I have no doubt in mind you've already got an idea about how best to approach this - it's your area, after all. See what local reporters would cover this the way you need it covered, if you want to stand alone or slot it into something bigger."

Polished shoes carry him a little further away from Tracy, out of a need to pace, turning back to her as he shrugs and adds, "Bottom line being, it's better they find out from you before they find out some other way. It's the right call." The words are easy to voice - he's been doing this a long time. Maybe even longer than that.

Tracy takes a step or two toward him, her confident smile blooming fully once more, paper wafting gently between her hands, expensive perfume swirling lightly around the enclosed office. "I'm glad we're in agreement," in truth, she never doubted that they would be. Men need to feel in charge - even the President. She knew he'd never fire her, or accept her resignation. But feeling like he had that power, that power that she'd offered him - it's tricks like that that put her in the confidence of such a man. She smiles a bit wider as he explains to her why her idea is a good one, but she certainly doesn't sotp him. All these arguments to her, are common sense. But that's what makes her the best, that and the patience to have them repeated back to her.

"I won't take up much more of your time except on one little issue." She steps closer, perhaps invading his space a little bit, but only a little. She is a powerful woman, even to a man more powerful that can be sensed. It's emitted in her walk, her smile, her icy blue eyes and her expensive perfume. "Two Nathans left my window and one returned." Her look becomes a bit more wry as she looks over him. "It's an elephant in the room that I think needs to be cleared. The last thing I need is another President Petrelli breaking into my home in the middle of the night."

The wry smile returns, a little less hidden, a little less easily denied. Nathan gives a slow blink in place of a nod of agreement, or at least acknowledgment - she was always going to ask. The fact that she needs to— is encouraging. "You won't have to worry about him," he states. "There might not be room enough in America for the two of us, but there's room enough in the world.

She figured. The one she slept with wouldn't be calling her Miss Strauss. This one is more serious, less laid back. This one has an agenda, the other was doing the best he could in an unknown world. It makes sense.

"You are my President," she explains, remaining stainding where she is, ankles together, giving her slender feminine form a bit more grace to it - if that were even possible. "I'm sure per my job description I'm at your beck-and-call at all hours anyway." A good way to reaffirm that she is dedicated and loyal to him - although he doesn't know he betrayed her for the sake of his younger form. Turning, she covers any hint of concern that might leak through her icy vestige by keeping her back to Nathan. You never know, but her voice at least, doesn't faulter. She pours another few splashes of liquor, helping herself. "And our other Nathan? Even a Malaysian peasant would recognize him if he turned up." Nathan. Not President. No loyalty. Little words like this are absolute requirments for a Communications expert.

Up here, the sound of traffic from the wider city doesn't quite penetrate the silence, even with the big open doors gutting half the office to the elements. There's birds, there's wind, there's a radio from some other corner of the house, but otherwise, there's an isolation to the silence that follows. And then—

"I couldn't kill him." There's a rueful smile for Tracy, should she look back. "The man that put me here— in this world, this position— he wanted me to. It's the one thing I've left loose, the last snare to something that's… more perfect than you could ever imagine, for me. And I don't want to tie it up."

The ground creaks underfoot, floorboards beneath the carpet, as Nathan rocks a step back, his chin up. "I know that he wanted to kill me that night. I'm not an idiot. But we're very different men."

It isn't often that Tracy hears something that makes both her personal and her professional stomaches drop, but Fake-than
has just managed that. Still, it barely shows, through the years of practice of showing nothing at all.

Turning, glass drained and set down, Tracy folds her arms in a graceful motion, listening comfortably. "The man that put you here? As a member of your staff I must express my wariness to find you, Mr. President, at the whims of some other man's wants." She perks an eyebrow, curiously.

"He's dead."

Nathan settles a look on her, wryness gone, and age almost shows through at the lines of his eyes, the grim set of his expression. There's something there, either supernatural or mundane, that's cleared away some of the more telling signs of age, but for a moment, his ten years almost catch up on him.
He raises a hand to rub his forehead, and lets out a sigh. Tension eases away, relaxing. "He opened the door, so to speak, but nothing more than that. Trust me, the Nathan that was here before was far more the puppet at the whims of others than me - I'm on my own."

The reaction is much more interesting than the words. Tracy watches him, his movements, her own face never faultering as the news that this unknown person who sent back a fake President is dead. In truth it's probbaly a relief - after all, one less person she's going to have to track down, and the one she has right now is, for lack of a better word, a doozy.
"I wouldn't say on your own, Mr. President," Tracy says with that bright, confident yet secretive smile perking up once more.

"I think tomorrow especially you'll see just how useful I can be."

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