craig_icon.gif tracy2_icon.gif

Scene Title Barracudas
Synopsis Two politicos meet at the Orchid.
Date October 24, 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!.

Low music plays through the room, and it's almost dinned out by the time a person gets halfway away from the stage. On the stage is a piano player, a woman, who is singing lounge music, soft and slow and sweet. Some pay attention. Others do not. Either way, of both types, there are plenty of people here tonight. It is, after all, a Saturday, the day that not only politicians and businesspeople come out for drinks, but when the wealthy just…come out. Mistresses, wives, though no children. It's not that kind of place.

Among these people is Presidential Communications Director Tracy Strauss. She's shorn her sling tonight, and is wearing a simple sleeveless, high-necked tailored dress that falls down past her knees, but is…well, very fitting of her form. Particularly her rear. She's shorn the sling for the night, though you won't see her moving her left arm very much, and if someone should bump her shoulder, they'd feel a lot of padding and tenderness there. She moves, with a confident smile, through the room, stepping one foot in front of the other until she reaches the bar.

Already at the bar is a long-limbed man with a dangerously charming smile. It's currently directed at a woman who looks to have too much money and not quite enough brains; her figure should be explanation enough of his interest. The sight of Tracy approaching is distinctly more interesting, however, and Craig's eye is caught by the blonde. He leans over to his date (mark? floozy?) and murmurs something, leaving the woman looking a bit grumpy, but she at least takes her purse and her drink and slinks off elsewhere. "Tracy Strauss," he greets.

Tracy has ordered her usual Martini and slipped up onto the high stools, crossing her legs and stretching her dress a bit more around her figure, by the time Craig approaches her. She turns at the sound of her voice, eyebrows already raised in curiosity. Perhaps she turns her head a bit fast than normal curiosity would dictate - but then again, she was almost murdered. Again. As she looks over Craig, though, her gaze becomes a bit amused, a bit scrutinizing. Finally, she says his name slowly, as it comes back to her. "Craig Owens," she finally murmurs, tilting her body toward him. "What a surprise. I haven't seen you since before Feldmen's election," Feldmen was a competitor for the Senate Seat from Jersey, for whom Tracy worked. In 2007, he won.

"I've been counting the days," Craig replies with dry humor, smirk tugging on his lips. "It was just a matter of time now that we're both in New York, though." He leans his back against the bar, fingers on the lowball of Scotch that sits on its surface. He rotates the glass lazily. "Glad to see you're feeling better." His eyes glance at the slingless arm.

Tracy offers a smile and a coy glance to the side as her own fingers slip around the stem of her martini glass. "Well, I decided that a night without the sling was worth the soreness in the morning. A good tradeoff - economics 101." A soft chuckle reaches her ruby-painted lips. "So New York, that's right, isn't it." She sips her glass, leaving not even a trace of lipstick on the expensive glass, then turns her cool blue eyes to regard the man again, keenly. It's a fencing match - a dance, but with very dangerous weapons. "You're working for Sylvia Lockhart now. How's that treating you?"

Craig considers the question, taking the moment to take a sip of Scotch. "Well. I've always hated surprises." He runs a thumb across the neatly-groomed hair on his jawline. "New York seems to be full of them. Seemed like you could always seem the ones in Washington coming from a mile away." His smile widens as he tips a deferring nod in her direction. "Well. People like you and me could." Still, it's not quite an answer, and he adds, "I enjoy a good challenge."

"Well you've certainly picked a difficult one," Tracy purrs, her voice rolling like a kitten's playful breath. Her scent doesn't really offer much in the way of arousal - no more than he probably finds when moving past most women who enjoy a nice view - but more contentment. Mild exhilaration. Talking politics, being politics, it's always fun. She pauses, sipping her drink, this time watching him over the rim of her glass. The look breaks; she sits back and sets the glass down with a soft sound of glass on stone. "The NAEU lobbyists will have their pick of the litter this year, from what I can tell."

He holds the gaze with steady, interested amusement until she breaks it. "I think they will," Craig agrees, lifting his glass away from the bar to swirl the liquid inside in a habitual gesture. "But no candidate against registration would have made it past their own doorstep in this city." His blue eyes sharpen on her, body leaning towards her just the tiniest bit. "Not quite your normal issue for you anymore, is it?"

She smiles, amusement growing. "I like to think this is exactly normal issues for me - after all, it involves me directly, as I'm sure you heard by now." Her announcement of her registration and the fiasco that followed are extremely well-known by this point. "Do you really think you'll get the support you need for the Republicans to declare you a frontrunner?" By saying 'you' of course she means his boss, but since he works for her, he's a part of her mechanism. "With the NAEU splintered among three candidates, another of whom is running under the red banner, you're going to need a strong base." The music plays softly behind them, wafting like Tracy's natural and bottled perfume scents. "Do you think you have enough mainstream Republicans for that?"

"That was the point I was making. I think /everyone/ knows by now." Craig lifts his glass to his lips, letting amber liquid slip past into his mouth. Her question gets the thought it deserves. "People want to feel safe. And they'll accept a lot to get that." He sets his Scotch back on the bar. "Though Chesterfield just earning herself a new block of sympathy votes doesn't help."

Tracy doesn't shy away from Craig's ability to speak of her Registration. She gave that up when she registered at all, she knows. "Mmm, but even if you do beat out Chesterfield, you've got Donovan with a very strong record of providing just that. He's a hard-liner on crime and he's got a record as long as my arm to prove it." She smirks, leaning forward a bit as she raises her glass, taking another slow sip before she sets it down again. "All I can say is that it's a good thing that you like a challenge."

"I wouldn't keep such excellent company if I didn't," Craig says, lifting his glass again for a moment just brief enough to raise it in her direction. "We'll see. New York didn't used to like Republicans very often, but…" His hand gestures, as if the completion of the sentence goes without saying.

Tracy tilts her head gently toward the handsome staffer as he lifts his glass. "Well, with Donovan having an unsplintered base and favorable memories of Bianco still close, you'll have your work cut out for you." She finishes her martini, setting it aside and waving off another. "I'll be very interested to see where you take it."

"Bianco's only been so popular because of playing the moderate angle." Craig watches her wave off a second drink and follows her closing of the topic. "We'll see," he agrees. "I'm enjoying the ride while it lasts."

"And there's plenty of rides to come after it," she says, handing over her new card to the man. Hey, if he does half decent - who knows? Maybe, if he finds himself out an election, there are other job opportunities to be had. "I'm sure we'll speak again soon. I'm very eager to see how things go." Tracy lifts her blazer and slips into it, nodding to the man and pulling her long, blonde hair from her blazer collar before she turns for the door.

"I look forward to it." Craig tucks the proffered card into the inside pocket of his jacket, his expression one of unconcerned ease. He doesn't usually go long between jobs. "Til next time, Ms. Strauss." He watches her exit with the same appreciation as many of the other men in the lounge.

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