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Scene Title Concession
Synopsis Jenn Chesterfield and Nicole Nichols watch the final results of the mayoral election roll in. With pathos.
Date February 15, 2010

Chesterfield Campaign Headquarters

It's been decided since Queens reported in with projections for a Lockheart landslide in that borough. Chesterfield campaign headquarters is nearly empty, save for the few hangers on who watch television screens quietly. Balloons hang around the tables, red white and blue reminders of an opportunity lost.

Seated at one of the folding tables, television on but the sound muted, a tall bottle of champagne rests on the middle of the table between the tired visage of Jennifer Chesterfield and her campaign manager Nicole Nichols. Wine glass in hand, Jenn smiles distractedly at the television, offering a look over to her young assistant with a fade to the smile. "We gave it a good go…" the brunette offers, lifting her bubbling glass up with one hand before taking a sip from it, staring over the glass rim with a distant expression in her eyes.

The only reason she's still here is to see who wins, a loss to Donovan would at the very least mean a loss to an honest and hard-working campaigner, but to lose to Lockheart would be an unthinkable failure in her eyes. From one of the further away tables, a lanky brunette man approaches the pair, his dark hair in shoulder-length curls and glasses resting on the bridge of his nose. He's not a part of the campaign proper, he's an "old friend" of Jennifer's, a business acquaintance from years past.

"Better to 'ave loved an' lost, yeah?" Martin Crowley's British accent comes with a subdued clip as he lays a hand down on Jenn's shoulders. "Well, at least you've still got your day job…" he gives the shoulder a squeeze, and Jenn looks up with a mild smile, nodding her head slowly. Martin casts a look over at Nicole, slowly nodding his head to her as his hand moves away.

"I've got t'get headed home. Did y'need a ride?" Jennifer looks up to the request, feigning a laugh and a smile as she shakes her head and waves off the request politely.

"No, but thank you Martin. I've got a car coming to pick me up in a little while… I'll see you tomorrow, then, bright and early." Martin's smile back, scruffy as it is, seems more honest than Jennifer's. He just nods his head, then looks over to Nicole, leaning over the table and offering a handshake to her in farewell.

Nicole smiles wanly, the first smile she's even had the courtesy to fake since their early lead was dispelled as myth. "Drive safe," she murmurs as she gives Crowley's hand a brief, but firm shake.

"I'm so sorry, Jenn," Nicole says for something like the billionth time that evening. "I can't help but feel like I could have done more." Her head down in her hands now, hair clutched between her fingers and tugged lightly. "I let my own personal problems get in the way of running your campaign." Only Nicole Nichols would apologise for letting her sister's disappearance distract her from something like the New York mayoral race. She can't even bring herself to look over at her employer and friend, so ashamed of herself.

Watching Crowley as he leaves, Jenn's feigned smile fades and her look flashed across the table to Nicole is a sympathetic one. "Nicole, if I were in the same situation as you were, and my daughter was in danger…" There's a slow shake of her head, eyes diverted down into her glass of champagne. "I would have dropped this campaign like a hot potato and ran to her side." The smile she tries to hide behind the rim of the glass is subtly more honest. "Family…" She trails off for a moment, considering the television, "family is what is more important than any of this." Her glass is used to motion towards a news anchor showing a map of New York City and the neighborhoods that have reported in.

"It says more about you as a person than it does for you as an employee, Nicole…" Green eyes divert to the younger woman, watching her behind the bubble of the glass. "That you tried to keep doing this thankless job, even while you knew your sister was in danger— no one in their right mind would ever want to try and turn you down about that." Looking down to the table, Jenn settles her glass on the smooth surface, then reaches inside of her suit jacket.

"In fact… I have something I'd like to give you a good reference." Withdrawing a business card, Jennifer lays it down on the table and slides the card across towards Nicole. "I know you do work for Daniel, but I think if you mentioned this business opportunity to him he might understand a little bit, and he would likely support it too." The card looks to be for a Biotech firm based out of New York.

Biomere Research Incorporated

Excellence, Integrity and Reliability

Eric Thompson, Human Resources

"Mister Thompson is a good friend of mine, and Biomere is a strong company that could use someone like you in the public relations department." Always trying to be the mother to everyone around her, Jenn slowly moves her hand away and picks up the glass again. "I've already pulled Eric's ear a little bit about you, and I think he'd be willing to give you an interview. Biomere… offers a lot of opportunities for the future. For you," there's an incline of Jenn's head, "your sister…"

On the television, a marquee display cmes up along with a groan from the men and women in the back of the office as Sylvia Lockheart is officially declared the winner of the election, narrowly edging out Marcus Donovan.

"The job has never been thankless," Nicole insists, finally pouring a glass of champagne for herself. Champagne is meant for people enjoying a celebration. This is more like a funeral procession. But the alcohol is welcome now, after everything that has come to pass over the past few crazy weeks as everything came down to the wire and then exploded in her face. It takes some amount of restraint not to actually drink straight from the bottle.

"Maybe it's just a habit by now, and you don't even realise it, but you've always thanked me for my efforts. In this business, that means the world to me, Jenn." Finally Nicole manages to look over and offer a genuine, if still sad smile. She stares down at the business card for a long moment, as though the print upon it might burn itself into her memory if she just looks at it long enough. "Biomere," she murmurs absently, taking the card to tuck into her own coat, which has long since been slung over the back of her chair. "Thank you, Jenn."

The notice that they're nearly ready to announce the winner of the campaign causes Nicole to lift her head once more to look at the television screen. When it turns out that Lockheart has won the race, the campaign manager groans. "I knew I should have released those medical records that suggested she had cancer."

Looking out at the woman on the screen, Jenn offers a fake smile and exhales one last weak sigh. "She looks tired," the brunette admits, "doesn't she?" Settling down her glass of champagne and rising up from her chair, it seems that bit of confirmation was all she needed to see. Reaching down to pull her jacket off of the back of the chair, Jenn looks longingly at the screen, where Lockheart stands behind a podium in a shower of colored confetti and balloons. Jenn's brows divert down and she slowly slides the jacket over her shoulders, then picks up her purse.

"Give it a thought…" Jenn reminds, nodding towards the card, "You have a bright future ahead of you Nicole, and I don't want you to ever be discouraged from it. Things may not have worked out this time," she looks towards the screen, "but we can't give up on trying to make the world a better place. So it's not my spot in the sun, I'm sure someone else will come around and take up the mantle if given the chance."

Resting a hand on her purse, Jennifer stares at the television again before looking over to Nicole. "Can you handle calling Ms. Lockheart and giving her a congratulations message? I don't think I have it in me tonight, and I'd rather just get home." There's a tightness in Jenn's throat as she swallows, fingers pushing up her glasses along the bridge of her nose. "One last assignment."

In spite of herself, Nicole laughs at Jenn's assessment that Lockheart does, in fact, look tired. "I suppose there's some consolation in the fact that we ran a clean campaign." As much as she may have wanted to do otherwise. The political arena is not a clean one, so why try to act otherwise?

When Jenn stands, Nicole does too. She offers a wide smile, much happier than the one before if not exactly bright and sunny, and wraps the older woman in a tight hug. "I am so proud of you," she tells her. It's somewhat of a role reversal, but she feels it must be said. Nicole pulls back with her hands on Jenn's shoulders still and smiles still. "You're so right. We may not have won this race, but that doesn't mean we can't still set out to accomplish our goals. Let's take a week off and then come up with a new game plan, huh? How do you like the sounds of Senator Chesterfield?" Nicole laughs, a tear sliding down her face to betray just how emotional she is over all of this. "Bigger fish, remember? I can get you there."

After one last hug, Nicole releases Jenn and plucks up her BlackBerry. "I will be cordial and gracious on your behalf, of course." With no small amount of disgust, Nicole brings up the contact information on her phone for Sylvia Lockheart. "I'll come knock when I get home, just so you know I didn't actually spend the night here. Again." It definitely wouldn't be the first time. Or the dozenth. "I'll see you tomorrow."

Leaning away from Nicole after the embrace, Jennifer offers a faint smile as she reaches inside of her jacket, pulling out a soft package of cigarettes belonging to Mason that she'd always carried with her since his passing. "I'll see you tomorrow, Nicole…" Looking down at the front of the pack, Jenn starts to walk towards the door, but then turns and stops, looking back at the faces of all the workers who had done so much and struggled through so many hard times in this campaign, the ones who stuck on till the very end.

Giving them an awkward, somewhat self-conscious nod of her head, she waves with the pack of cigarettes in hand and pushes her shoulder against the door leading out to the north stairwell. When the door shuts, the other campaign workers start packing up their things, murmuring voices wondering about their next move and plans for the future.

Outside, the Ruins of Midtown are an oppressive backdrop out the window, a reminder to everyone in the office what they're fighting to restore. Somehow, with the snow falling down outside and the distant twinkle of northern Manhattan beyond, it almost looks peaceful.

Peaceful like the eye of a storm.

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