Drink To Trust


nathan_icon.gif tracy_icon.gif

Scene Title Drink To Trust
Synopsis The President comes calling. It's even more unusual than that. Nathan tries to win over one person in his crusade to win his life back.
Date June 12, 2009

Tracy's Apartment

It's night, and there's a curfew. Truth be told, Tracy doesn't much want to be out this Friday night anyway - she'd much prefer to stay in, with a martini, sitting with her feet up on her sofa, the news on mute as she glances at the headlines every so often. She's in a nightgown, a slinky thigh-length sort, with a loose (also slinky) robe worn about her form. Papers litter her - on her lap, on the table, she's working, clearly, and even has her cell phone nearby. The room is poorly lit - only the light of the television and a little lamp nearby throw shadows around her.

Not very long ago, something dressed as black as the Friday night sky dropped out of it.

She'll hear it, at the corner of her attention span. A creak from where nighttime, summer air has been leaking into her apartment since she cracked open the window. No footsteps, however, not until— the solid thump-thunk of two feet finding purchase on expensively carpeted floor from somewhere over her shoulder.


The familiar voice of the President comes from a figure less familiar. His clothes are dark, casual and unkempt, not quite fitting him like they should. Stubble is a bristly shadow along his throat and jaw, and his hair has grown out of its politician's conservative cut. A hand is braced against the door frame. He looks tired and like he could do with a drink or several, but— "Don't— be a afraid." Which is maybe the worst thing to tell someone. It hardly ever works.

"Whichever one of you boys that is, I'm not in my neglige this time, so you'd be better off just turning around and walking away. And if any of my booze is missing, we're going to have another serious disagreement." That's when she hears the voice, after she makes a fool of herself. "Mr. President." She salutes, verbally, pushing the papers away and moving to stand. "Sir….I….I'm sorry. I was under the impression Presidents knock." She gives him a little smile, that political smile laced with flirtation. "Learn something new every day." Icy blue eyes travel over him in thought, eyebrows raising somewhat. "Would you like a drink?" Cause he looks like he could use several.

"This happen a lot?" Somehow, he manages half a smile, and when an offer of a drink is made, rather than a threat to call the police— for now— Nathan comes a little closer into the light, his hands wandering into the pockets of his jacket. Whatever Presidential confidence that can be associated with him has drained out some time ago, looking as sleepless as he does ungroomed. He glances around the space, shadows eyed, corners checked, even as he says, "Yeah. Could do with a drink." Or several.

"More than you'd think, actually." She sets her thick files on the coffeetable, making room on the sofa. "Here, have a seat, Mister President, please." She tightens the robe around her, wanting to be a bit more modest in, you know. Such distinguished company. "I have some whiskey, if you like? I had some tequilla but…" her voice trails off as she dissapears into the kitchen. "Well, whiskey's about all I've got unless you want a martini," It hasn't even crossed Tracy's mind that the President might be here in something less than official capacity, and what's she going to do - call the cops to have the U.S. President arrested? She returns with a whiskey on the rocks, looking a bit more somber. "I can't imagine the President of the United States makes housecalls very often."

Forgive him, he's suspicious, and doesn't step much further than when he'd inched from the doorway the first time. When she returns with the whiskey, however, Nathan takes a step to accept it, watching her face. There would probably be more secret service, if this was in any way official. The sun would likely be out.

He would have knocked. On the door. Or, failing all of those, he might have thought to shave.

At this distance, there's more detail, details distance and shadows help to hide. He might have smelled more like the alcohol he's been given, or of whatever scents cling to him via Staten Island - but in actual fact, the scent of the weather clings to him, of rain and wind, as if a storm had stepped into her living room. "No, the President doesn't," Nathan states, and knocks back a decent mouthful of coarse alcohol. "I didn't know who else to talk to, but I need your help."

And, of course, Tracy has a glass for herself. She looks to his hand while she offers the glass over, then up to his face, for the first time really. That's more than a five o'clock shadow. And her door was locked - she always locks it, just to provide annoyance for those that like to break their way in. "This isn't an official visit, is it," she guesses, no inflection at the end of her words. How did you get in, why haven't you shaved, these are all other questions that spring to mind, but she doesn't bring them up. No, she keeps them tucked away inside. You learn more by letting people talk at their own pace than by firing questions. She's no cop.

Conversations with politicians should be poker games, and Tracy isn't showing her hand. That's fine with Nathan, he's focused on his own cards. "It's about as official as I can get," he says, his voice all gravel and quietness. "You're— not gonna believe me. I know. I wouldn't. But you're gonna have to try. But I am who you think I am."

He takes a breath. Having rehearsed some of this already, during the time he's taken to spy, to figure things out. He gestures a little with the heavy drinking glass, but keeps brown eyes on her icier blue. "The guy who would come knocking with an entourage of suits and a scheduled appointment? The President? He's— he's not who he says he is. He's not me. I haven't stepped foot in the Oval Office since early May."

There's a pause, and Nathan nods his head towards her. "Drink up." It's a suggestion.

He doesn't have to tell her twice. She throws back her drink rather quickly, taking a moment to let the alcohol smooth over her tastebuds and throat, clenching her eyes and shaking her head. "Mr. President, with all due respect, you've held addresses in the oval office since May." Is he going crazy? How on earth is she going to keep this quiet? Should she keep it quiet? "They've been all over television." Yes, she can prove to him that he's been there. At least, someone she's been thinking was him. Really, it doesn't make any sense.

A wider smile breaks across Nathan's face at her words, and he nods. Mmhmm. You are correct, Miss Strauss. "Someone has been holding addresses in the Oval Office since May," he says. "I've been locked in a basement in Brooklyn. Got out— several days ago," he admits. Hiding is easy to do. He'd considered it. He could go anywhere in the world. He did, for a little while.

But he's here now. "He's with my wife, my kids. He knows my job. I'm afraid of what will happen if I just waltz back in there. But you'll see, this will all make sense. As soon as I can— " His eyes shut for a moment, the crow-feet lines at the corners of his eyes deepening a little. Not as deep as the man playing President, but there.

"That's where you come in."

If Tracy were most other women, she might be babbling right now, trying to wrap her head around this. But instead? She just tries to rationalize. She dissapears into the kitchen, returning with the bottle. "Would you like to sit?" She asks, gesturing to the sofa. "I think I'd really like to sit." Because, no matter what the truth is to this matter, her days, her job, and her boss just got a lot more complicated.

His gaze swivels over to her furniture, and he lets out a breath he didn't realise he'd been holding onto, a grip of air at the top of his lungs that eases out, alcoholic and thin. At least— at least it's out of the way. He's shown her his hand, though if there are any hidden aces—

They remain to be so. He moves further into the room, setting his glass down on the coffee table before settling into the corner of the couch. "The political climate could be better," Nathan states, wryly. "Couldn't go to a politician, not right now. I'd like to deal with the politics when I'm able. Homeland Security— no guarantee they wouldn't listen to him when he, inevitably, orders my being placed in the deepest, darkest hole he could find."

A glance, and he adds with a slight shrug, "That's what I would do. Besides, he'll know, by now. He'll have alerted someone, and I don't want to walk into a trap." He reaches, and nudges his glass towards her for a refill. "So I need to set up my own."

Both glasses are refilled, and Tracy takes another swig of her own - though, admitadly, less smaller than her first one. She sets the glass down with a soft 'chink' sound on the glass of the coffeetable, folding her hands in her lap as she takes a moment, just to think. "So the security of the most powerful office in the world has been compramised - for months. FRONTLINE, the Nakamura revelation, everything that's come to be from then until now, evernthing since you stepped into office, your entire presidency…" Tracy glances away, tongue darting over her lower lip as the wheels of her brain spin furiously about. "How? An Evolved? Someone copied you?"

"They're trying to change the world," Nathan says, almost too solemn, and if he was exaggerating it might seem ridiculous. But he isn't. That's the hard part. He nurses his glass of whiskey with his fingers spidered across the rim, partially melted shards of ice dancing on the surface. This is where the lie comes in, as he states, "I don't know how they did it, specifically, apart from that they had to use some kind of ability. I was in New York to— meet some family. I think I was set up. Three people appear, kill the security nearby, and one— looks exactly like me. Took my wedding ring, my watch. My wallet."

A nip of whiskey is knocked back. Should slow down. Doesn't want to. Just like old times. "They copied me exactly. I know this is a lot to drop into your lap— if he even gets a clue that you know… you need to protect yourself. And I'll do what I can to help."

"I'm safer than you think, Mr. President. It's a miracle you got in here at all - there's two DHS agents supposed to be following me wherever I go. That's what I'm told, anyway. Some part of me doubts it because I've never seen them, but if I do see them I swore I'd make sure they never followed me again. I don't like the feeling of people watching me like that." She listens to his lie, not knowing it to be such, hell really not expecting it to be such. But she has to trust a Nathan Petrelli. Which one? She stares down at her own glass, takes a sip, and stares down at it again. "Mr. President, I hope you don't take this the wrong way. Do you remember where we were when you first offered me this job?" If he knows the answer, he must be Nathan Petrelli. While she awaits his answer, she tops off both glasses, watching him with her icy blue eyes for hints of distress at arriving at his answer.

Not so much distress, just thought. Brown eyes go a little glassy as he rifles back through his memory, draws up his answer, and after a moment, he offers it. "I met you at that charity cocktail," Nathan says. No need to say why she in particular caught his eye, initially. "Mid-January. I offered you a place on my staff by the end of the month. That restaurant at the Marion." He can't actually remember if he'd ordered Chilean sea bass or the wild salmon, so he doesn't try to brag with details he doesn't quite recall, as impressive as it might be.

And she smiles, perhaps more of an honest smile than he's used to seeing out of her. "Alright," she says, letting the smile drop and looking toward her glass of liquor again. It takes her a few minutes to compose her words, one hand reaching up to rub her forehead while she tries to even consider her next move. "The office of the Presidency being usurped by an evolved would strike up all new riots all across the country, and a complete loss in the faith of the government. The kind of loss in faith that hasn't been seen since the civil war." She looks at him a moment, studying his features. "But I think you're well aware of that, or you wouldn't be on my sofa at midnight."

The lines at his mouth deepen in a rueful smile, and Nathan nods once. "As tempting as it would be to just waltz back in and take back what's mine, and maybe it would even work, I can't— it has to be more surgical. Personal. I need to handle it on my own, make like this never happened."

A shudder of a wry chuckle sounds from the back of his throat. "You have any idea how hard it is to get near the President without the world watching? I need— an idea of what he's going, what he's doing. Any time I think about it, it reads like suicide."

That's the bitch in knowing what it is to be President. Knowing exactly how many ways you can get shot for making a mistake. "But he trusts you," he says, looking towards her. "If he's copied me— he trusts you."

"You've been President before, you certainly understand how important it is to trust your Communications people." She finishes her drink and sets it down, not reaching for another one at the moment. But she still remains up straight, watching him with a curiousness, a worry, and a determination. "If he's President now, he'll certainly understand that exact same need, what with the vote so upcoming." Her fingers slide along the moist rim of the glass, then her crystal eyes turn up to her boss. Her real boss. "What do you need me to do?"

A hesitation, gaze dipping down for a moment before Nathan is knocking back the rest of his drink, and rather than go for a refill, he gets to his feet. As unkempt as he is— he isn't dirty, and even his footprints haven't left marks on the pristine carpet.

Then again, he hasn't done a hell of a lot of walking. "Keep yourself safe. And silent. I need to be able to contact you without your DHS agents following your tail. A private number, an email. I can find you anywhere."

Never liking to be one-upped, or to be talked down to, Tracy stands as well, pushing easily to her feet and leaving her empty glass behind. She's got a little bit of a relaxed buzz going, but that's good, since it's what's keeping her from getting too wound up over this right now. "Parkman knows better than to have my phones and emails tagged, I'd feed him his own testicles for it," And he is, in fact, well aware of that. "But the other President…" She pauses, thinking a moment. "I'll leave a number under my doormat tomorrow, a throwaway number."

Two glasses of whiskey has Nathan feeling a little better about life, too. Even if he doesn't have his back yet. It's enough to cast a small, tired smile her way. "Deal," he says. He doesn't promise that there'll be some similar mode of contact given in return, just nods to her. Now to use the door. And hope that when he's walked out of it— the world won't fall apart some more.

"I'll talk to you soon. Thanks— " A wandering gaze towards the table, and he finishes with, "for the drinks." And as if it were the way he came, Nathan starts with a brisk pace towards the front door, a hand smoothing his jacket down as he goes.

Of course she's going to walk him to the door - he's the President. If he gets that far. Hell, she's got death threats, she's got tails on her to track some dangerous fugative, she's keeping a secret from TWO presidents that their same father is alive, all while dealing with the normal day-to-day job of living life. Tracy is perfectly ready, willing, and able to relax. So as he turns to go toward the door? She raises one well-manicured hand to his face instead, hoping that light gesture will be enough to keep him there and still long enough for her to kiss him.

It's a shock, at first. Not becasue it's Tracy Strauss or anything really about context, but the soft kiss— warm, pleasant— is a contrast to basically the awful past month he's experienced. Caught stunned and still, Nathan freezes up— not like that— and opens his eyes to look at her when it crawls to an end.

A little too soon. He remembers Niki Sanders. Champagne is less serious business than shared whiskey, and other differences. Tracy's eyes aren't as sad. He remembers that much. His hands, unusually rough for a politician, come up to cup her jaw and guide her back into another kiss, and another one after that if all things go smoothly. It's about time something should.

No one but Nathan and his God know that he's silently comparing Niki and Tracy in his mind. Probably for the best, all things considered.

But Tracy doesn't know that. What she knows is that she kissed Nathan Petrelli, the married President of the United States. And then he kissed back. And quite frankly, it's a rush. Not just because he's President, either. They're like-minded people. But being President certainly didn't hurt his odds. When the second kiss breaks, Tracy lifts a hand to his on her cheek, curling her own soft hands around his rough ones. She moves to tangle their fingers and take a few steps back to lead him back into the main apartment rooms.

It's not the smartest move— but smart moves have cost him days of hiding, too. Whiskey is warm in his system and Tracy's hands are too, his palm against her's and fingers laced together. He's married, and it kills him, make no mistake, to see that thing courting her, playing husband, and worse still.

And this won't be the first time, Nathan knows, that Heidi would feel a similar way should she be a fly on the wall. He doesn't know all he should, and he's just glad Tracy knows even less. His hand reaches out to snag the room's door shut, and it's not really the hour of night for regret.

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