Ice And Honesty


f_nathan_icon.gif tracy_icon.gif

Scene Title Ice and Honesty
Synopsis Two things relationships can be forged in. The Nathan of the future shows off his cards, and Tracy works with the hand dealt to her.
Date July 10, 2009

Tracy's Apartment

Tracy went out for drinks! Things are becoming a little easier. Her list of allies is growing longer, she's doing work again - most of it is under the table these days. Speaking of which, she has to call Arhtur Petrelli. So far, Nathan doesn't seem to know about him. Neither Nathan does. She needs to keep it that way.

Just back from the Orchid only a few minutes before, Tracy is dressed in a simple cocktail dress, her hair once up is now down. She is barefoot, and holding a glass of something or other - maybe even water - as she watches the news. Maybe she'll rent a movie. Something sappy. She's still a single woman, after all. Sort of.

A knock at the door seems to draw her attention. Curious as to who that could be - most of her visitors simply barge in, sneak in, fly in or phase in - she swings her feet down from the coffee table, walking toward the door and checking through the peep hole.

The slightly warped visage of a man comes into view, between slightly crushed eyelashes and the stranger, rounded image that the peep hole allows. A suit, a dash of red silk for a tie, almost too dark hair combed meticulously into place as if it's never even known what it's like to be windswept. He's a few steps back from the door, hands clasped behind his back, his profile coming into shape as he glances down the hallway. Flanked on either side, there are shadows - men employed to be so, anyway.

The President's come calling. The one by title, anyway.

Tracy feels her tummy do a loop. She steps back, fixing her hair, taking a breath. Brief pause is needed - this President would call her into the office. This president would leave her an email. This President would not be at her door at night under any circumstances. That pause is needed, oh yes, needed for Tracy to lift her hand up into view, a few tendrils of steam rising up as she activates the cold in her hand, chilling the air around her palm. It just lasts a moment, and then it fades, and her hand is lowered - reaching for the door knob, which does not freeze. Instead it simply turns, unlocks, and opens, showing her smile, political and white.

"Mr. President. What an unexpected surprise."

His gaze swerves back to meet her eyes as soon as the door opens, a faint smile writing on his face. "Under any other circumstance, I would have called ahead," Nathan states, apology in his tone, if chilled around the edges. His hands come around from behind his back, and he fixes his cuffs a little, almost absently pushing perfectly white sleeves back into place beneath the immaculate fabric of his near-black suit jacket. Every inch the politician, but perhaps by now— when one is looking for it— it becomes faintly more obvious - the crows feet lines at his eyes are deeper, the subtle signs of age deeper engraved into his face.

No grey at all, however, that much taken care of. "Can I come in? I don't expect to take up much of your time," Nathan says, a hand up to indicate to his security to wait here, taking a step forward before Tracy can truly summon up a response.

Tracy does notice. Every line of difference, every inch of him that might not be as she remembers the other being. She wants to memorize every flaw, every wrinkle - in case there comes a time when she'll need to know the difference. "Who would ever say no to such a lovely home visit?" She asks, rhetorically, stepping back with a flourish of her hand to invite him in. "I'm sorry if the place is a bit messy." Truly it's not. "I haven't had time to pick up." She has a maid.

"Absolutely fine," Nathan dismisses, glancing around although not to inspect the neatness of her home, but to detect what had already been confirmed - she's alone. He doesn't take a seat, simply invites himself inside, leaving behind the members of security who move to simply flank the door, while he heads for the window. A hand moves, parting the curtains a little, letting in only a slice of darkness.

A signal, if you know the difference between simply checking out the view, but nothing happens, letting the curtain fall back into place as he turns back to look at her. "I'm starting to think you're too good for your job," Nathan begins, hands place into the pockets of his jacket, casual in posture, stance. "That you're getting bored enough to get in over your head. What do you think you're doing, Tracy?"

What she's doing is getting butterflies, wrapped up all in her stomach. Knots and butterflies, that's what she feels. "I'm afraid I don't quite follow what you mean, Mr. President. If you're talking about the FRONTLINE applications then they are on-schedule as far as my understanding goes, and we'll have another few press releases drafted up to keep the public up to speed. We're also opening talks with the Secretary of State for some new diplomatic outreach programs for the Evolved - very exciting programs that I'm sure you'll enjoy, once they're drafted up properly." She does motion for him to sit if he'd like, even if he doesn't, stepping into the living room fully - hopefully out of view of the security men. "But don't let me be a bad hostess, Mr. President. May I get you anything?"

"If I wanted to talk to you about FRONTLINE, press releases and charity, then we'd be standing in your office," Nathan states, voice flat, unimpressed. The smile is gone, but there's no overt projecting of any other sort of emotion. He seems tired, cold from the inside out. Resigned.

Nathan opens his jacket to extract something from his inner pocket - a small fan of photographs, not overly large, stepping forward and letting them spill onto the coffee table. "If we'd like to continue to talk like we know less than we do, then sure, a single malt whisky on the rocks would be fantastic." Black and white, wildly grainy, blurry, but unquestionable. Tracy Strauss with a gun pointed at her, her arm clasped by someone who looks exactly like the man currently watching her, save for missing a haircut and several days of shaving.

She got a glance of it. Well, shit. She takes the opportunity he gives her, turning to walk into the kitchen and pour him a glass as he requested, shaking out her hands every few seconds. She's nervous, she has to keep the ice under control. It's the one thing about her that he doesn't know. It's the one thing she has that might keep her alive.

When she returns, her own smile is gone, and she's carrying two glasses. She needs one too. For now, the ice is under control, as she offers him his. "You have pictures." she says, blatently, clearly waiting for him to go on.

"A thousand words each," Nathan agrees, taking the glass from her, along with a long sip once its in his possession. He doesn't need to look at the display he's set down on her table - he's analysed it himself, over and over. For now, he allows a pause to settle, before continuing, conversational. "You know, even after my press conference in 2007, I still receive criticism for it. For lifting the veil that's been in place for god knows how long before that. People like ignorance, but the world was changing too fast. I knew we all had to be prepared to deal with it."

The ice clinks against the side of the glass as he swirls the liquid, once, a fidgeting and thoughtful movement. "When your enemies can take out a whole city with just a thought, or they can turn invisible, change their faces, come at you from all sides. Can you imagine what it would be like today if the world still didn't know?

"Now. You're smart, and you're gonna have to fill in some blanks. I want to know what he told you, what you told him. I want to know why you didn't immediately alert my office that this had happened. We've been chasing this man for— gee, months now." It's her turn to be pinned under an expectant look, waiting for her to go on.

And yet she's relaxed. At ease. Cool. "With all due respect, Mr. President, I wouldn't take this line of questioning." she says, giving him suggestions, as she has always done. Easily she sips her drink, once more stepping out of view of the men by the door. But she keeps her face to the President. Always.

"The way I see it, I have two choices for President. Not the voters, not the Supreme Court. Me. There's you, the one already in power…" she gestures easily. "And then there's the one who seems to want to find his niche, his corner in the world. Perhaps not as ambitious as you, but an option none the less. He won't remove me, because I'm his only link to society. You won't remove me because I'm the easiest way to track him. So it all really comes down to which one of you is going to do the best for me?" It's a dangerous game Tracy's playing, she knows. But she's got a bad hand. She has to play it very well.

Nathan's back stiffen, straightens, his shoulders a rigid horizon. Irritation, defense, even insult, sure— but interest, too, as if a new game were being laid out for him. "You want to put the leadership of the country in your own two hands," he observes, an eyebrow raising. "That's quite the responsibility, Ms. Strauss. Let's see, now."

He leans to pick up one of the photographs, an image of she and his younger counterpart practically in an embrace. Preparing for launch. Nathan observes it, detached, as he speaks. "You'd have a grateful man in power. Maybe even wrapped around your finger, considering what you'd do for him. He owes you his life, career, as well as a secret. Not as many secrets as I might have, but secrets nonetheless. For all intents and purposes, he'd be all yours."

The photograph is offered to her, brown eyes chilly. "He also goes to jail in a couple of years. I won't say why, you have enough aces up your sleeve, but he'll be blindsided so hard and so fast that he won't even see what's ahead of him. And he will take down everyone he can in the process." His voice is low, barely above a whisper. "I'm here to do better what he couldn't."

"Ah, you. Let's talk about you." She settles into a chair, taking a sip of her drink and crossing her legs - not only increasing her attractiveness, but helping to keep her looking calm, even when she's anything but. There's no planned speech, no teleprompter. She doesn't like playing it this much by ear.

"I don't expect you to tell me how you know the future…" she says, skeptically. "But I do want to know about you. If you can give me more than he can, then we might have to talk seriously. But I'm still enough of a patriot to want to vet both of my options fully. So tell me about you. Who are you, how are you doing this?"

Static silence fills the room, tries to freeze it in place, although he breaks that much by taking another long, lingering sip of whisky. Traditionally, the President is wired beneath his clothing - audio surveillance to make sure he's not being killed. Traditionally, they also don't show up at the homes of their employees. Things have become a little untraditional as of late. He glances towards the door, closed against the hallway where secret service continues to guard just outside, ready to kick things in as necessary.

"Well we do encourage people to know their facts before casting a vote," Nathan says, wryly, although he doesn't sit down, continues to stand in his casual posture in the middle of her living room. "Let me put it this way. I know how the next decade is going to go, and I'm here to protect my own administration. Preserve everything I've worked for and dodge the bullets that are heading my way. Including this man who has apparently convinced you he's even remotely fit for office.

"This is a case of David and Goliath only without the stupid luck. I don't think I need to convince you of that much. Tell me where he is, and this will all go away, and you will have a brilliant and shining career, Tracy. As opposed to, say, under arrest."

Tracy just continues to smile. It's hard, it's very difficult. "You don't want me arrested, because I know fully well that you aren't the man elected into office, and I can prove it. Let's stop being ignorant with what we've got in front of us." She finishes her drink, standing and setting the glass aside. If she gets out of this alive and not in prison, she's going to be needing a lot more of that. "I don't know where he is, I couldn't tell you that. I might be able to find out, for the proper assurances where this career of mine is concerned." She turns to face him, arms folded neatly over her bust.

"I always thought First Lady had a nice sound to it."

The catch. What she knows, versus what he's willing to do to silence her. There isn't a lot of steel in the way he watches her, however, just feline calculation and thought. The last of the whiskey is knocked back not long ago here, the empty glass turned around in his hand, and he lets out a breath of laughter at that comment. "Heidi certainly thinks so," Nathan states, flatly. "I don't think I need to paint a picture of how generous the United States government can be for anyone willing to assist them in their upper most priority tasks. There will be nothing you can't do, no where you can't go."

He shrugs once, loose. "I also don't have to remind you that once this man is dead or silent, you won't have a leg to stand on, and let me assure you, your assistance or not, his time is running out. Now. Either you can be left in the dust for me to do with you anything I want," and despite his prior pointing out of his wife, Nathan allows his gaze to roam up and down over here, "or you can be an instrumental part of this investigation."

"She's not your wife, she's Nathan Petrelli's wife." Push it. Tracy knows she has to push the envelope. As much as she'd like to wash her hands of the whole business, ameatures - when they're discovered - admit that they are lying. Professionals just play their roles that much harder.

"And I'm sure she'd prefer a clean, neat divorce as opposed to sleeping next to a stranger every night, quite literally. I can get him for you." She stalks a bit closer, perhaps using her curves in that slinky dress a bit to her advantage. "I can give you his home address and his jogging schedule. I can make him very easy for you to make dissapear. But when you're good at something, Mr. President, you don't do it for free. While I do work for you, consider this freelance. It's a bit…outside of my job description. Besides," she looks up at him with her beautiful blue eyes. "Aren't all relationships forged on honesty?"

It's a push, and a twist to an artfully placed knife. Nathan's smile freezes, somewhat, fades in its own time as he lets his gaze swivel away from her, at this notion that he's a stranger to his family. And yet there is no snarl of defense, no argument, even a quiet one, accepting the dart where it's thrown in silent suffering. Fine. The look he returns back to her is cold as if to freeze over the injury, preserve it, pause it.

"Then this is between us," he agrees, and sincerity will have to be decided upon herself, because Nathan gives nothing away. "And when it's all said and done, it stays there too. We aren't romantics, Tracy. We do what's best for our country. For ourselves."

He takes a sauntering step forward, as well, and a cellphone is extracted from his pocket, indicated with a slight gesture. "As for honesty, you show me yours and I'll show you mine. Secrets, that is. Let me make the call, have you tell DHS exactly what you know about this man, set it up so we can make it go away… and I'll make sure you know everything you want to know." A beat, before he assures, "The only trap, here, is the one you'll be setting for yourself if you make the wrong decision."

But still it's not that easy. She's aware she's struck a nerve, aware that something's amiss. He's too attached to Nathan's family, Nathan's persona. And he keeps talking about the future … already she knows who she's going to have to talk this over with. "I said I can give the information to you, but I didn't say when. I wasn't lying when I said I don't know where he is." She shakes her head at his cell phone. "Give me a few days and I'll have what you want." She longs to say more, about his family and this life. But she won't. She's pressed enough information out of him for now.

There's a tense pause, before Nathan concedes. Finally, a pawn is struck off the board, a sacrifice made and territory gained, and the device is tucked away once more. "Two days," he states, flatly. "You have forty-eight hours to get back in touch before the walls begin to close in. On all of us." The stolen wedding on his finger clinks against the whisky glass as he moves to set it down, calmly collect up the photographs to tuck them away.

"Thanks for the drink." Inadvertently, not far off exactly what his younger counterpart had stated, but there is a certain concrete quality to his words that were missing from the first sentiment. The President-by-title is moving with authoritative swiftness towards the door in the next moment.

"My door is always open to you, Mr. President." And this time, Tracy has absolutely no desire to chase after the man for a kiss. No, the younger Nathan will suit her just fine, and this one appears to be the sort that…might not appreciate such a gesture. She lets him go, remains standing in the middle of the room, reserving her internal turmoil. Outside, she's stoic. Inside, she's screaming.

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