Running The Country


f_nathan_icon.gif tracy_icon.gif

Scene Title Running The Country
Synopsis Nathan meets with his Director of Communications in New York City to discuss what Hiro Nakamura and FRONTLINE have in common.
Date May 15, 2009

Financial District

It's a cool night in New York City. The sound of the traffic of the Financial District drifts up from street level, all the way towards the open rooftop. The blaring of horns and a distant siren. Some things never change, even if, from this height, it's not impossible to see the crater carved into the city more than two years ago. It can be hard to move on from such tragedies when the crippling reminders remain in place in your own back yard.

Tracy Strauss is not alone on the rooftop, the helipad a swatch of darker material in the center of the space, with its paint to mark it as a target. No, there are men in suits, too, there usually are, sunglasses keeping their eyes anonymous and a wire in their ear, their hands behind their back. They dot the area, and only spare a glance towards the helicopter chopping its way through the sky - they have more important things to watch for. The President is an expected variable, but snipers in windows, signs of Evolved presence, the ever-relevant threat of an attack - these invisible things take up their attention.

The roar of the motor will be followed by the roar of wind as it beats out from the spinning rotors, its rounded, blunt nose rearing a little as begins to touch down in its hover. For a man who can fly, or should be able to, this is certainly an unnecessary entrance. But then again, that's what secrets are for. And everyone has one, whether they know it or not. Nathan has the unfortunate task of knowing his secrets.

For Tracy Strauss, the crater off in the distance is an expected variable. The possibility of cameras or peeping toms with high powered lenses are expected variables. The tie Mrs. Petrelli picked out for her husband is an expected variable. Nathan Petrelli is the constant that makes the rest of it matter at all. Chances are, no one's thinking about those things as much as Tracy is right now.

Anyone would be hard-pressed to prove her mind is working a mile-a-minute right now. Even in the mini-tornado created by the approaching chopper, her power-hair-ponytail remains intact. Her skirted suite - red with a strand of pearls - gives a little bit in each direction, but never seem to collect the dust of the city or appear disheveled. No, this is a well-put-together woman, right down to the pearly white smile she wears. It's not an open, readable smile: it's a smile that seems to think she's got something to chuckle about in the back of her mind. But nobody really knows what that chuckle-worthy thing is.

She waits, chest slightly puffed out, hands clasped in front of her, for the chopper to land and for Nathan Petrelli to step forward, for the conversation to begin, and for her to remind him exactly why (she thinks) he hired her - because she's the best.

The shifting wind the helicopter creates does little to ruffle Nathan Petrelli either. Once a pilot, always a pilot, and his tie remains in place with a silver tie clip and a hand to his chest as he steps down onto the building, followed by the small entourage of security that seems as a part of him as his shadow at such times. The lights that cast shadows on the rooftop glares off the shining body of the helicopter as its engines are killed by the time the President is making his authoritative way across the rooftop, a squinted glance around the area before his gaze settled on Tracy.

Nothing to be nervous about. Nothing at all. He studies her face as he nears, a moment dispersed when he awards her with an easy smile. It seems to be a staple of all-American politicians to have a perfect white set of teeth to smile with. "Ms. Strauss," he greets, a hand out in gesture for her to take. "Thanks for coming out here, I know it's short notice." With the President, it simultaneously is and never is short notice, but it pays to be polite and pretend your staff have better things to do that jump at the snap of your fingers.

It's hard to say if there's anything different about him. His wife has teased him for looking about thirty-five ever since he was eighteen and staying that way. But the lines in his face are deeper, his voice wearier. Of course, he could just be tired, his hair that same solid colour of dark brown and posture erect and proud.

Tracy has always had a weak spot for politicians, it's anyone's guess as to why. But those carbon-copy-perfectly-white smiles send chills down her every time. None the less, it's a feeling she's well used to, and she takes no concious notice of it anymore.

"Mister President," she greets, giving him a shake of her own hand. "Always happy to have you here. If you'd come this way, we can get out of the wind." She gestures with one hand toward the entrance into the building several feet off. That same smile, beautiful in it's own right, is still - as always - somewhat cold, like there's some secret, amusing thought in the back of her mind. Then again, maybe that's just how she smiles. But it only takes another breath for Tracy to get right down to business. The President's ear is a limited commodity, and any dead air there is more costly than pumping out pure crude onto a sandy beach. In Tracy's world, at least.

"I wanted to let you know that I've been discussing the possibility of Mayor Bianco coming out to verbalize his support for the Frontline Act at an upcoming announcement pertaining to the recent donation to the Midtown Reclamation Project. While I haven't yet been able to speak to the Mayor directly due to the recent attack on his son, his office has been giving very positive responses to the idea."

They're walking with all the confidence of powerful people within a world where power has become something of a question mark. What it means, what it doesn't mean. In the end, it always comes down to the mechanics of politics.

And Nathan can only hope it stays that way. His hands return to the pockets of his jacket as they head indoors, and the stairwell is nothing impressive, Tracy's voice echoing off the plain hallway walls as they descend down, into the plusher interior of what could be describe as a decadent office building. Nathan opens the door for her once they reach corridors that have carpeting, and when he does choose to look at her, it's with interest as to what she's saying and some other fascination.

"That would be good for him. FRONTLINE will be sooner than we all anticipated, and I'm sure he'll want to be on board with it as soon as possible too," Nathan states, before his gaze wanders down the hallway in vague uncertainty.

According to Tracy, the last time he was here harks back to a couple of months ago. For Nathan, it's something more like several years, and his step slows a little in order to follow rather than lead the way to her office. "I also had a certain announcement I'll be making soon that I wanted to discuss with you," he says, glossing over the near invisible error by pushing the conversation ahead. "Something— close to home."

Tracy's heels click-click-click in quick succession down the stairs, and across the padded carpet with muffled sounds - like gunshots through goose down. Her habit of walking quickly seems to cover Nathan's error rather well: when she steps through the door he holds for her, it's like the change of a Derby Horse's lead foot on the turn - seamless but necessary. She ploughs ahead.

"It does work out in our favor - although his son has had a few unfavorable mentions in the press these past few months, he's otherwise an Evolved without any distinct ties to violence or extremism. Also, a news organization here has recently released the name of a Tier-0 Evolved after she was caught on-camera healing some men after an attack in Central Park. I intend to try and speak with her - she's only made one press appearance so far, and the media is more or less obligated to run this girl if she even breathes funny. Her statement - along with a few others, a war veteran or an Evolved New Yorker - might go a long way to increasing public support for FRONTLINE."

Tracy is elated. She's working at full steam, and there's only one way to describe it - fun. Of course, she doesn't tell the President everyting - like how the Evolved New Yorker would be one that suffered some sort of loss in the Sylar-explosion, or that the war veteran would have to be human. These are things a President need not concern himself with. She's simply here to pursue Nathan Petrelli's agenda in New York.

Once in the office, she remains standing with that smile of hers - which has gotten a little broader at the promise of a new announcement. "I'm all ears." She assures her boss, waiting patiently - and maybe checking out his butt. When he's not looking!

Inside, Nathan doesn't go to sit down, favouring heading for the window instead, mostly to stand just beside it rather than show her his back, not quite leaning against the edge as he peers out of the glass at the city, but his attention inevitably steers back to Tracy. It's not an uncomfortable silence, exactly, just a break within Tracy's rapid fire professionalism comes to a halt to listen. All expensive fabric and immaculate hair and neatness, and the woman before her, the one who Nathan knew what seems now to be a very long time ago, more of a shadow of a dream.

It's fortunate she's good at her job. Nathan offers a quick smile, turning back to her completely and speaking in quiet tones, the gravel in his voice more evident with the lower volume. "We've received new information about the 2006 explosion. It's something the public has a right to know and I intend to keep them informed."

A pause, and there's absolutely no guilt in his voice when he says, "A man named Hiro Nakamura was a direct accomplice of Sylar's in the conspiracy to destroy New York City. I want him known for what he is - an incredibly dangerous Evolved that we're doing all we can to hunt down." He paces once, moving in a wandering line around the periphery of the office. "Which is why it's imperative to get FRONTLINE off the ground, with a man like this still at large."

Hiro Nakamura. The name means nothing to her. But such information is grave, and as such, Tracy appears grave about it. She doesn't cross her arms, but instead walks slowly towards the President. Just a step or two, each foot directly in front of the other one, giving her that natural feminine sashay, even in slow steps.

"There's two ways to go about this, Mr. President." She says, speaking openly - as she usually does. "A declaration from Capitol Hill, a manhunt, and the increased National pressure to pass FRONTLINE as quickly as possible for nationwide safety reasons. Or, a direct statement to the people of New York, which will attract worldwide sympathy and increase support for FRONTLINE based on both a defensive mentality and a compassionate one." The 'Not Us' scenario and the 'Never Again' scenario.

"Although I would strongly dissuade you or the Vice President from giving the initial statements yourselves. The Office of the President has, in the past, suffered from a one man vs. one man situation. Particularly when we don't know exactly what the response will be. It can be predicted, but it isn't certain. A day or two after the initial announcement may be the best time for an Executive statement on FRONTLINE." As she speaks, she doesn't walk about the room. She doesn't brainstorm. The words flow from her easily, as if she'd pre-prepared for just such an announcement - although that is quite impossible.

He listens. Nathan has always been good at listening to his advisors, allowing decisions and machinations to be made slightly outside of his range, just past his fingertips, but now more than ever. He's still a little rusty, especially when he has to weigh Edward's habit of predicting the unlikely and Tracy's professional evaluation of what is.

"Everrett Hicks might be the man for the job," Nathan says, after a moment of thought, referring to the man himself, head of Homeland Security. Nathan may be a time traveling imposter, but he also wants to do his job well - which means listening to recommendations. "A direct address to New York City, god knows HomeSec spends enough of their time here. I'll make my announcement regarding FRONTLINE from Washington - might lend his words more strength that way."

Good, good. It's easier to betray someone when you get another mouthpiece to do it for you, come to that. Nathan finds himself unconsciously smoothing out his tie, though it doesn't need it. "Can I trust you to correspond with Hicks and get that rolling as soon as possible?"

Tracy takes a moment, just a brief one, to think about the President's words. Then she nods. "I know him by reputation only." With an easy motion, she draws back her arm, bringing it up - the sleeve pulls back naturally, revealing a finely crafted, expensive watch. "It's morning." She notes, as if the fact that the clock hit the AM meant that everyone should either be crashing from their martini stupor or waking up to get to work. No martinis are in sight at this point in time.

"I'll get in touch with him as soon as we're done here, arrange a breakfast meeting." Coming at the herald of the President usually means that whomever you might be meeting will have no trouble in arranging their schedules around your wants and needs. The natural connection for all the talking-heads will be FRONTLINE - it'll be the most promising exposure for the act. "In the meantime I'll contact a few support groups in the area - some appropriately placed publicity might be in order to help soothe the anti-Evolved sentiments reguarding the act." Does Tracy sleep? Is she a caffine-junkie? Is she a cyborg? Any of these may be true, but no matter which one it is - she'll get the job done.

She's something else, that's for sure, and despite himself, amusement writes itself in the lines of Nathan's face at the hint of a smile that's more genuine than polite. "Then I should probably let you get to work and I'll go back to running the country," he says, voice dry along with a lift of his eyebrows. There's compliment in tone if not in his literal words. He doesn't offer another handshake, just a nod as he takes a few steps to move around her.

"He'll have his hands on the information regarding Nakamura by the time you meet with him, so all you have to do is smooth the way in how he handles it," Nathan says as his hand reaches out to twist the door handle. "You have my schedule coordinator's number - I'd like to hear it from you how the meeting went." A glance when he adds, "Tell Hicks 'hi'."

Tracy follows Nathan Petrelli with her eyes, smiling to him with a, oh hell, she'll admit it, proud look. Over the shoulder too, so probably just a touch sultry. "One 'hi'. Understood." She turns to face him, knowing she has a lot of work to do. But dead air around a President's ear? Never.

"And I'll absolutely keep you updated. Have a good night, Mister President." And, of course, it'll be a long night for Tracy Strauss. But then again, that's what she signed up for when she spent two years chasing after a spot on Nathan Petrelli's staff. Hell, that's what she wanted. And what Tracy Strauss wants, she tends to get.

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