Voluntary Permission


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Scene Title Voluntary Permission
Synopsis Audrey brings Tracy into the office to discuss the piece of Argentinean robotics in her possession.
Date September 12, 2010

Department of Homeland Security Facility

Sunday's. God's day, a day of rest. When you are a federal agent though, work is never done and holidays are nearly unheard of. When Parkman gives a directive, you follow through with it and as quickly as possible. Erase her memories he says, fetch that robot he says. As if it's everyday ongoings. For him maybe, but not for Audrey and she had dragged her feet about how exactly she was to go through this. How do you erase someone's memories? Where was this non-functioning robot that Varlane had jibbered on about.

For that matter, why was Varlane still out on the streets!

Sunday was the day she decided to just get it over with. The woman, through either deliberate intent, or accidental, had garnered information that was far above her paygrade and security clearance. Given the parting on their last meet so many weeks ago, she had kept the message civil and polite. Ms. Strauss, this is Agent Hanson, we met in my office some weeks ago and I've had time to rethink your offer. The details had followed, date, time, place for the meeting way up on the twenty second floor of the battery park city buildings.

Few people working, she has advance warning of when the icy blonde will be making her way up thanks to security and is waiting in her office, sitting on the corner of her desk and checking her watch, waiting, waiting, waiting.

She does not have to wait very long.

Tracy Strauss is the type of woman who keeps her appointments. Punctual. A brisk knock at the office door announces her arrival, but Audrey's guest does not wait to be invited inside; instead, she curls long fingers around the handle and gently eases it open, slender and statuesque when she appears in its frame. Opulent pearl accents in her ears and around her throat compliment a silk blouse and a navy skirt with sharp lines worn under a long white jacket that sports two rows of buttons, and serve as a subtle reminder of the disparity between her pay scale and Audrey's.

"Agent Hanson," she greets, something chilly in her tone despite the cordial smile she offers the other woman as she lets herself in and parts rose petal pink lips around a smile too straight and too white to be entirely natural. "I hope you didn't really think that I wouldn't remember you — I'd hate to have to be pretend to be offended."

That's a joke. Probably. She pulls out the chair on the other side of Audrey's desk, adjusts her grip on the clutch purse she carries in her free hand, but does not yet help herself to a seat.

"I can assure you Ms Strauss, you are indeed unforgettable. There's a reason the President has you hired in the position that he does" Tracy as a whole puts Adurey very much to shame in the clothing department, but the Tracy's job keeps her at oft times, elbow deep in the press while adurey is elbow deep in paper, phonecalls and staring at maps.

Capturing Sylar won't hinge on whether Audrey's wearing Malibu pink or passion pink on her own lips or whether her suit is Anne Klien

"Thank you for coming in on a sunday, but you know how it is, a womans work is never done be it painting pretty for the press or hunting down america's number one criminal. Men, they keep us busy don't they. Please, take a seat?" Audrey herself is pushing up and away from the corner of the desk so that she can swing around to her side of it and drop down into the seat in her simplistic unadorned suit, no power pearls of any kind. "How are you today? Did you relay my thanks for the increased budget and manpower? I have to admit, it's come in handy and we've certainly increased our manpower to hunt down Sylar"

"Gratitude is overrated," says Tracy, moving around the chair. "What we want are results, and I hope for both your sake and mine that you get them." She sits down, clutch in her lap and long fingers interlaced. The edge of one manicured thumbnail clicks against the purse's clasp. "I've been well. Busy. Messiah's causing quite the little shitstorm for all of us — don't be surprised if your superiors start siphoning your money into that. After what happened to that hospital on Staten Island and Biodynamics Incorporated— Christ. It's like something straight out of the Middle East, isn't it? Next thing you know they'll be claiming what's left of Midtown as their own personal Mecca."

"I'm sure they won't get so far as to claim that Ms. Strauss" The oh so fake smile, insincere in it's meaning, sincere in the effort she puts into it. "But I didn't call you down to talk about Messiah and the mess they're making for you and your office, quite the contrary, it is about Sylar" Audrey eases down into her chair, leaning forward so she can perch her elbows on the desk, clasp her hands and rest her chin on them.

"Magnes Varlane, sings so sweetly. But you already know that, don't you Ms Strauss. The guy has no concept of security levels and confidentiality agreements and when not to spill state secrets with those who are not cleared to. Like… you"

The corner of Tracy's mouth ticks up, and what little warmth there was in her eyes frosts over. "You know, it's strange," she says. "I tell you that you can only speak with my source if I'm present during the interview, and the first thing you do is go behind my back." She leans back in her seat, shoulders squared, and crosses her long legs at the knee, adopting a deceptively casual posture that no longer matches her switchblade sharp voice. "They have a name for you here at the office.

"Pitbull. Security tells me it's because you won't let go when you've got your teeth in something, but you're really more of a snake, aren't you?"

"We do like to keep it in the canine family there Ms. Strauss. You can go ahead and call me a bitch if you like, I find it a compliment. In fact, I own a pair of beautiful french pitbulls. I find they're delightful companions. You should meet them some day." None of Audrey's warmth - what little there was - evaporates."If I had to be a snake, i'd be a python, if you want to go with that allegory. Because I squeeze till it's dead"

'Funny thing about that, I told you no, I wouldn't take your personal offer. What were the reasons again… oh right, I needed it to be on the record, that's right. However… Like all good little federal agents should, I did through my own investigations track down who you were talking about. That's what we do down here. Follow leads, of which was…" Audrey opens a file, consulting something typed up inside it. "someone in your office, and male"

Audrey casts a look at the blonde across from her. "Not that hard to get a list of who works for you and under you, cross reference it with other files that I have and pin down exactly who it was. Varlane of course. But…"

Always a but. "Given the nature of your position, your employer, we've decided to tread softly with regards to you and Varlane. It wouldn't look too good on the President of the united states of America if someone in his offices was arrested for obstruction of justice? It has a pretty ring to it doesn't it. Or there's witholding evidence in an ongoing federal investigation. That's pretty embarrassing too. By that, I mean the delightful piece of robotics that you were given by Magnes Varlane. That you should have immediately turned over to the appropriate authorities, not to mention not just flat out giving me Varlanes name"

Audrey leans back, cocking her head to the side. "You're being asked, politely, to give us the location of the box, containing the robot, one raptor that is non-functioning, and the key with which you had to open it in conjunction with Varlanes key. Please"

Tracy arches her fine blonde brows at Audrey, saying nothing throughout the duration of her explanation. Her fingers tighten around the clutch, knuckles going white, and if the other woman is looking for it, she may notice dark blue veins standing out against the sudden paleness of her hand and arm. She'll definitely sense the temperature in the room begin to sink, creeping down, down, down until the word please comes out in the form of a fine, silver mist that hangs like a cloud in the air.

She blinks snowflakes with the consistency of white sand from her lashes. Blue eyes hold brown, and a brittle silence follows Audrey's request. This is one of those situations when it would be useful for her to have Parkman in the room; without a telepath, Audrey has no way of knowing what Tracy is thinking, but if the suddenly purple hue of her mouth indicates something, lips pressed thin, it's that she isn't very happy.


"There is no no in this situation Ms Strauss. You have government property. I have been instructed to get it from you, remove it from wherever you have taken it, and take it into custody. I don't like this any much more than you do, but there it is. Varlane broke the law when he smuggled it into the states from another country, and I'm to take it, and have it slagged" Well no, not really, she doesn't know what they're going to do with it, but she figures it will either be studied, or slagged.

"Please don't make this hard, I don't want this to be hard. You and I both work far too hard at our respective jobs to sit here and play beat around the bush till our feet are tired. It's bad enough that he told you information that he was bound by law, not to tell you"

"Or you're going to arrest me for the obstruction of justice?" Tracy asks without an ounce of mirth. "I'm not going to give you anything unless you present me with a warrant, and that should be interesting— trying to explain to a judge what Argentinian robotics have to do with your Sylar case, never mind why the interview you conducted to obtain this information isn't on record, but that's just an assumption on my part. The fact of the matter is that you have no evidence that the case and its contents even exist apart from the rantings of the lunatic responsible for creating an international incident in Japan."

She rises from her seat at Audrey's desk, twin streams of fog bleeding from her nose on the next exhale. "You can't bully me into compliance, Agent. I'm the liason between this city and the President of the United Fucking States of America. Any charges you throw at me will bounce right off like a goddamn super ball.

"Come near Magnes again and I'll make the life expectancy of your career resemble that of the next person on Sylar's list."

"Ms Strauss, you're loosing control of your ability" If the breath coming from Audrey is any indication. "Reel it in, before I'm forced to make you reel it in, because you are in a Homesec facility and they don't take kindly to evolveds loosing control of their ability. Now tell me where it is, or I will make you tell me where it is, and I will not need your voluntary permission to do it. Liason or not. I sure as hell don't like being made to play fetch, and I know, that you're a hard bitch to make heel. Trust me on that." It's spoken loud enough, the first part of the conversation about her ability, that a tall dark skinned someone who's lurking nearby, will hear it.

Audrey shivers in the decreased temperature of the room. "And I don't need to charge you with shit, to bring you in and hold you for seventy two hours. You're not the only one with really high friends. So play ball Strauss. I'm asking you nicely, to play ball. Varlane did"

On cue, Rene fills the doorframe as Tracy is turning to leave, and abruptly the colour returns to the blonde's skin, her cheeks growing rosy and flushed. Rivulets of water trickle down her face, following the line of her jaw, and gather at the corners of her mouth and the bottom of her angular chin. She darts a glance back over her shoulder at Audrey, lips twisted around a toothy snarl with a low hiss accompanying it.

"You think you're better than them," she spits. "The people you hunt. Terrorists and law-breakers. But you're both, and when it gets out that these are the sort of methods you're using to get your justice, they're going to string you up right alongside Messiah."

"I don't think I'm better than you Ms Strauss" A redshirt has gone running, the knowledge that Parkman is still in the building and gone to fetch him physically thanks to the no tech allowed on the floor that Parkman occupies. The temperature of the room starting to re acclimate to how it should be as opposed to how tracy's body and ability dictated it should me.

"I'm not this Company, that you've seen on the news, I asked you to play nice, I asked you to co-operate, and I'm doing my job as per the presidents and my superiors orders." Audrey rises from her chair, letting Rene play the door blocker, but not working to corner the other woman. She's got nails and Audrey doesn't want to be in range.

"You see this wall?" A gesture to the one wall that's covered with Gabriel's face, his victims, places he's been and tips. "This is my job, your job is to do the press for the president, make him look pretty and make sure nothing sticks to him. It wasn't to sit on technology from another country, or enable Varlane and his fantasy's about capturing Sylar and keeping him as a pet. Did you know your assistant was running around the city in a costume and playing vigilante Strauss?"

There's a sharp popping sound, and Tracy's fingers dip into her purse. A few moments later, they come back out again, not with a cell phone, but a canister of pepper spray that fits in her palm, though she makes no move to use it yet. "Did you know that Audrey Hanson hasn't made any progress in her investigation for over four years?" she asks. "What about how her ineptitude makes her personally accountable for the deaths of heiress Wendy Hunter and Police Commissioner Karen Lau? You're right — my job is press, and I have more friends in the media than you do confirmed sightings of Gray. All I have to do is call in a few favours and all of New York will be calling for your resignation.

"Now tell your friend to get out of my way."

Delay, delay, delay, delay. When she brings out the pepper spray, Audrey cocks her head. "Are you legally carrying that Ms Strauss?" Grim line to her lips, Audrey's reaching for her desk phone, lifting the reciever. "I'm afraid you will need to remain in my office till I can confirm that you have legally purchased and legally filled out the paperwork to be carrying said weapon" Thank you New York Law.

"Ms. Strauss," comes a familiar voice from behind Rene. With his head slightly lowered and his jaw held tightly, the department's secretary doesn't look pleased that he was called down from whatever he'd stepped into the office to take care of. Working on a Sunday isn't out of the norm for him, but today was supposed to be an exception. Rene steps aside just enough to let Parkman through, then adjusts to fill the doorway once more.

"Agent Hanson. What is this about?" Apparently whomever it was that Audrey sent to collect Parkman didn't give many details. All in all, it would appear the man is ready to take someone to task for that on top of the interruption.

Tracy's jaw sets at Matt's appearance. She seems content to let Audrey answer that question as Rene looks between the two of them, his dark eyes solemn. He glances at the clutch purse, where the pepper spray was drawn from, and then to the canister itself. Disapproval is etched into the lines of his face and the stern shape of his mouth.

He does not like where this is going. Unsurprisingly, neither does Tracy — her back is taut, arms rigid and hands curled. Her fingers flex around the canister.

"Ms. Strauss is refusing to tell us where the technology, the robot, is. She's refusing to co-operate and threatening to destroy myself and the investigation if we try to bully her into giving it up or going near Varlane and herself ever again. She lost control of her ability in my office" If the wetness of the woman is any indication of such or that Rene is even in the room to begin with. "And has now produced a can of pepper spray and demanded that Rene move out of the way" Audrey's nostrils flare out, the round of them where they meet cheek turns white, even as she's putting the phone back down but keeping her hand on the handset.

Pakrman raises one eyebrow slightly higher than the other as he listens to Hanson's story. Then he settles his dark eyes on Strauss. "Magnes Varlane won't be troubled by our office again, Ms. Strauss, and I personally apologize for any distress we've caused him. It won't happen again, and you have my word on that." They - Tracy and Matt - used to work so well together. Hopefully, that hasn't changed.

"But we do need to know where the robot is. Right now, not telling us could be construed as obstruction of justice. However," and Parkman looks to Audrey with a sterner expression. "I can also assure you that we will be doing a thorough review of our interdepartmental procedures."

The words feel strange on Parkman's tongue, but the vocabulary is one taught to him by none other than the director of communications. He's not a politician, but she is.

Tracy's features soften, but only fractionally. She brings her hand into her chest, canister held against her breast, and purses her lips around an expression more readable than the neutral one she forced when he entered the room. Anger deepens her blush and her throat contracts as she releases the breath she'd been holding, and although she isn't trembling — the exhalation is, with fury and righteous indignation rather than fear.

She has the grace to confront him in private rather than out loud, partly because she no longer trusts her own voice. She told me if I didn't tell you where it was, then she would make me, and that she didn't need my permission. Is this true?

Audrey stands silently, inwardly silent as well, watching Tracy and Matt stand off at the doorway, the Haitian's disapproving expression. When Matt rattles on about reviewing interdepartmental procedures being review, there's a mental eyeroll, but otherwise, she remains by her desk, unhappy.

Even as Tracy pumps up the volume on her own pointed thoughts to get Parkman's attention, he keeps his attention divided between the two women, noting Hanson's eyeroll. He frowns at her, then looks to Strauss with a slightly apologetic, slightly exasperated expression. Stepping sideways to give the woman his shoulder, he extends a hand to her, palm up. To Audrey, it may look like he's asking her to hand over the mace.

Go home, he projects back to Tracy, his mental presence and voice as calming as he can make it. We'll grab lunch tomorrow, and we'll talk about this. I'll have it all sorted out by then. The last thing Parkman needs for the Department is Tracy Strauss as an enemy. I promise, he adds, his brows furrowing upward in a silent plea.

Tracy deliberates in silence, her thoughts guarded, but it doesn't take a telepath to understand her intentions when she reaches out to surrender the canister in Matt's outstretched hand. I feel betrayed, she confides in him, and leaves it that. She turns her head enough to slide one last sidelong look in Audrey's direction before moving to depart, heels crackling electric against the floor.

Careful neutrality, she can't hear what's going on, but she has a pretty good idea now, that there's been a conversation going on that she can't hear. Confirmed when the cannister of mace is passed to Parkman. Fine lines around Audrey's lips appear as they press even further into one another, but refrains from speaking. At least not while Tracy is in the room.

Parkman nods to the Haitian, and Rene moves aside with a butler's grace to allow Tracy to pass by him before he follows after her, going back to whatever he was doing before. Tomorrow. Gyros, he says in farewell, hoping that the mention of their past New York communal lunchtime choice will be enough to take the edge off Tracy's anger. If even for tonight.

Once she's gone, Parkman turns on Hanson, the lines in his face deeper than usual as he scowls at her. "What the hell were you thinking, Hanson?" he asks, his voice a tense, harsh whisper. "We've pulled back on the Messiah investigation. Didn't you get that memo? Or did you decide your own cases took priority over everything else we've got on our plate here?"

"You told me to get the fucking robot from her Parkman" Audrey hisses once Tracy is well and gone. "Or has that skipped your mind in your busy job? Get the god damned robot and wipe her of Apollo. I wasn't doing shit with her about Messiah. She started threatening me with getting me canned from my job and trying to sink her harpy claws into me because she didn't like that we went around her to get to Varlane. So don't go telling me that I'm moving forward on the Messiah investigation, I'm just doing what you told me to do. You sure as better have someone tailing her, and watching her cellphone and her home phone, because ten to one, the bitch it going to move that fucking robot now from wherever she has it hidden" Audrey rounds on Matt, hands planting on her hips.

"And you didn't think to check with me once everything shifted? Jesus, Hanson." Parkman lifts a hand to rub at his brow, staring at the woman he once followed so doggedly after, eager to get a bite of her investigation into the serial killings in Los Angeles. He lowers his hand and rolls his shoulders back, biting his bottom lip for a moment as he composes himself.

Times have changed.

"I'm pulling you off active duty," he says succinctly. "In fact, I'm suspending you until further notice." He holds out his hand, his brows furrowing as he focuses in on Audrey's mind to deliver a mental command to back up what he says. "Hand over your badge and sidearm. There will be a full internal affairs investigation into your little encounter with Director Strauss, both today and earlier. We have to run as tight a ship as we can right now, Hanson, and right now?

"Right now, you're the loosest cannon I have."

He didn't need to add in the command. Audrey is DHS, and when Parkman says hand it over, despite the rage that bubbles up, she's digging at her waist to unclip her badge, then moving over towards the rack where her sidearm hangs, waiting. It's produced, pulled out, clip of rounds released, none in the chamber and she brings it over to her desk, putting it down beside her badge, jaw tight as he's ever seen it.

"I'm clean Parkman, did nothing wrong and you know it. Above board, the whole way. You run your little investigation, but whatever she says, She's pulling it out of her ass. I wasn't responsible for the death of the Hunter Heiress, or the others. Samson Gray wasn't my case until that murder. I'll be at home, waiting to be called back in when you come to your stressed out senses."

Christ, he's suspending her. For doing what he told her to do. Audrey snaps up her jacket and purse, shaking her head, opting to go personally explode somewhere, later, where she's not in the same room as her superior and a telepath. "Get that fucking robot before she passes it off to someone else"

But even the way Hanson conducts herself in front of her superior - who is not only her superior but the head of the Department - is enough to bring her under review. Parkman lets her unload without interruption, and he collects her badge and gun once she's left.

He hadn't intended to stay so late today. He'd meant to come in, check what had landed on his desk over the weekend, confer with Miriam, and then go home to get more than the minimal amount of sleep he's been catching normally. But now, he'll be forced to stay later, if only to start a report on this evening's happenings so that he can knock the rest of it out as early as possible tomorrow before he meets with Tracy.

Parkman sighs, shaking his head as he rides the elevator back up to the top floor.

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