2009-11-21: A Matter of Discretion



Date: November 21st, 2009


Tracy and George have a small business meeting to get on the same page as far as the Senator's whereabouts and agenda goes — and talk about current events, too.

"A Matter of Discretion"

New York City

A hotel in the heart of Manhattan. It's expensive but not over-the-top, and the bar, off the lobby to the left, is spacious and elegant: blacks and browns and patterned rugs upon the floor. While, like any bar, it's used for meetings of all sorts, it's mostly businesspeople who inhabit it. At the moment, it's a desolate land. Only a few men in suits sit at a table.

And then there's the woman at the bar. It's here that Tracy Strauss sits and waits. It doesn't even matter that she's set up a meeting this evening; she'd be here anyway. Sitting. Waiting. While her attire is certainly chic and professional, she's dressed down, a black sweater instead of a business jacket like the businesspeople behind her, her hair pulled back, a few pieces neatly falling around her face. Though there's no drink in front of her, the lobbyist is slouched slightly over the bar with her hand against her face, staring with a rather troubled but dull expression at the tiny TV nestled in a high corner behind the bar, a news station that keeps playing clips from that strange video broadcast earlier today. Or she may be staring at nothing; it's hard to tell.

Ah yes, that broadcast. It's been messing with George's schedule all day. As soon as he heard about it, he told his staff to issue a standard no-comment to any and all askers - let the President speak up first - but everyone who recognizes him in person has been harping on the same question. When the request for this meeting came in, he was actually grateful for an excuse to duck out of public view for a bit - though still properly apologetic to his girl for the increasing delay in their plans for later in the evening.

Wearing a brown leather overcoat over a blue button-down in subtle plaid, sunglasses handy in case he finds a use for them, he approaches the bar from the side opposite the TV screen. "You wanted to meet?" he offers, spotting the somewhat familiar face easily enough.

Tracy is jarred from zoning out into the news channel. She sits up straighter, her arm — the one that's not in a sling — moving down to her lap instead of propping her head up. "Congressman," she says pleasantly one she looks toward George. "Yes, I ran into an … acquaintance of yours earlier," she explains diplomatically enough. "Or I should say, she ran into me. I know you were inquiring about the Senator— so if you have a second…"

The bartender wanders back from … somewhere, an older man with a silvery goatee. "Your third coffee ma'am," he says and sets a white cup down in front of the blonde. Coffee, not a normal thing to be served at a bar; he may have had to go back into the kitchen to get it. He looks expectantly at George next.

"Thank you." Tracy gives the bartender a legitimately grateful smile. She needs it — besides willpower, and maybe the power of love and/or obsession, it's the only thing keeping her going. She doesn't take it yet, however; the mug stays where it is on a napkin, sitting and steaming, while Tracy — like the bartender — watches George expectantly.

"Whatever you're trying to get rid of," George replies to the bartender, recognizing the telltale strained voice of a put-upon server. Then, taking the seat next to hers, he takes a closer look. "What happened to your arm? Did she—?" Then he shakes his head: no, if it had happened today, she'd still be in the hospital.

Okay, back to the other topic. "I was, yes. A friend of a friend was asking after him— I got the impression they were seeing each other, she didn't stay long enough to clarify. And I take it he's more busy than ever, now," he adds, nodding in the direction of the TV. The girl in the video may have blamed the president first and foremost, but at last count, Ivory was the one doing the most to hitch his own career to the mysterious project.

Once George is settled, Tracy re-settles, leaning with one forearm against the edge of the bar, facing him slightly more. It's not quite as idle a pose as she was in when he arrived; instead, it's more poised. Given what the congressman says, she's thrown from answering on a variety of fronts, ignoring the question about her arm, for one. "…Sydney?" She puts together George's words with Hallis's babbling. With a quiet, casually dismissive gasp of "oh" under her breath, she smiles. "They're not seeing each other."

Back to the point of the meeting. Tracy glances back to the TV as well, above the bartender who fixes George a glass of mystery. She's brief; blue eyes return coolly to George soon. "…Anyway— there certainly are a lot of people trying to contact the Senator. A lot of questions. If… you called his office, you'd know he hasn't been available. Certain people—" Like Ms. Falkland and thus Ms. Van Cortlandt. Despite saying no names, the advisor looks at George pointedly. " —have been throwing around the word 'missing'." Maybe because she told Sydney that very thing. "The police know now, so you'll find out sooner or later that it's true. I'm doing what I can to not publicize it. The political climate is… not ideal for him to go off grid. As I'm sure you can understand."

At the mention of Sydney's name, George nods, then notes the rest of Tracy's reply without further comment. Probably just as well; at least People won't be claiming that he and the senator are fighting one another over dating material.

"We'll keep quiet about it for as long as you and yours do," he replies, after trying a sip of the… the… well, it's green. But not absinthe, it just happens to be in a green-tinted glass. As for figuring out what it is, he'll have to check the receipt later. "I've been asked questions all day myself, but I have the advantage of being genuinely ignorant." Of exact details, at least. "I assume the situation will have evolved significantly by this time tomorrow."

At the choice words from George — evolved — Tracy gives a quiet laugh under her breath, smiling thoughtfully before she reaches for her cup of coffee. "Thank you, Congressman. I'm just hoping we'll hear from him soon." Understatement. She keeps just how much she wishes she'd hear from Ivory out of her voice besides natural, professional concern, but there's a much more aggrieved and desperate look in the woman's eyes for a second before she looks down into her cup. After taking a drink, she looks up at the television.

The drone of the TV is barely audible. "Something has gone very wrong with the democratic system. It's your job to rise against this administration…" the young blonde girl is saying in a clip before she's cut off by this evening's news anchor.

Tracy seems tired by it as she watches. She nods up to its small screen with her head. "What do you make of all that?" she asks offhand, looking to George with a casual sort of curiosity.

The look of desperation is noticed, but misunderstood. Maybe Tracy's worried about her own career tanking, seeing as she's hitched her wagon to Ivory's in turn. He purses his lips for a moment, thinking back to that suspicious text message she got just after Malden's arrest— but with no way to corner her into admitting whatever she might know, he lets it pass for now.

At her question, he pauses. He's still not sure what he makes of it - especially with that chance hanging over his head that his own name will turn out to be on someone's target list. "Whether their claims have any truth or not, I think we're going to end up asking the same questions Senator Kelly did— who are these people, and what can they do?"

Tracy seems genuinely interested in what George has to say, though being a pretty face along with a pro in the world of politics makes her something of an expert in pretending to care what congressmen and their associates are talking about. "Mm," she replies ambiguously with another glance to the TV. They're replaying Jamie's "transformation" into water in the corner of the screen while the man at the news desk goes on. It then shifts to a completely unrelated international news story. "But what about you," she presses while keeping a fairly amiable, if reserved, demeanour; a smile here and there. "You have to have an opinion, I'm sure you've been hearing others' opinions all day. You don't actually believe the story…" Calmly critical blue eyes watch George. "Do you?" Know your enemies and allies.

Now there's an interesting question. Some aspects of Micah and Jamie's story might be seriously considered by any number of policy critics. Others… only by, for the most part, those with a personal stake in the matter.

"Something definitely doesn't fit," George muses, "I haven't worked out which part, yet. I mean, your classic domestic terrorist is Tim McVeigh— got angry about the Gulf War and the Waco siege, blew up a federal building. Without bothering to find out that the day care was open at the time. Clear motive, clear target, sociopathic attitude toward 'collateral damage'. What they're suggesting on the video… would be like the administration deciding that every gun show attendee in the country was a top-level suspect."

Tracy's smile turns wry — given her personal stake in the matter, she has a brief moment of not being able to stop herself. "Yeah," she agrees softly. "That would be entirely illogical." If only. "Using a child for their message makes a statement, anyway. Plus— I mean, what they're suggesting as the basis for where they're coming from… being special?" She shakes her head slightly as if it's ludicrous, turning to face the bar more and setting her cup down, one hand looped through its handle. "Most of the public has the sense not to swallow it, thank God, but there's always gonna be those few…"

George shrugs. "Like they said, there wasn't anything on that video that couldn't be done with the right special-effects budget. So— " Here is, perhaps, an opportunity to clear up another question that's been rattling around in the back of his mind. "—what sort of targets is Senator Wynn's project going after?" Or, rather, what sort will she admit to. "Anything in particular, or just a laundry list of whoever the acronyms were having some trouble with?"

A smirk spreads across the lightly glossed lips of the Senator's advisor. She sits up straighter, pressing said lips together in thought as she eyes George sidelong. "I knew you'd finally try to corner me Congressman," she says, a bite to her voice though it is, otherwise, teasing. "To be honest, it's mostly the latter." To be honest, she's not being honest at all, but the lie comes smoothly. It's one she's had to deliver many times. Before, at least she thought she was telling the truth. "Naming specifics is an easy way to work against the goals of the operation, so you'll have to forgive me if I'm being vague. I've only briefly seen the particulars myself for reasons of confidentiality, but suffice to say there are some serious… threats…" Tracy falters for a moment, pausing, but picks right back up. "…here in the country. New threats. Suspected terrorist sects… the usual."

"It is part of my job description," George answers, easily enough. "I understand not disclosing details to the public, of course, but anything you can forward privately would be helpful. So I can still be suitably vague when answering questions, without having to feel like I'm completely making things up." Idly, the glass is pushed back across the counter for a refill, reduced as it has been to a straw and a couple of half-melted cubes. "The other thing is, if there turns out to be some half-truth to the children's accusations? Like, say, a genetic super-soldier program gone a bit wrong? It'd serve both our interests to see that coming as early as possible."

Tracy hears herself saying these things, the political answers, the safe answers, but she may as well be listening to her own voice played back on a news station like the one airing here behind the hotel bar. She nods easily to George; absolutely, sure, the gesture says. However, it's the latter of the politician's comments that earns more of a reaction. "…Genetic super-soldiers," she repeats, cracking what appears to be an incredulous smirk. "Because life is a bad science fiction movie, right?" She indulges him, anyway, with a much brighter, less caustic smile. "As soon as the Senator is back I'll make sure a better line of communication is opened." Tracy lifts her cup for a sip of coffee. Into her cup, her voice quiets, talking to herself more than George. "First I just have to find him."

"And if you ask some people, it's stuck in the middle of a writer's strike, too." George reaches for the glass again, still uncertain what exactly is in it: smells like rum, tastes like rubbing alcohol. His fault for not being more specific. "So what did happen to your arm, anyway? I've never broken anything myself, I don't envy you."

"Oh," Tracy glances down at the blue sling her arm begrudgingly rests in, lowering that third cup of coffee. "I was in an accident," she explains for what must be the twentieth time since her return to work, suddenly wishing there was something stronger than coffee of questionable quality in her cup for having to lie all the same. Some accident. "A car accident." Lie. "It put me out've commission for awhile. It's… still a serious pain in the ass."

George winces. "I can imagine. Had a guy run into my cab once, couple years back." It's okay, Tracy, you ducked under his radar this time. "Well, I'd better let you get back to the rest of your day, then. Unless there was anything else?"

Tracy just smiles uninterestedly to George's sympathies. She may have had nearly three cups of coffee in the last few hours, but she's tired behind her smiles and many political lies. "No, I'll let you go. For now," she half-jokes. About ready to get going herself — at least away from the bar, if not out of the hotel — she turns and slides off the bar stool. Courteously, she outstretches a hand to George for shaking. "Thanks for your discretion Congressman. Have a good night."

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License