Date: December 17th, 2009
Even Baby Jesus can't save this day for Gene.
"A Very (un)Special Heroes Christmas"
New York City
The building slowly becoming known to house the offices of the politician who has recently returned to the public eye, Nathan Petrelli, is the building that a woman trying to stay out of the public eye emerges from. It's getting late by this time — not exactly dark, given this part of town is lit up like a Christmas tree in celebration of the holidays in addition to the other bright lights of NYC. Despite the warm lights, it's cold enough to see one's breath.
It should be ironic that the ice queen is bundled up against the cold — and maybe it is, but it's cold, damn it. Tucked between the lapels of a warm, trench style coat — as black as the slacks she wears — is a vivid red scarf, much brighter than the hair that falls over it, coloured a dark shade of red-brown. She carries a slick black handbag-slash-briefcase, which swings at her side as she saunters briskly away from the building, seeming to be in a hurry. Or on a mission. Perhaps unsurprisingly, her expression is hardened, distracted.
Lena is neither a politician nor a businesswoman (at least of the suited variety), which makes her presence in this side of town a questionable thing. But she has her reasons, oh yes she does. The street kid turned fugitive is decked out in multiple layers to combat the cold but what is immediately visible are the black tac pants, combat boots and her favorite Salvation Army cast-off jacket with the fur-trimmed hood. In gloved hands is the cellphone she purchased after meeting Tracy for the first time. Currently she's tapping away at the keypad, forehead furrowed thoughtfully at whatever message it is that she's sending. That level of distraction does not bode well for the blonde-turned-redhead, whom she is on a collision course for.
"God damnit, how many stupid hospitals are there in this city anyway?"
Tracy and Lena are lost in different worlds of distraction. For Tracy, the things that preoccupy her mind don't distance her from what's going on around her; on the contrary, she's hyper alert. Blue eyes, made darker by the evening shadows and glints of city light, looking this way and that with an awareness that belies her mistrust of the world at large at the moment. Besides men in black, she's on the lookout for familiar faces, and as her luck wouldn't have it…
A quiet h— ! sounds beneath Tracy's breath before the full-fledged warning. "Hey!" The new redhead holds up hands protected by trim black winter gloves, stopping short of Lena running into her. She considers veering away and pretending she doesn't recognize the girl, but then, she does kind of owe her. A quizzical, critical gaze shines on Lena. "…You." She of many names.
It's true, Lena's perception of danger has taken a severe beating as of late. Living in a world where one is fighting a crushing sense of paranoia at all times either hones senses to their finest or dulls them after awhile; the body adjusts, compensates for the constant sensory messages it's receiving. That's why she squeaks like an abused squeaky toy when Tracy's voice cuts through the fog of concentration. The phone is dropped, the girl leaps back by about a foot and her hand comes up in a warding off gesture.
"Hey! What the fuck, lady, watch where you're…oh. You." Her own blue eyes squint against the cold. Or narrow suspiciously. It's difficult to say the cause. Then she's squatting to retrieve the fallen gadget from its bed of snow. "You totally owe me a new phone if this one got broken…where's Pete? He didn't call me after you guys…you know." Took off. Got naked. Did it. Whatever, her tone implies.
Slowly, Tracy's gloved fingers curl in — some over the strap of the case she still carries, likely more expensive alone than Lena's wardrobe put together — and she drops her hands. No harm intended. "At… his house, I would guess," she answers in a tone quite opposite to Lena's: how should I know? "And I'm not the one who wasn't watching where they were going," she points out. It's not as unkind as it could have been, that statement, it's simply stated logically. Come on. On a vaguely more pleasant note, however, she asks, "Are you lost?"
"No you weren't, or you woulda seen me coming and gotten out of the way," Lena counters as she straightens up, brushing bits of snow and ice off of the cheap phone. A few buttons are pressed experimentally, to test that it's still working, before she slips the item into her pocket. With that done, a wary but curious look is fixed on the taller woman. Her lips purse in displeasure at the question. "That's not any of your business…but I don't get lost. I was heading that way," she answers, gesturing vaguely off in the direction of a side street. "What're you doing here? Besides not saying thank you. And by the way, next time you're fucking around with Pete, you tell him I said he's a big jerk."
"I— … " Tracy stares at the young woman for a long moment punctuated by a scoff. Her ability to speak to Lena kindly is starting to fade aleady before it's been given a chance. She starts to head off in the direction of the side street, across the way from their side of the curb. If the girl is really going that way, she'll follow, right? "Going home. I think you're overestimating how well I know Peter." She glances up and down the street before stepping off the curb and focusing on Lena.
"Look, I don't presume to know what you did to me," Tracy confesses with no small amount of uncomfortable tension. Her study of Daria-Lena-Mulan resumes, quizzical, turning dark after a moment. Her words are sincere, but forced out. The topic is beyond sore. "But whatever it was … I needed it. I… didn't get a chance to… everything happened so fast that night— thank you."
Suddenly, a black sedan makes a right hand turn, moving onto the street to pass through… Only to find people crossing over. The car skids to a halt, the bumper only a few inches from Tracy's finely curved leg.
There comes a muffled shout from the car. "Take my stuff back to the place, I see someone I have to talk to. I think… IT IS!" With that, rear passenger door opens to reveal… Gene, clad in a 'Remember the Reason for the Season' t-shirt and blue jeans and a black peacoat.
A NEW CHALLENGER HAS ARRIVED!!!
After closing the door and the Sedan drive around, a powerful finger is pointed toward Tracy with different hair. "You! Irish Niki Sister!" Gene either doesn't know Lena is present or just doesn't care while he is being odd.
It becomes evident, after Lena grimaces and awkwardly waves the thanks away, that her pointing out the lack thereof was simply a defensive mechanism at being caught off-guard. "Whatever, it wasn't any big thing," she says, reinforcing that impression. "I only did it 'cause he was like…he is like a big kicked puppy and thought you were something special. Hey…where're you going?"
No! No, Lena was going in that direction, Tracy isn't allowed to as well! She blinks and then frowns, speeding her steps to get ahead and put some distance between herself and the "redhead". In fact, she'll just walk backwards across the street to keep an eye on Tracy.
"I'm seriously not lost, you can like…go home and—jesus christ!" Fwomp. A frightened scramble away from the car lands the teenager right on her butt. It is from that vantage point that she stares at Gene. Who is…wait, what? "Gene?"
"He— " It's Tracy's focus on the little drug dealer that ultimately means she doesn't realize that there's a black sedan barrelling towards them until it's seconds from running them over. Good thing it stops. Her head whips around, long hair sailing. She stumbles rapidly backward upon high-heeled boots that scrape against the pave, not falling like her younger counterpart but uttering the same exclamation at the same time: "Gene?" There's an echo in here. She shoots a look to Lena before turning to backpedal past her, toward the other side of the street. Away from traffic, thank you. "Irish— what— what d'you want? You could've hit us!"
The Geek God has had a rather negative day, filled with bad news and not a lot of hugs. Sadly, continuing the ongoing destiny of unpleasantness between Gene and blond twins, another case of wrong place, wrong time occurs. "First of all, you will note that you did not properly look both ways before crossing the street. Secondly, you were jaywalking. Thirdly, I was not driving. So right now, it is not my fault that Lena is on her behind and you stumbled."
Gene pauses to his rant to give Lena a brief wave before he goes into full rageful rant mode. It may or maynot make perfect sense. "Do not cast your unrightful anger at me yet again, person I once helped but now I do not wish to help because when I DO help, you find it offensive and not helpful, despite the fact that my help is, IN FACT, helpful!"
Lena is so very, very lost. And also cold. In fact, there is slush soaking through the seat of her pants, and doing its best to freeze the cheap fake leather beneath. Therefore, she too is somewhat grumpy as she clambers to her feet and tries to sweep the grimy ice from her derriere. "Who fucking drives like that in this kinda weather? You need another driver, man. Dude's gonna get you killed or something," she mutters. Her piece stated, the brunette then retreats to the curb a short distance from Tracy. Brows creep up, and her eyes cut back and forth between the pair as she continues to scrape slush from her legs.
Tracy isn't going to argue on the point that she did, in fact, look both ways before crossing the street and accuse the driver to be a maniac — Lena has that covered, after all — but the defiant spark in her eye is certainly present and accounted for. "Oh my God," she says in exasperated reply to Gene's rant, throwing one hand up in a rigid half a gesture. "I don't have time for this. What do you want from me, Gene? D'you want me to say I'm sorry or would you rather just say I told you so and get it over with? Yeah, I hope that'd make you feel better."
"THE GENE DOES NOT KNOW WHAT THE GENE WANTS." Now he is shouting in the third person, the final and most telling of his Nerd Rage. As if expecting people to come near him to try their 'touchy feely magic' (or in Tracy's case 'touchy freezie'), he says, "NO ONE ADVANCES ON THE GENE UNTIL HIS RAGE IS IN ACCEPTABLE LIMITS!"
There is a long pause as Gene gives a lotta breaths, the yelling and ranting taking a bit out of him. He puts his hands on his knees, "…Maybe… Maybe the 'I'm sorry, you were right, and I'll fricking trust you in the future and not treat you like a total jerkface'." He points toward Lena, though a little tired to do it with the same authority as before, the rage leaving with some the strength it carried. "My driver… Is the bomb."
Lena's jaw sags while Gene howls his anger to the heavens, eyes and mouth all forming perfect little circles of 'ohmygod'. And when he finishes? Well. The brunette looks immediately at Tracy, expression shifting to one of ignorant anger. "What the fuck did you do to him?" she demands. Naturally, as Lena has never provoked such an outburst (even if she possibly contributed to this one), the redhead must have really messed up big. Bigger than unnatural earthquakes and unauthorized visits to D.C., even.
The matter if Gene's driver is ignored in favor of stepping off of the curb (so as not to be sharing it with Tracy) and sidling sideways until Lena is in Gene's orbit. Not in touchy feely distance, and certainly not facing him. She's puffed up like an angry kitten, glowering at the former blonde.
Tracy doesn't flinch in the face of the strange nerd rage, staring down Gene coldly. His temper is an infectious beast, but she hers is managed to a cooler anger: it's all focused in her eyes. She doesn't move, save to turn slightly on her heel as if preparing to stalk away. She is, perhaps, not as invested as he is in the argument. Aside from a glance between she and Gene — figures they'd know each other — Lena is ignored. "I am sorry you're right," she paraphrases, a low hiss underlying her voice. The woman's hardened expression falters afterward and never quite recovers, pained and resentful. "Are you done?"
The young man, still standing in the middle of the street, lets the cool mist escape from him, his heated breath chilling in the cold winter air. "I dunno," Gene states as he continues to simmer down, though his eyes are upset as well. "I was expecting you to have some snide commentary about why this is all my fault somehow and how you are only saying that stuff because you want me to not yell in a public area."
"Yelling's good for you," Lena puts in helpfully, but only because the yelling appears to have come to a close and they aren't about to upgrade to fisticuffs. "Get it all out so it's not turning your stomach." Then she lapses into a more or less comfortable silence, sliding her hands into her pockets and tilting her head at Tracy. "She did say thank you though. After I poked her about it."
"It's not your fault," Tracy says, annoyed, certainly, but almost subdued. Tired. "But you should probably get out've the street." She doesn't want him to get hit by a car. That must mean something, right? Then again, they are making a scene; as much of a scene as it is in NYC. She glances away, jaw tensing, before she decides to stalk closer to the pair. Her hand raises; no threat. She seems flighty all the same, on edge. Quiet, she gets a key piece of curiousity out of the way. "Did you have something to do with— what happened at my apartment…" Tracy looks from Gene to Lena. "Or was it all Peter?"
With a final long breath, Gene is back to 'normal' again. "I shouldn't have yelled, but I'm calm now… Either way, Tracy's right. If we are talking about this stuff, we should likely be moving toward a more secure place," the young man offers before he moves toward the sidewalk. "If you want, I can call the driver to come back and pick us all up." He doesn't answer the question about the 'cure', knowing only what Lena talked to him about the matter.
Lena dismisses any etiquette violation from the raising of the voice by shrugging as she falls into step with Gene. If he's going to deal calmly with the woman, then she'll do the same. But that won't prevent her from appearing uncomfortable at the question that's lobbed in their direction. When a glance at the geek shows he has no intention of answering, she gives a sigh that sends a cloud of fog billowing up in front of her face. "Yeah, whatever…I can't walk around like this or my ass is gonna fall off," she remarks, patting said wet and dirty body part to make sure it hasn't frozen yet. "The um…the thing was…that was Peter. Gene didn't know till after."
Tracy didn't think so, given how it occurred, and everything Peter said after the fact, but she had to ask. All these connections. She only shakes her head, a sway of red hair against red scarf. "I'm— trying to move on here, alright. A different life, a different— " The woman gives another shake of her head and moves to wind around the pair. "There's nothing to talk about."
"Sure you are," Gene replies to Tracy as he looks over toward Lena, giving her a look of disbelief at Tracy's words. "You're either really ignorant or you're just plain lying. If you were trying to move on, you'd be in Canada… That's the best shot Evolved have if they really want to start anew." A pause is given before Gene looks over toward Tracy. "A car door would be a great Christmas gift."
"Canada, really?" There's no specific reason Lena pipes up at that moment. Really. Just idle curiosity, accompanied by a brief but intensely curious glance at the young man. "Huh…" Oh wait, Gene gave her a look. That must've meant something. She blinks slowly in return before her eyes swivel towards the redhead. "Yeah, and maybe pick a different dye 'cause that one looks like shit on you."
Just sayin'. Lena's keepin' it real.
Ignorant she is not, and she shoots a look along the squared shoulder of her coat that could kill, if such a thing were possible. It likely is, but not via Tracy. Lying, however… she can't contest that. Not honestly. She is lying. Maybe even a little to herself, but she recognizes it. Doesn't mean Gene gets away with saying so. "What I do and what I think isn't your business. It never was," she snaps before her death glare grows to include Lena. Car door, completely ignored. "You really do not want to push it right now." The icy stare lingers a moment longer on the both of them before she just shakes her head as though disgusted by the both of them. "If you'll excuse me, there's somewhere else I have to be," she says with resentment, stalking on past.
"Lena… Please, make fun of her hair another time," Gene offers with an awkward smile. Maybe he doesn't think Tracy will have the 'gall' to freeze him. Maybe he doesn't care.
"I've done NOTHING but help you in the advice and information I've given…" As Gene begins to speak a firm hand toward Tracy's arm. "The fact that you got involved with the Alpha Protocol, the fact that you're an Evolved so your actions influence my actions… Yeah, I think you are my business. At least until I get my answer. Why is it even when I help you, you still hate me? You still push me away? I helped you understand your powers, you ran. I warned you about needing to train your powers, helped you find the professor. STILL you acted like I was some freak. You claimed you owed me when I found Ivory, then you acted like it didn't matter and the favor I did ask you for, you ignored. Now that you knew the reasons by my request and that my claims were true… WHY, Tracy? You owe me that much."
It's just a hunch but Lena's starting to suspect there is past history at work here! Blame the cold for slowing down her thought processes. She mumbles a weak defense on the matter of the hair (something along the lines of "…wasn't making fun…"), then wisely shuts up in order to let Gene unburden his soul. But a close eye is kept on the other female and she removes her hands from her pockets. Just in case. There was something in Tracy's tone of voice that resonated with Lena, a vein of cold anger that she's all too familiar with.
Tracy looks at the hand on her arm with surprise, frankly looking offended. Her hand comes up instinctively, stiff. A faint, barely audible crackling noise snakes through what should be the soft fabric of her glove. She wrenches her arm, stepping away from Gene, but she does stop, however reluctantly. Though her cold gaze starts off full blast, it slowly, ever-so-gradually humanizes, conflicted between those neatly mascara'd lashes.
"You have some kind of hero complex, like you always have the moral high ground. We're not the same. You use words like evolved as if there's some higher purpose for people like us when— as far as I've seen, that couldn't be farther from the truth. Plus— you knew I was being influenced somehow, I had no say in what I did or— God, what I thought, for months. Sorry if I was a little too preoccupied to be your friend." Pause. "And maybe? I just don't like you."
There is a long pause as Gene continues to hold her arm… or keep it in the position where it once was as if it were still holding the arm. He's been yelled at for being to rigid with his morals. Then he was yelled at for being too loose with his morals. Not is he being yelled at for rigid with moral yet again. Oddly enough, maybe it her attack on his desire to 'be a hero' that does something. Or her dismisal of the 'gift' given to the Evolved. Or maybe it's because she just doesn't like him.
The anger fades, Gene letting go as he walks back a few steps. Clearly, he didn't expect the answer as he looks down to the ground. "Oh" is all he says at first, his voice barely above a whisper. He fishes something out of his jean pocket. It's the plastic baby Jesus he's been carrying around for awhile. He runs his fingers on it a couple of times.. before he tries to offer it toward Tracy. If she takes it, it will be given freely. If not, it will go back into his pocket. Either way, he offers a soft "Well, um, Merry Christmas…" And with that, he just turns and begins walks away.
It isn't that Lena disagrees with Tracy, entirely. After all, the older woman has said some things that Lena herself has thought about Gene; he does claim the moral high ground, he does want to be a hero and she's not entirely certain there's a purpose to this genetic lottery either. But that doesn't mean the young man hasn't or wouldn't give his left arm to help those in need. And here the redhead is, throwing it in his face. When the poor geek offers that sweet little chubby-cheeked figurine and then trudges away? Well, that gives the punk a moment alone with Miss Icy Britches here.
"You goddamned ungrateful bitch. Just because you don't want or don't think you need help doesn't mean you can take a big old dump on good people for giving it to you! What's so hard about saying thank you for trying to help me, huh?" Grr. Hiss. Spit. Lena bristles and snarls at Tracy before she turns to follow after her friend. "Gene! Hey, wait up. I can't walk fast, my pants are like…frozen."
Tracy just looks down at the tiny offering with an expression too tired to be confused. It's not exactly a figure she feels the urge to stare at given her current lot in life. Given her plans for the evening, even. She makes no move to take it. Only a lingering anger laces her demeanour by this point; the tirades managed to make her look more the troubled woman than the ice queen. That is, until Lena speaks up. Maybe there's truth in the young woman's accusations, but whatever it is, exactly, that Tracy is poised to reply… is never heard. It's not worth it. Not to Ms. Strauss, anyway. Not tonight. "Merry Christmas," she mumbles under her breath, mostly to herself, as she turns away to walk in the opposite direction.