2010-01-05: Alike and Different



Date: January 5th, 2010


An unlikely meeting leads to two very different people realizing they have some things in common.

"Alike and Different"

New York Public Library

It's wearing into the later hours of operation for the New York Public Library. The grand place of knowledge is where one Tracy Strauss happens to be this evening — under an alias, at least when it comes time to check out a book. Her presence is a somewhat reluctant one as she saunters through one of the non-fiction aisles, making her way to some of the heavier research tomes. Her coat — a wool trench, grey today — is still on, but open, and a red scarf is left hanging around her collar. Black slacks, soft black turtleneck; casual, but just barely. Already, she has two books at her side: one on US law and one on the history of human rights in America. Once she gets to the end of the aisle, she stops and nearly turns back, flattening her back against the shelves and giving a somewhat pained, panicked expression to what she perceives to be thin air, since she hasn't spotted anyone watching. That's what she's trying to avoid.

Tiago has been spending a surprising amount of time around books lately, even with their scary words and pages and all. In some ways, the man has made a lot of positive improvements thanks to captivity.

But then again, those who are (were?) closest to him would likely argue that he's been set back horribly as well. Regardless of all that, the man is here, flitting about in the same general section Tracy happens to be filling. His new mohawk and dark shades ought to at least give him the luxury of being a little bit harder to recognize - but what might stand out about the man to Tracy at the very least is not his appearance. But rather it's the book he's got in his arm - a banged up copy of 'Activating Evolution'. Silently, stoically, the man reads through the books on the shelves, looking for something that may include revolutionary tactics.

Tracy gives herself a moment, clearing her head with a shake, before emerging from her aisle. It's as she turns the corner that she spots the man with the Mohawk. Not recognizing him for who he is, but not expecting anyone to be in her research zone, she stiffens in surprise and her lips clamp together in sudden restraint. Even though Tiago's reading material is glanced at with a double-take, her first instinct is to turn, as if to curtly turn back the way she came, swiftly moving her chosen books in front of her and thus out of sight. It's not their titles she's hiding, but her hands and the brief below zero cold they threaten with. Something makes the woman pause, however, and she glances over her shoulder with narrowed eyes.

Tiago is stiff in his movements. He is uncomfortable and it shows, but he pays no mind to Tracy, and nothing about him seems particularly offensive or out of place. That is, until the man accidentally drops his tome. What erupts from that flub would corrupt any number of young children, as he lets loose a stream of deadly curse words under his breath - voice shaky and a bit weak - but very familiar. Not very many people have Tiago's accent in New York City. And when he bends down to collect the book and straightens himself up once again, he glances over - his eyes behind those sunglasses meeting with Tracy's for the first time.

Holding instinctively tighter to her reading material (she's tightly wound as well which, in Tracy's case, is not at all safe at this point in time), the woman's gaze, unhidden by shades (though perhaps they ought to be), has become sharper in those few, curse-filled moments. There's no mistaking the guy this time. "Why— what are you doing here?" she says in sharp, terse words. Reading the obvious answer, but it seems like too much of a coincidence yet again. A very warranted sense of paranoia doesn't help.

Tiago is slightly taken aback. Or at least, he would be, if he wasn't deliciously numb and detached from his body at the current period in time. Hidden behind the safety of those glasses, all Tracy can see is the tight pursing of his lips. This time, unlike the last, he has no patience to deal with her, and he cannot find the desire to wheedle her into treating him better. "Whatever the fuck I wanna be doin', ain't this a free damn country?" Beat. "Wait - no. No, it's not. So, nevermind." And he proceeds to turn back to the library stacks to resume his search.

"Do what you want," Tracy says, blase with a careless lift of her brows as Tiago resumes his search. However, he's looking in the section she has business in. With a tenuous grip on her ability, she dares follow. Wisely — for more reason than one — she keeps her distance, however. She tucks her books under one arm once more — the human rights tome facing forward — while her free hand hides in a deep coat pocket. She stands casually eyeing a shelf, though her pose is more rigid. "Some people'd call this coincidence," she says in a wry murmur. Tracy pauses her browsing to eye Tiago. "Personally, I'd be more tempted to call it stalking."

"Now, I know strippers aint too bright," Tiago drawls, licking his lips with distaste as he turns to toss Tracy a clinical look. "But why the fuck would I be stalkin' you? I've got bigger fish ta fry. You don't even show up on my radar." And then, spitefully, just because everyone and everything has been against him lately, he adds this bit. "B'sides. That necklace you helped pick out for me sucked. I woulda gotten dumped on the spot and spent hundreds of bucks on a stupid bitch, ta boot."

"Whoa, slow down," Tracy warns — commands — as her eyeing of the young man rapidly turns into hostile territory. "Firstly, I'm not a— " She doesn't even want to say it, the concept is so absurd. " — Those men had me mistaken for someone else. Secondly, your relationship troubles have nothing to do with perfectly fine diamonds." Tiago may have bigger fish to fry and so does she — the concerns of this random half-stranger's are none of hers, but confrontation does not do wonders for focusing on keeping her ability in check. The woman's jaw clamps down as she goes back to — or pretends to go back to — looking at book spines.

"Sure. That's what they all say. It was jus' one time, righ'? Jus' for fun? But, don't worry, it's cool. Strippin' aint all that bad." Tiago drawls, unamused, as he proceeds to check the stacks. As for his relationship troubles, he leaves that topic alone. Instead, what ends up happening is he shifts closer to Tracy. And then, he feels a gust of inexplicable cold. Surprised, he steps back, looking around with clear paranoia written on his features. "What was that?"

"What was…?" Nothing, that's what was. Tracy acts unfazed save for the quickest of quick moment of her eyes widening. It may not matter, in the end, what or who this angry young man thinks she is, but she's not about to let a woefully inaccurate image of her go uncorrected, just in case. Not to mention on general principle. "I— look like someone," she explains matter-of-factly and with a touch of impatience. She tries to keep her voice down, in a hush. After a a dismissive roll of her eyes and shake of her head, she adds, defensively, "I work in politics, why would I do something like that."

Too much talking, little keeping to herself. The books Tracy cradles under her arm take a sudden turn for the cold, pulp and paper freezing with a crackle — she drops them, and instead of falling to the floor with a thud, they split and shatter, swirling in vapour like dry ice. Beneath frost and shards of was once books, a few letters from the titles can still be made out. Y OF HUMAN RIGH, UNITED STATE

Tracy just stares at Tiago for a second, experiencing an unfamiliar deer-in-the-headlights effect. Awkward.

Tiago has dealt with many things, the past couple of days. You would think that he'd be numb to all this surprise and shock and awe - but, he's not. After all - when you watch a book freeze, then crack on the floor like delicate china, you kind of are jolted. A moment, then another passes by during which Tiago is completely silent, mouth slack a little, but then he lifts his hand up, plucking off the sunglasses so his confusion, and subsequent sobering, can be seen by Tracy. "You've got 'em too. Figured. Everyone I fuckin' meet has…abilities but me."

Once he has his momentary flash of bitterness done with, he can approach Tracy, looking to enter her personal bubble so that he can lower his voice to communicate what follows. "You're not safe. Y'can't keep doin' that out in public - the government, they're snatchin' people up, torturing them. Y'need to stay underground as much as possible, yeah? Okay?"

Tiago moves closer, but Tracy steps back with shuffle and click of heeled boots on the library floor. The man might be a witness to her use of her ability, but she doesn't really want him to suffer the same fate as the library books. Which she will not be paying for, circumstances considered. "I didn't— " Mean to. She glances past Tiago, wary, before she studies him anew, anger behind her intense stare. "How do you know about the government."

Tiago lets out a humorless laugh, his eyes reflecting the temperatures Tracy is known for - all sorts of coldness. "How can't I fuckin' know 'bout them? They only locked me up for like a fuckin' month. You know, then. You know how fuckin' dangerous this is. Then…" But then, the alternative strikes him. Yes, she could be a runaway in the know…she could also be working for them. And the thought, though sobering, doesn't send Tiago running.

Why should it? If he is arrested again…if he is killed, what's it matter? He's got nothing left anyway, nothing but an impossible task to perform, so he might as well just be taken out of commission now. It'll be less painful in the long run.

No such reveal hits. Tracy only continues to stare at Tiago with that same hard-set look, laced with suspicion of her own. For now, her own sordid history with the government's new initiatives is kept close to her vest. "Why," she says in a hush, her sharp edge turning her simple curious word into something more distrustful. "Why take you if you're not like me?" Blue eyes move off of Tiago and roam the aisle beyond him and behind her. "I can't stay here— " She left rather telling evidence behind in the form of icy library property.

"Because my gir-…because my ex was like you. Because they needed information on where ta find your kind, an I had some, so torture was the easiest way to be." Tiago admits, lips curling into a sneer at the mere memory. The hand lacking the sunglasses curl into a tight, white-knuckled fist as he selectively leaves out the part where he was wanted for the murder of government agents - she doesn't need to know that. Instead, her sudden burst of movement inspires the lad into moving. Paranoia prompts him to glance around in a similar fashion before he slides the glasses on once again and starts walking away. "C'mon - we'll use a side exit."

Torture. Instantly, subzero cold springs to life in Tracy's hands with a sudden influx of blue and cold. With a stifled sound of frustration, she curls her hands into fists for reasons both the same and different as Tiago. Despite the things she seems to have in common with him (more, in fact, than they know), she seems reluctant to follow him — but she does tense and grim-faced and only after looking around the library aisle again. Her steps are brisk as she follows, and louder than strictly ideal with her high heels, but the important thing is that she's leaving. "Did they get it?" A glance over her shoulder and back again. "The information."

"They were goin' to kill her. They were goin' ta kill her if I didn't…maybe I…" No, Tiago. You are not allowed to go there, even in your bitterness. His eyes close, and he proceeds to shake his head slightly. "They got some - not all. Everyone's been told. They didn't catch anyone, that I know. An' I dunno if they're goin' ta, but…but I

"They were goin' to kill her. They were goin' ta kill her if I didn't…maybe I…" No, Tiago. You are not allowed to go there, even in your bitterness. His eyes close, and he proceeds to shake his head slightly. "They got some - not all. Everyone who's in trouble has been told. They didn't catch anyone, that I know. An' I dunno if they're goin' ta, but…but I plan on stoppin' it soon 'nough." His movements are surprisingly smooth, due to the yoga regime he had picked up in his cell and continues to practice even now. Eventually, they make it to a door, and after glancing around, slips into the outside world and beckons for her to follow.

"A friend busted us out. I can't fuckin' stand by an' let this happen anymore. I've got ta - I've got ta put an end ta all this stupid fuckin' bullshit. I've got ta, even if it means dyin'."

Tracy quickly follows, leaving the vast library behind to venture into cold, bustling New York City. "How," she says without missing a step. "Listen— stop." She does so, literally, hastening in order to block his path and halt. She reaches out as if to lay a hand on Tiago, but it turns out to just be a gesture of slow down! "They had me too. I know … things. I've been there. What exactly are you planning? And who got you out? Was it Rebel?"

That is one speedy red-head. She bursts ahead, and Tiago barely has time to come to an abrupt stop, his lips pursing into a tight frown. But the words that come out of her mouth are enough to make his breath halt, almost. "They - what?" Briefly, he allows himself to indulge in the feeling of comraderie that has become so rare in his life, before shoving it to the side. Now, it's down to business. "This guy I know. Gene. An' what I'm plannin'…I'm plannin' on takin' 'em by force. I know people - I know other ones with powers who're damn strong. If I can get 'nough of them…we can force ourselves in, man. Ta the president an' shit. Make him step down, replace him with someone who aint a bastard. It needs to happen. It needs to happen soon." Beat. "Y'know 'bout Rebel? I was lookin' for him - for help. My…my ex talked ta him once, said he was a good guy."

"… of course it was Gene," Tracy mumbles, bringing a hand — now completely normal-looking, no ice here, no sign of how thin a line it is — to her hairline. "I agree that they have to pay. Something needs to happen, but that's— that's suicide." Perhaps he knows that, though. "You can't just force the President of the United States to step down, that's not how it works. It goes against the whole system. You'd only create chaos. There's more at work here than you realize."

Tiago is getting bothered, once again. Not more of this - he doesn't need yet another person to shoot him down, not another stranger. And with a stiff jaw, the look he shoots Tracy is clearly frustrated, clearly bothered. "What do you do, then? S'it the fuck back an' wait for them ta hunt everyone down? How the fuck do you stop shit like this - you overthrow the system. Y'rise up, an replace 'em with people that are good. Y'make it so no one will ever do this thing again, for fear of gettin' overthrown again. How the fuck else is this goin' ta work, because it's fuckin' stupid of everyone ta think this can be fixed without sacrifice!"

"Anyone who thinks they can fix this nightmare without sacrifice are kidding themselves," Tracy snaps back. She may have differing views in some places, but there are some words coming out of the young man's mouth that resonate. Strongly. She fights with the same frustration, the same bother, but channels it into a cold but very personal anger. "Go in guns blazing and— you're just going to get shot down yourself. This is America, you can't— overthrow the government. But what you can do is make it better. They have to be cut in ways they can't recover from so that it can be made better So this never happens again." She knows very well that she's starting to becoming vague, and takes a second, glancing sidelong before her hell-or-high-water look of determination flies back to Tiago. "Listen, I have friends in high places. And you might just have information that can help us crack this thing wide open."

It's kind of like looking in the mirror, except not even remotely like it. They hold similar motivations, similar beliefs - although she has the finesse and the know-how that Tiago doesn't. And when she speaks he finds that, though he was prepared to fight and argue and bicker with the stranger to further his point - that he…agrees with her. "I - yeah. Yeah, that's what I wanna do. Not overthrow it - jus' the people in it who're abusin' their fuckin' power. I -" But then, she is whispering to him, assuring him of her connections. "Friends? I'll do it. I'll help. How can I make it happen - how do we cut them assholes up?"

"I'm a political advisor to … someone who wants things to change. We're trying to get the Protocol on human rights violations," Tracy explains, not losing an ounce of her intensity. "We… have a few hurdles to get past first," she says, forced, impatient with said hurdles. "But… the more you can say about what happened to you in there, that's valuable information." Knowledge is power! And it's a weapon. With one hand, she gestures. "It's firepower. If you know who was involved, if you have names — that's even better."

Tiago pauses. Then he just looks at Tracy, narrowing his eyes behind his glasses, before shaking his head in mild distaste and heading away. "You're tryin' ta change it from the inside. Like we've been tryin' ta forever. What bullshit - nothin' ever changes." Exhausted, he sticks his hands into his pockets and turns away, already walking off. "I got names. I'll help. But nothin'll come outa it. Nothing ever changes."

"From the inside," Tracy repeats incredulously, breathy, shaking her head as she walks after her fellow fugitive. Not so fast, Tiago. "How have you been working from the inside?" Spoken as if she ought to laugh afterward, though she doesn't. Her expression is much too cheerless, verging on something that might even be sad, reserved as she tries to be. "I know you don't know me — Tiago. Right? — you don't know what I've been through, but I'm guessing you have an idea. Things are going to change. I can't let them not." Out of her coat pocket, she pulls a simple, white business card for consultant 'Linda Johnson'. There's a phone number on the back. She tries to hand it to Tiago. "Call me when you're ready to talk."

"No. They're not. An' they're goin' ta get me, an' you, an' everyone again. But I guess it's just as well." There is no hope is Tiago's tone, no fire simmering in his eyes. Just resignation. He glances down at the card, before gingerly reaching out to grab and pocket it. "I'll call. Bye." And with that, he's off, walking away into the sunset. Or not.

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