2009-09-26: Burning Bridges



Date: September 26, 2009


Gene and Tracy cross paths among the social and political elite. Each one has a different impression of their last encounter more than a year prior at Pinehearst.

"Burning Bridges"

City Club

Washington, D.C.

Social class is something that exists for a reason. Some argue why it happened… if it's necessary. But like those that debate the meaning of life, the viewpoints have little affect on the reality. Social tiers are in place and the powerful always gather amongst themselves, eager to have equals and peers to relate to and more importantly, align with or topple for their own personal gain. It is world of the powerful that Gene finds himself know, though he is not one of them, only a guest from someone whose age, legacy, and connections have enabled him to walk through this doors.

"I was surprised that you actually came to the City Club, Gene… I offered before and you were refused to go, even when you thought you were dying. Before that… miracle." Dressed in a crisp tux, the amazing Mr. Kensington, an older gentleman with graying hair walks with his grandson. Despite looking to be at least 50, he carries himself with an aura of confidence and grace.

"Well, when you look death in the face and God sees you to the other side… it changes how you do a lot of things," the young man admits with a meek smile. "Thank you for taking me, grandfather. I know I didn't want to see this place before, but it's… something I needed to do." Surprisingly, Gene appears to be dressed for success himself. He doesn't wear a tux, but he does have a nice business suit, clearly a designer one fitted for him. It is a simple black suit with a dark blue dress shirt, which appears to be smooth to the touch. A nice red dress tie and rounded toe, straight laced dress shoes of fine leather finish the deal.

The pair walks into a dining room with grandiose paintings on the walls and even art on the ceiling itself, filled with various men. Some are from the private sector: defense contractors, powerful movers and shakers in the news and media, lobbyists from organizations that receive more 'donations' or funding from the government in a day than some people will see in a lifetime. There are a couple of aides to various politicians here as well, but the highest actual government worker you'll see is someone from the House of Representatives. One of them waves to Mr. Kensington, an overweight man that seems to have already gotten his drunk on despite the fact that it's only 5:30pm on a weeknight. "John, you decided to make it… And you brought Gene with you! And here I thought the boy didn't really exist. Come on in!"

Mr. Kensington walks in and begins the small chat, but Gene looks around the hallway for a moment, likely just taking in the surroundings, knowing that a few of this vases and paintings that decorate the hallway could cost even him a month's salary.

It's in such a place that Tracy Strauss knows her place. In the midst of a collection of men and women — all people of considerable influence or at least connected to them, the category she herself belongs in — she sits in the handsome dining area. With her back to the pair of Kensingtons, she may not immediately be recognized, just one of the many private diners, talking, socializing, gesturing through a civil conversation.

Being as her phone has not left her alone all day, however, that is about to change. "Excuse me," she says politely to the small clutch purse in one hand and BlackBerry in the other. Straight blonde hair long past hr shoulders, she's dressed well in a classy, sleeveless shift dress colour-blocked with blue, white and black, pearls around her neck and piercing her ears, there's really ought to be no mistaking just which, of the sisters Gene happens to know, this woman is. She nears the hall for privacy, not yet spying Gene or his grandfather — both familiar enough faces. "Tracy Strauss," she answers the phone, perfunctory. "No. No, I no longer work for the Governor."

The conversations continue and Gene is forced to choose which he wants to lend his ear too. He can hear mentions of government contracts, money to be made, blackmail to be sought after. Yet he knows who Tracy is and remembers her well. Sighing to himself, he takes a couple of steps into the room through the double glass doors, leaving one of them open. This will hopefully let him be out of direct sight of Tracy but able to continue hearing her. Of course, this will hopefully make it seem like he is involved with the conversation with the other people, though they will likely tell his interest is not fully on them… His eyes glance toward the closed glass door, as if hoping that visual attention will somehow let him hear around the corner. Maybe the noise of the conversation in the dining room will force the pearly-laden lady to raise her own voice as well.

Tracy moves quite close to those glass doors. "Yes, that's right. Senator Wynn." There's an underlying tone of annoyance in the woman's cool, professional answers. "You want my opinion?" Her voice lowers instead of rising and she begins brisk but measured high-heeled strides out of the dining room entirely, focused on her phone conversation. — a conversation she doesn't want in earshot of others, remaining unaware of Gene nearby. "Please. Stealing from a charity? You can't be serious. Governor Malden had nothing to do with this. And— what exactly are you implying?" Ms. Strauss takes a threatening turn. "If you know what's good for you, you will stop calling me."

A brow is arched. Names are flung around. Tracy is working for Wynn now? But wasn't she working for Pinehearst? As tone of the message seems to continue to spiral, Gene unknowingly takes a step back toward the door, trying to near better… Only to find that Tracy is right in front of the door, only detailed ice-like frosting separating the two, Gene able to see traces of Tracy clearly, the rest blurry against the chiselled white.

There's more to the conversation, but not from Tracy's lips. She hangs up the phone with a distinctive press of the disconnect button; from Gene's view, her frosty silhouette looks down at the phone in her hand — visible through the unfrosted sliver of the door — for a moment. It's only a few seconds later that the distinctive buzz of a phone on vibrate sounds from her side of the door. Call from WILLIAM CAIRNS flashes on the phone's clear screen. Tracy shuts it off and opens the door, determined to breeze through, seeming set on abandoning her dinner for the time being.

Mr. Kensington looks back to welcome his grandson into the conversation, letting him defend why he is working with EvoSoft instead of a company like Raytheon or Lockheed Martin. But when he turns, Gene is not there. He frowns for a moment, giving them a simple "Must have gone out for a moment" before they continue the conversation.

As Tracy seems ready to flee, Gene is right on the pursuit. He doesn't really try and mask his footsteps, only walking calmly after her to get away from people. After all, if they have a conversation, it is SURE to be something they don't want those that they came here with to hear. Only if or when Tracy looks back does Gene speak. "You really don't get a break… do you?"

During her long strides down the hall, Tracy looks over her shoulder at the sound of the purposeful footsteps following her. Blonde hair whips over her shoulder. She comes to a halt when she realizes who's on her heels. Her surprise is evident; it's obvious that she wasn't expecting to see him … and perhaps that she doesn't want to. Her expression works in slow motion as she stares at the young man, melding from surprise to something a little more civil. Marginally. She does, at least, smile. "I guess there's no rest for the wicked."

For some reason, Tracy's opening quip causes Gene's tone to soften and his eyes to glance down for a short moment, clearly taking the words as a mere saynig. "No… I suppose not." A second is all Gene needs to get a small smile on his face, though it is mostly profession, much like Tracy's… Maybe even intentionally mirroring her own. "We have a bit to talk about, I imagine, even if we don't go with your troubling phone call and current employment."

Tracy gives the young man a long, hard look, skeptical — do they really have anything to talk about? — before she picks up her stride. Guess she's expecting him to follow. "I didn't think I'd see you again." She slips her phone back into the purse only a few times larger than the BlackBerry itself, still harbouring some resentment from her last phone call — she shuts the purse tightly, sharply.

"You knew my grandfather. You didn't think we'd meet even in passing again? I have a feeling most that were involved with Pinehearst will see one another again. There are just common threads that draw them together," Gene begins as he walks at Tracy's side, keeping his voice lowered a bit as he talks of past dealings. While there is that question of personal safety, while they are in a place where important company could pop out of any corner… As Tracy just learned first hand. "I see you still haven't thanked me for help. Niki is always ungrateful when I help her too."

Tracy seems automatically dismissive of what Gene is saying, giving her head a disbelieving shake as she walks along at a brisk pace. Common threads? Give her a break. It's the man's last words that actually cause her to stop altogether, however — she whirls to face him with an expression so incredulous, it borders on insulted. "Your help?" It's been over a year, and Tracy… she's had a lot of time to think. To re-evaluate. Remembering to keep her voice down, she almost hisses her next words. "How do you think you helped me, Gene?"

A shrug is given at first. "If you didn't discover your gifts in my car, where do you think you would have? You can always replace a door," Gene replies, his gentle tone refusing to change even in the face of Tracy's undercurrent of anger. It seems that not only his health has greatly improved since the last they talked.

Causally, the younger Kensington points toward a very small office, barely bigger than a closet. It looks like one for one of the employees, but Gene doesn't seem to care, just walking right in. If Tracy doesn't follow, he will come right back out and lets Tracy lead him down the fine carpet hallway. Otherwise, he'll close the door behind her before going on. "Which you haven't. For a woman that is in politics, I figured you were a little more empathic and understand why I did what I did. Why I do what I do. I was going to offer some aid with the new troubles you've been having, but I'm guessing that you don't want it."

Tracy shakes her head again, brows lifting as she glances off to the side — away from Gene, thank you very much. She stops in front of the office, watching him, but that's as far as she goes. She got in a car once with him and that led to something she doesn't want to think about more than this conversation is already forcing her to. She won't make the same mistake again. She keeps walking down the hallway. "I don't have any troubles," the woman answers coolly, seamless in her denial.

"Then I'll just wait for the charity thing to break in the newspaper then before I ask you about it." Gene stops walking at that, merely moving to go back to stand in front of the office. He raises his voice, but only enough to ensure that Tracy can still hear him. "Keep burning your bridges, sure it will work for you eventually. Tell Cairns I said hi."

Tracy pauses in her steps, a troubled look crosses her face, worrying at otherwise icy eyes, but she doesn't let Gene get to her. Nor does she answer. She dons a determined, impervious face even though she's the only one to know it exists, and makes her way down the hall.

She's not biting. She really must be feeling unable to handle Gene. This could either be really good… or really bad. Knowing Gene's luck, he counts on the second. "You are going to need help sometime, Tracy… You are really testing my Christian charity here. If the roles were reversed, at the least you'd force me to pay for your door or threaten to expose me," he offers as he follows after the woman, walking a little faster to catch up. For some reason, Gene stops himself. This is not a battle to win, he reminds himself. The recorded words of his mother ring in Gene's mind. '…Love is gentle, love is kind, it is not self seeking, it does not boast…'

This is so not how Gene wanted to end the conversation, which is shown as he visibly swallows. "But your secrets are safe with me. I'll offer you help or accept a request of aid one more time and then you likely won't see me again unless I need to. Take care of yourself." With that, Gene turns around and makes his way back toward the Dining Room… Likely just in time for the men to speak of how tragic it was for Arthur Petrelli to die. After all, he was a man of vision.

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