2011-03-11: Capital Arrival



Date: March 11, 2011


Alexandra makes a trip down to DC.

"Capital Arrival"

Union Station - Washington, DC

Friday, late morning, a single text comes through.

'Union Station. 11:29 arrival. Be there if you can.'

No froo-froo abbreviations. No cutesy flowery language. Just a simple text with everything spelled out, courtesy of a smart phone and complete QWERTY keyboard. The wonders of technology!

And sure as can be - or as sure as can be limited by Amtrak's ability to run on time - the train Alexadra took from NYC to Washington, DC, slides into the bustling train station. The Friday crowd is less business-y than usual, and has a good number of tourist-types as well. Some come out of the train with just briefcases and laptop bags; some come out with overnight duffels and laptop bags. Then there's Alex, who comes prepared with a carry-on suitcase and a laptop bag.

Finding her in the middle of the crowds is going to be difficult with no other idea where to meet her. Good thing that things have a way of working out where George is involved!

While the government may keep the trains running on time, it has yet to make any strides toward speeding them up. That fight is set to drag on for at least another year or two, as contractors and environmental PACs squabble over the details while 'no one will use it, people drive cars in this country' protesters push in the opposite direction entirely.

It still only gives George about an hour to work with, but it's more than enough time to reach the station on foot— and with the campaign come and gone, his most vocal assistant has less of an excuse to manage every hour of his day. "The plant needs some sun and fresh air, all right? I'll be back within two hours, hell or high water."

Navigating the station itself is not impossible, merely challenging, especially with only ten minutes to get from entrance to platform. Check the schedule to see which line is arriving at that time, and on which side, then bypass the larger crowds waiting on local lines— and he still would have been stuck on the wrong side of a janitor mopping up a spill, only for the yellow Caution Wet Floor cones to be pulled away again just as he approaches. Just before the train slows to a complete stop, it keeps pace with him - or he does with it - the trademark fedora visible just a few rows of faces back as the doors slide open.

All that rushing, and it still takes about 10 minutes for the train to start discharging passengers after the conductors give the all clear. "You know, if that thing wasn't so…weird, you'd be much harder to spot!" comes a voice from in the crowd and off to the side. Muscling (!) her way through the crowd as best as possible is Alex, wheeling that carryon bag and clutching onto the oversized bag over her shoulder weighing her down. Her fedora-preferences are made very clear, right from the get-go.
Well, the ability isn't perfect, after all. If it was, he might be working somewhere else in the city by now.

"It's like Hiro said, that one time" Not that one. "'Sure, it's a terrible name but you'll never forget it.'" Not that anyone else in the station seems to recognize him; after all, in this city, there are hundreds of people just like him. The hat is offered to Alexandra, in return for the handle of the larger bag, as George tilts his head toward the exits off in the distance. "Where are we headed from here? How long are you in for?"

"I was just about to ask you that…know any good hotels that aren't likely to be booked? I sort of…scrambled to get everything together in time, and didn't shop around online. Since I'm not in DC but…well, this is the first time, come to think of it, I didn't exactly make a reservation! I've got a return trip booked on Sunday evening, though. Plenty of time to get back." Free of the rolling bag, she certainly makes herself at home by putting the fedora on her head - crooked as can be - and slides a lightly-jacketed arm through his.

Wait. Pause. She holds up a bit. "You're not going to be on the front page of the newspapers or anything if someone catches us out like this, right?"

"Hmm?" As if George hasn't already spent more time mulling over that question than he'd like. "No, not like this. You're just my sister's old roommate, in town for— such-and-such conference, right? If anyone starts asking nosy questions, just act like you're putting up with me out of politeness." George isn't big on flat-out lying to people, but passively misleading someone he doesn't like has always been on the approved list of tactics. "I don't know, the Knights Inn is usually cheapest, but the reviews are a little iffy. What kind of travel budget are we talking here?"

"Somewhere between 'unlimited' and 'I don't want to be devoured by bed bugs.' My needs are simple and finite: a comfortable room, clean sheets, and an internet hookup. I don't need Pay-Per-View, and…hey, this is all sounding a little like I should just stay at your place." Which would definitely throw a wrench in convincing the press that she's just an old friend of a relative. "Barring that…somewhere near the cherry blossoms. I want to see those for sure!"

George scratches his head. "I'm not sure I have any comfortable rooms at my place. Pretty much anything's comfortable after spending all day either on your feet or listening to someone else drone on. See, you talk, I give a speech, he drones on." As he walks, he pulls up a hotel search app on his phone, then puts it away again as he waits for the results to come back. "And the blossoms— won't be out in force for another couple weeks, yet, I've already got an appearance booked at the festival. You want to go see them getting started, though?"

"Well…shit," she blurts out, making no attempt to hide what little disappointment there is. "I was hoping they'd be out already. A couple of weeks? Damn! But if they're doing something, that's better than nothing, I guess! At least they'll have buds or something." Still, this is his city and he knows the ins from the outs.

"You mean Evette hasn't spruced the place up yet? That seems entirely within her area of expertise…a public relations opportunity if there ever was one." Then, a few more steps, and once again, she stops. "Wait, that was stupid. Forget I said that, okay? It can't be good to start talking about that."

It's been long enough since their last real argument that George doesn't immediately recognize the train of thought for what it is. "What? No, it's not like I meet anyone there, at least not anyone who cares about appearances. If I did, then she would have, believe—"

At Alex's interjection, he cuts off, stopping himself to press fingers briefly to temples as soon as the implication hits him. Oi, that again. A good girlfriend wouldn't be jealous, says a voice somewhere in the back of his head— he dismisses it, but not without an effort. "No, you're right, I'm forgetting. Let's move on. Buds, we can do— shall we?" And hotel rates, and anything else that isn't That One Topic.

"Is everything okay? You look like you're thinking really hard about that. It's probably just me being paranoid, right?" Evidently, the effort required to dismiss that particular thought was enough to show on his face. Thankfully, they've taken enough steps toward the exits of the station so they aren't right in the middle of the platform crowds, and since there's no baggage to wait on, it's just the expanse of floor in the tiled, vaulted-ceilinged main hall between them and the ceremonial 'entrance' of travelers into the nation's capital.

It's a good place to linger in and soak up the history. George lingers - if only it was for as pleasant a reason as that - pressing a hand to the back of his neck. "I don't know. I shouldn't be bothered by it…" But clearly he is. But why? Evette couldn't have screwed around with his memories; all he would have to do is compare notes with Alexandra, and then the jig would be up.

Unless she did something subtle— but when it comes to Evette, 'subtle' is not one of the words that comes to his mind.

"Well, I guess it's a good thing not to bring up anymore, for just that reason!" Either way, she pats his arm a bit, and starts to head for the door. "Come on, there's probably much better places than this to think. Does DC have a lot of cabs on the streets? Do you need to call ahead? Did you bring a car of your own?"

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