Date: May 9, 2010
Congressman and stri former receptionist start to get to know each other properly.
Central Park, New York City
The broad strokes of George's schedule haven't changed: a week or so in Washington, dealing with national issues; a week or so in New York, keeping in touch with the communities that ultimately lay behind those issues. Lather, rinse, repeat.
What's changed today? For the first time in months, while he still has personal time built into the schedule, he has no advance ideas for what to do with it. He left Hallis a message earlier, now it's her turn to call. Or not call, which in itself would be a message. Their last conversation left him pretty much convinced that the relationship was shot to hell - that neither of them was anywhere near ready to change drastically enough to keep pace with the other - and it's left him in a sour mood.
Doing his best to shut it out of his thoughts, he's donned an old gray sweatsuit and is currently taking advantage of Central Park's abundance of jogging space. Another thing he hasn't done for a while - which makes it all the more effective at drowning out any train of thought except 'must keep going, must keep going'.
KeLyssa's life hasn't had such normalcy and routine since, it seems, before she worked for Nathan Petrelli. Not that there wasn't routine to that job. But she was caught and incarcerated for being Evolved right outside his office. That makes the normalcy count considerably lower in her books. But she's got a steady job now…grant it, it's a job that's not exactly seen as prestigious. But it pays. And today, she happens to have a day off from said job. She's taken to spending it in the park. Wearing blue jeans and a pink, short sleeve shirt, which is not all too unusual for her, she rests on a bench at present, gazing lazily about.
Past the next bend… and slowing down. That bench up there looks like as good a point as any to take a break, maybe leave off for the evening. Leaning forward with knees bent, George takes the last swig from a water bottle and tosses it into the bin next to him, only realizing after he straightens up that anyone's sitting there. "Oh, hey, when did you get here?" He recognizes KeLyssa's face, but hasn't quite worked out where from yet, so he glosses over introductions in hopes that she'll fill in the blanks.
KeLyssa blinks a little bit as George sits down. She shakes her head. "I was here when ya got 'ere." She says slightly. "An'…you dunno who I am, do ya?" She rolls her eyes. "Well, I don' blame ya." She continues, her southern twanged accent as evident as ever. "KeLyssa…KeLyssa Gallagher. I was Nathan Petrelli's assistant an' receptionist? We only met a couple times, whenever ya had a meetin' at Petrelli's office."
George snaps his fingers. That explains why he forgot— his first thought when dealing with anyone else's receptionist is usually to stay out of their hair, and keep them out of his own, as much as possible. "Right, sorry, I remember now. You said 'was'—? Oh, and where'd you grow up, if you don't mind me asking? The accent sounds kind of familiar." It should - he lived in the same state for a couple years - though not long enough that he can narrow it down right off the bat.
KeLyssa nods a little. "Well…yeah. Was. I mean…he is kinda dead, ain't he? That don' really bode well, far as the whole havin' a job goes, ya know?" She says, sounding slightly snippy. "As fer where I went an' grew up, well…I grew up down 'round Louisiana. Place called Denham Springs. I'm supposin' it's the Louisiana accent yer hearin'. Dunno that ya'd know of Denham Springs, though."
He shrugs. "So says the press release. News of his bad health has been exaggerated before, so maybe… but maybe I'm just in denial." And even if he isn't, it makes sense that no one except maybe a few close advisers would still be drawing paychecks.
"Haven't heard of Denham Springs, no," George continues, "but I was in New Orleans for a few years. Between here and Texas. Is it near there?" Not that he'd know how her accent might differ across a few dozen miles, but it keeps the small talk going. Small talk is good.
KeLyssa shakes her head. "I was at the funeral…I'm inclined ta b'lieve he's dead. Ain't no special thing, short o' Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad, or some other person like that is gonna bring 'im back." She nods pointedly. Shaking her head at the question she says, "Nah, it's closer ta Baton Rouge. New Orleans is nice an' all, but it's 'bout the only place anyone e'er think 'bout whenever they hear 'Louisiana'."
"Yeah, I know… no one pays attention to Baton Rouge except locals and politicians. And bad crossword authors." George leans back into the bench, trying to get a feel for the evening breeze. "So have you found anything else yet?" Receptionist is a generic enough job that she may or may not have stayed with it afterward.
KeLyssa nods a little. "Yeah…it don' exactly bode well fer the locals. It means there ain't as much tourism and such as there is in New Orleans. Everyone wants ta go ta Bourbon Street or be there fer Mardi Gras." She shakes her head. "An' all the rest've the state has got stuck with is…marshes, gators, an' the like." She rolls her eyes. Clearing her throat, she nods. "Yeah…I got m'self another job. Pays well 'nough."
George purses his lips. "I know the feeling. Had to stop for gas once in Monroe… not that anyone there was rude or anything, but I couldn't help feeling like an outsider, you know?" Like some of its larger neighbors, it's a majority-black city, but the absolute numbers all around are smaller.
Another job. Well, that's suitably vague. Letting that go for the moment, he searches for something else to bring up. "What brings you out here, then— just killing time? Waiting for someone?"
KeLyssa nods a little bit. "Well…I'd say I knew the feelin' some, but really, I ain't never felt like no outsider in them other places. Maybe it's 'cause I'm from one've 'em m'self." Majority black people or not (as she's not black herself), it doesn't matter to her. She's always felt more comfortable in those types of places. Probably because she's from one herself. "M'new job is shift work. Don't gotta work tonight, so I decided ta come to the Park, relax."
"Mmm, there are worse things, I guess…" Leaning forward again, George turns to face her. "I know quiet time's supposed to be good for you, but I've never been that good about it. Heard they had a couple amateur musicians come out and do a thing the other day, kind of sorry I missed that."
KeLyssa shrugs a little bit. "I kinda enjoy 'me' time. But I know whatcha mean. 'Specially of late, after…well, a bunch that I've been through, I ain't been able ta do that. Needed ta be 'round people." She frowns. "Ifin ya wanna hear music, I could jus' play m'fiddle fer ya. 'Course, yer a Congressman an' I'm jus' a lowly stri…person. Ya prolly got plenty more important people ta be hangin' 'round than me."
George waves a dismissive hand. "I have a stereo back at my place." Not that he's been back to his place yet, since he got back in town - there might be an uncomfortable run-in - but there's always the car radio. "It's as much the crowd as it is the music. I need to be around people, too, most of the time. One of the perks of the job— I tend to get my wish."
KeLyssa nods ever so slightly. "Well, I'd hope ya'd be a people person, bein' a congressman an' all." She says lightly. "But I get yer point. Well…ifin ya wanted somebody ta be hangin' 'round with…I've been kinda wantin' ta be 'round people more m'self. Though ya could say with my job, I sorta get m'wish as well." She shakes her head. "Ya know what, nevermind. Ya'd probably not wanna hang 'round me. Ya'd get bad press or somethin'."
Bad press? The paparazzi will probably pick up on the relationship fail soon, and have a field day for a while, but she wouldn't know that - unless they already have, in which case wouldn't she say 'more bad press'? - but no, it sounded like she was thinking of herself. What was it that she started to say earlier, before she cut herself off?
Well, to hell with it, George is no more willing to be a slave to the latest opinion poll on this topic than on any other. Without saying anything out loud, he scoots a little closer, just enough to suggest: yes, he does want to hang around her.
Oh, life is just full of surprises, ain't it? This is something KeLyssa wasn't quite expecting. She looks at George carefully as he scoots a little closer to her. "Well, ain't this jus' fine an' dandy?" She plasters on a little sly grin. "Well, since ya'll want people ta hang 'round an' I want people ta hang 'round…well, people need people." She says slowly. "But…congressman…ya should know…I'm a…well…" She pauses though, unsure of whether she should tell him.
Sensing the hesitation, George shakes his head. "You're a person. That's enough for today." If she wants to share with him anyway, then she can, but he won't push her to do so. Nor does he move any closer, taking 'hang around' at face value - it would be awfully soon for him to read any more into it.
KeLyssa smiles widely and brightly, much as the person she used to be would do, before she changed. "Well, ain't ya just right on that li'l point? An' as ya should be. We're all people, ain't we? You, me, an' every other person on this giant marble we call Earth." She nods. "Well, this was a surprising, but pleasant, chance meeting, ifin I do say so m'self." She tilts her head. "So, tell me, Congressman, what sorta stuff're ya up to these days?"
"Mmm, keeping up with the usual job issues. Which is a nice change of pace, after things got… kind of crazy the past few months." Does she know what the Protocols were really up to? George thinks so, but he isn't sure. "Personally— well, I need to figure that out, still. Right now I'm hanging out in Central Park with a former receptionist."
KeLyssa chuckles softly. "Ah, yes. The 'usual' job issues. As opposed ta…the…other job issues which were extraneous at best." Hopefully he gets that she understands what was going on. "Personal lives kin be jus' as difficult, ifin not more so, than business life. Leastways in business ya know what the protocols an' rules are. Fer yer personal life, there ain't no rule book ta tell ya what ta do, or where ta go. No tech support." She smiles softly.
An arched brow. Hint delivered! There's still the question of whether she was a target or just an informed outsider, but at least he knows he can open up to her on that topic if he ever needs to.
Meanwhile, out loud, George sticks to the other point. "I know what you mean. And in business, you can pretty much boil everything down to money, one way or another." Politics tends to get tangled up on many fronts at once, but anyway. "Personal lives— lots of room for people to misunderstand each other. Get selfish, get angry…"
KeLyssa nods along in agreement to what George says. "Money. It's a great persuader, ain't it?" She says, shaking her head and tsking. "Selfish…angry…people get down right icy cold in personal relationships." She's one to talk about being icy cold! "That surely a sad thing 'bout 'em, ain't it? An' they kin be so hard ta work through, can't they?"
"I don't know," replies George, "I mean I've seen coldness before, but I haven't run into all that much of it first-hand before. I have had people accuse me of being that way… not on purpose, but what counts as warm is a big thing in misunderstandings sometimes."
KeLyssa nods and smiles softly. "Yeah…I know whatcha mean. It ain't easy. One li'l misunderstandin' can mean a world of difference." She pauses for a moment, thinking. "Sometimes when ya shove someone away…yer really shovin' away someone who cares dearly fer ya; someone who wants ta help ya no matter what. An' sometimes when ya fight or argue, it's cause you know the other person has a point an' yer 'fraid o' admittin' it." She blinks. "Ifin that makes any sense."
George doesn't answer right away, thinking it over. Putting it in his own context. (She would've seen the press conference, right? Probably.) "Sometimes… but not always. And if it is, then sometimes you can fix it, sometimes you can't. Never any easy answers—" Then he shakes his head. "Can we get off of that for a while? I've been trying to take my mind off of things for a while, only I'm still deciding where to go with things instead."
KeLyssa smiles widely. "I'd absolutely love ta get onto another topic completely. But, Congressman, I gotta be goin' now. I'm jus' 'memberin', I got chores to run an' they don' run 'emselves, do they now? You kin feel free ta join me ifin ya like. I wouldn't mind the company. But they're menial tasks, these chores. Shoppin' an' the like."
A polite smile of his own, but George shakes his head, easing himself back up. "Appreciate the offer, but I should probably head home myself. I'm sure I'll see you around some other time, maybe we'll think of something else by then." Actually, he suspects she's already thought of something else— but no, or at least not today. The future is an iffy thing.
KeLyssa smiles a little and says, in a soft voice, "Why don' I give ya m'cell number, Congressman? Never know when ya might jus' want somebody ta talk to? It ain't so strange, wantin' someone ta talk to."
"That works. Here, hang on a minute--" George's phone is clipped inside a pocket to keep it from getting lost or smashed; fishing it out, he brings up the address book and hands it to her so she can put in her number. He doesn't outright offer his own— but it's in there, too, should she decide to look.
KeLyssa punches in her number, all quick and nimble like. She does, indeed, look for his number, finding it and committing it to memory to quickly put into her own phone. "It has certainly been a pleasure, Congressman. Please…don' hesitate ta call."
"I won't," he says, taking the phone back with a brief glance before putting it away again. It's the first outright lie he's told her this evening, but then she's probably already figured it out for the pleasantry it is. "Take care of yourself, all right?" he offers, heading off to go track down his car.
KeLyssa smiles, giving the man a wave of her fingers before turning and starting to head out in the opposite direction. Life…there's nothing more interesting than it.