2010-01-07: Good To Meet You Some More



Date: January 07, 2010


Confusion, concerns laid to rest, and cautionary tales.

"Good To Meet You Some More"

Sky Deck - Prestige Midtown Apartments - Midtown, NYC

Living under an alias does have its perks besides being able to tenuously hide from certain agencies who would lock her away. The apartment building Tracy has been staying in, with its beautiful sky deck atop the roof, is one of them she's discovered — just moments ago, in fact. The woman has barely come to a stop inside the glass-encased room — in something of a hurry, as if escaping someone or something, looking for privacy — when she catches sight of the lofty view of the city.

One of these days, Tracy is going to give up on every normal aspect of her life — but today is not that day. Even if she has doubts, she's tenacious today, determined to be productive instead of destructive as has her equally as dogged ability to freeze everything in sight seems to want. She slows herself down and takes a step toward the glass, folding her arms. It's more tranquil up here than she feels— it might be good to linger.

She's dressed for business in a dark, navy blue dress; sleeveless, to the knee, cinched at the waist with a delicate silver belt. Modest, simple. Classic. Her coat is draped over the black attache/purse she carries, ready to go… somewhere, but she's caught up in reflection instead of work, just for a second, as she stares outside, her back to the entrance to the sky deck, faux red hair hanging down her back. She's reflective, that is, until her phone rings.

As soon as the elevator doors close, the unit hums back down at the call of another passenger. A few moments later, Jack steps inside an pushes the 'SD' button, also heading for the sky deck. Though he moved out of his apartment several months ago, the space has been maintained and upkept as a sort of private retreat. One where he can occasionally escape, collect his thoughts, and dick around in the kitchen. Or, as with today, head to the roof for a pretty damn spectacular view.

He's glancing down at his watch when the car arrives and the door slides open. Never comfortable with winter weather, he's dressed in a thick, dark grey turtleneck, warm, sturdy slacks, and low-topped leather boots. One arm is wrapped around a small grocery bag that has the tip of a banana and a small sliver of cork visibly protruding from the top.

Time and hard living are catching up with him. A scattering of grey hairs are visible at his temples and in his ubiquitous stubble. The scars across his eye are starting to fade, but they still stand out angrily.

When Jack glances up at lays eyes on the woman sharing the sky deck with him, he smiles and nods a greeting by reflex. Then he blinks, his jaw drops, and his bag of groceries falls to the carpeted floor. "N-N-N. N-N-N?"

As they haven't been prompted, the elevator doors start to slide shut.

Tracy glances toward the expansive pane in front of her while she fishes her phone out; this time it's not the incredible view of New York City she watches, but the vague shape of colour and movement that she spies in the reflection. To her eye, it gradually takes the shape of a stranger. The multi-tasking black phone is brought to her ear, brushing past red hair and a pearl earring. "Hello?" an smoothly-delivered, authoritative voice… Tracy's, but it has more than a hint of a voice Jack might be familiar with, if not as familiar as her face: the inflection is quite different. "… A press conference, on what? No, this is the first I've heard of it."

The woman turns, glancing at Jack — a blase glance that would express disinterest, if it didn't give off the feeling of 'what the hell are you looking at'. His apparent voice impediment isn't her problem, but she does touch her hand to her phone, moving it away slightly to say to him, "Something I can help you with?" Polite… —ly annoyed. Without waiting for a response, she whisks past toward the elevator Jack so recently vacated. "Does the Senator know? Mm. Where's his assistant? What's her name, Alyssa…"

Jack is dumbfounded. Both eyes have flown wide open, his good one a fraction faster than the scarred one.

Abruptly, he sucks in a breath, shakes his head to clear the cobwebs, and thrusts a shoe out to stop the doors from closing. Stretching a bit awkwardly, he stoops and scoops his snack and his bottle of wine back into the grocery bag. Then, smiling bemusedly, he steps out onto the deck and leans against the glass. He motions toward the phone and nods understandingly, the universal sign for "I'll wait until you get off."

Chuckling under his breath, he sets down his bag, retrieves his slightly bedraggled banana, and begins to peel it. Though he does his best to mimic Tracy's (Niki's?) casual attitude, he can't help but glance up at her and smile.

The look the man earns is slightly indignant, if distracted. Halted in front of the elevator, Tracy forgoes getting on, at least, until she can dismiss this man with the grocery bags. Her first priority is her phone call, however. "Well I'll be telling the Senator I want him watching that conference. Listen, gotta run. I may or may not be in today. Bye." Done. Promptly disconnecting, she turns, sliding her phone away and picking up the heavy black peacoat formerly draped over her purse, prepared to put it on in a moment or two. First, though, she studies Jack skeptically — and without even an ounce of recognition in those blue eyes of hers. "Can I help you?"

A cold, unpleasant sensation is crawling into the pit of Jack's gut. Forgotten, the banana dangles loosely from one hand as he peers into the woman's eyes. He's searching for something. Anything. Some small spark to let him know that his friend hasn't somehow forgotten him.

He tilts his head to the side. Briefly, thoughts of the Haitian wiggle around in his mind, an feeling just as unpleasant as the one in his stomach.

"You really don't remember me." It isn't a question. Sighing, Jack tosses his banana back into the grocery bag and dusts his hands off. "It's still good to see you, Niki. Don't take this the wrong way, but I was worried."

Tracy slides into the coat, switching her purse from hand to hand. It's just an inch or two longer than the hem of her dress's slim and modest skirt. All the while, she watches Jack. The more her gaze is legitimately — rather than dismissively — directed at him, the more critical and studying it becomes. Though all expression seems to slowly melt away from her face as the man speaks, it also seems to harden, become guarded, more cold. Her efforts to flip her long hair over the collar of her coat go into slow motion. "…I'm not…" She starts to smile civilly to correct him, but it's cut short. "I'm sorry. I'm constantly surprised at how many people she knew," she admits. "I don't remember you because I've never met you. My name is— " Tracy. She may be a good liar, but old habits die hard; still, she manages to continue smoothly with only a tiny holdup. "Linda." This is going to be a mess when — if — she can finally go back to her old life with her real name.

Blinking, Jack opens his mouth briefly, then closes it again. The mental wheels are turning at top speed as he attempts to process and disseminate this new information.

As he has had to do so many time since moving to NYC, he shrugs and accepts the explanation at face value. His shoulders slump a bit as tired resignation sets in. "This is going to be a long day," he mutters under his breath.

""kay, Linda," he starts up gamely, rubbing his stubbly jaw and pondering the short list of likely explanations. "I'm Jack. Niki and I are--were?--friends. Sorry if I startled you."

"No, this isn't the first time this's happened. Trust me. I know I look just like her." Minus the blonde, now. Temporarily. 'Linda' manages a brief smile — guarded, but with a flash of understanding along red-painted lips. "Niki was my … sister." As she shoulders her purse more securely, she looks down and back up to Jack with sympathy — or something like it. Ill-at-ease, reserved, it's as if she doesn't quite know how to express the sentiment. Or she doesn't wish to delve into it. "Look, I'm… sorry to be the bearer of bad news…"

Jack wilts visibly. Not that he didn't know this was coming, but he'd held out hope. A few seconds later he straightens his posture and takes in a deep breath. He nods once, briskly, acknowledging the unpleasant truth. The muscles in his jaw clench and unclench repeatedly, but when he speaks again, his tone is even. "She's dead, isn't she? I'm very sorry. Having people bring it up like this over and over must make it even harder for you."

Tracy doesn't have to say yes or even nod to acknowledge what Jack said is true — that Niki is dead. "If you were her friend, I'm sure you knew her better than me. More than anything it's… weird. Being mistaken for a ghost." She smiles, though it's taut, cheerless. She even allows it to be melancholy, but only for a second. "I'm sorry to have to be the one to tell you." Especially given what she looks like. She has to imagine it's like getting a telegram from beyond. It's creepy even to her. She'd rather not be that morbid messenger, but such are her genetics. "Like I said, I'm surprised I keep running into people who knew her. Sometimes I wonder if she knew the whole city of New York."

"She was a nice girl," Jack says quietly, averting his eyes. His face remains stoic as he pretends to study the cityscape. "People liked her. She and I, we helped each other out sometimes."

His adam's apple bobs as he gulps down another breath, but he's smiling when he glances back at 'Linda'. "Don't be sorry. It's better to know than to wonder."

Tracy finds herself looking out upon the city as well, her glance back to Jack delayed. "I'd tell you what happened, but I'm not entirely sure myself. An accident…?" Tracy's expression hovers around the vicinity of a wince. "…Her husband, too. A woman named Cass told me. I think I almost gave her a heart attack."

The husband, too. All Jack really knows about him is that they never liked each other, but it still increases the weight of the blow. "Cass." It's spoken as a vague sort of agreement. "I should go see her. They were close, I think."

He lets out another long, heavy breath as he scrubs his fingertips across his face and through his short, disarrayed hair. Absently, he retrieves the bottle of wine from his paper bag and worries at the protruding cork with his fingertips. "So. Uh. You live in the building, I take it?" It's a poorly concealed attempt to change the subject.

Cass must have been close, if Niki was the godmother to her child. That's all Tracy really knows. At the change of subject, she instinctively glances back at the elevator. "A recent move." She eyes Jack's groceries pointedly. While she doesn't really have to ask the same — the question is obvious — she does anyway, for the sake of saying something that doesn't have to do with her sister. "You?"

"I don't actually live here anymore. I keep the space open so I've got somewhere to go and think. Ahh… gotcha, lil' bugger." Jack covers the mouth of the bottle with his hand and somehow manages to extract the cork. It's dropped carelessly to the floor. He has the bottle of red raised halfway to his lips when he pauses thoughtfully and then offers it to Linda. "Care for some? It's a pretty fair syrah. I normally don't drink…" Another pause, this time to grimace. "…anymore. But I always have a nip when I come to the roof."

Tracy offers a small 'mm' of understanding and a nod of her head to the explanation of Jack's presence here — before the bottle of wine is given a skeptical eyeing. "Uh… no thank you," she chirps with utmost politeness, though the way she looks at the bottle (and Jack) isn't quite as courteous. Unlike Niki, Tracy comes from quite a different world than Jack, who drinks wine on the roof from the bottle. She does smile, however, almost amused. "Knock yourself out, though."

Jack smiles back, not offended in the least. In a way, the moment defines this redhead even more from her blonde counterpart. It makes things easier for Jack in a small, inexplicable way.

"Don't mind if I do," he replies, miming Linda's tone perfectly. He takes a nip from the bottle and then lets it dangle at his side. There's a quiet swishing sound as he rolls the glass neck around between his fingertips. "Well," he says. "This is a little awkward. Feels like a first date. Have any hobbies? Hopes and dreams?" His voice takes on a sarcastic, lilting tone. "Sorry. Just. It'll take me a bit to adjust, I think."

"It's alright." Tracy actually laughs under her breath. "Mm. Hopes and dreams," she repeats with a similarly sarcastic tone, punctuated by a dose of cynicism and a roll of her eyes. She's caught looking out over the city afterward, the view eye-catching from every angle. "… mostly… I work," she says in legitimate answer; not a hobby, but her life. Or it was. Now it's considerably harder to accomplish. "I work in politics," she clarifies matter-of-factly, looking back to Jack and perhaps wondering what it is he does. Maybe it doesn't matter, but everything she finds out about Niki seems like a puzzle piece. "I serve as an advisor to Senator Petrelli…"

Like a bolt of electricity, the name strikes a nerve. Jolted, Jack's murky eye shifts in the socket and his lower lid twitches. "Congratulations," he mutters tersely.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. It's not that he's angry, really, but that a mountain of bad memories can be attached to that man. He was a focal point of a very dark time.

Whoosh. The air hisses out of Jack's lungs again. He smiles weakly. "Sorry. Bit of bad blood, is all. Nathan and I, we know each other."

The man's reaction hits as a surprise, but Tracy takes it coolly, her initial wide eyes followed up simply by a casual lift of eyebrows and an inquisitive stare. It becomes increasingly more penetrating with every tick of a second. Vested interest and all. "You know Nathan too," she repeats calmly; but curiously. She neatly bypasses the propriety of not asking questions about things that aren't her business by justifying that they are her business. The Senator is her business. "Why the bad blood between you and the Senator?"

There's a long pause as Jack considers how much to reveal and how wise it would be to do so. After sever seconds he shrugs his broad shoulders. "We used to be good friends. We aren't anymore. Things happened… nasty things. The whole story would take too long to tell. Just watch yourself around him, yeah?"

The warning prompts Tracy to consider … suspicious, but not of Jack per se. Something clicks. Things Nathan himself has said before. Her need-to-know is far from put to rest. "I will, but I can take care of myself." Sounds like something Niki would have said once upon a time. It's colder coming from this woman, less charged, just dismissive. Mascara'd lashes lower as she narrows her eyes. "Still, I'd like to know why I'm supposed to be suspicious. And I like a good story."

Though Jack has never chosen to cover his bad eye with a patch or dark glasses, he still works in small ways to minimize it. This mostly means keeping it angled away from people. For the first time, he turns it toward his new neighbor and rolls his milky orb in its socket. He chucks a thumb upward, pointing at it. "Gave me this, for starters. And I've seen him grow mighty volatile, obviously. Make some extremely poor choices. Put his family at risk. Man, I don't even know where to start."

Tracy noticeably shifts with a discomfort that she soon attempts to mask, though swiftly looking away from Jack's injured eye is not the best guise. She brings a hand up to the back of her neck, above the collar of her black coat, underneath her hair, not liking what she's hearing. Not in the slightest. "I know Nathan through bits and pieces of his admittedly imperfect political career and who he seems to be now." Someone she's meant to trust. Her intensity has risen by the time she re-acknowledges Jack and his scars, her voice commanding. "Start with why."

One side of Jack's mouth curls upward amusedly. "You'll make a lovely politician when you grow up," he clucks, good-naturedly mocking. "Let's see… We met under circumstances so strange, they're a whole other story. We became friends a short time later. Helped to see each other through some very difficult situations. Grew to trust one another. I even worked as his head of security when his career started getting dicey."

He pauses to take a long, fortifying swig of wine. Lost in memories, he has slumped back against the glass and his eyes have taken on a thousand yard stare. "We both went a little bit crazy near the end," he admits. "For different reasons. Complicated ones. But he put me in some awfully tough spots. Hurt me when a friend would've helped me. Used me. His wife…" he gulps. "He put his wife in danger, among others. No telling what he's capable of. Consider yourself warned."

It's funny how something so vague can be so telling in the same breath. While she certainly considers herself warned, Tracy has to consider every angle, and as she considers, pensive, critical, the words that form for Jack aren't in the shape of the one of the thousand questions she has. "He seems like he's trying to do the right thing." Now, that is. Here in the present. It's far from a defensive answer, it's simply an observation, neutral. "Under— the circumstances."

Jack holds both hands up helplessly. His mouth squinches up again, this time in displeasure. "I dunno, kiddo," he mutters. "I've been purposely avoiding the news. Don't much care for anything that's been going on lately. No offense intended."

A bit abashed, he reaches up to rub the back of his shaggy head. He opens his mouth as if to say more, but instead he chooses to take another drink.

"Mm." A thoughtful sound as much as dismissive. A mild annoyance tenses the woman's features, though it goes unqualified. "I don't honestly blame you. Well. Thanks for the insight, Jack." Tracy sounds ever-so-slightly unsure about that. "I have work to do." With a few clicks of high-heeled pumps upon the floor of the sky deck, she starts to turn back toward the elevator doors to take her leave. She doesn't, though; not quite. No. She stops short and looks over her shoulder, squared by the cut of her wintery coat. "Do you know who Logan is?"

Again, a spasm runs through Jack's muscles. Almost a cringe. He lifts the bottle, tilting it up and downing gulps of wine in a manful draft. When he's finished, he gives his head an incredulous shake. "Where did you hear that name?" he asks, his voice held even with a tangible show of effort.

Even without an explanation, that's the reaction Tracy was looking for — wondering if it would happen. She doesn't quite know what it means, far from it, in fact, except that the name has some sort of negative connotation. "Nathan," she answers plainly. "I don't think he meant to say it out loud." The advisor is quiet for a short spell, poised to speak once more — which she does, just as matter-of-fact. "There's someone else I could ask about the Senator's past, but he's an optimist," she says, words chosen just so. More on point, life has been somewhat distracting and tumultuous. Now she's seriously wondering if not delving deeper was an oversight.

Jack would take another drink, but the bottle is empty. Woefully, he sets it down and his shoulder slump. "This sucks," he groans. "But I suppose you deserve to know the whole story. Not now, though. Not here." He fishes a slightly crumpled business card from his pocket and presents it. It's simple, with his name on the front and a phone number on the back. "Give me a call and we'll set something up. We can talk about it over proper drinks. I don't know about you, but I'll need 'em."

Tracy takes one step backwards to bring herself closer and … hesitates. She has every intention of taking that card, but there is a definite pause. She does reach out, eventually, moments later, to draw the scrap of paper and text to her — it's quick, as if she's afraid Jack might burn her. The opposite is true. Calmly, by contrast, she looks it over. "I can't say I look forward to doing business with you, but you'll be hearing from me." The card is tucked into her coat pocket, where her hands stays snug. "See ya around, then." Tracy whisks around to punch the elevator button to go down.

"Yeah," Jack replies, lifting a hand in farewell. "See you around."

When she's gone, Jack drops his hands and stares down at them. "That was not an auspicious start," he mutters under his breath. "Not at all."

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