2010-01-03: Hollow Hope



Date: January 3, 2010


Anais, Tracy, and Nathan discuss plans.

"Hollow Hope"

Nathan's Office — NYC

The offices of Nathan Petrelli enjoy a rare peace on Sunday evenings; the phones ring once before going to an answering service, there is no herd of interns buzzing around like madly enthusiastic hummingbirds, and there is generally time and space in which to enjoy a deep breath. That's one reason Anais frequently appears in the office on the weekends. Of course, she's not the only one who pulls such odd or late hours. The Senator, his publicist, his advisors…Anais knows when it's easiest to find any one of them. Her presence here this evening has more to do with cornering her employer for a question and answer period than with catching up on paperwork.

The woman steps out of her own small office, a crisp and elegant figure in classic black and white, a pink paisley shawl tossed over her shoulder for warmth and color. She fidgets with the soft wool folds as she crosses the hall to Nathan's office and gently applies knuckles to door. "Senator? May I come in?"

Having got back from California in the early morning — and flown the unconventional way — Nathan leans back in his office chair, contemplating the de Souza problem, and recognizing his need to contact his brother. And his mother (who has become more difficult to reach). His navy blue suit (which, he thinks is black) suit and solid red tie are slightly disheveled from his trip, and his face is weary with fatigue, but his eyes are slightly alight even considering the hiccups the government rogues are encountering. All-in-all it wasn't a bad trip. At the knock, however, he sits up in his seat and furrows his eyebrows. "Yes. Come in," he chimes. The door is unlocked as he's not discussing secret business or anything of the like.

Tracy doesn't sit idly by well. Like Anais, she tried to choose a time that there weren't too many people bustling about to drop by. Sunday evening seemed a good bet. She didn't come bearing dire news this evening, just an indomitable work ethic and a restlessness that just won't go away. Until now, she's been squared away in her office, doing what Anais hadn't been: catching up on paperwork.

However, it's a phone call she's fielding as she steps out of the office, en route to Nathan's. She's dressed somewhat casually today — casually for Tracy, that is — in a pair of white pants, cardigan of the same snow white and a grey shirt beneath. " —I called last week, my name is Linda Johnson, for Senator Petrelli's office — look, I need to speak with someone on the finance committee for…" Pause. She spies Anais as she approaches, sending the other woman a thin and tight smile, distracted, as she lingers near the door as well. "… next week? Yes, that's great. Thank youuu." The polite spiel sounds ever-so-slightly insincere. She's just whisking through the conversation to get to the end result.

The door is opened but before Anais can step through, Tracy rounds the corner and requires a small, distracted smile in turn. It isn't that she seems unhappy with the other woman's appearance, simply that this was an unexpected addition. But one makes do. Thus, the door is left open to allow Tracy to follow Anais into the Senator's inner sanctum.

It's a mark of her mood that she overlooks the usual pleasantries, an act which is tantamount to blasphemy in Anais' world.

"I thought you might like to know how Congressman Dawson's visit went, Senator. May I sit?"

Straightening as Anais enters, Nathan smoothes his jacket as best he can, and then, deciding that this is a futile task, unbuttons it and places it on the back of his chair. He narrows his eyes at the straight-to-business nature of Anais' visit and leans forward in his seat. "Please, have a seat," he points towards one of the chairs opposite his desk. "T-Linda please come in. I think you may want to hear this…"

"So. What does the Congressman know?" he asks as he laces his fingers together.

Tracy's phone call seems to come to an end, and the device is promptly whisked away from her ear. She has no qualms about waltzing into Nathan's office as well, though she makes no move to sit down — she takes the door's edge into her hand, only stepping just past the threshold, poised to speak as if to simply tell the Senator something quickly before taking her leave. However, catching the words of Anais, she gives pause. Congressman Dawson? Curious. The back of Ms. Frazier's head earns a narrowed, considering stare before a questioning one is shot toward Nathan. 'T-Linda' steps forward and shuts the door behind her. "I think I just may," she agrees, under the spell of intrigue.

Anais takes her seat with ladylike composure, unruffled by the eye-narrowing and staring going on around her. Once her hands have been laced neatly together and set in her lap, she tilts a look over her shoulder at Tracy before tipping the other woman a faint nod. Her smile has a mildly amused quality to it. It says, without speaking, 'I thought so'.

"He was curious as to how you've been progressing on finding information from the inside," she begins, shifting her gaze back to Nathan. "As he has his people gathering the same from the outside. It was a brief meeting, everyone seemed…uncomfortable. Except for KeLyssa." But then, when has the intern ever seemed uncomfortable? "Senator, I realize I'm only a peripheral member of your staff, given my interests and expertise. But I would like to help, if at all possible. I think you understand why. If, however, you feel it better that I remain on the outside…" She pauses her again, hesitating to issue an ultimatum.

Nathan's gaze turns to Tracy. They likely know more than George's people. He hrms quietly at the information. A glance is given to the closed door before Nathan returns his gaze to both of the women. Crossing his arms over his chest he considers. "George's people know less than we do." He swallows as he narrows his eyes. "And everyone's operating in the dark." He looks at Tracy knowingly. "In all honesty Ms. Frazier, you're not on the outside of this. After our friend put you into your coma…" he twitches "…I told you what we knew up to that point." He purses his lips together and considers everything. Both women have different pieces of his story. Anais knows he can fly. Tracy knows about the protocol and pieces of his political past — even if he wasn't actually in all of his own supposed past… "We're on eggshells here, George's people included."

A similarly amused, if faint, smile has formed on Tracy's face, along with a hint of raised eyebrows; both only transient. There is also surprise, but taken in stride and with calmness. She strides closer to Nathan's desk, just behind and to the left of Anais. She knows an ultimatum when it's even half-implied, and thus eyes the woman sidelong. As the Senator fills in some of the blanks, she finds herself crossing her arms as well. Her question isn't about Anais, but George. "How many people is the Congressman involving in all this?"

"I know what you're attempting to do. I also know there is more happening that I do not know about and…" It's impossible for Anais to sit straighter in the chair, but she does lift her chin. "Let me help. To plan and…and do. To involve myself. It isn't enough for me to simply know, if there's a problem in front of me, especially if it involves a member of my family. Frankly, knowing and doing nothing has been driving me quietly insane over the past week." She hesitates again when Tracy speaks, studying the redhead silently before giving her another nod.

"At least two. He spoke of people, and had one with him. A young woman named Ophelia Hunter. He referred to her as his psychology consultant. He also spoke of coordinating efforts. I want to be involved."

Nathan stands to his feet and paces slowly behind his desk. "Two people are in on George's team," he repeats with another hrm. "I'm going to need an advisor to join me if we get into the Protocol." His lips twitch again. "We've reached a snag there. A big one." He crosses his arms over his chest before studying Anais, "It's turning into a bigger if every day."

Tracy's expression only hardens, a frown or two imminent; first when Anais speaks next, skeptical; then when Nathan does. "If— " That big 'if' again. "— we don't get inside, then we'll have to make due from where we stand. Either way…" She turns just so, facing the other woman's side to look down at her. "…it's a risk. Are you sure you know what you're in for?"

Anais tilts her head, a smile appearing briefly, there and gone again. "I had thought something of the sort had occurred. You've been grinding your teeth for days, Brayden. It's why I decided to come speak with you about this." She's still operating under that misapprehension, oh yes. Warm eyes shift next to Tracy and linger there again. "Ms. Johnson, I spent five days re-living the event of my own death by fire on a near hourly basis. I do not know what I'm in for but I can safely say that, come what may, I am not afraid of it."

Clamping his eyes shut while massaging his temples, Nathan considers the body count that could exist at the end of this. "They have someone that can erase memories." Beat. "Which means that she may be able to read minds, which means we either have to deal with her before we get in, or…" he swallows. "…take very extreme measures." At this he turns to face the window again, wincing at his own reflection, offering it a harsh scowl. "She has to believe our intentions are in line with her own. If she can read minds, we can't be aware of our own intentions." Beat. "Imagine losing who you are. Completely. Forgetting yourself. Your nature. Good, bad, or ugly, you'd start over. She might be able to do that." Beat. "There are people that can completely erase others' memories." Anais has already experienced it firsthand.

Tracy remains questioning, but it's in gaze only, not in words. Besides, Nathan does a good job of explaining some of what Anais might be in for. Regarding the Senator with some glimpse of sympathy that remains reserved, she waits a moment or two before speaking up once more. "They've hired on people with powers before, we just didn't know it went this high. It might mean that someone in there has their own agenda just as dangerous as the Protocol's original M.O.," she goes on to add. She pauses to add: "I don't know what's worse." Locking people up for being different, or someone with the same powers treating people like them so terribly? "We'll get around her, Senator. Significant… a hurdle as that may be, it's not exactly an issue Ms. Frazier should be touching."

"Ah." Just that, a soft and thoughtful exclamation as Anais digests the information given by Nathan. Taken as a whole, it does explain the teeth-grinding. "You need a believer. Or someone to create one for you." But that train of thought is left to idle near the station. Tracy's summary, its final sentence especially, requires attention. Pale brows are arched in polite inquiry. While no trace of offense shows in her expression, there is a care taken with her phrasing that may translate as stiffness. "May I ask why you believe that to be the case, Ms. Johnson?"

Nathan nods at Tracy's words, but continues to stare at his reflection with that same disdain, although verbally he's good humoured enough, "And I can't go in there with tinfoil on my head. Not that it would do any good anyways." He smirks at his reflection, but scowls after it smirks back.

"I can be a believer," there's little doubt in Nathan's own mind that Logan would've joined any cause that would bolster his own power, even if it's the polar opposite to his last project. "But that's really a last resort." And he's not sure he could come back from it this time. He barely made it back last time. "Lying isn't even an option. The person actually has to align with the Protocol's goals." He purses his lips angrily, "Dammit!" He takes an uncommonly deep, cleansing breath and then turns to face the women. "Alright. We need to continue with the plan despite being somewhat stuck. Linda, how is the financial front coming?" He sits at his desk and opens one of the cabinets, taking out three small tumblers and a bottle of scotch which he uncorks and pours himself a drink, which he then downs. He pushes the other two glasses towards the women. "We need to attack on another front. Do either of you know anyone in the human rights commission?"

"Because hopefully you won't need to," Tracy answers Anais frankly. There is little in the way of stiffness in her own phrasing, nor hostility although it's a fine line. She simply speaks as if continuing to state facts, though she's quite silenced by Nathan's outburst. Her face is grim; focused. She eyes the glasses on the desk for an extended moment, her gaze considering, but distant.

"I got you an in with someone you can talk money with. Next week. Just waiting on a call." To the other question, she shakes her head. "And no. Not personally, just names." Her political career veered her away from such arenas quite some time ago. She only looks up as she goes on. "But I do know a few people in Homeland Security itself and at least one who's been involved in human rights issues in the past."

"Hopefully? Linda, the scope of this is such that hoping that the need doesn't arise seems…pointless. The need is there," Anais responds, almost gentle in her tone. "We can't simply hope for the best, or limit our resources for fear of what might happen."

The opportunity to pause for a drink is accepted gratefully. She stands to reach for the bottle and one of the glasses. "It should be a last resort. For you. What if you were to send someone else in though," the woman suggests. Simply thinking out loud, as she pours herself a fingerwidth of scotch. Or, rather, pours it and then offers it to Tracy. "Someone who had been made to believe. Is that possible? If it could be done…" Anais pauses to consider again. "My father is friends with the president of the Council. But…Brayden, the United States isn't known for listening to the judgements of the UN's human rights council."

"Good work, Linda," Nathan exclaims as he idly fiddles with his glass. "Alright, get in touch with your contacts in Homeland Security. We need information." He turns to Anais, "Use your in with the Council, Anais. We need to fight this from all fronts. Judgments or not, the American people won't stand for poorly treated prisoners. We are still a democratic nation, even if democratic principles aren't being followed. Governments should be afraid of their people; that's who they answer to. Checks and balances are failing, so we're checking, and balance will happen naturally." Beat. "IF we succeed."

"Believe me, I know that," Tracy says with a faintly scoffing laugh under breath; she's all too cynical on the subject. "Hope might not've been the right word." She pauses before taking the glass from Anais with a brief and distracted smile of gratitude. "I'll make the call." And play it very carefully, considering. "I think I can trust my contact, but there's a good chance DHS is going to find out fast that it's your office making inquiries into human rights violations, which goes against your supposed goals if you want AP to think you swing for their team. Unless, we route this thing through Congressman Dawson's people. Thing is, you have more sway."

Glass tinks against crystal as Anais measures out another quantity of scotch for herself. Her expression is pensive. "She's right, unfortunately. And with the council's attention comes publicity. They are not in the business of placing private pressure on governments who are violating human rights. They publicize all of their reports through Amnesty and the Red Cross. If you want the Council asking questions about the United States' treatment of certain prisoners, and you want to be considered for Homeland Security, Mr. Dawson's team might be better handling that. I can get them the contact information I have, though."

"We won't take any action until we figure out if there's anything we can do about de Souza," Nathan emphasizes. "Then we can decide whether it comes from us or them. Ideally, we'll make it go through Dawson's office AND maybe some of the contacts who lost funding to this project." Beat. "I've said it before and I'll say it again. This thing needs to implode, and the only real way to implode it is to get inside." He clears his throat before he takes the bottle of scotch and pours it into his glass, only he nurses it this time.

After a nod is given to Anais, it's with a dark expression coming over her features that Tracy decides to bring the glass of scotch idling in her hand to her mouth for a drink. She's silent — though her mind clearly isn't — for a spell, but it doesn't last. She regards the Senator carefully, calculating. "I agree that'd be ideal, but don't let your desire to be on the inside narrow your focus, Nathan."

Anais returns to her seat, settling into it with a sigh before enjoying a swallow of scotch. Cheers. Folding one leg over the other, she considers first Tracy and then Nathan. "Is that the only option then? Taking them down from the inside?" she asks, something about the other woman's remark nudging at her to ask the question. It was a question she's asked the Senator before but perhaps with "Linda" here, she'll receive a different answer.

"That's why we're pursuing all options," Nathan says as he straightens his tie. "Even if we can't follow through on all, we need a starting point." He hmmms quietly before he frowns, "You're both advisors. Advise me. We're trying to get on the inside, but if we don't get in…" he hmmms. "Then we'll have to expose them for what they are. What do you think is the best course of action? We want to avoid war. The question is: will exposing the finances and human rights practices be enough to bring this beast down? Or do we wait on the hope we make it in?" He sips at his scotch. "Opinions?"

"Getting inside's our best bet — but it's the hardest." 'Linda' takes a sip of scotch and steps ahead to set the glass near the edge of Nathan's desk. "You heard Ms. Frazier, hope is pointless," she gladly paraphrases, lips spreading into a smirk for a moment. Hopefully, it's not altogether a true statement. "In my opinion? Exposing them has a real shot at throwing them a few wrenches, yeah. Probably even a national or international scandal, but if the program has enough influence — or enough friends in high places like our pal de Souza and the President…" A shake of her head.

"It will not," Anais answers with utter confidence. "As I said, the US has a long history of ignoring that sort of negative attention. If this group is overseen by the President, there might be some scandal but certainly not enough to shut it down." She pauses to glance briefly at Tracy, lips pressing together in mild disapproval. "I believe I said that we shouldn't hope that the need won't arise, as the need is here. Hope itself is not pointless. I hope that this goes in our favor. But I don't intend to do so passively," she clarifies. "Does it have to be you, Brayden? Joining DHS."

"We need impeachment," Nathan says honestly, placing his own glass on the desk. "One way or another, that's the goal. And I don't want people like us dealing their own brand of justice. Things are out of hand as it stands, and it will only validate what they're accusing us of." He was a District Attorney, and he has to believe in the system. "As far as whether it needs to be me… we can't trust anyone else. Congressman Dawson isn't really in a position. We know they have more information than we'd like, and we really can't be sure who's for us and who's for them."

Tracy only gives Anais a guarded smile for her clarifications on the subject of hope. She certainly doesn't like to notion of doing anything passively herself. She holds back a sigh. "Look, I have no intention of sitting idly by." But. "Right now we're doing what we can. It's hardly enough — so we just try harder." Part of her job lies in the planning of things for the Senator, but even Tracy is tired of it.

Anais mulls it over while sipping from her scotch, unfocused eyes shifting towards the window. "Try harder doing what, though? The Senator can't walk into a room with a woman who might be capable of prying into his mind. Even if someone could hide what he's planning from them, that would be handing over someone with incredible influence to a group that would use it for the wrong cause. But what about someone with less influence?" She looks back to the pair of them, head tilted, expression inquisitive. "And other expertise. A human rights consultant, for instance. Someone who could advise them on how to handle unwanted attention from outside agencies."

Nathan hmmms quietly to himself. "We need to know what she can actually do before anyone goes in. I need to talk to Pete. I don't want to risk anyone unecessarily." He stands from the desk and picks up his glass of scotch. "Dammit. Why can't any of this be straightforward?" He scowls at the pair before raising the glass to his lips. "I'll count on meeting with Pete in the next couple of days and have KeLyssa press for a meeting with the President. God-willing we'll be able to conjure some plan from there."

Tracy turns to lean very lightly against the front of the desk, folding one arm across her chest while the other reaches for the glass of scotch. A considering look scans Anais up and down. "Such aaas," she says lowly. "Who. You?" A glance is then sent just over her shoulder to linger on Nathan. "You assume Peter hasn't already taken care of de Souza." Ominous. Or perhaps Tracy has some sort of faith in Nathan's brother. … Ominous.

"Or you," Anais responds to Tracy first, giving the woman a ghost of a smile. "If someone is capable of making it seem that you follow that agenda, I'm sure they could add knowledge of human rights law and how it can be exploited in the public eye as well." Sadly, the suggestion is a serious one, for she remains ignorant of Tracy's problems with the government. "Use the threat of unmasking by Dawson's group to offer up a consultant that they can use, Brayden. A consultant you'd intended to use, in the same way…" But she trails off. Ominous statement is indeed ominous, and she frowns while looking to Nathan.

"Do you know something I don't?" Nathan directs towards Tracy as he downs the rest of his scotch. However, he nearly chokes on his scotch at the notion of Tracy entering the AP undercover, causing him to fall into a fit of coughs followed by a very ironic chuckle. However, his dark merriment is subdued shortly thereafter. After a few moments he shakes his head, "No one goes in until I talk to Pete. If he has done something about de Souza, then we can proceed with the original plan."

Tracy eventually looks back to Anais with a mere spectre of a sardonic smile on her lips. At the suggestion that she could be that consultant, she gives a quiet laugh under her breath — the subdued relative of Nathan's ironic chuckle — that could be easily mistaken for a sigh. "Hm." After giving Nathan a mildly concerned look (assuring herself he can breathe again), and a shake of her head, she takes a drink. Pause. "Not at all. He seemed determined, that's all."

Anais is all too aware that she's somehow stumbled into an inside joke. Once certain that Nathan isn't about to choke, she leans forward to place her own unfinished drink on the table and moves to stand. "Then it sounds as if it's a matter of waiting. I'll hope for the best." Her own smile reappears, faint and not entirely settled, as she nods to the pair of them. "I should go, I've a dinner engagement. Thank you for your time, Senator. Ms. Johnson."

Tracy's words about Peter elicit a very reflective hrm from Nathan accompanied by a furrowed brow and frown. Peter's determination makes Nathan wary. Determined Peter isn't always rational or careful, "Now that concerns me." He stares at the glass in his hand as he offers Anais a quick nod, "I'll let you know after I speak to Pete. We may need a spy." As Anais exits the room, he sighs and frowns, "The longer we wait… the more people like us will use force. Giving the government cause to be forceful. I'll push for a meeting with the President." Will it get him anywhere? Who knows…

"'Evening," Tracy offers her goodbye to Anais, her voice flat and slightly in contrast to the bright, polite smile it's paired with. Turning to Nathan, she can do nothing but agree. "This waiting game? Is too long." On that note, she finishes off the gift of scotch and sets the glass down for good. An unsettled shiver runs through her body. "I should be going too." Though not because of a dinner engagement.

And as Tracy leaves, Nathan turns to face the window again — hatred at his own image climbing while turning the small crystal tumbler over and over in his hands. Quietly he curses to his reflection, murmuring expletives under his breath before turning back to the closed door. He constantly finds himself in impossible circumstances. Constantly battling his own demons. His own anger at the AP surmounting, their lack of best practices, and their using people like him for their own ends, combined with his own former murderous self (and his attempts against his wife's life), are enough to push him over the edge. Glaring at the door, he chucks the glass as hard as he can against it. Shattering it into pieces.

He stares in disbelief at his own actions for several moments before closing his eyes and taking several cleansing breaths, subduing his own anger for the time being. He turns back to the window and glares at his reflection, which he feels mocks him silently laughing at his mingled anger and misery, "At least I didn't throw it through the window."

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