2009-11-23: Politically Incorrect



Date: November 23, 2009


A fake blonde meets a real blonde. Lies are told, persuasion is given and questions are asked.

"Politically Incorrect"

A phone store/Starbucks

Late afternoon, and winter has decided to make its presence known; the streets outside are awash in an icy rain that doesn't appear to have any intention of letting up. The interior of the generic phone and services store is cozy, well-lit and set with gleaming glass displays full of the latest miniscule plastic status symbols. Salesmen who bear an uncanny resemblance to those who wander used car lots (although in better quality suits) wander the floor, approaching the customers who enter either with motive or simply to escape the weather.

Lena is one of these customers, and she looks nothing like nothing so much as a bedraggled waif in sodden mix-and-match clothing (jeans, old sneakers and a t-shirt under a Salvation Army-bin jacket) and a bad blonde dye job. Wet tendrils of hair are plastered to her makeup-less cheeks. She is studiously attempting to ignore the attentions of one suspicious salesman while studying a wall display. Bounced restlessly between her hands is a small black phone, presumably the piece the teen is looking to replace.

A woman with long, not fake blonde hair turns away from one of the service counters, a new phone already in her hand and set up thanks to the young man behind the desk. Though dressed down, Tracy is, nevertheless, refined: in a trim-fitting, vivid green V-neck sweater, ever-present string of elegant pearls, and a pair of dark jeans that cost more than most. It's not warm enough to battle the chill that's out this afternoon; even she needs a coat. It's long and black, a peacoat left unbuttoned.

None of the well put-together attire matches her mood; the normally cool-headed lobbyist is having something of a gradual breakdown. She doesn't wait to leave the store to use the new phone, instead whisking past the other customers, such as Lena, to linger inside near the door. "Senator Wynn's office," she tells the first voice she hears after placing a call. A pause stretches as she's put through. "It's Tracy. Any news? … Yeah, neither've I. Well, the police are gonna do what they can but it's only a matter of time. Yeah. No, you're his assistant, cancel all his appointments for this week."

"I swear to god, man, I'm gonna get something. Let me decide, alright?" That remark comes in response to a look rather than a question, Lena allowing a flash of temper to show at the way the salesman is hovering nearby. He's given a cross look that causes a slight retreat but the punk is just going to have to resign herself to having a shadow. "Goddamn paranoid…" The muttering proves that Lena is aware of this but not entirely happy about it.

Her discontent tapers off as Tracy's conversation is overheard, however. The muttering ends, and a few lazy steps carry her towards the floor case near the door. A casual glance would show that her head has tilted; if Lena were any sort of animal, her ears would perked up at the mention of the name Wynn.

Of course, were she at any good at eavesdropping, she might make an effort to not look at the blonde on the phone. But the teenager's blue eyes keep cutting up to the side, picking out the little details of Tracy's appearance even as she sidles even closer. Maybe she's admiring that phone. In fact, a grin is prepared just on the off chance her oh so subtle snooping is caught!

"I'm well aware of that— well then why don't you call the department in D.C.? I— has anyone out-of-the-ordinary tried to reach him?" Frustration builds and Tracy listens to the person on the other end of the line, directing a cold glare of annoyance at a random phone display in lieu of the assistant states away. It may not look like it, but it's an attempt to calm down — and it's during this attempt that she catches sight of someone eyeing her.

Tracy wasn't planning on giving the bottle blonde punk kid the time of day, clearly; she looks Lena up and down as if seeing her for the first time, despite walking right past her a moment ago. Vaguely unimpressed but mostly disinterested, she turns her back. "…Fine, forward them to my e-mail," she snaps tiredly. "And if Petrelli is in there, send me his number too. … No, the other one. … I have to let you go before I break another phone." Pause. "Never mind…" The woman just hangs up the shiny new phone and sighs audibly.

There's a moment of silence and then a voice pipes up at Tracy's elbow. "Hey!" It's a cheerful greeting; Lena has been living with the kind of looks she just received for awhile. But this time she has a purpose! Chumminess in order to satisfy a not entirely natural spark of curiosity. "I hope I'm not bugging you or anything but you mind if I ask you a question?"

A step backwards is taken then, and a glance shot at the salesmen. See? She isn't invading another customer's personal space. They're having a civil conversation here.

"I know this is like totally rude," Lena goes on, her eyes shifting back up to study Tracy's expression. The grin she's wearing is a touch uneasy. Abashed, one could say. "But did you say Senator Wynn? That's like…the dude who was on the TV looking for those kids, right?"

Tracy slips her new, unfrozen phone into the purse that hangs over her left shoulder — stylish as it is utilitarian — and, just as Lena pipes up, she turns around swiftly, ready to march out into the icy rain. Her abrupt turnabout serves double-duty. Why? Because is that girl is talking to her. She gives Lena a look that, while stand-offish, contains a glint of curiosity. "…No, it's alright." Eavesdropper. "And yes, that was Senator Wynn," she answers slowly, questioningly. A civil but dubious smile spreads along neatly glossed lips, flashing once to the salesperson — everything's fine — before she re-focuses on Lena expectantly.

Lena also glances over, lifting her eyebrows and grinning delight at the sales shark. She might have A Purpose, but she isn't above gloating at having his hovering warded off by someone with authority. When he does back off, a look of gratitude is transferred to Tracy. "Jesus, you gotta teach me that trick…he's been like glued to me since I got in here. Oh, um…I'm being rude, I know I am." The useless phone she's been juggling is transferred to her left hand so the right can be extended towards the older woman. Said hand is gloveless, and Lena may or may not be concentrating on putting out a dose of low level weed relaxation. Because she's devious like that.

"I'm Daria. Hope I'm not bothering you, I just kinda…um. Well, you know I kinda overheard and we're doing this serious hard project in my political science class, you know? All about the Senate and stuff. Are you like his secretary or something?"

"Appearance goes a long way," Tracy replies with an easy confidence before extending her left hand — luckily not the right which, while she's deviously not protecting it today, is attached to an injured but healing arm. Her grip is firm, solid and warm, the kind of handshake a politician might have, though a bit softer and friendlier. "Tracy. And no. No, I'm not his secretary," she says with a laugh, as if the notion is ludicrous. Her pupils dilate slightly against the clear blue of her eyes and her hurry to leave is strangely slowed down. "No, I'm his advisor. I work closely with the Senator on all important decisions and matters of his office."

"Seriously? Ohmigod, that's awesome!" 'Daria' sounds genuinely thrilled at that tidbit of information, her grin rising and her eyebrows going up another few notches. The handshake is held a fraction longer than might be considered suitable before being released. "I'm sorry about the secretary thing, it's just…you don't see a lot of chicks who do the important stuff, right? Like you…anyway, I heard you say the Senator wasn't around, huh? I really shouldn't have been eavesdropping but I was looking at phones and I saw yours and…" The girl's shoulders are rolled, as if to suggest it was all just beyond her control. "Is everything okay? You looked kinda stressed out," she goes on, forehead rumpling in a poor approximation of sympathy.

"Plenty of women have important positions," Tracy is quick to answer, seeming eager to make sure this young woman knows it. "In politics too, even if we have to work harder to get there sometimes."

Even low level relaxation is a complete change to Tracy's system, which has been on pins. Relaxed even a little bit isn't something she's known for … a while, save for moments with Ivory and now those are gone. Whatever Lena did is enough to not only relax her, but confuse her, and the more she notices it the more it takes effect.

"…Yeah— " She gestures with the hand clutching the strap of her purse. "Yeah, everything is fine," she lies. "That was a private matter I'm afraid I can't speak about. I'd be more than happy to answer any questions for your political science class, but I…" She stares off toward the doors.

"Oh…" Lena's worthless enough at this Super Spy thing that there's no hiding the way her expression droops in disappointment. "Hey, I understand. Top secret government stuff and all. I was kinda hoping maybe to get an interview with him, you know? That'd totally win me an A and I'm scraping by a little…oh, hey, you alright?" The girl sidesteps to bring herself closer to Tracy's line of sight, eyebrows knitting together in unfeigned concerned. A little nervous that she might have given the blonde too much? Definitely. "You should take a deep breath and smile, my mom always said that helps if your head's gone all spinny…"

Tracy very slowly brings her gaze back to 'Daria'. She smiles, more sincere — or at least more natural and relaxed — and laughs under her breath, a sound that is more dismissive of the girl's concern than cheerful. She shakes her head. See, no spinny. "No, I'm. I don't know. I'm fine." Honestly, she feels a touch more than fine. "Sorry." Back on point. "I'm afraid Ivor— " Correcting her rare slip after a slow, languid blink of mascara'd eyes, she goes on, "Senator Wynn wouldn't be available for an interview any time soon himself, he's… well he's not available."

It's easier for Lena to find an answering smile, the all too familiar mannerisms being displayed by Tracy a fine reassurance. "You don't have to apologize, Tracy! But I thought Senators are supposed to like always be available for voters," she remarks in a tone that is just shy of teasing. Too familiar by far for someone she's just met. "I mean, like, I could totally vote for the other guy the next time there's an election. But I guess you guys hear that a lot, huh? Do you know when he's gonna be back?"

"Are you even old enough to vote?" The question escapes skeptically, ever-so-slightly snappish before Tracy can censor herself which, in all honesty, has little to do with the affect Lena has had on her. She smiles, however, a glimpse of one of her brighter, white smiles that even appears apologetic. "He's normally very accessible. He should be back soon." Vague, the answer doesn't sound as convincing nor as sure as an answer spun from the advisor's mouth typically would.

A normal teenager might take the hint and back down, or even behave as if embarrassed at having provoked Senator Wynn's advisor into such a tone of voice. But Lena…Daria…is nothing if not dogged. Moreso because Tracy seems pliable enough, overall, rather than due to any innate courage on her part. She does however frown, very briefly. "Huh, that's a shame…like a week, maybe? 'Cause the project's due…oh, yeah, totally! I just turned and registered first thing!"

A winning smile is attempt but it is nowhere near as polished. "We get extra credit, see? Maybe I could interview you instead. Except I kinda have to buy a phone first, mine quit working," she adds, giving a genuinely glum look at the item in her hand. "I was expecting a call too, it sucks."

A week? Hopefully. Since 'Daria' moves on, however, so does Tracy. "…So did mine, I know what you mean. Well Daria, I…" She glances in the direction of the door once more; this time her look is less blank and more considering. Her words arrive slowly, but clearly. "…y'know, I remember my political science classes. I know how hard it is to get an A. I would've killed for an interview like this for a project. I don't… actually have anywhere to be," she admits; as much as an agreement as Lena is going to get. "So sure, I'll let you interview me. But, I'm waiting on an important call. If it comes, I will have to leave right away." She gestures to the expanse of the store. Go forth, student, get your phone. "Go ahead. I'll wait."

"Oh, you are so fu—freakin' awesome! Thank you, Tracy!" The teen brightens, giving her toothiest smile and making a 'stay here' gesture. It wouldn't do for the advisor to see the name Daria has to sign on her purchase slip. She darts off to the counter, drawing looks from the sales staff; the nice thing about being suspected of being up to no good is that one receives prompt service when it appears it's almost time to leave.

The process of buying a phone (the cheapest they have in the place) takes only a few minutes, with another couple thrown in to get the previous number set up again. Then Lena is skipping back to Tracy's side, having forgone a bag in favor of slipping her new gadget in her coat pocket. "Don't worry if your phone rings, I totally understand. If this guy calls I'm gonna have to jet too, you know? You wanna go grab a coffee, maybe some chips or cookies or something? There's a Starbucks around the corner."

While waiting, Tracy moves to lean with her better arm against the wall beside the doors, just barely out of the way of customers traipsing in and out of the bad weather. It's the rain she watches, a foggy expression of rather great contemplation on her face. The fall of the rain and ice sucks her in, becoming her whole world until Lena jars her out of it. "Hm?" she says distantly as she turns, stands up straighter. "Certainly, that sounds perfect." She pushes the door open into the street, holding it for a second for the younger woman. "What school do you go to?"

Lena slides through the door, catching its edge once outside in order to return the favor. Her free hand is used to tug the coat's hood up over her head, its tatty edge framing her face. "Uh…what?" She glances out towards the street, just to hide the look of blank panic. Think, Super Spy, think! "Columbus? Yeah…you know it? It's not bad, the teachers are actually all pretty cool. So how'd you get to be an advisor for Mister…Senator Wynn?" The question is a little rush, but hopefully that can explained away by the wince that occurs when she steps out into the poor weather.

Tracy steps out into the rain and takes up strolling next to the younger blonde ("blonde"), squinting against its not-quite-tapering downpour. She picks up her pace, heading briskly to the corner where the place known as Starbucks lies. Here and every other corner. "You could say he made a good offer," she answers with a laugh under her breath, smiling in unabashedly fond recollection. "I used to work for the Governor— Governor Malden. That was… while he was still the acting Governor and not in jail. Columbus?" Tracy's voice slightly raised against the sounds of the weather and the city. "…Columbus State? In Georgia?"

Both laugh and tone of voice earn a look and raised eyebrows, Lena's grin becoming rather, well, knowing. There is only one meaning for the concept of fond in the nineteen year old's world. "Oh yeah? He is kinda hot, isn't he? I mean, like, I have a boyfriend and all but it's okay to look." That the remark is entirely inappropriate doesn't even occur to her. "Not Georgia! Columbus High School. It's in the…Bronx? Yeah. You probably don't know it 'cause you're like…well." A hand is flapped to indicate Tracy's well to do appearance, her grin showing she means no offense. "I graduate in the spring, it's this advanced course…for…AP credits. Hey, here it is!"

She hastens to get the door for the lady in the cast, ducking her head as she goes.

Tracy gives the young woman a quizzical look as she slips past her, inside the sanctum of the coffee shop, but quietly thanks her under her breath and seems to accept that 'Daria' could be a high school student. "I'm not from New York," she says by way of explanation to counter Lena's justification by hand-flap. Universities, she knows. High schools, not so much, especially high schools in the Bronx.

She heads for the line to the counter. "Whether or not the Senator is 'hot' isn't interview material," Tracy says with a mild — very mild — tone of chastisement, grinning secretively with a glow to her rain-soaked features. "But off the record— he is a handsome man."

Lena was prepared to be very, very nervous about the near disaster, especially when Tracy uses the tone of voice that all kids recognize as signaling danger. But look, a grin! She casts a briefly anxious look to check for the older woman's emotional state and visibly relaxes upon finding it less severe than expected. "Hey, I wouldn't tell! And I'd know you were totally lying anyway if you said he wasn't," she says with much the same look on her face. The end of the line is reached, and she stuffs her hands into her pockets while studying the menu board. "Oh, awesome! They got the pumpkin spice lattes in!"

Score! Let the fidgeting begin!

"So, like…since you're his advisor, you kinda know everything he does, right? You're the one who tells him what's what, and what he should do?" It isn't easy, drawing upon an education received three long years ago. Lena's memory is murky at best. "What'd you think of that video they're showing all the time now?"

Tracy is still grinning by the time Lena gets to the next bout of questioning, which bodes well for her. "…Not everything," she concedes with another laugh under her breath. "But mostly. Yes. I have to be up-to-date on everything, if not one step ahead." She does darken at the mention of the video, a frown threatening to surface as she looks down. "That video was absolutely unnecessary. In the end, it's just inflammatory." She looks at the so-called student, brows raised, shaking her head. She looks away a moment later, up to the menu. The advisor's voice lowers, practically a mumble. "It's ridiculous." It barely seems like she's talking to Lena at all.

"Hey…I'm sorry." Lena's brows lift, and like any warm-hearted and sympathetic youngster would, she lifts her hand from its pocket and reaches out in an attempt to touch Tracy's hand with light fingertips. There's no ulterior motive there, nope, none at all. "It's just, like…what everyone's talking about, you know? Word on the street, right? Some pretty crazy special effects but you can do a helluva lot with an iMac nowadays. Still…I mean, the stuff they said about the government…it's enough to give you the creeps, huh? You want to think they're looking out for everyone," she says quietly.

The line moves forward. Lena takes two steps ahead, her head cocked to listen to whatever answer Tracy gives.

Faintly surprised by the apology and the quick touch, Tracy looks at Lena suddenly with wide eyes; even on relax mode, her gaze is of the analytical variety. With another wave of relaxation flowing in, though, the woman gives her left shoulder a shrug, shakes her head again and looks toward the line. "They aren't after everyone. Definitely not children." She brings a hand to her forehead as though tired and steps ahead when the line moves again. "Unfortunately, the Senator hasn't … been able to make his statement. I'm sorry I can't offer more."

"Oh." Again that odd note of disappointment in the faux-blonde's tone. Her hand drops back to her side and she looks forward, eyebrows drawing together. Even as horrible as she is at this, Lena knows the next question in her mind is a bad one to ask. It comes out anyway, and even before the last word has left her lips, the young woman is wincing. "What's the cut off age on children, then? Eighteen, right?"


Suddenly even a pumpkin spice latte isn't enough to make Lena want to continue the charade. She draws herself up to her full unimpressive height and shoves her hands hard into her coat's pockets. "Hey, I should get going. It's…uh. Late. Yeah, Mom's gonna flip. Sorry to hijack you and all. You should have some coffee or something, you look like you need it," she says, sliding backwards and then turning to hasten towards the door.

The question is a strange one, given the context, throwing Tracy slightly; not instantly into suspicion, but uncertainty, sure, given that Lena is so prepared to hurry out afterward. It's not that late. "Cut off … for what— " She spins about, taking a step after Lena. "Hey … blonde… girl," she calls out as though through a haze. A pleasant haze, but nonetheless … the girl's name (fake or not!) is floating out of reach. She seems to be about to try to stop Lena from going, but offers instead: "Good … luck on your project then."

Blonde Girl does not pause in her exit, does not even look around. She's got her hood up, her shoulders hunched and her head down. This, friends and neighbors, is why Lena should leave this sort of thing to the professionals. The bell above the door jingles when it's pushed open, admitting a gust of cold, humid air and allowing the young woman to slip out.

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