Date: December 16, 2009
Tracy and Brayden discuss taking down the Alpha Protocol while Brayden comes to an important realization: he needs Nathan.
Finally Brayden's office has been set up the way he wants it. He has a dark coloured desk with a small computer on the top. To the side of the room is a small meeting table of sorts with four chairs around it. On top of the table rests a plethora of Chinese food, far too much for the entire office, but Brayden likes variety when it comes to Chinese food.
He sits on one of the chairs that faces the door dressed in a well tailored black suit, a blue dress shirt, and a tie that's essentially a horse head printed on it. The horse's eyes are bulged like it saw something incredibly startling. Brayden loves this tie.
He sits with pen and paper in front of him as he leans back in the chair.
"Good afternoon Mr. Petrelli." The formality mixed with friendly pleasantry comes from the so-called Linda Johnson, who approaches the meeting table, sliding the slick black strap of a polished leather briefcase/handbag off her arm on her way. In much the same way she appeared the last time, Tracy arrives with a sharp tap of high heels and a knock at the door, this time to the office itself, a room she's never seen the inside of until a few seconds ago.
She has an expectant, polite smile for Brayden, but looks can be deceiving. Unfortunately, Tracy isn't exactly at her best. Oh, she looks it: the suit jacket and pencil skirt — bare-legged despite the cold weather, what women will do for fashion — in matching shades of a dark but vivid blue, are nothing but pristine and professional, and her recently coloured hair is pulled back in that same sleek ponytail… but it's all kind of a facade at this point, isn't it? Trying to have a normal life and job. Trying is the key word, however. "I— " she starts to say succinctly, pleasantly, but— "… your tie… has eyes… on it."
Tracy is ushered in with a wave and an easy smile as Brayden stands to his feet. "Hello Ms. Johnson! Welcome! I finally got my office set up! What do you think?" He beams as he motions towards one of the chairs for Linda to take. "I have an office designated for you, but it's in need of furniture still. I promise it'll be more together by the end of the week." He offers her a dimpled grin, "I hope you like Chinese — and yes, they are eyes on my tie! It's great, isn't it? I think it adds a nice touch to an otherwise dull suit."
Already tenuous faith in the amnesiac politician — which she's hidden well, thus far! — wavers again at his choice in professional attire. Tracy is momentarily thrown, but ultimately smiles and laughs. It's so silly and he's so happy about it. "I — it's different. Not exactly the fashion I'm used to seeing on Capitol Hill." She takes a seat across from Brayden, setting her bag down gently on the floor. "The office is nice, it's coming together," she says courteously. "Thank you," she adds over the talk of an office of her own. Sitting up straighter, she delves into business. Despite the uncertainty of the words themselves, her tone remains professional. "My… office is — something I wanted to talk to you about. I'm not sure how much of a public face I can be around here. I'm more than willing to advise you, that is of course why I'm here, but I need— to be behind-the-scenes."
"Thanks. I mostly bought plaid print ties, but this one was too perfect not to get," Brayden grins at Tracy as he straightens his hideous tie. "And thank you, I think the office will be excellent for what we need. The team is coming together and there's a hopeful air about the entire place… as far as your office is concerned… you do want an office here, right? I mean, even if you're not going to be working in the front lines exposed to the public…" Clearing his throat, he reaches for two disposable plates and sets of chopsticks that are packaged with the Chinese food. He places one of the said plates in front of Tracy, "Don't tell Anais — Ms. Frazier about the plates. We're supposed to be going green. I'm pretty sure she'd want me to bring some from home or something —"
Before Tracy gets a chance to speak more on her would-be office, the name Brayden happens to say strikes an unexpected chord of familiarity and has blue eyes blinking. It's not exactly a common name. "Anais Frazier," she repeats, a rather amused smile forming on her lips. "We've met. So she works with you," she says with inquisitively raised brows. "In what capacity?" She gives Brayden another smile before she adds, "I figure I should get to know the players here. As for my office, I…" A glance down. "It'd be helpful, just— nothing too extravagant."
Brayden grins as Tracy mentions her acquaintanceship with Anais. "Ms. Frazier is very resourceful and well connected to the philanthropic community and our office is really about the community." He swallows and glances around the room before he adds, "As well as taking down the Alpha Protocol internally, of course." He offers her a strained smile. "As far as the players are concerned so far there's yourself, Hel — I mean Helen, Ms. Frazier, and several office interns who I actually don't know well yet. But it's a growing team." With a grin he asks, "I'll be sure to meet any office requirements you have. What kind of resources do you anticipate needing?"
"I'm here to be your resource. I'm used to being very efficient at my job, Mr. Petrelli." Tracy smiles self-assuredly, because hey — she's good at what she does. She knows it. The reality has changed, however. Half her expertise had to do with her contacts and without those…
Well, she'll just have to be even more self-reliant. And steal some of those interns. Nevertheless, the woman's confident smile drops away, visibly struggling to return and only half-succeeding as she tips her head down, rigid. "I think you might be underestimating the Protocol."
Frown. "Perhaps I am, but then —" Brayden hmms to himself. It's been an odd few weeks to say the least. "And while there's a lot I don't know… I'm aware of how dangerous they are. My brother's in hiding because of them." He purses his lips together as he shovels some shanghai noodles onto his plate. Quietly he studies her, considering whether or not to explain the plan. "There are legitimately dangerous targets, you know." Pause. "I have an inside source that's feeding them to me. I want to redirect attention to said targets and while they're being acquired… we need to find a way to cut funding for the program or instate laws that would require the completion of an illegal act before apprehension…"
Tracy snaps her gaze up across the table with hard eyes, quite ignoring the array of takeout and non-eco-friendly plates. "You have a source? Can they be trusted?" she asks with an instant, burning need-to-know, unmasked in her gaze. The more she speaks, the lower her voice goes, the more intense; less the consummate professional she becomes and more the person who's actually been hurt by the government organization in question.
"Maybe, there are people out there that're 'legitimately dangerous', but that's just what they tell themselves to make it look good on paper. Any one of these people can be legitimately dangerous on paper."
… Not to mention she's bitter.
Leaning in over the table slightly, an elbow at its edge, she gestures. "I saw some of the financials on this thing. It's out of this world, the resources that're being drained into it. And, they need it to take down people like— people with … who can do things the restive the public can't. But money's a good angle to cut. It'd be a good start."
And that's the question Brayden's been asking himself since they met: can Noah be trusted? But then, "I think we have an understanding. We both have something to lose in it all. And maybe it's a set-up, but —" he winces a bit " — another more reliable source thought it prudent I align myself with the first." He sighs at his own cryptic language. "I'm sorry for being vague."
"My understanding is the people we'd target will have hurt people on purpose in the past. Accidents happen, but people who are willfully damaging others with their… unique talents need to be stopped. And I'm not talking about a defensive move either — people will do anything to defend themselves, these people just happen to have built in weapons."
"Maybe there's a way we can get an inquiry into the budget. I'm almost positive the American people wouldn't be pleased to know that so much money is being fed into domestic security when so many other institutions are such a mess." Hmmm. "But our office can't be the ones calling for the inquiry. We need to feed the info to someone on the outside at a budgetary meeting or something."
Oh God. He had to go and say everything that's going to make her feel hypocritical from here on out. There is, for an instant, a flash of very misdirected, cold anger in the woman's eyes before she glances off to one side of the office. She leans back and hangs on to the arms of the chair rather tightly, making a valiant effort to remain professional and keep her cool (or warmth, as the case may be). Her own built in weapon really doesn't need to make an appearance right about now. "I might know some people on the finance committee who'd be interested," she says, slowly looking back to Brayden. While there's anger in her words, they're even. "Someone also needs to get in there for a investigation into human rights violations. At least one agent was already arrested, and… I know — I think the President knows what was going on — they call their headquarters Building 26 — which has to mean he's signed off on it. But if there's enough of a call for inquiry…"
The flicker of anger in Tracy's eyes is met with a very momentarily raised eyebrow, but nothing more. Sure he's curious about her past, but sometimes it's better not to know, especially under such dire circumstances. "An arrest then? How can we get a call for an inquiry? Clearly, they can't be allowed to persist in human rights violations — we're America. We should be leading the way in human rights rather than falling on damaging practices. Beyond that things need to remain semi secretive. My understanding is most people with abilities just want to live out their lives as always, in which case they should be allowed to." Brayden frowns as he crosses his arms over his chest.
"Essentially we're talking about a legal coup, aren't we? I mean, if the President knows — if he's mandated ill-treatment of prisoners and hasn't put a stop to the project… then we essentially need to overthrow the government. Legally." He twitches. When he'd set out to find himself, this was not at all what he had in mind. He buries his face in his hands, and curses under his breath. He mumbles to himself more than Tracy, "I need my memory back, don't I…?"
Tracy says, "Essentially? Yes. A tall order, I know…" Tracy quiets, if only for a moment, to study the man across the table — particularly in light of his mumbled words, even though they weren't for her benefit. Abruptly, she gets to her feet and stands tall in front of the table, hands spread. "I don't know much about who you were before, but right now? You hired me for my advice."
And boy, is he going to get it.
"Someone has to be the catalyst that makes this Protocol business all go away where Ivory clearly failed. I want those sons of bitches shut down more than anyone, but I'll be honest with you. You have good ideas, and I can give you more, but I don't actually have any faith that you're the one to pull it off, I just have nowhere else to go." Tracy cuts off the beginnings of a scoffing laugh and smirk by giving Brayden a legitimately apologetic look, hesitating before carrying on earnestly. "Look, if, somewhere in that mind of yours, you have the experience to help you get the job done, then yeah, you need to get your memory back. Someone has to step up. It's all well 'n' good to talk about it but first things first you need to be prepared. And you need that Senate seat."
Also standing to his feet, Brayden turns to stare at the window. "Then I need something from you Ms. Johnson." He clears his throat while staring at the city outside. "I need you to go to Pete if I start acting… malicious." He won't explain. He couldn't explain if he wanted. Once again his arms are crossed comfortably over his chest as he internally fights his concealed demons.
"I need to call Pete. There's something — something we haven't tried yet that might be done to recall these experiences. And like it or not Ms. Johnson, I'm one of the few aware of what's going on. Beyond that I'm one of the very few willing, and able to do something about it." He turns to face her and then steps behind his desk to pick up his phone. "We have our work cut out for us, and I better get to it…"
It might be hard to see Tracy stiffen and nearly look away, uncomfortable, every time she's called 'Ms. Johnson', given her expression is already hardened — but it's no less true. "I hope that you're right." We'll see. Her tone is far more neutral, dull, than it is hopeful. The man has her eyes narrowing in critical curiosity as she follows soon after him to the desk, standing in front of it much the same way she stood tall over the table. "Malicious," she repeats with a clearly questioning tone, not understanding. Thus: "Why?" She's not willing to let it slip by. To say she has trust issues these days would be beyond an understatement.
Brayden says nothing for quite some time. His biggest fear realized would involve Logan's reemergence and the potential murder of his wife and children. As his jaw tightens he turns to face the window again and closes his eyes tightly. He answers to the window rather than Tracy, "My former self wasn't always the kindest." Beat. "I can't lose sight of who I am despite who I was." He presses his lips together. "First sign of trouble you tell Pete. Please." Not that Tracy knows him — not who he was and not who he is.
More vague than Tracy would have liked, and not exactly promising. She doesn't push it, however, even if she thinks she could. "Okay," she answers, not entirely without question, her voice more than a little skeptical. Her tolerance for "trouble" right about now is low. "I'll … leave you with your phone calls. I'll be in again soon, we have a lot've ground to cover. And, I'd like to speak with your publicist as soon as possible. You know how to reach me."
"Thank you Ms. Johnson. I'll make sure Helen gets in touch." As Linda leaves the room, Brayden dials a number that he's committed to memory. He gets voicemail, "Hi Pete. It's Nathan calling. Look, I need your help… I need my memories back to resolve what's going on with the Alpha Protocol… without Nathan's experience I'm hooped… call me." Beat. "Please." That said, the phone is returned to the hook with a sigh. He knows he's opening up a can of worms, but there's no avoiding it this time.