2010-05-15: Reverse Midas



Date: May 15th, 2010


George and Tracy are both having a bad day; luck brings them to the same place, at the same time to … continue to have a bad day.

"Reverse Midas"

Kojin Sushi

Washington, D.C.

First, still no word from Hallis, which means… well, he isn't sure what it means; she's dropped out of touch for several weeks at a time on two separate occasions, though under rather different circumstances. Then he lost his ticket stub on the train, which left things nice and tense for a while until he thought to look up the bank record on his phone. And then his car broke down shortly after he left the office. With all the nearby repair shops already closed for the night, he grabbed a motel room instead - cab fare would have cost as much, anyway - then headed out to scrounge up some dinner. That sushi place down the block looks decent enough, he thinks to himself, leafing through the motel guide before heading back out of the lobby and toward the curb.

It stands to be wondered, then, whether or not it's George's bad luck or a change for the good that leads him to Kojin Sushi.

It's busy in the small establishment, a sea of strangers and servers in neat red outfits and sushi chefs in white. It's far from chaotic, though — the place has a nice, if simple atmosphere. Not exactly zen, but it's calm. The noise is just a quiet din.

A red counter winds past the preparation area, which is covered by a glass dome and lined by black wooden chairs. It's on one of these chairs, in the middle, that Tracy Strauss has taken up residence. Not permanent, but she has been here awhile — and alone, at that. In neat white denim and a grey blazer with three-quarter length sleeves, her perpetually well-dressed state speaks of having somewhere to be, but she doesn't. She's leaned over the counter on one elbow staring at a cup of tea that proves to be completely and utterly uninspiring.

While the relative tranquility of the restaurant is visible from the outside, it doesn't directly extend that far. A sensation of teeth on edge, in fact: something unusual is about to happen, and not something he was consciously trying to bring about, either. Rather than risk having it open the door right in his face, he steps inside first, takes a quick look around—

Aha, that would probably explain it. What's Tracy doing here? It's not all that close to her office or her home - that he knows of, but at least one of those has probably changed since a month ago. "Looks like your tea's getting cold," he offers, walking toward a nearby chair and resting a hand atop the back of it.

The sound of the voice comes as a surprise to Tracy — not because there's a voice there, she's quite aware of when someone comes and goes, even if she doesn't seem it — but because that voice is addressing her. Surprised or not, however, the woman is slow to react, easing up out of her lean only a touch and gradually turning her head, still upon her hand, to look up.

"So it is," she states blandly, caring ever so much about her tea. She gives George a vaguely critical up-and-down, but it's half-mast in comparison to her usual sharp study. "Congressman."

At that, he shakes his head. "Please, just call me George. I've never liked being called a title unless it goes both ways." Which it does, occasionally - Felix Ivanov has always carried himself in a way that shouts 'Agent', for instance - but those are few and far between.

"Mind if I join you?" he adds, gesturing to the empty seat. "I could help you kill time till the waiter comes back around." Looks like you could do with a distraction, he doesn't add out loud.

There's a slow blink from Tracy and she gradually turns her head away from George, moistening her lips before a smooth, lazy answer rolls around. "Sure." Her voice becomes ever-so-slightly embittered when she adds, "Why not." She lifts her head from its prop and loops a few fingers around her small teacup, tilting it toward her only to set it back upright.

For someone who might be in need of a distraction, the political advisor — off-work, to be sure — sounds awfully bored by her company already.

George nods, pulling out the chair and settling in, and orders a bottle of Asahi as the waiter does pass by. He's got some time of his own to kill, after all.

For a minute, he just sits there, trying to decide what to say first. "I'm sorry," he finally adds. "If I hadn't left when I did… well, maybe things would've gone differently." Better or worse? No way of knowing, now.

"Mm." Tracy gives a small sound of her incredulous disapproval, as subdued as it is — as though she hasn't fully committed to the conversation. It's accompanied by the faintest lift of her brows and roll of her eyes. "I highly doubt that." She looks to George a moment later, really looks at him this time. "But you know what. You should be sorry." She lets that sit for just a second before giving a humorous little chuckle under her breath, self-deprecating as the smile it's accompanied by. "We both should be. To Nathan."

George sighs, crossing his arms on the countertop and resting his chin on top of them. "I'd tell him that if I could," he replies. "He saved a lot of lives, probably including both of ours. But I'm sorry for you, too… I'm sure you won't have trouble finding work, but I could tell you were his friend too, in a way I never was." Understatement! "Puts my own shake-up in perspective, anyway."

The congressman's understatement actually draws a genuine laugh out of Tracy; at least the instinct to laugh is genuine, the sound itself is muffled and cut short. Yeah — some understatement. She folds her arms on the counter as well, though she doesn't rest on them to mimic George. A more dismal, cynical expression settles over her face, natural as anything. It's been there a lot lately. It's been her default since mid-April. The 15th. "Pushing for that press conference got him…" Killed? "… knifed," she says. "I dunno if you've been paying attention, but my last employers, they've all suffered some horrible fate so, yeah, I could find work. It's just, my professional track record is leading me to believe maybe I'm the kiss of death."

She has a point there. Senator Wynn, though he didn't overdose till after he resigned. And Governor Malden… and there's still that business about the knife in the back of Malden's career maybe having Tracy and Ivory's fingerprints on it. Still no proof, though, so it seems there's little he can do but carry the knowledge around himself.

"I can understand why you'd feel that way," George answers her, "but really, I don't see it that way— and I think I would, if it were true." He sounds entirely serious about that. "A lot of people in our line of work, even if they don't actually have tragedy strike, they certainly run the risk of it."

Tracy believes George doesn't think so, and what he goes on to say might be truth or something like it. As she looks at him with raised brows — perfectly poised to say are you serious? — and an open mouth ready to contradict him, it should be clear that she is not as convinced that she's had nothing to do with the fates of Malden, Ivory, and Nathan. She knows for a fact that she did. "You don't know the half of it," she assures him scathingly.

A sidelong glance - no, no one is paying them any obvious attention, at least - then George turns to meet Tracy's gaze directly, wondering. He could have developed telepathy - that would be awfully useful in so many different situations, even though it would probably bring troubles of its own - but no, his ability is so maddeningly random. He'll have to deal with this the hard way. "Would it help if I did?" he finally says.

Tracy is in the process of sitting up a bit straighter when George asks that question, and she has to look to him again. Her gaze, especially prone to iciness today, lingers, as she attempts to discern his meaning. She takes several moments to weigh her reply. Ultimately, she curves her lips into the vaguest of wry smiles, gives her blonde head a tired sort of shake, and answers honestly as she can: "Probably not."

With a shrug, George turns his attention back to the restaurant long enough to order a plate of spicy tuna rolls, or at least he hopes he got that idea across the language barrier. "I suppose I'm lucky, then," he continues, "I only seem to have the reverse Midas touch when it comes to my personal life. Little less earth-shattering."

Tracy's professional and personal lives tend to be interrelated … but instead of saying this, she only presses her lips together a moment and rolls her gaze away. "I'm not looking for pity," she points out frankly as a reminder. Cheerless as she probably comes off, she's not trying to be poor me. A hand comes up to brush her hair back. "I could just do without a little less shattering." In more ways than one. She brings a look around to George, pointed, and her voice quiets. "I'm sure we all could."

Do George's own troubles count as shattering, compared to— ? No, best not to try to over-analyze it; they're close enough for, er, government work. "If you need a friend— well, not that I've been much good at it lately, but at least you know where to find me."

If she's being honest, Tracy doesn't even know what she needs. But she's not being honest — not that honest, with George. The cool, grim expression the advisor has been wearing softens to reveal a rather lost look in blue eyes. "Thanks." Insincere — of voice, anyway. Right now, what she does know she needs is to not be sitting in a restaurant over a cup of cold tea with her partner in getting Nathan knifed. She twists away from George to slide her purse off the back of her chair and starts to get to her feet.

Well, if Tracy doesn't know what she needs, then George certainly doesn't, either - nor does it look like he'll be figuring it out today, except that right now she seems to need some alone time. Nodding, he waves a hand as she stands up, and continues waiting for his dinner to show up. Maybe at least the little things will manage to stabilize before long.

Pushing the chair in toward the counter, Tracy hitches a thumb under the strap of her purse and waves (barely) a few fingers at the congressman as she prepares to whisk past. "See ya, George," she says, sounding a good deal more like the end of an uninteresting business conversation than a face-to-face — she's already distracted as she weaves through Kojin's little dinner rush to make her way out the door, visible all the way past the broad window on the street until she vanishes past it.

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