2010-02-14: Snarky Cupcakes



Date: February 14th, 2010


It's a small, snarky world out there.

"Snarky Cupcakes"

New York City

As far as diners go, this one situated on a Manhattan corner is nice. Upscale, for its purpose. Though the glow of a pink neon sign beckons customers at the window, it lacks the and homey atmosphere one might automatically think of when they think "diner". It's dim, a comfortable mix of dark greens, neutrals, stainless steel and cut flowers from the florist's shop across the street. There is no checker print or waitresses in aprons to be found, though there are certainly diner booths and a counter lined with stools. It's calm, not very busy.

It's at one of these stools that Tracy Strauss sits, looking inarguably impatient and at odds with the comfortable pose she has settled into for God knows how long, her fist curled against her head, elbow propped neatly beside a white mug. She's chosen a stool at the far end with a good view of the door, the adjacent window to the street, and the tiny TV above the heads of the not-so-bustling diner staff behind the counter. She has a black coat folded over the stool beside her, leaving her in a thin grey cardigan and its matching shirt and dark tailored jeans. Neatly pulled back, her hair is blonde again, not that anyone in this place would know that it recently wasn't. Hopefully.

For Tori Duffy, New York City still has many undiscovered corners and nooks to explore — she tries not to eat at the same place, unless with friends insisting on it, and she only has a couple of friends from the grad program at Columbia to speak of. Both are home for the weekend at nearby Northeastern cities, but for Tori there's no "home" to go do laundry at or get Mom's apple pie, unless she heads across quite a few miles of Atlantic Ocean. She steps into the diner, and finding it to her liking, heads to the counter. It looks less sad to eat alone if you eat at the counter, rather than in a spacious booth. It's convenient and fast, as if you might be headed somewhere important once you're done.

The young woman sits a couple of stools down from Tracy, unbuttoning her own houndstooth coat to sit beside her before reaching for one of the menus held between a napkin container and a bottle of ketchup.

The newcomer garners the most fleeting of glances from the blonde down the way, as everyone who has enters the diner in the last while has, but when Tori is quickly deemed a) unthreatening/a stranger and b) uninteresting, she smoothly goes back to staring dully into space. It's a thrilling night, let me tell you.

Above, the small TV as the news program switches stories. The reporter is speaking: "… Senator Nathan Petrelli's office has yet to make an updated comment on…"

The volume is so low so as to be almost inaudible, but not quite. Tracy sits up straighter, her attention honing in on the TV, although her interest is only halfway sparked. Still, she's sure she heard the name Nathan Petrelli, though the screen has yet to show a picture.

It's then that a smiling middle-aged waitress appears and slides a plate in front of the only two ladies at the counter. Cupcakes, rife with bright pink and red icing and candy hearts. "On the house," she chirps. "Happy Valentine's Day." Apparently dessert is allowed to be served before supper on V-Day.

Tori doesn't notice the blonde who doesn't really notice her — at least at first — but she does notice the woman sitting up straight and looking up at the television. She glances up too, but sees nothing to be so excited about. Cupcakes on the other hand? That earns a grin. "Cheers," she says, which of course means Thanks. "How lovely." She glances down at the menu. "Besides the sugar coma, I'd like a bowl of French onion soup, thanks," she adds. "And a Coke." She's on a student's budget, as most of the money she used to travel with is gone toward rent.

Tracy, on the other hand, is mostly bewildered by the cupcake, or maybe the reminder of the day. Time flies when you're on the road to revenge, apparently. Happy Valentine's Day. Right. She's really feeling the love. "Thanks," she says all the same with a flash of a polite smile. "Hey— " she gets the attention of the waitress back after Tori's order. "Can you turn that up?"

The waitress obliges both women; soup and coke coming up, and a few pushes of a remote that inches the volume up a few notches before she whisks off.

Behind the standard neon green volume bars, the man on the screen goes on. "…last month since his absence. There is no update— " A stock photo of a smiling Nathan, a few months old, swoops up into the top-right corner. " — on the health of the Senator or clue as to when he'll return to business as usual…"

Tori was none-too-interested in the US politics on the television, but the increased volume makes her look up anyway, curious as to what the blonde is so very interested in — more interested in than free cupcakes! The Brit's dark eyes widen and she sets down the cupcake she'd been starting to peel from its wrapper. Senator?

"Wh-Who is that?" Tori says, turning to Tracy, her face pale. Is Brayden sick or missing or what?

Tracy quite the opposite response: with an unconvinced lift of her brows, she rolls her eyes away from the television an emits a quiet laugh under her breath. It's hardly a laugh at all — more like a subdued scoff. She's about to reach for her coffee cup when she rolls her gaze back to Tori instead, incredulous to the question. Weird, but slightly forgivable since she's obviously not American. "The Senator…?" she answers with a questioning tone, a tight, dubious smile on her lips. "Nathan Petrelli."

Tori's brows knit together, obviously confused. Of course, if he had no idea who he was in Ireland, he'd been using a fake name, but the new one feels… fake. There is no connection to it for her — like a name pulled out of a phone book. "He's a senator? What happened to him? Is he sick or something? I'm sorry — I'm not usually so obtuse when it comes to current events, but I'm… I just came over this past month from Europe, and I don't know my local government yet, I'm afraid. My father's a barrister — I'm really not stupid, I swear it." Her eyes flicker between the television, until it moves on to the next story, and Tracy's face. "I know him, though — I met him, and I didn't know he was in politics, and … he's a friend."

The last is said flatly, as she realizes how foolish she sounds. What sort of friend wouldn't know he was a senator? Tori looks like she might cry.

Unwittingly, Tracy's brows lift further until the look she's giving the confused young woman couldn't be any more incredulous. In fact, she seems as if she might laugh until, tongue poised between her teeth, she realizes Tori looks like she might actually cry. A friend, huh. "Um. He's…" She glances to the TV, which has moved on to the next segment already. Is Nathan missing? Sick? "…something," she decides with a dully bitter done.

With an air of reluctance, Tracy slips from her seat and moves into the one next to Tori, carrying her cup in hand. "How do you know Nathan?" It's posed as casual question, not an interrogation. The name Nathan is spoken familiarly, though, as opposed to those who might say Senator Petrelli.

"I … met him abroad. In Ireland, actually," Tori says, uncertainly. She doesn't want to say too much about the time, as Nathan surely wouldn't want anyone to know that he was a thief and a bartender. "I took a year off after graduation to travel and ran into him there. He… uh, he didn't tell me he was a politician." The Brit realizes that this all sounds sketchy and offers a smile. "We were just friends, before you think there's any scandal there, I should add. Do you know him?" she asks, picking up on the casual use of the first name.

"Not well enough," Tracy answers flatly, a calm deliverance of both honesty and vagueness that she makes no move to elaborate upon. She sets her cup down and quietly waits for the waitress to bustle past and deliver Tori's meal before goes on. "Lemme guess — you met… Brayden." A hint of a smile laces her expression as she narrows blue eyes ever so slightly on Tori, looking for confirmation. Why she needs it, she's not even sure, but it's a strange enough coincidence to look into. If only for a minute.

"You — you know about Brayden?" the brunette asks, brows knitting again with confusion under her bangs. "You must know him better than most, if you know about Brayden… unless it's common knowledge, which … I wouldn't think it would be." She smiles her thanks to the waitress, reaching for her soda to take a sip from the straw. "How do you know about Brayden?" she finally asks, a little more directly, getting over her shock at seeing Brayden — Nathan — on television.

"Common enough," Tracy answers nonchalantly. "Everyone knows he's had some problems with his memory. Not like it stopped him from getting back into politics." She shrugs lightly, reaching for her cup once more. "We're acquaintances," she answers finally. "I heard someone call him Brayden, sounds just like the kinda name you'd use in Ireland."

"I see," Tori says uncertainly, wondering who it was that knew him as Brayden, that would be in New York as well. "Well, I certainly never expected to have been rubbing elbows with a senator of all people, though I did meet someone else while I was in Ireland involved in politics. I forget his name. He wasn't a politician, though — he just worked for them, if I recall." She met too many people while in her travels to keep them all straight, after all. "Small world, I guess. I didn't know I'd be coming to New York when I knew Brayden — and I don't think he knew he'd be coming here either." She takes a couple of spoonfuls of soup, then adds, "Are you a politician too?"

"Close," Tracy replies with a small smile. "I work in politics, 'm not a politician. I'm sure some would disagree." Or is it worked, past tense? An unwelcome pensive look crosses her features, but she sips her coffee and glances away from the other woman for a moment. "Yeah, small world," she murmurs.

"I see. I'm not really one for politics myself. Maybe because I spent my life with their kids," Tori says with a wry smile. "I mean, I'm a lawyer's kid, so it's almost the same thing, isn't it? Everyone hates politicians and lawyers, but where would we be without them and the laws they make? What do you do in politics? Speech writer? Press Secretary? Personal assistant? You must have a lot of patience." Tori babbles a bit, not noticing Tracy's obvious discomfort with the topic.

"Yeah, none of the above. Y'know, my patience's running a little thin actually." With politics? With Tori's questions? In reality, it's a mix of things in general, but Tracy doesn't take the time to clarify — you could say she's too impatient to do so. She avoids the questions, briefly glancing at the thin band of a watch around her wrist and twisting to reach for the coat she set upon the stool nearby.

Tori returns her attention to her soup, this time catching the snub. "Right. Well, if you see Bray — Senator Petrelli, tell him Tori says hi," the Brit murmurs, managing not to sound too offended by the brush off from the cool blonde. "Don't forget your cupcake," she adds, a slight smirk curving her lips, adding the last bit just to annoy the older woman perhaps.

"Think he'll have bigger problems to worry about by then," Tracy replies half under her breath as she slides off the stool, leaving Tori to eat in peace. She pulls her coat on. As for the cupcake… a glance is sent down the sleek counter to where the pink confection-covered thing sits alone. "It's all yours." See, she's a generous person. Sans purse today, she leaves a few dollars by her coffee cup in her hurry to leave — which she does, long strides taking her to the diner door while she still buttons her coat, as if chased by a deadline.

"Of that, I have no doubt," Tori murmurs, more to herself. She already thought she'd seen the last of the man, and now she knows there will be no room in his life for a friend that was a fellow thief. As Tracy leaves, the Brit glances around the cafe, knowing that somewhere, there will be a forgotten newspaper — and aha, there is, a few stools away. She slips off her own stool to snatch the periodical, hoping to find some information on the senator, in hopes of discovering whatever these problems of his are.

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