2010-06-27: Straight From The Source



Date: June 27th, 2010


When Tracy reveals a certain fact to the press, George gets some insight into the truth. More than intended.

"Straight from the Source"

Times Square

New York City

It's Sunday, but as they say, there's no rest for the wicked. In New York City, that seems to be especially true. While the city might experience some lulls, at this point in the day, near suppertime and right in the iconic nexus of Times Square, it's a bustle of familiar activity.

Out of one of the many lofty buildings — not skirting the center of the Square, but nearby — a certain female politico is emerging. Not a native of New York but once a frequenter of it — working for a fair number of its state officials — Tracy Strauss once again finds herself with a reason to be in the city. She's unmistakable: long blonde hair, lightweight black wool blazer, white blouse, white slacks… and don't forget the dark sunglasses doing double-duty: blocking out the sun that makes the streets even hotter, and better ignoring the small crowd of reporters that launch at her the second she appears.

The building behind her is one full of offices of law and politics; she's been garnering support for the Governor, and the press, well, they heard a key word and here they are. Tracy's cool avoidance of the handful of journalists can only last so long, as one cocky young man tries gets in her face to ask: "We heard you're getting former Governor Malden an appeal, can you tell us why you think he was framed?" And there's the key word: framed.

Now this is an interesting change of pace, George thinks to himself as he turns the corner and heads into the Square proper. He's had people recognizing him all weekend - which they should, that's what a good portion of his campaign budget is supposed to be making sure of - so who is it that managed to draw the media's attention ahead of him here? His nondescript sportswear makes little impression on the crowd as he slowly elbows his way forward through it - precisely because that's the last thing they would expect him to do, right? He's obviously just some nosy tourist.

Before long, he gets close enough to see who they're after, and hear why. Figures. Given that it's the political beat, not a film shoot or an underdressed celebutante, someone's bound to recognize him as well before much longer. Better hurry up and beat them to the punch.

"Ms. Strauss!" A different journalist interjects, probably trying to take credit incase the woman actually answers. He has a small camera, paparazzo style. "Who do you think the governor was framed by?"

Tracy is normally behind the scenes; that's where she does her best work. Sometimes, though, she has to speak for people, and though this isn't the most usual of scenarios, it's not completely out of left field. She strides a few more steps and gestures at the dogged journalists to get back before she comes to a decisive halt. Her hair whisked by her brisk speed settling around her shoulders, she stands and waits for them to smarten up and be quiet and civil before she says a thing, looking sternly at them all the while — an expression obvious even around the dark shades. Shades which she then pushes up onto her head.

The journalists may not have seen the congressman in sportswear yet, but Tracy does. He's closer to her line of sight. She acknowledges George with look that says little other than 'I see you', then stares straight at the last journalist to speak. "Ivory Wynn."

The answer, the supposedly dead ex-Senator's name, draws a new, heated slew of inquiries, but Tracy pushes past them, holding her hand up to indicate no more questions as she tries to angle past.

The wordless look doesn't surprise George too much; it's the same sort of thing he would have done if their positions had been reversed. The answer she gives, on the other hand…

Wynn is dead. Isn't he? He was there in the coffin! (Of course George attended the funeral, along with a lot of other New York pols.) Then again, he's known for a while that Tracy was sitting on some number of secrets; looks like that number just went up again. He's seen crazy before - within the past few months, even - and that didn't sound like crazy. Severe stress, no doubt…

Five minutes later, he's walking away in a different direction, on the phone with his campaign headquarters. "Hold my calls for the rest of the day. I've got some long-overdue digging to take care of."

It takes some time for Tracy to escape the press, but eventually, a few icy looks go a long way in convincing them that she has no more to say at this time.

Five minutes of slipping out of the journalists' clutches and brisk walking later— "George!" Maybe he won't have far to dig; Tracy is behind him, still several paces away from catching up, but she's gaining — albeit with no threatening purpose. Tracy is in the middle of a sigh of relief — and frustration — as she strides along. It's paired with a shake of her head, and a furrowed brow that doesn't quite go away despite a concerted effort to keep her cool facade. She hurries a bit to catch up. "So I guess you heard that," she states, bland, cynical.

"—right now, in fact," George adds, before quickly hanging up. And here he was planning to wait another hour or so, then call Tracy up once she'd gotten well clear of the crowd. So much for carefully planning out what to say to her…

"I did," he answers, turning around and slowing down. Not stopping, lest some particularly stubborn journalist have an easy time of recognizing him. "I would have, anyway, but it's good to hear it directly from the source. Before they slap a few coats of spin on it." He doesn't continue right away; if she approached him on her own, then she might open up further on her own, too.

"They can spin all they want. The press can have a field day for all I care." In fact, maybe she does care — maybe that's what she wants. Right now, however, Tracy just looks aggravated with the whole thing. Walking in place next to him and slowing her own pace down, she blinks in the bright light of day and hitches the tan strap of her purse more securely over her shoulder. "Look," she sets in somewhat tiredly, but firmly, "if anyone asks what your stance is on this, I'd really appreciate your support. It's enough of a job convincing people I've never met that my story's legit."

George scratches absently at the back of his neck. "I can do that, but… fill me in a little more?" His phone is turned completely off now; anyone trying to bull past his phone-bank staff won't get anywhere for their trouble. "First, why would he want to throw Malden under the bus? Not like he was going to run for the seat, at least that I know of. Second… did he somehow put a body double six feet under, or did he pay someone to keep things going for him? Or is this strictly something he pulled off before he resigned?" It might be, come to think of it. Especially considering that one message that he carefully never mentioned shoulder-surfing.

Tracy slides a chary glance side-long at George. "Malden was just convenient," she says bitterly, dismissive. "Last year, Ivory used him as part of a cover-up. For a… " She pauses and steels herself to committing to continue. "… a murder. Moving the funds around, that was just part've the plan to make him a scapegoat since the guy who died was Malden's accountant." She runs a hand impatiently through her hair and seems, for a moment, to have a hard time walking slowly, her energy restless, her high-heeled steps forceful.

It takes most of George's focus to stay quiet as he considers Tracy's story, enough so that he finds himself unconsciously speeding up to match her pace. "Makes sense, if that's how it started. But why'd he have the accountant killed in the first place? Stumbled onto the wrong evidence, something like that?" The other side of the question he leaves alone for now; time enough to come back to it later.

"Mm, well." Tracy murmurs a humourless laugh under her breath. "That's where it gets complicated." Because it wasn't already! "There's some things I can't tell the lawyers and … definitely not the Governor." Thus, a cautious gaze travels along the busy New York street. No one cares what the pair of politicos are talking about — no sign of the journalists. Still, her voice lowers. "Sorry— Malden." Not the Governor anymore. Some old habits die hard. Not all. "Ivory didn't have anyone killed," she skirts an uneasier glance George's way. "The person who died … he died because of … someone with an ability. He was covering it up."

Someone. People are often more vested in things than they let on; their roles actually were reversed in that sense, once, just within the past year. And Ivory sent her that message to confirm—

That poker face that George was keeping up? Just hit overload and shut down. He turns to face Tracy once again, searching her eyes for the rest of what she isn't directly saying. She has to suspect that he might pick up the subtext… but it doesn't sound like a confession of murder, not exactly. Was it an accident? Was the accountant actually working for the Protocols? Something else? One of those could actually be justified as self-defense; another could be… forgivable, at least. Exactly what sort of secret does she want him to keep?

On the congressman's silence and searching gaze, Tracy more or less shuts down, her features returning to that of the ice queen disposition she's known for back on K-Street. She's silent for awhile until she murmurs a resentful, ambiguous answer. "Ivory covered up a lot've things back then for the Protocols."

A timely — or untimely? — alert then sounds from the woman's purse. Not a ringtone — maybe an e-mail chime. She tenses at the sound and seems, for a moment, like she's going to ignore it, but gives in to search her purse as she walks. Her strides have become even faster.

It's enough of an answer for George, it seems. Is there any point now in dragging out the exact details of what was going on back then? He covered up a few things himself— a little snooping here, a few fake ID papers there. Not on the same scale, but enough to screw him over pretty thoroughly if it got out - if a wild-eyed story of physics-breaking superpowers didn't do the job first.

"…fair enough," he murmurs quietly, glancing around to check that they're not heading straight toward another crowd of witnesses. "Let me know what you need?" With Ivory and Nathan both (seemingly) out of the picture, and Malden walled off behind the allegations still standing against him, he may be the best-placed contact she has left. He's not sure how he feels about that, but he's not going to turn his back on her. At least not now.

Tracy keeps searching through her purse, gradually slowing down. "If you just say you'll back me, that's enough. I have a few of Malden's old supporters on my side. I may have worked a political miracle or two in my day, but it's a tough sell. There's a chance I'll need you to come forward at some point." Doing it without implicating herself is one of the greater challenges. With a frown, she looks to George with a guarded sincerity. The phone is in her hand, as-of-yet unchecked. At least it's quiet now. "Malden deserves a lot've things. Jail isn't one of them."

It'll be interesting, all right, but pointing the media toward Ivory is a smart move; he won't be defending himself any time soon, unless he faked his death and he pulls off a lot of tricky explaining of his own. And Malden himself can probably be counted on to throw in however much of his own influence is left.

"I can do that," replies George. "I'd better let you get back to your messages…" And he's probably got a couple himself, by now.

"Thanks, Congressman." There's a short-lived gracious smile there to show that Tracy is using the title on purpose. Meanwhile, the phone is held out a short distance in front of her, angled for privacy — but prime for shoulder-surfing, or even just glancing over at. She's checking an e-mail message, nothing of interest there … until an image flashes onto the small screen of the smartphone. It seems to be a photo of Tracy, decidedly voyeuristic on the photographer's part: sprawled out on a bed, in a state of half-undress. She doesn't even look conscious.

The screen blurs. No; frosts over.

Immediately, the phone is clutched tighter in her hand and pressed against her chest. "And I gotta go." Tracy's demeanor scaling high into anger and all manner of riled emotion, she turns away, where there's a handy crosswalk she seems intent to barrel across.

Waving seems entirely inadequate to the situation at hand, but it's all George can come up with. He only saw the picture clearly enough to get a general sense of it, which is already more than he wishes he'd seen - not that it's unattractive by any means, but it's nice and inappropriate - but he got a better look at what happened to it afterward. So that's what she can do. And what she presumably did to—

Note to self: Do not cross this woman.

Immediately he spins on one heel and heads the other direction, hands stuffed into his pockets so he won't be tempted to punch anything in frustration. He tried not to have any skeletons in his closet… so where, exactly, did that go so terribly wrong? The cell phone can damn well wait until after he goes and gets a drink.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License