2009-12-22: The Building of Alliances



Date: December 22nd, 2009


Nathan reveals his full memory to Tracy, prompting talk of the future… and the past. Plans are made which don't bode well for everyone. George drops by to find out where Senator Petrelli stands, and knows … more than expected.

Trivia: Robin's Alpha Protocol infodump was actually @mailed right after the Tracy's-phone-rings pose.

"The Building of Alliances"

Nathan Petrelli's Office

New York City

Finally having gotten rid of Hallis, Nathan marches up to his office door and shuts it promptly, choosing to lock it as well before glancing around the room again. With a sigh he turns to face Tracy, his features darkening, but he says nothing. Instead he looks at her for several moments only to shake his head. He pads to his small meeting table (with four chairs around it) and pulls out a seat for Tracy. He, however, doesn't sit down. Instead, he faces the window and stares out at the city, arms folded over his chest. "I saw Pete. I'm me again." His tone is lacklustre. He's still reflecting on Logan's actions. "But no one knows other than Pete. And now you." He turns to face her.

The quiet, now that the number of people in the office is down to two, is a stark contrast to holiday cheer. Tracy, arms folded, watches Nathan quietly — in her head as much as his. She doesn't sit either, but follows closer, standing by the chair at the table instead of in it. Given her stiff poise, she doesn't have any true plan to take up the offer. "Really." The confirmation is vaguely questioning— she didn't know Nathan, not really. "You're different. Already. I can tell." The statement is followed by a brisk down-to-business tone. "Well! This is good— " Right? " — now we can really get moving."

"Yes. It's good," Nathan agrees mirthlessly. Narrowing his eyes, he explains, "But for us to have any success we need to be on the same page. As far as anyone outside this room knows, Pete and I have had a falling out. He plans to help evolved while I — I need to appear to be their enemy to get into the AP's good graces." He hmmms as he shakes his head. "And we have to deal with this quietly. If we don't … all out war is imminent." He sideglances her, "To answer your question. Yes, I'm serious about the speech I made this morning." Beat. Smirk. "Do you think the AP would've bought it?"

Tracy — studying the new version of Nathan all the while — nods to his plans; seeming at odds with Peter is a good idea in her book. "Sure, but it's all just political self-worship until you act on it." The woman's arms uncross. "I've been down this road Nathan, a lotta people saw Ivory as the bad guy," she says with an undercurrent of bitterness. "But he was trying to make a difference from the inside. It won't be easy. I know. I've seen it. Firsthand. You have to dedicate yourself to the story. If there's even one crack in your armor… someone'll find it. Are you ready?"

"I can play the villain. Nothing I haven't done before," Nathan quips with a bitter smile. Logan was the villain. The villain in his brain. "I'm committed to this, Linda. Even if it means living two lives; it's the only way any of this can be resolved." He hmmms quietly. "I have to follow through. Too many people I care about depend on it." His lips straighten as he nods, "I'm ready. They won't find a crack." He pushes Logan's cold exterior to the forefront of his memory.

'Linda' moves to rest her hands on the back of the chair, though nothing about her posture is relaxed. She gives Nathan a slow and appraising stare before a smile flashes, more convinced, perhaps, than she was by Brayden. Where some may be unnerved by the man's change, this is a person Tracy can better work with. "Good. You can use Peter as your key," she suggests. (More like demands.) "He knows about the Protocol, you can say he told you about them and that you want in. Shine the right light on you from the start 'n' leave Peter in the shadows," she says, perhaps on the callous side, but hey— it's a ruse, right.

"Right. Pete as my in." Nathan's lips curl into a sardonic smile. "Perfect." The grin broadens even further. While Brayden had been reluctant and nervous, Nathan is confident and calm. "So the next question is: de Souza or the President?" He arches both eyebrows as his smile breaks out into a toothy grin. "I say we go to the man in charge. He probably appoints people to the Protocol. Although de Souza would be easier access…"

"Ivory was— it was almost like he was scared of her." De Souza is someone Tracy never quite figured out the full role of, and as such, her eyes narrow in thought as she glances away. Soon, she shakes her head. "She might have the access ,but at the end of the day, she's not the top dog. If you can convince the President?" She smirks with a faint laugh beneath her breath. "Then you're golden. But you gotta make him believe you'll do a better job than Ivory." Tracy is prepared to say more, always having another idea on hand, but she stops and considers, tongue poised between her teeth.

"I think we have a few favours we can still call in so I can talk to the President," Nathan states with a smirk as he leans against his desk. Jaw stiffening, he nods, "I can instil confidence when I need to." He stares at Tracy, still smirking, "I'm going to have to talk out of both sides of my face, but I see no reason why I can't do that. On one hand, I need to appear cutthroat and on the side of the Protocol. On the other I need to convince the American people there's nothing to worry about… that is, once we're in."

"You certainly can instil confidence. I'm sold, Senator. Getting your memories back was the right move. Now that you have your head on straight, your plan actually might have a snowball's chance of working." Tracy's bright smile appears and melts into a more sly and confident grin. There is a sense of deja vu here about Nathan's proposed role in AP that gives Tracy a bad feeling in the pit of her stomach, but at least the light of the end of the tunnel might be a little bright. That snowball's chance. If Nathan can pull off the first step. Not the odds she likes working with, but… she'll make it work.

After a quick moment, Tracy falls back on her thoughtful expression, eyeing the new Senator more inquisitively. "…You know, you don't have to call me Linda when we're alone, right. Maybe you don't remember, it was a while ago now…"

"I know you look an awful lot like Niki Sanders," Nathan states with an ironic smile. His history with Niki had been odd at the very least. "But I don't remember meeting you…" Peter said the name last night though. "…Tracy. Right?" He shakes his head, but he still smirks.

Tracy— well, Tracy looks confused, plain and simple. She was telling Nathan about what he said when they first met (so she thought) just the other day. She shakes it off. Who knows how memory restoration with these crazy abilities works. Maybe Nathan's mind still has holes in it. "…Tracy," she repeats with a smile. "Tracy Strauss. I know. Niki is— Niki was my sister. Did you know her well?" The familiar-faced woman's blue eyes blink and watch Nathan with calm curiosity, her brows lifted in simple curious inquiry; there's so little she knows about Niki, and it always seemed strange to her that her less-educated sister worked for Nathan in some manner. Tracy can rarely be described as naive, but in this case…

But the story didn't actually involve the real Nathan, did it? But Nathan blazes past the confusion and addresses the Niki question instead, causing him to smile that dimpled smile that came so easily to Brayden, "Niki was … a good friend and more … even if we didn't always see eye-to-eye." It's a cryptic answer. With a sigh the smile fades, "I hope her kids are taken care of … I heard about her —"

The addition of 'and more' prompts a more suspicious look from Tracy, along with a modest smile, but her expression quickly takes a turn for the darker; however, if she has any emotion over what happened to the woman who looked so identical to her, it's kept reserved, at bay. "They're fine," she interjects. "Actually, her son is leading a sort of rebellion for people who're being hunted by the government." A frown, there. "… I met him, and the other boy, Cam. I don't remember it." Shifting somewhat uncomfortably — talking about her personal traumas in a business setting, or any setting, only sets her on edge. She tosses her hair, studying the window for an instant before continuing, voice lower. "I think … there's more going on in the Protocol than I know about. Since I was there, I've been missing memories." A pointed look slides to Nathan. "They've employed people with powers before. Peter— Max. You'd think it'd be black and white…"

"They're good kids. I think my sons went to school with Niki's," Nathan says with a soft smile that quickly disappears. "They're using people for their own ends. I'm sure they wouldn't hesitate to wipe out Pete's or anyone else's abilities after they were done with them. We're means to ends." We. There it is. The admission. "So they have someone who alters memories then?" He hmms quietly to himself. "There might be something we can do about that, but it would mean expanding our Alpha Protocol team. I'll talk to some people and see whether they are willing and able to join our cause." He smirks, "You said they were after you." Beat. "And judging from what you told me before…" There's a pause. She'd mentioned the human rights violations, the fact they were after her, and Bryaden hadn't put it together. But Nathan isn't nearly as naive. "Tracy, one way or another they'll pay for what they've done. I promise."

Realizing how Nathan is putting the pieces together, Tracy's jaw clamps, tense, her eyes growing cold as she looks away — to the window. There is pure, unadulterated hate for the people who locked her up present and accounted for in her eyes. It's focused intensely on Nathan when she meets his gaze, though she remains otherwise composed. "You better believe they will." She steps to the edge of the meeting table to peak her fingertips against its surface, leaning in ever-so-slightly, intent. "I need to know what you know." Talk to some people? Expand the teams? Tracy is determined to be on the same page as fast as possible. On another note… "I … apologize, ahead of time, if this sounds unprofessional, Nathan: but if you ruin this…"

The gaze and expression are noted, and Nathan continues to meet them, "My mother and Noah know people who are telepaths. Others who can stop abilities altogether. And others that can tell what a person's ability is. Any of these could be helpful." He hmmms again. "I won't ruin it Tracy. I can't afford to. Too much is at stake." For him. For Peter. For Ma. For Claire (who he owes the world!).

Tracy eyes the newly appointed Senator for a extendedly long moment, as if gauging the conviction of his words. People say a lot of things that fall through and crash and burn. Nathan will be the one to crash and burn (or freeze) if he somehow makes this worse. But then, that's why she's here, isn't it — to help him succeed. To make sure of it. Convinced, if not heartened, she looks away sharply and returns to her businesslike form. "Then, we can't waste any time. We should prepare a story about your falling out with Peter. Fuel for the fire."

"A story to tell anecdotally or to release to the press — ?" Nathan asks as he steps away from the desk. "If we're releasing it to the press, I can talk about our differing convictions. Or we could let it go to the tabloids. They had an interest in Bray — memory-lost me for awhile there." Beat. "I imagine the Protocol knows he's defected?" He hates the idea of putting Pete into danger, but this isn't really to put Peter in harm's way; it's to make himself the fall guy.

Around this point, a conversation somewhere on the other side of the locked door begins to get loud and heated enough to start drawing attention. "--I don't care if he's a very busy man," George tells the receptionist, straining to keep at least a pretense of decorum. "He's always very busy— I should know. And so am I. Which is why I need to see him right away." Normally he wouldn't think of raising this sort of a fuss - trying to goad a rival into making an impulsive mistake, maybe - but when your own people are being secretly oppressed, and another of your own kind is taking the driver's seat? It's time to start looking for a brake line to cut.

Tracy offers what is not quite a laugh under her breath as she answers Nathan, "Well they must." For a variety of reasons, not the least of which has to do with surveillance in her apartment. "And both. If something had happened, there'd be two stories: one the public catches wind of, and the truth, which is what the Protocol can know. Of course, in this case, the truth is fiction, but they won't know that." She pauses, briefly, to consider. "Peter's on board with this? All of it. If it gets to the press, they won't be easy on him." It's at this time that the faux redhead looks over her shoulder, eyes narrowing slightly. A familiar voice. She knows it, but it's just muffled enough to make her think.

Eyes are narrowed at the raucous on the other side of the door, but Nathan nods at Tracy while he walks over to it. "Pete and I agreed that we'd have to publicly distance ourselves from each other. There's no way around it if he's going to help people like us while we try to sink the titanic." Ever since Stephanie appeared on the weekend, Nathan has been very alert about the goings-on in the office and does not want another of his staff to come under the woman's wrath, with a click the door opens as Nathan peeks out of the office, a head down the hallway. With furrowed eyebrows, he steps into the hall, arms across his chest, "Leslie, are you okay?" The tone is gentle, concerned. Sincere.

"I'm fine Senator, the Congressman was just trying to fit into your schedule even though there's clearly no room…" the redhead states with an all-too-professional-I-hate-my-life-kind-of-smile.

Forcing another Brayden-smile, he offers George his hand to shake, "Congressman Dawson, to what do I owe the pleasure?"

Leslie leans back in her seat and peers at the pair.

George glances back toward Leslie, offering an apologetic look now that he's gotten his way. Nothing personal, you just happened to be here. Then, turning back to return the handshake: "Senator, congratulations. Again. I need to have a word with you about the anti-terrorism initiative you've inherited… I'm afraid your predecessor and his staff kept me in the dark, but I trust things are different now." He pretends to buy the Brayden act, but after that last press conference… He's met Brayden before, and even Brayden-trying-Nathan-on-for-size, and of course he knows Nathan. That was Nathan on the screen. Speech coaches are good at what they do, but not that good.

In the office, Tracy is listening very carefully to that receptionist, and in turn, to George's voice. Congressman Dawson. Congressman Dawson knows she was working for Ivory— knows her name, her face, and he's linked to Hallis who was just here. She certainly doesn't trust him enough to tell the truth, and thus, Tracy is in a tangle. She doesn't have time to say a thing to Nathan before the Senator is in the hall — instead, she looks as if she's about to swear and bites down, glancing quickly, with annoyance, about the office.

While she'd rather face this problem head-on, she's forced to try another tactic. One she despises. One she despises more once she realizes her options.

Promptly, she goes into hiding without leaving the room. What was that about a full office? It looks pretty empty!

"I haven't actually inherited anything," Nathan says with that same easy grin that continues to pinch at his cheeks. You think his face would be used to it after so much time in Brayden-land, it's not. "And I'm not entirely sure what you're talking about. Former Senator Wynn hasn't passed along any files or information," a glance is given to Leslie who is watching the two men. Yes, she's listening, he can't have this conversation here. With that same smile Nathan leads the way into his office which is just down the hall.

"We can discuss it though. Come into my office," the last sentence is said a little loudly. He doesn't really know who Tracy is hiding from, but if she was as much at the forefront of Ivory's team as she seems to be, she could be very well connected.

George nods, slipping his hands into his pockets as he follows. "Ye-es, that seems to have been par for the course. The security regs must make for a nasty bit of red tape." Oblivious to the more personal concealment issue that he's inadvertently created, he takes a minute to send out one more text message along the way, letting his own staff know he'll be out of touch for a little while.

As he enters the office, Nathan's eyebrows furrow. Where is Tracy? He pushes past this question and motions towards a small meeting table with four chairs around it, "Please have a seat." Beat. "I'd offer you coffee or tea, but my assistant is out for the rest of the day. I had the boys in the town yesterday and she did more than her fair share so I gave her the rest of the day to finish some holiday errands."

Swallowing, Nathan chooses a chair of his own, still peering around the room for something. Or someone. "So. Tell me about this security initiative."

The boys—? Oh, right, his boys. Literally. Note to self, see to it that they get an extra Christmas present apiece.

George pulls up a chair, leaning against it in careful thought for a moment before sitting down as well. Taking out his phone again, he pulls up the video clip of Jamie and turns it around so Nathan can see the screen. Note to self, see to it that she gets an extra Christmas present, too; it's a terribly useful icebreaker, even if it might have created new problems at the same time. "I take it you're familiar with this, and the accusations it lays out?"

"I've seen the video," Nathan says easily in his non-chalant Brayden tone. "It begs some interesting questions. Most people think it's a fraud." Turning in his chair he scans the room again. Nathan knows the video is real, but denial seems the best option at this point. "Don't tell me you've fallen for that CGI stuff… it's unbelievable what they can do now with special effects…"

Ah yes, the feigning-doubt game. George was willing to put up with it with Tracy, because while she clearly had her fingers in more than one important pie, he didn't have enough information about any of them to force her hand. Now, though, he lays his cards down on the table. "I know about Logan," he says, simply. "I did what I could to keep him stalemated." It really is a gamble - there's a chance that Logan could still be in there, could take over at some point - and while he's willing to stake himself, he leaves out any mention of who brought him into it.

And there it is. Logan. The good news is merged-Nathan has many of Logan's talents. Including a gosh darn good poker face. "I thought we were talking about the video, not ghosts from Christmases past," Nathan narrows his eyes as he leans back in the seat. He doesn't let the name jar him visibly, but on the inside, he can feel something itching to jump across the table. But Nathan is in control. For now.

Instead, Petrelli smiles and crosses his arms over his chest. "Or did you come here to reminisce on better days? Unfortunately I can't help you with that. No memory, remember?" Griiiiiin.

It's a bit dark where Tracy is. That's not what she cares about. Rather, the fact that it's confined, here in her hiding spot, especially whilst wearing a pencil skirt. It's spacious enough a hideaway, but she's tall, and leggy, and here— here is not meant for hiding. Typically. Typically, she doesn't want to hide, but such is her life these days. It's just not usually so absolutely literal. She is on the floor, wherever she is, legs drawn up, her back against oak. Her fortuitous eavesdropping, however, is just starting to become interesting when she thinks to turn her phone off, eeever so carefully withdrawing it from the pocket of her blazer.

Someone takes that exact moment to call "Linda's" number, by some twist of fate or cruel universal joke. Or as Tracy finds herself thinking, just crappy timing.

A chiming cell phone ring sounds, then, from the general area of the office's desk, on which several presents are still laid out, getting through one ring before it's cut off. Then: silence.

Then the silence is broken again, this time by George's phone. The sound from the video is too quiet to be heard except up close, but the tone indicating an incoming message is louder— and so, while George turns and looks around to see who else is here, Nathan gets a look at the first few lines of that message. The sender is well-organized in his presentation; the phrase 'Alpha Protocol' appears right up near the top.

"I guess I left my cell phone in my briefcase under my desk," Nathan murmurs as he stands to his feet and pads towards the desk idly. Except, as he stands, Nathan's phone also rings. He would curse blue murder if he wasn't trying to appear so Brayden-like. "Or… not." He picks his cellphone from his pocket and glances at the caller. "Sorry, it's my wife. I apologize." He tucks the phone back into his pocket as he pads back to his former seat. Maybe the two cellphone calls in between Tracy's distracted George?

"What interest do you have in Wynn's former initiatives anyways? Like I said I don't have his files and don't see how I could be of any help to you."

Under the desk, Tracy winces, wrapping her hand around her phone as she sinks down a bit further as quietly as possible. The sudden explosion of calls from every which way earns a strange look despite the fact that no one can see her; suspicious, almost, of the coincidence. It must have been, though. She bites her lip and eyes the small part of the office chair and floor she can see impatiently.

George picks up his own phone, blinking as he glances over the message summary. Did Nathan just see that? Maybe, maybe not. Either way, he's tired of pretending, his own as well as what's being offered to him.

"Even if you don't have the files yet," he replies, "you've apparently got the access and the connections that I'm still working on building up— you could well be in a position to make or break the project."

And no, the mysterious third phone did not escape his notice. "Before I explain why I'm interested, would you mind having your bodyguard introduce himself? I'm unarmed, promise." He holds up empty hands in the air, or they're empty after he remembers to put his phone down again.

Bodyguard. Huh. "I don't have a bodyguard," Yet. "Although that's not a bad idea judging from the state of things." However, Nathan says nothing of the woman under his desk (he leaves that to Tracy should she so choose), instead he mentally skips to the end.

"So you care about the video and Wynn, then?…" He can't keep George from looking behind the desk, but he isn't going to be the one to expose Tracy.

… Body guard, huh. She could well be, with her deadly ability. Tracy is not going to choose to move, thank you very much, since there is still the chance that the Congressman will be dissuaded from her presence. She does, however, find merit in the phone that was almost her downfall (and still may be). Very quietly, she types out a message that is then sent to Nathan's phone. She questions the Senator's proficiency with text messaging, but that's alight; he just has to read. 'HE KNOWS ME FROM BEFORE', she sends.

Meanwhile, George leans forward, quickly re-evaluating in light of this latest not-evidence. He knew Logan too, sort of, and what cues he offered when he was being less than straightforward. This still sounds like Nathan.

"Because if we aren't both on the target list already," he says, "then we will be sooner or later. I want to help you with this before it gets that far."

Nathan's phone beeps with that all too familiar text message noise causing him to pick it from his jacket again. His eyes scroll over the words before he replaces the phone into his jacket and returns his gaze to George. "So how did you hear about the Alpha Protocol? And what do you know?" Now he's resorting to bait. Yes, he's trying distract George from Tracy by name dropping the secret government organization.

Whoever it is - or isn't, maybe the phone was just left behind to fill the role of a concealed tape recorder - George pays it no further mind. Nathan seems to know about it, so if he's screwed by talking in front of it, then he was probably screwed anyway by talking to Nathan in the first place.

"A few different sources, by now, including a first-hand account of the state of the captives. Someone in the government got wind of people developing special abilities— unpowered flight, that sort of thing." A little name-dropping of his own, sort of. "Presumably they feared the worst, and started pursuing them under the guise of 'domestic terrorism'. Just internment camps, as far as I know, but— I wouldn't be surprised if some of the targets are expecting it to become King Herod killing all the two-year-olds."

"You know more about their origins then," Nathan says blandly as he rests his folded hands on the table. "But that makes sense." He stares at George for several moments, "I'm not part of their organization, but I'm trying to get on the Alpha Protocol." Plain and simple. He doesn't comment as to why, but he does manage to add, "And I'm already on their target list." Good, bad, or ugly. It's the truth. He doesn't know if George works for the AP or what the man's allegiances have become in the last year and a half so he's as cryptic as he can be.

Tracy is not the most trusting soul, particularly in the past couple of months, and as such … she remains exactly where she is. The topic of conversation has given her much to mull about. Suffice to say, she's eavesdropping intently. Some of it — from George — comes as a surprise. Not the information, but rather where it comes from.

"I hope," George murmurs, "you're playing the role of collaborator until you can work out how to strike back. I believe you are. We never got to know each other as well as we probably should - and if I'm wrong, if you really are one, then I've made the mistake of my life - but this has come to a point where I have to take that chance."

Swallowing, Nathan stares at George. He studies the other man pensively considering what to say, how honest to be. Finally, after sighing he nods slightly. "Yes." The answer is quiet. Simple. "War has to be avoided. The only way to avoid it is to take this down from the inside. It needs to implode. And I can do that." Maybe. Beat. "But it means that no one can know what I actually think or that I have my memory back." His expression turns gravely serious as he falls silent.

Tracy's trust may not be cemented, but now that Nathan has gone and told the truth, she needs to get involved. If for no other reason than to keep an eye on George. She sighs, making no effort to conceal the whispery sound of breath, unlikely though it is to penetrate the oak wood. It takes a shove and some climbing to emerge from her hiding spot, but from the viewpoint of the men, she simply rises behind the desk, telltale phone in hand. The advisor appears pristine for someone who was hiding under a desk in her neat taupe suit, white blouse and hair that is much darker and redder than the pale blonde George would recognize. She runs a hand through it as she eyes George. "You better be telling the truth, Dawson, or I swear to God you're going to regret it for the rest of your career." Or your life, the woman's cold tone seems to say.

Whatever George was about to say to Nathan next is lost as he's caught thoroughly off guard by the new— arrival? No, appearance, let's say. "Ms. Strauss? What happened to your hair, did you—?" At least there are no intern-under-the-desk jokes, it's pretty obvious that she was only down there to hide from him.

He cuts off there, processing her words and nodding. "I am, and I don't blame you for feeling that way. I didn't think I'd see you again after Wynn left." And I still have some unpleasant questions to ask you about Governor Malden, he thinks to himself. But not today.

Tracy's appearance spurs some thought in Nathan. "I think we need to set up a proper meeting to discuss these things in more detail." There's a pause. "If we're on the same side we need to pool resources." He hmmms quietly. "And that means we need to play nice with each other."

"Yeah well," Tracy says all together with a small roll of her eyes, not especially impressed by the circumstances. "You wouldn't have." If it weren't for his info-mining here with Nathan, but that's obvious. The Senator is given a glance. She is playing nice! The woman's lips purse, but lack expression, flat beside a hint of ice in her eyes for George, once she focuses on him again. "Tracy Strauss disappeared, so if anyone asks, you didn't see me. You saw Linda Johnson, advisor to Senator Petrelli. And I agree, Nathan." A real meeting. Where she's not under a desk and everyone is on the same page. Hopefully. "Congressman?"


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