2007-06-08: There Will Always Be A Storm Coming

Starring:

Claire_icon.gif Drake_icon.gif Elena_icon.gif Gene_icon.gif Jack_icon.gif McAlister_icon.gif Nathan_icon.gif Rianna_icon.gif

Guest Starring:

Heidi_icon.gif Peter_icon.gif

simon.jpg monty.jpg

Summary: Nathan's rally in Central Park.

Date It Happened: June 8, 2007

There Will Always Be A Storm Coming


Central Park

It's a beautiful afternoon at Central Park, and one of the open areas is set up for the big bash to commemorate the official start of the Petrelli campaign for U.S. Senator. Nearly a thousand people are milling about at the moment, and the number continues to rise. WNYU is set up on the pavilion stage where Nathan Petrelli is set to make his speech this evening, the afternoon drive-time pair of DJs talking with a third woman. The speakers are pumping music across the park, and there are already people dancing. Badly.

A large line of tables has been set up where people can pick up a plate of food for $10, all BBQ-style with different choices between the meats and sides. There's already a considerable line for the Ferris Wheel, and police presence is high, the cops having to have already broken up one fight. All in all, a promising start.

She was surprised there had actually been a fight. Political events don't exactly lend themselves to being pits of brawl. Those were reserved for parties on campus, and the shadier sides of New York. But she supposes it's promising - gives the impression that the candidate is actually worth brawling over, or is at least a good party-thrower. Nathan, of course, is no where in sight, because Senators-to-be are always fashionably late. Elena is actually at the end of the long line towards the barbecue, a camera slung around her neck, a baseball cap tucked backwards on her head. Dressed in a tanktop, a pair of jeans, sneakers, and a fitted jacket she looks very much like the whippersnapper she is.

She's also standing next to one of the most brilliant minds of New York City.

"I'm surprised they didn't go all out with a live band. I think the Dropkick Murphys are still in town," she tells Gene, Elena tilting her gold-flecked eyes towards her taller friend.

Though she is here to see the would-be Senator speak, Claire Bennet is trying desperately to go unseen by anyone who might recognize her. Without getting too near to the real crowd, staying far from the food and the stage, she keeps a careful eye out for anyone she might know. Any time she thinks she's spotted someone (she never has), she edges further away, tipping her chin down. It isn't hard to go unnoticed in a crowd like this, but Claire has gone the extra step of tying her hair back and hiding beneath a hat. It doesn't suit her.

Like Elena, Gene is dressed at his sexy best. Instead of wearing regular jeans, he wears jean shorts, which expose his sexy and somewhat pale legs which haven't been touched by the sun in what might have been two whole years. He wears a dark green t-shirt with the Triforce proudly displayed in gold on the front. If one don't know what the Triforce is, they might not want to talk to Gene. He has on a pair of worn black sneakers, and his attire is dressed by a black cap with the Triforce displayed as well. Gene knows the importance of matching! …Sort of.

The young inventor followed by his usual companion. Well, okay, Elena is here, but his other BBF, R2-D2. The droid follows after Gene, not making any noises currently. Gene must have muted it in a failed attempt of low profile. Gene himself is waiting at the line with Elena, but he isn't in the line personally. Why is not eating? Who knows, but he isn't. "Eh, I'm not sure. I don't pretend to keep up on what bands support who. Seems like they are making this more like a party than a rally. I thought these things were supposed to be in buildings and people wore that weird pseudo-straw hats made of plastic."

It's no secret that Jack is wildly uninterested in politics. He usually doesn't vote. He rarely reads the paper unless he's in the john. Yet here he is. One must support one's glampatriots. Vote Petrelli, he listens to Poison.

Thick framed, dark tinted driving glasses partially conceal the fading, welted bruise on the left side of Jack's head and cheek. There's a small bandage pasted on at the corner of his mouth, and there is split high on his scalp that's barely visible through his dark hair. Despite this, he cuts a far more professional air than usual in a smart black on black suit and polished shoes. Presently he's lounging in the shade of two trees near the edge of the crowd, busy daydreaming about cigarettes and trying not to get stepped on.

If Elena is in any way embarrassed being followed around by a droid which was actually built to tazer would-be muggers around, she doesn't show it. She even patpats R2's head a little bit as she waits in line. Because she is HUNGRY. She wants a hotdog. With the works. And a large orange soda. And fries. And cotton candy. And pie. You can't forget the pie………yeah she's not so much worried about the carbs or gaining weight. That was one of the very good things about being a biochemical manipulator, she can just will her metabolism to go faster. Go me! "Well, it's either he wants to make his politics appear a little more exciting, or he wants to appeal to the younger demographic and the parents," she says, rubbing the back of her neck. "I read on Time at some point that the youth and independents are the laziest demographics when it comes to voting….if a candidate manages to get them out, the better the chances of winning. Considering it's so early in the game, I think just -getting people- into these things is more the aim than anything else."

Fashionably late is a good term for it! It's just how this goes down, right? The party has been going for a little while now, before a car pulls up to the nearby stretch of road, the usual sleek-and-black sort of deal, and Nathan Petrelli steps out, along with his wife. Despite the warmth of the evening and the casualness of the event, he's inevitably dressed in suit, navy, a lighter blue shirt and a tie of patriotic red, about as impeccable as people might remember their former congressman of one day to be. He smiles brightly, lifts a hand in an almost modest but enthusiastic wave. If he's nervous, or uncomfortable? There's really no way to tell, as he seems to be in his element as he starts making his way through the crowd.

Nathan does, however, look for people he recognises in the small sea of utterly unrecognisable New Yorkers. Those he meets eyes with get a slightly more genuine smile (thought it's hard to tell the difference), an eyebrow raise. Of course, people like Claire, anyone choosing not be seen, go unnoticed.

One person in particular garners more of Claire's attention than the others, yet even as Nathan's car pulls up and he steps out with his wife, both of whom ought to draw a look from the girl, she glances instead to Jack. There's an almost disbelieving look on her face as she regards him over the edge of her sunglasses, and there is most certainly curiosity, but she doesn't approach him. Pushing the glasses back up the bridge of her nose, Claire turns her attention to Nathan.

Well, R2 was primary built for LOLs, but soon grew to much bigger and better things such as protecting Gene and providing him with a soundtrack whenever or wherever he required such things. Glancing toward the food Elena gets with a faintly disinterested look, Gene glances up to glance toward Elena as she speaks. "I'm here and I'm still not convinced I'll vote for the guy." He looks toward the droid before giving a slightly sheepish grin. "I admit I'm a little odd though." Glancing about, he hrms. "So, you know anything about this rally other than the promise of food and fun?"

Right now Jack is trying to remember if you're allowed to smoke in Central Park, and if not, how much trouble a person would be in for 'forgetting.' After glancing around and taking a quick count of the uniformed officers present, he lets out a sigh and dismisses the notion.

When Nathan Petrelli and company arrive, Jack is among the first to start clapping. He does so enthusiastically, even shoving away from his perch beneath the trees and risking being sucked into the crowd. He peers into the gathered masses as he does, glowering heavily at each and every person who has yet to put their hands together. YOU CLAP NOW.

One face stands out. Against all odds, Jack notices Claire noticing him. He smiles crookedly, pausing his applause to lift two fingers and touch his brow by way of greeting.

"Not really," Elena says. "The last time I visited the Petrelli mansion was this morning, and I didn't really get to talk to Nate. I was there mostly to visit Heidi and see how Monty's doing - I was told he broke his arm." She hands over her 10 dollars, and she comes away with a hotdog, fries…..well, whatever she can get with her ten bucks. She takes a bite of her hotdog, and manages to set it back in her plate and wipe her mouth with a red handkerchief she yanks out of her back pocket. "But I'm glad you came with me. Fries?" She offers the plate towards him. This is when Nathan and Heidi arrive, and amidst the applause, she puts her fingers to her lips and lets out a piercing whistle. Might as well go with the crowd, right? Besides - Heidi looks -smashing- in that suit. You look good too, Nate.

She takes a couple of steps back, and sweeps her eyes through the crowd. No other person she recognizes….except for the dude by the tree. She double-takes at the suit, but the hair, the stance, and the look of INCREDIBLE BOREDOM on the man's face is recognizable. "Nuncle!" She lifts her hand to wave. Hiiiii!

The music in Central Park fades away as a figure comes up to the microphone on the pavillion stage. It is none other than Arianna Rockford-Johannsen, and there is a brief tapping on the mic before she speaks up. "Ladies and Gentlemen, it is so great to see all of you out here today, and what a momentous day it is. The official first day of the campaign to bring honesty and integrity back to the Senate seats from our great State of New York!!", she calls out, and the crowd, having fallen silent, erupts into applause.

"Let's not waste any more time, because the man you have all come out to see and support is here! Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the next United States Senator representing the State of New York, NATHAN PETRELLI!!", amidst applause from the crowd assembled. She steps back and applauds herself.

Being noticed generally makes someone wave in greeting, but for Claire, it causes her to debate between edging further away from the group and perhaps approaching the man she spotted. She's less concerned now than she was, in part because it was only Jack that saw her, but mostly because Nathan is now in attendance. A small group of taller people (like most of the world isn't taller than her) tempts her to hide, but in the end, she ducks her head and moves towards Jack.

Jack probably should've known better than to try and go icognito while wearing a suit. The voice, the inflection, and use of nicknames that would earn a death sentence if uttered by any other human being are enough to identify Elena easily. Not terribly far away, he waves back and smiles wider. "Scrappy!" Whoops. Stopped clapping.

Jack likes this suit quite a bit. As such, he's extra careful while picking his way around the throng of folks and heaps of barbecued meats as he makes his approach. En route to the buffet he detours to Claire's side, still smacking his hands together like a mechanical monkey with a proverbial set of cymbals. "Hey!" What would normally be a whisper comes out as a half-shout so as to be heard over the crowd.

And up onto the stage without further ado. Could his smile get anymore brighter and polticianer? Let's open the betting. Nathan takes up his spot behind the microphone, waiting for the clapping to die away, ignoring the few flashes of cameras here and there. "Thank you," he says, to Rianna, for the introduction, before he turns his attention back to the crowd. "Thank you, all of you, for coming out here tonight. I look around and I feel proud to see and recognise those that support me. My family, the faces of friends and peers." A pause. "And of course, New York City's bachelor of the year, 2007, always an honour," Nathan adds, with a gesture and a grin in Jack's direction. Sorry Jack, if you were tryna be incognito - just warming 'em up. Nathan will totally owe you a beer or something. He notes the settling of the crowd, their attention drawing to him. Time to get into this.

"It's a wonderful evening to be here in Central Park. Just looking around, you wouldn't imagine for a second the problems we as New Yorkers continually face in our every day lives. We can't pretend it's been an easy year. The tragic shootings at the Yankee stadium haven't been forgotten. We've even experienced natural disasters threatening to shake the confidence of our city. And regretfully, even the leaders that we, as a state, have trusted to be a guiding hand and leader throughout, have compromised that trust."

Pause, not for clapping or laughter, just a beat of silence and a rearrangement of the printed out paper he's barely looking at, and he continues. "There are issues that I could address here. Tax cuts, education, health care. Important issues and policies that are on the mind of every citizen when they cast their vote. If nothing else, my campaign will seek to inform and educate those citizens about where I stand when it comes to those issues. Tonight," a flicker of a humoured smile, "it'd be a crime to keep you all from the festivities, so let's make this brief, okay?" Brief pause for laughter! Laugh, damn you! That's right. "No, I want only to talk about leadership. About what any politician needs, no matter where he or she stands."

Pleasantly surprised to be referenced in Nathan's speech, Jack grins back and raises a hand in greeting.

"No thanks, not hungry," Gene offers with a faint smile. "If you want something to put on Artoo, just let me know, he won't mind," Gene says as he pulls out his remote, as if ready to prepare the droid for something. He could say he's been sick at his stomach all day, but that's nothing really worth talking about. He thought he had the flu beat a couple of days ago, but it keeps coming back… What gives?

As Elena and Jack met once more, Gene just gives the man a neutral nod. After all, not only is he still on his Poop List, he (accidentally) shortened Ninja Night. Of course, he pauses as the teenage blond bombshell starts walking toward the group. Is that… She's… Woah.

Gene is lost to the world for a couple of seconds as he sees that cute blond in the distance. Nathan could be talking about killing all the humans and making Magneto his Vice President and Gene wouldn't notice. As he does, he presses a single button on the remote. Whatever it had on it, the result is the same.

"o/~ Why do birds suddenly appear…
Every time, you draw near?
Just like me,
They long to be…

Close to yo- o/~"
Thankfully, R2's speakers aren't too loud and by the time people likely started staring, Gene was able to turn off the sound. Putting the remote back into his pocket with a beet red face, he looks toward the droid. "You're embarrassing me in public again," Gene says in an aside to Astrodroid.

"You sure?" But the Latina won't press it if Gene doesn't want to eat, even as her eyes follow Jack through the crowd. Huh. Looks like Jack's with someone. But she can't quite tell who it is. But the music is dying and people are turning to the stage, so she falls silent. Elena observes Rianna as she gets up on stage - while she's heard of her, she doesn't put a name to the face. She's never met the Councilwoman after all. And then, Nathan's speech. She can't help but break out into a grin when he mentions Jack, and she does laugh when he segues at the Irishman's appearance. When the speech ends, she claps, the plate suddenly gone, and wiping her mouth primly with her handkerchief.

What the hell? Did she just swallow her hotdog and fries in one gulp or something?

And yes. R2 plays the background track. People stare, including Elena. She looks from between Gene's line of sight, to the young blonde with Jack (a fan? Maybe she wants to sign the New Yorker article that featured Jack in all his glamrock glory on the front), and back to Gene. She bites back a laugh, and winks at the droid, whispering as a mock aside.

"Nice work. Here's a fiver," she jokes. CLEARLY she doesn't mean it. But come on~! It was well timed!

When at first it seems as though Jack might be moving nearer to the stage, Claire hesitates, uncertain whether she ought to speak to him at all or just keep moving. In the end, she opts to keep at his side, but she takes his arm in her hand - not forcefully, but more to get his attention than anything else - and keep at this distance. "Long time no see," she says, tipping her chin down to look at him over the edge of her glasses again. Gesturing over her shoulder, she adds, "I was going to hang back here. Big crowds kind of freak me out a bit, you know?" There's an invitation implied in her tone, though she doesn't just outright say it.

There are a lot of reasons that Jack and Gene aren't fond of each other, most notably the aforementioned Ninja Night. Though he doesn't know what 'larpeen' is, he knows that he accidentally did it the night he thought Elena got killed by what turned out to be fake ninjas and samurai stars. As such, he he bobs an agreeable nod at the teen and replies, "Same, lass. When I get surrounded by folk I always fear someone's gonna either touch my butt or stab me. Anyway, s'good to see you again."

There's an apologetic wave directed toward Elena, then Jack leads his conversation partner a little further from the throng by her grip on his arm.

If there is any kind of spontaneous soundtracking by devious little robots in the crowd, well, good politicians work through these things, and Nathan doesn't appear to notice, or even hear it. Save for a slight glance in that direction. Disturbance in the Force. "It was my father that inspired me to devote my life to politics," Nathan continues, scanning the crowd as he goes, absently picking out familiar faces. His eyes linger on one, and he pauses for a moment, not really intentionally, before returning to his notes. Totally not at all flustered. For serious reals. Besides, when he looks up again, she's gone again. Either way, he continues smoothly.

"As many of you will recall, he passed away almost a year ago. This campaign will be in memory of him, for all he stood for to me. He not only taught me what it was to be a leader, but the importance of being a leader, and what it would mean to my family. It would mean not only being a guiding hand, not only devoting yourself to the cause, but to be a hero, all the time." So sure, some other people might have a slightly different memory of the late Arthur Petrelli. Nathan stubbornly sticks by his.

"But most importantly," he says, voice raising a little, "a good leader recognises what he can and cannot change. As a Senator of New York, I could only hope to represent the ideals and values of the people of New York as we face times both good and bad." He goes on with final tones, coming to the conclusion of this speech. "There will always be a storm coming. It's up to the citizens to choose who they want to weather it with, and it's time that the state of New York got the leaders they deserved."

Pause for applause. YOU CLAP NOW.

"And I look towards my family, who are once again willing to take this journey with me," Nathan continues, sparing a glance to said family, wife and brother, then back to his audience, "and I'm reminded of exactly what our state needs to remain strong. I ask only for the chance to lead so that we can all grow together and pursue a secure and brighter future. Thank you all."

And people burst out in applause. A few young college girls go: "WE LOVE YOU PETRELLI!" Because it's rare to find someone as hot as Nathan in office, and that counts for something right? RIGHT?

Elena lets out another whistle, followed by her own bit of clapping, now that she's not busy eating. At Jack's apologetic wave, she waves in turn. Female fans come first, after all. Just don't let Trina catch you, bro.

She's been just offstage the whole time - wearing one of those little dangly tags that basically amounts to 'security loves you and you're not an axe murderer as best we can tell'. Not that it's terribly visible beyond the silver lame', but hey.

Either way, Ali joins in the applause with the rest, and even offers a rather loud and happy whistle from the wings. Hey, other people are doin' it! So there. Ha.

The young inventor shoots Elena a glance at her jest, but doesn't say anything at the moment. Glad that Claire didn't notice one of his social slip-ups, Gene's attention from Jack and his conversational partner to listen on at the end of Nathan's speech. Gene's grandfather was in politics. To Gene, that should say that Nathan has the potential of being a good and honest man, just like his flesh and blood. But the slight frown on his face shows that something doesn't amuse the Happy Fun Geek.

Glancing back over her shoulder when Jack waves, Claire looks between Elena and Gene, recognizing neither. The robot does draw some attention, however, and a curious (and somewhat confused) smile tugs at one corner of her mouth. Who brings something like that to one of these? …what IS that, even? "Friends of yours?" she asks, returning her attention to Jack once more. "Yeah. Good to see you, too." Drawing in a breath, she gives him a sheepish look and admits, "I was trying to pretend I wasn't here. It was working, until you saw me."

"That's my niece and her sidekick. They're good kids. Mostly." Pausing, Jack turns to look at Claire curiously. "I hope I didn't blow your cov—ooh!" When Nathan wraps his speech, the bartender grins widely and bursts into applause again. He nudges Claire gently with one elbow, then tosses his head in the politician's direction. "I know that guy! He and I are buddies! Izzint that cool?" Mmm. Irony.

The Frowny Face next to her does not look happy. As the applause dies down, Elena glances over at Gene, scrutinizing his expression carefully. She doesn't know much about his grandfather - in fact it was a miracle that she knew Gene had family at all considering how tightlipped the young genius was about his personal life. So she just nudges him slightly with an elbow, taking her attention away from Jack and Claire at the moment so she can focus on the inventor. "What's up?" she asks, her face from cheerful to serious in .60 seconds.

The hard part is over. …oh come on, Petrelli, you love speeches and press conferences and the like, don't even act like that wasn't enjoyable. Nathan thanks everyone again at the applause, casting a very amused glance towards the college girl yells, going for appropriately modest and charmed rather than smug. Again, the line, it blurs. He scouts out the crowd while he still has a good vantage point without needing to climb the Ferris Wheel or anything, before withdrawing from the podium. Time to shake hands and work people - it's not like this job is ever over, as long as he's in public. For now, he looks to Rianna, offering her a smile. That didn't go too shabbily, it says.

Gene blinks as he gets nudged in the side. Surprise replacing displeasure, Gene looks over toward Elena as she asks her question. As if on cue, he gives a slightly uncomfortable laugh as he rubs the back of his head. "Just thinking about stuff, here and there… It's likely nothing, really." Pausing a moment to see Nathan talking with Rianna, he pauses for a moment. "I've seen her before… Huh, small world."

"Who?" Elena looks over, craning her neck to try and follow Gene's line of sight. "…the blonde?" And not the one that Jack is with, the older one on stage. She wasn't familiar to her at all. "Well, New York's pretty small in terms of cities," she offers to Gene. Even if it doesn't appear to be, but it's pretty cramped, and people run into each other all the time in the mean streets.

This is precisely why Claire didn't want to run into anyone today. Wincing slightly when Jack nudges her with an elbow, though obviously not from pain, she glances towards the stage when her companion motions that way. "That's pretty cool that you know him, yeah," she replies, trying to muster genuine enthusiasm. She's marginally successful. "You guys are buddies?" That part, she is less enthused about, and she gives him a sidelong look.

There in the wings, the DJ adjusts a glowing bangle bracelet, and peeks out at the crowd - … then? Oddly enough, she goes back to watching Nathan and Rianna, curiously. Apparently, that's interesting juju, there.

"We are." Jack is back to looking at Claire. He nibbles thoughtfully at his lower lip. Maybe… ? Nah. He shakes his head to clear his thoughts. "So how've you been keepin' busy lately?"

Rianna offers a smile in Nathan's direction before there's a slight knock on the door in his mind. (Just wanted you to be able to hear me over the din of the crowd. You did very well, Nathan. The people *are* looking for a leader. Our people need someone who can bring them out of shame for being different.), Rianna's voice intones. (You said all the right things. Enjoy the rest of the evening. We'll talk this week.), she finishes and walks down the stairs off the stage to do the handshaking and meet-n-greets with the local business leaders that help sponsor the party.

"Yeah, she was bit odd, but hey, I figure a lot of people are like that in New York, ourselves included," Gene states with a small grin. Glancing about, he hrms as he figures now might be a good time to get some info. "So, how do you know Nathan anyway? I mean, I figure get your help in the 'you-know-what' he had to of known you before it happened or something."

"Actually I didn't before the you-know-what, but I knew Peter and Heidi before that," Elena says simply. "Peter was a chance meeting, I guess we hit it off being pals….and then I was helping him out with something in his apartment when Heidi stopped by. That's how I met Heidi. I didn't really speak with Nate until after the thing…and ever since then we've had a few run-ins here and there. He's alright, he can be pretty funny in the way Papa can be pretty funny." Very dry, sardonic humor. She smiles faintly, and lifts her camera to take a picture of Heidi, Peter and the boys on stage, and then a shot of Nathan convening with the blonde woman Gene sort-of-thinks-is-familiar.

Claire has moments where she lives up to the blonde stereotype and fails to notice important details, but most of the time, she is a perceptive girl. Today is no exception. When Jack seems momentarily lost in thought, curiosity nearly has her demanding to know what has him so distracted. She resists, though barely. "Just school. One week left before exams, so it's pretty busy, plus I went out and got a job." Casting him a smirk, she says, "Not pulling anyone out of fires, if that's what you mean." It's an innocent enough remark, in a crowd like this when no one is paying attention to her. A swift look is cast back to the stage, passing over Nathan quickly before she looks back to Jack. "What happened to you? Get into trouble again?" Like she has to ask.

Nathan? Still not used to telepathy. Internally, his reaction is 'fdjkghdk', but outwardly, he manages not to react apart from a slightly sharper glance in her direction, and his smile never wavers. There's a hesitation, before he thinks a simple 'thanks', and doesn't check to see if that actually works as he walks towards his wife for a few family moment photo ops (you know, for real reporters, and Elena). He reserves anything more than that simple word for a later meeting. For now, his time is occupied by photos, and then handshakes and receiving encouragement from people that actually care about politics. It's gonna take a little while longer to break away entirely and join the party, but he's working for it.

Jack smiles and presses one long-fingered hand to his breast in a poor show of faux innocence. "Trouble? Me? I'm sure I don't know what you mean." He can't keep it up for long, and his smile quickly reverts to a more familiar lopsided grin. "Two of my pool players had a minor logistical dispute at the Den. Things got a little out of hand. No permanent casualties besides furniture, though."

Gene merely nods as he watches the people upstage. He is silent for awhile, merely folding his arms. Since Gene is horrid at hiding his emotions unless he's concentrating, he begins to frown again, sighing as he does. "You think he stands to win or it too early for you put down betting money?"

"What, are you a betting man?" Elena teases Gene, nudging him a bit with a shoulder. "I don't know yet. I'm sure once the race gets going in full gear, the polls will be coming up as soon as tomorrow after this party. But polls tend to be really unreliable these days….I guess we'll see." She smiles and inclines her head. "Come on, let's get ice cream." Didn't she just -eat-?

Okay. The speeches are done. The handshakes and the baby-kissing? not so interesting.

Ali, though, has a job to do - and in the aftermath, she's moving out to where the sound guy's doing what sound guys do, and already she's grinning, chatting with him. Time to earn that dollar. Or favor. or whatever. For the benefit of those that came to a party? Oh, see, that's the music picking up, there. Driving bass, a footloose vibe. Best place to get started, right? Especially with Bonnie Tyler announcing that We Need A Hero - let it give the people who write for a living something good to write about. For now, though, let it be music.

"The Den?" This is one of those things that Claire is going to wish she hadn't asked, isn't it? It's too late now, of course; the words are out of her mouth. Dividing her attention, though there's still a lazy smirk on her face from Jack's feigned innocence, she looks back to Nathan, tracking his movements, careful to stay out of his direct line of sight. What she's hoping is that she'll stay in places where he wouldn't want to look, in fact. Not that it matters; he could look right at her and probably not realize she's there. "That kind of trouble, I think I'm okay with." Except for the part where people got hurt, but it's better than most of what she's had to deal with for a while.

"You and me both, Blondie," Jack replies. He moves slowly until he's standing slightly behind and to the side of Claire, looking over her shoulder at Nathan. "So. You're watchin' him mighty closely." It's not a question, obviously. The query is in Jack's mild tone rather than in his words.

Gene continues to listen and watch, but he finds that before he figures he can finish figure out what to say, he finds that his stomach is giving him some issues again. He whispers into the ear of the Gomez before he wanders off where they can discuss whatever it is Gene feels the need to talk with her about. Will they return after these short messages? Only time will tell.

"Huh?" Following his gaze to the politician, Claire frowns, realizing just how obvious she was being with respect to her surveillance of Nathan. (This is one of those blonde moments.) "Oh, yeah. I'm supposed to be doing a report on this thing for school," she explains, turning her attention back to Jack. That would explain her presence here, anyway. "I kind of zoned out during his speech. I guess I'll watch it on TV later." Lies upon lies, here.

Bonnie Tyler gives way - with a nice crossfade, to Jefferson Starship announcing that We Built This City; hey, nothing wrong with the 80's here? Silver lame' and raver's bangles gleam as Ali queues up the next disc, grinning and watching the crowd. There's something thoughtful, professional in the look, but hey - when the sound guy's cracking a joke about democrats? You listen. And you snicker.

"Ahhhh." His expression thoroughly neutral, Jack steps back around in front of Claire and nods agreeably. "Teachers have you doing reports during exam week? How very nose to the grindstone of them." Jack crosses his arms over his chest, unconsciously tapping the pack of unfiltered cigarettes that's tucked inside his jacket. After letting out a low snort of laughter, he shakes his head and continues. "I could tell you a few secrets about ol' Nate Dogg that you're not likely to hear elsewhere. Could pad your report nicely."

Narrowing her eyes, Claire can't quite decide if Jack can tell that she's lying to him. Teenaged suspicion suggests that her covers been blown, but she stubbornly holds onto her story. "One of my teachers assigned a project instead of an exam," she explains, and it's not SO far-fetched, as a lie. "I got stuck with this one." She certainly has all the indignation of an adolescent down. Still, what Jack says intrigues her, and one eyebrow arches. "What sort of secrets?"

NOTHING wrong with the 80s at all. Nathan will hire this McAlister person for everything, and Elle, if she's ever there, can just deal with it. When the press of people and, well, press finally cut Nathan some slack, he lets himself go to mingle with a quick handsqueeze for Heidi. There's a moment where he does see Jack and Claire, talking amongst themselves. He could walk over. However, then he might have to do the 'we don't know each other' dance with Claire, so essentially? He leaves them be, after a few lingering, curious looks. Maybe later. Melt into crowd? Assimilation complete!

Heading into the park is Drake at a jog, blasting some music into his ears, and carrying a pair of hand weights. He's wearing a pair of jogging pants, with a matching shirt, and his hair is pulled back by a sweat band to keep the drooping bangs out of his face. His eyes are hard, and frustrated as his face looks steely focused on whatever thoughts seem to be tumbling about in his skull. As he goes, he slows to a stop as he catches some familiar faces out of the corner of his eye, those that belong to Jack, and Claire, and only vaguely recognizable is McAlister.

"Mmm. I have stories," Jack replies vaguely. He reaches up to brush the backs of his finger down his jaw, which is almost completely clean shaved. "I should probably talk to The Man Himself and let him know some little blond slip wants to write about 'im. I don't want to end up having pissed off a senator."

It's actually a pretty good crowd, all things considered - there's a stage, and a political rally in the post-speech-music-playing-press-question-answering stage. And ya know? the music's pretty darned 80's, really. Ali's dishing out the remnants of Starship - and it looks like a handful more is queued up, the DJ stepping back and away from the sound board, shedding silver lame' to a nearby chair. And then? She's mingling. T-shirt and horrible earrings notwithstanding, among the better dressed political sorts.

Well, that makes her nervous. Shifting her weight, Claire fixes Jack with a questioning look, though she never voices whatever is on her mind. Instead, she says, "He probably wouldn't care about what a high school student would write about him. It's not like anyone's going to read it." She pauses for half a second, then adds, "Since when do you care about pissing someone off?"

"Hey I—Ahh, who am I kidding? I usually don't. But it's not every day you make friends with a guy who'll put on stonewashed jeans so's he can get into a good party." Jack lets out a wistful sigh, savoring what few memories he's retained from the night of the drunken costume bash. "Nate's a solid sort. If he ran for President, I'd vote for him."

Slowing down to a bit of a brisk walk, Drake steps around a few of the gathered people that still linger from the rally, pulling his sweat band off his head. As his hair flops down into his face, he works it away with his fingers, then heads over towards Jack and Claire as they talk, curiously lifting up a brow as he quietly clears his throat. He doesn't look to interrupt, but at least let them know he's there.

The remark about stonewashed jeans sails straight over Claire's head. Jack might as well be speaking another language for all she knows about what he's talking about, but she doesn't ask for clarification. This is another one of those things she'd almost certainly rather not know about, especially since it has to do with her father. "I don't know if I would," she says, the most truthful thing she's said to Jack all evening. It takes Drake clearing his throat to break Claire's attention away, and she looks his direction with a smile. "Hey!"

Starship gives way to a bit of Skynard, the band asking for Three Steps as Ali moves through the crowd, picking the far side of the stage and bounding up the (coincidentally) three steps that take her up to the platform, then let her head left Behind the Screen. Seems she's got a mission, for now, at least.

Jack shrugs his broad shoulders, then waves to Drake when the young man approaches. "Hey kid." Still acting on instinct, Jack drags the pack of cigarettes from his inside pocket, shakes one free, and twists it in place between his lips. It's not until he's fumbling for a match that he realizes he's probably about to break some sort of statute or mandate. Frowning, he turns back to Claire. "I'm gonna get out of here. You've got my number. Give me a call, we'll grab a bite in Chinatown like old times."

Drake twitches his lips up slightly to Claire as he offers her a quick smile, before giving Jack a nod. "Hey guys." He says, sliding his hands into his pockets as he shifts some on his feet, stubbing one foot against the ground with a light tap. As Jack says he is taking off, he ohs to himself, then says, "See you later, Jack. Nice seeing you again."

"You owe me some secrets," Claire quips back to Jack, flashing him a swift smile as he begins to head off. One hand raises in a quick wave. "Later, Jack!" She tracks him for a few seconds after he leaves, still undecided about how much of their interaction was genuine and how much they were each keeping to themselves. Her attention sliding back to Drake, Claire asks, "Did you come to see the rally?"

Shaking his head, Drake says, "No, I didn't, actually. I just wanted to get out of the house for a bit." He says, trailing off as he tracks Jack with his eyes for a moment, before turning to her. "So.." He trails off for a moment in thought. "How are you doing?" He asks curiously. "Got you a gift from San Francisco." He says with a chuckle.

"You did?" Canting her head to one side, Claire looks curiously to Drake, arching a brow. "What did you get me?" She considers his question for a few moments, however, and rubs one arm with the opposite hand. "I'm good. Busy with school, since it's exams in a week and my parents are expecting me to ace them. I got a job at a little restaurant by my house, too, so if I'm not studying, I'm at work."

"That's cool. Having a job is awesome." Drake says as he rubs the bridge of his nose a bit, before clearing his throat. "It's nothing much, really. Got you a stuffed bear wearing a Niner's jersey. Thought it was cute, so.. I picked it up." With a hint of a smile across his lips, he says, "So, I have a lot to tell you. Um..not really sure how to put it. It's.. awkward, to say the least." He says as he wrings his hands together.

The description of the gift warrants a bright smile from Claire, and she pulls the sunglasses from her nose, sliding one of the arms into her pocket to hold them there. "That's sweet," she says, sincerely impressed that he would have remembered her stuffed animal collection, even if most of them came from her father. "Thanks." The next part of what he says doesn't sit well with her, however, and her frown is almost instant. "Okay…" She searches his face for an indication of what it might be, but when she finds nothing, she asks, "What is it?"

Shrugging his shoulders upwards, Drake looks around the park, furrowing his brows for a moment, before saying, "Would rather not talk about it out in the open." He says, his voice low. "Just, not exactly safe, I guess." He says, then bites his bottom lip as he mulls what he has to say over in his head. Reaching out, he slides his hand into hers, giving it a firm squeeze, then gestures as he leads her off through the park, so that they can talk without anyone overhearing by chance.

More concerned than she was before, Claire follows after Drake with a frown, after one final glance over her shoulder to find Nathan in the crowd as he meets and greets.

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