2009-11-05: Three Times Is Friendly Action



Date: November 5, 2009


Pol and shoe model are driven apart when a G-man brings the fear, only to find themselves together again at home.

"Three Times Is Friendly Action"


It's midafternoon and the air is chilly, this is Chinatown though, and the congestion of people on the sidewalks keep most warm. It's a rare occasion to find the champagne tressed woman alone, it's an even rarer occasion to find her sober and awake so early in the afternoon. This particular afternoon though, she is headed toward a job, a model shoot for Jimmy Choo (one of her favorite footwear designers). It was a hard nab and her mother had cajoled her father into pulling quite a few favors to offer the position to the young Van Cortlandt. And in a rare bid to not screw it up, Hallis has actually made the effort to be awake, alive and in good form to meet the photographer.

Glancing at the watch on her wrist, Hallis notes that she's actually about a half hour early. Therefore, it's been decided that she'll spend a little bit of time perusing the sidewalk stands for some earrings, or maybe a new shawl. At the moment, she is wearing a pair of 3 1/3" heels, a pair of seamed nylons, a tunic that doubles as a dress, and a thick cashmere wrap. Her sunglasses are Coco Chanel and her hat is … a beret of sorts.

Ooh, French headgear in Chinatown. Good call. Meanwhile, George's choice of outfit might meet with her approval: casual sportswear, but the really nice kind that actually feels comfortable from the get-go, instead of having to be browbeaten and frayed into it over the course of years. He didn't pick it out to conform with any particular trend, it's just a nice way to spend his not-inconsiderable money.

Unaware that the fashion plate on leggy legs is nearby, he steps out of a shop, carrying a paper lantern in plastic wrap; the old one at his apartment was ruined when his upstairs neighbor's pipe burst and soaked downward.

There are a pair of earrings, too cheap looking and rather ugly. The thin wrap looks a little too cheap for her tastes. She walks slowly from table to table, sneering as she finds a man selling cheap knock offs of good designer bags. Cucci? I don't think so. Not for this girl. And it's at that moment Hallis turns away from the stand and meanders toward the store, nearly colliding with the man carrying the lantern.

"Hey!" she cries out, as she veers to the side, avoiding him completely. Then she looks up to his face and places a gloved hand to her mouth, trying to hide her amusement. "Well hey…" she says in a softer tone, her eyes pouring over him like she's judging Mr. Universe. Spotting the paper lantern in his hand, her lips twitch to a Mona Lisa smile and she removes her dark glasses, folding them into one hand.

George starts to duck the other way as well, only to mostly wind up turning around in place, glancing Hallis up and down. "Hey," he echoes, completing the turn and slipping his free arm around the young lady's waist. "This is a new look for you— I take it you're not here because grandmother has a thing for fugu?"

Hallis shakes her head and rolls her eyes. "No, dinner with Grandmother is once a week. This time is all business." She places one hand on his bicep, of the arm wrapped around her waist of course. A noncommittal gesture of affection, something that makes them both look good while they give any cameras around them a little PDA. Speaking of which, there is a flash nearby, and Hallis turns to face whoever is holding the camera. It's too late now, the camera man probably has a picture of both their faces. By coincidence, just as the next flash goes off, the cameraman is jostled and the lens falls to the ground, smashing open and exposing the film.

A smirk forms on Hallis' face as she witnesses the display, no pictures today, how lucky is that? "I have a meeting in about a half an hour, with a photographer. A real one, not that kind. I have a modeling job for Jimmy Choo, if they think my feet are pretty enough." She lifts on leg behind her in a classic pose, giving the politician a smile. "What do you think?"

Coincidence. Riiiight. George knows better - there's that familiar buzzing sensation running through his head, and not (just) because of Hallis's attentions - but he maintains a practiced straight face. Someone else may well manage the shot, but what does he care? They're being pretty harmless anyhow.

"I think his reputation for good taste is well-earned," he replies to her, unabashedly buttering her up. Another thing he's had plenty of experience doing. "They doing headgear, too? I could see it being a companion piece, tops and bottoms."

"You're sweet, Congressman." Hallis purrs, stepping back a pace and replacing her glasses. She shrugs at his question, then shakes her head a little, rolling her eyes behind the dark shades. "George, really… Everyone knows that Jimmy Choo is shoes and handbags, I highly doubt there's headgear in it at all." The comment is made with a flirtatious smile, the young woman is obviously teasing the gentleman. Taking another glance at her watch, she looks up at him and narrows her eyes a little bit, as though considering…. "Do you want to come with me?"

It is the middle of the day in Chinatown. Being one of the more congested places in the city, the chill in the air is barely felt as pedestrians meander along the sidewalks packed in almost as tightly as sardines. One one such sidewalk, in a small oasis of space stands Congressman Dawson with young celebutante Hallis Van Cortlandt. They are chatting amicably, and every once in a while the young deb touches the man's bicep or chest in a very familiar fashion. He has not been without his own samples of PDA though, as recently his arm was photographed around her waist.

Adorable. It makes Fel miss his own lovely mail-order bride. The Fed's dour and tired-looking, as he comes out of one of the little Chinese groceries, plastic bag over his arm - clad in a gray overcoat, white scarf, expression thoughtful. Though it lightens a little. "Congressman," he says, politely, when he's in the range to be easily heard.

And there's another familiar voice. What was his name, again? Their paths have crossed a number of times before, but mostly a couple years back, when George was just working for a big-name politician rather than campaigning in his own right. Something KGB-sounding, he's certain of that much.

"Agent," he calls back, buying a few more seconds while he glances around and tries to pick Felix out of the crowd. There's not a lot of white guys around, so it doesn't take long. "Hallis, this is Agent… Isyanov?" Probably wrong, but it's in the ballpark and it's as close as he can remember. "Of the FBI, or was at last count. Miss van Cortlandt was just telling me about her upcoming photo shoot."

Hallis leans a little closer to the congressman as he makes the introductions. One hand going toward her glasses to remove them, as is polite, the other extending to the Agent. "Pleasure." she says with a tight smile. "I always thought FBI people were supposed to be all secret and spy-ish?" The young woman is definitely showing how 'up' she is on the law enforcement aspect of the judicial system. It's cute, really, how vapid the blonde can be… Cuter still is how she's either too dumb to notice, or too self absorbed to care.

"Agent Ivanov," Felix corrects, with a grin. "And what makes you think I am not?" he retorts to Hallis, tone teasing. "Some of us are cops, some of us are spooks. Photoshoot, hm?"

George smirks. "Yeah, he's one of the ones that's so bad-ass he doesn't need to be secret," he deadpans. "Probably a designated sniper." Throughout all this, that arm has yet to leave Hallis's waist. "Shoes and purses, apparently. Though he probably could branch out if he wanted to, and it's not like he'd have a ton of competition in that field anyhow."

"Well.. I always thought the FBI was one of those jobs where, you know…" Hallis pauses for a moment and clears her throat, deepening her voice. "If I told you, I'd have to kill you." Her eyebrows knit together and her lips pucker out slightly as she tries to put on the most stern face she can imagine. When she finishes, the expression smooths to her normal neutral pose. "Spooks? Are those like… ghosts? Or…?" Apparently, the young woman is a little too politically correct to mention the second term.

Felix chuckles at that. "No, that's hostage rescue. I'm nowhere near that bad-ass. Just a brick agent," he notes, amused. HE shakes her offered hand, firmly. "And no, that's really more the CIA. No, spies," he corrects her, tone light, as if humoring her.

George does finally let go, switching off the paper lantern from his other hand as he takes a step to one side. "We have this habit of running into each other right when something interesting's about to happen. Mugging, car crash, three-card monte…" Does she know what three-card monte is? She seems the type who could lose a grand and not bat an eye.

Clearly, Hallis is quite lost to the conversation as she lowers her hand after the shake. "Brick agent…" she repeats in a low tone, perhaps making a mental note to find out exactly what that is? When George move away, she glances up at him and her lips twitch to a very small smile. "And the interesting thing this time?" She was almost too afraid to ask, she's watched James Bond, people are likely to start shooting at them any second. "I hope it's something good, like the three-card monte, at least I'm hoping that was good."

Fel does look around, in mock expectation, and then looks at George like he should produce a rabbit out of his hat, or something. "That's true." And then there's all but a lightbulb going off over his head, and his half-grin fades. "I wonder why that's so?"

…why is that so, actually? George doesn't think it has to do with his ability - some things really are just coincidences - but then sometimes it's hard to tell exactly where the line is drawn. Especially if one of the cars nearly runs you over. "I asked myself that once," he offers, "and then I decided I didn't really want to know. Let's hope it's just Hal getting the gig, right?"

Hallis gives the congressman a look of complete surprise as he uses her nickname. She stumbles over her words a little and then halts, taking a slight cleansing breath. "Y-e-Yes, I h-" Pause. "Yes, I hope that's what the interesting thing is." she murmurs, a little embarrassed that she allowed him to make her so flabbergasted. Checking her watch again, she gasps and glances down the sidewalk. "I'm going to be late…" she says quickly, turning to the congressman and reaching up to place a kiss on his cheek. "If you're not busy tonight, call me?" Then she gives the agent a quick smile and a small wave, "Pleasure meeting you, sir." And with that… she's off.

Fel can't help himself. He laughs aloud. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to scare her off. Might as well blame the oddities on me. I do have the most bizarre luck," he notes, offering her a little wave in return. "Have a good day, miss."

George leans a bit toward Hallis at just the last moment, sensing the reason behind her approach. And then… there she goes. "Yeah, if I'm not busy tonight," he echoes, waving to the back of her shoulderblades.

He didn't have anything specific scheduled past nine o'clock or so. But yes, he'll be busy tonight. He can feel it in his gut.

"I suppose I should get going myself," he adds, nodding to Felix. "But what is a brick agent, anyway? I'm not familiar."

"It sounds a lot more glamourous than it is. It means the Agents who actually go out and wear out their shoeleather on the bricks." Fel says, pointing down at the walkway they stand upon.

Despite his date being unexpectedly cut short, George quirks his lips into a faint smile. "Oh, a beat cop," he teases. "Well, good luck with it, just remember not to announce your retirement ahead of time." Another wave is offered as he heads off the other way, fishing out his cell phone to check what's next on the agenda.

Felix concedes, "More or less. And I used to be oneof those, too. Have a good evening, Congressman."

Greenwich Village

He was right, oh boy was he ever: between one thing and another, it's a good six hours later than he planned when George finally makes it back to his apartment. He didn't even get to stop by before dinner, so he's still lugging that damn paper lantern around. At least it didn't manage to catch on anything and rip to shreds before he had a chance to hang it up.

Not wanting to tempt fate any further, he actually waits till his door is closed and bolted before he takes his phone out and punches in Hallis's number. No, she hasn't yet ascended to speed-dial status, but he does like to keep promises.

It's still early evening as far as Hallis' internal chronometer is telling her. And when the call rings through on her iPhone, she glances at the display and smirks before answering. "Hello?" she says in a low voice, feigning that she doesn't know who exactly is on the other end. The smile is already twinging on her lips and to keep from pacing the floor, she lays down on her bed.

Her dinner consisted of a few bites of takeout Chinese, she was in Chinatown all day, so the mood struck her. The rest of her leftovers are in the small mini fridge that is hidden under a tablecloth. Her apartment is of a different fare, instead of a kitchenette, she has a walk in closet. Her father had it gutted and built in when he bought the place years ago, knowing full well that none of the women in his family actually knew how to cook.

And that they were wealthy enough that they probably wouldn't need to. The apartment down the hall (though George doesn't know it yet) has undergone some simpler tweaks, of which his earlier purchase is a typical example. "You said to call when I was free," he says, turning on the speakerphone and chucking the device onto his couch as he unwraps the lantern and reaches up to loop it onto a tiny hook. "Guess what kind of evening I've had?"

Humming softly, Hallis begins the guessing game with one of the obvious answers, at least for her. "You went to the most outrageous government party in a different country and you're barely standing right now.. and the reason you called is because you missed me all night. But the agent that captured you wouldn't let you pick up the phone until you left the party, because it was top secret." It's elaborate, and quite out of the ordinary, but hey… So is Hallis. With that, she lets off a soft laugh and rolls onto her back.

George doesn't respond right away, occupied with keeping the string bunched up properly. Ah, there it goes. "I like the way you think," he replies, "but no, nothing so cloak-and-…" Then he trails off, considering more carefully the sound of the words he was just hearing. There was an echo there, as if it were coming through an air duct after going round a corner. Or maybe it's just the phone reacting unpleasantly to being too close to the TV; it does that a lot. "Anyway, you're up!" he adds, picking it up and switching back to normal operation. "I was about fifty-fifty on getting to talk to your voicemail."

"I don't know what planet you're from, Congressman, but here in New York City it's still the middle of the afternoon." You can almost hear the smile as Hallis speaks. When she invited him to call her, she expected it around dinner time, isn't that when politicians go out? When it hadn't come, she'd just assumed he wasn't her type and went out with a friend for shopping and a coffee. "So what are your plans for the rest of the night? By my watch there's at least four more hours before I have to be asleep."

There's that echo again. Definitely not interference with the TV.

It couldn't be.

(It is.)

"Maybe I've been inside the Beltway a little too much this year. Where are you? Oh, and how'd the gig go?"

"I'm at home, why?" Hallis is curious. Just the way he asked keeps her mind off the rest of her news, at least for now. "And what's a Beltway?" She rolls off the bed and meanders into her bathroom, checking her makeup against the mirror and light in there. It's not the most natural lighting, but it'll do, at least enough to get her through the rest of the night. Noticing a small flaw, she picks up her eyeliner and begins to reapply around her eyes, freshening it.

George doesn't press. Maybe it's bad news. Maybe it's good news, but she wants a chance to monologue it. "Highway runs around Washington DC," he explains. "And— you wouldn't happen to be in a high rise in Greenwich?" Suspecting the truth, he reaches for the door to unlock it again and peek outside.

Hallis halts for a moment and slowly answers with a "Yeeess?" She emerges from her bathroom to look around her apartment. She is dressed in nothing but her tunic now, so going any further than her living room is somewhat out of the question, at least until she cajoles him into taking her out.

Well, George is still decent, so - checking to make sure he still has his keys on him - he steps further out, shifting the phone to his other hand as he wanders in the general direction of what he thinks he heard earlier. "Nice view, I bet." By now, he's close enough that she might hear him through the walls, too.

"It is, fairly nice." Hallis admits, wandering to the window to peek out through the curtains. Her apartment is without a balcony, something she's never been really comfortable with anyway, so she contents herself to sit on the window ledge and look out at the lights. The echo she hears is written off to interference, cell phones in this city have never been as good as they could be.

With the quota of small talk filled for the moment, George gets to the point. "Anyway, if you wanted to make up for lost time, there's an all-night fusion place just down the block. We can grab a booth, you can tell me how you knocked 'em dead?" He peers down at the street through the narrow window at the end of the hall - he does have a balcony on his side, but it's currently blocked off by some boxes that he's been meaning to have shipped to his place nearer the capital.

"That sounds great, do you want me to meet you there? Or will you be picking me up?" Jackpot. Sliding off the ledge, Hallis wanders back through the apartment and to her walk in. She begins to rummage through the multiple racks of clothing, looking for something a little more appropriate to wear for a late night on the town.

"Oh, I should probably just meet you there," George replies. "You know how parking lots and lobbies are— the kind of night I've had, we'd end up losing another hour. Though we managed to not have another car crash earlier." At least not the literal type - and even with that one incident a couple years back, they didn't actually crash into each other. Nearly mowed down a couple pedestrians along the way…

"Alright, I'll meet you there in about twenty minutes? I still have to get dressed." Hallis' admission is made with a sly smile. It is then she moves over to the door to peek out the peephole, having heard something outside her door. She nearly drops the phone in surprise at what she sees and hurries to unlock each of her locks with one fumbling hand. Throwing open the door, she comes face to face with George, both of them still holding the phones to their ears. "Hey…" she says with a smile, the stereo effect seeming just a little bit comical to her.

George grins back. So he was right, after all. "Nice view," he repeats - and considers tossing his phone to her, but having been recently reminded that that never seems to go well, he just hangs it up and dumps it into a pocket as he walks over to join her. "I have to say, though, that twenty minutes sure went by pretty quickly."

Hallis smiles and pushes the button to her phone, cutting it off. She steps back from the door to invite him inside, closing and locking the door behind him after he enters the apartment. "The twenty minutes hasn't even started yet," she murmurs, just loud enough for him to hear. She leans back against the door, her hand still gripping the handle.

Reaching down, still close to the door - and thus to Hallis - George takes hold of her fingers, guiding them away from the metal. "You're going to hurt yourself there if you're not careful," he says, just before his lips meet hers.

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