2010-03-23: To Risk Everything



Date: March 23rd, 2010


Nathan and Tracy's plans take new directions.

"To Risk Everything"

Tracy's Safehouse

New Jersey

Tracy has done enough traveling for one day. She's ready to go should the moment arise, and with all that's going on, she wouldn't be surprised if she had to spring up at any second. However, with the person she's to speak with on their way to her, and having learned her lesson from earlier and deciding to wait until the New York offices of Lane Industries are less inhabited to do her investigating, she has a moment to herself. While everyone else in the house is occupied, shut in by the rainy weather, and no one needs her direction or to put out a fire (figurative or otherwise), she has a moment of downtime.

She sits on the long, antiquated white couch beneath the front window, a hand to her forehead and her legs drawn up beside her. It's slightly chilly in the old building, drafty, but despite her short-sleeved, pearly grey blouse, she afghan blanket beside her goes unused. A laptop — not hers, but borrowed — is open on the coffee table, the screen cluttered with numerous instances of writing programs filled with notes.

A motorcycle treads up the otherwise, quiet-ish street. The black cyclist parks and then dismounts, but the helmet is left on until the black leatherclad figure stands outside the front door. He'd seen Tracy through the window so he knows he's in the right place. He takes a moment before removing his helmet, revealing Nathan's rugged features — even more rugged with the presence of his whiskered face. After tucking the helmet underneath his arm he runs a hand through his hair and rings the doorbell.

He's been searching through his own files, examining government contracts and the like in an effort to understand how the Protocol aims to accomplish its goals.

Tracy raises just far enough to catch a glimpse out the window. She can't see Nathan from this angle, but what she can see is the motorcycle. It's telling enough, so she moves from the couch to the nearby door, though she does glance out the peephole first. After a few locks are scraped undone, she pulls the door open. "Hello Senator." Not especially genial, her greeting is almost dismal. She steps aside with a vague gesture of one arm for him to come in.

A sign of life elsewhere in the building appears when a figure hurriedly runs back up the stairs from where he'd been spying on the newcomer. Another resident of the safehouse.

"Tracy," Nathan greets. His greeting matches hers. And not for any reason other than he trusts this means bad news. He steps through the entrance and smirks at the figure running up the stairs and issues Tracy a soft smile. Ironically, he misses his boys. When he'd been away for over a year, he didn't even think of them. Of course, that's the joy of having one's memory back.

He sets the helmet on the floor near the door, easier to retrieve later. "Looks like you've been busy," he observes with a glance towards the laptop.

The way is lead to the living area. It's sparse, and not very decorated, a far cry from even Tracy's New York apartment under the alias of Linda Johnson. "Yeah … you don't know the half of it," Tracy says of the computer — and more. Before she delves into it, however, she turns. Though her dreary expression has gone nowhere, her brows lift. "Can I get you anything?"

"I'm fine. Thank you," Nathan says until he issues her a weary-yet-easy-enough smile, "Unless I need booze… bad news (?) goes better with Scotch…" His tone is comical, he's trying to stay positive through everything, but it's entirely possible anything Tracy has found could borderline catastrophic. The Senator sits on the couch, tugging on the bottom of his leather jacket beforehand.

The way Tracy's brows lift further and she gives Nathan a pointed look edged with concern suggests that yeah, he might want that Scotch. She'll let him decide. First, she reclaims her spot on the couch, down a ways from Nathan in front of the computer. She doesn't have to look at it to deliver her information, however. It's all been quite ingrained in her mind. "Just when you think it couldn't get worse…" It gets worse. She looks down. "… Maybe you know from Peter already, but I found out who made those collars you were talking about… the same people are connected to buyers."

Nathan watches her intently. Her body language is telling enough. His own closes off some as he folds his arms over his chest and leans back into the couch. His eyes clamp shut as he exhales deeply — almost in a sigh. This is exhausting. All of it is exhausting. His eyes open, as every trace of mirth disappears from his face. The haggard-looking Senator bites his bottom lip, eyes narrowing. He can almost feel the trajectory of the heaviness that's coming, "Who made the collars?"

"Lane Industries. Capable of some serious firepower. I came across their name a few times back when I lobbied for some defense contracts. I've met their PR guy." But, back to the present: "I was in their D.C. office this morning. Don't worry, I went unnoticed … mostly. It's been about money all along." Tracy shakes her head in confounded disgust. She's no stranger to love of money, but this — this is different. At least it gives her some perspective. "Money and… what. Combat? War? People like us are being bought and sold to … what sounds like terrorists." That's the word Micah used and she can't disagree. "This is miles outside the realm of the US government."

Nathan's expression has a renewed heaviness. He swallows around his dry mouth and shakes his head a little. This is very bad news. His face pales before he plants his face in his hands, taking a few moments to think through this all. His mind does its work as he weaves facts together. A government-funded program that is designed to sell people as weapons to terrorists. Terrorists who would then use said weapons on the United States. This, in his own mind, can mean one thing. Lifting his head from hands he stares at Tracy, his jaw tightening, "It's insurrection, isn't it?"

"Yes. And worse." Remember that comment Tracy made about 'just when you think things couldn't get worse…'? It still applies. "They purchased one of us — Emily Caulfield, a woman who can possess others. Control them. If they aimed her at the President… or any world leader, or…" Her eyes move as rapidly as the thoughts in her mind. "The possibilities are endless. Nathan— " She shifts slightly on the couch to further face the Senator. "You said you wanted all this to stop. I'm still your advisor. You're still a Senator and you're letting your career waste away in an imaginary hospital bed."

"World domination. Easily acquired. Legally given by world leaders themselves. Possessed world leaders." Nathan is still processing, silently, in his own mind. "And why wouldn't they aim her at the President? If… if I was a terrorist who managed to acquire such a weapon, that's what I would do…" His jaw clenches tightly. "I want it to stop. My family is safe. I've just… been trying to figure out what we're up against this time. We went it blind. How — how do I even stop this? If the government is essentially hands-off, the only way to stop it is to take it to the Commander in Chief. If I go — " His expression has turned grim. "Tracy, you are my advisor. Advise me."

"I'll advise you, Nathan, but you have to be willing," Tracy says firmly, studying Nathan for any signs to the contrary. Signs of weakness. "You're right, the President does need to know. We can only hope he's in the dark about what the Protocols are really about. Problem is, you're not gonna be able to get close to him. Not… without some serious creativity." Like Nathan's Swiss army knife of a brother, but she doesn't say as much.

"The world thinks you're sick. You have to show 'em that you're strong. You need to be a Senator again." A powerful gaze is pinned on Nathan, pointed. "Maybe the President can't see you personally… but even the White House watches the news."

There's a stunned silence for several moments after Tracy speaks. Finally, Nathan nods. He understands. He completely understands. "The airwaves. The public." He bites his bottom lip. A reckless grin spreads across his lips, "I'm willing, Tracy. Something needs to be done. I'm a Senator, and if I let this happen, what would be the point?" His grin broadens some.

"I need a suit. And a way to get on television without being caught. Pete. And we'll need to find a way to have a press conference without having it raided…"

Tracy has no matching grin, and the recklessness of Nathan's frankly has her slightly concerned. Her own demeanour heavy and grounded, she presses on with no shortage of ideas. "I'm sure we both have about a hundred contacts who could call a press conference without needing to attach your name. Congressman Dawson." Her brows raise, blue eyes intent. "Are you sure about this?" she asks, looking for confirmation. Needing it. "Because, once you stand up there and start talking… there's no going back."

Nathan sighs, his Brayden recklessness hiding underneath his Senator-demeanour. "Maybe Dawson would help us. He'd be putting himself at risk, but he wants this resolved as much as we do, I'm sure." His eyebrows furrow as he sighs and nods. "I'm sure," the recklessness is gone and replaced with weariness. "I know the risks. I know I could get caught." Among other things. "But, I… I owe this to people. Several people." Claire. Peter. Angela. "And that's why I do what I do."

Accepting of that answer, Tracy looks away into the dull room. She's quiet for awhile, save for a long sigh, also weary and resigned to the path they've laid out. Hands on her knees, she sitts pin-straight without an ounce of relaxation. "A lot of people aren't gonna like this," she says after her spell of silence. "No matter what you say… we risk… exposure. The public finding out about…" Tracy looks over at Nathan, worry evident in her eyes, but also an incongruous glimmer of hope or wishful thinking: that it's a better future. "…about people like us."

"We risk everything," Nathan says honestly. "I risk everything. But then… without risk, there is no reward. We need to do this if we're going to stop it." His voice turns to a whisper I need to do this." It's the only way he can make up for what Logan did to everyone. To his family. It's atonement. His atonement.

"Better— late than never." Tracy manages a small smile though her eyes remain serious. After regarding Nathan for a long moment, the advisor — so suddenly taking up her responsibilities again as of today —leans ahead toward the laptop, sliding it across the edge of the coffee table in front of them to face Nathan. "This is everything I have on the Protocols." And everything in-between. With another sigh, she pushes to her feet and drifts away from the couch. "…I think you could use that drink now."

"Y-yeah," Nathan's lips quirk upwards into a very very small very weak, very weary smile. He leans towards the laptop, glancing through the text documents, scanning them quickly. With a slight frown he finishes reading before burying his face in his hands again, the weight of this decision wearing on him. He murmurs to himself, "It's what I have to do. There is no other way here…"

On the heels of Nathan's murmuring, Tracy reappears with two not-quite-half-full glasses. It looks something like Scotch. Promising, right?

The kitchen is not so far away, and given her sober, watchful countenance… she heard some of the words that weren't meant for her. Slowly, she lowers herself back down next to Nathan. "There… are a lot've people working a lot've different angles against this thing." She has several angles herself. Tracy offers one of the drinks Nathan. "…I'd really like someone to trust this time."

Scotch. Nathan's first love. Always first in his heart. Forever. He smiles softly at her before shrugging and bringing the liquid to his lips. It's exactly what he needs at this moment. "You can trust me. Whether I can do anything about it is — " his grin grows just a little, it's ironic now, not really joyous " — a crap shoot. But this might be our best chance. I just … need to figure out what to say…"

As she takes a sip from her own glass, Tracy can't help but roll her eyes just a touch. She sets the drink down on the coffee table. "I suppose our best chance is better than no chance. Still … I don't like to gamble. No, if you're gonna do this you have to believe it. Here." An arm stretching out toward the laptop, she slides closer to Nathan in order to use it. "You can start writing right now. I'll give you pointers."

Nathan inhales a deep breath and lets it go very very slowly. His eyes close for a moment as his fingers find their place on the keys. "I haven't written a speech in ages…" since December. Ages. "Alright. A speech." His eyebrows furrow as the keys click underneath his fingers. The closeness earns a grin. There's something all-too-familiar about it. Niki. His eyes close for a moment as he takes several more deep breaths to try clearing his head.

They fail.

"I think the problem is the risk. It's all risk. To make Americans aware we… we have to come out, at least a little. Don't we? I can't think of any other way to expose this…"

"Probably," Tracy concedes with a tip of her head. "But first and foremost, you want to get the attention of the government who doesn't know what's going on right under their noses. Such aaas… the President. You could start with weapons trade talk. Buying and selling. It's radical and it'll get you noticed." By all the right people… and all the wrong people. "Even if … you do… risk everything. What's the alternative? A world where the only way people see us is when we're being used as weapons?"

Rhetorical. Tracy watches Nathan in the close quarters — which she notices as well, evidenced, if slightly, by watching a little bit too long without finishing her thought. "…You already have your opening line…" she goes on. "Without risk, there's no reward."

"Right. Weapons trade," Nathan nods. "Without risk, there's no reward," he repeats. His eyes fix on Tracy. His thoughts are buzzing again. And he needs to centre them on something, anything. He leans towards her, head tilting to brush his lips against hers.

Tracy's eyes — if not her thoughts — had drifted back to the computer screen, the dull glow in an otherwise increasingly dim and grey room. When she looks back to re-meet the intent gaze on her, she has approximately half a second to realize Nathan's intent. It doesn't honestly matter, though, in the end. She puts up no quarrel; instead, she kisses Nathan back with a sort of impulsive intensity.

So much for speech-writing?


"You must be willing to risk everything to really express it all." — John Cassavetes

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