2009-10-24: True Lies



Date: October 24th, 2009


In light of Rebel's message, Cass tries to break into Peter's apartment for clues about where he was going before he got caught. Tracy shows up and spends a good deal of time trying to convince Cass they're on the same side.

"True Lies"

Peter's Apartment


While it's not exactly as early in the morning as it was when Cass received the text from Rebel about Peter, it's still morning. On Sundays, most people are lazing about, but the bookstore owner has left Abby in the care of Lachlan and decided to do some snooping of her own. While Peter may be taken by the government, he may have left some clues behind in his apartment as to where he was going and therefore where they picked him up and where they've taken him. It's not exactly the most well thought out plan, but it's all she has at the moment. But, that means she has to get into it and she's never really been one who learned how to break in illegally. So, she's taking her cue from the movies and is attempting to jimmy the lock with a credit card. "Son of a…" she mutters to herself as it is not really working as well as she would hope. "I should get Lachlan to…"

Busted. Footsteps herald the approach of someone about to walk in on Ms. Aldric's attempt at a B&E. "…Cass?" The voice, perhaps familiar for two reasons for two sisters, sounds from down the hall behind Peter's door — questioning and quizzical, as if not one-hundred percent sure she's named the right person. One hand on the strap of her purse; well-dressed this Sunday in a yellow cashmere sweater and trim black pants, it's Tracy who stands in the hall confused. She wasn't expecting to find a face she recognizes, but maybe she shouldn't be surprised.

Perhaps Cass shouldn't be surprised that someone shows up while she's trying to get answers about Peter's disappearance. He is, after all, in the center of so much that goes on on that front. However, she is startled and she jumps up, dropping the credit card on the ground and whirls around. "Ni— Tra—" She's not sure what exactly to say here, so she just settles on, "Oh, hi." Glancing back at the door, she studies the nicely dressed Tracy compared to her jeans and t-shirt. Who said breaking and entering was something you dressed up for, anyway? "Do…you live in this building? Too?"

Tracy stares throughout the woman's startled explanations, remaining poised herself. Her study of Cass is critical, though not harsh. She's starting to wonder: does this woman have an ability too? How she knew Niki? How she might know Peter? "…Nnnno," she answers with the beginnings of a smile. "I'm just …. visiting." She glances down at what Cass dropped on the floor before she leans her head to one side to peek past her. 1407. "Do you … live here? With… Peter? Petrelli? I'm not sure I have the right apartment…" Except that she is.

Oookay, so that certainly was not going to work. Dammit, why does Peter have to know the entire world? "Right." Washington. Though she wouldn't put it past her to have a Manhattan address as well. "Not exactly. Well, that is, I mean…no…not at all." She has a husband and a child out in Brooklyn. Luckily, she doesn't think Tracy remembers that part. "I just…" She steers the topic away from herself and onto Peter. That's the thing to do in this situation, right? Pretend like she wasn't doing anything out of the ordinary and go right back into other talk? "How do you know Peter?"

Tracy is overcome with the unpleasant feeling of dj vu. However, she can tell this is going to take a different direction than the revelations she went through last night with Erin (or, technically, early this morning). Blue eyes narrow sharply on Cass, perceptive. Not much gets by Ms. Strauss. She answers the question with a question, presented through a smile. "This… may be beyond my boundaries, I don't know you, but did you receive a message about him recently?"

The only person Cass has talked to about the text message about Peter was Lachlan. Plus, whoever it was that sent it. She realizes that Rebel did say he sent out more than one text. But, why was Tracy one of the ones that got it? She works in Washington. In fact, she may work with the senator directly responsible for all this. The question is met with a narrowing of her eyes. Though she may look like Niki, she's not. And Cass has to keep reminding herself of this fact. She's not really to be trusted. However, lying about it would be just as suspicious as she'd have to come up with another reason why she was trying to break into Peter's apartment. "I did." When in doubt, tell the truth. "And if you did, then why are you here?"

Confirmation. Good. The concern and hints of vexation over Tracy's face are earnest, however, and her answer is an honest one. When in doubt, tell the truth indeed … at least for now. "I'm trying to find out if it's true. I mean…" A hint of incredulity shines behind her prying expression, a half-disbelieving smile on her lips. "It sounded kind of … incredible." Getting hit by a helicopter and then being taken by government agents…

"Well, he's not here." Cass waves a free hand at the locked door. "I don't just do this for kicks." Why break into an apartment where there was already someone there? "So there's that." He could be out and about, out at work, but who knows. The brunette definitely believes Rebel, but she's not sure about Tracy. If she works for the government, she could be part of the same group that held Peter - though she doesn't seem to know anything about it at the moment. "I'm sure there was exaggeration. Getting hit by a helicopter sounds….incredible. As in, impossible. It seems pretty over the top, to be sure." She pauses. "You still didn't say how you knew Peter, though."

"Of course." Incredible. Impossible. Tracy just smiles on that note, though a decidedly serious expression lurks behind it. "I barely know him at all," she confesses airily. "He came to me for advice. Turns out he was just trying to warn me." Those perceptive blue eyes do not move away from Cass in the slightest: she's looking for any sign of recognition. Of why Peter might have thought to warn her. "I take it you know him more than I do."

That serious look behind the smile is certainly noticed by Cass. It's something that she recognizes from Niki. Though, it most likely does not mean the same thing that it did for her old friend. "If you don't know him, then why did you come here? Just for curiosities sake?" The frown on her face would immediately show how she thinks about that. Peter's a friend and she doesn't want gawkers. "What was he trying to warn you of?" She doesn't say helicopters, but she does have to wonder. "He's one of my closest friends." And the godfather to Abby, but she feels weird saying that as the last time they met she told her how Niki was the godmother.

Tracy glances about the dim corridors. A bank, a strange apartment building — will she ever have a conversation with this woman someplace normal? Given that their might be neighbours lurking behind the nearby walls, she steps closer and puts a hush on her voice. "Peter had some pretty wild ideas about… certain… operations the government is supposedly undertaking," she says, driven, nearly accusatory. "So does this … Rebel … person. I'm just trying to get to the bottom of all this. Do you know what they're talking about?"

Define normal, Tracy. For Cass, this is actually become normal. Which may be sad. Or exciting. Depends on the definition. "Let's take this a little more private, okay?" Hoping that she managed to pick that lock properly before, she turns the doorknob and then puts her back against open it. Unluckily, she's not much of a lock picker. When she hits her back against it, nothing budges. There's just a bang against the door as the lock holds and she quickly puts a hand on her shoulder to rub it. "Ow." Sighing, she looks at the door with a frown. "Maybe it'd be better to go to a coffee shop or something."

Tracy actually winces when Cass bangs into the door. She gives said door a considering look, knowing full well that she might be able to cheat and use her ability to break the lock, but she's not about to do so. She crouches down upon high heels to whisk the woman's fallen lock-picking device from the floor. Standing, she offers the nefarious credit card to Cass between two fingers. "That would be better than breaking and entering."

"I doubt Peter would press charges." If he's available. Or someone else might call the police on them. "But, you're right. Thanks." Taking the credit card, she slips it into her pocket and then starts down the hallway. "There's a coffee shop around the corner." In New York, there's coffee just about on every block.

* * *

Once they are settled at a table in the corner, Cass wraps her hands around the warm paper cup and watches Tracy again. "So. We were talking about wild ideas. Define wild. Note: you're talking to a woman who owns an occult bookstore in the East Village. So what may seem wild to you, I've probably stocked a book in it already."

Tracy has her hands wrapped around a hot paper cup of her own. Situated across from Cass, there's an edge to her demeanor. They're going to have to walk an eggshells before they ever get anywhere. She's up to the challenge, but she doesn't have to like it. "Does your store sell books on conspiracy theories? Because it sounded like something like that, too. People taken by the government without due process."

It's not exactly what Cass thought she would be doing today - walking on eggshells with a woman who looks exactly like her friend. But, then, her to-do list of the day did involve illegal activity, so this is really a step down from that. "Actually, it does. Multiple ones. Strangely enough, there are a lot of people who don't like the government. We have books on alien abductions, too and how to read tarot cards." There's a raise of an eyebrow. "You work for the government, don't you?"

Alien abductions and tarot cards. Great. Tracy gives Cass a look that can only be described as skeptical, but it passes, smoothly replaced by the cool and confident tone that comes naturally. "I work for those in the government, yes. I'm an advisor to the junior senator of New York. Ivory Wynn." She draws her coffee closer and leans ahead toward Cass an inch or two closer. "My position might not exactly make it easier for you to trust me. And I understand. But if there's something to the story people outside the government keep telling me? I have to know. I can help."

It's a look that she's used to by now. After running a store such as hers for so many years, she's used to it. However, she has the same amount of skepticism mixed with surprise is met when Cass is told who Tracy works for exactly. It's the same name as the one that Rebel gave her who was responsible for all this. "How exactly can you help?" She raises an eyebrow at that. If she's inside the government, it's not just hard to trust her - it's near impossible.

"If Peter and Rebel and… others… were right, and I really do have something to worry about, this is personal." The self-professed politico sitting across from Cass locks eyes with her, or at least tries to; self-possessed though Tracy is, there's something imploring there. "How I can help depends on what the hell is going on here. Like I said — I'm trying to find out. You got the message. You're one of Peter's closest friends. You have to know a little something about what he was involved in."

"Why would you have something to worry about if you're part of the government?" Cass tilts her head a little to the side. She's curious here and Tracy has not put herself on the bookstore owner's good side from their meeting before. "Apparently a lot of people got the message, Tracy." She frowns, but she's not immune to imploring looks. Especially when they come from friends. Or people who look like close friends. "If Peter tried to warn you about something and you didn't believe him, why would you believe anything that I have to tell you, either?" She sighs. "And if I told you anything, and you don't believe me - like you said - you're part of the government. What would that mean for me if what's in this message is true?"

"I've … come across more information since I last spoke with Peter." True in more way than one. There are many layers to Tracy's motives this morning, and she has to speak strategically to this woman. "Maybe I was too quick to judge him. And the others. I thought they were crazy because something like this couldn't possibly be happening right under my nose." She frowns, casting her gaze aside before she doggedly goes on. "If you're worried I'll release your name, you don't have to be. What can I do to help you trust me?"

The eyebrow definitely raises more at the mention of more information coming to light for Tracy. She's not sure what to make of that. Speaking strategically is a good step, but she's also more of an emotional person. "That's the place that it always happens. Under your nose." She knows from experience. "Look, I've been in something of the same situation. I worked for people who I thought were doing good things. Helping people. It turns out they were bad people, doing the opposite of what they said." And they did bad things to other people as well as her. "I don't know what the government is doing. And I don't know what would make me trust you, to be honest." There's a frown and she looks at her coffee cup, which she still hasn't had a drink of. "It's…this is hard for me. I would like to. I want to think you're as good of a person as who you remind me of. I know…you're not her. And it's hard for me to keep remembering that."

The fact that Cass seems to run off of emotions and the things she chooses to say in particular causes a twinge in Tracy — a shine in her eye as she looks away, toward the counter and the coffee shop's many coffee makers. If it's not guilt, it's something like it. "You're absolutely right. I'm not her. I'm not your friend. I guess we're at an impasse then." She unwraps her hands from her cup, also untouched, and plants them on the table. Staring at Cass, she seems quite sincere. "But what was it… that Niki said? You told me. That everything seems connected in the strangest ways."

"Somehow everything is connected." That's not exact words, of course, just the way it seemed to work. Cass remains staring at her coffee mug. "I don't know what to tell you. If you don't think the government is doing this to Peter---to other people---I don't know what I'd say that would be different. I don't even know if what's being said is true. All I know is that Peter is missing. And that he was worried about people being taken - people he knew - but he didn't know by who." If it's the government, which at the moment Cass believes, then that's who she has to watch out for. "You said you barely know Peter, but you went to his apartment after getting the text message. Was it because you were worried? Or was it to get some answers?"

Tracy listens and, eventually, she nods. "Both," she's eager to answer. "If it had came out of nowhere, I might've ignored it, but it's not the first time I've gotten a message like that. I wanted to check here first before going to my contacts in the government. You have to understand, if all this is true, and Peter has been flagged as a… I guess a terrorist… if I ask too many questions, I'm putting myself at risk. That said…" Tracy smiles. "I have my ways. I'm just trying to find out if this is real. If it's worth risking everything for. You have to know people… people Peter knows. Maybe people he was trying to warn?"

"That's not the first time you got a text message involving a hit by helicopter?" Cass is teasing, but she's playing it with a straight face. She can't help herself sometimes. However, she's used to all these weird occurrences. Probably more than Tracy. Or, maybe not. "Peter is not a terrorist," she tells her emphatically. "He's a good person." Whatever side Peter is on, well, that's the side that she will align herself with. "I know a lot of people. A lot of them know Peter, too. What I do know is this. If what that text says is true, if the government is after people and taking them…then they're not worth a loyalty to. Peter said that it's more than just a few people and there are even little kids that are now missing."

Tracy smiles just a bit more at Cass's line regarding the helicopter text. No, that was definitely a first. She nods slowly in agreement, endeavouring to align herself with the viewpoints of this near-stranger. They'd be more strangers than they are if it weren't for those connections. "I know. And you're right again. I don't want to ally myself with a government of taking children. But. I've been assured that's not the case anymore."

It's that wording that gets Cass. "Anymore?" Certainly a strange way to put that. That means that they were doing it before and she was aware of it? Maybe Tracy is trying to align herself with Cass, but the woman doesn't exactly see it that way. Or doesn't realize that's what the blonde is doing. "I doubt anyone would want to be a part of that." That's like saying someone believes in genocide or rape. Who's for it?

"I was as appalled as you are," Tracy says frankly. "But it's— it's been ended. It was a mistake." She believes it, but she knows it sounds flimsy. "I know … bits and pieces. Until I started asking questions I probably knew less than you. I've been kept in the dark," she admits, bitter venom staining the lattermost of her words. Skewed truths.

"But you admitted that they were doing it before?" Cass certainly sounds disgusted by the idea. There's a shake of her head. She knows that people can be taken in, not be told everything - it's happened to her. "Well, what do you know happened? And how do you know they've stopped for sure?" The fact that she's allowed the government has done this before has confirmed Rebel's advice in her mind.

"No, you're misunderstanding." Tracy leans in. "I found out from outside sources. That was the first time I heard about it. I know people are being taken. I know the government has a new list of terrorists. That's barely more than what the public is getting from the press in Washington. After all, I did advise the Senator on his speech notes to the nation." The blonde woman shakes her head, taking her coffee and hitching the strap of her purse over her shoulder. "I don't know anything for sure, Cass. Why do you think I'm here? I'm going out on a serious limb even talking to you at all. You don't believe me. I should go."

"But, you said that you know it's been ended. That it isn't the case any more." Cass shakes her head, as if trying to clear it of those misunderstood thoughts. Then, she tilts her head just slightly to watch Tracy. "Why would you be on a limb for talking to me? Nobody even knows who I am in Washington. I'm some crazy lady with a bookstore." She sighs and shakes her head, reaching out in an attempt to keep the other woman from leaving. "Tracy, I don't know what's going on here. If you've got a list of people who the government thinks are terrorists and Peter is on that list, it's a lie."

Tracy starts to stand up, but she does sit back down on the edge of the chair at Cass's attempts to delay her. "Exactly. I don't know you but I'm telling you things that I could lose my job over. If you're involved with people the government believes— " She sets her jaw, making a purposeful effort to lower her voice even more. " — to be threats, you're not a nobody. Not for long anyway. Can I at least have some way to contact you?"

Cass laughs and shakes her head. "I own my own bookstore. The only way I can get fired is if I fire myself. The crazier I sound, the better my store does." It is an occult bookstore, after all. Her voice remains lowered, but all she replies to being involved with threats to the government, "Peter is my friend. If you can help me find him, I would really appreciate it." He is, after all, part of the government. "I don't want you to do anything that could be dangerous. I just want to help Peter." Then, she nods. "I'll give you my number."

Relieved, Tracy smiles as if some weight has been lifted off her shoulders. "Thank you. And I'll give you mine." It takes only a brief moment for her to procure a business card from her purse and hand it to Cass. She sets a small notepad and a rather expensive pen on the table to aid getting the other woman's number, too.

Not sure if she's comfortable with that smile, Cass takes the pen and notepad and jots down her number. That done, she passes both back to the blonde on the opposite side of the table. She takes the card and glance over it before putting it into her purse. "Let me know if there's anything you find about Peter. Please. Anything at all."

"I will." Tracy knows just who to ask and where to look. She takes the paper and pen back with a thankful smile to Cass and tucks them away as she stands up, slower this time. She leaves the table, but pauses with both hands poised on the back of the chair that was hers, regarding Cass with a softer expression than she's been wearing. "You seem like a good person. Be careful … getting mixed up in all of this, okay?"

Tracy barely gives Cass time to respond— just a smiling moment before she whirls about to saunter to the door of the coffee shop.

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