Tracy Strauss fic, PG. No spoilers, if you know who she is. Set in Season 2. I do not own these characters, Tim Kring and NBC do.

Greeks Bearing Gifts
by lostlikealice

Malden bought her another pearl necklace. These are from Japan, freshwater, and even though the communications department thinks it's funny to call her Jackie O because she's never seen without one of the four necklaces the Governor's given her, she doesn't stop wearing them.

She has five. The other was her grandmother's, but when Malden met her at an event for a campaign for one Congressman or another, he took the pearls between his fingers, brushed a thumb over them, and said she deserved better.

He couldn't have known it, but she's always thought so. She deserves much better, and she'll get it, no matter what she has to do on the way.

So she's sitting at a hotel bar, ignoring the men who switch their looks from her to an obsessive eye on their Blackberry, just waiting for a cue from Malden to come upstairs. Harris, the communications director, he left five minutes ago, and ever since people are giving her this look like she's a high class whore.

She fingers the pearls idly and accepts her martini. There's a businessman eyeing her like she's dinner, and she stares over the rim of the glass at him with a steely look that's ended at least three congressional campaigns to date. He glances away and orders another drink.


"Frosty little thing, aren't you?"

Another man. English accent, he clearly thinks she'll fall for it. She lets the pearls drop and glances over to him just barely -- exactly what she expected, perfect Roman profile, in his forties, in Armani, thinks he can pick up any woman he wants. She brushes her hair out of her line of sight, and lets the corner of her mouth turn up. "I'm not a thing."

He smirks at her, runs his fingertips over the rim of his own martini glass. "Touché. Who are you waiting for?"

She sips from her glass and looks away from him again. "No one you'd know."

"Oh, well then." He gestures to her glass. "Carry on."

Tracy's fingers are itching to check her own Blackberry, in case she missed the e-mail or the call. At least it would be a distraction from him -- she's worked on the Hill and of all people, some British would-be playboy manages to get under her skin in a matter of seconds.

She sets down her purse resolutely and pulls out the Blackberry, checks -- there's nothing, and the man laughs just as she puts it down on the bar and sets her jaw. She forces her smoothest smile and looks up at him. "Something funny?"

"You," he says, leans forward onto the bar, all pensive. "Every inch a professional, aren't you?"

It's truer than he could possibly know. "No less than anyone else at this bar."

He looks at the rest of the patrons, then to her. "I never saw the adventure in a life like that." He gestures at her Blackberry. "Slaves to technology, to the new world order of the internet and television."

He speaks with complete confidence, like he expects to command attention. A born leader. She has to respect that. "There's plenty of adventure in a life like this," she tells him, relenting. "More than you'd ever guess."



He swirls his martini and contemplates that (or more likely, pretends to), then raises his eyes to meet her politely curious gaze. "Tell me," he says. "When is the last time you've wandered off the schedule you have programmed into that little device of yours?"

She has to smile, because he sounds like her mother, all you never come home anymore. "I have responsibilities," she returns. "Do you?"

He pretends to be affronted. "I have a very big responsibility."

She takes a sip of her martini and looks at him, bemused. "All men think so."

He presses his hand to his mouth in an effort not to laugh, and fails. "God, you're charming," he says, admiring.

Tracy knows that. "Thanks," she tells him, always gracious and with the slightest smile. "You obviously think you are."

"I'm not?"

"You aren't."

He considers that, and indicates her pearls with his glass. "Is he charming?"

She's smarter than he thinks. "Is who charming?"

"The one who bought you that necklace."

"These are my grandmother's." Her standard line.

"No," he says, matter-of-fact. "They aren't."

"He's very charming," Tracy says, light but pointed.

"And very lucky." He sips and smiles at her. "You're very forward. I like that in a girl."

"Everyone does." She checks her Blackberry again.

He reaches over and takes it from her hand, dropping it in her purse. "No, no, no. None of that."

She's never been so astounded in her life. "Excuse me?"

He offers his hand to her. "My name is Adam Monroe, and if you'd like to come with me, I think the night calls for a bit of adventure."

But her Blackberry is buzzing in her purse. She snatches it up, shakes his hand, and meets his eyes only for a moment. "Good to meet you, Mr. Monroe, but it's time for me to go. Enjoy your adventure."

"I'll certainly try," Adam says, his gaze lingering on the pearls around her neck.

Tracy heads for the elevator, and she can feel the hairs of the back of her neck prickling at the feeling of his eyes on her back the entire way. The elevator doors close smoothly, and she releases a breath, the tension leaving her body just like that. She checks her e-mail.

I'm ready for you. - Robert

"Sure you are," she murmurs to the empty elevator, and smirks.