/ Monday, March 20th, 2006 /
“I can’t believe it either! A stunt like that would only open the flood gates from both sides!” a man proclaims, his words fluttering through the air as he walks beside an unamused Grant, “but you’re getting praise universally!” Clicking his tongue to the roof of his mouth, Grant nods to the man, who immediately notices the lack of care coming over Grant’s face. “What’s the matter with you?” the man asks, looking at with a smirk as he speaks, “you’re America’s sweetheart!”
“I don’t care to be America’s sweetheart!” Grant replies, arms stretched out like he’s just conquered the world, “I just wanna do the news and finish what I started here.” With a nod, the man beside Grant understands what his client is getting at. “You still want Nalty to pay for his wrong-doings, I get it” the man explains, “but he and CSN have lost thirty-eight percent of their audience in the last two months… And they’ve all been coming to you.”
His head hung, Grant looks toward the man in displeasure, the cup of coffee in his hands wafting through the air in his ever-moving palm. “I get how important the numbers are to your job, Bruce” Grant replies, “but I’m only going to care about the numbers I bring in when I can put Nalty to justice… Actual justice.”
“Okay, fine… Don’t look at the numbers as numbers… Look at them as power!” Bruce explains, contorting the conversation in real time, “America latches onto whatever you say, use your words as a weapon!” Stopping on the sidewalk, Grant turns toward Bruce with the direction of his whole body, watching the man wave his hands in the air to visualize his point.
Living in his own home outside the boundaries of the cluttered New York City, Grant takes in the sights whilst he’s downtown, never able to appreciate them the way they’re intended as Howard’s apartment complex dominates the skyline. “If you tell the world Al-Qaeda was behind JFK’s assassination, people would demand Lee Harvey Oswald be declared a saint as reparations!” Bruce explains, “take him, and all others you don’t like, down with what comes from your mouth.”
Staring the man up, Grant considers his option in the moment, his eyes glancing at the towering monolith a number of miles away as he does so. “Where do I even start?” Grant asks, “whatever I say will be taken by them and used as anything from slander to character defamation.” Tilting his head to the side, Bruce continues walking, Grant following after the suit-dressed man as his suede shoes tap against the concrete ground.
“Come off genuine, and compassionate” Bruce explains, “they can’t sue you for anything if you have solid proof to back up your statements… Then they’ll just be pieces of informative media.” Nodding his head around, not at all fully convinced, Grant beckons for the man to give off additional statements. “If you’re pitching this to me, pitch it to me like you’d put your life on the line for it” Grant explains, “I’m not settling for anything unless you’ve trapped me fully.”
Their walk reaching the end of the street, Bruce presses his finger to the button as they await their turn to cross the street. “Ratings change and perception gets skewed” Grant recalls, Bruce looking toward the taller man, “a guy like Howard won’t sit back and let his audience dwindle for lo-” Without warning, tires screech in the middle of the road, a passenger’s window already opened wide as the traffic comes to a complete stop.
In moments, multiple gunshots ring out, both Grant and Bruce forced to duck for cover, doing all they can to avoid being hit until the tires screech again, the car disappearing into the crowded city. “Who the fuck does a drive by in the middle of the day!?” Bruce calls out, turning back toward Grant with his hands extended, his intentions being to make sure the man is unharmed, only to find his top-tier anchor in a pool of blood on the side of the street.
In horror, Bruce staggers for a moment until he hears Grant’s breath, the wounded man gasping for air until by his manager’s side. “Call an ambulance NOW!” Bruce exclaims, his words commanding the crowd as countless civilians already hold their phones to their ears. Hurrying up to the scene, officers in the area tend to the man’s wounds as sirens blare out, a crowd of confused and shocked passers-by watching on.
= Tonight at 9 is created by Zachary Serra, all rights to the series belong to Zachary Serra and the entity of Pacer1 Media from the start of Season 1 onwards =
“Just ease up on the traditions after the last chant and it’ll be good” Aiden explains, walking away from the desk of one of his co-workers whilst Carly approaches. “A word in private?” the woman requests, walking at the same speed before, during, and after her whispered-request is aimed for Aiden’s ear. Doing as told in the moment in which the favour is made, Aiden breaks away from the clump of desks, following after Carly.
“You needed me?” Aiden asks aloud, the woman looking through the rows of different office spaces, stumbling upon Grant’s still-empty room. “Grant isn’t here yet?” Aiden asks aloud, Carly not paying any attention to the man’s original question, instead getting directly to the point. “I don’t wanna mince my words, so I’ll be as upfront on this as I can manage to be” Carly explains, “what we did on Saturday can’t be shared with anyone.”
Hands in his pockets with his eyebrows lifted, Aiden asks the woman for further clarification. “What did we do on Saturday?” the man replies, Carly’s recollection offered for the seconds it takes her to catch onto the joke. “Okay, I’m glad we’re on the same page” Carly replies, attempting to leave the space before Grant has the chance to walk in, only for Aiden to grab onto her arm before she can.
“You don’t regret it, do you?” Aiden asks, stared at in confusion, “like, you don’t wish you hadn’t, right?” Taking in a deep breath, Carly voices the opposite, “I regret it because it shouldn’t have happened” she explains, “but not because you were bad or anything.”
His head hung, Aiden swallows his pride and nods, stating that he understands, though Carly is unconvinced. “Okay, we had sex, we moved on, that was it” Carly replies, “I’m still with Juno, and for that reason, it shouldn’t have happened. We all caught up now?”
With a nod, Aiden stays silent, allowing his posture to do the talking for him as the woman stares him up and down. “I’m not disagreeing, I totally understand!” Aiden exclaims, taking his hands from his pockets and holding them in the air, giving the woman the gesture of surrender. Her bottom lip in between her teeth, the woman runs her hand down the ruffles of his shirt, her finger tapping every button on her way further down.
Leaning in forward, Carly breaks away in a split moment, both she and Aiden caught by surprise at the typical ruckus of the newsroom outside grows eerily silent in the blink of an eye. “Why does the news have to ruin every good thing in my life?” Aiden mutters to himself, the first to break away from the other as he moves for the door, a piece of paper folded in his hand to make it appear as though he were simply talking with Carly.
“What the-” Aiden mutters beneath his breath, both he and Carly in awe as Vickers storms through the newsroom, his legs taking him directly to Taylor’s office. Noticing the pair strolling casually from Grant’s office, Vickers puts on a fake smile and nods, quickly disappearing into Taylor’s office as the star-crossed lovers return to their respective places in the studio.
“What the fuck is going on?” Aiden whispers toward Shane, the man sat back in his chair, all hope of getting any work done disappearing upon Vickers’ arrival. The newsroom deathly-silent, Vickers’ rare appearance on their floor brings all work to a halt, his mere presence an oddity to many. “I don’t know, just keep an eye out” Shane explains, Aiden breaking away in the heat of the moment to return to his desk, only at a slow pace.
After half a minute, the newsroom goes from muffled whispers to silence once again, Vickers leading Taylor from the comfort of her lavish office, the young blonde carrying her coat in her arms with her jaw dropped. “Ms. Carpenter!” Vickers shouts, Carly’s attention stolen towards the man in the same moment it’s called for, “get dressed for the air!”
Hurrying off to do as instructed, Carly moves for her office, Vickers continuing to keep the newsroom silent as he calls for another name. “Mr. Redwood!” Vickers calls out, Aiden stopped in his tracks within an instant, “Go to your computer, cut the televisions off and direct the newsroom accordingly!”
Watching his friend from the comfort of his desk, Shane’s eyes perform the same action as the remainder of the room, following Aiden’s every move until he gets behind his desk. Slumped forward, Aiden takes a few strokes across the screen with his mouse, directing the curser towards his email icon before his eyes widen in shock. “Oh-” Aiden whispers beneath his breath, the newsroom awaiting his every word.
At the moment, his hands get sweaty, mouth becoming dry as he reads the first two sentences. Every monitor along the walls powering off around him, the newsroom from the ground floor to the ring surrounding those above, fed from his hand. “Alright everyone” Aiden calls out, his heart racing as he realizes that he’s now assumed full control of the show, “I need you all to listen very carefully.”
“This wasn’t just by accident” Taylor explains, her emotions running in drastically different directions, all taking her back to the same conclusion. “This was Nalty!” Taylor frantically exclaims, “somehow, some way, this was him.” Finger pressed to his lips, Vickers has very little to respond with, holding back the few words he can comfortably offer for a time when Taylor is less emotionally-driven.
“I… Why didn’t we… I don’t-” Taylor begins again, fumbling over her words until Vickers stifles her, understanding that the statements she wishes to make are not ones she can make with ease. “We couldn’t be his bodyguards, he’s a grown man that can navigate the city on his own” Vickers explains, “if this was Nalty, we’ll find out and he’ll pay… Either with prison time, or with two hours locked in a cage with me.”
Despite being on the older side of sixty, Vickers remains well-trained, the strength of a man half his age rendered obsolete compared to the tactics Vickers employs. Despite this obvious threat, Vickers holds hope to fall back on, noting Grant’s physical shape and healthy habits as a reason to believe in good outcomes. His hopes high, Vickers remains unable to do anything outright for the man, now awaiting their presence in the hospital.
“If it makes you feel any better…” Vickers continues, a now-silent Taylor turning back to the man with tears forming in her eyes, “...I wish I would have done something different, too.” The news having just broken across all networks minutes prior, the pair’s car fights through the blockage of one news vehicle after another, all trying to get information they don’t already have.
Stepping out of their vehicle, Vickers and Taylor make for the emergency room lobby, the woman’s hand being held up toward every camera and microphone shoved in front of her face. “I have no comments” Taylor exclaims, Vicker’s hand pressing against her back to lead her through the horde safely, the only backdrop to their efforts being the mashed voices calling out for their statements.
“Taylor English, Sam Vickers, LMC News” the blonde news anchor calls out to the nurse stationed behind the front desk, “we’re friends of Grant Haste.” The conversation stops before it can begin, the nurse continues to press the phone against his ear, listening into the conversation being had over the line as Taylor looks on with displeasure.
“Just be patient, we’ll see him” Vickers reassures the woman, who looks to him with eager eyes, her worry beginning to consume her. Despite the lobby being crowded with the sick and injured, Vickers makes out the sounds of a news report emanating from across the room, CSN broadcasting a live feed of the hospital Vickers and Taylor await word of Grant’s condition from.
With a quick glance, Vickers finds the remote laid upon a wooden end table off to the side of the room, his finger gliding over the buttons to bring up the feed of his own network. Waiting patiently for the monitor to switch channels, Vickers stares on as the phone in the nurse’s hands falls back to the receiver, the feed finally returning to LMC’s regular, Monday morning broadcast.
“We’re asking for Grant Haste, he’s our co-worker” Taylor exclaims, adding an apology for interrupting the man during his work whilst Vickers returns to her side. “Mr. Haste is in surgery right now, I’m going to need to see your credentials” the nurse replies, watching the pair before him ruffle through their belongings. Finally retrieving their identification, Taylor and Vickers hand the proof to the man, who takes one quick glance before trying his hand at contacting one of the surgeons.
“Thank you” Vickers replies, Taylor too sick to get the words off properly. Knowing the distress they both share a part in, Vickers pulls a chair up for the woman, taking her off her feet for the moment, his eyes trailing back to the monitor as LMC’s programming is interrupted. Stationed behind the ‘Tonight at Nine’ desk, Carly sits with her hand against its reflective surface, the graphic at the bottom of the screen breaking the ice before she can utter a word.
“We interrupt this program to bring you breaking news” Carly introduces, Aiden watching from afar, hand pressed against the glass, unable to bring himself to watch through the monitors. “Grant Haste, one of two anchors on this channel’s primetime news broadcast, has been shot in downtown New York City, just a number of minutes ago” Carly persists, the newsroom fallen silent, every television in the building tuned to their own live feed.
“We understand the importance of unbiased reporting at this network, so we’ll put forth our best effort to bring you an impartial look at today’s events” Carly concludes, “offering you more as the information comes into us.” With a sigh of relief, Aiden steps away from the window, nodding to his crew before stepping out of the control center. “Abby, Keith!” Aiden shouts, capturing the attention of two producers, “get a bag ready and head out to the police department A.S.A.P!”
“You want us to question the police?” Keith asks aloud, both he and the woman he hurries toward only left more confused by the orders that follow. “Nope, I need you to pick up Bruce Langston!” Aiden replies, “he’s Grant’s agent and he’s giving his statement to the police right now… You’ll get more from him than whatever you’re gonna get from the cops.”
With a nod, the pair ventures off, doing as instructed while Carly watches, a smile hidden behind her lips as her boyfriend walks into view. “Hey” Carly mutters, her arms wrapping around Juno’s neck, eyes still watching Aiden glance back to his office, the de facto leader of the newsroom doing a quick glance toward her before walking off at Juno’s sight.
“I’m so sorry to hear about all of this, I wish you’d have told me” Juno explains, Carly wishing she could have done the same thing. “They told me to get dressed and get on air, I had no time for anything else” Carly excuses, Juno buying in hook, line and sinker. “We’ve got him in surgery!” Aiden calls out, just having gotten off a quick phone call from Vickers, “he’s still alive as of three seconds ago!”
With a sigh, Carly shrugs towards Juno, a disingenuous “that’s my cue” serving as her parting words. Hurrying to Aiden’s office, the woman quickly takes a sticky note from the man’s hand and races back to the desk, Juno watching each step tentatively, his eyes immediately trailing back to Aiden the moment he leaves his office for the control panel.
Refusing to be moved anywhere other than the hospital lobby, Vickers and Taylor wait out the day for more information. Every doctor or nurse that walks through the doors getting the same treatment, daggers shot toward them in hopes of more information, the life in their desperate eyes fading the longer time passes with no new insight.
Paying no attention to the entrance, Taylor and Vickers keep their eyes glued to the one spot they need answers to originate from, completely disregarding the question the entrance would offer. “What a surprise” a deep, monotone voice calls out, Vickers and Taylor groggily staring back to the source before jumping into action, entangled in rage the moment they find Howard walking in with a bouquet of flowers.
Beneath the man’s arm, an unamused Jessica walks alongside her abuser, Nalty’s hands held high, coming on grounds other than those he’s waged with Grant. “Don’t think you can walk in and try to fool us, you know we’re suspicious of you” Vickers says, cutting to the chase, much to Howard’s chagrin. “I’m just here to offer my condolences” Howard replies, “the guy doesn’t have much of a spine, so I don’t expect much of a fight from him.”
Nostrils flaring, Vickers stares at the man intently, the blood vessels in his eyes almost bursting with the fury he wishes to unleash upon the cocky anchor. Ripping the flowers from Howard’s hand, Vickers tosses the plastic-wrapped decoration across the room, staring down Howard, who reminds Vickers of the legal power he obtains. “I don’t care what you can do to me in the courts” Vickers replies, “it’ll all be worth it for just two minutes with you right here.”
“I wouldn’t count your blessings on that, old man” Howard replies, watching Taylor shove Vickers away, demanding he regain his composure as the lobby looks on in wonder. “We’re in a public place, we’ll hash this out later” Taylor explains, Vickers backing away from the woman and adjusting his suit, “right now, we need to keep ourselves from getting thrown out of this hospital.”
Taking in one deep breath after another, Vickers keeps himself cool again, Taylor angrily staring back toward Howard and Jessica, a sudden confidence falling over her. “You’re an evil bastard” Taylor whispers, slowly and intimidatingly approaching Howard, who’s look of confidence gradually falls into one of concentration. “You know what you did… I know what you did... Everyone you and I know is aware of what you did” Taylor explains, “and you won’t get away with it.”
Clearing her throat, Taylor takes the flower pedal, having fallen from the rose as the bouquet was ripped from Howard’s hands, and presses it into her palm. “You may think you have every way to get yourself out of trouble, but you don’t” Taylor concludes, turning toward Jessica, who looks at her with worry. “As for you, you’re no victim” Taylor explains, “you’re just another cog in the machine that lets this happen… You’re just as bad as him.”
Her hand held in the air, Taylor waves her fingers toward the way the pair came, implying they need to leave while they still can. “Take money-honey by your side back the way you came” Taylor demands of Howard, “and if you come back again, I’ll make sure they arrest me on the spot for your murder.” With a groan, Howard turns around, pulling Jessica with him and retreating for the door, both Taylor and Vickers watching on as the events unfold.
Her huffed breaths noticeable, Taylor stands in place, staring down the pair as they walk off, Vickers’ hand finding the soft spot of the woman’s shoulder. “You did great” Vickers says aloud, his phone being placed to his ear to make a call as a nurse finally retreats from the back with the answers they’re looking for. “Mr. Vickers and Ms. English?” the nurse calls out, grabbing the attention of the duo in an instant, “please follow me.”
“I’ll have her hit the air with it” Aiden explains, his pen scribbling across the note against the surface of his desk. “Yup, I’ve got replacements and all ready” Aiden continues, the door to his office opening, unbeknownst to him, “we’ll run with Taylor’s rough run down, go over it a little and work from there.”
With a smile, Aiden thanks the figure on the other end a final time as his door closes, hanging up the phone and preparing the final touches to the note. His pen returning to the cup on his desk, Aiden turns with the paper in hand to leave his space, colliding with the massive chest of Juno the moment he does, falling back into his desk. “Sorry, man” Aiden calls out, the surprise of the moment prompting him to forget how awkward bumping into Juno in his own office actually is.
“You need help with any-” Aiden begins, his words disappearing the moment Juno lays both of his hefty, meaty hands against his chest, forcing him back onto his desk like a bully. “Dude, are you-” Aiden begins, caught by surprise once more when the behemoth grabs him by the collar and throws him against the wall, the breath that leaves his mouth cascading across Aiden’s face.
“What the fuck are you doing!?” Aiden calls out, his surprise dissipating the moment he comes to understand the true nature of their interaction. Reminding the smaller man of his physical stature, Juno keeps Aiden pinned against the wall, telling him to quiet down before he alerts anyone else in the office. The worry beginning to settle in, Aiden does as instructed, not willing to play games with his well-being on the line.
“I know there’s something going on between you and Carly” Juno explains, holding off on getting any more physical than he already has, “I may be jealous, but I’m not an idiot.” Raising his hands from his sides as a signal of surrender, Aiden stretches his fingers as far out as he can manage as he pleads innocence.
“Carly and I work together, and that is it” Aiden replies, “there’s nothing more going on between us… Just two co-workers tasked with putting a broadcast together, okay? That’s it!” His teeth pressing together, Juno stares Aiden down in blistering anger, telling him to listen closely for his own sake. “I don’t buy what you’re saying for a second” Juno explains, “but if I ever, and I mean, if I ever catch you and Carly as being anything more than co-workers, it won’t end well for you.”
“I understand!” Aiden replies, his eyes tearing up as the buttons on his dress shirt press against his throat, making it difficult for him to breathe. Feeling satisfied with his point made, Juno lets the man fall to the ground, stepping away from the executive producer and leaving the office, letting Aiden gasp for his breath amidst a coughing fit on his own.
Watching the broadcast from the hospital room, Taylor rests her head against the chair as Vickers’ phone begins to ring. Listening to Carly’s broadcast, Taylor watches the images flash upon the screen of Howard Nalty, his visit to check in on his former co-anchor having been leaked to the media. “Thank you” Vickers concludes, returning his phone to the pocket on his side and standing from his seat.
“LMC wants me to make a statement on behalf of the news division” Vickers explains, “they’ll send out a car for you when you’re ready to go home.” Thanking her boss for his help, Taylor watches Vickers smile to her with a thumbs up, his eyes glancing over the unconscious Grant with concern and relief. “I don’t have any guarantees, just like anyone else” Vickers explains, “but I’ve got high hopes that he’ll be alright.”
With a nod, Taylor watches Vickers walk off, her eyes drifting back to the monitor as her hand reaches for the remote, switching to CSN, who run their broadcast according to the news LMC puts forward. After a few minutes, the scene stays the same, the woman watching the competition as if she were surveying the land, a muffled voice calling out to her surprise midway-through, a passing jab at his former workplace widening her eyes.
“They’ve always been nothing more than a copy of the better show” Grant mutters from his bed, prompting the woman sitting beside him to pop to her feet with a smile. A breath of relief escaping her lungs, Taylor hangs her head at the sight of Grant’s smile, hands squeezing the bars on the sides of his hospital bed. “You seem happy to see me” Grant whispers, finger tracing the outline of the vein in the woman’s arm, “who would’ve thought that two months ago?”
With a weak laugh, Grant recalls to himself how much the time between then and now has changed, Taylor allowing the man to put it into perspective. “I’m glad you came around” Grant mutters, both he and Taylor laughing with whatever power they have left, “I knew you would, but I’m still glad you did.” Confused, Taylor asks the man to explain further, which Grant does with ease.
“You’re not predictable in any way, but there’s one thing I noticed about you the moment we had our first conversation” Grant explains, “you’re used to your first impressions being right, so it sticks with you when you’re proven wrong.”
“You noticed that all the way back then?” Taylor asks, amused as the man reminds her that he’s grown to study people easily. “I knew I was going to clear the air that night before I even accepted Vickers’ contract” Grant explains, “I was the opposite guy you first thought I was before I even walked into your office for the first time.”
“That’s why I’ve taken to you so quickly…” Taylor admits, finally having discovered the reason behind her quick turnaround toward Grant, who lays there with a smile. “I know there’s plenty about you that I don’t know yet” Grant explains, “but I really look forward to learning more.”
With a smile, the woman stares at the man, a phone ringing in her pocket, hand reaching in before pulling away, a surprised look coming over the man. “You don’t wanna tell them I’m alive?” Grant jokes, the woman staring back at the moment as she switches the television back to LMC, a smile on her face, “let them sing your praises a little longer.”
With a nod, Grant shuffles to one side of the hospital bed, making a space for the woman, who looks at him with lifted eyebrows. Hands in the air, Grant eyes the woman with a reciprocated smile, “I promise to keep this strictly professional.” Flattered, Taylor climbs onto the thin mattress and lays by Grant’s side, hands folded in her lap as the pair look to the monitor, Taylor’s head resting against Grant’s shoulder as the broadcast continues.
== Tonight at 9 ==