/ Monday, April 24th, 2006 /
Standing beside the massive panel of glass at the back of her office, Taylor surveys the roadmap of the major metropolitan area, her cup of coffee raised to her lips as a knock comes from the other side of her door. “It’s open” Taylor calls out, welcoming the person on the other end in, Aiden helping himself to the handle, pulling it and entering.
“You alright this morning?” Aiden asks, the woman looking back to him, confused as to what he means. “You don’t usually walk in silently” Aiden explains, “you usually make some sort of conversation and then move on until you get to your office.” Dawning a friendly face, Taylor brushes off Aiden’s suspicions, chalking them up to being behind schedule.
“Behind schedule?” Aiden asks with further suspicion, “but enough time to sightsee over a cup of French Vanilla?” With a chuckle of light amusement, Taylor lifts the mug back to her lips and takes a final glance at the sights below, retreating to her desk and taking a seat. “Is there something you came in here needing?” Taylor asks, watching the man shrug off any such notion.
“I just came in to check up on you, that’s all” Aiden replies, the woman voicing her appreciation for his concern. “I’m doing well” Taylor quips, seemingly putting an end to the original line of dialogue, leaving Aiden with very little left to say. “I’ll go on with my day too, then” Aiden remarks, stepping away from the desk and making his way to the door. Half of his body having returned to the newsroom, Aiden thinks better of such a decision and returns to the office.
“You’re aware that you’re still in my office, right?” Taylor checks, the man leaving the humour without a response as he pulls himself a chair. “Are you and Grant an item now?” Aiden asks, the question catching Taylor by surprise, the tenured anchor sat at her desk, confused at how to reply. “I don’t mean to intrude into personal matters” Aiden explains, “but if there’s some sort of relationship dynamic, I just want to make sure it doesn’t spill into troubles that could hurt the show.”
Looking around her room to gather a response, Taylor brushes off Aiden’s apology once the guilt for having brought up such a topic settles in, assuring him that it’s all fine. “Grant and I are just co-workers” Taylor replies, marking the relationship out as nothing more than a friendly work interaction, “we just have a lot in common, and that makes it easy to trust each other.”
Head moving back, Aiden looks at the woman with surprise, unable to hold back a laugh as he wonders aloud what these ‘similarities’ are. “We’re both news anchors, we both want to publish fair journalism, and we both-” Taylor begins, her train of thought stopping the moment a set of rapid knocks come from the other side of the glass.
“Come in” Taylor calls out, both she and Aiden stood in the room, their attention directed squarely upon the shoulders of Vickers, his newsroom visits growing more common. “I need everyone ready for air” Vickers exclaims, his words strong and commanding, immediately captivating both Taylor and Aiden, “it’s happened again.”
= 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 =
“Someone help!” Grant cries out, propping a bloodied and unresponsive Bruce over his shoulders, “he’s been shot!” His shirt and blazer adorned with the blood of his agent, Grant hands the man over to doctors, who immediately place him upon a bed and hook him up to machines in an effort to save his life. “I’m gonna need to know what happened” the doctor calls out, Grant following along with the workers, dashing through the details.
“We were stopped at a redlight and a car opened fire on us” Grant explains, “I saw it coming and ducked, but the shots hit Bruce.” Taking down other general information, the doctors inform Grant that they’ll have to take the man into surgery, leaving him in the hallway to watch as his friend is carted off into the depths of the building, alone.
Stood there on his own for only a few seconds prior to a nurse attempting to lead him back toward the lobby, Grant finds himself with enough time for the anger to swell. Despite her best efforts and intentions, the nurse cannot help the enraged public figure, Grant letting out a burst of aggression by swinging around and burying his fist into the drywall just behind him.
Not anywhere close to phased by the sight of his fist embedded within the wall, Grant stands in place huffing, the nurse calling in for security to assist her in escorting the man off the premises. Regaining his composure, Grant finally rips his hand from the wall, brushing off the powdery debris as the small security team approaches. Hands up, Grant assures security that he understands what he needs to do, and voluntarily leaves the mega complex.
Returning to the vehicle he came to the hospital in, Grant takes a seat in the front and turns the key in the ignition, his eyes fixated on the odometer before slowly lifting up. In the distance, one structure remains towering over every other, the building resembling that of a lair the villain in a movie would call home. With a scowl, Grant pulls the gear shift into drive and moves on, taking the road that leads toward downtown, the structure the only thing the man can muster to think about.
“We’re out!” Aiden calls into the control room, his words running through the headset over Taylor’s ears, giving her the same clearance. As Taylor rushes out from behind the desk to grab her belongings, Aiden makes for his office, retreating to the back of the newsroom until Vickers calls out from afar. Surprised at being made the centre of attention, Aiden stands in place for a moment, at first believing he had done something wrong and was about to be scolded.
Taking the calling of his name to be a request for his presence, Aiden marches forward, venturing through the newsroom before following after Vickers, the elder man of the pair noticing his awkwardness. “Is there something I can help with?” Aiden asks, Vickers brushing off the man’s question, switching the topic of conversation as he leads the executive producer down the halls of the building, the preferred targets being the newsroom’s least populated pockets.
“Do you consider yourself a loser?” Vickers asks, finally catching a glimpse of an empty employee break room, eyes set as Aiden looks over his potential responses. “Um… Yeah, I guess I would” the young man replies, walking into the breakroom and turning to find Vickers closing the door behind them. “I’d consider you to be a nerd, which is very different” Vickers explains, “on one hand, you’d be nothing… On the other, you’d have a few weird quirks.”
“I fail to see how any of this matters” Aiden replies immediately, “are you entering me in a chess competition or something?” Considering the options for a moment, Vickers admits that he’d have to consider it upon a last-ditch resort, but hopes not to need to. “I don’t care what you are… Nerd, loser, otherwise” Vickers explains, lowering his voice to a more hushed tone, “I just care to know whether or not I can trust you.”
Surprised, Aiden assures his employer that he can, a response that pulls a nod out of Vickers, who stands there with a smile. “I’m going to let you in on a secret and I need you to do what you can to make sure everything goes according to plan” Vickers explains, Aiden immediately on board with whatever the plan happens to be, pulling a chair up for both men, insisting Vickers lay everything out to him.
Emerging from his vehicle, Grant slams the driver’s side door shut, his penny loafer shoes tapping along the concrete walkway as he approaches the entrance to New York’s downtown monolith. Pulling the handle of the door in, Grant enters the floor he’s become too familiar with in recent time, the soles of his shoes tapping along the marble walkway beneath his feet, eyes directed toward the lift at the back of the complex.
“Sir, you need to check in first” the desk keeper explains, not paid enough to charge out from his perch to stop Grant, but not paid too little to let the man go without issue. “I’m visiting a friend” Grant says as he walks into the already-open elevator, allowing the doors to close just as the man enters view, his hands folded before his lap as the door keeper calls in to report the disturbance.
“At least New York takes presumed threats seriously now” Grant mutters to himself, mocking the lack of progression in a post-9/11 world. Waiting time out, Grant listens to the elevator music fill the void of what would otherwise be silence, the cheery tune perhaps making him more angry than the fleeting quiet would. In an act of defiance, Grant stares at the speaker, noticing the floors he still has left to ascend and finds another outlet for his aggression.
Removing the shoe from his left foot, Grant takes the tip to the piece of designer footwear and wields the article of clothing as a weapon, whacking the stereo speaker in the box with the reinforced heel of his dress shoe. Continuing to hit at the hole-laiden box, Grant wears out the material enough to rip the plastic coating from its place, a final strike with his shoe breaking the mechanisms within, only garbled and muffled jazz playing through what was once an operable system.
The bell in the elevator dinging upon his intended destination, Grant watches with widened eyes as the doors slowly open. His feet instinctively taking him off the platform without concern, Grant makes himself at home in the foyer he ventures within. “Howard!” Grant calls out, his voice ringing through the cramped hallway, bouncing off the marble walls lining the entry tunnel before turning the corner to find the man he had just previously called out for.
Standing in the middle of his living room draped in a velvet robe, Howard stands in surprise with a glass of wine in his hand, the man he once threatened now stood before him. His mouth becoming agape when he notices the splattered blood over the shoulders of Grant’s powerful suit, Howard becomes stricken with a fear that he is naturally unfamiliar with, the looming threat of unpredictability almost animalistic in a sense.
“We have a few things to talk about” Grant says, his mind having taken him to a dark place as his eyes come over Howard, refusing to speak in any way that doesn’t demand attention or respect. Without the words to use, Howard steps aside, his hands held toward the couch, silently offering Grant a seat. With a heated smirk and a nod, Grant approaches the couch, taking a spot and commanding the lead of the conversation, his hand stretched toward the opposite sofa.
Doing as told to ensure his own safety, Howard takes the seat Grant suggests, slowly making himself comfortable, his eyes never once leaving Grant. Reaching into his jacket, Grant pulls free a small recording device, pressing the power button and placing it upon the coffee table, not a word mentioned toward Howard during the effort. “Why are you showing me this?” Howard asks, his genuine curiosity becoming the only thing fueling any conversation.
“Because it is Monday, the twenty-fourth of April, the year 2006” Grant explains, “and I want you to know that I am holding no secrets… I’m being completely and totally upfront, and honest.” Looking at the man as if to silently ask whether or not this is a joke, Howard is left speechless, allowing the lack of a retort work as a suggestion for Grant to continue his explanation.
“Just ten minutes ago, I left the Mount Sinai Beth Israel hospital in New York, where I dropped off my agent at the emergency room” Grant continues, “he was shot multiple times, in a drive-by shooting that I was a potential victim of… For the second time in a month.” Clearing his throat, Howard musters the courage to skip ahead in the conversation, asking Grant what he’s trying to get at, the man opposite him only responding with an angry glare, silencing Howard.
“I have my assumptions that Howard Nalty, my former co-worker, set up the attempt on my life in the attack one month prior” Grant continues, Howard’s finger raising to plead his case, which Grant ignores to finish his statement. “After that failed, I believe he set up a second attempt, which would play out today” Grant furthers, “so… I’m here to challenge him on that.”
Leaning into his couch, Howard does what he can to maintain a distance between himself and Grant, caught off guard by the man’s sudden approach and quick judgments. “I had nothing to do with that” Howard says, “I’m suing you, why would I want you dead without a verdict on that?” With a smirk, Grant leans forward, his head tilted to the side, laying on the intimidation as thick as he can, using the appearance to further his stance.
“I guess we’re going to figure that out very soon, aren’t we?” Grant asks, watching Howard swallow the spit forming in his mouth, the smirk on Grant’s face striking fear when put together with the blood-soaked clothing.
“What’s going on?” Carly asks, she and plenty others in the newsroom having noticed Aiden’s interaction with Vickers just moments prior. “He and Taylor were heading out and he wanted me to man the newsroom again” Aiden replies, continuing to trail toward his office, Carly following closely behind. “Should I be ready for the air just in case?” Carly inquires, following the man into his office.
“Do whatever you want, I’ll let you know if we’re going on the air” Aiden replies, taking a seat at his desk, assuming the conversation to now be over. “Why do we get awkward around each other every time we have sex?” Carly asks aloud, Aiden immediately looking back towards her, his finger pressed against his lips. “Juno’s like a fucking ninja, never say that out loud unless we’re stuck in an elevator together” Aiden explains, “even then, check around you.”
Apologising, Carly reiterates her question, prompting Aiden to sigh as his hands find the surface of his desk, his head hanging towards the mahogany surface. “Why do you make it awkward?” Aiden asks, turning the blame upon the woman’s shoulders, Carly left curious as to what he means. “I’m just an awkward person, you probably should start picking up on this right about now” Aiden explains, “I come to work to do my work, when I wanna fuck you, it won’t be during work hours.”
With another deep sigh, Aiden adds in the presence of Juno being a constant factor in making him keep a pair of eyes in the back of his own head. “He walks into my office one night and threatens my life, then apologises the next time we see each other” Aiden explains, “that’s the guy you’re dating… Which means that’s the guy I’m having sex with the girlfriend of.”
“Okay, fine… It’s more ‘open season of Aiden’ then we’d like” Carly replies, “but we don’t talk the way we used to anymore, which only makes it seem more suspicious.” Looking up in a moment of confidence, Aiden reminds the woman of the comparisons between them then and now. “Before all of this, we were co-workers that made your boyfriend jealous” Aiden explains, “now, we use each other to get off- We’re not exactly friendly with each other the way we used to be.”
Accepting part of the blame to be her association with Juno, Carly regrets her end of the weird interactions, assuring the man behind the desk that things will become less awkward over time. “If you’re confident they’ll get easier the longer this goes on, why are you inquiring about its awkwardness now?” Aiden asks, “because you wouldn’t be looking for a solution if you truly believed the kinks would work out over time.”
At a loss for any reasonable explanation, Carly shrugs toward the man, watching his head sink back into the slate of topics for the evening’s broadcast. Taking this to be the definitive end to the conversation, Carly turns to leave, Aiden suddenly propping his head back up to call out to the woman, his side of the efforts being voiced. “I think you’re trying to decide which of your relationships are more important” Aiden explains, “Juno as your boyfriend or me as your fling.”
“What do you mean?” Carly responds, watching Aiden drop into his chair and run over the thoughts mulling in his head. “I think you don’t want to be with Juno anymore but aren’t confident that I’d be a good boyfriend” Aiden answers, “mostly because a pretty girl like you doesn’t tend to go around single for long.”
Confused, Carly looks toward Aiden as if he were getting the wrong idea, making her statement known. “I love Juno” Carly explains, keeping the response brief and unnegotiable, a notion Aiden pokes holes in with ease. “If you loved Juno, you wouldn’t be fucking me behind his back” Aiden counters, “but furthermore, I don’t think you care that our conversations are awkward, I think you care that I’m awkward.”
Even more lost than she was earlier in the conversation, Carly questions Aiden on what he means by that, the man essentially painting the picture out for the woman, one stroke of a brush after another. “I think you’d prefer to dump Juno and start dating me if you had the choice, but you don’t wanna be seen with a loser” Aiden clarifies, “I may not wear round glasses and tuck my shirt into my pants, but I’m somewhat attractive, great in bed and weird around people.”
The longer the conversation ensues, the more Carly feels herself being lost, one turn of their words taking another until she’s left in a desolate area with no direction. Finally, Carly pieces together a broad assumption from what Aiden illustrates, voicing it in one, coherent question. “Are you under the assumption that I want to break up with Juno and start dating you” Carly begins, “but don’t know if you’re good enough to be my boyfriend because your weird?”
“I’m completely under that assumption, yes” Aiden replies with a smile, Carly taken aback by the implication that she’d be so shallow. “I’m fucking you because we have chemistry, I don’t care if you’re weird” Carly explains, “but you and I aren’t an ‘item’ and we won’t be, you’re just a guy that I fuck- That’s it.”
“Then I raise you another question” Aiden immediately says, rolling his chair out and standing to his feet, gradually walking closer to Carly until they’re only a few inches apart. “Why do you care about the nature of our relationship when all I am is a good fuck?” Aiden inquires, “what does it matter to you if I treat you like a B.F.F in the newsroom when all we are is each other’s fling?”
Her face turning sad, Carly looks toward the ground, disappointed at the question asked, the answer requiring her to acknowledge what their relationship has done to their friendship. “Because I didn’t want to lose what we were” Carly replies, turning toward the door and concluding her statement before walking off, “and I guess we lost it a while ago.”
With that, Carly leaves, Aiden now stands in the middle of his office with disappointment, the conversation not having turned in a direction in which desired. Not allowing it to sink into him, Aiden returns to his desk, eyes locked onto the sheets of paper beneath his face, a recap of the discussion from just a moment prior the only thing taking his attention, the words repeating verbatim in his head on a loop.
The bell sounding in the cramped box, both Vickers and Taylor emerge from the elevator and hurry through the corridor, rounding the corner to find Howard and Grant seated opposite each other. “Grant, this visit is a mistake” Vickers calls out, rushing up to the side of his employee, who leaps from the sofa and removes a gun from his jacket, taking aim at Vickers and telling him not to step any closer.
“Grant, what the fuck are you doing!?” Howard shouts, Taylor pleading with the armed man to listen to reason, a gesture Grant refuses, demanding Howard remain seated, and his co-workers not move any closer than they already have. “This son of a bitch won’t listen to reason, and he’s clearly gotten somewhere in his threats” Grant explains, taking the microphone into his hand and launching it at the wall, the device shattering upon contact.
“If I’m going to get anywhere with him, I have to go to a new level too!” Grant shouts, removing a second firearm from his jacket and holding it towards Howard, who sinks further into the couch as if that will help his chances of survival. “Grant, this is way too far!” Taylor belts out, watching her co-anchor’s eyes begin to twitch, Jessica stood at the back of the room, hidden behind drapes, refusing to draw attention toward herself.
“This guy is either going to own up to what he did and face the consequences- or he’s gonna die today” Grant replies, his eyes tracing upon all three opposing faces as he declares this morning as Howard’s judgement day. Pleading her case, Taylor tells Grant to lower the guns and talk everything out like an adult, a gesture which Grant refuses, apologising to the woman for having escalated things to this degree.
“This man has taken two attempts on my life, and he’ll take a third if I don’t stop him ahead of time” Grant explains, vowing to shoot Vickers if he moves any closer. “Howard, get up!” Grant demands, the fearful man struggling to make it to his feet, legs weak from the fear running through his every movement. “The patio, go there slowly” Grant demands, Howard pleading for his life as Grant remains adamant, refusing to give into his tormentor’s demands.
“Your ‘wife’ pleaded for you to stop as well, and you didn’t” Grant explains, Howard slowly shuffling across the ground, agreeing with Grant’s every statement. “I know, and I’m sorry!” Howard replies, the heels of his feet dragging along the floor as his hands push him closer toward the backdoor. “If you didn’t stop for her, why should I stop for you?” Grant asks, one eye propped wide open while the other squints, the sunlight on Grant’s shoulders highlighting the blood splatters.
“Because you have a choice!” Howard exclaims, “you have a life that I didn’t have! We’re different people and you’ve got more going for you!” With a laugh, Grant debunks Howard’s statement, reminding him of the lawsuit waged. “I’ve got nothing you impressionable bastard!” Grant exclaims, leaning forward as Howard backs against the sliding glass door, “if you’ve forgotten already, you’re suing me for everything I have!”
Progression stopped, Grant lifts the gun from Howard and takes aim at the sliding door, firing a round forward and shattering the glass against Howard’s back. “Grant! You’re making a big mistake!” Taylor shouts, Howard continuing to back himself onto the patio, the heavy winds whipping through his hair as Grant continues following after him. In a momentary act of desperation, Taylor lunges at Grant, her hand grabbing onto his hand in an attempt to disarm him.
Refusing to let up, Grant shoves Taylor away and strikes her across the face with the weapon, knocking her to the floor before firing at Vickers, bringing him to the ground as well. Nothing stopping him any longer, Grant takes aim at Howard, the man slumped against the glass railing in a final plea for his safety. “I’ll drop the lawsuit! I’ll drop it all and never talk to you again!” Howard shouts, his statements ignored by Grant, who simply demands he stand up.
“I swear on my life!” Howard begs, “you can kill me if you ever see me in person again! I’ll leave television and move to another country, I swear!” Having had enough, Grant reaches down and pulls Howard to his feet before shoving him against the railing, the barrel of the gun placed against his head. “You’ve promised everything and given absolutely nothing!” Grant shouts, his hand wrapped around Howard’s throat, gradually pushing him further over the railing.
Glancing back toward the gun before noticing the tears stream down Howard’s face, Grant thinks to himself, coming across a conclusion he deems more fitting. “Tell me the truth, because I know the answers, and I’ll let you live if you leave the country and never return” Grant explains, a moment of hope coming across Howard’s face, Grant demanding he calm himself and speak with uninterrupted cadence.
“I want you to own up to your wrong doings the way you would if you were being interrogated by police” Grant explains, “say your name and what you’re guilty of.” Doing as told, Howard takes in deep breaths, elbows still pressed against the railing, confessing to his crimes calmly. “I sexually assaulted Jessica, that I did do!” Howard explains, “I had people hired to shoot, but not kill, you.”
Finally, Howard finds no other way out of his situation, holding his hands up and losing grip on the railing, putting his safety in the strength within Grant’s hand. “But I did not hire anyone to kill your agent!” Howard says, the sound of a man speaking the truth resonating with Grant, “whoever did that has got problems with you that are different from anything involving the two of us!”
Satisfied with the response he’s gotten, Grant nods to himself, returning the gun to his jacket and smiling toward Howard. “I appreciate your honesty” Grant replies, allowing Howard a momentary sigh of relief, “but I, too, am not a man of my word.” With this statement, Howard’s face shrivels, Grant gently pushing Howard the rest of the way over, allowing the man to vanish beneath the railing, falling through the stories below.
With a laugh, Grant leans down and picks up the second gun, returning it to his jacket before stretching his hand out, helping Taylor to her feet and offering the same for Vickers. “Keep an eye on your husband for me” Grant calls out to Jessica, returning to the elevator with an unusual swagger, Taylor and Vickers joining by the man’s side as the elevator doors close.
“Glad you could make it!” Josh exclaims, Howard pulled off a net stationed along the balcony of Josh’s apartment, the collar of his robe firmly in the grip of Josh’s hand. “You’re fucking sick!” Howard shouts, catching the breath that escaped his lungs in a fit of dire fear. “No, Howard… According to the audio recording… You are” Grant explains removing a second microphone from his jacket and replaying the audio, perfect quality coming from Howard’s confession.
With the pressing of a few buttons, Grant edits the audio down to the most important part, the only words spoken being ones that a judge would only find as calm, and in no way said under duress. “There’s no fighting this in court, nor is there any fighting this when faced with jail time” Grant explains, “but the fighting there is- with this, at least- is whether or not I turn you in for it.”
Crouching down, Grant looks Howard in the eyes, vowing to keep his word on the one guarantee he makes to his former mentor. “I’m not going to turn you in” Grant explains, “I’m going to let you live as a free man, though, one that knows that I will turn you in for this if I ever hear of you abusing your power in any way, ever again.”
Explaining that Howard is now in Grant’s pocket, the ‘Tonight at Nine’ anchor lists Howard’s next moves with precise detail. “You’re going to marry Jessica, she won’t sign a prenup, and you’ll divorce one day later” Grant describes, “you’ll then leave television permanently, move off this continent and drop every lawsuit and charge you have against both myself and LMC Media.”
With a nod, Howard agrees to the conditions, a response Grant takes appreciation for, patting the man on the side of the face and walking off. From off to the side, a wad of spit flies into Howard’s face, Bruce joining Grant's side, explaining that action to be taken on Grant’s behalf. One high-five between Grant and Bruce later, Taylor emerges from the group, staring Howard in the eyes with anger, the older man staring with worry as his hands are held behind his back by Josh.
In an effort of revenge, Taylor runs the top of her head into Howard’s face, tearing the cartilage in Howard’s nose and watching it bleed. “That’s for being a cunt” Taylor mutters, turning around and rubbing the pain away with her hand. Escorted back to the elevator by Grant and Bruce, Taylor closes an open chapter in her story while Vickers stays behind for the moment, his eyes leaving Howard and turning back toward Josh.
“Let me know if you ever need a favour” Vickers says, shaking the hand of Josh and thanking him for his assistance. “You look out for me, and I’ll look out for you” Josh replies, watching Vickers give him a nod of approval before walking away, ending the conflict once and for all before moving on, letting all parties involved move forward.
== Tonight at 9 ==