Season 2 Premiere.
\ Monday, November 13th, 2006 /
\ 3:14 am est. - 12:14 am pst. /
His dark hair ruffled, grey t-shirt wrinkled and right arm outstretched upon his chair’s armrest, Grant’s eyes take to an empty corner, no movement, nor emotion held behind them. “Grant” a familiar voice murmurs from close by, the man who’s called for leaving the source unanswered. Not spiteful, nor bitter, Grant refuses to offer a response by accident, his mind too preoccupied to digest the sounds around him, too rudderless to care.
His face exhausted, mouth slightly agape and the knuckles on his right hand propping his chin up, Grant’s back sinks into his seat, no comfort, nor pain caused as a result of his stationary position. “Grant” the familiar voice bellows again, receiving a similar treatment from before, Grant’s mind paying them no care. Not angry, nor enraged, Grant’s eyes never drift from the corner, too tired to move elsewhere in the room, too strained to find a point.
His foot tapping, left index finger scratching his pant leg and the corner of his lip pressed between his teeth, Grant’s body starts to feel light, almost as if he were no longer occupying it, no pressure, nor control over his movement. “Grant” the voice grumbles once more, shut out of Grant’s empty mind entirely. Not despondent, nor weak, Grant feels the air thicken as the floor leaves his feet, suspending him in the air, gravity having waved goodbye as it walks through the door to leave.
“Grant!” Taylor repeats, her voice louder the fourth time around as she slams a rolled up magazine on the conference table they sit behind, reestablishing reality. His attention stolen back, Grant returns to himself unphased, looking to the coworkers he shares the conference room with, all eyes plastered upon him. “Are you alright?” Taylor whispers, Grant’s eyes taken into her own, an obviously worried look worn in her face.
Inhaling through his nose, Grant takes a glance toward the clock near the room’s rear, the digital clock’s ‘3:14’ turning one minute ahead as soon as his sights set upon it. “None of us are” Grant finally responds, eyes casually strolling across the well-attended room, “and at this point, I don’t see much of a reason to keep meeting like this.”
“That’s exactly what I like to hear” Bruce sarcastically replies, his arms crossed as he leans in his seat, “a woman threatens to jeopardise your journalistic integrity- maybe tear down the company you work for? All the people that work for it too?- who cares, it’s no big deal!”
“I never said it wasn’t a big deal” Grant reiterates, letting his knuckles fall from their place beneath his chin as Bruce cuts him off. “Your body language would suggest otherwise. Slouched back in your seat like there’s a hundred more important things you’d rather be doing” the young, well-dressed manager assumes, “couple that with the fact that it takes us hours to get in touch with you, and you show up here looking like you just got off vacation- I mean, where the fuck even were you!?”
“”Let’s not get off subject” Vickers interrupts, sharing a lack of interest in Grant’s appearance just as his subordinates do, “we have nine hours to save our collective livelihoods. Let’s not waste time over unimportant matters.” The room silent, Vickers folds his hands atop the oak-finished table, face shifting toward Aiden and Carly, neither of whom recognize this change at first, their attention laid on those the rest of the room is inhabited by.
“Aiden, Carly- I’m going to ask the two of you to leave the room, please” Vickers requests, the two employees turning to him in confusion upon this request. “I trust the two of you greatly, but just as you’ve helped me, I’d like to do the same for you now” the older man clarifies, sweeping grey hairs away from his eyes, “whatever is going to be said from now on can possibly be considered incriminating, and the best way to protect you is to make sure you aren’t present to it, understand?”
Accepting, though disappointed, the pair offer each other a silent glance before taking Vickers on his offer, quietly leaving the table. “Thank you, Mr. Vickers” Aiden responds, his attempt at reaching the exit thwarted for a moment upon the sound of his employer’s voice. “It’s Sam, Vickers or both to you-” the news division’s president replies, watching the duo turn back to him, standing in the open doorway, “- to both of you.”
Appreciatively nodding, Aiden and Carly take that note to depart upon, re-entering the newsroom without another word. Beyond their tower’s windows, New York City sleeps soundly, the sky as dark as night was intended to be, and the towers that encompass the skyline lit just the same as LMC’s own. Their own newsroom chaotic, Aiden and Carly find themselves pulled to the nearest window, the pillars of lit windows that scrape the sky serve the perfect illustration of a city that never sleeps.
“For a city of eight million people, it sure does look peaceful” Carly purrs, the man she’d exited the room with stood to her left, sharing the same sentiment. “Sometimes, when I look at the city from up here, I forget how loud it is” Aiden remarks, his left hand pressing against the painted-over wall of concrete that separates one window from another. “It’s deeper than that. Sometimes I forget how chaotic it is from up here” Carly replies, “like we’re safe from it behind these windows.”
As a smile appears from behind his lips, Aiden pulls his face toward the newsroom, eyes setting upon the glass-encased conference room. Too distant from the conversation to hear what’s said, all Aiden can do is watch those inside, a defensive Grant and irritated Bruce the first thing Carly sees when she follows the trail her friend’s sights leave behind. “Not always” Aiden finally responds, unable to pull his focus away from the heated debate happening across the floor.
= Tonight at 9 is created by Zachary Serra, all rights to the series belong to Zachary Serra and the entity of Pacer1 from the start of Season 1 onward =
\ Monday, November 13th, 2006 /
\ 12:09 pm est. - 9:09 am pst. /
“Thanks, Nola” Grant concludes, lowering the phone back to its receiver as his attention redirects, “they’re on their way up.” Sat on the couch in Grant’s office, Vickers remains seated, not deeming their guests important enough to leave his seat for. “I think this warning bears repeating” Bruce proclaims, becoming the first to stand as he adjusts his suit jacket, “the ball is not in our court here. I don’t want any of us giving them leverage they don’t already have.”
His own expectations crafted over the duration of the prior nine hours, Grant disregards Bruce’s warning, believing it to be just another pointless omen he holds no responsibility to. With the back of his head pressing into the leather cushion of his chair, Grant finds a soft touch rest upon his left hand, fingers sprawled along his work surface, using the platform as an armrest.
“You gonna be alright?” Taylor whispers, her skin the only warmth Grant concerns himself with embracing the sensation of. “As long as you are, I am too” Grant responds, overturning his palm to meet Taylor’s own, their hands squeezing each other’s just as the newsroom captures Grant’s ear. “They’re here” Grant mutters, just loud enough for the room to hear, his back turned toward the larger studio.
“How do you know that?” Bruce inquires, watching Grant’s sleep-deprived face turn to him. “Do you hear that?” Grant replies, waiting for Bruce’s ear to share the same sound as his own, absolute silence emanating from the office’s outside. “No, I don’t” Bruce answers, shaking his head as half of a smirk appears upon Grant’s face. “Exactly” his client speaks, releasing Taylor’s hand from his while he leaves his chair.
Taylor following just behind him whilst Bruce and Vickers follow in that order, Grant exits his office, the open floor his workspace sits at the end of affording him an unimpeded view of those he’d awaited. The glass door slowly closing behind them, Kelsi and Howard stand across the bureau from their hosts, each employee, regardless of the task they’d been amidst, stopped in their tracks, all staring at Howard with widened eyes.
“Not bad, New York” Howard exclaims, hands tucked into the pockets of his brown winter coat, “you seem to have done pretty well for yourself, Grant.” Though impressed by the panopticon he’s stepped into, Howard’s true intentions stand at the opposite end of it, refusing to move first. “What the fuck is this guy doing here!?” a voice exclaims, putting the subdued thoughts his colleagues think into words, a gesture received with audible support from the rest of the crew.
“Everyone just get back to work-” Vickers replies, hushing the room as various employees peer over the railings above just as Howard interrupts. “No, no! Doing the news is a job designed for teams!” Howard shouts back, visibly pleased to instigate the station beyond his presence alone, “I’m happy to give you that answer, good sir!”
“That won't be necessary-” Grant replies, the latest of LMC’s employees interrupted by Howard. “I insist! As a matter of fact, whoever asked that question, come on over here!” the disgraced anchor orders, motioning for a young, black man in a chequered shirt to approach. “Victor, stay at your desk” Taylor commands, ending the game of statue between Howard and Grant by pulling away from the LMC group.
“Oh, it’s fine! I insi-!” Howard cuts through the tension to say, himself now on the receiving end of an interruption. “Victor, I told you to stay at your desk- now stay at your fucking desk” Taylor exclaims, the finger she’d centred upon her subordinate now finding its way in Howard’s direction, “now you- get in that fucking office right now.”
His expression insinuating he’d not anticipated such treatment from Grant’s co-anchor, Howard lets a moment pass before relenting, purposefully strolling across the room slowly. Remaining quiet through the ordeal, Kelsi matches Howard’s pace, each step taken in stride with her accompanying business partner until they reach Grant’s office, where she enters first.
Continuing to enjoy the treatment he’s earned, Howard stops in the doorway, his attention turned toward his former co-anchor. “It’s nice to see you again, old friend” Howard remarks, lifting his hand to rest upon Grant’s shoulder, the recipient unable to hold off the disgusted look that springs upon his face. “I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time” Howard concludes, sliding his hand off Grant’s shoulder as he finally steps into the office.
Raising his right hand in an effort to wipe the feeling of residue on his shoulder, Grant discovers a second hand having beaten him there. “Even if he controls whatever this meeting is, he doesn’t get to control you” Taylor whispers, wiping Grant’s shoulder on the man’s behalf whilst Vickers quietly watches over, holding the door for his dear friends, “don’t give him what he wants.”
For a moment, Grant’s mind strays from the pair that contaminate his office with their existence, a relief emerging as he and Taylor lock eyes, their companionship comforting each other. His lips pressed together, Grant bows his head and steps through the door. Not too far behind, Taylor follows Grant’s lead, Vickers’ glare toward the larger newsroom prompting his employees to return to work, the afternoon returning to just another Monday as he lets Grant’s door shut.
\ Monday, November 13th, 2006 /
\ 1:28 pm est. - 10:28 am pst. /
“It doesn’t matter much, does it? The Republic of South Ossetia will never be a thing” Carly replies, coating a chicken wrap in pesto sauce. “I can’t help but agree, though crazier things have happened” Aiden replies, rolling the sleeves of his button up shirt as he dips a handful of fries into ketchup, “it’ll create a war regardless, and that should be fun for us to cover.”
“You say ‘us’ as if Grant won’t be back by the time the first shots ring out” Carly replies, guiding loose strands of dark brown hair over her ear. “As of yesterday, I produce a show hosted by Taylor English and Carly Carpenter, that’s all I can plan around” Aiden replies, taking a salt shaker to the inside of his burger’s top bun, “until Sam tells me otherwise, I don’t have any plans for ‘Tonight at Nine’s’ future that involve Grant.”
“I get that, but you don’t actually think Grant’s going to be gone for any significant amount of time, right?” Carly quickly wonders aloud, laughing off the idea until she notices the silence Aiden replies with. “Right?” Carly repeats, Aiden still yet to answer. “Do you remember the reason Sam gave for telling us to leave last ni- this morning?” Aiden inquires, apologising for the misspeak, “I don’t even know if he’ll be a free man in a month’s time.”
Though Aiden’s teeth dig into his meal, Carly grows further away, her hands letting the sandwich fall slowly back to the paper it was wrapped within. “I’m not gonna get ‘Tonight at Nine’ full time, am I?” Carly wonders aloud, a mixture of doubt and concern beginning to hover above her head. “Who else is gonna take it on?” Aiden responds, wiping the grease from the corner of his mouth, “Frost’s ratings are dipping, Bernard’s contract is up, and Scott’s getting sent to L.A.”
“Aiden, I’m not ready for ‘Tonight at Nine’!” Carly immediately retorts, speaking in a hiss-like whisper. “Of course you are!” Aiden replies, visibly surprised by the woman’s reluctance, “When Grant got shot, the president of the news division himself put you on solo-air. If you could do that, you’re ready for any time slot.”
Hanging her head, Carly’s hands cover her face, her foot bouncing on the floor beneath their table. “Aiden, I don’t want ‘Tonight at Nine’” Carly reiterates, letting her hands fall long enough to look the man across from her in the eyes, “even if I was ready for it, I don’t want that kind of spotlight. I’m more than happy being the lead in, once that clock passes 8:59, I want my face off air for the night.”
Putting his burger down, Aiden wipes his hands on a towel as the conversation continues. “I don’t get it, Carly. You were on election coverage, you had time at the top of the show for a few months- what’s changed?” Aiden questions, unable to decipher the reason behind Carly’s reaction. “I just don’t want it anymore!” Carly quips back, speaking over the bell that rings above the diner’s entrance, “I’ll step in if the show needs a stand in, but I’m not interested in being a permanent host.”
Without the words to speak with, Aiden stares at his friend blankly, both arms crossed atop the table, the meal that waits to be eaten almost forgotten about. Beginning to sense the silent staring Aiden holds on her to be brought about by doubt, Carly relents, her shoulders dropping along with her anxiety. “Juno left me” Carly confesses, Aiden’s eyes lighting up as he’s made privy to this information, having waited to hear such news, though is unsure how to react.
“He packed up and left after Mr. Vi- after Sam threw him out” Carly clarifies, pushing her wrap toward the centre of the table as she sinks into her booth. “I’m sorry to hear that” Aiden replies, sliding his own burger aside whilst Carly’s frown turns into a smile. “Yeah right” the woman jokes, crossing her arms over the soft, purple dress shirt her chest propels outward, “you’ve been waiting to hear that since the first time you got me naked.”
Letting out a laugh through his nose, Aiden takes the towel to his face again, letting the humour subside as his face is cleaned. “While you’re right, that doesn’t mean I’m not sorry” Aiden corrects, the middle of the table cleared as he slides Carly’s wrap beside his own, “I know you liked him. If him leaving makes you sad, then I’m sorry that he left.”
Less opposed to Aiden’s apology the second time around, Carly lets her chin tilt, only able to voice the thoughts she’s usually too scared to say aloud. “He wasn’t wrong to” Carly responds, her left leg kicked over the right, “I always complained about his jealousy, but I’ve never honestly been able to admit that he had every reason to be- at least, not until now.”
His own eyes falling, Aiden’s attention remains on Carly, his pupils darting back toward her the moment she begins to speak again. “I think I need to just do what makes me happy. My contract’s up in two years, and my numbers keep steady around eight million” Carly remarks, a slight smirk beginning to creep along her face as her eyes take to Aiden’s, “I don’t know what my future with LMC is, but I know I want to enjoy the time I have in New York before it can end on me.”
Giving Carly a subtle nod, Aiden pulls back in his seat, letting the steam of burgers flipped on the grill close by and pots of coffee brew fill the air that holds them apart.
\ Monday, November 13th, 2006 /
\ 1:49 pm est. - 10:49 am pst. /
“It doesn’t matter if we’re willing to, the network won’t stand for it” Vickers refuses, the only participant in the conversation standing. “For the fifth time, this network would rather give Rudy fifteen minutes a week than have their premier anchors sent to the slammer” Kelsi replies, sharing the seat beside Howard, her feet crossed atop Grant’s desk.
“Oh please, the network would send a hitman after you before they let Rudy-fucking-Giuliani on our air” Vickers refutes, kept from continuing further by Grant’s hand. The room quieting, Grant opens his mouth for the first time, stood near the back of his office as Taylor occupies his seat. “As long as I can fairly and impartially conduct the interviews myself- we’ll make it work” Grant decides, shunning the attempted rebuttal Vickers prepares to hand him.
“We’ve argued about Rudy Giuliani for the last two hours, anything past ten minutes is too much” Grant remarks, his calm demeanour coaxing Vickers into an agreement. Crossing his arms over the grey t-shirt, Grant returns his sights to their guests, the smug look Howard and Kelsi stare at him with truly challenging his composure. “Come on-” Grant ushers, releasing a sigh as he stares toward his window, New York’s skies dull and sad, “-I know there’s more.”
Hands folded in her lap, Kelsi pulls her face toward Howard, the man’s attention never once falling upon her, his vision solely dedicated to the man whose office he resides in. His body leaving the chair, Howard now stands across Grant’s desk, his tall frame forcing Taylor’s eyes to trail upward. “I want my name cleared” Howard responds, the tone of his voice never wavering, just as controlled as it was when he’d arrived.
Tempted to intervene, Vickers follows the example set by Taylor and Bruce, keeping to himself so as to allow Grant the opportunity to make his own decision. Almost frozen, Grant’s posture goes unchanged, his arms still crossed, his face still tight. Though he breathes steadily, his chest begins to tighten, every muscle forcing his body to keep from exploding into a horror-induced rage.
Silent, Grant just locks his eyes onto Howard’s, the thoughts of shattering each bone in the narcissistic antagonist’s face firing through his mind, however physically-improbable such an encounter would be. Yet to blink since the demand was made, yet to open his mouth since Howard’s voice emerged, yet to lower his hands since the man entered his premises, Grant makes his decision, offering it in a low, subtle tone.
His expressionless face turning pale, Howard’s stoic stance is maintained, his best efforts put into converting his outrage into humour. “Come on, you don’t want that tape getting out” Howard sympathises, trying to lower the guard Grant has erected, “your friends here don’t seem too bad. You wouldn’t want them getting brought down with-”
Interrupting Howard with his voice, Grant makes his defence, still yet to move a muscle in any direction. “We each know Gerry Spence’s number by heart. Our names may be in the papers, but we won’t serve time” Grant disrupts, finally letting his hands fall, “but the four of us know that- being dragged through the mud by tabloids, watched in the courtroom by millions, whatever the cost is- it’s worth every second that you spend ostracised from society.”
“Why negotiate then?” Kelsi responds, her legs kept crossed, though they lower from Grant’s desk, “why entertain anything that we say?” Finally breaking away from his tidy corner, Grant returns to his desk, Taylor vacating his seat as he answers. “For a start, it keeps this out of the tabloids” Grant replies, letting his arms rest on his chair’s supports, “more than that, however, it helps make us even. You get the things you want, and we get rid of the two of you.”
“It sure doesn’t seem like that” Howard retorts, unable to hide the look of displeasure on his face. “If you wanted a payout? Fine. A second house? Fine. Forgiveness for the hitman? Fine. Anything else? Fine” Grant clarifies, sliding into his desk comfortably, “but your freedom? I don’t care what kind of hell you throw at me. The only person that can give you freedom is me, and I will never let you walk free.”
“Kelsi can have her weekly dose of Giuliani, we can make that work” Vickers quickly proclaims, both guests turning to face him, “but Howard, your freedom already burns in hell- you’re not getting that back.”
Seething, Howard turns his face toward Grant, the man beneath him cracking a smile, more amused at the deal’s conclusion than he’d anticipated being. “You’re making a massive mistake” Howard warns, still towering over the man’s desk, a subtle, almost indistinguishable shadow cast over Grant. “How so?” Grant challenges, leant back in his chair, hands coupled atop his lap.
“I’m not demanding a free slate! I’m not demanding some ticket back to primetime!” Howard shouts, his calm disposition vanishing. “You’re not demanding anything” Grant counters, the chair gliding away from his workspace, allowing him to stand. “Have you even taken a minute to think- just a minute out of all these years- to think about what you did?” Grant inquires, nothing louder than a hush given by Howard.
“You came here to get your name cleared, which- to me- makes it sound like you’re starting to see just how the world looks at you” Grant continues, “you’re beginning to realise that your actions have consequences. Maybe this is the first time they ever have, too.”
Stifled, Howard remains quiet, just listening to the words that escape Grant’s lips, his frustration having reached its ceiling. “That pedestal- the one that let you think you were above everyone else- is gone. Now you’re seeing things from everyone else’s level” Grant persists, now confidently rounding his desk, descending upon Howard, “now you’re starting to see reality differently than you have in years. You’re seeing things from a different perspective than before.”
“Stop talking” Howard finally interrupts, his shout having quelled into a near-whisper, voice lowered almost beneath his breath. “Why? Is it too much for you to handle?” Grant prods, gladly alleviating Howard’s shoulders of the antagonistic persona he’d entered with. “Take advantage of your new vantage point, Howard” Grant implores, able to see the effect his words have on his once-friend, “take a step back, and think about how Jessica feels. Think about how you changed her world.”
Simmering, Howard pulls himself backward, shaking his head as he reaches for the handle to his door. “You’ve done it now, Grant” Howard warns, departing with no further words, silencing the newsroom upon his re-entry. Unable to control his breathing, Howard peers at the countless faces, all staring at him from the coverage of their desks.
The eerie silence impossible to miss, Howard stands at the door to Grant’s office, able to hear the blood in his neck as well as he could a pin dropping across the bureau. Without a word, Howard walks for the exit alone, his shadow the only thing seen behind the frosted glass of Grant’s station.
“I only gave you Giuliani because I owed you” Grant clarifies, turning his attention back to his once-fling, “we’ll do Thursdays in the ‘B’ slot, take it or leave it.” Surprised at the return of Grant’s composed presentation, Kelsi pans around the room, not a face out of line. “He’s given you the offer” Taylor reiterates, earning Kelsi’s attention further, “you’re either walking out of here with it, or you’re leaving with nothing.”
Suspicious, Kelsi cracks a smile, unable to look away from Grant, who stares at her as if she were any other guest. “I want the ‘A’ slot” Kelsi responds, her answer coming in the form of Grant’s hand disappearing into one of his many drawers. “You take ‘B’ or you’ll take nothing” Grant replies, placing a recorder at the centre of his desk, its red light big and bright, “and you’ll keep to our deal. You’ve got us on home invasion, we’ve got you on extortion- I see no reason for either.”
Her smile lowering into a smirk, Kelsi looks Grant in the face, no further offer intended. “Deal” Kelsi accepts, throwing her expensive bag over one shoulder and making for the newsroom, the confrontation ceasing upon her withdrawal. Left to their own, the foursome pass looks at each other, the uncertainty of what lies ahead leaving most at a loss for words. “Now, let’s get back to the way things were” Vickers declares, not an ounce of refusal to be found, “let’s do the fuckin’ news.”
== Tonight at 9 ==