2010-05-11: Alternate Reality



Date: May 11, 2010


Just when he thought his life would be less like a soap opera…

"Alternate Reality"


"Maybe I should have picked Chicago," Taine says for the third time in the evening, as they step out of the balcony to walk out with the flow of traffic. Some people remain in their seats, the curtains have closed and the lights risen. It's not the end of the show, just an intermission, to allow people to go to the restroom, get a refreshment or two, or stretch their legs. Some people need to be woken up.

"We spend enough time in animal make up, we shouldn't have to see it on our off time," he comments, as they move down the row, until reaching the aisle. If they made more money as soap stars, they might have gotten a nice box seat. A near front row center on the balcony seemed to be the closest. Expensive tickets.

And their first date in public since the tragedy that took them away from each other for a lot longer than anyone could be comfortable.

Anything would have been awesome for Erin. She can actually enjoy the fact that people know who she is for once, even if the looks make her feel uneasy at times. Still, she's sure she's in no danger here, and means to have a most awesome evening with Taine.

"It's nice. Lion King's one of my favourites," Erin says, leaning forward on the balcony rail, looking down into the crowds below. Given the fact that the opening number involved several actors in the balcony, they got a really up-close look at the costume designs. "Besides, this is less animal makeup and more masks and— Well, it's a lot different than what we go through. And look at the set design."

She indicates the closed curtain, though it was nice when it was open. Eventually, she stands and follows after Taine, stretching, giving the guy that was sitting a couple rows back from them a good glance so he can be certain that it was Erin McCarty he was seeing. Ah, she does love when their girlfriend/fiancee/significant other gives them a good smack! Except for the fact that she's looking at Taine! Erin wraps her arm around his, almost protectively. Yes, she's being a girl for once, instead of a guerilla warrior. That, too, is a nice change.

"I guess after seeing the masks, I'd rather be in those too," Taine comments as he glances behind them toward the curtain. The sets aren't something he really appreciates, but the singing and the dancing are more his style. Still, Chicago is supposed to have hot babes! So in his mind it may have been superior. "You're probably one of the few people who came for the sets," he adds, as he pulls her closer and kisses her, in public, on the hair.

This is when someone waiting to get out of their row speaks up in a soft feminine voice, "Excuse me— Are— are you Morgan and Pryce?"

Taine is caught off guard, though he shouldn't be, by the older, motherly looking woman standing in the aisle. Beside her is an older man, too. "Ah— yes, we are," he says in his Australian accent.

"I always record the show, every single night. The DVR should be catching tonight's episode. Are they airing the episodes where you return soon, Morgan?"

"You're not the only one," Erin says. If only she hadn't fallen out of that walkway and broken her arm, she wouldn't have to wear that makeup all the time. With some irritation, she rubs the afflicted arm. Oh, well. At least it's better than having no job at all.

"I work on sets. I like to see them. And I'm sure there are others here who— " Her argument is quieted by the kiss, which makes her smile, and lean closer. It's really nice to be able to do this again. Her eyes close for just a moment before — oops, spotted!

"Erin," she corrects. She always likes to separate her character from herself, even though they're similar. "It's filmed. Should be airing shortly." They're mixing in some sound bytes of her with Ora now, though her actual reappearance on screen will be a very big event later in the month for May Sweeps. Her return is just convenient for the network.

"The show just isn't the same without you," the older woman says, reaching out as if to take her hand in both of hers. Warm hands, but oddly grabby and overly affectionate. Then again, that is the side effect of being invited into a person's home every week night for a few years. Some people just feel too familiar… Even if they don't know them outside their character.

"It's good to meet you, ma'am," Taine says politely, intercepting the hands and pushing them away, though they did manage to touch Erin for a moment. The old lady moves back, leaning against her apparent husband, and the evening soap stars manage to move on, as the people behind them clear their throats to remind them to go.

"She was right, though. It wasn't the same without you," Taine says, once again pulling in close. They can be possessive of each other.

Thanks to Jo, Erin does not like shaking other peoples' hands. There's hesitation, a quick look for any ring that might drug her, and then, just before she pulls her hand away and makes herself look like an ass, Taine is there for her.

Erin breathes.

Sometimes, she's not sure if anything will ever be as it was before, suspicions abounding around the most innocent of gestures. After they're on the move again, Erin does look back and says, "It was nice to meet you, thanks for watching," the relief evident in her voice.

Crisis averted, Erin stays close to Taine. Out in the open, she kind of feels vulnerable. "I'm back now," she says. Who knows for how long, though? Things keep happening to make it really hard for her to stay on-set. "Thanks for that, by the way. Not really a fan of… touching… after…"

The bad part about a public date, there's other people around. And Taine can't help but feel extra protective, and not just because she might give him herpes by accident. Not just. "I know, that's why I interfered," he says close to her hair, still leaning in over her. Taller than her as he may be, he's not a tall man. Most actors aren't. Just average height. Enough distance between them to make him look tall, but only because…

She's short.

And he likes her like that.

"I don't mind being one of the only people allowed to touch you. So I'm glad you don't mind it with me." Though— that might have taken a while, once they could finally see each other for an extended time.

Surprisingly, Erin has more control over her ability now than what she did when she was captured. The half-assed 'serenity' she learned from Cody has a bit to do with that. At least it's something. She's certainly not ready to get 'Serenity' tattooed on her neck in Japanese characters to exemplify just how calm and collected she is.

It's just that she's really able to trust Taine more than a lot of other people. There are limits to her tolerance, but that limit hasn't been reached just yet.

Once outside the theatre, in the openness of the atrium, she feels more comfortable, less targeted. Like people have other things to do besides looking at her. "I'd say we could skip part two and go get coffee or something, but I kinda want to see what happens."

Even though she's seen Lion King before. Many times!

Taking his hand, she holds onto it lightly, though with enough strength that it's almost as if she's counting on him to keep her safe. Leaning close, she says, "They're all buying it, you know. It was almost too easy, convincing them that that fan who's been writing you letters was the one who had me all that time."

Finally, open air! Less of a throng of people, but that doesn't mean they're alone. There's places to get drinks, or just stretch legs, and he begins to lead toward the drink stand. Taine can't help but glance at her as she talks about them "buying" it. "I can't help but feel a little bad for whoever she was. But it's better than the alternatives." That the world would know his girlfriend has the ability to kill so many people if she really wanted to. And he's glad that she hasn't lost it that much…

Once they reach the beverages, he asks for water, just that, and the frumpy looking woman pours them into small glasses, watching them with hawk-like eyes. Maybe she recognizes them too.

Someone moves in behind them, while they're distracted, and a hand brushes against Erin's arm, fingers sliding down toward her elbow.

"I can't really feel bad," Erin says. In a way, she became exactly like Cody — when one person can be sacrificed for the good of the many, then that's what you have to do. In this case, the sacrifice wasn't exactly innocent. Still, it does make her feel a little like she ruined someone's life. What if her secret got out, though? How many more lives would be ruined?

The immediate contact is noted, but it seems distant. Almost like— It's dizzying. Something is forcing her… Asleep? That's almost what it feels like. "Taine, I'm…" she starts, taking a step back from the drink stand. It feels like she's falling under, like she's about to pass out… She fights it, but in the end…

Nothing happens. The acress stands there, breathing heavily, but looking to be otherwise okay. She's slightly confused, sure, but not— Not—

The final memories leak away like they're being drained through a sieve. They're like remnants that she can just barely hold onto. Fragments of a dream almost. Someone else's life - not hers. That someone else is trying to hold on, but eventually, Morgan is only left with the impression that something major just happened. Her eyes, when they refocus, look at Ken, and she asks, "Where are we?"

A fainting spell is something normal, especially in the summer. Maybe she stood up too fast after being sitting down so long, maybe they should have had a bigger dinner with more red meat— there's a ton of possibilities. Taine tries to hold onto her in case she's about to go down, but she doesn't. The two cups of water are pushed up, but he doesn't take them, as he focuses all his attention on his date to the Broadway show.

"We're at the Lion King," he explains carefully, in his Aussie accent, as he turns to give a quick apology to the drink woman, and begins pulling Erin away toward one of the chairs, so he can help her sit down.

"I'll be right back," he adds, before turning to get the water. It takes a few moments, but when he returns, he kneels in front of her, "Are you okay, Erin?"

Something… Is wrong. She can feel it. Last thing she remembers, she was in some cave, held prisoner by Ora. Her powers were completely suppressed by the Weystone, so much so that she spent the great majority of time unconscious. Now she's here? "I— I don't…" She allows Ken to lead her to the chairs, while looking over her shoulder at the drink lady. No one familiar! Is she dreaming? Maybe she's been under for so long, that her dreams are starting to look like reality! No, this is far too real. She digs her nails into her pals, feeling the pain. Yeah, she's definitely awake.

"Did you get me out of there? I don't— " Morgan reaches up to hold her head. "I don't actually… remember… Blinking, she focuses on that name. Erin. It sounds so familiar, but she doesn't know anyone named Erin! "I don't think she's… leaving me alone. Maybe— How am I here?"

There are also too many unattractive people around. There are glamous and pretty people, handsome people, but then there's the completely undone up people— it seems off, for a moment. But at least she gets a few seconds to cope while he was gone to get the drinks.

"I— what?" Taine says, looking confused as he ends up putting the drinks down to set on the floor in front of her. Hopefully they won't get kicked over. "I— drove you here?" What else are you supposed to respond in this situation! "This is our first date since you got back…" Oh no, she might be having a traumatic relapse! He knows she went through a lot at the hands of the government. Torture, pain— it could be that.

"Maybe we should skip the second half and go home."

Morgan's eyes dart from place to place for awhile, never settling on anyone for too long. She's always known there were ugly people in the world, but holy cow, either she's been living with blinders on her whole life, or a good majority have suddenly congregated here! …Wherever here is.

First date. Drove? She's starting to panic. She has to get a hold on things, or else she'll morph here, and then everyone will know that there are actual werecreatures among them. That would be bad. Maybe this was Ora's plan, though— Freak everyone out, draw the— The—

She's getting ahead of herself. "Second half of what, Ken?"

"Of the…" Lion King.

That's what Taine meant to say, until the name she called him processed. Ken. Kenneth. Pryce. If she is looking out like a frantic deer in headlights, he looks like he just got smacked in between the eyes. Oh god, she's had a psychotic break.

That's the first thing that springs to mind. After all she's been through, it seems plausable. It's not werecreatures he has to worry about, though, but viral infections.

"I— just calm down a minute, we— we'll figure this out, we should go home, though, right now. And— what do you think is going on?"

"I'm calm, I'm fine," she says. It's more than obvious that something's wrong, but why is Ken so worried? Of course, she's not entirely fine. There's a certain glow in her eyes that's probably familiar to Taine, but it's making it remarkably hard for Morgan to see. She rubs at them, but the hazy vision doesn't immediately clear up.

Home? Home. Normally, 'going home' with someone means that something more pleasurable is going to follow, and so her comment on that is "I don't think I can right now." No, not while she's this goddamn confused. She looks around the theatre again, and while she knows she's never been here before, some little part of it looks familiar. Almost like she's experiencing deja vu.

"I dunno, last thing I remember…" Her voice quiets, "I was in some cave. There was this… Goldfish. I think. Ora. This girl that I bit when I was first transformed. I don't even remember doing it, but she's got this grudge. She was keeping me there…"

Morgan tries to remember more than that. "It's the last thing I remember. I don't know how I got from there to here!" Her voice raises in panic.

Crap. That's not a glow he wants to see when the woman doesn't seem to know who she is.

And who she thinks she is happens to be, by all appearances… a character on a TV Series. Who also thinks he's Kenneth. "You're safe. You're safe, Er— … Morgan. I promise you that you're safe, and I'm going to protect you, but you can't…" Glowing eyes bad. Glowing eyes means ebola, herpes, rabies! "There are too many people around, just— come with me. You'll be safe and I'm going to protect you."

Kenneth Pryce has werewolf abilities, vampire abilities, alien abilities—

Taine Whitaker has dashing good looks and amazing hair.

But he can still do what he needs to to protect her. Moving to reach into her purse, he reaches around for her sunglasses, and puts them on her face. "Just trust me. You do trust me, right?"

He can figure out what's happening when he gets her out of here.

When they have conversations like this, Morgan usually has to disagree about something. For some reason, she can't today. It's like it's all-important that she gets the hell out of here as quickly as possible. The thoughts are hers, certainly, but they seem more imperative under the circumstances. "…Yeah— " She looks away for just a moment, and when she looks back, Ken is putting sunglasses on her face. They're not even hers. And the purse she's holding - also not hers. But familiar. "What the hell is going on?" she whispers, voice still on the edge of panic, even as she allows Ken to lead her out of the building.

It isn't until they're out of the building and moving toward the near empty parking garage, that Taine takes the time to speak. All that time he's thinking about how he should say. What's happening sounds like a script that might get dropped in front of him. Amnesia! Associative identity— something or other.

"Would you believe me if I said you're in another dimension?" he finally says, deciting the whole situation doesn't need a rational explaination after all. "You're not captured by Ora anymore. You're… not even a were porcupine. But you do have an ability that would be dangerous if you lost control. I'm still Kenneth, but you don't… Morgan Starr doesn't exist in this world. Not— not like she exists in yours."

Does this make any sense at all?

"My jeep is over here, come on," he continues, pulling her along.

"I knew it," Morgan says. "We always knew they existed. It was just a matter of time 'til a portal opened between one and the other!" She almost sounds excited, in a way. Must mean that whatever Taine said was the right thing to say! Of course, the next stuff is a little daunting - she has no means of protection, she's still dangerous, and… She doesn't exist?

"But I'm here," she says, taking Ken's arm and giving him a tug to stop him. She pulls the sleeve back on her dress, revealing the long, ugly scar where a werewolf scratched her, and then got blood in the wound. "Look — if this isn't proof, then— Then what's this?" She follows behind at a slower pace now, trying to parse the fact that Ken has a jeep and not his own personal jet. What the hell?!

Erin's pretty sharp, which means Morgan is, too. So some of this stuff isn't fitting together. Looking around, she realises… She recognises this place. But it isn't Llanview. "Is this… New York? I've never been to New York!"

A soap opera character in a supernatural drama has an easier time accepting the strange and unusual. After all, they've seen everything except alternate dimensions, pretty much. Only a matter of time til they do introduce that. "That's a scratch you got falling down. Listen, if we can get back to my apartment in time we can— I can explain everything better." By showing her the last scenes of Afterlife as they air on television for everyone to see?

That's about the only thing he can think of. With her in the jeep, he settles into the driver's seat and starts the car up. "You've never been to New York, but— the woman I know, Erin, has lived here for years. I have too." He hopes there's no outbreak of Ebola on Broadway on the news tomorrow…

"This isn't some kind of joke, right?" he asks after they get moving in the car, just to make sure.

No outbreak of Ebola, and when they're in the car and she takes her sunglasses off, her eyes aren't as bright. The deer-in-headlights look suggests that this is no joke, but at least with some sort of explanation for her to wrap her mind around, Morgan seems slightly more at ease. "Erin, that's what you called me back at the theatre." Yeah, she caught that even if she didn't say anything about it at the time."

Looking across the centre console, her eyes narrow, casting the palest blue highlight on her cheeks. "You don't… live here…" It's more a question than a statement. She's starting to wonder if this isn't Ken, after all. He's acting strange. Not as confident. In a hurry. Shouldn't they have kissed before they left the theatre? Why didn't they have a ride waiting for— th— "Pryce, you CAN'T DRIVE!" The panic is back. Of course, every time one of the main cast gets behind the wheel the show, there's an accident.

"You're in another dimension!" Taine says, looking frustrated at his own cover story, but he does slam on the breaks in a panic even then. Not so much that they get thrown about too much, but— she's right. Cars and Afterlife don't mix well. "I'm actually not Pryce, but I know everything that he's been through. I've been… watching your world for a long time. My name is Taine. I'm not a neurologist, or a werewolf, or a vampire— I've never been experimented on my aliens, but I know everything that he's been through. I know everything that you've been through."

And then he starts driving again, slowly. "And I can drive. We'll be fine. Just buckle up."

"Right, right," Morgan says, hunkering down in the seat, but watching the road extra-carefully. That Pryce should get into an accident if he's driving isn't something Morgan would automatically conclude. Someone else, something else, is doing that thinking for her. And yet, whoever they are, the lines are crossing. It's like she can't see between them.

"Watching my world?" she goes on, distinctly disturbed by this notion, and also rather concused by the fact that Ken isn't Ken. She leans toward him, reaching, one hand drawing down his cheek in the exact same gesture that Erin created for Morgan to use on the show whenever she and Pryce were having a tender moment. "…You look so much like him."

The touch takes him by surprise, and there's a sudden swirve, before he fixes the jeep. Taine can't help but laugh a little as he says, "No wonder you guys always crashed in your universe. You're distracting." Even as he says this, he takes one hand off the steering wheel and holds on to hers. "I— I'm not sure what happened to cause this. One minute we were talking about… things going on here in my world, and the next thing I know you— are Morgan." Who isn't real outside of a television show. But he's not sure how to explain that, yet.

"I don't have a jet, or anything fancy. Just a jeep and an apartment. Things are very different here, though." Very different.

"Sorry! Sorry…" Morgan says, drawing her hands back and making sure they're nowhere near Taine so they'd cause a crash. "I've heard that. It's— A lot to take in all at once." There's always been a sort of nicer lean to Morgan than Erin had. Morgan's more heroic, less likely to snap when things don't go her way. She actually offers Taine a smile. "Might take a while for me to get used to."

There's not even any reluctance when he takes her hands. Her fingers wrap in his, the familiarity comforting. "We could figure it out, I bet. We— Me and Ken figure out everything that goes on in Llanview. Or we did before I was captured." Still holding onto his hand, she leans on the window, looking out. "Will you take me to see New York? I've always wanted to go. I mean, if there's time." She stops jusst short of pressing her nose up against the window.

"I guess I won't be much help," she says after awhile. "Last thing I know, I was in a cave. Dreaming, I think? Maybe that's why that name sounds so familiar. Erin."

"Erin McCarty," Taine explains, keeping his eyes on the road, even if he wants to look at her. At least he has both hands on the wheel now, so that it's even more safe. "I'm not Pryce and I can't do things like that, I'm just…" An actor? How can he explain the situation so that it doesn't cause a panic. Anyone else, he might have tried to tell it bluntly to, but Erin… The ability she has is far too dangerous to risk making her go into panic or anger mode. Even if Morgan rarely gets angry in the same ways that Erin does.


"I what Erin back as much as you want to get back to Ken." Even if she's been apart from him longer, thanks to kidnapping plot. "But I'll show you what I can— look out the window, we're almost to the Brooklyn Bridge." Cause his apartment is in Brooklyn.

Erin McCarty. It sounds so familiar. Morgan leans back in the chair, catching her own reflection in the sideview mirror. For some reason, she expected it to be… different. But when she sees the face there, it's her own. The same one she's always known. So there's someone in some other dimension that looks exactly like her and… isn't her? It doesn't quite add up. "So— I look exactly like her? That doesn't make— " Any sense. But it does! Taine looks like Ken!

Taking a deep breath, she runs her fingers through her hair, glancing out the window at the bridge. "You're a lot like him in some way," Morgan says. "Look, just… Tell me how you know me. And Ken. If you're worried about me freaking out, I'll… Try not to. I mean, at least I'm out of that cave, right? Shoot," No stronger expletive than that. Network TV and all! "If anything, I can be thankful for that. Better I learn from you than from someone else."

"Well, you're a lot like her, the same way I'm a lot like Pryce," Taine says quietly, glancing over at her when he's at a stop. Explaining might be more difficult than he'd like, but people in Llanview, especially after dark, would often think they were being watched all the time. And sometimes they were. By aliens. But what he needs to tell her…

"I'll explain when we get to my apartment," he says patiently. "And I can show you some of it, too, if we make it there in time." With that, he glances at the clock on the dashboard, which counts down the time. "Yeah, we should be able to make it." Before the episode of Afterlife finishes airing.

The longer they're in New York, the more she feels like she's been here before. It's the weirdest feeling…

Plus, all this talk of showing her. Showing her what? Why can't he just tell her? It's driving her insane! Still, Morgan nods, offering a little shoulder dip as a shrug. A few more minutes isn't going to hurt.

Besides, despite the familiarity of all this, seeing New York is exciting. It's so busy - nothing like Llanview. Cars everywhere! How do they all avoid getting into accidents? The accident rate here must be incredibly low, compared to the 92 percent rate back home. It's just not safe to drive!

Eventually, they pull into Taine's apartment complex. It's not exactly what she's used to… Looking up at the building, she wonders aloud, "You're not a doctor, are you?"

A lot of the cars are cabs, but a lot are also commuters, especially on the Bridge. The complex is nice, by Brooklyn standards, but not exceptional. No man to show them in the door and take the car around. Taine actually has to park himself, and get out of the car with a laugh. "No, I'm not a doctor. Blood actually makes me queezy, so I never understood the appeal." A lot of things make him queezy. He's a little bit of a baby when it comes to things!

"Come on," he says, opening the door for her and leading the way inside, up two flights of stairs — stairs — and then down a hall to a numbered door, that he unlocks and opens.

The apartment is nicely decorated, and set up good, but— not at all like any of the places in Llanview. Far more lived in. "This is my apartment," he says, as he puts his things down on the couch, practically throws them. There's some photographs of him, his family, his baby sister— and Erin. A few of him and Erin. Most promo shots.

The television turns on, and he flips through the channel toward ABC.

Usually, it's the news that's always on in Llanview…

But once he flips over, she hears a familiar voice…

Yeah, nothing at all like she's used to. Still, it's nice. Comfortable. For some reason, she feels safe here, though she can't even begin to say why.

The need to climb stairs was a little odd. They only do that if there's a fire, usually. Or, you know, if they're sneaking away to do something socially unacceptable in a stairwell. Her eyes glance over the pictures in the apartment, and she eventually reaches out for one of her and Ken.

A photo that never happened. Is this Erin and Taine? As she's trying to puzzle that out, she hears the voice on TV. It's the end of the show; her own voice. "They'll come for me."

In a familiar cave; the view changes to Ora, and Morgan's eyes narrow. "That… Never…"

She's a smart girl. Putting everything together wasn't impossible, but understanding it - figuring out how this could even happen - that's going to be a challenge. The picture frame slips from her fingers to the floor. Normally, the glass would shatter. In this case, it just cracks.

"Oh my god. I don't even exist."

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