2010-03-11: Big Max Attack



Date: March 11, 2010


Erin is on a mission to fill the hole in her soul, Cody wants to plug it with a stick.

"Big Max Attack"

Top Secret Apartment

The plan is now set in motion. All Erin has to do is sit here and wait now — she's sure some of the refugees will be coming here, but until then, she can just … wait.

She's decided not to turn on the video game again. Instead, she's taken a few sheets of computer paper, sat down on the couch, and has been sketching since Cody left to take Janet back. It takes her mind off the fact that she doesn't have any hair at the moment. Annoying.

But the fact that this might actually work has Erin in a decent mood… And because of that, she can finally do something she's been wanting to do for a long time - look into the face of the man who tortured her. Not literally, but with her art background, Erin's actually really good at creating likenesses.

It's still hard. The longer she works on it and the closer it looks to his face, the more the meditation's lessons seem to fly out the window. Recalling it is hard enough, but the face appearing on the paper makes it all the more real. It makes her feel jittery. Unsafe. Disturbed. Afraid. Not feelings she's used to experiencing, and it's hard to believe that one man could do all that to her in less than a day.

It's not even an hour later when Cody finally comes back through the door. She never bothered to regrow her hair past a small bit of stubble that might have passed for a crew cut. Tossing the keys to the apartment onto the counter, she pulls out a phone book and begins to look up a few numbers. Then she lifts her head. The television isn't on and Erin isn't screaming at some whatever it was she was screaming at before.

"Hey Erin, you okay?" Something is definitely amiss in Denmark.

Slowly, Cody wanders into the living room and drops down beside the starlet, giving her a touch that lasts only as long as it takes to regrow some of the woman's hair. Cody's not mean enough yet to give Erin a mullet, but it's quite possible the next time she's used as a guinea pig, the starlet might be the recipient of just that. For now, though, she gets the red hair that she first entered the apartment with.

Looking down at the picture, Cody smiles in recognition of the dreamy man. "Hey, that's really good. I didn't know you could draw like that. Though, you don't have his lips quite right… they need to be smiling. He doesn't look quite as good without his smile."

Erin's not quite okay. Better than she would have been if she'd done this when she first suggested it, though. Outwardly, she's just fine, if not a little quiet.

When Cody enters, she stops drawing, tapping the eraser end of the pencil against her knee as she watches her roommate go after the phonebook. "Ah… Just a little tired," she lies, eyes glancing upward as she can feel the return of her dignity growing on her head. Her response to that is a thankful smile.

That disappears pretty quickly when Cody looks at the picture, though. In fact, it becomes a scowl that's more disturbed than angry. "This is one of the agents… I wondered if you'd know him. I said I'd try to draw him — This is what I used to do on the set when I wasn't in front of the camera. Designing sets and stuff. It's — " It seems so stupid now. "It's what I went to school for." She hands the drawing to Cody. "This is the guy I've been dreaming about. Can't get him out of my head. He's the one who — Who…" Closing her eyes, she breathes. "…So do you have a name for me?"

Knitting her eyebrows together, Cody edges away from Erin and gazes down at the picture. "You can't touch him," she says quietly, not willing to sacrifice either her new friend or her lover. "He's… I need him." For what is the question.

Still holding the picture, Cody gets up off the sofa and begins the slow climb to her room. Her good mood has waned and she's just staring at the drawing as she enters the bare chamber that is her bedroom. Should Erin follow, she would find the agent sitting on her bed with the paper, just staring at it.

Okay, that was weird.

Erin eyes Cody with a good deal of suspicion, and she's not sure she likes where this is going. Erin full intends to make that guy in the drawing - whoever he is - suffer and then die for what he did to her. Maybe if he had just left her alone, she'd be much better off. But he didn't. He had to show her what torture was.

"Can't — " But Cody's already walking away. Erin stands, staring after her until she's out of sight, and only then follows Cody to her room. She doesn't say anything at first. "What the hell's wrong with you?" she finally asks after the long silence. "This — this guy's the reason I wake you up in the middle of the night screaming. Do you know what he did to me?" She never actually said. "He starved me, Cody. And while he was doing that, and I was getting sicker and sicker, he played a tape of screaming and yelling and…" Her voice trembles and trails off. "Flashing lights. Sixteen hours. I remember every single one. And you're telling me I can't touch him. Why?"

Cody's jaw clenches as Erin describes the pain that the man in the drawing put her through. "Because I need him…" she says softly, any illusions that she might have had about him are slowly drifting away. She knows he's a brute, frightening, and always too calm and polite about it. The picture is gently tossed to the side as the woman slowly closes her eyes and rubs her forehead. "He's also the man that took care of me after you tried to kill me. He sewed me up, gave me a place to sleep, got me food and clothing…" Erin might not have known that part, they've never actually talked about the aftermath.

Turning her head to give the soap star a steady look, Cody purses her lips. "I need this man on my side, because if I ever find Sayf Udeen…" Her voice drifts off. She knows that she can't break the terrorist alone. Max has the experience and the drive to do it. She's not sure if it's so much a pleasure for him, as a need to know what it takes to break a lesser being than himself. "If I ever find Sayf Udeen, I need him to break him and get the names of the people at the top of all of this."

The last time Erin saw Cody like this… was the night she tried to kill her. There's a sort of helpless quality that's seriously disturbing, now that they actually know each other.

The meditation has helped, as much as it can help someone who's so bull-headed that if she doesn't get angry at least once a day, she's not happy. Erin is seething; all the signs that she's about to snap are visible. Her hands are clenched into fists, she's tense, and, most telling of all, there's a bright blue cast to her eyes - too bright to be natural.

When she speaks her voice carries barely-repressed rage. "Then you use him, and then he's mine," Erin says. She's killed before. She can kill one more time — especially since she'll feel no guilt over this one. "Or, fuck. Bring this Udeen guy to me, and I'll make him wish he could tell you more." Erin picks up the picture. "You know his name. I want it."

"You can't break Sayf Udeen, you don't know how to do it." There's something else though, just the way Cody looks a the picture is telltale enough. It's not just the terrorist that keeps her from spilling the name. With a few blinks, that look is gone, set by a firm one that lifts to a steady gaze to her room mate.

"I'm not going to just use him and throw him away like that. I just… I need him." By the stubborn set to her jaw, Cody seems ready for whatever those blue glowing eyes are waiting to deliver. Why she's protecting him, she doesn't even know. "Look, you know whenever I don't come home at night?" Then she points to the picture. The frequency of her nights out dropped quite drastically when she became one of the 'living dead' but again last night, the agent was missing from the apartment.

"I don't expect you to understand and I'm sorry that I didn't know he was the one that … tortured you like that." She shakes her head then and takes a deep breath. "I'm sorry, if you're going to kill him, I'm not going to give you a name."

"…oh." It's… surprised. The oh, when she gets it, is just surprised. The second one… Realization dawns, and she says "…oh…" again, this time with the full implications of what Cody is talking about. It sinks in. Slowly. Erin's expression is no longer angry, it's horrified. Disgusted. In her mind, the man in the picture is a twisted monster, a demon. He haunts her dreams, and even if they're better, she can't get rid of him entirely. He's always just there.

It's worse than sleeping with the enemy. To Erin, it's like bestiality. Yes. That bad.

If Cody's expecting some horrible disease from Erin, it never comes, but maybe the look the actress is giving her is worse. Turning, Erin walks from the room in silence.

One would suppose it would all be over, then. End of conversation, end of friendship— But a few minutes later, there's a loud crash from Erin's room. Glass breaking, something heavy falling to the floor — accompanied by a pained yell.

That looks is enough to make a moose wither, but Cody withstands all of those urges and just gives a steady gaze back to Erin. When the drama queen (because she's actually the queen of a drama) turns and leaves, the agent picks up the picture again and lays it gently on her bedside table. It's a mess, a big huge mess. She never really thought about his subjects as people, it was easier that way. Now she knows one of them, fairly well, and it seems to really bother her.

Then there's the crash… and the yell…

"Oh Jesus tits…" Cody curses as she jumps from her bed and races down the hallway. The other room isn't so far that it takes more than thirty seconds, if that. "Erin are you al — Ah! No don't break everything!! Pyle is going to kill me!!" The death Erin could provide is a sweet release compared to what the senior agent would do if he found out the safe house was being destroyed.

"God damnit, Erin!! Focus and breathe!" Cody's getting angry now and her hair is actually begining to grow and braid itself into a series of very long tails. With a whip of her head, the hair wraps around the temper tantrum throwing starlet and binds her at the legs and wrists. "You can't just start smashing everything in sight whenever something doesn't go your way. Focus… breathe… and meditate."

"GET AWAY FROM ME!" All that yelling she didn't do before? She's doing it now. And most of it is completely unintelligible. Some of it refers to the fact that Cody is somehow disgusting for even touching that man. Erin can't stand it. The idea that anyone could — She can't see him as anything but cruel. Cruel, beastlike, the stuff nightmares are made of. And Cody —

Erin could end this so easily in her opinion. Nevermind that the other woman could shred her in a couple seconds… The damage would be done to Cody before that point.

And it really is hard to hold back, but Erin is somehow managing. The worst Cody will feel is a case of the sniffles, and even that doesn't last. "Let go of me! Don't — Don't touch me! Let me go!" Cody touched him! She needs him! Erin pulls at the hair that's holding her, but only succeeds in tripping herself up. With glass from a broken mirror on the floor, though, she catches herself by her elbow on the dresser, dropping the umbrella in the process. Then she glares.

Like the uncoiling of a snake, Cody's hair unravels from around the starlet and slithers back behind the agent standing at the door. Sniffing once, she puts a hand to her nose and then draws it away to look at the other woman. "Look, I'm sorry. Shit happens to the best of us. You need to pull yourself together and get over it. You think you're the only one with demons? Well you're not, I have them, your sister has them, even he has them." He must have them, hell he was wearing makeup the first time they met.

Taking a deep breath inward, Cody closes her eyes and calms herself. "Come on, you need a better way to work this out of your system." Then she disappears down the hallway again, this time to the room they've been using to practice.

As soon as Erin is mostly free, she yanks her arms away from Cody's grasp. "I didn't have demons until you people decided I needed them!" she yells. That's not entirely true. Still, before that, her issues were manageable, and she could deal with what was thrown at her. This? Sometimes she's so on edge about it all that she can't even fathom ever being calm and collected again.

Erin doesn't follow at first. There's one more crash a minute later as she throws the umbrella she'd been using to smash things across the room.

Eventually, she appears at the doorway, a whole lot less enraged than she was before. Miserable would more accurately describe her now. "If he's that important to you, I won't hurt him," she says. Maybe deep down, she's glad for the reprieve - she has an excuse to not kill someone, keeping her body count at a respectable two. And god-knows-how-many maple trees, but that's another story.

"Before I met him, I didn't honestly believe people could do that to each other. I knew — Not everything is always awesome in the world, but he… Changed the way I look at things. And not in a good way. I've — " She shakes her head. Not only did he make her compromise her morals, but she's terrified of him. And she doesn't like the fact that there's someone in the world who terrifies her that much.

When Erin finally joins her, Cody is stretching her muscles out. "Stretch," she commands, her voice just eerily calm. It's almost as if she's not listening to anything Erin says, but she is. "You're going to learn how to fight. First lesson is focus." Then she places her hands together and bows to the other woman.

When she turns to face the wall, she takes one of the Tai Chi positions that she's been teaching the other woman. "You know how everyone says that Tai Chi is just a breathing exercise?" She goes through some of the motions very slowly and deliberately, holding her poses for a little longer than she normally would. "That's all bullshit. It's very much a fighting technique."

She stops and moves to one corner of the room where they've been keeping some of the equipment that Cody's been using to practice with. Picking out two broom handles, she returns to the middle of the room and passes one of them to Erin. "Remember the poses I taught you, just speed it up and add the stick."

She lunges at Erin, missing her torso with one of the butt ends by a mere fraction of an inch. The look in her eyes indicates that the miss was very on purpose. "What you did, is win. He doesn't know you're alive, no one knows you're alive. You're going to beat Alpha Protocol with your ability. They won't even know what hit them, you're just going to sneak all of those people out under their noses."
"I…" Don't want to do this right now. So when she stretches, it's grudgingly, and because she's sure that if she doesn't, Cody's just going to kick her ass.

Erin does not bow. She's still thoroughly disgusted, and can't find it in herself to bow respectfully to someone who she's really not even sure she wants to be in the same room with at the moment. There's no copying, no attempts to better her Tai Chi that she's been working on so diligently. Erin just stands there, and when Cody hands her the stick, she just stands there with the stick.

Until Cody lunges at her and she forgets everything and just hauls off and swings the stick at Cody like she was swinging that umbrella. The close call, however deliberate, certainly has her heard beating faster now. "I know I am," Erin says, finally relenting and taking up a more defensive position, which is much more conducive to Cody's lesson. "You know what it's like, though. You know how I feel."

"I know how you feel," Cody says calmly, deflecting every improper swing with one of the ends of her stick. "Focus," She repeats, taking the opportunity to touch Erin's waist with the stick. "Remember all of your poses and focus, hit me." The woman isn't afraid of physical pain, she's endured enough of it.

"Speed up your poses and use the stick like it's an extension of your arm. Don't use the middle of it, use the ends." Again and again, Erin's wild swings are deflected with a slight touch of her own. "Don't just feel angry, use it. Focus it and try to hit me."

Cody's stance changes then and she whirls around Erin, touching her in the small of her back with the end of the stick. "Tell me why he makes you feel so helpless."

Erin can't hit Cody, because she can't just drop everything and focus like the seasoned agent can. She sure does try, though, and with time, her wild swings become more and more subtle. They're still clumsy, though, despite the progress. And when Cody touches her with the stick, the anger flares again - the swings become less measured - before she calms. The process repeats.

"What do you think? I was chained to a chair. You saw it. You saw what they did to me." Erin was helpless. She was in pain, she was scared. "I can't live without my power. You know how much that sucks? Even if I could make it go away for ever, I'd have to live in a bubble. Or die. So there's that. Then he comes in and…" Another wild swing of the stick - there's a sharp crack as it strikes the floor. "I know how long it lasted. Sixteen. It's like I can't forget that number. But you know? It seemed a lot longer than that. I couldn't get away, I couldn't shut it out… I — hah. Hah."

Crack. Stick hits the wall. Maybe on purpose.

"The best part was near the end when I had a seizure, or that's what I think it was. 'cuz I blacked out. Wouldn't you feel helpless? I couldn't move or cover my eyes or ears and no one could hear me scream." Lucky for Cody, Erin thinks of something new to blame on her. "And no one stopped it. No one came for me. Where were you?"

"Where was your sister?" Cody retorts, laying the blame on someone much more able to save the woman than she was. But there's no blame to lay except on the man himself. It causes a dull ache in the agent's heart, something that shouldn't be there. "You want to know what I do in those situations?" She's been in a few of them, though likely none as horrible as the one experienced by her room mate. "I count."

"One.." Another stance is taken. "Two," she moves swiftly, swinging the stick in a fluid motion with her body. "Three," the stick taps Erin in the flank. "Four," the stick moves down, along with the agent until it's level behind her knees. "Five," with a sweeping motion with both the stick and her foot, Cody trips Erin backwards. "Six," she drops the stick and grips Erin's shirt by the chest, protecting her from falling on her back. "Seven," she gently lifts the other woman up to stand on her own two feet again.

"It takes a lot of focus, but you're going to overcome it. You'll get stronger and know that it's the worst possible thing you have ever faced in your entire life." Until the next time. But hopefully Erin will be able to go back to her own life soon enough and there will never have to be a next time. If Max is the master of torture, Cody is his exact opposite, the master of overcoming adversity.

Erin looks down at the mention of Janet. Janet had come for her earlier in the day to check on her, and it was in that moment that they actually forgave each other, despite the fact that neither of them said anything. It was at that moment that Janet would have figured out that the dream was coming true, and that Erin only had one way out of that place. Sort of. "Janny was being a genius," Erin finally responds.

Before she even realizes what's happening, Erin is both tripped and placed back on her feet. She lets her own stick fall to the floor by accident as both hands reach behind her to brace for the fall that never comes. It goes unsaid, but that was pretty impressive.

"I don't know how," Erin says, allowing desperation into her tone. "I wasn't some… Tough soldier like most of the people who go through that shit are. I was spoiled, I was… Sheltered." She crouches down to pick up the stick — and tries to tap Cody with it as she stands up again, just so see. Because she really doesn't like losing that much. "This helps. This… Is something to do, but you — It — It makes me feel sick, knowing that you — " After pausing to collect herself, Erin continues. "I know you didn't know at the time. That doesn't make it easier."

"Most of the people that go through this shit aren't soldiers. They're regular people caught in bad situations. You think the man I was with was a soldier? No… He's a CEO." Never mind that he's also an explorer and is used to roughing it. Erin doesn't need to know that part. The attempt at a tap is deflected, but the soldier gives the other woman a nod of approval. Apparently fighting dirty is allowed in all spars.

"Your sister was a genius, I'm glad she came up with that plan." Cody had given Erin the options of leaving as a weapon or in a body bag. From then to now, she'd managed to become both, just in a different fashion. "She's still like a squirrel on speed though, I don't know how you managed to grow up with that constant chattering… and always so … perky." The last word is said with a small measure of disdain, apparently Cody was never the cheer leader type. Go figure.

"But regarding him," his name isn't mentioned, they both know who they're talking about. "If it makes you feel any better, it's over now. I don't plan on seeing him again." She'll let Erin believe it's for her sake, though it's pretty much for all involved. She takes up a defensive stance and nods to Erin to start coming at her again.

She's still not sure how she's going to deal with all this. And she doesn't understand people at all - even less than she did before. How can one group of people decide that everyone with abilities are just animals to be used? It's just really crushed her already pessimistic view on the world into something far worse. Erin even questions sometimes about whether she can trust Cody.

Or Janet.

"If you think Janet's bad, you should meet Mikayla. Jan's only one out of a set of triplets." Erin smirks. "I dunno. Mom had me at auditions all the time. It's kinda part of the reason we didn't talk for a few years." Apparently, family ties were still strong, though. Janet really came through.

Erin takes a couple more halfhearted attempts to tap Cody. "I wish I could say it did," she replies honestly. "And maybe, after awhile, it will. I just feel like I'm one step farther away from closure, though." She doesn't know his name, plus she can't hurt him for Cody's sake. "What do I do? Just let it all go?"

"Killing him isn't going to give you closure." Cody says quickly, her breathing is becoming a little labored at all the exercise they're (or at least she's) doing, one of the half hearted taps nearly gets her. Maybe close enough to give Erin a bit of hope that the agent is beatable. "What'll give you closure is figuring all of this out. If you kill him, you'll never know what's going on. All that will happen is you'll have ten more questions to the one you have right now."

With that Cody taps her stick against Erin's stopping it from moving again while they both catch their breath. "I have to thank you, you know. Before you came along, everyone in that building was really just a means to an end for me. To stop Kappa Protocol. I was going to trace the prisoners to the final destination and catch Sayf Udeen. Life of the one vs the many and all that." It's how she was trained, her own life means nothing compared to everyone that could be saved if she was dead. She tempers the same attitude to everyone she deals with.

Her thoughts flit to Max, how many people would be saved if she just let Erin have him? Before last night, probably thousands, but if he does leave Alpha he might actually start doing some saving of his own. "As for what you do, meditate. You'll figure out what you have to do when you get a clear head."

Erin thinks it will. He hurt her, so she wants to hurt him. She has more of a reason to kill him than she did anyone else - Agent Hamm. Agent Baker. If Erin had killed Cody, where would she be right now? Sometimes she wonders if Hamm might have been one of the good guys, too…

Cody's admission does cause Erin to back up a step. It all makes her feel more and more like an object, even if Cody didn't mean it that way. Erin understands, though - it's just that right now, she's so emotionally drained… "I'm glad things… worked out," she says.

Reaching out, she hands her stick back to Cody. "I have a room to clean up," she says, relative to nothing else in the conversation, before she turns and leaves.

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