2008-03-02: Cold Morning Warm Coffee


Erin_icon.gif Jamie_icon.gif McAlister_icon.gif

Summary: A morning's chatter leads to personal revelations, a dozen questions, and worry, if nothing else.

March 3, 2008

Cold Morning, Warm Coffee

Erin's Apartment, early morning:

The sliding glass door that separates the balcony from the rest of the apartment is drawn closed, but the vertical blinds are open. It's early (or late, depending on how you look at it) - the sun's just come up, and the wan light of morning is making a point of streaming in through the wide window over the smell of coffee.

Ali's in PJ's, curled up on the lounger out there - wearing headphones, singing along with whatever music she's piping in.. hard to hear, through the door. Those horrid glasses of hers are off, laying on the concrete of the balcony near at hand; her eyes are closed.

Erin's due for an afternoon consultation on the Afterlife set. Apparently, ratings are high, the budget has gone up, and they're bringing in the big guns for next season. Namely, a CGI team, and more specifically, for the creation of horrible aliens. HOORAY FOR THE GREEN SCREEN!

Anyway, with that several hours off, Erin is still at home, and not at the set at five in the morning like she so often is. Coming down the hallway and into the front room in view of the balcony, she sees her roommate, and at first thinks Ali must have frozen to death. Seeing the DJ moving is a relief, but only just.

Hurrying to the door, Erin shoves it open. "Hey. Hey. You're gonna get sick out here, you idiot. Get inside." Idiot is a term of endearment, really. There's a beat, then, "I can't cure hypothermia."

The DJ isn't blue - but she /is/ shivering. Idiot may be right in this case.

In that brief instant before the Hey penetrates her consciousness, it might be noted, however, that Erin's roommate can /sing/. Who knew? It's actually latin, classical - rich and soaring, with startling depth for somebody who remains so terminally bohemian it's a wonder she's heard of something like 'culture.' There's something cloying, compelling about it for.. oh, the couple of seconds it lasts.

Then, there's a remarkably intelligent, "Huh? Erin? What are you doin' out here? It's freezing!" And Ali's fumbling for those glasses.

"What are you doing out here?" Erin counters, before all five-foot-two of her reaches for the other girl's arm in an attempt to drag her the hell into the apartment. Jesus. She knew Ali was weird, but this? Killing herself in the cold? Not cool. Actually, it is cool, but not in a good way.

"You wanna sing? You can sing inside the house. I mean, if your voice was grating or horrible, I'd say, yeah, sing outside, but c'mon." It's a compliment. About the best Erin can do without actually trying. Translation - you have a good voice. "I'll— I was gonna make myself some hot chocolate." No, she wasn't. "I'll make you some, too."

Ali gets .. well. Yanked. She's not exactly a big woman, and she's not really putting up even token resistance. She /does/, however, push the door shut once she's let go.

After she gets her glasses on to find the door, mind you.

"Hey. You were /sleeping/. Like I'm gonna wake you up - " Still shivering, she blinks - "Huh." And she heads for the throw on the back of the couch. "I got coffee on, if you want it? But I wouldn't turn it down, no." Apparently the two are sharing a wavelength, at least in part, because she also offers, defensively, "I am /not weird/."

Everyone is going crazy. See, Erin doesn't like things outside the norm. Any deviation, and she, in turn, also goes crazy. It's a vicious cycle. Erin going crazy is bad, because people get sick.

Likely, she's seen the glasses before, but they still deserve a second look as she reaches for Ali's shoulders, giving them a squeeze. Meeting her roommate's eyes, Erin wishes that she could tell people what to do sometimes. Dangerous ability for her, yes, but it'd keep people from freezing. "Yes, you are. What were you doing out on the balcony?"

Ali's turn to look mildly guilty. "Nothin'. Just been a rough week, you know?" She subject changes abruptly (or, perhaps not) - "We found Jamie's dad, did she tell ya? I mean, he's in jail for killin' her, but we found him." She points out. "He didn't do it." Helpful, yes?

"And I so am not. Much. Mostly. I would have come in in a minute." Yup, still defensive, but the DJ offers a rueful smile. "So - I met him. That Peter guy."

"…Yeah, I know." She can empathise, at least. Erin's had a lot of rough weeks lately. Releasing Ali's shoulders, she steps back. Hey, she was just worried, even though she'll likely brush it off as nothing. "Thing is, if you die out there on the balcony, it's gonna be a huge media circus, and I don't want to deal with it. So — Balcony is for summer." Remember. Erin smiles, though, heading for the kitchen. Coffee sounds okay, too.

She's kind of relieved to hear that they found The Kid's father. Not so much that he's in jail - Erin's been avoiding talking to Jamie, because she doesn't want to get attached or something. Like with the kittens! As she picks up the coffee pot to pour herself and Ali a cup of coffee, she nearly drops it when Peter is mentioned. "Tell me you told him to take a flying leap. Preferably into the Hudson."

"I went to hit him. Then weird stuff happened." Ali picks up that throw, winding it around her shoulders; as small as the woman is, it makes for a good overrobe, at least for now. "No, he didn't do anything to me or anything - but he sort of messed himself up pretty good from what I could tell." She moves back to the kitchen - "Next time I see him I'll know to swing sooner."

"Weird stuff," Erin repeats, giving Ali a Look that clearly states 'Hey, you're also weird.' They all have that in common, though. For example, Erin can kill people with her brain - hypothetically. She hasn't yet, but if what Peter did to her is any indication…

That look dissolves into a scowl after a moment, then, as Erin pours the coffee. She's more than capable of hate, and she knows it, but something about Peter seemed uncomfortably off on the day he attacked her. Like he said, Erin also wants to understand. And maybe also give him a horrible case of SARS, but that's beside the point.

"I know it sounds cliche, but I'd like a swing at him first," she says, with half a smile.

"Hey, you take 'em where you can get 'em." Ali leans on the counter, yawning. "No work today?" Off comes that pair of glasses again, the DJ rubbing at the bridge of her nose for a moment - it is past her bedtime, though not horribly so. She flashes a wry grin - "Not that you don't deserve a break, you know? Hey - you free, maybe, for something like dinner in a day or two?"

"Working this afternoon. Consulting with a CGI Company for the set on Afterlife. We're moving up in the world." She smiles at that, shrugging. "We're going to have an alien invasion pretty soon. It's pretty hokey, but viewer feedback says they want aliens. And you know ratings."

Anyway, dinner. "Yeah, I should be free, why?" She hops up on her own counter, pushing the mug of coffee across to Ali, while carefully sipping at her own. It's still hot! AAH. "So, you say weird stuff. What happened?"

"Working this afternoon. Consulting with a CGI Company for the set on Afterlife. We're moving up in the world." She smiles at that, shrugging. "We're going to have an alien invasion pretty soon. It's pretty hokey, but viewer feedback says they want aliens. And you know ratings."

Anyway, dinner. "Yeah, I should be free, why?" She hops up on her own counter, pushing the mug of coffee across to Ali, while carefully sipping at her own. It's still hot! AAH. "So, you say weird stuff. What happened?"

Why not, indeed. Well, it sounds like fun, and Erin's been so busy at work that she literally has no time for fun lately. Perhaps one day, when she's eighty years old and retired from acting, she'll go skydiving and horseback riding and all that stuff that normal people do.

Normal people skydive. What.

Erin meets a lot of people daily. 'Elle' doesn't particularly ring a bell right away, so she shakes her head. "Dissolved," she repeats dryly. Dissolved! People can dissolve. Well, that makes a whole lot of sense.

"Well, don't question miracles," Erin says, offering a concerned glance over the top of her coffee mug. "You weren't followed back, were you? D'they know you're here?" This is the kind of thing that makes Erin panic. After all, she doesn't want to be locked up because of what she can do.

About to answer the question on aliens with a flippant wave of her hand, she pauses, thinks, allows the recent information to process, and then asks, "The kid dissolves??" Holy shit.

Jamie comes wandering out of Ali's bedroom, where she's been sleeping since she got here, rubbing her eyes a little sleepily. She's wearing just a slightly-too-big t-shirt and underpants, which has been her pajamas since they forgot to buy any on their shopping trip that day. She might have heard the two talking, but she doesn't seem to register what about yet, saying sleepily, "Morning."

"What, you thought she was kidding when she said 'I turn into water'?" Ali blinks, tilts her head - squinting to focus on Erin. "And no - I kept an eye out. THey were all so worried about.. you know.. Pete turning into sort of a puddle that, well, they kinda didn't pay us much attention. Thank god for that, huh?" THe DJ's in pajamas herself, at the moment - wrapped in the throw from the couch, nursing coffee.

"But - yeah. Anyway - I'm still a little rattled, I think. Call me insecure." She looks up - and over. "Oh. Heya kiddo. Mornin'."

Erin's reaction?

"AAAH. NO, No one told me that!" She's shocked, kind of weirded out - water, really? It's almost horrific! How does she pull herself back together! "She— she— She's awake."

Erin turns around to stare. At this point, her eyes have that slightly unnatural metallic blue shine that they get when she's surprised or scared or angry, and that would be Jamie's cue that Erin, too, has some sort of special ability. If Ali hasn't already told her.

She opens her mouth. Closes it again. "I need to get a sign for the door. Caution: Freak Show. Enter at your own risk."

Jamie blinks, looking between the two. Then the words she's heard registers and she blinks, "Oh! Yeah, you said not to tell her." This is said to Ali. "Or, well, something like that." She looks up to Erin at the mention of a freak show, and grins, "You think people'd wanna see me change?" The idea of being a 'freak' doesn't seem to bother her. As long as people came to see.

Ali gives Jamie a look… sort of. It's in the girl's general direction, anyway, and would likely be more severe if the DJ could aim it at more than a vague blur at the edge of the couch. "No." And that's that - even if she does explain. "Remember what I was tellin' you about the people who do stuff to people like us? It's probably not a good idea."

She pauses, squints again at Erin. "I think I want one now." Ali uses a hand to paint an imaginary marquee in the air, there. "Come and see the soap star with the electric eyes! The DJ with the honeyed voice.. who can't get a date! The cute little girl with the POWER OF HORROR!" She hmms. "It's got a ring to it." But she's teasing, anyway. Or trying to.

"No. No," Erin agrees. It was just an expression of frustration, and now they're both actually considering it. No - Ali knows better, but The Kid doesn't, supposedly.

For the first time since Erin actually met Jamie, she's giving the young girl her full attention. "Really, how does that even work?" Possibly a bad question to ask someone who likes to show off. Truth be told, Erin is showing some genuine concern here. After all, water isn't exactly one of those materials that just stays together on its own. If you kick it, it's gonna go everywhere. "How do you keep yourself together?"

Jamie bites her lip as she considers, and says, "Well, it kinda just does. I think about it and it happens. Or, when I get scared, it happens, but that doesn't happen much. I don't get scared much." Then to the next question she shrugs and grins, "I don't, always. I end up splashed all over sometimes. But then I just pull myself together again. Always leave a little behind." Then she adds, "I'll show you." And in a blink, she's water. For a split second the water is in the humanoid form, and then it falls, splashing out. Her shirt and underpants end up on the floor in the puddle that she ends up reforming into after the initial splash.

And Ali - who is mostly blind right about now - hears the splash, shudders just slightly, pulls that throw around herself just a bit tighter, and sips at her coffee.

The picture of calm. Really.

Why would she be weirded out? Really, she's seen everything. Invisible people, for example! Plus, Ali can tell her to jump off a balcony. "You don't— " Have to show is on Erin's lips, but she doesn't finish, because it's already too late, and The Kid is a puddle of water on her floor.

Her first reaction would be to cry about the damage this is doing to her flooring. But, being a person who doesn't completely lack compassion, Erin kneels down next to the puddle, starts to reach out, and then pulls her hand back. "Oh god— Are you okay?!" She's talking to water. Clearly, she's snapped. "It's— It's like Alex Mack. Only weirder."

The water swirls around Erin's feet for a moment, and then flows back, rippling a little. Possibly in laughter. Then it starts to rise up, taking humanoid form again. Water pressure lifts the shirt and underpants up as well, so when she changes back a moment later, she's still dressed, as much as she was before anyway. She grins and says, "Yep! I'm fine!" Then she asks, "Who's Alex Mack?"

Ali turns to peer at both of them - and then, with a sigh, she resumes her glasses, perching them on her nose in time to see Jamie reform.. which comes with a somewhat incredulous stare.

"That's.. really somethin', kiddo." There's a momentary flutter, a quaver in her voice that she quickly hides behind a smile. "So. Yeah. He did /that/, basically. But with more nudity."

There's a slight smile on Erin's face as Jamie re-forms. "Ah— old TV show," Erin says. Back in the 90's, she used to still watch programs like that. Mostly to make fun of them, because at that time, she thought she was the best actor ever. Anyway. Jamie is a cute kid, Erin thinks to herself as she meets her eyes. And it is something. Then, the actress realises something.

Oh, dear god, she's named it. That means she has to keep it.

That's okay.

"I can do something, too," Erin says.

Jamie nods quickly to Ali and says, "I couldn't put my clothes back on while changing either, until Joe had me practice it for weeks and weeks. Still can't do socks or shoes either." She looks back up to Erin and blinks, smiling, and asks very curiously, "You can? What can you do?"

"Erin - " That's oddly - gently - warning. "Not on her, 'kay? Me, sure. Her, not so much." Ali sips again at her coffee, actually managing to look uncertain. Worried, in fact.

Erin wasn't actually intending on showing, so she gives Ali a Look when the other woman even suggests that she'd purposely make a child sick. Or even Ali. Once is enough, thanks - the shock value is gone. "I can make people sick," the actress says with a lop-sided smile. "Good news is, I can also make them better. So next time you have a cold, I'll show you how it works, okay?"

Something sticks in her mind, though, as she gets back to her feet. It kind of bothers her that Ali would be so worried - who would harm a child? It's one thing to do it to your roommate, who might understand, but…

There's something else to worry about. "Peter told me he absorbs other peoples' abilities. Ali, he might have yours." That makes him more dangerous.

Jamie blinks, and then says, "Wow! That's amazing. Do you ever go to the hospital to help people and stuff?" Then she adds, "Bet it won't be long. I catch colds a lot."

"Yeah. Erin's pretty darned spiffy." Ali grins, then, relaxing slightly, and - oddly enough, she watches her roomate. But.. as she mentions that about Peter, the smile fades. "… that explains a lot. And.. I guess I'm not gettin' any sleep. I .. " She reaches up to rub at her forehead. "Oh, /damnit/." Apparently this is not good news. ".. that'd explain what happened at the cafe'. And if he can do what I can do.. that's. Not good. At all. And it's my fault."

"I did, yeah. I should go again. It kinda tires me out, though." She also cured a deadly virus, but that's something she's abnormally humble about. Mostly for her own self-interest, since she doesn't want word getting around. She's also not gonna tell The Kid that she's destroying sugar maples, because what kid doesn't like maple syrup?

"What. What happened at the cafe?" Erin looks out onto the balcony, then back at Ali. "What happened?"

Jamie blinks, looking up to Ali as well, and says, "What do ya mean? He didn't tell anybody enything at the cafe, did he? He just turned into water. Thought he was like me." And she makes a face.

"No, kiddo - but." Ali sighs, tiredly - "What I can do is dangerous, is all. And if he /got/ it.. then that means there's somebody out there who's really not been all that nice who might use it for some.. really. Bad stuff. Depending." Oddly, she holds her arms out to Jamie - it's an offer of a hug.

But.. she looks up to Erin. "All I know is that I don't trust him. Nothing I've really heard about him makes me /want/ to trust him - and his brother's a /Senator/."

"Well, he's like a lot of people," Erin explains. She takes her mug of coffee over to a stool and sits on that, rather than hopping up on the counter again. "Everyone's got something they can do. He can just… do what everyone else can do." And it's unnerving. Wrapping her hands around her mug, Erin looks into the coffee. "Definitely not something he needs to be able to do.

"Thing is, he seemed okay when I cured him. I don't know what would have caused such a change - and Cass trusts him, and I trust Cass." As for Nathan… "Nathan's pretty okay. He's a fan of the show." That gets him Plus Points in Erin's book.

Jamie steps to hug Ali at the offer, holding it a moment. Then she looks up to her and stepping back a bit so she can see Erin too. "What'd he do that was so bad? He seemed nice. His girlfriend was mean, but he seemed ok. Just kinda scared, from turning into water I guess."
Ali hugs back, and smiles as Jamie steps away - "I like Elle. She's a little rough, you know? But she's really sweet."

This may be the only time those words have been uttered without sarcasm.

"But He.. he's hurt people I care about a lot - I mean. I think his heart's in the right place. Everybody /likes/ him. But doing the right thing's a lot more than how things end up when you're done. The stuff you do along the way counts, you know?" Ali looks up to Erin - "I can't just forgive him - and I /know/ Cass likes him. And yeah, that means a lot too.. but .. I dunno. I guess maybe I just take a lot more convincing." She pauses, then explains a bit - "I know what it's like to screw up even when you mean the best. Maybe it just sorta makes me.. oversensitive."

Erin isn't going to forgive him so easily. That doesn't mean that she can't be confused. It doesn't make sense, unless he's been hiding this side of himself from Cass, too. Erin does give Ali a reassuring smile… The way she'd found out that abilities existed… Could have gone a lot better. Erin almost died.

Then a day later, she discovered she was a freak, too.

"He took what I could do and made me really sick, Kid," Erin says. She's not quite as gentle as Ali is when explaining these things. "Said he needed to understand. Almost killed me." Despite ignoring Jamie for the past week or so, suddenly, the child is growing on her. "You should try to stay away from him. Okay?"

Jamie blinks, and says softly, "Oh." She considers a moment and nods a little, "Ok. I won't talk to him." She adds, "Just… wish I knew *someone* who could do what I can, not just copied and all."

"I dunno. Maybe you'll get lucky and meet somebody who can, kiddo? Maybe not - I've never.. known anybody who does what I do, or what Erin does, but the world's a pretty big place." Ali takes a deeper drought of that coffee. She smiles, warmly, to Erin - thoughtful. "Then you get to make friends, and they help you put stuff in perspective. That's when it gets interesting."

Erin's expression is unreadable for awhile. It's not really all that fun to drag a kid into stuff like this - the knowledge that the world is a dangerous place isn't comforting. Everyone learns it sometime. "Just be careful," is her somewhat snappish word of advice on the matter. Still, it's always good to have someone to help you, and to be around to help other people. The actress will, however, be leaving the mushy, friendy stuff to Ali.

After downing the rest of her coffee, Erin stands, ruffling Jamie's hair on her way back down the hall. "M'gonna take a shower, I think. Got places to be this afternoon."

Jamie nods a little to Ali with a smile again, "Hope so." She leans back against Ali a little again as she looks up to Erin again, nodding quickly, "I will." Then she gives a bit of a wave as Erin heads for the bathroom.

Ali wraps her arms around the girl, and smiles. "we're too serious, huh?" The yawn comes unbidden, but she does her best to stifle it. "Mmph. We need to get you ready for school, huh? Maybe later we'll get to meet with my friend - I'm hoping. You'd like her."

Jamie nods quickly to Ali and smiles again. "Yeah." She starts to step towards the bedroom, and then looks back up to Ali, "How long do I gotta keep going to school for?"

McAlister grins, then, a bit ruefully. "A while - but it's kinda like eating vegetables." She stays by the counter. "I promise, it'll be worth it. I didn't like going either, but it turned out to be a good thing."
Jamie makes a face and says, "I dunno." She then turns and hurries into the bedroom, pulling off her shirt as she disappears inside. She's in there about ten minutes before she comes out fully dressed.

By the time Jamie comes back.. Ali has moved, at least as far as the couch. Jeans and a sweater are piled next to her, shoes by the edge of the furniture - but the woman is curled up at the arm, not really moving.

In fact, the DJ's got her head pillowed on her arm. Her eyes are closed - … just a minute's pause, apparently.

Jamie blinks, stepping over to Ali. She bites her lip, considering. Should she go on her own? She looks up to the door and then back to the DJ. Then she runs to get a blanket from the bedroom, coming back and putting it over Ali.

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