2010-05-05: Do Your Job



Date: May 5, 2010


Erin confesses something to Janet and the optimist loses some of her sheen.

"Do Your Job"

Janet's Apartment — NYC

It's been a long day of job searching for Janet. In fact, she hit the pavement for most of it, made phone calls and had networking meetings. Really, if she'd been smart, she would've started applying when she'd finished transporting prisoners out of custody. As the door to her apartment opens, she hears a bang on her wall. "Mrs. Rodriguez tell Jorge to stop stalking me!" she yells before shutting the door behind her and kicking off her black high heels. She inches into the kitchen thanks to her grey pencil skirt. "I brought pad thai~" she sings while setting a plastic bag on the table. "We both know that I'm only good for the —- " she glances around the living room and kitchen before padding down the hallway. No Parker. "Huh."

Shrugging her shoulders she steps back back to the kitchen and takes a plate out of the oven (that's where they're stored) before there's another bang on her wall. "Leave me alone, Mrs. Rodriguez!"

As Erin walks down the hall to Janet's apartment without any sort of disguise or caution, she hears the argument going on between her sister and her amorous neighbor's mother. Actually, what she hears initially is the banging on the wall, and then Janet's somewhat shrill (albeit cheerful!) voice yelling back.

Erin almost walks past the Rodriguez apartment…

Ten minutes later, she's knocking lightly at Janet's door. The banging on her walls has definitely stopped - for now. She can't wait to tell sis how she dealt with the stalking problem. Not that it'll last, but maybe she'll get a couple nights of peace and quiet. As she waits for the door to open, she places her trusty purple Sharpie back into her purse.

"Hey, Janny, it's Erin," she calls, just so she's not treated to another round of an irate doctor calling her Mrs. Rodriguez as she throws open the door.

"Oh!" Janet quips cheerfully while setting her plate down on the counter and stepping back to the door. It's opened revealing Janet's bright smile. "Come on in!" She frowns for just a second, "Sorry about that — " rolling her eyes she explains " — you know they are, always yelling, always trying to make me date Jorge which is just …. ick. I men, I live with a guy now, you'd think that would be a deterrent — " not that Janet is dating Parker, but the Rodriguez's don't know that, unless they question his sexuality as much as Cody and Erin did when Janet described him.

"Come in, come in. Parker's not here and I have pad thai, are you hungry? I have enough for two. He can mourn about not being home later." She's beaming now as she virtually hops back towards the kitchen."

Erin didn't come to share a meal, but why not? "Yeah— I wouldn't worry about the neighbors for awhile. I just signed Jorge's chest in purple Sharpie and gave him my fanmail address. Might divert his attention a little. We'll see." Then again, they could bother Janet about getting her famous sister to come back. Alas. It's such a Catch-22!

"You're happy today," she notes as she follows Jan into the kitchen. Erin doesn't need another invitation to eat! In any case, it's good that Janet's in a good mood, because Erin's about to take it down a few (dozen) pegs. "To be honest, though, if you don't end up hating me by the time— By the time I leave, I… Well, I'll be pretty surprised." The last bit is muttered, as she looks down at her purse. "I mean, you know I still have… issues… from when I was a prisoner, right?"

The happy squeal escapes her lips is accompanied by bright, rosy cheeks, she's virtually glowing. "I am happy!" Janet replies brightly while extracting another plate from the oven. She places it in front of Erin before taking out cutlery for the two of them and extracting the pad thai from the bag. "And why wouldn't I be? The sun is shining, the birds are singing, spring has sprung! And life is good! I mean I don't have to keep secrets that you're alive anymore — I don't work at that miserable place anymore — " And all of her nerves about work are gone because her loan has been rather mysteriously paid off, and only one person knows her well enough to have accurately guessed all of her passwords.

"Everyone has issues," she says lightly although it's not intended to belittle Erin's time as a prisoner. "I've been thinking about it, actually, and I think maybe you should consider talking to someone or something, not that I really believe in psychology, but it might do you some good. There was a fellow I met — " he worked for the AP, never mind. " — but there's lots of people around, I swear." She begins to pile some pad thai onto her plate before taking a seat at a small kitchen table designed for two.

Erin offers a rather incredulous and serene smile as Janet goes on, and can't help saying, "I can't believe I missed out on this for years." A rare moment of unabashed honesty from the starlet.

Erin wonders if it's easier for Janet, knowing that her sister isn't unfallable, that there's no pedestal in the real world - off camera and away from the set - that she's set up upon. Maybe having a relationship is easier now because of the AP, though how can they honestly thank them for this? "Yeah, I'll… think about therapy," she says. It'll never happen. The stuff she needs to get off her chest mainly involves the fact that she has the power to make people sick. It's just not something she wants to tell.

"Did you know Maxwell Swan?" she asks. "He was the guy who…" Not finishing the thought, she turns her attention to the thai and her oven-plate for awhile. Erin's said the name several times before. He was the one who managed to break her.

"I'm not always like this, but then you, of all people, know that," she says before putting an awesome bite of pad thai onto her fork. Mmm. Thai food. "I think I've just found my joy. And for once it wasn't at the bottom of a bucket of Superman ice cream although we both know that works too."

The food however, gets ignored as she puts her fork down — still with food on it — and Janet's blue eyes blink with mild confusion at the mention of Maxwell Swan. "I didn't know him know him. But I've heard mention of him, yes," her tone has flattened some as she watches Erin skeptically. "There were a lot of people working in those building you know. I mean it was filled with people every single day of the week and involved a lot of people to even make the operation run and I honestly didn't know them all — " her face pales a little as some of the rosiness drains from her cheeks. "I. I'm sorry," now she whispers the words and pushes her plate a few inches away, remembering the things they did and the condition Erin was in makes her lose some of her appetite.

"Yeah, I know." There's a small smile at that. There was a time very recently that Janet actually told Erin to stay out of her life, which stung. Everyone's capable of causing hurt, even the nice ones. And then, there are people like Erin, who seem to be able to cause hurt very easily.
No reason to draw this out.

"He broke into my apartment. Janny, I hurt him, bad. I'm keeping him there with his ability suppressed. Something about him is different, though. I can't— I want to…" She sighs. "I'll just say it. I wanted to kill him. I was going to. But apparently - he says - seeing what he did to me is… making him rethink things." She pokes at her food a little, pushing it around on the plate before taking a bite.

"I stabbed him a couple times. Made him so sick, I don't know if he'll ever get better. He's… I think he's dying, though. He's so full of infection. I know it's a lot to ask, but can you take a look at him?"

All colour drains from Janet's face. Things had seemed to be resolving themselves; things seemed to be getting back to normal again, and her life appeared to be free of the scary human weapons the Protocols had been collecting. She'd even run into Parkman in Central Park and things weren't bad. Her gaze turns to her food as she's considering something. Chewing on hr bottom lip, her face has turned contemplative. When she finally does speak, her voice is a whisper, "What did you give him?"

"Erin. Really? I thought.. I thought life was normal again? I mean, for you too, not just me. And… not like normal-normal but.. different-normal." She frowns as she continues to stare at her food. "He's staying at your apartment?! What if someone finds him! You just got resurrected from being kidnapped, can you imagine the kind of comeback you'd have to make after PRISON?!" her eyes are widened now.

"SARS, Polio, something I made up on the spot, Rabies. I don't know. I was mad at the time. And I was panicking.

Erin wanted things to be normal, but for her, they never will be. She's pretty sure of that much, at least. "I've had him there for awhile. I don't even know why I left him alive at first." She pauses, then adds, "No, I do. Just— don't worry about that now." Maybe she'll tell Janet one day that she was keeping Max alive at first because she wanted him to suffer. "No one'll find him. He's not tied up. He's not yelling for help. Hell, he could leave if he wanted to." Erin gets the impression that he won't, though.

After playing with her food for another few seconds, she goes on. "I don't think anything's ever going to be completely normal again. It's kinda like someone took the blinders off, you know? I mean— I mean, when you really look at it, technically I was even being held captive by my own sister." Quickly, she reaches across the table for Janet's hand. "I'm not saying I blame you. I'm just saying, something like that leaves a mark. You look up and see your sister's face when you're chained to a chair, and you never forget the look you get."

Janet is blinking fiercely as she tries to process this information. She plucks her plate from the table and pads back to the takeout container before shovelling the food back into it and putting it in the fridge. She leans against the fridge while staring at the oven. The oven is a neutral object; something easy to look at and consider compared to the words her sister has just managed. Her toes curl against the tile floor as she processes and leans her back against the fridge while gripping it tightly, turning her fingers white. It's almost an anchor so she doesn't float away or something.

"If he dies…" she's staring at the ground. Her mouth has turned dry. Her eyes burn and have lost that hopeful good-humour at least for the moment.

"And they'll be normal again. Just different-normal. You'll find a new routine and, no, it won't be like it was, just what normal is will have changed," Ironically her words are soulless. A stark contrast to when Erin had been invited in. Janet had honestly thought she'd been done with the scary evolveds (other than Erin). She slowly lowers herself to a sitting position on the floor. How did she get involved in all of this in the first place, anyways?

One thing Erin had been afraid of - and that she warned Max about - is that Janet herself might forego treatment and kill the man herself. Under normal circumstances, Erin couldn't see her sister doing such things, but this is the guy that broke a woman who should have been unbreakable. The effect he left on her is more than just emotional; dark circles under her eyes are constantly covered up with a dusting of makeup, for example.

Interpreting what Janet's not saying, Erin fills in the blanks. "You're not an assassin. Leave that to me." Did Erin ever tell Janet that she's killed two people? "You can help this guy, though. Go over there, bandage him up, give him a shot of antibiotics… Do your job." She can see the distance that's figuratively cropped up between them. Hopefully those last words are at least somewhat grounding.

Erin sits next to Janet on the floor, leaning against her shoulder. "I'm sorry," she says quietly. "I can't go to anyone else. Please."

Her job. The doctor tugs on her legs before hugging them close to her chest and leaning into Erin's lean. It's almost a hug. "I'll see him," she says reluctantly, still staring at the ground in front of her. The ground is grounding. Helping two people who shot up the Food Court was easy. They shot at strangers and herself. Helping a man who tortured and ultimately broke her sister? Much harder.

"And I'll do my job." No Dr. Kevorkian today. She inhales a slow deep breath and holds it for a moment trying to calm her nerves. "When do I need to go…? Like now? On the positive side, if you need me to I have the time to drop by every day and check on him until you decide… I mean… until he's better?" Beat. "If I do this and the treatment works is he going to get better, Erin? I mean, are you going to let him?" She shakes her head. "I wouldn't blame you if you didn't, but I'd rather not waste my time and get invested if…" she frowns.

"It'll be okay," Erin says. Maybe they'll all eventually get back to something resembling normalcy, but that time will potentially be long in coming. While they're waiting, they'll just have to be patient and deal with all the crap that's being thrown at them.

"Soon, if you can. He's not in great shape, but there's no hurry." Let him feel it a little longer. Erin feels no pity or concern for him, despite her unnatural desire to want to keep him alive.

Unfortunately, Erin can't answer Janet's question with an affirmative. "I don't know. He has to be better so I can actually tell if he's lying to me, or if he genuinely wants to change. Get him to that point for me? Just… get him stable. Don't put any work in that you don't have to."

"Stable. Right." She makes a mental note not to get too invested in all of this. Janet leans further against Erin. "Everything will be fine," she tries to soothe, but her tone is still flat until she extends her legs, stands up and opens the freezer taking out a box of Superman ice cream sandwiches 'homemade' Janet-style. Sitting back on the floor she unwraps one and can't help but smile. An indeterminate flush takes over her cheeks as a small secretive smile edges her lips before she takes a small bite.

Reaching into the box, she hands a sandwich to Erin. "Do me a favour?" she asks quietly, with that secretive smile edging her lips. "Don't become the monster, okay? It's not worth it. And you're better than that." The smile fades, "In war people do things that they think they can't come back from. You were at war. Whatever you've done before…" and no, Janet doesn't want to know "… the rules are different again."

Without really thinking, Erin grabs the offered ice cream sandwich. They can all use some comfort food about now. And Erin is certainly not beyond stuffing her face.

"I don't want to kill him," Erin says. The way she says it is almost unemotional. "I can't say I'm glad he's alive, but I don't want to be the one… responsible."

The whole thing certainly was a war, complete with actual battle scars. Erin rubs at the ragged one on her arm with the back of her hand, before taking a bite of her ice cream sandwich.

"I'm trying, Janny. But when they call you a terrorist and a monster and a freak over and over, you kind of start to believe it."

Janet lefts an arm to wrap around Erin while taking another bite of her ice cream sandwich. "It's hard," she concedes. "But you're still better than that. I know you, even if we didn't talk for awhile, I know you." She purses her lips together as her nostrils flare a little and she takes another deep breath. If she's honest, Janet knows she's terrified of evolveds to this day. And likely will be for years to come especially as she's as swirly as she is.

Always the optimist, she thinks about all of the good things in life — being debt free, no longer working at the AP, dating a great guy — and finds another small smile, "You just need to focus on the awesome things in your life. You are amazing and successful and good looking and you have a fabulous apartment even if an evil corrupted scruffy-looking" she's never seen Max "nerf-herder is occupying it! Because you are fabulous and have a lot to offer this world and soon enough you'll be all over Afterlife and everyone will want to be Erin McCarty all over again." Not that this is something Janet wants, but when trying to cheer someone up, you focus on them.

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