2010-02-28: Dreaming of Max



Date: February 28, 2010


Two room mates share a common dream man.

"Dreaming of Max"


It's quiet for most of the night. In fact, there's nothing out of the ordinary in the converted warehouse. The apartment is still the way Erin left it when she fell asleep.

But her eyes open, staring at the red numbers on the clock. She can't seem to focus enough to read them, but somehow, she knows it's very late. All around her are people wearing black, their faces hidden by masks. She tries to run, but by the time she's gotten her feet on the floor, Erin realises that they already have her, that somehow, they've gotten her to the cell she was in before, chained to the floor, wrists and ankles in shackles. The cell is bare.

And there he is. No name, but she can see him as clearly as she saw him before. "One hundred thousand hours!" he yells, as he turns and fades from her view.

The sound is so much louder than it was before, and the lights, painful to her eyes. Erin tries to make it, but the idea that this will last for the rest of her life is too much to bear.

In the quiet of the apartment, the sleeping actor thrashes in her bed, pulling against chains that aren't there. "Nh— Hnnhh— " The noises are quiet at first, but they intensify. "I'LL TALK! I'LL TELL YOU EVERYTHING! MAKE IT STOP! MAKE IT STAAAAAH…"

Really, she tried not to yell, but that's what it devolves into. Screaming, loud and piercing, as she tries to escape the nightmare.

One thousand hours, that about how long Cody wants. She's hugging her pillow as the red numbers on her clock change by one. Her eyes are closed and there's a smile on her face as she sighs… and her hair grows out another foot.

Almost as though he walked from Erin's head straight into Cody's there he is, in his gray suit. The stern gaze that turns to a smile around his scarred lips, he's so dreamy. Those strong muscles envelope her, the beard tickles past her cheek and down to her neck. Then things devolve into the same borderline illegal activities that makes the hair outside of her dream curl. "Oooohhhhh Maaaaaax."

Then there's a piercing scream.

Jolted out of her sleep, Cody finds herself tangled in a pile of hair that would make Rapunzel jealous. No need for a blanket, she's got herself covered, quite literally. The screaming is real, quite real.

Taking a moment to concentrate, Cody's hair braids itself into a long ponytail at the back of her head, then she runs to the room a few doors away, trailing the long tail behind her.

Gripping her room mate by the shoulders, the agent risks fatal disease to shake her out of whatever nightmare she's experiencing. "Erin! Erin! Wake up, it's just a dream."

There's no disease, because in the dream, Erin is absolutely, completely powerless. Her eyes open, focusing on Cody, reflecting only the red numbers from the bedside clock; unfortunately for Cody, Erin's still stuck in the dream. Her hands grip Cody's arms with surprising strength, nails digging in if she's not stopped. "Get me out of here. I'll do anything."

The noise doesn't stop, it doesn't shut off. The lights still strobe, despite the fact that the room is dark. "Make him shut it off! Please, I can't— I can't— Shut it off! I can't do this anymore!" Giving Cody another shake, she seems to realize that her arms aren't shackled anymore. Wasting no time, she rolls out of the bed… The idea is to run away. She can see the open door! It's just a few feet away, if she can just—

And suddenly, she's on the floor, one foot tangled up in Cody's braid. She'd forgotten about the chains on her ankles! What the hell are they doing, dangling freedom in front of her so she goes completely crazy?! Kicking her foot, she gives the 'chain' a tug. "I can't tell you anything else! I told you everything!"

When Erin jump away, Cody's eyes dart toward the rail that would protect the startlet from tumbling to the floor below, and likely some very serious injury. Closing her eyes, she concentrates and winds the very long braid around the thrashing Erin. Once it's wound its way around the other woman in a protective coil (protective because it might be the only thing stopping her from jumping to her doom) it falls from the agent's head, leaving her bald again.

"Erin, wake up, you're not there anymore. You're at the apartment… the one with.. uh… Turkish coffee.. and uh… the stuffed porcupine!!" She's reaching for things that MIGHT make the starlet feel good about being here. "The one where they can't get you, because I'm going to protect you." Cody jumps off the bed and reaches for Erin again, pulling a little at the restraining hair, just enough to get Erin's hands loose. "Hey hey… wake up, come on. I've got some power bars you can uhh… throw out the window." There's no way she's letting the other woman flush them down the toilet again. "We can order a pizza? You like pizza, right?"

Now she can't move at all! That's a good thing, though, because it gives her a few seconds to make sense of what's going on. Her eyes squint, looking around in the darkness. This place isn't home, but it's familiar and safe. She's not in the cell anymore.

She breathes a little easier. The nightmares should be getting less intense by now, but instead, they just seem to be getting worse. For a long time, she just lays there, breathing, thanking whatever God there is that it really was just a dream.

How'd she get on the floor? She looks down. "Oh. Oh, ew, Cody, come on. What the hell!" With her hands free, she can push at the hair, trying to get it off. "What is this, some kind of — crazy introduction to fighting with hair? Get it off. get it off." Mostly, she's just irritated. She starts to say something else, then her eyes glance upward, toward the ceiling, darting around as if there's something here. "…I can still hear it. Do you hear that?"

Screaming. Wailing. Distant, but still painfully reminiscent of what she endured.

Pausing for a moment from the job of uncoiling the hair from the starlet, Cody perks her head up to listen. The only thing she can hear is the distant wailing of a police siren, something not really unheard of in the city. "It's just a police siren or an ambulance or something." She says very calmly, continuing the arduous task of unraveling Erin from the prison of hair.

On one hand, Cody is very relieved that Erin is safe, not dying, and that she didn't decide to give away a random case of herpes or Yellow Fever. On the other hand, Cody was having a really fabulous dream, one which caused a ravenous hunger in the middle of the night.

After Erin's been freed from the braid, Cody gives a little wrinkle of the nose, an expression between displeased and not completely happy. "Post traumatic stress disorder. You're going to have to get over this. Come on, I'm hungry and I'm ordering a pizza. We can uhh… put the hair in the garbage." She's not going to dignify Erin's complaints with a feeble justification of her actions.

Freed from the hair, Erin gets to her feet. Pizza sounds good right about now. "Get over it? While I'm asleep? Come on. It should be getting better by now anyway, shouldn't it?" Instead, it's just getting worse. She hugs her arms around herself to stop the shaking, which works, after a couple moments. Deep breaths, out with the bad, in with the good. Dreams are just dreams. While she's awake, all she has to do is ignore the memories, and they go away.

"I'm just gonna… put the TV on." Erin makes her way through the house with the lights off, down the stairs, where she flips the TV on, with the volume on low. Without it, it's too quiet, and she can hear the screaming. A late night (or early morning) news anchor speaks of recent events in the area. Erin ignores the words… She just wants the sound.

Lying on the couch, she closes her eyes. "I feel like if I knew the guy's name, I could have something to focus on. But I don't. He never said it."

After the call is made to the little place a few corners away, Cody takes a seat in one of the chairs perpendicular to the sofa. She's still got a good view of the tele, so she reaches for the remote and flicks it over to Erin's show. She rather enjoys the little wereporcupine.

"Control your dreams, they're all in your head, you have the power there, not whoever that guy is." Sage advice from the Master of Meditation.The Captain of Cool. The.. well nobody's perfect, Cody still experiences the same impulses, headbutt anyone? "You're going to have to start meditating, find whatever piece of control or power you lost in that cell. If something like that ever happened when you're awake… who knows what could happen."

Looking down at the coffee table, she picks up one of the dissertations that she'd picked up for the starlet. To Cody, it's 600 pages of pure boring, to Erin, there might be some tidbits on a new virus they found living in a fish on the bottom of some inlet off the coast of Japan. It's prehistoric… but it's something new. "You might never find out the guys' name, there's over three hundred agents in that building. Just like I'll never find out half the people that have held me over the years."

Erin rolls her eyes toward the television when Afterlife appears on the screen. "You watch it once, you're addicted," she comments, smirking a little. "I lost everything in that cell. That's what the dream is - what happened to me. Only it gets worse every time. It was only sixteen hours the first time. Tonight, it was one hundred thousand. I knew I couldn't make it. But I don't know how to wake myself up. It's always so real."

Sitting up a little, propping one of the couch's pillows behind her. "I bet I could draw him. Those art classes have to be good for something besides set design, right? Maybe you've seen him. You might know him if you see him. You could give me a name.

The agent's face is pretty much embedded into her memory. When she closes her eyes, she sees it. "You know, the worst part is, there are people who went through worse than I did. And it still bothers me. I can't just shrug it off. How do you do it?"

"You didn't lose everything there. How did you get out?" Erin gained her sister, she gained a couple of allies. "You didn't die, which is what a lot of people are going to do." Then a buzz jolts the agent from her little lesson in preservation and she jogs silently to the kitchen where she produces a gun from… somewhere. "Remind me to get a camera outside the door." She mutters as she begins another silent jog to the large metal door.

The metal slide is pulled back to reveal a delivery boy holding one of those red thermal bags, likely containing their pizza. "Good news! Pizza's here." Flipping the gun on safety, Cody holds it in the hand she keeps out of view.

When she opens the door, the delivery boy is rather startled to see a bald woman, and he just blinks. "Uhh… you ordered a pizza?"

Giving him a cool smirk, the agent nods and holds out a twenty dollar bill that she produced from one of her pajama pockets. "Yeah, I'd appreciate it if you didn't stare so much, chemo… you know." After taking the pizza, refusing the change, and slamming the door on the man, she pads into the living room again. It smells absolutely heavenly.

The question is rhetorical, so Erin doesn't answer it. Cody's right; it's just that when Erin has dreams like that, it's really hard to believe that she has anything left. Like always, though, a little bit of light breaks through, she starts to feel better. The cycle repeats.

Thoroughly awake, she stretches backward, over the arm of the couch, to flip on the table lamp. The argument about whether or not she could draw Max is forgotten, since before she smelled the pizza, Erin really didn't realize how hungry she was. "You kinda look like a soap opera chemo patient," she says. "With the elegant hair loss and the perfect skin and clear eyes and ability to walk around without vomiting. I could make you sick. It'd make a more convincing cover story."

She doesn't. Yet. She does, however, reach for the pizza box. "What's your story, anyway? You keep telling me about these people who held you. And the Middle East. Did you get away? Was it because of your power?"

Cody's got a mouthful of pizza. As she chews, she considers the answer to Erin's question. "Not all the time. I need to eat to grow hair." She says slowly, between swallowing and chewing. "I was held more than once, I've been in the middle east for nearly all of my adult life. Also, my job doesn't keep me as safe as say.. a secretary or a midnight clerk at a convenience store."

Before she leans back into her chair again, she grabs yet another slice. She's almost finished the first one and it's just not going to quell the beast that is her grumbling stomach. "I'm kind of like a front line, before the rest of Delta goes into an area, they send in people like me to gather information. I get as much as I can reporting it whenever I can, when my superiors have enough, they send in the cavalry. This time, I'm just hoping the cavalry gets enough information in time to take down whoever is at the top of this mess."

"Anyway…" Pause to take another large bite, which she talks through. "You jush.." Chew. chew. chew. swallow. "Whenever I've been caught, I always find a new strength. Something new that I didn't have before they got me. Every time, it just makes me a little more untouchable."

As Cody's starting on that second slice of pizza, Erin's still on her first. It hasn't taken her too long to get used to her roommate's eating habits, though. Erin is thoughtful, silent for awhile. "I never woulda thought I'd end up living a life like that." This isn't even close, most likely, but it's a lot less comfortable than what she's used to. "A couple years ago, I was just … in the dark. About everything. It was kinda nice."

Since Cody might finish the whole pizza before Erin's done with her first slice, the actress grabs another one, setting it on a napkin beside her on the couch. "I don't know how you do it. If it wasn't for Janet, I'm sure he would have broken me by now. He'd already gotten me to agree to help him make some sort of super virus. I didn't plan to, but… With a little more time…"

Erin shakes her head. "So, meditation. Can you teach me that, too?"

"I think meditation is a great starting point, it'll give you focus on everything. It'll probably help you a lot when you finally get back to real life." Cody murmurs as she finishes her second slice. Her stomach has finally stopped rumbling, so she lays back in the chair, putting her head against one of the armrests and laying her feet across the other.

There's a piece of the agent that hopes that real life pauses for a while, it's nice being able to come home and know that there's someone there watching your back. "Janet is the strength you got from there. You weren't close before, were you? And then she ended up risking her life to make sure you got out safe. As for the rest of it, what you agreed to, it never happened. So you have to let that go. Just keep remembering what did happen. You didn't make the super virus and you didn't help him. You got away."

"That's the first part of getting over this. You got out, you beat him, you did that. He has no idea that you're still alive, no one does. You're marked off the list." Cody lets off a long yawn at that point, after all, it's still the middle of the night and she hasn't slept very much in the past few nights. For Erin, she fights it. Straightening up again, she assumes a comfortable position in the chair and leans her head back. "You don't need to sit in a lotus position to meditate. When you start, all you need to do is be comfortable. I'd suggest that you lie down on the couch or a start pose. Then just close your eyes and think of the best time of your life."

Everything Cody's saying is true. Without her having been held in that cell, she and Janet might never have spoken again. For some reason, the dire situation made them closer than they'd ever been… Before that, Erin was sure that, to each other, they were a lost cause. Somehow, life seems so much more precious now; maybe she shouldn't automatically hate everyone she meets. Changing old habits is going to be hard. But for the sake of not burning all her bridges, she should probably try.

"Janny and I hadn't talked in years. The last time I saw her, she told me to stay out of her life. I don't know why she did what she did." Whatever prompted the reconciliation, Erin owes Janet big time, and she's not sure she's ever going to be able to pay back that debt. Of course, there's always the option of ensuring that similar things don't continue happening. Cody's asked her for help, so why not try?

"I feel silly," she says as she readjusts into a more comfortable position, putting her uneated second slice of pizza on the table. lying her head on one of the throw pillows, she closes her eyes. The best time in her life, huh? That's a tough one. She's always fought with her family, her childhood was hardly ideal, but there were some good moments…

Eventually, she's asleep again. The noise has stopped, the flashing lights aren't visible when she closes her eyes. There are still nightmares, but this time, they're more distant, as if she's watching them instead of being forced to be part of them.

When she does wake up, she's crediting the pizza for her restful sleep. Meditation had nothing to do with it!

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