2010-01-28: Enjoy Your Damn Plant



Date: January 28, 2010


Erin and Janet just had the SAME DREAM...

"Enjoy Your Damn Plant"

Janet's Apartment

They say in times of crisis, even enemies will come together under a common flag to fight a greater evil. Granted, family aren't usually enemies, but arguments can last for months. Years, even.

I hadn't really even thought of Janet since adopting Beth. Lately, I'm starting to believe in fate, though.

Erin has had some awful dreams since the Alpha Protocol came after her. Since she got that list from Tracy with her sister's name on it, she's been even more worked up. Her own family! Still, with the argument they had about god-knows-what so long ago, Erin just intended to chalk this up to yet another reason they shouldn't be talking, and leave it at that.

Then, she had a really, really disturbing dream.

Waking up in a cold sweat, Erin had to check twice to make sure her heart was still beating. Satisfied that she was still alive and that Janet hadn't visited her in the middle of the night to murder her, she threw on a winter coat over her pajamas and caught a cab over to little sis's apartment.

Not known for her patience, she makes sure she's heard the first time by slamming a fist so hard on the door that if Jan was sleeping at this early hour of three in the morning, she's certainly not now.


I had written my family off years ago. No one seemed interested in me so I lost interest in them. Maybe it's not charitable or fair, but it is what it is and that's the way I live my life.

I believe in logic, deductive reasoning, and the hard facts. These are what make me a good doctor. No, scratch that, an amazing doctor. Imagine piecing a diagnosis together with nothing but evidence. This is what I thrive on. This is what I've always thrived on: the puzzle. The mystery. They never understood that.

Like Erin, the younger McCarty had an unusually settling dream, but considering her current path and what she's been doing with her life, she considers it nothing more than that: a dream. She'd warmed up some milk and turned on The Animaniacs DVD to calm her nerves, settling on the couch just before three o'clock. And then… there's banging on her door.

She calls at the door as she pads towards it in her flannel pyjama pants, lacy tank top and oversized bath robe matched with large fuzzy dinosaur slippers (that used to growl every time she took a step), "Mrs. Rodriguez, we've talked about this before. It's really quiet! I don't see the issue it… you need to turn down your…" she peers out the peep hole and instinctively ducks. Mrs. Rodriguez is not at her door. Maybe if she's quiet enough, Erin will just go away?


When Janet goes quiet, Erin surmises that her sister doesn't want to talk to her, and walks away, dejected.

Except that doesn't happen.

THUD. Her forehead lightly bumps against the door, which is accompanied by a sigh. This isn't going to be easy.

So, what. I make a few mistakes. Who cares, right? Except becoming a parent - that still sounds weird, so I'll rephrase. Except taking charge of some snot-nosed little brat has really made me see some things in perspective. Like how important family is.

"You moron. I just heard you. I know you're there."

Smooth, Erin.

Erin pauses, looking at the peep hole, even if she can't see through to the other side. "Please, Jan? Really need to talk to you. I had a feeling you'd react this way, so I brought this." She holds up a tub of Superman ice cream, some graham crackers, and chocolate bars. ICE CREAM SANDWICHES.


"Yeah… that's a surefire way to make me want to invite you in," she scoffs. "Why are you here?" Janet calls through the door as she contemplates whether or not to open it, choosing to lean against it and talk through it for a few moments.

After that unsettling dream with Erin… I'd think it was fate under other circumstances. That is, if I believe in fate. But I don't. I don't believe in any of that karmic crap. I believe in fundamental universal laws, like gravity.

The notion of the Superman ice cream, however tugs at Janet's innermost parts; it's her favourite and she's secretly ashamed of this fact.

I like it for the colours.

With a frown she clicks the locks of the door and opens it before walking back into her living room, wordlessly resuming her seat on the couch.


"Well…!" Yeah, Erin doesn't really have a comeback for that one.

Responsibility. Maybe when we get older, we really consider the implications of our past actions. Some people are too proud to just apologise. Leave the past behind them.

When Janet finally does open the door, Erin steps inside, just one foot, looking around the jamb as her sister returns to the couch. It's not too late to leave, is it?

This is stupid.

No, what's stupid is the fact that the dream she had has her worked up enough to actually do this. "Janny, I'm sorry." Erin looks away as she says it, as if the words actually burn. They might! "Look, I had— " A bad dream. Right, that's going to sound awesome. I HAD A BAD DREAM. I'M SCARED. CAN I SPEND THE NIGHT WITH YOU? "I've been doing some thinking, and I really don't want… this. I mean, fuck, if you want to keep fighting, go ahead. But my conscience is clear." Because she brought ice cream.


"I —" huh. That was not what Janet was expecting at all. She stares at her sister lingering in the entranceway. "…" her mouth opens but no words come out.

I was always the sister who didn't really fit in. I was the one who busted my butt through school with little encouragement from either of our parents. I was the one who learned to be completely independent from the others, leading a different life. I had to.

"I'm not even angry," she finally manages.

I am being so sincere right now. Even though you broke my heart and killed me. And tore me to pieces. And threw every piece into the fire… am I seriously thinking in song lyrics?! How far does my nerdiness run?! Okay. I am angry. Of course I'm angry. I got ignored most of my childhood. I was never the one with the attention. I wasn't the pretty one, or the popular one; I was the smart one. The unusually smart one, and in the eyes of my own mother that wasn't as important as theatre and becoming a star. But then, is any of that Erin's fault?

Perplexed Janet raises a hand to her forehead, "And I'm not fighting. Neither were you. To fight is to imply we were doing something. We were… ignoring." She twitches. "…somewhat happily, I might add. Why are you here? It's freakin' three in the morning Erin. Normal people aren't up this early; normal people sleep at least another three hours…"


So how much do I tell? Do I let Janet find out by accident, like what happened to Caleb? Mikayla?

Before saying anything, Erin takes off her coat, and then she heads to the kitchen. It's a couple minutes before she returns with a small stack of Superman-Ice-Cream sandwiches on a plate, which she puts on the couch between them as she sits down. "Well, I'm not normal," she says. If only Janet knew. "Look, I'm here to talk to you about the Alpha Protocol. Just do me the courtesy of not pretending like you don't know what I'm talking about. Your name's on a list." She purposely rolls back the sleeve of her pajama top, revealing the fact that the ugly scar that's supposedly make-up on the show is, indeed, real.

"I don't want to believe you're part of that. I was just gonna … ignore it. Happily." It's almost an echo of what Janet just said. "Why? Why would you be part of a group like that? You know what they're doing!"


"Alpha Protocol?" Janet quirks. She's never heard anyone use that term other than around the office. "How would you know anything about that?" she wrinkles her nose. This is all turning very suspect. "I don't… I don't work for the Alpha Protocol."

Alright, so I kind of do. It pays the bills. I went through school on scholarship money and that which I earned. And I didn't become a television star so believe me, how I earned it was far from glamorous. And I ended my genetics rotation to come here. I'll still specialize, I just need some dough first, and this government gig is amazing. No, it doesn't pay the best, but I get to help people and have fairly consistent hours with very little shift work. Believe me, as a doctor, it's blissful.

"I don't really know what you think I'm doing with my life or my time, but you don't get to judge me for anything I do. Last time I checked, you haven't been around. For any of it. So why would you even care? Why would you give a damn? Tell me. Explain it to me."

She glances at the ice cream sandwich but doesn't take one. "I don't sell myself to people over the airwaves, and I manage to keep a low profile, but I do good work. I am a good doctor, and I help peope. I have for years. I'm sorry if this is a foreign concept to you, but that is my job."

In this case I'm healing terrorists. Helping them. Making sure they're well treated. And no, I'm not the only doctor on staff, and no, I don't know the details of their crimes, but I think it's better that way, you know? I mean, the government is protecting me, it's employee from unnecessary nightmares.

"If you're going to continue to insult me or my job in my own home… I'd like you to go."


Because… Erin doesn't want to see Janet dead. Maybe Erin is a terrorist in some ways, considering what she plans to do, but she could save lives. Hundreds of them, maybe.

Temper is a funny thing. Mine's terrible, I'll admit. But when my sister's life is on the line, I can put that aside. I hope.

"Would you listen to me for once? Please? Jan, this is important. There might not be anything more important. And yeah, I do get to judge you, 'cuz you blindly charging into this without asking any questions about these terrorists— "

How can she know Janet is working with 'terrorists?'

The comment about Janet being a good doctor really strikes a nerve, and that's quite visible in Erin's expression. She looks like she's just been hit by a truck. "That's what you said in the— " Dream. She'll ignore the comment about the fact that Erin 'sells herself' by acting… For now. It'll be stored away to use as ammunition later.

Looking distinctly uncomfortable, Erin rubs her arm. God damn. Vulnerability sucks, doesn't it? She remembers the dream so clearly. So vividly, as if it really happened. In fact, she even knows what she said. What Janet said. What Janet sang. "You… Remember that lullaby mom used to sing to us when things got really bad?" she asks, voice shaking a little.


"I didn't tell you I worked with terrorists, and you don't even know what I do, how can you judge me? You can't," Janet quips as she stands from the couch and marches to the door to open it. "You need to go."

I don't understand. I can't understand. Why is she here? Why tonight?

The mention of the lullaby causes her to twitch, just a bit. Ever so slightly and then something takes over, reasonable-diplomatic-doctor-training, "Yes, I remember the song. The tune…" Haunts her? Comforts her, maybe?

There was this one time when I was sick. Like really sick growing up. I couldn't keep any fluids or anything down for a week. Mom sang it to me so often. The tune rings in my ears. And believe me, it's both haunting and comforting in a way. And that dream… I sang it. But it's just a dream.

"… and I'm glad you want to make amends or whatever, but — it's three o'clock in the morning and… I can't think right now. Besides, I have a twelve hour shift today that starts in three hours. I need sleep… please. I-I'll call or something in the next couple of days. I promise."


After awhile, I guess I've just gotten tired of pushing people away and being the only one in my life.

Erin figures she could just walk out now. Leave everything exactly as it was and never get a call from Janet. She's pretty sure that's how things would go, but then again, Erin, out of everyone in their family, has not one optimistic bone in her body. She hates as passionately as she loves. Maybe even moreso. "Uh-uh. Sorry, Janet. I'm staying. Have a damn sandwich." Crossing her arms, Erin makes it quite clear that she's ready to stay the duration of the night, if she has to.

So she tells the truth. It's like a new chapter, swallowing her pride and all that. "I had a dream like… An hour ago. Maybe a little more, I dunno." Erin shakes her head, chuckling a little, incredulous at her own candor. "And… I guess I wouldn't be so concerned if it didn't— Like I said, your name— I can't explain it. Just… It's enough to say I was bothered, all right? And I…" Was completely sincere in the dream. Why not now? Her shoulders slump. "I really did try to take care of you. It just didn't work out how I wanted it to."

She expands on that more than she could before. "You know, this one time when we were little, Mom had me at this audition. I don't even remember what it was for, and I remember telling her that I really wish you were there. I tried, Jan. I just… knew you were upset at something, and I thought maybe if you were more involved… You wouldn't be. How old were we? I had to be like, ten or something. I didn't know how to talk to you about that stuff."

Surprises are part of my life lately. Like the realisation that the things I do are more than just for me now. I hate being dependent, but I can't help loving it, too. Taine, Beth, Tracy… They're actual friends. People I really love. I know I can count on them, and I hope they know they can count on me.

Imagine me, thirty years old with a teenaged kid. I don't care what people think, though. She needs me. Yeah, I like knowing that someone out there needs me.

"You sang me that lullaby in this dream, as I was dying." To distract herself, Erin grabs one of the now partially-melted sandwiches and chews on one of the corners. "That's why I'm not leaving. 'cuz … Look, I don't even care what you're doin' with your life right now. Well, I do, but— forget about that for a second. I just don't want things to end between us like that."

And Erin owes it to Janet to be here, before someone else with that list decides to take her out.


It's physically impossible to have the same dream as someone else. Ergo, dear Janet, you must still be dreaming.

"Uh-huh," Janet's face turns pale at the notion of Erin's dream and the lullaby. Butterflies claw at her insides. What does Erin think she know? And why is this happening? Is this happening? She stares at Erin blankly before pushing the door closed.

I was five or six. And I already didn't fit into my own family. I didn't want the cameras or the lights or the fame. More than anything I just wanted something that was my own. Something they cared about.

Equally blankly, she walks back tot he kitchen. "I don't want ice cream," she finally murmurs. "I'm not hungry." Not even for ice cream. "It's a dream, Erin. Nothing more than a dream. Just leftover brain goo from the day before. I don't know why you thought of me…" her cheeks flush. She's lying, and desperately clinging to the logic that pulled her through her childhood. Although that song. She'd sung the lullaby in the dream while she died.

What could this be? What did I eat yesterday? Salad. Four cups of coffee… no … six. Too much coffee. That's what this is.

"Between us like what? With me singing Sleep, Baby Sleep while you die? Awesome. I promise not to overdose you on morphine. Happy?" she issues her older sister a strained smile. Erin didn't mention the morphine or how she died, no these are from Janet's dream. "How do you want things to end?"


Yeah, it was stupid to even try to open up to Janet. Erin can feel herself getting angry.

This is why I don't open up to people. I want them to see things my way. I don't know if Janet understands what I went through when I was a kid. I don't think she'd believe me even if I told her. To her, I was spoiled. I had everything. Except a life.

Getting up, Erin follows after Janet with the intention of letting her have it again. Severing all ties in a fit of temper that will surely divide them for all time. About halfway there, the temper's spent, and when Erin finally gets to the kitchen, she's admitted defeat to herself. She's just so… tired of that. Okay, maybe with her inept crew it's okay to yell at someone so intensely that they quit, swear off showbiz forever, and join a monestary just for the silence. Aah, blessed silence! But that's not acceptable with family.

Man, this just keeps getting weirder. Did they have the same dream? "…Jan, I didn't mention the morphine. What was it… Three? Overkill? Seemed to work just fine to me. I— I told you something about myself in that dream." It's a test. Just to see if they did have the same dream. Nothing is completely impossible anymore, as Erin has realised. But this seems pretty weird, even for her. "Do you remember what it was?"


"Of course we had the same dream! You're just in my head!" Janet throws her arms up in frustration. "The real Erin wouldn't show up like this! The real Erin wouldn't be here at my door with ice cream and we're too old to eat because it's only okay to eat colourful ice cream when you're a kid! The real Erin wouldn't have it in her to apologize, especially not at three o'clock in the morning. I freakin' need my head scanned because I probably have a brain tumor." She glances at the ceiling before noting, "The symptoms match: strange dreams, weird visions, voices that talk to me in my head…"

I can't say that I haven't thought of making up with Erin though. I can't say that I haven't thought about fixing things. But then, I'm not sorry. I'm not sorry for who I've become.

"At least I caught it early. Hopefully. Now, since you're not leaving, I'm going to lie down on the couch, and try to sleep some more because tomorrow I not only have to go to work but also get myself in for a CAT scan."


"Jan— " Erin starts before sis goes off on her crazy rant, which would actually make sense if all this wasn't completely real. Erin thought she was insane at first, too, when she accidentally almost killed her roommate and her costar-now-boyfriend that she's only just starting to be able to admit to anyone. But that manifestation of her power might have been the best thing that ever happened to her.

As Janet proclaims she's going to take a snooze and forget about all this, Erin grabs her by the shoulders, hard enough so that it hurts. Dreams don't hurt, right?

Luckily, I'm also a master at improv. My spur-of-the-moment speeches melt hearts and win minds. Sort of.

Jan! It's all real. You want a foot anchored in reality, well this is it. You have to get over the fact that all this is pretend, made up fantasy, because if you can't get past that, you're never gonna make it. I need you, right now, to just throw away your preconceived notions that lock you into your little world and listen to me. Please." Her eyes find the small African violet on the counter. Erin reaches for it, eyes lighting up, glowing a strange blue colour as her fingers contact the closest leaf. She doesn't have to touch it, but it just looks so much more dramatic, as far as she's concerned.

The end result would be the same, either way. The plant withers, its leaves turning yellow and spotty. It's not dead, but very, very diseased.


"Ugh!" Janet objects loudly as Erin grabs her shoulders. "Real or not, you don't get to come in here and make demands of me. Erin, it's been years. YEARS. And I've heard nothing. From any of you. And now you need me to listen to you? That's not really how life works. Even if you are real, big whoop we had the same dream."

Stranger things have happened. The same dream doesn't mean I'm going to run through a grassy meadow towards her.

"Uh… it's my plant! Why are you killing my plants now?!" she stares at Erin incredulously. "ANd h-h-how?"

It defies logic. I can't handle anything that defies logic.


If everything else is true in the dream, that means Janet really is part of the Alpha Protocol and… She doesn't know half of what's going on. "This is how life works right now, Janet. Believe me or not, I don't care. But if you're not going to listen to me, then there are a lot of people out there who'd love your head on a platter right now."

Real enough for you, sis?

Erin pauses to let that sink in. "I'm a terrorist, Jan. Because I can do that, that company you're working for? They came after me once already. I never hurt anyone." On purpose. "They lured me to an empty set, shot me, chased me up into the scaffolding, and I had to jump down almost two stories just to get away. See this?" She holds up her arm, with the long, jagged scar running from wrist to elbow. "That's what I get for wanting to be free." Finally finished, she gives Janet a weak shove, almost disgusted that she's more concerned about the plant than her own sister. Grabbing onto the violet with enough force to break some of the leaves, she heals the damage done by the mosaic virus. Of course, the plant has definitely looked better, and it's probably doomed now, anyway, since it's so broken. And just to punctuate her point, Erin picks the whole thing up by the leaves and throws it to the floor.

Dirt goes everywhere.

"Enjoy your god-damned plant," Erin says, before storming out of the kitchen.

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