Date: April 23, 2010
In the aftermath of the AP, Erin visits Jo's apartment.
"Forgiveness Kind Of"
When they got the all-clear, Erin had but one request for Cody. And that was that the former agent punch her in the face so that the kidnapping story looked real.
There were already remnant scars around Erin's wrists from tugging at her chains, so the punch in the face just tied the whole thing together. It was… Quite painful, actually, and shows down one side of her face, mostly around her eye, in an almost beautiful array of blacks, blues, and greens.
Good thing she's not filming yet. She's got other things to do first, which involve getting her life back in order… Taking care of Beth, repairing her apartment, and… Visiting the person who's responsible for her capture before Jo comes looking for her. It's a strategic move, kind of. Instead of walking into the complex as usual, Erin uses the Intercom this time, summoning her former captor with a buzz from the outside!
Charting her own next move, Jo is ready to leave her last employment in favour of something above board and completely independent of the government. It's the first time, really. But in a way she's hopeful that it'll be something that will let her carry on with her current life's work.
There isn't much to pack, there never was. But then the maps have been pulled off the walls and the few boxes that exist are strewn into the middle of the room — one loaded with empty liquor bottles causes her to cringe.
"Three weeks and counting," she murmurs to herself. "One day at a — "
With a frown she walks over to the intercom, "Hello?"
At this point, Erin could just walk away. The voice that comes through the intercom makes her cringe, though it isn't the fear-reaction she gets whenever she thinks about Max. She sighs, starts to walk away, and then turns and pushes the button again. "Jo, it's Erin McCarty. Can I come in?" Pausing, she eyes the small pin-prick wound on the inside of her arm. It was a risk, but she took it. The effects will wear off before she can really suffer the effects of being without her ability. "I'm…" How to put this. "…Safe." She can't say too much without making people stare. "Won't take up too much of your time." Letting up on the button, she looks at the door into the complex. If Jo's going to buzz her in, she'll hear the quiet electronic sound of the door's locks deactivating.
Jo hesitates for a moment, but just one. The truth is people with abilities can find her wherever she goes (if they want). She pushes the button to talk, "Come on up. You know which one it is. Come right in. It'll be unlocked." She hits the button to let Erin inside and walks over to her front door, unbolting each of the locks in turn.
And instead of waiting and watching the door, she continues to pack. She looks different in a way. Her hair is pulled into a loose ponytail, she's wearing a plain t-shirt and a pair of blue jeans. Really, she's unassuming for once.
Into the lion's den.
Erin doesn't fear many people… Jo is one of them, though. Very few have been able to get through the actress' armor, and those who have have seen Erin at her very worst … or in Taine's case, her very best. Paranoia makes her wonder if this is going to end up as some spur-of-the-moment trap, with a gun pointed at her face the moment she opens Jo's door.
Pushing the button down again, she starts to state the fact that she's told people where she's going, but she doesn't want to make herself seem more vulnerable than she already has.
It's not too long before Erin - who isn't used to walking around without some sort of disguise - makes it to the former agent's door and pushes it open. She stands in the doorway, unsure for nearly a minute, before she closes the door behind her. There's no gun pointed at her… Jo is packing.
One blue eye stares at this task. The other is swollen shut and fairly bruised at the moment. "I. Don't even know why I'm here. Maybe I'm just rubbing it in. Maybe."
Jo rolls another map and places it in one of the boxes before standing to her feet and facing Erin. She manages that same nearly cruel smile, but it only lasts a moment. "Rubbing what in, exactly?" With a tilt of her head she cringes as she finds yet another empty bottle, murmuring to herself again, "…three weeks…" THat's all she reminds herself.
Finally she takes the time to regard Erin, examining her carefully. "You came to gloat then. Gloat about what, exactly, Ms. McCarty?" Her green eyes narrow as her lips purse just a little. "Gloat about how you escaped a government facility? How you drove me crazy? Or to gloat that you have your life back?" Her lips twitch upwards, and she opens her mouth to speak, but thinks better of it and shakes her head instead only to resume packing.
No, she's not really here to rub it in. One thing's been sticking in her mind for a little while now. "I— "
She takes a step back when Jo looks up at her. Maybe that's at least worth some satisfaction to the agent. Erin is overly cautious at the moment, the the point of backing into the closed door with a soft ouch as she knocks her elbow against it. "No. No, I know why I'm here."
She takes a step forward, away from the door, but only back to where she was before. "You didn't hurt me," she says. "I mean, yeah, you— If it wasn't for you, I wouldn't have— " Her jaw tenses, eyes closing for a moment. "Had the pleasure of having information tortured out of me, so thanks for that." Huffing, she looks away. "I wish you were right. I wish we were all dangerous terrorists. It would have meant that what you've been doing for the past few— months? Years? Would have really meant something. I believe you wanted to protect people."
"And when did you come up with that idea?" Jo asks coolly as she seals one of the boxes. She's resorting to her usual defensive tactic: cool distance. But then, something turns — Teddy's picture stares up at her from one of the boxes that she promptly seals. Making eye contact with Erin, a flicker of something crosses her face, "You know, I don't even understand the point of anything anymore."
"I swore to protect people a long time ago. I was thirteen when I first started preparing to be a SEAL. My parents trained me." She rarely shares any of this with anyone; not Carl. Not Cody. "I spent years refining my ability because I was determined to enter hand-to-hand combat and be the best of the best." She frowns for a moment, but just for one before her expression returns to neutrality, "And I risked everything to catch one of you. The only one that mattered." Her eyebrows knit together as she busies herself over another box.
"I don't… know what happened to make you hate me so much. Or how you were indoctrinated into believing that everyone with an ability was dangerous. Me and you aren't ever going to get along. But there are people out there who will like you if you let them, and they have abilities, too." She saying this for one person in particular: Cody. Sooner or later, the cat's going to come out of the bag. "Just give them a chance before you write them off, okay?"
How is Cody friends with this walking basket-case?
Of course, the conversation turns unexpectedly, which Erin should kind of expect from the few encounters she's had with this woman.
One person. All this, because she was after one person? "Then go after 'em. But don't take your personal vendetta out on innocent people." Erin quickly amends: "I'm not saying I'm innocent, but— Well, I've told you this before. No need to repeat myself. If you'da thought ahead a little bit, maybe you could have come to me that night and asked me for help instead of scaring the shit outta me and throwing me into a van. Ever think of that?"
"There are moments in life and experiences that teach us things. The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing again with adverse results; I wasn't going to let it happen again," Jo's answer is simple. "And I'll get him. I intend to. I won't be fooled again."
With a heavy sigh she seals another box. "I thought people like you could control themselves. But there was an incident. More than one. And maybe some of you can have a measure of self control, but I was doing what I believed the right course of action." She flinches and piles some boxes together.
"I believed in what they were doing because of what I'd seen. I let it go. I promised myself I wouldn't make the same mistake twice." That was around the same time she'd shut down emotionally, but this is left unspoken as she eyes the box of liquor bottles. "At least I'll feel rich after I take it to the bottle depot," the comment isn't really directed towards Erin, but the makings of a real smile edges her lips.
Insanity. Erin kind of wonders if Jo's still there. Her eyes narrow, though se continues standing right where she's at, just inside the door.
Why lie? "You want the honest truth? I gave myself a shot before I came here because I wasn't sure I could around you. And if push came to shove, I'm … not sure I'd actually try. But I want to. And the only reason I can is because people give a damn about me enough to want to help me. I'm hoping one day I can just shut it off and never have to worry about it ever again."
There's a long pause, followed by a humourless laugh. "But you. What, you got stung and then you went on a crusade against a swarm of hornets with a stick? Probably not your best idea ever."
When she comments on the liquor bottles, the actress is sure Jo's lost it. "…Look, I'm … Sorry. That's why I'm here. I'm sorry for what I put you though. You were right. I'm dangerous. I lost control. I didn't mean to put you through that."
"I tried to do what I could. But I wasn't after all of you. I was after one. And they promised the resources to find him. Not that they knew. No one knew," Jo's gaze is on Erin again. "And I actually believed in the rest. I did. Not the weapons part, obviously." At that she scowls. "But the rest. I would do anything to keep this country safe."
She tugs at the bottom of her t-shirt, another defence mechanism in a way, reminding herself who she's with and who she is. "And now you all have your old lives back. Huh. I guess it's only a matter of time."
"Well, the rest of you aren't my problem anymore. I have one to deal with. He is dangerous. Especially for people he supposedly cares for." Her eyebrows arch as she turns back towards the box of liquor bottles, busying herself further.
So all this really was so she could catch one person. It's sad, in a way. She probably ended up hurting a lot more people than she intended to.
"Cody said you used to be a lot different," Erin says. "I mean, I don't remember what she said exactly, but she seemed to imply you weren't always such an asshole. What the hell happened?" Now that they're all free, there's no reason Erin can't mention Cody, right?
Erin shakes her head, though. "My old life? Nah, I'll never have that back. That's gone. I mean, maybe it'll be like an echo of my old life. I'll go through the motions. And I'll also look over my shoulder all the time and never shake a fan's hand again, and wonder when the next big shot's gonna decide he wants to turn me into a living weapon. I'll probably also never sleep another night without nightmares of one of your colleagues."
In a way, Erin tortured someone, too. She's standing right there. Brushing the thought off, she shakes her head. "Someone you knew hurt you. I get that. But I'm guessing this person didn't go, 'Hey, Jo. How about if you obsess for the rest of your life and totally ruin any chance you have at happiness.' Fuck's sake. Stop packing and go out and see a movie or something."
There's a moment where Jo considers clamming up, but in a way she knows that's what drove her back to the booze. After so long that's what had her drinking again when the stress mounted. "I wouldn't say asshole. Bitch seems more fitting," a bitter smile spreads across her lips as that craving for her favourite whiskey mounts, she pushes it aside. "My brother — my favourite brother — killed both of our parents and sent another one of our brothers into a coma. He's been in it for years." The words are ironically emotionless; she hasn't begun to deal with them.
"I've been chasing my brother across the country. Across the globe. And the trail went cold in August after several people died mysteriously on the subway. So I joined the Protocol so I could find him." She twitches. "And shoot him between the eyes."
"And the worst part is, it's my fault. I let it go. I was naive." Her eyebrows furrow. "And no, he didn't steal my happiness. I did that when I didn't deal with his curse right away. The fault is my own. And while I have little joy for myself, I can keep him from hurting other people."
There's a long pause. Erin looks… calmly horrified. It's not a nice story. She's going to strictly refuse to give Jo a comforting pat on the shoulder, though, or empathise with her at all. She does say softly, though, "Yeah, I suppose that'd make anyone an asshole."
She takes another quarter-step forward, more shifting her weight than anything. Still. "Okay, so… Essentially this was a case of hurting other people because it might have led you to one person?" For a moment, Erin seems as if she might yell. But it makes her feel… strangely better, actually. It means that Jo isn't so ignorant. Maybe she doesn't actively believe that people born with an ability are all killers.
"Well, I… hope you find him." After a pause, she asks, "You really don't care who you bulldoze through to get to him, though, do you?"
"All of us — the lower echelons of the Protocols — believed it was about protecting people. It was in the same vein of what I was doing. Protecting people. So I didn't exactly see it as bulldozing." Jo presses her lips together and then releases them in a kind of popping sound. "But not everyone's like him. Maybe." A skeptical glance is cast at Erin before Jo shakes her head again, "I need to finish packing; I've left the trail alone too long and if I can't meet my goal here, I don't understand the point." She shrugs.
It's been a couple hours since she injected herself. Her throat is starting to feel scratchy, and it's probably going to get slightly worse before it starts getting better. She should really just go home and sleep it off. "They're not," Erin says. There's a half-smile there, though it only lasts a minute. The future doesn't look any brighter, but at least it looks a little smarter.
Stuff to think about.
Unable to think of a proper farewell for someone she doesn't really like anyway, Erin just turns and leaves. A half-minute later, something slides under the closed door. It's an envelope - the same kind she used to send those cryptic notes to Jo not too long ago. The message is written write on the envelope, though, instead of on a card inside:
To my biggest fan; No Love, Erin McCarty.
It's about as close to forgiveness as Jo's gonna get.
As Erin leaves, Jo returns to her packing until her gaze lands on the envelope. Her eyebrows furrow as she walks over to it and picks it up. Her eyes scan the words and a soft smile spreads over her lips. She takes the envelope and tucks it into her jacket pocket. Some lessons are worth remembering.
"I guess it boils down to collateral damage. It all boils down to collateral damage."