Date: December 17, 2009
Tracy's ability is starting to go haywire. Erin takes a leaf from Tanya's (admittedly crazy) book.
A few lights are on in the apartment of Linda Johnson, not to be confused with Tracy Strauss. The lone lamp in the living room, one of the few things that decorate it; the light above the stove in the kitchen is the second source of light, and neither to an especially good job. What should be warm lighting seems glum given the tumultuous mood of the apartment's newest resident.
It hasn't been an especially long time since Tracy came "home" for the night. It's entirely too quiet as she sits on the very edge of the black couch that happened to come with the partially furnished apartment. She moves her cell phone over in her hands, over and over. The black suit she wore to the office is half on, the jacket missing so that the silvery, silky sleeveless shirt meant to be worn beneath is revealed to the empty rooms. Faint bruising marks her right arm, a reminder that it was broken once upon a time not so long ago.
She's troubled; angry and doing nothing to distract herself from it. Eventually, she abandons the phone on the couch and paces through the apartment, a hand raking through her newly coloured hair.
Erin could have just knocked on the door and told whoever was manning the apartment's main office that she's Erin McCarty and she wants to be in the apartment complex NOW, but every once in awhile, she has a flash of genuine intelligence. She doesn't want to draw attention to either herself or Tracy.
So she waited until someone entered, grabbed the door behind them, and just walked in as if she lived there. First of all, security in apartments is much more lax than it should be. Second, Erin is tiny, short, and unintimidating, so no one would really suspect her of foul play. In any case, she's in here now, and takes the stairs up one floor to find the apartment she's looking for.
She looks pretty normal today, in blue jeans, a dark purple sweater, and… Well, there's also a baseball cap worn frontwards on her head, partially hiding her own new hair colour, save for the ponytail that just touches her shoulders. It's been lightened a shade, though it's still brown. The fun part is that jet black streaks have been expertly dyed into it. It looks ridiculous. Eventually, she'll get used to it. Maybe.
Which apartment was it? She picks one that she thinks might be right and knocks on the door. It was either 206 or 209; choosing the latter, she tries to formulate a quick excuse if this isn't Tracy's place.
There is a very, very limited number of people who know she lives here and an even more limited number of people who have reason to visit. Thus, although Tracy approaches the door with swift, long strides, she takes her time once she's there, circumspectly peering out the peephole. Even once she sees who it is and unlocks the door to open it, she eyes the hallway past Erin before really looking at the woman herself. Tracy doesn't look particularly happy to see Erin, just relieved, but she doesn't look particularly capable of looking happy at all at the moment. The once-blonde is on edge, tense, and not in the best of moods besides. "Hey," she says dully, stepping back to open the door all the way.
Patience is one of those things Erin never really learned. "S'about time," she mutters when Tracy finally opens the door. Blue eyes glance at Tracy's face as she steps past, the hint of a smile appearing - and just as quickly disappearing - when she sees the other woman's attempts to disguise her appearance. So that's what she was talking about. Well then.
Shrugging out of her coat, she lays it in the first convenient place, which just so happens to be a chair. It's not like they're throwing a party or anything, and if they were, Erin would move it. For now, she's just going to go ahead and make herself at home, though. "Nice place," she says. "Thought you could use some company. I know I can."
Tracy swings the door shut, locks it and follows Erin in. She gives the apartment a a rather uninterested glance around on the compliments; to the latter comment, she almost smiles, but it's stiff. "Yeah…" She moves toward the kitchen, weaving around the marble counter that separates it from the rest of the space. Behind it, she leans in against its edge with both hands. "Do you want anything?" she asks, clarifying after a few seconds: "A drink?"
After a brief sniffle - it's cold outside, after all - Erin removes the hat, tosses it on her coat, and follows Tracy toward the kitchen. She settles on the opposite side of the counter, leaning, feeling the chill of the marble even through the sleeve of her sweater. There's a dull thud as the broken arm folds under the good one.
"Yeah. Yeah, just— " She rattles off something out of habit. Alcohol is always good when you're stressed. Facing time back in front of a camera after weeks off will do that to a person, and besides, she's not driving. She very rarely does in the city.
"So, Erin, how was your week?" she says to herself. "Oh, all right," she responds. "Back to work, dealing with morons— and oh. Yeah. I got hit on my a fourteen-year-old computer genius." She looks pointedly - and angrily, almost - at Tracy. "Yeah, so I cuss him out, and now I feel bad about it. What the hell is with that?"
There's a pause as she considers. Did she forget something? Like any sort of friendly greeting? "How've you been?"
Grateful for even a brief distraction, Tracy turns to open a high cupboard and reach for a matching set of two glasses while Erin talks to herself. Perhaps she would have gotten to the questions herself, but now she doesn't have to ask. Self-involved, but she's more than a little distracted. The comment about a certain fourteen year old actually manages to make her smirk — a look which she shares over her shoulder as she draws the glasses down, only to be met with a much different expression from Erin. Whoops. No comment.
"I…" She moves back to the counter opposite Erin, setting the as-of-yet empty glasses down side by side, one in each hand. "…I got a new job," she says, an upbeat note which is quickly brought down. "…with a man who doesn't remember who he is, let alone how to do his job, until he remembers the last forty odd years of his life. I keep running into people who know my name sure as hell isn't Linda, aaand … on my way home I was almost hit by a van, then I was accosted in the middle of the street for being ungrateful to someone whose help has only led to disaster after disaster. That's only the tip of the iceberg."
A chill comes over the glasses Tracy's her hands at that precise time: what was once sturdy is suddenly wrought with cracks as they both freeze with an uneasy squeak of icy glass, prompting Tracy to let go and step back, her surprise short-lived. The glasses shatter, fall apart. She just looks fed up. Close to her wit's end. "I'm great."
Still not quite sure if she should just shrug the whole thing with Rebel away and forget about it, or try to make it up to him. He seemed really hurt - as hurt as a person can be when texting in ALL CAPS.
When in doubt, just do nothing.
Erin's just about to congratulate Tracy on the new job when the story takes a downward spiral almost immediately. Looking away, the actress bites her lip and remains silent. Yeah, Tracy's had it a bit worse, all things considered. That contest is definitely one that Erin's not too interested in winning. There's a quiet, almost private chuckle, though. Her character's had amnesia so many times, she almost knows what it's like. "Linda's a stupid name, anyway."
Little comfort, that.
"If you just— " Erin starts to say, looking back up at Tracy. Her eyes are instantly drawn to the freezing glasses, though, and she can't seem to look away. It's really neat in a way, but the underlying fact of the matter is that Tracy quite obviously didn't mean for that to happen. Without realising it, Erin pulls her hands closer to her, and, consequently, farther out of Tracy's reach.
Friends do stuff when things like this happen. Like… pats on the back, or hugging. In this case, that could lead to freezing, though. "I'll— Just— Do you have a broom?" Stepping away from the counter, Erin figures that if no physical contact is possible, she can at least play maid for awhile. Of course, moving anywhere near Tracy seems fairly dangerous at the moment, so she just kind of stands in the living room, looking over the counter, staring.
Comforting. If Tracy doesn't push everyone away on her own, she'll do it with her threatening power to freeze them where they stand and shatter like the glasses that now litter the counter and floor in pieces. "…in the closet," she says through a sigh, nodding her head to her left. There's a closet there somewhere. The broom is one of the few things it contains.
She backs up a few paces into the kitchen, folding her arms around herself, an awfully rigid and uncomfortable pose for something meant to be comforting. "Something is happening to me Erin," she confesses, as if that weren't already obvious. There had been hints of it before, but it's clearly still an issue. "Something is going on with my power, ever since I got out've those chains. That heat," she says, unbridled hate throughout the low-spoken words when she reflects back on the longest ten or so days of her life. "Sometimes I can't control it. it's just getting worse. It happened while I was sleeping the other day, who knows what could've happened if someone hadn't woke me up! It's… escaping from me. Has— your power ever been like this? Where… it just— felt like breaking out?"
There is, indeed, a broom, and after another moment of searching, Erin also locates a dust pan. Returning to the kitchen, she looks down as glass crunches underfoot. Crouching down, she reaches for it, feeling the cold escaping from it in waves, before drawing her hand back. Holding the broom near the bristles, she begins to push the glass into the pan.
Trust doesn't come easily to Erin. There's no way she's going to take a chance by getting too close to Tracy, as much as she wants to be there. She can be a friend, but she's not going to be an insane one.
Before all the glass is swept up, blue eyes meet Tracy's, narrowed, concerned. Leaning the broom's handle against the counter, Erin stands. Talk about heat. Chains. An edge to the woman's voice that she's only heard snippets of before. Even if she can answer Tracy's question with a positive - Erin's power has - and does - get away from her - she actually finds herself very genuinely concerned for another human being. "Trace, what happened to you?" For a moment, one hand raises, almost as if Erin intends to reach, but… In the end, she just takes another half step backward.
Tracy — studying Erin rather closely, waiting for some kind of enlightening answer — can't truly blame her for keeping her distance. She helps, in fact, by moving around to the other side of the counter, forcing that barrier. She keeps her hands to herself. There's a significant pause before she decides to explain something she doesn't truly want to talk about — but what she does want is for someone to understand.
"…I… tried to stop them," she says quietly. "One of their agents." Max. "They were trying to… bring Rebel in, I set it up before I knew he was just a kid." She looks downward on that note, if only for a second or three; not her best moral choice ever, a fact which only serves to remind her of her earlier sentiments to Gene. "Except I don't remember that. I don't remember him. They took that away from me too." Bitter doesn't cover it. "I was taken to this room… in this place they call 'Building 26'," she explains, an intense glint in her eyes behind too much moisture. "They chained me up, turned on heat lamps to sweat the ice out." No wonder she wants revenge.
What Tracy doesn't realize, while getting worked up with the powerful memories and all manner of angry, hurt sentiments, is that she is not as immune to her own power as one might think. Her hands, wrapped around her bare upper arms, turn subzero, a sudden, deep cold attacking her own skin, even turning it a hypothermic shade of blue like her hands until she swiftly lets go of herself with a gasp of "ah!", backing up as if she could escape herself. "I can't keep this up."
Erin's probably a good person to talk about for understanding all this. She doesn't want this power, she's accidentally hurt people with it, she's dangerous, and she's wanted. But she's never been chained up and tormented, forced to endure something in order to get her power to leave her by some means. It seems like what they did to Tracy only made things worse. "They— Erased your memory?"
Briefly, it occurs to her that she should write for Afterlife. Why? Plausible deniability. It's an excellent cover.
The thought is pushed aside. For now.
That's mostly because of the bubbling rage she can feel creeping up on her. It's the kind that always causes the slightest glittering sheen in her eyes, as if - coinciding with what Tracy previously described - her power is trying to break out. It doesn't, though. For the most part, Erin feels like she has that under control, though she's not sure she could say the same if she'd been imprisoned. "Wh— what, like you were some kind of animal??" Her jaw clenches as she tries to stay in control of her own temper. Tracy doesn't need some strange disease on top of everything else that's going on right now.
"Do these people even know— " Whatever she was going to say would sound horribly selfish. She changes the phrasing slightly. "You and I are— human beings, we're people? I mean, they— Were they going to do that to me if they caught me? Lock me up in some— Anti-viral— thing? And try to get rid of my ability? What about my r— your arms are blue!"
Tracy holds her hands out, arms wide apart, looking down at them with wildly scrutinizing eyes. They are, in fact, blue, all along her biceps up to her shoulders, but already, it's paling. Auto defrost. She takes a breath that's meant to be deep and calming, but winds up all too shaky and interrupted. "…Yeah. That's the kind of people we're up against. The way some of those agents looked at me, Erin…" The man who broke her arm, for instance; Danko, for another.
Erin's not really sure how this didn't hit her until now. Maybe because she escaped and, despite one broken arm of her own, she only had to live through a few days of pain, and a bit of discomfort. The people who are after them, though… It really seems to sink in at that moment. The actress' face is nothing short of horrified, despite all efforts to make her expression more neutral for Tracy's sake.
Looking around as if the kitchen is going to suddenly present some sort of miraculous solution, Erin notes the fact that she's not done cleaning up the glass yet. Reaching for the broom, she decides that maybe she'll just continue sweeping for awhile, though she just ends up pushing the glass around on the floor a bit before thought process takes over and she makes the connection that cold + blanket = comfort. Thank Tanya for that one.
Allowing the broom to fall to the floor - where it lands with a sharp crack, Erin goes on the search for such a blanket, eventually returning with one. After a very obvious hesitation, she approaches Tracy, the blanket held out as if she's about to throw it around her shoulders. "I want… to help," she says, as if it's the hardest thing she's ever uttered in her life. "But I don't know how."
Despite being so wound up that she actually jumps a little when the broom falls so sharply, Tracy manages to smile at Erin when she returns. She reaches out for the blanket to draw it nearer, succeeding in not freezing it or Erin for the time being. "Thanks." Her smile is a tired one, but honest. She pulls the blanket and draws it around her shoulders like an unheroic cape and wanders toward the couch, where she curls into the nearest corner cushion, looking back at Erin, whose statement of wanting to help she pointedly doesn't answer. "Everything was so much easier when our conversations were about martinis."
"Yeah, well. If it weren't for that message from Rebel, we'd still be having conversations about martinis." Except for the fact that Tracy would probably have disappeared off the face of the planet and Erin would have had no idea where she went. Details.
Instead of following Tracy to the couch, Erin only goes as far as the living room side of the counter before she hops up on that. Polite? No. Anyone care? Hopefully not. "So, uh. I guess you're forgiven for telling them about me. Under the circumstances. I would have done the same thing." It's pretty hard to be angry when you know what someone's gone through. Neither of them have any training whatsoever in holding their own against torture. Still inwardly angry, her eyes haven't quite dimmed yet; rather than lash out with her ability, she simply reaches over and bats the nearest item within her reach off the counter. "Fuckers," she mutters under her breath.
If her last conversation with Tracy was scary, this one's pushing her more toward a decision she shouldn't have to make. One that she might eventually regret. But Erin has to protect herself — and her friends. "You shouldn't be on your own tonight. I'm gonna go home, grab some stuff, then I'll be back with some stupid movie. Or reruns of Afterlife or something. And ice cream."
Rebel. That was the message. Tracy knew there was a gap in her mind from that night, but Erin fills it in with that unsurprising detail. Unsurprising but maddening nevertheless. Aside from a more intent stare, she shows little of her realization. Wrapped up in the blanket, knees drawn up onto the couch, in front of her, Tracy at least looks comfortable, cozy, aside from twisting to see Erin. In reality, she's walking a parallel path in her mind, unspoken. That may be why she doesn't scold the actress for trying to break her belongings.
"Okay," she says with a gradual smile, all she'll say of her thanks. "I'll … pass on the ice cream," she adds, tugging the soft blanket closer around her. Shiver. She manages to grin a bit, not passing up a jab. "…and on Afterlife, I'm trying to avoid torture."
If Erin does bring back something to watch, it'll have to be on Tracy's computer, seeing as there doesn't appear to be a TV anywhere in the apartment yet. A far cry from her real place, which has two. "But maybe you can tell me what happened to your hair."