2010-02-15: Monsters In The Closet



Date: February 15th, 2010


Tracy finally pays her friend a visit, and Erin, among other things, reveals that Alpha Protocol is hiding more than they thought.

"Monsters in the Closet"

Erin's Apartment, Parkiew Estates

New York City

Talking to Cody Baker has left Erin with a lot of questions. Questions that she will think about and fret over at some point, but not now. Ah, the ability to turn off your stress when you need to is wonderful! Except, in this case, it's more like denial. How can someone who is potentially decent work for someone who… Well, Erin doesn't usually throw around the word 'evil' without just cause, but she can only describe the Alpha Protocol as evil.

Selling Evolved as weapons.

Nope! Not thinking about that right now. At the moment, she's in the kitchen, looking at whatever's cooking on the stove, and really wishing she hadn't decided to try to cook anything. What was once supposed to be boiled potatos is now some sort of charred mess. Where did all the water go? Why does it look like cat vomit? If she put it in the fridge for a few days, would it develop sentience?

Sighing, she pokes at it with a plastic spoon, pulls it off the stove, and heads over toward the sink to get rid of it.

The water runs for awhile before something strange happens. Following the easiest path, water that's already running, Tracy chooses the kitchen sink as the avenue through which to pay a visit.

The flowing water pooling in the sink begins to defy the typical laws regarding how water is supposed to behave: it takes a course up and over the sink toward Erin. It acts as normal as can be when it spills off the edge, pooling onto the floor with a splash — but then it starts to move on its own, in a steady, winding stream that trails out of the kitchen on an expedition to Erin's bedroom.

She could be hallucinating. After all, Erin is tired. But after casually rubbing her eyes with the back of her hand and then seeing that the water is still moving strangely, the actress is juuuust slightly alarmed. The pot she'd been scrubbing drops to the floor. Thankfully, the boiled potatos are now so caked to the inside of it that they all stay in the pot. Thank goodness for small favours, huh?

Her first thought, because Erin's mind automatically goes to the worst possible scenario, is that she's already being confronted about Hamm's sudden death. That was quick! The fact that they have Evolved in their ranks only strengthens this theory, and Erin reaches down for the pot, intending to use it as a makeshift weapon.

Wait a second.

Inwardly shaking her head, she drops the cookware - again - and allows her ability a little freedom of its own. Her eyes glow, dim compared to some of the lights that are on in the apartment.

On Afterlife, when you follow after something suspicious, you either wind up dead, or missing-presumed-dead for a handful of episodes. And when you return, you're a god-damned were porcupine. While this is a bad idea, Erin follows after the… water. She's seen this before - the kid, Jamie. However, the fact that this is coming on the heels of Erin's first intentional murder is too coincidental. She'll just go ahead and expect the worst.

The water, as it happens, has an oddly specific destination. It disappears under the door of Erin's walk-in closet. The faint but distinct sound of moving water emanates from behind the door before the light turns casually on inside. Yet another short-lived moment later, a very wet Tracy opens the door, well aware that Erin is close behind and probably somewhat alarmed. She, on the other hand, presently looks like the picture of calm and casual, halfway through tying the belt of a borrowed light blue robe around her waist. "Nice robe."

In her closet. "What the— "

Erin starts, eyes narrowing as the water makes its way under her door. Why does all this seem so normal? Why is this not making her flip out? It should! And yet she finds herself completely wrapped up in the curiosity of why water would want to be in her closet.

It's a bad idea to surprise Erin. At best, and any particular time, she's got a good hold on her ability, but she can always feel it there. Learning to control it when she's angry was pretty easy, since she's angry quite often. Surprise is another story entirely. When the closet opens, the only thing she can picture in her mind's eye is someone holding a gun to her. She falls back onto the queen-sized bed, and as her entire life flashes before her eyes, she loses control of her ability.

Tracy has barely looped and tugged the soft belt into a secure not before she weaves to one side to hurriedly steady herself against a closet shelf, dizzy. It's next to impossible to discern sweat from droplets of water on her forehead, but it's there — what's obvious is that Tracy looks a little sick, pale and flushed both (not that Erin is bothering to look and see that there is not, in fact, a monster in her closet).

Fevered by who knows what virus, she jogs out of the closet with her hands up. She surrenders to her friend's paranoia! She's not a threat! Stop making her sick! She doesn't want a repeat of the rabies incident of '09. "Erin. Erin!" she calls out, her adamant reassurances ever-so-slightly tinged with a frantic edge. She knows how dangerous her friend is. "It's me. It's Tracy. You can stop what you're doing." (Now would be good.)

Not someone out to kill her, then. Awesome. "T— tracy? You're— ?" Alive? HERE? She can think of a number of different adjectives to describe Tracy at this very moment! Seriously, she did get the list, though she had no idea where Tracy had been for the last couple weeks. "Uh— Hang on."

This one aspect of her power is one she might never understand. It only takes a second to find and kill all the viruses in Tracy's system. They were unstable, easily broken. Within seconds, she'll be feeling just fine again. Erin's a little tired, but she'll probably feel that later.

This is one of those moments where friends who are happy to see each other usually hug. Except for the fact that Tracy is kind of naked and wearing her robe. Insert standard McCarty greeting of relief here: "What the hell, Tracy! I didn't know you could do that! You could at least try the god damned front door! For crying out loud." She pauses, taking a couple deep breaths until her heart rate is back somewhere in the normal range. "That was pretty awesome."

That was a sudden burst of illness Tracy really didn't need after the day she's had, but she can't really fault Erin for it. She'd have done the same. She moves half out-of-breath to the bed and leans down on it, planting her hands on the mattress and regaining her wellbeing for a few seconds before sitting down properly; she feels fine now, but it takes a second to adjust from being dizzy to the room being very still again. Not one-hundred percent dried off, she left a thin trail of water from the closet to the bed.

"I didn't wanna risk being seen." It was easier. "Yeah, I didn't I could do it either until about a month ago," she answers, bitter no matter how "awesome" it is. Instead of explaining, Tracy fixes Erin with a critical stare laced with concern. "How've you been?"

Erin slouches a little, relaxing on the bed, knowing that her number isn't up just yet. That is, unless Tracy's decided that capturing Evolved is a much better use of her time. Somehow, Erin doubts that.

Her eyes still have an unnatural shine to them, and might still for a little while yet. They glance toward the trail of water from the closet, and all she can think of to say is, "So, if you want to lose a few pounds, you really can just melt it off?"

Funny. Really.

"What happened to you? I haven't seen you in— God, I dunno how long. A lot's happened." Stuff that Erin's not sure she'd be able to explain entirely, like adopting a kid who accidentally killed her mother, just for starters. "You can cross Agent Hamm off your list. What a ridiculous name. I mean, what do people say when they see him coming? 'AAAAH. HAM.' It sounds so lame."

The joke is met with the vaguest hint of a smile and a quiet laugh; the news about the agent is met with a slow, accepting nod and a grim tensing of Tracy's lips. It's an expression that happens to be more natural to her today than smiling. "A lot's happened," she echoes. "The Protocol might think I'm dead… until today at least." She pauses, glancing away, her voice diving lower. "…now I'm not so sure."

She doesn't seem proud of what happened. It's become necessity. Kill them, or be captured. Traded as weaponry? "Did you know what they're doing?" Erin suddenly asks, deciding that, given the circumstances, Cody may just possibly be telling the truth.

Unlike Tracy, Erin hasn't quite lost her ability to smile yet, despite what she knows. And even if she didn't want to smile, she's an actress. She gets paid to pretend she's happy. (Or sad, or scared, or whatever.) "Well, look, you don't have to tell me, if you don't want to. But if you need a place to stay, my door's— " She pauses. Might not be such a good idea. "…Open. Just be careful of the kid." Lighting and water? She likes her apartment in one piece, thanks. "I know they know I'm here. I just think taking me out would put way too much interest in them, you know? An actress disappears, and everyone's looking for her? Not exactly subtle. You'd prob'ly be safe here, 'cuz of that."

When's her luck going to run out? She's sure it will, eventually. Looking at Tracy, Erin considers her previous statement about Tracy not having to talk about it. "You know, I'm bad at this whole shoulder to cry on thing, but if you want to talk, you can."

Tracy looks back to Erin, thoughtful, but busies herself with running a hand through her wet hair and squeezing the dark blonde ends — rather than red, as it had been coloured before — onto the fabric of the robe. "I know enough— " So she thinks, anyway, but she also knows they're keeping their (un)fair share of secrets. De Souza was one such clue. " —to know they hafta be stopped." That's enough to have acted on it. The edge to her voice fills in the blanks. She has acted on it.

She twists on the edge of the bed to face the actress more. "I … I could use…" It's hard for Tracy, sometimes, to ask for help, even from someone she counts as a friend. "I could really use somewhere to stay," she admits with the tiniest of thankful smiles. It's short-lived. "But Erin— your fame's not gonna keep you safe forever. They took Nathan and he's a US Senator." Did Erin know the Senator has an ability also? Well, she does now. "At least I think they did. News is saying he's sick, but no one can reach him, and just before he disappeared he was green-lit to check out their base've operations. Pretend that he was on their side. It's not a coincidence."

"I don't doubt they're trying to find a way to get to me," she says, somewhat disheartened by the fact that her excuse probably isn't going to last very long. "But seriously. C'mon. I'll cross that bridge when I come to it." Thinking on her feet, Erin is! Maybe - just maybe - she should consider other options. She can't just hide, though… She'd lose her job. Her career would be over. It's one thing to 'fall' off a suspended walkway and get paid leave, but to just disappear for no reason…

Senator. Nathan. "You mean Petrelli? Nathan Petrelli?" It's the only Nathan she knows who happens to be in government. "He had this virus. Something bad. I cured it. It's probably the first good thing I ever did with this… thing I can do."

Of course, then she killed all the sugar maples in the midwest. OOPS.

"Well— well look. Look, we'll figure something out. I always do. And besides, that Cody Baker on that list? She's trying to take them down from the inside. I almost— Nevermind that. She's… I'm pretty sure she's telling the truth. So we have her, and…"

Ugh. Janet. "I really didn't know Janet was with them. She thinks she's doing 'good.' Helping people."

The cold in Tracy's softens somewhat; it's a surprise, what she did for Nathan, and it strikes her as kind of heartening that Erin's ability can cure as well as kill. Hers… so far it's just made her a killer. And good at navigating sewer systems.

She sighs. "The fact that haven't gotten to you a second time only means they must be busy with something else." Something to think about, really. What's so important to put off the girl who can create a plague? "What'd you think they were gonna do the first time they came after you, give you a slap on the wrist? You better start thinking about your bridge." Erin likes Tracy for her directness, right? She certainly doesn't mince words right now.

As for the rest of the news, she sighs again and gives a conceding lean of her head to the left. "I didn't guess you knew about your sister. Not everyone there deserves— " The revenge they're exacting. " — some of them're okay. I left off some names; some I'm still trying to figure out. I left Janet for you to figure out. So what's the deal with Baker?"

"Yeah, I know that," Erin grumbles, turning away a little. She didn't want to believe it, but she's known. Hearing it pisses her off, though, since all she really wants to do is live her life. That's about what she told Hamm before she left him to die.

Suddenly, she's starting to feel the tiredness that comes from trying to rein in her power. "No, I know what they're gonna do," Erin says quietly, which is a perfect segue into the question of what's up with Baker. "Cody Baker is… Well, she's like us. She has this ability to— This is gonna sound crazy, but she controls… hair? I dunno, it was kinda weird. She showed me all this stuff after I almost killed her. Told me to get these materials to her boss. There's this whole… cell of people trying to take the Alpha Protocol down from the inside, I mean, if she told me the truth. Honestly, if I was dyin' of yellow fever, I'd prob'ly say anything to get out of it, too."

But there's more.

"Tracy, the reason Evolved people are being captured? There's this group of people trading us as weapons. Human weapons. I don't know how they'd get anyone to do what they wanted them to do, but, hell, if they have this whole thing set up, there must be a way." And Janet's helping them. "I told Janet about what they're doing. Even showed her what I could do. She wouldn't listen. And I'm kinda scared that there's someone else out there that might have her on a list, too."

"Weapons?" Tracy sounds as offended as if the notion had been Erin's idea. Human weapons. Her first reaction is from the gut, understandably angry, but then the gears in the (former? off-work?) advisor's head turn as she processes more analytically. Brows lifting a touch, she focuses on Erin closely. "Remember when I said I was missing memories?" God, when was that — December? "Well I got them back, 'n' I know who took them. It was the Secretary of Homeland Security. Marilyn de Souza? She had t'be pulling AP's strings, there's no way she wasn't. She could've had a different endgame." Like a weapons trade. But she's dead now and AP is obviously still a threat. Bothered, Tracy's jaw tightens. "So what're you gonna do about Janet?"

"Weapons. I was a little too preoccupied to really think about it at the time." Cody did tell her that with an ability like hers, she really ought to be careful.

Leaning forward, Erin puts her head in her hands. "Cody gave me a couple names. I can only remember one. It was her boss… some guy named Pyle. Christopher Pyle. She said it a couple times. There were a bunch of other people. Middle Eastern, but that's all I got."

As for Janet… "Jan and I had this huge blowup a couple years ago. Then outta nowhere, her and I had the same dream. It was her … euthanising me. I was in this cell, and… I guess I couldn't take it anymore, 'cuz I asked her to kill me. So I went over there, and— I thought it was just 'cuz I saw her name on the list, but she had the same damn dream. I can't talk sense into her, though. Heh. She'd probably listen to you better than she'd listen to me."

Christopher Pyle. Considering, Tracy files the wholly unfamiliar name away. "They call us terrorists… and they want to make us terrorists?" That's what it sounds like. Suffice to say, she'll be trying to find out more. She draws both knees up comfortably to one side (modestly) and idly rubs one shoulder where it was struck earlier in the day.

"Look, I— " The woman sighs. "I dunno," she goes on to relpy honestly as she thinks about Janet McCarty's particular placement. "I'd be more than willing to convince your sister, if it's even possible, but how do I know she's not going report me to the people he works for?"

"Yeah. Yeah, actually, now that you mention it, Baker said something about me not being a terrorist yet. So, yeah. Just imagine me unleashed on some poor town. I don't even want to think about that."

Hiding is starting to look pretty good at the moment. Pride makes people stupid, though, and Erin is no exception.

"I have no idea what she'll do. She hasn't said anything about me yet, I don't think. I mean, I'm her sister, but we're not exactly on good terms. Plus, I killed her plant. You know, she was more concerned about that plant than she was about me? It's stupid, but…" It kind of stung.

"She's a doctor. She says she's a good doctor because she helps people. Even terrorists. She doesn't get that the people who're being held aren't terrorists. And I mean, even if she did report you, it'd be easy for you to get away, wouldn't it? Just make sure you're never far away from a drain."

Tracy gives Erin a sympathetic look before she nods and says, "Yeah, except some of 'em are smart and carry the stuff that takes away abilities. It's temporary, but it cut me short earlier today. I had to run." Which means Tracy might already be back on the radar; with Max, she surmises it could go either way. "The people in there— they need help. They need doctors. Maybe the Protocol's just pulled the wool over her eyes a little too tightly." She gives a pause and sighs, but it's thoughtful, not exasperated… for the most part. "I'll talk to her."

"Shit," Erin says blandly. She knows what that //stuff/ does. It was kind of weird not being able to use her ability for that little while. Her mind was more on the badly broken arm, of course.

"Janet being there bothers me. I'm supposed to protect her or something, I guess. Now she's so wrapped up in not being me that she won't even listen to me anymore. I've… Changed a lot since the last time we spoke. It'd be nice if she'd give me a chance. Good luck with her. And do that thing with the coming through the faucet. It'll freak her out. Then tell her that's for loving her plant more than her sister." Erin stands, feeling the weight of tiredness taking over. Maybe she'll just skip dinner tonight. "I don't really have a spare bedroom anymore, but you can sleep on the couch. Whatever. Stay or don't, I'm going to need to get some sleep after you scared the hell out of me."

"I'll see what I can do." Following suit, Tracy she slides off the bed slowly, smoothing down her (Erin's) robe briefly. "I might have to steal from your closet again … limited … as those options are." Tracy is tall. Erin is … not. She smiles more genuinely; like Erin, however, she looks tired and thus so does her smile. "Thanks." She steps ahead, but suddenly pauses, a word catching in her throat as she gives the other woman a strange, suspicious, and very overdue look, reminded by the spare bedroom comment. "Hey Erin…?" she starts uncertainly. "…what kid?"


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