Date: December 13th, 2009
Erin meets her newest co-star and establishes a few ground rules for Beth to follow.
"A Cookie a Day"
Erin's been here on and off for the last couple weeks, but this is her first real day back on set after medical leave for the horrendous falling-off-the-walkway incident that most people here - save Taine - don't know the half of. Of course, she can't tell people she was attacked. Everyone just gets to think she's a god-damned klutz. And that? Well, along with everything else ever, that makes Erin grumpy.
She's not filming today. No… She just has to make sure some little snot vampire they hired while she was away doesn't mess up her set. Erin dislikes kids. Especially kid actors, because she was one once, and she has that to blame for the fact that she can't stay in any sort of committed friendship without trying to kill someone. That's how she feels today, anyway. Hey, when you get up early enough to take an hour-long shower, you have time to think about these things.
Her arm's still in a cast, though she uses that one to pluck the clip-board from the temp director's hand as she passes. "God, what the hell did you people do to this place," she wonders, turning her back to the poor temp as he starts to ask a question. She adds, for his benefit, "I'm in an extremely bad mood," and he wisely decides to wander off, leaving Erin to look over his notes.
If Erin even knew half of the gossip that's circulated following her medical leave, she'd probably turn on one heel and walk right off again. Beth is quiet enough when not in front of the camera that she's been overlooked during the worst of the gossip sessions. As a result, the thirteen year old has been treated to all of the sordid (and entirely false) theories that creative imaginations are capable of dreaming up. Her own nerves are wound somewhat tight as a result, a condition that was not helped by having to listen to Mrs. Thorne's hundredth diatribe on how unfair it is that she's no longer to attend each episode's filming. It was not a happy car ride.
This is why Beth is looking a little peaked around the eyes, and pale in the lips, a fact which is not entirely due to the make-up that was plastered on an hour ago. She hasn't been to wardrobe yet, so as she wanders the hall with a script clutched to her chest, she looks a little odd— a miniature vampire's face on a young teen's lanky body. The pink track suit is comfortable but hardly suitable for a bloodthirsty ancient.
Rounding the corner, she stops dead in her tracks upon seeing THE Ms. McCarty standing right in her way. When her stomach performs a sudden somersault, Beth lets out an involuntary, "Oh!" before going a faint shade of pink (that heavy powder is useful, if not entirely attractive). "H-hi, Ms. McCarty. You're…you're back!"
What would Taine do in a situation such as this? Be nice, probably. It seems fair to think about what he'd do, given that he doesn't tend to alienate everyone on the set. Still, looking over her clipboard at the younger girl doesn't exactly make her smile. "Hnh," is her response as she pulls a pet out of her pocket and starts scribbling all over the temp's notes. "You know, this guy can't run a set to save his life. I'm surprised the entire studio didn't burn down while he was gone." Mostly, she's talking to herself; it's as if she's forgotten Beth's there, and it's only by coincidence that she catches the vampire out of the corner of her eye again.
She seems surprised that the girl is there.
So. Nice. She can do this. Sure, she's out of practise and really irritated at the world, but— Clearing her throat, she looks at the notes, back at the girl, and then says, "What— was your name again?"
Not the best introduction. Erin knows somewhere in the back of her mind. It's just hard to keep the new people on the set straight. "Wait, I've seen you around here before." Blue eyes narrow just a little. "Your mother is one of the most god-awful people I've ever met."
When God was handing out tact, Erin was not in line. "Kinda reminds me of my mother. I'm surprised you're not running around set demanding gourmet cookies or something."
During the scribbling and muttering, Beth was seriously tempted to just creep backwards and disappear the way she came. Grumpy people are not her forte. She seems to shrink behind the script, using it as a shield, and even goes so far as to ease back one step…only to be caught up short as Erin launches into her version of introduction and small chat. Big blue eyes blink owlishly at the woman while the girl considers possible answers.
"Um." Aren't actresses supposed to be well-spoken? "I'm Bethany, ma'am."
That's right, Erin. You're now officially a ma'am.
"I…I started before you fell, yes ma'am. I…she." That hint of pink beneath the stage makeup deepens to a near red while Beth shifts awkwardly on her feet. "She's not allowed on set anymore, they told her while you were away." Pause. "I'm not allowed to have cookies, ma'am. Are you…filming today?"
There's that tiiiny hint of a smile that pulls at the corner of Erin's lips. The kid hasn't been ruined yet - not like Erin herself was. Mrs. McCarty really tried to destroy Erin's siblings, too, but by that point, all the old harpy's concentration was on her eldest. Lucky for the triplets. "Ma'am? I'm only thirty. Erin's fine."
What's this kid's mom's name again? Erin'll just go ahead and call her 'Shrew.' Not that it matters anyway - it's not like there's parent-teacher conferences on the set ever, and even if there were, Erin would be far, far away. "Thank god," she says, finally tossing the clipboard onto a cart headed for the nearest soundstage. Someone'll find it. And when they do, there's going to be angry red lines all over it and words that can't be repeated on TV.
Erin's smile fades when Beth states that she's not allowed to have cookies. What. "No, not filming— " She holds up her arm. She has a couple weeks before that comes off yet. "I figure the script'll slot me back in just about the time I get this thing off. Anyway." She puts the un-broken arm around Beth's shoulders. "You're coming with me."
Erin. The girl's lips move silently as she tries to imprint that on her memory, over the knee-jerk politeness of "ma'am". "You can call me Beth," she responds, because that is the ritual, isn't it? One uncertain glance is spared for the clipboard as it goes sailing before she fastens her gaze on the woman's face again. It would not take a script to tell that Beth is projecting surprise, something that only deepens when an arm finds its way around her shoulders.
"Um, I have to go to wardrobe and then get my hair fixed, ma'a—Erin. If I'm late it'll throw everyone off, and it'll be my fault." The memorized caution successfully repeated, Beth then allows a glint of curiosity to show through. "Where are we going?"
"If you're late, they can blame me. Very important business. Look." For a moment, she swings Beth around, hands planted on the girl's shoulders. Who the hell knows why the thought crossed her mind, and hell, maybe it's one of those passing things that Erin'll just forget about tomorrow. But she can't let this kid fall apart like she did. Sure, this is a little different. Erin's mother always insisted that Erin was better than everyone on set, which did it's own type of damage. But to take the fall for everything at— "What are you, nine? Ten?" she asks. "Whatever. I don't care. This? Is fun. It's a game. It's probably the most fun anyone could ever have while working. Filming doesn't start for— " She checks her wrist, which has no watch on it. "At least an hour. You're good. And likes I said," she adds with a smile, "If you're late, they'll blame me."
Her arm goes back around the younger girl's shoulder. Instead of leading her to wardrobe, Erin takes her right onto the soundstage. There's always a table with refreshments… Slim pickings today, but there's enough. She nods at a plate of cookies. "Go on. I won't tell."
Fun? Beth threatens to require a second trip to make-up by scrunching her face up in confusion at the words of wisdom being bestowed upon her by the senior actress. "It's…I'm thirteen. And Mom says it's my job. You can't just goof around on the job…and what about the director?" A man so intimidating that she can't even put a name to him! He could yell! "I don't want you to get in trouble, you're…you're Erin McCarty!"
Because of that small detail, there's no resistance in her bony little frame as she's steered towards the soundstage, and from there towards the Forbidden Table. Naturally, the plate of chocolate chip cookies is set right beside the platter of carrots and celery slices. So Beth gets to look between the two, fidgeting again with premature guilt before finally reaching for the less suitable treat.
"Are you going to have one too?" she asks, glancing up at Erin for reassurance.
"Yeah. Yeah, it's a job. Sure." And Erin works with the most idiotic crew ever. EVER. Not that she really thinks they're stupid; they're actually really awesome, but she likes to keep them on their toes. And at arm's-length.
"So what? Look, if they didn't kick you out of here because of your mother, they're not just gonna up and fire you 'cuz you mess up a take. You see how many people blow their lines? They're still here. It happens."
Erin's threatened to hit some of the people she's been in scenes with right in the middle of a take, for example.
Is she going to have a cookie? Hah. Funny question to a person who regularly takes Taine out on 'dates' to McDonald's. "Already had two," she says proudly, grabbing another one in the process. Short work is made of the wonderful box-bought cookie before she comes up with a question of her own for the young actress. "How many friends do you have on set, Beth?"
Beth is less voracious in eating the cookie, nibbling on the edge while continuing to study Erin's face. The advice is slowly pulling a smile from the girl though. There's tentative amusement lurking beneath the surface. Yes, she'd heard the gossip about Miz McCarty's confrontations with various members of cast and crew as well. But actually talking with the woman, she doesn't seem so intimidating. Or scary. Or likely to tear Beth's hair out at the roots.
"I don't know. Everyone's been really nice to me but I don't really talk to anyone. They're busy." And she is a thirteen year old with nothing in common with any of them. It limits interactions to a certain degree, even if Hazel weren't part of the mix. "Do you…do you think they might fire me if Mom comes back? She wants to."
"See? That's what you've been missing." Not allowed to have cookies. Of all the stupid rules. Seriously. Kids + Cookies = Natural World Order. You can't have one without the other, or everything falls apart. True fact.
On a normal day, Erin is… respected. She doesn't like many people, though she'll do little things for the denizens of the set to help, when she can. It's just that she isn't good with the whole closeness thing. Not really. She doesn't recall ever tearing out anyone's hair, though… In the past year, anyway. And that timespan between hair-tearing totally counts as a clean slate. Leaning down so she's meeting Beth's eyes, she says, "You're talking to me." Smile.
The question about the Shrew does cause a frown to pass across Erin's face. She could just tell Beth that everything will work out, but she's neither familiar with talking to children, nor is she inclined to lie. "Look. Let's say you went to school for something for years, and some woman walks into your place of employment and tells you how to do things. That's… just a set disruption we can't have. That's why she's not here… And you are. Take from that what you will." Shrugging, she turns back to the plate of cookies. Three already… What's one more? "What do you want?"
The lean and the steady gaze is enough to pull what had been a small smile into full blossom. Erin has now officially found her way into the nice books, so far as Beth is concerned. "I was really scared about meeting you. I mean, meeting you for real," she confesses, without thinking to censor herself. "Thank you. I…" Pause. "This is a really good cookie."
To prove it, and to earn perhaps more approval from the elder actress, Beth takes a slightly larger bite from the first she's still working on.
As for the question, she has an answer for that. It's immediate, and well-polished. It's worthy of a sound-byte. "I want to do my best here on the show. I really like the character, and being a part of all of this. I never thought I'd be able to do something as neat as 'Afterlife', after all of those commercials." She hesitates then before adding earnestly, "And I don't want to get fired."
Scared? Erin chuckles. "Yeah, that's what everyone says." She seems proud of this fact, which she probably shouldn't. But when you've ground yourself so far into any one particular role, you kind of start to believe that that's really who you are. And whether or not Erin's of the belief that her mother ruined her, well, this is who she is now. Might as well enjoy it. "So, at least one cookie a day when you're on set. That's the rule."
They'll just have to hope the Shrew doesn't find out.
There's another eyebrow-raise as Beth spouts back a line that might as well have been right from a script. Babysteps, though. That's something they can tackle later. "I think it's about time to get you to wardrobe, yeah? Last time I checked, vampires don't wear pink."
She's only finished half of the cookie but when Erin lays down the rule, Beth does make an effort to eat the rest of it a little faster. Nom nom nom. A happy sigh follows, while she reaches for a paper napkin to dab the remaining crumbs from her lips. Suddenly it doesn't seem like such a terrible thing if the make-up artist lectures her on smearing the grease paint, or if she has to exercise another fifteen minutes in the morning so those chocolate chips don't go right to her narrow hips.
"Maybe they should…I mean, if I'm supposed to evil, I would seem more evil if I wore pink, wouldn't I? Because looks can be deceiving." Clearly this is something Beth has been thinking about in the quiet time between takes, and she's all to happy to babble it out to her new friend (Erin McCarty!) as she turns from the table. "But I guess maybe Cordelia shouldn't. She's already always in black."
Hard to believe this kid is playing the show's ultimate evil. At least for now, until the script writers suddenly get the best idea ever and Cordelia is suddenly a good guy. It'll happen. This is, after all, a soap opera. Plus, they'll have to do something to account for her aging after awhile. Not a problem on a show like Afterlife, where you can be a vampire one minute, a mortal the next, and then… Well. Back to being undead.
"Bring it up." She shrugs. "Worst they can do is say no, right? Believe me, I know all about 'no.' I spent the last week getting them to try to change this … role … they want me to play when I'm back in front of the camera. Seriously. A were porcupine? Where do they come up with this bullsh— " Trailing off, she looks at Beth. "Nevermind. Anyway, they say no, you just suck it up and get on with it."
Beth transfers the script from under her elbow to her chest again, securing it in place by crossing both arms over it. It's a defensive shift, accompanied with a startled glance. "You mean…tell them? The writers? I couldn't do that…" But denials are soon set aside as she gets to enjoy Erin struggling with the implications of her character's newest incarnation. The giggle that escapes her is muffled, and quickly stifled completely under one hand.
"Porcupines are scary! No one's going to want to mess with Morgan if she gets angry." When she gets angry. It's going to happen, if only to show off the fancy costume and make-up the designers are drooling (and snickering) over.
She turns herself in the direction of wardrobe and ambles along, fighting to get the amusement off of her face before the mask cracks or something.
Admittedly, Erin has work to get back to, too. There's an entire set to repair, because of the bumbling idiot crew that she has that she'll never ever fire because they're the best and she loves them all. "Scary. Porcupines are rodents," she notes with a scowl. Though as Beth turns away, Erin rolls her eyes and smiles. They so wanted a chance to get her, and they knew she'd hate this.
Ah, well. Erin can deal. Taine's gotta be loving this. Finally, he's not the only one getting picked on. "So. See you on set," she says to Beth's back, before heading in the opposite direction without a goodbye.