2008-01-18: The Disease Spreads


Erin_icon.gif Peter_icon.gif

Summary: The search for answers continues, with the diseases within growing stronger.

Date It Happened: January 18th, 2008

The Disease Spreads

The Set of Afterlife

It's late on the weekend, probably getting close to 7:00, and it's dark outside. That doesn't matter much in a sound stage, where the lighting is created by spots and beams in order to look like any time of the day imaginable for the cameras. Erin's aware of the late hour, she's aware that everyone's gone home for the night, and yet she's attempting to get a set in place for Monday's shoot. It's really just getting things into place; at the moment, she's working on building up a brick wall. There's a lamp nearby with the wiring already done, but that all needs to be assembled to the light pole prop, and… All in all, she's hoping to be out of here by nine.

She told the rest of the crew to go home. They offered to stay, but Erin likes her time alone, and besides, it feels like she gets things done without people stepping over her all the time. It's easier to concentrate when people aren't talking.

The wall actually looks pretty nice. It's one of those little half-structures on the side of a walk. The set looks like a park, with real grass and everything. Even if they're going to destroy it - one of the actors is leaving the show, so they're murdering the character with vampires - it'll look good when the filming starts. She can give herself some serious credit for this one.


Alone. That's how she's supposed to be right now.

The cameras may not be rolling, but someone who isn't supposed to be there is watching her. During one of his brief stops in a electronic store, he saw her face on the screen. It was the last episode of the week, a cliffhanger ending of sorts, but he knew her face, her eyes— he knew who she was. No one ever told him that the woman who healed him had been in a television show. Then again, Peter'd kept her name close to the chest, as her secret had been important to him.

Either way, it didn't take too much to find out where the show filmed, and by moving around invisible, he'd been able to get inside and onto set. Staying out of the way, avoiding people, he spent most of the day watching and waiting for the time when she would be alone. She may be the only one who can answer the question that he has.

He takes a slow breath, moving away from the wall and fading into visibility. "Erin? I— I need to talk to you." He sounds strained, but the time she met him, he'd been sick, hadn't even had time to recover all the way when she passed out. He's definitely not sick, she could tell that, but there's a strain around his eyes, a tiredness, and a slack in the way he holds his shoulders. He looks like someone who hasn't slept in so long that they're no longer tired.


Her eyes narrow as she realises that she's running out of mortar. That means she'll have to open a new bag and somehow get it poured, which might take some effort. Too bad she sent all her assistants home. Sigh.

Of course, she didn't expect Peter to suddenly appear out of thin air. "What the hell!?" she snaps, wide eyes looking in his direction. At first, she doesn't recognise him, though it's hard to forget the face of the man she cured. Last time they met, he was so sick.

Standing and brushing herself off, she says, "You really aren't supposed to be in here. Dunno how you got in, but while you're around, you can help me pour a bag of mortar into the mixer." As she steps out of the light, there's just the slight hint of a glow fading from her eyes. It's never really a good idea to startle her, but she's getting good at controlling the reaction she usually has.

It's then that she notices that he doesn't really look all that well. Reaching out with her ability, she searches for signs of the virus and finds none. Okay, he's kind of scaring her. "How… did you get in here?" The studio wouldn't have just let him walk in, after all. People need passes. There are rules to follow, and procedure to go through. Yet here he is.


Luckily she has a second set of hands? Or maybe not so lucky. Peter's not looking so good as she turns to meet his eyes. How did he get in here? There's a long pause, as he ponders the best way to answer. The first part gets answered by action, rather than words. He steps forward to look for the bag of mortar and picks it up. He'd been watching long enough that he knows where it is, and where the mixer is. He watched them do this once before. That should help out.

"I got here the same way I appeared just now," he says in a soft voice, turning intangible with one step, and then sliding back into visibility. "My ability isn't like yours— I'm not limited to one. I absorb the abilities of others when I meet them. I have… dozens. I have your ability."

While he says this, he makes the motions to pour the mortar and help with the mixing, keeping his eyes off the woman for the moment. Only when he puts the bag back down does he look back. "That's why I'm here. I need to— to understand your ability. How it works. Before another virus like the Gemini gets released— so that I can stop it before it spreads, so that I can destroy it… so that I can recognize it…"


Erin's grateful that Peter's helping, and she doesn't even attempt to aid him. The more he does, the more she doesn't have to do. She will add the rest of the mixture to the machine, though, and turns it on as Peter pours the powdery mix inside. It'll take awhile to mix up, then she can start on another layer of the mini-wall.

Taking a look around to make sure that none of the crew are lingering, Erin decides it's safe to talk about these things. "I can hardly even deal with one," is her response. "I hate it enough as it is. Can't imagine hav— You have mine?"

She's about to ask Peter if he can help her with it, when he asks for the same thing from her. The look of disappointment on her face is obvious. "…Sorry. You came to the wrong person. I'm not even sure how it works half the time. If you want to recognise it, though, you just reach out. You can feel them. No one gets sick around here anymore, because after awhile, you can't stand seeing them. They're like little— I don't know. It gets to a point where all you want to do is get rid of them. It's easy enough when there's a couple."


"No, you know how it works. You have to," Peter says, done with his part of the work, so he can pay attention fully to her. As soon as she apologizes and says what she does, he starts looking stressed, the upset begins to spread around his eyes, around his mouth, around his eyebrows. "You walked in— you looked at it— you fixed it. You know how it works, you did it. You have to show me how. You don't understand what the people who released this virus are capable of."

He moves closer and actually reaches out to grab her upper arm. "I met you before we met. I know it sounds stupid, but I met you in the future. Two years into the future— actually about five months short of that now, but it was the future. You were there when it happened. When they released the Gemini Virus into the air. That's how it got out. I brought it back with me." He keeps a grip on her, thinking back to that time. Connect with someone. His eyes start to glow, a familiar light that she's never seen in anyone else. The viruses start to spring up— inside her, fighting against her own natural immunities. Something nasty, something harsh.

"I healed you— I saved you— you were the only one I took the time to save after the bomb went off, after the virus got released. You have to show me how to fix this. Before they do it again. Before they do worse." And it would seem he's inadvertatedly creating a situation where she'll be forced to show him how it works— how she defeats a virus within her own system.


Her eyes narrow, head tilting a little as Peter gets worked up about this issue. Her anomoly isn't something she likes to discuss; even if she can use it to help people, Erin hates being abnormal, and it would be so much easier for her if she'd never discovered this. Peter is right, though — she's able to do things with it, but she can't say how.

Involuntarily, she takes a step back. Why did she send her staff home?

"Ah, hey! she says, pulling her arm back, though it's firmly in Peter's grip. Her heart is racing faster, and she's extremely close to letting the virus run its course - to attack him, to incapacitate him. She tries, in fact, but the weird thing about it is that it seems to work better when she's not thinking about it.

"I think you— you're… Let go of me." Again, she tries to pull away as he spouts nonsense about the future, and then she sees his eyes, and her mouth moves wordlessly to get him to stop…

It takes her by surprise. Whatever Peter's doing, it affects her hairway first, closing it up almost completely before she goes limp. It's working her way through her nervous system, disrupting neurons and tearing the inner workings of it apart as it rages. This hasn't ever happened to her before, so at first, she doesn't even fight it, letting it take her down - all the way to the floor, if Peter releases her - so she can throw up what she had for lunch a few hours prior.

Then Peter will see it. The unstable virus he's created is dying, the insides of tiny capsules being frayed like the ends of shoelaces. She's fighting it, but she's starting to lose.

Why, is the question in her mind.

Everyone has deciding moments in their lives. Subconsciously, Erin wonders if this might be one of hers. She knows there are bad people in the world, capable of hurting others. Does she have to go to that level? And if she does, would she be raising herself above, or lowering herself below? She doesn't want that darkness, but the more she looks at her own ability, the more she wonders if she should even bother to fight it. And now? Now she feels like she's dying.

Reaching forward, she wraps her hand around Peter's leg, digging in fingernails. If this is how he wants to play…

While Peter's is chaotic, her own attempt to create a virus in his system is slow and controlled. He'll start to feel the beginnings of a cold; it's her hope that it will get him to stop attacking her.


As she lowers to the ground, Peter moves with her, keeping his grip on her arm even as she falls to the floor. This means he kneels down with her, and gets sick on his shoes and pant cuffs, but he's not caring too much about that. He's too busy watching what's going on inside her— what he can see with her ability. The viruses in her system attacking her, and her attacking them. If he pays enough attention, he'll see it, he'll understand. He'll know how it works. That's how it should be…

There. Right there. If he just watches more, if he makes it last longer—

Then the hand grips his pant leg, and she fights back, pushing against him with a cold. The lightheadedness hits first, just a weakness that makes his hand loosen, and he ends up sitting back on his butt, looking at her. The active fueling of the viruses stop, but his eyes continue to glow. He holds on to her ability. He retains his sight.

"I can see them. I can— just kill them. I'll figure it— figure it out. You don't understand, Erin. I have to understand. I have to know how it works. I have to stop it from ever being used again." Understanding gets such emphasis, as if his life depends on this, as if he life depends on this. As if the lives of everyone depends on it.

There's one— the life of a virus. It'd just been born, multiplied. It attacks her system, or works to eat away at her— and he watches to see her attack it, watches to figure out how it works.

Maybe he needs to look closer— maybe he needs to see more.


It's like death. This is how Taine felt, and Ali. Caleb. It might be what she deserves, but she can't think about that as her lungs fill with fluid and she gives a strangled cry. Blood vessles near her skin start to burst as they break down, and her grip slackens on Peter's leg — not because she wants to let go, but because she's no longer capable of holding on.

She's sweating, but cold. Erin tries to cough, to get the crap out of her lungs, but she can't… There's nowhere for it to go. Stop. Please! she wants to scream. Honestly, she's never been so frightened, even more so now than she was when this first manifested. Certain things about her are unshakable, and one is the need for her own self-preservation.

By this point, she knows she would have exhausted herself, but Peter— keeps going. The viruses inside her are multiplying on their own now without Peter's aid, and there are millions of them. They're appearing faster than Erin can kill them, and eventually… Eventually the light goes out in her eyes, and they close. Her heartbeat is getting weaker, and the nerve paralysis is affecting her breathing to the point where she completely stops attempting it at all. She's dying.


Why— why isn't she stopping them? Peter doesn't realize what is happening until the light goes out of her eyes— until the hand slackens. She's not trying anymore— not fighting. The virus he's watched since it's birth has not died. Why not? The woman who cured the Gemini Virus should be able to fix this. It's no where near as complex. Maybe the best way to understand is do it himself.

For a moment, he's tempted by something deeper, a glance that moves his eyes away from the single virus he picked out, toward her forehead. If he saw her blood, if he had more access to her nervous system, he might be able to figure out how to fix it more…

But no. That's not the way. That way would hurt her even more than he already has.

Sitting up, he ignores the virus rising up in his own system and puts his hands on her head, either side, and consentrates. His grip is strong, tight, almost crushing, and he's looking through her forehead, rather than at her. Each virus is watched as if time has slowed down— maybe it has. There. Right there.

It's like a thread that needs to be pulled, a cog that needs to be put in place. It's just one push in the right direction. One tug to unravel it all.

The glow in his eyes brightens, almost burning, and he attacks the viruses. Not one at a time. But trying to rip apart each one, all at once. It's not gentle. It's not pretty. What he's put her body through is near torture— and the fixing of it is little better.


She's still conscious. It's sort of an unmerciful fate for her, to feel him destroying the virus. It's not quite the same as allowing the unstable viruses to merely fix themselves, and to put her body back to the status quo. He's not undoing it; even if Peter is killing the virus, dismantling it, leaving it harmless in her system, none of the cells are reverting to normal, and she's left with the effect of what happened to her.

Her airways open again, and almost instantly she coughs up the pinkish miasma that filled them, the taste so horrible that she wretches again until there's nothing left. Her body is a patchwork of bruises, her eyes bloodshot and sightless from fever, her limbs stiff and unmoving. The destruction is painful, and she feels every second of it.

When she can, she whimpers. It's unclear as to whether Erin even knows what's going on anymore. Her eyes are open, but staring blankly, and she's shivering.


That wasn't the right way— it worked, it did the job, but it wasn't the right way. Peter visibly frowns as he looks at her body, trying to find what he did wrong, what he needed to do differently. Force wasn't the right method— but lucky for her, he has other abilities at his disposal. Dozens of them, just as he said. And one… one can repair at least part of the damage that he caused in his repairs. There's a settling of his breath, but he doesn't let go of her head. The glow vanishes. There's no viruses left to see. Not on her.

Instead, something new passes over her. It can't heal all the effects of the virus— any of them, really— but the vessel bursting counted as trauma, and that can get squared away, even if it's internal and out of sight.

That didn't go the way he meant it to. Nothing seems to these days. Why can't he just understand how it works? That's how it was supposed to be.

He lets go of her, stumbling away and sitting back on the floor. His eyes shift to his own hands, looking through them. He has to do it right— he has to fix it better.

The glow springs back up, though he's looking visibly tired and weak. Her virus is weak in comparison to what he created— hers has nothing on his. Where is it— where is the key. How does he fix it?

"I didn't do it right… I have to do it right."


There's no release of pain, though her body will thank her later for not being torn up inside. Erin's still numb, and all she can see are vague lights and darks passing in front of her eyes. It occurs to her that she's blind, but the consideration is distant. The more pressing matter is catching her breath, drawing in deep, painful breaths to fill her lungs. The virus was unstable, the damage temporary. Focusing inward, she tries to find the dead virus cells with their frayed genetic information and set them on the road to reversion. Unfortunately, her ability doesn't quite take to the effort very well, since they can usually only heal when they're viable.

Even if she can't see, she can hear, and as she sprawls out on the cool floor, trying to blink the darkness out of her eyes, she tries to help. It might be for her own selfish reasons - she wants him to go away! But she's also aware that this isn't the same guy she met in Cass' lab. There's something a lot more desperate about him.

Reaching out, she touches whatever part of him that she can contact, after a sweeping motion with her hand. "Just… Watch," she says.

Her eyes remain dark, though it's obvious that her ability is working. Instead of pulling apart the viruses, she works just a little more at the threads within them, creating cells, restoring order. There's a point where she's too weak to continue it, though, and she stops. "You. T— trying too hard. Th— they aren't— " Breathe. Breathe. "I can't."


Small fixes— they're far more delicate than he gave them credit for. Peter watches as she tugs on the smaller threats, works on the tiny intricate details— until she can't anymore. Eyes shift up to hers and then back to his hand. He can fix what he did to her, maybe— there's one more ability he can use. Right now he needs to learn. What she showed him so far helps. "It's— delicate," he says softly, realizing what he did wrong. He tried to fix it with a hammer, when he needed a needle.

Watching carefully, he pieces together what she started, and spreads it all over. One small piece at a time. It takes a while. It doesn't hurt. The viruses fade into his system all together, floating away to keep it from re-infecting him in the near future.

There's a slow breath, and he looks up at her. Is it too late? There's still virus cells inside her. Crushed, but not… he pulls on one of them, on the tiny delicate insides. There. That one unravels, ready to float away into her system. He moves on to the next, and the next— one at a time.

When he finishes, he's sweating visibly, trying to keep his breath. He can't even fully sit upright, leaning forward to grab onto the hand that found his pant leg. He squeezes. A few more.

They break down, and he lets it go. Let's it fall away. Now he knows. That's how you do it.

"…now I can stop them… now I can… if they release it… I can stop it." Desperate? That's almost an understatement.


He might just be better at this than she is now.

It was sort of a comedy of errors; Erin knew more than she was aware of, Peter tried to repair the damage in the worst way possible, Erin fought back with a virus, Peter—

He's fixing it.

The chill in her body turns hot as things return to normal. It was a roundabout way of repairing the damage, and she's left exhausted by it, but otherwise okay. Physically.

Her eyes blink and focus. The bright lights on the sound stage are painful, but the fever blindness is gone.

Peter's come upon his answer, but Erin can't be happy for him. The fear is visible in eyes that are dilated despite the bright light, and the fact that she's pushing against the floor in an effort to get away from him, to try to force him to release her hand. The actress is terrified, sore, angry, and if she had any ounce of energy left, she would pay her attacker back in kind. "Now you know. Get the fuck out."


Get out. Peter pulls away from her hands, scooting along the floor a little. He doesn't sounds relieved almost, from the way he's breathing, looking at her. He found what he wanted— he got the answer. One of them. If he can fix the virus, they might not be able to use it against him, against anyone ever again. As long as he's there to stop it. As long as he stands in their way.

Telling him to get the fuck out doesn't seem to phase him. "I never got to thank you properly. Because of your help, I didn't kill everyone that I care about. And maybe now I can save them if it ever happens again. Because I won't let it happen again. I can't." He pushes himself to his feet, eyes closing. He's going to need to actually sleep tonight. A bed. Somewhere to stay. He can't walk the streets, he can't sleep in the cold. Means he needs to get to his feet.

It takes a few long moments, holding his own knees until he straightens all the way.

"I'm sorry. I hope we never have to meet again." It's not the nicest wish to have, but right now… he shouldn't be around anyone. The guilt settles into his eyes— and then he closes them, and vanishes.

Get the fuck out. He can do that.


Erin shudders as Peter vanishes. The sound stage is hot under the lights, and the energy she'll be wasting just lying here is phenomenal. Still shaking, she manages to get to her feet; at least she threw up on the cement floor off the set proper, and that's easy enough to clean up. She does curl up her lip as she gets the mop and bucket, and it does take awhile due to weakness, but by the time she turns off the lights and leaves, the set actually looks better than it did when she got there. Good thing she didn't drive here.

In the cab, she doesn't fall asleep. Instead, she stares out the window, thoughts drifting to how she can get back at the world for this.

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