2010-02-23: The One You're Stuck With



Date: February 23, 2010


Cody gets a room mate… and a case of herpes.

"The One You're Stuck With"

NYC - Under an Overpass

This isn't usually the place where someone would want to have a meeting. It's cold, damp, and disease likely lingers in the rodent denizens in such quantities that you could get rabies just by looking at them wrong.

It is a step up from a sewer, at least. The old drainage ditch goes under a bridge that hasn't seen construction and revitalization in decades. The bridge, made of concrete and twisted metal, is no longer safe for cars to cross, and yet, the occasional vehicle passes over it, the road leading into the safer parts of the city. From the main road, a dilapidated asphalt path, cracked and broken with years of abuse, leads down to the ditch. Scattered on the path are all sorts of unsightly things - dead rats, dead pigeons… Their leavings. Rusty nails, broken boards, old toys and wrappers from fast food restaurants that no one bothered to throw away properly. The ditch itself is wide; it's fed by a sludgy drainage pipe just under the bridge, which spews for dirty brown water from the nearby industrial district.

Eventually, this will empty out into the Great Lakes. Wonderful.

Besides the dead rats on the path, there are many dozens of live rats here. At the moment, they seem peaceful enough; they aren't bothering the homeless person wrapped in layers of cloth under the bridge, at least. Whoever it is sits on probably the best-looking rock there. The rest are covered with pigeon crap, snow, and moss.

A car drives up to the alleyway leading down to the ditch. Cody would have been told very little, though Morris seemed to think the source who claimed to have information about Evolved in the area was on the level. There were no directions to come unarmed. In fact, the informant requested it for the agent's own safety, if the need arose.


The request of weaponry was met with a small smile, Cody never travels far without her favorite Glock, or side pockets filled with powerbars. As the vehicles drives through the scurrying vermin, Cody's stomach growls and she reaches for one of them. It's been a while since she crunched into one of the skulking creatures, at least a year, if not more. Though New York rat isn't something she'd try unless it was absolutely necessary. The city is a filthy place to live, and filthy places lead to disease.

"Man, tagging anyone that lives here would be doing them a favor…" Cody says in a low voice as she bites into the bar. She chews slowly as she surveys their surroundings. It's a good thing that Morris drove, because Cody wasn't about to take her bicycle this way and she wasn't going to sign out a government vehicle on the hunch of another agent. "Have you met this informant before?" She questions, the area alone is enough to give someone the heebie jeebies Besides evolved, who knows what else is crawling around in the filth. Without a word, Morris stops the car and shrugs as he gets out and opens the door for the blonde agent.

Once Morris peels off, she takes a stock of her weaponry. Dart gun at her side, handgun on her other, knifes on her calves, and a nice collapsible baton stuck to her sleeve. She's covered, unless she's faced with a ranged weapon that could kill in an instant… it's happened before, it could happen again.


The vagabond under the bridge smiles. Under all that generic cloth, she's actually wearing nice clothes. That's because the 'homeless' woman is really everyone's favourite walking plague.

There's a reason Erin's wearing the thick cloth. It's several inches from skin to cold, and while she's quite hot in all of it, she knows that a dart won't go through it. The only thing exposed is her face. They'd have to shoot her in the face, and they'd have to do it before she covered it with her arm.

Erin was careless before, and she's not taking chances now, even if she thinks Cody is one of the good guys.

And so Erin, upon hearing Cody's voice, turns her head. She stands, leaving the perfect rock behind, in order to meet the agent at the bottom of the alley. The ground is soggy with melted snow, and the edges of her makeshift robe are soaked. If it means she can't be darted, though, she'll live with it, even if it is uncomfortable.

"Here's the deal. None of these rats have rabies now, but if you try anything, all of them will." She eyes at least a dozen that are out in the open. How many dozens more are hidden in the rocks and trash piles here? "I can't tell 'em to attack you, but I guarantee they will if they're rabid. I can cure myself." And she leaves the rest of the threat unspoken. Erin's not really afraid of being bitten anymore, not after everything else she went through.


If Cody was going to try anything, she doesn't show it. Her eyes flit to the amount of rats nearby, then to the overpass itself, then her fingers wiggle almost indescernably. The the astute, all of those actions put together might indicate that the woman is calculating her chances and various routes of escape but for now she remains facing the 'homeless' lass.

"Good to see you took the bodybag route. Mustn't have been easy getting out of there." Even though Cody's beyond startled right now, she's not going to let her voice quiver even a little. She's been in tougher situations, Wilburina and all of her little Bens aren't going to rattle her. "You obviously must have wanted to see me, why?"

The rustle of some of the garbage nearby has Cody's blue eyes darting around her again. Those crazy naked tails and disgusting teeth… beady little eyes. It makes the bile rise up in the back of her throat, there's no way she's going to die here. Pressing her sleeve against her side, the metal bar of the collapsible stick makes her feel just a little better.


"Partially to gloat," Erin admits. She keeps her distance from the hunter, arms crossed in front of her. Paranoid, in a lot of ways, though she'd call it 'careful.' While she could invite Cody to sit down on any one of the disgusting nearby rocks, she doesn't. "If you're having any thoughts on taking me back, just kill me. Seriously. I'm not gonna whine or beg for my life, but if you're gonna take me back there? I'll have to beg. And that's just embarrassing."

The robe hides her injuries. While the scar on her arm was kind of a 'trophy' of her escape, the bruises on her wrists are just reminders that she just wasn't good enough to evade the Protocol a second time. There's a good bruise on her forehead, though the cut is covered by a regular strip bandage. The latter, she points to. "And I figure you owe me for this. I was acting. Like I said - make it real. You just like hurting people, don't you?"

An ironic statement, coming from Erin.

In a way, she's much more dangerous than she was that night in Cody's apartment, because she knows what she's facing if she gets caught. She's cornered. "First, I want to know if you're serious about stopping the Protocol from the inside. If you are, you're about the only person I can really trust right now." She doesn't say how she got out. She'd just love to rub it in Cody's face, but if this double agent is working for the AP, anything she says could hurt her sister.

"Second, I need you to come up with a safe place for me to stay. I don't care where. As long as it's not where I was. The only person who should know about that is you. Do that for me, and I'll cure the case of herpes I gave you when you came down the hill."

Does Cody have herpes? No. But it's a damn good threat.


"I'm not going to take you back, McCarty, it was stupid of you to rely on your fame not to get caught in the first place." Cody slowly places her hands into her pockets and pushes down. "But if you want lip service here goes. 'blah blah… I'll get you if it's the last thing I ever do… you and your little dog too…'" Her voice is completely monotonous while making the threat. Not that she's making a joke of the situation, she's just not happy about being put in the situation.

When Erin motions to her forehead, that's when Cody's lips twitch upward at one corner into a ill humored smirk. "First of all, you don't ever lunge at someone like me. Do you do it to an abused dog? No. Do you do it to a wild animal? No… It's dangerous. You're lucky I didn't kill you." To prove her point, the hair on her brow suddenly frills straight forward and hardens to a series of thin spikes. "The last time someone treated me to a headbutt, they didn't come out alive."

Then the demand of refuge is made. Cody grits her teeth and flexes her jaw, "You want me to find you a place to live? I don't even have a place to live." A heavy sigh, like the weight of the world was just placed on her shoulders, which are rolled back in order to relieve the tension. "I have a better idea. I'm going to get in contact with Pyle. He is going to find you a place to stay, I'm not going to know about it because if I get caught, they will try to find out everything I know. And what I know is, the less I know the better it is." Herpes? Great, the gift that keeps on giving. It's really not something Cody would relish dealing with when this is all over.


It was stupid. It's a great show of how stupid Erin believes she was that she doesn't even question it. She screwed up, and she's not going to make the same mistake again, not until this is over. When she believes Cody is making light of the situation, her eyes narrow, though she remains otherwise silent.

It's what's said next that gets a rise out of Erin, though she still maintains her distance. It's hard to keep from abusing her ability at this point, but her eyes remain their normal dullness - normal being the key word. She's not going to be the terrorist these people think she is right now. "Are we inventing rules now? How's this. You don't ever put innocent people in prison. You don't ever subject someone like me to torture. Do you poke at wild animals, Baker? Don't tell me not to do it until you start freeing those people who are trapped in that fucking hellhole - like animals. Very much like animals. If we're treated like animals, you can expect us to act like animals. Go to hell."

The display of Cody's power causes Erin to take a step back, her foot slipping along the muddy bank of the ditch. She doesn't know the extent of it or how far those crazy eyebrows can reach, but she's not taking any chances.

Erin has a short temper, but she's never really felt this… She has no way to describe it. It's not even rage. She doesn't want revenge. She just wants it to end. "The last person who underestimated me died." Hamm. "And you're lucky I didn't kill you. Call me crazy, but I think I had you. And I walked away, so if we're talking about close calls, we're even. And, if we're having a girl-testosterone fight here, neither of us are going to win."

Pyle? "I don't know Pyle from that bastard who kept me in that room for sixteen hours and played his other victims' screams for me - on loud - the whole time. No, you're going to do it. If you get caught, I go down with you. If I get caught, you can bet your ass they're going to know everything I know about you. I told you. You owe me, and I'm collecting."


"You did have me, and I'm sure you're going to wish that you did kill me that night over and over again until this is over. But the devil you know is me and I can guarantee that I'm a lot better than the one you haven't met yet." Cody's voice is kept low and her blue eyes dart from side to side quickly, as though she's expecting the Alpha Protocol ambush at any moment.

The woman half closes her eyes for a moment as she thinks about the predicament she's in. Erin saved her life and according to a few philosophies, Erin now owns Cody's life. "Alright, I will find you a place to hide. But there have to be rules if we're both going to stay alive and out of custody." The thought of Erni getting caught again literally makes Cody's stomach turn. She's much too dangerous. "First, you need to stay hidden. No one from the moment you move in until this is over can know you are even alive. If I have work for you to do, contacting people by email, etcetera, you'll do it by pretending to be me." It's not going to be easy. "Is that fair?"


There's a long pause. Erin's expression cycles through about a half dozen different feelings before it decides on one. Anger, hurt, determination, and finally, it's just blank. She slumps. "No," is her answer. "I didn't. And I still don't. What I was doing was necessary. You want to know why I'm pissed? You found a way to keep your ass out of a cell even though you're just like the rest of us. If anyone in there died, you wouldn't even feel it. Casualties of war, right? You think I'm proud that I killed two people? No. I did it because no one else is fighting back. Your actions might be saving thousands in the end, but how many have you damned by not acting sooner? How many are dead, Baker? What's the body count gonna be before all this is over. How many more people are you going to say, 'your life is over' to instead of giving them any hope at all? I'd prefer if you were the devil.

"Did you even care that I died, or was the only thing that was important to you is that I died with your secret?"

Finally finishing her rant, Erin turns back toward her rock to collect the few things she has. "I just adopted a kid. I had an awesome career. I was happy. In your world, the hundreds of people who really are going to die - or worse - are just a statistic, aren't they? As long as you don't have to die for them." Picking of a small backpack, she returns to Cody, letting her arms hang loose finally. "You're a god damned robot. Fine. I'll do what you want."


"The only reason my ass isn't in a cell is because I need to be out of it. Who do you think is going to try to stop anything from the inside? Peter Petrelli defected, Tracy Strauss was caught and then…" Then she was killed for escaping. She doesn't mention Agent Swan, as far as she knows, he's on his own side of the fence. "I'm sorry that you think I got here too late, I was working on a different front before I got smuggled back to the country."

When Erin asked how she felt about the death, Cody pauses and looks at the woman. "I was sad and happy at the same time. Not because of my secrets if I get caught I'll be killed, what I'm doing is treason, as long as they say it's against the President. I don't think the president knows what's going on though." She studies Erin for a while before talking again. "You're a dangerous woman, Erin McCarty. Much too dangerous to be in the hands of anyone but yourself. If you want to know how I feel about you, I'm proud. You found a way to escape in the body bag. You sacrificed your entire life to keep everyone out here safe."

Then she begins to lead the other woman toward the street, they're going to have to disappear. Who knows where. "I'm hoping that one day you'll be able to get back to your life. If things work the way I hope, you will. You just don't get me. It's not that I don't care about the people that die. I do. But once they're dead, there's nothing I can do. I can only try to make things better for the people that are still alive."


"Let me be mad at you," Erin says. It's shallow, but she has to be mad at someone, and Cody, with her logic and good reasoning, is making it really hard to be angry with her.

She does add, "Peter Petrelli can die in a god damned fire."

No explanation given.

As they begin to walk back to the street, she seriously considers what she's about to say next. "Cody, the reason I'm telling you this is because I really believe you want to help people. I didn't find a way out of there. I told Janet to kill me. She's the one who found a way to get me out. If you're looking for more help, go to her. If you even care about getting anyone else out of there, talk to her." Erin will believe it when she sees it. "And… technically, I got out of there in a hockey bag. Close enough, I guess. It smelled like someone died in it."

Poor Morris.

As they head back, Erin gets rid of the outer layers of cloth. No one will think twice about finding the articles here; in fact, someone will probably take them by nightfall. Underneath, she's wearing a simple hooded sweatshirt as a coat, and she pulls the hood over her head before wrapping her lower face with her scarf. "I really thought you might try to dart me. Take me back there. All I could think about when I was there was getting out before I killed half the world."


"You can be mad at me, you can hate me, it's not going to change the fact that I do what I need to do." Cody says in a low tone, her hands are still jammed tightly into her pockets. It's a fact that should make Erin feel at ease since her dart gun and Glock are strapped to the sides of her legs. "I'm not going to go to your sister. She's already being watched because she's your sister. These people aren't idiots, even if you think you're safe, you're not. No one is. I'm definitely not. You said I found a way out, my way out would have been staying in the middle east and not ever coming back. I came back because I care about keeping my country safe, the people in my country safe."

Alexandra Lambert, it's a nagging in her gut to know that woman is still in custody. She's just as dangerous as Erin, if not more. "As much as I want to release everyone in those barracks, I can't do it. Until there comes a time that I can't do my job anymore, they have to believe that I'm doing it to the best of my ability."

Pausing as they walk along, Cody purses her lips and casts a quick glance at the starlet. "Erin, if there's one thing you can count on, it's the fact that I never want you to get caught. The world is safer with you out here than it is with you in there. If Sayf Udeen ever got his hands on you…" Cody's jaw clenches and she gives Erin a pointed look, "I meant what I said, I wouldn't hesitate to put a bullet in the back of your head, or through the back of any of their heads if I knew it would save lives. I'm not the hero you want, I'm just the one you're stuck with."


"I can't really afford to hate you," Erin says. Something about being through the AP system has… mellowed her? Made her wiser? She's not taking her freedom for granted or flaunting anymore, for sure. Half thankful that Janet's going to be as safe as possible, and half irritated because Cody won't use the resources she has, Erin just keeps silent. She's said enough on her thoughts already. She'll never support Cody's methods, but she'll do what she can to keep herself from being caught.

For most of her life, Erin was a very selfish person. She hated sharing; everything was about her, from the time she woke up to the time she went to bed. It's why there's such a rift within her family. Everyone has to grow up sometime, though. It was only recently that Erin did. "Then do it. If something happens and it looks like they might take me, do it. There's people out there I need to keep safe." As they walk down the alley, Erin adds as an aside of sorts. "Yeah, you don't have herpes. I was just seeing if I could get you to take me in. You'd totally suck at being interrogated."


"I don't suck at being interrogated, I suck at interrogating." Cody says with a half smile, she can be jovial when the opportunity calls for it. "I'd rather find things out without having to talk to people. Besides, just the thought of being caught in a sandstorm with one of those blisters in the nether regions is enough to make anyone squeal like a pig." Think about it. Sand hurts.

"We need to find a place to live… I've been sleeping on various couches around the AP building, while it's fine for me, it's really not fine for you." Tonight, they'll grab a hotel room. Tomorrow she'll make one phone call. "One other person is going to know where we live, his name is Christopher Pyle, he's my boss in Delta Force. You don't have to worry about him turning you in, he's got more to lose than anyone if things go the way I think Alpha wants them to go."


Erin's first order of business is to find a way to contact the three most important people in her life without Cody knowing about it. "You suck at acting, too," Erin adds. She has the bump on her forehead to prove it. "And being personable. And encouragement. I could go on."

Maybe she'll write a book. Things Cody Baker Sucks At. "What happened to your apartment?" she asks, arching her eyebrows, though the smile visible in her eyes seems to suggest she knows. It was compromised, and so it's no longer hers. Is she close!?

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