2007-08-03: This Used to Be My Playground


DFMcAlister_icon.gif DFErin_icon.gif

Summary: A chance meeting of two roommates. A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. (Don't plan the plan if you can't follow through!)

Dark Future Date: 3 AUGUST 2009

This Used to Be My Playground

Upper West Side, NYC

She's wearing all black - something of a suit, shoes that are more suited for walking than business, and black sunglasses.

Erin has been gone for a long time. She would have disappeared sometime during the war, and she hasn't been seen here since. To see what happened to New York is shocking, even for her, though she doesn't really show it as she perches on a bench in the general vicinity of her old apartment. She's crouched on the seat, feet supporting her as she looks upward at the old building. It used to be so nice, and there are some regrets that flitter across her mind, but they're replaced with that troubled blankness that always seems to follow her around lately. In the end, the apartment really means nothing. It's just a place.

But what of the people who lived there? They couldn't have all been evolved. Some of them must have been sent to detainment along with her, where they all suffered, where no one did a damn thing about it. In short, she doesn't care any more about the people who lived in that building than she did before. Another passing thought, and the blankness returns.


There's one, at least. Coming out of that ruined building - lord. She's /thin/. She never was large, the former DJ - but now she's all sharp angles and a bit of dirt, moving with the unconscious caution and conservation of motion of someone who is eating little enough that being winded comes easy. Nevermind, that, though -

That old building apparently still holds some memory or utility for her, at least. She pauses for a long moment, looking both ways and /listening/ - it's unmistakable.. before she starts across the street and roughly in the direction of central park, a messenger bag on her shoulder.


Erin doesn't recognise her roommate at first. Just another person, really, though the movement catches her attention. Her eyes remain on the girl long enough for her to figure it out, though.

She uncurls herself from the bench, feet touching the cement beneath her as she pushes off from her seat. It's not hard for Erin to tell that Ali's been through some rough times, but that could be said for most of the population of New York at the moment. Nothing's the same anymore, and—

Erin looks up.

Stop, Ali. We have to have some words. A thought, but—

A bird falls out of the sky and lands at Ali's feet, still alive, twitching, some sort of white foam leaking from its beak. It obviously can't breathe very well.


Ewww. Just… ewww.

Ali stops dead, staring - then retreats a step, nose wrinkling and eyes narrowing as she takes that in. And she swallows.

Ever seen a rabbit tense, ready to bolt? That's her - tiredly, but it's there nonetheless. The DJ's quick to scan the surrounding area, quick to glance from face to face.. quick to..

And then her gaze lights on Erin. And -it's as though the sun comes out - the smile, surprised and happy and relieved.. and more than that, just gloriously eager; the tension changes from nervous worry to a lope in the former star's direction, and a call, "Erin!"

It's slow enough to avoid the hug that's likely to be flung that way - perhaps a testament to the Voice's caution, in these days.


Really, Erin just stands there. She's torn, actually, because she wasn't friendless in New York, and Ali, obviously, was there for her when she discovered what she could do. In fact, the only other person who knew at the time was Taine, and she has no idea what happened to him. So she allows the hug, one hand coming up to pat the other woman's back once before it drops. Her eyes look toward the bird, rest there for a moment, then wander; the bird simply flies away as if nothing was wrong. There was no need to kill this one, after all. It just needed to be used.

"Mmn," is her initial reply. The contact is all it would take. At this range, she could easily eliminate the potential threat that's just flown into her arms, destroy yet another being who left her to rot in detainment for months, who allowed her the capacity to kill. It'd be so easy.

But Erin can't do it.

When she speaks, her words are flat and meaningless, as if she's rehearsed them - and badly. "It's good to see you."


"I missed you." it's honest, rough - her voice is hoarse from overuse, Ali hugging tightly for a moment. "I looked - I never found you." She backs off a step, hands on the other woman's upper arms, the smile still there, if her expression's searching. "You remember Tammy? The woman down the hall? She said Homeland was in - she didn't know. What happened? You got a place to stay?"


Did Erin miss Ali? Did she miss…? What was there to miss? Was there? She blinks through dark glasses as she tries to remember, but it's hard. Life wasn't hard back then. In fact, it was enjoyable, but there's nothing of that life left, and here they are, standing, one looking for a note in the other's voice to determine— Ah, Homeland. That would be Erin. Right? That's what she's doing here. Security. Not— Wait.


There's a tiny shake of the woman's head. She forgot how much her old roommate could talk, and she's having a little trouble keeping track of it all today. One hand reaches up to the hand on her shoulder. Again, it would be so easy, but… She can't. Why?

"They locked me in a cell, Alyssa."


The Dj winces - "God. I'm sorry - " She looks down - oddly, it is a genuine thing. As though she'd been kicked, a physical flinch. "I'm so sorry. I tried - If I'd known…" She shifts her hands, stepping back - keeping hold of Erin's, taking the gesture for something other, perhaps, than it really is.

"They haven't caught me yet - I don't know.." A faint sad smile. "I can't say I know what it's like. But you hear things. I've seen the camps - we try. Just aren't enough of us. What happened?"


Ali's too trusting. That's the first thing she notices, and… She still can't do anything. She can't, because— But what if they're watching? What if she's being watched and she does nothing? They'll put her back in the camps, and she can't go back there!

Suddenly there are a thousand eyes all on Erin, all in her head, but nevertheless waiting for her to take some sort of action. These are the people she's supposed to eliminate.

So what are you waiting for?

"Al- Ali?" she says. They're watching. They have to be. Everyone's attention is on her, even the president's, in the buildings, in the trees, watching. The hand holding Ali's wraps around it just a little tighter. "They offered me a job."


The DJ frowns - "A.. job?" Something about how that hand tightens makes her eyebrow raise, but she squeezes back. "C'mon - I'll get you a hot dog and we can talk about it, if you want." It's an offer - one that's hopeful. "You're not in the camps anymore - you don't have to take it."

That seems a foregone conclusion, an unexpected strength. "I know people. I can make you vanish - we can get you north, up to Canada. There's even a guy that I know that'll take you to europe, I just.. it'll take me longer to get the money together."


Erin doesn't move, though. Slowly, very slowly, she turns a cell here, a cell there. Ali won't begin to feel ill. Not right away, anyway, but at least Erin can say she did something. They're watching her. When she asks, she can simply say she's using biological warfare. Transmitting a disease that this girl can take back to the others. It's like ants taking poisoned bait back to their colony.

For some reason, it hurts to have to do this. But they're watching. Surely she'll still have a job by the end of the day?

"Yeah, okay." A hot dog. She can do that. Slowly work on the metabolisation of those little tiny particles she's already created. Can she leave them there? She could destroy them. In the blink of an eye, Erin could kill them and leave Ali healthy. Sorry, Mister President, it didn't take. It was too subtle. Perhaps she's had SARS before and her immune system fought it off.

But. She did something.

"They're watching me, Ali. I'm sorry."


"S.. sorry?" Ali is quick, furtive, looking past Erin - there. that passer by? No. A suit - no..

She swallows. "Erin? - " Her tiredness is visible - her worry dramatic. But as of yet, there's no impetuous. No push. "Come with me. We can run - I know a place. I know people - you don't have to." But, oddly, even so - it's heartfelt. "Whatever you think you have to do, you don't. The park's right there - we get in past the trees? They'll never find you. Never again. You just gotta trust me."


Perhaps that hope Ali has is all misplaced. The only people who approached her, who gave her that hint of light at the end of a very, very long, very, very dark tunnel, where Nathan's people. They gave her a job, nice clothes, told her that she wasn't a freak, that this is what the world was meant to be, and yet… Erin still feels lost in some sort of huge, vast stretch of space, and she doesn't know why. She doesn't realise that she snapped, and she never will.

Her loyalty, her life, is for Nathan Petrelli.

"No." She continues to hold onto Ali's hand. Another cell quietly twisted and sent on its way, ravaging through an already weakened system.

Maybe. maybe.

Erin could fix this. What would the others say, though? Would her cell be smaller this time? Would it be dry? Water gathering on the floor, no windows, locked away and forgotten forever? She breathes, deeply, looking back the way she came, the relatively nice hotel where she's been staying. It's good. She does her job, she gets to have nice things. "They're watching me now. They'd find me."


"… they wouldn't." Ali moves as if to draw back - stalled by Erin's hold; "E.. erin? what are you supposed to do?" There's a faint fissure in that trust - a product of these times.

Then, oddly - she simply.. talks. No force in it, no coercion. "There's a lot of people that you could help. You don't know - every day we get more out. People help us. I know.. I remember what you can do." And that fissure of trust is /gone/. And Ali steps closer. "I know it had to be hard. I don't know what happened - but I can guess. They promised you something - they gave you work and somebody lookin' over your shoulder .. but you're not like them. You took me in, even after what I.." … did to you. Said to you. She hasn't forgotten. "If they're watching? If somebody comes after us - we'll stop it. YOu and me. And I can give you a place, like you did me."


It's tempting, and that's what scares her. She plants a hand on Ali's shoulder, though nothing happens, not right away. Vague traces of bright blue can be seen under the glasses, though, bright, wide eyes staring. It's painful, almost, to have to do this, but in the end, this is what she's become, and there's no going back from it.

Ali should have listened to that voice. She should have left when she had the chance. Maybe the disease wouldn't have had a chance to take, but now… Urged along by just the slightest push, the virus multiplies. One hundred. Five hundred. A thousand.

"I've hurt so many people," she explains. They died. It hurt to know that she was responsible, but what more can she do other than continue? If she stops, it gives guilt a moment to set in, enough time for her to question what she's doing, and bring her right back to square one where she's nobody. Forgotten. Doing what is right just isn't easy enough anymore, or… She's completely incapable of discerning right from wrong.

She's not sorry. There's fear of the unknown, and stepping away from that comfortable nest she's got wrapped around herself — she's in no state to handle that level of uncertainty. For what Erin's doing to her former friend, she is sorry, and it shows in her eyes. But.

There's no way she's forgotten what Ali can do. In some way, she's hoping. She's played the part, now… Now what?


"Then stop." And.. that's what does it. The blue. Behind the glasses - Ali has always been brighter than she looks… and the times, for all that she trusts too easily, makes it impossible for her to trust wholly. So the blue - the blue gives her warning. Suspicon -

And it is focus that mends that voice, lets it fall sweetly on nearby ears, modulations tickling at the forebrain. But she has time, right now - and it is not brutal - the Siren sings, but the song is best when it has time to be sung in its entirety.

"You don't have to do this work - you could set things right." Gentle, reassuring. "It doesn't matter how many you've hurt before now - it only matters what you do when you walk out of the door, what choices you make. You don't have to hurt me - you don't have to listen." Quiet, regretful - "I'm dead now, aren't I. You've killed me - I see, Erin. I.. I see. But I don't have to die. You can save me - like I saved you. You can be better - you can be who I know you are." And then.. she hugs this woman. Gently. "I don't want to die. You don't have to kill me."


She doesn't recognise that slight bump in the other direction. It's almost impossible to do so, even if that's exactly what she was hoping for, but to conciously process the fact that this is what's happening, she'd have to be much better learned in dealing with people with this particular power.

It doesn't work quite the same. There are parts of Erin's mind that don't work like they did before. Reason has been replaced with fear. Curiosity with fanaticism. "No, not dead," she says, eyes narrowing, compelled, she can feel the particles, and then there are less. Destroyed. But not all. Not all; she can't. She's already done it, and if she removes them all, it won't just be Ali who dies. The hug is almost comforting; Erin returns it for a moment, but regretfully, she can't take it all back.

"They do things to you," she whispers in Ali's ear. The first time she's spoken of it, ever. "You can't get that back, Alyssa. Keep your people safe. Don't go home." They can't hear her from here. They can't hear her from here, and so her twisted logic reasons that she's actually helping the girl. By sending her off with a virus.

It won't kill her.

It'll terminate before that. Erin hopes. She can never be sure. "Don't go home."

She pushes Ali away. Starts to run.


"Erin.." The broken voice that calls after her is - sad and hoarse. ".. I.. I'm sorry!" But Ali lets her go, reaching up to wipe at her eyes -

Jersey girls don't cry, remember?

But - no. You can't ever go home again. And she mutters, softly - there's no way it can carry. "I'll find a way, erin. I will." But..

Paranoia sets in. Central park's safe - and if they /were/ watching…. the Dj starts that way. Hurrying.

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