2009-11-18: Understanding



Date: November 18th, 2009


Tracy's search for the Senator leads her to Erin. As truth comes out, they could both use a friend.


Mt. Sinai Hospital

New York City

Super Busy Hospital. Two.

Much busier than the original.

Today alone there have been a few dozen traumas, at least ten people believing they had SARS (and with Erin around at one point, maybe they did) Four births since the beginning of the last shift, and a couple shootings. This is a normal day in a New York hospital, though, unfortunately.

Behind the nurse's station on the first floor, one woman is busily sorting through several of the last cases that have come in, trying to sort them in order of need and importance. It's hard, because everyone expects equal care, and it's their job to make sure that every patient is treated fairly. But when you have a ten-year-old with a cough and a construction worker with a nail through his hand, well… Some things take priorities.

… Priorities that probably don't include answering the questions of a very determined looking blonde woman who marches up to this first floor nurse's station. Tracy, having recently flown in from D.C., is wasting no time. She looks exactly as she did this morning in another state: along with white pants and a faintly pink blouse, a lightweight grey business jacket dons her form save for one sleeve; while her right arm is in a brace and sling, she's not a patient here. She looks like she means business. She presses in against the station with one hand.

"Excuse me," Tracy interjects — politely, very politely, in fact, but still with urgency. "I'm looking for someone. The Senator, actually. Ivory, Ivory Wynn. He was in here today…"

The woman looks up at Tracy very briefly, before going back to the paperwork for a moment. She could do something most likely, but she doesn't really want to. It would mean taking more time to get through these files, and that just won't do. "Was he a patient?" the nurse says flatly, still flipping through the files. "'cuz if he wasn't, I…"

She doesn't finish that statement. One of the other nurses walking by says, "Ivory Wynn? Yeah, he was here right when I started my shift. He was visiting that one girl from the soap opera. Erin McCarty." That's all she says, before turning to talk to the nurse behind the counter. "Speaking of, what a bitch. If I had to take care of her for one more day, I would have tossed her out of here myself."

The nurse behind the counter chuckles.

Tracy's eyes widen as they lock on the nurse who walks by to deliver the answer she was looking for — even though she didn't know she was looking for it. "Erin," she repeats with surprise. "Is she— " she blinks and looks between the nurses, parsing the words. "She's not here anymore? She left." Already, she's backing away from the nurse's station, ready to veer course now that she knows where she's going.

"She's home," the nurse says. "Thank god." At least, that's where she's supposed to be. Who cares where she really is!? The point is, she's not at the hospital, and that makes everyone's job a whole lot easier.

Meanwhile, in Erin's apartment..

The actress is reclining on the couch, clearly not enjoying the fact that she's pretty much stuck here until she's given the go-ahead by her doctors. She's probably not going to be staying here much, truthfully, but she's intending to be good at least for today. People were after her. Some guy who worked with the president showed up in her hospital room today. There's a piece she's missing that she can quite decipher… Namely, how did they find out about her, and why now?

Distinctly unhappy with pretty much everything at the moment, Erin is definitely not good company. And she was an even worse patient.

"You're lifesavers, ladies!" Tracy tells the nurses — mostly the second on the scene — and lifts a hand to them as she practically jogs backward. Never mind their animosity toward Ms. McCarty. "Thank you," she adds before taking off at a brisk pace the way she came, dodging patients and hospital staff alike as she weaves her way out of the hospital as fast as she can without running outright.

* * *

Knock knock. A quick but soft series of raps sounds on the apartment door. It's remarkable, how such a quiet sound can express so much importance. Urgency. Outside, Tracy is the very picture of urgency, staring down the door as if willing it to open faster. The jacket has been shunned off of her sleeveless blouse, draped over her better arm, and she shifts it about as she waits. "Erin, it's me. Tracy," she calls out — just in case the woman is paranoid. She wouldn't blame Erin for that.

Despite the fact that Erin is not happy with anything at the moment, she is especially unhappy with Tracy. Miss 'I can help you, but I won't'! Granted, that's neither what Tracy said, nor implied, but it's what Erin took from the conversation. She's already up, though, making her way painfully toward the door with barely a grimace to show for it. Mostly because she's angry at the pain, and isn't going to give it the satisfaction of showing it that it hurts!


"What do you want, Tracy?" she says from the other side of the closed door. Erin's not paranoid. She's more ready to crack open some skulls and kick in some knees than she is willing to hide. It's not the smartest approach, but it certainly is the most satisfying.

For the love of. "Open the door." The words may be a command in and of themselves, but Tracy's voice is softer than that — softer than it might normally be — and filled with that same urgency. She leans in, forehead close to the door. "Look, I just came from the hospital. I know that Ivory came to see you."

Erin's eyes narrow as she looks out the peephole at Tracy. The actress isn't dumb. Temperamental, brash, stubborn, and unlikable, but she can put two and two together. They had to have found out about her somehow, and besides that kid at the book store, the only person she's told recently was…

"You know Ivory," she says from the other side of the door. A statement of fact, which is made just before the door opens. Tracy will be 'treated' to the rare glimpse of Erin without any makeup, looking tired and in considerable pain. Also severely pissed off.

And kind of hurt.

"Please tell me I'm wrong," she says, not elaborating on that at all, but instead leaving Tracy to figure out what she means.

The more Tracy stands outside the closed door, the more agitated she becomes. It's not directed at Erin, exactly — no, it goes a lot further than that. When the door does open, in she goes, whisking past Erin— she just has to get inside. "Of course, I know Ivory," she says, a touch flippant. "I'm his political advisor. I left the Governor a few months ago to work with him."

Once she's is in the apartment proper, it should be obvious, when the blonde woman lifts her head up, that something is wrong. She looks almost desperate, all wide, troubled eyes and anger. As for whether Erin is wrong or not, Tracy doesn't say, though she does glance off to one side. She's restless, looking all about the apartment. "Did Ivory help you? Is it safe here?"

Is it safe anywhere? Seriously. After she was attacked at a place she considered to be perfectly safe, she's pretty sure there's nowhere she can go that she won't be attacked. "I trusted you," she says, hurt, vulnerable for the moment. "He's the one who's behind— He told me he's the— "

It's not exactly paranoia that takes her at that moment. It's just a statement of fact - There's not a whole lot of people she actually can trust with her secret. And the ones she's already told… God. Maybe she should be more careful. "You told him. You went right to him and told him what I can do."

That last question is almost too perfect. Her eyes are already brighter than they should be when she answers, "Not for you."

"E-Erin." Tracy, in the process of one-handedly shed her purse and the jacket folded over her arm onto the corner of a chair by the kitchen, slowly sets her things down and backs further away from Erin with her hand raised in a gesture to stop, to settle down, to not come closer. "No. No, he's trying to fix it," she says with conviction. "Erin! I didn't— " She can't stop staring at the other woman's eyes. "Just calm down… I can explain."

Tracy won't start to feel sick yet. It certainly appears that that could change at any moment, though, the way Erin's staring at her. Now that she's killed someone, it shouldn't be so hard to do it again, right?

There's something else in her eyes besides that eerie glow, though. She's holding back tears, too proud - or too angry - to let them fall. "Yeah, he said as much," she states coldly. "Doesn't mean he didn't fuck up royally already. Look. Look at this." She starts to hold up her arm, winces in pain, and gives up on that idea. "They're writing it into the damned script as a werewolf attack. You know how awesome it was to not have to wear makeup all over my face? Do you watch the show? Have you seen Taine? I don't want that." It's more than just that, though. It's the idea that she's now a murderer.

"Then explain. It better be good."

"He's trying to make it better," Tracy insists, daring to take a step closer, one hand still outstretched in protection; warning. "To stop it from happening. From the inside! The government organization he works with is— it's horrible, Erin. They've stretched the Patriot Act as far as it can go and they're taking us without due process, and without human rights— "

Tracy was on edge when she arrived at Erin's. Upset beyond her usual cool demeanour. Now, she's wearing even thinner. The look in her eyes is remarkably similar to that of her friend, the culmination of the past few days, weeks, threatening to rise from beneath the surface. She's changed since Erin saw her last. She lowers her hand to her side where it curls tightly. "At least you got away," she says through nearly clenched teeth. "Nine days. I don't want to hear about how you don't want to wear makeup on TV. They took me. For nine days."

"I believe that!" she replies. And she does. It's just that he wouldn't have had to fix anything if he hadn't broken it in the first place.

Tracy should realise that Erin doesn't have to get any closer to make her really, really sick. The outstretched hand is symbolic, almost calming, though. It's a reminder. Don't go too far. You don't want to be that person. Besides, she told Ivory that she's not a killer, that she hadn't hurt anyone until they came after her.

"Patriot Act?!" Erin spits. "So they go after anyone with a power. By that logic, they should be arresting anyone who can fire a gun, or — or anyone who owns a fucking kitchen knife!" She stomps her foot, turning away from Tracy. The glow remains in her eyes, but there's no illness to contend with.

Up to this point, Erin's been assuming that Tracy's been in on it the whole time. That she hasn't suffered at all - hadn't felt that fear that Erin felt when she jumped off that raised walkway, not knowing if she wasn't going to survive when she hit the ground. Looking over her shoulder, she narrows her eyes, the glow diminishing slightly. "Are you okay?" she asks, gaze moving to the broken arm. "Look, Tracy, I didn't— I didn't know. I wouldn't have…" Erin sighs.

"No. No, I'm not," Tracy answers, both hateful and dull; deadened. Slowly, she moves in to stand close to Erin. They're both so dangerous: one misunderstanding or unstable emotion and it won't end well. She watches Erin's face closely, studying it, preparing for what she has to say next.

"I didn't want to tell him." She doesn't want to be telling Erin here and now, even though it's the right thing to do, all told. Probably. The words are forced out. "Not Ivory. This… spiteful man I'd never met. He asked me about you. The son of a bitch broke my arm," she admits, harshly vindictive, a hush over her voice. "…I'm sorry." It's hard for her to admit — just giving in like that — but the so-called ice queen's blue gaze is transparently sincere.

If Erin was going to make Tracy sick, it doesn't seem like she's much inclined to do so anymore. The anger still leaves a residual shimmer in her eyes, but that's what sunglasses are for. "And you couldn't do anything, because you were helpless," Erin says. She knows about whatever thing they have that makes it so abilities can't be used.

Maybe Tracy will appreciate this more than anyone else would. "I… It was an accident. I killed one of them before they darted me." Like an animal. "I still dream about that look on her face. I can see it when I close my eyes. She was terrified." And bleeding from her eyes, and every other pore on her body. "I tried to fix it, but by then, I couldn't."

Erin's silent for a long time, looking at the other woman, trying to determine if the apology really means anything, or if the statement is just words. "Yeah… Yeah, it's… It's not fine, but… Honestly, I probably would have done the same thing."

Giving up Erin's ability to the man in Building 26 may have been justified, but Tracy isn't proud of it. As she listens, her face is a reflection of the other woman's in a rare moment of empathy. "Oh God. Erin." Lips pressed together in a frown for an instant, Tracy nods her head. "I know," she says quietly. Does she ever. "I … understand. I tried to ignore my ability for … a long time. I tried to pretend it didn't exist — then, one day, a few months ago? Someone came to me, threatening me. I grabbed him, 'n' when I couldn't let go…"

It's probable that she would have been sucked into this whole thing eventually anyway. With an ability like hers, well, it's dangerous. She doesn't want to be a prisoner, though. Who does? And all for something she can't help being able to do.

Erin doesn't outwardly seem surprised that Tracy killed someone, but she's a good actor. Her face does blank for a handful of seconds as she takes that in. "I… didn't know you could do that." Sure, freezing a flower is one thing, but killing someone with that power? That's something else entirely.

"I've had some close calls. My roommate, my— Taine." She's not going to call him her boyfriend. "It never hit me until I actually… I needed to defend myself. I did it… on purpose. I didn't think she'd die."

Erin takes a step closer. Her eyes are, at least, dimmer now. "I think we could both use a hug. I mean, don't get me wrong. I'm pissed that you told, but it doesn't sound like you had much of a choice. And besides that, I don't know too many people who— " She trails off, unwilling to talk about what really amounts to murder. "Question is, you're not gonna freeze me or anything if I put my arm around you, are you?"

The first time, for Tracy, it was an accident. She didn't know what she was capable of. But after that…

She glances away from Erin, the compassion in her eyes turned away, her expression hardening. The facade doesn't last long. She does flash a cheerless smile, more pained than anything else. A hug, huh.

"Honestly, right now…" Getting worked up over the culmination of a dozen things — not the least of which is what brought her to this apartment — Tracy brings her hand to her face, over her eyes, wincing against these stupid emotions. "I don't even know, Erin. Not on purpose," she says blandly. "Ever since I got out, it's like— " Tracy cuts herself off, running her hand along the back of her neck under her hair, head down.

"Glad I asked. Rain check, then," she says. Erin's having a bit of trouble with all the emotion-things, too. She hates that she wants to cry all the time now, and also hates the fact that she won't let herself. She can't. It's kind of like admitting defeat; when she's gotten teary, she always tries to blame it on the pain.

She can see those same things in Tracy's eyes, though. It's hard to lie to someone who acts for a living. Still, she's not going to be so tactless as to point it out. That— She can at least rein in. This time. Neither is she going to tell Tracy that she can talk to her any time. It sounds lame, and — Oh, hell with it.

"So… So it's good to have someone to talk to, at least."

She pauses. "…still pissed, though," she notes under her breath. Again.

"I don't blame you," Tracy replies to the words uttered under Erin's breath, a little bitter, less toward Erin and more toward herself. More than that, toward the situations they've been thrown in. Maybe the world's to blame. She smiles at Erin much more softly. "You're right, though," she says through a tired laugh. "It's… hard to find someone who understands all this stuff. …Is it wrong of me to be glad you're like me?" Biting her lip for a second, she hesitates, eyeing Erin rather carefully. "…I gotta ask you something."

It'd be nice if the soap opera bullshit would have been kept to the TV. Alas that Erin gets to live it out in real life. Now she doesn't even get the comfort of knowing she's safe in her own home… And when she goes to work, she feels sick just remembering. But she's not the type to hide. In fact, sometimes she hopes they come back. She'll be ready.

After the question, she smiles. "No. Misery loves company. You know how that goes." One sigh later, she adds, "Besides, no one would want to go through this alone."

Her eyes, momentarily staring into space, glance back at Tracy. "Mm-hm?"

Tracy is quiet for a moment. Misery loves company. Dismal, but not untrue, in this case. "Ivory. He went to see you and he didn't come back," she explains, distressed. She paces away from Erin a few steps through the roomy apartment, making restless gestures with the one hand she can do so with. "He missed his flight, he won't return my phone calls, no one knows where he went 'n'— I have to know where he is." The hope in the woman's eyes as they look suddenly back to Erin becomes so determined, so very nearly panicked by the thought of not being able to find the Senator, that she almost looks accusing, even if she doesn't mean to. Then again… "If you have any idea…"

Erin does not like Ivory. She's very big on blame, and he's shouldering a lot of it. For once, she's pretty much spot-on… However, she does believe him when he said he would try to make things better. It's just… Well. He messed things up in the first place. So he can burn.

Someone else can burn him, though. She doesn't want that on her conscience.

In fact, she momentarily lets her control slip and appears absolutely horrified at the suggestion, and then, she just gives Tracy a really odd look. Who needs a man that bad?

"I don't know where he went. I swear." Unable to keep that guilty look out of her eyes, though, she fidgets a little, taking a step back. "He might have a cold, though."

"…You gave him a cold?" The blonde's eyes flash with anger for an instant, but she prioritizes. It's not rabies. If it's just a cold… "That doesn't explain why he disappeared." It's only been several hours, in reality, but an AWOL Senator is a big deal. To Tracy, it's an even bigger one. "And he didn't say anything about where he was going," Tracy says with that determined line of question cutting into her tone.

"Yeah." It's what she does.

Some people and their men. Erin shakes her head and dismisses it. She works on a soap opera, so she knows how people can be about their relationships. Still… "Tracy, I'm sure he's fine. Really, he was telling me how he plans to help." Sure, she let him believe he was going to die. But considering the zeal with which Tracy is looking for him… She'll just leave that part out. Self-preservation, and all that. "Maybe he just got side-tracked. I just saw him earlier today…" And she's sure she only gave him a cold.

Oh god, what if it wasn't? She was pretty angry.

She smiles. "I'm sure he's fine."

Erin's reassurances do absolutely nothing. It's as though Tracy didn't say anything at all. "He left his driver outside the hospital." Side note: it was an adventure trying to interpret what Gimmie Dat's answers to her many questions. "He just disappeared. No, it's getting late. Something's wrong. People've been threatening him because they don't understand where he's coming from!" What if— !

With a sigh, Tracy comes out of her own head long enough to realize how she must sound. "You have your reasons for keeping your private life private. I have mine," she says pointedly, punctuated by a one-sided, casual shrug, as if to say: so what? She pauses, strides to the chair she left her things on, grabs her jacket. "…I have to find him."

Since Ivory's so important to Tracy, Erin's kind of glad she didn't kill him. Or severely hurt him. Polio can be pretty nasty.

So can herpes.

Erin sighs, letting her good shoulder relax. The other one will probably be quite tense for some time now. Erin has very few friendships. She doesn't let herself get close to people… Not because she's afraid of getting hurt, but because the vast majority of people in the world are stupid.

Needless to say, she keeps the few friends she has close. And if Ivory's important to Tracy… Well… "You want me to help you? I have enough pain killers that I should be good for a few hours."

Tracy shoulders her purse and folds her jacket over it, in too much of a hurry to struggle with putting it on. Her rushed movements slow and come to a stop, though, as she stands facing away from Erin. "New York is a big place," she admits, turning around. How do you find one person in all of New York City? "I'll phone the places I know he has a reason to be — the Senate. Hotels. Again. It might take all night but I'll find him. Thank you, Erin…" She smiles slightly. "You should stay here."

"Thank god," she says. Hey, she offered, and that's the important part. Now? She can sit around and watch TV, or feel sorry for herself, or cuss out her inept set crew and the smartass writers for as long as she wants, and won't have to worry about finding someone who she really does dislike to a spectacular degree. Awesome. "Call me if you need anything." She'll accidentally turn her phone on mute, possibly.

Tracy smirks faintly, but manages to suppress a roll of her eyes at Erin's relief. "Yeah. Alright." She smiles a touch more sincerely, though it's reserved; feeling like the weight of her world and Ivory's is on her shoulders, she whisks herself to the door, unlocking it to let herself out, pausing once it's open to look back. "Call me if…" she starts to reciprocate. "…just call me." They both need a friend.

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