2010-03-14: Weren't You Dead?

Starring:

Tracy_V4icon.png Erin_V4icon.png

Date: March 14, 2010

Summary:

Catching up on hard times…


"Weren't You Dead?"

Tracy's Safehouse

A woman stands outside one particular building in New Jersey, looking from it to the paper in her hand. This is the place, it seems.

She parked a few blocks away. The car isn't hers, but it's also not stolen - she's trying not to break the law too much. Still, if it ends up towed, no one's going to trace it back to her. Hiding has become an art recently… One that Erin's disturbingly good at. Then again, when your life's on the line, you kind of have to be good at hiding, because if you're not… Well. You're dead.

She's got a hood over her head. Not out of place today, because it's raining. A few wisps of red hair frame her face; unlike Tracy's in the past, this colour is completely natural. Weird, but true. It's what you get when you have a roommate who can command the wonderful powers of hair!

Erin's unsure about how this meeting will go, so she's hesitant at first, before finding Tracy's door and leaning against it, knocking quietly. Her eyes look the other way, for any sign that she's been followed. This is the first time she's been out of the warehouse since she and Cody moved in.

—-

It may not come as any surprise that no one opens the door at first — a refuge is a refuge, and such hideaways don't exactly foster trust in those who come a knocking.

It may come as some surprise that the person who peeks out the window, through simple white curtains on the ground level, is neither Tracy nor anyone Erin has ever seen in her life. It's a random-as-can-be young man of Hispanic descent with the paranoid glint in his eye telltale of someone who has been turned into a fugitive.

Moments later, however, and the door, painted a bright red eons ago, opens to reveal the woman Erin is looking for. Tracy stares out into the rain at the red-haired, hooded person on the doorstep. It's difficult to interpret the expression on her face — it's frozen (though not literally) in wariness, surprise— something else. She is dressed much like she usually is: well. A nice black sweater trimmed in thick white, long blonde hair set back by a narrow headband, pearls in her ears though she has nowhere to wear them to. Before she says anything to Erin, she glances inside and says: "It's fine." She then steps aside. "Erin… I…" Wasn't expecting you? Though you might be dead? That's about right! "God— come inside. It's raining."

—-

"Hey," she says, cheerfully but quietly, offering a smile. She actually looks pretty good, all things considered. There's a new scar over one eye, but that's fading; it won't be anything like the one one her arm. The dark circles around her eyes are permanent fixtures, though - at least until makeup gets ahold of her on set, provided they want her back.

With one last (paranoid?) look over her shoulder, Erin steps into the apartment, pulling her hood back. She's not dressed well, but that's what happens when your roommate does all your shopping for you. It's warm and comfortable. "Let's just get the 'I-told-you-sos' out of the way now. You were right. They got me." It's Erin herself who makes sure the door is closed. "Taine gave me your address. Hope you don't mind too much."

—-

Erin may make sure the door is closed, but Tracy casts a glance through the narrow space between its window blinds on the door, double-checking that the coast is indeed clear, before moving further into the room.

It's an old establishment she's found here, a building perhaps not quite a hundred years old with a few levels. There's nothing particularly remarkable about the architecture except that it's faintly antiquated. It's plain, sparsely decorated and not well heated, which becomes obvious after only a few moments indoors. Whoever peeked out the window is now nowhere to be seen, but there are signs of life everywhere — jackets, shoes, styles that Tracy or Beth couldn't possibly own.

"No! No," Tracy reassures, giving her friend a critical — even concerned — once-over. "You're right, I did tell you so," she says, not beyond declaring it, though there's a hard set to her jaw as she does so. "But what happened, happened — the question is how are you here? Did you escape? I thought— I heard you were dead."

—-

"Hah, well." Erin shrugs out of the hooded sweatshirt, hugging it in her arms like a security blanket. Being out in the open now is more uncomfortable than she thought it'd be. Someone might see her, and then the tabloids would go nuts, and then the AP will be right back on her heels. She's been careful.

It's one thing to tell Taine what happened to her. It's another to tell Tracy. "When they pumped me full of that stuff? I guess my immune system's completely shot, 'cuz I got sick really fast after that. Janet made it look like I died. I left - literally - in a body bag." Hockey bag. Close enough. "S'far as the AP knows, I am dead." She pauses, looks up at Tracy, then back at the door, as if she expects someone to come in after her. "Can I have something to drink? Just water's fine."

—-

"Good," she adds as she retrieves a glass from a cupboard high above. "That they think you're dead. They won't be looking for you." Filling the glass with tap water — sigh — she sets it on the table. "I was following this one agent, she was completely … crazy, she thought I was dead. She was convinced you were dead. Given … her … state of mind, I didn't exactly trust her logic…" Though the reunion hasn't been exactly warm on her part, Tracy does reach out now and hold Erin's upper arm for a brief moment. Finally, she smiles — it's been awhile in building. "But I am glad she was wrong."

—-

Too quiet. It's just too quiet. "Can you turn on the radio or something?" Erin mumbles as she sits down. "Or… TV, volume doesn't have to be too high." Man, it was easy to settle down at home. Out here, though, it's… Much more difficult. Sitting at the table, she wraps her hands around the glass of water. The idea of a crazy agent doesn't really ring any bells; that wasn't supposed to happen to Jo, but it has. "Yeah? Well, I think they might all be crazy there anyway. Doesn't surprise me."

The human contact does help her relax. Her shoulders visibly slump forward. "I got out awhile ago, actually. Just didn't feel safe going out 'til today. S'kind of eye-opening, you know? You don't really think people can treat other people like that, and then… There you are." The smile is returned, briefly.

"Is… Beth okay? I disappeared on her. It wasn't fair. I couldn't really get a message out sooner. Kinda feel like everyone who looks at me is watching me, y'know?"

—-

"I know," Tracy replies, her voice quieting as she adds, "…trust me." While glancing around to fulfill Erin's odd request for noise, the murmur of voices drifts down from the floor above, as if on cue. She glances upward, but moves to turn on the radio on the counter even so. It's tuned to a classical music station — she leaves it there and turns it low before sitting down around the table's corner from Erin. "…Beth is…" She hesitates.. "…I think she's okay. It's been hard on her — you disappearing and … I didn't exactly see eye-to-eye with Taine. But I think it's good for her — to be here, until…"

—-

The quiet noise puts Erin further at ease, and she takes a drink from her glass. "Poor kid. I'm glad she's here." Erin takes another drink. "I wasn't sure what was gonna happen to her when I…" She bites her lip, then says, "I'm glad she's here," again.

Erin debates on telling Tracy exactly what happened to her. In the end, really, Tracy's kind of the only person who'd understand. It was nice for Taine to just hold her and tell her it would all be okay, but Tracy's someone who lived it. Can get angry with her. "It— probably wasn't that bad, I dunno. And it's better now that it's been awhile, but I still— there's still nightmares. I don't think I've gotten a good night's sleep since before…"

The smile is kind of half-hearted when it appears. "I don't always see eye-to-eye with Taine, either. He's a good guy, though. I love him. I told him what happened, and he just— He was there. It was nice."

—-

"Of course it was that bad," Tracy says with conviction. She may not know the details of Erin's incarceration, but she has no doubt. "I wish I could tell you the nightmares go away." She may not be able to do that, but Tracy manages a small smile. It's tired, and slightly distant even though she's sitting right there looking at Erin, but for what it's worth, she understands.

Leaning her elbows onto the table, Tracy gestures faintly at Erin before her palms press together. "Looking out for a kid isn't… exactly my area of expertise," she says — almost chastising, but it falls just short of blame for putting her in this particular situation. Maybe. "But I've just been trying to keep her as safe as I can. At least she trusts me, which is more than I can say for most people," Tracy says with an edge of bitterness, glancing down. Her eyes fall on the flowers. "…I didn't expect this. I didn't expect any of this. There… are others. People like us, staying here. Hiding." The last word is spoken with distaste.

—-

"I don't realy expect them to," Erin says. Maybe they'll get better over time, but they'll never go away. She'll probably never be comfortable in complete silence again, because now it makes her feel like there's something wrong. The opposite should be true, but it's not.

"Beth's sweet. I mean, I don't really like kids myself, but … I dunno. She reminded me of me. I mean, her mother was a witch, and so's mine. Neither of us had much of a childhood. So." Erin shrugs. It just happened the way it happened. "I can't take her back where I am. She's just a kid. If they caught her— I wouldn't be able to blame her if she told them where I was. I'm sorry… Just give me a little longer."

She rubs at the back of her arm distractedly. "Hiding is better than the alternative."

Suddenly she smiles, brightly. "But listen… Me and my sister, we're getting people out. We've already gotten a couple out. We figured out a way — and it's right under the AP's noses. They think people are dying, going through the incinerator - it's so easy. I know it's not much, but at least there's a way."

—-

The blonde's brows lift at Erin's announcement. After a pause to consider, she smiles, briefly matching Erin's brightness. It's even a little proud. "Well kudos!" she says. "Don't let 'em catch you." Tracy's smile starts to fade as she starts to sigh, running a hand through her lengthy hair. "I just— I wish I could do more. Help… more. Make the whole kingdom fall faster. Most've these people here, they don't even understand half of what's going on. They're mostly kids. It's good to put a roof over their head, hide them from this, sure— " and somewhat unprecedented for Tracy, K-Street Ice Queen extraordinaire. " --but… it's not enough. Nathan's out but he has no sway anymore unless he decides to announce it to the world and have the Protocols come down on him again, my contact on the inside is all about information-gathering and the waiting game… and I can't even-- "

—-

"We're being… careful." Not brazen and bold like she was before. "We got a virus in there. One of mine — I made it. Only affects Evolved. It's self-limiting, but Janet's making it look like it's deadly. She's stopping their hearts, taking 'em to the incinerator, and getting 'em out." Erin's smile fades, too. "I hope she's bein' careful. I'd do it myself, but I can't go back there."

Erin's not sure they can topple the AP. Maybe they'll be on the run for the rest of their lives. Who knows? That'll get old fast, though. "…Never thought you've be the motherly type," Erin says, smirking. "Then again…" A shrug is added. That's not really Erin's calling, either, but she adopted a kid, herself.

"My contact on the inside saw her own termination order." 'contact' would be an inadequate description of Cody. "Look, just… We can have a little hope here. Quite a few of the agents think that what they're doing is wrong. They're gonna end up destroying themselves. I hope."

It's a long-shot. "But they're getting people to agree to become weapons. That's— that's the problem. I did. I told them yes. I just wanted it to stop."

—-

Tracy can't help but give Erin an arch of her brows and unimpressed look around the word motherly, as if to say are you serious? It doesn't last long as she takes in the rest of what her friend is saying. She can't exactly judge when Erin tells her that she agreed to being used as a weapon. Though Tracy would like to think she wouldn't have done the same, she knows what its like in there. She frowns sympathetically; says nothing of it.

"After you disappeared I found this man— an agent, in his home…" Found, in this case, doesn't imply a happenstance discovery. It means hunted down. "…there were… papers… files… I think he hated what he was doing. He was going to leave," Tracy admits slowly, ultimately glancing down before the ugly and once-distanced emotion known as guilt happens to show. "Or… try to." Agents against the Protocol have gotta be the minority, but … yeah. Some of them— must have no idea."

Tracy lifts her head once more, gaze unyielding in contrast to those uneasy emotions seconds prior. "If they lose loyalty… prisoners… de Souza. Sooner or later something's gotta give. Take out enough pieces and eventually anything'll come crashing down."

—-

"Janet didn't know. She had no idea. She was so indoctrinated into the idea that she was treating terrorists that she wouldn't listen to anything else. Then they got me in there." That conversation they had when Janet walked into her cell was incredible, even if they didn't actually say anything. It was a turning point. "If I hadn't been captured, she'd probably still be treating 'terrorists.' So I guess some good came from it."

Erin doesn't really feel guilt around the people she attacked. It's more like anger that they dared be good people. Okay, maybe it's a little guilt. A little. She hasn't volunteered to cure Jo, though. Erin's quiet for a long time, looking down at the table before she says, "It's a war. Not everyone knows what they're getting into when they sign up for it. It's like Vietnam — or, hell. The war in Iraq right now. You think you're signing up to defend justice and liberty, and in the end, you just become the bad guy. So… more power to 'em if they figure it out. Doesn't mean they didn't already do some pretty fucking awful things."

It's a very thinly veiled attempt at reassurance. They deserve what they get.

Erin takes another drink from the glass. "I hope you're right, Tracy." She pauses. "Do you ever… feel like less of a person? Like you're not good enough to be human?"

—-

Even though Erin's reassurances (such as they are) and comparisons make perfect sense, Tracy shakes her head. Perhaps it's not at Erin at all, though — it's at everything. All of it. She closes her eyes for a moment before regarding the other woman long and hard, thinking.

"…No," Tracy eventually answers, utterly decisive and confident. "No. There was a time I felt like— a freak. Not good enough to live when I wasn't what I thought I was. Because I was dangerous. But," she gives Erin a cool look and a flippant shrug. "I got over it." She studies the new redhead — seeming concerned about what she finds, she leans over the table to plant a hand on Erin's wrist. "Doing… what we can do, Erin, it doesn't make us … less human. It makes us … more than."

—-

"Well I do. And yeah, I felt like a freak at first. I hated this whole— Everything. I hated it all. This is something different. I could be dangerous or not, and I'd still feel like I was just a tool. A walking, thinking, feeling tool, but that's all I'll be to some people."

Her wrist is no longer bruised, but she still doesn't like it being touched. It's hard for her not to pull her hand away, but she leaves it on the table. "I wanted to die. I asked Janet to kill me. If she — If she didn't have another way, I think she would have, and even if we're doing something now, I don't know how to just… get over it. I'm trying. But I look at Taine, and I just… Feel that he's something more, because he doesn't have to deal with this. I mean, if I didn't have the ability to make people sick, they wouldn't have stuck me in this little room and… And… Sixteen hours. I was going to snap."

—-

Tracy's hand is pulled back, away, but she leans in further, making sure she looks Erin right in the eye, every inch of her face stern and resolute. "Listen, I know exactly how you feel," she states.

She's given a motivating talk in her career but she has a hell of a lot more personal conviction here and now as she stares down Erin. Her is voice is absolutely matter-of-fact and frank, edging on angry.

"I was given this ability without any say. I wasn't born with it, I dunno if anyone was. So I've been used from the start. When I found out what I could do, I ignored it until I killed someone, 'n' then? I wanted to die. I used and manipulated by someone — Ivory — who I thought was on my side, I was held captive, they did everything in their power to make me feel less than human too and I'm sure they wanted to turn me into a tool too, but you know what, no, these abilities might come with a lotta problems but we have an edge on everyone. So try harder. You just hafta snap out've it 'n' realize you're better than that. You're helping people. You're saving their lives."

—-

Erin doesn't doubt that Tracy knows how she feels. A small nod is given when it's said.

Eventually, she looks up, confused. "Given?? I didn't… know they could actually do that." There was Cody's theory— shit, maybe Jo really does have an ability. She'll have to pass that along! Partially because hearing about Jo's suffering is pretty awesome.

"Ivory," Erin mutters, frowning. She's not a fan, even if he was. He was the cause of so much of this. "I guess I was lucky. The first people I hurt— They didn't die from it." Doesn't mean she didn't eventually kill someone. First time was an accident. Second? Not so much.

Tracy's heart-to-heart does make her smile a little, though. It helps to hear someone else besides a double-agent say it. Erin likes Cody, but she knew Tracy before all this crap started going on. "Good to know you had it worse," Erin says jokingly, though the humour is dry and lacking. She hesitates for a moment, before reaching out for Tracy's hand. "Thank you. Thanks. I just… I'll need some time. Getting out is helpful."

Speaking of… "Do you have any room left here? We're getting these people out, but… We don't have anywhere for them to go. We can take on a couple, but if you can take some, too…"

—-

Tracy smirks at Erin, wry; the laugh that follows is softer. "Hey, that was an excellent inspirational speech if I do say so myself, so you'd better remember it," she says with a hint of a joking tone. Most importantly, she felt every word of it. With Erin's hand on hers, she lays her other atop Erin's before sitting back in her chair rather than leaning so intently.

"Send them. If we run out've space, I know other places they can go," Tracy says of the escapees-to-be. "And yeah. Someone can… make us. Or could. God, if the Protocols have their hands on that formula…" Scary thoughts. "Doesn't sound posible, though. I don't know a lot about it myself ,but the doctor who did this to me is in an institution. He said he couldn't recreate it." She pauses, suddenly, considering. "Where've you been staying, with Janet?"

—-

Erin can't even remember half of the stuff she has to remember. "I'll be okay. I had the opportunity to unload on someone who was there, so I did. That's all." Will this be an end to all her worries? No, not by a long shot. It makes things easier, though. A little.

This gets Erin wondering if she was 'made,' too. "I… don't think I was. Thinking back on it… I think my parents must just be able to make freaks like me n' Caleb. Janet and Mika haven't shown any ability yet, but who knows? I was almost thirty before mine showed up." Erin pulls her hand back, crossing her arms and leaning on the table.

"I wouldn't stay with Jan. It's too risky. There…" She hesitates telling Tracy about Cody, but then… they're all on the same side, right? "There was an agent on the inside. Cody. I'm staying with her."

—-

"For me, it was two years ago." Making Tracy older than Erin when she discovered her ability — and hers was created. Who knows? The little revelation about Erin's new roommate barely ruffles her; she does give her friend a concerned look, seeming to calculate a hundred risks in a second, but it's calm, overall. "Baker." She recognizes the name. She's quiet for a moment, a quiet, vaguely familiar sonata filling the silence from the nearby radio. "Warn me before you bring anyone here. Wouldn't wanna scare the masses."

—-

"Baker, yeah. I… almost killed her. I mean, I was walking out the door, and she … started telling me all this stuff. So I didn't. I think… if it wasn't for her, we'd all be in a lot more trouble." Okay, Erin feels a little bad about that gaffe. Still, it worked out. For some reason, they're more than just tolerant of each other; Erin even likes the former agent's company. "I will. I'll get word to you somehow, probably soon." Standing, she pulls her hooded sweatshirt back around her shoulders. "And I'd stay longer, but if I don't get back, Cody's gonna have a cow. So." She turns toward the door. "Hey, when this is all over, you wanna go get drunk?"

—-

Tracy gets to her feet as well, arms that also crossed now drifting to her sides as she follows, leaving the radio's music behind. It only sounds eerie in the quiet house this time of night. Definitely being turned off later — or to another station.

At the front door, she has a very simple and emphatic answer for Erin.

"…Yes."

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