eileen_icon.gif joseph_icon.gif

Scene Title Kindly
Synopsis Eileen delivers Danko's message to Joseph with results that anyone who knows both of them could probably have anticipated if given prior warning.
Date February 21, 2010

Grand Central Terminal

It would be pretty awesome if something could go right. Like maybe, if Joseph were to try and clean the dishes from last night's dinner left by the usual Terminal operators, maybe they won't slide in a small avalanche and crack freshly cleaned porcelain onto tile to splinter in pizza-slice white shards. His apology to those alerted to the noise rode with a snappish remark upon someone trying to help him, until he finds himself mostly alone and cleaning up broken glass.

For all that the past several months has been a comedy of errors, he manages not to cut himself.

It's been a week. The worst is gone, which means Joseph will have to start functioning again. Going outside or something. Claims of weakness and pain are accepted by the medics still lingering down here — it's reasonably typical, and he's not lying. But he's not unhappy for a reason to skip one more Sunday of church, and the way there's no dawning light down here, no particular outward indication that a new day is coming into being, relieves him a little of visceral guilt.

Having secured a dustpan from some unknown corner — if someone could find such a thing down here, it would be Joseph Sumter — he finds himself kneeling on tile in what was once a concourse hallway of an incredibly busy railroad station. The portable kitchen set up is a permanent feature and by now, he's wiped it down and cleaned it, and focuses on scooting sand-fine plate remains up off the ground. It's all very domestic, without context — he's in jeans and a sweater, his feet clad in slippers, it being still early in the morning, and he has an electric kettle freshly boiled with water although he's since neglected it.

Pale, quiet, and looking as if this simple task takes physical effort, the only thing that differentiates Joseph from the rest of the detoxers is his determination to differentiate himself.

Eileen doesn't go to church. Not regularly. When she was still too young to comprehend the reasons why but old enough for it to have left a mark, Sophia took her and Nicholas a few times a year during occasional periods of penance. It's not a feat that their mother should be proud about in terms of overcoming physical difficulties — the density of churches, chapels and cathedrals in London is unmatched anywhere else in England.

She remembers putting on her dark gray dress, buckle-up shoes and bright red overcoat — the one with the buttons Nicholas had to help her with — and being allowed to wear a white English rose plucked from one of the bushes that grew outside St. Paul's on Ludgate Hill, the highest point in the city and therefore, at least according to Sophia, the closest to God.

Much less memorable were the services themselves. Only when she fell in with the Vanguard and visited sites like the Chapel of St. Gildas in Brittany, France, or the much more impressive Novodevichy Convent and Cemetery in Moscow did she start paying attention to what the structures and the men who built them represented.

Men like Joseph Sumter.

Bright red overcoat traded for something in charcoal with easier buttons, Eileen moves down the concourse at a leisurely pace reflected in the sound of her footsteps echoing throughout the terminal. Her dress is still gray, stockings made from nylon rather than wool. On her feet: functional red heels in place of buckle-up shoes that look like they'd fit a child's doll as easily as the child herself. She doesn't need her mother's permission to wear flowers in her hair. Today, it's a scarlet chrysanthemum lifted from the florist down the street on a whim when he wasn't looking.

Some things do not change. "Pastor," she greets.

The tap-tap-tap of footsteps gets a glance, and Joseph does what he does whenever well-dressed people come down this way — ignores them for however long it takes for them to go away or— say his name. Or title, in this case. The bright blue plastic dustpan rattles with the porcelain pieces, settling back into a more relaxed kneel as he places this up onto the work station beside him. "Joseph," he corrects, without particular inflection, working to get to his feet. He may feel exceptionally homely in worn jeans and a sweater he's slept in, slippers and a fever sheen still on his brow—

But he doesn't have to be kneeling on the ground like a scrubmaid either. There's effort, there, but he moves quick enough, as if to bar off offers for help. Before anyone asks, his left leg does twinge, oldish scar tissue pulling with the movement, but it doesn't show.

"Eileen," is said with some reservation in return, studying his palms for dirt before wiping them off on his pants anyway. "You lost?" It's kind of a joke, and his eyes even crinkle at the corners, but he's awkward around people who haven't shot him in the leg and then helped save his life.

Ha, ha, ha. That is the sound of Eileen not laughing. She slows as she approaches, her hands gloved in leather and occupied by a small clutch-style purse that matches the red colour of her heels, the chrysanthemum and the lipstick she used to paint her mouth when she sat down in front of her vanity mirror much earlier this morning. She's come straight from St. John's, having sat through the morning prayer and some of the Holy Eucharist.

It's rude to walk out in the middle, she knows, but there are only so many hours in the day and she doubts anyone except the stone angels and the statues of the saints were offended when she opted to leave before receiving the Lord Christ. No amount of time spent in a cathedral is going to help her reconcile with the fact that she's struck a bargain with Emile Danko.

"No," she says evenly, "but I have a message for you."

There's something here— maybe in the English accent, the stolen flower tucked into her dressed hair, or the matching shoes and clutch purse, the painted lips, the distance she lays between them from where prim feet have click-clicked to a halt on the sloping tile or the way she didn't ask him how he was— that has Joseph not offering her a cup of tea. Participating in a rescue mission might negate a bullet to the leg— kind of— but that doesn't mean Joseph has to like her. Probably something to do with shame, too, he's been more wrong than she has.

Fidgety, he pulls the sleeves of his sweater over the backs of his knuckles, unconsciously hiding away marks where saline drips from both his time in Bella's facility and detox down here have left marks. "Okay," he says, shifting attention from somewhere over her left shoulder then back to her eyes. "Let's hear it."

It has occurred to Eileen that Danko never stipulated when she had to talk to Joseph. Her eyes move to the sweat beading on his brow to the shadows under and around his eye sockets before finally settling on his eyes themselves. They're very brown.

A cup of tea would be nice. Two sugars and a dash of milk. Fish paste sandwiches. Scones with clotted cream and tart blackberry jam. Eileen is feeling desperately uncaffeinated right now, not to mention hungry. She opens her purse with a sharp snap that resonates like the crack of a gunshot but isn't quite loud enough to make her flinch.

Nicotine is an appetite suppressant, so it's probably not a surprise when she withdraws a solitary cigarette from the package she keeps in the purse on the rare occasions that she carries it. A book of matches, too, one stick twisted deftly away from the rest and then struck against the striking strip with a birdlike flip of her wrist as soon as she's steered the cigarette into the corner of her mouth.

"Danko wants to speak with you," she mumbles around the filter. That wasn't so hard, was it?

That wasn't so hard and achieves the primary objective, but it's about to get all the more difficult, starting from where Joseph blinks at her without comprehension.

More to explain, more to contextualise, but she certainly has his attention as opposed to twitchy, self-conscious avoidance, and he scuffs a step forward. "What are you— what are you talkin' about, Danko wants to speak with me? Danko don't want nothin' to do with me," he says, and there's nervous, disbelieving laughter in his voice, a little bit forced.

It's gone by the time he gets around to— "What's going on?" With Eileen talking to him, with Eileen not killing him, with Eileen running requests for Danko. Curiously enough, not about how Danko is around at all — that much has finally trickled its way to Joseph, slotted into the category if miscellanious things that make his life wonderful.

"Danko wants to play with your head," Eileen corrects herself mildly, "and then he's going to put a bullet or two in it." Cigarette lit, she snuffs out the match with a short breath blown through her nostrils. For good measure, she gives it a brisk shake afterwards, creating strange, trailing patterns of wispy smoke in the Terminal's stale air, and then drops it into Joseph's dustpan amidst the broken glass and porcelain.


"Long story made short: Your government passed down a pardon that he's spending in lockdown at Holliswood Hospital while he recovers from a morphine addiction." Eileen pauses to suck on her cigarette, lips pursed, and runs her tongue over the front of her teeth when she removes it from her mouth, exhaling. "He has information I want and wouldn't part with it unless I agreed to tell you that he'd like to get together and talk. Which you won't, by the way."

His eyes tick to the right and then down somewhere in the middle of that, abruptly showing Eileen his back as he moves towards the kitchen until. Still things to put away, although his movements are uncertain as if unsure of where everything goes. As if too busy thinking as opposed to remembering. Plates are half-heartedly stacked, before he brings a hand up to knuckle against his brow, only the faintest of tremors making a shiver in his fingers, until both hands draw away quickly and shove into his pockets.

"If I won't, then why're you tellin' me? He just wanted you to pass along the sen'iment?" He's still talking to clean dishes rather than her, gathering up cutlery and remembering where they go, spilling them into place with a tinny clatter of metal.

"Well, now you're asking me to make insights into my own behaviour that require a kind of self-awareness I unfortunately lack." And if Eileen hadn't been thinking about it since she woke up this morning, she wouldn't have an answer for him. "If I had to wager a guess, I'd say that I'm telling you because I feel I wouldn't deserve the truth if I didn't. Either that or I'm secretly hoping you're just deranged enough to take him up on his offer so one of my associates can climb onto a roof and pick him off at one hundred and fifty yards with a hunting rifle."

Eileen dangles the cigarette from between the knuckles of her fingers, smoke trickling from her nostrils as she fixes Joseph with an utterly frank look. "Choose whichever excuse you think is nobler," she says. "I'm going down in flames and it would be nice to be remembered as something better than I am."

"Now you're just bein' hard on yourself."

Porcelain grates together when Joseph puts plates away with just enough force to rattle them. Trust last night to be the night where paperplates wouldn't cut it. "Tell me somethin'," he starts, taking a step back from the kitchen to turn towards her, black eyes scrutinising. "You'd get the Ferry to order his execution, your friend Teo to pull the trigger and then me maybe to make 'im give you the right kind of excuse to have one of your associates take 'im down, but you get in a room alone with him and you're happy to take your time?

"I dunno about noble— I'm hardly the one t'be decidin' what is and what's not, let me tell you. But you can stop that, right now — I judge by actions, not intentions, and I'm not about to get talked down to by someone half my age or thereabouts." A pause, then, "He hasn't changed, has he?"

"No," Eileen says of Danko. "He hasn't." Joseph's reaction has evoked a flicker of emotion from the young woman, her mouth curving ruefully around her cigarette when she raises it back to her lips, its filter smeared red. "Your bleeding heart gave him the opportunity to murder one of our associates who also happened to be a very dear friend of mine, and he took it. Greedily. I should go back with a gun fit snug in my purse and empty the clip into that skinny rat body of his."

But she won't. "Believe me, Joseph, as soon as I can confirm that the information he gave me is legitimate, I'm not going to waste any more time letting him snap at our heels."

"You think I had a bleedin' heart for Emile Danko?" Now it's honest disbelief Joseph squares at her. "No, it bled for what you'd turn the Ferry into." He's not sure if he feels more like himself than he has in days, having this conversation, or if he feels so far away from who he tries to be that he doesn't even know where it starts anymore. "And maybe it bled for you too, when I didn't tell the whole damn network that despite the majority vote of people you handed the choice to, you deemed yourself smarter than all of 'em and shot me to take matters into your own hands."

He doesn't have any props in his hands — no cutlery to throw around like a passive aggressive housewife, or a Bible to wave at her, or even a wedding ring to spin on his finger — and so they just clench into fists at his sides. "You want to be a murderer, that is fine by me, and I'll pray for you. But don't act like you're doin' it outta the best interests for the Ferry, because you're not. He wouldn't be snappin' at our heels now if you hadn't'a snapped first."

"Don't you fucking put this on me." Eileen's words are very quiet, but they're also very guttural and hoarse, and the way that her voice shudders when she speaks strongly implies that she'd be raising it if a shouting match wouldn't draw attention or disturb the other residents of the Terminal. "The Ferry's job is to protect people who aren't capable of protecting themselves," she snarls, "and sometimes that involves making difficult decisions. Treason. Murder. Emile Danko burned down a church and lynched three people outside the flaming wreckage, including its pastor, to prove his genetic superiority or maybe just the size of his dick."

Too furious to keep a clasp on her cigarette, she tosses it to the ground and stamps out some of her aggression, burning paper and cheap tobacco crushed under the toe of her shoe. "I didn't start this blood feud. Humanis First did."

Which is annoying because probably Joseph or someone else is going to have to clean that up, this counting as part of their living space and there's an ashtray just over there. He doesn't reprimand her, however, putting an arm around his midsection and resting his elbow against it, hand up to rub at his face. His palm opens in a gesture as he states, wearily, "Don't you think I know that? Don't you think I know if anyone— if anyone is to blame for how this whole mess started, it would be me? That was my church he targetted, my words he listened to, my gateway that opened this whole plague up on the Ferrymen.

"And so maybe I feel a little responsible for what happens to him. And maybe I don't want you tryin' to wrest this from me. I ain't puttin' anything on you, Eileen, but I'm tellin' you kindly to back the fuck off instead o' mouthin' off about my morals and my bleed— "

Words slice off, a shuddery breath ensuing as he puts a hand out to steady himself on a nearby chair, face suddenly going stark pale. Anger wars with whatever wave of pain and nausea's tided over this time, kindled also by the fact it has.

"You had your chance." Any instinct Eileen might have to go to him, place her hand on his arm and help him into his chair is tempered by her fury, which is — at least by her estimation — righteous and deserved. Joseph's paleness is matched by the natural pallor of the young woman's own skin, though her cheeks have taken on an angry hue at some point during their conversation, her face flushed pink.

"You had your chance," she says again. "You got exactly what you wanted. Your tormenter in government custody and not a drop of blood on the Ferry's hands to show for it." Her hand is in her purse, but the sound of loose change rattling inside of it is strangle absent. Instead: a faint rattling. "We did things your way. You relinquished any claim you might have had on his life when men in uniform threw us both into the back of a fucking van, and if you think you disagree with me now, just wait—"

Her hand comes free of the purse, gloved fingers hooked around a small orange bottle with a white cap. The person whose name the medication was originally prescribed for has been scratched out with a black felt marker, but Joseph can clearly read the label from where he stands hunched over the chair.


She slaps it down onto the table with a terrible banging sound that's louder and more discordant than any of the words she and Joseph have exchanged.

"I don't need this anymore," she hisses, and the implication is that he does.

A chair scrapes from the table as if to underscore her words, Joseph sitting down heavily as the world shudders out of balance around him, the light suddenly too bright and stomach rolling over like a dead thing. The slamming down of the med bottle has him flinching as if in the midst of a hangover, but he glances at the label, and recognises the name from when he'd stopped drinking.

That's probably why he places a hand over it and shoves it over the edge to skitter where it may, almost as much as it has to do with who is offering it and how. The childproof function of the cap stops pills skittering all across the floor.

"Don't tell me I got what I wanted. I did not. But maybe I got what I deserved." Elbows on the table, head held in his hands, Joseph allows himself the time it takes to breathe in and out. "Why'd you help get me outta there? That's what I want to know. I got your friend killed, by your count."

"Because you're Ferry," is one answer, and the first that winds its snaking way out of her mouth. "Because no one deserves what Sheridan put you through," is another. "Because I shot you in the leg, maybe crippled you for life. Because, no matter how much your blind faith repulses me, there are those of us who can stand to learn some compassion and humility, both of which you have in excess."

Eileen's purse clicks shut, clasp pinched between her fingers. She's moving away, not to pick up the discarded bottle of medication — that she steps around on her way out, her focus squarely on Joseph and not the volunteers beginning to encroach on their territory, attracted to the sounds of a brewing argument. "Because you didn't get Gabriel killed." He does have a name. "I did."

"Alright." Alright. Joseph is tired, and pain is better suffered alone. He lifts his head to look at her, hands clasping, and there's nothing much reflected for her to read in black, dilated eyes. He flicks a glance to the presence of others, then back to her. "I don't know how much longer I'll be down here or else I'd advise you to not come back unless you need it. As it happens, I guess we can see about keepin' out of each others' way. Go on, now — you passed on your message."

Eileen's tongue catches on something. A warning, maybe. Threat. Apology. Uncertainty outlines otherwise scornful eyes with softer worry, and there are a few moments where she unconsciously allows some of the tightness to leave her mouth when she looks at him. She wants to tell Joseph again not to engage Danko, but she doesn't.

Can't. Whatever's going on inside of her won't let her. It compels her to show him her back and move her feet, slim legs carrying her back through the concourse the same way that she came, unheralded by anything except for the somehow brassy echo of her footsteps.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License