All You Need Is Love


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Scene Title All You Need Is Love
Synopsis Deckard's patience with Joseph's newly found fascination with Refrain runs out when he finds him locked into a bathroom by himself up to no good. They wind up duking it out on the toilet at the cost of dignity and decor. But mostly dignity.
Date October 15, 2009

Old Lucy's: Upstairs

With a high, frosted window opened just a fraction, enough daytime light seeps into the room that the lights above Joseph do not have to be switched on, but they are anyway. Enough illumination so that he can see what he's doing, because even now, the process still makes him nervous. So light glares off tile, off porcelain, off white walls and mirrors and glass, bleaching back shadow.

The brightness of the drug itself never dims, either, no matter how long it's squirreled away in any amount of dark drawers or pockets. There's a trace of it left, trapped in the syringe, the last drop that never gets completely squeezed out. It sits recapped and neglected between his feet, which are braced against the tile, knees bent with his elbows resting against them as he sits on the ground, back curved away from the cabinet doors behind him. He holds his head as if he could physically contain the waking dream, the memory starting to both overflow and drain away.

In contrast to the shining edges and surfaces of the bathroom, he's a collection of soft materials, of faded denim and cotton and pallid skin. No sounds, save for shallow breathing. Somewhere beyond the otherwise empty apartment, a radio has been left playing.

There's nothing you can do that can't be done.

Voices waver lonely through what initially looks to be an unoccupied apartment, even if a sharp-eyed afternoon employee downstairs has already confirmed that only two of its three residents have left for the day. Nothing moves inside save for the cat curling down off the couch when Deckard leans in after the quiet turn of his key in the lock in a battered black overcoat and dark jeans.

Nothing you can sing that can't be sung.

The close and relocking of the door after him is just as quiet. So is his hood-browed, jut-jawed, cro-magnon advance through the entry and living area, glancing cold into empty bedrooms and around vacant drywall corners as he goes.

Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game~

Somewhere in here is a Pastor Joseph Sumter that isn't taking any calls and isn't responding to knocks at the front door. Somewhere in here is a Pastor Joseph Sumter that is either very busy masturbating or shooting himself up with something else that glows under a blacklight, and it doesn't take long for Flint to narrow it down to the one bathroom door that doesn't open when he jimmies the handle. It doesn't take him long to get through said door either, what with the way he plants a cowboy boot clear through the damn thing hard enough that the frame splinters and the door itself rebounds off the inside wall with a solid WHAM.

It's easy!

No matter what high or haze you may be riding, the gunshot sound of a door breaking open just inches from where you sit huddled on the bathroom tile is going to break through in some way, even if Joseph wasn't fast headed towards sobriety to begin with. With a cussword that trails off before it can be fully articulated— something like "sshhff…"— the pastor cringes inwards, the hands previously holding his head up now to fend off whatever just broke in the door. The spent needle skitters across the floor with a blind twitch of Joseph's foot at an aborted scrabble to get up and/or away.

It had happened in a too-real dream, too, with the crack of glass and a scream from his wife and what had once been a certain, concrete, vividly unpleasant memory was swept into uncertainty when Humanis First came invading the room. Joseph could almost expect the same now, fear slicing sharp through dwindling euphoria until he— actually—

Looks. "Flint," he spits, black eyes dazed. "What— are you— ?" Real? Is a good question, but Joseph isn't in the habit of asking.

Yes, Flint. There's no mistaking dusty brown and grey hair wind-scuffled and bristled short under florescent lights, or the whiplash agility with which bony hands find clawed purchase at the pastor's front and collar to heft him up. Up — (thoughtful of him!) and then into a brutish shove backwardsways past neat curtains and into the shower tub.

He already broke the door, after all. Why stop there with the property destruction?

Notably, he doesn't answer the unfinished question or pause long enough to check for a pulse. Glacial blue flickers aside in enough of a glance to determine that Joseph's skull is still in one piece when he leans to wing the shower on into full freezing blast.

Up, very thoughtful, Joseph hands even gripping onto Deckard's arms if weakly, startled, when he's hauled to his feet. Despite the rough sieze to his shirt, he doesn't expect the shove backwards, legs giving out when they hit the edge of the tub with a sharp cry of surprise— cuts out when his head smacks the opposite wall, and the curtain is torn half off its rings before the sound of the water coming through the pipes fills the room with a hiss.

Cold water through the pipes, Joseph sputtering and twisting— not unconscious!— when it hits him, soaking hair, soaking clothing, hands up as if he could prevent the sudden torrent of water with open palms and curling fingers. They're better used in the next moment to grip against the wall, to get him on his feet which kick at air in effort to get his legs unhooked off the side of the tub.

"Are you insane?" is near snarled by the time he's righted himself. a hand out to frantically twist and turn the shower off.

"Probably," confessed without thought or feeling to get in the way of automatic honesty, Deckard reaches automatically to flip the bathroom light off, hesitates a second, and then flips it back on again for no apparent reason. He can't actually — you know. Anymore.


The break in his rhythm proves to be more of an awkward distraction than he was counting on, and it's a second or two before his brain catches back at its tracks and he stoops after the evidence skittered abandoned somewhere around the back of the toilet. Ish.

Dripping wet, Joseph staggers, nearly slips his way out of the tub, heatedly pushing aside the curtain with his other hand drifting to his head where it had been hit. Numb and bruisy pain meaning he doesn't really catch Deckard's automatic response at all, shock worn on the outside in rapid blinks until the lights flick off, dousing the bathroom in grey, dim sunlight through a small window, than back into sharp focus.

"You— you could have— " Given him a heart attack is not the unspoken end of that sentence, but could be, with the way it's going right now. He snaps his attention towards where Deckard is stooping, half a second of bafflement ticking by before understanding clicks into place, as to what the older man is after, what he's looking for.

Shame is easily, carelessly slapped aside by anger. A hand goes out to grip Deckard's arm, to yank him back and possibly into the adjacent wall, stammered words given a miss in favour of action.

Nearly — got it. Long fingers bump and touch ineffectually against the polished glass cylinder of the syringe enough to roll it half an inch further away with his left hand braced against the edge of the counter to support a deeper lean, and then Joseph's there. He's too off balance to negate the yank with a twisting wrest of that same wiry arm under worn out wool and goes staggering refrainless into the open (and broken) door at his back.

There's a hollow whump of wood to shoulder before he finally catches himself with the brace of his forearm and lunges back in, the full of his lanky weight thrown into Joseph's sodden self and the toilet hunched innocent behind him by default. Again, it's meant to be more of a pushy, shovey sort of action, but with feet and centers of balance fast on their way to tangling in the confined space of the bathroom, he winds up being dragged along by the force of his own momentum.

Aaah— oof. As much as you can grab at the charging bull, it is still charging, and Joseph staggers back as Flint flings himself forward even as his hands come to grip and clench the sleeves high up the older man's arms. Toilet bowl and tank stay impassive and solid when confronted with both men falling into it, limbs flailing and words being hissed— at least by one of them— through gritted teeth.

Wedged into the corner, off-balanced and bruised in interesting places, Joseph's hands clench vice-like on Deckard's arms, fingers digging, before awkwardly pushing to shove him away and off as opposed to true and automatic defense. His expression is tense if oddly lacking in pain, anger, shock.

Largely impassive to pain himself, if not the frustration and bullshittery of this entire situation, Deckard has to jostle to keep his position on top once they're sort of — half on the toilet. The instant his left arm is free, he rakes a hand across what he can reach of the bathroom counter in search of — something. Anything. The ceramic hand soap dispenser proves robust enough to strike him as a promising candidate for 'hard thing to hit Joseph in the face with', but his scrabbling pushes it off into the sink and out of his grasp. Christ.

Rather than relent to pushing away, he resolves to lean more of his weight into pinning Joseph where he is amidst commode (good thing someone put the seat down), torn shower curtains and the cold and wet soaking into his person from the pastor's. It's more substantial than it was even a week ago, and there's natural strength to his maneuvering in the place of death-grip desperation. "Is this what you want to be?"

Teeth bare out into a white line in a frame of wiry grizzle; his right hand tightens its vice grip around a caught wrist. "A soggy piece of shit curled up on the bathroom floor?"

It would be nice if Joseph could claim to be healthier from the past couple of weeks, but he can't. Despite the pushing and the physical nature with which he's trying to grow accustomed to when it comes to the work being done down beneath Midtown, it's only proven to be harder than it should be, for a man in his thirties. Shoving is met with resistance, and so Joseph's arm goes rigid beneath Deckard's wiry grip. The fresh bite of the needle just forty minutes ago is a mark in the crook of his elbow, and it's not the only one.

His head shakes in denial, dark hair plastered to his forehead from both sweat and shower water. A flinch at those words breaking through unconscious stoicism. "Don't do this." It's a shuddery plea, taut with indignation, Joseph going still if tense and resistant beneath Deckard, his hands in fists, one groping only air and the other sealed around a grab of sleeve. "Please, not now."

"When would be good for you? Tomorrow? Saturday?" A roll and snap of the rusty cables strung up into his shoulders is meant to bounce Joseph's skull off the toilet tank, just in case his head wasn't aching enough already. "Do you have someone I can make an appointment with?" Clank — he does it again, sharper than before. "Or should I just call ahead?"

Deckard's breathing hard through his teeth now, seething but still miles short of being back in what passes for peak condition. He's relying mainly upon the sheer physical weight of himself to do the majority of the work involved in whatever this is, which currently seems to be 'pinning Joseph to a toilet.'

"Tell me how you want this to go."

They might break it at this rate, if Joseph's skull doesn't first. His gaze goes almost as unfocused as the look he'd had when Deckard first barged in, grip weakening on the second smack before his hands grow tight again. The lights within the bathroom are nightmarishly bright to his eyes which have only a pounding head to input into; Flint's grizzled snarl and gaunt-if-not-as-gaunt-as-before features surrounding it.

"Want you to get off me," is gasped out, a panicked edge in his voice which mirrors the twist and surge of movement, catching a foot against the floor and levering up against Flint, to twist away, which is about the same time Flint suddenly has his own problems to do with, in the form of fifteen seconds worth of chaotic sound and imagery filling his head.

A man with eyes of a brighter blue than his own, lines drawn into his face of age as well as the distinctive scar that stripes diagonal through his features, splitting apart into dead meat with a screaming tear, and then the blackness fills up with white, and white, and white as snow fall spins like ash and lines ice along the river, a female hand trapped beneath it clawing for release, for air. And on and on, images bleeding into each other, sounds warped and senseless.

Fifteen seconds is a long time when there are fisticuffs in progress.

Resistance builds against resistance, tempered muscle rallying against the promise of steeper violence like a caught shark steeling itself to thrash against tension in the line. Then — snap. The line cuts to black, taking Joseph (and reality) with it.

In one dimension, when Sumter pushes, he rolls off and aside with all the fight of a dead body or rotted log. Too heavy and long-limbed to manuever easily, he still drops away onto the wet floor in a slack heap, leather jacket bunched dark at his shoulders.

In another, he watches a cacophony of everything and nothing careen past into madness with pale eyes that fail to register white lights or any move the pastor between him and them should make to escape. A sudden seize of fresh breath in his lungs jerks him back into the bathroom again, but it's another few seconds before he can baffle his way to lifting his head up off the floor. …What —

And he sees Joseph, who didn't choose now to escape. Not far away at all, even, standing at a lean against the pristine white wall as if any amount of tension could snap and have him crumpling back down to the by now slick, shining tile. Fifteen seconds is enough to drain panic, anger still present if eclipsed by obvious and distraught regret, watching Deckard come to and still working on getting his breathing down to something normal.

"I'm sorry," spills out, as soon as it seems like Flint's eyes are focusing on something that isn't prophetic illusion. A hand goes out, though doesn't close the distance between them, almost in offer as much as it's an attempt at placating. "I'm so sorry, Flint."

Another sharp breath shudders at its end. The chill at his back is water instead of ice. Harsh white is florescent lighting scalding his retinas rather than sheeted snow — the stink of lysed flesh and rot has been replaced by essence of Tidy Bowl Man and steril air freshener. He blinks hard, scrubs a sleeve over drool collecting at the corner of his mouth. Sets his scruffy head back into the puddle he lifted it out of.

Maybe one day he'll Russian roulette his way into an ability that puts people on their ass. Until then, he's maybe going to stay down here for a little while and study the nearby flop of the ruined shower curtain. "T'en fais pas."

Joseph's hand remains out and hovering for as long as it takes for Deckard to slump back onto the wet floor of the bathroom, that hand coming up to rub at his own face, a tremble running up from his spine through his arm, until fingers search back for the collection of bruises he's going to be gaining beneath his hair. It's tempting, to just sliiide back down the wall and curl up until he absolutely has to get moving again, but stays standing, a hand out to steady himself against the abused toilet tank. Dark eyes lazily scan the bathroom floor, but the spent needle doesn't present itself immediately.

He suddenly doesn't care, attention focusing back on Flint, guilt flaring in tandem with renewed, misdirected anger. Joseph's hand drifts down again to grip and hold his inner arm, looking back at Deckard. "You broke the door," is both accusation and question, intoned in crackling gravel and worn in places, but no longer breathless.

"C'est le foute bordel."

Disinclined towards sudden movement while he's still regaining his bearings, Flint eventually works up enough willpower to roll over and away up onto a damp elbow. The gun at his back bares black in its holster when he twists stiffly to the side, exposed in a rumpled lift of jacket and shirt until he's on his knees and has a hand free enough to tug them both down.

From knees to boots, his progress drags against bruised knees and a sore wrist. He doesn't acknowledge the door, or Joseph's concern with the door, glancing instead to his reflection in the mirror until he roughs a hand across the back of his head to try to bristle up the moisture flattened into it.

"Who else is buying this shit for you?"

If Joseph ever did any French in highschool, he didn't care enough about it to store it into his mind as he did later on when it came to Bible books and verses. At the second delicate set of European syllables, it's enough to give the pastor pause, brows furrowing, before dismissing it once more. Deckard knows French. That's not so unusual, in the greater scheme of things.

Not compared to their surroundings, anyway, and the topic of conversation being held within it. Expression shutting down into neutrality, Joseph leans his back against the wall adjacent to the mirror Flint peers at himself in, glancing from reflection, to man, to bathroom tile. "No one."

It's the truth, more or less. "Teo— " Take a breath, let it out. "Teo gave me one to pass on to Ivanov. I didn't. Finally found someone on my own but I dunno if…" He trails off, switches gears, though his words are quiet, close to mumbled. "It went so fast, Flint. I messed up with the second syringe and wasted it."

"Who are you afraid is going to judge you if you try to do something about this? Abby? She's fucking a homeless ex-con old enough to be her father. Felix? He's doing it too. Teo?" One sodden sleeve tugged down even to match the dry one, Deckard fixes the sit of his collar almost as an afterthought, still looking at himself rather than Joseph's reflection layered behind his own.

"You'll have to take my word for it when I tell you he probably isn't interested." A flex of his left hand sees blotched red fading gradually back away from the threat of soreness and swelling. He reaches to draw the soap dispenser out of the sink. Puts it back where it belongs. "I dunno about God, but if I had to guess I'd say he already knows."

As Flint makes efforts to undishevel himself, Joseph follows suit, if minimally. Sopping sleeves are tugged back down his arms, wrinkles between wet and dry fabric according stripes down his arms, absently smoothing out the fabric with numb hands. No other effort is made - he's going to have to change his clothing anyway, still dripping, and he brings his hands up to rub his face once more before his arms come to fold.

"You and Abby, mainly, few others too." None of those that Deckard named, apparently, and Joseph doesn't give details. "I wanted to get it done on my own. Part of me doesn't want to, though." A moment of quiet, nervous laughter, otherwise mirthless. It's different to say it out loud. He hasn't looked up since he looked down. "It's got somethin' I need."

"Yeah. I think that's how addiction works," Deckard states in such a 'duh' tone of voice that it could just as easily have come from a chain-smoking 12 year old. In any case, a glance at the felled shower rod and curtain determines that both are a lost cause. Without anything else to busy his hands with, he's left to turn back to Joseph, who is…looking down.

"Regarde-moi dans le blanc des yeux. You need to be in rehab, or you're going to wake up handcuffed to a car door in Midtown for a few weeks. Placating you hasn't done a goddamn thing."

French, again, doesn't register, but tone does, dragging Joseph gaze up from tile to Deckard's eyes, confusion at first before something more guarded and closed, the usual earnestness that suits him so well usually turned inwards. There are keywords there, like handcuff, and few weeks, and it doesn't get much reaction save for Joseph peeling a hand off his arm to splay his fingers in a pleading don't gesture, visible neutrality keeling over into the territory of stony stoicism.

But— a break in his gaze again, a glance towards the mirror before forcing it back to Deckard. He hasn't taken his weight off the wall, and, around a tight throat, manages to get out an; "Okay."

"Okay," echoed too flatly to really be encouraging once frigid eye contact has broken off, Deckard scuffs at the mussed grizzle of his hair again and moves to step out, leaving Joseph to his spent needle and battered bathroom without any kind of offer to help clean up or — explain. At all. There's no offer of healing extended, either. He's out like he came in, brusque if not quite as noisy.

It's not quite the effect of a puppet's strings being cut, but tension that Joseph didn't even know he had goes flooding out of his system when Deckard is rounding out around the door, leaving destruction and bruises that, frankly, at least acts as something else to focus on. The crinkling sound of the shower curtain being gathered up follows Deckard's trek through bedroom, nothing else heard by the time he is shouldering his way out the apartment completely.

Joseph, however, is privileged to the definite sound of the front door closing, which is responded to with the flinging down of the sopping plastic fabric in favour of leaning heavy against the sink for however long it takes to collect himself again.

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