Anything You Say Can And Will


danko_icon.gif joseph_icon.gif

Scene Title Anything You Say Can And Will
Synopsis …be used against you. Joseph learns as much the hard way without ever having known anyone was even listening.
Date July 30, 2009

Joseph's Apartment

There's a clock on the wall, semaphore arms indicating that it's late in the evening, as if the darkness didn't already indicate such a thing. Nighttime ambience makes little impact against the thick drapes of the one window within the main room that peers out onto the Greenwich Street below, opposite the front door. The cosiness of the living area is offset by the bone-white light of streetlamps and moonlight, shades of grey defining the angles of the perpendicular sofas, the coffee table in the center, the TV with its blind black eye in the corner. A bookshelf, filled and orderly, is also the resting place for statuettes, figurines of ivory-white, saintly figures along with Jesus Christ and Mary. A cross accompanies the clock in that it, too, is nailed to the wall.

The kitchen is separated only by the way the floor changes from carpet to linoleum, with a table set upon the harder ground, a couple of chairs tucked in. Paperwork and text books as ever litter the surface, rarely ever used to eat at, though the rest of the space is perfectly clean and tidy. A white plastic phone is tucked onto a shelf just above the oft used microwave.

A doorway opens up between the rooms, guarded by a sleeping dog curled upon the threshhold, and fast asleep. The darkness beyond reveals a simple bedroom, as tidy as the rest of the space, sheets turned up though clothes have been left upon it to be dealt with later. The small bathroom lies adjacent, a small frost-glass window above it, and so ends the tour of a small, Greenwich Village apartment, fit for one man and his dog.

Fit for one man, one dog…and one burglar. 5/6 of one burglar, anyway. A compact figure in dark fatigues passes soundlessly from one end of the kitchen to the other, matte, military black from close-fit balaclava to the soundless tread of his boots over linoleum tile. Miniature notebook at ready, he takes his time in turning gloved hands through the papers that litter the kitchen table, lifeless grey eyes pawing after names and strings of numbers with no consideration for the privacy of their owners. Most of them are harmless. Maybe all of them. Doesn't stop him from scratching down any that look promising.

Particular care is taken for anything that looks relevant around the plastic case of the phone. Then he's moving: a scuff of canvas over velcro, a filter of white over grey when he slithers through a beam of ambient light that slices through the living room's center on his way to the bedroom. It hasn't escaped his attention that there's a big sleepy dog drowsing around in there. Maybe about to get sleepier. Notebook and pen transferred over to his left hand, he levels the simplistic composite of a dart gun with his right, muzzle trained stock-stiff at the animal's shaggy shoulder all the way up to stepping carefully over it.

Formerly a safe place, there isn't a lot of security put into what lies within once locks and closed windows are broken through. Address books with their names and contact information all give under the burglar's prying, some church-side and some not. Alicia thinks to lift her bulky head and twist onto her side lazily to cast a bleary, rolling eyed look upwards at— what appears not to be her master. Big mop paws flop limply at the ends of strong legs as her ears go up, and there's a low growl that rumbles forth from the cavern of her throat.

Likely cut short not a moment later, before a flash of teeth can contemplate joining in on the scenery.

The sound of soft foot steps give warning to the jostle and scrape of a key in the lock. There's nothing sneaky about it, abruptly filling the languid quiet with the sound of someone entering without the breaking part. A slice of hallway light beams into the living room, cut off mainly by Joseph's stocky frame as he sidles inside, turning his back to close the door, secure the lock along with the chain. You know. From threats outside.

A hoarse, "Shh," gives way into a curt pull of the trigger and puff of air when great muscles start to stir behind jaws that Emile Danko would really rather not have wrapped around his leg. The initial effect is close to immediate. The gun is reholstered and Alicia goes back to sleep, not a worry left in the world. The secondary effect is potentially more worrisome: when Joseph sidles in through the door and locks it behind him, there's no big dumb doggy face blending out of the shadows to greet him.

In fact, save for a warm rush of dank city air through the sliver of an open window and a pleasant roll of curtains after it, the apartment is conspicuously still and quiet. Another breeze ruffles further than the first, stirring at papers scattered in not quite the configuration Joseph left them in. A last breath of wind tags a bit of tissue-thin scrap down onto the floor while Danko sinks deeper back into the black of the bedroom, pale eyes honed flat after the turn of the lock and the rattle of chain. One uneven block of shadow among many, he watches the rectangle of lighter grey that represents the hallway and livingroom without breathing.

The sound of the chain slid back into place is followed by a rustle of a coat being pulled off and hung up, and then, sharp and cutting, a whistle more at home on a farm than an apartment. "Alicia?" is called, expectantly, over his shoulder, although whatever reaction Joseph is expecting is not immediately sought for, distracting himself with moving to switch on a lamp just next to the nearest sofa, letting yellow, dim light flood the front room. The stillness and silence is much expected for someone who lives alone, and the casual sounds of scuffing feet as Joseph moves around is just loud enough for Danko to pick up, where he lurks.

There's a pause in footsteps, Joseph picking up the piece of loose leaflet paper, turning it over in his hand a few times, wandering to put it back into place upon the table. Silence accompanies, no one around to voice his observations too, as, gently, Joseph moves a hand to push a book back into place from where it had been formerly pinning down loose pages.

It's the kind of eeriness that is dismissable, evidently, Joseph only moving to close the open window, shutting out the warm summer evening breeze blowing through. Given a break, evidently, from a big friendly dog who wants her overdue dinner. A look is cast towards where she's lying on her side at the entrance of the bedroom, and his shadow stretches long into the doorway as he moves on over to possibly shake the dog out of her deep slumber, hand reaching for the ebony curls of her ruff.

One slow breath at a time. Inhale, hold, exhale. Danko tracks Joseph's progress back and forth across the apartment with minute twitches of eye white and flickers of dilation, nostrils flared and jaw locked into a steel trap clamp beneath the muggy heat of the balaclava. There's no movement for the phone; no urgency to his crouch over the felled animal and the dart poking delicate out of her soft ruff. There's time for him to smirk to himself while he stands there and watches, not twenty feet away. So he takes it.

Then he's moving. Clod clod clod, one, two, three light, springy touches of boot over carpet and the fourth plants itself all solid rubber and grit full force into Joseph's face. The same one he thoughtfully conceded to lower down into easy kicking range in his concern.

To add insult to injury, before the cotton can clear out've poor Sumter's skull, there's a mild, "Bet you didn't see that coming," and a second snap of boot to ribs on Danko's way to treading past him, back out of the bedroom.

It's around the time that the plastic of the dart is found by Joseph's unsearching fingers that the sound of footsteps act as the second (third?) indication that something is quite wrong. Joseph crumples backwards to the floor, unfeeling as, belated, bruising pain spiderwebs out from between skin and bone on his face, tasting copper when a voice that isn't immediately familiar accompanies the swift kick that comes next. He gives an unwilling gasp, automatically curling on his side, a hand grasping at the ground.

Then, a groan, as all of these sensations come together to bring Joseph back into the now, and a shudder of breath. A hand comes to touch, wipe his face, black-eyed gaze darting upwards, wide and unblinking, towards where there's the presence of a whole other person in his apartment (5/6ths of one, anyway) treading away from him.

Seconds pass as this is processed. A placating hand goes out as Joseph negotiates his knees back under him, a wince as his ribs protest this action. "Wh… what do you want, you can— whatever it is, j-just take it an'…"

"Do I look like a fifteen year old gangbanger in here rummaging around for a boombox?" From behind, maybe. For all the excess bulk fatigues grant Danko's person, he fails to strike much of an intimidating figure. Even through the fog of Joseph's jostled brain sloshing around in his skull, he looks short and thin. Wiry. Wan. The band of skin that shows through the open portion of his mask when he turns to look back over his shoulder is pale — the eyes even moreso, dispassionate and cold-blooded as the pit viper he vaguely resembles.

Gloved fingers push out, lazy and deliberate in tipping over the single lamp Joseph stopped to light on his way in. It's slow in falling over, quick to fizzle, shatter and spark once it does, dimming the apartment out into shades of grey and black once more.

"Why don't you tell me about your friend Teo? Last I heard there are a few cops out there who'd really like to meet him."

Joseph flinches at the sudden darkness as if it, too, had struck him. He was using that lamp. But expression, posture, breathing too all go very still at that question, disbelief rendering him mute at first. There's a ragged cut inside his mouth from where teeth had pierced just inside of it, leaking blood enough that it's all he can taste, all he can smell, swallowing it away before he can think to summon up a response.

It's not brilliant. "I, uh." Joseph doesn't take his eyes off the other man, getting to his feet, back a little bowed still from the way his torso twinges merrily, an arm folded across his midsection. Pain is a good substitute for fear, and it's what he shows in favour of the latter, which is what he feels more than the former. "I don't know— who that is."

Heart hammering away in his chest, Joseph forcibly takes a breath and stutters out, "I won't tell— I won't call the— the police if you just go, alright?"

"You don't?" Danko almost sounds blandly tolerant, bless his black little heart. There's a papery crinkle from one of his excessively abundant pockets, followed up by a tilt of the unfolded sheet into a scant bar of moonlight to confirm that he's collected the right ones. Then he's tracking his way back across the carpet towards the righted pastor, lifeless eyes sunk into shadow when he stops close enough to offer a glimpse of the paper he's toting around, neat crease lines and all. It's a scaled down photocopy of Teo's dumb puppy mug, black and white and intimately familiar all over. "Teodoro Laudani, pro-evolved terrorist and cop killer. Here from Italy. Spent some time bleeding out on your carpet after murdering a few of the boys in blue with…Flint Deckard, also wanted for multiple murder up until recently."

There's another quiet rustle of paper there, as if he's checking his notes, but there's no need. It's all burned bright into the crevices and knots that comprise his brain and his eyes never leave Joseph's face. "It's my understanding that he referred Abigail Beauchamp to you in regard to a certain…what was it? Tugboat? Freighter…?"

The print out picture is displayed and inevitably looked at, though recognition is masked by a growing sense of hopelessness. Somewhere along the way, Joseph has made a mistake, and he can't for the life of him imagine what it might be, although he tries to figure it out now as he stares at the image, then up towards Danko's stare. There's a twitch of a head shake at this notion of Teo killing policemen, denial, but it isn't given a voice for more reasons other than the fact he'd probably just stutter it out.

Names, names, and then Abby's comes up and Joseph's jaw tenses, resentment now taking over shock, fear, pain; growing a little steelier although not without a sense of being cornered, too. No denying that. "Ferrymen," he finishes, voice somewhat harsh. Resigned. Swallowing again, trying to ignore the pulsing pain in his mouth that comes with each syllable, he asks, with only a vague tremor, "Who are you?"

"If I wanted you to know that, I wouldn't have bothered with the mask."

Satisfied that his point's been made, Danko takes his sweet time watching emotion play fine through subtle pulls of muscle beneath the soft lines in Joseph's face, fascinated after a cold fashion. The way resistance twists taut when certainties solidify for the worst. The way some names tend to elicit more powerful responses than others.

It's odd how lax Danko is in turn, posture sloped slack with big cat confidence that doesn't quite have room to take hold in his narrow shoulders. A flash of steel in the clench of Joseph jaw inspires nothing more urgent than brief focus on the change there while he folds Teo over and pushes him back into the pocket he's set aside for such things.

"Suffice it to say, I'm the man who's going to destroy everything you are and hunt down everyone you love." There's a touch of a drawl quiet on the edge of his voice, dry as ashen grass not yet dissolved by the wind in the wake of a nuclear holocaust. "You've made some unfortunate decisions, Pastor Sumter. Grown attached to some unfortunate friends." He takes a step forward – cocky little bastard – chin tipped up to compensate for the magnification of their height difference that accompanies the movment. "Better start praying now. Kiss enough ass and by the time we're finished God may be more merciful than I am."

There is something aggravatingly familiar about his voice. This, only just stars occurring to Joseph, an annoyance more than anything else, the niggling feeling like he has missed something just as major as whatever mistake he had made along the way. Nothing, though, memory offers up nothing - there are too many voices over the course of however many months for one to readily offer itself to him as a match.

"Whatever this— " His voice hitches, a stronger tremor. Joseph would love to be praying. It'd make him feel better. He, however, devotes his voice to coming out true, to summon words that might assist him in more earthly ways than asking for divine intervention. There's about as much tension in his posture and movements as their is casual confidence in Danko's. "I don't know how you— know any of this, but y-you're looking for the wrong people to blame— "

Anxiety and anger in equal measures are doing much to force him to stumble over his words. He's not really sure what he's meant to be saying. He swallows, then gives a deprecating sounding breath of a chuckle. "Nothin' I can say'll have you leavin' us alone, huh?"

"Oh no. Thanks to you, I know exactly who I'm looking for." There's a cinch at the corners of Danko's eyes — a cant at faded brows that falls comfortably between smugly self-assured and coolly condescending while he reaches to unholster the dart gun bound against his leg.

A nudge of one boot into Alicia's side determines that the mutt is still safely sound asleep. A side-footed shove with the same boot sees the mass of her rolled further away from his own footing with little attention paid to where overlarge doggy limbs flop and loll in the process.

"Nothing any of you animals say is ever going to change anything." A fresh dart is loaded in, needle cap clicked carelessly aside across the floor before the butt of it vanishes into the gun. His eyes stay up on Joseph all the while, hollow with sleeplessness and soullessness. The reloading process is quick and automatic — a twitch here, a click there and the gun hangs ready at his side. "Any other stupid questions?"

There's a tremor of tension that passes through Joseph's body around the time Danko is planting his foot against the unconscious Newfoundland, a twitch of a hand up in protest when she's shoved, the dog making no sound as she rolls over, paws flopping slackly and the skin of her maw exposing pearly white fangs. She looks dead. From her, to the dart gun, Joseph simply watches it being reloaded with clicks and scrapes of metal and plastic so confidently in front of him, face pale and expression drawn into mute anger and fear that has his teeth gritted together hard enough to creak.

"N-no," he stammers out, almost apologetically. As if he had anything to apologise for, but Danko seems capable of making him feel like he does. And he might. It's a simple equation. There's a loaded dart gun, and one of two warm, moving bodies it could be aiming for.

Considering the slow and careful way Joseph tends to go about things, the movement forward towards the masked man is fast without agility, determined without practice. There's a hand out for the gun and another for whatever part of the man is there for grabbing, an edge of the doorway to shove him into with whatever force his own 6' frame he can muster.

No more questions. Good, then. Danko starts to raise the gun, confident in his own assholery right up until the point where Joseph's standing there tips almost imperceptibly over into the potential for forward movement.

Rather than risk an unscheduled nap should things go further south than he's expecting, The Hunter opts to fire blind past the close of Joseph's hand over his wrist, sleeve scraping stiff and canvasy under his grip. Meanwhile it turns out that 6' of pastor can muster a hell of a shove — Danko thuds back against the doorjamb hard enough that the shattered lamp and a few nearby religious figurines rattle white at their posts. Probably comes as no surprise that he doesn't leave it there. Rather than resist further shoving, he drags forward force still further forward, free arm locked in under Joseph's pit while he swings his opposite leg around to trip itself into prime position for throwing the priest face down onto his dog. He's compact but quick, light but deliberate in each ophidian twist with Joseph's efforts rather than against them.

Unfortunately, neither of those advantages leaves him with any ground to stand on when his had racks blunt off the doorframe for a second time and he goes deaf, dumb and blind. Not for the reasons you might think. Lines etch out between his brows; the aperture of his pupils draws wide open and for a few significant seconds, he's docile in Joseph's hands.

Figurative hands, at least, as the pastor is quick to let go as much as Danko was quick to throw him off. There's a stumble, an effort made not to crush his dog, knee connecting with the carpet and body twisting to face the threat that has… become less of a threat. Horrified, Joseph is frozen where he's sprawled, blinking rapidly and trying to decide if he wants to be in denial as to whether he did that deliberately, or not.

Meanwhile, Danko sees. He doesn't see his immediate surroundings, but he certainly sees. He sees a brick wall with graffiti making veins on its surface, throbbing, alive, and there's blood on the walls for everyone to read, senseless, dripping letters. He's written it himself, a look down on his hands to see that his fingers have been worked to the bone, flesh torn away and ruby red, dripping crystals from fingertips rendered skeletal.

The world twists, and shifts, a kaleidoscope nightmare, senseless and detached from true meaning. Snow and ash in equal parts, powder white, are coming down, swirling tornadoes around. Not from the sky, but from her hands, infinitely large slopes of bone-white, secreting powder, choking smog. Fire ripples up her arms and pale blue-green eyes close within a stark alien face, familiar; wisps of blonde hair curl into ash.

Fire consumes. A gun clicks uselessly in his bleeding hands. There's a sound like thunder, like war drums, like a base beat taking up everything he can hear, thudding and impossibly loud.

As quickly as it came, the visions disappear with a blink, giving way to the silence of the apartment and its grey black shadows. Danko remains untouched, even his mask still in place, as if Joseph had feared to even go near him enough to uncover what he looked like. The pastor has backed away, moving from his bedroom and into the living area, a cellphone in hand and the dialing beeps makes chirps in the quiet, hands trembling.

A sudden lock of tension seizes air back into Danko's system at a gasp, oxygen hissing in and out of haggard lungs through his teeth. He's on the floor — disoriented enough to look first to his own right hand. Still intact. Still gloved. His next breath is forced out at a shudder, taking the sum of everything he's just seen out with it. Later. Or never. Whichever of those is most convenient for him to think about this again.

The chirp of the cell phone catches his ear out've the dark and his head turns after it. The rest of him is quick to follow, discarded dart gun groped for and left behind when it proves not to be within easy reach. No telling how many numbers are already in. Better make this a driveby.

Over the dog, through the hallway, into the living room. Danko stoops low enough to catch at the felled lamp as he goes, cord and all swung around like a cricket bat at the back of Joseph's noggin. Not hard enough to crack skull or send his eyes flying out of his head, but enough to drive the point home, maybe.

The cellphone bounces soundlessly on the carpet as, less soundless, Joseph staggers forward and over, knees connecting with the carpet and forearms slamming down too as the world turns into shifting white and black splotches of light that don't exist in the real world. The screen of grey-black device is lit up bright blue, showing a few numbers that certainly aren't 911, and the light winks out a moment later in idleness.

To Joseph's perception, the apartment is mostly filled with the sound of his heart hammering up near his ears, breathing drawing in and out of his lungs in anxious, shallow gasps. He isn't standing up, the world spinning in dizziness, a headache thundering from the back of his skull. Whatever fight that had him moving in the first place is otherwise gone, save for one miserable sounding question, voice breaking like twigs over itself; "S-saw somethin' bad?"

Something like nausea rises dry at the back of Danko's throat. He's breathing hard too, balaclava increasingly claustrophobic against every hot blast of breath that moistens the cover over his mouth and fogs hot in his sinuses. Rather than answer, when a tremble threatens to set in through the back of one hand at Joseph's question he brings the lamp down again. Square across the shoulders, then again at mid back before throwing it aside to free himself up for another kick at Joseph's floppy-haired head. The fuck you here is silent unless you count all the sound his stomping deliberately around Sumter's midsection makes before he fumbles down after the dropped phone.

The lamp is still rolling around in dismay when he punches at the number pad, blanking blue-white light across the manic energy in his eyes. Breathe in, breathe out. Time to do a little browsing through Joseph's list of contacts.

A grunt sounds out as the lamp is brought down again, and again, and then silence as Joseph's head snaps to the side under the kick. No protest, no complaint, sinking into the deeper, dreamless black of unconsciousness, crumpled onto his side. At least, this way, he's breathing easier - whatever light is managing to hit his face now shows relative, if bruised peace, and Danko is left alone once more to scroll through an ever enlarging list of names and numbers in the cellphone.

Real names, too, if only the first kind - but ones that will ring familiar as ones bandied about the church and the worship hall, and some not so much. Phoebe. Abigail. Rebecca. Raquelle. Brian. He hasn't mastered the art of code, just yet, but at least no known murderer has made the list.

Boop. Boop. Boop. Boop. On down the list Danko goes, eventually reaching up to drag off his mask when the heat buildup starts to dazzle and spark at his focus. Certain names are familiar without needing to be checked against a list. Others he'll have to look into later.

He doesn't single out Abigail's until he's had a chance to scrawl the vast majority of them down on a piece of Joseph's own paper. It's folded up and tucked away same as the photographs, pen cast aside so that he can set about the process of reloading his dart gun one last time before he makes the phone call he came here to make. Son of a bitch has caused enough problems without running a risk of waking up and making a fuss in the middle of things.

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