Cat's Confession


cat_icon.gif joseph_icon.gif

Scene Title Cat's Confession
Synopsis It's all in the title.
Date September 5, 2009

Guiding Light Baptist Church

There is no mistaking this building as anything but a church, with its arching glass windows and concrete cross fixed to the edge of the pointed roof. Curving stone steps lead up from the pavement to a set of black double doors, often kept closed during the colder weather, but unlocked during the allocated hours written on a blue sign fix to the brick wall. In white, formal letting, it reads GUIDING LIGHT BAPTIST CHURCH and lists its hours of worship.

Through the doors, you first step into an open, nondescript foyer, with access to an unobtrusive staircase headed upwards, and a second hallway leading off somewhere less public also. Mainly, this room opens straight out to the much more spacious worship hall, with immovable rows and rows of pews. A small church, it only seats an absolute maximum of around one hundred and fifty people at a time. It has a high ceiling and is warmly lit, simple and reverent in design, colours light and earthy. The stage before the pews is wide open, with seats off to the side for other pastors and guest speakers, and there is a podium placed off center. On the other side, there is a small organ with music sheets kept nearby.

The clock is ticking towards 9 AM, and the doors of the Guiding Light are due to be opened. In fact, they already air, allowing the fresh fall air to shake loose the chilly dregs of evening from its tall ceiling'd space. Outside, it's a comfortable morning hour, with low sunlight, brisk, cool breezes that kick around dead leaves, and minimal foot traffic. Ascending the stone stairs, Joseph attempts to negotiate a steaming papercup full of piping hot tea, a newspaper, a brown leather briefcase, and his set of keys while opening the door, and is having little success.

Eventually, the briefcase is set down to lean against his shin, the folded newspaper is gripped between his teeth, the tea carefully held in his left hand while his right one fingers through the keys and sets about scraping open the lock. More disorganised than harassed, as if this is the way he usually goes about things, Joseph doesn't at first notice anyone's approach. It's also Saturday, which means all true, official pastor duties are nearly voluntary. Which means, further more, he can wear jeans, even if they are accompanied with sensible, brown leather shoes and a button down shirt he's managed to tuck in at the waist.

As he works to open the front door, someone else is casing the place in search of another entrance. She comes clad for summer, not seeming troubled by cooler air. The bill of a Yankees cap is pulled low to obscure her face, mirrored shades cover the eyes, but she's left the guitar case elsewhere today.

This separate entrance is sought, Cat taking care against being spotted coming here. Caution exists because Peter didn't lie. They both spotted observers scoping her building.

Success sees Joseph breezing on inside, though he doesn't head for his office first. A glance is given pulpit-wards, and no one is around to see and give cynical snorts when Joseph addresses the church at large, "Good mornin'." You never do know who's listening, and as far as he's aware, Humanis First certainly isn't.

Keys, newspaper, briefcase; these things are set down on the kitchen table once he's in there, tea quickly sipped from to get the taste of paper and ink from his mouth.

It's here that a hazy set of glass windows peer into the hardly used little courtyard around the back of the church. Cat finds herself on slabs of concrete making a haphazard path for a plain wooden door, weeds growing in, and a wooden fence blocking off from an alleyway on the other side. It, too, is locked.

What comes next is the telltale sound of knuckles being applied to that door's wood, designed to alert anyone inside of an arrival there, and a seeking of entry. Having done so, with not enough force to injure her hand or sound like pounding, but hopefully not so quiet as to go unheard, Cat waits.

It won't be the first time it's happened. Once, a woman and her son had waited out there for some twenty minutes, knocking intermittently, just thanks to the discomfort of trekking through the reverent foyer when all they wanted to do was talk to a Ferry operative. But it's rare enough that Joseph pauses, at first, and tilts a little to see out the window. When the woman outside does not come into view, he sets down his tea, and moves for the door.

Click. Squeeeeak. It opens a fraction, then swings open the rest of the way, Joseph's eyebrows raising when he recognises the woman beneath her cap and her glasses. "Joan," he states, in surprise, and then maybe the planets align, or perhaps on an instinctive level he knows thanks to names being tossed around the former night and 'Joan' not being one of them, but either way, he gives her a crooked smile and says, jokingly, "If that is your real name."

"Morning, Pastor," she greets with a chuckle. "Do you want to know my real name?" Maybe he does, maybe he doesn't, given their clandestine pursuits. Cat remains where she stood to knock, awaiting an invitation to enter. "I wasn't certain you'd be in today, but felt the odds in my favor."

He nudges the door all the more open, moving to hook it into place to allow the staler nighttime air within the kitchen ease on out. There's the scent of coffee grinds and cleaning agents, the linoleum clean underfoot, and all the dishes stacked away already. "I do like 'Joan'," Joseph says, with a twitch of a smile, stepping back and giving her a gesture so as to permit her entry. "So that's up to you, isn't it?"

He moves back to pick up his tea, and stack his newspaper on briefcase to free up some table room. "Take a seat. I can make some coffee, if you like." The coffeemaker looks about as outdated, if functional, as the rest of the decor, and twin religious portraits are hooked up on one of the walls.

She isn't Catholic, let alone religious much; nor is this a Catholic institution, but it does seem to be confession time of a sort. Stepping in, she informs him simply "I'm Cat." The door is left open, she believing he perhaps wants it so, and the table is approached. "I'd thought you might have connections of this nature when Colette mentioned your name to someone she spoke with, but hadn't been certain. Seeing you at Beach Street and at the recent meeting do rather confirm things."

"Cat. It's nice to meet you, Cat." There's some recognition for the name. It had been bandied around a little since the meeting - Maxwell, for one, amongst others, fragments of memory even more scattered than the average human, let alone Cat and her personal filing system for such details.

The metal of a chair's legs makes a soft scrape against the lino as Joseph goes to sit himself down, wrapping his fingers around his paper cup, steam still wisping out from its rim. A little warning is printed on the side; cautioning the heat of the liquid. "Colette did that, huh? If it helps any, I wasn't a part've the Ferry when you first came around here, and this place has seen some trouble anyway. You were smart to— do that, probably. And I see so many people I didn't suspect a thing."

The crooked smile remains a little, slightly awkward as to this confession as he instinctively attempts to dismiss it as no worries at all when he is, in fact, grateful for it. "I don't remember much of who was at Beach Street, to be honest. But I think I do now. You kept your face hidden."

"I did," Cat confirms. "Standard practice for such encounters, although being woman-shaped and 1.73 meters makes me a bit more recognizable than most," she speculates before her eyes close briefly. Her expression changes to one of distaste which stems from thinking of it, a contrast to the calm displayed at the time of their last encounter.

"Thank you for the support at that gathering," she offers, "it's distressing it even took place, and such things needed to actually be discussed."

Joseph's awkward smile becomes a little easier. Rueful, too, looking down into the creamy brown of his beverage before taking a sip, shrugging his shoulders. "I think Teo was right, at the end. The Ferrymen isn't much of a democracy, so— it probably was never a question about will we, won't we. More of a forum for discussion. I hope— that whoever had things to say got to say 'em, I guess." There's a bite of cynicism in his tone, but as with most things about him, it's mild. "Anyway— you don't have to thank me, I was happy to. Thanks for listening— I haven't exactly been doin' this long."

"It's a grave thing," Cat remarks somberly, "but Humanis First will kill people no matter what we do or say, because they hate. If they had government authority, which isn't impossible for the future, they'd erect processing plants and turn us to smoke. To not act because it might draw their attention, provoke a reprisal, is to surrender to letting them exterminate us. That anyone who chose to stand with the Ferry doesn't understand this is beyond belief." For Cat, it's such a simple and obvious thing. "Even more incredible is hearing the lack of this understanding from a self-confessed former member of such an enterprise."

"The one who called the meeting," Joseph says, with a nod, his smile dimmed to nothing and a line forming between his brows. "I think… well. You heard me, that night. I'm not gonna try to measure the worth of a person. It's not how I run this church and it won't be how I conduct my business with the Ferry and those that need it. But with the way it is— we'll get folks who help us for different reasons. Flint would sooner help those with no other option than those better off than he is."

Joseph winces at himself for that comment, but doesn't try to amend, only shrugs. His perception of true. "Maybe thanks to resources, maybe due to pride, I don't know. But as long as someone's willing to help— like Teo and I, this round— then the Ferry won't fail. The thing that got me most is the suggestion that we shoulda let Quinn sink because Humanis had their eyes on him. That— I wouldn't know where to begin, arguin' that. Talk to me about practicalities, not someone being in too much trouble."

He pauses, and asks, "Not to pry— it ain't my business, but," but, everyone has vices and this could count as gossip, or just honest and concerned curiousity, "what enterprise was that? The lady who called the meeting, what did she used to be a part of?"

"I'll tell you the story, Pastor," Cat begins, "but you may not believe the scope of it. I have no proof to offer. The organization was called the Vanguard, and had… has members all around the world. Various governments are engaged in rounding them up. Their original purpose was to eliminate people with extrahuman abilities, even though some members had them. Including the leader. He's the person who committed what the press called mummification murders. People turned to dust."

"Here in New York, last year, their leader attempted to release a dangerous virus. He was stopped, the bio agent destroyed at several locations by thermite grenades. It's how Helena Dean wound up in Moab."

"She mentioned Moab— Helena did, she came to see me last night. I didn't ask, but I dunno what that is. There's— a lot to catch up on, probably." Easier to mention that than to touch on the story being told, Joseph studying Cat across the table. Disturbed. And yes, doubtful, but without reason and slowly ebbing away from the way his jaw sets stubbornly. "Then I guess she'd be the one to ask," he eventually says, gravely. "That she'd be the one to understand. I sure as heck don't."

"I wouldn't want to blow your mind with all of that and other stories all at one shot, Pastor," Cat replies in complete seriousness. "If we had proof, it'd have been shared as a demonstration of what groups which want to wipe us out are capable of, and that Vanguard's leader had decided to purge away most of the people instead of just us. Eileen, among some others, saw the error of their ways and helped defeat him."

"But we've reached a point of openness; I've no need or wish to keep such details from you if you want to hear them."

The lines at his eyes deepen in more of a subtle, genuine smile than what usually comes natural to him. At his mouth, it's only a subtle curve. "Appreciated. There's a lot of unbelievable things that go on— " Joseph taps a finger against the newspaper beside him. "And these sure do get more interesting as the months go by. Probably best to leave it at global terrorist organisations with deadly viruses for this morning, though. Easier to focus on just— gettin' people to where they need to be."

"Indeed," she replies in agreement. The newspaper is glanced at, Cat lets out a quiet chuckle. "You'll find what's on page B16 in that perfectly believable and interesting," she comments. Moments later she begins to read the entire piece for him from memory.

His hand goes to hover over the paper, and turn it to see what is believable and interesting, but pauses when she starts to read— without reading. Joseph narrows his eyes at her, then sets aside his tea to properly twitch through the pages and reads along with her voice. He allows the thin pages to whisper shut before she's done, and with arguably uncharacteristic rudeness cuts her off with, "My kingdom for that ability. It would do wonders for me every Sunday, let me tell you."

"It's a blessing and a curse, like so many things," Cat allows in quiet tones, "like so many other things. Being able to forget things I've experienced, to have them fade and ease over time, that's not something I've known often over the past seven years. But its advantages outweigh the drawbacks."

But she switches topics. "Joan wasn't a play on the French matron saint, of course. It was more about Joan Jett."

That gets a richer chuckle, hands going back around his tea as Joseph nods once. "Uh huh. Well, I'm glad to know you as Cat, anyway." He hesitates, but only minorly, shrugging a shoulder as he says, "Thanks. For comin' by and— reintroducing yourself, I guess. It's been enlightening, to say the least - I had a feelin' there was more to you than what you were lettin' on."

"You're welcome," Cat offers in rising. "I'm a lot of things. Rocker chick, political scientist, bachelor of music, juris doctor. And then some." A few steps are taken toward that still open back door, she pauses before stepping through to remark over her shoulder. "I've not forgotten about teaching myself to play organ. As if I were capable of such a thing. Good day, Pastor."

"Sounds busy." Joseph doesn't get to his feet, not even to shut the door after her. There's a nice autumn breeze coming on through, mild enough not to rustle his newspaper, but present enough to feel. "You too," he says, simply, and with a last smile her way, before returning to his paper, one article mostly complete, and allows a morning of not quite unusual circumstance, but odd enough, to tick on by.

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