Chasing Rainbows


grace_icon.gif kent_icon.gif

Scene Title Chasing Rainbows
Synopsis Sometimes it works out. Kent inquires as to the elusive Ferrymen.
Date November 22, 2008


The largest Gothic cathedral in the world, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine remains partially unfinished to this day, despite its construction having begun in 1892 - true to form for buildings of its type. Nonetheless, it is a grand and imposing sight; possessing the characteristic grand arches, pointed spires, and beautiful stained glass windows, including a large and striking Rose window. Where the walls aren't covered with old and meticulously preserved tapestries, they are often ornamented.

Guided tours are offered six days out of the week. Services are open to all. Since the bomb, the main nave is open at all but the latest hours, though the smaller subject-specific chapels close in the evening. The cathedral is also a site for major workshops, speakers, and musical events - most especially the free New Year's Eve concert, which has been held without fail each year since the bomb.

St. John's has long been a center for public outreach and civic service events, but since the bomb, those have become an even greater part of its daily affairs. Services include a men's shelter, a twice-weekly soup kitchen, walk-in counseling, and other programs besides. These are open to everyone - non-Evolved, unregistered Evolved, registered Evolved… the philosophy is that they're all children of God, and that's what matters.

Morning light should be striking jewel-bright bursts of color from the cathedral's rose window right about now, though Grace isn't in a position to see it. She spends very little time in the more glorious reaches of the cathedral, and more in the places that cater to the refugees. It's one such place she occupies now, one person among several in the hall that most commonly sees use as a cafeteria — but not today, it being Saturday. As a consequence, Grace and her companion are relatively out of place, two of only a handful of people in the entire room — and the only ones actually sitting down rather than passing through.

"What the hell did you do to your computer, Stephen?" the woman asks, that ruined voice rasping like sandpaper on concrete. She wears a red blouse and charcoal slacks better-suited to a professional venue than this, and the man seated beside her is dressed more casually. He also winces at her question, and eyeballs the laptop in question. "I didn't. My daughter did, and… I don't know."

There's another presence in the cathedral today, in addition to everyone else's. It won't be Kent's first visit and it probably won't be his last, especially as the months draw closer and closer towards the colder times of year. He can't anticipate he's going to have an awesome Christmas at this rate. But today, he's not sure if he's here for charity, or if he's here for some other reason. He certainly doesn't need anything right now— relatively speaking. But it wouldn't be his first baseless impulse of the last few months. Hell, it's why he's even in New York.

Also far from the prettier corners of the cathedral, Kent moves into the immediate space, as if exploring, and distinctly a little more lost looking than everyone else. Jeans, boots, and whatever is underneath and obscured by a zipped up sweater jacket certainly can't be warm enough against a chilly November morning, but it's warmer in here, at least. He lingers by the door, warming his hands together once inside, and casts a bespectacled glance around - observing people more than their activities.

Grace chuckles, if so inelegant a sound can be dignified with that term, and shakes her head. She picks the laptop up from the table and sits back in her chair, clearly settling in to address a difficult job. "Well, I'll see what I can do," the woman assures her companion, who looks distinctly relieved. "Hey, I didn't say I'd fix it!"

Movement in the doorway draws her attention, and Grace looks over at Kent. At first, it's a very cursory glance, acknowledgement of another person's presence. Something about him, however, seems to merit a closer look, a bit of interest. "Looks like you've got a stray, Stephen," she remarks to her companion, raven's voice quiet.

Attention drawn to the new arrival, Stephen nods to Kate. He's dressed casually, but rises from the table and approaches Kent with the confident air of experienced Cathedral staff. Or perhaps volunteer. In practice, there's relatively little difference. "Welcome to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine," Stephen greets. "May I help you something, sir?"

Spotted. There's a moment of paralysis, Kent fighting back a certain instinct, one he's developed ever since running away, stretched his muscles in terms of what he can do. The instinct to simply disappear. The setting, however, lends itself to being somewhat unthreatening, and so it doesn't take too much to keep his feet fixed in one spot, and he smiles with uncertainty, a hand coming up to adjust his glasses.

"Hi," Kent says, glancing over the man's shoulder towards the rough-voiced woman, then back to him. "Thank you. You do this a lot, I guess. With the polite— sorry. To answer your question: maybe." Nerves, somewhat characteristic of how he certainly used to be, start to show. "I guess I'm chasing rainbows. Rumours."

Stephen stops a short distance away, not crowding the stranger — not even offering a handshake, recognizing the signs of nerves. He echoes Kent's smile, a sort of compassionate warmth to the expression. "Yes," Stephen affirms. "I get to meet a great many people here." He gestures towards the table where Grace sits. "Would you like to sit with us? We can discuss your rumors?" Grace, meanwhile, occupies herself with the computer and pays half-attention to the nearby conversation.

Well. They're being nice. Stephen scores a few points because Kent relaxes minutely almost as quickly as he'd tensed. "Yeah, okay," he agrees, stuffing his hands into the pockets of his jacket and moving to follow Stephen towards the table, keeping his eyes now on the back of the man's head as they go, peripherally aware of Grace. "I'm Kent, by the way. I've come by the cathedral a couple of times when things got sort of— tight, but it's— not what I'm here for now. For charity, or anything." Not today, at least.

Stephen waves Kent into a chair on the side of the table opposite Grace, returning over to the seat he had previously occupied. He doesn't quite sit down in it, but gives the newcomer a curious look. "I'm Stephen, and this is Grace." Introduced, Grace lifts her gaze from the computer screen, giving Kent one of her subtle smiles. "You're welcome to what we have to offer all the same," Stephen continues. "Maybe something to drink?" The second order of business, after introductions, is fulfilling the obligations of a host.

"No that's fine, thanks," Kent readily dismisses, casting a glance around the space - specifically towards a window. You never do know when you have to see the outside. Hands back out of his pockets, he unzips his jacket a little, finally a little warmer, revealing a dark T-shirt that once had something written across it but has long since faded. Most of his clothing seems to have some age to it, second-hand things or just well worn. And with that refusal of a drink, and likely anything else, that really just leaves talking, and the bookish looking young man attempts to set aside his shyness to do so. "I guess I've heard a few things about what people come to this place for," Kent says, mostly towards Stephen - the man makes an effort to be friendly, whereas Grace doesn't so much as make him nervous as give him a reason not to feel so. "More than just a soup kitchen, you know?"

"If you're sure." Stephen takes a seat, glancing over at Grace — whose fingers continue to clatter on the laptop keyboard, the high-speed tapping interspersed with periods of silence. "Oh dear," the man says as Kent continues, and Grace looks over the top of the laptop screen at Kent, hints of a smile playing around the corners of her lips — mostly in those clear blue eyes. "Are these the 'den of evil pretending to be a House of God' rumors?" she asks, raven's voice managing not to be too angular and harsh. "Can't be clothes or counseling you're looking for; those hours are pretty widely posted."

A smirk tugs at the corner of Kent's mouth, pale eyebrows raise a little. "Not exactly a den of evil, no," he assures. "There's kind of enough of that going around that I wouldn't go looking in a church for it." A hand raises to idly scratch the back of his neck, just along his hair line, which really does need a cut soon, lock long enough to flop down onto his forehead, itch his ears, edge into his shirt collar. "No, I…" He sighs. "More like rumours that there's more help to be had than a hot meal and someone to listen. About people getting helped— set up, I guess, or hidden, even." Which is somewhat law-breaking, which might be why he's so guarded. "I talked to this girl once, I don't even remember her name, it was when I first got here, and what she said sort of matched up with what I started hearing. About something bigger than a quick-fix charity. Real help."

One dark brow arches as Kent elaborates on his rumors, and Grace sits back in her chair, hands momentarily idle. Stephen, without saying anything at all, somehow manages to insert himself into the backdrop of the conversation and leave the woman in the forefront. "Hmm. Those might even be worse rumors, the way public opinion goes these days. People get mobbed over less." She folds her hands on the front edge of the laptop, blue eyes intent on Kent. "Bit dangerous to the continued operation of a church. Or anything, really. What were you looking to get for bringing them to our attention?"

"I wanted to see if they were true," Kent says, the uncertainty obvious but otherwise calm. "I'm not public opinion, I guess, they don't seem like the worst rumours to me. Dangerous, though. It's why it's taken me a while, and probably why no one's talking about it. And either you think I'm completely nuts by now, or you're just— not talking about it. That's fine too. But, you know, if you read the papers about how many Evolved get beat down, and then you have these PARIAH people on the other side turning up the heat— middle ground doesn't so much seem a safe place to be as it does a— necessity." He seems to become aware of how he's rambling, and clears his throat, glancing down at his hands he's tensely clasped together in his lap. It's clear he has more to say, but he waits.

Grace listens politely as Kent speaks, rambling or no; there's just that little too much interest in her gaze. That in and of itself suggests the truth behind the rumors. And when he's finally come to a conclusion, if not quite yet the conclusion, she leans forward a bit. "So, then. If we were to speak hypothetically… what would you do if they were?"

Either this is a cage coming down or a window opening. Either would be better than a brick wall, frankly. And other such metaphors. "Hypothetically. I guess I'd probably ask for a little help," Kent says, with that same fixed half-smile. "I can't get a job, can't do much, and if I try, they'd probably make me Register, and I've got my reasons for not wanting that to happen." Either he feels confident he's in the presence of people he can trust - an unlikely state of mind - or he feels confident in vanishing without a trace of necessary - slightly more likely. "I just sort of want to think ahead further than what to do tomorrow. Maybe if I'm in that position… I could help others. Like me."

The laptop is closed, and passed back to Stephen. "I suggest you not let your girl play with it again until she's closer to five than two," the woman points out, ruined voice dust-dry but still carrying a tone of amusement. Grace returns her attention to Kent, and the amusement leeches from her expression, replaced by cautious consideration. Folding her hands on the table, she leans forward a bit more, the computer now out of the way. "All right, then. While we're filling out the hypothetical wish list, just what form do you want that help to take?" It seems to be the question in order.

It may well be, but Kent gives a somewhat dry-sounding chuckle, and lifts pale, long-fingered hands up in a gesture of uncertainty, glancing from Stephen to Grace. The light that does peter through into this section of the cathedral bounces off glasses, illuminating them for a moment. "That's a tricky one when I don't know what help there is available," he says. "If I say what I need and why I need it, that's giving up more information than I can afford to people I don't know. I'm not really in a position to be hypothetical."

Both dark brows rise, and Grace regards Kent for a long moment, expression inscrutable. Then she abruptly stands up, one foot of the chair squeaking briefly as it scrapes across the floor. "Well. Someone has to actually take the step and cross that line," she observes. Stepping around the end of the table, the woman extends a hand to Kent. "Grace Matheson. If you want to hitch a ride on the Ferry, Kent, I'm the next best thing to Charon here."

As Grace stands, so does Kent so that he wouldn't have to look up at the woman, and his mouth parts slightly at the reference she makes, recognition obvious. A surprise, but not unfamiliar - in fact, it rings a bell on a couple of different levels. A literary reference along with a memory half forgotten through a month and a half of time. He clasps her hand with his, more of a squeeze than a shake. "Here's to hoping I have a silver coin to spare for passage. Kent. Kent Wisdom." He withdraws his hand almost self-consciously, curling it against his chest for wont of a place to put it. "I guess the kind of help I'm looking for is the ability to live a— " Pause. "Well, some kind of life. I don't officially exist, exactly."

"Two coins, I think," Grace remarks with a small, crooked smile. "One for each eye." A pause. "But maybe I'm mixing up my mythologies. School really wasn't my thing." Hand relinquished, she lets it fall back to her side. "I imagine we can do something about that," she replies. "There's a couple of people who're good with computers. They can take care of the 'official' part." Grace looks sidelong at Kent. "That about what you had in mind?"

"Something like that," Kent says, a little bit of relief obvious on his expression, arms folding about him. "You can— really do that sort of thing? I mean I'd hoped, but…" Pause. "And I think it's either two coins on the eyes, or one in the mouth. Maybe all three. What's the price of 'passage' in this scenario?"

That subtle smile reappears, the quirk of just one corner of Grace's lips, tthe barest crinkle of skin at the edges of her eyes. "Not I," she corrects promptly. Knowing that isn't quite what he meant. "But yes." A shrug comes next, as Kent continues; dismissive, perhaps even just barely bordering on uncomfortable.

"We do these things because they're right." Grace brushes back a bit of hair that wasn't really out of place to begin with. "If you start to impose, that's one thing. But a helping hand, a leg up on making your own way— " That shrug again, and a hint more smile. "Pay it forward." There's a brief pause, an assessing glance. "If you want to help us? We can always use that. But only if you're willing to volunteer." Dust-dry words, those that follow. "It's not exactly a legal operation. And if matters go from bad to worse… it is a risk."

His hand rests against the back of the chair he'd stood up from, seeming restless - but mostly just anxious that he's gotten somewhere and isn't exactly sure as to what that where is. But better than his current circumstance. "One step at a time," Kent says with hesitation, but it's clear he's been listening, weighing what she says. "It's not like I got a lot to lose in helping out in return, or paying it forward. I won't impose, I…" He somewhat dry smile follows. "I'm reasonably good at getting out of the way."

Grace inclines her head. "Indeed," she agrees, seeming not to mind that Kent doesn't commit himself to the cause right this very minute. Really, that'd be too much to ask. His continuing words evoke another quiet, rasping chuckle from the woman. "Well, good. Means you're smart. We like smart people— " That subtle smile acquires a shadowed undercurrent. "— they're the ones that stay alive."

Blue eyes flick away, then, and after a moment Grace shakes her head, just slightly. She pulls a card out of her pocket and cadges a pen from Stephen, who's still at the table even though he's been silent this entire time. "You'll need to talk to the person who'll handle the records," the woman says, as she scribbles on the back of the card. A name. A number. It's held out to Kent. "It's not something they can do with secondhand information." The name, of course, is Hana.

Kent takes the card, looking down at the information written down, and nods once. He doesn't take a wallet from his jeans to slip the little cardboard rectangle into - indeed, one could deduce that he has nothing on him. No keys, no wallet, no phone, and so the card is pocketed instead. "I'll look her up," he says, glancing back at Stephen as if just recalling his presence, then back to Grace. A brighter, slightly more genuine smile alights his features, accompanied with a nervous chuckle. "Thank you. A lot. It's hard to know who to trust these days. I don't— have any contact details right now but there's an Internet cafe not so far from here." He rattles off the address with the halting way a tourist might, unfamiliar still with streets and locations. "If you put up something on the noticeboard, I can check in, get in touch."

Grace smiles, the expression almost a real, full one instead of the hints that usually shift the lines of her face, and she nods towards the pocket the card has disappeared into. "Ball's in your court, Kent. You want our help, you just ping that number. Or you can fade right back into the city, and we'll assume you changed your mind." And that's the way of it. No strings, no checkups, no nagging; just the distant kindness of strangers.

Good to know. Kent nods his understanding, taking a step back from her. "Then you'll hear from me," he confirms, not so much for her benefit - more his own. As he turns to leave, the card is extracted once more, turning it in his hands to observe the details both in print and penned down. worrying the edge of it with his thumb nail. A boarding pass, of kinds. Let's hope that winding up dead isn't compulsary on board this Ferry, the question of one or two silver coins aside.

November 22nd: The Beginning Of Something Troublesome

Previously in this storyline…

Next in this storyline…

November 22nd: Hold Your Liquor
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