deckard_icon.gif joseph_icon.gif

Scene Title Contradictory
Synopsis …is Deckard's opinion, anyway. It's kind of like a late night, impromptu, vaguely illegal book club.
Date March 31st, 2009

Guiding Light Baptist Church

It's dark out. Dark enough that the more nocturnal portions of New York City's population are beginning to move out of their respective burrows and crevaces. Flint Deckard is among them. Having transversed from Staten to Manhattan without more than a couple of double takes along the way, his passage into Guiding Light Baptist Church was similarly, uncharacteristically without hardship. Maybe it's a sign.

Maybe life really does get easier if you just go out and kill everyone inclined to make it complicated.

Seated now in a pew near the back of the church as he has been for several minutes, Deckard is doing nothing in particular. A squat, cheaply-bound Bible suffers the brush of one of his thumbs through gold-featherd pages every once and a while, but that's about it. Then again, the fact that his scruffy self is there at all, unshaven, leather-jacketed and blue-jeaned without invitation or knocking is kind of unfortunate in itself.

Over the past several days, this wouldn't be an unfamiliar scene. Individuals come to pray, to read, sometimes just to be. Joseph often leaves them alone, sometimes strikes up conversation, for better or for worse. Here, however, he has very little choice in the matter. It's past the hour that the doors have long since been very much locked, and Joseph should know - he locked them.

This, of course, wouldn't be the first time. First comes footsteps, descending down a stairwell away from the main hall where Deckard is seated, into the little area in front of the currently merely closed front doors. A shaft of light, a mix of artificial ambience and whatever the moon is willing to afford, is shining through the circular window just above it, enough to lend light and visibility, as much as Joseph needs anyway.

He clears his throat. It seems like the polite way of announcing his presence to his intruder, hands coming to rest on his waist as he moves at a meander towards the indefinite doorway of the main hall and the quasi-foyer. His tie and jacket have been abandoned somewhere up in his office, and he's wearing glasses. Slightly rumpled, as if perhaps he'd dozed off at his desk. "Uh." Strike the perhaps.

The turn of Deckard's head on its wiry axis is eerily smooth after the sound of Joseph's polite throat clearing. The spectral light that marks the animal intensity of his glare is approximately as or several times more eery, with there being some potential for variance based upon the precedence of the pastor's personal phobias and fears. At the very least, this particular pastor has the benefit of prior experience and knows better than to assume that the pair of eyes peering at him belongs to anything more violently unholy than an unhappy guy with a gun.

The same eyes lift to the ceiling, seeking confirmation of what he already knows: nobody else is here. And if the absence of a coat in this instance is any indication, Joseph didn't learn his lesson well enough the first time around to start packing some heat of his own. "Hi there."

It still nestles a little pit of anxiety somewhere in Joseph's chest. There is nothing not scary about a pair of small glowing blue eyes shining so bright across the dark church, but familiarity helps. Uncertainty doesn't. He's not sure why the man's eyes glow as they do. He doesn't really want to ask in case finding out isn't something he wishes to experience. Of course, the presence of the man himself, glowing eyes or not, is in itself off putting. He'd locked the door. He didn't even hear it open this time.

Despite being unarmed and the second time without a phone in his hand, Joseph negotiates his courage just enough to step into the hall of worship, mouth set in a thin line and offering no greeting in return, trying to see through the significant shadows. "Evening," he finally says, word coming out somewhat clipped, and his gaze goes down, away from the glowing blue eyes, towards the blocky shape of the book in "Mike's" hands. His own hand goes out in a fleeting gesture. "You should consider coming by durin' hours. Daylight makes for— easier reading." Dry swallow. "Better for the eyes."

"Kind of you to be so concerned. Unfortunately I operate under a very special set of circumstances wherein…my vision seems to get better any time something terrible happens to me. So." Deckard's hands open up around the good book in a mock shrug. 20/20 vision despite many a lightless evening on the prowl. What can you do when you spend a lot of time around an overachieving healer?

"I already did all of my homework, anyway. Luke, I think you said it was." Just in case he didn't get a good enough look at his sad little bible initially, Deckard lifts it up into clear view, paired fingers and thumb pinched disrespectfully at one corner before the butt of it falls more comfortably into his palm.

There's a moment of incomprehension on Joseph's face - not because he's forgotten what he had said to the other man. No, he remembers. He's just also remembering all the stuff that was said back to him. There's a fleeting glance back towards where he'd come from, before he's— walking in even further, amongst the pews and the sequential, generous beams of city light angling through higher windows. Not too close, though, just enough to maybe communicate how not afraid he is, a hand coming to rest on the pack of one row of seating, studying through his reading glasses the book Deckard is holding up for his approval.

Managing not to wince at the Bible's treatment, just a slight pull at his mouth. "Uh huh." His hand comes up to scratch the back of his neck in a sort of squirrelly, fidgety gesture, and then— there we go— an uncertain smile. Shaking off the last remaining traces of sleep to remember enough to do that. "How're you findin' it?" he asks, with a careful kind of optimism in his voice.

"Contradictory." Not the worst answer possible, but probably close. Close enough that Deckard narrows his eyes just a twitch in search of the finer points of Joseph's reaction, the subtle shift in expression made easier to read by an ironic betrayal of his lambent glare. Good for intimidation. Less effective for keeping things close to your chest in the absence of sunglasses.

"I do like the part where Jesus says you can get whatever you want if you bother people enough that they cave to your whims. And…" his eyes sketch briefly up again, thinking while his knees brace themselves a little further apart ahead of smooth-polished pew wood, "the part where you can try to protect your belongings all you want, but someone else more awesome than you is eventually going to kick your ass and take it all anyway. He's kind of a douchenozzle, actually. Jesus." Just in case that wasn't abundantly clear enough already.

At least Deckard has shadows to rely on. Bleary eyes are finding it hard to completely take in all the subtle nuances of the other man's expression, whereas Joseph gets to be an open book. Relatively, anyway, not quite as laid bare to Deckard's critical comb through as the Bible in his hands. Joseph's chin lifts a little as the analysis is delivered to him, smile not so much fading as much as tightening. Buckling down the hatches in the face of cynicism.

The direct insult to Joseph's personal saviour does get a slightly more satisfactory reaction, eyes narrowing a little and throat cleared again, less deliberately than before, hands finding their ways back to his waist. "I was kinda hopin' you'd find your way to Christ's words about receivin' what you ask for, doors openin' when knocked upon."

"I did. And he does say that." The agreement is too easy, Deckard's eyes are too bright. He thinks he's found a way to pee on Joseph's pristine igloo. Further needling, weedling, prying is inevitable once he's finished drawing in his next breath. "Except what he says just before that is that people probably won't answer when you knock. Especially if they're busy or asleep. So you have to nag them. Wear them down until they're willing to give you however much of whatever you want just to make you go away."

One of Deckard's bony knees bounces over the restless tap of his heel. His thumb passes once more across weathered pages, and abruptly, he pushes up onto his feet, leather and denim rustling in uneasy tandem.

"Well that— " And Deckard is moving, and Joseph's cool, calm, collected exterior is momentarily shattered when he just as abruptly reacts by stepping back, enough so that his hip collides with the edge of a pew, enough to make wood creak and a flicker of pain cross his features. No swearing, though. Not even a sound, heart pounding at an irrational corkscrew feeling of anxiety, before he's steadying himself, hand placing itself on the back of the pew.

And continues, starting again. "You gotta be familiar with the idea that God helps those who help themselves." His head tips forward, looking at Deckard over his glasses. "Is askin' so hard for you to do, Mike?"

"My name is Flint." Idiot is the unspoken, snarled addition there, like Joseph should just know these things on account of having God's ear. Speaking of douchenozzles. Frustration has hardened its way into Deckard's face with a quickness, all angry slashes of shadow in what might otherwise be a vast improvement upon the visage that stared the pastor down during their last discussion. He's healthier. Better fed, cleaner cut. Less soggy. Unfortunately his temper doesn't seem to have improved much. Especially concerning the subject matter at hand.

"Asking isn't helping yourself. It's begging other people to help you. You can't make that the same thing."

At the harsh correction, Joseph's hand goes up, goes down in a sort of defeated shrugging gesture, brows knitting together. There is something about the other man that's more together than the last time Joseph saw him. External things, maybe - there's no rain water running down sodden clothes, there's no gun leveled at the pastor's head. And less qualities that had made Joseph feel pity for him. The anger, though. Good to see that's still there.

Because Joseph exists, maybe. That's about as far as he gets when he tries to rationalise it. Arguing doesn't seem to be a smart idea - telling Flint he's right, would he please leave, or maybe something more placating, would be in order. But Joseph hasn't had the tenaciousness beaten out of him via New York just yet.

"Yeah I can," he argues, simply. "Nothin' wrong in reachin' out to others, or to God. If they're charitable, if you deserve it, that's what matters in the end. Jesus Christ preached charity for a reason." As if remembering them, Joseph takes his glasses off from his face, folding them up in a fidgety movement without letting his gaze shift from Flint save for one uncertain glance towards the floor, back up again.

Joseph is an easy target in a lot of ways. No weapons. Man of God. Kind of naturally…soft-looking. Like a special order organic teddy bear made especially for new age hippy babies named Apple or Watermelon Sunshine. No artificial additives. Something. No readily apparent threat of bullets or beatings if he gets in too deep or pushes too far, kind of unlike most everyone else Deckard is typically inclined to get angry at.

Also the guy recoils when he moves quickly, which is a novelty for similarly totem-pole related reasons.

Still standing in the space between pews, Bible in hand, the longer Deckard goes without blinking, the more inevitably inhuman he seems. He's watching closely, as ever, x-ray vision tuned to the rapid beat of Joseph's heart within the swell and fold of his lungs behind speech that is probably meant to be reassuring. There's more than just the gauntness in his face to link him back to his prior visit. A certain jerky, suspect unease to the way he moves, like he's not 100% sure he won't be struck down from on high if he touches the wrong thing or thinks the wrong thought. He doesn't fit here. Shouldn't be here. Shouldn't be talking to Joseph. Shouldn't even be in Manhattan. Shouldn't care.

It's all enough to keep him quiet, but not for the eternity he might prefer. Eventually he lifts a brow. There's even an upturn at the corner of his mouth. Hesitant. Embarrassed. Exasperated. Like it's not sure how it got there. "What if you don't deserve it?"

There's a fluttery kind of chuckle that is about as humoured as Deckard's not-smile. It's hard to feel too much pity for someone you also have fear for, and so for a moment, Deckard's words kind of fall heavy between them, discarded by one man and untouched by the other. The silence draws out like a pulled thread, before reluctantly, Joseph remembers why he, unlike Flint, fits in with this place. And why he wants to brush Deckard's words aside.

"Everyone deserves it," Joseph says, in a sort of resigned tone of voice, lazy in a way his heart rate still isn't. Resigned as if unsure if Deckard will hear it. His arms come to fold across his chest, less about posture, more huddled. It's not really warm in here. "If they're willing to accept it. Salvation, that is. Charity too. Help. You think you're so special? Compared to me, or anyone else? We've all sinned, Flint."

Deckard stiffens against the chuckle, humorless or not, ringed blue rife with suspicion for the sound and the source's intentions one way or the other. The ensuing silence fairs no better in escaping his bare, clinical scrutiny. Quiet is turned over like any piece of scrap he might drag out of Midtown to be sold or modified or discarded as befits it, with the increasing tension here coinciding with a slight baring of his teeth in what is most definitely not a smile under even the most liberal of dictionary definitions.

Then Joseph speaks. Everyone deserves it. Like hell. Skepticism loses some of its edge in the benign knit of his brow and the downtilted angle of his long face, tension's build temporarily delayed. It's sent back to knot and hunch in the brace of his shoulders and spine, visibly so at the word salvation, which even makes his nose rankle with acidic, unconscious dislike while he glances over the floor at Joseph's feet.

"Maybe so, but I'm batting nine for ten on breaking commandments, and with the way things are going lately, it's only a matter of time before I wind up on the stoop of the guy with the golden calf."

Joseph's hand finds its way to the back of his own neck, now, a moment of gripping, digging fingers in as if to push away his own tension, and then Deckard's words get a flicker of a smile. It's amusing, despite the fact Flint is suggesting he's committed as many sins as he has. That hand at his neck goes up in a gesture.

"Well you made it here instead," Joseph points out, indicating the after hours setting of the mostly empty, mostly dark church with a tilt of his head. His eyes have adjusted since to see beyond darkness and the ambient light bouncing off the polished pews, and manage to rest on even Deckard's blazing bright demon gaze as if it were normal.

"Twice. So you can't be too far gone now can you." A raise of an eyebrow, as if to ask, why is he here. It's not really put to words, not wanting to do anything more to make this place seem unfriendly, although he could probably stand to, all things considered. "No one is. 'The kingdom of God is near you'. 's from Luke too."

It's the magnitude of a select few rather than the sum total that has Deckard looking oddly at Joseph for the absence of a freakout. Or even another spike in heart rate. The hollows of his eyes steeped in shadow that only works to force the headache-inducing contrast of backlit blue to black, he's quiet in turn. And yes, suspicious. Because who wouldn't be?

The flat line of his mouth works as if it's going to say something only to go all the more flat in time, with that level gradually transitioning into a frown that the dark isn't oppressive enough to hide in its frame of grizzled stubble. His eyes leave Joseph — back to the floor again, and the doors after that. "The first time," he begins finally, lacking the sort of forced assurance he had hardly five minutes ago, "I didn't know you were here. This time I'm just…" He's just an ellipses, apparently. The trail off leads to nothing more substantial, past maybe a slight, distracted shake of his scruffy head.

Could be the hour. Could be the inkling - as inaccurate as it would be - that Flint is exaggerating. Could be that someone confessed to murder not so long ago and saying that she could be saved had come almost too easy but then again, that had been somewhat conditional. Wrong, in selfish respects. Either way, no freakout pending, no rushing to the police. Joseph even takes a step forward, as if to make up for his earlier jumping out of his skin at the threat of possible attack.

Could be that he just wants to be right, too. Speaking of which— "Tryna prove me wrong?" Joseph offers, along with a shrug. "Frighten somethin' outta me? I don't know either. What I'd like to think, you'd sneer at." Destiny. Unconscious want to be saved. Better he leaves all that to suggestion. "Either way, you've come to the right place if you ever— want to talk about what you think you've done so wrong. Properly, that is." Like with an appointment and during daylight and everything.

"I'm running out of reasons to care." Honesty is delivered in as bland a package as ever, its absent announcement in the dark of some random southern baptist church indicative in itself of a certain lack of interest in the way things end. "Driving off reasons to care. Would be more accurate. S…hm. Whatever." Dismissive of his own correction, Deckard drops the Bible down onto the pew behind him, freeing both hands to scrub over each other in the increasingly cold air now that the heat's been off for a while. They soon seek refuge in the pockets of his jacket, and he takes a step back, then another. Too delayed to be in response to the one Joseph took forward.

He's just…you know. Leaving.

"I'm not very good at confessions."

He could say something about how this isn't, at least, Catholicism, but Joseph finds himself holding his tongue for the moment, glancing towards where the Bible disappeared to where Deckard tossed it back onto the pew. He gets what he means, anyway, even if all those natural instincts in Joseph are screaming at him to correct, to clarify, to help


That had to be hard to do. Offer for counseling and salvation retracted, if not forever denied. A slight smile, as if maybe Deckard did win, after all, whatever game this was meant to be, Joseph shifting his weight from one foot to the next and making a half turn in indication that he'll scurry back up to his slightly warmer office and continue writing his sermon for the next day instead of going home and getting sleep like he should. It occurs to him, if it wasn't for the things he wants so desperately to offer, which have the same results as offering a sermon to a brick wall, if Joseph was wrong, then what

"Where're you headed now?" Body twists back that half turn to face the retreating man, expression curious.

"To get drunk." How uninspired. Both as an answer, and as the thing he's really going to go do with the rest of his night. What happens before that depends on whether or not he finds someone to rob on the way. What happens after depends upon how much money he has left over. …And whether or not he can find someone else to rob before he passes out. And stuff. Paused at the threshold of the pew's opposite end, rather as if pondering if these are relevant details, Deckard eventually seems to decide that they are not.

If he's won something, he doesn't seem to register as much in posture or expression. He just glances over the room in its entirety, twin sparks of blue lancing from podium to ceiling to pew with equal disregard for each. Joseph gets a look that may or may not be marginally more substantial, and off he goes at a more deliberate clip. For the door. And freedom. And booze.

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