Danger Orange


colette_icon.gif joseph_icon.gif

Scene Title Danger Orange
Synopsis …tastes somewhat like peppermint, oddly enough.
Date December 8, 2009

Grand Central Terminal

There isn't a lot of solitary work to be done down here. Clearing a tunnel takes pretty much every hand available, Evolved superpowers be damned. New generators being replaced and installed takes some amount of team work, and the supplies are so much in bulk that it's rare it doesn't take a few backs to bend for it. Sometimes, it seems like this place takes as much time to maintain as it does to function, but that's the case for most larger operations.

Joseph, today, is attending something minor, and indeed solitary. He's walking his dog.

It's not exactly Central Park, but even underground, he can hear the echoing of rain coming down on the streets above his head, rattling sickly through pipes buried closer. While the underground of the Grand Central Terminal is not naturally warmer, a chill hanging in the air icy enough to turn breath to steam, it certainly is dryer, and he imagines Alicia appreciates this too. She doesn't seem unhappy, either, marching ahead of him as they head back towards the subways, this particular tunnel lined with orange lighting, perpetually nighttime.

His boots step methodically through debris, over the worn train tracks, arms folded around himself to bundle his black winter coat tighter to his person. A dog leash hangs from one hand, swinging along with his meandering movements, and every now and then, he whistles sharp enough to echo down the tunnel, audible from the subway they approach. "'licia," is a warning to the dog, when she starts to move purposely likely towards the scent of rat she's caught in the stagnant air. Lacking the desire to get back on the leash, as she well knows will happen if she doesn't obey, the Newfoundland pauses long enough for her owner to catch up.

Some of the rats down here sound bigger than others, though, and it may not have even been one that Alicia caught the scent of. The sound of claws on concrete comes faster now, less sounding like another layer of the pattering rain on pipes and more like what it is, another animal far larger than just a rat. The clattering of nails draws closer from one of the adjacent subway tunnels, soon a long shadow cast by one of the lights coming into view, a preposterously large hound of Baskerville shadow projected on the wall frm its passing, only to shrink back down once the angle of approach changes, revealing a muddy brown colored dog with a black snout peppered with gray.

At first the concern of it being one of Manhattan's many feral dogs seems warranted, until the taut strap of a magenta colored leash extending out from behind it comes into view. The large dog comes to a halt, one dark ear raised and the other flopped lazily to the side, big brown eyes peering towards Alicia the way a leering teenager might eyeball a pretty young girl.

"Jupiter." Comes the samely-toned instruction in a far more femenine voice, a familiar one, if not one Joseph hasn't heard for a while. "Please don't drag me down the — " Colette's voice cuts off the moment she comes into view from the tunnel, skidding to a stop on a wet portion of concrete, black and white converse sneakers giving her little traction. Green eyes stare wide at the pastor before her, dark denim clothing and a heavy sweater still damp from being in the rain topside.

"Alicia," is a well enunciated warning, but there's really no amount of command Joseph has in his voice to stop the dog from greeting others of her kind. He moves quickly, gripping onto her collar before she can go bounding with large, clumsy paws and snapping the leash into place, and only then is he looking up with some amount of caution before the young woman's voice rings off the wet cement of the tunnels.

There's a moment of shock allowed to pass, before Alicia's urgent tugging at the royal blue leash in his hands has him waking up. "Colette? What are you doin' down here?" is complete concern, likely misplaced and a little hypocritical, moving swiftly on over with a rustle of wool and denim, boots crunching gravel and dust underfoot as he goes. "You— "

The former pastor slows, stops, unconscious to Alicia's straining towards the other giant dog on the end of the magenta leash. "Your eyes."

Joseph is afforded a long stare from them, greener than he'd imagined they might be, clearer too. Colette's unblinking in those first few moments, awkward and tense in a way Joseph's not quite seen from her before. It seems to be quite a few firsts in this reunion. Finally, slowly a smile manages to creep up on the teenager's lips, even if it is a bittersweet one. Crouching down at her dog's side, she runs her fingers thorugh Jupiter's dark fur as he nuzzles and sniffs around at Alicia, the pair seeming intent on inspecting one another intently, as if they'd never met another dog before. "Think he likes her…" She finally says, offering a more honest smile up to Josephand a wrinkle of her nose.

"It— " Emotion causes her voice to hitch in the back of her throat. "It's been a while… I ah— I heard you were down here, so… so I just thought…" She's dancing around the topic, not really owning up to the reason she came down here at all. In the back of her mind, she can hear a certain Briton's reproachful words if she ever returned without having said her peace. The thought causes Colette's shoulders to slouch into a shrug, eyes averting from Joseph as her fingers wind into Jupiter's collar.

"I… I'm sorry." That's not exactly the best way to start a conversation.

To describe physical changes would be pointless, as Colette's first visual impression is of a man a little pale from a lack of sunlight, even by winter's standards, and dressed in practicalities rather than the pristine suits he'd donned so habitually during his time as a church leader. Colette's hitching words finally break Joseph's own staring, watching the dogs coil among each other with a quirk of a smile, focusing on keeping his leash untangled as he listens almost shyly.

"What?" That's a sharper diversion than he intended, attention switching from dogs to girl. "You don't gotta be sorry for comin' down here, I was just worried that…" And instinct and social cues pick up again that maybe— just maybe!— that isn't what the teenager is apologising for. So Joseph shuts his mouth and regards her, concern etched in the lines of his expression.

A year ago Colette shied away from the simplest of human contact, a touch of her hand by Detective Damaris in a diner caused the teen to withdraw her hand violently. A year ago, she would never have thrown herself at someone and embraced them in a hug. That is exactly what Joseph finds himself on the receiving end of, thina rms wrapped around his waist and a face buried in his chest. Colette practically sprints into that embrace, enough that their collision elicits a little bit of a shift in Joseph's stance a step backwards or so. Her fingers wind into the fabric at his back, arms squeeze as tightly as her meager strength can, and her nose brushes against his shirt one side and then another.

For the barest of moments, it almost seems like she's started to cry, the way small shoulders tremble and breathing becomes erratic, but she's strong enough to keep that in, to not break down when she should be explaining herself. It does, however, take her a moment to do anything other than hide her face against the pastor. No, it seems, she isn't apologizing for coming down here.

Oof. There isn't a lot of concern for when dog leash is dropped in favour of catching Colette, even when she manages to rock him back a step. She gets a second to settle before Joseph brings his own arms around in a firm embrace, letting go of a sigh and resting his chin against the top of her head. He can feel the beginnings of pent up tremors in her shoulders, evoking a reassuring, "Hey…" from the pastor.

Which belies, somewhat, the fact she can likely hear his own heart rate pick up, spme twist of anxiety knotting all the tighter. He's good at making his voice sound the way he wants it to, so, it's warm and calm when he adds, "I've missed you, y'know."

There's something of a ragged breath that Colette manages to huff out in response, half-way between a laugh and a sob,. She leans her head back, looking up at Joseph with watery eyes reddened on the edges, not quite crying but oing her damnedest to try and keep those floodgates from opening. Her smile is a painful one, the kind that breaks hearts to see, but tempered by something more earnest and less pitiful than it begins as. "I— missed you too…" Her nose wrinkles as she sniffles, one arm sliding from around Joseph to bring a hand up to her eyes, grubby palms wiping tears away from her cheeks, an awkward and tense laugh not complimenting the motion well.

Colette is simply quiet for a good long while, staring down at her feet while Alicia and Jupiter snuffle around one another intently. When she does speak up, it's not very loudly. "I'm sorry… for hiding from you." Is that what she was doing? The gloom on her face says she at least believes that much. "I— I missed you too."

"You, hiding?" is compulsively spoken, equal parts amused and surprised, and Joseph allows for some space between them, stepping back. His arms hug back around his torso, hands gripping elbows. "I'm not exactly makin' myself easy to run into." If not complicated to find, so he doesn't press on the notion further, that she wasn't avoiding him after all. Understanding sinks in, some missing puzzle piece he didn't realise was gone clicking into place as he smiles at her beneath the yellow electric lights above them.

For a moment, there's only the sound of paws scuffing around, laboured breathing from the beasts trailing leashes. Then, he speaks up again, awkwardly. "I kind of figured maybe— with the church gone— it's not unusual to lose contact with folks."

Squeezing her arms around Joseph as if he were a stuffed animal, Colette presses her forehead to his shoulder and exhales a heavy sigh. "I did a terrible thing…" Her voice is tiny, a little trill of a whimper squeaks out at the end of terrible and carries into thing. Small fingers curl into the fabric of Joseph's shirt, and Colette is left there in his embrace without a single sign of showing relent. When she looks up, green eyes are filled with tears. They really do look so might brighter than he'd imagined, clearer; like cut emerald. "I found him— " Colette's jaw trembles, "I found him and I had a gun…"

Choking back her words, Colette's face quickly finds itself back in the pastor's shoulder. "I'm so sorry," she whispers raggedly against him, her thin form trembling like a leaf caught in cold wind. "I'm so sorry." It's hard to truly explain what she's trying to get across to Joseph, what salient point is missing from her emotional break, but Jupiter seems to feel the young woman's discontent, ears folding back as he lifts his nose from his new friend's fur and takes a few huge-pawed steps over to Colette, nosing around at her thigh as if to say pet me and everything will be better.

For a moment, there's enough ice in his veins, or seems like it, that Joseph's hands holding onto the girl feel sharply numb. Blinking down the orange lit hallway, he remains still and receptive to the embrace for as long as she shudders her words into his shoulder, shaking in the circle of his arms before—

He doesn't move back, not entirely, just steers his hands to her shoulders. "Colette?" His voice is uncertain, without particular suspicion, dogs ignored as he pries her back a few more inches and ducks enough to try and meet tearful emerald eyes. "Honey, what do you— " Joseph knows. Not that Emile Danko ever told him about the gangly female youth he encountered somewhere in Midtown, with her gun in hand, but there are only so many options.

As much as he prays there are more than he knows. "It's okay, whatever it is, it's okay. Who'd you find?" A beat, and then, "Tell me." A little firmer, as if needing to hear it.

"Him." The words come out with great difficulty, lose behind the choked noises of strangled emotions. Swallowing back that piteous sound of guilt, Colette tries to squirm free of Joseph's embrace, even if only a little. Her cheeks and face are red, matching the pinkish hue around the edges of her watery eyes. Staring up at the pastor, she just shakes her head. "He— I thought you were dead." Colette's jaw trembles with each sylable offered, nose reddened and a sniffle-snort of restrained emotion barely keept in check. "I— I had to— what he did to you and Felix. What he— " She's ashamed and that much is clear. "I wanted to make him pay— I— " eyes wrench shut, and she just thumps her head against Joseph's chest.

"I couldn't do it." That's what she's sorry about. "I couldn't— I had him— I— " She's sorry she didn't commit murder. "I'm sorry."

Stricken, Joseph listens, silent, a hand dropping away from her to place against his own chest as if he might have to coax his breathing steady, or make his heart rate slow down. "Oh, Colette," he murmurs somewhere after that, unable to even concieve of the right thing to say as guilt ways down his tone of voice heavy. "Don't be, please don't be. I— " And from there he just holds her again, voice constricting small in his throat. His grip is less the protective, reassuring hold and more of a cling, now, his body other stiff and unrelenting.

When he next breathes in deeper, there's a catch there. "I couldn't either," is quietly spoken, voice disappearing in the largeness of the tunnel but heard by her. "I couldn't do it either. Colette, I wouldn't want you to do that, okay? Never would want you to do that. It's wrong. It would ruin you. I couldn't stand him doing that to you."

"We're already ruined…" The words are hissed out in response to Joseph's, and Colette looks up to him when she manages to squeeze the words out. "He— he did it on purpose. He said he let you live. He— he wanted to make us afraid, he— he did all of this to— to— " swallowing tensely, Colette barely knows how to form her rage into words, but it's more anger than sadness welling up inside of her now; somehow crying is still the best way to vent it. "I don't know what to do…"

The look in the young woman's eyes indicates a sense of aimless uncertainty. The coping methods for this sort of thing should be something she turns to her father to, not someone who's suffering like problems. Maybe in a way, Joseph's pain can be hers, or they can learn to move thorugh it together; or perhaps that's exactly what her delusional hope is.

"I'm— M'so sorry…" Those stumbling words aren't about not killing Danko when she had the chance, but more directed to Joseph. A personal resentment of her inability to fix the problem. Her teeth now pin her lower lip in place as part of a losing battle with the tremors of her jaw. One pale, warm hand comes up to rest on the pastor's cheek, checking to make sure this is him and he is alive.

Jupiter licks at her other hand, a whine coming from the old dog, ears folded back.

It is him, and he's still alive, and currently mute as he looks at her like he's looking through her. There's a terrible confirmation there, not one he hasn't heard before when Danko had asked him, quite simply, where will he go? Not back to church. Not anymore. Joseph withdraws, stepping back away for Colette's hand to slip free of his face, arms coming to huddled around his midsection as he glances down to the girl's dog, Alicia coming up like a furry shadow behind him where the backs of his legs catch against her flank.

Stops him from retreating completely, and he clears his throat. There's a long silence, there, but not enough of it so that Joseph's voice doesn't come out at a tremor, as much as he tries to make it steady. "You know what I told 'im? When he called me a coward for not killing him dead when we had him down here. I told 'im that no matter what he did to me, I wasn't gonna let him force my hand like that. Not like that.

"We ain't ruined. Not until we act like them. Do you understand me?" There's a brush of anger in those last four words, possibly misdirected, but it forces the fear shaking them pathetic out of his voice.

Even with distance now between them, Colette's hand lingers in the air, fingers curling against her palm before it lowers. Green eyes stare out at the pastor, her jaw still trembling as she listens to him. They had him. The notion is not lost on her, eyes wide in disbelief, but she of all people can't fault the Ferrymen for failure, not when she did the same thing. Anger plays out for a moment on Colette's face, anger mimicked in a moment of weakness that spills out from her in a fading of the colors around her, a desaturation of the concrete and the yellowed subway lights, making everything seem pulled out of an old film noir drama.

Her sneakers scuff across the concrete as she moves to clear the distance between herself and Joseph again, jaw still unable to stay steady, cheeks damp from crying. That hand comes up again, fingers brushing over Joseph's cheek as one weak noise erupts in the back of her throat, partly sad, partly piteous. A bittersweet smile crosses her lips, accompanied by the beginnings of a sob, one that is swallowed back behind the smile.

Colette rises up on her toes, nose to nose with Joseph, dark lashes shadowing green eyes, her kiss tastes like peppermint. Color starts to bleed back into the subway, the moment of weakness passed. They may not be ruined, but she at least is damaged, and this is the only way she knows how to express her emotions; words fail.

Everything in Joseph goes tense, from his spine to the hands coming to rest on Colette's upper arms, to his own quivering emotions locking down into a freezing numbness when a warm mouth seeks his. Ruined is probably a bad word, in that it implies injury that won't heal - damage does, and Joseph still is. Healing. When it breaks, there's a sound from the back of his throat, a huff of a chuckle that's dampened and choked, a hand resting high on her shoulder.

Angling his forehead against her temple disguises enough, the wetness caught up around his own eyelashes and the mottling of skin that comes with it. He watches out his periphery, the bleed back in of colour. When he lifts his head, he places a kiss against that spot at her temple, the brush of hair before stepping back. Whatever it is she tried to communicate—

Somehow seemed to be so. Guilt still twists around sick and it shows on his face, but he manages a quirk of a smile for her before regarding the rubble of the ground between them.

She's awkwardly silent too. Green eyes flutter shut in a blink that bats tears out of her eyes, and the back of her hand escorts them off of her cheeks as they roll down. Colette's expression is a mixed one, half a smile, somewhere a grimace is painted beneath. Green eyes meet Joseph's, if only fleetingly, before she too regards the area around her feet. "Sorry…" The words are breathed out, as if she'd been holding them in that whole time.

Colette continues to move, this time into a crouch, kneeling beside Jupiter and reaching out to rake her fingers through the fur at the top of his head. She leans in, resting her nose in his fur, green eyes peering up wide at Joseph, then to Alicia's shadow behind him. "What… are you going to do?" It's a very open-ended question, asked muffled by a large dog's neck.

"Me? What you need to do is quit apologisin'." He sounds good natured enough, but it's slogging through, and he keeps his eyes steered away from her's. Joseph's shoulders are curled forward, as if to guard against the cold, reaching a hand back to skritch Alicia's ears. "I… dunno, Colette. Changes every day, until I figure I can just stay how I am now forever." That was meant to be a joke, but it comes out so grim and hopeless that it probably isn't.

Not really. "I'll be okay. Danko's— he's arrested. He'll rot in prison for all I care. If he never knows guilt about what he done to me and the other two, to everyone, then he'll get what's comin' to him in the very end. Knowin' that— keeps me sane."

Bting down on her lower lip, Colette stares wide-eyed when mention of Danko being arrested comes to the fore. It's the first real confirmation she'd heard of it, outside of rumors among the Ferrymen. This, in a way, is closure to everything that happened over the last two months. Wringing her hands together, she rises up from her crouch and leaves Jupiter's side, advancing to Joseph only before remembering what her stride meant last time, and the small young woman arrests her foreward movement with a furrow of her brows.

"Rebuild." It's not a question, it's the young woman's attempt at an order, or an instruction. "The— your church. I— I'm helping rebuild some apartments on Roosevelt Island… It— " Green eyes wander around the subway tunnels, then back to Joseph. "You need… to take back what he took from you. My th— " She hitches on the word, eyes averting, "my therapist used to tell me that's— it's a good way to get over things." Things.

When those large green eyes bear down on Joseph again, Colette is taking another step forward. "We'll help. All of us." She's not even considering what he wants to do.

When he looks at her, it's not with renewed strength and hope for the future, but reluctance, sadness and apology. "I know," Joseph responds, hands gripping onto the hems of his coat, empty leash still dangling from that grip. Their voices catch on the space around them, curve echoes back into their ears, desolate and distant. "Kaylee offered to help me gather back the flock, too. I just dunno if— "

Not to confirm Danko's bragging, and Joseph halts his words before he offers the girl a smile. "Well. We can start with the building, can't we? No reason it should stay ruined." Not when someone else could do a better job than he did, are the unspoken words.

A faint smile creeps up on Colette's lips, it's a start. "She's the one who told me you're down here…" Pale fingers reach out for a moment, up towards Joseph, then curl in hesitation. She reaches for his shoulder instead, picking off a piece of lint clinging to a seam in the fabric, then brushes it off with a sweep of her hand. The young woman's smile grows a bit lopsided, and she looks back towards Jupiter. "I thought… Alicia could use a friend too." Too. "This is Jupiter, and… he's sort've my partner in crime. My… dad got him for me last year. He's an ex-cop." Colette's nose wrinkles, "The dog. Not— my dad he's— " one hand waves flippantly in the air, "he still has a job." Realizing her hand is still on Joseph's shoulder, Colette lets it jerk away a little too quickly, cheeks flushing a soft red shade before she takes a step back, leaning to the side to look past Joseph down the corridor, then flits those green eyes up to him.

"Do— you mind if I stay a little while, at least until it stops raining?" Not that she wants to leave, but it's obvious she doesn't want ot wear out her welcome any more than she might have. "I— I could use the company anyway."

His own face has gotten a little warm since, a steady climb of pink in his cheeks which could be attributed to the chill blowing through the tunnel. He whistles once, two tones that has Alicia padding on back over to get her collar attached to the leash with a snikt sound of metal. Joseph crouches, an awkward movement as if it pained him some, but does so that he can reach out his hands and give Jupiter the attention he deserves, scratching the ruff of his neck and behind his ears.

"She could use the company," Joseph agrees, glancing back up at her and using both big dogs nearby to lever himself back up. "Me too. Stay as long as you like. How're you at— " He lifts a hand, gestures around the ruined tunnel lit danger-orange. "At the less fancy Ferryplaces nowadays?" It's a subtle tease, remembering her wrinkle-nosing at the Hotel California.

Starts to walk, slow steps back down the ruined tracks and gravel.

Colette offers a lopsided smile to Joseph, falling in stride at his side and keeping equal pace with him, leaning her weight against his shoulder in a playful and teasing bump as she walks. "I… I've been staying at Flint's place, uh, for a little while." Her green eyes angle up towards Joseph with a hint of good humor in them. "Kaylee and I actually hung out there for a night after helping out on Roosevelt Island…" Then, as she enters that yellow-lit tunnel alongside her friend, she adds. "Did you know the kind of porn that guy has?"

Now she's just doing it on purpose.

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