Deliver Me From Temptation


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Scene Title Deliver Me From Temptation
Synopsis Another Sunday, though today it brings conversation between pastor and parishioner. There's a vision given, as offer to participate in something more than preaching and discussion of mutual acquaintances.
Date June 21, 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.

"…book a boat to Staten Island, I don't exactly see why not."

Would be what's being said around the time Abby is meandering her way to the church. It won't be the first or probably the last time she's overheard some snippet of conversation revealing the backstage nature of what goes on at the Guiding Light to keep things going, and it won't be the last. The voices of Frita and Joseph sound amicable and echoing through the worship hall, the pastor leaning against a pew and the woman settling her hand bag back over her shoulder in readiness to leave.

"The only thing you have to worry about with Staten Island is Staten Island," Frita adds, taking out a cellphone when it buzzes inside the leather of her purse. "And maybe losing a few of the volunteers. But I'll see what I can do, and— " She shakes her head. "Get back to you on the couch. I don't want to know, do I?"

"You really don't."

Someone's going to Staten Island. That in and of itself is interesting enough. Not most people in the church would even think of doing excursions there to spread the word. They might find a gun in the face instead of a friendly greeting. Blue hair done up as conservatively as possible, even more so maybe to counter and make up for the fact that it is indeed neon bright glaring blue, the Defunct healer makes her way back into the church proper from her self imposed duties in the back. Likely doing the dishes and cleaning up after the meet and greets in the back.

There's something about his couch too. Only one she knows of is upstairs, in his office. So the rumor is. She has yet to ever be up there. There's a smile for Frita, friendly as always, and one for Joseph. Abigail eases down into her regular spot near the front, as opposed to her weekday spot in the back so she can wait for Joseph to be done talking to his current conversation partner.

Frita lifts a hand and waggles her fingers at Abby in a wave, though her focus is on the preacher. "I still think it'd be a good idea to check for a gas leak somewhere, but if you're sure— "

His hands raise up in a gesture as if to try and vanish the topic, only sparing Abigail a quick glance, preoccupied. "Completely sure. I was a construction worker in another life, you can trust me." It seems to make just enough sense to work, and that's that. A couple of niceties are exchanged, a hand squeeze, and the woman is heading on out of the church, heels clicking upon wooden floor when she steps off carpeting.

And so we have Abby. Blue haired Abby. Joseph can't help but glance towards that glaring colour, but he's been polite about not saying anything for this long that he's not going to start now. "We were thinkin' of directing the out reach next weekend towards Staten Island, considering all the fires goin' on down there," he feels fit to explain, stepping on over. "Well, I was. The others have some reservations, understandably."

"I can see if someone I know has a boat, so that it's not coming out of the church coffers. Might take a couple trips. I can probably see to some people who might be able to hover round the back and .. loom. So that folks don't get the wrong idea" Abigail shifts, making room for Joseph if he wants to sit. "But I can see how they have reservations. It's not exactly the safest place over there. That's where I was taken to" When she was taken, kidnapped, whatever you want to call it.

She noticed the look to her hair too. Everyone looked at it. Straight laced Abigail has bleu hair. "I drank too much. After something.. happened. Friend did it. I have to wait till she's back so that she can fix it." Sooo not mentioning the tattoo. "Gas leak in your office?"

He sits down when she shifts over, arms coming to fold relaxedly over his chest. The pews are infamously uncomfortable as wooden benches should be, but the way it digs into shoulder blades and attempts to flatten parts of you that should not be flattened is sort of comforting in other ways. The way familiar things are.

Joseph's brow furrows a little at her story, and if he had any kind of rebuke lined up, it's shattered to pieces at her simple question. There is a special place in hell for liars. "Nnno. Flint had to stay up there for a coupla days - came in soaked in gasoline, not much I can do about it now, besides throw out the sofa." Which, apparently, he's going to do. "But there you go. Charity has its, uh. Has its downsides. I've been to Staten Island a coupla times, almost got robbed on the way over, but we go where we're needed."

A beat, then, he tries, "For neon blue hair, it's not so bad."

Forget the hair. Flint. "As in Flint Deckard? As in… Is he okay? Why did he come here? I'm two feet away! Why didn't you call me Pastor Sumter? Blessed Lord in Heaven, please tell me he's not dying in some corner. Did you feed him? He needs high calories, lots of calories, Lord, Joseph, he's burning through them so fast. Please tell me he's okay" One slender hand comes to rest on his upper arm. "He was soaked in Gasoline, that does not bode well"

"Abigail— "

Joseph's tone is equal parts reassuring and flustered, a hand drifting to touch her's for a moment when it lands on his arm. "Come on, now, gimme a little bit of credit. He needed a place to recoup and hide out from whatever it was that was chasin' him, so rather'n draw attention I let him stay here for as long as he needed. Gave him food, tried to get him to eat somethin' so he could fix himself, and he went on his way when he was good and able."

He shakes his head. "I— he came here because I think Teo brought him here. They've both come here, before, so I guess— it was close by and discreet. And they— " A huff of laughter, somewhat sheepish. "An' they know I'm probably gonna be here at whatever hour, too. He's not dyin' on a street corner, don't worry."

There's palpable relief. He's fine, he will be fine. Thank the Lord, she'll say a thousand prayers later. "Thank you pastor Sumter. For giving him refuge,I know he's not the most easiest man to deal with. He's surly and grumpy and like as not, he'll bite bite his own nose off just to spite you but… " But he's a friend. "He's someone who I'm close to. Not just before he got given the Good Lord's gift" Her hand tightens are his hand. 'Sorry. For doubting you. I shouldn't have. But if he comes again. Just.. call me? At least, just to let me know he's surfaced"

"It was my mistake, I didn't— think 'bout the words comin' out of my own mouth," Joseph says. 'Covered in gasoline', for all intents and purposes, is alarming. He gives her a rueful smile and nods. "I can do that, didn't even cross my mind to or I might have done anyway. He needed somewhere comfier to go but— it's rare he ever accepts help, y'know? Didn't want to pass him off to someone else, after makin' a point before. Next time I'll be sure to let you know." Because there'll probably be a next time.

"He has a key, to my place. Maybe he just didn't want to alarm the people in the apartment building. But he shows up out of the blue." Blue. She gives a bit of a starting laugh at that. "He brought me home from my friends after I called him to come fix my hand. He just passed out on the couch, right there. Fell asleep as soon as the lights were out" Abigail smiles, one corner way up at that thought. "He's a gentleman. When he wants to be. But yes, next time" That and there's always a next time. She knows flint and so it seems, does Joseph.

"Can I ask you a question Pastor Sumter? It might sound strange, but, I have reason to ask it and it's curiosity, maybe more, that brings it about and it has nothing to do with Flint"

Gentleman might be stretching it, if the slightly raised eyebrow Joseph gives that phrase is to be an honest indication, but he steers his gaze forward instead rather than object. It's probably good that someone thinks so, rather then sick. Of course— that's a matter of what you know. Train of thought trundling along, Joseph is a little late, but only by a second, in going, "Mm? Yeah, of course."

"You said Teo had brought him here. Has Teo… talked to you beyond Flint. Did he ever…" nope, that's not the way to go about it. Abigail reaches up to scratch at her temple and look over at him. "I don't rightly do this all the time, you have to understand, I just started, officially" Her lips moue outwards then purse. "You know the underground railroad, right? Harriet Tubman and smuggling the blacks up north and across the border?"

Confusion shows in the expressive combination of eyes and eyebrows around the word 'officially', mind splintering off to jump to a couple of wrong conclusions before giving up and listening, sort of a halting way of thinking he's developed ever since he took up counseling. You don't assume what the end of the story's going to be, or why.

Joseph nods, once. "'course, yeah."

"Someone told me that you.. might be someone who would help, in that sort of thing. Only, instead of it being colored folks " Who still uses that word. Abigail obviously. "It's people who are gifted." yeah, she fails. She always fails at things like this. 'That you'd be needed in the future, someone they could lean on"

"So— what, you mean like a. A refuge, for Evolved people?" As pretty as gifts sounds, and as much as he himself is a creationist, the government shorthand for those that are gifted is one of those additions to the lexicon even Joseph has trouble avoiding, and there's a hint of annoyance even as he says the word.

"Pretty much. I helped out before. If they had some people passing through who were hurt, or just, stuff happened, they'd call me and someone would fetch me so that I could tend to hurts. If you're in need of temporary lodgings or, well I mean there's a great many reasons to come into contact with them, but, they help. I thought I'd offer you a chance, if you like, to talk to someone about it, if it interested you. If not, no one will think any the less of you. I'm sorry, I'm really bad at this"

An amused smile plays out on Joseph's face, breaking through the otherwise thoughtful look he'd been paying her words. "No, you're doing fine," he assures her. Doing what is left up to debate, as far as the pastor is concerned. "You're talkin' about— when people can't go to clinics or call the police, or if they don't trust them?" His mind flashes, mainly, to Teo preferring to drown on his own blood than risk arrest, or Deckard avoiding clinics— criminals, both of them, and she had mentioned—

"Teo's that someone, isn't he," he states. "Who told you this. He— he said he was some sort've Evolved activist, I don't know. I mean, I do what I can at least in this corner've America. Never pictured I'd be hiding people under the furniture— then again, it never seemed like a necessity. Not before."

"It's this whole other little corner of the world isn't it? It's like, standing in this seemingly perfectly fine room and there's people and they're standing around and talking and you get a glimpse behind the drapes in the corner or under the table cloth at what's under the table. But you don't know about it till.. someone tells you or you stumble across it. But that is it. They're, these people. They're there for those who need help but can't … go to the hospital because they're not ready to register, afraid to. They're like the red cross mixed with the Underground railroad for evolveds. If people need to hide, if they need to just disappear, they can help. They help them settle down elsewhere." Abigail shrugs a little, her shoulders moving up then settling back down against the pew.

"They don't rightly care what you've done, they'll help. It's not always big things, sometimes it's just like what you've done with Flint. Give someone a place to hide for a few days, let them recoup before they go off on their own again. These days, for me? It's making meals and getting them sent to the various places so that when folks end up getting company, they have hot meals and it's not some fast food unhealthy stuff. It's comfort food. Or just driving. Or there's supplies, they always need supplies"

As for who told her. "Teo. Teo told me that you might be interested. I gave your name already to the woman who tends to keep her finger on everything within it. You might get approached, if you haven't already. They're good people. Really good people. They've helped me a few times. If I needed to disappear for a bit. Still help. Heck, one of them is helping me learn to use computers proper. But I can give you the name, and a number to call if'n you want"

He's quiet as he listens, an arm coming to hook over the back of a pew and head tilted a little, trying to comprehend the concept of what she's describing. And of course it appeals to him, appeals to him in the same way it appealed to him to preach the value of Evolved people form the pulpit, as much as such blatancy might make the senior pastor want to shake sense into him. He'd probably be doing that right now, could he hear this quietly spoken discussion.

So maybe it's for the sake of Pastor Ashby's words of warning and such cautions that Joseph descends into silent hesitation. Then, eventually, "I'd just be another set of hands, but I figure— it would be nice, at the least, to be able to tell those that come t'talk to me about bein' gifted, registration, that there's places they can go. Other's that'll listen to."

A pause, and he gives her a quick smile. "Lemme think on it?"

'We're all just another set of hands." Abigail's quick to point out. "But think on it, please. Even if that's all you'll end up doing, it's better than not yes?" Her own hands are settled on her lap, forefinger picking at her thumbnail, worrying at it.

'So, other than harboring Flint when he shows up to destroy your couch, how are you?"

Joseph nods once in agreement, and then gives a soft snort at her comment. "I'm fine. Just getting used to life in New York City. Raquelle and Flint're both kind of a trial by fire," he adds, tone surprisingly dry humored. "How 'bout you? Any— you'd've told me if there were any luck on your ability, wouldn't you."

"I Think everyone would be hearing it. You'd be hearing of people on the street just being touched" But alas, from the looks on her face, the downturn of lips and shake of her head though, that it hasn't. "Nothing yet. There's hope. I guess that there's people that I know, that I've helped, and they swear that they have someone who can undo what it is that Tyler Case did. Can give me back what our Heavenly Father put in Flint's hands: She shrugs again, lightly. "Flint can be fixed too, but he refuses, he won't until I'm fixed first"

She frowns at that. Not understanding Flint's reasoning. "I haven't heard anything else, but Teo tells me the same. Was Teo who told me first. I'm just waiting now. But if I've waited this long, hoping that it would, that it could be given back as the good Lord sees fit… "

"If He's sent someone to do such a thing, then I'm sure it's only a matter of time," Joseph assures, mind still running wheels about the words she'd said just prior even as he tries to concentrate on her dilemma. "In the meanwhile— if you'd like to get ahead of the curve, you know to ask, right? I've been settling back into it, since the— since what happened with my ability. Seems to be workin' okay now."

"Is it? That's, that's good. I know you weren't getting any yourself now, that it was back to normal in that regards, but…" She's tempted, very tempted and after a few moments, up snakes her palm, held out to him to take. "Be nice to see if I turn my hair back to blonde yes? Or maybe it'll be green next." It's her terrible tries at joking. "Sorry. Sorry, again. I have a very poor sense of humor at times. Bad at making jokes. Guess I didn't ask before because I was just so het up with my problems and I know that others come to you and that, you need a break from being god's Conduit at times"

Joseph smiles at her, and clasps his hand around her's. "You're not wrong," he says, a little ruefully. "There's responsibility in it. Stopped advertisin' it so much in sermons just for that, but we'll see. I'm of the mind that knowledge doesn't hurt. Lack of knowledge hurts just as easy. It's about what you do with what you know, what you don't know. And that ain't somethin' I can be responsible for."

He shakes his head, and wraps his other hand around her's, clasping on either side. "Don't mean to talk your ear off. Here, close your eyes."

"I Don't mind. The talking off of my ear. Not like I got much of anything else to do these days. All that time I used to spend healing, I gotta fill it with something else" But his hands are warm, and she nods. Her shoulders rise as she inhales deeply, preparing herself for the vision to come. Close her eyes, anchor them down and relax. After a few cleansing breaths and she's suitably prepared, there's a softly murmured "ready" from the blue haired woman. "Lets see what God has planned for me"

And without further ado, Abby finds herself with open eyes once more, looking past the present— even looking past the future, into an abstract world of symbols.

The Midtown Ruins will at least be familiar, standing in the center of a broken street with desolate, gutted buildings yawning up on either side. Broken windows stared like eyeless sockets into nothing and the sky above her is a dome of indefinite grey. It's as empty as the ruins should be, but then the sound of humming fills her ears.

The dream entity that Abby rides with turns smoothly around towards where a woman is kneeling on the concrete, her hands digging nails into the broken up asphalt. She's peeling back the shattered chunks, revealing fertile earth beneath them, black and rich as any rain forest. The woman is unfamiliar, with long brown curling hair waterfalling down her shoulders, her skin tan. Her clothing is bohemian and whimsical, and her feet are bare and her hands are dirty from her work.

Finally, she presses her hands against the ground, and a flash of white light seeps through it, before she's getting to her feet, and stepping back. In the middle of the street, a sapling of a tree grows in high speed from the uncovered earth, sprouts branches, leaves, become bushier and starkly verdant against all the concrete. Red kisses of fruit bloom amongst the greenery, and there's the sound of birds already nesting within the branches.

The woman smiles to Abby, and lifts a hand, plucking down an apple from a branch and silently stepping forward, hazel eyes fixed forward. The apple is bright red, ripe and shining like something from a fairytale. But there's something wrong - a green snake has curled around the woman's slender wrist like a scaly bangle, tongue flickering, moving towards the apple and winding around.

The last thing Abby sees is the reptile's minuscule, glassy eyes, before the self-imposed blackness of her shut eyes descends once more.


That. That is an odd vision. She finds herself humming along, or trying to, with whatever it is that the Bohemian woman conjures up. It's a strange sight, this woman who's bringing back life to the ruins. It brings a smile to her face that Joseph can see, just not the cause of it though. The smile plastered across her face all the way up until the woman is offering apple and it's slithering compatriot. A tale from the bible, one that anyone who hasn't even picked it up knows. When the darkness sinks into being once more and it's the back of her eyelids that she see's as opposed to Josephs ability conjured scenes, she opens them, regaining her bearings. What he showed her… It doesn't seem like it was all that good after all.

A pause, waiting for Abby to seem like she's ready to rejoin the world and no longer needs an anchor before he loosens his hands from her's. "Hopefully that made some sense," Joseph says as he rests his arm again over the pew's back, tone noncommittal as ever. He recalls her confusion for the first time she'd gotten a vision from him, and a black, searching gaze studies her blue one.

"He doesn't make it easy does he?" Her head is thumped backwards, base of skull connecting with wood while her eyes are cast upwards, towards the ceiling and possibly to what is beyond. "Made some, and none. If that was about my … I have to stop calling it Mine, it never was. It that was about the gift…" She bites down on her lower lip, brow furrowed and then launches into a description of what she saw, what he gave her. Everything that she could remember about it. Slender fingers grip the edge of the seat bench while she relays it to the Pastor. Get his thoughts.

And of course he listens, and afterwards is silent. It's relatively simple, in comparison to other more complex tales someone might receive, depending. Eventually, Joseph says, "When my ability was goin' on the fritz— that thing you said? About letting it come around without fighting it? I started seein' stuff that— I mean it was confusing, sure, but they were things close to me. I saw my wife, I saw places, all tryna gather together to tell me somethin'."

His fingers rap against the pew a little, thoughtful, before continuing. "I think the more open to what you're about to see, the closer to your heart it'll be. The Bible's close to yours, I know that, and I think we both know that that's somethin' like the oldest story there ever was. Point is— when you want it to, it'll try and strike a chord in you, one that makes sense. I'd say— you should go with what your heart tells you it could mean. If you want my opinion though— "

Joseph breathes out a sigh, offers a smile. "Sounds like something of a warning. A gift that's not really a gift at all, or advice to steer clear of temptation because somethin' could happen that you'll regret. No, He doesn't make it easy."

There's so much temptation out there right now. In many forms to boot. She stares up at the ceiling, running those variations through her mind, calculating, weighing. "Warning. We can both agree that it's a warning. Eve and Adam, cast from the Garden of Eden for eating from the tree of Knowledge. The serpent who goaded her to eat it" Slender shoulders shrug again. "Guess it's not as confusing as a bird flying over sand and Eileen scrambling away from me and telling me No. Or well, it really might be that literal" Another shrug before the blue eyes transfer from the ceiling to the pastor in question. "Sometimes, Pastor Sumter, I could do with Easy." Heavy sigh.

"Has anything you've seen come about?"

"I imagine it's easier for prophets who see for only themselves," Joseph says, with a faint smile. "When it's somethin' the world can share, then— there has to be obstacles, I guess. To keep things at a balance." His fingernails find the ridges in the wood of the pew, absent fidgeting, and his eyebrows go up at her question, shoulders lifting as he draws in a breath, sighs it out.

"Some of it. It's how I found Flint— this one time, and Teo, too. When he got hurt— he's alright, now— it's how I knew to look. Strangest thing, he had two faces— you know much about mythology? There's a Roman God like that, that's how it struck me." His hand comes up to scratch his jaw, shrug. "Figure it's 'cause he's Italian. There was also one that helped me not get robbed by pirates— jumped off the boat before they could."

Very exciting. His smile is a little sheepish, fades some as he adds, "Lot of it was pretty confusin', still. But I got my notes and recordin's in case they ever make sense sometime."

"That's cause it's not Teo at the steering wheel Pastor Sumter. I mean, it's him, but it's not. Someone told me that it's someone that has access to his memories and the like but… There's just some things, right, that aren't, you just can't, you would think, be able to copy. He really is two faces." She ever so easily and without anger or any other negative emotion that it might have been served with if it had been Sal opposite Sumter. "They think someone body jumped him. I've met a few in my time here so far"

Abby gets rapidly blinked at as she unfolds that particularly mystery, one Joseph hadn't thought was so very mysterious, but well— what does he know. "Goodness," he says, bewilderment obvious. "I— suppose it's a stretch to say I should've guessed but— Lord. I should have said somethin' to someone instead've write it off. He didn't even have much to say when I— I mean he acted like Teo, but I'd only met him once… Is he okay?" Extracting himself from his more self-centred flusteredness, Joseph levels a look at Abigail, a few notches below her reaction to Flint covered in gasoline, but just as earnest. "The real Teo, I mean."

"Real Teo, I dunno. Current Teo says he is. He's doing something and I don't know whether it's for the good or the worse, time will tell. I know that when whatever is happening is over, that Teodoro is going to have a lot of cleaning up to do with the mess that the… current one has left behind. If it makes you feel any better, I walked right into my home and he was already in, playing with Teo's bird. He helped me put away groceries even and talked. Promised me that there was a way to get Gods gift back. Heck, he even helped me to get a friend to safety that needed hiding so…" Soo… "If you see Teo again. Just.. give him the benefit of a doubt?"

That relaxes him a fraction, but uneasiness is still present, the confused kind that usually has Joseph backing away from the issue entirely. "Alright," he agrees, opting to believe Abigail over his own worry. "Just— you be careful, then. I think— he's gettin' involved in some things that he shouldn't be. He told me he was framed for some things, and I found him— covered in blood, with a gun in his hand. Almost shot me 'til he realized I was tryin' to help. So be cautious, and I'll put some faith in him in turn."

"That.. that sounds like him normally" Abigail smiles, oddly, at that. Framed for some things.. sounds like maybe you met the real Teo when he had control of himself, as opposed to whatever was hopping a ride. But I'll be cautious none the less Pastor, I promise. Just don't let on to anyone, or Flint if you see him again, that I've been on contact with him?" There's a glance to her watch and then a widening of eyes. "Heavens, I've stayed here too long, I should go Pastor Sumter. I've still got other things to get done today instead of sitting here. Not that I'm not enjoying just sitting here"

"I can do that," Joseph says, before he's rising out of his seat, stepping so that she can move past him. "Look— the way I saw the faces, I figured— it meant he was either going to die or live, that he had equal chance of either, and had you seen 'im at the time, you'd agree. One of the faces was, uh. Dead, is the thing." He fidgets with one sleeve cuff, and shakes his head. "And if I misinterpreted the first time— I don't know. It's passed, anyway, come to be. Might not mean anything. But maybe you should— maybe Teo's the one, whichever of them, that should be cautioned."

He clears his throat, offers her a fleeting smile. "Have a good day, Abigail, and take care."

There's a bag to be fetched, even as she's moving past the pastor, listening to him with a nod. "I've had some people, who think I'm crazy for believing that what you give, what the lord gives through you, is nothing more than what.. will likely never be. But yours have come to pass and the one you gave me before came to pass. Not down to the details but it came to pass none the less. I'll caution Teo and his occupier. I'll let him know. God bless Pastor Sumter. If I see temptation between now and when we next meet, I'll let you know" She reaches out, laying her hand on his shoulder so she can give it a gentle squeeze, making the effort at physical contact. "Thank you"

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