Doctor and Prisoner


bella_icon.gif joseph_icon.gif

Scene Title Doctor and Prisoner
Synopsis Bella slips into Joseph's cell on the sly, requesting guidance of the sort only he can provide.
Date June 9, 2010

Staten Island Hospital

Joseph's cell.

There isn't much in the way of space, within this room — a cell, more or less, and it can be as clean and sterile as you like so long as it amounts to the same thing. Four walls being a medium average, a locked door, a self contained arrangement of fixed cot, the sink and the toil at the opposite end, and timeless light and malleable time. What space there is, Joseph is making poor use of it — where the cot meets the corner of two white walls is where he sits, back snug into it, legs curled, arms crossed defensively, posture poor.

Now and then, his hand drifts up towards where he would have expected twin crucifixes to dangle from a single silver chain — one chipped golden pendant, another one of silver and stained glass, both no longer than his thumb and only barely wider. Of course, they took this and replaced it with nothing, as opposed to clothing, where they took that and gave him a hospital gown.

He isn't injured, though. Nor was he the last time. There is no illusion of needing to seek treatment, here. In New York City, treatment seeks you. This is a bad joke.

Hasn't Bella seen this song and dance before?

From her vantage, taken from behind the black bulb of the surveillance camera, Dr. Sheridan gazes down at Subject J-1, one of her favorites. Cooperative, compliant, able to be reasoned with, not taken to self and other-risking escape behaviors (save for that once, but Bella holds herself responsible for giving him the chance). It's just a shame that, if she hadn't plucked up this one individual, she suspects the cavalry wouldn't have shown up quite as fast, and with quite as much force. For a pastor, Joseph sure has well armed and homicidal friends.

A dismissed guard and a quick flick of a switch later, and Joseph, though he doesn't know it, isn't being watched anymore. The camera is dead. This must be kept quick. Clack clack clack, Bella's heels move swiftly down to Joseph's cell. A swipe later, and the door clicks open. One step later, and Joseph is no longer alone. "Joseph," she says, dressed in clean white rather than the black he knew her best in, "Let me be the first to say I'm sorry."

When the door opens, there's a level of expectation cast towards it. Fear, too, but he's been waiting for someone to come, whether it be an armed guard, or an orderly bearing a tray of food, or— someone a lot like Bella, prim and proper and completely unfamiliar to look at. (A fevered dream imagining the quickest rescue mission ever, but— )

He doesn't get up, doesn't move to sit on the edge of the cot or even stand on introduction — all of these he might have done, even, except that her voice is familiar, the shapes of the words through to pleasantly female tones that he really only got to hear in his last few delirious moments of the Refrain testing facility. Black eyes go narrow as he studies her from across the room, apology standing awkwardly between them before he almost smiles.

Hidden as he brings hands up to rub at his face, as if willing himself to wake up. "Gosh. 'm almost relieved. Better the devil you know, huh?" His hands fold together, glancing back at her. "How sorry?"

"More than you are likely to believe," Bella says, tone extremely dry. She is not here for forgiveness. She wouldn't mind it, but she would never expect it. "Would that I could take credit for this, but this is not my doing. It's the people signing my checks. I admit that I would approach you if I had any confidence you'd remember this by the conclusion of whatever it is they have planned for you."

The psychiatrist takes a step further into the room, hands folding before her. "I don't know where any of this is taking us. I was hoping for some insight. Obviously you owe me more favors. But perhaps I can convince you that helping me might help you in turn."

Finally, Joseph pushes himself out from the little huddle in the room's corner he has going, bare feet finding the cool floor as he comes to sit at the edge of the cot — hand again anxiously snagging upwards, finding no chain and pendant to hook onto and fidget with. Instead, he restlessly links his fingers together, his grogginess clear as he swims his gaze back up towards her. "I dunno if I got much of a choice this time," he admits. Rescues seem like the kind of thing you run out of.

And they had been so efficient. It seems that the woman trusts that Joseph isn't about to attack her — and she would be correct. It's the same kind of logic that has him trust that he can at least ask; "Can you at least tell me if this is about Refrain? Because I can't, again." She doesn't look ready to play games.

Bella lifts her hands, "I can't claim to know the first thing about this particular project's inner workings, " she says, which is not entirely a lie, "I presume it has much to do with your ability. But Refrain? No. No. I walked as far down that path as was useful. Your saving angels will be disappointed to know that they ended my work just after I achieved my goals, and thus just before I was about to release you and your fellow subjects. A great deal of death, for no reason," she shrugs, "But as long as they are satisfied with themselves, I suppose."

Is she worried about her welfare? That camera is off, and she is a slight woman. But risk taking behavior is just one of her multiplying symptoms, "I'm not here for them, not for what they want. This is a personal call, and an offer to do what I can to see you out of here safely," once they are done with him, of course, "You're a pastor, and pre-cognitive. I need guidance, and I need vision."

Blank silence from Joseph probably communicates that he doesn't disagree, not exactly, but the parts where he does disagree— Colette and the handful of others transferred goodness knows where— aren't ones he wants to argue, not even with people he might love, let alone people he might even loathe.

His eyebrows go up at her bargaining request, silence filling the room like cement before a small, disbelieving huff of mirthless laughter flutters in his throat. "You don't exactly strike me as the fateful type, ma'am."

"I consider questions of fate to be a moot point, for the most part," Bella states, not even blinking at his laughter. He deserves what measure of power or resistance he can summon, she supposes. She take it in his position, "I don't particularly believe in free will, but the illusion is comforting. And on the off chance we can truly make choices, I'd rather be as informed as possible. And right now, I feel extremely under informed. I don't know where I am going, where this all will lead. So I want you to use your ability on me. I want to see what is coming, so I can at least make arrangements." In the words of doctor, speaking of a terminal patient. "And I want you to help me interpret what I see."

His hands stretch, fingers splay, from where his palms are braced on the edge of the bed, torso tipped forward. Joseph is shaking his head, overt refusal, but his words undercut it in the next breath. "I can do that. I can give you a vision but I can't interpret it for you. What means things to you won't mean the same thing t'me. I can't give you guidance, either — I think maybe we got too many fundamental disageements for spiritual advisements, don'tcha think?

"You need God. Maybe not as much as some, but you do, and if seeing His road could help— and hell. I want out. You'll do that for me? Really?"

Bella lifts a hand in a gesture of cessation, "Enough said," she says, "Let's not broach the topic of God." That will end in awkward silence at best. At worst… well… he's already agreed. She doesn't want to mess that up. She steps forward and extends the hand that was formerly lifted in denial. "I can't promise more than my influence allows. And it is limited in this matter. But what I have, I offer. I hope you can see the value in that."

"I have to." Joseph says this out loud, for the conversation's sake as well as his own, black eyes settling on her offered hand, brow tense and posture stiff. "Maybe— if you get me out of here, and you got questions— maybe we can figure somethin' out on the outside." It's not certain enough to be a part of the bargain, seeing as the result of this one is so murky that it might take Joseph's own ability turned inwards for him to properly predict.

Taking a deliberate breath in, Joseph lifts his hand and wraps it around Bella's more slender wrist, palm walm and clammy, the circle his fingers make firm.

This is all the warning she gets, from him.

The ground drops out from beneath her feet, and the unseen feel of Joseph's clasp on her arm is the only thing that grounds her in reality — everything else is too real, though she can only imagine she feels the solid chill of the icy tunnel she's shot through helplessly like a rattling penny in a pipe. There's just enough light for her to see the arc of the steep tunnel and the faint white and blue of the ice that it drills through, and how fast she's going.

Too fast.

Spilling out onto the floor of the laboratory, abrupt brightness searing her eyes, Bella might want to look back to see where the hell an ice tunnel is carved into a wall, but she does not — is unable to do anything but ride along with this other version of her, the one that interacts with this dreamscape constructed to represent a future.

Before her, lies files, papers, result receipts and things in her penmanship. Quickly, with only a darting glance upwards, these are gathered off the floor as silvery vapor of steam leaves her mouth in every breath out.

Getting onto her feet, Bella moves through the facility that has become her work space, but things have changed — things are older, in disarray, and there's an odd amount of frost that seems to make patterns on any given surface. Test tubes create glitter on the surfaces of benches and the floor, having splintered into too many pieces to count, crunching beneath her feet. The spiderweb patterns of cracks on dead monitors, the frost-patterns on windows. The place is empty, save for her, and the chill.

Moving for a hallway, one to lead to out, Bella levers open a door, only for the phonebooth inside, improbably, to reveal itself to her, with the receiver dangling off its chord. She has no impulse to pick it up, but she may recognise Deckard's voice gone tinny over the line. "Bella?"

There's a cracking sound beneath her, the same kind of ice-splinter one may imagine to hear when one steps down upon an iced over puddle of water. The world spins as she goes to turn to who may be confronting her.

But the present is only there, abruptly — Joseph's hold on her hand gone soft and comforting, and the sterile white walls around them.

The chill lingers, psychosomatic, on Bella's skin. Gooseflesh has risen all up and down her back, on her arms. She shivers a split second after she returns to the present. Three blinks, a woman waking. Her eyes refocus, on Joseph. She withdraws her hand. She nods. "I will do all I can for you," she says, trying to keep her tone even despite the shock of this, her first precognitive event. She's taken a variety of drugs, with the interest of one whose business it is to understand the contortions of consciousness. This was something wholly other. "Thank you. And again, I'm sorry. Know that, given the choice again, I wouldn't have taken any of you." True only with knowledge gained after the fact, and unmotivated by real remorse, but true nonetheless.

He can believe her, to a degree, hands now empty and curled upon his thighs, chin tucking in at a brief nod. "If you can— get me back my crucifixes too, if you get me out, I'd." You know. "Appreciate it." Joseph levers himself back to sit more fully on the cot, both for comfort as well as physically distancing himself from her. Knowledge of the future can be dangerous, in the wrong hands, and though her's had felt warm and female in his, he is reasonably certain that any implication that Bella is not a stone cold bitch is deception, no matter how unwilling the clue.

No offense.

Bella steps back towards the open door. When she goes, it will close behind her. Joseph will be alone again. That might be better. Whatever Bella saw cast a chill over her, and left her stony. So being a bitch would be the only missing element… if missing it could be called. "I know you would never say the same, and while these circumstances make it otherwise, in any other situation, I'd be glad to see you."

"You'll have to remind me about why," is Joseph's only parting sentiment — pragmatism mingled with his own brand of melancholic wryness that he didn't start cultivating since New York, but has certainly encouraged.

A fitting ending. The door swishes closed, parting them again. Doctor and prisoner.

Not that that was ever in question.

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