Friends Nor Enemies


deckard_icon.gif joseph_icon.gif

Scene Title Friends Nor Enemies
Synopsis Something gets in the way of either. After spending a couple of days at the Guiding Light after his attack and ruining Joseph's couch, Deckard tells him a little more about himself.
Date June 19, 2009

Guiding Light Baptist Church: Joseph's Office

Joseph is going to need a new couch.

The old one is occupied by six feet of Flint Deckard and then some, gasoline stench soaked into the cushions in the company of such esteemed compliments as whiskey, stale blood and the scent of a guy whose been marinating in all three for a couple of days now.

He's still in his jacket beneath the ratty stretch of a dubious-looking donated blanket, cold despite long since having dried out in the warmth of Guiding Light. The circles blacked in around his eyes are stark against the pale cut of brow and cheek bone angled above and below, but he looks more alive than he did yesterday, and yesterday he looked — well. More or less the same as he did when Teo dragged him in here. Fortunately, as with many newly acquired pets, Deckard has spent the vast majority of his time so far sleeping hard, if not all that soundly. He wakes up often, seized by panic that's smothered out of the gasp of his wheezy breath with all the urgency that is to be expected of humiliation. Don't look.

When he's not sleeping he's eating. When he's not eating he's reading. When he's not doing that he's probably — being hidden hastily under a quilt or pissing into a bottle or something. Maybe we should stop there.

Currently he's frowning dimly at the bandaging wound around his left hand, bony fingers stiff and purple in their curl away from the worst of the damage. The intact hand he has remaining pushes hazily up through the bristle around and beneath his jaw. Where is the distinction between laziness and 'beard,' exactly?

New York has been a bunch of firsts for Joseph. So it might be strange that this isn't the first time he's harbored something of a criminal within the simple confines of the Guiding Light. At least this one isn't dying, although at some points, it's hard to tell. Keep the lights on, Pastor. Safe harbors and voices of reason will be needed. These dangers I see, they exist. That had been the woman's words a moment after she'd squeezed a vision from Joseph's hands, and perhaps even "Joan" would be startled to realise how true her statement would be not so many hours afterwards.

The door creaks a little on its hinges, only around the initial moment once the handle twists and after that, gliding open the rest of the way, showing off a slice of hallway before Joseph hastily hides it from view, or— the other way around. Hides his office from view.

He's kept the fact that this is stressful to himself, or as best as he can. It likely leaks out now and then in fretful urges for Deckard to hired, repeated and needless instructions to be quiet, fidgeting hands and nervous glances towards the door, but he's managed to keep a lid on any real urge to make him leave. Joseph doesn't want him to. He just doesn't want to be fired.

Wearing layers of pastel and beige fabrics as he's want to do, Joseph shuffles into his office with a glance towards Deckard and a tight smile. In his hands, a paperbag with grease splotches on the bottom, and backpack which he sets down close by. "Got you some clothes, food." And then he looks towards the damaged hand, only fleetingly before's focusing himself on taking off his coat. "How's your hand?"

"Purple." Sleeping, reading, eating, drinking, pissing. Something Deckard has not been a lot of doing is talking. The rough of his voice cracked like dry mud, coarse and grey as the rest of him, quick to crumble when he props an elbow under his own back in the start of a sit. "Don't worry," he tapers off into a wheeze with the effort, teeth grit into a grimacing smile set after the example of the empty skulls he's spent so much time peering at over the last decade, "I jerk off with the other one."

Charming, that this should be the first complete sentence he's managed to grate out since he's been here. Potentially preferable to keeping his back turned and his eyes focused elsewhere in search of unlikely privacy for the time they've spent in here together over the last two days. It's really not that big of an office. And he smells.


He does smell. Both that fact and the man's words cause Joseph's mouth to form a line of some disapproval, but he's good at this. The suffering in silence. So he says nothing, and that expression gentles a little at that one-worded reply to his gestures of hospitality, giving a nod as if to dismiss it. The scent of fried goods is now added to the aroma of the office - a hamburger, fries, something a couple of notches above McDonalds at the very least.

The office chair creaks— everything in this place seems to creak a little, from the stairs to that one spot outside in the hallway and it does nothing to reassure Joseph, really— as he sits down. He's going to make epic use of a bottle of Febreze when all is said and done.

"If, uh. If you need someplace to go for a little longer— or to hide out— my apartment might be more comfortable for you," comes the stilted offer, Joseph manages to bring about his gaze to settle it on the other man, brow furrowed, and hopes that sounds more like generousity than anything else. The next words come out hurried and close together, crowded and somewhat fretful as he glances against to that hand. "I should drive you to a clinic at least, you can't let somethin' like that just— " Hand gestures fill in the void of uncertainty, not sure what injured limbs do when left untreated. Fall off, maybe.

"I'm wanted for multiple murder." Drive him to a clinic, and this will be the last hamburger he gets to eat until he goes to hell and has to deal with stack upon stack of them where the drivethru guy heard wrong and put mayo instead of mustard. And no onions instead of extra onions.

The sink and expansion of his ribs against his bloody shirt slows and eases somewhat once he's settled his back at an angle against the arm rest behind him — the hole snared into his side by Feng's last shot healed first. Probably the main reason he's still alive to be sitting here intently plucking soggy tomatoes off of hamburger meat and letting them fall limply back into the bag in his lap. What was he saying? Oh.

Murder. Suddenly aware of the fact that he hasn't actually mentioned this specificially before so much as he's alluded to it in various capacities, Flint rolls cold eyes back onto Joseph, pale blue bright against shadowy sockets while he holds his burger.

Joseph is sitting upright and still, much like one might imagine a student (probably one a lot like him) to have done in a classroom. Allusions are different. Allusions you can skirt around, keeping your morals and ethics raised aloft and pass on safely by. His hands are clasped together in his lap and his gaze breaks and goes downwards when Deckard swivels his gaze back on over to the pastor, who clears his throat a little needlessly and sits back in his chair as if someone had cut his puppet strings.

A hand drifts up to rub just beside an eyebrow, as if a headache were starting there. "You— " Oh, okay. Guiltiness that maybe he's leaping to assumptions stripes some red across Joseph's face and beneath his skin. His brow furrows a little more in effort process this information, of finding some trace of optimism. "You're wanted for murders, not that you…"

Rickety and undead, still too weak to sit up most of the way, Deckard watches Joseph without blinking. It's easier when he's looking away, even if he is still rusty when it comes to reading the subtleties of human expression without being able to see the heart rate pulsing fast or slow behind it.

He holds the burger because that's what he was doing before the subject got broached, as lifeless and limp as the hangdog sag of his shoulders beneath his ruined jacket. Patches of grey on either side of his chin bristle back into darker grizzle at the back of his jaw; slate and silver stand out in the dusty brown of his hair now that it's had time to dry. He looks like a corpse. One that is resigned to the realization that he and Joseph are probably not actually friends in the sense that complete honesty is the ideal, here. "No." There's a papery crinkle when he prods aimlessly at the bag in his lap with his free hand, chilly eyes drawn to manufactured distraction. "Not the ones I'm wanted for."

Hope goes up, abstract and fluttery, and gets dragged back down by Deckard's carefully tailored words, which mostly leaves aggravated confusion in its wake. Joseph's turn to study the other man when the older one drops his eyes downwards, and there's really not much to read save for what his ordeal and uncomfortable living conditions thereafter have done to him. Which perhaps isn't much variation to the way he's been living for a little while now.

And that doesn't tell him very much either. An uneasy silence seems to seesaw between them for a moment, enough that Joseph feels forced to break it even if he has nothing to say, which he doesn't, so clears his throat a little. A beat, then, words come out with stilted, zigzagging verbs, "You can't do— you can't help your hand yourself? Healing, I mean."

It's an attempt. He's usually better at deleting words as they come. Let us see how long it lasts before attempts to change the conversation will be played off by keyboard cat.

"I don't have any energy. It — can't just happen on its own. It's a biological process. God doesn't reach down Himself and…" do whatever God does. Heal the blind and cure the lepers and banish the demons. That said, Deckard doesn't look all that interested in his burger anymore, even going so far as to slump it halfway into the greasy bag where cold fries are leaning awkwardly away from the uninvited intrusion of slimy tomato slices.

"I need a shower." Random. He looks like crap. Feels like crap, pain written through the fuzzy lines around his mouth in tracks already growing deep in their familiar passing. Crinkle. The bag is pushed away, possibly to be remembered later when and if hunger swings a pick back into his gut. If he's still here. The way he's eyeing the stretch of floor between the couch and the door, he may not be.

"How's your head?"

"Haven't had a vision since." The pastor's voice is quiet, distracted, but his hand does absently wander back towards where his skull had been cracked, itching the tips of his fingers through dark hair. "Been givin' 'em out okay, thanks for asking. Um. If you want, we can go by my place when it's darker and you can. Shower. It's not far. Car's behind the church. From there…" Joseph trails off. Deckard can do what he likes, being the silent implication.

He takes a breath, and adds, "You should eat, get back your energy. God helps those who help themselves." And the chair shifts a little as he lists to the side a little, unable not to continue with; "And when you say 'not the ones you're wanted for', what does that mean?" He tried.

"Okay." He's been here for too long already. Going along with the offer because it's there, he fails to manifest real enthusiasm for the prospect of leaving. No more than he can manage for the prospect of staying, anyway.

Trying to follow directions in general, he tips his chin back down after the desolated burger, flat and uneven in its dreary poke from the bag. Joseph's request for elaboration doesn't take him by surprise. An accordian-wielding gorilla smashing in through the door in a jaunty cap would probably not surprise him at this point. "Teo's the only one that knows about the other ones." The topmost bun is tipped back, then dropped down again. Tipped back, dropped down. Tipped back. "Back in November…December, maybe. I don't remember. There was snow on the ground. A guy who makes predictions told me I would have to pose as a tugboat captain and get myself taken prisoner on purpose. Hooked me up with fake identification. Everything."

The entire burger is pushed back into the bag, hunger definitely having left him. The bag holds his attention all the same, brown and battered and stained. "When I got to the docks, the guy I was supposed to be was already there waiting. The stakes were high and I'd already screwed up so much…" his mouth works into a private slant, preoccupied with pieces and parts of hazy memory shambled back together with scotch tape and rubber cement. "I shot him. Threw him in a dumpster. Cleaned up the mess. He probably lived for a while." Probably. He hadn't cared to look. "The others came later. Some chop-shop Doctor on Staten paid me to off vagrants and carve out their organs for transplants. I dunno how many I actually did. Five or six, at least."

The story gets Joseph's rapt attention, shock worn on the inside, and pity too, but it's the shock that bleeds out when it comes to a conclusion and that little epilogue is tacked on. There's the strange feeling of his lungs feeling too large for his chest, breath catching shallowly and knowing a sense of nausea, because sure, he believes Flint. "It's… it's n-none of my business," Joseph stammers out, apology and dismissal wrapped up in his words. "I'm sorry that you— "

Uh, killed people? Felt sad and then killed people. Joseph rubs his hands together, restlessly. "Flint," he sighs out, and then finally drags his gaze back on over towards the other man. "Are you…? You're not any more, right? You— wouldn't tell me if you were." There's conflict in his voice, as if he's not really sure that makes it okay.

"Nobody's ever asked. It's…" It is what it is. Was what it was. "Teo thinks I'm sick. …The old Teo. I dunno what the new one thinks." Important and baffling distinction there. His head shakens in vacant dismissal, both of the apology and the question.

"I shot a guy last week — week before. The guy that took Abby had taken someone else and we went to get her back." We, her. Non-specific pronouns pepper his answers like birdshot, hinting at people he doesn't want to incriminate. Or multiple personalities. You decide!

Paper sack abandoned, he fumbles idly with the edge of his blanket, persistently juvenile in his avoidance of eye contact. "I'm helping people, now. I'm trying to."

It might be good news from Flint— and bad news for Joseph— that the immediate thought isn't insanity. Generous, too, all things considered. Teo could be wrong about him being sick but then, Joseph knows they're friends. He'd perhaps ponder over old Teo and new Teo more if he wasn't still digesting this information, unable to contain his unease. Although he's the one more capable of making eye contact in this room, so.

Helping is a lot different from killing. They might even be polar opposites. Joseph nods a little numbly, and says, "Well you. You got that power, now. If that's not a sign then I dunno what is." And a fleeting smile that's as genuine as fire is hot, but flickery, battered at by doubt.

And his hands come up to rub wearily at his face, and gives a muffled, despairing chuckle. Joseph is hiding a murderer and lying about it and there's a lot of justification and moralising he can do, has been doing, but— well. "Thanks for telling me," he adds, through his hands before they fall away. "I think."

Good things do not happen to Deckard very often lately. He shrugs off the idea of it being any kind of sign with sheer absence of acknowledgement, long face turned down and away until he's settled gradually back into a horizontal sink into the much abused couch.

"Thanks for not throwing me out." Or panicking. Or calling the cops — although. His eyes tick over in the direction of the phone, unconsciously calculating. Still plenty of time for that.

A fleeting check for thoughts along those lines scrapes sidelong over Joseph's face, weighing brows against black eyes and raised hands.

Hands smooth around to the back of his neck and grip there for a moment, spine curved, elbows against knees in a comfortable slump, studying the carpet in consternation before Joseph is looking back up when he feels himself under scrutiny. "Y'welcome," he says, voice still stilted, a precarious balance between wavering doubt and the attempt to hide it for the other man's sake. The phone isn't occurring to him immediately.

It probably should, in all honesty. "I don't know why I don't," Joseph states. There's some brutal honesty, although his tone is anything but brutal. "I should. I'm meant to protect my church from— " His eyes shut, a brisk head shake. He doesn't want to say 'people like you'. "But I guess'm not sure who the enemy's meant to be anymore."

His hands drop again and he sits back in his chair. "I guess what I mean is that it— used to be easier, and I'm not gonna kick you out." A pause, and then, "Though come Sunday it'd be a big help if I didn't have to stash you some place for service," he admits, with a rueful twist of a smile.

"I'll go somewhere else tonight. After I shower." Back to Staten maybe, blankly unaware of the fact that it's on fire. Or Midtown. Only it's dark there and healing hands provide little in the way of navigation.

Doubt is something Deckard has heard in voices before. From his parents, when they were alive. From counselors in prison. From people he's dated or befriended or associated with in the years since then. He can't really make himself be offended, even if recognition of the sound of it tugs down at the corners of his mouth and etches thin across his brow. His face turns down again, back to oxygen deprived fingers and crisp bandaging until he's tucked them out of sight beneath his blanket and shouldered over onto his side to face the back o the couch, jacket rustling. "Wake me up when you're ready to go."

And Joseph feels some guilt, as ridiculous as it is, and he knows it's ridiculous in the way his eyes roll upwards towards the ceiling as Flint turns away. He shouldn't have to feel guilty! There's nothing to feel guilty about! But it's as a part of him as anything else, and his mouth forms a line again as Deckard goes to bury himself beneath blankets, to show the pastor his back. "Well— " Joseph snorts softly, and gets up off the chair, picking up the discarded fast food bag and crumpling it a little. It's cold, by now, and picked apart by fidgeting hands. He'll have to get something else.

"You'll eat somethin' before you go," he informs the older man, going for matter-of-fact, bringing up a hand to scratch the back of his own head uncertainly, before headed for the door. Allowing for a couple of hours worth of sleep before Deckard goes wherever Deckards go.

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